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Best Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup Recipe

February 28, 2011

Chef Mavens Best Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

Chef Mavens Best Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

When it rains, it pours… This week started off with a bang, first I had to go to traffic court for a ticket that was dismissed (awesome!) yet still had to wait for yet another visit form the heating guy to fix my boiler (yet again!).

While this was happening, I needn’t worry too much as I had made a very easy and quick Cream of Mushroom soup over the weekend and was reheating this delicious and easy to make vegetarian soup up for lunch which was divine on this super rainy day.

Over the weekend I had stopped by my now favorite grocery store called Adam’s Fair Acre Farms Grocery Store. Going wild, I selected with care, loads of fresh mushrooms knowing all the while exactly what I was to make with them.

You see, I had recently purchased one of those ‘blender sticks’ so make the soon to be ‘creamiest’ cream of mushroom soup I had ever made in my life. What resulted was sheer fantasticness… ok I know that’s not a real word, but heck – this is an easy soup to make and the next time you see that your local grocery store has mushrooms on sale – go for it!




Best Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup Recipe:

This recipe yields roughly 6 cups of awesome goodness and earthly cream of mushroom soup. By using a variety of mushrooms, your soup will be extra earthy and delicious more so than if you used just one type of mushrooms.


  • 4 to 5 cups of sliced mushrooms – all sorts. I used shitake, portabella, crimini, oyster & white button mushrooms. Simply clean with a damp towel, then slice them up stems and all. Nothing to waste here… If you are using the parge portabellas – don’t forget to remove the ‘gills’ located on the underneath side of the mushroom.=
  • Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of ‘Better than Bouillon’ Mushroom Base (or a Vegetable Base if you can’t locate the Mushroom Base Bouillon)
  • 1 medium sized onion – chopped fine
  • 2 long celery sticks chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves – chopped/minced fine
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil & 1 or 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 cup light cream or half n half
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 1 tablespoon or more of fresh chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish

And what’s Better than Bullion? Well if you haven’t heard of it yet – here’s a resource link to learn more. Most grocery stores will carry the beef, chicken and vegetable. Don’t be afraid to approach your store manager and ask for other types (say the lobster or mushroom)  – That’s what the store manager is there for!!!

To learn more about this product, you may click here: – and if you look around on this site, they even carry organic bases – now that’s service!


Large deep soup pot with lid
Blender/Food Processor or Blender Stick

Place mushrooms to cook in the soup pot


  1. Add the olive oil to the soup dish on medium heat. Add onions and stir. Cook onions till semi-translucent  – roughly five minutes.
  2. Add chopped celery and minced garlic, stir and let cook for another five minutes.
  3. Now add remaining mushrooms including stems to pot. Add fresh squeezed lemon juice to pot. Add additional olive oil if needed. And the mushroom base bullion. Cook stirring occasionally for at least five minutes.
  4. Now add 1/2 cup of the water and let cook for another five minutes.
  5. Add flour and stir. You will want to cook the ‘flour’ just a bit before adding the remaining wet ingredients (except for the sherry, butter & light cream/half n half – that all happens when you are about to serve up the soup)
  6. Add milk to the pot and additional remaining 1/2 cup of water. Stir and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Soup should thicken once it starts simmering. Remember to stir so that the rue you created with the flour doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot, but instead thickens up your soup.
  7. At this point, you can either use your blender stick – or let cool slightly before putting portions of your soup into either your blender or food processor. Pulse at first, and be careful if soup is still hot – hot steam wants to escape, and this is especially true when using a blender. I have been known to remove that little center round button on the top lid of the blender, then cover that hole with a clean dish towel – and with keeping hand on it before starting to pulse to allow some of the steam to escape and not make a complete mess of my kitchen. You may have seen chefs do this on TV…
  8. Once all the soup has been blended (see now you know why I have been wanting a blender stick for years) and happy to say it was the easiest soup to make since getting myself one of these blender sticks. No more transferring the soup to a bowl then back again to the soup pot.
  9. Return the now blended soup back to the pot. Turn back up the heat on low and add the light cream/half n half. Also add your salt & pepper along with the sherry and the butter. Continue heating till it just starts to simmer. You are now ready to serve it up!
  10. Chop parlsey and place on top of fresh mushroom soup – call in the troops and enjoy your meal.

Note when reheating this soup, reheat on a low setting. If you allow it to come to a roaring boil, you might end up curdling the soup due to the cream content.

Chow ciao for now…

The Chef Maven

Brunch – Still the Easiest on the Budget Way to Entertain with an Oven Baked Omelet and Blueberry Coffeecake Recipes

February 22, 2011

Oven Baked Omelet Easy Dish to Make at Anytime

This past weekend I hosted a lovely Brunch at my new home.
A fire crackled in the fireplace as each one of us took turns being the ‘girl scout’ while I did my best to step back and not be a control-freak when it came to the fire (I’m a safety girl a la Julia in Pretty Woman). As quaint as this little home of mine is, I was easily able to have five people over enjoying delicious foods.

Starting off the Brunch were ripe brie with fine crackers and red pepper jelly that offered a little sweet and hot spice to get their palettes wagging their wanting tongues. As they entered my home, the air wafted of the “still in the oven and about to be taken out crispy yet tender baked ham“.

Mimosas with just made fresh squeezed orange juice were being handled over to guests, while other provided choices included fresh coffee lattes and fresh spiced hot cider. The home-baked blueberry coffeecake; fresh mescalin salad with craisins, pan roasted spiced walnuts & almonds served with a locally make asian salad dressing called ‘Krazy for Kuzu’; and an oven baked omelet with three cheeses, herbes de provence and fresh chopped scallions – were simply delicious and easy to prepare and make while the guests got settled into their seats…

This particular meal basically bakes and cooks itself so you have time to sit back and enjoy your friends as much as they will be enjoying your company and home. In fact when I put the ham into the oven it was only then that I started to straighten up my home a bit before their arrival.

A Note to the Wise When Planning Any Sort of Soiree:
One of the very first things I do when I host a gathering of sorts is to make a menu. I grab my faithful notebook and write down what I may like to serve up. This way I can see what will take time to prepare or note how long it will take in the oven for example. I will even note on the menu list of what time during the actual day of the party when certain things need to go into the oven (think the baked ham) or which items need to be taken out of the fridge to ripen (think brie cheese). Including noting what I might need to purchase or prepare so that on the day of my party I hopefully will have very little to do. And lastly, relax as people arrive, lite the candles and be yourself.

And just because you have set out a time line, does not mean you have to completely be glued to it – by all means allow for some flexibility. Allow guests to help you and don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. Most parties will go better if you allow the guests to be involved – I have said time this and time again.

I was told long ago one trick it to have at least something to nibble on when people arrive. Decide in advance where their coats are to be placed if your front closet is jammed pack for instance – the bedroom bed can always work. And for me, I prefer for no one to wear their shoes inside my home, so I have comfy and clean slippers at the ready. Let me tell you, when people are in their slippers – they too become comfy, and relax to enjoy themselves at your party.

So today’s Recipes I will share are the blueberry coffeecake and the oven baked omelet.

Let me preface that when I grew up, and I have mentioned this fact before – but there really was only one item my grandmother and mother would stock in their cupboards which was pre-made and use on occasion to hasten their baked goods like biscuits, oven baked fried chicken and of course coffeecake…. can you guess? Yes, Bisquick. Good old fashioned Bisquick. Yes, it’s an almost processed food – but since it is used only on occasion in my home, this slow food foodie still keeps a box of it at the ready for those few times a year when I wish to make things just a little easier on myself.

A few years ago I had wished to make the coffeecake that I recalled as a kid my mother making and since times have changed, Bisquick no longer kept this particular recipe on their box – don’t know why – but after a good google search, voila, the recipe I remember… this recipe below has been adapted with additional ingredients from the original you may find via an Internet search. Shall we get started?

Blueberry Coffeecake Recipe

You will be mixing the dough, then placing it into your lightly greased baking dish – either an 8×8 square pan or a pie dish. Preheat your oven for 375 degrees.

Blueberry Coffee Cake - Photo courtesy of

Once you have placed your mixed batter into the baking pan of your choice, you may use the same mixing bowl to make the topping, and simply pour it over the top and place the coffeecake into the oven and let bake for 30 minutes. Cake is done when a knife comes out clean. Let cool slightly before slicing up and serving. And for Pete’s sake, this is an easy to make coffeecake – no need to bring out that fancy mix master! Use a wooden spoon and a bowl to mix up the dough which will be slightly stiff.


  • Mixing bowl
  • wooden spoon & fork or pastry fork (for making topping)
  • 8×8 square metal or glass pan or 8 or 9 inch pie pan (again either glass or metal)
  • Preheat Oven 375 degrees


  • 2 cups Bisquick Mix
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2/3 cups milk (whole preferred) but skim and 1 percent does fine too)
  • 2 extra large/jumbo eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup frozen blueberries – the kind with no sugar added

Instructions: Place all dry ingredients into bowl first, then everything else but the blueberries. Mix till dough comes together – 50 stirs at most, then add blueberries, stir just a few times more, then pour batter into greased baking dish.

For Topping:

  • 1/3 cup Bisquick
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Instructions: Simply add dry ingredients in first, then butter. Using a fork, a pastry cutter or simply your hands as I did this past Sunday – crumbled ingredients together, it should not be a fine mixture – but clumbs of goodness…simply pour and spread over coffeecake, then place into oven on the middle rack and let bake for 30 minutes. That’s it!

Oven Baked Omelet

Suggestions – I used goat cheeses, which made for a wonderfully slightly tangy omelet. Using three different types of cheeses as one would do in a quiche really brings out a depth of flavor which will make people come back for more! I’m just saying…

While I was so busy entertaining I ended up not taking any photos – I will soon update the photos in this post when I make this omelet again, since It really does puff up about 4 inches – and since there is no stirring, the omelet is super fluffy and light.


  • A skillet that can go from stove top to oven, safely. (I use an Iron Clad I purchased for $10! from one of those large outlet kitchen stores)
  • Clean large mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Cheese Grater
  • Oven Preheated at 375 degrees (How conveeeenient – your oven is already set for that! a la The Church Lady by Dana Carvey from those good ‘ol SLN days)


  • While the coffeecake is baking, and you still have those eggs out, you are going to use two eggs per person. I used ten eggs for my recipe.
  • 1 tablespoon of herbs de provence ( – click on link to find out more from – but it’s a spice mixture that comprises of various herbs that wonderfully go with eggs)
  • kosher salt & fresh cracked black pepper – depending upon number of eggs – Use more pepper than you would normally.
  • 1-2 scallions, freshly chopped
  • I used about 1 and a 1/3 cup three (3) types of cheeses (use 3 of your choice since any less won’t bring out a depth of flavor that you are really looking forward to in creating a sumptuous omelet that can stand up to the other dishes). I used 1/2 cup of a Goat Gouda, 1/2 cup of a pepper jack and 1/3 cup of the crumbled goat cheese.
  • 3/4 cups of light cream (preferred) or use half-n-half or milk. Less liquid for less eggs. (or two tablespoons per two eggs if this makes it easier adjusting this recipe for your specific needs)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Oh – and umm, I didn’t mention that this was not a dietetic recipe did I?


  • In large mixing bowl, crack your eggs, and Let them come to room temperature.
  • Shred your cheeses…or have someone else in your party do this – as I did…your guests always want to help, it gives those who are nervous something to do with their hands.
  • Whisk eggs till eggs are completely mixed (no white parts hanging out by themselves per se)
  • Put skillet on stove on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon butter. Let butter melt while pan gets hot. Tilt skillet now and then so butter coats the bottom of the skillet – and return to your bowl of eggs.
  • Add Half n half, milk or light cream as I did, and whisk once again. Add salt and pepper – use more pepper than you think you might normally use. Then add the herbs de provence. Mix all together.
  • Pour egg mixture into your skillet and let sit – yes, simply let sit. You did remember to put the heat on medium yes? Good! You want the egg on the bottom of the skillet to set a bit. There’s no stirring what so ever at this point as you are not making scrambled eggs.
  • Once set – say about 3 to 4 minutes, then add cheeses. I added my crumbled goat cheese last. With a fork or spoon, gently push cheeses down so that fresh runny liquid-y egg cover the cheese. Next add your fresh scallions on top, and do the same – pat scallions down into egg mixture.
  • Take out your coffeecake and place on a trivet while carefully putting your skillet into the oven.
  • Let bake for about 10 minutes, checking in on it after the ten minutes. Jiggle the skillet by the handle using an oven mitt – if you see much jiggling in the middle, it’s not done yet.
  • I also after the ten minutes turn on my broiler and let the omelet continue to rise under a low-flamed broiler.  My broiler in on the top ‘ceiling’ of my stove making this part of the omelet baking process super easy. The omelet comes out fluffy like a souffle.
  • Bring to the table using an oven mitt – make sure you have a trivet already on the serving table.
  • Get ready for the oohs and ahhs… that will surely be said.
  • Slice into ‘pie’ shapes and with a metal or heat safe spatula, remove slices and serve up to your guests.
  • Enjoy! Plus – any leftovers are amazingly delicious served up cold – as we went for seconds a few hours later while another one of us took turns being the girl scout poking the fire and putting another log on.

Chow Ciao for Now,

Chef Maven

the fire is roaring....

Musing on Making Moves to Cook in a New Kitchen

February 17, 2011

My new GE Adora Stove which of course I umm Adora!

Already it’s half way through this month – where does this time fly? As I walked Theo for a bit this morning, the sun was peering over the top of the mountains I can see out my back yard. I thought of how most of my previous moves always happened during the later months of the year when mother nature winds down her wings to go into a semi-sleep with blanketing the yards and streets with fresh snow.

And yes although it still looks pretty, I will be very glad to feel the intended warmth suggested by the weatherman for it reaching over 50 degrees today! Yes! And maybe, just maybe the remaining snow on my roof will melt off today.


When a move is complete, people attack their boxes in various ways. Some work in one area at a time, others’ may work all over the place.

Packed boxes ready for unpacking - but where to?

When you move as most of us have done at least once in our lives – I ask you, my readers one question…

What is your very first meal that you have prepared in your ‘new’ kitchen? For me it was using (don’t gasp) pre-made stuffed manicotti in a (again don’t gasp) pre-made tomato sauce baked in an oven. I have had to eat take out for several weeks since dismantling my old place and not completely unpacking from my move which only happened weeks ago. My body would remind me daily, it did not like this new routine of processed food!

The movers were amazing – it took them two days to load their trucks of boxes and furniture from my old place and only 5 hours to completely unload the items into my new home. Not one thing broke – and that’s with three sets of dishes, glasses – you name it! The only thing so far found slightly damaged was the creamed honey I purchased at a local farmer’s market whose top was not completely closed yet fortunately the bottle was wrapped in a cloth napkin and hence did not get over everything else in that box. Whew! And most of that creamed honey was saved. What’s creamed honey you asked? It’s a wonderful spread to bump up your morning toast with. I was told how creamed honey is made once – but I will get to that later in another post.

With my approach to unpacking, I concentrated on the kitchen first (naturally). I have since have had a hutch/buffet be put together to house some of the appliances not used every day and to house extra glasses. My kitchen is short on cabinet space, so I have had to be creative with my storage solutions. I put in a butcher block counter along with a dishwasher. I relocated one of the double base cabinets and finally have been able to get cooking in my new kitchen and on my new GE Adora stove – the kind that has a stove top griddle – it’s amazing as were the grilled asparagus and lampchops I made on it the other week. It’s been several weeks since cooking anything pre-made as I am not one for processed food if I can avoid it. My one downfall is crackers, but heck, this Chef Maven has got to break somewhere….

Wishing:…that with each day I do my very best to go through and unpack three boxes, but with work and life, (think in actual reality) –  it’s more like 1 or maybe 2 boxes a day. (OK we’re lucky if it’s even 1 box a day!)

Flowers on the kitchen counter

Chow Ciao For Now,

The Chef Maven



The Chef Mavens Homemade Pesto Focaccia Bread Recipe

February 2, 2011

pesto foccacia with shallots

pesto foccacia with shallots

So with the winter upon us, and yet another snow-bound day stuck at home I have continued with baking up a storm in hopes to match the storm outside my windows in New York. I decided to take my pizza dough recipe and turn it into a wonderful pesto foccacia bread with a few shallots baked on top along with a few sprinkles of crushed red pepper to spice it up just a bit.

There are many variations of course that you can create the right focaccia just for you and some of those suggestions are listed below.

To make this delectable side bread, it’s easier that saying pizza pie!

The How To’s…

1) You can either make your own homemade pizza dough (which is what I did) or buy store bought pizza dough and then adding three tablespoons of pesto (link goes to my easy and affordable to make pesto recipe) into the dough using a mix master or by kneading it in with your hands.

2) While stretching the dough into a rectangle onto a oiled cookie sheet, preheat your oven to at least 400 degrees. The using your fingers – sort of ‘type’ on the bread creating little ‘valleys’ – the photo above shows some of those divets made by my fingers…

3) Add various toppings – as pictured I added a few sprinkles of crushed red pepper, freshly cracked pepper, course kosher salt and sliced shallots on top before placing the foccacia dough into the oven for baking. Then drizzle a little olive oil on the top – max two tablespoons, you are not trying to drown the dough.

4) Once your particular toppings are on – place into a preheated oven at 400 degrees and let bake for roughly 20 minutes. Dough should be nicely lightly browned. Let cool slightly – then either slice into strips or tear off pieces and serve up with your favorite salad or pasta dish.

I tore off a few pieces and dipped them into hazelnut oil – oh deviously delicious!

Other delicious and possible topping combinations: don’t forget to drizzle a little olive oil prior to baking…

1) chopped sun-dried tomatoes, fresh rosemary chopped and crumbled goat cheese

2) Chopped/sliced kalamata black olives, crumbled feta cheese and sliced shallots.

3) Simply plain with just adding salt & pepper on top.

Once finished, wonderfully browned – you can either cut it into strips or tear off pieces and serve it up with your salads. I took a little and dipped it in hazelnut oil – just incredibly yummy!

Let me know what combinations you have come up with, I’d love to hear about them!

chow ciao for now!

The Chef Maven

Chef Mavens Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Fennel with Parmesan Cheese Recipe

January 27, 2011

Delicious Oven Roasted Fennel and Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan Cheese

Snowbound yet once again! And as I mentioned to a few friends yesterday that I felt like baking, well I made not only brownies, but pesto foccacia with shallots and crushed red pepper along with oven roasted brussels sprouts and fennel with parmesan cheese for dinner. This afternoon for lunch I will be making a frittata with the leftover oven roasted veggies form last night and the grilled asparagus and grilled zucchini from the night before – recipe to follow after this post on how to make oven roasted brussels sprouts and fennel with parmesan cheese.

First of all, let me tell you, if my own mother made brussels sprouts and fennel this way when I was growing up, I would never have shunned them in the first place! This is a wonderful and useful trick to get your kids to eat their vegetables. Adding cheese to vegetables is nothing new, but by roasting the brussels sprouts, it brings out their natural nutty flavor, that I never saw as a kid when she steamed them, despite adding pan roasted almonds to them.

I started making the brussels sprouts this way for about 6 years now and rarely can I wait till they get to the table to grab a few of these and pop them into my mouth – yes they are that good! And with only a few ingredients and a little time in the oven, they are sure to be a hit at your home too!

Let’s get started.

Preparing Brussels Sprouts for the Oven

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Fennel with Parmesan Cheese Ingredients:

  • NOTE: Making extras can easily be added to an egg frittata at a later date or put into quiche.
  • One or two fennel bulbs depending upon size and size of your crew to feed. Roughly 1/3 fennel bulb per serving.
  • Count out about four or five brussels sprouts per serving
  • Olive oil – anywhere form 2 to 5 tablespoons depending upon amount of vegetables you are roasting
  • Freshly cracked black pepper & course kosher salt to taste
  • a few shakes of crushed red pepper for a hint of heat
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • large cookie sheet with sides
  • Oven preheated at 375 degrees

preparing oven roasted fennel with parmesan cheese

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Fennel with Parmesan Cheese Directions:

  1. Drizzle just a bit of olive oil on your cookie sheet (half of a tablespoon) and spread with a bit of paper towels or fingers…
  2. After rinsing vegetables
  3. For brussels sprouts: cut off their ends, remove any loose leaves, then slice lengthwise into thirds so they are roughly 1/3″ thick. Place onto cookie sheet on their flat sides and keep them close to one another.
  4. For the fennel bulbs: cut off the frawns and stalk sections leaving only the bulb. Do reserve some of the frawns for decorating as seen in the photos.
  5. With bulb on its side, carefully slice fennel into 1/3″ slices doing your best to keep the slices together. Due to its layers, some pieces will fall apart slightly. Simply place onto cookie sheet and like the brussels sprouts, have them near each other. This is not like cookies where they need to be apart 2″.
  6. Next sprinkle a bit of the kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper along with the crushed red pepper shakes.
  7. Drizzle a little olive oil over each of the sliced veggies, then sprinkle a bit of the cheese onto each of the sliced vegetables. – Now you see why I asked you to keep them together – this way you do not ‘lose’ any cheese, but have the best chance in covering the vegetables with the cheese. You do not need to add a lot of olive oil, in fact if you look at my photos, you will see very little extra olive oil…
  8. Place the vegetables now into the hot oven and roast for roughly 20 minutes, checking on them after 15 minutes. Depending upon your oven, you may even roast them for another 5 minutes.
  9. You will one them soft, browned with the cheese melted. Set them out to cool just slightly, plate them with adding the reserved frawns on the oven roasted fennel as seen in the above photo and serve it up on a platter!
  10. Call troops to dinner!
oven roasted veggies

Oven Roasted Fennel and Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan Cheese Ready for Plating and of Course Eating!

Grilled Lambchops with Grilled Asparagus and Zucchini with Potatoes OBrian with Fresh Rosemary Recipe

January 26, 2011

Dinner Anyone? Grilled Lamb chops over Potatoes O'Brian with Balsamic Glaze and Grilled Zucchini and Baby Asparagus

I have since learned from moving into my new home and new kitchen that when it snows, the slow foodie in me really comes out and shines. And the other day before one of our many snow storms hit New York yet once again, I found a wonderful source for locally grown vegetables and even locally raised and grass fed and organic beef and lamb.

And though I am still trying to do my best in eating red meat but once a week, the lamp chops had my name all over them when I saw them at the Adams Fairacres Farms. So I grabbed asparagus, zucchini, potatoes, a green bell pepper, a few shallots and fresh rosemary and created the dish you see. Super easy with just a few ingredients puts this dinner on your table rather quickly. Its’ wonderfully delicious and heartwarming when it’s snowing like a banshee outside – trust me I know from experience!

Let’s get started! I will break down the components to make it easier to follow just one of the recipes in case you wish to do so.

Word to the wise: Remember to preheat your grill! Also I cooked the veggies first, set aside while the chops were marinating and the potatoes I had started first since they took the longest (24 minutes). This way cooking the potatoes first, then starting on the veggies, then finally the chops will have everything come together at the end of your cooking time…

Grilled Lamp Chops Ingredients:

  • Two lamp chops or more per person depending upon appetite.
  • freshly cracked black pepper & course kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon or more freshly diced rosemary
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze – yup! that’s in on the ingredients! Look for balsamic glaze in the vinegar section of your grocery store – you can easily find it online too! It’s a must have ingredient in my refrigerator! You can make it yourself, but tis easier to have it on hand when you need it!

Grilled Lamp Chop Directions:

  1. While marinating the chops with the ingredients above by simply sprinkling the seasonings, olive oil and balsamic glaze over the chops on both sides and placing them onto a plate away from prying pets and kitchen guests – you will want to preheat your grill. I have a stove top grill that frankly has become my latest new love. And who says you can’t love a stove? I am not afraid to stand up and admit it, yes, I’m Chef Maven, and I have loved my stove now for four weeks. (the length of time I have actually owned this new puppy and workhorse!)
  2. If your grill is nicely preheated and hot – For medium rare and for single thickness, you will be grilling for roughly 3-4 minutes on one side, and finishing it off on the other side for about 3 minutes. Remove chops and let rest on a plate.
  3. Serve over grilled vegetables and add a bit more balsamic glaze squeezed over the top of them…. and add a sprig of fresh rosemary to decorate the plate.

Grilled Baby Asparagus and Grilled Zucchini Are Sumptious!

Grilled Asparagus and Zucchini Ingredients:

  • NOTE: I happen to personally adore both these veggies, so I easily can eat a whole medium sized zucchini and six or so baby asparagus frawns – but you decide how much you should have… plus a bonus is that these now grilled vegetables once done and cooled can easily be made into a wonderful egg frittatta, placed onto half-way cooked foccaccia or placed into a wonderful cobb salad…. so store up your grilled veggies! There are many interesting dishes you can add any extra leftovers to.
  • You will need olive oil, salt & pepper and your favorite either asian-inspired salad dressing (roughly 1/4 cup) or simply fresh lemon juice.
  • Reserve half of a lemon for finishing off the veggies once they are taken off the grill.

Grilled Asparagus and Zucchini Directions:

  1. Wash both vegetables, then I slice my zucchini on the bias in strips (on the diagonal) and place into a bowl for marinating.
  2. Add the rinsed asparagus with their ends being chopped off about 2 inches (or where they tend to break) leaving only the freshest part and place into the bowl with the zucchini.
  3. Next sprinkle with course kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, add a bit of the olive oil (2 tablespoons at most) and your salad dressing (or fresh lemon juice).
  4. Using hands which I find easier (clean of course!) move around the veggies making sure each have been coasted with the marinade. They are now ready to get cooking!
  5. Place onto preheated grill, and cook about 4 minutes on one side, then flip and cook the other side. Pull off veggies once they are done onto a plate, cover with clean dish towel or tinfoil to help keep warm. And sprinkle with fresh lemon juice all over the vegetables.

Chef Maven's Favorite Way to Make Potatoes - O'Brian Styled!

Chef Maven’s Stove top Potatoes OBrian

My mother always would make her potatoes o’brian with leftover boiled potatoes from the night before’s meal. My twist has always been using raw potatoes with their skins still on. Not only does this method ensure more vitamins remain in the potato, the added skins further give it substance when it comes to vitamins. Slicing the potatoes on the thin side will surely make these tasty potatoes become a new fave! And when making my ‘egg special’ I will start my potatoes this way.

Chef Maven’s Stove top Potatoes OBrian Ingredients:

  • Large skillet (the potatoes will shrink a bit as you cook them down)
  • olive oil and butter
  • per each two large idaho potatoes – you will need 1-1/2 tablespoons of freshly minced rosemary
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 green bell pepper or a combination of colored bell peppers (red, green and orange for example)
  • 2 shallots minced, or small bermuda onion chopped or three scallions chopped using both green and white parts

Chef Maven’s Stove top Potatoes OBrian Directions:

  1. Rinse potatoes, and slice lengthwise in half, then once more. Now slice them on their flat sides, into thin slices.
  2. In a cold skillet, add about two tablespoons of olive oil, and a tablespoon of butter and turn on medium heat.
  3. Add sliced potatoes to skillet.
  4. Chop shallots and add to skillet.
  5. Turn potatoes over frequently. You may need to add more oil. You are not looking for them to brown too quickly, remember these started out raw…
  6. Once potatoes are half way cooked, then add your chopped bell peppers to the mix.
  7. Once potatoes are almost ready and are starting to brown nicely, if you are making the chops, turn the potatoes now down to low, while the chops cook, then when your chops are finished – so are your potatoes!

So you have now created a wonderful meal! Call the troops to dinner and enjoy! I chose a locally made red wine purchased at the Artisan Wine Shop ( called ‘Right Bands Red’ by Hudson Wine Farms made in Washingtonville, NY and ate my dinner with a fire going on in the fireplace.

Hearty Sandwiches 101 – Fresh Mozzarella, Roasted Red Peppers with Pesto, Mesclun and Mortadella Sandwich

January 25, 2011

Fanstico - The sandwich has it all!

Hearty Sandwiches 101

Fresh Mozzarella, Roasted Red Peppers with Pesto, Mesclun and Mortadella Sandwich

I love sandwiches, I didn’t used to, but sooner or later, we all come around to having a decent sandwich that makes its’ mark on you. This fantastic one is a take off of one I ate at the Garrison Market (  in New York a few months ago. I was hooked! Theirs included amazing fresh italian bastone bread, with fresh mozzarella, homemade pesto and roasted red peppers.

I decided to switch their sandwich up just another notch by adding naughty thinly sliced mortadella, my own freshly made pesto and fresh mesclun greens with fresh cracked pepper and sea salt with a little drizzle of balsamic glaze. Oh yeah kiddo, I kid you not. This sandwich would be great to make even a day ahead, wrap in foil or wax paper and placing a brick on it, in the fridge to get all that goodness to really marry.

Shall we get started then? Yes, but of course!


  • Fresh Italian Bread (I prefer seeded bastone for this particular sandwich)
  • Fresh Pesto (homemade or purchased) I won’t scold you if you use store bought!
  • Roasted and marinated red peppers (fresh or store bought)
  • fresh mozzarella – please use the fresh stuff here, this sandwich deserves the real mccoy!
  • Mortdadella (I used three very thinly sliced mortadella)
  • 1/2 cup of fresh mesclun greens
  • Balsamic Glaze (this can be found in your vinegar section of your grocery stores)
  • sea salt and freshly ground cracked pepper

Right before I married each side of the awesome sandwich!


  1. Slice the loaf of bread on the diagonal to the size sandwich you might like to have. Then slice it once more in half then scoop out most of the white or wheat insides… this will make room for the ingredients while leaving the lovely crust for a good chew factor! Then slice
  2. Spread the pesto on both sides. Spread the pesto to every ‘inch’ of the inside for the best sandwich you ever had.
  3. Add freshly sliced mozzarella on one side while you add the mesclun on the other side.
  4. Sprinkle both sides with the balsamic glaze and pretend you are Mario Batali. Great – you are doing fantastico!
  5. Next crack some fresh black pepper next on both sides, sprinkle a little sea salt.
  6. Now add you few slices of mortadella over the mesclun side while you take a piece of the roasted red pepper and pull it apart to create slices and place them over and on top of the fresh mozzarella.
  7. You are now ready to put the two halves together and have a ciao down!
  8. I served mine up with a few sea salt & vinegar kettle potato chips and a fresh seltzer with orange juice.
  9. Slice sandwich in half and serve it up!

Are you hungry yet?!

Alternatively – you can create a sandwich out of the entire loaf of bread using the directions as above, wrap it tight in wax paper or plastic wrap, then place in the fridge. By putting a brick or some other temporary weight on it for a few hours, the flavors will meld even more. This sandwich is perfect for taking to picnics, tailgates, or jeez, do what I did and make it at home for a sumptuous lunch while the snow continued falling outside.

Organic Gardening Anyone?

January 21, 2011

Bird feeders hanging from my apple tree

Snow snow snow  – snow go away – ….

Actually despite the mounds of snow we have received every Friday for five weeks now in a row for New York and surrounding states, I just love how it looks. Shoveling it is of course another matter. But as I go outside and fill the bird feeders every couple of days, I glance out at my little and humble plot of land that belongs now to me since buying my home in upstate New York. And while I have only been here a month, and roughly unpacked 35 of the 90+ boxes that moved me to my new place that I now can call home, I still am quite excited to see what Spring shows up and brings me in my gardens. It’s one of the few things that can keep my mind off the snow!

The gardens that are already in place are perennial flower gardens which showed evidence this past fall to include foxgloves, lupine, hollyhocks, roses, peonies, irises galore, cone flowers, daisies, you name it! But not one area was set aside for vegetables not even herbs. That’s okay, when you start your relationship with your little plot of land, some of the work should be work you actually do with your own hands. I have already ordered many seeds and will surely buy plants which brings me to today’s link to – aka The Cook’s Garden website. They are based in Pennsylvania and are offering real authentic organic seedlings and plants come Spring for you to order for your organic garden. Here’s yet another good source for tips on organic gardening – even for beginners!

Though I had a long ‘winter’ of no gardening since I lived in an apartment building for roughly 7 years and could only do a little roof top gardening, but when I have gardened in the past, I always practiced organic gardening. I grew up being taught by my mother that marigolds next to tomatoes help keep away the aphids among many other neat tricks. I would buy a tub of ladies bugs and ask the young neighborhood kids to come over for a ladybug release, allowing the kids to release the little creatures all over my gardens. There are many other tips of course I will share here in coming months. And growing your own organic herbs and vegetables will surely be healthier for your and your family along with saving you monies in your pocket book or wallet.

But now since I have moved but a month ago, I am so stoked to get back into the garden. There is something that is so special about the smell of the dirt, the finding of a few earthworms to help till your land, the excitement of witnessing your seeds coming up from the ground and of course picking your first tomato, your first cucumber, your first pepper or snip of herbs and bringing them into your kitchen to immediately cook with that makes all that hard work worthwhile. The smell alone of the freshly picked vegetables are enough to awake your senses to ask yourself why you hadn’t tried a little gardening before!

Even if you have but a 10×10 foot area of land or are limited to a few containers (like I was when I lived in the apartment building), you still can grow lots of vegetables to assist your grocery bill throughout the summer and into autumn. Just start small, and that is exactly what I am doing this first year. I will surely be concentrating on creating a serious herb garden using both containers and ground while attending the large flower gardens which have seen better days being that this house was on the market and the gardens were neglected for at least 7 months. I will also set out an area for the vegetable garden (since here I’m thinking less grass to mow – whoo hoo!) and use bean towers and fencing to help support the few vegetables I will be planting come this Spring.

Oooh I just looked up from my mac and witness blue skies! A sky color I haven’t seen in some days for sure – but with all this talk of snow, I have been drooling over ideas for my new vegetable garden that will go in this next Spring – which is just some 90 days away. Though I live in zone 5, there are still loads of resources and ideas out there. Feel free to visit the sites I found quite useful and get your mind out of the snow and into the dirt!

Chow Ciao for now,

The Chef Maven

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