Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head!!

Soup and SammiesWhat to do? What to do? What to do?  A winter’s day ripe for hot tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. But, tomato season is over and I just can’t get my self to buy those pale pink, baseball hard orbs the grocer labels as tomatoes. I remember my mother trying to get the Kids to eat vegetables during the winter and serving us these rock hard, white tomatoes with a wedge of iceberg lettuce and an oversize portion of bleu cheese dressing. Yes, health was on her mind.

Now that I am on the topic, whoever thought it was a good idea to put an iceberg wedge salad on a restaurant menu anyway? Did you not grow up in the 60’s or 70’s?? We have so many more better tasting options than a crispy, crunchy facsimile of food which I find tastes exactly like water.  All iceberg lettuce has ever done for me is thin out the bleu cheese dressing. Better to serve a nice chunk of Roquefort with a glass of water.  Just sayin’.

Canned TomatoesAnyway, this weekend the rain was coming down and Suzanne and I were hankering for something warm and satisfying. Tomato soup sounded great but alas . . . no fresh tomatoes.  Wait!! That is not entirely true. While they were not fresh off the vine in the minute, I did have a jar of tomatoes that I put up right after picking.  I reached into my pantry and came out with a quart jar of lovely ripe, stewed tomatoes.  One of the great challenges of having an edible garden is using all of its produce.  This year I went heavily into tomatoes and was rewarded with a bumper crop. Take a minute to review my Pop Goes the Basil!! post to witness the results of my green thumb.

So out comes the jar of tomatoes, a red onion, some garlic, chicken broth and a heavy splash of whipping cream left over from Thanksgiving.  I started with half the red onion finely diced and 6 cloves of garlic sliced sauteing in olive oil in a stock pot. After about 3 or 4 minutes I dropped in the the tomatoes and let them all stew together for a few more minutes.  On top of that I add a quart of chicken broth, unsalted, and brought it all to a boil for about 5 minutes.

BlenderThe next step is  my favorite.  I like to blend my soups. Now some cooks like to use immersion blenders, those little electric motor sticks with wimpy little blades that barely move your soup around the pot. Me, I like using a blender on low speed until I get the texture I want.  And . . . every once in a while I forget to keep my hand on the lid and oops, I get a little messy. Occasionally I will strain my soup to remove any extra chunky bits.  I tried that this time and was not happy with the results so I dumped the solids back into the pot and was happy that I did.

Strainer Giving the puree’ a taste test I found the soup to be  a little flat so I added just a pinch of kosher salt. Wow!! Did that pick the flavors right up.  Normally I would add some acid to brighten the flavor but the tomatoes brought just enough to the dish so no vinegar was needed.

Now one of Suzanne’s jobs, in our relationship, is to make sure we don’t overindulge in bad or fatty ingredients.  Take a minute to look at her audition video for the Next Food Network Star.  In it Suzanne makes a surprisingly good Massaged Kale Salad.  She made this salad for me one night and I predictably rolled my eyes and turned up my nose . . . until the fork hit my mouth.  It’s a great recipe and kale is a great food for the body.  But . . . this time Suzanne failed me.  Thank goodness!! She MADE me pour the half cup of whipping cream into the soup.  She was right and the taste was amazing.

CreamFortunately for me she did not stop there.  Suzanne also whipped up a little fresh pesto which she used to coat a slice of freshly baked baguette.  On top of which she added slices of Gruyere and Mozzarella.  Get that all melty in the toaster oven and Man!! What a meal.

Pesto Cheesy GoodnessSo, this last rainy weekend, Suzanne and I tucked into freshly baked bread topped with pesto and cheese with a steaming hot bowl of tomato cream soup. Took the shivers right away. My advice is: If you find yourself wanting for grilled cheese and soup one rainy day, dig a little deeper into the pantry and see just what might make make the day a little brighter.


Eat Well and Smile Often,




p.s. Leftovers!!

Hi My Name is Tom and I’m a Carb-o-holic!!

Whipped Potatoes 2Mashed potatoes and stuffing!! Are you freaking kidding me?? Why are we not eating these with every meal??

oh . . .  :-(

Copycat StuffingAh the heck with it, it’s Thanksgiving and I for one, like every good American, plan to overindulge this holiday season. This means that multiple helpings of mashed potatoes and stuffing will make it off of my plate, on to my fork and into my head. Fork one, napkin two, fork one, napkin two.

I won’t dilly dally any longer as the DAY is nearly upon us.  Here are my tried and true,

Damn Tom, these are great, how much butter did you say was in them, Mashed Potatoes.

Serves 1 or 4 depending on personal greed

3           Russet potatoes, large, peel, large dice
1/8+      Butter stick, unsalted, soft.   p.s. I have been known to add more ;-)
1/4 c     Sour cream
salt & white pepper to taste

Diced PotatoesPlace diced potatoes in a sauce pan with enough cold water to cover.  Add 1 tablespoon salt, place on high heat and bring to a gentle boil.  Cook for about 15 minutes checking with a fork for doneness regularly. (Yes, doneness is a word.) Place a clean colander in an empty sink.

Potato ForkThe potatoes should just yield to the pressure of a fork. Take the pot off of the heat and pour potatoes and water through the colander. Return the potatoes and place back on the stove on high heat for one minute to boil off any excess fluid.

Mashing PotatoesTurn the heat off and with a mashing tool mash the potatoes until the lumps are gone.  With a whisk begin whipping the potatoes.  Add the sour cream and butter and whip until the potatoes are smooth in texture.  Do not over whip. This will make the potatoes gluey.

\Whipped PotatoesAdd salt and white pepper and extra butter to taste.  Place in an oven proof dish, cover and place in warm oven to keep while your turkey is standing.

My preference is to serve with them with a tab of butter on top, then smother with gravy. Yum!!  Fork one, napkin two, . . .


This stuffing recipe I created while working on the set of Copycat with Holly Hunter and Sigourney Weaver.  One of the stage hands wanted a good fresh recipe for stuffing so I made this one up on the fly.  He reported back a few years later that my stuffing recipe has become the family favorite and that each year he has to make extra croutons so that there is enough to snack on as well as make in to stuffing.

Copycat Stuffing

Serves 1 to 4, (yadda, yadda, yadda)

1          English Muffin package, small dice
6          Garlic cloves, diced fine
1/4       Butter stick
3T        Olive oil

Garlic ButterIn a sauce pan place butter, olive oil and garlic.  Heat over medium heat until butter starts to bubble.  In a large bowl toss garlic butter and diced English Muffins. Place onto a baking sheet and place baking sheet in to a preheated 350° F oven. Bake until browned about 30 minutes. (This part can be done the day before with no loss of quality.) (You might want to double this part of the recipe and put the croutons out for snacks . . . damn good!!)

Chopped Herbs

1/4 c + 2 T     Olive oil
2 c       Mushrooms, brown, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

1          Onion, white or yellow, small dice
4          Celery ribs, small dice
1          Marjoram, Thyme & Sage, bunch each, stripped of stems and chopped.
2 c       Chicken broth

In a saute’ pan place 1/4 c olive oil and turn on medium heat.   Have a large soon for stirring handy.  When the oil just begins to shimmer add the slice mushrooms. Caution!! The mushrooms will splatter. I recommend wearing long sleeves.  Stir and/or toss to saute all sides of the mushroom slices.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper during this process to heighten flavor. Cook for about 5 minutes then pour out on to a paper towel and let sit undisturbed.

Broth and VeggiesIn a clean saute’ pan place 2 T of olive oil and place on medium high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer add the diced onion and celery. Stir and/or toss to cook slightly. After about 5 minutes add the mushrooms and the herbs and stir.  Let cook for one minute then add the chicken broth.  Simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes then remove from heat.

Mixed StuffingIn a large mixing bowl mix the croutons and the vegetable mixture with broth.  Place the moistened croutons in to a baking dish and bake for 1 hour at 350° F.  Serve and enjoy!!


I hope that you found my Thanksgiving day recipes helpful.  They are a great part of the holiday, but the best part is sharing them with friends and family.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!


Eat Well and Smile Often,




p.s. Fork one, fork two, fork three . . . (belch.)  Begin again!!

Man Can Cook!!

Tom a cookin'By now you know that this Man Can Cook . . . does yours??

I have engaged in an informal study of sorts. You see, I like to cook. I’m pretty good at preparing some things and still experimenting with others. But it’s fun. Whether the dish turns out successfully or as a ‘recipe in progress’ really does not matter too much to me. It is the process and experience of cooking that I like.  So why would I not want to share this experience with my date? No reason comes readily to mind.

I asked my friend Jeffery what he thought about cooking for a date, he is a very good cook and one of the nicest men I have ever met. His reply summed it up nicely, “Cooking for a date in your home doesn’t have to be sexual, but it is intimate.”  He is spot on. Roasted PumpkinThe process of preparing food for another person, going to all that effort just for them, is very intimate. It also shows how much you care about them.  The general consensus of opinion is that, “It makes me feel pampered.” And why wouldn’t you want to pamper someone you care about? (FYI: That was a rhetorical question.) Again, no reason comes to mind.

I asked my New York, electronic Pen Pal Melani Robinson if she liked it when her dates cooked for her. Melani writes a blog 1 Year of Online Dating at 50 where she explores online dating with equal measures of bravery and vulnerability.  She wrote back to me and I quote, “I’ve never dated a man who could cook for me, but I’m still hopeful. A guy who knows his way around the kitchen is a big turn on–delicious food is very sexy. Cooking together? Fantastic!”

So fellas . . . What’s Up!!

I am extra lucky in that my paramour Suzanne Griffin of Cooking by the Bay is a fantastic cook.  When we get together sparks fly!!  “What do you mean it has too much lime in it?!”  Well, not always like that.  But honestly, cooking with her is one of my favorite-st things to do. We chop up recipes, hash out techniques, and both of us know how to ‘stir the pot’ as it were.  It is so much fun.Suzanne Griffin

So guys, here’s the thing and it ain’t hard.

  1. Clean your house.  And I mean CLEAN it.  Dust, wash, scrub if you have to, air it out and buy one or two (no more!) scented candles.  I suggest cinnamon.
  2. Clean yourself . . . shower, bathe . . . whatever and wear clean clothes.  Pick out what you are going to wear a week ahead of time.  Take your clothes to the cleaners so your shirt is clean and pressed.
  3. Read my blog! There are a few great recipes in here.  Think ahead about the meal you want to prepare. If you have time, PRACTICE making the main dish.  (Look, you have to eat anyway.) If you get stuck, drop me a note. I’ll un-stick you.
  4. Be ready when your date arrives.  Kitchen clean, items prepped in the refrigerator, wine glasses polished and wine chilled if not red.

Wine Glasses

I like to cook in front of my date but you may feel better/safer having many things prepared ahead of time.

Cooking is an intimate, kind gesture to make for a friend, new or long-time. Go ahead  . . . pamper someone . . . make their day.  They just might make yours!! ;)

Eat Well and Smile Often!!




p.s. Be kind for everyone’s life is hard – Plato

My Tree of Life!!

FigsI live in a modest home. My great aunt bought this house in ’46 and my grandfather planted vegetables in the spacious yard in the years following his retirement. When I got here there were 5 fruit trees.  The old apple I killed accidentally, the peach died from disease and the little plum was just too messy to keep around.  The survivors? – the pear and the fig. Old trees the pair – fruitful, happy and healthy. The pears came in over a month ago and were sweet, ripe and delicious. The fig produces 2 crops each year, one early summer and one right . . . about   . . . now!

Figs 2


Now every belief system has a tree of life in it. Mine happens to be the fig. It’s prehistoric in shape with its misshapen limbs and over sized leaves going this way and that. The gnarled trunk shoots up, the left, then right again.  Water shoots push out from its base and each branch has a new bud bursting even now.  This tree is hearty, ugly and cool. Each year my cool fig friend shares a bounty even my dogs enjoy. Those four legged little monsters run out to the yard each afternoon and sniff around the drip line for any overly ripe figlets that I failed to harvest. For years I wondered why my mutts would gain weight at this time of year, then I saw the reason.  We ALL like them there figgys!

What to do, what to do, what to do??

So what do you do with a bucket full of figs? You eat some as you are picking – Check!  You give some away – Check!  And you cook some – Double Check!!

Figs 3

Figs with Blue Cheese and Prosciutto

Bunch of figs
Thinly sliced Prosciutto, about 1 -2 oz.
Bit of Blue Cheese
1/4 cup walnut pieces
Maple syrup, enough to drizzle

Slice figs in half and place on a sheet pan with foil cut side up.
Nest a pinch of thinly sliced prosciutto into the cut fig.
Place a small crumb of blue cheese on the prosciutto and then place a walnut piece on top of the crumb.

Figs 4
Put the pan in a 400 F degree oven for about 10 minutes
Remove them to a plate using a set of tongs then drizzle with Maple syrup

Figs 5
Eat ’em up yum!

Each year at this time, with fall approaching and the days getting shorter and cooler, our lives here get a little brighter, a little better, and a little more fun as we eat figs.



Eat Well and Smile Often


p.s. Figs are meant to be shared so invite a few friends over, it’s what life is all about!