Crouton’s Fortress of Smoke™

I’m starting an equipment & technique section on this blog. This post is the first entry for the new section … the subject is Crouton’s Fortress of Smoke™; specifically some techniques for setting up and using a Weber Smoky Mountain cooker.

In the past Ditalini and I have smoked and devoured salmon, turkey, chicken, duck, […]


Oven Baked Beef Back Ribs

We had a couple of slabs of beef back ribs in the freezer and were looking for something to do with them. I saw this recipe online and thought it was worth a try, with a few modifications of my own. The idea is simple: cut the ribs between the bones, dry rub and let […]


Photoblog: an Italian Family Dinner

Yesterday Ditalini and her Aunt Radicchio made three pounds of gnocchi and a big pot of sauce.

Gnocchi (from Ditalini’s family recipe)

When it comes to rolling and shaping gnocchi, there’s some twist of the wrist thing I never quite mastered, but Aunt Radicchio, now the matriarch of Ditalini’s Italian-American family, passed the secret […]


Slow Braised Short Ribs

Slow braised short ribs with garlic mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus

This dish is from Hugo Ortega’s Backstreet Kitchen cookbook. I prepared it for a cooking club dinner the other night, and it was a hit. Although it may appear complicated, it’s actually easy to prepare (if you don’t count peeling the cipollini […]


deMenthe Thanksgiving 2013

We were all here for Thanksgiving: Crouton & Ditalini, our son Baguette, daughter-in-law Truffle, and grandson Pesce, along with our daughter Escargot and her boyfriend. Underfoot, of course, were Mortadella & Ubriaco, along with Baguette’s dog. Our poor old cat spent the day hiding in a closet.

What a great feast we had! Relishes, turkey […]


Separating Egg Yolks

Don’t worry about the language. You’ll get it.

Is that cool or what?


Technique: Peeling Garlic

I saw this floating around the InterTubes a while back and thought, “bullpucky.” Tonight, I tried it. Holy moly … it works!

Why didn't I know this before? All those years wasted, peeling one clove at a time!

And you know what? If it works for me, it’ll work for you!



Boeuf Bourguignon à la Julia Child

I finally tackled a long put-off project, the famous boeuf bourguignon (beef stew in red wine with bacon, onions, and mushrooms) from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

This is a recipe you’ll need to study and understand before you start, especially if you’re going to prepare it by yourself. You’ll need […]


Preserving Lemons

Preserved lemons have many uses, but we primarily use them to prepare two Moroccan recipes: Chicken Tajine (aka Rotten Chicken), and Chicken Tajine w/Harissa, Artichokes, & Grapes.

Ingredients & Equipment

6-12 lemons sea salt or kosher salt 1 qt fruit jar w/lid


Prepare preserved lemons 4 weeks ahead of need.

Cut the ends […]


Beer Can Chicken on the Barbie

Beer can chicken on the barbie (with sweet potatoes)

Everybody has a barbecue beer can chicken recipe. How is mine different? It isn’t, but I’ll try to make up for that by discussing good techniques for cooking it.


whole fryer chicken seasoning half a can of beer


Remove the giblets, rinse and […]