Mel’s Diner

Sharp Knives, Raw Meat and Fire


Ketchup.  I like ketchup.  My kids LOVE ketchup!  Many a (what I consider) fine dish that I have worked hard on has been covered in ketchup as soon as it hits the kids plates.  Sometimes, I cringe –  but, often I just remember what it was like to be a kid and how ketchup made everything taste better.

So, for years I’ve always threatened to myself to make homemade ketchup.  Never really searching out a recipe, I just harbored the fantasy of whipping up a tub of that tomatoey goodness.

Well, in the February issue of Saveur, I found a ketchup recipe and surprise, surprise I had all of the ingredients on hand.  So, with some time on my hands, I gave it a shot.


  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1⁄4 tsp. celery seeds
  • 1⁄4 tsp. chile flakes
  • 1⁄4 tsp. whole allspice
  • 2 lbs. tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1⁄2 cup white vinegar
  • 5 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Anaheim chile, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic

Wrap cloves, bay leaf, cinnamon, celery seeds, chile flakes, and allspice in a layer of cheesecloth; tie into a bundle and put into a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat along with tomatoes, salt, vinegar, sugar, onion, and anaheim chiles; smash and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until onions and chiles are very soft, 40 minutes.

Remove spice bundle; purée sauce in a blender until smooth. Strain sauce through a mesh strainer into a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 30 minutes. Add more salt, sugar, or vinegar, if you like.

Transfer ketchup to a glass jar. Set aside; let cool. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

So, what did I change?  What makes you think I changed anything?  Because we know you, that’s why Mike!  Well, I was out of cheesecloth, so I couldn’t wrap everything up in a bundle.  So, I just tossed the spices in and fished them out later.  And I got them, too – except for the mustard seeds and chili flakes.  Also, because I’m not the smartest person in the world and used decades old cloves for years, I put in five cloves.  This made the end product VERY clove-y, I should have used 3 or 4, tops.  Next time, I’ll use 3, maybe 2 because my cloves are fairly new.  I also used a 28oz can of tomatoes, this being January and all, and that’s seemed fine.


Even after those changes, it was pretty darned good!  Again, too clove-y, but cutting the number down would make it fine.  It is definitely not as sweet as Heinz and different, full of subtle flavors and tomatoe-y goodness.  A real keeper.


January 27, 2009 Posted by | Recipe, Side Dish | 1 Comment


The other night, I needed to make dinner (“Oh, really?  That’s what makes you so unique and different from everyone else.” – the stove) and I had no idea what to make.  Wandering around the grocery store, I bought the polyester of the food world – boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  I figured, how can you go wrong stuffing the chicken breast with cheese?  And I was right!


  • 4 large, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • ½ cup diced ham

Mix the cheeses and the ham together.  Using a filet knife, cut a pocket into each breast, stuff each with ¼ of the cheese and ham mixture and close with a toothpick.  Bake in a 350 degree over for 30-40 minutes, until the internal temperature hits 160 degrees.  Sauce with Béchamel.


  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • Bouquet Garni (bay leaf, peppercorns, parsley stems, thyme, etc.)
  • 1 1/4 cups of Light Cream
  • 2 tbs. of butter
  • 1 1/2 Tbls. flour

Add the onion, carrot, celery and the bouquet garni into a large pan with the milk and cream. Heat to a boil, turn off and allow the aromatics to steep in the dairy for thirty minutes.  After thirty minutes, strain the dairy into another pot and bring to a simmer.  While that is happening, melt the butter and add the flour.  Stir into a roux and cook to a pale stage. Add the hot dairy and whisk until it comes to a boil.  Oh, baby.


January 4, 2009 Posted by | Main Dish, Recipe | 1 Comment


Well, it looks like Clearblogs (my old blog hosting service) has disappeared again.  My old blog (the original Mel’s Diner – food version) is gone and my links to any of the pages are obviously dead, too.  Funny, the pictures still seem to be there, so I don’t know what all of this means.  What it meant last time was that I had the chance to re-do all of those fun recipes, like Papa’s Baked Beans, Nigella’s Christmas Cake, Mozzarella Cheese, Grilled Cheese and Pepper Sandwiches, etc.  And to me, that’s what it means now, too.

The main page is still up, but the stats read like my traffic now.  Total Members: 0, Total Blogs: 0, Total Entries: 0, Total Comments: 0.  After all those inspiring statistics, you can also search over  0  blogs.  Nice, huh?

January 4, 2009 Posted by | Random Blather | 2 Comments