Mel’s Diner

Sharp Knives, Raw Meat and Fire

Preserved Lemons – iliketocook

Preserved Lemons – iliketocook In one of my past lives, I was a food blogger…and a pretty good one, for a while.  Before that, I was a political blogger and a pretty good one at that, too – but that was like two or three lives ago.  In my past foodie life, I was just a piker until I found a fantastic lady from Canada who inspired me and along the way I harassed her into recognizing me as a human being/blogger.  That got her friends to see me and then, for a short while, I was a real food blogger.  I let life get in the way and dropped out.  She, on the other hand, let life get in the way but had the tenaciousness to hang on and she is still a darling in the bloggy world I once inhabited.  And the blogosphere is better off for it.  This is one of her first blog posts that mentions the pest from New Hampshire….


March 28, 2014 Posted by | Appetizer, Best Friends, Side Dish | Leave a comment


OK, thinking BLT stuffed tomatoes. The filling has to be loose when cooked and this is what I’m thinking:

• Bread crumbs
• Cooked Bacon
• Cheese (dare I say optional?)
• Mayo or Olive oil (Mayo gets a bit gross when warm)
Served on a bed of lettuce (maybe with mayo on the lettuce?)

What do you think?

March 25, 2014 Posted by | Appetizer, Main Dish, Side Dish | Leave a comment


While at the bookstore last week I picked up a little book in the sale section called The Great Salsa Book.  I like salsa and I think I make a pretty good basic Tomato Salsa Fresca.  This weekend, on a whim I thought I would try the first recipe in the book, Tomatilla Salsa Verde.  I’ve never really had a green salsa, living in New England and all, but I thought what the heck, let’s give it a shot. 

Tomatillo Salsa Verde


  • 1 lb tomatillos
  • 3 Serrano chiles with seeds (I had Jalapenos, so I used them)
  • 3/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 tbls. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt


Husk & rinse the tomatillos. Coarsely chop them & place them in a food processor or blender. Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor & puree. Transfer to a serving dish but let it sit for about 30 minutes before serving.

I tried this as soon as it came out of the food processor – it was terrible!  Very bitter!  SO, I let it sit like the recipe says and, lo and behold, it was much better.  Still, fairly bitter, but quite nice on a corn chip.  Interesting.

After that, I was inspired to do more salsas!  I had two poblanos and a left over Fresno pepper and two jalapenos.  I roasted them by putting them under the broiler and flipping them as they blackened their skins.  Out of the oven and into a plastic bag to steam for 20 minutes.  Out of the bag, peel the skins off and de-seed.  I then diced my roasted peppers and put in a bowl.  Add to that a small onion, diced, one large tomato, peeled and diced.  A tablespoon or two of olive oil and 2-3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, salt, ½ small bunch of cilantro and ½ of a lime, juiced.

This one – really good.  The roasted peppers added a different dimension and it wasn’t as spicy/hot as my regular salsa. 


August 10, 2009 Posted by | Appetizer, Recipe, Side Dish | Leave a comment


If Mike is anything, he’s consistent.  And a constant here at Mel’s Diner is squeaking in at the very last second a Weekend Cookbook Challenge entry.  Carla at Chocolate Moosey is hosting the WCC this month and the deadline is tomorrow – meaning this entry is actually a whole day early, come to think of it.  There’s no reason for this to be so late, after all she’s picked a theme near and dear to my heart and many others – garlic.  As many of you know, I get about fifty heads a year from my Garlic Guy at the farmer’s market, so this was just perfect.

But, what to make?  I bandied about making a 40 clove chicken or perhaps a garlic soup.  What I finally settled on was an Aioli – a garlic-mayonnaise dip.  I also decided I would use the recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook, one of the first cookbooks we ever had – Molly got it as a present from her boss over 15 years ago.  But, when I was ready to start today, I couldn’t find the cookbook!  Not letting that slow me down, I checked out other aioli recipes from other cookbooks.  There was a basil version from Eric Ripert that looked very nice.  But, I settled on an obscure cookbook I have, Dips, Salsas and Spreads from the Easy Entertaining series, because it was similar to the Silver Palate version.



  • Large pinch of salt
  • 6-12 cloves of garlic
  • Large pinch of breadcrumbs (I didn’t use them)
  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 2 Cups of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons of lemon juice

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade or in a blender, process the salt and 6 cloves of garlic to form a paste.  Add remaining garlic cloves as desired.  Add the bread crumbs and process into a consistent paste.  Add the egg yolks and process mixture until smooth.  With motor running, pour in the olive oil in a slight trickle and gradually incorporate into the mixture.  As the sauce begins to thicken noticeably, the oil can be poured in a steadier flow.  After half the oil has been added, add the lemon juice.  Continue adding oil and, if necessary, a bit of water until the desired quantity of sauce is reached.

Very garlic-y, very good-y, too.  It took just a few minutes to make and didn’t use anything I don’t have on hand anyway.  Shamefully, this is the FIRST time I’ve made it and I’m kicking myself for waiting so long – you can be sure I’ll make it in the future. 

Here’s my ingredients.  As you can see, I used only 5 or 6 big cloves.  My garlic is a “super garlic” strain, so even though there are just a few, it is a whole head and they are strong.


Here’s the garlic in my mini-food processor. 


I found it chopped it fine, but then just pushed the pieces up against the wall of the processor.  So I pulled them out and put them trough my low tech food processor – the mortar and pestle.


I put the mashed garlic back in the processor and finished it.


Into a serving bowl with green peppers.

September 29, 2008 Posted by | Appetizer, Weekend Cookbook Challenge | 1 Comment


I love Farmer’s Markets.  I mean, I am not an outdoors kind of guy, so you would think going outside hang out with a bunch of un-reformed hippies would be the LAST thing this guy would want to do.  But, every week I jump out of bed early to get to the market.  I even prefer the hippies over the more corporate farms that dot the market here and there – I trust and like their food more.  It’s an enigma.

So, when Michelle from Je Mange la Ville picked Farmer’s Markets for this month’s Weekend Cookbook Challenge, I smiled like a kid in a candy store.  I had no idea what to make, but I knew all I had to do was to go to the Farmer’s Market and let it tell me what to make.

So, on Saturday I went to the market and came home with:

  • 2 heads of lettuce
  • 1 bunch of carrots
  • 1 bunch of beets
  • 7 or 8 tomatoes
  • 4 or 5 small-ish cucumbers
  • 1 bunch of onions
  • 1 donut (OK, that didn’t make it home)

So, what to make?  Gazpacho!

For a recipe I looked through the cookbooks and settled on The Silver Palate Cookbook.  The only thing that had my head cocked was the addition of EGGS.  OK, I know where my eggs come from and I wouldn’t be scared to eat them raw, but in gazpacho?  I couldn’t do it – so I left them out; I also didn’t have fresh dill, so I used dill weed.  I cut the recipe in half because I didn’t need to serve 8-10 people.  But, here’s the recipe in it’s entirety:


  • 6 large ripe tomatoes
  • 2 sweet red peppers
  • 2 med. sized yellow onions
  • 2 large shallots
  • 2 large cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups canned tomato juice
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

Wash & prepare the vegetables. Core & coarsely chop the tomatoes; save the juice. Core, seed and coarsely chop peppers. Peel & coarsely chop onions & shallots. Peel, seed & coarsely chop cucumbers. In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, reserved tomato juice, canned tomato juice & eggs. In a blender or processor with the steel blade, puree the vegetables in small batches, adding tomato juice mixture as necessary to keep blades from clogging. Do not puree completely; the gazpacho should retain some of its crunch. Stir in cayenne, salt & pepper to taste & dill. Cover & chill for at least 4 hours.

Chilling the soup is a necessity and you won’t mind waiting the four hours after you taste how good it is.  A perfect soup for a decidedly un-perfectly hot day, which it was.

July 21, 2008 Posted by | Appetizer, Local, Soup, Vegetables, Weekend Cookbook Challenge | 3 Comments


This was supposed to be my THIRD Nigella post of this month’s Weekend Cookbook Challenge, but we all know what happened to the Zabaglione.  Oh, well – we all learn from our disasters.  But, a lot was riding on this post because I haven’t had a lot of luck so far.  The stew was waaaaayyy to mace-y and the zabaglione was, well waaaaaayy to pasty.

No worries, though.  The Pea and Garlic Crostini were wonderful and to quote James Barber, dead easy.  A sure thing for my next party:


  • 1 French baguette
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 8 oz. frozen young peas
  • 1 tbls. butter
  • 2 tbls. freshly grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbls. chopped mint

Slice the baguette into 1/2 inch slices, coat each one with olive oil and place on a racked baking sheet.  Place in a 400 degree oven for 5-10 minutes until they start to turn light brown.  Take out and let cool.

Cut the top off the garlic head and and drizzle with olive oil.  Place on a piece of foil and fold the foil over, creating a tent and place in a 400 degree oven for 45-50 minutes.  When soft, take out and cool.  Cook the peas in water until soft, no crunch wanted here.  Drain and put into food processor with garlic squeezed from the head, butter and cheese.  Process until nearly smooth and season with salt and pepper.  Spread on the cooled bread slices and sprinkle with chopped mint.

It’s very good.  I found that if you sprinkle the crostini with just a smidge of salt, they’re outrageous.  They’re bright green, easy to make and tasty – what else could you ask for?


February 18, 2008 Posted by | Appetizer, Recipe, Weekend Cookbook Challenge | 1 Comment