Category Archives: Food

Goetta, it’s a Cincinnati Thing!



I started eating goetta as child when I would visit Cincinnati for two weeks during the summer. I immediately fell in love with goetta! We didn’t have this in Chicago, or my favorite fast food Skyline Chili. Oh how I looked forward to my visits to Aunt Boo and Uncle Bob’s for the summer. The moment we stepped off the bus Uncle Bob would take us straight to Skyline or United Dairy Farmers (another Cincinnati original). Now Cincinnati has Graeters Ice Cream which I am particularly fond of. I don’t think I would have stayed here if weren’t for these four things! So what is Goetta? Goetta is a German breakfast sausage made from ground meat, oats and spices.

To cook goetta, you just treat it like sausage. I fry my goetta in a cast iron skillet with a very small amount of oil. I like my goetta cooked about medium crispy with over medium fried eggs.

Tips for preparing goetta

Slice goetta thin, about a 1\4 inch using a very sharp knife.

Do not let the slices touch each other in the pan… They will stick together and become one!

Once in the pan, don’t mess with it. Leave it alone until it gets golden brown.

And lastly. Never, ever, ever cook goetta without a shirt on! Goetta has a tendency to pop and explode while cooking. It only takes one pop of hot goetta on your chest to learn your lesson.


Spaghetti and Meatballs (Baseballs); Recipe

Spaghetti and Baseballs!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Baseballs!

Simply one of the most satisfying meals I’ve ever made. The over-sized meatballs with the addition of ground lamb make this even heartier. I received some great feedback from some tough critics.

Ingredients for the meatballs (Baseballs)

1 pound ground sirloin

1 pound ground pork

1 pound ground lamb

2 large eggs

4 sprigs basil chopped

3 tbsp chopped parsley

1 large onion finely chopped

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

5-6 thick slices firm white bread crust removed

1 cup whole milk

4-5 cloves minced garlic

3/4 pound fresh mozzarella cheese

6 cups Eric’s “Awesome Sauce”

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tbsp olive oil

1 pound spaghetti

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Let ground meats come to room temperature. Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add onion, garlic, basil, parsley and black pepper. Saute for about ten minutes or until onions become translucent. Don’t let the pan get too hot. Remove from heat and let cool for about 20 minutes.

Break bread into small chunks and place in a bowl and add milk. Use your hands to squeeze out the excess milk. Combine meats, eggs, Parmesan cheese, bread, cooled onion mixture and salt. Mix with your hands and form into baseball sized meatballs. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil. Brown meatballs turning once. Remove browned meatballs and place into Dutch oven containing sauce. You may need to do this in two batches. There may be more meatballs than can fit in your dutch oven. If this happens, simply use a large baking dish and cover with sauce. Cover Dutch oven or place foil over baking dish and cook in oven for 45-60 minutes. When the meatballs are almost done place chunks of fresh mozzarella on each meatball and return to oven uncovered until cheese is melted.

Prepare spaghetti as directed adding plenty of kosher salt to cooking water. The water should be as salty as sea water.

Cover spaghetti with sauce and one meatball on your plate. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and more Parmesan cheese.


Meatball Sandwiches

For meatball sandwiches prepare smaller meatballs and cook the same way. Just buy some Italian bread and cut into sandwich length. Top with thinly sliced fresh mozzarella, Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Ingredients for Eric’s “Awesome Sauce”

25 ounces chopped tomatoes

25 ounces tomato sauce

1 white onion

4-5 cloves minced garlic

3 tbsp chopped parsley

3 tbsp chopped basil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 tbsp olive oil

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add onion, garlic, parsley, basil and black pepper. Saute until onions become translucent adjusting heat so they don’t brown. Add chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Adjust heat to allow a mild simmer. Cook with the lid almost covering for approximately 2 hours stirring every 15 minutes. don’t let this burn!

Smoked Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin; Recipe

Smoked Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

I wanted to cook something special for some friends at work. I was going to bake brownies or cookies but one of my friends has some food allergies… What better way to get around that than pork wrapped in pork. This was absolutely delicious; we devoured these tenderloins in a matter of minutes. I promised them the recipe so here it is.


Two pork tenderloinsBacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin 1

1/2 pound good smoked bacon

1 bunch fresh sage leaves

Fresh ground black pepper



Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

Pepper tenderloins on all sides. place sage leave on all sides of tenderloins. No need to completely cover with sage; a little goes a long way. Wrap bacon around tenderloin. Place on a rack on a flat foil covered baking sheet or shallow roaster pan. Place uncovered in oven and cook until internal temperature reaches 145-150 degrees. Let tenderloins rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.

Tip: Place wrapped tenderloins with the bacon seams on the bottom so they don’t unwrap while cooking.

This recipe couldn’t be easier. Enjoy!

Crown Pork Roast with Mashed Potatoes; Recipe

Heaven on a plate!

Heaven on a plate!

Crown Pork Roast with Mashed Potatoes; Recipe

The other day I was shopping for groceries when I saw this magnificent Crown Pork Roast at the meat counter of Fresh Market in Cincinnati. I was supposed to cook Smoked Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin but when I saw this I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time and I have an abundance of fresh herbs to use from my garden. About 19 years ago while camping in Mercer, Wisconsin My son’s mother (while pregnant with Chris) and I went for dinner at The Club 51 on Highway 51 that runs straight up the middle of the state. I’ve had many epic meals at Club 51 (one of many famed supper clubs in norther Wisconsin) but this one was truly amazing! Crown Pork Roast with Rosemary Crust. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to replicate this.




5-7 pound Crown Pork Roast bones Frenched

2 Large sprigs rosemary

2 Large handfuls fresh sage

6-7 cloves garlic

1/4 stick butter

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp cracked black pepper or more to taste

Preheat Oven to 225 degrees

Let Crown Pork Roast come to room temperature for 1-2 hours on your counter.

Tip: letting your roast come to room temperature allows it to cook more evenly without the center being under cooked.

Cut butter into small chunks and place into a food processor; add remaining ingredients except olive oil. Pulse until well chopped. Add olive oil by drizzling into the top until a loose paste forms. carefully spread the paste over the entire roast. The paste will stick to roast quite well.

Going in the oven.

Going in the oven.

Roast uncovered until internal temperature reaches 150-155 degrees. Insert meat thermometer into the round end of the thickest part of the roast. My roast took about 5 hours but I caution; we are cooking to internal temperature not time. When your roast reaches the desired temperature; place on a cutting board and cover with a large bowl or foil. Let rest 15-20 minutes before carving. I normally start my mashed potatoes when the roast is almost done.

The Gravy & Stock

After the roast went in, I started the stock for the gravy. The butcher gave me the bone trimmings after cutting my roast to order. You can use bouillon but I prefer homemade and I had five hours to let my gravy stock come together.


2 pounds pork trimmings with bones

2-3 carrots with skin cut up

1 large onion cut up

2-3 ribs celery cut in half

5-7 cloves smashed garlic

handful black peppercorns

handful fresh sage

1 large sprig rosemary

1 cup white wine (not too sweet)

Corn starch slurry with water. Follow directions on corn starch package for amounts based on how much liquid the stock yields.

Place all ingredients except wine and corn starch in a large pot or dutch oven. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for the entire time the roast cooks. Add more hot water as needed to cover. When the roast is resting; drain the stock add wine salt and pepper as needed. Bring to a boil. Thicken with corn starch water mixture whisking as you add slowly. Make sure to keep mixing the corn starch and water so it doesn’t settle.

Mashed Potatoes

This recipe is based on my friend Jon Stiles’s recipe from his cookbook Cooking for Friends Vol. 2. I loved Jon’s recipe and tried it a little different. The ingredients are pretty much the same but the technique is a little different. I add more salt, garlic and pepper to mine but I add them to the cooking water and adjust for flavor after the potatoes are mashed. Jon uses fresh garlic and I used powdered. Jon told me once “don’t get too attached to fresh ingredients, powdered and dried spices are perfectly fine and have their place in the kitchen”.


5 pounds pealed Yukon Gold Potatoes. Do not substitute! Cut into chunks about 1/4 inch thick

Handful kosher salt

1 tbsp ground black pepper

3/4 -1 cup whole milk

2 sticks salted butter brought to room temperature and cut up

1 tbsp powdered garlic

Cover potatoes with cold water and add salt, pepper and powdered garlic. bring to a boil. Cook until tender but not mushy. Drain water and transfer to a mixing bowl. add butter and half of the milk. Mix on low speed until ingredients are incorporated then speed up. Taste; add more milk, salt, pepper and garlic as needed.

Carve roast one rib at a time. Plate and side with mashed potatoes and gravy.

I really wish Jon could have tasted this one… It was magnificent!

Orzo with Shrimp and Feta; Recipe

I absolutely love this recipe. Fresh oregano is a must in this Mediterranean masterpiece of simplicity. Serve cold as a summer side or main attraction. Omit shrimp for a spectacular vegetarian meal.

Orzo with Shrimp and Feta

Orzo with Shrimp and Feta



1 Pound shelled shrimp

1 Pound Orzo Pasta

1/2 Pound feta cheese

Juice of 1-2 lemons

Extra virgin olive oil

3 Green onions slivered

3-4 Cloves finely chopped garlic

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

2-3 Tbsp fresh finely chopped oregano

Handful of kosher salt for pasta water

Heat a skillet over medium heat; drizzle with olive oil and saute shrimp and garlic until cooked. About 5-6 minutes turning once. Remove immediately to a cool dish scrapping all oil and garlic out. Cool in refrigerator until ready to add to orzo.

In a large stock pot boil 4 quarts of water. Cook orzo per packaging instructions, should be between 9-11 minutes.

Tip: Heavily salt the water for cooking the orzo; this should be all the salt this dish needs!

Drain orzo into a colander; rinse for 30 seconds with cold water. Let drain for a few minutes.

In a large bowl drizzle enough oil to lightly coat the bottom. Add orzo, drizzle a little more olive oil and add all ingredients except feta. Mix well. Cover bowl and chill in refrigerator for an hour before adding feta cheese.

This recipe can easily be manipulated to make many variations. I look forward to trying this with fresh mint and parsley.

Arros con Pollo; Recipe



I was very lucky to grow up with Cuban and Puerto Rican friends in Chicago. Arros con Pollo and Arros con Gandules (Pigeon Peas) were two of my favorite dishes of all time. I would like to recognize a few people that shared some great Arroz with me over the years. Jenni Keas, Nellie Paddilla and mi Suegra (Gloria Rico). My all time favorite was when I visited my friend George Lamond in Queens NY. We walked over to George’s mom’s house and she had some Arros con Gandules for us. “Hands Down” my favorite and I’m still waiting for her recipe from George. Arros is by far the most difficult for me to master… I think you have to be Boricua to truly get it right. I could eat Puerto Rican food for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy! 

Well, I think I finally got it right due to some advice from a random Puerto Rican woman that visited The Party Source… “Let the water completely absorb into the rice before stirring and covering!!!!”


Whole Chicken cut up



1/2 Cup Canola or Olive oil

2 Cups Medium Grain Rice (Goya Brand)

4 Cups Boiling water

1 Can Gandules (Pigeon Peas)

8 Oz can tomato sauce

8 Oz jar Goya Sofrito

1/4 Cup Spanish Olives

1 Tbsp Alcaparras (small capers)

1 Tsp Garlic powder

The Tools

1 Tsp Black pepper

2 Packets Sazon Goya

Handful chopped cilantro

Stock Pot

Caldero (Imusa Brand)



Bring 4 cups of water to a simmer and have it ready to boil when adding it to the caldero.

Heat your caldero over medium high heat and add oil. Brown chicken pieces in batches for 5 minutes on each side and remove to dish.



Add all ingredients except rice and water to your hot caldero. Stir continuously for 5 minutes. Add chicken and rice to the pot and stir only once. Add boiling water to just cover the rice. You may not need all 4 cups of water; just enough to cover. Boil uncovered over medium high heat until water is absorbed. When the water is absorbed gently stir the pot a few times and cover. Cook for 30-40 minutes covered or until the rice is tender. There should be a bottom layer of crispy rice “Pegao” at the bottom of the pan… This is delicious!

Cooking Tip: Do not over stir the rice. Resist the urge or your rice will become sticky  or “Amogollao”

Cooking the rice over too high heat will burn the rice.

Arros con Pollo









Virgils Cafe Bellevue, KY; Restaurant Review

Homemade Pastrami

Homemade Pastrami

Virgils Cafe

710 Fairfield Ave

Bellevue, KY 41073

Price $$$$

Dress Casual

Menu changes daily


I have been hearing a lot of things about Virgils Cafe in Bellevue, KY just a 5 minute walk from my home. I decided to give Virgils Cafe a second try at some friends suggestions. Here’s the thing… I love food! I like when restaurants do it right; from service, drink selections to attention to the quality of ingredients. The menu is a bit scary with some fairly pricey items. However, when a restaurant cares enough to grow their own ingredients, make their own bread and pastrami; they should price their meals a little higher.

The day I visited I was very hungry. I introduced myself to the chef/owner Matt Buschle as he was finishing up the prep for the soup special; Hot and Sour Meatball soup. As I looked around the kitchen I saw some of the same Asian ingredients I use in my kitchen. It’s always a good sign to see Ketjap Manis and fish sauce on someone’s counter! I was definitely having the the soup! The lunch special sounded good but they had me at homemade pastrami on homemade rye bread with homemade potato chips. As I waited at the bar for my food I scanned the liquor selections. Is that Weller 12 Year Bourbon? Another good sign! As I was the first customer of the day Matt came out and chatted food with me; this guy is passionate about food. As we talked my nose was running from the spicy yet perfect expression of his Hot and Sour Soup; it was quite addictive! The meatballs were made of ground pork and shrimp. The meatballs were very tender; tricky because the shrimp could have made them rubbery. Not the case here.

Hot & Sour Meatball Soup

Hot & Sour Meatball Soup

There is a feeling I sometimes get at restaurants when an epic meal is laid before me. I don’t get it every time but this was one of those times. The feeling of excitement and anticipation hoping this will be something special and live up to my expectations. The sandwich arrived and I got the feeling. The potato chips were still sizzling from the fryer. The monstrous pastrami was topped with cheese, bacon, and sauerkraut. The bread was awesome; lightly toasted yet still soft. The homemade pastrami was amazing and I had trouble deciding if my next bite would be the potato chips or the sandwich. The sandwich was big enough to feed two people certainly enough to share. I ate around noon and was not hungry again until around 7PM. My experience on this occasion was stellar and I look forward to trying Matt’s Cuban Sandwich.

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