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Cool tricks in the culinary world

Pork Chops with Pineapple Mustard Sauce

Weekends are special around our home. That is a time when we try new dishes and new twists on existing ones.

This weekend I prepared Pork Chops on the grill and ate them with two dishes a friend prepared: Rustic Roasted Garden Vegetables and “Turnover Salad.”

Pork Chop Dinner

Before grilling, the Pork Chops were brought to room temperature and seasoned with salt, ground pepper, garlic powder, and rubbed sage. The way to add sage to a dish is pour it out in your hands and rub your hands together over the dish allowing the sage to drop down seasoning the chops.

Grilled Pork Chops

What makes this dish special is the sauce.

Pineapple Mustard Sauce


1 c Pineapple pieces
1/3 c Mustard, spicy
2 t Sugar

Place pineapple pieces in food processor and process until liquefied (I used my Ninja). Place liquefied pineapple in small pot with mustard and sugar and heat thoroughly. Spoon over grilled Pork Chops and Serve.

Crescent Roll Crust – Asparagus and Ham Quiche

I wanted to prepare quiche for breakfast but was looking for a lighter alternative for the crust since most quiche recipes call for a standard pie crust. Standard pie crusts are made with a lot of fat and tend to be somewhat heavy and have a flaky, crumbly texture.

I considered using puff pastry, but it is very high in fat and would not have provided the texture of the crust I had in mind. Another possibility I considered was phyllo dough, but that would have resulted in a crispy flaky crust. Plus, although phyllo dough itself is low in fat, in order to achieve the layers it is necessary to brush between each, usually with either melted butter or olive oil.

A friend (who not so coincidentally loves them) suggested using crescent rolls for the crust. Unaware of any other examples of using crescent rolls as crust for a quiche, I decide to try an experiment and use them.

Here are the results.

Crescent Roll Crust Asparagus and Ham Quiche


5 Crescent Rolls (I used low fat)

1 T Butter
8 Asparagus Spears, fresh
¼ Ham cubed
2 T Jalapeno pickled, chopped canned
1 c Spinach leaves, fresh chopped

4 Eggs
1 c Cream, heavy whipping
½ t Pepper

Smoked Gouda

Open the package of crescent rolls. Lay out 5 of them into a 9 inch pie pan starting around the top edge and pressing the dough until it forms a complete crust.

Bake crescent roll pie crust in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Trim off the fibrous end of the asparagus spears and cut into 1/2 inch segments. Saute in butter until soft, add cubed ham and cook until lightly browned. Heat jalapeno pieces with asparagus and ham then place in baked pie crust.

Whip eggs with cream and pepper then pour over asparagus, ham, and jalapenos.

Thinly slice smoked gouda and lay over the top totally covering the quiche.

Bake Quiche in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until jiggling the pan indicates the middle is firm. The cheese will also start to brown.

This recipe resulted in a very creamy quiche with a perfect crust. I will definitely make this again.

Pie Crust Shield

NOTE: You will need to either use a collar of aluminum foil or a pie crust shield to prevent the crust from burning while the quiche is baking. I got my pie crust shield for a reasonable price at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Check after 15 minutes of baking and if the crust edge is browning cover with foil or pie crust shield for the remainder of the time in the oven.

BTW – I baked the remaining 3 crescent rolls on a separate pan while cooking the crust the first time.

Vegan Party Guest

Anyone who entertains will sooner or later be faced with the prospect that one of the invited guests has nontraditional dietary needs. This is not something new because there have always been people who, because of a medical condition, conscience, or simply personal preference eat a diet different than others.

Our society continues to change, bringing with it added diversity. Greater mobility enables more of us to travel around the world to experience differing cultures.  The sharing of new and alternative ideas & perspectives predominates our communications. Medical research brings better understanding how foods and our diets affect our health both positively and negatively. All of this helps contribute to expanding dietary needs and expectations.

Being a thoughtful host who desires to be hospitable, making my guests comfortable and desiring to accommodate their needs, I contemplated “what would be the best approach to providing foods for the occasion when our guests have a variety of dietary expectations/needs?”

As I have mentioned before, for the birthdays of people who are close to me I have a standing offer to make for their birthday the meal and dessert of their choosing. This last weekend was the birthday of my son’s wife and she asked for Fettuccine Alfredo and Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Of course I was going to fulfill her request, but one anxiety I had is that one of the invited guests has adopted a dietary lifestyle that excludes meat AND dairy. Being that both Fettuccine Alfredo and Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting involve: butter, cheese, eggs, and milk I knew that if I as the host of the party did not make other arrangements, this particular guest would not have anything to eat.

Thankfully, I had inspiration for an experiment. Knowing that the majority of the invited guests preferred traditional dishes and were not familiar with eating Vegan, and were perhaps even repulsed by the idea, I conceived to make what she wanted using both traditional and Vegan recipes and serve them in parallel so the guests had the option to not only eat what they were familiar with but also be able to sample a Vegan alternative thereby providing them with a new experience and helping enlarge their world even more.

Dual Spread Vegan/Traditional

The menu for this party included: Green Salad with Vinaigrette and Ranch Dressings; Fettuccine with Traditional and Vegan Alfredo Sauce; Garlic Bread with Olive Oil & fresh minced Garlic; and both Traditional and Vegan versions of Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. The Traditional options are on the left of this picture and the Vegan options are on the right. (see below for recipes)

Traditional Alfredo Sauce

ALFREDO SAUCE (Traditional)

5 T Butter
4 T Flour

1 c Cream, heavy
1 ½ c Milk

4 Cloves Garlic minced *
½ t Salt
½ t White Pepper

1 c Parmesan Cheese
1 c Sour Cream

Melt butter in pan over medium heat, add flour and blend to make a paste. Pour in milk & cream and whisk to remove any lumps. Stir in garlic, salt, and white pepper and heat thoroughly. Add Parmesan Cheese and Sour Cream. Stir until blended and bubbly. Add more milk if needed to produce the desired consistency.

Serve over Fettuccine Pasta cooked al dente.

* You can substitute 1 t Garlic Powder for the fresh garlic, if necessary.

Vegan Alfredo Sauce


1/3 c Olive oil
4 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
½ Onion, yellow chopped

16 oz pkg Tofu, soft (drained)

2 T Basil, dried
2 T Parsley, dried
8 oz can Mushrooms, sliced (drained)
½ t Black pepper
½ t Salt, Kosher

Sauté onion and garlic in Olive oil.

Liquefy in blender.

Add Tofu to garlic/oil mixture and blend until smooth and creamy.

Put tofu mixture in saucepan, add basil, parsley, mushrooms, salt & pepper and heat thoroughly.

Serve over Fettuccine Pasta cooked al dente.

Traditional Chocolate Cake

CHOCOLATE CAKE (Traditional)

For the Chocolate Cake I tried a new recipe called “The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever” and was very pleased with how it turned out.


8 oz pkg Cream cheese (softened)
1/2 c Butter, softened
1 c Powdered sugar
1 t Vanilla

Blend Cream Cheese with Butter. Mix in powdered sugar gradually and blend until smooth. Add vanilla.

Vegan Chocolate Cake


3 c Flour, cake
2 c Sugar
6 T Cocoa powder
2 t Baking soda
2 t Baking powder
1 t Salt, Kosher

2 c water
3/4 c Vegetable oil
2 T Vinegar, white
2 t Vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix dry ingredients together. Mix in wet ingredients just before baking and continue mixing until you obtain an even batter.

Pour into 13 x 9 cake pan and bake for approximately 40 minutes.


1/2 c Cream cheese, Vegan *
1/2 c Margarine, Vegan **
1 c Powdered sugar
1 t Vanilla

Blend Cream Cheese with Margarine. Mix in powdered sugar gradually and blend until smooth. Add vanilla.


1 c Tofu, firm
2 T Vegetable Oil
3 T Lemon Juice
1 T Sugar
1/2 t Salt, Kosher

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Pour into a bowl and chill.

Earth Balance Brand Margarine

I used Earth Balance Brand Whipped Margarine which is both Vegan and Organic


Most of the guests at least sampled both versions of the dishes (Traditional and Vegan). Some rejected the Vegan option solely because it was Vegan or that the Vegan version contained Tofu. The guests who at least tried both versions were surprised that they tasted so good and said they never would have guessed they were Vegan if I hadn’t told them. My Vegan guest took what was left of the Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo and had it for lunch the next day.

Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Cream Cheese Filling

For me there is nothing quite like a freshly baked cinnamon roll first thing in the morning for breakfast with a freshly brewed cup of hot coffee. This recipe, with the addition of orange flavoring, adds a significant twist that I think you will find refreshing.

Orange Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Cream Cheese Filling

2 ¼ t Yeast
½ c Water, warm (110 degrees)
¼ c Sugar

½ c Milk, scalded
½ c Butter, melted
2 T Honey
1 t Salt, Kosher
2 Eggs

4 c Flour, bread

½ c Sugar, powdered
¼ c Sugar, brown
6 oz Cream cheese, at room temperature
½ c Butter, at room temperature
1 t Vanilla extract
2 T Orange juice reduction *
2 T Cinnamon, ground
¾ c Pecans, chopped

4 T Butter (melted)
2 c Sugar, powdered
1 t Vanilla extract
2 T Orange juice reduction *
3 to 6 T Hot water

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water and set aside.

In a large bowl mix milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and eggs. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth.

Add yeast mixture. Mix in remaining flour until dough is easy to handle. Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes. Place in well-greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size, usually 1 to 1 ½ hours.

TIP: To facilitate the rising of the dough, place a cup of water in the microwave on high and bring the water to a boil. Immediately remove the boiling water from the microwave and place the bowl with the dough in the microwave uncovered. Check the dough after one hour. If necessary, repeat the process, but only leaving the dough in the microwave for an additional ½ hour. Do not turn the microwave on while the dough is inside. The purpose of this process is to provide the moist, warm environment that is perfect for the yeast to do its work causing the dough to rise.

After the dough has doubled in size roll out on a floured surface into a 10 x 15 inch rectangle.

Spread the filling evenly over the rolled out dough, leaving an inch at the bottom uncovered. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts, pecans, or raisins if desired.

Beginning at the 10 inch side, roll up dough and pinch edge together to seal. With a very sharp knife cut into 8 slices.

Coat the bottom of two baking pans with butter and place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan and place in the cold oven.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned.

Meanwhile, mix together the glaze ingredients adding hot water 1 tablespoon at a time until the glaze reaches the desired consistency. Drizzle over slightly cooled rolls.

Orange Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls Pan

* To make the orange juice reduction, place 1 cup orange juice and ¼ cup sugar in a pan. Bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer and cook until liquid has been reduced to ¼ cup (8 tablespoons).