Summer Garden Bloody Mary Mix

I have to brag a little about this recipe. “Summer Garden Bloody Mary Mix” is a homemade tomato juice cocktail mixer using ripe, juicy tomatoes, jalapeño peppers and fresh basil and parsley. It is full of summer garden flavors with a little “zip.” This tomato cocktail mixer recipe is delicious — much better than anything you will find in a retail store. And it is easy to make, too. Just roast the tomatoes and jalapeño peppers, saute the onions and celery. Then let everything simmer on the stove with a few more seasonings as the aroma of fresh herbs fills the air. Strain out the solids, dip the rim of glasses in course salt, add vodka and we are ready to go and enjoy the hot summer morning — in the shade.

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Pecan-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Fig Glaze

Here we go again — Mardi Gras season in Louisiana just finished this week. This brings up many memories of visits to New Orleans during the weeks of Mardi Gras season to take in all the parades and other festivities. It also brings recollections of traditional French and Creole restaurants in this city as we often ate a fancy dinner at an up-scale restaurant during these trips. “Pecan-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Fig Glaze” is an elegant entree fitting for a Mardi Gras buffet or party. The recipe originates with the venerable New Orleans restauranteer, Ralph Brennan. His creation of stuffed roast pork tenderloin with fig glaze is an absolutely delicious way to prepare a pork roast and also feature southern figs. It is a quintessential New Orleans recipe. The pork roast medallions fit perfectly into a Mardi Gras themed event. Really, it can be served any time of the year. Here’s my rendition of the recipe.

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Oriental Marinated Petite Sirloin Steaks with Garlicky Braised Pak Choi

Marinate and then sear a petite sirloin steak in a garlicky, oriental-flavored concoction along with pak choi, and the result is a delicious, elegant evening supper. Petite sirloin steak is so juicy and flavorful. When prepared properly, this cut of meat can be tender, too. Petite sirloin steak is definately a cut of meat for bargain seekers. However, the real charm of this dish is the pak choi, a type of Chinese cabbage, which compliments the oriental flair of this dish. The white stems of pak choi are crunchy, like celery, and can be eaten either raw or cooked. The dark green leaves need only a minute or two to braise and wilt. The steak takes just a few minutes to sear, so this recipe is quick and easy to prepare. And, I am loving this sweet and sour oriental-type marinade with plenty of “pop” from the garlic and red pepper flakes. This dish is great!

About Petite Sirloin Steaks

If you don’t mind a slightly tougher cut of meat, then petite sirloin steaks are a good bargain compared to more expensive roasts and steak options. Any cut of steak is pricy these days, I’ll count my pennies when I can. These steaks were “on sale” and I quickly purchased them. I can work with a bargian! The trick to preparing a petite sirloin steak for tenderness is to marinate the meat, don’t over cook it, then slice the meat thinly across the grain. Medium rare to medium doneness is best. The result is a flavorful, fairly tender steak.

Sirloin steaks/roasts are divided into top sirloin and bottom sirloin sections. The petite sirloin steak comes from the bottom sirloin, closest to the rump of the animal and round steaks. The petite steak meat gets a workout as the cow moves and lumbers along, making this cut of meat slightly tougher. Petite sirloin roast/steaks, also know as ball tip cuts, are actually cut from multiple muscles around the hip of the animal. Thus, they tend to be smaller pieces of meat than top sirloin steaks. Often kabobs and fajitas come from this cut of meat.

Pak Choi

This pak choi is one of the stars of my autumn garden. At the plant nursery in September, I picked out a “mesclum” blend of tiny garden salad greens containing pat choi. The pak choi quickly took over my garden. They grew so quickly, that I was caught off guard. Time to harvest these pak choi plants and use them in some oriental dishes.

Pak choi does not form heads like a cabbage plant, as you can see. They are a cluster of green leaves with long, white stalks. Pak choi is a member of the brassicae or cruciferae families, along bok choy, mustard greens, cabbage, kale, broccoli and cauliflower, Pak choi is very similar to bok choy. Both can be used in the same manner in culinary dishes — served raw, stir fried, braised and added to soups.

Recipe and Oriental-Style Marinade

I like to make American dishes with an oriental flair — I certainly don’t qualify as an expert in oriental cooking — but I do know what flavors I like. The contrast of ingredients in this marinade makes this dish unique. The marinade is sweet, yet sour plus a little salty. The ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil all give an oriental flavor and the red chili flakes make the dish “pop.” Plus, the marinade contains lots of garlic which give balance to the meat and pak choi. I love garlic!

The recipe for this steak and marinade was adapted from one used by Ree Drummond. She’s the “Pioneer Woman” on the Food Network television cable channel and she also has at least one internet cooking site. Although I rarely watch the Food Network channel, I happened to have it playing in the background one morning. When the Pioneer Woman mentioned “Skirt Steak with Pak Choi,” my attention took notice and I wrote down the link for the recipe which I used as the basis for my adapted recipe. Ree Drummond claims that this is one of her favorite dishes to cook when she is home alone. Skirt steak is so, so expensive; that’s not my average “stay at home” meal. More power to the Pioneer Woman!

Here are the ingredients for my marinade. For simplicity, I’m using minced garlic from a jar. As an interesting note, this marinade doesn’t contain oil — except for a bit of sesame oil. I like the flavor of rice vinegar in this marinade. Soy sauce, brown sugar are a must. I used ground ginger — that’s always available in my kitchen cabinet.

To make the dish, mix al the ingredients for the marinade in a small non-metallic bowl. Reserve three fourths of the marinade. Add the petite sirloin steak pieces to the marinade in the bowl, turn to coat with the marinade. (Make sure that you have added most of the garlic pieces to the bowl.) Cover and refrigerate for one hour to overnight. Then set the meat on the kitchen counter to bring to room temperature for at least half an hour. Heat a cast iron steak to high, add oil. (Add little butter just prior to adding steak.) Remove the steak from the marinade, let excess marinade drip off. Cook over medium high heat, turning to cook both sides. I like to use my cast iron skillet for pan recipes such as this one which call for searing the meat. This skillet holds the heat well and cooks evenly. Cook until nicely browned and to your preference for doneness — about 5 minutes for the first side and a few minutes for the second side.

Move the steak to the side (or remove from the skillet). Add the pak choi. Cook until slightly charred; only about one minute per side. The pak choi will cook and wilt quickly. Pour some of the remaining marinade over the pak choi and steak. Spoon and toss over the meat and pak choi.

Remove the petite sirloin steaks to a cutting board and let set about 10 minutes prior to slicing. Then arrange the steak, pak choi and remaining drippings in the skillet on a plate. Pass any remaining marinade.

Delicious. Since we are in Louisiana, I served this steak with some rice and sprinkled on green onions for garnish!. This is a great recipe including the marinade and it is an interesting way to use my garden-fresh pad choi. It is worth saving and a dish I’ll be making again. And if skirt steaks are ever on sale, you can be sure I’ll stock up on the bargian!

Oriental Marinated Petite Sirloin Steaks with Garlicky Braised Pak Choi

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 lb (3 pieces) petite sirloin steak
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp minced, jar garlic, drained
  • dash red pepper flakes
  • 1Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 6 to 8 pad choi leaves, or 3 small pad choi heads
  • hot cooked long grain rice
  • 4 green onions, sliced

Method and Steps:

  1. Rinse steaks, trim off fat or tendons, if needed. Pat dry. Place in bowl large enough to fit steaks.
  2. In medium-size bowl, mix marinade ingredients: soy sauce, light brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, minced jar garlic (drained), red pepper flakes and sesame oil. Stir well to combine. Reserve 3/4 of the marinade. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. Add remaining 1/4 of the marinade to steaks and stir to coat. Make sure most of minced garlic is added to steaks. Cover bowl. Place in refrigerator to chill for at least one hour to overnight.
  4. When ready to finish steaks, remove steaks from refrigerator and set on counter for half an hour to come to room temperature.
  5. Heat canola oil in heavy, cast iron skillet or other large skillet to medium-high. When heated, add butter to melt.
  6. Remove steaks from marinade and let excess drip off. Discard the rest of this marinade. Add steaks to hot skillet and sear on each side until grilled and cooked to medium rare to medium doneness– about 5 minutes for first side and 3 minutes on second side. Move steaks to side of skillet (or remove to carving board).
  7. Add pok choi to hot skillet. Braise on first side for about one minute, moving leaves of pok choi around in skillet until all are charred. Turn leaves over and braise for a few minutes on second side.
  8. Pour on some of the reserved marinade, toss to combine coat steak and pad choi.
  9. Remove steaks to carving board, and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve crosswise into thin slices and place on serving platter.
  10. Place braised whole pak choi leaves on serving platter along with steak.
  11. Mound on hot, cooked rice.
  12. Garnish with sliced green onion, if desired.
  13. Serve remaining marinade in a separate bowl.

I had to pick all of my pak choi before the pests devoured the leaves. What will I do with all this pak choi? Give some away to friends. I’ll clean the leaves and stalks well, let them dry and then place in large zip lock bags for more recipes!


Salad for Two: Red Russian Kale, Apples & Cheddar Cheese

I am guessing that kale is one of the top picks on every nutritionist’s list of power foods. This vegetable is packed with nutrition — high in many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. We should probably eat this “leaf cabbage” vegetable much more frequently — but then I have such bad memories of being served overcooked, strong flavored kale in school lunches. That memory is about to change. I stumbled upon tiny Red Russian kale seedlings at my garden center and planted them in my autumn garden this year. I am pleasantly surprised with how well this variety of kale grew. The leaves are tender enough to be eaten raw in a salad and they are slightly sweet. Today I am making a kale salad and I am paring this simple dish with apples, cheddar cheese and almonds along with a lemon vinaigrette dressing.

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Easy Cook: Persimmon Custard

Today I’m making egg custard with an autumn twist. I have several persimmons remaining on my backyard tree and decided to add one to the custard which I am cooking. It gives the custard a unique “kick” for an interesting change. Custard is probably one of the most revered and beloved “comfort foods” around. I am sure that this custard will quickly disappear when my husband figures out that it is in the refrigerator — he absolutely loves custard. While rummaging around for custard recipes, I found several variations. This recipe is cooked on the stove — rather than a baked — which saves alot of preparation time. Although custard recipes traditionally do not contain cornstarch, this ingredient helps the custard thicken since it is not baked in the oven. I really like this recipe. It is fast and relatively easy to prepare. The custard is creamy and smooth without an “eggy” taste.

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Sweet Potato Spice Coffee Cake with Crumb Topping

It seems like I always purchase one too many sweet potatoes for the recipe that I’m making. I hate to waste food. Here’s a coffee cake recipe which uses just one sweet potato. I have been sharing Louisiana cuisine and beyond on my blog since my blog began. “Sweet Potato Spice Coffee Cake with Crumb Topping” is one of the first recipe ideas which I posted and it is still one of my favorite recipes. Today I made the coffee cake again using my last sweet potato. This coffee cake is full of pumpkin pie-type spices. The batter it includes both brown sugar and molasses. Add a crumb topping with aromatic pecans and the result is an absolutely delicious coffee cake. Watch out — it is hard to resist a second piece.

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Yellow Squash Ratatouille

It looks like I am going to have a bumper crop of yellow squash this summer if my giant squash bushes keep growing. I am actually observing a few bees in my garden; that’s a good sign. If yellow squash is fixed properly–it is very tasty. Otherwise, it can turn out to be the vegetable that nobody likes. To get ready for my explosion of squash, I am trying to recall all the squash dishes that taste really good! Today I am making an easy recipe which marries yellow squash with tomatoes and herbs. The dish bakes slowly in the oven which allows all the herbs and spices to meld with the squash and tomatoes. Even if you are not a fan of squash — the dish tastes great! I served the ratatouille with pasta.

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Louisiana Strawberry and Bibb Lettuce Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

For a few fleeting weeks in March, April and May, Louisiana strawberries ripen and are at their peak. You can find these luscious berries in local grocery stores and farmers markets. What is so special about Louisiana strawberries? I compare them to vine ripened tomatoes versus those which have been grown to travel long distances to markets. Louisiana strawberries are sweet, juicy and aromatic. They are picked when ripe; hence they are perishable and really are not suitable for transport to far away markets. Today I am enjoying these strawberries in a salad along with fresh bibb lettuce that I grew in my garden. I added feta cheese for flavor and nutrition, sliced almonds for crunch and served my salad with a Sweet Apple Cider Vinaigrette.

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Sweet Salad Greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette

I am always excited when something grows well in my garden, especially if it is a new vegetable or plant. I would never say that I’m a big-time gardener, I just have a small, sunny area in my yard which I call a “garden.” And I mainly do things by “trial and error” with the help of a gardening guide. If something grows well, I’ll try it again. In February, I transplanted a 4-pack of mixed lettuce-type seedlings — it was called sweet salad green mix. According to my gardening calendar, it really should have been planted in December thru January. But, I thought I’d take a chance. Why not? (I read the gardening guide after I got home!) Wow, in a month these greens flourished and grew well, as you can see. And so I am proud to be making a salad, “Sweet Salad Greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette,” with the greens.

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Let’s Make a Very Small Batch of “Kumquat Marmalade”

Let’s cook “Kumquat Marmalade.” And just what are kumquats? These tiny edible “oranges” pack some punch. My mother-in-law has a backyard kumquat bush which is loaded with fruit this year. You eat the small, whole citrus-type fruit, including the rind, spitting out the numerous seeds found in the pulp. Kumquats are about the size of a cherry tomato and taste like a pungent orange. I find that eating the entire fruit is a little overpowering. Instead, I made a small batch of “Kumquat Marmalade.” It was was delicious, especially when served with cream cheese and crackers. Making marmalade — one jar at a time — is quite easy and not difficult at all.

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