Smoked Ham Hock Cheese Herbed Pasta

Recently our pals over at Stoltzfus Meats sent me a new box  of meats and part of the box included a smoked ham hock. You may recall I used the Cottage Bacon from  Stoltzfus Meats  when I did my Smoked Hog Muffuletta.

So what to do with Ham Hocks?

I don’t cook with them often and when I do use them it’s usually like many people do. I put them in greens, lentils or beans.I wanted to come up with a recipe that was a little different and given it was a warm spell – not a soup. After a little researching in the vintage book collection,  I came up with a variation I have to say it was pretty good.

Smoked Ham Hock Cheese Herbed Pasta

What you will need:

  • 2 smoked pork hocks
  • 1 large bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup Parmesan, grated
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp good olive oil
  • 8 tbsp mascarpone ( more or less to your taste and texture)
  • 1 package of linguine or any pasta of your choosing.
  • 2 cup peas

Feel free to experiment – capers, other seasonal herbs,  vegetables, even garbanzo brands could be included.

Making It

  1. Place the hocks in a large pan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour. 
  2. Remove from the heat and leave until cool enough to handle.
  3. Reserve about a cup of the stock. (you can  freeze the rest for the fall when its time to make split pea or lentil soups
  4. Remove the ham hocks from the broth, then peel off the skin and discard along with any excess fat. 
  5. Pick off all the meat and roughly shred/chop.
  6. In a medium bowl, mix 3/4 of the chopped parsley, parmesan cheese, black and red pepper flakes, olive oil, mascarpone cheese, apple/lemon mixture, 1/2 lemon zest and reserved stock. Mix well. Thin with the remaining lemon juice. Thicken with more mascarpone or grated cheese
  7. Fold in the ham hock pieces
  8. You want this to be a thicken “grace”texture. Remember when you mix it into the pasta it will loosen some with the heat.
  9. Bring a large pan of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the packet’s instructions (dont overcook the pasta). 
  10. Drain pasta (reserve 1 cup of the pasta water), returning the past to the hot pan,  toss with the ham mixture. Add reserved pasta water if needed to loosen. 
  11. Garnish with the remaining parsley and lemon zest and few thin slices of apple
  12. Serve warm.But I will say it reheat well too!

If adding other components like beans or veggies – sauté them off with pepper, garlic and olive out while the ham hocks simmer and let cool then mix into at step #6

If you aren’t into a lot of cheese – I also made it with just the grated cheese and it was just as good! Made a great side dish

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Slices

This dessert is the perfect example of divine simplicity.

You can use a either homemade pizza dough, or a store-bought pizza dough as your base. There are multiple recipe versions online, including the original version I saw for “Pain de Quatre Heures” from Jacques Pepin (He has it in his Heart and Soul Cookbook) where he used hazelnuts. As somebody allergic to hazelnuts and cashews, it seemed that a perfect solution for me, was to swap them out for one of my favorite nuts; macadamia.

Since I make savory Calzones and Stromboli‘s all the time it wasn’t a huge leap for me to do a sweet version. So no matter what you call it; a sweet calzone or a sweet sandwich, either way it’s going to be a sweet ending!

Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Slice


  • 1 lb pizza dough

  • 2 cups diced chocolate

  • 1-1/2 cups rough chop macadamia nuts

  • 1/2 stick of melted butter

  • Castor Sugar or Turbinado Sugar

To Make

  1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and its packaging lay out on a plate. Cover with a little bit of vegetable spray, vegetable oil or olive oil, cover with a piece of plastic loosely and a towel and put in a warm place for a few hours. (this will make the deal much easier to work with and so that you don’t have to roll it out if you don’t want to.)

  2. Preheat your oven to 425°

  3. Take a cookie sheet, flip it upside down and cover it with a piece of parchment paper or foil

  4. Spread your dough into a rectangle well, lay on the parchment paper.

  5. Cover the top half of the long side of the rectangle with the chocolate

  6. Then add the nuts spread on top

  7. Using the parchment paper as a support, flip the other piece of the dough over and seal the edges well

  8. Lightly coat the top of the dough with a bit of the butter (you’ll use the rest of it when it’s done ) makes three small cuts on the top for steam to escape

  9. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until dark golden brown

  10. Remove from the oven and place immediately on a rock in order to keep the bottom crispy.

  11. Brush on melted butter and a sprinkling of the sugar

  12. Let cool 10 minutes before cutting.

Dad’s Saturday Shelter Tuna Salad

This was a simple lunch my Dad used to make me on Saturdays when I would go into work with him At the New Haven Animal Shelter. He was the Director at the local Animal Shelter and I would spend weekends helping out. My Dad’s Saturday Shelter Tuna Salad is an Italian/Mediterranean inspired salad, based on the tuna packed in olive oil (instead of water), herbs and the sharpness of red wine vinegar instead of the traditional mayonnaise based tuna salad. This goes great on warm crusty breads or topped over greens even some warm from the oven Walnut, Bacon & Cheese Muffins

Dad’s Saturday Shelter Tuna Salad


  • 3 Cans Tuna in olive oil, drain (reserve the oil is optional)

  • 3 green onions, sliced

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Parsley

  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Dried Italian seasoning

  • Fresh or dried herbs of your choice

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Crushed Red Pepper

  • 1/4-1/2 cup Red wine vinegar

  • 1 – 12 oz can Garbanzo Beans drained

  • 1/2 cup diced Roasted Red Peppers (drained if jarred)

  • 1 lemon

  • Washed and dried Arugula

  • 1-2 hard boiled egg, peeled and diced

  • Hard crust style bread; italian, sourdough or rustic loaf

Optional: Fresh sliced fennel, sliced green olives, capers, chopped celery

Make It

  1. Open and strain the tuna into a bowl. Lightly flake with a fork.

  2. Dice the white and green parts of the green onions and sprinkle on top of the tuna (reserve 1/2 tsp for garnish)

  3. Open, strain and rinse in cool water the garbanzo beans and add to the bowl (cannellini beans also work)

  4. Add the diced (drained) red pepper, parsley, fresh/dried herbs of your choice, black pepper, salt and red pepper flakes.

  5. Add the red wine vinegar

  6. Slice the lemon in half. Make thin slices from 1/2 the lemon and juice the other 1/2 of lemon and add into the salad.

  7. Gently mix the salad to incorporate all the ingredients.

** Chill if not being used right away This can be made up to several hours or overnight up to this step. 

When ready to serve

  1. Taste for salt.

  2. If you like it less sharp, add a drizzle of good olive oil, more sharp? More lemon juice

  3. Make a bed of arugula on a plate

  4. Add a two slices of bread on the greens, drizzle the bread with Olive Oil

  5. Scoop the salad on bread

  6. Garnish with fresh parsley, reserved green onions and diced hard boiled eggs (optional; capers or dice up some of my Sherry’s Garden Pickles) and lay lemon slices along side.

Alternatives way to serve this:

Serve on its own or on greens, with a hunk of crusty rustic bread on the side, a chunk of asiago, ricotta insalda or pecorino romano cheese, some dried or fresh fruits figs, pears, apricots

Toasted Coconut Shrimp Dip

Back when I was still collaborating with @Foodtoktv and went live for them, I did a Spring Fresh Pasta & Vegetables, loosely based on Pasta Primavera. After a minor issue with boiling the pasta ( don’t ask) it finally all came together to rave reviews.

I paired it  with this  Toasted Coconut Shrimp Dip from the same period in the 70’s. Since there reaction previously to my vintage Clam Dip Crostini was such a huge hit. This version is adapted from Mrs Larry Simon’s version shared in the “WHAT’S COOKIN’? In Cleveland Ohio”  circa 1973

Toasted Coconut Shrimp Dip


  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted (Chopping optional)
  • 1/4 1b. cooked shrimp, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Dash lemon juice
  • Black Pepper to taste



  1. Mix all ingredients and chill several hours.
  2. Serve with chips or crackers.
  3. Makes about 1 to 1 1/2 cups.

Smoked Cheddar and Apple Danish Pudding

So I hate to toss away stale bread products and luckily I am a huge fan of bread puddings – so recipe was as a result of seeing what I had handy

I recently started using an app called TooGoodToGo as a way to see what kinds of food and perishables are available from local vendors as a reduced cost. This saves them from tossing out perfectly good merch and it saves me some money too! Danish and baked goods are a popular item and a a result I have some assorted danish and croissants that I wasn’t able to eat at its freshest. So what came to mind was, “lets turn it into a “bread pudding”.

I rummaged around and saw I had granny smith apples and some smoked cheddar cheese from Stoltzfus Meats out of PA. I had the opportunity to try some of the product they produce in a few recent recipes including Bacon, Onion, Cheese, and Walnut Bisquick Muffins and a Smoked Hog inspired Muffaletta and had been saving the last piece of cheese for something special.

Now before you say “no way” – remember for New Englanders eating pieces of cheddar cheese with Apples slices or on a piece of warm Apple Pie is cultural. So I figured what the hell. I also made a yummy caramel drizzle to use as a side sauce with some of the Celtic Sea Salt Caramels from Bequet that my pal Christine (Tiktoks @OctoberDragonfly)


My Day Old Danish, Smoked Cheddar & Apple Pudding

You can start with this Basic Bread Pudding Base; good on it own and very adaptable to any additions

  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) milk (or heavy cream)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 cups day old danish, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 5 tbsp light brown sugar (depending on how sweet you want this)
  • 2-3 tsp Ground Cinnamon or Pumpkin Pie spice Mix ( to your taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Butter or cooking spray for greasing pan

This amount makes for a perfect Loaf pan or regular pie tin. For a deep dish pie pan- double the recipe and pile it high before backing!

For Smoked Cheddar & Apple Danish Pudding variation you will need:

  • 1 cup small diced Stoltzfus Smoked Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 large granny smith apple diced in10 1″ pieces (washed but you can peal or not up to you)
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Pinch of salt

Making it

  1. Up to 1 hour before (or overnight), vigorously whisk together the milk, eggs, 1-2 tbsp of the brown sugar, vanilla and seasonings in a medium bowl.
  2. Put the cubed bread pieces into a large bowl and pour the liquid mixture over the bread pieces, stirring to combine and gently pressing to help absorb the liquid base.
  3. Let sit for at least 60 minutes, or overnight to soak up liquid.
  4. Cover and refrigerate

Baking Time!

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Take the soaked danish out
  3. Peel and chop the apples.
  4. Sauté the apples in a skillet; with remaining brown sugar,  butter and a pinch of salt until soft
  5. Remove from the heat
  6. Add the diced cheese to the cubed mix incorporate
  7. Using a slotted spoon, add the cooled fruit into the soaked danish, reserving the liquid in the pan and gently mix well .
  8. Grease/butter a pie plate or casserole dish and pour mixture into it. Pile it high.
  9. Drizzle the reserved sugar and apple glaze from the saute pan over the pudding.
  10. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon
  11. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour on middle rack until the pudding begins to pull away from the sides and has raised some. You want it to have a nice golden-brown top.
  12. Check for doneness (should not be any liquid when a knife inserted and pulled apart)
  13. Let cool 15-30 minutes before serving

The addition of the cheddar makes this a version a more New England inspired taste and can work as an unusual side dish dressing with roasted meats or add the caramel sauce, or top with a scoop of ice cream as a warm sweet treat.

You can substitute apple pie filling for fresh apples.

Clam Dip Crostini

I made this Clam Crostini recently to serve along side a  Spring Potato & Leek Chowder . The inspiration for these warm and bubbly appetizers comes from my Moms cookbook her cooking club created in the early 1907’s.  I have just amped up some of the flavors a bit

Clam Crostini


  • 1- 8 ounce package of softened cream cheese ( or combine 4 ounces of garden vegetable cream cheese spread and 4 oz of regular cream cheese.)

  • 1 – 8 ounce can of minced clams drained ( you can also use canned shrimp, crab, salmon etc)

  • 1/2 teaspoon of chopped onion or chives minced

  •  one dash of Worcestershire sauce

  • 1/8 of a teaspoon of curry powder

  • 1/4 of a teaspoon garlic powder

  • salt to taste

  • Black or white pepper to taste

  • 1-2 dashes (or more) Hot Sauce to taste

  • One sleeve of rye or pepperoni mini slices ( or use large slices and then cut accordingly) or use a Crostini. (The key is something firm or crusty to the topping during the broiling stage and stay stiff)


  1. Mix above ingredients together until a creamy and well incorporated.

  2. Taste for flavoring, add more more of what you like, accordingly

  3. Spread on each individual slice of crostini or bread slice

  4. Broil until bubbling and just browned

  5. Top with minced chives

  6. Serve warm

    Note: you can prepare this mixture up to a day ahead and refrigerate covered and then top the breads and broil just before serving

    You can also serve this warmed in a bowl and let folks spread it on vegetable and assorted breads themselves

Adapted from the cookbook by the Nutmeg Sugarrettes  1974

How to Avoid Injuries and Accidents in the Kitchen

Most people spend a significant amount of time in the kitchen. It’s the designated food preparation space and often where people gather to eat and socialize. After all, nothing brings people together like good food. Of course, in the process of preparing that food, you may run into a few hazardous situations. Heat and sharp objects are ubiquitous in kitchens. So how do you avoid injuries and accidents?

Prevent Fires

Kitchen fires can be uniquely dangerous. Far too many people don’t know how to address a kitchen fire and make the wrong decision, resulting in disastrous consequences. Of course, the best thing to do is to prevent them from happening in the first place. 

Never leave your stove unattended while you’re cooking. Keep your equipment and work area clean and free of combustible materials. Choose your clothes wisely–sleeves that are fitted, tightly rolled, or short are less likely to catch fire. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and make sure you know how to use it as well.

Practice Knife Safety

Knives are some of your most essential kitchen tools. The very thing that makes them so useful, however, is also what makes them dangerous–their sharp edge. Avoid injuring yourself or someone else by practicing knife safety. 

Wear a cut-resistant glove when using a knife, especially if you don’t have good knife skills yet. Cut-resistance gloves can prevent a serious accident with a knife while cutting food. Verbalize that you’re moving with a knife when doing so. Never leave a sharp knife in the sink. Always watch what you’re doing when handling a kitchen knife.

Take Extra Care with Hot Things

Fire isn’t the only hot thing in the kitchen. Boiling liquids, hot food, roasting ovens, and more can all cause serious burns. Reduce the risk of spills by keeping pot handles turned toward the back of the stove. Similarly, stirring implements should be placed out of reach when you’re not actively using them. Use quality oven mitts that are in good condition when handling hot pots and pans, and make sure you have a good grip before moving things.

A lot of what goes into avoiding accidents and injuries in the kitchen can boil down to slowing down and being careful, yet deliberate. It’s tempting to rush around to get as much done as quickly as possible, but that’s when mistakes get made and people get hurt. Ultimately, that slows everything down. Make “less haste, more speed” your mantra when working in the kitchen.

Did you enjoy reading this article? Here’s more to read. Who is the Paleo Diet Best For?