Archives for posts with tag: cooking

cheese spread

How to Make the Perfect Southern Sandwich
by Joan Leotta

At our weekly lunches,
my Georgia-born
neighbor, Faye, introduced
little Pennsylvania me
to her “perfect sandwich,”
bread spread with a
mix of cheddar, roasted red peppers
(pimento) and Southern charm.
I begged for the secret to the
orange-red spread I had never
tried before eating it with Faye,
what she told me was called
“pimento cheese.”
At last, one afternoon, she invited
me into her kitchen
to demonstrate how,
when blended with Duke’s mayo,
canned pimento punctuates
shredded white cheddar
with a vinegary spike.
“Duke’s blends it all,”
Faye whispered. “Duke’s is
the secret, the kiss of the South.”
We mashed the ingredients
together with a fork.
Then she smothered white bread
slices with a knife-full of gold,
deftly trimmed off crusts
and with one swift stroke,
divided the sandwich
into triangles, one each.
“So, Northern Girl, what do you
think?” she asked. I replied,
“I think I’m buying a jar of Duke’s.
These sandwiches are perfection.”

PHOTO: Still from youtube video How It’s Done: South Carolina Pimento Cheese by Discover South Carolina, All Rights Reserved. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I first tasted Pimento Cheese at the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, at the site’s snack bar with my friend Faye, and then at the Indigo Inn in Charleston, South Carolina. Like any recipe that’s made in many families, there are numerous versions across the South. Some folks add cream cheese to make the mixture more spreadable. (If using cream cheese in the recipe below, use 3-4 ounces room-temperature cream cheese). Some families add cayenne pepper and/or Worcestershire sauce. I like it plain. I use white sharp cheddar because I like the color to come from the pimento only. You can also use sharp yellow cheddar.

cheese pamela mcadams licensed

Joan’s Pimento Cheese (with a nod to the Indigo Inn in Charleston, South Carolina)
1 cup freshly grated extra-sharp white cheddar cheese (do not buy pre-grated).
2 ounces pimento peppers, well drained and chopped
3 tablespoons to ½ cup Duke’s Mayonnaise
Dash of cayenne pepper
Stir and stir until the ingredients are well blended. Refrigerate. Lasts one week.

Photo by Pamela McAdams, used by permission. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta, a Pittsburgh girl now living in North Carolina, plays with words on page, stage, and in the kitchen where she balances Southern Italian cooking with American Southern. Her poems, essays, and stories have appeared in Silver Birch Press, Potato Soup Journal, Sasse, Highland Park Poetry, Verse Virtual and Visual Verse and others. Her chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon is available from Finishing Line Press.

benjamas suwanmanee licensed
The Fallback Plan
by Jay Passer

my niece moved to Santa Cruz
to attend the University there.

for her birthday I gave her a nice
chef’s knife, cutting board, and
a clean bar towel.

she was delighted, but perplexed
by the bar towel.

what’s this for?

2 functions, I said. wet it a little
as an anchor for the cutting board,
so it doesn’t slip around while
you’re using the knife.

she pursed her lips and nodded.
and the other?

to practice flipping pizza pie,
of course.
just pretend the towel is the dough.

I showed her how.
she was tickled, but flummoxed.

why would I ever need to know
how to do that?

her major is astrophysics.

you never know, I said,
keeping that Cheshire smile to myself.

Photo by Benjamas Suwanmanee, used by permission.

towel toss

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was a pizza cook for several years, and in the beginning cheated a bit by using a damp bar towel to simulate a pizza dough in order to practice twirling. If the dough is proofed properly, it’s not absolutely necessary to twirl (although the centrifugal force does quicken the expansion process), but if you’re working in an exhibition kitchen it’s definitely worth it because the kids love it.

PHOTO: Still from youtube video Pizza Toss 101 with Carl Penrow. Watch the video here.


Jay Passer’s poetry and prose have appeared online and in print, in anthologies, chapbooks, and a few full length volumes, since 1988. He lives and works in San Francisco, the city of his birth.

Gastronomical Archive
by Jennifer Lagier

Mother uses her black cookbook
with a broken spine
as a portable file
for historical treasure.
Here cioppino recipes
cohabitate with obituaries,
expired coupons and cards
for religious novenas.
When I die, she says,
I give my jewelry
to your sister.
But for you, I have
saved something precious

Between Betty Crocker’s
scorned printed pages,
my inheritance nestles,
yellowed cooking instructions
written with a leaky pen,
on Sunday offering envelopes.
Secrets reside inside
this bulging cover
bound with rubber bands,
a hidden, tantalizing feast
of delectable pleasures.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I took this photo of my mother’s cookbook.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Mom’s cookbook is a treasured kitchen icon and family legend.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published 12 books and in literary magazines, taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, and helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Her newest books are Scene of the Crime (Evening Street Press) and Harbingers (Blue Light Press), and her forthcoming chapbook is Camille Abroad (FutureCycle). Visit her at

Author photo by Laura Bayless. 

Beach Food
by Steve Klepetar

My mother baked a cake
and stood
by the edge of the sea.

Too sweet, too dry,
my father said,
flinging his slice into the rusty

waves. She offered a peach,
its pit removed
and stuffed with Parisian cream,

a basket filled with sandwiches
on little, soft rolls.
My father swam out with his

hunger, past the buoys, ignoring
the lifeguard’s whistle
and call. When he returned, it was night

and fires blazed along the beach.
We headed for the car as meat sizzled
and gray smoke rushed toward the vacant sky

IMAGE: “Interrupted Picnic” by Jack Yerka (2006).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: While I admit that this memory has been embellished a bit, food was an important component of my family’s beach experience. My parents sometimes disagreed about the menu. I remember how we always left, much to my salivating regret, as the rest of our family tossed steaks on the barbecue.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Klepetar’s work has appeared worldwide, in such journals as Boston Literary Magazine, Chiron, Deep Water, Expound, The Muse: India, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Voices Israel, Ygdrasil, and many others. Several of his poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize (including three in 2015). sRecent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo Poems, both from Flutter Press. His full-length collection Family Reunion is forthcoming from Big Table Publishing.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Here I am on the beach at Cozumel last December. I’ve just hurled a slice of cake into the sea.

masterchef australia
by Sheikha A.

A cage of silk is weaved over
a spoon — sugar transformed.

People over a stove are
what magic is made from.

My only skill of knowing
the coldness of a kitchen is

not knowing how the whites
of an egg is turned to lace
on a bed of yolk

and cryptic letters of power
that become edible commodities.

My flair at recipes remain
carvings on old caves —

battling a spoon in a bowl.

I watch cooks master a plate;
imagine myself primly poised

over a steam of slow-cooking
fantasies; serving a fleet

from scraps; I see vapours
become aromas

while all I can do is look
through the glass,

write a ballad
on how I couldn’t
feed hunger.

PHOTO: MasterChef Australia Season 7 (2015) winner Billie McKay (left) and finalist Georgia Barnes.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem watching MasterChef Australia, a program I think that is sheer poetry on a plate! The creation process of food bedazzles me, for never having cooked beyond simple dishes that suffice to fill the stomach on a hungry day, and from never having tested my hands at creating a boastful dish, I envy cooks and their ability to walk into a kitchen and see possibilities, while all I feel is anxiety for not knowing the names of simple ingredients!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sheikha A. is from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Her work appears in over 80 literary venues so far, including several anthologies by different presses. She edits poetry for eFiction India. More about her can be accessed on her blog

lockie bride

Humble Pie
by Ellaraine Lockie

I imagined being a gourmet cook when I was newlywed and made Julia Child’s recipe for “Chicken With Forty Cloves of Garlic.” Packed the garlic between and over the poultry pieces in my roasting pan. Popped it in the oven. A perfect company dinner on an afternoon errand day. Julia clearly a practical cook.

I returned rounding the cul-de-sac corner to a reek rivaling the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Garlic gone hysterical in my house a half block away. I tamed the traumatic aromatics with watering eyes and open doors. Barely before guests arrived to dine on a disappeared chicken.

We finally found the bantam buried in a garlic grave. Last rites representing culinary miscalculation. Julia of course incorrect.

Twelve dollars of garlic tossed down the garbage. Garnished with Julia. Where she remained rotting in my opinion. Until Betty Crocker rescued her with a string of semantics. Reeled her right out, clinging to the difference between a clove and a bulb. My culinary conceit decomposed.

PHOTO: Bridal Portrait of Ellaraine Lockie in Bozeman, Montana.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  When I was first married, I imagined I was a cook, although I’d never cooked a meal. Instead, I spent the summer before my wedding reading books about cooking, thinking that everything can be learned through reading. I knew it all! This poem portrays one of the many fiascos that taught me otherwise. I did finally become proficient with the culinary art, and next year my kitchen companion and recipe book for lactose intolerant people will be published by St. Johann Press.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ellaraine Lockie’s eleventh chapbook, Where the Meadowlark Sings, won the 2014 Encircle Publication’s Chapbook Contest. Her newest collection, Love Me Tender in Midlife, has been released as an internal chapbook in IDES from Silver Birch Press. Other work has received the Women’s National Book Association’s Poetry Prize, Best Individual Collection from Purple Patch magazine in England for Stroking David’s Leg and the San Gabriel Poetry Festival Chapbook Contest win for Red for the Funeral. Ellaraine teaches poetry workshops and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, Lilipoh.

Author photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher.

nigella lawson
Imaginary Chef
by Robbi Nester

In my fantasies, I have the knife skills of a ninja,
carving radishes into netsuke.
Beneath my fingers they emerge
as men or beasts, crane or tortoise,
in every attitude of life.
In my kitchen, gleaming copper saucepans wink,
my mise-en-place a thing of wonder,
the cupboards perfectly arranged.
I taste the world, recognize ripeness by scent,
by the way the skin gives under my thumbnail.
Striding through fields of lavender,
or teasing out saffron with the tips of my fingers
from the throats of reluctant poppies,
I am master of every ingredient.
The earth’s simplest offerings,
onions, potatoes, garlic,
sweetening for weeks beneath the earth,
yield up their secrets to my sauce,
its splash of cream spreading
like a cloud on a blue ceramic sky.
The world is my palette,
colors capable of endless combination,
the simple act of nourishment my gift.

PHOTO: Celebrity British chef Nigella Lawson (photo by Charles Birchmore, BBC, all rights reserved).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester likes to cook, sometimes spending days attempting interesting new recipes and watching Top Chef and Chopped obsessively, but she is no great chef. However, she can dream….In between attempting new dishes, she writes poems in Southern California and is the author of a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012), a collection of poems, A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014), and editor of an anthology, The Liberal Media Made Me Do It (Nine Toes, 2014).

Brown Gold
by Massimo Soranzio

Do you remember when our old grocer
took out the jar from under the counter
and opened it with great care, like fearing
the brown cream might escape?

Do you remember the way he slathered
the smooth, glossy dark substance on a sheet
of the same paper he used to wrap cheese
in, or red Parma ham?

Do you remember all the hazelnuts
we stealthily picked in our neighbour’s field,
to mix with melted chocolate at home,
like little alchemists?

Do you remember how our teacher used
to point to the door each time we returned
after the break, faces smeared brown,
still licking our fingers?

Do you remember how, when we found out
we were a young man and a young woman,
our first kisses tasted of the sweet cream
we shared behind your house?

Do you remember how on our first night
we made our white bodies brown, and sticky,
and we would not stop licking each other
till they were white again?

Why should you wonder then if every time
we fight, and you won’t look at me, or speak,
I mix flour, eggs and milk, and make crêpes
for you, filled with brown cream?

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I couldn’t find a Nutella-related picture, but in this one, I was probably four – the number of candles I’m blowing indicates it was very probably my elder sister’s birthday cake.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: If you google “Nutella + poem,” you will find hundreds of odes dedicated to one of Italy’s best loved exports. When I was a child, in the 1960s, grocers used to sell it out of big jars or pots, just like they sold suet, or soft cheeses. There were no little individual jars then, as far as I remember. That’s my first memory of Nutella, the beginning of a long-lasting love story. At least twice a month now, as I sit down on the sofa to relax in the afternoon, my wife will tell our little daughter: “Ask daddy to make some Nutella crêpes for you” – and I can never say no to my daughter, of course…


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Massimo Soranzio writes on the northern Adriatic coast of Italy, about 20 miles from Trieste. He teaches English as a foreign language and English literature in a high school, and has been a journalist, a translator, and a freelance lecturer on Modernist literature and literary translation. He took part in the Found Poetry Review’s National Poetry Month challenges Oulipost (2014) and PoMoSco (2015), and at present he’s enjoying a virtual tour around the world with an international group of poets on He posts some of his poetry on his blog,


by BAM

When I’d moved to Nagoya, had a sweet tooth. Wanted something, which defined the culture of Nihon in each bite. Found three skewered sticky rice balls, each a different color. My taste bud’s desires were fulfilled. Problem, I couldn’t read Japanese, so no dice on the name.

Showed my photo around.

“Name that food.”

Some called the dessert “Mochi.”

Turned out to be a generic title.

After describing the candy to a co-worker, she said I’d eaten, “Daifuku mochi.” Wrong.

A local friend couldn’t think of the name. He claimed the pink one was made with Sakura: cherry blossoms. The green ball had been mixed in matcha. “The white one’s just a sweet rice ball,” he said.

“From the Wagashi category.”

Didn’t taste any of that. Researched to find he was correct about the class of sweet. Knowing this I felt so close I could taste the answer to: What was the most satisfying dessert in Japan called?

Last night, bought some to share with my roommate—an artist. We enjoyed the dessert together—the best way to eat the food.

“What’s this called?”

“Sanshoku dango. Three colors dango,” she said while drawing me a picture.

Mystery solved.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My roommate and artist friend Yumi Dolce drew the words. She also inspired me to write the piece after we ate the sweet.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BAM graduated with a degree in English with honors, helps other writers, and has publications in many places (works have been awarded and featured) and teaches English in Japan—check out for more information.

PHOTO: “The most satisfying dessert in Japan.” Minato-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi, Japan (August 13, 2015).

by Jennifer Lagier

I’ve always hungered
for illicit thrills, the sweet forbidden,
preferred gorging on pastries
to sensible meals
of balanced proportions.

My wooden cooking spoon
whispers flirtatiously
to watering mouth, waiting hunger,
pursues tender apple slices,
grated cinnamon,
through shimmering butter.
Thick lemon custard
crooks a beckoning finger,
simmers with pungent zest,
wafts the scent
of promiscuous sugar.

Push-over dough
wants only to please you,
slithers beneath floured rolling pin,
spreads skinny pie crust.
The kitchen pulses
with erotic aromas.
I invite appetite
to pull up a chair,
settle in and feast
at my bounteous table.

AUTHOR’S CAPTION: Cookies—One of the five platters of assorted, hand-decorated cookies made for Christmas 2014.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’m Italian-American. For us, food is the sacrament of love. I’ve grown up cooking and baking. Every year, I’m the designated cookie baker for my large family’s Christmas celebration. Sweets are my second language.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published nine books of poetry as well as in a variety of literary magazines. Her newest book, Where We Grew UP, is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press. She taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, maintains web sites for Homestead Review, Monterey Poetry Review, Ping Pong Literary Journal and misfitmagazine. She also helps coordinate monthly Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Visit her at

AUTHOR’S PHOTO: Jennifer Lagier at the Bayside Café in Morro Bay, June 2015.