Category Archives: Food for Thought

Up Against the Wall


Mark R. Vogel

In 1929, Alphonse Gabby May Capone, a.k.a. “Scarface,” a.k.a. “Big Al,” or just simply, Al Capone, was vying for control of Chicago’s criminal enterprises with rival gangster George “Bugs” Moran.  A plan was hatched to rub out Moran and most of his outfit.  On the morning of February 14, five members of Capone’s gang lured seven of Moran’s cronies into a garage under the pretense of purchasing hijacked, bootleg whisky.  As part of the ruse, two of Capone’s thugs were dressed as police.  But the subterfuge worked too well.  Moran, who arrived late, saw the “police,” and dodged the meeting.  How thin the line is between life and death—for inside the garage, Moran’s men were lined up along the back wall and riddled with machine gun fire.  The infamous bloodbath went down in history as the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.”  Continue reading Up Against the Wall



Mark R. Vogel

 Sichuan, (also spelled Szechwan), is the second largest province of China, and is located in the south-western part of the country.  One of the more densely populated regions of China, its populace is ethnically diversified.  Surrounded by mountains and interlaced by the Yangtze River and its tributaries, Sichuan is one of China’s most fertile areas.  A significant amount of the province is dedicated to farming.  Sichuan leads China in rice production, but also produces numerous other agricultural products such as corn, sweet potatoes, wheat, barley, and soybeans.  Sichuan’s bamboo forests are home to the beloved panda.  Continue reading Sichuan

Roux the Day


Mark R. Vogel

 A roux is a cooked mixture of flour and fat that is used to thicken sauces, soups, and other preparations.  Although any fat can be used, butter is the most common.  Down in New Orleans, you’re likely to find unctuous roux made from lard.  A standard roux is comprised of equal amounts of flour and fat by weight.  Sometimes you’ll encounter recipes that deviate from this basic formula due to the type of flour or fat relied upon, but generally speaking, you really can’t go wrong with a simple one-to-one ratio.  Continue reading Roux the Day

The Ripper’s Time is Published

Written By Mark Vogel

History professor Henry Willows is in love—in love with Catherine Eddowes, the fourth victim of Jack the Ripper. Although over a century distant, Henry’s obsession knows no bounds. With the aid of an ingenious physicist, Henry achieves his raison d’être: a means to travel back in time, stop the world’s most infamous serial killer, and save the woman he loves. But the fabric of time isn’t easy to change . . . and the Ripper has plans of his own. Continue reading The Ripper’s Time is Published


Mark R. Vogel

Everyone has heard the term “control freak,” which describes a personality dominated by a need to control others and situations.  In essence, the person wants things done their way with little or no regard for other’s wishes.  The truth of the matter is we’re all control freaks; it’s just a matter of degree.  It’s human nature to pursue our innate inclinations and construct an environment amenable to our desires.  As stated, some of us are worse than others, but who doesn’t prefer to have things their own way?  Such is the human condition. Continue reading FOOD FOR THOUGHT: I DID MY WAY

Holiday Party Hors d’oeuvres V

Mark R. Vogel


Welcome to the 5th edition of Holiday Party Hors d’oeuvres.  Here’s another yearly compilation of recipes to spruce up your holiday parties.  Eat, drink and be merry!


This recipe comes from Chef Mary Ellen Scott.  Check out her website at

2 pounds shelled, deveined shrimp, minced
6 canned water chestnuts, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 teaspoons olive oil
Pepper to taste
Lemon wedges

Place all of the ingredients except the lemon wedges into a bowl and mix together.  Shape mixture into small balls. Place the balls on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Drizzle balls with olive oil and bake at 350º for 25 minutes. Serve with the lemon wedges.


This recipe comes from Chef Sheilah Kaufman.  Check out her website at:

½ cup lentils

1 onion, chopped

Olive oil, as needed

2 hard boiled eggs

½ cup walnuts

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Salt and pepper to taste

In a pot of water bring the lentils to boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until the lentils are softened.  Meanwhile sauté the onion in the olive oil until soft.  In a food processor, blend the lentils, onion, eggs and walnut leaving the mixture a little bit chunky.  Stir in the mayonnaise, salt and pepper.  Cover and chill.  If possible, allow the mixture to rest overnight so the flavors can marry.  Serve on crackers or party breads.


This recipe comes from Chef Ann Hall Every.  Check out her website at:

18 ½-inch slices of Italian or French bread

4 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing on the bread

2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved

1 ½ lbs. assorted fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley plus sprigs for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat up the broiler unit in your oven.  Place bread slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet, brush with extra virgin olive oil, and broil until lightly browned on each side.  Rub the cut side of the garlic halves over each bread slice and reserve.  Heat the four tablespoons of olive oil in a 12-inch skillet until it shimmers and add the mushrooms. Sauté over medium-high heat until mushrooms have released their juices and are slightly browned, approximately 10 – 15 minutes.  Stir in the minced parsley, salt and pepper.  Spoon an even amount of mushrooms on the toasted bread slices and arrange crostini on a serving platter and garnish with parsley sprigs.


Latkes are potato pancakes.  This recipe comes from Chef Faith Alahverdian.

1 ½ cups vegetable oil for frying

3 lbs. russet potatoes

2 medium onions

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon matzo meal

2 extra large eggs

1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

¼ teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon baking powder

Applesauce, sour cream, chives, or smoked salmon, (optional)

Heat up the oil in a wide, deep skillet.  Grate the potatoes and onions into a large bowl.  Transfer the mixture to a strainer and squeeze out the excess water.  Mix in the matzo meal.  In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, salt, pepper and baking powder.  Combine with the potato/onion mixture.  Divide mixture evenly to form small latkes.  Place them in the oil to fry.  Flatten them with a spatula.  When the edges are golden, flip and fry the other side.  Transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with a little extra salt.  If desired, serve with additional garnishes such as applesauce, sour cream, chives or smoked salmon.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Mark R. Vogel

Three decades ago, before cooking school, while working on a psychiatric unit, I was engaged in a conversation with one of the schizophrenic patients about his vegetable garden.  He mentioned that he grew bell peppers.  Being completely culinarily and horticulturally ignorant at the time, I thought that green and red bell peppers were two entirely different plants.  The patient chuckled at my naiveté and explained that red bell peppers were simply green ones that had ripened.  He may have been psychotic, but I was the one out of touch with reality. Continue reading For Whom the Bell Tolls

Get a Leg Up

Mark R. Vogel

The leg meat of the animals we customarily utilize as food is often under-appreciated, misunderstood, and erroneously maligned.  Targeted by American food neurotics, aided and abetted by culinary ignorance and arcane nomenclature, the leg has remained shrouded in fat-phobia and mystery.  Let’s jettison the irrationalities and clarify what’s left.  Maybe you’ll become a leg-man too. Continue reading Get a Leg Up


Mark R. Vogel

Pan-frying is a dry heat cooking method whereby food is semi-submerged in hot oil in a pan on the stove top.  Unlike deep frying where the food is completely immersed in oil, in pan-frying the oil’s depth is no more than half the food’s height.  Another important distinction is that in pan-frying the food touches the bottom of the pan.  In deep frying the food is completely suspended in oil.  Continue reading Pan-Frying

Marinades & Rubs

Mark R. Vogel

Summer’s here and that means barbequing.  Well, actually, barbequing is not what millions of Americans do with their charcoal and propane grills in their backyard.  That’s grilling.  Real barbequing is cooking food with indirect heat and smoke but that’s another article.  In any event, many foods are pre-seasoned prior to being grilled.  This is almost always accomplished with a marinade or a dry rub. Continue reading Marinades & Rubs