Giardiniera – Mixed Vegetable Pickle

This is my version of a mixed vegetable pickle. There are some regions where the vegetables you put in the mix are a very specific combination but, I say add whatever you like the best. This is my preserved vegetable pickle often called Giardiniera in Italian. You can add or omit some chili peppers if you wish to make spicy and it is a combination of vinegar and olive oil, in my case….. lots of GREAT Extra Virgin Olive Oil!! 

You will need:

  • 3 small carrots
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1/3 of a small cauliflower (about 3 cups of florets when they are separated)
  • 150 grams or a handful of green beans
  • 3-4 fresh or dried small onions (I used both)
  • 1 sweet red pepper
  • 125 grams of eggplant cut into strips and salted for at least 30 minutes 
  • 2 chilies – I used a milder Fresno chili which was hot enough for me- you add whatever you prefer!
  • 1/2 small bulb of fennel 
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic sliced thinly
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar (I used champagne vinegar)
  • 15 peppercorns
  • couple of big bay leaves
  • 2 tsp of salt 
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 bottle 500ml of great extra virgin olive oil- I used Casas D Hualdo Organic
  • 3 tsp of dried oregano
  • 3 cloves of garlic -sliced
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • some fennel fronds chopped if you like
  • 100 grams of olives pitted and chopped.
  • 2-3 tbsp of chopped flat Italian parsley (it has better flavor than the curly in my opinion)

Step 1: sterilize 3 x 2 cup preserving jars by washing thoroughly. You can also rinse them with a little vinegar after they are washed. If you have new jars I like to wash them, place them in boiling water for 2 minutes and then rinse with a bit of white vinegar and dry well. 

Note* Once you have filled your jars you can pasteurize them by sealing them well with new lids, wrap the jars in tea towels, place in a lar pot filled just above the jars with water. Let come to a boil and then turn down to a medium low boil for 30 minutes. Then allow to cool in the water bath before removing jars. They can then be stored in the cupboard. Once opened they should be stored in the fridge. 

Step 2: slice or chop all vegetables in chunks or thin slices of a similar size (I like the look of the thinner finer slices but you can chop them in chunks if you like) 

Step 3: in a pot you will add the vinegar, peppercorns, bay leaves, 3 cloves of garlic, salt and water. 

Step 4: in batches you will add the vegetables to cook and soften in the vinegar bath. Then remove with a slotted spoon onto clean towel. Then into a large bowl to dry slightly and cool. 

These are approximate times depending on how you slice your veggies, it could be a bit more or less. 

Carrots, celery and cauliflower 5-7 minutes

Green beans 4 minutes

Peppers, fresh chilies, fennel and onions 3 minutes

Eggplant 2 minutes

Step 5: add about 1/2 cup of the olive oil just to toss all ingredients in the bowl and then you will top off the rest once in the jars. 

Step 6: add the dried oregano, sliced garlic, chili flakes, celery seed, fennel fronds and chopped parsley and toss to combine. 

Step 7: carefully fill the jars, pressing down the ingredients trying not to break them while getting the jars filled. 

Step 8: using a chop stick you can pour over the great oil and move the veggies to let the oil get in all the cracks. Seal and Pasteurize as described in Step # 1. Or you can just store in the fridge and consume within a few days if you don’t wish to preserve.

Once the jar is opened you may wish to top off with a few more tablespoons of vinegar and you can also add a bit more olive oil. 

Any remaining pickle should be stored in the fridge once the jar is opened.

It is natural to have the olive oil solidify when in the fridge so don’t be alarmed. Before eating  leave the jar on the counter for a few minutes and it will go back to it’s liquid state. The cold will not harm the oil. 

Chicken Bahn Mi Meatballs

This is my simple version of a Vietnamese favorite street food. My Bahn Mi (Meatball) sandwich is made with ground chicken and served on a soft roll. Make lots they will want seconds!

You will need:

  • 1 lb ground chicken – dark and white is best
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped white part of lemongrass
  • 3-4 cloves garlic – chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro/coriander
  • 1 small fresh chili – chopped finely (use 3/4 in the meatballs and 1/4 in carrot topping)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • enough good extra virgin olive oil to cover the bottom of pan while cooking the meatballs (you could use peanut or another oil but. I love olive oil so I use it for everything!)
  • a bit of ginger ale to deglaze the pan
  • 2-3 small carrots -sliced into fine matchsticks
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1.4 of the chopped chilies
  • 1 tsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 mini English cucumber – sliced into matchsticks
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh buns
  • more cilantro
  • lime wedges
  • sweet Thai chili sauce

Start with a good quality ground chicken. I like a blend of dark and white meat for a more tender meatball.

Step 1: in a large bowl combine chicken, lemongrass, chopped garlic, cilantro, chili, brown sugar, salt, fish sauce, sesame oil and breadcrumbs.

mix to combine

Step 2: form into balls and you can store in fridge for a few hours or heat oil and prepare right away.

I used a Planeta Olive oil from Sicily to cook on medium heat until browned and cooked through.

At the last minute I pour over a good glug of ginger ale to add a bit of sweetness and also to deglaze the pan.

Step 3: While the meatballs cook I prepare the vegetable/quick pickle

Chop carrots into think matchsticks

Chop chili, cilantro and cucumber. Add rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve a few meatballs on a soft roll top with a squeeze of lime,  the vegetables, more cilantro and some Sweet Thai Chili sauce if you like or even a bit of sliced mango!!

Grilled Chicken with Mango Salsa Sandwich


This is simple sandwich perfect for a lunch or light supper. Get some fresh rolls and make a delicious salsa and you are almost there.


You will need:


  • 2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 soft rolls
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic – chopped fine
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 mango peel and chopped into small dice
  • 1 tomato – chopped into finely diced
  • 1 ripe avocado – chopped into small dice
  • 1/2 jalapeno – seeds removed and chopped very fine
  • 1 clove garlic – crushed
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 lime – squeezed
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper




Step 1: butterfly open chicken breasts or slice in half to make smaller portions and then pound gently to flatten and make them an even thickness for quick grilling.



Step 2: make sauce in a small bowl by adding Worcestershire, soy, garlic, rice wine vinegar, ginger and honey. Stir and pour over chicken. You can cover and leave in the fridge for an hour or two to marinate.



Step 3: chop mango, tomato, onion and avocado. I slice the avocado into small dice right in the skin then scoop out with a spoon.



Step 4: add jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, lime, olive oil, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust if necessary.



Step 5: grill your chicken a few minutes on each side and place chicken and salsa on a fresh soft roll. It is like a teriyaki chicken mixed with a Caribbean salsa.










Smoked Salmon with Lemon Dill Spread

This is a simple appetizer, snack or even part of a great lunch. Smoked salmon, some great crackers and a smear of tasty cream cheese and finally topped with a few sliced red onions. Perfect and elegant.


You will need:


  • 2 tbsp slice of cream cheese – 2 cm slice if you are slicing a bar of cream cheese
  • 1 spring onion – finely diced
  • 1 tsp freshly chopped dill
  • 1 tsp finely zested lemon
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp chopped capers
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • sliced smoked salmon
  • wasa crackers
  • thin slices of red onion




gather your ingredients. Chop onions, capers and dill. Zest lemon and add all other ingredients to a small bowl. Mix well.



Add a few slices of smoked salmon to a great cracker, top with some smear and a few onions. You can also add a bit of salt and pepper if you like.



Easy and delicious. Add a nice salad and lunch is served.







Steak Sandwich


This is a  steak sandwich with an olive, hot pepper pickle, a smear of red pepper sauce and served on a whole grain bun. You can use a small amount of meat and pound it thin to create lots of little pieces of meat, then fill your sandwich full of olive salad or giardinera and sweet pepper sauce.

That’s a good sand-weeg!



You will need:


  • 1-2 top sirloin steaks – sliced and pounded very thin
  • 1 tsp Tuscan/Italian seasonings
  • 1 tsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp  chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • breadcrumbs 1 cup
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Giardinera make it from scratch or buy a jar of hot peppers and mixed vegetables and then add some  chopped olives
  • nice buns


Roasted pepper sauce


  • 1 tomato
  • 1 small jar roasted peppers 125 ml
  • 1 onion cooked in oil until sweet and carmelized
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan





Step 1: take a top sirloin steak and slice it into thin steaks. I normally slice it into a few pieces, then I flip the steak onto its side and slice it carefully against the grain to get a very tender piece of meat. It is a decent cut so even if you slice it with the grain and pound it, it will still be good. I got about 18 slices of meat out of two small steaks.



Step 2: in a small bowl add pounded meat, Tuscan or Italian seasonings, chopped rosemary, thyme and parsley. Add pepper, lemon zest and a few tbsp olive oil. Set aside.



Step 3: create a standard breading station. Breadcrumbs with dry mustard, Italian seasoning, dry oregano and lemon pepper. Flour with salt and pepper mixed in and eggs beaten. You add the meat first to the flour mixture, then to the egg mixture, then to the breadcrumbs.  Place breaded meat on a tray so they do not stick together. In a wide pan shallow fry meat in olive oil (just enough to come up the meat halfway) You may have to do this in batches. Place cooked meat on tray and sprinkle immediately with salt and pepper. You can keep these warm in the oven or you can re-heat them in the oven hours later.



Step 4: in a food processor add jarred hot peppers, hot pickled vegetables and some olives. Pulse a few times. You still want the mixture to be chunky. Remove to a small dish.



Step 5: add ingredients for red pepper sauce to food processor (I don’t even wash it out from the vegetables you just made) Pulse until pureed.



Step 6: assemble your sandwich and eat. I had some leftover artichoke dip and I also added some to my sandwich. YUM.



You could certainly add some tomatoes and lettuce etc.. the point is you have lots of vegetables and a bit of meat.











Italian Beef Sandwich

This is a Chicago favourite. The Italian Beef is a hearty sandwich consisting of thin pieces of beef cooked and served in a beef broth or au jus ( pronounced OH-ZHEW not AW-ZHEW) topped with  cooked sweet peppers and Giardiniera (an Italian vegetable pickle/condiment) The bread is usually a crusty roll/bun and the bread is hearty enough that you can dip it in the broth and it will stay together. It is a big messy carnivore sandwich. Big Pete loves the Italian Beef and he will happily eat this anytime!

You will need:

  • 2 lb sirloin roast- cut in half
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 onion-chopped
  • 1 carrot-chopped
  • 1 celery stalk-chopped
  • 1 piece fresh rosemary
  • few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic- chopped
  • 1 small tomato chopped (or half a regular)
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning spices
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 cup of beef stock (possibly a bit more)
  • 1 red pepper- sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper-sliced
  • 1/2 onion -sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • olive oil

Prepare your giardinere first thing or even a few days in advance.  You will need a few hours at least for it to be prepared. The longer it sits the better so if you can do this the day or two before it will be best. 

Step 1: start by slicing your roast in half and patting dry. In a very hot pan with a bit of oil I brown the slices until I have seared both sides.
Step 2: chop all your aromatic vegetables and herbs that you will use to flavour the meat while it cooks in the oven.
Step 3: add your vegetables, fresh herbs, garlic, tomato, tomato paste and Italian seasonings. Cook for a few minutes.
Step 4: add the wine and cook for a few more minutes to cook off some of the alcohol.  Add your beef stock to almost cover meat and make sure your herbs are immersed in the liquid so they do not scorch in the oven. Bake on 325 degrees F for 1 hour. 
Step 5: flip meat and cook a further 1 -2 hours until meat is falling apart tender. The liquid will reduce and concentrate in the cooking. This jus or thin gravy will be your sauce once done. If it starts to evaporate too much you can add a bit more broth or you can put a lid on the pan.
remove meat to cool so you can tear apart or slice thinly. (whichever you prefer- I do some of both!)
Step 6: strain vegetables from the liquid. Discard the vegetables and set aside the broth.
Step 7: slice or pull your slightly cooled meat.
Step 8: in a small pan you want to fry the sliced onions in some olive oil, salt and pepper. Once they have cooked for a few minutes and are just starting to brown add garlic and peppers. Cook until softened. Prepare all your components for the sandwich. Use a crusty loaf of bread which you can slice or crusty buns. You want something that will be able to handle being dipped in the broth. 
Step 9: heat up your sliced/pulled meat in some of the broth.
Step 10: heat up your broth and start to make your sandwiches.
Dip the bread in the jus. Add the meat, top with cooked peppers and giardiniera.
Do it all over again because you can’t eat just one!

Stromboli – Baked Sandwich

The Stromboli is like a baked stuffed sandwich. It is similar to a rolled pizza or calzone but, normally there is no sauce or you can add  a small amount of sauce. I have made mine with a layer or homemade pesto, cheese and various salamis.
It’s a great way to feed a crowd, perfect food for watching my favourite Euro Soccer Game!
You will need:
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt (more for the top)
  • grated mozzarella or mozzarella and provolone
  • pesto (homemade or store bought)
  • Italian seasoning
  • salamis of your choice – thin sliced

Step 1: in a large bowl add warm water, yeast and sugar. Let proof 5 minutes to see if yeast is good. Add olive oil and flour and finally salt. Mix until too hard to continue in bowl and knead dough on counter adding more flour until it is no longer sticky to the touch. I use a (00) pizza flour which I buy in an Italian speciality store but you can use all purpose.

Step 2: once dough is completed add to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap for at least 2 hours. If you want to leave longer put in fridge. 

Step 3: heat oven to 375 degrees F and divide dough in two. With your fingers press out a thin square. Add pesto or a bit of tomato sauce or nothing. Add a layer of cheese.
Step 4: add your toppings (it really can be whatever you like!)
Step 5: roll up and top with Italian Seasonings, some salt and a bit of grated cheese. 
Step 6: bake 20 minutes, then turn sheet and bake another 20- 25 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.
You can serve with a bowl of marinara sauce or just eat it as it is!