Category Archives: family recipe

Grandma Dottie’s Tomato + Horseradish Pot Roast

Let’s get one thing out of the way immediately:  Grandma Dottie was batsh*t crazy.  Don’t let her charming name fool you, people, the woman was N-U-T-S.  We can all admit to having a bit of “crazy” lurking around somewhere in our DNA, and my paternal grandmother is responsible for mine.  Those of you who are shuddering, while you conjure images of some sweet little Nana, can stop right now.  I assure you that there was nothing sweet –or little –about Dottie.

Garish moo-moo’s, plastic go-go boots, and “creative” religious beliefs aside, my grandmother was nothing, if not a fabulous cook (I must give credit, where credit is due, after all).  To this day, the mere thought of her baking powder biscuits makes me drool profusely.  So for that, Grandma Dottie, I thank you…. 

While it’s true that she never won “Grandmother of the Year”, Dottie could cook a mean pot roast.  As a kid, Lin-babes worked hard to lure me into eating anything having to do with red meat.  Remember Randy’s meatloaf scene from A Christmas Story?  That was me.  Dottie’s pot roast changed all of that.  It was like a gateway to my becoming a full fledged carnivore.  Oh…and the gravy that it yields? Forgetaboutit.  Amazeballs.

I present you with my attempt at recreating Dottie’s masterpiece (my dad may argue that Chicken Curry was her piece de resistance, so for the sake of argument, we’ll get to that dish another time)….

1 Whole(3-3 1/2 pound) Chuck Roast
1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Carrot
1 Sweet Onion, Chopped Fine
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
1 Cup Beef Broth (plus more if needed)
4+ Tablespoons Horseradish (TJ’s makes a spicy one!)
1 (15 oz) Can Tomato Sauce
1/4 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
Salt + Pepper
1 1/2 Pounds Assorted Root Vegetables, Cubed
(carrots, WHITE sweet potato, red potatoes, etc)

1.  Preheat oven to 275 degrees.   Pat the roast dry with paper towels, then salt and pepper the heck out of it.  In a dutch oven, heat 2 TBSP of vegetable oil over medium heat.  Brown all sides of the roast, only slightly browning the top.   Transfer roast to a plate. 

2.  Add chopped carrots and onion to the pot and cook until softened.  Add garlic and thyme.  Stir in beef broth, scraping up all the delicious bits on the bottom of the pan.  

3.  Return roast and accumulated juices to the dutch oven, and slather the top with horseradish–you want a thick layer.  GENTLY pour the tomato sauce over the top of the roast, making sure not to disrupt the horseradish.  Add a bit of water or broth to the pot so that the liquid comes about half way up the roast.  

4.  Cover the pot and cook on the lower bottom shelf for 2 hours.  After 2 hours, nestle the the root vegetables around the roast and spoon some of the cooking juices over them.   Cover and return to the oven for another hour.  Let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.   (Total cooking time for a 3+ pound roast = about 3 hours)  

I like to shred mine up a bit, and discard any marbled fat pieces.  Make sure to get as much of the tomatoey horseradish goodness onto the meat as you can.  Spoon a little of the cooking gravy over your root vegetables (white sweet potatoes are the BOMB with this roast), then say a little prayer for my Grandma Dottie and dig in!!!



Filed under family recipe, meat

Mom’s Parmesan Roasted Asparagus


This is, hands down, my favorite way to eat asparagus!  Thanks goes to my sweet momma for sharing her simple recipe (Lin-Babes is a total badass in the kitchen).  The asparagus is nice and light, but has a little crispy deliciousness from the parmesan that makes it super addictive.  We recently had this with the Horseradish-Crusted Salmon recipe from Real Simple.  You can bake them both at the same time– the salmon took about 10-12 minutes at 425 degrees.   It is a quick and easy dinner to prepare, from the fridge to the table in 30 minutes.


Parmesan Roasted Asparagus
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
2 teaspoons olive oil (*start with one teaspoon, add more as needed)
1 to 2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan
course salt
freshly ground pepper 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  On a cookie sheet, lightly drizzle the asparagus with one teaspoon of olive oil at a time, using as much or as little as you need to lightly coat the vegetables (you don’t want to oil fry them).  Roll the asparagus in the oil until it is even.  Season with course salt and freshly ground pepper, then sprinkle on the finely grated parmesan cheese (buy pre-grated or use a microplane grater, just make sure it is fine).  Roll it around again, so everything is evenly coated.  Spread into a single layer, leaving a little room between each spear, so the heat can circulate around it.  Roast on the lower middle rack for about 7 or 8 minutes.  Take it out of the oven when it is still a bit firm (don’t overcook!).  Use a spatula to peel it off the sheet, it should have a nice, slightly crunchy layer on the bottom.  



Filed under family recipe, quick and easy, veggies


This post was inspired by a recent book club meeting in which we discussed culinary traditions and family recipes that remind us of home.  Last Saturday I had the pleasure of participating in one such tradition with my dear friend, Jamie.  For years, she and her family have gathered in the kitchen to make Chinese steamed buns, also known as Hum Bao.  We shared a fantastic evening of Hum Bao, Sichuan green beans, fried rice, local wine and birthday cake (felicidades, Tara!!!) with our lovely friends.  

At the end of the evening we each broke open a fortune cookie.  Jamie crumbled hers to reveal the following…(of course!)
Jamie, I was honored to take part in your tradition and I am grateful for your friendship. Thank you for sharing this little piece of “home” with us….

Steamed Buns
(Hum Bao)
originally from: Anne & Lou Gehrig
1 cup chopped carrots
1 1/2 lb pork (fatty cut, pork chops work well)
8 tbsp Hoisin sauce
2 tbsp peanut oil
4 tbsp oyster sauce
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp chili-garlic sauce
2 tbsp honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp green onion, minced
1/2 tsp 5 Spice Powder
1 cup minced green onion
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp cold water
2 pkg Rhode’s Bake N’ Serve Frozen White Dinner Rolls 12 count
Prepare frozen dough as directed on back of package allowing dough to rise for 3-5 hours.
Cut meat into 1″ thick strips.  Place in BBQ Sauce thoughly coating meat. Place meat in shallow baking baking sheet, pour remaining sauce over meat.  Roast in 350 degree oven about 45 minutes.  (Cut into meat to make sure no longer pink in middle.)  Let cool till able to handle, chop meat, including all fatty pieces, into 1/8″ pieces. Place all meat, pan drippings and sauce into bowl.
Prepare green onions and garlic.
Mix cornstarch.
Heat wok to hot.  Add 1 tbsp peanut oil.  When it is hot, add green onions and garlic.  Stir-fry a few seconds.  Now add all chopped meat, pan drippings and sauce.  Thicken filling by adding a little of the cornstarch mixture.  Turn out into small bowl.  Chill thoroughly.
Assemble Buns:
Using raised roll dough makes for about the perfect portion size for buns.  Working with a bit of flour to avoid sticking to counter, flatten one roll of dough with your hand to a rough circle. Work to not handle dough to much to avoid making it tough. Place about 1 tbsp filling in center of circle.  Bring up sides and ensuring that dough is fully sealed, tip: avoid sauce getting on dough at seal point as it will not allow seal to take place.  Turn over (sealed side down), on gernerously floured cookie sheet, allow space in between buns.  Let rise 30 minutes.  Bring a large pot filled 3/4 full to rapid boil. Generously spray bamboo steaming rack with nonstick cooking spray, place buns on rack, make sure they are not touching. Steam 12-15 minutes in bamboo steamer, till dough is fully cooked, dough will look slightly translucent when done.  (Can also be baked at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.) Will make about 24 buns.
You can also make your own dough:
1 tsp dry yeast
1 1/4 cu warm water
1 tbsp sugar
3 1/2 cu white flour
Sprinkle yeast over water.  Add sugar.  Let rest about 5 minutes till dissolved and water has bubbles on top.  Add sugar & stir.  Slowly pour into flour, mixing well.  Turn out onto well-floured board & knead until smooth and no longer sticky, about 10 minutes.  Lightly oil bowl.  Turn dough a few times in bowl to cover surface with oil.  Cover with dry towel & let rise until 2X (about 2 hours).  Bread dough is now ready for use after adding 1/2 tsp baking powder.  Incorporate into dough and cut into pieces for use.

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Filed under family recipe, international, parties


It may not seem obvious upon first glance, but the woman pictured above was a total badass.  My heart swells with pride when I remember the woman that she was and, more importantly, where she came from.  The following excerpts are based on the eulogy given by my great aunt, in memory of my great grandmother–the heart and soul of our family:

Aslig Potoian was born in 1905 in Keghi, Armenia.  In 1912 her father left the homeland for America to establish himself and then send for his family.  Before he could accomplish this, the war of 1915 broke out.   Aslig, her mother, sister, brother, and neighbors fled the Turkish massacre for neutral territory.  Along the way, she lost her mother and sister to illness and her baby brother drowned while trying to cross a river.  Aslig, left an orphan, was taken in by neighbors who helped her get to an aunt living in Constantinople.  She remained with her aunt for six years until her father, having learned of her survival through neighbors, sent for her. 

Aslig arrived to America through Ellis Island.  She met her father in Spokane, Washington where he was working for the railroads.   There, she met and married Soghoman Karagavourian.  Soghoman, a highly educated man in Armenia, worked as a railroad supervisor in America.  Together they raised five children.

Her son, called Garabed, is my grandfather.   You may ask yourself how all of this is relevant for a blog dedicated to cooking and recipes?!  Well, as it turns out, my obsession with food may be deeply rooted in my DNA.  Great grandma Aslig cooked for the men on the Spokane railroad and my grandfather and his brothers went on to open a restaurant in southwest Washington.

My fondest memories of my great grandmother are of her enduring strength and love, her impish laugh, and of course, her cooking.  The following is a dish that we often eat at family gatherings. Technically this dish is called Armenian Dolma, but we have always referred to it as Sarma.  The measurements are approximations and ingredients may vary depending on preference.  This one, however, tastes like home to me….


meat mixture: 
1 small onion, finely chopped
2.5 – 3 pounds hamburger, ground lamb, or a combination (I prefer hamburger only)
3/4 cup long grain white rice
1/2 tsp fresh lemon zest 
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
 salt and pepper
COMBINE in a large mixing bowl, careful not to overwork the meat.  ADD a liberal amount of salt and pepper.

1 cup tomato sauce
5-6 large cloves of garlic, crushed
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
COMBINE in a small mixing bowl.  SPOON mixture into the hamburger, mixing in the desired amount.

*Cover the meat mixture with saran wrap, refrigerate for an hour or more to soak up the flavors.    

1 green bell pepper, lid removed, hollowed
3 to 4 zucchini,  halved and hollowed (cut the stem off, but leave the ends intact) 
1 head cabbage, blanched in 1 inch of boiling water until leaves are pliable
1 jar brined grape leaves (my aunt swears by California grown leaves), rinsed, spread over towels

STUFF the bell pepper and zucchini with meat mixture (this will require you to get your hands dirty, as it is difficult to pack the zucchini without splitting them open)

rolling cabbage and grape leaves: 
PLACE leaf smooth side down, vein side up.  CUT any stems off.  ROLL a small handful of meat between your palms and place just above where the stem has been removed, fold the bottom protruding edges of the leaf up over the meat. FOLD the left then the right edges of the leaf over the meat, then roll to the top edge of the leaf to form a tight cylinder.   

Using a large dutch oven, or oven safe pot with a lid, pack vegetables tightly, placing grape leaves and cabbage seam side down.  POUR approximately 1 28 oz can of tomato sauce over the top.  ADD enough water to completely submerge the vegetables.  SLICE one lemon over the top of the packed veggies and juice (you may also cover with extra grape leaves or zucchini stems for added flavor) COOK at 325 degrees for 3 hours (or up to four, as the rice needs to completely soften).

*If there is room, consider packing oven safe plates over the top of the veggies, juice, and lemons before placing the lid on the pot.  This keeps everything tightly packed and submerged during cooking.  

Traditionally, Armenian Dolma is served with madzoon, or plain white/greek style yogurt and Armenian Rice Pilaf.

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Filed under family recipe, international, meat