Mark Karney

Feb 182018

Years ago, there was a Soda Fountain/Magazine Shop in downtown Barrington called the Towne Shoppe. I think it had been there forever. There was the typical long counter that you would find in a Soda Fountain along with the requisite round stools attached to the floor with red vinyl cushions. The food was simple, bagels in the morning, soup and sandwiches the rest of the day. I went in almost every morning for a bagel and tea, and would sometimes pick up soup for lunch since it was only a short block away from my studio. My all-time favorite soup was one that they had only occasionally, and that was hamburger soup. It was unique as it was not tomato based, and it wasn’t overly flavored with beef broth as you might find in a beef-barley or beef vegetable soup.

Recently, I was preparing soup for a dinner with friends and thought I would try and replicate it from my 20-year old memory. Unlike my normal cooking experiences when I try to replicate an unknown recipe, which usually requires many attempts and adjustments, I hit this one on the first try. The soup matched my memory of the Towne Shoppe’s soup and my friends raved about it. This recipe will serve at least 12, and you can adjust the amounts of the ingredients to your liking. Enjoy!

Towne Shoppe's Hamburger Soup

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 12 Servings


  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large white onion. diced
  • 1 pound of carrots, cleaned and diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 large sweet red pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 3 Tbsp. white flour
  • 4 pounds of waxy potatoes (Red or Yukon Gold), diced
  • 32 oz. beef stock or broth
  • 64 oz. chicken or vegetable stock or broth.
  • 1 pound turkey Kielbasa sausage, sliced
  • 1 pound frozen corn
  • 2 tsp. thyme (French thyme if you have it)
  • Salt (to taste)


  1. Brown the hamburger in a skillet, sprinkle liberally with black pepper, drain any excess grease, and transfer to the soup pot.
  2. Add the oil to the skillet and then add the onion, carrots, celery, pepper, and garlic. Sprinkle with black pepper. Saute the vegetables over medium heat until they start to soften and the onions become translucent.
  3. Lower the heat, and sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and mix in with your spatula. Keep scraping the bottom of the pan to keep the flour from burning.
  4. When the flour starts to brown and is absorbed into the oil, add the vegetable mixture to the soup pot.
  5. Return the frying pan to the heat, turn it to medium high, and deglaze the pan with about a cup of broth. Scrape the pan to remove the fond and add the mixture to the soup pot.
  6. Add the potatoes to the soup pot, and then the broth. Turn the heat under the soup pot to high and bring it to a boil, stirring frequently. When it boils, lower the heat to a simmer.
  7. Set the bag of corn out to thaw a bit. While the soup is cooking, add a little oil to the frying pan and lightly brown the sausage.
  8. When the potatoes are almost done, add the corn, sausage and the thyme.
  9. Taste the soup and add 1 tsp. salt at a time until it has the desired saltiness.
  10. Adjust the other seasonings if necessary.
  11. Serve when the corn and sausage are heated through.

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Dec 222017

We are always looking for new vegetables and interesting ways to serve them. Celery root or celeriac is a root vegetable that probably most people aren’t familiar with. It is rich in fiber and vitamins and has less than half the carbohydrates of a comparable amount of potato.

In the past, Natalie and I have attended the Food and Wine Festival at Disneyworld’s EPCOT. You can literally eat your way through EPCOT sampling wines and small plates of food from many different countries and different regional American cuisines. This last time, we tried a dish of seared scallops served over pureed celery root with sauteed mushrooms. It was exquisite.

A month or so after that I was wandering through the produce department of my local grocery store looking for something different and saw some large beautiful celery roots, so I bought one with that dish from the Food and Wine Festival in mind. When I got home, I consulted my copy of The Flavor Bible, a book by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg which is my most-used cooking resource and it indicated that celery root pairs well with seafood. It also listed mayonnaise, mustard, and lemon as a favored combination with celery root. After a bit of tasting, I worked out this recipe. It paired well with salmon, and I served it several times thereafter.

I hope you will try it and enjoy it

Pureed Celery Root

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 7 servings

Serving Size: 6 oz.



  • 1 large Celery Root (1 ¾ lbs. peeled and cleaned.)
  • 1 large Russet potato (1/2 lb.)
  • 6 Tbsp. Mayonnaise (use vegan mayo for a totally vegan dish)
  • 4 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Juice of 1/6 of a lemon.
  • Salt to taste


  1. Peel the celery root and dice into 1-inch cubes.
  2. Peel the potato and dice into 1-inch cubes.
  3. Put the potato and celery root into a pan of water and bring to a boil, continue cooking until done.
  4. Add the next four ingredients and puree in a food processor.


Most of the calories are coming from the mayonnaise, so you can cut back on that to reduce the calories even further.

The dish can be made ahead and reheated.

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Dec 162017

We made this recipe quite often in the past and recently made it again and remembered how good these cheese balls were. This is a relatively easy recipe to make and a bit different than the usual fare. They are a nice addition to any holiday platter.

Chili Cheese Balls


  • 3 cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 1 cup Fontina cheese, grated
  • 1 3-ounce package cream cheese at room temperature
  • 4 tsp. prepared mustard
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 4 tsp. chili powder


  1. Combine the first six ingredients with 2 tsp. of the chili powder and mix until well blended.
  2. Roll into bite-sized balls.
  3. Sprinkle the remaining chili powder into a large bowl, add the cheese balls and toss gently until they are coated.
  4. Chill before serving.

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Sep 082017

When we went to St. Louis to view the 2017 eclipse, Kevin and Katy built a party around the event and served these luscious Asian Turkey Burgers. They reminded us of our Porkies (Barbecued Pork Patties) on this site, but are probably a bit healthier. We made them for a group of friends and they were a real hit.

Asian Turkey Burgers

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4

Serving Size: 1 burger


  • 1# Ground Turkey
  • 2 Shallots, finely choppped
  • 2 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. Fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp. Sriracha
  • 4 tsp. Light Soy Sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
  • 4 Hamburger buns


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, shallot, ginger, garlic, 1/2 cup cilantro, 1 teaspoon sriracha, and 4 teaspoons soy sauce.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Form the mixture into 4 patties (The mixture will be very soft, finish forming them once they are in the pan.)
  5. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan over medium high-heat. Season the burgers liberally with salt and pepper. Add the burgers to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until browned.
  6. Transfer the burgers to a foil-lined cookie sheet in the oven to finish cooking for 5-7 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and as much sriracha as you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Split the buns and place in the oven to toast for 2-3 minutes.
  9. Assemble the burgers: Spread a little sriracha mayo onto each bun, then top with a turkey burger and some of the remaining cilantro.


Ground turkey does not hold it's shape well, so it is essential to pan-fry the burgers. They would probably not work well on the grill.



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Aug 272017
Oven Dried Tomatoes

Oven Dried Tomatoes going into the oven.

Dried Plum Tomatoes are absolutely luscious. The drying process intensifies the flavor and sweetness. These dried tomatoes freeze well and pulling out a package in the dead of winter, returns you instantly to the taste of fresh tomatoes from the garden. They are great in salads and can be used wherever sun-dried tomatoes are called for. It’s also an easier process than canning, and when the peak yield of tomatoes hits in late summer, this is a way to enjoy the crop later in the year, long after the tomato plants have been pulled up

Oven Dried Tomatoes


  • Fresh Roma Tomatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Granulated Garlic
  • Black Pepper
  • Salt


  1. Wash and dry the tomatoes.
  2. Cut in half lengthwise, And remove the stem.
  3. Coat with olive oil, place on foil lined cookie sheet, cut side up.
  4. Sprinkle generously with black pepper and granulated garlic, and a little salt if desired.
  5. Put in 225 degree oven, with convection if possible. Drying time is approximately 6 hours. You want the tomatoes to be somewhat leathery, not totally dried out.


It is probably best to separate the tomatoes into batches of larger and smaller sizes as the smaller ones will be done quicker. If the small ones are on their own cookie sheet, this will make your job easier.

For later use, I freeze the tomatoes on the cookie sheets and when they are frozen put them into small freezer bags which should keep in the freezer for at least a year.

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