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Who's Cooking: Larry Gellman of Lloyd Harbor

Larry Gellman of Lloyd Harbor, with his daughters,

Larry Gellman of Lloyd Harbor, with his daughters, Matti, 13, left, and Alison, 9, shares his recipe for Hoppel Poppel. (Nov. 13, 2011) Credit: Steve Pfost


Chief of minimally invasive surgery and co-director of bariatric surgery at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, he lives in Lloyd Harbor with his wife, Beth, and daughters Matti and Alison.

What's your food heritage? We cooked all the typical Jewish ethnic foods. My grandmother came from Russia, and when I'd go to her apartment, she'd offer me banana bread, and I'd say sure. Then she'd go into the kitchen, and next thing I knew I hear her cracking eggs. She wanted to make it fresh. Like in any ethnic family, it was a prominent part of love.

How did you learn to cook? My mother was an excellent cook, and she introduced me to the world of cooking when I was a little boy. I knew how to make a roux before I could ride a bike.

Do you still cook with your mother? When she comes out for the holidays and I say I'm going to get a chicken, I can see she's distressed. She'll say, "That's the only chicken they have?" I say, "It's a Bell and Evans." And she says, "It's not old enough. You need an old hen." So she'll find a chicken so old it's 5 cents a pound. And her chicken soup is nectar of the gods.

What's your most-requested dish? On the weekends, it's Hoppel Poppel. It's a dish I first had at Benjamin's, a delicatessen in Milwaukee, where I grew up. It's potatoes, onions, peppers with leftover salami. And they'd scramble the egg into it or put a fried egg on top, and top it with cheese.

Have you passed on your love of cooking to your children? Not yet, and part of it's my problem. It's sort of like being in the operating room -- I have to get away from being a control freak in the kitchen. I'm getting much better at it.

Hoppel Poppel

1/4 cup canola oil

2 to 4 potatoes, any type, cut into 1/2-inch dice

Salt and pepper to taste

1 onion, chopped

1 red pepper, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice

1/2 (10-inch) pepperoni stick cut into 1/2-inch slices and then quartered (preferably Hormel or Hebrew National whole salami)

Chopped fresh parsley

2 eggs

2 slices American cheese

1. Heat oil to medium-high in large skillet and fry potatoes until they begin to brown; salt and pepper sparingly as pepperoni (or salami) will add salt.

2. Add onions and peppers and cook until soft (at this point, you can add either 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds or 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, as desired).

3. Add pepperoni (or salami) and parsley; stir and cook long enough to heat through; turn heat to low.

4. In a separate pan, fry eggs over-easy or sunny-side-up (yolks should be runny).

5. Divide potato hash between two plates, top with eggs and then cheese; let cheese melt. Serve with toast and fruit jam. Makes 2 servings.