Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kourabiedes (Greek Butter Cookies)



These are the first Christmas cookies I make every year.  I usually make them just before I start writing Christmas cards and enjoy a few while I'm writing.  I've had this recipe for over 25 years -- as originally printed in a South Florida newspaper:

Ingredients:

1 lb. butter, softened (4 sticks)
8 Tbsp. confectioners sugar
4 c. all-purpose flour
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. blanched almonds, toasted and ground
Additional confectioners sugar 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar.  Stir in flour, vanilla and almonds.  Dough should form a soft ball.  Shape into walnut sized balls (about an inch in diameter) and place on ungreased cookie sheets.  Press slightly with your thumb.  Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees, until slightly brown.  Let cool 5 minutes, then sift confectioners sugar over the top.  When completely cool, roll again in confectioners sugar. Makes 5- 6 dozen.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Buttermilk Pancakes


 Ingredients (Original Recipe -- makes 12-14 pancakes):                                                           

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour                                     
2 Tbsp. sugar                                                          
1 tsp. baking soda                                                   
1 tsp. baking powder                                               
1/2 tsp salt                                                               
1 1/3 cups buttermilk                                               
1 egg, slightly beaten                                                
3 Tbsp. corn or canola oil                                        
Additional oil for the pan  

For more pancakes for a bigger crowd:                                        

Ingredients (1-1/2 x Recipe -- Makes 18-21 pancakes):

2 cups all-purpose flour
 3 Tbsp. sugar
 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
 3/4 tsp salt
 2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
4 1/2 Tbsp. corn or canola oil
Additional oil for the pan

Directions:

1.  In a large bowl, measure all ingredients; stir until well mixed. You can thin the batter with a little more buttermilk, if needed, or add a Tbsp. more flour, depending on the desired thickness of the pancakes.

2.  Heat electric skillet or griddle over med- high heat (about 375 degrees).  When hot, add the additional oil --  about 2 Tbsp.  Wipe off excess oil with a paper towel so there is a uniform coating on the bottom and sides of pan.

3.  Pour in batter to form about 4 inch pancakes; space so they are not touching.  Cook until the edges start to lose their shine,  about 2 minutes.  Then with a metal pancake turner, turn over one pancake to test that it is done -- nicely and evenly browned. If the test one is done, turn over the other pancakes. Otherwise, adjust the time on the others a few more seconds.

4.  When the bottom starts to look brown around the edges, and the pancakes look done, remove them to a serving plate.  Repeat until all batter is used.  Serve with maple syrup.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Favorite Chocolate Fudge


  
I'm not going to say that making fudge is tricky -- most of the time, the fudge will come out just the way you want it.  However, you have to be willing to work with it a little if it doesn't.  If you keep a few things in mind, this recipe can become a Christmas tradition, as it is in our family -- it is the best chocolate fudge!

(1) Atmospheric conditions --  try to cook this on a dry day!  You can make this recipe when it is cold or warm (using your candy thermometer as indicated in the recipe directions, Step 3), but probably should wait if it's a rainy day, humid, or low pressure (see Note at bottom of recipe).

(2)  This recipe requires a good candy thermometer (again, suggested temperatures are given in the directions, step 3),  and for consistent and best results, keep a glass of cold water next to your work area to check if the mixture has reached the soft-ball stage.  Change the water each time you perform the test so it is cold and fresh.  (What I am describing here is when you drop some of the hot mixture from a wooden spoon into the cold water.  If when you take the small piece out of the water,  it can be formed into a soft ball with your hands, then that is the result you want.  You may have to do this a few times as the mixture approaches the proper temperature.

(3) Here are some additional hints from 20+ years of making this recipe: 

Hint #1:  If you cook it too long it will turn hard when you test it in the water (hard ball stage) -- you do not want this, but may still be able to salvage the fudge by adding a tablespoon or two of heavy cream to the pot after the butter has melted, but before adding the vanilla extract and beating it.  In this case too, I would not wait for the mixture to cool to the recommended time or temperature -- I would do it right after the butter has melted. This has happened to me before, a couple of times -- and one time I actually broke off the end of a knife cutting into the fudge (it is still good to eat, just hard).

Hint #2:  If you do not cook it long enough and no matter how long you beat it, it does not turn from a hot fudge sauce consistency to something that will firm up, you can put it back into the pan and try reheating it to get the temperature up again.  In this case, I would also recommend adding a tablespoon or two of heavy cream to it while you are reheating it.  When you take it off the burner, you do not have to add more butter and vanilla (as you would have added them before), just let it sit and cool down again (20 minutes) and beat it again.  This time it will probably be a better consistency and will turn into fudge, or if the worse happens, you can always save it for hot fudge sauce -- although this worst case scenario has never happened to me. I did end up once with fudge the consistency of Tootsie Rolls, but don't remember the exact cause...it always tastes good at least!  

Ingredients:

3 cups granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (I prefer Ghirardelli)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup chopped nuts -- pecans or walnuts, optional 
1/4 cup unsalted butter (4 Tablespoons or 1/2 stick)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

1.  Butter an 8x8" baking pan, or other plate to pour fudge onto for serving. In a large, heavy saucepan (of at least 3-3/4 cups capacity), combine sugar and cocoa.  Add salt and mix well.  Add milk and corn syrup; mix well.

2.  Start cooking over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes.  Attach candy thermometer to the pot and increase heat to medium-high.  Continue stirring with the wooden spoon.  The sugar crystals on the side of the pot can impart a grainy texture to the fudge, so if you must scrape the side of the pot, do it with a separate spatula that is dipped in a little water first. I think this helps a bit.

3.  Using a candy thermometer, cook until the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage (test for soft-ball stage in cold water, which will be approximately 236 degrees -- adjust to 234-236 during cold weather; 236-238 during warm weather). Remove the pan from the heat.

4.  Place the butter gently on the mixture in the saucepan and do not disturb.  Let sit for 20 minutes or until mixture reaches 110 degrees.



5  Add the vanilla (and chopped nuts, if desired).  Beat vigorously with the wooden spoon, periodically lifting spoonfuls of the mixture and letting them drop back into the fudge mixture and then continue beating.  This helps to make creamier fudge.  Beat until the mixture becomes very thick (not stiff) and just begins to lose its shine a little.

6.  Quickly spread the fudge in the buttered pan or plate and set aside to cool, about 15 minutes.

Notes:  Do not double this recipe.  Caution when cooking during humid, rainy weather or low pressure -- can cause "fudge disasters".  Try to cook on a dry day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pâté de Campagne

This is the recipe I used to make Pâté de Campagne this Thanksgiving.  Not an original recipe of mine, but an adaptation of this recipe -- Bon Appetit - January 2009  --  written by Molly Wizenberg, then a Cooking Life columnist for Bon Appetit, and also author of the blog,  Orangette.  For the pâté I made, I replaced chicken livers for about half of the ground pork, substituted pork loin for ham steak, and made just a few other minor changes. The end result tastes just like the pâté I remember making with my mother years ago -- our recipe then was from a Gourmet magazine (before the time of PC's and archived recipes), and was since lost.  Serve with toast points or baguettes. (Note: This recipe makes 2 terrines -- 1 regular size loaf  and one mini size loaf (perfect for giving as a gift).

Ingredients:

1 lb. chicken livers, rinsed, trimmed and cut in 2-3 pieces each

1 lb. ground pork

2 boneless pork loin chops (about 3/4 lb.), cut into 1 inch cubes

10 pieces bacon, chopped (I used Oscar Meyer center cut)

Additional  bacon to line the pan (about 16 for regular loaf pan, plus about another 6-8 for mini-loaf pan)

2 large shallots, minced

4 med. garlic cloves, minced

2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

2 1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 1/2 tsp. allspice

1 tsp. ground pepper

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup brandy or cognac

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts

This is what they look like before baking

Directions: 

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

(1) Process shallots and garlic in food processor until well minced. Place into a large bowl for mixing.

(2) In food processor, in small batches -- about 6 portions:    Process portion of chopped bacon until minced.  Then to it add portions of pork, ground pork and chicken livers (small portions each time).  Pulse to get texture that is not totally smooth, but make sure the pork loin chops are chopped up enough -- Country pâté is not meant to be a smooth pate, it is meant to have texture.   After each batch of meat is finished in the food processor, transfer it to the large bowl with the shallots and garlic.

(3) When all meat has been processed and added to the bowl, add the: salt, dried thyme, allspice, ground pepper, and eggs.  Mix together thoroughly. Add brandy (or cognac) and heavy cream; stir to mix thoroughly.  Mix in pistachio nuts.

(4) Line the loaf pans decoratively with bacon strips, saving some to cover the top of the loaves. This will be part of the finished product, so you want it to look good.

(5) Using a spatula, fill the bacon lined loaf pans with the pâté mixture.  Smooth down top with the spatula.  Line the tops with bacon strips to cover.

(6) Cover the pans tightly with aluminum foil.

(7) Place both pate loaf pans in a larger 13 x 9 x 2" baking pan. Place the large pan in the center of the preheated oven (350 degrees). Pour boiling water about an inch deep into the 13 x 9 x 2" pan -- so the loaf pans are baking in the water-filled pan.  Bake the smaller mini loaf pan for 2 hours, and the regular size loaf pan for 2 1/2 hours. Before removing pans from the oven, insert a ready-read thermometer into the center of each to check that the temperature in the middle is at least 170 degrees.

(8) Remove loaf pans from the oven and set on a rimmed baking sheet.  Cut some corrugated cardboard to fit the size of the top of each loaf pan.  Set fitted cardboard piece on top of the loaf pan. Place baking sheet with pans into the refrigerator.  On top of the cardboard covered tops, place cans of soup, etc to weigh down the pâté ( this will help create the proper texture and make it easier to cut.)  Refrigerate at least overnight.  

(9) When ready to serve, loosen the edges with a knife, then turn out onto a serving plate.  Cut into 1/2 inch slices to serve.  Serve with toast points or baguette slices.

(10) Re-wrap any leftovers very well with two layers of plastic wrap, and then place in a sealed zip-lock bag.  Keep refrigerated.  Can be made ahead.  Can be kept several days in the refrigerator. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

This is the cranberry sauce I make every year for Thanksgiving, although it's great anytime.  It has only 3 ingredients, is not cooked, can be made in 5 minutes, and is delicious!

 
Ingredients:

One medium bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained

1 large navel orange, with peel still on, washed and rinsed, and (with peel still on!) cut into halves, then each half cut in eight pieces

3/4 - 1 cup sugar, to taste

Directions:

In a food processor, in batches, process a handful or two of cranberries with some orange pieces.  Process until consistency is minced, but not too fine.  Put the minced fruit into a serving dish, and continue processing more batches of cranberries and oranges, until you are finished.  Add the sugar to all the minced fruit in the bowl and stir -- start with 3/4 cup sugar  and if that's now sweet enough, you can add more.  Refrigerate until cold, and serve.  Can be made a day or two ahead.


French Onion Soup

 
Homemade French Onion Soup is the best!  The most important part of the preparation is to cook the onions slowly for a long time -- that's the  key to the sweetness.  Over med-low heat it should take at least half an hour -- it took me an hour when I made it today  (although I was also trying to help Andrew with his algebra homework).  Do not try to rush it, the onions should not brown at all, just aiming for a nice golden color and very soft. (Note: you can use Provolone or Parmesan, instead of Swiss cheese, depending on what you like and what you have on hand-- it is all good, except Parmesan will have to be grated or very thinly sliced!)  Makes 4-6 bowls.

Ingredients:

4 large onions, cut in half and then sliced very thin ( I like to mix white onions and sweet onions, like Vidalia)

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)

4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour 

32 oz. beef broth (College Inn packaged broth is good, and does not need to be diluted like Campbell's)

1 can Campbell's beef consomme, plus 1 can water to dilute (this gives a little more flavor than just broth)

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper 

fresh sliced French bread (baguette or sourdough) -- about 1/2 inch thick

slices Swiss cheese (1-2 pieces to cover the bread, depending on type of cheese -- lacey needs 2 pieces) (See Note above)

When the onions first go in the pot.

See how much they cook down!
 
Directions:

In a large pot, melt butter on med-low heat, add onion slices and cook on med-low heat, stirring occasionally until onions are soft and golden (caramelized) -- (see notes at top of recipe) -- this will take 1/2 - one hour.  It seems like a lot of onions, but they do cook down. You may have to turn down the heat near the end; you do not want the onions to burn or be crisp. When onions are done, add the 4 Tbsp. flour to them, and stir thoroughly.  Cook another minute or two, stirring.  Add the beef broth, consomme, water, salt and pepper; stir to mix well.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn down heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Assembly:

Ladle some soup in each bowl -- not higher than about an inch below the top of the bowl to leave room for the bread and cheese.  Put the bread slice (or slices, if baguette) on top of the soup.  Put the cheese slice(s) on top of the bread. Arrange it so that when it melts, it all stays in the bowl.  Put the bowls on a cookie sheet.  Carefully place the cookie sheet in the oven on the middle shelf.  Turn on the broiler.  Keep the oven door open a bit and watch continuously until the cheese is melted and just begins to brown a bit.  This does not take more than a minute. Immediately remove from the oven and serve.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Vegetable Soup

Autumn is a great time of year to make vegetable soup, like this one made with root vegetables.  Serve with some good bread, like sour dough.

 

  
  
Ingredients:

2 large sweet onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, with leaves if possible, chopped
1 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
6 medium carrots, sliced
2 large (or 4 small) parsnips, peeled and chopped (slice the thin portion, then quarter and slice the rest)
1 medium rutabaga, chopped (first need to cut off all the waxy outside with a sharp knife) 
4 cups fresh baby spinach, slightly chopped to taste
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
10 cups water
2-1/2 tsp. kosher salt  

Directions:

In a large pot, add 10 cups water, all chopped vegetables (except spinach), salt and butter.  Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer, stirring occasionally.  Cook until vegetables are fork tender (about 1-1/2 hours), then add chopped spinach and cook about 10 minutes longer.  Serve hot.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Blue Ribbon Carrot Cake


Recipe from Stacy Sossner's grandmother, Rosalyn Levine, of Great Barrington, MA.  Stacy and her family are long-time friends of our family, from Kingston, NY.  This old-fashioned Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is the best!


Ingredients for Cake:

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups grated carrots
8 oz. crushed pineapple, drained
3 1/2 oz. coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  
Ingredients for Buttermilk Glaze:

1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 lb. butter or margarine
1 Tbsp. corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting:

1/4 lb. butter or margarine, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. orange juice
1 tsp. grated orange peel

Directions:

Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, generously grease 2-9" cake pans (also line with foil), sift flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat eggs.  Add oil, buttermilk, sugar and vanilla; mix well.  Add flour mixture, pineapple, carrots, coconut and walnuts.  Stir well, pour into pans.  Bake 55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. While cake is baking, prepare buttermilk glaze.

Buttermilk Glaze: In small pan combine sugar, soda, buttermilk, butter and corn syrup.  Bring to a boil, cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla,  Remove cake from oven and slowly pour glaze over hot cake.  Cool in pan until the glaze is totally absorbed, about 15 minutes.  Turn out of pan and cool completely.

Frosting:  Prepare  by creaming butter and cream cheese until fluffy.  Add vanilla, confectioner's sugar, orange juice and orange peel, mix well.  Frost cake.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Corn Chowder


Ingredients:

4 slices bacon

2 medium potatoes (red or Yukon Gold), peeled and diced into about 1/4-1/2 inch size pieces

2 ears corn-on-the-cob, uncooked (place lengthwise on cutting board to slice off kernels)

1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour (optional, if you prefer a thicker chowder)*

2 cups water

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 cup heavy cream

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

dash white pepper

3-4 basil leaves, chopped fine


Directions:

In a large pot (approximately 5 quarts), on med-low heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon when done and set aside.

In the hot bacon drippings, cook diced potatoes for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add corn kernels to pot, stirring to cook for another minute.

*(Note: if you like a thicker chowder, now is the time to add the 1 Tbsp flour to the potatoes and corn in the pot. Stir to coat evenly.)

Add water and salt, stir. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.


Add heavy cream, butter, white pepper and chopped basil leaves. Crumble the bacon into small pieces and add back to the pot. Stir and heat on low until thoroughly heated through, about 5 more minutes. Serve.

Serves 4

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Baked Beans


This North country family recipe is adapted from the one used by my Grandmother Zahn. The pieces of salt pork she added for flavor have been replaced with salt, butter and dry mustard. It is still a very simple recipe and I think the end result is as good as the original.


Ingredients:


16 oz. bag dried navy beans (Note: check the date to use the freshest ones available and find a brand that gives consistent results -- I like Goya)

7 cups water

1 medium-large onion (vidalia or white are best), sliced thinly

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. Coleman's dry English mustard

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

2 Tbsp. peanut oil

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Additional sugar for sprinkling on top prior to baking



Directions:

Remove dried beans from bag; rinse in a colander, sorting to remove imperfect beans and possible small bits that might be pebbles (really -- I have seen this).

Empty rinsed and sorted beans into a large (6-7 quart) pot. Add 7 cups water. On high heat, bring the water to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for 1 hour. (This is the quick soak method).

After 1 hour, drain the beans and then add them back to the pot. Add another 7 cups water. Bring beans and water to a boil over high heat. While waiting for the water to boil, add the other ingredients, stirring occasionally. When the beans have come to a full boil, reduce the heat to bubbling ( a little more than a simmer). Cook like this for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the beans have absorbed most of the water and the rest of the liquid, which should barely cover the beans, turns milky colored and soupy textured. (Notes: (1) You may need to adjust the heat downwards to more of a low simmer if the water level gets too low and the beans are in danger of sticking or burning, and (2) You may need to add more water if the beans are still not tender, but the water level is too low -- add a little water at a time, 1/4 to 1/2 cup). Also, while the beans are cooking, you can adjust the salt, to taste.

When you have tasted the beans to be tender, and the water which probably just barely covers the beans is that milky, soupy color and consistency, remove from the burner. Turn the beans into a pyrex, or other, baking casserole dish. Sprinkle with a bit more granulated sugar, about 1 tablespoon, on top to brown. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the top is nicely browned. Remove from the oven when done and let cool a bit before serving.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chicken Livers


One of Brian's favorites, I make this a few times a year. It is pretty rich, definitely not low fat. Buy the freshest chicken livers you can find as this does make a difference in taste and texture. I buy them at Whole Foods. I usually serve the chicken livers with cooked rice.


Ingredients:

Container very fresh chicken livers (see above)

4 Slices of raw bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 Large sweet or white onion, chopped

1/4 Cup brandy

1/2 Can chicken broth

Fresh ground sea salt and pepper, to taste


Directions:

1. Open container of chicken livers and transfer to a colander in the sink. Rinse gently. Using kitchen scissors, trim off and discard any fat and connective tissue. Cut the livers into about 1 to 1-1/2 inch pieces, trying to preserve as much of the livers as possible; set aside.

2. In a large cast iron skillet, over med-low heat, cook the bacon pieces until they are crispy and done. Remove from the pan and set aside on a small plate or bowl.

3. Add the butter to the bacon grease in the pan and turn up the heat a little bit (heat can be adjusted down later if cooking too fast or spattering). Add the chicken livers and cook until nicely browned.

4. Add the chopped onion, and lower the heat a bit so the onions cook slowly and do not get browned. You want them to get soft and golden and blend in a bit with the livers. This may take 10 minutes or so.

5. When the onions are done, add the cooked bacon back to the pan and stir.

6. Turn the heat up to sizzling, then add the brandy, stirring to coat and deglaze the pan.

7. Add the chicken broth, salt and pepper, to taste. Stir well. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook gently until broth is mostly gone, about 15-20 minutes. Serve.

Serves about 4.


Chopped Salad With Grilled Corn and Black Beans

Ingredients:
Medium head romaine lettuce, outer leaves removed, end cut off, and chopped into bite-sized pieces.
2 Ears corn-on-the-cob, wrapped in buttered aluminum foil, and grilled about 30 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so. When done, remove husks and silk. Cut the kernels off the cob.
15-1/2 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp. minced onion
1 Tbsp., packed, finely chopped fresh basil leaves
Ranch dressing
Fresh ground sea salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:
Place warm corn kernels in a large serving bowl and stir in butter until melted. Place remaining ingredients in the serving bowl and stir to mix. Add ranch dressing to coat well, stirring to mix thoroughly. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Serves 4-6.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lemon Caper Tilapia

For many years, this was Cameron's birthday dinner. It is still a favorite of ours. I usually make it with tilapia, but it would also work well with flounder, sole, or any other mild, white fish. Serve with parsley red potatoes and a salad of mixed greens with tomatoes. This recipe serves 4, but can easily be doubled, just use 2 large pans to cook the fish in, or do in batches and keep the cooked fish warm in the oven (275-300 degrees) while other fish is cooking. If doing multiple batches, pour the sauce over all the fish just before serving.

Ingredients:

3-4 whole tilapia pieces (about 2 pounds)
Freshly ground sea salt and pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp. Olive oil

Juice from 1 good size lemon
3 Tbsp. capers (the small nonpareil size)
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon size pieces

Directions:

Juice the lemon into a small ramekin. Measure capers into the lemon juice, and set aside.
On piece of waxed paper, place fish. Salt and pepper both sides. In a large frying pan over med-high heat, heat olive oil until hot. Carefully add fish and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the edges start to look browned and crisp. Carefully turn the fish using 2 spatulas. Cook for another 3 minutes or so until the fish is done and flakes easily. Remove fish to serving platter. In pan with heat still on, add lemon juice and capers, scraping the pan to deglaze. Then add the butter, stirring and gently shaking the pan , cooking until mixture thickens a bit and makes a nice sauce. Pour sauce over the fish on the serving plate. Ready to serve, or if needed, can be kept warm in the oven for a few minutes. In general the sauce should be put on the fish right before serving.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pepper Steak

Ingredients:

1 to 1-1/2 lb. sirloin strips, dried on paper towels
1/2 cup cornstarch for coating beef
1/2 cup peanut oil for frying beef
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
fresh ground sea salt and pepper, to taste

1 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 onion, sliced
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. Mirin (Japanese sweetened saki -- get in aisle near soy sauce)

additional 2 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 4 tsp. water
additional ground pepper, to taste
additional red pepper flakes, to taste

Directions:

In a small bowl or ramekin, mix together the soy sauce and Mirin with the cornstarch and water; set aside. Salt and pepper the beef, then coat with 1/2 cup cornstarch. In a large frying pan, heat oil on med-high heat until hot. Add red pepper flakes and cook for a few seconds. Add beef and cook on each side until well browned and crispy. Remove from pan to serving dish and set aside. Add a few more red pepper flakes and then green pepper and onion slices to pan. Stir fry for a few minutes until cooked, but still a bit crisp. Add beef back to pan and stir. Add more fresh ground black pepper, to taste. Turn down heat to med-low. Stir the soy sauce mixture again, and add to the pan, stirring to coat the beef and vegetables as the sauce thickens. Serve over rice.

(Serves 4)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lemon Macadamia & White Chocolate Cookies

This recipe is from my friend, Addy and her daughter, Caitlyn, who made them for a bake sale to benefit the local animal shelter. The recipe is adapted from a Mrs. Field's cookie recipe, with some changes. I knew when I heard the name that they would be good... Well, they were GREAT -- very lemony with lots of macadamia nuts and white chocolate bits. I had to ask for the recipe so I can make them -- here it is:






Saturday, May 7, 2011

Curried Chicken


This recipe works well for any chicken pieces, although I usually make it with frozen boneless chicken tenderloins. Serve with cooked jasmine or basmati rice and dipping bread.


Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
4 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. onion powder
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground sage
pinch ground ginger

4 Tbsp. peanut oil

chicken pieces (fresh or frozen), to serve 4-6

1-14 oz. can coconut milk (regular or lite)

Directions:

In a small bowl, mix together the spice ingredients. Set aside.

In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat oil and then add chicken pieces. Cook until chicken is browned and mostly cooked through, turning often.

When the chicken is well browned on all sides, sprinkle about 1 Tbsp. of the spice mixture over the top of the chicken (it helps to use a small sieve to get a thorough even coating). Continue to cook for a minute or so, then turn the chicken so the curry coating is on the bottom. Sprinkle about 1 Tbsp. of spice mixture over the chicken again and continue to cook for a couple of minutes, or at least until the part of the chicken touching the pan gets a nice crust with the curry spices. Turn the chicken again now so that the new spices on top are now on the bottom of the pan and cook another couple of minutes, or until this side of the chicken gets a nice golden curried crust. Remove the chicken from the pan when it is thoroughly cooked through and keep warm on a serving platter.

Add the coconut milk and the remaining spice mixture to the pan. Stir to mix and adjust with a little more salt, if necessary. Cook until heated through and thickened a little. Pour into a small pitcher or gravy boat to serve on top or alongside the chicken and rice.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Scones


This is the recipe I use to make scones. It is from Maida Heatters Book of Great American Desserts, except that over the years I have made a couple of changes: I think they are more tender made with heavy whipping cream instead of milk and I prefer to cut the dough into wedges rather than make as drop biscuits. Also like to sometimes vary the currants with other chopped dried fruit:

Ingredients:

2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
scant 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter (3/4 stick), diced
1/4 cup currants (or finely chopped pecans, dried cherries or cranberries as a variation)
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (or milk/half and half)
Additional sugar for sprinkling on top

Directions:Heat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a 1 cup Pyrex measuring cup, or other small mixing bowl, beat together the egg and egg yolk, then add cream or milk to mix -- set aside. In a medium bowl measure the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar; "whisk" with a pastry blender until combined. Add the butter and cut it in to make rather large crumbs. Add the fruit/nut combination you've chosen, mix. Make a well in the middle. Add the egg, egg yolk, and cream/milk combination, mixing lightly with a fork until the mixture comes together--don't over mix this.

Can make these as drop biscuits, dropping by rounded tablespoonfuls placed an inch apart on your prepared cookie sheet (to make 12). OR what I like to do is -- take all of the dough and gently make it into a ball with your hands and place onto the prepared cookie sheet. Gently pat or roll out to about 10 inches, then with a sharp knife, cut into 8 wedges. Space out a bit on the sheet so they have room to bake.

Sprinkle lightly with the additional sugar and bake for 14-15 minutes, or until nicely golden brown, reversing cookie sheet from front to back halfway through baking time.

Remove scones from baking sheet onto a rack to cool. Can be served right away. Any leftovers can be sliced in half and gently heated in toaster oven for a few minutes to regain fresh baked texture.









Sunday, March 27, 2011

Orange Beef


Ingredients:


2 Florida juice oranges (or 3 Florida tangerines)
1-1/2 inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. peanut oil for sauce
1 Tbsp. cornstarch for sauce
2 Tbsp. water

1-1/2 lb. sirloin strips, cut into bite-size pieces, and dried on paper towels
Additional 1/2 cup cornstarch for coating beef
Additional 1/2 cup peanut oil for frying beef
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

Directions:

(1) Using a peeler, zest the 2 oranges and set zest aside
.
(2) In a small bowl, then squeeze the juice from the 2 oranges and set juice aside.
(3) In large bowl, toss beef pieces in 1/2 cup cornstarch and set aside.
(4) In a small pot, mix fresh orange juice, ginger, garlic, sugar, soy sauce and 1 Tbsp. peanut oil. Bring to a boil. In a small measuring cup, mix 1 Tbsp. cornstarch with 2 Tbsp. water and add slowly to the boiling orange mixture, stirring until mixture is thickened, then turn off heat.
(5) In a large frying pan, add 1/2 cup peanut oil. Cooking on medium-high heat, add red pepper flakes and stir for about a minute, until pepper flakes are browned. Then add pieces of orange zest, stirring constantly until zest just begins to turn brown around edges. Remove zest pieces and set aside. Add cornstarch coated beef to the frying pan and cook turning occasionally until beef is well browned and very crispy.
(6) Add the cooked orange zest pieces back to the beef in the pan and stir.
(7) Add the cooked and thickened orange mixture to the beef in the pan and stir quickly to distribute the sauce evenly. Remove from heat.

Serve immediately with steamed Jasmine rice (cook with a Tbsp. minced ginger) and steamed broccoli.

(Serves 4)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies


Mostly adapted from the recipe on the package of Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips. I started using these chips in the cookies recently after it seemed that the Nestles Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips and recipe that I have always used seemed to not be as good as they used to be. Was there a change in the formulation of Nestles Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips -- I don't know. Anyway, I use a combination of the Ghirardelli chips and the Nestles chips and like that variation of chocolate flavor and texture better than either of the chips alone. The perfect chocolate chip cookie is about the technique as well as the ingredients, and another key to getting the best results in consistency is in the mixing technique: (1) creaming the butter with the sugars very well before adding the other ingredients, (2) adding in the eggs by mixing at low speed and only until incorporated (so as not to beat air into the eggs which would contribute to a higher rising cookie), and (3) mixing in the dry ingredients gently and only until incorporated (thinks this creates a more tender cookie). I also like the way they bake using convection baking at 375 degrees and baking them after refrigerating the dough (at least 1 hour NOTE: can be refrigerated for a day or two before baking -- this allows you to make the whole recipe in small batches of dough, 1 or 2 dozen a time, so you can have fresh baked cookies when you want them. Alternatively, cold cookies can be reheated gently in the toaster oven to refresh their fresh-baked crispness and melted chocolate texture).

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups unsifted all-purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) sweet, unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup Nestles Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare baking sheet by lining with parchment paper. Stir flour with baking soda and salt; set aside. Beat butter with white sugar, brown sugar and vanilla well, until mixture is very light and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed and only until incorporated after each addition. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients on low speed, mixing only until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Can be baked immediately by forming tablespoonful drops of cookie dough on the baking sheet and baking for 9 minutes (longer if not using convection baking), and reversing the sheet front to back 2-3 minutes before the 9 minutes is up. The rest of the dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated to be baked later. When ready to bake, cut off slabs of dough with a sharp knife, break into tablespoonful sizes and place on baking sheet. Bake as directed. Baking the cookie dough after refrigerating it like this also seems to improve the texture of the baked cookie.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.