Monday, November 23, 2009

Easy Microwave Rice

Recorded 11-23-09

1 cup long-grain rice
1-2/3 cup water
1/2 t salt
Combine ingredients in a deep microwavable container (I use a large margarine tub). Cover loosely (I use an oversize plastic top.) Microwave on the 'Rice' setting of your microwave, or program yours for 6 minutes on high, and 12 minutes on 20 percent power (assuming a 1450 watt oven). Uncover carefully (live steam!) and fluff with a fork before serving. Yields a product similar to a rice cooker but works nicely for small quantities.

Serves 3 to 4.

Quick Apple Compote

Prepared and recorded November 23, 2009. Does nicely as a fruit course for breakfast or brunch.
1 medium apple, peeled, cored and sliced in thin wedges
about 1/2 t sugar
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 c apple cider
1/4 t tapioca or corn starch
1 T cream (optional)
Place apples in a glass bowl. Add the other ingredients, and mix well, to disperse the starch and flavorings. Cover with plastic foil, and microwave on high for two minutes. Vent the steam carefully, and turn gently to mix. Microwave uncovered another 1 to 2 minutes, until apples are cooked tender-crisp. Serve warm, topped with cream or half-and-half. Serves 2.
Honeycrisp™ apples are fantastic. Named the state fruit of Minnesota in 2006. Sweet, tangy, fruity, crisp, complex, versatile. I just tried them. Should have done sooner! (Fuji, don't worry, I still love you too. And Cortland, where Laura raised her kids.)
Zeigler's Cider is excellent. Made in Lansdale, Pennsylania. Always fresh and distinctively applish. Can vary in sweetness during the season.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


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Quick Corn and Crab Chowder

Developed November 18, 2009. When DrDaddy was a kid, our mom, Dorothy Magid, would make a simple, quick, and nourishing lunch by mixing a can of creamed corn and a can of milk, heating on the stove and adding a big pat of butter. Yumm. This is my homage to her, the most wonderful mother I ever had, and, as a bonus, a quick knockoff of a favorite Chinese banquet dish, Corn Velvet Chowder with Crab Meat. It's an early summer treat when feed corn is "in the cream", only available for a few days before the crop matures and coarsens.
1 14-1/2 oz can creamed corn
1 can of milk
1 T butter
4-1/2 oz canned or cooked crab meat
2 scallions, green and white parts, finely sliced across
1 t salt
freshly-ground pepper, to taste
2 T dry sherry
2 T lemon juice
To prepare the canned crab, dissolve a tablespoon of kosher salt in a pint of water. In a sieve, thoroughly drain the packing liquid from the crab. Stir crab into the salt water and let stand  a few minutes. Thoroughly drain the rinsed crab. Mix the corn, milk and butter together in a medium saucepan. Slowly bring to about 160 degrees F (70 C) over medium heat. The soup will be hot but not boiling. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the crab and scallions and rewarm gently. Add seasonings and adjust to taste. Serves 3 to 4, with bread or rolls.
Variation: Saute 1/2 cup of cut corn in the butter before adding the canned corn and milk.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Beef Mushroom Gravy

Developed November 15, 2009. 
1/2 lb brown meadow mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus, marketed as "baby bellas" or cremini)
2 c low-salt beef stock
2 T vegetable oil
1/2 t granulated garlic
2 T dry minced onion
1 T tapioca or corn starch, dispersed in cold stock or water
Heat the oil in a heavy 10-inch skillet until it shimmers. Separate the stems from the mushroom caps, chop the stems, and slice the caps. Sauté the chopped stems for a few minutes and add the sliced caps. Sauté until well browned, add the dry onion, granulated garlic, and the beef stock. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir the starch mixture and mix into the gravy. When it thickens, take off heat. Taste for salt before serving. Makes about 3 cups.

Turnip Greens

First recorded July 4, 2000 and updated often. A Signature Dish and Family Favorite, and a Superfood to boot, jammed with hard-to-get vitamins and minerals. The family loves and eats it readily, seeking seconds, even thirds, and will snack on between meals.
1 lb frozen turnip greens + turnips, or 1 lb fresh greens (turnip, kale, and/or mustard, trimmed, washed thoroughly, drained, and cut across into 2 inch pieces
Pot liquor
1 c of water
3 T low-fat margarine
1 oz country ham, coarsely chopped
2 T dried minced onion
1/4 t crushed red pepper
1/2 t salt
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 t sugar
1/4 t ground black pepper
1/2 t mustard powder
Microwave Method:
Combine pot liquor ingredients in a covered 1-1/2 qt glass bowl. Microwave for 4 min on high, stirring once. Add the frozen greens and stir. Microwave 2 minutes on high. Stir and microwave another 2 minutes. Stir and microwave for 30 minutes on 20% power, stirring half way through.
Stove Top Method:
Combine pot liquor ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer 5 minutes. Add the greens, return to a gentle boil, turning a few times, for 5 minutes. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water as needed. Serves 4 to 6.

Oven-Braised Spare Ribs Smothered in Onions

Created and first cooked December 15, 2005, and many times since. A Family Favorite.
5 to 6 lb slab pork ribs, trimmed of fat and membranes, and cut into 2 rib portions (see Note)
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced through poles
1/4 c ketchup
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c water
garlic powder
paprika (smoked, if available)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 C). Arrange ribs, meaty side up, in a roasting pan with a cover. Combine liquids and pour over meat; dust on seasonings to taste. Top with sliced onions. Cover. Roast 30 minutes, turn over rib portions, reduce heat to 325 ºF and roast another 60 minutes covered, turning once after 30 minutes. Remove cover, turn meat, and brown for 30 to 40 minutes, basting occasionally. Meat should be very tender, almost falling off the bone. Serve with steamed rice topped with the onions and pan gravy. Fried apples and braised red cabbage make nice sides. Feeds 6 heartily.
Note: Choose small slabs (5 to 6 lbs). They come from younger animals, and are generally more tender and less fatty.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Steamed Egg Custard Soup

Devised April 2, 2008 from a remembered recipe learned in Seattle in the late 60's from a simple cookbook, now lost. Many US towns and cities support shops that sell Asian foods.
4 eggs
2 t dark sesame oil
3 c chicken broth
1 Chinese sausage, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 oz preserved salt turnip, rinsed well and thinly sliced
2 t dark soy sauce
2 green onions, finely sliced
In a 1-1/2 quart glass bowl, beat the eggs and sesame oil together. Mix in the broth, sausage, turnip, and soy sauce. Place the bowl in a steamer for 30 minutes. Ladle into small bowls, garnish with the green onions, and drizzle on a little soy sauce. Serves 6 as part of a Chinese meal

Easy Dirty Rice

Yields a more flavorsome, drier, lower in fat, and less spicy product than the recipe on the box. Recorded 14 January 2001.
1/2 lb mild pork sausage
1 box Zatarain's™ Dirty Rice Mix
1/2 c long-grain rice
3 c water
In a heavy 2-quart pot, brown the sausage thoroughly. Remove to a wire strainer to drain away the fat. Bring the water to a boil in the same pot. Add rice, rice mix and cooked sausage to pot. Lower heat, stir, cover and simmer 25 minutes. Toss and hold covered for serving. Serves 4 or 5. Variation: Very Dirty Rice. Sir in a 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped sauted chicken livers after the rice is finished streaming.

Breakfast Burrito

Inspired by the McDonald's™ product. First prepared November 8, 2008.
2 new potatoes, micro-waved 4 minutes, peeled and diced
1/2 lb fresh country pork sausage (Gunnoe's is good)
1/2 c coarsely chopped onion
2 oz canned chopped green chilies
1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
6 large eggs, well beaten and fluffy
1/4 c half and half
salt and pepper to taste
shredded Mexican cheese
6 large flour tortillas, steamed in microwave
mild salsa
In a skillet over medium heat, brown sausage lightly. Drain, reserving fat, and set aside. Return 2 T sausage fat to skillet, add potato and onion and continue cooking until tender. Add tomato and chilies and heat through. Add cooked sausage and mix. Add eggs-cream mixture over moderate heat and scramble until soft but not overcooked. Assemble on tortilla: cheese, egg mixture, salsa. Fold up bottom third, then in half, and then again lengthwise, leaving top open. Serve with salsa on the side. Serves 6.
CHEFS Tortilla Warmer - White (Google Affiliate Ad)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rave: Plouts

[This post repeats a contribution I made to the Usenet news group, triangle.dining in August, 2007.]

I chanced upon these fruits at Kroger last week, bought one, and let it ripen.

Bit into it, and was rewarded with a super-sweet juicy flesh much like a plum. No sourness or bitterness. Tender skin. Gorgeous flame-red flesh. I don't recall the variety but it looked like "Flavor Supreme".

Googling pluot (pronounced plue-ott) I learned it is a complex hybrid patented in 1989 by Floyd Zaiger said to be the modern Luther Burbank of stone fruits. Two-thirds plum (the plu-), one-third apricot (the -ot) (but I couldn't detect any apricot quality. There are more than a dozen cultivars.

Try 'em, you will love 'em. Harris-Teeter is offering 4 varieties this week at $2/lb.

Read more at Wiki:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pan Fried Potatoes

[Recorded 11-11-09]
1-1/2 lbs medium russet potatoes (about 5)
1/2 cup red or sweet white onion, blossom cut (see NOTE)
2 T canola oil
2 T butter
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t sweet paprika
Rinse the potatoes and cover with cold water in a 2 qt sauce pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat, cover tightly and boil slowly for 6 to 8 minutes. Turn off heat but leave pan covered on the burner for 20 minutes. Drain the warm potatoes well, and slice lengthwise, and then crosswise in 1/4 inch slices.

Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet until shimmering, add the butter, and when the sizzling stops, add the onions. Saute two minutes. Add the potatoes, taking care to separate the slices. Saute for about seven minutes, until browned on one side. Turn, season, and continue frying until both sides are nicely colored and cooked through.


Blossom cut, means like petals. Slice the onion in half through the equator. (Large onions can be cut equatorially twice more into four pieces.) Then cut pole to pole along longitudes.

Serves 3 to 4.

Monday, November 9, 2009

RAVE: Nicoise-Coquillo Olives

I first heard about this olive on the PBS program Spain On the Road Again, that follows the travels and feasting of  an American cook who lived there as a youth (Mario Batali), an American actress (Gwyneth Paltrow), an American food writer (Mark Bittman), and a stunningly beautiful Spanish TV actress who trained partly at UNC-Wilmington and who worked in the US (Claudia Bassols). They were joined in this episode set in Barcelona by American composer, singer, and friend of Paltrow, the neurasthenic Michael Stipe.

They spent the better part of the evening tapas tasting at the "best tapas restaurant in the World" in the company of the couple who founded and operate the place. The husband is apparently an icon in the Spanish cooking hagiography and is a damn fine cook, quiet leader and inspiring teacher of sous, waitstaff, etc. by the looks of it.

One of the many courses was a selection of olives. As one who grew up with pitted ripe California olives on his fingers, this was an eye opener. So many kinds! So many flavors and curing and spicing. I was most engaged by tiny olives that are mottled green-brown-black. The pits seem almost as large as the fruits. The flesh is a bit spicy, sour, and fruity. They are often available on the Mediterranean appetizer bar at a Durham megamart. An essential component of
salade nicoise (salad in the Nice fashion).

A warm olive assortment is a nice way to dress up a plain breakfast of creamy cottage cheese and buttered rye toast.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Asian Dipping Sauce

Formulated November 8, 2009 to go with pot stickers and shu mai left from lunch at the Hibachi 101 in Wilson, NC after a morning visit to the annual pre-Thanksgiving pottery sale at Finch's in Bailey, NC.
1 t sugar
1 t rice wine vinegar
2 t white wine
2 t soy sauce
1/2 t dark sesame oil
1/2 t Dijon mustard 
Combine the first three ingredients, and stir to dissolve sugar. Stir in mustard and soy. Stir in sesame oil. Serve at room temperature.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Green Beans Braised in Tarragon and Butter

[Recorded November 2, 2009; developed over a long time]
1/2 lb  haricot vert, if available, or nice young green beans
kosher salt
2 t unsalted butter
1/2 t dry tarragon, rubbed fine
Pinch off the stem end of each bean, but keep them whole if possible. [Hint: Hold a bunch of beans together in one hand, and pinch the stems off with the other.] 

Bring a half-inch of lightly-salted water to a boil in a saute pan and drop the beans. Cover, and boil slowly until almost tender, about 6 to 8 minutes (see RANT).

Drain into a colander and cover to keep warm. Dry the pan, and return it to medium-high heat. When sizzling hot, add the butter and coat the pan with it. After about a minute, a nutty buttery aroma will become apparent. Pure deliciousness. 

Drop the beans, coat with the butter, and salt. Handle with tongs. Add the tarragon, saute a few minutes until sizzling. Plate. Deglaze pan with a tablespoon of lemon juice, white wine, water or stock. When fluid is mostly gone, pour the butter-tarragon sauce over the beans, and serve. Dyno-mite.

Serves 2 to 3 as a side, or 1 bean freak

Don’t make the widespread culinary mistake of grossly undercooking vegetables. Because the nutrients within the plant’s cells can’t escape the cell wall (remember, people can’t digest cellulose), some of the potential food value (and flavor) will be unavailable. Reducing raw foods to a liquified puree (yuck) in a “juicer” will free the nutrients, as Jack LaLanne proves nightly on his informercials, but except for carrots, it's not a major home appliance. After all, how much liquified orange peel are you prepared to drink?

Farmer's Salad

Recorded October 21, 2008 Part of a “milchig” [dairy] Sunday morning brunch at Leon and Dorothy's table.
1 cup creamy cottage cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
sliced black olives (Greek are best)
cucumber, peeled, seeded, small dice
red onions, small dice
green onions, finely sliced
green or red sweet bell pepper, small dice
red radish, sliced thin
freshly ground black pepper
no salt needed (cheese has plenty)
Cantaloupe: The Inside Story
Other dishes to serve with brunch
smoked chubs
crescent rolls
Kaiser rolls
smoked sablefish
smoked white fish or trout
assorted fresh fruits (melon, grapes, berries, cherries)
assorted fresh vegetables (cucumbers, sweet peppers, radishes, black olives, green onions, tomatoes, red onion)
orange juice
tomato juice
fresh coffee
cream cheese