Monday, December 31, 2012

Osso Buco

Prepared December 29, 2012 by Laura using lamb shanks. Modified from Lidia Bastianich's recipe broadcast on PBS-TV. Although classically prepared with veal shank, lamb or fresh pork shank can be used instead, with essentially the same cooking method. Each is a 'bone with a hole', or osso buco in Italian, with meat having a similar flavor and texture.
4 fresh (or 6 dried) bay leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
6 whole cloves
6 strips of orange rind, cut with a vegetable peeler
6 pieces 2-to-3-inch thick veal shank (or use lamb or pork shanks)
about 3 c chicken, veal, or beef  stock
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 t kosher salt
2 large onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
4 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch chunks
6 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 medium parnsips, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 leeks, white part only, cut into 1-inch lengths
3 T tomato paste
1 T garlic, minced
1 c dry white wine
2 T grated orange zest as garnish
If using veal or pork, tie butcher's twine snugly around the circumference to hold the meat together while cooking. Tie the herbs, cloves, and orange peel strips up in cheesecloth. Salt the meat well on all sides and let it come to room temperature. Heat the stock (hint: use a one-quart measuring cup in the microwave). In a large heavy Dutch oven over medium heat, brown the shanks in olive oil on all sides. Set meat aside, add more oil as needed, and add the vegetables. Cook over medium high until lightly colored, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute or two, and then the garlic for 30 seconds. Add the meat back to the pot, add the herb bundle, and add hot stock until the meat is two-thirds covered. Adjust the heat to a fast simmer, cover and cook, turning every 30 minutes until tender, about 90 minutes. To serve, remove the vegetables to a platter, and arrange the meat on top. For veal or pork remove the strings before serving. Remove the herb bundle, and raise the heat to a boil, and reduce the pan liquid to form a smooth sauce, and spoon over the meat. Garnish with orange zest. Pairs nicely with a mushroom and leek risotto 

Lodge makes durable cast iron cookware. DrDaddy uses a red enamel 6-quart model. (Google Affiliate Ad).

Roasted Baby Bok Choy

Prepared November 7, 2012. Hurray for our beleaguered President.
12 oz baby bok choy
2 T vegetable oil
2 t dark sesame oil
1 t rice vinegar
1/2 t sugar
1/4 t granulated garlic
1/2 t kosher salt
2 T soy sauce
1/2 t ground mustard
Preheat a toaster oven or conventional oven to 450 degrees F (230 C). Separate the bok choy into stems, trim, wash thoroughly to remove sandy grit, and dry well. Place in a large bowl. drizzle on the vegetable oil, and toss to distribute evenly. Drizzle on the sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and the seasonings, tossing after each addition. Transfer to a heavy 8x8 inch baking pan. Roast undisturbed for 15 minutes, and then gently turn the bok choy, and roast an additional 5 minutes until nicely colored. Pairs nicely with pork, chicken, or grilled fish, or as part of a vegetarian or vegan meal. Serves 3 to 4.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Quick and Easy Chicken, Peas, and Rice

Prepared December 24, 2012.
1-1/2 c basmati or other long-grain rice
2-1/4 c water
2 t chicken stock concentrate (Better than Bouillion™)
1 c frozen baby green peas
1 medium (about 150 g) yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 T olive oil + 1/2 T butter
1 t sugar
1/2 t salt
1 8 oz container prepared chicken gravy (Campbell's™, or make your own)
1 2-1/2 lb rotisserie chicken, trimmed of fat, excess skin, and disjointed
Thaw the peas in cold water. Bring the water and stock concentrate to a boil in a small saucepan. Rinse the rice in a strainer until the water runs almost clear. Stir the rice into the boiling stock, cover, and reduce heat to a fast simmer. Mix the onion, olive oil, butter, sugar and salt together in a small bowl. Microwave loosely covered on high for 3 minutes until softened. After 15 minutes, transfer the rice to a two-quart glass casserole dish and fluff with a large fork, drain the peas well, and stir into rice. Stir in the cooked onion mixture. Pour half the can of gravy over the rice and peas. Arrange the chicken pieces on top, and pour on the remainder of the gravy. Cover tightly, and microwave on 30% power (1250 watt oven) for about 25 minutes until heated through. Serves 6.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Olive Tapenade

Prepared December 22, 2012. Tasty spread for bread rounds or flat bread.
2 t garlic, minced
1 c pitted kalamata olives
2 T capers
1/4 c chopped cilantro
2 T lemon juice
2 T olive oil
Place the ingredients into the bowl of a small food processor. Pulse until everything is finely chopped. Adjust seasoning to taste. Keeps well, covered in the refrigerator.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hint: Preparing Cauliflower

Devised December 21, 2012. How to remove the tough core of a whole head of cauliflower quickly, efficiently and safely.
1 large head of cauliflower
Holding the head firmly between both hands, strike the stem forcefully against a sturdy surface several times until it loosens. Twist it free and discard. Peel apart the florets, and trim away the tough bottom where they contacted the core. Suggestion: roasted with Asian seasonings and sweet red pepper.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Quick and Easy Chocolate Pudding

Recorded May 23, 2003.
3 T cocoa powder
3 T corn starch
1/3 c sugar
pinch salt
2 c cold milk
1/2 t vanilla extract
In a 1 qt saucepan, blend dry ingredients. Add a small amount of the milk, and mix until smooth. A flat-bottom whisk is ideal for the task. Stir in remainder of milk, and bring to a boil with constant stirring over medium heat. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. Pour into small bowls, layer with plastic foil, and chill. Serves 4. Store cold. Variation: Garnish with crushed peanuts, malted milk powder, or whipped cream before serving.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Beef Pot Roast

Beef Pot Roast
Prepared Nov 12, 2012.
about 3 lbs (1.5 kg) boneless beef chuck, about 1-1/2 inches thick
2 lbs (1.0 kg) yellow onions, cut into eighths through the poles.
1 lb (0.5 kg) carrots, cut on slant
1 large or 2 medium parsnips, cut on slant
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 yellow potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise
salt and pepper
1 c (225 ml) commercial beef stock
1 to 2 c (225 to 450 ml) dry red wine, as needed to half cover the meat
1/4 c (100 ml) ketchup
2 bay leaves
3 T (50 ml) tomato paste
1 t (5 ml) ground cumin
2 T (15 ml) paprika, divided
5 pepper corns
3 allspice berries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (about 175 C). Trim off excess fat and loose membranes from the meat, season well with salt and pepper, and place in a roaster. Top the meat with the onions, carrots and parsnips, add the seasonings and the liquids to half cover. Roast 90 minutes tightly covered, turning every half-hour, adding water to make up for evaporation. Turn over meat, add the potatoes skin-side down, dusted with paprika and salt, and spoon vegetables and liquid over both. Roast covered for 20 minutes, and then uncovered for 15 minutes more. Let meat cool on a plate 10 minutes before slicing. To serve, separate the roast into its major muscles along the natural seams and cut across the grain. Arrange on a platter with the pan-roasted vegetables. Defat the pan gravy and serve on the side. Serves 6 or more. Dinner rolls to sop the gravy will do nicely on the side.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rice and Mushroom Pilaf

First recorded July, 2008. Revised November, 2012. The dish takes its flavor from the mushroom-scented oil that is forced out of the mushrooms and into the rice as it cooks. 
2 oz (60 ml) olive oil, divided
6 oz (180 g) brown button (baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 T (15 ml) minced garlic
2 c (500 ml) long-grain white rice
3 c (750 ml) hot chicken stock (or vegetable/mushroom stock if vegan)
1 t (5 ml) salt
Heat half the oil in a heavy 10-inch (25 cm) skillet on medium high. When it shimmers, add the mushrooms. Stir as they cook until well browned and beginning to shrivel (5 to 6 minutes). Add the rice and the remainder of the oil, and mix to coat. Continue to heat, turning often. When rice turns milky, add the garlic and heat briefly, until fragrant. Stir in the salt and the stock all at once. Lower heat, and boil uncovered slowly, until the liquid drops to the level of rice but before volcanoes appear. Stir once only, and cover. Lower heat to simmer for 20 minutes. Fluff, and let steam covered off heat for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6 to 8. Good side for pan-roasted pork chops.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gnocchi in Brown Butter and Sage

Adapted from Marc Forgione's recipe on Food Network.
1 lb store-bought gnocchi
6 T unsalted butter
1/2 to 1 t crushed red pepper
6 sage leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook, stirring, until the butter develops brown flecks and smells nutty. Watch it closely to keep the butter solids from burning. Remove from the heat.
Bring 3 quarts of lightly-salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi, reduce the heat to a slow boil, and wait until they float to the surface. Simmer a minute more. Taste one to make sure it's cooked through. Rewarm the brown butter over medium-low heat. Scoop the gnocchi from the pot with a spider or slotted spoon, transfer to the skillet and toss until some of the brown-butter flecks stick to the gnocchi. Add the red pepper flakes, sage and a few tablespoons of the gnocchi cooking water to form a sauce. Toss again. Add more gnocchi water if needed. Off heat, mix in half of the cheese. Divide among bowls and top with the remaining cheese. Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as part of an multicourse meal.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Roasted Vegetables II

Prepared October 19, 2012. Accompanied grill-roasted turkey breast and mashed potatoes and gravy. A Family Favorite.
1 large sweet onion
1 large red sweet pepper
2 large portobello mushroom caps
about 1/4 c olive oil
1 t dark sesame oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 to 3 T soy sauce
1/4 t garlic powder

1/2 t sugar
1/2 t smoked paprika (optional) 
1/4 t ground black pepper
Preheat a toaster oven to 425 degrees F (218 C). Peel the onion and cut into 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) thick slices parallel to the equator, and separate into rings. Remove the seeds and membranes from the pepper and cut into 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) by 1 inch (2.5 cm) strips. Remove the stems, wipe the outside of the caps with a moist cloth, and slice the mushrooms into 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) wide strps. Place the vegetables in an 8 X 8-inch (20 X 20 cm) metal baking pan. Drizzle on the olive oil and toss the vegetables with tongs. Add the other seasonings and toss until well-coated. Roast uncovered for 30 minutes. Toss, and return to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are nicely colored and tender. Serves 4 to 6.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Salt and Pepper Biscuits

First prepared in Autumn, 2012. Good with pea soup, and other hearty soups and stews.
4 frozen buttermilk biscuits (Pillsbury™ is good)
cooking spray
water spray
coarse salt
coarsely-ground black pepper
Preheat toaster oven to 375 degrees F (191 C). Treat baking pan with cooking spray. Arrange frozen biscuits, not touching. Spray them with cooking spray. This keeps the crust tender. Spray tops lightly with water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 20 to 22 minutes, until tops are nicely browned. Let cool 5 minutes before splitting;  serve with softened butter. Good alongside stews, soups, and hearty salads.

F --> C Temperature Conversion Table for Cooks

Temperature Conversion Table
 Fahrenheit   Celsius    C(Approx)
      79          80
         93          95
        107         110
        121         120
        135         135
        149         150
    325         163         165
    350         177         180
    375         191         190
    400         204         205
    425         218         220
    450         232         230
    475         246         245
    500         260         260
    525         274         275
    550         288         290

Roasted Cauliflower and Pepper Soup

The vegetables ready for roasting
Prepared October 15, 2012. Can be prepared as a conventional, vegetarian, or vegan dish.
large head of cauliflower, trimmed, cored, and cut into florets
1 large sweet red pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 jalapeño peppers, membranes and seeds removed, and coarsely chopped
2 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
2 t garlic, chopped
olive oil, as needed to coat the vegetables lightly
4 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1 T dry)
1 T salt
1/2 T sugar
1 t ground black pepper
3 c water
3 c chicken or vegetable stock
juice of a large lemon
3/4 c half and half, or light cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C). Place vegetables in an open roasting pan. Drizzle on oil, and toss lightly to coat. Add the thyme, salt, sugar, and pepper. Roast until lightly colored and softened, about 40 minutes. About half of original volume will remain, concentrated in flavor. Transfer to a heavy 6-qt pot. Add the water and stock. Simmer covered until tender, about 20 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs, set half the vegetables aside in a bowl. Blend the rest until smooth with an immersion blender. Lightly blend the reserved vegetables and return to the pot. Stir in the lemon juice, and adjust the salt and pepper. Stir in cream, if desired. Yields about 3 quarts.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Microwave Potato Meal

Recorded October 9, 2012. Tasty, nutritious, cheap, and fast. Breakfast or lunch or dinner. Oiling the skin, keeps it tender in the microwave, and the crust of salt adds flavor and texture.
1 medium russet potato
vegetable oil
kosher salt
1 T tub margarine or butter
1/3 c low-fat cottage cheese
2 T low-fat sour cream
1 t chopped chives or green onions (optional)
Scrub and dry the potato. Prick with a sharp knife about 10 times. Oil the skin, moisten the top, and sprinkle on the coarse salt. Microwave on high (1250 W) for 4 minutes or so. Cut lengthwise and then across, and press together edges to form a pocket. Scoop the butter or margarine into the hollow, mix in, add the cottage cheese, top with the sour cream, and garnish with chives or green onions.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Split Pea and Country Ham Soup

Prepared September 29, 2012. Modified from a recipe from America's Test Kitchen. An alternative to pea soup that doesn't require a meaty ham bone. Staged addition of ingredients cooks each appropriately.
2 T unsalted butter
1 large onion (about 1-1/2 c), chopped fine
1/2 t salt
2 t minced garlic
8 c hot water
12 oz country ham steaks, cut into quarters
1 lb green split peas, checked for pebbles and rinsed
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 t dry
2 bay leaves
1/2 T sugar
1 c (150 g) carrot, small cubes
1 c (150 g) celery, small dice
1/4 c (50 g) quick-cooking pearl barley (see Note)
freshly ground black pepper
Heat butter in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When lightly browned, add the onion and salt.  Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add water, ham steak, peas, sugar, thyme, and bay leaves. Increase heat and bring to simmer, stirring frequently to keep peas from sticking. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the ham pieces and set aside to cool. Add the carrots and celery and return to a simmer. When the ham pieces are cool enough to handle, trim away the skin and fat, cut the lean into small dice, and add the meat back to the soup. Continue to simmer covered for 15 minutes, add the barley, and continue until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes longer. 
Variation: Replace two cups of water with a 14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes. [Note: If using natural pearl barley, add it with the carrots to allow adequate cooking] Remove and discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Season generously with pepper and add salt if needed. Hot buttered biscuits make a good side.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Meat Sauce for Pasta

Prepared and recorded September 2, 2012.
2 c yellow onion, finely chopped
1 c mushroom, finely chopped
2 t minced garlic, divided
about 3 T olive oil
8 oz lean ground chuck
6 oz pork sausage
6 oz mellow red table wine (e.g,, Sangiovese)
2 T mushroom powder
2 T ketchup
1/8 t crushed red pepper
2 T tomato paste
1 T onion powder
8 oz beef stock
1/2 t ground cumin
1 28-oz can prepared marinara sauce (Trader Joe's™ is good)
water as needed to adjust thickness
In a heavy 12-inch skillet over low-medium heat, heat 1 T oil over medium, and add the onions. Cook, covered, with occasional stirring for about 6 minutes until soft and lightly colored. Set aside in a bowl. Wipe out the skillet, raise the heat to medium high, add 1 T oil, and add the mushrooms. Saute until lightly colored, add 1 t garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant. Add mushrooms and garlic to the bowl with the onions. Wipe the skillet, add the last 1 T of oil, break the sausage into small pieces, mix in the ground beef, cooking gently, continuing to break the meat into small pieces. Take care not to overcook the meat. Add tomato paste, crushed red pepper and the wine. Reduce the wine to about one-third. Add beef stock, mushroom powder, ketchup, cumin, and onion powder. Simmer for 10 minutes. scraping the pan to release any brown bits. Finally, stir in the marinara sauce, and simmer for an hour, covered loosely. Stir occasionally, adding water if sauce becomes too concentrated. Yields about 2 quarts of sauce. Freeze extras. Well suited to potato gnocchi, pappardelle, or fried polenta rounds.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Vegetarian Lasagna

Recorded December 3, 2000. A bit naive but still serviceable.
4 eggs, lightly beaten
4 oz feta, crumbled
4 oz shredded mozzarella
2 oz grated Parmesan + 1 oz
1 lb ricotta
1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 t Italian herbs
1 t fennel seed
1/2 t garlic powder
salt and pepper
1 28-oz can prepared marinara sauce
1 small can sliced mushrooms, drained

1 lb lasagne, boiled according to package, blanched in cold water, and drained
1 small can sliced ripe black olives, drained
Beat the eggs in a large bowl, stir in the ricotta until smooth, then stir in the cheeses, spinach, and seasonings. In a 2 qt (about 2 L) rectangular glass baking pan treated with cooking spray, place a small amount of sauce on bottom. Cover bottom with a layer of noodles. Spread half the cheese mixture over the noodles. Add a second layer of noodles, and spread half the sauce and sprinkle on the olives. Add the next layer of noodles, and spread the rest of the cheese mixture. Add the last layer of noodles, spread on sauce and distribute the mushrooms. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Cover with foil treated with cooking spray, and bake at 350 F for 60 - 70 minutes. Cool 15 before slicing and serving. Serves 6 to 8 generously. Pairs nicely with a tomato-avocado salad.

Quick and Easy Vegetable Noodle Soup

Recorded August 27, 2012. Pairs nicely with BLT's for a light summer meal.
2 T vegetable oil
1/2 c sweet peppers, large dice
1/2 c mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c baby bok choy, sliced
1/2 c fresh tomato, coarsely chopped
2 green onions, sliced thinly, on the diagonal
6 c hot water
1 t dark sesame oil
2 t soy sauce
1 T mushroom powder
1 pkg Knorr tomato-noodle soup mix
Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium high. Add the peppers, sauté until a bit colored. Add mushrooms, and sauté. After a few minutes add the bok choy and the tomatoes. When all are softened, add the hot water and the seasonings. Bring to a slow boil, and cook 5 minutes. Add the soup mix, and cook following package directions. When a few minutes remain, add the green onions. Serves 3 to 4.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Tomato-Avocado Salad

Prepared July 28, 2012. Nice as part of summer Mexican meal.
1 large ripe tomato, sliced through the poles
1 ripe avocado, prepared as described
1/4 c (50 ml) thinly-sliced radish
1 c (250 ml) head lettuce, cut into cubes
juice of 1 lime
olive oil
salt, ground cumin, and black pepper
To prepare the avocado, cut in half through the poles, twist to free one half. Strike the pit with a knife and twist to remove the pit. Squeeze lime juice on the cut halves to stop browning. Insert the tip of a spoon between the skin and the flesh, and circle around deeper and deeper until the fruit has been freed. Lift the half out, turn over, squirt with lime juice, and cut into 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick slices. Arrange the tomato, avocado, and lettuce in a bowl. Squeeze on the rest of the lime juice and gently turn the ingredients, aiming to keep the avocado intact. Moisten with a bit of olive oil as needed, turn again, and season lightly to taste. Serve slightly chilled. Serves 2 to 3.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Queso Blanco Cracker Snacks

Prepared and recorded August 4, 2012. Often, mid-morning or late in the afternoon, a hunger arises that is difficult to ignore. Yet, one doesn't want to kill their appetite for lunch or dinner. Ideal is a small volume, high protein, high fat nibble or nip. These crunchy, cheesy, sweet hot snacks do nicely.
1 1/4 inch thick slice of queso blanco, cut into four pieces
2 t apricot, mango, or jalapeno preserves
4 small crackers
Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium high. Place cheese pieces in the hot dry skillet. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Flip, and cook a minute or two more until the second side is also toasty. Arrange each piece on a cracker, and spoon on a 1/2 t of the preserves. Eat cautiously! They will be hot. Serves one.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: Peony Asian Bistro

Adapted from a post to Usenet newsgroup triangle.dining in 2007. Eldest son and I had a spontaneous lunch (delayed a trip to a nearby Home Depot) at a new restaurant open a few weeks in Patterson Place (near New Hope Commons off US Hwy 15-501) in Durham. This mini-mall is badly laid out and so it can be hard to spot but this place is across the way from Panera's.
We entered about 1 pm on Sunday. Only a few tables were occupied and they seemed to have about 5 servers and dining room managers. Plenty of service but it was confusing as to who to turn to for assistance. Although the posted paper menu looks like every other storefront "Chinese" restaurant, one's impression changes suddenly upon entering. The space is small but spacious. Tall ceilings and large expanses of orangey-peach walls give an open dramatic look. 
Most of the menu is conventional but they do offer sushi that we didn't try or see. Shortly after we were seated, our server brought a small artful salad as welcoming gift from the chef. I can't tell you what it was for sure but it was unique and delicious and beautiful. Seemed to be formed from fried panko crumbs, shreads of cold vegetables and a light savory dressing. A big surprise in a "store front" restaurant.
What makes this place a winner are the special dishes. Son ordered crispy shrimp with salt and pepper. Generous serving of large shrimp in a tempura-type breading ($11.95). Nicely garnished. He thought them excellent. The side order of pork fried rice was bland and forgettable. They frequently refilled his Coke. The side order of hot and sour soup was said to be better than average but not hot enough. My dish was especially outstanding. Half a boneless duck, crispy skin, moist tender meat over a bed of nicely sauced stir-fried vegetables with a side of steamed brown rice ($12.95). Very generous serving, beautifully presented. The flower garnish fashioned from orange carrot and *white* carrot was elegant. Not a surprise but a shock in a store-front mall restaurant but proof these people both know and care.
My only complaint was the tea. Oddly served in a coffee cup and very strong -- been sitting around for a while. I should have ordered fresh in a pot. They have beer and wine but very limited offerings. We will be back soon.

Faux Kreplach

Recorded July 30, 2012. A kreplach is a stuffed noodle similar to soup won tons or ravioli in broth. Kreplach simmered in chicken stock makes a filling light supper. But good homemade kreplach take a lot of time and effort. A workable substitute is frozen beef ravioli, widely available in grocery stores such as Walmart and Kroger, for example.
12-1/2 oz (350 g) (half bag) frozen beef ravioli
3 qt (3 liter) water
1 T (15 ml) salt
Bring the salted water to a rolling boil in a 4-qt (4-l) pot over high heat. Add the frozen ravioli. Stir gently to break up clumps. Ravioli will be on bottom. Cover the pot, lower the heat, and return to a gentle boil. After the ravioli have begun to float, lower the heat to a fast simmer and cook 5 minutes more. Lift the ravioli gently with a slotted spoon and place in hot chicken stock or soup. Simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Serves 3 to 4.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas

First prepared July, 2012, and many times since. A Family Favorite. Developed from a family friend’s hand-written recipe. The dish is distinguished by using a sour-cream enriched velouté to cover the filled tortillas rather than a sauce based on tomatoes. After baking, it comes to the table as a casserole of hearty flavors and solid nourishment.

1/4 c (125 ml) each butter and olive oil
1 c (250 ml) white onion, chopped
2 to 4 jalapeño peppers, ribs and seeds removed, finely diced

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
2 c (500 ml) chicken stock
1 c (250 ml) sour cream

1 T (15 ml) lemon juice
1 t (5 ml) salt
12 corn tortillas  

8 oz (240 g) cooked boneless chicken, shredded
1/2 c (125 ml) grated queso cotija cheese (or romano)
1/4 c (60 ml) chopped green onions
1/4 c (60 ml) chopped cilantro
1/4 c (60 ml) chopped parsley
6 oz (175 g) shredded Mexican-style cheese blend

Heat oil and butter in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat, add the onion and peppers, and cook about 5 minutes until soft but not browned. Add the garlic, and when fragrant, stir in the flour, and cook for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the chicken stock, and heat with stirring until the sauce boils and thickens. Off heat, stir in sour cream, lemon juice, and salt. Moisten the filling with a 1/2 c (125 ml) of the sauce, and pour half of the remainder into a greased 9x13 inch (23 x 33 cm) glass baking dish. Soften the tortillas in the microwave under a damp paper towel. Place a twelfth of the filling in a tortilla, roll up, and arrange in the baking dish, seam side down. Continue until all the tortillas are filled. Pour remaining sauce over the tortillas. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top and bake uncovered 25 minutes at 425 degrees F (220 C) until the cheese melts and is lightly browned. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Garnish each serving with chopped green onions if desired. Serves 4 to 6. Suggested side: slices of ripe tomato and avocado dressed in lime juice, olive oil, salt and cumin.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuna Pasta Salad

Recorded July 22, 2012. Adapted from Jeremy and Suzanne's pasta salad dish.
8 oz penne rigate, cooked until tender in salted water
1 c grape tomatoes, halved
6 oz mozzarella, cut in cubes
1/4 c thinly sliced red onion
1 can Italian tuna packed in olive oil
2 T flat parsley or basil, minced
2 T lime juice
3 to 4 T vinaigrette dressing
salt and pepper to taste
Chill the drained pasta and place in a large bowl. Fold in the additions and then fold in the dressings. Adjust the seasonings. Serve cold as a light lunch or as part of a summer supper.  Variations For some crunch, toss in a handful of garlic croutons or bite-size pieces of iceberg lettuce.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Simple Chicken Soup

Recorded July 21, 2012. A lot simpler than beginning with an entire chicken. Cooking the chicken and vegetables separately gives better control over doneness.
3 lbs chicken pieces (drums and thighs)
8 black peppercorns
fistful of parsley
2 bay leaves
2 crushed whole garlic cloves

1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 3 inch lengths
2 ribs plus leaves celery, cut into 3 inch lengths
3 medium yellow onions, peeled, whole
3 small parsnips, peeled and halved lengthwise 
Skin chicken pieces and cut away visible fat. Rinse well. Place in a 6 to 8 quart pot, and cover with water by an inch. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, permitting the foam that forms to coalesce and stick to the walls of the pot. Lower the heat to a fast simmer, and cook uncovered 25 minutes. Remove the partially-cooked chicken to a platter, and cover. Skim the stock of floating debris using a fine strainer and ladle. This step helps produce a clear stock. Tie the seasonings in cheese cloth, a paper coffee filter or a tea ball. Add the onions and the herb bundle to the pot and bring to a boil, lower heat to a fast simmer, and cook uncovered 10 minutes. Add the other vegetables and seasonings to the pot, adding water as needed, and simmer for 20 minutes. Return the chicken and simmer another 10 to 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and the vegetables are tender. Discard the herb bundle. As a first course, serve the stock plus matzo balls, kreplach, or egg noodles, cooked separately. Next, serve the meat and vegetables as a second course.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Grilled Baby Back Pork Ribs

St. Louis-cut Spare Ribs for a Recent Gathering
Recorded July 16, 2012. Prepared this way for many years. A Family Favorite.
1 slab of pork back ribs, about 3 lbs
3 T  general purpose dry rub
heavy duty aluminum foil
Preparation. Prepare ribs by rinsing, peeling off the membrane that lines the bony side, and cutting and scraping away as much visible fat as practical. Dry with paper towels. Cut between the 6th and 7th rib to yield two half-racks, easier to handle during cooking. Season the meaty side and rub in well. Marinate in the cold for 2 to 12 hours covered with plastic.
Grilling. Start a hot fire in a large kettle grill (
Weber or similar) with about 3 quarts (3 L) of briquettes. When red-hot, push the coals to one side of the grate, and preheat and clean the grill. Start with meat side down directly over coals, grill for 2 to 3 minutes until beginning to color. If it flames up, move immediately to the 'cold' side of the grill to let the flare die down. Turn and continue to grill over hot fire, turning occasionally until both sides are nicely colored. Move the meat to the cold side of the grill, and cover tightly, and close top and bottom vents half way. Roast for about 10 minutes, turn and rotate the meat, continuing to roast and turn for a total of 35 to 40 minutes. Double-wrap each piece tightly in foil and return to the grill, with the vents closed. Let the meat steam for another 20 minutes. Let each bundle rest off-heat for 10 minutes before dividing into individual ribs. Variation: Add a tablespoon of soy sauce and a pinch of dry rub to each aluminum foil bundle before returning to grill. 
Serves 3 to 4. Suggested sides: all-american potato salad, onion-cucumber salad, kasha, white bean salad.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Grill-Roasted Potatoes

Prepared June 17, 2012
4 medium yellow potatoes (Yukon Gold™ is good)
3 to 4 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Scrub and dry potatoes. Prick the skin with a fork. Microwave on high for about four minutes, until partly cooked. Let cool, cut in half lengthwise, and toss in a dish with the oil and generous seasonings. Let stand, cut side down, to absorb the oil. Grill, cut side down, without turning for about 6 to 8 minutes over a moderate fire, until warmed through, golden brown, with nice grill marks. Serves 4 to 6.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Corned Beef Hash

Butter-Steamed Egg on Corned Beef Hash
Prepared June 5, 2012.
3 T butter, divided
2 c yellow or white onion, small dice
1 12 oz can corned beef, chopped
1 lb yellow potatoes (Yukon Gold™ is good)
freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
chopped parsley (optional)
Peel the potatoes and cut into 1 inch pieces. Cover with water and add salt. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a fast simmer. Cover and cook 10 minutes until potatoes test almost cooked with a knife point. Rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking and drain well. Spread on a cutting board to cool, and chop coarsely. Melt 2 T butter over medium heat in a 12-inch nonstick skillet, add the onions, salt lightly, and cook slowly until soft, about 6 minutes. Mix in the meat and potatoes, raise the heat to medium high, chop the ingredients together with a spatula, press the hash to form a compact cake, and cook 8 to 10 minutes undisturbed. Turn the cake over, press to compact again, and distribute the remaining butter, cut into pieces, evenly around the pan edge. Cook the bottom side until it's also brown and crisp. Taste for salt, season with pepper, and garnish with chopped parsley. Veriation: Top each serving with a poached or butter-steamed egg, as shown. Makes about 6 eight-ounce servings.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ingredient: Toaster-Oven Bacon

Toaster-Oven Bacon, Butter-Steamed Egg & Blueberry Pancake

Published June 4, 2011. Restaurant and hotel chefs usually prepare bacon in large quantities in the oven. This toaster-oven method is easy to use in the home for small quantities. It is easier and cleaner than frying. A crisp, flat product emerges in 20 minutes or less. Great as a side dish, or as an ingredient in other dishes. Make extra to add bacon flavor and crispness to other dishes such as BLTs, appetizers, dips or salads.

4 slices thick-cut bacon
heavy aluminum foil larger than toaster-oven grill pan
Preheat a toaster-oven to 400 degrees F (ca 190 C; 465 K). Crumple the aluminum foil and then unfold and flatten it. Cover the toaster-oven grill pan with the aluminum foil. This creates sharp peaks to support the bacon without sticking and valleys to help the fat drain away as the bacon cooks, and greatly simplifies clean up. Arrange the bacon stretched out on the foil. Bake for 15 minutes, check for doneness, turn the bacon strips over and continue baking until crisp, another 2 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Keeps well in refrigerator or freezer, tightly wrapped in dry spot.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ingredient: Durham-Style Q Sauce

Inspired by Sam Dillard's vinegar-spice-tomato-mustard sauce used and sold since 1950 in his Durham, NC BBQ restaurant. Sadly now closed and sauce no longer marketed it appears. [Update: a small supply was seen August, 2012 in a local supermarket's display of NC products.] Developed by DrDaddy in May, 2003 for use as a marinade, mop, and sauce for chicken, spare ribs, and pork shoulder.
1 c water
1/4 c vinegar
3/4 c tomato sauce
2 T prepared yellow mustard
1/2 t crushed red pepper
1/2 to 1 t Louisiana pepper sauce (Frank's™ is good)
2 t salt
2 t sugar
1 t tapioca starch (optional)
Measure the first three ingredients into a measuring cup, then add the others, and mix thoroughly. Microwave on high until 160 to 165 degrees F (72 C), stirring a few times. Store in a closed container in the refrigerator. Cover chicken or pork with sauce, and marinade in the refrigerator up to four hours. Grill over a medium fire, covered, basting and turning frequently.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Antipasto Salad

Antipasto Salad
Served as a first course before gnocchi in tomato cream sauce. A variety of bottled dressings were offered for individual use.
red leaf lettuce
iceberg lettuce
cucumber, peeled and sliced lengthwise
radish, sliced
ripe Kalamata olives
feta cheese, crumbled
green onions, sliced on the diagonal
The platter was chilled before assembling. Tear the lettuces into bite-size pieces. Arrange the other ingredients on top of the bed of lettuce as suggested in the photo.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Quick and Easy Pinto Beans and Rice

Devised and first prepared May 27, 2012.
3/4 c medium-grain Mexican rice
1 t salt
3/4 c water
1 20-oz can charro beans (La Costeña™ is good)
3 T olive oil, divided
In a tall microwavable container add the rice, salt, and 1 T of oil. Mix, cover loosely, and heat on high (1250W) for 1 minute. Add the water and the entire can of beans. Stir to combine, cover, and microwave on high until mixtures boils and most water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir, cook loosely covered on #3 power for 15 minutes. Drizzle on the remaining olive oil and gently combine. Serves 6.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cuban Sandwich

Recorded May 21, 2012.
sliced baked ham
sliced garlicky roast pork
sliced dill pickles
provolone, Swiss, or cheddar cheese
yellow mustard
softened butter
crusty French or Cuban bread
Cuban Sandwich Ingredients
Slice loaf lengthwise. Spread mustard on both inside surfaces. Layer ham, roast pork, cheese, and pickle slices on bottom and cover with top. Press down firmly and spread butter on the outside. Grill under a heavy cover or in a panini press until toasty and cheese has melted. Slice diagonally into sections for serving.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hint: Making Perfect Gravy from a Mix

Recorded May 9, 2012. Perfected over many trials.
1 package gravy mix, any variety (to make 1 to 1-1/4 c gravy)
water according to package directions
Measure the required amount of water into a plastic measuring cup. Pour about 1 oz (30 ml) of this water into a tall 20 oz (300 ml) plastic container. Layer the gravy mix on top of the water, letting it become moistened, and then stir until smooth. Now, heat the remaining water in the microwave, add to the gravy mix, and whisk until smooth. Microwave about 90 seconds more, in short intervals, stopping to stir when gravy threatens to bubble over.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Hint: Freezing Abundant Tomatoes

Recorded April 30, 2012. Circumstances can sometimes provide ripe tomatoes in excess of one's immediate needs. This method preserves most of the nutritional and culinary value with a minimum of effort.
ripe tomatoes (cherry, grape, or globe)
pint-sized (500 ml) plastic freezer bags with zipper closures
Rinse and dry tomatoes. Cut away any blemished areas. On a sanitized plastic cutting board, dice a few tomatoes, and then chop coarsely with a chef's knife. Transfer the chopped tomatoes, including juice and seeds, to a large measuring cup. Continue until all of the tomatoes have been diced and chopped. Fill each bag with 8 oz (250 ml) chopped tomato. Exclude as much air as possible as bag is closed. Lie each bag down flat in metal baking dish, pre-chilled in the freezer. When the dish is full of bags, return to the freezer, until frozen solidly. Use whenever a sauce, stew, soup, or dip would benefit from addition of fresh-frozen tomato product.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Quick Corn Bread

Quick Corn Bread
First prepared and recorded June 26, 2008. Jiffy Mix™ is made in a small town not far from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where DrDaddy once studied. He saw the factory on his last visit to Michigan.
1 package Jiffy™ corn meal muffin mix
1 large egg
1/3 c milk
1/2 t baking powder 1 T olive oil
cooking spray
Beat milk and egg together in a bowl. Stir in mix, oil, and the baking powder with a spatula until batter is smooth. Set aside to rest while oven preheats. Place an 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) heavy metal pan in the cold toaster oven and preheat both to 400 degrees F (204 C) . Grease hot pan well with cooking spray. Pour and level batter. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out cleanly. Let cool 10 minutes, and cut into 9 servings. Pair with a soup or salad for a light meal. Or just slather the warm corn bread with butter and knock 'em down.