Monday, December 1, 2014

Fish and Grits

Fish and Grits for One
Created December, 2014. Inspired by a breakfast dish served in a local's favorite breakfast spot on US-17 in Pawley Island, SC. They presented local fried flounder with a side of grits. This dish adds a sauce usually reserved for shrimp and grits.
1 T (15 ml) butter
1 T (15 ml) olive oil plus additional
1/2 c (125 ml) sliced mushrooms
1/4 c (60 ml) sliced green onions
1 T (15 ml) bacon crumbles, divided
3.5 oz (100 g) catfish filets (or other firm white fish), cut into shrimp-sized pieces
salt and pepper
1/2 t (5 ml) minced garlic
1/2 c (125 ml) chicken or seafood stock
1 T (15 ml) lemon juice
1/4 t (2 ml) Louisiana red pepper sauce
4 oz (125 g) cheese grits or savory grits
Arrange the fish on a plate, season well with salt and pepper, and dust heavily with flour.     [Hint: A shaker jar filled with all-purpose flour is a handy cooking aid.] Mix to cover well, adding more flour until the fish no longer feels moist. Heat the butter and oil in a heavy 10-inch skillet, and saute the mushrooms for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add the green onions and half the bacon crumbles. Continue cooking about two minutes, adding more oil as needed. When sizzling hot, add the breaded fish pieces and garlic. Cook on one side for 2 to 3 minutes and turn to cook other side. When browned add the stock, lemon juice, and hot sauce. Heat for another two minutes, tossing gently, until the fish is cooked and the sauce has thickened. Serve over warm grits, garnish with the remaining bacon. Serves one.

Pear-Raspberry Salad

Raspberries are available year-round, and bring a lot to a fresh fruit salad. The fruit dressing bolsters the fruit flavor. About 22 grams of carbohydrate and 5 grams of fiber per serving.
1 medium bosc pear, peeled, quartered, cored, and cut into bite-size pieces
3 oz fresh raspberries
1 T sugar
1 T water
2 T berry sauce
Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Mix gently. Chill. Mix again. Serves 2.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Quick Peanut-Maple Topping

Add more nuts to your diet this tasty way. A great topping, at breakfast, over pancakes or waffles, or dessert over ice cream or crêpes. First prepared November, 2014. We use a small stoneware server to make this. It heats quickly and holds the heat. Total carbohydrates = 19.5 grams per serving.
1 T (15 ml) maple syrup
2 T (30 ml) peanut butter
1 t (5 ml) butter
Combine ingredients in a small, microwaveable container such as a ceramic vessel. Some peanut butters benefit from a pinch of salt. Heat on high power for 15 seconds. Stir to combine well. Heat cautiously to serving temperature. Low water recipes such as this heat very quickly in the microwave. Serves one.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Okra Stew

At a recent late-Summer trip to experience the harvest bounty at the huge State Farmers Market in Raleigh, we spotted tiny pods of okra harvested that morning, moist with promise. We bought a pound of those beauties. The rest was from the pantry.
1 c (150 g) sweet red peppers, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely diced
1 lb (500 g) young okra pods, trimmed and cut into rounds
1 14.5 oz (425 ml) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes (Muir's™ is good)
vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a sauce pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until smoking. Add the peppers and fry quickly until nicely colored, stirring as needed. Add more oil and the onions and okra. When the onions soften, add the tomatoes with their juice. Add salt. Bring to a fast simmer and cook until the okra is just tender. Do not overcook. Adjust seasoning. Serves six.

Pico de Gallo

Serrano Chiles (Stock Photo)
Recorded June, 2013. This fresh salsa is called ‘Pico de Gallo’ (beak of the rooster) because the serrano pepper is fancifully likened to a rooster's beak. Serrano peppers are noticeably hotter than jalepeños.
1 lb ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 c white onion, finely minced
1/2 c sweet red pepper, finely minced
1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, seeds and membrane removed, finely minced
1/4 c finely chopped cilantro
1 to 2 t garlic, finely minced
2 T lime juice
1 t salt
Combine the ingredients in a bowl and gently mix. After chilling for an hour or two, adjust the lime juice and salt. If too tart, add a bit of sugar. Keeps well in the refrigerator. Great side dish for many Mexican meals.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Kosher-Style Dills

Developed October, 2014. Kosher style method for pickling cucumbers or green tomatoes. No vinegar is used in the Kosher-style method, and iodide-free salt is necessary. The vegetables are packed in a light brine, about the same saltiness as the ocean, 3.5%). This encourages the growth of wild yeasts and bacteria that form organic acids that, along with the salt, cure and preserve the vegetables.
1 liter (1 qt) water
50 ml (35 g or 3 T + 1 t) Kosher or pickling salt
Put a 250 ml (1 cup) water into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil, dissolve the salt, and stir in the remaining water. Cover and set aside to cool. 
Spice Mixture (close up)
Pickling Spice Mixture
1/4 t crushed red pepper
1/2 t celery seeds
1 t brown mustard seeds
1 t coriander seeds
2 t dill weed (or fresh dill seed heads if available)
1/4 t allspice berries
1 t fennel seed
1/2 t black peppercorns
1 t bay leaf, torn into small pieces
4  garlic cloves, peeled
Add the spices, except the garlic, to a small bowl, and rub them together with your fingers to release the essential oils.

Packing the vegetables
Choose sound fruit for pickling. Rinse in several changes of water, and drain. Split cucumbers in half lengthwise for faster curing or keep whole. Green tomatoes should be halved or quartered. Wash and rinse the jars thoroughly and use new lids and bands. To sanitize the jars, use a microwave to boil water in the jars, or dip them in boiling water. Turn upside down to drain on a clean towel. When cool, add 2 to 3 T of spice mixture to the jar, along with the garlic cloves. Pack the jar as full as possible, and cover with brine. All the vegetables must be in the brine or they spoil. Loosely cover, and place into a cool, dark place for the fermentation process to occur. Since jars may overflow, keep them on a paper-lined tray. Inspect daily for bubbling, a sign of fermentation. When fermentation slows, usually after about a week or two, depending on temperature, top up with fresh brine if needed, cap tightly, and refrigerate.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Upscale Scrambled Eggs

Developed October, 2014. Refined technique turns a simple dish into a special treat.
2 fresh large eggs (Hint: Choose a package with the most distant ‘Use By’ date.)
1 oz (60 ml) milk or light cream
1 t (5 ml) butter, finely diced
1/8 t (0.5 ml) salt
Crack the eggs into a small bowl, add the dairy, and whisk very well until frothy. Pass the egg mixture into another bowl through a fine sieve, to retain any solids. Stir in salt and butter. Preheat a heavy 8-inch (about 20 cm) non-stick skillet over medium heat until thoroughly heated, filming the pan with a bit of oil or butter. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and cook undisturbed until it begins to firm up around the edges. Gently pull the eggs from the edges toward the center and tilt the pan so the liquid egg fills that space. Continue until the eggs are softly set but not firm, about 2 minutes. They will continue to cook after plating. Serves one, but easily doubled. Buttered challah toast makes a perfect side; if desired, add a patty of pork sausage or quick and easy home fries on the side.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Salsa Criolla

Developed September, 2014. Criolla is Spanish for a South American woman of European ancestry. This dish is broadly popular in Peru as a savory side for many dishes. This version is our interpretation of the dish as experienced in a local Peruvian restaurant, Mî Peru.
200 g (1 medium) red onion, thinly sliced through the poles
40 ml lime juice
20 ml red wine vinegar
10 g cilantro, finely chopped
5 g salt
Soak the sliced onions for 10 minutes in cold, salted water. Drain thoroughly, and add to a bowl. Add the other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Chill before serving. Pairs well with any rich dish such as risotto, roast beef, pork, or chicken.

Monday, September 8, 2014


Recorded Sept, 2014. Thin slices of crusty bread are brought to new purpose with heat, olive oil, and garlic.
100 g of baguette or similar loaf, cut into 1 cm crosswise slices.
20 ml olive oil, divided
2 ml granulated garlic
2 ml salt
Heat half the oil in a heavy 25 cm skillet over medium-high until it shimmers. Using tongs, dip each slice into oil on both sides and arrange in skillet. Sprinkle salt and garlic on top. When toasting progresses, flip each piece, adding more oil and seasoning. Continue grilling and turning until well colored on both sides. Serves two. Use in spicy stews, soups, dinner salads, vegetable compotes, or as a place to spread tomato salsas, hummus, olive salad, or to top soups or dinner salads.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lemonade for One, Pronto

Quick path to a refreshing drink. Freshly-squeezed juice is best, but bottled juice is convenient. Keep simple syrup on hand in the refrigerator for use in summer drinks.
1 oz (30 ml) lemon juice (about half a large lemon)
2 oz (60 ml) simple syrup
8 oz (250 ml) cold tap water 
ice cubes
Fill a large glass half full with ice cubes. To increase the yield of juice, heat the lemon in the microwave oven for about 20 seconds. When cool, cut in half through the equator. Alternatively, roll the lemon back and forth vigorously on a firm surface. Squeeze the juice into the glass, add the syrup, water, and enough additional ice to fill the glass, and stir. Serves one. Easily doubles, or make another for yourself.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fish Steamed in Ground Bean Sauce, Scallions, and Ginger, Chinese style

First prepared in Seattle, 1968, from a recipe book published by a Victoria, BC grocery. Steaming is a traditional method in Chinese cuisine. Its many virtues include fuel economy, protection from drying and over-cooking, speed, and conserving nutrients. Any Asian grocery stocks (in jars or cans) ground (brown) bean sauce. It is salty and savory but not spicy.
12 oz fish filets (flounder, tilapia, catfish, pollock, cod, or similar fish)
1/4 c (60 ml) ground (brown) bean sauce
4 to 6 scallions (green onions), cut in half lengthwise
2 t ginger root, peeled and finely diced
Arrange the fish in a single layer in a dish with deep sides to capture the flavorsome juices formed during cooking. Spread the bean sauce, and distribute the scallions and ginger artfully. Steam for 15 to 25 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets. Serve with steamed rice, topping each serving with the pan liquor and the aromatic vegetables. Serves four, as part of a family-style meal.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower in Tahini

Developed July, 2014. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness and eliminates the cabbage smell. The robust flavor of the dish best complements hearty entrees.
2 to 3 c fresh cauliflower florets, cut into bite-size pieces
2 to 3 T olive oil
2 t soy sauce
2 t dark sesame oil
1 t salt
1 t sugar
2 T tahini
Preheat a toaster oven to 425 degrees F (220 C). Gently combine all the ingredients, except the tahini, in an 8x8 inch (20x20 cm) metal roasting pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, and roast 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cautiously remove the foil, stir to mix, and return to oven uncovered for an additional 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and toss with the tahini, and adjust seasoning.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Quick and Easy Tortellini in Basil Pesto

Prepared May, 2014. In a recent tasting study, America’s Test Kitchen decided that a shelf-stable product by the leading Italian pasta maker got highest marks. Marrying this product with a prepared pesto sauce yields a delicious meal quickly.
3 oz (85 g) Three-Cheese Tortellini (Barilla™ is recommended)
2 oz (56 g) basil pesto sauce (Kirkland™)
grated Parmesan cheese as desired
Bring a quart (liter) of salted water to a rapid boil in a sauce pan. Stir in the tortellini, lower the heat to a fast simmer, and cook uncovered 11 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta in a collander, letting the hot water fill a serving bowl to heat it. move the colander, dump the water carefully, add the pesto to warm briefly, and then the drained pasta. Toss gently, plate and top with cheese. Serves one, but scales up to 4 servings easily.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Steamed Littleneck Clams

Developed May, 2014.  The availability of fresh littlenecks from nearby Virginia waters inspired this recipe. "Littleneck" derives from the name of the estuary where they were farmed, not because these clams have 'little necks'. Clams have no necks. 
about 20 littleneck clams
1/2 c water
1/2 c dry white wine
1/2 c parsley, whole
1 t salt
2 T olive oil
1 t minced garlic
Rinse the clams briefly under running cold water, checking for grit. Discard any open clams that don’t close when squeezed. Prepare the steaming liquid by heating all the ingredients except the clams to boiling in a 10-inch skillet. Cook at a slow boil until half the volume remains. Discard the parsley and add the clams. Raise the heat to boiling and cover. Steam over medium heat for 5 minutes. Discard any unopened clams. Add the stock and clams to another dish, or serve in bowls as an appetizer, topped with a drizzle of olive oil with warm crusty bread to sop up the delicious stock.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Crispy Toaster-Oven Frites

Developed November, 2013. The method combines tapioca starch and coarse semolina flour to produce a crispy fry in the toaster oven from scratch. Almost as good as bistro frites. Almost.
1 medium russet potato (about 6 oz), cut into 1/4 inch square strips
1 T vegetable oil
2 t tapioca starch
2 T semolina flour (coarse grind)
1/2 t salt
1/2 t onion powder
Choose a long, clear russet potato. To prepare raw fries, cut off a small slice from both ends, and then trim a small slab with a chef’s knife off one side. Turn the potato onto that cut surface to steady it, and trim off the next face, and then the next two in turn. Cutting in the long direction, slice the potato into 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick slabs, and then into 1/4 inch wide strips. Rinse, drain, and thoroughly blot dry before use. Transfer the potatoes to a non-stick 8X8-inch (20x20 cm) metal baking pan, add the other ingredients and toss well to coat evenly. Preheat a toaster oven to 425 degrees F (220 C). Bake 15 minutes, turn the potatoes over, and bake another 10 minutes until cooked through and crisp. Serves one or two. Can be easily doubled. Variations: Top a hamburger sandwich with a few crispy fries to add crunch and flavor, or add to a breakfast wrap, serve as a hot appetizer with a side of spicy mayonnaise or remoulade.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Breakfast Quesadillas

Developed March 12, 2014. Ready in less than 15 minutes, a warm breakfast dish or as party appetizers. 
3 oz sweet peppers, coarsely chopped 
2 t olive or vegetable oil 
2 oz red onion, coarsely chopped 
2 oz ham, shredded 
2 oz shredded quesadilla cheese
pinch crushed red pepper 
4 6-inch flour tortillas, softened briefly in the microwave 
tomato salsa
Heat a dry non-stick skillet over medium high, and add the sweet peppers. Toast with frequent turning until lightly browned and fragrant. Add the oil and the onions. When softened, stir in the ham and hot pepper, and warm through. Set aside in a bowl. Wipe out the pan. As it reheats, spoon one-quarter of the warm filling in the center of a tortilla and top with a tablespoon of cheese. With the back of a large knife, push the filling past the midline, and fold over the tortilla. Press to compact. Bake each foldover in the dry hot skillet until toasted, turn, and finish baking. Cut into points and serve with tomato salsa on the side. Serves two.

Arroz con Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding)

Developed March 12, 2014. Every Hispanic family has its own recipe for this basic comfort food beloved around the planet, a milk pudding thickened with rice. Here, fragrant with orange zest and cinnamon, the natural sugars of golden raisins and milk provide most of the sweetness. Makes a nourishing breakfast dish for lighter appetites, offering a sound balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. As a bonus, no eggs!
1/2 c (100 g) medium-grain (Morelos) rice  (350 cal)
9 oz (250 g) water
1/4 t salt
1 whole piece stick cinnamon
3 pieces of orange zest (cut with a vegetable peeler)
2-1/4 c (500 g) whole or 2% milk (do not use skim), (550 cal), divided
1/3 c golden raisins (165 cal)
2 T (25 g) sugar  (100 cal)
1 t vanilla extract 

ground cinnamon (garnish)
In a medium saucepan, bring the rice, water, cinnamon stick, orange zest, and salt to a slow boil. Cook, with frequent stirring, until water is almost completely absorbed. Remove  zest, and stir in milk (reserving 1/2 cup), raisins, and sugar. Return to a gentle boil, and, with frequent stirring to prevent burning, cook for about 12 minutes until the pudding is quite thick. Remove cinnamon, cover, and let cool 30 minutes off heat. Stir in the reserved milk and the vanilla extract. Serve warm, dusted with cinnamon as a garnish. Serves 8. About 150 calories for a 4-ounce serving.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Walnut-Crusted Maple French Toast

Walnut-Crusted French Toast
Developed January, 2014. Delicious flavor, custardy interior, crisp exterior and more nuts!
1 egg
1/3 c half and half
2 t maple syrup
pinch of salt
2 slices hearty white bread (Arnold’s™ Country White is good)
4 t ground roasted walnuts, almonds, or pistachios
1 t vegetable oil
1 t butter
In a shallow bowl, beat the egg well, and stir in syrup, cream, and salt until well-mixed. Cut each slice in half. Heat the oil in a 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat until shimmering, then add the butter. When bubbling has stopped, soak each piece of bread thoroughly on both sides in the egg mixture, and add to the pan. After the bread has been added, spread a teaspoon of ground nuts on the top of each piece, and press with the back of fork so they will stick to the egg. Fry about 3 minutes until lightly browned and then lower heat, flip, and fry another 2 minutes until lightly toasted. Serves one or two. Easily doubled using a griddle or large skillet.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Asian Dipping Sauce II

Developed February, 2014. Complements steamed buns, dumplings, shu mei, pot stickers, and similar dim sum items.
1/4 c soy sauce (Kikkoman™ is good)
1/4 c water
1/4 t fish sauce
1 t sugar
1 t rice vinegar
1 t Chinese rice wine
1 t dark sesame oil
Pour ingredients through a funnel into a small bottle with a tight-fitting cap. Stir and shake well until sugar is dissolved and oil is incorporated. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator. Lasts many months. Shake well before use.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Red Bliss Potato Salad with Crispy Bacon

Developed January, 2014. Modified from an Emeril Lagasse recipe. Pairs nicely with kielbasa or roast pork.
1 lb red bliss potatoes, about 1-1/2 inches diameter
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 c red onion, short shreds
1/4 c red bell pepper, diced
1 T minced garlic
3 to 4 T red wine vinegar, to taste
3 slices toaster-oven bacon, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
Clean the potatoes, transfer to a saucepan, cover with water by 1 inch, add a tablespoon of salt and bring to a gentle boil. Cook until the potatoes are easily pierced by a paring knife, about 15 minutes. Drain and cool on a clean towel. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the olive oil in saute pan, add the pepper and onion and salt lightly. When softened and lightly colored, add the garlic and sauté another 30 seconds. Take off heat. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, quarter them and place in a serving bowl. Toss with the vegetables and oil, season to taste with vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss with the bacon and parsley. Serve warm.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Baked Oatmeal

Recorded January 4, 2014. Adapted by Laura from an online recipe. Prepared many times. A Family Favorite. Can be prepared the night before and reheated for breakfast.
1/3 c butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
3/4 c brown sugar
1-1/2 t baking powder
2 eating apples, cored, peeled, and coarsely chopped
1/3 c raisins
1/4 c pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
1-1/2 t vanilla
2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
2 c milk
3 c rolled oats
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 C). In a large bowl, beat eggs well. Stir in the sugar, baking powder, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk in the butter, then the milk, stir in the oats, followed by the fruits and nuts, mixing well after each addition. Spread the mixture in a well-greased 9x13 inch glass baking dish (1-1/2 liter), and bake for 35 to 45 minutes until set in the middle. Serve warm, topped with a plump pillow of low-fat vanilla yogurt or with warm cream or milk. Keeps well, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator. Variation Substitute fresh blueberries for raisins, or fresh peaches for apples. Serves 8.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Chopped Chicken Liver

This dish has been prepared in DrDaddy’s family for four generations for special holidays. Use schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) to conform with Kosher law. This recipe was transcribed Jan 1, 2014 based on phone conversations with sister Phyllis Pliskow, describing how mother Dorothy Magid and grandmother Rose Raphael Samuels prepared it.
1 lb chicken livers, trimmed of membranes and fat, rinsed, and patted dry
7 c yellow onions, peeled, halved and sliced longitudinally through the poles
2 sticks butter (or 1 c rendered chicken fat)
5 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and cooled
Lawry’s™ Seasoned Salt
freshly-ground black pepper
granulated garlic
In a large skillet over medium heat melt 1 stick butter or 1/2 c schmaltz. Add 5 cups onions to the hot fat. Season well and slowly cook until nicely caramelized, about 1 hour. Set aside to cool. While the onions are caramelizing, in another skillet, melt the other stick of butter or schmaltz, add 2 cups of onions, and fry slowly until soft and lightly colored. Add the prepared livers, season well, and fry slowly until cooked but not hard. Discard the onions used to flavor the chicken livers. Set livers aside to cool. Set up a meat grinder, and process some of the caramelized onions through the grinder into a large bowl, then process some of the livers, and then an egg. Repeat until all the ingredients have been ground except reserve one egg for garnish. Fold the liver, onion, egg together gently, and correct the seasoning. Press flat and top with the reserved chopped egg as a garnish. Chill before serving with crackers or bread.

Nut Butter Sandwich on French Toast

 Created January 2, 2014. Another tasty way to eat more nuts.
1 oz peanut butter
1 oz ground toasted walnuts
1/2 T maple syrup
1 t vegetable oil
1 large slice Easy French Toast, cut in half
Add the peanut butter and walnuts to a small bowl, and soften in the microwave. Stir in the syrup, and heat until bubbling in the microwave, about 1 minute. Carefully set aside to cool; the filling will be hot. In a nonstick skillet, reheat the French toast in vegetable oil until crisp on both sides. Spread the nut mixture between the French toast slices. Serve with knife and fork. Serves one but is easily doubled.