Sunday, December 25, 2016

Cabbage, Potatoes, and Onions Braised in Corned Beef Stock

Red Cabbage, Golden Potatoes, & Pearl Onions

Developed December, 2016. After steaming a corned beef brisket, a very flavorsome liquid is left that captures the spice, herbs, and meatiness of the beef. This dish exploits this rich liquor to braise the vegetables that complete the meal.
small head of red cabbage, cut into eighths through the poles
1-1/2 lbs (680 g) yellow potatoes (Yukon Golds™, for example), cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
8 oz (225 g) frozen pearl onions, thawed
Bring the steaming liquid reserved from preparing the corned beef to a slow boil. Add the cabbage, potatoes, and water sufficient to cover. Adjust heat to a slow boil and simmer 12 minutes. Add thawed onions. Cook another 6 minutes. With a slotted spoon or spider, move vegetables to a platter and serve with slices of corned beef. Serves four.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Schmaltz (Rendered Chicken Fat)

Recorded December, 2016. Fats and oils differ according to their differing contents of fatty acids. This is why various fats are preferred, such as lard in pie crusts or duck fat for frying potatoes. Chicken fat, often discarded when preparing chicken, can be rendered and reserved. It's fatty acid composition is almost identical to duck fat. It is especially valuable for making matzo balls or pan-roasting potatoes, and as a spread on a bread when dietary laws forbid butter. As you prepare chicken, accumulate and freeze the fatty trimmings until there are enough to do a batch.
8 to 12 oz fat and fatty skin trimmed from chicken
Chop the partially-thawed fat and skin coarsely and tranfer to a cold, non-stick 10-inch skillet. Heat over medium until the fat begins to melt and pool. Lower heat to medium-low, and slowly cook uncovered, turning the pieces of cracklings (gribenes, in Yiddish) as the fat renders out. Pour off the fat into a container from time to time and continue frying. When it appears that no more fat is being released, remove the cracklings to paper towels and salt lightly. Store fat in a closed container on the bottom shelf in the refrigerator. Variation: Fry sliced onions in the fat and use both together in savory dishes.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


A simple recipe for a classic mixed drink using Mexico's two iconic ingredients, limes and tequila, distilled from roasted agave cactus. Prepared in seconds or make ahead. Serves four but can easily be scaled up.
6 oz tequila 
4 oz lime juice
4 oz triple sec
1 oz water
1 oz simple syrup
Mix the ingredients in a 16-ounce measuring cup and use immediately or store cold in a tightly-closed container. Coat the rim of four 9-ounce rocks glasses with lime juice, dip in kosher salt, and let dry. Fill with ice cubes, and pour in a four-ounce serving. Stir and serve. Variations: For a sweeter drink, replace the water with more syrup. For an orange flavor note, replace the triple sec with orange liqueur. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Hint: Use a Tea Ball to Hold Seasonings

Often recipes for soups, braises, sauces, mulled wine, and the like call for potent herbs and spices to be added during cooking, and for their removal before serving. This might include such seasonings as peppercorns, cloves, allspice berries, bay leaves, citrus peel, ginger, etc. A simple way to remove these after cooking is to place them in a tea ball such as the one pictured below. These are available from many sellers online for a modest sum.
Tea Ball (7 cm diameter)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Hint: Keeping Baking Powder Dry

Kitchens are humid, hot environments at times. This is a bad place to store baking powder because moisture in the air quickly kills its leavening power. A simple fix that greatly extends the lifespan of a can of baking powder is to store it along with an open box of baking soda, tightly sealed together in a zip top heavy plastic bag. Excess moisture is absorbed by the baking soda, sparing the baking powder from loss of action. Moisture has no effect on the baking soda, which remains a useful leavening (and alkalizing) agent when combined with the acids in foods such as buttermilk.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Pan Roasted Salmon in a Dill-Mustard-Lemon Sauce

Prepared July, 2016. Our friendly fishmonger let us know that the wild-caught sockeye fillets on offer were fresh, never frozen, air-freighted from the Pacific coast. That fortunate gift from the seas led to this dish.
2 6 to 8-oz salmon filets
2 T olive oil, divided
garlic powder 
1 T butter
2 T dry white wine
1 T coarse Dijon mustard
2 t finely-chopped fresh dill
2 t lemon juice
Remove any pin bones that remain with needle-nose pliers, and scrape off any remaining scales. Rinse and dry the fillet. Cut across the fillet to make individual portions. Oil both sides generously, and season the flesh side only with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Heat a 10-inch stainless steel skillet over medium high, and film the bottom lightly with oil. When oil smokes, add the fillets skin-side down. Saute undisturbed in a moderately hot pan about 6 minutes, adding extra oil if needed to prevent sticking. Lower heat to a simmer, and cover. Cook about 3 to 4 minutes more, testing for firmness by pressing gently with a finger. Carefully transfer to a serving plate. Raise the heat, and add the butter. When melted, deglaze with the wine, stir in the mustard, dill, and lemon juice and heat through. Drizzle the sauce over the fish before serving. Serves 2, but easily doubled using a 12-inch skillet.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Easy Mojito for One

Developed July, 2016. This tall, refreshing cocktail was first mixed in Cuba, where it remains popular. In the original recipe, raw white rum, cane syrup, and yerba buena (apple mint) were used. This recipe is an easy-to-make update using familiar ingredients.
4 to 6 fresh spearmint or yerba buena leaves
1-1/2  oz rum, white or dark
1/2 oz bottled or fresh key lime juice
1-1/2 oz simple syrup
club soda
Place mint and rum together in bottom of tall glass. With a wooden muddler, bruise but don’t tear the mint leaves . Add the lime juice, syrup, and fill with ice. Top with club soda, and stir. Garnish with mint leaves or a lime twist.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Kosher-Style Deli Corned Beef

Developed July, 2016. The usual method of preparing corned beef brisket by simmering for many hours with cabbage, carrots, onions, and potatoes produces a satisfying meal but does not yield a product like the juicy tender meat stacked up on rye bread in a kosher-style corned beef sandwich. What is the delicatessen secret? Very simple, don’t boil, steam!
2 to 3 lb corned beef brisket (point cut is preferred but flat cut is more commonly sold)
spice packet
Remove the meat from its wrapping but do not rinse. Arrange, with the fat cap uppermost, in the insert of a steamer pot or directly on the stainless-steel basket in an improvised steamer. Sprinkle the spices from the enclosed packet evenly on the upper surface. Start the steamer with about a half inch of water, leaving room for the ample fluid that will be released from the meat as it cooks. Adjust the heat to maintain slow steaming, restoring water as needed. Steam 3 hours or until a carving fork penetrates easily. Let cool, covered in steamer. To serve, slice thinly across the grain, removing and discarding the ample fat. Reheat slices in a steamer as needed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Stir-Fried Cauliflower in Lobster Sauce

Developed April, 2005. The sauce contains no lobster but is often used with lobster or crab. Softening the cauliflower in the microwave speeds up cooking.
6 cups cauliflower, broken or cut into bite-size florets
2 T vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced thinly through the poles
3/4 c chicken or vegetable stock
1 t sesame oil
1/2 t mustard powder
1 T dry fermented black beans (dow see, 豆豉)
1 t garlic, finely chopped
1 T soy sauce
1 T rice wine (or dry sherry)
1 t sugar
1 t salt
1 T cornstarch suspended in 2 T water
2 eggs, beaten with 1/4 t salt
Place the florets in a microwavable bowl, mist with water, lightly salt, cover, and microwave on high power for 3 minutes. Soak the dried black beans in water for 10 minutes, drain, and finely chop. Heat a wok over medium-high, add the oil, and when smoking, add the cauliflower. Stir fry for several minutes until cauliflower begins to color, add the onions, and continue frying. When the onions are softened, stir in the stock, black beans, mustard, garlic, soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar. Cover the wok and bring to a boil and stir in the cornstarch slurry. When thickened, drizzle the beaten eggs over the surface, and when eggs set, combine with the sauce. Serve with steamed rice.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Balsamic Vinaigrette for Salad Caprese

Salad Caprese
Developed July, 2016 from internet recipes. This simple salad combines slices of mozzarella and ripe tomatoes, garnished with a chiffonade of basil leaves, perfect as part of a light summer meal. Caprese refers to the isle of Capri.
1 oz balsamic vinegar
1/2 T Dijon mustard
1/2 t mashed garlic
1/4 t salt
1/4 t freshly-ground pepper
3 oz extra-virgin olive oil
Add the first five ingredients to a jar with tight-fitting lid. Shake to disperse, add oil, and shake well to disperse. Drizzle sparingly on the assembled salad. Yields about 1/2 cup. Store unused portion cold. Rewarm to room temperature and shake well before next use.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Baked Fish Veracruz Style

Developed June, 2016. This dish comes together quickly, and turns any mild-flavored fish into a piquant entrée. The ingredients reflect both the influence of native ingredients along with Spanish and Moorish flavors that came to the New World during the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Cortez established Veracruz, now a major port on the Gulf of Mexico, in 1519. Red snapper (huachinango) is traditional but any firm-fleshed, mild fish can be used.
1-1/2 lb fish filets (e.g., red snapper, cod, flounder, tilapia, farmed catfish)

2 T olive oil

1 medium onion, sliced thinly across the grain

1 T minced garlic

1 28-oz can prepared marinara sauce

1/4 c chopped green Spanish olives

2 T raisins

2 T chopped parsley

1 T Mexican oregano

1 t ground cumin

1 large bay leaf

6 large pepperoncini, chopped

2 T brine from pepperoncini

salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 C). Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions until softened, add the garlic, and when fragrant, stir in the marinara sauce, the olives, raisins, oregano, cumin, bay leaf, and parsley. Bring to a fast simmer, cover, and cook 15 minutes. Stir in four of the chopped pepperoncini, the brine and adjust the seasoning. Add a cup of the sauce to a 9”x13” glass baking dish, position the filets in the dish, season well with salt and pepper, and spoon on the remaining sauce. Bake uncovered for 18 to 20 minutes until bubbling and fish flakes easily. Let stand 10 minutes. Garnish the dish with the remaining pepperoncini, and serve with steamed rice. Serves four.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Hot Chinese Mustard

Developed March, 2016.
1 T dry yellow mustard powder
1 t water
1/4 t rice vinegar
1/8 t salt
1/2 t vegetable oil
Stir together mustard powder and water until well combined. After five minutes, stir in the salt and vinegar. Stir in the vegetable oil vigorously until the oil is absorbed. Store covered in the cold. Use sparingly, it’s hot.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Caldo Chicken-Vegetable Soup in a Tomato Broth

First prepared March 7, 2016. A quick and satisfying meal that offers balanced nourishment and flavor.
2 T olive oil
2 T butter
2 lb frozen caldo vegetable mix (corn-on-the-cob nuggets, red potatoes, pearl onions, celery, carrots)
5 cups hot water
1 cup chopped tomato (fresh or frozen)
1 T chicken base
1 t salt
1 t sugar
1 cup shredded cooked chicken breast (e.g., from rotisserie chicken)
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 c coarsely chopped parsley
Heat the oil and butter in a four-quart saucepan. Rinse the frozen vegetables in a mesh strainer under cold, running water for 30 seconds to refresh them, drain well, and add to the hot fat. Cook over moderate heat for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the water, chopped tomatoes, and seasonings, and bring to a gentle boil. Cook covered for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes test done with the tip of a knife. Stir in the cooked chicken, pepper, and parsley. Let stand 10 minutes for flavors to meld. Serves four.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Steak Fajitas

Developed March, 2016 from Internet recipes. Easy, tasty meal that takes very little time to prepare or cook.
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c lime juice
1/4 c vegetable oil
2 T brown sugar, packed
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground black pepper
2 t chili powder
2 t garlic, finely minced
1 lb skirt steak, trimmed of fat and membranes, and cut into two pieces
1 large red bell pepper, trimmed, and cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 medium white onion, cut into 1/2-inch segments through the poles
8 small (or 4 large) flour or corn tortillas, softened in the microwave
Toppings: guacamole, tomato salsa, pico de gallo, sour cream, grated cheese, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, diced chilies, salsa criolla, pickled onions, etc.
Whisk the eight marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Transfer the meat to a large zipper-lock plastic bag, and pour in half the marinade. Squeeze out the air, seal the bag, and turn to cover the meat with marinade. Put the sliced vegetables into another zipper bag with the remaining marinade. Express the air and close the bag. Put both bags on a plate and into the refrigerator. Marinade for 2 hours, turning the  bags after one hour. To roast the vegetables, preheat a heavy 8x8 inch metal pan under the broiler of a toaster oven for 5 minutes. Carefully add the vegetables along with 2 tablespoons of the marinade. Caution, it will sizzle. Roast under broiler for about 8 to 10 minutes, until they are lightly charred and softened. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover and set aside. Prepare a charcoal grill with a very hot flame. Wipe the meat dry with paper towels, and place each piece directly over the flame. Cook two to three minutes to get a good char, and then turn it over to complete the cooking, about two minutes more. Do not overcook. Tent to keep warm. Slice thinly across the grain. Serves three to four.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Developed February, 2016. This tasty spread of chickpeas and sesame has nourished millions over the millennia. Those two foodstuffs were among the earliest crops raised by early people of the Fertile Crescent, and remain tasty, nourishing, and versatile food over wide parts of the globe to the present day.
8 oz dry chickpeas
1/2 t baking soda
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 c tahini (sesame paste)
1/3 c lemon juice
1 t ground cumin
1⁄2 t salt
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
Rinse the dry chickpeas in a colander, transfer to a bowl, cover with water, add baking soda, and soak for 10 to 12 hours, stirring occasionally. Rinse well, drain, transfer to a three-quart saucepan, cover with water, bring to a fast simmer. Cook gently, covered, for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check for doneness by squeezing a pea. If it breaks easily and is not gritty, they are done. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid and transfer peas to a food processor. Add sufficient liquid to blend. Blend until smooth, about four minutes on low speed. Add salt, garlic, tahini, cumin, and lemon juice with the processor running on low speed. Increase speed to high, and blend until creamy, adding cooking liquid as needed. Adjust the seasoning, and stir in the oil. As the hummus it cools, it will thicken, so aim for the runny side while it’s warm. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator. Yields about 28 ounces.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Laura's Italian Wedding Soup

Lacinato kale (source: Park Seed)
Developed January, 2016 by Laura on a cold winter day. Comes together quickly using frozen meatballs. Lacinato kale (also known as Italian or black kale) has been cultivated since Roman times. It gives Italian soups such as this and minestrone their special character. Its sturdy texture stands up to cooking.
4 T olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
1 large scallion, chopped
2 large carrots, cubed
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 T garlic, minced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch of Lacinato kale, rinsed, stems removed, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 t dry oregano
1 t dry thyme
2 bay leaves
6 c chicken stock
4 oz small pasta, uncooked
1 lb frozen cooked meatballs, homemade or commercial
salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste
Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy Dutch oven. Add the onion, scallion, carrot, celery and garlic, and a teaspoon of salt. Cover, lower heat, and sweat until they soften, about six minutes. Add the mushrooms, oregano, and thyme, and continue cooking a few minutes more. Stir in the stock, bay leaves, and meatballs. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, stir in the kale. Cook five minutes. Add the pasta, and cook until the kale is tender and the pasta is al dente, 7 to 10 minutes more. Adjust seasoning. Serves six as a main course. Pair with crusty bread.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Guacamole II

Guacamole literally means 'avocado sauce'. This recipe is adapted from Ben's recipe for kitchens that lack a molcajete, the lava rock mortar and pestle used traditionally to prepare Mexican sauces (moles, from Nahuatl mōlli). Boost the heat by including more jalapeño.
2 large ripe Haas avocados
2 T lime juice, divided
2 t minced garlic
1/2 to 1 jalepeño pepper, seeds and membranes removed, finely diced
2 t ground cumin
1 fistful cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/4 c red onion, finely chopped
1 medium ripe tomato, seeded, chopped and drained well
salt to taste
Halve avocados, remove pit and scoop out flesh. Place it in a bowl, immediately moisten with a tablespoon of lime juice, mash lightly with a fork, leaving big chunks, and mix. Add the cumin, jalepeño, cilantro and garlic. Season with salt and residual lime juice to taste. Stir in the onions and tomatoes. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, pressing to contact the dip, and refrigerate. Best if eaten the following day, but it can be served immediately. Serve with tortilla chips, corn chips, or as a side with Mexican dishes. Serves 4 to 6.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Raspberry Hot Cocoa

This version of a winter-time favorite relies on pantry ingredients and was inspired by the blizzard of 2016. It combines two complementary flavors, chocolate and raspberry, in a hot beverage.
3 T raspberry syrup (available at Mediterranean markets)
1 T Dutch-process cocoa (Hershey's™ is good)
1/2 t tapioca or corn starch
pinch salt
1 T hot water
7 oz hot milk
Mix syrup, cocoa, starch, and salt in a microwavable mug. Stir in hot water. Microwave on high until just boils, and set aside. Heat the milk in the microwave or stovetop to steaming, and stir into the cocoa mixture. Serves one.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Quick and Easy Filling for Cheese Blintzes

Blintzes are thin pancakes or crêpes filled with a savory or sweet mixture, folded, and then slowly fried in butter or another fat. Cheese mixtures are popular, but often call for a dry, fresh cheese called 'farmer cheese' that is often unavailable in local stores. This recipe, which takes only a few minutes to make, relies instead on the widely available product, large-curd cottage cheese.
3-1/2 oz (100 g) large-curd cottage cheese (cream style)
1/4 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1 t sugar
Place a small, wire-mesh strainer over a small bowl. Add the cottage cheese, and with the back of a spoon, press the cheese through the strainer, stopping to scrape the cheese from the backside of the strainer into the bowl. Continue to press the cheese through until not much remains. Add this remainder and the seasonings to the bowl and stir until smoothly combined. Fills two pancakes. Variation: Top each serving with fresh berry sauce.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Quick and Easy Crab-Spinach Crêpe

Developed January, 2016. A dish for a special brunch that comes together quickly using commercial crab, spinach, and Hollandaise. The pancakes are a snap to make and can be kept for days in the refrigerator or months in the freezer.
100 g cooked crab meat
150 g frozen creamed spinach
4 crêpes
1 T butter
1/2 t Old Bay seasoning
2 T seafood or chicken stock
4 t prepared Hollandaise sauce (Trader Joe)
In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the Old Bay, and after 30 seconds, the crab and the stock. Warm through gently, and set aside in a bowl. Heat the spinach in the microwave. Place a crepe on a plate, arrange a quarter of the crab in the center, spoon on a quarter of the spinach, top with a teaspoon of Hollandaise sauce, and fold over by thirds. Present seam side down. Makes four crêpes.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Huevo Ranchero Rápidamente al Vapor (Steamed Rancher-Style Egg Pronto!)

Huevo Ranchero with Flour Tortilla
Developed Jan 4, 2016. Makes one serving in about 8 minutes cooking time.
60 g (2 oz) prepared tomato salsa (medium)
1 large egg
cooking spray
1 green onion, thinly sliced 
1 flour or corn tortilla
Prepare a steamer and bring to a boil. Treat a 250 ml (8 oz) glass bowl with cooking spray. Add the salsa, and place in steamer. After four minutes, remove the cover carefully, make a depression in the hot salsa, and crack the egg into the hollow, careful to keep the yolk intact. Sprinkle on the onions, replace the cover, and steam for four to six minutes more, until the egg is poached. Remove and let stand loosely covered for a few minutes to cool and finish cooking. Loosen the food around the edge with a spoon and slide the serving onto to a small plate, paired with the tortilla, briefly steamed and folded. Serves one. Variation: Substitute a tablespoon of savory cheese such as queso cotija or cheddar for the green onion.

Improvised Steamer for Plates and Shallow Bowls

Folding Steamer Basket with Handle Removed
Recorded January, 2016. Used for decades in our kitchen to prepare dim sum appetizers, fish, seafood, meat, vegetables, hard-cooked eggs, and even huevos rancheros. Steaming offers many advantages: Hands off cooking, no risk of drying out or burning the food, energy efficiency, retains juices and nutrients. Bowl lifters are available online for a modest sum. They make handling hot plates much safer and secure. 
10 inch sauté pan with tight-fitting cover
Stainless Steel Collapsible Steamer Basket (available online or in specialty stores)
Add water to a depth of 2 cm (3/4 inch), remove handle from basket, spread open in the pan, and cover. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Carefully place a plate or shallow bowl with food on it, and replace the cover. Lower heat to medium to maintain good steaming. Most dishes require 8 or more minutes. To safely remove a dish, lift the cover toward you so steam will vent away from the cook, and set aside. Using a spatula, tongs, or bowl lifter, carefully remove the plate or bowl and serve.