Monday, December 19, 2011

Praline Cookies

Praline Cookies

Another recipe from my grandmother's kitchen. Interestingly enough, it's written by my mother. Also, I nearly ruined the first batch of cookies because the time to cook on the handwritten recipe is about two times too long!

First, your ingredients:

The Ingredients

Combine sugar, eggs, and melted butter.

Combine sugar, eggs, & melted butter

Mix well.

Mix well

Add 1 1/2 cups flour, slowly.

Add 1 1/2 cups flour

Add flour in parts

Add vanilla and pecan. Mix well.

Add vanilla & pecans

Drop by tablespoon on cookie sheet. Only drop 9 at a time.

Drop by TBSP on cookie sheet - 9 only

Bake 12 - 15 minutes. Cool. The cookies will be very crisp!

Bake 12 - 15 minutes

Praline Cookies

2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine brown sugar, eggs, and melted butter. Add each and mix well: flour, vanilla, and pecans. Drop by tablespoon on parchment lined cookie sheet. Place 9 at a time as the cookie will spread. Bake 12 - 15 minutes. Cool. Cookies will be very crisp. Yield: about 4 dozen

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Coconut Macaroons

While scanning recipes from my Grandmother's kitchen, I found a handwritten recipe for Coconut Macaroons. I'm ALWAYS on the look out for a better macaroon recipe. This one, though, is more like coconut meringues. Still a very tasty treat!

Here is what you need.

The ingredients

First, separate the eggs and beat the whites stiff. You will not be using the yolks in this recipe, but they make fantastic French Toast.

2 Egg Whites, beaten stiff

Fold in one cup of sugar, slowly.

Fold in 1 cup granulated sugar, slowly

Fold in two cups of rice flakes cereal, one-half cup coconut flakes, and one-half teaspoon vanilla.

Add 2 cups rice flakes cereal and 1/2 cup coconut

Add 1/2 tsp vanilla, stir gently.

Drop onto a lightly oiled (or parchment paper covered) cookie sheet by the tablespoon full.

Drop by the tbsp full

Bake 17 to 22 minutes at 325° F. Cool until set.

Bake @ 325 for 17 - 22 minutes

Coconut Macaroons

2 egg whites
dash of salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups rice flakes cereal (I used Special K)
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325°F. Separate the eggs. Discard or set aside the yolks for another recipe. Beat the egg whites with dash of salt until stiff. Fold in the sugar, slowly. Repeat with the cereal, coconut, and vanilla. Drop onto a lightly oiled (or parchment paper covered) cookie sheet by the tablespoon full. Bake 17 to 22 minutes at 325° F. Cool until set (about 5 minutes). Yield: 18-24 cookies

Friday, December 09, 2011

Slow Cooker Potato Soup

I used the recipe from Budget Bytes ($5.87 recipe / $0.73 serving).

1 medium yellow onion
2 stalks celery
2 medium carrots
1 Tbsp minced garlic
3 lbs. potatoes
2 Tbsp chicken base
6 cups water
1/4 tsp cracked pepper
2 cups milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt

STEP 1: Finely dice the celery and onion. Peel the carrots and then grate them on a cheese grater. Mince the garlic or use pre-minced from a jar. Add all of this to the slow cooker. Clean the potatoes well, cut into one inch cubes or smaller, and add them to the slow cooker.

STEP 2: Prepare 6 cups of chicken broth by dissolving the chicken base in 6 cups of water (or use homemade or store bought broth). Add to the slow cooker. Add some freshly cracked black pepper (about a 1/4 tsp). Secure the lid on the cooker and cook on high for approximately 8 hours (give or take an hour).

STEP 3: Open the slow cooker and test the potatoes for tenderness. They should be very soft. The onions and celery should also be very soft and transparent. Whisk 1/4 cup of flour into 2 cups of milk and then stir that mixture into the soup. Secure the lid once more and let cook on high for another 30 minutes.

STEP 4: After 30 minutes, the soup should once again be bubbling. It needs to be bubbling for the flour to have it's full thickening power. Use a potato masher, immersion blender, or a hand mixer to "mash" the potatoes. Or, you can transfer half of the soup to a blender and puree (be careful, it's HOT) until smooth and then stir it back in to the rest. Taste the soup and add salt as needed (about one teaspoon). Serve hot.

Above is exactly as Beth has it written. Now, here's what I did (i.e. what you should not do):

STEP 1: Food process the celery, onion, and one giant carrot. While this is ok, the giant carrot is not. Stick to 2 medium carrots or 1/2 a giant carrot. Add the mirepoix to the slow cooker. Add jarred minced garlic. Jarred minced garlic is my friend! If you are a garlic snob or like to mince tiny objects, be my guest. Clean and cut the potatoes as directed above. Add to the slow cooker.

STEP 2: Follow the above steps using homemade broth. Only the day before, make chicken broth and freeze it until solid in a 2-quart plastic pitcher. Forget to set the pitcher in the fridge in the morning. Say foul word while digging at the broth in the pitcher. Be brilliant and run hot water over pitcher sides until broth can slip free. Dump frozen broth in slow cooker.

Realize that this will NOT work, dig out largest bowl in kitchen, spoon potatoes and mirepoix into bowl. Settle frozen chunk of brothy goodness into bottom of slow cooker. Dump potatoes and mirepoix into slow cooker, onto self, and counter. Scoop escaped ingredients back into slow cooker. Set cooker on high. Cook for 1 hour, check frozen broth. Break apart with fork. Cook for remaining 7ish hours.

STEP 3: Test potatoes for tenderness. Stir a little. Burn hand with hot broth. Follow remaining directions above.

STEP 3a: Decide to boil remainder of 5 lb bag of potatoes to add to soup. Set up dutch oven with water, salt, and chopped potatoes. When done, add potatoes to slow cooker. Watch in horror as liquid level rises and nothing bubbles. Dump potato water from dutch oven. Scoop off about 4 cups liquid from slow cooker into dutch oven. Set stove to high and ignore until boiling over. Burn self again while saving broth. Clean up mess.

STEP 4: After about 1 hour, give up seeing broth thicken. Scoop potatoes (about half) into food processor. Hit that pulse button, baby! Instant mashed potatoes. Add broth until liquidy. Dump into dutch oven. Decide to scoop remaining potatoes into food processor. This is a bad idea. Consider that potatoes are starch and starch loves soaking up liquid. Here is where you DO NOT want to do what I did. If you REALLY want all the potatoes mashed, just fork mash the whole thing. You will avoid the following frustration.

STEP 5: An entirely NEW step! Scoop all of the mashed potatoes/soup into slow cooker. Rearrange fridge to fit slow cooker insert. Go to work. Come home. Scoop about 4 cups of mashed potato soup into dutch oven. Heat. Remember to turn on high so that the molten potatoes will bubble up onto your hands and arms (do I every learn?) as you race to turn down the heat. Realize that your "soup" is now in fact mash potatoes. Break out the carton of broth -- because the last of your homemade stuff is still frozen, of course -- and start adding until you get the right consistency. Recognize that your soup is never really ever going to be soup because those potatoes are broth sucking fiends now.

This is actually very tasty and super simple to make. I just like making my life difficult. It adds excitement...and burns.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Crema de Flores de Calabaza

Golden Squash Blossom Soup Crema

The original is in Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen

1-1/2 Tbs. butter
1 large white onion, chopped into
1/4-in. dice
3 cups good chicken broth
1 small boiling potato (like a red skin variety), peeled and roughly chopped  [I used a sweet potato]
25 large, fresh squash blossoms (3-in. to 4-in. male blossoms)
2 poblano chiles
1 cup milk
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1?4-in. pieces
Kernels from 1 large ear of corn
1/2 cup heavy cream or crème fraîche
1-1/2 tsp. salt
*Epazote or parsley for garnish
6 servings

The broth: In a 4-quart soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly brown, about 5 minutes. Scoop out half of the onion and set aside. Add the broth and potato, partially cover, and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.

The blossoms: While the broth is simmering, clean the squash blossoms: break off the stems, then the little green sepals that come out from the base of the blossoms (they originally covered the buds). Use your fingers to break loose the long pistils in the center of each flower and discard. With a very sharp knife, cut the blossoms cross-wise into 1/4-inch strips, including the bulbous base.

Add half the blossoms to the broth and simmer 3 minutes. In a food processor or in batches in a loosely covered blender (or using an immersion blender), puree the mixture; return to the pot.

The chiles: Roast the chiles directly over the gas flame, on a medium-hot gas grill, or 4 inches below a very hot broiler. Turn occasionally, until blistered and blackened on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes for the flame or grill, about 10 minutes for the broiler. Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand about 5 minutes. Peel off the charred skin, cut out the seed pod, then quickly rinse to remove straggling bits of skin and seeds. Cut into 1/4-inch dice.

Finishing the soup: Add the chiles to the soup along with the milk and reserved onion; bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the zucchini and corn, simmer a couple of minutes, then add the remaining squash blossoms. Simmer a couple of minutes longer (the strips of blossom will soften into deep-golden "streamers"), remove from the heat, stir in the cream, taste, and season with salt. Serve in warm bowls garnished with the chopped epazote or parsley.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 cup stone ground cornmeal (not coarse)
4 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into  1/2-inch cubes
6 oz extra-sharp cheddar, coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 c)
3 T finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 1/3 c well-shaken buttermilk

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 450°F. Butter a large baking sheet.

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.  Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in cheeses and scallions with a wooden spoon. Add buttermilk and stir until just combined.

Drop dough in 8 equal mounds about 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool to warm, about 10 minutes.

If serving with Turkey Sloppy Joes, split in half, and serve sloppy joe mixture over biscuits.

Turkey Sloppy Joes

3 T olive oil
1 large onion
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 1/2 lbs ground turkey -- not only white meat
1 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice
1/2 c ketchup
2 T molasses (not robust)
2 T cider vinegar
1 1/2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 t Tabasco, or to taste

Heat oil in 8-qt wide, heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add turkey and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up large lumps with a wooden spoon, until meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, combine tomatoes with juice, ketchup, molasses, cider vinegar, Worcestershire, and Tabasco in a blender. Puree until smooth.

Add tomato mixture to turkey and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 25 to 20 minutes.

Serve with Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Creamy Ricotta and Farro Quiche

Creamy Ricotta and Farro Quiche

1 c Farro
1 T Salt
3 c Water
2 T fine dry bread crumbs
2 T unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 15-oz containers whole milk Ricotta
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2/3 c finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 c coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t ground nutmeg

In medium sauce pan, combine Farro, salt, and water. Bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low boil. Cook farro until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and cool to room temp.

Put a rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 9-inch glass pie plate or other shallow ovenproof dish and lightly coat with bread crumbs, knocking out excess.

Melt butter in a small heavy skillet over low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer garlic and butter to medium bowl. Stir in farro, ricotta, egg, egg yolks, Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, 3/4 t salt, pepper, and grated nutmeg until well combined.

Spoon mixture into dish and bake until quiche is just set and top is pale golden, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool slightly.

Serve warm, cut into wedges.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Creamy Tofu Salad (Sandwiches)

Creamy Tofu Salad

Switched to Gourmet Today.

1 14-ounce package firm tofu, drained and rinsed
1/2 c mayonnaise (hmm, I don't think I've ever spelled that whole word)
1 t fresh lemon juice
1 t turmeric
1/2 t dry mustard
2 celery ribs, finely chopped (*gags* celery is only a vehicle for peanut butter or pimento cheese)
1/4 c chopped fresh chives
1/2 t salt, or to taste
1/4 t pepper, or to taste

8 slices whole wheat
8 Boston lettuce leaves
8 tomato slices

Finely mash tofu with a fork (or your hands, like I did) in a bowl. Transfer to a sieve (or paper towel lined colander, like I did) and let drain for 15 minutes. Discard liquid.

Whisk together mayo, lemon juice, turmeric, and dry mustard in a bowl. Stir in tofu, celery, chives, salt, and pepper.

Make sandwiches with bread, tofu salad, lettuce, and tomatoes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Welsh Rarebit & Ham Quesadillas

2-3 T Welsh Rarebit
1-2 oz Ham
1 Flour Tortilla

Smear the Welsh Rarebit on the side or whole thing. Pile on the the ham. Fold in half. Grill in skillet or like me on the Foreman Grill. Nom nom nom!! Fair warning, it's a little bit salty. You could use a sweet ham for this.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Brazilian Black Beans

Brazilian Black Beans

Joy of Cooking again. I think I will switch over to Gourmet tomorrow.  I have two Gourmet cookbooks. I *heart* Gourmet. I was so sad to see the magazine fold.

Soak, rinse, and drain
     1 lb of dried black beans.
Put beans in large soup pot. Add
    4 cups water
Bring to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, cook
    8 ounces of fresh hot sausagein a medium skillet over medium heat until firm and no longer pink. Let cool, then slice into 1/4-inch rounds. Use the same skillet, over medium heat
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 onion
    1 green bell pepper (*gags* i dislike green bell pepper with a passion & refuse to use it)
    4 garlic cloves, minced

Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender but not brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Add
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Stir and cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. After the beans have cooked 1 1/2 hours, add the cooked vegetables. Cook, uncovered, until the beans are very tender, about 30 minutes more. Add
    3/4 cup orange juice
    1/4 cup dry sherry
    1 to 2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Return the sausage, if using, back to the pan and cook for 15 minutes more (or longer to thicken, if desired). Serve with
    Sour Cream

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pioneer Woman's Perfect Iced Coffee

Pioneer Woman's Perfect Iced Coffee

So, Pioneer Woman (a.k.a. Ree Drummond) has a nifty way of making a crap ton of iced coffee with very little effort. She calls it Perfect Iced Coffee.

Here's my version:

1 French Press
4 c cold water
1/2 c (or more) ground coffee

Combine cold water and coffee in French Press. Swirl around with a spoon. Try not to throw it everywhere like I do. I have absolutely no grace when stirring. Press the plunger just until the coffee is under water. Stick in fridge for 8 to 12 hours. Strain through a filter or paper towel or cheese cloth and a strainer. Discard grounds. Pour some cold coffee in a cup. Add simple syrup and milk/cream/half & half to taste. ENJOY!

Mmmm, iced coffee without the bitterness, without the ice. It is a lovely thing.

I'm drinking this right now with Kahlua and Half & Half. Mmmmmmmmmm

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Raspberry Tart

Raspberry Tart by blog lass

This is mostly a Joy of Cooking recipe. I left off the streusel topping b/c A) I'm lazy and B) I'm nearly out of sugar (oh the horror!!!).

1/2 recipe basic pastry dough
1 large egg yolk
3 cups raspberries or other berries
1/2 c sugar
2 T cornstarch
1 T fresh, strained lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425°F. Roll or press the rested dough into a 9-inch tart pan. Wash the dough with the slightly beaten egg yolk. (I used half & half for this instead). Prick the dough all over to keep it from rising. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely (I didn't do this part)

Lower the oven temp to 350°F.

Combine raspberries, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice. Stir until mixed. The berries will begin to make their own juice. Pour the mixture into the tart shell. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until the berries are bubbling.

If you ARE going to use the streusel:

1/2 c sugar
2 T flour (all purpose or rice)
2 T unsalted butter
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 c chopped nuts, optional

Mix well. After pouring the berries into the shell, top with this mixture.  While baking, the berries will bubble up through the streusel.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hearty Meat Ragu

More Joy of Cooking!

Makes: 2 1/2 quarts sauce

Pat dry and cut into 1-inch cubes:
      2 lbs boneless stewing beef (chuck, bottom round, etc)
Heat in a large skillet over medium-high heat:
        2 T olive oil
Add the meat in batches, and brown on all sides, being careful not to crowd the pan. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker. Pour off all but 2 T of fat from the pan (or add more if needed). Add:
        1 large onion, finely chopped
        1 large carrot, finely chopped
        1 clelery rib with leaved, chopped
        4 garlic cloves, chopped
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add:
        1 cup dry red wine
Bring to a boil, stirring to release the browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Pour into the slow cooker. Stir in:
        One 28-ounce can tomatoes, crushed with juice
        One 28-ounce can tomatoes, crushed with puree (I used 28-oz can tomato puree
        1 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
        1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
        1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Cover and turn the slow cooker to the low setting. Cook without opening the lid, until the meat is very tender, 6 to 7 hours. Season to taste with:
        Salt and black pepper

Monday, August 15, 2011

Basic Pie or Pastry Dough

One 9- or 10-inch double crust. For a 9-inch single crust pie, use half the recipe.

Sift together:
        2 1/2 c all purpose flour
        1 1/4 t salt
        3/4 c chilled lard or vegetable shortening
        3 T cold unsalted butter
Cut half of the shortening into the flour mixture with a pasty blender or work it in lightly with the tips of your fingers until it has the consistency of cornmeal. Cut the remaining half into the dough until it is pea-sized. Sprinkle the dough with:
        6 T ice water
Blend the water gently into the dough until it just holds together; you may lift the ingredients with a fork, allowing the moisture to spread. If necessary to hold the ingredient together, add:
        1 t to 1 T ice water
Divide the dough in half, shape each into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap.

** This dough can be made in a food processor (I am oooooh so happy about this).
Combine the dry ingredients in the food processor and process for 10 seconds.  Scatter the butter and shortening/lard over the dry ingredients. Pulse 1- to 2-second bursts until most of the fat is pea-sized. With machine turned off, drizzle ice water evenly over the top. Pulse until no dry patches remain and dough just beings to clump in balls. Try to press the dough together with your fingers; if it will not cohere, sprinkle on a bit more ice water, pulse and try again. Do not allow the dough to gather into a single mass during processing. Wrap and refrigerate.

** Rolling the dough
Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Lightly flour the dough, as well.  Using even pressure on the pin, roll the dough from center to just before the edge.  This will help retain the round shape. Turn 1/4 turn, repeat rolling from center to near edge. Repeat until dough is the right size.  The round should be 3 to 4 inches larger than the size of the pan

Leek Tart

Another Joy of Cooking recipe.

Prepare and fit into a 9-inch quiche, tart, or pie pan:
        1/2 recipe Basic Pie or Pastry Dough, or Deluxe Butter Pie or Pastry Dough
Brush the dough with:
        Beaten egg yolk
Refrigerate. Melt in a medium skillet over medium heat:
        2 T butter
        2 lbs leeks, white and tender green parts only, cut into 1/4 inch slices
        1/2 t salt
        Black pepper to taste
Cover and cook, stirring occasionally and reducing the heat as the leeks cook, until they are very soft, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F. Beat together until well combined:
        2 eggs
        1/2 c heavy cream or half-&-half
        1/4 t grated or ground nutmeg
        Salt and black pepper to taste
When leeks are done, add to the custard. Transfer to the prepared pastry shell. Bake until the top is golden and the custard is set, 20 to 30 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Egg Bread

Got this from a friend. I wish I had actually tried this while it was still hot. Maybe next time!

3/4 c milk, room temp
2 beaten eggs, room temp
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbs butter
1/4 c sugar
3 c. bread flour
1 1/2 tsp yeast

Add ingredients to bread pan in order listed. You can mix the flour and sugar before adding on top of the milk/egg mixture. Add the yeast to the top of the dry ingredients. I make a small well in the flour mixture.

Set to 1.5 lb loaf, light regular crust...or consult your bread machine instructions.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Peanut Butter, Bacon, and Hot Pepper Jelly Sandwich

This is actually in the Joy of Cooking as a recommendation for a peanut butter + something sandwich.

Here's how I did mine:

2 slices fresh egg bread
1 T peanut butter
3 sliced crisply cooked bacon
1 T (or less) hot pepper jelly

Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread. Don't layer it too thick. Spread hot pepper jelly on other slice. Again, not too thick. Break up bacon slices to fit on one of the slices. Slap the two slices together and ENJOY!

Surprisingly, it's a tasty combo.

Homestyle White Bread

From: The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook

I love bread. It's a weakness. I love fresh, hot, tasty bread even more. After getting a bread machine from a cousin (she was moving and I called dibs on her machine before anyone else could), I set about figuring out how to bake bread in a machine. I am NOT a good bread maker. I over-knead any bread I make, even biscuits. A machine takes all the worry out of making bread...sort of. Now, I hover over the machine worried it isn't rising, it's rising too much, it's too dark, it's too light...

Here's the first bread I made (after three fails) successfully.

For a 1 1/2 lb loaf.

1 1/8 c water
1 T honey
2 T butter, unsalted cut into pieces
1 1/2 t salt
3 c bread flour
2 T non-fat dry milk
1 T toasted wheat germ (optional)
1 T sugar
1 T gluten
1 1/2 t bread machine yeast

Add ingredients to bread pan in order listed. You can mix the flour, milk, wheat germ, sugar, and gluten before adding on top of the water. Add the yeast to the top of the dry ingredients. I make a small well in the flour mixture.

Set to 1.5 lb loaf, light regular crust...or consult your bread machine instructions.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

French Toast

Another Joy of Cooking recipe.

2/3 cup milk or half-n-half
4 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla or 1 tablespoon rum
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 slices of bread, stale is better than fresh
Butter for browning

Preheat a skillet. Combine first five ingredients. Soak each piece of bread in the egg mixture. Melt butter in skillet. Cook bread in skillet until well browned.

Ok, I think just about everyone knows how to make French Toast. Egg, Milk, Salt, Pepper, Bread. However, I am looking for a recipe that closely matches how my grandmother made French Toast. Let's put aside the fact that she cooked the French Toast in bacon drippings (mmmm, pig fat). I've never found the right ratio of egg to milk to bread. I think this recipe comes pretty damn close.

What I would do differently:

More egg mixture when using stale bread. I made three slices of French Toast. I cut the egg mixture by half. My stale bread soaked up every drop of the mixture and could have easily held more.

Actually remember the butter. Duh. I had the slices in the skillet before I remembered to melt the butter. Had to pull the slices up long enough to melt the butter.

Less sugar. You only need enough to make the bread caramelize a little. Plus, I use syrup on my French Toast (and no PB) and that's a ton of sweet stuff first thing in the morning...or late at night.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Soy Broth with Egg Noodles

From: Mark Bittman

1/3 cup soy sauce, more to taste
1/3 cup ketchup or 3 tablespoons tomato paste and a pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, more to taste
A few drops dark sesame oil (optional)
A squirt of sriracha or other sauce, or a dried red chili to taste (optional)
1 pound egg noodles, preferably fresh.

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. In a smaller pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil; once boiling, reduce heat so water bubbles gently.

2. To the smaller pot add soy sauce, ketchup, vinegar, sesame oil if using and sriracha or chili, along with a pinch of salt. Stir and let simmer.

3. Add egg noodles to large pot; fresh noodles will be ready in just a couple of minutes; dried will take longer. When tender but not mushy, drain. Taste broth and add more soy, salt, vinegar or heat as you like. Divide noodles into bowls and pour hot broth over all.

I seriously disagree with Mark Bittman that this only serves 4. One pound of noodles is more than 4 servings. 2oz of dried noodles is one serving. One pound (16oz) is 8 servings.

I recommend doubling the broth if you are going to use the full pound of noodles.

And you will make this because it is your mission. Another recipe that is a definite keeper.

The broth is a milder version of hot-n-sour soup.

I would probably add more vinegar and a little more heat to the next bowl I have.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ham Cakes with Pineapple and Sweet Potatoes

Another Joy of Cooking recipe.

Prepare mixture for Ham Loaf, and shape into six 3-inch patties (cakes). Preheat oven to 375° F. Drain, reserve juice:
          One 20-ounce can pineapple slices in JUICE
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add and heat:
          1 tablespoon veg. oil
Place 6 pineapple rings in the skillet and cook, turning over once, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the slices to a shallow baking dish large enough to hold them in one layer. Set aside. Add to the skillet and heat:
          3 tablespoons veg. oil
Carefully place the ham cakes in the skillet and cook the cakes until the undersides are browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook 3 to 5 minutes longer. Place 1 cake on each pineapple slice. Return the skillet to medium heat and add:
          1 tablespoon veg. oil
When the oil is hot, add:
          Two 16-ounce cans sweet potatoes, drained and sliced
          1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
          1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Cook, turning the potatoes gently with a spatula until glazed, about 3 minutes. Place a chunk of potato on each ham cake and scatter remaining potatoes over the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the reserve pineapple juice into the baking dish. Bake until juices are thick and bubbling, about 30 minutes, basting the ham cakes several times just before serving.

Here's how I did this without the oil:

Take leftover ham loaf, cut into 4 to 6 pieces. Grill on Foreman.

Drain pineapple juice into glass, grill pineapple slices. Drink juice b/c that's the way I roll.

Drain sweet potatoes, grill.

This should be the holy trinity of flavors. Alas, I was done in by canned sweet potatoes b/c I was too lazy to buy fresh, nuke them in my microwave, and make the glaze properly.

Layer ham slice, pineapple, and a few pieces of questionable "sweet potato" on plate.

Taste "sweet potato" chunk. Gag. Feed offending lumps of disgusting cardboard to overly eager dog that is staring at you.

Nom nom nom on the pineapple and ham pieces while said dog is trying to mind control you like an evil Jedi.

Dump offending fake but not fake sweet potato down disposal and vow to always buy fresh from now matter how tired, cranky and/or hot I am.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Ham Loaf

I have switched to Joy of Cooking for this recipe. I am going to type the recipe exactly as it appears in the book.

Ham Loaf

4 servings

Think of this as a ham sandwich in the form of a delicious savory meat loaf.

Place in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground:
          2 cups diced ham
          1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
          2 eggs
          2 to 3 teaspoons prepared mustard, to taste

Pulse just until well mixed. Let staand for 10 to 30 minutes to blend the flavors. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan. Pack the ham mixture into the prepared pan. Bake until firm, about 30 minutes.

Ok, this is some seriously good crack food. It is actually perfect for my whacked out taste buds. Ham is also my most favorite kind of pig.

I can totally see me smearing this on toast in the morning. *drools*

FYI, Joy of Cooking is a FANtabulous cookbook. Everyone should own it. There aren't fancy shmancy pictures. The writing is pared (ha ha) down to the absolute essentials. There is a wealth of knowledge. If it's the ONLY cookbook you have, you will never regret it.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Garlic Fideo Soup

As it is still 10000 degrees here in Texas, I wanted something fast that required very little cook time, and oddly enough, hot to cool me down. Sounds backward, but drinking hot tea or eating hot soup can help you cool off. While this met my requirements, it did NOT wow me. I only made 1/3 of the recipe so I wasn't left with a crap ton of soup. Definitely on the do not make again list. Which is terribly sad b/c I love fideo soups; and I love garlic. From: Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything

If you want a rockin' fideo that will feed a small army: Tex-Mex Fideo.

1 lb fideo aka vermicelli (you can use any thin noodle)
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 small head of garlic, peeled and minced (I always cheat here and use jarred, minced garlic. I'm a heathen)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley, or cilantro, or espazote
6.5 c chicken STOCK
1/2 c bread crumbs

If you are not using short fideo, put the noodles in a bag and whack on them until the pieces are bite size (1- to 2- inches long).

Put olive oil in large, deep pan over medium-low heat. Add garlic when hot and cook, stirring constantly until soft and beginning to brown (abt 5 to 8 min).

Raise heat to medium-high, add noodles. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and brown noodles (abt 1 to 2 min).

Add paprika and 1/4 c fresh herbs, stirring to coat. Add the stock. Loosen the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan with the liquid. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender (abt 7 to 8 min).

Taste, adjust season as needed.

Serve with fresh herbs and bread crumbs as garnish.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Welsh Rarebit (Welsh Rabbit)

This is NOT my kind of recipe. Yes, I love cheese, but this thing is a pain to put together and I'm not really into cheese spread...unless it's pimento cheese. I would be willing to try this again ONLY if I used very sharp cheddar. From: Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything


2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon mustard powder, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
3/4 cup strong dark beer, like Guinness
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
1 pound Cheddar, Double Gloucester or other English cheese (or other good semi-hard cheese, like Comté or Gruyère, or a mixture), grated
4 to 8 pieces lightly toasted bread


1. Put butter in a saucepan over medium heat and, as it melts, stir in flour. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and very fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in mustard and cayenne, then whisk in beer and Worcestershire sauce.
2. When mixture is uniform, turn heat to low and stir in cheese, again stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and pour into a broad container to set (you can refrigerate for up to a day at this point).
3. Spread mixture thickly on toast and put under broiler until bubbly and edges of toast are crisp. Serve immediately.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Pioneer Woman's Sour Cream Enchiladas

Trust in recipes (like Sour Cream Enchiladas) from a woman that usually feeds a small army.

First, I admit to my obsession with Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman). Second, I have her cookbook. Third, I haunt her website for recipes and the extremely slim chance that I might actually A) win one of her prizes or B) see a photo of her husband. Having said all that, if you like traditional Mexican enchiladas*, these are (probably) not the ones you are looking for.

I like fast recipes. This, while fast, can be faster. Here's how:

1. Don't fry the tortillas. Steam them in a damp paper towel in the microwave.

2. Don't heat the enchilada sauce.

3. Use the same dish for dipping your tortillas in the enchilada sauce as you are for baking.

4. If you use the spicy enchilada sauce, you won't need to Cayenne or Cumin.

5. Dip all of the tortillas (one at a time) at the same time, stack them on a cutting board, and THEN fill and roll them.

6. Don't roll the enchiladas like cigars. I fold-roll mine in thirds.

* "Traditional Mexican enchiladas" is a misnomer. Like most other Mexican dishes, enchiladas are regionally influenced. I LOVE Tex-Mex enchiladas. I like Enchiladas Suiza, Sour Cream Enchiladas, and the old school Cheese Enchiladas.


12 whole Corn Tortillas
Canola Oil, For Frying
1 can (20 Ounce) Enchilada Sauce
2 cups Sour Cream
3 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Grated
1 cup Sliced/chopped Green Onions
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix together sour cream, green onions 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar, cumin, and cayenne pepper.
  3. Heat canola oil in a skillet over medium heat. Heat enchilada sauce in a separate skillet or saucepan.
  4. Using tongs, fry tortillas one at a time, for only about five to ten seconds per side (don't allow to crisp.) Remove from oil, then dunk tortilla in enchilada sauce. Lay tortilla on a plate, then spoon a good two or three tablespoons of the sour cream mixture in the middle. Roll tortilla, then place face down in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas and sour cream mixture.
  5. (If there's any sour cream mixture left over, use it as a dip for tortilla chips!)
  6. Cover the dish with the remaining cheese, then bake for 15 to 20 minutes until bubbly.
  7. Serve immediately. Place a dollop of sour cream on each serving, then sprinkle on sliced green onions.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Orange Crush Sherbet

This recipe is sized for a 1-1/2-quart ice cream maker. If you have a larger machine, double the ingredients. Feel free to substitute other fruit-flavored sodas and/or canned or fresh fruit. From: Ezra Pound Cake

Makes 8 Servings

3 12-ounce cans (or 1 liter) of Orange Crush
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 small Can crushed pineapple

1. Combine Orange Crush, sweetened condensed milk and pineapple in a bowl.
2. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker’s freezer container.
3. Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Gruyere, Fontina, and Portabella Mushroom Quesadilla

1 Portabella Mushroom, sliced or chopped (I prefer chopped)
1 oz Gruyere
1 oz Fontina
1 tortilla, medium sized

Grill or sauté the mushroom. Slice or shred 1 oz of each cheese. Layer cheese, mushroom, and cheese on one side of tortilla. Grill or heat through in skillet or griddle. Eat! Careful, there's nothing worse than searing the inside of your mouth with flaming hot cheese. Not even hot coffee to the tongue. Hot cheese sticks.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Pasta with Sardines, Bread Crumbs, and Capers

This recipe hits all the right notes for me. It's not overly salty despite the capers. Sardines are not salty like anchovies, but they are loaded with flavor. From: The Minimalist

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup bread crumbs, ideally made from stale bread
1 onion, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound long pasta, like perciatelli
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 cans sardines packed in extra virgin olive oil (about 1/2 pound)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish.

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Put half the oil (2 tablespoons) in a medium skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, less than 5 minutes, and then remove. Add the remaining oil and the onion to the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until just tender; drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Turn the heat under the onions to medium-high and add the lemon zest, capers and sardines; cook, stirring occasionally, until just heated through, about 2 minutes.

3. Add the pasta to the sardine mixture and toss well to combine. Add the parsley, most of the bread crumbs and some reserved water, if necessary, to moisten. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnishing with more parsley and bread crumbs.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Monday, August 01, 2011

King Arthur Flour Whole Wheat Waffles

This is a good recipe, but doesn't even come close to my standard waffle recipe: Heloise's Club Soda Waffles. Club Soda Waffles come out light, crisp, and the perfect vehicle for peanut butter and syrup. Yes. Peanut butter and syrup. Trust me on this one. It's fantastic on pancakes, too.

These KAF WW Waffles would be good with blueberries or maybe a little wheat germ or walnuts. I think you could change the flavor profile with applesauce or over ripe mashed bananas. Definitely worth a second try; but need to tweak it to bring out the full potential.

1 1/2 cups King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour or Premium Whole Wheat Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1/3 cup melted butter or vegetable oil

1) Preheat your iron while you make the waffle batter.
2) Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
3) In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and butter or oil.
4) Mix together the wet and dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. The batter will be a bit lumpy; that's OK.
5) Cook the waffles as directed in the instructions that came with your waffle iron.

Yield: 3 1/2 round Belgian-style (deep-pocket) 7" waffles. I got 8 standard square waffles.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cheesy Baked Farro

If you have never had Farro (FAHR-OH) before, it's considered an "ancient grain." It cooks up similar to oatmeal and rice in that it requires a lot of liquid. 3 parts liquid to 1 part Farro.

I bought a huge honkin' bag of it at Costco on a whim several months ago. I've been using it as a quick dinner or snack. I tried it savory and sweet. I think it might make an interesting pudding if I could think of a recipe for it. Something like rice pudding.

For today, I cut the recipe in half...well, tried to. The sauce and cheese COMPLETELY overwhelm the Farro before it's baked, so I did use 6 cups broth to 2 cups Farro. We will see if that was a good idea when it comes out of the oven.

Make sure you let this "age" before serving. Otherwise the farro is completely overwhelmed by the cheese. From: Giada de Laurentiis

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups warm whole milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 1/2 cups grated Parmesan
1 cup grated Gruyere
1/2 cup fontina cheese, grated
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups faro or barley, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs
Olive oil, for drizzling
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

For the sauce: In a 2-quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thick and smooth, about 8 minutes (do not allow the mixture to boil). Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

For the farro: In a large bowl, add the cheeses and stir to combine. Remove 1/2 cup of the mixture and reserve. In a large stock pot, add the chicken broth and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the farro, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the faro is tender, about 25 minutes. Drain, if necessary. Add the farro, thyme, and sauce to the bowl with the cheese. Stir until combined and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with the reserved 1/2 cup of cheese. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake until the top is golden brown and forms a crust, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Watermelon and Tomato Salad

Written as is, I think the recipe lacks something -- although, I used balsamic vinegar and not sherry vinegar. My neighbor suggested more acid. I could try a sharper balsamic or a different vinegar all together. What I did do was use the quick preserved lemons from the other day and that TOTALLY made the salad.

Worth another try; and worth a play. I'd try mint in this the next time. From: The Minimalist

2 1/2 cups seedless watermelon, in 1-inch cubes or balls (cut over a bowl to catch the juice and reserve it)
1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup finely diced or crumbled Stilton, Gorgonzola, Roquefort or Maytag blue cheese
1/2 cup minced scallions
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Pinch cayenne
1/2 cup cilantro or parsley, roughly chopped.

1. Combine the watermelon, tomato, cheese, scallions and salt in a bowl.

2. Whisk or blend together about 2 tablespoons of the watermelon juice, oil, vinegar and cayenne. To serve, dress the salad with this mixture and garnish with cilantro. Do not refrigerate and serve within 30 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Eggplant with Red Bell Pepper and Quick Preserved Lemons

This is really two recipes, but they go together to make one dish. It's light, flavorful, and takes maybe an hour to make from first cut to landing on a plate -- as long as you make the quick preserved lemons ahead of time. From: The Minimalist

Recipe #1
Eggplant and Red Bell Pepper

1-2 eggplants
1-2 red bell peppers
olive oil

Trim and cube the eggplant. Sprinkle liberally with salt (this will sweat the eggplant) and set aside. Trim and cube the red bell pepper. Wait 10-15 minutes.  Rinse the eggplant well. Add olive oil to hot pan. Sautee eggplant and red bell pepper. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/4 - 1/2 cup quick preserved lemons.

Recipe #2
Quick Preserved Lemons

4 organic, unwaxed lemons -- you really want to go for organic because you ARE going to eat the peel/if the lemons are waxed, you will have to scrub the wax off...good luck!
2 T sugar
1 T salt (Mark Bittman calls for Kosher Salt, but I refuse to use Kosher Salt when I've used plain ol' Morton's my entire life)

Dice and seed lemons. Mix with sugar and salt in some container. Let set at least 30 minutes before using.