Friday, August 28, 2009
Easy Mint Sauce for a Large Fruit Salad
1 bunch mint
1/4 cup sugar
1- 10oz. jar mint jelly
1/4 c. water
Take the leaves off the mint stems and chop them finely. Place in bowl with the sugar. Allow to stand for 1 hour (if you don't have time to do that, it's okay, the sauce is still good.). Melt all the jelly in the microwave and pour it over the mint sugar mixture. Add the 1/4 c. water and stir well. Refrigerate until ready to use, at least 1 hour (that's necessary to get a nice natural minty taste.).
Right before serving, pour the sauce over the salad and mix well to coat all the fruit. Very refreshing!
Monday, August 24, 2009
The markets all have Hatch chile everything now, ie chiles from Hatch, NM. I got some today and made this dish because this morning on "Good Morning America", Dr. Oz said we need to eat more whole grains, veggies and less meat. What's new? But this turned out very tasty!
Hatch Chile Shrimp Penne Pasta
For two people:
2 T. butter (it's not much-- don't panic!)
1 long, Hatch chile, sliced crosswise into thin short strips (mild or hot-- I used mild, but I think hot might have been better)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c. chopped red onion (white is okay, red is just prettier)
1 c. milk (whole or 2%)
1 T. flour
1/2 lb. shrimp (peeled, deveined, tails removed, cut in half)
2 T. flat leaf parsley, minced (Cilantro would be good also, I think. I just didn't have any!)
2 tsp. salt
6 oz. whole wheat penne pasta, cooked according to pkg. directions
1. Saute the chiles, garlic, and onion in the butter. Add 1 tsp. salt. Add the flour and stir it around.
2. Add the shrimp and stir a little, but don't let them cook through.
3. Add the milk. Cook and stir until everything is bubbly and the shrimp are pink.
4. Add the pasta, 1 tsp. salt, pepper, and parsley.
5. Allow everything to cook gently until the pasta has absorbed a little of the sauce. Taste for seasoning and serve!
I think this would also be good with chicken, crab, or just veggies like artichokes and mushrooms.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Now, about the cookies. I made Spritz Butter Cookies from a super old recipe my mom had. It came with the "cookie gun" that she received as a wedding gift in the early 50's and that I now have. It's fun to use and makes all kinds of different shaped cookies fast. Anyway, so I made heart-shaped butter cookies and painted one side with yummy chocolate. They looked great! I stored them in the fridge so the chocolate would stay nice-- a mistake. During the last part of the meeting I went to the kitchen to serve the dessert. The flan was fine, the meeting adjourned, people went home, and then-- RATS! There were the cookies still in the refrigerator! I had forgotten to serve them! Here's the worst: this is not the first time I've done that. In fact, it happens enough that it is rather a family joke (very funny.). I didn't include a photo of them, but I will later. I'm going to freeze them for the next meeting...........and write myself a note about that!
Here's some tips for making flan:
1. Use a fairly shallow mold with very little decoration. If you use something fancy, like a bundt type pan, the caramel coating isn't nearly as dramatic looking in the final dish and the molded decoration gets somewhat hidden by the caramel. I just use a metal layer cake pan (make sure it holds the proper volume).
2. Melt the sugar in a small, heavy, cast iron pan. Stir constantly as it melts. It will look like a mess at first, but soon the sugar melts into a smooth, brown syrup.
3. Stop heating the syrup while is still a little lighter than you want because it will continue to darken from the heat of the pan.
4. Be very careful when you pour the syrup into the mold. It will get super hot, so hold it with potholders while you're tilting it around to coat the sides.
Simple Ingredients Flan
1 c. sugar
4 c. whole milk
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Almost boiling water.
Preheat oven to 325F.
1. Place the 1 c. sugar in a small, cast iron skillet. Stir over medium heat until melted and a deep brown caramel color.
2. Pour the melted sugar carefully into a metal mold or 9-inch cake pan. Hold the mold with pot holders and swirl the syrup around to coat the sides and bottom of the mold.
3. Pour the milk into a microwave safe container and heat until very hot, about 2-3 min. on "high".
3. Beat the rest of the above ingredients, except the water, in a bowl. Beat in the hot milk. Pour into the mold.
4. Set the mold in another metal pan and pour hot water up 1/2-inch around the mold.
5. Bake for 1hr and 15 min. or until a silver knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
6. Refrigerate overnight.
7. To serve: Run a knife around the edge of the mold to loosen the sides. Place a shallow serving dish over the top and invert everything quickly. Shake the mold a little and the flan will slip out with all the yummy caramel to serve as a sauce.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Anyway, I have a cookbook that has a favorite recipe of John Adams, second President of the United States. It was something called "Oyster Rolls". Ordinarily, I don't buy oysters in August, but they had local, wild, Texas oysters at the market today and they looked good. I had just looked at the oyster roll recipe the previous day, so obviously, I was supposed to make them! I was excited to try a recipe that people enjoyed over 200 years ago, but I thought it would probably be bland (I've noticed people were very conservative about seasoning until very recently.) However, these turned out great! I adapted the recipe a little for modern methods, but kept the ingredients the same.
John Adam's Oyster Rolls
2 small French rolls
1 pt. shucked oysters (save the oyster liquor)
2 T. butter
4 peppercorns (yes, the recipe said "4")
1/4 tsp. mace
2 T. minced parsley
fresh lemon, optional
1. Cut the tops off the two rolls and remove some of the bread to make a trench in the rolls.
2. Toast the rolls lightly under the broiler-- watch carefully! Preheat the oven to 375F.
3. Drain the oyster liquor into a small saucepan. Add the peppercorns, mace, and nutmeg.
4. Heat the liquid gently, not to a boil.
5. Add the oysters and the butter. Let them cook very slowly until the edges of the oysters curl.
6. Add the parsley. Taste for seasoning. Make sure there is enough salt.
7. Use a slotted spoon to remove the oysters into the rolls. Heat them in the oven for 3-5 min.
8. Meanwhile, boil the oyster liquid so it can reduce a bit.
9. When the rolls are done, place in a shallow bowl. Spoon the reduced oyster liquid over the rolls. Add a spritz of fresh lemon if you want, although this isn't in the original recipe.
10. You'll need to eat these with a fork because the liquid makes them soft, but they are quite good!
Note: One other thing I learned from this recipe is to cook oysters very slowly. This helps them stay tender. This method also works well when boiling shrimp-- keeps them from getting rubbery.
All his portraits look pretty stern, but maybe John Adams was a fun guy afterall !
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Easy Homemade Creamed Corn
1 10oz. pkg. frozen corn
milk or "half and half" (depends how rich you want it)
salt and pepper
Melt about 2 T. (about 1-inch off the butter stick) over medium-high heat in a frying pan. Add the frozen corn. Stir and cook until it's thawed and almost starting to get golden. You might have to add bit of water to get things going at first. Reduce the heat to low and sprinkle in about 2 T. flour over the corn. Cook and stir the mixture for about a minute (it will look a mess). Turn the heat back to medium-high and pour in some milk to just cover the bottom of the pan. Cook and stir until the mixture is bubbly. If it is too thick for your taste, add more milk. If it's too thin, let it cook a little more over low heat while you're doing something else, stirring now and then. It will continue to thicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper and Tabasco if you want.
Note: Adding chopped poblano peppers (roasted, peeled, seeded) to this dish makes it super good! If you like things really spicy, add the peppers at the end of cooking and serve. If you want the heat to tame a bit, add the peppers when you add the milk and let the creamed corn sit around awhile while you get the rest of dinner ready, then reheat quickly. The protein in the milk breaks down the chemicals that make the chiles hot, so the longer they react with the milk, the milder the taste. You'll find that if you reheat leftovers the next day, there will be very little chile spice, but the good flavor is still there!
You can use this method for just about anything you want to serve "creamed": potatoes, peas, spinach, etc. For fresh potatoes, add a little water to cook them without browning and cut them up smaller so they will cook quickly. Let the water evaporate before adding the flour and milk.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
More about cooking without a recipe:
Although Julia's recipes are painstakingly accurate to the 1/4 tsp. of herbs, everyday cooking can be a lot more relaxed. Some flavor combinations and basic ingredients work with so many things and make ordinary dishes seem special. Examples:
French vermouth (not expensive, about $7/bottle and it lasts a long time)-- Add about 1/4 c. to the browned bits left in a pan after browning chicken or pork. Let it cook a bit, scraping up the bits as it cooks. Swirl in a couple pats of butter, salt and pepper, and pour over the chicken or pork.
If you make any casseroles with "cream of something soup" add 1/4 cup-1/3 cup vermouth for part of the milk or whatever else liquid is called for. It makes a real difference!
Garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and any fresh herb makes a terrific marinade for just about any type of meat-- beef, pork, chicken, lamb. Fresh herbs that are good to use for grilling are rosemary, tarragon, or mint. More delicate herbs like parsley, thyme, chervil are better in the oven, I think.
Chinese black bean sauce or hoisin sauce comes bottled and is inexpensive. These are real no-brainers. Just saute whatever you like in the way of veggies and protein (chicken, tofu, etc.). At the end, stir in about 1 T cornstarch and mix around with the sauteed stuff. Add about 1/2 c. broth or even water (a little of the vermouth is good here also!), then add a big spoonful of the Chinese sauce. Taste and add more if you need to. Let everything cook quickly to evaporate enough to glaze everything well. You can get pretty close to "take-out"!
Of course, you can add so much more to these basic tips, but if you're in a hurry on a weekday night, just these ingredients can produce a very yummy dish in no time! Food types always talk about "building layers of flavor" and all that, and for sure, they are right. But you can still have a very tasty home cooked meal without all the "building" all the time!