How to Use this Blog

This blog is designed to be used like a cookbook. I've put tags on each recipe so you can go to the section on that topic just by clicking on the word in the cloud or the list. Some recipes are under more than one category to help you find what you're looking for.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Quiche

It helps to make it in a really cute pie plate.  I had run out of pie pans by this time.


Quiche is the perfect holiday breakfast and lunch food.  To start with, it works for either meal.  And you can make it ahead.  Then it can sit there in your fridge for days and days patiently waiting for its turn to shine.  You can ignore it until you need something classy and substantial, something healthy and light.  It's protein without being heavy. And you can dish it out one serving at a time if you want; in fact, it's almost better that way--especially if you do it MY way.

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To make your Quiche better than anyone else's, start with a puff pastry dough.  Get it from the freezer case at the store and thaw at home.

Ingredients:

  • package of puff pastry (they come with two crusts, use only one of them, and put the other one back in the freezer)
  • 1 large onion
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk or half & half (You could also use whipping cream but it's almost too rich this way)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup grated swiss cheese
You can also add other veggies to it like broccoli or halved grape tomatoes (on top, not inside).  I once added some left-over pico de gallo and it was fantastic. Quiche is very welcoming

  1. Preheat over to 425 degrees
  2. You might have to roll the puff pastry out a bit to get it big enough to make crust big enough for the pie pan.  Once you have it, lay it loosely over the pan.  Don't mash it together like other pie crusts.
  3. Mix the milk and egg well with the spices
  4. Cut the bacon into small pieces and fry until crisp.  Add the onion and fry that until soft.  Take off heat, drain and cool.
  5. Mix the cheese, bacon and onion together and fill the pastry.  Pour in the egg mixture carefully.
  6. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes
  7. Reduce oven to 300 degrees and bake for another 35-40 minutes until knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
When you are ready to serve the quiche you can serve it hot out of the oven.

Or you can cut one slice and re-heat it on a pre-heated pizza stone in a 350 oven.  (This is best achieved by letting the stone heat at 400 degrees for a long time then reducing the oven just before you put the quiche on the stone).  This will have the effect of crisping the bottom crust while heating and softening the filling.  It's actually better this way.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Pancakes

My guest blogger today is Sarah, the pancake queen--here for spring break. She found this recipe on Pintrest.  Go, Sarah-

Yesterday, was National Pancake Day so in honor of it I was put in charge of making pancakes. This is the recipe I found for Vanilla Cinnamon Buttermilk Pancakes.
 
Vanilla Cinnamon Buttermilk Pancakes
Serves around four


The ingredients you will need are:

2 cups of flour
3 TBSP of white sugar
1 1/2 TSP of baking soda
1 TSP of baking powder
1/4 TSP of salt
2 cups of buttermilk
1 1/2 TSP of Vanilla Extract
1/2 TSP of Ground Cinnamon
1 egg
1/4 cup of melted butter

You will also need:

Two medium mixing bowls
A whisk
A skillet or griddle
A spatula
Either PAM or butter to coat skillet or griddle


Let's get started!

STEP 1: Melt butter on the stovetop and set aside to cool slightly, but do not allow it to cool too much because it will solidify.

STEP 2: In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Use a whisk to combine.

STEP 3: In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, and egg. Whisk to combine. Slowly pour the melted butter into the mixture. NOTE: Make sure your butter has not solidified. If it has, microwave it for a few seconds.

STEP 4: Slowly, pour in one third of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until it is well incorporated. Repeat until you have used all of the wet ingredients. Be careful to not overmix. If you overmix. your pancakes will not be light and fluffy.   

STEP 5:  Set the batter aside and heat up an warm skillet or griddle on medium- high heat. Once heated, coat skillet or griddle with PAM or butter.

STEP 6: Pour 1/4 or 1/3 cup of batter on the skillet or griddle. Pour the batter in a small neat circle.

STEP 7: Let pancake cook for about two minutes on each side. When the outer edges of the pancake turn a golden brown and begin to bubble, it is time to carefully flip.
NOTE: If you are using a griddle with a lid, you can put the lid down and not need to worry about flipping the pancake. Just cook it for two minutes or until it is a soft golden color.

Granny's note here:  my genius granddaughter invented something here:  she didn't have to flip the pancake this way!  it cooked on both sides at the same time.  the top barely touched (if at all) the top of the pancake and only added heat.  But beware of adding too many fat chocolatey add-ons or it could get messy.

STEP 8: Remove pancake from griddle or skillet, and either place pancake in the oven on the lowest setting to keep warm until ready to serve, or eat right way.
 
Enjoy!


(Just for the record: I am a much calmer and patient than my grandma in the kitchen.)


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Stabilized Whipped Cream

Sorry about the drab technical term.  There's no better way to describe it.  This is a recipe for taking whipping cream and give it a little UMPH! to help it last through a long weekend or a hot summer picnic or survive under the weight of a layered triffle.  Basically, it's just regular whipped cream fortified with a little gelatin.  This recipe makes it really stout.  It's the baker's equivalent of three cans of hairspray on your hairdo. It's your secret battle plan.

You can find unflavored gelatin either with the Jello or sometimes with the baking stuff like yeast.


Ingredients:
1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1.  Chill the mixing bowl and beaters for at least 15 minutes before using.
2. Place water in small microwave-safe bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the water.  Let the gelatin soften for 5 minutes
3.  Dissolve the gelatin by microwaving for a minute at very low power 30% power.  You may need to hit it again.  The trick is to get the gelatin dissolved but not hot.  Let it stand until it's room temperature but still liquid.
4.  Put the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla in the cold bowl and start mixing it until the cream starts to set up and shows marks.
5. Add the gelatin slowly, beating constantly.  Beat until stiff peaks form.
6.  Use immediately.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Spatchcocking a Turkey

First, let's take a moment to appreciate what a glorious word "Spatchccoking" is. I have no idea where the word came from.  It sounds vaguely Hungarian.  I had never heard of this technique until Elizabeth saw it in a Parade magazine a month ago and sent me the link with the thought, "What do you think?".  Ever the adventurous one, I agreed that we should give it a try.  And we are transformed, reformed, converted, ready to change our ways.

It does take a certain leap of faith and willingness to  change the way you cook.  You will not end up with a Norman Rockwell version of a turkey.  You will have a flattened version, much like if a truck ran over your turkey while you weren't looking. But the meat will be juicier and the bird will play well with others instead of hogging the oven. It cooks in half the time.

Here's what you do to spatchcock a turkey. 

First things, first:  Remember that turkeys are big birds. 
Basically, you remove the backbone and then lay the bird flat on a cookie sheet, as flat as you can get it.  The instructions I got called for kitchen shears but I knew better and got the biggest searrated knife I owned and the firmest grip I could muster and grabbed that bird with its tail in the air and it's wings holding balance on the counter and just reamed the knife down, sawing hard as I went.  You gotta watch not only the knife but the sharp edges of the bones as you cut through the rib cage.  Repeat the same process.  You're basically just cutting the back out, leaving the breast and wings as you are familiar with them.  You will need to cut through the breast center to flatten it; no need to cut through it completely, just enough to release it.  Pat around on the bird to assure yourself lyou have it as flat as you can get it.  Tuck the wings underneath themselves. 





Rub butter all over it.  Or olive oil.  Salt and pepper.

You will notice how big this bird is.  Turkeys are like that.  That's why we serve turkeys for big meals like Thanksgiving instead of chickens. You don't see anybody pigging out over a chicken. This presents a problem for your oven. 

You may not have, indeed--you probably will NOT have room for a big bird.  Instead, I got two small turkeys.  Here is a picture of one of them before and after:



 

I cooked them both at the same time.  Yes, there was room because they lay very flat and I used both shelves.  The recipe calls for 450 degrees for 90 minutes.  This sounds wrong but it works.  You can trust me.  I did it at my house, in my oven.  And you are looking at the picture of the turkey that came out of my oven set at 450 degrees.  This gave us a whole lot of extra time.  I cut up the turkey and covered it with foil and set it aside.  I think I set it in a roasting pan set on warm with a little water in the bottom for steam and let it rest there for about 30 minutes while we used the oven to heat the casseroles and the rolls.
 
I do believe this was the lowest stress Thanksgiving meal I've ever cooked.  And I am not known for my stress-free Thanksgivings. But they are tasty.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ginger Tea

If you drank this cold you might call it Ginger Ale because this is really what it is.  I got the recipe from Mother Earth News and it's supposed to both prevent and cure a cold. I  made a quart last night, drank most of it already and haven't caught a cold yet.  And, if I did, I think this would make the whole thing just a lot easier to take.

You will need:
a hand of fresh ginger root (yes, it's called a hand) You'll need enough for 4-6 tablespoons grated
1/2 cup honey
2-3 lemons
  • combine 4-6 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger root with 1 quart cold water and bring just to a boil
  • remove from heat immediately.......you don't want it to boil or it will bring out too much of the the spicy heat of the ginger
  • let this seep for 10 to 15 minutes
  • strain the ginger from the tea
  • stir in the lemon juice 
  • add 1/2 cup of honey to taste
Curl up with a good book and enjoy.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Pot Roast and Rudolph's Meat Market

With the Memorial Day holiday coming up our family decided to spend our weekend gathered together.  Any time that happens and there is no "official" cuisine our default is hot dogs.  And, given enough notice, Beaven will stop by Rudolph's when he is in town. That's our favorite hot dog. 

They are the old fashioned kind that are linked together in long ropes. The Meat market in Dallas makes their own and they have a deep flavor than makes other hot dogs taste like cardboard.



Our family has been going to Rudolph's Meat Market on deep Elm St. in Dallas for four or five generations--it's five if you count who loves the hot dogs, four if you count who is paying for them. Once we scored the hot dogs for Memorial Day I sent a photo to Sarah and Elisabeth to put their minds at ease.



Beaven's grandparents had a house a few miles from the State Fairgrounds.  In it's heyday, the neighborhood had large stately homes mostly built by the Dallas Jewish community.  The Els family, good Lutherans, had a smaller house with four sons and two daughters.  Papa Els started a commercial bakery in the family kitchen.  He bought houses nearby for his sons and their families who all worked at the bakery.  Sometime in the fifties the neighborhood declined and the family bought houses in other parts of town. The bakery took over the unused houses and put in larger commercial ovens or tore them down for a parking lot.. 

They kept the kitchen area of one of the houses so his grandmother and aunts could cook gigantic meals for the family during the workday.   Rudolph's Meat Market was their butcher. It's still there at the original location, still selling quality meats the old fashioned way.

Sad to say, I get most of my meat from Walmart now.  Mostly because I live out in the country.  Except for hot dogs.  If it's a big family celebration we will assign Beaven to pick some up when he's already in Dallas. Rudolph's is about the only place you can find the old fashioned kind that is linked together.

So, for Memorial Day we stopped in to get some.  And I spotted the pot roasts.  A seven bone chuck roast, to be exact.  I haven't seen a roast cut that way in years.  I'm not sure why. But it's one of the best cuts for a chuck roast. 

It's not a chunk of meat with seven bones.  Actually, there's only one bone. It's called a "seven bone" that because the bone makes the shape of the number seven. It's backwards in this photo.  Pretend you're looking at it from the other side.

I let it sit uncovered in the fridge last night to dry it out a bit.  That concentrates the flavor.  Look at the marbling. It's just the Mona Lisa of meat we have here.  What you can't see is that it's about three inches thick.  When you are blessed with a piece of meat this good you start finding reasons to cook it.  And, voila!, Memorial Day with the entire family. We can't eat hot dogs for the entire weekend.

Once we got in the car and checked the receipt we realized this roast cost us $40. Apparently, you pay for what you get.  A chuck roast, even the seven bone one, is not an expensive cut,  There are a lot of other cuts more expensive.  I'm pretty sure that if Rudolph ever charged Aunt Esther $40 for a pot roast, she would have expected the Queen of England to personally come to her house and cook that roast herself.

I expect a lot from this roast.

Here is how I cook a pot roast: 

Get a big pot-- enameled cast iron is the best. 

Put a  hefty layer of olive oil in the bottom of the pan.  Turn the heat on medium.  Add the roast.  Let that sizzle for a while until it's good and brown on one side.  Turn the roast over and brown the other side.

Add about a cup or two of red wine--not covering the meat but maybe 1/3 from the bottom.  Chop several cloves of garlic and one whole onion.  add those to the pot.  Add an envelope of onion soup mix.  Cook this in the oven for an hour at 300 degrees.

After an hour the roast will not be tender at all.  You might be tempted to think you've made a huge mistake.  Don't let this discourage you.

Add about four chopped carrots and a chopped potato. Check the liquid--you should have plenty. If not, add some more red wine.   Put it back it back in the oven for another hour.

Check it after an hour.  It should be marvelously tender at this point.  If not, give it another 30 minutes. It it's still not fork-tender then, you probably bought the wrong kind of meat and you're screwed and your mother-in-law probably regrets her son's choice. When the meat is falling apart you will know it's ready.  Take the meat out of the pot in chunks and put on a plate. 

Set the plate aside to cover with plastic wrap and save for dinner or refrigerate until tomorrow. I like to make my pot roast a day ahead if I can for a couple of reasons.  But you don't have to do it my way.

Pour the liquid and veggies into a bowl.  Jiggle it enough to get the veggies to settle and let the fat rise to the top in one layer. At this point you can skim the fat off the top.  If you refrigerate it until the next day the fat will have solidified and be easier to take off with a fork, leaving only the juice and vegetables.


 
 
The next step is to take this whole thing and blend it up in the Cuisinart or some other kind of blender that will pulverize the potatoes and carrots.  This thickens the gravy and you don't need to add a flour and butter roux. Sometimes I add a little Worchestershire sauce. Sometimes more red wine.  You will notice I haven't put any water in.
 
Of course, now you don't have any veggies because you blended them all into gravy. That's OK.  Sometimes the red wine will turn the potatoes purple if you cook them together.  Yes--a kind of grayish purple.  It looks nasty.  The potatoes and carrots you have cooked at this point are merely thickener for the gravy. 
 
To get the vegetable sides, I roast them and add them later.
 
Cut up the potatoes and carrots you want into the size you want and roast it in the oven in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  You can really add any kind of veggies here:  asparagus and brussel sprouts are nice.Douse them liberally with olive oil and seasoning salt.  Cook at about 400 or so--keep an eye on them and turn as needed.  This cooks it fast and gives it a rustic brown look.  And, best of all, the potatoes aren't purple.
 
Turn the oven back to 300-325 or so and heat the meat up covered in aluminum foil to keep it moist. You don't want to cook it any more, just heat it.
 
Combine the veggies and meat or serve separately. Serve the gravy in a bowl. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Enchiladas

OMG....I'm embarrassed to say I never knew about this until late in life.  And it's so simple I can't believe I've never heard of anyone making else it.

We had chili dogs at church last night and I forgot to take the shredded cheese and onions I had cut up.  I also brought home the left-over chili.  So this morning I had all the shredded cheese, onions and chili sitting around with me wondering how to get rid of it all.  And Voila!!!

Beef and Cheese Enchiladas
In a casserole dish spread a small layer of Wolf Brand Chili (NO beans!)
  1. take a corn or flour tortilla and wrap some cheese and onions up in it. (It does better with a 1/4 to 1/2 inch log of cheese cut from the block but I had shredded left over so that's what I used)
  2. spread more chili on top, this time a heavier layer.  Sprinkle grated cheese on top.
  3.  Cook covered about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Uncover and cook until the top is bubbly.
 I don't have any exact amounts because I was using leftovers.

Cheese Enchiladas

Same drill, this time with On The Border Cheese dip instead of chili on the bottom
more cheese and onions wrapped inside.  Cheese dip on top with grated cheese on top of that.

Cook covered about 30 minutes.  Uncover and cook until bubbly.

This is so easy to make it's kind of a sin not to.