Haute Dogs for the 4th | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 02 July 2015 10:38

070215fAs we Americans prepare to celebrate the 4th of July, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council has released a survey revealing that (big surprise!) mustard will be the go-to topping.

Although the Council’s rules of etiquette say “no ketchup on a hot dog after the age of 18,” Americans defied the rules, naming ketchup as their second choice – news that has raised the eyebrows of Council leaders.

According to an online survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the Council, nearly three quarters (71 percent) of Americans who eat hot dogs say they top their hot dogs with mustard, followed by ketchup (52 percent), onions (47 percent), chili (45 percent) and relish (41 percent).

A warning: Anything you stack in a teetering pile atop a hotdog, will end up on the floor as soon as you take a bite.

CLASSIC AMERICAN HOT DOGS

8 hot dogs
1/2 cup coarsely chopped bread and butter pickles
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dill pickles
8 hot dog buns
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cucumber cut into wedges

Preheat broiler. Place hot dogs on baking sheet lined with foil. Broil 4 to 5 minutes, turning often, until heated through. Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together pickles. Serve hot dogs in buns with pickles, onion, cucumber and mustard. Makes 8 servings.

FAMOUS CHICAGO HOT DOGS

8 all-beef wieners
8 poppyseed hot dog buns, (preferably local-bakery-made)
Yellow ballpark mustard
Chopped cucumber
Pepperoncini, chopped
Chopped onion
Chopped red ripe tomato
Celery salt
Dill pickle spears

Fire up the grill, bringing the temperature to high (1 to 2 seconds with the hand test).

Grill the wieners uncovered for 3 to 5 minutes over high heat until deeply browned, rolling to crisp all surfaces.

Toast the buns at the same time on the edge of the grill.

Place the dogs on the toasted buns and top each with a good squiggle of mustard. Then pile on, in approximately equal portions, generous spoonfuls of cucumber, peppers, onion and tomato.

Sprinkle celery salt over each bulging bun. Serve with dill pickle if desired. Serves 8.

NEW YORK CITY HOT DOGS

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
6 beef hot dogs
6 hot dog buns
Spicy brown mustard
Sauerkraut

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add onions and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown in places, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking, 1 minute more. Stir in tomato paste, red wine vinegar, hot sauce, sugar, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until onion relish is thick and glossy.

Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a deep-sided skillet. Add hot dogs, reduce heat, keeping water at a bare simmer, and heat through at least 10 minutes, or until ready to serve.

Line a steamer basket with three layers of cheesecloth and place inside a pot with 1/2 inch of boiling water. Place hot dog buns on cheesecloth, cover pot, and steam buns, 2 minutes.

Assemble by placing hot dogs inside buns, top with onion relish, spicy brown mustard, and sauerkraut and serve immediately. Yields 6.

MARTHA STEWART’S HOT DOGS

6 all-beef hot dogs
6 hot dog buns
Mustard, for serving
Classic Creamy Coleslaw, for serving
Chili, for serving
Chopped onion, for serving

Preheat griddle to medium heat. Fill a medium saucepan three-quarters full of water; bring to a boil. Add hot dogs, reduce heat to simmer, and cook until hot dogs are plump and heated through, about 6 minutes.

Transfer hot dogs to griddle. Open buns and place interior-side down on griddle. Cook hot dogs and buns until lightly browned.

Serve hot dogs in buns with mustard, coleslaw, chili, and onions. Yields 6 servings.

MEXICAN HOT DOGS

12 flour tortillas
12 hot dogs
1 cup refried beans
1/2 cup feta or other cheese
1/2 cup your favorite salsa

Spread the heated beans on a warm tortilla. Place a frankfurter on top. Sprinkle with cheese and roll up the tortilla. Microwave for 2 minutes or place in preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes.

Serve with salsa. Serves 12.

RED DEVIL HOT DOGS

1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
2 minced garlic cloves
4 tablespoons margarine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1-1/2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup chili sauce
1 pound hot dogs
8 hot dog buns

Cook onion and garlic over medium-low heat until onion is tender, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add salt, pepper, Worcestershire, mustard, sugar and chili sauce. Continue heating until flavors are well blended, about 5 minutes.

Split each hot dog lengthwise, and arrange split-side up in shallow pan. Spoon sauce over hot dogs and heat under broiler for 3-5 minutes, until sauce is bubbly.

Serve hot on buns, spoon on extra sauce.

 

 
A New Way to Enjoy Coconut | Print |  E-mail
Monday, 29 June 2015 08:19

062515fFlaked and shredded coconut, coconut milk, and coconut cream have been been around for years, used in everything from tropical drinks to macaroons and pie. And lately, coconut water has made its way to the endless row of bottled waters on supermarket shelves.

Now, add coconut flour. You may have seen it at your local grocers and thought it was just another novelty fad or “diet food” that will soon fade out of popularity.

But coconut flour deserves a second look and may soon become a staple in your pantry. It’s naturally sweet and rich textured and, unlike grain flours, it’s gluten-free. Low in calories, it is a good source of dietary fiber and contains healthy saturated fats.

Coconut flour is very absorbent. For this reason, it takes less flour when cooking with coconut flour than it does wheat. A recipe for pancakes using coconut flour will typically use only one-half cup of flour, maybe less, in a recipe that calls for a cup of wheat flour, and yet it will yield the same amount of pancakes.

Although coconut flour can be used to bake delicious cakes and breads, it requires some adjustments to wheat flour recipes, including adding extra liquid. So its best to use recipes, like these, that were designed especially for coconut flour.

Store the flour in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer, as it contains no preservatives or sulfites.

COCONUT FLOUR CHOCOLATE CAKE

1 cup butter, softened
1-2/3 cups sugar
10 eggs (at room temperature) 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 2cups coconut flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/3 cups whole milk

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch layer pans with coconut oil and dust with cocoa powder.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar, and beat together for about 2 minutes. Add eggs in one at a time and beat high speed for about 3 minutes. Add in the vanilla while beating the eggs and butter mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients together and add alternately with the milk to the butter mixture. Beat batter for about five minutes on high speed. Spoon batter into the two prepared cake pans and smoothen out tops.

Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean. Place pans on wire rack and cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans. Cool cakes completely before frosting. Use your favorite frosting to frost the cake.

Cupcakes: Make recipe as directed but spoon batter into muffin cups and bake for about 26-30 minutes. Frost after cupcakes have cooled completely. Makes about 24 cupcakes.

GLUTEN-FREE PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

3/4 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Whisk flaxseed meal, coconut flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl. Stir peanut butter, applesauce, eggs, butter, and vanilla extract together in a separate bowl; mix into flaxseed meal mixture until dough is just mixed. Spoon dough onto a baking sheet, pressing a wet fork into each cookie to flatten.

Bake in the preheated oven until cookies are lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Yields 12 servings.

COCONUT-BANANA PANCAKES

1/2 cup coconut flour
1 cup almond flour*
2 eggs
1 mashed ripe banana
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil, plus more for pan
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt

Thoroughly combine all ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl, be sure there are no lumps.

Coat griddle or pan with coconut oil on medium heat and drop in pancake mix (1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons).

Flip once slightly browned on bottom, approximately 3 minutes. They are ready when well-formed and easy to flip. Cook additional 2 minutes and remove from pan. Yields 4 servings.

These pancakes are delicious on their own but can be topped with honey, maple syrup, homemade jam or fresh fruit.

LEMON-BLUEBERRY WAFFLES

6 eggs, separated
3/4 cup applesauce
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat waffle iron to low heat.

Separate egg yolks from whites. Use a hand blender to whip egg whites until soft peaks begin to form. Set aside.

Combine applesauce, lemon zest and juice, vanilla and melted butter, mixing together with the egg yolks. Sift in coconut flour and baking soda.

Fold in egg whites with the rest of the waffle batter being careful to not completely flatten the egg whites. Gently mix in blueberries.

Generously grease waffle iron with coconut oil or butter and drop a large spoonful of batter into the center. Do not fill iron completely with batter. Carefully remove waffles when they are done and repeat with remaining batter. (These waffles are very light so remove them carefully with a flat spatula). Yields 4 servings.

BACON, EGG & CHEESE MUFFINS

6 strips bacon
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons coconut flour 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded/diced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tin or use paper inserts.

Fry bacon in a skillet until crispy. Set aside.

Blend eggs, 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add coconut flour and baking powder. Mix until there are no lumps.

Crumble bacon and add to batter along with cheese. Mix until incorporated.

Pour batter into muffin tin and bake for 15 minutes. Serves 6.

CAPTION: Coconut flour is made from dried coconut meat that has been finely ground to a powder. It is gluten-free, low in calories, and has other healthy attributes.



 
Father’s Day 2015 | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 17 June 2015 23:23

061815fLike everyone else in the family, the modern-day Dad is probably more concerned than ever before about staying trim and healthy. So it stands to reason that breakfast on his special day – whether at home or at his favorite restaurant – should not only be a treat, but it should be heart-healthy as well.

These recipes are designed to greatly reduce the amount of fat and in some cases completely eliminate cholesterol by using nonfat cooking sprays and egg substitutes.

SOUTH-OF-THE-BORDER QUICHE

1 frozen 9-inch pie crust, thawed
1 tablespoon margarine
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped red bell pepper or pimento
1-1/3 cups fat free milk
1 cup (8 oz) egg substitute
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup drained canned whole kernel corn
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and  green chilies, drained

Preheat oven to 450°F. Lightly prick side of pie crust with fork. Bake 5 minutes or until lightly browned; set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Melt vegetable margarine in medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook and stir 6 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Beat milk, egg substitute, flour, salt and black pepper in medium bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Add onion mixture, corn and hot pepper sauce; mix well.

Pour into prepared pie crust; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the cilantro. Cover edge of crust with aluminum foil to prevent overbrowning.

Bake 30 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Meanwhile, combine drained tomatoes and the remaining cilantro in small bowl for the salsa. When quiche is done, let stand 10 minutes before cutting into 8 slices. Serve topped with the salsa.

ASPARAGUS FRITTATA

1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) egg substitute
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese
1/4 cup skim milk
No-stick cooking spray
10 fresh asparagus spears, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon  salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium tomato, chopped

Preheat broiler. Mix egg substitute, cheese and milk in medium bowl until well blended; set aside.

Spray medium skillet with ovenproof handle with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Add asparagus, onions, salt and pepper; cook and stir 3 minutes, or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add tomatoes; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add egg-substitute mixture. Reduce heat to low; cover skillet with lid. Cook 12 minutes, or until bottom of frittata is set but top is still slightly moist. Remove lid from skillet.

Place skillet under broiler. Broil 2 minutes, or until top is set but not browned. Cut into 4 wedges to serve.

CARAMELIZED ONION & PARMESAN OMELET

1 tablespoon vegetable margarine
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
4-1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Olive oil no-stick cooking spray
1/4 cup arugula
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For onions: heat margarine and oil in medium saute pan over medium-low heat. When margarine has melted, add onions; stir to coat. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When onions have softened and start to brown, add vinegar.

Cook onions an additional 20 minutes or until very soft and dark brown in color. Reserve 1/3 cup of the onions for omelet. Cool and store remaining onions in an airtight container for another use.

For omelet: lightly spray 10-inch nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Add the reserved onions, arugula and garlic to skillet. Saute 1 minute or until arugula has wilted.

Combine egg substitute, cheese and pepper; pour mixture into skillet. Cook untouched 1 minute or until edges begin to set. Gently pull edges towards center to allow uncooked portion to run beneath. Repeat twice; cover with lid. Continue cooking 1 to 2 minutes more or until center is set.

Fold omelet in half. Cut in half; serve immediately. Serves 2.

 

 
Pasta, Plain and Simple | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 11 June 2015 14:45

061115fVersatile pasta is one of the best bets for a quick, informal supper. Pasta-centered meals are not only easy to prepare, they also help tip the nutritional balance in a healthful direction.

Pasta contains almost no fat and a plain cup of cooked pasta has about 5 grams of protein, but only 160 calories.

Cook pasta according to package directions in a large quantity of boiling water, leaving plenty of room for it to move around as it boils. To help prevent sticking, add a splash of olive oil to the boiling water, then drop the pasta in slowly. Do not cover or it will boil over.

BAKED RAVIOLI

2 (25-ounce) packages frozen cheese ravioli
4 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with juice
4 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced

In a medium stock pot, combine the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chopped onion, Italian seasoning, salt and water. Stir in the minced garlic in quantity desired. Allow mixture to simmer for 2 hours. If sauce seems dry add additional water.

In large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the ravioli until done. Drain. In a 9x13-inch pan, layer sauce and cooked ravioli. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and grated mozzarella cheese.

Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 30 minutes, or until light golden brown. Let cool 15 minutes before serving. Yields 6 to 8 servings.

PASTA WITH KALE, BACON & SUN DRIED TOMATOES

8 ounces small-shaped pasta
5 cups bagged prewashed kale
2 slices bacon
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Cook pasta in boiling water 8 minutes or until almost tender. Add kale, and cook 2 minutes. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

While pasta cooks, fry bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat 4 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon; crumble and set aside.

Reduce skillet heat to medium-low. Add sun-dried tomatoes, crushed red pepper and garlic to bacon drippings, and cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add pasta mixture, reserved 1/2 cup cooking liquid, black pepper and salt to pan; toss to combine.

Top pasta mixture evenly with bacon and cheese; drizzle evenly with lemon juice.

Yields 4 servings.

ITALIAN SPAGHETTI WITH MARINARA

1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3-1/2 cups cooked tomatoes
1 green pepper, minced
Dash of red pepper
8 ounces spaghetti, cooked according to directions
Freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Simmer all ingredients about 1 hour in a heavy skillet. Pour sauce over hot, drained spaghetti on a hot platter. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Serves 6 to 8.

PASTA WITH OLIVES & SAUSAGE

1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound low-fat Italian turkey or chicken sausage
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoons crushed red pepper, optional
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 cup drained large black ripe pitted olives
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 dried bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon each dried rosemary and oregano
1 pound farfalle (butterflies), penne or other pasta
Finely shredded Parmesan

In large saucepan, cook onion in olive oil over medium-low heat until soft, stirring occasionally. Remove sausage from casings and crumble into pan. Add garlic and crushed red pepper.

Increase heat to medium-high; stir and cook until sausage is brown. Stir in tomatoes with liquid, olives, tomato paste and herbs. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer gently 15 to 20 minutes.

Cook pasta in 6 quarts boiling, salted water just until tender. Drain well. Turn pasta into serving bowl and toss with sauce. Top with cheese.

Yields about 6 servings.

Red Wine Sauce: If desired, add 1/2 cup red wine after browning sausage. Simmer 5 minutes, then proceed with recipe as directed.

Notes: If using regular sausage, drain off excess fat after browning.

Two teaspoons Italian herb seasoning can be used instead of basil, rosemary and oregano

 

 
Strawberry Shortcuts | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 04 June 2015 17:32

060415fJune means it’s peak season for  California strawberries.

Most come from the fields around Watsonville, just south of the Bay Area, so we’re getting them after a relatively short trip. That’s important because strawberries don’t  ripen after harvest and are best when eaten soon after picking.

Select dry berries that are plump and glossy, and bright red all the way around—with no “white shoulders.”

If you must store them before use, refrigerate the unwashed berries between layers of paper towels, never in plastic bags.

The green caps should be removed after washing to keep water from getting inside.

To boost the flavor of fresh berries, 20 to 30 minutes before serving, wash, hull and slice. Toss with sugar to taste, let sit for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar for every cup of sliced berries.

BAKED STRAWBERRIES

5 tablespoons margarine
1 quart strawberries
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons orange liqueur
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

Run 1 tablespoon margarine on bottom sides of 2-quart baking dish. Rinse and stem berries and place in dish. Sprinkle orange juice and 2 tablespoons orange liqueur over berries. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs and brown sugar over berries. Smooth lightly with hands.

Melt remaining margarine and drizzle over top. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE

For the strawberries:
3 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 pounds strawberries, stemmed and quartered
For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1--1/2 cups heavy cream
For the whipped cream:
1-1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
3 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

Mix strawberries with 3 tablespoons sugar and refrigerate while juices develop, at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add heavy cream and mix until just combined. Place mixture in an ungreased 8-inch square pan and bake until golden, 18 to 20 minutes.

Place a metal bowl and beaters in the freezer during shortcake cooking time.

Remove shortcake from pan and place on a rack to cool slightly. Cut into 6 pieces and split each piece in half horizontally.

Mix all whipped cream ingredients in the metal bowl with metal beaters about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes.

Spoon some of the strawberries with their juice onto each shortcake bottom. Top with a generous dollop of whipped cream and then the shortcake top. Spoon more strawberries over the top and serve. Yields 6 servings.

STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB PIE

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 pound fresh rhubarb, chopped
2 pints fresh strawberries
1 recipe pastry for a 9-inch double crust pie
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a large bowl, mix flour and sugar. Add strawberries and chopped rhubarb. Toss with sugar and flour and let stand for 30 minutes.

Pour filling into pie crust. Dot top with butter, and cover with top crust. Seal edges of top and bottom crust with water. Apply yolk to top of pie, using a pastry brush. Sprinkle with sugar. Cut small holes in top to let steam escape.

Bake at 400°F for 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly and brown. Cool on rack.

STRAWBERRY COBBLER

4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
2 cups of sliced strawberries
1 tablespoon sugar

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position, and heat oven to 350°F.

Put butter in an 8-inch square or 9-inch round pan; set in oven to melt. When butter has melted, remove pan from oven.

Whisk flour, 3/4 cup of sugar, baking powder and salt in small bowl. Add milk; whisk to form a smooth batter. Pour batter into pan, then scatter strawberries or other fruit over batter. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Bake until batter browns and fruit bubbles, 50 to 60 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream or a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired. Serves 4.

STRAWBERRY & CHICKEN SALAD

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped prepared chutney
1 teaspoon each grated lime peel, salt and curry powder
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1-1/2 pints fresh strawberries, stemmed, divided
Lettuce leaves

In large bowl mix mayonnaise, chutney, lime peel, salt, curry powder and lime juice. Add chicken, celery and onion; toss, cover and chill. Just before serving, slice 1 pint of the strawberries; gently toss with chicken mixture. To assemble salad, line platter or individual serving plates with lettuce. Mound chicken mixture in center. Garnish with whole strawberries. Makes 4 servings.

STRAWBERRY LASSI

If you’ve never tried a Lassi, this is a quick and easy treat you’ll want to make again and again.

8 ounces fresh strawberries, trimmed and halved
1 (8-ounce) container strawberry-flavored Greek yogurt (or plain Greek yogurt)
1 cup crushed ice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Tiny pinch salt
1-2 tablespoons agave syrup (if needed)

Put all ingredients except agave in a blender, put the lid on and blend on high speed until smooth and light pink.

Taste and add agave as needed; some strawberries are sweeter than others, so adjust sweetener to your taste. (Also, if you end up using plain unsweetened yogurt, you may find you need more sweetener.) Blend on high to combine.

Pour into pretty glasses and serve. This looks particularly beautiful and festive in stemmed or frosted glasses. Serves 3-4.

STRAWBERRY-CHOCOLATE DEVIL’S CAKE SPLIT

1-1/2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar, divided
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups halved strawberries
6 devil’s food cupcakes
6 tablespoons chocolate syrup or fudge topping

Ahead of time, bake your favorite chocolate devil’s food cake recipe as cupcakes.

In large mixer bowl, combine cream, 2 tablespoons of sugar, cocoa and vanilla; beat to form soft peaks. Set aside. In medium bowl, combine strawberries and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar; toss lightly. To assemble, cut cupcakes horizontally in half. Place bottom of each cupcake on individual serving plate; top with 1/2 cup strawberries and 1/3 cup cream mixture. Cover with cupcake top; garnish with remaining cream mixture and strawberries. Drizzle each serving with 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup. Makes 6 servings.

 

 
Feeling Your Oats | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 28 May 2015 16:27

052815fFor many of us, morning oatmeal is a passion, more for its great taste, than for its nutritional value. Cooked with raisins and served with brown sugar – and maybe a little cinnamon – well...it’s like a bowl of oatmeal cookies for breakfast.

Although third in popularity to wheat and corn, oats are the most nutritious of the cereal grasses, an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals.

And, if you don’t particularly like oatmeal, there are many ways of incorporating oats into all three meals each day.

CLASSIC MEATLOAF

1 to 1/2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey
3/4 cup quick or old-fashioned oats, uncooked
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup ketchup
1 egg (or equivalent egg substitute) lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in large bowl; mix lightly but thoroughly. Shape meatloaf mixture into 10 x 6-inch loaf on rack of broiler pan.

Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until meatloaf is at medium doneness (160°F for beef, 170°F for turkey), not pink in center and juices show no pink color. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Cover and refrigerate leftovers promptly and use within 2 days, or wrap airtight and freeze up to 3 months. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

OAT PILAF

1/2 cup each chopped red and yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-3/4 cups oatmeal
2 egg whites
3/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves or 2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook peppers, mushrooms, green onions and garlic in oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. In large bowl, mix oats and egg whites until oats are evenly coated. Add oats to vegetable mixture in skillet.

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until oats are dry and separated, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add broth, basil, salt and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Serve immediately. Serves 8.

GLUTEN-FREE OATMEAL COOKIES

1/4 cup butter
1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups rolled oats (oatmeal)
3/4 cups brown sugar
6 ounces chocolate chips
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar and butter and beat until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla and baking soda and mix well. Add peanut butter and mix. Stir in oats, chocolate chips and nuts.

Place teaspoonsful of dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly brown around edges. Yields about 48 cookies.

OATMEAL BREAD

6 cups (about) flour
2-1/2 cups quick oatmeal or rolled oats (uncooked)
1/4 cup sugar
2 (1/4-ounce) packages (about 4-1/2 teaspoons) quick-rising yeast
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 cups water
1-1/4 cups low-fat milk
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) margarine or butter

In large bowl, combine 3 cups flour, oats, sugar, yeast and salt; mix well. In small saucepan, heat water, milk and margarine until very warm (120°F to 130°F). Add to flour mixture. Blend on low speed of electric mixer until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed; beat 3 minutes. By hand, gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead 5 to 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Shape dough into ball; place in greased bowl, turning once. Cover; let rise in warm place 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Punch down dough. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Divide dough in half; shape to form loaves. Place in two greased 8 x 4 or 9 x 5-inch loaf pans. Cover; let rise in warm place 15 minutes or until nearly doubled in size.

Heat oven to 375°F. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until dark golden brown. Remove from pans to wire rack. Cool completely before slicing. If desired, (and before baking), brush tops of loaves lightly with melted butter and sprinkle with additional oats. Makes 2 loaves.

OATMEAL CAKE

1/2 cup soft butter or margarine
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons flour
1-1/4 cup rye flour
1 cup rolled oats (oatmeal)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1-1/4 cup milk
Coconut Frosting

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, mix. Combine dry ingredients. Alternately add dry ingredients and milk to creamed mixture (batter will be thin). Pour into greased 9×13-inch pan. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Coconut Frosting

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine (softened)
4-1/2 teaspoons light cream (or whole milk)
1 cup shredded coconut

Mix ingredients until well blended. Spread on warm cake. Broil until frosting is golden brown (approximately 5 minutes).

Makes enough to cover a 9x13-inch pan.

CRANBERRY-GINGER OAT SCONES

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter or margarine, chilled, cut into pieces
3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 egg
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Heat oven to 400°F.

In large bowl, combine flour, oats, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking soda and salt; mix well.

Work butter into dry ingredients with fork or fingertips until mixture resembles small peas. Stir in cranberries. In small bowl, combine yogurt and egg; blend well. Add to dry ingredients all at once; stir with fork until soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto floured surface; knead gently 8 to 10 times. Transfer to an ungreased cookie sheet. Pat into 8-inch diameter circle; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Cut into 8 wedges; separate wedges slightly.

Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until light golden brown. Separate wedges; transfer to cooling rack.

Serve warm. Makes 8 scones.

Chef’s Note: For biscuits and scones that are light, tender and flaky, cut chilled butter or margarine into dry ingredients until particles are the size of coarse crumbs. After adding liquids, handle dough as gently and as little as possible.

CAPTION: A delicious, more nutritious meatloaf made with rolled oats.


 
Prime Time for Artichokes | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 21 May 2015 13:41

052115fIf you’re lucky enough to have artichokes in your backyard garden (and they are easy to grow here), you’ve probably been enjoying them for the past couple of weeks. But if not, you’ll find plenty of them on local produce shelves or at the Farmers’ Market.

Real fans might want to drive down to the 56th Annual Artichoke Festival in Castroville over the May 30-31 weekend (visit artichokefestival.org). Most of the nation’s supply come from that part of California.

To cook artichokes, wash them under cold running water. Peel the stems at the base and remove the small bottom leaves. Stand artichokes upright in a deep saucepan large enough to hold them snugly. Add 1 teaspoon salt and two to three inches boiling water. (Add lemon juice, herbs, garlic powder or onion powder, if desired.)

Cover and boil gently 35 to 45 minutes or until base can be pierced easily with fork. (Add a little more boiling water, if needed.) Turn artichokes upside down to drain. Serve hot or cover and refrigerate to chill.

There are, of course, many way of serving artichokes—stuffing them or incorporating them into other dishes. But that often takes more fussing than true artichoke lovers have the patience for. The easiest way to serve them is with a favorite dipping sauce.

For the novice, here’s how to eat them. Pull off the outer petals one at a time, dip, and draw the end through your front teeth, scraping off the edible pulp from the inside of the leaf. When you reach the purple cone of light-colored leaves,  scrape away the fuzzy portion with a spoon to reveal the artichoke heart which extends down into the stem. Cut into bite-sized pieces, dip and enjoy.

HERBED MAYONNAISE

1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon each chopped parsley and chives (or green onions, green part only)
1/4 teaspoon tarragon

Mix all ingredients well and serve with cooked artichokes.

HONEY-MUSTARD DIPPING SAUCE

1/4 cup prepared mustard
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Makes about 3/4 cup.

HERBED BUTTER SAUCE

1-1/2 cups dry white wine
1/3 cup minced shallots
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon oregano, crushed
3 tablespoons butter, chilled
1 tablespoon minced parsley

In small saucepan, heat wine and shallots over medium heat until mixture is reduced to about 3/4 cup. Add lemon juice and oregano. Cool slightly, return pan to low heat. Slowly add butter in small amounts, stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Garnish with parsley and serve with hot or cold artichokes. Makes 4 servings.

LOW-FAT RANCH DIP

1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/4 cup lowfat Ranch salad dressing

Combine ingredients and mix well. Makes 1/2 cup.

ROASTED ARTICHOKES

4 large artichokes
1-1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1 small bay leaf
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

Using a serrated knife, cut off the top third of each artichoke. Cut off the thorns from the remaining leaves with scissors. Cut off all but 1/2 inch of the stem.

Quarter each artichoke and place in a large pot with 1 tablespoon salt, the peppercorns, mustard seed, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, thyme, garlic, 2 tablespoons oil and the juice of the lemon. Add the lemon half, then cover with water.

Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until you can easily remove an inner leaf, about 25 minutes. (Err on the undercooked side, as the artichokes will be cooked further.) Drain the artichokes on several thicknesses of paper towels and let cool.

Preheat over to 375°F. Using a spoon, scoop out the fibrous choke and prickly inner leaves from each artichoke quarter.

Place quarters in bowl and toss gently with remaining oil, 1/2 tablespoon salt and several grinds of pepper. Spread the quarters heart-side up on a baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes, until golden brown with crisp edges. Serves 4.

 

 
Awesome Asparagus | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 14 May 2015 15:14

051415fCalifornia asparagus, the aristocrat of spring vegetables, is at its peak right now. The fact that the harvest is right next door is a big plus.

The closer, the better, since the natural sugar in asparagus can disappear very quickly. So, cook asparagus as soon as possible to ensure peak flavor.

If you must store it, trim the bottom of the spears and stand the asparagus, covered in a plastic bag, in an inch of water in the refridgerator to keep for a few days.

Asparagus can be as thin as a pencil or thicker than your thumb. Everyone seems to  have a preference, although the spears come from the same plants and they all taste pretty much alike.

Asparagus can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, grilled, roasted or incorporated into casseroles and salads. The key is just to “cook it briefly.”

Devotees like its unadorned flavor, but it’s nice to have a few recipes that add a note or two.

BRAISED ASPARAGUS

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons butter

Heat oil in a 12-inch straight-sided sauté pan over high heat until lightly smoking. Add asparagus in as close to a single layer as possible, season with salt and pepper, and cook without moving until lightly browned, about 1-1/2 minutes. Shake pan and cook until browned again, 1-1/2 minutes longer. Add stock and butter to pan and immediately cover.

Continue to cook until asparagus is completely tender and stock and butter have emulsified and reduced to a shiny glaze, 7 to 10 minutes. If stock completely evaporates and butter starts to burn before asparagus is cooked through, top up with a few tablespoons of water. Serve immediately. Yields 4 servings.

SPRING ASPARAGUS AU GRATIN

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup minced onions
2 cups bias-sliced asparagus pieces about 1-inch long
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups cooked linguini
1 ripe tomato, chopped
2/3 cup shredded Swiss or Mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon grated
Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup vegetable broth, tomato juice or water

Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onions, asparagus, fennel and thyme; saute 2 minutes.

Place pasta in 2-1/2-quart ovenproof casserole. Top with sauteed vegetables, chopped tomatoes and cheeses. Pour broth, over all and bake uncovered in 350°F oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is golden and vegetables are heated through. Serves 4.

CREAM OF ASPARAGUS SOUP

1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
6 cups chicken stock
1 pint sour cream, room temperature
2 teaspoons Hungarian hot paprika, for garnish

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add asparagus and sauté another 4 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes, until asparagus is very tender.

Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. Release one corner of the lid to prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the blender, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.

Return to saucepan, stir in sour cream and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to serving bowls. Dust with paprika and serve. Yields 4 servings.

ASPARAGUS QUICHE

1 tablespoon butter
1 leek (white and light green parts only), halved, thinly sliced, then well washed
Salt and freshly, ground pepper
1 pound asparagus, tough ends removed, thinly sliced on the diagonal
4 large eggs
1-1/4 cups half-and-half
Ground nutmeg
Favorite pie crust, fitted into a 9-inch pie plate, well chilled
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (4 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350°F, with rack in lowest position. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add leek and asparagus; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes; let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, 1/2 teaspoon salt, teaspoon pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. Place pie crust on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with cheese; top with asparagus mixture. Pour egg mixture on top.

Bake until center of quiche is just set, 50 to 60 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. Yields 6 servings.

 

 
For Mom, a Few of Her Favorite Things | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 07 May 2015 11:24

050715f2Sunday is Mother’s Day. Like you could forget, with all the reminders being trumpeted at you on TV, on the store shelves and, yes, right here in this newspaper.

So, after you’ve gotten the card, the flowers, the chocolates, what can you do that will make Mom feel really special? A lot of people take their Moms out for brunch on Mother’s Day. But it can be fun to stay home, too, especially if you use your cooking skills to make something special.

FRENCH CROISSANT TOAST

French Toast:
4 croissants, split in half lengthwise
4 eggs
1 cup half-and-half
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
Cinnamon Sugar:
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Combine eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Dip croissants into the mixture, coating completely.

In a large skillet, melt butter. Add egg-coated croissants and sauté until golden brown, turning once. Keep toast warm (for up to 30 minutes) by placing it on a cooking sheet in preheated 300°F oven.

To serve, drizzle with more melted butter, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Serves 4.

FRESH APPLE MUFFINS

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1-3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup milk
1 cup chopped peeled apple
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cream butter and brown sugar in mixer bowl until light. Beat in eggs until smooth.

Combine flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon in another bowl and stir well. Add to creamed mixture with milk, apple raisins and walnuts. Gently beat with spoon until all ingredients are just mixed.

Spoon batter into greased or paper-lined muffin tins, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake at 425°F about 15 minutes, or until wood pick comes out clean when inserted in center. Remove from oven and serve warm. Makes about 12 to 14 medium muffins.

STRAWBERRIES WITH SOUR CREAM

4 cups strawberries, rinsed and drained
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup brown sugar

In a small bowl, mix sour cream with lemon juice and lemon peel. Serve sour cream mixture and brown sugar as dips one and two alongside strawberries. Serves about 8.

FLUFFY BAKED OMELET

3 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon butter
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons finely grated Cheddar cheese

Beat eggs yolks until thick. Set aside. Beat egg whites until frothy in large mixing bowl. Add water and continue beating until soft peaks form.

Heat butter in 9-1/2 inch oven-proof skillet until bubbly, but not brown. Tip pan to coat sides.

Fold egg yolks into whites. Pour egg mixture into pan and cook, without stirring, over low heat, until egg mixture is puffed, set and golden brown on bottom, 2 to 3 minutes.

Place pan in 325°F oven and bake until knife inserted near center comes out clean, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and loosen sides of omelet with metal spatula. Season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with cheese.

Make score across omelet slightly off center. Fold small side over larger.

Makes 1 to 2 servings.

TROPICAL ISLAND SMOOTHIE

1 medium-size banana
1 cup cubed and crushed pineapple with juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
6 to 8 ice cubes

Combine all the ingredients in the blender container. Blend on high speed for about thirty seconds. Stop the blender and use a table knife or a thin rubber spatula to stir and move any remaining solid ingredients around the blade. Cover and process on high speed for about 30 more seconds or until the ice is completely crushed and the drink is smooth and creamy.



 
Cinco de Mayo: Celebrating a 163-year-old Mexican Victory | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 30 April 2015 12:22

043015fTuesday is Cinco de Mayo, an important national holiday in Mexico, observing the victory of that country’s greatly outnumbered and ill-equipped forces against the invading French forces of Napolean III in the town of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

Although Cinco de Mayo doesn’t have a “typical” menu as do most U.S. holidays, there are some basic foods in Mexico’s rich culinary history which evolved centuries ago when peasant farmers began cultivating chiles, corn, beans, rice and tomatoes. Today, these staples have become traditional favorites for most of us who live north of the border, too.

TACOS RANCHEROS

1/2 pound sausage
1/2 pound ground beef
1 package taco seasoning mix
8 taco shells
1/2 head lettuce, shredded
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 cup sour cream
1 cup thick, chunky salsa

In a large skillet, brown sausage and ground beef until no longer pink. Add taco seasoning mix according to package directions. Fill taco shells evenly with meat mixture and garnish with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, sour cream and salsa. Serves 4.

CHUNKY SALSA

2 cups diced tomatoes
1/2 cup diced onions
1 tablespoon oil
1 to 2 tablespoons jalapeños, finely diced
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon Mexican dried leaf oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

Dice tomatoes and onions into 1/4-inch pieces and combine with jalapeños, oil, vinegar, lime juice, oregano, salt and cilantro in large glass mixing bowl.

Taste and add additional salt if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Roasting Peppers

Roasted chiles and peppers are frequently called for in Mexican cooking. Simply hold the chiles  over an open flame with kitchen tongs, turning them frequently so the skins blister evenly. Then wrap them in a cloth and let them steam for 3 to 4 minutes before removing the skin under cold, running water. Remove seeds and membranes. Or, to save time, use canned chiles.

REFRIED BEANS

1 pound dried pinto beans
6 cups water
1-1/2 cups chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon dried ground chili peppers
1/4 cup lard or other fat

Select a large enough pot to hold at least 3 to 4 times the volume of beans comfortably. Bring the water to a rolling boil while you are picking over the beans, removing pebbles and spoiled beans.

Wash the beans and add to the kettle. Boil for only two minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let it rest for one hour. Drain and discard the water.

Add 6 cups of fresh water, half the onions and garlic, and bring to a boil. Cover loosely and cook over low heat for about 2 hours.

Add salt, chili peppers and 1 tablespoon fat. Cook 30 minutes, turning frequently, until beans are very tender. If any liquid remains, drain. Mash beans, heat remaining fat in a large skillet; add remaining onions and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in beans and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.

CHICKEN ENCHILADAS

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 onion, chopped
1/2 pint sour cream
1-3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (15-oz.) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/3 cup chopped bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
8 (10-inch) flour tortillas
1 (12-ounce) jar taco sauce

Preheat oven to 350°F

Cook chicken in a medium, non-stick skillet over medium heat  until no longer pink and juices run clear. Drain excess fat.

Cube the chicken and return it to the skillet. Add the onion, sour cream, 1 cup of the Cheddar cheese, parsley, oregano and ground black pepper. Heat until cheese melts. Stir in salt, tomato sauce, water, chili powder, green pepper and garlic.

Roll even amounts of the mixture in the tortillas. Arrange in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Cover with taco sauce and the remaining 3/4 cup Cheddar cheese. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving. Yields 8 servings.

CARNE CON PAPPAS

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 medium potatoes, diced into 1-inch squares
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 (1-pound) thinly sliced beef sirloin tip steak
1-1/2 cups mild salsa

Heat olive oil in large skillet.

Add diced potatoes and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes begin to soften. Add onions, salt, pepper, sliced meat. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add salsa and stir. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Serve directly from pan or from a large bowl. Yields 4 servings.

 

 
Stalk Up on Spring Rhubarb | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 23 April 2015 15:12

042315fFellow rhubarb lovers, it’s our season again. Those bright red stalks have started showing up at Farmers’ Markets and grocery produce bins, and that means it’s time for pie!

For those who’ve never tasted rhubarb — and there are a lot of you out there — you’ve been missing one of the real treats of spring.

While technically a vegetable, rhubarb is mainly eaten as a fruit in desserts, usually pie.

The plant makes a beautiful addition to any garden with its huge green, crinkly leaves, although it does take up a lot of room. One caution about those leaves—they’re toxic. That’s why they’re removed before the stalks show up in the market.

Buy rhubarb that is firm, crisp and well-colored (pink or red), avoiding any stalks that are limp or pithy. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it unwashed as soon as you bring it home.

Use it as soon as possible, washing the stalks at that time and removing any leaf remnants. Young stalks don’t need to be peeled.

A pound of rhubarb yields about three cups sliced. The general guideline for sweetening is 1/3 to 1/2 cup of sugar per pound, but it is a matter of variety and personal preference.

ELEGANT RHUBARB CUSTARD PIE

Filling:
1-1/2 pounds rhubarb (about 4 cups), cut into 1/4-inch slices
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 9-inch single-crust pastry
Topping:
3 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons sugar

For the filling, combine rhubarb slices with sugar, flour, lemon juice and salt in a bowl. Toss to mix and turn into pie shell. Bake in hot oven at 400°F for 20 minutes.

For the topping, beat eggs slightly in a bowl. Stir in cream, butter and nutmeg to blend. Pour over rhubarb in pie shell and bake another 10 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar and bake 10 more minutes or until the top is browned.

Cool before cutting. Yields 6 servings.

RHUBARB CHIFFON PIE

Pastry for 9-inch double-crust pie
3 large stalks of rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange peel

Put rhubarb chunks in pie shell. Mix sugar, flour and butter, add eggs and orange rind and mix. Pour over rhubarb chunks, top with crust, sealing edges, and bake in preheated 400°F oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until done.

RHUBARB & STRAWBERRY PIE

1 cup sugar
3 cups rhubarb stalks cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup strawberries, stemmed and sliced
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of grated orange peel
Unbaked pastry for two-crust 9-inch pie

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Mix rhubarb and strawberries with the sugar, tapioca, salt, and orange rind. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Turn into a pastry lined pan. Top with the pastry, trim the edge, and crimp the top and bottom edges together. Cut slits in the top for the steam to escape.

Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 350°F, and bake an additional 30-40 minutes longer. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or cold. If you do cool to room temperature, the juices will have more time to thicken.

RHUBARB CHEESECAKE

1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell
3 cups chopped fresh rhubarb
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
8 ounces sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a medium bowl, toss the rhubarb with 1/2 cup of sugar and the flour. Pour into the pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove, and allow to cool. Lower oven temperature to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese and 1/2 cup of sugar until smooth. Stir in the eggs one at a time until each is blended. Pour this mixture over the rhubarb in the crust.

Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until set. Remove from the oven, and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and vanilla. Spread over the top of the pie while it is hot. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled before serving. Serves 8.

RHUBARB SAUCE

In a small saucepan, bring 1/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil. Add 2-1/4 cups sliced rhubarb; cook and stir for 5-10 minutes or until rhubarb is tender and mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg. Yields 1-1/4 cups. Serve warm over ice cream.

 

 
RICE – The Long and Short of It | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 16 April 2015 14:06

041615fRice has been around for a long time. It dates back to at least 7000 B.C., feeding billions of people and becoming the staple for half the world’s population.

Technically a grass, rice is available in three basic styles: long-, medium- or short-grained.

Short-grain rice is high in starch and stickier than other rices and is often used in Asian cooking. Arborio, a prized short-grain rice, is a mainstay in risotto.

Medium-grain rice is slightly sticky. It cooks up tender and plump with a mild flavor and can be used in a variety of dishes.

Long-grain white rice is the most common variety used in America. It has a neutral taste and firm texture, and remains separate and fluffy when cooked. Such long-grain rices as jasmine and basmati are aromatic and are good paired with stir-fry and other Asian and Indian dishes, or used in pilafs.

BASIC RISOTTO

Risotto is a popular Northern Italian method of cooking short-grained arborio rice in a broth to a creamy consistency.

1/4 cup onions, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 cups arborio rice
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water

Sauté onions in olive oil until they are soft. Add the rice, stirring for 2 minutes to coat the rice. Add 1/4 cup of the stock and simmer, stirring. When most of the stock has been absorbed, add 3/4 cup water. Stir until the water is almost gone. Add remaining stock and simmer until it is absorbed. Add water and repeat. Taste. If rice is still hard, add more water or stock and continue to simmer and stir until done. Serves 4.

Enrichments: Add 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese when cooked. Add white wine in place of water.

MUSHROOM RICE

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup long-grained rice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chicken stock

Cook mushrooms in butter in large, heavy saucepan until tender and any liquid is absorbed. Add rice, salt and chicken stock and stir. Bring to boil, cover lightly and cook over very low heat until rice is tender and stock is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

CHINESE RICE WITH VEGETABLES

1 cup uncooked white rice
2 cups water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups any combination of:
• frozen mixed vegetables
• julienned carrots
• chopped green pepper
• broccoli flowerets
Salt and black pepper

Combine rice, water, soy sauce and oil in 2 to 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir once or twice. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Add vegetables. Cover; simmer 5 minutes or until rice and vegetables are tender and liquid is absorbed. Season to taste. Serves 6.

SPANISH RICE

1 medium onion, chopped
1 (28-oz) can chopped tomatoes
1 green pepper, finely chopped
6 slices bacon
1 cup water
3/4 cup long grain rice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
5 drops hot sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Pinch of ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder

In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp, then drain on paper towels. Crumble the bacon and set it  aside. Save 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings and add the  onion and green pepper. Cook until tender but still crispy.

Stir in the can of tomatoes with juice, cold water, long grain rice, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, chili powder, pepper and hot sauce.

Reduce heat to low, cover with a tight fitting lid, simmer 30 minutes until rice is done. Top with bacon. Serves 4.

DIRTY RICE

1/2 pound bacon
1/2 pound ground pork
1 pound ground chicken livers
1 large onion, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 ribs celery, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
5 cups cooked rice, at room temperature
4 green onions & tops, minced
1/4 cup parsley, minced

In a heavy Dutch oven, saute bacon, pork and livers until very brown. Let the meat stick to the skillet a bit before stirring. Add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic and cook until they are wilted.

Add chicken broth, bay leaf, thyme, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Add rice and toss the mixture until rice is hot. Stir in green onions and parsley. Adjust seasonings.  Serves 8 to 10.

 

 

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