A Passion for Pumpkin | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 23 October 2014 13:30

102314fFrom October to December, everything — bagels, bread, cookies, ice cream, scones — seems to contain pumpkin. And for good reason.

It’s our passion for pumpkin and all those spices that go into pumpkin dishes — cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, mace...

So get your taste buds ready for the annual onslaught!

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE

For the crust
1-1/4 cups graham-cracker crumbs (from 10 whole crackers)
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
For the filling:
4 packages (8 ounces each) bar cream cheese, very soft
1-1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup canned pumpkin purée
2tablespoons pumpkin-pie spice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350°F, with rack in center.

Assemble a 9-inch nonstick springform pan, with the raised side of the bottom part facing up.

Make the crust: In a medium bowl, mix cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter until moistened; press firmly into bottom of pan. Bake until golden around edges, 10 to 12 minutes.

Make the filling: With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on low speed until smooth; mix in flour (do not overmix). Add pumpkin purée, pie spice, vanilla, and salt; mix just until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next.

Place springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour filling into springform, and gently smooth top. Transfer to oven; reduce oven heat to 300°F. Bake 45 minutes. Turn off oven; let cheesecake stay in oven 2 hours more (without opening).

Remove from oven; cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours. Unmold before serving.

PUMPKIN FUDGE

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 cup solid-pack pumpkin
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 (12-ounce) package of butterscotch morsels
1 (7-ounce jar) marshmallow creme
1 cup chopped almonds, toasted
1 teaspoon vanilla

In heavy saucepan, combine sugar, butter milk, pumpkin and spices; bring to boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling over medium heat, stirring, until mixture reaches 234°F on candy thermometer.

Remove from heat and stir in butterscotch morsels. Add marshmallow creme, nuts and vanilla, mixing until well-blended. Quickly pour into greased 13-by-9-inch baking pan, spreading just until even. Cool at room temperature; cut into squares. Store tightly wrapped in refrigerator.

LATTICE PUMPKIN TART

2 (9-inch) refrigerated pie dough discs
1 cup pumpkin puree, unsweetened
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 egg, large, lightly beaten
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Roll out 1 pie dough disc on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thick. Press crust into tart pan and prick bottom several times with a fork.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly golden. Allow to cool.

Combine pumpkin, cream, egg, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt until completely blended. Pour into cooled tart shell.

To make lattice — roll out remaining dough disc 1/8-inch thick. Using a pastry wheel or knife, cut ten 3/4-inch wide strips (the number of strips required will vary depending on your spacing). Weave strips on top of pumpkin filling.

Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

Bake tart for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and bake an additional 30 to 35 minutes or until filling is set.

Allow tart to completely cool before serving.

PUMPKIN-CRANBERRY BREAD

3 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups granulated sugar
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (thawed)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9x5-inch loaf pans.

Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, vegetable oil and orange juice in large mixer bowl; beat until just blended. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Fold in cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans.

Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Yields two 9x5-inch loaves.

PUMPKIN GINGERBREAD

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup butter or margarine
2 large eggs
1 can (1 pound) pumpkin
1/2 cup light molasses
1/4 cup milk
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Whipped cream

In a large bowl, stir together flours, sugar and spices. With a pastry blender or your fingers, cut or rub in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Set aside 2/3 cup of the mixture.

In a small bowl, beat eggs, pumpkin, molasses, milk and baking soda to blend. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just evenly moistened. Pour into a greased 8- by 12-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with reserved flour mixture.

Bake in a 350°F oven until top is firm to touch, about 50 minutes. Serve warm, adding whipped cream to taste. Serves 8 to 10.

 

 
Little Sprouts are Big on Flavor and Nutrition | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 16 October 2014 14:54

101614fAs the baby in the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts, are one of the world’s healthiest foods. But not the most popular.

A big reason why they’re so unliked by so many is because of over-cooking, which leaves them soft and gray, bitter-tasting and with an unpleasant odor. When boiling or steaming, three to six minutes is usually enough time to cook them sufficiently, while retaining some crispness.

There are an abundance of recipes championing the use of sprouts in cooking.

STEAMED BRUSSELS SPROUTS

1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts
4-6 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, chopped
Salt and Pepper
1 teaspoon  fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

Remove ragged or old-looking outer leaves on the brussels sprouts and discard. Steam the Brussels sprouts for 3 minutes or until just tender. They should be almost cooked all the way through (split one in half to test). Place the sprouts in a bowl of ice water, this will keep their color bright green. Cut the sprouts into halves.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add 2-3 tablespoons more of butter and the brussels sprouts halves. Increase the heat to medium high and cook for several more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste, while the brussels sprouts are cooking.

Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and half of the toasted almonds. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place in serving dish and garnish with the rest of the toasted almonds. Serves 6-8.

GRATIN OF BRUSSELS SPROUTS

1-1/2 cup whipping cream
2 pounds Brussels sprouts
Salt and pepper to taste
3 slices of bacon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons grated Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 450°F. Lightly butter a medium-size gratin dish.

In a small saucepan, simmer cream over medium heat until it is reduced to 3/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Trim base of sprouts, discard tough outer leaves and rinse well. Place sprouts in a medium-size saucepan with salt to taste and water to cover. Bring to boil and continue to boil for 1 minute. Drain and refresh sprouts under cold running water.

Saute bacon in small skillet until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels and chop coarsely.

Combine sprouts and bacon in buttered gratin dish and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour cream over sprouts and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until nicely browned and crispy on top, about 15 minutes. Serves 4.

PAN-BROWNED BRUSSELS SPROUTS

1/2 pound Brussels sprouts
2 large garlic cloves
1-1/2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts

Trim Brussels sprouts and halve lengthwise. Cut garlic into very thin slices. In a 10-inch heavy skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter with oil over moderate heat and cook garlic, stirring, until pale golden. Transfer garlic with a slotted spoon to a small bowl.

Reduce heat to low and arrange sprouts in one layer in skillet, cut sides down. Sprinkle sprouts with pine nuts and salt to taste. Cook sprouts, without turning, until crisp-tender and undersides are golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Transfer sprouts to plate, browned sides up. Add garlic and remaining butter to skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until pine nuts are more evenly pale golden, about 1 minute. Spoon mixture over sprouts and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Serves 2.

ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS

1-1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons good olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and discard any yellow or ragged outer leaves.

Mix sprouts in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.

Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more salt and serve immediately. Yields 6 servings.

LIGHT, SAVORY BRUSSELS SPROUTS

1/3 cup chicken broth
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed, cut in half
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Heat the chicken broth to simmering. Add the Brussels sprouts and simmer, covered, until tender and the broth has evaporated, about 7 to 8 minutes.

Add the mustard and stir until sprouts are coated and serve immediately. Serves 4.

 

 
Getting Flaky with Coconut | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 09 October 2014 14:15

100914fAside from all of its touted health benefits, coconut is a wonderful tropical addition to many dishes.

We’ve all seen coconuts in the supermarket, but few of us have actually bought one. That’s because opening one requires an intricate set of instructions, a big hammer and a sharp instrument or two.

No, when you need coconut it’s best to avoid the abrasions and smashed thumb, and a whole lot easier to buy it in its flaked or shredded form.

While it is a cooking staple in many Asian countries, in the U.S., most coconut is used in desserts where its flavor and texture make for some really terrific food.

Toasted Coconut

Some of these recipes call for the coconut to be toasted, which is easily done.

To toast, spread coconut on an ungreased baking sheet in a single layer and bake in a 325°F oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. But watch carefully so that it doesn’t burn.

GERMAN’S CHOCOLATE CREAM PIE

Pastry for single-crust pie
4 ounces Baker’s German’s sweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Dash salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Topping:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Additional flaked coconut

Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry; trim and flute edges.

Place the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat until smooth. Remove from the heat; stir in milk. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add the eggs, vanilla and chocolate mixture; mix well. Pour into crust. Sprinkle with coconut and pecans.

Bake at 375°F for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For topping, in a large bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla; beat until stiff peaks form. Spread over pie; sprinkle with additional coconut and pecans. Refrigerate until serving. Serves 8.

COCONUT CARAMEL CAKE

6 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 cup toasted coconut
1-1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 egg, well beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

In 8-inch square baking pan, melt butter with brown sugar and water. Cook, stirring, until well blended. Add toasted coconut; set aside.

Sift together cake flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In mixing bowl, cream butter; stir in dry ingredients. Stir in egg, milk, and vanilla; beat for 1 minute.

Pour batter over coconut mixture. Bake at 350°F for 35 to 45 minutes, until cake is done.

PRIZE-WINNING COCONUT MACAROONS

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
5-1/2 cups flaked coconut
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, flaked coconut and salt. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla using your hands until well blended.

Use an ice cream scoop to drop dough onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about golf ball size.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until coconut is toasted. Makes 1 dozen.

 
Sausage & Suds Festival: San Leandro’s Version of Oktoberfest | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 02 October 2014 18:01

100214fIn some parts of the world, October means Oktoberfest – a time when people gather in the streets to celebrate the coming of fall while enjoying sizzling sausages, music and lots of beer.

You don’t have to go far to celebrate this jubilant event. This Sunday, San Leandro hosts its annual Sausage and Suds Music Festival, a salute to the city’s tradition of sausage-making and its breweries.

Great bands and entertainment are lined up for the day, beginning at 10 a.m. and continuing till 6 p.m. on Parrott Street between East 14th and Washington Avenue.

While a lot of us think of sausages as something to enjoy with fried eggs for breakfast, these Old World delicacies add a special touch to many dishes.

BOCKWURST SANDWICHES WITH ONION-MUSTARD SAUCE

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound white onions, thinly sliced
1 cup canned undiluted beef consommé
2 to 4 tablespoons German coarse-grain mustard
Freshly ground pepper
4 bockwurst sausages
4 sourdough French rolls, split

Prepare a charcoal fire or preheat a broiler.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until they are limp and transparent, about 15 minutes, stirring often. Add the beef consommé and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the mustard, adding freshly ground pepper. Set sauce aside.

Grill or broil the sausages for about 15 minutes, turning to brown all sides. If sausages are thick and were sold not fully cooked, it’s best to parboil them before grilling so cooking will be thorough.

Toast the split French rolls, cut sides down, on the grill. Place a sausage or split sausage in each toasted roll and top with a generous portion of the onion mixture. Serve with cold beer.

JAMBALAYA

1 tablespoon butter
1-1/2 cups diced andouille sausage
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced bell pepper
1/4 cup diced celery
1 clove garlic, chopped
1-1/2 cups diced chicken
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
2 cups parboiled long grain white rice
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon hot sauce
Salt and black pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the sausage, onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic, and saute until the sausage begins to brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the chicken and allow to brown on all sides. Add the herbs and rice, followed by the tomato sauce, stock, hot sauce, and salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered until the rice is tender, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serves 4.

BRATWURST IN BEER SAUCE

4 bratwursts
1 to 2 tablespoons flour
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
1 (12-ounce) bottle dark beer
3 to 4 tablespoons gingersnap crumbs
1 tablespoon grated onion
Salt and pepper
Several tablespoons concentrated beef stock
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Prick bratwurst with a fork to keep them from bursting and dredge them in flour. Melt butter in skillet and fry wurst on both sides. Remove them from skillet and set aside.

Pour beer into skillet and scrape off the browned particles clinging to the side and bottom of the skillet. Sprinkle in the gingersnap crumbs and grated onion and cook together for about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, a little beef stock and lemon juice, and cook for 2 or 3 minutes more. Reduce heat, returning the bratwurst to the skillet and cook until heated through. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

GERMAN SAUSAGE ROLLS

3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup butter or margarine, chilled
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
1 cup buttermilk
6 links (about 2 ounces each) smoked sausage
Grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease 2 baking sheets.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. With a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add Cheddar cheese and buttermilk.

With your hands, quickly work mixture into a soft dough. Shape half of the dough into 1-inch balls. Slice sausage links into about 12 pieces each.

Lightly press 1 sausage slice into each dough ball. Place rolls about 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve immediately. Makes about 4 dozen.

SAUSAGE PIE

1 pound smoked sausage links, cut into 1-inch pieces 
6 russet potatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 head cabbage, coarsely chopped
2cups corn kernels
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
3 tablespoons flour
1-1/2 cups milk
1-1/2 teaspoons salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat oven to 375°F.

Brown sausage in frying pan until golden. Place half of the one-inch pieces into a deep pie dish; add half of the sliced potatoes, then sprinkle with flour and salt. Add half of the cabbage, corn and peppers; repeat to form a second layer. Sprinkle with pepper then pour the milk over the dish. Baked uncovered for 1-1/4 hours. Makes 4 servings.

 
Ushering in a Sweet Jewish New Year | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 25 September 2014 21:27

092514fRosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, began yesterday evening and is observed through Friday.

Meaning “head of the year” the two-day holiday commemorates the creation of the world and marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, a 10-day period of introspection and repentance that culminates in the Yom Kippur holiday, which is considered the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

Foods served during the High Holy Days are meant to sustain the body as well as nourish the soul.

Sliced apples and pieces of challah bread are dipped in honey to signify the hopes for a sweet year ahead.

Honey also finds its way into other dishes, from honey cake to brisket. Here are some favorites.

APPLE SPICED BRISKET

1 tablespoon flour
3 to 4 pound beef brisket (first cut) flat half, boneless
1 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cups apple juice
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 2 tablespoons flour 1/4 cup raisins 1 apple, sliced

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Shake 1 tablespoon flour in a large size (14x20 inch) Reynolds Oven Cooking Bag and place in 13x9x2 inch baking pan.

Prick brisket with fork on both sides; sprinkle with salt. Place brisket, fat side up, in bag.

Combine apple juice, honey and spices; pour over brisket. Close bag with nylon tie; make 6 half inch slits in top.

Bake 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until tender.

In a medium saucepan, dissolve 2 tablespoons flour in small amount of cooking liquid from bag. Stir in remaining cooking liquid, raisins and apple slices. Bring to a boil.

Boil and stir 1-2 minutes to form light gravy. Thinly slice brisket diagonally across grain. Serve with apple raisin gravy.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

WALNUT HONEY CAKE

3/4 cup walnut halves
Butter for pan
1-1/2 cups flour, plus more

1-1/8 cups honey, divided use
1 cup large eggs, at room temperature

3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in center.

Spread walnut halves in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, tossing occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer nuts to a plate, let cool, then pulse in a food processor until finely chopped, about 10 times. Set aside.

Butter and flour an 8-1/2 inch spring-form pan; set aside. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup honey and applesauce; whisk until honey is mostly dissolved.

Add eggs, and whisk until fully combined.

Into a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and ginger. Stir into honey mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold in walnuts.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 55 minutes.

Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cool until sides of cake begin to pull away from pan, about 15 minutes. Remove cake from pan, and place on a serving plate. While cake is still warm, use an offset spatula to gently spread remaining honey on top as a thin glaze. Serve warm. Yields about 10 servings.

PINEAPPLE & COCONUT KUGEL

1 pound broad egg noodles
1 (14-ounce) can crushed pineapple
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup butter
8 eggs, well beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

Boil noodles; drain and place in a bowl. Quickly add eggs, 2/3 cup of the coconut, 2/3 of the butter (melted), vanilla and pineapple with the juice and mix while the noodles are hot. Place mixture in a large Pyrex baking dish and top with the rest of the butter in dabs and the balance of the coconut.

Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

HONEY-BAKED APPLES

1 cup raisins
3 tablespoons Concord grape wine or juice
3/4 cup honey
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
6 large Rome Beauty apples

1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 cups apple juice

1/2 cup apricot preserves

Plump raisins in wine for 1 hour. Add honey, lemon juice and zest.

Wash and core apples. Cut off thin strip at base so apples stand upright. Place apples in baking dish. Fill centers with raisin mixture.

Sprinkle with almonds. Pour apple juice around the apples. Cover with foil and bake at 375°F for 40 minutes.


 
Some Favorites for Fall | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 18 September 2014 13:53

091814fFall is right around the corner, arriving at 7:29 p.m. on Monday. We have already begun seeing hints of the autumn season. Leaves are starting to turn shades of red and brown and the weatherman has even hinted that there could be some light showers in the Bay Area this week.

It’s time of the year when we switch from lighter summer meals to heartier cool weather choices made with the abundance of fruits and vegetables from the fall harvest.

ROASTED FALL VEGETABLES

1 small butternut squash, cubed
2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
3 Yukon Gold (or other baking potatoes), cubed
1 red onion, quartered
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 475°F.

In a large bowl, combine the squash, red bell peppers, sweet potato, and Yukon Gold potatoes. Separate the red onion quarters into pieces, and add them to the mixture.

In a small bowl, stir together thyme, rosemary, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Toss with vegetables until they are coated. Spread evenly on a large roasting pan.

Roast for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, stirring every 10 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through and browned. Yields 12 servings

AUTUMN BEEF STEW

3 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 1-1/2 in. cubes
Salt and ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 medium onions, chopped
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups beef broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 medium red potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup frozen peas
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick

Dry beef thoroughly and season generously with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy-bottomed pot over medium high heat. Add half the meat so that pieces are not touching and cook not moving until brown (about 2-3 minutes). Use tongs and rotate pieces until all sides are browned. Transfer beef to medium bowl, add another tablespoon oil to pan, repeating previous steps with other half of beef.

Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now empty pan and swirl to coat bottom. Add onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, scraping bottom of pan for brown bits until softened (about 5 minutes).

Add garlic and continue to cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the flour and cook until lightly colored (1-2 minutes). Add wine, scraping the bottom and stirring until thick and flour is dissolved.Gradually add beef broth, stirring constantly. Add bay leaves and thyme and return to simmer. Add beef, return to simmer, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer for 1 hour.

Add potatoes and carrots and a slurry of about 1/4 cup broth and 1 tablespoon flour. Leave uncovered, increase heat to medium and cook for another hour. Add peas, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Discard bay leaves, adjust seasoning and serve immediately.  Serves 6 to 8.

CHICKEN POT PIE

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cubed
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1-3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 (9-inch) unbaked pie crusts

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.

In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving. Yields 8 servings.

MEAT LOAF WITH MIXED VEGETABLES

3/4 cup evaporated milk
2 cups soft bread cubes
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 pounds lean ground beef
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1-1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

Pour milk over bread cubes and let stand until milk is absorbed. Stir in onion, ground beef, salt, eggs, and dry mustard; blend well. Stir in vegetables. Mix and shape into a loaf. Bake in loaf pan at 350° for 1-1/2 hours.

Cool for 5 minutes before turning out of pan. Serve with mashed potatoes and gravy. Yields 6 to 8 servings.

 

 
Celebrating Mexico’s Independence | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 11 September 2014 11:19

091114f2

Next Tuesday is the 204th anniversary of Mexico’s declaration of independence from Spain. It will be a day of celebrations, music and fiestas. There are no specific foods associated with el Dia de la Indepencia, but indulging in classic Mexican fare is a big part of the celebration.

Most of these traditional foods are pretty easy to prepare at home and well worth the time.

Roasted chilies and peppers are frequently called for in Mexican cooking. Simply hold the chilies  over an open flame with kitchen tongs, turning them frequently so the skins blister evenly. Then wrap them in a cloth or a paper bag and let them steam for 3 to 4 minutes before removing the skin under cold, running water.

CHICKEN TACOS

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
3/4 cup water
1 ounce taco seasoning, packaged or homemade
12 taco shells
Toppings (listed below)

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Stir in water and seasoning mix. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes or until mixture is thickened. Fill warmed taco shells with chicken mixture. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and taco sauce. Makes 12 tacos.

Taco & Fajita Seasoning

1 tablespoon chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Combine all ingredients. Yields 1 ounce, for 10-12 servings.

SIZZLING STEAK FAJITAS

8-10 flour tortillas, warmed
1 onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound sirloin or flank steak, cut into strips
Fajita seasoning
1/4 cup water
1 tomato, cut into wedges

Cook onion and green pepper in an oiled skillet over medium high heat until tender; set aside.

In same skillet, brown meat; drain fat. Mix in seasonings and water. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to low and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Return onion and green pepper to skillet; add tomatoes. Heat through and serve with warmed tortillas. Serves 6.

CHILE RELLENOS

12 Anaheim chile peppers, charred and peeled
1 pound Cheddar cheese, cut into strips
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 cup flour for coating

Stuff each pepper with a strip of cheese.

In a small bowl combine milk, the 1 cup flour, egg, baking powder, baking soda, salt and canola oil; mix well to make a batter.

Pour enough oil in heavy frying pan to reach 1 inch in depth and heat over medium-high heat. Roll each pepper in the remaining flour and dip in the batter. Fry until lightly browned on both sides. Serves 4.

BEEF CHIMICHANGAS

1 pound ground beef
1-3/4 cups water
1(1.5 ounce) package Ortega Burrito Seasoning
8 (8-inch) soft-taco-size flour tortillas, warmed
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Vegetable oil
Salsa, mild
Guacamole (optional)

Brown beef; drain. Stir in water and burrito seasoning mix. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring constantly, for 5 to 6 minutes or until mixture is thickened.

Place beef mixture evenly on each tortilla; sprinkle with cheese. Fold into burritos; secure ends with toothpicks.

Add vegetable oil to 1-inch depth in medium skillet; heat over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes.

Place 1 or 2 burritos in oil; fry, turning frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon; drain. Repeat with remaining burritos. Remove wooden picks.

Serve with salsa and guaca-mole. Yields 8 servings.

ENCHILADA CASSEROLE

2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 ounce taco seasoning mix
1 package enchilada seasoning mix
1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (10-1/2 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
2-3 jalapeño peppers, chopped
4-5 cups water
1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
15 corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large skillet, brown beef and drain. Add onions and garlic, mixing thoroughly. Stir in taco and enchilada seasonings. Add tomato paste, soup, and jalapenos. Add water slowly. Cover and simmer about 45 minutes.

In a greased 9x13 inch baking dish, layer meat sauce, tortillas and grated cheese. Sprinkle grated cheese on top of casserole. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 12 minutes. Yields 8 servings.

REFRIED BEANS

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder, or other chili powder
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup chicken broth, plus more if needed
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and chili powder and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the beans and chicken broth and cook until the beans are warmed through, about 5 minutes.

Mash the beans coarsely with the back of a wooden spoon, adding more chicken broth to moisten, if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the cilantro.Yields four 1/2-cup servings.

BASIC QUESADILLAS

Per Serving:
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated Jack cheese
2 flour tortillas

Melt butter in a skillet until bubbling. Place 1/4 cup of the cheese on each tortilla, fold over. Fry about 1 minute on each side. Eat immediately.

 

 
A Lunch Your Kids Will Actually Eat | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 04 September 2014 11:44

090414fNow that school is back in session, it’s time for many parents to get back into the lunchbox packing routine.

For that you need to be realistic and select foods your child likes and will be comfortable eating in front of other children. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time and money because the disliked food items will end up either as part of another kid’s lunch, or worse — in the trash.

To win at lunch-making chores this school year:

• Involve your child in the menu planning and get them interested in fresh fruits and vegetables.

• Try out new recipes at home before packing them in a child’s lunch.Allow the child to have veto power. Keep in mind that smaller portions are more inviting than big servings.

• Include healthy additions like dried fruits, nuts, pretzels, and baked crackers for additional flavor, color and nutrition. Kids love to munch on something crunchy and sweet or savory. Cereal bars can pack a lot of nutrition into a food kids love to eat.

• Parents can best teach good eating habits by setting a good example. If you don’t want your children to eat junk food at school, don’t buy it at home.

And a word about safety. Fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and baked items don’t require special precautions.

For other items, it’s fine to prepare the food the night before and store the packed lunch in the refrigerator.  Freezing sandwiches helps them stay cold, but don’t freeze those containing mayonnaise, lettuce, or tomatoes. Add these in the morning.

Cold foods need to be kept below 40° F. To keep lunches cold away from home, include a small frozen gel pack or frozen juice box.

Hot foods need be kept above 140° F. Hot foods, like soups, stews or chilies, should be placed in a thermos that has been pre-heated with boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then filled with the piping hot food.

PEANUTTY OATMEAL BARS

1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3-1/3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl stir together the peanut butter, the butter or margarine, the brown sugar, the syrup and the vanilla until smooth.

Add all the other ingredients. Stir well.

Press the mixture into 13 x 9 inch greased pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool on wire rack before cutting into bars.

EASY BOX-LUNCH PIZZA

1 large pita bread round (or a small Boboli pizza shell)
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/3 cup shredded part-skim milk mozzarella cheese
Sliced apples, grated carrots for topping

Preheat broiler. Place pita bread on foil-lined baking sheet.

Mix prepared tomato sauce with seasoning in small bowl and spoon over pizza shell. Sprinkle with cheese and topping.

Broil 3 to 5 minutes until cheese melts. Let cool, then wrap in foil and plastic wrap. Makes 1 or 2 servings.

LUNCHBOX CRUNCHIES

1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 cups puffed wheat
1 cup popped corn
1/2 cup raisins

Heat syrup, peanut butter and sugar in a large microwave bowl at high until mixture comes to a boil (about 2 minutes). Or, cook on stovetop, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cool slightly. Wet hands with cold water and shape mixture into golf-ball size balls. Store in wax paper.

PASTA SALAD

2 cups any cooked pasta
1 cup smoked turkey cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup cubed Swiss cheese
4 tablespoons green onions, chopped, including tops
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes, seeded and skinned
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Toss cooked pasta, turkey, cheese, green onions, tomatoes, parsley, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper.

In small bowl, whisk together garlic, mustard, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Add to salad and mix well.  Put into two individual plastic containers and refrigerate overnight. Keep as cold as possible after removing from refrigerator. Keep chilled in an insulated container. Makes 2 servings.

FRUIT & NUT WRAP

2 tablespoons strawberry cream cheese spread
2 tablespoons raisins
1 (8-inch) flour tortilla
2 tablespoons peanuts
1/4 cup sliced strawberries

Mix cream cheese spread and raisins until well blended. Spread evenly onto tortilla to within 1/2 inch of edge. Sprinkle with peanuts. Place strawberry slices down center of tortilla; roll up tightly. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

SOFT PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped dates, packed
1 medium banana, mashed
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup water
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup oats
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

In bowl, combine raisins, dates, banana, peanut butter, water, egg whites and vanilla. Beat until blended; add oats, flour and baking soda. Mix to blend thoroughly.

Drop by heaping teaspoons onto nonstick baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes or until browned on underside. Cool on rack. Makes about 50 cookies.

 

 
Picnic Time! | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 28 August 2014 13:44

082814fNo matter where you spend the last long weekend of summer, one thing is certain: Labor Day is best when celebrated outside!

Whether you’re hauling the family to a favorite picnic spot or having a cookout in the back yard, all of us have our own idea of what makes a picnic.

The food doesn’t have to be perfect, just wholesome and good, and most important — quick and easy to prepare.

So here are our suggestions for a great outdoor meal this weekend that won’t mean long hours in the kitchen the day before.

CLASSIC GRILLED CHEESEBURGERS

Safflower oil, for grill
1-1/2 pounds ground beef chuck (80 percent lean)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 slices sharp Cheddar cheese
4 large hamburger buns
4 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 beefsteak tomato, cut into 4 slices
1/2 onion, cut into 1/4-inch rings
4 lettuce leaves (green-leaf, Boston, romaine, etc.)

Preheat grill to medium-high; brush grates with oil.

Gently form beef into four 1-inch-thick patties, about 4 inches in diameter. Make an indentation in the top of each patty. Generously season both sides with salt and pepper.

Grill burgers 3 minutes. Flip, top with cheese, and grill 4 minutes for medium-rare. Toast buns face-down on grill until just lightly charred, about 30 seconds. Spread them with mayonnaise.

Place burgers in buns with tomato, onion, and lettuce. Yields 4 burgers.

OLD-FASHIONED POTATO SALAD

5 potatoes
3 eggs
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
Ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup mayonnaise

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool, peel and chop.

Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil; cover, remove from heat, and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool, peel and chop.

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, eggs, celery, onion, relish, garlic salt, celery salt, mustard, pepper and mayonnaise. Mix together well and refrigerate until chilled. Serves 8.

GRILLED CORN ON THE COB

Peel husks back, but do not remove. Using your fingers, remove silk from corn and pull husks back up around corn. In a large pan, cover corn (husks on) with cold water. Soak for at least 1 hour. Drain, shaking corn to remove excess water. Cover corn as much as possible with husks. If necessary, tie the tips of the husks together with wet kitchen string.

Grill corn (with husks) on an uncovered grill directly over medium-hot coals about 25 minutes or until tender, turning several times. Carefully remove the husks and strings.

Meanwhile, melt some margarine or butter with a little lemon juice, and thyme. Brush mixture over the corn before serving.

EASY BAKED BEANS

6 ounces smoked bacon, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 onions, peeled, chopped
3 (28-ounce) cans Boston-style baked beans
1/2 cup catsup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard

Over medium-high heat, stir fry bacon until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes, and transfer to paper towels to drain. Discard all but 1-1/2 tablespoons fat in pan.

Add onions to pan and stir often until they begin to brown and stick to bottom of pan, 7 to 9 minutes. Add beans and their liquid, catsup, brown sugar, dry mustard, and cooked bacon; mix well. Pour into a shallow 3-quart casserole.

Bake, uncovered, in a 350°F  oven until beans are bubbling in the center, 30 to 40 minutes. Makes 10 servings.

PICNIC FRIED CHICKEN

1 quart buttermilk
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, divided
2 (2-1/2-pound) fryer chickens, cut into 8 pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil, for frying

Stir together the buttermilk and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper in a large bowl; add chicken, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 6 hours or up to overnight.

In a large brown paper bag, combine flour with remaining 1 teaspoon cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper; shake to combine. One at a time, place chicken pieces in the bag; shake to coat. Place coated pieces on a clean plate or tray.

In a large skillet, heat 2 inches oil to 350°F. Using tongs, add chicken one piece at a time, being careful to not overcrowd pan. Fry, turning every 3 to 4 minutes, until deep mahogany in color, about 18 minutes. Remove chicken from skillet, and drain on paper towels.

082814f2The Devil is in the Details

Deviled eggs are a must for any picnic, but there’s more than one way to do your devilish work.

“Deviled” is used to describe highly-seasoned food and when making deviled eggs, the added ingredients and spiciness may be varied. But the basic preparation is the same:

Use large eggs that are at least a week old ( fresh eggs are difficult to peel after cooking). Place the eggs in a pan large enough to hold them in a single layer and add cold water to cover them by an inch. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 12 to 15 minutes. (Cold eggs take slightly longer.)

Plunge the eggs into iced water and cool until just warm. Tap the eggs all over against a hard surface and remove shells and inner membrane.

After peeling, slice the eggs in half lengthwise with a sharp knife that has been dipped in water and carefully remove the yolks, leaving the whites intact. Lightly mash the yolks, then blend with other recipe ingredients and heap the mixture into the whites with a spoon or a pastry bag. Garnish as desired and refrigerate.

CLASSIC DEVILED EGGS

6 hard-cooked eggs
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish: paprika
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

 

 
If Your Garden Has You Seeing Red... | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 21 August 2014 13:12

082114fThe last few weeks of summer are quickly turning all those green tomatoes in patio pots and backyard gardens into brilliant red masterpieces.

That abundance is great because fresh tomatoes can be used every day in a variety of dishes.

Remember to avoid cooking them in aluminum pots because they can give tomatoes a bitter flavor. Add a little sugar when cooking tomatoes that aren’t very sweet.

When slicing, try cutting slices vertically, rather than crosswise. They’ll hold together better.

To peel them, drop tomatoes into boiling water for a few seconds, then into ice water for a few minutes. The skin should slip off easily.

One pound of whole tomatoes yields about 1-1/2 cups peeled and seeded tomatoes.

Although ripe tomatoes may be refrigerated, they will lose some of their flavor stored that way.

HERB-ROASTED TOMATOES

Extra-virgin olive oil
4 large tomatoes, cored, each cut into 3 thick slices
4 large leaves fresh basil
1 stem fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
1 clove garlic
1 cup coarse bread crumbs, made from 4 slices day-old Italian bread
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

Lightly brush some olive oil on a large baking pan. Arrange tomato slices, cut side up, in single layer.

Finely chop together basil, parsley, thyme, oregano and garlic. Combine bread crumbs and half of herb and garlic mixture in bowl. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to blend. Sprinkle tops of tomatoes with crumb mixture, distributing evenly. Bake at 375°F until crumbs are lightly browned, about 25 minutes.

Transfer tomatoes to a large platter, sprinkle with remaining herb and garlic mixture and drizzle lightly with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 4 servings.

thickened, about 30 minutes.

TOMATO & ONION QUICHE

1/2 of a 15-ounce package of rolled refrigerated piecrust
12 ounces assorted tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 eggs
3/4 cup half-and-half, light cream or milk
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon snipped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 cup shredded Swiss, Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Paprika

Let piecrust stand at room temperature according to package directions. Unroll piecrust into a 9-inch pie plate. Crimp edge as desired. Line unpricked pastry with a double thickness of foil. Bake in a 425°F oven for 8 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes more or until pastry is set and dry. Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F.

Meanwhile, place tomato slices on paper towels to absorb excess moisture. In a small skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion. Cook until onion is tender but not brown, stirring occasionally.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, flour, basil, salt, dry mustard and black pepper.

To assemble, sprinkle cheese onto bottom of the hot, baked pastry shell. Spoon onion mixture over cheese. Arrange a single layer of tomato slices over cheese, overlapping slightly. Slowly pour egg mixture over tomatoes. Sprinkle paprika over egg mixture.

Bake, uncovered, for 35 to 40 minutes or until egg mixture is set in center. If necessary, cover edge of pie with foil for the last 5 to 10 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings.

GREEN TOMATO CAKE WITH BROWNED BUTTER ICING

1 cup butter, softened
2-1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup golden raisins
2-1/2 cups diced green tomatoes
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.

Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating well. (Batter will be soft.) Stir in tomatoes, raisins, and walnuts. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 75 minutes, or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely. Spoon Browned Butter Icing over cake.

Browned Butter Icing

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Cook 6 to 8 minutes, or until butter is lightly browned. Whisk in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Yields 1 cup.

TOMATOES PROVENCAL

1-1/2 cups fresh plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
Leaves from a few sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and ground pepper
4 large tomatoes cut into 1/2-inch slices

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a 2-quart baking dish. In a bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups fresh plain breadcrumbs, 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, leaves from a few sprigs fresh thyme and 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; season with salt and ground pepper.

Arrange 4 large tomatoes cut into 1/2-inch slices, in prepared baking dish, overlapping slightly; season with salt and pepper. Top with breadcrumb mixture. Bake until tomatoes are tender and crumbs are golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Serves 4.

 

 
Make the Most of the Annual Zucchini Harvest | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 14 August 2014 12:01

Cooking demonstrations at this weekend’s Festival will show you how

081414fIn case you hadn’t noticed, there’s been a population explosion in your zucchini patch. But not to worry. Whether for breakfast, salads, soups, main courses, desserts or snacks, there are thousands of ways to serve zucchini.

This weekend’s Hayward Zucchini Festival would be a great place to discover new ways to dispatch those dozens of summer squash taking over your back yard.

The festival, sponsored by the South Hayward Lions Club, runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 16-17 at Kennedy Park, 19501 Hesperian Blvd., with cooking demonstrations from 2-4 p.m., live bands and a Kids’ Town. For information, visit www.zucchinifest.org.

BEST ZUCCHINI BREAD

3 cups flour, plus extra for preparing pans
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, melted
1 cup sugar
2 cups shredded raw zucchini (about 3 zucchini)
2 cups chopped walnuts
Butter for greasing pan

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and set aside.

Place milk, eggs, shortening, sugar and zucchini in large mixing bowl. Add combined dry ingredients and beat until batter is just blended. Stir in walnuts.

Grease and flour two 8x4-inch loaf pans. Divide evenly between pans and bake at 350°F until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in pans about 5 minutes. Turn onto rack and cool completely. Makes 2 loaves, about 32 servings.

CRISP ZUCCHINI SALAD

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 medium unpeeled apples, cored and diced
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 small zucchini, diced
2 stalks celery, trimmed and diced
6 radishes, sliced

Combine olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and sugar in small bowl. Stir in parsley, season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in large bowl. Toss with dressing. Serves 8.

ZUCCHINI CREOLE

1-1/2 to 2 pounds sliced zucchini
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 large green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried leaf basil, crumbled
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped

Combine zucchini, mushrooms, green pepper, garlic, basil, butter, salt, pepper, sugar, and Worcestershire sauce in a large skillet over medium heat; cook for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes longer, or until tender. Yields 8 servings.

SCALLOPED ZUCCHINI

4 medium zucchini
4 slices of bacon
1/3 cup of onions, sliced thin
1 pint canned tomatoes
1/3 cup celery
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash zucchini, cut off ends, and cut in 1-inch slices. Cook until tender, drain. Fry bacon until crisp, remove from pan. Add onions, and cook until tender. Add tomatoes, celery, peppers, salt and pepper and mix in the vegetable. Add crumbled bacon and place in greased casserole. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes.  Serves 2.

CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CUPCAKES

1-1/4 cups butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup grated carrots
2 cups chocolate frosting

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

Combine the flour, baking cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with yogurt, beating well after each addition. Fold in zucchini and carrots.

Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350°F for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Frost cupcakes. Yield: 21 cupcakes.

 

 
Don’t Call It Pasta or Penne, This is Macaroni & Cheese! | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 07 August 2014 12:14

080714fNearly all of us grew up with macaroni and cheese in some form or another.

This politically incorrect comfort food was a regular in most homes during a good part of the last century, whether it was your grandmother’s special recipe served for Sunday supper, or the scores of Kraft Dinners (“cooks in 7-1/2 minutes”) that sustained you through college.

But then in the ’60s, home cooking entered a new glamorous phase. Magazines and newspapers printed exciting French recipes with names like potage, brioche and roulade. So, what self-respecting restaurant would dare put something like Macaroni and Cheese on its menu?

The truth is, the cheesy casserole of our childhood is still with us today and is still going strong. What accounts for its popularity in today’s fat-free climate?

At frozen-food seminars, they’re talking about the growth in comfort foods, and that’s where mac and cheese fit right in. Kraft still sells more than 1 million boxes of Kraft Mac and Cheese every day. Add to that the sales of frozen macaroni dinners and the sales figures go up to more than a billion dollars a year.

Macaroni and cheese has truly passed the test of time and competition, and qualifies as a true classic food.

CLASSIC MACARONI & CHEESE

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus
1 tablespoon melted butter for topping
5 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
Salt and white pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, plus additional for topping
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
8 ounces (uncooked) elbow macaroni
8 ounces milk
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs

In a 2-to-3-quart saucepan, melt the 1/4 cup butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir for 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking to combine. Bring to a simmer, add salt and white pepper to taste, and add cayenne and dry mustard. Reduce heat to low and let sauce simmer slowly for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. On the stove top, cook the macaroni according to the package directions, drain and place in a large bowl.

Remove the sauce from the heat. Add the cheese and stir until it melts. Combine the sauce with the drained macaroni. Pour the macaroni mixture into a baking dish of about 11x8x2-inches.

Combine the bread crumbs and 1 tablespoon melted butter. Sprinkle over the macaroni and cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6 generously.

DELUXE MACARONI & CHEESE

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup unsifted flour
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2-1/2 cups milk
3 cups coarsely grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon finely grated yellow onion
1/2 pound elbow macaroni

Cook macaroni according to package directions.

Melt butter in a saucepan over moderate heat; blend in flour and mustard, slowly stir in milk. Cook, stirring, until thickened.

Mix in 2 cups grated cheese and remaining ingredients except macaroni. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Cook and stir until cheese melts. Remove from heat; mix in macaroni. Turn mixture into a buttered 2-quart casserole; sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese.

Bake, uncovered, in preheated 350°F oven about 1/2 hour until bubbly and lightly browned. Serves 6.

EMERIL’S 3-CHEESE MACARONI & CHEESE

Coarse salt
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 large eggs
1 (12-ounce) can  evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-1/2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese (2 ounces)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 475°F.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook macaroni 6 minutes (it will be undercooked). Drain.

Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium and add bacon. Cook until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon mixture to a medium bowl. Add macaroni and stir to combine.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and evaporated milk. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, cayenne, nutmeg, and cheeses; mix well. Add macaroni mixture and stir well to combine. Transfer to an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish or 2-quart gratin dish. With a spoon, gently spread mixture to form an even layer. Bake just until sauce is bubbling at edges, 12 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving. Yields 6 servings.

 

 

Classifieds

Weekly specialty items listings, garage sales, and much more!

 

Current Ads

 

If you would like to place a Classified Ad, call Patrick at 510-614-1558.

Biz Spotlight

Tell us about your local business, events, and special offerings. Where you make the news!

 

Submission form

Real Estate

Get the latest in housing news and services delivered to you in full color PDF.

 

Browse this weeks gallery