Spike's & Jamie's Recipe Collection & a Whole Lot More!

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Recipes from Spike & Jamie

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Contents Disk 205

How to use these pages:  Below is a list of the recipes on this page.  You can either scroll down the page and look at all of the recipes, or look at the titles.  When you find one that seems interesting, use your web browsers FIND function to take you directly to that recipe (on my IE browser it's Edit/Find (on this page)   or Ctrl - F on your keyboard).



































































4 cups apple juice

2 envelopes ( 1/4 ounce each) unflavored gelatin

2 cups mixed fruits such as chopped strawberries, chopped peaches, whole blueberries or halved seedless grapes


Have ready an 8-inch-square baking dish. Make room in refrigerator for the mixing bowl.


Pour 1 cup apple juice into a small saucepan. Sprinkle gelatin over apple juice and let stand until gelatin plumps up, about 2 minutes. Set pan over medium-low heat and stir with wooden spoon until liquid is completely clear and gelatin is dissolved, about 6 minutes. Using pot holder, with an adult's help, remove pan from heat and pour liquid into mixing bowl. Add remaining 3 cups apple juice and stir until blended.


Set bowl of apple juice and gelatin in refrigerator. Chill, stirring every 5 minutes, until slightly thickened, about 1 hour.


When mixture has the consistency of unbeaten egg whites, remove it from refrigerator and gently stir in mixed fruit. The fruit will be suspended in the gelatin. Pour mixture into the 8-inch baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours or for as long as overnight. Spoon into serving dishes or, using an offset spatula, cut into 9 squares and serve.




Coarse salt

1/2 pound large green asparagus, peeled (``large'' applies to average-size

stalks, as opposed to ``jumbo'' or ``colossal'')

1 bunch (25-30 sprigs) fresh dill, large stems removed

1 cup mixed salted nuts

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 cups bean sprouts


Prepare an ice-water bath in a bowl large enough to contain the asparagus. Bring a medium-size pot of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus to boiling water and cook for 4 minutes. Remove asparagus from water using tongs or a slotted spoon and ``shock'' asparagus in ice bath to stop cooking process and preserve its bright color. Remove asparagus from ice bath, allow to dry on paper towels, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, and set aside.


Place dill, nuts and Parmesan in a food processor and pulse until smooth. With machine running, slowly drizzle olive oil into mixture in a steady stream until emulsified but with a slightly grainy consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Toss asparagus and sprouts in a large bowl with all but 4 tablespoons of the dill pesto and place an equal portion in center of each of 4 salad plates. Spoon a small amount of pesto around perimeter of each plate and serve immediately.



1 (10- to 14-pound) spiral-sliced, fully cooked smoked ham

1 cup honey

1 (6-ounce) can orange juice concentrate, thawed

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup apricot jam

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


Heat oven to 325 degrees. Place ham on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.


Combine remaining ingredients in a medium bowl; set aside.


Bake ham for 30 minutes. Pour honey-apricot mixture over the top and continue to bake until ham is heated through, about 30 minutes to 1 hour longer, depending on weight. (Internal temperature should register 140 degrees.)



For Basque chili and herb rub:

1 teaspoon chili powder, preferably Gebhardt's

1 tablespoon paprika, preferably sweet Hungarian

1 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For lamb:

3-4 pounds lamb stew meat from the neck, shoulder or leg, with or without

bones, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 fire-roasted red bell pepper or 2 canned or bottled red peppers or pimientos

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 fire-roasted mild green chili, such as Anaheim, chopped, or 1/4 cup chopped

canned green chilies

2 bay leaves

About 1 cup red wine

About 1 cup beef stock

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


To make rub: Mix rub ingredients in a small bowl. Put meat in a zipper-lock bag or a bowl, add rub, and toss to coat thoroughly. Marinate meat for up to 2 hours at room temperature or overnight, covered if necessary, in refrigerator. If meat has been refrigerated, bring it to room temperature before cooking.


In a blender or food processor, blend red pepper and vinegar to a puree. Set aside.


In a large skillet or heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown lamb on all sides, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Remove lamb and pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of fat from pan. Reduce heat to medium and saute onion, garlic, and green chili, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add lamb, pureed red peppers, bay leaves, wine, and stock; reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, for about 1 1/2 hours, or until meat is tender. Stir once in a while and add more wine or stock if necessary; the liquid should barely cover the meat.


Remove meat with a slotted spoon and set aside. Degrease sauce and reduce it over high heat to thicken slightly. It can still be a bit on the soupy side. Remove and discard bay leaves. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Return meat to pan to warm through, then serve.



1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter, divided use

1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms

1/2 cup chopped yellow onion

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup frozen green peas

2 cups diced cooked turkey (or chicken)

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

For biscuits:

1 cup buttermilk baking mix

1/3 cup milk

Adult: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and onions, and saute until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Put mushroom and onion mixture into a 2-quart casserole dish. Heat oven to 425 degrees.


Kids: Add carrots, celery, green peas and turkey to casserole dish and stir to mix.


Adult: In medium saucepan you used before, melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and stir with a wire whisk until smooth. Add broth, milk and salt, stirring constantly to keep lumps from forming. Heat until just boiling and mixture is thick. Pour mixture over turkey and vegetables. Stir to mix and place in oven. Bake for 25 minutes.


Kids: In a small bowl, combine baking mix and 1/3 cup milk. Stir until smooth.


Adult: At the end of 25 minutes, remove casserole dish from oven. Carefully spoon biscuit dough on top of vegetables and turkey. Return to oven and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until biscuits are lightly browned. Serve immediately.



3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons peanut oil

2 1/2 cups chopped onions

2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1/4 cup flour

2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


4 pounds beef shanks, cut 1 1/2-2 inches thick

2 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 3/4 cups beef stock

1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk

1 cinnamon stick, 3 cardamom pods, lightly smashed, and 2 bay leaves, wrapped in a pouch of cheesecloth

Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon peanut oil in a large roasting pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots, garlic and ginger; reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon and keep warm.


Mix flour, salt and pepper together in a shallow bowl. Coat each of the pieces of beef shank in flour and shake off excess. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil to pot and heat. Over medium-high heat, brown meat well on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove shanks to a platter.


Reduce heat to medium and add coriander, cumin, turmeric and red pepper flakes. Stir for 1 minute to release oils from spices. Stir in 1/2 cup beef stock and scrape up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Stir in remaining 1 1/4 cups beef stock and coconut milk and bring to a boil.


Return shanks and vegetables to pan and add cheesecloth pouch of spices. Cover pot, bring it to a boil, and place it in preheated oven. The shanks should braise until meat is tender and shrinking away from the bone, 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. Check shanks from time to time to make sure they aren't sticking to bottom of pot.


When shanks are tender, remove them to a warm platter and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Degrease braising liquid if necessary and reduce it over medium-high heat to thicken slightly. Remove spice pouch and taste for salt and pepper.


Serve the shanks on warm plates with steamed jasmine rice; ladle the sauce over them, and garnish with the cilantro.



For herb and mustard rub:

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dry mustard, preferably Colman's

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For pork:

1 (4- to 6-pound) boneless or bone-in Boston butt or pork shoulder butt, trimmed of most external fat

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups fresh or frozen pearl onions, partially defrosted if frozen

1 cup finely chopped leeks (white part only)

1/2 cup finely chopped carrots

1 cup port wine

1/2 cup beef or chicken stock

1 cup pitted prunes

1/4 cup Armagnac, slivovitz (plum brandy), or other brandy (optional)

2 bay leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


To make rub: Combine all herbs and spices in a small bowl and rub generously all over the meat.


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat oil over high heat in a heavy casserole or Dutch oven just large enough to hold pork. Brown meat on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove it and set aside. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of fat from pot and add pearl onions, leeks and carrots. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pot, and cook until vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.


Pour in port and stock, and scrape up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Add prunes, optional brandy and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Put pork back in and spoon some of the prunes and vegetables over the top. Cover pot with foil and fit lid on tightly.


Place pot in middle of oven and cook for about 1 1/2 hours, or until pork is quite tender and registers 160-165 degrees on an instant-read meat thermometer. Remove pork from pot and cover loosely to keep warm. The final temperature of meat after resting for 10 minutes or so may read 170-175 degrees.


Skim off any fat from cooking juices. Remove 6 of the prunes and puree them in a food processor or blender. Stir puree back into sauce to thicken it. Remove bay leaves and taste sauce for salt and pepper. Remove strings from pork if necessary and carve into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve with sauce and prunes and vegetables.



Budget cuts of meat can be rich in flavor


Special to the Mercury News


In the more flush times of the great bull market, who worried about cheap cuts of meat?


If your family wanted meat, you would serve them steak or roasts or chops, expensive cuts that are easy to prepare. Oh sure, every once in a while you might slip in a pot roast or lamb shank, but more for variety than to shave a few bucks off the grocery bill.


Guess what? The economy isn't so rosy anymore and many of us are on a budget. That means if you still want to serve red meat to your family, you'll need to learn more about budget cuts.


Nowadays, enterprising chefs have made many a cheap cut an endangered species as hard to find as a bull market. Lamb shanks, short ribs, hanger steaks and oxtails used to be cheap before chefs realized how deliciously they could be prepared when slowly braised with various savory sauces.


The rules of supply and demand have pushed the prices up from what used to cost $2 to $3 per pound to $4 to $5 per pound. The clever budget-minded cook needs to stay ahead of the trend and identify underutilized and underappreciated cuts.


In general, cheaper cuts of meat tend to be tougher, fattier and have more bones. But they often produce really delicious dishes when properly cooked.


Pork yields several cuts under-appreciated by a good many people. Fresh pork belly (uncured bacon) is particularly wonderful when cooked in a moist sauce until soft and tender. But for most folks, it is too fatty. It is hard to find unless you shop in a Chinese butcher shop (Chinese cooks cherish this very flavorful cut).


Pork neck is ideal when stewed, but it, too, is difficult to come by. The whole leg or fresh ham is my preferred cut for roasting, although its large size (15 pounds or more) scares most but the largest families away. It, too, is hard to find, except around Easter or Christmas. Some shops will sell fresh pork legs cut into a shank and a butt-end roast. Each weighs about six to eight pounds, making a nice family roast.


The pork picnic ($1.29 per pound), cut from the arm, is good only for braising and has considerable bone, fat and skin.


Instead, my favorite pork cut is the pork shoulder butt or Boston butt ($2.49). It's tender enough to roast but also suited to moist heat cooking. Because it is somewhat fatty, it tastes great, does not dry out and get tough. It goes well with pungent ingredients like ginger and garlic, as well as fruity ingredients like apples or prunes. One of my favorite ways to cook Boston butt is braised with port and prunes (see recipe).


Because lamb is less popular in general, it has more bargain cuts than other meat types. You will pay dearly for the rack and the loin -- the leg of lamb can be pricey, too -- but the breast, shoulder and neck are still bargains. For most folks, lamb breast is too fatty. And the neck, which makes a great lamb stew, is too bony for most diners.


The shoulder ($2.89 per pound), however, is very versatile. It can be sliced into shoulder lamb chops. It can be left whole for roasting or it can be boned and cut into chunks for stews and kebabs. One of my favorite dishes to make with lamb shoulder is a Basque-style stew that is simple to prepare (see recipe).


Beef is still king of red meats, but pauper beef cuts are scarce. Still, the chuck ($2.79 per pound), which makes up the whole shoulder and neck, offers ideal cuts for pot roasts and stews. Its flavor is superb and some areas of the chuck, such as the top blade area (also called the flatiron) and the rib-eye area, are tender enough to cut into steaks for grilling. The brisket can be a good buy and makes for great pot roast or barbecued brisket.


One of my favorite, relatively undiscovered beef cuts is the beef shank ($2.79 per pound). Shank has a round leg bone and is cut into one- to two-inch thick sections. Shank meat is quite lean but quite tough, containing much connective tissue, which when slowly cooked in moist heat softens to yield meat with a tender and silky texture.


Try one of my favorite ways to cook beef shanks -- Asian-style, in a broth flavored with lemongrass, coconut milk and ginger (see recipe). It won't break the bank, and the taste will leave you feeling richly rewarded.




If you can't find plum jam in your favorite specialty food store, substitute your favorite fruit jam.


Makes up to 30 cookies


3 1/2 cups flour

2 cups ricotta cheese

2 sticks butter, room temperature

1/2 cup white sugar

2 cups plum jam, about 1 average-sized jar

2 eggs, beaten

Sugar crystals (to sprinkle on cookies)


Mix flour, cheese, butter and sugar together in bowl of a food processor until ingredients pull together and form a smooth dough. Lightly flour your hands and work surface. Use your hands to roll dough into a 3-inch-thick by 8-inch-long rope. Slice rope into 4 segments, each 2 inches long. Refrigerate in plastic wrap for 30-45 minutes so dough is easier to handle.


Remove one rope from refrigerator and roll it on a lightly floured board into a rectangle measuring about 4 inches by 16 inches and about 1/8-inch thick.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Every 1 1/4 inches along the centerline of the rectangle of dough, place 1/2- 3/4 teaspoon jam. Brush dough around jam with beaten egg. Fold one side of dough over jam, joining edges and pressing firmly around each spoon of jam to seal. Cut around each packet of jam with a wavy-edged half-moon pastry cutter or, using a wavy circular pastry cutter, cut a half-moon shape around each spoon jam.


Brush tops of each cookie with egg and sprinkle a generous amount of sugar on top. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until edges become lightly browned.


For me, these are definitely better-tasting if eaten within 1-2 days. But Italians will keep them for up to a week by storing them in a tightly closed tin, and restoring their crispness by reheating them just before serving. To re-crisp, just place on an ungreased cookie sheet in a preheated 350-degree oven for 5-8 minutes. Serve warm.



Canned stocks aid in cooking

Making sauces, soups is easy



Today, in the world of cell phones, palmtops and laptop computers, few people have time to make chicken, beef or fish stock from scratch. Fortunately, canned stocks or broths are widely available and should be a part of any quick-cooking pantry.


I use canned chicken stock most often because it is versatile and because it comes in so many variations, including low-fat, fat-free, reduced-sodium, and low-sodium. (Canned stocks can be salty.) Use chicken stock to make quick soups by heating the stock in one pan while you saute vegetables in another. Then combine the two when the stock comes to a boil.


Canned stocks also can be used to make quick sauces. For example, saute floured chicken or veal cutlets in oil or butter, then deglaze the pan with chicken stock (and perhaps some wine) until about half the liquid evaporates and a sauce forms. Beef stock can be used with heartier meats such as beef and lamb.


If you're watching your fat intake, fat-free stocks can be used in place of oil or butter to saute onions, garlic and other vegetables. For example, garlic can be simmered in chicken stock while pasta cooks. Then the cooked pasta can be tossed with the reduced, garlic-flavored stock.


While bottled clam juice or broth is great for making linguine with clam sauce, you don't have to restrict it to clam dishes. I use it in place of fish stock for my 15-minute bouillabaisse. After making a quick tomato sauce with garlic, onions and tomatoes, I add clam juice, fennel and saffron, bring it all to a boil, then add the seafood.


Stocks also can be made from concentrates or pastes in a jar. One advantage pastes have is that you use only what you need, mixed with water. The rest keeps in the refrigerator for months. (I put leftover canned stock in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, the cubes can be popped out and kept in a freezer bag.)


Purists will sneer at clam chowder that is red, but Manhattan clam chowder has its followers. Besides, tomatoes have less fat than the cream used in New England clam chowder.



2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

8 (2-ounce) slices skinless, boneless chicken breasts

All-purpose flour, for coating

4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

2 navel oranges, peeled and sectioned, juice reserved (if substituting another type of orange, be sure to remove seeds)

1 cup cauliflower florets, blanched

1/2 cup small croutons cut from baguette or other fresh bread, brushed with clarified butter (about 2 tablespoons) and toasted

8 sage leaves, thinly sliced

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 12-inch saute pan over medium-high heat. Coat chicken with flour, shaking off excess. In a single layer, saute 4 pieces for about 4 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Remove and repeat with remaining oil and chicken. Keep cooked chicken warm in a slow oven along with 4 plates.


Heat butter in a 10-inch saute pan over high heat until it browns. Add capers, orange sections and juice, cauliflower, croutons and sage. Add salt and pepper to taste and heat through for 1 minute.


Place 2 pieces of chicken in center of each of 4 dinner plates. Drizzle sauce over and around chicken.



1/2 pound ginger, the fresher the better (look for tender Hawaiian ginger)

1 tablespoon sugar, optional

1 tablespoon sesame, peanut or olive oil

1 3-pound chicken, cut into serving pieces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chicken stock or water

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Juice of 1 lime

Chopped cilantro for garnish, optional


Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Peel ginger and mince 1 tablespoon; set aside. Thinly slice remaining ginger. (If ginger is extremely fibrous, put it in a small saucepan with sugar and 2 cups water and bring to boil; simmer 10 minutes, then drain.)


Put oil in an oven-proof non-stick skillet large enough to hold all the chicken and place on a stove burner over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook, rotating pieces and adjusting heat as necessary, until chicken is well-browned on one side, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then scatter sliced ginger around pieces; turn and season again. Transfer pan to oven; cook 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until all pieces have been cooked through. (Breasts will be done about 5 minutes before thighs.)


Return skillet to top of stove, drain off any excess fat and add stock or water along with soy sauce. Cook over medium-high heat until sauce is slightly reduced, then stir in lime juice and minced ginger. Taste and adjust seasoning, then garnish if you like, and serve.




2 cups low-fat chocolate milk

2 cups low-fat vanilla ice cream

2 tablespoons seedless raspberry preserves

Mint leaves and raspberries for garnish (optional)


Place chocolate milk, ice cream and preserves in a blender. Cover and process until smooth. Pour into chilled glasses. Garnish with mint leaves and raspberries if desired.



17 saltine crackers

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 6 ounces each

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a small jelly-roll pan with aluminum foil and set it aside. Put crackers in a zip-lock plastic bag. Press down on bag to release air and seal the top. Using rolling pin, crush crackers to make coarse crumbs.


Empty crumbs into a shallow bowl. Add Parmesan cheese, dried thyme and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Stir with a table fork until well mixed. Drizzle olive oil over crumbs and toss with fork until crumbs are evenly moistened.

Rinse chicken breasts with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place them, skinned side up, on a work surface. Spoon mustard into a small bowl. Using a table knife, spread mustard over the top of each chicken breast. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.


Press mustard-coated side of a chicken breast half into crumb mixture. Place chicken, crumb side up, on foil-lined jelly-roll pan. Repeat with other chicken breasts. Sprinkle any leftover crumbs on top of breasts and pat them onto chicken with your fingers.


Bake until chicken is no longer pink in the middle when cut with a sharp knife, about 25 minutes. Using oven mitts, remove pan from oven and serve chicken immediately.




1 pound lasagna noodles

1 medium onion

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 (12-ounce) box frozen spinach, thawed and drained, or 1 bunch fresh spinach

2 1/2 cups marinara sauce (one 30-ounce jar)

16 ounces mozzarella cheese

8 ounces cottage cheese

8 ounces ricotta cheese

1 cup Parmesan cheese


Light charcoal for coals for the Dutch oven about 30 minutes before you begin cooking. Soak lasagna noodles in hot water to soften. Saute diced onion and finely minced garlic in olive oil until soft. Add spinach and marinara sauce to pan with onion and garlic and heat through.


In Dutch oven, place 1/2 cup of the marinara/spinach sauce mixture. Arrange lasagna noodles to slightly overlap on top of the sauce to make one complete layer of noodles. Spread one cup of the sauce again and top with half the mozzarella cheese. Add another layer of noodles. It is a good idea to have these noodles run perpendicular to the first layer to keep the lasagna from falling apart when it is served.


On the second layer of noodles, spread ricotta and cottage cheeses and top with spinach sauce. Repeat third layer with noodles, spinach/marinara sauce and remainder of the mozzarella. To finish, top with Parmesan.


Place Dutch oven in coals. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour. You can check temperature of Dutch oven by holding your hand over the top for about 6 seconds. If you're able to do so any longer, your oven is too cold. After baking, let set at least 5 minutes before serving.




Celebrate Easter with ham, lamb and Peep shows



(Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2001)


Do you know your ham, ma'am? How about your lamb, scalloped potatoes and hard-boiled eggs?


Today we present a primer on everything Easter, from the calories in jelly beans (ulp!) to the finer points of preparing the big dinner.


If you're hazy about the length of time to cook a ham or want to know why some hard-boiled eggs are so darn hard to peel, read on.


Treats: Let's get the bad news out of the way. Here are the calorie counts for a few Easter goodies:


Cadbury's Creme Egg, 180


Chocolate bunny (7 ounces), 660


Jelly Beans (Brach's, 1 ounce), 100


Marshmallow Peep, 32


Reese's Peanut Butter Egg, 180


Hard-cooked eggs


Notice we didn't write "hard-boiled." Boiling produces that greenish ring around the yolk and makes the egg rubbery. The best method for hard-cooking eggs is to place clean, uncracked eggs in a pan of cold water. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from the heat. Let stand for 15 minutes. Your eggs will be firm but not bouncy, with an almost creamy (but fully cooked) yolk.


Doesn't it drive you crazy when the hard-cooked egg white sticks to the shell? The solution is to buy your eggs several days -- preferably a week -- in advance. The shells of older eggs slip right off, while the shells of very fresh eggs stick like glue.


The explanation for this is that eggs are porous. Over time, air enters the shell and forms a pocket between the shell and the tissue-thin membrane lining the shell. When eggs are very fresh, there is no air pocket and the shell sticks to the egg white.


Don't allow hard-cooked eggs to remain at room temperature for longer than two hours. Yes, your grandmother and maybe even your parents let the colored eggs sit out all day and no one became ill.


But in your parents' day, there was no such thing as salmonella enteritidis, a nasty bacterium that has infected some of America's in-shell eggs. Refrigerate the eggs to be safe. Hard-cooked eggs will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.


To help the egg dye cling to the shells, use hot water and add a splash of vinegar.


The ham


Bone-in hams are thought to have more flavor than boneless hams.


Some people don't like bone-in hams because they seem hard to carve. They aren't, actually. Just slice the ham down the length of the meat -- horizontally, as it were -- instead of perpendicular to the cutting board.


Prices range from a low of about $1.29 a pound for a semiboneless to a top-shelf $2.69 for glazed, spiral-cut ham. But which ham to buy? (April 2001 prices)


In order of preference, based on how much water has been added, here are the four categories of ham:


Ham. Nothing is added, and the ham goes through a long, slow cure. This is the dry-cured ham known as country ham. It's seldom found in stores.


Ham with natural juices. No water is added, but the curing is quicker.


Ham, water added. Some water is injected into the ham.


Ham and water product. Lots of water has been injected into the meat. You're paying for water at ham prices.


The label will tell you which kind of ham you're buying. If the ham has water added, make sure that is reflected in the price. Also, look for "naturally smoked" on the label. This means it was smoked over a smoldering fire, rather than injected with smoke flavoring.


Most hams are fully cooked, but heating brings out the flavor. A modern cured ham (not a country ham) should be baked uncovered at 325 degrees for 15 minute per pound.


The lamb


You walk to a different drummer. Maybe you're of Greek heritage, or you just like the taste of juicy, rosy-red spring lamb rubbed with rosemary.


The best cut to cook for a crowd is rack of lamb or its cousin, crown roast (two racks tied in a circle). But you have to be Daddy Warbucks to afford one of those.


Easier on the wallet and just as delicious is roast leg of lamb. A 5- to 6-pound leg is cooked, uncovered, in a 350-degree oven for about 11/2 hours, until the internal temperature is 130 degrees. This produces medium-rare meat. Allow the lamb to stand for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.


Remove most of the fat from the meat before roasting. Also, remove the fell -- the papery skin covering the meat. If desired, cut 4 or 5 cloves of garlic into slivers. Here and there, cut the meat to a depth of about 1 inch with the tip of a thin knife and push the garlic slivers into the slits. Then rub the meat all over with olive oil and about 1 tablespoon rosemary.


The potatoes


Scalloped potatoes and ham are as natural a combination as peas and carrots. But we shudder to think of the sins that have been committed in their name. Making decent scalloped potatoes is not difficult.


Making truly wonderful scalloped potatoes requires a bit more work, but it's worth it.


The French gently cook the sliced potatoes before layering them in a casserole. The potatoes are simmered in milk or -- if you want to go all-out cream. The milk or cream permeates the potatoes and creates an almost silken texture.


Next, the potatoes are layered in a casserole with gruyere cheese (real Swiss cheese, before the flavor is cooked out of it by commercial cheese processors). The final touch is a dusting of nutmeg. Now that's scalloped potatoes.!










Special to the Mercury News


Part of being raised an Italian Catholic was our annual observance of 40 days of abstinence for Lent. Throughout these 40 days we looked forward to their conclusion in an elaborate, celebratory Easter meal, which my grandmother and her daughters prepared over several days.


Like most everyone, my siblings and I always gave up desserts for Lent. We always believed that it would be an easy sacrifice. It never was. We drove our mother nuts during the Lenten weeks, asking again and again, ``Is Easter this Sunday? By the fourth or fifth week of denial, we all longed for Easter to arrive, and not only because it was the day we stopped our long abstinence with an all-day eating marathon. It also signaled the end of a long, cold winter in our central New York home.


Borrowing from my grandmother's Calabrian cooking experiences, she and my aunts made an Easter meal that heralded spring: lamb roasted with young shoots of garlic, aromatic rosemary and lemon; lasagna layered with ricotta, asparagus and bite-size veal meatballs; and roasted new potatoes with tender peas and pancetta.


But it was their desserts that we all anticipated and salivated for. Each one was prepared with fresh sheep's milk ricotta cheese.


When my grandmother lived in Italy, she was able to make ricotta by bartering for or buying whey from a neighboring farmer who made his own supply of sheep's milk cheese. She preferred sheep's to cow's milk ricotta, saying it added a creamy, nutty taste to her recipes like no other milk could.


Like baby lambs, the ricotta was a sign of spring and renewal, and was used in all of her Easter desserts. It was a tradition that she and her daughters continued once she immigrated to the United States, and is one that I continue each Easter.


In Italian, ricotta means cooked again. Its name originated from the warm whey left after heating milk to make cheese. The whey is heated again and mixed with thick, fresh cream, a squirt of lemon juice and a touch of salt, resulting in a silky, custardy fresh cheese, tasting nothing like the packaged kind found in supermarkets. It keeps for three or four days in your refrigerator, but in my grandmother's house, where we gobbled it up by the spoonful until it was all gone within hours of being made.


My grandmother had at least a dozen sweet recipes using the cheese. In many of them, the cheese was mixed with candied fruits, chocolate or pine nuts, or a combination of these. Some recipes were regulars at our Easter table and some were an occasional treat. Sfogliatelle were less frequently served for dessert, probably because they are so labor-intensive. Crispy, shell-shaped, palm-sized pastries are formed from transparent layers of dough wrapped around a filling of ricotta and candied fruits. This was her version; the typical recipe uses custard filling, but I always thought hers was much lighter and more delicate. We also had sfinge di San Giuseppe, fried pastry puffs filled with sweetened ricotta, pine nuts and candied fruit. These are often served on March 19, the Feast Day of Saint Joseph, but in our house were frequently eaten on Easter. Torta Crema Chjina was a lemon-flavored, layered sponge cake filled with ricotta cheese and grated bittersweet chocolate, covered with an almond glaze.


My grandmother's favorites and a regular part of our Easter meal were her torta ubriaca con ricotta and pastiera di Pasqua. The torta is a single-layer hazelnut cake doused with hazelnut liqueur and served with whipped, sweetened ricotta and fresh fruit -- usually tiny, wild strawberries from the woods near her backyard. Pastiera di Pasqua is an Italian version of cheesecake and is considered by most southern Italians the queen of all Easter desserts. Grandmother baked ricotta, milk chocolate and orange rind in a toasted-almond crust to make a dense pie that held for days, on the rare occasion we didn't finish it on Easter. It never failed to bring a hush to the table, followed by oohs and aahs and finally, applause that my grandmother bashfully accepted.


I recommend using fresh sheep's milk ricotta in every recipe to duplicate the authentic taste of these desserts. You can find fresh ricotta at most specialty and Italian food shops in the Bay Area. If you find a fresh ricotta that is a combination of sheep and cow's milk, that would also work fine. Refrain from reaching for the supermarket ricotta. It's grainy, has a coarser texture on the tongue and gives drier results when used in baking.




There are several kinds of southern Italian Easter ricotta pies. The two most familiar use basically the same filling, but different crusts. Torta di ricotta Pasqua is one version, using an egg-based pastry often made with white wine called pasta frolla for both the bottom crust and lattice top. It tends to be more cake-like. This recipe is a bit easier to prepare, normally using a single sweet crust, which the French call pâte sucrée. My mother and I added toasted, ground almonds to boost the flavor. It holds up nicely to the moist filling within.

If made the day before Easter, the flavors will deepen and balance. Although it should always be covered with foil and stored in the refrigerator, this pie is best when eaten after it has sat at room temperature for at least two hours. The surface of the pie filling may sweat a bit but this won't affect the flavor. Serve it with a cup of espresso.


Pie crust:

3 cups flour

1 cup toasted almonds, ground

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups butter or veg. shortening (or a combination), cut into 12 pieces

2 eggs, beaten

2-4 tablespoons cold water


2 pounds fresh ricotta

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon candied orange rind, minced

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 2/3 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 large egg whites, stiffly beaten

1 cup chopped milk chocolate (or milk chocolate morsels)


To make crust: Place flour with almonds, sugar and salt in bowl of a food processor. Pulse to blend.


Add butter or shortening and process for about 30-60 seconds, or until blended.


Add eggs and process again for 30 seconds.


With machine running, slowly pour in cold water, stopping machine when ingredients pull together and form a ball of dough.


Using lightly floured hands, pat dough evenly into a 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan, taking care to even out the thickness in each corner and bring the dough almost to the top of pan sides. Refrigerate until filling is made.


To make filling: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a wire whisk, place all ingredients in a deep bowl, except the beaten egg whites and chocolate; mix thoroughly. Using a rubber spatula, scrape beaten egg whites and chocolate into filling and gently fold them in.


Pour filling into chilled pastry shell. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until center doesn't jiggle when shaken.


Remove and cool completely before covering with foil and refrigerating.




'Integrative medicine' guru does best work in kitchen



(Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2001)


Many doctors in today's medical establishment do their best work in an operating room, with scalpel and scissors in hand. But alternative-medicine pioneer Dr. Andrew Weil does his best knife-wielding in his kitchen, at his ranch home outside Tucson, Ariz.


There, he slices and dices, prepping nutritious dishes that he suggests we can -- indeed, should -- eat for health. The good news is that while he embraces "food as medicine," it doesn't have to taste like medicine.


"The knife and fork are powerful tools. We use them at least three times a day. (Food) is something over which you as a patient have total control, and it's a major factor in your health," says Weil, a Harvard Medical School graduate and clinical professor of medicine at the University of Arizona, who just might be America's best-known physician, if not its most controversial.


He brings to the kitchen table the notion of "integrative medicine," which purports to marry the best of conventional medical approaches with nutritional and other lifestyle remedies.


Certainly, traditional methods such as drugs and surgery occupy a crucial place in medicine, Weil wants you to know right away. But to prevent and treat many diseases, he also wants you to eat your fruits and vegetables.


Weil's newest nod to nutrition will be "The Better Body Cookbook: Delicious Recipes for Healthy Living" (Knopf, due out in early 2002), co-written with Rosie Daley, Oprah Winfrey's former chef.


Earlier came Weil's "Eating Well for Optimum Health" (Knopf, 2000), in which he recommends feasting on fresh fruit and vegetables for ills ranging from prostate conditions to heart disease, cancer, cholesterol problems and cataracts.


Weil's treatment plans are accompanied by recommendations for dietary supplements, exercise and stress reduction, as well as conventional medical therapies.


Rainbow on the plate


Make your choice of fruits and vegetables a "rainbow mix" for a variety of benefits, Weil says.


For instance, red- or purple-colored berries, cherries, red grapes, plums, pomegranates and red cabbage have pigments that protect the heart, lungs and blood vessels from degenerative changes, he says. Those fruits and vegetables have antioxidant effects, and so does the yellow and orange group, including carrots, pumpkins, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupes and peaches.


Also make room for broccoli, which, if you follow "Eight Weeks to Optimum Health" (Fawcett, 1997), you'll start eating for its nutrients, protective compounds and fiber.


A taste of the doctor's own medicine also includes drinking daily up to four cups of Japanese or Chinese green tea, instead of coffee. Green tea appears to protect against many kinds of cancer, as well as help the heart and arteries, says Weil, who has never eaten a McDonald's hamburger but likes drinking an occasional Coke in front of people just for shock value.


Weil isn't the first to praise "food as medicine" -- Hippocrates beat him to the punch in the fifth century B.C. And "You are what you eat" was a mantra of the '60s.


Now this contemporary food guru, bald and bushy-bearded, often can be found in his kitchen, on the job in jeans and a T-shirt printed with a mushroom motif (organic, of course), plus woolen L.L. Bean clogs by winter and Birkenstocks by summer.


"I feel like a master of my kitchen," Weil says from his ranch at the tranquil foot of the Rincon Mountains. "I really feel competent in there." This is a kitchen that suggests a high level of owner expertise.


You can't miss the cavernous walk-in refrigerator, formerly a cooler. Earlier residents likely "had whole sides of beef hanging in this thing," says Weil, a fish-eating vegetarian.


Weil keeps busy here, perfecting prep skills, going head-on with a pineapple or whole cabbage. "I'm good with a knife," he says. "I do like that stuff of slicing and cutting. Rarely do I cut myself. It's advanced knifework."


Particularly after a demanding day, there's something about chopping that Weil finds transcending, as it creates order from chaos.


"It's relaxing, it centers my mind," he says. "Having to cut a lot of vegetables, I get in a particular state of concentration. It's very meditative."


Love him or hate him


Good thing, too. After all, it isn't easy being an American icon. Fans send Weil letters proposing marriage or less lasting intimacies. Others open with, "You are my last hope." Critics dismiss him; magazines run stories like, "Why so many doctors hate Andrew Weil" (Discover magazine, August 1999).


Still, his last three books have been million-copy sellers.


He also is director of the Arizona university's Program in Integrative Medicine; founder of the Foundation for Integrative Medicine in Tucson, and editorial director of the "Ask Dr. Weil" Web site (www.drweil.com).


Everyday eating is meant to be enjoyable, he says. "The whole point of my philosophy is that eating in a healthy manner does not mean giving up the pleasure of food.


"Often, people have been served food they have been told is healthy but tastes awful. I've had things I have called 'hippie cookies' that are leaden -- you know what I mean -- or whole-wheat pasta so gritty it's nothing like the pleasure of eating pasta. Or vegetarian stew that looks gray and unappetizing. We've all had bad health food."


So, what do you do with tofu?


"You can crumble and brown it and use it in spaghetti sauce, or make chocolate tofu pie -- and people wouldn't even suspect it's tofu," he says.


Chocolate? That's right.


"I like high-quality dark chocolate and encourage people to eat some," Weil says. "It has very strong antioxidant activity. For me, it satisfies all my dessert cravings. I believe in following cravings and not making things forbidden. That only sets you up for bingeing on them."


Here's another surprise: "I think spa cuisine is ultimately boring and leaves a lot of people wanting more fat and more flavor," Weil says.


He encourages people to eat nuts, preferably unsalted, natural, often raw. You might not expect it, but he also advocates olives and natural cheeses in moderation. "These can all be part of a healthy diet, but are all taboo in spa mentality," he says.


When you're in doubt about what to toss into the shopping cart, "I tell people we are lucky to live in a culture where it's all listed on the food label," Weil says.


"It's a shame not to take advantage of it. Try to eat foods in their more natural forms, not with a host of additives and processed ingredients. When you look at a label, think, if you were going to make this food at home, what would go into it? How much is there that you wouldn't put into it?"


Food can convey something besides just calories and nutrition, he says. If you have any doubt, consider the comfort provided, when you were sick, by a bowl of mother's soup, rather than a similar soup straight from a can.


"When it is prepared with care and love, it feeds you on some level other than just the physical."




Eggs rule the roost during Easter



(Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2001)


I don't care whether the chicken or the egg comes first, as long as I am called to the table. It's hard to beat a good roast chicken, but eggs take top billing at Easter.


[Unsolicited scientific information from editor, Spike: The egg came first, because an evolutionary change must take place in an embryo rather than in a viable being. Haven't you always wanted to know that?]


As a kid, I'd spend a whole day dying Easter eggs--with visions of fluffy, white rabbits dancing in my head. Raised as Greek Orthodox, my Easter eggs were always red -- to represent the blood from the Crucifixion. As a kid I would have one Easter with friends, centered around chocolate eggs and marshmallow ducks. Later with the family, it would revolve around roasted lamb, feta cheese, olives, lots of chocolate and red Easter eggs.


The symbol of the egg and the chicken are at the heart of Easter traditions. Ornamental and decorated Easter eggs are the legacy of a variety of cultural traditions.


In ancient China, Greece and Rome, eggs were offered as gifts celebrating spring or love. In the British Isles, colored eggs honored pagan deities. The people of India have relished eggs since 2000 B.C.


Other European traditions expressing the secular side of Easter also were quickly adopted in America -- the Easter bunny, the egg hunt and egg-rolling on the White House lawn are all offspring of older traditions. And the hen, rooster and chick are featured in many decorative objects -- baskets brimming with Easter treats, including chocolate, sugar, candy-coated or fancy-wrapped confectionery eggs, not to mention the ever-popular egg-shaped jelly bean.



Special to the Mercury News

Per square mile, Mexico has more festivals, feast days and fairs than any other country. Virtually every day calls for a fiesta. The granddaddy of all fairs, or ferias, is the San Marcos National Fair, held annually from the second week in April to the first week in May. It's the biggest and oldest fair in Mexico.


The event, which draws up to 3 million visitors, began in 1604. It originally was called the Merchant Fair, as farmers established it as a means for trading produce, craft items and livestock. In 1848, the fair was given a permanent location near a church in the city of Aguascalientes and the event was renamed in honor of St. Mark the Evangelist. Despite the changes, most of the original activities and traditions from the merchant days remain, as well as many of the foods.


Locals still sell and trade their goods. Bullfights and cockfights also abound. But my preference is to enjoy the incredible mariachi bands and folkloric dancing. In recent years, modern attractions have been added to the mix, including IMAX films and pop concerts at local dance clubs. Nearby spas, featuring the soothing, warm waters of Aguascalientes, provide a relaxing break from the feria festivities.


Of course, no fair in Mexico would be complete without vendors selling wonderfully prepared foods, and San Marcos is no exception. In addition to kid favorites like ice cream and giant poufs of brightly colored cotton candy, local specialties such as mole poblano -- roasted turkey seasoned in a rich unsweetened chocolate-based sauce -- and chicken enchiladas are offered.


Aguascalientes is particularly famous for its chicken dishes. ``Fried chicken'' is often a much more complex, varied dish than what is found north of the border. For one version, simmered chicken is dipped into a cooked salsa that includes tomatoes, chicken stock, vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns and oregano.


The chicken is then fried with potatoes in lard until crisp. When served, the chicken and potatoes are arranged on a plate with browned chorizo sausage, lettuce, sliced onion and pickled serrano chiles. The cooked salsa is then drizzled around the plate.


I've adapted another version, pollo San Marcos, that's easier to prepare and lower in fat because the chicken is baked instead of fried. Patatas y chiles salteadas, or sauteed potatoes and chiles, makes for a delicious accompaniment. Prepare extra for Sunday brunch, as the savory potatoes go great with huevos rancheros, omelets and other egg dishes.






9 large potatoes (about 3 pounds)

2 cups milk


White pepper

Freshly grated nutmeg

1 egg, beaten

1 clove garlic, cut in half

1 1/2 cups shredded gruyere cheese (Swiss cheese)

3 tablespoons butter


Peel potatoes and cut into thin slices. Do not rinse. Dry with paper towels.


Bring milk to a boil in a large saucepan. Add salt, pepper, a dash of nutmeg and potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes, lifting potatoes gently now and then to keep them from sticking to pan. Be careful not to break potato slices.


Rapidly whisk a small amount of the hot milk into the beaten egg.


Stir into the potato-milk mixture.


Rub the insides of an ovenproof casserole with the cut sides of the garlic, then with a little of the butter. Spread half of the potato-milk mixture in the dish. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Add remaining potatoes and remaining cheese. Dot with the butter.


Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. The potatoes should be crisp on top and creamy inside.



1/2 c Unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 c Unbleached flour

1 1/2 c Sugar

2 Egg whites (or egg replacer for 2 eggs)

1/2 c Applesauce

1 t Baking powder

1/2 t Salt

1 t Vanilla

1 T Kahula (optional)

1 T Peanut butter

x Walnuts

Spray 8 x 8 pan w/ Pam. In medium bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder & salt. Combine peanut butter with kahlua warmed in the microwave. It will be kind of gluey. In large bowl, mix kahlua/pb with sugar. It will be kind of crumbly and won't mix entirely. Whisk in egg, applesauce & vanilla. Combine flour mixture w/ egg mixture. (Add nuts, if using them) Bake 35-40 minutes at 350F.




2 cups Flour

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour

1 package Active Dry Yeast -- Rapid Rise

1 1/2 teaspoons Salt

1 cup Water, very warm (110-130 degrees F)

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

3/4 cup Spaghetti Sauce

2 cups Mozzarella Cheese -- shredded

3 cups Vegetables -- sliced thin *see suggestion

1 2-ounce jar Pimentos -- sliced and drained

1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese -- grated


*Vegetable suggestions: Onions, Peppers, Broccoli, Tomatoes, Olives, etc.


In large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, whole wheat flour, undissolved yeast and

salt. Stir water and oil into dry ingredients. Mix in enough remaining flour

to make soft dough. Knead on floured surface until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Roll dough to fit bottom and sides of greased

10- × 15-inch baking pan. Spread sauce on dough. Top with remaining

ingredients. Bake on lowest oven rack at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes or

until crust is golden.


NOTES : For a strict Vegan diet, cheese may be omitted.




Here's how to pick the right ham


If pork is ``the other white meat,'' then what are we to make of ham? The nation's pork producers have done a masterful job of promoting pork tenderloins, chops, ribs and roasts as everyday alternatives to chicken, but the publicity blitz somehow left ham behind.


The following recipe and tips should help ham earn more respect at the dinner table. Ham is one of the easiest meats to prepare. There are only two things a home cook needs to do: Buy the right type, and then don't overcook it.


Look for this exact wording on the packaging: ``ham with natural juices.'' That is the industry's terminology for hams that retain very little water from the curing process. Sold bone-in or boneless, these hams are attractive and ready to eat. They can be served straight from the package or warmed slowly in a 325-degree oven, with or without a glaze.


Hams labeled ``water added'' or ``ham and water product'' are much less expensive, but will shrink and weep if exposed to heat. Some owe as much as 35 percent of their weight to water. They are an economical choice for ham sandwiches.


Hams labeled ``country-style,'' ``old-fashioned'' or Smithfield are dry-cured by rubbing salt and spices into the surface and aging the ham. Popular in the South, they are quite salty and are usually served in small portions, sliced very thin.


The term ``fresh ham'' can fool people. It's simply plain, raw, uncured pork. When cooked, it is grayish white, not pink, and it tastes like a pork loin or chop, not ham.


Hams sold with glazes already applied should be removed from the refrigerator one to two hours before warming. Wrap them in foil, place them on a baking pan, and follow the package directions for heating. A good guideline is 10 minutes per pound at 275 degrees.


Sales of canned ham and ham steaks are on the wane but overall ham sales increased markedly within the last five years because of one product that has revitalized the industry: the ready-to-eat spiral-sliced ham popularized by the Honey Baked Ham Co. and its growing chain of retail stores.


Figure on two to three servings per pound for bone-in ham and four to five per pound for boneless ham. Then allow two servings per person, to account for second helpings and leftovers you may want.


Calculated another way, plan on a half-pound of sliced ham per person (including leftovers) for a sit-down dinner, or one-third pound per person for a buffet.




4 red potatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


1 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool cut into 1/2 inch cubes.

2 In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and green pepper. Cook, stirring often, until soft; about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

3 Pour remaining 2 tablespoons of oil into the skillet and turn heat to medium-high. Add potato cubes, salt, paprika and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are browned; about 10 minutes. Stir in the onions, green peppers and parsley and cook for another minute. Serve hot.




4 cups flour

1 3/4 cups vegetable shortening

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 teaspoon vinegar

1/2 cup cold water

16 tablespoons jam , divided


Cut flour and shortening together with pastry blender or two butter knives,

until completely blended (mixture will resemble crumbs). Add sugar, baking

powder, salt, egg, vinegar and cold water. Mix with hands until mixture

forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Divide

dough into fourths, refrigerating the portions you are not working with yet.

Take first 1/4 of dough and roll out onto a floured surface. Cut into

rectangles using a sharp knife. It is helpful to make a template the size

you wish your poptarts to be, from cardboard or heavy plastic, so they will

be a uniform size. Spread on tbsp. jam on one half of the rectangles,

leaving a half inch or so on the edges without jam. Cover with the other

half of the rectangles. Crimp edges with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees F. for

12 - 15 minutes or until the pie dough is evenly browned and cooked through.

Cool completely and place into zip baggies for storage until you are ready

to eat them. Repeat with remaining dough and jam until it is all completed.

Variation: Glaze poptarts with a simple glaze made from powdered sugar, milk

and vanilla extract. Be sure to let glaze dry hard before placing poptarts

into storage baggies








1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup honey

2 tablespoons prepared mustard


Combine all ingredients. Thirty minutes before ham is done, remove from oven and spoon on glaze. Continue baking for 30 minutes, basting occasionally with glaze.




4 low-fat chocolate milk ice cubes (see note)

1/2 cup cooled brewed coffee

1/2 cup low-fat chocolate milk

1 teaspoon white chocolate syrup (optional)

Whipped cream (optional)

Chocolate bar shavings (optional)

Pirouette cookie (optional)


(Note: To make chocolate milk ice cubes, pour low-fat chocolate milk into ice cube trays and freeze.)


Place chocolate milk ice cubes in a chilled glass. Add coffee and chocolate milk (and optional white chocolate syrup). Stir and combine.


For those with a larger sweet tooth, add a squirt (or two) of whipped cream and sprinkle with a few chocolate bar shavings. If it's presentation or extra flare you're after, add a pirouette cookie.




NANCY FELDMAN: So, you want to substitute ingredients



(Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2001)


Often, for lack of an ingredient, a recipe is ruined or an extra trip to the store is required. Sometimes, you need to buy a large container of an ingredient for just a teaspoon or two needed in a recipe.


To the rescue: Ingredient substitutions.


Several groups of dietitians, home economists, chefs and other food professionals were asked for their most helpful ingredient substitutions. Here are some suggestions cited most frequently. I am including only substitution tips for which there was a consensus and which used the most common ingredients.


Ingredients (in bold face) and substitutes:


Allspice (1 teaspoon): 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves


Apple Pie Spice (1 teaspoon): 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg plus 1/8 teaspoon cardamom


Baking Powder (double acting-1 teaspoon): 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 5/8 teaspoon cream of tartar


Baking Soda: There is NO substitute for baking soda


Butter (1 cup): 1 cup regular margarine or 1 cup vegetable shortening (for baking). Note: An equal amount of oil can be substituted for a similar portion of MELTED butter if the recipe specifies using MELTED butter.


Buttermilk (1 cup): 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus enough regular milk to make 1 cup (allow to stand 5 minutes)


Chili Sauce (1 cup): 1 cup tomato sauce, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, dash of ground cloves and dash of allspice


Chocolate (unsweetened/1 ounce): 3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon butter or regular margarine or vegetable oil


Cornstarch (for thickening-1 tablespoon): 2 tablespoons flour


Cream (whipping-1 cup unwhipped): If you wish to use a commercial pre-whipped whipped cream or whipped cream substitute rather than whip your own cream, use the guideline that 1 cup UNWHIPPED whipping cream expands to 2 cups when WHIPPED. For example, if your recipe calls for 1 cup of cream to make whipped cream, you could substitute 2 cups of an already whipped product.


Egg (1 whole egg): 1/4 cup egg substitute (examples include: Egg Beaters, Second Nature, Scramblers); check label for specific directions; or reconstituted powdered eggs (follow package directions); or 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (suitable for use in cake batter).


Flour (all-purpose white-1 cup): 1/2 cup whole wheat flour plus 1/2 cup all-purpose flour


Flour (cake-1 cup): 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


Flour (self-rising-1 cup): 1 cup minus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour plus 11/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt


Garlic (1 small clove): 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or 1/8 teaspoon instant minced garlic or 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt (reduce salt in recipe by 1/8 teaspoon)


Herbs (fresh/1 tablespoon finely cut): 1 teaspoon dried leaf herbs or 1/2 teaspoon ground dried herbs


Lemon Zest (fresh grated lemon peel/1 teaspoon): 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract


Marshmallows (miniature, 1 cup): 10 large marshmallows


Mayonnaise (for use in salads and salad dressings-1 cup): 1 cup sour cream or 1 cup yogurt or 1 cup cottage cheese pureed in a blender or use any of the above for part of the mayonnaise


Mustard/dry (1 teaspoon): 1 tablespoon prepared mustard


Onion (1 small or 1/4 cup chopped, fresh onion): 1 tablespoon instant minced onion, rehydrated (check package directions)


Pasta (4 cups COOKED): 8 ounces of UNCOOKED elbow macaroni, medium shells, rotini, twists, spirals, wagon wheels, bow ties, mostaccioli, penne, radiatore, rigatoni, spaghetti, angel hair, linguine, vermicelli and fettuccine (produces about 4 cups COOKED pasta)


Note: Use about twice as much UNCOOKED egg noodles to provide 4 cups COOKED pasta. Approximately 8 ounces UNCOOKED egg noodles equal 21/2 cups COOKED noodles.


Pumpkin (pie spice-1 teaspoon): 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger plus 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice plus 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Rice (any amount): Most rice products will substitute for each other on a fairly equal basis in recipes; however, their cooking times and the amount of liquid needed may vary. If possible, choose a rice with a comparable grain length for the closest match.


Rum (any amount): 1 part rum extract plus 3 parts water. For example: for 1/4 cup rum, substitute 1 tablespoon rum extract plus 3 tablespoons water.


Sugar (confectioners or powdered-1 cup): 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch; process in a food processor using the metal blade attachment until it's well blended and powdery


Tomato Juice (1 cup): 1/2 cup tomato sauce plus 1/2 cup water


Tomato Soup (103/4 ounce can): 1 cup tomato sauce plus 1/4 cup water


Wine-Red: The same amount of grape juice or cranberry juice


Wine-White: The same amount of apple juice or white grape juice


Yeast-Compressed (1 cake or /5 ounce): 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast or Scant 21/2 teaspoons loose active dry yeast



1 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

1 tablespoon sour cream

3 tablespoon ice water

1/2 pound (2 large) leeks, well rinsed and sliced 1/4-inch thick with some green

1 cup whole milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

4 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper

1 1/2 cups shredded gruyere cheese


Make crust in a food processor. Place flour and salt in work bowl. Add butter pieces and sour cream. Pulse to combine. With machine running, drizzle in ice water until a ball forms. Flour a work surface and roll out into a 12-inch round. Quickly foldinto quarters and gently lay in an 11-inch shallow, tin fluted tart pan; press into pan. Place in freezer 15 minutes (can be left frozen for up to a month). Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a layer of foil on top of crust and fill with dried beans. Prebake 15 minutes to 18 minutes, until just pale golden. Reduce temperature to 375 degrees.


Place leeks and 1/4-cup water in a large skillet. Heat over medium-high heat and cook a few minutes to sweat (not brown them) until water evaporates and leeks are tender. Set aside to cool.


In a mixing bowl, combine milk, cream, eggs and seasoning. Beat with a whisk to combine. Add cheese. Place cooked leeks into prebaked shell and gently pour in custard. Immediately place in oven and bake 20 minutes to 25 minutes until puffed, brown and set. Cool 10 minutes and serve hot, or cool to room temperature.



4 chicken breast halves without skin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 limes

3 tablespoons olive oil -- divided

2 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

2 limes

2 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil

Rub chicken with salt and pepper, and place in a shallow dish or heavy-duty

zip-top plastic bag; set aside.

Grate lime rind and squeeze juice from 2 limes.

Combine grated lime rind, lime juice, 2 tablespoons oil, and vinegar; pour

over chicken. Cover or seal; chill 2 1/2 hours, turning occasionally.

Bake at 375 degrees F. in a roasting pan 45 minutes or until done.

Peel 2 limes and cut into thin slices.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet; add lime slices and

basil, and cook, stirring gently, 1 minute or until fruit just begins to

soften. Spoon over chicken. Yield: 4 servings.



2 large Yukon gold or red skin potatoes (1 pound total), scrubbed


4 ounces bacon (low-sodium, if possible), about 6 strips

1 small to medium onion, 4 to 8 ounces

1 rib celery

1 small green bell pepper, 6 ounces or less

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

3 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice

3 (6 1/2-ounce) cans chopped clams

1 1/4 cups crushed tomatoes

4 bay leaves

3 or 4 sprigs parsley, preferably flat-leaf, enough for 1/4 cup of chopped leaves

Freshly ground black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste


Quarter each potato (do not peel) lengthwise, cut crosswise into pieces about 3/8 inch wide. Put potatoes and salt to taste in large saucepan and barely cover potatoes with hot water. Cover and cook over high heat for 10 minutes. Drain.


While potatoes cook, put a 12-inch saute pan or Dutch oven over high heat, then cut bacon crosswise into 1-inch wide pieces. Add to pan. Peel and quarter onion. Trim celery rib and cut crosswise into 4 pieces. Put onion and celery in a food processor and pulse just until chopped. (Or chop by hand.) Add to pan and stir.


Cut top from bell pepper. Stand pepper upright and cut down inside pepper's four walls, separating them from center core and seeds. Put walls of bell pepper into food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. (Or chop by hand.) Add to pan and stir.


Chop thyme leaves if using fresh. Add clam juice, clams, tomatoes, thyme and bay leaves to pan. Cover and bring to a boil. Add potatoes, cover and boil until potatoes are just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, chop parsley, add to pan and stir well. Taste soup and adjust for salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Discard bay leaves and serve.




Dyes from simple kitchen ingredients produce eggs in surprising variations of soft, subtle hues, as a change from the more commonly seen bright colors.


You can use almost anything edible in your kitchen to color eggs, Chiarello has found.


Try beets for beige to bright pink eggs; coarsely chopped red cabbage for pale to royal blue; blueberries for lavender shades; brewed coffee for deep mocha color; cranberries for pale pink; turmeric for bright orange; or yellow onion skins with black peppercorns to produce beige to mauve tones.


Use 2 to 4 cups of the ingredient per pot, more for onion skins (about 4 to 6 cups) and less for spices such turmeric (start with about 1 tablespoon).


A warning: Use just one ingredient per batch to avoid muddy colors.




Place eggs in a deep, non-reactive saucepan. Add your coloring ingredient, then cover with a quart of cold water and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to fix the dye.


Gently simmer the eggs for 20 minutes or up to 3 hours, until you like the color.


For a beautifully delicate, shattered look, remove a few eggs and gently roll each in a soft towel. Return eggs to the pot for another half-hour.


You can eat the eggs so long as you haven't used anything toxic in the dye. If you don't eat them right away, you can store them, unshelled or with uncracked shells, in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks.



Try 'natural' dyes on eggs; they're all they are cracked up to be


(Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2001)


Michael Chiarello, founding chef and partner of Tra Vigne restaurant in St. Helena, comes from a big Turlock clan. The family's roots are in southern Italy where growing, preparing and enjoying food was at the center of everything, especially at Easter.


Chiarello has widened that family heritage by creating his own Easter rituals centered around seasonal living, combined with his professional interest in artfully served meals and fresh produce.


One of Chiarello's Easter activities is gathering friends to dye Easter eggs naturally. Dyes from common kitchen ingredients produce eggs in variations of soft, subtle hues, as a change from the popular bright, pastel colors.


He says use almost anything edible in your kitchen to color egg. The trick is time. The longer you leave the eggs in the mixture, the richer the color will be.


Combine one cup of water with one of the following color ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 10 to 20 minutes. Strain and add one tablespoon white vinegar. Add hard-cooked eggs to the hot liquid and let stand until desired shade is reached.


Try these natural dyes:


Bright pink to beige: Half cup cranberries, beets or frozen raspberries


Yellow or orange: one tablespoon ground turmeric or one cup (packed) yellow onion skins


Pale green: one cup (packed) spinach leaves


Pale to bright Blue: half cup canned or frozen blueberries or coarsely chopped red cabbage


Gold: two tablespoons dill seeds and half cup walnuts


Deep mocha: strongly brewed coffee


Lavender: blueberries


Use two to four cups of the ingredient per pot, more for onion skins (about four to six cups) and less for spices like turmeric (start with about one tablespoon).


A warning: Use just one ingredient per batch to avoid muddy colors. Instructions:


Place eggs in a deep, non-reactive pan. Add coloring ingredient, then cover with a quart of cold water and two tablespoons of white vinegar to fix the dye.


Gently simmer the eggs for 20 minutes or up to 3 hours, until you like the color.


For a beautifully delicate, shattered look, remove a few eggs and gently roll each in a soft towel. Return eggs to the pot for another half-hour.


You can eat the eggs so long as you haven't used anything toxic in the dye.



1 16-ounce can cream-style corn

1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugar

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup cooking oil

2 1/4 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

Dash cinnamon

Dash salt

1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins

1 cup chopped nuts of your choice


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together corn and sugars, then add eggs, oil and dry ingredients. Then mix in fruit and nuts. Place in greased muffin tins and bake for about 15 minutes.



2 c Bisquick

1 1/2 c Water, or milk

2 tb Orange peel, grated

1 t Cinnamon

1 Apple, cored and cut into thin wedges

1 tb Butter

3/4 c Sugar

1/3 c Pecans, coarsely chopped

Combine bisquick, water, orange peel and cinnamon in bowl. Stir until fairly smooth. In skillet, cook apple wedges in butter until tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in nuts and syrup. Heat through and keep warm. For each pancake, use 1/4 c

batter. When done, top with warm syrup mixture.





1 cup butter (2 sticks; see note)

2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup buttermilk

4 cups all-purpose flour (divided)

1 14-ounce package dates, cut in small pieces, or 2 cups raisins

1 pound orange candy slices, cut into small pieces

cups chopped nuts

1 cup flaked coconut

1 cup orange juice

1 cup powdered sugar, unsifted


Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of a 10-inch tube pan.


Beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating mixture well after each addition.


Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk. Alternately add to mixture with 31/2 cups of the flour.


Mix remaining1/2cup flour with dates, candy pieces and chopped nuts. Add to batter with coconut.


Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 3 hours or until cake springs back when lightly pressed.


Meanwhile, combine orange juice and powdered sugar. Mix well. Immediately pour over hot cake when it comes out of the oven.


Let stand at least 6 hours, or overnight, in pan. Remove from pan. Slice to serve.


Note: Use real butter or stick margarine that's at least 80 percent fat. Do not substitute reduced-fat spreads; their higher water content often yields less-satisfactory results.


Note: Cake may be wrapped in foil or plastic wrap. It will be good stored in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.



1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 1/2 cups peeled, cubed, cooked (baked or parboiled) potatoes

1 medium red onion, peeled and chopped

2 large green chiles, such as Anaheims, stemmed, seeded and chopped

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro


Heat butter and olive oil in a skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add rest of ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion has caramelized and potatoes have browned, or for about 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro before serving.



For cake:

11 ounces (2 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

Grated zest of 2 lemons (reserve juice for berries, below)

3 1/2 cups ground almonds (almond flour)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon extract

7 tablespoons corn oil or vegetable oil

5 large eggs, at room temperature, slightly beaten

2/3 cup polenta or coarse cornmeal

1/2 cup cake flour, sifted

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

For berries:

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

2 1/2 cups fresh berries, such as strawberries and blueberries, cleaned and sliced if necessary


For cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add almonds, vanilla, lemon extract, oil and eggs, and beat until well incorporated. Fold in polenta, cake flour, baking powder and salt, and combine thoroughly. Pour into a buttered and floured 10-inch cake pan. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool for 20 minutes, then remove from pan.


For berry sauce: Heat water and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar melts and a thick syrup is formed. As soon as first hint of brown caramelization shows, remove from heat and stir in lemon juice, then berries. Spoon berries over wedges of polenta cake and serve.



3 1/2 cups cornflakes cereal, crushed

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons red chili powder (preferably without salt; if salt is included, reduce

the amount of salt below to 1/2 teaspoon)

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons paprika

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 egg whites, lightly beaten

cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place crushed cornflakes on a plate. In a plastic bag, combine flour with seasonings. Add chicken breasts to bag and shake to coat. Dip chicken into beaten egg whites then roll in cornflakes. Place chicken on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Lightly spray tops of chicken too. Bake, turning once, for approximately 40 minutes, or until chicken has cooked through.




1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 lean boneless pork loin chops, 3 to 4 ounces each

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.


Combine pepper, garlic powder, salt and cayenne; mix well. Sprinkle pork chops with mixture and press into surface. Heat oil in an oven-safe nonstick skillet and brown chops in the oil.


Roast chops for 15 minutes, until they are cooked but still moist (160 degrees F on a meat thermometer). Remove pork chops from skillet. Combine drippings, blueberries, sugar, vinegar, parsley, thyme and sage in skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture begins to thicken. Serve sauce over chops.



2 pounds potatoes, such as Rosefir, Yellow Finn or new potatoes

2 shallots, diced

15 Nioise olives, sliced in half, pits discarded

Meyer lemon vinaigrette (see above)


Boil potatoes until tender, cool and cut into bite-size pieces. Add shallots, olives and enough vinaigrette to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If asparagus are in season, you may blanch a few stalks, cut them into bite-size pieces and add to the salad.



Savory, rich quiche can star at holiday meals








Special to the Mercury News


Some families focus their culinary energies on Easter dinner, and some on a lovely breakfast or brunch.


A savory, egg-rich quiche can star at any meal. Early in the day, it partners with fruit and coffee cake. Later on, it's delicious with salad vinaigrette or marinated vegetables, a hunk of baguette and a cool, fruity white wine.


We take quiche for granted today, but it wasn't that long ago that it was considered exotic food. One day in the bakery at St. Michael's Alley restaurant in Palo Alto, my baking guru and mentor Barbara Hiken declared she was going to make some quiches to put on the lunch menu. I had never attempted to make one on my own, so I was all eyes and ears.


Out came ``Mastering the Art of French Cooking'' by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, and she proceeded to make not one but three of the recipe variations. As she cooked bacon and chopped mushrooms, she punctuated the process with exclamations like ``Oh, how luscious,'' ``Where are the 8-inch removable bottom pans?'' and ``The Roquefort one will be the best!''


Ah, that smelly blue cheese on the salad station.


I decided, without voicing my opinion, that the classical quiche Lorraine and the mushroom with Swiss cheese would be my choices.


As Barbara's piping hot rounds came out of the oven, I inspected the deliberately rough and natural-looking puffed brown tops and uneven crusts. They weren't more than 1 1/2 inches deep. The first bites were glorious. The Roquefort tart was amazingly delicate and sumptuous, thanks to the combination of blue cheese and cream cheese. It became an instant favorite for special guests. I promptly marked the recipes in my copy of ``Mastering,'' where they are still prominent reminders of Barbara's quiches.


When I traveled to France a few years later, quiche was a standard in the zinc bars where I ate late lunches. And they were served for supper alongside a brothy goose liver soup at one of the homes I stayed in. By the time I returned to the States, quiche had found its way out of tiny bistros and onto mainstream restaurant menus geared toward vegetarian diners.


The original quiche was an egg and cream mixture cooked in a bread dough-lined pan, the dough rolled as thin as the crispier butter-rich short pastry crust is today. There has been a long-running dispute among French culinary historians as to just who invented the lovely rustic tart. In Lorraine, it is studded with some smoked bacon, a regional specialty. In neighboring Alsace, a flan aux oignons shows quiche with German influences, made with a bread dough crust and slow-cooked onions (it can also be called a kuchen).


Yes, quiche is rich, but it is not an everyday food. The savory custard can be made with milk instead of cream, but the results are far less harmonious and the custard a bit more rubbery. It's best to use milk and cream in combination, or with crème fraîche or sour cream.


Making my own quiches at home, I experimented with all sorts of fillings. My favorites were a layering of parcooked zucchini and a bit of basil; crab and chives; and lots of spinach and freshly grated nutmeg. When I was short on time, I used a frozen pie crust or store-bought puff pastry; both are excellent alternatives to your own pastry crust. I made my quiches thin, balancing the tender filling and flaky crust, and I made them thick, with the emphasis on the golden, creamy filling.


A classic quiche dish is a 9 1/2-inch shallow round. Made of white earthenware with straight sides, it is designed to work best with bread-dough crusts. I prefer the French loose-bottomed, round tart pans with fluted sides and shiny tinned finish. They come in both 9- and 11-inch diameters and with 1- and 2-inch high sides (you can buy rectangular and square ones, too). The crust browns beautifully and to serve, you just slip your hand underneath and push up; the outside ring falls down your forearm (be careful if it is hot). Then you can easily slide the quiche onto a serving plate. A 9- or 10-inch pie pan is an acceptable alternative. There are 4-inch fluted tin tartlet pans, usually used for fruit tarts, that make nice individual-sized quiche.


Quiche is too good to save for holidays. Hot, it makes an appetizing Sunday night supper. Cool, it's a welcome carry-along to a potluck or picnic. Cover leftovers and store in the refrigerator.



8 ounces bacon (about 10 slices)

1/2 of a 17 1/4-ounce package frozen puff pastry sheets (1 sheet), thawed

2 1/2 cups heavy cream

7 large eggs

1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper

1 cup coarsely shredded gruyere, Emmentaler or other Swiss cheese


Preheat oven to 375 degrees with a baking sheet set on the rack. Place bacon in a large skillet. Heat over medium heat for a minute to cook until crisp. Transfer with tongs to paper towel to drain. Coarsely chop.


On a lightly floured work surface, roll out pastry into a 12-inch circle. Fit into a 9-inch, 2-inch-deep fluted tin quiche pan. Press into pan and run rolling pin over top to trim pastry flush with rim. Place in freezer 15 minutes.


In a mixing bowl, combine cream, eggs and seasoning. Beat with a whisk to combine. Pour custard into frozen shell and sprinkle with bacon pieces, then cheese. Immediately place in oven on hot baking sheet and bake 40 to 45 minutes, until puffed and brown, and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean (the custard is set). Cool 10 minutes and serve hot, or cool to room temperature.








3 8-rib baby racks of lamb (3 pounds)

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

6 large cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary


1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


Place the lamb in a large glass or stainless steel baking pan. Season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine1/4cup lemon juice, wine,1/4cup olive oil, garlic and rosemary. Pour over lamb and toss to coat on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator, turning the meat occasionally, at least 6 hours or overnight.


Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Discard the marinade.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees, or ready the grill.


In the oven: Place the lamb racks fat side up in a nonstick roasting pan. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the thickness of the lamb racks.


On the grill: Oil the grill rack and place the lamb on the rack 3 inches above the heat source. Cover and cook until the bottom of the meat is golden brown and a little crispy, about 6 minutes. Turn the lamb over and cook the other side. Keep turning every 6 minutes until the rack is cooked to your preference.


An instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the lamb should read 140 degrees F, or cut along the bone with a sharp knife -- if the juices are clear, the meat is cooked.


Remove meat from the heat, cut into 2-rib slices and serve hot with sauce.


To make the sauce: In a bowl, whisk the mint, thyme,1/4cup lemon juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil.






1 pound whitefish fillets (see Note)

1 egg white

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons white wine

Salt and pepper

Oil for frying

1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges

1 tablespoon mild curry powder

1 small can pineapple pieces, drained and juice reserved, or 1/2 fresh

pineapple, peeled and cubed

1 small can mandarin orange segments, drained and juice reserved

1 small can sliced water chestnuts, drained

1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with juice of 1 lime

2 teaspoons sugar, optional

Pinch salt and pepper


(Note: Chicken may be used in place of the white fish and cooked in the same way. Garnish with Chinese parsley, if desired. Serve with plain rice, fried rice or cooked Chinese noodles.)


Starting at the tail end of the fillets, skin them using a sharp knife. Slide the knife back and forth along the length of each fillet, pushing the fish flesh along as you go. Cut the fish into even-sized pieces, about 2 inches.


Mix together the egg white, cornstarch, wine, salt and pepper. Place the fish in the mixture and leave to stand while heating the oil.


Place about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the oil in a wok and heat on medium-high. When the oil is hot, fry a few pieces of fish at a time until light golden brown and crisp. Remove the fish to paper towels to drain, and continue until all the fish is cooked.


Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the oil from the wok and add the onion. Stir fry the onion for 1 to 2 minutes and add the curry powder. Cook the onion and curry powder for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the juice from the pineapple and mandarin oranges and bring to a boil.


Take a spoonful of the boiling fruit juice and combine it with the cornstarch and lime juice mixture. Return this mixture to the wok and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Taste and add sugar, if desired. Add the fruit, water chestnuts and fried fish to the wok and stir to coat. Heat through 1 minute and serve immediately.





2 oranges

1/4 cup honey

2 cups flour

1/2 cup uncooked oatmeal (not instant)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs, slightly beaten

2/3 cup milk

5 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted


Grease a 12-cup muffin tin. Grate the rind from the oranges (orange part only). Set aside.


With a small sharp knife, remove all remaining peel and, if necessary, trim the oranges all around so that the slices will fit into the bottom of your muffin tin cups. Cut into slices about 1/4-inch thick. Pick out all seeds. Place about 1 teaspoon honey in bottom of each muffin cup. Top each with an orange slice.


In a large mixer bowl, combine flour, oatmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar. Stir with a fork to mix. Add grated orange rind, eggs, milk and melted butter. Stir just until mixed.


Spoon batter over orange slices, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean. Serve warm.




New York Times


As with anyone who starts cooking with ginger, I got to the point where I could never have enough in a dish. I knew there had to be a way to give it more than a supporting role.


I started experimenting with a simple chicken dish, using ginger almost as a vegetable instead of a seasoning. Unfortunately, the only ginger I could find was strong and fibrous. When I sliced it instead of mincing it, it was tough to chew and too powerful in flavor. Still, I could see potential, so I tried parboiling the ginger with a little sugar, which took the edge off and tenderized it.


Now, the tender young variety of ginger from Hawaii is available in abundance, with a pink tinge and a thin skin, and the dish is even simpler. The only drawback is that this ginger is found more easily in Asian markets than in supermarkets. San Francisco Bay Area Whole Foods markets sometimes also carry Hawaiian ginger.


It's worth seeking out, though, because it can literally be peeled with a spoon, and is tender and mild. Quick cooking and intense heat perfect its texture and taste, accomplishing just what I wanted in this dish, ginger in great quantity, without a lot of fussing.


The other ingredients -- chicken stock, soy sauce and lime juice -- complement rather than detract from the ginger. Boneless chicken breasts were overwhelmed by even the mildest ginger, so I switched to a cut-up chicken, using both white and dark meat. If I had to choose, I would use all thighs rather than all breasts.


The cooking technique is unusual: I first brown the chicken on top of the stove, then transfer it, skillet and all, to a very hot oven for about 20 minutes. I finish the dish back on the range with a little liquid and some minced ginger for an extra boost. This has the advantage of keeping the skin crisp while minimizing spatter and hassle. If you prefer, you can cook the chicken on top of the stove or in the oven for the entire time; in either case, add the sliced ginger after 10 minutes or so, so that it doesn't burn.


For a little more flavor, saute the chicken in dark sesame oil.




12 hard-cooked eggs

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

3 tablespoons sour cream

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

2 green onions, chopped

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Cayenne, salt, paprika to taste


Slice eggs lengthwise and carefully remove yolks. Mash yolks with remaining ingredients and pile back into egg whites, mounding in center. Chill.




1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup chopped green bell peppers

1 cup chopped red bell peppers

1 cup chopped red onions

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (see note) WEAR GLOVES

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon chili powder

11/2 pounds yams or sweet potatoes, cooked, peeled and mashed

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

11/2 teaspoons salt

8 8-inch flour tortillas

11/2 cups shredded Monterey jack (6 ounces) or cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add green and red peppers, onions, jalapeno, garlic, oregano and chili powder; saute 2 to 3 minutes or until onions are translucent. Place yams in a large mixing bowl and stir in pepper mixture. Add cilantro and salt; mix well.


Place 1/2 cup yam mixture in center of 1 flour tortilla and spread evenly to within 1/2 inch of the edge of the tortilla. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons shredded cheese. Place another tortilla over filling to form a "sandwich." Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.


Line a baking pan with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place tortillas on pan so that edges do not touch. Bake 5 to 8 minutes, or just until cheese melts. Remove from pan with a spatula and cut each quesadilla into wedges like pizza. Serve immediately.


Note: Wear gloves when handling fresh, canned, dried or pickled chilies; the oils can cause a burning sensation on your skin.




This recipe includes salsa, which is a great low-fat way to liven up broiled or baked fish.


You may substitute white rum for the tequila in the salsa or omit it altogether. The amount of sugar needed will vary depending on the sweetness of the grapefruit. For extra flavor, the swordfish may be marinated in a lime juice and oil mixture for up to 1 hour before cooking.


4 to 6 ruby or pink grapefruit (depending on size)

1 lime (you'll be using zest and juice)

1/2 green chili, seeded and finely sliced

1 green onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons tequila

Juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons oil

Black pepper to taste

4 swordfish steaks

Cilantro sprigs for garnish


Remove zest from the grapefruit and lime with a zester and set aside.


Remove all the pith from the grapefruit and segment them. Squeeze the lime for juice. Mix the grapefruit and citrus zests with the chili, onion, cilantro, sugar, tequila and lime juice and set aside.


Mix juice from one lime, oil and pepper together and brush both sides of the fish with the mixture. Place under a pre-heated broiler and cook for about 4 minutes each side depending on distance from the heat source.


To serve, place a cilantro sprig on each swordfish steak and serve with the grapefruit salsa.



1 pound young carrots, trimmed and peeled


1 pound dried tagliatelle or fettuccine

1 heaping tablespoon butter

3 tablespoons poppy seeds

1/2 bunch parsley, leaves finely chopped, stalks discarded

Freshly ground black pepper


Cut carrots into 2-inch pieces, then into 1/4-inch sticks. Blanch carrots in boiling water 3 to 4 minutes. Rinse with cold water and drain well.


Boil a large pot of water, enough to cover the pasta generously. Add salt and tagliatelle and boil until al dente, tender but firm to the bite.


Meanwhile, melt butter in medium pan. Add poppy seeds and saute over medium heat about 1 minute. Add carrots and parsley, and heat through. Season with salt and pepper.


Drain tagliatelle lightly to keep pasta moist. Stir in carrot mixture. Serve immediately on warmed plates.



1 1/2 pounds ground beef (can be precooked)

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/2 can water

Salt and pepper

1 pound grated cheese, your choice

1 package frozen tater tots


Brown meat and drain, if you haven't already done so. Line Dutch oven with foil. In Dutch oven, mix together meat, soup and water. Season to taste. Place tater tots on top of meat mixture, then sprinkle heavily with cheese. Bake for 1 hour at 370 degrees or follow directions for outdoor cooking, baking for one hour as well.




1 16 oz loaf French bread

1 1/2 cup shredded white cheese (6 oz)

1 1/2 cup shredded yellow cheese (6 oz)

1 8 oz pkg cream cheese cubed

10 eggs

2 cup milk

1/2 tsp dry mustard

dash of red pepper


Tear bread into chunks (10 cups). Place in greased 3 qt baking dish. Layer

first with cream cheese, then other two cheeses. Beat eggs with milk and dry

mustard. Sprinkle top sparingly with red pepper. Cover and chill overnight.

Bake uncovered 350 degrees for 55 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before

serving. Serves 10.




Like the Easter pie, this is another make-ahead dessert that improves after sitting. Simple to make, it keeps for a few days if stored in a tightly sealed plastic or tin container. This recipe is different from most of my grandmother's in that she serves the ricotta as a sweet topping, enhancing the cake's nutty flavor. My grandmother always sprinkled the cheese with fragrant wild strawberries that were as tiny as my fingernails. I've suggested alternatives, but any fresh fruit would complement this dish.

An easy trick for peeling the pesky skins off hazelnuts was to drop them, immediately after toasting, into a fine-meshed sieve. Use a clean kitchen towel to rub the nuts against the insides of the sieve, then carefully pull out each nut from its broken skin. This will free most from their casings.


Serves up to 12

1/2 pound shelled, whole hazelnuts, toasted and skins removed

2/3 cup sugar

1 stick butter, cut into 8 equal pieces and softened to room temperature

About 2 teaspoons flour (for cake pan)

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup flour

1/4 cup hazelnut liquor

2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Ricotta topping:

1 1/2 cups fresh ricotta

2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup fresh sliced fruit, such as strawberries, navel oranges or blood oranges


To make cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cooled, toasted hazelnuts in bowl of a food processor with 1 tablespoon sugar, pulsing until they are finely ground but not a paste. Remove from processor bowl and set aside.


Rub 1 piece of butter on insides of an 8-inch springform pan. Sprinkle lightly with 2 teaspoons flour. Tap excess flour out of the pan. Set aside.


Place remaining 7 pieces of butter and sugar in processor bowl. Process for 45 to 60 seconds, or until it is smooth and creamy.


Add egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and baking powder. Process for about 30 seconds. Pour this mixture into a deep bowl.


Add ground hazelnuts, folding them into butter mixture with a rubber spatula. Sift flour over this mixture, blending it in with spatula. Scrape it into prepared springform pan. Gently rap pan on counter 1 or 2 times to remove air bubbles and level surface of batter.


Place pan in middle of oven. Bake without opening oven door for 45 minutes. Test center of cake by piercing it with a toothpick. If it comes out dry, cake is done. If not, cook an additional 10-15 minutes.


Remove and cool on a wire rack. When cake pan cools enough to touch it, unlock side and remove it. Loosen cake bottom with a sharp, thin knife. Store in a tight-sealing container.


When ready to serve, put cake on a large plate. Poke about 2 dozen holes in its top surface with a toothpick. Spoon 1/4 cup hazelnut liqueur over holes. Let this soak in for a few minutes. Next, put 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar in a fine-meshed sieve and gently tap sides to distribute sugar over cake's top. Serve immediately with a few spoonfuls of ricotta and fruit topping on each slice.


To make ricotta topping: In a deep bowl, whisk ricotta, confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract until creamy and blended.




3 cups cooked chicken, shredded and chopped

1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs, divided

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup prepared basil pesto

2 teaspoons honey mustard

1/3 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers, drained

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 package (5 ounces) mixed salad greens

1/3 cup prepared balsamic vinegar and oil dressing


Golden Aioli: recipe follows


Tomato Basil Relish: recipe follows


In large bowl, mix together chicken, 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs, mayonnaise, egg, pesto, honey mustard, roasted peppers and red onion.


Using a 1/3-cup measure, shape chicken mixture into 8 cakes; lightly coat each with remaining 1/2 cup bread crumbs.


In large nonstick fry pan, place oil over medium high beat. Add chicken and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side; drain on paper towels.


Toss salad greens with dressing and divide among 4 serving plates. Top each with 2 chicken cakes; drizzle with golden aioli. Top each cake with dollop of tomato-basil relish.


Golden Aioli: In small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup mayonnaise and 2 tablespoons honey mustard.


Tomato-Basil Relish: In small bowl, mix together 1 cup seeded and chopped plum tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped red onion, 3 tablespoons (drained) chopped sun dried tomatoes, 2 tablespoons slivered basil leaves, 2 tablespoons prepared balsamic and oil dressing and 1 teaspoon prepared basil pesto.



1 large or 2 small shallots, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound fresh zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick

1 1/2 cups sour cream or creme fraiche

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt and pepper

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or combo cheddar/Monterey Jack

One 9-inch unbaked, frozen pastry crust (commercial or homemade)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place shallots and olive oil in a large skillet. Heat over medium-high heat for a minute to soften. Add zucchini and about 1/4 cup of water. Cook a few minutes to sweat and soften the vegetables (not brown them) until water evaporates. Set aside to cool.


In a mixing bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, flour and seasoning. Beat with a whisk to combine. Add cheese. Scrape zucchini mixture into frozen pie shell and pour in custard, completely covering vegetables. Immediately place in oven and bake 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325 degrees and bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until puffed, brown, and a knife inserted into center comes out clean (custard is set). Cool 10 minutes and serve hot, or cool to room temperature.


Variations: In place of zucchini, use 1/2 pound mushrooms, one 12-ounce package (thawed and squeezed dry) frozen spinach, 1 cup cooked and shelled shrimp or crab, 1/2 cup chopped roasted fresh or canned green chilies, or leave plain for a classic cheese quiche. Use different cheeses, such as feta, Jarlsberg, jack, Roquefort or goat cheese.



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