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

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Recipes from Spike & Jamie

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Contents Disk 218

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).

BAKED BEANS

BARBECUE SECRETS MADE PUBLIC

BEEF TRITIP

BLACKBERRY CURD

BRAISED PORK STEAK WITH SPANISH RICE

BRIDES WHITE BUTTER CAKE

BROILED FISH WITH GREEN TEA SALT

CHERRY INFORMATION

CHOCOLATE GANACHE

CINNAMON APPLES

CORN BREAD AND BACON STUFFED PORK CH

DECORATOR FROSTING

DINKS BBQ SAUCE

EASY WHITE CAKE

EXQUISITE STRAWBERRY JAM

FAUX PASTA WITH FAUX MEATBALLS DESSERT

FRESH FRUIT SHAKE

FROZEN STRAWBERRY DAIQUIRI MIX

GINGER LIME GLAZED STRAWBERRIES

GRASSY GREEN VEGETABLES

GREEK ORZO SALAD WITH FRESH MINT

GREEN BEANS AND POTATOES

GREEN TEA POWDER SALT ENHANCE FISH

GRILLED HERBED SHRIMP

GRILLED PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS

HOW MUCH CAKE TO MAKE

JIMS FAST DINO BONES

LEMON CURD

LEMON OIL DRIZZLE

LIGHT GRILLED ZUCCHINI

MANGO SALSA WITH BLACK PEPPER

OATMEAL CAKE

OLD FASHIONED SOUR CREAM PIE

PHILLY CHEESE STEAK WRAPS

PLAY DOH COOKIES

PORTUGUESE CHICKEN SOUP

POTATOES AU GRATIN

PUTTING IT TOGETHER REQUIRES PRECISI

SALMON SOU

SPAGHETTI AND SPICY RICE BALLS

SPECIAL OCCASION CAKES INFORMATION

SPICY CHICKEN WITH PEANUTS

STIR FRIED SNOW PEAS

STRAWBERRIES WITH CANNOLI CREAM

STRAWBERRIES WITH SPICED RHUBARB SAU

STRAWBERRY CHICKEN SALAD

STRAWBERRY FRUIT SALAD

STRAWBERRY GLACE PIE

STRAWBERRY INFORMATION OAT FLOUR MUFFINS

SUGAR SYRUP FOR SOAKING LAYERS

SUPER BROWNIE DESSERT

TIPS FOR CAKE DECORATORS

TWO MUSTARD CHICKEN

WEDDING BUTTERCREAM

WINE BERRY SAUCE

 

 

 

 

BAKED BEANS

 

1 pound small white beans, rinsed

4 1/2 c. water

1/3 c. molasses

1/4 c. brown sugar

1/4 tsp. cloves

2 tsp. dry mustard

1/4 to 1/3 pound salt pork, sliced

1/2 tsp. salt

1 onion, whole

Combine all ingredients in crock pot except for the onion, bury that in the middle. Cover and cook on LOW for 13 to 14 hours. Stir occasionally if possible, if doing overnight, check in the morning and add a little more hot or boiling water if necessary (I've never had to). I've also stuck cloves into the onion if I didn't have any ground cloves; use 4 to 5 of them. Also, once when I was in a real hurry I put the 1/4 pound of salt pork in whole (the rind can be difficult to cut) and cut it up after. The onion practically disappears after cooking so long, and the aroma of the beans cooking is heavenly. Do not double for 4-quart cooker, but OK to double for 5-quart.

 

BARBECUE SECRETS FOR PUBLIC CONSUMPTION

By the Mercury News

 

Finally, your barbecue secrets are revealed.

 

A few weeks ago, we asked readers to send us barbecue tips -- for sauce, dry rub, technique, coals, you name it. We got everything from sauce to meat. And even a few secret ingredients.

 

Like soda pop. Tim Sullivan of San Jose, a transplanted Southerner who was born and raised in Memphis and moved to Atlanta before coming to the Bay Area 15 years ago, adds half a can of soda to his sauce to sweeten it, rather than using sugar or molasses. He prefers original Coke.

 

For ``fall off the bone'' tender pork ribs, Mark Stanczak of San Jose bakes his before barbecuing. First, he dry rubs the ribs liberally. Then he puts them into a large, flat baking pan, covers it with foil and bakes at 250 to 275 degrees for three hours. Only then does he sauce 'em and put them on the grill -- about 5 minutes per side.

 

Hathalie Monfort of Sunnyvale, another fan of slow cooking in the oven, says the secret is marinating the ribs in glass dishes for at least half an hour. Use a sauce of ketchup, mustard, vinegar and a little garlic. Years ago, Monfort's mother bought that recipe -- along with a roadhouse in Kansas -- for $100. Today, Monfort gives away the sauce, which she's labeled ``Izetta's Kansas Roadhouse Bar B Que.''

 

A few of you mentioned how critical it is to remove the membrane from the back of the slab. ``This will make the ribs much more tender,'' wrote Randy Bynum of San Jose. Stanczak adds that the sinew prevents seasoning from reaching the back side of the ribs. Sam Carlino, owner of Sam's BBQ in San Jose, suggests asking the butcher to do it for you.

 

Always cook meat fat side up, Carlino advises. And when smoking large cuts of meat for long periods of time, he wrote, always maintain a constant temperature.

 

``Most people will fire up their smoker with the temperature high, then put the meat in and it cools down, then put more wood in and raise the temperature and then in an hour open it up to see what the meat looks like, releasing all of the precious heat out,'' Carlino wrote. The meat stresses during those temperature changes and releases more internal juice. The result? Dry, tough barbecue.

 

Carlino also offered a chicken tip: Always stuff marinade or rub under the skin, as well as on top.

 

If all of this has you hungry for 'cue, Jim Schrempp of Saratoga offers his recipe for Jim's Fast Dino-bones. Dink Martin of San Jose sent in a sauce recipe. And Carlino offered a dry rub.

 

BEEF TRITIP

WITH COUSCOUS AND PEAS

Makes 6 servings

1 3/4 pounds boneless beef triangle tip (tri-tip) or top round roast

1/2 cup dry red wine

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce or hoisin sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

2 1/4 cups beef broth, about

1 1/2 cups couscous, uncooked

1 1/2 cups fresh peas or one 10-ounce package frozen petite peas, thawed

1/4 cup sliced green onion

Fresh parsley sprigs

Salt and pepper

 

Trim and discard any excess fat from roast. Place meat in a 9-by-13-inch metal roasting pan.

 

In a bowl, combine wine, soy sauce, garlic and coriander. Brush wine mixture evenly over roast. Bake in a 425-degree oven, brushing 4 times with mixture (if pan drippings begin to burn, add 4 to 6 tablespoons water to pan and scrape browned bits free). Reserve any remaining wine mixture. Roast until a thermometer inserted in thickest part registers 125 degrees F for rare, 35 to 45 minutes. After 25 minutes, check temperature every 5 to 10 minutes.

 

Transfer meat to a carving board; reserve all meat juices. Let roast stand, loosely covered.

 

Meanwhile, pour meat juices and remaining wine mixture into a measuring cup and add enough broth to make 21/4 cups total. Pour into roasting pan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat; stir and scrape browned bits free.

 

Add couscous; stir until boiling. Remove from heat and cover pan very tightly with foil; let stand until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Stir in peas, green onion and any juices on the carving board that have accumulated from the roast.

 

Arrange sliced meat and couscous on platter. Garnish with parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

BLACKBERRY CURD

Make this at least one day ahead. Make 2 1/2 recipes to fill a 3-tier cake, or make lemon curd, too, and use both, alternating layers.

Makes about 3 cups

1 stick ( 1/2 cup) unsalted butter

4 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen (thaw frozen berries in refrigerator overnight

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2/3 cup granulated sugar

4 large whole eggs

2 large egg yolks

 

Melt butter in top of double boiler. If using frozen berries, drain off juice. (Discard juice or reserve for another use.)

 

Place berries, lemon juice, sugar and eggs and yolks in food processor; process until a thick emulsion is formed, 20 seconds.

 

Pour mixture into hot butter, stirring constantly with wire whisk. Cook over simmering water on medium heat, stirring constantly, until very thick, 20 to 30 minutes, and mixture reaches 180 degrees. Pour into a glass jar and let cool. Refrigerate overnight to firm before filling cake layers. Keeps 2 months.

 

Variation: Use raspberries instead of blackberries.

 

 

BRAISED PORK STEAK WITH SPANISH RICE

1 1/2 lbs. Shoulder steak

1/2 to 3/4 C chopped onion

1/2 C green pepper, chopped

1/2 C red pepper, chopped

1/2 C yellow pepper, chopped

1/2 C chopped celery

2 1/2 C canned tomatoes

1 C water

1 tsp. salt

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tsp. paprika

2 tsp. sugar

1 cup uncooked rice

Wipe meat with damp cloth; cut off fat edging the steaks. Brown meat slowly

on both sides. (Use a cast iron skillet, if possible. No added fat is necessary.)

To skillet, add all the rest of the ingredients, except rice, and turn heat to low. Cover pan. Cook 30 minutes. Add rice (regular, NOT instant nor converted rice!) and simmer, covered, 30 to 40 minutes longer, until meat and rice are very tender. I usually remove the meat and put the rice into the liquid, then put the meat on top. I served it with a tossed salad and -- believe it or not -- succotash.

Great combination of flavors.

 

BRIDES WHITE BUTTER CAKE

For 2 6-inch layers: (Bake 35-40 minutes)

1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/3 cups sugar

2 1/3 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 large egg whites

1 cup whole milk

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, almond extract, coconut extract, Boyajian citrus oils (lemon, orange, or lime), or orange or rose flower water

 

For 2 9-inch layers: (Bake 40-45 minutes)

2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened

2 2/3 cups sugar

4 2/3 cups cake flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

8 large egg whites

2 cups whole milk

4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, almond extract, coconut extract, Boyajian citrus oils (lemon, orange, or lime), or orange or rose flower water

 

For 2 12-inch layers: (Bake 50-55 minutes)

For each 12-inch cake pan, double the entire recipe for the 9-inch layers. You will have to make the recipe twice unless you have a large-capacity electric mixer.

To prepare pans: Parchment circles to fit cake pans (buy them precut or trace and cut your own.)

Butter-flavored vegetable cooking spray

Flour

 

Line two cake pans of the desired size with parchment, spray with butter-flavored vegetable cooking spray and dust with flour. Or use Baker's Joy, a fat-and-flour vegetable baking spray. (If you have only one pan, plan to bake half the batter at a time. Meanwhile, refrigerate remaining batter.)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy.

 

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine milk, egg whites and vanilla or other flavoring in a glass measuring cup or bowl.

 

Beating on low speed, add a third of the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Add a third of the milk mixture and repeat until dry ingredients and milk mixture have been used up. Beat on medium until smooth and creamy. Scrape batter into prepared pans, which should be half to two-thirds full. Tap pan gently on counter once to even top and remove large air pockets.

 

Bake cakes on rack in center of oven. Allow at least 2 inches between pans and away from oven walls so layers will bake evenly. Bake larger layers in stages rather than crowding (refrigerate filled cake pan until baking).

 

Bake until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Let cakes cool on rack about 5 minutes. Run a knife around edges to loosen. Invert cake onto rack and peel off parchment liner. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting and decorating.

 

Variation: For a poppy seed cake, use 3 tablespoons of poppy seeds for each 2 cups of flour and use a combination of vanilla and almond extracts.

 

If your mixer's capacity is less than 5 quarts, make the frosting in 2 batches. This recipe should be enough to frost and simply decorate a 3-tier wedding cake. For a single 8-inch cake or extra for touch-up or decorating, make a quarter of the recipe.

 

BROILED FISH WITH GREEN TEA SALT

Serves 4

1 1/2 to 2 pounds bluefish or mackerel filets

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

1 tablespoon powdered green tea

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

1 lime, quartered

 

Preheat broiler. Arrange fish on broiling pan, skin side down, brush lightly with sesame oil. Mix together tea and salt.

 

Place pan on broiler rack so that fish is as close as possible to heating element (as close as 2 inches). Broil, checking fish once or twice to make sure it is browning but not burning; lower rack if necessary. When fish is browned and a thin-bladed knife penetrates it with little resistance, it is done. Total cooking time in a good broiler will be about 5 minutes.

 

Sprinkle fish liberally with tea-salt mixture, serve with lime wedges.

 

Variation: For broiled halibut, red snapper or swordfish with green tea salt, melt 1-2 tablespoons butter and turn fish in it once or twice before broiling as above. Thicker halibut or swordfish steaks may take up to 10 minutes and need to be turned once. Substitute lemon for lime.

 

CHERRY INFORMATION

 

Cherries are packed with flavor, nutrients

By NANCY FELDMAN, THE MODESTO BEE ( Wednesday, June 06, 2001)

 

Local cherries now are available in markets, farmers markets or roadside stands. Bing cherries feature an appetizing red-mahogany color, a relatively small stone and fruit that is crisp and juicy. But the biggest benefit is its distinctive taste; it explodes with rich, sweet flavor.

 

Northern California is known worldwide for its quality produce. But the state's Bing cherry may be the finest example of the region's growing conditions coming together to create a quality fruit. In the cherry orchards of the fertile San Joaquin and Santa Clara valleys, trees receive the ideal combination of nutrient-rich soil, sunny days and mild nights. Superior growing conditions result in bountiful harvests.

 

California ranks third nationwide in sweet-cherry production. The harvest begins in mid-May and usually lasts a mere month, with foothill cherry orchards typically the latest to ripen. San Joaquin, Tulare, Stanislaus and Santa Clara counties are the state's top producers, but many other counties have significant sweet-cherry crops as well, including El Dorado, Solano and Yolo.

 

Nutritionally, a one-cup serving of cherries has 90 calories, minimal fat and 3 grams of dietary fiber. One serving of cherries also provides about 15 percent of the daily allowance for vitamin C.

 

Within the past two decades, the scientific community has begun to recognize the value of fruits and vegetables beyond their nutrient contribution and their role in helping to prevent vitamin deficiencies. A number of phytochemicals (bioactive non-nutrient plant compounds) have been identified in fruits, vegetables and other plant foods and have been linked to reduction in risk for chronic disease.

 

It is the hypothesized anti-cancer effects of fruits and vegetables that have received most attention, but beneficial effects related to coronary heart disease, stroke and blood pressure also have been observed. In addition, there is evidence that higher fruit and vegetable intake may contribute to weight control, the prevention of macular degeneration and bone health. Furthermore, because free radicals are thought to be involved in the etiology of a wide range of diseases, and fruits and vegetables provide significant amounts of antioxidants, the benefits of fruits and vegetables may be even greater than presently recognized.

 

Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of certain vitamins and minerals, fiber and a variety of phytochemicals. All of these components likely exert some health benefits. And it may be that, in part, the reported benefits of fruits and vegetables are due to these components working together in an additive or synergistic manner. However, it is the phytochemicals in plant foods that have attracted most interest.

 

CHOCOLATE GANACHE

Makes 8 cups, enough to fill a 3-tier wedding cake

1 1/2 pounds semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

4 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup rum, Grand Marnier, Cognac or Chambord

2 teaspoons vanilla extract or instant espresso powder

 

Place chocolate and cream in heavy saucepan. Over low heat, melt chocolate. Remove from heat and stir with whisk. Add liquor and vanilla or espresso powder. Transfer to mixer bowl, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface to avoid a crust, and refrigerate 6 hours to overnight.

 

Remove firmed, chilled ganache from refrigerator and beat on medium-high using stand mixer with balloon whisk attachment. Be sure to watch while mixing, as ganache thickens quickly to soft peaks. Do not overbeat. Ganache should be smooth, soft and fluffy.

 

Variation: Fold in 1 cup canned sweetened chestnut puree (use brandy as your flavoring) in the final stages of whipping.

 

CINNAMON APPLES

6 to 8 Apples, any variety

3/4 c. sugar

1/2 c. red hots, the little candies

1/3 c. water

Sprinkle sugar over the bottom of 9 X 13 inch pan. Sprinkle red hots

over sugar.

 

Cut apples in half and core. Leave on peelings. Arrange cut side down over sugar and red hots. Use enough apples to completely cover bottom of pan.

 

Pour water over apples. Cover and bake 45 to 60 minutes at 350° or

until tender. May be served warm or cold.

 

CORN BREAD AND BACON STUFFED PORK CHOPS

Serves 6

6 pork rib or loin chops, 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick (about 4 pounds)

4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 medium onion, chopped ( 1/2 cup)

1 small green bell pepper, chopped ( 1/2 cup)

1 cup corn bread stuffing crumbs

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (2 ounces)

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves

1/4 teaspoon pepper

 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Make a pocket in each pork chop by cutting into side of chop toward bone. Cook bacon in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Stir in onion and bell pepper. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender; remove from heat. Drain. Stir in stuffing crumbs and water until well mixed. Stir in cheese.

 

Sprinkle both sides of pork with seasoned salt, marjoram and pepper. Fill each pocket with about 1/3 cup corn bread mixture. Cook pork in same skillet over medium heat, turning once, until brown. Place pork in ungreased 9-by-13 pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.

 

Bake 45 minutes. Uncover and bake about 15 minutes longer or until pork is slightly pink when cut near bone.

 

DECORATOR FROSTING

4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

1 tablespoon meringue powder

1 cup shortening

2 tablespoons water (see Note)

 

Mix all ingredients until well blended. Smooth consistency is important. Stores indefinitely in an airtight container.

 

Note: Depending on how you're using frosting, you'll vary amount of water. Add 2 tablespoons if you're making flowers. Add 3 tablespoons for medium consistency (used for other decorating techniques, such as ribboning or making shells). Add 4 tablespoons for a thinner frosting (used to frost the cake).

 

DINKS BBQ SAUCE

 

1 tablespoon oil

5-6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup onion, chopped

1 1/3 cups catsup

2/3 cup apricot or pineapple preserves

Chili powder to taste

 

In oil, saute garlic and onion until tender and brown. Add catsup and preserves. Stir until boiling. Add chili powder. Remove from heat, let cool to thicken.

 

Store any leftover in refrigerator.

 

Note: ``If you're diabetic, like I am, use no-sugar preserves and no-salt catsup,'' Martin writes. ``The sauce will still taste great.''

 

EASY WHITE CAKE

Some bakers are reluctant to share their favorite cake recipes. And it's common for some cake decorators to use packaged mixes. This recipe worked well for a birthday cake I made for my mother-in-law.

Serves 12-16

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening

1 cup low-fat milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 egg whites

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8- or 9-inch round baking pans. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add shortening, milk and vanilla. Using electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix on low speed about 1 minute. Stop and scrape bowl. Add egg whites, increase mixer speed and beat about 1 minute, or until smooth and fluffy.

 

Pour batter into two pans.

 

Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

 

EXQUISITE STRAWBERRY JAM

Makes 4 half pints

 

For quite a few years, readers have been asking me if my recipe for Peerless Red Raspberry Preserves would work with strawberries. I'm happy to report that it does, but the jam is "soft." It's a luscious preserve, with no commercial pectin giving it an unnatural firmness -- and it's full of fresh Oregon strawberry flavor. All that and only 7 minutes of cooking.

 

The secret is the brief cooking in small batches (this recipe cannot be doubled). A wide, shallow pan (a 12-inch skillet is perfect) is essential.

 

4 heaping cups washed and hulled strawberries (1 pound, 6 ounces; to ensure a

high pectin content, about1/4of the berries should be slightly underripe)

31/2 cups granulated sugar

1/3 cup strained fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)

1 teaspoon butter

 

Coarsely chop small batches of berries in a food processor by pulsing several times (you can also do this by hand, of course, but it's slow). You should end up with 31/2 cups.

 

In a large bowl, combine the berries with the sugar and lemon juice. Gently stir the mixture using a rubber spatula until the sugar is evenly distributed and the juices have begun to flow; let the mixture stand, stirring gently every 20 minutes or so, for at least 1 hour, but no longer than 2 hours.

 

Wash 4 half-pint jars. Keep hot until needed. Prepare lids as manufacturer directs.

 

Scrape the mixture into a 12-inch skillet or saute pan. Add the butter (this controls the production of foam). Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a straight-ended wooden or nylon spatula. Lower the heat to keep the mixture from boiling over. Boil for 7 minutes.

 

Remove from heat. Let the jam settle for about 20 seconds; if any foam remains, skim it off.

 

Ladle hot preserves into 1 hot jar at a time, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Wipe jar rim with a clean, damp cloth. Attach lid. Fill and close remaining jars. Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (at 1,000 to 3,000 feet, process for 15 minutes; 3,000 to 6,000 feet, for 20 minutes; above 6,000 feet, for 25 minutes).

 

Note: This is a very loose jam -- the kind that moves around in the jar slightly as it's tilted. There's also a strong likelihood of fruit floating toward the top of the jar, which creates a clear layer of jam at the bottom. If you notice that the clear space hasn't started to fill in with fruit after 3 hours out of the canner, begin a cycle of gently turning the jars upside down for 60 minutes at a time, then flipping them upright for 60 minutes; repeat several times during the day or night. This really does seem to work.

 

FAUX PASTA WITH RED SAUCE AND MEATBALLS DESSERT

For the ``pasta'' crepes:

1 cup flour

4 large eggs

1 1/4 cups milk

Pinch of salt

1/2 stick melted butter

For ``meatballs'':

1 basket strawberries, with berries hulled and cut into ball shapes

1 cup melted milk chocolate

For ``red sauce'':

1 basket fresh strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

For ``pasta seasoning'':

1/2 stick unsalted butter

3 tablespoons sugar

Grated rind of 1 orange

1/3 cup orange juice

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/3 cup Grand Marnier or Cointreau

A few cut strawberries

For crepes: Place ingredients one at a time in a blender and blend at high speed for 10 seconds. Heat a crepe pan on medium high until hot enough to sizzle a drop of water. Brush lightly with clarified butter and pour 2 tablespoons batter into center. Spread in pan. Cook both sides, 10 seconds each side. Remove from pan, stacking crepes atop each other if serving same day. If not, stack crepes, separating each one with a piece of wax paper; refrigerate or freeze. Makes 21 crepes.

 

For meatballs: Dip strawberry balls in milk chocolate. Let set in refrigerator until firm.

 

For red sauce: Blend berries and sugar on medium speed in blender until still a bit chunky. Set aside.

 

For pasta seasoning: In a large skillet, bring all ``seasoning'' ingredients except cut strawberries to a boil. Reduce heat. Add cut strips of pasta (crepes) and a few cut strawberries. Stir fry to heat through. Put in large pasta bowl. Drizzle with red sauce. Garnish with meatballs.

 

FRESH FRUIT SHAKE

Makes 2 servings

 

1 cup fresh or frozen ripe strawberries

1 large ripe banana

3/4 cup pineapple, cranberry or grape juice

3 ice cubes

 

Before you start: Wash your hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water.

 

If you are using fresh strawberries, cut off their stems with a small, sharp knife.

 

Peel the banana and break it into chunks. Put the chunks in the container of an electric blender. Add the berries to the blender, then add the fruit juice and ice cubes.

 

Put the lid on the blender. Fold a kitchen towel in half, drape it over the blender and firmly hold down the lid with your hand. Turn the blender on to high speed -- continue pressing down on the lid so that it stays in place and is not forced off by the whirling liquid inside. Blend until the shake is thick and smooth, about 1 minute. Pour the shake into 2 glasses. Serve immediately.

 

FROZEN STRAWBERRY DAIQUIRI MIX

Makes about 4 2/3 cups

 

2 cups granulated sugar

1/3 cup lime juice (from 2 medium limes)

1/4 cup water

1 quart fresh strawberries, washed and hulled

 

Combine sugar, lime juice and water in bowl. Stir to mix, then let stand until sugar is almost completely dissolved, about 15 minutes (mixture will be thick).

 

In blender jar or food processor, combine the sugar mixture with the berries. Blend until smooth.

 

Pack into half-pint, pint or quart-size freezer containers; freeze. Or pour the mixture into ice-cube trays and freeze until firm, unmold and pack into freezer bags that seal.

 

The mixture will become solid, but will have the consistency of a very firm sherbet, so you will be able to scoop portions from the main batch, then reseal the mixture if you desire.

 

For each strawberry daiquiri: In blender jar, combine 3 or 4 tablespoons rum (light or dark),1/4cup frozen strawberry daiquiri mix (2 average-sized cubes that have been frozen in ice-cube trays) and about3/4cup of ice cubes (7 or 8 average-sized cubes). Blend until smooth. Most blender jars can handle up to 4 servings.

 

For a nonalcoholic drink, replace the rum with unsweetened pineapple juice.

 

GINGER LIME GLAZED STRAWBERRIES

Makes 4 servings

 

1 pint fresh strawberries, rinsed, dried, hulled and cut in halves or quarters (1 pound)

1/2 teaspoon peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh green chili, to taste (see note)

3 tablespoons lime juice

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 tablespoons water

Sour cream or plain yogurt

11/2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint

 

Place berries in medium mixing bowl.

 

In small saucepan combine ginger, chili, lime juice, sugar and water. Heat and stir until mixture boils and sugar dissolves. Pour syrup over the berries and mix well. Divide the berries among 4 serving dishes or stemmed glasses. Top with sour cream or yogurt and sprinkle with chopped mint to serve.

 

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

 

GRASSY GREEN VEGETABLES

WITH CRUSHED PEPPER AND SEA SALT

 

2 pounds asparagus

3/4 pound sugar snap peas

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt

 

Snap off the ends of the asparagus. (If sandy, remove the scales with a small paring knife.) Rinse well. Cut on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces and set aside. Snap the ends from the peas and pull the strings. Rinse well and set aside.

 

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the vegetables and immediately set the timer for 3 minutes. (Don't wait for the water to come back to the boil before timing.) Drain and rinse briefly with cold water, then plunge into a pan of ice water to stop the cooking and to preserve the bright green color.

 

When the vegetables are chilled, drain well. Spread on a baking sheet lined with several layers of paper towels. Pat dry. Wrap in dry paper towels, place in a plastic bag and refrigerate. (This can be done 24 hours in advance.)

 

In a large skillet on medium-low heat, warm the crushed red pepper flakes in the olive oil for 3 minutes. Add the vegetables. Warm the vegetables, turning occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until just heated through. Sprinkle with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Serves eight.

 

GREEK ORZO SALAD WITH FRESH MINT

 

2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cups orzo pasta

1/3 cup pasta cooking water

6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium cucumber

1 cup finely chopped green onions

1/2 pound (2 cups) tiny grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1/3 cup coarsely chopped mint

1/3 cup coarsely chopped parsley

1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the orzo, adding the salt. Cook according to package directions. Reserve 1/3 cup cooking water and drain the pasta. Cool about 10 minutes.

 

In a small jar, combine the lemon juice and olive oil. Close lid and shake to blend well. Reserve about 3 tablespoons separately; set aside in the refrigerator.

 

Trim the ends of the cucumber and peel. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Dice into half-inch pieces. In a large serving bowl, combine the cucumber, green onions and tomatoes. Set aside about 1 tablespoon each of the mint and parsley, then add the remaining to the salad. Stir in the orzo. Pour the lemon dressing and pasta cooking water over the salad, mixing well. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate both the reserved herbs and the salad.

 

About 1 hour before serving, remove the salad from the refrigerator and stir in the reserved dressing, mint and parsley. Set aside at room temperature until ready to serve. Serves eight.

 

GREEN BEANS AND POTATOES

 

5 to 6 small potatoes, peeled and quartered

1/2 pound bacon, cut in pieces

One 64-ounce can Allen green beans

Fry bacon in large stock pot.

Once it has browned, add the potatoes and green beans with liquid. Add

enough water to cover mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover with

lid. Simmer for approximately 1 hour or until potatoes are soft. Salt and

pepper to taste. Serve with biscuits or just bread and butter.

 

GREEN TEA POWDER SALT ENHANCE FISH

MIX ADDS SUBTLE, SMOKY FLAVOR, BY MARK BITTMAN, New York Times

 

Green tea, which has moved well into the mainstream as a drink lately, has another, more potent use: in cooking. A sprinkling of the finely powdered green leaves, dusted over simple broiled fish as if it were freshly ground black pepper, adds a subtle, smoky flavor that instantly changes the nature of the dish. For a surprising accent, mix a little salt with the green tea, as the Japanese sometimes do.

 

Both green and black tea come from the same bush, Camellia senensis, but black leaves are fermented and the green are simply dried. The flavors of all teas vary widely, and although black teas are stronger, green have more herbal overtones, making them suitable for use with food.

 

Green tea powder, meant to be used as a condiment, can be found in Japanese specialty shops, but it is relatively expensive and not really essential. When I ran out, I tried grinding my own from some plain green tea bought at my local Asian market. If there were differences they were lost on me.

 

The clear taste of the powder is ephemeral, but it seems to have the ability to cut through stronger flavors, especially when teamed with lime or lemon juice. It's good sprinkled on broiled chicken or Cornish hen, for example, but I like it best on full-flavored fish, including halibut, swordfish, red snapper, bluefish and mackerel.

 

With white-flesh fish, the tea tastes best teamed with butter and lemon; fish with dark flesh is complemented by sesame oil and lime -- though none of this is dogma.

 

I cook both types of fish under the broiler, as close to the heat source as possible. The salt, tea and citrus are added just before serving to keep their flavors as bright as possible.

 

You can use an electric coffee grinder or a spice grinder to turn the leaves into powder, but clean them thoroughly before processing the tea. Either wipe the grinder well, first with a barely damp paper towel and then with a dry one, or grind a couple of tablespoons of rice to a powder, empty them out and wipe the grinder with a paper towel.

 

You can repeat the process after you grind the tea, although its flavor is so mild that you probably won't notice the next time you grind coffee or spices.

 

GRILLED HERBED SHRIMP

 

2 1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp (about 15 per pound)

1 cup finely chopped sweet onion

3 medium cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 cup lemon juice (juice of 1 to 2 lemons)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Mango Salsa (see previous recipe)

Metal or wooden skewers

 

Peel and devein the shrimp. Put into a large nonreactive bowl. Add the onion, garlic, basil and parsley. Put the Dijon, dry mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper into jar. Close and shake well to combine. Pour over the shrimp, cover and refrigerate up to 6 hours.

 

If using wooden skewers, soak in water to cover for 30 minutes before threading shrimp. Remove shrimp from marinade; discard marinade. Thread the shrimp on the skewers (5 to 6 shrimp on a 12-inch skewer.) Prepare a grill. (If using a gas grill, preheat on high and reduce the heat to medium when cooking the shrimp. If using a grill grid, preheat until hot.) Lightly oil the cooking rack. Place the shrimp on the grill and cover. Cook just until opaque around the edges, about 2 minutes. Turn and sprinkle with1/4 teaspoon salt. Grill until the shrimp turn completely opaque, the color changes to deep pink-orange and are firm to the touch, about 3 to 5 additional minutes.

 

Serve with the salsa. Serves eight.

 

GRILLED HERBED SHRIMP

 

2 1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp (about 15 per pound)

1 cup finely chopped sweet onion

3 medium cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 cup lemon juice (juice of 1 to 2 lemons)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Mango Salsa (see previous recipe)

Metal or wooden skewers

 

Peel and devein the shrimp. Put into a large nonreactive bowl. Add the onion, garlic, basil and parsley. Put the Dijon, dry mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper into jar. Close and shake well to combine. Pour over the shrimp, cover and refrigerate up to 6 hours.

 

If using wooden skewers, soak in water to cover for 30 minutes before threading shrimp. Remove shrimp from marinade; discard marinade. Thread the shrimp on the skewers (5 to 6 shrimp on a 12-inch skewer.) Prepare a grill. (If using a gas grill, preheat on high and reduce the heat to medium when cooking the shrimp. If using a grill grid, preheat until hot.) Lightly oil the cooking rack. Place the shrimp on the grill and cover. Cook just until opaque around the edges, about 2 minutes. Turn and sprinkle with1/4 teaspoon salt. Grill until the shrimp turn completely opaque, the color changes to deep pink-orange and are firm to the touch, about 3 to 5 additional minutes.

 

Serve with the salsa. Serves eight.

 

GRILLED PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS

WITH TAPENADE VINAIGRETTE

 

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

2 tablespoons finely minced fresh basil, divided

2 tablespoons finely minced parsley, divided

2 tablespoons bottled tapenade (a Provencal spread, made of capers, black

olives, and anchovies, pureed in olive oil) or black olive paste

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 large portobello mushrooms, about 5 inches in diameter

 

In a small jar, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, 1 tablespoon each basil and parsley, tapenade, olive oil, salt and pepper. Close jar and shake well. Refrigerate up to two days.

 

Cut the stems of the portobellos flush with the caps. Scrape out the gills and wipe caps with a damp paper towel. Lightly oil the grill rack and place over medium coals. Place the portobellos smooth side up on the grill and brush with some of the vinaigrette. Close grill top and grill 5 minutes; turn, brush with vinaigrette and continue grilling 5 minutes.

 

Slice the portobellos and drizzle the vinaigrette over them. Sprinkle with the remaining basil and parsley. Serves four.

 

HOW MUCH CAKE TO MAKE

 

Here is a guide to sizes and servings for round, tiered wedding cakes. The number of servings is approximate; it varies with the type of cake, type of reception, and time of day. The 6-inch top tier is not included in serving yields because it is usually kept by the bridal couple.

 

SERVINGS TIER SIZES

40 10-, 7-, 6-inch

60 12-, 8-, 6-inch

75 12-, 9-, 6-inch

100 12-, 10-, 8-, 6-inch

135 14-, 10-, 8-, 6-inch

150 14-, 12-, 8-, 6-inch

 

Be sure to co-ordinate your choice of flavoring to accent your filling and butter-cream. A three-tier cake with 6-, 9-, and 12-inch tiers will serve 75-90.

 

JIMS FAST DINO BONES

2 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces

4 stalks celery, including leafy tops

1 large white onion, peeled and quartered

1 rack beef ribs, cut apart

1 bottle BBQ sauce (Jim recommends Bulls-eye Mesquite)

 

Fill a large stock pot with water. Add everything but ribs and BBQ sauce, and boil. Add ribs. When pot is almost boiling again, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes while you start the barbecue.

 

Remove ribs to bowl and let drain for 5 minutes. Meat should be pulling back from bone. Pour entire bottle of sauce over ribs, coating well. Put ribs on hot grill and darken

 

LEMON CURD

Tart lemon curd is a perennial favorite filling for wedding cakes. Make it at least one day ahead. Double the recipe to fill 3-tier cake or make blackberry curd, too, and use both in alternating layers.

 

Makes 4 cups

1 1/2 sticks ( 3/4 cup) unsalted butter

2 cups granulated sugar

Peel from 3 medium-large lemons (yellow part only), in strips

1 cup fresh lemon juice

7 large whole eggs

3 large egg yolks

 

Melt butter in top of large double boiler.

 

Place sugar and strips of lemon peel in food processor and process until zest is very finely chopped. Add lemon juice, eggs and yolks; process until a thick emulsion is formed, 20 seconds.

 

Pour mixture into hot butter, stirring constantly with wire whisk. Cook over simmering water on medium heat, stirring constantly, until very thick, a full 20 to 30 minutes, until mixture reaches 180 degrees. Pour into glass jar and let cool. Refrigerate overnight to firm before filling cake layers. Keeps 2 months.

LEMON OIL DRIZZLE

7 ounces Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 ounce Lemon Juice -- freshly squeezed

1/8 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/8 teaspoon Black Peppercorns -- cracked

In a cruet or small jar, add the lemon juice to the oil and mix. Add the

salt and pepper and drizzle over steamed vegetables.

Variation: Lemon Caper Sauce

Make as above, but also add:

2 tsp. fresh Italian Parsley, finely chopped

2 tbsp. Capers

1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper flakes

Let flavors blend for 5 minutes before serving.

Store unused oil in a tightly covered container in refrigerator for up to

six months. To liquefy oil, heat in microwave on medium power for 10 - 20

seconds, after removing from refrigerator.

 

LIGHT GRILLED ZUCCHINI

 

4 medium zucchini

1 tablespoon olive oil -- (or garlic oil)

1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

Prepare the grill. It should be hot enough to produce dark seared stripes,

but not so hot that the vegetables burn. If using a gas grill, get it very

hot and turn it down just prior to putting the zucchini on the grill. If

using charcoal, cook over moderate heat.

 

Cut off the ends of the zucchini, then cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick

slices. Place on a baking sheet and lightly coat the zucchini on both sides

with nonstick spray.

 

Combine the remaining ingredients and brush onto one side of the zucchini.

Place this oiled side down on the grill. Cook 2 or more minutes, until grill

stripes appear. Brush the tops with the oil mixture, turn, cover the grill,

and cook until the vegetables are cooked through, about 5 minutes more

(timing varies with the grill, so keep an eye on it). Yield: 6 servings.

 

MANGO SALSA WITH BLACK PEPPER

 

4 large ripe mangoes

1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion

2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and minced

4 teaspoons peeled and finely minced fresh ginger root

1/2 cup orange juice

3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice

4 teaspoons brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint, divided

 

Cut a thin slice from the ends of the mangoes. Set on one end and slice away the peel. Then slice large sections of fruit off of the center pit. Dice the fruit. Combine the mangoes, onion, garlic, ginger, orange juice, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt, pepper, cayenne and 2 tablespoons mint. Refrigerate at least an hour, or up to 6 hours. Just before serving, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons mint. Makes 4 cups.

 

OAT FLOUR MUFFINS

 

1 c AM Oat Flour

1 t Non-alum baking powder

1/2 ts Sea salt (optional)

2 tb Raw honey

1/3 c Buttermilk

1/2 c Raisins or dates -OR- chopped nuts

1 tb AM Unrefined Vegetable Oil

1 Egg -- beaten -OR- egg replacer

 

Stir together dry ingredients. Mix liquids and fruit or nuts together and add to dry mixture, stirring lightly. Fill 6 oiled muffin tins 1/2 full and bake 15 minutes at 425 F.

 

OATMEAL CAKE

1 c quick oatmeal

1 1/4 c boiling water

1 stick oleo

1 c sugar

1 c brown sugar

2 eggs

1 1/3 c flour

1 t soda

1 t cinnamon

1 t nutmeg

1/2 t salt

1 t vanilla

Pour boiling water over oatmeal. Let stand while creaming oleo and sugars.

Sift dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture alternately with oatmeal

mixture. Bake 35-40 minutes in 350 degree oven in a greased 9"X13" pan.. Top

with

Boiled/Broiled Frosting

6 T melted butter

1/2 c sugar

1/4 c cream

1 t vanilla

Combine in pan and let come to a boil. Add 1 c coconut and 1 c nutmeats.

Pour over hot cake. Put on oven rack closest to broiler. Broil until brown.

CAUTION! Watch very closely!! This only takes about 1-5 minutes.

 

OLD FASHIONED SOUR CREAM PIE

Makes 6 servings

By JEANNE LEESON, special to The Oregonian

 

Every time I buy a gallon of milk -- or my cottage cheese, sour cream, butter or buttermilk -- I'm surprised at how little it costs. That's because I remember the time and effort it took on our farm to produce all of these foods.

 

Milking was the most miserable job. We had six Holsteins that we milked by hand twice a day, at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m., every day with no regard for weekends or holidays.

 

We sat on a three-legged stool at the rear end of the cow -- and it was easy for a cow to kick the bucket and the milker if she didn't like the process. Once the pail was full, with 2 to 5 gallons, we emptied it into a 10-gallon milk can. It took a well-muscled person to haul those cans into the cooling room!

 

My younger brother, George, made any chore fun. With milking, it involved one of our cats.

 

The best cat was Mrs. Bacon, a black-and-white beauty. George trained her to enjoy fresh milk. Whenever he started toward the cows with milk bucket in hand, Mrs. Bacon would appear. George taught her to open her mouth so he could direct a stream of milk directly from the cow into her mouth. On the rare days George didn't do the milking, Mrs. Bacon issued an irritating cry.

 

In the cooling room, the fresh milk was poured into the 5-foot-high separator, and someone -- usually the youngest in the family -- had to turn its handle. The separator had two spouts, one for cream and one for the skimmed milk that drained into milk cans.

 

If a family didn't have a separator, the milk could stand about a half-day, and the cream naturally came to the top.

 

The worst part of using the separator was cleaning its 30 discs. They were greasy and had to be washed after each use, and our homemade soap was not great on grease.

 

Before we delivered the cream to the nearby creamery, we took enough out to make butter. Usually, the youngest person in the house churned the butter, we had a barrel churn. We turned the handle that rotated four wooden paddles until the cream turned to butter, then drained off the buttermilk, which we drank or used in baking. When my mother planned to entertain, some butter went into decorative molds; otherwise, it was made into a ball.

 

We poured the skimmed milk from the separator into flat pans that were kept in the warming oven until the milk soured enough to become thick. We then heated it slowly on the stove top until the whey separated from the curd. Then we strained the curds through a cloth bag to make dry cottage cheese. My mother mixed it with fresh berries for a salad or with cream (similar to store-bought cottage cheese), or she molded it into a ball.

 

Of course, the dairy business was not done. We had to hitch up a horse and deliver the milk to our local creamery. In later years, trucks came along to pick it up.

 

While today's milk products are great, I miss some that we produced. When I make sour cream pie with commercial sour cream, it doesn't taste quite the same -- its unique tart flavor is missing.

 

THE PIE

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup water

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Grated peel of 1 lemon

1 egg, beaten

1 cup sour cream

1 8-inch unbaked pie shell

 

In a small saucepan over low heat, cook raisins in water until plump, about 10 minutes.

 

In a small bowl, mix sugar, flour, cloves, cinnamon and lemon peel. Stir into raisin mixture and cook another 3 to 5 minutes, stirring until thickened. Cool.

 

In a small bowl, mix egg and sour cream. Add sour cream mixture to raisin mixture and blend. Turn mixture into pie shell.

 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

 

Bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake until custard is set, about 20 minutes.

 

PHILLY CHEESE STEAK WRAPS

 

3 tablespoons butter

2 cups thin sliced onion rings--

cut in half, separated

1 1/2 cups red pepper strips -- 2x1/4"

1 1/2 cups green pepper strips -- 2x1/4"

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

2 cups American cheese -- 1/2" cubes

6 ounces deli roast beef, sliced thin--

cut into 2x1/2" strips

6 flour tortillas (10 inch) -- warmed

 

In 10 inch skillet, melt butter until sizzling; add onions and peppers. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden (6 to 8 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in garlic salt, cheese and beef strips.

 

Place about 1 cup filling in center of each warm tortilla. Fold two opposite edges of tortilla toward center over filling. Roll up open end of tortilla toward opposite edge.

Place, seam-side down, on microwave-safe plate.

 

Microwave two sandwiches on high, turning or rearranging after half the time, until heated through (1 to 2 minutes). Repeat with remaining sandwiches. Makes 6 sandwiches.

 

PLAY DOH COOKIES

2/3 cup butter (softened)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 2/3 cup flour

Food Color - red, yellow, blue, green

Blend butter and sugar. Add almond and flour. Mixture will be course crumbs.

Separate into globs...for each color being used. food color as desired. The

liquid in the color will be just enough to form the dough. Don't get anxious

and add more liquid or the children will not be able to use as play-doh.

Play-dough cookie batter is great for kids to mold and cut as desired. The

creations can then be baked and eaten. Bake at 300' for 20-25 minutes.

Edges will be firm, bottoms not brown.

 

PORTUGUESE CHICKEN SOUP

1 bone-in chicken breasts

1 onion, cut into thin wedges

4 sprigs of fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 sprig fresh mint

6 cups chicken stock

1/3 cup thin egg noodles

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

salt to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

 

1 In a large saucepan, simmer chicken breast in stock with the onion,

parsley, lemon zest, and mint sprig until done, about 35 minutes.

2 Remove the breast, cool, then strip off the meat and cut into a julienne.

3 Strain the broth, return to the pot, and bring to a boil. Add pasta and

chopped mint. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Heat until the

pasta is cooked al dente.

4 Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and chicken julienne. Ladle into

soup plates and top with lemon slice and mint leaf.

 

POTATOES AU GRATIN

 

6 medium potatoes

1/4 cup butter

1 medium to large onion, chopped small

1 tablespoon flour

salt and pepper to taste

garlic powder to taste

2 cups milk

3 cups grated cheddar cheese (divided 2 and 1)

1/4 cup or more fine, unseasoned breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 325. Peel the potatoes. Cut into thin slices from end to end

(so that the slices are approximately circular) and layer into a casserole

dish. Heat the butter in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat and add the

onions, cooking just until they are soft and translucent but not brown. Add

the flour, salt, garlic powder, and pepper, reduce the heat to medium-low,

and cook for a minute or two, then add the milk and 2 cups of the cheese.

Turn the heat up to medium and allow to cook as you keep stirring till the

sauce begins to boil. Continue cooking 2 minutes more, so that it thickens,

and continue stirring as it cooks. Then pour the sauce over the potatoes and

put the casserole dish into the oven uncovered. Cook for 1 hour and 20

minutes.

Now remove from oven temporarily while you add the remaining cup of

cheese and the breadcrumbs--scatter them evenly across the top of the cheese

so there is a thin but consistent layer of bread crumbs. Return to

oven--still uncovered--for another 20-30 minutes.

Note: Can remain in oven longer if needed (such as if your main course

wasn't done quite when it should have been) or will remain hot for half an hour if you remove it from the oven and cover the casserole dish. Six potatoes serves from six to nine people. Three potatoes serves from three to five.

 

PUTTING IT TOGETHER REQUIRES PRECISION

Assembly: piece of cake

The cake is made, and so are the buttercream, the filling and the liqueur-scented syrup. Here's how to put it all together.

 

Level the cake. Examine and measure each layer: If any are lopsided, domed or too tall, they must be trimmed. You have two layers of each size; work with one size at a time. The two layers, each split in half, will be stacked to form one tier. The finished tiers should all be the same height. To trim the top of a layer, use a 14-inch serrated knife. Hold the cake steady with one hand laid flat on top. Cut with a gentle sawing motion.

 

Prepare the base. Choose a cardboard round, platter or covered board as a base. (Be sure it will fit in your fridge.) If you are using a cardboard round, spread some buttercream in the center to act as a glue and place the layer on the base bottom side up. If you are using a platter or board, put the layer on it and slide 4 strips of waxed paper or parchment under the cake to keep the base clean. Place the layer on a turntable or lazy susan, if you have one.

 

Split the layers. Work with every layer bottom side (the flat side) up. Place a cardboard round on top of a layer and flip it over. To split a layer, first cut a vertical slash on the side to help line up the halves after cutting. Use a ruler to measure the height and mark the halfway point. Hold your knife horizontally. Gently cut a bit all the way around to mark the cut. Then hold your hand flat on top and cut slowly from one side to another, taking care to cut into the marks. Slide a cardboard round or insert from a metal tart pan into your cut, and move the top half-layer aside. If you lift it with your hands, your cake could break.

 

Fill the layers. Brush the cut side of the layer with liqueur-scented sugar syrup (for moisture) with a soft pastry brush or use a squeeze bottle with a small opening. With an offset metal spatula, spread the bottom layer with filling. If the filling is soft, spread it no more than 1/2 inch thick, so it won't gush out. Slide the top half-layer off its cardboard round and onto the filling, lining up the side slash. You can fill between the layers with buttercream or with more filling.

 

Frost the top and sides. Consider your filled tiers as three separate cakes. Each one will be set on a cardboard round, frosted, then set together later. Make certain the buttercream is of spreadable consistency. If it's too thick and cold, it will clump; too thin and it will drip off.

 

You will do two layers of frosting. The first, the crumb coat, is thin and seals loose crumbs. Heap a mound of frosting in the center and spread across toward the sides. Spread down the sides in sweeping strokes. Use the flat part of the flexible spatula, rotating the turntable, to spread evenly in a thin layer. Rotate slowly without lifting the spatula, filling spaces at the base and between the layers. Try not to touch the cake while spreading. It doesn't matter if you see the cake or if there are crumbs stuck in the frosting. Even the top by spreading across in long sweeps toward the edges. Square the edges neatly. If you need more frosting, remove it from the bowl with a clean spoon or spatula so you don't get crumbs into it. Chill 1 to 2 hours, uncovered.

 

Then set the tier on the turntable again and apply a final, thicker coating of buttercream in the same manner. Keep working until the top and sides are as smooth as possible. If you want a border, pipe one on now. You will have leftover buttercream for assembly. Chill 6 hours to overnight before assembly.

 

Plan the decorations. Plan to assemble and decorate the cake well before guests arrive. I always do it on the table where it will be cut to avoid transferring it. (This is not a problem if the cake is small). Place the display table out of the mainstream traffic and out of the sun. The decorated cake can stand at cool room temperature up to 4 hours.

 

I carried a basket to sites when delivering a cake. In it was extra buttercream, a pastry bag with tips, spatulas, clean dishcloths, ribbon (you can wrap around the base of each tier, then press into the frosting), scissors, doilies, flowers (fresh, plastic, marzipan, crystallized, or chocolate), greenery (leaves, ferns), and other decorating touches. You can use a purchased cake top or fresh flowers in a miniature bouquet. Florists will include this with the other bouquets, or you can do one of your own in a small glass vase -- just cut a section out of the top tier of the cake and set in the vase.

 

It is nice to have some more flowers or a garland to decorate the handle of the cake spatula and the table. You could line the table with large leaves or ferns or scattered fresh rose petals.

 

Stack the layers. For a stacked cake, the tiers are set directly on top of each other (not separated by columns). If the cake is very tender, you need to cut wooden dowels, which you sink into the cake to support the next tier. Insert a dowel, mark it level with the cake, remove it and cut it to size with small pruning clippers. Reinsert the dowel. Use 4 for a large tier and 2 or 3 for smaller ones. Spread the center of the tier with fresh buttercream so the next size tier will stick to it. (Instead of dowels, you can buy a set of plastic pillars and separator plates at a cake decorating store.)

 

Cut the cake. Use a sharp, straight-edged, long-bladed knife. Use a damp tea towel or glass of warm water to clean the knife between cuts. You will be dealing with one tier at a time. Remove the top tier by sliding the knife under the cardboard round and lifting up. This is for the couple to take home. Begin the cutting with the next tier. Remove the wooden dowels. Smaller tiers are cut into thin wedges as with a regular cake. For larger tiers, cut into circular sections: a 3- to 4-inch wide outside ring, then another ring inside that if necessary. You will have a round circle in the center of the cake. Cut the outside portion of the cake into sections and the inner into wedges.

 

SALMON SOUP

2 White Onions

6 Ribs Celery

4 Carrots (medium size)

Canola or Safflower Oil

6 Cups Stock

1 Package Cream cheese

1/2 lb. Candied Smoked Salmon

2 Cups Milk

Salt & Pepper or Seasoned Salt

 

Make a mire-poix (a seasoning composed of finely diced sautéed vegetables and herbs and sometimes diced ham, bacon, or salt pork) of two white onions, six ribs of celery, and four medium carrots. Sautee in small amount of oil until translucent.

Add 6 Cups of stock (fish stock is good, veggie or chicken stock will suffice). If this doesn't sufficiently cover the mire-poix, add a cup or two more.

Bring to boil then turn down heat and simmer until veggies are tender (10

minutes) then cut up one package cream cheese and add. You don't have to

totally dissolve the cheese, just heat it up so it will blend easily. Remove from heat.

Blend everything in a blender then return to pot. Hint: use a slotted spoon

to remove some veggies to the blender, turn blender on low and slowly add

some liquid with a ladle. This will stop the 'explosion' of hot liquid from

going all over you and the kitchen. When blender is full, pour into a bowl

that will hold all of the soup. Add Milk. Stir.

Heat gently, add 1/2 lb (minimum) of candied smoked salmon. Cold Smoked

salmon probably wouldn't hold together as well. Season with Salt and Pepper

to taste (you can also add in seasoning salt if preferred). Heat for about

five minutes or until warm enough to enjoy. Stir Lots!

Hints and Suggestions: Lemon Peel, Orange Peel, White Wine mixed with

stock, Red Pepper Flakes, Dill weed, Clove of Garlic, Shallots, Toasted

almonds for top.

 

SPAGHETTI AND SPICY RICE BALLS

Serves 6

1 package (16 ounces) uncooked spaghetti

2 cups cooked white rice

1/2 cup quick-cooking oats (do not use instant oatmeal)

1 medium onion, chopped ( 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon chopped fresh OR 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves

2 teaspoons chopped fresh OR 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup wheat germ

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cups spaghetti sauce

Finely shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired

Cook spaghetti as directed on package.

 

While spaghetti is cooking, mix rice, oats, onion, bread crumbs, milk, basil, oregano, red pepper and egg. Shape mixture into 12 balls. Roll balls in wheat germ.

 

Heat oil in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook balls in oil about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until light golden brown.

 

Drain spaghetti. Heat spaghetti sauce. Serve sauce and rice balls over spaghetti. Sprinkle with cheese.

SPECIAL OCCASION CAKES INFORMATION

Put affection into frosting, BY KIM BOATMAN, Mercury News

 

When Alesha Morgan's grandmother died last year, she specified only two bequests: a library table and her cake-decorating equipment.

 

``She wanted me to have her pans and tips,'' says Morgan, a Fremont mother of two in her early 20s. ``At her funeral service, I don't think anybody who got up to speak didn't mention one of her cakes. Cake decorating is definitely a heritage thing for me.''

 

Cake decorating might seem like a relic from an earlier time, one of those quaint hand skills that is vanishing from our hurry-up culture.

 

But it is alive and well, and even thriving. When time is a commodity, making something becomes a gift in itself.

 

``I get new people all the time. I'm getting kids who used to come in with their mothers,'' says Barbara Belstler, who owns Barbara of Pauline's Cake Decorating Supplies in Willow Glen. ``I had a 16-year-old boy who did the cake for his grandmother's 50th wedding anniversary.''

 

A spokeswoman for Wilton, the big name in cake decorating supplies and classes, says Gen-Xers are discovering decorating as a creative hobby.

 

Perhaps that's because they've learned what I have: Cake decorating is not as hard as it seems. Certainly, there's a high skill level in making cakes replete with borders, flowers and the works. But simply by using the right equipment, acquiring minimal skills and using a few tricks of the trade, anyone can make a cake that will leave 'em oohing and ahhing.

 

Mothers crowded round to see the cake Morgan made for daughter Chelsey's sixth birthday party. Morgan piped shell borders around the base and top of a sheet cake, then added purchased Dragon Tales characters.

 

``Adding a little border like I did to Chelsey's cake adds so much,'' she says. ``It makes it go from a homemade cake to looking semi-professional.''

 

My own journey as a cake decorator began when I was flush with new love.

 

Certain that my oldest son's first birthday wouldn't be complete without individual hand-decorated little Mickey Mouse cakes for him and his day-care pals, I found myself piping stars onto rodent faces at 2 a.m.

 

My husband attempted an intervention. ``I think you're too invested in this.''

Learn by doing

 

Little did he know. My kids' cakes have become a sort of tradition, a measure of love, creativity and, on occasion, my improving skills. I've assembled trains of mini-loaf cakes, ground Oreos to make dirt for construction cakes and cut and assembled a sheet cake to resemble a fire truck.

 

So it's no surprise that a friend and I recently took a cake decorating class at the Fremont Adult School. Still, I felt a bit like I had stepped into a time warp. Here we were, two professional women (she's a techie who now stays home with her kids) taking a class where June Cleaver would have felt at home.

 

But we found ourselves in the middle of a trend. The class was overflowing with about 20 women, many younger than we. The makeup reflected the ethnic diversity of the community, as well. We all wanted the same thing: to learn enough to make beautiful cakes for family and friends.

 

Perfection not the goal

 

Each week, my kids waited up past bedtime for a peek at my homework, fully decorated cakes that surprised even me. Were they bakery-perfect? Hardly. But people don't focus on the places where you and your decorating bag have gone astray. It's the total package they see.

 

``It does require a little bit of skill,'' says Donna Ballatore, 40, a Sunnyvale cake decorator extraordinaire. ``But there are a lot of creative people out there. You can use your creative juices, and people appreciate it.''

 

I've learned over the last few years to work within my limits. I'll probably never make a decent rose, but then, my boys want cakes with a more industrial feel. So I've veered away from traditional cake decoration. Creative uses of candies, graham crackers, pretzel sticks and similar items make fine stand-ins on the construction truck, train and fire trucks my kids want. When I see an orange gumdrop now, I see a construction cone.

 

You can create almost any pattern you want, says Ballatore, simply by printing out clip art from the Internet. Cut out the art, lay it on the cake and trace around it with a toothpick, cutting away sections as you go to reach the interior lines of the design. Then you can pipe and fill with icing.

 

Knowing a few tricks, I felt equipped to take on my biggest project yet a couple of weeks ago. My kindergartner wanted one reward for reading his first 50 books: a cake shaped like a school bus. He'd seen the cake in a magazine.

 

It took a couple of hours to cut, assemble, then decorate the cake, which included chocolate mini-doughnut wheels, licorice bumpers, Chiclet headlights and Mentos faces peering through the windows.

 

The bus listed to port, and it appeared to have lost a rear axle. The words ``School Bus'' slanted downhill. But my reward came when I held my son up to see it. ``Bravo! Bravo!'' he said.

 

SPICY CHICKEN WITH PEANUTS

 

3 tablespoons peanut oil

3 dried red chilies, split lengthwise in half

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks

3/4 cup roasted peanuts

2 tablespoons chicken stock

2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic

2 teaspoons finely chopped scallions

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger

2 teaspoons Chinese white rice vinegar or cider vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sesame oil

 

Heat wok over a high heat. Add oil and chilies and stir-fry for a few seconds. Add the chicken and peanuts and stir-fry for 1 minute. Remove the chicken, peanuts and chilies from wok. Drain in a colander. Put chicken stock, rice wine, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, scallions, ginger, vinegar and salt into wok. Bring to boil and then turn heat down. Return chicken, peanuts and chilies to wok and cook for 3 to 4 minutes in sauce mixing well. Add sesame oil. Stir mixture stir and remove the chilies, if you prefer; serve immediately. Makes four servings.

 

STIR FRIED SNOW PEAS

Makes 6 servings

 

2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger

1 pound fresh snow peas, rinsed and stems removed

1 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

 

Before you start: Wash your hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water.

 

In a frying pan or wok, warm the sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, snow peas, water chestnuts and soy sauce, and stir-fry for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the peas turn bright green.

 

STRAWBERRIES WITH CANNOLI CREAM

Makes 4 servings

 

The cream tastes just like cannoli filling -- a delightful match with the berries. And very easy!

 

1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon grated orange peel (orange part only)

2 tablespoons orange juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 drops almond extract

2 teaspoons chopped semisweet chocolate

1 pint fresh strawberries, rinsed, dried, hulled and cut in halves or quarters (1 pound)

 

In food processor or blender, combine ricotta, sugar, orange peel and juice, vanilla and almond extract. Process or blend until very smooth. Stir in chocolate. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

To serve, divide berries among bowls or stemmed glasses. Stir cream and pour over berries.

 

STRAWBERRIES WITH SPICED RHUBARB SAUCE

Makes 4 servings

 

1 cup thinly sliced rhubarb

21/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

21/2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Generous 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Large pinch ground cloves

1 pint fresh strawberries, rinsed, dried, hulled and cut in halves or quarters (1 pound)

Sour cream or unsweetened whipped cream (optional)

 

In saucepan combine rhubarb, sugar, water, lemon juice, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Heat just to simmering. Cover and simmer until rhubarb is very tender, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly.

 

Divide berries among 4 dishes or stemmed glasses and spoon warm sauce over. Top with sour cream or whipped cream to serve.

 

Raspberry variation: Replace a portion of the strawberries with one 6-ounce package fresh or frozen raspberries.

 

STRAWBERRY CHICKEN SALAD

 

Strawberry fields are not forever

so get your fill now

 

With Hoisin-Sesame Dressing Makes 6 servings

 

Hoisin-Sesame Dressing:

 

1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled (see note)

1 clove garlic, peeled (see note)

1 medium shallot, peeled (see note)

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (see note)

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Dash freshly ground black pepper

1 cup vegetable oil

 

Strawberry Chicken Salad:

 

1 pint basket fresh strawberries (1 pound)

12 ounces smoked chicken, cut in bite-size chunks, or 12 to 14 ounces boneless,

skinless chicken breast, sauteed or poached and cut in chunks

 

3/4 cup julienne strips jicama

3/4 cup very thinly sliced fennel bulb

2 green onions, sliced

2 quarts mixed baby greens, washed, dried and chilled

 

To make dressing: In blender container or food processor fitted with metal blade, put ginger, garlic, shallot, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, hoisin sauce, sesame seeds, sesame oil, Dijon mustard and black pepper. Blend until shallots and ginger are very finely chopped.

 

With motor running, gradually add oil until mixture is smooth. Store dressing in refrigerator in tightly covered container. Makes about 22/3 cups.

 

To make salad: Rinse, drain, dry and hull strawberries and cut into halves or thick slices.

 

In large bowl, combine strawberries, chicken, jicama, fennel, onions and mixed baby greens with about1/2cup Hoisin-Sesame Dressing. Toss lightly to coat greens and berries. Divide among 6 chilled salad plates to serve.

 

Note: If not using blender or food processor, grate ginger and minced garlic and shallots, then whisk together with remaining ingredients.

 

Note: To toast seeds, heat in a dry skillet over medium heat until they start to brown. Stir occasionally. Be careful not to burn.

 

STRAWBERRY FRUIT SALAD

With Choice of Three Dressings

Makes 4 servings

8 cups washed, drained lightly packed spinach leaves

1 pint basket fresh strawberries, stemmed and halved (1 pound)

4 cups assorted melon chunks

11/2 cups orange and grapefruit segments

Strawberry-Ginger Dressing, Orange-Mint Dressing or Balsamic-Pepper Dressing (recipes follow)

 

Line platter or 4 individual plates with spinach. Top with berries and other fruits, dividing equally. Serve with your choice of dressing on the side.

 

Strawberry-Ginger Dressing: In blender or food processor, puree 11/2 cups strawberries; transfer to bowl. Mix in 11/2 to 2 tablespoons honey, 11/2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger and a pinch of salt. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Makes about 1 cup.

 

Orange-Mint Dressing: In bowl whisk one 8-ounce container plain nonfat yogurt, 3 tablespoons thawed orange juice concentrate and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Mix in 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Makes about 1 cup.

 

Balsamic-Pepper Dressing: In bowl whisk one 8-ounce container nonfat strawberry yogurt, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey and1/2to 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Makes about 1 cup.

 

STRAWBERRY GLACE PIE

Makes 1 pie

1 baked 9-inch pie shell

11/2 quarts strawberries (about 7 cups whole berries; divided)

1 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Prepare pie shell.

 

In cold water, wash, hull and thoroughly drain berries. Crush enough (with potato masher) to make 1 cup.

 

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Add crushed berries and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.

 

Continue cooking and stirring over low heat for 2 minutes. The mixture will be thickened and translucent. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Cool.

 

Place whole berries in pie shell, reserving a few choice ones for garnish. Pour cooked, cooled mixture over berries and chill at least 2 hours.

 

Whip whipping cream with powdered sugar and vanilla. Top pie with whipped cream and garnish with remaining strawberries.

 

Strawberry Cheese Glace Pie: Combine one 3-ounce package cream cheese at room temperature with 1 tablespoon milk and spread over bottom of pie shell before adding berries.

 

STRAWBERRY INFORMATION

Sweet Surrender

Strawberry-picking time is imminent, so grab a few baskets and get ready to enjoy the bounty of this juicy summer treat

By BARBARA DURBIN of The Oregonian staff

 

The forecast for strawberries: Mostly sunny outlook for this year's crop. No frosty nights to cloud the picture. A big-berry forefront expected to move in.

 

When does picking begin? Probably on time, this week -- and you may have seen some early varieties already. Checking with a handful of area growers, early predictions were all over the map. One grower said berries would be early; most said on time; a few agreed a week late -- but that was before the sudden sweltering heat.

Bottom line? You might want to call the farm before heading out to the rows.

 

Something to look for are new berry varieties, although some are not yet widely available -- such as Firecracker and Independence. However, you may see the Puget Summer, which has a "very good fresh flavor," says Patrick P. Moore, a scientist with the Washington State University Puyallup Research and Extension Center. Its main attraction, he says, is that it arrives very late -- starting the end of June.

 

In taste tests among Walla Walla-area berry growers, he added, "They preferred it to Hoods, the standard for fresh flavor."

 

Strawberries have a unique quality in the vegetable and fruit world, which kids will confirm: They taste great even though they're good for you. Eight medium berries have only 50 calories, yet they offer 160 percent of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin C. They're also a good source of folate (essential for pregnant women), dietary fiber and those much-touted antioxidants. Plus, they contain no cholesterol or sodium and only half a gram of fat.

 

Of course, the best way to prepare strawberries is simply to wash them, then eat. Rinse them with their caps on just shortly before serving, not ahead -- unless you want to sugar them and draw out their juice.

 

If you're looking for something a little fancier than plain berries but you don't want to mess with scratch cooking, consider these dozen shortcuts:

 

A simpler shortcake: Slice frozen poundcake, top with sliced strawberries, lightly sweetened whipping cream or reduced-fat sour cream.

 

Berry crostini: Top toasted baguette slices with softened brie or cream cheese and slices of strawberries. Garnish with fresh basil or mint leaf.

 

Quick cookie: Stir chopped berries into prepared vanilla frosting, smear on a graham cracker square. Top with sliced, fanned berries, top with another graham cracker.

 

Beverage boost: Instead of a wedge of lemon, drop a couple large strawberries with caps into glasses of iced tea.

 

Borrowed from blintzes: Fill an omelet with sliced berries and a spoonful of strawberry jam. Top folded omelet with a dollop of reduced-fat sour cream and a whole berry.

 

Different fruit salad: Combine halved strawberries, mango, fresh pineapple chunks and honeydew melon. Drizzle with fresh lime juice or white wine vinegar combined with a little honey. Garnish with some torn-up mint leaves.

Power breakfast: Sprinkle a bowlful of halved strawberries with granola and drizzle with honey. For a calcium boost, serve with milk, nonfat half-and-half or yogurt.

 

Zippy addition: To sliced or quartered berries add finely chopped crystallized ginger and sugar to taste. Serve over sorbet or ice cream.

 

Strawberry milkshake: Team sliced strawberries with vanilla ice cream and process until thick, adding only enough milk to thin as needed.

 

Mixed frosties: In a blender, puree strawberries with vanilla yogurt and pineapple juice until smooth. Serve with straws and whole berries for garnish.

 

Gilding the strawberry: Dip whole berries with stems intact into melted semisweet chocolate to cover bottom two thirds of berries; chill to set. For even more gilding, dip the set-up berries into melted white chocolate, so only half of the dark chocolate shows.

 

Spirited strawberries: Toss halved berries with a splash of Grand Marnier liqueur and thin strips of orange peel (orange part only, no white pith). Serve in tulip or parfait glasses for dessert accompanied by plain cookies, such as shortbread.

 

SUGAR SYRUP FOR SOAKING LAYERS

While you can brush liqueur onto cake layers straight from the bottle, the most vibrant and subtle flavor enhancement is achieved by using a sugar syrup combined with a spirit or a fragrant vanilla bean.

Makes 1 1/4 cups

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 to 1/3 cup liqueur of choice or 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

 

Combine water and sugar in small saucepan and heat over low to dissolve sugar. Stir a few times. Turn up heat and bring to a simmer; boil 20 seconds. (Or do this in the microwave in a Pyrex measuring cup.)

 

Let syrup cool until warm. Add liqueur or vanilla bean and stir well. Cool to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. Can be made a month ahead.

 

SUPER BROWNIE DESSERT

1 pkg. brownie mix (13X9-inch pan size)

1 (8oz.) pkg. cream cheese

1 (3oz.) pkg. cream cheese

2 cups powdered sugar

1 (16oz.) carton Cool Whip, divided, thawed

1 3/4 cups cold milk

1 (3.9oz.) pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Prepare and bake brownies according to package directions, using a

greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Cool completely.

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar for two minutes.

Fold in two cups of the Cool Whip. Spread over brownies.

In another bowl, combine milk and instant pudding mix; beat until

smooth. Refrigerate for five minutes. Spread over cream cheese layer.

Spread remaining Cool Whip over pudding. Sprinkle with pecans. Refrigerate.

 

TIPS FOR CAKE DECORATORS

These tricks will improve your cake decorating skills.

Buy the basic equipment. Decorating tubes and tips found in grocery aisles are a poor substitute for the ones at cake decorating and craft stores. Donna Ballatore suggests buying a couple of writing tips, a shell-making tip, a leaf-making tip and a star-making tip.

 

Don't decorate with store-bought frosting. It's too soft. A shortening-based frosting provides the most stability.

 

To keep down the crumbs, let your cake sit in the pan a while before removing to decorate.

 

Apply a thin coat of frosting to contain crumbs. Set aside a small amount of frosting and cover the cake, trying not to touch the cake with the spatula itself. Your final coat will go on easier.

 

If you're cutting apart a cake to make, for instance, a fire engine, freeze the cake for a couple of hours first.

 

For a smoother appearance, some people dip a spatula in hot water as they frost. Barbara Belstler, who owns Barbara of Pauline's Cake Decorating Supplies in Willow Glen, suggests rinsing out a brand new sponge and patting it over the cake for a stucco look. After frosting the cake, let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes to develop a crust. Then use white unlined paper to smooth out any creases or lines.

 

If you're not happy with a decorating element, let it dry and then use a toothpick to lift it off. (This won't work with red frosting).

 

Look to your pantry for decorating inspiration. Candies and snack foods such as pretzel sticks and fish-shaped crackers require no skill to apply. (A few seconds in the microwave makes licorice easier to work with .)

 

Shop the toy aisles, using small cars and character figures for easy decorating.

 

TWO MUSTARD CHICKEN

Serves 8

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup coarse-grain mustard

1/4 cup honey

8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 1/2 pounds)

 

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 9-by-13 pan. Mix mustards and honey; spread on both sides of chicken. Place in pan.

 

Bake uncovered 25-35 minutes or until juice is no longer pink when the centers of the thickest pieces are cut.

 

WEDDING BUTTERCREAM

Makes about 9 cups

1 cup egg whites (8 large eggs)

2 cups granulated sugar (C & H Baker's Sugar works well)

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

3 cups sifted powdered sugar

6 sticks (1 1/2 pounds) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces

1 cup (6 ounces) Crisco

 

4 tablespoons, or to taste, pure vanilla extract, Boyajian citrus oils (lemon, orange or lime), liqueur (such as Grand Marnier, Kahlua, framboise, Frangelico, rum, brandy, and the like), or orange or rose flower water

 

Place egg whites and granulated sugar in a double boiler over medium heat. Using a hand whisk, stir gently until the mixture reaches 120 degrees and sugar is melted. Immediately transfer to clean mixer bowl and beat on low with balloon whisk attachment until frothy.

 

Add cream of tartar, then increase speed to medium-high. When egg whites are fluffy, increase speed to high. Whip on high until meringue thickens and comes to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes. (Don't skip this step. If mixture is not cool when butter is added, frosting will be greasy.)

Reduce mixer speed to medium-low and gradually sprinkle in sifted powdered sugar. Add butter and shortening in 2- to 3-tablespoon increments. Keep mixing until all the butter has been added and a creamy consistency is reached.

 

Add flavoring and beat until smooth. Cover and store in the refrigerator until needed. Frosting keeps 3 to 4 days in refrigerator and can be frozen for up to 3 months.

 

Variation: Substitute 1 cup of mild honey or maple syrup for granulated sugar for a completely different flavor. Be sure to use a complementary flavoring.

 

WINE BERRY SAUCE

Makes 2 cups

 

A bright-hued sauce that is perfect for spooning over angel food cake, pudding or ice cream.

 

2 cups sliced strawberries (scant pint basket)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup dry red wine

2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur (or1/4teaspoon almond extract)

 

Place strawberries in a bowl and toss with the sugar. Refrigerate for 12 hours.

 

Drain liquid from berries into a small saucepan; add wine. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and boil gently for 1 minute.

 

Pour the wine and liqueur over berries and mix well. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

 

To freeze, pack the mixture into freezer-proof bags or containers, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Seal and freeze for up to 6 months for best quality.

 

SHALOM FROM SPIKE & JAMIE



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