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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).

A BUYERS GUIDE TO SALMON

APRICOT FACTS AND FIGURES

BAKED BLACKBERRY CHEESECAKE

BEEF HASH

BLUEBERRY PEACH SHORTCAKES

BOURBON LACED TIPSY CHICKEN WITH PEA

BREAKFAST POCKETS

CARAMELIZED VIDALIAS OVER ANGEL HAIR

CASHEW CASSEROLE

CHERRY CROWN CAKE

CHERRY VANILLA SHAKE

CHILI DOG CUPCAKES

CHOPPED VEGETABLE SALAD

CHRISTOPHERS CRAB CAKES

CINNAMON POTATO ROLLS

CLASSIC YELLOW MUSTARD

COLORS OF PAINTERLY PALATES

CREAMED BEEF ON TOAST

CROSTINI WITH RED PEPPER PUREE

CURRIED RICE WITH ROASTED CARROTS AN

DEEP DISH TACO SQUARES

FAST AND FRESH APRICOT ICE CREAM

FETTUCCINE IN BITTER SALAD

FIVE FRUIT SALAD

FLAXSEED RYE BREAD

FRESH APRICOT ICE CREAM

FROZEN PEANUT BUTTER PIE

FRUIT DIP

GREEK SALAD

GRILLED PIZZA MARGHERITA

HOMEMADE BISCUIT MIX

HOT HUES ARE TASTY EYEFULS

HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF MELONS

JUNIPER LAMB

LEMONADE PIE

LOW FAT CHICKEN PITA POCKETS

MAKING SUNDAY LAST ALL WEEK

OMELETS ARE THE ULTIMATE SHORT ORDER

PECAN BRITTLE

PORK AND BLACK BEAN STEW

PORK CHOPS AND MUSHROOMS

PORK MEDALLIONS WITH MELON

POTATO ROLLS

PUNCH FOR A CROWD

REFRIGERATOR PICKLES

RICE LYONNAISE

SLOPPY JOE CASSEROLE

SOUR CREAM RAISIN PIE

STRAWBERRY CAKE

STRAWBERRY PIE

SUNSHINE BREAD

TAMALES THE LATIN SANDWICH

TANDOORI CHICKEN SKEWERS

THE AROMAS WE CRAVE

THE BEST WHITE BREAD

THE FLAX FACTS

TORTILLA BLACK BEAN CASSEROLE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BUYER'S GUIDE TO SALMON

BY RENEE SCHETTLER, Washington Post

Walk up to five different seafood counters and chances are you will be bombarded by five different adjectives on signs propped against the sides of salmon. Common sightings include Pacific, king, coho, Atlantic and Alaskan.

 

Salmon has skyrocketed in popularity. With more than a 20 percent increase in 1999, the most recent year for which statistics are available, salmon became the third most popular seafood in the United States, behind tuna and shrimp, according to the National Fisheries Institute.

 

This may be due, in part, to its status as a nutrient-dense fish. It is high in protein, high in the antioxidant vitamin E and high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which reportedly reduce both cholesterol and blood-pressure levels and strengthen the immune system.

 

But how do you sort out all the types? Here's a quick guide.

 

The two basic species are Pacific and Atlantic. Both are indigenous to the Northern Hemisphere. Pacific salmon die after spawning once; Atlantic salmon do not. Once both oceans were teeming with salmon, but today Pacific wild salmon is endangered in places, and Atlantic wild salmon is almost extinct.

 

Pacific salmon

 

Prime season runs from mid-May through late September, though some types are available year-round. There are six types of Pacific salmon, but only three are commonly sold fresh: king or chinook, sockeye or red, coho or silver. (The other three are chum, pink and steelhead, which was long referred to as a trout and recently reclassified.)

 

Five of these fish are protected in areas of Northern California, Washington and Oregon under the Endangered Species Act. As a result, about 90 percent of the salmon caught in U.S. waters comes from Alaskan rivers.

 

King: The chinook, or king, salmon boasts the highest name recognition of any wild salmon, though it accounts for just 1 percent of the overall catch. It is prized for its vibrant orange hue and high fat content, which produces its resulting buttery texture. The largest of the Pacific salmon, it averages between 15 and 40 pounds but sometimes weighs more than 100 pounds.

 

King salmon is perhaps most commonly known for its association with Alaska's Copper River, though king salmon and Copper River salmon are not synonymous. King salmon spawns in many other rivers and streams, and other Pacific salmon exist in the Copper River. When you buy Copper River salmon, you are not buying a particular variety -- you are buying fish from a certain river.

 

Sockeye: Flesh of the red, or sockeye, salmon, unlike most others, does not lose its vibrant hue when subjected to heat. It is often described as having an earthy, almost mineral, flavor, probably due to its plankton-based diet. Although less marbled than king, it is oilier, so it tolerates cooking over dry heat and is ideal for the grill.

 

Sockeye's distinctive flavor and appearance are also popular in Japan, where it figures largely in sushi and sashimi.

 

It is much smaller than king, averaging about six pounds, with thinner fillets. The peak catch occurs the first few days of July at Bristol Bay in Alaska.

 

Coho: Leaner and firmer than king and sockeye, the coho, or silver, salmon is pinkish to red-orange and weighs, on average, 10 pounds. Its flesh is more delicate, with a finer texture and somewhat milder, sweeter flavor. It is in markets from July through October.

 

Atlantic salmon

 

The salmon that once swam wild in the Atlantic was bright pink (not orange like Pacific salmon) and slightly fattier than its West Coast cousin. A single species, Atlantic salmon is now endangered and rarely found in the wild. In response to overfishing and polluted waters, it is now being raised in ``farms.''

 

Farm-raised salmon

 

See the sign that says ``Atlantic'' at the fish counter? That fish most likely came from a farm, in Canada, Norway, United Kingdom, Ireland, Iceland or, increasingly, Chile and New Zealand.

 

Most farm-raised salmon spend the first six months in a fresh-water hatchery before being transferred to offshore saltwater pens. These salmon are sometimes bland and mushy, yet their year-round availability and lower price make them attractive.

 

Crowded into pens, these salmon exercise little, resulting in high fat content but little marbling. Conservationists also point out that waste from these fish can pollute natural bodies of water, endangering wild fish. Storms can tear open the pens, allowing farm-raised fish to commingle with wild salmon, endangering the species.

 

Farm-raised salmon generally eat processed feed, while wild salmon feed on crustaceans, which contain astaxanthin, a naturally occurring pigment that results in its vibrant color. To avoid an unattractive grayish salmon, fish farmers feed the salmon supplemental naturally occurring or synthetic dyes.

 

APRICOT FACTS AND FIGURES

 

California produces 95 percent of the nation's apricot supply.

 

More than 300 growers produce apricots from orchards covering 19,000 acres in the San Joaquin Valley; the leading production area being Stanislaus County.

 

Apricots were discovered growing wild on the mountain slopes of China. They were introduced to California 200 years ago by Spanish missionaries.

 

Apricots can be made into wine and brandy.

 

Apricots can be used in many recipes that call for peaches or nectarines, such as tarts, cobblers, cakes or chutneys.

 

Who's No. 1?

 

The most dominant variety of apricot planted and produced in California is the Patterson, developed in 1969 by Fred W. Anderson.

 

A consistent producer and very versatile, the Patterson is used for canning, freezing, drying, concentrate and fresh shipment.

 

BAKED BLACKBERRY CHEESECAKE

 

This light, low-fat cheesecake is best made with wild blackberries, if they're available, but cultivated ones will do; or substitute other soft fruit, such as wineberries, raspberries or blueberries.

 

3/4 cup cottage cheese

2/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt

1 tbsp all-purpose whole wheat flour

2 tbsp raw sugar

1 egg

egg white

finely grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon

2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed blackberries

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and base-line an 7 in square cake pan.

2. Place the cottage cheese in a food processor and process until smooth. Alternatively, rub it through a sieve, to obtain a smooth mixture.

3. Add the yogurt, flour, sugar, egg and egg white and mix. Add the lemon rind, juice and blackberries, reserving a few for decoration.

4. Tip the mixture into the prepared pan and bake it for 30 - 35 minutes, or until it's just set. Turn off the oven and leave for a further 30 minutes.

5. Run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake, and then turn it out. Remove the lining paper and place the cheesecake on a warm serving plate.

6. Decorate the cheesecake with the reserved blackberries and serve it warm.

Cook's Tip: If you prefer to use canned blackberries, choose those canned in natural juice and drain the fruit well before adding it to the cheesecake mixture. The juice can be served with the cheesecake, but this will increase the total calories.

 

BEEF HASH

1 1/2 cups beef -- cut up cooked

10 ounces hash brown potatoes -- frozen -- thawed

1 onion -- finely chopped

1/4 cup margarine -- melted

1 cup gravy

1 cup beef broth

pepper

Place all ingredients in crock pot. Cover and cook on low setting for 6 to 8

hours.

 

BLUEBERRY PEACH SHORTCAKES

 

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1-1/2 pints blueberries (about 3-1/2 cups)

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

2 pounds peaches (about 6 medium), peeled (see right) and each cut into 8 wedges

3 cups all-purpose flour

4-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons cold margarine or butter

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

1 cup heavy or whipping cream

 

1. In 3-quart saucepan, mix lemon juice and cornstarch until smooth. Stir in blueberries and 2/3 cup sugar; heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook 1 minute. Stir in peaches; set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 425°F. In bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/3 cup sugar. With pastry blender or two knives used scissor-fashion, cut in 9 tablespoons margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

3. Stir in milk just until mixture forms a soft dough that leaves side of bowl. On lightly floured surface, knead dough 6 to 8 times, just until smooth. With lightly floured hands, pat dough 3/4 inch thick.

4. With floured 3-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out shortcakes. With pancake turner, place shortcakes 1 inch apart on ungreased large cookie sheet.

5. Press trimmings together; cut to make 8 shortcakes in all. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon margarine; brush over shortcakes. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake 16 to 22 minutes, until golden. In small bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat cream with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar to soft peaks. With fork, split warm shortcakes in half Spoon some fruit into each; top with cream, then more fruit.

 

BOURBON LACED TIPSY CHICKEN WITH PEACHES

4 chicken breast halves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 large onion -- diced

1 teaspoon paprika

1 1/2 cups chopped green onions

1/2 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons bourbon

1 cup fresh peaches -- chopped

Dash ground nutmeg

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; arrange in 13- x 9-inch pan. Set

aside.

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat; add diced onion to skillet, and

saute 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in paprika. Set aside 1

tablespoon green onions; stir remaining green onions into onion mixture.

Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes.

Spread onion mixture evenly over chicken; drizzle with orange juice and

bourbon.

Bake at 400 degrees F. for 50 minutes, turning and basting occasionally with

pan drippings. Top with chopped peaches, and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Bake mixture 5 more minutes or until chicken is done; transfer chicken to a

serving dish. Drizzle with pan drippings and sprinkle with reserved green

onions. Yield: 4 servings.

 

 

 

 

BREAKFAST POCKETS

2 packages Active Dry Yeast -- (1 1/2 Tbs.)

1/2 cup Warm Water -- 110-115 degrees

3/4 cup Evaporated Milk -- warm 110-115 degrees

1/2 cup Vegetable Oil

1/4 cup Sugar

1 large Egg

1 teaspoon Salt

3 1/2 cups Flour

filling:

1 pound Sausage -- or bacon

1/2 cup Onion -- chopped

2 1/2 cups Hash Browns, frozen -- shredded, thawed

1/2 cup Mushroom pieces -- drained

7 large Eggs -- lightly beaten

3 tablespoons Milk, skim

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon Pepper

1/2 teaspoon Garlic Salt

1 pinch Cayenne Pepper

3 cups Cheddar Cheese -- shredded

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add evaporated milk, oil, sugar,

egg, salt and 2 cups flour, then beat until smooth. Add enough flour to

make a soft dough (do not knead) Cover and let rise 1 hour. Meanwhile,

in a skillet, cook the sausage and onion over medium heat until sausage is

no longer pink. Add mushrooms to mixture, then drain any excess

moisture/grease from mixture. Add the hash browns, eggs, milk and

seasonings. Cook and stir until the eggs are completely set. Sprinkle

with cheese and keep warm. Punch dough down, then divide into 16 pieces.

On a floured surface, roll each piece into a 6 or 7-inch circle. Top each

with about 1/3 cup filling, then fold dough over filling and pinch the edges

to seal. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for

15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

To freeze: Place cooled, baked pockets onto a baking sheet and freeze for

about one hour, or until hard. Transfer to labeled zip baggies, and freeze

for 3 - 6 months. To re-heat, thaw in refrigerator overnight, and bake at

350 degrees F for 5 - 10 minutes or until warmed through, OR place

individual pockets, wrapped in paper towels in the microwave, and cook on

high heat for 2 - 3 minutes or until warmed through.

Note: Any good 2 pound bread recipe made for a bread maker could be used to

substitute in this recipe if you prefer to make your dough in this manner.

I have also used frozen bread dough with good results.

CARAMELIZED VIDALIAS OVER ANGEL HAIR

3-4 Vidalia onions

2 TBSP butter (margarine will work, but butter is better)

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2-3 cloves fresh garlic (optional)

fresh shredded parmesan

angel hair pasta

Peel and slice your onions as thin as possible (I use a mandolin). Melt butter in a sauté pan, add onions, set temp to low, and cover. You will be 'sweating' the onions. This is when you add the garlic, sliced as thin as you can, if you are using it. After about 10-12 minutes, lift the lid and give everything a gentle stir, add brown sugar and stir again. Cook onions until they are translucent. Remove cover and continue cooking to let liquid reduce. I usually put chives in the angel hair as it is cooking. Drain it well, toss with a bit of olive oil. For me, I like it with the parmesan on top of the pasta, but underneath the onions. Serve with a nice salad, and I do spinach-cheddar breadsticks with marinara on the side.

 

CASHEW CASSEROLE

1 stalk celery -- sliced

1 large carrot -- scraped and shredded

1 medium onion -- chopped

1 cup fresh mushrooms -- sliced

Vegetable cooking Spray

1 cup cashews -- coarsely chopped

8 ounces water chestnuts, canned -- drained, sliced

10 1/4 ounces cream of mushroom soup -- undiluted

1 1/4 cups water

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

5 ounces chow mein noodles -- divided

Cook first 4 ingredients in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking

spray, stirring constantly until vegetables are tender.

Add cashews and next 4 ingredients, stirring until blended. Stir in 1 cup

chow mein noodles.

Spoon into 5 (1 1/2-cup) lightly greased casseroles. Sprinkle with remaining

noodles.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes. Yield: 5 servings. Note: If you prefer, bake the casserole mixture in a 2-quart casserole for 30 minutes.

 

 

CHERRY CROWN CAKE

2 cups (7 oz.) packaged grated coconut

2-1/4 cups sifted flour

1-1/3 cups sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 c. Butter

1 c. milk

1 tsp. almond extract

2 eggs

1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts

1 pound 5 oz. can prepared cherry pie filling, chilled

Set oven at 350 degrees F. Sprinkle 2/3 c. of coconut in each of two 8 or 9-inch layer pans. Place in mixing bowl flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter and milk. Blend, then beat 1-1/2 minutes at a low speed or 225 strokes with a spoon. Add almond extract and eggs; beat 1-1/2 minutes. Stir in walnuts. Spoon batter carefully over coconut in pans. Sprinkle 1/3 cup coconut over batter in each pan; bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool. Prepare Frosting. Fill and top with cherry pie filling, spreading to within one inch of edge on top. Frost sides and top edge.

Refrigerate.

Butter Creme Frosting

Blend:

2 Tbsp. flour and

1/2 c. milk in small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until very thick. Cool completely.

 

Cream:

1/2 cup Butter

1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar

1/4 tsp. almond extract until light and fluffy. Beat in flour mixture until smooth.

 

CHERRY VANILLA SHAKE

1 cup milk

1/3 cup sugar

2 cups chipped ice

1/2 cup fresh pitted cherries

1 capful vanilla

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend at highest speed until

smooth. It makes enough for 3 people to have a small shake.

 

CHILI DOG CUPCAKES

1 cup Flour

1 cup Cornmeal

3 tablespoons Sugar

1 tablespoon Baking Powder

2 Eggs -- beaten

1 cup Milk

1/4 cup Vegetable Oil

3 large Hot Dogs, beef -- sliced

1 cup Chili

Grease the bottom and sides of 12 cupcake sections in a cupcake baking pan,

then set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder

& salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and set aside.

In another bowl, combine eggs, milk and cooking oil. Add egg mixture all at

once to dry ingredients, then stir until moistened.

Spoon 2 Tbsp. batter into the bottom of each section of the prepared cupcake

pan. Divide hotdog slices and chili between the 12 sections, then fill to 2/3 full with remaining batter. Bake at 425 degrees F, for 20 - 25 minutes. Serve hot or cold, as desired. Refrigerate any leftovers.

 

CHOPPED VEGETABLE SALAD

 

1 bunch broccoli

1 small head cauliflower

2 cups baby-cut carrots

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 large cucumber, peeled and diced into large pieces

1 red bell pepper, seeded and julienned

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and julienned

1 small purple or red onion, very thinly sliced

1 cup small black olives

3/4 cup minced fresh parsley

Salad dressing (recipe follows)

 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Break the broccoli and cauliflower into small florets.

 

Add the broccoli, cauliflower and carrots to the boiling water and cook until slightly tender, about 2 minutes. Drain the vegetables and immediately rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

 

In a large bowl, combine the refrigerated blanched vegetables with the tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, onion, olives and parsley. Add the dressing and toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

 

SALAD DRESSING

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 cloves garlic

 

In a blender or food processor, process all of the ingredients until pureed. The dressing should be thick. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

The dressing contains fresh basil, which will turn brown if it sits too long; make the dressing shortly before serving. While the salad won't be as pretty the next day, it will still taste great.

 

CHRISTOPHERS CRAB CAKES

 

This recipe comes from award-winning master chef and best-selling cookbook author Sam Choy. Choy has three restaurants in the Hawaiian islands, four in Japan and another in Guam. For information on Choy, his restaurants, merchandise and recipes, check his Web site www.sam choy.com. Serve these crab cakes, named for Choy's son, with the herb sauce recipe included below.

 

3/4 pound cooked crab meat

1 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

1 large whole egg, beaten

3 tablespoons Maui or sweet onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground mustard

1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced

4 tablespoons butter

Lemon wedges, garnish

 

Mix together all ingredients except butter and lemon wedges. Shape mixture into six patties, each about 3 inches in diameter. Melt butter in pan over medium to high heat. Add crab cakes and saute about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Serve with herb sauce and garnish with lemon wedges.

 

This sauce, also from Sam Choy, can be used with any fish.

 

HERB SAUCE

 

2 tablespoons freshly chopped dill or tarragon leaves

1 teaspoon fresh chives, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced

3/4 cup mayonnaise

Salt and pepper to taste

Dash of Tabasco

 

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

CINNAMON POTATO ROLLS

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup hot mashed potatoes

1 1/2 cups very warm water

2 tbsp yeast

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

2 tsp salt

2 cups white flour

4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

filling:

1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

3 tbsp cream

2 tbsp butter, softened

Powdered sugar icing, optional

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, potatoes, and water; mix well. Add yeast; mix well. Allow to sit for a few minutes until yeast is dissolved and frothy. Add 2 cups white flour and beat by hand for a few minutes to develop the gluten. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. Stir dough down; mix in butter, eggs and salt. Gradually stir in the whole wheat flour. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. Meanwhile, combine filling ingredients and set aside. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 - 8 minutes.

 

Divide dough in half. On a floured surface, roll each portion into a 12" by 12"

square. Divide filling and spread over each square to within 1 inch of the edges. Roll up jelly-roll style. Cut each roll into nine slices. Place in a greased 9" x 9" baking pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 35 - 40 minutes or until golden. Drizzle with a powdered sugar icing if desired. Yield: 18 rolls.

 

CLASSIC YELLOW MUSTARD

 

Americans began their passion for yellow mustard in St. Louis at the 1904 world's fair when the tangy sauce was spread over the top of the classic American hot dog. Today, nearly 100 years later, the mustard is the top brand found in restaurants, and 80 of U.S. households have a bottle of French's somewhere in the pantry or fridge. But those bottles will all eventually run dry. And if that happens just before you throw together some tasty hot dogs or sandwiches, you may need to whip up some of your own yellow mustard to serve on the side. If you've got dry ground mustard and turmeric on the spice rack, you can easily clone some yellow mustard sauce in no time at all. This recipe yields just 1/4 cup of yellow mustard, but that should hold you over. At least until you can get to the market for more of the real thing.

 

From Top Secret Recipes:

 

4 teaspoons dry ground mustard

1/4 cup water

3 tablespoons white distilled vinegar

1 teaspoon Wondra flour

1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

pinch garlic powder

pinch paprika

It's beginning to look a lot like mustard.

 

1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until smooth.

2. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.

3. Remove pan from heat. and cover until cool. Chill in a covered container. (http://www.topsecretrecipes.com) Makes 1/4 cup.

 

 

 

COLORS OF PAINTERLY PALATES

THE WASHINGTON POST

(Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2001)

 

How do you assemble a colorful palette for your palate? Vegetarian cookbook author and painter Mollie Katzen offers the following tips:

 

Contrast dark greens, such as spinach, kale and escarole, with bright orange or red vegetables -- sweet potatoes, beets, carrots or squash. You'll also be complementing the bitter with the sweet. Very often when colors contrast, flavors do, too, says Katzen.

 

To brighten up a green salad, add carrots, radishes, orange or yellow tomatoes, corn, purple cabbage, red onion, dried cranberries or lightly steamed yellow squash.

 

For an easy, colorful side dish, saute sliced bell peppers (red, green, orange, yellow) in olive oil and garlic until tender-crisp.

 

Garnish platters with bouquets of fresh herbs or edible flowers such as nasturtiums.

 

Garnish dinner plates with fruit: slices of papaya or mango; wedges of ruby red grapefruit; slices of lemons, oranges or limes; a bunch of grapes or slices of red, yellow or green apples with the skin intact.

 

Similarly, use color-packed vegetables, such as beets or butternut squash, as an unusual garnish.

 

Use salad bars as an opportunity to try things you might not stock at home, and choose a wide variety -- somebody has done all the chopping and cutting for you. Likewise, take advantage of all the pre-cut, prepackaged and frozen produce items. Just don't smother them in fatty dressing.

 

For snacks, consider vegetable juices, tomato soup or fruit smoothies made with fresh or frozen fruits and fruit juices.

 

Animal protein is de-emphasized in the cuisines of many countries. Asian cooking is loaded with green-yellow and white-green vegetables, Italian is heavy on tomato products, and Indians eat a lot of colorful fruits and vegetables, such as okra, sweet potatoes and mangoes.

 

When eating at a restaurant, survey the appetizer, side dish and dessert sections first, where fruits and vegetables are more likely to be found. Make a meal out of several vegetable-based appetizers and order fruit for dessert. Or split an entree and get extra side dishes of vegetables.

 

No matter how nutritious a meal might be, remember that we eat with our eyes. A piece of fish, a potato and cauliflower on a white plate is a perfectly well-balanced meal, says Susan Bowerman of the UCLA Human Nutrition Center. But think how much more appetizing it would look if you draped the fish with tomato sauce and served it with a sweet potato and broccoli.

 

Know Your Colors

 

Author David Heber has divided fruits and vegetables into the "seven colors of health." He recommends incorporating foods with a wide range of colors into your daily regimen, including from the following groups:

 

RED: Tomatoes and tomato products such as juice, soups, sauces and ketchup; pink grapefruit, pink grapefruit juice, watermelon. These foods contain lycopene, which studies have shown reduces the risk of several types of cancer, including prostate cancer.

 

RED-PURPLE: Grapes, grape juice, red wine, prunes, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries. These foods contain anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that may have a beneficial effect for the heart by inhibiting the formation of blood clots. They also may defend against harmful carcinogens.

 

ORANGE: Carrots, mangoes, pumpkin, winter squash, sweet potatoes, apricots, cantaloupe. These contain beta-carotene, which improves communication between cells, helping them fight cancer.

 

ORANGE-YELLOW: Oranges, orange juice, tangerines, yellow grapefruit, peaches, lemons, limes, papayas, pineapples, nectarines. These fruits are all high in Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells.

 

YELLOW-GREEN: Collard, mustard and turnip greens; yellow corn, green beans, green peas, avocado, honeydew melon. These contain lutein, which protects the retina from radiation, reducing the risk of macular degeneration -- the primary preventable cause of premature blindness in the United States.

 

GREEN: Broccoli, Brussels sprout, any type of cabbage, kale, cauliflower, watercress. These contain sulforaphane, isothiocyanate and idoles, phytochemicals that enhance the breakdown and excretion of cancer-causing compounds in the liver.

 

WHITE-GREEN: Garlic, onions, chives, leeks, scallions, shallots. These alliums contain sulfur compounds that protect DNA. Other white-green fruits and vegetables, including asparagus, pears, artichokes, endive, mushrooms, celery and white wine, are rich in flavonoids -- antioxidants that protect cell membranes.

 

 

CREAMED BEEF ON TOAST

2 2.5oz packages of Carl Buddig smoked dried beef

1 stick butter

1/2 cup gold medal wondra flour

1 qt milk (whole or 2%)

Salt and pepper to taste

toast (as much as you need)

optional: pinch of dried onion flakes, pinch of dried parsley flakes

Cut up the beef into 1/2'' dice and put aside. In a heavy saucepan, make a roux

with the butter and flour. Do not brown the roux. Slowly stir in the milk, constantly stirring to break up any lumps. When all of the milk has been added, stir in the beef, and seasonings, if used, cook over low heat until mixture has thickened. When it's thick, spoon over toast.

 

CROSTINI WITH RED PEPPER PUREE

Crostini

12 thick (1/2") slices day-old Italian or French bread

1/2 clove garlic

 

Red-Pepper Puree

2 tablespoons minced onions

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 clove garlic, minced

1 can (14 ounces) Italian tomatoes

1 jar (7 ounces) roasted red peppers, rinsed, drained and diced

Pinch of dried oregano or thyme

 

To make the crostini: Arrange the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes, or until the edges are toasted. Flip the pieces and bake for another 10 minutes, or until evenly toasted. Rub the top of each slice with the garlic.

To make the red-pepper puree: Meanwhile, in a large frying pan over medium heat, saut6 the onions in the oil until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with their juice, peppers and oregano or thyme. Bring to a boil.

Simmer, stirring and breaking up the tomatoes with the side of a spoon, until the liquid has evaporated and the mixture has thickened, about 15 minutes.

Let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a food processor. Chop with on/off turns until slightly chunky. Return to the frying pan. Simmer until very thick. Spread the warm puree on the crostini.

Chefs Note: You may prepare the crostini up to three days ahead; cool the pieces and store in plastic bags. You may also prepare the puree ahead. Reheat before using. rotate the pan so that the eggs are evenly distributed. As the eggs set around the edges, lift them to allow uncooked portions to flow underneath.

 

CURRIED RICE WITH ROASTED CARROTS AND APRICOTS

 

3 cups uncooked basmati rice

2 to 3 cups sliced carrots, about 1/2 inch thick

About 1/2 tablespoon oil

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

2 tablespoons curry powder

1/2 cup diced dried apricots

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts or sliced almonds, toasted (optional)

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

 

Cook the rice according to package directions.

 

Meanwhile, place the carrots in a baking dish, drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Cover and roast, stirring them twice, until easily pierced with a fork or the tip of a knife, about 25 minutes, depending on the thickness. Remove from the oven; set aside to cool slightly.

 

In a large pot over low heat, combine the cooked rice, broth, curry powder, apricots and, if desired, the nuts and stir until mixed. Heat until warm throughout. Transfer to a serving dish, top with the carrots and serve immediately.

 

DEEP DISH TACO SQUARES

1/2 lb. Ground Beef

1/2 c. Dairy Sour Cream

1/3 c. Mayonnaise

1/2 c. ( 2oz.) Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

1 Tbsp. Onion, chopped

1 c. Bisquick Baking Mix

1/4 c. Cold Water

1-2 Med. Tomatoes, thinly sliced

1/2 c. Green Pepper, chopped

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a square baking pan, 8x8x2 inches. Cook

and stir beef until brown; drain. Mix sour cream, mayonnaise, cheese and

onions; reserve. Mix the baking mix and water until soft dough forms. Pat

in pan, pressing dough 1/2 inch up sides. Layer beef, tomatoes, and green

pepper in pan. Spoon sour cream mixture over top. Sprinkle with Paprika, if

desired. Bake until edges of dough are light brown - about 25-30

minutes. Serves: 5-6

 

FAST AND FRESH APRICOT ICE CREAM

 

1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened

1 pound diced, ripe, fresh apricots

 

Quickly stir ice cream and apricots together in large bowl to combine. Spoon into freezer container. Freeze for 1 hour; stir mixture to get an even distribution of apricots. Return to freezer and freeze for 3 hours or until firm. Place ice cream in refrigerator 15 minutes before serving to soften slightly.

 

Makes about 4 1/2 cups.

 

FETTUCCINE IN BITTER SALAD

Bitter salad greens-escarole, radicchio and Belgian endive-are sautéed 40 here with garlic and crushed red pepper and served over fettuccine. Although included in the accompaniments chapter, this dish would also make a good first course or light entrée. When cooking pasta for this and other recipes in the book, remember to reserve a little of the cooking liquid. Mix it into the pasta along with the sauce or topping at serving time to give added moisture and flavor to the dish. You can also serve these cooked greens without the pasta as a meat or poultry accompaniment.

 

4 tablespoons virgin olive oil

5 - 6 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and finely chopped (1 tablespoon)

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 small head escarole (4 ounces), leaves separated, washed, dried and cut into 1"

pieces (5 cups)

1 small head radicchio (4 ounces), cut crosswise into 1/2" slices, washed and dried

(4 cups)

3 Belgian endives (4 ounces), cut in half lengthwise, then into long 1/4 inch thick

strips, washed and dried (2-1/2 cups)

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 pound fettuccine

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

 

Bring about 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and pepper flakes; cook for 10 to 15 seconds. Then add a handful of the escarole, first pressing it down into the pan and then turning the mixture over so the garlic is mixed in with the greens and doesn't burn in the bottom of the pan. Add the remainder of the escarole plus the radicchio, endives and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Cover and cook the mixture over medium to low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the fettucine to the boiling water and return the water to a boil. Boil the pasta for about 10 minutes, or until firm to the bite (al dente).

Remove 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid and place it in a bowl with the parsley, the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Drain the pasta well and add it to the bowl.

Add the cooked greens (with and liquid). Toss well. To serve, divide among 6 plates. If desired, sprinkle with the Parmesan. Yield: 6 generous servings

 

 

 

 

FIVE FRUIT SALAD

 

1 cup seedless grapes

1/2 cup peeled, chopped orange segments

1/2 cup chopped cantaloupe

1/2 cup banana

1/2 cup chopped pineapple

3/4 cup orange-juice concentrate, thawed (or substitute freshly squeezed

orange juice)

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice, or to taste

2 teaspoons minced mint

3/4 teaspoon grated lime zest

 

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients, tossing gently to coat.

 

FLAXSEED RYE BREAD

 

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons molasses

2 tablespoons carob powder

1 tablespoon dry active yeast

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup gluten flour or 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Vital Wheat Gluten

1/4 cup flaxseeds

1 cup whole rye flour

2 1/4 cups whole wheat bread flour (approximately)

 

1. In a large bowl, combine the water, oil, molasses, carob powder, and yeast. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes to dissolve the yeast.

 

2. In a smaller bowl, mix together the sea salt, gluten flour or Vital Wheat Gluten, flaxseeds, rye flour, and about 1/2 cup of the wheat flour. Beat 100 strokes.

 

3. Add enough of the remaining wheat flour to make a kneadable dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for at least 10 minutes. Keep the kneading surface sprinkled with flour, kneading in just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking. A dough containing rye flour will always be stickier than a wheat dough, so don't add too much flour.

 

4. Oil the bowl in which you mixed the dough and return the dough to the bowl. Turn it over to oil the top. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp cloth and let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk (about 1 hour).

 

5. Punch down. Now either let the dough rise in the bowl another time or shape it into a loaf. Press the loaf down firmly in a well-oiled loaf pan, 4 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches, to ensure that this large loaf does not rise too high. Oil the top of the loaf and let it rise until it has doubled in bulk.

 

6. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and let it cool on a rack before storing.

 

Author's note: The first time I made this loaf, I let it rise too much in the pan and it fell over the sides. If that happens to you, just punch it down, reshape the loaf, and return it to the pan, pressing it down firmly. Let it rise again (this time only until doubled) and bake as usual. Makes One loaf.

 

FRESH APRICOT ICE CREAM

 

12-ounce can skimmed evaporated milk

1 envelope plain gelatin

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups diced, ripe fresh apricots (about 3/4 pound)

12-ounce can apricot nectar

2 cups plain low-fat yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel

7 pounds small ice cubes

1 cup rock salt or table salt, according to ice cream maker directions

 

Combine milk and gelatin in large saucepan. Heat, stirring often, until gelatin dissolves. Add sugar and heat until it dissolves. Using a wire whip, stir in apricots, apricot nectar, yogurt and vanilla.

 

Pour mixture into canister of ice cream maker and assemble the machine. Make alternate layers of ice and salt around the canister. Churn 20 to 30 minutes or until softly frozen.

 

Pack into containers and freeze. For best flavor, let ice cream soften slightly before serving.

 

Makes about 2 quarts.

 

FROZEN PEANUT BUTTER PIE

1-9" graham cracker crust

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup milk

1-8oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup whipped topping (Cool-whip)

chocolate syrup

Combine peanut butter, milk and cream cheese in large mixing bowl on low

speed. Add powdered sugar and whipped topping; mix until smooth. Pour into

graham cracker crust. I like to make a circular pattern on the top of the

pie, then pull a toothpick through the top of the pie. Start from the

center of the pie and pull down, then about 2" apart start at the bottom

edge and pull up to center. Makes a great design. Freeze until firm. To

serve, drizzle chocolate in a pretty design on the bottom of your plate, add

a slice of pie, and top with cool whip.

 

FRUIT DIP

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 cup marshmallow creme

1/2 cup vanilla yogurt

Mix these until blended well. Keep refrigerated.

 

GREEK SALAD

 

1/2 head romaine lettuce, chopped

A few young spinach leaves, washed well, shredded

3 tomatoes, cut into wedges

1/2 cucumber, halved lengthwise, sliced

1/2 mild white or yellow onion, thinly sliced, separated into rings

1 green bell pepper, seeded, sliced

6 oz. feta cheese, cubed

About 12 kalamata or pitted ripe olives

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or marjoram

Lemon Dressing, see below

 

Lemon Dressing:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

 

Mix lettuce and spinach; place in a large bowl or individual bowls. Add tomatoes, cucumber, onion and bell pepper. Arrange cheese and olives on top and sprinkle with oregano or marjoram. To prepare Lemon Dressing, stir together all dressing ingredients. Spoon dressing over salad and serve. Makes 4 servings

 

GRILLED PIZZA MARGHERITA

 

1 package (3 lbs) frozen bread dough, thawed according to package directions

 

Margherita sauce:

 

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

5 cloves garlic, chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional olive oil for brushing dough

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Topping:

 

Shredded cheese mixture for pizza (such as Romano or Parmesan)

Chopped basil

 

Separate each thawed loaf into three pieces, making nine pieces total. Brush pieces with olive oil, cover and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free location until double in volume.

 

Meantime, combine all sauce ingredients in a blender and process about 30 seconds, or until desired consistency is reached.

 

When ready to cook, prepare grill so that one half of cooking surface is hot and the other is warm.

 

On clean surface, stretch each piece of dough into a round shape 9 to 12 inches in diameter; they will be very thin. Place one crust on hot side of grill.

 

As soon as it begins to puff up, about 30 seconds, begin picking up the edges and turning crust slightly. After another 30 seconds of cooking, turn crust over and place on cooler side of grill. Brush crust with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sauce, sprinkle with cheese and basil, and cook an additional minute. Remove and continue with pizzas.

 

HOMEMADE BISCUIT MIX

10 C all-purpose flour

1/3 C baking powder

1/4 C sugar

1-1/2 TB salt

2 C shortening

Stir together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. With pastry blender, cut in shortening until it resembles coarse crumbs. Store in covered container at room temperature for 6 weeks or freezer bags for 6 months in the freezer.

 

 

 

HOT HUES ARE TASTY EYEFULS

By CAROLE SUGARMAN, THE WASHINGTON POST, June 20, 2001

 

What color is your diet? If it's brown and beige, "you're in deep trouble," says David Heber.

 

As in steaks and baked potatoes. Burgers and fries.

 

That color scheme may work well in your family room. But it's not complementing your genes, your vision, your heart and your ability to fight off cancer and other diseases, says Heber, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition and author of the just-published "What Color Is Your Diet?" (Regan Books, $25).

 

The book recommends a far more vibrant eating approach.

 

In the latest attempt to get people to eat more fruits and vegetables, hues are hot.

 

The National Cancer Institute's 5 a Day program has a new campaign called "Sample the Spectrum," which advises people to color their daily diets with fruits and vegetables that are bright orange, deep red, dark green, blue, purple and yellow.

 

While there's convincing evidence that populations that eat more produce have lower rates of chronic diseases, scientists now are learning just what makes fruits and vegetables so beneficial.

 

Phytochemicals -- the hundreds of different compounds produced by plants that can protect them from oxygen, sunlight, bad weather, insects and other sources of harm -- can provide protection to humans, too.

 

Color enters the picture because some phytochemicals are responsible for the pigments in produce. Anthocyanin, the substance that makes a blueberry blue, for example, has antioxidant characteristics that can be powerful cancer fighters. Tomatoes

 

are red because of lycopene, an antioxidant that has been linked to lower rates of cancer, as well as decreased rates of heart disease.

 

Scientists believe that phytochemicals work in combination with one another. So it's not enough to just eat red or blue. The idea is to redesign your plate with a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, with beige -- as in chicken breast, whole-wheat bread -- as an accent color.

 

Heber recommends that you reduce your meat portion from six ounces to three and switch from mashed potatoes to sliced carrots and from corn to spinach. Then add more colors with few extra calories, such as red pepper, tomato sauce, garlic, onions or broccoli. Top off your chicken or fish with rinds of oranges or lemons and have mixed berries for dessert, he writes.

 

These recommendations are part of Heber's "color code," which divides fruits and vegetables into seven color categories, with instructions to include at least one food from each color group every day.

 

Eating by color is "definitely a gimmick," says Melanie Polk, director of nutrition education for the American Institute for Cancer Research. But aiming for multicolored fruit salads or "throwing on every single color you can think of as you walk around the salad bar," are ways consumers "can get more of a variety of protective substances," she said.

 

Whether the public will embrace it remains to be seen.

 

Darcy Hall, a spokeswoman for the 5 a Day program, said research indicates that the top produce items Americans are eating are 1) french fries, 2) other potatoes and 3) iceberg lettuce. Not exactly a pigment-packed bunch.

 

While that regimen does not completely exclude fruits and vegetables, it emphasizes monochromatic protein sources such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and cheese.

 

Still, color proponents are hoping that Americans will opt for the rainbow approach.

 

Vegetarian cookbook author Mollie Katzen ("The Moosewood Cookbook" and others) promotes the health benefits of "eat by color" diets on her public television cooking series. After all, says Katzen, "it's a confluence of something that's beautiful, delicious -- and good for you."

 

HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF MELONS

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2001)

 

A melon's rind holds inside itself a great mystery. Is the fruit ripe yet? Will it be moist and delicious, or woody and disappointing?

 

Most fruits start to lose some of their delicious perfume the minute they are picked. Compounding the trouble is the fact that cooling the fruit dulls and destroys even more of the fruit's complex taste.

 

The trick for all of us is to find melons that are ripe enough to eat, luscious and still safe and wholesome.

 

There are more melon varieties in markets now than ever before.

 

Guidelines to use when selecting a melon are:

 

Get to know the produce purveyor at your supermarket or farmers market. You don't need to get on a first-name basis to observe this basic rule. You can learn a great deal by simply looking around the market. In a well-run market or section, fruits and vegetables are displayed in neat, attractive displays that help to preserve the flavor and freshness of the item. Signs identify produce shipped in from other parts of the state, the country or the world.

 

The area should be kept clean, and past-its-prime produce removed and properly discarded. This is not just for appearances' sake. One bad apple can spoil the whole barrel, if it stays around long enough.

 

Choose melons that are heavy for their size. Pick the melon up in both hands. Pick up a few more. Pretty soon, you'll know exactly what is meant by "heavy for its size."

 

Get to know your melon. Each melon variety has a slightly different appearance, smell and sound when it is fully ripe.

 

Cantaloupes, for instance, are known as full-slip melons. This means that, when they are fully ripe, they slip away from the vine, leaving a smooth scar on the fruit. Other varieties are cut from the vine, and there will be some of the stem intact.

 

You may see folks sniffing melons, shaking them to hear the seeds slosh around inside -- or thumping them as they would a loaf of bread to see if it is ready to come from the oven. The melon you are buying should have some hint of a sweet melon aroma.

 

Melon selection, like melon growing, requires patience, skill, and a little luck.

Melon balls and more

 

The melon now is ready to cut into wedges to serve on the rind, perhaps with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a scattering of cracked peppercorns. Or you may wish to cut melon balls. A combination of melons, and scoops used to make balls of different sizes, can create a wonderful looking and tasting fruit salad.

 

To make melon balls from a halved melon: Insert the melon baller into the fruit, twisting the scoop to make a perfect round.

 

Continue to make balls until you have taken away a relatively even layer of melon. Slice away the scooped melon (and reserve the remaining melon flesh to make pureed smoothies or soup).

 

Continue to make another layer of melon balls, until as much of the melon is shaped as possible.

 

Melon ballers come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, from tiny scoops the size of "petit pois" (the French term for small young, green peas) to oval, fluted or scalloped scoops.

 

'Cooking' with melons

 

These recipes are adapted from "The New Professional Chef," Seventh Edition (John Wiley & Sons, due to be published in October).

 

This cantaloupe soup is a surprisingly delicate and pleasant starter to any meal served on a hot summer day. Sparkling wine or seltzer may be added to the soup just before serving.

 

For an unusual presentation, serve the soup in wine glasses. Dip the rims of the glasses into lightly whipped egg whites, then into granulated sugar, and chill.

 

COLD CANTALOUPE CREAM

 

1 medium cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks (about 61/2 cups)

1 quart apricot nectar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons honey

 

Sachet:

 

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

3 whole allspice berries

1 whole clove

One 2-inch cinnamon stick tied up in a cheesecloth pouch

1 cup half-and-half, chilled

1 pint lime sherbet or granite (optional)

8 mint leaves

 

Place the melon, apricot nectar, lemon juice, honey and sachet in a soup pot. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the melon is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

 

Remove and discard the sachet. Strain the soup through a sieve, reserving the liquid. Puree the solids in a food processor or blender. Combine the puree with enough of the reserved liquid to achieve a soup consistency. Chill thoroughly.

 

Whisk the half-and-half into the soup. Serve in chilled wine glasses or bowls, garnished with a scoop of lime sherbet if desired, and a mint leaf.

 

SUMMER MELON SALAD WITH PROSCIUTTO

 

1 1/2 cups cantaloupe balls

1 1/2 cups honeydew balls

1 1/2 cups watermelon balls (seedless preferred)

3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar

Cracked black peppercorns, to taste

 

Cut the melons into balls as close as possible to serving time.

 

Keep them chilled until you are ready to serve the salad. Arrange the melon and prosciutto on chilled plates and drizzle each serving with a teaspoon of the balsamic vinegar. Scatter with cracked peppercorns, if desired.

 

JUNIPER LAMB

 

1 (1-1/4-lb.) loin of lamb, boned, trimmed

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

1/4 cup water

Lemon wedges to garnish

Apricots to garnish

Fresh rosemary sprigs to garnish

 

Marinade:

1 cup rosé wine

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon juniper berries, crushed

2 teaspoons angostura bitters

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

 

Stuffing

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

2 ozs. dried apricots, presoaked

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

 

To prepare marinade, in a large bowl, combine all marinade ingredients until well blended. Immerse lamb in marinade, turning to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 375F (190C). To prepare stuffing, in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process all stuffing ingredients until well blended. Remove lamb from marinade. Pat dry with paper towels. Spread stuffing over center of meat. Roll up and tie securely with cotton string in several places. Place in a roasting pan. Brush well with marinade. Bake in preheated oven 45 to 50 minutes, basting with more marinade if necessary. Remove lamb from pan and keep warm. Add remaining marinade to pan juices. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Dissolve flour in water and stir into sauce. Strain sauce into a warmed serving bowl. Remove string from meat and cut in thin slices. Garnish with lemon wedges, apricots and rosemary sprigs and serve with sauce. Makes 4 to 6 servings

 

LEMONADE PIE

1 8 oz. carton Cool Whip

1 6 oz. can frozen lemonade concentrate

14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1 9-inch graham cracker crust - deep dish if you can find it

In a large bowl combine the Cool Whip, lemonade, and sweetened condensed

milk blending well. Pour the mixture into the crust and chill until firm,

about 2 hours.

 

LOW FAT CHICKEN PITA POCKETS

Sauce

1/2 teaspoon mixed garlic flakes and dried herbs of choice

2-3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream

1/4 teaspoon paprika

pinch pepper to taste

Filling

1 cup diced red capsicum (pepper)

3 cups sliced mushrooms

1 skinless double chicken breast, cooked & cubed

1 cup coarsely diced tomatoes

shredded lettuce

1 ounce reduced fat cheddar cheese

Pita Bread

6-8, depending how full you want the pockets to be.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Add the filling ingredients one at a time, stirring thoroughly to evenly coat. Set aside. Make a cut across the top of each slice of pita bread, (approx 1/3 of the circumference of the bread) to create a "pocket". Divide the filling evenly among the pita, and place each portion inside the pocket created. Eat as is , or if you prefer; coat a baking dish with nonstick spray. Arrange the pita pockets carefully in the dish, so as not to spill the filling. Bake for 10 - 20 minutes.

 

MAKING SUNDAY LAST ALL WEEK

 

By Dianne Jacob, ucook.com contributor

 

I like homemade food. I keep meaning to cook some, but often don't have the time or energy - especially when I'm just coming home from work.

 

There is a solution. Cook on the weekend, and make enough to have leftovers. This is my best strategy for cutting down on the time it takes to prepare weekday dinners.

 

The dishes don't have to be complicated. I usually make simple food, like two roast chickens, a pot of soup, and a frittata. When I'm done, I have the basics of three meals. On Sunday night, we have a roast chicken with salad and bread. On Tuesday, we have soup with frittata sandwiches. On Wednesday, we have chicken tacos with tortillas, salsa, shredded lettuce, and cheese.

 

Get the idea? Once I put in a few hours on Sunday, hardly any additional preparation and cooking are required for the next few meals.

 

This system requires a little planning. First, visualize three complete meals for the weekday ahead. Meats work well because you can use leftovers in eggs, pastas, sandwiches, and main-dish salads. If you're thinking about vegetables, plan to make double. You can reheat leftovers for another meal or toss them into pasta and omelets.

 

After you've thought it through, make a list of the ingredients of each meal. Put all the fruits and vegetables in one category, so you can zip through the grocery store more quickly.

 

Then, go shopping at an off time, like Friday night after dinner or early Saturday morning. It'll reduce your stress. The worst time to go is right after work, when everyone is figuring out what to make for dinner.

 

By the time Sunday afternoon rolls around, you're ready. You're not tired from work, you aren't starving, you're not trying to get a meal on the table in 20 minutes, and you have put aside two hours to enjoy yourself.

 

Blast some music on the stereo or listen to an audio book, and within a few hours, you'll be done cooking. Here are some ideas for what you might make:

 

• Roast a turkey breast. Use leftovers to make a Waldorf salad, sandwiches, or wraps.

 

• Make polenta. Pat leftovers into a pan. Slice and fry another day.

 

• Make extra pasta, then use the cold pasta for a pasta salad.

 

• Boil a few eggs. They're good when diced over fresh vegetables, and sauced with balsamic vinegar.

 

While you're waiting for food to finish cooking, get a few more things ready for instant meals and snacks. Clean lettuce and tear it into bite-sized pieces. Put it back in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, accompanied by a paper towel. Now it's ready for salad.

 

If you like to munch on fresh vegetables, prepare bite-sized pieces of carrots, celery, jicama, and radishes and put them in a bowl of water in the fridge.

 

Don't forget to use up the actual leftovers. And congratulations if you manage to get two more meals out of each dish.

 

OMELETS ARE THE ULTIMATE SHORT ORDER FOOD

 

By Marlene Parrish, ucook.com contributor

 

Omelets are almost fool-proof to make and so quick to put together that they should be in every cook's bag of quick-supper tricks. Breakfast, lunch or supper, omelets are delicious. Add toast or a muffin and a piece of fruit for dessert.

 

Can you pat your head with one hand and make circles on your stomach with the other? Good. You possess the motor skills that are necessary to make an omelet. All you need is a flat non-stick spatula, an 8-inch non-stick skillet with sloping sides, a couple of eggs and a little practice.

 

I learned to make omelets in an old black cast-iron skillet that I swiped from my grandmother's kitchen. It is used only for omelets and is never washed on the inside, only wiped out with a damp cloth. If I get a sticking place, I "scour" it out with kosher salt and a paper towel. Before hanging the skillet back on the pot rack, I spritz it with non-stick cooking spray and wipe to a film. If you have one of these oldies, get it out and use it.

 

Omelets are the perfect host for add-ins. Finely chopped fresh herbs add color and flavor when stirred into the raw egg mixture. Filling ideas begin with leftovers you might have in the fridge: sautéed onions, mushrooms and other cooked vegetables, crumbled crisp bacon or diced ham. Cheese omelets are on my A-list for comfort food. Add grated cheddar cheese just before the eggs set so it can melt. Then top the finished cheese omelet with warmed salsa.

 

Don't worry if you can't make a perfect omelet at first. This is a technique you acquire by learning to judge the point when the omelet has set just enough to be rolled and tipped out. The whole process takes less than a minute.

 

Why not invest in a dozen eggs and half an hour (that's about all it should take) and practice until you get the hang of stirring and rolling? After the fifth two-egg plain omelet, you should have the technique down pat. Then make the last omelet, add filling and eat it for supper.

 

Here's the drill:

 

Have ready about a third of a cup of some sort of filling. It should be at room temperature or warm. Break two eggs into a small bowl, add a generous pinch of salt and pepper and a dash of hot sauce along with one tablespoon of water. Beat lightly with a fork just long enough to blend yolks and whites.

 

Heat your omelet pan over high heat until a drop of water skitters around when flicked onto the surface. Add a tablespoon of butter and swirl it around until it melts and foams, which will happen immediately if the pan is the right heat. (If the butter burns, the pan is too hot. To cool it, remove the pan from the heat, wipe out with paper towels, swing the pan back and forth in the air to cool it and start again.)

 

When the butter stops foaming, quickly pour in the egg mixture and shake the pan forward and back with the left hand if you are right handed (palm down over the handle) so it moves over the heat. With the right hand, stir the eggs in a wide circle using a pulling motion as if you were making scrambled eggs. Expect a few holes and tears that the loose egg will fill out. When the eggs are about done to the creaminess or dryness you prefer, add the filling (if you are using one) by spooning it across the "equator" of the omelet.

 

Quickly reverse your grip on the handle, holding it from underneath (palm up over the handle). Now tip the pan upward at an angle, and start to roll and fold the omelet by running the spatula under it at the handle end so the omelet begins to curl onto itself.

 

Put a plate close to the pan and start to invert the pan, which will tip the omelet onto the plate in a neat roll, with the edges underneath and a smooth surface on top. Serve right away. Not to worry if it isn't perfect. The worst case scenario is a supper of scrambled eggs.

 

Remember, omelets wait for no one, so set the table, make salad and pour your beverage before you start cooking.

PECAN BRITTLE

2 cups sugar

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 cups pecans

Dipping chocolate (optional)

Toast pecans at 200 degrees F until warm; set aside. In a large saucepan,

combine sugar and corn syrup and cook to 310 degrees F, stirring constantly.

Add butter; continue cooking, stirring constantly, to 290 degrees F. Remove

from heat; stir in salt, soda, vanilla, and nuts. Beat quickly, and spread

out on a greased marble slab or on a heavily greased cookie sheet. Break

apart when cool. Can be eaten as is or dipped in chocolate. Makes about 20

pieces.

 

PORK AND BLACK BEAN STEW

 

1 pound boneless pork loin, loin chops or tenderloin, cut in half-inch cubes

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon each dried oregano and salt

Red pepper flakes or ground red pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 can (15 ounces) black beans or kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

 

Rice:

11/2 cups long-grain rice

3 cups water

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Guacamole:

2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled

1/2 onion, grated, optional

Juice of 1 lime or lemon

1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt, hot pepper sauce

 

Tortilla chips

 

Toss pork cubes, onion, garlic, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper flakes to taste in medium bowl. Heat oil in large skillet over high heat. Add pork mixture; cook, stirring occasionally, to brown meat, about 6 minutes. Stir in beans and broth. Cover; heat to boil.

 

Remove from heat; stir in cilantro and cover.

 

Meanwhile, cook rice in water with bay leaf and salt according to package directions.

 

For guacamole, mash avocados with onion, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper sauce to taste.

 

Serve pork over rice, accompanied by guacamole and chips.

The pork-and-onion mixture browns better and quicker in a wide skillet.

 

If you'd rather have something burrito-esque, reduce the broth called for by half and turn the meat and guacamole into a filling for tortillas.

Have a bottle of beer open? Stir some into the pan after the meat has browned and let evaporate before adding the broth.

 

PORK CHOPS AND MUSHROOMS

4-6 Pork chops

1-2 cans Mushrooms, juice and all

4-6 Potatoes, small to medium

1 can Cream of Mushroom soup

1/2 can milk (soup can)

1 onion (small to medium, depending on your taste)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Peel and cube potatoes. Line the bottom of your crock pot with the potatoes

(about two or three inches, depending on the size of your crock pot). Brown

the pork chops in a fry pan and layer them over the potatoes.

Spread the mushrooms over the pork chops, including the mushroom liquid in

the can. We like to use two cans of mushrooms, but one will do. Sprinkle

the diced onion over the mushrooms and pork chops.

Mix the Cream of Mushroom soup and the half-can of milk together and pour

over all. You can also sprinkle a little Season All for more flavor if you want.

Cook on Low for 8 hours

- or -

Cook on high for 4-6 hours (turn to low after 4 hours when using high).

PORK MEDALLIONS WITH MELON

 

1 12-ounce pork tenderloin

1/4 cup prepared mustard

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

3 tablespoons crushed peppercorns

1 cantaloupe, seeded and sliced

1/2 cup red wine

 

Preheat the grill.

Cut the pork tenderloin into 1/2-inch slices, brush with the mustard. Coat with the rosemary and peppercorns. Grill the pork for 3 to 4 minutes on each side; remove and chill. Sear the melon for 2 minutes on each side. Remove and set in a shallow dish with the wine. Marinate, refrigerated, for 1 hour. Serve the pork medallions with the melon and red-wine juices. Makes 8 appetizer servings

 

POTATO ROLLS

3/4 cups mashed potato

2 cups very warm water

2 tbsp yeast

2 tbsp sugar ( I use brown)

1 1/2 cups white flour

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 eggs

1/2 tbsp salt

6 cups whole wheat flour plus more for kneading.

In large bowl, mix together the water, sugar, potatoes, and yeast. Mix well and let stand a few minutes until the yeast is dissolved and foamy. Add the white flour and beat well for several minutes to develop the gluten. Place, covered, in a warm place until the mixture doubles in bulk. About 1 hour. In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Add the eggs, butter, and salt and mix well. Add 3 cups of whole wheat flour and mix well. Place, covered in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled in bulk. About 1 hour. Mix 3 cups of whole wheat flour into dough.

 

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter top. Keep extra flour handy to knead into the dough. Knead dough, adding flour as needed, until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough into bowl and allow to rise, covered, until

doubled in bulk. About 1 hour. Turn dough out onto lightly floured counter.

 

Knead lightly a couple of minutes. Break off golf ball sized pieces of dough. Roll into a smooth ball and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Continue until all the dough is on the cookie sheets. Set in a warm place and allow to rise until double in size. Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Bake the rolls 15 minutes or until nicely browned.

 

PUNCH FOR A CROWD

1 gallon cranberry-raspberry juice cocktail

1 48-ounce can Apricot Nectar

2 cans (12-ounce) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

2 juice cans (24 ounces)of water

1 2-liter bottle citrus or lemon-lime soda or ginger ale (to taste)

1 quart raspberry sherbet or sorbet

Mix juices together in a large (non-aluminum) kettle, chill several hours or overnight Just before serving, stir to mix. Pour into a punch bowl, add soda,

stir gently. Add scoops of sorbet to float on top. Makes enough for two large punch bowls, or three smaller ones.

If you have time and/or energy, use some of the punch to freeze a ring in a bundt pan. Layer about 1/2 to 1 inch, freeze mostly firm (a little slushy is okay) and place red or green maraschino cherries around the circle, add another 1 to 1 1/2 inches of punch and freeze firm. This will help keep your punch cold without diluting it. You can add the maraschino juice to the punch to brighten the colour, but that may make it a little too sweet for some tastes.

 

REFRIGERATOR PICKLES

3 qts water

1 qt white vinegar

1 cup pickling salt

4 to 5 lbs cucumbers

1 bunch fresh dill

1 head garlic

 

Combine water, vinegar, and salt. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and refrigerate overnight in glass or plastic jars. Next day, scrub cucumbers. Put some dill flowers and at least 5 peeled garlic cloves into each canning jar. (I like to add peppercorns, too!) Pack cucumbers into jar nice and tight, cover with cold brine, secure lids, and refrigerate at least 3 days. As you take out and devour pickles, put more cucumbers in the jar, and keep the cycle going.

 

RICE LYONNAISE

 

3/4 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

3 cups cooked rice

1/4 cup chopped pimientos

 

Saute onion in butter in a heavy skillet until tender. Stir in rice and

pimientos; cook, stirring constantly, until heated. Yield: 6 servings.

 

SLOPPY JOE CASSEROLE

1lb. Ground Beef

1c. Catsup

1/2c. Water

2 Tbsp. Instant Minced Onion

1 tsp. Beef Bouillon, or 1 Cube

2c. Bisquick Baking Mix

2/3 c. Milk

Paprika

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Cook and stir the ground beef in 10 - inch

skillet until brown; drain. Stir in catsup, water, onion and bouillon. Heat

to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 5

minutes. Mix baking mix and milk until soft dough forms; beat vigorously 20

strokes. Spread half the dough in an ungreased square pan, 8x8x2 inches. Top

with beef mixture. Drop the remaining dough, by spoonfuls, onto top.

Sprinkle with paprika. Bake until light brown, about 25 minutes. Serves: 8

 

SOUR CREAM RAISIN PIE

(Sun Maid's classic)

 

Pie shell

 

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup shortening

2 to 3 tablespoons cold milk

 

Filling

 

2 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup sour cream for topping

 

Pie shell: Combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening until particles are pea-sized. Sprinkle with milk to make a stiff dough. Roll on lightly floured board to fit into 8-inch pie pan. Fold edge under and flute rim.

Filling: Beat eggs, 1 cup sour cream, sugar, vanilla, salt and nutmeg together until well-blended. Stir in raisins. Pour into pastry shell. Bake below oven center at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, just until set. Cool. If desired, top each serving with spoonful of sour cream.

 

STRAWBERRY CAKE

1 pkg. strawberry Jell-O

1/2 c. hot water

- Combine Jell-O & water in mixing bowl.

 

1/2 c. oil

1 pkg. yellow cake mix

- Add oil & cake mix.

 

4 eggs

- Add eggs, one at a time.

 

1/2 c. frozen strawberries

- Mix in strawberries. Beat 2 minutes.

 

- Bake 3 9" layers 25 minutes or so at 350 degrees.

- Completely cool cake on rack.

Strawberry Icing

1/2 stick butter, softened

4 to 8 oz cream cheese (optional)

4 1/2 c. powdered sugar (1 lb. + 3/4 cup)

- Cream together butter & sugar (and cream cheese, if using).

1/2 c. frozen strawberries (mostly berries)

- Add strawberries and mix well.

 

STRAWBERRY PIE

1 pkg. (small -1.1oz) sugar free Cook & Serve vanilla pudding

2 cups water

1 pkg. (small - 0.3 oz) sugar free strawberry Jell-O

4 cups sliced strawberries (16 oz. box of fresh strawberries= 4 cups)

In a medium saucepan add water and pudding mix. Mix well then heat to a

boil. Remove from heat and immediately add the strawberry gelatin and stir until

dissolved. Set aside and let it cool to room temperature.

Place sliced strawberries into the bottom of a deep dish pie plate. Pour cooled pudding mixture over strawberries and refrigerate until chilled.

 

SUNSHINE BREAD

1/4 cup Water -- lukewarm

2 1/2 cups Flour

1 teaspoon Salt

3 tablespoons Sugar

3 tablespoons Butter or Margarine -- melted

1 tablespoon Orange Zest

2 1/2 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast

1 teaspoon Lemon Zest

2/3 cup Orange Juice -- room temperature

2 teaspoons Vegetable Oil

Combine lukewarm water, sugar, and dry yeast in a large bowl, stirring until

completely dissolved. Add warm orange juice and mix well. Add 1 cup of

the flour gradually, beating until smooth. Cover bowl and set in a warm

place until bubbly and light (30-40 minutes). Add salt, margarine, and

orange and lemon zest, then beat gently. Stir in remaining flour gradually,

mixing well. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until

smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Use 2 tsp. vegetable oil to grease a

large bowl, then place dough into bowl, turning dough around to coat. Cover

bowl and place in warm place until dough has doubled in size (1 -2 hours).

Punch dough down. Knead for 5 minutes. Shape into a loaf and place into an

oiled loaf pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour. Preheat

oven to 375 degrees F. When bread has risen, bake 35-45 minutes. When

done, remove bread from pan and cool on a wire rack.

 

TAMALES THE LATIN SANDWICH

 

By Bradford Seaman, ucook.com staff writer

 

In many cultures, it was believed that even the immortals needed to eat. While the elaborate rites of the ancient Egyptians receive plenty of press, the Aztec civilization of Central America was equally adept at catering (literally) to the desires of their deities. And when their gods demanded offerings, they served up tamales.

 

Today, a stroll through Mexican markets and food stands is never complete without visiting a stall of these steaming cornhusks bulging with masa (dough). Tamales - then and now - are at the heart of a cuisine that has been developing for 8,000 years.

 

Tamales are so versatile that they're tough to define. As a starting point, let's just say that most tamales consist of corn masa (often filled with shredded meat, vegetables, or fruit) wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and steamed. Their ingredients vary from region to region, and they range in size from one-inch snacks to three-foot buffets-in-a-leaf.

 

The main ingredient of tamales, corn, has long been the lifeblood of Central and South American civilization. The Mayas believed that corn was the source of life, and they used it constantly in their diets. The Aztecs had corn tortillas and tamales on their daily menu as well as the sacrificial alter.

 

Their current name comes from the Aztec tamalli, a word for wrapped food. In most of Central and South America, tamal is used. Venezuelans call them hallacas, while Bolivians use the word humita.

 

Their names are hardly the only subjective aspect of tamales. Their fillings are the most flexible, mixing regional meats, vegetables, spices, fruits, and chiles with the corn masa. Veracruz uses chipotle chile fillings, while Arizona makes tamales with fresh corn instead of masa.

 

The masa, a corn flour-based dough, is the main ingredient of most tamales, though some variations substitute rice, fresh corn, and even potatoes. Sometimes a flavoring, such as a chile sauce, is folded into the masa.

 

The wrappers are often cornhusks or banana leaves, though other available leaves are used as well. A Mexican tamale called a corunda uses corn leaves rather than husks, and some tamales use avocado leaves, a clear Californian influence.

 

While it resembles a sandwich more in its use and popularity than in its ingredients and appearance, the tamale is a true Mexican classic that has slowly crept north of the border. It is served today in much the same way as centuries ago, and will likely be steaming in farmers' stands for centuries to come.

 

Getting Started

 

Variation allows tamales to fill a lot of holes in a dinner plan. They can be made smaller and used as hors d'oeuvres or appetizers, or larger for a main dish. Depending on the fillings, tamales can be served alone (as they often are in Mexico), or in combination with other dishes. By adding sweets, they can make great desserts as well.

 

It is best to start with the masa dough. The dough calls for three main ingredients: masa harina (a corn flour available in most supermarkets), a liquid (water or stock), and a fat (butter or shortening). Salt and baking powder are often included. The dough is ready when a piece of it floats in a bowl of water. If the piece sinks, it needs more mixing.

 

The cornhusks may be hard to find, but many larger supermarkets carry them. Short of that, the best place to find them is in Latin markets or online. They will often be dried, and need to be soaked in warm water before being used for wrapping.

 

Almost without exception, tamales are steamed. Line the bottom and top of the steamer with extra cornhusks, surrounding the tamales, to keep more steam in. A couple of inches of water should be brought to a light boil, and the tamales steamed above it. They should take 30 to 40 minutes. When done, the masa dough will pull away from the husk easily.

 

TANDOORI CHICKEN SKEWERS

 

This dish originates from the plains of the Punjab, at the foot of the Himalayas, where food is traditionally cooked in clay ovens known as tandoors hence the name.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 3-1/2 oz each

1 tbsp lemon juice

3 tbsp tandoori paste

3 tbsp low fat plain yogurt

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

1 small onion, cut into wedges and separated into layers

1 tsp oil, for brushing

salt

black pepper

cilantro sprigs, to garnish

rice pilaf, to serve

nan, to serve

 

1. Chop the chicken breasts into 1-in cubes, put in a bowl and add the lemon juice, tandoori paste, yogurt, garlic, cilantro and seasoning. Cover and let marinate in the fridge for 2 - 3 hours.

2. Preheat the broiler to high. Thread alternate pieces of chicken and onion onto four skewers.

3. Brush onions with a little oil, lay the skewers on a broiler rack and cook for 10 - 12 minutes, turning once.

4. Garnish the kebabs with cilantro and serve at once with rice pilaf and nan.

(Nan is a flat, leavened bread, made with white flour and baked in a tandoor.)

 

 

 

THE AROMAS WE CRAVE

A scent of cinnamon, the strong jab of pepper

By KRISTIN EDDY, CHICAGO TRIBUNE , Wednesday, June 20, 2001

 

ULAWESI, Indonesia -- Under the hard light of late morning, the Molucca Sea is stripped of subtler shades of blue, at least when viewed from a hilltop on this island's northern tip.

 

There is more color across the water, about 200 miles to the east, in the lush green of three islands now unfamiliar to most Westerners, but whose names once urgently beckoned explorers.

 

Ternate, Ambon and Banda: the Spice Islands. Their location in this distant sea couldn't seem any farther away if it was a fairy tale.

 

Dotted with groves of the nutmeg and clove trees that made them famous, the islands now are dangerous to visit, due to a violent religious conflict that has lasted for more than two years; 500 years ago, getting to these perfumed islands was even more challenging. But strangers did come, looking for spices that once grew exclusively in the Indonesian archipelago.

 

The adventurous had to rely on crude maps such as one in the Portuguese atlas from 1565, an ancient parchment so delicate it must be handled with gloved fingers in a museum today. Red lettering and gilt flourishes dot the page.

 

It looks like a treasure map. It was.

 

The spice trade was a lucrative and exotic adventure for early travelers. Now, our experience with spice is limited to jars that often are as dusty as their contents, and the journey leads only to the supermarket.

 

Yet at a time when serious cooks pay attention to the growing region of their tomatoes, the age of their balsamic vinegar and the exercise space given a chicken, understanding the origin of spices should be of interest as well.

 

Like produce, spices are fragile. Whether as nuts, bark, pods or plants, all of them start out fresh, bursting with volatile oils.

 

To better understand their nature, it helps to trace select spices to the source: nutmeg trees in Indonesia, pepper vines and cardamom plants in India and the rough cinnamon bark on trees in Vietnam. All play an integral role in the daily American diet. The United States is the world's largest importer of culinary spices. Most imported spices go to food processors who distribute the seasoning in ways the consumer doesn't always consider: breakfast sausage, salad dressings, even some beers ...

 

Demand for high-quality spices has fueled an upscale business. At specialty markets and through Internet sites, it is possible to pick up Turkish anise, Pakistani cumin, crystallized Australian ginger and velvety wands of Tahitian vanilla.

 

Today, restaurant-goers seek highly flavored foods. Exposure to international cuisine through travel or simply visiting ethnic restaurants is a main reason for a globalization in tastes.

 

But when it comes to appreciating spices, no modern consumption figures can match the obsession that once drove some of the most famous explorers in history to launch dangerous expeditions into unknown waters.

 

The seasonings we take for granted now were worth fighting battles over. Ancient Romans demanded pepper as tribute. In the Middle Ages spices were considered currency.

 

Spices traveled overland across Asia and the Middle East and in ships that skirted the coastlines of Malaysia, India and Saudi Arabia. It was worth the journey, vulnerable to pirate attack and wild seas, at a time when real power lay in powder -- the kind of powder ground from nutmeg, cloves and pepper.

 

Changing hands several times, spices were at a premium by the time they reached Europe. A pound of mace had the same value as three sheep. Pepper, the most valuable spice, was counted out peppercorn by peppercorn, with a value that at times equaled gold.

 

Nutmeg was considered a cure-all; clove oil relieved pain. Other spices were burned as fumigants, stirred into perfume and swallowed as aphrodisiacs.

 

Although the romance of the spice trade has been lost, spices are still part of our lives.

 

Breathe in the rich aroma of cinnamon from a frosted sweet roll. Grate a little nutmeg over eggnog. Savor curry warmed with ginger and coriander.

 

You'll realize, why people would travel so far for flavor.

 

Spicy USA

 

Our most popular spices, based on amounts consumed in 2000:

 

Mustard seed

 

Red pepper

 

Black pepper

 

Paprika

 

Cinnamon

 

Fresh Tips

 

When was it, exactly, you bought that jar of allspice or cloves? Most cooks use spices in such small amounts that the purchase lasts for years. And that's a bad idea. Spices come from plants, so they get their flavor from oils in the seeds or bark. These oils start to lose potency when picked and deteriorate further with time and exposure.

 

Purchase spices in small quantities that can be used quickly.

 

Always store spices in cool, dark places, away from the stove, the window or other light sources.

 

Keep containers tightly sealed to avoid exposure to air and humidity.

 

Purchase whole spices when possible and grind them only as you need them.

 

THE BEST WHITE BREAD

 

When white bread went out of fashion I didn't stop eating it, and I certainly didn't stop baking it. Otherwise, my kids would have had nothing to bring for school lunch. Yes, over-processed, air-filled, tasteless white bread is awful, but the homemade kind is still pretty swell.

You can either bake this loaf right in the machine or, if you wish to form it into a braid or free-form loaf, add Lora Brody's Bread Dough Relaxer along with the flour for better behaved dough and a large, softer loaf that stays fresh longer.

1 tablespoon active dry yeast (not rapid rise)

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon sugar or honey

3 tablespoons Lora Brody's bread dough relaxer (available at gourmet food

stores) for hand-formed, oven-baked dough or 3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk

2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil

1 cup warm water (110° to 115°F), or as needed

1 large egg mixed with 3 tablespoons milk

 

Place all the ingredients in the pan of a bread machine. Program your machine for the Dough setting (or equivalent) and remove the dough after the final cycle is complete. Check the dough after the first few minutes of kneading, adding additional water if necessary to make a smooth, supple, soft ball. At the end of the final cycle, remove the dough and place it on a very lightly floured or lightly oiled work surface.

Spray or grease a heavy-duty baking sheet. Roll the dough into an 18 X 6-inch rectangle. Use a pizza cutter, knife, or bench knife to cut the dough lengthwise into 3 long strips, leaving the pieces connected at one end. Braid the strips without stretching them and secure the end by pinching it and tucking it under the loaf. Place the braid on the prepared pan and brush with the egg glaze. Allow to rise, uncovered, in a warm, draft-free place until almost doubled in bulk.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°F with the rack in the center position.

Brush again with the egg glaze. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake until the top is deep golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center measures 190°F, another 20 minutes.

 

THE FLAX FACTS

 

By Kitty Broihier, MS, RD, ucook.com contributor

 

Bakers, both in commercial and home kitchens alike, are turning to flaxseed for its nutty flavor, crunchy texture and load of nutrients. With all the nutritional emphasis on eating whole grains, it's no wonder.

 

"Flax has been eaten for more than 2,000 years," said Nicole Kenyon, a spokesperson for the Flax Council of Canada, "but it fell out of favor when white bread became popular. Now there's renewed interest in flax among commercial bakers and home bakers, too."

 

Why use it?

 

Why would anyone want to use flax in home baking? Whole flaxseed has a nutty flavor and crunchy texture. Milled flax (ground flaxseed) is an amber-colored meal that lends a more complex, richer flavor to breads, rolls, muffins and cookies.

 

Nutritionally speaking, flax holds many benefits. It's a good source of potassium and vitamin E, is rich in fiber, and provides more omega-3 fatty acids than any other grain. Flax also contains phytochemicals (beneficial plant substances) called lignans which are thought to have certain health benefits.

 

How to use it

 

Manufacturers of baked goods are adding this grain to many baked goods, but home bakers can use it, too. People who bake at home, however, may be a little intimidated by baking with whole grains and whole grain flours - especially if all they've ever used is white flour.

 

The folks at the Flax Council of Canada have made it easy for home bakers to get into the whole grain act by providing instructions, tips and recipes for using flaxseed and milled flaxseed in home baked products.

 

Larger than sesame seeds, flaxseeds are flat and oval-shaped. Some of the commercial baked goods manufacturers like to use flaxseeds as a garnish on the tops of breads and rolls because of their shiny appearance and attractive reddish-brown color.

 

Flaxseed can also be added to the bread mixture, instead of just sprinkled on top. In this case, the seeds must be soaked in water for one to two hours for easier blending. Also, for optimal nutritional benefits from the seeds, the soaking water should also be used in the recipe, if possible. Flaxseeds also make an excellent addition to homemade granola.

Milled flax can be used to replace part of the flour in recipes. In general, the best results commercially have come when milled flax equals about 8 to 10 percent of the weight of the regular flour.

 

For home bakers, it's best to follow a specific recipe that uses flax initially, and then work on incorporating a little flax into other regular recipes. Because flax doesn't contain gluten, a protein in regular flour that gives structure to baked goods, it's important not to use too much flax in products such as yeast breads and rolls, which need gluten in order to rise properly. Milled flax is easily used in quick breads, muffins, cookies and bars, as these don't rely on gluten.

 

Whole flaxseed is remarkably resistant to oxidation, so it won't go rancid during storage at home. When kept sealed in a clean container and stored in a dry place, flaxseed should keep for at least six months - even up to a year. Milled flax, on the other hand, should be ground as needed for optimum freshness. This is easily done using a clean coffee grinder. You can purchase flaxseed at health food or bulk food stores, or even direct from a flax grower.

 

Flax recipes

 

To start using flax in home baking, try following a specific recipe that calls for flax initially and then work on incorporating a little flax into other regular recipes.

 

TORTILLA BLACK BEAN CASSEROLE

2 cups Onion -- chopped

1 1/2 cups Green Pepper -- chopped

14 1/2 ounces Tomatoes, canned -- chopped, not drained

3/4 cup Salsa

4 ounces Jalapenos -- chopped

4 cloves Garlic -- minced

1 teaspoon Ground Cumin

30 ounces Kidney Beans -- black/red, drained

12 6 inch Corn Tortillas

2 cups Monterey Jack Cheese -- shredded

2 medium Tomatoes -- sliced

2 cups Lettuce -- shredded

1/8 cup Green Onion -- sliced

1/8 cup Black Olives -- sliced

1/2 cup Sour Cream or Yogurt -- optional

In a large skilled, combine onion, green pepper, undrained tomatoes, salsa,

jalapenos, garlic and cumin. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir in beans.

In a 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish, spread 1/3 of the bean mixture over the bottom of the pan. Top with half of the tortillas, overlapping as necessary, and half of the cheese. Add another 1/3 of the bean mixture, then remaining tortillas and bean mixture. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and let stand 10 minutes.

Top with tomato slices, lettuce, green onion, and olives. Cut into squares

to serve. Serve with sour cream or yogurt.

Additional information: This recipe is also great with substitutions. Try flour tortillas for corn tortillas and add chopped vegetables, such as celery and carrots when sautéing onion.

 

SHALOM FROM SPIKE & JAMIE



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