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

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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).



























































































BY JAN NIX, Special to the Mercury News


One is soft and stretchy. When it's properly made, some Italians boast, you can hold the still-warm cheese, walk across the room and pull it in a continuous string.


The other is silky smooth, so creamy you can spread it in a gossamer film on a baguette or bagel.


The first, fresh mozzarella, is moist and resilient, unlike the rubbery ball that's grated to sprinkle on pizza. The other, fresh cream cheese, contains none of the preservatives (carob or locust bean gum) that manufacturers add to extend the shelf life of those blocks in silver-foil wrappers.


I wanted to make both at home. But I quickly discovered that I'd rather leave the mystery of mozzarella to the experts and focus on the ease of cream cheese.


I learned that only after Hyatt San Jose Executive Chef Bill Ruiz generously offered to take me through the mozzarella process. In the hands of a talented pro, it looked easy.


Ruiz starts with pasteurized whole milk that is not homogenized, the kind in which cream floats to the top. Originally, the milk of water buffalo was used to make fresh mozzarella, but most cheese sold today as mozzarella is made from cow's milk.


To the milk, Ruiz adds a small amount of lemon juice, refrigerating the mixture overnight to develop acidity. The following day he heats the milk to 140 degrees, blends in yogurt and lets the mixture stand until the milk coagulates into curds and releases the watery part of the milk, which is called whey. (Some chefs save the whey to make ricotta. But that's another story.)


Then he pours the curds into a colander lined with cheesecloth, lets them cool, ties the cheesecloth into a bag, suspends it over a pot and refrigerates it overnight. To complete the ripening process, Ruiz cuts the drained curds with a pastry blender and allows them to drain a second night.


The final step: working the curds. Ruiz scoops out a walnut-size portion, drops it into very hot salt brine and magically squeezes and stretches the curds until they form a mass that's similar to Silly Putty. He keeps a bowl of ice water nearby to cool his hands.


Finally, the cheese is ready to eat. But Ruiz goes one step further. He stuffs the warm, tender cheese inside a hollowed-out Roma tomato, which will later be sliced, drizzled with house-made basil oil and garnished with garlic caramelized in balsamic vinegar. It's a knockout combination offered at the Hyatt San Jose menu this month and next as insalata di mozzarella fresca e pomodori.


There are recipes for mozzarella, but now I know why cheese makers say the process can be tricky. You need to develop the right amount of acidity in the curds: too little and the curds won't stretch. Too much and they become a hopeless mess. (Because monitoring the pH of the cheese is so difficult, most home chefs purchase mozzarella curds from specialty producers or cheese-making kits. For resources, see list at left.)


I tried twice, and while I made cheese that was delicious crumbled in lasagne, it definitely lacked mozzarella's stretchy texture.


Ruiz said it took him repeated tries to hone his skills for restaurant presentation. A representative of the Mozzarella Company, a Dallas-based nationwide supplier of fresh mozzarella, described the process as part science, part craft and a little luck. Even there, sometimes a batch fails.


I'm just as happy to buy fresh mozzarella and pair it with summer tomatoes. For an effortless salad, alternate slices of mozzarella and red or yellow tomatoes on a plate, drizzle with olive oil, add a splash of balsamic vinegar and shower with julienned fresh basil.


While making mozzarella is time-consuming and chancy, making fresh cream cheese is a snap.


If you have children at home this summer, this is a great project to share with young cooks. The technique doesn't call for any fancy kitchen tools, and because the cheese is un-ripened, it's ready to eat soon after it's made.


Cream cheese's bland buttery flavor is delicious by itself, but you can personalize it by adding your favorite seasoning -- basil, dill, caraway seeds, capers, chives, paprika, shallots, minced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes or diced green chilies. For a new twist on garlic bread, try making garlic cheese.



The making -- and remaking -- of American food

BY LYDIA ITOI, Special to the Mercury News

On the Fourth of July, in this country at least, the menu is supposed to be all-American. But what is American? I've been asking that question all my life.


I remember when my little brother, then only about 4, came home crying. ``Mama,'' he sobbed, ``some kids called me Chinese!''


``You're Japanese,'' my mom informed him.


``No, I'm not Japanese,'' he wailed. ``I'm American!''


My brother knew from the start that he was American-born and raised, but barely anybody in our deeply Southern town ever treated him that way. At school, we were the only Asians around, and by definition we were foreign.


My younger sister Anna and I were born in Japan. As a high school student in occupied Japan, Dad had taught himself English by watching Hollywood movies from the '30s, but it took our harried mother many years of immigrant living to get the hang of basic English. Fortunately, young children tend to soak up languages like sponges. In no time, Anna and I were chattering away. Not that it mattered -- every day, we were reminded that we were not really American.


Besides the black hair and a last name impossible for Southern tongues to pronounce, the most alien thing about us was our food. During our first years in elementary school, my mother diligently packed Japanese-style o-bento for us: imaginatively molded rice, pickles, tonkatsu (fried pork cutlets), gyoza (pot-stickers) and salt-grilled fish. Our classmates stared, especially the bags of meticulously peeled grapes. They said the pale, naked grapes looked like lizard eyeballs. Didn't we know we could eat the skin?


Sometimes, it was useful to be armed with weird food. Once, a boy at recess tried to scare me by threatening to eat a drowned worm in front of me. I told him I ate raw fish. He wrinkled his nose, apparently losing his appetite for worm.


Eventually, my mother discovered peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, hamburger and tuna casserole. Our gastronomic naturalization was complete.


Meals reflected my mom's personal fusion of diverse new culinary influences: Italian, classic Southern low country, Betty Crocker. She served everything with rice and miso soup. If you are what you eat, then we definitely had become Japanese-Americans.


By the same token, many people today have become American-Japanese. Miso and wasabi have become so mainstream that Southern supermarkets sometimes carry them, and tofu has morphed into items ranging from burgers to ice cream. Some Bay Area schools offer sushi in the cafeteria, and edamame has become a trendy snack.


After living here practically all my life, I became an official U.S. citizen a few years ago. I spent a hot and humid July 3 in the San Jose INS office for my interview and citizenship test. The next day, I went to my brother's Fourth of July party. For fun, I made a pop quiz out of some of the questions I had been asked at my exam: Who was our nation's first president? What were the 13 original colonies? In what year was the Constitution written, and how many amendments does it have? Afterward, most people at the party were relieved that they were born here and didn't need to pass a test to qualify as an American.


Fortunately, the Immigration and Naturalization Service sticks to a strict social studies definition of ``American'' when making up test questions. It would be far more complicated to answer questions like, What makes a person an American? Should we cling to the melting pot ideal, or is a multicultural tossed salad a better social model?


And the thorniest question of all on Independence Day: What is American food? The answer is American food is whatever Americans eat, preferably hot off the grill and washed down with a cool libation. At my house this year, it is ginger burgers, yucca fries and summer cherry pudding in honor of our first president.




For the salsa

1 mango, peeled, pit removed and cut into dice

finely grated rind of 1 lime

juice of 1 lime

1/2 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped


finely grated rind of 1 lemon

1 tsp black peppercorns

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander


4 X 6 oz fresh tuna steaks

1/2 cup olive oil


To make mango salsa, mix the mango, lime juice, rind and chili in a bowl and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour.

Mix together the lemon rind, black peppercorns, onion and coriander in a coffee grinder to make a coarse paste.


Spoon onto one side of each tuna steak pressing on well.


Heat the olive oil in a heavy based frying pan until it begins to smoke. Add the tuna, paste-side down, and fry until a crust forms. Lower the heat and turn the steaks to cook for a minute more. Pat off any excess oil onto absorbent paper towels and serve with the mango salsa. Yield serves 4






By Greg Patent, ucook.com contributor


They're golden brown and crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and hot and slightly salty at first bite. Some people think of them as bad for you. I, for one, don't believe that any food is bad.


Of course, I'm talking about French fries. And, of course, they're not an everyday indulgence. But when you make them yourself, which is about the only way there is to have a perfect fry, they're something very special.


French fries, according to many food historians, most likely began their culinary trek back in the 17th Century in what is now Belgium. As Connie McCabe reported in Saveur, poor peasants in the Maas Valley depended on small freshwater fish from the Meuse River, which they cooked in hot grease.


One especially cold winter, when the river had frozen over and made fishing impossible, some of the locals carved potatoes into the shapes of these fish and fried them instead. Et voila! the Belgian fry was born.


It wasn't until the French got hold of the idea that the French fry we know today came into existence. The French fiddled with cutting the potato into all sorts of shapes from the sticks we call "fries" to shoestring, or matchstick potatoes, waffle potatoes, thick and stumpy log-like potatoes, and potatoes that would puff up into packets of thin crispiness enclosing nothing but hot air - the souffléed potato.


Each kind was meant to be served with a particular food. Even with all these culinary tinkerings, many food experts claim that the best French fries today are made in Belgium.


But you don't have to go all that distance to have a perfect fry. All you need is the right kind of potato, the right oil, and you're ready to begin.


High starch potatoes - Idaho russets, or simply Idahos or Russet Burbanks - make the best French fries. They're crisp, won't turn limp, and don't absorb much oil. Allow about 1 pound of raw potatoes per person. Peel the potatoes and cut them into sticks about 4 inches long and 1/4-inch wide.


Put the potatoes into a large bowl of cold water as you go along to prevent them from turning brown. If you want crispier potatoes, the Idaho Potato Commission recommends refrigerating them in the water for a couple of hours.


Peanut oil is my favorite for frying. It gives foods a welcome mildly nutty taste, and it has a fairly high smoke point. Always, but always, use fresh oil for frying, not only for taste but for health and safety. A used oil, when reheated, may burst into flame at a temperature far below the frying temperature you're aiming for.


So, put about 3 inches (2-1/2 to 3 quarts) of clean, fresh oil into a large, deep, heavy pot, and start heating the oil to 330° F (165°C) over medium-high heat. Attach a deep fry thermometer to the side of the pan to monitor the temperature.


Meanwhile, drain the potatoes and pat them thoroughly dry on paper towels. If the potatoes aren't dry, the surface starch won't be able to seal the potatoes when they're plunged into the hot oil, and they'll begin to soak up grease.


Two fryings are necessary to make the best French fries. The first cooks the potatoes and the second crisps them. Properly cooked French fries are not at all greasy. When the oil is ready, drop a handful of potatoes into the pot and stir them around. Cook for only 2 to 3 minutes until the potatoes are soft, cooked through, but not browned.


At this point they don't look too promising. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Cool them completely. The potatoes can be prepared hours ahead to this point and refrigerated.


For the final frying, heat the oil to 375°F (190°C), and drop in a handful of the cooled potatoes. They'll sizzle and hiss as water rushes out of them. The starch granules inside will swell and puff and give the fries their characteristic fluffy texture.


Swish the potatoes about in the oil and in 1 to 2 minutes they'll be browned and crisp. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt, put them on a plate, and start eating them immediately.


These are so good (how could they possible be bad?) they deserve to be eaten all by themselves. What more could you want?



Last call for Fourth beverages, AKRON (OHIO) BEACON JOURNAL

(Published: Wednesday, July 04, 2001)


Aaak! You forgot to make a potluck dish for the holiday picnic today.


No sweat. Literally. We're going to show you how to solve that problem and cool off at the same time.


With just a few ingredients and about 5 minutes of your time, you can take an icy jug of a homemade drink to the picnic. The fancy ones will be as welcome as a bowl of potato salad or a basket of brownies, but a lot less work.


If time is so short that you can't spare a few minutes for a trip to the store, scour your pantry and refrigerator for tea bags, a cinnamon stick and orange juice. With these staples, you can make a sophisticated cinnamon-orange iced tea cooler.


Use 2 percent, not skim milk, in the iced mocha. The milk fat is needed to produce a creamy texture.


If your picnic is on the patio instead of in a park, haul out your blender and serve the mocha over crushed ice. It will taste exactly like the coffee-shop versions.


Garnishes will make the drinks look even fancier. Set out bowls of orange and lemon circles, maraschino cherries and mint sprigs for a bang-up presentation.




1 (6-ounce) can frozen lemonade

1 cup pineapple juice

1/4 cup packed mint leaves


Prepare lemonade according to the directions on the can. Stir in pineapple juice. Crush mint leaves with your hands and add to the lemonade. Chill.




2 quarts water

6 tea bags

1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

4 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate

Sugar or sugar substitute to taste


Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat and add tea bags and cinnamon stick. Cover and let steep for 5 minutes.


Remove and discard tea bags and cinnamon stick. Stir in orange juice concentrate. Sweeten to taste. Chill.




4 1/2 cups strong brewed coffee

3/4 cup chocolate syrup

2 1/2 cups 2 percent milk

Frozen nondairy whipped topping, thawed


Cool coffee to room temperature. Stir in syrup and milk, mixing well with a spoon or whisk. Chill. Serve over ice with a dollop of whipped topping.




1 (46-ounce) can pineapple juice

1 (32-ounce) bottle grape juice

1 (6-ounce) can frozen orange juice, prepared according to directions on can

1 (6-ounce) can frozen lemonade, prepared according to directions on can

1 quart ginger ale


Combine all ingredients in a jug, mixing well. Chill.




1 ripe avocado, diced

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Dash of salt

4 burrito-size flour tortillas, warmed (or wrapper of choice)

8 slices cooked bacon

4 large leaves red lettuce

2 large tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 ripe avocado, sliced

1 ripe mango, sliced


Combine avocado, sour cream, lime juice, pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce and salt. Blend with a fork until smooth.


Spread each tortilla with 3 tablespoons of the avocado spread.


Place 2 bacon slices down center of each tortilla, overlapping slightly. Top with lettuce, then tomato, avocado and mango. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Fold bottom end of tortilla partially over filling, then roll into a bundle and serve.


Variation: Replace the avocado spread with a mango spread. In blender or food processor, combine 1 cup diced ripe mango, 1/2 cup cream cheese, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon honey, a dash of ground cumin and a dash of ground coriander.


Blend until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste, adding salt and more lemon or lime juice as needed.



1 cup All-Bran

1/2 cup oatmeal (quick or regular)

3/4 cup milk

1 egg

1/4 cup oil

1 cup sifted flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup mashed banana(about 2 large)

1 cup blueberries, fresh or partly thawed frozen

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Put All-Bran, 1/2 cup oatmeal and milk in bowl and let soak for about 5 minutes. Add all other ingredients and stir only until combined. Fill 12 greased or use cup cake liners. These will appear to stick when the muffin is hot but will relax after they have cooled. Bake in 400 degree oven about 25 minutes, until lightly browned.




1 1/2 teaspoons (or part of 1 packet) active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup boiling water

1 egg

1 cup evaporated milk

3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cups flour (divided)

Egg wash

1 1/4 cups blueberry jam

Lemon ice cream


Soften yeast in small container by combining warm water and yeast.


Allow yeast to proof (foam up). Stir together butter, sugar, salt and boiling water to dissolve butter and sugar. If butter does not dissolve completely, don't worry. Allow butter mixture to cool down to warm.


In this order, stir in egg, softened yeast mixture, evaporated milk and 2 cups of the flour. Beat well.


Prepare soft dough by gradually adding remaining 11/2 to 13/4 cups flour.


Toss dough on floured surface until no longer sticky. Knead very lightly. Try not to incorporate additional flour, so the dough stays soft. Place in greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover with waxed paper, then a china plate. Refrigerate dough 8 to 12 hours.


Divide dough in half -- it's easier to work with one half at a time.


Roll chilled dough on lightly floured surface to slightly less than 1/4-inch thickness. Beignets will puff quite a bit when cooking, so don't roll any thicker.


Cut into 21/2-inch squares, moisten edges with egg wash and spoon about 2 teaspoons blueberry jam into center of each square, folding edge over to form a rectangle, and sealing edge. Lay squares on waxed paper and cover with towel to prevent drying out. Let rest 10 minutes.


In deep-fryer, heat oil to 375 degrees.


Fry dough in hot oil until puffy and brown. Turn beignets several times. If you wait too long to turn them the first time, they will become lopsided, making it impossible to cook the second side.


Drain on paper towels. Serve with raspberry coulis, a dollop of lemon ice cream, fresh berries and sprig of mint. Makes about 30 beignets.




2 cups hot, cooked rice

2 tablespoons chopped onion

2 tablespoons chopped Anaheim peppers

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

12 ounces peeled medium shrimp

1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed

1/3 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups halved seedless grapes

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1/3 teaspoon bottled hot pepper seasoning

1/2 cup mango chutney

Salt, to taste

4 flour tortillas (10-inch diameter), warmed


Sauté onion, peppers and garlic in oil until the onion is tender.


Add shrimp, lime peel, thyme, pepper and cinnamon; sauté until shrimp is barely cooked. Add grapes, lime juice and hot pepper seasoning; mix well and remove from heat.


Mix rice and chutney; season to taste with salt.


Spread warm tortillas on a clean, dry surface. Portion one-fourth of the shrimp mixture and 1/2 cup of the rice mixture on half of each tortilla. Fold in sides and roll into a square bundle.




1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter

4 tablespoons hot pepper sauce


Trim any fat from meat. Cut into 1-inch cubes. Place in a large, zipper-lock plastic bag.


Melt butter. Stir in hot sauce. Cool to room temperature. Pour half of sauce over chicken chunks. Seal bag and mix well. Refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight.


Bring meat to room temperature. Thread on 4 to 8 skewers. If your skewers are wood, soak in water at least 30 minutes before using them.


Grill over medium-hot coals for about 10 minutes, turning once, until cooked through. Place skewers on a platter or in an oblong baking pan. Pour remaining sauce over skewers and turn to coat well.



2 lbs ground meat

1 large onion, chopped

2 clove garlic, minced

4 large white potatoes, peeled, boiled, and sliced

1/2 lb shredded cheddar cheese

2 cans beef broth

parsley (optional)

Brown the ground meat with onions and garlic until meat is done and onions

are clear. Layer ground meat, potato slices and cheese in a 13 x 9

casserole, ending with a final layer of cheese. Pour beef broth over layers

(both cans may not fit, leave a little "bubbling" room). Sprinkle parsley on top and bake at 350 until broth bubbles and cheese melts.

Serve with lettuce wedges topped with homemade thousand island dressing, and crusty French bread.




Cherries outnumber luscious ideas for using them



As a kid, my biggest achievement with cherries was popping them in my mouth without swallowing the pits (because if I did, of course, a tree would grow in my stomach).


I would eat so many cherries I would soon have a bellyache, making me worry that I a seed was taking root.


So much for urban myths.


Today, cherries have taken root in my kitchen -- I run out of cherries before I run out of ideas. I am seeing more and more of the Rainier and Royal Ann cherries, which are light yellow with a splash of red.


These cherries are sweet cherries and like Bings -- my favorite -- can brighten just about any dessert or savory dish. There are also sour cherries, which are best reserved for preserves. Either can work in pies.


The Latin name, Prunus avium, means "for the birds." It is one of the oldest cultivated fruits. All cherries are stonefruit, meaning (like peaches and plums) there is pit in the center.


At my restaurant in Lafayette, I use Bings for a popular dessert called bomboloni -- a small and rustic flaky pastry, served with a dollop of fresh cream. Another dish that appears in summer is creamy risotto with an addictively sweet-and-sour topping of Bing cherries roasted in balsamic vinegar.


The biggest challenge of the cherry for me is no longer the pit, but deciding on whether to go sweet or savory. So, I often do both. An easy dessert is cherry cobbler or clafoutis (a baked cherry custard), and the savory dish I crave most is scallopini of pork loin with cherry sauce. This is such a comforting plate and so simple to make, I find myself making it again and again.


For two people, I start with four fillets of boneless pork loin, about three-quarters of a pound in all. I pound the fillets out with the flat side of a mallet until they are about a quarter-inch thick, transfer them to the refrigerator, and attack my cherry sauce.


I pit a large handful of cherries, making sure to remove all of the pits. Then, over medium-high heat, I coat a medium sauté pan with olive oil. Once hot, I add my cherries and lower the heat to medium. I roll the cherries in the pan for a couple minutes, until they begin to brown lightly and plump up, then I pour in a glass of port (or grape juice) and let it reduce until it's almost dry.


Next, I add about a cup of dark stock, preferably roasted chicken (If you haven't got your own stock, try buying some fresh at specialty food stores.) Reduce the stock by half or until it coats the back of a spoon. I then season the sauce with kosher salt and a small amount of cracked black pepper. I never season a sauce until it's reduced the way I like it, because as a sauce thickens, its flavors concentrate. (What might taste fine in the beginning could be a salty mess by the end.)


For the pork, I heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add a thin layer of olive oil. I dust the pork scallopini with flour mixed with salt and pepper, shake off the excess and place it in the hot oil. (You can cook it in two batches if your pan isn't big enough).


The pork is thin and needs only a minute or so on each side to cook.


Once I pull the pork from the oil, I put it on paper towels to drain any excess oil and sprinkle on a little kosher salt to give it a flavor boost.


I then reheat the cherry sauce and finish it with a cube of cold butter. (Cold butter helps bind and give a sheen to the sauce).


To serve the pork, I place a mound of mashed potatoes (roasted potatoes are scrumptious, too) on a warm plate, overlap the pieces of pork on top, and spoon the shimmering cherry sauce over that. This is fine eats for sure.


As my uncle Giorgo liked to say, "Life is like a bowl of cherries -- sometimes there are pits, sometimes it can be sour, but for the most part, it's sweet and delicious." So live life, and pass the bowl!


Cat Cora is executive chef at Postino in Lafayette. Reach her at catwurx@aol.com.



Serves 4

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 ounces pancetta

1 chicken, cut into serving pieces, or 4 chicken legs, cut in two (or 8 thighs)

Salt and pepper

8 whole garlic cloves, peeled

3/4 cup white wine or water

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Minced parsley, optional.


Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put oil in a large skillet, preferably non-stick; turn heat to medium-high. A minute later, add pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, about a minute. Add chicken, skin side down, and turn heat to medium. Season with salt and pepper; scatter garlic in pan.


Cook chicken, rotating pieces to brown evenly. After 10-15 minutes, when skin side is brown, turn. Season again. Cook until nicely browned all over and nearly done. Remove to a plate and put in oven.


Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from pan. Add wine or water, raise heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally and scraping bottom of pan to loosen browned bits. When sauce is thick and glossy, barely covering bottom of pan, turn off heat and stir in vinegar. Spoon sauce, pancetta and garlic over chicken. Garnish with parsley and serve.




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


I don't heat up the oven all that often during the summer, but I do like to cook and feel the need once in a while to make a traditional family-pleasing meal that everyone will enjoy. Fried chicken fits the bill and is a dish that pleases kids and grown-ups alike.


But, I want a low-fat alternative to oil-fried chicken, and set out to find an oven-fried version that would be satisfying and taste great.


My little taste test


I wanted to compare methods and the ingredients used to prepare oven-fried chicken. Most oven-fried chicken recipes call for dipping skinned chicken in some sort of liquid, then rolling it in a coating before baking. Most often, the liquid called for in recipes was skim milk, evaporated milk, buttermilk, or yogurt. The common coatings are Corn Flake crumbs, Saltine cracker crumbs, Ritz cracker crumbs, or a combination of one part unseasoned dried breadcrumbs and one part all-purpose flour. I decided to try them all.


I seasoned all the coatings alike, with garlic powder, salt, and paprika. All chicken was cooked at 400°F (205°C) for 45 minutes, without turning the chicken. Armed with plenty of chicken legs, a hungry husband and two-year-old, I was ready to get to work!


A winning combination


A combination of evaporated skim milk and crushed Saltine crackers yielded results closest to regular fried chicken. Using skim milk is an acceptable substitute for the evaporated milk but may not be as flavorful - my husband, however, didn't detect a difference between the two milks - so maybe not everyone would notice.


The runner-up was a combination of evaporated skim milk and Corn Flake crumbs. The Corn Flakes give a distinct texture (with little flavor) that is good but not at all like oil-fried chicken. This version stayed very crispy, however. It would probably be a good choice if the chicken were going to be served cold or later on, perhaps at a picnic. (One note on the Corn Flake crumbs: the packaged pre-crushed crumbs stayed crispier than the home-crushed crumbs, and their shape and size was more uniform and therefore more appealing.)





The liquid ingredient test


Liquid is definitely essential. Without it, the crumbs didn't stick well at all and there were lots of bald spots on the chicken.


The goal here was to determine which type of liquid was most effective at holding the coating and tasted best. In order to eliminate confusing variables, I used the same coating (Corn Flake crumbs) for each type of liquid. Here is what I found:


Using evaporated skim milk (my favorite), the crumbs stuck very well. The milk contributed a pleasant flavor and no soggy spots.


Using skim milk, the crumbs stuck well. There was no real flavor contribution from milk. There were no soggy spots on the underside of the chicken leg where it touched the baking tray.


Using buttermilk, the crumbs stuck very well. It seemed to dampen the flavors in the coating, though. There was one small soggy spot on the underside of the chicken.


With plain yogurt, the crumbs stuck very well, but the yogurt didn't contribute any detectable flavor. Nearly the entire underside of the leg was soggy.


The coating test


Next, came the coating. I seasoned each coating ingredient the same and checked each one for crispness, appearance, and flavor.


Corn Flake crumbs were very crisp with little apparent browning. My husband thought it tasted a little like eating cereal, but I didn't notice it. My two-year-old found it a little too crisp and "pokey."


A coating made with Saltine crumbs was very crisp and browned nicely. This looks like good, old-fashioned oil-fried chicken. The flavor was great and not too salty. There was some sogginess on the underside of the chicken leg, but it didn't detract from the overall dish.


Ritz crumbs made a coating that wasn't very crisp, but the color was good and resembled real fried chicken. The flavor was flat, despite the fat contributed by the crackers. And there was a little sogginess.


A coating mixture of dry breadcrumbs and flour wasn't very crisp. Some spots remained "floury" looking and didn't brown at all. In fact, this version was the most unattractive of the bunch. The texture was slightly soggy. The flavor was good. Turning the chicken halfway through baking increases the crispness and cuts down on soggy spots. I personally liked the ease of not having to think about the chicken until it was done, however, and didn't mind the soggy spots enough to bother.





2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 (8-inch) flour tortillas

Butter-flavored vegetable oil spray

3/4 cup Mexican chocolate sauce (see recipe below)

1 pint coffee ice cream

2 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted Orange zest (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


In small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon.


Coat tortillas with vegetable oil spray. Sprinkle each tortilla with about 1 teaspoon sugar-cinnamon mixture. Cut each tortilla into 6 wedges. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven 7 to 10 minutes, or until crisp and edges are lightly golden brown. Cool.


Meanwhile, prepare Mexican Chocolate Sauce.


To serve, spoon about 3 tablespoons chocolate sauce onto each of 4 individual dessert plates or shallow bowls. Place scoop of ice cream onto each plate. Garnish with tortilla crisps, chopped pecans, and orange zest, if desired. Makes 4 servings.


Mexican chocolate sauce:


1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1 cup chocolate syrup


In small saucepan, combine cocoa, cornstarch and cinnamon. Stir in orange juice and orange peel. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat 4 to 6 minutes or until bubbly and thickened. Stir in chocolate syrup; mix well. Cool.


Makes 8 servings (1 1/2 cups).






We have been making these crab cakes since we came across the recipe in the May 1990 issue of Sunset magazine. It is so popular at home that we often double the recipe to feed one husband and two teen-age sons.


I always have canned crab in the pantry, and this recipe takes little time to prepare. The recipe is ideal because I can make a platter of them and keep them in the oven on warm if everyone is not home at dinnertime.


These crab cakes go together so quickly that I don't need to make them in advance, but they can easily be prepared ahead. And the flavor of the crab meat is not masked by any of the other ingredients.


The recipe also is easily adapted, made with salmon in place of crab, and red bell pepper and onions in place of the green pepper. In a pinch, make the cakes with tuna. Served with rice and a salad, it's an ideal summer meal.


When frying the cakes, thoroughly heat the oil so they quickly sear and absorb less oil. Canned crab meat is available in a few varieties; we found using the fancy lump crab meat works the best. It's about $3.59 for a 4.5-ounce (drained weight) can.


Cook's note: If desired, substitute canned salmon and omit the cayenne pepper but mix in 1 teaspoon curry. Serve the salmon cakes with Major Grey chutney and lemon wedges.




3-1/2 pound chicken cut into 8 pieces or 8 chicken legs and thighs

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon liquid hot pepper sauce

Vegetable oil spray

1-1/2 cups Corn Flake crumbs

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Lemon wedges


Pat the chicken to an even thickness using the palms of your hands. Combine the buttermilk, Worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce in a shallow bowl. Add the chicken, turning to coat. Let the chicken soak in the sauce for 10 minutes.


Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with vegetable oil spray. In a shallow dish, combine the crumbs, salt, garlic, paprika and cayenne pepper. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and dip it into the mixture to coat completely. Place the chicken on the prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 1 inch between each piece. Drizzle with the oil.


Bake the chicken until the coating is golden brown and crusty and the chicken is white throughout, about 40 minutes. Makes 4 servings.




Burdock Root:

Called 'gobo' in Japanese, this is a long, slender root veggie with a fine earthy flavor. Gobo should be scrubbed, but not necessary to peel. It is usually cut in thin strips. It is a bit tough, and needs about twice as much cooking time as carrots. It can be parboiled for ten minutes before being added to mixed veggie dishes.



One burdock root per person

1/2 large carrot per person

toasted sesame seeds

corn and sesame oil

soy sauce


Wash the veggies then cut in long, thin pieces. Toast the sesame seeds. Put about 1/8 inch of oil into a fry pan and heat until almost smoking. Cook the burdock for 5 minutes, then add carrot, and continue cooking for another 4 to 5 minutes, until veggies begin to get tender. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Heat a wok or another fry pan and stir fry the veggies, adding the soy and sesame seeds.


Celery Root:

This is also called 'celeriac,' and comes from a slightly different variety of celery than the one into which we put peanut butter or cream cheese for a snack. Due

to its irregular surface, it is hard to wash. Use a brush. Peel it or not. (The celery root, not the brush.) Slice it to sauté or cut in chunks to steam or boil. Cook it like carrots or turnips. Cooked and cut into matchsticks, it can be used

as a salad ingredient.


Jerusalem Artichoke:

Wash and cook like potatoes - fried, boiled, steamed, baked, deep-fried. Mix

with other veggies, use raw in salads, substitute for water chestnuts in oriental

cookery. These are weird-looking, but really very good. I first expected them to

taste like regular artichokes. Mistake. They have their own flavor.



This root veggie is imported from Mexico. It can be cooked like potatoes or used raw in salads or just eating out of hand, maybe dipped in a little lime juice. Our

Mexican friends introduced them to me. Esmeralda brought a plastic bag with

jicama ("HICK'-a-maa") cut like French fries. I asked her what it is, and she made me taste it. I do not like to taste things, but I also do not like to reject people, so I tried it. I thought it tasted like some kind of radish, at first, only not as strongly flavored. At that point, she whipped out a whole jicama root so I could see what it looks like. It is shaped like a large onion. Easy to wash and

to peel. I think the peelings would not be good to eat. Thanks, Esme!



I didn't think they would qualify as "unusual" but here they are. (This article that I am paraphrasing and embellishing is from Tassajara Cooking, published by the

Zen Center in 1978.)



Back to parsnips, they are also a root veggie. When they are raw, they smell

rather like carrots. They are not good to eat while in a raw state, but can be cooked like carrots.


Parsnips, Turnips, & Mushrooms









Cut parsnips into ovals. Cut turnips in quarters lengthwise, then in thick slices crosswise. Slice the mushrooms. Put 1/4 cup water and juice of 1/2 lemon in one pot on low heat, ready to receive the veggies as they are sautéed. Saute`

the turnips for three minutes and remove to the waiting pot. Saute the parsnips for three minutes and add to the turnips. Put a lid on this pot so they can steam. Brown the mushrooms and add to the veggie pot as soon as the veggies are tender. Probably some butter would round out the flavor.









I know you have been waiting with bated breath for the rest of this information. Here it is:


Brussels Sprouts

These sprouts are not the result of seeds on a paper towel with a sprinkle of

water. They are often referred to as "little cabbages," which suggests their flavor and method of cooking. Remove any yellow or wilted leaves and trim the core at the bottom of each one. Cook them whole or cut into halves or quarters (length-

wise) to be steamed or sautéed. Do not over-cook as they get really nasty...


Brussels Sprouts With Cheese

Brussels Sprouts

orange juice

oil or butter

salt and pepper

grated cheese


Cut the sprouts in halves or quarters lengthwise and sauté them in oil or butter

for 3 to 4 minutes. Add enough orange juice to cover the bottom of the pan and then add a few tablespoons more. Stir in the sprouts, cover, and simmer for 2 or 3 more minutes or until tender. Season and sprinkle with grated cheese.


Green Tomatoes

They can be very acidic, and you can cut and salt them like eggplant, then cook thoroughly. They can be fried (with or without batter) or broiled. They are good

also in relishes.


Sea Veggies

They are becoming more available in supermarkets in the US, although they are most widely used in the Orient. The most common varieties are dulse, hijiki (or

hiziki), wakame, kombu, and nori.



This lovely veggie comes in thin sheets. They only need to be toasted, singly, by waving them 5 or 6 inches above a medium hot burner until they start to wrinkle.

Then crumble them to use as a garnish on grains or soups. The are also used to

wrap rice balls and sushi. (Cook some rice, add finely diced raw carrots, onions,

celery, small, cooked salad shrimp or flaked imitation crab - which is actually Pollock or hagfish - or real crab flakes. This dicing should be REALLY fine, like tiny. Spoon a mound along one side edge of the nori, and roll it up so that the roll is about 1 1/2 or 2 inches in diameter. Cut the rolls into pieces about 1 1/2

inches long. Put them in the fridge for awhile. When serving them, provide dipping bowls with soy sauce. The rolls are eaten out of hand, dipping gently

before each bite. [Spike's recipe.] )


Wakame and Dulse

These need to be rinsed once before soaking, then soaked for 15 to 30 minutes until they swell. Strain and save the soaking liquid (it is loaded with ocean flavor and nutrition, including trace minerals). Wakame has a tough string attached along its length. Even when raw, this string should be soft enough to chew after soaking. If not, pull it off by hand. Lay out strips of soaked wakame or dulse and

section it into one-inch pieces.



This veggie tends to be gritty, so when rinsing it, pick it off the top of the rinsing water carefully so that grit stays at the bottom of the bowl. [That is one thing

Spike hates about fresh spinach - it always seems to have sand in it, and one gets these visions of ground glass in one's food. That is why I do the cooking!]

Anyway, soak the hijiki same as wakame or dulse (after rinsing off the grit), and

then rinse again. Hijiki comes in small slender pieces and need not be sectioned before using.



This comes in thick sheets, which make an excellent soup stock. No rinsing or soaking is necessary. a 3 x 3 piece of kombu will flavor about a quart of stock.

After cooking for stick it can be cut into strips for addition to the soup.


All of the above sea veggies can be used in veggie, bean, and grain dishes, as well as soups. Cooked hijiki is also good in salads.


Sea Veggies With Earth Veggies

seaweed (any of the preceding, prepared as indicated (about 2 oz for 4 people)

onion, diced

carrot, diced

seaweed soaking water (no grit, unless you are a John Wayne fan - True Grit)

soy sauce


ginger, freshly grated



Wash the seaweed and start it soaking while dicing the onion and carrot. Finish preparing the seaweed for cooking. Saute the onion for a minute, then continue sautéing with the carrot for a couple minutes. Add seaweed and sauté for ten minutes. Add a cup of the soaking water, cover, and simmer for 15 t0 20 minutes. Season with soy sauce, salt, and the freshly grated ginger. Keep the season mild if you want to enjoy the ocean flavor. Cook a few more minutes.


[[Spike would serve this as a side dish with any type of filleted fish, preferably baked - flour, egg white beaten stiff, then crumbs or corn flake crumbs, lemon

pepper, parsley flakes, lemon juice, and melted butter drizzled over, baked at 320 deg. F. for maybe 10 or 15 minutes - and served with tartar sauce.]]


These seaweed items were paraphrased from the Tassajara Cooking book published in 1973 by the Zen Center.


[[Speaking of John Wayne, I observed, during a hospital stay, that they provide

the patients with John Wayne bathroom tissue. It did have True Grit, and it must have been cost-effective, since nobody would use too much!]]




3 cups chicken broth

2 tsp cornstarch

2 tbsp cold water

1 scallion, including some green, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1 egg, well beaten

freshly ground pepper (preferably white) to taste


Bring the broth to a boil. Blend the cornstarch and water, and add to the broth slowly, stirring. When thickened, add the scallion. Stirring the soup rapidly, gradually add the beaten egg. Remove from the heat immediately and season with pepper.


[[This looks fairly simple. When people speak of egg drop soup, they inject this air of mystery, probably in an attempt to enhance their images with us lesser beings. If you don't use this recipe, the least you can do is publicize the fact that you know how to make it and it is easy. Spike will make it once, to see if we like

it. If "the guy" likes something, I tend to make it frequently for awhile, sometimes receiving a complaint about "too much fun" or worse. I'll inform you later.]]




3 eggplants (aubergine)

4 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp chopped parsley

1 - 2 cloves garlic, crushed

juice of 1 lemon or lime

salt and black pepper


The best way of preparing this puree is to grill the eggplants over charcoal, which gives them a distinctive flavor. However, it will probably be more convenient to grill them under a broiler or place them over a gas flame; either way is very successful. Sear them until the skins are black and start to blister, and the flesh soft and juicy. Rub the skins off under the cold tap, taking care to remove any

charred particles. Gently squeeze out as much of the juice as possible, since it is very bitter.


Put the eggplants in a bowl and mash them with a fork, or pound them to a smooth paste in a mortar. An electric blender will give excellent results. Add the oil gradually, beating all the time. Add the remaining ingredients, mixing to blend into the puree. Taste and add more lemon juice, garlic, or seasoning to taste.

Serve as an appetizer or salad.


[[Spike found this recipe in a 1968 book titled "Middle Eastern Food," by Claudia

Roden. It shows us, in many different ways, that many people are willing to work hard at making something out of almost nothing and at using every possible food resource they can find. I really admire people who can do this; I also admire those who find a way to use every part of an animal they have obtained for food.

I have often wondered if people who catch sturgeon for the caviar will actually eat the fish itself. I have never seen filet of sturgeon in the grocery store, and I have never seen a recipe for sturgeon. That does not mean it isn't used - it just means that I haven't seen it. There are probably many things I've never seen.]]



(Persian Yogurt Soup)


This is a specialty of the city of Shiraz. This soup is given texture with chopped walnuts, and gains an unusual flavor from the herb fenugreek, called "shanbalileh" in Iran.


2 1/2 tbsp butter

1-2 onions, finely chopped

2 1/2 tbsp flour

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

2 tbsp fresh fenugreek or 1 tsp ground

5 cups hot water

salt and black pepper

2 1/2 cups yogurt


Melt butter in a large pan. Fry the onions in it until they are a pale golden color.

Add the flour and stir over very low heat for a few minutes, until will blended. Add the walnuts and fenugreek. Pour in a ladleful of the hot water and beat vigorously, then add the rest of the water gradually, stirring constantly. Season

to taste with salt and pepper, bring to the boil slowly, and simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the soup thickens a little and has lost its floury taste.


Beat the yogurt vigorously. Add a ladleful of the hot soup and beat well. Pour the mixture back into the soup gradually, stirring all the time. Leave over low heat until it comes to just below boiling point, but do not allow the soup to boil, or it will

curdle. Serve immediately.

[[Spike thinks that yogurt should have a nicer name. Perhaps "silky soup" would

be good. There are several food items that should have new names: fish and sour cream come to mind immediately. There is a little person living here, who

does not like fish but loves orange roughy. She may or may not like silky soup.]



"These fresh-fruit desserts are like a bite of strawberry cheesecake, and

perfect to serve at a buffet. "


Whip 6 ounces of room-temperature cream cheese on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes until slightly fluffy.

Add 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar.

Trim bottom of 12 strawberries, so each stands upright. Use a Melon baller to scoop out stems and tops. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip with cream cheese; pipe into strawberries until cream cheese brims over the top. Berries can be topped with sliced toasted almonds (toast in a 350 degree oven for 3 to 6 minutes).




11/2 cups crushed ginger snaps (2-inch cookies)

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, melted

1 pint (2 cups) vanilla ice cream, softened

14 (2-inch) gingersnap cookies

1 pint (2 cups) Haagen-Dazs mango or tropical passion fruit sorbet

Fruit salsa (see recipe below)

1/2 cup shredded coconut


In medium bowl, combine gingersnap crumbs and butter; blend well.


Press mixture onto bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of 9-inch spring form pan. Freeze 10 minutes.


Spoon softened ice cream on top of crust; press firmly with back of spoon to level surface. Arrange whole gingersnaps on top of ice cream; cover. Freeze 1 hour or until firm.


Remove sorbet from freezer; place in refrigerator 30 minutes to soften. Spoon softened sorbet on top of gingersnaps. Press firmly with back of spoon to level and smooth surface; cover. Freeze 3 hours.


Remove cake from pan; place on serving plate. Cover; freeze until serving time.

Prepare fruit salsa.


To serve, cut into wedges. Top with salsa and coconut. Makes 8 servings.


Fruit salsa:


2 kiwi, peeled and chopped

1 papaya, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 cup chopped fresh strawberries

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon grated lime peel


In medium bowl, combine all ingredients; stir gently.




6 ripe red tomatoes

Coarse salt and black pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 to 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves


Cook's notes: Raichlen didn't rotate tomatoes on my barbecue because he found that in order to create grill marks, he had to leave the tomatoes in one position until it was time to turn them.


Cut tomatoes in half crosswise. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Heat oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until just starting to turn golden brown, 1-2 minutes. Pour garlic and oil in heatproof bowl.


Set up grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. When ready to grill, brush and oil grate. Place tomatoes cut-side down on hot grate and grill until nicely browned, 3-5 minutes, rotating them 45 degrees after 2 minutes to create crosshatch grill marks (see cook's notes). Turn tomatoes with tongs, spoon fried garlic over tomatoes and continue grilling until bottoms (rounded parts) are nicely browned, 3-5 minutes.


Transfer tomatoes to plates or platter. Grate cheese over tomatoes and

sprinkle with thyme.







4 ears sweet corn, in their husks

Cotton string, if tying husk to form a "handle"

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, room temperature

2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley (or fresh basil, dill or tarragon)

1 clove garlic, minced coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Set up grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.


Fashion husk of each ear of corn into handle: Strip back husk, starting at top, leaving it attached to end of ear (like peeling a banana). Remove corn silk and fold husk back over stalk. Tie husk with string to form handle.


Place butter, parsley and garlic in bowl and mix until smooth and creamy.


Lightly brush each ear of corn with a little garlic-butter mixture.


Arrange on hot grate, positioning corn so husks are away from fire.


Grill corn until kernels are handsomely browned all over, 8-12 minutes in all, turning as needed and brushing with remaining garlic-butter mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Remove corn from grill and serve.



16 medium New Potatoes -- 1 1/2 inch

1/4 cup Olive Oil

to taste Salt and Pepper -- freshly ground

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 cup Mustard Seed

1/4 cup Parsley -- chopped fresh

1 tablespoon Garlic -- minced

2 tablespoons Lemon Juice -- fresh

10 dashes Tabasco Sauce -- more or less

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard -- whole-grain

In a large pot, bring salted water to a rapid boil. Add the whole potatoes in their jackets and cook for about 10 minutes, or until they can be pierced with a fork but still offer some resistance. They should be firm but not crunchy. Drain potatoes and rinse under cold water.

Cut the potatoes in half and thread them on skewers, with the cut sides facing the same way. Coat them with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over a direct fire for 3 - 5 minutes, or until golden brown.

Place the grilled potatoes in a medium bowl. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, mustard seeds, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, hot sauce and Dijon mustard. Toss well. Serve warm or cold.



... and grilled veggies add sparkle to the 'fireworks'



Grilled veggies caramelized to luscious perfection may not replace burgers and hot dogs on summer menus, but they sure can add side-dish spark to those old standbys. Especially if those summertime beauties are grilled and garnished under the watchful eye of a grilling expert.


But then, Steven Raichlen says, we all can be experts. (Raichlen is the reigning guru of grilling -- and he's also the potentate of positivity.)


On a recent visit to my home, he created the most irresistible grilled vegetables imaginable. But not on some fancy-schmancy barbecue. No, he used my beat-up, overused 10-year-old workhorse: a battered gas barbecue, fire-blackened and seasoned with inky juices perfumed with primordial smoke.


The control knob on the left side is permanently welded to a high-flame setting, the domed lid chiseled by salt-air corrosion.


He said he'd seen a woman in Vietnam successfully grill on a hubcap, and observed a man in Indonesia grill sates on an empty cooking-oil can. So he was confident that he could turn out great veggies on my venerable store-bought beauty.


"There's no better way to cook vegetables than grilling. It brings out the flavors like no other method," said Raichlen, cookbook author, cooking teacher and journalist. "Vegetables are loaded with plant sugar; the high heat caramelizes those plant sugars and evaporates much of the flavorless liquids."


Our all-veg menu started with grilled corn on the cob. Raichlen likes to strip back the husks and tie them ponytail-style above the silk-striped ears, then use them as handles.


For the best "live-fire flavor," he said he prefers to grill the corn "huskless." Some like to leave it covering the kernels, but he says it tastes steamed.


He placed them side by side on the preheated grill and brushed kernels lightly with a butter-basil-garlic mixture. To prevent them from burning, he finessed a long sheet of aluminum foil under the husks. He chaperoned like a protective parent, turning them frequently and caressing them with more butter mixture from time to time, until the kernels were beautifully browned.


A final flourish of butter mixture, a little coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Each kernel was caramelized-sweet, smoky perfection.




With over 150 locations in 24 states, Jamba Juice is one of the top smoothie chains in the country. And right about now in the middle of summer, it's a good time for a super big cup of something fruity and cold. Yes, these smoothies are big, so rustle up a 24-ounce cup, or get ready to share. Here are clones for two of the favorites from Jamba Juice's big list of fruity smoothies.


From Top Secret Recipes:


Banana Berry


For the strawberry juice in this one, use the canned Kern's nectar found in most supermarkets.


3/4 cup apple juice

3/4 cup strawberry juice

2/3 cup frozen blueberries

1 banana, sliced

1 scoop raspberry sherbet

1 scoop vanilla nonfat frozen yogurt

1 cup ice


Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed until all the ice is crushed and the drink is smooth.


Citrus Squeeze


Make sure you get fresh squeezed orange juice for this one if you want it to taste like the real thing. Jamba Juice squeezes oranges in a big 'ol orange squeezer machine. This detail makes all the difference in the flavor.


1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice

2/3 cup frozen whole strawberries

1 banana, sliced

2 scoops vanilla nonfat frozen yogurt

1 cup ice


Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed until all the ice is crushed and the drink is smooth. (http://www.topsecretrecipes.com)






1 quart Starbucks Java Chip or other chocolate-coffee flavored ice cream

1 prepared graham cracker crust

1 ounce (1 square) dark chocolate

Whipped cream


Let ice cream soften slightly until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Carefully scoop ice cream into piecrust and use spatula to smooth top of pie. Add layer of whipped cream. Using vegetable peeler, shave side of dark chocolate square to create shavings.


Sprinkle shavings on top. Freeze at least 1 hour prior to serving.




1 3/4 pounds jicama

3/4 cup reduced fat or regular sour cream

3/4 cup chopped green onions with tops

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 to 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish



Peel and coarsely shred jicama. Put shreds in a colander and rinse with cool water until water runs clear. Drain well.


Put jicama in a bowl. Mix in sour cream, green onions, parsley, rice vinegar and horseradish. Season to taste with salt.




Kebabs rescue the Fourth



Hey, Mr. America. Here's to the red, white and blue -- and you forgot.


Today is Independence Day number 225, fella. But don't fret; there's still time to throw together a quickie backyard barbecue. So, quick, holler over the fence and start rounding up neighbors.


You're in luck, regarding the menu. We have the perfect all-purpose quickie main dish: kebabs.


No, not those horrible '70s patio kebabs of cocktail weenies and pineapple chunks on toothpicks. Forget 'em.


Forget, too, the standard supermarket kebabs of beef, cherry tomatoes and bell peppers on a skewer.


Today, we are taking you where no kebab has gone before. We are heading for kebab heaven.


The stars in the firmament are three meals on a stick that will make your Independence Day sparkle. They are:


Chicken kebabs. Chicken chunks marinated in and brushed with a classic sauce.


Chinese pepper steak kebabs. Imagine a Chinese stir-fry on a stick. That's what you'll get in these flavorful kebabs of thin-sliced flank steak soaked in an Asian marinade and threaded accordion-style on skewers with red and green pepper.


Maple-bourbon-glazed barbecued pork kebabs. All the flavor of pork barbecue with none of the work. Pork cubes are coated with a spice rub and marinated, then sauced with a maple-bourbon barbecue glaze and grilled with chunks of corn on the cob.


Kebabs are a classy way to feed a crowd. Not only do they look fancy, but also a little meat goes a long way.


To cut down on cleanup, use wooden skewers instead of metal ones. They can be bought in almost any supermarket (when you go rushing out to buy the other provisions). Soak the skewers for 30 minutes or so in warm water before threading them with meat and vegetables. This helps prevent the wood from charring on the grill. After the meal, just throw the skewers away.


The chicken kebab recipe calls for marinating the meat in the sauce, then serving additional sauce at the table. Do not use the sauce from the marinade for this purpose, or food poisoning could result. Instead, marinate the meat in half of the sauce and reserve half of the sauce for later.


Because the meat is cut into small portions, kebabs grill quickly.


Don't make the mistake of overcooking them, or the meat will be tasteless and dry.


Even the most substantial kebabs grill in 15 minutes or less, so don't wander off to play a game of softball. Stay by the grill and turn the kebabs after about 5 minutes, then begin testing for doneness a few minutes later.




Here's a clone recipe to add to the table for your July 4th celebration. Just find yourself a couple cans of the small white beans (not pinto beans or great northern beans), and the rest is easy. Throw all of the ingredients into a casserole dish and let the sucker bake, while you get on with the party. Just be sure you save this recipe in a safe place, because after the holiday it's coming off the site and may not be seen again for some time. Hope everyone has an awesome celebration!


From Top Secret Recipes:


2 15-ounce cans small white beans (with liquid)

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons white vinegar

4 teaspoons minced fresh onion

2 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

dash pepper

dash garlic powder


After the measuring and before the baking.


All done.


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Pour entire contents of two 15-ounce cans of beans into a covered casserole dish.

3. Combine the water with the cornstarch in a small bowl until cornstarch dissolves. Stir mixture into the beans.

4. Stir the remaining ingredients into the beans and cover the dish.

5. Bake for 90 minutes or until sauce thickens. Stir every 30 minutes. Let beans sit for 5 to 10 minutes after removing them from the oven before serving. (http://www.topsecretrecipes.com) Makes 6 servings.




6 egg roll wrappers

3 ounces cream cheese softened

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1 mango, peeled and chopped

1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

2 tablespoons butter

Cinnamon and sugar, mixed, to taste


Lay wrappers on a work surface. Combine cream cheese and sugar; spread mixture evenly among egg roll wrappers. Spread each wrapper with cranberry sauce, dividing evenly. Top with mango, and sprinkle with walnuts. Fold in sides and wrap.


Over medium heat, melt butter in a large skillet. Place wraps in skillet and sauté, turning once until softened and slightly browned.


Remove from skillet and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.




1 pound boneless pork loin

1 tablespoon spice rub (homemade or purchased)

3 ears corn

1/2 cup barbecue sauce (your favorite brand)

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon bourbon

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon cider vinegar

2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine


Cut pork into 1-inch cubes. Sprinkle spice rub over cubes and mix well. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.


Remove the husks from the corn and wrap each ear in a damp paper towel. Microwave each ear individually at high power for 2 minutes. Or parboil corn for 2 minutes in boiling water. Cool. Cut into 1-inch chunks.


In a small bowl or jar, combine barbecue sauce, syrup, bourbon, mustard and vinegar. Stir well.


Recipe may be prepared to this point up to one day in advance.


Alternate 4 pork cubes and three corn pieces on each of 6 skewers (corn, 2 pork cubes, corn, 2 pork cubes, corn).


Brush corn with butter. Brush pork with barbecue sauce. Grill over medium-hot coals for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, just until pork is cooked through. Brush pork with more sauce, and pass remaining sauce at the table.






1/2 cup prepared sun-dried tomato pesto

4 burrito-size sun-dried tomato tortillas, warmed (or wrapper of choice)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, grilled and cut into strips (may use

precooked chicken available in the meat or freezer case)

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, sun-dried tomato and basil flavored

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

10 pepperoncini, stems removed and sliced

1/2 cup pitted, chopped kalamata olives, optional


Brush each tortilla with Ð cup pesto. Divide chicken strips evenly among tortillas. Sprinkle with remaining ingredients. Fold in top and bottom of tortilla; then roll up.



Now it's bold as well as cold



Eskimo Pies used to be the ultimate ice cream innovation. Then we discovered the joys of homemade banana splits.


Now we're putting ice cream in summer salads.


Haagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry's revolutionized the ice cream scene with cool and sophisticated flavor concoctions such as Coffee Mocha Chip and Cherry Garcia.


What's a dinner host to do with dozens of flavors? Answer: Venture beyond the obvious.


One Haagen-Dazs suggestion: place a scoop of three related ice creams or sorbets on a plate, such as one scoop each of coffee ice cream, Coffee Mocha Chip and Cappuccino Commotion. Garnish with cinnamon sticks.


In addition to flavor pairings, think hot and cold. Try a cool salad -- yes, salad -- of fresh tomatoes topped with small scoops of lemon sorbet and a garnish of chopped, fried leaves of basil, rosemary or thyme.


For those who like ice cream simple, there's always the ice cream sandwich. But even that can be new. Try lemon ice cream with molasses cookies.







Italian heritage ennobles this dish


Today's dish is based on one made in Emilia-Romagna, the home of some of Italy's most sophisticated cuisine and of three of the country's best-known food products -- Parmesan, prosciutto and balsamic vinegar. The dish is little more than chicken sauteed with pancetta and finished with balsamic vinegar, a natural-sounding combination, but one I had never eaten, let alone cooked. I created my own version.

Pancetta, like bacon, is salted pork belly. But it is un-smoked and usually more heavily seasoned. When it's cooked, the combination of aged meat, salt and black pepper gives off an instantly recognizable and irresistible aroma, one that cries out for garlic.

I quickly added garlic cloves with the chicken to the skillet. The garlic became sweet and tender, the pancetta dark and crunchy. The only problem: the chicken skin lost crispness as I added liquid to build the sauce.

The next time, I let the chicken finish cooking in the oven, while adding a little liquid to deglaze the pan, with the vinegar added at the last moment. I experimented with liquids -- stock, white wine, vinegar. But in the end, I preferred water. Between the chicken, pancetta, garlic and balsamic vinegar, there is more than enough flavor in the dish.



1 pound flank steak

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons sherry

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 large red bell pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces

1 green bell pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces


Cut flank steak across the grain into 1/4-inch strips. Place in a zipper-lock plastic bag.


In a small lidded jar, combine soy sauce, sherry, sugar, sesame oil and garlic; shake well. Pour over meat. Seal bag. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.


Drain meat, discarding marinade. Thread meat and peppers on 6 skewers, alternating ingredients and folding meat strips accordion-style. Grill over medium-hot coals for 5 to 7 minutes, turning once.


(From Kellogg's)


From Top Secret Recipes:




2 tbsp shortening

1/3 cup powdered sugar

3 tbsp buttermilk

1 tbsp light corn syrup

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt, rounded

1/8 tsp baking powder, scant

1 2/3 cups flour

3 tbsp water




3 tbsp dark brown sugar

3 tbsp sugar

3 tbsp flour

dash cinnamon

dash salt

1 egg white, beaten




1 tbsp dark brown sugar

4 tsp milk

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

dash salt

dash cinnamon


In a large bowl, combine the shortening, powdered sugar, buttermilk, corn syrup, baking soda, salt, and baking powder, using an electric mixer.


Add the flour and mix by hand to incorporate.


Mix in the water by hand, then use your hands to form the dough into a ball. Cover and set aside.


To make the filling, combine the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Set aside.


To build the pastries, divide the dough in half, then roll one half out onto a floured surface, using additional flour on the rolling pin to prevent the dough from sticking. Roll the dough to no more than 1/16 inch thick. Use a knife or pizza wheel to cut the dough into four 3 x l8 inch rectangles.


Brush the beaten egg white over the entire surface f one half of each rectangle. Sprinkle a rounded 1/2 tbsp of the filling over the surface of the brushed half of the pastry, being sure to leave a margin of about 1/4 inch from the edge of the dough all of the way around. Fold the other side of the dough over onto the filling. Press down on the edge of the dough all of the way around with the tines of a fork to seal it. Use the fork to poke several holes in the top of the pastry. Fill the remaining three dough rectangles, and then repeat the process with the remaining half portion of the dough.


Arrange the pastries on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 350 deg. F. oven for 8 to 10 minutes. The pastries should be only very light brown, not dark brown (the pastries will be reheated and browned in a toaster before eating, like the real thing). Remove the pastries from the oven and cool completely.


Make the frosting by combining the brown sugar and milk in a small bowl. Microwave on half power for 10 to 20 seconds, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well until smooth.


Spread a thin layer of the frosting over the top of each pastry and allow it to dry. Now leave the pastries out so that they dry completely. Overnight is best.


To reheat the pastries, toast them in a toaster oven or toaster on the lightest setting only. Watch carefully so that the pastries do not burn. Serves 8

(Top Secret Recipes, by Todd Wilbur,1998)


[Spike believes that one could fill them with jam instead of the brown sugar stuff.

Further, you could probably frost them with a glaze of lemon juice and powdered

sugar. Some types of jam would not be compatible with brown sugar, and the glaze would be perfect for those types.]



Serves 4

For burgers:

3/4 pound ground lean pork

3/4 pound ground turkey

1 tablespoon herbes de Provence

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For sauce:

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

For assembly:

4 fresh pineapple rings, about 1/2 inch thick, peeled and cored

4 Kaiser rolls, cut in half


To make burgers: In large bowl, combine burger ingredients, mixing gently by hand. Form into 4 equal patties, about 3/4 inch thick.


To make sauce: In a small bowl, mix sauce ingredients.


Grill patties over direct medium heat until fully cooked but still juicy and internal temperature reaches 170 degrees, 12 to 15 minutes, turning once halfway through. Grill pineapple slices over direct medium heat until well marked, about 5 minutes, turning once halfway through. During last 2 to 3 minutes of grilling, brush patties and pineapple with sauce for a tangy glaze. Grill cut side of rolls over direct medium heat until toasted, about 30 seconds.


Serve patties warm on toasted rolls with grilled pineapple rings and sauce.





4 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed, cleaned with damp paper towel

2 large cloves garlic, cut into slivers

1 ounce Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or other firm cheese, cut into slivers

1 sprig fresh rosemary leaves, or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, such as kosher

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed

12 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips


Place portobellos gill-side up on work surface. Using sharp object (such as large skewer or tip of instant-read thermometer), make series of holes in portobellos. Insert garlic slivers in some of the holes, cheese slivers in other, rosemary leaves in others and pine nuts in others.


Combine 1/2 cup vinegar and salt and pepper in glass or ceramic mixing bowl; whisk to dissolve salt. Whisk in oil and basil. Pour some of mixture in bottom of nonreactive baking dish and arrange portobellos in it, gill-side up. Swish mushrooms around to coat bottoms with marinade. Spoon remaining marinade over mushrooms. Let marinate in refrigerator, covered, 30 minutes to 3 hours.


Set up grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.


When ready to grill, remove mushrooms from marinade. Strain marinade if basil looks wilted. Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar into marinade. Arrange portobellos on hot grate, gill-side down. Grill 3 minutes, then invert portobellos and spoon on some reserved marinade.


Continue grilling until caps are browned and very tender, 4-6 minutes, rotating caps 45 degrees after 2 minutes to create crosshatch pattern of grill marks. If caps brown too much, reduce heat or move mushrooms to cooler part of grill. Transfer to plates or platter.



1 1/2 cup coarsely crumbled pretzels

1/2 cup margarine

3 tbsp brown sugar

1 large box of strawberry Jell-O

2 cups boiling water

1 cup cold water

2 small boxes frozen then thawed strawberries

1 small container whipped topping

1 8 oz pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

Melt margarine and brown sugar together and remove from heat. Blend in

pretzels and spread in greased 13 x 9 inch glass pan. Bake for 10 to 12

minutes in preheated 350 degree oven. Cool and set aside.

Mix together strawberry Jell-O and boiling water until all granules are

dissolved and then add cold water and strawberries. Let thicken slightly in

refrigerator. Set aside.

Whip together whipped topping, cream cheese and sugar. Spread over pretzel

mixture. Top with strawberry mixture. Refrigerate and let firm before




(aka Prairie Oysters)


calves' testicles

salted water

fine cracker crumbs

salt and freshly ground black pepper

bacon drippings


Soak the testicles in salted water for one hour. Drain. Roll in cracker crumbs

seasoned with salt and pepper. Heat bacon drippings in a heavy skillet and fry the testicles in it until brown and cooked through.


Note: Calves testicles are available at roundup time from castrated calves and at some markets. People who raise cattle for beef would be able to tell you where they can be obtained close to your local area.




1 pound asparagus (stalks shouldn't be too thin)

2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil (see cook's notes)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

Coarse salt, such as kosher, and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons sesame seeds


Cook's notes: Darker Asian-style sesame oil is sold at Asian markets and in the Asian specialty section of most supermarkets.


Refrigerate after opening. If you want to grill asparagus spears without skewering, lay them on vegetable grate.


Preliminaries: Soak skewers or toothpicks in cold water 1 hour before using, then drain.


Set up grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.


Snap off woody bases of asparagus and discard. Skewer 4-5 asparagus spears together, using toothpicks or bamboo skewers. Use 1 skewer about 1 inch below the tips and one about 1 inch above the bottom to make "rafts." Leave a little space between spears.


In small bowl, combine sesame oil, soy sauce and garlic; stir to mix. Brush on asparagus rafts on both sides. Season with salt and pepper.


Place asparagus rafts on hot grate and grill until nicely browned, turning to brown on both sides. Sprinkle with sesame seeds as they grill.


Presentation: Serve asparagus as rafts or un-skewered.




4 red leaf lettuce leaves, slightly wilted

1 (5-ounce) package yellow rice, prepared according to package directions

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup tomato salsa, optional


Pineapple salsa:

1 (15-ounce) can pineapple tidbits packed in juice, drained

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup diced green bell pepper

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar


Combine all pineapple salsa ingredients. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.


Divide yellow rice, black beans, pineapple salsa and tomato salsa (if desired) evenly among the 4 lettuce leaves. Fold in sides of lettuce and roll up.




1 tablespoon olive oil

8 ounces fresh white mushrooms, sliced (about 21/2 cups)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 (10-inch) flour tortillas or wrapper of choice

1/2 pound fresh spinach or arugula, trimmed and stemmed

1 plum tomato, diced

1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add mushrooms and garlic; cook and stir until the mushroom liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.


On each tortilla, arrange layers of spinach, tomato, mozzarella and cooked mushrooms. Roll up and place seam-side down in lightly oiled baking dish. Bake uncovered until hot and cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Cut each tortilla crosswise into quarters. Serve hot or at room temperature.



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


Sixteen years ago, squid was so little-known and so seldom found on restaurant menus that a local business group launched a festival to help out squid fishermen working California's Monterey Bay.


In the years that followed, the industry blossomed, catching more and more squid, and peaking at 175 million pounds in 1996. The catch has dropped off a bit in recent years, apparently due to warming of the water. The species caught for fish markets is Loligo opalescens, one of 18 species of squid found in Monterey Bay. It is eight to 12 inches long, usually white and very tasty. The festival - held each Memorial Day weekend and still run by the Kiwanis Club - remains a huge event, at which local fishermen show how to clean and prepare squid for cooking. Chefs from area restaurants and "celebrity chefs" prepare dozens of different squid recipes. Squid is served up just about any way imaginable. But celebrating squid doesn't require a trip to Monterey or waiting until next Memorial Day. Here are six ways to enjoy squid.


Classic Fried Squid


It seems you can't escape fried calamari when dining at an Italian restaurant (a squid is called a calamaro in Italian, calmar in French and calamar in Spanish), and it's even a popular appetizer at non-ethnic restaurants in the United States as well, from bars and pubs to family-style establishments. No doubt fried squid is popular because of its familiar preparation.


"Lots of people are afraid of fish, especially something unusual like squid. Frying it changes the texture and sort of masks the squid characteristics, which makes it more appealing to Americans," says Bruce Johnson, Chef at Trap Rock Brewery in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.


Johnson often has squid on the menu, but doesn't serve it fried, preferring instead to serve more adventuresome squid dishes. However, he admits that if fried squid were on the menu, "We'd sell a ton of it. People would order it for appetizer, entrée and dessert."


To prepare fried squid, the squid's body, called the sac, is cut crosswise into rings and the tentacles into bite-sized pieces. It's then coated with a seasoned flour or cornmeal mixture and fried. The key is not to fry the pieces too long, or they turn rubbery and are hard to chew. Fried squid is often served with a dipping sauce.


Squid Salad


In warm weather months, squid salad can be a refreshing break from more typical lettuce-based salads. The squid for salad is cut into rings, boiled, then mixed with dressing and chilled in the refrigerator. Again, it's important not to cook the squid too long or its texture will suffer, becoming tough.


Squid Cakes


Lots of people like crab cakes, and squid can be prepared in the same way. First, the squid must be ground or chopped very finely. Then, mix it with the typical breadcrumb mixture as one would for crab or fish cakes, adjusting seasonings as preferred.

Sautéed Squid


The sauté method allows for lots of variation. Try pairing some of your favorite ingredients, or some seasonal specialties with squid for a quick and easy dish. A squid sauté can be simple or complex. Johnson's customers love his spicy sautéed squid with curry powder, which is served with a vegetable puree, mache greens and a toasted coriander and balsamic vinegar sauce.


Squid Fritters


For a Caribbean-inspired dish, incorporate ground squid into a thick flour batter, then fry large spoonfuls in a lot of hot oil. Made in the same manner as conch fritters, squid fritters are a nice change of pace, and squid can be easier to locate than conch in many areas. Serve with a mango salsa or other favorite dipping sauce.


Stuffed Squid


The body of a squid can be stuffed with a variety of fillings, and then either fried or grilled. Johnson likes to stuff squid with fresh sprouts such as snow pea sprouts, and then grill it and slice it. "The sprouts give the dish a fresh quality that goes well with the grilled flavor," he explains. Stuffed squid can also have an ethnic influence. Italian stuffed squid is a popular entrée featuring a filling that often contains rice, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese, and is served with a tomato-based sauce.




1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

1 egg

1 cup Masa Harina

6 tablespoons cold water

1 (16-ounce) package frozen corn kernels, thawed

1/2 cup sugar

6 tablespoons cornmeal

1/4 cup whipping cream

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square pan. Beat butter and shortening in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in egg. Gradually beat in Masa Harina, then water. Stir in remaining ingredients.


Transfer to prepared pan. Cover loosely with foil and bake until firm to touch, 50 to 60 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm.



Sweet cherries should not be confused with sour cherries, which withstand heat and are best when used in baked goods and savory sauces. The most common North American variety is the large, heart-shaped, dark red Bing.


How to select


In general, the darker the cherry, the sweeter the flavor. Whatever the color, sweet cherries should be shiny and bright. When not fully ripe, cherries are extremely firm and light in color; when overripe, they are dull, mushy, sticky and shriveled.


Although unripe cherries will soften and darken slightly if left at room temperature, they will not ripen further once they have been picked. If possible, select cherries with green stems still attached.


How to prepare


Sweet cherries tend to lose their luscious, distinctive flavor when heated. Actually, most recipes for baked goods, preserves and savory sauces demand sour, not sweet, cherries (one exception is clafouti).


Serve sweet cherries perched atop pancakes or cheesecake, nestled among fruit salsas or under a mantle of yogurt.


Sweet cherries are the same genus as almonds, which explains the fruit's natural affinity for almond flavor. A simple, elegant summer dessert is a bowl of cherries with a swipe of melted chocolate or a splash of booze (kirsch, naturally, but also port, cognac and even champagne).


How to store


Cherries deteriorate quickly. Do not rinse until just prior to serving. To store cherries, place them atop a paper towel (to absorb moisture) in an open plastic bag. Refrigerate for no more than three days




1/2 cup chopped onions

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 tsp dill seed

1 1/2 tsp dill weed

1 1/2 tsp oregano

5 cups tomatoes (some think canned are better than fresh for this)

4 cups chicken stock (Spike uses bouillon)

2 tbsp flour

2 tsp salt (if you used regular butter, reduce this measurement to 1 1/2 tsp)

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/4 cup chopped parsley

4 tsp honey

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup half and half

sour cream


In a large pot, sauté onions in 6 tbsp butter, along with dill seed, dill weed, and herbs for 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add tomatoes and chicken stock, and heat.


Make a roux by blending 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp flour, whisking constantly over medium heat for 3 minutes, without browning. Add roux to stock and whisk to blend. Add salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add chopped parsley, honey, cream and half and half. Remove from heat and puree. Strain. When ready to serve, reheat and serve with a dollop of sour cream.

(Café Beaujolais, Mendocino, California, cook book by Margaret Fox, 1984)




4 cups (approximately) ripe tomatoes, preferably mixture of varieties

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 2 lemons

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Several grinds of black pepper

Pinch of sugar

a cup light olive oil

Fresh basil

Cooking oil

Basil oil and reduced balsamic vinegar for garnish (optional)

Lemon basil sorbet (see cook's note)

Rinse tomatoes and dry on towels.


Prepare vinaigrette by whisking lemon zest, lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper, sugar and olive oil in a small bowl to blend. Taste and adjust seasoning. May prepare a day ahead and store in refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature before using.


Remove four perfect basil leaves from the bunch and reserve for garnish. Thinly slice enough of the remaining leaves to make about 1 tablespoon. Set aside.


In small saucepan, fry whole leaves in about 1 inch of hot cooking oil, just until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Just before serving salads, slice tomatoes according to their size and shape, and toss lightly with vinaigrette and sliced basil just to coat.


Arrange tomatoes attractively, dividing them among four plates. If desired, drizzle basil oil and balsamic syrup around tomatoes for garnish. Top with lemon basil sorbet and fried basil leaf. Makes 4 servings.


Cook's note: To prepare lemon basil sorbet, soften store-bought lemon sorbet at room temperature for a few minutes. Using either an electric mixer or rubber scraper, stir in finely julienned basil leaves to taste. Return to freezer until ready to serve.




1 cup margarine or butter, softened

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

11/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt, optional

3 cups Quaker Oats, uncooked

1 cup raisins


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together margarine and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. Stir in oats and raisins. Mix well.


Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto un-greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.


Cool 1 minute on sheet, remove to wire rack.





1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

4 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup milk



2 pounds prunes

1 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla


To prepare layers, cream butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the vanilla.


Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and add alternately with the milk to the butter, mixing at low speed on an electric mixer or stirring with a wooden spoon. The dough will be soft.


Turn dough out onto a piece of waxed paper, wrap, and chill several hours until firm enough to roll. This step may be hastened if the package is put into the freezer, but be sure it doesn't freeze.


While dough is chilling, prepare filling. Cook the prunes in water to cover about 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain prunes, reserving 1/4 cup of the liquid. Cool.


Pit the prunes and place fruit and reserved juice in the container of an electric blender (or pass through a good chopper). Add the sugar and salt to prunes in blender and blend until smooth - or stir into ground fruit.


Transfer the prune mixture to a saucepan and heat, stirring, until hot. Cool and add the vanilla. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.


Divide the chilled dough into eight equal portions. Leave the remainder of dough in the fridge and roll out one portion at a time on a lightly floured pastry cloth into a circle about 1/8 inch thick and 89 to 9 inches in diameter. A flan ring makes a good cutter. Place round on a baking sheet and bake ten minutes, or until lightly browned at the edges. Cool on a rack.


Repeat with the remaining dough portions. Scraps collected and chilled will produce two more rounds, giving a total of ten layers. When layers and filling are cool, put filling between the layers, pressing down on each layer lightly with palm of hand. Wrap cake in waxed paper or cloth and allow to mellow several hours.









scanted 1 cup beer

4 tbsp flour

2 tsp mustard (powdered or ready-made)

1/2 tsp celery salt

pinch of cayenne pepper

1-1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

6 thick slices white or whole wheat bread

3 celery stalks, to serve


Measure 1/4 cup of the beer into a mixing bowl and combine with the flour, mustard, celery salt and cayenne pepper. Mix well.

Bring the remaining beer to a boil in a heavy saucepan together with the cheese. Pour over the mixed ingredients and stir to blend evenly. Return to the saucepan and simmer gently, stirring continuously, to thicken.


Preheat a moderate broiler and toast the bread on both sides. Spread thickly with the mixture, then broil until golden brown and bubbly. Cut into fingers and serve with celery stalks. serves 4



Serves 4

For paste:

1 tablespoon paprika

2 teaspoons granulated garlic

1 teaspoon granulated onion

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

2 tablespoons canola oil

For chicken:

8 chicken thighs (with bone and skin), about 4 ounces each

To make paste: In a small bowl, combine paprika, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Whisk in canola oil.


Trim chicken thighs of any excess skin and fat. Rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Coat with paste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours.


Sear chicken thighs, skin side down, over direct medium heat for 4 minutes, turning once halfway through. Continue grilling over indirect medium heat until juices run clear and meat is no longer pink at the bone, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve warm.



Simply the perfect portable food



Wraps are on a roll -- and understandably so. They transform almost any food into a hand-held meal that's portable and easy to prepare, perfect for picnics and lunchboxes.


Anything that's flat and foldable -- tortillas, Mediterranean flatbread, egg roll wrappers, even lettuce or cabbage leaves -- can add a new spin to sandwiches. Wraps may seem trendy, with nearly all the fast-food chains offering versions. But the concept is ancient and spans many cultures.


Wraps are found in cuisines around the world from egg rolls and moo shu pork to quesadillas and burritos to calzones.


For your own fusion of fast food and out-of-the-ordinary tastes, try these wrap recipes with fillings that borrow flavors from cuisines around the world.


In the Caribbean wraps, shrimp are bathed in a cocktail of lime juice, cinnamon, peppers and other seasonings, then nestled in rice and mango chutney inside a tortilla blanket. Southwestern wraps are made with canned beans and yellow rice mix. A simple-to-prepare fruit salsa adds a pineapple punch.


Ethnic food isn't your thing? No problem. Making wraps can be as quick and easy as opening your cupboard and pulling out whatever you find. There's almost nothing that can't be packed into a wrap.


Salad greens? Wrap 'em up. Add a little leftover chicken, some Caesar salad dressing and parmesan cheese and call it a chicken Caesar wrap.


Bored with the same old BLT? Give your sandwich some zing by adding an avocado or mango spread and stuffing it into a sun-dried tomato tortilla.


Leftovers? Roll up last night's roasted or stir-fried vegetables for a no-work lunch. Rice, couscous and small pastas such as orzo make good fillers with leftover vegetables and beans.


Add extra flavor to wraps with hummus or bean dip, jarred pesto or salsa, spiced yogurt, nuts and raisins.


Wraps aren't just for lunch or supper. Shake up your morning routine by wrapping your favorite omelet in a tortilla. Or serve wraps for dessert in combinations such as mango-cranberry dessert wraps.



2 cups apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

2 broiler or fryer chickens -- 2-1/2 to 3 lbs each, quartered

Combine first 7 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil, and cook

2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally; set aside. Place chicken, skin side

up, on grill. Grill over medium coals 15 minutes. Dip each chicken quarter

in barbecue sauce, and return to grill. Grill an additional 40 minutes or

until tender, basting with sauce every 10 minutes. Yield: 8 servings.




3 Eggs -- beaten (or substitute)

2 cups Sugar

1 teaspoon Salt

3 teaspoons Vanilla

1 cup Vegetable Oil

2 cups Zucchini -- grated, not peeled

3 cups Flour

3 teaspoons Cinnamon

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/2 cup Nuts -- chopped

Beat eggs, add sugar, salt, vanilla, oil & zucchini. Add remaining

ingredients. Grease & flour pans. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees F. Makes 2

large loaves. Freezes well.



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