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

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Recipes from Spike & Jamie

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Contents Disk 236

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).







































































The whole operation of making one omelet should take 30 to 45 seconds. Work quickly and have a warm plate near the stove top.


3 large eggs

1 tablespoon each (or to taste) finely chopped chives and tarragon

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon butter

A few flat parsley leaves (for garnish)

1/4 cup finely diced tomato (optional)


1. Have on hand a 6-inch nonstick skillet, a long metal palette knife or a rubber spatula. In a bowl with a fork, lightly beat the eggs, chives, tarragon, salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients well, but don't over-beat.


2. Set a 6-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pick up the butter on the tip of a knife and move it around the pan to coat the surface thoroughly. (You actually need only about 1 teaspoon of the butter, but it's easier to coat the surface if you have more on the knife.) The butter should be foaming but not browned.


3. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and immediately begin gently stirring with the metal palette knife or rubber spatula, shaking the pan gently at the same time. If you want a browned omelet, stir only a little so that the bottom surface browns. If a pale surface is desired, stir more vigorously for 15 seconds, so that the egg mixture keeps moving in the pan. It should be firm on the bottom.


4. Slide the omelet toward the end of the pan (the opposite side from the handle) so that the egg cake rises above the rim. With the spatula, turn the top quarter of the egg at the rim over the still-soft center. (Rossetto does this by tapping his hand on top of the handle -- but be gentle.) Then shake the pan a little and using the spatula, fold it again another quarter, pressing down with the spatula. Tuck the edge closest to the handle under the omelet to close it.


5. Using the spatula, carefully slide the omelet onto a plate and garnish it with the parsley leaves. It should be slightly crescent-shaped with pointed ends. If you like, sprinkle the omelet with very tiny squares of chopped tomato.



By Greg Patent, ucook.com contributor


Sticking a fork into a pie should be a shattering experience. I mean, for the crust. Then I can see it is crisp and flaky. Biting into my first mouthful, as the pastry melts on my tongue, evokes a sigh of satisfaction, for then I know the crust is perfect: crisp, tender, and flaky.


But such a crust is elusive to many bakers. You can't make a pie without a crust, and there's no fun scooping out a terrific filling from a dough that's too soggy, too tough, too pale, or just plain awful.


Making a pie crust strikes fear in far too many hearts, yet this culinary miracle is nothing more than flour, fat, a little salt, and water combined in a certain way and transformed by the action of heat into something sublime. Once you get the feel for making a crust and mastering the procedure, you'll never forget it.


A little understanding about flour and fat will help you avoid the common pitfalls: blending the fat in too thoroughly and overworking the dough. Wheat flour is mostly starch, but it also contains proteins, the main ones being glutenin and gliadin. If you've made bread, you bless the presence of these proteins. Vigorous kneading knits them together to form gluten, a protein network that traps bubbles of carbon dioxide produced by the action of yeast, creating a light, high loaf with a chewy texture.


But when you make pastry, you want to minimize the interaction of glutenin and gliadin and the formation of gluten. To that end, you should handle the dough as little as possible and add minimal amounts of liquid - just enough for the dough to hold together but not enough to overstimulate the proteins.


Enter the fats. They coat the flour particles, making them impermeable to water and thus preventing the proteins from forming an extensive elastic network. The gluten that does form consists of short strands, preventing the possibility of the dreaded rubbery crust.


Also, the less water in the fat, the less chance gluten will form. Vegetable shortening has virtually no water, whereas butter can contain as much as 18 percent water. That's why an all-butter crust is liable to be tougher than a shortening crust. Let's face it, butter tastes better than Crisco, but you're sacrificing tenderness for flavor. A good compromise is to use part butter and part vegetable shortening.


For flakiness, you need fat particles of different sizes in the dough. You can best achieve this with your fingertips where you have far more control than with a machine or a manual pastry blender. What you want are pieces of fat ranging in size from a grain of rice to that of a pea or slightly larger.


Here's how to do it. Put unbleached all-purpose flour into a large bowl and stir in the salt. Cut the fat into tablespoon-size pieces and drop them into the flour. Then, working with one piece at a time, lift it with both hands along with some of the flour, and rub it rapidly across the fingers with your thumbs to break it into smaller pieces.


It feels a lot like sifting sand at the beach. The whole process should take no more than two minutes, with your motions always being rapid and light. Finally, add ice water all at once, drizzling it around the outer edge of the dry ingredients, and stir it in with a fork until the dough just gathers into a ball. Gently flatten the dough into a disk, and that's all there is to it.


If your kitchen is very warm, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it for about an hour. If not, the dough may be rolled out right away. When you roll the dough, the fat (now flattened) keeps the dough separated into layers. In a hot oven, the fat melts creating spaces between the layers. The water used to bind the dough turns into steam, causing the dough to puff, and the crust turns crisp after most of the water has evaporated.


So now that you know there's nothing to fear when making pie crust, what are you waiting for? Get out that bowl, flour, and fat, and get to it.



are almost addictive


NOBODY ASKED me to lighten this recipe up, I confess. I saw it on the side of a box of cake mix and it caught my attention. I was intrigued by the recipe name, "Almost Candy Bars," and I had most of the ingredients in my kitchen cabinet. So away I went.


The cake mix is used to make the crust by cutting in 1/2 cup of margarine/butter. I used 2 tablespoons of melted butter instead and added in 1/4 cup of fat-free sour cream. I used 3/4 cup instead of 1 cup of each of the topping ingredients: butterscotch and semi-sweet chocolate chips, coconut and chopped nuts. Every little bit helps.


Lastly, I drizzled fat-free sweetened condensed milk over the top; to me it tastes and works exactly the same as regular sweetened condensed milk. They ended up tasting a lot like a chocolate lover's version of those infamous Magic cookie bars people like to make during the holidays -- very yummy and addictive!



Makes 48 small bars


Canola cooking spray

2 tablespoons butter or canola margarine

3 tablespoons fat free sour cream

3 tablespoons chocolate syrup

1 (181/4 ounce) package Pillsbury Moist Supreme Devil's food Cake Mix

1/8 cup powdered sugar (optional)

3/4-cup butterscotch chips

3/4-cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1-cup coconut (sweetened from package)

3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1 14-ounce can fat-free sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch thick, metal baking pan with canola cooking spray.


2. Heat butter in microwave in 1 cup glass measure on lowest setting just until melted (about 30 seconds). Stir sour cream and chocolate syrup into the glass measure with the melted butter; mix until smooth.


3. Put cake mix in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle butter mixture over the top and beat on low until cake mix is nicely moistened but still crumbly (about 1/2 minute). Press evenly in bottom of prepared pan.


4. Sprinkle the top of the crust evenly with butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, coconut and nuts. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over all ingredients.


5. Bake until light golden brown (about 30 minutes). Cool completely. Cut into bars.



If you'd like to serve a sauce alongside, strain 1/4 cup of the cooled pickling liquid, and whisk it with 1 cup of mayonnaise. For ease, the shrimp are left unpeeled; if you peel them before cooking, leave the tails on.

2 1/4 cups water

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons minced fresh lemongrass*

1 1/2 tablespoons pickling spice

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

2 pounds uncooked medium shrimp, unpeeled, rinsed

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

4 small green onions, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

3 tablespoons minced pickled ginger,* 2 tablespoons ginger brine reserved


Place first 6 ingredients in medium pot. Add shrimp. Cover; bring to boil. Uncover and boil until shrimp are just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, green onions, pickled ginger, and ginger brine. Cool 1 hour. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and chill at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.


Using slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to medium bowl. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro. Serves 8

*Available at Asian markets, specialty foods stores and some supermarkets.



Canola cooking spray

4 slices cooked bacon or turkey bacon, crumbled (or 1/2 cup bottled real bacon


2 vine-ripened tomatoes, finely chopped

1/2 onion, finely chopped

3 ounces shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese (about 3/4 cup)

2 tablespoons mayonnaise, made with canola oil if possible

6 tablespoons fat-free or light sour cream

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

1 (16-ounce) can reduced-fat buttermilk biscuit dough


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a nonstick mini-muffin pan with canola cooking spray.


Combine bacon pieces, tomato, onion, Swiss cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream and basil to medium-sized bowl and stir to blend well.


Cut each biscuit into 4 quarters (like cutting a pie into 4 equal slices). Press each quarter of dough into the cups of the prepared mini muffin pan (you will have 32 quarters of dough) to make a crust.


Fill each mini biscuit crust with a heaping teaspoon of the tomato-basil-bacon filling mixture. Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown (about 10 minutes). Serve warm.




4 large red tomatoes, halved

2 cups cooked yellow rice

1/4 cup chopped olives

3 cloves finely chopped garlic

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 cup diced zucchini

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Hollow out tomatoes with spoon; reserve pulp.


Place tomato halves in glass baking dish. Chop reserved tomato pulp and combine with remaining ingredients (except Parmesan cheese) in medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Carefully stuff the tomatoes and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve immediately.



4-6 bunches fresh broccoli cleaned, and steamed ala dente test with fork, do

not make it too soft or mushy....... lay broccoli across the bottom of a glass casserole dish 9 x 13


mix together in bowl:

I can of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup

3 eggs

12 oz bag of shredded cheese cheddar flavor

1 medium chopped onion

1/2 cup of real mayonnaise ----do not substitute diet mayo


After mixing all ingredients together well, spread over broccoli in casserole dish.

Melt 1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine and mix with 2 tubes crushed Ritz crackers

sprinkle on top of casserole and then cover with foil, bake for 35 minutes @ 350 degrees, then remove foil and bake another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for ten minutes before serving



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


Lots of people preserve the abundant harvest of summer and fall by making jams and jellies, but fruit butters are something out of the ordinary to be savored as a luscious spread and as an ingredient in other cool-weather dishes.


A fruit butter is made by cooking fruit pulp and sugar to a thick consistency that will spread easily. The slightly spicy nature of a fruit butter provides a zing that regular jams and jellies don't, and helps to cut some of the sweetness of the spread.


Fruit butters do still contain a good amount of sugar, but like jam, they have no added fat. And, because their flavors are so intense, a little goes a long way. And, that's the name of the game when trying to keep calories down while still enjoying real foods.


Although apple is the most popular and well-known fruit butter, it is not the only possibility. Peaches, pears, and even more traditionally spring and mid-summer fruits such as cherries, apricots, and strawberries can be made into fruit butters.


I've even made pumpkin butter before (imagine spreadable pumpkin pie) and given it away as holiday gifts. Check for recipes in cookbooks that focus on preserving, as many mainstream cookbooks only carry the recipe for apple butter, if they cover it at all.




The same general procedure holds for all types of fruit butters. After simmering the fruit in just enough water to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan, the fruit is put through a food mill to make a pulp. The pulp is then combined with sugar and spices, and the mixture is cooked until it thickens and mounds up on a spoon. Then it's spooned into clean jars, sealed and processed in a boiling-water canner for approximately 10 minutes. The process is slightly more time-consuming than making jam, but well worth the extra effort.


Using fruit butters


While fruit butters do indeed make wonderful spreads for toast, bagels, muffins, and nearly any other bread-type product, they can also be used in other ways to easily add intense fruit flavor. Try some of these ideas:


Mix fruit butter with some plain or vanilla yogurt, then top with a spoonful of granola or other crunchy cereal for a tasty snack or breakfast.


Use fruit butter in place of jelly in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or with reduced-fat cream cheese on a whole-wheat cracker - a quick and easy snack.


Make a fruity sundae with frozen yogurt or light ice cream and a spoonful of fruit butter, then top with complementary fresh fruit slices.


Stir a little fruit butter into baked goods as a replacement for some of the fat. A one-to-one substitution is effective, so replacing half the fat in a recipe that calls for 1/2-cup oil would mean using 1/4-cup oil and 1/4-cup fruit butter. Since fruit butters are so flavorful, some experimentation may be necessary before the perfect ratio of fat to fruit butter is discovered. Hint: this is an especially effective in quick breads and muffins.


Fruit butters thinned with a little juice or liqueur make elegant dessert sauces. Try them over bread pudding, sponge and angel cakes, or dessert crepes.


When making fruit crisps, cobblers, and pies, stir a spoonful or two of fruit butter into the fruit before adding the topping or filling the pie for even more fruity flavor.

Use fruit butter as a filling between cake layers, then frost as usual on the outside. Cakes that work especially well with this technique include spice cake, banana cake, gingerbread, pound cake, and chocolate cake.


Use fruit butter in a blended smoothie instead of or in addition to fresh fruit.



THE BALTIMORE SUN (Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2001)


My roots are showing again. My Southern roots, that is.


This time of year, when Vidalia onions are plentiful and ripe, red tomatoes are no longer a distant dream, it's time to get out the grater, shred some cheddar, throw in chopped pimentos, soften the mixture with mayonnaise and enjoy some pimento cheese.


Pimento cheese, "p.c." in some quarters, is a staple in many Southern kitchens, not just a seasonal treat.


Growing up, there was no need for a bigger meal after a noontime dinner featuring a table groaning with fresh peas, corn, okra, butter beans and other glories from a family garden.


Good pimento cheese has three basic ingredients -- sharp cheddar, top-quality mayonnaise, chopped pimentos -- but no hard-and-fast proportions and endless possibilities for your own favorite variations.


With a big jar of the stuff in the refrigerator, you've got the main ingredient for a quick sandwich lunch or an easy afternoon snack. And in case you said "ya'll come see us" to folks who took you seriously, you're only a few celery sticks away from a fine plate of finger food. Just wash and trim the celery and fill the groove with pimento cheese.


For Creole Spice:


1/2 cup paprika

1/2 cup granulated garlic (available at Andronico's)

1/4 cup granulated onion (I substituted dried minced onion)

3 tablespoons ground black pepper

2 teaspoons ground white pepper

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1/4 cup dried oregano

1/4 cup dried thyme

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons sugar


For Chicken


21/4 pounds small boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Sprinkling plus 1/4 cup Creole seasoning (see above)

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

2 cups flour

2 tablespoons kosher salt

Vegetable oil for frying

Ranch dressing (see recipe)


1. Combine all spice ingredients.


2. Pull off the chicken tenders from the breasts, if still attached, so you have a nice flat piece of meat. Sprinkle both sides of the breasts and tenders with Creole spice mix. Line them up in a non-reactive baking pan and pour on the buttermilk. Cover and let marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours.


3. Mix up the flour, 1/4 cup of Creole spice and the salt. Spread it out in a flat pan. Remove the chicken pieces out of the buttermilk and press them into the flour mixture, coating them well.


4. Pour 1/4 inch of oil in the bottom of a heavy skillet. Heat over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add the chicken pieces without crowding the pan. Turn down the heat to medium and fry for about 5 minutes on each side. You might have to fry the chicken in 2 or more batches; if you do, keep the first batch(es) warm in a low oven while you finish cooking. Serve hot, crisp and golden with some Creole Ranch Dressing ladled on top.



The addition of shiitake mushrooms adds an earthy flavor to this colorful pizza, while fresh red chili provides a hint of spiciness.

3 tbsp olive oil

12 oz chicken breast fillets, skinned and cut into thin strips

1 bunch scallions, sliced

1 fresh red chili, seeded and chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips

3 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, wiped and sliced

3 - 4 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1 pizza base, about 10 - 12 in diameter

1 tbsp Chili Oil

5 oz mozzarella


black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add the chicken, scallions, chili, pepper and mushrooms and stir-fry over a high heat for 2 - 3 minutes until the chicken is firm but still slightly pink within. Season to taste.

2. Pour off any excess oil, then set aside the chicken mixture to cool.

3. Stir the fresh cilantro into the chicken mixture.

4. Brush the pizza base with the chili oil.

5. Spoon the chicken mixture over and drizzle the remaining olive oil over.

6. Grate the mozzarella and sprinkle over. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until crisp and golden. Serve immediately. Serves 3 - 4


Quantity of ingredients for 2 1/2 Qt [6-8 Qt] Cooker


3 TBS [5 TBS] Fat

1 lb [2 lbs] Ground beef

1/2 cup [1 cup] Chopped onion

1 TBS [2 TBS] Chopped green pepper

1 Qt [2 Qts] Tomatoes

1 tsp [2 tsp] Salt

1/2 tsp [1 tsp] Paprika

1 tsp [2 tsp] Chili powder

2 cups [4 cups] Kidney and or pinto beans


1. Brown meat and onions in fat in Cooker.

2. Add remainder of ingredients except beans.

3. Cover, set control at 15 lbs and cook 10 minutes after control jiggles.

4. Reduce pressure normally for 5 minutes, then place under cold water


5. Add kidney beans and simmer a few minutes.




2 tablespoons olive oil

6 green onions (5 finely chopped and 1 thinly sliced)

4 cups shelled fresh peas or frozen peas

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, plus 2 tablespoons minced

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Salt, freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup half-and-half

Plain yogurt


Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in large saucepan. Add green onions; cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add peas and 1/4 cup of the chopped mint leaves; cook, stirring, until peas are softened, about 5 minutes. Add broth; heat to boil over high heat.


Reduce heat; simmer 15-20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature.


Transfer soup, in batches, to food processor or blender; process until smooth. Strain through sieve into pot, pushing hard with back of spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. Stir in half-and-half. Cover; refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.


Stir before ladling into bowls. Garnish each serving with dollop of yogurt, minced mint leaves and sliced green onion. SERVES 6



For Veggies:

1 cabbage (21/2-3 pounds)

2 or 3 carrots, peeled and shredded


For Dressing:

2 cups mayonnaise

1 cup cider vinegar

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 large onion, grated

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 teaspoon celery seed


1. Cut the cabbage in quarters through the stem end. Cut out the core, and slice each quarter across the grain into 1/4-inch slices. Then cut crosswise across the slices in 3 or 4 places to give you strips about 1/4 inch wide by 2 inches long. You'll need about 11 cups. Toss the cabbage in a large bowl together with the shredded carrot.


2. Whip up the dressing. Throw all of the dressing ingredients together in a bowl and mix well. If the cabbage is young, fold the dressing into it just before serving; if it's older, you can add it and hold the salad for several hours in the fridge.



8 boneless skinless chicken breasts

8 slices of Swiss cheese

2 cans of cream of celery soup

1/2 cup of dry sherry (white wine can be substituted)

2 cups of seasoned salad croutons

1/4 cup of butter cubed

Place chicken in a 9x13 buttered casserole dish. Cover chicken with the

slices of Swiss cheese. Mix together the canned soup and the sherry. Pour

the soup mixture over the chicken. Dot with the butter cubes. Sprinkle the

salad croutons over the casserole. Cover with foil: (May be made a day ahead

at this point and refrigerated.) Bake covered in a 350 degree oven for 30

minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 20-30 minutes until chicken is

no longer pink inside.



1/2 pound salmon fillet, 3/4 to 1 inch thick, bones removed



4 small creamer potatoes, red or white

1/4 pound green beans, trimmed

1 small cucumber

1 large baked (or boiled) beet

1 small sweet onion, such as Vidalia



Romaine, 1 head, torn into bite-size pieces to provide 2 cups

Arugula, 1 bunch, torn into bite-size pieces to provide 1 cup

Boston or butter, 1 head, torn into bite-size pieces to provide 2 cups



1 teaspoon mustard, whole grain preferred

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (optional)

2 teaspoons chopped dill or basil

1 teaspoon capers, chopped if large

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil or mayonnaise


1. Prepare the salmon. Bring water to a boil in a small skillet. Add salt and poach the salmon for 8 to 10 minutes, turning once. Drain, set aside to cool and remove skin.


2. Prepare the vegetables. Boil or steam the potatoes in salted water. Drain, cool under cold water and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Boil or steam the green beans in salted water. Drain, cool under cold water and cut into 2-inch pieces. Use 1 cup of beans in the salad. Peel the cucumber and cut it in half lengthwise; then cut one of the halves crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces. Use 1/2 cup in the salad. Peel the beet, trim and eat the ends. Cut the beet into 1/2-inch dice. Use 1/3 cup in the salad. Cut very thin slices from the onion. Use 1/4 cup in the salad. Combine the vegetables in a bowl and toss. (They will become light red due to the beet.)


3. Just before serving, add lettuces to the bowl and make the dressing. Combine the mustard, lemon juice, balsamic, dill, capers, salt and pepper in a small bowl or jar. Add the oil slowly, stirring constantly, or pour into the jar, cover and shake.


4. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Add more oil, salt and pepper to taste and portion onto two large plates.


5. Cut the salmon into 10 pieces (your choice of shape) and arrange half atop each portion of salad. Scatter extra dill, salt and pepper over salmon, if desired, and serve.




Today I am going to try a magician's trick. I plan to give you a recipe for cooking without recipes. My subject, inspired by the season, is salads -- composed salads to be specific. Also known as compound or main-course salads, they are a joy in summer for people who are addicted to farmers markets or have vegetable gardens of their own.


Instead of a formula of ingredients and quantities, these salads are created, or composed, according to whim and what's available. Ingredients may be freshly purchased or harvested, or they may be leftovers from a previous meal. Salade Nicoise is a composed salad; so is Cobb salad, Waldorf salad and -- I must confess -- the chicken Caesar salad offered at so many fast-food emporiums.


Richard Olney, who brought an artist's keen eye and a palate of wonderful ingredients grown near his home in Provence, France, to the task, included one of the few treatises on improvisation in his modern classic "Simple French Food."


After noting that improvisation and the printed word are "at war," he explains, "I have to see everything before me ... all possible ingredients are lined up on a table. From a given lineup, a number of possibilities will always present themselves."


It is safe to say, I believe, that the home cook making such a salad hopes it will be easy to construct, is tasty and healthful.


To these ends, build from the following categories: a centerpiece of meat, fish, poultry or a dominant vegetable such as eggplant; vegetables; lettuces; dressing; plus garnishes such as hard-cooked egg, capers, olives, grated or shredded cheese.

Olney issues several warnings to the novice composer. Among them: "Do not attempt to pack too many things into a single salad ... if meat or fish is included, consider it the star part -- everything else should relate to it ... consider garlic, onion, herbs and flowers (as) seasoning agents ... use lettuces as a buffer for bitter-tasting ingredients." As for dressings, he warns against using poor-quality oil or vinegar and an excess of vinegar, no matter what the quality.


Cool it this summer

By WILLIAM RICE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE (Wednesday, July 25, 2001)


The rules of summer cooking are well-established:


Prepare fresh seasonal ingredients wherever possible.


Avoid recipes that call for extensive preparation.


Make the food light.


And -- above all -- don't turn on the oven.


Poultry and large cuts of meat go out on the grill. Any profusion of vegetables should become chilled soups or main-course salads. Use fruit for toppings on cake or ice cream. Indeed, make your own ice cream and refreshing sorbets.


In our quest to become pool-bound cooks, we have sought time-saving tips from food professionals about how they keep the heat down and their family's spirits up during midsummer.


For many of us, the cornerstone of a no-cook meal is likely to be a salad. Rather than making her salads by formula, caterer Rita Gutekanst discovers inspiration and direction at farmers markets. "It can make your life really easy because you buy pristine fresh food and should do as little


as possible in preparing it. I might buy a quantity of yellow and red cherry tomatoes, a watermelon and a bunch of cilantro. At home, I'll cut the tomatoes in half, make balls of watermelon, chop the cilantro and mix them together."


She dresses this salad very lightly with balsamic vinegar (just vinegar, not a vinaigrette).


Another offbeat combination she enjoys is julienned cucumber and Japanese daikon radish tossed with dill and a garlic vinaigrette and served atop mesclun greens.


Cookbook author Julee Rosso recycles stale country-style bread on warm days to create a base for a most-refreshing salad that also uses watermelon.


"I make a slightly different version of panzanella," the Tuscan bread salad, she says. "I tear the bread in chunks, soak the chunks in cold water and then squeeze out the water. The bread goes into a bowl with diced cucumber, tomato, red onion and quite a bit of chopped fresh basil and some arugula. I add vinaigrette dressing plus a little balsamic vinegar and toss. Then, just before serving, I add watermelon chunks -- about the same amount as the tomato."


She also gives tomatoes a solo role during peak season.


"When the tomatoes are fully ripe and juicy, I make a platter presentation by cutting them into quarters, sprinkling salt, pepper and torn basil over them and drizzling on some fine-quality olive oil. It takes five minutes, max. If there's time left, I will add some olives or sardines."


She also likes to prepare a truly cool fruit treat. She freezes clusters of fresh seedless grapes and offers them as snacks.


Many of us who do want to cook are happiest preparing meat on an outdoor grill. The traditional image is of a male, wrapped in an apron with a drink nearby, cooking thick steaks or hamburgers above glowing charcoal.


That image is fading for several reasons. The cook may well be a woman or teen-ager, the "meat" may be fish and it may have been bathed in a complex marinade before landing over the coals.


"I am addicted to the barbecue, especially for cooking steak," says Chicago chef Debra Sharpe.


Her favorite quick marinade is a combination of chopped onion, minced garlic, black pepper from the mill, balsamic vinegar and a little vegetable oil. For a less-tender cut like flank or skirt steak, she will marinate the steak overnight in beer with fresh cilantro, oregano, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce.


Bobby Flay, award-winning chef of two New York City restaurants and Food Network personality, describes a procedure for what he calls "fish bats."


First, he prepares or purchases three marinades or flavored oils and pours each into a separate zipper-seal bag. Next, he cuts fillets of tuna or halibut or swordfish into bat-shaped pieces. One bat per person goes into each bag to marinate 20 to 30 minutes before grilling.


"Everybody gets three pieces of fish," Flay says. "The flavors are different, but since it's the same fish, they all cook in the same amount of time."


Rozanne Gold, author of "Healthy 1-2-3," says one of her favorites is a three-ingredient salmon treat.


She buys a 2-inch-thick center cut of filet, allowing 11/2 pounds for four servings, plus fresh rosemary and a red onion. At home, she makes a "sandwich" on a baking sheet by layering rosemary branches, thin slices of the onion, the salmon (skin side down, seasoned with salt and pepper) and a final layer of rosemary. Grill over indirect heat for 20 minutes.


Sharpe opts for tuna steaks. She makes a coating by chopping up "a couple of tablespoons each of parsley, basil and tarragon and adding salt and pepper and some olive oil to them in a bowl. I coat the tuna with this mixture and grill it or, if the weather is bad, I'll sear it in a cast-iron frying pan over high heat in the kitchen."


She is even more proud of her grilled tuna nicoise. Instead of keeping the ingredients separate, as they are in the famous salade nicoise, she make a French "salsa." She chops tomato, (cooked) green beans, green onions, pitted olives, capers, tarragon and thyme, combines them in a bowl and stirs in some olive oil.


"I put out a bowl and everyone spoons some over their (grilled) tuna."


Gold has an easier way of bringing the taste of Provence to grilled trout. She buys the fish boned and butterflied, paints it with oil and a little garlic, cooks it skin-side down and serves the fish with olive tapenade from a jar to use like a relish.


Finally, here are two suggestions for making summer eating as good -- and as simple -- as it gets.


Gold confesses, "To really save time in summer, I have a favorite one-ingredient meal: I simply steam as many ears of corn as I can eat."


Rosso takes a sweet route. "Sometimes my husband and I have nothing but berry shortcake for dinner. One of us hulls the berries and the other whips the cream. If you have biscuits on hand, it takes no time at all."



11/4 cups mayonnaise

1 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 cup finely chopped chives

1 tablespoon lemon pepper

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon Creole seasoning (see chicken recipe)

Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl. Transfer to a container with a lid and store in the refrigerator until needed. Makes 21/2 cups



Before you go to work, or leave the house to go shopping, pop these things

in the refrigerator:


1 can asparagus spears

1 jar artichoke hearts

1 large can boneless salmon


When you get home slice two large tomatoes into equal slices or wedges. In a

flat casserole dish, or salad serving dish tear two bunches romaine lettuce into bite size chunks. Drain the asparagus, artichoke hearts, and salmon. Layer the tomato slices at both ends of the dish, followed by one strip of asparagus spears, one strip of salmon (in the middle) and one strip of artichoke hearts (it will look like strips of tomato, asparagus, salmon, artichoke, tomato). Drizzle your favorite vinaigrette and serve with cold ice tea and some special rolls you picked up at the corner bakery......Serves 6 nice size servings easily, but feeds a famished 4 very well.



1 lg. can tomato juice

2 cups tomato sauce

4 cups water

4 lb. meat (of your choice)

2 medium onions chopped

1 cups celery chopped

3 cups diced carrots

5 cups diced potatoes

1 Tbs.. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. tapioca

1 Tbs.. sugar

1 Tbs.. salt

pepper to taste


Put meat, vegetables and seasonings in turkey roaster. Add tomato juice,

tomato sauce and water. Stir well. Bake at 250° for 5 hours. Do not raise

lid until done.



By Alison Arnett. BOSTON GLOBE

David Rossetto gazes quizzically when asked when he learned to make an omelet. It's a Frenchman's look, slightly bemused that anyone would even wonder if a lesson was involved in this most Gallic dish. "You learn omelets without even thinking," he replies.


"Your mother teaches you," he says. He must have been about 10 years old when he mastered his first one, he says. "An omelet is part of our culture."


Rosetto is the chef of a small French restaurant that he and his wife, Michelle, own. Omelets aren't on the menu, he says, because the restaurant is open only for supper, when he serves such classics as pork tenderloin with sweet peas a la Francaise and caramelized onion jus and duck magret with green peppercorn sauce. In France, omelets are on lunch menus only, served with a green salad. And sometimes, he adds, people eat omelets after a very late night out. But never for breakfast (we won't tell if you have one in the morning or make a light supper out of one).


The American versions are usually overcooked and contain too many ingredients, according to Rossetto, who grew up in Chaumont, a small town near Dijon in Burgundy. Although filled omelets are popular at home, the more common luncheon dish is seasoned with finely chopped herbs or maybe some wild mushrooms. Omelets have such a revered place in French cuisine that they're usually ordered by degree of doneness, as one would order a steak: Baveuse is for those who like their centers runny, a point for medium, and bien cuit for well-done.


Rossetto remembers going to a restaurant in the Basque region of France where only omelets were served. He cooked in Nice for several years and often made the Nicoise specialty of poitine omelets, filled with tiny sardines and anchovies and seasoned with lemon juice and olive oil. Later, he worked in a restaurant in New York, where egg white omelets were popular. "Not very appetizing," he says, "and hard to make" because they stuck to the pans.


At home, Michelle makes the omelets. David Rossetto likes to sprinkle his with white wine vinegar, an idiosyncrasy all his own.


Omelet tips


Stainless steel bowls work well for mixing. Use a table fork, not a whisk, to stir the eggs.


Use a 6-inch skillet with a nonstick finish. If a nonstick pan is not available and you use an ordinary frying pan, coat the pan's surface with more butter. Size and coating on the pan are more important than the quality of the pan, Rossetto says.


Heat the butter to foaming, but do not let it brown.


A short cooking time is of the essence so the omelet doesn't get tough.


Use only butter; margarine will change the taste.


Make omelets one by one.




12 oz. cream cheese

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. rum or sherry extract

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 Cup fruit juice (from fruit cocktail)

1 large carton cool whip

2 medium size cans fruit cocktail

1 can pineapple chunks

1 can mandarin oranges

1 can dark sweet cherries

1 cup chopped pecans


Drain all fruit; rinse cherries until water runs clear. Soften cream cheese; add sugar, flavorings and fruit juice. Mix until smooth. Add Cool whip and fruit. Let set overnight.



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


Rice. Talk about an under-used grain. Rice needs a booster club or at least an image consultant! In the United States it seems, rice is more frequently seen being tossed at brides than on dinner plates.


Come on, rice should not be relegated to the back of the pantry shelf. It's time to give rice its rightful place on the plate and in the bowl. After all, throughout history rice has been one of humankind's most important foods. The grain is easy to cook, inexpensive, nutritious and filling.


Don't forget delicious. A simple white rice can fade into the background, supporting a dish's flavor. Other types of rice have flavors and textures that can stand alone: brown rice has a chewy texture and nutty flavor. And rice can play a third role: taking on a seasoning to enhance the flavor of a dish in the way that curried rice suits Indian dishes.


In terms of nutrition, boosting the grain content of one's diet is a move recommended by nearly all authorities, who suggest getting three servings of whole grains per day. Only about 7 percent of Americans reach that goal.


Whole grains are grains that contain the kernel's inner layer called the germ, the middle layer called the endosperm, and the outer layer, or bran. When grains are milled, the germ and bran are often removed, leaving only the starchy endosperm. White rice is milled and not a whole grain, but brown rice is.


Whole grains provide important nutrients with antioxidant properties - such as selenium and vitamin E. Antioxidants are thought to protect the body against cell damage caused by reactive oxygen-containing particles in the environment known as free radicals.


Grain-based diets are generally lower in fat and higher in vitamins, minerals and fiber than meat-based diets, too. And, as a grain, rice is low in fat, cholesterol-free, a great source of complex carbohydrates and (at least before refining) a good source of fiber.


To make rice more than just a good, nutritious idea, here are 25 ways to use it in a variety of dishes:


As an appetizer


. Add rice to the mixture for stuffing mushrooms.

. Form leftover risotto into little patties and sauté them in butter or margarine.

. Extend crabmeat for crabcakes with a little rice.

. Add rice to quesadillas for a hearty appetizer.




. Make a hot rice cereal by combining cooked rice with dried fruit, chopped nuts, a little brown sugar or honey and cinnamon. Add a little milk and microwave briefly to warm through.

. Make a breakfast wrap using leftover rice combined with scrambled eggs.

. Mix hot rice with yogurt and cut-up fresh fruit, top with granola if desired.

. Add rice to brunch casseroles that feature eggs, meat and cheese, etc.


As a salad


. Toss cooled rice with your favorite vegetables, some dressing, and a sprinkle of grated cheese for a quick and filling main dish salad.

. Chopped fruit and smoked turkey combined with cooled rice is nice with a honey-yogurt dressing.

. Serve a rice-based salad in vegetable "cups" (half a seeded bell pepper, half a seeded tomato, etc.) for a healthy and beautiful presentation.


As an entrée


. Rice casseroles - which contain small amounts of meat, plenty of vegetables, and a couple of eggs - are nutritious, filling, and popular at brunch, lunch, or dinner.

. Extend the meat in burgers; add 1-1/2 to 2 cups cooked rice to one pound of meat for a more nutritious burger.

. Combine hot rice with shredded cheese and a beaten egg, form into a pizza crust and top with your favorite toppings.

. Use rice as the crust for quiche by combining it with a little grated cheese and pressing it into a pie plate coated with cooking spray.

. Cook rice in a mixture of equal parts orange juice and water, top with sautéed chicken and an orange marmalade glaze, sprinkle with toasted almond slivers.


As a side dish


. Make a rice-based stuffing for chicken, game hens, or acorn squash.

. The USA Rice Federation suggests the following mix-ins for a quick side dish:

sautéed mushrooms and garlic

toasted sesame seeds, carrots, green onions, and raisins

marinated artichoke hearts and grated Parmesan cheese

crushed pineapple and green bell pepper slices

sautéed garlic and toasted pine nuts

black-eyed peas and sliced green onions

steamed broccoli florets, sesame oil, and cashews

sautéed onion, garlic, and red bell pepper, along with taco seasoning


As a dessert


. Mix cooked rice with fruit - either canned or chopped up fresh fruit - add a little lemon juice and cinnamon, then fold in some whipped cream or whipped topping.

. Add some cooked brown rice to the fruit mixture of your favorite fruit crisp recipe.

. Lighten up a rice pudding by combining hot rice, vanilla (or a favorite flavor), yogurt, and top with fresh fruit or berries.

. Combine rice with vanilla ice cream and a dash of cinnamon.


Other ideas


. Stir cooked rice into soups near the end of the cooking time. Even gazpacho can benefit from a little texture from rice!

. Toss an herbal tea bag into the water while rice cooks for some extra flavor.

. Cook rice in chicken, turkey, vegetable, or beef stock.




Beneath a luscious froth of sabayon, quickly broiled until golden brown, lies an assortment of fresh, sweet berries for a delectable summer dessert.

2-3/4 cups mixed berries, such as:






2 eggs

2 egg yolks

5 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon Kirsch


1 Wash the strawberries, dry well, discard the stems and cut each strawberry in half. Sort the remaining berries to make sure they are all fresh. Arrange the fruit on four ovenproof plates or individual shallow dishes.

2 Half fill a large saucepan with water and heat until simmering. Have ready a heatproof bowl that will fit over the pan without actually touching the water.

3 To make the sabayon, place the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and Kirsch in the bowl, then place the bowl over the pan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl is not touching the water. Whisk or beat with an electric mixer for 10 - 15 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and creamy and leaves a trail as it falls from the whisk or beaters.

4 Preheat the broiler to high. Spoon the sabayon over the berries and quickly broil until the sabayon is brown all over. Serve immediately. Chefs tip The plates of fruit can be arranged in advance, but cover with plastic wrap so they do not dry out. Serves 4



6 ounces country ham -- sliced thin

12 eggs, hard-boiled

1 avocado -- peeled and mashed

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

1 clove garlic -- minced

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1 tomato -- peeled, seeded, finely chopped


Cook ham in nonstick skillet over medium heat 5 minutes or until lightly browned; turning once. Drain and finely chop. Cut eggs in half length-wise and carefully remove yolk. Mash yolks with a fork; add avocado and next 5 ingredients, stirring well. Fold in tomato and spoon into egg whites. Top with ham. Yield: 2 dozen (12 servings).





6 ears of corn, husks and silk removed and blanched

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 slices bacon

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1/2 pound fresh green beans, sliced in half and blanched Salt and pepper to


1 cup ripe olives, cut in quarters

2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil


Preheat grill. Brush the blanched corn with oil. Grill until slightly charred on all sides, about 2 minutes. Remove from the grill and, with a sharp knife, cut off the kernels into a medium bowl.


Cook bacon over medium high heat until crisp in 10-inch skillet; remove and crumble. Add onion and garlic, cook and stir until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in corn, tomatoes and green beans; cook and stir until vegetables are heated through.


Season with salt and pepper and stir in olives and basil.



For food safety, it is very important to grill the lobsters immediately after they have been boiled and split.

1 1/2 cups olive oil

9 tablespoons soy sauce

6 garlic cloves, minced

6 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger


6 2-pound live lobsters


6 tablespoons chopped green onions


Cook first 4 ingredients in medium saucepan over low heat until garlic and ginger begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Set aside. (Sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Re-warm before using.)


Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Drop 1 lobster headfirst into large pot of boiling water. Cover; cook 3 minutes (lobster will not be fully cooked). Using tongs, transfer lobster to baking sheet. Return water to boil. Repeat with remaining lobsters.


Transfer 1 lobster, shell side down, to work surface. Place tip of large knife in center of lobster. Cut lobster lengthwise in half from center to end of head (knife might not cut through shell), then cut in half from center to end of tail. Use poultry shears to cut through shell if necessary. Repeat with remaining lobsters.


Place lobster halves, meat side up, on barbecue. Brush meat with some basting sauce; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover barbecue; grill lobsters until just opaque in thickest portion of tail, about 9 minutes. Remove from barbecue; arrange lobsters on platter. Brush with more sauce and sprinkle with green onions. Serve, passing remaining sauce separately. Makes 6 servings.




Brining the shrimp and then grilling them in their shells will help retain flavor and the natural juices. See how to devein shrimp.


1 quart water

1/3 cup salt

1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

1 1/2 pounds uncooked large shrimp, unpeeled


1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons dry white wine

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper


Roasted Garlic-Herb Sauce


Stir first 3 ingredients in medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Add shrimp. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours. Drain and rinse shrimp.


Using shears, cut shrimp shells down center of back all the way to tail section. Using sharp knife, cut shrimp in their shells along the full length of the back (do not cut all the way through). Remove vein and pull off legs. Open shrimp.


Whisk olive oil, white wine, garlic, parsley, and crushed red pepper in clean medium bowl. Add shrimp and stir; let stand 30 minutes.


Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Place shrimp, flesh side down, on grill. Grill shrimp until pink and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to platter and serve, passing Roasted Garlic-Herb Sauce separately. Serves 6


2 pounds Lean Ground Beef

1 can Cream of Chicken soup

1 can Cream of Mushroom soup

1 can Cream of Celery soup

7 ounces Croutons, seasoned


Pack hamburger into a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Mix soups with croutons and

spread mixture over meat. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour, 15 minutes.


To freeze for later use, cover tightly in foil, label and freeze for up to

six months. To cook, thaw overnight in refrigerator, and bake according to

above instructions.


Quantity of ingredients for 2 1/2 Qt [6-8 Qt] Cooker


1 1/4 lbs [2 1/2 lbs] Lean pork shoulder cut in cubes

2 TBS [3TBS] Fat

4 [8] Onion Slices (I like more)

3/4 cup [1 1/2 cups] Pineapple juice drained from pineapple chunks

1/4 cup [1/2 cup] Water

1/4 cup [1/2 cup] Vinegar

1/4 cup [1/2 cup] Brown sugar

3/4 tsp [1 1/2 tsp] Salt

1/2 cup [1 cup] Green pepper

1 #2 can [2 #2 cans] Pineapple chunks, drained

1 TBS [2 TBS] Soy sauce

2 1/2 TBS [5 TBS] Cornstarch

1/4 cup [1/2 cup] Water


1. Brown pork cubes and onion slices in hot fat in Cooker.

2. Add pineapple juice, 1/4 cup [1/2 cup] Water, vinegar, brown sugar,

and salt.

3. Cover, set control at 10 lbs and cook for 15 minutes after control


4. Reduce pressure instantly.

5. Add diced green pepper, pineapple chunks and soy sauce.

6. Add cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup [1/2 cup] water and cook until

thickened, stirring constantly.

7. Serve over rice. Serves 4 [8].



1 can fruit cocktail

1 can drained Mandarin oranges

1 can drained pineapple chunks

1/4 cup cherries

1 (16 oz) Cool Whip

1 pkg. strawberry Jell-O

1 pkg. cherry Jell-O


Mix all fruit and Jell-O together. When jelled, mix with Cool Whip and serve.


Having experimented with all manner of marinades, I was intrigued how a spice rub would work with chicken. With only 2 tablespoons of oil and 6 tablespoons of herbs, I was expecting it to be dry. Yet my husband, an out-of-town guest and I were all surprised at how juicy and flavorful the chicken tasted. Truly, I don't think I've ever had better grilled chicken.


We like this type of meal served with a fresh vinaigrette green salad, steamed vegetables and a nice seeded baguette. Serves 8


2 4-pound chickens cut into 8 pieces (or 8 large chicken breasts with skin and

bone left on)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons dried basil

2 tablespoons dried thyme

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Place the chicken in a large bowl and toss with oil. Combine herbs and spices in a small bowl, sprinkle on chicken and toss to coat.


2. Build a charcoal fire in an outdoor grill and let it burn until the coals are covered with white ash. Leave the coals heaped in a mound in the center of the grill. Do not spread out. In a gas grill, preheat on high. Turn one burner off, and leave the other burner(s) on high.


3. Lightly oil the cooking rack. Arrange the chicken around the cooler, outer perimeter of the grill. In a gas grill, place the chicken over the off burner and cover the grill.


4. Grill, turning occasionally, until the chicken shows no sign of pink when pierced at the bone, about 50 minutes (about 35 for just breasts).



You will need four 2-inch deep ramekins with a bottom diameter of 21/2 inches and a top diameter of 3 inches, lightly buttered


For Lemon Curd:

1 large egg

Grated zest and juice from 1 small lemon

3 tablespoons superfine sugar

2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1 teaspoon cornstarch


for the soufflés:

3 large eggs

1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons superfine sugar

Grated zest and juice from 1 medium lemon


To Serve:


Sifted confectioners' sugar


1. First of all, make the lemon curd by lightly whisking the egg in a medium-sized saucepan, then add the rest of the lemon curd ingredients and place the saucepan over medium heat. Now, whisk continuously using a balloon whisk until the mixture thickens; this won't take long -- about 3 minutes in all. Next, lower the heat to its minimum setting and let the curd gently simmer for 1 more minute, continuing to whisk. After that, remove it from the heat and divide the curd among the bottoms of the ramekins. (This can all be done well in advance, but cover and leave at room temperature.)


2. When you're ready to make the soufflés, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Separate the 3 eggs, putting the yolks into a medium-sized bowl and the whites into a clean larger one.


3. Now, using an electric hand mixer, beat the whites to the stiff peak stage, which will take about 4-5 minutes -- start on a slow speed, gradually increasing to medium and then high. Then add the 2 teaspoons of superfine sugar and mix on high speed for 30 seconds more. Next, add the zest, the lemon juice, and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar to the yolks, and mix them together briefly. Now, take a tablespoon of the whites and fold them into the yolks to loosen the mixture, then fold the rest of the whites in using a light cutting and folding movement in order not to lose the precious air. Spoon the mixture into the prepared ramekins, piling it high like a pyramid, then run a finger around the inside rim of each one.


4. Next, place them on a baking sheet and put this in the oven on the center shelf for 15-17 minutes or until the tops are golden. Then remove them, and let them settle for about 5 minutes to allow the lemon curd to cool. They will sink a little, but that's normal. Just before serving, place them on smaller plates and dust them lightly with confectioners' sugar.




Homemade ice cream is all about summertime and simplicity and lazy afternoons spent fanning yourself on the porch. It can be as simple as cream, sugar and a little flavoring, and it can taste better than anything in the world. Even people with rock-solid willpower get a little weak in the knees when confronted with a dish of homemade ice cream, so give in already and mix up your favorite flavor - or two. Or three...


You've probably got an ice cream maker kicking around your house somewhere, even if you bought it on a whim and then buried it in the garage after a few batches. We invite you to get reacquainted with your ice cream maker this summer; homemade ice cream is just as good as you remember - maybe even better! With a few of our cool pointers, you'll enjoy sweet success every time.


Fresh and Fruity. Sometimes even chocolate cannot compete with the mouthwatering temptation of fresh fruit ice cream. For the best results, use perfectly ripe fruit - flavors are dulled at cold temperatures, and if the fruit isn't bursting with flavor to begin with, you'll be even more disappointed with the resulting frozen version. Before adding fruit to the ice cream mix, sprinkle it with sugar and mash it with a potato masher. This will distribute the intoxicating fruity flavor throughout the ice cream and save you from encountering rock-hard chunks of frozen fruit in every scoop. Save yourself some heartbreak by skipping the pineapple, kiwi, mango and papaya in your ice cream; these fruits contain enzymes that will keep the ice cream from ever freezing!

Lowering the Fat. Hesitating to make ice cream for fear that you won't fit into your swimsuit? There's no rule that says you must use heavy cream in your ice cream recipes. In fact, ice creams made with lower-fat milk can be even more refreshing than the super-creamy ones. Replace the heavy cream or half-and-half in your recipes with equal amounts of whole or skim milk, or even nonfat sour cream or yogurt. One caveat: ice cream made with less fat will get very hard when frozen overnight; it's best eaten the same day it's made.

Freezer Wisdom. If you have the traditional salt-and-ice style of ice cream maker, be sure to leave the drainage hole open at the bottom or melted salty ice can leak into the canister and ruin the ice cream. Have extra crushed ice and salt on hand as the ice cream maker is churning; you'll need to add more as the ice melts, in order to keep the canister cold all the way up to the top, ensuring even freezing for a smooth texture.

Here are some of our editors' favorite accompaniments for homemade ice cream!

What could possibly be better than a bowl of juicy peach cobbler? A bowl of peach cobbler with a heaping scoop of homemade ice cream on top!

Fresh Peach Cobbler


Even better than chasing down the ice cream man - now you can have ice cream sandwiches at home, and you even get to choose the flavor!

Easy Ice Cream Sammies


Some of the best fruits of the season congregate in a flaky crust. Try this simple but amazing combination with vanilla, cinnamon or lemon ice cream.

Blueberry Cherry Pie



1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup light cream

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 cup miniature marshmallows


1. In a medium saucepan over low heat, cook and stir condensed milk and cocoa until smooth and slightly thickened, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Stir in heavy cream, light cream and vanilla. Refrigerate until cold.


2. Pour mixture into the canister of an ice cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Stir in nuts and marshmallows halfway through the freezing process.



2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup red wine or more to taste

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved, or 2 large tomatoes, chopped, with liquid

1 bunch kale leaves, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh basil, coarsely chopped

1 pound medium shells, farfalle or penne, cooked according to pkg. directions

Grated parmesan cheese


1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook till soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add wine, bell pepper, salt and pepper to taste; cook until bell pepper softens, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes; cook about 2 minutes.


2. Add kale; leaves will overflow, but try to mix as well as you can; kale will shrink. Cook until leaves are soft but not soggy, about 6 minutes. Add basil; cook about 1 minute.


3. Toss kale-tomato mixture with pasta. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Top with cheese.





Poor kale. It's such an overlooked green. Maybe it's just too sturdy, dependable (available year-round) and inexpensive (rarely more than $1 a bunch at the supermarket) for anybody to take it seriously. But in addition to being a rich source of iron, folic acid and calcium, kale has a sharp, earthy flavor that teams well with tomatoes and pasta.


This dish is pretty, hearty and extremely adaptable. It does depend, however, on good tomatoes. With farmers markets now in gear, that shouldn't present a problem. (Use cherry tomatoes in the off season.) And speaking of farmers markets, you'll also find a wide variety of kale there.


Many substitutions can be made with this dish. If you don't have tomatoes on hand, it works great with a can of cannellini beans. Bell pepper is used here, but you could substitute zucchini or yellow squash -- or both. Likewise, fresh herbs don't have to be limited to basil. Rosemary or oregano also would work. Every addition will change the dish slightly -- and make it your own.


One more thing: It will seem as if the amount of kale is way too much for the pan. Be patient. As it cooks, the kale will shrink considerably.



By Bradford Seaman, ucook.com staff writer


Whether you harvest and preserve your herbs at their peak (just before flowering) or procrastinate until they begin to fade, there are a number of ways to salvage herbs so that you can enjoy the fruits of your labors year round.




Drying herbs is good way to get the most out of your herb garden. Most herbs dry very well, and some (especially thyme and oregano) thrive. For herbs to dry properly, they need warm, dry air (with as much circulation as possible) and little or no light.


So where do you do this? Two good - and very different - places are the attic and the oven. "The attic is perfect," says Lisa Turner of Laughing Stock Farm in Freeport, Maine. "It must be warm, dry, and dust-free."


Attics usually have excellent circulation (as opposed to a basement), which helps keep the dust off of them. Dust, besides being a clear sign that you're hanging your herbs too long, can also affect the flavor. Of course, any room of the house that offers these conditions is a good bet as well.


To dry, many herbs (such as mint, oregano, sage, thyme, lemon verbena, epazote, and lemon balm) can be tied up in bunches and hung upside down with string. Turner adds that a rubber band around the base of the stems will keep the herbs from slipping through the string as they dry. Another option is to place the herbs on top of a spare clean window screen. It should be raised to allow lots of ventilation (this is especially good for large-leafed herbs such as basil).


Patrice Griffin of Gardens & Gallery in Freeport, Maine, has another idea. "The ideal way to dry an herb is at 100 degrees, so you can dry them in the oven," she says.. "Eighty percent of herbs are water, so it can take anywhere from one hour to a couple of hours, depending on the herb."


While a conventional oven offers no circulation, the ideal warmth, dryness, and darkness make it a perfect environment.


Once dry, herbs should be placed immediately in airtight jars or bags and stored in a place with little light exposure.







Another way to preserve some fresh herbs is to freeze them. This a bit trickier, as many frozen herbs can get mushy once they're thawed. Some, such as cilantro, do not respond well to any kind of freezing.


"It really does change the texture of them," says Griffin on freezing herbs.


One great idea comes from one of the freezer's common occupants: the ice cube tray. Fresh herbs can be blended and stuffed into ice cube racks. Once they are frozen, the herb "cubes" should be popped out and placed in an air-tight container.


"Freezing preserves the color and flavor, and you have portion control," says Griffin. It is perfect for using in soups and gravies. Just pop a few cubes into the soup and voila! Instant herbs.


Herb Recipes


Another way to make the most out of your bounty of herbs is to use them in herb-heavy recipes. Pestos are a perfect fit, and we're not just talking about basil. Non-traditional pestos can be made with oregano, parsley and cilantro. Pestos, in turn, can be frozen (try the ice cube trick). Herbs are also wonderful for flavoring vinegars, oils, and butters.


Other options include pound cakes, flavored bread doughs, and cookies.


"It really makes a difference to throw rosemary or rose petals in a Christmas cookie," adds Griffin. "People will have no idea what they're eating!"


Using up herbs can be a constant, but welcome, problem, whether it's an overflowing garden or large portions you're forced to buy at supermarkets. Drying and/or freezing your herbs or using them up in recipes will make it easier to get more mileage out of them and please your palate, as well.



Spoons, cups don't always measure up in the kitchen


You ought to be able to count on some things. Death, taxes and measuring tools in the kitchen. You can trust those cups and tablespoons, right?


Not so fast, toots.


This one came to my attention more than a year ago, when the newly revamped Gourmet magazine shared an insight from its test kitchen: Not all measuring spoons are equal. Then, a few months ago, I heard from a reader who had discovered a glass measuring cup that was off by 1/4 cup.


Checking into it, I called P.J. Hamel, editor of the King Arthur Baking Co. catalog, who tests lots of equipment.


She wasn't at all surprised. Tools are often off, she says. Even electronic scales can differ. And tools can change as they get old. Plastic cups get melted; metal spoons get bent.


"We test our own stuff constantly, and sometimes even from the same manufacturer, a set will be different."


At home, I pulled out my own equipment: four sets of spoons (heavy-metal, thin-metal, plastic and an adjustable one); two sets of dry-ingredient cups (plastic and metal); and three liquid-ingredient cups (two Pyrex and one called the Perfect Beaker). Yes, I have a lot -- I test recipes at home, and it saves washing-up time.


Using salt to check the spoons, flour in the dry cups and water in the liquid cups, I found all kinds of variations. Two of my tablespoons held 2 ounces of salt, one held 1.6 ounces and one held 2.1 ounces. Measuring flour was dicey and varied a great deal. Neither set held the 8 ounces that is supposed to be 1 cup.


The liquid cups were the most interesting: one Pyrex cup and the beaker held 8 ounces of water, but the second Pyrex cup was off by a full ounce.


The good news, Hamel says, is that it usually isn't a big deal.


"Unless something is grossly off, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference. If something is off by a pinch, it's not going to be that bad." The problem can be relative: If you add a little too much baking soda, your cake will still rise. But if you're measuring five or six cups of flour for bread, she says, you can end up way off. That's when it's worth weighing the flour, like they do in professional kitchens.


A bigger problem than our tools is our habits, she says. "People don't measure (flour) right -- you're supposed to fluff it up and spoon it in and level it off." But people often stick their cups down into the flour, packing the cup.


In the end, it boils down to paying attention in the kitchen. Experienced cooks learn what a tablespoon of salt looks like and know to adjust baking times according to their ovens.


And it might also explain that other big mystery: why one cook's favorite cake is another cook's flop.





(If you marinate the steak and make the dressing before you leave the house in the morning, this dinner can be prepared quickly when you return.)


1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup each: soy sauce, chopped cilantro

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

Juice of 1 lime

1 1/2 pounds flank steak




1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon each: red wine vinegar, chopped cilantro, chopped parsley

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 shallot, minced

Freshly ground pepper

6 cups mixed greens

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cucumber, halved, sliced


Combine olive oil, soy sauce, cilantro, garlic, mustard, cumin, salt, pepper to taste and lime juice in shallow bowl. Add steak; marinate in refrigerator at least 1 hour or overnight.


For vinaigrette, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, cilantro, parsley, salt, shallot and pepper to taste in large serving bowl; set aside.


Remove steak from marinade. Grill or broil steak about 4 inches from heat source until cooked to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium. Let rest 5 minutes; slice thinly on the diagonal.


Whisk dressing. Add greens, tomato and cucumber; toss to coat. Add sliced steak. Toss.



12 cherry tomatoes

Salt, to taste

1 tablespoon grated parmesan

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

8-ounces fresh buffalo-milk mozzarella, diced

12 basil leaves


Cut a thin slice off the top of each tomato. Use a melon baller to remove the inside flesh and seeds of each tomato, leaving a shell intact. Lightly salt the inside of the tomatoes and set, cut side down, on a paper towel to drain.


Turn tomatoes right side up and place about 1/4 teaspoon parmesan cheese in the bottom of each. Combine the oil and vinegar and place about 1/4 teaspoon of this mixture in each tomato shell. Then fill with diced mozzarella.


Garnish each with a basil leaf and serve.




2 tablespoons each: canola oil, finely chopped shallots

2 tablespoons fermented black beans, chopped, optional

1 tablespoon peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger root

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 pounds mussels, scrubbed, rinsed

1 cup chopped chives

4 lemon wedges


Heat oil in wok or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots, black beans if using, ginger and garlic; cook, stirring, until shallots are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, wine, soy sauce and sugar; heat to boil. Add mussels; reduce heat to simmer.


Cover; cook until mussels have opened, 3-4 minutes. Add chives; toss with mussels. Cook 30 seconds.


Transfer mussels to bowls using tongs, discarding any that failed to open. Ladle a bit of broth into each bowl. Garnish with lemon.



The next time you think of heating a can of soup or adding water to a package of ramen for a no-brainer, inexpensive meal, make an omelet.


The time commitment is the same, and you can make an omelet even with "nothing" in your refrigerator.


I made a three-egg omelet for dinner the other night. Just eggs, seasoned with freshly-ground black pepper and kosher salt. An omelet is dinner when I'm lazy, tight on cash or I've been away for a few days and the refrigerator is naked. (Congee, or Chinese rice porridge, is my other fallback meal.)


The only frill was the French butter I used as my choice of fat. I have been sampling Beurre Echire and Bullange, the French and Belgian butters. These and Pelugra, a brand found in many specialty markets, have a creamier, fuller flavor than many of the brands commonly found in U.S. grocery stores.


I've also tried Occelli, an Italian brand that's wonderful to use in making risotto. Taste for yourself; it's a butter revelation.


As the pat of Echire melted in the skillet, the aroma of the butter caramelizing filled my kitchen. I beat the eggs and poured them in the skillet. I swirled the liquid in the pan and gave the solidifying eggs a shake.


It was tempting to grate some Parmesan cheese on the omelet or sprinkle on some chopped green onions -- which is what I had in the fridge -- but I refrained.


Just eggs, I decided, eggs seasoned with salt, pepper and good butter. Once the bottom was set, I folded the omelet in half and slid it on a plate.


It made for a satisfying repast to consume in solitude sitting on a cushion on the floor.


When I make an omelet, I don't usually think about the "proper" technique. My motions are automatic, learned from watching my mom, from old Julia Child television clips, from watching omelet cooks at hotel buffets.


In case you're curious, here are some omelet tips:


Shirley Corriher in "Cookwise" recommends using eggs that aren't refrigerator cold. Warm them in a bowl of hot tap water for about five minutes. This keeps the eggs tender.


Marie Simmons in "The Good Egg" suggests seasoning before cooking, and adding two tablespoons of water to the eggs.


Madeleine Kamman in "The New Making of a Cook" is specific on beating the eggs with a fork for 30 strokes. Any more will overliquefy the eggs.


Use a heavy, well-seasoned pan, or one with a nonstick surface. Heat the pan over medium heat. Add the butter. When the butter sizzles, the pan is ready to take the eggs.

At this point, the experts differ. Simmons prefers to turn the heat to low to let the eggs set. Kamman says to turn the heat to high, because the key is speed.


I keep the heat at medium and lift the pan off the heat if I think the bottom is cooking too quickly.


Pick one of these ways, or make it the way you know how.


Just remember the omelet.







15 plum tomatoes

5 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt


Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and place on baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt over the tomatoes. Bake in 250-degree oven until most of the moisture comes out of the tomatoes, about 20 minutes.


Onion Marmalade

3 medium red onions

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup white wine

1/2 cup honey

1 cup orange juice

1 cup B&B Liqueur


Thinly slice onions into half moons. Over high heat, heat a skillet with the olive oil until hot. Add the onions and reduce heat to medium, stirring occasionally. When onions begin to wilt, add the wine, honey, orange juice and B&B.


Continue to cook down while stirring occasionally over medium heat until the onions reach a marmalade consistency (thick). Arrange alternating layers of tomato mixture and Onion Marmalade in a bowl. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired. Serve as a relish or on toast triangles.




1 can (6 ounces) olive oil-packed tuna, drained

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 pound penne pasta

2 tablespoons each: fresh lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup chopped, fresh, each: flat-leaf parsley, basil, cilantro

2 teaspoons capers, rinsed, drained


Place tuna in small bowl; break into flakes using fork. Set aside. Heat large pot filled with water to boil. Add penne and 1 teaspoon of the salt; cook until al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain; transfer to large serving bowl. Add lemon juice, olive oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper; toss to coat.


Add tuna, parsley, basil, cilantro and capers; mix gently. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cover; refrigerate to chill, about 1 hour. Serves 6

Serve at room temperature.



1 pound or more extra-sharp cheddar cheese

4 ounces pimentos, coarsely chopped

1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced

Ground pepper (to taste)

Salt (to taste)

3 tablespoons (approximately) mayonnaise


Grate the cheddar cheese, then mix together with remaining ingredients. Add more mayonnaise if needed. You may also add a few drops of lemon juice, wine vinegar or Tabasco.


THE HARTFORD COURANT, (Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2001)


You would likely never realize any concerns have been raised about cooking with plastic wrap at home if you relied solely on what's printed on the packages by manufacturers.


The various brands offer differing degrees of information.


Reynolds Plastic Wrap: "Ideal for many food uses" the package declares. Microwaving is not explicitly mentioned, although consumers are warned not to use the wrap with "microwave browning units, browning dishes or conventional ovens."


Buyers are directed to a Web site, reynoldskitchens.com, for usage tips. The Web page recommends an inch of clearance space and folding back one corner of the plastic wrap to allow steam to escape while microwaving.


Glad Cling Wrap: "Unlike some other wraps, Glad Cling Wrap contains no plasticizers," the box boasts, without letting you know why you might care about plasticizers. Glad Cling Wrap, made from "crystal clear polyethylene," is "microwave safe." Glad tells consumers to provide at least one inch of space between the wrap and the food, turn back one corner of the wrap to vent. "Use of any plastic product with foods high in fat and sugar may cause melting," the box warns.


Buyers are given the number for a toll-free question hot line, (800) 835-4523 and a Web site address, www.glad.com.


Saran Wrap: S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. has relabeled its plastic wraps. Saran "Classic" is billed as best for microwaving. Saran "Cling Plus" is "ideal for covering and storing."


The Cling Plus box recommends using the other kind for microwaving, but still provides the how-to: Turn back a corner of the wrap to vent steam, allow an inch between the wrap and the food and realize that foods high in fat "like bacon" or sugar "like pastry" can melt the plastic.


Saran Classic boasts it can withstand high temperatures in the microwave without melting. Consumers are reminded to turn back one corner of the wrap to vent.


"Not for use in browning units, conventional ovens, stovetops and toaster ovens," the box warns. Consumers are given a toll-free number, (800) 428-4795, and site, www.saranbrands.com.


Stretch-Tite Plastic Food Wrap: Produced by Polyvinyl Films Inc., Stretch-Tite gives you directions on how to open the package but no word on what to do after that. There is a photo of two hands pulling a sheet of the plastic wrap tight over what looks like a salad bowl. There is a Web site, www.stretchtite.com, which says the product is "great" for the microwave.


When using a meat grinder, there is always some waste left in the mechanism at the end. Pushing through a wad of plastic wrap cleans all the food out of the worm gear, yet it does not go through the grinder plate and into the food.


Aluminum foil reacts with acids, so a sheet of plastic wrap between the foil and acid foods (like lasagna) prevents tainting the food.


Pastry chefs wrap 5-kilo blocks of chocolate, still in the paper wrapping, in several layers of plastic wrap and slam them on the floor to break them up, saving arduous cutting.


Students wrap their textbooks in plastic to keep them clean when preparing a recipe.


A damp towel wrapped in plastic wrap and placed on top of the stack of phyllo dough keeps the leaves supple without causing them to become sodden.


Wrap your sushi mat in plastic to prevent sticky rice from getting all mashed into it.


In large hotels and banquet houses, entire "Queen Mary" carts (rolling sheet-pan racks) of appetizers, salads or desserts are wrapped in plastic wrap, marked with the name of the party, and rolled into the cooler. This ensures that the wrong cart doesn't get rolled to a party far from the kitchen, and that whole sheet-pans of plates don't slide out and shatter on the floor during delivery.


A box grater wrapped in plastic not only keeps the zester face clean when zesting citrus, but it makes it possible to gather all of the zest easily by simply unwrapping the plastic wrap.


When baking cheesecakes in a pan without a removable bottom, one has to turn them out onto a cake circle upside down, and then reverse them onto another cake circle to show the proper side for presentation. Wrapping the first cake circle in plastic and dusting it with a bit of powdered sugar will prevent the top of the cheesecake from peeling off when it is removed.


When prepping any product containing beets or another ingredient that stains, the cutting board can be wrapped in plastic to keep it from getting stained.


A strip of plastic wrap can be twisted into a twist tie of virtually any length, and knotted. This is particularly useful when transporting food somewhere. Liquids stay in their containers even on a bumpy truck ride.



1 lb. spaghetti

2 cups cottage cheese

4 T. margarine, melted

1 lb. lean ground beef

4 eggs, beaten

1 32 oz. jar spaghetti sauce

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese


Cook spaghetti according to directions. Drain. Combine eggs, margarine and

Parmesan cheese and mix into the spaghetti. Grease a 9" x 13" pan and pour

the spaghetti mixture into it. Spread the cottage cheese evenly over the



Brown the ground beef, add the spaghetti sauce and pour over the spaghetti.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Top with the grated mozzarella and bake

an additional 10 minutes.




2 pounds green tomatoes with some pink blush

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

Salt to taste

1 pound dried spaghetti

24 basil leaves

1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese


Core tomatoes and cut them in half through the stem end. Cut each half into thin wedges. Set aside.


Heat olive oil in skillet over moderately low heat. Add garlic and saute 1 minute to release fragrance. Add tomatoes, hot red pepper flakes and salt. Cover, adjust heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tomatoes soften and lose their shape and begin to settle into a coarse sauce, about 15 minutes.


Taste and adjust seasoning.


Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling slated water until al dente. Tear basil leaves into small pieces. Transfer pasta with tongs to a large, warm bowl, allowing a little water to cling to the pasta.


Add sauce and basil and toss. Add cheese and toss again. Serve immediately on warm dishes.



3 large green tomatoes

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon water

1 1/2 cups seasoned fish-fry mix

1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Vegetable oil or bacon drippings


Wash tomatoes and remove stems. Slice into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Dust tomatoes with flour and shake off excess. Combine eggs and 1 tablespoon water; set aside.


Combine fish-fry mix and cayenne pepper. Dip tomato slices into beaten egg mixture and coat with fish-fry mixture.


Heat vegetable oil until hot over medium heat. Fry tomato slices until golden brown on both sides; drain in colander before serving.


Quantity of ingredients for 2 1/2 Qt [6-8 Qt] Cooker


4 [8] Green Peppers

3/4 lbs [1 1/2 lbs] Ground Beef

1/3 cup [2/3 cup] Cooked Rice

1 tsp [2 tsp] Salt

Dash [1/8 tsp] Pepper

1 [2] Egg

1/4 cup [1/2 cup] Milk

1/3 cup [2/3 cup] Chopped onion

1 10 1/2 oz cans [2] Tomato Soup

3/4 cup [1 1/2 cup] Water


1. Remove seeds and wash peppers. Parboil 3 minutes

2. Combine rice, salt, pepper, ground beef, egg, milk, and onion.

3. Stuff Peppers lightly and place in Cooker on rack.

4. Add tomato soup and water. Cover pan. Set control at 10 lbs and

cook 15 minutes after control jiggles.

5. Reduce pressure normally for 5 minutes, then place pan under cold

water faucet.




This is a stunning dessert for a special party. I use strawberries, but any berries in season -- blueberries, raspberries, blackberries -- can be substituted. For each dessert, about 1/2 cup of frozen nonfat yogurt is sandwiched between wonton wraps that have been blanched, then baked until crisp. A dusting of confectioners' sugar and cut berries complete the beautiful picture.

18 wonton wrappers, each 3" square (4-1/2 ounces)

24 ounces nonfat frozen vanilla or strawberry yogurt

About 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

24 ripe strawberries (about 2 pints), washed, hulled and quartered lengthwise


Preheat the oven to 375°.

Bring about 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add 9 of the wonton wrappers, dropping them into the water 1 at a time. Cook for 1-1/2 minutes, the remove them from the water carefully with a skimmer and transfer them to large bowl of cold water.

Lightly coat a 16" x 14" cookie sheet with vegetable cooking spray. Place your hands in the bowl containing the wrappers and carefully unfold them 1 at a time under the water. Transfer them, still wet, to the cookie sheet, arranging them side by side. Lightly spray the surface with more cooking spray.

Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until dry and brown. Transfer the crisped wrappers to a cake rack to cool.

Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers.

Using 3 crisps for each serving, assemble each dessert as follows: Place a wonton crisp on a dessert plate and top it with a flattened 2-ounce scoop of yogurt. Place another wonton crisp on top of the yogurt, positioning it at about a 45° angle in relation to the first crisp. Add a second flattened 2-ounce scoop of the yogurt. Cap with a third wonton crisp.

Sprinkle the top crisp with 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar and decorate the dessert with the equivalent of 4 berries. 6 servings




4 medium onions

Vegetable oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar -- (or cider vinegar)

1 teaspoon dried oregano -- (or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped)

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/3 cup seasoned croutons


Heat coals or gas grill. Peel onions; cut 1/2-inch slice from top of each

onion and leave root end. Cut each onion from top into 8 wedges to within

1/2 inch of root end. Gently pull wedges apart.


Brush 4 12-inch squares of heavy-duty aluminum foil with vegetable oil.

Place 1 onion on each square; loosely shape foil around onion. Sprinkle

onions with vinegar, oregano, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Wrap foil

securely around onions.


Cover and grill onions 4 inches from medium heat 50 to 60 minutes or until

very tender. To serve, sprinkle onions with croutons. Yield: 4 servings.




1 (6-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 cups cooked, cold rice

3 large tomatoes, seeded, diced and drained

1/2 cup chopped red onions

1 (15 3/4-ounce) can whole black olives, drained and cut in quarters

1/4 cup chopped parsley


Drain artichoke hearts, reserving marinade. Cut artichoke hearts lengthwise; reserve. Combine lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Add lemon mixture to reserved marinade and beat together. Combine rice, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, onions, olives and parsley.


Drizzle dressing over rice mixture and gently toss to coat. Serve on lettuce leaves.


Red, ripe, ready for your recipes



There are many kinds of tomatoes -- plum tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, green tomatoes, pear tomatoes -- and almost all will be featured Saturday at the Modesto Certified Farmers Market.


The sampling, starring locally grown tomatoes, will take the place of Chef of the Week.


The tomato is rich in flavor and is amazingly versatile, turning up in recipes from soups to salads to entrées to desserts. Botanically,


tomatoes are fruits, not vegetables. By description, a fruit is the edible part of the plant that contains the seeds, while a vegetable is the edible stems, leaves and roots of a plant.


The most succulent tomatoes are vine-ripened. They should be stored at room temperature and used within a few days. For best flavor, do not refrigerate your fresh tomatoes that are not fully ripe. Cold temperatures destroy the flavor and prohibit the ripening process.


After selecting tomatoes that are rich in color, free of blemishes and feel slightly firm, include them in some of the following recipes that are sure to please your relatives and friends.



2-1/2 pounds plantains* (peeled weight about 1-1/2 pounds)

Vegetable oil for frying

Salt to taste


*It is very important, when choosing the plantains, that while the skins are still green the flesh inside is just beginning to ripen and has a sweet flavor. The totally green ones are more starchy and bland.

Cut the peeled plantains into lengths of 2-1/2 inches. Heat the oil - which should be at least 1-1/2 inches deep in the pan - and add a few of the plantain pieces. Be careful not to crowd the pan. Fry over medium heat, turning them over from time to time until they are an even golden brown, about 10 minutes.


Remove and drain. Place a piece of the plastic on each of the plates of a tortilla press. Put one length of the fried plantain upright on the bottom plate and smash it down with your hand to flatten slightly. Close the press and flatten the plantain out, turning the plastic around (because the plates are not always even) until you have an almost transparent even disk about 5 inches across. The edge will not be perfectly even, but don't worry. Peel back the top plastic and sprinkle the plantain with salt. Carefully transfer to the hot oil. Fry on both sides until crisp and a deep golden brown. Drain on brown paper and serve immediately.



1 lb. small spinach leaves

6 slices thick-cut lean bacon, cut into strips

2 slices bread, crusts removed

1/4 cup olive oil

4 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard


Freshly ground pepper


Put spinach into a serving bowl. Heat a nonstick skillet, add bacon and cook until crisp and brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Drain off fat from skillet.

Cut bread into cubes. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to skillet, add bread and fry over medium to high heat until crisp and golden. Remove and drain on paper towels. Add to spinach with bacon.

Stir vinegar and mustard into skillet and bring to a boil. Add remaining oil, salt and pepper. Heat through and pour over salad. Toss and serve immediately.




(Ajo blanco, as it's called in Spain, gets its creaminess from crushed almonds, bread and olive oil. The recipe takes advantage of both a food processor and blender. It can be easily doubled.)


1 cup blanched, shelled whole almonds

2 thick slices of stale, crusty, country-style bread (about 1/4 pound), crusts

removed, bread torn into large pieces (11/2 cups loosely packed)

1/2 cup water plus 2 cups ice water

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons wine vinegar (white, preferably)

Cold green seedless grapes or small bread cubes, fried in olive oil, for garnish


Chop almonds coarsely in food processor, then transfer to blender.


Place bread pieces and 1/2 cup water in separate bowl, turning bread so that it absorbs most of water. Once water is absorbed, gently squeeze bread to rid it of excess (but not all of) water and place in food processor. Process in brief spurts into a textured cream.


Transfer bread mixture to blender with almonds. Turn on blender and slowly pour in olive oil, blending it into a thick cream mixture. Add garlic, salt and vinegar and blend to mix well.


With motor running, add about 1 cup ice water. If blender will hold the volume, add remaining 1 cup ice water. Otherwise, transfer soup to glass or ceramic container and stir in remaining water.


Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Soup will thicken as it chills. Give it a stir and check seasonings, adding more salt or vinegar if necessary. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons ice water to thin it, if needed, but the soup will become creamier as it loses its chill.


Pour into dishes. Garnish each serving with 5 or 6 cold green grapes.




Kitchen confessions are big right now, but here's one professional cooking secret you'll likely never read in some chef's hammy tell-all: plastic wrap.


Yep, the very same stuff holding a moldy tomato half and the last few slices of provolone cheese in your fridge has quietly become the wonder film of the toque set. Chefs pound it, poach it, portion it and even hold their pants up with it.


"If you forget your belt, a length of plastic wrap can be made into a rope and tied off" advises Tad Graham-Handley of the Connecticut Culinary Institute. While the use of plastic wrap in home kitchens has become a focus of controversy -- particularly in connection with microwave oven use -- plastic wrap has become ubiquitous in the professional kitchen.


Plastic wrap has replaced the parchment paper, cheesecloth and natural casings traditionally used in restaurant kitchens to fashion such things as sausages and dumplings.


Cooking with plastic wrap has even gotten the nod from Thomas Keller, whose French Laundry Restaurant in the Napa Valley is among the country's hottest.


"A simple idea -- cooking in plastic wrap -- can lead the imagination to endless variations," Keller says.


When Patrick Boisjot wraps a bunch of herbs in plastic and plunks it into a stock pot, gasps are heard at his cooking demonstrations,


"The notion is plastic will melt, and it doesn't make sense to actually cook with it," says Boisjot of the University of New Haven (Conn.) Institute of Gastronomy and Culinary Arts. "If you put plastic wrap in the microwave, you should have no hesitation about putting it in simmering liquid."


Boisjot first saw plastic wrap used to form and poach a fish sausage in a restaurant kitchen in Lyon, France.


"I was skeptical. I thought it would melt or basically not work, but it is very efficient," he recalls. "We would let it cool down and place it in the refrigerator. The plastic wrap would shrink and the sausage would almost be vacuum-packed. We would slice the sausage through the wrap."


Boisjot says he uses 10 times more plastic wrap than aluminum foil.


He rattles off a number of uses: sausage-making; preventing films from forming on sauces; pounding veal slices for scaloppine and salmon for gravlax; poaching cuts of meat, poultry or fish rolled into attractive cylinders.


"On the whole, I've never found it to fail," adds Boisjot. "It's a way to hold food, to keep the moisture inside, or to shape food, either raw or cooked."


Beware heat and flames


Plastic wrap can't withstand open flame, hot oil or, some say, the high temperatures of conventional ovens.


"Plastic wrap in oil shrinks down and shrivels like a chicken skin," Boisjot says. Yet he notes some daredevil chefs will use plastic wrap when searing tuna, using it like a collar or piece of string to hold the fish pieces together while cooking.


You might want to think twice, however, before trying this or some other chef's tricks at home.


"I have seen chefs on TV using plastic wrap in ways we wouldn't recommend to consumers," says Chuck Hanson, a spokesman for Reynolds Wrap.


The company frowns on using plastic wrap for poaching, steaming, or other uses for which the product has not been specifically designed, he says.


Kerry Clair, a spokeswoman for S.J. Johnson & Son, says the company's Saran Wrap is recommended for reheating foods in microwaves.


"We don't encourage long-term cooking," she says. "It's not an intended use for the product, and there could be migration at high temperatures."


"Migration" is where the controversy lies.


While chefs in professional kitchens have been cooking with plastic wrap for years with little notice, the home kitchen has witnessed a battle among health advocates, the plastics industry and the government over using plastic wrap in food preparation.


At issue: Whether certain types of "plasticizers" used to help some wrap brands "cling" better to containers are harmful to humans if they "migrate" from the plastic film to the food during cooking.


Plasticizers are found in wraps made of polyvinylidene chloride or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), according to "The New Food Lover's Companion." Other wraps are made with polyethylene, whose components are not absorbed by foods to any degree, the book says.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn't differentiate on its food-safety Web page, where it advises consumers to keep plastic wrap at least one inch away from food while microwaving. It's a recommendation found on some cartons of plastic wrap sold in the supermarket.


There's not a word, though, about using plastic wrap in conventional cooking as restaurants do.


Officials with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency that regulates the use of plastics in the food industry, say they have no hard information on the safety of dishes cooked with plastic wrap in restaurants. That research would have to come from the companies that make the products, they say.


"I wouldn't recommend it," says one FDA official, who asked not to be identified. "You might as well eat the plastic."



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