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

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Recipes from Spike & Jamie

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Contents Disk 244

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).

ABBYS SUPER ZUCCHINI LOAF

ALMOST INSTANT FRESH TOMATO SAUCE

APRICOT RED PEPPER JELLY

BALTIMORE HASH

BANANA CRUMB MUFFINS

BANANAS WITH CRACKED CARDAMOM

BLACK BOTTOM PIE

BOSTON BROWN BREAD II

BOUILLABAISSE MADE EASY

BRUSCHETTA

CARDAMOM SPICE WORLDS BURIED TREASURE

CARROT BREAD

CHILLED TOMATO SOUP WITH

CHOCOLATE CREPES

CINNAMON BREAD

COUNTRY BREAD AND PORK TENDERLOIN SK

CREPES MAKE A COMEBACK

CRISP FRIED SHRIMP WITH GARLIC

CUCUMBER SALAD

CURRIED BEEF

DILLED SPINACH AND FETA FRITTATA

DUCK CONFIT SALAD

EGGPLANT PEPPERONI MEDLEY

FANCY ICED TEA

FREEZER FRESH TOMATO SAUCE

GREEN PASTA WITH AVOCADO SAUCE

GRILLED CHICKEN MARINATED

GRILLED SEA SCALLOPS

GRILLED TEQUILA LIME SHRIMP

ITALIAN CHICKEN AND PEPPER SANDWICH.

ITALIAN STYLE STUFFED TOMATOES

LAMB AND POTATO SKEWERS

LEMON ICE CREAM PIE

LIGHTER ZUCCHINI BREAD

MACADAMIA BRITTLE

NOODLES WITH EGGS

OATMEAL PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

PERCIATELLI WITH TOMATOES AND PROSCI

PIE MAKING TOOLS

PILARS SPANAKOPITA

RASPBERRY AND CHOCOLATE CREPES

RED ROBINS SMOOTHIES

SOUTHWESTERN CHICKEN

SOY BRAISED PORK BITS WITH SHIITAKES

SPICED APRICOT AND OATMEAL BREAD

SPICY KALE AND TOFU

SPINACH AND MUSHROOM CREPES

SUNSHINE SALAD

SWEDISH CARDAMOM SPICE CAKE ASIAN SAUCE

SWEET POTATO BREAD II

TEA LEMONADE

TEA SMOKED SHRIMP

THE NOSE KNOWS WAY TO GOOD OLD DAYS.

TOMATO AND GARLIC SAUCE

TOMATO ARTICHOKE RICE SALAD

TOMATO MOZZARELLA AND BASIL SALAD.do

TOMATO SALSA FIESTA

TOMATO SAUCE

TORTILLA SALAD

UNCOOKED TOMATO SAUCE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABBYS SUPER ZUCCHINI LOAF

Makes 2 loaves (about 10 slices each)

 

4 cups grated zucchini (about 3 zucchinis) (shred with a medium-sized shredder)

11/4 teaspoon salt, divided use

Canola cooking spray

21/4 cups unbleached flour (plus extra to flour pans)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 eggs

2 egg whites (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)

1 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup fat-free sour cream (light or regular can also be used)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts (pecans or walnuts can also be used)

 

1. Sprinkle zucchini with 1 teaspoon of the salt and place on a dinner plate. Mix it with your hands to distribute the salt. Place a heavy saucepan on top of the zucchini and let it sit for 20 minutes (to give it time to release some of its water).

 

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat 2 loaf pans (8-by-4-inch) generously with canola cooking spray. Then lightly coat each with flour.

 

3. In medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, spices and remaining 1/4 teaspoons salt; set aside.

 

4. In mixing bowl, beat eggs and egg whites on medium speed for about 3 minutes. Add in the sugar, a little bit at a time, and beat for exactly 5 minutes.

 

5. While mixer is still running, slowly pour in the canola oil, maple syrup and sour cream.

 

6. Empty zucchini into a colander and squeeze with your hands to release any other water.

 

7. Add vanilla and zucchini to the batter, then beat in the dry ingredients on low speed, just until mixed (do not overmix). Fold in the nuts and pour batter into the prepared pans.

 

8. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove to a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pans and cool on a rack completely.

ALMOST INSTANT FRESH TOMATO SAUCE

WITH SHRIMP AND PINE NUTS

 

2 pounds ripe tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon oregano, crushed

1/4 cup dry white wine

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup thinly sliced fresh basil or chopped parsley

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

 

Core tomatoes; chop (should make about 5 cups); set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add shrimp, onion, garlic and oregano; cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp is just pink, about 3 minutes. Add reserved tomatoes, wine, salt and pepper.

 

Cook until tomatoes are heated through, 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat; stir in basil and pine nuts. Serve over hot pasta. Makes 4 servings.

APRICOT RED PEPPER JELLY

Makes about 9 half-pints

 

1 package (about 6 ounces) dried apricots

3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/4 cup seeded, chopped fresh red Fresno chili or jalapeño chili (4 to 6

medium-size chilies) WEAR GLOVES

2 1/2 cups cider vinegar (5 percent acidity)

1 1/2 cups water

1 package (1 3/4- or 2-ounce) dry pectin

6 cups sugar

 

In a blender or food processor, whirl apricots, bell pepper, chilies and 1 3/4 cups of the vinegar until fruit and vegetables are finely ground. Pour into a heavy-bottomed 8- to 10-quart pan.

 

Rinse blender with the 11/2 cups water and remaining 3/4 cup vinegar. Pour into pan.

 

Stir in pectin, bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Quickly add sugar, still stirring. Return to a full rolling boil, then boil stirring for 1 minute. (If using a 2-ounce box of pectin, boil for 2 minutes.) Remove from heat and skim off any foam.

Ladle hot jelly into hot, sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space.

 

Wipe rims and threads clean, top with hot lids, then firmly screw on bands. Process in boiling water canner for 5 minutes.

 

You may omit processing and ladle jelly into freezer jars or freezer containers leaving 1/2 inch head space, apply lids. Let stand for 12 to 24 hours at room temperature, then freeze or refrigerate.

ASIAN SAUCE

Not fiery, but a-glaze with flavor

By Mark Bittman, NEW YORK TIMES

The sweet soy glaze on chicken yakitori is almost the Asian equivalent of a coating of jam on roasted meat -- amazingly flavorful but not too spicy.

 

Soy sauce takes on a strong bitterness when it is cooked, and Asian cooks balance it by adding sugar, which makes the sauce both sweet and sticky. But the soy still has a deep, salty flavor that gives the sauce more nuance than a simple glaze of jam.

 

In Japan, most of the sauce's sweetness, and some complexity, is provided by mirin, a sweet cooking wine.

 

It is sold here in most markets specializing in East Asian ingredients. But if you can't find it, honey can be a substitute, and so can adding more sugar beyond what the sauce ordinarily needs.

 

The sauce works on many other ingredients besides chicken, and I especially like it with pork and shiitakes.

 

It can be made first, then brushed on the main food as it grills, roasts or broils, but I prefer to use the combination as a braising liquid.

 

Whatever is cooked in it becomes glazed almost automatically, as the soy sauce cooks down and the sugar caramelizes. You risk burning the glaze with this method, but you can just stir in a couple of tablespoons of water if the sauce threatens to char before the meat cooks through.

 

Pork is ideal for this technique because it doesn't take long to become sublimely tender and because its melting fat provides an added dimension. But a super-fatty piece of pork will make the dish taste greasy. The best cuts are shoulder, trimmed of excess surface fat, or so-called country-style ribs, the meat stripped from the bone.

 

Lean meat like tenderloin is not a good choice. Those who prefer meat on the lean side are better off using shrimp, tofu or chicken (preferably thighs, which can be cooked with the bone in).

 

All require slightly different treatments and timing, but all deliver delicious results.

 

One other easy variation is to substitute carrot slices for the shiitakes; their sweetness and bright color are nice touches.

BALTIMORE HASH

 

1 pound ground beef

1 small diced onion

28 ounces diced tomatoes -- canned, undrained

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 cup potatoes -- peeled and cubed

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

In a skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer

pink; drain. Add tomatoes, carrots, celery, and potatoes. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat; cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are

tender. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Yield: 6 servings.

BANANA CRUMB MUFFINS

 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 bananas, mashed

3/4 cup white sugar

1 eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/8 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

 

1 Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.

2 In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

3 In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.

4 Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

BANANAS WITH CRACKED CARDAMOM

AND COCONUT

Serves 4

 

Crushed cardamom seeds add deeper flavor to food than ground cardamom. This dish was one served for breakfast on a houseboat on Vembanad Lake in Kerala, India.

 

4 whole cardamom pods or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

4 large ripe bananas, peeled, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

2 tablespoons each: flaked sweetened coconut, light brown sugar

 

1. Slit open cardamom pods; remove seeds. Chop or grind seeds in spice grinder or with mortar and pestle; set aside.

 

2. Toss bananas, coconut and brown sugar together in medium bowl. Add cardamom; toss.

 

BLACK BOTTOM PIE

 

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk

2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

1-ounce square of unsweetened chocolate, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

9-inch chocolate pie shell

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin soaked in 3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons rum or

2 teaspoons rum flavoring

2 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Shaved chocolate, optional

 

In saucepan, blend 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, milk and egg yolks. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils.

 

Remove 1 cup of the mixture and stir in the chocolate and vanilla. Pour this into the chocolate pie crust.

 

To the remaining hot mixture, stir in the softened gelatin. Add rum and stir. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until mixture mounds when dropped from a spoon. Don't let mixture get too firm.

 

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy. Beat in a cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until stiff and glossy. Don't underbeat.

 

Fold the cooled, refrigerated mixture into the meringue by bringing a rubber spatula across the bottom of bowl, up the sides and over, cutting through center. Pile into pie shell on top of chocolate mixture.

 

Chill 8 hours or until set.

 

Meanwhile, whip cream until soft peaks form. Spread whipped cream over top of pie. Sprinkle with shaved chocolate, if desired.

BOSTON BROWN BREAD II

 

1 cup white sugar

1 1/2 cups raisins

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon shortening

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 egg

1 cup all-purpose flour

 

1 In a large bowl, mix together sugar, raisins, baking soda, salt, shortening and boiling water. Cover and let stand overnight.

2 The following day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

3 Beat egg and flour into raisin mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan.

4 Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean.

 

BOUILLABAISSE MADE EASY

Serves 8

A classic bouillabaisse draws its rich flavor from a stock made from slow-roasted clam, mussel and shrimp shells. To cut preparation time from days to minutes, I use clam juice to achieve a quick, flavorful stock. You can also use Clamato juice.

16 gulf prawns, peeled, shells saved (16-20 to a pound)

1/4 cup brandy

1 cup white wine

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/2 gallon clam or Clamato juice

Zest of 1 orange

Pinch of saffron

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for sauteeing

1 bulb fennel, cored and sliced paper-thin

2 carrots, peeled and sliced paper-thin

Salt and white pepper to taste

1 yellow onion, sliced into thin rings

1 tablespoon champagne vinegar

16 manila clams, rinsed well

24 mussels, rinsed well

1 pound whitefish, cut into 1-ounce cubes

Fennel sprigs to garnish

 

In a skillet, sear shrimp shells over medium-high heat until shells are red. Remove from heat, add brandy to pan and deglaze, stirring to loosen any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Return pan to heat, add white wine and tomato paste and reduce by 2/3. Add clam juice, simmer 15 minutes to create stock.

 

Place orange zest and saffron in a bowl and strain stock over the top; let steep 15 minutes and strain. While stock is steeping, put extra-virgin oil in saucepan. Add fennel and carrots and sweat on low heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add onion rings and vinegar. Cook 8 more minutes until tender.

 

Place clams in a large sauté pan with a little oil. Add mussels and cubed whitefish. Add shrimp, sear lightly on both sides. Add broth and vegetables and simmer until mussels and clams open.

 

To serve, place mussels and clams around edge of individual bowls. Arrange vegetables and fish in middle of bowl with shrimp on top. Garnish with fennel sprig.

 

BRUSCHETTA

 

2 cups finely diced tomatoes (about 5 to 6 plum tomatoes -- squeeze out seeds

and most of juice before dicing)

1 cup finely diced red onion

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

1 small clove garlic, crushed through a press or minced

Extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 to 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (optional)

Seasoned salt and pepper to taste

6 (3/4- to 1-inch thick) diagonally cut slices sourdough or French bread (from a

baguette or flute)

 

In a medium stainless steel or glass bowl, combine tomatoes, red onion, basil, garlic, 1 to 11/2 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil and vinegar. Toss gently to mix. Stir in seasoned salt and pepper to taste.

 

Brush both sides of bread slices with olive oil and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.

 

Toast under preheated broiler about 8 inches from heat source about 2 minutes per side until light golden.

 

Spoon tomato mixture onto the toast slices and arrange slices attractively on a serving plate or platter. Or spoon tomato mixture into a small bowl or soufflé dish and place in center of serving plate surrounded by toast slices. Makes 3 to 4 servings.

CARDAMOM SPICE WORLDS BURIED TREASURE

By Kristin Eddy, CHICAGO TRIBUNE

If you drive east from the lowlands of India's southwestern coast, the road begins to weave and rise into terraced hillsides of bushy tea plants, rubber trees and the climbing pepper vines for which this region is famous. Yet none of these crops is distinguished enough to lend its name to the gentle mountains here.

 

To find the plant that claims this honor, you would have to pull to the side of the sun-burned road and head toward a shadier spot. Protected by a green umbrella of banana or jackfruit trees -- or whatever plants afford some protection -- are the frondlike leaves of the cardamom plant, which in turn hides its prize. Down at the base of those stems, under leaves fluffed out distractingly, lie the pink and white cardamom flower, the pod and its flavorful seeds. Practically buried treasure.

 

Unlike so many other spices, cardamom rarely calls attention to itself. For most Americans, at least those without a Scandinavian heritage, cardamom does not rate an appearance in the pantry. But diners who enjoy a variety of ethnic foods are consuming cardamom more often than they realize.

 

In addition to being an essential aromatic in Swedish cream cakes and Norwegian sweet buns, the spice is a player in a variety of seasoning compositions: Indian garam masala, Moroccan ras-el-hanout, Ethiopian berbere and the savory paste used in Thai Mussaman (Muslim) curry. Middle Eastern cuisine savors the natural pairing of cardamom and coffee as much as Indian culinary traditions call for cardamom in a highly spiced, milky tea called chai. (Chai has become a popular drink in the United States as well, turning up in coffee shops, commercial tea blends and ready-to-drink bottled brews.)

 

Intriguing flavor

What cardamom brings to the table is an intriguing mix of citrus, camphor and bergamot flavors -- think of Earl Grey tea with a splash of lemon -- that suits sweet and savory dishes.

 

"I always say cardamom is the vanilla of India," Delhi-born cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey said from her New York City home. "We use it in a lot of desserts, but there are two other ways to use cardamom. In rice and meat dishes it is a savory, but there, the aroma it gives is really more important. I love to flavor rice with it; even if I'm making plain rice I throw a few pods in the water. The third way is as a mouth freshener. Instead of a mint you would have a little box with the pods, which you would put in your mouth and crack, not chew really, and suck on."

 

The flavor can be quite strong, which is why it tends to be mixed with other spices, such as cinnamon or ginger.

 

"When you work with cardamom, you have to be careful, or it can take over the whole dish," said Marcus Samuelsson, chef of Aquavit restaurant in New York and Minneapolis, who was raised in Sweden. "It numbs the diner as well.

 

"My grandmother used it a lot in gingersnap cookies and Swedish bread. But it is very versatile. I still use the green cardamom for my gingersnaps, and black cardamom is good for sauces, foie gras or duck."

 

King of India

In India, where the cardamom plant originated, it rivals pepper in prestige; pepper is known here as "the king of spices," while cardamom is "the queen."

 

"Indians use cardamom in everything," said M. Murugan, head of the Cardamom Research Station in eastern Kerala. In the cool of his office, shades drawn against the sun and an overhead ceiling fan whipping the edges of farm reports, Murugan explained, "It goes into curry mixes, tea, biscuits, toffee. Many Indians also use cardamom in essential oil blends. But we export the oils, too, because lots of international factories use them for perfume base."

 

But for all its uses, other countries with similar growing environments may not have wanted to bother with cardamom. As suits a queen, the succulent plant -- a member of the ginger family -- makes specific demands.

 

To start with, her majesty needs an elevation of at least 2,000 feet above sea level; no flat, hot plains, thank you. A tropical rainforest climate with moist air and peat soil is essential to keep the shallow root system healthy. And shade, lots of shade from the jungle forest, is needed to keep the plants cool and the tender leaves from burning in direct sunlight.

 

Special treatment

Unlike pepper, turmeric and ginger, cardamom pods aren't easily dried outdoors with the full force of the sun. To protect the color, green cardamom instead is cured in dark warming rooms built on the small farms around here, most of which are 1 to 5 acres. The pods are spread on stacked mesh pallets and then baked with heat pumped in from wood ovens.

 

The hand labor involved, from cultivating the plants and picking the pods, to curing them just so and later sorting them into grades, is the one element the growers can control. They can only hope nature cooperates with the rest.

 

The somewhat fragile nature of the crop may explain the look of quiet horror on the faces of buyers at a local cardamom auction when a visitor, having been offered a handful of premium green cardamom pods to inspect, casually drops them in the reddish dirt.

 

"This is very expensive compost," said one man quietly, as he bent down to retrieve and clean each pod.

 

The site is an auction house in Vandanmedu, a central trading area for cardamom where buyers come to bid on cardamom lots. Inside a large room open to the blinding light outdoors, two dozen men inspect a board that holds packets of cardamom from different sellers. An assistant passes around baked pastry triangles filled with curried chicken and vegetables and cups of strong, milky coffee. A bell chimes, and everyone stands, heads bowed, for a silent prayer. Now the action really begins.

 

Wild action

Another bell. In the middle of a "U" formed by long tables, auctioneers quickly toss measures of cardamom into bowls set in front of each customer, everyone calling out numbers. The pods fly everywhere, landing in the bowls, on the tables and eventually the floor.

 

But this area is carpeted with tarp, and at the end of the auction, everything swept onto the tarp becomes the property of the auction house: their commission, to be sold privately.

 

The bidders have just a few minutes to evaluate the cardamom, checking for the brightest color -- the most prized being a parrot green -- and tossing the pods hot-potato-style between their hands to assess their weight. These professionals consider other factors, such as an absence of marks that would indicate infestation or dryness.

 

The green color is important, "but American people like the bleached white color," said Thomas. "For that market the cardamom is put out in the sun."

 

Later, women hand-sort the spice into grades, sitting on the floor of a concrete lean-to, chatting and stirring the pods in flat, woven baskets.

 

To an outsider, their bright saris -- in greens and blues and reds -- give splendor to the small room. Kohl-rimmed eyes watch for impurities in the pods and the women's gold bangles and rings move over the cardamom, giving the work an oddly glamorous aspect.

 

It seems fitting that the women look so regal. After all, they are handling the queen of spices.

CARROT BREAD

 

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup milk

2 cups shredded carrots

1 (3.5 ounce) package flaked coconut

1/2 cup maraschino cherries, chopped

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

2 In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Combine eggs, oil and milk; stir into flour mixture until well blended. Stir in carrots, coconut, cherries, raisins and walnuts. Pour batter into prepared pan.

3 Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for ten minutes before removing from the pan to cool completely. Store in plastic wrap to keep moist.

CHILLED TOMATO SOUP WITH

GOAT CHEESE CROUTONS

Serves 6

 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups coarsely chopped onions

5 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

4 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, halved, seeded and coarsely chopped

1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 46-ounce can tomato juice, preferably organic

Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

 

For The Croutons:

 

6 ounces fresh goat cheese, at room temperature

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons finely minced fresh chives

1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic

Coarse salt and coarsely ground white pepper

12 1/4-inch-thick slices bread cut from a baguette.

 

1. In a stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and cook about 2 minutes longer. Add the tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften and release their juices.

 

2. Add the thyme, basil and tomato juice and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, uncovered, until the flavors have intensified. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Season with salt and pepper.

 

3. Transfer the soup to a blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and puree until smooth. You may have to work in batches. Strain the soup through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the soup for at least 2 hours, or until well chilled.

 

4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl mash the goat cheese with a fork. Add the oil, chives, and garlic, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

 

5. About 15 minutes before serving, take the soup from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature. Taste and adjust seasoning. Lightly toast the bread slices. Spread with the herbed goat cheese. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each bowl with a crouton. Pass the remaining croutons on the side.

 

CHOCOLATE CREPES

Makes 18 eight-inch crepes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa

1/4 cup sugar

2/3 cup milk

2/3 cup water

3 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon for brushing on pan

 

Whir all ingredients in a blender. Refrigerate for half an hour.

 

Heat frying pan until drops of water skitter on surface, brush with butter. Pour in about 3 tablespoons of batter and tilt pan back and forth to cover bottom. Cook about 1 minute, until crepe has set and surface begins to dry. Flip crepe over and cook for about 1 minute more. Turn crepe out onto a plate or wire rack. Repeat with remaining batter.

CINNAMON BREAD

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup white sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons margarine

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 9x5 inch loaf pan.

2 Measure flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, salt, buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla into large mixing bowl. Beat 3 minutes. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Smooth top.

3 Combine 2 tablespoons white sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and butter, mixing until crumbly. Sprinkle topping over smoothed batter. Using knife, cut in a light swirling motion to give a marbled effect.

4 Bake for about 50 minutes. Test with toothpick. When inserted it should come out clean. Remove bread from pan to rack to cool.

 

 

COUNTRY BREAD AND PORK TENDERLOIN SKEWERS

Serves 4

1 3/4 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes

20 cubes coarse country bread (they must be slightly smaller than the pork cubes or else they will come in contact with grill and char)

16 pieces un-smoked bacon, each 3/4-inch square

3 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Generous 1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

2 lemons, cut into wedges

Prepare a fire in grill.

 

In a bowl, combine pork cubes, bread cubes, bacon and olive oil. Toss to combine. Add salt, pepper, chili powder and sage, and toss gently to coat evenly. Let stand 5 minutes.

 

Thread ingredients onto skewers in following order: pork, bread and bacon. Each skewer should have 5 pieces of pork, 5 pieces of bread and 4 pieces of bacon. Place on grill rack and grill 3-4 minutes on each of all 4 sides, watching carefully that bread does not burn. Bread should be golden brown and crisp; pork should be firm and just lightly golden.

 

Transfer to plates and squeeze a little lemon juice over each skewer. Serve at once.

CREPES MAKE A COMEBACK

No longer a novelty, endless varieties of upscale pancakes make their way back

into u.s. kitchens.

BY ALETA WATSON, Mercury News

[[Spike's grammar lesson: pronounce "crepps" - not "crapes."]]

 

On the streets of Paris, crepes never have gone out of style. Sidewalk vendors spread a thin batter over hot griddles, flip the crepes over, and fill them with butter and jam or cheese and ham. Parisians and tourists alike snap them up for a quick lunch or dessert.

 

On this side of the Atlantic, where food fads come and go at the drop of a whisk, the crepe craze ended when the electric crepe maker fell off wedding gift lists a couple of decades ago. But crepes have crept quietly back onto the U.S. food scene.

 

Several Bay Area restaurants now specialize in crepes, with the newest focusing on the buckwheat crepes traditionally made in Brittany. Crepe pans are showing up in gourmet cookware catalogs. And crepe recipes pop up without fanfare in cookbooks and magazines.

 

Perhaps it's a sign that we're maturing as a nation of eaters that this time the emphasis is on what goes into the crepes, not the novelty of the dish. With good reason.

 

Tender crepes are the perfect foil for many flavors and play a role in every cuisine, from the Mandarin pancakes of moo shu pork to Russian blini and the thin wrappers of Italian cannelloni. They're a variation of the griddle-cooked flat breads first mentioned by the Roman epicure Apicius in the second century and a refined relative of the American pancake. They can be as simple as a thin cake, hot out of the pan, sprinkled with lemon and sugar, or as sophisticated as flaming crepes suzette.

 

These upscale pancakes have been drawing diners to the Crepe Place in Santa Cruz for 28 years. Owner Gary Keeley says people love the variety of fillings, which range from the feta, artichoke hearts and black olives of Greece to the avocados, green chiles and salsa of Mexico. But he thinks they keep coming back for basic crepes, which are cooked to order in cast-iron pans.

 

``It's not like a tortilla, which is just flour and water. A crepe is so rich and so delicate, you're wrapping ingredients into something that in itself is very good,'' Keeley said.

 

``I think mainly the crepe is a delightful thing to put into your mouth.''

 

What most people don't realize is that crepes are quite simple to make at home. They don't require a long list of exotic ingredients. The batter is just a blend of flour, eggs, butter and milk. With a little care, anyone who can make pancakes can make crepes.

 

Once cooled and stacked, they freeze beautifully, providing a foundation for easy but impressive dishes on little notice. Just thaw, fill and bake.

 

I am smitten at the moment with buckwheat crepes. They're a little more substantial than the more familiar white flour crepes and have a slightly rougher texture. Their earthy flavor is a great complement to vegetable fillings, such as sauteed mushrooms or ratatouille, but also goes well with such classic combinations as ham and cheese. The spinach and mushroom crepes recipe inspired by The Crepe Place is one of my favorites.

 

Many people, however, think of crepes as dessert, filled with fruit or jam and sprinkled with sugar or topped with whipped cream. Such dishes showcase the delicate flavors of a freshly cooked crepe at its best.

 

I was inspired to go over the top with chocolate crepes during a visit from my son and his new wife, both ardent crepes lovers. The recipe on this page produces crepes that are a little more delicate than traditional crepes and tend to dry out on the edges during cooking if you're not careful. But who can resist chocolate? Filled with sweetened ricotta and topped with raspberries and a simple chocolate sauce, they're deliciously decadent.

 

The secret of cooking crepes is learning to keep the pan at the right temperature. If the pan is too hot, the batter will set up before it covers the bottom, leaving a crepe with large holes on one side. (Don't worry too much about this since you can cover a multitude of sins by placing the imperfect edge on the inside when you roll or fold the crepe.) If the pan is not hot enough, the crepes will take too long to cook and get tough.

 

You can use any well-seasoned skillet to cook crepes. French blue-steel crepe pans are quite inexpensive and available in many cookware stores, but they're difficult to keep properly seasoned if you don't use them frequently. Specialized non-stick crepe pans are sold in many catalogs and stores.

 

I prefer a very heavy 10-inch non-stick frying pan that tapers to about eight inches at the bottom. It holds heat well and releases the crepes easily. Just to be safe, I still brush the pan with a little melted butter before cooking the first crepe and several times again between crepes as I use up the batter.

 

Preheat the pan until water skitters over the surface -- just as you do for pancakes. Then tilt the pan up about 45 degrees at the handle, pour about 3 tablespoons of batter from a ladle or measure into the front of the pan and quickly tilt the pan back and forth so the batter covers the bottom as you lower the pan back to the burner. If you have excess batter, you can pour it back out of the pan and remove the tail after the crepe is finished cooking.

 

Cook the crepe about 1 minute on the first side, until it turns a nice golden color, then flip it over and cook the other side for another minute or so.

 

Chefs usually call for flipping the crepe with wrist action only. I'm not that coordinated. I wait until the crepe begins to pull away slightly from the side of the pan and use a thin spatula or tongs to begin lifting it up. Then I grab one edge with my fingers and flip it onto the other side.

 

Be prepared for the first couple of crepes to be less than perfect. Merely set them aside and eat your mistakes later -- they still taste terrific. Or fold them so no one can see your errors and serve them.

 

As you continue cooking the batter, you'll probably have to adjust the heat. Once my pan gets to the optimum temperature, I usually have to turn the burner down a bit.

 

Depending on how you're filling the crepes, they may be rolled, stacked or folded into a square package or triangle. Thin fillings -- such as those often used for dessert crepes -- usually call for rolled crepes. Chunky fillings with vegetables and meats work better with folding or stacking.

 

CRISP FRIED SHRIMP WITH GARLIC

Six servings

 

2 pounds medium-size raw shrimp in their shells

2 sliced ginger root, smashed with the flat side of a cleaver

2 tablespoons rice wine

21/2 tablespoons cornstarch

8 cups peanut, safflower or corn oil

21/2 teaspoons salt (see cook's note)

3 tablespoons minced garlic

 

1. Cut away the legs and antennae of the shrimp, if remaining. Rinse the shrimp thoroughly. Pat them dry and place them in a mixing bowl. Let the ginger root steep in the rice wine for several minutes; add to the bowl, toss lightly and let the shrimp marinate for 20 minutes. Discard the ginger root. Add the cornstarch to the shrimp and toss lightly.

 

2. Heat a wok, add the oil and heat the oil to 425 degrees. Add the shrimp and deep fry over high heat for about 21/2 minutes, turning constantly until golden brown and crisp. Remove with a strainer and drain. Remove the oil from the wok.

 

3. Reheat the wok until very hot. Add the fried shrimp and the salt and garlic. Toss lightly over high heat for about 20 seconds, until fragrant. Transfer the mixture to a platter and serve immediately.

CUCUMBER SALAD

Serves 6-8

3 cucumbers, peeled

1 tablespoon coarse salt

4 tablespoons sour cream

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

2 tablespoons peanut oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

 

Cut cucumbers into halves lengthwise. They can served with seeds, but it is more elegant to remove them, using a teaspoon. Slice cucumber into 1/8- or 1/4-inch pieces. There should be about 5 cups. Place in colander and sprinkle with salt. Mix well. Let cucumber stand at room temperature 1-2 hours. Salt will draw juice from the cucumbers, making them limp and crisp at the same time.

 

Drain, rinse under cold water and press lightly to remove excess moisture. Combine sour cream, lemon juice and pepper in a bowl. Add oil, beating with a wire whisk. Combine dressing with cucumber and fresh dill.

CURRIED BEEF

If you love Indian food, you'll love this quick weeknight meal of curried beef. It is surprisingly low in fat: 95 percent lean ground beef has only 5 grams of fat per 3 ounces. For comparison, 3 ounces of ground turkey has 6 grams of fat; ground turkey breast has less than 1 gram of fat.

 

We used potatoes, cauliflower and peas in this dish, but any combination of vegetables will work, such as green beans, lima beans, zucchini or carrots.

 

Menu:

Curried beef with vegetables

Pita bread or other soft flat bread

Cucumber salad

Sliced pineapple

Iced tea

 

Tips:

Substitute 3/4 cup frozen chopped onions for 1 medium onion.

For better flavor, use a good-quality curry powder such as Bolst.

Substitute lentils or vegetables for the ground beef for a vegetarian dinner.

 

CURRIED BEEF WITH VEGETABLES

Serves 4

 

1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup each, frozen: cauliflower florets, peas

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cups frozen cubed potatoes (see cook's note)

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon curry powder

2 tablespoons mango chutney (see cook's note)

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

 

1. Add beef and onion in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring to crumble meat, until browned. Stir in cauliflower; cook 3 minutes. Stir in peas; cook 5 minutes.

 

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add potatoes; cook 8 minutes. Turn potatoes over; cook 2 minutes more. Add broth, water and curry powder; cook 2 minutes. Transfer potato mixture to beef mixture; stir to combine. Add chutney, salt and pepper; cook until some liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes.

 

Cook's note: We used Ore Ida Southern style hashed brown potatoes and Sharwood's Major Grey chutney. If you don't want to use frozen cubed potatoes, use 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. You'll need to increase the cooking time in step 2 by 5 minutes to cook the potatoes.

DILLED SPINACH AND FETA FRITTATA

Serves 2

 

10 to 12 ounces fresh spinach, washed, stemmed and coarsely chopped (or 1

10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

Salt and pepper to taste

Light olive oil

 

1. If using fresh spinach, steam it in a large covered pot with only the water clinging to the leaves, until just wilted down, and drain.

 

2. Combine the spinach, eggs, feta cheese, and dill in a mixing bowl and stir together. Add a little salt and pepper and stir again.

 

3. Heat just enough oil to coat the bottom of a 9-inch nonstick skillet. When hot, pour in the egg mixture. Cover and cook over medium heat until the bottom is golden brown and the top is fairly set, about 5 minutes.

 

4. Slide the frittata out onto a plate. Invert the skillet over the plate and quickly flip over so that the frittata goes back into the skillet, uncooked side down. Remove the plate, return the skillet to the heat, and cook the second side, uncovered, until golden brown.

 

5. Slide the frittata back onto the plate, let cool for a few minutes, cut into wedges, and serve.

DUCK CONFIT SALAD

WITH ROASTED SHALLOT DIJON VINAIGRETTE

Serves 6

Duck confit cure and cooking process

(This can be done up to a week in advance)

3/4 pound kosher salt

1/4 pound sugar

2 oranges, zested and sliced

2 lemons, zested and sliced

2 limes, zested and sliced

6 duck legs, about 8 ounces each

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon dried lavender

1 whole star anise

1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

1 bay leaf

3/4 gallon duck fat (see Note)

 

To cure, mix salt and sugar and set aside. Toast spices in a pan over low heat until you can smell the flavor, about 5 minutes. Mix spices with zest. Salt and sugar mixture. Cover duck top and bottom with cure, cover and refrigerate 24 hours. To cook legs, submerge in melted duck fat or oil with sliced citrus in a large pot. Bake at 275 degrees until tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Cover and set aside. If making ahead, keep duck submerged in its cooking fat, covered, and in refrigerator.

 

Shallot Dijon vinaigrette and salad

 

Garnish:

2 shallots, peeled

1/2 cup cornstarch

Oil for frying

Vinaigrette:

6 shallots, peeled

1/4 cup champagne vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 cups canola oil, plus more for finishing

Salad:

1 bunch arugula, washed, dried and torn into serving pieces

1 bunch frisee lettuce, washed, dried and torn into serving pieces

Salt and black pepper to taste

 

To make garnish: Slice shallots very thin, separate into rings. Dust in cornstarch and place in small saucepan with a small amount of 300-degree oil and cook until light golden brown.

 

To make vinaigrette: Place remaining shallots in a separate saucepan, cover with oil. Cover and place in 300 degree oven and roast about 1 hour. Remove and cool. Place shallots in blender with vinegar and mustard. Blend and slowly add shallot oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

 

To finish: Crisp duck legs for serving by adding 1/4 inch oil to a sauté pan until medium hot. Working two at a time, place legs, skin side down in pan, reduce heat and cook until dark golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn over to finish heating through. Keep cooked legs warm in oven while crisping remaining legs.

 

Toss greens with salt and pepper. Add vinaigrette to taste. (Reserve any left over for another use.) To serve, place greens on plate. Lean duck leg on greens. Sprinkle shallot garnish on top, serve while duck is warm.

 

Note: Duck fat may be available at a specialty food store. If not, you can substitute canola oil.

EGGPLANT PEPPERONI MEDLEY

Serves 8

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

1/4 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large eggplant, diced

1/4 cup white wine

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 package (1 pound) orzo

1 stick pepperoni, diced, about 1 cup

1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons fennel seed

Grated Parmesan cheese, optional

 

Heat medium pot of salted water to boil. Separately, heat oil in large, non-stick skillet. Add onion and garlic to skillet. Cook about 3 minutes. Add eggplant, wine and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until softened and browned, about 15 minutes. Add orzo to pot of boiling water; cook about 8 minutes.

 

Add pepperoni, tomatoes with their juices, basil, oregano and fennel seed to eggplant mixture. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Drain orzo. Add orzo to eggplant mixture. Cook about 2 minutes more to let flavors blend. Ladle into bowls and top with cheese.

FANCY ICED TEA

A cool treat: Dress up iced tea with fruit and herbs

By ANDY BADEKER, CHICAGO TRIBUNE (Wed. August 15, 2001)

 

The formula for iced tea -- plain old black tea brewed extra-strong, then poured over a glassful of cubes that crack under the steaming onslaught -- needs no elaboration, really.

 

A sprig of mint, maybe, if you've got some getting out of control in the back yard, and a lemon wedge if you can be bothered to cut one.

 

Then it's hammock time.

 

But the urge to fiddle, to perfect, is human, and iced tea provides an easy opportunity.

 

Any favorite tea, herbal or otherwise, can be brewed up strong and poured over ice.

 

Beyond that lie the additions of herb-infused sugar syrups and lemonade or limeade.

 

The Big Bowl chain of Asian noodle restaurants specializes in an iced tea colored an inviting ruby, courtesy of the addition of hibiscus blossoms, and sweetened with stevia, an herbal sweetener.

 

"We tweaked it for a long time," said Matt McMillin, Big Bowl's vice president of culinary operations.

 

"We approach beverages the same way we approach other dishes: It's a matter of balance" among sweetness, acidity and color.

 

The success of that tea has led the restaurant to use it as a base for occasional drink specials, from lemonade to vodka cocktails, where it can be substituted for equally colorful cranberry juice.

 

McMillin suggests that home cooks experiment by steeping a favorite dried fruit in the hot water with the loose tea.

 

Another approach:

 

Make a simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, heated until the sugar dissolves) with the addition of sliced fresh ginger, lemon grass or mint leaves, and use it to flavor your usual tea.

 

"Lemon verbena is great to steep in the hot tea before cooling it off," McMillin said.

 

He has used a similar method to impart flavor to the liquid base of homemade granitas, sorbets and ice creams.

 

"The sky's the limit."

 

Here's one more suggestion:

 

Keep the tea preparation simple with hot water and lots of tea for a concentrated brew.

 

Start with China Mist herbal mix, not straight black tea. Try your own hand at sweetening. And don't forget the lemon wedge.

FREEZER FRESH TOMATO SAUCE

 

4 pounds tomatoes, cored

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large sweet onion, peeled and finely chopped

3 medium cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/2 cup dry white or red wine (optional)

1/4 cup tomato paste

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup chopped Italian parsley

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a few tomatoes at a time. Boil 30 to 60 seconds, or until skins begin to crack. Remove with a slotted spoon to a colander. Rinse briefly with cold water.

 

When tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and cut in halves.

 

Squeeze out seeds if desired. Chop tomatoes coarsely.

 

In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic. Cover and cook 10 minutes. Add wine and cook, uncovered, until reduced by half. Add chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 40 to 60 minutes, until sauce has thickened and concentrated. Stir in parsley and pepper.

 

Let cool and ladle into freezer containers, leaving about 3/4-inch headspace. Cover and freeze. Makes about 5 cups.

 

NOTE: Thaw before using. Add seasonings as desired -- Italian seasonings for a pizza or pasta sauce or to top cooked spaghetti, squash or other vegetables; ground cumin and diced green chilies for a sauce for burritos, enchiladas or taco salad; a little cream and chopped dill for a tomato cream sauce for pasta or seafood, etc.

 

GREEN PASTA WITH AVOCADO SAUCE

This is an unusual sauce with a pale green color, studded with red tomato. It has a luxurious velvety texture. The sauce is rich, so you don't need much for a filling meal. Serves 6

3 ripe tomatoes

2 large ripe avocados

2 tbsp butter, plus extra for tossing the:

pasta

1 garlic clove, crushed

1-1/2 cups heavy cream

salt

pepper

dash of Tabasco sauce

1 lb green tagliatelle

freshly grated Parmesan cheese

4 tbsp sour cream

 

1. Halve the tomatoes and remove the cores. Squeeze out the seeds and cut the tomatoes into dice. Set aside.

2. Halve the avocados, take out the pits, and peel. Roughly chop the flesh.

3. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the garlic. Cook for 1 minute, then add the cream and chopped avocados. Raise the heat, stirring constantly to break up the avocados.

4. Add the diced tomatoes and season to taste with salt, pepper, and a little Tabasco sauce. Keep warm.

5. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water according to the manufacturer's instructions. Drain well and toss with a knob of butter.

6. Divide the pasta between 4 warmed bowls and spoon over the sauce. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and top with a spoonful of sour cream.

 

GRILLED CHICKEN MARINATED

IN CUMIN, LEMON AND GARLIC

Serves 4

 

1 1/2 tablespoons cracked white peppercorns

2 teaspoons coarsely ground cumin

1 teaspoon coarsely cracked coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup canola oil

4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest

12 cloves garlic, peeled, mashed to a paste, and sprinkled with coarse salt

2 3-pound free-range chickens, quartered

Coarse salt to taste

 

1. In a sauté pan, combine the peppercorns, cumin, coriander seeds and cinnamon; toast the spices, shaking the pan gently, over medium heat for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Take care not to burn them. Transfer them to a food processor or spice grinder and pulse to blend.

 

2. In a stainless steel mixing bowl, combine the onion, lemon juice, canola oil, parsley, lemon zest and garlic. Season the chicken with the ground spices, then add the chicken pieces to the bowl with the marinade. Mix well. Put the chicken in a dish, cover, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, and ideally overnight.

 

3. Build a charcoal fire in a grill and let the coals burn until covered with white ash. Spread them out in the grill. Lightly oil the grill grate.

 

4. Lift the chicken from the dish and scrape off the excess marinade. Season the chicken with salt, and grill it, turning the pieces several times, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the thigh juices run clear when pricked with a small, sharp knife.

GRILLED SEA SCALLOPS

 

16 large sea scallops (about 11/4 pounds)

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Oil for grill grate

 

Glaze:

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

 

Rinse scallops. In small bowl, combine the olive oil, basil, salt, pepper, honey and lemon juice. Place scallops in a large, resealable plastic bag, add basil mixture, toss to coat and marinate in the refrigerator up to 45 minutes.

 

Preheat the grill on high. When hot, oil the grate well. Remove the scallops from the marinade and thread 4 per skewer. Discard the marinade. In a small bowl, mix together the glaze ingredients; set aside. Grill the scallops until just opaque in the center, 4 to 6 minutes, turning once halfway through grilling. Brush with the glaze during the last 1 to 2 minutes of grilling time. Remove from the grill and serve.

GRILLED TEQUILA LIME SHRIMP

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, unpeeled, deveined

1 cup tequila or orange juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

 

Sauce:

1/2 cup reduced-fat or nonfat sour cream

1/2 reduced-fat or nonfat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Oil for grill grate

Rinse shrimp in cold water. Using scissors or paring knife, cut a slit in the back of each shrimp. Place shrimp in large, re-sealable plastic bag. In a small bowl, mix together the tequila, olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin, black pepper, salt and cilantro. Pour this mixture over the shrimp, tossing to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator up to 45 minutes.

 

In a small bowl, combine the sauce ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Preheat grill on high. Remove shrimp from marinade and thread on skewers. Discard the marinade. When grill is ready, oil the grate well. Grill shrimp until the shells turn pink and the shrimp are just opaque, turning once during grilling. Remove from the grill and serve with the sauce.

 

Note: Sauce also goes well with scallops recipe.

ITALIAN CHICKEN AND PEPPER SANDWICH

 

12 slices sourdough or Italian bread or 6 sandwich-size sourdough or French

bread rolls

Extra-virgin olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

4 cups cooked chicken slices and pieces

3/4 of a 15-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained

6 thin, large slices smoked or regular mozzarella cheese

12 tomato slices

12 to 18 large fresh basil leaves, rinsed, drained and patted dry

 

Place bread slices on a foil-lined baking sheet. Toast under preheated broiler, watching carefully, until lightly browned on just one side.

 

Drizzle all toasted slices with a little oil and vinegar. On each of 6 toasted slices, place 1/6 of chicken slices and pieces, then 1/6 of red peppers, a cheese slice, 2 tomato slices and 2 basil leaves.

 

Close sandwiches with 6 remaining bread slices, toasted sides inside.

 

Return sandwiches to broiler and toast both sides of sandwich until golden. Cut sandwiches in half and serve serve. Makes 6 sandwiches.

ITALIAN STYLE STUFFED TOMATOES

WITH WHITE BEANS

 

4 large ripe tomatoes

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/3 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 (19-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons Italian-flavored bread crumbs

 

Cut off top 1/4 of tomatoes; with a spoon, scoop out most of pulp and seeds; discard. Brush outsides of tomato shells with 1 tablespoon oil; place tomatoes in a microwaveable dish.

 

In a medium skillet, over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil.

 

Add onion; cook and stir until it starts to brown, about 4 minutes.

 

Add garlic and red pepper; cook and stir 30 seconds longer. Stir in beans; heat until hot; stir in 3 tablespoons of cheese. Fill each tomato shell with bean mixture, dividing evenly.

 

In a cup, combine bread crumbs and remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

 

Sprinkle tomatoes with crumbs. Lightly cover and microwave on high until tomatoes are tender but retain their shape, about 4 minutes.

 

Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon cheese. Serve alone as an appetizer or on the side with grilled steak, chicken or fish. Makes 4 servings.

LAMB AND POTATO SKEWERS

Serves 4-6

12 small boiling potatoes

2 pounds lean, boneless lamb, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat fire in a grill.

 

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water to cover until they are barely tender when pierced, about 10 minutes. Drain well and cover with cold water. Let stand about 2 minutes, drain again and pat dry with paper towels. Thread potatoes alternately with lamb onto skewers.

 

In a bowl, whisk oil, rosemary, lemon juice, salt and pepper until blended.

 

Arrange skewers on grill rack. Grill, turning two or three times and brushing with olive-oil mixture, until lamb is tender but still pink at center, 6-8 minutes.

 

Transfer skewers to a warmed platter or individual plates and serve at once.

LEMON ICE CREAM PIE

Serves 8

For corn-flake crumb crust:

1 1/2 cups crushed corn flakes

1/3 cup sugar

Filling

6 tablespoons melted margarine

1 quart vanilla ice cream

6-ounce can frozen lemonade

Glaze

1/3 cup orange marmalade

2 or 3 tablespoons lemon juice

 

To make crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix crushed corn flakes and sugar and press into a 9-inch pie pan. Bake 5 minutes.

 

To prepare filling: Soften ice cream, and mix in frozen lemonade (do not thaw lemonade). Place filling in pie shell. Place pie in freezer while making glaze. Pour glaze over pie and return to freezer until ready to serve. Serve with a sprig of mint, if desired.

LIGHTER ZUCCHINI BREAD

USES SUMMER BOUNTY

ELAINE MAGEE: THE RECIPE DOCTOR

AROUND this time of year, if you are like me, you are graciously accepting bags of zucchini from neighbors who are up to their eyeballs with their summer crop. Facing a mound of zucchini, I did what any Internet lover would do -- I went to one of my favorite recipe Web sites, www.allrecipes.com, and looked up two of their most popular zucchini recipes: Abby's Super Zucchini Loaf and Connie's (Zucchini) Mock Crab Cakes.

 

Any recipe featuring zucchini should be mostly healthful don't you think? It just shouldn't be dripping in oil or egg yolks. So I took these two recipes and cut as much extra fat and calories as possible. I loved the result -- I can't wait for my next zucchini delivery so I can make them again. The Zucchini Loaf is lightened this week, but look for Connie's (Zucchini) Mock Crab Cakes in next week's Recipe Doctor.

 

For the zucchini bread, I cut the oil from 1 cup to 1/3 cup and switched to canola. I made up the 2/3 cup by adding 1/3 cup of maple syrup and 1/3 cup of fat-free sour cream. I then trimmed the sugar back by 1/3 cup since I had added some sugar with the maple syrup. What makes this bread a little different from your everyday zucchini bread is that it calls for extracting the extra water from the grated zucchini using salt and a pressing technique. The zucchini holds its texture well in the batter, and the bread turns out very moist (not gummy).

 

Instead of 11/2 cups chopped walnuts, I used 3/4 cup of chopped macadamia nuts. I happened to have some left over from another recipe project, and I've got to say they complemented the zucchini and cinnamon perfectly.

MACADAMIA BRITTLE

Makes about 1 lb.

 

1 cup unsalted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

 

Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan with aluminum foil. Butter foil generously.

 

Cook nuts, butter, sugar and corn syrup in a heavy large skillet over low heat, stirring until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil until mixture turns golden brown and begins to mass together, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes.

 

Pour into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, let melt. Spread evenly over top.

 

Cool 15 minutes. Remove candy from pan. Peel off foil. Cool completely. Break into pieces.

OATMEAL PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup margarine, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugar

1 cup peanut butter

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup quick-cooking oats

 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

 

2. In a large bowl, cream together shortening, margarine, brown sugar, white sugar and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well blended. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in the oats until just combined. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

 

3. Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until just light brown. Don't over-bake. Cool and store in an airtight container.

PERCIATELLI WITH TOMATOES AND PROSCIUTTO

Serves 6

 

1 (35-ounce) can peeled Italian plum tomatoes

Salt

1 pound of perciatelli (thick spaghetti)

1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1 large yellow onion cut into 1/2-inch slices

2 bay leaves

4 ounces prosciutto, sliced 1/8-inch thick and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips

1/2 teaspoon peperoncino (crushed red pepper)

1 cup grated mild Romano cheese

 

1. Drain the tomatoes and reserve the juice. Cut the tomatoes in quarters lengthwise. Stir the perciatelli into a large pot of boiling, salted water. Stir frequently for the first minute or two, cook until al dente -- tender but firm -- about 12 minutes.

 

2. Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bay leaves and cook until the onions are wilted but still crunchy, about 4 minutes. Add the prosciutto and stir 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, adjust the heat to simmering and cook until the pasta is done.

 

3. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add half the sauce and stir until the sauce is bubbling and the pasta is coated. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the grated cheese. Transfer the pasta to a heated platter or serving bowls and top with the remaining sauce.

PIE MAKING TOOLS

 

By Ann Bokman, ucook.com contributor

 

Baking a pie didn't used to be so difficult. When Europeans first came to America, they made pies with crusts strong enough to act as a cooking pot. Later, New England recipes called for "turn under" pies: sweetened fruit covered by a single crust, broken and stirred into the filling.

 

Nowadays, we wouldn't dream of mixing a crust into its filling. Many of us don't make pies much, either, until holiday time.

 

But if we remember that a pie is more than its flaky exterior, and allow ourselves a veritable disaster now and again, we can make pies from scratch. If the quality of our tools matches the sincerity of our efforts, we will succeed much more often than not.

 

Pie Essentials

 

Dry measures in stainless steel, wet measures in heat tempered glass. Discard measuring spoons with nicks or dents.

 

Gently sloping bowl: Those who cut butter into flour by hand will appreciate the large bottom.

 

Triple mesh sifters: Made of three layers of mesh, the flour need only be sifted twice: once to aerate it and remove lumps, and again to mix it with additional dry ingredients.

 

Sieves not only catch the seeds from fruit pulp and juice, but can be used to sift flour, confectioner's sugar, and cocoa. Keep an assortment of sizes and mesh densities. Less expensive sieves bend out of shape.

 

Graters: Use either a four-sided box grater or a small flat grater. Both should be of stainless steel.

 

Balloon whisks are wonderful for whipping egg whites or heavy cream by hand.

 

Pastry blenders: A practiced hand and six wires rapidly reduce flour and cubed butter into small flour-coated pieces. The wires are pliant for proper press/bounce action, and the four-inch distance between handle and dough separates warm hands from cold ingredients. Look for chromed steel tines of medium thickness fastened securely to the handle.

 

A four-ounce pastry fork's widely spaced tines are superb for cutting butter into flour. You can also use it to pierce holes in an unfilled crust.

Mixers: The most versatile (and expensive) unit is the standing mixer. Use the beater accessory to whip cream or egg whites.

 

Food Processors: Know your machine and adjust accordingly. Timing depends on the model and the age of the machine. Look for a large capacity machine with a motor that sits directly on top of the housing. Check your blades and return them to the manufacturer for sharpening as necessary.

 

Rolling Pins: There are as many pins as there are pie bakers. A straight French pin is most popular with professional pastry chefs. It is of medium weight, barrel- shaped, well-balanced, and inexpensive. With experience, it gives the most even, controlled roll. An American ball bearing pin is a multipurpose, heavyweight pin made from hardwood. Two handles are set on ball bearings for longer, smoother rolling strokes. It is more expensive but easier to use.

 

Rolling surfaces: Almost any hard, flat surface will work. Marble, granite, formica, and wood can be used. Some bakers have good luck with a large wooden pastry board covered by a floured canvas cloth or linen dishtowel.

 

Pastry brushes made from natural boar bristles retain their softness and pliability. Look for bristles sealed in an acrylic or metal band and anchored to a wooden handle. A 1 1/2-inch brush is standard.

 

Pie plates: Ovenproof glass is an excellent heat conductor, browns the bottom crust, and is not easily scratched by the blade of a knife. Glass is also easy to clean and inexpensive. The best metal pans are made from Aluminite, a standard-gauge metal with a dull satin finish that resists stains and retains heat better than shinier surfaces.

 

Tart pans are made from tinned or black steel with removable bottoms. They conduct heat well and produce a golden brown crust.

 

Pie weights prevent an unfilled pie shell from blistering during baking. Called "baking beans" in deference to their predecessor, the legume, they are made in metal or ceramic.

 

The New (or old) and Nifty

 

Flour wand: Squeeze the handle of this old-fashioned coiled wand to release as much or as little flour as you like on your work surface.

 

Pastry frame: This washable cotton frame hooks over the lip of a counter. Flour it, roll out the pie crust, and then roll the frame for storage. Marked with guides for an eight-inch and nine-inch crust.

 

The pastry docker is a five-inch cylinder studded with sharp spikes at 1/2-inch intervals. Use it solely to pierce puff pastry or pie pastry.

 

Pastry crimper: Run around the edges of a pie, this tool's crimping disks lie flush against the cutting wheel and simultaneously press, pinch and cut the dough.

 

Pastry wheels: called "jaggers," resemble a pizza cutter with a zigzag edge. Choose a 4-inch stainless steel wheel for cutting lattice.

 

Lattice cutter: Lay an unbaked crust on top of this 12-inch acrylic grid, run a rolling pin across it, and transfer the lattice to the filled pie.

 

Giant spatula: Forget your pride and use this 10 x 10-inch aluminum spatula to move a rolled crust from the work surface to the pie pan.

 

Pie shield: A ring of strong but lightweight aluminum sits atop the crust's lip to keep the edges from burning.

PILARS SPANAKOPITA

Makes 50 pieces

 

This recipe varies greatly. You can add anything you like. Substitute the spinach with roasted garlic or onions, or if you do not like a certain cheese, try another one. You can also freeze them uncooked for up to six months.

 

1 pound package of phyllo pastry dough

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup feta cheese

1 cup mizithra cheese (a salty Greek cheese available at most supermarkets)

1 10-ounce box frozen spinach, thawed and well-drained

1 stick of unsalted butter, melted, (for glazing)

 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If phyllo was frozen, let thaw for at least half an hour. While it is thawing, mix together cheeses and spinach. Set aside.

 

2 Take one sheet of phyllo and brush lightly with butter. Repeat once more. (Not too much butter, because you are going to glaze the outside after folding.)

 

3. Cut phyllo into 5 lengthwise strips about 2 inches wide.

 

4. Place about 1 teaspoon of cheese mixture on one end of strip. Fold into triangles (like folding a flag). Butter outside edges to hold together.

 

5. Keep reserved phyllo covered with damp cloth while working. Repeat until all the dough and/or cheese mixture is gone.

 

6. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 16-20 minutes or until golden brown. Bake about a dozen at a time.

RASPBERRY AND CHOCOLATE CREPES

Serves 4

8 chocolate crepes

8 ounces ricotta cheese

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

12 ounces fresh raspberries

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons melted butter

Chocolate sauce

1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons framboise , cognac or other liqueur

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 

To prepare filling, stir 1/4 cup sugar into ricotta and set aside. Mash 1/4 cup berries with fork and mix with 2 tablespoons of sugar and lemon juice. Stir in remaining berries and set aside.

 

Spread about 2 tablespoons of cheese mixture over each crepe and fold in half, then in half again, to form triangles. Arrange on a greased, heat-proof platter and brush with butter and remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake 10 minutes.

 

To prepare chocolate sauce: Combine ingredients and heat over double-boiler or in microwave, stirring occasionally to blend, until chocolate has melted.

 

After removing crepes from oven, top with raspberries and chocolate sauce and serve.

RED ROBIN(r) SMOOTHIES

from Top Secret Recipes:

Chillin' Mango Smoothie

 

This drink is offered as a special limited-time-only summer refresher.

The chain uses a special mango mix made by Torani, the same company that

makes those flavoring syrups often found in coffee shops. But since this

special ingredient can be hard to come by we'll substitute canned mango,

which is usually found chilled in jars near the produce.

 

3/4 cup canned mango slices, with juice

3/4 ounce grenadine

1/4 cup orange juice

1 cup ice

 

Garnish

orange wedge

maraschino cherry

 

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender on high speed and mix until smooth.

2. Pour into a 12-ounce glass then add an orange slice and maraschino cherry

speared on a toothpick. Serve with a straw.

 

Makes one drink.

 

Groovy Smoothie

 

The strawberries used for this drink come in a small box in the freezer

section. These berries work great because when thawed they wind up swimming

in juicy sweet syrup. The restaurant adds to the drink a special blend of

apple, raspberry and blackberry juices called "groovy mix," but we can still

create an excellent clone by using a blend of apple and berry juices made by

Langer's. If you can't find that brand, use any berry juice blend you can

get your hands on.

 

1/3 cup frozen sweetened sliced strawberries, thawed

1/2 ripe banana

1/3 cup Langer's berry juice (a blend of berry and apple juices)

1/4 cup Kern's Peach Nectar

1/2 cup ice

1/2 cup vanilla ice cream

 

Garnish

orange wedge

maraschino cherry

 

1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high speed until smooth.

Pour into a 16-ounce glass.

2. Add an orange wedge and a maraschino cherry speared on a toothpick. Serve

with a straw. (http://www.topsecretrecipes.com) Makes one drink.

SOUTHWESTERN CHICKEN

 

3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

Vegetable oil spray

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup chunky tomato salsa

 

Heat a medium-size nonstick skillet on medium high. Cut the breasts into two 6-ounce portions and flatten the chicken with the bottom of a heavy skillet or the palm of your hand to about - 1/2-inch thick. Spray the skillet with vegetable oil spray and add chicken. Brown 2 minutes; turn and brown 2 more minutes. Salt and pepper top side. Lower the heat to medium low and spoon the salsa over each chicken portion.

 

Cover with a lid and cook 5 minutes. Serve with salsa on top and tortilla salad on the side. Makes 2 servings.

 

SOY BRAISED PORK BITS WITH SHIITAKES

Serves 4

 

1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil

1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless pork, cut into 11/2-inch chunks

10 nickel-thick slices peeled ginger

6 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup mirin or 2 tablespoons honey (or additional sugar)

2 cups stemmed, sliced shiitakes

White rice.

 

1. Put oil in a large, deep skillet and turn heat to high. A minute later, add pork and cook, undisturbed, until nicely browned on one side, 3 to 5 minutes. Shake the pan or use tongs to turn, then toss in the ginger and garlic.

 

2. A minute later, add soy sauce, sugar and 1/2 cup water, along with mirin, honey or sugar. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer about 30 minutes, until pork is fairly tender. Add shiitakes, stir, and cook about 10 more minutes, until pork is quite tender.

 

3. Uncover, raise heat to high, and cook, turning pieces frequently, until liquid is reduced to a saucy consistency. Discard ginger and garlic if you like, and serve over white rice.

SPICED APRICOT AND OATMEAL BREAD

Makes 1 loaf

 

1 cup water

2 tablespoons margarine, butter or vegetable oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons grated orange or lemon rind

3 cups bread flour

1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

11/2 tablespoons wheat germ, optional

11/4 teaspoon bread-machine or instant yeast

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2/3 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots

 

1. Add all ingredients except apricots to machine according to manufacturer's directions. Select basic white bread cycle.

 

2. Add apricots at ingredient signal (or about 20 to 30 minutes into kneading cycle.

SPICY KALE AND TOFU

Serves 6

3 tablespoons vegetable oil or light olive oil

1/2 cup sun-dried peppers or tomatoes

2 green onions, sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger

2 bunches kale, cleaned and chopped coarsely

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon dried chili flakes

1 pound firm tofu

 

In a large pan, heat olive oil. Add peppers or tomatoes, onion, garlic, ginger and kale. Saute over medium-low heat about 5 minutes or until kale wilts.

 

In a medium bowl, mix sugar, soy sauce and chili flakes. Meanwhile, drain or press as much water as possible from tofu. Cut into cubes and toss with soy mixture. Add to pan with wilted greens, along with any juices. Saute briefly, just enough to heat tofu.

SPINACH AND MUSHROOM CREPES

Serves 4

8 buckwheat crepes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

1 large bunch spinach, roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram OR 1 tablespoon fresh, minced

1 cup small curd cottage cheese

1/4 pound Gruyère cheese, grated (about 1 1/4 cup)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon butter, melted

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 

In a large frying pan, sauté onion and garlic in oil over medium heat until soft. Add mushrooms and sauté until they begin to get limp. Add spinach and sauté about 1 minute or until it begins to wilt. Cover with lid and steam 2 or 3 minutes.

 

Remove lid and sauté until mixture is almost dry. Stir in marjoram. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. Stir in cottage cheese and 1 cup Gruyère.

 

Spread about 1/3 cup spinach mixture over half of each crepe and roll, or place filling in center and fold all four sides over into a square packet.

 

Place in greased baking dish. Brush with butter and sprinkle with remaining Gruyère.

 

Bake 10 or 15 minutes, until cheese has melted and begun to brown, and serve.

SUNSHINE SALAD

 

5 cups (packed) spinach leaves, washed and dried well

1/2 red onion, sliced thin

1/2 red pepper, sliced

1 whole cucumber, sliced (peel the cucumber if the skin has a waxy coating)

2 oranges, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces

1/3 cup of bottled "lite" vinaigrette dressing (around 15 calories per tablespoon

or less)

 

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss again. Serve immediately.

SWEDISH CARDAMOM SPICE CAKE

Serves 10

 

1 stick (1/2 cup) plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter

10 vanilla wafer cookies, crushed into crumbs

1 3/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup sour cream

Confectioners' sugar

 

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch tube pan with 2 teaspoons of the butter; dust with cookie crumbs. Set aside. Combine flour and baking soda in small bowl; set aside.

 

2. Cream remaining butter and sugar until light and fluffy in bowl of electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition, about 5 minutes total. Beat in cardamom and cinnamon. Add flour; beat until just combined. Add sour cream; beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour batter into pan.

 

3. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before turning onto wire rack; cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar.

SWEET POTATO BREAD II

 

3 sweet potatoes

3 cups white sugar

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup orange juice

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

 

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Wash sweet potatoes, slice lengthwise and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until tender, about 30 minutes. Let cool, peel and mash.

2 In a large mixing bowl, beat together sugar, eggs and oil. Stir in orange juice and 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Stir flour mixture into egg/sweet potato mixture until just combined. Fold in pecans if desired. Pour batter into prepared pans.

3 Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour 25 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into center of a loaf comes out clean.

TEA LEMONADE

2 quarts plus 3/4 cup water

5 level tablespoons black tea or 6 tea bags

3/4 cup each: sugar, fresh lemon juice

1 package (10 ounces) frozen strawberries, optional

Mint sprigs for garnish

 

Heat 2 quarts water to boil. Remove from heat; stir in tea or tea bags. Let steep 5 minutes. Strain or remove tea bags. Meanwhile, make the sugar syrup by combining remaining 3/4 cup water and sugar in small saucepan. Heat to simmer; cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool. Stir sugar solution, lemon juice and strawberries, if using, into tea. Pour into ice-filled glasses; garnish with mint.

TEA SMOKED SHRIMP

WITH SWEET-AND- HOT PEPPER RELISH

Serves 4-6

For relish:

3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper

3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For shrimp:

2 black or green tea bags

2 pounds large shrimp

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

To prepare relish: In a small bowl, combine peppers and onion. In a small saucepan over high heat, combine vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, salt and cayenne. Bring just to a boil; pour over pepper-onion mixture and stir to combine. Let cool, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days before serving.

 

To prepare shrimp: Prepare fire in a covered grill.

 

Soak tea bags in cold water to cover for 10-15 minutes. Peel shrimp, leaving last shell segment with tail fin intact. Devein and pat dry. In a large bowl, toss shrimp, olive oil, salt and pepper.

 

By hand, squeeze tea bags to remove any excess water, then drop them onto fire. Arrange shrimp on grill rack, cover, open vents halfway and cook about 3 minutes. Turn shrimp, re-cover, and cook until pink, 3-4 minutes longer.

 

Transfer shrimp to warmed individual plates and serve at once. Pass relish at table.

THE NOSE KNOWS WAY TO GOOD OLD DAYS

By William Rice, CHICAGO TRIBUNE

A sniff of a cheese sandwich on the griddle pulls television commercial producer Lisa von Drehle back to a childhood conflict with her health-conscious mother. The memory of stew simmering in his mother's kitchen, triggered by odors wafting from a stockpot, inspires chef Allen Sternweiler to create "my favorite dish ever." Preparing a meat loaf, author Nancy Hutchens is struck by the vision of Aunt Esther, author of the meat loaf, defending her as a child.

 

For Tony Kramer, one of nine children, the smell of chicken cooked by his mother brings back moments of family harmony at the dinner table. Preparing a "contemporary incarnation" of an old-fashioned slaw recipe, restaurateur Barbara Shinn finds herself recalling the women of her family who shaped and altered the recipe over the years. Stirring bread dough, advertising executive Cate Erickson is momentarily again a 5-year-old comforted by the smell of baking bread.

 

These all are memories of food, and all of them are triggered to some degree by smell.

 

"Many authorities believe that the sense of smell has a more powerful impact upon the emotions than any of the other senses," says Dr. Alan R. Hirsch, a pioneer in research on memories triggered by smell. This is the button novelist Marcel Proust inadvertently pushed when he sniffed a spoonful of tea in which lay some cake crumbs and evoked his remembrance of things past.

 

Hirsch, neurological director of the Smell & Taste Research and Treatment Foundation in Chicago, talks of "flash-bulb memories," so vivid are the re-creations.

Sniff and Revert

Jacques Pepin, the French chef and television personality, adds: "It's immediate, unexpected and very powerful. You come into a kitchen, sniff something and suddenly you are 5 years old again." And Diane Ackerman, in her book "A Natural History of the Senses," writes "smell needs no interpreter. The effect is immediate, and undiluted by language, thought or translation."

 

This is because smell works somewhat differently than the other senses. As Hirsch explains it in a recently published book, "What Flavor Is Your Personality?," odor molecules are drawn into the nostrils each time we inhale. Moving at lightning speed, they race through a number of gateways and along corridors located directly behind the bridge of the nose to reach the limbic lobe of the brain, also known as the emotional brain.

 

"No other sensory receptors or processors have their home in the limbic center of the brain," Hirsch writes. "The sense of smell stands alone as a direct link to the emotional responses and emotional life."

 

This means odor molecules can dash right into the space occupied by emotions such as love and hate and moods such as anxiety and pleasure. They trigger an involuntary, immediate response. The reaction comes first, even before we have identified the source of the odor. Thus a frown of displeasure may turn to a smile when we finally see a piece of cheese whose pungent odor has preceded it to the table. "It's supposed to smell that way," we say to ourselves.

 

This becomes even more significant, Hirsch explains, when we consider that "smell may account for more than 90 percent of the sense we call taste."

The Palate Path

As we chew, odor molecules from the food follow a route that begins at the back of the throat behind the soft palate to the olfactory nerves, reinforcing what the nose has learned. Add signals from the taste buds, located on the tongue and soft palate, and tactile sensations such as texture and temperature (sometimes called mouthfeel), and you have "flavor," the scientists say.

 

Taste "in the strict sense," David V. Smith and Robert F. Margolskee explain in the March issue of Scientific American, "is limited to perception of saltiness, sourness, sweetness and bitterness, and perhaps the glutamate-inspired sensation called umami." Smell and taste, known as the chemical senses, are far less developed in humans than in animals -- perhaps, scientists theorize, because vision and hearing, which are processed through the rational side of the brain, the cortex, are more important in a society of humans. Furthermore, smell is emotional. It does not have to be rational.

 

Combine this loose-cannon element with the realization that another area to which odor molecules have direct access is the storehouse of memories. From here come the odor-inspired flash-bulb recollections Hirsch and others cite.

 

A study Hirsch conducted, asking nearly 1,000 people, "Do any particular odors remind you of your childhood?" brought an 85 percent positive response. "Food and cooking" were cited by 38.9 percent of the participants, with fresh baked goods the odor mentioned most often. Odors from nature, such as trees, rain and hay, rated 31.6 percent. No other odor -- including smoke and soap -- rated even 7 percent. (Curiously, pleasant odors are not as insistent as foul odors. We may lean forward, the better to inhale the odors from a flower, but will be repelled by a foul odor and seek to escape it.)

 

Idealized Past

Nostalgia, meanwhile, is playing with our psyches, Hirsch says. It is not just a yearning for the past, but "a longing for an idealized state, a sanitized impression of the past ... with all negative emotions filtered out." It is a "bittersweet" emotion because it represents a return to a past that "never truly existed." That explains why the food served at the re-creation of a long-ago dinner party can be curiously unsatisfying.

 

For some, a food odor may evoke no sweet, only bitter. For example, while a whiff of pumpkin pie spice mix or hot turkey stuffing triggers nostalgic recollections of Thanksgiving dinner in many of us, it may cause an opposite reaction in those with dysfunctional families.

 

Another rude shock: Only 61 percent of participants ages 60 or older said they had experienced olfactory-evoked recall. Among those under 60, the rate was 87 percent. Of course the elderly, many of whom suffer memory loss as well as the loss of the ability to smell, may have smell-inspired visions of things past -- and then forget them.

 

Those under 60 had a burden of their own to carry. Their attacks of nostalgia often were brought on by artificial odors such as Play-Doh and plastic, while the oldsters cited natural odors such as sea air and pine.

 

Therefore, as the young inherit the role of taste arbitrators, will food memories be linked increasingly to artificial flavors?

 

That seems unlikely when, in many restaurants if not homes, real mashed potatoes and pristine vegetables are providing fresh food memories for a new generation.

TOMATO AND GARLIC SAUCE

Enough for 4 people

 

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

8 garlic cloves, crushed

3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cored, peeled and seeded, or 1 (35-ounce) can

peeled Italian plum tomatoes, seeded and lightly crushed with their liquid

Salt

Peperoncino (crushed red pepper)

10 fresh basil leaves, washed, dried and roughly torn

 

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until lightly browned. Add the tomatoes and their liquid, and bring to a boil. Season with salt and peperoncino.

 

2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer. While the tomatoes are cooking, break them up with a whisk until the sauce is chunky and thick -- about 20 minutes. About 5 minutes before the sauce is finished, stir in the basil.

TOMATO ARTICHOKE RICE SALAD

 

1 (6-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 cups cooked, cold rice

1 1/2 pounds (3 large) fresh tomatoes, seeded, diced and drained

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1 (53/4-ounce) can pitted whole ripe olives, drained and cut in quarters

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

 

Drain artichoke hearts, reserving marinade. Roughly slice artichoke hearts lengthwise; reserve. Combine lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Beat in reserved marinade. Gently combine dressing with rice, artichoke hearts and remaining ingredients. Makes 6 servings.

TOMATO MOZZARELLA AND BASIL SALAD

6 assorted large tomatoes (yellow, gold, etc.) cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch slices

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

 

Alternate slices of tomato and mozzarella on a serving plate, overlapping slightly in rings.

 

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and vinegar. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle vinaigrette over tomatoes, and garnish with basil leaves. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

TOMATO SALSA FIESTA

 

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 3/4 pounds fresh tomatoes (about 4 medium) peeled, seeded, finely diced

and drained

1 cup diced red onion

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

1 whole jalapeño or Anaheim chili (seeds removed), finely chopped

Combine garlic, lime juice, cumin and salt; beat in oil. Gently toss with remaining ingredients. Marinate at room temperature 1 hour or several hours in refrigerator. Serve with chips or on top of tostada salad or with grilled steak. Makes about 3 cups. Note: Wear Gloves while working with chili peppers.

TOMATO SAUCE

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped onion

3 cups cubed tomatoes

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped very fine

1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)

1/2 teaspoon chopped serrano (hot) pepper (optional)

 

First, peel and seed tomatoes: Remove stem using the point of a knife. Fully immerse the tomatoes in boiling water and let sit for about 20 seconds. Transfer tomatoes to a basin of cold water. When cold enough to handle, remove tomatoes. Skin should slip off easily. Cut tomato into halves widthwise and press gently to extrude seeds. Cut coarsely into 1 inch cubes.

 

Heat oil in saucepan. When hot, add onion and sauté 1 minute. Add tomato cubes, salt and pepper to taste. Cook on high for 5-6 minutes. Add garlic. Add tomato paste if tomatoes are too watery or too pale in color. Cook 3-4 minutes more, taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Add pepper if using.

TORTILLA SALAD

serves 2

 

4 cups shredded iceberg lettuce

1 cup rinsed and drained black beans

2 tablespoons shredded low-fat Monterey Jack cheese

2 tablespoons low-fat oil and vinegar dressing

1 cup broken tortilla chips

 

Toss iceberg lettuce and black beans together in a salad bowl.

 

Add cheese and dressing and toss to mix. Sprinkle tortilla chips on top.

UNCOOKED TOMATO SAUCE

 

6 medium to large tomatoes, cut into large chunks

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

2 to 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 to 5 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and black pepper to taste

Tabasco sauce to taste (optional)

 

Drain off and discard any liquid from tomatoes. Mix tomatoes with all remaining ingredients. Let mixture stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Toss with hot pasta and top with grated Romano or Parmesan cheese. Makes about 8 cups sauce.

 

SHALOM FROM SPIKE & JAMIE



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