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

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Recipes from Spike & Jamie

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How to use these pages:  Below is a list of the recipes on this page.  You can either scroll down the page and look at all of the recipes, or look at the titles.  When you find one that seems interesting, use your web browsers FIND function to take you directly to that recipe (on my IE browser it's Edit/Find (on this page)   or Ctrl - F on your keyboard).

ALLA CHECCA

BAKED TOMATOES AND CORN

BARTLETT PEAR AND COUSCOUS SALAD

BEEF AND BROCCOLI WITH GARLIC SAUCE

BLACK AND WHITE BEAN SOUP

BRAISED DUCK LEGS

BULK BREAKFAST SAUSAGE

BURGER CASSEROLE

CAULIFLOWER WITH LEMON TARRAGON

CHERRY CLAFOUTI

CHICKEN GUMBO

CHICKEN IN A SPICY SAUCE

COLD TOMATO BASIL SOUP

CONFIT OF TUNA WITH ONION CONFIT

CORN AND CLAM CHOWDER

CROCK POT CHILI

DAL INFORMATION

EASY STRAWBERRY CUSTARD CAKE

ENGLISH STYLE BRAISED BEEF

FIG and ORANGE TART

FIRST NIGHT THAI SHRIMP AND NOODLES.

FRUIT CRUMBLE

FUSS FREE SWISS STEAK

GARDEN PASTA SALAD

GARLIC BROTH

GLACÉ FRUITS

GRILLED BABY BACK RIBS

GRILLED CHICKEN SKEWERS

HEAVENLY YAM DELIGHT

HOME MADE SAUSAGE

HOT FUDGE PUDDING CAKE

HOT OIL TREATMENT

ITALIAN CHICKEN AND POTATOES

KHANDHA BHAJI

KING RANCH ORIGINAL RECIPE CASSEROLE

KITCHIDI

KOSIMBRI MOONG

MINESTRONE VERDE

OLIVE OIL POACHED SALMON

OVEN TO CROCK POT CONVERSION

PALAKACHI AAMTI

PANCAKES FOR DINNER

PEACH DELIGHT

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY MUFFINS

PORK LOIN WITH SQUASH

PORTOBELLO REUBENS

PORTOBELLO SANDWICHES

POTATO LEEK SOUP

POTATO SALAD VINAIGRETTE

SALMON SALAD WITH CREOJA SAUCE

SEVERAL APPETIZERS

SPICED APPLE OATMEAL

STOVE TOP TAMALE PIE

STUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS

SUMMER GAZPACHO

SUMMERTIME CORN CHOWDER

SUPER SIMPLE CRAB SALAD

SUSHI CHEFS

SZECHUAN DRY BRAISED PRAWNS

SZECHUAN TOFU

TACO SOU

TASTY BEEF AND NOODLES

TOFU TORTILLA CASSEROLE

TOMATO SOUP

VEGETARIAN HERO SANDWICH

 

 

ALLA CHECCA

(classic raw tomato sauce)

 

5 tomatoes, cored and diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt

grated Parmesan cheese

 

Combine tomatoes, garlic, basil and olive oil in medium bowl. Add salt to taste, cover with plastic wrap and let sit on counter at least 2 or as long as 10 hours. Pour over hot pasta and add grated Parmesan to taste.

 

Makes enough for 1 pound of pasta.

BAKED TOMATOES AND CORN

Makes 12 hearty servings

10 large, ripe tomatoes

10 cups corn kernels, scraped from about

2 dozen young and tender ears

1 cup unsalted butter, melted (2 sticks)

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup whipping cream (or chicken broth)

2 cups fine bread crumbs

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

 

Plunge tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds, then slip off the skins. Core and slice tomatoes. Line a 3-quart baking pan with the slices. Spread some corn over the tomatoes.

 

Mix together butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg, drizzling some over the tomatoes. Continue layering until corn and tomatoes are used up, but save a little of the butter mixture for the top.

 

Pour cream or broth evenly over layers, then sprinkle bread crumbs over the top and drizzle with remaining butter mixture.

 

Bake for 30 minutes or until crumbs are brown and the casserole is bubbling.

 

 

 

BARTLETT PEAR AND COUSCOUS SALAD

Makes 6 servings

Salad:

2 cups water

1 tablespoon butter

1 10-ounce box unflavored couscous

2 to 3 large, ripe Bartlett pears, cored, quartered and thinly sliced

4 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

2 green onions, sliced

1 cup chopped fresh spinach

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted (see note)

Dressing:

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons dry sherry

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

 

To make salad: In a medium saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil. Stir in couscous; cover, remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and chill well. Add pears, bacon, green onions, spinach, bell pepper and toasted almonds to chilled couscous.

 

To make dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sherry, sugar, sesame oil, ginger and garlic powder. Pour over salad, tossing to mix well. Cover and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least 1 hour.

 

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

BEEF AND BROCCOLI WITH GARLIC SAUCE

 

1/2 pound beef boneless sirloin or round steak

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash white pepper

1 pound broccoli -- cut into flowerets and 1 × 1/2-inch pieces (4 cups)

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4 cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic (6 cloves)

1 teaspoon finely chopped gingerroot

2 tablespoons brown bean paste

1 (8 ounce) can sliced bamboo shoots -- drained

2 cups hot cooked rice

 

Trim fat from beef. Cut beef lengthwise into 2-inch strips. Cut strips crosswise into 1/8-inch slices. Toss beef with salt and white pepper. Place broccoli in 1 inch boiling water; heat to boiling. Cover and cook 2 minutes. Immediately rinse with cold water; drain. Mix cornstarch and soy sauce; stir in sesame oil and broth.

 

Spray nonstick wok or 12-inch skillet with nonstick cooking spray; heat over

medium-high heat until cooking spray starts to bubble. Add beef; stir-fry about 2 minutes or until brown. Remove beef from wok. Cool wok slightly. Wipe clean and respray. Add oil and rotate wok to coat sides. Heat over medium-high heat. Add garlic, gingerroot and bean paste; stir-fry 30 seconds. Add bamboo shoots; stir-fry 20 seconds. Stir in beef and broccoli. Stir in cornstarch mixture; cook and stir about 30 seconds or until thickened. Serve over rice. Yield: 4 servings.

BLACK AND WHITE BEAN SOUP

 

1 cup dried black beans -- washed and picked over

1 cup dried white beans -- washed and picked over

8 cups water

4 slices bacon -- coarsely chopped

2 large onions -- diced

2 carrots -- peeled, and diced

2 cloves garlic -- minced

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1 large tomato -- diced

2 bay leaves

2 canned chipotle chilies (optional)

6 cups vegetable stock

1 lime -- halved

1/2 cup Madeira wine

 

Place the black beans in a medium saucepan with 4 cups of the water and

bring to a boil. Place the white beans in another medium saucepan with

remaining 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and

cook until both pots of beans are soft, about 1 hour. Remove from the heat.

 

In another large saucepan, sauté 2 slices of the bacon over medium heat

until crispy. Remove bacon, saving grease in pan. Add 1/2 of the diced

onions and all of the carrots and cook over medium low heat until onions are

lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Then add 1/2 of the garlic and 1/2

teaspoon of the salt, stirring constantly, until the garlic aroma is

released, 12 minutes. Stir in the black beans and their liquid, along with

the tomato, 1 bay leaf and 1 chipotle chili. Pour in 3 cups of the vegetable

stock. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook,

uncovered, stirring occasionally, an additional 30 minutes.

 

Repeat the entire procedure with the white beans, using the remaining bacon,

onion, garlic, salt, bay leaf, chipotle chili and stock.

 

Remove bay leaves and transfer black bean mixture to a blender in batches

and purée until smooth, pulsing the machine on and off until it begins to

liquefy. (Be sure to leave space for the air to escape). Return to a clean

saucepan. Rinse out blender and repeat with white bean mixture.

 

Reheat soups over low heat, squeeze half of a lime into each and 1/4 cup of

Madeira into saucepans and stir to blend. Adjust seasoning.

 

Using two ladles, carefully ladle the two soups side by side into one bowl,

so that half is black and half is white. Garnish with salsa. Yield: 6

servings.

BRAISED DUCK LEGS

Serves 4

For braised duck:

4 duck legs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon herbes de Provence

3 cups pinot noir, heated

For sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 shallot, minced

1 thyme sprig

1 bay leaf

8 cups duck or chicken stock, heated

For succotash:

2 cups fresh shell beans, such as lima or cranberry

1/2 onion

1 bay leaf

2 thyme sprigs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 small red onion, diced

Kernels cut from 2 corn ears

2 large handfuls green beans and yellow wax beans, blanched and cut into 1/2-

inch lengths

1 garlic clove, minced

Juice of 1 lemon

For serving:

2 handfuls arugula

 

To prepare duck: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Season duck legs with salt, pepper and herbes de Provence. Put legs in a pan that will just hold them comfortably. Roast for 1 hour, then pour off and reserve any rendered fat. Pour wine over legs. It should be just deep enough so meat is immersed but skin is exposed. Cook legs 30 more minutes, or until skin is golden red.

 

To prepare sauce: In a small saucepan, heat olive oil and cook shallot until lightly colored. Add thyme, bay leaf and 2 cups duck stock. Reduce by half, add 2 more cups stock. Skim scum frequently. Continue until all stock has been added. Add 1 cup braising liquid and reduce to a spoon-coating consistency. Strain through a fine strainer. Keep sauce warm.

 

To prepare succotash: Cook shell beans in water to cover with onion, bay leaf and thyme for about 25 minutes (1 hour if using dried beans), or until tender. Drain and season with salt, pepper and olive oil while warm. Heat butter in a saute pan. Add red onion and brown lightly. Add corn and cook over medium heat until just tender. Add green and yellow beans and shell beans. Add garlic, season with salt and pepper; add lemon juice to taste.

 

To serve: Dress arugula in a little of the reserved duck fat (or with olive oil, if you prefer). Serve braised legs with sauce spooned over and succotash and arugula on the side.

BULK BREAKFAST SAUSAGE

 

5 Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp ground white pepper

2 Tbsp rubbed sage

1 tsp ginger

1 Tbsp nutmeg

1 Tbsp ground red hot pepper (optional)

1 pint ice water

10 pounds pork

 

The best results is 100% pork butt, but that gets to be expensive. A good quality sausage can also be made 50/50 pork butt and pork trimmings (like stew meat). Grind all the meat with a 3/8" plate grinder. Mix in all the ingredients until evenly distributed. You put it in quart freezer containers and freeze. To serve, thaw the night before in the refrigerator and fry patties.

 

BURGER CASSEROLE

 

1 lb. ground meat

1 can diced tomatoes 12oz can

1 onion

1 gr. pepper

1 1/2 cup cooked noodles

1 cup broccoli

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 can golden mushroom soup

1 can cream of celery soup

1/2 can milk

1 can French's fried onions

 

Spray a large skillet with Pam and cook onion and green pepper until soft. Add ground meat and cook until no longer pink. Add spices. Add tomatoes, broccoli and noodles. Combine soups and milk in bowl and then add to meat. Mix all together and put in casserole sprayed with Pam. Cook in 350 oven for 30 minutes and then top with French's fried onions and cook 5 minutes more.

Serves 3-4

CAULIFLOWER WITH LEMON TARRAGON

CHEESE CRUST

 

1 medium head of cauliflower (a whole head of broccoli may be substituted)

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp lemon zest

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/8 tsp white pepper

2 tbsp minced fresh tarragon (or 2 tsp dried)

1 cup (about 2 ounces) grated Cheddar cheese

 

Steam the whole head of cauliflower for 15 minutes, until barely done. Cool slightly. Combine the remaining ingredients, except cheese. Spread the mayonnaise mixture over the cauliflower and pat the cheese onto the

mayonnaise-coated head of cauliflower. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree F

oven for 10 minutes. Cool for a few minutes to allow cheese to set.

Slice into 6 wedges.

 

 

 

CHERRY CLAFOUTI

Makes 8 servings

11/2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (divided)

1 pound dark sweet cherries, pitted

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (divided)

4 eggs

Small pinch salt

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup 1 percent milk

1/4 cup kirsch

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

 

Grease a shallow 10-inch porcelain or earthenware dish with 1/4-inch sides with 11/2 teaspoons butter. Spread cherries in a single layer in the dish.

 

In a mixing bowl whisk together 1/2 cup granulated sugar, eggs, and salt until well-blended. Sift in the flour, stirring at the same time with the whisk. Whisk in the milk and kirsch. Pour the mixture over the cherries.

 

Cut the remaining 1 tablespoon butter into shavings and scatter over the surface. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.

 

Bake until the surface is golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let cool 15 to 30 minutes and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm.

CHICKEN GUMBO

 

2 tbsp. vegetable shortening

2 tbsp flour

2 onions, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, finely chopped

5 cups warm chicken broth

8 tomatoes, peeled, chopped (or 1 lg. can)

1/2 lb. okra cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1/2 cup uncooked rice

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. thyme

1 bay leaf

1 broiler-fryer chicken, cooked

Make a roux: in a large Dutch oven, melt the shortening over LOW HEAT, if

this burns, start over, add flour a little at a time, cook and stir until brown, not burnt, about 10 minutes. Add onions and bell pepper, cook until translucent; about 5 minutes. Slowly add warm broth, stir until it comes to a boil. Add tomatoes, okra, rice, celery, salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaf; bring to a boil.

Add chicken. When mixture boils again, reduce heat to low, cover and cook

about 20 more minutes. Stir and cook covered about 20 minutes longer, or until it becomes a heavier soup.

CHICKEN IN A SPICY SAUCE

1 (3 1/2-pound) large frying chicken (about 3-1/2 to 4 pounds)

1 leek -- trimmed, washed, and chopped

1 medium onion -- peeled and chopped

1 medium carrot -- peeled and chopped

1 tomato -- chopped

2 teaspoons coarse salt

1 tablespoon peppercorns

2 bay leaves

2 cups soft bread crumbs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup olive oil

2 onions -- finely chopped

2 cloves garlic -- minced

1 teaspoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon yellow Aji, Amarillo or chili powder

1/3 cup walnuts -- finely chopped, or ground

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 pounds small potatoes -- boiled, peeled, and halved

4 hard-boiled eggs -- halved

Chopped parsley for garnish

Place chicken in a large pot and fill with water to halfway up sides of bird. Add leek, onion, carrot, tomato, salt, peppercorns and bay leaves. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, or until chicken is done. Remove chicken and place in a bowl until cool enough to remove the meat from the bones and shred into bite-size pieces. Meanwhile, strain broth and reserve 4 cups.

Soak the bread crumbs in the milk. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and sauté for 1 more minute. Add softened bread and aji or chili powder, and cook for about 1 minute, stirring. (For a creamier sauce, place onion-bread mixture in a blender, purée until smooth and return to skillet.) Add 2 cups of the chicken stock and continue cooking until sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken and simmer for 5 to 8 more minutes, adding more stock if needed. Stir in the walnuts and Parmesan cheese, and simmer gently for

another 5 minutes, or until thickened slightly. To serve, spoon chicken and

sauce onto a serving platter and surround with potatoes and eggs. Sprinkle

with chopped parsley. Yield: 6 servings.

 

COLD TOMATO BASIL SOUP

Makes about 2 quarts

3 pounds tomatoes, peeled and chopped (41/2 cups; see note)

4 cups chicken broth

2 yellow onions, chopped

1/4 cup tomato puree

1/4 cup finely minced fresh basil

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

About 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

About 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Salt to taste

Whole fresh basil leaves and cherry tomatoes, or shredded mozzarella cheese

tossed with olive oil and minced basil (optional garnish)

 

Combine the tomatoes, chicken broth, onions, tomato puree, minced basil and sugar in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until very soft. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

 

Puree the mixture in food processor (alternatively, if you want to remove the seeds, push the tomato mixture through a strainer). Add balsamic vinegar, hot pepper sauce and salt to taste. Chill until ready to serve.

 

To garnish, add a small sprig of fresh basil and a cherry tomato or coarsely shredded mozzarella, tossed with chopped basil and a small amount of extra-virgin olive oil.

 

Note: To peel tomatoes, plunge into boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove immediately and plunge into cold water. Skin should slip off easily.

 

To freeze: Pour the cooled soup into freezer containers (leave about 1 inch of head room for rigid containers, 1/2 inch for bags, to accommodate expansion), seal and freeze. Thaw in refrigerator.

CONFIT OF TUNA WITH ONION CONFIT

Serves 4

For onion confit:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 bay leaf

5 juniper berries, lightly crushed

3 large yellow onions, cut into 8 wedges

3/4 cup dry red wine

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For lemon vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For sauce verte:

1 clove garlic, smashed

1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

2 teaspoons salt-packed capers, rinsed OR drained vinegar-brined capers

3 anchovy fillets, drained

3 tablespoons coarsely cut fresh chives

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon green peppercorns, drained

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1 teaspoon Champagne vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

Kosher salt to taste

For tuna confit:

2 tablespoons cardamom pods

4 (5-ounce) tuna fillets, 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick

3 to 4 cups olive oil or grape-seed oil

For endive salad:

4 heads Belgian endive, cored and cut into thin diagonal slivers

1/2 cup watercress leaves

 

To make onion confit: In a small saucepan, combine butter, bay leaf and juniper berries. Melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 15 minutes. Add wine, salt and pepper. Cover and cook, about 30 minutes. Uncover and reduce until syrupy, about 15 minutes. Keep warm or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

 

To make lemon vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice and olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Set aside or refrigerate for up to 1 day.

To make sauce verte: In a food processor or blender, puree all ingredients except olive oil and salt, scraping down sides of container once or twice. With machine running, gradually add oil to make sauce the consistency of thin mayonnaise. Add a little water if necessary to thin. Season with salt. Transfer to a bowl, cover and set aside. Refrigerate up to 4 hours.

 

To make tuna confit: In a small, dry pan over medium heat, toast cardamom pods 3 to 4 minutes. Let cool. Remove seeds from pods and coarsely grind seeds in a mortar. Sprinkle tuna with salt, pepper, and ground cardamom. Put tuna in medium saucepan and add olive oil to cover by at least 1/2 inch. Over high heat, bring oil to 180 degrees. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit 5-10 minutes, depending on desired doneness. Using a slotted spoon, transfer tuna to a plate. Strain and reserve oil for another use. (Tuna confit can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated, but bring to room temperature before serving.)

 

To make salad: Toss endive and watercress with lemon vinaigrette.

 

To serve: Place a pool of sauce verte on each plate. Put 1/4 of onions on one side of sauce and a tuna fillet on the other. Place salad atop tuna and onions so it falls slightly over the side. (For a more casual meal, pile the tuna, sauce, endive and onions into a French roll. Or skip the sauce verte and serve the fish sprinkled with fresh herbs and chopped capers.)

 

CORN AND CLAM CHOWDER

Serves 6

2 onions, diced

2 tablespoons butter

6 ears corn

2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 garlic clove, minced

10 thyme sprigs, tied together

Salt and ground white pepper

Ground cayenne pepper

10 cups chicken stock

2 pounds clams, steamed open in 1 cup dry white wine, meats removed and

roughly chopped; liquor reserved

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Croutons for garnish

 

In a heavy-bottomed pot, cook onions in butter over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until translucent. Do not brown. Husk corn and cut off kernels with a knife. Do this into a large bowl to contain shooting kernels. Reserve cobs. Add corn to onions. Cook about 20 minutes, until corn is soft, then add potatoes, garlic and thyme. Season well with salt, white pepper and a little cayenne. Cook briefly.

 

In a large pot, simmer corncobs with stock; remove cobs and add stock to corn. Simmer for 40 minutes. Remove thyme bundle. Ladle about half of soup into blender and puree. Return pureed soup to pot. Add clam meats and liquor. Add cream. Stir well and adjust seasoning. Serve with croutons.

CROCK POT CHILI

2 lbs. ground chuck

1 or 2 med. onions, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

3 to 4 sticks celery, chopped

1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes

1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

2 cans kidney or pinto beans, drained

1 tsp. pepper

3 tsp. chili powder

hot pepper, to taste

1 tsp. garlic salt

Cook ground chuck; drain grease. Combine all ingredients in a crock pot and cook 4 to 6 hours on LOW, or until done.

DAL INFORMATION

INDIA'S VERSATILE, SPICY STAPLE

BY HEMA KUNDARGI, Special to the Mercury News

Just as Americans say ``bread and butter'' to denote simple food, in India the equivalent term is dal-roti. Roti is the Hindi term for bread; dal refers to lentils, beans and peas.

 

Most Indians are vegetarians -- for religious reasons, for economic reasons and, lately, for health reasons, too. In the Indian vegetarian diet, high-fiber, low-fat dals are the primary source of protein.

 

Hundreds of varieties of dals are eaten throughout India. Served with bread or rice (or both), a salad and a vegetable, dals make a complete and nutritionally balanced meal.

 

Dal is an integral part of everyday cooking throughout India. Regional preferences are strong, with each region favoring certain dals, spices and cooking methods.

 

In the north, chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are the stars of a tasty entree called chole, which is relished with the puffy deep-fried breads bhatura and puri. In the west, the sweet-and-sour yellow split pea soup aamti is enjoyed every day with bread and rice. In the east, dal is roasted before cooking.

 

In the south, yellow split peas are cooked with vegetables to make a stew called sambhar, which is eaten with rice. Urad dal, a black-skinned lentil with a creamy white interior, is combined with rice to create breakfast foods like idli, a steamed dumpling, dosa, a crisp crepe, and uttapam, a pancake. Garbanzo flour is used extensively in the region to make fritters, snacks and desserts.

 

Dal doesn't get to be delicious on its own. Eaten plain, beans, lentils and peas are bland and tasteless. This is where the Indian spice blends called masalas come in. Besides imparting flavor, the spices also have medicinal value, according to the ancient Indian system of medicine called ayurveda. Spices such as ginger and cumin are believed to reduce the flatulence that is associated with beans. (My mother used to add cumin seeds to the water in which she soaked beans.)

 

One technique that brings the dal alive is the addition of spice-infused oil, or tarka, to the cooked dal. A teaspoon of oil is heated in a small skillet, and spices such as cumin seeds, mustard seeds, ginger and garlic are added. My favorite combination is cumin seeds and garlic.

 

Dried beans are notorious for their lengthy cooking times; this alone scares away many home cooks. Presoaking beans cuts the cooking time considerably, but does require some planning. Typically I soak beans overnight in large quantities, then freeze the soaked beans in small bags. This way, instead of reaching for a can of beans, I can thaw and cook a bag of frozen beans.

 

Another trick for cooking dals quickly is to use a pressure cooker. In India, having a pressure cooker in the kitchen is the equivalent of having an oven in the Western kitchen. But when I am really pressed for time, I use canned beans and ignore the high sodium content.

 

Since coming to the United States 15 years ago, I have added Western touches to my dal meals. Yes, dals are delicious with rice or Indian bread. But I also like to enjoy hearty dal soup with garlic bread or lentil vegetable stew with sourdough bread. Or I make a dal dish into a complete meal by adding ravioli or linguine to it.

 

Here is just a sampling of the many ways Indians enjoy dals, with recipes I have adapted to ingredients found in local supermarkets and health food stores.

 

Mung beans are known for being easy to cook and easy to digest, and those qualities have made them a favorite among beans. In kitchidi, they are paired with rice in a smooth porridge. The Indian equivalent to chicken soup, it is eaten when you are under the weather or simply too tired to cook. Kitchidi is also one of the first solid foods served to infants.

 

Dal doesn't always have to be cooked. For kosimbri moong salad, the moong dal is soaked for several hours.

 

Poppadoms are parchment-thin disks, generally made of split legumes such as urad dal or moong dal. In the south, they are called poppadoms; in the north, papar. There are different ways to enjoy poppadoms. Some people eat them with chutney, while others serve them as an appetizer with drinks. Some crush a whole poppadom and eat it with yogurt-rice, the blend of unflavored yogurt and plain rice without which no South Indian meal is complete. My English friend Julie Jenkins showed me an interesting way to serve poppadoms: with tea. It's a healthy alternative to biscuits or cookies, she said.

 

 

EASY STRAWBERRY CUSTARD CAKE

Makes 10 to 12 servings

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

3 cups nonfat milk

1 egg yolk, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 10 3/4-ounce reduced-fat frozen pound cake, thawed and sliced

1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam

1 quart strawberries

3 tablespoons orange juice

1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted (see note)

 

In saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch and milk. Cook over medium heat 7 to 10 minutes, stirring, until mixture comes to boil. Boil 1 minute and remove from heat. Add 1/2 cup of this custard mixture to the beaten egg yolk and return mixture to saucepan, beating well. Cook a few minutes longer. Add vanilla. Set aside to cool.

 

Place slices of pound cake along bottom of 2-quart oblong dish. Spread slices with raspberry jam. Slice strawberries and place over jam. Drizzle orange juice over berries. Carefully spread custard over top and sprinkle with almonds. Cover and refrigerate.

 

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

 

ENGLISH STYLE BRAISED BEEF

 

2 lb rump beef (cut into strips)

8 oz small mushrooms

3 medium onions

1 1/2 tsp dried thyme

2 cloves of garlic

1 1/2 pints beef stock

 

Dice the onions and mushrooms. Crush the garlic, and fry in a little oil on a low heat until soft. Strain from pan and lightly cook the beef in the juices until brown.

 

Transfer all into a covered oven dish and cook at a low heat until tender (about 2 hours). Add herbs 10 minutes before the end of cooking.

 

Thicken with cornflour (cornstarch), and serve with buttered mashed potatoes, vegetables of your choice, crusty bread, and a nice red wine. Great on a winter's evening. Serves 4 - 6

FIG and ORANGE TART

8 oz. no-soak dried figs, roughly chopped

Juice of 2 oranges

1/3 cup butter, diced

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons pine nuts

Powdered sugar for dusting

Orange segments, to decorate

 

Pastry:

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup butter

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 egg yolk

 

To make pastry, sift flour into a bowl. Rub in butter until mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.

Stir in powdered sugar. Add egg yolk and 1 teaspoon of water. Stir with a knife to form a smooth dough. Knead lightly, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to fit a 8-inch loose-bottomed tart pan. Line tart pan with pastry and refrigerate again 20 to 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Prick pastry all over with a fork then line with foil and fill with baking beans. Bake blind 10 to 15 minutes or until pastry has set. Remove baking beans and foil and bake another 10 to 15 minutes or until firm and golden brown. Put figs and orange juice in a saucepan. Cook 5 to 10 minutes, stirring, until thickened. Remove from heat, add butter and stir until melted. Beat in eggs. Pour mixture into pastry case and scatter with pine nuts. Bake 15 minutes or until just set. Dust with powdered sugar, decorate with orange segments and serve warm or cold. Makes 6 servings

FRUIT CRUMBLE

Makes 4 to 6 servings

4 cups blueberries, peeled peaches, peeled sliced apples or your favorite fruit

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (divided)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (yellow part only)

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup natural wheat and barley cereal

1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal, uncooked

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar 3 tablespoons margarine, melted

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 

Spread fruit in 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Add granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, the lemon juice and peel; toss gently to coat.

 

In a bowl, mix together flour, cereal, oatmeal, brown sugar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Stir in melted margarine and mix until crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over fruit.

 

Bake until bubbly, 40 to 50 minutes.

 

Note: To peel peaches, submerge them in boiling for 30 to 60 seconds and then into cold water for 20 seconds. Skin should slip right off.

FUSS FREE SWISS STEAK

 

1 (Reynold's) cooking bag

2 tablespoons flour

2 cans (15 oz each) diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon celery seed

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

3 ribs celery, thinly sliced

1 or 2 carrots, sliced 1/4-inch thick

1 small onion, chopped, or 1 tablespoon minced dried onion

1 to 1 1/2 pounds round steak, 1/2-inch thick, cut in serving-size pieces

Measure flour into cooking bag. Add tomatoes, celery seed, tomato paste, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Squeeze bag (carefully hold the top to keep it from spilling) to mix all ingredients. Add vegetables and steak. Secure top of bag with tie; place in crock pot. Cut several small vents in the top to allow steam to escape. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours, then pour into a serving bowl. Serve with mashed potatoes and green beans. Serves 4 to 6

GARDEN PASTA SALAD

 

1/4 cup Chicken Broth

1 cup Mushrooms -- sliced

1/2 cup Onion -- chopped

1 clove Garlic -- minced

1 cup Zucchini -- thinly sliced

1 cup Broccoli florets

1 teaspoon Basil leaves -- crushed

4 ounces Macaroni, cooked, spiral -- rinsed and drained

1/4 cup Black Olives -- sliced

10 ounces Vegetable Soup, condensed

1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar

1 cup Mozzarella cheese, part skim milk -- (optional)

 

In skillet over medium heat, sauté mushrooms, onion and garlic, in chicken

broth for about 5 minutes until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in zucchini, broccoli and basil. Cover and cook 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender-crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. In large bowl, toss together vegetable mixture, cooked macaroni, olives, soup and vinegar. Cover and refrigerate until serving time, or at least 4 hours. Just before serving, cube Mozzarella cheese and add to salad, then toss lightly.

 

GARLIC BROTH

I recommend using this as a vegetarian substitute for chicken stock. It has a rich, fragrant taste, sweet rather than pungent with long-simmered garlic.

Makes 7 cups.

 

1 bay leaf

Few sprigs thyme

Few sprigs parsley

2 heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled

2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

6 peppercorns

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

 

1. Combine all the ingredients in the pot and add 8 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to very low, cover, and simmer for 1 to 2 hours.

 

2. Strain and discard the garlic and herbs. Taste. Is there enough salt? Add more if needed. Use right away, or refrigerate or freeze.

 

Advance preparation: This will keep for 4 days in the refrigerator and freezes well for 3 to 4 months.

GLACÉ FRUITS

 

1 pound of fruit

4-1/2 cups of sugar

1/2 cup of corn syrup

 

Prepare the fruits: Pit cherries and prick them with a pin to allow the syrup to penetrate the skin; peel, core, and quarter or slice apples, apricots, plums, pears, peaches; peel and core pineapple and cut it into rings or cubes; slice citrus fruits thinly (no need to peel them). Because this is such a time-consuming process, you will want to select the best fruits and treat them with care.

 

Place the fruit in the bottom of a saucepan, cover with water, and simmer gently until almost tender. Cook the fruit in batches, if necessary. Lift the fruit out with a slotted spoon and place in a shallow dish. Pour out all but 1 cup of the cooking water (or add enough to make a cup), add 1/2 cup of sugar and the corn syrup. Heat it to dissolve the sugar, bring to a boil, and pour over the fruit to cover. Leave it overnight.

 

Next day, pour the syrup into a pan, add a half-cup of sugar, heat to dissolve, bring to a boil, pour over the fruit and leave overnight. Repeat again for the next five days. On the eighth day, pour the syrup into a pan, add the half-cup of sugar, and boil, then reduce the heat, add the fruit and cook gently for three minutes. Pour the fruit and syrup into the dish and leave it to soak for two days. Repeat once more. At this point, the syrup should look like runny honey. Leave the fruit to soak for 10 days to three weeks and take a vacation!

 

At the end of the soaking period, remove the fruit from the syrup and arrange it on a wire rack over a tray. Dry in a warm place or in the oven at the lowest setting, until the surface no longer feels sticky. If you haven't done enough work by this point, you can also plunge each piece of fruit into boiling water and roll it in granulated sugar to coat the surface. Store in an airtight canister, tin or jar, in a cool, dark place.

GRILLED BABY BACK RIBS

FROM CHILI'S(r)

If you go by the TV commercial, chefs at Chili's have so much fun making baby backs that they sing songs filled with lyrics about them: "Chili's baby back ribs...I want my Chili's baby back ribs...barbecue sauce." If you know the ditty you'll be singing it too when you give this clone recipe a go, and slap a few of your own racks on the grill. The secret to the taste is in the sweet sauce, which you'll duplicate here from scratch. To make the meat juicy and tender like the original we'll call up the same slow-cooking technique sleuthed out a few years back for the clone of Tony Roma's great ribs.

 

From Top Secret Recipes:

Sauce

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup tomato paste

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon liquid smoke hickory flavoring

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

4 racks baby back ribs

 

1. Make the barbecue sauce by combining all of the ingredients for the sauce in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer sauce, stirring often, for 45 to 60 minutes or until sauce is thick.

2. When you're ready to make the ribs, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

3. Brush sauce over the entire surface of each rack of ribs. Wrap each rack tightly in aluminum foil and arrange the packets on a baking sheet with the seam of the foil facing up. Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the meat on the ribs has pulled back from the cut ends of the bones by about 1/2 inch. When the ribs are just about done, preheat your barbecue grill to medium heat.

4. Remove the ribs from the foil (careful not to burn yourself -- the liquid inside will be hot!) and grill them on the barbecue for 4 to 8 minutes per side or until the surface of the ribs is beginning to char. Brush sauce on both sides of the ribs a few minutes before you remove them from the grill. Just be sure not to brush on the sauce too soon or it could burn.

5. Serve the ribs with extra sauce on the side and lots of napkins. (http://www.topsecretrecipes.com) Makes 4 servings.

GRILLED CHICKEN SKEWERS

Serves up to 8

8 chicken thighs, boned and skinned, small thighs cut in half, larger ones in

thirds or quarters

1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage (optional), cut into 1- to 2-inch lengths

1 pound eggplant, zucchini or baby squash, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 bell peppers, preferably one each red and yellow, cut into 2-inch sections

2 lemons, cut into eighths

Salt and pepper to taste

Several sprigs fresh rosemary

 

Start a gas or charcoal grill or preheat the broiler; fire should be moderately hot. If using wood skewers, soak them in water while you prepare food. Using 8 skewers, alternate ingredients, but generally, surround both chicken and sausage with the more moist lemon and eggplant. Pack food fairly tightly together on each skewer, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tuck some rosemary among chicken and vegetables.

 

Grill over moderate heat, covered or not, turning the skewers 3 or 4 times to brown evenly. Total cooking time will be 10 to 15 minutes, depending on heat of grill and distance from heat source. When chicken and sausage are browned, eggplant will be tender; do not overcook.

 

Serve, squeezing hot lemon juice over all.

HEAVENLY YAM DELIGHT

Makes 16 servings

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup plus 2/3 cup powdered sugar (divided)

1/3 cup chopped pecans

7 tablespoons margarine or butter (see note)

1 8-ounce package fat-free cream cheese

1 8-ounce container fat-free frozen whipped topping, thawed (divided)

1 29-ounce can sweet potatoes (yams), drained

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 

In large bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup powdered sugar, pecans and margarine; mix well. Press into bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bake 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

 

In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and remaining 2/3 cup powdered sugar until creamy. Fold in 3/4 cup whipped topping. Spread cream cheese mixture over cooled crust.

 

In mixing bowl, beat sweet potatoes, granulated sugar and cinnamon until smooth. Spread over cream cheese mixture. Top with remaining 1/4 cup whipped topping. Cover and refrigerate.

 

Note: Use real butter or stick margarine. Do not substitute reduced-fat spreads; their higher water content often yields less-satisfactory results.

HOME MADE SAUSAGE

 

2 pounds hamburger or ground elk, deer, bear, moose, etc...

1 cup water

1 tsp liquid smoke

1/2 tsp mustard seed, yellow or white

1/2 tsp allspice

2 Tbsp tender quick salt

1 tsp garlic salt

1 tsp onion salt

 

Let mixture stand 1/2 hour (more is better). Roll into desired lengths. Wrap each in saran wrap and refrigerate over night. Next day, wrap with saran wrap again and securely fasten ends with twist ties. Boil in pan of water 1 hour 15 min. longer if thicker; less if smaller. Serve hot or cold.

HOT FUDGE PUDDING CAKE

 

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons shortening, melted

1 cup chopped nuts

1 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons cocoa

1 3/4 cups hot water

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, optional

 

In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt sugar and cocoa. Stir in milk and shortening. Blend in nuts. Spread in a greased 9-inch square baking dish.

 

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cocoa. Sprinkle over batter. Pour water over entire batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

 

During baking, the cake mixture rises to top and chocolate sauce settles to bottom. Invert squares of pudding on dessert plates. Ladle sauce from pan over each serving.

 

The entire pudding can be inverted onto a deep serving platter. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.

HOT OIL TREATMENT

DON'T JUST DRIZZLE IT --

LET FOOD WALLOW IN IT

FOR TEXTURE AND FLAVOR

WITHOUT TOO MUCH GUILT

BY CAROLYN JUNG, Mercury News

 

The Village Pub in Woodside, California serves a most voluptuous dish: wild salmon gently cooked in olive oil. A lot of olive oil.

 

We're not talking a spritz or a drizzle. We're talking submerging the fillet in four cups of olive oil and leaving it to bask in a warm, unctuous pool for 20 minutes.

 

In this day and age of Zone diets, Weight Watchers points and huffing-and-puffing cardio craziness, the dish has been the restaurant's top seller since Day One.

 

What gives?

 

``It's just so delicious. It's spoon-tender,'' says executive chef Mark Sullivan, who has prepared as many as 40 orders of the dish a night since the Village Pub opened three months ago and has taught two regulars how to make it at home. ``People don't get too freaky about olive oil.''

 

Or apparently about vast quantities of grapeseed oil, melted butter or even rendered duck fat.

 

Those fats are essential for oil poaching, a trend popping up on Bay Area menus. From Chef Chu's in Los Altos to Silks in San Francisco, chefs are touting oil's ability to enhance flavor, texture and color, particularly in seafood.

 

Just how guilty should diners feel about lapping up these dishes?

 

Actually, not very. Even registered dietitian Lynne Hill, who does nutritional analysis of recipes in the Mercury News Food and Wine section and is the first to take us to task when we publish high-fat dishes, gives the technique her seal of approval.

 

The key is draining and blotting after poaching. If that's done, only one or two teaspoons of oil or fat should remain on each serving, she estimates.

 

``That's not out of this world,'' Hill says. ``There are a lot of other cooking methods that would impart much more fat.''

 

Think of taking a bath. With warm water, in no time you're shriveled. But add a generous pour of bath oil, and you're silky soft. The same thing happens to fish, shrimp, lobster -- even vegetables -- cooked in oil that's warm, but not sizzling hot as for deep-frying.

 

It's a way of cooking that combines tried and true methods: poaching, blanching and immersing in oil. Poaching is cooking in water or stock on a low simmer to bring out a more delicate flavor and texture. Blanching is partially cooking in stock or water briefly to seal in vivid colors. And immersing food in oil, which many cuisines have relied on for generations, tenderizes and preserves.

 

The French have a rich tradition of confit, in which duck or goose or pork is cooked slowly in a large amount of its own fat until tender, then stored in a container, completely covered with fat.

 

The Italians have long used oil to preserve olives and tomatoes. The Chinese have been oil-blanching for centuries. And back in the 1800s, says Berkeley cookbook author and food history buff Mindy Toomay, the French were cooking salmon in melted butter in much the same way.

 

Sullivan learned the method 10 years ago working at an Avignon restaurant in the south of France. But he never dared put it on a menu until now.

 

``I was leery,'' he says, ``because it was off the path of conventional cooking.''

 

Not anymore. At Farallon, tuna confit salad has been a bestselling lunch dish since the San Francisco restaurant opened in 1997. Lunch chef Brad Barker even gets complaints from diners if the dish is absent from the menu.

 

Taking a saute pan, he pours in a couple of inches of grapeseed oil -- which he prefers over extra-virgin olive oil for its milder flavor -- and brings it almost to a boil (180 degrees) with thyme and garlic. After placing the ahi into the pan and covering it, he turns off the heat.

 

In about 10 minutes, the fish is removed with a spatula, and served cold with Yukon potatoes, tomatoes and frisée. The oil is strained and used at least once again. Best yet, while most chefs serve the fish medium-rare, with this method even medium-well fish remains moist.

 

``The oil doesn't extract flavor, it helps keep it in,'' says Barker, who often makes the dish for the staff meal, too.

 

At Chef Chu's, chef-owner Larry Chu specializes in an age-old Chinese method of oil-blanching, in which vegetable oil is brought up to a slightly higher temperature (275 to 300 degrees), using two cups of oil to one cup seafood or meat.

 

The method, detailed in Asian culinary authority Ken Hom's new cookbook, ``Foolproof Chinese Cooking'' (DK Publishing, $19.95), helps separate ingredients and seal in flavor. It also shortens cooking time and creates a uniform texture. Once blanched briefly, ingredients are then cooked again, usually stir-fried or steamed.

 

Some restaurants go even further. Thomas Keller of the French Laundry poaches lobster in butter that's been melted but remains emulsified. Ron Siegel picked up the technique cooking alongside Keller and used it to win the Japanese ``Iron Chef'' cooking competition. He features the lobster dish occasionally at Masa's in San Francisco.

 

Rather than tossing lobster into a pot of boiling water, which tends to make the meat seize and toughen, Keller says, this delicate method infuses the lobster with a buttery taste and leaves the meat so tender that some diners swear it's not completely cooked, though it is.

 

Then there is Silks, which poaches Atlantic salmon in two quarts of melted duck fat.

 

The Silks chefs were inspired to create the dish this year after cooking a lot of duck confit. The new salmon confit, expected to be back on the menu come winter, is served with potato hash, sauteed fennel, and garlic cloves also caramelized in duck fat.

 

``The dish sold really well, better than we expected,'' says executive chef Selu Garcia. ``People were intrigued by the duck fat, how it would go with the salmon. It really gave it an added richness.''

 

All this leaves one retired heart surgeon, Dr. Gary Silver of San Jose's O'Connor Hospital, salivating. Silver nagged patients to watch their cholesterol, but he understands the lure of exceptional food. He dines once a month at four-star restaurants and volunteers every Saturday morning behind the counter at Lou's Living Donut Museum in San Jose.

 

``If you're going for a culinary dining experience and you're worrying if it's butter or what, go someplace else. Go to Fresh Choice,'' says Silver, who advocates a lifestyle of no smoking, plenty of exercise and a good dose of common sense. ``But if you're going to one of the top restaurants in the country, go to enjoy yourself, go to enjoy the cooking.''

ITALIAN CHICKEN AND POTATOES

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup Italian salad dressing

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or mix basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, and

garlic powder to equal same)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

4 potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges

Place chicken in bottom of crock pot. Sprinkle with half of the Italian dressing, spices, and the grated cheese. Put the potatoes on top or around the chicken. Sprinkle with the rest of the dressing, spices, and cheese. Cook on low for about 6-8 hours, or until the chicken and potatoes are tender.

KHANDHA BHAJI

(onion fritters)

Serves 4

2 onions (sliced vertically into strips)

1 cup garbanzo flour (besan flour)

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon chopped cilantro

Salt to taste

Oil to deep fry

 

Chop the onions and set them aside in a bowl of cool water. In a medium bowl, combine garbanzo flour, water, chili powder, cumin, coriander, cilantro and salt.

 

Pour 2 inches of oil into a wok. Heat until oil is smoking hot. With a pair of tongs, take a couple of onion pieces and dip them into the batter, allowing excess batter to drain into the bowl. Carefully lower batter-coated onion pieces into oil. Fry until they turn dark brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on a paper towel. Repeat with remaining batter and onions. Serve immediately with ketchup and the spiced tea called masala chai.

 

Fritters are best eaten right away, but if necessary they can be kept warm in a 200-degree oven for up to 30 minutes.

 

Variation: Substitute cauliflower, potato, bell pepper or whole green chilies for the onions.

KING RANCH ORIGINAL RECIPE CASSEROLE

 

1 whole chicken - boiled to fall-apart with large bouquet of

celery tops and green onions, pepper and salt, then

skinned, deboned and shredded. (Later, puree the

bouquet and add it to the chicken/soup mix, also.)

1 large onion

1 green bell pepper (dice and sautéed in butter)

 

Mix chicken with sautéed onion and peppers and stir into bowl with:

 

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can cream of chicken (or cream of celery soup)

1/2 to 3/4 can Rotel tomatoes and chilies

 

Then line a Pam-sprayed baking dish with corn tortillas, (use about 6 or 7 tortillas per layer) Spoon on 1/2 the chicken mixture, Another layer of corn tortillas,

The rest of the chicken mixture.

 

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Heap on top 2 or more cups of grated cheeses,

i.e., cheddar, Monterey jack, white cheddar, or Mozzarella. Bake another 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Can be made ahead and frozen.

KITCHIDI

(rice and bean porridge)

This porridge is served with a spoonful of ghee (clarified butter) and crisp poppadoms or achaar, Indian pickle.

 

Serves 4

1 cup basmati rice

1 cup split yellow mung beans

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, slightly crushed

1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

6 to 7 whole black peppercorns

4 cups water

Salt to taste

 

Wash rice and beans in water and drain. In a thick-bottomed pan, combine all ingredients. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, on low heat for 15 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning.

 

Variation: Substitute lentils for the yellow mung beans.

KOSIMBRI MOONG

(bean salad)

Serves 4

1 cup yellow split moong beans

2 white onions

2 cucumbers

1 small tomato

1 jalapeño chili (optional)

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon grated unsweetened coconut

 

Soak the moong beans in room-temperature water to cover for 4 hours. Drain the beans in a colander. Set aside for 15 minutes. Chop the onions, cucumbers and tomato into 1/4-inch cubes and combine them in a bowl. Mince jalapeño and add to vegetables along with lime juice, sugar, salt, cilantro and coconut. Add the drained moong beans and mix well. Serve immediately at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers.

MINESTRONE VERDE

Makes about 31/2 quarts

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

10 cups chicken or vegetable broth

4 cups peeled and diced fresh tomatoes (see note)

1/2 cup small or medium pasta shells, uncooked

1 15-ounce can great Northern beans, rinsed and drained

1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups sliced zucchini

11/2 cups sliced green beans

1/4 cup finely minced fresh basil

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced

11/2 cups small broccoli florets

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Grated parmesan cheese

 

In large pot, sauté the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until the onion is soft and transparent. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another minute. Pour in the broth, tomatoes, pasta, great Northern and kidney beans, zucchini, green beans, basil, parsley and rosemary. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer, for about 40 minutes. Add broccoli and simmer until the broccoli is just tender, about 7 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with parmesan cheese.

 

To freeze: When preparing batches to freeze, do not add the canned beans or the broccoli until after it's thawed. Let the prepared soup cool, then pack into freezer containers (leave about 1 inch of head room for rigid containers, 1/2 inch for bags, to accommodate expansion), seal and freeze.

 

When ready to serve, thaw, then add desired amount of fresh broccoli florets and canned beans (such as great Northern or kidney) that have been rinsed and drained. Bring to a boil and simmer about 10 minutes, or until the beans and broccoli have cooked. Adjust seasonings and serve.

 

Note: To peel tomatoes, plunge into boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove immediately and plunge into cold water. Skin should slip off easily.

 

OLIVE OIL POACHED SALMON

WITH CHANTERELLE MUSHROOMS, CORN, AND SALSA VERDE

Serves 4

For salsa verde:

2 shallots, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced to a pulp

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon cornichons,*** minced

3 fillets salt-packed anchovies, rinsed and chopped

1 tablespoon finely minced lemon peel

Extra virgin olive oil to cover

1 bunch parsley, leaves only, minced

1/2 bunch tarragon, leaves only, minced

1 bunch chervil, leaves only, minced

For salmon:

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 pieces wild salmon fillet (5 1/2 ounces each)

1 small onion, minced (Vidalia or Maui are best)

4 ears corn, kernels removed from cobs

1/4 cup chicken stock

8 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and minced

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 cups chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned

2 shallots, minced

10 sprigs Italian parsley, leaves only, minced

fleur de sel (French sea salt)

 

***Cornichons are small cucumbers, similar to gherkins.

To make salsa verde: Soak shallots and garlic with lemon juice and let rest several minutes. Add capers, cornichons, anchovies and lemon peel. Cover with oil, then add herbs (this sequence prevents discoloration). Sauce should be vibrant and bold in flavor. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

 

To make salmon: In a medium saucepan over very low heat, add 4 cups olive oil and warm to about 190 degrees. Place salmon in oil. (At the restaurant, much more oil is used to ensure salmon is submerged completely; the fish is not turned during cooking. Home cooks who prefer to use less oil need only make sure the salmon is submerged halfway, but must also turn fish halfway through cooking.) Let fish cook 10 minutes; turn and cook another 10 minutes for medium rare. Or you can cook slightly longer if you prefer fish cooked through more.

 

In another medium saucepan, sauté onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes, just until it becomes translucent, but not brown. Add corn and cook another 5 minutes. Add chicken stock, thyme, and salt and pepper. Simmer until stock evaporates by half.

 

In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, sauté chanterelles in 1 tablespoon olive oil for 3-5 minutes, or until they start to turn golden brown. Add shallots, salt and pepper, and cook another minute. Remove from heat; sprinkle with parsley.

 

To serve: Spoon 1/4 of corn into center of each of four plates. Place 1/4 of chanterelles around plate. Place a piece of salmon on top of corn, and garnish with salsa verde and fleur de sel.

OVEN TO CROCK POT CONVERSION

General Information

It's difficult to give exact conversion information on translating traditional oven recipes to the crock pot. Below you will find some general guidelines for converting your favorite recipes to the crock pot. Since crock pots vary, you should consult your owner's manual for instructions.

 

Crock pots may vary but generally, the LOW setting is about 200 degrees F. and the HIGH setting is about 300 degrees F. One hour on HIGH is approximately equal to 2 to 2-1/2 hours on LOW. Most crock pot recipes recommend cooking 8-10 hours on LOW. Some recipes recommend the HIGH setting based on the nature and texture of the food. You will have to judge your recipe accordingly. For example, beef cuts will be better cooked on LOW for 8-10 hours to get a more tender texture, where chicken can be cooked on HIGH 2-1/2 to 3 hours.

Reduce the amount of liquid used in most oven recipes when using the LOW setting, since the crock pot retains all moisture that usually evaporates when cooking in the oven. Add liquids for sauces about an hour before done. You will normally end up with more liquid at the end of cooking times, not less. A general rule is to reduce liquids by half, unless rice or pasta is in the dish.

Spices may need to be reduced or increased. Whole herbs and spices increase their flavoring power in crock pot cooking while ground spices may have lost some flavor. Add ground spices during the last hour of cooking. Whole leaf and herbs will probably need to be reduced by half.

Rice, noodles, macaroni, seafood, Chinese vegetables and milk do not hold up well when cooked 8-10 hours. Add these to sauces or liquid about 2 hours before serving when using LOW setting (or 1 hour on HIGH). If you want to use milk in an 8-10 hour recipe, use evaporated milk.

Browning meats before cooking is a personal choice. It's not necessary but it will reduce the fat content of some meats if you brown it before cooking.

Sautéing vegetables (like onions, etc) is not necessary, (except for eggplant which should be parboiled or sautéed prior due to its strong flavor). Just add them to the pot with everything else. You may wish to reduce quantities of stronger vegetables since they will permeate the other foods in the crock pot with their full flavor.

Dry beans can be cooked overnight on LOW as an alternative to soaking. Cover with water and add 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Drain and combine with other ingredients. Be sure beans are softened before adding to any sugar or tomato mixture.

For best results, use long-grain parboiled/converted raw rice in recipes, and use standard liquid amounts instead of reducing the liquid. For mixed recipes requiring pasta, it's best to cook the pasta separately to al dente texture and add just before serving.

For soups, add water only to cover ingredients. If thinner soup is desired, more liquid can be added at the end of the cooking time.

General Oven to Crock pot

Cooking Time Conversions

Oven Crock pot

15 to 30 minutes 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hours on HIGH or 4 to 6 hours on LOW

35 to 45 minutes 2 to 3 hours on HIGH or 6 to 8 hours on LOW

50 minutes to 3 hours 4 to 5 hours on HIGH or 8 to 18 hours on LOW

Most raw meat and vegetable combinations will need at least 8 hours on LOW.

 

General Cooking Times for Specific Foods

Pot Roast 8-12 hours on LOW or 4 to 5 hours on HIGH

Stew 10 to 12 hours on LOW or 4 to 5 hours on HIGH

Ribs 6 to 8 hours on LOW

Stuffed Peppers 6 to 8 hours on LOW or 3 to 4 hours on HIGH

Brisket 10 to 12 hours on LOW

Swiss Steak 8 to 10 hours on LOW

Corned Beef and Cabbage 6 to 10 hours on LOW or 4 to 5 hours on HIGH

Casserole 4 to 9 hours on LOW or 2 to 4 hours on HIGH (stirring occasionally)

Rice 5 to 9 hours on LOW or 2 to 3 hours on HIGH

Meat Loaf 8 to 9 hours on LOW

Dry Beans 1 to 2 hours on HIGH plus 8 to 9 hours on LOW

Soup 6 to 12 hours on LOW or 2-6 hours on HIGH

Chicken 7 to 10 hours on LOW or 3 to 4 hours on HIGH

Vegetables 2 to 4 hours on LOW with liquid added

Baked Potato 8 to 10 hours on LOW

Artichoke 6 to 8 hours on LOW or 2-1/2 to 4 hours on high (with water)

Remember to check the owner's manual for your particular crock pot for full instructions on usage. The above cooking times are only VERY general guidelines.

PALAKACHI AAMTI

(spinach and split-pea stew)

Serves 4

1 cup tur dal or yellow split peas

3 cups water

1/2 teaspoon oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 bunch spinach, washed and chopped

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

Spice infused butter/oil:

1 teaspoon butter, ghee (clarified butter) or oil

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

3 to 4 dried red chilies, or to taste

 

Combine tur dal and water in a pressure cooker or a heavy saucepan. Cook at 15 pounds pressure for 6 to 8 minutes or, if using a regular saucepan, cook over medium heat for 45 to 55 minutes.

 

In a thick-bottomed pan, heat 1/2 teaspoon oil. Add garlic and sauté until brown. Add tomatoes and spinach. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until spinach wilts and tomato chunks collapse, about 6 to 8 minutes. Then add the cooked dal, turmeric, salt and brown sugar. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes.

 

Just before serving, heat the butter in a small frying pan. Add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle. Add the chilies and let them darken to a blackish red. Strain. Top the dal with the spice-infused butter and serve immediately.

 

Traditionally, this stew is served with Indian bread and rice, but it also goes well with ravioli.

 

Notes: If you do not have a pressure cooker, soaking the dal overnight will reduce the stove-top cooking time by half. You can substitute a 15.5-ounce can of garbanzo beans for the dal.

PANCAKES FOR DINNER

 

By Marlene Parrish, ucook.com contributor

 

I had yet another unplanned candlelight dinner the other night. Power failure. Ordinarily, I can walk into the kitchen in the dark, and tiny red and green lights glow and blink like so many jungle eyes. The microwave, the toaster, the oven, the mini-tv, the dishwasher - my culinary support system's computer bulbs wink expectantly back at me.

 

There's more plug-in equipment than in an intensive care unit. Then, bingo. Power's out. It's pitch black. When the electricity goes down, forget it. A person with an over-stocked freezer and a super-stuffed fridge like mine could starve to death.

 

Groping for matches and candles, I reviewed the options. It's too early to go to bed. I can't drive off to a restaurant because I can't open the garage door. I had canned fish and salad last time the current blew. Boring. Besides, I wanted comfort food.

 

My big-deal Thermidor range with its electric oven and gas cooktop saved the day. I lighted candles and a couple of burners, dug out a heavy-duty griddle and was in business. In less than a half an hour, I feasted on pancakes, bacon and cowboy coffee.

 

Most of us tend to forget that a good breakfast often makes a great supper. And pancakes are one of the best suppers you can make on a night when there's no time to shop and precious little energy, whether physical or electrical.

 

The ingredients are household staples: flour, eggs and milk. Always make a whole pancake recipe, even if it seems like a lot. Cook what you feel like eating, but don't toss the surplus. Leftover batter can be kept covered and refrigerated for several days. Then fresh pancakes in the morning are no more trouble than heating up the griddle or skillet.

 

Or, cook the whole batch at once. To keep the extras warm and moist but not soggy, arrange them on a plate, cover loosely with foil and put into a warm oven, 200°F (95°C) or lower. Freezing extras is okay. Put pieces of waxed paper between the pancakes, slip the stack into a zip-lock plastic bag and freeze. Without defrosting, reheat them on foil in a warm toaster oven for just a few minutes.

 

Any pancake's best friend is a slice of crisp hickory-smoked bacon. Make it in the microwave or under the broiler. But crunch for crunch, nothing beats bacon strips started in a cold frying pan and cooked slowly until just crisp.

 

Pancakes are best hot, and topping them with hard butter and cold maple syrup does them no favor. Try to remember to melt or at least soften the butter and gently warm the maple syrup before serving. Warm the plate, too, by holding it under hot running water. And, my apologies to Aunt Jemima, but no way do she and her ilk stand in for real maple syrup.

 

PEACH DELIGHT

 

Crust

1 1/4 cup flour

1 stick margarine

 

Mix and press into a 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool

 

Cream cheese layer

 

1 8 oz cream cheese, softened

1 c powdered sugar

1 regular size Cool Whip

 

Mix all together and spread over cooled crust.

 

Peach Filling

 

2 c water

2 c sugar

1/2 c light corn syrup

3/4 c cornstarch

 

Cook all ingredients except cornstarch. When boiling thicken with cornstarch

(mixed with a little water). You may add a little yellow food coloring to peach filling. Cool

 

Slice 2 qts of fresh peaches. That is about 6 peaches. Fold the sliced peaches into the jell mixture and spread on top of the cream cheese layer. Top with 1 large Cool Whip.

 

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY MUFFINS

 

2 eggs

1 cup water

3/4 cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/3 cups Bisquick

1 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup sugar

9 teaspoons jelly

 

Combine egg, water, peanut butter and vanilla. Stir with wire whisk. Add Bisquick, oats and sugar. Mix until just moist. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins, 3/4 full. Top batter in each tin with 1/2 teaspoon jelly. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until golden brown.

PORK LOIN WITH SQUASH

AND SWEET POTATOES

1 fresh pork loin

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

3 yellow squash, sliced

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced

2 cups orange juice

Put the pork in the crock pot, dump in the veggies, pour on the juice. Cook on low for several hours.

PORTOBELLO REUBENS

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 pounds Portobello mushroom caps, sliced (about 6 cups)

8 slices deli-style rye bread with seeds, toasted

1/4 cup prepared Russian dressing

4 slices Swiss cheese (about 4 ounces)

1 cup prepared coleslaw

4 thin slices red onion

 

Preheat broiler to 375 degrees.

 

In a large skillet (preferably nonstick), over medium-high heat, heat oil until hot.

 

Add Portobello mushrooms; cover and cook until they begin to release liquid, about 5 minutes; uncover and cook until tender and liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes longer; drain on paper towels, pressing excess moisture from mushrooms.

 

Arrange bread slices on a rimmed baking sheet; toast on both sides, about 2 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees.

 

Spread warm toast on one side, with dressing, dividing evenly. Arrange mushrooms on half of the toast slices; top each with a slice of cheese folded in half; bake just until cheese melts, about 2 minutes.

 

Top each sandwich with 1/4 cup coleslaw and an onion slice; cover with remaining toast.

PORTOBELLO SANDWICHES

 

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 medium-size portobello mushrooms (about 1 pound), stems removed

6 ounces sun-dried tomatoes in oil (about 1 cup)

6 ounces feta cheese

2 medium-size garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)

1/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried basil

8 slices crusty white or multigrain bread

4 cups spinach leaves

 

In a large skillet (preferably nonstick), over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

 

Add caps, gill side down; cover and cook until caps look moist, about 8 minutes. Turn caps; cover and cook until browned and tender, about 7 minutes; drain on paper towels, pressing excess moisture from mushrooms.

 

Meanwhile, drain sun-dried tomatoes, reserving 2 tablespoons of the oil; coarsely chop tomatoes.

 

In a food processor container, combine tomatoes, feta and garlic; pulse until coarsely chopped.

 

Add reserved tomato oil, the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the basil; pulse just until mixture is spreadable but a bit chunky.

 

To assemble sandwiches: Spread tomato-feta mixture on bread slices, dividing evenly. Arrange spinach leaves and mushroom caps on 4 of the bread slices; top with remaining bread.

POTATO LEEK SOUP

Makes 6 servings

3 fist-sized potatoes

3 cups cleaned, chopped leeks (white part only)

1 rib celery, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

4 tablespoons margarine or butter

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable stock or broth or water

3 cups 1 percent milk

Optional: snippets of fresh herbs (thyme, marjoram, basil)

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Scrub the potatoes and cut them into 1-inch chunks. Place them in a saucepan with the leeks, celery, carrot and margarine. Add salt. Cook the vegetables, stirring, over medium heat until margarine is melted and all the pieces are coated (5 minutes).

 

Add the stock or water, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook until the potatoes are soft (20 to 30 minutes). Check the moisture level occasionally. You may need to add a little extra stock or water, if it gets too low.

 

When the potatoes are tender, puree the contents with the milk (use a blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade). Make sure the mixture is utterly smooth. Return it to the saucepan.

 

Add herbs, if using. Grind in some black pepper. Taste it to see if it needs more salt.

 

Heat the soup gently, covered, until just hot. Try not to let it boil. Serve right away.

POTATO SALAD VINAIGRETTE

 

3 pounds new red potatoes, cubed

3/4 cup canola oil

3/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, pressed

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

Pinch ground black pepper

3 stalks celery, diced

3 green onions, diced

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon dry dill weed or 1 tablespoon fresh dill

 

Cook potatoes until just tender; do not overcook. Drain, spread out on a cookie sheet and allow to cool.

 

Mix oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper and combine with potatoes, celery, onions, parsley and dill. Season to taste.

SALMON SALAD WITH CREOJA SAUCE

 

Dressing (see note):

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme, or a pinch of dried thyme

1/2 clove garlic, peeled, crushed

 

Salmon and salad:

1 pound boneless salmon fillet, skin removed if desired, rinsed, patted dry

1 bunch asparagus, washed, trimmed

1 bag (10 ounces) prepared salad greens; or 1 radicchio head, torn into bite-size

pieces; or 1 Boston lettuce head, torn into bite-size pieces; or 1 Belgian

endive head, cut into 1-inch lengths

Salt and pepper to taste

Creoja sauce (see note):

2 tablespoons seeded and diced tomato

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped red onion

1 tablespoon chopped celery

1 tablespoon chopped carrot

1 tablespoon chopped bell pepper

1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

 

In a small bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients. Place about 2 tablespoons of dressing in a baking dish. Add the salmon fillet and turn it to coat. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and marinate the salmon in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Reserve the remaining dressing for the salad greens.

 

Steam or blanch the asparagus until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.

 

Drain and transfer the asparagus to a large bowl of ice water to cool, then drain.

 

Place the salad greens in a large bowl and drizzle with the remaining dressing; season with salt and pepper. Divide the salad among 4 serving plates; set them aside.

 

In a small bowl, combine all the creoja sauce ingredients and set the sauce aside.

 

Prepare or preheat the grill to medium-high heat, or preheat the broiler.

 

Remove the salmon from the marinade and season it generously with salt and pepper. Grill the salmon on a piece of aluminum foil skin-side down for 6 minutes or until it's just opaque. Turn it over and continue grilling until the salmon is cooked through. Using a spatula, lift and separate the fillet from the skin and remove the salmon from the grill.

 

Alternately, broil the salmon 3 to 4 minutes per side or until cooked through. The salmon fillet also can be cut into individual portions and grilled.

 

Slice and divide the salmon fillet among the 4 plates. Garnish with the asparagus and spoon the creoja sauce over the top and serve.

 

Cook's note: If desired, double the amounts of the dressing and the creoja sauce.

SEVERAL APPETIZERS

PUPPY CHOW APPETIZER

 

1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy works best)

1/2 cup margarine or butter

6 oz. chocolate chips

11 cups Corn Chex cereal or Crispix

2 cups powdered sugar

 

Melt peanut butter, margarine and chocolate chips in a sauce pan over medium

heat (or use a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup; zap and stir, zap and stir until melted). Pour over cereal, being sure that all cereal is coated. Put 2 cups powdered sugar in a large zippered baggie (gallon size). Add cereal and shake gently until all cereal is coated. Pour out onto wax paper to cool.

 

BLT BITES

 

16 to 20 cherry tomatoes

1 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing

1/3 cup chopped green onions

3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese (or Cheddar)

2 tbsp. snipped fresh parsley

 

Cut thin slice off of each tomato top; scoop out and discard pulp. Invert

tomatoes on paper towels to drain. In a small bowl, combine all remaining

ingredients; mix well. Spoon into tomatoes. Refrigerate for several hours

before serving.

STUFFED JALAPENO PEPPERS

 

10 medium fresh jalapeno peppers (wear gloves)

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

10 strips bacon, halved

 

Cut peppers in half lengthwise; remove seeds, stems and membrane. Stuff

each half with about 2 teaspoons cream cheese. Wrap with bacon and secure

with a toothpick. Place on broiler rack that has been coated with nonstick

cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until bacon is

crisp. Remove toothpicks and serve immediately.

 

CRAB APPETIZER

 

Use either a block of cream cheese (let it soften a bit) or use the tub of

spreadable cream cheese. Put the cream cheese on a plate (either the block

or mound up the spreadable stuff). Then pour chili sauce over it, and then

sprinkle imitation crab meat flakes on it. Serve with crackers (Club

Crackers, Waverly Wafers, Ritz, whatever

 

SAUSAGE CHEESE BALLS

 

3 cups Original Bisquick(r)

1 pound bulk pork sausage

4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (16 ounces)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes

Barbecue sauce or chili sauce, if desired

 

Heat oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease bottom and sides of jelly roll pan, 15

1/2x10 1/2x2x1 inch.

 

Stir together all ingredients, using hands or spoon. Shape mixture into

1-inch balls. Place in pan.

 

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until brown. Immediately remove from pan. Serve

warm with sauce for dipping.

 

Do-Ahead Tips

 

Want to make these savory cheese balls ahead? You can:

Cover and refrigerate unbaked balls up to 24 hours. Bake as directed.

 

Cover and freeze unbaked balls up to 1 month. Heat oven to 350ºF. Place

frozen balls on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until brown.

 

Bake as directed; cover and freeze up to 1 month.

 

Heat oven to 350ºF. Place frozen balls on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10

to 12 minutes or until heated through.

 

Place 6 frozen balls on microwavable plate. Loosely cover with waxed paper.

Microwave on High 45 seconds to 1 minute or until heated through.

 

TOE SAUSAGES

 

1 pkg Little Smokies

2 Tubes crescent rolls

mustard, preferably spicy

 

Spread half of the crescent rolls from one tube on cutting board. Pinch diagonal seams together. Spread with mustard. Cut dough in half lengthwise, then cut evenly into 6ths, across the lengthwise cut. Put a Little Smokie on each piece of dough and roll up, pinching to seal. Place on lightly greased or cooking sprayed cookie sheet. Continue until all the Little Smokies and crescent rolls are used up. Bake, following the directions on the crescent roll package.

 

IMPOSSIBLY EASY QUESADILLA PIE

 

1 can (4 1/2 ounces) chopped green chilies, well drained

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (8 ounces)

1teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro

3/4 cup Master Mix

1 1/2 cups milk

3 eggs

 

Heat oven to 400ºF. Grease 8 or 9-inch square pan. Sprinkle chilies, cheese and cilantro in pie plate. Stir remaining ingredients until blended. Pour into pie plate. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Cut into 1" squares and serve as an appetizer for guests. Serve with salsa if desired. These can be served at room temperature.

 

CRAB PLATTER

 

Use a nice, large plate, such as a clear plastic tray that looks like cut glass. If you have a silver tray, line it with plastic wrap. Spread softened cream cheese

(8 oz or more) all over the platter. Spread on a thin layer of cocktail sauce. Top with a can of crab meat, drained and shredded. Around this, or in a separate basket, put some buttery snack crackers.

SPICED APPLE OATMEAL

Makes 2 servings

2 cups boiling water

1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal

2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

2 medium Granny Smith apples,

chopped Nuts

Cook oatmeal in boiling water according to package directions. When it is nearly cooked, stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Add chopped apple and cook for 1 minute until apples are hot. Sprinkle with nuts.

STOVE TOP TAMALE PIE

 

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 pound lean ground beef

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (14-ounce) can black beans, un-drained

1/2 cup water

1 (3-ounce) can chopped green chilies, undrained

1 (1 1/4-ounce) package taco seasoning mix

1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup sliced green onion

 

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, place the olive oil and onion and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the ground beef and brown; drain the fat.

 

Stir in the tomato sauce, black beans, water, green chilies and taco seasoning mix. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes.

 

Prepare the corn muffin mix according to package directions. Drop small spoonfuls of batter over the meat mixture in the skillet; don't worry if there are some small uncovered places. Cover and cook over medium heat 15-17 minutes until the batter is cooked through.

 

Sprinkle the mixture with the cheese and green onion. Re-cover and cook 3-4 minutes over low heat until the cheese melts.

STUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS

Serves 6

1 whole head cabbage (about 4 pounds)

Boiling salted water

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons oil

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1/2 pound ground fresh pork

1 1/2 cups cooked rice

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 (10-ounce) cans tomato sauce

Remove core from cabbage. Place whole head in large kettle filled with boiling salted water. Cover; cook 3 minutes, or until soft enough to pull off individual leaves. Repeat to remove all large leaves (about 30). Cut thick center stem from each leaf. Chop remaining smaller leaves. Sauté onion in oil. Add meat, rice, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Place a heaping tablespoon of meat mixture on each cabbage leaf. Tuck sides over filling while rolling around filling. Secure with wooden picks.

 

Place half chopped cabbage on bottom of a large Dutch oven. Fill with layers of cabbage rolls. Cover with remaining chopped cabbage. Combine tomato sauce with about 1/2 cup water to thin; mix until smooth. Pour over top of dish. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 1/2 hours. Serve cabbage rolls with sauce.

SUMMER GAZPACHO

Makes about 2 quarts

3 large tomatoes, finely chopped

1 cucumber, peeled and finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1/2 sweet onion, minced (see note)

3 cups commercially prepared vegetable cocktail juice (or, for a spicier flavor,

commercially prepared tomato and chili cocktail juice)

1 101/2-ounce can beef bouillon, undiluted

1 cup commercially prepared salsa or picante sauce

5 tablespoons wine vinegar

Up to 1/4 cup olive oil (added for flavor, but can be omitted)

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried dill weed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced

Garnishes: sour cream, croutons, avocado chunks,

tortilla chips (do not freeze; prepare when ready to serve)

 

Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, onion, vegetable cocktail juice, beef bouillon, salsa, vinegar, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, basil, dill weed, salt, pepper sauce and garlic in a large pot. Adjust seasonings, then refrigerate at least 4 to 24 hours before serving to allow time for flavor to develop. Serve very cold, with bowls of the suggested garnishes.

 

To freeze: As soon as soup is assembled, place in freezer containers (leave about 1 inch of head room for rigid containers, 1/2 inch for bags, to accommodate expansion), seal and freeze. Adjust flavors after thawing.

 

Note: If I don't plan on freezing the soup, I prefer to use about 6 green onions, chopped. But green onions don't fare well in the freezer, which is why I switch to sweet onions for freezing. In early autumn, sweet onions are available from other parts of the country. There is also a new sweet onion from Michigan being marketed nationally this time of year, the AmeriSweet.

SUMMERTIME CORN CHOWDER

Makes about 2 quarts soup

3 large onions, diced

1/4 cup finely minced yellow bell pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 large ears corn, husked

1/2 pound new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into

1/4-inch dice

1/4 pound cooked ham, cut into

1/4-inch dice

21/2 cups chicken broth

21/2 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Thinly sliced green onions (garnish)

 

In large soup pot, sauté onions and yellow pepper in oil over medium-high heat until softened and lightly golden, about 15 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, cut corn kernels from the cobs. Place the kernels in a food processor or blender and coarsely chop. Add the corn, potatoes, ham and chicken broth to pot with onions and peppers. Cover, bring the mixture to a boil and simmer just until the potato cubes are tender when pierced, about 15 or 20 minutes; cool. Stir in milk, salt and white pepper; chill for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

 

Pour soup into a soup tureen, nested in a larger bowl of ice. Garnish with thinly sliced green onions, and serve.

 

To freeze: Place the soup into freezer containers after cooling (leave about 1 inch of head room for rigid containers, 1/2 inch for bags, to accommodate expansion), seal and freeze. Thaw in refrigerator.

 

SUPER SIMPLE CRAB SALAD

 

1 pkg Imitation Crab Meat (2.5 lbs approx)

8-10 Celery ribs, chopped quite small

8 Green Onions, chopped (white and green parts)

2 Shallots, minced

2-2.5 Lemons (juice them)

1.5-2 Cups Mayonnaise

1 small bunch fresh dill, chopped (1/8 cup?)

2-4 Tablespoons of Creamy Horseradish (in a jar), or to taste

2 TB Fresh Parsley, snipped

1 teaspoon Paprika

Salt to taste

Lemons (for wedges)

 

Tear the imitation crab, rather than slicing with a knife, because it looks more like real crab.

 

Mix the Crab, Celery, Green Onions, Shallots, and Mayo first. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, and season it. Add dill, parsley, and lemon, then horseradish and

paprika. Serve on a bed of curly lettuce leaves, with lemon wedges.

SUSHI CHEFS

Rising demand opens sushi to non-traditional chefs

BY STEPHEN LYNCH, Orange County Register

In Japan, sushi-making is an art, a science and a secret society. It requires years of training, hours of drudgery and, most important, the serendipity of being male and Japanese.

 

Andy F. Matsuda trained under that system, apprenticing for five years in Japan. As a neophyte, he wasn't allowed to touch raw fish or make his own rolls. ``All I did was make rice . . . for five years,'' he said.

 

Matsuda has respect for the old ways, but he's not convinced they are the only way. As an instructor at the California Sushi Academy in Los Angeles' Venice district, he's helping orchestrate a quiet revolution in sushi-making. Here, it takes six months -- not five years -- to train a sushi chef. His students include Latinos, whites and other Asians. There are tattoos and pierced eyebrows. There are women.

 

Slowly, and often grudgingly, the art of sushi-making is opening to outsiders.

 

This is, as Matsuda points out, a necessity. The American taste for sushi continues to deepen, and there aren't enough trained Japanese chefs to go around. Lured by high salaries, many non-Japanese people are being trained on the job, or they attend the academy, founded three years ago by restaurant owner Toshi Suguira to address the demand.

 

``All around the country, people would ask, `Where do we find them?' The answer is you have to train them,'' said Phillip Yi, director of the academy. ``That opens up the art to people who never had the opportunity. You never used to see women; you never used to see blond hair.''

 

This does not sit well with traditionalists, who see the inclusion of outsiders -- and the ``Americanization'' of sushi -- as antithetical to the ancient Japanese cuisine.

 

``It's still a chauvinist, close-knit community,'' Yi said. ``Purists don't even call us sushi chefs. But everyone else does.''

 

One glance at the corkboard outside the academy's kitchen shows why the school's sessions are always full, purists aside. Index cards advertise positions that pay $3,000 a month with flexible hours. Yi said most jobs pay more for experienced chefs.

 

The academy's job placement rate is nearly 100 percent, and it isn't uncommon for students to get jobs before they are even finished.

 

It may seem puzzling why some people would care so much about the schooling of a sushi chef. Considering that most sushi isn't cooked, per se, how much training does one need?

 

Quite a bit, Yi said. Sushi has evolved from a 15th-century method of preserving fish by salt and fermentation. It takes skill and experience to correctly apply vinegar to both the rice and fish (for flavoring and to draw out the salt) and then prepare them in a perfect roll.

 

Americans may scoff at Matsuda's five-year apprenticeship, for instance, but it has paid off, Yi said. When Matsuda prepares rice, it is easily distinguished from the rice of his students.

 

``I can instantly taste the difference,'' Yi said. ``Theirs is crumbly and clumped. His is sticky, but separate. It's an art.''

 

Sushi is also a great untapped market.

 

According to the National Restaurant Association, there are 5,000 Japanese restaurants in the United States, 80 percent of which serve sushi -- and that figure is expected to grow considerably in the next decade.

 

A 1999 restaurant association report says 79 percent of Americans are aware of sushi, but only 32 percent have tried it. ``We've gotten calls from Kentucky, Mississippi . . . they're just getting started,'' Yi said.

 

All of which means sushi will change to tailor itself to American tastes, Yi said.

 

That has already happened, to a certain extent. There's the famous California roll, which was invented about 25 years ago in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, though its exact inspiration is shrouded in history. The California roll has cucumber and avocado and imitation crab meat and is considered more palatable for Americans. It also has rice on the outside, rather than the seaweed wrap most Japanese rolls have.

 

Speaking of rolls, Japanese restaurants stick mostly to sashimi, slices of raw fish, or nigiri, pieces of seafood served on a bed of rice, not rolls of maki. They often serve sushi in a bowl, chirashi, not on a board.

 

Still, these changes are minor compared with what American restaurants have done to Mexican, French or Chinese cuisine. The sushi served in most U.S. sushi bars is exactly what you'd get across the Pacific.

 

That's starting to change, Yi says. ``Now every restaurant has its own roll.'' And they're served with jalapeños, cream cheese or Cajun spices. Somewhere, a group of Japanese sushi chefs just shuddered.

SZECHUAN DRY BRAISED PRAWNS

Serves 6-8

1 pound medium-size prawns (26 to 30 count), shelled and deveined, with tails

intact

For marinade:

Pinch of salt

Pinch white pepper

1 egg white

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons oil

For blanching:

About 3 cups vegetable oil

For spices:

1/2 small white onion, minced

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 teaspoon chili paste

For seasonings:

1/2 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons dry sherry

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 tablespoon soy sauce

1 green onion, chopped

1 teaspoon sesame oil

 

Rinse shrimp and pat dry. Combine salt, white pepper, egg white, cornstarch and 2 tablespoons oil with prawns. Let stand 10 minutes.

 

To oil-blanch: Set wok over high heat for about 1 minute. Add 3 cups vegetable oil and heat to 300 degrees. Add prawns, stirring gently to separate. Blanch until pink. Remove, and drain.

 

To braise: Remove all but 3 tablespoons oil from wok. Add onion and brown slightly; stir in ginger, garlic and chili paste, and cook until fragrant. Add ketchup, dry sherry, sugar, salt and soy sauce. Add prawns, and braise over high heat until sauce is reduced. Stir in green onion and sesame oil. Transfer to platter to serve.

 

SZECHUAN TOFU

BROCCOLI AND MUSHROOMS

Makes 4 servings

 

This appeared in Vegetarian Times, June 2001.

Sauce:

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/2 cup water (divided)

1 tablespoon chili paste with garlic

1/4 cup tamari or reduced-sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup sherry

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced (3 cups)

5 to 6 cups tiny broccoli florets (from 1 bunch broccoli)

2 medium carrots, thinly sliced diagonally

1/4 cup water

 

To prepare sauce: In small bowl, combine cornstarch and 1/4 cup water and stir until smooth. Stir in chili paste, tamari, sherry and sugar. Set aside.

 

Cut tofu into 1/2-inch slices and pat very dry. Then cut into 1/2-inch cubes and pat dry again.

 

In large nonstick wok or skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add tofu and stir-fry until deeply golden all over, about 3 minutes. Transfer tofu to plate.

 

Add mushrooms to wok and stir-fry until they begin to release juices, about 2 minutes. Add broccoli and carrots, then pour in remaining 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook until broccoli is tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes.

 

Return tofu to wok and toss to mix. Stir sauce once and quickly add to wok. Stir until sauce thickens, about 15 seconds. Serve right away over hot rice.

TACO SOUP

 

1 pound Lean Ground Beef

16 ounces Tomatoes, canned -- chopped

2 cups Corn -- frozen or fresh

16 ounces Kidney Beans -- drained

8 ounces Tomato Sauce

1 package Taco Seasoning Mix

1 small Onion -- chopped

1/2 cup Black Olives -- sliced, with juice

Toppings:

Corn Chips

Cheddar Cheese -- shredded

Sour Cream

 

Brown ground beef and onion with taco seasoning and 3/4 cup water. Add tomato sauce, kidney beans, corn, tomatoes and olives & juice. Add about four cups of water to bring to soup consistency. Simmer for 15 minutes.

 

Serve in bowls over corn chips with sour cream and cheese on top.

 

Note: To freeze, make soup, and freeze in large zip baggies, flat in freezer so they can be stacked or placed on shelves like books. Be sure to label baggies. When ready to serve later on, thaw over night in refrigerator, and heat until simmering. Serve in bowls over corn chips with sour cream and cheese on top.

TOFU TORTILLA CASSEROLE

Makes 6 servings

Sauce:

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups low-fat cottage cheese

12 ounces firm tofu, crumbled

31/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 teaspoons chili powder

11/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

9 6-inch corn tortillas, cut into 6 wedges

41/2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup sliced green onions 10 black olives, sliced

 

To prepare sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat oil. Stir in onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add cottage cheese and tofu and cook 1 minute longer. Add tomatoes, cilantro, chili powder, cumin and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes.

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13-by-9-by-2-inch casserole with nonstick cooking spray.

 

Spread 1 cup sauce in bottom of casserole. Layer with half the tortillas, then sauce, cheddar cheese and green onions. Repeat the layers; top with olives. Bake until lightly browned and cheese is bubbly, about 30 minutes.

TOMATO SOUP

1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 12-ounce can evaporated milk

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 tablespoons butter

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Open can of tomatoes and add baking soda to can. Stir gently with knife to activate. In saucepan, add evaporated milk, whole milk, butter, salt and pepper. Heat to lukewarm. Do not boil. Add tomatoes to warm milk, breaking up large pieces with your hands. Cook until heated through, being careful not to boil. (Tomatoes must be added to warm milk, rather than vice versa, or milk will curdle.)

 

VEGETARIAN HERO SANDWICH

Makes 4 sandwiches

4 crusty, oblong sourdough rolls, each about 3 ounces

1 6-ounce jar marinated halved artichoke hearts

1/4 cup reduced-fat garlic and herb-flavor Rondele or Boursin cheese

2 cups (about 2 ounces) arugula or spinach leaves, rinsed and crisped

1 cup prepared roasted red bell peppers, drained and cut into thin strips

1/4 pound thinly sliced smoked gouda cheese

Thinly sliced red onion

1 cucumber (1/2 pound), peeled and thinly sliced

Halve each sourdough roll horizontally, leaving one long side attached. Scoop out some of the soft bread in the top half of the roll, leaving crust intact.

 

Drain artichokes, reserving 4 tablespoons marinade. Trim off and discard any tough leaves or tips. Cut in half lengthwise and set aside. Brush reserved marinade over scooped-out portion of each roll.

 

Spread the Rondele equally over the bottom half of each roll. Top the cheese with equal portions of arugula, red pepper strips, artichokes, gouda, onion and cucumber. Bring the top portion of the roll over the vegetables to close the sandwich.

 

SHALOM FROM SPIKE & JAMIE



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