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).

ASPARAGUS SPINACH SOUP

BEEF WITH PRESERVED KUMQUATS

BEST BUTTERMILK BISCUIT MIX

BEST TOOLS

BRAISED CHINESE PORK ROAST

BRAISED LAMB SHANKS

BROKEN RICE WITH SHREDDED GARLIC POR

CABBAGE ROLLS

CARIBBEAN VEGETABLE STEW

CARROT BARS

CARROT CHOWDER

CARROT GINGER SOUP

CELERY ROOT PUREE

CHEESE FONDUE

CHERRY EGGNOG QUICK BREAD

CHICKEN WITH POTATOES

CHILI CHUCK ROAST

CHILI MAC

COOKING WITH TEA

COWBOY COOKIES

CREAMED TOMATO BISQUE

CROCK POT WHITE CHICKEN CHILI

CURRY CHICKEN SALAD

EARL GREY CR_ME BR_LÉE

EASY BUTTER CROISSANTS

ENCHILADA GRANDE CASSEROLE

FINGER LICKIN' CHICKEN CLONE

GARDEN PASTA PIE

GOULASH SOUP EASY TO MAKE IN A HURRY

GREEN CHILI MAC AND CHEESE

HOMEMADE CRACKERJACKS

ITALIAN MEATBALL SOUP

KUMQUAT INFORMATION

KUMQUATS PRESERVED

LOVIN' YOUR OVEN

MACARONI WITH WHITE CHEDDAR CHEESE

MARINATED MUSHROOM SALAD

MEATLESS MEALS COME ALIVE

MEATLESS SPAGHETTI SQUASH

MEDITERRANEAN CHICKEN WINGS

MOCK CASSOULET WITH SMOKED BACON

OH BOY! SUPPER

PECAN SHORTBREAD COOKIES

PURÉE OF SPLIT PEA SOUP

RED COOKED PORK

RETURN TO FAMILY TABLE

ROASTED POTATO WITH BLUE CHEESE

ROASTED TOMATO SALSA

ROSEMARY ROASTED FRIES

SAUTÉED CHICKEN WITH WALNUT SAUCE

SCALLOPINI WITH PRESERVED KUMQUATS

SICILIAN SPAGHETTI CAKE

SLOW ROASTED LAMB SHANKS

SMOKE SAUSAGE CASSEROLE

SOUP TIPS

SOUTHERN CHICKEN

SPICY WINTER SQUASH SOUP

STEAK AU POIVRE

STEAK WITH LEMON THYME BUTTER

TEA SAUCED SCALLOPS

TEA SMOKED SALMON ROLLS

TOMATO SOUP WITH CREAM OR WITHOUT

WALNUT SAUCE

ZUCCHINI COOKIES

 

 

 

 

 

 

ASPARAGUS SPINACH SOUP

Serves 4

2 pounds asparagus (about 2 bunches)

29 ounces (2 14 1/2-ounce cans) chicken stock

1 bunch spinach, stemmed and washed well

1/2-1 cup milk (optional: Soup's color is especially vivid if milk is left out.)

Salt

Small pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

 

Remove tough part of stems from asparagus by snapping asparagus in half. Place the stems in a saucepan with chicken stock. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and discard stems.

 

Chop asparagus tips into 1-inch pieces. Bring asparagus broth to a boil, add cut asparagus and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add spinach leaves, and stir to wilt spinach. Transfer asparagus and spinach to a blender and add enough broth so mixture purees smoothly (you may have to do two batches).

 

Transfer puree to a container and add enough broth to achieve desired consistency. Refrigerate until ready to serve. The faster you cool it down, the better the color will be. (The soup may be made 1 day ahead).

 

Heat puree in saucepan, taking care not to boil. Add more reserved broth if necessary and cream or milk if desired. Season with salt and cayenne. Pour in warm bowls and garnish with toasted almonds.

BEEF WITH PRESERVED KUMQUATS

ZAHRA'S

Serves 4

2 1/2 pounds bone-in beef chuck roast, cut into 3-inch chunks (or use lamb

shoulder or lamb stew meat)

2 cups water

6 red bell peppers, seeded, cored and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika

12 preserved kumquats, rinsed under running water and drained

10 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped

 

In a large soup pot, combine meat and water. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Skim off foam. Decrease heat to low, cover and cook until meat falls off bone, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of cooking liquid. Set remainder aside for another use.

 

Place pepper pieces in bottom of a Dutch oven. Cover with meat and sprinkle with garlic cloves. Add turmeric and paprika to reserved 1 1/2 cups cooking liquid and pour over meat. Cover and cook over medium heat until peppers are soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Nestle kumquats among pieces of meat and sprinkle with cilantro. Decrease heat to low, cover, and cook until sauce thickens somewhat, 30 to 35 minutes. Serve hot.

BEST BUTTERMILK BISCUIT MIX

 

7 cups Flour

1 cup Cake Flour

1 cup Buttermilk, dried -- powder

4 teaspoons Salt

4 teaspoons Sugar

4 Tablespoons Double-acting baking powder

4 teaspoons Baking Soda

1 1/2 cups Vegetable Shortening

1/2 cup Unsalted butter

 

Place flours, buttermilk powder, salt, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Use a wire whisk to combine dry ingredients, then cut in the shortening and butter with butter knives or a pastry blender, to form a coarse, crumbly mixture. You can also do this in a large food processor- do it in two half batches- pulsing the processor to cut the fat into the flour. Store mixture in large zip baggies in the freezer for up to three months.

 

To make biscuits:

3 cups Biscuit Mix

3/4 - 1 cup Ice Water

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place three cups of biscuit mix in a medium sized bowl. Make a 'well' in the center and stir in almost all of the ice water if required. Gently knead on a lightly floured beard about 8 times- do not overwork dough. Roll or pat out to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Cut into rounds between 2 and 2 1/2 inches across, making certain you don't twist the biscuit cutter around as you cut the biscuits, or the biscuits will topple as they bake. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake until lightly golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Serve hot. These can also be patted into an 8 inch square baking pan or a 9 inch cast iron. Bake until golden, then cut into squares.

 

**To give as a gift, place a 6-8 ounce jar of jam or honey on top of a folded paper towel in the bottom of a wide mouth quart jar. Cover this with 3 cups of biscuit mix and place seal on the jar.

 

Decorate the jar as desired, and attach the instructions for baking which are above. Be sure to mention that this should be refrigerated until it is used, but not frozen, as the jam/honey jar may break. (If you cannot sanitize the jam/honey jar to your satisfaction before placing into the quart jar, it may be wrapped in plastic wrap to reduce contact between the jar and the mix).

Source: "Volume 3, Gifts & Mixes

http://www.realfood4realpeople.com/books.html"

Copyright: "(C)1999-2002, Kaylin White/Real Food for Real People"

BEST TOOLS

The nearly essential and just plain handy

These tools are the ones that almost made the top 10:

Strainer: ``To strain sauces, stocks, juices, oils, blanched vegetables and many other things,'' says Pamela Keith. ``Makes your finished soup or sauce look professional,'' adds Patrick Roney.

 

Thermometer: ``Get a good-quality all-purpose thermometer that goes to 220 degrees Fahrenheit. It will assist you in knowing what temperature your roast is really at in the oven,'' advises Scott Giambastiani.

 

Mandoline: This tool with a horizontal blade is ``a must for slicing thinly,'' David Kinch says.

 

Ladle: ``For removing fat and anything to do with the liquid part of a recipe,'' Jesse Cool says. Ladles are also important for serving soups and sauces and are good for measuring if you know how many ounces your ladle holds.

 

Kitchen shears: ``The ultimate kitchen and gardening scissors are Joyce Chen brand that cut through metal, fish, chicken bones, wire and flower stems,'' says Gary Danko.

 

Wooden spoons: Joey Altman named them as essential, and Giambastiani agrees: ``Use these for dozens of tasks including stirring soups, scrambling eggs, tasting your finished product. It must be fairly long and made of hard wood. These won't scratch your pots and pans.''

 

Serrated knife: ``Try slicing through a baguette without one,'' Keith says. Serrated knives are also great for tomatoes.

 

Can opener: ``Have you ever seen someone trying to open a can with a knife? I have. It's sad,'' Mohamed Rabbaa says.

 

CHEFS' TOP TOOLS CAN MAKE LIGHT WORK OF COOKING

Here are some of the specialty tools that the chefs on our panel find integral to their work:

Maria Costa uses plastic squeeze bottles to store dressing and to keep and serve sauces for desserts. The salad spinner is one of Pamela Keith's favorites, which she finds perfect for cleaning salad greens and herbs such as parsley. Gary Danko's favorites include a clay-sculpting tool for coring pears and apples, a Silpat mat for baking with little to no fat, and cheesecloth for air-drying duck prosciutto, preparing duck foie gras tourchon and straining fish fumets and other stocks.

Chef Larry Chu depends on the cleaver, a three-tiered bamboo steamer, and long bamboo chopsticks. On McNair's list is a potato ricer, which he uses not just for mashing potatoes and other root vegetables but also for squeezing moisture from cooked spinach and greens to be used in fillings or stuffings. Diane Rose-Tosh uses an 8- or 10-inch Japanese vegetable knife with holes to keep the blade from sticking to foods. She likes it for onions.

 

Patrick Roney said he couldn't resist adding an 11th tool -- a dishwasher -- which he said could either be a machine or, even better, your significant other. In the same spirit, David Kinch says, ``Don't forget a corkscrew!''

 

Costa and Rose-Tosh named a tool you can't buy: your hands. ``Your hands are the cheapest and most important tool in your kitchen, other than the love of cooking,'' Rose-Tosh says.

 

BRAISED CHINESE PORK ROAST

WITH GREENS, TURNIPS AND CINNAMON RICE

This recipe also works well with pork shoulder and a longer cooking time. Star anise and five-spice powder can be found in Asian food markets.

10 servings

 

1 boneless pork loin roast, about 3 pounds

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil

4 green onions, cut in 1-inch pieces

3 pieces star anise or 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder

2 cans (141/4 ounces each) chicken broth

1 cinnamon stick

1 piece (1-inch) ginger root, sliced

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup sherry or white wine

6 turnips, quartered

1 bunch Chinese broccoli or bok choy, trimmed, coarsely chopped

Cinnamon rice:

11/2 cups long-grain rice

3 cups chicken broth

1 cinnamon stick

 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Season pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven, add pork; cook over medium-high heat until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove to platter.

 

Add onions, star anise, chicken broth, cinnamon, ginger, soy sauce, sugar and sherry to the Dutch oven. Heat to boiling, scraping up bits on bottom of pan. Add reserved meat, turnips and Chinese broccoli. Cover. Place in oven; cook 45 minutes.

 

For rice, combine rice, broth and cinnamon in 1-quart baking dish. Cover; bake until tender, 45 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick.

 

Remove pork from Dutch oven; slice. Pour vegetables and some of the cooking liquid into a deep platter; discard cinnamon stick. Top with sliced pork. Serve with cinnamon rice.

 

BRAISED LAMB SHANKS

WITH ORANGE MARMALADE

Serves 4

4 lamb shanks

1/4 cup olive oil, divided use

3 garlic cloves, sliced

Freshly squeezed juice of 2 oranges, about 1 cup

1/2 cup dry white wine

Zest of 1 lemon, removed with a zester or potato peeler

3 tablespoons bitter orange marmalade

1/2 cup chicken stock or water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Preheat broiler until very hot. Brush shanks with 3 tablespoons of oil and season well with salt and pepper. Broil, turning shanks as necessary until well-browned all over.

 

Heat remaining oil in a flameproof casserole; add garlic and brown gently. Add shanks, orange juice, wine and lemon zest. Bring to a boil on top of stove, cover, then transfer to a preheated oven and cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until meat pulls away from bones.

 

Using a slotted spoon, transfer shanks to a plate or bowl and keep warm. Transfer casserole dish to top of stove over medium heat.

 

Add marmalade to casserole, stir until well blended; bring to a boil and simmer until liquid has been reduced to a coating glaze.

 

Return shanks to casserole and turn in glaze until well coated. Serve on heated dinner plates. Add stock to casserole; stir to scrape up flavored bits left in pan, then spoon over shanks and serve.

 

BROKEN RICE WITH SHREDDED GARLIC PORK

Serves 2

For scallion oil:

1/4 cup vegetable oil

5 scallions, green parts only, cut into thin rings

For chili-lime dipping sauce:

1 or 2 cloves garlic

3 Thai bird chilies, chopped or to taste (available at Asian markets)

3 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons fish sauce

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice with some pulp and segments

3 tablespoons water

1 cup thinly cut strips (1/16 inch wide) of cucumber (optional)

For broken rice with pork:

2 cups broken rice (the grains that break when rice is milled, sold at Asian

markets) OR regular long-grain rice

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2/3 pound pork shoulder, excess fat trimmed, cut into two 1-inch-thick pieces

10 whole cloves garlic, peeled

1 cup loosely packed, shredded, pre-cooked, frozen pork skin, rinsed in hot

water and very well drained, available frozen at Asian markets (optional)

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 tablespoons toasted rice powder (available at Asian markets)

 

To make scallion oil: Heat oil in a small pan over moderate heat. Add scallions and stir 10 seconds, using Chinese spatula. Immediately remove from heat and transfer oil with scallions to a small bowl. Place in refrigerator to cool for 10 minutes. (This helps scallions stay green.) Remove and set aside at room temperature when ready to serve. Sauce will keep up to 2 weeks stored in refrigerator in a tight-lidded jar. Makes 1/2 cup.

 

To make chili-lime dipping sauce: Place garlic, chiles and sugar in a mortar and pound into a paste. Transfer to a small bowl and add fish sauce and lime juice and pulp and water. Set aside for 15 minutes for flavors to develop. Sauce will keep up to 2 weeks stored in refrigerator in a tight-lidded jar. Using chopsticks, stir in cucumber strips just before serving. Makes 1/2 cup.

 

To make rice and pork: Rinse rice. Place in rice cooker. If using broken rice, add 2 cups water. If using long-grain rice, add 2 1/4 cups water. Cook until done. Alternately, if cooking rice on stove top, place broken rice in pot with 2 cups water, bring to a boil, stir a few times, then reduce heat to lowest possible temperature. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. If using regular long grain rice, use 2 1/4 cups water.

 

Heat oil in a wok over moderately low heat. Add pork pieces. Cover and cook until edges are golden, about 5 minutes. Turn meat with Chinese spatula and add garlic. Cook until pork is just done, another 5 to 7 minutes. When garlic starts to brown, remove and drain on paper towels. Remove meat and drain on paper towels.

 

Using cleaver, cut shredded pork skin into 2-inch lengths, if using, and set aside.

 

When pork is cool enough to handle, use cleaver to cut pork into thin narrow strips about the length and width of a short matchstick. Place shredded pork in a bowl. Finely chop garlic and add to bowl. Add pork skin, sugar, salt and roasted rice powder. Using chopsticks, stir to combine.

 

To serve, place hot broken rice in center of a plate. Top with shredded pork and scallion oil. Drizzle with dipping sauce.

CABBAGE ROLLS

 

1 lb lean ground beef (raw)

1/3 cup minced onion

1 egg

black pepper (to taste)

1 Tbsp Worcestershire

1 cup cooked white or brown rice

Mix together well

 

12 large cabbage leaves - softened in boiling water for a couple minutes.

Place a scoop of the meat mixture in each cabbage leaf and roll up like a

burrito and place in crock pot

 

Cover with 1 can tomato soup (10 1/2 ounce)

 

6 hours on low OR

2 hours on high and 1-2 hours on low

 

Note: If you don't have a crock pot oven cooking would work just fine at 325

degrees for 3 hours.

CARIBBEAN VEGETABLE STEW

Serves 4

1/4 cup canola or safflower oil

1 onion, chopped

2 teaspoons ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

4 red fresh chilies, seeded and chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated

5 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed

2 red onions, quartered

2 plantains or green bananas, peeled and cut into chunks

6 baby carrots, trimmed

4 cups baby spinach, rinsed

1 cup snow peas

Freshly ground black pepper

Snipped fresh chives for garnishing

 

Put oil in a large, flameproof casserole; add onion and cook until softened and translucent. Add allspice, cumin, nutmeg, chilies, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and parsley and cook until mixture reaches the consistency of a sauce. Season with soy sauce. Add sweet potato, red onions and plantains or bananas. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, then add carrots and spinach and cook for another 5 minutes, adding snow peas in last 2 minutes. Season with pepper; scatter with chives, then serve.

CARROT BARS

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

3 (4-ounce) jars Gerber baby carrots

Frosting

4 tablespoons melted butter

3/4 box confectioner's sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

6 ounces cream cheese, softened

 

Beat eggs and oil together and set aside. Combine dry ingredients. Add eggs and oil to dry ingredients. Mix in carrots. Pour into greased 10-inch by 15-inch jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. Mix together frosting ingredients. When bars have cooled, frost.

 

CARROT CHOWDER

 

1/2 cup Celery -- chopped

1/2 cup Green Pepper -- diced

1 1/2 cups Water

2 1/2 cups Carrots -- grated

3 cloves Garlic -- minced

1/4 teaspoon Salt

1/8 teaspoon Marjoram -- ground

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/2 cup Onion -- chopped

4 cups Tomato Juice

2 cans Cream of Celery soup

1 teaspoon Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

 

Simmer celery, onion, 1/2 tsp. salt and green pepper in small amount of vegetable oil until tender (10 minutes). In a large saucepan, combine tomato juice, water, soup, carrots, sugar, garlic, 1/4 tsp. salt, black pepper & ground marjoram. Add cooked vegetables, then bring to a boil. Simmer for 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

 

Note: For non-vegetarian or less strict vegetarian diets, you may serve chowder in bowls with any kind of shredded cheese on top.

CARROT GINGER SOUP

WITH ROASTED RED PEPPER PUREE

Serves 4

1 onion, minced

1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/2 teaspoon curry powder, optional

4 cups chicken stock

6 cups of rough chopped carrots (about 8 large carrots)

Salt and pepper

Roasted red pepper puree (see Note)

 

In a heavy stock pot, sauté onion and ginger in oil until just soft. Add curry powder, stir and add stock and carrots. Bring to a boil and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 15 minutes.

 

Transfer half the carrots to a blender with a large slotted spoon and add about 1 cup of broth. Puree, adding more broth if needed to process carrots. Let blender run until soup is smooth and creamy. Transfer puree to another pot and repeat with remaining carrots. Add more stock to the pureed soup if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

To make roasted pepper puree: Roast 1 large, bright red bell pepper, skin and seed. Or use pre-roasted peppers, which can be found in upscale grocery stores. Puree pepper until smooth in blender and strain through a fine sieve. Transfer puree to a plastic squeeze bottle (or just use a small spoon) and make squiggles or other designs on the soup.

 

Note: Instead of the red pepper puree, you can use thinned sour cream or toasted almonds for a garnish.

CELERY ROOT PUREE

 

If you've never used celery root, you'll be amazed by its subtle, earthy and haunting flavor. The best way to peel celery root is by cutting off the top and bottom and then, using a sharp knife and a curved cutting motion, removing the rough, brown skin.

Serves 4

1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed (about 2 1/2 cups)

1 large celery root, peeled and cubed (about 4 cups)

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup half-and-half or milk, optional

Salt and cayenne pepper

 

Boil the celery root and potato in salted water until soft, about 15 minutes. Strain and transfer to a blender, doing it in two batches if necessary. Add a cup or two of stock and puree for a long time until smooth. Be careful not to put too many ingredients in the blender at once or it may overflow.

 

Transfer soup to a pot. Add milk if desired. Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper. Garnish, if desired, with fresh chervil, parsley or fried sage leaves.

CHEESE FONDUE

 

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp dry mustard

dash pepper (use white if you don't want black specks)

2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup mayonnaise

 

Mix together all ingredients in saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring

often, until hot and melted. Served with French bread cubes. Easy,

inexpensive and delicious!

CHERRY EGGNOG QUICK BREAD

 

2 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 and 1/4 cup eggnog

6 tablespoons butter, melted

2 large eggs, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped candied cherries (optional)

 

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and nutmeg in large mixing bowl. In

another bowl, stir eggnog, butter, ,eggs and vanilla together until well

blended. Add eggnog mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until all dry

ingredients are moistened. Gently stir in cherries. Grease loaf pans. Pour

mixture into loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes for mini pans

or 45-50 minutes for regular loaf pans or until toothpick comes out clean.

CHICKEN WITH POTATOES

ARTICHOKES, OLIVES AND GARLIC

4 servings

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 chicken, about 3 pounds, cut up, or 3 pounds chicken pieces

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into wedges

1 red onion, halved, sliced

1 package (10 ounces) frozen artichoke hearts

1 jar (8 ounces) pitted kalamata olives, drained

5 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

2 lemons

 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown chicken in batches on all sides, about five minutes a batch.

 

Add potatoes, onion, artichoke hearts, olives, garlic cloves, oregano, salt and pepper. Cut one of the lemons into wedges; add to pan.

 

Squeeze juice from the other lemon over all. Toss.

 

Cover; cook in oven one hour. Remove lid. Cook until chicken is browned and vegetables are tender, stirring vegetables and turning chicken pieces occasionally, about 30 minutes.

CHILI CHUCK ROAST

WITH POBLANOS, RED PEPPERS AND RICE

8 servings

 

1 boneless chuck roast, about 3 pounds, trimmed

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon garlic-flavored oil or olive oil

2 cans (141/4 ounces each) beef broth

2 poblano peppers, seeded, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, seeded, coarsely chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes

1/2 to 1 canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce, finely chopped, optional

1 1/2 cups long-grain rice

 

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Rub roast on both sides with chili powder, salt and pepper. Heat oil over medium-high heat in Dutch oven.

 

Add roast; cook until browned on one side, five minutes. Turn; cook five minutes. Remove to platter.

 

Add one can of the broth to Dutch oven; cook over medium-high heat, scraping bottom of pan to dissolve browned bits. Return roast and any accumulated juices to Dutch oven. Cover; cook in oven 21/2 hours.

 

Remove roast from oven. Stir in peppers, onion, tomatoes, chipotle chili, rice and remaining can of broth. Return to oven. Cover; cook until meat is tender and rice is cooked, about 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

COOKING WITH TEA

How to eat tea with a fork: Cook with it

BY CYNTHIA WOLLMAN, Special to the Mercury News

For centuries, chefs in Asia have been cooking with tea. In China, where the cultivation of tea plants began 4,000 years ago, tea-smoked duck and hard-boiled eggs braised in tea and soy sauce are popular dishes. In Japan, green tea is used to flavor a variety of foods, from soba noodles to ice cream.

 

Now, with new cookbooks touting tea's virtues and restaurants focusing on cross-cultural cuisines, chefs in California are discovering that tea can be a versatile ingredient in everything from poultry to pastry.

 

``The interest in tea has grown steadily over the last 10 to 15 years,'' says Diana Rosen, a tea consultant, editor of the quarterly Tea Talk newsletter and co-author of the recently published ``Cooking With Tea.''

 

In part, that interest has been fueled by tea's reputation for containing antioxidants that may lower the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.

 

``It's a natural segue that if you drink something good for you, what else can you do with it?'' Rosen says. Besides, she adds, ``Chefs are always looking for a new ingredient or technique to titillate and excite the palate.''

 

At the Dining Room in San Mateo, where chef-owner Jon Sears likes to introduce diners to new flavors, tea is used to smoke fish or in the comforting tea soup known as ochazuke, served with kasu-glazed sea bass and pickled plum oil.

 

But tea can also play a key role in desserts such as those made by Camal El Sherifi, executive pastry chef at San Mateo's Viognier, who makes Earl Grey ice cream, dates marinated in tea and other tea-flavored sweets.

 

Tea is a sophisticated flavor that titillates the nose as well as the tongue. As with wine, there are countless varieties, and each type of tea can vary based on estate, geography and weather. The same tea can highlight different flavors depending on how it is paired with other foods.

 

Like any other ingredient, tea used for cooking should be fresh. Purchase whole leaves in small quantities. Store them away from heat, light and moisture and use within three months.

 

There are numerous techniques to use in cooking with tea. It can be ground to a powder as part of a spice rub for use on meat, fish or poultry. It can be used with sugar, rice and other spices to smoke vegetables or other foods. But the most versatile way to cook with tea is to brew it in liquid, strain out the leaves and use the remaining infusion as a marinade, braising broth or the base for a sauce. In cooking, the liquid used to brew tea isn't always water. It can be anything from cream to stock to juice.

 

There are two key rules for infusing tea for cooking:

 

Don't steep the tea too long (3-4 minutes maximum).

 

Keep the liquid temperature below 185 degrees (for water, that is a slow simmer). Using a higher temperature will result in harsh, tannic flavors. Once the tea leaves have been strained and discarded, it is fine to cook with the infused liquid at higher temperatures. (As an alternative, Rosen suggests using cold water to infuse the leaves for up to two hours, ``which results in the best, most flavorful extraction with absolutely no bitterness.'')

It's not surprising that a chef such as Sears would discover cooking with tea.

 

At the Dining Room, he experiments with monthly themes that range from his opulent Gatsby Dinner featuring truffles, lobster and caviar to one that features South American and West Indies food. His objective is dishes that ``introduce the diner to a new flavor and spark a memory.''

 

A native of the Bay Area, Sears was exposed to many cultures as a child, primarily in Hawaii, where he often visited relatives. When he was a child, jasmine tea was the first tea he enjoyed without sugar. Today, high-quality jasmine pearl is still his favorite tea for drinking and cooking.

 

Unlike Rosen, who maintains that all true tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, Sears views all plant infusions as tea and enjoys using coffee, tobacco, flowers and herbs in infusions.

 

Self-taught, Sears considers himself an intuitive cook and advises: ``Let the food speak to you and the food tells you what to do, instead of the other way around.'' For example, he uses black tea for smoking and curing, especially when working with fish. He says the flavors of poultry and game sometimes compete with tea. With fish, which is more delicate, porous and easier to infuse, the flavors marry.

 

Because he tries to use ingredients indigenous to a particular culture, Sears would never use Asian tea in a Southwestern dish. Instead, he serves jasmine tea tapioca pearls with lychee black tea-cured salmon rolls, tuna tartare and salmon caviar. For a North African meal, he would cook couscous in mint tea. And when serving a healthy ``hippie'' salad with goat cheese and maple balsamic vinaigrette, Sears pairs it with Good Earth tea gelée.

 

El Sherifi also was exposed to numerous cultures while growing up. He was born in North Africa and lived there until he was 10, when his father, a diplomat, moved the family to Paris. El Sherifi graduated from the École Lenôtre school of pastry and served as assistant pastry chef for Pierre Hermé at Fauchon in Paris.

 

Like Sears, El Sherifi's favorite tea to drink is jasmine pearl. In North Africa, men drink the first infusion of tea plain, women drink the weaker second infusion and children drink the mildest third infusion with sugar. El Sherifi still prefers his the ``children's way.'' As he says, ``I'm a pastry chef, and I like sugar.''

 

He aims for the harmony of ``the three T's: taste, texture and temperature.'' And while he believes that every chocolate has its own kind of tea that it coordinates with, El Sherifi admits that not all teas work in pastry. For example, he doesn't use smoky teas or mint teas.

 

For cooking, his favorite tea is Earl Grey. Its ``delicate flavor and taste of bergamot gives another dimension'' to pastry, he says, and, like jasmine, it can ``change face'' depending on other ingredients. He serves his Earl Grey crème brûlée with grapefruit sections that pair naturally with the tea's citrus flavoring, bergamot. El Sherifi also makes Earl Grey ice cream, Earl Grey chocolate truffles, and, in a nod to his North African heritage, dates marinated in Earl Grey served with citrus salad and almond gelée.

COWBOY COOKIES

 

5 cups Flour

1 pound Margarine

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

4 Eggs

2 teaspoons Baking Soda

4 cups Quick Oatmeal

2 cups White Sugar

2 cups Brown Sugar -- packed

1 cup chopped nuts -- (optional)

12 ounces Milk Chocolate Chips

1 tablespoon Vanilla

1 cup boiled Raisins

 

Cream eggs, sugars, vanilla and margarine in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients, then nuts, chips and raisins. Mix well. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not overbake! Store in a covered container to keep cookies soft.

 

Note: These cookies, as well as the dough, freeze well. To freeze dough, divide into 4 sections and form into 'logs', then wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze up to 3 months. To use frozen dough, slice cookies from log, and bake as directed above. Copyright: "(c)1999-2002 Kaylin White/Real Food for Real People"

Yield: 12 dozen

CREAMED TOMATO BISQUE

Bisque is a thick, rich soup usually containing puréed seafood and cream. This recipe comes from "Cookery For Entertaining" by Marlene Sorosky (HP Books, 1979). You can pour this soup, hot or cold, into a thermos to add an elegant touch to your lunch at work.

8 servings

 

1/4 pound butter or margarine

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 cans (28 ounces each) whole tomatoes, drained and chopped

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon basil

1 teaspoon marjoram

1 bay leaf

4 cups chicken broth

1 pint whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Salt to taste

 

Melt butter or margarine in a large saucepan. Sauté celery, onion and carrots until tender. Stir in flour. Cook two minutes, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes, sugar, basil, marjoram, bay leaf and chicken broth. Cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

Discard bay leaf. Purée 1/3 of the mixture at a time in blender. Add cream, paprika, curry powder and pepper. Stir to blend. Add salt to taste.

 

Serve hot or cold. May be refrigerated several days.

CROCK POT WHITE CHICKEN CHILI

 

6 skinless chicken thighs or 3 breasts (1 1/2 lbs.)

1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 can (14 1/2 oz.) chicken broth

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. dried oregano leaves

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. red pepper sauce (Tabasco)

2 cans (15 to 16 oz.) great northern beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (15 oz.) corn, shoe peg or whole kernel, drained (opt.)

3 Tbsp. lime juice

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

 

1. Remove excess fat from chicken. Mix onion, garlic, broth, cumin, oregano,

salt and pepper sauce in 3 1/2 - 6 quart crock. Add chicken.

2. Cover and cook on low 4-5 hours or until chicken is tender.

3. Remove chicken. Use 2 forks to remove bones and shred chicken into

pieces. Discard bones; return chicken to crock. Stir in beans, corn, lime

juice and cilantro. Cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes or until beans and

corn are hot. Source: Betty Crocker New Slow Cooker Recipes

CURRY CHICKEN SALAD

 

This versatile recipe is easy and flexible. You can substitute sliced almonds for cashews and add grapes, apples or pineapple chunks to give this dish a different taste.

6 servings

 

3 cups shredded cooked chicken

3/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup thinly sliced celery

2/3 cup mayonnaise

2/3 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons pineapple or orange juice

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon curry powder

3/4 cup dry-roasted cashews

1/2 pound fresh snow peas, trimmed and blanched

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/2 cup toasted coconut

 

Combine chicken, raisins and celery in a glass bowl. Stir in mayonnaise, sour cream, pineapple or orange juice, coriander, ginger and curry powder. Mix well.

 

Cover with heavy-duty plastic wrap and vent. Microwave at medium-high (70 percent power) for 31/2 to 41/2 minutes or until hot. Stir in cashews.

 

Arrange snow peas around outside edge of serving platter. Spoon chicken mixture on top of snow peas. Sprinkle with bacon and coconut.

 

Serve immediately.

 

 

EARL GREY CRÈME BRÛLÉE

Camal El Sherifi uses whole milk and cream because he believes an all-cream dish would dominate the tea's delicate flavor. Milk also gives this crème brûlée the dimension of having tea with milk, the English way.

Serves 6

3 3/4 cups whole milk

1 2/3 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon Earl Grey tea leaves

3/4 cup sugar

8 egg yolks

Raw brown sugar and grapefruit segments to finish

 

Bring milk and cream to a boil. Add tea leaves and infuse, covered, no more than 4 minutes. Strain tea leaves and remove.

 

Mix sugar and egg yolks. Add to infused milk. Strain.

 

Refrigerate the mixture until cool and skim off any foam.

 

Divide custard among six ramekins and place ramekins in a baking dish. Fill dish with hot water until water reaches about 1/2 to 1/3 of the way up the ramekins. Cover baking dish with a cookie sheet. (Do not use aluminum foil.)

 

Bake at 350 degrees, until the center of the custards is set, about 30 minutes. Allow baking dish to cool. Remove ramekins and refrigerate at least 3 hours. If water condenses on top of the crème brûlée, dab away with a paper towel. Just before serving, sprinkle raw brown sugar on top of crème brûlée and use a kitchen torch or place ramekins under broiler to caramelize sugar. Serve with grapefruit segments to highlight the bergamot in Earl Grey.

EASY BUTTER CROISSANTS

32 croissants

 

5 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted

1 cup butter or margarine, refrigerator temperature

1 package active dry yeast

1 cup warm water, about 110 degrees

3/4 cup evaporated milk

11/2 teaspoons salt

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted and cooled

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

 

Fit metal blade in processor. Add 4 cups of the flour. Cut butter in 1/2-inch squares and distribute over flour. Process, using on-off bursts, until butter particles range from the size of peas to dried beans. Transfer to large mixing bowl.

 

Process yeast and water with two on-off bursts. Add milk, salt, sugar, egg, the remaining 1 cup flour and melted butter, and process until batter is smooth.

 

Pour over butter-flour mixture. With spatula, carefully turn mixture over just until all flour is moistened. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours, or up to four days.

 

Turn dough onto a floured board, press into a ball and knead briefly to release air. Divide dough into four equal parts. Shape one part at a time, leaving remaining dough in refrigerator.

 

On a floured board, roll one portion of dough into a 14-inch circle. With sharp knife, cut in eight equal wedges. Loosely roll each wedge from wide end toward point. Curve into a crescent and place, point side down, on an ungreased baking sheet.

 

Repeat until all croissants are shaped and placed on baking sheet 11/2 inches apart all around.

 

Cover lightly and let rise at room temperature in a draft-free place. Do not speed rising by placing in warm spot.

 

When almost doubled, about two hours, brush with egg-water mixture. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 35 minutes or until lightly browned.

 

Serve warm or let cool on racks.

ENCHILADA GRANDE CASSEROLE

 

1 lb lean ground beef

1 16 oz can refried beans

1 15 oz can low-sodium tomato sauce (we found Hunt's No Salt Added)

1/2 cup water

1 1 3/8 oz pkg enchilada sauce mix

8 7-8 inch flour tortillas

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Sour cream (optional)

Sliced green onion (optional)

 

In a large skillet, cook ground beef until brown. Drain off fat. Stir in

refried beans, tomato sauce, water and enchilada sauce mix. Bring to

boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring

occasionally. Grease a 3 qt rectangular baking dish (I use a round 2qt

because it fits the tortillas!). Arrange four tortillas in the bottom of

prepared dish, trimming and overlapping as necessary to cover bottom of

dish. Spoon half of meat mixture over tortillas

in dish. Sprinkle with half of cheese. Repeat layering with remaining

tortillas and remaining meat mixture. Bake, uncovered, in oven at 350 for 20

minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, about 10 minutes

more or until heated through. Let stand 10 minutes. Top with sour cream and

sliced green onion, if desired. Makes 8-10 servings.

 

Make ahead directions:

Assemble as directed. Cover unbaked casserole; seal remaining cheese in

plastic bag. Chill casserole and cheese in the refrigerator up to 24 hours.

Bake casserole, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven about 35 minutes, or until

heated through. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve

as above.

FINGER LICKIN' CHICKEN

KFC clone Chicken tip

 

The trick to making a puffy coating for fried chicken, a la KFC, is to use club soda and baking powder in the batter

 

2 cups buttermilk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

11/2 cups sifted flour

21/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons salt

1 cup club soda

Soak chicken pieces in buttermilk and lemon juice for two hours. Drain. Combine remaining ingredients. Coat chicken with mixture and deep-fry.

 

Fried chicken should be cooked in at least 2 inches of hot oil (360 degrees) for 10 to 15 minutes, turning twice. The chicken cooks more evenly if the pieces are the same size. Breasts should be cut in half and thighs should be separated from the drumsticks.

GARDEN PASTA PIE

1 tablespoon oil

1 cup onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups linguine, cooked

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 medium tomatoes, cored and sliced, divided

1 1/2 cups zucchini, sliced

1 1/2 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 8-inch spring-form pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside. In a small non-stick skillet, heat oil and add onion and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.

 

Transfer onion and garlic to medium mixing bowl. Add linguine, parsley, lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon each oregano and basil. Add pepper and toss well.

 

In small bowl, combine ricotta, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, egg, and remaining oregano and basil. Stir into linguine mixture until blended.

 

Place half linguine mixture in prepared pan. Arrange half the tomato slices and half the zucchini slices on top. Add remaining linguine. Top with remaining zucchini and tomatoes. Sprinkle with mozzarella and remaining Parmesan. Cover with foil; place on baking sheet and bake 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake until golden, about 5 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

GOULASH SOUP EASY TO MAKE IN A HURRY

HUNGARIAN PAPRIKA SWEETENS POT

BY LINDA GASSENHEIMER, Knight Ridder

 

When my son arrived for dinner one Sunday evening with a winter cold, I prepared Hungarian goulash soup in only a few minutes with ingredients I had on hand.

 

Goulash is a traditional Hungarian dish made with bacon and other meat, Hungarian paprika, potatoes and spices. It was prepared by the Magyars as a method of preserving meat and was cooked for a very long time, allowing the meat to become tender. For this recipe, I used a low-fat smoked sausage to shorten the cooking time while still producing a flavorful result. This soup gains flavor as it sits. Make double and refrigerate the extra for another quick dinner.

 

Hungarian paprika lends a sweet pepper flavor to the soup. It can be found in the spice section of many supermarkets. Regular paprika will also work well. Be sure your paprika is fresh. If you like a peppery soup, look for hot Hungarian paprika.

 

HUNGARIAN GOULASH SOUP

Serves 2

1/4 pound low-fat smoked sausage

Vegetable oil spray

1 medium red onion, sliced (2 cups)

3 medium garlic cloves, crushed

2 stalks celery, sliced (1 cup)

2 carrots, sliced (1 cup)

1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika

2 teaspoons caraway seeds

2 cups fat-free, low-salt chicken broth

1 cup water

3/4 pound russet potatoes

2 slices rye bread

 

Cut sausage into 1-inch cubes. Spray a large saucepan with vegetable oil spray. Sauté onion, garlic, celery, carrots and sausage for 5 minutes. Add paprika, caraway seeds, broth, water and potatoes. Bring to a boil, cover and cook 15 minutes on high heat. Toast bread. Serve soup in large soup bowls with toast,

accompanied by Marinated Mushroom Salad.

GREEN CHILI MAC AND CHEESE

Serves 6

For roasted poblano puree:

6-7 poblano chilies (about 1 3/4 pounds)

For mac and cheese:

1 pound elbow macaroni

Butter for gratin dishes

3 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 cups ( 1/2 pound) grated Monterey Jack cheese

3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

About 14 tortilla chips, pulsed in food processor for medium crumbs

1 small ripe tomato, cut into small dice

Fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish

 

To make poblano puree: Turn an electric stove burner to high, place poblanos directly on it and turn, using tongs, until charred on all sides, about 12 minutes. Alternatively, broil under broiler. Place poblanos in a brown paper bag and close bag (making sure there are no burning embers on chilies) or in a bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap, until cool enough to handle. Then rub off skin and remove stems and seeds. Puree in blender and reserve. (Wear rubber gloves while handling chilies, and thoroughly wash hands with soap afterward.)

 

To make mac and cheese: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and cook macaroni until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.

 

Preheat broiler. Lightly butter 6 individual gratin dishes or shallow ovenproof bowls or a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

 

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, poblano puree, cilantro, salt and pepper and simmer about 7 minutes; simmer 3 minutes more to meld flavors. Stir in macaroni and cook until cream returns to a simmer, 3 to 5 minutes. Add grated cheeses and bring mixture back to a simmer, stirring constantly, until cheeses are melted.

 

Divide mixture among gratin dishes or bowls or pour into baking dish. Sprinkle with tortilla crumbs to cover completely, and gently flatten with a large spoon. Place under broiler until topping is golden brown, about 2 minutes (watch carefully so it doesn't burn). Garnish with diced tomato and cilantro sprigs.

 

HOMEMADE CRACKERJACKS

 

1/4 c. honey

1/4 c. butter or margarine

1 1/2 qt. popped corn

3/4 c. peanuts

 

Melt honey and butter or margarine in a small saucepan. Place popped corn and peanuts in a large bowl and mix together. Add the honey mixture and stir to completely coat. Spread the mixture in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10-15 min. or until crisp. Cool and store in airtight container. Recipe from "Foods for Healthy Kids", book by Dr. Lendon Smith.

ITALIAN MEATBALL SOUP

 

It's quickly prepared, but this soup doesn't need more work.

 

It's complete -- a cheering meal in itself for a wintry day or evening.

 

The cook gets a jump start by using fully cooked frozen beef meatballs. Total preparation should be about 20 minutes.

 

You can find fully cooked meatballs in the grocer's freezer case. They need only to be heated through and they're ready to serve, which makes them a particularly practical ingredient for speedy soups.

 

For this recipe, use the Italian-seasoned meatballs for their flavor. Frozen mixed vegetables, canned beef broth and diced tomatoes, too, help make the soup's preparation extra fast -- as does using small pasta such as ditalini, which requires only a short cooking time.

 

All you need to add, finally, is crusty bread and soup's on.

4-6 servings

 

1 (18-ounce) package frozen fully cooked Italian-seasoned beef meatballs (about

35 meatballs)

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

1 (14-ounce) can ready-to-serve beef broth (approximate size)

1 (141/2-ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes 1 cup water

1/3 cup uncooked ditalini, or small shell pasta

Shredded Parmesan cheese

 

Combine meatballs, vegetables, broth, tomatoes, water and pasta in large saucepan; bring to a boil.

 

Reduce heat; simmer 8 to 10 minutes or until pasta is tender.

 

Serve with cheese, as desired.

KUMQUAT INFORMATION

Move over, salted lemons: Here come the kumquats

BY CAROLYN JUNG, Mercury News

We cut them, we salted them, we gawked at them and went downright loony over our lemons. Now there's a new preserved citrus on the block.

 

Moroccan-food expert Kitty Morse, who helped me help you discover the glories of preserved lemons, has done it again -- this time with kumquats.

 

In her new cookbook, ``The Scent of Orange Blossoms: Sephardic Cuisine From Morocco'' (Ten Speed Press, $24.95), the Casablanca-born Morse shows off the technique for preserving kumquats learned from Zahra Aflalo, the mother of her co-author, Fez native Danielle Mamane.

 

This Sephardic condiment was introduced to Morocco by Jews who fled from Spain and Portugal in the late 15th century during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. Grown in Morocco, China, Japan and the United States, kumquats, which look like oblong marble-size oranges, are preserved with salt. But unlike preserved lemons, which are made by slashing lemons and stuffing them with kosher salt, the kumquats are not cut, but kept whole in the jar, and layered with lemon slices and salt. The jar is then topped off with equal parts water and white distilled vinegar.

 

For you who, like me, found week by week that you couldn't take your eyes off your lemons as they exuded more and more juice and their rinds softened little by little and they were transformed into an almost marmalade-like texture, kumquats probably won't drive you as fruity.

 

First, unlike the jar of lemons that stays out so visibly on the counter until the citrus gives off much of its juice, kumquats go immediately into the refrigerator to help preserve their bright color. Second, kumquats don't undergo as much of an external change; unlike the lemons, they keep their shape.

 

That's not to say you won't find yourself opening the refrigerator door at odd moments just to get a glimpse of the artsy jar layered with sunshine. But unlike the lemons, which take four to six weeks to soften enough to use, the kumquats are ready in two weeks.

 

Now's the perfect time to get on the kumquat kick since they are in season through March. You can find them at such stores as De Martini Orchard in Los Altos and Cosentino's in San Jose and Santa Clara.

 

The fresh kumquat, a good source of potassium and vitamins A and C, is entirely edible, with a sweet rind and dry, sour flesh. The preserved version will have its tartness mellowed, its orange flavor heightened, and a tangy, pickled taste from the vinegar. The flavor reminds me a bit of dried Asian tangerine or orange peels, used for cooking or snacks.

 

``The preserved lemon is more of a classic; the kumquat more of a novelty,'' Morse says. ``You can't always use them interchangeably in dishes that traditionally call for preserved lemons. The texture is a bit chewier, so they're not as versatile. But they can add a nice depth.''

 

Morse rinses the preserved kumquats in water before adding them to salads or any uncooked dishes to temper their vinegary pucker. But in tagines, slow-simmered Moroccan stews, she likes to use them as is. Kumquats can be split in half before using to remove the two or three small seeds inside. Or you can use them whole like unpitted olives and warn guests they might have to spit out the seeds.

 

Stir whole preserved kumquats into beef or chicken stews. Add diced kumquat to a chicken or seafood salad or to sautéed chard or spinach. Jazz up cream cheese with diced kumquat and slather on crackers, bread or bagels.

I'm thinking kumquats might add a great twist to oxtail stew, since so many classic Chinese recipes for it already call for dried tangerine peel. Or perhaps something with duck, since duck and oranges have a natural affinity.

 

First, lemons. Now, kumquats. What citrus craze will Morse prompt next?

 

Certainly not limes, she says, laughing. Although they can be preserved just like lemons, they undergo a nasty color change, losing their deep green and taking on an awful gray pallor.

 

``I think that's as far as I'm going to go with citrus,'' Morse says. A pity.

KUMQUATS PRESERVED

Preserved kumquats

Makes 1 quart

1 pound unblemished kumquats, cleaned under running water

Kosher salt

3 unblemished lemons

1/3 cup white distilled vinegar

1/3 cup water

 

Place a layer of kumquats on bottom of a clean 1-quart glass jar. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons salt. Cut lemons into 1/4-inch slices and sprinkle each side with salt. Cover kumquats with a layer of lemon slices. Continue layering kumquats, salt and salted lemon slices until jar is full. Top with a layer of lemon slices. Add 1/3 cup vinegar and 1/3 cup water to cover (if needed, add more vinegar and water, in equal proportions, until liquid covers fruit). Seal tightly. Refrigerate for 2 weeks before using. Rinse under running water before using. Keep refrigerated after opening to help maintain the brilliant color of the fruit. Store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.

LOVIN' YOUR OVEN

 

Hot and slow in the oven, from the top: A traditional cassoulet bean dish can takes days to prepare; ours takes only two hours. Chicken with potatoes, artichokes, olives and garlic blend nicely in a Dutch oven. Chili chuck roast with poblanos, red peppers and rice is cooked in a casserole pan in your oven.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE, January 23, 2002 Posted: 07:35:05 AM PST

 

Let us pause and praise the oven meal ... meat, vegetables, seasonings and sometimes a grain -- all nestled together like so many peas in a pod.

 

Happily heating away, mingling their essences until the whole takes on new flavors and textures not possible in stove-top or microwave cooking. The oven meal is comfort food personified. And now is the time to take advantage of its charms.

 

"Oven dishes are typically what we do at home in the winter," said cooking teacher and chef Peggy Ryan. "We have a few favorites like my braised lamb shanks with fennel, potatoes and lentils, or what I call Sicilian grandma food, like braciola -- round steak stuffed and rolled with sausage and oven-braised in a red wine-tomato sauce."

 

And oven meals often mean fond memories: "When I was a child, I remember my mother, who is Pennsylvania Dutch, would make white beans with ham hocks, with onion, celery, carrot," Ryan said. "It would take all day to bake."

 

Beans also bring memories for Kocoa Scott Winbush, a cooking teacher and cookbook author.

 

"As a child, the oven dish that really stands out was my mom's pork and beans. She would season them like baked beans with mustard and all, and then -- though I don't recommend anyone really do this today! -- she would sear slices of Spam just enough to get a crust on them. She would either put the Spam into the beans or just leave it on top to heat through. My sister and I loved that."

 

Today, Winbush prefers slightly more sophisticated oven meals, including some vegetarian options. "I like making a tofu casserole with broccoli, an Asian satay sauce and cilantro. I think some of the better oven meals are totally vegetarian."

 

Whether vegetarian or for meat lovers, oven meals mean freedom for the cook. After putting ingredients together in a pot, casserole or roaster, you are free to pursue other interests as the food bubbles away for hours. This cooking style is perfect for weekend cooking, but is not out of the realm for weeknight meals when you choose recipes with shorter cooking times.

 

You can mix and match ingredients in one or two pots: rice or pasta for the grain; pork, beef, lamb, chicken or duck for the protein; potatoes, carrots or any green vegetables; spices and herbs; and water, wine or broth.

 

It's the oven's heat that cooks the food from the outside in. If you leave the pan uncovered, you are roasting. If you cover the pan, you are braising or baking.

 

Though the indoor, non-wood-fired oven is relatively new (the first gas oven was commercially produced in England in 1836, according to The Food Chronology), the notion of long, slow cooking is not. Stone Age clay pots buried in hot ashes may have been the first kind of improvised oven cooking.

 

In the Middle Ages, when cooks had no ovens in their homes, they would trundle their pot of ingredients to the local baker with his huge, wood-burning oven, for all-day slow cooking, then fetch it back that night.

 

American pioneers perfected cast-iron Dutch oven cooking in the ashes of their hearths. Even the early custom of burying food underground with hot coals (think clambake or Hawaiian luaus) was an early sort of oven.

 

Today, it is much easier. Turn the oven dial to a selected temperature. Combine ingredients in an ovenproof roaster, casserole or Dutch oven. Insert into oven. And wait.

 

21st-century 'oven-izing'

 

But some tips help ensure success. Most oven meals need a liquid "and enough of it for long cooking, so the foods don't dry out," Winbush said.

 

Meat cooked in liquid needs to sit in that liquid after removing it from the oven, Ryan added: "Let it rest for about 20 minutes. Or better yet, let it cool completely, maybe overnight, and then reheat it. It really reabsorbs the liquid and all of its flavors."

 

Ryan also cautioned about what herbs you use and how much of each.

 

"You don't want to overpower the dish. Bay leaf, for example, can get strong over a long cooking period. Hot spices such as fresh or dried chili peppers or cayenne also will increase in potency over the cooking time."

 

"To make sure things get evenly cooked," Winbush added, "cut all the vegetables into one consistent size."

 

Linda West Eckhardt and Katherine West Defoyd, the authors of "Stylish One-Dish Dinners," agree.

 

"We prefer large chunks so that the vegetables have plenty of surface for crisp bites, but creamy centers for all the comfort that brings," they write.

 

For most dishes, Winbush suggests a medium heat (350 degrees). "You are not trying to brown everything."

 

Crank up the heat

 

For some recipes, though, such as those that include roast beef or lamb, you may want some caramelization to occur, so you will need a higher temperature to start. Or brown the meat on the stove top first.

 

Authors Eckhardt and Defoyd believe in the high-temperature start.

 

"Place an oven thermometer in your oven to be sure it is heated to the temperature you have set," they write. "It's important to get the oven plenty hot so that when the pan of food is placed inside, everything goes pow and the surfaces are sealed up tight. In the end you should have gorgeous, caramelized vegetables; their sugars have transformed them into golden, glistening bites.

 

"As far as we're concerned, almost any combination cooked in one pot is improved by using the browning method first. Flavors are extracted, time is allowed for and the marriage of tastes is unforgettable.

 

"Think of it as a long, delicious romance before the wedding. A little courtship is worth the time you put into it to build a better foundation for a solid marriage."

MACARONI WITH WHITE CHEDDAR CHEESE

AND CREMINI MUSHROOMS

Serves 4-6

16 tablespoons canola oil, plus additional for baking dish

2 slices white bread (fresh or stale)

1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated grana padano cheese OR grated Parmigiano-

Reggiano cheese

1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, washed, dried and sliced 1/8 inch thick

1 pound ziti

6 rounded tablespoons flour

2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

1/2 tablespoon dry mustard

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or ovenproof casserole.

 

Toast bread in oven until golden, 4 to 5 minutes, and allow to cool. Break into chunks, chop into crumbs in a food processor and mix with grana padano. Set aside.

 

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat 4 tablespoons canola oil until very hot, and sauté mushrooms until fully cooked, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and place in a strainer to drain and cool.

 

Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil with 4 tablespoons canola oil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat remaining 8 tablespoons canola oil until moderately hot and whisk in flour. Cook, whisking constantly, until lightly golden brown, about 5 minutes. Raise heat and slowly whisk in milk; cook, whisking, until it comes to a boil. Whisk in cheddar until well blended. Add salt, pepper and mustard, and cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens -- it will get quite thick (it starts to thicken as soon as you add the milk, so this part takes only a few minutes). Remove from heat, add ziti and mushrooms, and stir until well coated.

 

Pour macaroni mixture into prepared baking dish and top with bread crumb mixture. Bake on middle shelf until bubbling and top is golden, about 20 minutes.

 

MARINATED MUSHROOM SALAD

Serves 2

1/4 pound button mushrooms, washed and sliced

2 tablespoons creamy non-fat salad dressing

Several lettuce leaves

2 teaspoons dried dill

 

Toss mushrooms in dressing and let stand 10 minutes. Wash lettuce leaves and place on serving plate. Spoon mushrooms on top. Sprinkle with dill.

MEATLESS MEALS COME ALIVE

WITH WINTER VEGGIES

January 23, 2002 Posted: 07:35:05 AM PST

 

By WILLIAM RICE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE

 

Here's an all-vegetable, two-course meal that is filled with ingredients we associate with winter.

 

If you've never experienced the fun of creating spaghetti-like strands by pulling apart the aptly named spaghetti squash, you are in for a treat. Mushrooms cooked with tomato, garlic, herbs and a dash of ground red pepper make a full-flavored, satisfying topping for the squash.

 

Furthermore, having a "pasta" without flour or eggs means we can treat ourselves to a starchy first course. The addition of the sweet-sour vinegar reduction and dabs of blue cheese takes our potato to a whole new level of taste.

 

This is an adaptation of a recipe developed by New York City chef Bobby Flay.

 

Time-saving tips

 

The trick in preparing this vegetarian meal with elan lies in the sequence of preparation.

 

Begin by cooking the spaghetti squash and heating the oven. While the squash steams, do the vinegar-honey syrup for the potato, slice the potato and combine the spices, herb, salt, pepper and oil in a bowl. Toss the potato slices with the spice mixture.

 

Next, prepare the tomato-mushroom sauce. As the sauce cooks, pull apart the spaghetti squash and place it in a microwave-proof dish. Arrange the potato slices on the baking sheet and roast them.

 

Cover the sauce and keep warm. Just before, or just after, eating the potato, reheat the spaghetti squash and serve.

MEATLESS SPAGHETTI SQUASH

WITH TOMATO-MUSHROOM SAUCE

2 servings

 

1 small spaghetti squash, about 11/2 pounds

Salt, freshly ground pepper

 

2 teaspoons butter

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large portobello mushrooms, cleaned, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 large, ripe tomatoes, seeded, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil

11/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves

Pinch ground red pepper or more to taste

1/3 cup vegetable broth or water

Grated Parmesan cheese

 

Heat 2 inches of water to a boil in a casserole with a tight-fitting lid. Cut squash in half; remove seeds. Cut in half again. Place a rack in the casserole. Place squash on rack; cover.

 

Steam until squash yields when pressed with a finger, about 25 minutes. Remove squash; let cool slightly. Pull squash flesh away from the skin with a fork into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with butter.

 

Meanwhile, cook onion in oil in a skillet over medium heat until translucent, three minutes. Add the mushrooms; cook, stirring often, until they soften, four minutes. Add tomato, garlic, basil, thyme, red pepper and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer eight to 10 minutes, but do not allow mixture to become dry.

 

Place shredded squash in a microwave-proof dish, Cover with plastic wrap and reheat in a microwave oven on high two minutes, 30 seconds.

 

Remove wrap and season with salt and pepper. Toss and portion onto plates. Spoon hot sauce atop squash. Top with Parmesan.

MEDITERRANEAN CHICKEN WINGS

 

10 chicken wings

3 tablespoons Kikkoman Soy Sauce

1-1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon dried basil leaves, crumbled

1 teaspoon olive oil

 

Disjoint chicken wings; discard tips. Combine soy sauce, vinegar, basil and

olive oil in large bowl. Add chicken; stir to coat all pieces well. Arrange

pieces, side by side, on large rack on foil- lined baking sheet. Bake in

400ºF. oven 25 minutes. Turn pieces over; bake 25 minutes longer, or until

chicken is no longer pink near bone.

 

For Spicy-Garlic Wings: To 3 Tbsp. Kikkoman Soy Sauce add 3 cloves garlic,

pressed, 1-1/2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce and 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

(cayenne); pour over 10 chicken wings, disjointed, in large plastic food

storage bag. Press air out of bag; close top securely. Marinate 30 minutes,

turning bag over occasionally. Remove pieces from marinade, arrange on rack

and bake as directed above.

 

For Asian Wings: To 3 Tbsp. Kikkoman Soy Sauce add 1 teaspoon grated fresh

ginger root and 1/2 teaspoon onion powder in large bowl. Add 10 chicken

wings, disjointed, and stir to coat all pieces well. Arrange on rack and

bake as directed above.

 

Makes 5 to 6 appetizer servings. This recipe created by Kikkoman.

MOCK CASSOULET WITH SMOKED BACON

SHALLOTS AND THYME

Cassoulet is usually a three-day project, but the essential elements of this classic French country dish can be put together in this two-hour version. The quality of the bacon will make a difference in this dish. Look for real hardwood-smoked bacon at butcher shops or specialty food markets. Duck confit is available fresh or canned at some specialty food shops.

8 servings

 

8 ounces thick-sliced smoked bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces

1/2 pound garlic sausage, such as kielbasa, cut in 1/2-inch slices

5 shallots, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 legs duck confit, optional

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup dry white wine

2 cans (141/4 ounces each) chicken broth

2 cans (19 ounces each) cannellini or navy beans, drained, rinsed

2 cups fresh bread crumbs

2 tablespoons olive oil

 

Cook bacon in large, heavy Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring, until almost browned, six minutes. Add sausage; cook, stirring, until browned, four minutes.

 

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Add shallots and garlic to Dutch oven; cook, stirring occasionally, four minutes. Add duck legs; cook, turning once, to brown slightly, five minutes.

 

Stir in thyme, tomato paste, pepper and salt. Cook one minute. Stir in wine, scraping up browned bits on bottom of pan. Heat to a boil; cook until reduced by three-fourths, about five minutes.

 

Stir in chicken broth and beans. Cover; cook in oven one hour.

 

Toss bread crumbs and olive oil in a large bowl. Remove casserole from oven; top with bread crumbs. Bake until crumbs are browned, 20 minutes.

OH BOY! SUPPER

(2 servings)

 

4 ounces Ground Beef, extra lean

1/4 medium Onion -- chopped

3/4 cup Rice -- cooked

1/4 cup Celery -- diced

1/4 can Cream of Mushroom soup, condensed

1/4 can Cream of Chicken soup, condensed

1/4 can Bean Sprouts -- drained

3/4 teaspoon Soy Sauce

1/4 package Chinese Noodles -- dry

 

Brown ground beef & onion together in a large frying pan. Mix with other

ingredients in a large Dutch oven size pan and let simmer until celery is

cooked. Serve over dry Chinese noodles.

 

*Note: Instead of serving over noodles, you may mix the noodles into the

mixture just prior to serving, if desired.

 

*To Freeze for later use: Do not add the Chinese noodles. Freeze the

cooled casserole in a labeled container for up to 6 months. To serve, thaw

overnight in refrigerator, heat through in a saucepan or in the oven, and

serve over Chinese Noodles.

*For those of you who wish to make the 8 serving size recipe, the ingredient

list is as follows:

 

1 pound Ground Beef, extra lean

1 medium Onion -- chopped

3 cups Rice -- cooked

1 cup Celery -- diced

1 can Cream of Mushroom soup, condensed

1 can Cream of Chicken soup, condensed

1 can Bean Sprouts -- drained

1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce

1 package Chinese Noodles -- dry

PECAN SHORTBREAD COOKIES

About 2 dozen

 

1 cup all-purpose flour

Pinch of ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup (2 ounces) coarsely chopped pecans, toasted

 

Sift together the flour, cinnamon and salt, and set aside. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with a hand-held electric mixer at high speed until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Stir in the flour, then the pecans, to make a stiff dough.

 

On a lightly floured work surface, form the dough into a 9-inch-long log. Wrap tightly in parchment paper. Refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least two hours or overnight.

 

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

 

Unwrap and slice the dough into ›-inch-thick rounds. Arrange about 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until beginning to brown around the edges, about 20 minutes.

 

Cool on the sheet for five minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. The cookies can be baked and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about five days.

PURÉE OF SPLIT PEA SOUP

The reference to rib-sticking purées is exemplified in the following recipe. "The bacon and ham hock add a traditional smoky flavor to this thick and heart-warming puree of vegetable and split peas," the head note says. "However, if you prefer a meatless version, omit the bacon and ham hock, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth and replace the bacon fat with vegetable oil."

8 servings

 

4 strips bacon, minced

1 medium onion, diced (about 11/4 cups)

1 carrot, diced (about 1/3 cup)

1 celery stalk, diced (about 1/2 cup)

1 leek, white and light-green part, diced (about 11/4 cups)

6 cups chicken broth

2 yellow or white potatoes, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)

1/2 pound split green or yellow peas, or lentils

1 smoked ham hock

 

Sachet:

1 bay leaf

1 whole clove

1 garlic clove

4 or 5 peppercorns, enclosed in a large tea ball, or tied in a cheesecloth pouch

Salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup croutons

 

Cook the bacon in a soup pot over medium-high heat until crisp and brown. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels and set aside.

 

Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and leek; stir to evenly coat with fat. Cover the pot and cook the vegetables over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender and translucent, six to eight minutes.

 

Add the broth, potatoes, peas and ham hock. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium heat, 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

Add the sachet and simmer until the split peas are soft, about 30 minutes.

 

Skim away any scum that may have formed during simmering.

 

Remove the sachet and discard.

 

Remove the ham hock and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, cut the ham off the bone, dice, and set aside.

 

Strain the soup through a sieve, reserving the liquid. Purée the solids and return them to the pot. Add enough of the reserved liquid to achieve a thick consistency. Blend well. Stir in the ham and bacon. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Serve in heated bowls, garnished with croutons.

RED COOKED PORK

Serves 4

For red stock: (see Note)

2 cups Chinese rice wine

3 cups chicken stock or water

2 cups dark soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 cinnamon sticks

1 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced

zest of 1 tangerine or orange

2 whole star anise

6 scallions

For meat:

2 pounds pork spareribs or loin, or shoulder roast

 

Put all stock ingredients in a large flameproof casserole and bring to a boil. Add pork; return to a boil, then simmer on top of stove or in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes if using pork loin, 1 1/2 hours if using pork shoulder or spareribs. When meat is very tender, carefully lift it out onto a wooden board, and, using a Chinese cleaver, cut it into thick slices or bite-size chunks. Serve with other Chinese dishes such as noodles, stir-fried vegetables or steamed rice. You also can serve this with mashed potatoes or mashed white beans, with a little stock drizzled over.

 

Note: Some of the stock is served with the dish; the rest is kept and used over and over again, improving in flavor each time a new dish is cooked in it. The stock also may be used to cook whole ducks or chickens. If you don't plan to make this often the stock may be frozen.

 

 

RETURN TO FAMILY TABLE

January 23, 2002 Posted: 07:35:05 AM PST

 

By DEBRA HALE-SHELTON, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

CHICAGO -- Chef Art Smith has cooked for the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart, but names he prefers to drop include Grandmother Georgia, Aunt Evelyn and Grandmother Mabel.

 

Smith credits these family members with creating some of his most cherished memories, the food and traditions from the family dinner table in rural Florida where he grew up.

 

After all, he says, recipes "are like a window to the past," telling us about the people and the ingredients they used.

 

Smith, 41, has turned his love for food and family into a career. For four years, he has been personal chef to Winfrey, and now he has written a best-selling cookbook, "Back to the Table: The Reunion of Food and Family" (Hyperion, 2001, $29.95).

 

The book offers more than 150 recipes for dishes as diverse as the families and friends he hopes will renew a disappearing tradition: gathering for dinner at the table.

 

His recipes range from Southern classics, such as chicken and dumplings and yellow squash casserole, to ethnic creations, including golden challah, Cuban paella and naan, a Pakistani flatbread.

 

The recipes are as accessible as buttermilk-fried chicken and as elegant as baked cod with thyme-walnut butter and baby spinach.

 

"Everyone loves delicious food," Smith says. "But it doesn't mean that it has to be something so complicated that you had to shop forever for it and then you cooked forever, and then by the time you're ready to serve it, you're just so tired. So, what happens is, you really lose why you're there.

 

"And why you're there, No. 1, is to nourish yourselves, but No. 2, you're there for your families."

 

Recently, he took his own advice, getting chicken salad and fresh fruit catered to his friends' Victorian mansion on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive, where he served lunch.

 

He personalized the meal with his own mulled apple cider and pecan shortbread cookies, which he sliced and baked while fielding a reporter's questions and a photographer's flashing camera.

 

Smith seems to enjoy talking and laughing as much as cooking. He talks about the comforting power of food ("When things are not so great, I think a good meal has the ability to heal") and about the women who cooked that food when he was young.

 

He recalls his mother, Addie Mae, telling him, "Thank you for remembering the good." And that he does.

 

In his cookbook, he writes about eating Sunday dinner after church each week at his Grandmother Georgia Smith's house. Hers was a table set "with endless bowls of homemade 'put-ups' -- relishes, jellies, chutneys and jams with farm-raised meats, fresh vegetables and all manner of baked goods and sweets."

 

She was famous for the biscuits she stacked "in tall heaps" at her boarding house, and she always had plates of juicy sliced tomatoes sprinkled with salt on her table.

 

Smith says his mother, whom he calls a great cook, probably prepared at least 12 dishes for him on a recent visit. He laughs about his precious Aunt Evelyn, whose cure whenever he isn't doing well is to mail him a cake. And Grandmother Mabel Jones, he writes, is "a no-fuss kind of cook" whose no-knead dinner rolls turn out light and fluffy.

 

Smith expresses gratitude for the opportunities Winfrey has afforded him: He cooked recently on her TV program, is a contributing editor to her "O" magazine and writes a column for Oprah.com. But he prefers not to comment on her favorite recipes in the book.

 

That, of course, hasn't kept Winfrey from bragging about him. "I tell him all the time there's a colored woman living somewhere inside him because he can cook Southern, he can cook Italian, he can cook anything in the world you can imagine," she declared on TV.

 

Smith, whose own cookbook joins 500 or 600 others in his collection, was 24 when he was hired by then Florida Gov. Bob Graham, now a U.S. senator, as executive chef of the governor's mansion. Smith also has worked as a chef on trans-Atlantic motor yachts and on the American European Express Train.

 

"I love great food, but I also like it when it's in transit, when you're able to bring something so unexpected," Smith says.

 

"It was so fun to cook on a train. We would be going 80, 90 miles an hour down the tracks, and we'd be making souffles."

 

Smith's book is a plea for families and friends to return to the dinner table. Considering today's lifestyles, he says, at least once a week would be a good goal.

 

"There are many things that we hold sacred," he says. "The table needs to be looked upon as one of those because, when you think about it, historically the table has always played a part in that, from biblical writings to mythology with King Arthur. The table has been that instrument that we have used to build a community."

 

So, instead of going to a movie, Smith suggests, "Why not just have a cup of soup together and some bread and chat?"

 

For a chef with such a star-studded résumé (he also has cooked for Mikhail Baryshnikov and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush), Smith is modest and down-to-earth. "I'm not a brain surgeon. I'm just a cook. I think that people need to realize, too, that just a simple meal can do a lot of things. It doesn't have to be anything complicated."

 

One more bit of advice from this single man with a big extended family: "When you cook, you always cook with love, because I'm telling you, food that's not cooked with love just don't taste good."

ROASTED POTATO WITH BLUE CHEESE

AND SHERRY SAUCE

2 servings

 

1/2 cup sherry vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

1 pound yellow potatoes

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, chopped

1/2 teaspoon each: paprika, ground cumin

Salt, freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons soft blue cheese, Cabrales preferred

 

Pour vinegar into a small saucepan; heat to a boil. Cook until reduced to about 1 tablespoon. Add honey; stir until it dissolves. Set aside.

 

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Peel the potatoes, if you like. Cut crosswise into -inch slices; spread on a non-stick baking sheet.

 

Combine thyme, paprika, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in olive oil. Brush potatoes with this mixture. Bake until golden, about 12 minutes.

 

Divide potato slices between two plates. Place a dab of cheese in the center of each slice; sprinkle vinegar glaze on top.

 

ROASTED TOMATO SALSA

Makes 1 1/2 cups

3 large tomatoes

3 jalapeño or serrano chilies, stemmed

1/2 small onion

1 teaspoon salt

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup minced, fresh cilantro

Juice of 1/2 lime

 

Place comal over high heat. When hot, place tomatoes, chilies and onion on it, separately. Cook onion until caramelized on bottom. Remove, chop and reserve. Cook tomatoes and chilies until softened and charred on the outside.

 

Meanwhile, put salt and garlic in the molcajete. Grind to make a fine paste. Add roasted chiles. (Do not peel or seed.) Grind into pieces. Add unpeeled roasted tomatoes; grind. Add reserved onion, cilantro and lime juice. Stir with the tejolete to combine. Serve directly out of the molcajete, or transfer to a serving dish.

ROSEMARY ROASTED FRIES

2 servings

 

Olive oil spray

1 pound red potatoes

1 medium garlic clove

1 tablespoon fresh or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Line a baking tray with foil and grease with olive oil spray. Wash potatoes, do not peel; cut into strips about 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Place on tray and spray with olive oil spray. Place under broiler about 5 inches from heat for five minutes.

 

Chop garlic and rosemary together.

 

Remove potatoes from broiler and turn over with a spatula. Sprinkle with the garlic and rosemary. Add salt and pepper to taste and replace under broiler for five minutes. Remove and cover with foil to keep warm while you make the steak.

SAUTÉED CHICKEN WITH WALNUT SAUCE

Serves 4

1 (3 1/3 pound) chicken, cut into serving pieces (legs and thighs should be

severed at the joint)

Salt and pepper

2 ounces French or Italian bread (about 2 slices)

1 cup milk or stock

4 ounces walnuts, about 1 cup

1 small clove garlic, peeled

1/4 cup walnut, hazelnut or olive oil

Paprika or chili powder to taste

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, optional

 

Turn heat to medium under a non-stick skillet large enough to hold chicken pieces without crowding; use two skillets if necessary. Cook on one side about 10 minutes, rotating pieces and adjusting heat as necessary to brown evenly. As the pieces brown, season with salt and pepper. Turn and cook second side as you did the first. Turn once or twice more until done, a total of 20 to 30 minutes. (Breast and wing pieces will finish cooking first; keep warm in a low oven, or set aside and serve less than piping hot.)

 

Meanwhile, soak bread in milk or stock. Put walnuts, garlic and some salt in a food processor, and pulse to grind coarsely. Gently squeeze some liquid from the bread, and add bread to food processor, along with oil. Process until combined but not pureed. Add as much remaining milk or stock as necessary to give mixture a mayonnaise-like consistency. By hand, add paprika or chili powder. Stir in parsley if using. Serve chicken hot or at room temperature with sauce spooned over it.

SCALLOPINI WITH PRESERVED KUMQUATS

Serves 2

4 medallions of turkey or pork (about 3-4 ounces each)

1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 pound sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup white wine

1 teaspoon dried tarragon, crumbled

8 preserved kumquats, rinsed, halved and seeded

 

Place medallions between two layers of plastic wrap. Pound lightly with a mallet or flatten with a rolling pin.

 

In a shallow bowl, combine flour, salt and pepper. Coat medallions on both sides. Set aside.

 

In a medium skillet or frying pan, heat oil over medium heat. Cook mushrooms until fairly tender, 3-4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to a bowl. Set aside.

 

Increase heat to medium high. Add medallions. Cook until light brown, 3-4 minutes on both sides. Add wine, tarragon and kumquats. Reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook until meat is tender, 7-8 minutes. Add cooked mushrooms. Stir to release any bits stuck to bottom of pan. Heat through and serve.

SICILIAN SPAGHETTI CAKE

Serves 4

1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained

12 imported black olives, pitted

4 large fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil

2 large bell peppers (green, red or yellow), cut into 1/4-inch strips

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 pound thin spaghetti or vermicelli

1/2 cup freshly ground pecorino or Romano cheese

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil water for pasta. In a food processor, combine tomatoes, olives, basil and capers; pulse until coarsely chopped.

 

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper and onion. Cook, stirring often until tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato mixture and bring to a simmer. Add salt and pepper. Transfer to a large bowl.

 

Cook spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente, 5-8 minutes. Drain and rinse well. Add sauce and mix. Cool to room temperature. Stir in cheese. The pasta will keep, covered, in the refrigerator, for up to 2 days. Return to room temperature before proceeding.

 

Brush remaining oil over bottom and sides of a heavy 10-inch oven-proof skillet and heat over medium heat. Remove from heat; add pasta mixture and press firmly into even layer. Bake 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Run a knife around inside edge of pan and invert spaghetti cake onto a large platter. Cut into wedges and serve.

SLOW ROASTED LAMB SHANKS

WITH BRAISED FENNEL, LENTILS AND POTATOES

This recipe makes use of the shank, which needs long, slow cooking in a flavorful liquid until the meat almost falls off the bone. Make sure you have plenty of Italian bread for dipping in the juices. Pancetta is an unsmoked Italian bacon.

4 servings

 

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 lamb shanks, about 1 pound each

3 tablespoons fennel seeds, crushed

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped

4 red potatoes, peeled, chopped

3 ribs celery, chopped

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, chopped

2 cups white wine

3 cups beef broth

1/2 pound dried lentils

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

 

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Heat olive oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Rub lamb with fennel seeds. Add to Dutch oven.

 

Cook in batches to brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove lamb to large plate.

 

Add garlic and pancetta to pan; cook until golden, about a minute. Add potatoes, celery, onion and fennel; cook until vegetables are almost soft, five minutes. Remove vegetables to a bowl. Add lamb, white wine and broth to Dutch oven. Heat to a boil. Cover. Cook in oven two hours.

 

Meanwhile, soak lentils in water to cover, one hour; drain. After lamb has cooked two hours, stir lentils, reserved vegetables, salt and pepper into Dutch oven. Cover; cook until lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. Serve lamb, lentils and vegetables with cooking juices in large, shallow bowls.

 

 

 

 

SMOKE SAUSAGE CASSEROLE

 

2 pounds Smoked Sausage

2 cans beef bouillon

1 stick butter

1 cup green onions

2 cup rice

red pepper & salt to taste

 

Fry sausage in water, drain. Cut into bit size pieces. Sauté onions in

butter. Add c both cans of soup and 1 can of water. Add raw rice. Combine

all ingredients in casserole dish. Cook at 350*F for 35 minutes.

SOUP TIPS

Using my three components as a guide, here are a few tips to help make your soup special:

FLAVOR: When cooking broccoli or asparagus, I use the colorful tips or florets for the puree, and use the stems just to flavor the stock.

 

Use plenty of salt in cooking water to maintain flavor and color.

 

Use cayenne pepper, salt or lemon juice to season soups that taste a little flat.

 

If you want a sweeter soup, add very soft, slow-cooked chopped onions to your vegetables before pureeing.

 

COLOR: It's important to puree any green vegetable the moment it's done; otherwise the color will fade.

 

Don't boil the soup or simmer it for a long time or the color will suffer. Flavor also will be affected.

 

BODY: To get a richer mouth feel for any soup, just add a little milk -- but not so much as to cover up the flavor of the vegetables. Most vegetable soups require very little enrichment.

 

The longer you blend it, the creamier the soup.

 

For a very fine texture, run the soup through a chinois (a very fine strainer available at culinary stores).

 

TO FINISH: Always serve soups in a warm bowl. If possible, pour it at the table to prevent sloshing as you carry bowls from the kitchen.

 

If you want to add cream, consider drizzling it gently on top of each bowl to add contrast, rather than blending it in.

SPICY WINTER SQUASH SOUP

 

In this recipe for spicy winter-squash soup, taken from his cookbook, Smith says any winter squash, calabaza, butternut or Hubbard, will do, as will a cooking pumpkin. Latin markets carry calabaza and plantains; hard green bananas can be used instead of green plantains, if necessary.

8-10 servings

 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, chopped

3 celery ribs, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon Madras-style curry powder

11/2 pounds butternut squash, pared with a sharp knife

2 green plantains, peeled and cut up

6 cups chicken broth or canned low-sodium broth, as needed

2 sprigs of fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 sprigs of fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage

1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish

Chopped fresh chives, for garnish

 

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion and celery and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about eight minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.

 

Add the curry powder and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

 

Stir in the squash and plantain, then the broth, oregano and sage.

 

Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.

 

In batches, pulse the soup in a blender or food processor to make a chunky purée. Return to the pot and season to taste with the hot sauce and salt and pepper. Reheat until piping hot.

 

Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with the pumpkin seeds and chives.

 

 

 

STEAK AU POIVRE

(STEAK WITH PEPPER AND MUSHROOM SAUCE)

A good, quick, cold-weather dinner is "steak au poivre," French for steak with pepper sauce.

 

The author used a small piece of beef tenderloin, but any other quick-cooking steak -- strip, rib eye, skirt or flank -- can be used.

 

The 3-inch thick tenderloin took seven minutes to cook to medium rare. A thinner steak will take about five minutes.

 

The accompanying pepper and mushroom sauce uses watercress, a leafy green sold in the produce department, and shallots, a mild-flavored member of the onion family. Shallots break down as they cook, making a smoother sauce than their onion cousins. But red or white onions could be substituted.

 

It was served with roasted potatoes.

 

Helpful hints: The quickest way to wash watercress is to place it head first into a bowl of water. Leave for a minute, then lift out and shake dry.

 

Find cracked black pepper in the supermarket spice section.

 

Wine suggestion: A nice match for the rich and peppery dish would be a merlot, which can be nicely rich and peppery itself.

2 servings

 

1 bunch watercress (about 4 cups)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tablespoon cracked black pepper

3/4 pound beef tenderloin, fat removed (or strip steak, rib eye, flank steak, skirt

steak)

Olive oil spray

2 medium-size shallots, chopped (1/4 cup)

1 medium garlic clove, crushed

1/4 pound button mushrooms, sliced (11/2 cups)

2 tablespoons brandy

2 tablespoons light cream

 

Wash and dry watercress. Remove long stems.

 

Heat a medium-size nonstick skillet on medium high. Add watercress and toss one minute until just wilted. Remove to a serving dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Press pepper onto both sides of steak.Spray skillet with olive oil spray and add steak. Brown two minutes per side. Remove to a plate. Lower heat to medium and add shallots, garlic and mushrooms. Sauté five minutes.

 

Return steak and cook until done, five minutes for 3-inch thick tenderloin, three minutes for thinner flank steak. Add brandy and cook 30 seconds. Remove steak and place on bed of watercress.

 

Add cream to skillet and whisk. Add salt to taste. Spoon sauce over steak and serve with potatoes.

STEAK WITH LEMON THYME BUTTER

Serves 4

4 steaks (or 1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless steak cut into 4 portions)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (see Note)

5 chives, minced

1/2 shallot, minced

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

About 1/4 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice or red wine vinegar

 

Place a heavy, preferably cast-iron, skillet over medium-high heat and heat it until hot but not smoking. Depending on type and size of steaks, you may need to use additional skillets or cook steak in batches.

 

Pat steaks dry. Carefully add steaks to skillet(s) and cook, without turning, 2 to 4 minutes per side for rare, depending on thickness of steak. Using tongs, carefully turn steaks and cook 2 to 4 minutes on second side for rare. If steak is thick or if you prefer your steak cooked medium to well done, transfer skillet to a 400-degree preheated oven until cooked almost to the desired doneness. (Heat will continue to build in the steak's interior even after it has been removed from the oven.)

 

Transfer steak to a cutting board, season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside to rest for at least 10 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, using a fork, mash butter until smooth. Add chives, shallot, thyme, about 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and lemon juice or vinegar. Mash until combined. Set aside.

 

Serve each steak with a pat of the compound butter.

 

Note: If the butter is not at room temperature, soften it slightly in a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave. It is OK if it begins to melt.

TEA SAUCED SCALLOPS

WITH ORANGE, SOY AND HONEY

Serves 4

2 tablespoons fruity olive oil

1 large clove of garlic, minced

1 pound sea scallops

Juice of 1 large orange (about 1/2 cup)

1 tablespoon Keemun tea leaves

2 teaspoons light soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

Cooked Chinese noodles or linguine

Fresh cilantro leaves or finely slivered green part of scallion for garnish

 

In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil until hot, almost smoking. Add garlic and stir briefly. Add scallops and cook 2 minutes on each side, turning once to brown evenly. Remove scallops to a small bowl and cover to keep warm.

 

To make sauce, add orange juice to pan to deglaze, stirring to dislodge any browned particles. Add tea leaves and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add soy sauce, honey and any liquid from scallops that has pooled in the bowl. Cook just until sauce thickens slightly.

 

Pour sauce through a fine-meshed sieve placed over a bowl and return to pan. Taste and correct seasoning, if necessary. Coat scallops with sauce and serve in a nest of noodles or pasta. Garnish with cilantro or scallion.

TEA SMOKED SALMON ROLLS

WITH TUNA TARTARE AND JASMINE TEA TAPIOCA

Serves 4

For cold smoke

1 cup black tea

1 cup sugar

1 cup raw rice

8 slices of cured salmon

For tuna

4 ounces of high-quality tuna, diced

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Pinch of red chili flakes

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon grape-seed oil

For tapioca

1 cup small tapioca pearls

1 cup Jasmine tea (infused and strained)

Pinch of sugar

To finish

2 teaspoons salmon roe

2 teaspoons tobiko caviar (see Note)

4 shiso leaves, cut into thin strips

1/4 cup black lychee tea, finely ground to a powder

 

To cold-smoke salmon:

 

Cold-smoke the salmon at around 85 degrees by lining a wok with foil and sprinkling rice, sugar and tea leaves on bottom of wok. Place a wire rack in wok and put an ice pack on rack. Place salmon in a metal bowl on top of the ice pack. Line the wok cover with foil and cover wok. Turn heat to medium-high. Once smoke starts to come out, turn off heat and leave salmon in the sealed wok for 15 minutes.

 

To prepare tuna tartare:

 

Mix tuna, soy sauce, sesame, chili flakes, cayenne and grape-seed oil. Season to taste.

 

To make tea tapioca pearls:

Substituting brewed jasmine tea for water, cook the tapioca pearls according to package directions. Tapioca should be chewy, not hard nor mushy. Add sugar to taste.

 

To assemble:

 

Lay two slices of salmon per person on plastic wrap, slightly overlapping. Divide shiso evenly among the four portions and spread lengthwise on each piece of salmon. Divide tartare and place it atop shiso. Using another piece of plastic, roll the salmon like a sushi roll, moving the plastic as you go so it doesn't end up in the roll itself. Chill 1 hour. Unwrap plastic and roll salmon in lychee tea powder to create a crust. Trim the ends and cut salmon roll into thirds.

 

To serve: Place 1/4 cup of jasmine tapioca pearls along with a small amount of jasmine tea liquid in the center of a bowl. Place three pieces of salmon roll in center of bowl on top of the pearls. Garnish with salmon roe and tobiko caviar. Serve immediately.

 

Note: Available at Japanese markets.

 

TOMATO SOUP WITH CREAM OR WITHOUT

Serves 6

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 medium onion

3 pounds tomatoes, cut into chunks OR 6 cups

sterile-packed strained tomatoes (see Note)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 cup heavy cream, optional

 

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes.

 

If using fresh tomatoes, stir them into onions, raise heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Pass through fine disc of a food mill and return to pan.

 

If using canned tomatoes, stir into cooked onions and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes. Pass through food mill or blender and return to pan.

 

Heat soup through. Season with salt. If using, add cream. If you like, you can garnish this soup with 1/4 cup narrow strips of basil, with chervil, or with croutons.

 

Note: If you don't have a food mill, you'll need to peel and seed tomatoes before cooking and then puree in food processor and blender once they are cooked.

WALNUT SAUCE

Intriguing sauce features walnuts

MYSTERIOUSLY LIKE MAYONNAISE

BY MARK BITTMAN

New York Times

 

Walnuts are grown in temperate areas throughout the world, but nowhere is their aromatic bitterness used so well as in the Mediterranean and its hinterlands. There, they star in creamy, chunky sauces that have universal appeal.

 

Although skordalia is known as a garlicky potato puree, that name is also used in Greece for a walnut sauce I especially like.

 

Reading the recipe does not give much clue to the results. With a food processor (or, to be traditional, a mortar and pestle), you combine bread, milk or stock, walnuts, garlic, a little oil and strong paprika or chili powder. The results, incredibly, are like a thick, nutty mayonnaise.

 

The sauce is best on white fish and meat. Here, I serve it with chicken sautéed in its own fat, with just salt and pepper.

 

Like mayonnaise, skordalia can be varied at will. In Turkey, where it is usually called tarator, I've had versions with pine nuts or even hazelnuts. Vinegar or lemon juice is often included, though I find walnuts so bitter that additional acidity is not necessary. Cumin can be used along with the paprika, or in its place. My favorite variation is to stir in a lot of chopped parsley -- a couple cups of leaves, washed, dried and roughly chopped -- to turn the sauce into something approaching a salad. It also makes an amazing base for a chicken salad: Just combine a couple of cups of shredded chicken with enough skordalia to bind it. It may steer you away from mayonnaise forever.

ZUCCHINI COOKIES

Makes 100 cookies

1 cup shortening

1 cup white sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini

1 cup chopped nuts, optional

6-ounce package semisweet chocolate pieces

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

 

Cream shortening and sugars until light. Beat in eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Stir in zucchini, nuts and chocolate pieces. Mix flour and baking soda. Stir into batter.

 

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden. Cool on wire rack.

 

SHALOM FROM SPIKE & JAMIE



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