Monday, January 31, 2011

Apple/Pear Salad with Feta








Catagory: Fruits and Vegetables
Difficulty: Easy
Healthy

I generally view salads as wet lettuce. I mean, I absolutely love them when other people make them, but I really don't like making them myself. Therefore, when I make a salad it has to be REALLY good to be worth facing all that...wet lettuce. This is indeed a good one, which uses apple-pears... a relatively new hybrid to markets near me. They look like huge golden apples and taste like apples soaked in pear juice. If you don't live in a place that has them, just use apples instead! Easy and YUM! Adapted from several recipes combines. Yield: serves 6-7 generously plated or 10 as a buffet salad.

Dressing:

3 T virgin olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
2 T orange juice
3 T chopped pecans
2 T honey
salt & pepper to taste

Greens:

6 C loosely packed baby mixed organic greens (make sure it includes radicchio)
1 apple-pear in very thin wedges (or use apples--Pink Lady apples are my favorite)
1/3 C dried cranberries
1/3 C feta cheese, crumbled.
1 C whole pecans (optional)

Combine olive oil, vineagar, orange juice, pecans, honey, salt & pepper, to taste, Mix until well blended in bowl or shake in bottle. Add greens and toss. divide among 4 plates. top with apple-pear slices and sprinkle with rest of ingredients. Be sure and sprinkle apple-pear slices with some kind of citrus (lemon?) if you plan to serve it later than right away! They will brown...

Debbie's Comforting Chicken

Catagory: Main Dishes
Difficulty: Very Easy
Not Healthy

Noooo, this is not about a remarkable barnyard chicken who went to nursing school. This dish is so-named because it's my favorite thing to make for people who are sick. I swear this dish has healing properties. I was introduced to it by my friend Debbie Kelly back in about 1985. There I was, sicker than a dog, unable to even get out of bed because I had an inner-ear infection that affected my balance... And my best friend Deb showed up at my door with...(gasp)DINNER. A wonderful, fragrant, melt-y-cheesy dish of chicken-y goodness! Whether it was her kindness or the chicken itself, it made me well! Your family will love it too. Make it for someone who needs your love today...

Debbie's Comforting Chicken

Place 4 whole or 8 half chicken breasts in a greased baking dish. Slice REAL swiss cheese over the top. Mix 1 can cream of chicken soup and 1/4 C white wine (2-Buck Chuck is great for this). Spoon over chicken and cheese evenly. Spread 2 C Pepperidge Farm seasoned stuffing mix over the top of the soup. Melt 1/2 C butter (not margarine) and drizzle over all. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes--until brown and bubbly. This is best served the next day--reheated! Just put foil over the top.

Note: I usually bring this to people with a salad that has oranges in it (vitamin C) and a home-baked dessert with ice-cream (i.e. comfort food).

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lloyd's "Hell-No!" Waffles

Catagory: Breads
Difficulty: Very Easy
Not Healthy

If you are a person who loves food--you should probably skip this recipe. But I put it in to honor someone.
My Grandfather on my Dad's side, was a big man with a big personality. Lloyd was a post-man's son from Minnesota who made good as an engineer/architect and ended building some of the first sky-scrapers in Dallas. He was a visionary and a natural salesman, pitching his ideas with great enthusiasm and charm. When he was in Dallas he would wear a ten-gallon hat, and even get a bit of an accent. It worked for him!

Everything about Lloyd was big. But nothing was bigger than his heart--which was as big as Texas. Once, he brought me a gigantic blue stuffed dog from the Seattle World's Fair that was so big, he had to buy a seat for it to bring it home on the plane! And when my sister and I stayed over at his house, he would make us these big, fluffy, waffles for breakfast. Even though my grandmother was a hopeless invalid, he never complained about having to cook for us. He had an indomitable spirit! In fact, when anyone would ask him questions, he would often answer, laughing and slapping his thigh, "Heyylll No!". So that's why my mom named his waffle recipe accordingly...

Lloyd's "Hell No!" Waffles:

6 T Aunt Jemima Pancake flour (probably heaping tablespoons)
2 T. sugar
1/8 lb melted butter (1/2 cube)
Enough milk to mix the above together (1/2 C ?)
3 eggs ( I would use only 2 )

Put the flour, sugar,in a medium bowl, mixing in enough milk to make a thick batter. Separate 3 large eggs--putting yolks aside and the whites in another medium bowl. Beat whites until stiff. Fold thick batter gently into whites. Add melted butter and mix till incorporated evenly. Batter should be about the same thickness as pancake batter--if not add more milk. Spoon batter into hot waffle iron to cook until golden brown. Serve with melted butter and syrup. (Lloyd kept trying to give us fresh strawberries to put on top, but we were finicky and didn't want 'em)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Turkey Black-Bean Chili--a Super Bowl Meal !

Catagory: Main Dishes
Difficulty: Easy
Healthy

The Super Bowl is coming! Time for parties in front of the biggest flat-screen you can find. Even if you aren't a big football fan, it's a fun American ritual to go to the parties. I actually first realized my (future) hubby was adorable when I saw him asleep in front of a Super Bowl game. All the other guys were yelling and screaming all around him. Yet, Alan slept. Propped up against the couch, in a light blue sweater. He looked like a cherub asleep on a cloud in heaven...We got married a year later.

Anyhoo,enough about romance. Time to put on your helmets and make up a big pot of Chili. This is a really yummy version that is easy and also (suprise!) actually HEALTHY! Beans are good for you, so is ground Turkey. From blogger Lori Longbotham. Yield: 4 servings

Turkey Black Bean Chili

2 T vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
1 1/2 T chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1/4 t. anise seeds (optional)
1/2 t. ground coriander
1/2 lb.ground turkey (or beef if you have finicky people around)
1 can (16 oz.) whole tomatoes in thick puree, undrained
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
2 T. minced fresh cilantro
Essential Garnishes: Sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, minced green onions, minced fresh cilantro and/or sliced avocado (or guacamole).

Heat oil in a heavy Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook, sttirring occasionally, 5 minutes, or until onion is soft. Add chili powder, garlic, cumin, bay leaf, anise seeds ( I left em out) and coriander, mix well. Cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add ground turkey or beef; cook, stirring occasionally, 5-7 minutes, or until pink disappears. Add tomatoes with their liquid, black beans, bell pepper, jalepenos, salt and cayenne. Bring to a boil. Remove from stovetop and put in 350 degree oven, uncovered, 45 minutes. Stir twice. Take out of oven and stir in cilantro. Serve hot with various garnishes to pass. Tortilla chips or corn bread is excellent with this!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lauren's Cream of Parsnip Soup with Bacon

Catagory: Soups
Difficulty: Easy

My daughter loves to cook. In Fall/Winter she often makes up a huge pot of soup and freezes most of it to thaw and serve on especially cold evenings. Nothing like soup when we come home from work exhausted, yes? This is a soup she found for Christmas 2009 as a first course. We all nearly died of happiness, happily groaning as we drank every delicious drop. Note: Don't kick yourself too much if you don't make chicken stock--just buy some and make the soup anyway. If you wait until you have some home-made stock you may never make it!

Cream of Parsnip Soup with Bacon and Potato Crisps (from the Food Network circa 2006)

3T butter
2C chopped onions
1C chopped celery
salt
pepper
1 bay leaf
1 t. chopped garlic
10 cups chicken stock
3 lbs parsnips, peeled and diced
1/4 to 1/2 C. heavy cream
6 oz. raw bacon, chopped or 6 t Hormel Real Bacon Bits

Note: This will serve about 10-12 people! Cut recipe in half if you wish!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt the butter in 6-qt. stock pot over med.-high heat. add the onions and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until vegies are soft, about 4 minutes. Add bay leaf and garlic. Add stock and parsnips and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until the parsnips are very soft--about 1 hour. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little. Discard bay leaf. Using a hand-held blender, carefully puree soup until smooth ( a regular blender on low speed will do) Stir in cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In small saute pan, fry bacon till crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels. Optional: Fry thin potato slices in leftover bacon fat till crispy and brown. Drain on paper towels and salt. Use either or both bacon and potato crisps as a garnish. Another option: use a sprinkle of Hormel Real Bacon Bits.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sally Shelby's Oatmeal Bread

Catagory: Breads
Difficulty: Easy for a  Yeast Bread

I am not the best bread baker. But when I was a child, I wanted to grow up and turn out loaves of fresh white bread every week for my family--like Sally Shelby did. Sally was one of the moms in our neighborhood. She was an AMAZING cook, and we lived for her bread. Occasionally she would bring us a loaf of her Oatmeal Bread, still warm from the oven. It was gone in 15 minutes. I'm not kidding. It would have been 5 minutes, except we had to slice and butter it first.

Here is Sally's Oatmeal Bread recipe. It's a treasure! Almost foolproof, it still is one of the only yeast breads I can make that doesn't turn out like a hocky puck.

1 1/4 C. regular rolled oats
2 1/2 t. salt
1/4 C. light molasses
1/4 C. honey
2 T. butter
2 C. boiling water
2 eggs
2 envelopes yeast
1/3 C. warm (not hot) water
5 to 7 C. flour

Place oats, salt, molasses, honey and butter in large bowl. Cover with boiling water, and let stand until lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in warm water; stir into the cooled oatmeal mixture along with the slightly beaten eggs. Measure the flour; add enough to oatmeal mixture to make a soft dough.

Turn out on floured surface and knead thoroughly being careful to add only enough additional flour to keep dough from sticking to the board. Knead about 10 minutes. Place in a greased mixing bowl and let rise in a warm (but not hot) place until almost double in bulk. Punch down; divide itno loaves. Knead piece of dough until smooth and put into well-greased loaf pans ( 2 5X9" or 3 4X8"). Let rise again until almost doubled. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Cool and slice with a serrated knife.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Trader Vic's Crab Chinese Style

Catagory: Main Dishes
Difficulty: Easy
Somewhat Healthy

"Trader" Victor Bergeron was a very talented artist and sculptor as well as restaurateur. He was also quite a character! A jovial and fun-loving man, he apparently swore quite lustily and was among the first to call the snobbish pairing of certain wines with certain foods "a pile of junk". He also was outrageous enough to call traditional French cookery "archaic". Oddly enough, however, his culinary skill was learned from his French mother with whom he cooked as a "petite garcon".

In case you didn't know, "the Trader" used his abundant culinary and business skills to open a fine restaurant called "Trader Vic's", originally located in Oakland. That's where he met my grandfather,Fletcher B. Taylor, who became his physician.My mom tells me about the time when as teenagers, she and her sister accompanied my grandmother to have lunch with Trader Vic at his tropically-inspired restaurant. Mom says he was VERY nice, which means he behaved himself that day and didn't swear every other word in front of ladies.  Here's one one of his easiest recipes in his own words...

Cracked Crab, Chinese Style

"Take a couple of freshly cooked (still hot) and cleaned Dungeness crabs. Crack them: crack all the claws and make each belly part into about 6 pieces. Take the crab backs and scoop out all the butter--the fat yellow stuff clinging to the shell; reserve that. In a big pot, melt 1/2 cup butter. Stir in the crab, butter, dry French vermouth (about 6 tablespoons), 2 big cloves of mashed garlic and salt (about 1/2 t.), pepper (about 1/4 t. freshly ground) and Worcestershire (about 1/2 T.) to taste. Heat and stir that all together. Then put in the crab, and mix it around and keep turning it around in the sauce until it is hot. Heat it up well.
That's it. Eat it with your fingers. and that's the best thing you've ever put into your cotton pickin' mouth". If you want more sauce, double the butter, vermouth, and seasonings. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

NOTE: I would definitely double the sauce recipe! And serve with warm, fresh sourdough French Bread and butter--to rip and devour!

Friday, January 21, 2011

San Francisco Ciopinno--A Recipe to Bring the House Down

 Catagory: Main Dishes
Difficulty: Medium
Pretty Healthy

When Alan and I got married, his parents couldn't come out to the wedding, so my Mom had the rehearsal dinner at our family home. Good old 75 Sausal Drive. Worn with animals and children, but stylish nonetheless. Upstairs it had a "great room". With tile floors, a very modern black marble fireplace and huge picture windows with beautiful view... It could easily accommodate 50 people or more.. This caused me a bit of consternation as a child. I was afraid that the whole thing would someday crash into the downstairs because we had so many large cocktail parties. I mean, it was built solid, but just how many people with martinis can plywood take? Our rehearsal party was no different. Big and fun. The Shelby family was there and so there was Jim (Cricket) Shelby on piano and lots of harmony and everbody hamming it up. The wine was flowing. Alan sang "Get Me To The Church On Time" and brought down the house. Well, nearly. Despite my fears it stayed up. And we had my mother's famous Cioppino, from a that she found in a magazine long ago.

San Francisco Cioppino:

1/2 C. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 C. chopped green onion
3/4 C. chopped green pepper
1 jar (11 1/2 oz.) whole clams
1 can (1lb. 12 oz.) tomatoes
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 3/4 C. Burgundy or Cabernet (buy the best you can afford)
1/3 C. chopped Italian parsley
2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. dried basil
2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 1/2 lb. Halibut or Red Snapper
1/2 lb. raw shrimp
3 cans (6 1/2 oz.) King Crab meat, drained and boned (or use fresh or faux crab)

--In hot 6 qt.pot, saute garlic, onions and green pepper until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Drain clams, reserving 1/4 liquid, and set aside. Add clam liquid, un-drained tomatoes, tomato paste, Burgundy, parsley, oregano, basil, salt, pepper and 3/4 C. water to vegetables, mixing well. Bring to boililng, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Cut halibut in 1-inch pieces, discard skin and bones. Add with shrimp, crab and clams to tomato mixture. Simmer. uncovered, 15 minutes. Serves 8 --but the recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. And feel free to add any kind of white fish or shellfish you like (Muscles are good) to the mix. Serve with french bread for tearing and dipping. For best results make the soup part the day before so that flavors will meld. Always a big hit, we have shared this recipe with many people!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Brownies to Die For

Catagory: Cookies and Bars
Difficulty: Easy

This is my first official recipe for the cookbook I am writing for my daughter as a wedding gift. It is being written from the couch where I am lying after having experimented with 5 new chocolate chip cookie recipes and 2 new brownie recipes. It is hard to write on a lap top perched on your stomach, but I cannot sit up because I am drugged with sugar and gluten (which I am somewhat allergic to). The quest for the perfect brownie recipe is OVER. I started this search in about 1984 when Lauren was born. The brownie had to be: chewy, dense, moist, chocolate-y and thick with wonderful edges. Edges, for the brownie enthusiast, must be a bit carmelized--extra chewy, compared to the rest of the brownie. Finally, after trying at least 10 recipes through the years...this is it. Ina Garten's recipe for "Decadent Brownies" comes in second, but first place goes to the ever-perfect Martha Stewart.! If you compare that recipe to this one you will see I added 1/2 t. more salt--much mo bettah! And I hope I don't eat another brownie for a looooong time! These Chocolate Brownies are from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook circa 2000

Ingredients:

1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
8 oz. best quality unsweetened chocolate
(I used 6 oz. Bakers usweetened chocolate and 6 T. cocoa and 2T shortening)
5 large eggs
3 1/2 c.s sugar
1-2 tsp. instant espresso powder ( I used 1 tsp.
1 T. real vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet choc. chips
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. with a rack in the center.Butter a 9X13 pan. In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter. Stir till smooth and set aside. In a medium bowl, use a mixer (paddle attatchments if you have 'em) and beat the eggs, sugar and espresso. Beat on Hi speed for 10 minutes. Don't skip this! Reduce speed to low and add the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla until just combined. Slowly add flour and salt, beat until just incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and fold in chips and nuts. Pour into pan and bake until the edges are dry but the center is still soft about 30 minutes. Cool and devour--they stay fresh about 2 days. Unless you freeze them--they freeze pretty well!