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Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

alpenhaus

I’m republishing this because the Super Bowl is just around the corner, it’s winter, fondue is available and we seem to be going through a 70’s resurgence.  I have even seen fondue pots in Walmart.  Go to Pinterest and type in “fondue”, recipes abound.

 

I know very few people who own a fondue pot, and those that do have never put it to proper use,  Oh, they’ve used it once or twice to keep cocktail weenies warm at a church buffet, or maybe meatballs in grape jelly on a buffet, but never to sit around with friends, dipping crusty bread into gooey, slightly winey, luscious, warm, melted cheese.

I have four electric fondue pots.  I thoroughly recommend an electric fondue pot over the candle or sterno variety. They provide much better temperature control and can expand the fondue experience to vegetables and meats and of course dessert. Although homemade is almost always better, at this time of the year, packaged cheese fondues are available in the specialty cheese sections of most supermarkets. They are actually very good.  The packages store easily and many brands don’t require refrigeration.   Alpenhaus and Swiss Knight are two of my favorites.

Fondue does not need to be reserved for parties. Fonduing (sic) is a great way to engage your family and friends.  It requires little more than active participation and a loaf of crusty bread, though I do like to turn my crusty bread into toasty garlic bread cubes and toss a fresh green salad to complete the meal. My kids grew up with fondue (children of the 70’s) and a childhood friend of my now 40+ yr old daughter recently spoke to me of her fond memory of her first ever fondue at my home. Fondue can be the basis of a very romantic dinner for two also. Remember, it’s said if you lose a cube of bread in the cheese, you must kiss the person sitting next to you;)

And of course, there is homemade. Even better. A very good one from Emeril

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Ok, maybe it’s not the day before, but if you are cooking Thanksgiving dinner there will be a day after and hopefully a whole weekend free. Leftover turkey in my house goes into the best turkey pies ever! I even plan for my turkey pies by buying the biggest, fattest turkey I can find just for pies.

Equipment: Aluminum pie tins. Pick a size convenient for your family, and your freezer space. I usually buy some of the small round deep dish pie size, and a couple of larger for two casserole tins.

Once that turkey is roasted and carved and all the family feasts, it gets whisked away to a cool, quiet place to await its real purpose. On that quiet Friday after all the hullabaloo and a few slices of white meat are tucked in the fridge for sandwiches, the remaining meat is carefully plucked from the bones and separated into white and dark and set aside. Out comes that big soup pot. The lovely bones are placed in the pot where they will simmer along with any of the leavings not quite up to sandwich status, don’t forget that leftover skin!

Now, this big pot of bones and water is where you get to ditch the veggie leftovers that are wrapped in plastic in the fridge, one on top of the other, you know, the peas and onions and turnip and Brussels sprouts! Be Not Afraid, in this pot, magic will happen. No veggie leftovers, do not dismay. Add some carrots, celery and onions. Don’t bother chopping or peeling. Just wash thoroughly and dump in the pot.
Oh, I see a casserole of leftover stuffing, here you must make a choice. You can slice it up to put in your pie, or dump it in the pot to meld with the rest of Thanksgiving dinner. Reserve any leftover mashed potatoes for the next step. By the way, add water or chicken stock or even a bit of white wine (no more than half cup) if the water level gets too low.

Now that it is Friday night or Saturday morning (better still) and this pot has been simmering away forever, strain the pot mess into a clean pan and toss all the leavings. This is the point you want to add any leftover mashed potatoes and gravy to the wonderful broth you’ve created. Don’t have any, that’s fine, we will be thickening the broth soon.

Set the pan of broth in a cold place. Once it has solidified and the fat has risen to the top, place several good size spoons of the fat in a skillet. Warm up the rest of the broth. Let the fat in the skillet melt then add an equal amount of flour. Whisk to keep smooth. Slowly pour in a couple of cups of broth, then stir this all back into broth. Let gravy/broth cool.

Now, I buy packaged pie crust for this, they are easy to work with and I can cut them easily into my pan shapes. Make your own favorite crust recipe if you desire.

Now, load each pie tin with chunks of meat. I like to make a few pies all white meat, and some a mix of white and dark. Sprinkle on some frozen peas and carrots, optional for sure. I like all meat pies and any the last few I will add vegetable to. Top each with crust. Cut a slit in each pie top. Pop into ziplock bags and freeze.

These pies will be wonderful on a snowy February night! Pop into a 350 degree oven and bake until nicely golden and bubbly.

This sounds like a lot of work, but honestly, most of the working time is spent waiting.

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I’ve been invited to the Thanksgiving luncheon at my previous employer and must find a dish to bring. I always like to include something a little different while the SC natives tend to their traditions. usually bring something New Englandish. Last year it was mashed potatoes and gravy. Would you believe mashed potatoes are not on their ‘must do’ list! I guess this is rice country along the coast and rice is a mainstay of a meal. I’m sure there will be collards and macaroni and cheese. Deviled eggs always attend the party as does sweet potato casserole. The dessert table will be crammed with goodies, and people to full of dinner to really get into most of them. They’ll all strike around 3:00 break time for coffee and whatever is left of the cakes, cookies and pies.
Since I retired 4 yrs ago, It’s always fun visiting with the old crew, seeing their wives and children (all grown up). So what to bring……

Pre-Thanksgiving Spread (That’s my Waldorf in the front corner next to the eggs)


I decided on my twist of a Waldorf Salad

Waldorf Salad Upgraded

9 apples unpeeled but cored and diced (I used a variety of MacIntosh, Granny Smith, and Gala so to have different textures, color and sweet / tart)
2 stalks Celery finely sliced
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream whipped
1/2 Cup Pomegranate Craisins (pomegranite seeds might be nice instead)
1/2 Cup Maple sugared walnuts (see recipe)
1/16 teas Chinese Five Spice powder
sprinkle of ground ginger
sprinkle of ground cardamon

Whip cream and set aside. Blend mayonnaise with spices. Add celery and craisins to diced apples in bowl. Stir in Mayonnaise mixture. Fold whipped cream into apple mixture. Refrigerate. Prepare Walnuts.

Maple Glazed Walnuts with Cayenne
adapted from recipe by fifteenspatulas

3 Tbl maple syrup
sprinkle of cayenne
sprinkle of salt

Heat a skillet to hot. Add walnuts and toast until nuts are heated thru and piping hot. Sprinkle with a good dose of cayenne and salt. Slowly pour syrup in side of skillet (carefully as it will bubble up and spit) Stir nuts around until coated. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool completely. When completely cool, scatter over apples in bowl. Toss walnuts with apples just before serving.

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Thanksgiving time and I’m remembering so many happy Thanksgivings spent with my parents and sisters. When my sisters and I were younger, Thanksgiving meant High School football. Natick vs. Framingham rivals like no other. We always made our own pom-poms from red and blue crepe paper rolls and mom would buy us colored crysanthamums to wear on our jackets. While we cheered our team on, mom was busy in the kitchen at home preparing our Thanksgiving dinner. It was always served at the big dining room table, covered in white linen. Our dishes with the pretty pink flowers would be filled with turkey and dressing and all the fixings. Through the years, Thanksgiving day followed almost the same pattern. Because I was the youngest child, the game continued to be a big part of the day, but my sisters married and sometimes shared the day with their spouse’s families. One year, with just the three of us (Mom, Dad and me) it was decided we would eat out. A more beautiful setting for Thanksgiving than the Wayside Inn there will never be.

It was there I discovered Grape-nut pudding. Served warm with whipped cream, I fell in love with the silky custard and slightly nutty crust. In the years that have passed, I’ve never tried making my own until now. I searched my beloved copy of ‘Fanny Farmer Cookbook’ and scoured the internet to come up with what I felt was a suitable recipe. Of course I took my favorite three and took a little bit from each.

Now, more is not always better. Every now and then, I ‘tweak’ a recipe. Here we go, first, I adjusted the eggs, but only because in separating one of them, I broke the white into my bowl and ditched the yolk. I was supposed to use 2 eggs and 2 yolks. Now I had 2 eggs and 1 white. To correct the error I just added another egg, and what the heck, I added another yolk too. I beat up my eggs with the sugar and vanilla and tempered them nicely. Then I decided that 1/2 cup of Grape-Nuts sounded wanting. They looked lost floating around in that quart of milk. So I added another 1/2 cup. What I didn’t count on is, they expand! They plump up to 3 times their size! They are like oatmeal or cornmeal. They take over and suck up all that milk. We ate it anyway, covered in more milk and lots of whipped cream, not a total disaster, but not at all like I remembered way back 50 yrs ago. Lesson learned.

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I turned my clocks back
now I’m not so old
as I was a moment ago
I have another hour to sleep
or live
whichever way you see it
how shall I spend
this gifted hour?
I think that
I’ll have plenty of time
to rest my head
on satin pillows
in the dark
later
but now is my extra hour
how do I spend it
I shall make
banana pancakes
after I let the dogs out

and I did…..wow

I modified a German Pancake recipe from one of my cookbooks to use bananas instead of apples. What a treat! Somewhere between a souffle and a giant sweet popover, delish.

Banana Dutch Pancake

Cinnamon Sugar:
1/2 Teas Cinnamon
2 Tbl white sugar

Mix together in small bowl
I like to increase this to use 1/2 Cup sugar and 1 Tbl cinnamon. Place in a shaker jar or small glass jar to have on hand for toast, waffles, or anytime a sprinkle of sweet cinnamon is needed to spice up your life.

Batter:
4 eggs
1 Tbl. cinnamon sugar (see above)
1 Teas vanilla
pinch salt
1/2 cup self rising flour
1 cup milk
2 Tbl. melted butter

Banana Mixture:
1 banana
2 Tbl butter
1/4 Cup brown sugar
1 Tbl Cinnamon Sugar

beat eggs with cinnamon sugar, salt and vanilla until well blended. Sift in flour. Beat until smooth. Gradually beat in milk. Stir in melted butter. Let batter stand for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Preparation:

Over med-high heat, melt butter in 8-9 inch cast iron or other oven-proof skillet. Brush some of the butter up sides of skillet. Sprinkle in brown sugar. Lay banana slices into brown sugar evenly around pan. Sprinkle with the tablespoon of cinnamon sugar. Place skillet on oven shelf, give the batter a quick whisk and slowly pour over banana mixture. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce heat to 375 degrees.
Bake for another 10-15 minutes (smaller pan takes longer). Cut into wedges and serve immediately sprinkled with powdered sugar or warm maple syrup.

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As I read back some of my posts to follow my mood process, I realize I am a foodie or maybe I’m just fooding. Whatever the term, I am a recipe hoarder. At one point before the advent of the home computer, I had over 300 cookbooks. I read them at night like most people read novels. Many of these books were disposed of in a recent yard sale, but I must say they were hard to part with. I have kept 20 or 30 of my favorites, dog-eared and soiled. A recent move forced me to trash my Bon-Apetit collection from the 1977 forward. Now the internet is my cooking guide. I follow recipe blogs and pinterest saves the wonderful online sites for me to go back to. Recipe Hoarding, Is this bad? At least it doesn’t take much space unless you measure in the cabinets full of herbs and spice, cooking utensils and the like.

Food floods my head with so many happy memories. I learned to cook and love food very, very young. Food was at the center of all celebrations, including our evening meal, a celebration of a good day’s work. Sunday was always a special meal, served at the elaborate dining table, following Sunday Mass. Thanksgiving dinner at a newly joined ski lodge sealed the love of my husband of 43 years. He also loves to cook. Throughout the years we’ve made our own sausage, made jams and jellies, preserved the wonderful farm stand harvests, and even put together our own cookbook for family and friends. Did I mention my hubby also loves to cook? Too much so, really. Some of our most heated arguments have been over food preparation, especially when I’m doing the cooking (which isn’t very often). He prepares a meal almost every night and I search out the recipes we must try and seldom do.

Family members laugh when our NE vacation plans include visits to local grocery stores to find items not readily available in South Carolina. New England hotdogs with natural casings, top split rolls, lobster fresh and frozen, brown bread, and chow mein noodles from Fall River. We always bring an empty cooler on our treks, just in case, then plan our trip accordingly. Of course, then there are the restaurants we must visit though we almost never eat out when we’re home. Must haves: Chinese food like Chicago beef chow mein and spare ribs with the bone,18 inch pizza with mozzarella that follows your hand from your mouth , Italian cookies and espresso, real Italian subs with mortadella and prosciutto and ‘hots’. Oh, and I never miss out on fried lobster from the Lobster Boat in Merrimack, New Hampshire. It is the most decadent lobster preparation ever. Lobster chunks deep fried with a thin but luscious batter, served with real drawn butter.

So keep the wonderful food blogs going, I’m about to make grapefruit marmalade and will be searching and snipping and pinteresting.

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A Glorious Day

Jelly jars gleaming colors of amber and red
a second crop of veggies tucked in their bed
a legless turtle by my side
and of course my ‘puter
it’s raining

Four audio books lay next to my bed
three more to read if my batteries dead
and an empty pint of ice cream
bunny tracks
it’s raining

pumpkin biscotti smell of ginger and spice
with cranberry and raisins isn’t that nice
and a cup of hot green tea
with mango
it’s raining

a pot of italian bean soup and garlic bread
a little too salty because I misread
the recipe in the book
we’ll eat it anyway
with cheese
it’s raining

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