"It IS all about the TASTE"
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  • Fruit Cake

    Ingredients:

    1 cup golden raisins
    1 cup currants
    1/2 cup sun dried cranberries
    1/2 cup sun dried blueberries
    1/2 cup sun dried cherries
    1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
    Zest of one lemon, chopped coarsely
    Zest of one orange, chopped coarsely
    1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
    1 cup good rum
    1 cup sugar
    5 ounces unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks)
    1 cup unfiltered apple juice
    4 whole cloves, ground
    6 allspice berries, ground
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    2 eggs
    1/4 to 1/2 cup toasted pecans, broken
    Burbon for basting and/or spritzing

    Preparation:

    1) Combine dried fruits, candied ginger and both zests.
    2) Add rum / bourbon and macerate overnight ( I do at least a week with a GOOD bourbon, to re−hydrate fruit.
    3) Place fruit and liquid in a non−reactive pot with the sugar, butter, apple juice and spices.
    4) Bring mixture to a boil stirring often, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
    5) Remove from heat and cool for at least 15 minutes. (Batter can be completed up to this point, then covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before completing cake.)
    6) Heat oven to 325 degrees.
    7) Combine dry ingredients and sift into fruit mixture.
    8) Quickly bring batter together with a large wooden spoon, then stir in eggs one at a time until completely integrated, then fold in nuts.
    9) Spoon into a 10−inch non−stick loaf pan and bake for 1 hour.
    10) Check for doneness by inserting toothpick into the middle of the cake.
    11) If it comes out clean, it’s done. If not, bake another 10 minutes, and check again.

  • Chewy Chips

    Ingredients:

    2 sticks unsalted butter
    2 1/4 cups bread flour
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 1/4 cups brown sugar
    1 egg
    1 egg yolk
    2 tablespoons milk
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

    Preparation:

    1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
    2. Melt the butter in a heavy−bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
    3. Pour the melted butter in the mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed.
    4. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
    5. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips..
    6. Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment−lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet.
    7. Bakefor 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes..
    8. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
  • Buttermilk Fried Chicken

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    Recently at dinner my daughter instructed me, “tell your website readers that your kid says this is a good one.” Done, brat. This chicken was good – perfectly tender, well flavored, crunchy – just what one wants in fried chicken.

    Searching around for a buttermilk fried chicken recipe, I adapted this recipe from various sources. Many recipes I found seemed to be rather dated as they called for frying the chicken in vegetable shortening. Most shortenings on the market have transfats in them, which we now know are very bad for us. We do our frying, of anything, in canola oil. It is a high smoke-point oil, which means that you can get it pretty hot before it begins to burn, making it perfect for deep frying. It also has many known health benefits. The recipes also called for frying the chicken in a cast iron frying pan. I love my cast iron pans, but they tend to be quite heavy, and retain heat so well, that if you have a problem and have to lower the heat rapidly, you won’t be able to do it. (I’ve started a kitchen fire with peanut oil in a cast iron skillet – not fun – if it ever happens to you, remove the pan from the heat element, and cover it quickly with a lid.)

    Ingredients:

    1 (3 pound) fryer cut into pieces
    2 cups buttermilk
    1 large onion, sliced
    1/4 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (parsley, tarragon, thyme) or a teaspoon each of the dried herbs.
    1/2 teaspoon paprika
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    2 cups flour
    1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
    1/2 teaspoon onion salt
    1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    Salt and pepper
    2 cups canola oil, or other high smoke-point oil such as peanut oil

    Preparations:

    1 Soak chicken overnight (at least 8 hours and up to two days) in buttermilk with onions, herbs, paprika, and cayenne pepper. (Regarding the use of buttermilk, others have had good results from soaking chicken in plain yogurt instead of buttermilk.)

    2 Drain in colander, leaving some herbs on chicken. In a large paper or plastic (sturdy) bag, mix flour with seasonings. Meanwhile, heat 2 cups oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet (cast iron, stainless steel, or anodized aluminum – something that can take the heat) on medium high heat until a pinch of flour starts to sizzle when dropped in the hot oil (but not so hot that the pan is smoking). Remember when working with hot oil, always have a pan lid close by.

    3 Place chicken pieces in bag with flour and shake until thoroughly coated. Add chicken to hot pan and fry on 1 side for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown, and then use tongs to turn the pieces over and fry for another 10-12 minutes, again until golden brown.

    Be careful to keep the oil hot enough to fry the chicken, but not so high as it burns the chicken. To do this on a electric stove you may have to alternate the settings between high to medium high several times while you are cooking.

    4 Use tongs to remove chicken from pan. Place on a rack over a cookie sheet or broiling pan for the excess oil to drain. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

    Goes well with Roast Garlic Mashies, biscuits, and Milk Gravy.

  • Fettuccine Alfredo

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    Having had Fettuccine Alfredo at Alfredo’s in New York, London and Vegas. I know what it should taste like, and this is the absolute heart stopping, artery clogging delightt of an Alfredo sauce. You do not want to use a grated parmesan that you buy on a shelf. When you cook with that type, your Alfredo goes from a sauce to a gooey mess. You want to buy a very good and very hard Parmesan in triangle form. Also, make sure the cream doesn’t boil too much or there will not be enough liquid to make the Alfredo sauce smooth.

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 10 ounces fettuccini pasta
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • 2 tablespoons dried parsley

    Preparation:

    1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add fettucine pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
    2. In a large skillet melt the butter and add the chopped garlic. Cook on low for about 5 minutes, stirring often, making sure not to burn the garlic.
    3. Pour about a 1/4 cup of the heavy cream into a small bowl. Add the egg yolk and beat together; put aside. Pour the remaining cream into the frying pan. Increase the heat to medium-high. As the cream starts to boil, mix rapidly using a whisk. Slowly add the cream/egg mixture. You do not want the egg to curdle. Continue whisking until well blended.
    4. Add 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese and continue to mix the cream. Pour in the remaining Parmesan and the parsley, mix until smooth. Immediately remove from stove. Serve over cooked pasta.

    Serve with a green salad, (Cesear for the truly suicidal) , fresh Garlic bread and a good glass of wine.

  • Bean Basics II

    How To Cook Dried Beans

    Dried beans can be cooked in a saucepan or pot on top of the stove, in a pressure cooker, in your oven, or in your microwave.

    The basic principles of cooking dried beans remain the same no matter which method you use. Dried beans require water or other liquid, oil or other fat and salt. Any acidic ingredients called for must be added at the specified time.

    Water or other liquid is needed to soften the beans as they cook. There must be enough liquid to keep the beans covered so they will cook uniformly. Any beans not covered during cooking will dry out and be inedible.

    Oil or other fat is used in the cooking of many foods to lessen the possibility of the cooking water boiling over. Vegetable oil, butter or margarine, lard or bacon is usually added to beans to help prevent boil-overs. The oil or fat used in the cooking also adds flavor to the beans.

    Salt may be necessary to give beans flavor. There is some controversy as to when is the best time to add the salt to the beans. Some cooks add the salt only after the beans have been softened in cooking. Others prefer to add the salt to the cooking water with the beans. Our experience is that adding salt at the beginning of cooking results in more flavorful beans and does not significantly influence the cooking time or tenderness of the beans. For average taste, 1 teaspoon of salt in the cooking water for each cup of beans is about right. Note: You may want to hold off or cut down on the amount of salt used if salty meat is going to be added.

    Basic Cooking

    Place the drained beans into a large pot or Dutch oven and cover with 6 cups fresh water for each pound (2 cups) of beans, or to about one inch above the beans. Add 1 to 2 Tablespoons oil (to prevent boiling over) and seasonings as desired. Boil gently with lid tilted until tender when taste tasted, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Add hot water as needed to keep beans just covered with liquid. The best rule is to test frequently during cooking, then come to your own decision when beans are tender and taste “done”.

    Stove-Top Cooking

    Cooking beans on top of the stove is a slow process that allows the flavors of the beans and seasoning to intermingle, creating the hearty flavor you expect from bean dishes. The disadvantage of this method is that it requires you to be present, although not continuously involved, while the beans are cooking.

    To cook beans on your stove-top, combine soaked or dried beans, water, oil or fat, and seasonings in a saucepan or pot of appropriate size. Bring the beans to a boil, reduce the heat, then cover and simmer until beans are tender. This takes 30 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the bean variety. Check the beans occasionally to see if they are covered with the cooking liquid. If there is so much liquid absorption and evaporation that the top of the beans becomes exposed, add very hot tap water to the pot to cover the beans.

    When dried beans boil, a foam forms on the top of the cooking liquid. This foam is water-soluble protein released from the beans and it will be absorbed back into the bean cooking liquid. It is not necessary to remove the foam. (To keep the foam down when cooking beans, add 1 Tablespoon of butter, drippings (consider flavor), or vegetable salad oil, for each cup of beans.)

    The best cookware for beans is a heavy metal pot or saucepan. Stainless steel, cast aluminum or cast iron are all excellent. The following guide may help you decide which of your pots and pans would be best for cooking beans.

    Stainless steel pans should have copper or aluminum bottoms to distribute heat evenly. This cookware is easy to care for and lasts a lifetime.

    Cast aluminum pans must be heavy to distribute heat well. Aluminum darkens with use but this does not affect the quality of the cookware or the cooked beans. Thin aluminum pans are inappropriate for cooking pans.

    Cast iron is the heaviest of stove-top cookware. It heats slowly, distributes heat evenly and holds heat better than other materials. Cast iron coated with porcelain enamel is easy to clean.

    Pressure Cookers

    If you have a pressure cooker, take advantage of it to prepare beans in a matter of minutes.

    Pressure cookers are especially designed cookware of aluminum or stainless steel. All models have a lock-on lid and a vent over which a weight or pressure regulator, is placed. Most pressure cookers are designed to be used on top of your stove, but at least one model has its own electrical heat source.

    Food is cooked by the high temperatures inside the cooker. This high temperature is made possible by raising the pressure to a point greater than atmospheric pressure. Fifteen pounds of pressure will raise the temperature in the cooker high enough to cook soaked beans in 3 to 8 minutes. Cooking times given below are based on 15 pounds of pressure. If your cooker uses only 10 pounds, double the cooking time. (Before cooking beans in your pressure cooker, read the manufacturer’s instructions.)

  • Cast Iron Skillets / Dutch Ovens / griddles

    cicw.jpgI’ve always had cast iron, I’ve always used cast iron… I do not know why this is a BIG thing, (maybe because your mother used one, you don’t want to) but to educate teh unknowing and unwashed masses. Here are my tips / comments.
    Not just for meats, cast iron caramelizes to perfection, and its dry, even heat makes marvelous baked goods.

    No Sweat!

    Cast iron heats up quickly and cooks evenly, absorbing and retaining heat like no other surface; so foods brown and caramelize rather than sweat and stew.

    ‘Tis the Seasoning

    Vegetable oil spread over a dry skillet and baked in the oven will season your skillet, creating a rust resistant, nonstick surface. This durable skillet will just get better with age.

    Caring for Cast Iron

    To clean, just use mild dish soap and a nonmetal pad. Then wipe out well, season with a few drops of oil and store with a paper towel covering the cooking surface. No dishwashers!