Sunday, November 24, 2013

Karen's Bread

OMG Becky look at her butt. Toochi, toochi.  Do you know where she got that butt?  From eating this bread.

4 cups of hot-warm water
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
5 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup white
1/2 cup gluton flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
8 tsp fast acting yeast
3 cups whole wheat flour (fresh grind)

knead for 10 min.  Rest for 10 minutes.  Form into 3 loaves.  rise until it fills the pan.  Cook 30 minutes 300 degrees.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Blueberry-Raspberry Muffins

What is the difference between a muffin and a cupcake?  The answer is that muffins are ugly cupcakes.  That is true for most muffins.  Sure they might have fruit or other interesting things, but the cakey part is about the same a a cake.  This muffins is different.  Because of the addition of oatmeal, it has a completely different texture.  Yes, it is yummy.  But this has a texture to it that makes you think you are eating a breakfast item and not just a cupcake without frosting.

This recipe works with all types of fruit. Some combos I have tried are
peaches and mangos
cranberries with chocolate chips and walnuts
apple chunks and cinnamon
just blueberries

Just make sure that whatever you add is dry (not sitting in juice) and adds up to a total of two cups.  Fine, I'll admit that I usually add an extra half cup 'cause I like an obscene amount of fruit in my muffins.   Okay, it might be three cups. 

 They freeze well and can sit out on the counter all day and will not dry out.

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1 16oz container sour cream
10 Tbsp butter
2 cups brown sugar, packed
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup fresh or frozen (not thawed) raspberries
1 cup fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries
2Tbsp sugar (for sprinkling on top)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 24 muffins tins with liners (liners are not an option) Combine flour, b. soda, salt, and b. powder in a small bowl and set aside.

Beat the eggs with sour cream in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt together the butter and brown sugar until dissolved. Cool slightly then beat into egg mixture. Stir in the oats. Fold in the flour mixture. Very gently fold in the berries.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Drop a generous pinch of sugar on top. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until edges are brown and tops are firm. Cool on wire rack five minutes then remove muffins from tin and finish cooling them.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fruit Pizza

Just in case you don't like suspense, this is not really a pizza. It is shaped like one and you cut it like one. After that, it is on it's own.I know everyone has a recipe for this. I am sure I am not sharing anything ingenious or original. I do use a combo that may not be the most common. I like it because it does have a light texture and a light lemony flavor. And then there is the fruit. Fruit is the best dessert - do not gasp you chocolate lovers, I just mean that since fruit is good for you AND is light and refreshing, it is truly a great ending to a meal. This is beautiful to look at and yummy to eat AND fun to make. Let your creativity run wild.Do not make it too far in advance or the crust will get soggy and the fruit will get old. I like to make the crust earlier in the day and mix the filling ahead and keep it in the fridge. For the fruit, I prep it and then lay it out on paper towels to dry and absorb any extra moisture. That way when you put in on the filling, it does not turn goopy.

For the filling:
8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup orange marmalade

Cream together and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the crust:
use any sugar cookie recipe or mix or refrigerated dough. Pillsbury is just fine. On a Parchment sheet, Trace the size of your pan on the wrong side. Flatten your dough and place another parchment sheet over it and roll out the dough to cover the circle, making sure that the dough is rolled out evenly. Peel the parchment off, place your pan on top, flip and peel off the other sheet. This helps achieve a even and flat surface. (If you simply press it in, it could be rather lopsided.) Bake according to the recipe, but allow it to over baked a little. You do not want a slightly under baked crust because it will get too soggy. It would be better to start out a little crunchy, even though this goes against every sacred sugar cookie rule. Let cool completely.

Wash fruit and slice, if needed. You can use any type, as long as it is fresh. Canned fruit may be used if drained and dry. Do not use frozen fruit. Melon does not work well either, because of its high water composition. Some of my favorites are kiwi, any berries, tangerines or Mandarin oranges, pineapple, grapes, mango, and starfruit. Bananas and apples need to be bathed in lemon juice or they will brown (they do not add much color, but they are yummy.)

When ready to assemble, spread the cookie crust with the cream cheese mixture evenly, allowing a very small outside rim or cookie. Beginning in the middle, lay your fruit on top in whatever design you want. Serve right away. Cut with a pizza cutter. Store leftovers in the fridge.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fresh Nectarine Cupcakes

McKayla was thumbing through an issue of Martha Stewart Living. Oo-ing and Ah-ing at everything. (What is it about that magazine? Every month Martha convinces me that I can be Martha, too.) She decided that the cupcakes on the last page were a must-make. Coincidentally, I had been seduced by a particularly fragrant bag of nectarines at the grocery store earlier that day. Coincidence? Fate? Karma? Luck? Who knows. But one thing I do know, these are amazing!

So here is the recipe, with the adjustments I made ... (always making some adjustment ...)

Boil water in a pot. While heating up, set up a water bath. (Water bath: bowl full of ice cubes and water that will immediately stop the cooking process.)You are going to be peeling off the skin of the nectarines. When the water is boiling rapidly, gently submerge 4 clean, ripe nectarines. I like to stir them. After a minute, take out one and submerge in the water bath. Test to see if the skin comes off easily. If it does, take them all out and submerge in the water bath. If not return to the pot and continue cooking for about 15 seconds before you test again. Repeat until skin comes off easily, but the fruit should not be cooked. Congratulations! You have just learned how to BLANCH.

Peel, slice, remove pit and chop up the fruit in small chunks. Not itty-bitty so it is just mush, but so you can still see nice chunks. Set aside.

Let's make some cupcake batter!

1 1/2 cubes softened butter (12 tbsp or 3/4 of a cup)
1 1/2 cups sugar

Mix until fluffy. Add the following:

2/3 cup milk (Martha said whole, but I used 1% and felt just fine with it.)
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs

Sift together the dry and then add to the wet:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Mix until everything is smooth and fluffy.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and insert two dozen paper cups in muffin tins. Fill each cup with 1 heaping-tbsp of batter. Then fill with 1 heaping-tbsp of nectarines. Top with 1 heaping-Tbsp of batter. Bake for 25 minutes. The tops should be golden brown. Let cool. Remove from tin.

Let's make some topping:

1 1/2 cups cold whipping cream
1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp powdered milk (this stabilizes the whipped cream)

Beat together on high speed until it looks like whipped cream should look. Dollop on cupcakes right before you eat. Add a slice of nectarine to make it look super pretty!

Makes 2 dozen.
El yumm-o!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

German Pancakes

German Pancakes are one of those foods that while you are eating it, you know you shouldn't. The first time I had them, one of my BYU roommates had made one. When they came out of the oven she sprinkled it with a generous layer of powdered sugar and then squeezed a lemon over it. Heaven! I could not believe I had lived so long and never eaten it before.

A few years later, I ran across a recipe in a cookbook, made it and passed my love onto my young family. McKayla, who is not a big fan of pancakes/waffles/french toast fell madly in love. It became her favorite breakfast food of all time. It is regularly served as her "birthday breakfast" and usually gets one or two additional appearances for a holiday or general conference breakfast. But it remains special. Not just an everyday or any day treat.

By the way, I was fine with my recipe. I had ordered it in a couple of restaurants through the years and found that it was always good, mostly the same. Consistently good. Sometimes served with apples, or syrup, or lemon juice. But the pancake itself was pretty much the same.

Switching themes for a moment. My friend Sheila is the most positive, gracious person out there. Having had her difficulties, she is not only a survivor, but one with a smile on her face. She does not dwell on the negatives, but looks for the opportunities in the future. I love and admire so much about her. She would have been great on the pioneer trail. But I digress, this is a recipe blog and I am not going to cook Sheila. I bring this up because during one of those incredibly generous moments, she made this for us. We were staying with her while the girls were attending a BYU sports camp. I though it was enough for us to stay in her beautiful home, but no. She also made us breakfast every morning and dinner every night. I mean come on, 5-star all the way. I could do a whole post on how wonderful that week was. I think I did (right here and then continuing through several more posts) There I go digressing again.

Bottom line: Sheila made us German Pancakes one morning and they were so much better than other I had ever had. I needed that recipe. Here it is:

Take a cube of butter and put it into a 13 x 9 can pan (I use a glass one) put it in the oven and turn the oven on to 450 degrees. Keep an eye on it. The butter needs to melt and the pan needs to be hot. But you don't want it to burn.

While that is going on mix the following:

6 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt

Stir until smooth. When the butter is melted and the oven is hot, keep the pan in the oven and pour the mixture into the pan. Do not stir. The melted butter will stay separate and that is how you want it. Let bake for 15-20 minutes, checking after 15. It will balloon up and you don't wan the edges to get too dark/burnt.

Serve immediately. You can used the lemon juice/powdered sugar way or just maple syrup or plain. Experiment. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Madison's Famous, from scratch, Mac & Cheese

4 cups uncooked pasta

Boil the pasta, following the directions on the package. Mix the sauce while the pasta cooks so that the sauce is ready for the drained pasta. Drain the pasta and then put in into a large bowl to mix it with the sauce.

Cheese sauce:

Melt together in a sauce pan:
1/2 stick of butter
8 oz of shredded cheddar cheese

In a large bowl, combine:
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup (Campbells)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp black pepper

Pour the butter/cheese mixture into the bowl and combine. Dump the drained pasta into the bowl and stir until the pasta is completely sauced. At this point it can be refrigded for later or cooked right away.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes (40 minutes if coming from the fridge.) Cover with an additional 2 oz of shredded cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Bake for 10 more minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thanksgiving Menu for 2010

Our Menu for this year:

Appetizers (which doubles as brunch):
Veggies & Dip
Artichoke Cheese Dip in a Sourdough Breadbowl
Cold Shrimp Platter
Grilled Bacon Wrapped Fresh Pineapple
Carrot Raisin Bread

Main Dinner:
Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
Cornbread Stuffing
Cranberry Sauce
Steamed Veggies
Green Bean Casserole (my children have never had a proper one, so I thought I would introduce it to them.)
Sweet Potato Souffle with Praline Pecan Topping
Homemade Rolls
Homemeade Mac & Cheese
Green Salad

Maple Sandwich Cookies
Pumpkin Pie w/ Whipped Cream
Fall Leaf Sugar Cookies

This menu was designed by the children. They each got to pick one dish that they could not live without.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

White Chicken Chili

My versions of chili always consist of using leftover meat. So this recipe assumes that I made rotisserie chicken the night before (or two nights, but not more.) My family eats the chicken and we always seem to have enough for something else as well. So here it goes.

Take my left over chicken carcass complete with meat attached and put in a big pot with enough water to cover. Bring to boil, put the lid on, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for about an hour.

Drain the chicken in a colander but drain the stock into another pot. This is your chicken stock.

Let the chicken cool a little (just until you can attack it without bodily injury.) Go ahead a strip it. Get all the meat and discard the rest. The meat should be easily shredded by hand, but don't worry. It will keep breaking up in the last step, so you can leave it in big chunks for now.

Now for the chili part.

1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 whole can diced green chilies, do not drain - we want the liquid
1 pound dried great northern beans - white ones, rinse
10 cups chicken broth - this is approximate and will vary so just use the stuff you just made and we can add more later. Some people like thick stew like chili and some people like thin soup like chili so this is a place to add your personal touch
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 - 2 cups whole milk (this makes it creamy - if you don't want creamy, then adjust the water)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Grated Monterey Jack cheese and avocados are our favorite toppings.

You can always add sour cream, guacamole, chopped, fresh cilantro, pico do gallo, Fritos, etc. for toppings. To quote my favorite line from Tortilla Soup: "I love toppings. Sometimes I go to restaurants and I just order toppings."

Saute the onions and garlic in a little olive oil until soft. Pour into the pot with the chicken stock (from above) and add the green chilies and rinsed beans, cumin and a little salt and pepper. (Remember it is easier to add more salt than to remove it, so be conservative.) Bring to a boil and place a lid on the pot and reduce to a simmer. Cook for two hours or until the beans are done.

Add the chicken and the milk. Give it a good stir. This is where you have to make the adjustments for thick or thin. Add more chicken broth or milk. Check the seasonings. Add more salt, pepper, or even cayenne depending on your tastes. Let simmer for about 10 minutes and then serve.

Garnish with any or all toppings. Serve with warmed tortillas or Fritos or cornbread. Or all three. Live a little.

My new menu ideas

Ever get tired of having the same old thing? I get into these modes where every week tastes the same as every other week. I lack the creativity, the energy, the motivation. I just want to give my kids something that I know they will like and the next thing you know, we get caught in a rut.

My new idea is to brainstorm all my ideas for food I know they will like and then cook all of them before I go back and remake any of them. I broke down the list into categories and we will see how it goes. Here is the starting list. Some things might be switched out, but at least I know they like everything on the list.

Pot Pie
Alice Springs
w/ Dumplings
Shepherdress Pie
Chicken Salad

Broccoli Cheese
Chicken Noodle
Clam Chowder
Corn Chowder
Baked Potato
Chicken & Mushroom
White Chicken Chili
Chicken Tortilla
Split Pea

Sausage & Veggie
Straw & Hay
Kodi's Bowties
Mac & Cheese
Tuna Casserole
Crab Cakes

Turkey Burgers
Roast Turkey

Pork Chops
Pai Gu
French Dip
Beef Pie
Carne Asada
Shepherds Pie
Beef & Broccoli

Monte Cristo
Hot Dogs
Baked Potatoes
Breakfast for dinner

I will be adding in the links as I go.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Guacamole Salad

Serve as either a side salad, a condiment for tacos, or a dip with chips. We do all three.

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bell pepper, any color, seeded and diced small
1 can black beans, rinsed
1/4 cup red onion, diced small
4-5 ripe avocados, diced in medium chunks

zest & juice of two limes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt (add more later, as needed)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (add more later, as needed)
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Make the dressing separately and whisk until combined. Mix together all the rest of the ingredients and toss with the dressing. Adjust seasonings. Serve as either a side salad, a condiment for tacos, or a dip with chips. We do all three.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why My Children Like Fish

Several friends have asked me, how do I get my children to eat fish? Here is my explanation:

Ryan and I like fish.

My children love to eat fish: salmon, scallops, tilapia, halibut, cod, shrimp, calamari, snapper, swordfish, sushi, ahi, tuna fish sandwiches, crab, etc. Ryan and I love it too. If you do the math, that means everyone in the family loves it. That means when we order calamari as an appetizer, there is an all-out scramble for it.

Let me tell a little story to illustrate: In Kindergarten, Madison, along with 200 other students in her school, had a writing prompt: Tell about your favorite sea animal and why you like it. Every student wrote something like "I like sharks. I like their teeth." or "I like starfish. They are pretty." or "I like dolphins. They are fast." or "I like seahorses. I wish I could ride one." You get the idea. 199 students all followed the same pattern. Except for one. Madison wrote: "I like crab dipped in butter." The teachers howled over that one and word spread that they had an out of the box thinker. The point of the this story is that my children have always loved it.

I should clarify that they are not fans of just any fish. It you put overcooked, dry fish in front of them, they will react like any normal child. One bite and it will sit there for a very uncomfortable amount of time. They won't touch it. It must be moist and just cooked through, not overcooked. They like their ahi rare. Just seared on the outside and red and rare inside. They also don't like it heavy seasoned. No fancy-smancy herbs, spices, seasoning. Their favorite is basic salt and pepper with a little lemon. They will tolerate a little teriyaki or other Asian influenced flavors.

I usually will not cook fish in an oven or broiler, because I feel like I don't have enough control over it. There are essentially two ways I prepare a standard fish. One is sauteed in a pan and the other is BBQ'd on a cedar plank. The method of pan saute is one of feel and experience. The cedar plank is pretty much fool proof. It will produce a moist fish.

You must purchase cedar planks. You can buy them in gourmet shops or kitchen supply stores. You can also get them at a place that sells lumber. You want them to be about a half an inch thick, completely untreated and the right size. Small enough to fit inside a covered BBQ, large enough to hold enough fish to feed your family. The ones sold at Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table are about 12" by 6" roughly. That will hold a nice sized fillet.

First, you must soak the plank in water for at least two hours. It is going to be put directly on the grill so if it is not wet enough, it will burn up before the fish cooks. Soaking it does two things: it keeps it from catching fire and burning, and it produces steam for cooking the fish.

When you are ready to cook the fish, remove the plank from the water, tap dry and lay your fish on top, skin side down. (I am assuming at this point, it has already been cleaned and ready to cook.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper and any other seasoning you desire. If you wish, you may spread a little butter on it. I don't do this because generally the cedar plank gives it a butter taste naturally and salmon already has enough fats in it. However if you are using this method with a less fatty fish, you might want to add butter. It is a matter of personal preference.

Depending on the heat of the grill, check the fish after about 10 minutes and it will usually not take more than 20 minutes. Now, here is the key: take it off right before you think it is done. It will continue to cook after you take it off, so let it have a little rareness when you remove it from the fire. By the time you get it on the table, it will be perfect. If you wait until it is done, it may be overcooked. Remember overcooking is bad ... is dry ... will make a person hate fish.

When sauteing in a pan, I coat the pan with olive oil, add a tiny bit of butter for flavor and heat it up. Cut up the pieces into the serving sizes. Sprinkle both sides with a touch of slat and pepper. Next, put the fish in the pan. It should be hot enough to sizzle immediately. Let it cook until you notice that you can see that about two-thirds of the way up looks cooked. Flip the fillets. Squeeze a lemon wedge over the fillets. This will produce some steam and more sizzle. When you see the sides of the fish appear to be fully cooked, remove the fish. Remember, the fish will continue cooking. You want it to be slightly uncooked in the very center when you remove it. I don't give times because the thickness of the fillet has everything to do with the amount of time. Thin fillets will cook extremely fast. One-inch fillets of salmon will take about five to seven minutes (and that depends on your heat level as well.) I generally make sure everything else is ready and on the table before I put the fish in the pan. Fish is definitely and infinitely better when it is cooked immediately before serving.

To summarize & add a few more points:
1. Never feed your child a piece of overcooked, dry fish.
2. Be careful to not overly season your fish.
3. Cooking your fish with a little fresh ginger will diminish the fishy smell and taste.
4. Using the freshest fish possible will also diminish any smell and taste better.
5. Start feeding your children fish at an early age. That includes sushi, crab, lobster, caviar, calamari and other types that are typically more of the adult fare. Let them taste the good stuff. It will develop their taste buds for seafood in general.
6. Don't treat them like they will hate it. Act like it is the best thing ever. Have a positive attitude yourself. Don't pass on any negative feelings towards any type of seafood.
7. Never expose them to overcooked, dry fish. I might have already said that. It is very important.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray

I am reading this book for a book group I just joined and had to share this one:
I held four chicken breasts in my cupped hands. I stared into the cold, translucent flesh, wondering how I could make them sing. I got tired of cooking dinner. Everybody gets tired of cooking dinner. There's too much responsibility. Did we eat this last week? Is this good for you? Is it balanced, is it green, will he like it, will she eat it, do I have the right ingredients, enough time, will this new recipe fail me? Camille wouldn't eat red meat anymore and had recently informed me as I set a plate of chops on the table that pork, so widely advertised as "the other white meat," was in fact as red as a flank steak. "Pigs are more intelligent than dogs," she said. "Why don't we just eat Benjy for dinner?" Lately she had been talking about giving up chicken and fish, maybe even becoming a vegan, which would reduce me to coming up with fascinating ways to cook broccoli every night without benefit of cheese sauce. My mother clipped chilled-salad recipes from women's magazines and taped them onto the refrigerator to voice her own preferences. Sam was deeply suspect of anything that he hadn't eaten before and had been known to pick dishes apart until he could clearly identify each of their elements. Wyatt, my vacuum, the only truly brilliant eater in the family, was a junior in college and enjoying the deep, hot wells of cafeteria food that could be ladled onto a tray. As for me, I couldn't have cared less. I think I would have been happy with a carton of lemon yogurt every night if it meant I didn't have to cook. Dinner, I think, would be fascinating if I only had to do it once a week. Dinner could be riveting if there was a way to make it cake.

I washed the chicken breasts and stripped out their tendons with pliers. As I was beating them flat between sheets of wax paper I started thinking about making a carrot cake. I had plenty of carrots. I had been planning on making glazed carrots for dinner but there was no reason why I couldn't shred them instead. My family tended to grumble when there was too much cake in the house. As a rule, they liked to see cakes go right out the door, to school bake sales, to sick friends, for someone's birthday. When Camille's friends came over they told her she was lucky. "My mom wouldn't know how to bake a cake if you threw a box of Duncan Hines at her," her friend Becca said as she lobbed off a hunk of chocolate chiffon, but Camille only snarled. Still, if I made the carrot cake without frosting, if I put a minimal amount of sugar in it and baked it on a sheet pan so that I could slice it into squares, I could practically pass it off as cornbread.

For some reason, I can totally relate.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fried Rice

After many requests ... here is one of my best recipes.

I first learned how to make fried rice on my mission. I served in Taiwan and most of my companions were native Chinese. Some could cook and some could order take out. I learned a few things about fried rice. First, it is so yummy and each time it is different. It is called leftovers and they eat it for breakfast. It is hard to find in restaurants. I mean why would you go to a restaurant to order leftovers? I only saw it in one restaurant my entire mission. They always served steamed white rice. Sticky. Oh how I love sticky rice. By the way, the proper way to cook sticky rice is half the battle, so here it is:


Measure the rice in the ratio of 3:4 rice to water. For this recipe, I made 1 1/2 cups of rice to 2 cups cold water. But I am getting ahead of myself. First measure the rice and pour it on a pot or bowl. Add water to cover and swish the water around with your hands. The water will turn cloudy white. Pour the water out without loosing your rice grains. Repeat. Repeat again and again until the water no longer turns cloudy but stays clear. This usually takes three or four times depending on how good of a swisher you are. Get all the water out and then add the cooking water following the above ratio. Make sure it is in a pot big enough for it to triple. It will probably only double, but you need lots of room for the steam. Put in over high heat and watch it until it boils. As soon as you see the bubbles, turn the heat to a low simmer, cover with a lid and set the timer for twenty minutes. When the timer goes off, DON'T touch it. Turn off the heat and set the timer for another twenty minutes. When that is done, you may lift off the lid and VOILA, sticky rice. Or you can buy a rice cooker and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

So now on to FRIED RICE.

So in the Chinese home, they make a lovely dinner of rice, veggies, and a little meat with yummy sauce (not sweet) and then seasonal fruit for dessert. The leftovers go in the fridge and in the morning, all that goes in a wok with a little scrambled egg. And there you have it: Fried Rice. It is indeed a breakfast food. In many homes, it is eaten every morning. Sometimes people will take take it for lunch if there is still some leftover. It is the ultimate Chinese comfort food.

So how do you put that in a recipe? It has taken a while. When I make it, it is always a little different. But I have developed a standard recipe. This is a sure fire winner. My girls love this and will eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so I make a big pot.

You will notice that this version uses bacon. I do this for several reasons, not the least of which is because it tastes so good. For one thing, bacon is so flavorful that you can actually use less meat and get more bang for your buck than using other types. I spoke with my friends from Taiwan about whether that was kosher. They now have several Costco's throughout Taiwan and bacon is one of the most popular items. The Chinese are not food snobs. They will use anything that tastes good. Bacon is becoming more and more the rage with people who have access to it. Why? Because it has a lot of flavor.

So here goes, for real this time:


1 1/2 cups rice cooked with 2 cups water so it is nice and sticky. (This can be cold or hot. Usually they start with it cold, because it was in the fridge.)

1 medium brown onion, chopped and sauteed until very soft
1 lbs bacon, or other meat of your choice; cooked and chopped
3 eggs, scrambled
1 small bag mixed frozen veggies (I like to get the pea, carrot, green bean mix)
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

On top of the cooked rice, dump in the onions, meat, scrambled eggs(cook them ahead of time) and frozen veggies. In a small cup, mix the water and soy sauce and then pour over the rest. Mix it all up with a spoon until everything is all distributed. (If you pour the water and soy sauce separately, it won't mix as well and some portions may be more strong tasting than others.)Now you are going to fry this in thirds, depending on the size of your pan. Add oil (you can use the bacon grease, peanut oil, or regular canola oil. If using olive oil, add a little butter to cover the taste. Do not use sesame oil, it is far too strong although a few drops will add a nice flavor.) Add just enough oil to cover the bottom and get it hot. Add one third of the mixture and spread it out on the bottom of the pan. Let it get nice and crusty and then start turning it and mixing. It is the crusty part that you want. When the moisture is cooked out and you have lots of crusty parts, Take it out of the pan and repeat with two more batches. Remember, you want as much rice to get cooked on the bottom of the pan as possible. Add more oil each time too, but just enough to cover the pan, not to deep fry.

Mix all three batches and season to taste. If using bacon and bacon grease, you most likely do not need to add any salt. So definitely taste it BEFORE you add any. I usually add quite a bit of pepper, 'cause that is how I roll.

Now that you have the hang of it, go nuts. Try different combinations. Soon you will be cooking Chinese food for dinner just to get leftovers so you can make it for breakfast in the morning.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Easy As Pie: Pie Crust

I used to think my method was kind of cheating, taking the easy way out. Then I saw a pie maker on Bobby Flay's Throwdown do it and I knew I was in good company. It is not cheating, it is simply smart. This method allows you to have a positively flaky crust because you add no extra flour for rolling AND you don't overwork the pastry.

Here are a few ground rules for pie crust:
Butter = firm & crumbly
Shortening = flaky and light
Over mixing = tough crust

I know, I know: shortening? I use shortening for only two things in this world: pie crust and buttercream frosting that will be piped on a cake. Sorry, but even the Culinary Institute of America, which promised no-trans fats on campus, had to make an exception to that. There is simply no way to achieved the right texture with either of those without the dreaded shortening. Luckily Crisco has a no-trans fat formula so we can live with ourselves.

This will make one 9 inch bottom crust:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter-flavored Crisco
3-4 Tbsp cold water

This will make one 9 inch double crust:

2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter-flavored Crisco
6-7 Tbsp cold water

Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl and toss together. Drop in the Crisco.

With your hands, blend the ingredients together, working quickly until you have a mixture that looks like bread crumbs. Sprinkle on the water, just 1 Tbsp at a time. Continue mixing with your hands.

Add just enough water for the dough to come together as one mass.

Take two pieces of wax paper that are square. Put the dough in between.

Roll out and continually adjust the wax paper and dough. Use the pie plate as your guide and try to keep it as round as possible. You should have about two inches wider than the pie plate all the way around. Pull one piece on wax paper off, replace. Flip.

Pull the other side off.

Put down the pie pan and flip both over so the pie crust is in the pan.

Pull the top wax paper off and use you fingers to fit it the pan.

Trim off the excess crust around the tin.

Prick several (by several, I mean go nuts) fork holes into the sides and bottom. This will keep the crust from becoming soggy. You can also brush it with an egg wash at this point. Sometimes I do, sometimes I forget. But if you prick enough holes, you shouldn't HAVE to.

For a single crust, decorate the edges and trim. If it should be pre-baked, baked for 15-20 minutes, keeping an eye on it at 425 degrees.

For the double crust, fill it and them repeat he same procedure with the next crust and set on top. Pressing the top and bottom crust together and decorate and trim. Follow the individual recipe for temperature and baking times.


I have decided that truffles are my new thing. Since I have learned how, and practiced, and now I am blowing my mind with how good they are, I just cannot stop. Here is my offering. More will follow.

Cranberry Orange Filling

300g good white chocolate

¼ cup whipping cream

½ tsp orange oil
½ cup dried cranberries, finely chopped

1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest or rind

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Warm the cream in a saucepan or microwave but be careful not to scald. Add the warm cream to the chocolate (still in the double boiler) and mix together until evenly combined. Remove from heat, add the remaining ingredients and beat the mixture until smooth and glossy.
Cover and refrigerate the mixture until it has set, 4 hours or overnight – remove mixture from fridge 10 minutes before rolling the truffles. With a small spoon or cookie scoop roll small balls of the mixture.
Makes 25-30

Lemon Blueberry Filling

300g good white chocolate

¼ cup whipping cream

½ tsp lemon oil
½ cup dried blueberries, finely chopped

1 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest or rind

Lime Coconut Filling

300g good white chocolate

¼ cup whipping cream

½ tsp lime oil
½ cup shaved coconut, finely chopped

1 1/2 tsp grated lime zest or rind

Peanut Butter Filling

4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup creamy peanut butter

Mix together. Roll into balls and refrigerate. Makes approx. 40.

Chocolate Truffle Fillings

1 pound of chocolate
1 cup heavy cream

Heat the cream and pour directly over the chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes and then stir slowly until completely incorporated. Add flavorings, if desired. Cover and chill until solid and then form into balls. Makes approx. 50 fillings.