Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Mom Cooking Tip 135

When baking a cake, don’t open the oven door until you can start smelling the cake.  If you open the door too early, the cake may not rise properly.  If it does fall in the center, pile on the icing so no one will notice.  Note thickness of icing in the center of the cake pictured above.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

Who Says Rice Is Boring?

Dinner Party Rice
Actually, me.  And it is boring the way I tend to make it.  Water – rice – boil - eat – reheat or make Fried Rice with the leftovers.  It’s simple.  It’s easy.  It’s bland.  It goes with just about anything except pizza or pasta.

I changed my mind about rice after my friend Grace, who’s from South America, served me her Dinner Party Rice.  Not only is her rice pretty to look at but also it tastes better than the average bowl of rice.

Part of that may be that she added a whole stick of butter to the pot while she was sautéing the scallions.  When I made my version of her recipe a few days later, I compromised and added just two tablespoons butter.  I also left out the nuts because a family member has a nut allergy.

Nevertheless, Grace’s Dinner Party Rice was a big hit.  We had 11 people at the table, and barely any was left. 
Dinner Party Rice – serves 12-16 
1 cup uncooked wild rice
1 cup uncooked brown or white jasmine rice
2 tablespoons butter (or more if you like lots of butter)
1 cup chopped scallions, both white and green parts
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
In separate pots cook the wild rice and the jasmine rice, following the directions, and then let them cool. 
Add the butter to a small pot and then sauté the scallions, apricots, nuts (if using) and lemon rind for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the scallions soften. 
Combine the two rices in a large pot or wok.  Stir in the scallion mixture, salt, pepper and any remaining melted butter.  Mix thoroughly and cook over medium-high heat until hot.  
Transfer to a large bowl and serve. 

                         For easy recipes, order "Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen!" 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Avocado Toast

I need to get in the Avocado Toast business, now that I realize some people will pay $17 for something I can make for less than a dollar. And that includes homemade wholegrain bread.

I’m not usually on the cutting edge of restaurant dishes, and I’m probably behind the curve on this one too.  But I am a big fan of avocados. 

I didn’t discover this fruit until I was an adult and went grocery shopping with a friend.  He mentioned that his mother often served avocados so I bought one as a dinner side dish.  Regrettably he didn’t mention that avocados are only really edible when they’re ripe.  Under-ripe avocados, which are rock-like, have no taste, and once you cut into them they will not ripen further.  Over-ripe avocados are usually mushy, riddled with black spots and have an off  taste.

In their natural just-ripe state, avocados have a delicate flavor.  Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing poured into the cavity where the very large avocado seed once was boosts the taste.  Check out this link.  This was my go-to appetizer when I lived in London.

Avocado Toast is a good alternative.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Mom Cooking Tip 134

When adding dried herbs to a dish, crush them between your fingers.  This action will help release their flavor.

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Monday, January 8, 2018

Eat Your Greens

These three words – “Eat your greens” – evoke strong memories at our house, especially when our son and daughter are sitting around the dinner table.  While attending elementary school in London, they heard these words constantly at lunchtime.  The dinner ladies, as the female cafeteria staff were called, would not allow children to leave the table until their plates were clean.  Usually that meant choking down some mysterious green sludge.

As parents, we were happy to know our kids were eating balanced meals that we didn’t have to prepare.  Only later did we realize that greens had become the enemy.  These days we often have impromptu skits when cooked spinach, kale, chard, beet greens or mustard greens appear as side dishes.  Luckily leafy salads don’t prompt anyone to chant “Eat your greens,” but our son did buy his sister a dinner lady action figure a few years ago.

How can I overcome this knock on foods that I like to eat?

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Anchovy Paste: What Is It and How Do I Use It?

Anchovy paste has been around for centuries and was even used by the Romans.  It’s made of mashed up anchovies, a little water or olive oil and a small amount of sugar to offset the fishy taste. 

For convenience it is usually available in little tubes so you can squeeze out just the amount you need, which is unlikely to be more than a teaspoon at a time.  You can also make your own by mashing anchovy fillets (sold in small cans) with olive oil.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Start the Year Off with Chocolate

Nobody brought me a chocolate dessert over the holidays, so I had to make my own.  That’s not such a terrible thing because I have a lot of good chocolate recipes.  And if I make them myself, I know where to hide the leftovers.

Right now there are two thin slivers of Chocolate Mousse Cake wrapped up in a plastic bag in the back of the fridge.  The last guests leave tomorrow, and I’ll be free to nibble on them in peace.

This is one of the easiest cakes ever.