Thursday, December 31, 2015

Mom Cooking Tip 35

If you’re serving plain pasta in a bowl, offering sauces on the side, add one tablespoon oil or butter to the noodles to keep them from sticking to each other.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Recipes That Live On

Dorothy's Hungarian Goulash
If I had more time, I’d make Julia Child’s Coq au Vin (Casserole of Chicken in Red Wine) recipe once a week.  I have successfully recreated her Cheese Souffle—a dish I was terrified to cook for guests because at the time I was a newbie in the kitchen and worried it wouldn’t rise.  I also treasure her Beef Bourguignon (Beef Stewed in Red Wine) recipe, and there’s no fear factor involved—just lots of steps and waiting around.

Last night I was reminded how good these classic dishes can be, especially when someone else is cooking them.  Our friend Dorothy invited us over for dinner and served Goulash, the Hungarian version of beef stew.  Dorothy clipped this recipe from a newspaper a few decades ago, cooked it dozens of times and made it her own.  It’s less complicated than Beef Bourguignon but equally delicious.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Mom Money-Saving Tip 34

If you’re tired of rich holiday food and also want to save some money, make a big baked potato or two medium-size potatoes as your entrĂ©e. If you must have a little meat, add some chopped-up leftover turkey, beef, pork or ham and top with salsa.

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Mom Money-Saving Tip 33

Clockwise from left: dried figs, ground flax seed, dried cranberries, cornmeal, wild rice medley

Buy basics like dried fruit, rice, grains, lentils, flax seeds, nuts, cornmeal and flour from bulk bins. Not only is the price cheaper but also you’re not paying for packaging.

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Perfect Lunch

Smoked Salmon on a Bagel

Is there such a thing as the perfect lunch?  As a kid, I alternated between a deviled ham sandwich and a tuna salad sandwich.  Sometimes my mom made grilled cheese sandwiches on weekends. 

On special occasions, we would go to lunch at Isaly’s, a local delicatessen chain. You could get chipped chopped ham barbecue sandwiches—basically soft buns filled with hot shaved ham in a spicy tomato sauce.  (see recipe below).

Monday, December 21, 2015

Mom Cooking Tip 34

Basting a turkey makes you feel like you’re helping the turkey cook, but it doesn’t do much for the turkey. I’ve found the best way to give the turkey an attractive brown sheen is to rub it with some cooking oil before putting it into the oven. After an hour, cover the breasts with a sheet of foil. About 45 minutes before the turkey is done, remove the foil for final browning.

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Friday, December 18, 2015

Cooking Fast Often Means Cooking Small

Early in my kitchen days I figured out that the quickest way to get cooked meat, potatoes and vegetables on the table was to cut them up into small pieces before cooking them.  It takes more than 1 hour to roast a chicken, 20 minutes to poach a boneless chicken breast in water, 8 minutes to grill or broil a skewer of chicken kebabs and 2 minutes to stir-fry 1/2-thick strips of chicken.  If I were truly in a hurry, stir-fry was my cooking method of choice.

Similar timetables hold true for beef, lamb and pork.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Mom Money-Saving Tip 32

Don’t eat out. Saving money can’t get any simpler than that. Anything you cook for yourself will usually cost no more than 25% of what it would cost in a restaurant. Maybe it’s not so convenient to boil water to make spaghetti, but consider this: a 16-ounce package of uncooked spaghetti noodles costs between $1-$2, and it will serve 3 generous portions. A jar of marina sauce costs $1.50-$3. A 1-pound sirloin steak—enough for 2 people—is likely to cost somewhere between $7.50 and $10 per pound. A 4-pound chicken, which is easy to roast and will feed 4 people, costs under $5.

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Mom Cooking Tip 33

Keep extra bread in the freezer (well-wrapped in plastic) to prevent it from getting stale. Individual slices of bread thaw within a few minutes on the counter or even quicker in the toaster. Heat French bread on an oven rack at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. It will taste just as good, and sometimes even better, than when you bought it.

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Why Is Cabbage One of the Most Hated Foods on the Planet?

Asian Chicken Slaw

The stuffed cabbage I grew up with was loathsome, although I now realize it was the fatty ground beef stuffing that made it so. My kids still talk about the dinner ladies and the smell of overcooked cabbage at their London elementary school.

Fish Taco with Cabbage and Salsa
So what prompted me to buy a cabbage the other day?  I was making fish tacos, and raw shredded cabbage is a perfect accompaniment.  But cabbages are big and they’re dense.  After making the tacos, I had about three-quarters of the cabbage left.  What was I going to do with it?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Mom Money-Saving Tip 31

Instead of using half-and-half or cream, substitute powdered milk mixed with a small amount of water to make it the consistency of cream.

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Mom Cooking Tip 32

Thicken soups with instant potato flakes. Add 1 tablespoon at a time and stir thoroughly before adding more.

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Saturday, December 5, 2015

Why Wait Around to Eat?

Pulled Pork Sandwiches
One of my most vivid childhood memories involves sitting in a fancy restaurant called The Skyliner.  Our parents thought it was a special treat to dine out at least twice a year.  My brother and I considered it torture because of all the waiting around.  

Back then, bread baskets didn’t exist in Western Pennsylvania.  Or maybe our little town was too unsophisticated to have them.  All I know is that once we ordered our prime ribs of beef, it took the waiter at least 30 minutes to bring them to the table. To a kid that was like half a day.  What were they doing in the kitchen?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mom Money-Saving Tip 30

Turkey Salad
Turn leftovers into a new meal. If it’s turkey, make cold turkey sandwiches, open-faced hot turkey sandwich covered with gravy, turkey and rice soup, turkey salad, turkey and noodle casserole, turkey tacos, turkey and vegetable curry. Be imaginative!

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