Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Mom Cooking Tip 69

If you forgot to defrost the fish fillets you planned to eat for dinner, don’t despair.  Just cook them frozen but for 50% longer.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Crazy Combinations That Work


I discovered my first crazy food combo in middle school when I ate a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  For some unknown reason my parents did not eat peanut butter, so the peanut butter itself was quite eye-opening.  Mixing it with chocolate seemed heavenly.

My second crazy food combo also involved peanut butter--a plate of sliced bananas with a layer of peanut butter in between the slices.  They looked like sticky hors d’oeuvres.  I never got to taste them because the little kid who invented this combo in my kitchen was 4 years old and very possessive of his food.  He left me nothing to taste.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Question for Mom


Is there any way to make chocolate cake have stronger chocolate flavor?  Sharon A.


Yes.  If the recipe calls for milk, substitute an equal amount of water instead.  You will be surprised how much richer the chocolate flavor will be.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Mom Cooking Tip 68


Broccoli (left), Pureed Broccoli (right)
If you overcook vegetables, puree them in a blender or food processor with a bit of butter and say that was your intention all along.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Blast from the 1970's


No wonder someone donated “Chafing Dish & Fondue Cook Book” to my Friends of the Library sale.   Published by Sunset Magazine in 1973, the 80-page book focuses on a style of eating that few people seek out today.

Fondue pots are considered quaint, and chafing dishes are more likely to turn up at garage sales than on somebody’s table.  In case you’re not sure what a chafing dish is,

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Artichoke: What Is It and How Do I Cook It?

Fresh Artichoke
The artichoke has been around since Ancient Greece flourished, but it’s still a mystery to many.

Technically an artichoke is a thistle.  Some actually have thorns on the outer edge of each leaf.  Be careful not to stab yourself while handling them.  Cut off the thorns with scissors.

To cook an artichoke, boil or steam it first for about 35-50 minutes, depending on size, and then set it upside down in a colander on the sink to drain and cool.  Too much boiling makes everything mushy, but too little means the edible parts will be tough to chew.  An artichoke is ready to eat when a thick bottom leaf can be pulled off without using force, and the ‘meaty’ part of the leaf is soft.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Question for Mom


How do I pick a ripe watermelon?  - Stephen D. 

Ask the produce manager at the store to pick one for you.  If no manager or knowledgeable staff is available, buy a watermelon that’s already been cut.  The assumption is that whoever in the produce department cut it would only cut a ripe one.  Or, thump various watermelons with your thumb and finger and find one that sounds hollow.  A hollow sound indicates that the watermelon is ripe. 

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Mom Cooking Tip 67


If your recipe calls for a lot of eggs, break them one at a time in a cup and add each egg individually to the mixture.  This way, if an egg is bad (it happens), you won’t ruin what you’re making.

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Mafia and Manicotti


I recently discovered that my Western Pennsylvania hometown was a hotbed of Mafia activity when I was growing up.  I’d heard vague rumors but had no inkling of specifics until I came across a book called “Little Chicago: A History of Organized Crime in New Kensington, Pennsylvania.”

All I can remember is that this small mill town on the Allegheny River

Friday, August 12, 2016

Mom Cooking Tip 66


To make plain rice more colorful, stir 1/2 teaspoon turmeric into 3 cups hot cooked rice before serving. 

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Mom Money-Saving Tip 60


When buying red, yellow or orange bell peppers, look for pre-packaged bags of small peppers.  These bags often are cheaper than buying several full-size bell peppers and will last for more than a week if refrigerated. Slice up a few and add them raw to salads and stir-fries.

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Kippers: What Are They and How Do I Cook Them?

Kedgeree
Kippers are herrings that have been salted and then smoked.  Sometimes you can buy them whole, but usually you will find them sold as boneless filets in cans near the canned tuna, sardines and clams.  They are also available online and might be labeled ‘Kipper Snacks” or “Kippered Herring.”  Canned kippers, which are fully cooked, are modestly priced.


I first discovered kippers when I lived in London.  I became a fan and would buy them whenever I saw them at my local fish stall or grocery store.  Fresh kippers require a quick broiling (2-3 minutes per side) with a little melted butter on top.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Question for Mom


Any suggestions on what to do with an excess of peaches? –Molly R.

How about turning them into a quick dessert?  Spiced Peaches take less than 10 minutes to make.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Do You Have Memories Related to Food?


I was 9 when my future was sealed.  I found a stack of discarded American Home magazines in a neighbor’s trash.  I brought them home to examine them, because until then the only magazine I knew was Reader’s Digest.

American Home, which merged with Redbook in 1977, didn’t have a page of jokes, but it was filled with recipes and accompanying pictures. I don’t think I’d ever seen a real recipe before since I didn’t pay attention to what my mother did when she disappeared into the kitchen. 

My grandmother also cooked, but whenever I visited her I was more interested in her ice box.  It actually had a big block of ice sitting on the top.  This, of course, was the Dark Ages. I vaguely remember that one day the whole contraption was gone and a shiny new fridge had taken its place.

My grandmother’s repertoire was mostly boiled chicken, boiled vegetables, boiled potatoes and noodle pudding, which I’m pretty sure involved boiled noodles.  I still have one of her big pots, in which I boil my own noodles.

Needless to say, none of the dishes photographed in American Home looked even vaguely familiar to me.  As I clipped out the recipes and stored them in a little wooden box, I was determined that one day I would make them.

A dozen years passed before I opened up that box and picked out a recipe to try.  I can’t remember what it was or how it came out, but it was the beginning of my love of cooking. I still have the box, and a few of those recipes still look appealing.  Also in that box I found my grandmother’s vintage Potato Kugel recipe.  I tried it last night, and it was surprisingly good.


Potato Kugel – serves 4 as a side dish 
2 tablespoons butter 
1 large onion, grated 
2 large eggs 
4 medium potatoes, grated 
1/2 cup flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
2 teaspoons olive or canola oil (divided use) 
Begin heating the oven to 350 degrees. 
Heat the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the grated onion, turn down the heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the onions get very soft and begin to brown. Turn off the heat and set aside. 
Beat the eggs in a large bowl.  Add the grated potatoes and mix so they are well coated.  Add the flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper and mix thoroughly.  Stir in the cooked onions. 
Add 1 teaspoon oil to a 1-quart casserole dish and spread it around the bottom and sides with a paper towel.  Transfer the onion/potato mixture to the casserole.  Drizzle 1 teaspoon oil onto the top and bake, covered, for about 1 hour, or until the edges of the potato kugel begin to get brown and crispy.  Serve immediately.
          For more recipes, order "Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen!"

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mom Cooking Tip 65

Boneless Chicken Thighs Shredded with a Useful Gadget
If you have horribly overcooked some meat or chicken, shred it and serve it in tortillas or soup or add it to a pasta sauce.  Pictured above is the Schneidroller in action (see my post about useful gadgets).  It’s a handy device, although for thorough cleaning it needs to go in the dishwasher.

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