Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Mom Cooking Tip 83


When cooking mushrooms, don’t overload the pan.  Mushrooms give off liquid as they cook, so if you want them to brown they need to be in contact with the bottom of the pan.  If they’re not, they will simply give off liquid and shrink.

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

A Dish Worthy of Henry VIII


I have to confess that some years ago I cut down on my meat consumption, favoring fish and poultry.  But some meat dishes I just cannot resist.  One of them is Lamb Shanks.

Most stores don’t carry lamb shanks, so you may have to ask the butcher to order them for you.  I discovered some frozen ones from New Zealand on sale last week for $2.99 a pound.  Three lamb shanks together weighed more than four pounds.  Once thawed, they looked like weapons, not dinner.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Mom Cooking Tip 82


If a kiwi is too soft to peel, cut it in half and scoop out the insides with a spoon.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Question for Mom


What oil should I use when I’m cooking?  Barbara B.

In a pinch just about any oil, except motor oil, will work.  Some oils--including peanut oil and sesame oil—have very distinctive flavors.  They can add to a dish or overpower it.  

My favorite is extra-virgin olive oil, partly because I cook a lot of Mediterranean-style dishes and partly because I have become accustomed to the flavor.  Extra-virgin olive oil costs more than plain or light olive oil. Millions of words have been written about the various properties of olive oil—much more than I want to know about.  So here’s my take.

I use extra-virgin olive oil in most of my cooking.  However, if I'm seeking a bland oil, I’ll choose canola oil or corn oil.  And I’ll add a teaspoon of sesame oil when an Asian recipe calls for it.  Other than that, I just want to get on with the cooking.

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Mom Cooking Tip 81


Want to make sure your green vegetables stay bright green after cooking?  Add them to boiling water and don’t over-cook them.  Five minutes should be enough time to cook any green vegetable.

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Mom Money-Saving Tip 67


Why boil water twice? When you’re cooking pasta, prepare hard-boiled eggs at the same time. The eggs need to be in boiling water for at least 10 minutes, and many noodles need to cook for at least that long.

If the noodles have a shorter cooking time, add the uncooked eggs to the water when you start heating it. Add the pasta when the water comes to a boil.

If the pasta requires much longer cooking, remove the eggs after 10-12 minutes.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I Can Make That Too: Spicy Potato Spread in Mom’s Kitchen vs. the Restaurant Version

Chef Hannes Spicy Potato Spread
One of my favorite local restaurants in Southern California is Chef Hannes in El Segundo, not far from the Los Angeles Airport.  When you arrive for lunch or dinner, the first dish that lands on your table is a complimentary bowl of thick green spread accompanied by slices of French bread.

I wasn’t sure what I was eating, but I knew that I liked it.  I hinted to the owner, who sometimes also serves as the waiter, that I would like the recipe. All I got were two clues: garlic and potatoes.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mom Cooking Tip 80


When preparing fresh broccoli, don’t discard the long stalks.  Peel them, slice them into 1/4-inch coins and cook them along with the florets.

Unpeeled Stem

Peeled Stem
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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Roast Chicken Leftovers – How Do I Love Thee!

Basic Chicken Salad
Let me count the ways. 

If you like the burn of red pepper flakes, add Chicken Arrabiata to your menu.  A spicy tomato sauce with small pieces of leftover chicken, thin strips of salami and sliced mushrooms make a perfect topping on a bed of penne.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Mom Cooking Tip 79


Dull knife? Try cutting with the widest part of the blade, which is near the handle and thus apt to be sharper because it’s used less.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Question for Mom

If I want to make Baked Potatoes, which call for a 400-degree oven for 1 hour, and Chicken Strips, which need to be baked at 475 degrees for 10 minutes, what can I do so they’re both ready to eat at the same time?  George J.

Baked potatoes are flexible.  About 55 minutes before you plan to serve dinner, start baking the potatoes at 400 degrees.  Forty minutes later, turn up the oven temperature to 475 degrees.  When the oven reaches this higher temperature, start baking the Chicken Strips.  After 10 minutes, remove both foods.  The extra heat at the end will finish cooking the potatoes.

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Mom Money-Saving Tip 66

Stale French bread makes wonderful fresh breadcrumbs. Two small slices make about 1/4 cup. Use a food processor to chop the bread into small pieces.

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Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Glamorous Potato


Normally I would never link the two words “glamorous” and “potato.”  “Filling,” “comfort food,” “humble,” “inexpensive” or “traditional” are the words I usually think of when the subject of potatoes comes up.  

But that was before I saw and then sampled my friend Dorothy’s Roasted and Sliced Potatoes. They called to mind sophisticated dining—not an arena in which I often find myself.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Mom Money-Saving Tip 65


Use up leftover cooked vegetables or small bits of cheese or cream cheese in Quiche.  Here’s an easy Quiche recipe that effectively uses up half an 8-ounce package of cream cheese.  It can also absorb a cup of leftover cooked vegetables.
Spinach Quiche – serves 4 (adapted from “Help! My Apartment Has a Dining Room”)  
4 ounces cream cheese 
1 baked pie crust – see here  
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach 
2 scallions 
3 large eggs 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1 cup leftover cooked vegetables, chopped into small pieces (optional) 
Take the cream cheese out of the fridge so that it will begin to soften. 
Prepare and bake the pie crust. 
Cook the spinach according to the package’s directions (about 6 minutes).  Drain and set aside. 
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 
Wash the scallions.  Cut off the root tip and last 2 inches of the green parts and discard.  Cut the remaining white and green parts into 1/4-inch pieces. 
To make the filling, beat the eggs in a large bowl.  Add the cream cheese, spinach, scallion pieces, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Mix thoroughly, making sure there are no large lumps of cream cheese.  If you want to add some leftover cooked vegetables, do it now, stirring them into the mixture. 
Pour the mixture into the pie crust and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is firm.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-to-10 minutes before serving.
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