Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Years ago I used to eat breakfast at a diner just outside New Orleans. Most times I would get a breakfast sausage patty with my meal and I always enjoyed using those little jellies on the meat. Recently I got to thinking about fruits and meats cooked together when I made a piccadillo and added the obligatory raisins. Well, a lot of situations call for fruits and they make a valid contribution. You eat cranberry sauce with Thanksgiving turkey, right? There are lots of examples of fruits used for dinner foods. Not just duck a l’ orange, but applesauce with pork chops, just to name a few.

Thirty years ago, Jinx Morgan wrote an article in Bon Appétit magazine about meats with fruit. The photos were very beautiful (by D.E. Wolfe), and the first one I tried got me hooked. It was called mandarin teriyaki. Others were pork chops with cherries and peach glazed leg of lamb and a few others. They were all excellent recipes.

Since then I haven’t seen a lot of new fruit/meat combinations, which is a shame. I am going to try a meatloaf made with horseradish and chopped apples soon. I think meats with fruit should be more popular.

In the meanwhile, here is that mandarin teriyaki recipe, which serves 4-6.

½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup sherry
2 tablespoons oil
4 thin slices peeled fresh ginger. Or in a pinch, ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
1 crushed garlic clove
2 pounds (900 Grams) flank steak, cut into ½ inch strips

2 tablespoons oil

1 small onion, sliced
1 green pepper (bell pepper), cut into ½ inch strips
¾ cup pineapple juice

2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 cups canned mandarin orange slices, drained

1 Combine the first five ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add beef and marinate for 2 hours, stirring several times. Remove beef and pat dry with paper towels. Discard fresh ginger, reserve marinade.
2 Heat one tablespoon of oil in wok or skillet and brown half the meat. Remove to warm dish. Heat second tablespoon and brown remaining beef. Remove to the warm dish and pour the ½ cup marinade around it, reserving the rest.
3 Place onion, green pepper and pineapple juice in the wok now and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes.
4 Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine reserved marinade with the cornstarch, stirring till thickened. Do not boil. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the vegetables. Throw in the beef and orange slices and cook just till heated. Serve over steamed rice.

Monday, August 30, 2010


I’ve always enjoyed Italian food, especially pasta. Even small unassuming restaurants with candle-topped old Chianti bottles on red checkered tablecloths have pleased me. I love the aromas. The parmesan cheese, the Mediterranean herbs and the fragrant sauces all arouse the appetite. And I love the music, whether it’s opera or simple mandolin music. But most of all I love the food.

Italian pasta dishes are revered for their bright, sunny richness and imaginative flair. Considering that there are hundreds of pasta shapes in use, imagination has really worked, because most people will tell you that spaghettini tastes different than mostaccioli. Many of these shapes have been paired with specific sauces, thus becoming classic dishes.

An appropriate sauce is generally determined by the shape, and more specifically, the lightness or heaviness of the shape. That’s why thick pasta like rigatoni or ziti pairs well with highly flavored sauces such as ragu Bolognese, while a more delicate sauce suits vermicelli more optimally.

There are four basic Classic Italian pasta sauces.

1. Butter Sauces

The most famous perhaps, would be Fettuccine Alfredo, a popular dish from Rome. Fettuccine is called tagliatelle everywhere else in Italy. Other classic butter sauces would include pancetta (Italian bacon) which can make a lovely spaghetti alla carbonara, and the superb fresh white truffle, called tartufi bianchi.

2. Olive Oil sauces

Coupled with garlic, the simplicity of aglio e olio is well appreciated. Spaghetti with smothered onions and Penne with cauliflower, garlic and oil are also beloved.

3. Tomato Sauces

Three particular tomato sauces fundamental to pasta are perennially popular.

· Butter and tomatoes and carrot. No garlic or olive oil.
· Marinara sauce, primarily employing tomatoes and garlic.
· Ragu Bolognese, which is made with beef and pork, plus the aromatic onion, celery and carrot.

4. Pesto

This incomparable sauce from Genoa makes good use of all that fresh basil
growing in your garden. Basil and olive oil go together like: (your favorite
simile here.)

So immerse yourself in any of these delectable sauces. They will thrill your
soul and delight your taste buds. As my beloved wife says: “Mangia

Saturday, August 28, 2010


When it comes to tailgate parties, super bowl parties, or get-togethers at most any sports bar, Buffalo wings are usually the most ordered item.

Back in the 1960’s when they were introduced; the combination of fried wings with hot sauce and bleu cheese sauce became an instant hit. And of course, since the tavern was in Buffalo, N.Y., they named the chicken wings after the city.

Many people have trouble making Buffalo wings at home Here is how to make great wings successfully, in case you have a big screen TV with HD and want to invite the crowd over to your place.


4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup hot sauce (originally was Frank’s Louisiana Hot Sauce)
Add some of your own personal favorite hot sauce if you like (Tabasco or Habanero perhaps)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

Buffalo wings:
2 quarts of peanut oil
½ teaspoon red pepper, more or less is up to you
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 lbs chicken wings, wingtips removed and remainder separated into 2 parts at the joint. If you’re not sure about this, ask a butcher to show you.

MAKE THE SAUCE: Melt butter in a small pan on low. Beat in everything until combined. Set aside.
MAKE THE WINGS: Heat oven slow (200 degrees F). Put a drain rack on a baking sheet (or paper towels).
Heat about 3 inches of oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat to get to 370 degreesF. A thermometer is great for this, or if you have an electric deep fryer that’s good too.
While the oil is getting hot, blend the peppers, salt and cornstarch in a bowl.
Dry the chicken with towels (important) and put into a big mixing bowl. Sprinkle the spices over the wings and stir and toss until they are evenly coated. Fry half of the wings or less until golden crisp, about 10 minutes. Watch the temperature so it doesn’t get too hot. Depending on the size of your Dutch oven you may have to put less than half in. Don’t crowd the fryer, it will cool the oil down too much and the crisp quality of the chicken will be compromised.
When wings are done, transfer to the drain rack. Place in the slow oven to keep hot while more are frying.
When ready to serve the Buffalo wings, pour the sauce into a large bowl. Throw in the wings and turn until evenly coated.
You can serve a bowl of bottled blue cheese dressing along with the Buffalo wings to temper the heat. This really makes the wings taste great. Additionally, serve celery sticks with it.

Buffalo wings are deservedly popular. The spicy heat, coupled with the tangy blue cheese dressing and the crunch of the celery elevates this dish to praiseworthy status. And, if organized beforehand, you can easily make it yourself.

Friday, August 27, 2010


There are a lot of good uses for sour cream. My Hungarian grandmother used to make a sour cream soup that was delicious, and my beloved spouse loves mushrooms in sour cream. For dessert, you are sure to savor a sour cream pound cake.

Here they are, submitted for your culinary approval.


½ teaspoon caraway seeds
1 ½ quarts chicken stock, reserve a little cold stock for the paste
12 ounces sour cream
1/3 cup of flour
Three slices stale rye bread, cut into croutons
Butter for frying the croutons

· Bring stock to boil, lower heat, toss in the seeds and simmer 15 minutes.
· Stir the sour cream and flour together and add a little cold stock to make a paste.
· Slowly add the paste to the simmering stock and stir until blended.
· Keep stirring until stock thickens.
· Fry the croutons until crisp.
· Serve soup in soup plates or bowls and garnish with croutons.


4 tablespoons butter
11/2 lbs mushrooms, sliced
2 large onions, minced
1 cup beef consommé or broth, save a little to mix with flour
2 tablespoons flour
16 ounces sour cream

· Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet and brown the mushrooms. Remove to a dish.
· Cook the onions in the rest of butter until transparent.
· Add the mushrooms back in, add the broth and simmer.
· Take the reserved broth and mix with the flour.
· Whisk the paste into the skillet until thickened.
· Add the sour cream and simmer for 5 minutes.


1 cup butter
1 cup honey
6 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sour cream
2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit

· Cream the butter and honey in a large mixing bowl.
· Beat in the eggs, one at a time
· Add the extract and sour cream and beat well
· Mix in the flour and baking soda
· Pour the batter into a well greased, flour dusted 9 inch springform pan.
· Bake 1 ½ hours, a knife inserted in center should come up clean.
· Let it cool in the pan 10 minutes before removing, at which time you could frost it if you wish.

A simple frosting of 1 cup honey, 1 cup cream cheese plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond) is nice. Beat all together and use at once. If still not rich enough, add nuts and apply to cake quickly after mixed.

These sour cream excursions are a delight to the taste buds, but perhaps best not all at one sitting. Please enjoy responsibly.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


If you want to make sour cream at home, it is not difficult. All you need is a double boiler, a dairy thermometer, a quart glass canning jar with a sterile cover, one quart of heavy, sweet cream and about 3 tablespoons of cultured starter. You could try omitting the starter, but sour wild bacteria may make the resulting product taste bad. Starter for sour cream can be found at cheese- making supply sources, just be sure the acid level is at least 1% for a crisp clean taste. Always pasteurize the cream before adding the starter.

· Put cold water in the bottom of a double boiler. Pour cream in the top; let the bottom touch the water in the lower vessel. Bring the temperature slowly to about 160 degrees Fahrenheit and maintain for ½ hour.
· Cool the cream as quickly as possible by setting the upper pot in ice-water. Have a second pot of ice-water ready and put the pot in that as soon as the first ice melts.
· Pour half the cream into the sterilized canning jar and add the starter. Mix thoroughly and add the remaining cream to within ¾” of the top. Affix cover and shake vigorously only until mixed. Too much shaking will make butter.
· Put jar in warm (70-80 degrees Fahrenheit), draft free place for about 20 hours. You can wrap a towel around the jar to insulate it.
· Lastly and very important, chill the jar for at least 12 hours.

There you have it. Next time I will talk about tantalizing ways to enjoy sour cream.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Rich, smooth and creamy, with just the right amount of tartness. Yoghurt right? No, I’m talking about sour cream, that delicious condiment many people enjoy on their baked potatoes. But sour cream is much more versatile than that.

My lovely bride is ecstatic about this renowned cultured dairy product eaten with fruit. Sometimes she mixes a little brown sugar in some sour cream and dips fruit in it. Give her blueberry pancakes and she asks for a spoonful of sour cream with it.

Sour cream is easy to make (see Part 2), but today most people purchase it at the market. If you do, make sure it doesn’t contain gelling agents or stabilizers.

While yoghurt is fermented milk, sour cream is fermented cream with high butterfat content, and unlike yoghurt must be re-pasteurized when fermentation is complete. Each uses different bacteria in their making.

Sour cream can be whipped, made into ice-cream, or used in many other ways. It is popular in Viennese and Russian cookery. If you make baked goods such as pancakes or biscuits, you can replace some of the fat with sour cream for an interesting change of flavor.

Next time I will talk about how easy it is to make sour cream, and explain it’s culinary diversity.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


My stepdaughter went to a wedding in New York recently, and while there, she and her family visited New York City. Although she comes from that area, her spouse and children are from northeast Georgia, where they all reside. When they came back, they told us of the sites they had visited,like Central Park and Rockefeller Center. I've been living down south for a few decades now, it was nice to see photos taken of Central park and Radio City. In fact, a couple of photos taken by my teen-aged granddaughter were very artistic, because the angle of view was stunning, showing the height of the building from base to top.
I got to thinking of a street food I used to get all the time when I lived there. So I said, "Did you eat a knish (pronounced kuh nish)while you were there?" They all said "no" like it was no big deal. But my mouth got to watering, and soon I couldn't think of anything else. The next day I went to the market and bought the groceries for it. I have an old Molly Goldberg Jewish cookbook with a knish recipe in it, so I went at it.
A knish is an eastern European savory pastry, brought to America by Jewish immigrants. You could sort of compare it to an empanada. Knishes are usually made with mashed potatoes or Kasha (buckwheat groats).
I baked up a batch of knishes, and I really enjoyed them. My spouse loved them too. Here is the recipe I used from The Molly Goldberg Jewish Cookbook by Gertrude Berg.
6 Tblspns oil
2 onions, chopped
4 cups mashed potatoes
3 eggs
3/4 cup sifted flour
1 tspn salt
1/8 tspn white pepper
2 Tblspns grated onion
Saute the 2 onions in 4 Tablespoons of the oil for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove and cool. Preheat oven to 375F.
Mix the potatoes,eggs,flour,salt,pepper,grated onion and remaining oil. Knead until smooth. Break off pieces and shape into 2 inch sized balls. Make a depression in the center and fill with a teaspoon of the sauteed onions. Cover the filling with the dough. Flatten the balls slightly with your palm. Place on a greased baking sheet, bake for 25 minutes, or until browned.
These were a special feast for me and my wife. You may need more flour when you mix these. Simple ingredient list, succulent treat.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Everyone loves pasta, and why not? You can elevate a box of pasta into a very delicious meal, and do it quickly and simply. Just add a nice salad or soup and some quality bread and you’re done. I see many people in the market purchasing prepared bottled pasta sauces, but that can be very limiting. Forget about it, try these three recipes and you can have pasta more often and it needn’t ever get boring. If you have a pressure cooker, you can boil the pasta water very fast. While it is coming to a boil, you can get the ingredients ready, and complete the sauce before it is done.


1 pound (500 grams) Spaghetti or any pasta shape you prefer
1 clove of garlic
½ cup (4 oz, 150 ml) smoked almonds
1 small bunch of fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
¼ cup (2oz, 75ml) best quality olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil a big pot of water, add a little salt, stir in pasta, cook for about 9-10 minutes or as package directs.

Meanwhile, chop garlic, almonds and basil finely. Transfer this mixture to a serving bowl and stir in the oil, cheese, salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta, toss into the bowl, stir thoroughly and serve.

Many people grow string beans, and if you do or just plain like them, you will want to try this dish:

Lemon Garlic Ziti with Green Bean Sauce Serves 4

1 pound (500g) Ziti (Penne would be good too).
1 pound green beans, trimmed
3 tablespoons (1oz, 40ml) best quality olive oil
1 medium-size onion, chopped
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Boil a big pot of water, add a little salt, stir in ziti, cook for about 9-10 minutes or as package directs. But three minutes before done, add the green beans to the water

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in big skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook about 2 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, the garlic and cook for half a minute. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest

Drain the ziti and green beans. Stir them thoroughly with the sauce in a serving bowl.

Lastly, here is a sophisticated wine and cheese sauce that can be quickly made. Select a cheese you are fond of, such as: Edam, Gouda, Muenster, Gruyere, Bel Paese or Monterrey Jack.

Cheese Sauce Serves 4

1 pound (500g) fettuccine
6 oz (200g) cheese, rind removed, shredded or finely chopped
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons best quality olive oil
½ medium onion, chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups of dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Boil a big pot of water. Add salt and fettuccine, stir and boil for 9-10 minutes, or as package directs.

Meanwhile, combine cheese and cornstarch and set aside. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cayenne and stir. Add the wine and boil for 1 minute. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

A minute before the fettuccine is finished cooking, bring the sauce back to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the cheese and whisk until the sauce is smooth.

Drain the fettuccine and toss in a serving bowl with the sauce and parsley.

Try these delicious recipes. They are easy and sure to please.



Years ago I used to visit Juarez Mexico, and always enjoyed the street vendor tamales. Later on, I remembered eating those tamales on the street, with Mariachi music pouring forth from a nearby tavern and enjoying the excellent Mexican beers (Cruz Blanca, or Carta Blanca). So, one time I bought a can of tamales and put it in my cupboard. One night I took it out, removed the wrappers and mixed it with a can of corn kernels, some sautéed onion and green pepper, and mixed in a little bottled salsa and some oregano. The whole family really liked it. When you need a quick meal it’s very easy. And of course, you can tweak it as you choose.

Recently a friend said,” I always have a couple cans of Tamales on hand. It is great for breakfast.” Here’s a recipe which is convenient for holiday mornings, because it’s like a casserole.


1 15oz can of tamales
8 eggs
Splash of milk (2 tablespoons) or water
Dash of salt and chile powder
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
Small can of diced tomatoes with chilies
2-3 tablespoons minced onion
5 oz (about a full cup) shredded Monterey Jack or Fontina cheese

· Preheat oven to 350 F, or use microwave
· Drain tamales, reserving the sauce from the can. Remove the wrappers.
· Place tamales in one layer in a baking dish (10by6 inch or 8by8)
· Cover with sauce (you may not need all of it) and bake 10 minutes to just heat it. When finished, remove from oven, shut oven and turn on broiler. ( You can skip the oven and do this in a microwave with an appropriate dish)
· Beat eggs, milk and salt in a bowl and set aside.
· Melt butter in large skillet over medium flame. Add tomato, chilies and onion. Cook till heated and add egg mixture. Stir gently until just barely set.
· Spoon the eggs over the tamales and sprinkle on the cheese.
· Broil 4 inches beneath heat briefly, until cheese melts.
Serves 4 or more.

You can adjust for 2 servings or even just one, but give it a try, ‘cause it’s good.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Today I will share with you some useful lunchtime suggestions to help slow down fat storage.

· One 12 ounce soda pop has 10 teaspoons of sugar in it. Nowadays it is not cane sugar, of which too much would be cloying, but corn sugar, which allows you to drink 32ounces as if it were water. I’m not sure about artificial sweeteners either; I think the jury is still out on their insulin- stimulating status. A better beverage would be a mineral water or skim milk.

· Put aside potato chips and other high fat salty chips, you don’t need the impending bloat in the middle of the day. If absolutely necessary, eat whole-grain crackers or baked tortilla chips.

· Soup can be a great weight-loss food to have, but not fat laden cream soups. Soups as a first course can be appetite suppressing, if they are broth and vegetable types, not cream-based.

· Salad bars can be great if you avoid the hazardous items many people put on them. Fresh greens are wonderful along with fresh vegetables, but go real easy on the dressings. A little lemon juice and a teaspoon of oil is enough for a salad. Even if you go back again for a second helping.

· Be dairy diligent because cheeses’ fat adds up. Watch out for sandwich fillings and spreads. Mayo has 11 grams of fat in a tablespoon. That combined with bread leads to fat storage.

· I like to make hamburgers, but am careful not to have one very often. I can eat one with a knife and fork, but most folks use a bun. To have a hamburger sandwich every day can be a problem.

. We love pizza, I make it frequently. But to me, the crust is important. I don’t go crazy with the cheese (usually Asiago and/or Provolone). The simple “Margherita” style is still the best. I portion Parmesan like I would a salt shaker, just a moderate sprinkle. Pepperoni particularly puts plenty of fat atop the crust, less would be more suitable.

· French-fried potatoes are like hamburger sandwiches, that combination of fat and carbohydrate. Best to enjoy them infrequently and if you do, you will really relish them.

· A great dessert would be something like fruit and cheese. Apples are easy to eat and the health benefits are enormous (the pectin alone for your skin is terrific). A small amount of cheese, if it is the only cheese eaten that day, won’t kill you or your diet. Yoghurt (unsweetened) and fruit is good too.

Eating should be an enjoyable, unrushed pleasure. If you can’t eliminate fat storing foods, please limit them. What’s that old saying? Everything in moderation. Yes, for a more abundant life.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I am not a fat-phobic person, and neither is my spouse, the Education Tipster. But it is difficult to avoid eating a lot of fat, which is twice as caloric as carbohydrate or protein. For that reason we try to avoid using too much lard or bacon fat. Fat alone is not so much of a problem. Added sugars are. Not just soft drinks, but sugary foods too. The high-glycemic foods like white- flour baked goods plus the fats are what are really dangerous because the “sugars” bring on the insulin which stores the fat. The fat by itself is practically neutral (except for the calories) and only becomes problematic when consumed with carbohydrates.

Many people must eat out during the day, and I appeal to them to be careful of their dietary choices. Tomorrow I will share with you some useful lunchtime suggestions to help slow down fat storage.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


We are trying to eat more vegetables at my house, but of course they have to taste good. We love Chinese food and stir-fries are always popular. Recently I have been cooking southern Indian dishes, and decided to fuse some left-over coconut milk into a traditional Chinese stir fry. It was well liked by all who ate it. I think you will like it too.

Curry Stir Fry

2 teaspoons coconut oil, or light olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 cup halved or sliced mushrooms
1 bag of frozen broccoli, cauliflower and carrots
1 cup of sugar snap peas
Dash of oriental sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water


½ cup, or more, coconut milk
Splash of soy sauce (2 tablespoons)
½ teaspoon of curry powder
1 ½ tablespoon of brown sugar, or molasses

Blanche the broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots until they are crisp-tender. Rinse in ice-water, then drain. Combine curry sauce. Heat skillet, add oil, fry onions and bell pepper 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and stir one minute. Add blanched vegetables, snap peas and mix. Stir in sauce, simmer a minute. Stir cornstarch into cold water and add to skillet. Stir 10 seconds. Add sesame oil, mix. Serve with steamed rice or noodles. Serves 2-4 persons.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sour Beer Makes Sauerkraut

One of my homebrew club buddies made a bad batch of beer once, and while he was busy crying in it, I recalled what I did when that happened to me. Talk about taking lemons and making lemonade. I used to cook sauerkraut with a bottle of homemade beer, and, not wanting to waste a four gallon batch of what ended up being beer vinegar, I decided to try using it instead of my good stuff. It came out really well. I actually do not like cabbage, except in two instances; coleslaw and sauerkraut. Otherwise cabbage to me is very unappealing. I was working on a boat in the gulf one time, and the cook they hired was more a baker than a cook. He cooked a large pot of cabbage and the whole vessel stunk like crazy for hours. Everyone complained, but fortunately his baking skills endeared him. His breads, biscuits and cakes and cookies were always welcome. I told him, next time you boil cabbage (if you must); cook it in an open pot. For the several months I was with him, he never even used cabbage again. But fermented cabbage made into sauerkraut is very healthful and can be a hearty meal. Here is how I like to make it.

2 Tablespoons bacon fat, lard or oil
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1 large jar of refrigerated sauerkraut, drained
½ cup (or more) diced sausage or a mixture of diced pork loin, frankfurters and sausage
1 cup Ale, Beer, or even white wine (but beer is better I think)
¼ to ½ teaspoon caraway seeds
Heavy pinch of black pepper
Pinch of brown sugar

Melt the fat in a large skillet or Dutch oven (I use cast iron ones). Over medium heat add the onion and stir for about a half minute or so. Add everything else and cook, covered, stirring occasionally until it is almost dry. It should be moist but not soupy. If using pork, be sure it is cooked through. I like to use a malty brew, but whatever your choice might be, use that. Serves 4.

If you don’t think you like sauerkraut, try this once. I don’t like cabbage, but I love this. You just might too.
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