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My Recipes-of-the-Week are featured here on my Home page. You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. "We are all in this food world together." ~Melanie

02/22/2018

~ Japanese Teriyaki Meets American Chicken Wings ~

IMG_4956Chicken wings are all-American and teriyaki is an all-Japanese method of cooking.  Trust me when I tell you, if you walk into a restaurant in Japan, you aren't likely to find teriyaki chicken wings on their menu.  That said, Japanese teriyaki sure does turn out a really good version of American chicken wings, however, unlike our traditionally-prepared wings, which are typically plunged into the hot oil of a deep fryer, teriyaki wings, in order to render their signature fall-off-the-bone tender interior with a slightly-crispy, sticky exterior, they require a kinder, gentler treatment. 

As a lover of Asian fare, teriyaki-in-general is one of my favorite ways to cook.  Teriyaki is as well known outside of Japan as sushi or ramen is, so, most American people, kids included, will give "teriyaki anything" a try.  A bottle of teriyaki sauce has been a staple condiment in my pantry for as long as I've had a pantry, standing right next to the elites:  Heinz ketchup, French's mustard, Hellman's mayonnaise and Lee & Perrin's worcestershire sauce.  That said, teriyaki sauce is seriously simple to make, and, it can be customized to suit your family's taste.  I typically prepare a double- or triple-sized batch, then keep what I don’t use in the refrigerator, so it's ready to reheat the next time a "teriyaki anything" craving hits me or mine -- as often as once a week.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09f3cb15970dTeriyaki (tehr-uh-yah-kee):  Teriyaki is a Japanese term referring to a method of cooking beef, chicken, fish or seafood marinated (in a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, sugar, garlic and/or ginger) prior to being grilled, broiled or stir-fried. "Teri" is the Japanese word for "luster", and it is the sugar in the marinade that gives the food its "teri" or shiny glaze.  It's interesting to note that in Japan, there is no official teriyaki sauce.  Teriyaki sauce was invented by the early Japanese settlers to the islands of Hawaii.  They created:

A slightly-sweet nicely-thickened marinade/basting sauce using local, readily-available, easy-to-acquire Hawaiian products.  For example: pineapple juice (in place of the mirin or sake of their homeland) and wild garlic (in conjuction with ginger they brought with them), mixed with soy sauce and thickened with cornstarch.  The subject at hand (beef, chicken, fish or seafood) is marinated for a minimum of 30 minutes, longer for a more pronounced flavor, then cooled.

IMG_4945Because teriyaki sauce is sweet, a portion of the marinade is typically reserved to use as a dipping sauce served w/the dish.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09f3cd81970dFor the teriyaki sauce:

1/2  cup tamari soy sauce or soy sauce

1/2  cup mirin (a cooking wine made from rice) or sake (sometimes thought of as beer because it's made from grain, but classified as a wine)

1/4 cup white or brown sugar or honey

1  tablespoon each: garlic and ginger garlic paste

4  teaspoons cornstarch or potato starch

4  teaspoons cold water

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2dade8b970cStep 1.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cold water and cornstarch until smooth.

Step 2.  In a 1-quart saucepan, stir together the tamari or soy sauce, mirin or sake, and, white or brown sugar or honey.  Add the garlic and ginger. Bring to a steady simmer over medium heat and cook about 1 minute.  Whisk cornstarch mixture into the sauce and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is drizzly but slightly-thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and use as directed in recipe.

To use as a marinade:  Cool teriyaki sauce to room temperature, or chill, prior to using as a marinade.  Keep any unused marinade, the stuff not used as a marinade for raw protein, stored in a tightly-covered container in the refrigerator for several weeks.  Any marinade used as a marinade must be reheated and simmered for 3-5 minutes prior to refrigerating and reusing.

Arrange 16-20 drumettes &/or wingettes in an 8" x 8" baking dish (save those flavorful wing tips for making chicken stock):

IMG_4899Add cooled teriyaki sauce & marinate at room temp 2-4 hours, or, overnight in the refrigerator, then return to room temperature:

IMG_4905Place in 325° oven for 2 hours, stirring every 20-30 minutes -- yes, the wings will slowly & gently simmer in & suck up flavor:

IMG_4910Remove from oven & reset oven to broil w/rack 5"-6" under heat:

IMG_4918Using tongs, remove wings from marinade, allowing excess liquid to drizzle off & place on a baking pan lined w/foil & parchment:

IMG_4921Broil until bubbly & charring, turning once, 3 minutes per side.  Allow wings to rest, on pan, for 4-6 minutes -- just do it.

IMG_4930Serve w/a bowl of the the super-flavorful warm marinade remaining in baking dish for dipping &/or drizzling:

IMG_4964Perfectly-cooked & simply delish:

IMG_4969Japanese Teriyaki Meets American Chicken Wings:  Recipe yields 1 1/2 cups teriyaki sauce and 16-20 chicken wings.

Special Equipment List: 1-quart saucepan; whisk; poultry shears; 8" x 8" x 2" baking dish; 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pan; aluminum foil; parchment paper; tongs

IMG_3870 IMG_4890Cook's Note:  While related by sauce, when it comes cooking anything teriyaki-style, depending on what it is, each food gets treated and cooked a bit differently.  Two examples are my recipes for ~ Open Sesame:  Japanese Teriyaki Steak Skewers ~, and, ~ Japanese-Style Oven-Broiled Teriyaki-Style Cod Fish ~. 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)

02/20/2018

~Japanese-Style Oven-Broiled Teriyaki-Style Cod Fish~

IMG_4896Eat more fish.  I've heard it too many times to count, and, I've preached it too many times to count.  Joe and I love fish, especially white fish, so, for me, keeping it in our weekly meal rotation is easy.  That said, serving it to people who've determined they dislike fish, or worse, trying to entice children to try fish, can be a tricky, fishy business.  On such occasions, teriyaki fish fillets or fish skewers, served with a veggie stir-fry and some rice, is my go-to "just try it" fish dinner.

As a lover of Asian fare, teriyaki-in-general is one of my favorite ways to cook.  Teriyaki is as well known outside of Japan as sushi or ramen is, so, most American people, kids included, will give "teriyaki anything" a try.  A bottle of teriyaki sauce has been a staple condiment in my pantry for as long as I've had a pantry, standing right next to the elites:  Heinz ketchup, French's mustard, Hellman's mayonnaise and Lee & Perrin's worcestershire sauce.  That said, teriyaki sauce is seriously simple to make, and, it can be customized to suit your family's taste.  I typically prepare a double- or triple-sized batch, then keep what I don’t use in the refrigerator, so it's ready to reheat the next time a "teriyaki anything" craving hits me or mine -- as often as once a week.

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c94a9feb970bTeriyaki (tehr-uh-yah-kee):  Teriyaki is a Japanese term referring to a method of cooking beef, chicken, fish or seafood marinated (in a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, sugar, garlic and/or ginger) prior to being grilled, broiled or stir-fried. "Teri" is the Japanese word for "luster", and it is the sugar in the marinade that gives the food its "teri" or shiny glaze.  It's interesting to note that in Japan, there is no official teriyaki sauce.  Teriyaki sauce was invented by the early Japanese settlers to the islands of Hawaii.  They created:

A slightly-sweet nicely-thickened marinade/basting sauce using local, readily-available, easy-to-acquire Hawaiian products.  For example: pineapple juice (in place of the mirin or sake of their homeland) and wild garlic (in conjuction with ginger they brought with them), mixed with soy sauce and thickened with cornstarch.  The subject at hand (beef, chicken, fish or seafood) is marinated for a minimum of 30 minutes, longer for a more pronounced flavor, then cooled.

IMG_4883Because teriyaki sauce is sweet, a portion of the marinade is typically reserved to use as a dipping sauce served w/the dish.

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2d4eeed970cFor the teriyaki sauce:

1/2  cup tamari soy sauce or soy sauce

1/2  cup mirin (a cooking wine made from rice) or sake (sometimes thought of as beer because it's made from grain, but classified as a wine)

1/4 cup white or brown sugar or honey

1  tablespoon each: garlic and ginger garlic paste

4  teaspoons cornstarch or potato starch

4  teaspoons cold water

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c94aa195970bStep 1.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cold water and cornstarch until smooth.

Step 2.  In a 1-quart saucepan, stir together the tamari or soy sauce, mirin or sake, and, white or brown sugar or honey.  Add the garlic and ginger. Bring to a steady simmer over medium heat and cook about 1 minute.  Whisk cornstarch mixture into the sauce and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is drizzly but slightly-thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and use as directed in recipe.

To use as a marinade:  Cool teriyaki sauce to room temperature, or chill, prior to using as a marinade.  Keep any unused marinade, the stuff not used as a marinade for raw protein, stored in a tightly-covered container in the refrigerator for several weeks.  Any marinade used as a marinade must be reheated and simmered for 3-5 minutes prior to refrigerating and reusing.

IMG_4871For the cod fish skewers:

1 1/2  cups teriyaki sauce, from above recipe, to be used to marinating fish, and, to be reheated after marinating the fish, to use as dipping sauce

1-1 1/4- pound cod fish fillet, cut into 1" cubes

8  8"-long wooden skewers

lightly-toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

IMG_4854~Step 1.  Place the cod fish fillet, flat, on a a sheet of plastic wrap.  As best you can, fashion it into a rectangle (tucking the thin ends underneath on either side), then wrap it tightly, so it holds that rectangular shape. Place the fish fillet, flat, in the freezer for 1 1/2-2 hours, just long enough to firm it up or semi-freeze it, which will make it seriously easier to cube.

IMG_4857 IMG_4857 IMG_4857 IMG_4857~Step 2. Remove the cod from the freezer, unwrap it, and, using a large chef's knife, cut it into 1" cubes, placing the cubes, in a single layer, in an 8" x 8" x 2" baking dish as you work.  Add the teriyaki sauce.  Place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for 1-2 hours (2 is better).  

IMG_4867 IMG_4867 IMG_4872 IMG_4872 IMG_4872 IMG_4872~Step 3.  Line a 17 1/2" x 2" baking pan with aluminum foil then place a piece of parchment atop the foil.  One-at-a-time, thread 4-5 cubes of fish through their centers onto each of 8, 10" long wooden skewers, to within 3" of the top of each skewer  (which will serve as handles when it's time to flip the fish skewers over), arranging the skewers, in a single layer, about 1/2" apart (they should not be touching each other) on the pan. Place the pan of fish skewers 5"-6" under preheated broiler.  Cook until gently sizzling, lightly golden and nicely-firm to the touch, turning only once, about 7-8 minutes on the first side and 5-6 minutes on the second side (give or take a minute or two depending upon the heat of your broiler.

Note:  I don't recommend using a grill pan for fish.  Experience has taught: unlike grilling meat, chicken or seafood, no matter how much no-stick spray I apply to the grill pan, fish wants to stick. 

IMG_3787 IMG_3787~Step 4.  When the fish is finished marinating, pour the marinade from the baking dish into a 1-1 1/2-quart saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat and continue to simmer gently for 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Plate, garnish & serve ASAP atop a bed of steamed white rice...

IMG_4890... w/a veggie stir-fry & teriyaki sauce to the side for dipping. 

Japanese-Style Oven-Broiled Teriyaki-Style Cod Fish:  Recipe yields 1 1/2 cups teriyaki sauce, and, 4 servings when served with stir-fried vegetable and steamed white rice.

Special Equipment List:  plastic wrap; cutting board; chef's knife; 8" x 8" x 2" baking dish; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; aluminum foil; parchment paper; 8, 10" wooden skewers

IMG_3837Cook's Note:  Place a platter of these appetizers on the cocktail table and I'll bet they disappear before bets can be taken on how long it will take them to disappear. Put a platter of them on the dinner table alongside a fresh vegetable stir-fry and some steamed white rice, and, when served as a family-friendly dinner, they won't last any longer either.  My recipe for ~ Open Sesame:  Japanese Teriyaki Steak Skewers ~, is a keeper-of-a-recipe you and yours are sure to love.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)

02/18/2018

~Moist & Juicy Breaded & Deep-Fried Chicken Cutlets~

IMG_4757Breaded chicken cutlets are a big time-saver for a working parent.  By keeping a bag on-hand in the freezer, after a quick thaw in the microwave, any number of kid-friendly meals can be put on the family dinner table in less than an hour.  That said, the chicken cutlets found in the frozen-food section of the grocery store, are, for the most part:  terrible.  From way-too-much-cardboard-esque-breading to skinny, dried-out and rubberlike, I find them reprehensibly unpalatable.  

When I was raising three boys, after trying two (maybe three) brands of frozen, breaded chicken cutlets, and proceeding to throw all the remains away, they were added to my list of store-bought items I simply refused to buy for my kids.  Trust me, when it comes to kids, when you put your foot down to time-saving junk like the USA's favorite brand of boxed macaroni and cheese, all-things that help hamburger, and, chicken cutlets, you'd better have a show-stopping alternative.

Tenderize the most tender part of the chicken:

IMG_4676 IMG_4676 IMG_4676For about $14-$15 at a any of my local markets, I can purchase a "value pack" of 6-pounds chicken breast tenderloins, It contains approximately 3o tenderloins, which when breaded and deep-fried, are good-sized cutlets -- one or per two person.  When I get them home, I arrange them side-by-side, on a large cutting board, between two sheets of plastic wrap.  Using the flat-side of a meat mallet, I lightly-pound them, with "lightly" being the key word here -- do not smash them to smithereens.   Start-to-finish, this process takes less than five minutes and renders them fork tender.

Set up the deep-frying assembly line (left to right):

IMG_4687Chicken tenderloins, prepped as directed above.

One 8" x 8" x 2" dish containing 2 cups dry pancake mix.

One loaf-pan containing 2 1/2 cups pancake mix whisked with 22 ounces beer (Note:  Beer lends wonderful flavor with yeasty undertones to the breading.  That said, if I can't convince you that the heat of the deep-fryer will evaporate all the alcohol, feel free to substitute club soda.)

One 8" x 8" x 2" dish containing 2, 8-ounces boxes panko breadcrumbs.

Deep-fryer w/corn or peanut oil heated to 360° according to manufacturer's specifications.

Misc:  forks, 3-minute timer, wire cooling rack, paper towels, sea salt grinder.

IMG_4709~ Step 1.  When everything is measured and in place, whisk together the pancake mix and beer (or club soda). Set aside for about 5 minutes before starting the frying process. This will give the batter time to thicken a bit, to a drizzly consistency.  If at any point during the frying process (even at the outset) if the batter seems or gets too thick, whisk in a little more beer (or club soda) to maintain a very drizzly consistency.

IMG_4685~ Step 2.  This step is actually optional, so skip it if you like.  When it comes to chicken cutlets, I prefer the texture of my panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs) to be less coarse.  To make that happen:

Place panko in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Using a series of 50-60 rapid on-off pulses, process these super-crispy breadcrumbs to finer crumbs.

Fry Baby Fry -- It's all about Fearless Frying:

IMG_4718 IMG_4718 IMG_4718 IMG_4718 IMG_4718~Step 1.  Working in batches of 2 cutlets at a time, dredge each paid in the dry pancake mix to coat it on all sides.  Note:  I fry 2 at a time because that is what fits comfortably in the basket of my fryer without overcrowding it.  Next, move up the assembly line, and, one-at-a-time dip each cutlet into the batter.  As you lift each one out of the batter, hold it over the bowl for a second or two, to allow the batter to drizzle back into the bowl.  As you batter dip each cutout, place it into the dish of panko. Dredge both of the cutlets in the panko ASAP.

IMG_4735 IMG_4735Step 2.  One-at-a-time, and with the aid of a fork, carefully lower the pair of breaded cutlets down into the 360° oil and into the fryer basket.  Close the lid and allow cutlets to deep-fry for 3 1/2-4 minutes.  Chicken cutlets will be a beautiful golden brown and just cooked through.  Do not overcook -- residual heat will continue to cook them.

IMG_4743Step 3.  Open fryer lid and slowly lift basket up and out of deep-fryer.  Transfer cutlets to a wire rack in a baking pan that has been lined with paper towels.  Tip:  To transfer the cutlets, simply tilt the basket onto its side directly over the rack.  Using tongs is a mistake -- an easy way to damage their crust.  Once out of the fryer, immediately sprinkle cutlets with freshly ground sea salt and repeat this process until all cutlets are breaded and fried.

IMG_4757~ Step 4.  Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, as directed in specific recipe.  To freeze, place completely cooled cutlets on a large baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper.  Freeze, uncovered, several hours to overnight (overnight is best). Transfer frozen cutlets to a ziplock bag.  When needed, thaw and reheat room temperature cutlets in a 350° oven until just heated through, about 10 minutes.

Slice & add to a favorite main-dish salad in lieu of croutons:

IMG_4808Serve Asian-style w/a veggie stir-fry, white rice & dipping sauce:

IMG_4793And please pass the lightly-sauced-pasta w/cheesy parmigiana:

IMG_4766Moist & Juicy Breaded & Deep-Fried Chicken Cutlets:  Recipe yields instructions to batter-dip, bread, deep-fry and freeze chicken cutlets.

Special Equipment List:  large cutting board; plastic wrap; flat-sided meat mallet; 2, 8" x 8" x 2" baking dishes; 1, 9" x 5" x 4" loaf-type baking dish; whisk; forks; 3-minute timer; wire cooling rack; paper towels

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d25243da970c 6a0120a8551282970b0192ac404b1a970dCook's Note: Batter dipping works great for other meats and vegetables too.  During the Summer zucchini onslaught, try making my ~ Batter-Dipped Panko-Crusted Deep-Fried Zucchini ~, and, in the Fall, my ~ Deep-Fried Pork Fingers w/Bone Suckin' Sauce ~ are a delightful alternative to ribs for a tailgate in front of the TV.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)

02/16/2018

~ Warm and Cozy Crockpot Casserole Rice Pudding ~

IMG_4654Hear me out -- rice pudding made in the crockpot or slow cooker is never, EVER going to be competitive in a contest with the super-creamy-textured stovetop-cooked rice pudding made with Arborio-type rice simmered in a custard-esque cream and tempered-egg mixture.  It won't happen and ignore those who promise it will -- but, don't let this information lower your expectations.  Rice pudding made in the crockpot is simply scrumptious, and, seriously easy to make too, so:

On the days when the machinations of hovering over rice pudding made on the stovetop is just too much fuss...

IMG_4642... simply allow the crockpot to do the work for you.

IMG_45861  cup fragrant jasmine rice, or long-grain white rice

1  cup dark raisins

1  cup sugar

5  cups half-and-half, plus up to 1/2 cup additional cream, if desired

1  tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1  tablespoon butter-rum flavoring

1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

4  tablespoons salted butter, melted

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing crock casserole

IMG_4630 IMG_4630 IMG_4630 IMG_4630~Step 1.  In a fine mesh strainer, thoroughly rinse the rice under cold running water for one full minute, gently shaking the strainer as you rinse to make sure all the grains get rinsed and drained.  Spray the inside (bottom and sides) of crock casserole with no-stick spray.  Add the rinsed rice, raisins, sugar, half-and-half, vanilla extract, butter-rum flavoring, cinnamon and salt to the crock.  Using a large spoon, give the mixture a gentle but thorough stir.

IMG_4600 IMG_4600 IMG_4600 IMG_4600 IMG_4636 IMG_4636~Step 2.  In microwave, melt the butter and drizzle it over the top of the rice mixture.  Do not stir. Place the lid on the crock, adjust heat to high and cook for 3 hours.  Turn the crockpot off, and allow the mixture to steep for 1 more hour, to allow rice to absorb excess moisture.  Give the mixture a stir.  If you want it a bit creamier, stir in up to 1/2 cup additional half-and-half.  Serve warm or at room temp.  Reheat individual portions gently in the microwave along with a splash of additional half-and-half stirred into each one (if desired).

Curl up on the sofa w/a good book or a great movie...

IMG_4658... & 4 hours later, enjoy a bowl of warm & cozy happiness:

IMG_4664Warm and Cozy Crockpot Casserole Rice Pudding:  Recipe yields 6 cups.

Special Equipment List:  fine mesh strainer; Crockpot casserole or another 3 1/2-4-quart slow-cooker; 1-quart measuring container; 1-cup measuring container; large spoon

6a0120a8551282970b017d42943ffe970c-800wiCook's Note:  ~ My Creamy, Orange-Kissed Arborio Rice Pudding ~.  Technically, while rice pudding is not a custard per se, this type of rice pudding is prepared in the manner of custard, which is:  a sweetened egg/milk mixture that has been cooked gently on the stovetop or baked in a low oven. Stirred custards are usually made in a double boiler, while baked custards get cooked in a warm water bath, which is not the case in most rice pudding recipes. That said, "custard" was the best term I could think of to describe its preparation.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)