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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

01/15/2018

~ Say Cheese Please: Making Perfect Welsh Rarebit ~

IMG_3073Welsh rarebit -- the original cheese toast.  It's worth mention that I've only eaten what I believe to be the real-deal once.  It was in the latter 1990's, in Wales, in the exquisite Coed-Y-Mwstwr Hotel (coy-dee-moo-ster).   It came to me as a complimentary side to a lovely salad (which I ordered after returning from shopping in the city of Cardiff).  The cheese toast, along with everything else in this hotel, was perfect.  I kicked off my high-heels and enjoyed it in my lavish room, overlooking the How-Green-was-My-Valley countryside, with a very English G&T too.

I gave cheese toast a lot more thought after that trip.  

IMG_3077Welsh rarebit or rabbit = molten cheese on toast. 

Welsh rarebit (pronounced rabbit) is a traditional British dish made by ladling a thickened, sometimes roux-based, cheese sauce over crustless, thick-sliced ever-so-slightly-toasted bread, then quickly broiling the two until the sauce is bubbling and barely-light-golden.  Basic rarebit sauce is made by melting a hard English cheese (like cheddar, gloucester, cheshire or lancashire) with cayenne pepper, English mustard, a splash of Worcestershire sauce, milk and beer.  Another, easier (cheaters) method, it to simply melt sliced cheese atop lightly-toasted bread that has been slathered with mixture of softened butter, mustard, Worcestershire and cayenne pepper. 

Welsh rabbit is the original name, and, the dish is Welsh in origin, dating back to the 1700's.  The Welsh, who are famous for their love of cheese, claim to be among the first to use cheese in various dishes and sauces.  In their food world, the original name, rabbit, was an affectionate way to say, "we prefer eating cheese to eating rabbit".  In their real world, Wales was an impoverished nation and many a Welshman couldn't afford even the cheapest meat.  Others claim the original name, after making its way into English kitchens, was meant to cast aspersions on the Welsh, who were allegedly not adept at catching rabbits -- and "rabbit" changed to "rarebit" spurred by the need for political correctness.  Still others claim the Welsh peasants, who weren't allowed to eat the rabbits caught during the hunts on the estates of the nobles, eating melted cheese and bread as a substitute, named the dish.  Culinary authorities, like Auguste Escoffier, say the spelling was changed from "rabbit" to "rarebit" merely to emphasize it not being a meat dish.

IMG_29932  tablespoons salted butter

2  tablespoons flour

1   teaspoon dry English mustard

1  teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2  teaspoon onion salt

1/4  teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2  cup milk

1/2  cup beer, your favorite brand 

1 1/4  cups shredded yellow cheddar cheese

1/2"-thick slices brioche-type bread*, preferably my recipe for bread machine brioche

*Note:  Ordinary soft, white sandwich bread will not work in this recipe.  Prior to toasting and broiling, the bread needs to be firm enough to hold the weight of the cheese and not get soggy.

IMG_2995 IMG_2995 IMG_2995~ Step 1.  In a 1-cup measuring container, combine the milk, beer and Worcestershire sauce.  Set aside.  Place the flour in a small bowl and add the dry English mustard, onion salt and cayenne pepper.  Set aside.

IMG_3006 IMG_3006 IMG_3006 IMG_3006 IMG_3015 IMG_3015 IMG_3015 IMG_3015 IMG_3015 IMG_3015~Step 2.  Melt the butter in a 1 1/2-quart saucepan over low heat.  Add the flour and spices.  Whisk constantly for 1 full minute.  Add the milk mixture. Adjust heat to simmer. Whisk constantly until nicely-thickened, about 3 minutes.  Turn the heat off and add the cheese. Whisk until cheese is melted and a thick, drizzly sauce has formed.  

IMG_3038~ Step 3.  Remove from heat.  There will be 1 1/2 cups of cheese sauce. Use immediately to make classic Welsh rarebit (as directed below), or, a Welsh rarebit fondue.  Cheese sauce can be made a day or three ahead, covered, and kept stored in the refrigerator.  Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stovetop, stirring frequently.  Do not freeze.

IMG_3039 IMG_3039 IMG_3039 IMG_3039 IMG_3039 IMG_3039~Step 4.  For each serving of classic Welsh rarebit, from the loaf of brioche, cut two 1/2"-thick slices of bread, then, trim the crust.  Ever-so-lightly-toast the bread.  Remove bread from toaster and place on a baking pan that has been lined with parchment.  Place and spread two tablespoons of the rarebit sauce over the surface of each slice, stopping just short of the edges.  Place pan on a rack positioned 5" underneath the broiler and cook until bubbly, about 3 minutes.  Garnish with minced parsley or chives.

Serve ASAP -- while hot & bubbling.

IMG_3078Pick up a knife & stick a fork in it:

IMG_3085Say Cheese Please:  Making Perfect Welsh Rarebit:  Recipe yields 1 1/2 cups Welsh rarebit sauce, enough to coat 12 standard-sized slices bread.

Special Equipment List:  hand-held box grater; 1-cup measuring container; 1 1/2-quart saucepan; whisk; cutting board; serrated bread knife; appropriately-sized baking pan; parchment paper

6a0120a8551282970b019aff73c661970bCook's Note:  Cheddar cheese sauce in general is really easy to make.  It only takes about five minutes, so please refrain from purchasing the store-bought glop. Even though I don't think vegetables need any livening up, it was one of my secret weapons to get our boys to eat their veggies.  Try ~ My Basic Cheddar Cheese Sauce for Vegetables ~.  This recipe is kid tested and mother approved.

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

01/12/2018

~ Well-Seasoned Vegetarian Vegetable & Bean Soup ~

IMG_2977I adore our country's famous Senate bean soup  -- chocked full of navy beans, shards of meat from ham hocks or shanks, onion and celery.  Everything from its rich history to is smokey flavor and creamy texture is perfection -- I've even had the pleasure of eating in the Senate dining room in Washington, D.C.  That said, I have vegetarian friends -- not many, but, they enjoy making their presence known in my kitchen.  When they do, I'm happy to go meatless for a few hours.  Yesterday was one such afternoon.  A pot of this relatively-easy-to-make vegetarian version of my senate bean soup, a rustic loaf of whole-grain bread with a big wedge of herbed-brie, and, of course, a bottle of white wine.  It was a lovely way to fritter away a snowy afternoon.

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c873f614970bI won't lie, I'm not a snob when it comes to canned beans.  They're a time-saving convenience.  My pantry contains a nice variety of beans, both dried and canned.  Like all conveniences, pound for pound, canned beans are more expensive than dried ones, but they hardly fall into the category of "pricey". There's more:  Both canned and dried are healthy. There is little nutritional difference between canned and dried beans (about the same amount of fiber, protein and calories), except for sodium content: canned = 450 mg./dried = 0 mg.

Note:  1 pound of dried beans (depending upon type and size), yields approximately 2 1/3-2 1/2 cups dried beans.  1  pound of dried beans after soaking overnight (depending upon type and size), yields approximately 5-5 1/2 cups of soaked beans -- when soaked, beans double in size. For "how to" instructions read my post ~ Quick-Soaking Dried Beans vs. Overnight Soaking ~.

Everybody into the pot:  One-Step Vegetarian Bean Soup

IMG_29371 1/2  quarts homemade vegetable stock, or, Kitchen Basics unsalted vegetable stock (6 cups)

IMG_29713  40-ounce cans great northern beans, undrained (each 40-ounce can of beans contains about 1 1/2 cups of liquid and 4 cups pre-cooked, via the canning process, cooked-in-the-can-beans)

1  tablespoon minced garlic, or, 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

2  cups peeled and small-diced carrots 

2  cups small-diced celery 

2  cups small-diced onion

4  cups peeled and small-diced gold potatoes 

1  cup, minced, fresh parsley 

4  whole bay leaves

4  teaspoons sea salt

2  teaspoons coarsely-ground or cracked black pepper

1 1/2  teaspoons poultry seasoning

IMG_2943 IMG_2943 IMG_2943 IMG_2943 IMG_2965 IMG_2965~Step 1.  Prep and place all ingredients in an 8-quart stockpot.  Using a large spoon, give it a thorough stir.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently.  Adjust heat to a gentle but steady simmer, partially cover the stockpot and continue to simmer for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, stopping to stir every 10-15 minutes.  Turn the heat off. Cover the pot and set aside to steep for 2 - 2 1/2 hours, or overnight, for flavors to marry.

Simple, Straightforward & Scrumptious.  Serve:

IMG_2990Well-Seasoned Vegetarian Vegetable & Soup:  Recipe yields 6 quarts.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; vegetable peeler; 8-quart stockpot w/lid

6a0120a8551282970b01a3fccf9945970bCook's Note:  While any bean soup is comfort food at its best on a cold Winter's day, some of my fondest memories are of eating it (out of a styrofoam cup with a plastic spoon) in the Summer at church picnics, backyard barbecues, block parties, family reunions and my father's workplace's annual company clambake.  My mom's recipe for, ~ A Hearty Fifteen-Bean Ham & Vegetable Soup ~, made from dried beans, is worth the extra effort.

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

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

01/09/2018

~Eggnog & Butter-Rum Cinnamon-Apple Fritter Bread~

IMG_2927There's a lot going on in the title of this recipe, but, trust me, after I peel back the layers and get to the heart of it, there will be a moist, quick-bread resemblant of everything one could hope to taste in both their favorite apple-fritter (a deep-fried doughnut sans the hole) and cinnamon bun -- in bread loaf form.  There are many recipes for apple fritter bread.  They vary a bit from cook to cook with one common thread: the way the batter and the primary ingredient (apples) get layered into the loaf pan.  It's signature is a pretty layer of apples in the center and on the top too. 

This brings me to the real-deal reason for my making apple-fritter bread today.  A few days ago, on Facebook, an apple fritter bread recipe came across my newsfeed.  While it was a well-written recipe on a big site, the ingredients were not layered.  In essence, that omission rendered it a generic quick bread recipe.  In my food world, the devil is in the recipe's details, and if you're not layering the ingredients, you're not making apple fritter bread.  It's a step you cannot skip. 

The devil is in the details.  Not layering the ingredients?   

IMG_2898Not making fritter bread.  It's a step you cannot skip.

IMG_2802A bit about fritters:  Here in the United States, fritters are small cakes made with morsels of one primary ingredient (a meat, seafood, fruit or vegetable) that gets mixed with a thick egg and milk batter then deep-fried.  All-purpose flour or cornmeal (or a combination of both) are the most common binding agents. ExamplesSweet corn fritters are made with corn kernels, apple fritters are full of diced apples, and, if deep-fried,  crab cakes are also considered a form of fritter.  I learned how to make fritters from pages 242 and 243 of the 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking.

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c943f252970bA bit about quick bread:  "Quick bread" is an American term that refers to bread that is quick to make because it doesn't require kneading or rising time.  It originated during the American civil war, when the demand for food and bread was high.  Innovative cooks began rapidly producing bread and baked goods that were leavened with baking soda rather than yeast. Nowadays, the leavening agent is predominately double-acting baking powder, or, a combination of baking powder and baking soda.  In the case of baking powder, it is called "double acting" because the rising process starts the moment it makes contact with the liquids, and, gives a second burst of rising power when the bread enters the hot oven.  Typically, quick breads contain eggs, flour, salt and fat (butter, margarine, shortening or oil) and leavening.  They can be sweet or savory and contain sugar, fruits, fruit purée, vegetables, vegetable purée and various liquids (milk, buttermilk, fruit juice or stock).  The wet and dry ingredients are mixed separately, then quickly stirred together, just until the ingredients are moistened, to form a rough-looking batter, just prior to baking.  Biscuits, cornbread, muffins, pancakes, scones, soda bread and waffles all fall into the quick-bread category.  That said, a"quick bread" is not a "batter bread".  Batter bread is a yeast bread in which the batter gets beaten for several minutes.

Eggnog.  It's one of my favorite holiday things, and, every year, I add a recipe containing eggnog, to KE. Over the years, I've shared recipes for eggnog malts and milkshakeseggnog briocheeggnog French toast stickseggnog pancakeseggnog cookies, and, eggnog shortbread.  This year, it's eggnog quick-bread.  That said, while I'm using eggnog and butter-rum flavoring today, because they indeed enhance the finished product, feel free to make this recipe using whole milk and vanilla extract, but, if you do, increase the amount of granulated sugar by 4 tablespoons -- I decreased it because store-bought eggnog is sweetened, milk is not.  

No more frittering around.  Quick-apple-fritter-bread: 

IMG_2806For the apple, brown-sugar cinnamon mixture:

12  ounces  peeled, cored and small diced Granny Smith apples (about 3 medium-sized apples

6  tablespoons packed light-brown sugar

1  tablespoon ground cinnamon

For the dry ingredients:

1 1/2  cups all purpose flour

2  teaspoons baking powder

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

For the wet ingredients:

1/2  cup salted butter, at room temperature, very soft

1/2  cup granulated sugar

2  large eggs, at room temperature

1/2  cup high-quality, store-bought, pasteurized eggnog

2  teaspoons butter-rum flavoring

1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2  cup high-quality store-bought applesauce, or homemade applesauce

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d0a5fdc6970cFor the eggnog glaze:

1  cup confectioners' sugar

2  tablespoons high-quality, store-bought, pasteurized eggnog

2  teaspoons butter-rum extract

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c71c4132970b~ Step 1.  In a small bowl, place and stir all ingredients for glaze together.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside.

IMG_2811 IMG_2811~ Step 2.  Spray a 9" x 5" loaf pan with no-stick cooking spray and preheat oven to 325° -- I like to use a glass loaf pan, so I can keep an eye on what's going on while this quick-bread bakes.  If you're using a metal pan, increase the oven temperature to 350°.  In a medium bowl stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

IMG_2813 IMG_2813 IMG_2813 IMG_2813~Step 3.  In a large bowl, place the butter, eggs, granulated sugar, butter-rum flavoring and vanilla extract.  Over medium-high speed of hand-held electric mixer, cream these ingredients together, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a large rubber spatula, about 1 minutes.  Lower the mixer speed and fold in the eggnog, followed by the applesauce.  Set wet ingredients aside.

IMG_2826 IMG_2826 IMG_2826~ Step 4.  In a medium bowl, place and stir together the light-brown sugar and cinnamon. Remove and set aside all but about 1/4 cup of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Peel, core and dice the apples as directed, placing them in the bowl with the 1/4 cup sugar mix.  Toss the apples to coat and set aside.

IMG_2833 IMG_2833~ Step 5.  Add the dry ingredients (the flour mixture) to the wet ingredients (the butter mixture). Using the rubber spatula, fold the two mixtures together, just until moistened.  There will be 3 cups of batter -- I did the measurement for you.

IMG_2839 IMG_2839 IMG_2839 IMG_2839 IMG_2852 IMG_2852 IMG_2852~Step 6.  Place and evenly distribute one half of the batter (1 1/2 cups) in the bottom of prepared loaf pan.  Sprinkle with 1/2 of the sugar-cinnamon mixture.  Distribute half of the apples across the top, then, using your fingertips and a light touch, press the apples down a bit.  Repeat the performance, topping with the remaining batter, sugar-cinnamon mixture and apples, lightly pressing down on them too.

IMG_2861 IMG_2861 IMG_2861~ Step 7.  Bake on center rack of 325° oven, 55-60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack, 1 hour, prior to inverting onto a plate, then inverting again, back onto cooling rack to cool completely, 2-3 hours, prior to glazing as directed below.

Bake on center rack of 325° oven, 55-60 minutes:

IMG_2860Cool, in pan on wire rack, 1 hour, prior to inverting...

IMG_2876...  out of pan & back on rack to cool completely, 2-3 hours.

IMG_2885Drizzle w/prepared glaze & allow glaze to set/firm up...

IMG_2892... about 1 hour prior to slicing & serving.

IMG_2921Eggnog & Butter-Rum Cinnamon-Apple Fritter Bread:  Recipe yields 12-16 servings.

Special Equipment List:  9" x 5" loaf pan, preferably glass; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; cake tester or toothpick; wire cooling rack

IMG_2845Cook's Note:  One bowl, a whisk and a spatula -- no mixer required. Yep.  Those words accurately sum up my recipe for ~ Nice & Easy No-Nonsense Quick-Mix Apple Bread ~, and, the end more than justifies the means, meaning:  it's hard to believe something this easy can taste this divine.  While apple bread isn't the most photogenic, don't let its monochromatic appearance fool you.  It's dense but not heavy, has a delicately-moist crumb, and, it's bursting with appleicious flavor.

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

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