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16 posts from July 2012

07/30/2012

~ How to: Make a Roux & Slurry (to Thicken Foods) ~

PICT0002At some point in time, cooks of all levels of expertise encounter a hot food, usually a liquid, that needs to be thickened.  Whether it's a soup, a stew, a sauce or a gravy (sometimes even a pudding or pie filling), knowing or not knowing how to do this can and will make or break an otherwise great recipe. This fundamental (and easy) task is one I always try to teach in my cooking classes. Why? Because I've come to learn it confounds a lot of home cooks.  

I grew up with a grandmother and mother who each kept two small canisters in the cabinet next to their stoves: one for flour and one for cornstarch.  A week rarely went by that I didn't watch one of them drop some flour or cornstarch into a measuring cup, whisk in some cold water and use it to almost instantly thicken whatever happened to be simmering on the stovetop!

PICT0038On Friday, I was preparing ~ A Summer Comfort Food:  German Potato Salad ~ for my next Kitchen Encounters segment on WHVL-TV. In this recipe, I whisk up a slurry and add it to the hot bacon, onion and potato mixture.  Within seconds, like magic, the slurry thickens and enrobes the potato salad in a thick, creamy sauce!  

PICT0003When the cameras and lights were turned off, one of the crew members asked a "slurry" question, which resulted in a short but informative discussion about thickening hot liquids and food in general, and, the differences between a roux and a slurry.  After posting the potato salad recipe, which can be found in Categories 2 or 13, I decided that perhaps this topic deserved a blog post all of its own.

What is the difference between a roux and a slurry?

PICT0003 PICT0008 PICT0016A bit about roux:  In the culinary world, when most professionals are looking to thicken a soup or a sauce, they make a roux.

A roux is simply equal parts of flour and fat (clarified butter or butter, oil or animal fat) that are cooked in a pan until they are completely combined, thick and smooth.  The mixture is then cooked briefly, just long enough to remove any raw flour taste.  More complex rouxs require a chef's full attention as they are cooked, whisking constantly, for a lengthier period of time, until the roux turns the desired shade of light tan to reddish brown.  "Roux", in French, is the word for "reddish-bown", and, the darker the color, the nuttier and more complex the flavor.  Once the roux has been prepared, hot liquid is whisked into it, in increments, returning it to a simmer prior to each addition, until the desired consistency is reached.  Why return to a simmer each time? Because a roux's full thickening power is not realized until the hot liquid is brought to a simmer.

PICT0003A bit about slurry (sometimes referred to as "whitewash"):  In the home kitchen, when home cooks are looking to thicken a soup or a sauce at the last minute, they make a slurry.  A slurry is simply a 1:4 ratio of flour, cornstarch or arrowroot to COLD water, broth or juice that is whisked together in a small bowl until they are completely combined, slightly thickened and smooth.  This ratio is not "etched in stone", and, if a recipe gives you a specific ratio, use it.  Scientifically, here's what happens in a slurry:  the liquid hydrates the starch in the thickening agent, which prevents it from clumping when added to the hot liquid. The slurry is then added directly to the simmering dish being prepared and cooked briefly, just long enough to remove any raw flour taste.  Occasionally, seasoning may be added to the slurry.

Flour, cornstarch or arrowroot?  Which one works best?

PICT0009Flour is hands down the most common starch used in American slurries, and, cornstarch is hands down the most common starch used in Asian slurries, and, I use them almost exclusively in this manner. The biggest difference between the two is the "look" of the dish being prepared at the end:  flour produces a mat/flat sort of cloudy finish, while cornstarch produces a glossy/shiny sort of glassy finish.  It has also been my experience that cornstarch does not do well when used in dishes that contain a lot of acid, and/or are going to be frozen, which makes arrowroot the substition for cornstarch in those culinary applications.  Arrowroot is completely tasteless and becomes completely clear when cooked, but, it does not work well used in dishes that contain cream, because it tends to get greasy/slimy, particularly if the dish being served requires reheating.  

Tip:  If you've prepared a dish that started out with a roux and you feel it needs a slurry at the end for additional thickening:  use cornstarch or arrowroot to prepare the slurry.  Why?  Because a chemical reaction occurs that will prevent the same starch used twice to thicken it any further.

PICT0004How to:  Make a Roux & Slurry (to Thicken Foods):  Recipe yields instructions on how to prepare a basic roux and a basic slurry.

Special Equipment List:  small pot or skillet; measuring container or bowl; whisk

Cook's Note:  Besides roux and slurry, there are other methods of thickening too.  They require thoughtful use, but:  Try adding some cooked and pureed starchy vegetables or smashed beans to the dish.  Ground up cereals, grains, nuts and seeds can work too!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie Preschutti/Copyright 2012)

07/28/2012

~ Kitchen Encounters/WHVL Video Segment #29: Warm German Potato Salad and Pork Loin Chops with Apricot-Mustard Sauce ~

German Potato

Yesterday I posted my recipe for ~ A Summer Comfort Food:  German Potato Salad ~, which is a delightful, bacon-studded, sweet & sour, vinegar-based salad made using boiled potatoes, bacon fat, vinegar, simple seasonings and sugar.  You can find the detailed recipe, with all of my step-by-step directions and photos in Categories 4 or 10!  

If you'd like to watch my Kitchen Encounters TV segment, just click on the following link:

Warm German Potato Salad & Pork Loin Chops w/Apricot Mustard Sauce

To watch all of my other Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV cooking segments, go to the listing found on the left side of the home page of this blog, and, click on the blue title of any one, or:

Tune in to WHVL-TV's Centre of It All Show, which airs every Sunday morning at 11:30AM on local Comcast channel 14!

************

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

(Recipe, Commentary, Photo & Video courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

07/27/2012

~ A Summer Comfort Food: German Potato Salad ~

PICT0003Every now and then, my world, or the world in general, gets stressful, overwhelming, and, just plain crazy.  When that happens, I head into my kitchen to cook something that makes me happy.  It has been such a week here at Kitchen Encounters.  Retreating into my kitchen to cook comfort food is easier to do in the Fall and Winter months, because I have a long list of comforting casseroles, soups and pasta dishes in my repertoire.  Today, I decided to put some nice thick pork loin chops on the grill and mix up a batch of warm and comforting German Potato Salad, "just like my grandma used to make"... sort of:

PICT0008When I graduated from high school, my fiance's grandmother, who lived in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania, specifically South Tamaqua, regularly made German Potato Salad throughout the Summer months.  Nana was Pennsylvania Dutch, which culinarily is similar to Amish, but religiously is not.  While I never wrote down her specific recipe for this potato salad, I often helped her slice, dice, chop and boil, then watched her saute the ingredients in a large, cast-iron skillet, in a very specific order.  Near the end, she'd mix up a thin slurry made from flour and water, to thicken the mixture, add some vinegar, and, voila:  German potato salad.  So, when it came time for me to come up with my own recipe, "it wasn't rocket science".  Aside from some celery seed, Dijon mustard and a couple of proportions, I'd say my recipe is probably 95% the same as hers!

PICT0058A bit about German potato salad: German potato salad is a delightful, bacon-studded, sweet & sour, vinegar-based salad made using boiled potatoes, bacon, bacon fat, vinegar, simple seasonings and sugar.  Common additions are onion, celery and seasonal, fresh, mild herbs, like parsley or chives. Typically enjoyed warm, it can be served hot or cold as well (although I like it warm the best). Technically it's called a salad, but it is almost always served as a side-dish to German sausage or pork (and, like Nana, I almost always serve mine with pork chops)!

PICT0004There are dozens of varieties of potatoes available nowadays, but the low-starch, waxy red potato is best suited for German potato salad because it stands up to the rigors of boiling, sauteing, and stirring.  And, something every potato salad cook should know:  the unpeeled potato contains more nutrients, retains its shape better and absorbs less water (when boiled)!  

Tip from Mel:  Don't boil the potatoes.  Microwaving the potatoes insures no water absorption.  Your potatoes will be the perfect texture for potato salad each and every time!  For my recipe, you'll need:

3  pounds, whole, medium-sized, red skinned potatoes, about 4-5 ounces each, rinsed

PICT0002~ Step 1.  Rinse potatoes, and, using a fork, pierce each one in 1-2 places. Microwave, in 1-2 batches, until just cooked through.  In my microwave, I am able to do this in 1 batch, and, it took 12 1/2 minutes. Do not overcook the potatoes!  

Note:  For this, potato salad, the potatoes are done when they can be pierced with tines of a fork, but not easily pierced.  They should show a bit of resistence in the center, because, they are going to continue to cook as they cool.  

PICT0003~ Step 2.  Remove from oven and set aside until cool enough to comfortably handle potatoes with hands, about 45-60 minutes.

~ Step 3.  Slice into thick, 1/2" slices.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.  Meanwhile, prep the remaining ingredients as directed.

Note:  Potatoes can be prepped several hours (4-6-8) in advance, but, do not be inclined to refrigerate them, as they tend to get gray looking.  Just cover them with plastic wrap and leave them on the countertop at room temperature. 

PICT0004

 

For the German potato salad:

3  pounds, medium-sized red skinned potatoes, prepped as directed above

1  pound thick-sliced bacon, the best available, sliced into 1/2" pieces

1  pound yellow or sweet onion, halved pole-to-pole and thinly sliced, about 1/4" thick

8  ounces diced celery

1 1/2  tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour

2  tablespoons sugar

1/2  teaspoon celery seed

1  teaspoon sea salt

1  teaspoon white pepper

1/2  cup cold water

1/2  cup apple cider vinegar

2  tablespoons Dijon mustard

PICT0016 PICT0011~ Step 1.  In a large 14" skillet, fry bacon, over medium-high, until crispy, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer from pan to a paper towel lined plate. Leave all drippings in pan.

Note:  Bacon can be fried hours in advance of making the potato salad.  Turn heat under drippings off and cover the pan.  Reheat drippings prior to proceeding:

PICT0005 PICT0001~ Step 2. Add the sliced onions and diced celery to the hot bacon drippings.  

Continue to saute, over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and translucent and just short of beginning to brown, about 15 minutes, with how it looks being more important than time.

PICT0032 PICT0011~ Step 3. Add the sliced potatoes to the onion mixture.  Over medium-high heat, continue to saute, stirring frequently, until the potatoes and onions are beginning to brown, about 15 minutes, lowering the heat as necessary, to prevent scorching. While potatoes are cooking:

PICT0004 PICT0023~ Step 4.  In a small bowl, place the flour, sugar, celery seed, salt and white pepper.  

Add the 1/2 cup cold water and whisk until a thin, smooth "slurry" has formed.  Set aside.

PICT0025~ Step 5.  Using the measuring container from the water, place the 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard.

PICT0028Whisk until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

 

~ Step 6.  Reheat the potatoes over medium heat.  When steaming:

PICT0042 PICT0038                                       ~ Step 7. Add the flour and water "slurry".

Stirring constantly, continue to cook until the slurry is thickened, the potatoes are coated in the mixture and the bottom of the pan is almost dry.  This is only going to take about 30 seconds.

PICT0048 PICT0046                                       ~ Step 8.  Add the vinegar and Dijon mixture.  

Stirring constantly, continue to cook until the mixture is thickened, the potatoes are coated and a sauce has formed in the bottom of the pan. This is only going to take about 30 seconds.

PICT0058~ Step 9.  Remove pan from heat.  

Note:  While the German potato salad is technically ready stir in the bacon and eat it, it will be at its best if you cover  it and set aside for 1-3 hours.

Whenever you decide to serve it (hot, warm, or, at room temperature), always stir in the crunchy bacon at the very last minute!  Enjoy!!!

PICT0004A Summer Comfort Food:  German Potato Salad:  Recipe yields 12 cups or 6-8 servings.

Special Equipment List:  microwave oven; cutting board; chef's knife; plastic wrap; 14" chef's pan w/straight, deep sides; slotted spoon; paper towels; 1-cup measuring container; small whisk

6a0120a8551282970b0154322ef1bc970c-800wiCook's Note:  German potato salad is perfect to serve at a picnic or a tailgate, as it contains no mayonnaise and doesn't get served cold... but, I'm here to tell you it's really good cold too!  

For a more traditional recipe, ~ GrandMel's Creamy Potato and Egg Salad Recipe ~, which is mayo-based, just click into Categories 4, 10 or 17!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

07/24/2012

~ Around Town: The American Ale House & Grill ~

PICT0282At least three times a week someone asks me to recommend a State College restaurant.  "The Ale House", is my immediate response.  Why?  Because when I go out to eat in Happy Valley, unless I am invited somewhere else or looking for a sports bar (which would be "Champs"), The Ale House is where I go and this is where I take people.  My relationship with the restaurant, its owner(s) and executive chef dates back to the 1980's.  Let's start at the beginning:

PICT0234Meet Scott Lucchesi:  A State College native, Scott combined his love of family, the Penn State community and food into an empire. Starting with one sub-shop back in the '70's, he now owns several eateries (including Champs).  He vicariously lives through his businesses and they thrive because of him and his demand to provide excellent food, service and atmosphere... consistently!

PICT0243Back in the 1980's, Scott opened Champs Sports Grill (North Atherton Street, State College, PA), which was very close to where we lived at the time, and that is how Joe and I met Scott.  One cool Fall evening, Scott dropped by our house to talk football with my husband and I happened to be making my tomato-basil sauce and homemade ravioli. At that moment, Scott became the biggest advocate for my Foodie career next to my husband!

PICT0242Meet Linda Silveri:  Formerly from Altoona, Linda graduated from PSU, and, back in the '80's started out waiting tables at Champs. Besides being charming, pretty and really hard working, she "learned the biz from the best" and when Scott was looking for a business partner for The Ale House, it came as no surprise to anyone that Linda, was "the man" for the job. When Linda is in "The House" (which is almost constantly), it's a home!

TommyMeet Tommy Wareham:  Born in Bellefonte and the son of a Penn State music professor, Tommy is "The Original Piano Man".  He's been entertaining for over 25 years, and I'm proud to say he's played the piano in my own home for a few dinner parties, a wedding, and my parents 50th wedding anniversary.   PICT0251When it came time to put "the best entertainer in the biz" in "The House", they built an entire piano bar around Tom and made him a co-owner too!

To view an entertaining WHVL-TV Centre of it All Show segment featuring Tommy Wareham and The American Ale House & Grill: WHVL Tommy Wareham COIA Segment!

PICT0120Meet Executive Chef Jami Steffen: You can't run a successful restaurant without a creative genius in the kitchen, and, at The Ale House, that'd be Chef Jami. Chef has been working with Scott since the 1980's, and, as the businesses grew exponentially, Jami upped his culinary game to be where he is today.  Over the years, Jami and I have worked together too many times to count, and, as a result, we have become culinary confidants.  I have a direct line to his kitchen and he has one to mine too!

DiningroomYesterday, Chef Jami was gracious enough to spend the afternoon with my assistant and I in The Ale House's dining room.  We ordered right from the menu (I prearranged our visit with him, and, while he knew we were coming, he had no idea what we would be ordering.).

We were seated under the sky-lights, which made photographing great food a complete joy, and, in between photographs, tasting food, and sipping on a lovely bottle of wine, Chef answered a few foodie questions for me too:

PICT0017#1.  Farmers Market Beet Salad with haloumi cheese, cracked pepper and honey dressing!

Q.  How many hours a week do you spend in your kitchen and how many diners do you feed, on average, on a daily basis?

A.  I'm in the kitchen about 70 hours a week and we average 200 covers per night.  The hours increase from there, depending on in-house private parties and off-premises caterings.

PICT0032#2.  Heirloom Tomato and Imported Buffalo Milk Mozzarella, with micro greens and white balsamic reduction!

Q.  What do you do to relax when you get a day off?

A.  Travel to various cities to eat in other restaurants, or, stay home and play in my own garden.

PICT0100#3.  Duck-Soba Salad with red pepper, green papaya, cabbage, cilantro, mint and Thai basil!

Q.  You change your menu seasonally, but are there menu items your customer base requires you keep on?

A.  (Laughing)  I'll get into trouble if I try to remove the Thai Chicken Salad, the Acapulco Salad, the Blackened Chicken Penne or the Shrimp Basil Fettuccini!

PICT0061#4.  Iberico Skirt Steak (free-range Spanish pig), served medium-rare with tomato-shishito salad and saffron rissoto!

Q.  A lot of celebrities come to Happy Valley. Who's the most famous person you've cooked for?

A.  I can't say and I really don't care... everyone is a celebrity here!

PICT0103#5. Tamari Glazed Lamb with yuzu creme fraiche, jalapeno-sweet potato puree and sesame kale!

Q.  Working for you, what's someones first day on the job like and what do you look for in a cook or another chef?

A.  Everyone has to fit in and work together.  I'd rather teach skills than try to remove an attitude.

PICT0150#6.  (Vegetarian Soup of the Day) Roasted Poblano Soup with black beluga lentils and smoked pigeon peas!

Q.  How do you balance time with your family and the life of a busy chef?

A.  (Sigh)  That's a tough one because I spend more time with the people in the kitchen, which are just like family to me, than I do my own family. Luckily, my children are old enough to understand what I do, and, they're proud of what I do.

PICT0174#7. (Featured Sandwich of the Day) Peppered Ham (porchetta) with red pepper aioli, Cooper CV cheese, arugula and a fried egg served on toasted semolina bread (the boss's favorite)!

Q.  In your many years in the restaurant business, what are you most proud of?

A.  Everything that everyone here has achieved together as a team.  

Menu WineBesides an extensive wine list and wine cellar, they boast a Gumbo & Seafood "steambar" which serves made-to-order entrees well into the wee hours of the morning too!  

Desserts don't take a back seat either.  Along with everything else on the menu, they too are made from scratch!

Flourless Chocolate Torte w/Sea Salt Caramel & Salted Caramel Gelato:

PICT0187

PICT0266The American Ale House & Grill

821 Cricklewood Drive

State College, PA  16803

(814) 237-9701

www.americanalehouse.net

FIVE STARS AS PER MEL!!!

Note:  Mel awards stars equally for: First Impression, Food, Service, Presentation and Creativity.

6a0120a8551282970b015433a9bee3970c-800wiI totally understand and thoroughly enjoy the differences between upscale fine dining all the way thru to casual diner fare or rustic outdoor barbecue (and will judge everyone equally), BUT, if your place isn't clean, you'll get no stars from me!

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

(Photos & Commentary courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

07/22/2012

~ If You Think Egg Drop Soup is Boring... Try Mine! ~

PICT0004Until the recent past, I can tell you that I found egg drop soup to be kind of lack luster, and, quite frankly:  boring.  Don't get me wrong, I love Chinese food, strike that, I adore Chinese food, and have eaten it all around the world, including in China.  For quite some time, I would order egg drop soup in various restaurants, just to see if someone had a "House Special" version of it, to prove to me that I was missing the point.  It never happened, which is sad, because:  I love the look of authentic Chinese egg drop soup, with all of those lightly-colored whisps of beaten egg floating around in chicken stock, garnished with pretty, thin, light-green slices of scallion.  I find it to be a feast for my eyes, but not my palate.  As for Westernized versions that add cornstarch to thicken it, and, in many cases, contain nothing more than rubbery scrambled eggs?  Well, in my opinion, they just add insult to injury and those recipes get no sympathy from me.  

A bit about egg drop soup:  Egg drop soup, sometimes called egg flower soup is a traditional, simple to prepare, Chinese soup that is usually served in the Spring or Summer.  Beaten eggs are drizzled (usually over a pair of fast moving chop sticks) into boiling chicken broth that has been seasoned with black or white pepper.  As the eggs are added, they create silky strands that float of the top of the soup.  If the strands are not added correctly, a sort of egg holocaust occurs, equivalent to serving scrambled eggs in broth.  Scallions and tofu are the two of the most common additions to the soup, with bean sprouts, corn and/or mushrooms occasionally making an appearance too.  Traditionally, the broth is quite bland, which is supposed to allow the flavor of the eggs to shine through, and, here is where I drive my recipe cart off the beaten path:

I want egg drop soup that tastes as good as it looks!

I want egg drop soup with whispy eggs in a flavorful stock!

6a0120a8551282970b016300aa3420970d-800wiI my world, a good soup starts with a good stock.  As a child, I remember watching The Three Stooges  pour boiling water through a chicken carcass to make soup, and, in my opinion, canned broth is only one salty step above that!  

In my kitchen I make and freeze ~ Thai Chicken Stock ~, which makes a fantastic base for egg drop soup.  It's fresh, clear, and full of the traditional Asian flavors of soy sauce, ginger and white pepper.  That being said, it also contains traditional Thai fish sauce, lemon grass, kaffir lime and cilantro too, which just adds to the party in my mouth.  The day I took the leap from ordinary, bland chicken stock to my stock, I never looked back.  My husband and friends whole-heartedly agree.  You can find my easy-to-make recipe in Categories 13, 15 or 22!

PICT0002To prepare the egg drop soup:

6  cups Asian chicken stock

4  large eggs, at room temperature

4  tablespoons water

1  cup thinly sliced, light green scallion tops

~ Step 1.  Place the stock in a 3 1/2-quart chef's pan.  Note:  a shallow, wide-bottom pan is essential when it comes time to add the eggs!

PICT0007~ Step 2.  In a 1-cup measuring container, place the eggs.  Add 4 tablespoons of room temperature water.  

Note:  Experimentation taught me that adding a bit of water to the eggs makes them whispier!  

PICT0014~ Step 3. Whisk vigorously until smooth. You will have 1 cup of egg mixture.  Set aside.

PICT0020~ Step 4.  Bring the stock to a boil over medium-high heat.  Briefly turn the heat off.  I find it easiest to turn the heat off, add some eggs, stir, return stock to a simmer, turn the heat off, and, repeat the process as many times as it takes to add the eggs (about 6-8 times).

Note:  The following is my method for creating whispy eggs.  Feel free to develop your own method, but, I can tell you that slowly drizzling the egg mixture into swirling or boiling water does not work.  It results in clumps of eggs rather than strands.

PICT0026~ Step 5.  With the heat turned off, using a fork dipped into the egg mixture, begin letting the egg mixture roll off the tines into the hot stock.  Stop when the eggs do not firm up on contact with the hot liquid.

Note:  This will start as drips, but as you get into a rhythm, it will be drizzling from the fork into the stock:

PICT0030~ Step 6.  Stir, in one direction only (clockwise or counterclockwise, your choice), and return mixture to a simmer.  Then, turn the heat off.

PICT0048~ Step 7. Repeat this process 4-5 more times, until all of the eggs have been added to the stock.  This will only take about 4-5 minutes.

To serve, portion soup into 2-4 warmed bowls and serve immediately garnished with scallions:

PICT0012If You Think Egg Drop Soup is Boring... Try Mine!:  Recipe yields 7 cups or 2-4 servings.

Special Equipment List:  3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides; 1-cup measuring container; whisk; fork 

6a0120a8551282970b01630171a8fd970d-800wiCook's Note:  To try some of my other soups that are made with this very special stock, ~ Spicy Carrot-Coconut-Ginger Bisque ~, ~ Hot & Sour Prawn Soup:  Tom Yam Kung ~, and, ~ Glass Noodle Soup w/Petite Pork Meatballs ~, click into Categories 2 or 13.  Each of these is a "party in the mouth" too!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

07/19/2012

~ "Would You Like 'Duck' Sauce With That?" "Yes!" ~

PICT0015If you're a lover of Asian food, you know that having the right condiment or dipping sauce to go with the right dish is very important.  If you are a lover of Asian food, you, like me, probably have a nice collection of Asian sauces in your pantry or refrigerator... I have at least ten.  That being said, when I'm going to the time and trouble to prep Asian fare, I don't mind taking an extra few minutes to prepare a special condiment or dipping sauce to go with it.  Duck sauce is one of them and it could not be easier to make!

6a0120a8551282970b0168e7853d06970c-320wiA bit about "duck" sauce:  All of us are familiar with those packets of an orange, sticky and sweet condiment that comes with Chinese takeout.  Real "duck" sauce is actually made using fresh plums, apricots or peaches, some rice vinegar, ginger, sugar and spices.  In reality, "duck" sauce isn't duck sauce at all.  It is plum sauce.  When Chinese food was being Westernized, plum sauce was served as a condiment for Peking duck (instead of the traditional hoisin sauce) and it quickly picked up the nickname "duck" sauce!

IMG_9566Wait until you see how easy this is!

For the "duck" sauce":

1/2  cup apricot preserves

1/2  cup mango & ginger chutney*

1/4  cup water

* Mango & ginger chutney contains many of the same ingredients in "duck" sauce.  It is a fabulous, flavor-packed time-saving "secret" to a quick Asian "duck" sauce!

IMG_9571 IMG_9568~ Step 1. Place the preserves, chutney and water in a small 1-quart saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer gently for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  

Remove from heat, cover and set aside to cool slightly, about 15-20 minutes.

IMG_9575Step 2.  Transfer mixture to a blender or a small food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth, about 30-45 seconds. Serve slightly warm, or:

IMG_9581~ Step 3. Place in a tightly-covered food storage container and cool, uncovered, until sauce is at room temperature.  Cover and store indefinitely in the refrigerator. Reheat gently in the microwave just prior to serving.

PICT0012

 

"Would You Like 'Duck' Sauce With That?" "Yes!":  Recipe yields 1 1/4 cups "duck" sauce.

Special Equipment List:  1-quart saucepan; blender or small food processor; 1 1/2-2-cup food storage container w/tight-fitting lid

6a0120a8551282970b017743813563970d-320wiCook's Note:  Duck sauce is pictured above drizzled on my recipe for ~ Got Leftover Rice? Use It to Make Chinese Fried Rice ~, in Categories 3, 4, 13 & 14! 

In the picture to your left, ~ TGIF: Mel's Make-Ahead, Asian Cocktail Meatballs ~ are dipped into it.  You can find this recipe in Categories 1, 13, 20 or 22!

Trust me when I tell you, this is one Asian condiment you will want to keep on hand at all times! 

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

07/17/2012

~ Leftover Rice? Use it to Make Chinese Fried Rice! ~

PICT0004Back in my younger days, fried rice was party food in my apartment kitchen.  I was married at the age of 20, and, my husband was going to school here at Penn State.  We tended to hang out with married couples from our apartment complex or other married college students.  For a couple of years, there was a close-knit group of five couples, that, because we were all on tight budgets, took turns hosting parties in our apartments.  Yes, we did get wild and crazy, but, even then, all of my women friends could cook... in fact, we were all really good cooks.  Eileen, Michelle, Karen, Toni... wherever you are, I hope you are reading this.  When the par-tay was at my/our place, it was tradition for me to feed the gang a big batch of fried rice in the wee hours of the morning, before everyone went to their respective homes to sleep "it off".  Fast forward 35 years.  Nowadays, it's just one of my go-to comfort foods for Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter!

So, how did a gal from Eastern PA learn to make fried rice?

PICT0022My very first job in Happy Valley was at the Executive Offices of Central Counties Bank.  Every morning a very pretty Asian gal named Mae delivered the updated National Prime Rate to my desk for my three bosses, the VP's of Commercial, Installment and Mortgage lending.  It wasn't long before she and I were having lunch together a couple of times a week, and, more often than not, she was "brown bagging" homemade fried rice.  She explained that in China, fried rice is a staple, but more importantly, it is a frugal way to use leftovers to create a satisfying meal. One day, she invited me to stop by her apartment after work to show me first-hand how she prepared it.  Mae told me what type of rice to use + explained it must be "leftover" and kept in the refrigerator, right up until you're ready to use it.  She went on to say that in China, eggs, or scrambled eggs, are almost always added to it for protein and richness.  I don't remember exactly what we added to the fried rice that night, but I do remember Mae expressing her disdain for Westerners who add garlic, because it overpowers the delicate flavors of this dish!

And, the experts almost agree!

PICT0005A bit about fried rice:  Fried rice is a staple of all Asian cuisines, but, most of us associate it with the Chinese (or at least I do).  It is a dish made of leftover steamed rice, that has been refrigerated several hours or overnight prior to being fried, because the moisture in freshly steamed rice will cause it to steam, rather than fry, resulting in it being mushy, sticky, gummy and/or clumpy.  Without any protein added to it, it is simply referred to as "fried rice", and makes a delicious side-dish or vegetarian main course.  When meat, poultry, seafood and/or vegetables are added to it, the proper name changes to what the rice has been cooked with, such as:  "chicken" fried rice, "pork" fried rice, "shrimp" fried rice, "vegetable" fried rice, etc. That being said, all versions usually contain some sort of colorful vegetables, like:  cabbage, baby corn, carrots and/or peas. Eggs are usually cooked into the mix at the end of the cooking process, however, it is acceptable for the eggs to be cooked separately and added afterwards. As for seasonings, soy and/or fish sauce are used in place of salt, with scallions, onion, garlic and/or ginger being common additives.  When I order fried rice in a Chinese restaurant, my favorite is "House Special" fried rice, which is a melange of all sorts of leftover goodies!

Steaming the jasmine rice!

6a0120a8551282970b014e60ec75ce970c-320wiA bit about jasmine rice:  Jasmine rice is a polished, long-grain silky, white rice known for its fragrance, aroma and scent.  It was named after the sweet-smelling jasmine flower of Southeast Asia, and, as jasmine rice cooks, it releases its perfumy scent.  When properly cooked it is soft, white and fluffy.  Its very distinctive flavor complements all Asian fare perfectly.

6a0120a8551282970b014e60ed4c8b970c-320wiPrior to cooking, it should be rinsed under cold running water.  Place it in a colander and while the water is running, move it around with your fingertips until the water running through it comes out clear.  Set the colander aside and let it drain a bit, about 5-10 minutes, before cooking:

3  cups uncooked jasmine rice

as directed below.

Note:  Jasmine rice is sometimes compared to Indian basmati rice, which is also a fragrant, long-grain white rice, however, basmati is aged before being sold and has a delicious, nuttier flavor. It's a fair comparison, and, while both rices cook the same (using less water than conventional long-grain white rice) to produce fluffy, slightly-chewy grains, I personally do not use them interchangeably.  I prefer to use jasmine rice exclusively when I am serving Asian fare, and basmati rice exclusively when I am serving Indian or Middle Eastern fare!

PICT0007~ Step 1.  Using the cup/measure from an electric rice steamer, place 3 cups of rinsed, uncooked jasmine rice in the steamer.  Using the same cup/measure, add an equal amount of water, or a 1-to-1 ratio of rice-to-water, + 1/2 cup water.  Briefly stir the rice, close the lid and turn the steamer on.  Do not uncover or stir during the steaming process.  When the steamer turns itself off, the rice is done. 

PICT0004~ Step 2.  Uncover and fluff, meaning:  gently rake through the rice with a fork to separate the grains.

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~ Step 3.  Transfer the rice to a 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Allow to cool to room temperature, about 1-1 1/2 hours..  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4-6 hours or overnight.  Overnight is really the best.  Keep the rice in the refrigerator until you are ready to add it to the wok/skillet. 

Marinating the meat, poultry or seafood!

I won't lie, pork, chicken or shrimp are my top three favorite proteins to add to fried rice, in that order.  And, I'll go one step further,  I never use leftover protein to make Chinese fried rice. Why? Because, more often than not, they have been have been previously cooked and seasoned with spices that are completely out of place in Chinese fare... it just makes no culinary sense!  

PICT0010For the marinade and protein:

1/4  cup seasoning soy sauce, or light soy sauce

2  tablespoons sesame oil

2  tablespoons, peeled and minced, fresh ginger

1-1 1/2 pounds boneless pork loin backribs (pork tenderloin may be substituted), chicken tenders or peeled & deveined shrimp, tails-off

Note:  Pork loin backribs are perfect for stir-fries.  They contain just the right amount of fat, are tender, juicy, full of flavor, and cook quickly!  

PICT0008~ Step 1.  Slice the pork or chicken as thin as possible, across the grain.  If you are slicing it thin enough, it will be almost shredding as you are slicing. That is exactly what you want.  If you are using shrimp, depending on their size, you might have to chop them into bite-sized pieces.

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~ Step 2.  To a 1-gallon food storage bag, add the soy sauce, sesame oil and minced ginger.  Add the protein, close bag and set aside 1-2 hours.  While the protein is marinating:

Prepping the vegetables and eggs!

You can add whatever veggies you want, but, do your best to stay consistent with what the Chinese add to their fried rice.  I have my favorites.  Be sure to have them all prepped and ready prior to starting to stir-fry.  For my recipe, here's what you'll need, for the vegetables:

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1  cup chiffonade of Chinese white cabbage, bok choy

1  cup diced yellow onion

1/2  cup thinly sliced scallions, white and light green part only

1  cup frozen baby peas, unthawed

1 cup diced carrots

2  tablespoons peeled and minced, fresh ginger

PICT0020~ Step 1 .  Prep all vegetables as directed above and set aside.  This task can be done a day in advance of preparing the fried rice.  How convenient is that!

~ Step 2.  Just prior to cooking the fried rice, in a small bowl, whisk together:

4-6  extra-large eggs, at room temperature (Note:  I like eggs so I'm using 6, but that choice is yours!)

2  tablespoons seasoning soy sauce, or light soy sauce

Making the fried rice!

PICT0006A bit about woks:  You don't need one to make a great stir-fry or cook great Asian food.  Because I do what I do, justifing a wok and grill station in my kitchen was an easy decision to make.  That being said, you can achieve seriously good results using a large stir-fry pan or a large nonstick skillet.  When it comes to stir-frying, its all about surface area and high heat. If you're purchasing a wok, I recommend the the biggest one you can afford.  If you don't do enough of Asian to cooking to justify a wok, buy the largest nonstick or cast iron skillet you can find.  This 14" Calphalon pan is a workhorse in my kitchen and it works great:

PICT0007~ Step 1.  Heat 1-2 tablespoons additional sesame oil over medium-high heat.  Add the pork and all of its marinade (which isn't a lot). Using a large slotted spoon, stirring constantly, fry until pork is just cooked through, about 4-6 minutes, depending upon the heat on your stovetop.  Turn heat off.

~ Step 2.  Using the slotted spoon, remove the meat, from the pan to a plate, and set aside.

PICT0009~ Step 3.  In the same pan, heat 2 tablespoons additional sesame oil and 2 tablespoons additional soy sauce over medium-high heat.  Add all of the vegetables.  Stirring constantly, cook until crunch-tender, about 3-5 minutes, depending upon the heat on your stovetop.

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~ Step 4.  Add the rice, and continue to stir-fry until pan is dry and rice is just showing signs of browning, lowering the heat as necessary to prevent scorching, about 2-3 minutes, depending upon the heat on your stovetop.

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~ Step 5.  Briefly rewhisk the egg mixture and pour it over the rice. Over medium heat, stirring constantly, cook until eggs are set and distributed throughout the rice, about 1-2 minutes.

PICT0031~ Step 6. Add the protein and cook until just heated through, about 1 minute.

For the perfect condiment, my super-easy recipe for ~ "Would You Like Duck Sauce With That?" "Yes"! ~ can be found in Categories 8, 13 & 20!

PICT0012Leftover Rice?  Use it to Make Chinese Fried Rice!:  Recipe yields 12 cups, or 6-8 servings.

Special Equipment List:  colander; electric rice steamer; 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pan; parchment paper; plastic wrap; cutting board; chef's knife; 1-gallon food storage bag; wok or 14" chef's pan w/straight, deep sides;  large slotted spoon

6a0120a8551282970b01538dd79147970b-800wiCook's Note:  For another one of my fun rice recipes, which, just like this one, was born out of leftover ingredients, you can find ~ Mel's "Jazzed Up" Jasmine Rice w/Pineapple ~ in Categories 4 or 13.  It's really easy too!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012) 

07/14/2012

~ How to: Make Basic Simple Syrup (Sugar Syrup) ~

PICT0002If you are not a bartender or a pastry chef, there is a chance you might never have heard of simple syrup.  I profess to being neither, but I do dabble enough in both cocktail making and baking to keep a bottle of this very useful mixture in my refrigerator most of the time!

A bit about simple syrup, sometimes referred to as sugar syrup: Appropriately named, it is simply a mixture of sugar and water in various ratios:

thin = 1 part sugar:3 parts water

medium=1 part sugar:2 parts water

thick = 1 part sugar:1 part water

When a recipe calls for "basic simple syrup", it means "thick" or equal parts of sugar to water. 

Simple syrup guarantees that you'll never have the graininess found in imperfectly dissolved sugar mixtures, and, it's used for more things than you might think:  

Bartenders use it to sweeten drinks like iced tea, as well as fruit drinks and alcohol-based cocktails. Bakers use it to moisten babas and sponge cakes, as well as glaze cookies.  It's also the secret to perfect sorbet.  Do not be inclined to purchase it because:  they don't call it "simple"  syrup for nothing! 

To make 3 cups of Basic Simple Syrup:

PICT0002In a 3-quart saucier or saucepan, place:

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently.  Adjust heat to a steady simmer and cook for 30-60 seconds.  Remove from heat, cool to room temperature and transfer, via a funnel, to a 1-quart measuring container, bottle or mason jar. Stored in the refrigerator, simple syrup keeps indefinitely!

How to:  Make Basic Simple Syrup (Sugar Syrup):  Recipe makes 3 cups.

Special Equipment List:  3-quart saucier or saucepan; 1-quart measuring continer w/tight fitting lid, or, a bottle or mason jar; funnel

PICT0010Cook's Note:  In my kitchen, sorbet is the primary use for simple syrup and I keep it on hand all Summer. In the case of frozen applications, they freeze faster, without forming ice crystals, if the simple syrup is cold, so, I recommend making it several hours or a day in advance of making sorbet.  

To read my recipe for ~ Just What the Doctor Ordered:  Kiwi-Lime Sorbet ~, click into Categories 6, 20 or 22!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

07/12/2012

~ Just What the Doctor Ordered: Kiwi-Lime Sorbet ~

PICT0010I'm not sick or anything, just a bit overwhelmed.  Here in Happy Valley, when the 4th of July festivities come to a close, there is precious little time to relax.  Yesterday, people started pouring into State College for the annual Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.  In preparation for Arts Fest, many local residents arrange to take vacation, leaving town for exotic destinations.  For those of us locals who stay:  we "grocery up", making sure that all shopping is done well in advance (as traveling is not as quick and easy as we are accustomed to, and, parking anywhere is a veritable nightmare).  It's also not unusual for us to get unexpected guests (old friends, acquaintences and or alumni who are back in town just for "The Fest"), so it's in our best interest to buy a few extra items like chicken breasts, a rack or two of ribs, and a 12-pack or two of our favorite beverages, just in case the doorbell rings!

6a0120a8551282970b015433bda8e2970c-320wiA bit about the CPFA:  This five-day, carnivalesque event lasts from Wednesday thru Sunday and attracts over 125,000 to our town. It encompasses almost all of the downtown shopping district, zig-zagging through streets, alleys and large portions of Penn State's main campus.  Besides meandering through the streets gazing at endless booths of arts and crafts, visitors can relax, eat and drink from a large selection of street food booths too.  There's something for everybody at "The Fest"!

PICT0006When I say, "just what the doctor ordered", having just come off the 4th of July weekend (and more blueberries from Joe's garden than I could almost handle), and, The Fest weekend ahead of me (and a tree full of peaches just about ready to pick), I want to relax and post something deliciously easy today... just, plain, easy!

PICT0008A few days ago I posted my recipe for ~ Blueberry-Kiwi-Watermelon Salad on Baby Greens w/White Balsamic Vinaigrette ~ (found in Categories 2, 4, 8, 10 or 14). Yesterday, I prepared it again for my Kitchen Encounter's 28th WHVL-TV cooking segment, which airs Sunday mornings at 11:30 on their Centre of It All Show (ch. 14)!

PICT0013As a result of the shoot, I have a few of those "brown 'n fuzzy on the outside", "green 'n tart on the inside", cute little kiwi fruit leftover in my refrigerator.  I love kiwi (which FYI, are technically a berry) and I can't think of anything more fun to do today than to mix up one of my favorite Summer desserts: Kiwi-lime sorbet.  On a side note, my husband is currently trying to grow these in our backyard, so, I figured I better start practicing my kiwi recipes now! Besides kiwi and limes, you'll need: 

Simple Syrup:  They don't call it "simple" for nothing!

PICT0002If you're not a bartender or pastry chef, you might never have heard of it. I profess to being neither, but, I do dabble enough in both cocktail making and baking to keep a bottle of this very useful mixture in my refrigerator most of the time!  

A bit about simple syrup:  Appropriately named, it is simply a mixture of sugar and water in various ratios (thin, 1:3; medium 1:2; thick 1:1), cooked just long enough to dissolve the sugar and make a very clear, light syrup.  What is does is:  guarantee that you'll never have the graininess found in imperfectly dissolved sugar mixtures.  When making frozen desserts, they will freeze faster, without forming any ice crystals, if the ingredients are all kept cold, so, I recommend making the syrup several hours or a day in advance of making this sorbet.  Kept on hand in the refrigerator, it has an endless shelf life too!

PICT0002~ Step 1. To make 3 cups of simple syrup, in a 3-quart, saucier or saucepan, place:

2  cups water

2 cups sugar

~ Step 2.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently.  Adjust heat to a steady simmer and cook for 30-60 seconds.  Remove from heat, cool, transfer to a 1-quart measuring container and refrigerate several hours or overnight.  Store unused syrup in refrigerator.

It's time to make the sorbet!

"Sorbet" (sor-BAY) is the French word for "sherbet".  Italians call it "sorbetto".  Sorbet differs from ice cream or gelato in that it never contains milk or other dairy products.  Sherbet, on the other hand, sometimes does contain milk, egg whites or gelatin.  Culinarily, sorbet is thinner than sherbet, and not as granular as ices or granitas, but, nowadays, not too many people split hairs over these details.  The beautiful, silky texture of a sorbet is at its best when freshly made and still soft.  It should never be rock hard and should always be free of ice crystals. Sorbet is either served in a small amounts (2-3 teaspoons), as a palate cleanser/refresher between courses at a meal, or, in a larger quantity, as a light dessert! 

PICT0007About 15-16 years ago I invested in a rather expensive, Italian-made, Simac gelato machine, bought several cookbooks dedicated to frozen desserts and even took a class about it.  This is a very substantial piece of equipment that has its own freezing mechanism. Once I prepare my ingredients, in about an hour, it does everything short of scooping it out for me.  I won't lie, I love this machine and it has a place of honor on my kitchen counter.  I can, however, state, that is all about the recipe, not the machine, so whatever device you are using, just follow the manufacturer's instructions and proceed with my recipe!

PICT0012For the sorbet:

1  pound peeled and coarsely chopped kiwi, chilled (depending on their size, this will be 6-7 kiwi)

juice from 2 large limes

1  cup simple syrup, chilled

PICT0022~ Step 1. Place kiwi in work bowl of food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Squeeze in the lime juice.

PICT0029 PICT0026~ Step 2. With motor running, puree kiwi, about 30-45 seconds.

~ Step 3.  With motor running, add the simple simple syrup through the feed tube, in a slow thin stream, and process about 10 seconds.

PICT0036Note:  You will have 3 cups of sorbet base. This mixture can be covered and refrigerated several hours prior to making the sorbet.  How convenient is that!

PICT0041~ Step 4.  From here on out, follow the directions that came with your ice cream maker.  Because my ice cream maker has a built-in freezing system, I am simply transferring all of the sorbet base to the work bowl of my ice cream maker.

~ Step 5.  I'll turn the machine on and let it churn/freeze for about 1 hour.  Voila: 

PICT0006Just What the Doctor Ordered:  Kiwi-Lime Sorbet:  Recipe yields 3 cups simple syrup and 1 quart sorbet.

PICT0019Special Equipment List:  3-quart saucier; large spoon; 1-quart measuring container w/tight fitting lid, or, a bottle or jar;  cutting board; paring knife; food processor; ice cream maker; ice cream scoop

Cook's Note:  You can find my recipe for ~ Sweet Heat: Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Ice Cream + Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Sauce!  Cha-Cha-Cha! ~, in Categories 6, 13, 20 or 22!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012) 

07/10/2012

~ Lemony Orzo & Shrimp Salad w/Cucumber, Feta & White Balsamic Vinaigrette, or: What I Cook for Me ~

PICT0011Every once in a while... scratch that.  Every once or twice a year, I have a day off.  I mean a real day off, just to wander around my own little paradise and do whatever I want.  What constitutes a real day off for me?  Here it is:  The housework, my blog and my e-mails need no immediate attention.  I have no appointments or commitments and my phone isn't ringing off the hook.  My husband is out-of-town for the day (and he took my mother-in-law with him... to visit her family). It's just me without makeup and three poodles... watching VOD, leafing through cooking magazines and having fun on Facebook!

PICT0004On a day as laid-back as this, I could easily have Chinese food or a pizza delivered, but I rarely do that. With the push of a button on the microwave, I could nuke any number of homemade entrees I have on hand in my freezer, but I rarely do that either.  What I like to do is, take a look in my pantry and a peek in my refrigerator and emerge with ingredients that appeal to me at that given moment and turn them into a quick meal... just for me.  Today I'm putting together a simple, quick-to-make salad using a couple of ingredients leftover from last weeks blog posts (white balsamic vinaigrette and feta cheese), and, cooked shrimp leftover from the 4th of July weekend.  What's more, this recipe will make enough to feed my family a light and refreshing picnic lunch tomorrow! 

PICT0003For the white balsamic vinaigrette:

1  cup white balsamic vinegar

1/2  cup vegetable oil

1/2  cup sugar

2  tablespoons Dijon mustard

~ Step 1.  In a 2-cup food storage container with a tight fitting lid, place all ingredients.  Vigorously shake until thoroughly combined. Set aside while preparing the salad as directed below.

Note:  Leftover dressing can be stored in the refrigerator indefinitely. Remove from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature prior to vigorously shaking and serving as directed in specific recipe.

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For four-six servings of salad:

2  cups orzo, cooked al dente, rinsed under cold water, well-drained

1  pound cooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails-off, chopped into bite-sized pieces

1  Kirby cucumber, peeled, seeded, quartered and sliced, about 1 1/2-2 cups

6  ounces Feta cheese, cut into small cubes, about 1 cup

1/2  cup thinly sliced green onion

1 1/2-2  tablespoons minced, fresh dill

1  cup white balsamic vinaigrette (from above recipe)

1/2  teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning

1 lemon, zest and juice 

additional dill sprigs for garnish

freshly ground peppercorn blend

6a0120a8551282970b0154327d024b970c-320wiA bit about Orzo:  Orzo (OHR-zoh) is a tiny rice-shaped pasta, slightly smaller in size than a pine nut.  It is a great substitution for rice and is a wonderful addition to hot soups and cold salads.  It is used a lot in both Greek and Italian cooking, and, "orzo" is the Italian word for "barley". I've posted several very special recipes featuring orzo on Kitchen Encounters.  Just enter "orzo" in the search on my home page! 

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~ Step 1. In an 8-quart stockpot bring 5 quarts of water to a boil. Gradually sprinkle in the orzo, adjust heat to a steady simmer and cook until al dente, about 6-8 minutes.

6a0120a8551282970b014e889de249970d-120wiDrain and rinse under cold water, using your fingers to stir the orzo to ensure it is cooled to below room temperature.

PICT0004~ Step 2.  Transfer the orzo to a 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Set aside to "dry" (meaning "free from moisture" not "dry out"), about 30-45 minutes.  While pasta is drying, prep all remaining ingredients as listed above.

PICT0002~ Step 3.  Place the orzo, shrimp, cucumber, feta, green onion and dill in a large mixing bowl.  Using a large rubber spatula, stir to thoroughly combine.

~ Step 4.  Add the lemon pepper seasoning to the white balsamic vinaigrette and vigorously shake.

~ Step 5.  Add all of the vinaigrette to the salad, stir to combine, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or overnight.

PICT0010Note:  While you might be inclined to add tomatoes or other vegetables to this salad (to add color), I don't recommend it.  This salad is scrumptious just as it is!  

If it's color you want, break out a colorful set of salad bowls.  These hand-made and hand-painted bowls are made by the artist Janis Childs of Key West, FL.  To order Janis's one-of-a-kind bowls:  janischildsdesigns@gmail.com!

At serving time, add the zest of 1 lemon and all of its juice.  Briefly toss and portion into 4-6 salad bowls.  Garnish with additional dill sprigs and freshly ground peppercorn blend:

PICT0005Lemony Orzo & Shrimp Salad w/Cucumber, Feta & White Balsamic Vinaigrette, or:  What I Cook for Me:  Recipe yields 8 cups or 4-6 servings.

Special Equipment List:  2-cup food storage container w/tight-fitting lid; 8-quart stockpot; colander; 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pan; parchment paper; cutting board; chef's knife; large rubber spatula; plastic wrap

6a0120a8551282970b014e88a2c586970d-800wiCook's Note:  For another one of my Summertime orzo salad recipes ~ A Chilled Meditterranean-Style Tuna & Orzo Salad ~ can be found in Categories 1, 2 & 14!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

07/08/2012

~ Blueberry Jam: The End of My Blueberries 2012! ~

6a0120a8551282970b0177433079db970dAll good things come to and end, and, now, it is the end of blueberry season.  Forgive me if I am not teary-eyed.  This has been a banner year for blueberries in our backyard, and, if you've been following Kitchen Encounters for the past week, you know I have saturated my blog with some scrumptious blueberry posts.  I've made blueberry buckle, blueberry pie, blueberry salad, and today, I'm calling it quits.  Why?  Well, when your family starts walking past blueberry desserts instead of eating them, it's time to quit posting and get out the jam pot!

PICT0008 6a0120a8551282970b015433b04b23970c-800wi PICT0006Blueberry Buckle!

Blueberry Pie!

Blueberry Salad!

 

6a0120a8551282970b015434038c57970c-320wiBlueberry Jam!

If you make a lot of jellies, jams, preserves, marmalades or chutney and conserve, you might want to consider a maslin pot.  This 10 1/2-quart pot is ideal for long, slow methods of food preparation.  It has a heavy bottom and wide, sloping sides which reduce the possibility of scorching and promotes evaporation.  Its heavy loop handle makes transporting a large quantity of hot food easy and safe.  This pot is fantastic for jams, soups, stews, chili, etc. (about $190.00).

PICT0002Blueberries are a pretty straighforward and self-explanatory fruit.  That being said, depending upon who picked them or where you bought them, there are always a few that have stems in them and a few that are over-ripe or mushy. Quickly sift through your berries, removing and discarding any stems, as well as throwing away any shriveled or mushy berries.

PICT00038  pounds blueberries

6  cups sugar

4  tablespoons blueberry schnapps

1  lemon, cut in half

2  packets liquid pectin

2  tablespoons salted butter

A bit about pectin:  It's a water-soluable, gelatinlike subtance (usually made from apples) used for thickening fruits that don't contain enough to thicken themselves.

PICT0004~ Step 1.  Place the blueberries in a large bowl.  Using your hands (I'm wearing a vinyl glove), squeeze the berries, until they are smashed into coarse bits and pieces.  Note: Alternative methods are to use a vegetable masher or a food processor.  I have tried both and take it from me, using your hands is the easiest, quickest and best way to get the proper chunky uniform consistency without pulverizing or over-processing them!

PICT0004~ Step 2.  Transfer the berries to an 8-10 quart, wide-bottomed pot.  Add the sugar and the blueberry schnapps.

PICT0010~ Step 3. Stir to combine and allow the mixture to rest for 20-30 minutes.  This will allow the sugar to dissolve completely.

PICT0003~ Step 4.  Briefly restir.  Mixture will be soupy and shiny.

PICT0008~ Step 5. Add butter. Squeeze lemon juice into pan and add rinds.  Over medium-high heat bring to a vigorous simmer, stirring occasionally.  Adjust heat to a rapid, steady simmer and cook fo 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

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PICT0002~ Step 6.  Add the pectin  and stir constantly until it is completely dissolved.  This will take about 3-5 minutes. Continue to simmer vigorously, stirring frequently for 15 more minutes...

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... or until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, is reduced slightly and leaving a tell-tale sugar ring around the sides of the pot.

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~ Step 7.  Turn the heat off and allow to rest, uncovered, for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, prior to portioning, cooling completely and refrigerating or freezing!

PICT0006Stored in my freezer, this will be enough jam for my family until next years blueberry season!

The End!!!

PICT0003Blueberry Jam:  The End of My Blueberries 2012!:  Recipe yields 12 cups jam.

Special Equipment List:  vinyl gloves (optional); 10-quart jam pot or 8-12-quart wide-bottomed stockpot; large spoon; ladle; freezer safe food storage containers

PICT0007Cook's Note:  We have a cherry tree in our backyard, and, at the end of June, I was bombarded by them too.  To read my recipe for ~ 'Tis True:  Sour Cherries Do Make the Best Jam ~, click into Categories 8, 9 or 22!

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

(Recipe Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

07/06/2012

~ Kitchen Encounters/WHVL Video Segment #28: Blueberries: Brioche Bread Pudding & A Fruit Salad ~

PICT0001It's been a banner year for blueberries here in Pennsylvania and this past week I posted two of my favorite blueberry recipes here on Kitchen Encounters.   PICT0006My recipe for ~ Blueberry Brioche Bread Pudding for Breakfast ~ can be found in Categories 5, 9 or 20.  My recipe for ~ Blueberry-Kiwi-Watermelon Salad on Baby Greens w/White Balsamic Vinaigrette (My Heatwave Salad!) ~ can be found in Categories 10 or 14!

If you'd like to watch my Kitchen Encounters TV segment, just click on the following link:

Blueberries: Brioche Bread Pudding & a Fruit Salad

To watch all of my other Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV cooking segments, go to the listing found on the left side of the home page of this blog, and, click on the blue title of any one, or:

Tune into WHVL-TV's Centre of It All Show, which airs every Sunday morning at 11:30AM on local Comast channel 14!

************

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

(Recipe, Commentary, Photos & Video courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

07/05/2012

~ Blueberry-Kiwi-Watermelon Salad on Baby Greens w/White Balsamic Vinaigrette (My heatwave salad!) ~

PICT0006The heatwave on the East Coast is well over a week old now and the 90-100 degree temperatures show no immediate signs of dropping.  My three poodles and I are lucky.  Our AC is functioning (as best it can) and our power has remained on, so, we've been holed up in a comfortable house watching movies and playing indoor "puppy games".... throwing and fetching tennis balls and toys down long hallways, and, barking at birds, butterflies, rabbits and squirrels through glass windows.  Joe's been picking up groceries for me on his way home from the office. While I welcome complete hibernation for a few frigid weeks during December thru February, I sort of resent captivity at this time of year, when the world outside is so lush, green and pretty!

It is so sunny and hot outside today, I've decided I don't even want to turn the coffee pot on.  I have some really nice, fresh, Summer fruit leftover from our 4th of July celebration and I'm going to use it to make one of my favorite "it's too hot to cook" salads.  Joe's coming home with some chicken breasts this evening, which he'll put on the grill.  This will be a delicious dinner tonight!

PICT0003Up until 5-6 years ago, Lemont, PA, (which is about 5 miles from us) had an upscale restaurant called The Victorian Manor.  Joe and I got married on January 4th, 1980. This is where we ate a very, very elegant after-wedding dinner (not a reception folks, there were only four of us). Until the year they closed their doors, Joe and I went back every year to celebrate our anniversary.  Eleven years ago, Joe surprised me by hosting a dinner party at "The Manor" for twelve people.  It was my 45th birthday and the date was August 10th.  The dinner was just lovely, but, what I most remember (after the champagne and hors d'oeuvres) was the first course:  an amazing, refreshing watermelon salad with a white balsamic vinaigrette.  This was a recipe I immediately set out to duplicate!  

PICT0008The difference between balsamic and white balsamic vinegar:

6a0120a8551282970b0153941b73c9970b-320wiA bit about balsamic vinegar: Balsamic vinegar was introduced to the USA in the late 1970's and quickly became the darling of restaurant chefs.  It is hard to believe that thirty-some years ago almost none of us in America had even heard of it.  This wonderful wine-based vinegar is still made in Modena, Italy, where it is aged in oak or other wooden kegs.  During the process, it takes on a mellow, full-bodied, slightly sweet flavor and a deep, reddish-brown color.  When a recipe calls for balsamic vinegar, there really is no good substitute for it.  When purchasing balsamic vinegar, look for brands that denote Modena or Reggio, which are the only two authentic versions.

6a0120a8551282970b015437ef5e4e970c-120wiThe Italian word "balsamico" means "balsam-like" or "curative".  There are two types of balsamic vinegar:  commercial and artisanal.  Artisanal balsamic vinegar is made by simmering and reducing the juice (or "must") of sweet, white Trebbiano grapes and aging it for at least 12 years in a succession of graduated-in-size wooden kegs made of various types of wood (oak, cherry, juniper and mulberry).  The vinegar maker works meticulously, transferring the ever-more concentrated vinegar down the line until a litre or two of finished vinegar emerges from the smallest barrel.  Artisanal varieties, which are quite pricey, are very complex and are used sparingly as a last minute flavoring.  A red label means the vinegar has been aged for at least 12 years, a silver label denotes 18 years, and, a gold label designates 25 years or more.

Commercial balsamic vinegar, which is much less expensive, is made by blending good wine vinegar, reduced juice ("must") and young balsamic vinegar.  It is then aged in the kegs that were used in the artisanal process.  It is used in salad dressings, dips, marinades and sauces.

PICT0006A bit about white balsamic vinegar:  White balsamic vinegar is a blend of white grape juice ("must") and white wine vinegar.  It is then cooked at a low temperature to avoid any darkening of the product.  Some producers age the vinegar in wooden kegs while others use stainless steel.  While dark and white balsamic vinegar have similar tastes, the dark balsamic tends to be sweeter and thicker.

From a personal standpoint, in culinary applications using delicate foods, white balsamic vinegar is preferable to dark because it does not overpower or dominate the dish being prepared.  While its flavor, when compared to dark balsamic, is understated, it provides the tartness of dark with a smoother flavor.  Furthermore, its clean, light appearance will not change the color of the dish being served!

It's time to make my sweet and savory heatwave salad!

PICT0003For the white balamic vinaigrette:

1  cup white balsamic vinegar

1/2  cup vegetable oil

1/2  cup sugar

2  tablespoons Dijon mustard

~ Step 1.  In a 2-cup food storage container with a tight-fitting lid, place all ingredients.  Vigorously shake until thoroughly combined. Set aside while preparing the salad as directed below.

Note:  Leftover dressing can be stored in the refrigerator indefinitely. Remove from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature prior to vigorously shaking and serving as directed in specific recipe.

PICT0004

 

For six servings of salad:

2  cups blueberries (1/3 cup per serving)

6 ripe kiwi, peeled and cut into 6-8 slices (1 kiwi per person)

12  cups watermelon chunks (2 cups per person) (1, 10-11 pound seedless watermelon, cut into 1/2" slices and chunked)

1 1/2 cups thinly shaved red onion (1/4 cup per person)

6  cups baby greens (1 cup per person)

1 1/2  cups small cubed or crumbled feta cheese, 3/4 cup for salad and 3/4 cup for garnishing salads

1  cup coarsely chopped and lightly toasted walnuts, 1/2 cup for salad and 1/2 cup for garnishing salads 

zest of 1 lemon, for garnishing salads

coarsely ground peppercorn blend, for garnishing salads

PICT0008~ Step 1.  Prep all ingredients as directed and pictured above.  For a personal touch and a pretty presentation, after you slice the watermelon, use a  1 1/2" cookie cutter to cut it into one or more shapes.  Kids (of all ages) just love this!  Note:  Even though these watermelons are labeled "seedless", they are not totally seedless, but, the seeds they contain are smaller, softer and easily digestable!

PICT0012~ Step 2.  Place the watermelon chunks in a large bowl.

~ Step 3.  Add the blueberries, kiwi, onion and 1 cup of vinaigrette. PICT0017Using a large rubber spatula, gently toss, until all ingredients are evenly coated in vinaigrette.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1-2 hours.

PICT0016While you can serve this salad alone as a starter course or a side-dish, grilled chicken is the perfect accompaniment... the vinagrette is amazing drizzled on top of it, and, it turns this simple salad into a full meal!

For the chicken (optional)

6  large, meaty, chicken breasts, on bones with skin, grilled to perfection (1 per person)

To serve,  place 1 cup of greens and 1 chicken breast on each of 6 serving plates.  Remove salad from refrigerator, add 1/2 of the feta and 1/2 of the walnuts.  Briefly retoss the salad, and, using a largeslotted spoon, distribute it on top of the greens on each plate.  Garnish each portion with a sprinkling of the remaining feta, walnuts, lemon zest and freshly ground peppercorn blend.  Serve remaining vinaigrette tableside or refrigerate to use at a later date: 

PICT0004Blueberry- Kiwi-Watermelon Salad on Baby Greens w/White Balsamic Vinaigrette (My Heatwave Salad!):  Recipe yields 6 servings and 2 cups of vinaigrette.

Special Equipment List:  2-cup measuring container w/tight-fitting lid and pourer top; cutting board; chef's knife; 1 1/2" cookie cutter(s) (optional); large rubber spatula; large slotted spoon; microplane grater

6a0120a8551282970b0167645909d0970b-800wiCook's Note: For another one of my vinaigrettes, which uses dark balsamic vinegar, you can find my recipe for ~ A Luxurious Lemon and Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette ~ in Categories 2, 8 or 21!  

~ Reducing Balsamic Vinegar: To Create a Savory Syrup, Sauce or Glaze for Dipping or Drizzling ~ can be found in Categories 8 or 15. I keep this super-easy-to-make condiment on hand all Summer long.  It's a great dip for grilled vegetables, and, a lovely glaze for chicken or fish! 

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos Courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

07/04/2012

~ Kitchen Encounters/WHVL Video Segment #27: Patriotic Macaroni & Cheese and Macaroni Salad ~

6a0120a8551282970b0168e7fe5549970c-800wiHappy 4th of July!  It's America's day to celebrate!  Did you know that macaroni and cheese had its humble beginning in the kitchen of Thomas Jefferson?  Did you ever wonder why Yankee Doodle stuck a feather in his cap and called it "macaroni"?   6a0120a8551282970b01543371a7b3970c-800wiTo get the answers:  You can find my recipe for ~ Creamy Baked Five-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese ~ in Categories 4, 14, 17 & 18.  And, my ~ 4th of July yankee Doodle Dandy Macaroni Salad ~ can be found in Categories 4, 10, 11 & 14!

If you'd like to watch my Kitchen Enounters TV segment, just click on the following link:

Patriotic Macaroni & Cheese and Macaroni Salad

To watch all of my other Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV cooking segments, go to the listing found on the left side of the home page of this blog, and, click on the blue title of any one, or:

Tune in to WHVL-TV's Centre of It All Show, which airs every Sunday morning at 11:30AM on local Comast channel 14!

************

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

(Recipe, Commentary, Photo & Video courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

07/03/2012

~ Blueberry Brioche Bread Pudding for Breakfast ~

PICT0001I know, I know, I know... the bread pudding police have officially classified bread pudding as a baked dessert.  That being said, some rules are made to be broken and, like pancakes and waffles, I prefer hearty, comforting bread pudding as a main course start to my day, rather than an excessive dessert ending to it (not that there is anything wrong with that).  I love it when I go to a restaurant and see a sweet or savory bread pudding on their breakfast or brunch menu. I love the look on my guests faces when I serve them a sweet or savory bread pudding for breakfast. Yes folks, savory bread puddings, which are as versatile as quiche, can contain all sorts of meats, cheeses and vegetables ranging from asparagus to zucchini.  When I indulge in bread pudding for breakfast, I get a warm, fuzzy feeling all over that says, "today is going to be a very nice day".  What's more, it's easy to make and can be mixed together the night before!

6a0120a8551282970b015391cb26eb970b-320wiA bit about brioche and my bread machine brioche:  Brioche is a soft, light-textured, sweetened, yeast bread that is enriched with milk, butter and eggs.  This French classic is traditionally baked in a deep, round, fluted tin that is smaller at its flat base and wider at its top, which encourages the dough to rise.  All brioche does take time to prepare, usually requiring three, rather than just two risings. Brioche is usually a delicacy served warm at breakfast or teatime.

6a0120a8551282970b0154359e9dea970c-320wiIn my opinion, brioche is the best bread known to mankind.  In today's world, even I (who is a skilled bread baker) no longer have the time to devote the better part of one day each week to baking brioche for my family.  For that reason, I was determined to make close friends with my bread machine and develop a brioche recipe for it that enables me to have it on-hand every day of the week.  Yes, with less than 5 minutes of prep time, I now have "real" brioche in my kitchen at all times.  You can too!  

My recipe for ~ Bread Machine Basics & My Brioche Recipe ~ can be found in Categories 5, 15 or 18.  Pictured here is a freshly-baked 2-pound loaf!

PICT0007Bread pudding is the perfect use for leftover brioche and for my recipe, you'll need between 16-20 ounces (1-1 1/4 pounds), or, half of a 2-pound loaf, sliced into 1/2" cubes. The bread must be 2-3 days old.  

PICT0005I've kept this half loaf wrapped in plastic in my refrigerator with the full intention of making bread pudding!

PICT0002~ Step 1.  Line a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan with parchment paper and spray the inside of 8, deep, 2-cup ramekins with no-stick cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

~ Step 2.  Cube the bread as directed above and place about 3/4 cup of cubes in the bottom of each prepared ramekin.

PICT0004~ Step 3.  You'll need 4 cups of blueberries.  Place 1/2 cup of berriess in each ramekin.    

PICT0004Gently press down on the berries, to create a headspace for the final layer of bread cubes.

PICT0003~ Step 4.  Top each ramekin with an additional 1/2 cup of bread cubes.

PICT0006Note: Because the bread is going to brown as it bakes, at this point I like to take a moment to turn as many cubes as possible crust side down.

PICT0004~ Step 5.  In an 8-cup measuring container with a pourer spout, whisk together:

1  cup sugar

8  large eggs + 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature

2 1/2  cups heavy or whipping cream, at room temperature

2  teaspoons pure lemon extract

1  tablespoon pure vanilla extract

PICT0008~ Step 6.  Slowly pour the egg mixture into the ramekins, giving it plenty of time to drizzle down through all the cracks and crevaces until it almost reaches the fill line/inside lip of each ramekin.

~ Step 7.  Set aside for 30-45 minutes. During this time, occasionally press down on the tops to help the top bread cubes to absorb the custard mixture.

PICT0003~ Step 8.  Sprinkle Sugar 'n Cinnamon evenly over the tops of all.  Wipe any excess from the rim of each ramekin as you work.

PICT0010

 

 

 

 

~ Step 9.  Bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.  The bread pudding will be nicely browned, puffed up, oozing blueberry juices & some custard, but the pudding will be set!

Serve warm, with or without freshly whipped cream or ice cream. Leftover bread pudding reheats nicely.  Cover with plastic wrap and reheat gently in the microwave!

PICT0001Blueberry Brioche Bread Pudding for Breakfast:  Recipe yields 8 hearty servings.

Special Equipment List:  17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; 8, 2-cup size ramekins; cutting board; serrated bread knife; 8-cup measuring container; whisk

PICT0008Cook's Note:  For another delicious blueberry breakfast idea, you can find my recipe for ~ An Old-Fashioned Very-Berry Blueberry Buckle ~ in Categories 6 or 9.  FYI: A "buckle" is a coffeecake that contains fruit or berries!

Extra Cook's Note:  Bread pudding can be assembled, covered and refrigerated overnight. Remove it from the refrigerator about 1-1 1/2 hours prior to baking as directed.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

07/01/2012

~ An Old-Fashioned Very-Berry Blueberry Buckle ~

PICT0005I've barely had time to exhale between cherry and blueberry season this year,  and, it's a banner year for both here in our Happy Valley backyard.  Last week, after picking 27 pounds of pie cherries, I finished up my June blog posts with ~ 'Tis True:  Sour Cherries Do Make the Best Jam ~.  You can find that recipe in Categories 8, 9 & 22.  Today, I start my July posts with blueberries, which are starting to ripen at a quick pace:

PICT0008That being said, today I was only able to harvest a few cups.  This quantity will change to quarts over the next few days, so stay tuned.  When faced with the first few cups of blueberries, or, the lasts few cups of the season, I turn to an old family recipe, which my grandmother called a blueberry buckle.  "What is a buckle", you ask? 

PICT0008A buckle is a buttery-rich, one-layer, streusel-topped cake made with lots of berries in the batter. If that sounds suspiciouly like a coffeecake to you, I'll explain the difference the way Baba (my grandmother) explained it to me:  A buckle is a coffeecake that contains berries.  While both rise and puff up as they bake, as a buckle cools, the liquid in the berries causes it to sink a bit, or "buckle" in the center, leaving a few moist and juicy berries poking through the crisp streusel topping.  Coffeecakes, because they do not contain berries, remain domed! 

Our foregrandmothers it seems, invented a lot of unique words to define our American heritage berry desserts.  Here's a quick overview:  A crisp is a berry mixture that is traditionally topped with a crispy streusel.  If a crisp has a bottom crust, it is called a crunch.  It you want to turn a crisp or a crunch into a betty, the fruit would be layered between slices of buttered bread or bread crumbs and spices.  To turn a crisp into a cobbler, mix up a rough, "cobbled up" biscuit-like topping and plop/drop it on top of the fruit.  For a grunt or a slump (which is very similar to cobbler), cook the berries on the stovetop and listen to them make an unusual grunting sound while they cook, then watch them slump under the weight of the biscuit topping!

PICT0002For the batter

8  tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature (1 stick)

2  cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

2  teaspoons baking powder

1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

1  large egg, at room temperature

1/2  cup milk

2  tablespoons blueberry schnapps

1  tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract

zest from 1 lemon

1 1/2  pounds fresh blueberries, about 5 cups

PICT0003For preparing pan:

1 1/2  teaspoons additional salted butter

1  tablespoon additional flour

~ Step 1.  To prepare the pan, butter the inside bottom and sides of a 9" springform pan.  Add the flour. Shake the pan to dust/evenly distribute the flour.  Tap out and discard any excess flour.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

PICT0006For the streusel topping:

1  cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

1/4  cup firmly-packed, dark brown sugar

1  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

8  tablespoons salted butter, cold (taken right out of the refrigerator) 

PICT0013~ Step 2.  To prepare the strusel topping, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Using a pastry blender and a sharp paring knife, cut the butter into the flour mixture until coarse crumbs form.  

Set aside, at room temperature, while preparing the batter according to the following directions:

PICT0005~ Step 3.  To prepare the batter, in a small bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a 1-cup measuring container, combine the milk, schnapps, lemon juice and vanilla.

PICT0007~ Step 4.  In a large mixing bowl, on high speed of electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, for about 1 minute.  Beat in the egg, then the milk mixture.

PICT0015~ Step 5. Add the flour mixure.  On low speed, beat until a thick batter has formed, about 1 more minute.

PICT0026 PICT0018~ Step 6. Using the spatula, fold all of the blueberries into the batter.

PICT0032~ Step 7. Spoon batter into pan, distributing and spreading it evenly.  Spoon streusel topping evenly over the top of batter.

PICT0005~ Step 8.  Bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven 50-55 minutes, or until a cake tester (or toothpick) inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven, place on a cooling rack and cool, in pan, for 1 1/2 hours.

Note:  Prior to unfastening the clamp and removing the sides of the pan, remember to run a sharp knife around the perimeter of the cake, to ensure it is completely free of the sides!

 

PICT0001An Old-Fashioned Very-Berry Blueberry Buckle:  Recipe yields 1, 9" cake or 8-10 servings.

Special Equipment List:  9" springform pan; pastry blender; paring knife; 1-cup measuring container; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; cake tester or toothpick

6a0120a8551282970b015433b04b23970c-800wiCook's Note:  Want to make a pie using fresh or frozen blueberries, as well as get my tips on how to freeze blueberries?  Click into Category 6 to get my recipe for ~ The True-Blue, Very-American Blueberry Pie ~!  Perfect for the 4th of July!!!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)