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13 posts from January 2015

01/31/2015

~ Sugar 'n Cinnamon Toasted-Pound-Cake Sticks ~

IMG_2137This simply-delicious short-and-sweet, playful post is for anyone who loves cinnamon toast with their coffee or tea in the morning -- just looking at the cute little Domino Sugar 'n Cinnamon container makes me smile.  This sweet 'n aromatic powdery concoction, when sprinkled atop a pat or two of sweet cream butter melting over a hot, crispy piece of toast is blissful.     

IMG_2007My grandmother had a penchant for sweets, sometimes finding ways to make sweet things even sweeter. She had a "sweet tooth".  One of the things my she did on occasion was treat a piece of 'Plain Jane' pound cake like a slice of bread. She would pop a slice into the toaster (later in life she placed it flat in a toaster oven), then butter it and sprinkle it with sugar 'n cinnamon.  

Two days ago I made ~ A Sweet Cream Cake:  A Dream of an Easy Cake ~. Sometimes called a IMG_1976whipping cream cake, the butterfat in heavy cream replaces butter in these cakes (which is why they don't technically qualify for pound cake status), but, the end result is essentially identical -- nothing fancy, just delicious and dense enough to make it suitable for toasting.  I'm just following in my grandmother's footsteps!

This really isn't a recipe, so just follow along while I play with my cake:

IMG_2027To make six cake-sticks, using a serrated bread knife, cut out a 4" x 3" rectangular piece of cake.  

IMG_2030Slice off the crusts (like you would do to sandwich bread), stand the cake up on its side, slice it down the center (to form two 4" x 3" halves), and, lastly, slice each half into three sticks.

IMG_2035Each one of my sticks are 4" L x 3/4" W x 3/4"H. Note:  If using loaf-shaped pound cake, start with 3/4" slices, cut off IMG_2037the crusts and cut into sticks.

Place the sticks on a rack in an appropriately-sized baking pan that has been lined with parchment.  Get the Sugar 'n Cinnamon out of the pantry and bring 3-4 tablespoons salted butter to room temperature.   The butter needs to be very soft -- to hasten the softening process, cut it into 1/4" slices or small cubes (it'll be ready in 5-10 minutes).

IMG_2050 IMG_2057Lightly butter the top of each stick with butter, then sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar.  

IMG_2076Place 4" underneath preheated broiler for 2 1/2-3 minutes on the the first side.  Remove from oven.

IMG_2083Sticks will be golden brown and bubbly.  Flip the sticks over on their bottom sides.  Repeat the buttering and sprinkling process.  Return to broiler until golden, about 1 1/2-2 minutes on the second side. Remove from oven.

Repeat this same process with the third and fourth sides, knowing that they will brown much quicker, about 30-45 seconds per side.  Remove from oven.  Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

IMG_2124Two Words:  Simply Irresistible!

IMG_2144Sugar 'n Cinnamon Toasted-Pound-Cake Sticks:  Recipe yields instructions to make as many toasted-pound-cake sticks as you want.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; serrated bread knife; baking pan; parchment paper; cooling rack

6a0120a8551282970b014e8853ad68970dCook's Note:  Another breakfast food I must have Sugar 'n Cinnamon on is oatmeal.  You can find ~ It's a Mom Thing:  My Mother's Perfect Oatmeal ~ recipe in Categories 9, 11 or 16.  What a great way to start a cold day.  And guess what?  Crunchy Toasted-Pound-Cake Sticks go great with a big bowl of steaming hot oatmeal!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015) 

01/29/2015

~ A Sweet Cream Cake: A Dream of an Easy Cake ~

IMG_2007Guess who's coming to dinner?  Guess who needs a dessert pronto -- that'd be me. Simple, straightforward and scrumptious, this poundcake-ish yet light, dream-of-an-easy-cake recipe should be committed to the memory of every cook who ever entertained the thought of a boxed mix in a time of crisis.  Sometimes called whipping cream cake, because heavy cream replaces the butter or shortening (which is why it technically doesn't quality for pound cake status), you really can get this cake mixed in the time it takes to preheat your oven to 350 degrees!

Super fancy?  Not at all.  Super Good?  Yes it is!

IMG_1976And, if you're thinking "Plain Jane vanilla cake" -- not so fast!

IMG_1979OK.  I'll give you that one.  It's plain.  It's the "Plain Jane" of vanilla cakes, which makes it the perfect foil for anything you want to serve it with:  fresh berries, whipped cream, or, simply a light dusting of confectioners' sugar (whatever you've got on hand in your refrigerator or pantry). It's somewhat versatile -- within reason.  Besides basic vanilla extract, it plays well with other flavors (almond, coconut, rum, lemon or orange to name a few), and, I've even baked it in two 8" round pans, and served it with lemon curd sandwiched between the layers.  It's unpretentious yet impressive.  Admit it, how many people do you know who can bake a seriously yummy cake from scratch with little time and almost no advanced warning!

If I knew you were coming I'd have baked a cake!!!

IMG_19134  large eggs

2  cups sugar

3 1/2  cups cake flour

4  teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2  teaspoons salt

2  cups heavy or whipping cream

1  tablespoon pure vanilla extract

no-stick spray, for preparing pan

~ Step 1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13" x 9" x 2" pan w/no-stick.

IMG_1915~ Step 2.  Getting organized:  

Place the eggs in a large bowl.  

Measure and have ready the sugar.

In a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients:  cake flour, baking powder and salt.

Stir the vanilla extract into the cream (I just add the vanilla to the 2-cup container and give it a little shake to combine.

IMG_1925 IMG_1923~ Step 3.  In a large bowl, starting on low speed of electric mixer and working up to high, beat the eggs until thick, about 6 minutes.

Note:  Don't take any short cuts with this step -- beat for the entire 6 minutes.  It does make a difference.

IMG_1935 IMG_1929~ Step 4. Lower the mixer speed and begin adding the sugar, in three-four increments, mixing thoroughly, about 30-45 seconds after each addition.  

Note:  Once again, take the time to mix well after each addition as this gives the sugar time to dissolve.

IMG_1947 IMG_1940                               ~ Step 5.  On medium-speed of mixer, alternating the cream mixture with the dry ingredients, mix until all of the cream and all of the dry ingredients have been added, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula almost constantly.  This will take about 3 minutes.  Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top.

IMG_1960~ Step 6.  Bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes until golden and puffed through to the center, and, a cake tester inserted in the center in 2-3 spots comes out clean.  Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool completely prior to slicing and serving, about 1 hour.

Cake baking 101 couldn't be any easier, smell more heavenly...

IMG_1968... look prettier or taste any better!

IMG_2022A Sweet Cream Cake:  A Dream of an Easy Cake:  Recipe yields 12-16 servings.

Special Equipment List:  13" x 9" x 2" baking pan; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; toothpick or cake tester

IMG_6014Cook's Note:  Before you ask, you can't substitute all-purpose flour for cake flour in this recipe.  If you don't keep cake flour in your pantry, you should.  Read my post ~ Flour Facts:  All-Purpose, Bread, Cake and Pastry ~.  You can find it in Categories 5, 6, 7, 15 or 16!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)

01/27/2015

~ Super Sunday Spud Skins of the Taco Tater Type ~

IMG_1879Potato skins -- a blast from my pub grub past.  Back in the '80's and 90's, one couldn't go out for a Happy Hour brew or two without encountering this snack on the menu -- right next to the Buffalo wings w/blue cheese dip, chicken fingers w/honey-mustard, nachos w/salsa and deep-fried mushrooms or zucchini w/marinara sauce.  If you traveled in a pack, pitchers of beer were ordered, everyone at the table selected one appetizer and you all shared.  Those were such good times -- shooting pool, throwing darts, swilling beer and eating crispy potato skins!

Suds 'n Spuds = perfect game-day pub-grub!!!

That was the suds-'n-spuds period of my life, and, I was the member of our group who always ordered the spuds.  The best ones were at Champs Sports Grill, just a few blocks from where we lived at the time -- theirs were extra crispy on the outside, nicely salted too, and, ooey-gooey cheddar cheesey to a fault.  They were my Friday-night Happy-Hour indulgence food.

PICT0094I remember my inital thought being "how practical", "making use of the potato skins". But then -- when I decided to make them at home for my husband and sons, I revised my thinking a bit: I can only make potato skins on days when I have a purpose for the baked centers. Allow me to recommend my ~ Baked Potato, Roasted Garlic and Cheddar Soup ~.  You can find the recipe in Categories 2, 11 or 22, and, it conveniently uses centers from eight baked Russet potatoes!

6a0120a8551282970b0163055c04a6970dA bit about the Russet potato: Known as the Idaho or Burbank (after their developer, horticulturist Luther Burbank), these potatoes are generically labeled "baking". They're long, slightly-rounded, and, have thick rough skins, which when baked are not only edible, are quite tasty. Their low moisture and high starch content gives them superior baking and frying qualities, but they don't do well when boiled.  For more details, read my post ~ Dear Perfectly Baked Potato:  Your Crispy Skin and Fluffy Center, Make My Steaks Taste Even Better ~ in Categories 4, 15 or 20!

For the crispy potato skins:

6-8 whole, even-sized Russet potatoes (Note:  I choose smaller Russets when serving just the skins (with the classic cheddar cheese melted inside each one then served topped with bacon bits, sour cream and thinly-sliced green onions) as an appetizer.  I choose larger Russets when I'm making my fully-loaded knife-and-fork taco tater skins -- nobody can eat just one.)  

4  tablespoons vegetable oil or bacon fat, for every 6-8 potatoes

4  tablespoons melted butter, for every 6-8 potatoes

4  tablespoons coarse sea salt, for every 6-8 potatoes

2  cups grated cheddar cheese, 2 generous tablespoons per potato half

IMG_9151Toppings for my fully-loaded taco tater skins:

2  cups ~ Kids Stuff:  Jesse's Favorite Tex-Mex Beef Taco Filling ~ made with ~ Mel's Homemade Tex-Mex-Style Taco Seasoning ~ (Note:  The star of my fully-loaded taco tater skins is my filling made with my homemade seasoning.  You can find both recipes in Categories 13 & 20. Make whatever makes you happy!)

sour cream, guacamole & salsa

cilantro leaves and/or thinly-sliced scallion tops, for garnish

6a0120a8551282970b0163055c3d7f970d~ Step 1.  Using a vegetable brush, thoroughly scrub the desired number of potatoes under tepid water, to remove any dirt.  I'm making six today.  Pat them dry in a few paper towels.  Using a fork, prick the skin of each one 16-18 times evenly around the surface.  

Note:  Pricking the potatoes is the step that allows steam to escape as the potatoes bake, which results in light, fluffy centers.

PICT2736~ Step 2. One at a time, place each potato in a shallow bowl or on a plate.  Drizzle each with about 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil, and, using a pastry brush, paint the entire surface of each potato with oil.

Note:  If you are making the classic potato skins with melted cheddar, bacon bits and sour cream, paint the potato skins with the bacon fat rather than the vegetable oil.  Or, if you keep bacon fat on hand, feel free to use it instead of vegetable oil for fully-loaded taco tater skins.

PICT2739Step 3.  Line a baking pan with parchment paper.  A 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" pan will hold 6 potatoes, a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" pan will hold 8-12. Depending upon the size of the pan, sprinkle  2-4 tablespoons of coarse sea salt over the parchment. Arrange the oil-coated potatoes, well apart, on the prepared pan. Sprinkle more salt over the tops, about 1/2-1 teaspoon atop each.

PICT2737~ Step 5.  Bake on center rack of preheated 400 degree oven about:

30-40 minutes for small potatoes

60-70 minutes for large potatoes

Potatoes should be very soft and tender when pierced with a fork, and, slightly-crisp on the outside. Remove from oven and let rest until cool enough to handle with your hands, about 20-30 minutes.

IMG_1686 IMG_1696~ Step 6. Using a serrated knife, cut potatoes in half horizontally and open them up like a book.  Using a paring knife and a tablespoon carefully scoop out the soft center from each half, leaving about 1/4" of potato around the sides and on the bottoms.  Note:  Use the knife to mark a 1/4" line around the sides -- not so deep as to pierce the skin, just to loosen the proper amount.

IMG_1702 IMG_1698~ Step 7. Return all of the potato skins to the pan, insides up. Melt butter in microwave.  Brush insides with butter, flip potatoes over and brush outsides.  Return to oven and bake, 6 minutes.  Note: I'm doing mine in two batches of six tonight because I have to take  a series of photographs.  It's complicated.

IMG_1714 IMG_1708                                          ~ Step 8. Remove potatoes from oven. Flip them over, insides up.  Return to oven and cook until edges are turning brown, 12-15 minutes.  This is an important step.  Give them all the time they need to crisp up.

IMG_1744 IMG_1719Step 9. Remove potatoes from oven and immediately (no time to waste here) add the grated cheddar.  

IMG_1721Return to oven and bake until cheese melts, 3-4 minutes.  Remove from oven and transfer to a paper-towel lined serving dish.

Dollop taco filling atop molten cheese... 

IMG_1760... add toppings & serve immediately!

IMG_1842This spud's for you: 

IMG_1886Super Sunday Spud Skins of the Taco Tater Type:  Recipe yields 12 fully-loaded taco tater skins, or, 12 appetizer servings or 6 main-course servings.

Special Equipment List:  vegetable brush; fork; pastry brush; baking pan; parchment paper; serrated bread knife; paring knife; tablespoon; 1-cup measuring container; cheese grater

IMG_8667Cook's Note:  If it's not a spud your interested in while swilling your suds, perhaps I can interest you in my ~ Tequila-Lime Skirt-Steak Fajitas (Tacos al Carbon) ~.  These are the original tacos, the ones made by our Tex-Mex ancestors. You can find this winning recipe in Categories 2, 10, 13, 17, 19 or 20!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos Courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015) 

01/25/2015

~ Philadelphia's Famous Cheesesteaks a la Melanie~

6a0120a8551282970b015390a44c89970b-800wiIf you have never eaten a cheesesteak sandwich in Philadelphia proper, you've never eaten a cheesesteak.  Like the soft pretzel, the iconic Philly cheesesteak just tastes better in The City of Brotherly Love.  Whether you're standing outside on a sticky-hot sidewalk next to a street vendor in Summer, or, standing inside against a counter in a sweaty-windowed sandwich shop in Winter, the experience, on several levels, cannot be duplicated elsewhere. Many have tried, many have come remarkably close, but everyone agrees:  Philadelphia owns this sandwich.

Philly041907-002-PatsKingofSteaksA bit about the Philadelphia Cheesesteak:  Back in the 1930's, Philadelphians Pat and Harry Olivieri, at their hot dog stand near South Philly's Italian market, invented this beloved sandwich of chopped steak piled high on a hoagie roll.  The sandwich became so popular, Pat opened up a restaurant of his own, Pat's King of Steaks, which still operates today. Olivieri claims that shortly thereafter, provolone cheese was 1024px-Genos_Steaksadded by the manager, "Cocky Joe" Lorenza.  Cheez Whiz, first marketed in 1952, was not available in the early versions of the cheesesteak sandwich, but it's now a common option, and, at Pat's, it is considered the "topping of choice". Directly across the street from Pat's King of Steaks is Geno's Steaks. Only in Philadelphis could two businesses located directly across the street from each other stay open all day and all night selling cheesesteaks and thrive.  

Located on Passyunk Avenue near Ninth Street (in the heart of South Philly), their pleasant, humorously-boastful friendly-rivalry has brought well-deserved national-acclaim (and lots of celebrities and tourists) to both establishments.  That said, Jim's Steaks, at 4th and South Street, is a longtime favorite of locals (and me), so, I thought I'd name drop that one too!

Trivia:  Eating a cheesesteak at midnight is a Philly tradition!

The Philly cheesesteak experience is more than just eating chopped steak with melted cheese on a roll.  These sandwiches, an Italian-American invention, are a civic icon -- a cultural obsession.  They're portable, real-deal fast-food, and, they're available in cafes, steak shops, delicatessens and pizzerias, as well as food trucks or street vendors, throughout the city and suburbs.  These are the standard upon which all others are judged, so, no matter where you are right now, if you are in search of the perfect Philly-style cheesesteak (even in Philadelphia they vary a bit from vendor to vendor), here are a few cheesy things you seriously need to know:

6a0120a8551282970b014e88632075970d#1.  The meat.  This is not frozen Steak-Ums.  A Philly cheesesteak is always made with high-quality, nicely-marbled, thinly-sliced, rib-eye steak.  For example:  this rib-eye would be cut lengthwise into 4-5 thin steaks.  The sliced meat is cooked rather quickly on a large lightly-greased flat-top griddle.  As IMG_3690the meat cooks it gets rough chopped into chunks and pieces.  

#2.  The options.  Each sandwich is made-to-order.  You decide what you want on yours (options vary amongst vendors):  sauted onions, peppers and/or mushrooms; American, provolone or Cheez Whiz, and; "steak sauce", which in Philly lingo means a tomato IMG_6778product similar to pizza sauce. 

#2.  The roll.  In Philadelphia, cheesesteaks are placed on an Amoroso or Italian Vilotti-Pisanelli roll, with the Amoroso being the most famous (and my favorite). They are long, 10"-12", thinnish and medium-textured -- neither fluffy nor soft, and decidedly not hard.  But, outside of Philly, they are hard to find.  Thankfully, I have a source.

#3.  The etiquette of eating.  When properly prepared, a cheesesteak artfully balances flavor with texture and "drip factor".  Yes, if it ain't dripping juices, it ain't a Philly cheesesteak.  In order to avoid ruining their clothing, Philadelphians have develped a technique affectionately referred to as the "Philadelphia Lean".  This involves standing and bending forward -- essentially you take your mouth to the sandwich instead of bringing the sandwich to your mouth.

#5.  The etiquette of ordering.  This takes a little bit of practice, so I'll start with just a few words of advice:  know what you want before you walk up to the counter to order.  Philadelphians detest standing in line behind someone who hasn't decided their cheesesteak fate before talking to the cashier.  Locals basically have this practice down to three precise words.  For example:  one American with, or, two Whiz without, means that you want one cheesesteak with American cheese and onions, or, two cheesesteaks with Cheese Whiz and no onions.

When properly prepared you can taste & feel the brotherly love!

My intention today is to show you a method for making really, really good cheesesteaks at home on your stovetop -- and not just one or two either.  I don't know about you, but, when I'm making these, I either have a crowd around me and/or I want enough cheesesteak filling for leftovers the next day.  Also, I'm making them the way I like them -- I'm not telling you how you should like them.  My instructions include onions, peppers and mushrooms -- feel free to use some of them or none of them.  My instructions include "steak sauce" (pizza-type sauce) too -- use it or don't!

Cheese Steak #2 (Steaks)Step 1.  This really isn't a step for you, it is a step for your butcher. Explain to him that you are making cheesesteaks and ask him to cut the rib-eye steaks to a thickness of slightly less than 1/4". Plan on needing 3-4 of these thin steaks per sandwich.  Once you get them home, refrigerate the steaks until well-chilled 1-2 hours.

Note:  My suggestion is to plan on 4 per sandwich if you are not adding any of the optional vegetables, and, 3 per sandwich if you are adding the vegetables.

Cheese Steak #3 (Sliced Meat)~ Step 2.  Stack the cold rib-eyes (I do this four at a time), and, using a razor sharp knife, slice them into 1/2" strips.  Do not saw the meat (which will cause it to rip, tear and shred), slice the meat.  

Note:  I refrigerate the steaks because experience has taught me they are easier to slice if they are cold.  There's more.  Because I am preparing these on my stovetop, not a flat-top griddle, chopping them into chunks and pieces after the fact does not work well for me.

24 thin rib-eye steaks, slightly less than 1/4" each, sliced into 1/2" strips

4  tablespoons olive oil

4  tablespoons salted butter

2  teaspoons dried oregano

1 1/2  pounds very thinly-sliced yellow or sweet onion

1  pound stemmed, cleaned and thinly-sliced white button mushroom caps

12  ounces green bell pepper, cut into 1/4" julienne, julienne strips cut in half

12  ounces red bell pepper, cut into 1/4" julienne, julienne strips cut in half

freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend

3  cups marinara sauce, preferably homemade, or your favorite brand

1/2  teaspoon peperoncino (red pepper flakes), more or less, for stirring into sauce

cheeses of choice:  provolone or Cheez Whiz

12  10"-12" long Italian rolls, the best available, toasted or untoasted, your choice

Cheese Steak #4 (Prepped Vegetables) PICT1997~ Step 3. Prep some or all of the optional vegetables as directed, placing them in a large food storage bag as you work.  Close the bag and toss them all together.  Tossing them together in the bag make it easier to stir them evenly into the cooking meat.

Note:  This is a task I usually do several hours in advance, sometimes even a day ahead of making the sandwiches.

Cheese Steak #5 (Meat in Pan)~ Step 4.  In a 14" chef's pan, melt the butter into the olive oil over low heat.  Stir in the dried oregano.

Cheese Steak #6 (Cooked Meat in Pan)~ Step 5. Place meat in pan and season the top of it moderately with  salt and liberally with peppercorn blend. Increase heat to medium-high and saute, stirring until steak is cooked through, about 12-15 minutes.

Cheese Steak #8 (Liquid Reduction) Cheese Steak #7 (Vegetables Addes)~ Step 6. Place the optional veggies over the top of the meat and lightly season their tops with more salt and peppercorn blend.  Using a large spoon, thoroughly fold the seasoned vegetables into the cooking steak.  Continue to saute, stirring frequently, until vegetables are very soft and only a thin layer of liquid remains in the bottom of pan, about 20-30 minutes.

Cheese Steak #9 (Sauce Stirred In)~ Step 7.  Stir the peperoncino into the optional "steak sauce", then stir the sauce into the cooking meat mixture.  In my kitchen that is my recipe for ~ My Fresh & Spicy Tomato-Basil Sauce (Marinara) ~, which you can find in Categories 8 or 12.  Adjust heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes.

Note:  To this point, the cheese steak filling can be made 1-3 days in advance of reheating and serving.  Like many things, it actually tastes better the next day!

In Philly cheesesteak speak, here's "one Whiz with":

6a0120a8551282970b014e8a9794f9970d-800wiPhiladelphia's Famous Cheesesteaks a la Melanie:  Recipe yields 8, 10"-12"" cheesesteak sandwiches.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 2-gallon food storage bag (optional); 14" chef's pan w/straight deep sides; large spoon; serrated bread knife

IMG_0321Cook's Note:  For another one of my favorite steak sandwiches (perfect for a tailgate or Super bowl party), check out ~ My Pan-Seared Flat-Iron Steak Slider-Sandwiches ~ by clicking into Categories 2, 17, 19 or 20.  These go from stovetop to table in less than 30 minutes, and that includes the time it takes to make the cheese spread too!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/2015)

01/22/2015

~ Creamy & Cheesy Hash Brown Potato Casserole ~

IMG_1660Real-deal, properly-prepared hash brown potatoes are a favorite of mine.  Golden brown and crispy on the outside, creamy-textured (but never mushy) on the inside, they are the Holy Grail of breakfast potatoes.  I make really good ones, but, I must admit to being too lazy to make them unless it is a really special occasion.  I'd rather be on the treadmill than hand-grating and drying a boat load of Russet potatoes early in the morning (and I hate being on the treadmill).

IMG_6213 IMG_6100My ~ Baked Eggs in Birds Nests (Hash Brown Potatoes) ~ are living proof that I know what I am doing when it comes to hash brown making.  It's also one of my favorite fancy-schmancy ways to serve an impressive breakfast to overnight guests.  Just click on the Related Article link below to get my recipe plus helpful hash brown tips!

Why I set out to develop a really good hash brown potato casserole:

IMG_1622I needed one.  Back in the '80's and '90's there were many times I found myself cooking breakfast for 8-10 people in my kitchen, or, 40-50 at a Penn State Football or Tennis tailgate.  I was President of PSU's Tennis Boosters back then and we tailgated for all home matches and early AM tournaments.  Too many times I felt, "a really good potato casserole would go great with what I'm serving for breakfast today." Lots of recipes were available, all of them easy, but not one that I loved.

What I don't like about most hash brown potato casserole recipes: 

IMG_1525Simmer down.  I didn't say that recipes that aren't mine are inedible, I just said I don't care for most of them.  If you are guessing it has something to do with using bagged, frozen hash brown potatoes you'd be wrong -- sort of.  

I have no ax to grind with using frozen hash browns to make an easy casserole, but, I am going to tell you that the frozen, diced hash browns deliver a lot more texture than the frozen, shredded ones. Trust me on this one.  I substitued the shredded type one day and they're decidedly a compromise.

Complaint #1.  Cream of crap soup.  No, that is not a typo (although, my homemade cream of crab soup might taste really good stirred into this recipe).  I'm well aware of when the "cream of" soups were invented, I know why they were invented, and, although they have served generations of Americans very well, the "cream of" soups have outlived their purpose.  It's time to move on.  Stop pouting.  Pure, unadulterated cream and dairy sour cream is what I use.

Complaint #2.  Cheddar cheese, bell peppers and Tex-Mex "stuff".  They're tasty -- once in a while, but seriously, how many times does your breakfast revolve around a Texas cowboy theme?  In my kitchen, not very often at all.  Besides that, when hash brown potato casserole is made using cheddar, peppers and "stuff", you can barely taste the potatoes.  I wanted something more versatile.  Creamy Gruyere cheese and a few subtle herbs and spices is what I use.

IMG_1656What I love about my hash brown potato casserole recipe:

IMG_15341  2-pound bag frozen, cubed (not shredded) hash brown potatoes

3  tablespoons Wondra flour

1  cup cream

2  cups sour cream

1 1/2  teaspoons Herbes de Provence

1/4  teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4  teaspoon sea salt

3/4  teaspoon white pepper

3  cups shredded Gruyere cheese, or your favorite Swiss cheese

IMG_15891  sleeve Ritz crackers, hand crushed (32 crackers)

4  tablespoons salted butter, melted

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing casserole

IMG_1549~ Step 1.  In a large bowl, using a large spoon, toss together the frozen potatoes and the flour.  Set aside to partially thaw the potatoes, about 10-15 minutes.  While the potatoes are partially-thawing:

IMG_1538~ Step 2.  In a small bowl, whisk the cream, sour cream, IMG_1568herbes de provence, nutmeg, salt and white pepper until smooth.  Set aside.  

IMG_1544~ Step 3. Grate the cheese.  Stir 1 cup of the cheese into the cream mixture and set the rest aside.

~ Step 4.  Using a large rubber spatula, transfer the creamy cheese mixture into the partially-thawed potatoes and stir to combine.  

IMG_1574 IMG_1581~ Step 5.  Transfer potato mixture to a 13" x 9" x 2" casserole sprayed with no-stick spray.  Top with remaining 2 cups of grated Gruyere cheese. 

IMG_1597 IMG_1593~ Step 6. Place the crackers in a small bowl.   Using your hands, crush them to small pieces and crumbs. In a 1-cup measuring container, melt the butter in the microwave.  Add the butter to the crumbs, and using an ordinary tablespoon, stir until a loose crumb topping forms.

IMG_1619~ Step 7.  Sprinkle the buttery crumb topping evenly over the grated cheese layer.

~ Step 8.  Bake casserole on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven for 55-60 minutes, stopping to place a sheet of aluminum foil loosely (do not make any attempt to seal it) over IMG_1630the top after the first 30 minutes. Top will be golden, cheese will be melted, and, there will be some gentle bubbling going on around the sides and across the top.

~ Step 9.  Remove from oven and allow to rest 15-30 minutes prior to slicing and serving hot or warm.

IMG_1665Creamy & Cheesy Hash Brown Potato Casserole:  Recipe yields 12-16 servings.

Special Equipment List:  large spoon; cheese grater; whisk; large rubber spatula; 13" x 9" x 2" casserole; 1-cup measuring container; ordinary tablespoon 

6a0120a8551282970b017eeae68410970dCook's Note:  If you haven't already guessed, I'm almost always looking for the "easy way out" of cooking breakfast -- I sure do love eating it after the work is done though.  

For another of my AM timesavers, check out ~ The Benefits of Baking Eggs in Bacon fo Breakfast ~ in Categories 9 & 20!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)

01/19/2015

~ Black Pudding, Boudin Noir, Bloedwurst, Verivorst, Sanguinaccio, Morcilla, Kishka (Blood Sausage)!!! ~

IMG_1472Almost every country has a name for it, and, in any language, unless you've actually tasted it by force or otherwise, the mere idea of blood sausage is repulsive -- these two words can screw you up for life.  I had a Ukranian uncle in Trenton, NJ.  He ate kishka sauteed in a skillet with cabbage and potatoes -- I think Uncle Al added some form of red beets to it too, but, I didn't stick around the stove long enough be certain.  I ran.  As a child, it was a horrifying experience!

Time marched on, I grew up, and, to be fair...

IMG_1453... every ingredient gets equal time on my cooking blog!

IMG_1414Time marched on and I grew up, but, quite frankly, blood sausage has not.  It's still pretty much made the same way they've been making for centuries, with blood, but, thanks to  modern methods and improved fillers, it no longer has a metallic iron-esqe taste and it doesn't smell like the inside of a bat cave.  The Spanish morcilla my friend gifted me with this week had a pleasant sweet onion/hint of cinnamon taste, and, smelled a lot like meatloaf.  I'm not here to tell you it should be on your 'Top Ten List of Foods to Try' this year, but, at least put it on your 'Bucket List'.

IMG_1418A bit about blood sausage:  This is the definition of "using every bloody part of the animal".  In any language, European or Asian, it is the generic term for sausage made by cooking fresh, uncoagulated blood with fillers until it congeals to a puddinglike consistency when cooled.  It is the blood that gives it its distinctive dark red color.  Typical fillers include meat or game birds (pork, beef, sheep, duck or goat), liver, fat, bread or cornmeal, sweet potato or rice, onion and garlic, barley, buckwheat groats, or oatmeal, and, vinegar.  Spices vary regionally, which is why my morcilla had a hint of cinnamon flavor. Because it is fully-cooked prior to stuffing it into casings, it can be eaten cold (as is) or hot via roasting, grilling, frying or boiling.  

It's often served sliced and fried as a component in or with an egg breakfast, but, it's also good served as a snack with cheese, crackers and a bold mustard.  In all cases, blood sausage has a shelf life of only a few days, so, either use it prior to the expiration date or freeze it. 

IMG_1513Black Pudding Boudin Noir, Bloedwurst, Verivorst, Sanguinaccio, Morcilla, Kishka (Blood Sausage)!!!:  Recipe yields basic instructions for cooking, serving and storing blood sausage.

Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife

IMG_1419Cook's Note:  If you're more "into" conventional sausage for breakfast (or anytime of day), you might want to give my ~ Egg Bagel, Sausage & Scrambled Egg Sandwich:  A Super Breakfast for Super Bowl (or any) Sunday ~ a try.  You can find the recipe by clicking in Categories, 2, 9, 17 or 25.  It's "bloody good" too (wink, wink)!!! 

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)

01/17/2015

~ Mel's Perfectly-Roasted Rosemary Turkey Breast ~

IMG_1366When a recipe has the word "perfect" in its title, one had better be certain it is exactly that.  In my kitchen, in order for any recipe to make it onto my blog, it must make it through my kitchen three times without glitches.  Yes, unlike plenty of other cooking blogs, my recipes are not only tested, they are tested three times before I place them in your capable hands.  I take testing very seriously, and, once is not enough.  In the case of roasting poulty and meat, many times, three times is not enough.  For example, I tested this recipe eight times, purchasing a different size turkey breast each time, to insure you get a foolproof "timing to weight" chart too.

6a0120a8551282970b014e8a7342fa970dI've been working on roasting charts for almost as many years as I've been cooking!

IMG_9888Once I'm wed to my method, I meticulously record time, temperature and weight.  It is no accident that people constantly ask, "why do your roasts always come out so perfectly cooked?"  Answer:  I follow my own charts.  For me, this hasn't meant extra work. I roast a lot of meat and poultry -- once, sometimes twice a week.  I do it to avoid the deli-counter.  In Melanie's Kitchen you will always find a piece of freshly-roasted beef, ham, chicken or turkey in the deli-drawer ready for sandwich making. Sandwiches are my favorite food!

There's more:  If you're a person who likes turkey but avoids preparing it for Thanksgiving (or any other time of the year) because you do not enjoy or are simply intimidated by the pomp and circumstance surrounding this big, cumbersome bird, this recipe is simply perfect for you.

Before getting started:  This recipe is very versatile.  It comes complete with instructions for making optional gravy too (I love open-faced turkey sandwiches).  You can prepare it using a whole fresh turkey breast, or, a turkey breast half, but, be sure it is bone-in skin-on, NOT, boneless skinless.    Because my method for roasting a turkey breast is different from roasting an entire turkey, the end result is visually a bit different.  Because I roast a turkey breast covered (to keep it from drying out), while the skin will be golden brown, it will not be the crispy edible type.

6a0120a8551282970b0133f5b7fea6970b~ Step 1.  Place the turkey breast, upside down (meat side down) on a rack that has been inserted in the bottom of a roasting pan.  If you intend to make gravy, add 1, 14 1/2-ounce can of chicken stock to the bottom of the pan.  If you are not making gravy, add 2 cups of water to the bottom of the pan.

~ Step 2.  Add aromatics to the empty breast cavity.  I use:  2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, 2 small celery ribs, 1/2 of small yellow onion, and, 1/2 of an apple.

Note:  Aromatics impart flavor and moisture into the meat.  If you are roasting a turkey breast half, chop and add them to the chicken stock or water in the bottom of the pan.

6a0120a8551282970b013488dc8bb8970cIf you are cooking for a crowd and want to roast two large whole turkey breasts at the same time, no problem.  Just make sure they are as close in size as possible (so they cook evenly in the same amount of time) and place them side by side in a larger pan, increase the stock or water in the bottom to 2 cans or 4 cups.  Add the aromatics and proceed exactly as if you were cooking one.  Change no timing!

~ Step 3.  Flip the breast over (it's easy to do).  Place thin pats of salted butter, about 2 tablespoons, over the surface followed by a liberal grinding of sea salt and peppercorn blend.

6a0120a8551282970b014e880bb9ff970d~ Step 4.  Using an appropriately-sized piece of aluminum foil, tent and tightly-seal the roasting pan (as airtight as possible), being careful to prevent any rips or tears in the foil which will allow steam to escape during the roasting process.

Note:  If you do rip or tear the foil, start over with a new piece of foil.

On lowest rack of preheated 450 degree oven, roast:

1 hour, 30 minutes (for a 3-3 1/2-pound split, turkey breast half)

1 hour, 45 minutes (for a 4-4 1/2-pound split, turkey breast half)

2 hours (for a 5-6-pound whole turkey breast)

2 hours, 15 minutes (for a 6-7-pound whole turkey breast)

2 hours, 30 minutes (for a 7-8-pound whole turkey breast)

2 hours, 45 minutes (for an 8-9-pound whole turkey breast)

3 hours (for a 9-10-pound whole turkey breast)

IMG_1366~ Step 5.  Remove roasting pan from oven and allow to rest about 15 minutes.  Slowly and carefully remove the foil -- hot steam is going to escape which can burn you.

Note:  I just lift up one corner of the foil and allow it all to escape at once before uncovering completely.

~ Step 6.  Place the same foil, "wet" side up on the counter, transfer the turkey to the foil, seal, and allow to rest about 30-45-60 minutes prior to slicing and serving hot, warm, room temperature or cold the next day.

If it's gravy you want, it's a gravy recipe you're gonna get:

IMG_1369~ Step 7.  While the turkey breast is resting, pour the pan drippings into a fat lean separator.  You will have about 3 cups of fat-free drippings.  

Note:  If you roasted two breasts in a larger pan, you will have about 6 cups of fat-free drippings.  If you follow my recipe, you can count on about the same amount of pan drippings each and every time you roast a turkey breast.  No room for error = moist turkey & lots of gravy!

6a0120a8551282970b013488dd1b26970c~ Step 8.  For every 3 cups of drippings, in a 3 1/2-quart chef's pan, over medium heat, melt:

3  tablespoons salted butter (1 tablespoon per 1 cup of drippings)

For every 3 cups of drippings, whisk in, until smooth:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

6a0120a8551282970b0133f5bd1c8b970b~ Step 9.  Whisk in all of the fat-free pan drippings and discard the fat.  

Increase heat to medium-high. Adjust heat to a simmer, whisking constantly, until gravy has thickened to your liking and coats the back of a spoon, about 2-3 minutes.  The longer you simmer, the thicker it will get.  Got too thick? Add some additional stock.

Note:  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Because my method produces seasoned pan-drippings, it is rare that I find myself adding anything more than a pinch of salt and a sprinkling of pepper.

IMG_1377 IMG_1381 IMG_1388~ Step 10.  Remove each breast half from the breast bone on both sides.  With the aid of a sharp paring knife, these will pull away 6a0120a8551282970b01538f730c9b970bfrom the bones cleanly, easily, and, in one piece.  Remove and discard the skin (this too will pull off easily with your fingertips).

Slice and serve hot with a drizzle of gravy and your favorite side dishes, or, slice and stir chunks of turkey into the gravy to make superb hot open-faced sandwiches. Or:

Slice and serve warm, at room temperature or cold in a salad or on your favorite sandwich, sub, or panini combination!

No matter how or when you slice it (thick, thin, hot or cold)...

IMG_1411... store-bought deli-meat cannot compete with this!

IMG_5466Mel's Perfectly Roasted Rosemary Turkey Breast:  Depending upon how much you want to serve each person and what size turkey breast you purchased, count on approximatley 3-4 hearty servings from each breast half, and, 4-6 sandwiches from each breast half.  Depending on whether you roasted 1 or 2 breasts, you will have 4-6 cups of gravy.

Special Equipment List:  13" x 9" x 4" or 20" x 12" x 4" disposable aluminum roasting pan;  cooling rack; cutting board; chef's knife; aluminum foil; fat-lean separator; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides; whisk

6a0120a8551282970b017d40586b89970cCook's Note:  When I serve my perfectly roasted turkey breast with gravy, I love it served with my recipe for ~ Tettie's Baked-Mashed-Potato Suffing Casserole ~, which you can find by clicking into Categories 4 or 18.  Big yum!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)

01/14/2015

~ Basque in a Spanish Breakfast: Huevos Rotos con Chistorra y Potatas (Eggs, Sausage and Potatoes) ~

IMG_1295Put your big boy pants on.  Put bigger pants on.  This stick-to-your-ribs hard-working hungry-man's one-skillet breakfast contains a days worth of full-flavored tongue-tingling calories.  It's got it all -- fried eggs, fried potatoes, fried sausage, and sometimes, even a talo (tortilla) too.  Hailing from the high mountainous Navarre regions of Spain, also known sa Basque country, this is a dish of humble origin, poor-man's food.  "Huevos rotos" literally means "broken eggs", so it should come as no surprise that the eggs have a soft, runny texture.  Nowadays, it's mostly served in homes for celebrations or holidays, but, it's found on restaurant menues all over Spain.

IMG_1261This meal, sometimes eaten for dinner too, is really quite easy to make, as long as you include all of the components, have the proper sausage, and, make it all in the same skillet (so all the flavors and oils blend together)  That said, in Spain, what gets put on your plate differs from cook to cook.  In some versions the ingredients are diced, tossed together and hashlike (this is ideal for rolling up in a talo).  Others layer bite-sized pieces of the cooked components on top of each other, so they all come together in every bite with a knife and a fork. Most versions use 1-2 "sunny side up eggs" with runny yolks.  Others prefer a loose scramble of eggs.

Let there be no doubt:  the star of this show is the chistorra! 

IMG_1181A bit about chistorra:  Longer and thinner than traditional chorizo or regular sausages, chistorra is a bright-red, fast-cure, high-fat, minced pork or minced pork-and-beef sausage.  My experiences with Spanish pork and pork sausages might be limited to those that are imported to the USA, but, the ones I have tried tell me that Spain is hog heaven -- these people know their pork.  In the case of chistorra, it is a delicious blend of lean pork, pork fat, pork belly and seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika and garlic. While I'm serving it in this classic basque breakfast, chistorra is often fried or grilled, then either cut into bite-sized 2" pieces and served as a tapa, or, cut into 6"-8" lengths, wrapped in a very thin corn talo and eaten like a hot dog.  Chistorra goes great with beer or wine!

This "happy meal" is one to make to your own liking!

IMG_1306Here is my version of this Spanish breakfast of champions:

IMG_1203 IMG_1195~ Step 1. Using a pair of kitchen shears, separate:

1/2  pound chistorra sausage

into links.  Using a chef's knife slice the links into 1/4" coins.  Set aside.

~ Step 2.  I like to use red-skinned potatoes and I leave the skins on.

IMG_1213Using a chef's knife, slice

4-5  medium-sized red-skinned potatos

into 3/4" coins.  I like to have 6-8 of these hearty coins for every breakfast I am serving, and I get 3 coins from each medium-sized potato.  Wait until you taste these!

Note:  My potatoes are a cross between french fries and home fries.  They have all the same taste and texture as French fries, but, are much quicker and much easier.

IMG_1232~ Step 3.  In a 10" nonstick skillet, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium high heat.  Place the potatoes in the skillet, in a single layer.  Season tops with freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend.

Fry until golden on both sides and cooked through, turning only once, about 5-6 minutes per side. Arrange potatoes in each of two 6"-round au gratin dishes.  Set aside.

IMG_1256 IMG_1248~ Step 4. Remove and discard all but a thin coating of the olive oil from the skillet.  

IMG_1253Add the chistorra, and, over medium-high heat, fry until lightly-golden and crispy, about 3 minutes.

IMG_1272~ Step 5.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage from the pan, dividing it equally between the two dishes, over the top of the potatoes. Return the skillet to the still hot stovetop over medium-high heat.

~ Step 6.  Into the chistorra fat remaining in the bottom of the still hot skillet, crack

2-4 jumbo eggs, 1-2 eggs per serving, your choice

IMG_1273~ Step 7.  Over medium-high heat, fry the eggs, two at a time, until yolks are done to your liking.  Mine take about 2- 2 1/2 minutes.

Note:  I like my huevos rotos with one egg, my husband Joe likes his with two.  No matter what, I always fry the eggs two at a time so they have plenty of room to spread out in the chistorra fat.  After frying two, there will be plenty of spicy fat left in the skillet to fry two more!

IMG_1288 IMG_1285                                           ~ Step 8. Place 1-2 eggs on the top of each.  

Note:  Trust me when I tell you, this meal cooks up so fast that neither the potatoes nor the chistorra have had time to cool down.  Serve immediately and please refrain from adding any hot sauce until you've tasted your first forkful -- savor the flavor of the spicy chistorra!

Start that flow of liquid gold & toss things around a bit... 

IMG_1320and enjoy every last bite of this bold start to your day!

IMG_1337Basque in a Spanish Breakfast:  Huevos Rotos con Chistorra y Potatas (Eggs, Sausage and Potatoes:  Recipe yields 2 servings.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 10" skillet; slotted spoon; spatula

IMG_7675 IMG_7664Cook's Note: For another hearty breakfast, lunch or dinner runny-yolk eggy meal, just click into Categories 2, 9, 12 or 19 to get my recipe for ~ My Poached Egg & BLT Cheddar Biscuit Sandwich ~!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)

01/12/2015

~ The Secret is in the Sauce: Meet the Bone-Suckin' BBQ'd Roast Beef, Bacon & Blue Cheese Sammie ~

IMG_1147It's Monday.  It's the middle of January.  It's also bone-suckin' cold outside.  Not a problem.  In my kitchen, we're having a meatwave.  I've got a big beefy eye-of-round roast in the oven, and, a few bottles of Bone Suckin' Sauce in my pantry -- it's a mandatory staple.  Plus, there's one last college football game on TV tonight, so, I've got entertainment too.  They don't call where I live "Happy Valley" for nothing -- we always find a path to some type of happiness.  While our home team may not be playing for The National Championship of Collegiate Football tonight, our Big 10 Conference is, so, why not get with the program.  After all, we Penn Staters wrote the "How To" books on partying and tailgating.  If you can't handle that, it's time to put the big boy pants on!

IMG_1151Never heard of Bone Suckin' Sauce?  Allow me to educate you!

BSS_SquareA bit about Bone Suckin' Sauce:  Tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, honey, molasses, mustard, horseradish, lemon juice, onions, garlic, peppers, natural hickory smoked flavor, natural spices, salt and xanthan gum.  It's the xanthan gum, which they used in place of cornstarch as a thickener, that makes it gluten-free and keeps it a transparent light-red color.  Bone Suckin' Sauce hails from Raleigh, NC, and, is the brainchild of Phil Ford.  Back in 1987, Phil was trying to copy his mother's recipe for a western North Carolina-style barbecue sauce.  His creation was so delicious his sister-in-law, Sandi Ford, convinced Phil to partner with her and her husband to sell it.  It was coined "bone suckin' " because it made Sandi suck on the rib bones to get every last bit of flavor from them.

IMG_1063Mel's critique:  This addictive sauce is slightly-sweet, similar to ketchup, but with a whole lot more goin' on, including that hint of hickory smoke.

It's brighter, fresher and crisper than any other barbecue sauce too -- nothing is overdone.  It is a well-balanced blend of sweet-savory BBQ perfection.  Its texture is thin-ish, but, don't confuse that with watery, because it not.  It is perfect for dipping, drizzling, slathering, or basteing, and, there is nothing from A-Z in the world of grilling or barbecuing it isn't fantastic on.

It's time to talk about beef eye-of-round roast:

IMG_1981Usually under-appreciated and often misunderstood, it's a great value & just perfect for cold or hot deli-style sandwiches!

IMG_2027The eye-of-round is a circular, log-shaped piece of meat cut from the beef hind quarter. A "round" itself is made up of three different "cuts", all of which you can easily find at the grocery store:  bottom round, top round and eye-of-round. Of the three cuts, the eye is the most tender, but, even at that, it is very lean, so, if overcooked, it is very tough.  When it's cut into steaks, they're called "round steaks" -- don't overcook them either!  Read on:

Too many people waste their time trying to coax this lean, tough, economically-priced-for-good-reason cut of beef roast into doing something is not "cut out" to be:  fall-apart "pot roast kind of tender" and full of flavor.  I am here to tell you, marinating it will not tenderize it, and, braising or slow-cooking it to "pot roast kind of tender" will not only NOT improve its flavor, it will render it flavorless.  Don't do it.  That said, when roasted to rare- to medium-rare, it is full of beefy flavor and downtright tender too -- perfect for sandwich making.  One more thing.  Pay attention. Roasting it past medium-rare will produce a tasteless product suitable for boot making!

IMG_2062 6a0120a8551282970b017c32faf857970bYou can find my recipes for perfectly roasted ~ Eye-of-Round Roast:  Back-to-School Sandwiches ~, along with my recipe for ~ Yankee Pot Roast: Simple, Sensible & Scrumptious (w/Mushroom Gravy & Roasted Carrots & Potatoes) ~, by clicking on the Related Article links below.

IMG_1077My recipe for 4 sandwiches:

thinly-sliced roasted eye-of-round, about 6 ounces per sandwich

Bone Suckin' Sauce, about 3 tablespoons per sandwich

1  very thinly-sliced red onion

crisply-fried bacon strips, 4 per sandwich

8  ounces blue cheese crumbles

4  big rolls,  the bigger the better

IMG_1102 IMG_1083~ Step 1. Using a large chef's knife, slice the beef as thin as you can.  Slice enough for four hearty sandwiches.  If you have a kitchen scale, now is the time to use it.  

Place each portion of meat into a large bowl.  Add the Bone Suckin' sauce and half of the sliced onion.

IMG_1119~ Step 2.  Using a pair of salad servers, toss the meat mixture like you would a salad.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and, allow to rest for 30-60 minutes.

Note:  Do not toss the meat with the Bone Suckin' sauce any more than 1 hour in advance. Also, resist the urge to put this in the refrigerator for an hour. Why?  These sandwiches are to-die-for if the meat mix is at room temperature!

This assembly photo should be self-explanatory:

(bun, bacon, blue cheese, Bone Suckin' beef, onion, bun)

IMG_1133The Secret is in the Sauce:  Meet the Bone-Suckin' BBQ'd Roast Beef, Bacon & Blue Cheese Sammie:  Recipe yields 4 very large deli-style sandwiches.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; kitchen scale; salad bowl; salad servers

6a0120a8551282970b01a3fd04644f970bCook's Note:  By the way, for appetizers, we're eating ~ Jesse's Bacon-Wrapped Dijon Shrimp ~. You can find my recipe by clicking into Categories 3, 19  or 20.  Guess what we'll be dipping these into? Yep.  A bowl of Bone Suckin' Sauce.  Happiness in Happy Valley!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)

01/09/2015

~ January "White Out" White Chicken 'n Corn Chili ~

WCC #1 (with Melted Cheese Intro Picture)Oh baby it's cold outside -- several degrees below zero cold here in Happy Valley.  Even if the sun does comes out, the temperatures aren't going to tempt me into venturing outside into the swirling tornado of white snow whirling around on my back porch, thanks in part to the snow machines running full throttle up on the Tussy Mountain Ski Slope (almost in my backyard). Staying indoors is on my agenda, and, I am not alone.  The better portion of the entire Northeast is in this deep-freeze with me.  I can't be the only one dreaming of a bowl of steaming hot chili for my dinner tonight, but, a traditional "bowl of red" isn't quite what I have in mind!

IMG_0956During our 35 years of marriage (yep, we celebrated our 35th on January 4th), Joe and I have traveled a lot.  On some of those trysts, we've eaten our fair share of "real-deal" "Tex-Mex":  in southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and, the panhandle of Oklahoma too.  Back in the '80's one of my favorite dishes to order was white chicken chili.  You all know what chicken chili is, but back then, it was considered a trendy new twist on chili.  The best one I ever tasted was in a cafe in Tempe, AZ, and, it is that one, which was a blend of chicken breast strips and coarsely-ground thigh meat, that caused me to come up with my own version:  this recipe.

The best college-football bowl-game story ever told:

WCC #1 (with Melted Cheese Intro Picture)The cafe was The Lunt Avenue Marble Club, the year was 1987, and, Joe and I were in town for a full week to attend the Fiesta Bowl. "The Marble Club" was only two blocks from the condo we were borrowing.  Over the course of the week, at our friend Chuck's recommendation, we became regulars at this small neighborhood hangout.  When AZ State won their bowl game the night before ours, we were there, sitting on two bar stools, cheering for the home team. On January 2, we ate our pre-game dinner (their white chicken chile with deep-fried tortilla chips), then walked to Sun Devil Stadium and sat on the fifty yard line to watch #2 ranked Penn State beat #1 Miami for the National Championship.  

After our win, instead of following the PSU herd to Scottsdale, we chose to walk back to "The Club" to partake in our celebratory cocktails. To our surprise, the bartender had VCR'd the game.  When we walked in, the regulars cheered, bought us a round of drinks, put the game on TV for us to rewatch, and, we all partied together well into the morning.  The good guys won!

When tailgate season rolled around in Happy Valley in September of that same year, my recipe was on our menu for the first game at Beaver Stadium.  When the Penn State Student Government Association Weather Service forecasted a "white out" for the season opener (at PSU this means everyone dresses in a white shirt, T-shirt, sweater or sweatshirt), Stan, the founding member of our tailgate group, named my recipe "White Out White Chicken Chili"!

IMG_0976Don't let the length of this ingredients list scare you.  It's just chicken, a few chopped vegetables and some great spices -- all of which you probably have on-hand in your refrigerator and pantry!

6a0120a8551282970b017c359a6f76970b6  pounds chicken fillets, or, boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, your choice, cut into 1/4 " strips, strips cut in half

Note:  Fillets are the easiest to work with, boneless breasts are a close 2nd.  If you purchase breasts on bones, purchase 8+ pounds.  When you remove the meat, to reveal boneless, skinless chicken breasts, proceed with the recipe as directed.

WCC #10 (Vegetables Prepped)4  pounds whole, boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 1/2  pounds diced sweet onion

8  ounces sliced green onions, white and light green parts only

2  ounces garlic cloves,

1  pound each:  green and red bell pepper strips

WCC #11 (The Spice Soldiers)1  ounce minced jalapeno pepper, minced, more or less, to taste

8  tablespoons salted butter

4  tablespoons corn oil

2  tablespoons Santa Fe Seasons Chile Blend, or 2  tablespoons Mexican-style chili powder

IMG_09491  teaspoon ground cloves

1  1.5 ounce bottle ground cumin

2  tablespoons Santa Fe Seasons Six Seasons, or 2  tablespoons Mexican Oregano

4  teasoons sea salt, plus an additional 1-2  teaspoons, to taste

1  teaspoon red pepper flakes

2  teaspoons white pepper

1  40-ounce bag frozen corn

1  40-ounce can great northern white beans, undrained

1  16-ounce can refried beans

grated white cheddar cheese, a generous 1/4 cup for topping each serving of chili

cilantro leaves, for garnishing chili

WCC #7 Chicken Breast Sliced WCC #6 (Chicken Breast & Chicken Breast Pounded)~ Step 1. Slice the chicken fillets into small bite-sized strips and random end pieces.  If you are using boneless breasts, you have a bit more work cut out for you.  Place each half inside of a food storage bag.  Using a flat-sided meat mallet, pound to a WCC #9 (Thighs Coarsely Ground)thickness of 1/4" - 1/2".  Slice each pounded breast half into 3 strips, then slice the strips into bite-sized strips and random end pieces.

6a0120a8551282970b0134888476be970c~ Step 2. Trim thighs of excess fat, then cut into 1 1/2" -2" chunks.  Place in work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Using 10-12 rapid on-off pulses, coarsely grind the thighs.

WCC #12 (Raw Chicken Coated with Spices)~ Step 3.  In a 12-quart chef's pan, melt the butter into the corn oil over low heat.  Stir in the chile blend, cloves, cumin, six seasonings, salt, red pepper flakes and white pepper into the butter mixture.  Add all of the prepped breast and thigh meat. Stir until the chicken in evenly coated in the spice mixture.

~ Step 4.  Increase the heat to medium-high and cook the chicken, WCC #14 (Vegetables Added)stirring frequently, until the fully-cooked, about 20-30 minutes.

~ Step 5.  While the chicken is cooking prep the onion, green onion, garlic, bell peppers and jalapenos as directed.

~ Step 6.  Stir in all of the veggies and frozen corn.  Return to a simmer and cook until vegetables have lost almost all of their volume, another 20-30 minutes.

WCC #16 (Chile Cooked)~ Step 7.  Add the great northern beans and the can of the refried beans.  Stir until the refried beans are thoroughly incorporated.  Make sure you do this so the refried beans don't stick to the bottom of the pan.  Return to a very gentle simmer and continue to cook, uncovered, about 45 more minutes.

~ Step 8.  Remove from heat, cover pan, and allow chili to steep and thicken for 1 1/2-2 hours -- the beans are going to soak up liquid.

IMG_0986 IMG_0998 IMG_1012~ Step 9.  Gently reheat the chili to steaming. Portion it into desired number of 2-cup oven-safe crocks, placing them WCC #3 (with Melted Cheese Intro Picture)on a baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper as you work.  Top each bowl with a generous 1/4 cup of grated white cheddar.  PLEASE -- no yellow cheddar.  This is a white out!!!

~ Step 10.  Place pan of crocks on oven rack positioned 6" underneath preheated broiler for 3 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

~ Step 11.  Allow to rest 3-5 minutes before serving hot with a salad and tortilla chips for dipping!

White chicken + white beans + white cheese + white bowl = white out!

IMG_1046January "White Out" White Chicken 'n Corn Chili:  Recipe yields approximately 8 quarts.  As with any other chili, this freezes perfectly.  Portion into desired-sized food-storage/freezer containers, leaving 1/4"-1/2" of headspace at the top of each container to allow for expansion.  Enough for quite a few more of the chilly chili days that lie ahead of us.  You can thank me later!

Special Equipment List:  2, 2-gallon size food storage bags; cutting board; chef's knife; flat-sided meat mallet; kitchen shears; food processor; 12-quart chef's pan w/straight-deep sides & lid (known as a rondeaux); large spoon; soup ladle; cheese grated; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; 2-cup size oven- broiler-safe soup crocks, or bowls, or, ramekins

Tortilla Chips #5 (Finished)Cook's Note:  The perfect, crunchy accompaniment to a bowl of steaming hot chili is freshly deep-fried corn tortilla chips for dipping. Just click into Categories 2, 13 or 17 to get my recipe for ~ Deep-Fried Torilla Chips (Totopos) ~. So much better than store-bought!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen, Copyright 2015)

01/06/2015

~ Mel's Perfectly-Roasted Rack of Berkshire Pork ~

IMG_0804There are pork roasts and then there are pork roasts.  This is the mother-of-all pork roasts.  This is the best pork roast you will ever eat anywhere.  This is a Berkshire pork roast.  Berkshire pork, also known as Kurobuta pork, is on the menu of many upscale and fine-dining restaurants, like Spago in Beverly Hills, and The French Laundry in Yountville, CA.  The first bite will render you speechless -- it's moist, juicy and tender, with a very rich, refined, luxurious taste and texture.

IMG_0470A bit about Berkshire pork:  It comes from a heritage breed of pig that was discovered over 300 years ago in Berkshire County, UK.  In the USA, the American Berkshire Association only gives pedigrees to pigs imported from established English herds.  It is often referred to as "the Kobe beef of pork" and it's prized for its pink color and rich marbling.  It has a very specific, pleasant taste, not at all generic or mild like "the other white meat" pork.  In the porcine world, pigs really are what they eat -- there is a direct link between a pig's diet and what it tastes like.  Pigs are unique because the type of food they eat IMG_0463gets redistributed into their muscle fiber.  While industrially raised pigs are mostly fed corn and soybeans, Berkshire pigs dine on oats, molasses, fresh fruits and lots of vegetables.  Berkshire hogs are also raised au natural and free from stress, roaming at-will in wooded areas with plenty of water to drink and shade to keep them cool.

IMG_0679 IMG_0619The best tasting pork roast in the world deserves the royal treatment.  I took all the time I needed to beautifully trim, French and tie mine, to ensure a gorgeous presentation. Click on the Related Article links below to read ~ How to: French a Rib Roast ~, and, ~ How & Why to Tie a Rib Roast ~.

Once it's trimmed, Frenched & tied, it's time to Roast:

IMG_0704For the roast:

1  8-pound, 10-rib Berkshire rack of pork, trimmed, Frenched and tied

2  cups chicken stock

Bell's poultry seasoning, no substitutions*

freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend

*Note:  If it has never occurred to you to use poultry seasoning in conjuction with pork, I'm here to tell you the two go extremely well together -- especially Bell's brand.  Theirs is a fragrant herby mixture of rosemary, sage, ginger, marjoram, thyme and pepper, with the emphasis on lots of rosemary.  It's ground to a very fine powder too, which makes it really easy to blend into a pan sauce or gravy as well.

IMG_0874For the port wine pan sauce:

pieces of meat and creamy fat, from trimming the pork roast, no silverskin or tough membrane

all pan drippings, from cooking the pork roast, about 3/4-1 cup

1  cup chicken stock

1/2  cup port wine

poultry seasoning, sea salt and peppercorn blend, to taste

IMG_0715Before starting, let me beg you NOT to do two things:  Do not overseason and do not overcook this pork.  It has such an exceptional flavor, bold seasonings, like fresh garlic and fennel seeds overwhelm it.  Save your salty brines and pickle juice concoctions for "the other white meat".  This pork is not your grandmas pork.  It is divine served pink and medium.

~ Step 1.  To roast the pork:  Place the roast, rib side down on a rack in a 13" x 9" roasting pan to which 2 IMG_0723cups of chicken stock has been added.  Lightly season the top with Bell's poultry seasoning and generously with freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend.

~ Step 2.  Roast, uncovered, on center rack of 450 degree oven for 15 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 350 degrees and continue to roast an additional 50-60 minutes, or, until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat in 2-3 spots reads 138-142 degrees.  

IMG_0757 IMG_0745                                      ~ Step 3. Remove from oven. Transfer pork to a large cutting board, cover with foil and allow it to rest for 20-30 minutes.

~ Step 4.  Transfer the pan drippings to a fat/lean separator and prepare the sauce according to the following directions:

IMG_0869 IMG_0865~ Step 5.  To make the wine sauce: While the roast is in the oven. Cut the pork trimmings into 1"-2" chunks, discarding any and all silverskin or tough membrane as you work. Place in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade. Using a series of 30-40 rapid on-off pulses, grind the meat.  You will have 1-1 1/4 pounds of ground pork.  Transfer to a 12" skillet.

IMG_0899 IMG_0899~ Step 6. Lightly season pork with poultry seasoning (I use 1/2 teaspoon), sea salt and peppercorn blend (about 20 grinds each).  Over medium-high heat, saute, stirring almost constantly, until pork is not only cooked through, but is "little golden bits swimming in a sea of primo pork fat", about 15 minutes.

IMG_0907 IMG_0913 IMG_0916~ Step 7.  Lower heat to a gentle, steady simmer. Add the wine, followed by the lean part of drippings, followed by the stock.

IMG_0928 IMG_0922~ Step 8. Adjust heat to a gentle simmer, and, in a small bowl, quickly stir together 2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch and 3 tablespoons chicken stock or water until smooth.  Add the cornstarch mixture to the simmering liquid and continue to cook until a nicely- IMG_0937thickened sauce forms, 2-3 minutes.

~ Step 9.  The finished sauce should coat the back of a spoon, be clearishly-opaque and golden in color with little pork bits floating around in it (which will settle to the bottom when sauce is puddled onto each plate at serving time).

Note:  For a more refined presentation (a smooth sauce), the sauce can be strained. 

Taste and adjust seasoning for salt and pepper.  I added no additional seasonings  today.

Slice this perfectly-cooked, exquisite roast into chops...

IMG_0785... Puddle sauce on plates & serve w/sides immediately:

IMG_0840Mel's Perfectly-Roasted Rack of Berkshire Pork:  Recipe yields 10 total, even-sized, 1"-thick chops/2 1/2 cups rustic-style port wine pan sauce (about 1 1/2 cups of sauce if strained).

Special Equipment List:  13" x 9" x 2" roasting rack w/rack insert; 1-cup measuring container; cutting board; chef's knife; food processor; aluminum foil; fat/lean separator; 12" skillet, preferably nonstick; large spoon; mesh strainer (optional)

6a0120a8551282970b0147e13c129b970bCook's Note:  It's really hard to imagine anything better tasting than this very special rack of Berkshire pork served with creamy, mashed gold potatoes, but, if it's beef you love, Click into Categories 3, 11 or 21 for my ~ Perfect Prime Rib (Standing Rib Roast) ~.  

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015) 

01/04/2015

~ How & Why to Tie Rib Roast (Beef, Lamb or Pork)~

IMG_0679When I was growing up, and, into the better part of my adult life, I never encountered vacuum-packed meat of any kind.  Meat and poultry, and, fish and seafood, were freshly cut and/or processed, on a daily basis.  This happened at mom and pop butcher shops everywhere and on premises at all grocery stores.  At a very young age, I learned by listening to my mother, how to "talk shop" with a butcher. When my mother ordered a primbe rib roast for the holidays, she would say, "eight ribs, Frenched, trimmed and tied".  If it was a boneless beef tenderloin she wanted, she'd say "five pound tenderloin, trimmed, wrapped and tied".  In short order, she'd have a bone-in roast with the meat removed from the rib bones for a pretty presentation, or, an entire beef filet wrapped in bacon to add a flavorful fat layer.  When she ordered steaks, Walt would ask, "how thick", then he'd turn the bandsaw on and cut them on the spot and spot on.  

Many grocery stores don't even have a butcher on site anymore, and, it saddens me to watch people shopping today's meat cases.  You'll find lots of them forageing through the case containing vacuum-packed, time-saving, pre-marinated, pre-rubbed, infused and/or injected inferior protein -- spending their hard-earned money on over-priced fake flavorings.  It makes me want to take them by the hand and walk them across the isle to the case containing real-deal cuts of meat, but, even if I did, they wouldn't know what to do with it if they bought it.

ImagesFor example:  Last week I had an entire vacuum-packed beef tenderloin in my hand -- they were on sale at Sam's Club.  A thirty-something turned to me and said, "I bought one of those for Christmas and it was terrible". I, of course, inquired "why." "There were skinny ends that burned, it was tasteless, and, the skin was tough and chewy."  It was obvious she had never roasted one before, and worse, never once entertained the idea that she might have to trim it and tie it before (over) cooking it.

Tying various bone-in and boneless cuts of beef, lamb and pork isn't done just to make them look pretty.  This is man's method for ensuring it holds its shape during the cooking process, which ensures it cooks evenly.  In a nutshell:  tying adds needed form and structure to the cut.

IMG_0619I cooked a standing-rack of bone-in Bershire pork for New Year's Day. The first thing I did when I got it, besides trimming it, was "French it", meaning:  remove the meat from the rib bones to cleanly expose them. You can get the detailed instructions for ~ How to: French a Rib Roast (Beef, Lamb or Pork) ~ by clicking on the Related Article link below.

Even if I hadn't Frenched my roast (it's not a requirement for cooking a great standing rib roast), and, even IMG_0642if my roast had been boneless, it still needed to be trimmed and tied prior to roasting it.  I think it's important for people to know that, which is why I'm writing this post!

A bit about the string:  Referred to as "butchers  string" and "kitchen-safe string", it is an all-natural product, made from cotton or linen, which will not burn during the cooking process.  It's also a bit heavier than those labeled as "kitchen twine", which makes it very easy to maneuver, tie and clip.

IMG_0648~ Step 1.  Count the ribs on your roast.  Mine has 10.  This means, I will need nine pieces of string (one less than the number of ribs), each long enough to wrap securely around the roast and easily tie.  My lengths today are 18".  Error on the side of a bit too long.

~ Step 2.  The ribs on this pork roast are about 1" apart, so, I arranged IMG_0650my lengths of string 1" apart across the top of a large cutting board.

~ Step 3.  I placed my roast, bottom side up (boney side up) on top of the strings.  Bone-in or boneless, this means fat side down -- it's important  By pulling each string back and forth a bit, I easily positioned each one evenly in the center between the bones.

IMG_0660 IMG_0663~ Step 4.  Working your way from one end of the roast to the other, begin securely tying, knotting and clipping each string.  Tie each string tight enough to compact the roast into one uniform shape but not so tight that it "cuts" into the meat.

Properly tied the bottom side will look like this:

IMG_0670Properly tied the top side will look like this:     

IMG_0694Next Up:  ~ Mel's Perfectly-Roasted Rack of Berkshire Pork ~

IMG_0729How & Why to Tie a Rib Roast (Beef, Lamb or Pork):  Recipe yields instructions for properly tying a bone-in or boneless rib roast.

Special Equipment List:  butchers string; kitchen shears; large roasting pan w/rack insert

6a0120a8551282970b0147e13c129b970bCook's Note:  This ain't my first time at the old rodeo.  You'll usually catch me Frenching, trimming and tying my recipe for ~ Perfect "Prime" Rib (Standing Rib Roast) ~.  You can get the detailed instructions by Clicking into Categories 3, 11 or 21!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015) 

01/02/2015

~ How to: French a Rib Roast (Beef, Lamb or Pork) ~

IMG_0619Knowing how to "French" a rib roast is a very cheffy skill.  Like boning poultry or fileting fish, you won't graduate from culinary school unless you can do it proficiently.  The verb "to French" means to "strip the meat away from the bone of a rib or a chop to cleanly expose the bone."  It's done with the finesse and expertise of a fine surgeon using a scalpel.  This process not for everyone, and, if you're not concerned with an upscale restaurant-type presentation, it isn't even necessary.  In fact, if you don't have a long, thin, razer sharp knife, don't attempt it!

IMG_0544Once you've seen it demonstrated, and, after you've applied what you learned, you will conclude that the process is really quite simple.  That said, unless you're a professional who does it every day or at least many times a year, don't expect to French a roast in five or ten minutes.  I know what I'm doing and it still takes me about 45 minutes of fussing with each cut of the knife.

IMG_0470What and what not to purchase if you intend to French your roast: Always buy the best you can afford --  rib loins are an expensive cut of beef, lamb or pork, and, a few extra dollars can mean a big jump in quality.  Always buy a whole rack, consisting of eight+ rib sections.  Do not buy a vacuum-sealed roast if it has been pre-marinated or pre-rubbed.  If you are intending to cut your Frenched roast into chops, look for the words "rib chops" rather than "loin chops".  They come from farther back on the animal and contain meat from both the loin and tenderloin.  Purchasing it frozen is ok -- thaw it in the refrigerator.

IMG_0463^^^ I Frenched a rack-of-primo-pork for New Year's Day! ^^^

IMG_0477Open the package and familiarize yourself with the roast.  The top side (top photo) is the smooth side with the creamy fat cap left on top. Sometimes, the shoulder blade will be left on the top side too.  In the case of my roast, it is not.  The shoulder blade is a bone.  Examine the top of your roast.  If it is left on, it is easily IMG_0472recognized and easily removed by cutting lengthwise underneath it with your knife.

The bottom side (bottom photo)  is the boney rib side with a thin, tough membrane (known as the silverskin) left on.  As I said, you can stop right here and roast this according to the recipe directions, there is nothing wrong with that.

Ready, set, French!  This is an 8-pound, 9-rib, rib-loin pork roast:

Nine ribs?  Yes.  A good butcher will usually ask you how many people you are serving and give you one more rib than you need.  Why?  Because ribs run through the roast at a slight diagonal, not squarely.  When he cuts through them with his bandsaw, he can rarely avoid one on the end that will be rendered unusable as a chop.  If he doesn't ask, you now know to request this.

IMG_0488~ Step 1.  The easiet cut is the first one, and it comes off of the top side. Look carefully at your roast on both ends.  "Eyeball" where the big round chunks of chop meat end and the rib bones begin on both sides.  Mark this, at each end, with a small cut of the knife.  The reason this must be marked is because this is not going to be a straight cut across the roast -- it will be wider at one IMG_0498end and narrower at the other.

Following the natural slant of the meat, using smooth strokes of the knife (no sawing), cut downward and outward, at a slight angle (not straight down), across the entire length of the roast, until you reach IMG_0499the rib bones.  The end result will look exactly like this. ^^^  Well done!

Note:  As I work my way through the Frenching process, I am not discarding my trimmings.  I will be further trimming them and using them to make a pan sauce for my finished rack of pork.

IMG_0512~ Step 2.  Flip the roast over onto the bottom side.  Remember how you "eyeballed" and marked the top of the roast on both sides?  Do the same thing at both ends of the bottom.  Now, using the tip of your knife, cut through the membrane across the entire length of the roast. Don't just make marks, make sure you "muscle your way" through the membrane all the way to the bone.

IMG_0530~ Step 3.  Using your fingertips, locate the tops of the rib bones.

IMG_0527Cut through the tough membrane, across the top of each bone (perpendicular to the original cut across the length of the roast), through to the bone.  Cut on top of the bones, not in between them.

IMG_0574~ Step 4.  Now I'm going to use the blunt edge (back) of the knife to begin separating/scraping the membrane and the attached meat from the bones on three sides without cutting through to the cutting board.  I do this by pushing down on the knife while gently but firmly lifting up on each bone.  This requires a little patience, and some muscle too.  This is, for me, the most difficult part of the exercise.

IMG_0581~ Step 5.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, and, here is where I put down my knife.  I reach for a couple of paper towels.  With one or two tugs on each bone (while lifting each already loosened bone and tugging down with the towel holding the meat tab), I pull each "tab" of meat and membrane loose from the bones.

Note:  There are other methods of IMG_0597achieving this, but I opt for doing no harm to this roast or myself.

~ Step 6.  Take a deep breath because we are almost done and it is all downhill from here.  Flip the roast back over on the top side and pick up the knife again. Trim the loose meat tabs away from the top side of the roast, then, clean up any loose, frizzy ends that might be hanging by the bones. Here is a big photo of what this should look like:

IMG_0592One last item.  Finish trimming the top fat...

IMG_0611~ Step 7.  Every good butcher will do this for you, but, if you are Frenching your own roast, it most likely hasn't been done.  Look to the top left of the above photo.  There is a flappy, floppy excess layer of fat and thin layer of meat that needs to be trimmed. This is easy to do by lifting and slicing your way across the top.  The goal is to remove the excess layer of fat and leave the layer of fat underneath it.  

... while leaving a layer of fat remain on the top of the roast!

IMG_0626Frenching any roast is indeed a labor of love.  Experts will agree mine is a job well done.  Experts might criticize me because my rib bones turned a little red (instead of remaining pearly white).  Let the experts try to photograph this process without that happening.

Next Up:  ~ How & Why to Tie a Rib Roast (Beef, Lamb, Pork) ~  

IMG_0679How to:  French a Rib Roast (Beef, Lamb or Pork):  Recipe yields instructions for Frenching a standing rack of beef, lamb or pork.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; boning knife; patience -- lots of patience

6a0120a8551282970b0147e13c129b970bCook's Note:  This ain't my first time at the Frenching, trimming and tying rodeo -- have kitchen twine, will travel.  For another one of my favorite "Frenched recipes" click into Categories 3, 11 or 21 for ~ Perfect "Prime" Rib (Standing Rib Roast) ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)