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12 posts from January 2018

01/31/2018

~ Low & Slow-Cooked Crockpot-Casserole Meatloaf ~

IMG_3915Meatloaf cooked in the crockpot -- it's not crock-our-world crocket science.  Busy home cooks have been using Betty Crocker's method for slow-cooking meatloaf for decades.  Having been a stay-at-home-mom all my life, I've always cooked my mom's all-beef meatloaf in the traditional manner, by popping it into a 350° oven for about an hour, but, having tasted the crockpot-cooked versions of relatives and friends, I can report:  they're quite good.  For the most part, there's no discernible difference between a crockpot-cooked meatloaf vs. an oven-baked meatloaf.

That said, when it comes to catering to a crowd for a casual get-together, like at an indoor at-home tailgate or a make-and-take church-supper potluck, meatloaf doesn't up-front pop into the average cook's head as an option (at least not into my head) -- the machinations of making multiple meatloaves, freeform or otherwise, gets complicated and sloppy.  Those days are over.  

Crockpot-casserole meatloaf to feed a crowd?  

IMG_3896You betcha & it works great -- 16-20 hearty servings great.

IMG_3106Meet Crockpot's Casserole Crock. For me, it's my latest acquisition in a long line of slow cookers.  I now currently own ten different brands, models and sizes -- which is odd because, me, not-the-queen-of-crockpot-cooking, uses a slow cooker, maybe, five-six times a year. While Crockpot rightfully peddles this one as a casserole crock (because it is essentially a 13" x 9" x 3" casserole), and, it's intended to make-and-take slow-cooked casseroles (it's got lock-in-place handles and a stay-cool handle for carrying the entire contraption), I wondered if it might be possible to make one large, flattish meatloaf (amounting to three of my traditional meat loaves), and, slice and serve it, like a sheet cake, right out of the crock -- to feed a crowd.  It worked great.

IMG_74774 1/2-5  pounds lean or extra-lean ground beef (85/15 or 90/10)

3  extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

6  ounces saltine crackers (1 1/2 sleeves of crackers from a 1-pound box), crumbled by hand into small bits and pieces, not processed to crumbs.

1 1/2  cups milk

4 1/2  tablespoons salted butter

2 1/4  cups small-diced yellow or sweet onion

2 1/4  cups small-diced celery

3/4  cup dried parsley leaves

3  .13-ounce packets G. Washington's Rich Brown Seasoning and Broth Mix (Note:  This WWII-era dehydrated spice mixture was created by Paul J. Campbell in 1937 to replace instant broth/bouillon.  It was a well-known family secret of my grandmother's and I keep it on-hand so I can duplicate her recipes without fail.  It's available at many local grocery stores and on-line.)

2 1/4  teaspoons salt

2 1/4  teaspoons coarsely-ground black pepper

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing crockpot casserole

IMG_7478 IMG_7478 IMG_7478 IMG_7478~Step 1.  Place the ground beef in a large bowl.  Using a fork, lightly beat the eggs and add them to the meat.  Using your hands (it's the most efficient way), thoroughly combine the two.

IMG_7491 IMG_7491 IMG_7491 IMG_7491 IMG_7511~Step 2.  Using your fingertips, crush the crackers into small bits and pieces, letting them fall into a medium mixing bowl as you work. Add the milk and stir to combine. Set aside about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the crackers to absorb all of the milk.  The mixture will be thick and pasty.  Add the cracker mixture to the beef/egg mixture, and once again, using your hands, thoroughly combine.

IMG_7507 IMG_7507 IMG_7507 IMG_7507 IMG_7507 IMG_7507~Step 3.  In a 12" skillet melt butter over low heat. Add the diced onion and celery along with the G.Washington's Seasoning, salt and pepper. Adjust heat to medium- medium-high and sauté until both onion and celery are nicely softened, 4-5 minutes.  Stir in the parsley, remove from heat and allow to cool for 30 full minutes.  Add the cool but still-a-little warm vegetable mixture to the meat.  Using your hands, thoroughly combine.

IMG_3143 IMG_3143 IMG_3143 IMG_3143 IMG_3896 IMG_3896~Step 4.  Spray the inside of the casserole crock with no-stick cooking spray.  Scoop the raw meatloaf mixture into the crock, and, using your hands, pat and press it flat, into the crock.  Place the lid on the top and cook on low for 5 hours.  Lift the lid.  The meatloaf will have shrunk back from the sides of the crock and be slightly-domed through to the center.  Using a pair of oven mitts or pot holders, lift the crock from the crockpot and tilt, to drain and discard the excess fatty liquid from the crock.   (A meat baster can be used to remove the liquid if lifting the hot crock scares you.)  Slice and serve, like you would a sheet cake, or, return crock to crockpot cover and keep warm for up to 1 hour prior to slicing and serving.

Think inside the box & dare to be square:

IMG_3904Make one huge meatloaf that feeds a crowd.

IMG_3914Put this in your crockpot-casserole recipe book and cook it! 

IMG_3927Low & Slow-Cooked Crockpot-Casserole Meatloaf:  Recipe yields 16-20 hearty servings.

Special Equipment List:  fork; 2-cup measuring container; cutting board; chef's knife; 12" nonstick skillet; nonstick spoon or spatula; Crockpot casserole crock

IMG_3221IMG_3175Cook's Note: For another one of my recipes featuring Crockpot's casserole crock, check out my recipe for ~ Bone-Suckin' Slow-Cooker Baby-Back Spare-Ribs ~. I used two casserole crocks as vehicles for baby-back ribs (trimmed to fit into their bottoms), to slow-cook three huge racks, evenly, in comfort -- single-layer spa-style.

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

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

01/29/2018

~ Open Sesame: Japanese Teriyaki Steak Skewers ~

IMG_3837Place a platter of these appetizers on the cocktail table and I'll bet they disappear before bets can be taken on how long it will take them to disappear.  Put a platter of them on the dinner table alongside a fresh vegetable stir-fry and some steamed white rice, and, when served as a family-friendly dinner, they won't last any longer.  A bottle of teriyaki sauce has been a staple condiment in my pantry for as long as I've had a pantry, standing right next to the elites:  Heinz ketchup, French's mustard, Hellman's mayonnaise and Lee & Perrin's worcestershire sauce.  That said, teriyaki sauce is seriously simple to make, and, it can be customized to suit your taste.

Served as a tailgate appetizer or a family-friendly dinner...

IMG_3864... it's impossible to make too many teriyaki skewers.

6a0120a8551282970b019104cecf48970cTeriyaki (tehr-uh-yah-kee):  Teriyaki is a Japanese term referring to a method of cooking beef, chicken or seafood that has been marinated (in a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, sugar, garlic and/or ginger) prior to being grilled, broiled or stir-fried. "Teri" is the Japanese word for "luster", and it is the sugar in the marinade that gives the food its "teri" or shiny glaze.  It's interesting to note that in Japan, there is no official teriyaki sauce.  Teriyaki sauce was invented by the early Japanese settlers to the islands of Hawaii.  They created:  

IMG_3870A slightly-sweet nicely-thickened marinade/basting sauce using local, readily-available, easy-to-acquire Hawaiian products.  For example: pineapple juice (in place of the mirin or sake of their homeland) and wild garlic (in conjuction with ginger they brought with them), mixed with soy sauce and thickened with cornstarch.  The subject at hand (beef, chicken or seafood) is marinated for a minimum of 30 minutes, longer for a more pronounced flavor, then cooled. Because teriyaki sauce is sweet, a portion of the marinade is typically reserved to use as a dipping sauce when the dish is served.

Cook on an outdoor grill, grill pan, or, under a broiler...

IMG_3800... my foolproof preference is a grill pan on the stovetop.

IMG_3723For the teriyaki sauce:

1  cup tamari soy sauce or soy sauce

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

1/2 cup white or brown sugar or honey

2  tablespoons each: garlic and ginger garlic paste

8  teaspoons cornstarch or potato starch

8  teaspoons cold water

6a0120a8551282970b0148c7a5f446970cStep 1.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cold water and cornstarch until smooth.

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

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

IMG_3726For the flank steak skewers:

3  total cups teriyaki sauce, from above recipe, 3 cups for marinating steak, and, to be reheated to use as dipping sauce

2 pounds flank steak, sliced across  grain into 1/4"-thick strips

30-36  8" wooden skewers

lightly-toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

scallion tops, for garnish

IMG_3729 IMG_3729 IMG_3729 IMG_3729 IMG_3746~Step 1.  Place the whole flank steak, flat, on a large cutting board. Using a large chef's knife held at a 30º angle, cut the meat, across the grain, into 1/4" inch-thick slices.  

~ Step 2.  One-at-a-time, thread each slice of steak onto a 10" long wooden skewer, to within 3" of the top of each skewer, which will serve as a handle for easily flipping the meat over on the grill pan.

IMG_3749 IMG_3749 IMG_3749~ Step 3.  Pictured here are 2, plastic, 1-quart food storage containers.  I got them for free, with the granola I purchase at the grocery store.  My kitchen is never without a stack of them.  With the containers laying on their sides, arrange the meat skewers inside each one, stacking the skewers on top of one another. Turn the containers upright, then, slowly drizzle all of the marinade between the two, 1 1/2 cups marinade in each container.  Place in the refrigerator to marinate the meat for 2-4-6 hours.

IMG_3771 IMG_3771 IMG_3771 IMG_3771 IMG_3771 IMG_3771~Step 4.  When the beef is finished marinating, pour the marinade from the containers into a 1-1 1/2-quart saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat and continue to simmer gently for 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

IMG_3769 IMG_3769 IMG_3769 IMG_3769 IMG_3769 IMG_3808 IMG_3808~Step 5.  Spray a large two-burner-sized grill pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Place the pan on stovetop, over two burners, over medium-high heat.  Place the skewers, side-by-side, and cook until sizzling and lightly-golden, turning only once, 3-3 1/2 minutes per side.  Serve hot, warm or room temperature.

Plate, garnish & serve hot, warm or at room temperature:

IMG_3825There's no need for me try to sell you on how good these are:

IMG_3877Open Sesame:  Japanese Teriyaki Steak Skewers:  Recipe yields 3 cups teriyaki sauce and 30-36 teriyaki-steak skewers.

Special Equipment List:  1-cup measuring container; 1-quart saucepan; small whisk; cutting board; chef's knife; 30-36, 8" long wooden skewers; 2, 1-quart food storage containers, the reusable kind left from store-bought granola and various snacks;  large, 2-burner-sized grill pan placed on the stovetop 

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c86dc1e7970bCook's Note: Here in my Pennsylvania kitchen, my family prefers their teriyaki steak threaded onto skewers and cooked on the grill or grill pan.  When it comes to their teriyaki chicken, they prefer it presented stir-fry style.  Click on this link to get my recipe for ~ Dinner's in 20 Minutes:  Teriyaki Chicken ~.

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

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

01/26/2018

~ Deli Corned Beef on Swirl with Sauerkraut & Swiss ~

IMG_3673The Reuben sandwich.  I crave one once or twice a year.  And when I do, I don't waste time baking homemade rye bread, slow-cooking corned beef, long-simmering sauerkraut, or, whisking salad dressing.  I don't try to save time by ordering delivery or take out either -- I don't live anywhere close to a NY-style deli that can begin to make this sandwich the way I like it.  I take the 10-minute drive to the grocery store, pick up the ingredients and pass through the express checkout.  Store-bought everything is fine.  In about 45-minutes, including the drive time, I am eating my sandwich -- heaped with thin folds of meat and sloppy with sauerkraut, gooey cheese and creamy dressing on butter-crisped bread -- and I don't end up with a lot of leftover anything.  

When it comes to the combination of complex, briney flavors people expect on a Reuben, it's best to stick to simple, straight-forward, and most-importantly:  familiar.

IMG_3700The classic Reuben sandwich consists of rye bread, Swiss cheese, thinly sliced/shaved corned beef, sauerkraut and Russian dressing. The Rachel sandwich is a variation that substitutes pastrami for the corned beef, and, Thousand-Island-dressed-coleslaw for the sauerkraut and Russian dressing. Someone, somewhere, decided turkey would be a viable substitute for corned beef or pastrami when making a Rachel, so, if turkey is your thing, order your Rachel that way.

6a0120a8551282970b015391ee84b6970bAs you know, I usually like to do a little research about the history of the recipes I share with you.  I thought the story behind the classic Reuben would be interesting and straight-forward: Most likely named after someone named Reuben who accidentally put some sauerkraut on a corned beef sandwich and made history.  I was wrong. Official claim to the name of this sandwich has been in dispute for 90+ years. In my opinion, two claims seem to have some share in its name, but I lean towards Claim to Fame #1. You be your own judge and jury:

Claim to Fame #1:  Reuben Kulakofsky, a Lithuanian grocer from Omaha created a sandwich consisting of corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut on Russian rye bread for his poker buddies.  From 1920-1935, "the committee" as they called themselves, played weekly poker at The Blackstone Hotel.  The hotel's owner, Charles Schimmel was a member of the group. Schimmel put the sandwich on the hotel's lunch menu and named if after its creator, "Reuben". In 1956, Fern Snider, a former waitress at the Blackstone entered "The Reuben" in a national sandwich competition and she won.  I, for one, am grateful to Fern for doing that.

Claim to Fame #2:  Arnold Reuben, a German owner of Reuben's Delicatessen in New York City, invented the "Reuben's Special" in 1914. Late one night, a leading lady and close friend of Charlie Chaplin came into the deli and said, "Reuben, please make me a huge sandwich.  I'm so hungry I could eat a brick." The sandwich he presented to her consisted of:  rye bread, Virginia ham, roast turkey, Swiss cheese, cole slaw and his own house-made Russian dressing.  Upon tasting it, the lady said, "Reuben, this is the best sandwich I ever ate.  You should call it the Annette Seelos Special."  Reuben replied, "The hell I will, I'm calling it the Reuben's Special".

IMG_3592A bit about sauerkraut:  Although sauerkraut (German for "sour cabbage") is thought of as a German invention, Chinese laborers building The Great Wall of China over 2,000 years ago ate it as standard fare.  Chinese sauerkraut, made from shredded cabbage fermented in rice wine, eventually found its way to Europe, where the Germans and Alsatians adopted it as a favorite staple. Today's sauerkraut is made in the same manner: by combining shredded cabbage, salt and some spices, then allowing the mixture to ferment.  It is packaged in jars and cans and is found in almost every supermarket.  The best sauerkraut is sold by the pound in delicatessens, as well as in the refrigerated section of grocery stores, where it is packaged in plastic bags.  All sauerkraut should be rinsed in cold water before being served as a side-dish, being cooked in casseroles, or, topping sandwiches.

IMG_3628For each deli-style sandwich:

2  slices Pepperidge Farm swirl bread (rye and pumpernickel)

2  tablespoons salted butter

4 ounces shredded Danish Havarti cheese, or Swiss cheese

6  ounces thin-sliced corned beef

4  ounces sauerkraut 

4  teaspoons Russian dressing

IMG_3608For 1 pound (2 cups) sauerkraut:

1  pound deli-style sauerkraut

1/2  cup diced yellow or sweet onion

4 tablespoons salted butter (1/2 stick butter)

1/2  teaspoon caraway seeds

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

1/2  teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper

IMG_3596For 1 1/2 cups "Russian" Dressing:

IMG_3599Note: Thousand Island and Russian dressings are similar, with Russian being more ketchup-y. Here's my store-bought way to make Russian:

3/4  cup Thousand Island Dressing, your favorite brand

1/2  cup Heinz chili sauce

IMG_3602Stir the dressing and chili sauce together and set aside while preparing sauerkraut and sandwiches.  Refrigerate leftovers.

IMG_3610 IMG_3610 IMG_3610 IMG_3610 IMG_3610 IMG_3610~Step 1.  Place the sauerkraut in a colander. Thoroughly rinse it under cold water.  Allow it to drain for about 5 minutes.  In a large skillet, melt butter over low heat.  Stir in the caraway seeds, sea salt and black pepper pepper.  Add the diced onion.  Adjust heat to sauté for 3 minutes.  Add the sauerkraut, give the mixture a thorough stir, and continue to sauté, stirring frequently for 6 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Note:  Technically, once  taken out of the package, drained, and rinsed, sauerkraut is fully-cooked and ready to eat.  That said, it's awesome when briefly sautéed with some butter, onion and seasonings.  Skip this step and use it "as is', right out of the colander if that is your preference. 

IMG_3632 IMG_3632 IMG_3632 IMG_3632 IMG_3632 IMG_3632~Step 2.  Cut two slices of bread in half to form 4 pieces.  In a 10" nonstick skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over low heat.    Add bread to the skillet and increase heat to medium-high, to gently fry, until slices are lightly golden on both sides, 45-60 seconds per side.  Transfer the lightly-toasted bread to a paper towel lined plate. 

IMG_3651 IMG_3651 IMG_3651 IMG_3651 IMG_3651 IMG_3651~Step 3.  Top two of the halves with 2 ounces grated cheese, followed by 3 ounces corned beef, followed by 2 ounces sauerkraut.  Place the untopped halves on top of each to form sandwich halves.  Place on an appropriately-sized baking pan that has been lined with parchment, or, a disposable aluminum broiler pan (the kind with the corrugated bottom).  Bake on center rack of preheated 350° oven or toaster oven, until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 4 minutes.  Remove from oven, lift the top slice of bread from each half sandwich and drizzle with Russian dressing.  Serve immediately with pickles and potato chips.

Lift up the lids (tops) & drizzle w/Russian dressing:

IMG_3694Indulge in crunchy, cheesy, meaty, briny brilliance:

IMG_3718Deli Corned Beef on Swirl with Sauerkraut & Swiss:  Recipe yields 1 1/2 cups Russian dressing, 2 cups sauerkraut, and, instructions to make as many Reuben sandwiches as you want to make.

Special Equipment List:  2-cup measuring container; spoon; colander; cutting board; chef's knife; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight deep sides, or large skillet; large spoon; hand-held box grater; 10" nonstick skillet; paper towels; kitchen scale (optional but helpful); appropriately-sized baking pan; parchment paper or toaster-oven sized disposable aluminum broiler pan

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d26416b1970c-800wiCook's Note: I put my ~ Pretty in Pink:  Thousand Island Dressing ~ on deli-style and my own oven-roasted chicken and turkey sandwiches all the time.  To use it in a Rachel Sandwich made with turkey or pastrami, simply use it to dress a bag of store-bought coleslaw mix -- it's truly yummy.

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

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

01/24/2018

~ Hatch Green Chile Chili with Pork and White Beans ~

IMG_3562Having traveled to Mexico and New Mexico, I've eaten green chili a few times -- twice "as is", out of a bowl with tortilla chips, and once, burrito-style (wrapped up in a flour tortilla with avocado, scallion, cilantro and crema).  It was excellent -- different, but excellent.  That said, each time I ate it, I secretly wished there were beans in it -- and maybe a little jalapeño Jack cheese added to the latter one too.  Today's the big day.  White beans are going into my green chili and I can't wait. In many regions of Mexico and New Mexico I'd be cast out on the streets for this, but, within the confines of my Pennsylvania kitchen, I am the chili-verde-with-pork-and-beans-queen.

IMG_3530Native to Northern Mexico, chili verde (green chili) is a green-colored, slow-simmered, broth-based stew made with pork butt, green chile peppers, onions and a variety of herbs and spices. For a citrusy tang, lime juice is typically squeezed over each portion just prior to serving, and, other versions include tomatillos too, for a more pronounced tang, and, a deeper, more complex flavor.  No two cooks make it the same way, so, don't fall prey to recipes claiming to be authentic. 

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09b92ca1970dMexican and New-Mexico-style red chili recipes use red ingredients: red chiles or red chile powder and/or red tomatoes. Their green chili recipes use green ingredients:  green chiles or green hatch chiles and tomatillos.  A common misconception is:  green chili is mild and red chili is hot.  Not true.  Both range from mild-and-soothing to knock-your-socks-off hot.

In New Mexico chile peppers grow in abundance everywhere.  It's believed they were brought to NM, from Central America, by the Spanish, in the 1500's.  The most common New Mexican chile is long, narrow and picked while green and is mostly grown from much-coveted heirloom seeds.

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c9160141970b"New Mexico chiles" can be from anywhere in New Mexico, and, when buying any green or red NM chiles, they're usually offered up as mild, medium, hot, or extra hot, meaning:  not as a specific variety. That said, the Hatch chile is from Hatch, a small village in the southern part of the state, and, while it's not a variety of chile pepper, both inside and outside the state of New Mexico, it's sold as a "Hatch chile". It's become so popular that every Labor Day weekend, Hatch, known as the Chile Capital of the World, hosts the Hatch Chile Festival, which draws more than 30,000 people each year.

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c9148dda970b"Tomatillo", also called "tomate verde", means "husk tomato" with "verde" meaning "green" in Spanish. The tomatillo is a member of the nightshade family, which, while related to the red tomato family, and remarkably similar in appearance to the green tomato, cannot be used interchangeably with green tomatoes.  It's a staple in every Tex-Mex gardener's garden.  The fruit of the tomatillo is green and relatively small compared to red tomatoes (about the size of a large, cherry tomato).  They grow to maturity inside of an inedible husk (which gets disgarded), and, range in color from pale green to  light brown.  The tomatillo is a staple in Mexican ethnic cuisine.

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d29f5e01970cThat said, here in Happy Valley, fresh tomatillos are sometimes hard to find, and, even when I find them, it's always a bit of a hassle to ask the produce manager if I can peel back the husks to insure the fruit is firm (not squishy) and ripe (green).  

In case you don't know, always look for tomatillos that have filled their husks or broken through their husks (photo to right) -- no matter their size, this means they're fully mature. Avoid tomatillos that look withered or dried out (see photo below).

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c91511a8970bOnce you get them home, remove the husks and rinse the tomatillos off (because they will be sticky), then use them as directed (which typically requires simmering or broiling as the first step) and/or store in the refrigerator for a longer shelf life.  That said, high quality canned tomatillos are a staple in my pantry. They've already been simmered until soft -- all I have to do is thoroughly drain them. Speaking in approximations, I've deduced:

one 28-ounce can = 2 pounds fresh

6a0120a8551282970b01a73de6d7cf970d"Pork butt" or "Boston butt", is a bone-in cut of pork that comes from the upper part of the "pork shoulder" from the front leg of the hog. Smoked or barbecued, Boston butt is a southern tradition.  This cut of meat got its name in pre-Revolutionary War New England:

6a0120a8551282970b01a511db8178970cButchers in Boston left the blade bone in this inexpensive cut of pork shoulder then packed and stored the meat in casks called "butts". They sold the pork shoulders individually to their customers, and, when they got popular, they began shipping "the butts" Southward and throughout the Colonies.  Simply stated:  the way the hog shoulder was butchered, combined with "the butt" they arrived in, evolved into the name "Boston butt".

Today's the day.  White beans are going into my green chili.

IMG_33971  bone-in Boston butt pork roast, about 7-8 pounds total

1/4  cup corn oil

2  ounces restaurant-style tortilla chips, crushed to crumbs (a generous 1/2 cup)

1  tablespoon sea salt, total throughout recipe, 2 teaspoons for seasoning pork cubes and 1 teaspoon for seasoning veggies

5  cups medium-diced yellow or sweet onion

3  cups medium-diced green bell peppers

2  tablespoons ground cumin

1  tablespoon dried Mexican oregano

1  tablespoon garlic powder

1  teaspoon ground jalapeño pepper

1  cup fine-chopped fresh cilantro

1  28-ounce can tomatillos, drained of excess liquid without "squishing" the moisture out of the soft tomatillos

1  16-ounce jar Santa Fe Seasons Hatch Green Chile, hot or mild

3  cups chicken stock

1  40-ounce can great northern beans, undrained

IMG_3371 IMG_3371 IMG_3371 IMG_3371 IMG_3371 IMG_3371 IMG_3371~Step 1.  Remove pork butt from packaging.  Trim off bottom fat layer. Starting at the bone-free-end, cut it into 3/4"-1"-thick steaks, then, cut each steak into 1"-1 1/4" chunks.  When you get to the bone-in-end, do your best to cut around the bone, once again, cutting the meat into 1"-1 1/4" chunks.  As you work, discard any chunks that are almost all fat.  When finished, there will be 4+ pounds of trimmed, nicely-marbled pork butt.  The goal is to have well-marbled pieces, not, fat-laden chunks.

IMG_3411 IMG_3411 IMG_3411 IMG_3411 IMG_3411 IMG_3411~Step 2.  Place and heat the 1/4 cup oil in a 14" chef's pan over medium-high heat.  Add the pork cubes and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the sea salt.  Adjust heat to sauté, using a large spatula to stir frequently, until meat is lightly-browned on all sides, and almost no liquid remains in bottom of pan, about 18-20-22 minutes.  Turn the heat off. Using a large slotted spoon or spatula, transfer meat to a large bowl and briefly set aside. 

IMG_3453 IMG_3453 IMG_3453 IMG_3453 IMG_3453~Step 3.  Immediately after transferring the meat to a large bowl, use a kitchen scale to weigh 2-ounces of restaurant-style tortilla chips and place them in a ziplock bag.  Using a small rolling pin, crush the chips to crumbs.  Add the chip crumbs to the meat in the bowl.  Using a large spoon, stir to evenly coat the meat in the crumbs.  Set aside.

IMG_3437 IMG_3437 IMG_3437 IMG_3437~Step 4.  Reheat the drippings remaining in the pan over low heat.  Add the onions, bell peppers and dry spices (cumin, Mexican oregano, garlic powder, jalapeño pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon sea salt).  Using a large spoon, stir to coat the veggies in the spices, adjust heat to medium and cook, stirring almost constantly, until vegetables are softened, 5-6 minutes.

IMG_3472 IMG_3472 IMG_3472 IMG_3472 IMG_3472 IMG_3472 IMG_3472 IMG_3472~Step 5.  Add and stir in the chip-coated meat cubes, followed by the cilantro, Hatch chiles, tomatillos, beans and stock, stirring after each addition.  Adjust heat to a gentle, steady simmer.

IMG_3500 IMG_3500 IMG_3500 IMG_3500~Step 6.  Partially cover the pan and simmer gently for 2-2 1/2 hours, stopping to stir occasionally every 10-15 minutes.  Turn the heat off, cover the pan and allow to steep for 2-2 1/2 hours, to allow the flavors to marry, prior to serving, or, refrigerate overnight prior to gently reheating on the stovetop and serving the next day.  As it is with all chili recipes, overnight is awesome.

Topped w/lime, green onion tops, cilantro, avocado & crema:

IMG_3537It's easy being green:

IMG_3589Hatch Green Chile Chili with Pork and White Beans:  Recipe yields 4 quarts.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 14", 7-quart, chef's pan w/straight deep sides & lid; spatula; large slotted spoon; kitchen scale; 1-gallon ziplock bag; small rolling pin

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2a01348970cCook's Note: Like recipes for chili verde, enchiladas are a Tex-Mex specialty that taste a bit different everywhere you eat them too.  In a Mexican-American restaurant or in the home kitchen, they are lightly-fried corn or flour tortillas that have been dipped in a roasted Hatch green chile and tomatillo-based sauce.  The word "enchilada" comes from the Spanish word "enchilar" which means "to add chile pepper to".  To learn more, read my recipe ~ New-Mexico-Style Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas ~.

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

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

01/21/2018

~ Happy Valley PA's Pop's Mexi-Hots Hot Dog Sauce ~

IMG_3352Yesterday was a big day.  During a stop at Meyer's Dairy, I got my first taste of a Pop's Mexi-Hot hot dog, complete with Pop's ground-beef-based and chili-powder-laced sauce, ballpark mustard and diced onion.  Considering what I always tell my friends, "I was a hot dog in a past life", I can't believe I've lived in Happy Valley forty-two years and never tried one.  What I knew about State College's iconic Pop's Mexi-Hots yesterday was zero.  Today, after the fact, it's a different story.

IMG_3370Mexi-Hots is a Pennsylvania, registered, fictitiously-named business, originally filed on February 4, 1948 (the company will celebrate it 70th birthday on February 4th, 2018).  The filing status is active.  The company's principal address, originally on the the corner of College Avenue and Pugh Street in downtown State College and owned by the Carelas family, is currently located at 2390 South Atherton Street -- Pop's Mexi-Hots are now made by and sold at Meyer's Dairy.

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d0a57be4970cMeet Meyer Dairy.  Founded in 1970 by two  brothers and located just four short miles from my kitchen door, I have been buying milk and ice cream from these folks since the day I moved to Happy Valley in 1974.  Joseph Meyer, the owner explains, "We're farmers, so we produce our own milk.  We put in a drop tank to bring it up from the farm to process and bottle it in our shop."  Over the years they added many varieties of ice-cream, and the flavors change daily. Besides one of their generous cones of the creamy-dreamy stuff, there's plenty of room to sit down and enjoy a Mexi-Hot or a hamburger too.  They sell lots of other local and PA based products too:  grilled stickies from The College Diner, apple butter from the Lions Club and Middleswarth potato chips.

After pondering, calculating, weighing, measuring & testing...

IMG_3324... I believe the force was with me & I couldn't be more pleased.

IMG_3299 IMG_3299My copycat version evolved by combining two vintage recipes (given to me by girlfriends Elaine and Karen), in conjunction with taste testing my experiments alongside Meyer's Mexi-Hots in my kitchen (I brought a six-pack home with me yesterday).  Many vintage recipes claim to be the original -- the two shared with me were no exception. That said, even if a recipe is indeed the original (few are handed out freely and most go rogue via disgruntled ex-chefs or former employees), the rightful-owner of the original will almost never confirm it, and, the point is not worth argument. Their standard retort is, "the secret ingredient is missing".  I can tell you with certainty:  my version is pretty damned close.  Dang close.

IMG_3251

2 1/2  pounds lean ground beef

1  quart water

1/4  cup white vinegar

2  tablespoons vegetable oil

1  pound yellow or sweet onion, cut into 1"-1 1/2" chunks (about 2, medium-large onions)

1/2  pound celery, cut into 1"-1 1/2" chunks (about 5 large ribs)

8  ounces green bell pepper, white rib sections removed and cut into 1"-1 1/2" chunks (about 2 large green bell peppers)

1  tablespoon paprika

6  tablespoons chili powder

1  tablespoon celery salt

2  tablespoons salt

1  tablespoon black pepper

IMG_3253 IMG_3253 IMG_3253~ Step 1.  Let's get crazy over with first.  Place the ground meat in a large bowl and add 1-quart of water and 1/4 cup white vinegar.  Using your hands, squish this all together until a soupy, unappetizing, mess-of-a-mixture forms.  As strange, weird and appalling as this will seem, "back in the day" this was the common treatment for ground meat used in long-simmered, slow-simmered chili-type sauces (and various soup recipes too) -- it kept the texture of the beef soft and steamy, and, the bits of meat separate (as opposed to quickly sautéing it which yields a drier, chunkier, lumpier mixture).

IMG_3261 IMG_3261 IMG_3261 IMG_3261 IMG_3261~Step 2.  In a wide-bottomed 4-quart stockpot, place the vegetable oil.  In work bowl of food processor fitted with the steel blade, place the chunked onions.  Using a series of 18-20 rapid on-off pulses mince the onion. Transfer the minced onion to the stockpot.  Add celery and green pepper to processor.  Using a series of 18-20 rapid on-off pulses, mince the celery and bell pepper together.  Transfer them to the stockpot with the minced onion.  

Note:  The alternative is to take the time to mince (mince -- not fine-dice) the vegetables by hand, transferring them to the stockpot as you work.  The food processor is a huge time-saver.

IMG_3280 IMG_3280 IMG_3280 IMG_3280 IMG_3280 IMG_3280 IMG_3280 IMG_3280~Step 3.  Over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, sweat the vegetables until steaming and soft, 5-6 minutes.  Add and stir in the spices (the paprika, chili powder, celery salt, sea salt and black pepper).  Cook for 1 minute.  Add the soupy meat.  Bring to a rapid simmer, reduce heat to a gentle, steady simmer, then, continue to cook, stirring every 10-15 minutes, for 2 hours.  For best results, place the pot in the refrigerator overnight.  Reheat prior to serving or freezing.

Would you like a side of mac 'n cheese with that?

IMG_3358Scrumptious right down to the last Mexi-hot bite:

IMG_3362Happy Valley PA's Pop's Mexi-Hots Hot Dog Sauce:  Recipe yields a generous 2-quarts/8+ cups Pop's Mexi-Hot hot dog sauce w/each 1 cup being enough to sauce 6-8 hot dogs.

Special Equipment List:  4-cup measuring container; cutting board; chef's knife; food processor (optional); 4-quart wide-bottomed stockpot w/lid; large spoon

Texas Chili Dogs #2 (4 Dogs Exit Picture)Cook's Note: In the 1950's, 60's and 70's my hometown of Tamaqua had two hot spots to eat hot dogs:  The Texas Lunch and The Coney Island. Trust me when I tell you, Texas-style chili sauce for hot dogs and Mexi-hot-style chili sauce for hot dogs, while similar in appearance, are two entirely different products.  To learn more, and get my recipe, click here:  ~ Mel's Texas-Style Chili Sauce & Texas Chili Dogs ~.

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

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

01/18/2018

~ Bone-Suckin' Slow-Cooker Baby-Back Spare-Ribs ~

IMG_3221The machinations of making ribs in a slow cooker never seemed right to me -- kind of like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  I've seen people bend entire racks, slice and stack sections, even cut them into individual riblets   That type of rib abuse is why I never attempted it, but, as a person who likes my ribs fall-of-the-bone tender, there was never a doubt the slow cooker could achieve that.  After all, just like a Dutch oven placed on the stovetop or in the oven, it's what slow cookers do, tenderize meat -- especially the cheap, tough cuts.  The lid seals and traps the heat and moisture in the pot, preventing evaporation and heat loss, which provides plenty of time for everything-that-can-make-meat-tough (the muscle, connective tissue and fat) to break down.

IMG_3106Meet Crockpot's Casserole Crock. For me, it's my latest acquisition in a long line of slow cookers.  I now currently own ten different brands, models and sizes -- which is odd because, me, not-the-queen-of-crockpot-cooking, uses a slow cooker, maybe, five-six times a year. While Crockpot rightfully peddles this one as a casserole crock (because it is essentially a 13" x 9" x 3" casserole), and, it's intended to make-and-take slow-cooked casseroles (it's got lock-in-place handles and a stay-cool handle for carrying the entire contraption), I saw it as a vehicle for baby-back ribs (trimmed to fit into it's bottom), to cook evenly, in comfort -- single-layer spa-style.

IMG_3175I bought two.  Simmer down.  At about $45.00 each, it wasn't that big of an investment.  My rational was: Joe buys baby-back ribs vacuum-packed at Sam's club.  Each package contains three racks.  After eye-balling the dimensions of the Crockpot Casserole, I knew with certainty, that between the two of them, I could slow-cook all three racks -- to feed a crowd.  With the Super Bowl coming up in a few short weeks, I couldn't wait to plug them in for their maiden voyages today.

Important Note:  Armed with two crockpot casseroles, for my own purposes, I am slow-cooking three very large racks of baby-back spare-ribs this afternoon.  That said, past this sentence, the recipe is written for one crockpot casserole which will accommodate two small racks of ribs. 

IMG_3118Because the inside bottom dimensions of the casserole are approximately 11" x 6", that requires cutting each rack of baby-back ribs into either 2, 11" lengths (cut each rack in half), or, 3, 6" lengths (cut each rack into thirds).  Besides being more manageable, I chose 6" lengths because they are a perfect portion for each person.

IMG_3115 IMG_3115 IMG_3115 IMG_3134 IMG_3134~Step 1.  To prepare the ribs for seasoning, pat them dry in some paper towels and remove the silverskin from the underside of each rack.  If you don't know how to do this, read my post ~ How to: Remove the Silverskin from Spareribs ~.  Using a large chef's knife, slice each rack into thirds. Lightly sprinkle each section, top and bottom, with your favorite seasoning blend or rub.  See Cook's Note at the end of this post for my favorite brand.

IMG_3143 IMG_3143 IMG_3143Step 2.  Spray the inside of the crock casserole with no-stick cooking spray. Arrange the ribs to fit, in a single layer, slightly-overlapping in a spot or two if necessary.  As I expected, four of the largest sections and five of the smallest sections, fit snugly and nicely between the two crocks respectively.  Nicely done.

IMG_3161 IMG_3161 IMG_3161 IMG_3161 IMG_3183 IMG_3183~Step 3.  Using a back and forth motion, slowly drizzle 3/4 cup your favorite barbecue sauce over the tops of the ribs. Cover the crockpot. Cook on high for 2 hours, then, low for 2 hours. The tip of a knife or the tines of a fork, when pierced between any two ribs will easily glide through and come out on the other side.  If desired, adjust heat to keep ribs warm for up to 1 hour prior to finishing them as directed in the next step.

IMG_3193 IMG_3193 IMG_3193 IMG_3193 IMG_3193 IMG_3193~Step 4.  Preheat broiler with oven rack positioned about 5" under the heat.  Line a large baking pan with aluminum foil, then place a sheet of parchment in the bottom of pan.  Open crockpot and remove the ribs, arranging them slightly apart on the baking pan.  Using a large pastry brush generously slather the the tops with additional barbecue sauce.  Finish ribs off under the broiler for 3-4 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and just starting to to show signs of light browning.  Watch carefully.  All barbecue sauces contain some form of sugar, which can and will go from lightly-browned to burned quickly.

Plate 'em & serve 'em for dinner (w/plenty of napkins)... 

IMG_3220... or slice 'em & serve 'em as appetizers (w/plenty of napkins):

IMG_3242Bone-Suckin' Slow-Cooker Baby-Back Spare-Ribs:  Recipe yields 2-4 servings per casserole (allowing 1/3-1/2-rack per person).

Special Equipment List:  paper towels; cutting board; chef's knife; crockpot casserole; 1-cup measuring container; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; aluminum foil; parchment paper; pastry brush

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d0be333d970cCook's Note:  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 -- as it does to all of us.

IMG_3126Extra Cook's Note:  Bone Suckin' Sauce and Bone Suckin' Seasoning and Rub -- together.  Oh.  My.  Sigh.

My pantry nor I would never be caught without this dynamic duo in it -- I buy the sauce by the case.  My family would simply disown me. Created to go together, they're an addictive, well-balanced blend of sweet-savory BBQ perfection -- both are bright, fresh and crisp with a hint of smokey flavor.  For sprinkling and rubbing to dipping, drizzling, slathering, or basting, there isn't anything, from A-Z in the world of barbecue, they're not fantastic on.

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

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

01/15/2018

~ Say Cheese Please: Making Perfect Welsh Rarebit ~

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

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

IMG_3077Welsh rarebit or rabbit = molten cheese on toast. 

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

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

IMG_29932  tablespoons salted butter

2  tablespoons flour

1   teaspoon dry English mustard

1  teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2  teaspoon onion salt

1/4  teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2  cup milk

1/2  cup beer, your favorite brand 

1 1/4  cups shredded yellow cheddar cheese

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve ASAP -- while hot & bubbling.

IMG_3078Pick up a knife & stick a fork in it:

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

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

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

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

01/12/2018

~ Well-Seasoned Vegetarian Vegetable & Bean Soup ~

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

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

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

Everybody into the pot:  One-Step Vegetarian Bean Soup.

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

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

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

2  cups peeled and small-diced carrots 

2  cups small-diced celery 

2  cups small-diced onion

4  cups peeled and small-diced gold potatoes 

1  cup, minced, fresh parsley 

4  whole bay leaves

4  teaspoons sea salt

2  teaspoons coarsely-ground or cracked black pepper

1 1/2  teaspoons poultry seasoning

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

Simple, Straightforward & Scrumptious.  Serve:

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

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

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

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

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

01/09/2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_2806For the apple, brown-sugar cinnamon mixture:

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

6  tablespoons packed light-brown sugar

1  tablespoon ground cinnamon

For the dry ingredients:

1 1/2  cups all purpose flour

2  teaspoons baking powder

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

For the wet ingredients:

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

1/2  cup granulated sugar

2  large eggs, at room temperature

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

2  teaspoons butter-rum flavoring

1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d0a5fdc6970cFor the eggnog glaze:

1  cup confectioners' sugar

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

2  teaspoons butter-rum extract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

01/07/2018

~ Sausage, Apple & Herbed-Brie Breakfast Burgers ~

IMG_2731This morning I decided to go eggless -- it's a woman's perogative.  I skipped the skillet and got out the grill pan.  On this frigid January morning, I made what I affectionately refer to as: breakfast 'burgers.  Six-ounce sausage patties topped with lightly-grilled apple slices and melty herbed Brie, served on toasted English muffins.  I conjured up these ladylike, burger-esque breakfast sandwiches years ago.  They're culinary proof that necessity is the mother of invention.  Read on:

IMG_2698We were enjoying an AM tailgate at Beaver Stadium.  When I reached into the Igloo cooler to retrieve the eggs, I realized they hadn't been packed.  While my sausage patties were sizzling on the Weber, I strolled over to our communal snack table and borrowed a wedge of Brie and a big handful of apple slices -- from the elaborate fruit and cheese tray my girlfriend Carole had assembled.  I nabbed the Brie because she'd cut the cheddar into cubes.  Yes, of course I asked Carole's permission and she, of course, granted it.  Instead of scrambled eggs, sausage and muffins for breakfast, on that day, everyone got to eat and critique a new-to-us sandwich.

IMG_26344  6-ounce, 4"-round sausage patties

1  apple, cored and sliced into 12 thin rings (3 apple rings per sandwich)

a pinch of apple pie spice per apple slice

8  ounces herbed Brie, kept cold until it's time to slice it, cut into 1/4" slices

4  English muffins, sliced in half

IMG_2642 IMG_2642 IMG_2642 IMG_2642 IMG_2642~Step 1.  Place the sausage patties on a grill pan over medium- medium-high heat and cook until golden on both sides, turning only once, about 8-10 minutes per side.  Using a spatula, transfer sausage patties from pan to a plate, and set aside (no need to cover them or place them in a warm oven -- all will be fine).  While the sausage patties are cooking:

IMG_2653 IMG_2653 IMG_2662 IMG_2662 IMG_2622 IMG_2622~Step 2.   Using an apple corer and a chef's knife, core and slice the apple as directed.  Without removing packaging (it's easier to slice), using a serrated bread knife, cut the Brie into 1/4"-thick slices, removing and discarding the wrapping as you slice -- generally speaking, this method makes it very easy to slice soft cheeses, like Brie.  

IMG_2673 IMG_2673 IMG_2673 IMG_2673 IMG_2673 IMG_2698~Step 3.  Place apple slices in  still hot grill pan. Lightly, sprinkle tops with apple pie spice.  Over medium-medium-high heat, grill the apple slices, turning only once, until slight grill marks appear on both sides, 2-3 minutes per side.  Do not overcook.  One-at-at-time, remove the apples from the grill pan, placing three on top of each sausage patty.  Portion-to-fit (I used a knife) and arrange the sliced Brie on top of the apples.

IMG_2707 IMG_2707 IMG_2707~Step 4.  Turn the heat off under the grill pan, but leave it on the still hot-to-warm stovetop.  Return the topped sausage patties to grill pan.  Cover the pan and wait, 2-3 minutes for the Brie to slowly soften and start to melt down the sides of the 'burgers.  While the cheese is melting, slice and toast the English muffins.

Get out your grill pan and rethink breakfast:

IMG_2733Go eggless, use apples instead, &, put a lightly-toasted lid on it.

IMG_2761You won't be sorry you did.  Why?  Because this:

IMG_2772Redefines the meaning of breakfast sandwich. 

IMG_2784Sausage, Apple & Herbed-Brie Breakfast Burgers:  Recipe yields instructions to make 4  breakfast burgers.

Special Equipment List: apple corer; cutting board; chef's knife; serrated bread knife; grill pan w/lid; spatula

6a0120a8551282970b017c3696365a970bCook's Note: You've heard me say it before:  I am not a morning person. I don't love cooking breakfast. Eating breakfast -- that's another story.  I love breakfast.  I have a particular weakness for bagel, sausage and egg sandwiches.  Only a NY bakery-style egg bagel, a juicy sweet-sausage patty, and, a fluffy scrambled egg pancake will do. Cheese?  I prefer mine with none, but, I'll put it on, for you -- two slices of white American or yellow cheddar. ~ Egg Bagel, Sausage & Scrambled Egg Sandwich:  A Super-Breakfast for Super Bowl (Sunday) or any Sunday ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)

01/04/2018

~ Filling, Braiding & Baking Store-Bought Puff Pastry ~

IMG_2263Everyone loves a home-baked sweet or savory pie or quiche, but, for those times when you are out of time, or, just don't want to take the time, from appetizers to entrées to desserts, making a puff pastry braid using store-bought puff pastry is a valuable skill to have.  As long as you play by the rules, they bake up perfectly 100% of the time.  What are the rules?  I'm glad you asked.

My three basic rules/guidelines for filling a pastry braid:

IMG_2269 IMG_2315 IMG_24961)  With the exception of the obvious (any liquid or liquid concoction that pours or flows), any solid ingredient, or a  concoction of ingredients with a sticky or gluey viscosity, can be used as a filling for a puff pastry braid.  Almost anything you can wrap your head around:  meat, poultry, seafood, cheese, fruit, vegetables, chocolate, nuts, etc.  

IMG_2194 IMG_2194 IMG_25342)  The filling can be added to the pastry by stacking and layering thin slices or strips of one or more ingredients on top of each other, or, by spooning a mixture of minced or diced ingredients into the center, or a combination of doing both.  That said, any ingredient that won't fully-cook or soften to an edible texture in a 375° oven in 18-20 minutes, or, any ingredient that will exude a lot of moisture as it cooks, needs to be cooked or semi-cooked first.  For example:  Adding raw sausage or ground beef will render the braid greasy/watery, and, 18-20 minutes is not enough time for a raw apple or pear to fully-cook.  

IMG_2189 IMG_2189 IMG_21893)  Lastly, never overstuff a puff pastry braid.  The size of the puff pastry sheet matters, and, the sheets I use are 8 1/2"-ounce, 9" x 9" tri-folded squares exclusively.  For stacked and layered fillings, go no higher than 1 1/2".  For sticky concoctions, no more than 2-2 1/4 total cups, and, mound the filling towards the center.

My method of braiding & baking a puff pastry braid:

IMG_2500No special tools are required to make a puff pastry braid.  Ideally, a large 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan lined with parchment paper, a 6" ruler and a paring knife (for measuring and scoring the pastry), and a pastry brush (for applying the egg wash), should all be on-hand in your kitchen.

IMG_2146 IMG_2149 IMG_2149 IMG_2149 IMG_2159~Step 1.  Remove pastry from packaging and place, lengthwise, on prepared baking pan.  Using fingertips, carefully open the tri-folded sheet.  Where the pastry was folded, will define three, even-sized thirds, each approximately 9"L x 3"W.  Using a paring knife and a ruler, slice 3"L x 1/2"W "tabs" along the lower and upper thirds of the pastry (18 tabs on each third of the pastry), leaving the center third (which is where the filling will go) uncut.  If at any time while you are slicing the tabs, the pastry gets sticky, return pan to refrigerator for 5-6 minutes to firm it up again (and again).  Cutting the tabs is very easy if pastry is kept cold.

IMG_2201 6a0120a8551282970b01bb09e5c67b970d-120wi 6a0120a8551282970b01bb09e5c67b970d-120wi 6a0120a8551282970b01bb09e5c67b970d-120wi~Step 2.  Once the filling has been layered and placed in the center third of the pastry (as per the recipe's directions), starting at one end and working all the way to the other, alternately crisscross the tabs up and over filling (as pictured in rule/guideline 2).  When you get to the end, trim and remove the last two tabs of pastry, along with any excess scraps of pastry.  As per ~ Step 1, if the tabs get sticky or start to stick to the pan, refrigerate for 5-6 minutes, then proceed.  Tuck the ragged edges evenly underneath the pastry braid. Use the two trimmed tabs and ragged edges to seal the open end where you started.  Both ends will now be sealed and tucked -- the ends don't have to look perfect.  Trust me, the patchwork puff pastry will bake up to be picture perfect.

IMG_2215 IMG_2215 IMG_2239~Step 3.  In a small bowl, whisk 1 egg and 1 tablespoon water together. Using a pastry brush, lightly paint egg wash over the entire surface of the puff pastry braid.  Bake on center rack of preheated 375° oven, 18-20 minutes. Pastry will be golden brown and bubbling and filling might be starting to bubble from the nooks and crannies. Remove from oven and cool on pan 30-45 minutes.  Use a spatula to aid in transferring to a serving plate prior to slicing and serving warm or at room temperature.

IMG_2411A bit about store-bought puff pastry sheets:  

IMG_2267For home cooks who like to entertain, don't like to entertain, or, simply don't have a lot of time to entertain, store-bought puff pastry is a high-quality, time-saving ingredient -- especially during the holiday season.  As one who takes the better part of two days to make real-deal, all-butter, high-quality-butter, puff-pastry from scratch (to make Danish for special occasions), trust me, for certain culinary applications, store-bought puff-pastry is a relatively small compromise I am willing to make.  There's two boxes stashed in my freezer at all times.

Like many, I discovered puff pastry sheets in the 1980's.  Grocery stores were becoming grocery chains, which expanded our choices and selections of long established and new products exponentially.  Cooks embraced this product, and, before long, we were all using it in creative ways to make appetizers, entrées and desserts.  Here's three of my favorites:

Appetizer:  Cloudberry Jam, Brie & Almond Braid.

IMG_2290Entrée:  Sweet Sausage, Apple & Cheddar Braid.

IMG_2453Dessert:  Swiss Chocolate, Cherry & Almond Braid.

IMG_2595

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

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

01/02/2018

~Swiss Chocolate, Cherry & Almond Puff Pastry Braid~

IMG_2595Imagine eating a freshly-baked, still-warm chocolate croissant at your favorite coffee shop.  Just thinking about one of those divinely decadent indulgences makes me happy.   Now imagine it super-sized, more than enough to feed four, with sweet cherries and crunchy almonds added to it too.  Need I say more?  Valentine's Day will be here before we know it, and, if you're looking to surprise the chocolate lover in your life with something truly sweet, stash the ingredients on this list in your pantry and freezer, then, start counting the days to February 14th.  Tick, tock.    

IMG_2522From appetizers to entrées to desserts...

IMG_2263... making a puff pastry braid is a valuable skill to have.

IMG_2267For home cooks who like to entertain, don't like to entertain, or, simply don't have a lot of time to entertain, store-bought puff pastry is a high-quality, time-saving ingredient -- especially during the holiday season.  As one who takes the better part of two days to make real-deal, all-butter, high-quality-butter, puff-pastry from scratch (to make Danish for special occasions), trust me, for certain culinary applications, store-bought puff-pastry is a relatively small compromise I am willing to make.  There's two boxes stashed in my freezer at all times.  

Like many, I discovered puff pastry sheets in the 1980's.  Grocery stores were becoming grocery chains, which expanded our choices and selections of long established and new products exponentially.  Cooks embraced this product, and, before long, we were all using it in creative ways to make appetizers, entrées and desserts.  Here's one of my desserts:

IMG_24961  8 1/2-ounce, 9" x 9" store-bought & tri-folded puff pastry sheet

1  3 1/2-ounce bar Lindt bittersweet chocolate, chopped into pieces

1  21-ounce can cherry pie filling, or, my Seriously Simple Stovetop Sour Cherry Pie Filling

1/4  cup lightly-toasted slivered almonds 

1  large egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water, to be used as an egg wash for assembled pastry braid

IMG_2136 IMG_2136 IMG_2502~ Step 1.  Place slivered almonds on a small baking pan.  Roast on center rack of preheated 375° oven, until lightly-toasted and fragrant, 5-6 minutes, stopping to stir the almonds around in pan half way through the process (so they brown evenly).  Remove from oven and set aside to cool to room temperature, about 15-20 minutes.  Using a large chef's knife, chop the chocolate into small bits and pieces.  Set aside.

IMG_2146 IMG_2146 IMG_2146 IMG_2156 IMG_2159~Step 2.  Remove pastry from packaging and place, lengthwise, on prepared baking pan.  Using fingertips, carefully open the tri-folded sheet.  Where the pastry was folded, will define three, even-sized thirds, each approximately 9"L x 3"W.  Using a paring knife and a ruler, slice 3"L x 1/2"W "tabs" along the lower and upper thirds of the pastry (18 tabs on each third of the pastry), leaving the center third (which is where the filling will go) uncut.  If at any time while you are slicing the tabs, the pastry gets sticky, return pan to refrigerator for 5-6 minutes to firm it up again (and again).  Cutting the tabs is very easy if the pastry is cold.

IMG_2507 IMG_2507 IMG_2507 IMG_2507~Step 3.  Scatter the chocolate, in a single layer, over the center third of the pastry sheet. Sprinkle the almonds over the chocolate.  Place the cherry pie filling in a bowl, and working a couple of tablespoons at a time, remove and scoop the cherries from the pie filling over the chocolate, mounding it towards the center -- discard the excess red cornstarch glop remaining in bowl.  

IMG_2524 IMG_2524 IMG_2524 IMG_2524 IMG_2524 IMG_2524~Step 4.  Starting at one end and working all the way to the other, alternately crisscross the tabs up and over filling.  When you get to the end, trim and remove the last two tabs of pastry, along with any excess scraps of pastry. As per ~ Step 4, if the tabs get sticky or start to stick to the pan, refrigerate for 5-6 minutes, then proceed.  Tuck the ragged edges evenly underneath the pastry braid. Use the two trimmed tabs and ragged edges to seal the open end where you started.  Both ends will now be sealed and tucked -- the ends don't have to look perfect, the patchwork puff pastry will bake up to be picture perfect.

IMG_2210 IMG_2210 IMG_2210 IMG_2210 IMG_2563 IMG_2568 IMG_2568~Step 5.  In a small bowl, whisk the second egg and water together.  Using a pastry brush, lightly paint egg wash over the entire surface of the puff pastry braid.  Bake on center rack of preheated 375° oven, 18-20 minutes. Pastry will be golden brown and bubbling and cherry juices will be starting to bubble from the nooks and crannies. Remove from oven and cool on pan 30-45 minutes.  Use a spatula to aid in transferring to a serving plate prior to slicing and serving warm or at room temperature.

Cool this culinary work of art 15-20 minutes...

IMG_2583... prior to slicing & serving warm or at room temperature.

IMG_2606Indulge in each & every divinely, decadent bite: 

IMG_2611Swiss Chocolate, Cherry & Almond Puff Pastry Braid:  Recipe yields 8-10 appetizer-sized desserts/4-6 servings.

Special Equipment List:  small baking pan; cutting board; chef's knife; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; paring knife; fork; pastry brush

6a0120a8551282970b017c32320db8970b 6a0120a8551282970b017d3c582479970cCook's Note: An  elegant entrée, which pairs perfectly with today's dessert, is :  ~ My Love Affair with: Individual Beef Wellingtons ~.

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

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