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68 posts categorized "22) Alert!!! Can be Made Ahead and Frozen!"

02/10/2017

~ My Guys Italian-American Sicilian-Style Pizza Pie~

Americans eat over three billion pizzas a year and that doesn't include store-bought frozen pies or those made at home. That is quite a statistic, and, a testament to the love affair we Americans have with pizza. From sea-to-shining-sea, every region of our country has developed their own "style of pie", and, pizza shops and home cooks all proudly prepare their own version of it. I make several types of pizza. That said, my guys (my husband and three sons) hands-down favorite is my Sicilian-style pizza, made and baked in the manner my husband grew up eating it -- in...... View full recipe for "~ My Guys Italian-American Sicilian-Style Pizza Pie~"

07/25/2016

~ Peachy Keen Barbecue Sauce for Poultry or Pork ~

Peach cobbler, peach pie, peach melba, peach shortcake, peach ice cream -- peachy keen. A perfectly-ripe peach is the apple of everyones eye. Announce that you're serving a fresh peach dessert for dinner and everyone shows up on time. When the peaches on our backyard trees ripen, things in my kitchen move fast for a few days. It's damn-the-torpedos, full-speed-ahead, all-things-peaches. They trickle in at first, pile up at the end, and, after picking, I only have, at best, 24-48 hours to get 'em in their juicy, ripe prime. It's a drippy, sticky, tricky situation. While I like fruit desserts...... View full recipe for "~ Peachy Keen Barbecue Sauce for Poultry or Pork ~"

07/23/2016

~ Perfect Peach Preserves from the Bread Machine ~

'Tis the season for fresh berries and fruit, and I especially love the fresh fruit and berries Joe grows right here in our backyard. That said, besides apples, fruit and berries don't have a particularly long shelf life. During the first three weeks of July, I've frozen our sour pie cherries and blueberries in 2-pound bags -- enough to make 20 cherry pies and 10 blueberry pies during the upcoming year. These two fruits are easy to freeze, and, they freeze really, really well. Peach freezing is not for me. The end doesn't justify the means. Peaches can be frozen,...... View full recipe for "~ Perfect Peach Preserves from the Bread Machine ~"

06/27/2016

~State of the Union: Famous US Senate Bean Soup~

Bean soup has always been a part of my life. While you may think of it as snowstorm fare, I associate it with all sorts of outdoor fun-in-the-sun activities. When I was growing up, bean soup was served all Summer wherever people gravitated to eat, drink and be merry: church- and hose-company fund-raising street festivals in ours and neighboring towns, both-of-my-parents and half-of-my-friends-parents annual corporate clambakes, and, when it came to planning the Summer family reunion, the biggest question was "Who's making the bean soup this year?" When I was twelve, I even ate bean soup in the United States...... View full recipe for "~State of the Union: Famous US Senate Bean Soup~"

09/15/2015

~ Mel's Rotolo di Pizza (Stuffed Pizza Rolls/Bread) ~

This rolled sandwich, containing a savory combination of antipasto staples, is in the top five of my family's any-time-of-day snacks -- it's a perfect lunch too. My kids always called it pizza bread, because before it's sliced it looks like a loaf of bread. Once sliced, it reveals a cross between everything they love about a pizza and everything they love about a baked sub (hoagie) -- sans the shredded lettuce and sliced tomato. I'd been making it for years before I heard Mary Ann Esposito refer to it as "Rotolo di Pizza" on her Ciao Italia TV show. From...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Rotolo di Pizza (Stuffed Pizza Rolls/Bread) ~"

09/06/2015

~Please Pass the Homemade Crockpot Applesauce~

When my family of five sat down to dinner, unlike a host of other foods, I never had occasion to say "eat your applesauce". When applesauce was on the dinner table my kids would eat it. Applesauce had bargaining power too: "Finish your pork chop, then you can have another helping of applesauce." "Eat half of your green beans and you can have more applesauce." There's more: My boys weren't "big" on eating apple slices, but, if there was applesauce in the refrigerator, they were happy to slather it on a Ritz with a piece of Cracker Barrel cheddar. Applesauce...... View full recipe for "~Please Pass the Homemade Crockpot Applesauce~"

08/06/2015

~ Pucker Up: Tart and Sweet Shiro Plum Preserves ~

The Japanese Shiro plum is indeed the golden, greenish-yellow goddess of the yellow plum world. "To know them is to love them", I couldn't agree more, and, this has been a banner year for our 18-year-old backyard tree. Every year, we eat a lot of these very sweet, mildly-tart beauties by the handfuls, and, every year I make a ~ Golden Goddess: Shiro Plum & Egg Custard Tart ~ or two or three (just click on the Related Article Link below to get the recipe). They store well in the refrigerator for about ten days too. This has served me...... View full recipe for "~ Pucker Up: Tart and Sweet Shiro Plum Preserves ~"

07/21/2015

~ Dehydrated Pie Cherry & Pistachio Zucchini Bread~

You show me your recipe for zucchini bread and I'll show you mine. Everyone who has ever planted a zucchini seed has a recipe for zucchini bread -- every last zucchini-growing one of us. This is my homegrown version and I only make it once or twice, at this time, each year. Why? 'Tis the end of the sour cherry season and the beginning of the zucchini season. While it's common to find dried fruits and nuts added to zucchini bread, I happen to think mine, made with my own dried sour cherries, plus toasted pistachios, is is one uniquely...... View full recipe for "~ Dehydrated Pie Cherry & Pistachio Zucchini Bread~"

06/16/2015

~ Super-Easy Strawberry Bread-Machine Preserves ~

This has been a banner year for strawberries. Our little backyard strawberry patch gifted us with almost more than we could eat -- almost, but not quite, we ate them all. Each one seemed to be perfectly ripe, juicy and full of flavor. Then, strawberries started showing in both of our local farmers markets. Over the past couple of weeks, I've been picking up a box or two to make small, super-easy batches of strawberry preserves in my bread machine. I enjoy preserves more than jam, because it's like finding a two-for-one special at the grocery store -- unlike spreadable...... View full recipe for "~ Super-Easy Strawberry Bread-Machine Preserves ~"

04/01/2015

~ Macadamia-Mango, Coconut-Rum Banana-Bread ~

From the day I got married, I began celebrating two Easter holidays. One for Joe's loud, Italian-Catholic family and one for my quiet Russian, Eastern Orthodox family. While the theme for both is the same, the foodie traditions are very different. To make a long story as short as possible, they fall on different dates because the Orthodox religion follows the Julian calendar (the calendar of Julius Caesar that was introduced in 46 B.C.), and, the Catholic church follows the Gregorian calendar (instituted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582). The Pope's reformed calendar was slow to catch on in religions...... View full recipe for "~ Macadamia-Mango, Coconut-Rum Banana-Bread ~"

02/04/2015

~ Decadent & Divine Silky Shiitake Mushroom Soup~

I was a child 'shroomer. I loved mushrooms. Faced with a plate of sauteed mushrooms or a bowl of mushroom soup, most kids I knew would cry or retch, or both. Mushrooms tend not to bring out the best in children. Not me. I'm pretty sure it was because 'hunting 'shrooms' (picking mushrooms) was one of the things my dad and I did together. We went 'shrooming together. Interestingly enough, I was not an outdoors kinda kid. My mother always called me "her little mushroom" because I preferred to stay in my neat and organized pink bedroom quietly reading, drawing...... View full recipe for "~ Decadent & Divine Silky Shiitake Mushroom Soup~"

01/09/2015

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

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...... View full recipe for "~ January "White Out" White Chicken 'n Corn Chili ~"

09/15/2014

~Orange Cinnamon & Vanilla Bean Breakfast Butter~

When I was a busy mom raising three boys, making a fancy-schmancy compound butter for their bagels, English muffins, pancakes or waffles wasn't high on my list of weekday things to do. I made breakfast every day, but when it came to the condiments, it was every man for himself: the peanut butter, preserves, maple syrup and butter went out on the table commando-style. Now that it's just Joe and me (a more relaxed morning schedule), the bread, muffins, pancakes and waffles are made from scratch, and, I have the time to take pleasure in and put thought into "the...... View full recipe for "~Orange Cinnamon & Vanilla Bean Breakfast Butter~"

09/12/2014

~Italian Basil, Tomato, Garlic, Parm & Pepper Butter~

Historically, the French and the Italians agree to disagree often over "who invented what" culinarily. While writing Tuesday's post ~ The Savory-Sweet Simplicity of Compound Butter ~ (click on the Related Article link below to read it), I told you the French word for it is "beurre compose". Try as I did, research didn't turn up any historical references to what the formal Italian name for compound butter is. This surprised me, so, I asked my Facebook friend (an authority on authentic Italian regional cooking). "As far as I know, in general Italian cooking, there is no use of compound...... View full recipe for "~Italian Basil, Tomato, Garlic, Parm & Pepper Butter~"

09/09/2014

~ The Savory-Sweet Simplicity of Compound Butter ~

The first time I made compound butter I was certain I had invented something important. It was a life-changing moment. It didn't get taught to me by my grandmother, Food TV or via a cookbook or a cooking publication. I didn't learn the technical term for it until years later. As a 6-year old, it was important to mix 1 1/2 teaspoons of Cinnamon 'n Sugar with two tablespoons of softened butter to make my cinnamon toast -- I didn't like getting cinnamon-sugar dust up my nose. The quantity yielded 3 slices of perfectly-executed cinnamon-raisin toast (two for me and...... View full recipe for "~ The Savory-Sweet Simplicity of Compound Butter ~"

07/30/2014

~ Kids Stuff: Jesse's Favorite Tex-Mex Beef Tacos ~

Jesse is my son. He's in the latter stages of thirty-something now with a seven-year old son of his own. Jesse was a really good kid. The kind of good that makes you wonder what you did to deserve a child that sweet, smart and easy to get along with -- until it came time to eat. Let's cut to the chase and say until he was a teen I had a very short list of 100% stressfree dinner options: pizza, pasta, bacon, shrimp, anything with ground meat, and, chocolate. That about covers it! There really isn't too much more...... View full recipe for "~ Kids Stuff: Jesse's Favorite Tex-Mex Beef Tacos ~"

06/06/2014

~ Mel's Rosemary-Kissed Pork Sugo w/Strozzapreti ~

This dish tastes every bit as good as it sounds and just saying it makes me salivate. If you haven't noticed, my past few posts have all included pasta in some form: bucatini (thick, hollow spaghetti), cellentani (hollow corkscrews), pappardelle (wide flat egg pasta), orecchiette (little ears), and now, strozzapreti (priest stranglers). At the end of May, a friend gave me a beautiful box of very special Italian meats, cheeses, all sorts of marinated vegetables, and, a variety of imported organic pasta. It was a thank-you gift, and, for me, it's as appreciated as jewelry. I immediately opened this treasure...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Rosemary-Kissed Pork Sugo w/Strozzapreti ~"

03/12/2014

~ Thick & Creamy Crockpot Split Pea & Ham Soup ~

I have a large arsenal of small kitchen appliances -- many in multiples. Some I bought in different sizes for specific purposes, others because I wanted a newer, improved model. Thirty-nine years is a long time to collect appliances. I have no reason to sell any on e-Bay either. Storage space is not an issue for me, and, my old relics have become fun, retro props for photographs and TV. Each one is reminiscent of a different time and place in my life. Meet my very first "crockpot", made by West Bend. I got it as a wedding shower gift...... View full recipe for "~ Thick & Creamy Crockpot Split Pea & Ham Soup ~"

02/21/2014

~ Rainy Days & Lazy Fridays: My Winter Minestrone w/Anelletti Pasta & Garnished w/Parm & Pancetta ~

After almost two months of weather-related captivity, I am declaring a ban on weather forecasts. They stop now. I will no longer listen to them or watch them. It's high time I stood up to these masters of disasters. I've wasted precious time allowing them to affect me. I am a domestic goddess -- this title comes with priviledges. I do not have to go outside. From this day forward: "What happens outside, stays outside. All that really matters each day is what's cookin' on the inside!" ~ Melanie Today is a soup day. I decided to make minestrone because...... View full recipe for "~ Rainy Days & Lazy Fridays: My Winter Minestrone w/Anelletti Pasta & Garnished w/Parm & Pancetta ~"

12/30/2013

~One recipe, two soups: Beef Barley or Beef Noodle~

There are two ways to make beef soup: the long way and the short way. Both are great: The long way: When I am using homemade beef stock from my freezer (to make beef barley or beef noodle soup), I cook the beef (a 4-5 pound beef sirloin top butt roast) in the flavorful stock until it is tender and shreddable, 4 hours. Then, I add my vegetables and cook for an additional 45-60 minutes. The short way: When I am making a big pot of homemade beef stock, which I do once or twice a year, I simply shred...... View full recipe for "~One recipe, two soups: Beef Barley or Beef Noodle~"

12/22/2013

~ Mel interrupts Christmas to bring you: Beef Stock ~

A funny thing happened to me at the market today. I ran into some beautiful beef shanks. I bought every one they had. Yes, in between cookie baking and planning a festive prime rib dinner, I am making beef stock. It's a perfect Sunday afternoon to do it too: the wind is howling, the rain is pelting the kitchen windows, and, Thema & Louise (one of my favorite movies) is on the kitchen TV. It's a nice way to create a "calm before the holiday storm", plus, I think French onion soup, using some of this stock, will be a...... View full recipe for "~ Mel interrupts Christmas to bring you: Beef Stock ~"

04/24/2013

~ Save Those Shrimp Shells!!! Because I Said So!!! (How to: Make a Basic Shrimp Stock a la Melanie) ~

You've heard me say it so many times, "you only get out of something what you put into it", and, like The Constitution of the United States, homemade stock is the blueprint to the success or failure of many a recipe. You've watched me post more than a few shrimp dishes here on Kitchen Encounters over the past couple of years. Did you ever wonder what I do with all of those shells? Well, I stuff them (over a period of time) in a ziplock bag and stash said bag in my freezer. When I accumulate 2 pounds of shells...... View full recipe for "~ Save Those Shrimp Shells!!! Because I Said So!!! (How to: Make a Basic Shrimp Stock a la Melanie) ~"

03/22/2013

~ Reunited w/a Treasured Preschutti Family Recipe: Peppery Egg & Cheese Crescia for an Italian Easter~

At Easter, Italian cooks bake a very unique, peppery egg and cheese bread called crescia (kray-shah), which means "to grow". As with almost all ethnic recipes, there are as many versions as there are cooks. My husband and his brother Tom grew up loving this bread, and I admit to being intimidated when I was faced with developing a recipe for the two of them based solely upon how they recalled it from their youth in Jessup, PA (without any first hand knowledge of it personally). After talking to a few Italian relatives from Jessup, who actually make the bread...... View full recipe for "~ Reunited w/a Treasured Preschutti Family Recipe: Peppery Egg & Cheese Crescia for an Italian Easter~"

03/20/2013

~ Winters Last Gasp: Pasta w/Ground-Meat Sauce ~

ANNOUNCEMENT: I interrupt my Spring blog posts to bring you one last comfort-food meal for a Wintery evening. Yes, 'tis true, 4"-5" of snow is falling in Centre County, PA, today! I'm sick of snow, but honestly, I've been hungry for a bowl of spaghetti with ground-meat sauce for over a week now, so, this nuisance storm is "the perfect storm" for me to cook up a pot of my version of this sauce on the stovetop. I say "my version", because, I never tasted spaghetti with ground-meat sauce until I was a teenager, and, I've never been served it...... View full recipe for "~ Winters Last Gasp: Pasta w/Ground-Meat Sauce ~"

12/18/2012

~ Cincinnati Chili: My Holiday Bowl Game Tradition ~

If you're a football fan, 'tis the season of college bowl games and professional playoffs. If you're like me, planning a tailgate party during the holiday season means I get a break from cooking festive food to prepare casual football fare. This is a most welcome change, but: if you are like me, your schedule is tight right now and you don't have any extra time for planning and details. Years ago, I came up with a way to take the pressure off myself. I decided to serve a one-dish menu: a "party in one bowl", for each guest, at...... View full recipe for "~ Cincinnati Chili: My Holiday Bowl Game Tradition ~"

11/09/2012

~ How to: Make Mandarin-Style (MooShu) Pancakes~

It's "Chinese Week" here on KE. I woke up on Monday morning wanting Asian food, and, more specifically, I wanted: Moo Shu Pork. If you've never eaten "moo shu" (which means "shredded" in Chinese), the best way I can describe it is: Moo shu is to Asian cuisine, what the fajita is to Mexican cuisine. In a nutshell: Strips of shredded beef, chicken or pork, and vegetables, are quickly stir-fried (fajita=grilled or sauteed), topped with spicy hoisin sauce (fajita=salsa) and wrapped burrito-style in a thin, warm, flour pancake (fajita=flour tortilla). In both cases, besides being fun to eat, they are...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Make Mandarin-Style (MooShu) Pancakes~"

10/31/2012

~ Treat Yourself to a Slice of Peanut Butter Cup Pie + (How to: Make a chocolate cookie crust & ganache!)~

Tonight is trick-or-treat night and in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, in all honesty, I completely forgot about Halloween. Living where we do, we get very few (if any) ghosts, goblins, skeletons, witches, superheros or fairy princesses ringing our doorbell. Nonetheless, I always have one bag of candy on hand in the event we do get one or two treat seekers. In fact, there's more than a few packages of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in my freezer because no one came to our door for Halloween last year, or the year before that, either! Next to the Tootsie Roll, the...... View full recipe for "~ Treat Yourself to a Slice of Peanut Butter Cup Pie + (How to: Make a chocolate cookie crust & ganache!)~"

10/27/2012

~ Sumptuous Beef-Barley,Tomato-Vegetable Soup ~

My relationship with and love of beef-barley soup goes back fifty-something years, and, my own recipe evolved over a period of the last twenty-something years. It started in my mother's kitchen. Her recipe is an old-world, Russian-style peasant soup. It is flavored with bay leaves and contains onion, celery and carrots, but, it is absent tomato products or other vegetables (mostly because my dad won't eat it if she puts tomatoes in it). My mother almost never kept homemade beef stock in her freezer, and, she didn't used canned stock for her soup either. She "made her stock while making...... View full recipe for "~ Sumptuous Beef-Barley,Tomato-Vegetable Soup ~"

10/10/2012

~ Joe's Favorite "Roasted" Pumpkin Quick Bread ~

I'm kinda of proud to announce that I have never used or cooked with canned pumpkin. Over the years, I've also had a lot of people tell me they think pumpkin is one of the few foods that is better canned than fresh. They key word here is "think". I am one of purists that is here to tell them, and you, if you have ever tasted a light, silky-smooth, custard-like pumpkin pie, made from fresh pumpkin puree, you would rethink that statement! My Great Aunt Mary (my grandmother's sister) lived on a farm and grew her own pumpkins. She...... View full recipe for "~ Joe's Favorite "Roasted" Pumpkin Quick Bread ~"

07/12/2012

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

I'm not sick or anything, just a bit overwhelmed. Here in Happy Valley, when the 4th of July festivities come to a close, there is precious little time to relax. Yesterday, people started pouring into State College for the annual Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. In preparation for Arts Fest, many local residents arrange to take vacation, leaving town for exotic destinations. For those of us locals who stay: we "grocery up", making sure that all shopping is done well in advance (as traveling is not as quick and easy as we are accustomed to, and, parking anywhere is...... View full recipe for "~ Just What the Doctor Ordered: Kiwi-Lime Sorbet ~"

07/08/2012

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

All good things come to and end, and, now, it is the end of blueberry season. Forgive me if I am not teary-eyed. This has been a banner year for blueberries in our backyard, and, if you've been following Kitchen Encounters for the past week, you know I have saturated my blog with some scrumptious blueberry posts. I've made blueberry buckle, blueberry pie, blueberry salad, and today, I'm calling it quits. Why? Well, when your family starts walking past blueberry desserts instead of eating them, it's time to quit posting and get out the jam pot! Blueberry Buckle! Blueberry Pie!...... View full recipe for "~ Blueberry Jam: The End of My Blueberries 2012! ~"

06/26/2012

~ 'Tis True: Sour Cherries Do Make the Best Jam ~

In my opinion, sour cherries are one of the most regal, refined fruits you will ever enounter. My grandmother referred to these tart, ruby-red jewels simply as "pie cherries", but if you are on a quest for them, they are also marketed as tart cherries. That being said, the sour cherry season is quite brief, with the cherries being ready to pick at the very end of June or the very beginning of July. Picking them is a bit tricky, as they are at their absolute best if left on the tree until you think they will begin to spoil...... View full recipe for "~ 'Tis True: Sour Cherries Do Make the Best Jam ~"

06/02/2012

~ Sweet Heat: Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Ice Cream +Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Sauce! Cha-Cha-Cha! ~

Over the past 14 years, my husband Joe has managed to turn a few strawberry plants, that used to yield a pint or two every year, into a full-blown strawberry patch, that yields several quarts. In the beginning, that pint or two rarely made it anywhere except into our mouths. Nowadays, I actually make plans for strawberry season, knowing that they will all ripen at about the same time, and, like peaches, once picked, will be over-ripe in a very short period of time, 2-3 days maximum. Before I yield to making strawberry jam, I always fit a batch or...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Heat: Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Ice Cream +Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Sauce! Cha-Cha-Cha! ~"

05/31/2012

~ Sweet Heat: Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Sauce, or: Summer Strawberries Never Tasted Sooooo Good! ~

One of my favorite times of year is now: strawberry season. For the past two weeks, juicy and delicious strawberries have been available to me in every market. While I've been gleefully feasting on them, it wasn't until today that I could officially proclaim it strawberry season. Why? Because the strawberry patch in my husbands garden is full, and, they are ripening very quickly. Strawberries are also showing up at all of our local farmers markets this week too, and, lets face it, there's nothing better than freshly picked, locally-grown strawberries! When I was growing up, the first thing every...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Heat: Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Sauce, or: Summer Strawberries Never Tasted Sooooo Good! ~"

05/24/2012

~ Melanie's Bolognese Sauce & Bolognese Lasagna: Veal & Rosemary-Tomato Cream Sauce & Lasagna~

This is one of my signature recipes. No, I didn't invent Bolognese sauce or Bolognese lasagna, but, my personal recipe is so special, it will suffice to say: I do not believe you will find one anywhere that is better than mine. That is that. This is a recipe I have never taught in a cooking class. It is, however, a recipe I have taught to several upscale restaurant chefs, which they have been selling/serving seasonally for more than a few years now. At The American Ale House & Grill in State College, PA, I'm proud to say it appears...... View full recipe for "~ Melanie's Bolognese Sauce & Bolognese Lasagna: Veal & Rosemary-Tomato Cream Sauce & Lasagna~"

05/10/2012

~ Fresh Chives: The 1st Herb of Our Spring Garden ~

As far back as I can remember, freshly-picked chives meant Spring had arrived and Summer was right around the corner. My dad had quite a large vegetable garden back then, and, he loved chives. My mom always stirred them into mashed potatoes and sprinkled them on top of baked potatoes. To this day, mashed or baked potatoes without chives seem naked to me. As soon as I was old enough to play with scissors, on almost a daily basis, my mom would say, "go down to daddy's garden and snip me some chives for supper". I loved their pretty purple-pink...... View full recipe for "~ Fresh Chives: The 1st Herb of Our Spring Garden ~"

04/27/2012

~ French Riviera-Style Tomato Sauce "a la Nicoise" ~

"A la Nicoise" (nee-swahz) is the French phrase meaning "as prepared in Nice", typifying the food found in and around the French Riviera city of Nice. Be it hot or cold seasonal cuisine, their cooking style is identified with a few integral ingredients which include: tomatoes, garlic, olives and olive oil. Anchovies and/or tuna, fresh or canned, are also common additions. The famous "salade nicoise" contains these basic ingredients, plus: haricot vert (French green beans), onions, tuna, hard cooked eggs and herbs! Back in 1997, I took a series of rather intensive French cooking classes which were taught by Chef...... View full recipe for "~ French Riviera-Style Tomato Sauce "a la Nicoise" ~"

04/05/2012

~ Italian Easter: Peppery Egg & Cheese Crescia ~

At Easter, Italian cooks bake a very unique egg and cheese bread called crescia (kray-shah), which means "to grow". As with almost all ethnic recipes, there are as many versions as there are cooks. My husband Joe and his brother Tom grew up loving this bread, and I must admit to being very intimidated when faced with developing a recipe for the two of them, based upon how they recalled it from their youth in Jessup, PA. After researching many recipes, and talking to a few Italian relatives from Jessup, who actually make the bread (who, I must report, in...... View full recipe for "~ Italian Easter: Peppery Egg & Cheese Crescia ~"

03/05/2012

~ Veal Stock = Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary ~

"We are all in this food world together", is how I end every blog post and cooking class. It's my signature mantra and they are kind and gentle words I take to heart and try to live by. It's my way of expressing to readers and students that as far as food is concerned, while I am here to share and teach, I am also willing to listen to interesting new ideas and learn innovative new techniques from anyone. While I have set very high standards for myself (and am my own worst critic), I rarely take issue with anyones...... View full recipe for "~ Veal Stock = Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary ~"

02/17/2012

~ TGIF: Mel's Make-Ahead, Asian Cocktail Meatballs w/an Easy "Duck" Sauce for Dipping or Drizzling ~

It's finally Friday here on Kitchen Encounters. If you scroll through this weeks posts you'll notice it has been a full week of Thai-Asian-themed soup posts. Before switching gears, I've decided to finish out the week with my recipe for an easy, super-delicious, Asian bar snack. What I like about this recipe is that you can make a lot of meatballs in less than one hour, about 7 1/2 dozen, then freeze them in 1-2-dozen packages to have on hand for impromptu Friday evening get-togethers. As for my E-Z "duck" sauce? It just might be the best one you've ever...... View full recipe for "~ TGIF: Mel's Make-Ahead, Asian Cocktail Meatballs w/an Easy "Duck" Sauce for Dipping or Drizzling ~"

02/14/2012

~ Thai Glass Noodle Soup w/Petite Pork Meatballs ~

This is indeed an authentic Thai recipe, but one you'll not find on a Thai restaurant menu. Versions of this "gaeng jued" soup are sold as street food and in soup kitchens all over Thailand. It is simple, clear soup, brimming with noodles, ground or shredded pork (although chicken is sometimes substituted), mushrooms and green vegetables. Customers select their choice of noodle, (either bean thread or rice noodles, thick or thin ones) and the soft noodles are always added to each bowl just before serving (otherwise too much stock gets absorbed by the noodles and the soup gets too thick)....... View full recipe for "~ Thai Glass Noodle Soup w/Petite Pork Meatballs ~"

02/12/2012

~ Thai Hot & Sour Prawn Soup: Tom Yam Kung ~

In Thailand, a perfectly-balanced Thai meal combines what is referred as their famous four "S's", or, the flavors of: spicy, salty, sweet and sour. In Thailand there are two main categories of soup: spicy and not spicy. "Tom" is the Thai word for soup and the boiling process in general. "Yam" is the Thai word that refers to dishes that are spicy and sour. "Kung" is the Thai word for prawns, but if you hear the word "goong" used instead of kung, worry not, it means the same and is the same soup. Tom Yam is the undisputed king of...... View full recipe for "~ Thai Hot & Sour Prawn Soup: Tom Yam Kung ~"

02/03/2012

~ Thai Chicken Stock (Real Thai Food Starts Here) ~

Back in 1993, over a period of about two years, I had the great pleasure of striking up a friendship with a Home Economist from Thailand. Kanya Wacharamai was living in State College with her husband Fu, who was earning his engineering degree from Penn State. It was during this time that I also learned the art of true Thai cooking. Kanya taught a very popular series of Thai cooking lessons in her home kitchen, and, my husband Joe and I signed up as a team and took every lesson she gave. Because my husband Joe is an engineer, and,...... View full recipe for "~ Thai Chicken Stock (Real Thai Food Starts Here) ~"

01/25/2012

~ "Wanna Husband?" "Practice Your Meatballs!!!" ~

Meatballs are a universal food, and, almost every culture has their own name for them and way to serve them (they are acually a diminutive form of meatloaf). They come in all sizes: tiny, pop-in-your-mouth-sized ones served at cocktail parties or put into soups; medium-sized ones served as an accompaniment to pasta or put in a sandwich; and, large near baseball-sized ones served as a main course. While meatballs aren't Italian per se, I'm pretty sure that when most of us think of meatballs, we associate the them with the pillowy-soft, melt-in-your-mouth, covered in red sauce/"gravy" Italian-American kind. Italian immigrants...... View full recipe for "~ "Wanna Husband?" "Practice Your Meatballs!!!" ~"

01/15/2012

~ Mel, Will You Please Post Your Meatloaf Recipe? ~

I take all of my readers requests seriously, and when asked for something, I always do get to it (eventually). I got this request last year, back in November to be exact. Lauren has been patiently waiting, and I did email her to say it would have to wait until after I finished with my holiday posts. So, here I am, on a beautiful, sunny, Sunday afternoon in January, with a crisp coating of snow on the ground watching all the skiers ride up and ski down the slopes of Tussey Mountain through my kitchen window. I can't think of...... View full recipe for "~ Mel, Will You Please Post Your Meatloaf Recipe? ~"

01/03/2012

~ The Frozen Hot-Chocolate Popsicle... Decadent! ~

In a few short days our 4 1/2 year old grandson David will be coming for a visit. Needless to say, JoePa and GrandMel are quite excited. Everytime DJ comes for a visit we try to think up fun things for him to do with the both of us, singularly or together. For instance: the last time he was here, JoePa bought him a microscope and we all spent a couple of hours together viewing things like, strands of each others hair, onion skin, and CHEEZ-IT crumbs (David loves his "Cheese-y Crackers"). Later that day, David tried to teach GrandMel...... View full recipe for "~ The Frozen Hot-Chocolate Popsicle... Decadent! ~"

12/26/2011

~ Pirogi: Like My Russian Baba Used to Make w/my method for "Perfect Food Processor Pirogi Dough"! ~

Pirogi (spelled pierogi in Poland and pieroghi on Wikipedia) are to Eastern Europeans as ravioli are to Italians. I know this because I come from Eastern European heritage and my husband comes from Italian heritage. I grew up eating "real" pirogi... handmade with love in the kitchens of my Baba and Tettie (my grandmother and her sister). I was about 6 or 7 when they enticed me into the assembly line of their twice-yearly pirogi making marathon by giving me a pastry brush and allowing me to brush water on the edges of the cut dough. I was fully-enlisted by...... View full recipe for "~ Pirogi: Like My Russian Baba Used to Make w/my method for "Perfect Food Processor Pirogi Dough"! ~ "

12/16/2011

~ Veal Cocktail Meatballs w/Apricot-Mustard Glaze ~

This is what I refer to as a "bonus blog post". In the scheme of my holiday blogging agenda, this yummy recipe was not on cue for today. Occasionally, as per today, what I decide to post is born out of practicality: or what happens in my "real" daily life. Earlier this week, my friend Scott asked me to show him how I make parmigiana. So, on Tuesday, we got together early in the afternoon and had a great time making my recipe for ~ "Not Your Mama's Parmigiana" (Chicken or Veal) ~, which I, of course, took the opportunity...... View full recipe for "~ Veal Cocktail Meatballs w/Apricot-Mustard Glaze ~"

11/09/2011

~ My Cheese-y Chicken, Broccoli & Rice Casserole ~

Every cook, every where, needs at least one, hearty, easy-to-make, go-to casserole recipe that can be counted on to please and feed a crowd. This is mine. There are as many versions of this recipe "out there" as there are den mothers, which is how I came to start making this one over twenty years ago. I'm making it today because I just made my annual vat of chicken stock a few days ago. You can read my recipe for ~ It's National Chicken Stock Day: In Mel's Kitchen! ~ in Categories 15 & 22. I'll be using the chicken...... View full recipe for "~ My Cheese-y Chicken, Broccoli & Rice Casserole ~"

11/07/2011

~ Smokey 'n Sweet Roasted-Tomato & Thyme Soup a la "The Philips"... and don't forget the Frico! ~

Savvy cooks and chef's know that when tomatoes start to go out-of-season in the Fall, or, are really out-of-season throughout the Winter, roasting them in the oven concentrates their flavor, making them a truly succulent and sweet ingredient to use in a myriad of savory culinary applications. If you are a consummate tomato lover like me, this is great news! In the Fall, the Philips Hotel and 1921 Restaurant occasionally has a "to die for" tomato soup featured on their "soup du jour" menu. It is thick, rich, slightly sweet, and contains just a hint of smoky flavor... reminiscent of...... View full recipe for "~ Smokey 'n Sweet Roasted-Tomato & Thyme Soup a la "The Philips"... and don't forget the Frico! ~"