.

Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 02/2010

100 posts categorized "08) Condiments, Sauces & Gravies"

09/07/2017

~ Hey, Honey -- Pass the Honey-Mustard Dressing ~

Honey mustard. It's one of the simplest condiments in the food world to make, and, I bow to the mustard makers that invented it. In my kitchen, I use it as a salad dressing, a sandwich spread, a dip for vegetables, and occasionally, a glaze for baked ham. In the '80's, when my kids were in elementary school, there was always a jar of it on my refrigerator door. When we were traveling, if an eatery had chicken tenders and honey-mustard sauce on their list of menu options, my three boys were happy campers -- given the choice, all three...... View full recipe for "~ Hey, Honey -- Pass the Honey-Mustard Dressing ~"

08/06/2017

~ New Mexico's Hatch Green Chile Enchilada Sauce ~

Red or green? That's the question you'll be asked in every New Mexican restaurant. In fact, New Mexico is the only state in the USA that has an official state question: "Red or Green?" I learned that on my first trip through New Mexico, and, I was further told, "if you're not asked this question in a New Mexican restaurant, you're not eating New Mexican food." While many of us out-of-staters (who love our Mexican and Texican fare) generically refer to this type of red or green chile pepper- or powder-based sauce as "enchilada sauce", and, mistakenly assume it's reserved...... View full recipe for "~ New Mexico's Hatch Green Chile Enchilada Sauce ~"

07/31/2017

~ Spicy Avocado Crema: Avocado, Crema & Sriracha ~

If you like guacamole and crema Mexicana with or on your nachos, quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas, etc., whirring the two together in a food processor, along with a bit of Sriracha sauce to give it some cha-cha-cha, creates a creamy-dreamy condiment you'll be craving on a regular basis. It's luxuriously smooth, refreshingly cool, and, there's just enough vinegary spice in the Sriracha to make it addictively interesting. While Mexican crema is becoming easier to find, in the event your grocery store doesn't carry it, feel free substitute crème fraîche or sour cream. I whip avocado crema up in small batches, in...... View full recipe for "~ Spicy Avocado Crema: Avocado, Crema & Sriracha ~"

07/21/2017

~ Easy New Mexico-Style Red Chile Enchilada Sauce~

I'm not proclaiming this recipe "easy" because I have an easy or easier version of a hard recipe. I'm telling you it's "easy" because: it is easy. It's so easy, I don't understand why anyone who loves enchiladas with red sauce would purchase any of the brand name enchilada sauces (and there are plenty to choose from) -- unless they don't realize how easy red enchilada sauce is to make. I know, because for a number of years I bounced around from label to label, sampling store-bought brands, trying to find "the one just for me" in which "the spice...... View full recipe for "~ Easy New Mexico-Style Red Chile Enchilada Sauce~"

07/16/2017

~ Strawberry Chicken & Biscuits w/Strawberry Mayo ~

Over a period of five-six years, Joe and I had occasion to be in the San Diego area once or twice a year, and, on a few of those trips, we had the pleasure of spending time at the La Costa Resort & Spa. Along with all of the amenities and services one would expect to find at a resort and a spa, they specialized in and excelled at serving lighter and healthier cuisine without being imposing. On one visit there, I encountered a refreshingly-fruity strawberry-mayo concoction that showed up in a tossed strawberry chicken salad with bitty bits of...... View full recipe for "~ Strawberry Chicken & Biscuits w/Strawberry Mayo ~"

07/14/2017

~ Spreads go Bread to Bread: Hellmann's vs Duke's ~

Mayonnaise. As a gal who loves deli-, tuna- and egg-salad sandwiches, I am never too far from my mayo. During the picnic and tailgate season, when side-dishes like macaroni salad, potato salad, cole slaw and deviled eggs reign supreme, I purchase bigger jars, in two-packs. When our garden tomatoes are ripe, I could (and will) eat a freshly-picked sliced-tomato sandwich, on white bread, with a big slather of mayonnaise, every day. There's more. I can't imagine my life without mayonnaise-based tartar and remoulade sauces in it, or, oh my Thousand Islands salad dressing, and, I'm very proficient at making homemade...... View full recipe for "~ Spreads go Bread to Bread: Hellmann's vs Duke's ~"

06/23/2017

~ Simple & Sweet: Homemade Strawberry Topping ~

Strawberries, one of the first fruits to ripen in the Spring, are considered to be the fruit that announces "Summer is here", and, here in Central Pennsylvania, we've been enjoying our own homegrown and locally-grown farmers-market strawberries for a couple of weeks now. From pancakes, waffles and French toast, to cheesecake, shortcake and ice-cream (to name a few), the 20-30 minutes it takes to make strawberry topping is well-worth the effort. It's luscious. Those who scratch-make this pretty-to-look-at positively-yummy tart-and-sweet topping make it to their own liking. Some folks hull and toss the berries in whole, then after it has...... View full recipe for "~ Simple & Sweet: Homemade Strawberry Topping ~"

05/12/2017

~ Easy Chinese Dipping Sauce for Dumplings & Such ~

An easy, all-purpose dipping sauce for dumplings and such. If you love Chinese dim sum, you know the one. It sits alongside the shumai (steamed dumplings), jiaozi (potstickers) and congyoubing (scallion pancakes) -- small-bite, appetizer-type items made with Chinese hot water dough. It's light, bright, bold and well-balanced -- slightly salty from soy sauce, pleasingly sweet from sugar, and, pungent from rice vinegar. Hints of ginger and/or garlic and a splash of sesame are easily identified. There are usually a few thin-sliced scallions floating around in it, and, sometimes, a minced hot pepper is added to heat things up. If...... View full recipe for "~ Easy Chinese Dipping Sauce for Dumplings & Such ~"

04/20/2017

~ Sour Cream and Dill Dressing for Cucumber Salad ~

Fresh, feathery and fragile dill "leaves" or "weed". It's a bit early for it to be available to me in my Central PA garden, but: big, beautiful bunches of it are showing up in my grocery stores. In Eastern European kitchens everywhere, dill, along with chives, mint and/or parsley, are commonly used to flavor all sorts of heritage dishes: fish (like salmon or sturgeon), various soups (notably red or white borscht), many vegetables (especially carrots or potatoes), and, classic dill pickles (or anything that can be pickled). The sweet, subtle flavor of dill is delightful in many of our ethnic...... View full recipe for "~ Sour Cream and Dill Dressing for Cucumber Salad ~"

02/28/2017

~ What the Heck are Capers & Non-Pariel Capers? ~

Culinarily speaking, capers are a small, round, dark-green condiment pickled in a salty brine. Similar to green olives, the curing process brings out their tangy, pungent, lemony flavor which pops in your mouth. Technically, they are the flower buds of the shrubby caper bush (Capparis spinosa), which grows in and around regions of the Meditterranean. The buds are picked before they flower, dried in the sun, and then packed in salt. It's a labor-intensive process, as they can only be harvested by hand. The buds range in size from that of a tiny baby pea to that of a small...... View full recipe for "~ What the Heck are Capers & Non-Pariel Capers? ~"

02/22/2017

~ Pretty in Pink: Thousand Islands Salad Dressing ~

No matter how easy or complicated, recipes that have a history or a lore are always on my short list of blog posts to share because, for me, they are the most fun to write. They fascinate me. I'd like to think that, like myself, if one knows the story, it's more fun to prepare and eat the dish. Let me explain it this way: Part of the fun of eating a Caesar Salad or a Toll House cookie is pondering what part of their story is documented fact, romantic fiction or a combination of both. Growing up in the...... View full recipe for "~ Pretty in Pink: Thousand Islands Salad Dressing ~"

02/17/2017

~ In the Beginning: Basic Vinaigrette Demystified ~

I have no idea who prepared the first salad -- no one does. Whoever it was, I'm guessing it was an accident, and more likely than not, as a result of hunger. Gathered from fields, around streams and in wooded areas, a mixture of wild greens, an herb or two, wild mushrooms, flowers and a some berries and/or seeds would surely satisfy the appetite. As time passed, a pinch of salt got added. A little later, a squirt of citrus, then a splash of vinegar. Last to the party: oil. Yes indeed, he or she was definitely onto something. That...... View full recipe for "~ In the Beginning: Basic Vinaigrette Demystified ~"

11/12/2016

~ Plain, Simple & Unpretentious Basic White Sauce ~

Melted butter, flour and hot milk. Whisk it all together with some salt and pepper to taste, simmer it for a few short minutes and you've got basic white sauce. It's one of the things I learned to make "way back when" in Home Economics, and, the recipe the teacher used was out of a 1960's or '70's edition of the The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, which was kept on a shelf along with a few of her other favorites of the time (The Joy of Cooking, Betty Crocker's Cookbook, etc.). < On page 274 of this 1974 edition, Fannie Farmer...... View full recipe for "~ Plain, Simple & Unpretentious Basic White Sauce ~"

11/05/2016

~ PA Deutsch (Dutch) Sweet & Sour Salad Dressing~

If you live in or around a region in Pennsylvania (and other surrounding states too) influenced by a Pennsylvania Deutsch community, you know all about this drizzly, creamy-yellow, sweet and sour, onion-and-celery-laced oil-based salad dressing. So as to avoid any confusion, it is different from Amish sweet & sour salad dressing, which is a thicker, similarly-flavored mayonnaise- or salad-dressing-based concoction (Miracle Whip is referred to as "salad dressing" in Amish country). How do I know this stuff? I've lived my entire life in Pennsylvania (I grew up near Pennsylvania Deutsch country and currently live near Amish country). You say Pennsylvania...... View full recipe for "~ PA Deutsch (Dutch) Sweet & Sour Salad Dressing~"

10/20/2016

~ Frank's-Style Buffalo-Style Chicken Wing Sauce ~

Wander into a bar -- any bar, anywhere in America. Buffalo wings are on the pub grub menu. No description is necessary. You know you're getting unbreaded, deep-fried wingettes and drumettes coated in a vivid-red vinegar-based cayenne pepper and melted butter sauce. They'll arrive with celery and carrot sticks, and either blue cheese or ranch dressing for dipping or drizzling. You will most likely be asked to specify if you want your wings coated in a mild, medium or hot version of the sauce. Buffalo wing sauce is a classic concoction. Read on: Frank's RedHot is synonymous with Buffalo chicken...... View full recipe for "~ Frank's-Style Buffalo-Style Chicken Wing Sauce ~"

08/23/2016

~ Jalapeno, Cilantro, Lime & Yogurt Salad Dressing ~

It is salad season. From the end of July through the end of September, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, onions, all sorts of herbs (and a host of other vegetables) get picked daily, right in my own backyard. Rare is the day some sort of salad or crudités isn't on our table for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. It's simply appropriate that a salad composed of the freshest, homegrown ingredients get enhanced by an equally bright and bold scratch-made dressing. A quick scroll through Category 8 (Condiments, Sauces & Gravies) here on Kitchen Encounters will reveal many of my favorite salad...... View full recipe for "~ Jalapeno, Cilantro, Lime & Yogurt Salad Dressing ~"

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 ~"

06/02/2016

~ Remoulade Sauce: A Staple in the NOLA Kitchen ~

It is 99.9% impossible to visit New Orleans and not experience their remoulade sauces. Lots of people go to NOLA for Mardi Gras. Back in 1982, Joe and I decided to spend seven days there, which included New Years Eve and New Years Day -- if you like to travel, I highly recommend doing this. I tell everyone, "we did nothing but eat our way through the city's superb restaurants, bars, grilles and countryside dives". For our very first meal, we chose to dine at the elegant Galatoire's, where I encountered their signature appetizer: Creole shrimp remoulade. Remoulade sauce is...... View full recipe for "~ Remoulade Sauce: A Staple in the NOLA Kitchen ~"

05/15/2016

~ Thai-Style Spicy Peanut Sauce for Poultry or Pork ~

Oh my Thai. Oh my -- I love Thai food. When I get to craving it, unlike a lot of city dwellers, here in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania, running off to a Thai restaurant is not an option (for me). That's mostly because I spent a great deal of time, almost two years, learning to cook Thai. Happy Valley's Thai eateries: they're good, they're just not great. They leave me saying, "I could have done better at home", because I really can, and that takes the fun out of going out for me. That period of time, under the...... View full recipe for "~ Thai-Style Spicy Peanut Sauce for Poultry or Pork ~"

04/19/2016

~ Sweet & Sour Sauce for Seafood, Poultry or Pork ~

Duck sauce, sweet and sour sauce, and, brown sauce -- if you associate them with Chinese and Chinese-American cuisine, you'd be correct. All three are cooked, pantry-staple condiment-sauces that are thickened with cornstarch. The first two cousins are used primarily as glazes and dipping sauces. The latter, brown sauce, is used mostly to finish quick stir-fries. You can find my recipes for ~ "Would You Like Duck Sauce With That?" "Yes!" ~ and, ~ A Chinese Staple: Real-Deal Basic Brown Sauce ~ by clicking into Categories 8 or 13. Today's topic is: Chinese-Style vs. American-Style Sweet & Sour Sauce: The...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet & Sour Sauce for Seafood, Poultry or Pork ~"

03/14/2016

~Duxelles: Rich, Refined Mouthwatering Mushrooms~

Mushroom duxelles. To a mushroom lover like me, this is the crème de la crème of mushroom preparations -- the earthy caviar of my fungi food world. Each time I prepare it, I pay homage to the French for their meticulous attention to culinary detail. Without duxelles, my Veal Orloff, Beef Wellington and Coquilles St. Jacques would be ordinary veal, beef and seafood dishes. With duxelles on-hand in my refrigerator, I can change an unpretentious piece of toasted bread or a scrambled egg into a fine-dining experience. It enhances many of my sauces and gravies, and, soups and stews too....... View full recipe for "~Duxelles: Rich, Refined Mouthwatering Mushrooms~"

01/02/2016

~ Chimichurri: The Sauce Steak Can't Live Without ~

The first time I ate steak with chimichurri sauce drizzled over it I was in my latter twenties and in a Houston steak house. It was amazing -- the steak too. I remember odd foodie facts like this because I tagged along on many of Joe's many business trips during the 1980's and '90's. On this one, our only trip ever to Houston, we ate in a steak house one night and a fish market the next. Sometimes, the secret really is in the sauce, and, chimichurri is one such example. This bright-green, herb-driven condiment, similar in appearance to Italian...... View full recipe for "~ Chimichurri: The Sauce Steak Can't Live Without ~"

11/17/2015

~ My Favorite Tartar Sauce (For Fish and Seafood) ~

Tartar sauce can be bought at any and every grocery store. They must sell a lot of it, because just yesterday I had to choose from, and bought, five jars of five different brands -- just for me to conduct a taste test before writing this. The one that got top billing was our own local Wegman's brand. Bookbinders came in second with Hellman's a distant third. As for 4th and 5th places, "if one can't say anything nice, one shouldn't say anything at all", but it's my guess that when someone says they don't like tartar sauce, it's because...... View full recipe for "~ My Favorite Tartar Sauce (For Fish and Seafood) ~"

10/04/2015

~ The Spice is Right: Baja & Carnitas Blends/Rubs ~

Most Americans love the fiery flavors of our American Southwest. That said, too many American cooks rely upon store-bought spice blends in an attempt to duplicate authentic flavor and don't realize: Mexican food is Mexican food. It can't be bought. It varies from region to region and cook to cook, and, the blending of the spices is at the discretion of each cook in each region. Because of this, when naming my blends, I am careful to add "-style" at the end, because, while they are "in the style" of a specific flavor profile, they are, after all, concocted to...... View full recipe for "~ The Spice is Right: Baja & Carnitas Blends/Rubs ~"

09/22/2015

~ Mexican Pico de Gallo (Salsa Fresca/Fresh Salsa)~

For those who home cook more than their fair share of Tex/Mex fare, you likely have your pico de gallo recipe committed to memory -- I do. You also know that pico de gallo is much more than a condiment to dip tortilla chips into or plop on your tacos. In my kitchen it's a tasty topper for grilled or broiled chicken and fish, it's great on thinly-sliced flank, skirt or flat-iron steaks, and, a spoonful on fried, poached or scrambled eggs in the AM will change your outlook of the day ahead. Here in Central PA, my garden is...... View full recipe for "~ Mexican Pico de Gallo (Salsa Fresca/Fresh Salsa)~"

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 ~"

07/19/2015

~ Sweet and Savory K.C.-Style Cherry BBQ Sauce ~

I'm a huge fan of real-deal barbecue, and, I'm well-acquainted with most of the conventional, regional styles too: North and South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee (Memphis), Missouri (St. Louis and Kansas City). That said, I neither pretend to be nor want to be 'a player' in this particular sport. I'm merely in awe of the people I know who have mastered and excel at its preparation. My participation is happily limited to being a free-thinking, cocktail drinking, fair-weather fan. I'm content to stand on the sidelines, watch intently and learn -- independent of the ever-present, my-way-or-the-highway, holier-than-thou: barbecue police. I...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet and Savory K.C.-Style Cherry BBQ Sauce ~"

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 ~"

06/14/2015

~ My Sweet 'n Spicy, Summer Tropical Fruit Salsa ~

If you're looking for a change of pace to spice up your Summer menu, my tropical fruit salsa is your answer. While I love it served atop grilled white fish (like grouper and sea bass) on a bed of steamed jasmine rice, it is delicious on cheesy Tex-Mex nachos and chicken quesadillas. That said, it pairs equally as well with Thai-Asian fare like my ~ Crunchy Thai-Style Deep-Fried Coconut Shrimp ~ as an appetizer (recipe found in Categories 1, 11, 13 & 14), and, my East-meets-West fusion main course ~ Thai Turkey Patties & Rice w/Creamy Coconut Sauce ~. Newsflash...... View full recipe for "~ My Sweet 'n Spicy, Summer Tropical Fruit Salsa ~"

05/01/2015

~ A Versatile Tex-Mex Condiment: Chile-Lime Mayo ~

Today is the unofficial start to barbecue and grill season here in Central Pennsylvania. Whether your preference is the low-and-slow barbecue pit (Eastern or Western North Carolina-, Texas-, Kansas City-, or Memphis-style), or, the fast-and-furious charcoal or gas grill, from Cinco de Mayo to Labor Day, there will be plenty opportunities for all of us to show off and share our smoke and fire skills. We Americans love to cook, eat and drink in the great outdoors. Joe and I don't pretend to be pit-masters or grill-masters, but, we do turn out some very tasty stuff, and, amongst our favorite...... View full recipe for "~ A Versatile Tex-Mex Condiment: Chile-Lime Mayo ~"

04/12/2015

~ Sinfully-Simple Sherry & Cream Newburg Sauce ~

Newberg or Newburg sauce is a 100% French sauce with an all-American name, and, is 100% associated with the famous dishes: lobster Newberg and seafood Newburg. That said, this sauce is not just for seafood. In fact, the sauce itself doesn't contain lobster or any other seafood, and, it isn't made with lobster or seafood stock either. It's a silky-smooth, sinfully-rich, liquor-laced cream sauce, originally made from cream, cognac, sherry, egg yolks and cayenne pepper. This combination of rather ordinary ingredients renders it very versatile -- perfect for saucing all sorts of fish, seafood, meat, poultry, egg and vegetable dishes....... View full recipe for "~ Sinfully-Simple Sherry & Cream Newburg Sauce ~"

03/19/2015

~ The Big Easy: Making Blender Hollandaise Sauce ~

My love and enthusiasm for French food and cooking in the style of France has spanned almost four decades. When time permits, I have no problem spending eight hours or the better part of two days doing whaever it takes to make something superb. That said, when I find a shortcut way of doing anything that causes me no compromise in flavor and texture, I am like the proud pig who just dug up the world's largest truffle. Blender hollandaise is one such example. A bit about hollandaise sauce: Hollandaise is one of the five famous Mother Sauces of France:...... View full recipe for "~ The Big Easy: Making Blender Hollandaise Sauce ~"

02/26/2015

~Succulent Boneless Leg of Lamb w/Creamy au Jus~

Lamb, one of my favorite meats, was an acquired taste. My first encounter with it didn't go well. My grandmother and mother never cooked lamb and I got "blindsided" by it in the third grade. It was my turn to play with Barbie dolls at my girlfriend and neighbor Brenda's house. Next time, she would come to my house -- we did this often, and, it always included the dinner du jour. My Lamb Stew (Irish Stew) Story -- "Those poor orphans!" Brenda's mom was generally a good cook, but on this day, she was cooking something "foreign" to me....... View full recipe for "~Succulent Boneless Leg of Lamb w/Creamy au Jus~"

11/18/2014

~ Parmesan Sherry Cream Sauce for Pasta/Seafood: Don't Debate It, Grate It -- It'll melt your heart away! ~

"Calling all cars, there's a woman in Happy Valley putting cheese sauce on her seafood". That sounds nonsensical because it is nonsensical and no self-appointed authority on Italian food (yes, Italians in particular get their panties in a bunch over this) is going to convince me otherwise. In certain circumstances I find the combination of pasta and seafood swimming in a sea of silky, smooth, cheese sauce sensuous and seductive. In fact, the food world is a better place because philistines like myself aren't afraid to break a culinary commandment once in a while -- especially one without any meaty...... View full recipe for "~ Parmesan Sherry Cream Sauce for Pasta/Seafood: Don't Debate It, Grate It -- It'll melt your heart away! ~"

11/08/2014

~ So what exactly is in Poultry Seasoning? Poultry? ~

My grandmother ("Baba") and my great aunt (my grandmother's sister "Tettie") always had a small tin of poultry seasoning in their respective pantries. My grandmother used Durkee's and my great aunt used McCormick. My mother does not care for poultry seasoning, so, her pantry is bare. I actually keep two brands on hand, McCormick and Bell's -- I like them both, but I don't always use them interchangeably. I use McCormick because it is the flavor blend I grew up with, so it goes into family recipes like ~ Tetties Baked Mashed-Potato Stuffing Casserole ~. A bit about "poultry seasoning":...... View full recipe for "~ So what exactly is in Poultry Seasoning? Poultry? ~"

10/04/2014

~ Simply Silky & Smooth Spiced Apple & Pear Puree (Taking grandmother's applesauce to another level.) ~

Does anyone make homemade applesauce anymore? I ask because I never hear anyone talk about doing it. I grew up in a time and a place where not only was applesauce homemade, the making of it was an event, and, it was served often. We stirred it warm into our oatmeal for breakfast and served it chilled as a side-dish to almost any poultry or pork for dinner. We dolloped it on cheddar cheese and crackers for an appetizer and drizzled it over gingerbread for dessert. There's more. My grandmother taught me to stir "a tad" into apple pie or...... View full recipe for "~ Simply Silky & Smooth Spiced Apple & Pear Puree (Taking grandmother's applesauce to another level.) ~"

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 ~"

09/04/2014

~ When Life Hands You a Basket of Grape Tomatoes: Get Sauced - Make a Batch of Oven-Roasted Magic ~

Savvy cooks all know that roasting tomatoes (which contain quite a bit of natural sugar) concentrates their flavor, rendering them a truly succulent and sweet ingredient with a myriad of uses: condiments, dips, salsas, sauces, soups and side-dishes to name a few. If you are a tomato lover like me, this is great news because high-quality store-bought tomatoes can be transformed into a tasty treat with some EVOO, an herb, a spice or two, and, a stint in the oven. Unless you live in an area where high-quality store-bought tomatoes, like Campari tomatoes, ("the tomato lovers tomato") are available, the...... View full recipe for "~ When Life Hands You a Basket of Grape Tomatoes: Get Sauced - Make a Batch of Oven-Roasted Magic ~"

07/27/2014

~ The difference between fajita & taco seasoning is: More than "just a little bit of this & a little bit of that". ~

Like fajita seasoning, taco seasoning is a standarized concoction of spices common to Tex-Mex cuisine. It was invented for convenience sake by American manufacturers for modern day American cooks trying to find an easy way to mimic authentic flavors without really learning how to cook the dish authentically. A standarized blend of anything is a totally foreign concept to Mexican cooks -- and that includes our American-manufactured chili powders. Read on: Chili powder, spelled with an "i" is an American concoction that bears little resemblence to chile powder, spelled with an "e". Chili powder contains spices and salt. Mexican cooks...... View full recipe for "~ The difference between fajita & taco seasoning is: More than "just a little bit of this & a little bit of that". ~"

07/25/2014

~ Mel's Homemade Tex-Mex-Style Taco Seasoning ~

Taco (tah-koh). The definition is a simple one: a grilled or fried, soft or crispy, corn- or wheat-flour tortilla filled with a host of grill or stovetop cooked meat, sausage, poultry, fish, seafood or vegetable fillings and an array of condiment toppings. The tortilla (the empty, portable, holder) turns into a taco when it gets filled. Once filled, the taco is picked up by folding it in half and eaten with the hands. Once filled, the taco usually takes on a specific name: tacos al carbon (skirt steak), tacos al pastor (pork), tacos de pescado (fish), tacos de camarones (shrimp),...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Homemade Tex-Mex-Style Taco Seasoning ~"

07/16/2014

~ Mel's Homemade Tex-Mex-Style Fajita Seasoning ~

Fajitas (fa-hee-tahs) were originally named "tacos al carbon" and were served ready-to-eat-with-the-hands by wrapping strips of unpretentious and cheap skirt steak, cooked directly over a campfire or a grill, in a flour or corn tortilla. "Faja" the Spanish word for "strip, band, sash or belt", with "ita" added to the end of it, means "a little strip, band, sash or belt". The dish dates back to cattle ranching life along the Rio Grande Valley regions of the Texas-Mexico border in the 1930's. Throwaway items (heads, entrails and meat trimmings) were given to the Mexican vaqueros (cowboys) as part of their...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Homemade Tex-Mex-Style Fajita Seasoning ~"

07/12/2014

~ Lemon-Pepper Pear-Infused Balsamic Vinaigrette ~

I rarely write a post that requires readers to search for a specialized ingredient not readily found at the market, and, when I do, I usually include a uncompromising substitute for that item (or items). I am what I refer to as an equal opportunity recipe developer. From time to time it's my job to work with unusual or extravagant ingredients from around the world. Sharing them in my recipes is fun, but, it's also my responsibility, via a substitute ingredient, to make sure the recipe is user-friendly and economical for all -- we are all in this food world...... View full recipe for "~ Lemon-Pepper Pear-Infused Balsamic Vinaigrette ~"

06/27/2014

~ My Creamy Dreamy Gorgonzola Sauce for Pasta ~

As a gal who grew up in the latter '50's, '60's and early '70's, my family didn't venture into trying the worlds vast varieties of artisanal cheeses. We stuck with what we knew, which, like the rest of suburban, middle America, was limited to the selection in the dairy case of our one or two local grocery stores. When it came to slicing or grating, if it wasn't white American, it was yellow cheddar or marbled Colby. We ate mozzarella, but it was the aged low-moisture kind, and as for Parmesan, there was little need for that in an Eastern...... View full recipe for "~ My Creamy Dreamy Gorgonzola Sauce for Pasta ~"

06/25/2014

~ One Recipe = Two of Mel's Favorite Citrus Salad Dressings: Pink Grapefruit or Sun-Kissed Orange!!! ~

It might be melon season right now but I've just spent the past week focusing on main-dish "citrus fruit in salad" recipes. I love citrus fruit and rarely does a week pass by that I don't use its juice and/or its zest as an ingredient in something I'm cooking. On almost a daily basis I eat it or drink it for pure, unadulterated enjoyment -- although I do adulterate it into a refreshing cocktail or two from time to time. I especially love it worked into salads that contain chicken or seafood. From appetizer to dessert, citrus fruit is a...... View full recipe for "~ One Recipe = Two of Mel's Favorite Citrus Salad Dressings: Pink Grapefruit or Sun-Kissed Orange!!! ~"

06/23/2014

~ Buttermilk, Blue Cheese 'n Chive Salad Dressing + Why I love Danablu cheese & some chive talkin' too!~

Blue cheese dressing is undoubtedly one of America's most popular salad dressings -- especially with men. In any steakhouse you'll be offered their house salad, many times a classic wedge salad, with the option of their in-house-made blue cheese dressing on top of it. Order chicken wings anywhere, and unless you request them served otherwise, they will arrive at your table with blue cheese dressing. I'm proud to say my recipe will rival any blue cheese dressing: Chocked full of chunkly blue cheese crumbles, just the right balance of sweet and savory spice with a touch of heat, I'm reasonably...... View full recipe for "~ Buttermilk, Blue Cheese 'n Chive Salad Dressing + Why I love Danablu cheese & some chive talkin' too!~"

05/18/2014

~My Basic Asiago Cheese Sauce for Pasta/Veggies~

As a gal who grew up in the latter '50's, '60's and early '70's, I did not grow up eating fake "cheese-feed" products. You know what I mean: thick, bottled Olive Garden-type pasta sauces that bear no resemblance to delicate, real-deal Alfredo sauce, and, gloppy, jarred Cheez-Whiz-type concoctions that get poured over vegetables and nachos. Besides the calories (and who knows what else), I feel lucky that I grew up in a family during a time in history when everyone appreciated good cheese. Back then, even us Americans hand-sliced and grated our own cheese (it didn't come out of a...... View full recipe for "~My Basic Asiago Cheese Sauce for Pasta/Veggies~"

01/08/2014

~ Time Out to Define: Hoisin Sauce & Oyster Sauce ~

Since I am about to embark on a little mid-January trist with Chinese food, I decided to define two of the most used sauces in the Chinese pantry: Hoisin and Oyster. Why? Because too many Americans think they are "almost the same" and can be used interchangeably: wrong. Hoisin Sauce (HOY-sihn): "Hoisin" means "sea-fresh" in Chinese, but contains no seafood and is not served with seafod either. Sometimes referred to as "Peking sauce", it is a rich, reddish-brown sauce with a sweet, tangy flavor. It's made from soybeans, sesame seeds, garlic, chile peppers, salt, sugar and spices. Besides being used...... View full recipe for "~ Time Out to Define: Hoisin Sauce & Oyster Sauce ~"