Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 02/2010

210 posts categorized "15) With Love from Melanie's Kitchen: Techniques, Basic Recipes, My Soup Stocks & an Occasional Oration"


~ Three Ways to Cook Smoked Bone-In Pork Chops ~

Smoked porcine (bacon, ham, sausage pork chops, etc.), when properly smoked, is enhanced with a sublime slightly-smoky flavor and an enticing pinkish color, meaning the aroma is pleasant (not at all overpowering), and the visual is pretty. There's more. The smoking process renders the meat cooked, meaning, it only needs to be heated to a safe internal temperature prior to eating and the information is indicated on the label: 125° if fully-cooked, and, 145° if not fully-cooked. In the case of smoked pork chops, in my kitchen there are three quick-and-easy options for cooking: a broiler pan in the oven...... View full recipe for "~ Three Ways to Cook Smoked Bone-In Pork Chops ~"


~Making Great Cheese Quesadillas with Corn Tortillas~

We all have a few favorite food combinations, meaning, two foods that go hand-in-hand together. A duo you can't emotionally separate because you can't enjoy one without the other. A few of my cheesy favorites: a cup of tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich, my mom's meatloaf with some macaroni and cheese, my favorite cheeseburger with a side of fries. Another personal favorite: a bowl of Wendy's-style chili with a few quick-to-make cheesy quesadilla wedges. "Queso (KAY-soh)" is the Spanish word meaning "cheese", and, a quesadilla is a tortilla containing ooey-gooey melted cheese. Quesadilla (keh-sah-DEE-yah): A round, flat, cooked-until-soft...... View full recipe for "~Making Great Cheese Quesadillas with Corn Tortillas~"


~Steak My Day - Summer-Up & Try Pork Blade Steak~

The pork blade steak is my new-to-me muse -- in my own words, it's a bone-fide kick-butt man-sized pork chop. Known as pork steak, pork butt steak or pork blade steak, these bone-in steaks are cut from the shoulder of the pig -- the same part of the porcine used to make pulled pork. Similar in taste and texture to close-kin country-style spareribs*, they were invented in St. Louis, MO, and are a Midwest staple. As a country-style spare-rib lover living in central Pennsylvania, I ask the Sam's Club butcher to custom-cut these inexpensive, lesser-to-unknown-to-our-locale steaks for me. Perhaps this...... View full recipe for "~Steak My Day - Summer-Up & Try Pork Blade Steak~"


~How to Bake a Pullman Loaf in a Pullman Bread Pan~

The Pullman loaf is the quintessential white sandwich loaf. The name "Pullman" comes from its use in the kitchens of the Pullman Company's railway cars of the 1800s, and, the Pullman company is credited with inventing the rectangular-shaped lidded baking pans (which coincidentally resembled the shape of the railroad cars). Baking bread in a pan with a lid is, functionally a bit different than baking bread in an open-topped pan, which, of course, affects the crumb structure. The confined space, which doesn't allow most of the steam to escape, prevents big air bubbles from forming, which keeps the crumb fine...... View full recipe for "~How to Bake a Pullman Loaf in a Pullman Bread Pan~"


~ What Exactly is a Pullman Loaf & Pullman Loaf Pan ~

A flat-topped loaf of white sandwich bread that gets baked in a square-sided loaf pan with a lid is, culinarily, known as a Pullman loaf. It goes without saying, the technical term for the loaf pan itself is a Pullman pan. The fancy French terms for a Pullman loaf are "pain-de-mie" ("pain" meaning "bread", and "mie" meaning "the soft white inner part of the loaf"), and, "pain anglais" (meaning "English loaf"). It's a loaf of somewhat-firm-yet-soft enriched white bread with perfectly square sides and minimal crust. It slices easily, making it the quintessential sandwich loaf. The Pullman loaf is the...... View full recipe for "~ What Exactly is a Pullman Loaf & Pullman Loaf Pan ~"


~ To Paillard or Not to Paillard -- and Define a Paillard ~

A Paillard, a noun, is a thin, lightly-pounded cut, large or small, of any type of meat -- most commonly beef, chicken, lamb, pork or veal. That said, occasionally, in certain culinary applications, firm seafood, like lobster, shrimp or scallops, can, for the right reason, become a paillard. It's also possible to use some vegetables to make a paillard. In certain areas of the United States, paillards are simply referred to as "cutlets". Paillard, the verb, generally speaking, means to lightly-pound. I'm using a few boneless, skinless chicken thighs as an example. Paillard (PI-yahrd): This fancy French word dating back...... View full recipe for "~ To Paillard or Not to Paillard -- and Define a Paillard ~"


~ Fry the Entire Danged Thing -- Unsectioned Wings ~

Chicken wings. While not even close to the top of my list of healthy-eating snacks or meals, they are at the top of my list of favorite snacks or meals, and, much like the greater percentage of the rest of the population of the United States, from time-to-time I get a craving for them. Also, much like the greater percentage of the rest of the population of the United States, I am in agreement, deep-fried wings, as opposed to air-fried oven-roasted or barbecue-grilled, are the best wings. What started in 1964 as late-night pub grub at the Anchor Bar in...... View full recipe for "~ Fry the Entire Danged Thing -- Unsectioned Wings ~"


~ The Difference Between Pancake and Waffle Batter ~

Pancakes or waffles, waffles or pancakes. Everyone loves them, and, once you make the decision to make one of these two common breakfast foods, in the culinary scheme of things, no two dishes that start out fundamentally same (with a flour, milk and egg batter), could possible emerge so different. When it comes to pancakes and waffles, the number one mistake folks make it assuming they can use the same batter for both -- perfectly underderstandable, but wrong. Waffle batter is thicker than pancake batter and requires more eggs, fat and sugar in order to render the unique, signature texture....... View full recipe for "~ The Difference Between Pancake and Waffle Batter ~"


~ How to Make the Best, Basic, Classic, Pancake Mix ~

We all do it. Why not. Wake up in the morning, go into the pantry, and pull out a time-saving box of Bisquick or Aunt Jemima pancake mix. Whether it gets mixed with milk or buttermilk, the pancakes are quick to make, they taste great, and, in this busy world, there's no shame in it. My attitude is "morning food should be easy food". That said, dry pancake mix can be made in minutes at home and stored in a tightly-sealed jar or ziplock bag, in the pantry, for up to six months. Just add some milk or buttermilk, an...... View full recipe for "~ How to Make the Best, Basic, Classic, Pancake Mix ~"


~ How to Make the Best, Basic, Classic Waffle Batter ~

In my kitchen, a snowy morning with buttermilk in the fridge adds up to one of two things: a big plate of pancakes or a big plate of waffles. I'm not sure if there is a better way to fritter away some time on a cold Thursday morning. This morning we decided to go the waffle route. They're a little more involved than pancakes, mostly because a waffle iron is involved, but, what the heck, my foolproof buttermilk waffle recipe only takes a few minutes to whisk together, and, they emerge from the waffle iron light-and-fluffy with crispy edges --...... View full recipe for "~ How to Make the Best, Basic, Classic Waffle Batter ~"


~ How to Make the Best, Basic, Classic French Toast ~

The French words for French toast are pain perdu, meaning lost bread, because it is a way of reviving bread which becomes dry after a day or two. The basics of any French toast recipe are pretty simple: Thickly-sliced, two-three-day-old bread is dipped into a vanilla-flavored egg-and-cream custard mixture. The bread is allowed to soak up the custard for a few moments, then it gets fried in a skillet containing a coating of oil. When executed correctly, it emerges from the skillet crisp and golden brown on both sides with a creamy, almost pudding-like, center. Use any semi-firm textured bread,...... View full recipe for "~ How to Make the Best, Basic, Classic French Toast ~"


~Old Bay -- Maryland's Staple in a Classic Yellow Can~

Newsflash -- There are two reasons to never consider trying to make Old Bay Seasoning at home. The first: You can't do it, you'll never get the proportions right, and, those of us who recognize the signature taste -- we'll hate you for yours. The second: Old Bay Seasoning is a source of Marylander pride. It's a staple -- it's found, right next to the salt and pepper shakers, on the tables in eateries everywhere. If you wouldn't try pawning some off-the-rails homemade salt or pepper off on your guests (or customers), don't try it with Old Bay seasoning either....... View full recipe for "~Old Bay -- Maryland's Staple in a Classic Yellow Can~ "


~An E-Z Two-Ingredient Shortbread-Cookie Pie Crust~

Cheesecakes, cream pies, many layered bar-type cookies, and, some refrigerated pudding and frozen ice-cream desserts call for using a graham cracker crumb crust or cookie crumb crust as a buttery, crunchy base. While homemade graham crackers, sugar cookies, shortbread cookies, gingersnaps and chocolate wafers make exceptional crumb crusts, I won't lie, it would have to be one heck of an insanely over-the-top dessert for me to bake any of them for the sole purpose of starting with a real-deal scratch-made base. That said, I learned early in my baking life that I don't at all care for the quality of...... View full recipe for "~An E-Z Two-Ingredient Shortbread-Cookie Pie Crust~"


~ Simple Tips for Entertaining for Breakfast or Brunch ~

Entertaining guests for breakfast or brunch is decidedly different than entertaining guests for cocktails and/or dinner. For starters, we breakfast chefs don't have the luxury of several hours prep time leading up to the get-together, which means, all of the shopping and as much of the fare (as is humanly possible) needs to be prepped or semi-prepared the night before. An early call to the kitchen means "all the boxes" need to be checked, and double-checked, prior to showtime. Do NOT bite-off more than you can chew. Don't break your budget (just don't do it), resist the urge to be...... View full recipe for "~ Simple Tips for Entertaining for Breakfast or Brunch ~"


~Stirring the Pot: Smoked Ham Shanks & Ham Hocks~

In my kitchen, cold weather is soup and stew weather, and, once the frost is on the pumpkin I like to make my soups and stews in slow-simmered big batches. After we've enjoyed one hearty warm-us-up meal, I freeze the rest in two-quart containers, so we can slurp soups and stews several more times until Spring comes. Chicken vegetable soup, beef stew, and, ham and bean soup are my on my family's short-list of favorites. For the most part, when making soup or stew, "chicken is chicken" and "beef is beef", meaning: they're almost self-explanatory. That said, when making soups...... View full recipe for "~Stirring the Pot: Smoked Ham Shanks & Ham Hocks~"


~ Defining the Differences between Soups and Stews ~

When I pull out my big, 20-24-quart stockpots, it's officially Fall. Why? When it's chilly outside, it's time to cook up a storm inside. Why? When one lives in the Northeast, it's a wise cook who has a freezer containing some thaw-heat-and-eat meals for those snowy days when a quick trip to the grocery store is not in the forecast. Yes indeed, when the frost is on the pumpkin, I don't mind spending an afternoon at the stovetop preparing one of the two favorite things I cook in big batches (for "freezer meals"): a stockpot full of luscious, heartwarming, soup...... View full recipe for "~ Defining the Differences between Soups and Stews ~"


~ Tips for Big Batch Eat-Some Freeze-Some Cooking ~

If you've ever envisioned yourself being a restaurant chef, be careful what you wish for: the pots are big, the load is heavy. There's more. As a home cook, in terms of slicing, dicing, chopping and mincing, you won't have any line cooks to perform those menial tasks for you. Don't get me wrong (I'm not trying to talk you out of this), big batch cooking isn't necessarily hard, but, more-often than not, it is time consuming -- in many instances, it's prudent to do the majority of the prep work on one day and the actual cooking the next,...... View full recipe for "~ Tips for Big Batch Eat-Some Freeze-Some Cooking ~"


~What's the Buzz -- Thick & Hearty Bronze-Cut Pasta~

Dried pasta, I'm guessing, is in 99.9 percent of all pantries. Even if I didn't adore pasta as much as I do, not to mention have around 100 favorite ways to prepare around 100 of my favorite pasta shapes, several boxes of pasta would still be required to be in my pantry at all times. Why? Because the majority of everyone I know loves pasta, and as the family cook, it's my responsibility to please as many people at one time as possible -- and pasta, as a side-dish or a main-course, is a simple, straightforward, sure-simmered way to do...... View full recipe for "~What's the Buzz -- Thick & Hearty Bronze-Cut Pasta~"


~ The Best Way to Assemble & Wrap a Tortilla Wrap ~

The exact origin of the tortilla wrap is not known, but several sandwich shops in various regions of California claim to have created the first one. None of their stories can be verified, but, one thing that is, for the most part, agreed on: the tortilla wrap was inspired by the burrito. When making a tortilla wrap, the general rule of thumb is: any salad or sandwich ingredient combo that can be slapped between two slices of bread or shoved into a pocket bread, can be wrapped in a flour tortilla. That said, generally speaking, when ordering a tortilla wrap,...... View full recipe for "~ The Best Way to Assemble & Wrap a Tortilla Wrap ~"


~How to Season & Roast Chicken Leg-Thigh Quarters~

Oven-roasted chicken leg-thigh quarters are on my weeknight meal rotation two or three times a month. They're tender and juicy, and, sigh-oh-my, that gorgeous, golden, crispy skin. Each one is a one-piece drumstick and thigh, which means each piece is the perfect one portion, so, no guesswork involved, you never have any leftovers (unless you want leftovers, then you roast six-eight). No matter what you're seasoning or saucing these with (the possibilities are almost endless), the upfront prep-work is minimal. Into the oven they go for 1 hour, 15-20 minutes, and, your hands are, for the most part, free to...... View full recipe for "~How to Season & Roast Chicken Leg-Thigh Quarters~"


~ Store-Bought Corn Tortillas & the Perfect Taco Shell ~

An over-fried corn tortilla can be like eating broken glass. That super-crispy-crunchy state is best left for frying tortilla wedges or wisps to serve as tortilla chips with dips, or wisps to garnish various Mexican-style soups or main-dishes. No one wants to pick up a taco only to take a bite and have the taco shell shatter all over the plate. This is not a blog post I ever intended to write, but, based on the number of times I get asked how I fry my taco shells, in order to achieve the perfect crisp-yet-pliable texture, I guess I should....... View full recipe for "~ Store-Bought Corn Tortillas & the Perfect Taco Shell ~"


~ Broiled & Baked Rack of St. Lewis-Style Spareribs ~

Not everyone is a master of the barbecue grill or smoker. Newsflash. Not everyone wants to be. While I'm more than competent on a gas grill, charcoal gives me fits and the smell of smoke gives me a blinding headache. There's more. When the temperature in the great outdoors is threatening to blow the top off my thermometer, you won't find me outside torturing myself in the blazing heat just to prepare a rack of ribs. It's the AC for me baby, and, trust me when I tell you, you're gonna love the ribs I'm making in the cool oasis...... View full recipe for "~ Broiled & Baked Rack of St. Lewis-Style Spareribs ~"


~Oven-Braising a Turkey Breast without a Dutch Oven~

Let's talk turkey. Whole frozen birds and whole thawed breasts, were, for the most part, always available year round, but, at present, folks seem to be noticing them more -- especially the whole breasts. Considering the increasing scarcity, not-to-mention skyrocketing prices of beef and pork products, people are in search of relatively inexpensive alternatives that can feed an entire family. A whole turkey breast is one wise-choice item, but, based on the questions coming to me via KE recently, many first-time stay-at-home-full-time cooks find themselves overwhelmed, intimidated and confused by a product they've passed by more times than they'd like...... View full recipe for "~Oven-Braising a Turkey Breast without a Dutch Oven~"


~How and Why to Proof Pizza Dough Two Easy Ways~

Wouldn't it be great if the moment the smooth, round ball of pizza dough was kneaded we could slap it on the pan, pat it out, slather it with sauce, layer it with toppings and pop it in the oven? It sure would, but, unfortunately, we can't -- well, we can, but the end result is somewhat less than palatable. "Proofing" pizza dough, meaning, "the time it takes for the dough to rise after it has been kneaded and initially bulk-proofed", is the most important step in the pizza making process. Sadly, it's all-too-often not taken seriously -- it gets...... View full recipe for "~How and Why to Proof Pizza Dough Two Easy Ways~"


~ My Cut-to-the-Chase Pan-Seared Meatloaf Burgers ~

Eating a meatloaf sandwich the day after a meatloaf dinner is like eating a turkey sandwich the day after Thanksgiving -- the anticipation of the ritual gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I adore a good old-fashioned back-to-basics meatloaf dinner with all the trimmings (with mashed potatoes and gravy or macaroni and cheese) as much as I adore a traditional, well-appointed Turkey dinner. It's simple, straightforward, mouthwatering comfort food. That said, in my food world, the all-important sandwich I indulge in the following day is almost better. It goes without saying, everyone has a...... View full recipe for "~ My Cut-to-the-Chase Pan-Seared Meatloaf Burgers ~"


~ Let's Talk about Roasted Turkey Breast Tenderloins ~

While my family always celebrates Turkey Day with a traditional dinner, with all the pomp and circumstances leading up to the moment when the oven-roasted and well-rested turkey gets carved and served, there are many folks, both novice and experienced cooks, (single men and women, young couples, elderly couples, etc.) who neither need nor want, or, don't have the time for an entire turkey. There are other folks, for whatever the reason, simply want to eat some turkey for the sake of the day and move on. That's why I'm talking about turkey tenderloins. While we're all familiar with whole,...... View full recipe for "~ Let's Talk about Roasted Turkey Breast Tenderloins ~"


~Let's Talk about Poached Turkey Breast Tenderloins~

We're all familiar with chicken breast tenderloins. Weighing in at about 2-3 ounces each, these 4 1/2"-5" long, thin strips of chicken are the tenderest part of the chicken. I love them, and use them often, because, quite frankly, they are superior to the last-luster, "rubber chicken" boneless, skinless breast. Whole, chopped, sliced or lightly-pounded, they cook quickly. They can be poached or simmered, pan-fried, deep-fried, stir-fried, or grilled-panned to use in any recipe that requires cooked chicken -- appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, or casseroles, and, dishes like chicken curry, Parmesan, Milanese, Oscar, Piccata, etc. They're versatile. While we're all...... View full recipe for "~Let's Talk about Poached Turkey Breast Tenderloins~"


~How to Make My Crispy Crunchy Flour Tortilla Wisps~

Like corn tortillas, flour tortillas do great in the deep-fryer. They fry up really fast, in less than three minutes, and, come out super-crispy and light and airy too, meaning: they're not nearly as dense as corn tortillas. They almost melt in your mouth. Because flour tortillas are a bit too fragile to make traditionally shaped taco shells, they're traditionally deep-fried whole, in a molded fryer-basket, to make large-edible bowls for serving taco salad. That said, in my kitchen I like to make these fun little wisps, to use to garnish Tex-Mex-style soups, salads and 'burgers. Fry these fun little...... View full recipe for "~How to Make My Crispy Crunchy Flour Tortilla Wisps~"


~ Making Baked Restaurant-Style Taco Salad Bowls ~

When you're in a Mexican restaurant, if a taco salad, the kind served in an edible deep-fried flour tortilla bowl, is one of your favorite menu items, or, if you prepare taco salad at home often enough to merit wanting to serve it restaurant-style, in an edible bowl, you should know there is an alternative to deep-frying them. A small investment of about $15.00 will get you four fluted bowl molds that will enable you to bake professional looking tortilla bowls in the oven. Not a fearless fryer? Baked is the way to go. Serving taco salad in edible bowls...... View full recipe for "~ Making Baked Restaurant-Style Taco Salad Bowls ~"


~How to Deep-Fry Restaurant-Style Taco Salad Bowls~

If you prepare taco salad often enough to merit wanting to serve it restaurant-style, in the traditional deep-fried, flour tortilla bowl, I highly suggest making a small investment, $15.00-ish, in a metal, one- or two-piece fryer-basket that will not only make this task easy-as-pie, it will keep you or yours from getting burned by jury-rigged crack-pot methods -- puns intended. All kidding aside, regulating the heat on an open pot of hot oil on the stovetop, while maneuvering a tin can placed inside a larger can to form the taco bowl, is an accident waiting to happen. Serving taco salad...... View full recipe for "~How to Deep-Fry Restaurant-Style Taco Salad Bowls~"


~ About Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix & My Copycat Recipe ~

This blast-from-my-past box of versatile, dependable baking goodness allowed me, as a young girl, to hone my skills with yeast dough and bread. While I have many refined recipes for specialty breads and rolls in my repertoire (which, as a young adult I learned hands-on from my grandmother and mother), that was not always the case. There was a time in my life, as a young pre-teen, ages 9-12 give-or-take, when I expressed a serious interest in experimenting, on my own, with my own creations, to imitate the recipes of my grandmother and mother. I was a remarkably meticulous child,...... View full recipe for "~ About Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix & My Copycat Recipe ~ "


~ Making PA Deutsch-Style Square Pot-Pie Noodles ~

In PA Deutsch country, their pot pie starts as a thin, brothy beef, chicken, ham or turkey soup stock containing simply celery, onion, parsley and seasoning. Large, thickish square-cut shortening-based noodles get rolled, cut and added, or, soft doughy balls of a similar mixture get dropped, into the pot to cook in the simmering soup (the latter is often referred to as chicken and dumplings). As the noodles or dumplings cook in the soup, they thicken the broth to a sauce-like consistency. While a bit prosaic looking, this soup is indeed luscious and luxurious. When I was eighteen, Nana was...... View full recipe for "~ Making PA Deutsch-Style Square Pot-Pie Noodles ~"


~ A Simpler Straightforward No-Nonsense Beef Stock ~

The case for making homemade beef stock is easy to make. Store-bought beef stock, with the exception of one or two brands, all too often has a medicinal smell and taste. That said, store-bought stock does have a place in my pantry and plays a part in recipes that don't rely on it as one of the main components. For those "special" recipes, homemade beef stock is always on-hand in my freezer to insure I'm never in danger of compromising my end result. This time-saving recipe is my all-purpose recipe. In 5 minutes it's simmering on the stovetop and results...... View full recipe for "~ A Simpler Straightforward No-Nonsense Beef Stock ~"


~ The Difference Between Imitation Krab & King Crab ~

If you grew up eating imitation krab (as it is often spelled for differentiation purposes, you never felt you were consuming a compromising product. Culinarily, it was a one of the staples of mid-century entertaining -- right up there with fondue, Spam and molded Jell-O -- and life was good. Krab Salad and Krabby's (crab on cheesy toast) were two of my favorites. Imitation crab revealed nothing about ones standing in life either -- from the ditch digger's wife to the doctor's wife, everyone used it. Truth told, unless you grew up in or within driving distance of a crabbing...... View full recipe for "~ The Difference Between Imitation Krab & King Crab ~"


~A Bit About Mexican Cotija & Queso Fresco Cheese~

Americans love Mexican food. Americans love it so much, we'd all vote for a taco truck on every street corner. That said, when it comes to Mexican food, we Americans have quizzically wed ourselves to using cheddar or Jack cheddar cheese as toppings in or on nachos, quesadillas, refried bean dip, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, chili con carne, etc. Most of us are guilty as charged and I am no exception. Shredded cheddar is in my refrigerator at all times, and nine out of ten times, it's going on something Tex-Mex. American kids and adults alike love cheddar, every grocery store...... View full recipe for "~A Bit About Mexican Cotija & Queso Fresco Cheese~"


~ Making Lemon-Infused EVOO in the Home Kitchen ~

Let me start by saying, I purchase my lemon-infused olive oil. It's a small investment for a product that, in honesty, because of the process involved, can't be 100% duplicated in the home kitchen. Manufacturers of high-quality lemon-infused olive oil include lemon in with the olives when the oil gets cold pressed. Home cooks simply do not have that option, so, if you are one of those who is inclined to make it at home, the only alternative is what's known as the "heat-and-soak" process. Lemon-infused olive oil is one of my favorite pantry staples -- a bit of it...... View full recipe for "~ Making Lemon-Infused EVOO in the Home Kitchen ~"


~ Perfect Shallow-Poached Fresh Asparagus Spears ~

Technically known as shallow poaching and sometimes referred to as skillet poaching, this is the easiest way to cook fresh asparagus spears. As it turns out, a small amount of gently or barely simmering salted water in a wide-bottomed skillet is a great way to quickly control the heat of the water, which, in turn, makes it very easy to efficiently yield vibrant green asparagus spears of any thickness that are cooked to your liking: crunch-tender blanched to fully-cooked fork-tender. I won't lie, my recipe for ~ Amazingly-Lemony & Perfectly-Roasted Asparagus ~ is, generally speaking, my favorite way to serve...... View full recipe for "~ Perfect Shallow-Poached Fresh Asparagus Spears ~"


~Choosing, Prepping and Storing Amazing Asparagus~

In this part of the Northeast, Asparagus season starts around the beginning of May and lasts approximately to the end of June. It's one of my favorite green vegetables, but, interestingly, I prefer to purchase it rather than grow it. Why? Frankly, when we did grow our own, on days when I needed it, I couldn't rely on enough being ready for harvest and vice versa. Asparagus spears, which pup up out of the ground like little soldiers, grow on their own time, not mine. Early in the season, it can take a spear up to three days to mature....... View full recipe for "~Choosing, Prepping and Storing Amazing Asparagus~"


~Three Great Tips for Making the Perfect Pasta Salad~

My mom always made pasta salad for Memorial Day. It was classic 1960's, Wish-Bone-Style -- rotini pasta with some cubed salami, pepperoni and American cheese, sliced black olives, diced onion and tomato dressed with store-bought Italian dressing. It wasn't gourmet, it wasn't even particularly exciting to look at, but, because it was prepared correctly, it was remarkably delicious. Our Memorial Day picnic, at our reserved picnic table, at Lakewood Park in Barnesville, PA, would have been incomplete without the pasta salad. Mom's Spring green Tupperware container went in and came out of the cooler several times throughout the day while...... View full recipe for "~Three Great Tips for Making the Perfect Pasta Salad~"


~ An All-Purpose Mexican-Style Soup or Soup Base ~

My kitchen is no different than anyone elses. The cuisine we're in the mood changes from day to day -- Asian, French, Greek, Indian, Italian, Jamaican or Texican (to name a few of our favorites). For the past few days, we've been hungry for Tex-Mex, and, like all of our other favorites, having an all-purpose marinade, a seasoning blend or two, along with a sauce for dipping or drizzling, suited specifically to this South-of-the-border flavor profile, makes meal prep easy, not to mention creative and fun. Trust me, any way you cook it, every dish prepared in the home kitchen...... View full recipe for "~ An All-Purpose Mexican-Style Soup or Soup Base ~"


~ Using Natural and Dutch-Process Cocoa Powders ~

It's not a matter of what's on-hand in the pantry, what mom or grandma used, brand recognition or cost. There is a difference between natural and Dutch-process cocoa powder, and, it is rocket science. The word is "acidity". Those of the mindset the two can be used interchangeably, babbling on about it being mostly a matter of preference (I have witnessed it said many times), are contributing to recipe failure -- which is the number one reason why some folks hate to bake. The cocoa bean is a dried, fatty seed found inside a 10"-12" cocoa pod, and, each pod...... View full recipe for "~ Using Natural and Dutch-Process Cocoa Powders ~"


~ Secrets to the Italian-American Sausage Sandwich ~

Whether one is at the ballpark, a carnival, or entering a shopping mall, one can't help but notice the line in front of the vendor selling Italian sausage sandwiches. Hot-off-the-griddle, a succulent link of sweet or hot sausage on a medium-textured Italian roll, heaped with a savory mélange of griddle-sautéed peppers and onions: it's next to impossible to resist. If you've ever eaten one, you've also noticed they taste immensely better than the majority of home-grilled versions. Why is this? Read on, and "don't knock it until you've tried it", so, criticize this post with caution. The best technique for...... View full recipe for "~ Secrets to the Italian-American Sausage Sandwich ~"


~ No two ways about it: Make it right or it's not Risotto ~

Risotto is traditional Italian cooking at its best. Risotto is more of a method than a recipe, and it requires respect. There are no two ways to make risotto. Make it right or it's not risotto. Don't deviate from the method, don't take shortcuts and don't make substitutions. Risotto cannot be rushed -- it requires patience. It cannot be made in advance, it needs to be carefully watched, methodically stirred, and served immediately. Risotto is done when it is done, and only the cook knows when it is done, but, when it is done right, it's a meal fit for...... View full recipe for "~ No two ways about it: Make it right or it's not Risotto ~"


~How Much is & How Many Florets in One Cauliflower~

Mother Nature did not have OCD. If she did, there would be more symmetry in the world. It would be a pretty boring place, but, at least all our vegetables would be the same size, which brings me to this point: How much is in a head of cauliflower? The most frustrating thing about most cauliflower recipes is their lack of specificity regarding precisely how much cauliflower to purchase. Generic measurements for volume (2 cups-, 4 cups-florets) or a vague product description (1 large head, 2 medium heads), are meaningless to the average cooker-of-cauliflower, and, are the biggest causes of...... View full recipe for "~How Much is & How Many Florets in One Cauliflower~"


~ Du Pain, du Vin, du Cinq Boursin Cheese Recipes ~

Boursin cheese has been the star of KE the past ten days, and, it has enjoyed a delicious run. While some might question, or find themselves bored with, my little foray into Boursin (a most delicious form of French cheesefeed), there is always a reason behind one of my obsessions. In the case of the plethora of Boursin recipes, there are three reasons. #1. When someone asks, I always answer, and, I did -- with my recipe for Boursin mashed potatoes. #2. In our food world, food is expensive -- if I'm going to recommend purchasing a special or pricey...... View full recipe for "~ Du Pain, du Vin, du Cinq Boursin Cheese Recipes ~"


~ Nicely-Sliced: Stuffing in a Bundt Pan Stuffing Ring ~

Nicely-sliced stuffing is not new-to-me -- it's old-school brilliance. My grandmother always baked her stuffing in two loaf pans because it was an efficient use of oven space. As a savvy cook, she figured out that two, high, narrow loaf pans took up less oven space than a low, shallow casserole while yielding about the same amount. Her stuffing loaves baked on either side of the roasting turkey with miscellaneous other casseroles strategically placed on the remaining upper rack. Some fun facts about making stuffing in a bundt pan: Making Thanksgiving stuffing in a 12-cup bundt pan does not take...... View full recipe for "~ Nicely-Sliced: Stuffing in a Bundt Pan Stuffing Ring ~"


~Tips and Things to Know about Granulated Gelatine~

Gelatine. Dating back to Egyptian times, it's a substance derived from the processing of animal collagen (beef and/or pork). That's important to know, as, I'm surprised by how many home cooks are under the mistaken impression this colorless, flavorless, pure-protein is vegetarian. The word "gelatine" comes from Latin word "gelatus", which means "jellied". Before the invention of our modern day forms (granulate and, sheet or leaf), gelatine was considered a sign of wealth. It took hours of tedious work to render and clarify the collagen from cattle hides, pig skins and bones so it could be used in fancy sophisticated...... View full recipe for "~Tips and Things to Know about Granulated Gelatine~"


~A Little Thing Called Gem Lettuce: A Leafy Treasure~

Lettuce is not a subject people get excited about. That said, everyone has a preference, nonchalantly placing their favorite variety in their shopping cart as they saunter through the produce department. In our present day food world, it's understandable to take this humble, fragile and perishable vegetable for granted, but, prior to the 1920's, that was not the case. Americans relied primarily on seasonal leaf lettuces that were grown in their gardens or sold in their local markets for their salads -- salad eating in the colder regions was a seasonal pleasure. Out of season, the cook relied on rugged...... View full recipe for "~A Little Thing Called Gem Lettuce: A Leafy Treasure~"


~ The Perfect 12-13-Minute, 2"-Thick, Grill-Pan Filet ~

Feel free to take your filet mignon into the great outdoors to cook it on the grill, but, I don't recommend it. Why? The filet, cut from the tenderloin and leanest, tenderest cut of beef, is the least likely to succeed over the dry, open flame of any seething-hot charcoal or gas grill grids. That said, indoors, on a grill pan, where it has a solid, steamy surface to sear itself above its own bubbling juices, the filet graduates at the head of its class -- with perfect, 4.0 grill marks too. 4, 8-9-ounce, 2"-thick USDA Choice Angus filet-mignon steaks....... View full recipe for "~ The Perfect 12-13-Minute, 2"-Thick, Grill-Pan Filet ~"


~ Old-Fashioned Very-Strawberry-Custard Ice Cream ~

When it comes to ice-cream, store-bought or scratch-made, of the basic big-three choices, vanilla, chocolate or strawberry, strawberry is my favorite -- it always has been, even as a child. In my hometown, their's a place, Heisler's Cloverleaf Dairy, which, in my opinion makes the best strawberry ice-cream known to man- or woman-kind. Whether scooped into a bowl or onto a cone, it is always served at the perfect frozen-anything temperature. It's rich, creamy, not-too-sweet and full of bold-flavored bit's of to-the-tooth-textured strawberries -- not nasty clumps of ice. A bit about adding fresh fruit to ice-cream or frozen custard:...... View full recipe for "~ Old-Fashioned Very-Strawberry-Custard Ice Cream ~"