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12 posts from February 2019

02/28/2019

~ Chocolate, Sour Cream and Buttermilk Pound Cake ~

IMG_9251I'd never proclaim to have the best recipe for pound cake (unless I did and I do) because almost everyone claims their mother or grandmother made the best pound cake.  Truth told, in many cases, these are false claims.  I know, because I've had to test and taste a few recipes that left a lot to be desired in the (lack of) flavor and (dried out) texture departments.   That said:  My grandmother made the best buttery vanilla pound cake I ever tasted -- her recipe is so spot on perfect, no one I know who has tried hers has ever reported looking elsewhere for one.  Like all pound-cake-baking grandmas, she used the same basic ingredients as everyone (flour, sugar, butter and eggs plus vanilla extract), but then, she incorporated two tangy ingredients common to her heritage and always on-hand in any Eastern European kitchen:  sour cream and buttermilk.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb097d3e86970dA bit about pound cake ("quatre-quarts" in French, meaning "four fourths":  Originally, this fine-textured cake was baked exclusively in a loaf pan. It was made with 1-pound each of flour, sugar, butter and eggs, plus a flavoring, most commonly vanilla. That is the recipe, nothing more, nothing less -- one pound of everything.  Out of curiosity, I did try it once -- it didn't happen twice.  Let's just say, we bakers have come a long way baby!

Over the years, variations evolved, mostly adding leaveners like baking powder and baking soda to encourage rising, resulting in a less dense cake.  Vegetable oil is sometimes substituted in place of some of the butter, to produce a moister cake.  "Sour cream pound cake" and "buttermilk pound cake" recipes substitute sour cream or buttermilk in place of some of the butter to produce a moister cake with a pleasant tang too.  My savvy grandmother used a bit of both.

Now it's time to bake an old-school chocolate pound cake...

IMG_9265Beginning with my grandmothers basic pound cake recipe, it didn't take me long to come up with a chocolate version.  While it's an easy cake to bake, please use Dutch process cocoa powder -- it does matter (see not below)*.  Also, it's important to make sure that the butter is very soft and the eggs are at room temperature.  I remove the butter 2 1/2-3 hours prior to baking the cake and my eggs about an hour in advance.  The extra step of separating the eggs and whipping the whites before folding them in the batter is well worth the extra few moments it takes.  That said, before whipping those whites, be sure to wash and dry the beaters or the whites won't whip.

... w/an optional but decadent peanut-butter glaze!

IMG_9121

6 large eggs, at room temperature, separated

1  cup salted butter, at room temperature, very soft (2 sticks)

3  cups sugar 

2 1/2  cups, unbleached, all-purpose flour

3/4  cup Dutch-process cocoa powder*

1  tablespoon baking powder

1/2  teaspoon baking soda

1  teaspoon sea salt (not a typo, 1 teaspoon)

1/2  cup sour cream

3/4  cup buttermilk

1  tablespoon chocolate extract

1  tablespoon vanilla extract

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing pan

* Note:  There is a difference between natural (think Hershey's) and Dutch process (or "Dutched") cocoa powder.  All chocolate is naturally acidic.  Natural cocoa powder has a pH between 5 and 6, which gives it its sharp, slightly-bitter edge.  Dutch process cocoa powder is washed with a potassium carbonate solution, which neutralizes the pH to 7, which gives it a smoother, more-mellow taste.  Recipes calling for natural cocoa powder are typically leavened predominantly by baking soda, while recipes calling for Dutch process rely heavily on baking powder.

IMG_9137 IMG_9131 IMG_9131 IMG_9125 IMG_9125 IMG_9125~Step 1.  Separate the eggs, placing the egg whites in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.  In a second medium bowl, rough-stir the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.  In a 1-cup measuring container, stir together the sour cream, buttermilk and both extracts, until smooth.  Set aside. Spray a 15-cup bundt pan with no-stick cooking spray and preheat oven to a moderate 325°-330°.

IMG_9142 IMG_9142 IMG_9142 IMG_9142 IMG_9142 IMG_9142 IMG_9142~Step 2.  In a large bowl, place butter, sugar and egg yolks.  Beat on medium-high speed of hand-held electric mixer for three full minutes. Reduce mixer speed to medium and in a thin stream add and thoroughly incorporate the sour cream/buttermilk/extract mixture, increase speed to medium-high and beat for about another minute.  Lower mixer speed.  In 3 increments, incorporate the flour mixture, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula constantly.  Increase mixer speed to medium-high again and beat about two more minutes.  Set batter batter aside for a moment, while:

IMG_9155 IMG_9155 IMG_9155 IMG_9155 IMG_9171 IMG_9171 IMG_9171~Step 3.  Without delay, wash and thoroughly dry beaters.  On  high speed, whip the egg whites until stiff curly peaks form, about 3 minutes.  Using the spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

IMG_9180 IMG_9187 IMG_9205~Step 5.  Transfer batter by large scoopfuls to prepared pan.  Bake on center rack of preheated 325° oven 50-55 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool, in pan, 15-20 minutes.  Invert cake onto rack to cool completely, 2-3 hours.

IMG_9224For the optional peanut butter glaze:

1/2  cup creamy peanut butter 

2  cups confectioners' sugar

1  tablespoon peanut butter flavoring

1  teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk, + up to 2 more tablespoons 

1/2  cup toasted, ground peanuts

IMG_9227 IMG_9227~Step 1.  In work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, place the peanut butter, confectioners' sugar, peanut butter flavoring, vanilla extract and 1/2 cup milk.  With motor running, process until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Check consistency and process in up to 2 more tablespoons milk, in small increments, if necessary.  Drizzle over cooled cake and immediately sprinkle with lightly-toasted and finely-ground peanuts. 

Pound cake going into 325° oven to bake for 50-55 minutes:

IMG_9177Pound cake out of oven, cooling in pan for 15-20 minutes:

IMG_9194Poundcake inverted on rack to cool completely, 2-3 hours:

IMG_9209Drizzled w/peanut butter glaze & sprinkled w/toasted peanuts:

IMG_9234Time to dig in to the very first irresistible slice:

IMG_9242Chocolate, Sour Cream and Buttermilk Pound Cake:  Recipe yields 12-16-20 servings, depending on how thick or thin you slice it.

Special Equipment List:  plastic wrap; 1-cup measuring container; spoon; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; 12-cup bundt pan; wire cooling rack; cake tester

6a0120a8551282970b01bb0992d5b9970dCook's Note:  Mayonnaise is a concoction of oil (which makes cakes tender), eggs and a bit of flavor-boosting acid (like vinegar or lemon juice) -- all common-to-cake ingredients.  Most folks think this cake was invented by Hellmann's and that's a natural assumption. It was not.  The earliest recipe in print titled "Mayonnaise Cake" was published in 1927.  The Hellmann's brand didn't come along until 1937. That said, their aggressive ad campaign for "Mayonnaise Cake", sure did popularize it with World War II/depression era housewives, who were in the market for inexpensive substitutions for butter and milk. When you get right down to the common sense of it, a cake recipe containing mayonnaise is not much different than a cake recipe containing sour cream or buttermilk.  ~ A Must Have Recipe:  Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

02/25/2019

~ Secrets to the Italian-American Sausage Sandwich ~

IMG_9063Whether 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 charcoal- or gas- grilling "Italian sausage" -- The moist-heat-first, dry-heat-second technique.

IMG_9086I've never been a fan of charcoal- or gas-grilled sausage (links or coils), because most people don't know how not to dry it out, starting with: don't poke holes in the casing.  Folks don't realize, and mostly refuse to be enlightened, that the key to perfectly-grilled sausage is to start it in a moist mélange of sautéing vegetables to slow-cook it, to marry the flavors of the sausage with the veggies and vice versa, then, finish-off the gently-cooked, juicy-on-the-inside sausage on the grill grids, just enough to crisp it up -- over medium- (not high) heat, so the casing doesn't split. This kinder, gentler moist-heat-first, dry-heat-second technique produces perfectly-grilled sausage links or coils.  Learning it rocked my sausage-grilling world, and enabled me to come up with my indoor method for perfectly-cooked, succulent Italian-American sausage sandwiches.

"You want a sassidge sangwitch? I'll give you a sassidge sangwitch." ~ Tony Soprano

"Backyard grilling was uncommon until the 1950's American middle-class began to boom and move to the grass-lawned suburbs.  Long before that, sausage sandwiches had become a popular street food sold in the cities by vendors with steam-heated pushcarts, while apartment dwellers living high above the busy streets cooked almost everything in a skillet, including their sausage sandwiches.  I blame 1950's America for the ill-conceived sausage sandwich." ~ Melanie

In Italy, "sausage" does not refer to "Italian Sausage".

IMG_8961"Italian sausage" is a term Americans coined.  In Italy, there is no product resembling the USA's product referred to as "Italian sausage".  In Italy, there are many salsiccia and salame (each region has its specialties), but the word implies cured meats like cotechino, soppressata, Genoa salami and mortadella.  FYI:  What we Americans call bologna is not found in Bologna -- the local sausage in the town of Bologna is mortadella.

"Italian Sausage" is a term coined in America. 

IMG_8967Called "sosizza" on the streets, in restaurants, and in Italian-American kitchens, in the USA, it refers to ground pork sausage in natural casings, containing about 20%-25% fat with a fennel and garlic flavor. It's mainly sold raw (but can be found cured or smoked) in 5"-6" links, coiled ropes or in loose burger-meat-type form.  It comes in three flavors (sweet, mild and hot) with seasonings varying-slightly from butcher shop to butcher shop.

WARNING:  Sausage in this recipe refers exclusively to:  pork sausage.  Sausage containing chicken, turkey, vegetarian soy or byproducts therein are not considered or acknowledged to be "real" sausage in Melanie's Kitchen. Comments or questions regarding the substitution of these (or any other) sausage impostors will not be replied to.

************

IMG_9077Fantastic "Italian sausage" can also be, & is, cooked indoors.

IMG_9018We can all agree a sausage link or coil needs ample time to cook through, 25-30 minutes.  Many will disagree, but, the dry heat of a barbecue grill over 25-30 minutes, is NEVER going to produce a succulent sausage with a golden-brown casing and the "snap and squirt" of the first bite.  It'll be good, just not great -- unless that's the only way you've ever experienced it. The best sausage is cooked indoors, and an electric skillet is an excellent substitution for the moister heat of the flat-topped griddle.

The following method for gently steaming the sausage through, then crisping the casing produces moist, juicy sausage, plus provides a pan of flavorful drippings for the vegetable sauté too.  

IMG_8971For the sausages:

10-12  5"-6" high-quality sausage-sandwich-sized links (sweet-, mild, or hot-, or a combination), about 2 total pounds sausage (a 2 pound coil of sausage may be substituted  without compromise)

about 1 1/4 cups water, enough to fill the skillet with 1/4" water

6  tablespoons olive oil

4  tablespoons salted butter

IMG_8974 IMG_8974 IMG_8974 IMG_8974~Step 1.  Place a little over 1/4" of water in a 16" electric skillet -- do not be inclined to substitute wine, beer or stock as they will muddle-up the flavorful drippings.  Add the sausage, sweet or hot (links or an entire coil).  Bring to a boil over high heat (400º).  Adjust heat to a steady but gentle simmer (325º) and continue to cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until almost all of the liquid has evaporated from pan.  Using a pair of tongs, NOT a fork (do NOT poke holes in the casings), turn the sausage over onto second side about halfway through the simmering process.

IMG_8995 IMG_8995 IMG_8995 IMG_8995 IMG_8995 IMG_8995~Step 2.  Turn the heat off.  Add the olive oil and butter to the skillet.  Adjust heat to medium (300º). Gently sauté the sausage, regulating the heat carefully (up or down), so as to brown not burn, until the sausage is golden brown on both sides, turning only once, 4-6 minutes per side.  Turn the heat off.  Once again, using tongs, NOT a fork, transfer the sausage to a plate or a platter.  Cover sausage with aluminum foil and set aside.

IMG_9021For the spices and vegetable sauté:

1  tablespoon fennel seed

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1  teaspoon red pepper flakes 

2-3  teaspoons sea salt, to taste

2  pounds thinly-sliced onion

1  pound each: thinly-sliced green and red bell pepper strips

1  14 1/2-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, well-drained 

IMG_9027 IMG_9027 IMG_9027 IMG_9027 IMG_9027 IMG_9027 IMG_9027 IMG_9027 IMG_9027~Step 1. Measure spices and prep vegetables, adding them to the flavorful drippings in the skillet as you work.  Adjust heat to gently sauté (250º).  Using a large slotted spoon or a spatula, keep the vegetables moving in the skillet, until vegetables are softened and just cooked through, yet still colorful and crunch tender, 6-8 minutes.  Do not overcook the vegetables.  Taste for salt and add 1 teaspoon if desired.  Stir in the well-drained diced tomatoes and cook until steaming, about 1 minute.   Adjust heat to "warm" setting.

IMG_9051 IMG_9051 IMG_9051~Step 2.  Return the still-warm sausage to skillet, cover the skillet and set aside 5-10 minutes -- just enough to reheat sausages.  To serve, slice your favorite steak-type rolls. Generously spoon some warm vegetable mixture into bottom of each roll.  Add a sausage and top with another scoop of vegetables.

Try it or don't, but, kindly don't knock it, unless you do:

IMG_9098Secrets to the Italian-American Sausage Sandwich:  Recipe as written above yields 10-12 Italian sausage, pepper & onion sandwiches.

Special Equipment List:  16" electric skillet; tongs; aluminum foil; cutting board; chef's knife; large slotted spoon or spatula; serrated bread knife

6a0120a8551282970b014e8c358dbd970dCook's Note:  Sausage making is one of the oldest forms of prepared food and was the product of efficient butchery -- tissues, organs, various meat scraps and fat were salted and stuffed into cleaned animal intestines, then preserved by cooking, curing or drying.  No one is, or can be, directly credited for inventing the process, but, it is known to have existed thousands of years before the Romans.  The word "sausage" was first used in English in the mid-15th century and spelled "sawsyge".  This word came from the Old North French word "saussiche", which came from the Latin "salsicus", meaning "seasoned with salt", with "salsus" meaning "salted".  The most popular sausage in the U.S. is:  the hot dog.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

02/22/2019

~ Just Say Yes to Canned Peaches to Make Clafoutis ~

IMG_8938What a wonderful way to make a Summer fruit dessert in the middle of Winter.  It's no secret that, without exception, I'll always choose to make a fruit dessert over any dessert -- and that causes me problems when lot of my favorite stone fruits and berries are out of season.  I'm always hesitant to substitute canned fruit in a recipe that calls for fresh (everyone should be), but, yesterday, on a whim, I decided to give the two 29-ounce cans of sliced peaches in my pantry a try in my clafoutis recipe.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained and I gained big time.  It is wonderful.

Home- or store-bought- canned peaches make great clafoutis.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09671996970dA bit about clafoutis (kla-foo-tee): Hailing from the Limousin region in Central Southern France, this country-style dessert is made with unpitted black cherries -- which lend a slight almond flavor to the dessert. The name is derived from the verb "clafir", which means "to fill" (the thick, flan-like batter with cherries). Purists will tell you that if made with anything other than black cherries, the name of the dessert changes to "flaugnarde" (which, to me, sounds like a derogatory term for a clafoutis that got thrown under the bus).

After baking, clafoutis is usually served warm with a dusting of Confectioners' sugar or a dollop of freshly-whipped cream. Depending who's making it, where and what recipe, a clafoutis can have a cake-like texture, but French farm-kitchen versions, which are the most luxurious, are typically pudding-like.  In either case, it's an impressive dessert that can be successfully made by novice cooks.  Once you make one once, you'll make it again and again.

Clafoutis:  It's smooth & creamy & not-too-sweet...

IMG_8944... & it's even easier to make than a cobbler, crisp or crumble.

IMG_88791 1/2-1 3/4  pounds well-drained, canned peaches (from 2, 29-ounce cans store-bought peaches) 

3  large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/4  cups heavy or whipping cream, at room temperature

1/2  cup sugar

1  tablespoon pure peach extract (Note:  I purchase peach extract on-line from www.OliveNation.com.  If you are not inclined to do that, substitute an equal amount of peach brandy.)

1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2  teaspoon pure almond extract (almond extract is common to all clafoutis recipes)

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour (10 tablespoons)

1/8  teaspoon sea salt

2  tablespoons salted butter, melted and cooled

Confectioners' sugar and/or freshly whipped cream, for garnish and topping

IMG_8885 IMG_8885 IMG_8885~ Step 1.  Drain peaches as thoroughly as possible. My way is:  after removing the bulk of liquid, place them on a plate that has been lined with paper towels.  If using peach halves, cut them into chunks, if using peach slices, slice the slices in half (I cut the slices with a pair of kitchen shears).  Place the peaches in the bottom of an 11" x 7", 1 1/2-quart casserole, NOT a 13" x 9" x 2", 3-quart casserole.  Set aside.

IMG_8330 IMG_8330 IMG_8330 IMG_8330~Step 2.  Melt butter and set aside to cool slightly.  In a 1-quart measuring container, place eggs, cream, sugar, extracts, flour and salt.  Using a hand-held rotary mixer, whisk the mixture until smooth, about 1 minute.  Drizzle in the butter and whisk again, until butter is incorporated.

IMG_8893 IMG_8893 IMG_8893~ Step 3.  Slowly drizzle the batter over the peaches, allowing the batter time to seep down through all the cracks and crevices.  Bake on center rack of 325º oven 40-45 minutes, or until puffed up to center, lightly-browned and set.  Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool, 45-60 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temp with a dusting of Confectioners' sugar or a dollop of whipped cream.

Read the recipe, place peaches in an 11" x 7", 1 1/2-quart casserole, NOT a 13" x 9", 3-quart casserole:

IMG_8892Slowly drizzle the batter methodically over the peaches:

IMG_8902Bake in 325º oven 40-45 minutes & cool on wire rack 40-45 minutes:

IMG_8911Slice & serve warm or at room temperature: 

IMG_8953Just Say Yes to Canned Peaches to Make Clafoutis:  Recipe yields 12-14-16 servings.

Special Equipment List: paper towels; kitchen scale; kitchen sheers; 1-cup measuring container; 1-quart measuring container; hand-held rotary mixer, or, hand-held electric mixer; 1 1/2-quart casserole, NOT, a 3-quart casserole, preferably ceramic; wire cooling rack

IMG_8373Cook's Note: I'm continually astonished by how many cooks have no idea what clafoutis is, or, assume from its name that it's hard to make.  If I were to write The Big Book of No-Brainer Desserts, clafoutis would be on the cover.  For another luscious clafoutis recipe, try my~ Effortlessly-Regal No-Brainer Blackberry Clafoutis ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

02/19/2019

~ Creamy & Chunky Chicken & Mushroom Chowder ~

IMG_8848Whether it be a quick-to-make brothy soup or a long-simmered thick stew, a steamy-hot cup or a whole damned bowl of either is my idea of the ideal take-a-break and sit-down-to-eat meal. Add a handful of cooked noodles or rice and I'm as happy as a clam.  Speaking of clams brings chunky chowder to mind, and, every time I make chowder, I ask the same question, "why don't I make this more often?"  I love everything about it, right down to the little crackers that get crumbled in.

6a0120a8551282970b019aff34d937970cChowder is a rich soup chocked full of chunky-chopped protein and vegetables. It's mostly associated with fish or seafood because it gets its name from the French word "chaudiere", which refers to the cauldron fishermen made their fresh stews in over open fires on the boat docks (with clam chowder being the most popular and most famous).  That said, chowder can be made with any meat or poultry too. Here in America, chowders are made two ways: New England-style, with cream and/or milk in the broth, and, Manhattan-style, with tomatoes added to the broth.  In the case of a well-made New England-style chowder, the broth should be rich, silky and slurpy -- not overly-thickened glop tasting of bland flour.

Once you drive South of New England, through the metropolitan areas of Boston or New York and Manhattan proper, and arrive here in the rural Northeast, you're more likely to find corn or chicken chowders on the menus of our eateries.  It's only natural.  The farther inland you go, access to fresh fish or seafood dwindles as the price skyrockets.  That said, our farms consist of vast fields of sweet corn, and, if they don't raise dairy cows, they own a poultry farm.  It's farm country.

IMG_87626  tablespoons olive oil (Note:  Chowder is traditionally started by frying bacon in the bottom of the pot.  The crisp bacon is removed, chopped, and returned to the soup near the end of the process and/or used as garnish.  The bacon drippings that remain are used to sauté the protein and/or vegetables.  Feel free to skip the olive oil and use bacon drippings.  That said, in this particular recipe, I do not.  For my taste, bacon overpowers its luscious flavor.)

2 pounds uncooked, trimmed of any fat, 1/2" diced boneless, skinless chicken thighs (chicken tenderloins may be substituted)

16-18  ounces medium-diced yellow or sweet onion (about 3 cups)

12-14  ounce peeled and 1/4"-thick sliced carrots (about 3 cups)

8-10  ounces diced celery (about 2 cups)

1 1/2  pounds thinly-sliced crimini or white button mushroom caps, no stems, or a combination of both

4-8  large garlic cloves, run through a press, about 3-4 tablespoons pressed garlic

6  tablespoons salted butter

6  tablespoons Wondra quick-mixing flour for sauce and gravy

4  cups chicken stock

2  cups cream + up to 1 cup whole milk (to achieve desired consistency)

2  tablespoons dried herbes de Provence (a mixture of rosemary, marjoram, thyme and savory)

2 1/2-3  pounds gold potatoes, peeled and 3/4" diced (about 5-6 cups)

freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend, added as directed throughout recipe

minced, fresh parsley, for garnish

mini-saltine crackers, for accompaniment

IMG_8765 IMG_8765 IMG_8765 IMG_8765~Step 1.  In a 14", 8-quart chef's pan (or an 8-quart Dutch oven), place the olive oil. Add the diced chicken, onion, carrots and celery.  Season with sea salt and peppercorn blend (about 40 grinds salt and 50 grinds pepper). Adjust heat to medium-high and sauté, stirring almost constantly, until the chicken is just short of being cooked and the vegetables are softening, 8-10 minutes.

IMG_8776 IMG_8776 IMG_8776 IMG_8776 IMG_8776 IMG_8776 IMG_8776 IMG_8776~Step 2.  Sprinkle the garlic over the chicken and add the mushrooms to the pan.  Briefly stir to combine.  Season again with sea salt and peppercorn blend (about 40 grinds salt and 50 grinds pepper).  Continue to sauté over medium-high heat until the mushrooms have lost their volume and moisture and almost no liquid remains in bottom of pan, 25-30 additional minutes.

IMG_8795 IMG_8795 IMG_8795 IMG_8795~Step 3.  Adjust heat to medium-low.  Add butter to pan, followed by the flour and herbes de Provence.  Stir constantly until ingredients are thoroughly combined and mixture is thickened and steaming, about 1 minute.  Turn heat off just long enough to peel and dice potatoes as directed.

IMG_8804 IMG_8804 IMG_8804 IMG_8804 IMG_8804 IMG_8804 IMG_8804 IMG_8840~Step 4.  Add the chicken stock to pan, followed by the cream.  Thoroughly stir.  Add potatoes and adjust heat to medium- medium-high.  Bring to a gentle, steady simmer.  Continue to simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, stirring frequently, until potatoes are cooked through to their centers, 25-30 minutes.  After potatoes are cooked, if desired, stir in some additional milk, to adjust consistency and simmer 1-2 more minutes.  Cover pan and allow the mixture to steep, on the still warm stovetop, for 30-60 minutes, to give flavors time to marry.

Note:  Leftover chowder will thicken in the refrigerator.  Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stovetop, and, plan on needing to add additional milk to adjust consistency.

Five Quarts Creamy & Chunky Chicken & Mushroom Chowder:

IMG_8847Serve steaming hot garnished w/parsley & mini-saltines:

IMG_8874Creamy & Chunky Chicken & Mushroom Chowder:  Recipe yields 5 quarts.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; vegetable peeler; garlic press; kitchen scale (optional but recommended) 14", 8-quart chef's pan w/straight-deep sides & lid, or, 8-quart Dutch oven w/lid; large slotted spoon and/or spatula; soup ladle

IMG_8714Cook's Note:  I'm not gonna lie, I came up with this chowder recipe (today), because I had a package of boneless chicken thighs and a goodly amount of mushrooms leftover from my ~ Perfectly-Prepared Chicken and Mushroom Risotto ~ (which I made and posted over the Valentine's Day weekend). With a snowstorm happening in Happy Valley today, this chowder is going to be a warm and hearty, "winner, winner Wintertime dinner!"

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

02/17/2019

~ Perfectly-Prepared Chicken and Mushroom Risotto ~

IMG_8708Risotto 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 a kind or a queen.

The word "risotto" is related to the Italian word "riso", or "rice".  Rice came to Northern Italy first, via Middle Easterners, and risotto, said to be the oldest and most common way of preparing rice, is Italy's contribution to rice cookery.  Typically served as a first- or appetizer-course, and primarily prepared in Northern Italy, Central and Southern Italy have claim to their own traditional recipes, using ingredients readily-available to their climate and landscape as well.  Without creating more controversy than is already "out there", it is this cook's opinion that it is not possible to cut a few corners and still come up with anything more than a presentable dish -- cheating breaks the spell.

IMG_8714There are no two ways to make risotto.  Make it right or it's not risotto.

IMG_8491Risotto is typically made in a heavy pot with round, sloping sides, which promote evaporation -- similar in shape to a saucier, the one in the photo is enameled cast-iron with a four-quart capacity. Risotto is traditionally stirred with a wooden spoon with a hole in the center, which allows the rice grains to flow freely during the constant stirring process.  Risotto requires a special, Italian-grown short-medium-grained, plump and polished rice with a high-starch content.  Arborio (are-bore-ee-oh) is the most readily available, with other choices being carnaroli (car-no-row-lee) and vialone nano (vee-a-low-na-no).  Because starch is the key, never rinse the rice before cooking.

IMG_8494While risotto can technically be made with rice and water, the dish will be tasteless, so, before making risotto, one must decide what kind to make (meat-, seafood-, poultry- or vegetable-based), and that requires a corresponding fully-seasoned and preferably homemade stock (meat, seafood, poultry or vegetable).  The general rule is: six cups stock to one pound risotto rice and the stock must be kept steaming hot (not simmering or boiling) throughout the cooking process to enable the rice to release its starch, which is what makes risotto creamy.  If the stock is boiling (too hot), the rice can be mushy.  If the stock it not steaming (too cold), the rice can seize and be gummy.

IMG_8535Once the stock has been prepared, what I refer to as "the add-ins", the smaller-than-bite-sized bits and morsels of food that typically get stirred into risotto at the end of the cooking process, must be cooked in some manner.  The add-ins, the meat, seafood, poultry or vegetables, while it's acceptable if they consist of small pieces or chards of proteins or vegetable from the stock, I much prefer to start with a raw protein and usually one fresh vegetable too.  I lightly-season them, then sauté them with a few fresh-pressed garlic cloves in a bit of olive oil.  A moist, succulent, nicely-seasoned protein in conjunction with a seasonal vegetable is add-in perfection.

IMG_8627When properly prepared, risotto has a rich, creamy texture, with every grain of rice being plain to see and having a hint of a bite -- rather than soft through to the center or mushy. Risotto begins by sautéing finely-diced onions in some olive oil in the bottom of the risotto pot (sometimes garlic is added too, although I prefer to add the garlic to my add-ins), until the onions are translucent and very, very, soft -- so the onions disappear into the finished dish. Next, the rice gets stirred in and cooked until every grain is coated in oil and ever-so-slightly toasted.  At that instant, a splash of white wine  goes in and the mixture is stirred until it has evaporated.

IMG_8689 2Next, the broth is added, in small increments, in a well-orchestrated manner, while the cook constantly and methodically stirs -- the rice is kept moving at all times.  As the rice absorbs  broth, more broth is added, and so on, until rice is cooked to the perfectly, slightly-chewy "to the tooth" texture (or, to slightly less than "to the tooth", at which time the add-ins get stirred in, which creates a heartier dish -- after that, more broth is added, until the rice reaches perfection).  During the last seconds, the dish is finished by stirring in pieces of cold butter and finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (which adds to the luxurious consistency and provides glistening eye appeal).

Click here to watch my KE on WHVL-TV video:  Perfectly-Cooked Risotto.

************

General rules of thumb for 12 cups risotto/12-16 starter-, or 6-8 main-dish servings:

Heat 6 cups stock to steaming for every 1-pound risotto rice being cooked.

Be sure to finely-dice the 1 1/2 cups onion & use 1/4 cup wine to deglaze pot. 

Plan on adding a minimum of 5 cups stock & needing up to 6 cups.

Approximately 3-3 1/2 cups of sautéed add-ins is ideal.

Finish w/4 tablespoons cubed butter & 6-8 tablespoons finely-grated Parmesan.

************

IMG_8726For the stock:

6 cups fully-seasoned steaming-hot chicken stock, your favorite recipe or mine

Note:  Be sure to taste and season whatever chicken stock or chicken stock recipe you are using prior to adding it to the rice.  Stock is "liquid gold" (the primary flavoring) to risotto:  the finished dish is only going to taste as good as the stock that got added to it tastes.  Risotto cannot be seasoned after-the-fact -- that's a fact.  If the stock is lacking salt or any other seasoning, the risotto will taste like any unseasoned rice would taste -- bland and boring.

************

IMG_8498For the chicken and mushroom add-ins to the risotto:

1-1 1/4 pound uncooked, trimmed of any fat, 1/2" diced boneless, skinless chicken thighs (chicken tenderloins may be substituted)

8  ounces thinly-sliced crimini or white button mushroom caps, no stems, or a combination of both

4-6  large garlic cloves, run through a press, about 2 tablespoons pressed garlic

freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend

4  tablespoons olive oil

IMG_8499 IMG_8499 IMG_8499 IMG_8499~Step 1.  In a 3 1/2-quart chef's pan, place the olive oil. Add the diced chicken and lightly-season with sea salt and peppercorn blend (about 15 grinds salt and 25 grinds pepper). Adjust heat to medium-high and sauté until the chicken is just short of being cooked, through, 3-4 minutes.

IMG_8510 IMG_8510 IMG_8510 IMG_8510 IMG_8510 IMG_8510 IMG_8510 IMG_8510 IMG_8510~Step 2.  Sprinkle the garlic over the chicken and add the mushrooms to the pan.  Briefly stir to combine.  Lightly season with sea salt and peppercorn blend (about 10 grinds salt and 15 grinds pepper). Continue to sauté over medium-high heat until the mushrooms have lost all of their moisture and almost no liquid remains in bottom of pan, 4-6 minutes. Consistency is more important than the time it takes.  Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

************

IMG_8538For the risotto:

4  tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2  cups finely-diced onion

1  pound arborio, carnaroli, or, vialone nano rice

1/4  cup sweet white wine

4  tablespoons salted butter

6-8  tablespoons finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

6  cups chicken stock

3-3 1/2 cups chicken and mushroom "add-in" mixture (from above recipe)

IMG_8541 IMG_8546 IMG_8546 IMG_8546 IMG_8546 IMG_8546~Step 1.  Heat the olive oil in the risotto pot over medium heat.  Stir in the onion.  Cook, over medium- medium-high, stirring almost constantly with a large wooden spoon (Italians insist it be wooden), until onion is soft, tender, translucent and just beginning to brown, 8-10 minutes.  During this process, regulate the heat carefully, up or down, in order to keep the onions sautéing gently.  Stir constantly and do not try to rush it.

IMG_8564 IMG_8564 IMG_8564 IMG_8564 IMG_8564~Step 2.  Stir in the Arborio rice and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the grains are coated with oil and the edges are ever-so-slightly toasted, about 2-3 minutes.  Add and stir in the wine and cook until the liquid has all evaporated, 20-30 seconds, stirring constantly.  This step goes very quickly.  Be prepared to start adding stock almost immediately.

IMG_8580 IMG_8580 IMG_8580 IMG_8580 IMG_8580 IMG_8580 IMG_8580 IMG_8580 IMG_8580~Step 3.  Ladle enough hot stock into pot to cover  rice, about 1 1/2 cups. On this first addition of stock, make certain the rice is fully covered. Adjust heat to a gentle, steady simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until all of the stock gets absorbed and you can see the bottom of the pot, about 3-4 minutes.  Once again, time is not as important as the end result.

IMG_8608 IMG_8608 IMG_8608 IMG_8608 IMG_8608 IMG_8608 IMG_8608 IMG_8620 IMG_8620 IMG_8620 IMG_8620 IMG_8628 IMG_8628 IMG_8628 IMG_8628 IMG_8628 IMG_8628 IMG_8642 IMG_8642 IMG_8642 IMG_8642 IMG_8642~Step 4.  Continue the process of adding stock, about 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly after each addition, until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid, about 3-4 minutes, three more times, for a total of 9-12 total minutes.  To this point in the risotto making process, a total of 4 1/2-5 cups of stock will have been added to the rice.

IMG_8654 IMG_8654 IMG_8654 IMG_8654 IMG_8654 IMG_8662 IMG_8662 IMG_8662 IMG_8662~Step 5.  Stir in the chicken mixture and get out a tasting spoon.  Adjust heat to a gentle, steady simmer and add additional stock in 1/4 cup increments, stirring 1-2 minutes after each addition, until rice is al dente or "to the tooth" and cooked to your liking.  I added, 3/4 cup of stock, in three 1/4 cup additions, tasting after each one, to get to desired doneness.

Note:  Experts all explain that risotto will not cook the same, or in the same amount of time every time, which is why risotto is more about understanding the method than having a recipe.  At the very end, the rice should be to your liking -- some like it crunch tender, others prefer it very soft.

IMG_8675 IMG_8675 IMG_8675 IMG_8675 IMG_8675 IMG_8675 IMG_8675 IMG_8675~Step 6.  Stir in the butter and grated cheese.  When the butter is melted and thoroughly incorporated, remove the pan from the heat, cover it, then, let it sit for 2-3 minutes.

Ladle into shallow bowls & garnish with freshly-ground sea salt, peppercorn blend & Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

IMG_8724Perfectly-Prepared Chicken and Mushroom Risotto:  Recipe yields 12 cups/12-16 starter- or 6-8 main-dish servings. 

Special Equipment List:  2-quart saucepan; cutting board; chef's knife; garlic press; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight deep sides & lid; spatula; kitchen scale; 4-quart risotto pot/saucier w/lid; wooden risotto spoon or wooden spoon; 1 cup-sized ladle; 1/4 cup-sized ladle; tasting spoon 

IMG_8699Cook's Note:  I'm pretty sure I covered all the pertinent facts is this particular risotto post.  That said, should you be inclined, for an expanded, even more verbose explanation, I share everything I know about risotto, including my KE/WHVL-TV episode in my post ~ No two ways about it: Make it right or it's not Risotto ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

02/15/2019

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

IMG_8705Risotto 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 a kind or a queen.

Risotto is Italy's contribution to rice cookery.

IMG_8699The word "risotto" is related to the Italian word "riso", or "rice".  Rice came to Northern Italy first, via Middle Easterners, and risotto, said to be the oldest and most common way of preparing rice, is Italy's contribution to rice cookery.  Typically served as a first- or appetizer-course, and primarily prepared in Northern Italy, Central and Southern Italy have claim to their own traditional recipes, using ingredients readily-available to their climate and landscape as well.  Without creating more controversy than is already "out there", it is this cook's opinion that it is not possible to cut a few corners and still come up with anything more than a presentable dish -- cheating breaks the spell.

The pot, the spoon & the rice.

IMG_8491Risotto is typically made in a heavy pot with round, sloping sides, which promote evaporation -- similar in shape to a saucier, the one in the photo is enameled cast-iron with a four-quart capacity. Risotto is traditionally stirred with a wooden spoon with a hole in the center, which allows the rice grains to flow freely during the constant stirring process.  Risotto requires a special, Italian-grown short-medium- grained, plump and polished rice with a high-starch content.  Arborio (are-bore-ee-oh) is the most readily available, with other choices being carnaroli (car-no-row-lee) and vialone nano (vee-a-low-na-no).  Because starch is the key to risotto, never rinse the rice before cooking.

The stock -- meat, seafood, poultry or vegetable.

IMG_8494While risotto can technically be made with rice and water, the dish will be tasteless, so, before making risotto, one must decide what kind to make (meat-, seafood-, poultry- or vegetable-based), and that requires a corresponding fully-seasoned and preferably homemade stock (meat, seafood, poultry or vegetable).  The general rule is: six cups stock to one pound risotto rice and the stock must be kept steaming hot (not simmering or boiling) throughout the cooking process to enable the rice to release its starch, which is what makes risotto creamy.  If the stock is boiling (too hot), the rice will be mushy.  If the stock it not steaming (too cold), the rice will be gummy.

(Here are my recipes for:  beef, veal, shrimp, chicken and vegetable stock.  Once or twice a year, I make a big pot of each one, portion it into 2-quart sized, glass containers and freeze it. Having stock on-hand at all times makes homemade soup or risotto fast-food in my kitchen.)

The add-ins -- cooked morsels of food that go in at the end.

IMG_8535Once the stock has been prepared, what I refer to as "the add-ins", the smaller-than-bite-sized bits and morsels of food that typically get stirred into risotto at the end of the cooking process, must be cooked in some manner.  The add-ins, the meat, seafood, poultry or vegetables, while it's acceptable if they consist of small pieces or chards of proteins or vegetable from the stock, I much prefer to start with a raw protein and usually one fresh vegetable too.  I lightly-season them, then sauté them with a few fresh-pressed garlic cloves in a bit of olive oil.  A moist, succulent, nicely-seasoned protein in conjunction with a seasonal vegetable of choice is add-in perfection.

(Seasonally, I have a favorite combo of add-ins to risotto, and, I prepare them all via the same method.  Spring:  veal with asparagus tips.  Summer:  shrimp or lobster with sweet corn kernels. Fall:  chicken with mushrooms and/or peas.  Winter:  beef with mushrooms and/or carrots.)

The process -- risotto is time-consuming & complicated.

IMG_8627Yes and no.  Yes, risotto is time-consuming -- and you can't leave the stovetop, so, have your mise-en-place and pour a glass of wine or mix a cocktail before you start.  No, it is not complicated -- after you've made it a time or two and get "a feel" for it, you'll see and you'll agree.

When properly prepared, risotto has a rich, creamy texture, with every grain of rice being plain to see and having a hint of a bite -- rather than soft through to the center or mushy.  Risotto begins by sautéing finely-diced onions in some olive oil in the bottom of the risotto pot (sometimes garlic is added too, although I prefer to add the garlic to my add-ins), until the onions a translucent and very, very, soft -- so the onions disappear into the finished dish.  Once the onions are sautéed, the rice gets stirred in and cooked until every grain is coated in oil and ever-so-slightly toasted.  At that instant, a splash of white wine goes in and the mixture is stirred until it has evaporated.

Next, the broth is added, in small increments, in a well-orchestrated manner, while the cook constantly and methodically stirs the mixture -- the rice is kept moving at all times.  As the rice absorbs the broth in concert with some of the broth evaporating, more broth is added, and so on, until the rice is cooked to the perfectly, slightly-chewy "to the tooth" texture, or, to slightly less than the perfectly, slightly-chewy "to the tooth" texture, at which time the add-ins get stirred in, which creates a heartier dish -- after that, more broth is added, in smaller increments, until the rice reaches ideal doneness.  During the last seconds, the dish is finished off by stirring in a few pieces of cold butter some finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (which adds to the luxurious, creamy consistency and also provides glistening eye appeal).     

Throughout the process the heat is carefully regulated, up or down, in a saucepan to keep the stock steaming, and, in the risotto pot, to initially keep the pot hot enough to sauté the onions, then to keep the rice mixture hot enough to bubble and simmer, but not so hot as to scorch.

Click here to watch my KE on WHVL-TV:  Perfectly-Cooked Risotto.

IMG_8689For the risotto & the finishing touches:

IMG_8538General rules of thumb for preparing 12 cups risotto:

Heat 6 cups stock to steaming for every 1-pound risotto rice being cooked.

Be sure to finely-dice the 1 1/2 cups onion & use 1/4 cup white wine to deglaze pot. 

Plan on adding a minimum of 5 cups stock & needing up to 6 cups.

Approximately 3-3 1/2 cups of sautéed add-ins is ideal.

Finish w/4 tablespoons cubed butter & 6-8 tablespoons finely-grated Parmesan.

My Perfectly-Prepared Chicken & Mushroom Risotto recipe:

IMG_8697"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

02/13/2019

~ Milk-Chocolate-Lovers Nestlé-Crunch-Bar Cookies ~

IMG_8730The Nestlé Crunch Bar -- creamy milk chocolate chocked full of crunchy-crisped rice.  As one who has always preferred milk to dark chocolate, it, along with the Reese's peanut butter cup (milk chocolate and peanut butter) is at the top of my "favorite candy bars of my youth list".  As with several other favorites, for an adult activity, I prefer to chop up said candy bars and bake cookies with their bits and pieces -- I prefer a cookie to a candy bar and I adore a candy bar in a cookie.    

IMG_8417"Candy-bar cookies" and sweet treats made with my favorite candy bars are some of my favorite cookies to bake -- and what's not to love about a cookie that evokes childhood memories. Amongst all my other cookie recipes, it seems it's the candy-bar cookie recipes that get made the most often, and, get eaten almost as fast as I can fill the cookie jar -- a couple here, a couple there, and in a day or two, poof, they've disappeared.  Try my: Whoppers Milk-Chocolate Malted-Milk-Ball Cookies, Chewy Coconut & Crispy White-Kit-Kat Cookies, Over-the-Top Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies, and, Chocolate & Peanut-Butter-Snickers Cookie Squares.  Today I'm adding my Nestlé Crunch Bar Cookies to KE. Long story short, it is an amped-up spin-off of  The Original Nestlé's Toll House Cookie recipe.

IMG_8456Milk chocolate + crisped rice = simply irresistible cookies: 

IMG_84292 1/4 + 2 tablespoons  cups all-purpose flour

1  teaspoon each:  baking powder and baking soda

1  teaspoon salt

1  cup salted butter, at room temperature, very soft (2 sticks)

3/4  cup granulated sugar

3/4  cup firmly-packed dark brown sugar

2  teaspoons pure chocolate extract

2  teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2  large eggs

18  ounces Nestlé Crunch Bars, chopped into morsel-sized 1/4" pieces

IMG_9622 IMG_9622 IMG_9622 IMG_9622 IMG_9622~Step 1.  In a small mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.  In a large bowl, place butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract.  On high-speed of hand-held mixer, beat until creamy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in eggs, about 1 minute.  Lower mixer speed and gradually beat in the flour until a smooth, sticky dough forms.

IMG_8432 IMG_8432 IMG_8432 IMG_8432 IMG_8432 IMG_8432~Step 2.  Using a large rubber spatula, add and fold in the chocolate pieces.  Using a 1 1/2" ice-cream scoop as a measure, drop cookies, well apart, by rounded tablespoonfuls onto each of 4, parchment-lined, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans.

IMG_8454 IMG_8457~Step 3.  Bake, one-pan-at-a-time on center rack of 325º oven 13-15 minutes, until light-golden.  If you like cookies a bit chewy, do not bake until golden.  Remove from oven and use a small spatula to transfer to wire cooling rack to cool.

What could be better than eating your favorite candy bar?  

IMG_8463Eating a cookie made from a favorite candy bar.

IMG_8475Milk-Chocolate-Lovers Nestlé-Crunch-Bar Cookies:  Recipe yields 5-5 1/2 dozen cookies.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; 4, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; parchment paper; 1 1/2" ice-cream scoop; wire cooling rack

6a0120a8551282970b01bb092fba3d970dCook's Note: Hold the chocolate candy and  everything you can put in a chocolate cookie to impress me. Don't sprinkle them with sea salt, slather them with caramel frosting or sandwich them together with buttercream.  It won't work.  As a foodie who lives in the blog world where everyone strives to make every recipe unique, in my kitchen, every once in a while, plain is the best flavor of all -- especially when ~ I'm in the Mood for:  Plain-Jane Chocolate Cookies ~. 

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

02/11/2019

~ Effortlessly-Regal No-Brainer Blackberry Clafoutis ~

IMG_8378I'm continually astonished by how many cooks have no idea what clafoutis is, or, assume from its name that it's hard to make.  If I were to write The Big Book of No-Brainer Desserts, clafoutis would be on the cover.  Whisk up a simple batter (eggs, cream or milk, sugar, salt, flour, melted butter and brandy or extract), pour it over some fresh fruit and bake. Cherries are the classic addition, with any type of berries, combination of berries, or tender stone fruit like apricots, plums and peaches being common substitutions.  Currently, I'm secretly addicted to the one-pound boxes of giant-sized Driscoll's blackberries we've been purchasing at our local Sam's Club.  I eat a box every week -- every time I open the refrigerator, five or six of come out with me.

Perfect for Valentine's Day, or any occasion you can name... 

IMG_8393... and even easier to make than a cobbler, crisp or crumble...

IMG_8321A bit about clafoutis (kla-foo-tee): Hailing from the Limousin region in Central Southern France, this country-style dessert is made with unpitted black cherries -- which lend a slight almond flavor to the dessert. The name is derived from the verb "clafir", which means "to fill" (the thick, flan-like batter with cherries). Purists will tell you that if made with anything other than black cherries, the name of the dessert changes to "flaugnarde" (which, to me, sounds like a derogatory term for a clafoutis that got thrown under the bus).

After baking, clafoutis is usually served warm with a dusting of Confectioners' sugar or a dollop of freshly-whipped cream. Depending who's making it, where and what recipe, a clafoutis can have a cake-like texture, but French farm-kitchen versions, which are the most luxurious, are typically pudding-like.  In either case, it's an impressive dessert that can be successfully made by novice cooks.

IMG_8398... clafoutis is my secret-weapon year-round fruit dessert.

IMG_83241 1/2-2  pounds fresh (not frozen), ripe (not over-ripe) whole blackberries

3  large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/4  cups heavy or whipping cream, at room temperature

1/2  cup sugar

1  tablespoon pure blackberry extract (Note:  I purchase blackberry extract on-line from www.OliveNation.com.  If you are not inclined to do that, substitute an equal amount of blackberry brandy.)

1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2  teaspoon oure almond extract (almond extract is common to all clafoutis recipes)

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour (10 tablespoons)

1/8  teaspoon sea salt

2  tablespoons salted butter, melted and cooled

Confectioners' sugar and/or freshly whipped cream, for garnish and topping

IMG_8330 IMG_8330 IMG_8330 IMG_8330~Step 1. Melt butter and set aside to cool slightly.  In a 1-quart measuring container, place eggs, cream, sugar, extracts, flour and salt.  Using a hand-held rotary mixer, whisk the mixture until smooth, about 1 minute.  Drizzle in the butter and whisk again, until butter is incorporated.

IMG_8327 IMG_8327 IMG_8327 IMG_8355~Step 2. Gently place the delicate blackberries in an 11" x 7", 1 1/2-quart casserole, NOT a 13" x 9" x 2", 3-quart casserole, then drizzle the batter slowly and evenly over the blackberries, allowing it plenty of time to seep down through all the cracks and crevices.  Bake on center rack of 325º oven 40-45 minutes, or until puffed up to center, lightly-browned and just set.  Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool, 45-60 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Read the recipe, don't be fooled by a photo:  this is an 11" x 7", 1 1/2-quart casserole, NOT, a 13" x 9", 3-quart casserole!

IMG_8350Bake in a 325º oven, 40-45 minutes or until just set.

IMG_8357Cool 45-60 minutes, slice & serve warm (or at room temp)...

IMG_8364... dusted w/Confectioners' sugar or whipped cream: 

IMG_8375Effortlessly-Regal No-Brainer Blackberry Clafoutis:  Recipe yields 12-14-16 servings.

Special Equipment List: 1-cup measuring container; 1-quart measuring container; hand-held rotary mixer, or, hand-held electric mixer; 1 1/2-quart casserole, NOT, a 3-quart casserole, preferably ceramic; wire cooling rack

6a0120a8551282970b0224e03f9a04200dCook's Note: Here today, gone today.  That's the lifespan of blackberries entering my kitchen. I've been told their dark color makes them really good for me -- even more antioxidants than blueberries.  Rah-rah-sis-boom-bah, I'd eat them even if they were on on the not-so-good-for-me foods short list.   When I buy a box of blackberries, I eat a box of blackberries. When I pick blackberries, they disappear on the walk to my door.  I do not share blackberries -- perhaps I would, but, I've yet to be tested on this point. ~ Have a Very-Berry Blackberry-Cobbler Kind of Day ~!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

02/09/2019

~ A Great Garlic Bread Spread for Great Garlic Bread ~

IMG_8282Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead.  A double-whammy of calories and carbohydrates are going on our dinner table tonight.  Why?  Because eating spaghetti and meatballs without a great big basket of garlic bread on the table is, gulp, culinarily criminal.  We'll have a salad too, because it too goes great with this meal (not because it's healthy or to make me feel less guilty). Everybody knows spaghetti and meatballs require garlic bread, a salad and a bottle of red wine.

Garlic bread isn't Italian.  Neither is spaghetti & meatballs.

IMG_8309While many regard spaghetti & meatballs as quintessential Italian, the dish was created in the U.S. in the early 1900's.  Italian meatballs were not initially served with pasta.  They were served alone, as a course at a meal, as was the pasta.  The two got teamed together in Italian restaurants to appease Americans who wanted meat served on the same plate with with their pasta.  The type of garlic bread we have all come to love is believed to have originated in the U.S. in the 1950's, when Italian-American home cooks created a spin-off of Italian bruschetta/garlic toast (a slice of bread brushed with olive oil, grilled, then rubbed with garlic) using on-hand pantry ingredients of the time period.  The end result was a buttery loaf of highly-flavored slightly-crunchy bready snacks to accompany their favorite Italian-American red-sauce-restaurant dishes.

6a0120a8551282970b022ad398c2fd200dA great garlic bread starts with a high-quality loaf of bread.  A firm dense-textured loaf textured bread is the place to start -- a loaf of roasted-garlic bread (meaning roasted garlic has been baked into the bread) is a better place to start, as it lends an extra-layer of garlic flavor.  For ease of service and a prettier presentation, in my kitchen, I believe the French batard (a squatter, plumper, denser version of a baguette) to be the ideal foil for making garlic bread.

1  12-ounce roasted-garlic or plain batard, preferably the bake-at-home kind

IMG_8229For the garlic bread spread:

3  half-sticks salted butter, at room temperature, very soft (6 ounces) (Note:  I'm pointing out half-sticks of butter to make the ratio I use more apparent to you when reading the ingredients list.  This will make it easy to adjust (calculate) the recipe for different-sized loaves of different shapes.  To every half-stick of butter, add 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 clove garlic, 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese and 1/4 teaspoon each of designated herbs and spices.)

1  tablespoon olive oil (3 teaspoons)

3  large garlic cloves, run through a press (about 1 1/2 teaspoons pressed garlic), or, 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic paste may be substituted

3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend

3/4  teaspoon dehydrated, minced garlic

3/4  teaspoon garlic powder

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

1/4  teaspoon white pepper

3  tablespoons finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

IMG_8231 IMG_8231 IMG_8231 IMG_8231 IMG_8231~Step 1.  In a 2-cup food storage container, place all ingredients except cheese.  Stir until thoroughly combined.  Add and stir in the cheese. Cover and set aside, at room temperature, 30-45 minutes, to give flavors time to marry.  During this time, preheat oven to 375º with oven rack positioned in the upper third.  Uncover and give the mixture one last thorough stir.

IMG_8251 IMG_8251 IMG_8251 IMG_8251 IMG_8251~Step 2.  Line a 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pan with parchment paper.  Using a serrated bread knife, slice the batard in half lengthwise horizontally, then slice each half into four even-sized pieces.  Using a butter knife, generously slather each piece of bread with the garlic spread.  Keep slathering until all of the spread is used up and atop the bread pieces.

IMG_8266~Step 3.  Place pan of bread in oven preheated as directed above.  Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until the garlic spread has had time to slowly melt down into the bread and the bread has had time to crisp in the buttery meltdown, and, essentially oven-fry.  Remove from oven and cool slightly, in pan, 2-3 minutes prior to transferring to a plate or a basket to serve.

Great garlic bread -- the snack Italian-Americans made...

IMG_8279... crispy outside, chewy inside, lots of butter & garlic flavor:

IMG_8285A Great Garlic Bread Spread for Great Garlic Bread:  Recipe yields 1, 12-ounce loaf garlic bread/8 pieces/8 side-servings or snacks.

Special Equipment List:  garlic press; microplane grater, spoon; cutting board; serrated bread knife; 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pan; parchment paper; butter knife

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d16e3272970cCook's Note: Garlic knots are a form of garlic bread -- they're typically made using the same butter-garlic mixture the eatery uses to make garlic bread.  In the beginning, they were found primarily in pizzarias in and around New York City and they were a way of making use of scraps of pizza dough.  As an appetizer, they come to you with a side of marinara sauce for dipping, and, because they are made from scraps, a basket of them often comes complimentary with more expensive menu items.  ~ For Times When You Gotta Have Garlic Knots ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

02/06/2019

~Slow-Cooker Italian-Style Sunday Gravy & Meatballs~

IMG_8183Sunday gravy.  Tomato sauce, simmering low and slow in a pot brimming with meatballs bobbing around -- what's not to love.  It's a tradition in the Italian-American kitchen and a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon -- stirring a pot of bubbling sauce and sipping wine with the family and some friends milling around.  That said, I grew up in an Eastern European household -- we ate spaghetti and meatballs on Tuesdays, as Sundays were for roast chicken or pot roast and "the other gravy".  Mom and dad designated Tuesdays as our day to have spaghetti and meatballs.

While many regard spaghetti & meatballs as quintessential Italian, the dish was created in the U.S. in the early 1900's.  Meatballs were not initially served with pasta.  They were served alone, as was the pasta.  The two teamed together in Italian restaurants to appease Americans who wanted meat served with pasta.

IMG_3124 2Fast forward to 1980.  I married Joe and into his Italian-heritaged family, and fast-tracked all I could  -- Sunday sugo and a head-spinning array of other family-favorite main-dishes and desserts.  That said, Joe traveled a lot, so, many a weeknight, it just was me, three boys and their after-school activities.  I too designated Tuesday nights for spaghetti and meatballs, but, a simplified version.  The meatballs and sauce cooked in the slow cooker, which conveniently could be scheduled to be ready at a time I knew we'd all be home to eat dinner and do homework.  

My kid-friendly version is quick to put together and requires no slicing, dicing or frying --  both the sauce and the meat mixture can be prepped in about fifteen minutes.  There's more.  Past the ground beef and some ground pork if you want to add it, all of the ingredients come out of the pantry and off the spice rack.  Unless you have have a really big family or teenage boys, there's easily enough for two meals, which in our house means meatball sandwiches the next day.

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c95967d7970bMeet Crockpot's Casserole Crock. For me, it's my latest acquisition in a long line of slow cookers.  I now currently own ten different brands, models and sizes -- which is odd because, me, not-the-queen-of-crockpot-cooking, uses a slow cooker, maybe, five-six times a year. While Crockpot rightfully peddles this one as a casserole crock (because it is essentially a 13" x 9" x 3" casserole), and, it's intended to make-and-take slow-cooked casseroles (it's got lock-in-place handles and a stay-cool handle for carrying the entire contraption), I saw it as a vessel for a big batch of meatballs  (28 to be precise) to cook evenly, in comfort -- single-layer spa-style.

Moist, fork-tender meatballs in a thick, rich tomato sauce...

IMG_8214... an uncompromisingly-delicious time-saving recipe: 

IMG_8121For the Gravy (Tomato Sauce):

2  28-ounce cans high-quality Italian-style crushed tomatoes

2  8-ounce cans tomato sauce

1  teaspoon dried basil or Italian seasoning blend

1  teaspoon garlic powder

1  teaspoon onion powder

1  teaspoon sea salt

1  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper 

IMG_8131For the meatballs:

2  pounds ground beef (85/15), or, 1 pound each: beef & pork

2/3  cup each:  plain dry breadcrumbs and finely-grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2  teaspoons dried basil or Italian seasoning blend

1 1/2 teaspoons each: dehydrated minced garlic and onion, cracked black pepper and sea salt

2  large eggs

IMG_8122 IMG_8122~ Step 1.  To mix the sauce, place and stir all ingredients (crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, dried basil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper) together in a Crockpot casserole cooker. Set aside and mix meat as directed:

IMG_8133 IMG_8133~ Step 2.  To mix the meat, in a large bowl, place all ingredients (ground beef, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, dried basil, dehydrated minced garlic and onion, salt, pepper and eggs).  Using your hands, thoroughly combine.

IMG_8137 IMG_8137 IMG_8137 IMG_8137~Step 3.  Using a 2" ice-cream scoop as a measure, divide meat mixture into 28 portions, about 1 1/2-ounces each.  Using your hands, form into round balls, placing them, side-by-side in sauce -- do not push down on meatballs.  Cover crockpot and cook on high for 2-2 1/2 hours.

IMG_8151 IMG_8151 IMG_8156 IMG_8156 IMG_8156~Step 4.  After 2-2 1/2 hours, using a pair of tongs, remove meatballs to a platter, a bowl, or a casserole.  Cover and set aside.  Ladle the sauce into two 1-quart food storage bowls and set aside.  To this point, meatballs and sauce can be prepared several hours and up to two days in advance. Reheat and serve with cooked and drained steaming-hot pasta.

A thick rich full-flavored sauce w/tender, juicy meatballs.  

IMG_8177Can I interest you in a side-serving of garlic bread?

IMG_8282Slow-Cooker Italian-Style Gravy & Meatballs:  Recipe yields 28 meatballs and 2 quarts sauce.

Special Equipment List:  Crockpot casserole; large spoon; 2" ice-cream scoop; tongs; soup ladle

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c94beaae970bCook's Note: There's no discernible difference between a crockpot-cooked meatloaf vs. an oven-baked meatloaf.  Meatloaf in the crockpot is not crock-our-world crocket science.  Home cooks have been using Betty Crocker's method for slow-cooking meatloaf for decades. That said, after purchasing my new Crockpot casserole, I decided to "think inside the box and dare to be square", and, my ~ Low & Slow-Cooked Crockpot-Casserole Meatloaf ~, which yields a generous 16-20 servings came out great!

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

02/04/2019

~Onion & Garlic Cauliflower & Gold Mashed Potatoes~

IMG_8091Smashed, mashed or whipped potatoes -- you love them, I know you do, everyone does. Cauliflower -- maybe you love it, maybe you don't, but if you do, you'll love the combination of buttery-rich mashed cauliflower and potatoes laced with bits of onion and garlic. It's the divine intervention of the creamy-comforting side-dish food world -- it happens when the mild- and slightly-nutty flavored sun-soaked "cabbage flower" meets the sun-starved, earthy and starchy potato.  Make no mistake, when boiled and mashed, cauliflower is great, but it's: mashed cauliflower -- just because it's the same color, doesn't make it "just like" mashed potatoes and it's silly to say so.  That said, add an equal amount of potatoes to the same pot -- game on.

Cauliflower mashed w/o potatoes is mashed cauliflower -- good but not mashed potatoes.  Add potatoes to the same pot -- game on!

IMG_804712  ounces whole cauliflower florets, removed from 1 medium-sized 2-pound head cauliflower as directed here, weighed, not measured

12  ounces peeled and 3/4-1" cubed Yukon gold potatoes (12 ounces after peeling)

1  tablespoon sea salt, for seasoning the water

6  tablespoons salted butter, preferably at room temperature

3/4  cup cream, preferably at room temperature

1  teaspoon dehydrated, minced onion

1  teaspoon dehydrated, minced garlic

3/4  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

snipped chives, for garnish (optional)

IMG_8045 IMG_8045 IMG_8045 IMG_8045 IMG_8062 IMG_8062 IMG_8062~Step 1.  Remove florets from the head of cauliflower, placing them on a kitchen scale as you work.  Place 12-ounces of whole florets in a wide-bottomed 4-quart stockpot.  Peel and dice potatoes as directed, placing them in the stockpot with the cauliflower as you work.  Cover with 2-quarts cold water and add 1 tablespoon sea salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Adjust heat to a gentle, steady simmer and cook until potatoes are fork tender through to their centers, 10-12 minutes -- when potatoes are done, cauliflower is done.  Remove from heat and transfer to a colander to thoroughly drain. Return steaming-hot vegetables to still-hot stockpot and place pot on a heat-safe surface. 

IMG_8057IMG_8057Step 2.  While the potatoes are simmering, place cream, butter, minced garlic, minced onion, salt and pepper in a 2-cup measuring container.  Place in microwave to warm up gently, until butter has melted.  Remove from microwave and set aside.

IMG_8071 IMG_8071 IMG_8071 IMG_8071~Step 3.  Add half of the warm butter/cream mixture to the stockpot.  Using a hand-held vegetable masher (for smashed or mashed potatoes) or on medium speed of hand-held electric mixer, whip the potatoes.  Add the second half of the butter/cream mixture and gradually increase mixer speed to high, whipping the mixture while scraping down the sides of the pot with a large rubber spatula until smooth and creamy, about 2 full minutes.  There will be four generous cups.

Buttery rich & full of onion & garlic flavor...

IMG_8106... cauliflower & gold mashed potatoes --  the gold standard.

IMG_8112Onion & Garlic Cauliflower & Gold Mashed Potatoes:  Recipe yields a generous 4 cups cauliflower and mashed potatoes/approximately 6 servings.

Special Equipment List:  kitchen scale; cutting board; chef's knife; vegetable peeler; wide-bottomed 4-quart stockpot w/lid; 2-cup measuring container; colander; hand-held vegetable masher or hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula

6a0120a8551282970b01bb07d02735970dCook's Note:  It's right up there with pizza, cheeseburgers and hot dogs.  ~ The Machinations of Mashed Potatoes ~ is one of my favorite topics to discuss.  One can never have too many recipes for any of them.  It's hard to imagine my food world without mashed potatoes. They are an institution -- a way of life. They're the quintessential side-dish served year-round at elegant celebrations, casual get-togethers and weekday meals.  They're revered by young and old alike -- they make everyone happy.  

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

02/02/2019

~ Mel's Great-Big Cauliflower Pizza Crust Experiment ~

IMG_8009In crust I trust, but, in the case of the two bloatedly-overpriced-at-almost-$9.00 cauliflower pizza crusts I purchased (on a whim just to get a taste-in-my-mouth for what all the buzz is about), I'd rather eat cardboard.  In my food world, in order to avoid eating compromising crap, I eat less of the things I love before cutting-back on carbs, or worse, cutting-out gluten completely.  "Once you get used to them, they're pretty good", is not a retort to my comments, so stuff it.  The only way to justify this type of ingredient-specific-deprivation requires a diagnosis from a doctor.

My great disappointment by the store-bought cauliflower pizza crusts should not be confused with a dislike for cauliflower.

I love cauliflower, I love it raw, steamed, mashed, broiled and braised.  I love its chameleon-like ability to adapt to almost any culinary application -- even roasting.  I make a sumptuous cream-of-cauliflower soup too.  I won't lie, when I started hearing about the growing popularity of cauliflower pizza crusts, I was (with good reason) skeptical -- as a very good and knowledgeable home cook, the concept of making a traditional pizza crust without flour and the requisite yeast, conjured up problems.  As one who makes plenty of pizza from store-bought flatbreads too (using bobboli, naan, pita, tortillas and English muffins), the "no wheat flour rule" is disturbing.  Why? With flour and yeast, cauliflower could be incorporated to make a remarkably good crust.    

Will it taste remarkably better if I make one from scratch?

IMG_8036It should, and I truly hope it will, but know I wasn't going to waste a lot of time and energy coming up with my own before doing some proper research, which revealed:  There are lot of recipes "out there", with the majority being gluten-free and no carb-too, which is indeed what all the buzz is about.  That said, comments on said recipes were riddled with complaints about recipes that were soggy or sticky, and, the all-important chew-factor results reported crusts that fell apart so badly they required eating with knife-and-fork, to, crusts that were overly-chewy and rubberlike.     

Then I came across one on www.simplyrecipes.com -- a site I consider very reputable with well-written, kitchen-tested recipes.  I'm putting theirs to my test today.  Why?  Because it's not peddling a special-diet recipe, it's touting a great-tasting, easy-to-make cauliflower pizza crust with a texture resemblant of a traditional, yeast-based wheat crust.  It's a middle-of-the-road approach that, while gluten-free, adds just enough carbohydrates, in the form of corn flour, to produce a desirable texture.  It promised: a chewy, tender, breadlike-textured thin-crust pizza (meaning not light, airy) with a predominately dried corn-kernel tortilla-like taste.

Let's bake one & see (mostly their recipe w/a touch of a la Melanie):

IMG_79217  ounces cauliflower florets, weighed (about 2 cups), rough-chopped into 1/2" pieces

1/2  cup corn flour (masa harina)

1  large egg

2  tablespoons olive oil

1/2  teaspoon each: Italian seasoning blend, garlic powder, coarse-grind black pepper and sea salt

2  tablespoons cornstarch

4  ounces finely-grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 generous cup)

IMG_7927 IMG_7927~ Step 1.  Preheat oven to 450º with the oven rack positioned in the upper third.  Line a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan with parchment and coat the parchment with a layer of no-stick cooking spray.  Set aside. Using a microplane grater, grate a 4-ounce piece of Parmesan cheese, or, cut it into cubes and process it in the work bowl of food processor fitted with a steel blade, using a series of 45-60 rapid on-off pulses.  Set aside.

IMG_7923 IMG_7923 IMG_7932 IMG_7932 IMG_7932 IMG_7932 IMG_7932 IMG_7932~Step 2.  To prepare the dough, weigh cauliflower florets and rough chop as directed, placing in the work-bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade.  Add the corn flour, egg, olive oil and dry spices.  With motor running, process until a smooth, sticky purée forms, about 2 1/2-3 minutes, stopping to scrape down the inside of the work bowl with a large rubber spatula every 30-45 seconds.  Add the corstarch and process again for 30 more seconds.  Add the Parmesan. Using a series of rapid on-of pulses, process until incorporated into the mixture, about 8-10 pulses.

IMG_7950 IMG_7950 IMG_7950 IMG_7950 IMG_7950 IMG_7950 IMG_7950 IMG_7950~Step 3.  To form the crust, transfer  pizza dough to prepared baking pan and lightly-sprinkle top with some additional corn flour.  Using your hands and fingertips, gather dough together, then shape, pat and press into a 10" circle.  Using a small hand-held rolling pin, working from the center out to the perimeter, roll the dough into an 11" circle.  Using your fingertips, clean up any rough or ragged edges around the perimeter (and form a bit of a crust shape too if you like).  

IMG_7974 IMG_7974 IMG_7974 IMG_7974 IMG_7986 IMG_7986 IMG_7986~Step 4.  To pre-bake, top and finish-bake crust, bake the crust in preheated oven for 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool, in pan, 3-4 minutes.  Using a large pizza spatula,  transfer the crust to a large wire rack.  Discard the parchment paper from the baking pan, then place the pizza crust (on the rack) in the pan.  Top with your favorite sauce and cheese -- not too much, as this thin-crust pizza is best lightly-topped, not piled-high.  Reposition the oven rack from the upper third to the center. Place topped pizza, on rack in pan, in 450º oven and allow pizza to bake until cheese is melted and crust is crisped on bottom, 6-8 minutes.  Remove from oven, slice, and serve ASAP.

While it bakes up perfectly, it's not my cup-of-tea...

IMG_7999 2... but it is indeed exactly as promised & trendily yummy...

IMG_8020... so if you're so inclined, yes, give this recipe a try.

Mel's Great-Big Cauliflower Pizza Crust Experiment:  Recipe yields 1, 11" cauliflower pizza crust along with topping and baking instructions/6-8 servings.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; kitchen scale; food processor; large rubber spatula; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; small-hand-held rolling pin; large pizza spatula; wire cooling rack

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d25ed9bc970cCook's Note: 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 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. Try ~ My Guys Italian-American Sicilian-Style Pizza Pie ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)