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12 posts from December 2020

12/31/2020

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

IMG_8433In 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 -- exactly how a waffle should be.

IMG_8272Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.  It's a waffle morning: 

IMG_8341For the dry ingredients:

2  cups all-purpose flour

2  teaspoons baking powder

1  teaspoon baking soda

2  tablespoons sugar

1/2  teaspoon salt

For the wet ingredients:

2 1/2  cups buttermilk

1/4  cup vegetable oil

1  tablespoon pure vanilla extract

4  large eggs, separated

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing waffle grids

IMG_8347 IMG_8347 IMG_8347 IMG_8356 IMG_8362 IMG_8362 IMG_8362 IMG_8362~Step 1.  Ready the ingredients:  In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.  In a 2-cup measuring container, stir together the buttermilk and vanilla.  In a small ramekin, use a fork to thoroughly whisk the egg yolks.  In a medium bowl, using a hand-held rotary egg beater, whisk the egg whites until frothy and white.

IMG_8380 IMG_8384 IMG_8386 IMG_8388 IMG_8392 IMG_8399 2 IMG_8404~Step 2.  In a large bowl (I use an 8-cup measuring container), using a hand-held rotary beater, place and thoroughly combine the dry ingredients with the buttermilk mixture.  Add the egg yolks and beat again.  Add the frothed egg whites and beat again.  Set aside for about 10-15 minutes -- do not skip this step.

IMG_8411 IMG_8415 IMG_8417 IMG_8425 IMG_8430~Step 3.  Preheat the waffle iron, according to manufacturer's directions -- I preheat my CuchinaPro waffle iron at setting #4, which is a medium heat. I also like to place my waffle iron atop a few layers of paper towels, so the towels can catch the inevitable drips of batter that occur as each batch of waffles cook.  When the waffle iron signals that it is ready, open the iron and spray a light coating of no-stick over the grids, then, place a scant 1/3 cup of batter into each of the grids.  Close the iron and cook the waffles until they are golden, about 3 1/2-4 minutes (the cook time will vary from waffle iron to waffle iron).  Use a large spatula to transfer and serve the waffles immediately, or, place them, in a single layer, on a wire cooling rack, to cool completely.  

To reheat, pop one or two in the toaster to crisp them up.

IMG_8443How to Make the Best, Basic, Classic Waffle Batter:  Recipe yields 16 waffles.

Special Equipment List:  spoon; 2-cup measuring container; fork; 8-cup measuring container; hand-held rotary beater; 3-ounce ladle; electric classic-waffle iron (not an iron for making yeast-risen Belgian waffles); paper towels; large spatula; large wire cooling rack

6a0120a8551282970b0263e97a2c39200b-800wiCook's Note:  I accidentally put a bag of shredded hash brown potatoes in the refrigerator instead of the freezer.  I was in a hurry. Mistakes happen.  I am so glad I decided to open the bag before discarding the to-the-touch soggy mess this morning, because there was a nice surprise inside: glistening-white, ready-to-use, slightly-wet, shredded potatoes -- without all the time-consuming mess of doing it from scratch.  I may never shred fresh potatoes again. My breakfast menu changed ASAP. Joe's sunny side up eggs with two sausage patties, stayed the same, but, his toasted English muffin turned into a side of ~ My Shredded Hash-Brown Potato-Pancake Waffles ~.

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

(Recipes, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)

12/29/2020

~Home for the Holidays Eggnog Brioche French Toast~

IMG_8329When the Christmas and New Year holidays roll around, depending on who's coming to breakfast, lunch or dinner, my menus vary from year-to-year.  That said, eggnog is a constant, a staple in my refrigerator, and it's offered to guests at any time of day.  Interestingly, since I moved to Happy Valley (State College), Central Pennsylvania, in 1974, I've neither needed to make eggnog from scratch, nor, buy the all-too-many-times cloyingly sweet stuff sold in the grocery stores.  We have a local dairy that sells their own special blend of pasteurized eggnog and eggnog ice cream -- both are marvelous.  Meyer's Dairy eggnog and eggnog ice cream part of my tradition.

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3a7a3c6200dMeet Meyer Dairy.  Founded in 1970 by two  brothers and located just four short miles from my kitchen door, I have been buying milk and ice cream from these folks since the day I moved to Happy Valley in 1974.  Joseph Meyer, the owner explains, "We're farmers, so we produce our own milk.  We put in a drop tank to bring it up from the farm to process and bottle it in our shop."  Over the years they added many varieties of ice-cream, and the flavors change daily. Besides one of their generous cones of the creamy-dreamy stuff, there's plenty of room to sit down and enjoy a hot dog or a hamburger too.  They sell lots of other local and PA based products too:  grilled stickies from The College Diner, apple butter from the Lions Club and Middleswarth potato chips -- everyone loves Meyer Dairy!

Making French toast using eggnog in place of cream (or half-and-half or milk) is by no means rocket science.  There are only two things you need to know.  The first:  Classic French toast recipes typically add sugar to the egg-and-cream vanilla-flavored custard. Because eggnog contains sugar, there's no need to add more -- simply omit the requisite sugar from the original recipe.  The second:  Classic French toast recipes always add vanilla extract to the custard, and, most add cinnamon.  In order to make the custard mixture "noggy", in addition to the vanilla and cinnamon,  I like to add some butter-rum flavoring and a touch of nutmeg.

Eggnog French toast in four steps:  whisk, dip, soak, cook:

IMG_82796,  3/4"-thick slices, 2-3 day old, my recipe for bread machine eggnog brioche, or, bread machine brioche

4  large eggs

1 1/2  cups pasteurized eggnog

2  teaspoons butter-rum flavoring

2  teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4  teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

4-5  tablespoons corn-, peanut- or vegetable-oil (not olive oil), for frying the French toast

6a0120a8551282970b026be431629b200d~ Step 1.  Using a serrated bread knife, slice the bread.  This is a picture of my bread-machine brioche.  If you have a bread machine, I obviously encourage you give this recipe a try.  If you are not using my brioche, I recommend that whatever bread you are using be sliced to the thickness of 3/4".  If it is thinner or thicker, it will affect the frying time and texture.  In my opinion:  All French toast starts with properly, 3/4"-thick sliced bread.

IMG_8282 IMG_8287 IMG_8290 IMG_8292~Step 2.  To prepare the egg custard mixture, in a small bowl, crack and place the eggs, the cream, sugar, butter-rum flavoring, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and sea salt.  Using a hand-held rotary egg beater, thoroughly whisk the eggs, cream and seasonings together until uniform in color.  Transfer the custard mixture to the bottom of a 13" x 9" x 2" casserole.

IMG_8295 IMG_8296 IMG_8300 IMG_8302~Step 3. Arrange the bread slices in the 13" x 9" x 2" casserole containing the egg custard -- overlapping is ok.  Patiently wait 2-3 minutes.  Flip bread slices over on their second sides and wait another 2-3 minutes.  Flip the bread over again, then, maybe once more, to make sure each slice is thoroughly coated and almost all liquid has been absorbed.  Briefly set aside.

IMG_8305 IMG_8309 IMG_8313 IMG_8318 IMG_8322~Step 4. Preheat just enough oil, 4-5 tablespoons, to thinly-coat the bottom (about 1/16") of a 12" nonstick skillet over medium heat on the stovetop.  Add 3 slices of the egg-custard-soaked bread and gently sauté, about 3-4 minutes per side, using a spatula to flip it over only once, until golden on both sides.  Transfer the French toast to a paper-towel-lined plate.  Repeat the process with the remaining 3 slices of egg-custard-soaked bread.

Out w/the old, in w/the new -- ring in the New Year in style:

IMG_8338Home for the Holidays Eggnog Brioche French Toast:  Recipe yields 6 slices French toast/2-3 servings. 

Special Equipment List: cutting board; serrated bread knife; hand-held rotary egg beater; 13" x 9" x 2" casserole; 12" nonstick skillet; spatula; paper towels

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09626d7c970dCook's Note:  Besides sipping on eggnog throughout the days leading up to the holidays, I bake and cook with it too.  To name a few, I make great eggnog cookies, eggnog pound cake and eggnog shortbread, and, when it comes to breakfast or brunch on Christmas or New Years Day, either eggnog pancakes, French toast or waffles always make an appearance.  There's more. I love bananas, and, caramelized bananas, the kind used to make Bananas Foster, are my favorite topping for this festive, eggnoggy start-to-the-holiday: ~ Eggnog Pancakes w/Butter-Rum 'n Nog Bananas ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)

12/27/2020

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

IMG_8247The 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, but, make sure it's stale.

IMG_8249The origins of French toast were likely born out of the necessity to use up stale bread, and, sopping stale bread in milk is a tradition that dates back to the Middle ages.  The dish itself, French toast, is thought to be referred to as "French" because French breads like baguettes, sourdoughs and brioche, which are meant to be eaten on the same day they are baked, go stale quickly.  No one knows who's idea it was to whisk an egg or two into the milk and fry the bread in some fat, but, whoever it was, was onto one of our worlds most loved comfort food breakfasts -- French toast.  All that said, almost any type of semi-firm bread or quick-bread (challah, pannetone, banana bread, etc.) can and will turn an ordinary breakfast into a celebration.

French toast in four easy steps:  whisk, dip, soak, cook:

IMG_81836,  3/4"-thick slices, 2-3 day old bread machine brioche

4  large eggs

1 1/2  cups cream

1/4  cup sugar

1  tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

4-5  tablespoons corn, peanut or vegetable oil, for frying French toast

6a0120a8551282970b0147e0e131e0970b 9.58.04 AM~ Step 1.  Using a serrated bread knife, slice the bread.  This is a picture of my bread-machine brioche.  If you have a bread machine, I obviously encourage you give this recipe a try.  If you are not using my brioche, I recommend that whatever bread you are using be sliced to the thickness of 3/4".  If it is thinner or thicker, it will affect the frying time and texture.  In my opinion:  All French toast starts with properly, 3/4"-thick sliced bread.

IMG_8185 IMG_8194 IMG_8196 IMG_8202 IMG_8205~Step 2.  To prepare the egg custard mixture, in a small bowl, crack and place the eggs, the cream, sugar, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon and sea salt.  Using a hand-held rotary egg beater, thoroughly whisk the eggs, cream and seasonings together until uniform in color.  Transfer the custard mixture to the bottom of a 13" x 9" x 2" casserole.

IMG_8207 IMG_8208 IMG_8218~ Step 3. Arrange bread slices in the casserole atop the custard -- overlapping is ok. Wait 2-3 minutes. Flip bread slices over and wait another 2-3 minutes.  Flip the bread over again, then, maybe once more, to make sure each slice is thoroughly coated and almost all liquid has been absorbed.  Briefly set aside.

IMG_8222 IMG_8223 IMG_8226 IMG_8229 IMG_8233~Step 4. Preheat just enough oil, 4-5 tablespoons, to thinly-coat the bottom (about 1/16") of a 12" nonstick skillet over medium heat on the stovetop.  Add 3 slices of the egg-custard-soaked bread and gently sauté, about 3-4 minutes per side, using a spatula to flip it over only once, until golden on both sides.  Transfer the French toast to a paper-towel-lined plate.  Repeat the process with the remaining 3 slices of egg-custard-soaked bread.

Serve ASAP & don't forget the butter & maple syrup:

IMG_8243How to Make the Best, Basic, Classic French Toast:  Recipe yields 6 slices French toast/2-3 servings.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; serrated bread knife; hand-held rotary egg beater; 13" x 9" x 2" casserole; 12" nonstick skillet; spatula; paper towels

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4829507200dCook's Note: Once a year, the day after Eastern European Orthodox Easter to be specific, my mother made one of my favorite breakfasts: savory French toast.  She soaked thick slices of the round loaf of leftover paska (a brioche-type bread enriched with milk, eggs, butter, sugar and salt) in a whole-grain mustard-laced milk-and-egg mixture. She served it with sliced and fried baked ham (also leftover from Easter), soft-yolked, sunny-side-up eggs, and a fresh chive garnish (which grew in dad's garden).  Mom made this but once a year because that was when she had the very-specific ingredients.  Try my ~ Savory Brioche French Toast w/Fried Ham & Eggs ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)

12/24/2020

~ Creamy-Dreamy Old-Bay Shrimp Shell-Pasta Salad ~

IMG_8161This main-dish pasta salad is made by adding cooked and well-drained shell-shaped pasta to my mother's shrimp salad recipe.  It makes the perfect quick lunch or light supper.  Simply portion it into a shallow bowl atop a bed of crispy-crunchy lettuce leaves accompanied by a few tomato wedges and pour a glass of your favorite wine.  Add a slice of crusty rustic bread, a fancy-schmancy flakey croissant or a brioche roll slathered with butter and lunch or dinner is served.

Shrimp cocktail has been a traditional appetizer at my family's holiday gatherings and celebrations for as long as I can remember.  Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, bridal showers, baby showers, christenings, anniversary parties, etc. -- when my family celebrates, a big bowl or platter of perfectly-cooked jumbo shrimp with two-types of cocktail sauce (classic and creamy) are on the table when we start the festivities.  On occasion, we'd have some leftover.  Under the supervision of my mom, back into the refrigerator they went, so our family of four could all enjoy a shrimp salad sandwiches the next day.  Truth told, I'm convinced mom planned on the leftovers.

IMG_8118To many folks, Old Bay Seasoning represents the quintessential Summer seafood seasoning -- it really kicks the flavor up a few notches.  It’s the seasoning-of-choice on blue crabs, tossed into a bowl of peel n' eat shrimp, and in Maryland, they shake it on everything from fried chicken to sweet corn and some add it to their crab cakes and potato salad too. That said, whatever the season or the occasion, like mom, I can't resist adding it to her shrimp salad recipe.

Make & chill the spicy shrimp salad as directed.  Then add:

IMG_80416 cups my recipe for Spicy Old-Bay-Seasoned Shrimp Salad, well-chilled

6  ounces uncooked medium-sized shell pasta (about 2 cups)

2  teaspoons sea salt, for seasoning water for pasta

6  tablespoons high-quality mayonnaise, I use either Hellmann's or Duke's 

2  teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

2  teaspoon lemon juice, fresh or high-quality organic juice not-from-concentrate

2  teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1-1 1/2 cups torn iceberg or romaine lettuce leaves, for serving each portion

4-5  small Campari tomato wedges, for serving each portion 

IMG_8046 IMG_8051 IMG_8051 IMG_8056 IMG_8056 IMG_8064~Step 1.  In a 3-4-quart saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.  Add the salt.  Add the pasta and cook, according to package directions, until al dente, 9-11 minutes.  Do not over cook the pasta. Drain pasta into a colander, rinse it thoroughly under cold running water (to remove excess starch and halt cooking process), then, spread it out onto a baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper.  Set aside for 10-15 minutes, to dry and cool, meaning:  dry free of excess moisture (not dry out), and, cool to room temperature.

IMG_8048 IMG_8048 IMG_8074 IMG_8076~Step 2.  While the pasta in draining and drying, in a small bowl, place and stir together the mayonnaise, Old Bay Seasoning, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce.  Transfer pasta to a medium bowl.  Add the mayonnaise mixture to the pasta.  Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold the mayonnaise mixture into the pasta, continuing to fold until the pasta is evenly coated. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for 45-60 minutes.  

IMG_8082 IMG_8144 IMG_8144~ Step 3.  Remove the shrimp salad and the pasta mixture from the refrigerator. Transfer both mixtures to a large bowl. Using the rubber spatula, gently fold the two mixtures together.    Portion and serve on luncheon-sized plates or shallow bowls atop a bed of torn lettuce leaves accompanied by tomato wedges.

Serve atop lettuce leaves accompanied by tomato wedges:

IMG_8150Try my Spicy Old-Bay-Seasoned Shrimp Salad Sandwiches too:

IMG_8133Creamy-Dreamy Old-Bay Shrimp Shell-Pasta Salad:  Recipe yields 10 cups pasta salad.

Special Equipment List:  kitchen scale; 3-4-quart saucepan; colander; 12 1/2" x 8 3/4"; parchment paper; large rubber spatula

6a0120a8551282970b0240a502fd82200bCook's Note: Americans love shrimp.  Shrimp, the fruit of the sea, is America's favorite seafood.  When it comes to shrimp, while big is always better served in a shrimp cocktail, when making deep-fried shrimp, and, in specialty dishes like firecracker shrimp, that's just not so when it comes to making many appetizers and hors d'oeuvres (shrimp dip,  shrimp salad, tea sandwiches, various canapés, etc.). Extra-small shrimp, also known as "salad shrimp", are sweet, tender and adorable, so, when serving fingerfood, think small, because the extra flavor is important.  Try my ~ Pretty-in-Pink Tiny-Shrimp Dip, Salad or Sandwiches ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)

12/21/2020

~Spicy Old-Bay-Seasoned Shrimp Salad Sandwiches~

IMG_8128Shrimp cocktail has been a traditional appetizer at my family's holiday gatherings and celebrations for as long as I can remember.  Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, bridal showers, baby showers, christenings, anniversary parties, etc. -- when my family celebrates, a big bowl or platter of perfectly-cooked jumbo shrimp with two-types of cocktail sauce (classic and creamy) are on the table when we start the festivities.  On occasion, we'd have some left over.  Under the supervision of my mom, back into the refrigerator they went, so our family of four could all enjoy shrimp salad sandwiches the next day.  Truth told, I'm convinced mom planned on the leftovers.

IMG_8118To many folks, Old Bay Seasoning represents the quintessential Summer seafood seasoning -- it really kicks the flavor up a few notches.  It’s the seasoning-of-choice on blue crabs, tossed into a bowl of peel n' eat shrimp, and in Maryland, they shake it on everything from fried chicken to hot dogs and popcorn, and, they add it to everything from Bloody Mary's to deviled eggs and potato salad -- there are few foods that Marylanders don't add Old Bay seasoning to.  You can find it on the tables of eateries everywhere, right next to the salt and pepper shakers.  That said, whatever the season or the occasion, like mom, I can't resist adding it to her shrimp salad recipe.  It rocks.  

This salad makes the perfect quick lunch or light supper.  Pile it into a sliced croissant, on a lightly-toasted brioche hamburger-type roll, wrap it in a flour tortilla, or, simply scoop it over into a bowl atop a bed of crispy-crunchy lettuce leaves.  There's more.  You can stir cooked shell-shaped pasta into it for a spice-is-nice shrimp pasta salad too.  Mince the shrimp:  shrimp dip.

One last thing, make plenty.  No on can resist it:

IMG_80011  pound jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined, cooked, chilled, tails taken off, and, cut in half horizontally

1/2  cup high-quality mayonnaise, I use either Hellmann's or Duke's

2  teaspoons Old Bay seasoning, divided (1 teaspoon for seasoning the shrimp and 1 teaspoon for seasoning the mayonnaise)

2  teaspoon lemon juice, fresh or high-quality organic juice not-from-concentrate, divided (1  teaspoon for seasoning the shrimp and 1 teaspoon for flavoring the mayonnaise)

2  teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, divided (1 teaspoon for seasoning the shrimp and one teaspoon for flavoring the mayonnaise)

3/4  cup small-diced celery

3/4  cup small-diced yellow or sweet onion

6  brioche hamburger-type rolls

1 1/2  cups chiffonade of iceberg or romaine lettuce, divided 4 ways, to use as a bed for the shrimp salad on each of 4 sandwiches

6  Campari tomatoes, each tomato sliced into 3-4 thin slices, to use as a topper for the shrimp salad on each of 4 sandwich

IMG_7992 IMG_7992 IMG_8006 IMG_8006 IMG_8006 IMG_8006~Step 1.  Slice the shrimp as directed, placing them in a medium bowl as you work.  Toss with 1 teaspoon of the Old Bay seasoning, followed by 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of the Worcestershire sauce.  Set the shrimp aside.

IMG_8019 IMG_8022 IMG_8022~ Step 2.  In a small bowl, place and thoroughly stir together the remaining 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, followed by the remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, and, the mayonnaise.

IMG_8028 IMG_8028 IMG_8028 IMG_8028~Step 3.  Using a large rubber spatula, fold the mayonnaise mixture into the shrimp, followed by the diced celery and onions.  Cover and refrigerate until well-chilled 1-2 hours or overnight.

Portion onto brioche rolls atop a bed of lettuce & tomatoes: 

IMG_8133Try my Creamy-Dreamy Old-Bay Shrimp & Shell-Pasta Salad:

IMG_8161Spicy Old-Bay-Seasoned Shrimp Salad Sandwiches:  Recipe yields 6 cups shrimp salad and 6 large sandwiches.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; large rubber spatula; plastic wrap  

6a0120a8551282970b0240a502fd82200bCook's Note: Americans love shrimp.  Shrimp, the fruit of the sea, is America's favorite seafood.  When it comes to shrimp, while big is always better served in a shrimp cocktail, when making deep-fried shrimp, and, in specialty dishes like firecracker shrimp, that's just not so when it comes to making many appetizers and hors d'oeuvres (shrimp dip,  shrimp salad, tea sandwiches, various canapés, etc.). Extra-small shrimp, also known as "salad shrimp", are sweet, tender and adorable, so, when serving fingerfood, think small, because the extra flavor is important.  Try my ~ Pretty-in-Pink Tiny-Shrimp Dip, Salad or Sandwiches ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)

12/18/2020

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

IMG_8102 2Newsflash -- 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.  Don't do it.

Old Bay -- Named after The Old Bay Line of passenger ships:

Card00578_frOld Bay Seasoning was named after the Old Bay Line, a passenger-ship line that steamed the waters of the Chesapeake Bay from Baltimore, Maryland, to Norfolk, Virginia in the early 1900's. Old Bay Seasoning, which is marketed in the United States by McCormick & Company, was created in Baltimore, Maryland.  It's a sophisticated blend of herbs and spices that include (as per the can): celery salt (a blend of salt and pulverized celery seed), dry mustard, red pepper, black pepper, Laurel bay leaves, allspice, ginger, mace, cardamom, cinnamon and paprika.

Old Bay -- Created in 1939 by a spice & seasoning wholesaler, Gustav Brunn, a Jewish-German immigrant to the USA:

Old Bay Seasoning is the creation of Gustav Brunn, a Jewish-German immigrant to the United States who started The Baltimore Spice Company in 1939.  The origins of his company began in Wertheim, Germany, where he started a wholesale spice and seasoning business, selling to the food industry during a time when spices were in short supply due to the hyperinflation in the aftermath of World War I. Due to rising antisemitism as the Nazi's rose to power, he moved his family, and his company to Frankfurt, Germany, where, on the night of November 10, 1938 (Kristalnacht), Brunn, was arrested and sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp.

Gustav's wife paid a large sum of money to a lawyer to get her husband released, and, because they had previously applied for and received American visas, they and their two children were able to escape to New York City, and later to Baltimore, Maryland, where Brunn had living relatives.  Having brought with him a small spice grinder, it was in Baltimore, in 1939 (just two days after being fired from his job at McCormick because his boss found out he was Jewish), where he began selling the "Delicious Brand Shrimp and Crab Seasoning", which was later renamed Old Bay Seasoning.  McCormick purchased the rights from the family in 1990.

Old Bay -- How do we love thee?  Let's count the many ways:

IMG_8118Marylanders have proudly taught us in the Mid-Atlantic States, Southern States, New England States and the Gulf Coast to use Old Bay Seasoning in or on almost anything we can think of.  To name many:  Blue Crabs.  Crab cakes.  Crab dip.  Crab salad.  Cream of crab soup.  Clam chowder.  Oyster stew.  Tomato soup.  Scallops.  Shrimp.  Shrimp salad.  Crawfish boil.  Seafood Batter mixes.  Tartar sauce.  Salad dressing.  Deviled eggs.  Chicken wings.  Fried Chicken. Maryland-style hot dogs.  Baked potatoes.  French fries.  Tater tots.  Potato salad.  Macaroni Salad.  Corn on the cob.  Steamed vegetables.  Popcorn.  Potato Chips.  Chex mix.  Bloody Mary's.  Essentially, there few foods Marylanders haven't put Old Bay Seasoning in or on.

Most recently, in 2020, McCormick created Old Bay Hot Sauce in advance of the Super Bowl.  It sold out within 30 minutes of its launch, causing the website to temporarily crash.  Some customers resold the 10-ounce bottles, which retailed for $3.49 for between $50 and $200.

Old Bay -- Don't try to fake it by making it 'cause you can't:

IMG_8108"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)

12/15/2020

~ Cheesecake Pie w/Lorna Doone Shortbread Crust ~

IMG_7986Making a cheesecake pie is a quick way to quell a craving for classic cheesecake.  Sometimes known as poor man's cheesecake, this particular easy-to-make, lightly-baked cheesecake pie is remarkably resemblant of a New York-style cheesecake, complete with a two-ingredient, Lindy's-type short-pastry cookie-type crust -- meaning, not a run-of-the-mill graham cracker crust.    

New York-style cheesecake is always a cream-cheese based cheesecake that incorporates cream or sour cream along with eggs, vanilla and/or lemon.  It's gently baked in a deep springform pan that has been placed in a baine marie (a water bath) to prevent it from browning. The typical New York-style cheesecake is thick and very rich with a dense, smooth, and creamy consistency -- a small wedge goes a long way to filling one up.  A popular addition is a lavish layer of sour cream topping, applied after the cheesecake is baked.  It gets mixed with vanilla and sugar and returned to the oven, making this cheesecake twice-baked.  Served with or without a fruit topping (cherry or blueberry is common), it is, hands down, my favorite type of cheesecake.

Three cheers for this easy New York-Style cheesecake pie:

IMG_7898For the crust:

1  10-ounce box Lorna Doone shortbread cookies, processed to crumbs

6  tablespoons salted butter, melted (3/4 stick)

For the cream cheese layer:

1  8-ounce block cream cheese, at room temperature, very soft

1  large egg, at room temperature

1/4  cup sugar

2  teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the sour cream layer:

1  16-ounce container sour cream

1/4  cup sugar

2  teaspoons pure vanilla extract

IMG_7851 IMG_7851 IMG_7851 IMG_7851~Step 1.  To prepare the shortbread cookie crust, break the cookies into small pieces and place them in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Using a series of 25-30 rapid on-off pulses process them to crumbs, then, with the motor running, process them to fine crumbs, about 10 more seconds. Transfer the shortbread cookie crumbs to a medium bowl.  

IMG_7863 IMG_7863 IMG_7863 IMG_7863~Step 2.  Melt the butter in the microwave then add it to the cookie crumbs.  Using a spoon, thoroughly incorporate the butter until a moist, grainy, semi-cohesive, crumb mixture forms.

IMG_7875 IMG_7875 IMG_7875 IMG_7875~Step 3.  Transfer crumbs to a 9" pie dish. Using a tablespoon, spread mixture evenly across bottom and partially up sides of dish.  Using a wooden tart tamper, flatten/compress crumbs to form a crust across the bottom.  When the bottom is firmly in place, use the tamper (in conjunction with fingertips) to press crumbs against, and to the top of, sides of the dish.  Bake on center rack of 325° oven for 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool 45-60 minutes.

IMG_7958 IMG_7958 IMG_7958 IMG_7958 IMG_7924 IMG_7924 IMG_7924~Step 4.  To prepare the cream cheese layer, place the cream cheese, egg, 1/4 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract in a medium bowl.  On medium speed of hand-held electric mixer, beat until all ingredients are smooth and thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.  Transfer to cookie crust and gently spread to form an even layer.  Bake on center rack of 325° oven, 15 minutes.  Do not overbake.-- the cream cheese layer should show no signs of browning and be barely set.  Remove from oven.

IMG_7903 IMG_7903 IMG_7903 IMG_7933 IMG_7933~Step 5.  To prepare the sour cream layer (while the cream cheese layer is baking), in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla extract, until smooth and uniform in color.  Using a large spoon, dollop the mixture in the center of the cream cheese layer, then, gently spread it to within 1/2" of the perimeter of the cream cheese layer.  Return to oven to bake on center rack of 325° oven for 15 more minutes.  Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool to room temp, about 2 hours, then refrigerate, uncovered, 6-12 hours.

Slice & serve chilled w/-or-w/o fruit topping:  

IMG_7966Cheesecake Pie w/Lorna Doone Shortbread Crust:  Recipe yields 1, 9" pie/8-12 servings.

Special Equipment List: food processor; 9" pie dish or tin; tablespoon; tart tamper; wire cooling rack; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; 2-cup measuring container

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d1a60fe9970cCook's Note: Cheesecakes, cream pies, many layered bar-type cookies, and, some refrigerated pudding and frozen ice-cream desserts call for using a graham cracker or cookie crumb crust as a buttery, crunchy base.  While homemade graham crackers, sugar 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 don't at all care for the quality of ready-made store-bought crumb crusts. Learn why by reading all about ~ Making Graham Cracker & Cookie Crumb Crusts ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)

12/13/2020

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

IMG_7888 2Cheesecakes, 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 any ready-made crumb crusts. They taste bland to me, and that's primarily due to the fact that they're made with vegetable shortening instead of butter.  The good news is, all crumb crusts are super-quick and easy to make -- and full of buttery-rich flavor.

Crushed shortbread cookies + melted butter = a cookie crust.

IMG_7851 21  10-ounce box Lorna Doone shortbread cookies, processed to crumbs (Note:  The texture of shortbread cookies vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.  I find the delicate texture of Lorna Drooe cookies perfect for making cookie crusts.

6  tablespoons salted butter, melted (3/4 stick)

IMG_7851 IMG_7851 IMG_7851 IMG_7851~Step 1.  To prepare the shortbread cookie crust, break the cookies into small pieces and place them in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Using a series of 25-30 rapid on-off pulses process them to crumbs, then, with the motor running, process them to fine crumbs, about 10 more seconds. Transfer the shortbread cookie crumbs to a medium bowl.

IMG_7863 IMG_7863 IMG_7863 IMG_7863~Step 2.  Melt the butter in the microwave then add it to the cookie crumbs.  Using a spoon, thoroughly incorporate the butter until a moist, grainy, semi-cohesive, crumb mixture forms.

IMG_7875 IMG_7875 IMG_7875 IMG_7875~Step 3.  Transfer crumbs to a 9" pie dish. Using a tablespoon, spread mixture evenly across bottom and partially up sides of dish.  Using a wooden tart tamper, flatten/compress crumbs to form a crust across the bottom.  When the bottom is firmly in place, use the tamper (in conjunction with fingertips) to press crumbs against, and to the top of, sides of the dish.  Bake on center rack of 325° oven for 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool 45-60 minutes.

A buttery rich shortbread cookie crust -- ready for pie filling: 

IMG_7893 2An E-Z Two-Ingredient Shortbread-Cookie Pie Crust:  Recipe yields 1, 9"-round crumb crust.

Special Equipment List: food processor; tablespoon; 9" pie dish or tin; tart tamper; wire cooling rack

IMG_7966Cook's Note: Making a cheesecake pie is a quick way to quell a craving for classic cheesecake.  Sometimes known as poor man's cheesecake, this particular easy-to-make, lightly-baked cheesecake pie is remarkably resemblant of a dense, smooth, cream-cheese- and sour-cream-based New York-style cheesecake, complete with a two-ingredient, short-pastry cookie-type crust -- made with shortbread cookies.  Try my ~ Cheesecake Pie w/Lorna Done Shortbread Crust ~. 

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)

12/10/2020

~ Dark Chocolate Chip & Coconut Mounds Cookies ~

IMG_7829When it comes to Toll House cookies, aka, chocolate-chip cookies in general, there are two kinds of people:  those who add nuts and, those who do not.  I'm a nutty kinda gal.  My husband is not a nutty kinda guy.  There's more.  When it comes to Toll House cookies, aka, chocolate chip cookies in general, there are two kinds of people:  those who prefer milk chocolate, and those who prefer dark chocolate.  I'm more of a milk chocolate kinda gal.  My husband is a more of a dark chocolate kinda guy -- neither of us will turn either down though.  That said, we are both lovers of coconut, so, with or without nuts, we both go crazy for my Almond Joy and Mounds cookies.    

Who doesn't remember the Peter Paul Candy Company's 1970's TV jingle:  Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't, Almond Joy's got nuts, Mounds don't.  Ok, if you weren't of the era, you don't remember it, but the rest of us do.  Besides the packaging (blue for Almond Joy bars and red for Mounds bars), there's another, and very important, difference between these two candy bars too:  Almond Joys bars are coated in milk chocolate, Mounds bars are coated in dark chocolate.  I mention this because all the Almond Joy Cookie recipes I've seen recently call for semi-sweet chocolate morsels -- this is just plain wrong.  A wrong I am here to right -- today.

IMG_7727Almond Joys = milk chocolate.  Mounds = dark chocolate.

IMG_7734Almond Joy cookie recipes contain milk chocolate chips.  Mounds cookie recipes contain dark chocolate chips.  Got it?

IMG_77732 1/4  cups + 2 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour

1  teaspoon each:  baking powder, baking soda and 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 each: pure coconut extract, chocolate extract and vanilla extract

2  large eggs, preferably at room temperature

20  ounces Nestlē dark chocolate chips

5  ounces sweetened, flaked coconut

IMG_7782 IMG_7782 IMG_7782 IMG_7782 IMG_7795 IMG_7798 IMG_7803~Step 1.  In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients:  the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and, salt.  In a large bowl place the butter, both sugars, and both extracts.  On high-speed of hand-held electric mixer, beat until creamy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the two eggs, about 1 minute.  Lower mixer speed, add the flour and gradually incorporate it into the mixture, until a smooth, sticky dough forms.

IMG_7780 IMG_7805 IMG_7810 IMG_7814 IMG_7816 IMG_7818 2 IMG_7824~Step 2.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the dark chocolate chips, followed by the coconut.  Using a 1 1/2" ice-cream scoop as a measure, drop cookies, well-apart, onto each of 5, parchment-lined baking pans (15 per pan).

IMG_7826 IMG_7826~ Step 3.  Bake, one-pan-at-a-time on center rack of 325° oven, 11-12 minutes, until light-golden. Remove from oven and cool cookies on pan, about 2-3 minutes prior to using a small spatula to transfer to a wire cooling rack, to cool completely.

For those times when you don't feel like a nut -- go Mounds:

IMG_7842For those times when you feel like at nut -- be Joyful:

IMG_7742Dark Chocolate Chip & Coconut Mounds Cookies:  Recipe yields 6 dozen 2 1/2"-round cookies.

Special Equipment List: hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; 5, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; parchment paper; 1 1/2" ice-cream scoop; wire cooling rack; small spatula

6a0120a8551282970b0263e96d7872200bCook's Note:  For lovers of dark chocolate, ~ My Nestle Toll House Sea Salt & Caramel Cookies ~, and, ~ My Nestle Toll House Sea, Salt, Carmel, Pecan Cookies ~, are examples of one cookie made two ways: with and without nuts. When it comes to Toll House cookies, aka, chocolate chip cookies in general, there are two kinds of people:  those who add nuts (usually pecans or walnuts), and, those who do not.  I'm a nutty kinda gal.  My husband is not a nutty kinda guy.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie Preschutti/Copyright 2020)

12/07/2020

~Milk Chocolate Chip & Coconut Almond Joy Cookies~

IMG_7742Who doesn't remember the Peter Paul Candy Company's 1970's TV jingle:  Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't, Almond Joy's got nuts, Mounds don't.  Ok, if you weren't of the era, you don't remember it, but the rest of us do.  Besides the packaging (blue for Almond Joy bars and red for Mounds bars), there's another, and very important, difference between these two candy bars too:  Almond Joys bars are coated in milk chocolate, Mounds bars are coated in dark chocolate.  I mention this because all the Almond Joy Cookie recipes I've seen recently call for semi-sweet chocolate morsels -- this is just plain wrong.  A wrong I am here to right -- today.

IMG_7727Almond Joys = milk chocolate.  Mounds = dark chocolate.

IMG_7734Almond Joy cookie recipes contain milk chocolate chips.  Mounds cookie recipes contain dark chocolate chips.  Got it?

IMG_76642 1/4  cups + 2 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour

1  teaspoon each:  baking powder, baking soda and 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 each: pure almond extract, chocolate extract and vanilla extract

2  large eggs, preferably at room temperature

18  ounces Nestlē milk chocolate chips

4  ounces sliced almonds

3  ounces sweetened, flaked coconut

IMG_7667 IMG_7673 IMG_7673 IMG_7673 IMG_7673 IMG_7685 IMG_7685~Step 1.  In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients:  the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and, salt.  In a large bowl place the butter, both sugars, and both extracts.  On high-speed of hand-held electric mixer, beat until creamy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the two eggs, about 1 minute.  Lower mixer speed, add the flour and gradually incorporate it into the mixture, until a smooth, sticky dough forms.

IMG_7689 IMG_7689 IMG_7689 IMG_7689 IMG_7701 IMG_7701 IMG_7701 IMG_7701~Step 2.  Using a large rubber spatula, thoroughly fold in the milk chocolate chips, followed by the coconut, followed by the sliced almonds.  Using a 1 1/2" ice-cream scoop as a measure, drop cookies, well-apart, onto each of 5, parchment-lined, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans (15 per pan).

IMG_7718 IMG_7718~ Step 3.  Bake, one-pan-at-a-time on center rack of 325° oven, 11-12 minutes, until light-golden. Remove from oven and cool cookies on pan, about 2-3 minutes prior to using a small spatula to transfer to a wire cooling rack, to cool completely.

For those times when you feel like at nut -- be Joyful:

IMG_7758

For those times when you don't feel like a nut -- go Mounds:

IMG_7829Milk Chocolate Chip & Coconut Almond Joy Cookies:  Recipe yields 6 dozen 2 1/2"-round cookies.

Special Equipment List: hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; 5, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; parchment paper; 1 1/2" ice-cream scoop; wire cooling rack; small spatula

6a0120a8551282970b026bde9a8ba7200cCook's Note: The Nestlē Crunch Bar -- creamy milk chocolate chocked full of crunchy-crisped rice.  It, along with the Reese's peanut butter cup (milk chocolate and peanut butter) is at the top of my "favorite candy bars 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. Try my ~ Milk-Chocolate-Lovers Nestlē-Crunch-Bar Cookies ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)

12/05/2020

~ Turkey Breast Rachel on Shredded Potato Pancake ~

IMG_7639Perhaps it's a girl thing, but, when I'm lunching in a deli, I'm more inclined to order a Rachel sandwich, made with turkey breast, than I am a Reuben, made with corned beef.  There's more. While I usually order potato salad with my sandwich, if potato pancakes are on the menu, they're on my plate.  If you're a fan of a classic Rachel sandwich, and, if you love potato pancakes as much as I do, you're gonna go wild over this open-faced sandwich served on one of my pan-fried shredded hash-brown potato pan-cakes, instead of between to slices of rye bread. 

My hash brown potato pan-cakes were a happy accident:

IMG_7456I accidentally put a bag of shredded hash brown potatoes in the refrigerator instead of the freezer. What can I say, I was in a hurry that day.  Mistakes happen.  I am so glad I decided to open the bag before discarding the to-the-touch soggy mess this morning, because there was a nice surprise inside for me: glistening-white, ready-to-use, slightly-wet, shredded potatoes -- without all the time-consuming mess of doing it from scratch.  I may will never shred fresh potatoes again. It didn't take but a few minutes to deduce that my supposed shredded hash brown potato tragedy, could easily, in reality, be a triumph, which played out at the dinner table that evening.  My family gobbled them up.

They're the perfect foil for this incredible open-faced sandwich:

IMG_7611For each open-faced sandwich:

1  shredded hash brown potato pan-cake

2  ounces thin-sliced mild Swiss cheese, cut into thin julienne strips

3-4  ounces very thin-sliced deli-style turkey breast, close to room temperature (Note:  If the turkey breast is cold, it will not heat properly when the sandwich goes under the broiler.)

1-2  tablespoons Russian dressing

3-4  tablespoons creamy Russian- or Thousand Islands-dressed coleslaw, or your favorite creamy deli-style slaw

IMG_7612 IMG_7612 IMG_7612 IMG_7612~Step 1. To make each sandwich, on a broiler-safe plate (or on a baking pan lined with parchment if making multiple sandwiches), place 1-ounce of Swiss cheese julienne atop one crispy potato pan-cake.  Top with 3-4 ounces thin-sliced turkey breast, followed by another 1-ounce of Swiss.

IMG_7624 IMG_7624 IMG_7624Step 2.  Place the sandwich(es) 8"-9" underneath preheated broiler (too close and the cheese will burn) for 3-5 minutes, or until the top and bottom layer of cheese is melted.  Remove from oven.  Drizzle with some Russian dressing and top with a generous scoop of creamy coleslaw.  Serve immediately.

Grab your knife, pick up your fork, &, dig in:

IMG_7632 2Try my Corned Beef Reuben on Potato Pancake Waffle too:

IMG_7586Turkey Breast Rachel on Shredded Potato Pan-Cake: Recipe yields instructions to make as many open-faced turkey breast Rachel sandwiches as you want to.

Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; broiler-safe plate(s); baking pan (optional); parchment paper (optional)

6a0120a8551282970b0240a47161a8200dCook's Note: I crave a Reuben sandwich once or twice a year.  The Rachel sandwich, on the other hand, is: standard operating procedure in my kitchen.  My refrigerator is rarely without some thin sliced deli-turkey and/or pastrami, and, my favorite Lacey Swiss cheese -- it often has a container of semi-homemade or deli-style coleslaw in it too.  That means, with a slice or two of toasted Jewish-style rye bread, a Racheal sandwich is only a few short minutes away. ~ The Secret's in the Slaw Rachel-on-Rye Sandwich ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)

12/02/2020

~Corned Beef Reuben on My Potato Pancake Waffles~

IMG_7586If you're a fan of a classic Rueben sandwich, served atop a few of potato pancakes instead of between some rye bread, you're gonna go wild over this open-faced sandwich served on my shredded hash-brown potato-pancake waffles.  Not since lunch at a deli located somewhere in Long-Island back in the early 1970's have I enjoyed a Reuben more.  I was fifteen or sixteen, so the specifics escape me.  Our family took a Summer road trip to visit friends of my mom and dad, and, before we left town the next day, we all went to lunch at "the place with the best potato pancakes in town."  My parent's friends knew mom and dad loved potato pancakes.  It was my very first Reuben and I too ordered it made "the potato pancake way" -- I ate the entire thing.  

My potato pancake waffles were a happy accident:

IMG_7304I accidentally put a bag of shredded hash brown potatoes in the refrigerator instead of the freezer. What can I say, I was in a hurry that day.  Mistakes happen.  I am so glad I decided to open the bag before discarding the to-the-touch soggy mess this morning, because there was a nice surprise inside for me: glistening-white, ready-to-use, slightly-wet, shredded potatoes -- without all the time-consuming mess of doing it from scratch.  I may will never shred fresh potatoes again. My breakfast menu changed immediately.  Joe's sunny side up eggs with two sausage patties, stayed the same, but, his toasted English muffin turned into a side of my hash-brown waffles, and, all I had to do was drain the potatoes on a paper-towel-lined plate, dice a cup of onions, and get out my waffle maker.

They're the perfect foil for an incredible open-faced sandwich:

IMG_7541For each open-faced sandwich:

1  shredded hash brown potato pancake waffle

2 ounces thin-sliced mild Swiss cheese, cut into thin julienne strips

3-4  ounces very-thin-sliced corned beef, close to room temperature (Note:  If the corned beef is cold, it will not heat properly when the sandwich goes under the broiler.)

1-2  tablespoons Russian dressing

3-4  tablespoons warm sauerkraut 

IMG_7546 IMG_7546 IMG_7546 IMG_7546 ~Step 1.  To make each open-faced sandwich, on a broiler-safe plate (or on a baking pan lined with parchment if making multiple sandwiches), place 1-ounce of Swiss cheese julienne atop one crispy waffle.  Top with 3-4 ounces thin-sliced corned beef, followed by another 1-ounce of Swiss.

IMG_7556 IMG_7556 IMG_7556Step 2.  Place the sandwich(es) 8"-9" underneath preheated broiler (too close and the cheese will burn) for 3-5 minutes, or until the top and bottom layer of cheese is melted.  Remove from oven.  Drizzle with some Russian dressing and top with a generous scoop of warm sauerkraut.  Serve immediately.

Grab your knife, pick up your fork, &, dig in:

IMG_7605Try my Turkey Breast Rachel on Potato Pan-Cake too:

IMG_7639Corned Beef Reuben on My Potato Pancake Waffles:  Recipe yields instructions to make as many open-faced corned beef Reuben sandwiches as you want to.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; broiler-safe plate(s); baking pan (optional); parchment paper (optional)

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09ed6d31970dCook's Note: The Reuben sandwich. I crave one once or twice a year. And when I do, I don't waste time baking homemade rye bread, slow-cooking corned beef, long-simmering sauerkraut, or, whisking salad dressing.  I don't try to save time by ordering delivery or take out either -- I don't live anywhere close to a NY-style deli that can begin to make this sandwich the way I like it. I take the 10-minute drive to the store, pick up the ingredients and pass through express checkout. Store-bought everything is fine.  In about 45-minutes, I am eating my sandwich -- heaped with thin folds of meat and sloppy with sauerkraut, gooey cheese and creamy dressing on butter-crisped bread -- and I don't end up with a lot of leftover anything.  Perfect: ~ Deli Corned Beef on Swirl with Sauerkraut & Swiss ~. 

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)