Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hearty vegetable soup with fresh herbs

         Hearty Vegetable Soup

    15 oz can red kidney beans
      32 oz canned whole tomatoes, cut up
      15 oz canned great northern beans 
       15 oz garbanzo beans
       15 oz canned diced new potatoes
       2 c  water  
       2  ea onions, large, chopped
       3 ea green peppers, medium/large,  chopped   
       3  ea  celery stalks, sliced
       1 large Zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into inch long chunks
       3  carrots sliced in ¼ inch rounds
       3 ea Cloves garlic, minced
        Fresh herbs (chives, oregano, basil, rosemary, tarragon, sage and thyme.) 
        or 2 ts each dried basil, oregano, thyme, tarragon crushed   
        14 ounces Little Smokies, diced (optional)
        1/4 ts Pepper
        1 ea Bay leaf      
         ½ cup ditalini pasta      

Combine the undrained tomatoes, undrained beans, water, all of the vegetables, except for the zucchini 
in a 4-quart Dutch oven.  Bring to boil and add the sausage and reduce the heat to simmer. Mince the fresh herbs and garlic and add to the simmering soup.
Cover and simmer for about 1 hour or until vegetables. are tender.  
Uncover, add the zucchini and ditalini and simmer for another 20 minutes.

Buttermilk Cornmeal Muffins

1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
2  eggs
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 400*F.
Have ready 12 greased and or paper-lined muffin cups.
In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk and cornmeal; set aside.
In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and melted butter; add the cornmeal mixture and mix well.
Add to the flour mixture just until combined; do not overmix.
Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 cup full; bake 15 minutes.
Serve warm.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sounds like a weird way to poach, but don't be a chicken and try it

crappy photo - something on the lens..

Plastic wrapped poached Chicken for Chicken Salad

4 eight oz boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, (or 2 pounds)
Black pepper
microwaveable plastic wrap

1 Trim all the fat from the chicken breasts and slice them in half,  lengthwise.
2 Bring a pot of water (2 1/2 quarts of water, 4 quart pot) to a simmer.

3 Roll out a long sheet of plastic wrap at least twice as long as the chicken breast slices. Place 1 chicken strip on the plastic wrap, sprinkle with salt and pepper, in the middle. Roll up the chicken in the plastic wrap tightly. Compress as much air out of the chicken as you can as you roll it. Once the chicken is rolled up, rotate it on your cutting board or counter several times to tighten the cylinder even more. Tie the loose ends of the plastic wrap together in a double knot. Repeat until all the chicken strips are wrapped.

4 Once the water has reached a simmer, turn the burner to the lowest setting - the water should be barely bubbling. Drop the rolled-up chicken cylinders in the pot. Cover the pot and let the chicken steep for 15 minutes.Turn the burner off and let the chicken sit in the hot water for an additional 15 minutes.

5 To make the chicken salad,  snip off the tied ends of the plastic wrap, and unwrap.

Note that there will be some juice inside the plastic wrap with the chicken, which has lots of flavor. So you might want to unwrap the chicken pieces over a bowl or something to catch the juice, which you can then pour over the chicken if you want. Or serve the chicken with a sauce of your choice.

 Rye Sandwich Rolls

2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoons dark corn syrup
1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1  cup scalded milk
1 cups rye flour
2 to 2-1/4 unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1-1/4 cups water

1) Place yeast in a large bowl. Add water and stir to dissolve. Stir in corn syrup and let sit until yeast begins to foam, about 5 minutes. Add caraway seeds, salt, oil, scalded milk and rye flour. Beat well.
2) Add remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Let rest for 15 minutes. Turn dough onto a floured board and knead for 10 to 15 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Turn into a greased bowl and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
3) Grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper. Set aside. Preheat 400 degree F.
4) Dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup water. Bring remaining 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add dissolved cornstarch and cook until thickened. Set aside.
4) Divide dough into 6 equal-sized pieces. Shape into hamburger or hot dog-style rolls and place on baking sheet.  Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Brush tops of buns with glaze; bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Yield: 6 large sandwich rolls.

Tip, if you add too much flour, the rolls will be tough and dry. The dough should be soft rather than stiff.

Friday, February 3, 2012

New York Cheesecake with Strawberry Glaze

The moral to this story is don't rush your cheesecake.

It's not hard to see the fissures I tried to mask with glaze, but I baked this cake for my birthday so the way it looked was no big deal. I know a lot of people preach about presentation and how we eat with our eyes first, but I think this is hooey. Speaking for myself, as long as what I am eating tastes good and is reasonably identifiable and doesn't look like something the cat hacked up, I'm satisfied.

In the spirit of full disclosure though, I have to admit that most of my cakes/desserts taste great but look better from a distance or with one eye shut.

A recently discovered relative in London, Christina Hilton, makes the most beautiful cakes I have ever seen: http://www.simplygawjuscreations.com/
This is obviously one gene we do not share.

I could have had a totally different post if Ihad only slowed down a bit and taken the time to make sure I had gotten the air bubbles from the batter before putting the cake in the oven.

Absolutely The Best New York Cheesecake



2 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (two wrapped packages from a 14 oz box)

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened


40 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature (five 8 oz pkgs)

1 1/2 cups sugar

16 ounces sour cream, room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla


8 oz. frozen strawberries

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 Tbs. lemon juice

1 Tbs. cornstarch

3 Tbs. water


Make the crust by crumbling the grahm crackers in your food processor. Add the sugar and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse a few times to mix thoroughly.
Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375. Put two inches of water in a baking pan large enough to hold your springform pan and let the pan and water warm in the preheating oven while you make the batter.

Prep a 9 or 10-inch springform pan by place two large sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil on counter. Place the locked pan in center and raise up the foil to top rim. 

Using some firm butter, fill in the inside lower rim of pan, using your finger to form a smooth lining. (like caulking a bathtub). Place in freezer for 10 minutes then press the prepared graham cracker crumbs onto the bottom of the pan then put it back into the freezer while you make the cheesecake batter.

Beat cream cheese and sugar till smooth. Add sour cream, then eggs (one at a time).

Add remaining ingredients. Mix on medium speed until well incorporated (about three minutes), scraping down sides of bowl several times while mixing to prevent lumps).

Remove the springform pan from freezer. Place pan onto a dishcloth onto counter and pour batter into pan. (So it's not 'loud' when you temp it).

With your palms around the outside rim of the pan, GENTLY lift and drop down pan onto the towel. Rotate an inch or so and repeat a few times to raise and release air bubbles from batter. (this will help keep your cheesecake from cracking and obviously the step I screwed up).

Set the springform pan into a water bath. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. WITHOUT opening oven door, reduce temperature to 250 degrees for an additional two hours or until center of cake registers 150F with a digital thermometer.

Remove from oven, water bath, and outer foil. DO NOT unlock the springform pan! Place on cooling rack for 30 minutes.

Make the glaze:

Put the 1/2 cup of water, strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil, mashing the berries with a wooden spoon to release their juice.. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
Let cool slightly then strain the liquid from the strawberries. Press on the solids to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. return the liquid to the pan.

Bring the liquid back up to a simmer. Whisk 3 tablespoons of water into the cornstarch and then pour it into the simmering liquid.

Increase heat and whisk until the glaze comes to boil. Continue to whisk while the glaze boils and thickens, about 5 minutes. Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool. Once the glaze has cooled down, place it in the refrigerator to chill.

Loosen cake from sides by going between the cake and the pan with the edge of a knife. Refrigerate for at MINIMUM of four hours but overnight is best. Cooled glaze can be poured onto the cake after it has been refrigerated for about 2 hours. If you want to get fancy, top the cheesecake with thinly slices fresh strawberries before applying the glaze.

 Unlock and remove the side of pan.