Friday, April 11, 2014

A Sip of Zen

April Showers Bring May Flowers by Emily Beverly

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Thai Chicken and Rice by Tom

Thai Chicken and Rice by Tom

This is a simple, easy to make meal.  All in, it took me about 30 minutes to pull together.  Not spicy, but the right amount of Thai flavoring.  This will be a new "go to" meal for us.


Thai Chicken and Rice
(Cooking Light)

Serves 4

1-2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 sweet onion, cut into 1/4" wedges
1 can coconut milk
1 teaspoon red curry paste
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 - 1 1/2 lb. boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite size pieces
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 small bottle roasted red bell peppers, drained and coarsely chopped
salt to taste
1 cup basmati or jasmine rice prepared per the directions on the package

Slice up the onions into small wedges.  These will break apart when you sauté them.

Trim the excess fat from the boneless chicken thighs, and cut into bite sized pieces.

On a separate cutting board, drain the roasted red peppers and coarsely chop them.  Coarsely chop the cilantro as well.  It is important to not use the same cutting board that you chopped the chicken on for food safety reasons.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Meanwhile start the rice, which will be the base that the Thai-style chicken will be served on.  Sauté the onions until they start to turn golden in color.  This requires that you stir them often so that they do not burn.  This will take about 7-10 minutes.
Now add the coconut milk, curry paste and the black pepper.  Stir this up and bring to a near boil.

Now add the chicken and stir into the mixture.  Make sure all of the chicken is covered.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for about 8-10 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked through.
Finally add the roasted red peppers, the fish sauce and the cilantro and cook for another minute or two.  At the end of this step, taste to determine if it needs some salt.  I added about a quarter teaspoon of salt to my concoction.
Put the rice into the bottom of a large bowl or pasta dish, and ladle the Thai-style chicken mélange over the rice.  Be sure to add some of the liquid to the bowl for added taste.


Monday, April 7, 2014

A Sip of Zen

High Flying by Emily Beverly

Friday, April 4, 2014

Beef Stroganoff with Onions and Mushrooms

Beef Stroganoff with Onions and Mushrooms

A yummy version of the traditional beef stroganoff.  The onions and beef are slow cooked --- in a crockpot or oven ---  then you saute the mushrooms with some thyme and add the sour cream to make a velvety sauce.  

Beef Stroganoff is a Russian dish, from the 18th century, named after the Stroganoffs, a wealthy merchant family, but the cook who developed it was French.

Beef Stroganoff with Onions, Mushrooms and Sour Cream

1.5 lbs. sirloin, round or other stew beef
salt and pepper
1 large onion, sliced in rounds
2 T. tapioca
1-2 T. of dried bread crumbs
1 14 ounce can of beef broth

12 ounces of sliced mushrooms
1-2 T. of butter
dried thyme, about 1 - 2 t.
salt and pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped parsley

rice or egg noodles, cooked per the package

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
 In a 2 qt. casserole with a cover, add the stew beef  (seasoned with salt and pepper). Slice an onion on top.
Add 2 T. of tapioca.  Tapioca is added to the pot along with the beef broth to give it some body. 

Sprinkle bread crumbs on top.
Pour in a can of beef broth.
and put it in the oven - - covered -- for 3 hours on 325 degrees.  Or in a crockpot.    Then remove and keep warm while you prepare the mushroom and sauce.

Melt 1 - 2 T. of butter in a pan large enough for everything, then saute the mushrooms with a little thyme until they were soft and browned but not mushy.  You want some texture.

Add a little salt, and pepper to taste.

Mix in the contents of the casserole -- the onions and beef mixture.
Then add the sour cream , gently heating until warm.
Stir in sour cream and gently heat.  Toss in lots of chopped parsley --- don't skip the parsley --- we used 1/4 cup or more.  
Serve immediately over rice.  Or egg noodles.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Yankee Maple Corn Muffins

The key to a good muffin is to gently fold the wet into the dry ingredients -- just until mixed.  

This is an old-fashioned corn muffin sweetened with maple syrup.  Definitely not a cupcake if that's what you are looking for.  It is best served warm with more butter or a favorite jam.  

Yankee Maple Corn Muffins
(Muffins by Elizabeth Alston)

2 cups flour
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 T. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
4 T. butter, melted
2 T. butter, melted to brush tops after baking

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease muffin cups. Get all of your ingredients out.  Eggs are best for baking at room temperature.  
Thoroughly mix flour, corn meal, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
Whisk eggs and brown sugar in another bowl until smooth.  
Add milk and maple syrup and whisk to mix.
Pour over dry ingredients and add 4 T. of the melted butter.
Fold in with a rubber spatula just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Scoop batter into prepared cups.  Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown and firm in center.
Let cool in pan 5 minutes.
Brush tops with remaining melted butter.


Monday, March 31, 2014

A Sip of Zen

Lake Thoughts by Emily Beverly

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Chicken Fingers for Adults

 Panko Chicken Fingers with Hoisin Sauce

When we last visited our grandkids, they were served chicken fingers in case they didn't like the meal which was corned beef.  Two out of three chose the chicken fingers.

Have to admit I was a little bit jealous of the simplicity of their meal.   They got to eat with their fingers and have fun dipping them in the ketchup.

So, while Tom was traveling this week, I made some for myself.  A grown up version.
Panko crumbs make them extra crispy on the outside and the buttermilk egg batter make them moist on the inside.

They are really good!

Chicken Fingers

1.5 lbs chicken tenders
1 egg
1 T. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup buttermilk
salt and pepper
Panko bread crumbs -- about 1 1/2 cups

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Add a non-stick cooling rack to a baking sheet.
Mix together the egg, buttermilk, and Dijon mustard.
Add a little salt and pepper.
Lightly salt the chicken tenders --- dip them, then coat them in the panko crumbs.
Place them on the non-stick rack.
Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes.
Until well browned.
Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice.  I chose hoisin sauce, which I thinned with a little water and heated up in the microwave.  You could use ketchup, BBQ sauce or make a honey Dijon sauce.

They freeze and reheat well.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Maple Syrup the Old-fashioned Way

After a long snowy winter, the temperature has been fluctuating enough for the sap in the maple trees to start to run and it is time to make maple syrup.  

This weekend is Maple Weekend for the NYS growers.  Here's a link to their map if you want to visit a sugar shack:

One of my most popular blog posts has been: Why is Real Maple Syrup so Expensive?  

The answer is due to the cost of collecting and boiling down the sap into syrup.  

It takes about 60 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup!

I have a very old New York State teachers guide --- that's where I found this photo --  it was published in 1904  --- and it talks about the "old days"  --- before they had modern buckets.  They used to use wooden buckets. 

Galvanized metal buckets were new technology in 1904!

Maple Syrup Pipeline
I wonder what they would think 110 years later about the plastic tubing that runs from the trees directly to the maple house.  


Monday, March 24, 2014

Veal Marsala

Veal Marsala
We are seeing veal in the grocery store this time of year, so on Sunday,  I made Veal Marsala for Tom, as a treat, before he left town to see his parents.  I've made veal marsala over the years.  I don't really have a recipe, but I'll show you how I do it.
The main flavoring agent is Marsala wine.  It is a specific flavor ---kind of like a port wine--- and not expensive to buy.  There are two versions:  dry and sweet.  Either works well.

It is a beautiful gold color, and when combined with the brown bits from pan-frying the veal, you get a beautiful rich sauce.  

Veal Marsala

thinly sliced veal (or chicken)
a tub of mushrooms -- the older the better, for flavor
Marsala wine --- about a cup
butter --  1 to 2 T.
flour for dredging
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  Place a plate in it to warm up.  This is key.  You will need to keep the meat warm while you cook the mushrooms and make the sauce.
Get all of your ingredients out.  You will need to move quickly and be organized.  If you are making vegetables or rice or pasta to go with it, then get them going , i.e., cook them simultaneously so everything arrives at the table at the same time and hot.  I usually make French green beans because I know they take about 12 minutes to cook and I can stretch them to 15 minutes if needed by lowering the heat.
Importantly, pat the meat dry on both sides.   Place some flour on a sheet of wax paper or wide plate, like a pie plate.  Season the meat and the flour with a little salt and pepper.  Not too much.
In a large fry pan,  add olive oil and a little butter until very hot.
Dredge the meat in flour and shake off the excess and then place in the hot pan.  Do the dredging just before you place it in the pan or I think your coating will be gummy, if you don't.

Don't overcrowd the meat.  Do it in batches -- 2 or 3 at a time.
Do them in batches and place in warm oven.  Only takes about a minute per side.
Do you second batch.  Don't overcook but be sure to get them browned.  Otherwise they will taste like raw flour.
Then, add a cup of Marsala to the pan -- avoid catching the alcohol on fire as you do -- you can shut off the flame underneath or remove the pan from the stove while you add the Marsala
and scrape up all of the brown bits from pan-frying the meat.
Add the mushrooms, and season with salt -- just a little
then cook down for about 5-10 minutes until mushrooms are cooked and the sauce turns glossy.
You can add a little more butter if you want.   Remove the meat from the oven, and add your veggie to each plate.
Then pour the sauce over the meat. 

If you aren't a veal fan, then you can use chicken instead. Place small slices of chicken breast between sheets of wax paper and pound them uber thin.