Thursday, September 30, 2010

Philadelphia Cream Cheese is from New York

Not Invented in Philadelphia

One of the tidbits we learned this summer:  Philadelphia Cream Cheese originated in New York, not PA.

The first American cream cheese was made in Chester, New York --- which is located in the Hudson Valley, west of West Point on Rt. 94.   In 1872, American dairyman, William Lawrence, invented it, as the result of an unsuccessful attempt he had made to create a batch of Neufch√Ętel cheese. 

In 1880, 'Philadelphia' was adopted as the brand name, after the city that was considered at the time to be the home of top quality food.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pre-Game Grilled Pizzas by the Spinas

Grilled Pizza, 1 of 4 :  Pesto, Sausage, Olives and Cheese

Last weekend the Spinas hosted us at their home for the Syracuse-Maine football game, and they made delicious grilled pizzas as pre-game fare. 
The Spinas turned out four beautiful grilled pizzas.  Logistics have to be a strength to pull off this meal! That was my observation.  I wanted to know how to make them, so I tried to follow along with my camera.

First, Eric started out by dividing the pizza dough into fourths. 

And began rolling out the dough. 
There was a lot of discussion about how thick to make them. They decided to go thinner, rather than thicker.

They use a pizza pan made for the grill. 

Meanwhile, Karen began roasting the vegetables on the grill and preparing the line-up of ingredients for the toppings.

One side of the pizza is grilled for about 3 - 5 minutes, it turned over for another 3 - 5 minutes, and then it is removed.

Here is Pizza No. 1  ready to have its toppings applied, while Eric rolls out No. 4.

Pizzas No. 2 and 3 are on the grill being toasted.  Pre-grilling the dough keeps the pizza crispy.
The pesto sauce goes down first.

Then the olives, sausage and cheese for Pizza No. 1.

Pizza No. 2 is all veggies on top of the pesto along with fresh basil.  Yum!

The trick is to grill the pizza again until all the toppings melt together without burning the crust.

They go back on the grill without the pans.

The crust comes out crusty on the outside, yet still tender on the inside.

We had a smorgasbord of flavors.

Including this delicious chicken pizza.  They were all fantastic!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Spot Coffee

If you are looking for a great cup of coffee and a place to land with your laptop while in Buffalo, definitely check out Spot Coffee while you are there.  This one is on Elmwood Ave, just down the block from Penzey's Spices.

The atmosphere is funky and fun.  The Elmwood location is an old grocery store.

The crowd tends to be younger and the place is noisy, but the coffee is great and we hear the food is, too.

Sarah got us hooked on Spot coffee when she brought us a pound of freshly ground beans as a housegift.  Now we stop and buy some to take home whenever we visit her.  They give you an empty bag which you then fill with your selection from this bank of beans.  They grind it for you to your specifications.

It's great coffee.  I have been a fan of Peet's for many years, and used to mail-order it until Wegman's started carrying it, but Spot has Peet's (and Starbuck's and Dunkin Donuts) beat, as far we are concerned.  Mostly because Spot is not bitter, yet richly flavored.  And it's from New York!

You can learn more about Spot coffee at

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Beer Can Chicken Meal for Sarah

After a long and hot summer, our daughter Sarah delivered her third child, our third grandchild, just a couple of weeks ago.  While recovering in the hospital, I asked what would taste good to her when she came home.  She said she had a craving for all things chicken: roasted, grilled, nuggets, wings! (she does live in Buffalo after all)  So a technique that she had never tasted, and I have made a couple of times, was the perfect solution.  I decided to make beer can chicken.

Beer can chicken was actually introduced to us a few years ago while visiting Barbara's sister in Denver.  Her husband made it for us, and it was delicious.  The technique is very simple and adds incredible moistness to a roasted chicken.

The Ingredients:

~4 lb whole chicken - giblets removed and discarded
 Any dry rub that you have in your spice rack.  I used a turkey seasoning dry rub mixture.
 1 can of beer

Wash the chicken thoroughly after you have removed the giblets from the inside cavity.  Pat it dry inside and out.

Now sprinkle the dry rub, salt and pepper all over the chicken, inside and outside.  Rub it into the skin and cavity.

Now the really important part, open the beer can and take a couple of big gulps of the beer.  If you do not like to drink beer, then just dump about half of the can down the drain.  Many will consider this a waste of good beer, but what sacrifices you are willing to do for your gourmet meals.

Carefully stand the chicken on the beer can with the legs pointing down.  Push the chicken down onto the beer can as far as it will go being careful to not tip over the bird and the beer.  In essence you are forming a tripod with the two chicken legs and the can of beer.  Make sure it really does stand up and is fairly well balanced.  This may require a little leg repositioning.

You can bake this bird at 350 degrees or grill it.  I chose to grill it on low heat, which was about 350-375 degrees.  Either way, for a four pound chicken it will take about 1 hour 15 minutes.  It is done when a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees.
Remove from the grill or oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes.
We made creamy Orzo with Proscuitto and Asparagus to go with it.

And a big spinach salad.

After it has rested for at least 15 minutes, carve the chicken and serve.  This chicken fed four adults and two children with leftovers for the next day.  Enjoy this very easy technique for preparing moist and flavorful chicken.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Don't Do This


Not all of my experiments turn out as I hope they will.  This is one that really surprised me.    Doesn't it look like a pretty combination?

I roasted a pork tenderloin with red grapes from the farm stand, garlic, grape jelly, red pepper flakes and rosemary.

Well, it was awful!  I have never tried roasting anything with fresh grapes or grape jelly before. Look how much juice there is! It became a boiled meat.  Yikes!

I tried this when I was still at the lake and Tom was traveling.  I thought I'd use up what we had on hand.  I ate a few pieces then put the rest of it in the freezer.  Tom is lucky he missed this experiment. 

Now I have to think up how to salvage the meat.  I will probably shred it up and coat it with Dijon mustard, and then a smokey BBQ sauce, and put it in a wrap or a quesadilla.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Low and Slow Sauteed Sweet Potatoes

Sauteing Sweet Potatoes

I heard on Dr. Oz that sweet potatoes are one the best foods for you.  But I don't really like the texture of them when they are baked like a regular potato.  So, I thought I would try sauteing them low and slow like you do when you caramelize onions.

I used one sweet potato and cut in 1/4 inch slices, then heated a little olive oil in a skillet, laid them out in one layer, then cooked the slices low and slow.  Start with your pan hot and then turn it down to low for the remainder of the time.

It took me about 20 -25 minutes to get them nicely browned on both sides.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.

They were so good!  I am going to be making them this way instead of roasting them.  They are firm on the outside and soft on the inside, sort of like a french fry, but healthier.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Best Meal of the Summer

I am still thinking about this meal a month later so I have decided that I have to blog about it. 

This night was extra special.  The weather was perfect.  It was a beautiful summer evening -- not too hot, not too cold, low humidity ---and we got to eat outside surrounded by twinkling lights.  The mix of people was great. Everyone was relaxed and in a good mood.  Lots of stories were told.  The food was fantastic.  There was great wine to go with it.  Magic!

Sharkey Salmon Fest
We were lucky enough to be invited to the Sharkey Salmon Fest, where their son Matt's Alaskan king salmon, caught earlier in the summer, was to be the star.  I say "was" because the whole meal was a star, not just the fish!
Planked Alaskan King Salmon
The salmon was truly superb.  John grilled it on cedar planks.  It was a beautiful color, succulent, and unlike any salmon we can get around here. 

The wine was also outstanding.

Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake
Chris's desserts were unbelievable.

Lemon Raspberry Ladyfinger Cake
Not one, but two, fantastic confections.

Rice Pilaf with Peas, Celery and Toasted Almonds

And the rice dish was an old favorite of Chris's. I had forgotten about it.  The first time I had it was over twenty plus years ago when she brought it to a Twister event at CMoG.  I will post the recipe for it some day.  It is really good.  The dressing has a little sesame seed oil in it. 

Etta's Cornbread Pudding
Another treat was the decadent cornbread pudding.  It is a recipe from Etta's, a Tom Douglas restaurant.  It is a savory dish made with baked cornbread. It is baked again with cheese, herbs, cream and eggs.  It would be excellent as a Thanksgiving dish. 

Steamed Broccoli

The steamed broccoli with lemon was one of Tom's favorite parts of the meal.  And we had local tomatoes, which were at their peak, with mozzarella. 

Chris and John created a wonderful meal and evening that will be savored for a long time.  And congrats to Matt for catching the beautiful salmon on his trip to Alaska with his dad!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Christine's Zucchini Frittata

Zucchini Frittata

About a month ago, my sister, Christine, sent in this zucchini ricipe which I have been wanting to try.  Yesterday was the day. I had to vary the ingredients to suit what I had on hand, but it is a very good, easy recipe. I like it because I can have it for dinner with a salad when I am on my own, and then have the leftovers for breakfast, too.  Tom had it this morning before he took off on his way to "work" and said he liked it. 

Hi Barb,

My zucchinis are starting to produce a lot so time to try new recipes! I have made a lot of breads, cakes and brownies but decided to try this frittata recipe. I have both yellow and green zucchinis and with the corn and sun dried tomatoes , it was yummy and different. Very healthy too!

From my Coastal New England Summertime Cooking Cookbook by Sherri Eldridge.

Zucchini Frittata

1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cups sliced zucchini
2 tablespoons finely minced sun dried tomatoes
4 tablespoons finely chopped onions
1 cup corn kernels
6-7 egg whites(I used 6 whole eggs)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dill
2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon paprika
(I would add a touch of salt)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 8" x 11" glass or ceramic oven dish with non-stick spray.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine olive oil, zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, onion and corn. Cover pan, and allow moisture from zucchini to lightly steam vegetables( about 10 minutes).

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs or egg whites, pepper, dill (and a pinch of salt). Stir in cooked vegetables and cheese. Pour into oven dish and sprinkle with paprika. Bake 15 minutes, or until eggs are set up.

Makes 4 servings.

Notes from Barbara:  I used an 8 x 8 square baking dish, and just put the veggies in the pan, layered on the cheese, and poured the egg mixture over and grated a little Parmesan on top.  I used oregano instead of dill, shallots instead of onions, and mozzarella instead of cheddar cheese. I was short one egg so I added a little water, which makes egg dishes fluffier anyway, but I still didn't have enough eggs to cover all of my veggies.  Mine took about 25 minutes to cook.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ben and Jerry's Hot Fudge Sauce by Jeanne

I haven’t contributed to the blog in some time. Here’s my contribution. It’s a recipe for Ben and Jerry’s Hot Fudge Sauce, from their ice cream book. It’s pretty easy to make, but does take some time and attention. I can’t recall the number of times I’ve made it in a pinch for dinner parties. I can make it at the same time I am doing other prep work in the kitchen. It’s always a hit and by the end of dessert most guests are simply dipping their spoons in the bowl of hot fudge sauce for more!

I made it a few weeks ago and yep, dipping of spoons in the bowl at the end of the evening (just ask Alan).

I use Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate and cut down on the sugar a bit. Unsweetened chocolate isn’t the easiest to find here in Taipei.

Any leftovers are stored in the refrigerator and I microwave what I need to heat it up. When you reheat it, you really need to bring the temperature up and stir it well. It takes awhile for all that sugar to dissolve back into the sauce!


Ben and Jerry's Hot Fudge Sauce


· 4 oz unsweetened chocolate
· 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
· 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
· 2 cups sugar
· 1/2 cup milk
· 1/2 cup heavy cream or whipping cream


In double boiler, melt chocolate and butter, stirring frequently. Whisk in cocoa powder until dissolved.
Gradually stir in sugar; the mixture will resemble wet sand. Cook over simmering water for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check water level of double boiler, adding more if necessary.

Gradually stir in milk and cream. Continue stirring until completely blended. Continue cooking for 1 hour, stirring and checking water level occasionally. The sauce is ready when completely smooth and all sugar is dissolved.

Yields 1 quart

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Grilled Steak with Portobellos and Sesame-Ginger Sauce

Grilled Steak with Portobellos and Sesame-Ginger Sauce

This combination turned out well, so I thought I'd post it on the blog for future reference.  I took the flavors that I saw in a recipe in the Cooking Light cookbook (it was a Vietnamese stir-fry done on the stove top) and reworked it to suit us for summer grilling. 
The cookbook used these ingredients as a mojo to serve with the dish, but I used them as a marinade for the meat.  It is a very bright, lemony marinade that would work well on its own, for meat or chicken.   Do this a couple of hours before your meal or overnight.
cilantro leaves
mint leaves
a little water
olive oil
fresh lemon  juice -- I used a whole lemon

Next I snapped the greens and washed them.  Tom put them in an aluminum foil packet, with a little salt and butter, to grill them. 

To prepare the portobellos, just remove any grit and dirt with a dry paper towel, and cut off the tough part of the stem.  Oil them lightly so they won't stick to the grill.

To make the sesame-ginger sauce, you will need lots of green onions(scallions), fresh ginger, honey, brown sugar, sesame oil (light or dark), soy sauce, nutmeg(yum!), and garlic.

Clean and slice the bunch of scallions into small rounds.

Then mix together the remaining ingredients:  1/4 c. soy sauce, 1.5 T. freshly grated ginger, 1 T. brown sugar, 1 T. sesame oil, 1/8 t. nutmeg, and 1 minced garlic clove.  You could also put it into a processor if you would prefer a smoother sauce.
Tom grilled everything beautifully.  I  liked the fact that it was all done on the grill, especially on a hot day, so I don't have to heat up the kitchen. 

We used an expensive cut of meat, a round steak, because the cookbook recommended it, and thinking the marinade would break it down, but it was a little too chewy for us, plus I had to remove a bunch of streaks of fat before we cooked it.   Flank steak will be better next time.

The portobellos' earthiness goes very well with the bright lemony marinade of the meat, and the nutty sesame sauce is slightly sweet, but has a little kick due to the ginger, and is very aromatic. Loved the hint of nutmeg. The green beans added a nice crunch and some color to the meal.