Saturday, April 30, 2011

My New Gadget

My new gadget is an old-fashioned timer.

Don't know about you, but I have a habit of putting the oven timer on, leaving the kitchen, then becoming distracted, only to realize that the buzzer has gone off, but I didn't hear it, until something begins to gnaw at me.

Then I realize that the electric timer has been beeping every 30 seconds to remind me, "Beep! Beep! You have forgotten to pull me out of the oven!"  So, I jump up and dash in there hoping I have not ruined what I was baking.

Problem solved.  Now I take my new timer with me as back-up. It has a magnet on the back, too, so you can attach it to the fridge. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Alternative Meatloaf

Alternative Meatloaf
 Ready to Bake, No Pan, Drizzled with Molasses

This recipe started out as beef kabobs appetizers from The Mayo Clinic Cookbook, but became one of our favorite, alternative, meat loaf recipes. By alternative, I mean non-traditional, the way that music is alternative. This is not your childhood meatloaf, however, children will probably like it.

My notes say that the stars lined up during the summer of 2005, when Christine was visiting us at the lake. We invented it together from what we had on hand. No breadcrumbs, but I had a box of grouts (buckwheat kashi), for example.  I distinctly remember when she said, "Let's put molasses on top." She said that she learned to put molasses on meatloaf from Laddie. It was brilliant. It makes this dish.

Christine also showed me how to cook a meatloaf without a loafpan. Also brilliant! So, I will show you, in case you have never tried to make a free-standing meatloaf, sans pan.

Alternative Meatloaf
invented by C & B, summer of 2005

1 large onion, chopped
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 cup buckwheat groats (kashi)
1.5 pounds very lean ground beef (or a mix of beef, pork and veal)
1/4  to 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
2 t. salt
1 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cardamon
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
1 egg, lightly

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a cookie sheet or roasting pan with aluminum foil.  It is better use one with a rim, unlike I did, to minimize spills. 

Saute onions lightly, add garlic at the end and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, toast pine nuts,

and add groats, other spices to large bowl.

Add the cooled onion mix.

Add the cooled pine nuts.

Loosely combine with a spatula, then add egg to bind the whole thing together.

Turn out on to a shallow baking pan and form a free-standing loaf.

Drizzle with molasses.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for about 1 1/4 hours or until 180 degrees.

 Let stand for 15 minutes before slicing.

Use that time to make your sides -- like green beans and corn.

Then slice and serve.

David was over for dinner and loved it, and went back for seconds.

I hope you will try it!  The spice mix is unusual, a nice change from traditional meatloaf. And the pine nuts add great texture and flavor and are worth the cost.  Can you believe how expensive pine nuts are these days?


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Giada's Easy Mashed Potatoes by Colleen

Hi Barb,

The recipe for the bread and the potatoes both looked yummy.

I wanted to share a recipe for potatoes that can't beat your cream and cheese version, but is none-the-less good and slightly less caloric and very very easy. I saw Giada do this on TV years ago while I was working out at the gym. You get a similar flavor profile, but without the work or all the calories. And it is quick to do.


Giada’s Easy Mashed Potatoes

Wash and clean new (red) potatoes of any dark spots or eyes. About 1-2 lbs depending on how many people you have. No need to peel.

Cut into smaller chunks if the potatoes are large. Put in pot of salted cold water and bring to a boil. You can throw in a coarsely chopped shallot or a couple of peeled garlic cloves if you want, but not necessary.

Cook until potatoes are tender.

Drain water but be sure to reserve 1-2 cups of the cooking water.

Mash the potatoes/garlic with a masher and stir in some olive oil (about 2-4 tablespoons). Add in about 1/4- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Incorporate the oil and cheese. If the potatoes are too stiff add in some cooking water in small amounts until you get the consistency of potatoes you like.

You can easily adapt this recipe- use goat cheese instead of Parmesan. Add chopped oil-cured olives. Add chopped parsley or basil.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Three Potato Gratin

An Oldie but Goldie:  Three Potato Gratin

This dish is so rich that we serve it only on special occasions, usually with ham. It is made of layers of three types of potatoes in a creamy cheese sauce infused with garlic.  We've been making it since 1999.  It's an oldie but goldie.

Three Potato Gratin
an Emeril Lagasse's recipe, circa 1999

1 lb. of red potatoes (approx. 2 large or 3 small equals one pound)
1 lb. of baking potatoes
1 lb. of sweet potatoes (the white ones, not yams which are orange)
1 quart heavy cream
2 heads of garlic, cut in half, with paper still on
2 cups of good quality Italian cheese mix (Parmesan, Reggiano, etc.)
White Pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a saucepan, cover the garlic halves with the quart of heavy cream, add salt and pepper.  Simmer for 15 minutes until it is infused with garlic and the cream has reduced by about a quarter. 

Meanwhile, grease a 2 quart casserole generously with butter.  The slice the potatoes into 1/4 slices.  Place one layer of potato #1 on the bottom.  Season with salt, lightly.  Add cheese.  Add another layer.  Season.  Add cheese.  Repeat until your casserole is full. 

End with the cheese as the last layer on top. 

Keep an eye on your cream and don't let it boil over like I did.  Strain the cream to remove the garlic.  Pour it over the casserole. 

Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

Uncover, then contine to bake until golden brown on top, about 15 minutes longer.

Let stand for 15 minutes or more before serving.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Stecca by Emily and Barbara

Stecca (which means "stick" in  Italian) Bread

Emily was visiting over the weekend, a nice treat for us.  While helping me with the No-Knead bread I had started, she got interested in another bread in Jim Lahey's great book, My Bread, on page 77 called Stecca.

So, we took a mid-course correction, and adapted the recipe.  Usually I put the dough in a preheated cast iron skillet. 

Instead Emily divided the dough into quarters then stretched it into four strands, and placed them on a large cookie sheet.
She studded two loaves with Tom's stash of olives and the other two with windowsill cherry tomato halves

I brushed the loaves with good olive oil and sea salt.

We baked them at 500 degrees, for 15 minutes, then checked them but they were still pale.  At 20 minutes, they became golden brown.  So we removed them and cooled them on wire racks.


adapted from Jim Lahey's, My Bread 

Ingredients for the dough:
3 cups bread flour
1 1/4 t. table salt
1/4 t. active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups cool water (55 to 65 degrees)
cornmeal for dusting

pitted olives, black and green
ripe sweet cherry tomatoes
olive oil
sea salt

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt and yeast.  Add water, stir with a spoon to mix into a very wet dough.  If it isn't wet, add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of water to be sure it is.  Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours, until surface is dotted with bubbles.

Dust a work surface with flour, then turn out the sticky dough, pull it together from the sides until all the sticky bits pinch together in the middle.  Turn it over.  Should be soft and round and the seam will be underneath. 

Open up a clean tea towel, dust it very well with cornmeal, and place the dough in the center of the cornmeal, seam side down. The cornmeal is to keep the dough from sticking to the towel.  Dust the top of the dough with more cornmeal, then cover by folding over the corners of the towel.  Place in a warm, draft free location to let the dough rise again until doubled.  Will take about 2 hours.  You can tell it is done if you touch it and it holds the impression.

Cut the dough in quarters.  Oil a large cookie sheet.  Carefully stretch and form four loaves and place them one inch apart on the cookie sheet.  Stud them with the olives and tomatoes.  Push them in deeply or they will fall out.  Brush generously with olive oil and salt the tomatoes.  The olives don't really need more salt but if you like salt, do them too.

Emily suggests other toppings:  red peppers, artichokes, olives stuffed with garlic.  Tom suggests peppadews, and salamis.

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Royal" Scones by McJane

Hi Barbara

In honor of the royal wedding, I'm trying this recipe from yesterday's Star Gazette this week!

You doing anything "royal" this week?



English Scones

2 ¾ C all-purpose flour
1/3 C sugar
4 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
10 T butter, melted
1 C heavy cream
¼ C sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ C dried fruit, nuts, or chocolate chips
Course sugar optional

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the melted butter and stir until well distributed. Add cream sour cream and vanilla. Mix until almost combined, then add the fruit etc until just distributed.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, Pat the dough into a circle about ¾ in. thick and 10 in across. Cut the circle into 8 wedges, then transfer each wedge to the prepared baking sheet. Chill 15-30 min.

While scones chill, heat the oven to 400 F. Sprinkle top of scones with coarse sugar if desired. Bake 20-25 min. Cool.

I hope McJane and anyone else who tries them will let me know how they turn out.  I would like to know how to make a good scone.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Moroccan Spice by Chef Brud

Handouts from Chef Brud's Moroccan Cooking Class

Hi Barb,

Just had a minute to take a peek at your food blog….I just taught my Moroccan class at 171 last Saturday and had a great turnout.(30ppl) Anyway, we put together the Ras El Hanout –“top of the shop” spice and everyone really enjoyed the flavors and aromas. I happened to see that you commented in your blog about Moroccan spice so I thought I’d send you a couple of the recipes that we prepared….the spice and the beef and lamb meatball tagine. Try them if you get a chance. I’ll probably be trying out the meatballs as a special one night at the club some time soon.

On another note….love that shell painting!

See you soon.


Ras El Hanout
(The "top" or "best" of the shop) has been said to have been made from up to 100 different spices, roots and leaves...commonly up to 30 are used.  We'll try 16.

2 T. Ginger
2 T. Mace
1 T. Cinnamon
1 T. Nutmeg
1 T. Allspice
1 T. Coriander seed
1 T. Cardamom
1 T. Turmeric
1 T. Cumin Seed
1 T. Paprika
2 t. Saffron
1 t. Cloves
1 t. Anise Seed
1 t. Black Pepper
1 t. White Pepper
1/2 t. Cayenne Pepper

Kefta Mkaouara
(Beef & Lamb Meatball Tagine)

...the Moroccan version of "Swedish Meatballs"

Recipe #1:  Tomato Sauce
Recipe #2:  Beef and Lamb Meatballs

For the Tomato Sauce:
1/2 cup olive oil
1 T. garlic, minced
1 large onion, minced
1 T. cumin
1 T. paprika
1 T. kosher salt
1/4 t. cayenne
2  28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

In a large saucepan on medium heat, add the olive oil, garlic and onion.  Cook for 1-2 minutes until onions begin to brown slightly. Add the cumin, paprika, salt and cayenne.  Stir well to coat the onion mixture.  Continue cooking for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, parsley and cilantro and stir to combine.  Bring up to a simmer and continue cooking for 20 to 30 minutes.  Meatballs may be added and cooked slowly with a cover on the saucepan for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

For the Beef and Lamb Meatballs:
1 large onion,  minced
1 T. garlic, minced
1 T. kosher salt
2 T. Ras El Hanout
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground lamb

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well with your hands.  Roll the meatballs in approximately 1/2 ounce sized balls---about 1 1/2 teaspoons or the size of a fresh cherry.  Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and cook on low, slow heat with a cover for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Alternatively, it may be cooked in a Tagine in a slow oven (about 275 degrees) for up to 2 hours.

The secret is in the slow, covered cooking whether it be on the stovetop or in a traditional Tagine.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Umami, Food Grade Lavender and Fried Green Tomatoes

Colleen says (about Goya's Con Azafran): The flavor you are probably liking in the soup is umami - which is the fifth flavor beyond sweet, salty, bitter and sour. MSG is just salt and glutamates and glutamates are the chemical basis of umami. Also found in mushrooms, fish sauce, Parmesan cheese and other foods. You might be able to achieve similar flavor profile by adding grated Parmesan or pureed mushrooms, or some other umami food.

AJP says:   Just tried a new Moroccan chicken recipe from Martha Stewart's Whole Living website. It was good, but not spicy enough. I also went to Penzey's and got some amazing new spices. They had food grade lavender, and I found if you throw a few buds into your salad, it makes an amazing taste addition. Try it!

Sarah has left a new comment on your post "Good Eats: Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse":
Try the fried green tomatoes... Yum!

Keep the comments coming!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Onion Trick and New Bon Appetit by Dinner A Love Story

My computer is in the shop, and my car is, too.  Both crashed within a day of each other ---with pretty serious problems.  So, now I am shopping for newer versions of both.  That's kind of fun.  But it is a drag to be without them this week, causing me to be dependent on others, heaven forbid.  And to be without my photos and recipes for the blog.

So, in the meantime, I thought I'd forward an interesting post that Sarah sent to me from one of the food blogs she recommended,

I wasn't aware of the changes going on at Bon Appetit, and the onion trick is a good one, and she is an entertaining writer.

Here's the link to the post:  (fyi -It's a little slow loading)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Easy, Winner Brownies by Emily

My friend Linda (and fellow grad student) and I have been stress baking recently and we tried this brownie recipe made by Hershey's that we modified a little. Everybody at school loved them.

They were really good and simple, which is key for me. Thought they might be a good candidate for the brownie bake off =)


Easy, Winner Brownies


1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

We stirred in some semi-sweet chocolate chips.


1 Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2 Place butter in large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until melted. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with spoon after each addition. Add cocoa; beat until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat well. Pour batter into prepared pan.

3 Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Frost if desired. Cut into bars. About 36 brownies.

Note from Barbara:  I made a batch last night to distribute to tasters.  The only change I made was to use Dutch processed cocoa versus Hershey's.  They came out great. Very similar to Tom's box version.  Even Tom rated them a "10". Emily could have a winner!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Good Eats: Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse

 Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Syracuse

In Syracuse, one of our favorite places is Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.  The food is always good and it is quite an experience, so we like to take out-of-town guests there.  Last night, we took my brother and nephew who were in the area to tour colleges.

Dinosaur BBQ started as a mobile food truck at biker events, then chose to settle in Syracuse, and just grew and grew.  Now it has its own line of BBQ sauces in the grocery stores, and has expanded to Rochester and Troy, and New York City, in Harlem to rave reviews.  A Newark, New Jersey location will open later this year.  Their cookbook is Tom's favorite, a gift from Sarah while she was going to school at SU, over 10 years ago, which is hard to believe.

If you have never been, and you like BBQ, we highly recommend going.  But go early or go late. Otherwise, you will end up waiting like these people were last night when we left.  It is always packed.

The approach to Dinosaur BBQ last summer -- it's downtown

Last summer, the weather was horrible the day we took our niece and my sister for their tour of Syracuse University. In spite of the torrential rain, thunder and lightning, Chelsea was smiling and happy when she finished her day.  To celebrate, and because we were all in need of replenishment before our drive back to the lake, we decided to see if we could get into Dinosaur BBQ. 

Smokers out back.

A plate full of messy good eats.

They are known for their ribs, brisket and pulled pork.  Their sides are good, too.  Cornbread, coleslaw, collard greens, carrot salad, or french fries, if you have room.  The portions are huge.  Don't go there unless you are hungry.  They have a good selection of beer on tap or in bottles to wash it all down.  Blues music is performed on stage. 


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lost in Translation? U.K. Chocolate Brownies

Brownies - U.K. style

I thoroughly enjoyed making these brownies, but I am not sure how they are going to fare in the taste test.  Mine came out more like mousse and not dense as shown in the photo above, but that could be due to my translation of the recipe. 

They were the best looking of the brownies so far.  A nice shiny top with deep cracks and crevices.  The U.K. brownies also had white chocolate chips, in addition to milk chocolate chips. 

Chocolate Brownies
from The Times, March 12, 2011 (London)
Makes 12 - 14
185 g chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
185 g unsalted butter
1 tsp. instant coffee (optional)
3 large eggs
275 g golden caster sugar  (see note below)
85 g plain flour
40 g cocoa powder
50 g white chocolate, roughly chopped
50 g milk chocolate, roughly chopped

25 x 20 cm shallow baking tin, lightly greased and base-lined with baking parchment

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/gas mark 4. (I baked at 350 degrees F)

 Put the plain chocolate in a heatproof bowl with the butter and coffee, if using.  Place over a pan of barely simmering water on a very low heat and leave until melted.  Stir to blend together and take off the heat.
(I melted them in the microwave on High for 10 seconds, stir, then 10 seconds more, stir, until the chocolate melts completely.  It doesn't take long. The chocolate will burn if you don't stop every 10 seconds and stir. )

2. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and sugar together, using a free standing mixer or a hand held electric whisk, until thick, pale and quadrupled in volume. 

This will take about 5 minutes in a free-standing mixer, or 10 minutes with a hand-held whisk.

3.  Fold the chocolate mixture into the mousse-like egg mixture. 

Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, then, using a large metal spoon, fold in very carefully, so as not to lose the tiny air bubbles. 

Finally fold in the chopped white and milk chocolate.
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes, until the brownie no longer wobbles when softly shaken and the top is dark and shiny. 

Leave to cool in the tin.

5.  When cold, carefully turn out on to a clean folded tea-towel to preserve the shiny top, then invert onto a board and cut into squares or triangles.  These brownies can be stored for 4-5 days in an airtight tin, or for up to a week in a sealed container in the fridge.

Caster sugar is superfine sugar. You can buy it --it is used for making cocktails so look in the bar section if you can't find it in the regular baking section --- or make your own by pulsing regular sugar in a processor or clean coffee grinder until it becomes dust-like.