Because Sharing is Caring 02

Tips, hints, tricks, and little kitchen ‘hacks’ learned along the way and shared with you… please feel free to share your hints with me…

  • Go Slow
    To save time, avoid injuries, and cook better… slow down! Don’t be in a rush, making harried actions. First master the basics, especially where knives are concerned, and then earn speed as an external expression of internal fluency.
  • Use a cold pan for butter
    Heat the pan and the butter together. Adding cold butter to a hot pan will burn the butter due to its dairy component. Burnt butter is toxic, throw it out and start again.
  • Use a hot pan for oil
    Add oil to an already heated pan. The oil will be hot enough to cook your food in seconds, but not yet hot enough to smoke the oil. When it does smoke the oil becomes toxic, throw it out and start again.
  • Rest that Bird!
    When cooking whole poultry, let it rest before carving. This gives the juices in the bird enough time to redistribute within the flesh making for juicer slices and little juicy mess in the carving board.
  • Eat!
    Just as a good writer should read, a good cook should eat. Mangia!

So, a couple of hints, tips, take what you like and leave the rest… speaking of leaving… leave a comment to share one of YOUR tips!

Thank You!


Spicy Pumpkin and Sweet Potatoe Soup

Its that time of year… pumpkin pickin’ time! Pumpkins populate “punkin’” patches and make spooky faces from door steps and window sills around Halloween, but Sugar Pie pumpkins are the sweet and mellow ones used for cooking—not scary, and 100% tasty. And unlike their jack-o’-lantern brethren, they are thin-skinned for easy peeling. The sugar pumpkin is a small 3 to 8 pound range squash that has a wide range of cooking applications, but in this recipie… that firey jack-o-latern will meet his spicy match.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 medium sugar pumpkin
  • 4 orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

In a mortar or spice grinder, grind coriander, cumin, oregano, fennel, red pepper, salt and peppercorns into a coarse powder. Blend in garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil to form a paste.

Wash pumpkin, and cut into 2-inch wide wedges, scraping away seeds. Peel potatoes and cut each potato lengthwise into 6 wedges. Smear the pumpkin and the potatoes with the spice paste and place in a baking dish.

Roast in preheated oven 30 to 40 minutes, until tender and just beginning to blacken at the thinnest points.

Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, cook the onion in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil until translucent.

Chop pumpkin and potatoes into smaller chunks and add this with the chicken broth into the pot. Using an immersion blender puree the soup until smooth. Be sure to scrape the roasted spice paste off the baking dish and include it in the puree. It may be necessary to deglaze the dish with a little chicken broth.

Heat this thoroughly and then serve with toasted french bread slices. Make this vegan friendly by using a flavorful vegetable stock.


Breakfast Baked Apples

Here’s a way to really enhance and turn that morning oatmeal for two into something special. Take two large Granny Smith apples and turn them into apple-bowls. The Granny Smiths are a great baking apple. With their bright green skin and creamy white flesh, Granny Smith apples are crispy, pleasantly tart and are available year-round. Their distinctive tartness pairs well with the cinnamon, sugar and butter needed for a classic baked apple recipe. They hold their shape very well when cooked, resulting in a professional-looking dessert.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 large Granny Smith apples
  • 1 cup of cooked oatmeal
  • Cinnamon
  • Brown sugar
  • Raisins
  • Butter
  • Maple syrup or honey

Yeah, I know there are no amounts for most of the ingredients, it’s because they are all measured ‘to taste’.

First, make the oatmeal, where its those steel cut oats or instant oatmeal, whichever you prefer. Add the cinnamon, sugar, raisins ‘to taste’. This will be the stuffing mixture for our apples. Now, core the apples, cut them in half, and hollow out about a third of the center forming a ‘bowl’ in the middle of the apple half. I like to take the apples removed from the hole and adding it back to the oatmeal mixture.

Take a scoop and divide the mixture into the four apple bowls and drizzle some maple syrup, or honey, over the mixture. Top each with about ¼ tsp of butter.

Place them into a baking dish and pop into a 375 degree oven for about ten to fifteen minutes.


Because Sharing is Caring…

Tips, hints, tricks, and little kitchen ‘hacks’ learned along the way and shared with you… please feel free to share your hints with me…

The first one come from watching ‘Good Eats’.

  • Avoid buying single-use gadgets
    too often they truly become useless.. good knife skills will save you from shelling out money on a garlic press, and you can do a better job with a good knife. But in all honesty, I do have a small apple corer, but I do core a lot of apples, so…
  • Invest in a good quality knife
    one good durable knife will save you from shelling out a small fortune buying multiple ‘cheep’ knives. So far my Henckels have been sharpened and honed and still going strong some twelve years after I bought them.
  • Set your pantry for a FIFO system
    canned goods should be no different from frsh goods, put the oldest ones in front and the newer ones behind. Use the First In First Out system, and if you label things with their purchase dates, you can use this system in your freezer too
  • Buy groceries for your menu
    when it comes to fresh produce, build your shopping list around your menu to avoid buying things that you ‘intend’ to use but don’t actually use and instead toss…
  • ABS!
    always be skimming… when it comes to preparing stock, always be skimming, and… don’t boil the stock, simmer the stock. Boiling drives te impurities that you are trying to skim back to the bottom of the pot whereas simmering the stock draws the impurities to the surface… we you are waiting to pounce

So, a couple of hints, tips, take what you like and leave the rest… speaking of leaving… leave a comment to share one of YOUR tips!

Thank You!


Bay Crab Chowder with Corn

As the weather turns cooler, thoughts turn to… chowder! Since I used one can of crab for the appetizer, I will use the other can of crab meat for… you guessed it, chowder! You can’t just buy one can of crab… or at least I can’t. Add it to some chicken broth and milk, with some corn, and a shake or two of Old Bay seasoning, and you can make a simple Chesapeake Bay style staple.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 8 ounces lump crabmeat
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 ribs celery chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 4 teaspoons OLD BAY® Seasoning
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 leaf McCormick® Bay Leaves

Heat butter and oil in large saucepan on medium heat. Add potatoes, onion, celery, bell pepper, Old Bay Seasoning and bay leaf; cook and stir 8 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with flour; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in milk and chicken broth. Bring to boil. Add corn and crabmeat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.


Canned Crab Salsa

Yup, that’s no auto-correct gone wild. I make this crab salsa as an appetizer. I slice a baguette into quarter inch slices and toast it just a little and then top them with this crab salsa and serve with a Duck Walk white wine… seems I often have a good supply of white wine around here….

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 8 ounces of crab meat
  • 3 tomatillos diced
  • 2 chilies minced
  • 2 tsp minced fresh epazote
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

simply combine all these in a mixing bowl. Now, here’s a good handy hint… roll the lime on a good hard cutting board before extracting the juice, and you’ll get more juice out of the lime. Top the toasts and serve it up.


Salmon Cakes – With No Evil

What to do with that can of salmon? Make fish cakes! “Oh no! All that oil! Frying is evil” you say. Wait, Wait… you can make these in the oven, or more accurately, bake these in the oven and not have to deal with all that ‘evil’ frying. Although it is my firm belief that not all frying is evil.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 15 ounces canned red salmon, flaked
  • 1 cup soft bread crumbs (2 bread slices)
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

First, start by preheating you oven to 400°F. Then spray a cookie sheet with nonstick vegetable cooking spray, or use a nonstick cookie sheet.

Combine the salmon, bread crumbs, scallions, egg, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce in a medium-size bowl; stir the mixture well to combine. Then, shape the mixture into 4 equal patties. Place the patties on the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake the patties in the preheated oven for 5 minutes on each side or until the patties are golden and heated through. What could be simpler, and no evil frying. Top these with some homemade tartar sauce and enjoy without the fat-guilt.