Archive for the ‘Methods’ Category
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There used to be a wonderful coffee-shop in Santa Monica called Nick’s. One day, I went in there and ordered something called a Nick Burger. It had coleslaw and swiss cheese on it. It was so juicy you had to eat it over the plate. It became my favorite burger, and tonight, I decided to recreate it, with a little zip.
I’ve been becoming very brave of late with my Weber. First I started out with Match Light coals because they were pre-soaked, and easy to get started. Then, I graduated to using charcoal fluid and regular coals. Then today, I realized I had run out of fluid, and the corner store was closed. I knew that there are specially made charcoal chimney starters, and I thought I could make one from scratch. It wasn’t difficult at all making a homemade charcoal chimney starter. No more relying on charcoal fluid for me!
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I think all of us have been tempted to buy the pesto sauce in the refrigerated sauce section at the supermarket. The one at the supermarket has things in it you will never find in fresh pesto, whey, milk, canola oil, water and 2% or less of garlic puree. Some brands do have pine nuts, others use walnuts. But, there is nothing like the real thing.
Pesto is one of the easiest sauces to make, and can be used on a variety of foods. Heck, it’s good just on a spoon!
When you make pesto, it’s important to have fresh ingredients. If you can find pine nuts in the refrigerated section, those are best. If not, look for nuts that are of a uniform pale cream color, with no spots. Pine nuts are the edible seeds of, yes, pine trees. Please use good Parmesan cheese as well, you don’t have to get Parmigiano-Reggiano, but at least get the cheese in the refrigerated section.
If you’re angry at someone and want to take your aggression out on something, you can use a mortar and pestle, and grind away for a very long time. Or, if you don’t have any aggression, then please use a food processor.
Sometimes, on a cold day that looks like it might rain, you have to have chili. Usually, I make a big pot of it, and it cooks a long time to let the beans get nice and soft. Sometimes, you just don’t have that kind of time, but you don’t want something that came out of a can.
I don’t buy the Chili mix in the bag. I make my own, and you should, too. It’s very simple, and better because you can control the heat and you know what’s in it. Basically, it’s a mixture of chilies, cumin and a little salt.
If you live in California, you probably have access to fresh Anaheim chilies, if you live in New Mexico, you have the New Mexico chili which is a bit hotter than the Anaheim. Both chilies have thick skin, so they should be charred before use. When making my chili, I charred two nice big red bells peppers as well.
How to Char Chilies
Charring chilies is very simple. You need four things, the chilies themselves, a gas stove top, long tongs and a plastic bag (the one the chilies came in is fine). Put the gas flame up as high as it will go, and just lay the chili on the burner. Use the tongs to turn the chilies as they char. When most of the skin has been charred, put the chili in the plastic bag, close it, and let the chili steam in the bag. When the chili is cool enough to handle, remove the charred skin under running water. Not only is this a great way to skin a chili pepper, it also give the chili a nice roasted flavor. Of course, if you want really smoky flavor, do it on the Weber!
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The other day, when I was perusing Pinterest, I came across something that looked fabulous. It was strawberries stuffed with cream cheese, and it was called Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries. I pinned it, and decided it would make a nice treat for the kids in Spane’s class going to the Planetarium field trip. Last year, I made White Chocolate Rum Raisin Cookies for Mrs. Mary’s class when we went to The Natural Science Museum.
I lucked out, and strawberries were Buy One box, Get One Free. There are 24 kids in Spane’s class, plus the teacher, and possibly one or two more parents who, like me, volunteered to go on the trip to help with the children. There were enough strawberries, with a few extra for the house.
I decided to change the original recipe a little and dip the strawberries in chocolate. All the recipes on the Internet tell you to add shortening to the chocolate to temper it. I don’t like shortening, and I knew that I had dipped strawberries before without it. Of course, looking in The Joy of Cooking, I found that I didn’t need shortening at all, just a candy thermometer, that I have a nice glass one with a clip. There are instructions later in this post about how to do this.
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I had a dream, yes I had a dream. I dreamed of cupcakes with blue butter cream frosting.
I’m not much of a cupcake person, but they are nice if you’ve got a lot of kids. They are easy because you don’t really need a plate, and you don’t need a knife, and you don’t have to worry about someone saying their piece of cake is too small or too big. All the cupcakes are the same size.
Usually, I make a butter cake, similar to a 1234 cake, but it makes a three layer cake, and that was just too much for cupcakes. I know that a regular box of cake mix makes enough for cupcakes, but I don’t like things that come in a box. So I made my own box cake with fresh ingredients.
The past few days have been full of left overs. That’s a good thing, and a good way to save money, but you have to get creative.
When I made the Veal Marsala Meatballs, I made enough to freeze some for another time. Spane and I were at the market on Thursday, and I was thinking of making enchiladas, but Spane didn’t seem to enthusiastic about it, so I asked him if he wanted spaghetti and meatballs, and he said yes.
I had everything I needed to make it, the veal meatballs, a large can of diced tomatoes, basil and garlic. The only thing I needed to make a good meal was a baguette of French bread to make garlic bread to go with our pasta, so I bought a long baguette. It was large enough that I cut it in half and made my garlic butter, intending to make another half on Friday. I bought some large frozen shrimp to have on Friday.
I served the meatballs separately from the pasta, and we ate all of those, and the garlic bread. There was still spaghetti and sauce left over. I had made enough garlic butter for both halves of the bread, and had left the left over in the refrigerator.
I took some of the garlic butter, put it in a pan, and heated the shrimp in that garlic butter. By doing that, I didn’t have quite enough garlic butter for the other half of the baguette, so I added a little olive oil and balsamic butter, whirred it around, spread that on the bread, topped it with a little Parmesan cheese, and threw it in the oven for a few minutes.
We ate all the shrimp Scampi, and all the spaghetti and sauce, and were a little to stuffed to finish the garlic bread.
So, now I had left over balsamic garlic bread. Today, Saturday, was cold and rainy, so soup sounded like the perfect meal. Originally, I was going to make macaroni and cheese as an excuse to turn on Bertha, but grilled cheese sandwiches sounded like a better idea.
What kind of soup could I make and use up the left over garlic bread? Why French Onion, of course. That is such a simple soup to make, and is really fool-proof.