You can always open a can of tomatoes for this recipe or you can buy some out of season tomatoes and try roasting them * By roasting them along with a chopped sweet onion, the flavor becomes more concentrated * More flavor can be added by simmering them with white wine and herbs * Remember peak season tomatoes are best, nut the season is short * Let’s start with 2 pounds of ripened tomatoes-cut in half and stems removed * Preheat the oven to 300 degrees * Toss the half-ed tomatoes together with 1 medium sweet onion, 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 1 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper on a rimmed baking sheet * Make sure the tomatoes and onions are evenly coated * Roast on the middle oven rack until the tomatoes and onions are soft but not browned – this takes about an hour * Now increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees and transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan * add 1 cup of dry white wine and cook over medium-high heat until the liquid has reduced by half * Stir frequently to prevent scorching * Add more water to cover the tomatoes and stir in the remaining 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper * Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium or medium low so that the soup barely bubbles * cook stirring on occasion until the flavors come together and the mixture begins to thicken (maybe 20 minutes) * Once the soup has thickened a 1/4 cup of chopped herbs such as cilantro, flat leaf parsley or basil leaves can be stirred in * Puree the soup in a blender until smooth and return to the saucepan * cook the soup for 5 more minutes using medium heat * taste and add more salt or pepper as needed * as an added surprise, by grating 4 ounces of Gruyere cheese and placing the grated cheese on a parchment papered baking sheet in four equally spaced portions – a kind of “grilled cheese” delight called a frichi can be enjoyed * Roast the grated cheese until it becomes flat, lightly golden brown and crisp (maybe 12 to 14 minutes) * Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes * Using a metal spatula carefully transfer them to a plate to cool completely * serve with the tomato soup as a grilled cheese sandwich – without the bread or butter * Gruyere is a good cheese choice for frichi, but grating and roasting any cheese you have on hand will allow it to become flat, light brown and crispy – but you have to watch it closer
When should students start cooking at home ** Learning to use the microwave and toaster could be a good start * Boiling water and hot stoves should be avoided * I will never forget my first cooking lessons at home * I was taught how to make a grilled cheese sandwich * What a sense of pride and accomplishment to transfer a golden brown grilled cheese sandwich onto a plate to be served * Making eggs is also a good way to practice the art – scrambled eggs before other variations to set the pace * I have met families that encouraged their children to prepare their own meals very early in life * It becomes an activity with adult supervision and a built-in eatable reward * Mixing batter for cakes and adding a teaspoon of ground coffee for extra flavor * Spreading sticky things on bread to bring to school for snack or lunch before leaving on the school bus can be a good wake me up * I think that cooking should start at home and be encouraged for further study at school * Students who can create what others go to culinary institutes to learn have much to proud of * Is it worth a students time to learn food prep and cooking skills in a middle school or a high school – I think it is – Especially when the high cost of culinary school after high school is calculated * Shopping, clean up, sanitation and nutrition are components of a farm to school program that can provide nutritious meals to children in schools and families at home * By letting student chefs create meals in a competitive environment -menus can be changed to winning dishes for other students * Having student cook offs on shows such as Food Network, You Tube, Chopped, Food Network Star and other culinary arts programs bring the art to an even higher level * Learning the criteria for well received meals at school or at home can lead to critiquing for better results * Execution, appropriateness, best use of local ingredients, appearance, creativity, presentation and taste can all be used for scoring * Cooking skills and the weight watchers program go hand in hand for students *
As we say goodbye to November and the fond memories of Thanksgiving Day – some may have a small amount of turkey left over * Passed down from other generations and refined for fusion tastes…this ultimate turkey tribute sandwich does not represent the end of a holiday, but the beginning * Lightly toast 2 slices of rye bread * On one slice spread a small amount of mayonnaise * Add a tablespoon or more of left over stuffing (hopefully stuffing with walnuts) and cover the slice of rye bread * Place 5 ounces of carved turkey breast on top of the stuffing and set to the side * Take the other slice of toasted rye bread and spread a light coat of Dijon mustard with mayonnaise mixture on it * Add a tablespoon or more of cranberry sauce and cover the slice of bread * On top of the cranberry sauce add a covering of pickled ginger (key ingredient for ultimate turkey sandwich) * This is the same pickled ginger you would use on a sushi platter * Place both slices of toasted rye together and cut the sandwich in half * Enjoy with the last of the apple cider * Savor it!!!
Wild yeast culture is also called levain * Making it begins with a container and lid that fits * A quart sized deli container works * Weigh the container and write down its empty weight on a piece of tape * Attach the tape to the outside of the container (you will need this later) * Let’s start the seven day process * Day 1: mix 100g of water (100F) with 100 g of room temperature whole wheat flour in the container * Leave it out at room temperature without its lid for a couple of hours * Then put the lid on * Day 2: evening * 24 to 36 hours after the first feeding of the new culture (levain) add 100 g of water (100F) and 100 g of room temperature whole wheat flour * Mix by hand until integrated and let it sit on the counter * Leave it uncovered for a couple hours to capture some of the natural yeast that floats in the air * now cover it * Day 3: evening * After just 48 hours after starting the ne w wild yeast culture – it should be gassy * Remove about half of the mixture from the container (by hand) and throw it away * Add to the remainder another 100 g of water (100F) and another 100 g of room temperature whole wheat flour * Mix it all together by hand and leave it out at room temperature covered * Day 4: evening * Remove about three-quarters of the bubbly mixture and throw that away * Once again, add 100 g of water between 85 and 90 degrees F * Add another 100 g of room temperature whole wheat flour to the new culture * Mix it together by hand and leave it out at room temperature – covered * Day 5: evening * Using the recorded weight of the empty container for reference – remove and dispose of all but 50 g of the culture * Add 150 g of water (85F) and 75 g of room temperature whole wheat flour and 75 g of all-purpose white flour * Mix by hand until fully integrated * Leave it out at room temperature – covered * Day 6: evening * The wild yeast culture is almost ready to go * Remove and discard all but 50 grams of the culture and add 100 g of water (85F) and 100 g of room temperature all-purpose white flour * Mix by hand until combined and let it sit out overnight – covered * Day 7: morning * The culture should feel like it is alive – gassy and goopy – with a nice lactic- slightly alcoholic fragrance * Place it in the fridge * Tonight you can mix a starter and tomorrow morning a pizza dough for pizza in the evening (day 8) * Remember 2 Tbsp = 50 g, 1/3 cup = 100 g
Maintaining The Levain: Once every week (7 to 10 days) – remove all but 25 g of the levain from its container and discard * Add 100 g of all-purpose white flour and 100 g of 85F water * Mix by hand * Let it sit for 10 to 12 hours * Put it back in the fridge * The culture should perform well for the next week and you should have enough to make four more batches of levain dough * If more is needed – double the feeding to 50 g of culture and 200 g * flour and 200 g of 85F water * Remember the amount of ambient yeast in the air is subject to the environmentin * Wine country provides more wild yeast in the air than a desert does
Give yourself some extra time to make a loaf of this minimal crust – maximum crumb milk bread * Baking time is about 35 minutes, Rising time is two to three hours and the recommended cooling time is another three hours * Start by whisking four cups of all purpose flour with 1 Tbsp of rapid rise yeast and 2tsp salt in a bowl * In a separate vessel combine 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp (9 ounces) of whole milk at room temperature with 1/4 cup (2 ounces) of water at room temperature, 4 Tbsp (2 ounces) of melted unsalted butter and 2 Tbsp sugar * Using a stand mixer or a wooden spoon, slowly add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix until a dough starts to form and no dry flour remains (about 2 minutes) * Working a little faster – knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic and clears the sides of the bowl (about 8 minutes) * Transfer dough to a lightly floured counter and knead by hand into a smooth round ball (about 30 seconds) * Place dough in a lightly greases large bowl – seam side down – and cover with a plastic wrap * let the dough rise until it is double in size (1 to 1 1/2 hours) * Turn the dough back out onto a lightly floured counter and press and stretch dough into a 10 by 12 inch rectangle with the long side parallel to the counter edge * Roll the dough away from you and keep it taut by tucking it under itself as you go * Pinch seam closed and place in a prepared pan (13 x 4 inch greased Pullman if you have one) * press dough gently into the corners * Let the dough rise again (1 to 1 1/2 hours) so that it is level with the lip of the pan * Heat oven to 350 degrees * Slide the pan into the oven using either the Pullman cover or a tin foil cover * Bake until the loaf is light golden brown – if a thermometer is available – it should register at 205 – 210 degrees or a baking time of 35 to 40 minutes * Remember to remove the lid and rotate the pan halfway through baking * Let the loaf cool in the pan for 15 minutes * Let it cool another 3 hours after it is removed from the pan before serving * Before the bread is sliced and put in a toaster, let’s make a cup of spread to place on some toasted slices and share with friends *
In a small bowl mix together 4 ounces of ricotta cheese with 4 ounces of cream cheese (or Neufchatel) and set aside * In another small bowl mix together 4 minced green onions with wilted portions and ends removed, 1 tsp prepared horseradish, 1 tsp Dijon mustard with 4 ounces of finely chopped smoked salmon * Mix until well blended by hand (try to avoid a food processor for this) * And fold into the ricotta-cream cheese mixture * Serve on freshly toasted milk bread – if any salmon spreads is left over it can be used as a fresh vegetable dip *
Summary – bread making takes time because you have to let the dough rise * Not once, but twice – the first time is after you make the dough and the second time is after you have placed it in the pan before baking * The rest is simple
Here is a special flavored cream filling that can be used on cakes or served as is after it has been chilled * In a large sauce pan – place a 10 oz package of raspberries * Stir in 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/2 tsp lemon zest into the pan * Let the berries release their juices – it usually takes about 15 minutes * Now mash the berries with the back of a fork until they are pulp like * Thicken the raspberry pulp and juice with heat at medium high and stirring until juice thickens (1 – 2 minutes) * Pour the mash into a sieve with a bowl underneath and run hand over the mashed raspberries to force most of the liquid into bowl * Discard solids and let the juices cool * Using a bowl and whisk – whip 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 Tbsp of sugar until peaks begin to form * Add 1 tsp of almond extract to the top of the peaks and whisk just a slight bit more * Fold berry-juice and small solids into the cream * Cover and chill for 1 hour * Scoop into small bowls and enjoy 6 one half cup servings/or fill layers in a chocolate cake * This recipe can be varied by placing 1/4 of the berries on the side and adding them back when the juice is folded back into the cream * This creates a cream with some whole fruit to bite into
Fire up the oven to 450 F and place oven rack in middle position 8* Melt 4 Tbsp of butter in a heavy bottomed 12″ skillet over medium high heat ( use butter if that’s your preference – I’m not big on butter so I soften the apples up in hot water) * Add five peeled cored and thin sliced Granny Smith apples and 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon when the butter is post foaming or the water is near bubbles * Cook stirring until the apples are quite tender – maybe 15 minutes * Stir in 1/4 cup of honey to blend and cook an additional five minutes * set aside to keep warm while preparing the pancake * Place a 10″ to 12″ cast iron skillet on oven rack * In bowl combine six eggs 1 tsp lemon grated zest, 1 cup whole milk 1 tsp almond extract and 1/2 tsp salt and turn on the stand mixer * Beat the mixture for five minutes or until it is light lemon yellow-thickened and very smooth * Add the flour in thirds – stopping to scrape down the side of the bowl after each addition * Now the hot skillet can be removed from the oven and add the remaining 4 Tbsp of butter before returning to the oven ( I avoid butter and must use olive or coconut oil instead) * Pour the prepared batter into the pan all at once * Quickly return the pan to the oven and bake for fifteen minutes * Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 8 to 10 minutes or until the pancake is puffed and golden brown * Remove from oven and pour the apple filling over the pancake * Place cranberries over the apples – 1 or 2 per square inch * Dust with powered sugar and cut into wedges * Serve while it is still hot – it should serve 4 to 6 people
A hot dog survey was taken last month and by far – the best all beef hot dogs to be had on this planet are Kirkland All Beef dogs * for those not familiar with the Kirkland name – that is the brand of franks sold at Costco * This recipe is best when three colors of sweet peppers are used; green – red – yellow or orange * Clean and slice the peppers into thin crescents and set aside * add 2 Tbsp of olive oil to a skillet and heat * peel and slice an onion into small crests and add to the olive oil * add two cloves of garlic * add a teaspoon of fresh sliced ginger and the peppers * once the onions are translucent-add two Tbsp of marinara sauce for body * continue to cook until the peppers soften * cut up four Kirkland all beef dogs into dime size pieces and distribute them throughout the pan * continue to cook until the franks are warmed on both sides * continue to stir and remove from the heat when the fragrance peaks * serve with rice or if adventuresome serve over mashed potatoes * serves two or three people – but tell them in advance that this is a tasty low-budget meal!
By adding some additional vegetables – the traditional antipasto platter can be toned down to a big salad with extra greens and some torn radicchio for more color * Let me create a fifteen cup concoction that will easily serve five people (each three cups) * The salad antipasto is a low-fat – high protein – good carb loaded dish * with a 15 oz can of rinsed chickpeas to supplement the other proteins – up to 15G of protein can be had in each serving * In a large bowl whisk together 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 3 Tbsp of red-wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp dried oregano and 1/2 tsp of ground pepper * Now for the heavy lifting – add 6 cups of torn escarole, 2 cups of radicchio (best to rinse and wash in ice water first), 1 pint of halved and sliced cherry tomatoes, one 15 oz can of rinsed chickpeas, 1/2 zucchini halved and sliced, 1 cup of slivered fennel, 3/4 cup (about 4 ounces) of diced fresh mozzarella, 1/2 cup of chopped marinated artichoke hearts, 1/2 cup sliced pepperoncini (highly recommended), 1/2 cup of sliced radishes, with 1/2 cup sliced salami (maybe 2 ounces) and 1/2 cup sliced black olives * Toss to coat * let it marinate for ten minutes before serving * This great big salad tastes good just the way it is and can travel well in a plastic container
An easy way to enhance flavor and appeal to many vegetarian dishes is to add ingredients such as chopped tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic and perhaps other herbs * This garbanzo bean recipe can be a nutritious snack or a side dish * In 2 Tbsp of oil, cook and stirring 1 tsp of curry powder (or chili powder) for a minute * Add 1 medium size onion – sliced, 1 clove of minced garlic, 1/2 tsp salt or to taste and saute (while stirring) until onion is translucent * Add one tomato diced fine and saving a little for garnish * Cook and stir (about 8 minutes) until a chunky curried sauce is formed * Open a can of 15 ounce garbanzo beans and drain * Add beans to sauce – stirring until the beans are piping hot and covered with sauce * Place on a dish and garnish with chopped sweet onion, cilantro and reserved tomato * Serve with a some hot sauce, soy sauce mixed with ketchup on the side or a more elaborate chutney * Crushed potato chips over each serving is something different * I especially enjoy this dish as a side with eggs and peppers and some small sausage – such as breakfast sausage