Tag: cooking

What’s Cooking : Pie for Pi Day

I now know how MSNBC host Rachel Maddow feels when she has to scrap a well prepared program for the latest insanity coming from the madhouse in our nation’s capitol. However, I am determined to get to some lighter postings. Tonight starts the beginning of March Madness, also know as the NCAA College Basketball Championships, …

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What’s Cooking: Thoroughly Modern Meatless Mince Pie

Mince pie is a old holiday tradition that can be traced back to 13th century when European crusaders returned from the Middle East with recipes for meats, fruits and spices. Mincing was a way of preserving meats without salting or smoking. The pie has been served at royal tables and, at one time, was banned …

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What’s Cooking: Potato Latkes

Hanukkah starts at sundown this Tuesday evening, along with the lighting of the first candle and spinning dreidels, Potato Latkes are a must. Here is my favorite recipe Reposted from December 4, 2010 It isn’t Hanukkah without Potato Latkes, those wonderful, crispy pancakes of shredded potato and onion served with apple sauce. It’s lot easier …

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Pumpkins, Not Just For Carving

Re-posted from October 22, 2011 When most of us think of pumpkins, we think of the orange orbs that get carved up for Halloween and pumpkin pie with gobs of whipped cream for dessert at Thanksgiving but pumpkins come in all shapes, colors, sizes and varieties. Some are good only for decoration, while others are …

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Alone In The Kitchen With An Old Frenchman

Starting this weekend, we are introducing a new series on cooking. Recently French chef Jacques Pépin turned 80 and retired. Over the years, he educated viewers of Public Television on how to cook and, something that no other cooking show host has done, techniques in the kitchen with wisdom, humor and a smattering of French …

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What’s Cooking: Thoroughly Modern Meatless Mince Pie

Mince pie is a old holiday tradition that can be traced back to 13th century when European crusaders returned from the Middle East with recipes for meats, fruits and spices. Mincing was a way of preserving meats without salting or smoking. The pie has been served at royal tables and, at one time, was banned …

Continue reading

What’s Cooking: Potato Latkes

Hanukkah starts at sundown this evening, along with the lighting of the first candle and spinning dreidels, Potato Latkes are a must. Here is my favorite recipe Reposted from December 4, 2010 It isn’t Hanukkah without Potato Latkes, those wonderful, crispy pancakes of shredded potato and onion served with apple sauce. It’s lot easier than …

Continue reading

What’s Cooking: Potato Latkes

Hanukkah starts at sundown this Tuesday evening, along with the lighting of the first candle and spinning dreidels, Potato Latkes are a must. Here is my favorite recipe Reposted from December 4, 2010

It isn’t Hanukkah without Potato Latkes, those wonderful, crispy pancakes of shredded potato and onion served with apple sauce. It’s lot easier than when I was growing up in the 50’s. Back then we had to shred them with a metal grater that often resulted in some shredded knuckles, too. Food processors have saved a lot of knuckles and teary eye from shredding the onion.

This recipe is really simple. The trick to getting latkes that hold together and aren’t “oily” is the  potato. Idaho’s win, hands down.

Traditionally, according to kosher law, when latkes are served with a fish meal they are fried in oil and served with sour cream. If they are served with meat, they are fried in chicken fat and served with apple sauce. Since, I haven’t kept a kosher kitchen in over 40 years, I fry the latkes in oil and serve both apple sauce and sour cream.

Because this recipe has no flour or egg, the latkes are more delicate and lacy. These are best served when they are fresh from the pan, so, we take turns making them all during the meal. It can actually be fun.

Pure Potato Latkes

  • 4 large Idaho potatoes, about 2 1/4 lbs.
  • 1 large onion, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

In a food processor with a coarse shredding disc or o the large shredding hole of a hand grater, shred the potatoes. Squeeze them well to rid them of as much water as possible and place them in a bowl. I use a cotton dish towel to squeeze the water out. it gets them really dry. Shred the onion and add to the bowl. Add the salt and pepper. Mix well. More water will be exuded and should be squeezed and drained thoroughly.

In a large heavy frying pan (a 12 inch iron pan works best), over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons until a slight haze appears on the surace of the oil. Drop about 1/4 cup of the mixture into the oil, flattening slightly with the back of a spoon Leave a little pace between the pancakes for ease in turning. They should be about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and will flatten as they cook.

Cook about 7 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Flip and cook another 5 to 7 minutes or until the other side is golden brown. If the oil starts smoking or the latkes brown too quickly, reduce the heat and briefly remove the pan from the heat. Remove the latkes and drain on layers of paper towels Continue with remaining mixture adding 2 tablespoons of oil with each batch.

Serve with apple sauce and sour cream.

Bon Appetite and Happy Hanukkah!

Thoroughly Modern Meatless Mince Pie

Republished from 11/6/2011 from the What’s Cooking Archives at The Stars Hollow Gazette

Mince pie is a old holiday tradition that can be traced back to 13th century when European crusaders returned from the Middle East with recipes for meats, fruits and spices. Mincing was a way of preserving meats without salting or smoking. The pie has been served at royal tables and, at one time, was banned by the Puritans since it was a symbol of the Pagan Christmas celebration.

Traditional mincemeat pie contains shredded meat and suet along with fruits and spices and cooks for hours. Mostly made with beef, there is a record of a recipe that used whale meat.  Today, most cooks buy mince in a jar, like Cross & Blackwell or None-Such, to make pies and small tarts. I use to do that as well, adding chopped apples, walnuts and extra brandy.

Several years ago, I came across recipe for a meatless mince full of apples, dried fruits and lots of spices. It cooks over low heat for about ninety minutes filling the house and the neighborhood with its spicy aroma. This recipe calls for pippin apples but MacIntosh, Granny Smith or any pie variety of apple is a fine substitute. I use a combination. It can be made a week or so ahead of time and kept refrigerated in an airtight container. The recipe will make one pie or about a dozen medium tarts. I like the tarts even though it’s more work making the crusts. For the top crust, I make decorative cutouts with small cookie cutters, shaped like leaves and acorns. I’ve also just made a few cutouts in the top crust and surrounded the pie edge with the dough cutouts.

Modern Mince Pie

Ingredients:

   3 1/2 pounds small pippin apples (about 7), peeled, cored, chopped

   1/2 cup chopped pitted prunes

   1/2 cup golden raisins

   1/2 cup dried currants

   1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

   1/4 cup unsulfured (light) molasses

   1/4 cup brandy

   1/4 cup orange juice

   1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

   2 tablespoons dark rum

   1 tablespoon grated orange peel

   1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

   1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

   1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

   1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

   1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

   Pinch of salt

Preparation:

Combine first 17 ingredients in heavy large saucepan or Dutch oven. Cook over low heat until apples are very tender and mixture is thick, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours. Cool filling completely. (Can be prepared up to 1 week ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 400°F. Roll out 1 pie crust disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch-diameter round (about 1/8 inch thick). Roll up dough on rolling pin and transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie plate. Gently press into place. Trim edges of crust, leaving 3/4-inch overhang. Fold overhang under crust so that crust is flush with edge of pie pan. Crimp edges with fork to make decorative border. Spoon filling into crustlined pan, gently pressing flat.

Roll out second disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Cut out about 28 three-inch leaves using cookie cutter. Press leaves lightly with tines of fork to form vein pattern. Brush bottom of 1 leaf with milk. Place leaf atop mince, overlapping crust slightly and pressing to adhere to crust. Continue placing leaves atop pie in concentric circles, overlapping edges slightly until top of pie is covered. Brush crust with milk. Bake until crust is golden brown and mince bubbles, about 40 minutes. Cool completely. Serve pie with rum raisin ice cream if desired.

(To make this recipe vegan substitute light olive oil for the butter.

Bon appétit!

Pumpkins, Not Just For Carving

Re-posted from October 22, 2011

When most of us think of pumpkins, we think of the orange orbs that get carved up for Halloween and pumpkin pie with gobs of whipped cream for dessert at Thanksgiving but pumpkins come in all shapes, colors, sizes and varieties. Some are good only for decoration, while others are not only decorative but very tasty in pies, soups and stews.

According to Wikipedia pumpkin “is a gourd-like squash of the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae (which also includes gourds). It commonly refers to cultivars of any one of the species Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita mixta, Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita moschata, and is native to North America.” Some of the fun activities besides decorative carving for Halloween are Festivals and competitions with pumpkin chucking being among the most popular. Chucking has become so popular that some competitors grow their own special varieties that will survive being shot from catapults and cannons. The festivals are most dedicated to the competition for recipes and the competition for the largest pumpkin. This year that honor went to a 2058 pound beauty from Northern California will be on display this weekend at the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival in San Francisco.

The pumpkin is one of the main symbols of Halloween and the Wiccan holiday of Samhain, which is a celebration of the end of the year, the final harvest and the coming of winter. The earliest that a craved pumpkin was associated with Halloween is 1866. Throughout Britain and Ireland the turnip has traditionally been used at Halloween, but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which are both readily available and much larger, making them easier to carve than turnips.

In cooking, the the fleshy shell, seeds, leaves and flowers are all edible. Canned pureed pumpkin is readily available in stores, as are the small, sweet variety of fresh pumpkin for the ambitious cook to make their own puree or for stews. When it comes to pies, the easiest is the canned, my favorite being Libby’s with the recipe on the label, label, label. It’s the only recipe I have ever used for pumpkin pie and I’ve never has a complaint.

Pumpkin and all it parts are also very nutritious, containing many vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidents. There is also an interesting medical study of pumpkin extract on type-1 diabetic rats:

(P)ublished in July 2007, suggests that chemical compounds found in pumpkin promote regeneration of damaged pancreatic cells, resulting in increased bloodstream insulin levels. According to the research team leader, pumpkin extract may be “a very good product for pre-diabetic people, as well as those who already have diabetes,” possibly reducing or eliminating the need for insulin injections for some type-1 diabetics. It is unknown whether pumpkin extract has any effect on diabetes mellitus type 2, as it was not the subject of the study.

One of my favorite recipes is Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Sour Cream Topping that is more popular than pie with my family.

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Recipe and baking tips are below the fold
 

Carving Pumpkins 101

First published 10/27/2012

Rather than try to explain how to carve a pumpkin here is a video that is a handy 5 minute guide.

How to Carve a Killer Pumpkin with Leah D’Emilio

And for the more ambitious and artistic pumpkin carvers among us, here is some inspiration with seasonal music.

Amazing Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns

Pique the Geek 20101219: The Science behind Christmas Goodies

Republished from the Pique the Geek archives by Translator, aka Dr. David W. Smith

Doc passed away earlier this year. He is missed.

This is the time of the year that I get creative in the kitchen, and almost all of what I prepare is given away to friends and family.  I had hoped to be ready to ship tomorrow, but I got behind and will have to ship Tuesday.  Perhaps too late for Christmas, but certainly not for the rest of the holiday season.

I vary my menu year to year, but a couple of things are standard.  One is Lizzies, a sort of fruit cookie that is reminiscent of fruit cake, except Lizzies are good.  Another is chocolate fudge, with black walnuts.  Both of these were always around during my childhood, because my mum loved everything about Christmas and was an excellent cook.

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