Sunday, May 21, 2017

Omelettes

Omelettes are one of the easiest things to make.  Essentially, they're just eggs, water and something in the middle.  For this example I'm using ham and cheese.

Whether you use two eggs or three is up to you.  I find that a three egg omelette is too much for me.  Whisk the eggs with about a tablespoon of water.  Do not use milk.  Milk changes the consistency and it won't work as well.  Water makes the egg mixture more supple and easier to work with and it won't change the flavor.

Melt a tablespoon of butter in the frying pan and have your egg mixture ready:



Pour in the egg mixture and let it cook for a few minutes over medium heat.  When the edges are done, use a spatula and pull the edges toward the center, allowing the uncooked liquid to flow to the edge of the pan.


Continue pulling the edges toward the center.  Here you can see the cooked portion bunching up in the center of the pan:


As the liquid flows to the edges of the pan it will also cook and in this way, the entire omelette will cook.  You might need to tip the pan to get the liquid to flow to the edge.  I couldn't take a picture of that because I ran out of hands.


When the omelette is cooked on the bottom, it's time to add whatever it is you want to put in it.  For this example I took a slice of ham and chopped it into small, bite sized pieces.  Beneath the ham is a slice of provolone cheese, torn into smaller pieces.  You can use just about anything for an omelette; bacon, sausage, mushrooms, onions, peppers and garlic are all good additions.  You can also add spices to the egg mixture.  I sometimes use garlic or sage.  Dill is good too.  Be adventurous and throw in a dash of basil or oregano and see what you think of the flavor. 

Notice in the picture that the filling ingredients are only on half of the omelette.  Put them on the half closest to the handle.  Then, while holding the handle with one hand, slide the spatula or turner (they're not the same thing -- look it up) under the other side and flip it up and over.


And it will look like this, only not quite so blurry.  I guess I shook the camera a little.  You can see some of the ham is coming out, which is fine.  I actually used more than I needed to, but it doesn't hurt anything.  Cook it on this side, then flip it and cook the other side.  You want the cheese to melt and the inside to completely cook.


And you wind up with a breakfast of ham and cheese omelette with toast and mango jam.  A perfect start to a Sunday morning.


Bon appétit!



Saturday, May 20, 2017

Crustless Spinach (and Chicken) Quiche


Throughout most of 2016 my friend Erik was living with me.  Erik is gluten intolerant, so I needed to find recipes that I could whip up in a hurry (I never have a lot of time to cook), that would taste good and that did not contain gluten.  This is one of my favorites.

I put "and Chicken" in parenthesis in the title because you can leave it out if you prefer this to be meat-less.  It can't be vegan because it contains eggs and milk but if you're a vegetarian who eats those, just omit the chicken.

For this recipe, I'll include the chicken, so start with two boneless, skinless breasts.  If you prefer dark meat, use thighs but increase to three. 


Cut them up into bite-sized pieces, like this:


Then toss them into a frying pan coated with either olive oil or cooking spray.  I prefer the spray for this.  When they're done, they'll look like this:


Whether you include the chicken or not, the following steps will be used.  Chop an onion (or use a cup of chopped onion) and sauté it in two or three tablespoons of olive oil.  Add to the onion one 10 ounce package of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed.  Cook the two together until the moisture is out of the spinach.


While the spinach is cooking, heat the oven to 350 degrees and assemble the rest of your ingredients, which are five eggs, three cups of shredded cheese and 1/4 cup of milk:



For the cheese, use any variety you like.  In the picture I used a Mexican blend.  I've also used others in the past, including Swiss and Cheddar.  Often, I prefer a blend of several cheeses because I like the way the flavors mix.  Or I use whatever is on sale.

The milk I use here is whole milk but half and half or cream will work just as well.

Mix the eggs and milk and add the spices.  I haven't mentioned these yet because I rarely use the same spices.  I recommend you start with no more than a teaspoon of each and decide if that's enough for you.  If not, the next time you make it, add more.  The spices I generally use are a combination of oregano, basil, sage and garlic powder.  I only used about a half teaspoon of garlic.  You can also use dill, marjoram and paprika.  Each one has a different flavor so it changes the finished product.  Experiment and decide which one or ones you like best.

Once the spices are mixed in, stir in the cheese and continue stirring until it's all incorporated.  Then add the onion/spinach and do the same.  Finally, if you're using chicken, add it now and blend it in with the rest.

Take a pie plate and spray it with cooking spray.  Be sure to spray all the way up the sides as well as on the bottom.

Just before putting it in the oven, it will look like this.


Cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  When it's done, remove it from the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes before cutting into it.  This is what the finished product looks like:


My favorite way to eat it is with Frank's Hot Wing Sauce poured all over it.  

Bon appétit!

Tomato Bisque

Essentially, tomato bisque soup is just tomato soup made with milk.  To be a true bisque it needs to be both smooth and creamy.  Substituting milk for water when making tomato soup from a can is the easiest way of making tomato bisque.

This recipe is slightly more than that, but it's just as simple.  There are only a few ingredients:

1 103/4 ounce can tomato soup 
Whole milk
1 141/2 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon basil (or 1 teaspoon fresh basil, finely chopped)

Diced tomatoes are lumpy, so to start with, we need to make the soup smooth.  In a blender, combine the diced tomatoes with the tomato soup and the basil.  Fill the soup can with whole milk and add that.  Blend the entire thing until it's smooth.  I haven't tried doing this in a food processor but that would probably work as well.

It will look like this:



Very slowly stir in the cream and using a very low heat, bring it to a simmer.

You can garnish with fresh basil sprigs and/or a dollop of sour cream.  Croutons are also a nice addition.  I'll be serving it with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Bon appétit!



Monday, January 19, 2015

New England Fish Chowder

This is fish chowder, not a real clam chowder.  Still, it's hearty and delicious.  It takes a bit of time to make but it's worth it.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 medium-large onion cut into chunks
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup dry white wine (I use non-alcoholic Fre brand wine)
4 medium carrots pealed and sliced thick
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
8 oz. clam juice
1 6.5 oz can chopped clams in clam juice
1 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika (or to taste)
dash of cayenne pepper (go easy)
1 1/2 - 2 lbs cod (or other firm white fish) fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp parsley

In a large stock pot, heat oil and butter over medium heat.  Add onions and mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes.  Add the wine, increase the temperature and cook for ten minutes uncovered.

Add the potatoes, carrots, clam juice, chicken stock, can of clams (with juice) and spices (except the parsley).  If the liquid does not cover the potatoes, add enough water to just cover them.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes covered.

Just before the 15 minutes is up, heat the cream in a separate pot.  Do not boil the cream.  When the potatoes are cooked, add the fish and the heated cream.  Bring it to a simmer (not a boil) and cook for ten minutes.  If you substitute anything for the heavy cream, you have to watch it carefully to make sure it does not curdle.  The heavy cream is more tolerant of heat, so even if it boils it shouldn't curdle.  But you have to keep an eye on it.

Remove from heat and add the parsley.  Stir and let it sit, covered for 30 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf and serve.  You'll have enough for four people, if not more.  It's very filling and extremely delicious.

Bon appétit!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I get a lot of requests to make this and it's one of the easiest desserts to make.  You only need a few things to make it and they are all pictured here:



This recipe uses a box cake mix.  If you would rather make a cake from scratch, that's fine too but it's not necessary.  I've found the box mixes taste good and very few people I know can tell the difference.  


The box mix uses three eggs, oil and water.  For the remainder of the cake you will need a jar of maraschino cherries, half a box (roughly) of brown sugar, a stick of butter and a can of pineapple rings in pineapple juice.  Do not use pineapple in heavy syrup.  Place the butter in a glass 13" x 9" baking pan.  It is very important to use a glass pan as it will make it easier to see the results when you invert the cake.  Put the pan in the oven while it's heating up and let the butter melt.  Keep an eye on it so the butter doesn't burn.


Drain the pineapple rings into a large measuring cup.  You will be using the juice in the cake mix.  Check the box to see how much water you need and add to the pineapple juice to equal that amount.  In this case I was able to strain a little over one cup and I needed 1 1/3 cups for the cake.  Add enough water to equal 1 1/3 cups.  If you have pineapple juice you can also add that.  If this is a cake for adults, you can also add whiskey or brandy.  Just realize that anything you add other than water will change the flavor of the cake.



 When the butter has melted, distribute the pineapple rings in the bottom of the pan and place a cherry in the center of each.



Then sprinkle the brown sugar over the rings.  This picture shows about half a box of brown sugar.  You can use more but I don't think it's necessary.  I don't have a better measurement of the amount as I don't measure it.  I know it uses about half a box.  Also, note that this is one of the few recipes where you don't have to firmly pack the brown sugar.  Just sprinkle it over the pineapple.



Prepare the cake using the instructions on the box but substitute the pineapple juice for some of the water.  This will give the cake a slight pineapple flavor that will go well with the topping.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.



Follow the baking times on the box for a 13" x 9" cake pan.  When the cake is done, test it by inserting a toothpick into the center.  If it comes out clean, the cake is done.  Place is on a wire rack and let it sit for 5 minutes.  Then take a rubber spatula and run it around the edge several times, each time going deeper into the dish.  You want to make sure the sides are loose but also get a little along the bottom.  


If you have a platter that is big enough to hold the cake, use that.  If you don't have one, you can also take an old cookie sheet and cover it with aluminum foil.  The one I used is barely big enough for this cake but it works.  Invert the covered cookie sheet (or platter) on top of the cake and hold it tightly by both ends.  You'll probably need to wear oven mitts for this.  Then, as quickly as you can, flip the entire thing over so the cake falls onto the prepared platter.


If you're using a glass pan you'll be able to see immediately if all of the topping comes out in one piece.  If it doesn't, don't sweat it.  Simply use a spoon or spatula to pick up the rings that stuck to the pan and place them back on the cake.  You'll easily see where they go.  Then use the spatula to scrape up any of the sugar that stuck.  It will still be in a liquid state so it scrapes up very easily.  Spread it on the bare spots of the cake and you're done.




Four of the rings on this cake stuck to the pan, as well as some of the topping.  Once you put it back and let the cake cool, no one will know.


Bon appetite!



Thursday, September 1, 2011

Making a Crumble

If you've never had one, a Crumble is a type of dessert made with fruit and a crumbly topping.  They're easy to make and can be made with many different fruits, such as apricots, berries, peaches, apples, pears, etc.  This one is made with nectarines.


First, assemble your ingredients.  You will need:



Starting at the top and going clockwise: 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar (brown sugar is ALWAYS firmly packed, which makes me wonder why it doesn't come that way from the store), 1/2 tsp. salt, generous 1/4 tsp. of both cinnamon and nutmeg, one stick of butter (at room temperature), 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 2 tsps. fresh lemon juice, 2 Tbsp. flour, 1/3 cup sugar and 3/4 cup flour.  The flour is plain flour.  

Pit and chop the fruit.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Get a baking dish (no larger than 9 inches) and butter the inside. I just pick up the butter (with clean hands, of course) and butter the dish that way.


Mix together the 3/4 cup flour, the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Chop up the butter and scatter it across the top like the next picture.  Use a pastry cutter (in the lower left corner of the picture) to mix the butter in until it has a crumbly texture.  If you don't have a pastry cutter, get one.  Or you can use two knives but it's much easier with the cutter and they don't cost much.  Put it on your Christmas list, if you must.


The crumble should look like this:


Next, in a large bowl add the vanilla and lemon and then toss the chopped up fruit to coat.  Once it's evenly coated, add the 2 Tbsp. flour and the sugar and toss again until all pieces are evenly coated.


Place the fruit in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the crumble evenly on top.  It will look like this:


Toss it in the oven for 40 minutes.  When it's finished, it will look like this:


And it will taste fantastic!

Bon appétit!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day Two - Peanut Butter Kisses

These are the peanut butter cookies with the Hershey's Kiss in the center.  They are very easy to make and delicious when they're done.  The biggest part of the job is unwrapping all of the Kisses.  Don't wait until the cookies are baking to do this as you will need to have them ready as soon as the cookies come out of the oven.


Set the oven to 375 degrees and gather together the following ingredients:



Starting at the top and working clockwise we have one stick of butter at room temperature, 3/4 cup of creamy peanut butter (I have never tried this with chunky, only creamy), 1/3 cup of granulated (white) sugar, 1/3 cup of firmly packed light brown sugar, one egg, 2 tablespoons of milk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon baking soda mixed with 1/4 teaspoon salt.  In the center are 48 Hershey's Kisses.  The 12 ounce bag is plenty and you will have Kisses left over for munching on.

Mix the butter with the peanut butter in a large bowl (or use a mixer).  Add the sugars, egg, milk and vanilla, beating continually until all ingredients are well blended.  Mix the baking soda/salt in with the flour and add this mixture to the peanut butter mixture gradually.  I do this one large spoonful at a time.  Once the dough is all mixed together, separate it into four equal pieces.

Form each piece into a ball and cut the ball into twelve equal pieces as shown below:


Cutting like this will ensure that the cookies are all about the same size.  Or, you can weigh the large ball and divide it by 12, then weigh each ball that you make from the large ball, adding to it or subtracting from it as necessary but that seems like entirely too much work.  The finished balls should look something like this:



Roll the balls in granulated (white) sugar and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Note that in the picture below they're spaced rather far apart.  This isn't necessary as they don't spread very much when they're baking.


Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until they're a golden brown.  Immediately upon removal from the oven, and while they're still on the cookie sheet, press a Kiss into the center of each cookie.  As soon as you've finished adding the Kisses, remove the cookies to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely,

The finished product will look something like this:


Bon appetit!