Saturday, January 29, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
Now on to my regularly scheduled post....
I've added a new quick and easy recipe to my weekday meal plans. The funny thing is that my son thought I made it up as I went along, but he still liked it!
1 package of crescent rolls
1 pound of ground beef
1 package (1 oz.) taco seasoning mix
8 ounces Mexican cheese
1 14-ounce bag of tortilla chips, crushed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lay crescent roll dough flat on the bottom of a square cake pan and bake according to package directions. Brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add taco seasoning and stir together well. When dough is done, remove from oven and place meat mixture on top. Layer with cheese and then with chips. Return to oven and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until cheese has melted.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Double Chocolate Marble Cake
* Get details and more chocolate cake recipes
1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup white sugar
1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease an flour one 10 inch tube pan.
2.To make marbling mixture: Combine 1/3 cup of the coca and 1/2 cup of the white sugar and mix well.
3.In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, and set aside.
4.In another bowl, cream the butter with 1 cup of the sugar and the brown sugar. Beat in the egg yolks, then the vanilla and sour cream.
5.In another bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda. Beat into the creamed mixture. Stir about 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it and then fold in the rest gently but thoroughly. Spread about 1/4 of the batter into a greased and floured tube pan and sprinkle with about 1/3 of the cocoa-sugar mixture. Continue repeating layers, ending with the batter. With a knife, lightly swirl the batter and cocoa mixture together
6.Bake at 325 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 1 3/4 hours, or until it tests done with a toothpick. Let cool on a rack. Makes 16 to 20 servings.
Amount Per Serving Calories: 419 Total Fat: 19.7g Cholesterol: 134mg
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Long after I read a book, I tend to remember foods that were mentioned. In a time that was pre-Google, this often drove me nuts. I would read about some unknown delicacy and have limited resources to provide explanation.
Now, I love to surf the web to find facts on various foods that I encounter in my reading. My latest food research was spawned by by recent reading of The Shipping News. Not long ago, I wrote my post about this book. Reading it has led to my absolute fascination with Newfoundland.
In the book, bakeapples are mentioned more than one time. These berries are also called cloudberries. They tend to grow in cold placed such as Newfoundland, some Midwestern areas of the United States, Alaska, some northern European spots and a few other places.
These berries are so sought after sometimes the demand exceeds supply. This is particularly true in Norway. The Norwegian demand has me wondering if Norwegians are fond of the bakeapple jams and jellies. My brother was on Norway this past November. He said that is is very common for Norwegians to serve red meat with jelly.
If you want to find out more about the bakeapple, or order some bakeapple products; check out this site:
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
The last time I went to the grocery, my eye fell upon the rutabagas.
As I learned when I was researching the Culinary Chronicles column I used to write for World Wide Recipes, the rutabaga is said to be a cross between a wild cabbage and a turnip, and one can't help but wonder who decided this would be a good idea. I like cabbage and I like turnips, but enough is enough.
The rutabaga first surfaced in the 17th Century in Europe, where the Swedes called it rotabagge and everybody else called it swedes--except the Scots, who call it neeps. Apparently, although the rutabaga is part cabbage and part turnip, one cooks it like a potato. The Scots cook it with potato, calling the resulting dish "tatties and neeps".
So I got this rutabaga, and I can't say the raw product looked particularly promising. My cookbooks all said things like, "You might prefer turnips" and--I am not making this up--"a little rutabaga goes a long way", but I finally found one that actually suggested cooking and eating the thing.
I peeled it, cut it into cubes and boiled it in salty water. Then I drained it and put in some butter and some cream and stirred and stirred.
The cream thickened and coated the rutabaga with rich sauce. Charlie and I decided it tasted a lot like turnips, but not really. It wasn't bad, and it was better last night when it wasn't a new taste. We have enough for another go; I'm thinking I'll dump it into some soup. I think it'll be excellent in soup.
I'm going to try tatties and neeps, next time I get a rutabaga, if only because I get a charge out of saying it.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
This is Donis typing today. The launch party for my recently released novel Crying Blood is coming fast upon me. In fact, it’ll be held at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, AZ, exactly one week from today. I hope you’ll come by if you’re in the area. I’m attaching your invitation at the end of this post.
I’m spending hours and hours per day in front of the computer writing guest blogs and issuing invitations to events and contacting groups to see if I can come out and shill my book to them. I’m also thinking a lot about what I’m going to wear, because of course you always want to look spiffy when you stand up in front of people.
Thinking about your outfit naturally leads to thinking about the five pounds you need to lose before next weekend, so I’ve been eating a lot of salad lately. Here’s a great one that I came up with that is satisfying enough to be a whole meal in itself. This makes about two portions
Boil half a dozen scrubbed, unpeeled, small new potatoes until they can be easily pierced with a fork (15 or 20 minutes). Set aside until cool enough to handle. Put one half of a red bell pepper on a cookie shoot and place about six inches under a the broiler and broil until the skin blisters and blackens, five minutes or so. Remove the pepper with tongs, put it in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until it’s cool enough to handle as well, then peel off the skin with your fingers and slice into strips. In the meantime, bring a saucepan of water to the boil, slice up one zucchini squash, and blanch in the boiling water for not more than three minutes. Remove from water and let cool.
While all your veggies are cooling, slice up some cold leftover chicken breast (disclosure: I use Quorn vegetarian “chicken” cutlets, which have a very similar look and texture to the real thing), a couple of juicy red beefsteak tomatoes, a thin slice or two of sweet onion, and any other salad veggies or fruits you like.
For the dressing, whisk together 1 cup of plain yogurt - I like thick Greek style for this - two or three tablespoons of mayo, 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, and a few fresh herbs. I have basil, chive, and mint growing on my back porch, so I snip of a sprig of each, roll and julienne the leaves and snip the chives, whisk all into the dressing. If you make this a few hours early and refrigerate, the flavors will blossom in a most satisfying way.
Slice the baby potatoes in two and mix with 2/3 of the dressing. Arrange the potatoes on a plate and top with roasted pepper slices, blanched zucchini, the fresh salad veggies, then top with sliced chicken breast. Finish with a glop of dressing on top of all.
Eat well, be happy, and come see me. Here’s your personal invitation to my book launch next weekend.
Please join me for the launch of my fifth Alafiair Tucker Mystery
January 29, 2011, at 5:00 in the evening
at Poisoned Pen Bookstore,
1404 N. Goldwater Blvd, Suite 101, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
I’ll be joined by authors Jeffery Siger, Tina Whittle, and Dana Stabenow for a Poisoned Pen Press Party with cake and champagne!
“Powerful as a blue norther sweeping across the Creek Nation, Crying Blood is a gripping entry in Donis Casey’s superb Alafair Tucker series.” –Carolyn Hart
For more information, see the Poisoned Pen website at www.poisonedpen.com, or call (480) 945-1023
Friday, January 21, 2011
The sweet pizza dough is baked for only 6 to 8 minutes at a lower temperature, so when it is served the dough is hot, but soft. The finishing touch is a layer of a rich pistachio cream topped with juicy peach slices.
If you're in New York, you can go to Golosi's on the Upper East Side and order the pizza for $12. If you'd prefer to make it yourself, the recipe is available at the Supermarket Guru's Steal This Recipe.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The math is simple. You make double batches of three different meat bases. The first batch goes immediately into a recipe that is served for 2 nights. Extra batches go in the freezer to be served the following week in a different recipe. That dish will also be served for 2 nights.
Each meat mixture uses either ground beef or turkey. For the first six days you make:
Use whatever recipes you prefer. I like to add vegetable wherever I can. Spaghetti is great with some fresh crushed tomatoes, onions, green peppers, and other veggies. There are several jarred pasta sauces that already have lots of vegetables already in the jar. Black beans, kindneys and pintos make for a heartier chili. I stir a can of fat free refried beans into my taco meat.
Druing the second week the frozen meat mixtures are morphed into:
2) Chili Cornbread Pie (Put chili in a baking dish. Cover with prepared cornbread mix and bake)
Gayle, hope this simplifies your next couple of weeks. The 3 meat bases work great for the slowcooker. Make sure you have some freezer bags before you begin this plan!
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Children (and most grownups) who've tasted turnips usually list them as one of their least favorite vegetables. Primitive humans seem to have liked them, though. They roasted turnips in hot ashes, and so did many foragers and farmers after them.
Turnips grow in poor soil and mature quickly. For these reasons, they were associated with the poor, who ate turnips and turnip greens and fed them to their stock. "Turnip-head" was once slang for someone who did something stupid or silly.
Before tomatoes were introduced to Europe, unpopular performers were pelted with turnips. Ouch!
They can be unpleasantly strong and woody, but good ones are sweet and tender. Nutritious turnip greens can be hard to come by, though you can sometimes find a produce section that carries turnips whole, not just the root, and you can sometimes find them frozen or canned.
I first ate turnips and liked them when a writer friend said she cubed turnips, potatoes and onions and fried them together with some chopped bacon. My husband likes the taste of raw turnips, so I choose them carefully (not too big!) and grate them, sprinkle them with sunflower seeds and dress them with French dressing. Sometimes I coat them with olive oil, garlic and seasoned salt and roast them. Sometimes I put turnips and turnip greens in soup.
My late mother-in-law boiled turnips with onions, salt, pepper, a little bit of sugar and a whole lot of love. They were delicious.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
It’s January and the snow is thick on the fields and my own vegetable patch has disappeared. I live next door to a good-sized farm and when the ground is frozen and covered in snow I love to walk across the bare fields into the woods in the distance. Snowmobiles lay down trails and it’s easy walking. Fabulously quiet and peaceful in the snow-covered woods. Well, at least until a snowmobile comes by.
Yesterday a flock of about 40 wild turkeys marched across the trail in front of me. When I got closer they took to the air.
I’m steadily making my way through the contents of my root cellar. Dinner tonight will be pork chops with fingerling potatoes and sautéed bok choy. The potatoes have been in a big paper bag down in the cellar since the fall. I bought 18 lbs. and have about half left. Some are sprouting and some are a bit soft, but they’re still in great condition and almost as tasty as the day they were picked. The bok choy is from the supermarket, but I will be cooking it with heirloom garlic grown by my friend down the road. There isn`t much that lasts the winter, but garlic and potatoes can if you have a nice cool place to store them.
Which is why we also have freezers. Last night’s dinner was pasta with shrimp in the tomato sauce I froze in the fall. You could still taste the fresh tomatoes. I’m also dining these days on tomato soup and squash soup I made and froze when the vegetables were fresh. As well as blueberry muffins and scones and apple muffins. The blueberries taste just as good as the day they were picked. Full of flavour. Really!
I bagged and froze raspberries and blackberries and although they aren`t as good frozen as fresh, they are wonderful to light up a bowl of yoghurt sprinkled with granola or ice cream.
I’m not strictly a locovore. I shop at the supermarket and I’ll occasionally buy produce from other countries when I really feel like it and there is nothing local in stock. i.e. this week’s bok choy. But there still isn`t much that beats local foods.
Even in the bleak mid-winter.
The picture of the deck and garden shed was taken last winter out my kitchen window, and the other shows wild turkeys marching across the field beside my driveway.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Thursday, January 13, 2011
I love PI Savannah Reid, who's not "model thin" but always solves the case. This comes out Jan. 25.
Ha-ha. Everyone loves Jello, right? Short story, Kindle. Bailey isn't too thrilled with the fact that she had to bring a jello salad to her real estate office's Thanksgiving party, and even less happy when her boss suddenly drops dead after eating it. When the police arrive to investigate, Bailey soon finds that the world of selling houses is a LOT more cutthroat than even she had realized. A short story from our Fingerprints line.
Death by chocolate? (What better way?)
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
SLIGHTLY MULTI-GRAIN BREAD
Mix salt and yeast in a large bowl. Stir in water. Add flours and oats. The resultant dough will be too sticky to knead. You don't knead it, just make sure it's all well-mixed. Cover and let rise until doubled. The less white flour you use, the longer you need to let it rise.
Refrigerate until chilled. This dough will keep for several days, and makes enough for 4 large loaves or several batches of small, two-person loaves or single-serving ciabbata buns.
When ready to bake, sprinkle a flat surface with cornmeal or oats. Pull out a wad of dough about the size of a grapefruit. Sprinkle with flour and shape. If you want to, before you sprinkle with flour work some chopped nuts and/or sunflower seeds or what have you into the dough. Put the shaped, flour-coated dough onto the sprinkled surface and let rise 20 minutes. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 450F.
When the oven is hot and the dough has risen, make a deep cut longways down the loaf so it can expand without cracking at the side. Bake dough for 20 minutes. Remove to rack and cool until comfortable to the touch. If you try to slice it while it's too hot, it squishes it. Ick.
As I sometimes keep faith with the title of this blog by tying murder into my recipes, let me say that, if you do not allow this to rise sufficiently, you could use this bread as a blunt instrument. Sufficiently risen, however, it's lovely.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Now, there's a problematic title for an entry on a foodie blog, isn't it? Of course, this is a mystery foodies blog, and Crying Blood is the title of my new Alafair Tucker mystery novel, set in 1915 Oklahoma, which is officially going to be released on February 1 by Poisoned Pen Press.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
1. Return of canning.
Many younger cooks and families are returning to the "old" ways. As more discoveries about modern eating habits, fast food, etc. come out, the more it seems that grandma and mom's habits of home cooking made sense after all.
2. Men cooking.
More women are working, so more men are cooking at home. The economy has shifted roles even more. True or false?
3. Local growers.
Green, eco-awareness etc. has more people thinking about where their food comes from, and how it affects other areas. Part of returning to the old ways, buying fresh produce locally? See #1.
4. Nutrition info overkill?
We're getting more nutrition info on meal and food items. Sometimes we wish we didn't? But given some of those outrageous fast food items being introduced, all it really takes is common sense: If it tastes too good or has extra meat, bacon, lots of cheese, dressing, sour cream, etc. then you know it's bad for you.
5. Growth of Food Apps
Not being a cell phone geek, I can't comment on this one. Do you track food or recipes, etc. on your cell phone?
6. Get Real.
Businesses supposedly realize the value of meeting their customers' needs. Oh? Then how come so many companies are still playing the old chaep trick, "fool the eye" game by making their packages smaller, raising prices and not telling you?
7. Return of the neighborhood grocer?
Europeans shop fresh. Are more Americans shopping at the butcher, baker and candlestick maker? Maybe in rich areas. Isn't everyone else buying at the new superstore groceries at Target, WalMart, etc.?
8. Improving the school menu: hire a chef.
The emphasis on lousy cafeteria food and fat kids supposedly will have more schools working with chefs to plan their menus. You mean the ones that aren't cash-strapped, out of revenue and making students bring their own rolls of toilet paper to school?
9. Trying new (Icky) foods.
I don't know about you, but I'm not eating or trying anything "exotic" for the sake of being adventurous. I'll leave that to my fictional characters. I pass on the calamari, snails, etc.
10. Food Aphrodisiacs and Eating for Long Life.
Baby boomers supposedly will believe, do, eat almost anything in their pursuit of staying young and living (almost) forever. See #9. Who really wants to live to be 100 with the way things are going? With the economy as it is and let's face it, who really will have the means to retire, there won't be enough store greeter jobs around for everyone.
** What do you think?
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Janelle's heart beat triple-time--once for life, once for rage and once for humiliation. She knew people who had been terminated BOOM at the end of a seemingly ordinary workday, knew some who had been escorted out of the building by their terminator, but she never thought it would ever happen to her.
Naturally, not everyone had left the office. Her co-workers--EX-co-workers--shot nervous glances at her and at Mr. Jerruk. When she began collecting her personal possessions, the muted exhalations told her that this surprised and shocked them almost as much as it did her. That was some comfort: at least she hadn't been the last to know.
"What's that?" Jerruck snatched a baggie filled with dessicated brown nubs off her desk.
"Wild mushrooms," she said stiffly, reaching for the bag.
He jerked them out of her reach.
"Oh, really? Sweet little Janelle? You have hidden depths."
"For eating," she said. She didn't try to retrieve them. "I don't want them. Throw them away when you finish looking at them."
"Where did you get them?"
"A friend of a friend of a friend. Nobody wants them because who knows if whoever picked them knows what he's doing?"
Jerruck inspected them more closely. "They're morels! I love these things! Do you know what they sell for in the grocery?"
"I don't care. Throw them away." She turned on him, her purse and pockets stuffed with everything that given her office space the illusion of being hers. "Why do you always think you know everything? Throw them away! They could be poison!"
"Thanks for your concern," Jerruck said, pocketing the mushrooms.
As she slid into the driver's seat of her car, she reflected that she and Mr. Jerruck had both been right. Most of the mushrooms were morels. With one poisonous one broken up with them. She had gotten awfully tired of that bag over the past six months but, after Patty had been fired and chivvied out, she had sworn she would not go gentle into that goodnight.
Neither would Mr. Jerruck.
Kids, don't try this at home.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Happy new year to everyone. And may you be blessed with an abundance of excellent books!
Remember when you were a kid and you looked with disgust at the pile of vegetables your mom (if you’re my age it was never your dad serving up food) put on your plate and insisted you eat? Remember asking your mom what was for dinner (again, if you’re my age, your dad didn’t know) and she’d say spaghetti or pork chops or stew. She’d never say Brussels sprouts or sautéed spinach or baby boy choy. Or even canned peas. Vegetables were an afterthought, tossed on the plate in hopes no one would notice until it was too late.
Now that I’m older and hopefully wiser, I pay a lot more attention to the vegetables. Particularly now that I live in farming country and buying vegetables is such a pleasure. In fact, my meal planning will often begin with the Swiss chard or the Brussels sprouts. I’ll think something like “I bought that nice bok choy from the farm stand the other day, what would go with it? And then there’s the big bag of fingerling potatoes.” Only once the vegetables are decided, does the meat planning come into effect and out come the pork chops or salmon fillet.
This picture was taken in the fall and it shows a boy choy I bought at a nearby farm stand. I’ve put a book mark beside it to help you get an idea of the size, and a couple of cherry tomatoes Oh, yeah. It’s big enough for FOUR meals. Like no bok choy I’ve ever seen in the supermarket.
Cost me one buck. And tasty!
Here’s a quick and easy way of cooking it.
Vicki’s Sautéed Bok Choy
Bok Choy – well washed. Use leaves as well as white stems, roughly cut into pieces.
1 clove garlic
1 green onion
Splash of olive oil
¼ cup chicken stock (or just water)
Splash of soy sauce
Salt and pepper
Heat a splash of olive oil in frying pan. Add sliced green onion and chopped garlic and cook until soft. Toss in boy choy, leaves and stems. Salt and Pepper to taste. Cook bok choy stirring regularly until leaves are limp, stems very soft. Add chicken stock and soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste and simmer for a few minutes.
Excellent with roasted fingerling potatoes and a grilled salmon fillet.