I am constantly amazed at how animated and talkative people get when you mention food. The mere aroma of certain foods can evoke memories that transport us back to a special place and time. Food can bridge the gap between all ages, races and ethnicities.
Let's face it, the only thing that should ever come between people is a table and some serving bowls.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Little Bit of Warmth on a Very Cold Day

This was a cold to the bone kind of day. High winds, ice and snow left us all dreaming of anything that would provide some warmth and comfort. The only thing I could think of was something that my parents always made me when I sick with chills and fever and that was a hot toddy. When I was younger they made it on the sweeter side using tea and either blackberry or apricot brandy. I remember how warm and soothing that it felt going down, I always felt better afterwards. I could not wait for the work day to end so I could go home and wrap my cold hands around a steaming hot mug of comfort.

Hot Toddy
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons of Honey
2 tablespoons of Whiskey (use any spirit that you like)
1/2 to 3/4’s of a cup of boiling water or may also use hot tea

Add first three ingredients to your steaming mug of liquid, garnish with fruit slice and or cinnamon stick…..sip and enjoy.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Pretty In Pink, Delicious In Red

Here’s something I haven’t had in a long time, broiled grapefruit. When I spent weekends with my great aunt this was one of her favorite breakfast treats. Plus it was a clever way to get me to eat grapefruit. I never liked the yellow, I always found it too bitter but I would eat the pink or ruby red variety they just seemed sweeter.
I never had trouble eating grapefruit when she made it this way; it was almost like having dessert.
What a great way to sneak in an extra serving of fruit for the day.

Broiled grapefruit

2 grapefruits (yellow, pink or ruby red)
4 tsp. butter
4 tbsp. brown sugar

Cut grapefruit into halves, crosswise. Cut pulp away from membrane in each section (with small pointed knife). Cut out membrane at core in center with scissors. Spread each half with 1 teaspoon of butter. Sprinkle each half with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Place on rack in broiler pan with grapefruit 3 inches away from broiler element.

Broil for 5 to 10 minutes or until sugar melts and top of grapefruit turns golden brown.
Top with cherries, raisins, or nuts if desired, serve hot.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Orange Blossom Banquet

The whole semi- homemade idea that Sandra Lee has for her food network TV show is great and all but it certainly is not new. The use of pre-made brand items mixed with other products and some human ingenuity spans the generations. I cannot imagine a household anywhere that has not dabbled in this use of food products at one time or another. I know I certainly do and have for years; I call it doctoring. For example if I buy a jar of pre-made tomato sauce (I know shameful to admit being part Italian) I doctor it up with a little seasoning, maybe some wine, I might add a little meat or seafood….delicious. There is no crime, you make do, you stretch ingredients, you save time or maybe you just make something taste better than it would have on its own.
My mother had this dish she would make once a week using Banquet Fried Chicken (I love it and make it to this day).

1 Box of Banquet Fried Chicken (the one with the legs, thighs, wings and breasts)

1/2 to 3/4’s of a cup of Orange Blossom Honey (use any kind of honey that you like, orange blossom was her favorite).

1 small can of crushed pineapple with juice

Place chicken in a buttered baking pan; pour honey and pineapple with juice over chicken making sure each piece is covered. Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes covered with aluminum foil.

This is so tender, sticky, sweet and delicious you will keep craving more. My mother would always serve this with rice. The rice was great to mix with the little chicken bits, honey and pineapple that remained on the bottom of the pan.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Maraschino Lover

I’m sure that I have hinted around to the fact in previous posts that I am quite a fan of maraschino cherries. My grandmother always had jar after jar of them in her pantry mostly for her baking needs but my grandfather also used them for my kitty cocktails as well as other people’s cocktails when they entertained. Just reading the ingredients in this recipe you already know without even trying it that it is perfect for all us maraschino cherry lovers.

Maraschino Cherry Muffins

1/2 stick of butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs (separate whites from yolks)
1 cup of flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
2 tablespoons of maraschino cherry juice
Finely chopped pecans
Powdered sugar
maraschino cherries

Cream butter, white and brown sugars add 2 well beaten egg yolks. Slowly beat in flour, baking powder and cherry juice. Fold in 2 well-beaten egg whites. Butter small muffin tins and sprinkle with pecans. Top with 1 teaspoon of batter, then a cherry, another teaspoon of batter. Sprinkle top with pecans. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or lightly browned. Roll in powdered sugar while warm.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tag, You're It!

I have been tagged by my friend Gretchen Noelle over at Canela & Camino a wonderful blog teaching us all a little something about Peruvian foods. These are always fun to do and a clever way to get to know a little more about the blogger behind those blogs we all love to enjoy.
Thanks Gretchen!

What were you doing 10 years ago?
I was working at a Restaurant/Party house in the kitchen surrounded by delicious, glorious food.

What were you doing 1 year ago?
Working for a non profit organization as a research director.

Five snacks you enjoy?
Beef Jerky, cold frittata, sharp stinky cheese, pork rinds and olives.

Five songs that you know all the lyrics to?
Row, row, row your boat, Happy Birthday to you…..okay, I was just being funny but I really do know all the words lol. Alright I’ll be serious and give you all five; “ Betcha by Golly Wow (The Stylistics), Julie Do Ya Love Me (Bobby Sherman), My First My Last My Everything (Barry White), Memories (Barbra Streisand), My Favorite Things (Julie Andrews).

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire?
Pay off everything I owe, Pay cash for everything left that I need, secure for retirement, have some fun, delight in making some dreams come true for family, friends and people I’ve yet to meet.

Five bad habits?
Snacking late at night while watching TV, not exercising as much as I should, forgetting to make out a grocery list, staying up too late, not getting enough sleep.

Five things you like doing?
Cooking, eating, going to the casino, enjoying friends and family and being able to pay my bills on time.

Five things you would never wear again?
Plaid pants, powder blue eye shadow, black nail polish, rings on every finger, patchouli.

Five favorite toys?
Dell Computer, blow dryer, coffee maker, santoku knife and injector marinator.

Tag, You're It: Nic, Jeena, Sullicom, Wildschwein, OHbearly,

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Doesn't This Sound Good?

I just saw this in a magazine that my grandmother gave me and it sounded so good I thought that I would share it with everyone. I was just picturing how good this would be with other seasonal fruits such as cherries, pineapple or how about some fresh figs.
I bet this would be terrific served with some pound cake.

Brandied Grapes

Seedless green grapes (the recipe says to leave whole but I don't see why you couldn't cut them in half if you wanted to)
Brandy( about a 1/3 of a cup per pound of grapes)
Sour cream
Nutmeg to taste
Cinnamon to taste

Cover grapes with brandy, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Marinate overnight. Serve with sour cream. Keep sour cream in separate bowl.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Stop Deleting SPAM!

It’s just some chopped pork shoulder, ham, salt, water, sugar and just a dash of sodium nitrite for it to keep its pretty pink color. That doesn’t sound so bad, so why is there such a stigma attached to the little square pink porker? Maybe it’s because they say that SPAM will last forever. Pale pink meat that lasts forever does cause one to cringe.
Do you realize that there are some people who will not even admit to eating SPAM or worse yet liking the stuff? They revere SPAM in Hawaii, they serve it at all their finest restaurants and they even make SPAM sushi. People are even willing to pay ten times the cost for a serving of SPAM prepared in some fancy manner by some notable chef when they could buy the whole SPAM, can, pull top and all for a few dollars.
I’ll admit it, I’ve eaten SPAM more than once in my life and I would be willing to do it again without feeling one ounce of shame. I just can’t eat it straight out of the can (I think it smells like lesser quality pet food). I must have my SPAM kissed by the heat of a nice hot skillet. I prefer my SPAM sliced and fried, served with a couple eggs over easy or sliced and fried and dressed up cheeseburger style and slapped on a bun.
So to all of you SPAM-aphobics out there who have been brainwashed into deleting SPAM from your everyday life. Think again, give it a chance and restore SPAM’s dignity and welcome it back into your homes.
Here are a couple recipes to get you started.

SPAM and Cheese Pie

1 cup SPAM, cut in 1/2" cubes
1 cup jack cheese, cut in 1/2" cubes
3 eggs, beaten
Feel free to add other things such as spinach or mushrooms

1 can of Pillsbury Crescent rolls

Line a 9" pie plate with crescent rolls pour in SPAM mixture. Use 1 roll to make a lattice top. Bake 1 hour at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.

Sweet and Sour SPAM

1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
3 tbsp. vinegar
2 tbsp. catsup
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 small onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup of SPAM, diced
20 oz. can pineapple chunks (reserve juice)

Mix brown sugar and cornstarch in 10 inch skillet. Add enough water to pineapple juice to measure 2 1/4 cups. Stir juice mixture, vinegar, catsup and soy sauce into skillet.
Cook over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens. Stir in pineapple chunks, onion and green pepper and diced SPAM. Reduce heat and simmer until heated, serve over rice.

FYI- Classic SPAM is about 175 calories per 2oz. serving, sodium is a little high but they do have a low sodium version.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Starring In Yet Another Roll, Oops I Meant Role!

I’m surprised that I have made it this long without posting a recipe containing Bisquick. Between myself, family and friends not to mention the Bisquick box itself and several Bisquick cookbooks. I could probably post a couple of bisquick recipes a week without running out for years to come. Instead, I will go slow and pace myself and show fairness to all the other ingredients out there by giving them each a chance to shine.

V-8 Hamburg Pie

Bisquick Drop Biscuits (recipe on box)
1 lb. hamburger, browned
1 cup of onions, sautéed
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can of Italian stewed tomatoes
1 small can (6 oz.) of V-8 juice

Sauté onions in light oil on stove, add to browned hamburger in oblong (8 x 11 inch) casserole dish. Mix in can stewed tomatoes and can V-8 juice. Stir. Follow recipe for "Drop Biscuits" on Bisquick box. Take large spoon and drop amounts separately onto hamburger mixture. Spread gently with spoon or fork. Bake at 425 degrees for 30-45 minutes.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Vegetables For Dessert

I was surfing the internet and came across this recipe and found it to be very intriguing. I have not made it yet but I just know that my curiosity is going to get the best of me before long and before you know it I’ll be running to the store to pick up the ingredients.
To all my blogger and non blogger friends out there, has anyone ever heard of, tasted or made this? If so I’d love to hear from you and find out more about it. I’m guessing that even with the unusual combinations of flavors or because of them that this could truly be a very delicious recipe.

Vegetable Dessert Tart

Tart Shell:

2 c. sifted flour
1 c. finely ground walnuts
1 c. butter, chilled


2 c. chopped chard
1 c. golden raisins
1/4 c. honey
4 eggs, beaten lightly
2 c. grated zucchini
8 leaves fresh basil, chopped
8 leaves fresh mint, chopped
1/2 c. Chardonnay wine (any light wine)
Fresh strawberries, for garnish

Combine flour and nuts. Add butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, and mix well in food processor until dough forms a ball. Spread in a pie pan to a thickness of 1/8 inch and going 3/4 inch up the sides. Chill while making the filling.
Combine all filling ingredients in a bowl. Pour 1/2 in blender and puree. Combine with remaining ingredients and pour into shell. Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes or until filling is set and inserted knife comes out clean. Cool in pan 30 minutes. Garnish with fresh strawberries.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Truly Wonderful Cookbook and So Much More.....

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing a cookbook written by Judy Bart Kanigor. The book is called; “Cooking Jewish”. This book contains 532 recipes mixed with family stories and traditions that span the generations of the Rabinowitz family. The publishers and Judy herself felt that Noshtalgia shared the same sentiment when it came to the major role food plays in bringing people of all walks of life together.
While reading, I came to the realization that even though this book was based on the Rabinowitz family it could easily be speaking to the history of many families in many parts of the world. Cooking Jewish is a cookbook to be enjoyed like a fine novel while sitting in a comfortable chair, sipping a hot cup of tea, unlike most cookbooks that tend to be flip through. Even though I was drawn to so many of the recipes in this book there was one in particular that sparked many childhood memories. The recipe was for “Kichel” which in Yiddish literally means cookie. My mother loved Kichels so much that it became a ritual to purchase some almost every weekend from one of our local Jewish Deli's. My mother was a wonderful cook but could never master the art of baking, so each weekend we would go to the deli to buy some noodle kugel, chopped liver, pickled herring and a box of kichels. They were so light and sweet with the rich taste of eggs.
I encourage all to read this wonderful book, the perfect gift for family and friends.

Here is the recipe for “Egg Kichel” from Bunny Lauer
Featured in Cooking Jewish by Judy Bart Kanigor

1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
½ cup of vegetable oil
2 teaspoons of sugar
½ teaspoon of baking powder
½ cup cinnamon sugar for sprinkling (stir 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon into 1 cup of granulated sugar blend well).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees; line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Blend the flour, eggs, oil, sugar and baking powder with an electric mixer, preferably with the paddle attached, on medium speed for 5 minutes. Drop the dough by the ½ teaspoon, 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the cookies liberally with cinnamon-sugar.
Bake on the center oven rack for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake until the cookies are puffed and brown, 15 minutes more.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet set on a wire rack.
Raise the heat to 400 degrees and repeat with the remaining dough. These are best eaten the day they are baked.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What Can I get You Hon' ?

Nothing could be finer than some pancakes from the diner in the morning (everybody sing lol). Who doesn’t love diner food, we have so few left at least out my way. Do you have many diners left where you are? I miss blue plate specials and diner speak such as; “Adam and Eve on a raft (2 poached eggs on toast) or Wreck’ em (scramble the eggs).
Everything seemed to taste better while sitting at the counter or in a booth. The cheeseburgers, the milkshakes even something as simple as a tuna salad sandwich tasted unbelievable and could anything ever compare to a diner breakfast; “ eggs, hash browns, bacon or sausage and the endless cup of coffee (the best coffee ever, would put Starbucks to shame) and you’d get all that for less than a few dollars. This diner post would not be complete if I did not give honorable mention to the “Diner Pancake” whether it is a short stack or full stack these pancakes were the tastiest, fluffiest most delicious pancakes ever.
I think I make a pretty mean pancake but even mine will never compare to the ones I use to get at the diner.
Here’s a really good straight forward pancake recipe, that tastes pretty close to what you might be served at a diner…….well not quite, there are a few ingredients missing. The sweaty short order cook, the greasy well used griddle, the waitress snapping her gum while taking your order and the diner itself.

2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
6 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups flour
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar

Combine liquid ingredients and dry ingredients separately. Mix until smooth. Let batter rest for 10 minutes. Cook on a preheated griddle for 1 minute. Sprinkle with blueberries, pecans, bananas or strawberries on uncooked side. Turn pancakes and finish cooking, makes about 10 pancakes.

Monday, January 7, 2008

You Say Clamato and I Say Clamato

While playing cards Saturday night I brought up how much my mother loves V-8 juice. I bring her a couple of six packs of the small cans each week. I was explaining how healthy it is for her especially since I get her the low sodium version. Well as this topic of tomato juice made its rounds from person to person, my father says do you remember clamato juice (a blend of clam and tomato juice). When my father brought it up I remembered him drinking it warm with lemon juice, cracked black pepper and a little grated horseradish. I loved it myself and had forgotten all about it, so my next trip to the store I am stocking up on clamato juice. Clamato is a great mixer for many types of cocktails, especially Bloody Mary’s ......

1 1/2 oz vodka
4 oz Clamato juice
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Dash of Tabasco sauce
Celery salt
Lime wedge
Pepper to taste
Celery salt
Celery stalk for garnish

Rim a highball glass with the juice from the lime wedge and a combination of celery salt and salt.
Add the vodka and the Clamato Juice
Season with pepper,Worcestershire and Tabasco to taste.
Stir well and garnish with a celery stalk

Friday, January 4, 2008

Orzata....Orgeat...Sweet Almond Syrup

I have rediscovered a favorite beverage from my youth it is called “Orzata”. Well actually the Orzata is almond syrup used as a flavoring for hot and cold beverages and many other recipes. My favorite way of drinking it is putting 1 ounce of Orzata in a tall glass with ice, then adding seltzer or club soda. I think one of the reasons that I love it so much is that it kind of tastes like an almond paste cookie without all the calories. The syrup has about 75 calories an ounce but it has such a strong flavor that an ounce would flavor about 16 ounces of seltzer without tasting diluted.
The rediscovery happened when I was out shopping with a friend a little before Christmas and we had gone into an Italian import store. While looking around I had spotted some bottles of the Orzata and got nostalgic and excited all at the same time. I explained to my friend what it was and how much I use to enjoy it and low and behold I received two bottles of it for Christmas.
I immediately stocked up on some plain seltzer and have been drinking heavily ever since.

Other Uses for Orzata:

Try Orzata in your coffee for something truly special….

Pour yourself a cup of good strong coffee
Add a 1/2 ounce of Orzata and just a splash of cream

Drizzle a little Orzata on pound cake, pancakes, French toast
A little splash in a fruit salad is wonderful.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Tomatoes $2.99 lb., Onions $.99 lb, My Mother's Face While Eating Them........Priceless

It only seems fitting that my first post of the year be a light and healthy one. I decided to use my mother’s favorite weekly request which is tomato and onion salad. I have been making a big container of this for her every Saturday for three years. Even though the food is pretty good at the nursing home, the little salad that comes on her tray has always left a lot to be desired. This salad, if you can call it that consists of a couple chunks of ice berg lettuce, one bite size piece of cottony tomato and if she’s lucky a thin slice of cucumber and my mother’s biggest disappointment there are never any onions (my mother is the queen of onions, she can eat them like apples).
The only way any of the residents there can get any onions is to go down to the cafeteria where they have a pretty extensive salad bar. Unfortunately for those who are bed ridden such as my mother this is not an option, so a big container of tomato salad with lots and lots of onions has become a tradition. Every week comes with a specially requested treat in addition to her salad. This week she is craving liverwurst and onions on rye. She has also informed me that in a couple weeks she wouldn’t mind some spaghetti and meatballs.
If you could see the pleasure and contentment on her face when she is eating her tomato and onions it is absolutely priceless. Something so simple, yet it brings such joy and it’s really quite healthy for her to eat, I should probably follow her example and eat more tomatoes and onions.

My Mother's Tomato and Sweet Onion Salad

6 lg. fresh Roma tomatoes
1 medium sweet onion, sliced on the thin side
2 tbsp. minced fresh Italian parsley
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1/4 c. olive oil
2 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
A bottled dressing such as Italian or some type of vinegrette works just fine

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Cut tomatoes as you desire and place in salad bowl. Add sliced sweet onion, parsley, basil, and salt and pepper. Mix olive oil and vinegar. Pour over the other ingredients. Mix gently and then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.