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.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Saffron Crocus a Flower in Good taste

Yesterday my grandmother brought out a cookbook that my aunt had given her. The cookbook was all about cooking with different herbs and spices. There were so many recipes that we wanted to try once we got the ingredients. There seemed to be a great many dishes that called for saffron, which most of us have had at one time or another. We agreed that if we ever made a recipe requiring saffron that we would all chip in seeing that saffron is about $80.00 an ounce, not that we would need an ounce more like a pinch. Luckily saffron’s powerful flavor goes a long way as well as the brilliant color it imparts to all the food that it touches.

FYI- The reason why saffron is so expensive is it estimated that it takes some 14,000 Crocus stigmas (each crocus only has three stigmas) to produce only one ounce of saffron threads.
The taste is that of bitter honey and the color it releases is an intense yellow.

Saffron Risotto

5 cups of chicken broth (canned works just fine).
1/2 a stick of butter, plus 1 more tablespoon for later
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup of pearl rice (Arborio)
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1/8 tsp. of saffron
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese

Bring broth to slow simmer. Heat butter in heavy, deep pan, sauté onions until golden. Stir in rice; sauté until well coated. Add white wine and cook until evaporated. Begin adding broth 1/2 cup at a time--add broth again when you need more liquid 1/4 cup at a time.
After 15 minutes of cooking, add saffron and continue cooking adding 1/4 cup of broth until rice is tender but firm to the bite. Total cooking time is 30 to 35 minutes.
Just prior to serving, add cheese and remaining tablespoon of butter. Salt to taste, serve with more cheese.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Feeling in High Spirits

Seeing the sunrise five days a week reminded me of one of my favorite mixed drinks.
In my younger days of clubbing I would frequently order a Tequila Sunrise, they were just so darn pretty to look at and not so bad to drink either. I haven’t had one in years and watching the sunrise every morning from the window of where I am working until 6:00AM inspired me to start drinking them again, preferably at sunset!

Tequila Sunrise

1/2 cup orange Curacao
1 oz good quality tequila
2 1/2 oz. orange juice
1/2 oz grenadine syrup
Seltzer or club soda

Fill an 11 oz Collins glass (any glass will do) with soda water and ice until half filled, top with 1/2 oz. of grenadine syrup. Shake remaining ingredients together in a cocktail shaker and pour into glass.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce

It was 1968 when Country Bob Edson perfected his steak sauce recipe and he called it an All Purpose Sauce because it was more than just a steak sauce.

It sure is, We can attest to that. We were fortunate enough to have the good folks over at Country Bob's send over some samples for review. They sent over a couple bottles of their all purpose sauce which is great for any kind of meat or seafood. It has a very unique flavor that We can't quite compare to anything else that we have tried. It's not too sweet or too spicy (although they do have a spicy version if you prefer).

Over the last two weeks we have been dunking, pouring and marinating with Country Bob's all purpose sauce. We have put it on our burgers, marinated our pork chops, dunked our chicken and slathered our steak and all we can say is Deeeelicious!

We did come up with a real good side dish using Country Bob's Sauce that could not be simpler:

Just make up some rice using the standard 1 part rice to 2 parts water.

When your rice is done cooking add a tablespoon of butter and 1/2 a cup of Country Bob's all purpose sauce and that's it. It makes a heck of a side for any meat or fish but it's good enough to eat on its own.
You can Purchase Country Bob's online and you should see some of the great recipes they have for you to enjoy.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Quick and Delicious

If you are pressed for time and happen to be a spinach lover like I am than this is the recipe for you. You can increase the amounts of everything to make a bigger batch so hopefully you will have some for the next day; although once you taste it I highly doubt it. If I didn’t have to share I would eat the whole casserole myself!

Quick Spinach Casserole

2 pkg. frozen spinach, cooked and drained (I just sauté lightly in a little butter or oil)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 can of French fried onion rings
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
Feel free to add whatever else you can think of, I like to sprinkle shredded cheese over the top of the fried onions (preferably swiss but any kind will do)

Add cream cheese and mushroom soup to hot spinach, put mixture into your favorite casserole dish and top with the French fried onion rings (top with cheese, optional).

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Soft and Chewy Cookies

Some people just love really soft and chewy oatmeal cookies. I have to admit that I do prefer them over the hard crunchy ones. There is just something about them that is so comforting. We do have a grocery store that sells the soft chewy ones in a two dozen container but they are so expensive. It’s just easier to make your own and this recipe is exactly what the soft and chewy oatmeal raisin lover looks for in their favorite cookie.

Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 cup of butter
1 cup of raisins
¼ cup of hot water, from tap no need to boil
1 round tsp. of baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups of oatmeal
2 cups of flour
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350

Pour hot water over raisins and let soften for a few minutes, cream sugar and butter and beat in eggs. Mix all other ingredients including raisins and water. Drop on cookie sheet (about 1 tablespoon per cookie). Bake until lightly browned let cool and then dig in!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hot Steamy Morning

I normally go to my grandmother’s every Saturday night for dinner and cards but a few weeks ago I started a temporary job that has me working from 9:30 pm to 6:00 am. So come Saturday morning I am just getting out of work and by the time I would normally go to my grandmothers I should be sleeping, so I asked her if she minded if I came early in the morning instead, this way I could spend a couple of hours with her then go to see my mother and then go home and hopefully get some sleep. My grandmother was fine with that; she’s up very early these days. When I got there she had a hot steaming cup of coffee waiting for me and a batch of corn muffins in the oven. What a perfect way to end a night of work and start a brand new day, the corn muffins were steaming when I broke them open and the butter just melted on contact.

Corn Muffins

1 1/2 cups of self-rising cornmeal
2 Tablespoons of sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup of cooking oil
1 cup of cream-style corn
1 med. onion, chopped
1 cup of sour cream

Mix all ingredients well, grease muffin tins. Pour about 3/4 full of batter and bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

S_ _ _ On A Shingle

Foods just like people can easily get a bad reputation through no fault of their own. This particular dish became infamous as a war ration and had been called by many a name that one would never want to hit the fan (if you know what I mean). The sad part is it probably did taste bad then for many reasons the first one being that it may have been the only food option that they had. Another reason could have been because it was packaged and processed and sitting in a can for who knows how long, which means that poor little chipped beef didn’t stand a chance of being liked.
This recipe will change all that because it is easy, comforting and really delicious.
Give chipped beef the love that it deserves.

Creamed Chipped Beef

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 dash pepper
2 cups milk
2 1/2 ounces dried beef, sliced

In medium saucepan, melt butter. Blend in flour and pepper. Stir in milk. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Reduce heat. Tear beef into shreds; add to cream sauce and heat through.
Serve over toast points, mashed potatoes, rice or egg noodles.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Yellow With Envy

If yellow squash could talk they would probably say; “What’s the deal with zucchini bread? What, you’ve got something against yellow? Banana’s are yellow and you use them in bread, so why not us?” I guess if yellow squash could talk they would be right we always make zucchini bread under the guise that we have such a surplus of it. I have actually had times when I have an over abundance of yellow squash, so why not treat it the same. It actually makes very good bread; it is just a slight bit sweeter than its green counterpart.

Yellow Squash Bread

1 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 eggs
3/4 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of oil
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 1/2 cups of shredded yellow squash

Combine first 5 ingredients; set aside. Combine eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla in big mixing bowl. Beat well. Stir in squash. Add dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.
Pour batter into a greased and floured 9x5x3 loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove to wire rack and cool completely.

Photo courtesy of Carlos Porto/flickr

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bada-Bing !

I look so forward to cherry season and as much as I do enjoy several varieties of cherries the “Bing” is still my favorite. Almost every vendor at the farmer’s market this past weekend had bags and baskets of these plump little gems sitting out on their tables tempting all who passed by. Cherries tend to be a difficult ingredient to use because you taste one and then another and then another and then another…..hey, wait a minute how come I don’t have enough for the recipe?

Bing Cherry Bread Pudding

2 cups of pitted Bing Cherries, halved
1/4 cup of brandy
2 cups each of half and half and milk
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups of sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 loaf stale French bread or Italian, torn into pieces, about 7 or 8 cups
1/4 cup of melted butter
1/4 cup of sliced almonds for sprinkling over the top

Mix pitted cherries and brandy in small bowl, cover and let it sit for about an hour.

Pre-Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Generously butter a 3 quart baking dish. Mix half and half, milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in large bowl. Add bread and cherry mixture. Stir to mix. Stir in butter.
Pour mixture in prepared dish, sprinkle with sliced almonds and bake until top is golden and crusty, about 1 hour. Cool on wire rack. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream if you wish.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Pondering a Picnic

The first of June brings with it the promise of bright sunny days filled with warmth and gets me thinking about picnic food. Pretty soon family picnics will be upon us and that never ending dilemma of what to bring, what to bring? You want it to be easy to make, easy to take and most importantly easy to keep in all that heat. Granted with the help of all the new fangled cooling devices that they have these days the dilemma is not as great as it once was so being creative with ingredients can be much less restrictive without giving up safety. So here is my first picnic fare recipe for the season, I am sure many more will come to mind as the warmer months continue.
What is your favorite picnic food?

Oven Fried Picnic Chicken

2 1/2-3 lbs. chicken, cut up
1 1/2 cups of crushed cheese crackers (Cheez-its)
1/2 cup of finely chopped dry roasted peanuts
1 tsp. paprika
1 beaten egg
3 tsp. of milk

In small bowl stir together, crackers, peanuts and paprika. Spread mix on wax paper. In cereal bowl combine egg and milk. Dip each chicken piece in egg mixture and then roll in crumb mixture to coat. Arrange skin side up in baking dish. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes or until done. Cool on paper towels or a wire rack for 30 minutes, chill in refrigerator.