Food 4 Thought

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November 15, 2019

 

Serve a side dish that rivals your main dish this year. Blah vegetables turn into leftover vegetables. Tasty ones vanish before anyone thinks about dessert. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook offers good ways to transform everyday vegetables into healthy treats. Spinach is a healthy food. This simple recipe form the book makes a creamed spinach any restaurant would be proud to serve. It will be a welcome addition to your holiday table. With vitamins, minerals, low carbs and no gluten, even your most finaky guest will enjoy it.

 

1 bunch fresh spinach or 1 package frozen spinach

1 tbsp butter or margarine

¼ onion chopped

1 green onion sliced

¼ cup chicken bouillon

¼ cup heavy cream

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

dash nutmeg

1 tbsp ground Parmesan

 

If using fresh spinach, bring a pot of salted water to a fast boil, add the spinach and cook it for 1 minute. Or prepare the frozen spinach according to package directions. Drain the cooked spinach into a colander. Set aside.

Melt the butter or margarine in a medium skillet over low heat. Add both kinds of onion and cook 5 minutes. Raise the temperature to high. Add the bouillon, the cream, the salt and pepper and the nutmeg. Bring the mixture to a boil. Drop the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes with occasional stirring. Mix the Parmesan cheese into the blend.

Squeeze the excess water out of the cooked spinach and chop it. Blend the spinach into the sauce and cook 5 more minutes. Creamed spinach is ready to join the main course on your table.

 

November 8, 2019

 

Only an overdose of garlic could dress shrimp up like this. Shrimp is delicious any way you cook it, but add six cloves of garlic É wow. Here's a fast and easy shrimp dish you'll want to serve again and again.

 

All good shrimp recipes are fast. The secret to cooking shrimp is cooking it hot and quick. Overcooked shrimp gets rubbery like pencil erasures. To avoid turning a delight into a disappointment, prepare all the ingredients first. Do all the cleaning, slicing and dicing before heating the pan. Then watch dinner fall together before your eyes as the aroma of heaven fills the kitchen.

 

1 lb large shrimp raw

1 bunch spinach

6 cloves garlic

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp paprika

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp parsley

 

Peel and devein the shrimp. Pat them dry and set them aside. Wash the spinach leaves and remove their stems. Cut them into salad-size pieces or leave them whole. Set them aside too. Slice the garlic cloves thin and separate the pieces.

 

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic slices and cook until they begin to brown. Remove the toasted garlic slices with a slotted spoon and set them aside.

 

Add the shrimp, the paprika, and the red pepper flakes to the hot oil. Cook with stirring 3-4 minutes. The shrimp should be underdone at this point. Toss a handful of spinach in and stir until it wilts. Continue adding batches of spinach until the whole bunch is used up.

 

Stir the garlic in. Remove the dish from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and parsley.

 

November 1. 2019

 

On a night like this, my mother would serve her famous chili von carne. Her recipe is just one of the great chili recipes offered in The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. Her version would be on the table—hot and delicious—in under an hour. Some of the others there fill the house with welcoming aromas all day long. What better way to chase winter gray away?

 

Try my mother's quick and easy version tonight. (You might want to use a bit more garlic than she did.) Make extra. It's great leftover. It's going to be a long winter. Pick up a copy of the book and explore many other great comfort foods.

 

1 tbsp oil

1 onion

1 lb ground beef

1 clove garlic, minced

½ tsp ginger

1 can tomato juice

1 can kidney beans

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp chili powder

 

Heat the oil in a soup pot. Chop the onion and brown over it medium high heat. Add the ground beef and stir to break it up. When the beef is browned, add the remaining ingredients and simmer for ½ hour.

 

 

October 25, 2019

Keep politicians out of your kitchen. Their ignorance is killing people. Back in 1977, Congress decided to legislate American diets. There was an immediate upturn in obesity. The rest of the world followed the US example, and the epidemic spread worldwide. Obesity has tripled since Congress got involved.  Today, 40% of American adults are obese and nearly 10% of our children are too. Obesity is more than just ugly; it's deadly. It's a leading cause of heart disease and type-2 diabetes. Obesity kills three hundred thousand Americans every year—and that number is growing.

 

Nutritionists aren't sure which aspect of Congressional meddling in our diet is the most hazardous. Robert Atkins identified excess carbohydrates as a leading culprit. His diet and the half dozen other low-carb diets that followed have helped many people. Kevin Hall of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders interprets his small but rigorous human test study to implicate the highly processed foods that appeared about the same time as responsible for the obesity epidemic. Rick Mattes, the incoming head of the American Society of Nutrition is not convinced by Hall's test results.

 

Whatever changed in the mid-seventies to cause the obesity epidemic was a step in the wrong direction. Home cooking and cooking from scratch was far healthier than today's diet. Read the label to find out what's in the processed food you buy. (A Bachelor's degree in chemistry helps here.) Or control what you stir in. Leave out what you don't care for and double up on what you love. There are lots of dishes that are easy and fun to cook—and delicious to eat. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook offers great suggestions for the full week's menu. A few extra special dishes are available for holidays and guests.

 

Special money saving tip: shop the periphery of the grocery store. The healthy ingredients are along the walls. The salty, sugary, high-priced stuff is in the middle. Sounds like something packaged by a politician.  Eating well needn't be expensive.

 

October 18, 2019

 

Mushrooms are a versatile food. They are delicious a thousand different ways. Mushrooms Diablo form The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook is one more great way to present them to friends and family. The devilÕs own mushrooms: not for the faint of heart as the name implies. This mushroom dish began in a grill wok over a charcoal fire. It got raves from every guest who tried it. Mushrooms Diablo is a dish youÕll want to serve year round. It translated well into the kitchen. Ignore the weatherman. ItÕs going to be hot tonight.

1 lb mushrooms—quartered

3 tbsp soy sauce

¼ cup plus 1 tbsp olive oil

½ onion—sliced thick

2 cloves garlic—minced

1 cup Pico de Gallo salsa

¼ cup nacho-sliced jalape–os

Salt and pepper

 

Marinate the mushrooms in the soy sauce and ¼ cup of olive oil.

Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a wok or a frying pan and cook the onions and garlic over medium heat—stirring often—until they are soft. Add the marinated mushrooms to the wok or frying pan and stir-fry 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Stir in the salsa and the jalapenos. Add salt and pepper to taste.

October 11, 2019

 

As the sun migrates south for the winter, it's time to dust off the old slow cooker. There's something about the aroma of dinner simmering on the counter that chases autumn chills away. For best results, make it a classic comfort food like this pork chili from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. The book offers a selection of dishes to last all year long. Recipes range comfort foods like this one for day-to-day eating, to restaurant quality dinners without quality restaurants prices for special occasions.

2 lb boneless pork

Vegetable oil

1 onion

1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes

2 cups frozen corn

1 can black beans

1 tsp or cube beef bouillon

1 can (8oz) chopped green peppers

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp minced garlic

½ tsp salt

½ tsp cayenne pepper

½ tsp black pepper

1 cup burgundy (optional)

 

Optional

Cheddar cheese

Sour cream

 

Cut the pork into 1½" cubes. Fry over medium heat in a dab of cooking oil. Stir and brown on all sides—about 5 minutes. Transfer the meat to a slow cooker leaving the fat and oil in the frying pan.

Chop the onion, and add to the frying pan. Stir scrapping the bottom of the pan to capture all the meat-browning residue. Cook until the onions turn soft and brown—about 5 more minutes. Pour the contents of the pan over the meat in the slow cooker. Stir in the tomatoes, corn, beans, bouillon, peppers, chili powder, garlic, salt, cayenne, pepper and 1 cup of water or burgundy.

Cover and cook on low (200”F) for 6 hours.

Serve with grated cheddar cheese and sour cream if you like.

October 4, 2019

 

Healthy food beats health food. Guests ask for seconds of dishes that taste good. They take a polite bite of dishes that only taste "good for them." The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook offers dozens of recipes to dress everyday vegetables up. This column presents more from time to time. This week's menu suggestion is a family favorite from the cookbook: Two Paws-Up Brussels Sprouts. Look for healthy alternatives to steam table vegetables in the book.

In development, this dish grew one of those long descriptive names, shorthand for the main ingredients. Then one day, a pint of left overs fell on the floor. By the time I got back with the broom and the dustpan, they were gone. The dog had leapt on them and devoured all of them. This became my dogÕs favorite Brussels sprouts dish. His review: two paws up. The name stuck.

Cook a batch of two paws up Brussels sprouts. YouÕll have the dogÕs undivided attention in the second step, and accolades from the rest of the crowd in the third.

1 lb Brussels sprouts—quartered

Salt

3 slices bacon

1 tbsp olive oil

½ onion—diced

4 cloves of garlic—sliced

2 tsp thyme

1 tsp salt—kosher if you have it

½ tsp pepper

1½ tsp balsamic vinegar

 

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Brussels sprouts. Cook covered for 5 minutes. Drain them and set aside.

Meanwhile stir-fry the bacon 3 to 6 minutes over medium heat until brown. Drain on a paper towel. Slice the bacon into 1" pieces. Pour off any excess bacon fat. Add olive oil plus the onion and garlic. Stir-fry the mixture until the onion is soft—about 4 minutes. Stir in the thyme, the salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium high. Add the reserved Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally about 3 minutes. The sprouts should be warm and tender.

Remove from the heat. Toss with the bacon and the balsamic vinegar.

September 27, 2019

 

Brighten your side dishes until they rival the main dish for attention. Fresh, frozen, or canned: vegetables can bore even the hungriest of eaters. They don't have to. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook offers dozens of ways of dressing those healthy green sides up. Most of them outshine what's offered in high-end restaurants. The head chef focuses on the main dishes named on the menu. The sous-chef keeps the vegetable of the day lukewarm on the steam table. You can do better than that.

A side of green beans can be a chore or a pleasure to eat.  Add a few touches and transform them into something you'll be proud to serve. Try this simple recipe to cure the leftover problem at your table.

1 lb string beans

½ lb mushrooms

4 tbsp butter or margarine

½ tsp season salt

¼ cup slivered almonds

 

Simmer the beans in salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Slice the mushrooms while the beans are cooking. Melt the butter of margarine in a skillet, and sautŽ the mushrooms in it until they turn brown. Add the season salt and the almonds, Stir the reserved beans in and simmer about 4 minutes.

September 20, 2019

 

Barbecue isn't just for steaks and burgers. Fish and vegetables are great from the grill too. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook offers dozens of tasty and easy suggestions to complete outdoor dining.. It's still barbecue season everywhere. There's still time to try this delicious side dish before the faint of heart retreat to the kitchen for the winter.

Asparagus belongs on your grill. It's best if it doesn't fall through the grate. That calls for careful placement and restraint from vigorous stirring. Alternatively, add a grill screen or a grill basket to the tasty asparagus recipes in the cookbook. Another delicious alternative is to tie the spears together in bunches too big to fall through the holes. Bacon is the perfect wrapper to do that.

Bacon-wrapped asparagus is an ideal side dish. It complements just about any main dish you're cooking. Assemble asparagus bundles during lulls in the rush of cooking. Toss them on the barbecue at the end and cook for 12 minutes—about the time your main dish is resting. They'll come to the table—hot off the grill—just in time for the meal.

1 tsp chili powder

½ tsp sugar

4 slices bacon

24 to 32 spears asparagus

8 wooden toothpicks

Combine the chili powder and the sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cut the bacon strips in two lengths and lay them out side by side. Dust them with the chili powder mixture.

Wrap 3 or 4 spears of asparagus in one of the bacon strips. (Use 3 if the asparagus is good sized or 4 if it's skinny.) Secure the bundle with a toothpick. Set it aside. Repeat until you have made 8 bacon-wrapped bundles.

Grill 12 minutes turning once. The bacon should be crisp and the asparagus done.

September 13, 2019

 

Everything is better with bacon on it. A scattering of bacon bits spells the difference between junior high steam table vegetables and exotic treats. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook offers delicious alternatives to everyday vegetables. Fresh-made bacon bits turned plain old Brussels sprouts into a "Two Paws Up" delight even the dogs wolfed down.

This week we offer s a great way to take green beans from good to great. That's the champagne taste part. A beer budget tip: make bacon ends from bacon bits. They look and taste just as good after you chop them up.

1 lb green beans, trimmed

salt

3 strips of bacon

½ onion, chopped fine

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp red pepper flakes

¼ cup slivered almonds

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

pepper

 

Cook the beans in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Drain the beans and set them aside.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large frying pan. Drain it on paper towels and set aside.

Pour off most of the bacon grease and sautŽ the onions in the rest 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes. Stir briefly and then add the green beans and the almonds to the pan. Cook 5 minutes. Crumple the bacon and add it. Add the vinegar, the almonds, the salt and pepper. Toss and serve.

September 6, 2019

 

Grilling takes pineapple in a delicious new direction. A bed of pineapple slices made a superb grilled salmon fillet. Pineapple is great on its own right. It's a versatile tropical fruit—a welcome addition to any course of any meal: breakfast, lunch or dinner; appetizer, side dish or dessert. Alone or mixed with other fruits, pineapple is a healthy treat.

Pineapple evolved in the hot tropical regions of South America. By the time Columbus arrived, pineapple was part of Native American agriculture and commerce. Pineapple was one of the New World treasures Columbus brought back from his first expedition. The fruit reminded him of the cones from pine trees, so he named it pine of India. The name stuck and morphed into todayÕs name pineapple. Pineapples were an immediate hit in Europe both as table decorations and as delicacies. The pineapple is a tropical plant and didnÕt grow well in the more moderate European climate. Greenhouses were required, but those were expensive, so only the rich could afford pineapple then.

Modern transportation imports pineapple from ideal growing areas at reasonable costs. Today, everyone can enjoy pineapple. ItÕs great plain or fancy. HereÕs an easy grill dish that lends it something extra. Grilled pineapple slices offer a great presentation for an appetizer or a main dish. (Add a scoop of ice cream for dessert.) Serious pineapple addicts like me use freah slices from a pineapple corer. Canned ones work well for everyone else. They are faster and keep in your pantry until an occasion arises. Pineapple chunks taste just as good. Skewer them with fish, meats or vegetables for a great dish. Enjoy.

4 slices of pineapple

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp rum

Lay the pineapple in the bottom of a shallow dish or pan. Sprinkle the pineapple with sugar and rum. Let sit an hour—turning once.

Grill over a direct barbecue fire 5 minutes on each side. (A grill basket works well for this step.) Remove the pineapple from the fire and serve.

August 30, 2019

 

Cauliflower is now a Sunday-morning kind of vegetable. Riced cauliflower is available in most modern grocery stores. It's a great low-carbohydrate alternative ingredient in great dishes from bread sticks to pizza. Cauliflower isnÕt just for breakfast any more. Here's a flavorful brunch dish to delight friends an relatives. Any recipe that starts with five slices of bacon has to be special;

 

5 slices bacon

2 tbsp butter or margarine

½ onion chopped

4 cloves garlic minced

2 cups riced cauliflower

2 eggs

1 cup Parmesan cheese grated

 

Preheat the oven to 350”F. Butter or spray a baking dish.

 

Fry the bacon until crisp. Crumble into it bacon bits.

 

Melt the butter of margarine over medium heat in a frying pan. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions begin to brown. Stir the cauliflower in and cook for a minute.

 

Beat the eggs in a bowl. Blend in the onion mixture, the Parmesan cheese, and the bacon bits. Spoon the combination into the baking dish.

 

Bake for 1 hour at 350”F. Let cool 5 minutes and serve.

 

August 23, 2019

 

Tomatoes are at their best, and it's too hot to cook. It's the perfect time of gazpacho. This classic Spanish dish is the salad you eat with a spoon. Gazpacho was adapted from a Moorish dish during their occupation of Spain. Gazpacho began as a peonsÕ dish—food for peasants. DonÕt let that discourage you. Remember: lobster was once a poor personsÕ dish. Look how well that turned out. Give gazpacho a try.

Ripe tomatoes star in modern gazpacho recipes. The original Moorish version contained none. Columbus hadnÕt brought tomatoes back from the New World yet. In the beginning, many Europeans shunned tomatoes as non-Christian food because they werenÕt mentioned in the Bible. Others assumed tomatoes were poison because rest of the plant was. Tomatoes have been exonerated on the poison charges, and have no lingering religious issues. Today, modern tomato-based gazpachos are even better than the original recipe.

The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook recipe spruces up a medley of tomatoes and other fresh vegetables. It adds an oil and vinegar dressing of its own. Prepare this soup in a blender and chill it. No cooking necessary. Serve the soup cold. ThereÕs little danger of leftovers; but if you do prepare too much, it will keep in the refrigerator. Gazpacho celebrates the fresh vegetables of summer—flawless red tomatoes, glistening green peppers, aromatic onions and more. Serve it chilled for a refreshing summer time dinner.

4 large tomatoes

½ green pepper—seeded

½ onion

2 stalks celery

3 green onions

1 tbsp or 3 sprigs parsley

2 cloves garlic—peeled

½ cup cold water

2 tbsp tarragon wine vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

¼ tsp pepper

A few drops of Tabasco sauce (optional)

 

Cut the tomatoes, peppers, onions and celery into manageable-size pieces. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Scoop some into a blender jar and chop until all the large pieces have been processed (10 to 15 seconds). Pour the contents into a second bowl and repeat until finished. Chill and serve in soup bowls.

August 16, 2019

 

Make Brussels sprouts taste so great you'll forget they're good for you. Brussels sprouts are a versatile vegetable. The Champpagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook shows they can be served up a dozen delectable ways.  Fresh sprouts are delicious boiled, broiled, steamed or fried. They play well with other vegetables, especially onions and garlic. Here's a quick stove-top preparation that adds a hint of lemon flavor to dinner.

 

1 lb Brussels sprouts

1½ tbsp butter or margarine

2 green onions

1 tsp lemon zest

2 tsp lemon juice

thyme

Kosher salt and black pepper

 

Clean and halve the Brussels sprouts. Dice the green onions.

 

Melt the butter or margarine over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the Brussels sprouts and the onions. Stir for a minute to coat them.

 

Add ⅔ cup of water and a little kosher salt. Cover and cook for 7 minutes. Uncover and cook 5 minutes longer to boil most of the water off.

 

Stir the lemon zest and the lemon juice in. Sprinkle some thyme in and season to taste with additional salt, pepper and lemon juice.

 

August 9, 2019

 

Only grilling could improve salmon baked with pineapple. That recipe translated with ony minor modifications. A single pineapple made an eight slice bed for the salmon. Smoking with apple wood added just the right touch of sweetness.

 

Apple wood chips or chunks

8 pineapple rings, fresh of canned

1 3 lb salmon filet—skin on

Kosher salt and pepper

3 tbsp melted butter or margarine

3 tbsp ketchup

2 tbsp parsley

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp grated ginger

2 tsp sesame oil

½ tsp red pepper flakes

 

Preheat the grill to 350”F. Soak a handful of wood chips or chunks in water.

 

Salt and pepper both sides of the salmon filet. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl.

 

When the fire has reached temperature, drop the smoking chips or chunks on the fire. Then arrange the pineapple slices in two rows along the center of the grill. Lay the filet skin-side down on top of the pineapple slices, and slather the mixture over the top of the salmon filet.

 

Bake 25 minutes at 350”F.

 

 

August 2, 2019

 

There's a glut of eggs on the market and vegetables are at their prime. This is the perfect time for a fancy frittata. An artistic presentation takes your brunch from good to great. The aroma of a frittata baking in the oven tantalizes the whole house with the promise of great taste to come. Pull this fancy frittata out of the oven, and you'll want to dig in before it cools off. But don't. Give everyone a chance to admire this fancy frittata. It tastes as good as it looks.

10-12 spears of asparagus

1 onion halved and sliced thin

½ red or green bell pepper chopped

½ lb mushrooms sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

8 eggs

½ cup cottage cheese

2 tbsp lemon juice

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

Remove the woody stems of the asparagus spears. Put the spears in boiling salt water. Boil them 10 minutes and remove them from the water. Cut the top 4 to 6" off each spear. Select the prettiest ones for your design and set those aside. Chop the rest of the asparagus into 1 to 2" pieces.

While the asparagus cooks, preheat the oven to 350”F and prepare the onions, the peppers, and the mushrooms.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a 10 to 12" skillet. Add the vegetables plus the small pieces of asparagus. Cook for 8 minutes stirring occasionally.

Make an egg batter while that's cooking. Whisk the eggs, cottage cheese, and lemon juice together. Add salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the cooked vegetables. Array the reserved spears on top like the petals of a flower or the spokes of a wheel.

Bake 20 – 25 minutes and let stand 5 minutes. Let your guests admire your creation before cutting and serving it.

July 26, 2019

 

It's tough to study when you're hungry or anemic. A new semester of student starvation is just beginning. It's not the lure of the monastic life that drives students to this choice. It's the money. With tuition, books and fees: there's never enough left to eat properly. Fast food and skipped meals are the only way to make ends meet.

Home cooking beats hunger and anemia. Quick affordable meals help a student survive college. A dinner break lets the student return to the books refreshed and primed to learn. Sharing with a roommate or two means dinner every night with cooking only a couple of times a week. With practice, a student's meals becomes good enough to attract friends—even those of the opposite sex.

The key to healthy college eating is The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. ItÕs a collection of recipes developed through years of school and bachelorhood and beyond. Meals are made from common ingredients. Most are quick and easy to prepare. They fit college budget and the college lifestyle. The instructions for beer can chicken begin "Open beer. Drink half." Stopping at half may be a challenge. The home cooking in the book will keep the student healthy and happy without breaking the bank. The book is all they'll need. Several recipes are even suitable for a first date.

Buy the cookbook for all your students heading to college this fall. It's the only bargain you'll find É and the beginning of the reference library they'll carry home from school after they graduate. It's one they'll still be using when their student loans are finally paid off.

 

July 19, 2019

 

The most popular "French" dish of all isn't some gourmet delight at all. It isn't even French. French fries are an American invention. Thomas Jefferson is served them at diplomatic receptions before potatoes became popular in Europe.

French fried potatoes are available at the finest restaurants. TheyÕre the mainstay of more modest restaurants, and fast food joints. The best French fries come from your own kitchen. Enjoy French fries; theyÕre as American as apple pie.

Fry potato sticks in a deep pot of boiling oil. (I use canola oil to avoid smoke.) Once you taste French fries from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook, you will want to serve them again and again. Invest in an electric fry cooker if you plan to make French fries at home often.

4 to 6 medium potatoes

Canola oil

 

Heat the oil to boiling, about 325”F in a deep straight-sided pan. Better yet heat the oil in fry cooker designed for the process.

Peel the potatoes if you like. Wash them, and then cut them into ¼" x ¼" sticks. Let them dry on a paper towel. Immerse them in the hot oil and cook for 17 minutes. Drain, salt and serve.

 

July 12, 2019

 

DonÕt count on a lot of onion rings surviving to reach the dinner table. The aroma draws a crowd into the kitchen. Everybody is tempted to try just one or two while they're milling about. For a special treat: surprise your guests with fried onion rings. French fried potatoes are a great staple for everyday. They're healthiest and tastiest when prepared from scratch. The recipe is in the The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. Onions are a great change of pace.

Fried onion rings are one of those last-minute side dishes—best served hot. Prepare them after your guests arrive. It's a challenge to cook them as fast as your kitchen hanger-on-ers can snatch them up. Enjoy, but be prepared to make a second batch. They'll ask for more.

Once you've sampled onions or potatoes deep-fried from scratch, you will want to cook them again and again. A fondue pot or a saucepan on the stove works for once in a while. Something more permanent will let you serve them regularly. I keep an electric deep-fat fryer filled with canola oil in the refrigerator ready for the next craving. (Canola oil has a high smoke temperature.)

Canola oil

1 large onion or 2 medium ones

¼ cup flour

Salt and pepper

 

Preheat the oil.

Prepare the onion. Cut the top off and peel the paper-like layers off leaving the root end intact. Slice the onions thin. A mandoline works well for this. Discard the root section. Separate the onion slices into rings and put them in a plastic or paper bag. Add the flour and shake the bag to coat the onion rings.

Remove the onion rings from the bag, shake them to remove excess flour, and then add small batches of them into the hot oil. Leave them loose and cook stirring occasionally until a rich brown color—about 10 minutes. Remove the onion rings. Drain on paper towels and season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

July 5,2019

 

Salmon who smoke may grow up to be lox. There are at least a hundred ways to prepare salmon, each one better than the other. Salmon is right at home on the grill. Smoking makes it extra special. With a little preparation, you can prepare the finest lox to ever grace a bagel. These faux lox can be a treat for company at Sunday brunch, but donÕt wait for them. Treat yourself to smoked salmon soon.

 

1 lb salmon filet

½ cup rum

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup kosher salt

½ tbsp black pepper

 

Skin the filet with your sharpest knife. Remove any little bones with pliers or tweezers. Rinse the filet under running water and pat it dry. Lay the filet flat in a dish just large enough to hold it. Pour the rum over it and marinate it for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the remaining ingredients, Set the mixture aside. Remove the filet from the rum and pat it dry. Wipe the dish and lay a third of the mixture in the bottom. Place the filet cut-side down on top of it. Spread the rest of the mixture over the filet. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for four hours. Remove the filet and rinse it when thatÕs complete.

Presoak a generous handful of wood chips for half an hour. Set the grill up for indirect cooking. Preheat the grill and oil the grate. Put the wood chips on top of the coals. Place the filet over a drip pan away from the heat. Cover and smoke until done—about 20 minutes. Remove the fish and let it cool on a rack.

June 28, 2019

 

It's the Fourth of July and barbecue season is in full swing. Here's a side dish that's been the hit of every pot luck picnic for years. There's nothing like a pot of beans to compliment whatever is cooking on the grill. Beans are good for you. DonÕt let this "good for you" talk deter you: try them, they taste good too. I used to make this three-bean pot with canned beans, but I could never find canned white lima beans. The dry beans were available. As long as I was going to cook those up, I might as well do the kidney beans right along with them. Homemade beans are better any ways. Use baked beans from the can. Those have to be baked 24 hours.

Canned or from scratch, you can do it either way.

 

1 cup dry lima beans or 2 1 lb cans of white lima beans

1 cup dry kidney beans or 2 1 lb cans of kidney beans

1 lb bacon

1 large onion chopped

1 large kielbasa sausage link—sliced

1 2 lb can baked beans

⅔ cup catsup

⅔ cup brown sugar

1 tsp dry mustard

 

If making the beans from scratch, place the lima beans and the kidney beans in a large bowl and cover with at least 6 cups of water. Let stand overnight. Drain and wash the beans in a colander.

IÕve read thereÕs a faster way to soak the beans. Put them in water to cover them. Bring to a boil and boil to two minutes. Let sit in that water for 2 hours, then drain and rinse the beans before proceeding. IÕve never tried that method, but if youÕre short on time, you might give it a try.

Place the soaked beans in your soup pot and cover with salted water. Cook 1 hour.

Meanwhile, fry the bacon and drain it well. Chop the onion and slice the kielbasa while you are waiting. A mandoline works well for this. Pour off excess drippings, and then stir-fry the onion and kielbasa until lightly browned.

Put all three kinds of beans, the catsup, brown sugar and mustard in a large pot. Add the fried onion and the sausage. (Crumble the bacon and add it now or hold it until the end.) Bring the mixture to a boil on high, then turn down to low and simmer for 1 hour.

Serve with crumbled bacon on top if not added earlier.

June 21, 2019

 

Shrimp scampi is a garlic loverÕs delight. It's one of many great recipes from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook that cook up a restaurant quality treat in minutes. No need for the most expensive shrimp in the store, here shrimp scampi works with the more modest sizes. Save the top of the line for company or first dates. Even then, you'll serve a dinner to remember without a price tag to match.

 

3 tbsp butter or margarine

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tbsp white wine

2 lb shrimp, shelled and de-veined

Salt and pepper

 

Melt the butter. Stir in the garlic and the wine. Place the shrimp in a single layer in a flameproof dish. Pour the sauce over the shrimp, salt and pepper to taste, and broil 5 minutes.

Serve over rice.

 

June 14, 2019

 

Salmon and pineapple sounded so great I had to try it. My new pineapple corer has led to more and more ways to prepare pineapple. There are a dozen fledgling plants growing in pots out back—waiting to see if they'll bear fruit on the mainland. Just twist the leafy green top off, strip away any dead or dying leaves, and grind the shoot into the dirt.

 

I didn't have a few ingredients in the original recipe on hand, so I made judicious substitutions. Turned out delicious. That's the kind of creativity that inspired many recipes in The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. Use what's there in a well-stocked kitchen. Don't skimp on flavor—just on last minute dashes to the grocery store. This salmon/pineapple recipe turned out a winner. Bake one for a special occasion soon.

 

Cooking spray

8 pineapple rings, fresh of canned

1 3 lb salmon filet—skin on

Kosher salt and pepper

3 tbsp melted butter or margarine

3 tbsp ketchup

2 tbsp chopped cilantro

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp grated ginger

2 tsp sesame oil

½ tsp red pepper flakes

 

Preheat the oven to 350”F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper if desired. Cover the pan with cooking spray. Arrange the pineapple slices in two rows along the center of the pan.

 

Salt and pepper both sides of the salmon filet. Lay the filet skin-side down on top of the pineapple slices. Set aside.

 

Combine the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl, and slather the mixture over the top of the salmon filet.

 

Bake 25 minutes at 350”F on the top rack of the oven. Switch to broil for 2 minutes. Serve warm.

 

June 7, 2019

 

Home cooking begins as soon as the honeymoon ends. It's time for the groom to do his part in the kitchen. His first offering should be a success—no matter how alien the kitchen seems to him. Here's a simple dish from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook that will make him comfortable there. It uses only the basics of his recent bachelor kitchen: one pot, one knife, one can opener, and one church key. It makes a great meal and his kitchen cleans up in a flash. After his initial success, he may dare to trespass in the kitchen again. Let The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook be his cheat sheet there. It's packed full of fast and easy recipes that turn out great.

 

Give the groom a copy of this book ands start the happy couple off on the right foot. He'll probably decide to share his secret with his bride to avoid a year of new-bride dinners, or his own promotion to chief cook. Together, they'll share years of restaurant quality dinners without quality restaurant prices

 

Many people make chili as a stew, or something even thicker to slather on hot dogs> I grew up believing that chili was a liquid. ThatÕs how my mother made it—except for the extra garlic. Add some grated cheddar cheese, and a quesadilla and you have a simple meal that will warm your heart and your hearth.

 

1 tbsp oil

1 onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb ground beef

½ tsp ginger

1 2-quart can tomato juice

1 14.5-oz can kidney beans

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp chili powder

 

Heat the oil in a soup pot. Chop the onion and brown it over medium high heat. Add garlic and the ground beef. Stir to break the meat up. When the beef is browned, add the remaining ingredients and simmer for ½ hour.

 

May 31, 2019

 

Barbecue season is here at last. Start it off right with a beer can chicken. It will be the moistest roast chicken you've ever had because it steams while it cooks. A can of beer boiling inside it keeps the chicken from drying out. Beer, soft drinks, wine, whatever: whole books have been written about variations on the theme of beer can chicken. There are many good ones, some of the simplest are outstanding.

A beer-can chicken cooks standing up. The body cavity slides over a can of spiced beer or other liquid. The can and the chickenÕs two legs support the bird during cooking. Wire or ceramic stands are available for those of us who serve beer-can chicken often.

Traditional beer-can chicken is smoked on a charcoal grill. The upright chicken is tall, and may not fit many grills. My Kamado cooker works well for beer-can chicken. The skin comes out crisp and the meat comes out moist.

2 handfuls of wood chips or chunks

1 12-ounce can beer

1 3-5 lb chicken

Your favorite seasonings

2 green onions chopped

2 cloves garlic diced

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

 

Soak one or two handfuls of wood chips or a few chunks in water. Apple or peach work well. Clean the grill. Light a charcoal pyramid with a six briquette by four briquette base. Prepare the chicken while you're waiting. The fire and the wood chips should be ready in half an hour.

Open the beer. Drink half.

Remove the extra goodies from the body cavity and trim the excess fat out of the chicken. Rinse inside and out and pat dry. Sprinkle salt, pepper and your favorite seasonings inside the bird. Salt and pepper the chicken skin

Remove the pull-tab from the half-full beer, and open another large hole with a church key. Pour more seasonings into the can and add the onions and garlic. Slide the beer can up into the chickenÕs body cavity. Keeping the can upright, pull the chickenÕs legs forward until it can stand on its own two feet (plus the can.)

In half an hour when the coals are ashed over. Use a shovel or a trowel to move the coals into two fires: one along each side of the grill. Place an aluminum foil drip pan between the two fires. Add about a ½" of water

Scatter the soaked chips or chunks over the fires, stand the chicken in the center of the grill, and close the cover. If using chips, soak some and add every half hour. Cook until an instant-read thermometer shows a temperature of 165”F for the thighs, about an hour. Remove from the grill and let rest five minutes.

Remember the beer is still scalding hot. Be careful sliding the chicken off the can.

 

May 24, 2019

 

Starting out is the hardest part. Millions of young couples will take that first step on the longest journey of their lives together this June. They'll return from their honeymoon to a treasure trove of great gifts—lacking only the everyday essentials. Oh sure, got have fancy china for entertaining the in-laws, a dozen champagne flutes, and a crystal party bowl. But how about some flatware, a skillet, and a coffee pot? They'll have to acquire the basics to build their new life together. Then they'll have to learn how to use them.

 

Their relationship's focus shifts to the kitchen. Mom's home cooking and restaurant food become special events. Meals don't cook themselves. Somebody has to make them. It ain't as easy as Mom made it look, and nobody's taste buds went to sleep. Dinners need to be easy but tasty. Blew the budget on the wedding; the honeymoon ate any leftovers? Dinners need to be affordable too.  The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook has the answers. Easy fun recipes using common ingredients create restaurant quality meals without quality restaurant prices.

 

Include the cookbook in a gift basket of practical items—the ones they'll use every day. They'll remember you long after they've forgotten which aunt gave them that garish platter.

 

May 17, 2019

 

Eggs Benedict finished off the Costco-size egg packet with a flourish. It was been a couple of delicious weeks working through the five-dozen eggs Joy brought home from Costco. There were soufflŽs, frittatas, and omelets. The Eggs Benedict recipe from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook was the crowning glory. It was truly a brunch worthy of Mothers' Day morning. Don't wait until next Mothers' Day to try this one. Don't wait until five-dozen eggs appear on your doorstep. Serve this dish at your next special morning. This is just one of a dozen great brunch recipes from the book ready to make another morning special.

 

Restaurant Eggs Benedict always include a slice of ham. ItÕs best that way. If thereÕs no ham in the house, bacon is an excellent substitute.

 

2 English muffins

2 strips of bacon or 4 small slices of ham

4 eggs

Hollandaise sauce (Recipe follows.)

Butter or margarine

 

Pan-fry the bacon or ham. Split and toast the English muffins. Poach the eggs with a dab of butter or 1/2 tsp of bacon fat. Assemble the eggs Benedict: put the ham or bacon on the English muffin halves, and then put one poached egg on top. Pour 2 tbsp of Hollandaise sauce over each. Serve hot.

Hollandaise Sauce

 

Hollandaise sauce is a souped-up lemon butter sauce. Use it wherever you would use lemon butter and more. ItÕs great on eggs, seafood and vegetables. Enjoy it in Eggs Benedict or one of the Oskar dishes offered in The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook.

 

This blender Hollandaise sauce is quick and easy. YouÕll be tempted to use it everywhere. Please do, but remember, itÕs made with raw egg, so use it up in a day or two.

 

½ cup butter or margarine

3 egg yolks

2 tbsp lemon juice

¼ tsp salt

12 drops Tabasco sauce

 

Melt the butter or margarine. Place the remaining ingredients in the blender. Cover and whip. Pour the melted butter in a steady stream through the opening in the top. Stop as soon as all the butter is added.

 

May 10, 2019

 

SoufflŽs make exotic side dishes. This onion soufflŽ will steal the show at this Mother's Day dinner table. (Yes, the race to use up Costco-size package on eggs continues. Discovering this recipe was one of the bonuses for running the race.)  Its oniony taste was milder than might be expected from three large onions. The flavor complimented pork fillet mignon from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. Add this to your next festive table. It will add a novel taste—maybe even a new topic of conversation. It won't overpower your main dish feature.

 

My clay pot cooked this dish to perfection. If you don't have one, you can substitute any deep Corning ware dish. If you do, preheat the oven and cut the cooking time to 25 minutes.

 

¼ cup + 1 tbsp butter of margarine (divided use)

3 large onions

2 tbsp flour

¾ tsp salt

⅛ tsp white pepper

pinch nutmeg

¼ cup half and half

6 eggs

⅛ tsp cream of tartar

2 tbsp slivered almonds

 

Chop the onions fine. A mandolin saves work here/

 

Melt ¼ cup of butter or margarine in a large saucepan. Add the onions and stir them to coat. Cover and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes—stirring occasionally.

 

Soak the top and bottom of the clay cooker under water for 15 minuts or more.

 

Stir the flour into the cooked onions. Add salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Remove from the heat. Blend the half and half in gradually. Return to the heat and cook until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat.

 

Separate the eggs. Stir the yolks into the onion blend one at a time. Add cram of tartar to the egg whites and beat them until thickened. GENTLY fold the beaten egg whites into the onion mixture.

 

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter or margarine and paint the interior of the clay pot with it. Pour the onion preparation in. Sprinkle the top with almonds. Cover and insert the pot into a cold oven. Set the oven to 400”F and cook 45 minutes. Serve immediately.

 

May 3, 2019

 

Impress Mom with a soufflŽ. They taste like love. SoufflŽs require patience and a bit of skill. Mom will be relieved to discover she raised you with both. There are main dish soufflŽs and side dish soufflŽs. Brunch and dessert soufflŽs too. Which will you chose to make her day?

 

This crab soufflŽ made a delicious dinner. It was the first of a long line of soufflŽs around here. Joy discovered Costco had a good price on eggs when she bought five dozen. What do two senior citizens do with five dozen eggs? Omelets, frittatas, and soufflŽs—lots and lots of soufflŽs.  Watch for more great egg dishes in the coming weeks. Forget all the cholesterol hype you've heard. Eggs have been exonerated. They are great sources of protein. They contain all the vitamins and minerals necessary to grow a baby chicken. Enjoy them in good health.

 

My clay pot cooked this dish to perfection. If you don't have one, you can substitute any deep Corning ware dish. If you do, preheat the oven and cut the cooking time to 40 minutes.

 

5 tbsp butter or margarine (divided use)

¼ cup flour

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp dry mustard

⅛ tsp cayenne pepper

1½ cups milk

2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

½ lb imitation crab flakes

1 rib celery

2 green onions

6 eggs (separated)

1 tbsp lemon juice

⅛ tsp cream of tartar

 

Soak the top and bottom of the clay cooker in water for 15 minutes or longer.

 

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter or margarine over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Blend in the flour, the salt, the mustard, and the cayenne pepper. Cook until the mixture bubbles. Remove from the heat and stir the milk in gradually. Cook stirring constantly until thickened and smooth. Add the cheese and cook until the cheese melts. Remove from the heat.

 

Dice the crab flakes. Slice the celery and the onions into small pieces. Set aside.

 

Separate the eggs and stir the yolks into the mixture one at a time. Then add the prepared crab flakes, celery and green onions. Add the lemon juice.

 

Melt the remaining butter or margarine and coat the sides of the soufflŽ dish with it.

 

Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat them until they stiffen. (This takes a few minutes with an electric beater.) Fold the beaten egg whites into the crab blend GENTLY. Pour the liquid into the cooker. Cover and place GENTLY into a cold oven. Set the oven to 400”F and cook for 1 hour. Serve straight form the oven.