Food 4 Thought

An eZine for People Who Eat

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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.

 

April 26, 2019

 

It's a rare vegetable that earns a Two-Paws-Up rating. This Brussels sprouts dish from The Champagne/Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook is one. My dogs proclaimed it such when a batch of leftovers hit the floor. By the time I got back with the broom and dustpan, they had leapt on the spill and devoured the whole thing. This was always my dogs' favorite Brussels sprouts dish. Their review: two paws up. The name stuck.

 

Cook a batch of two paws up Brussels sprouts soon. YouÕll have your dogÕs undivided attention and you'll make your mother proud. How many times did she tell you to eat your vegetables?  She never actually told you not to flavor them up with bacon, onions and garlic. Did she? Go ahead. It's good for you—even if it does taste great.

 

1 lb Brussels sprouts—quartered

Salt

3 slices bacon—cut into 1" pieces

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. 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 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.

 

April 19, 2019

 

Mom will love you for this salad. Start her Mother's Day dinner off with a salad that will make her proud of you. This one is made of fresh healthy ingredients—like the ones she tried to get you to eat all the while you were growing up. Wow, you're serving spinach. Good upbringing. Have you turned over a new leaf? Strawberries reach their peak just in time for Mother's Day. A few will decorate the looks and the taste of this great salad.

 

This spinach/strawberry salad gets Mom's celebration off to a great start. Keep up the good work. You'll discover recipes worthy on her special day throughout The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. Whichever ones you chose, they'll deliver restaurant quality entrees without quality restaurant prices. And you don't need reservations. Mom will be glad she raised such a wonderful kid.

 

1 bunch of spinach

½ lb strawberries

¼ lb mushrooms

Raspberry vinaigrette dressing

 

Wash the spinach. Cut or tear it into bite-size pieces. Slice the strawberries and the mushrooms.

 

Mix the ingredients in a large salad bowl. Pour raspberry vinaigrette dressing over them and toss the mixture thoroughly.

 

 

April 12, 2019

 

Easter's last hurray. Your Easter ham will feed the whole gang with leftovers to spare. There'll be enough for a dŽjˆ vu dinner. Then, sandwiches, casseroles, and omelets. Eventually, you come down to the bone within. A soup from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook will put that to delicious use.

 

Ten-bean soup is just good old pea soup on steroids. You have finally finished the ham. ThereÕs one more terrific meal in it before you give the bone to the dog. Off you go to the grocery store to pick up a package of split peas. Pea soup is the ultimate comfort food. Right next to the dried peas, you find seven-bean mixture or ten-bean mixture. Pea soup is good, but those are even better. Whichever one you bring home, try them in this recipe.

 

IÕve read thereÕs a faster way to prepare peas or beans. Put them in water to cover them. Bring to a boil and boil for two minutes. Let sit in that hot 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.

 

1 lb or more ten-bean mixture

Residue of bone-in ham

2 strips of bacon (optional)

1 large onion coarsely chopped

3 cloves of garlic minced

2 carrots

1½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 tsp dry mustard

½ tsp allspice

½ tsp sage

¼ tsp powdered cloves

 

Put the dried beans in a nonreactive bowl and cover with lots of water. Soak overnight.

 

Trim the fat off the ham and fry it in the bottom of a soup pot over a medium flame to liquefy it. If there isnÕt enough fat, add a few strips of bacon and fry them as well for their fat. Add the onion and stir-fry until soft. Add the garlic.

 

While the onions are cooking, pour the beans you soaked into a colander and wash them thoroughly. Cut the meat off the bone and dice. Peel and slice the carrots into bite-size pieces.

 

Add the ham bone, the meat, the beans, the carrots, and 6 cups of water to the fried onion mix. Add the salt, pepper, mustard, allspice, sage, and cloves to the pot. Stir well.

 

Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 2 hours or longer.

 

April 5, 2019

 

Grizzly bears love sushi. Humans have discovered many more great ways to serve salmon. Together, our ravenous appetite for salmon has decimated its population in the wild. In nature, salmon hatch far from the ocean. They swim thousands of miles to reach our tables. The young spend a year or two in fresh water feeding on creatures smaller than themselves. It's eat or be eaten out in the open ocean. Once the juveniles grow big enough to survive there, they migrate downstream to the ocean for years of hunting, eating and growing. Adults return to their birth place to spawn and die. It's an arduous journey against the current, up waterfalls and past predators.

 

People and grizzly bears snatch salmon on their final journey upstream. The Atlantic species population is so low that commercial fishing is no longer viable. Pacific salmon harvests have been drastically reduced. Bears, sportsmen and professionals fishermen vie for what's left of the wild salmon.

 

Most of today's salmon for people comes from fish farms. Pioneering farms began fifty years ago. They have out produced wild sources for the past three decades. Efforts to develop cost effective fish food and genetically engineered species promise a continuing supply of salmon for human tables. Salmon is great baked, grilled, smoked and more. Here's a recipe that worked well for me.

 

¼ cup butter or margarine

2-3 lb salmon filet

Salt and pepper to taste

Parsley flakes

 

Warm the roasting pan while preheating the oven to 475”F. Melt the butter or margarine on the stove or in a microwave.

 

When the oven reaches temperature, pour the melted butter into the roasting pan, Place the salmon filet in the melted butter skin side up before the butter starts to smoke.. Bake for 5 minutes. Turn the filet and bake it skin side down for 5 more minutes.

 

Transfer the filet to a platter skin side down. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Garnish it with parsley flakes.

 

March 29, 2019

 

Lite beer wars are cooked up on Madison Avenue. An Anheuser-Busch attack ad during Superbowl LIII started the latest feud. Its message pointed out that Miller Lite is made with high fructose corn syrup, Bud Lite isn't. This silly attempt to scare consumers was wrong on two counts.

 

Miller's high fructose corn syrup is consumed during brewing and doesn't appear in the final product. High fructose corn syrup is just sugar. All brewers use sugar to make beer. It feeds the yeast that ferment the beer. Yeast absorb sugar from the mix and digest it for energy. Without air around, they metabolize sugar

 

C6H12O6 2 CO2 + 2 C2H5OH

 

CO2 is the bubbles and C2H5OH is the buzz. When the sugar is used up, the yeast starve, and beer is born. The original sugar is long gone.

 

The implication that high fructose corn syrup is bad is baseless. High fructose corn syrup is just another sugar. The health implications aren't with the type of sugar we consume. They're with the quantity. Today's average American consumes his or her weight in sugar every year—more than the lifetime consumption by our ancestors. The epidemics of diabetes and obesity result from excess sugar consumption—not whether it came from cane or corn.

 

March 22, 2019

 

Made a great red sauce for the maiden voyage of my new le creuset pot. I won a beautiful red enamel-coated cast iron pot at a Toastmasters event. I put it to work preparing this simple sauce to welcome it to my kitchen. That sauce made a great Chicken Parmesan. The Champagne Taste/Beert Budget Cookbook is chock full of secret ingredient recipes that turn dull dishes into delicious dishes.

Spruce up many a drab dish with this simple tomato sauce. It's quick and easy to prepare. Plus it tastes as bright as it looks. A cup or two of this simple sauce transforms the ordinary to the extraordinary. Try it on chicken, fish or sauted vegetables.

¼ cup olive oil

½ onion

½ stalk celery

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp basil

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, dice the vegetables fine. Add them to the pan and sautŽ 6 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the basil and cook a minute longer.

Stir the tomatoes in. Bring the mixture to a boil. Drop the heat to medium low, partially cover the pot and simmer for half an hour. Season with salt and pepper.

March 15, 2019

 

If there were a dish that would cure me of an omnivoreÕs love of meat, this would be the one. The aroma of onions, and peppers, and Italian seasoning roasting beckons diners to the table. This is the main dish of choice for your vegetarian guests, and a complement to a fine Sunday roast for the rest of us.

This is just one of many delicious recipes you'll discover in The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook.

Cooking-oil spray

1 lb carrots

1 lb green beans

1 large onion

1 red or yellow pepper

6 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup olive oil

1½ tsp Italian seasoning

¼ tsp salt

Black pepper to taste

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 475”. Spray a 9"x13" roasting pan with the cooking-oil spray. Peel the carrots and cut them into 2" piecesÉor use baby carrots from the store. Add the carrots and the beans. Slice the onion thin and add it to the pan. Cut the pepper into quarters, seed it, and then cut it into ¼" strips. Add them to the vegetables in the pan. Sprinkle the garlic on and drizzle on the olive oil. Add the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir until the vegetables are uniformly coated with the oil.

Bake uncovered stirring every 15 minutes until done—about 45 minutes.

Take the pan out of the oven and drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the vegetables. Stir well and serve hot.

March 8, 2019

 

Pizza has been around almost as long as beer has. Beer has been bloating bellies for thirteen thousand years. Pizza came along soon after beer was invented. Together, the team of pizza and beer have been the bane of diets ever since. Today, there's light beer. Now there's diet pizza to go with it.

 

Same great taste without all the carbs. Make your next crust with cauliflower instead of wheat flower. This is another healthy food—not health food—in the spirit of The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. No need to go to some overpriced health food store for exotic ingredients; bags of riced cauliflower are available at your regular grocery store. YouÕre your own cauliflower yourself if you prefer. One head makes almost enough to prepare this recipe twice.

 

2 cups riced cauliflower

cooking spray

2 eggs

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup grated Mozzarella cheese

2 tsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp crushed garlic

1 tsp salt

 

Microwave the riced cauliflower for 5 minutes. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking oil. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 450”F.

 

Drain in the cauliflower in a colander. Squeeze it as dry as you can.

 

While the oven is warming, beat the eggs in a bowl, and then stir the prepared cauliflower in. Add the cheeses and the seasonings. Mix thoroughly to form cauliflower pizza dough.

 

Put the finished dough onto the oiled cookie sheet and spread it with a fork. The recipe makes two 9" crusts or one 12" pizzas. Work the dough to avoid holes. Tamp it hard enough that it won't fall apart when you remove it from the pan later.

 

Bake 15 minutes at 450”F.  Remove it from the oven, add your favorite toppings, and broil for a minute or two.

 

March 1, 2019

 

Hunter's Chicken—Chicken Cacciatore—is an Italian treat. I did hunt for this chicken. Being frugal enough to author a book named The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook, I hunted for a sale on chickens. I smothered my catch in mushrooms, onions and garlic. It simmered on the stove top, filling the whole house with enticing smells. Appetites were primed before the onions even met the chicken. Dinner delivered on the aroma's promise.

 

Hunt down a chicken sale of your own and give this recipe a try.

 

1 chicken or 4-5 lb chicken parts

½ cup olive oil

4 tbsp butter

½ onion

½ lb mushrooms

 3 cloves garlic

¾ cup white wine

2 bay leaves

1 tsp basil

½ tsp pepper

¼ cup ketchup

seasoned salt

2 tbsp brandy

 

Cut the chicken into manageable parts—eight is the usual yield from one fryer—or just pick up your favorite parts from the grocery store.

 

Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a frying pan large enough to hold all the chicken parts. Add the chicken skin side down and sautŽ uncovered 20 minutes. You may want to rotate the pieces to achieve uniform browning.

 

While that's cooking, melt the butter over medium heat in a separate skillet. Dice and add the onion. Slice and add the mushrooms. Add the garlic. Stir and cook 4 minutes.

 

When the chicken has browned, turn the parts skin side up. Pour the onion and mushroom preparation over them. Add the wine, bay leaves, basil and pepper. Simmer uncovered for 8 minutes. Stir the ketchup in and season salt to taste. Drop the heat to low and cook uncovered for 15 more minutes.

 

Sprinkle brandy over the finished chicken cacciatore and serve.

 

February 22, 2019

 

Valentine's Day or everyday, crab makes brunch a delight. Ready for a big meal? Try the crustless crab quiche from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. In a mood for just a little? Try these simple crab cups. They're delicious and they're good for you. Cauliflower rice makes fine quiche crust. I baked a batch of crusts in a cupcake pan and added quiche filling for personal quiches. They baked up great. Give this easy recipe a try when you're ready for a change up in your breakfast menu. (You'll want to double the recipe to make a pie pan size quiche.)

 

CRUST

Nonstick spray

1 egg

¼ tsp salt

⅛ tsp pepper

2 cups cauliflower rice

¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

 

FILLING

¼ lb mushrooms

3 eggs

cup shredded  mozzerla cheese

¼ cup chopped crabmeat (imitation works fine.)

 

Preheat the oven to 400”F. Spray the wells of a muffin pan with nonstick spray.

 

Whisk one egg with salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir the cauliflower rice and Parmesan cheese in. Press ¼ cup of the mixture into each prepared muffin cup. Use a spoon to press the mixture into cups. Bake for 15 minutes.

 

Slice and fry the mushrooms.

 

Prepare the filling while all that is happening. Dice the crabmeat. Whisk the eggs and then add the diced crabmeat, the fried mushrooms and the cheese. Spoon the mixture into the baked crusts. Return the pan to the oven and bake 8 minutes.

 

February 15, 2019

 

"Too much garlic" is an oxymoron. You can't have too much garlic. It lends great taste to the tamest of dishes, and—special bonus—it keeps werewolves away. Add some to whatever you're cooking tonight.

 

Garlic dresses up a chicken. The next time you roast one, nestle a few cloves of garlic around it. Turn it into the classic Chinese dish, Chicken with forty cloves of garlic. Cooking in a bed of garlic infuses the meat with a hint of garlic flavor. The garlic cloves are transformed into roasted garlic. The cooked ones are not as pungent as the raw ones. You can eat them right out of the pot. They're a soft and tasty alternative to butter or margarine. Smear them on crusty French or Italian bread to accompany dinner. Save them as magic ingredients for other dishes.

 

Clay pot chickens turn out great without a lot of fussing over them. Here's the clay pot version of chicken with forty cloves of garlic.

 

40 cloves garlic peeled

1 tbsp olive oil

¼ tsp rosemary

¼ tsp thyme

tsp sage

1 whole frying chicken

1 tbsp lemon juice

salt & pepper

 

Soak the top and bottom of the clay pot in water for 15 minutes or more.

 

Cover the bottom of the pot with the garlic cloves. Drizzle the olive oil over them and sprinkle with rosemary, thyme and sage. Place the chicken on top of the bed of garlic. Pour the lemon juice over the chicken and add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Place in a cold oven and heat to 475”F Cook for 75 minutes. Remove the top and let cook 10 more minutes. Serve with the juice and the garlics from the pan.

 

February 8, 2019

 

Candlelight and wine make Valentine's dinner an event. Romantic cooking scores big points. (Gentlemen, note: a man who cooks racks up extra points on this holiday.)  The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook offers several great suggestions to make this Valentine's Night special. There are several variations on filet mignon, plus some delicious alternatives to the usual. Surprise your significant other with one of the book's most popular dishes—bacon-wrapped crab-stuffed shrimp.

Oh, by the way: for bonus points, The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook also includes some great suggestions for champagne brunch on the morning after your romantic dinner the night before. Buy your copy today.

2 lb #6-8 shrimp

¼ cup melted butter or margarine

¼ lb crab—imitation is okay

1 small onion or 2 green onions

1 stalk celery

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp salt

Dash of cayenne pepper

1 tsp dry mustard

1 lb thin sliced bacon

Wooden toothpicks

 

Clean, de-vein and butterfly the shrimp. Set aside.

Prepare the crab stuffing. Chop the crab, onion and celery fine—a food processor works well for this. Mix with the breadcrumbs, the egg, salt, cayenne pepper, and mustard. Add the melted butter and mix well.

Assemble the bacon-wrapped crab-stuffed shrimp. Drape a strip of bacon diagonally across your palm. Cross the bacon with one of the shrimp—cut side up and opened flat. Place a heaping tablespoon of the stuffing on the shrimp and form it into a little log. Wrap the ends of the bacon strip to cover the stuffing. Secure the whole thing with a couple of toothpicks through the bacon and the body of the shrimp. Set aside and repeat until you run out of shrimp.

Preheat the broiler. Lay the shrimp out in a single layer on your broiler pan. Broil until just done—about 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second. Do not overcook.

February 1, 2019

 

Baby, it's cold outside. This is the season for those slow cooker dishes that fill the house with warm smells all day long. My grocery store had big chunks of pork sirloin on sale the other day. I bought one and cut it into 3 pound pieces. Now I'm exploring slow cooker magic. Orange juice added a surprising new taste to a pork roast. Here's a recipe I'll want to cook again.

 

1 pork roast (3-4 lb)

½ tsp salt

tsp pepper

1 6 oz can frozen orange juice concentrate—thawed

¼ cup honey

⅛ tsp ground cloves

⅛ tsp ground nutmeg

 

Sprinkle the roast with salt and pepper.

 

Combine the remaining ingredients and pour the mixture over the roast in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Drop the heat to low and cook 6 more hours.

 

January 25, 2019

 

The combination of mushrooms, bacon and Swiss cheese can be magic in the morning. The frittata is a versatile Italian omelet. It's one of those classic clean out the pantry dishes. Smidgens of leftovers turn a few eggs into a brunch event.  Many combinations work great. Here's a favorite combination of mine. What's in your refrigerator?

 

3 strips bacon

1 tbsp olive oil

½ lb mushrooms

½ green pepper

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

6 eggs

¾ cup Swiss cheese shredded

¼ cup Parmesan cheese grated

salt & pepper to taste

 

Fry the bacon over medium heat in a large ovenproof frying pan. While it's cooking, coarsely chop the pepper and the onion. Slice the mushrooms, and mince the garlic. Set them all the vegetables aside. Drain the cooked bacon on a paper towel. Pour off any excess bacon fat. Add the olive oil.

 

Preheat the broiler.

 

Add the onions and the mushrooms into the hot oil. Stir and cook about 2 minutes until the mushrooms start to release their juices. Add the peppers and the garlic. Stir and cook another 2 minutes.

 

In the meantime, chop or shred the bacon into bacon bits and set them aside. Whisk the eggs and the cheeses together in a separate bowl.

 

Scrape the fried vegetables loose and spread them into a uniform layer covering the bottom of the frying pan. Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the top. Smooth it into a uniform layer if necessary. Sprinkle the bacon bits plus the salt and pepper over the dish. Cook 5 minutes without stirring.

 

Broil 2 minutes and serve.

January 18, 2019

 

Nobody does spinach better than the Florentines. HereÕs a chicken dish in their style from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. You could make it with fresh spinach, but using frozen spinach saves a lot of preparation.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp plus 1 tsp butter or margarine

1 green onion finely chopped

¼ cup white wine

¼ cup chicken bouillon

Parsley

1 package of frozen chopped spinach

Nutmeg

1 tbsp flour

½ cup half and half

1 egg yolk

1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

 

Lay the chicken breasts out flat, smooth side down. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap them smooth side out and set aside.

Smear 1 teaspoon of butter or margarine in the bottom of a frying pan. Add the green onions and the chicken rolls seams down. Pour the wine and bouillon over the chicken. Sprinkle some parsley on and bring to a boil. Drop the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the spinach according to package directions. Transfer the spinach to a colander and squeeze the excess water out. Put the spinach in bottom of an ovenproof dish Sprinkle on salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in a tablespoon of butter or margarine.

Melt a tablespoon of butter or margarine over low heat in a small saucepan. Add the flour and whisk to blend. Pour the liquid from the chicken pot into the mixture and whisk until thickened. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the half and half. Cook 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the egg yolk.

Preheat the broiler.

Lay the chicken rolls seam down on top of the spinach in their ovenproof dish. Pour the sauce over it all. Sprinkle the chicken with a generous dollop of Parmesan. Run it under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

 

January 11, 2019

 

Did you resolve to eat healthier this year? The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook can help you. It's a healthy foods cookbook—not a health foods cookbook. Home cooking is healthier than prepared foods or restaurant meals. You control what goes into each dish—and how much. Avoid the excess sugar, salt, and carbohydrates hidden in commercial foods. Aren't those what your resolution is all about?

Resolutions last longer when they taste better. That's the difference between a healthy food book and a health food book. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook delivers on its title's promise—scrumptious, affordable meals. Written with the mantra that "cooking well should be as much fun as eating well," the meals are easy and fun to prepare. And delicious to eat. No oddball ingredients, everything needed is already in most kitchens. Follow instructions like "Open beer. Drink half," or "Marinate significant other. Set aside." Surprise your guests by cooking a Pregnant Turkey. Enjoy food quotes from authorities from James Beard to the Beatles.

January 4, 2019

 

Started the new year off with eggs Benedict. Didn't have ham on-hand, so I used this bacon-based recipe from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. Along with the Hollandaise sauce recipe from the book, this delicious breakfast was easy;

 

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 book.

 

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

 

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.

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.

 

December 28, 2018

 

Many Mexican meals are tasty, easy, and affordable. They're family pleasers in the spirit of The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. Here's a dish that got rave reviews at my dinner table the other night. It will be back by popular demand. Treat your crew to this imitation crab delicacy soon.

 

1 large onion

2 tbsp oil

1 lb imitation crabmeat

1 can refried beans

1 cup pico de gallo style salsa

1 tbsp garlic salt

12 8" flour tortillas or 6 12" flour tortillas

shredded cheddar or cheddar jack cheese

 

Preheat the oven to 350”F.

 

Dice the onion and fry the pieces in a little oil until softened. Chop the crabmeat into small pieces, and stir them into the onions. Cook the mixture until it is warmed through. Set aside.

 

Mix the salsa and garlic salt into the refried beans. Set aside.

 

Lay a tortilla flat. Add a heaping tablespoon of the crab/onion mixture in the middle. Top with a heaping tablespoon of the beans. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. (Double these for the larger tortillas.) Tuck the top and bottom of the tortilla over the filling and roll it up. Lay the burrito seam side down in a glass baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

 

Bake 30 minutes at 350”F. Serve with salsa.

 

December 21, 2018

 

Nothing warms the house like a simmering slow cooker. The inviting aroma of comfort food knocks five degrees off the chill factor. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook includes a treasure trove of great winter recipes. Try the chili, the meatball stew, or the mushroom chuck roast—to name a few. (It's not too late to pick up copies for the foodies on your holiday gift list.) Here's another delicious affordable slow cooker dish in the spirit of the book.

 

2 onions

1 tbsp minced garlic

3 to 5 lb chuck roast

1 cup coffee

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup cornstarch

 

Slice one onion thin and place the pieces in the bottom of your slow cooker. Stir the garlic in. Cut the roast in half and lay one piece on top of the onions and garlic. Slice the other onion thin and cover the meat with the onion slices. Lay the other half of the roast on those onions.

 

Mix the soy sauce with one cup of brewed coffee. Drizzle the mixture over the meat. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours.

 

Dilute the cornstarch with cup of water. Stir that in and cook another ½ hour.

 

December 14, 2018

 

Not just another store-bought vegetable tray, here's an appetizer your holiday guests will love. Offer something different and watch your contribution vanish before your eyes. Crab-stuffed mushrooms are always a hit. Mushrooms are popular. TheyÕre usually the first vegetable missing from that vegetable tray. Improving on mushrooms isnÕt easy. The taste of crab can take you a step beyond. Try imitation crabmeat: it tastes great and it avoids shellfish allergies. Even one case of anaphylactic shock can spoil a whole party.

1 lb mushrooms

¼ lb crabmeat (imitation works well)

1 green onion

½ cup breadcrumbs

½ cup Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp minced garlic

2 tbsp olive oil

1 egg

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 400”F

Clean the mushrooms gently. Remove the stems leaving the caps intact. A teaspoon works well for prying the stems loose. Cut the stems into manageable pieces and add them to a blender jar. Cut the crab into manageable pieces and put them in as well. Add the remaining ingredients and chop a few seconds. The mixture should be coarse and well blended.

Lightly oil a flat baking dish or broiler pan. Add a heaping teaspoon of the stuffing mixture to each mushroom cap and place them all in the pan. Repeat filling all the mushrooms. Dole any remaining stuffing out among the mushrooms. Place the pan in the hot oven and bake for seventeen minutes.

December 7, 2018

 

Turkey lastsÉand lasts. Thanksgiving turkey turned out great. Even with four growing grandsons, there were leftovers. Turkey dinner all over again was great the next day. Leftover turkey just kept on coming. The last of the leftovers became a delicious meatloaf. Here's how. You might want to try this recipe when your next holiday dinner is still hanging on when the next holiday demands space in your refrigerator. Even with most of the meat gone, a turkey platter takes up a lot of refrigerator real estate. Evict it.

 

2 cups leftover turkey meat

1 cup leftover stuffing

salt and pepper

2 egg yolks

½ cup milk

 

Preheat the oven to 400”F. Butter or oil your meatloaf dish. Set aside.

 

Harvest the turkey meat from the bones using a sharp knife. Chop the meat or mince it in a food processor. Mix the stuffing in. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Separate the eggs. Whisk the yolks with the milk. Mix that into the turkey and stuffing preparation. Put the mixture into the prepared meatloaf pan. Form it into a little brick with a fork.

 

Bake for 40 minutes. Serve with your favorite condiments.

 

November 30, 2018

 

They won't forget the gift they use every day. A well-chosen gift can make you someone's hero all year long. The foodies on your list will treasure The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. They'll discover easy affordable dinners for everyday inside. Meatloaf or pork chili brighten the dreariest day. They'll love the special ones for company dinners. Special occasions call for fancy entrŽes like Filet Mignon Stuffed with Bleu Cheese or Bacon-Wrapped Crab-Stuffed Shrimp. The bonus Champagne Brunch section makes Sunday mornings a treat for the whole family—or just for two. Eggs Benedict and Crustless Crab Quiche are sure winners.

Cooking well should be as much fun as eating well. Preparing the world's moistest chicken requires them to "Open beer. Drink half." There's a recipe for Pregnant Turkey just for fun. Their guests will ask for Two-Paws-Up Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms Diablo by name. Read an excerpt on-line and then order yours today. Personalized author autographs available.

November 23, 2018

 

Stuffing is a natural with poultry. You can stuff a whole bird. You can even stuff boneless skinless chicken breasts, but be careful. Free of skin and fat, they tend to dry out in the oven. Moisture is essential to a tasty chicken breast. HereÕs a recipe from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook that delivers a flavorful chicken breast with an exotic stuffing.

5 tbsp butter or margarine

½ pound mushrooms chopped fine

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1½ cups breadcrumbs

¼ tsp nutmeg

4 chicken breasts

½ cup chicken broth or bouillon

½ cup heavy cream

 

Preheat the oven to 350”F. Grease a glass baking dish with butter or margarine.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter or margarine in a frying pan. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper. Stir and cook until the mushrooms absorb the butter and turn dark.

While the mushrooms are cooking, flatten the chicken breasts to ¼" thickness. Cover each one with wax paper and beat it with a meat mallet. No mallet? Use a rolling pin. No rolling pin? A 750 ml wine bottle will do. Set the flattened breasts aside.

When the mushrooms are done, remove them from the heat. Stir in half the breadcrumbs and the nutmeg.

Lay the flattened chicken breasts skin side down on a board. Place a bit of the mushroom stuffing in the center of each. Fold the chicken around the stuffing and place seam-down in a buttered baking dish. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter or margarine and pour it over the chicken. Sprinkle the other half of the breadcrumbs over them and pour on the broth and the cream. Bake for 30 minutes.

 

November 16, 2018

 

Wish you had one more oven for the holiday dinner? There's one right outside. It's the barbecue. I'll smoke my turkey on my komodo cooker again this year. Don't have a komodo grill or a smoker? Ant grill large enough to hold the turkey can do it. Yes, you can smoke a whole turkey on a standard size grill—here's how. A little extra time and effort delivers a special taste sensation. For a traditional turkey, just omit the wood chips.

Turkey is the classic Thanksgiving favorite. A turkey is a big bird. That usually means lots of people and lots of pressure. The turkey is the long lead item in almost any dinner, so start it first. Figure 20 minutes per pound cooking time in your meal planning. Once itÕs started, you can move on to the rest of dinner, and just tend to the turkey once every half hour or so. Many turkeys come home from the grocery store frozen. Be sure yours is thoroughly defrosted before starting to cook it.

Smoke the bird on the grill, but monitor its temperature. If dinner is an hour away and the turkey doesnÕt look like it will be ready, pop it in the oven at 350”F to finish cooking it. (I only had to do this one time—when it rained on the grill all afternoon.) YouÕll get that great smoky flavor and aroma, and have it on your schedule.

Wood chips or chunks

1 turkey, defrosted if frozen

¼ lb butter or margarine

¼ cup white wine

Garlic salt

Black pepper

 

Soak two handfuls of wood chips or chunks in water. Apple, or peach work well with poultry. Prepare the grill for smoking.

Clean the grill. Light a charcoal pyramid with a six briquette by four briquette base.

While the fire is getting ready, lay the turkey breast side up on a board. Tuck the wing tips behind the neck. Melt the butter or margarine in a small saucepan. Stir in the wine, the garlic salt and the pepper. Set aside.

When the coals are ashed over, about half an hour, use a shovel or a trowel to move the coals into two fires: one along each side of the grill. Top each of the fires with a half dozen new briquettes. DonÕt use the easy light kind. Place an aluminum foil drip pan full of water between the two fires. Add about a 1/2" of water to the drip pan.

Scatter the soaked chips or chunks over the fires, lay the turkey in the center of the grill. If the bird is small enough you will be able to turn it in the middle of cooking, lay the turkey breast side down. If itÕs too big, lay it breast side up, and cover the breast with foil. Baste the bird with the butter/wine mixture, and close the grill cover.

Soak more wood chips or chunks. Baste and add chips every half hour. Chunks will last an hour or more. Halfway through cooking, turn the bird over or remove the foil. Cook until an instant-read thermometer shows a temperature of 165”F for the thighs. Remove from the grill and let rest fifteen minutes.

 

November 9, 2018

 

Traditional Chinese cooking delivers Champagne taste on a beer budget. Delicious vegetables and tangy sauces create exotic taste sensations. Less meat lowers the cost. Many wonderful Chinese dishes can be imitated using ingredients available in regular grocery stores. Here flour tortillas substitute for traditional Chinese pancakes.

 

HereÕs a recipe that stretches a single pork chop to feed four. It works well for the entire family. It was my sonÕs favorites at three. It still is for over thirty years later.

 

1+ lb green cabbage (1 small head or ½ a large head)

2 carrots

1 boneless pork chop

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 small onion

½ lb mushrooms

1 clove garlic minced

½ tsp ginger

1 bunch green onions

¼ cup sherry, white wine or apple juice

2 tsp cornstarch

¼ cup soy sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

8 flour tortillas—7 inch

2 tbsp Hoisin sauce

 

Quarter the cabbage. Remove the hard core. Then slice the rest into thin shreds,

 

Peel the carrots. Then shred them through coarse grater holes. Set aside.

 

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cut the onion in half and then slice it thick. Add the onions to the frying pan. Slice and add the mushrooms.  Cut the pork chop into thin strips. Add them to the pan. Stir and cook the mixture for 2 minutes.

 

Stir in the garlic, the ginger, the sliced cabbage and the carrots to the frying pan. Slice and add the green onions. Cook—stirring occasionally—for 5 to 6 minutes. The pork should be cooked through.

 

Combine the liquid and the cornstarch in a container with a lid. Shake to blend and add to the pan. Add the soy sauce and the sesame sauce. Cook until the mixture thickens—about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

 

Heat a second frying pan over medium heat. Add a tortilla and heat to warm. Flip it over and repeat. Spread ½ teaspoon of Hoisin sauce on the warm tortilla. Spread a few tablespoons of the pork mixture on top and roll the tortilla around it. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

 

Note: this goes faster if you heat the tortillas two at a time is faster. Stack two in the frying pan and heat. Flip the stack over and continue. Shuffle the stack and repeat

 

Serve with extra soy sauce.

 

October 26, 2018

 

Give your next chicken dinner a French gourmet touch without the hours in the kitchen that usually implies. No need to confess this dish didn't take nearly as long as it tastes like. Let the mushrooms and the red wine speak for you.  Cook a selection of chicken parts your guests love. Everybody wants a leg? Fine. Drumsticks all around. Nobody wants a leg? Fine. Chicken breasts tonight. Cook everyone's favorite, and stimulate mealtime conversation beyond "What's for dessert?"

 

2 lb chicken parts—bone in & skin on

salt and pepper to taste

½ cup flour

1½ tbsp oil

1 tbsp butter or margarine

¼ cup chopped green onions

2 tsp ketchup

½ cup red wine

½ cup chicken bouillon

¼ lb sliced mushrooms

½ tsp marjoram

 

Season the chicken parts on both sides with salt and pepper. Dust them with flour or shake them with the flour in a bag.

 

Melt the oil and the butter or margarine over medium heat in a stockpot or a Dutch oven big enough to all the ingredients. Brown the chicken parts in the hot oil—about 5 minutes per side. Set them aside.

 

Add the chopped onions and sautŽ them with occasional stirring for 5 minutes. Add the ketchup and cook 1 more minute. Add the wine, raise the temperature to high, and boil until reduced by half.

 

Return the chicken pieces to the pot along with the bouillon and the mushrooms. Drop the heat to low. Partially cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes.

 

Sprinkle with marjoram and serve.

 

October 19, 2018

 

Cut the carbs. Keep the flavor. Cutting carbs? Missing taste? Try substituting cauliflower for potatoes in your favorite dinners. It takes six cups of cauliflower to match the carbs in one potato. Here's a low carb revision of an old favorite that turned out great.

 

1 head cauliflower

4 carrots

1 large onion

Garlic salt

2 tbsp olive oil

3 lb pork roast

Pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 450”F.

Spray the roasting pan with a light coating of oil.

Break the cauliflower up into florets an inch or so across. Peel the carrots and cut into 1" lengths. Cut the onion into 1" cubes. Add then all to the roasting pan. Sprinkle with garlic salt. Drizzle with olive oil, and stir to coat the vegetables. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, sprinkle the roast with garlic salt and pepper. Set aside.

Remove the pan from the oven and stir the vegetables. You may have to scrape the pan to remove them. Clear a space in the center of the pan. Put the roast there, and nestle the vegetables around it.

Return to the oven and cook at 450”F for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350”F and cook until an instant read thermometer indicates the roast has reached 145 to 150”F—60 minutes or more depending on the size of the roast. Move the meat to a warm platter and let it rest for 10 minutes.

If the vegetables arenÕt done enough, stir them and return them to the oven. Raise the temperature back to 450”F and cook for up to 10 more minutes.

 

 

October 12, 2018

 

A quesadilla is a quick and tasty Mexican snack. Like any sandwich, a quesadilla is as healthy and tasty as the things you put in it. You'll find many traditional quesadillas on the menu at any good Mexican restaurant. Enjoy them all.

 

No need to stick to conventions at home. Try stuffing your next home-cooked quesadilla your way. Here's one that worked well. Spinach is always good and good for you. The taste of crab adds a nice touch, and almost no one is allergic to imitation crab.

 

1 tbsp olive oil

½ onion sliced thin

½ bunch spinach

½ lb imitation crabmeat

4 8" flour tortillas

1 cup shredded cheddar and/or jack cheese

 

Wash and remove the stems from the spinach. Chop the leaves up a bit. Set aside

 

Warm the oil over medium high heat in a skillet. Add the onions and cook with stirring for 3 minutes. Stir the spinach in and cook for another minute. Remove from the heat.

 

Dice the crabmeat and blend it into the onion mix.

 

Place a tortilla on your working surface. Spread 2 tbsp of cheese over half of it. Cover that with a quarter of the crab and onion combination. Top with another 2 tbsp of cheese. Fold the tortilla over all that. Set your first quesadilla aside and repeat the process to make three more. Toast them two-at-a-time in a clean frying pan over medium low heat. This should take about a minute on each side.

 

Serve warm with salsa.

 

October 5, 2018

 

Mushroom omelet teams well with champagne. Here's an old classic recipe my mother used to make. I don't remember any champagne, but the omelet brings back memories. We kids always knew when it was coming. Mom was frugal—like all the children of the Depression. Her wonderful meatloaf took half a can of mushroom soup. A dinner of meatloaf meant a breakfast of mushroom omelet. The apple didn't fall far from the tree on that score. Midweek meatloaf caused this Sunday morning mushroom omelet.

6 eggs

½ can cream of mushroom soup

2 green onions, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Swiss cheese, sliced

 

Lubricate a large frying pan with a little butter, margarine or bacon grease and preheat over a medium flame.

Beat the eggs, soup, onions, salt and pepper until smooth. Add the mixture to the pan and cook until it begins to gel. Lay the cheese slices on top and fold the cooked egg over them. Continue cooking a few more minutes.

September 28, 2018

 

Is it time to retire the barbecue until next year? Many will retreat indoors until the robins return. Barbecue enthusiasts will carry on. A few diehard relatives back east will shovel a path through two feet of snow to their grills. A lot of kettles and a lot of chefs don't cook well in rain or snow or sleet. Each drop that sizzles when it hits the cover robs heat from the meat. Insulated barbecues like the Big Green Egg and its knock offs are immune to weather. They keep their heat in and cook like it's July. Dinner arrives warm and dry. The cook maybe not so much. The true aficionado can enjoy treats like beer can chicken all year round.

The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook Shows how the rest of us can enjoy beer can chicken too. The book translates the traditional barbecue recipe for a traditional or convection oven. Try this recipe the next time you're missing summer. A can of beer boiling inside it keeps the chicken moist. The skin comes out crisp and the meat doesn't dry out. It isnÕt smoky when cooked indoors, so add a few drops of liquid smoke to the beer and enjoy that great smoked chicken flavor any ways.

 

1 12-ounce can beer

Dash cayenne pepper

½ tbsp paprika

¼ tsp garlic powder

1 tsp chili powder

½ tsp oregano

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

½ tbsp brown sugar

1 3-lb chicken

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

2 green onions

2 cloves garlic

Liquid smoke

 

Open the beer. Drink half. Remove all racks but the bottom one from the oven. Preheat it as appropriate—375”F for a conventional oven or 325”F for a convection oven

Combine the seasonings and the sugar in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Remove the extra goodies from the body cavity and trim the excess fat out of the chicken. Rinse it inside and out and pat dry. Sprinkle salt, pepper and the seasoning mix 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 the rest of the seasoning mix into the can and add the onions and garlic. Add a few drops of liquid smoke for that outdoor flavor. 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.)

Stand the chicken up on a broiler pan in the oven. Cook until brown and cooked through, about an hour in a convection oven or 1½ hour for conventional cooking. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest five minutes.

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

September 21, 2018

 

Vegetarian mushrooms bring out the best in beef. It's just one of many great side dish recipes you'll find in The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook along with tasty main dishes. Marrying mushrooms and red wine creates a great main dish for vegetarian guests, or a special side dish for the rest of us. The vegetarian guest is optional. Serve this dish at any meal. These vegetarian mushrooms complement beef, Coq au Vin, and anything else youÕd serve with a rich red wine. Your guests will love it.

 

1 lb fresh mushrooms

2 medium bell peppers

1 onion

½ cup butter or margarine

 

Sauce:

 

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

½ cup brown sugar

¾ cup red table wine

Fresh ground pepper

Seasoned salt

 

Wash the mushrooms and cut each one in half. Wash and seed the peppers. Cut them into 1-inch squares. Peel and chop the onion. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and sautŽ the onion in it until translucent.

While the onions are cooking, prepare the sauce: Mix the mustard, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce together until itÕs a smooth paste. Add the wine, season with lots of fresh ground black pepper and a little seasoned salt. Stir well.

When the onion is clear, add the mushrooms and peppers to the pan. SautŽ, stirring often, until the mushrooms begin to brown and reduce in size. Add the wine sauce.

Simmer the mixture over medium heat until the sauce is much reduced and thickened, about 45 minutes.

 

September 14, 2018

 

Some mornings, nothing but Mexican will do. Here's a frittata to satisfy that craving. It's pretty enough to grace the finest breakfast table. It offers the full complement of seasonings that make Mexican cuisine Mexican. The whole family will love this dish. It's not too hot for your gringo guests, but a spoonful of salsa can adjust that for the hard core. Serve this Mexican frittata on a special morning soon.

 

½ lb chorizo

2 garlic cloves

½ onion

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter or margarine

2 bell peppers—mixed colors dress the dish up

½ tsp oregano

8 eggs

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

¾ cup shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese

 

Fry the chorizo sausage in a small frying pan. Drain any excess fat and set it aside. While that's cooking, chop the onion and mince the garlic. Heat the olive oil and melt the butter or margarine in a large broiler safe skillet over medium heat.

 

Stir the onion and garlic into the hot pan and sautŽ them for 2 to 3 minutes. Chop the peppers while that's cooking, then add them and the oregano to the pan. Cook 5 to 6 more minutes stirring once in a while.

 

Prepare the egg mixture while the peppers are cooking. Whisk the eggs, salt and pepper with 2 tbsp of water. Set aside. Preheat the broiler.

 

Stir the precooked sausage into the vegetable mix and cook 2 to 3 more minutes. Pour the egg mixture over it all. Pause to let the eggs begin to set up. Then start pushing the mixture toward the center of the pan. Continue until the eggs are almost set--4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and broil 2 to 3 minutes.

 

September 7, 2018

 

The time for comfort food is fast approaching. My grandsons jumped the gun. They requested pork chili for Labor Day dinner. I obliged with this recipe from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. Chili is one of the great comfort foods. You'll find many more in the complete cookbook.

Pork is a budget saver. Pork chili is doubly so. No need for the best of the pig if it's going to slow cook all day.  Pork sirloin or another inexpensive pork roast makes a great chili. The whole family will love it.

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

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 burgundy.

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

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

 

August 31, 2018

 

Onion soup chicken—something different for dinner. Follow this recipe for chicken breasts in an onion sauce reminiscent of French onion soup. Or add lots more onions and broth to create French onion soup with chicken croutons. Either way: the essence of onion soup makes dinner a winner.

 

Olive oil

2 large onions or 4 medium ones

Kosher salt

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Pepper

½ tsp thyme

½ tsp sage

2 tbsp flour

2 cups beef bouillon

1 cup grated Swiss cheese

 

Slice the onions thin. A mandoline works well for this step. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet or pan. Add the sliced onions to the hot pan and season them with salt. Stir occasionally until the onions are caramelized. This takes about 20 minutes. Don't rush it. Stit the balsamic vinegar into the onions and cook  5 more minutes. Remove the onions and set them aside.

 

Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and reheat it. Season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, thyme and sage. Put the seasoned breasts in the hot pan and brown them well on both sides. While they're cooking, preheat the oven to 350”F. Remove the chicken breasts when they are brown and set them aside.

 

Stir the flour into the fat in the pan. Add the beef bouillon into the mixture scrapping to include the brown bits on the bottom. Bring the mixture to a boil, then drop the temperature to medium low and cook 5-7 minutes until it turns into gravy.

 

Return the reserved chicken breasts to the pot. Slather some of the gravy over them. Pile the reserved caramelized onions on top. Then top with grated Swiss cheese. Put it in the oven and cook until the cheese is melted and the chicken is cooked through—some 3-5 minutes.

 

August 24, 2018

 

Vegetables say "cheese" when they smile. They know cheese sauce complements their good looks and great taste. A healthy vegetable can still be healthy with a healthy cheese sauce on it. You don't have to tell your kids—or your guests—they're eating healthy. Go ahead and feign guilt if it will get them to come back for seconds. Here's a simple low-carb cheeses sauce that's as tasty as its less healthy cousins.

 

¾ cup heavy crme

cup water

1½ cup grated cheddar cheese

1 tsp salt

½ tsp paprika

 

Combine all the ingredients in the top of a double boiler. Stir until the sauce is smooth. Spoon over broccoli, cauliflower, or other tasty vegetable.

 

August 17, 2018

 

The kitchen has been cool all week. Smoking a ham on the grill over the weekend provided a week's worth of main dishes. Quick side dishes completed dinners without heating the kitchen up. Ham is a crowd pleaser. Half or whole, a ham is big enough to feed your gang for days. It dresses up well for a Sunday dinner or a company event. When the meat is finally gone, thereÕs still a batch of comfort food in the bone.  Stash it in the freezer for the cooler weather ahead. A batch of split pea or ten-bean soup will go great on a blustery day.

Hams ranging from good to great are available everywhere. Grocery stores hams are tender and juicy. Traditional Southern hams are even better. Their aroma attracts a crowd. Their strong smoky flavor doesnÕt disappoint.  Country hams are available in out-of-the-way places throughout the South. If youÕre lucky enough to find one, you wonÕt settle for grocery store ham again. With a little effort, you can give that beer budget ham champagne taste. A few hours of smoking is all it takes. Start with a whole or half ham and add a couple of hours of hickory smoke for a great taste sensation. (Avoid pre-sliced hams. They tend to shrivel up and turn ugly when smoked.)

 

Half or whole ham

Hickory wood chips or chunks

Cloves

½ cup pancake syrup

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp dry mustard

 

If you are using wood chips, soak one or two handfuls of wood chips in water. Set aside.

Prepare to smoke the ham. A smoker works best, but an ordinary barbecue grill with a cover can be configured as a smoker. HereÕs how. Clean the grill. Light a charcoal pyramid with a six briquette by four-briquette base. Wait a half hour until 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. Add a half dozen more briquettes on top of each fire. DonÕt use fast lighting charcoal here, or your ham will taste like lighter fluid. Place an aluminum foil drip pan full of water between the two fires. Add about a ½" of water

While your smoker is heating, use a sharp knife to cross hatch the fat of the ham in a diamond pattern. Decorate with cloves in the centers of each diamond. This will make a presentation fit for your most discerning guests.

Scatter the soaked chips or chunks over the fires, put the ham in the center of the grill, and close the grill cover. Soak some more wood chips and add some every half hour. Chunks last longer. Add more chunks when the smoke dies down.

While the ham is cooking, mix the syrup, the sugar, and the mustard. After the ham has cooked 2 hours, add the final batch of wood pieces. Baste the ham with the syrup mixture, and smoke another half hour.

 

August 10, 2018

 

Temperatures are rising; shrimp prices are dropping. Time to throw a few shrimp on the barby. A plate of shrimp can turn any night into date night. Dress them up with bacon and crab meat for a dish worthy of a first date or dinner with your new boss.

Shrimp look like bugs, creepy crawly bugs. Crabs aren't a whole lot prettier. They both look like something straight out of a 50s horror flick. Imagine how hungry the first guy to eat one of them must have been. We owe him a debt of gratitude. Shrimp may be ugly, but they taste beautiful.

Hard to improve on a taste like that. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook adds crabmeat stuffing to go from good to great. A bacon wrap keeps the shrimp juicy while it grills. This dish is truly something special.

Oxymoron or not, use the jumbo shrimp for this recipe. ThereÕs a fair amount of hand labor for each shrimp. Preparing a lot of small ones would be tedious. Little ones fall through the cracks and they don't grill well any ways.

Do de-vein your shrimp. "Vein" is a euphemism for a part you wouldn't want to eat. Slice each shrimp down the midline of its back with a sharp paring knife. Remove and discard the dark tube running the length of the shrimp body.

To butterfly the shrimp, lay it on its back, and cut almost through to the other side. When you are done, the shrimp should open like a book, ready to accept a generous portion of crabmeat stuffing.

2 lb #6-8 shrimp

¼ cup melted butter or margarine

¼ lb crab—imitation is okay

1 small onion or 2 green onions

1 stalk celery

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp salt

Dash of cayenne pepper

1 tsp dry mustard

1 lb thin sliced bacon

Wooden toothpicks

 

Light a pyramid of charcoal briquettes with a four by four base. Prepare the shrimp while waiting for the briquettes to ash over.

Clean, de-vein and butterfly the shrimp. Set them aside.

Prepare the crab stuffing. Chop the crab, onion and celery fine—a food processor works well for this. Mix with the breadcrumbs, the egg, salt, cayenne pepper and mustard. Add the melted butter and mix well.

Assemble the bacon-wrapped crab-stuffed shrimp. Drape a strip of bacon diagonally across your palm. Cross the bacon with one of the shrimp—cut side up and opened flat. Place a heaping tablespoon of the stuffing on the shrimp and form it into a little log. Wrap the ends of the bacon strip to cover the stuffing. Secure the whole thing with a couple of toothpicks through the bacon and the body of the shrimp. Set aside and repeat until you run out of shrimp.

Spread the burning coals into a two briquette high layer using a shovel or a trowel. Place the shrimp on a grill screen. Broil until just done—about 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second. Do not overcook.

August 3, 2018

#Back to School

Why are starving students starving?

 

The number one reason is that they can't afford food. College costs have skyrocketed. Faculty members are paid too much to teach too little. Harvard reportedly paid Elizabeth Warren over $300k to teach one course. (That's $15k/student for the course. Remember a full-time student takes six classes each semester.) Textbooks have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. My father's calculus book cost $1.15; mine cost $15; my son's cost $150. The content hasn't changed in five hundred years. Heap the high cost of everyday living on top of this, and crushing student debt is no surprise. No wonder students can't afford to eat.

 

The number two reason is that they don't know how to cook for themselves. Restaurants are prohibitive, but home cooking is scary. Is there life beyond Top Ramen and beer? This doesn't taste like Mom's used to. How hot should I boil water? If I call Mom one more time, will she FedEx me cookies? Cooking isn't all that hard once the student gets the hang of it. Home cooking is cheaper and healthier than most alternatives. It can even be a relaxing alternative to memorizing all those long Latin names for personality disorders.

 

Send your student back to school with a copy of The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. It combats the top two reasons for student starvation. It presents affordable recipes—most of them are easy to prepare. There are a few more challenging ones the student can grow into. No need to outgrow this workbook. The light and humorous presentation makes this book a pleasant alternative to the drudgery of those required courses. Your student will treasure the gift of The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook all through school and long after.

 

July 27, 2018

 

Peppers and onions spice up a weeknight pork chop dinner. Any bell pepper smells and tastes great in this simple recipe. Try some red, yellow or orange ones to add a splash of color to dinner any night.

 

4 pork chops

Salt, pepper and rosemary

1 onion

2 bell peppers

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

 

Sprinkle both sides of the pork chops with salt, pepper and rosemary to taste. Cook in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Flip and cook 4 minutes more.

While the meat is cooking, peel and slice the onion. Stem, seed and slice the peppers. Dice the garlic cloves. When the pork chops are finished, add a little more vegetable oil and the onions. Cook about 2 minutes stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom. Stir in the peppers, the garlic and the Worcestershire sauce. Cook until the peppers are tender.

Serve the pork chops smothered in the pepper mixture.

July 20, 2018

 

But what are you going to serve the grown ups? Hamburgers and hot dogs are great for the kids. They save time. They save money. And the kids prefer them.What about the grown ups? They may be looking for something a little more exotic. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook Offers a lot of great barbecue ideas for the grown up palate.Here's one. Lemon-pepper chicken comes off the grill looking like a million bucks. The aroma and the taste live up to the promise of its good looks. It's another restraunt quality dinner without the quality restaurant cost.

 

3 to 4 lb chicken

1½ tbsp black pepper

¾ cup lemon juice

1 tsp lemon zest

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

1¼ tsp salt

3 cloves garlic

 

Cut the chicken in half with a heavy knife or meat cleaver. Remove the backbone or not. Rub 1 tablespoon of black pepper over the chickenÕs skin. Place both halves in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag.

 

Add ½ cup of lemon juice, the lemon zest, the red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon of salt to the bag. Crush the garlic cloves with the side of the knife or cleaver and add them to the bag. Seal it and massage the bag briefly to mix the marinade. Refrigerate 2 hours or longer turning at least once.

Mix the remaining ¼ cup of lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon of salt and ½ tablespoon of black pepper. Set aside.

 

Prepare the grill for direct grilling. Remove the marinated chicken from the bag. Discard the marinade. When the fire is hot, lay both halves skin side down over the coals. Brown for 10 minutes. Flip the halves over and cook about 45 minutes to 1 hour until the dark meat reaches 165. Pour the reserved lemon mixture over the chicken halves. Flip them over and brown for 5 more minutes.

 

Serve hot.

 

July 13, 2018

 

Exotic fruits beckon from the grocer's shelf. Pineapple is in season. The price is right. Shoppers may be tempted to take one home—even if they're not sure what to do with it. YouTube offers several different ways of preparing golden chunks from the whole pineapple. But what about those pineaple rings that come in cans?  Preparing those at home can be messy, but a pineapple corer does almost as well. Run it down the center of the pineapple and pull a long spiral of fruit out. Pineapple tastes great any way you slice it. 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 was 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.

 

Grilling takes the frui in a delicious new direction. Grilled pineapple slices offer a great presentation for an appetizer or a main dish. (Add a scoop of ice cream for dessert.) Use slices from the fruit or from a can. Canned are faster and keep in your pantry until an occasion arises. Pineapple chunks taste just as good. Skewer them—solo or in concert—for a welcome addition to any table. 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.

 

July 6, 2018

 

Healthy and tasty: once you try spinach quiche, you will look for opportunities to serve it again and again. It's easy to fix. A selection of dairy products rounds out the health benefits of the spinach. Bacon bits compliment its taste. You're going to dice the bacon to smithereens. You don't need to use the glamorous strips for bacon bits. Orphans and end pieces fry up just as tasty as their fashion model cousins.  Treat yourself to this spinach quiche this weekend.

4 strips of bacon

½ bunch of spinach

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 cup small curd cottage cheese

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

¼ cup flour

1 tsp onion powder

¼ tsp salt

4 drops Tabasco sauce

2 cups Swiss cheese, shredded

 

Fry the bacon. While it's cooking, preheat oven to 350”F. Wash the spinach, remove the stems and chop it into small pieces. Put it in a colander to drain. When the bacon is done, drain it on a paper towel.. Set the bacon and the spinach aside.

Put the eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, flour, onion powder, salt and Tabasco sauce in a blender or food processor. Blend to mix the ingredients. Pour the mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the spinach, and the Swiss cheese. Crumble the bacon and stir it into the liquid. Coat the sides of a 9 or 10" porcelain quiche dish or 9½" deep-dish pie plate with cooking spray. Pour the mixture in and bake 45 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Quiche should be puffed and golden brown.

Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.

 

June 29, 2018

 

Once exclusive to the tables of Russian aristocracy, beef stroganoff survived the fall of the Tsar. It spread from Russia to China, and then beyond to the rest of the world. Today, variations on the theme of beef in sour cream are served in upscale eating establishments everywhere. Simple and affordable renditions like this one can be the focus on a special dinner. Enjoy quality restaurant menus without restaurant quality cost. Make this dish for your next special occasion.

 

Find more great main dish suggestions in The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook

 

1½ lb sirloin steak

salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp canola oil

1 tbsp butter or margarine

½ onion chopped

¼ lb mushrooms sliced

¼ cup red wine

1 cup beef broth or bouillon

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 cup sour cream

 

Cut the steak into ¼" strips about 2" long. Salt and pepper both sides of the meat.

 

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. When it is hot, brown the meat in batches 1 minute on each side. Set the meat aside and keep it warm.

 

Melt the butter or margarine in the same pan. Add the chopped onions and cook them for 3 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook the mixture 10 minutes more—stirring occasionally. Add the wine and cook 5 minutes, and then the beef bouillon for another 10 minutes. This should leave the vegetables in a thick sauce. Stir the mustard and the meat with its juices into the mixture.

 

Drop the temperature to low. Blend the sour cream in and warm the dish for 3 minutes or so. Adjust the level of salt and pepper.

 

June 22, 2018

 

Star in picnics this summer. The way to their hearts is through their stomachs. Neighbors or lovers: that works over the backyard fence, or across a candle lit table. Bring this three-bean dish from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook to your next neighborhood soiree. They'll ask you back again and again. Oh, and can you bring enough beans for everybody? Don't plan on bringing home leftovers.

 

You can make this three-bean pot with canned beans, but canned white lima beans were hard to find. Dry beans are always available. As long as you are going to cook those up, you might as well do the kidney beans right along with them. The homemade beans are better. And making them at home avoids the problem of the ever-shrinking one-pound can. (At this writing, the one-pound can is down to 14.5 ounces—9% short. The two-pound can is only 28 ounces—12.5% light. Look for even lighter cans coming soon to a supermarket near you.)

 

Use baked beans from the can. Traditional baked beans are cooked 24 hours. That was practical when the stove stayed on 24 hours a day to heat the house. Running your oven for 24 hours for one batch of beans is impractical. Leave baked bean baking to the pros.

 

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 a soup pot and cover them 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 most of the bacon 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 sausage mixture. (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 15, 2018

 

Father's Day is Dad's day to shine. Memorial Day is past, and grilling season is in high gear. Dad can do a lot more than hot dogs and hamburgers. This year, he can show off with a batch of Mushrooms Diablo. The DevilÕs own mushrooms: not for the faint of heart as the name implies. This mushroom dish was born in a grill wok over a charcoal fire. It got raves from every guest who tasted it. Dad's dinner will too. ItÕs going to be hot tonight.

 

Like many recipes in The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook, Mushrooms Diablo is a dish youÕll want to serve year round. It translated well into the kitchen so you can ignore the weatherman, and enjoy his dish any time of the year.

 

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.

 

Place the onions and garlic in a bowl. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and stir to coat them. Heat a grill wok over a direct fire. Add the onions and garlic to the hot wok. Stir avoiding the flames that shoot up at the start. Cook until the onions are soft. Then add the marinated mushrooms to the grill wok. Stir-fry 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

 

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

 

June 8, 2018

 

Grooms can cook too. But can he cook as well as his bride's mother? The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook gives him a chance. The book presents dozens of great ways to spoil his bride. They're fast and affordable, and they don't involve oddball ingredients he won't know where to buy. Pork filet mignon or steak Oskar can blow his bride away. Spaghetti Stroganoff or paella feeds the whole gang when his in-laws drop in. How about a side of gazpacho or two-paws-up Brussels sprouts?

 

Let the groom spread his wings and cook outdoors. Beer-can chicken cooks out there on the grill—weather permitting. So does the young couple's first holiday ham or turkey. The entire dinner can come from the barbecue. Asparagus, grapefruit, and pineapple all grill to perfection beside the main dish. The gourmet groom can do more than just dogs, burgers, or steaks with the cookbook you give him.

 

The groom will delight his bride with surprises like eggs Benedict or stuffed mushrooms. He can bask in her hugs and bank some atta-boys for a rainy day. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook is a valuable addition to a new couple's kitchen. Be the one to give them a copy.

 

June 1, 2018

 

The first home-cooked meal shouldn't end the honeymoon. A bride's first dinner is the stuff of corny jokes and country songs. It doesn't have to be that way. Get the couple started off right with their own copy of The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. It offers a selection of tasty recipes—like his mother used to makeÉor better. Dinner is made from ingredients that fit a newlywed budget. There are no mad dashes to the grocery store: dinner is made from things found in every starter pantry. Most recipes are fast, easy and foolproof. And they're fun.

 

Cooking well ought to be as much fun as eating well. The first step in making beer can chicken is "open beer, drink half." For Valentine's Day, start with "marinate significant other, set aside." The text is peppered with food quotes from luminaries from George Carlin to Popeye. An unstressed cook sets a happy table.

 

Every night is date night when you're on your honeymoon. Romantic dinners don't have to be difficult or expensive. The book offers restaurant quality dinners without the quality restaurant prices. Pork filet mignon is easy and affordable. So are chicken parmesan and bacon-wrapped crab-stuffed shrimp. A simple tomato bisque would be a great start to many a special dinner.

 

Brunch is the perfect finale to a date night dinner. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook makes some great suggestions there. Try crustless crab quiche or faux lox to start the new day off right. How about the morning after the night before brunch? The recipe is in there.

 

This cookbook will be a family treasure long after the honeymoon is over. There are more great recipes for everyday cooking. Paella, ham or turkey can feed a crowd when the in-laws visit. Meatloaf, pot roast, and pasta are everyday favorites. Vegetables to accompany those delicious main dishes aren't reminiscent of the cafeteria steam table. The cookbook offers great alternative presentations.

 

The bride and groom will eat well now and for years to come with your gift of The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook.

 

May 25, 2018

 

Plain or fancy, pork chops are the start of many a great meal. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook offers a selection of delicious and affordable pork chop main dishes. Treat yourself to one of them soon.

 

SautŽed peppers and onions spruce everyday pork chops up. Start with pan-fried pork chops. For a basic dinner, just cook the chops following the first step in this recipe and serve. To dress them up, add the pepper medley. Or go all the way: add a little color; make one of the bell peppers red.

 

4 pork chops

Salt, pepper and rosemary

Cooking oil

1 onion

2 bell peppers

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

 

Sprinkle both sides of the pork chops with salt, pepper and rosemary to taste. Cook in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes—longer for extra thick chops. Flip and cook 4 minutes more. Stop there for a fine pan-fried pork chop meal.

 

While the meat is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Peel and chop the onion. Stem, seed and chop the peppers. When the pork chops are finished, add a little more vegetable oil and the onions. Cook about 2 minutes stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom. Stir in the peppers, the garlic and the Worcestershire sauce. Cook until the peppers are tender.

 

Serve the pork chops smothered in the pepper mixture.

 

May 18, 2018

 

Chicken parmesan is an imitation Italian dish popular in America and Australia, but not in Italy. Like its veal and eggplant cousins: if chicken parmesan isn't Italian, it ought to be. It combines parmesan and mozzarella cheeses with a hearty tomato sauce to deliver a delicious Italian taste. For another great Italian-style taste, try Chicken Parmesan from my The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. That recipe includes parmesan cheese and spinach to create a Florentine themed chicken dish. Both are delicious. 

 

2 cups simple tomato sauce (recipe follows)

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper

Flour

1 egg—beaten

Grated parmesan

2 tbsp olive oil

1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Italian seasoning (optional)

 

Prepare the tomato sauce.

 

Preheat a frying pan over medium low heat. Preheat the oven to 400”F

Salt and pepper the chicken breasts generously. Flatten them to 1/4" thickness. Cover each with wax paper and beat it with a meat mallet. No mallet? Use a rolling pin. No rolling pin? A 750 ml wine bottle will do. Sprinkle both sides of each breast with flour, salt and pepper.

Set up a dredging production line with flour, then beaten egg, and finally Parmesan.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the heated pan. Dredge the first breast through the line. Add it to the pan smooth side down. Brown it on both sides and cook until just done—5 minutes on the first side and 4 minutes on the second.. Spread two ½ cup spots of the basic red sauce on the bottom of a 9"x13" glass baking dish. Lay the first cooked breast on top of one. Dredge and cook the second breast the same way. Lay it on the spot beside the first.

Smother with another cup of the red sauce. Top that with 1½ cups of shredded mozzarella. Bake until the cheese is melted—about 10 to 15 minutes. Top with Italian seasoning flakes if desired.

Tomato Sauce

 

¼ cup olive oil

½ onion

½ stalk celery

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp basil

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, dice the vegetables fine. Add them to the pan and sautŽ 6 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the basil and cook a minute longer.

 

Stir the tomatoes in. Bring the mixture to a boil. Drop the heat to medium low, partially cover the pot and simmer for half an hour. Season with salt and pepper.

 

May 11, 2018

 

Gazpacho is the 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 with 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 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.

 

May 4, 2018

 

Make Mom's brunch extra special this year. An artistic presentation can take 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.

 

Serve this dish at your next special breakfast, or any time you feel like doing something special. You won't be disappointed. 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 spears are cooking, 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.