Food 4 Thought

An eZine for People Who Eat

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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.