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Cooking for a Delicious Life: A Lauren Groveman Kitchen Instructional Video Series

Aprons for Real Life with Matching Towels
Designed for real-life cooking, this Apron is just the thing for keeping everything a busy, 21st-century multi-tasking cook needs within reach at all times.
I Love to Cook: A Lauren Groveman Kitchen Cookbook
Bring back the joy of cooking with Lauren's acclaimed second cookbook.
Lauren Groveman's Kitchen Cookbook
Makes homemade meals possible again with a comprehensive, inspiring book that reinvents cooking as a relaxing, creative, fulfilling activity for even the busiest people.

Basil Pesto

I make several versions of pesto (as is evident above)–this recipe is for the most noted form of pesto, made from fresh basil leaves.

For basil pesto:

  • 4 packed cups basil leaves (from 2 large very full bunches)
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup toasted pignoli nuts (toast in a preheated 350F oven until golden but not burnt, about 10 minutes, on a shallow baking sheet)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 scant cups olive oil (mix extra-virgin and pure olive oil), plus more for topping
  • 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To assemble the pesto: Place the basil leaves in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and, using the pulsing button, chop the leaves until reduced in volume. (Depending on the size of your work-bowl, you might need to add half the amount of leaves at first and, when reduced, add the remaining leaves.) Add the garlic, nuts, red pepper flakes (if using) and 2 cups of olive oil and a generous amount of black pepper. Process until the pesto is finely chopped but still retains some texture. If not planning to freeze the pesto, add the cheese and salt to taste. Process just to combine. (See the end of this recipe for instructions on freezing pesto.)

Remove as much pesto as needed and, before storing the rest in the refrigerator, pour a generous layer of olive oil over the top. Keep pesto refrigerated in a well-sealed sturdy container. Bring the mixture to room temperature, before each use.

Timing is Everything:

• Pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks if kept in a well-sealed container, completely covered with a layer of extra-virgin olive oil. To use, uncover and tilt the container to encourage the oil to run to one side. Scoop out the desired amount of pesto and bring it to room temperature. Cover the remaining pesto with more olive oil and return it to the refrigerator.

To freeze pesto: Combine all the ingredients, adding salt sparingly and omitting the cheese. If you’d like to use some now and freeze the rest, remove some pesto and add enough salt and cheese to suit your taste then place the rest in a container and cover it with a generous layer of olive oil. Add more salt and cheese after thawing. Pesto freezes beautifully for 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring it to room temperature before using.

Comments (2)

The Best Barbecue Sauce

Special Equipment

  • Triple-mesh wire sieve
  • Sturdy rubber or wooden spatula

For the sauce:

  • 2 cups prepared ketchup
  • 2 cups (two 12-ounce bottles) prepared chili sauce (I use Heinz)
  • 1 generous cup Minced Yellow Onion
  • 8 large cloves Minced Garlic
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1/4 cup mild-flavored honey
  • 2 rounded tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (preferably Tamari)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 generous tablespoons “Better Than Bouillon” (beef version), available in well-stocked supermarkets
  • 1 or 2 fresh habanero peppers (also called Scotch Bonnets), or jalapenos, pierced several times with a fork, or 1 to 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce, to taste (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1) To assemble the sauce: Combine all the ingredients except the ground black pepper in a 2 1/2-quart, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive saucepan. Stir well to combine and place the pan over medium heat, with the cover ajar. Bring the mixture to a full simmer, stirring occasionally, and then turn the heat to low. Continue to simmer until the sauce is thickened and the color deepens considerably, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (see below). Uncover, stir in a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, and remove the saucepan from the heat. Let the sauce cool, uncovered, until just warm. If making a doubled or tripled amount, simmer the sauce for 45 minutes. (While cooling, lay a clean kitchen towel over pan to prevent debris from falling into the sauce.)

2) To strain the sauce: Pour the sauce through a triple-mesh wire sieve that’s positioned over another bowl and, using the flat edge of a sturdy rubber spatula, or a wooden spatula, force the sauce through, leaving the onions, garlic and peppers behind. Discard the solids, pour the sauce into jars, and affix their lids. Store the sauce in the refrigerator.

Timing is Everything
This sauce can be fully assembled and stored in the refrigerator for 6 months.

Watch the Video.

Comments (6)

Marinara Sauce (Three ways)

Special Equipment


Large pot, preferably with a built-in strainer (optional), for blanching tomatoes before peeling (only when making the sauce, using fresh tomatoes)

6-quart, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive saucepan with a lid (for fresh tomato sauce): Use a 4-quart saucepan for the Quick Variation and a 3-quart saucepan for the Ultra-Speedy Sauce

For the sauce

  • Five pounds ripe plum (Roma) tomatoes, or four 28-ounce cans peeled plum tomatoes, drained
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced and divided
  • 1 cup chopped basil, prepared as needed
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
  • 1 28-ounce can tomato puree
  • 2 rounded tablespoons tomato paste
  • Strip of rind from Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 1-inch wide by 4 inches long) (optional)
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1) To peel and seed your tomatoes: Bring large pot of water to a rapid boil and, working in small batches, put some tomatoes into the water and count to ten. Remove them from the water and place in a large bowl. Use your thumbnail or a small paring knife to remove the stem end and cut the tomato in half through the waist. Squeeze the seeds out and coarsely chop the tomatoes. If using canned tomatoes, use kitchen scissors to snip them in half and gently squeeze out the seeds. Snip them all into smallish irregular pieces.

2) To assemble the sauce and simmer: Heat a 6-quart nonreactive, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and, when hot, add the olive oil and butter. When the butter is bubbling, stir in the flour. Let it bubble for about 15 seconds, then stir in the red pepper flakes, half the minced garlic, 1/2 cup chopped basil and the oregano. When fragrant (about 15 seconds), stir the chopped tomatoes, puree and tomato paste. When combined, push the cheese rind deep into sauce, if using, and bring the sauce to a brisk simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook the sauce gently, with the cover ajar, for 35 minutes. Add the remaining garlic, chopped basil and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.

A heartier variation of the above
Use a food processor fitted with the steel blade, to finely chop 1 quartered medium yellow onion, 1 trimmed and sliced stalk of celery, 1 peeled and sliced medium carrot and 5 cloves chopped garlic. Increase the butter to 3 tablespoons and, together with the olive oil, gently sweat these vegetables, directly covered with a piece of greased wax paper for 10 minutes, or until fragrant and starting to soften. Discard the paper and stir in the flour, red pepper flakes and half the basil, as directed in the original recipe. Raise the heat to medium and cook for a minute or so, just to fully incorporate everything. Follow the remaining sauce instructions above.

A quick sauce variation
By just changing the type of tomatoes, you can have quicker version of marinara sauce that’s still great tasting. Heat a 4-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and, when hot, add three tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot, add half the minced garlic, basil and the red pepper flakes. When fragrant (about 10 seconds), add a 28-ounce can each of tomato puree and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a full simmer through the center, and then add two 28-ounces cans drained canned plum tomatoes, snipped into irregular pieces, using kitchen scissors. Bring back to a full simmer, and then reduce the heat to low and cook the sauce gently for 15 minutes with the cover ajar. Add a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, the remaining garlic and the last dose of basil and simmer 5 minutes more.

An ultra-speedy version
When time feels nonexistent, substitute your favorite prepared marinara sauce for all of the tomatoes. Heat a 3-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and, when hot, add a few tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot, add half the minced garlic, basil and the red pepper flakes. When fragrant (about 10 seconds), add about eight cups of your favorite prepared tomato or marinara sauce (I use four 15-ounce containers of the refrigerated Buitoni Marinara Sauce). Stir to combine, and then bring to a full bubble through the center. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 15 minutes with the cover ajar. Add a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, the remaining garlic and the last dose of basil and simmer 5 minutes more.

Timing is Everything
All of the marinara sauce variations can be stored, when cool, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or frozen for 3 months.

Watch the Video.

Comments (4)

Cream of Mushroom Soup Concentrate

Rich soup made from homemade concentrate

If you like that stuff in a can, you’ll love my homemade version of the following mushroom soup “concentrate.” Whether making soup or gravy, all you do is reconstitute the concentrate over gentle heat, with enough added liquid (stock, water, milk or light cream) until you’ve reached the desired consistency. When satisfied with the texture, bring up the temperature to piping hot, and you’re good to go. See my notes at the end of this recipe, about making a larger batch for freezing. So, now you can forget the can and truly taste the mushrooms!

Any time I’ve suggested a tool or a piece of equipment or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, go to Kitchen Management to get more information.

Store your concentrate in a tighly lidded container

Special Equipment

  • Heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan

For the mushroom soup concentrate:

  • 1 ½ cups dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon concentrated beef bouillon paste, like “Better than Bouillon” (optional)
  • 1 cup light cream or milk (even nonfat)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 10 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and coarsely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • To reconstitute: per 1 ½ cups of the assembled concentrate: Add about 1 cup of either stock or water (choose from vegetable, chicken, beef stock) or mix milk and stock

1. To reconstitute the dried mushrooms: Place the dried porcinis in a bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Let the mushrooms reconstitute for 10 to 15 minutes, or until supple. Lift the now supple mushrooms out of the flavorful liquid and retain 1 generous cup of mushrooms and 1 strained cup of the liquid. Chop the mushrooms coarsely and set them aside next to the reserved liquid. Save any remaining reconstituted mushrooms and liquid to use in another recipe.

2. To assemble the soup concentrate: Measure the cream or milk and pour ¼ cup of it into another small bowl. Stir the cornstarch into the smaller amount of milk and set it next to the reserved porcini liquid, for now. Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan and, when hot and bubbling, add the shallots and chopped fresh mushrooms. Cook the vegetables over high heat until the shallots are softened, very fragrant, and the mushrooms give off their liquid. Stir the flour into the wet vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir the larger amount of milk into the pot along with the porcini liquid and chopped porcinis and bring the mixture to a brisk bubble, over medium heat. Stir in the bouillon paste, if using. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes, until thickened. Give the cornstarch mixture a good stir and pour it into the pot. Stir the mixture as it comes to a simmer, add the thyme and let the soup base cook, stirring frequently, uncovered, for 5 minutes (the soup will become thicker and will take on a slight sheen). Season the soup base with salt and pepper to taste, then remove from the stove and pour into another bowl. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the mushroom soup concentrate (to prevent a skin from forming), and let the mixture cool. Refrigerate or freeze for future use. If planning to freeze to use in a recipe that calls for “canned” mushroom soup, divide the concentrate into 1 ¼ cups increments, since that’s the size of a standard can.

3. To reconstitute the concentrate, to use as soup: To each cup of soup base, add 3/4 cup of any kind of stock or just use water. After reheating, if still too thick, add a bit more liquid (use stock, light cream, milk or water)

Timing is Everything

  • The mushroom soup concentrate can be made, cooled and stored in the refrigerator for 5 days, well covered. Alternatively, it can be frozen for 6 months. To thaw, leave in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat gently, but fully, adding as much stock, milk or water, as needed to reach the desired consistency.

About freezing the mushroom soup concentrate: If you make the concentrate and freeze it, don’t be concerned if, after thawing, it looks somewhat curdled. This will correct itself, once fully reheated. I would suggest, however, for the most homogenous texture, after thawing, when a recipe suggests that you use the canned soup “straight” (without liquid) you should stir the measured concentrate, over low heat, with a minimum of ¼ cup liquid (or even crème fraiche), until the texture evens out. And, for best color retention, I always add an extra dose of fresh thyme when reheating, since freezing seems to muddy its green color and quiet its delicate flavor.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon concentrated beef bouillon paste, like “Better than Bouillon” (optional)
  • 1 cup light cream or milk (even nonfat)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 10 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and coarsely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • To reconstitute: per 1 ½ cups of the assembled concentrate: Add about 1 cup of either stock or water (choose from vegetable, chicken, beef stock) or mix milk and stock

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Dried porcini mushrooms
  • Beef bouillon paste (optional)
  • Chicken or vegetable broth (only if not using homemade Chicken Stock)

From the produce section:

  • Button or cremini mushrooms
  • Shallot
  • Fresh thyme

From the dairy case:

  • Butter
  • Light cream or milk

From the spice section:

  • Salt
  • pepper

Comments (0)

Chicken Stock – Liquid Gold!

When creating a homemade pantry, if I was looking for the first thing to make that could provide countless opportunities to quickly concoct something soothing and delicious, I would absolutely vote for homemade stock. Whether you want to make a pot of soup, simmer a rice pilaf, throw together a fast yet full-flavored pan-sauce, or slow-cook classic roux-based gravy, homemade stock is one of those truly pivotal components essential to the quality of a finished dish.

When making chicken stock, I like to add a large stewing hen that’s been sawed in half by my butcher. Although not necessary, because the flesh is more mature, a stewing hen naturally adds more depth of flavor.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

If you check out my Chicken Stock video and Chicken Soup video, you’ll learn why (and see how) to make a few different types of stock in advance so it’s always available in the freezer. This is really the only way to, at whim, get a great bowl of chicken soup on the table–in a hurry!.

After simmering and straining, the greasy liquid needs to chill so the fat can congeal on top.

After chilling, the fat is easy to remove.

Special Equipment

  • 16-quart stock pot
  • Long-handled skimmer (optional)
  • Wooden spatula, for deglazing (optional)

For chicken stock:

  • About 6 to 8 pounds assorted bony chicken parts, skin left intact (backs, necks wing tips, feet, etc.) and, if available, a cooked chicken or turkey carcass
  • Salt, as needed
  • 1 large stewing hen (optional) with neck and gizzard (no liver), well rinsed
  • About 16 cups assorted scrubbed and cut up aromatic vegetables: large unpeeled yellow onions, root ends removed, leeks, carrots, celery, unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • A few sprigs parsley
  • Generous pinch crumbled dried thyme (optional)

1. To brown boney parts with onions: Preheat the oven to 450°F. Sprinkle the rinsed and well-dried bony chicken parts lightly with salt and toss them with some chopped onions. Place the chicken (skin side up) and the onions on 2 shallow baking sheets and roast in the hot oven until the onions and chicken are deeply golden and caramelized, about 30 minutes. (If roasting on two racks, position them on the upper and lower third levels of the oven and switch the baking sheets half way through roasting.)

2. To deglaze the pan(s): Remove the baking sheets from the oven and scrape all the browned ingredients into a tall 16-quart stockpot. Working with one at a time, place a baking sheet directly on the stove burner and pour in some boiling water. Turn the heat to low and, using the flat edge of a wooden spatula, scrape any caramelized bits of chicken and onions off the bottom of the sheet.

3. To assemble the stock and simmer: Carefully pour this flavorful liquid into the stockpot and add the remaining ingredients, along with enough cold water to generously cover the solids by at least 2 inches. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently, with the cover ajar, for 2 hours, occasionally skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Carefully remove the hen (if using) and allow it to become cool enough to handle. Remove the meat, set aside for another use, and return the skin and bones to the simmering broth along with some more fresh vegetables. Continue to simmer with the cover ajar for 1 more hour. Uncover the pot and continue to simmer, very gently, for another 1 to 3 hours to reduce and concentrate the flavors. During this time, occasionally press down on the solids to extract any remaining goodness.

4. To strain, cool, de-fat and store the stock: Allow the stock to cool with the solids, off the heat. Place a large sturdy triple mesh sieve over an extra-large bowl and strain the stock into the bowl while you discard the solids from the colander. Clean the stockpot and pour the stock through a fine-mesh sieve back into the pot. Clean the bowl and pour the strained stock back into the bowl and cover well with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the stock for 48 hours to allow all the fat to solidify and rise to the top of the bowl.

Use a large shallow spoon to scoop off the thick yellow layer of congealed fat on top of the chilled gelatinous stock. At this point you can either season the stock with salt and pepper to taste and use it now, in your recipe, or divide it among labeled heavy-duty freezer container and freeze it for future use. (Don’t season the stock until you know its ultimate use.) You can also reduce it further which will concentrate the flavors even more (see timing and storing information below). Again, don’t salt the liquid until after simmering to avoid over seasoning.

Timing is Everything

Stock can be refrigerated for up to three days before using, if kept very cold.

Stock can and should be made well in advance and kept in securely covered tubs of different sized in the freezer. Stock freezes perfectly for at least 6 months. Always boil thawed stock for a solid minute before eating. (And yes, you can refreeze leftover stock once it’s been thawed, re-boiled and cooled.)

If freezer space is an issue, after removing all the fat, reduce the stock to ½ its original volume (or even less) and, once cool, freeze. To use the thawed stock “concentrate,” add an equal amount of water.

If you don’t want all your plastic tubs to be in the freezer, once the stock is frozen, pop it out of its container and place the frozen stock in a sealed heavy-duty plastic bag. Place back in the freezer until needed.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

  • About 6 to 8 pounds assorted bony chicken parts, skin left intact (backs, necks wing tips, feet, etc.) and, if available, a cooked chicken or turkey carcass
  • Salt, as needed
  • 1 large stewing hen (optional) with neck and gizzard (no liver), well rinsed
  • About 16 cups assorted scrubbed and cut up aromatic vegetables: large unpeeled yellow onions, root ends removed, leeks, carrots, celery, unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • A few sprigs parsley
  • Generous pinch crumbled dried thyme (optional)

From the produce section (assorted vegetables):

  • 2 large bunches carrots (or 2 bags)
  • 6 large yellow onions
  • 4 large leeks
  • 1 large head celery
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 bunch parsley

From the meat department:

  • 1 large stewing hen (with neck and gizzard)
  • 6 to 8 pounds of bony chicken parts (wings, wing tips, necks, backs and feet)

From the spice section:

  • Whole black peppercorns
  • Dried thyme (optional)
  • Salt (kosherb

Watch the Video.

Comments (45)

Spiced Applesauce

This spiced, not-too-sweet version of a comforting old-time favorite is one of my children’s preferred accompaniments to dinner any time of the year. By far, Macintosh apples make the best applesauce, so they make up the majority of this mixture. But, because I prefer a textural applesauce, I add some coarsely chopped Golden Delicious apples, since they hold their shape better through cooking. If desired, Anjou or Bosc pears may be substituted for the Golden Delicious apples. Choose apples that are smooth, deeply colored and free of holes. And since they are cooked with their skins on, apples with a good amount of red will give the sauce a beautiful rosy color. The amount of sugar you’ll need will ultimately depend on the sweetness of the apples and on the type of apple juice you use. And, don’t worry about the brandy used to plump the raisins since, once it fully simmers, the alcohol will quickly evaporate and all that will be left is its wonderful flavor. If this concerns you, however, simply substitute apple juice or cider. This recipe makes a lot of applesauce, but, for me, that’s always been strategic since it keeps for up to three weeks in the refrigerator—though it rarely lasts that long!

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Sturdy fruit wedge cutter (optional)
  • 8-quart non-reactive heavy-bottomed Dutch oven with lid
  • Medium-mesh wire strainer or food mill
  • Nutmeg grater
  • Four 1-quart jars or heavy-duty plastic containers with lids

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mixed light and dark raisins
  • 1/2 cup apple brandy (imported calvados or domestic applejack) or unsweetened apple juice, thawed apple juice concentrate or apple cider
  • 20 Macintosh apples, unpeeled, scrubbed, dried, cored and each cut into 8 wedges
  • 5 Golden Delicious apples or Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 1 2/3 cups apple cider or unsweetened apple juice
  • 1 or 2 stick cinnamon
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of fine table salt (about 1/3 teaspoon)

1) To macerate the raisins: Place raisins and brandy into a small saucepan and heat gently until brandy comes just to a full simmer. Remove from heat and set aside.

2) To cook the Macintosh apples: Place unpeeled Macintosh apple wedges, 1 1/3 cups of the apple cider and the cinnamon stick(s) in an 8-quart nonreactive, heavy-bottomed pot and stir. Cover and bring the mixture to a full simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer the apples until very tender, stirring and mashing frequently, about 15 minutes.

3) To cook the Golden Delicious apples or pears: Place the coarsely chopped apples or pears and remaining 1/3 cup cider in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer (uncovered) and cook just until tender but still textural, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

4) To assemble the applesauce base: Position a medium-mesh wire strainer or a food mill over a large bowl. Transfer the contents of the large pot in batches to strainer or food mill and force apples through into the bowl, leaving the skins and any seeds behind. (A wooden spatula works perfectly when pushing apples through a strainer.) Discard skins and repeat with the remaining cooked apples. Stir in the sugar (to taste), cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, vanilla and the macerated raisins, along with the brandy. Fold in the cooked chopped apples (along with any remaining juice). Cool the applesauce to room temperature, divide among three 1-quart jars or plastic containers and secure them with lids. The applesauce will keep perfectly for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

5) To serve: Enjoy the applesauce chilled, at room temperature or or slightly warmed.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the applesauce :

  • 1 cup mixed light and dark raisins
  • 1/2 cup apple brandy (imported calvados or domestic applejack) or unsweetened apple juice, thawed apple juice concentrate or apple cider
  • 20 Macintosh apples, unpeeled, scrubbed, dried, cored and each cut into 8 wedges
  • 5 Golden Delicious apples or Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 1 2/3 cups apple cider or unsweetened apple juice
  • 1 or 2 stick cinnamon
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of fine table salt (about 1/3 teaspoon)

From the supermarket shelf :

  • Dark and light raisins
  • Granulated or light brown sugar
  • Unsweetened apple juice (only if not using apple cider)
  • Pure vanilla extract

From the produce aisle :

  • 20 medium-large Macintosh apples (If possible, choose those with lots of red in their skins)
  • 5 Golden Delicious apples or Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped

From the spice section:

  • Ground cinnamon
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Nutmeg (preferably whole, but pre-ground nutmeg may be substituted)

From the refrigerator section:

  • Apple cider (if not using bottled apple juice)

From the frozen section:

  • Frozen apple juice concentrate (only if not using apple cider or apple juice)

From the spirits section:

  • Calvados or Apple Jack

Comments (4)

Rendered Chicken Fat

Jewish kosher cooking traditionally uses chicken fat (schmaltz) instead of butter when cooking meat, since mixing dairy and meat products is a definite no-no. Many markets sell tubs of rendered chicken fat. If so, buy a tub or two and, although it’s not essential, I always melt it down with minced yellow onions, to make it incredibly savory in both aroma and flavor.

If your market doesn’t sell chicken fat, each time you roast a chicken, pull any wads of fat out of the cavity and snip them into smallish pieces, using kitchen scissors, and store them in a doubled freezer bag. (Do this with any extra flaps of skin, as well, and add this to the bag.) When you’ve accumulated a stash of at least 2 cups, then render the fat down by cooking in a skillet with some minced yellow onion (over low heat) until all the fat has melted and becomes liquefied, the onions become golden and the pieces of skin become nice and crisp (called Gribenes).

Gribenes(cracklings) are bits of chicken skin that are fried crisp during the rendering process. These small, crunchy treats add intense flavor to breads and also make a delicious garnish for chopped chicken liver. (To add them to yeast breads, knead some crisp gribenes into the dough after the first full rise.)

Another way to obtain a flavorful version of rendered chicken fat is to make stock! After straining, and chilling the strained liquid, instead of throwing the congealed fat (that will have risen to the top of the liquid) away, spoon it into a tub and freeze it. Use as you would chicken fat rendered down with onions.

Comments (5)

Homemade Sweet Cream Butter

The only reason I attached one muscle to this recipe (considering all you really need is a good finger to turn on the food processor), is because you will need to really squeeze the butter, wrapped in a kitchen towel, to remove any excess liquid. This butter will, I trust, make you and yours very (very) happy… Enjoy. Oh, and to see a preview of me making fresh butter, click here.

Special Equipment:

Food processor or heavy-duty blender or mixer
Fine-mesh wire strainer
Decorating comb (optional)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt

1. To prepare butter: Place cream and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade (or use a blender or heavy mixer). Whip cream until the pure butterfat separates from the milky whey, 4 to 7 minutes (this will take longer if not using a food processor). It’s finished when the mixture sounds very slushy as the liquid splashes against the sides of the bowl. When you stop the machine, the butter will be a separate mass surrounded by a shallow pool of milky liquid. Pour this mixture into a fine-mesh strainer and shake until most of the liquid has drained out. Fold a clean, strong cotton or linen kitchen towel in half and dump the butter onto the center. Gather the ends of the towel and firmly squeeze to remove any excess buttermilk.

2. To store: Transfer butter to an attractive 1-cup crock or ramekin and, using the towel, pat off any remaining beads of liquid. Brush the top with a decorative comb or the tines of a fork and, if desired, sprinkle the top lightly with Kosher or sea salt. Either use the butter immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. For best consistency, always bring butter close to room temperature before serving as a spread.

Variation :
Transfer the finished butter into the cleaned and dried bowl of the food processor; add a few tablespoons of your favorite preserves, process until smooth and spread on fresh biscuits or plain toast. Or, add to the butter a combination of chopped fresh or crumbled dried herbs, minced garlic, minced green onion, strained fresh lemon juice and chopped drained capers; serve on top of broiled fresh fish, grilled steak or chicken.

General Rule: When using best quality aromatic dried herbs, they are about three times as potent as fresh. Use 1 teaspoon of a fragrant dried and crumbled herb to 1 rounded tablespoon minced fresh.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Kosher or sea salt (optional)

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Fine table salt
  • Kosher or sea salt (optional)

From the dairy case:

  • Heavy cream

Watch the Video.

Comments (4)

Homemade Duck Sauce

This concoction is not only easy to make but it tastes way better than the stuff you find in the jar (no comparison…).

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Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Food processor or blender

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peach or apricot preserves (or mix them both)
  • 4 ½ tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced scallions
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (preferably Tamari)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 generous teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1) To assemble the sauce and simmer: In a small non-reactive saucepan, whisk together all the listed ingredients, excluding the sesame oil. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir in the toasted sesame oil.

2) To finish the sauce and chill: transfer to the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the steel blade. Pulse the mixture, so any large pieces of fruit are made smaller, but allowing the sauce to retain texture. Pour the sauce into a bowl and let it cool. Chill the sauce so it can thicken.

3) To serve: Bring close to room temperature before serving with Everything” Fried Chinese Noodles (see video).

Timing is Everything:
The duck sauce can be made 2 days ahead and leftovers are good for a few more days in the fridge (5 days total).


SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

  • 1 cup peach or apricot preserves (or mix them both)
  • 4 ½ tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced scallions
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (preferably Tamari)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 generous teaspoon toasted sesame oil

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Peach and/or apricot preserves
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Soy sauce (preferably Tamari)
  • Toasted sesame oil

From the produce aisle:

  • Fresh ginger
  • Scallions

Watch the Video.

Comments (3)

Homemade Applesauce

This smooth, spiced and not-too-sweet version of applesauce is just wonderful and the perfect accompaniment to potato pancakes. Macintosh apples make the best applesauce both, for their willingness to quickly surrender their texture and because of their rosy color, which gives the finished applesauce a beautiful pink hue. Leftover applesauce will stay great for up to three weeks in the refrigerator—although it won’t last that long!

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information. And, I hope you’ll read my blog about what I learned, philosophically, after reflecting on a fabulous day of apple picking . You’ll also “see” how to make the best batch of applesauce I ever made.

Special Equipment

  • Sturdy fruit wedge cutter (optional)
  • 6 to 8-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan with lid
  • Large medium-mesh wire strainer or food mill
  • Nutmeg grater
  • 3 pint-size or 1 quart and 1 pint-size jars with screw-top lids or heavy-duty plastic containers with lids

Ingredients:

  • 11 large Macintosh apples, unpeeled, scrubbed, dried and each cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 cup apple cider or unsweetened apple juice
  • 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine table salt
  • 1 scant teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1)To cook the apples: Place unpeeled apple wedges (including the cores) with the apple juice or cider and the cinnamon stick(s) in a 6-to 8-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir. Cover and bring the mixture to a full simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer the apples until very tender, stirring and mashing frequently, 15 to 20 minutes.

2)To assemble the applesauce: Position a medium-mesh wire strainer or a food mill over a large bowl. Transfer the cooked apples, in batches, to strainer or food mill and force through into the bowl beneath, leaving the skins, cinnamon sticks and any seeds behind. (A flat-edged wooden spatula works perfectly when pushing apples through a strainer.) Discard what’s left in strainer or food-mill and repeat with the remaining cooked apples. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and vanilla. Cool the applesauce to room temperature, divide among jars or plastic containers and secure them with lids. The applesauce will keep perfectly for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

3)To serve: Enjoy the applesauce chilled or slightly warmed.


SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients:

Ingredients:

11 large Macintosh apples, unpeeled, scrubbed, dried and each cut into 8 wedges
1 cup apple cider or another favorite brand of regular apple juice
1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon fine table salt
1 scant teaspoon pure vanilla extract

From the produce aisle:
11 large Macintosh apples

From the supermarket shelf:
Granulated sugar
Pure vanilla extract
Ground cinnamon
Cinnamon sticks
Whole nutmeg (or use pre-ground nutmeg)

From the refrigerated section:
Apple cider (or use regular apple juice)

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients:

Ingredients:

11 large Macintosh apples, unpeeled, scrubbed, dried and each cut into 8 wedges
1 cup apple cider or another favorite brand of regular apple juice
1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
1/3 granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon fine table salt
1 scant teaspoon pure vanilla extract

From the produce aisle:
11 large Macintosh apples

From the supermarket shelf:
Granulated sugar
Pure vanilla extract
Ground cinnamon
Cinnamon sticks
Whole nutmeg (or use pre-ground nutmeg)

From the refrigerated section:
Apple cider (or use regular apple juice)

Comments (5)

Homemade Steak Sauce

The taste of commercially-prepared steak sauce is so assertive that no one in my family will go near it. But this easy sauce (based on my favorite chili sauce from Heinz) is just spicy enough and tastes so great that we even prefer it to ketchup on our burgers. When served just a little warm, the rich taste will enhance the most succulent cuts of steak and perk up the flavor of simple broiled or roast chicken. Also, a jar of this wonderful sauce makes a delectable house gift during barbecue season. Don’t hesitate to double or even triple the ingredients; the sauce can be refrigerated for up to two months.  

 

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment   

  • Small non-reactive saucepan

For the steak sauce:  

  • 2/3 cup bottled chili sauce (not Asian chili paste: look in the aisle with the ketchup)
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsulphured molasses
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. To assemble the sauce: Combine all ingredients (except the pepper) in a small non-reactive heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring mixture to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Simmer gently (uncovered) until flavors have combined and mixture has thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Let cool to just warm or room temperature before serving.  

2. To store: Store any remaining sauce well covered in the refrigerator. Bring sauce to room temperature or warm slightly before serving.  


SHOPPING LIST  

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients  

For the steak sauce:  

  • 2/3 cup bottled chili sauce (not Asian chili paste: look in the aisle with the ketchup)
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsulphured molasses
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

From the supermarket shelf:  

  • Bottled chili sauce
  • Cider vinegar
  • Brown sugar (soft, not granulated)
  • Molasses
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Black pepper

Comments (1)

Garlic Confit With Cracked Pepper and Herbs

This is one recipe that I prepare every week (without fail) and use it almost every day. Whole garlic cloves, still in their papery skins, simmer away, at the barest bubble, in extra-virgin olive oil that’s laced with dried red pepper flakes, cracked black peppercorns, fresh basil and crumbled dried Herbs de Provence. If your stove doesn’t have a very low simmer mode, I suggest using a “flame-tamer” to protect the integrity of the oil. You might need to adjust the timing a bit. I use the oil to brush on meat, fish, poultry and vegetables before (and even after) grilling, roasting or pan-searing. I also serve the garlic-scented oil with the tender nuggets of cooked garlic (still in their skins) in small bowls, at the table. We squeeze out the garlic meat onto slices of crusty bread, and drizzle some of the oil on top and finish it off with a light sprinkle of coarse salt.

I hope you love this condiment as much as we do, and remember, any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

For garlic confit:

  • 3 or 4 whole heads garlic, broken into individual cloves but not peeled (remove any excess papery skins)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 rounded teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)
  • large sprig of fresh basil (with stem attached)
  • Pinch dried Herbs de Provence, crumbled (optional)

1. To simmer the garlic cloves: Place them in a 1-1/2 quart heavy-bottomed saucepan and add enough extra-virgin olive oil to cover the cloves by 1 inch. Crack open black peppercorns, using either a mortar and pestle or, lay the peppercorns on a sturdy work surface and cover them with a clean kitchen towel. Give the peppercorns several swift whacks, until most are split open. Add the cracked pepper and dried pepper flakes, if using, to the oil and place the pan over very low heat.

After about 5 minutes, you’ll see the oil begin to bubble. Let the oil and garlic simmer extremely gently for 10 minutes, uncovered. Don’t let the oil simmer too briskly or the garlic might burst and actually jump out of the pan (I once found a few cloves clinging to my kitchen ceiling!) Add the basil sprig and let cook for another 5 minutes (Again, the word “cook” seems too aggressive should only barely move.) Add the Herbs de Provence, if using and remove from the stove.

2. To cool and store: Let the garlic confit cool and then remove the basil. After you’ve used what you need for that day, store the rest in the refrigerator, in tightly covered jar, to use throughout the week. For best flavor and ease of use, bring the oil to room temperature, before using.

SHOPPING LIST

TO MARKET, TO MARKET FOR GARLIC CONFIT

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For garlic confit:

  • 2 whole heads garlic (or more), broken into individual cloves but not peeled (remove any excess papery skins)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 rounded teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Pinch dried Herbs de Provence, crumbled (optional)

From the produce section:

  • Whole heads garlic (Buy several, making sure that the heads feel meaty with cloves that are full and plump. Avoid those with dry, puckered papery skins or green spouts, since this indicates old age.)
  • Fresh basil

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

From the spice section:

  • Herbs de Provence (optional)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Whole black peppercorns (optional)

Watch the Video.

Comments (2)

Clarified Butter

Clarified butter (also known as “drawn” butter or as ghee in Indian cooking), is used both as a dipping sauce and for frying at high temperatures without burning. The clarifying process of slowly melting and straining butter removes the thin, milky nonfat substances that burn easily. After melting, these nonfat substances will eventually separate from the pure, vibrant yellow butterfat. It’s preferable to clarify butter before using it as a dipping sauce, because the milk solids detract from the aesthetic clarity or eye appeal of melted butter when serving. Conveniently, since these milky proteins are what make whole butter more susceptible to spoilage, removing them enables clarified butter to be kept successfully for many months in the refrigerator. Despite the fact that clarified butter is very handy for certain cooking tasks, its flavor is not as rich as full butter and therefore is not recommended as a substitute when baking.

To clarify butter: Melt 1 or more sticks of butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan (preferably with a spout) over low heat until totally liquid. Remove from heat and let butter settle for 15 minutes. Using a fine-mesh skimmer or a small spoon, remove the white foamy substance that sits on top of the butterfat. When no milky solids remain on top, pour the pure, vibrant yellow butterfat through the fine-mesh skimmer or a fine-mesh sieve into a container, leaving any milky nonfat residue behind. Store in a well-sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Comments (0)

Bread and Butter Pickles, with Onions, Peppers and Garlic

These jars are filled with a fabulous pickled vegetable mixture that we just love. And, in addition to making a wonderful gift, “put up” foods are also a great way to, at whim, revisit some delicious summertime memories. If making pickles and canning is new to you, I highly suggest that you read my blog (will be posted very soon), which has many clarifying photos. If you can’t find the canning equipment in well-stocked hardware stores, go to this online source. I also suggest you read this recipe in it’s entirety, twice, before getting started so you have a clear understanding of the ingredients needed and of the order of steps in the pickle-making procedure.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management or Knowledge is Power for more information.

Special Equipment:

  • Large canning pot with lid removable rack
  • Crinkle cutter (optional)
  • Wide mouth funnel
  • Canning tongs
  • Quart and/or pint size jars with un-used discs and screw-top bands
  • 10-quart nonreactive, heavy-bottomed pot
  • Large ladle
  • Thin, heat-proof rubber spatula
  • Labels

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds firm Kirby cucumbers, washed, round ends removed and the rest sliced 1/3 to ½-inch thick (you want 3 generous quarts sliced cucumbers)
  • 4 to 6 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 3 large yellow onions, sliced and separated into rings
  • 1/2 cup pickling salt (if unavailable, use kosher salt, adding 2 tablespoons) for the cucumbers, plus more for the peppers (see below)
  • 3 large red peppers, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 3 tablespoons pickling salt (or 1/4 cup kosher salt), for the peppers
  • 2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar

To set up: Place the canning rack inside a large canning pot and fill with cold water. Turn on the heat and, once the water boils, reduce the heat so the water maintains a simmer until needed. Run clean quart and/or pint jars through the dishwasher and leave them inside until ready. Or, using canning tongs, lower the jars in the pot of water, upened side up, after it comes to a boil. If so, bring the water back to a boil, after adding the jars, and turn the pot to a simmer until needed. Fill a 4-quart pot, half full, with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add the screw top discs and bands and also stick in your ladle. Maintain a below-simmering status. (While the water is heating in both pots, you’ll be working with the vegetables.) In a separate pan of simmering water, steep the top to the jars (the discs and screw top bands). Add to the water, the bowl-end of a ladle , a thin heat-proof rubber spatula and also the rubberized ends of canning tongs. Make sure your wide-mouth funnel is very clean.

To salt and soak the vegetables: In a large, nonreactive bowl, combine the sliced cucumbers, garlic, onions and 1/2 cup pickling salt. Mix well with your hands and allow the vegetables to stand for 1 hour. Then, cover the mixture with cold water and let stand, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile (just after adding the water to the vegetables), in a separate nonreactive bowl, combine the sliced peppers with 3 tablespoons pickling salt and let stand for 45 minutes. Cover the peppers with cold water and let them stand for 45 minutes. (All of the vegetables will be ready to proceed at the same time. ) Swish the vegetables around with your hands, then drain both in a colander, shaking well but do not rinse.

To pickle the vegetables: In a 10-quart, nonreactive pot, whisk together the vinegar, water, mustard seeds, celery seed, turmeric and sugar and bring this to a boil. Add all the drained vegetables to the boiling liquid and stir well to combine. Bring the liquid back to a boil at the center, stirring occasionally to make sure it’s all very hot.

To set up to process vegetables: Place a large, wire cooling rack on your counter. Place a clean kitchen towel over the rack. Lay another towel to one side of the prepared rack and lay the drained discs. If the jars are in the simmering water, use canning tons to carefully remove them, draining them completely. If in the dishwasher, simply remove them and place them on the towel (remember, the jars should be very warm to hot before being filled.) Place the jars, opened end down (for now), on the towel. Bring the water in the canner back up to a boil, then invert the jars, open ends up. Using the sterilized ladle, transfer the hot vegetables into the jars. Ladle the pickling liquid into each jar, dividing evenly, so the jars are filled (leaving 1/2-inch of headroom at the top). Take the sterilized rubber spatula and run it down the side of the filled jar to remove any air pockets from within. Immediately place the drained disc on top of the jar and screw on the band–not too tight! (If using any other type of tops on your jars, sterilize and apply to jars following the manufacturer’s instructions).

To process the jars: Uncover the pot of boiling water and, using canning tongs, carefully lower the jars (one at a time) into the pot and onto the rack. After all the jars have been added, they should all be covered by at least 1-inch of boiling water. Cover the pot and, when you see steam escaping from under the lid, begin timing. Process the jars for 10 minutes, once you see steam. (The heat should be high when processing. If, however, the pot begins to spit water from under the lid, reduce the heat a bit to help to calm things down. The water should, though, always produce rapid bubbles.)

After processing: While the vegetables are being processed, clean up the area where you filled the jars. Replace the towel on the rack so everything is, once again, very clean. After 10 minutes in the boiling water, uncover the pot and turn off the heat. Using canning tongs, lift the jars out of the water and bring them to the towel lined rack. (It’s a good idea to, while using your working hand to secure the top of the jar with tongs, hold a folded towel in the other hand and rest the jar on the towel as you walk to the rack.) Stand the jars, right side up, on the towel-lined rack and let them cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Soon after removing the jars, you should hear a series of audible “pings” indicating that the seals on each jar are secure. (You won’t always hear this, though. Most important is that the tops of the jars are not bulging but are, somewhat concave.) Place the cooled jars it in a dark cool place for 1 month before serving. If done properly, the jars will keep for 1 year or longer.

Safety note: If when you open a jar you see a foaming substance or smell a foul odor or if the lid is bulging before opening, do not taste it to see if it is alright…. WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!!

SHOPPING LIST for Bread and Butter Pickles with Onions, Peppers and Garlic

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients:

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds firm Kirby cucumbers, washed, round ends removed and the rest sliced 1/3 to ½-inch thick (you want 3 generous quarts sliced cucumbers)
  • 4 to 6 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 3 large yellow onions, sliced and separated into rings
  • 1/2 cup pickling salt (if unavailable, use kosher salt, adding 2 tablespoons) for the cucumbers, plus more for the peppers (see below)
  • 3 large red peppers, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 3 tablespoons pickling salt (or 1/4 cup kosher salt), for the peppers
  • 2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar

From the vegetable market:

  • 5 pounds Kirby cucumbers
  • Garlic
  • Yellow onions
  • Red bell peppers

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Yellow mustard seed
  • Turmeric
  • Granulated sugar

From the specialty market:

  • Pickling salt (use Kosher salt as a substitute)

Comments (1)

Spice Blend For Quick Breads, Cookies & More

Ready and waiting to be used as a flavor-packed addition to your quick breads and cookies, this dry spice blend is a real comfort, especially when you want to get something sweet and aromatic in and out of the oven, in a hurry. In addition to the suggested uses in the title of this recipe, this mixture tastes great when sprinkled on sautéed apples, in applesauce, fresh apple or pear pies, in whipped cream and even in cooked sweet potatoes or winter squash, mashed or drizzled with little softened butter and maple syrup.

For the spice blend:

  • 1/2 cup ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch of salt

Use a whisk to combine all of the listed ingredients, then sift them together into another bowl. Position a wide mouth funnel over a 1/2 pint jar and spoon the spice mix into the jar. Ready for use, immediately after being assembled, store the jar on a cool pantry shelf, away from direct sunlight for 1 year.

Comments (1)

Poultry Seasoning Mix

Spice blends are easy to prepare and make the process of seasoning a lot less messy. Before I decided to assemble this mixture, which contains all of my favorite savory flavors for cooked poultry, every time I wanted to season my chicken, I had to locate all the different bottled flavoring ingredients and apply them individually. Then, after rubbing the bird(s) with oil, and applying more seasoning, everything was always a sticky mess. Now, I can just grab one jar and shake away. Be sure to use a shaker top with large holes to give the bird(s) a very generous application of seasoning.

And, as with all spice blends, remember to keep the jars out of direct sunlight, since both light and heat will encourage both the distortion and dissipation of flavor. I use this mixture at least once a week, so I usually double the recipe.

For the seasoning blend:

  • 1/3 cup toasted dehydrated onions (or use 3 generous tablespoons onion powder)
  • 1/3 cup dehydrated minced garlic (or use 3 generous tablespoons garlic powder)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons crushed red chili flakes (or up to 2 teaspoons chili powder), or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper (easily done in a spice grinder)
  • 2 tablespoons Lawry’s seasoned salt
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher or sea salt
  • 3/4 cup sweet Hungarian paprika

1) To assemble and store your poultry seasoning: If you have a spice grinder, one by one, finely grind the dehydrated onions and garlic, then the red pepper flakes and place the powdered ingredients into the food processor, fitted with the steel blade. Alternatively, if not using a spice grinder, place garlic, onion and chili powders directly into the work-bowl. Add the black pepper, seasoned salt, coarse salt and paprika and process until all of the ingredients are thoroughly distributed, and more finely ground, about 2 minutes. Store in a generously perforated shaker top jar, tightly shut, on a cool pantry shelf, away from direct sunlight, for one year.

SHOPPING LIST

From the spice section:

  • Onion powder or toasted dehydrated onions
    (Note: If the toasted kind is not available, toss the regular ones in a dry pan, stirring constantly, over medium heat, until golden. Empty them into a bowl and let them cool before grinding in the spice grinder.)
  • Garlic powder or minced dehydrated garlic chips (or use garlic powder)
  • Chili powder
  • Whole black peppercorns
  • Lawry’s seasoned salt
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Hungarian paprika (sweet)

Comments (3)

Homemade “Instant” Hot Cocoa Mix

Have you ever met a kid who didn’t welcome a hefty mug of rich hot cocoa on a chilly morning or after a day in the snow? For those of you that wonder what “real” difference it makes to use a homemade mix instead of a store-bought one, I urge you to try this recipe.

When you choose to use a bit of down time to make this dry concoction, in bulk, the benefits are not just limited to enhanced taste. For me, the biggest benefit has always been the nurturing “take away” as a parent, which is far greater than when tearing open a packet of those commercially prepared mixes (complete with dehydrated marshmallows, resembling space-rocks). So, if you have children or neighbors who have children, now’s the time to whisk, sift and store this terrific cocoa mix and make sure to stop and take notice at how different it feels, when you hear those wonderful words “This is so delicious!” Also, if you have friends who go skiing often, this cocoa mix makes a fabulous gift.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment:

  • Large triple-mesh wire sieve (not a fine-mesh sieve)
  • 5-quart canister, preferably airtight

For the Cocoa Mix:

  • 3 cups Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 1/2 cups superfine sugar
  • 6 1/2 cups dry nonfat milk
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)

For One Mug of Hot Cocoa:

  • 1/3 cup Mom’s Hot Cocoa Mix (use a bit more or less, depending on your desire for richness)
  • 1 ½ cups boiling water or very hot milk, half and half or cream, or use a combination
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Suggested Garnishes :

  • Cinnamon sticks, for stirring
  • Whipped cream (or pulverize a few hard peppermint candies and fold them into whipped cream with a bit of pink food coloring and then sprinkle the top with some more peppermint candy that’s been cracked into coarser pieces.)
  • OR Big Marshmallows OR Shaved bittersweet or semisweet chocolate ((use a vegetable peeler) mini chocolate chips and a few mini marshmallows1) To assemble the mix: Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a 6-quart bowl. Sift mixture through a large triple-mesh sieve into another bowl and then sift back into the original bowl. Store in an airtight 4- to 5-quart canister.2) To make a mug of hot cocoa: Place 1/3 cup of the dry mix into a mug. (Use less mix for a smaller cup.) Fill the mug with boiling water, milk, half and half or cream (or use a combination). Add vanilla and stir well, with a cinnamon stick, if using. Top with any of the suggested garnishes. If serving to young children, you might want to stir in a bit of cold milk just to take some of the heat off.Note: To shave chocolate, if using, run a regular vegetable peeler across a block of firm bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. Depending on the width of the chocolate you’re shaving, you will either get long curls or a fine dusting. Both are delicious. Store any extras in an airtight container.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

  • For the Cocoa Mix:
  • 3 cups Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 1/2 cups superfine sugar
  • 6 1/2 cups dry nonfat milk
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)

For One Mug of Hot Cocoa:

  • 1/3 cup Mom’s Hot Cocoa Mix (use a bit more or less, depending on your desire for richness)
  • 1 ½ cups boiling water or very hot milk, half and half or cream, or use a combination
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Suggested Garnishes:

  • Cinnamon sticks, for stirring
  • Whipped cream (or pulverize a few hard peppermint candies and fold them into whipped cream with a bit of pink food coloring and then sprinkle the top with some more peppermint candy that’s been cracked into coarser pieces.)
  • OR Big Marshmallows OR Shaved bittersweet, semisweet or milk chocolate (use a vegetable peeler) mini chocolate chips and a few mini marshmallows

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Dutch-processed, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Superfine sugar
  • Nonfat dry milk
  • Marshmallows (optional)
  • Peppermint candies (optional)
  • Chocolate for shaving (optional)

From the spice section:

  • Ground cinnamon (optional)
  • Cinnamon sticks (optional)
  • Vanilla

From the dairy case:

  • Milk, half and half or heavy cream (all optional)

Comments (0)

Baking Powder Biscuit Mix

If you live with finicky eaters, this recipe is for you! Ever since my children were little, whenever I chose to serve an entree that could be perceived by kids as “iffy,” like fresh fish for dinner, I’d avoid getting the evil eye by always having these delicious biscuits parked strategically at the table. If you don’t want to fuss with measuring tools and bags of flour on a hectic weekday (which is when we could all use a good biscuit!), use a few minutes on a leisurely weekend or on an unoccupied evening to quickly put together this mix. That way, a fresh batch of tender biscuits is always just minutes away.

  • 14 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Use a whisk to thoroughly combine all the ingredients in an extra-large mixing bowl and sift this into another large bowl. Whisk again thoroughly, then spoon the mix into a 5-pound capacity canister with a tight-fitting lid. Store the canister on a cool dry pantry shelf. Now you’re ready to use this mix to make some wonderful Scones or Baking Powder Biscuits!

Comments (11)

“The Best” Dried Crumbs and Cubes (From Fresh Bread)

By definition, store-bought bread crumbs are old and stale. So, why use them (or worse, serve them to guests)? For the best bread crumbs, regardless of their ultimate use, always purchase the freshest bread possible and, within twenty-four hours of purchase, if not eaten, make dried bread crumbs or croutons. The good news–homemade dried bread crumbs and cubes freeze perfectly when stored in doubled, well-sealed freezer bags. And there’s no need to thaw them– just scoop them straight from the freezer as you need them.

Whether making croutons, stuffing, crumbs to cover fish, boneless chicken or shrimp, or a savory topping for freshly cooked pasta or a bubbling gratin, the flavor and aroma of bread crumbs and cubes made at home is unbelievably better than the store-bought stuff.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Food processor

For crumbs or cubes:

  • 1 large, fresh loaf Italian bread (preferably with sesame seeds on top), crust kept intact (or more, as needed)

1) To make coarse or fine bread crumbs: Preheat the oven to 375oF. Slice the bread into 1-inch slices and lay them in a single layer on a wire cooling rack set on a shallow, baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until light golden all over. Turn off the heat and let the bread remain there until dry and very crisp, about 15 minutes. (If your oven runs hot, leave the door ajar while drying.) Remove from the oven and, when the slices are cool, crush them and drop into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process the bread until the crumbs are coarse or fine, depending on which type you want. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and use as directed in your recipe or store them in an air-tight canister for 1 week at room temperature or in the freezer, in doubled, heavy-duty freezer bags.

2) To make dried bread cubes: Preheat the oven to 375oF. Cut the bread (including the crust) into 1/2-inch slices, then stack two slices and cut them lengthwise into 1/2-inch strips. Cut these strips into 1/2-inch cubes. Continue until you’ve cut the entire loaf this way. Place the bread cubes on a shallow (not-too-dark) baking sheet in a single layer and bake until the cubes are dry and light golden all over, about 10 minutes. (If still somewhat soft, leave the cubes in a turned off oven for 10 to 15 minutes, with the door ajar. When done, the cubes should feel dry and hard. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and use bread cubes as desired or allow them to cool completely before storing them either in the freezer or in an air-tight canister for 1 week, at room temperature.

Timing is Everything:

  • Bread cubes and crumbs can be frozen for at least 2 months in doubled securely sealed plastic bags. To use, just scoop them from the freezer.

For Crispy Garlic Croutons:

  • 2 cups dried bread cubes
  • 1/2 cup best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced very thin
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of oregano crumbled (optional)
  • 1/4 cup grated best-quality Parmesan cheese (optional)

1) To flavor the oil: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, reduce the heat to medium and stir in the sliced garlic. Sauté the garlic, pressing on the slices with the back of a wooden spoon to help flavor the oil. Cook the garlic, until golden and crisp, being careful not to let it burn. Using a slotted utensil, remove the garlic slices and set them aside, for now.

2) To sauté the croutons: Raise the heat under the pan to medium-high and add all the bread cubes. Sauté the cubes in the hot oil, until golden on all sides, tossing frequently give them even exposure to heat. Chop the fried garlic slices and add to the skillet. Stir to combine the bread cubes with the garlic. Cook for a minute or so, remove the fried cubes with the garlic to a bowl. Sprinkle on some fresh ground pepper and the oregano, if using. If desired, toss with the optional grated Parmesan cheese and bake the croutons on a shallow baking sheet for another 5 minutes, in a preheated 375°F oven. Whether or not you use the cheese, let the croutons cool completely, uncovered, and then pile them into a bowl or an airtight tin.

3) To store croutons: Store croutons, at room temperature covered in an airtight container.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For crumbs or cubes:

  • 1 large, fresh loaf Italian bread (preferably with sesame seeds on top), crust kept intact (or more, as needed)

TO MARKET, TO MARKET FOR CRISPY GARLIC CROUTONS

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the croutons:

  • 2 cups dried bread cubes
  • 1/2 cup best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced very thin
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of oregano crumbled (optional)
  • 1/4 cup grated best-quality Parmesan cheese (optional)

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

From the produce section:

  • Garlic

From the spice section

  • Dried oregano
  • Black pepper

From the dairy case

  • Best-quality Parmesan cheese (optional)

Watch the Video.

Comments (7)

Fajitas Seasoning

Since my kids love to order fajitas when we go out for a Mexican meal, I decided to create a fajita spice blend that could easily be added to steak, chicken, shrimp or even a whole fish. This way, it’s really easy to pull together a truly savory and delicious meal, at a moment’s notice. A recipe for Assorted Fajitas are in the I Love to Cook Book. You can also read my blog (“As the big thaw continues…”) to see some photos of me making this for dinner.

Special Equipment:

  • Spice grinder (optional)
  • Food processor

For the flavor blend:

  • 3 teaspoons whole cumin seeds (use ground cumin, if you don’t have a spice grinder)
  • 3 tablespoons minced dehydrated garlic chips (use garlic powder, if you don’t have a spice grinder)
  • 3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons pure chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons aromatic dried oregano, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

1) To toast and grind the cumin seeds and garlic chips: Heat a 10-inch skillet over high heat. While the pan is heating, place a plate next to your work surface. When the pan is hot, add the cumin seeds and toast them, stirring constantly, until fragrant and the seeds take on a visibly deeper hue, about 2 minutes. Immediately pour the seeds onto the plate and set them aside until they become cool. Transfer the seeds to a spice grinder and process until finely ground. Transfer the ground cumin to the bowl of your food processor, fitted with the steel blade. Use the spice grinder to finely grind the garlic chips and add to the ground cumin in the food processor.

2) To complete the spice blend and store: Add the pepper, salt, chili powder, oregano and brown sugar to the work-bowl and process, until everything is evenly distributed and finely ground. Store the blend in a generously perforated, pint-size shaker-top jar, securely sealed, on a cool pantry shelf away from direct sunlight, for 1 year.

Comments (1)