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Volume 19   Number 34

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   > Article: Last-Minute Crunch

   > Food Funnies: Signs You’re At A Bad Italian Restaurant

       S E L E C T E D    R E C I P E S :

    * Applebee's Smothered Steak Skillet
    * Classic Chicken BBQ
    * Halibut in Butter Cream Sauce
    * Sliced Steak with Roasted Corn Salsa
    * Koosa
    * Funnel Cakes
    * Frisee Salad with Gorgonzola
    * Peach Cobbler

     Healthy Eating:

    Low Carb: Low Carb Biscuits 

    Diabetic: Almond Fudge Brownies

    Low Fat: Low Fat Fried Chicken


  This Week's Cooking Tips

     Fruit Pie Tips:

  * Save the drained juice from frozen or canned fruit and use 
 fruit juice instead of water in your recipe. This is only a good 
 idea if the juice does not have a lot of sugar in it. 

  * Add fresh butter to your fruit pie filling after it has been 
 cooked. Or dot pieces of butter over the fruit before you place 
 on the top crust. 

  * Don't cut apples pieces too thin when you are using fresh 
 apples. Larger chunks will hold together and have more apple flavor. 

  * Use a little red food color and a drop or two of almond extract 
 in your cherry pies when  you use fresh or canned cherries. 

  * Use a little yellow food color and a teaspoon of lemon juice in 
 your apricot and peach fruit pies. The lemon juice will enhance 
 their flavor and also help keep a bright color. More Cooking Tips


  This Week's Culinary Quiz (Answer at the bottom of page)

  In Naples and its surrounding cities, one may be served various
 types of fish cooked in what is called "acqua pazza", which literally
 means "crazy water". What, exactly, is "acqua pazza"?


  Quote of the Week:

   "The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking
    you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude."

    - Julia Child (1912-2004)



        August is: National Catfish Month 
                   National Water Quality Month

             August 21 - National Spumoni Day
             August 22 - National Pecan Torte Day 
             August 23 - National Spongecake Day 
             August 24 - National Peach Pie Day 
             August 25 - National Banana Split Day 
             August 26 - National Cherry Popsicle Day 
             August 27 - National Pots du Creme Day 
             August 28 - National Cherry Turnover Day 


   Last-Minute Crunch
    By Mark Bittman

  Most Italian pasta recipes featuring eggplant and tomatoes, the
 vegetable stars of late summer, seem to focus on a tomato sauce with
 fried eggplant as a component. Nothing wrong with that, but frying
 eggplant can be a bit of a production. When cooked individually, each
 slice absorbs more than a little bit of oil. And no matter how well
 you flour and bread the eggplant, no matter how brilliantly crunchy
 it is after frying, by the time you serve it that crunch is gone.

  There is a way around all this. In this recipe, chunks of eggplant
 are cooked quickly in olive oil or, if you like, olive oil that has
 had cured pork - bacon or pancetta, say - rendered in it. The
 tomatoes spend only about 10 minutes in the pot so they retain lots
 of flavor.

  The trick is adding crisp-cooked bread crumbs to the sauce at the
 last minute, which brings back the crunch. You can cook the crumbs
 separately or in the same olive oil you use for the eggplant,
 removing them before the eggplant is added. For this to work, though,
 they must be fresh: not the stuff sold in cardboard tubes or plastic
 bags but bread that has been chopped into large (pea-size) pieces in
 a food processor.

  If you have small, thin-skinned, nearly seedless eggplants, do not
 bother to peel or salt them. If your eggplant is bigger but still
 under a pound and firm, sprinkle a tablespoon or so of salt over the
 chunks as they sit in a colander for about half an hour; rinse and
 dry them before cooking. If your eggplant is a thick-skinned, seedy
 monster, you might peel it before salting.

  In other words, it pays to find small eggplants, and at this time of
 year that should be a pretty easy task.

  Pasta with Eggplant, Tomatoes and Bread Crumbs
    Salt and pepper
    1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (use lesser amount if
      using meat)
    1/4 cup diced pancetta, guanciale or bacon, optional
    1 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
    2 small-to-medium eggplants, about 12 oz., in 1/2" to 1" chunks
    1 pound spaghetti or linguine
    6 small or 3 medium tomatoes, about 12 ounces, cored, seeded and
      in 1/2" to 1" chunks
    1 to 2 teaspoons thinly sliced garlic
    Chopped fresh basil or parsley for garnish

 1. Set a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Put half the oil
    in a large skillet and turn heat to medium-high. Cook meat, if you
    are using it, stirring occasionally, until just about crisp.
    Remove with a slotted spoon. Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring
    almost constantly, until nicely browned, 3 to 5 minutes; season
    them with a bit of salt and pepper as they cook. Remove with a
    slotted spoon and add remaining oil.

 2. Cook eggplant, stirring occasionally and seasoning with salt and
    pepper, until browned and tender, about 15 minutes. When it is
    done, begin cooking pasta. Add tomatoes and garlic to skillet and
    cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 10 minutes.
    By this time, pasta will be just about tender; when it is, drain

 3. Toss pasta with eggplant-tomato mixture, bread crumbs and meat, if
    you used it. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish, and serve.


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  FOOD FUNNIES: Signs You’re At A Bad Italian Restaurant

 10. The word "Hut" anywhere in the name of the place. 

  9. You ask for Sauce Bolognaise and the waiter informs you they
     don’t serve cold cuts there. 

  8. You get a discount if your meal is a Passover seder. 

  7. "Authentic Southern Italian Cuisine" means Hog Jowls Alfredo
     and Barbecued Pignolata. 

  6. You can get Linguine Tacos to go. 

  5. Music playing over the muzak system: Billy Joel’s "Scenes from
     an Entirely Bogus Italian Restaurant".

  4. The meatballs are stamped with "Top-Flite".

  3. The menu says: "Succulent roasted pork enrobed in a tasty
     polenta batter". Your plate says: "Corn dog".

  2. Their idea of "filled pastas" involves someone in the back
     squirting Cheez Whiz into macaroni. 

 ... and the #1 Sign You’re Not at an Authentic Italian Restaurant ...

  1. It’s 95% fat free.


  Applebee's Smothered Steak Skillet
  Garlic Mashed Potatoes:
    2 pounds red potatoes
    1/2 cup milk
    1/4 cup heavy cream
    3 tablespoons butter
    salt and black pepper, to taste
    1/4 cup garlic cloves

  Sauteed Onions and Mushrooms:
    1/2 pound yellow onions -- peeled, cored, and cut 1/4"
       julienne strips
    1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
    2 tablespoons butter
    Granulated garlic, to taste
    salt and black pepper, to taste

  Sirloin Steak Skillet:
    2 3/4 pounds sirloin steak, cut 8 pieces, (about 5 1/2 oz. each)
    8 slices mozzarella cheese

  For the Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Place a layer of garlic cloves
 on a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil and wrap tightly. Roast in
 400F degree preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes until soft.
 Unwrap and let cool until touchable. Peel cloves and mash with
 potatoes when they are ready.

  Wash and rinse potatoes under cold water. It's not necessary to peel
 potatoes, unless you desire. In large sauce pan (or pot), bring red
 potatoes to a slow boil for approximately 20 minutes. The exact time
 depends on the size of the potatoes used. For faster cooking, cut in
 smaller pieces. Internal temperature should be 205 degrees. Remove
 from heat and drain in colander. In pan or bowl, combine potatoes,
 peeled and roasted garlic cloves, and all other ingredients and mash
 with a potato masher. Keep warm.

  For the Sauteed Onions And Mushrooms: Melt butter in skillet over
 medium heat and add onions and seasonings. Saute and stir until
 lightly caramelized. Add sliced mushrooms and stir, as needed to
 avoid burning, until hot.

  For the Sirloin Streak Skillet: Grill steaks to desired degree of
 doneness. Melt two slices of mozzarella cheese over two shingled
 steaks for each plate. Top with Sauteed Onions And Mushrooms, and
 serve with Garlic Mashed Potatoes on the side.

      =+=-=+=-=+=-=+= Free Recipes and Cookbooks =+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=

  Classic Chicken BBQ
    2 chickens (2 1/2 to 3 pounds each), quartered, with backs removed

  Barbecue Sauce: 
    1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 large onion) 
    1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves) 
    1/2 cup vegetable oil 
    1 cup tomato paste (10 ounces) 
    1 cup cider vinegar 
    1 cup honey 
    1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce 
    1 cup Dijon mustard 
    1/2 cup soy sauce 
    1 cup hoisin sauce 
    2 tablespoons chili powder 
    1 tablespoon ground cumin 
    1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

  In a large saucepan on low heat, saute the onions and garlic with
 the vegetable oil for 10 to 15 minutes, until the onions are
 translucent but not browned. Add the tomato paste, vinegar, honey,
 Worcestershire sauce, mustard, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, chili powder,
 cumin, and red pepper flakes. Simmer uncovered on low heat for 30
 minutes. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator. 

  Marinate the chickens in 2/3 of the barbecue sauce for a few hours
 or overnight in the refrigerator.

  Heat the coals in a charcoal grill. Spread the bottom of the grill
 with a single layer of hot coals and then add a few more coals 5
 minutes before cooking, which will keep the fire going longer. Place
 the chicken quarters on the grill, skin side down, and cook for about
 45 minutes, turning once or twice to cook evenly on both sides. Brush
 with the marinade as needed. The chicken quarters are done when you
 insert a knife between a leg and thigh and the juices run clear.
 Discard any unused marinade. Serve with extra barbecue sauce on the

      =+=-=+=-=+=-=+= Free Recipes and Cookbooks =+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=

  Halibut in Butter Cream Sauce
    2 pounds halibut filet 
    salt, white pepper 
    1 1/2 tablespoons flour 
    2 tablespoons butter 
    8 ounces small fresh mushrooms 
    1/2 cup white onion, very thinly sliced 
    2 shallots, minced 
    1 small bay leaf 
    1/2 teaspoon minced garlic 
    3/4 cup dry white wine 
    3/4 cup cream 
    2 teaspoons minced parsley

  Season halibut on both sides and dust lightly with the flour. Butter
 a flat casserole generously and distribute the onions, shallots and
 garlic evenly on the bottom of the dish. Lay the fish on top and
 distribute the wine, bay leaf and mushrooms around it; dot with the
 rest of the butter. Cover and bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes, basting

  When fish is almost cooked (but not breaking-this will depend on the
 thickness of the filet), carefully set the fish on a platter and boil
 the cooking liquid down slightly for a minute or two. Add the cream
 and reduce a little more as needed to the correct consistency. Taste
 for seasoning and pour sauce over fish. Garnish with the minced
 parsley and serve with steamed potatoes.

      =+=-=+=-=+=-=+= Free Recipes and Cookbooks =+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=

  Sliced Steak with Roasted Corn Salsa
    3 cups fresh corn (about 3 ears)
    4 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced separately
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    2 plum tomatoes, finely diced
    1 to 2 fresh jalapeno chiles, finely diced (including seeds)
    1 (2-lb) trimmed boneless sirloin steak, about 1 1/2 inches thick
    1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
    lime wedges 

  Heat a dry large cast-iron skillet over moderately high heat until
 hot, then pan-roast corn, stirring occasionally, until golden brown,
 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

  Cook white part of scallions in butter with garlic, 1 teaspoon salt,
 1/2 teaspoon each cumin and chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in
 skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until scallions are tender,
 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in corn, tomatoes, and

  Prepare grill for cooking. Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt,
 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper
 and sprinkle on both sides of steak. Grill, turning once, until an
 instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into thickest part of
 meat registers 130F, 18 to 20 minutes total for medium-rare. Transfer
 steak to a grooved cutting board and let stand 5 to 10 minutes before

  While steak is standing, reheat corn mixture over moderate heat,
 stirring occasionally. Stir in cilantro and scallion greens. Spoon
 corn on top of sliced steak and pour over any accumulated juices.

      =+=-=+=-=+=-=+= Free Recipes and Cookbooks =+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=

    2 lbs. small zucchini
    1 cup rice, uncooked
    1 lb. ground lamb
    1 tablespoon melted butter
    1 teaspoon salt 
    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon allspice
    1 (16 oz.) can chopped tomatoes
    1/2 cup tomato sauce
    hot water
    salt and pepper
    3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

  Wash squash, cut off stem tips and, using corer, hollow out. Be
 careful not to break squash. Set aside. Mix rice, meat, butter and
 spices together. Stuff mixture loosely into squash - do not pack
 too tightly or the squash will burst as the rice expands during
 cooking. Arrange stuffed squash in a sauce pan. Add tomatoes,
 tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Add enough hot water to cover, bring
 to a boil, then reduce to medium low heat and cook for 25 minutes,
 until squash is tender. When almost done, sprinkle garlic over the
 squash and simmer a few minutes longer. 
      =+=-=+=-=+=-=+= Free Recipes and Cookbooks =+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=

  Funnel Cakes
    2 eggs 
    1 1/2 cups milk 
    2 cups sifted flour 
    1 teaspoon baking powder 
    1 teaspoon salt 
    2 cups vegetable oil 
    cinnamon sugar

  Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixing
 bowl, stir together the eggs and the milk. Add flour mixture to the
 egg mixture. Beat with a mixer until smooth; the consistency should
 be thin enough to run through a small kitchen funnel. Test it and if
 it is too thick beat in a little more milk; if too thin, beat in a
 bit more flour.

  In an eight inch skillet, heat the oil to 360F. Put your finger over
 the bottom opening of the funnel, and fill the funnel with a generous
 1/2 cup of the batter. Hold the funnel close to the surface of the
 oil, and release the batter into the oil while making a circular
 motion. Fry until golden brown, use tongs and wide spatula to turn
 the cake over carefully. Fry the second side 1 minute. Drain on paper
 towels, and sprinkle with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar.

      =+=-=+=-=+=-=+= Free Recipes and Cookbooks =+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=

  Frisee Salad with Gorgonzola
    1 head frisee, well washed and dried 
    4 tablespoons light olive oil 
    1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
    salt and freshly ground pepper 
    2 ounces prosciutto, julienned 
    8 dried figs, thinly sliced 
    1 pear, cut into bite-size pieces 
    3 ounces Gorgonzola, crumbled

  Cut the frisee into small pieces. Combine dressing ingredients in a
 small bowl. In a medium-size bowl, toss frisee with one-fourth of
 dressing and distribute evenly on plates. 

  To serve, mix the remaining ingredients, tossing gently with
 three-fourths of the dressing, and distribute evenly over frisee.

      =+=-=+=-=+=-=+= Free Recipes and Cookbooks =+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=

  Peach Cobbler
    4 cups peeled, sliced peaches 
    2 cups sugar, divided 
    1/2 cup water 
    8 tablespoons butter 
    1 1/2 cups flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 1/2 cups milk 
    Ground cinnamon, optional 

  Preheat oven to 350F. Combine the peaches, 1 cup sugar, and
 water in a saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer for
 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. 

  Put the butter in a 3-quart baking dish and place in oven to melt.
 Mix remaining 1 cup sugar, flour, and milk slowly to prevent
 clumping. Pour mixture over melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon fruit
 on top, gently pouring in syrup. Sprinkle top with ground cinnamon,
 if using. Batter will rise to top during baking. Bake for 30 to 45

  To serve, scoop onto a plate and serve with your choice of whipped
 cream or vanilla ice cream.


   This Week's Culinary Quiz Answer: Seawater

   "Pesce all'acqua pazza" is fish of nearly any kind simmered in
  seawater, which may be flavored with garlic, peperoncini, parsley,
  and other aromatics. The name "crazy water" derives from the fact
  that people stranded at sea without water would "go crazy" after
  drinking seawater. Home chefs who do not have access to seawater
  may use a combination of filtered or bottled water to which sea salt
  has been added to taste; just go easy on the salt!


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