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Volume 16   Number 6        No. 5    No. 4    No. 3    No. 2   No. 1

  THIS WEEK'S FEATURES AND RECIPES:

  >  Article: Make It Snappy, and the Richer, the Better

  >  Food Funnies: Proposed New Food Holidays

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

    * McDonald's Chicken Sandwich
       
    * Filet Mignon with Green Peppercorn Cream Sauce
       
    * Tomato-Herb Chicken
       
    * Orange Baked Ham
       
    * Smoked Salmon Pizza
       
    * Baked Macaroni and Cheese
       
    * Cold Cure Soup
       
    * Bread and Butter Pudding

     Healthy Eating:

    Low Carb: Frozen Peppermint Patties

    Diabetic: Sesame Chicken Salad

    Low Fat: Rocky Road Fudge Bars

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  This Week's Cooking Tips

  Leftover Food Tips:

 * Cool leftover French toast, then freeze it in single layers. Store
   in self-sealing plastic bags. Pop in your toaster to reheat. 

 * Combine leftover mashed potatoes with chopped onion and shredded
   cheese, then bake. Tastes like twice-baked potatoes with less work! 

 * Leftover spaghetti noodles? Add diced raw vegetables and enough
   bottled Italian dressing to coat for an easy and refreshing salad.

 * Form balls of leftover mashed potatoes around cubes of cheese, roll
   in Parmesan cheese or crumbs and broil until golden brown.

 * To heat leftover tortillas, grease a skillet lightly with oil and
   place over medium heat. Dip tortillas in water and quickly
   steam-saute them on both sides. More Cooking Tips

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

   This popular summer salad originates from the Tuscany and Umbria
  regions of Italy. It is a bread salad, sometimes called the
  "leftover" salad. What is its correct name?

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  Quote of the Week:

     On Chinese food and Chopsticks: "You do not sew with a fork,
    and I see no reason why you should eat with knitting needles."

    - Miss Piggy, "Miss Piggy's Guide to Life" (1981)

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    UPCOMING FOOD HOLIDAYS:

        February is: Berry Fresh in the Sunshine State Month 
                     National Snack Food Month 
                     Canned Food Month 
                     North Carolina Sweet Potato Month 
                     Great American Pies Month 
                     National Grapefruit Month 
                     National Cherry Month 
                     National Potato Month 
                     Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month

           February 6 - National Frozen Yogurt Day
           February 7 - National Fettucine Alfredo Day
           February 8 - National Molasses Bar Day 
           February 9 - National Bagels and Lox Day 
           February 10 - National Cream Cheese Brownie Day 
           February 11 - National Peppermint Patty Day 
           February 12 - National Plum Pudding Day 
           February 13 - National Tortini Day 

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  Make It Snappy, and the Richer, the Better
   by Mark Bittman

  If you think of crackers as little bits of pie crust, or fast-
 cooking bread, you quickly comprehend why they’re so easy to make.
 Which only makes it more befuddling that no one does, since packaged
 crackers are universally overpriced and often contain ingredients
 with which you’d never cook, starting with artificial ones and
 continuing with dough "conditioners" and preservatives.

  Crackers can be made with just flour and water (as in water
 crackers, or matzo), but like almost everything else, they’re better
 with richer ingredients. These, typically, are butter, oil, and milk
 or cheese or both, along with flavorings like seeds, herbs and
 spices. I like a simple, flakey, buttery cracker, often with cheese.
 This could stem from my childhood addiction to Cheez-Its. 

  This is basically pastry dough rolled out thinly. But it’s easier
 in a way, because while you want to keep a pie crust tender, and
 therefore work the dough as little as possible, here you can beat
 it up a bit. You’re going for a substantial bite, and developing the
 gluten - the protein in the wheat - will help you get that. Even
 if you have to roll the dough out more than once, even if you roll
 it thrice, the crackers will only become flakier. 

  Once you get the hang of it, which will take exactly one try, play
 around. You might skip the cheese and add freshly chopped rosemary
 or thyme to the dough. Swapping pepper for salt as a topping makes
 a difference. Or top with minced garlic or onion, sesame or poppy
 seeds, or whatever is on your favorite commercial cracker. In every
 case, you are going to make it better.

  Parmesan Cream Crackers

    1 cup all-purpose flour, more as needed
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1/4 cup cream or half-and-half, more as needed
    Coarse salt, pepper, sesame or poppy seeds, minced garlic or
      whatever you like for sprinkling (optional)

 1. Heat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or
    lightly dust with flour. Put flour, salt, cheese and butter in
    bowl of a food processor. Pulse until flour and butter are
    combined. Add about 1/4 cup cream or half-and-half and let
    machine run for a bit; continue to add liquid a teaspoon at a
    time, until mixture holds together but is not sticky.

 2. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until 1/2-inch thick
    or even thinner, adding flour as needed. Transfer sheet of dough
    to prepared baking sheet (drape it over rolling pin to make it
    easier). Score lightly with a sharp knife, pizza cutter or a
    pastry wheel if you want to break crackers into squares or
    rectangles later on. Sprinkle with salt or other toppings. 

 3. Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool on a rack;
    serve warm or at room temperature or store in a tin.

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  THE E-COOKBOOKS LIBRARY

             ALL YOU NEED TO COOK IT RIGHT!

   Discover The #1 Cookbook Collection In The World!

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  FOOD FUNNIES: Proposed New Food Holidays 

 9. January 2: Return to Eating Fast Food Day

 8. February 3: Groundhog Stew Day

 7. (Seven Wednesdays before Easter): Hash Wednesday

 6. July 25: Airline/Hospital Meal Exchange Day

 5. April 13, 2009 (the Monday after Easter): National Find-Every-
    Recipe-That-Uses-Hard-Boiled-Eggs-That-You-Can Day

 4. March 21 and September 21: Zero Calorie/Zero Carb Equinoxes

 3. November 1: National Sugar Coma Day

 2. February 15: Eating Crow Day (observed by forgetful men only)

     ... and the #1 Proposed New Food Holiday ...

 1. March 2: Barbecue Anything Day (aka Texas Independence Day)

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  McDonald's Chicken Sandwich
  ========================
    1 egg
    1 cup water
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup Golden Dipt tempura mix
    2 Tablespoons yellow corn meal
    2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    1/2 teaspoon msg (Accent)
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
    4 chicken breast filets
    4 sesame seed hamburger buns
    1 cup chopped iceberg lettuce
    4 tomato slices

  McChicken Sauce:

    1/4 cup Kraft mayonnaise
    1/16 teaspoon onion powder

  Stir together well, refrigerate until needed.

  Beat the egg and then combine it with 1 cup water in a small shallow
 bowl. Stir. Combine the flour, tempura mix, salt, msg, pepper, onion
 powder and garlic powder in a one gallon size zip lock bag.

  Pound each of the breast filets with a mallet until about 1/4-inch
 thick. Trim each breast filet until it is round. Coat each filet with
 the flour mixture by shaking in the zip lock bag. Remove and dredge
 each filet in the egg mixture, coating well. Then return each filet
 to the flour/seasoning mixture. Shake to coat. Put filets, bag and all,
 in the freezer for at least an hour. Cover and refrigerate remaining
 egg mixture.

  After freezing, repeat the flouring process. Get fryer ready.
 Deep fry the chicken filets at 375F for 10-12 minutes or until light
 brown and crispy. While the chicken is frying, toast 1 sesame seed bun
 and place sauce on top bun. Follow that with 1/4 cup freshly chopped
 iceberg lettuce and tomato slices. Then top with the cooked chicken
 patty, and the bottom of the bun (it will be upside-down).

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  Filet Mignon with Green Peppercorn Cream Sauce
  =======================================
    1 3/4 cups beef stock or canned beef broth 
    3 tablespoons butter 
    4 (6 to 8 ounce) filet mignon steaks (each about 1 inch thick) 
    1/4 cup chopped shallots 
    1 cup whipping cream 
    3 tablespoons Cognac or brandy 
    2 tablespoons drained green peppercorns in brine 

  Boil stock in small saucepan until reduced to 3/4 cup, about seven
 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter in large skillet over medium-high
 heat. Season steaks with salt and pepper. Cook steaks to desired
 doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks
 to plate (do not clean skillet). 

  Add chopped shallots to same skillet and saute 2 minutes. Remove
 from heat. Add reduced beef stock, 1 cup whipping cream, 3 tablespoons
 Cognac and green peppercorns. Boil until mixture thickens to sauce
 consistency, about 6 minutes. Season sauce to taste with pepper.
 Spoon sauce over steaks and serve.

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  Tomato-Herb Chicken
  =================
    2 tablespoons olive oil 
    6 chicken thighs, skinless 
    1 teaspoons salt 
    1/2 teaspoons pepper 
    1 medium onion, sliced 
    1 cup chicken stock 
    1/2 cup white wine 
    1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in thick puree 
    1 teaspoon dried thyme 
    1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary 
    1 tablespoon lemon-pepper 
    Hot buttered rice 
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

  Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Pat chicken
 dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Brown the
 chicken turning once, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a
 plate to reserve. 

  Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan. Add onion to the
 pan and saute until tender, roughly 3 minutes. Add the stock and wine
 and stir, scrapping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Turn
 heat to high and reduce by half, about 3 minutes. Pour in the crushed
 tomatoes and add the dried herbs and lemon pepper. Add the chicken
 thighs back in. Cover and cook on medium low for 40 minutes. 

  Remove chicken from liquid and serve on hot buttered rice. Ladle the
 sauce on top and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

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  Orange Baked Ham
  ================
    1 (14 to 16-pound) fully cooked, spiral-cut smoked ham on the bone 
    6 garlic cloves 
    8 1/2 ounces orange marmalade 
    1/2 cup Dijon mustard 
    1 cup light brown sugar, packed 
    1 orange, zested 
    1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 

  Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the ham in a heavy roasting pan.
 Mince the garlic in a food processor fitted with the steel blade.
 Add the marmalade, mustard, brown sugar, orange zest, and orange
 juice and process until smooth. Pour the glaze over the ham and bake
 for 1 hour, until the ham is fully heated and the glaze is well
 browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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  Smoked Salmon Pizza
  ==================
    8 ounces prepared pizza dough 
    1 tablespoon olive oil 
    1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion 
    1/2 cup Dill Cream 
    6 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon

  Dill Cream:
    1/2 cup sour cream 
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill 
    1 tablespoon chopped red onion 
    1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 

  Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.

  Preheat the oven to 500F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the
 dough out into a 10-inch round. Transfer dough to a rimless baking
 sheet; brush with olive oil. Scatter sliced onion over the top. Bake
 until crust is golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes. 

  Spread the Dill Cream over the top to within an inch of the edge.
 Arrange the salmon to cover the surface entirely. Use a pizza wheel
 to slice into 6 pieces.

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  Baked Macaroni and Cheese
  =======================
    1/2 pound elbow macaroni 
    3 tablespoons butter 
    3 tablespoons flour 
    1 tablespoon powdered mustard 
    3 cups milk 
    1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced 
    1 bay leaf 
    1/2 teaspoon paprika 
    1 large egg 
    12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded 
    1 teaspoon kosher salt 
    Fresh black pepper

  Topping:
    3 tablespoons butter 
    1 cup panko bread crumbs 

  Preheat oven to 350F. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook
 the pasta to al dente. While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot,
 melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving
 for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the
 milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove
 the bay leaf. 

  Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and
 pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart
 casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese. 

  Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat.
 Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove
 from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

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  Cold Cure Soup
  =============
    3 pounds chicken wings 
    1 carrot, peeled and halved 
    1 onion, peeled and halved 
    1 cinnamon stick 
    1 3-inch knob of ginger, peeled 
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
    Zest (in strips) and juice of 1 Seville orange (about 1/4 cup) 
    Chopped cilantro, for garnish 
    1 small red chili pepper, seeded and cut into fine rings, 
       for garnish.

  In a large saucepan, combine chicken, carrot, onion, cinnamon, 
 ginger and salt. Add 3 quarts water, orange zest and juice. Place 
 over high heat, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer, 
 uncovered, until liquid has reduced to about half and chicken flavor 
 is strong, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

  Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, and discard solids. 
 Allow broth to cool, then refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, 
 remove layer of solidified fat from surface, and wipe surface of 
 congealed soup with a paper towel to remove traces of grease. Soup 
 may be covered and refrigerated for up to three days.

  To serve, warm soup, ladle into mugs or bowls, and garnish.

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  Bread and Butter Pudding
  ====================
    1 baguette 
    1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter 
    1 cup whole milk 
    1 3/4 cups heavy cream 
    4 large eggs 
    3/4 cup sugar 
    1 teaspoon vanilla 

  Cut enough baguette into 1-inch cubes to measure 4 cups and in a
 shallow baking pan toast bread in middle ofoven until crisp but not
 golden, about 5 minutes. Melt butter and in an 8-inch square baking
 pan toss with bread. 

  In a bowl whisk together milk, cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and a
 pinch salt and pour over bread, stirring to coat. Chill pudding,
 covered, 1 hour. 

  Preheat oven to 350F. Bake pudding in middle of oven until just set
 but still trembles slightly, about 50 minutes. Serve pudding warm or
 at room temperature.

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     This Week's Culinary Quiz Answer: Panzanella

   These days, the base of this simple salad is tomatoes and stale
  bread. This is complimented by basil with olive oil and vinegar.
  Any array of fresh garden vegetables can then be added to this.
  I've used the term "these days" in respect to tomatoes being used
  in the recipe. The reason for this is that the salad is an Italian
  salad and was described in a poem by Bronzino that dates back to
  the early sixteenth century. There is argument as to whether or not
  tomatoes had been introduced to Italy at that point in time.

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