Saturday, February 13, 2016

Dishwasher-Poached Salmon

Even though this recipe is easy and delicious and a novelty that comes highly acclaimed, don’t even think about poaching salmon or any other fish this way - especially if you live in drought-ravaged California, Arizona, Australia, or any other place where water is scarce. 

But you, lucky duck! You with the teensy dishwasher perched on the kitchen countertop! Yeah, you! You who have lusted after one of those deluxe dishwashers, all of them ultra-silent with full-load-capacity, energy-saving features, stainless-steel interiors, and la-de-dah, built-in, under-the-counter features!


Even if your teensy Toys R Us dishwasher grinds more than a Vegas stripper, be happy with what you have, for only you can make this perfectly idiotic recipe with aplomb.*

But I digress.

Although yours may be an embarrassingly teensy dishwasher, resist the urge to show it to us lest you end up in the slammer. Small as your dishwasher is, you can still have a lot of fun with it. This moronic recipe will allow you the bragging rights to Dishwasher Poached Salmon. If you’d rather not poach this fish, I suggest you pay for it.

This recipe’s stupid instructions use a ridiculous amount of water, which is why Californians et al. shouldn’t even try to prepare it. See Compensation For Your Lost Bragging Rights NoteSo here’s the imbecilic, doltish, environmentally irresponsible but otherwise tasty recipe for …

Dishwasher-Poached Salmon:

One whole, fresh salmon, about 2 lb. (1 kg), head-on, gutted, boned, and scaled (see Ewwwww! Note)
Salt, pepper, dill, parsley, to taste
1 medium carrot, sliced in rounds
1 medium onion, diced
2 tbsp. (30 mL) diced celery
Juice of one lemon
2 c. (500 mL) dry white wine, divided (see Sobriety Note)
Sour cream, Hollandaise Sauce, or aplomb,* on the side

Run teensy dishwasher (with no soap or dishes) on wash cycle to eliminate soapy residue. While machine runs (for its life), place salmon or similarly proportioned fish (not gefilte) onto double layer of heavy-duty foil large enough to over-wrap fish. Season cavity with salt, pepper, dill, and parsley. Spread combined carrot, onion, and celery in cavity. Sprinkle with lemon juice and 1 c. (250 mL) of the wine. 

Double-wrap fish in foil, leaving small airspace so fish will steam in hot liquid. Double-fold foil to ensure water-tight seal. 

When dishwasher completes wash cycle, carefully place foil-wrapped fish on top shelf (or, with teensy machines, on any shelf), positioning to avoid tearing foil. Run dishwasher for two further wash cycles - no drying, Dollinks. Fish is done when flesh flakes with a fork and juices run milky. Serves 4.

Compensation For Your Lost Bragging Rights Note: Strap a chunk of beef to your carbuncle (or whatever the hot part of your engine is called), drive to Colorado and back, and invite the neighbors for roast beef dinner. (If you actually live in Colorado, drive to San Francisco and back). Yum, yum! Pass the horseradish, honey!

Ewwwww! Note: I lost you at “gutted?” Honestly, Dollinks, it’s for the best.

Sobriety Note: Drink half the wine. Use the rest in this recipe.

* Aplomb is a costly British seafood sauce enjoyed by the Royal Family and Donald J. Trump. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Mexican Fiesta Feast

Now pay attention because I’m old and grouchy and my favorite TV show starts in 10 minutes. So here’s what I made last night:

Mexican Fiesta Feast 

And here’s how I made it. But first ... The back story for this recipe:

• Invented out of desperation. 
• Found leftover hard tacos in cupboard.
• Not much else on hand. 
• Wanted to use can of refried beans before use-by date.
• No better ideas.

And so I threw this dish together. It was great! I’d love to say that the whole family went nuts over this, pleading: Wow, Mom! I want more!” but I’d be lying. Since our fish Frankie met his Maker (see Sad Funereal Note), Ron and I have been rattling around the house alone. 

The truth is, Ron doesnt call me ‘Mom.’ If he did, hed soon regret the error of his ways. We’re also not quite alone ... Our bodyguards and the Anonymous Taste-Testing Panel are here to keep us company and open the mountains of fan mail (a job that was formerly Frankie’s)As regular readers know, the panel gives each recipe a thumbs up or thumbs down. Really bad recipes get the finger. That aside, my bodyguard would pummel Rons bodyguard if Ron ever called me ‘Mom.’ 

Anonymous Taste-Testing Panel 

Mexican Fiesta Feast:

3-to-6 hard tacos
One 14-oz. (398 mL) can tomato sauce 
Few drops chipotle sauce, as desired
One 14-oz. (398 mL) can refried beans
Canned or bottled jalapēno peppers, as needed
1/4 lb. (125 g) ground beef, as needed 
1 small onion, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 c. (125 mL) cheddar or jack cheese, grated
Sour cream, for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 deg. F.  In large, shallow, oven-proof dish, coat tacos with tomato sauce. Set aside until tacos soften, about 40 min. Gently break up tacos, being careful not to mash (see Who Cares? Note). Sprinkle with chipotle sauce and dot with refried beans, spreading beans evenly over taco mixture. Scramble-fry beef with onions, seasoning to taste. Spoon beef over beans. Heap with grated cheese, as desired (see Knuckle-Rap Note). Bake 35-to-40 min., or until cheese melts and mixture is heated through. Top with sour cream as desired. Serves 2.

Note: I served this dish with white rice. I felt too tired and too lazy to do anything special with the rice and Ron knew I’d bean him if he complained (I told you I was grouchy!). If you want to do something out of the ordinary, try my quick-and-easy recipe for Spanish Rice. It’s indexed under “Spanish” and also under “Side Dish: Rice”.

Who Cares? Note: I sure don’t. Mash the tacos, if you want. I had to say “being careful not to mash ...” because it’s typical “recipe-ese,” and someone could be reading. Like you. And me. And Ron, of course, who never knows when there’s going to be a test.

Knuckle-Rap Note: Take it easy on the cheese, will ya? What you do is what you do, but 1/2 c. (125 mL) of grated aged cheddar contains 220 calories. 

Sad Funereal Note: Frankie can’t be replaced, so don’t try mailing me any lonely, orphaned fishes because I’ll only send them back. To read about Frankie’s exciting little life and his brief career as a mobster, see the Index under “Frankie.”  

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Dinner Party Series: A Casual Brunch

If youre new to this blog, check out my Dinner Party Series in the Index. Every now and then, I remember to take photos of our efforts in the kitchen as we entertain. This simple brunch of French toast and fruit highlights how color can perk up any table.

So wheres the French toast? With a houseful of guests over the holiday season, I wasnt about to photograph it or the juice, the bacon, the sausages, or the steaming cups of tea and coffee (Would you pause just a second and smile as you pretend to eat that bacon? Whoops! No flash! Lets try that shot again ...”) And again ... and again ... and again. 

If youve never made gourmet French toast, youll find three new takes on this old favorite at: 

If all you want is the basic yum!, check this super-simple recipe at: 

or try the easy French Christmas Croissants I made a couple of weeks ago: 

As for color? Never be afraid to use it - and use it liberally! Keep it in mind as you cook and serve, and everything will taste better than it already does.

Sitting at the kitchen table lends a casual feeling.

This couldn't be faster: Section 1/2 an orange
per person, layering with fresh berries. 

A tiny table needs a tiny centerpiece. These
snippets of red kalanchoe blooms were ideal!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Caramel Sauce

Talk about yummy! Served warm, this easy sauce is a great topper for cake, ice cream, apple pies, poached pears, or anything you fancy! Make it in advance, warming it just before you need it.

Caramel Sauce:

6 tbsp. (90 mL) butter
1 c. (250 mL) brown sugar
1/2 c. (125 mL) heavy cream

In small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add sugar, stirring until completely dissolved. Whisk in cream, stirring constantly until mixture is silky smooth and a warm golden color.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Canned Salmon Quiche

Heres an interesting dinner! I made this Canned Salmon Quiche over a couple of days. After preparing and baking the crust, I wrapped and froze it for another time. A few days later, I made the easy filling, dumped it into the crust, and baked the whole thing at a moderate temperature. 

Canned Salmon Quiche ... Easy and delicious!

This is a great little recipe to keep in your back pocket. To make this as a main course, use the wholewheat crust recipe below or use leftover pie pastry. For a tasty appetizer, buy frozen tart shells at the  supermarket, adjusting the baking time for the crust in this recipe as your experience directs. If it’s tarts you’ll be making, keep an eye on the salmon filling, checking it after 15-to-20 min. 

Canned Salmon Quiche:

To Prepare the Wholewheat Crust:

1 c. (250 mL) wholewheat flour
2/3 c. (160 mL) grated cheddar
1/4 c. (60 mL) chopped toasted almonds or walnuts
Dash salt
1/4 tsp. (1.25 mL) paprika
2/3 c. (160 mL) canola oil

Preheat oven to 400 deg. F. Set 9-in. (23 cm) quiche dish (see Note) to one side. In medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients until well combined. Stir in oil, doing final mixing with fingers so oil is well distributed. Press evenly into quiche dish. Taking time and care with this step will make your quiche look good and cut well.

Taking time with the crust will improve your results!
Note: If, like me, you dont have a quiche dish this size, increase or reduce this recipe as your instincts direct. Think of this and most other recipes as a guide - not as something to follow slavishly! I have both a small quiche dish and a very large one. Using my small dish for this recipe, I reduced the proportion of everything except the salmon. Wing it, Dollinks!

To Prepare the Filling:

One - 7-1/2 oz. (213 g) can salmon with juice
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. (125 mL) sour cream
1/2 c. (125 mL) plain yogurt
1/4 c. (60 mL) mayonnaise
1/2 c. (125 mL) grated cheddar
1 small green onion (“spring onion”), chopped 
1/4 tsp. (1 mL) dill weed
3 or 4 drops hot pepper sauce

Preheat oven to 325 deg. F. Drain salmon, reserving juice. Flake salmon with fork and set aside. Combine eggs, sour cream, yogurt, mayonnaise, and salmon liquid. In separate bowl, mix together flaked salmon, cheese, onion, dill, and hot pepper sauce. Stir in liquid ingredients. Turn into baked, cooled pastry shell. Bake 50-to-55 min. for 9-in. (23 cm) quiche dish, and about 40 min. for the 7-in. (18 cm) dish I used. My dish is small enough that I baked this quiche in the toaster oven. Quiche will be slightly liquid at the center. Cover loosely and let rest 10 min. Serves 4.

Further Note: If you make this quiche in advance, fill the baked crust with the unbaked filling just before needed.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Squash Tea Cake

Squash Tea Cake
It stared at me from the back of the fridge. I stared back, feeling ever more guilty as each day passed. Leftover squash! What to do with it? Use it in soup? Nah ... Done that too many times. Use it in pie? Always a good idea, but I didn’t have enough of it. Use it to ... Yes! I’d use it to prepare Squash Tea Cake!

I love this easy recipe! When I didn’t have quite enough leftover squash, I added an avocado. The result was delicious. Made from any kind of squash, this sweet tea bread is ideal for serving drop-in visitors. An added bonus: It also freezes well (see Note).

Squash Tea Cake:

1 c. (250 mL) granulated sugar

1/2 c. (125 mL) brown sugar
1 c. (250 mL) mashed, cooked squash (see Further Note)
1/2 c. (125 mL) canola oil
2 eggs
1/4 c. (60 mL) cold water
2 c. (500 mL) all-purpose flour  (see Head-Scratching Note)
1 tsp. (5 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp. (2.5 mL) salt
1/2 tsp. (2.5 mL) nutmeg
1/2 tsp. (2.5 mL) cinnamon
1/4 tsp. (1.25 mL) ginger
1 c. raisins (125 mL), plumped (see Huh? Note)
1/2 c. chopped, toasted pecans (see Yet Another Note)

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. In mixing bowl, combine granulated and brown sugars, cooked squash, oil, and eggs. Beat until well blended. Add and stir in water. Combine together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add to squash mixture, combining well. Stir in raisins and pecans. 

Spoon batter into spray-greased and floured 9x5x3 in. (23x13x6 cm) loaf pan. Turn batter into pan, baking 60-to-75 min., until skewer poked into center comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack. Remove from pan after 15 min., continuing to cool on rack. Wrap loosely overnight, slicing one day after baking.

Note: When this tea bread is fully cool and firm, slice it into serving-sized pieces, separating each slice with a piece of parchment paper. Freeze in an air-tight container. Separating and thawing each slice will then be very quick.

Further Note: With only 2/3 c. (160 mL) squash, I added 1/3 c. (80 mL) mashed avocado.

Head-Scratching Note: I recently promised to deliver recipes in  metric and Imperial measurements. But heres where things get complicated. Strictly speaking, foods such as flour and sugar should be measured by weight, rather than volume. This blog hails from North America, where it’s rare to weigh such items. This is why I’ve expressed 1 c. all-purpose flour or sugar, for example, as 250 mL rather than 120 g. It’s far easier for us cooks to rely on a measuring cup than a weigh scale, even though weighing ingredients (as professional chefs do) is a more accurate measurement. To read more about increasing your chance of successful cooking, see my 2011 blog titled How to Measure Ingredients Accurately:

Huh? Note: To plump 1 c. raisins, add 2 tbsp. water to raisins in covered microwave-safe container, heating 30-to-60 sec. on full power. Cover container with cello wrap, slightly turning back one corner to allow steam to escape.

Yet Another Note: To toast nuts, spread small baking sheet, heating at 350 deg. F. about 10 min. Chopped nuts toast more quickly than whole ones. A toaster oven works very well for this small job.

You cant help but love this simple Squash Tea Cake!
Ready for the freezer, with parchment separations.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Tara McPherson’s Delightfully Decadent Chicken

I met Tara McPherson after our big house move from Eh? to Be (or Not to Be … For awhile, I had cold feet about this wacky idea of moving). A few days after landing in our new home, Ron opened the front door to find a rabbit nonchalantly chewing the grass. The pickings were probably slim because the deer got there first. We love living in the country, but occasionally miss the city’s decadence. This chicken recipe makes up for it. 

Tara McPherson’s Delightfully Decadent Chicken:

Chicken breasts, as needed
Beer, as needed
More beer, as desired
Herbs and spices, as desired (see Note)

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Place breasts (ensure they’re the chicken’s - not yours) in lightly greased casserole dish. Pour beer at least halfway up breasts (same advice), unless you’re Tara’s husband, Geoff, who drinks some of beer in his role as quality control tester. Dust breasts (ditto) with herbs and spices. Cover and bake 35-to-60 min. (see Timing Note). Eat dinner. Lick fingers. Lick plate. 

Note: Tara seasons her chicken with tarragon, sage, rosemary and sea salt, so I did the same. 

Timing Note: I used a 12-oz. (355 mL) can of beer to cover four chicken breasts about 2/3 up. (I divided these breasts between two small casseroles, so I could freeze one for another day). Because using extra beer affects the cooking time, I let my/the chicken’s breasts cook about 1 hr., until they were fully poached and cooked right through. 

Lick-Lick-Lick Note: As Tara promised, this chicken is delicious!

I divided my chicken breasts between two small casseroles.

The chicken in each casserole got 1/2 can of beer.

After adding the herbs Tara recommends, I covered
both casseroles, tucking them into the oven at 350 deg. F.

And here’s the finished result! 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

French Christmas Croissants

Ai-eeeee! A Christmas morning brunch recipe I can blog without actually doing any work! And … A Christmas morning brunch recipe you can make without actually doing any work! What could be simpler? Here we go, Dollinks!

French Christmas Croissants:

Croissants, as needed, allowing 2 per person
Eggs, as needed, allowing 1 egg for every 2 or 3 croissants
Splash of milk or light cream
Splash of vanilla, as desired 
Cinnamon-Sugar, as desired (see Note)
Dusting of icing sugar (“powdered” sugar), as desired
Maple syrup, as desired

Preheat spray-greased electric griddle to 350 deg. F. or heat spray-greased large skillet to medium high on stove-top. Slice each Croissant in half, lengthwise. Set aside. Using a whisk, beat eggs with a little milk or cream, vanilla, and Cinnamon-SugarDip each cut end in egg mixture. Up-end onto griddle or skillet just until egg mixture sets, about 45 sec. Plate Croissants, dusting with sieved icing sugar. Serve with maple or other syrup.

Note: To make Cinnamon-Sugarcombine 2 tsp. granulated sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon, mixing well. If you want to get really fancy, serve these Croissants with bacon, sausages, and fresh fruit. Ooo-la-la! 

Using a fork, whisk together eggs and milk.

Halve Croissant lengthwise. 

Dip cut ends in egg.

Cook on the egg-dipped side as you would French toast.

These Croissants appear to be spooning. Next? Forking.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Spirits Martini

My husband Ron invented this drink only moments ago! I’m blogging it because: 
The glass is titled because I could mot hold it
stairght... srtarigth ... STRAIGHT.

(1) It’s easy and delicious 
(2) Ron has already taken a photo of the finished product 
(3) I can remember the ingredient proportions even though I’m blitzed 
(4) I can take credit for this drink despite having nothing to do with its creation.

Christmas Spirits Martini:

3 oz. (90 mL) vodka, chilled 
1/2 oz. (15 mL) orange-flavored liqueur, chilled (Ron insists Grand Marnier is the best choice for this recipe) 
Cranberry juice, as required to top up 2 glasses

Chill glasses in freezer. Combine all ingredients in a martini shaker. Shake-shake-shake, discarding ice. Serves 2.

Note to Karin, who wrote the comment below: Ron originally made this superb drink to serve lil ol me. I had a single drink and passed out. (And yes, I did indeed post this recipe at 6 a.m. If our chandelier weren’t so poorly bolted to the ceiling, I’d swing from it). So - with the addition of more cranberry juice - this great recipe now serves 2! 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Barley and Vegetable Soup

Barley soup is just about the cheapest soup you can make, especially if it’s meatless. Not thickened with cream or flour, it’s a calorie-wise choice. Even better, this soup is loaded with veggies and is made with vegetable broth, making it ideal for vegetarians. What’s not to like? Barley, you say? Get over it!

Barley and Vegetable Soup:

3/4 c. (180 mL) pearl barley

11 c. (2.6 L) vegetable stock, divided
2 tbsp. (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 c. (350 mL) chopped onion
1 c. (250 mL) chopped carrots
1/2 c. (125 mL) chopped celery
1 c. (250 mL) thinly sliced mushrooms
Dash salt
1/4 tsp. (1.25 mL) dried parsley flakes 
Gravy darkener, if desired (I didn’t desire, preferring my soup au naturel)

Rinse barley under cold, running water. In large, heavy saucepan, bring 3 c. (750 mL) of the vegetable stock to a boil. Stir in barley. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 1 hr. or until liquid is absorbed. Check frequently in final minutes to ensure barley does not boil dry or burn.

In another large, heavy saucepan, heat olive oil on medium-high. Add onion, carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Cover and cook 5 min. or until veggies start to soften. Add remaining vegetable stock. Simmer, covered, 30 min. longer. Stir in barley and parsley flakes, simmering a further 5 min. Serves 6.

Add barley to vegetable stock in large, heavy saucepan.

Chop onions and other vegetables.

Cook in olive oil 5 min., until veggies start to soften.

Ready when you are!