Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ron’s Boffo Bok Choy

Bonjour et bonsoir, Dollinks, in whichever time zone you live! I’m still officially away, but dropped by to check the mail. Hmmm … Lemme have a look … Bill! Bill! Overdue bill! 
Um … you didn’t hear that, did you? Um … you did. Those were fan letters, Dollinks! Fan letters! That’s what they were! Um ... from someone named Bill! From many people named Bill! Yeah … that’s it! Yeah! 
Perhaps you’re wondering where I’ve been? (So you weren’t wondering! I’m darned well going to tell you anyway!) Here’s a clue involving Ron:

Any guesses …? Nooooo …? Here’s a clue involving me:

Ah so! You’ve figured it out! Ron and I have been eating in Asian restaurants! How we love Asian food! And how we love … bok choy! I really must hurry along, Dollinks (I’m still on vacation), but I do want to tell you about the most extraordinary bok choy dish Ron made this evening! I’ve named it …
Ron’s Boffo Bok Choy:
Six baby bok choy
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Steam baby bok choy 8 - 10 min. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serves 2. Magnifico! You must try it! Love and kisses to you all! Mwah! Mwah! Moi

PS: There's a rumor going around that actors Tom Hanks and his lovely wife, Rita Wilson, are major fans of this cooking blog - and I do mean MAJOR fans. Like, Tom has been hounding me for my autograph. Is this rumor true, someone asks? Um ... perhaps not. I actually started it myself, but be a Dollink and spread it, anyway.

Behold the simple magic of bok choy and balsamic!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kenneth’s Slam-Bam-Thank-You-Ma’am Blackberry Pie

Ever so briefly, Dollinks (because I’m really not “here” and am away until September 1), I’ve slipped into the kitchen to water the plants. There! Done! Before I dash, I’d like a word with the men in my reading audience. 

YO! GUYS! Come and sit across from me, here at the kitchen table. Coffee? Splash of cream? Sugar? We need to talk. Bare your souls to me, Dollinks (Gasp! I said your souls! Nothing else). Does your back go out more than you do? Do you spend Saturday nights alone, playing tic-tac-toe with the mirror? Do you send yourself text messages and emails? Even worse - do you answer them? If so, allow me these words of advice. 

Learn to bake. Women will compete for your cupcakes! They’ll go ga-ga over your cookies! And yes, they’ll also enjoy your baking. Why spend another Saturday night waxing your chest hair and clipping your toenails when you could be the life of the party? Everyone loves a baker! 
Let me tell you the true, tragic story of a Formerly Lonely Guy named Kenneth. Kenneth isn’t his real name. I’ve changed his real name to protect his privacy. His real name has only three letters. The first starts with K, and the last ends with N. Wild horses will not drag his true identity from me! We are tight-lipped, here in the kitchen headquarters of Nicole Parton’s Favorite Recipes. If you could taste some of my cooking failures, you’d understand why.
But I digress. I was telling you the true, tragic story of a Formerly Lonely Guy named Ken - er, Kenneth! Our candid camera caught him on the way to yet another vacuous, empty dinner date with an obviously unsuitable blond who’s only interested in sex - not in a real relationship with the sensitive, sincere man Kenneth is inside. Men: Don’t let this happen to you!

See the miserable look on Kenneth’s face? See those chest hairs? You’re right - he has none. His toenails are neatly trimmed, too. Quel fromage! (Or is it quel dommage? Whatever!) 
Kenneth used to be One Lonely Guy. How did he change his life? He began baking - slowly at first, a few donut holes here and there. Gradually, as his confidence grew, he began to understand that “Nothin’ spells lovin’ like somethin’ from the oven and Pillsbury does it best!” He learned to smash those danged Pillsbury biscuit cans against the kitchen counter, so he could watch the doughy buns unfurl as they all spilled out. Today, he’s a master chef - no more big-breasted, small-waisted blonds for this guy! Kenneth knows the secret of What Women Want!
Simply put, women want a man who will cook for them. And so I present Kenneth’s Slam-Bam-Thank-You-Maam Blackberry Pie! Because he learned to bake, Kenneth now has a real girlfriend who loves him for himself - not just for what he can do with a rolling pin. 

Kenneth’s Slam-Bam-Thank-You-Ma’am Blackberry Pie:
For the Crust, use the usual pie crust ingredients! (See Note)

Note: Kenneth pinched his recipe from the good folks at Tenderflake, a division of Maple Leaf Foods. That’s lard, Dollinks: L-A-R-D. Kenneth doesn’t have arteriosclerosis, and nor will you, if you have treats like this in moderation. Lard makes the best pastry, though you can also use Crisco. You’ll find both recipes online, or varieties of same in many cookbooks. Be sure to make plenty, because Kenneth’s pie is rather large.
For the Filling:
1-⅓ c. sugar
¼ c. tapioca
2 tbsp. flour
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
6 c. fresh blackberries
1 tsp. lemon juice
Egg yolk, milk, for brushing pastry top
Preheat oven to 425 deg, F. Combine sugar, tapioca, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle blackberries with lemon juice, tossing lightly. Add dry ingredients, continuing to toss lightly until well mixed. Gently transfer to 10-inch pie dish lined with pastry. Roll out additional pastry to make top crust. Gently place over berries, trimming edges to fit. 
(Kenneth likes to flute the edges with his tiny little hands. Because his pants were falling down in both photos, he borrowed an elastic band to secure them. Ron says guys’ pants always fall down when they stand near a beautiful lady. Having just given myself a home perm, I wouldn't know. I look like Diana Ross on a bad hair day.)
Make several small slashes in top crust, allowing steam to escape. If desired, you can trim some of the leftover rolled-out pastry to form leaves and vines, laying these over the top crust (Kenneth doesn’t bother. He’s always anxious to get his pie in the oven). 
Brush or dab top crust lightly with egg yolk combined and thinned with a little milk. Bake pie 10 min. Immediately reduce oven heat to 400 deg. F., baking an additional 45 min. When pie browns around the edges, place strips of aluminum foil over the browned parts to prevent them from burning as the center of the pie becomes a pleasing golden brown. Serve chilled, so each slice cuts evenly and looks attractive on the plate.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Nicole’s Stuffed Mushrooms

Don’t pay any attention to me, Dollinks! I’ve just popped in to check the mail and do a bit of dusting. For all practical purposes, I remain AWOL and otherwise occupied with two big projects. Our pal, Melvino the Grape One, dropped in for dinner the other day. Mel is a mensch of the highest order. We are privileged to call him our friend. I’ll be quick about this, because my projects are calling my name: “Nicole … ! Nicole … ! Open the do-o-or, Nicole!” Whoops! Those are bill collectors! They can wait.
I was very busy when Mel dropped in, so Ron did the cooking while I cobbled together a fast appetizer. Melvino the Grape One swooned over the dish I made. He declared himself in love. He said it was so good that he’d gladly become a vegetarian, with food like that! I’ll share my recipe with you. Chances are, you already make this yourself, but possibly not. It truly is easy and quick! The measurements and ingredients are approximate, varying with the size of the mushrooms and with whatever happens to be in the cupboard on any given day. Omitting the bacon bits and adding crab meat takes this to another level altogether. 
Mouth to Mushroom: Come In, Please!
Melvino the Grape One loves food. Like me, he’s always battling girth control. We exchanged diet tips during his visit. His: Larger shirts. Mine: Vertical stripes. See you in September, Dollinks!

Nicole’s Stuffed Mushrooms:
16 large mushrooms, stemmed (see Note)
½ c. cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp. green onions, finely chopped
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. bacon bits (I use non-meat artificial bacon bits for this recipe)
Dash each of salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat toaster oven or regular oven to 350 deg. F. Place stemmed mushrooms on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. In small bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Divide mixture among mushroom caps, heaping loosely. Bake 15 min., or until mushroom caps are browned at the edges. Serve piping hot. Serves 4 - or one Melvino.
Note: Use a grapefruit knife to stem those mushrooms and you’ll never have a breakage!

Further Note: Save and freeze mushroom stems to add to soups, casseroles, or any savory creamed dish. 

Mmmm ... Melt-in-your-mouth mushroom morsels!

Our taste-testing panel approves!