Monday, November 30, 2009

Supermarket Chicken Continues to be Gross.

From Consumer Reports: A test by Consumer Reports found that 2/3 of whole broilers bought at stores nationwide harbored salmonella and/or campylobacter, the leading bacterial causes of food-borne disease. To be safe, chicken must be cooked to at least 165° F. Do not allow raw chicken or its juices to touch any other food. Read the full report here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

NPR's Top 10 Cookbooks for 2009

Note: This post first appeared at Something Good to Read.

One thing I love about this time of year is the publication of various "10 best of 2009" lists. NPR recently published it's 10 best cookbooks of 2009. Some of these books look intriguing; some, not so much.

Included on the NPR list is Gourmet Today, from the folks at the now defunct Gourmet Magazine. The book is described as "a good go-to reference for basic matters of technique, like making fresh pasta or how to make a roux." Can the market absorb another giant-sized (1024 pages) cookbook such as this? I'm doubtful. And frankly, if there is room on your shelf for such a monster, consider instead picking up either Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, published in 2008, or his 2007 book, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Both books are excellent.

Three books on NPR's list that did catch my eye are Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every, Savory Baking, and Clean Food. According to the book's description, Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source with More Than 200 Recipes for a Healthy and Sustainable You focuses on eating "seasonal, unprocessed, and locally-grown foods that are good for us and the environment." These are worthy goals and a new book on this topic might indeed deserve some of our precious shelf space.

Artisan Breads Every Day
sounds appealing both because Peter Reinhart really knows bread and because I'm addicted to baking it. There is nothing like having everyone in the house crowd into the kitchen to wolf down warm, freshly baked bread with butter. If you are thinking about resolutions for 2010, consider adding 'bake more bread' to the list; it's not hard to do. Currently I'm working testing recipes from Jim Lahey's My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method. I'll add Peter Reinhart's book on my to-review list.

Finally, I will check out Savory Baking because while baking sugary treats is fine on occasion, it is more interesting to use herbs, nuts, mushrooms, and cheese. This book promises new recipes to do just that.

So much to read (and eat); so little time. Top 10 lists aren't perfect, but they do assist in separating the wheat from the chaff. As I find more top ten lists for 2009, I'll post about them here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

World's Best Meatballs and Sauce

Meatballs and sauce, accompanied by either pasta or a crusty loaf of bread, is a terrific Sunday night supper - with leftovers to enjoy Monday. Make the sauce first, then spread a bit of it on the bottom of the pan in which you bake the meatballs.

Essential tip on this recipe: For a significantly better meatball, ask the butcher to grind a mix for you.


Chipolte Spiced Tomato Sauce
Adapted from The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger

Equipment: Immersion blender, such as the Cuisinart CSB-76 Smart Stick Hand Blender

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 Tbs. tomato paste
1 28-ounce can tomatoes
1/2 tsp. finely chopped chipotle chile in adobo sauce.
2 tsps. dried oregano
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 scant tsp. salt
A few pinches of dried basil

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. I use my 8-quart stock pan. You'll be using a stick blender at the end of cooking, so use a larger pan for ease and safety.

Saute the onion in the oil until translucent (4 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Minced garlic cooks quickly. Don't burn it.

Add to the saucepan: tomato paste, can of tomatoes with juice, chipotle chile, oregano, and rosemary. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer about 15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened a bit.

Using stick blender, blend until reaching the desired consistency.

Adapted from

Equipment: Digital meat thermometer. Something like this Taylor 9842 Commercial Waterproof Digital Thermometer


1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
3 Tbs. minced garlic
2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. of black pepper
2/3 cup of milk
2 tsp.dried oregano

Combine all ingredients. Form 2-inch meatballs. Spoon some sauce over each meatball. Bake at 350 until meatballs reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees. This could take 25 to 35 minutes depending on your oven. Use the thermometer. After 25 minutes have passed, remove one meatball from the oven and check the temp. If not done, give it another 5-10 minutes and check again. Patience!

Serve meatballs and sauce over pasta or with crusty bread.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Pie

You don't cook. You don't bake. Nonetheless, if you are invited to Thanksgiving dinner, volunteer to bring a pie. In fact, volunteer to bring a pecan pie. It is absolutely the easiest item to make yourself. And it will delight and amaze your friends. Here's what to do:


Assemble these items. If you don't have them on hand, purchase at a second-hand store, a hardware store, or one of those stores with the word "mart" in the name. The 99 cent measuring spoons work just as well as the expensive spoons from a specialty store. And we will be making more pie in the future, so having these items on hand makes sense.

Pyrex pie plate. Get the big one with the fluted edges. On the back it says "24 cm".

Hand mixer.

A set of measuring cups (for dry ingredients) and a set of measuring spoons.

Pyrex 2-cup measuring cup (for liquid ingredients).

A big spoon.

Rolling pin. If you are buying one, get a French rolling pin with a tapered end if you can, but really any will do for this project. (Example: Ateco 20175 20" French Rolling Pin with Tapered End)


Pillsbury Pie Crust from the refrigerator section of the store.
1 and 1/2 cups pecan halves or chopped pecans
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar
1 cup dark Karo syrup
4 Tbs. melted, unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs


Pre-heat oven to 425.
Read the instructions on the Pillsbury Pie Crust package. Bring one pie crust to room temperature pursuant to those instructions.

Take the pie crust out of the package, carefully unroll it and set it on a clean work surface. With the rolling pin, gently roll the dough out a bit. Keep it circular and don't roll the dough so thin that it tears. Just roll a bit, thinking all the while "flaky pie crust." Trust me, thinking good thoughts helps.

Gently fold the crust in half, bottom to top, and then in half again, right to left. Place the wedge of dough in the pie plate and unfold. Make it comfortable and as pretty as you can. Set this aside.

Make the Filling

Beat eggs with a fork until yolks and whites are blended. Add the syrup, sugar, butter and vanilla and blend together will with the electric beater. Stir in the pecans with a spoon. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell.


Bake for 15 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 350 and bake for another 20 minutes. The filling will be set, but still quiver a bit in the middle.

Let the pie cool.

Everyone will love this pie. Have fun, and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Check out this post at the NYT regarding skipping turkey and, instead, pumping-up the side dishes for your Thanksgiving feast. Going Vegetarian for Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Barbeque Sauce

Tonight I needed barbecue sauce, but there was none in the larder. What I did not need, or want, was a trip to the store. I turned to the web for a barbecue sauce recipe that could be put together with what was on hand.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are a zillion barbecue sauce recipes out there. The one below is what I followed today - and it was roundly praised by all diners. Delicious, and so easy to prepare. I may not be buying barbecue sauce at the store any more.

Regretfully, I can't tell you where I found this recipe; I looked at and wrote down many formulations, losing track of what came from where. But to the chef who dreamed this up, and posted it, thank you!

Good Barbecue Sauce

1/2 C Ketchup

2 Tbs. Cider Vinegar

2 Tbs. Maple Syrup

2 Tbs. Chopped Onion

2 tsp. Mustard

1/4 tsp. cayenne

Mix together in a sauce pan and heat.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Light Whole Wheat Bread

This recipe uses King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour, which produces a substantial bread that should please both those who love whole wheat bread that those who prefer a lighter loaf.

Light Whole Wheat Bread
(Adapted from Baking with Julia)

2-1/4 cups warm water
1 Tbs. active dry yeast
1/4 cup honey
6 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour (approximately)
1 Tbs. canola oil
1 Tbs. molasses
1 Tbs. salt

Two 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 loaf pans.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer, combine 1/2 cup of warm water, the yeast, and honey. Allow to rest until foamy, about 5 - 10 minutes.

Add the remaining water, the oil, molasses, and half the flour. Stir to combine. With the bowl on the mixer, at low speed mix in the remainder of the flour. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the dough comes together. If the dough doesn't come together, add a bit more flour in small increments. Add the salt. (italics so you don't forget!).

Knead the bread for 10 minutes.

Place the kneaded bread into a large oiled bowl. Flip the dough around to cover the entire surface with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1-1/2 hour or until doubled.

Butter or oil the loaf pans. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide in half. Working one half at a time: Stretch the dough into a 9 x 12 rectangle. Working with the short end, fold the dough two-thirds of the way down the rectangle. Now fold the top edge to meet the bottom edge and press to form a seam. Fit the roll into a loaf pan, seam-side down. Repeat with remaining dough.

Cover the pans with oiled plastic wrap and all the dough to rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 375.

Bake the risen loaves for about 35 minutes. Remove the bread from the pans and cool completely. Enjoy!