Tag: Cooking

Baked sea scallops in less than 30 minutes

Baked sea scallops in less than 30 minutes

The delicate flavor of scallops is a marvelous treat whenever they are in season. Sea scallops are the bigger scallops; the little ones are called bay scallops and are best used in dishes like Coquille St Jacques.

This recipe is so easy, you should start the rice you serve it with first, in a pan, an Instant Pot or a rice cooker. Then preheat the oven. We got our idea from one by Christine Laliberte.

  • About 1 lb sea scallops (around 16)
  • 5 Tb melted butter
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 scallions, chopped in short lengths, green part included
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 Tb olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • Lemon wedges or sliced for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 450° F.
  2. Place the scallops, melted butter and chopped scallions in a bowl
  3. Add the garlic, using a garlic press or just mince it.
  4. Add salt and pepper.
  5. In another bowl, add the breadcrumbs and mix in the olive oil.
  6. Place scallop mixture in a casserole and cover with the breadcrumbs.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven for 11 minutes or more, until brown.
  8. Sprinkle parsley over the browned breadcrumbs and serve with rice.
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Lime Posset: a cool refreshing dessert

Lime Posset: a cool refreshing dessert

This easy recipe makes a cool lime custard in ten minutes work plus 4 hours chilling time, and is just made from limes, sugar and cream. No eggs, no flour. So why does it thicken? It’s the lime juice that coagulates the milk proteins. This recipe was suggested by one in Bon Appetit. Possets go way back to the 16th century and are mentioned in Shakespeare as well as by other writers of the time. In British Food History, Neil Cooks Grigson writes that most mentions of possets in the 18th and 19th century were to a warm drink made with curdled milk, sugar and alcohol, but there is one 1769 article that pretty much describes what 20th and 21st century cooks are making. You can make possets using any acidic fruit juice: orange and lemon possets are also common. In each case, the acid of the fruit coagulates the cream, but because of its high fat content, it makes a smooth custardy texture.

  • 2 limes, peeled into strips
  • Juice of the same 2 limes
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • 4 ramekins
  • 1 peach
  • ½ cup cream
  • 1 Tb sugar
  • 4 mint leaves
  1. Put the cream, sugar and salt in saucepan and add the strips of lime peel. Boil gently for 5 minutes to reduce and thicken the cream.
  1. Strain the cream and return it to the saucepan. Add the lime juice and stir.
  2. Allow the cream to cool a bit and begin to thicken and pour into four ramekins.
  3. Chill for 4 or more hours.
  1. Peel the peach by submerging it in boiling water for a minute and cooling it in cold water. Pull off the peel, using a vegetable peeler if it is stubborn.
  2. Cut the peach into slices, place into a bowl and sugar them with about 1 Tb sugar.
  3. When ready to serve, add the sugar to the ½ cup of cream and whip it. Place a peach slice on each ramekin, add a dollop of cream, and decorate with a mint leaf.
Peepcorn: another use for Peeps

Peepcorn: another use for Peeps

Every year, people buy boxes of those sugary marshmallow candies and probably eat some of them, discarding the rest: but why not use them in delicious recipes? We decided to look into how you can cook with Peeps.

Each Peep weights about 0.25 oz (7 g) and has about 6.5 g of sugar in it, but the Peeps company thinks that a serving size is 4 Peeps. Wishful thinking perhaps? Peeps are made from marshmallow, corn syrup, sugar and carnauba wax, and in addition to the original yellow color, now are available in a number of other bright colors including pink, green and blue.

If you’ve had Peeps in your Easter basket for many years (even if you never ate them) you may remember that they used to be made by the Rodda Candy Company. It turns out that Rodda was acquired in 1953 by Just Born, a candy company in Bethlehem, PA owned, not surprisingly, by Sam Born. It was under Born’s management that the mass production of Peeps grew

Since they are so pervasive in the US and Canada we decided to see what else we could do with them.

One of our first experiments was to put some Peeps in our popcorn. You may not know this, but you can buy a jar of ordinary popcorn and put some in a paper bag and pop it in the microwave without any special packaging or seasonings. We found that about 1/3 cup of kernels is pretty much equivalent to what you pop in a large bag of microwave popcorn.

DSC_0003

So to use up a few Peeps, we cut one up and put it a bag with the 1/3 cup of popcorn and popped it using the usual microwave popcorn settings. The result was sweetish popcorn, rather like kettle corn.

In our second try, we cut up two Peeps and popped them with the 1/3 cup of popcorn. The result was sweetish popcorn with a caramel coating and was really pretty good.

When you pop corn with 3 Peeps, Peep-fatigue sets in and the marshmallow actually inhibits the popping. Stick with two and you’ll have a nice sweet snack.

 

 

 

Delicious bagels you can make yourself

Delicious bagels you can make yourself

Really good bagels are hard to find outside of major East Coast cities. So we decided to tackle making our own, starting with Alex Baldinger and Becky Krystal’s recipe published about a year ago in the Washington Post.

There are only a couple of ingredients you need:  King Arthur Bread Flour (available at most supermarkets) and barley malt syrup (which you may have to order). It is this malt syrup that gives bagels their characteristic flavor, so don’t leave it out. Both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods carry it, however.

The third major ingredient is rapid rise yeast, not the conventional yeast you may have in your cupboard. And it is important that you proof the yeast before using, as age and mishandling may have more or less killed it. Our first package (Bob’s), purchased at Stop and Shop did not foam up at all, nor did the packet we had in our cupboard, dated May, 2017. We bought some new Fleischman’s Rapid Rise to make these bagels.

The overall procedure is pretty simple: mix up the dough, let it rest and roll it into bagels and let them rest in the refrigerator overnight.  Boil them and add toppings. Then bake them on a piece of baking parchment on a baking stone in a 450° F oven.

  • 1 packet rapid rise yeast
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • 337 g warm water at 80° F (this is just under 1 ½ cups)
  • 623 g bread flour (a little under 4 cups)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tb plus 1 tsp barley malt syrup
  • 3 Tb cornmeal for dusting the chilling platter
  1. Mix the yeast, water and sugar and let it stand until it begins to foam. If it doesn’t foam in 5-10 minutes, get new yeast.
  2. Add the flour, salt and malt syrup to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  3. Add the yeast mixture and mix slowly for about 4 minutes, and then at medium speed for about 7 more minutes, until the dough has gathered into a smooth ball.
  4. Sprinkle a small baking sheet with corn meal.
  5. Divide the dough into 8 balls. The WP recipe suggested 4-oz balls, and that made 8 4 -oz balls and one 3-oz ball. So, by simple math, if you make each ball 4.38 oz, you should get 8 dough balls.
  6. Place the balls on the cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  1. Roll each ball between your hands into an 11-inch tube, avoiding letting the ends taper.
  2. Fasten the ends together using a bit of water to press them together.
  3. Cover the incipient bagels with plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator overnight, for 12-18 hours.
  1. In the morning, put the baking stone (pizza stone) in the oven and preheat it to 450°F. Let it heat up for 30-60 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, put a large pan of water on the stove, and boil the bagels, 2-3 at a time for about 30 seconds. Drain them on a rack, and roll them in any toppings you like: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, Kosher salt, minced garlic or minced onion. An “everything” bagel has all these ingredients, plus caraway seeds. Put each topping on a plate and roll the bagel in it.

on peel

  1. Place 3 or 4 bagels on a sheet of baking parchment, on a baking peel or the bottom of a baking sheet, and slide them onto the baking stone.
  2. Bake 12-18 minutes. We baked ours for 14, and while they were delicious we might try adding 2 more minutes next time, as the interiors were a bit softer than we prefer. However, toasting them solved that.

ToppingsThe end result of this project is some of the best bagels we’ve ever made. Our only complaint is how expensive the toppings are at the supermarket, about $5 each. We’d order them in bulk next time. We tried a salt bagel using Diamond Kosher salt, and finding the crystals rather small, we also tried a jar of sea salt, where the crystals were probably too big. We’ll look for salt with a somewhat smaller crystal size next time.

Not only was making these bagels fun for us, it would make a great project for kids as well.

Chicken soup for a cold

Chicken soup for a cold

I went to my doctor yesterday because I had a lingering nasty cold, and came away with a couple of helpful prescriptions and a recommendation from both the doctor and his PA that I be sure to have some chicken soup. Well there have been enough studies to know that chicken soup really does help cold symptoms, and that was all I needed to buy 4 chicken thighs (those ridiculous Franken-thighs where 4 weighed 1.7 lbs) and make some soup.

We had made some chicken pot pies a few weeks ago and had frozen the remaining stock and thus had some really good stock all ready to go.

  1. We pulled out 2 containers of it (about 2-3 quarts) and popped then out of their containers and into the pan of our Instant Pot. We set it on low pressure steam for 5 minutes to thaw the stock.
  2. Then we skinned the thighs and tossed them into the pot, and pressed the Poultry button for 15 minutes cooking.
  3. We pulled the chicken pieces out to cool and decanted the fat from the stock.
  4. When we made our frozen stock, we didn’t remove every bit of fat because it would be fine going into a gravy, but no one wants soup with a greasy mouth feel, so we removed the fat from the stock and from poaching the thighs using a gravy separator. It works by pouring from the bottom of the dish, since the fat floats to the top.

separator

  1. We poured the fat off three batches.
  2. Now to actually make the soup, we cut up
  • One medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 large stalk of celery
  1. We added the veggies to the now empty InstantPot bowl along with a Tb or two of butter, and let them sauté until softened.
  2. Then we returned the stock to the pot, along with the cut up chicken.
  3. Then we tossed in the remainder of an open bag of Medium Dutch Maid Egg Noodles (about 5 oz).
  4. We closed the pot and pressed Soup, setting the time down to 10 minutes.
  5. The resulting soup was so beautiful even in the pot we were amazed.

in potIt was even better in a bowl. We served it with a loaf of Wave Hill Bread.

This recipe serves about 4.

Enchiladas, southwest style

Enchiladas, southwest style

Nowadays, you can get all kinds of things named enchiladas, some filled with beef, pork or chicken, or others with downright weird ingredients. We wanted to go back to the enchiladas we had in Arizona which are pretty straightforward, but with the twist that they add a fried egg on top to cut the spiciness.

Of course, spiciness is different for each person, but the idea is the same. You just add some sort of sauce and season it to taste. In our case, we bought soft, premade corn tortillas and two kinds of packaged taco sauce. Neither turned out to be very spicy, so we added some red pepper flakes and some slices of jalapeno.  You can go pretty far into spiciness by picking the right peppers, but since the ones in the supermarket were completely unlabeled, we stuck to jalapenos. However winter jalapenos shipped to Connecticut are pretty mild things.

cheeseHere’s our pretty easy recipe. We used cheddar cheese shredded in our food processor, rather than using a grater or buying the tasteless pre-shredded cheese which has had plenty of time to oxidize on all of its surfaces. You could also use the fairly similar Colby cheese.

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, mashed or minced
  • Taco sauce
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Jalapeno or hotter peppers
  • 4 Corn tortillas
  • 1/3 lb cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 eggs

sauce

  1. Saute the ground beef in a little olive oil. Remove and keep warm.
  2. Saute the onions in the same oil, and add the garlic near the end of the cooking process to keep it from burning.
  3. Drain excess fat from the pan, and add the ground beef and about 1 cup of taco sauce. The bottled sauces have much more body than the powdered ones (like Old El Paso).
  4. Add the pepper flakes and slices of hot peppers to taste.
  5. Heat the tortillas in a pan or on a griddle.
  6. Spoon meat sauce into each tortilla and top with grated cheese.
  7. Add sliced hot peppers and if you like, sliced black olives.
  8. Roll each taco up and place them seam-side down in a baking dish.
  1. Top with more grated cheese and bake for 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the filling heated.
  2. While they are baking, gentry fry the eggs in butter.
  3. Place two tacos on each plate, and top with a fried egg.
  4. Serve at once.

baked

Is coconut oil healthy or just a fad? We check with Doctor Oz.

Is coconut oil healthy or just a fad? We check with Doctor Oz.

Recently we were discussing approaches to weight loss with a group of friends in Wilton, and one pointed out that Dr Oz had said that coconut oil was good for weight loss. This seemed surprising since it is an oil made of saturated fats, so we looked into it. You can buy coconut oil  almost everywhere now and from quacks like Dr Mercola.

Dr Oz did indeed endorse coconut oil on a recent show, claiming that unspecified “recent research” said it was good for weight loss, skin conditions and treating ulcers. He didn’t claim it would walk your dog or fold your laundry, but that might be in the next segment.

Dr Oz trained as a medical doctor, and some of his straightforward medical advice can be pretty helpful, but he increasingly has moved to endorse alternative medicine, pseudo-science and even faith healing. Many scientists and physicians feel he has gone completely “over to the dark side,” eschewing science-based medicine for a lot of hokum.

Coconut oil may very well make a good skin treatment, as you often find it in suntan lotions and the like. But there really isn’t much peer-reviewed research to support Oz’s assertions. It has been linked to impaired memory performance in rats. But there are no studies linking coconut oil to the stomach ulcer bacteria h pylori. There are, however, a number of sites hawking coconut oil that make these claims, though.

There is one preliminary study on 20 obese Malaysian males that showed some reduction in waist circumference and another study showing increasing obesity upon ingestion of coconut oil and other saturated fats. Finally there is a study among Filipino women showing that coconut oil improved the lipid profile by increasing HDL (good cholesterol).

However, these are small and preliminary, and no definitive conclusions have been reached. On the web site sharecare.com, the Mt Sinai Medical Center answers a query about coconut oil, suggesting it is unlikely to be useful.

The bottom line, according to the Mayo Clinic and others is this: People on coconut oil diets showed higher arterial fat after just one meal, it can increase cholesterol and, if it is not reducing your caloric intake, coconut oil can actually lead to weight gain.

And the Mayo Clinic web site points out

Although eating coconut oil in moderation for a short-term diet probably won’t harm your health, it may not help you lose weight. And keep in mind that coconut oil actually has more saturated fat than do butter and lard. For successful, long-term weight loss, stick to the basics — an overall healthy-eating plan and exercise.

There are some articles on Oz’s web site but mostly by blog contributors, many with only Naturopath training (which is not science based medicine) and even they come back to these same preliminary studies. There is also one by a board certified dermatologist touting essentially the same studies.

The only places strongly touting coconut oil are quack doctor Joe Mercola’s site and the even more suspect site at the Weston A Price Foundation. The paper Mercola appears to be referring to is also the 2009 Brazilian study where 2 groups of volunteers were fed either soybean oil or coconut oil over 12 weeks and instructed to walk 50 minutes a day and follow an otherwise balanced low calorie diet. Both groups lost weight, but HDL (good) cholesterol was higher in the coconut oil group.

In conclusion, there is a bit of preliminary evidence for some benefits,  but since it seems counter-intuitive that eating a high saturated fat diet can help you lose weight, it is probably better to follow the advice of the established experts such as WebMD and the American Heart Association who recommend against it.

 

Nancy’s Jumble Cookies

Nancy’s Jumble Cookies

Nancy Dolnier, the General Manager of Wilton’s Village Market, periodically publishes creative recipes as part of the store’s weekly flyer. This Jumble Cookie recipe, which she says has appeared before, is simply outstanding, and provides a batch of creative cookies for your family or to take to an event. Other than stirring up the ingredients, it is very little work.

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (she suggests chocolate “chunks,” but we couldn’t find any)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans
  • ¾ cup shredded coconut
  • ½ cup white chocolate morsels

ingredients

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. In an electric mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar.
  3. Mix in the egg yolks and vanilla
  4. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder, and mix until uniform.
  1. Mix in the oats.
  2. One by one, add the chocolate chips, raisins, pecans, coconut, and white morsels, mixing after each addition.
  3. Place a sheet of baking parchment on a cookie sheet, and using a large cookie scoop, drop about 8 cookie balls onto the parchment.
  1. Bake for 14-16 minutes and transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.
  2. Repeat until all the cookies are baked.
  3. Makes about 30 amazing cookies.

Depending on your mixer, you may be able to use it to do all the mixing. If the mixer gets overloaded, mix in the final ingredients by hand with a wooden spoon.

Chicken Adobo: Phillippine fried chicken

Chicken Adobo: Phillippine fried chicken

This is an adaptation of the recipe described by Julia Moskin in the New York Times. It amounts to a dipping sauce, a poaching broth and a quick deep frying of the final chicken. The advantage of a recipe like this is that the chicken is already cooked when you fry it, so you needn’t worry about cooking the chicken through, when the pieces vary in size, as they seem to do in supermarkets these days. Further, the poaching renders some of the fat out of the chicken skin, so you needn’t skin the chicken.

While this can be a highly spiced dish, all of the heat is in the dipping sauce and you can easily control the heat by choosing the kind of peppers  As written, it calls for two Thai bird chiles or habanero chilis which have Scoville ratings of 100,000 to 600,000. By contrast. Jalapeno peppers have a relatively mild Scoville rating of 3,000-10,000. For our first experiment, we chose the easily available Jalapeno pepper rather than searching down the super hot ones that may have lesser appeal here in Connecticut.

The Dipping Sauce

dipping-sauce

  • 3 Tb lemon juice
  • 2 Tb maple syrup
  • 2 Tb fish sauce
  • 1 Tb soy sauce
  • 2 hot peppers, thinly sliced (we used Jalapeno)
  • ¾ cup water

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate until chicken is ready.

The Broth

  • 2 ½ cups white vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups water

Place the broth in a large pot with a close-fitting lid, and simmer for 5 minutes. Then turn the heat down to the lowest possible simmer.

The Chicken

  • 2 lb dark meat: legs and thighs, wings if you must. Do not use white meat.
  • 2-3 cups Buttermilk
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp semi-hot paprika
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 4-8 cups canola or peanut oil

poaching

  1. Salt the chicken, and place the chicken pieces in the broth pan so that they are covered.
  2. Poach for 15 minutes, turning the chicken pieces once.
  3. Turn off the heat, and let the chicken cool in the broth for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain the pieces on a paper towel.
  5. Mix the flour and spices in a plastic storage bag.
  6. Heat the oil in a cast-iron pan to 365° F.
  7. Dip the chicken in butter milk and then shake in the flour.
  8. Shake off excess flour and fry the chicken a few pieces at a time. Cook the chicken 4-5 minutes, turning several times. You want the chicken evenly browned and heated through, but you do not need to cook it further.
  9. Drain the chicken pieces on paper towels and serve hot with the dipping sauce.

Commenters on Moskin’s recipe have suggested marinating the chicken overnight to enhance the flavor. We don’t think that is needed, as the flavor is quite pronounced, but you want to avoid overcooking the chicken in the broth, as it eventually will dry out the chicken.

plated

Flakey buttermilk biscuits

Flakey buttermilk biscuits

Buttermilk biscuits are great for breakfast (or dinner) and take very little time to make. In this recipe, we used unsalted butter, and devised a trick to make them even flakier. Just as in making croissants, we turn and fold the dough a couple of times to make more layers of butter. The result is biscuits made up of many layers, and with a terrific flavor. We use unsalted butter because it contains less water than salted butter, but you can use salted butter if that is all you have.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Unsalted butter, 1/3 cup or 2/3 stick or 76 g
  • About 1 cup of buttermilk
  1. Set out one stick of butter from the refrigerator for a few minutes, while you gather your ingredients.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450° F.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  4. Cut the butter into small slices and drop into the flour.
  5. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender or two forks.
  6. Add 1 cup of buttermilk, and more if most of the flour isn’t moistened.
  7. Pat the dough together on a cutting board and roll it out.
  1. Fold the dough into thirds and roll out into a rectangle.
  2. Again, fold the dough into thirds and roll it out.
  1. Cut the dough into biscuits using a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass, and place the biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  2. Bake the biscuits for 10 minutes, and serve right away.

baked