Archive for August, 2007

Lee Bailey is the author of several cookbooks that I have read. Every recipe of his that I have tried, we have enjoyed very much. I furnished one of his recently, Honey Custard with Gingersnap Crumbs. Here is a tasty entree that would go well with that dessert. I would probably serve some type of potato casserole and broccoli with this.

This is a quick-fix dish, probably only takes fifteen to twenty minutes, if you practice “mis en place”, and have everything pre-cut and measured before actually starting to cook.

Pan-Fried Pork Medallions with Rosemary Scallion Sauce

Serves 6

1/2 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper, white or black

2 lb. boneless pork loin, sliced in 1/4″ slices, and pounded slightly
2 T. olive oil, maybe a little more
1 1/4 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. white wine
1 T. white wine vinegar
2-3 med. scallions, thinly sliced
1 T. each, minced fresh parsley and rosemary
2 T. butter
1/2 t. pepper

1. Heat oil in large skillet. Mix the flour, salt and 1/4 t. pepper together in a shallow plate. Dredge the pork in the flour mixture. Fry meat in batches, 3 minutes per side, until the bottom edges begin to brown. Don’t overcrowd the skillet. Add oil by the teaspoon if necessary. Transfer pork to a platter.

2. Deglaze the pan with wine, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Add the broth and vinegar. Add scallions and herbs. Boil to reduce the sauce and thicken it slightly, about 5 minutes. Return the pork to the skillet to rewarm, about 3-5 minutes on medium heat.

3. Swirl the 2 T. butter into the sauce and stir in the remaining pepper.

4. Serve the pork with the sauce.


Of all the canned goods I buy, I’ll wager that I buy more cans of chicken broth than any other. I sometimes make my own broth, if I am cooking lots of chicken parts for chicken salad, or another recipe calling for cooked chicken pieces. If I roast a chicken, which I do more in the winter than the summer, I will boil the carcass for broth. When I do, I usually make something that uses it all within the next day or two and rarely have any left to freeze. Therefore, I seldom have good homemade broth on hand when a recipe calls for a half-cup or more.

I usually buy Swansons, low-sodium, low-fat chicken broth, both in the 14 oz. can and the quart box. I have found, however, a brand called Pacific Natural Foods that makes a 4-pack of one cup packages, just right for those “add one cup broth” recipes. Although not particularly low in sodium, I can usually adjust for that by reducing the amount of salt called for in the rest of the ingredients. It is much better than using as 14-oz can and wasting the leftovers, usually by forgetting the remainder hiding in the back of the refrigerator. Somehow, I seldom remember to freeze that little bit of broth, or, if I do freeze it, it gets lost in the depths of the freezer, only to be confused later with that little baggie of lemon or lime juice I wanted to save. If I was a wise cook, and I never thought I was, I would roast an inexpensive chicken, once a week, get two meals from it right away, then make good broth with the remains, freeze or use it during the week in other recipes. sounds like a New Year’s resolution to me.

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There is something exquisitely comforting about custard, in all its forms. Puddings, flans, cream pies, creme brulees. Whether warm or cold, the creamy softness feels as good as it tastes. Creme brulee, with its crispy top as a foil for the smooth filling, is an especially pleasant dessert.

Here is another custard dessert with a surprise topping. Unlike creme brulee, that is cooked in two steps, this one requires only one. In fact, it is baked upside down, the topping revealed when the dish is inverted on a dessert plate. By the way, this is an excellent dessert to serve to guests because it must be prepared at least 5 hours in advance.

Here’s the recipe: (from an old Food and Wine magazine or cookbook, the recipe by Lee Bailey.)

Serves 6
1-2 T. butter
1/4 c. plus 2 T. honey
12 gingersnaps (broken into fine crumbs)*
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla
4 eggs
1/4 c. sugar, plus 2 T.
2 1/2 c. milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter (6) half-cup custard cups. Spoon 1 T. honey in the bottom of each. Sprinkle the gingersnap crumbs evenly over the honey. Place in 9 x 13 baking pan.

2. Whisk eggs. Whisk in sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir in milk to blend thoroughly and dissolve most of the sugar. Strain into cups. Fill almost to the brims. (The gingernsap crumbs will rise to the surface.) Pour hot water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the custard cups.

3. Bake 30-45 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center of the custards comes out clean. Let cool in the pan with water. Then refrigerate at least 4 hours.

4. Run a knife around the edge of the custards and invert onto a dessert plates, coating the custards with the liquid in the bottom of each cup.

* I put the broken gingersnaps into a plastic freezer bag and roll the bag with my rolling pin to make the crumbs. You could use a processor if you want.

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You can find recipes anyplace, even when you’re not looking. That’s one reason my collection of recipes keeps growing. I estimate that I need to live to the age of 327 just to prepare all the chicken recipes that I have collected.

Here’s one I found, not too surprisingly, on a package of boneless chicken breasts in a grocery in upstate New York a number of years ago. We were vacationing with my sister and brother-in-law at their wonderful house in the Adirondack Mountains near Keene and Keene Valley. It was my turn to cook dinner and this dish was the entree. I don’t remember the rest of the meal, but I made sure to keep this recipe, for years still on the plastic wrapper of the chicken taped to another piece of paper. Now it is safely committed to the ether as well as one of my cookbooks. I hope you enjoy it.

(Note: If you don’t have chili paste, use hot sauce instead. But don’t substitute ground ginger for fresh.)


4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. oil
2 T. minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 t. minced fresh garlic
1 t. chili paste (or hot sauce, to taste)
1/4 t. sugar
1/4 t. salt
black pepper to taste

Mix the marinade ingredients in a small bowl.

Put the chicken and the marinade in a plastic food storage bag or other covered container and mix well.

Let sit in the refrigerator for an hour or so.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.

Grill or broil until done.

(NOTE: Boneless breasts may be pounded to an even thickness. This prevents the thinner end from becoming too dry after cooking. It also shortens the cooking time a little. Always cut into the thickest part of the breast to make sure the juices run clear instead of pink.)

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There is nothing like boneless chicken breasts for convenience. Someone else dispatches the poor bird, plucks it and guts it – all those unpleasant chores required by us carnivores. Then, Chicken Little is dismembered and its breasts are de-skinned and de-boned for our convenience. All that for a price, I might remind you.

Gone are the days when most people had a little coop in the backyard, with a few hens and a rooster to keep the families intact, the chopping block and hatchet at the ready. This was the source of the expressions I heard as a child from my mother and grandmother from their days on the farm. “He’s running around like a chicken without its head!” “Quit that or I’ll wring your neck!” We knew that there was no way our necks were in danger but the message got across very well.

Today, we go to the grocery, pick up a plastic pack of nicely skinned and boned breasts for five or six dollars and head home to prepare a quick meal without all the struggles previously mentioned. Properly prepared, the breasts can be cooked in 6 minutes, bathed in a sauce made in another 3 minutes and devoured in five. You can’t beat that for efficiency.

With that in mind, I looked yesterday for a recipe for the three boneless breasts I had in the refrigerator. I wanted a relatively simple dish, but one with a tangy flavor to go with the succotash that I was planning to fix as a vegetable side dish. When I think of “tangy flavor” I usually think of lemons or mustard. In this case I decided to go with the mustard.

I rinsed and dried the chicken pieces and set them aside on a plate. I mixed 1/3 cup Dijon mustard and 1/3 cup mayonnaise in a small bowl with a little salt and black pepper. I picked a small sprig of rosemary, stripped the leaves and chopped them to get about 1/2 teaspoon and added that to the bowl. I slathered that on both sides of the chicken, covered them with plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator until I was ready to cook them a few hours later. (It isn’t necessary to let them rest for a while. They can be cooked right away.)

I started cooking the succotash, a recipe that I will give you below, and preheated the broiler. (I could have cooked the chicken outside on the grill, but it was just too darn hot!) I transferred the breasts to a broiler pan and broiled them about 4 inches from the heat for 3 minutes per side, then I turned the broiler to low (you could move the rack down one level if you only have one broiler setting) flipped the chicken back to the first side again and sprinkled them with Parmesan cheese. I continued cooking them for another three minutes until the cheese was starting to turn golden brown. They were ready to eat.

(Note: These breasts were pretty evenly thick, but when putting then on the broiler pan, I did make sure to fold the thinner edge under to even them out a little more. I didn’t have to pound them to an even thickness which is advisable if one end is thicker than the other. Pounding them not only prevents one end from being too dry it also shortens the time necessary for cooking. Always cut into the thickest part to make sure that any juices released are clear and not pink. If pink, return to the heat for another minute and recheck.)

I’ve been making this dish, or variations of it, for years. Some recipes call for bread crumbs and garlic; some for yogurt instead of mayonnaise; some for Worcestershire sauce, for a deeper flavor, or cayenne pepper for some heat. The one I used today is just about the simplest. Don’t have any rosemary? Don’t let that stop you. The chicken will be delicious without it.

We had a few slices of fresh no-knead bread and succotash for the rest of the meal. The succotash is a recipe from the Fine Cooking website. It is a little different from the frozen box of corn and lima beans that I personally hated as a child. It has a lot more vegetables in it and would go a long way to furnishing the variety of vegetables that we are urged to eat daily. It is quick to prepare, despite the relatively long list of ingredients, but benefits from advance preparation, cutting up the vegetables and lining them up on the counter in the order to be added to the pot. It takes about fifteen minutes of cooking, and about fifteen minutes of chopping the vegetables. I used custard cups to hold the individual vegetables and had everything ready about an hour before I wanted to cook. They just sat there on the kitchen counter, the fragrant onion and garlic making my mouth water in anticipation. Here’s the recipe, again, thanks to Fine Cooking.


2 T., plus 1/2 t. olive oil
1 small red onion, in 1/4″ dice
1/8 t. dried red chile flakes
Kosher salt
1 red bell pepper, cut in 1/4″ dice (note: I did 1/2″)
1/4 lb. fresh green beans, 1/4″ pieces (note: I did 1/2″)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (I used a garlic press)
1 medium zucchini, cut in 1/4″ dice (I did 1/2″)
Kernels from 2 large ears corn (about 1 1/2 c.) (I used thawed frozen corn)
1/4 lb. thawed frozen baby lima beans (I used fordhook)
1 small ripe tomato, seeded and cut into 1/4″
1 T. unsalted butter
1 T. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsely
2-3 T. chopped fresh basil

Heat 2 T. oil in a deep 10″ saute pan of a large shallow pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, chile flakes, and a generoud pinch of salt and cook until the onion is soft and has started to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the bell pepper and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the green beans; cook for 2 minutes.

Push some of the ingredients aside to make room to saute the garlic. Heat the remaining 1/2 t. oil in this spot, add the garlic, cook until you smell it, and then stir it into the vegetables.

Add the zucchini and a pinch of salt to draw out some moisture and cook for 2 minutes. Add the corn; cook for 2 minutes. Add the lima beans and tomato and cook until all the vegetables are perfectly tender, about 2 minutes more. Stir in the butter, parseley, and basil and season with more salt, if necessary.


This is a very colorful group of vegetables and tasted great with the tangy chicken. Give it a try. And lets hear it for the chicken neck wringers, plucker, de-boners and grocers!


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I made Chicken Divan last night for dinner. I had two chicken breasts halves to cook and plenty of broccoli plus the other items that I needed to throw together. It’s a tasty dish and full of that great vegetable, broccoli.

There are lots of recipes for Chicken Divan, from simple to complicated. The easiest one would be basically, cooked chicken cubes, a can of mushroom soup, frozen broccoli (cooked) and cheese, mixed and baked for 30 minutes. From there, you can get as complicated as you wish.

My recipe falls somewhere in between the two extremes. I can get everything assembled and ready to bake in under 30 minutes. With another 30 minutes in the oven, that qualifies as relatively quick meal. The time in the oven can be spent preparing a salad, another vegetable, or just relaxing with a nice glass of wine. Sounds like a plan to me.



2 whole or 4 half chicken breasts, boneless for quicker preparation, bone-in for economy and free broth (you want at least 2 cups cooked cubed chicken)
1 T. olive oil and 1 T. butter
1/4 c. chopped onion, one small or half medium onion
1/2 t. salt or to taste
1/4 t. pepper
2 T. flour
1/2 c. chicken broth, either canned or fresh
2/3 c. milk
2 T. dry sherry (optional)
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 lb. broccoli, washed and chopped, or 1 box frozen chopped broccoli, cooked and drained
1 c. grated cheese Parmesan, or cheddar, or any type, divided
1/4 c. mayonnaise
2 t. dijon mustard
1-2 T. heavy cream, optional, if needed to thin the sauce

1. Cook the chicken until tender, remove from bones and cube into small bite-sized pieces; set aside. Preheat oven to 35o degrees. While the chicken is cooking, steam the fresh broccoli for 4-5 minutes, rinse with cold water and drain.

2. In a heavy-bottom medium saucepan, heat the oil and butter. Add the onion and saute until tender but not browned. Add the flour and stir constantly to remove the raw flour taste. Stir in the chicken broth and milk. Stir often being careful to not let it burn on the bottom.

3. Add the sherry, if using, salt and pepper, and nutmeg. Keep stirring until thick and bubbly. Add more milk or heavy cream if the sauce is too thick.

4. Remove from heat and stir in the mayonnaise and mustard. Add half of the cheese and stir to melt.

5. In an ovenproof casserole or gratin dish, layer the broccoli and chicken. Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the sauce.

6. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered.

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photo credit: Taunton Press

I am going to a picnic this afternoon for the staff where I work. It is billed as the “first annual picnic”. I have worked there for 10 years and don’t remember a picnic before this one. I hope it continues. It’s always nice to be with one’s workmates in a more casual atmosphere. We work with the public and are always “on call” when someone needs assistance. This will be a chance to finish a conversation with a coworker without having to run off the help someone – not that we mind that. The public is our raison d’etre, so to speak.

We have been having extremely hot weather as has much of the country for the past few weeks. Yesterday and today are much more temperate, thank goodness, but I had to prepare food to share at the picnic that could withstand heat. I decided to fix bruschetta.

We have been blessed with generous neighbors and a bounteous farmers’ market, both of which have provided more than ample supply of tomatoes. My basil is still plentiful, and with garlic and olive oil on hand, all I needed from the store was a baguette.

I could have used my no-knead bread, but it tends to have those large holes in each slice and the tomato mixture would fall right through. The baguette’s texture is better for that reason, although the taste of grocery store baguettes leaves something to be desired. No matter; the heady garlic in the pomodoro sauce will give more than enough taste. I started by dropping a few cloves of garlic in the food processor to chop it up. Then I cored and quartered as many tomatoes as I thought I would need.  I used a variety of tomatoes, some large, some small (almost cherry tomato size) and some plum tomatoes. I probably used 10 to 12 altogether. I let the tomatoes drain for a while in a colander to remove some of the juice, but not all. Then I processed them in two batches by pulsing the machine a few times until they reached the consistency I wanted, still chunky but small enough to spoon out onto the slices of bread easily. I combined the two batches and added a few tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon and a half of kosher salt and several good grinds of black pepper. I tasted it and then added a little more salt and 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar. 

I sliced the bread about 3/4 inch thick and at a slight angle to give it a bit more surface area. I broiled the slices for a few minutes until they started to turn golden brown. I turned them and broiled the other side. Then I rubbed both sides with the cut side of a garlic clove and brushed one side with olive oil, lightly. I will place them on a platter in a circle with the bowl of tomatoes in the center. Delicioso! I hope everyone likes it. I didn’t use as much garlic as I would have for my family. (Our motto is “There is no such thing as too much garlic.”) I doubt if everyone at work feels the same.I hope you have the opportunity in the waning days of summer to attend more picnics with family and friends. Too soon we will be wishing for a little warmth on the chilly evenings of autumn.Until then, happy dining!


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I love french toast. My father liked it and, if she had enough time, my mother would occasionally prepare it in the morning for him before he went to work, even though she didn’t and still doesn’t like it.

We never put maple syrup on french toast; we only used jelly. It was years and years before I ever saw anyone put syrup on it. To me that seemed just plain plain wrong, not to mention too sweet. To this day, I prefer spreading just the tiniest bit of jelly on top of the bread.

If we have overnight guests, I like to serve french toast for their breakfast, with sausage links and fruit, maybe broiled grapefruit** for the sweet-tart flavor. I found a good recipe that calls for partial preparation the night before, always a good idea when one is busy with guests and trying not to appear too frazzled.

This recipe is quite easy to prepare and has a few variations for your consideration. Feel free to use syrup, if you insist!


1 loaf french bread, sliced in 3/4 inch slices
1/4 t. salt
2 eggs*
2 egg whites
1/3 c. of sugar (or less)
zest of 1 lemon
2 c. milk
2 T. rum, or brandy, or 1 t. lemon juice (optional)

*I always use an egg or two more, because I like it “eggy”

1. Mix the eggs, egg whites, lemon zest, milk, and rum in a bowl. Beat with a whisk or electric mixer for a minute or two.

2. Dip the bread slices into the egg mixture and put in a 9 X 13 baking dish. Pour remaining liquid over the bread. Cover with foil or plastic and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

3. The next morning, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in a skillet or griddle over medium to medium-high heat. Remove as many slices of bread as will easily fit in the pan without crowding, and brown them on each side. Transfer to a cookie sheet and repeat with the rest of the bread. Dust the tops with a little nutmeg.Bake 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Serve with syrup, jelly, jam or preserves.


**We have this recipe on Christmas morning with the french toast.



2 grapefruit, halved, seeded and sections loosened with knife
1/2 c. wheat flake cereal, crushed
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. coconut
2 T. melted butter
dash cinnamon

1. Prepare the grapefruit and preheat broiler.

2. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a small bowl.

3. Sprinkle mixture over the top of the grapefruit and broil about 5 inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Watch closely; they can go from browned to burned very quickly.


Have a nice breakfast sometime; prepare these two dishes with either sausage, ham, or bacon.


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