Spike's & Jamie's Recipe Collection & a Whole Lot More!

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Recipes from Spike & Jamie

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How to use these pages:  Below is a list of the recipes on this page.  You can either scroll down the page and look at all of the recipes, or look at the titles.  When you find one that seems interesting, use your web browsers FIND function to take you directly to that recipe (on my IE browser it's Edit/Find (on this page)   or Ctrl - F on your keyboard).





































































(Makes about 2 dozen biscuits)


1 package active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)

5 cups self-rising, low-protein flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup shortening or lard

2 cups buttermilk


In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water and let stand several minutes, until foamy. In a large bowl, sift together flour and baking soda. Cut in the shortening with your fingertips until mixture resembles fine meal. Combine the dissolved yeast and the buttermilk, then stir into flour mixture, just until all the flour is moistened.


Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface. Flour hands lightly and knead dough lightly, about 10 strokes. Divide dough into three parts.


Wrap each part in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. (Dough can remain refrigerated for several days.)


When ready to bake, remove one section of dough. Flour hands lightly and pat out dough on a floured surface, about 1/2 inch thick.


Cut with a round cutter dipped in flour. (You can also pinch off sections of dough and shape it with your hands.)


Place on an ungreased baking sheet. (For higher, fluffier biscuits, place dough so that it's touching; for crisper, flatter biscuits, place it about 2 inches apart.)


Bake at 425 degrees until lightly browned, about 14 to 18 minutes. Serve hot.




The slow cooking makes it almost impossible to tell that frozen, not fresh, brussels sprouts were used.


1/4 pound sliced bacon, each slice cut crosswise into thin strips

1/2 cup chopped onions

1 pound frozen petite brussels sprouts

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Place a pan that is large enough to hold all of the brussels sprouts over medium-high to high heat. Add the bacon and cook until the bacon releases some fat, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent and the bacon begins to brown.


Add the brussels sprouts, broth, sugar and salt and pepper to taste; increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low or medium-low to maintain a slow simmer, and cook until the brussels sprouts are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover, return the heat to high and cook until the broth has almost completely evaporated. Serve warm.



In praise of the tender biscuit



(Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2001)


Pity the poor biscuit.


Dismissed as too fattening. Ignored as too much work. Lumped together with grits and fatback as a symbol of country living, the hayseed cousin of croissants and rolls.


These days, biscuits have been reduced to drive-through fast-food breakfasts or a cramped existence inside a tube we whack against the counter.


But there was a time -- oh yes, children -- when the biscuit reigned supreme.


Biscuits at breakfast meant someone got up and made them for your pleasure.


So when did biscuits begin their slide? Blame it on railroads and baking powder. The railroads made white flour more widely available.


Baking powder, which became commercially available in the mid-19th century, made biscuits easier.


Before long, biscuits were common -- "the poor man's white bread."


When biscuit-making was an everyday skill, a thicket of myths grew up around it. Handle the dough just so; don't handle the fat with your fingers; never twist the cutter; always -- or never -- let the biscuits touch on the baking sheet.


It's no wonder that when convenience products like baking mixes and tube biscuits came along, cooks were happy to let somebody else take over.


But before biscuit-making passes out of our lives entirely, it's worth remembering that they are really very simple.


There are just a few things to know about making good biscuits, says Shirley Corriher, a former chemist. Her book on food science, "CookWise," included a recipe for her grandmother's fluffy Touch of Grace biscuits.


Most people know that a low-protein flour is a must for biscuits. When protein cells grab each other, they form tough sheets of gluten that help trap gases, letting breads rise. Less protein means less gluten, for more tender biscuits and pastries. But liquid is a part of the secret, too, Corriher says.


If there's less protein, the flour will absorb less moisture. "All that moisture is left in the dough to turn into steam," making a moist, tender biscuit.


Another problem we encounter with biscuits may be our expectations.


We say "tender and flaky," but flaky isn't the same as tender.


"For a flake, you have to have a piece of fat big enough to act as a flaker," Corriher says. In other words, there has to be a piece of fat with flour on either side of it. If the fat is big enough and cold enough to hold its shape until the oven heat hits it, it will leave a space when it melts -- a flake.


Recipes that tell you to cut -- or mix -- fat into flour "until it resembles coarse crumbs" never will give you a flaky biscuit, she says. Mixing the fat until it looks like fine meal will give you a tender biscuit. For flakes, you need bits of fat that are as big and flat as pieces of uncooked oatmeal.


Placement in the baking pan or on a baking sheet does make a difference, but it's up to you. Biscuits placed close together stay moister and rise higher. Biscuits placed farther apart stay flatter and get crispier.


In the end, when you take a sheet of hot biscuits out of the oven, split one open and add a pat of butter, you will learn something important about cooking: Biscuits may have once reached mythical proportions. But they are really no mystery at all.


Corriher's soft, cake-like biscuits came from watching her grandmother make them. When her first attempts failed, her grandmother would tell her, "Honey, I guess you forgot to add a touch of grace."


Eventually, Corriher figured out the real secret: a very wet dough, dropped into extra flour for ease of handling, then packed tightly into a cake pan.






MILK BISCUITS: Buttermilk is the most popular; its acid works with the acid in baking powder to create carbon dioxide. But whole milk -- called "sweet milk" in old recipes -- cream, and half-and-half also are common.


BEATEN BISCUITS: Tiny and crisp -- all that beating breaks down the gluten in the dough -- they are usually served with country ham.


ANGEL BISCUITS: Triple-raised with baking powder (or self-rising flour), baking soda and yeast, they get their name from their light texture. They're also called "bride's biscuits," because they're guaranteed not to fail.


CATHEAD BISCUITS: There are several theories. Some say they're big biscuits -- as big as a cat's head. Some say they are drop biscuits with craggy tops that look furry. And some say they are shaped with ridges on the top that look like ears.


SWEET POTATO BISCUITS: Thrifty cooks throw all sorts of leftovers into dough. For these, cooked, mashed sweet potatoes are added to the liquid for a milk biscuit, making a rich, chewy biscuit.


BISCUITS: Home-made and lighter than a feather


(Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2001)


Step By Step


1. Sift together flour and other dry ingredients into a bowl. Add shortening or lard, then work it in lightly with your fingertips. Fine crumbs of fat will yield a tender biscuit; larger, flatter crumbs will create flakes.


2. Stir in the milk or buttermilk with a wooden spoon until dough pulls together but is still wet.


3. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface or pastry cloth. Sprinkle with a little flour if necessary, then gently roll dough or pat it out evenly, until about 1/2 inch thick (about half the depth of the first joint of your index finger).


4. Using a round cutter dipped in flour, cut out biscuits. The biscuits will rise if you twist the cutter, but their tops may be slightly tilted.


5. Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet and bake in a hot oven (usually 425 to 500 degrees). If biscuits are touching, they will rise slightly higher and remain softer. If they are placed farther apart, they will be flatter and crispier.








1 pound fresh green beans

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup blue cheese

Chopped parsley for garnish


Simmer beans in water for 10 minutes, until tender-crisp. Drain well. Meanwhile, prepare sauce over medium heat. Into hot butter, stir flour, salt and pepper until blended. Gradually stir in milk, stirring constantly, until sauce is smooth.


Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the crumbles of blue cheese until blended.




4 or 5 large juicy tomatoes

3 large garlic cloves

1/2 red onion

1 cucumber

Salt, to taste

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

1 loaf day-old French or other country-style bread (3 to 4 cups cubed)

1 bunch watercress


Preparing the vegetables: Rinse the tomatoes and cut out the cores. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise. Put the halves cut-side down on a chopping board. Cut each half lengthwise into 1/2-inch strips. Holding the strips together, cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Put the chopped tomatoes into a large bowl and set aside.


Peel the garlic and cut each clove into tiny lengthwise strips, then hold the strips together and cut crosswise into tiny pieces. Add to the tomatoes in the bowl.


Peel the papery skin off the onion half. Trim off the stem top and root bottom. Place the onion half cut-side down on a cutting board and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips. Holding the strips together, cut them into 1/4-inch pieces. Add the onion to the salad bowl.


Peel the cucumber and cut in half lengthwise down the center. Using a teaspoon, scrape out the seeds and discard. Cut each cucumber half into 4 lengthwise strips, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Add the cucumber pieces to the bowl.

Season the vegetables with salt. Use your hands to toss and mix the vegetables. Taste, and add more salt if the salad tastes flat.


Pour the vinegar into a small bowl. Add the olive oil and whisk to mix well. (Or use a spoon and stir briskly.) Pour the dressing over the salad. Use your hands to toss and mix the salad thoroughly.


Preparing the bread cubes: Using a sharp knife, trim off the crust on the bread. Cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes by cutting first lengthwise then crosswise. Add the bread cubes to the salad.


Toss the salad, using your hands to thoroughly mix ingredients (I rub the bread into some of the salad). If it seems a little dry, add more olive oil and another spoonful or two of vinegar.


Rinse the watercress well, then drain and pat dry. Remove the leaves from the stems and add to the salad. Toss to combine.



(Makes about 12 biscuits)


2 cups all-purpose, low-protein flour

Heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt

31/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sugar, if desired

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

5 tablespoons chilled shortening or lard

7/8 cup buttermilk


Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Add the cold shortening and work all through the flour with your fingertips until all the flour is combined with a bit of fat. Add the buttermilk and stir vigorously until the dough forms a ball.


Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Flouring your hands if necessary, knead lightly for 10 strokes. Stop just as soon as dough begins to look smooth.


(Sprinkle some additional flour on the dough if needed, but add as little as possible.)


Pat dough out into a rectangle, about 8 by 7 by 3/4 inches. Using a cutter dipped in flour, cut into 2-inch rounds. (Dough scraps can be pulled together and patted out again once.)


Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake in an oven preheated to 500 degrees for about 8 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve hot.




(Makes 4 servings)


1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 teaspoon rubbed sage

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

4 lean boneless center-cut pork chops, 1/2-inch thick

2 teaspoons butter


Combine paprika, salt, sage, cayenne and black peppers and garlic powder; coat chops well on both sides with this seasoning mixture.


Heat butter over high heat just until it starts to brown.


Put chops in pan, reduce heat to medium.


Fry on both sides until dark brown, about 6 to 8 minutes.





1 13.8-ounce can sliced ripe olives, drained and minced

11/2 teaspoons coarse mustard

31/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil (divided)

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 4- to 6-ounce farm-raised catfish fillets,1/2inch thick

2 tablespoons butter

2 ounces prosciutto or country ham, julienned

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped

3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted (see note)

4 1/2-inch slices French bread


In a small bowl, mix together olives, mustard and 11/2 teaspoons olive oil. Set aside.


Heat oven to 250 degrees.


In a small bowl, stir together 2 teaspoons olive oil, hot sauce and lemon juice. Brush mixture on both sides of catfish.


Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add catfish fillets, 2 at a time. Cook about 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until brown, turning only once. Repeat with remaining fillets.


Transfer to a baking dish and keep warm in oven.


Over medium heat, melt butter in the same skillet. When lightly browned, add prosciutto and saute until heated through, about 1 minute. Remove from heat; add capers and almonds.


Just before serving, toast French bread and spread with black olive mixture. Place a piece of toast on each plate, top with catfish, and spoon the prosciutto-butter sauce over it.


Note: To toast nuts, heat in a dry skillet over medium heat until they start to brown. Stir occasionally. Be careful not to scorch them.



Makes 3 1/2 pints

9 cups pitted tart cherries, coarsely chopped (see Note)

1 large onion, chopped

1 small orange, chopped, peel and all

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon coarse (kosher) salt

1/2 cup water


In a 5-quart (or larger) stockpot, combine all ingredients except cherries and bring to boil. Add cherries and boil gently, uncovered, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 30 to 40 minutes. Pour into sterilized canning jars and seal according to manufacturer directions.


Note: For a low-tech way to pit cherries, unfold a paper clip from the center. Depending on cherry size, insert small or large loop through the top of the cherry, loosen the pit and pull it out.






11/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup margarine or butter

1/2 cup sourdough starter

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Cherry filling:


11/2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened pitted tart red cherries

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch




1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup chopped nuts

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup margarine


Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Cut in 1/2 cup margarine until mixture resembles fine crumbs.


In a small bowl, mix sourdough starter, egg and vanilla. Add to flour mixture. Stir until just moistened. Spread half of the batter in a greased 9-inch-by-9-inch baking pan. Set aside.


To make the cherry filling, bring cherries to boiling in a saucepan. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl; add to cherry mixture. Cook and stir until bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Cool completely.


When filling is cool, spread on top of batter in the baking pan. Drop remaining batter in small mounds over filling.


To make topping, mix oats, brown sugar, nuts and flour in a small bowl. Cut in margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden.




2 tablespoons butter

4 ounces cream cheese

3 tablespoons minced fresh herbs (such as chervil, chives, dill, marjoram, parsley,

tarragon or thyme)

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the butter in a baking dish and heat in the oven just until the butter has melted. Watch carefully so it doesn't burn.


Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Using about 2 tablespoons of the mixture for each piece of chicken, rub the mixture under the skin, spreading the mixture to coat the meat evenly.


Transfer the chicken to the preheated pan. Brush the top of each piece generously with the melted butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Roast the chicken, uncovered, until cooked through, or juices no longer run pink, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve immediately.





Chocolate Hazelnut Baklava:

2 cups hazelnuts, lightly toasted (see note)

13/4 cups granulated sugar (divided)

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 cup clarified butter (see note)

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

12 sheets phyllo dough

3/4 cup honey

3/4 cup water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Fresh lavender blossoms for garnish (see note)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.


In a food processor, finely grind hazelnuts with1/4cup sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.


In a small saucepan over low heat, thoroughly combine clarified butter and cocoa, keeping warm as you assemble dessert. Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with the butter mixture.


Lay a sheet of phyllo in the pan. Half of the sheet will be hanging out of the pan. Brush the phyllo with the butter mixture and fold the phyllo in half to make 2 layers. Repeat layering process with 3 more sheets of phyllo. You will now have 8 layers. Spread top with half of the hazelnut mixture.


Repeat the layering process with 2 more sheets of phyllo. Spread the remaining hazelnut mixture on top. Repeat the layering process with remaining 6 sheets of phyllo.


Lightly score the top of the phyllo in a diamond pattern. You should end up with 24 diamonds and a few triangles around the edges.


Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until the diamond shapes puff up and the edges start to get dark. Let cool and cut through all layers following the scored lines.


In a heavy saucepan, combine the honey, water, remaining 11/2 cups sugar, lemon juice and corn syrup. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat immediately and gently simmer 3 to 4 minutes. Pour the hot syrup over the cooled baklava. Allow the syrup to soak in for at least 1 hour before assembling dessert.


Note: To toast hazelnuts, spread shelled nuts in dry skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, about 10 minutes or until skins crack. Be careful not to burn. To remove skins, rub warm nuts with a rough cloth.


Note: To make clarified butter, melt butter over low heat. When completely melted, let stand for a few minutes, allowing the milk solids to settle to the bottom. Skim the butter fat from the top and place in a container; this clarified, drawn butter is ready for use.


Note: Use edible flowers that have been organically grown or have not been sprayed with any chemicals.


Lavender Chantilly


1 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon dried or fresh lavender blossoms (see note)

1 tablespoon granulated sugar


In a small heavy saucepan, bring cream and lavender blossoms just to a boil. Remove from the heat right away and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain cream through a sieve and chill thoroughly.


Before serving, whip cream, adding sugar after soft peaks form. Whip until peaks form again.


Note: Use edible flowers that have been organically grown or have not been sprayed with any chemicals. You can find lavender in some natural foods stores or specialty stores.

Hazelnut Bark


8 ounces bittersweet chocolate

2 cups hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed and roughly chopped (see note)


Melt and temper chocolate. (To temper, heat chocolate to 115-120 degrees, then cool to 88 to 91 degrees.) Stir in hazelnuts. Spread mixture onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Allow to set until hard, about 10 to 15 minutes. Break the bark into 12 irregular pieces.


Note: To toast hazelnuts, spread shelled nuts in dry skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, about 10 minutes or until skins crack. Be careful not to burn. To remove skins, rub warm nuts with a rough cloth.


To assemble dessert: Place 2 baklava diamonds on each plate. Pipe a rosette of Lavender Chantilly next to the baklava. Stand a piece of Hazelnut Bark in the Lavender Chantilly. Garnish with fresh lavender blossoms.




The chocolate sauce on top of the cake magically sinks down and appears as a sauce at the bottom of the cake.


1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar or Baker's Sugar (divided)

2/3 cup rice flour

11/4 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder

5 tablespoons unsweetened dairy-free, gluten-free cocoa (divided)

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup dairy-free margarine

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar (9 tablespoons)

1/4 cup rum

1 cup boiling water


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 3-pint souffle dish with margarine and dust with the 1 tablespoon superfine sugar.


Sift together flour, baking powder, 1 tablespoon cocoa and salt into a large bowl, then mix in the walnuts.


In another large bowl, beat the margarine and1/2cup superfine sugar until pale and light; add eggs and vanilla. Mix into sifted dry ingredients.


Spoon mixture into prepared souffle dish and level off.


In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar with the remaining 4 tablespoons cocoa and the rum; add boiling water and stir to dissolve. Pour the sauce over the cake and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sponge is just firm and the sauce has sunk to the bottom.


Serve warm.




Cinnabon bigwigs were looking for a new baked cinnamon product that customers could eat on the go. In June of 2000, they found it. Bakers brushed Danish dough with a flavored cinnamon butter, then rolled the dough in a generous cinnamon/sugar coating. These golden brown little sticks of cinnamony delight are sold in bags of 5 or 10 from the company's famous cinnamon roll outlets; most likely found in a mall or airport near you. Now you can create your own version of the tasty pastries at home, and you won't even have to make the dough from scratch. Just grab yourself a tube of Pillsbury crescents and all you have to do is roll up the dough and coat it.


From Top Secret Recipes:


1 tube Pillsbury crescent dinner rolls (8)

1 stick (1/2 cup) margarine, melted

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

non-stick cooking spray


1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon


Origami with dough: Fold crescent triangles into rectangles, then roll and stretch with exuberance


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Separate the dough into eight portions. Fold over two of the corners of the triangular dough piece so that it forms a rectangle. Roll the dough on a flat surface to make a tube, then twist the tube a couple of times, and stretch it a little longer. Repeat for all the dough triangles.

3. Combine the melted margarine, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla in a small bowl.

4. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon for the coating in another small bowl.

5. Brush the melted butter mixture over the top and bottom of the dough sticks. Toss the dough into the sugar and cinnamon coating mixture. Roll the dough around with your fingers so that it is well-coated. Place the coated dough sticks on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Spray the top of the sticks with a light coating of the spray.

6. Bake for 8 minutes or until the sticks are is golden brown. Serve hot or reheat them in the microwave before serving if the sticks have cooled. These puppies are best served hot! (http://www.topsecretrecipes.com) Makes 8 sticks.



1 7-gram package wheat-free instant yeast

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons honey

13/4 cups warm water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

6 cups oat flour

2 heaping teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 to 2 tablespoons sesame or sunflower seeds


Grease 2 nonstick 81/2-by-41/2-inch loaf pans.


Place the yeast, salt and honey in a large bowl with the warm water and oil. Mix in the oat flour and cinnamon. Add sesame or sunflower seeds.


Place mixture on lightly floured board and knead with floured hands for 10 minutes.


Divide dough into halves and shape to fit into the pans. Cover and set aside in a warm place for about 30 minutes, allowing the dough to rise slightly.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Bake 1 hour or until the bread is firm. Cool on a wire rack and slice.



(Makes about 20 very large rolls)


For the rolls:


1/2 cup warm water

2 packages dry yeast

2 tablespoon sugar

1 (31/2-ounce) package vanilla pudding mix

1/2 cup margarine melted

2 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

6 cups flour

2 cups brown sugar

4 teaspoons cinnamon


For cream cheese frosting:


8 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon milk


To make frosting, mix all ingredients until smooth.


In a bowl, combine water, yeast and sugar. Stir until dissolved. Set aside.


In a large bowl, take pudding mix and prepare according to package directions. Add margarine, eggs and salt. Mix well. Then add yeast mixture. Blend.


Gradually add flour. Knead until smooth. Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled. Punch dough down and let rise again.


Then roll out on floured board until 34-by-21 inches.


Take one cup of soft butter and spread over surface. In bowl, mix 2 cups brown sugar and 4 teaspoons cinnamon. Sprinkle over top.


Roll up very tightly. With a knife, put a notch every 2 inches. Cut with a thread or a knife.


Place on lightly-greased cookie sheet two inches apart. Take your hand and lightly press down on each roll. Cover and let rise until doubled again.


Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove when they start to turn golden. Frost warm rolls with cream cheese frosting.



Makes 14 muffins


For topping:

3 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For batter:

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

2 eggs

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted

3 1/4 cups flour

1 cup light brown sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


To prepare topping: Place all ingredients (butter through cinnamon) with butter on top, in a food processor. Pulse a few times until mixture is coarse and crumbly. You can do this by hand if you prefer. Set aside.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a muffin pan with nonstick spray.


To prepare batter: Whisk buttermilk and eggs together. Stir buttermilk mixture and melted butter until well mixed.


Stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Pour buttermilk/butter mixture over flour mixture, stirring just to moisten. Scoop 1/4 cup of batter into prepared muffin tin (the tin will be almost full). Sprinkle with topping, covering top of each muffin completely. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out mostly clean, with a few moist crumbs attached.


Cool for 3 minutes and turn out onto a cooling rack.



Serves 4

For the vinaigrette:

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons strong freshly brewed coffee

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the steak:

2 tablespoons ground coffee (preferably French roast; do not use flavored coffee)

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 clove garlic, peeled and halved

1 1/2 pounds sirloin (about 1 inch thick)

1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat the grill or broiler.


For the vinaigrette: On a flat surface, sprinkle garlic and salt to taste and, using the side of a chef's knife, a fork or a pestle, mash to form a paste. Transfer to a small bowl. Add the coffee and vinegar and whisk to combine. Season with pepper to taste; set aside.


For the steak: In a shallow bowl, combine the ground coffee and pepper. Set aside.


Rub the cut side of the garlic over both sides of a steak, then rub both sides with oil, sprinkle with the coffee-pepper mixture and season with salt to taste. Repeat with the remaining steaks.


Grill or broil the steaks, turning once, to the desired degree of doneness, 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium. Transfer the steak to a carving board and set aside to rest for 3 minutes. Carve the steak across the grain into thin slices, then arrange on individual plates and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.



Jack's 'secret' is out of the box



(Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2001)


Confession time: When I visit my hometown -- away from the bright lights and culinary delights of Wichita -- I hook up with ol' school buddies.


And at the end of the night, it's not fancy food we crave. It's a Jack in the Box taco. Or three.


>From the time my friends and I could drive, pulling through Jack in the Box for a bagful of these gloriously greasy packets of meat, cheese and mildly tangy sauce was a frequent end to a night out.


Their preparation is unique: Instead of simply filling a pre-cooked shell, Jack in the Box workers drop the tortilla and its filling into the hot grease all at once (lettuce, sauce and a half-slice of American cheese are added later).


The result is a taco that's crisp around the edges and mushy in the middle. Don't ask me why that's so good.


What got me thinking about all this was a news release from Jack in the Box's San Diego headquarters.


"One of life's mysterious pleasures," it was headlined: "Everything you've always wanted to know about the Jack in the Box taco -- but were afraid to ask."


According to the company, it sold 315 million tacos last year, most of them to men between the ages of 18 and 34.


The tacos, noted the release, have "a reputation for curing whatever ails you, especially after an overindulgent night on the town." Sounds about right.


Some other Jacktoids:


St. Louis, San Diego, Phoenix and Texas are the top markets for the tacos.


The taco recipe hasn't been altered since its creation in the 1950s.


And the tacos are so popular (especially at two for 99 cents, the price since 1995) that Jack in the Box rarely advertises them outside its restaurants.


Jack in the Box grinds its own beef (another youthful illusion shattered) and cooks it in a spice mixture. A machine fills and folds the tacos, which are then flash-frozen for shipment to the restaurants.


Sadly for some, unbelievably, but I did find this recipe for a "look-alike" Jack in the Box taco on a Web site: SOAR (the Searchable Online Archives of Recipes). It's pretty good.



1 (9-inch) baked pie shell

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt

3 cups hot milk

3 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest of 1 large lemon, finely grated

2 cups finely grated fresh coconut (see Note)

1 cup heavy cream, well chilled

Prepare and bake pie shell; let cool completely before filling.


Combine sugar, flour and salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Keep stirring while bringing the mixture to a low boil. Boil for two minutes, then remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks with a whisk or electric beater until very light, about two minutes. Stir half of hot mixture into egg yolks, then combine with rest of mixture in saucepan. Cook pie filling over low heat, stirring often with a whisk, until it boils and is thick enough to form a soft mound when dropped from a spoon, about five minutes.


Pour pie filling into a medium bowl, then stir in vanilla extract, half the coconut and lemon zest.


Place plastic wrap directly on filling and refrigerate one hour. Then, pour filling into pie shell and refrigerate three hours, or overnight.


To serve, whip cream and spread over filling. Top with remaining coconut.


Note: You can buy canned or packaged coconut, but nothing can match the taste of freshly grated coconut.


Work over a medium bowl to catch the coconut ``juice.''


Center coconut in the palm of one hand, and in the other, take a hammer. As you rotate the coconut like a ball, firmly knock around the coconut's equator. The time it takes depends on how aggressive you are with the hammer.


Pry coconut ``meat'' out of shell with a small, sharp paring knife.


If desired, peel off the dark skin with a vegetable peeler. The skin won't affect the flavor, but it's usually done for visual effect.


For desserts or candies where a delicate, fluffy texture is desired, it's best to finely shred the coconut meat on a hand grater's small holes (but not the tiny ones for grating citrus zest or nutmeg). Don't use the larger holes; coarsely grated coconut has an unpleasant texture.




Few products compare to cooked butternut squash for convenience. Peeling and seeding a whole winter squash is a time-consuming task, whereas opening the package takes but moments. The amount of ginger recommended below is conservative. Add more if you like your soup spicy.


3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 10-ounce packages frozen cooked butternut squash

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

About 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground ginger, plus additional to taste

1/2 cup whipping cream


In a medium pot over medium heat, combine the broth and frozen butternut squash. Cook, spooning the broth over the squash, until the squash has defrosted, about 12 minutes. Add the applesauce, salt to taste, sugar and ginger and whisk to combine. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the cream and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Taste and season accordingly.









2 medium shrimp

1 green onion

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 egg white

1/4 teaspoon sesame seeds

1/8 teaspoon salt

Small square won ton wrappers

Pineapple Coulis (sauce):

1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled and trimmed

2 cloves garlic

1 shallot

Juice from 1/2 lime

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1/2 fresh jalapeno chile (see note) WEAR GLOVES

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 6-ounce can pineapple juice

Seaweed Salsa:

2 sheets nori (dried seaweed; see note)

1/4 head napa cabbage

1 carrot

1/2 red bell pepper

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

11/2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (see note)

Salt and pepper to taste


To make siu mai: Combine shrimp, green onion, ginger, garlic, egg white, sesame seeds and salt in food processor and pulse until smooth. Place 11/2 tablespoons of mixture in the center of a won ton wrapper. Dampen the edge and pinch and pleat it around the edge of the filling, leaving the top open, like a basket. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Steam siu mai in a bamboo steamer or metal steamer basket, with water at a low boil, until they are firm, about 4 to 5 minutes.


To make coulis: Whisk together brown sugar and sesame oil and toss pineapple in the mixture until well-coated. Grill or broil the pineapple until the sugar caramelizes and the fruit is well-browned. Cool.


In a blender, combine pineapple, garlic, shallot, lime juice, cilantro, mint, jalapeno and salt; puree. If too thick, thin with pineapple juice.


To make salsa: Chiffonade (roll and cut into very thin strips) the nori and cabbage. Julienne the carrot and red pepper. Place vegetables in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine sesame oil, rice vinegar and chili garlic sauce. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


To serve: Pour a puddle of pineapple sauce on each plate and add siu mai. Top with a heaping tablespoon of salsa.


Note: Wear gloves when handling fresh, canned, dried or pickled chilies; the oils can cause a burning sensation on your skin.


Note: Find nori and chili garlic sauce in Asian grocery stores and the Asian section of many supermarkets.




The secret to this wonderful broth is the fresh ginger and garlic. You can substitute canned broth, but be sure to simmer it with ginger and garlic at least 30 to 45 minutes to impart the special Asian flavor.


4 cloves garlic (divided)

21/2 pounds raw chicken bones or necks, wings and backs (see note)

3 quarts water

4 1/4-inch-thick slices fresh ginger

Salt to taste

12 raw tiger shrimp (21 to 25 count), peeled and deveined

31/2 tablespoons sliced green onions (divided)

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 2-inch piece celery rib, chopped

1 2-inch piece carrot, chopped

2 tablespoons dry sherry

1/4 cup stir-fry sauce or soy sauce

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil

1 package won ton wrappers

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup julienned carrot

1/2 cup thinly sliced bok choy

6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup sliced snow peas

Toasted sesame seeds for garnish (see note)


Peel and smash 3 cloves of garlic. Place them in a large pot with the chicken, water and ginger. Bring to a boil and skim any residue from the top of the broth. Reduce heat, cover and simmer slowly for about 2 hours. Strain broth and season to taste with salt. Discard chicken bones.


Skim off fat from the top of the broth (or refrigerate overnight and remove hardened fat).


While the broth is simmering, chop the remaining garlic clove. Place it in the bowl of a food processor with the shrimp,1/2tablespoon green onions, grated ginger, celery, chopped carrot, sherry, stir-fry sauce, cornstarch and sesame oil. Pulse the food processor until a moderately fine texture is achieved. The mixture should not be a smooth puree.


Lay the won ton wrappers on a clean counter. Brush the edges of each wrapper with a little beaten egg. Place a rounded teaspoon of filling in the center of each wrapper. Bring all 4 corners of the wrappers together above the filling and pinch together firmly. Place on a paper towel-lined plate, cover and chill until ready to use. This should make at least 30 won tons. Make ahead and freeze if desired.


To assemble the soup, bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large pot and gently add the won tons. Slowly simmer for 5 to 8 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked and the wrappers are tender. About 2 minutes after adding the won tons, add the julienned carrot, bok choy, shiitake mushrooms and snow peas.


Divide soup and won tons among 6 soup bowls. Garnish with the remaining 3 tablespoons sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds.


Note: Low-sodium canned chicken broth can be substituted for the chicken and water, but be sure to simmer with the ginger and garlic for at least 30 to 45 minutes.


Note: To toast seeds, heat in a dry skillet over medium heat until they start to brown. Stir occasionally. Be careful not to burn.



About 2 cups uncooked gluten-free elbow or shell pasta (8 ounces)

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon pepper

21/4 cups nonfat milk

11/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (6 ounces)

Corn flake crumbs (optional)


Spray a 2-quart casserole with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


Cook pasta in boiling water until slightly undercooked. Drain and set aside.


In medium saucepan, combine cornstarch, salt, mustard and pepper. Stir in milk until smooth. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat and boil 1 minute.


Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted. Add pasta and turn into casserole. Sprinkle with corn flake crumbs.


Bake uncovered for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.



Serves 6

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup kosher salt

8 juniper berries (crushed)

1 cup vodka

1 bunch chopped dill leaves

1 (12-ounce) salmon fillet with skin on

For garnish:

2 plain bagels, split

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons capers

6 ounces cream cheese, softened

Dill sprigs


Stir brown sugar, salt, juniper berries, vodka and chopped dill together until sugar dissolves. (The kosher salt will not dissolve.) Pour mixture into a container that will hold the salmon fillet. Place salmon fillet, skin side up in the mixture.


Cover tightly and place in refrigerator. Cure for 48 hours total, turning fillet over about every 12 hours.


After 2 days, rinse the stiff salmon quickly under cold running water. Pat dry and on a 45-degree angle, slice as thin as possible.


Toast bagel halves and cut into bite-size pieces. Arrange salmon and bagels on a platter with small bowls of onions, capers and cream cheese. Garnish with dill sprigs.




Good golly, it's good ol' gumbo



(Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2001)


Looking for a secret recipe for that special someone? Try the warm seductive flavor of gumbo.


What is a gumbo? It's a thick stew or soup that may be filled with vegetables, fish, poultry, meats and sausage, the exact combination being subject to the whims of the chef.


GUMBO BASICS: There are two types of gumbo, those that are thickened with okra and those thickened with filé powder. Both are thickened with roux -- cooked flour and oil -- at the beginning of the preparation but added to or finished by the methods below to achieve that special gumbo consistency.


OKRA VERSIONS: Use this African vegetable to cook with the gumbo. It releases a juice that thickens, producing a special texture. Okra used to be for only spring or summer gumbo because of the seasonality of the vegetable. Now, you can make it year-round, using frozen okra.


Filé powder is my preference. It is made from the dried leaves of the sassafras tree, which are ground into a powder and added at the last second as a thickener.


WHY IT TASTES SO GOOD: The base of a great gumbo is a great stock.


This stock may be vegetable based for vegetable gumbos, seafood based for seafood gumbos, poultry for poultry gumbo and veal for heartier meat gumbos. The stock you use should be as light in flavor as the lightest ingredient for the best overall flavor balance.


ADVANTAGES: Modern gumbos are full flavored with a fraction of the fat. The real advantage can be a wonderful blend of vegetables with a lesser volume of meat or fish. Modern gumbos fit right into a great Mediterranean-style diet that emphasizes a larger intake of plant-based foods.


PICKING YOUR INGREDIENTS: The best gumbos are those that use the best ingredients from the marketplace, so let your grocery store decide for you. In your produce department, look for your favorite vegetables that will go together then select your poultry or seafood to match.


PREPARING YOUR ROUX: Roux is flour cooked in butter to develop the background nutty flavor and provide the thickening to make the soup into a gumbo. The standard method is to heat the butter in a heavy skillet, add the flour and cook while stirring until the color of choice is developed. This method contributes significant fat to the dish.


A lighter, more modern version of the roux can be accomplished by using half or a quarter of the butter or similar amount of olive oil, with the same technique.


THE COOKING BEGINS: Transfer the roux to a large saucepan that will hold all of your gumbo ingredients. Add the seasonings and return the roux to a medium-high burner. Slowly add the hot stock while whisking to prevent the formation of lumps. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the flavor develops and the major garnishes are properly cooked.


TRICKS OF THE TRADE: The real secret, which almost all accomplished gumbo chefs will keep from you, is to let the gumbo age overnight for the flavors to marry. Make the gumbo and refrigerate for up to two days. The hardest part will be keeping your hands or spoons out of it while it matures.


MIX AND MATCH: There are so many wonderful gumbo combinations. Here are a few to get the creative juices flowing. Try duck with duck sausage, chicken with spicy andouille sausage, crab and oysters, shrimp and crab, crawfish and chicken.



(Makes 12 tacos)


1 pound ground beef

2/3 cup refried beans

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons chili powder

1/4 cup mild taco sauce

12 soft corn tortillas, softened in microwave

3 cups cooking oil

6 slices American cheese

1 head lettuce, chopped fine


Slowly brown meat over low heat, using a wooden spoon to stir and chop meat until it is very fine; drain the fat.


Add the refried beans and use the spoon to create a smooth-textured mixture. Add salt, chili powder and 2 tablespoons taco sauce. Remove from heat.


In another skillet heat 1/4 inch of oil until hot (test with a small piece of tortilla; it should bubble when dropped into the oil).


Spread 2 tablespoons of the beef-bean mixture onto the center of each tortilla. Fold the tortillas over and press so that the filling acts as an adhesive holding the sides together.


Drop each taco into the pan and fry on both sides until crispy.


When cooked, remove tacos from the oil and drain on rack or paper towels. When cooled slightly, pry open about 1 inch and add 1/2 slice cheese and some lettuce. Top with about 1/2 teaspoon taco sauce.



(Makes 4 servings)


1/3 cup chicken broth

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/3 cup cooking oil

11/2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (see note)


Make a sauce by combining the chicken broth, lemon juice, soy sauce, brown sugar and lemon zest in a small saucepan; set aside.


In a bowl, beat the egg lightly with the salt and white pepper.


Dredge the chicken breasts with the cornstarch; dip into the egg batter and dredge in the cornstarch again. Let chicken pieces stand for 5 minutes. Just before cooking, shake off the excess cornstarch.


In a wok, heat oil until hot. Pan-fry the chicken, a couple of pieces at a time, turning occasionally, until golden-brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove with slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.


Bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat; add cornstarch solution and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens.


Cut the chicken across the grain into 1/2-inch slices. Place the chicken on a serving plate. Pour the sauce on top and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.


Note: To toast sesame seeds, place seeds in a small, dry pan and cook over low heat, swirling the pan to expose all surfaces to the heat. When the seeds look slightly colored and release their aroma, after 3 to 4 minutes, remove them from heat immediately, to avoid burning them.



Makes 1 1/2 cups


5 lemons

1 1/2 cups olive oil

Strip of lemon zest, optional


Slice lemons and finely chop, including peel. Transfer to a bowl and add oil. Let stand overnight.


Set strainer lined with two layers of cheesecloth over a bowl. Pour oil through strainer. Gather up cheesecloth and squeeze to extract as much oil as possible. Let stand until oil and lemon juice have separated. Spoon off oil into a jar or bottle or carefully draw oil into a turkey baster and transfer to a bottle. Discard lemon juice. Add length of lemon zest if desired, and seal. Store in refrigerator.




2 cups all-purpose flour

Pinch salt

3/4 cup boiling water

3 tablespoons dark sesame oil


Toss flour and salt in bowl; gradually add boiling water, stirring until dough clumps. Turn out onto floured work surface and knead until dough is springy and no longer sticky (about 5 minutes). Cover with plastic film; set aside 30 minutes.


Divide dough in half; cover half with towel. Roll the other half into a 1/4-inch-thick sheet. Cut out 8 rounds, each 21/2 to 3 inches in diameter. Lightly brush 1 round with oil; top with an unoiled round. Roll the double pancake into a 7-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick; cover with towel and set aside. Repeat with remaining rounds. Then repeat with remaining half of dough.


Heat heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Place 1 double pancake in skillet; cook on both sides until blisters form (about 45 seconds per side). Remove from pan; while warm, peel apart to make 2 thin pancakes. Place in basket steamer; steam over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Serve hot.



(no cow's milk)

Makes 4 servings


4 medium potatoes


2 tablespoons dairy-free margarine

Pepper to taste

1/4 cup rice milk, soy milk or goat milk


Put potatoes in large pot, cover with water and add salt. Bring to simmer, cover and cook 20 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserts easily in the potatoes. Drain and transfer to a bowl.


With a potato masher or fork, mash the potatoes and add margarine, and salt and pepper to taste. Add rice milk. Mash or whip vigorously until the mixture is smooth.




In the 16th century, the Portuguese introduced chilies to Southeast Asia, and along came a lot of other spices and ingredients. However, some claim this curry originated in Persia. Nevertheless, Thais have elevated the dish to another level.


Massaman curry paste, Thai fish sauce, tamarind juice concentrate and palm sugar are available at Asian markets or in the Asian-food sections of super markets.


1 19-ounce can coconut milk (chef Bo Kline prefers Mae Ploy brand; divided)

2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 cups water

3 to 4 tablespoons Massaman curry paste

6 to 7 tablespoons Thai fish sauce

5 tablespoons tamarind juice concentrate

1/4 to1/2pound grated or chopped palm sugar, or to taste

1 cup sliced carrot

1 cup cubed (1-inch squares) potato

1 cup diced onion

1 tablespoon peanuts

1 to 2 bay leaves (optional)

1 tablespoon fried shallots (optional; see note)

1 tablespoon toasted cardamom seeds (see note)

Cooked jasmine rice


Open the can of coconut milk and carefully spoon out 1 cup of the thick coconut cream from the top of the can; set aside.


In a medium pot, stir together remaining coconut milk (the thin portion) from the can, beef cubes and water. Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce heat slightly and continue simmering until the beef is tender, about 11/2 hours.


In a small pan, heat the reserved thick coconut milk over medium heat. Add the curry paste and whisk to dissolve. If the curry paste seems to resist dissolving (if it is sticky and gooey) you may need to add some of the liquid from the beef mixture. Once the curry paste is dissolved, add the fish sauce, tamarind concentrate and palm sugar. Simmer to blend flavors.


Add the curry sauce to the beef and simmer for a few minutes. Add the carrot, potato, onion, peanuts and bay leaves, if desired. Simmer until the potato is tender. Add fried shallots and toasted cardamom and remove from heat. Serve over cooked jasmine rice.


Note: To fry shallots, peel and slice very thin. Pour 1 inch of vegetable oil in a skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and fry until golden brown and crispy, about 5 to 10 minutes.


Note: To toast cardamom seeds, remove seeds from pods. Place in a dry skillet and heat over medium heat, shaking the pan, until fragrant. Be careful not to burn.




Tofu replaces meat or poultry in this colorful vegetarian filling for Mandarin Pancakes (see accompanying recipe). Pass a spicy peanut sauce for diners to add at the table.

1 teaspoon peanut oil

1 cup grated carrot

2 cups firm tofu, cut into small chunks

2 green onions, cut into diagonal slices

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons dry sherry

1/2 teaspoon honey

2 tablespoons vegetable broth or water

Bottled peanut sauce (see note)


In a wok or skillet, heat peanut oil; saute carrots and tofu for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add green onions, ginger, sherry, honey and broth; increase heat until mixture starts to bubble.


Cook, uncovered, until most of the liquid has evaporated.


Use about 2 tablespoons filling per pancake. Serve with peanut sauce.


Note: Look for peanut sauce at Chinese markets or in the Asian foods section of most supermarkets.



(8 servings)


3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed

3 large eggs, beaten

2/3 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

1 (10-ounce) package mushrooms, sliced. Any variety.

3 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, divided

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs


Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine first five ingredients, let cool. In a large greased skillet, cook mushrooms and 2 tablespoons chives, stirring, five minutes or browned. Cool.


Scoop out 1/2 cup potatoes; flatten into 3-inch disks. Top with 1 tablespoons mushrooms. Roll into 4-inch cylinders, wrapping mushrooms inside.


Coat with remaining chives and breadcrumbs. Chill 30 minutes. Bake 30 minutes on greased baking sheet.



2 pounds red potatoes -- sliced 1/2" thick

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 envelope onion soup mix

Combine all ingredients in a large plastic bag; shake until well coated. Empty bag into an ungreased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F. for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and bake 15 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender. Yield: 8 servings.




Half a roast duck from a Chinese take-out or specialty market will yield enough shredded meat for this dish. If you prefer, use cooked, boneless dark-meat turkey or chicken, beef or pork instead of duck. If necessary, substitute small flour tortillas for the Mandarin Pancakes. Wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and heat in a low oven until they're warm and pliable.


2 tablespoons peanut oil

1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

1 tablespoon hot bean sauce (see note)

1 cup thinly julienned carrot, blanched 1 minute

1 cup julienned cabbage

1 cup thinly julienned snow peas

2 cups shredded roasted duck meat

2 green onions, shredded or sliced

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon soy sauce, or more to taste

Dark sesame oil (optional)

Hot chile oil (optional)

8 warm Mandarin Pancakes (see accompanying recipe) or small flour tortillas

Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

4 tablespoons hoisin sauce


Preheat large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add peanut oil, ginger and garlic; stir-fry until fragrant (about 10 seconds). Add hot bean sauce; cook 5 seconds longer. Increase heat to high. Add carrot, cabbage and snow peas; stir-fry until cabbage begins to wilt and snow peas turn bright green (about 30 seconds). Add duck, green onions, sugar and soy sauce; stir-fry until heated through (about 30 seconds). Season with a few drops each sesame oil and hot chile oil, if desired. Spoon mixture onto warmed serving plate.


At the table, spread 2 to 3 tablespoons filling into center of each Mandarin Pancake, add cilantro leaves and some hoisin sauce. Fold filled pancake into a cone or burrito shape for eating.


Note: Look for hot bean sauce at Chinese markets or in the Asian foods section of most supermarkets.



(6 servings)


1 (4-pound) flank steak, butterflied

1 cup fresh spinach, chopped

1 cup crisp bacon

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 cup red and yellow bell peppers, diced

6 cloves of roasted garlic, crushed


In a large skillet, cook bacon until just done but not crisp. Drain on paper towels. Score steak by making shallow cuts at one-inch intervals, diagonally across steak in a diamond pattern. Repeat on second side.


With a meat mallet, pound steak into a 12-by-8-inch rectangle, working from center to edge. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange bacon lengthwise on steak.


Spread spinach, pepper and garlic over bacon. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Roll up from a short side. Secure with wooden picks at 1-inch intervals, starting 1/2 inch from one end.


Grill or broil to desired doneness. Cut between picks into 8 slices.



1 (1 pound) loaf frozen bread dough, thawed

1 egg, beaten

4 ounces sliced pepperoni sausage

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet. Roll frozen bread dough out into a rectangle. Brush dough with beaten egg. Arrange pepperoni, mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese over the dough. Sprinkle on the

Italian seasoning. Roll up dough like a jelly roll and pinch seam to seal; place, seam side down, on prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until golden.



(also called hoe cakes or corn pone)

Makes about 12 cakes


1 cup yellow or white cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda (optional)

Hot water

6 tablespoons bacon drippings or vegetable oil for frying


Place cornmeal, salt and baking soda, if using, into a large, shallow bowl or glass baking dish. Add hot water and stir until you have a stiff batter.


Heat 2 tablespoons bacon drippings in a large, heavy skillet, preferably cast iron. The drippings should get hot but not smoke.


Scoop out 1 heaping tablespoon of batter at a time, flatten top and bottom, then lay gently in hot skillet. Fry cakes about 1 1/2 minutes on each side, turning once. Make sure they are nicely browned. Transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels. Add more drippings and continue cooking cakes. Adjust heat as necessary. Serve hot.


These cakes are excellent with fried fish or collard greens. Or serve as a breakfast bread with butter, molasses or Alaga syrup.



Serves 4

2 medium zucchini

1 red bell pepper

2 jalapeños (or to taste)

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

2 cups polenta or corn meal

5 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Salt to taste salad greens

Salsa cruda, salsa verde or dressing of your choice


Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and grill to a light char. Also, grill bell pepper and jalapeños until well charred. Place grilled peppers in a paper bag, closing tightly. Allow peppers to steam. Once they have cooled, peel and discard charred peel. (When dealing with jalapeño or other spicy peppers, wear gloves.) Remove caps and stems from jalapeños and bell pepper; split peppers in quarters lengthwise and remove seeds and veins. (Or leave jalapeño seeds in for a much spicier version.)


Spray a 9-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with waxed paper, with a bit of excess draping over the rim. Bring stock to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Pour in polenta in a steady stream and stir continuously for 3-4 minutes until it has thickened. Add Parmesan and mix well. Pour one-third of polenta mixture into loaf pan and spread evenly. (You will be layering the terrine in this order: polenta, vegetables, polenta, vegetables, polenta.) Place half the vegetables on the polenta, spreading evenly. Pour another one-third of the polenta into the pan and arrange remaining vegetables on top. Top off with remaining polenta and smooth with a moistened spatula. Cover terrine with waxed paper and allow to cool. Refrigerate for at least one hour.


Turn out of loaf pan and slice with a serrated knife. Serve over salad greens with salsa cruda, salsa verde, or other dressing of your choice



1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

6 pita breads -- halved

2 medium tomatoes -- diced

3 cups shredded lettuce


1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Dash ground black pepper

In a skillet, brown beef, onion, and green pepper; drain. Add Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, garlic powder, cumin, and Italian seasoning; mix well. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring all the sauce ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Spoon meat mixture into pita halves; top with sauce, tomatoes, and lettuce. Yield: 12 servings.


2 cups water

1 cup raw long-grain rice

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 onion (for about 1 cup chopped)

1 large green bell pepper (for about 11/2 cups chopped)

8 ounces turkey kielbasa sausage

2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic

1 teaspoon Cajun-style seasoning blend

1 141/2-ounce can diced seasoned tomatoes (see note)

1 8-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce

1 15-ounce can red kidney beans


Bring the water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Add the rice, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 17 minutes.


Meanwhile, heat the oil on medium in an extra-deep 12-inch nonstick skillet. Peel and coarsely chop the onion, adding it to the skillet as you chop. Seed the bell pepper, and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Add it to the skillet. Raise the heat to medium-high.


Cut the kielbasa link in half lengthwise. Cut each half into 1/4-inch slices, adding them to the skillet as you cut. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes or until the onions are tender and begin to brown. While the sausage cooks, add the garlic and Cajun seasoning.


Stir in the tomatoes and tomato sauce. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Rinse and drain the beans and add them to the skillet. Stir and simmer until the beans are hot.


Put the rice in a wide bowl or platter, spoon over the sauce and serve at once.


Note: Diced tomatoes come in lots of seasoning variations. This recipe is flexible, but onions, garlic, basil and/or oregano are good.



11/2 to 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, as large as possible Salt

11/2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

2 pork tenderloins (11/2 to 2 pounds total)

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound mushrooms (21/2 cups sliced)

2 cloves garlic

1 medium onion (about1/2pound)

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves or 11/2 teaspoons dried (divided)

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

3/4 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons dark soy sauce

1/2 cup low-fat sour cream

1 tablespoon butter


Peel the potatoes and slice lengthwise. Then cut crosswise into thin slices. Add potatoes and 1 teaspoon salt to a large saucepan. Barely cover the potatoes with hot tap water. Cover pan and cook potatoes over high heat until just tender, about 10 minutes.


Meanwhile, put the oil in a 12-inch saute pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cut the tenderloins crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices at the widest part. Increase the width to 1 inch toward the narrower end. Season with salt and pepper, add to the pan and increase the heat to high.


With the slicing attachment to the food processor in place, slice the mushrooms in 2 or 3 batches. Set aside. Turn the pork over to brown on the other side.


Refit the food processor with the chopping blade. Peel the garlic. With the motor of the food processor running, drop the garlic down the chute. Meanwhile, peel and quarter the onion. Stop the motor of the processor, add the onion and pulse until chopped. Scrape the onion and garlic into the pan with the pork. Add the mushrooms and stir well.


Chop the rosemary if fresh. Sprinkle the pork mixture with 2 teaspoons of the fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon of the dried rosemary (crushed with your fingers) and the flour. Stir well. Add the chicken broth and soy sauce. Stir well, cover and bring to a boil. Uncover and cook for about 3 minutes or until pork is just tender. (Do not overcook.) Season with salt and pepper to taste and add remaining rosemary, if desired.


Meanwhile, warm the sour cream in a microwave oven at 50 percent power for 30 seconds.


As soon as the potatoes are tender, drain and put into the food processor with the sour cream, butter and salt and pepper to taste. Pulse just until combined but not completely smooth. (Do not overprocess.) Serve with the pork.



(Makes 4 servings)


1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

11/2 teaspoon mild paprika

11/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1/4 cup fresh basil leaf, diced, divided

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced

1 green pepper, core and stem removed, cut into dice

1 red bell pepper, core and stem removed, cut into dice

1 cup dry white wine

1 quart reduced-sodium vegetable stock, hot

Sea salt to taste

12 ounces chicken tenders, cut into large dice

12 ounces rock shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 cup plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

Pinch of filé powder


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.


In a small bowl, combine the white pepper, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, paprika, cumin, thyme and about 2 tablespoons of the basil. Reserve.


In a heavy, medium-sized ovenproof skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir to combine. Add the onion and green and red peppers; mix to combine.


Transfer the skillet to the lower rack of the oven. Cook until the flour becomes golden in color, about 30 minutes.


Remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the roux and vegetables into a large saucepan that will hold all the ingredients.Stir the reserved spice and herb mixture into the roux.


Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and slowly add the white wine and the hot stock while stirring to prevent lumps. Adjust the seasonings as necessary with the sea salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes.


Add the chicken pieces, shrimp, tomatoes and remaining basil, cooking until they are done and tender, about 15 minutes. The gumbo should have a luxurious consistency, with a spicy little bite. Adjust the seasonings to your taste.


Mix in a little filé powder to slightly thicken the gumbo. Serve it immediately over rice or refrigerate for up to 2 days for the full gumbo flavor.


COOK'S NOTE: This gumbo is spicy. Reduce the white pepper, black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes seasonings to taste if you want to lower the heat.









11/4 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons snipped fresh rosemary

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter


In a medium mixing bowl stir together the flour, sugar, rosemary, and salt. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs and begins to cling. Form into a ball. Knead the dough in the bowl for about 1 minute until smooth.


On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using desired cookie cutters or a knife, cut into 2 to 21/2-inch diameter shapes. Arrange on an ungreased cookie sheet.


Bake in 350 degree F. oven for 14 to 16 minutes until bottoms just start to brown. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack, and cool. Makes 12 to 14 cookies.



Serves 8


For marinade:

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon prepared wasabi

3 tablespoons Japanese light soy sauce

1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce

3 tablespoons pickled pink ginger, fine julienne

1 pinch freshly ground black pepper

For salmon:

1/2 cup carrots, fine julienne

3/4 cup English cucumbers, small dice

1/3 cup green onions, finely sliced

1/3 cup pea sprouts (available in Asian markets)

5 ounces pearl barley, rinsed and cooked al dente according to package instructions

8-ounce salmon fillet, poached in salted water and shredded into 1/2-inch pieces

16 leaves of butter lettuce, rinsed and dried (for wrapping)


Combine marinade ingredients. Add carrots, cucumbers, green onions, pea sprouts, barley and salmon to marinade. Mix carefully to preserve textures. Refrigerate 30 minutes or more. Drain and reserve liquid as a dipping sauce. Distribute filling evenly among butter lettuce leaves and fold into packages, holding them together with small bamboo skewers if needed. Distribute dipping sauce among eight small dishes.





Once the shrimp is peeled and deveined, this quick recipe can easily be prepared in 15 minutes. Andouille sausage is available in both fresh and smoked versions. You will need the smoked variety here; if you can't find andouille, any spicy smoked sausage will work.


3 tablespoons olive oil (divided)

11/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 cup white wine

4 green onions, root ends and tough green tops removed, thinly sliced

1/2 pound smoked andouille sausage, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4- to

1/2-inch slices

2 cups frozen corn kernels

Freshly ground black pepper to taste


Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Increase the heat to high, add half of the shrimp and saute until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a plate; repeat with another 1 tablespoon of the oil and the remaining shrimp.


With the heat on high, add the wine to the pan, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the green onions. Cook until the onions are softened, about 2 minutes.


Add the sausage and cook, stirring frequently, until the sausage is heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the corn and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover and add the reserved shrimp and pepper to taste. Toss to combine and cook just until the shrimp is heated through. Serve immediately.



Serves 6

4 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

1 large onion, diced

1 large green pepper, diced

1 pound fresh or frozen okra, sliced

1 pound tomatoes, cut into large chunks, and their juice

1/2 cup scallion tops, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound fresh shrimp, shelled and deveined with tails left on

1 cup cooked ham, diced

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup cooked lump crab meat (optional)

5 slices thick-cut bacon, fried crisp (optional)


Pour oil into a large skillet or stockpot, then heat over medium flame. Add diced onion and saute for five minutes. Add diced green pepper and saute eight minutes more. Lower heat if onion browns too fast.


Add okra, tomatoes, half the scallions, salt and pepper and four cups water. Simmer over low heat until okra is tender, about 25 minutes, adding more water if necessary.


Add shrimp, ham, parsley and crab, if using, then simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes or until shrimp are tender. Adjust seasoning, and serve over steaming hot rice in wide soup bowls. Garnish with remaining scallions and bacon.



(Makes 2 loaves, 36 slices)


1 cup sourdough starter

51/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour

1 package active dry yeast

13/4 cups water

3 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons margarine or butter

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda


Bring sourdough starter to room temperature. Combine 21/2 cups of the flour and the yeast in a large bowl.


In a saucepan, heat and stir water, sugar, margarine and salt just until warm (120 to 130 degrees) and margarine almost melts. Add to flour mixture. Add sourdough starter. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes.


Combine 21/2 cups of the flour and the baking soda. Add to yeast mixture. Stir until combined. Using a spoon, stir in as much remaining flour as you can. Turn out onto a floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough, 6 to 8 minutes total. Shape into a ball. Place in a greased bowl, turn once. Cover, let rise in warm place until double, about 45 to 60 minutes.


Punch down dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Cover, let rest 10 minutes. Shape into 2 round loaves. Place on a greased baking sheet. Flatten each slightly to a 6-inch diameter. With a sharp knife, make crisscross slashes across tops of loaves. Cover, let rise until nearly double, about 30 minutes.


Bake in a 375-degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until done. Cover the last 10 minutes, if necessary.


Remove from baking sheet, cool.




Sour power in your dough



(Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2001)


Yeast starters were the leaveners used in bread-making before baking powders and yeasts became commercially available during the 19th century. Made from flour, water, sugar and yeast, they are set aside in a warm place until the yeast ferments and the mixture is foamy.


A portion of the starter is removed and used as the base and leavener for bread. Once fermented, yeast starters can be kept going in the right environment for years by adding equal parts flour and water.


The most famous yeast starter is sourdough starter.


Starter should be refrigerated indefinitely as long as it's replenished every two weeks. Before using or replenishing, it should be brought to room temperature.


If a starter turns orange or pink and develops an unpleasant acrid odor, bacteria have invaded it and the mixture must be discarded.




(Makes about 3 cups)


1 package active dry yeast (do not use quick-rise yeast)


1/2 cup warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees)


2 cups warm water


2 cups all-purpose flour


1 tablespoon sugar or honey


In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Stir in the 2 cups warm water, flour and sugar or honey. Beat until smooth. Cover bowl with cheesecloth. Let stand at room temperature for five to 10 days or until mixture has a fermented aroma, stirring two or three times a day.


(Fermentation time depends on room temperature: A warmer room hastens fermentation.)


To store, transfer sourdough starter to a jar. Cover with cheesecloth and refrigerate. Do not cover jar tightly with a metal lid.


To use starter, bring desired amount to room temperature. Replenish starter after each use by stirring 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup water and 1 teaspoon sugar or honey into remaining starter. Cover, let stand at room temperature at least one day or until bubbly. Refrigerate for later use.


If starter isn't used within 10 days, stir in 1 teaspoon sugar or honey. Repeat every 10 days unless replenished.



6 servings


1 pound black beans

1/8 vegetable oil

2 medium onions, chopped (about 4 cups) use one red and one white)

8 large garlic cloves, chopped

3 jalapeños chilies, seeded, chopped

1/4 cup chili powder (Ancho chili powder)

1 Anaheim pepper, chopped, seeded) (another addition)

4 to. ground cumin

1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with juices, chopped (I use the S & W Spanish ones) which are already chopped)

2-1/2 cups or more of water

1 T. sugar or sugar substitute

1 t. minced canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce

Tortilla chips

Fat Free sour cream

Place beans in large bowl. Add enough water to cover. Let stand overnight. Drain well.


Place beans in large saucepan. Add enough water to cover. Bring to boil and cook until beans are almost tender, about 30 minutes. Drain.


Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add onions, garlic and jalapeños and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes or so. Add chili powder and cumin and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.


Add beans, tomatoes with juices, 2-1/2 cups water and sugar. (I used the bean broth). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes.


Add chipotle to black bean chili. Simmer until chili is very thick, stirring frequently and adding more water by 1/2 cupfuls if chili is dry, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.


Divide tortilla chips among bowl. Ladle chili over chips. Spoon dollop of sour cream atop each and serve hot.



1/4 c Dark brown sugar, packed

2 tb Sugar

1/4 c Water

1/2 ts Allspice

1/4 ts Ginger

1/4 ts Cloves

1/4 ts Nutmeg

1/2 ts Cinnamon

1 1/2 c Pumpkin

Add to whipped cream to garnish a Pumpkin Pie

Combine the two sugars, water, allspice, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon in a 4-cup glass measure. Mix well on high 3 minutes; stir. Add pumpkin and mix well on high 5 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate. Keeps several weeks in refrigerator or can be frozen. Yield: 2 cups Use as you would apple butter



2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 cup apple -- unpeeled, diced

1/4 cup chopped sweet onion

1/4 cup raisins

2 cups torn spinach

2 cups torn romaine lettuce leaves

In a small bowl, combine vinegar, oil, salt, and sugar; mix well. Add apple, onion, and raisins; toss lightly to coat. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Just before serving, combine spinach and romaine in a large salad bowl; add dressing and toss. serves 6





Sweet potato stew relies on peanuts for finishing touch


(Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2001)


Sweet potatoes are the nutritious heart of this sweet potato and peanut stew. These vegetables are available year-round, but they are harvested fresh from fall through winter. A sizable portion comes from the Merced-Livingston-Atwater area.


The recipe comes from "Joy of Cooking: All About Soups and Stews" (Scribner, $19.95), one of a new series of single-subject cookbooks in the family of the renowned classic, "Joy of Cooking."


"When we say 'sweet potatoes,'" the editors explain, "we mean ones with yellow-gray to brown skin and yellowish to white, dry, mealy flesh. Shape is not an indication of quality. All can be round or torpedo shaped, knobby or sleek. Select firm tubers with bright skin, heavy for their size, free of soft spots, dark spots and mold."


Note that this recipe includes provision for using ground beef or turkey to make a version for nonvegetarians.


(Makes 6 servings)


1/4 cup peanut oil

1 onion, chopped

1 red or green bell pepper, chopped

1 fresh jalapeño or serrano pepper, seeded and minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 packed tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 11/2-inch pieces

1/3 cup tomato paste

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1 teaspoon peanut oil (optional)

12 ounces ground beef or turkey (optional)

2 small zucchini (1 inch in diameter), trimmed and sliced

1/2 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth), preferably unsalted

Hot cooked rice or couscous (optional)


In a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, heat 1/4 cup peanut oil; add onion, bell pepper and jalapeno. Cook until the vegetables are tender but not brown, 7 to 10 minutes.


Add garlic and ginger; cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cumin and red pepper flakes; cook for 1 minute. Add sweet potatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Add enough water to barely cover the vegetables and mix well. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.


(For nonvegetarian version, if desired, at this point: In a medium skillet over high heat, heat 1 teaspoon peanut oil; add ground beef or turkey. Saute, turning often, until browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate; set aside until stew has cooked for 45 minutes, then add the meat to the stew.)


Add zucchini to stew; cook for another 15 minutes.


Place peanut butter in a small bowl; stir in 1 cup of the stewing liquid until smooth; add peanut butter mixture to the stew.


Mix well and cook stew another 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.


Serve plain, or with hot cooked rice or couscous.




As everyone knows, seafood is best when it is very, very fresh. Asians can be most particular about this. Many Asian markets offer a wide selection of live fish swimming about in large aquarium tanks, next to long counters displaying a profusion of colorful, sparkling fresh seafood laid on ice.


There is no glass case over the counters to separate customers from the fish, allowing them to touch, smell, peek under the gills, and make the best selection for the occasion -- just as you would when buying fruits and vegetables.


The scene is not much different from the open market stalls in Asia, a culture shock to the Westerner unaccustomed to crowded shops with wet floors and drippy counters, fishmongers wearing rubber boots with net in hand to scoop up whichever fish, crab or geoduck you desire. Right before your eyes, your choice is scaled, gutted and cleaned, and within a few short minutes, ready to be taken home to cook for dinner.


But even this level of freshness pales in comparison to the freshest seafood dish I've ever had the pleasure of eating. It was at a food stall along the banks of the infamous Mekong River on the northeastern border of Thailand. The Mekong flows from its headwaters deep inside China through mainland Southeast Asia on its way to the South China Sea, and, for 450 miles, it is the natural boundary separating Thailand from Laos.


To local people living near the river, the Mekong is famous for its giant catfish, some as large as a great white shark. But the seafood dish I had was made with something tiny -- a freshwater shrimp no larger than a hummingbird feather. This shrimp is transparent and, though hard to see, it thrives in such abundance that running a fine cloth net through the water is sure to yield a handsome catch.


My two traveling companions (a Thai and a visiting American) and I happened upon the rural food stalls on a high bank overlooking the point where the Mekong first meets the Thai border. There is no town there, just a few rudimentary stalls set up on the scenic overlook to serve passing travelers.


We were tired from a full morning of exploration in the mountainous country south of there, and we were hungry for some of the good, spicy food for which the mom-and-pop food stalls in the northeast are famous. My Thai friend, Ong, who did the driving, pulled over to the vista point and proclaimed that we must have lunch at one of the stalls there, known for their dancing shrimp (gkoong dten).


Dancing shrimp is the name of a Thai dish in which a raw shrimp is served with a spicy, garlicky, lime-flavored sauce. Because people in northeastern Thailand and neighboring areas of Laos have a liking for raw foods spicily laced with chiles and seasonings, and served with fresh herbs, vegetables and steamed sticky rice. Some food enthusiasts have opined that sushi, so identified with Japanese cuisine, might have originated here. What with the texture of the rice, the ritual of rolling it with the hand and eating it with raw meats, fish and vegetables and spices, the idea sounds quite plausible to me.


We found ourselves a quiet spot with a good view of the river in the shade of an open-sided bamboo shelter. Sitting on the ground on woven straw mats at a low table, my American friend, Jack, found this experience reminiscent of some Japanese restaurants.


We placed our order with the smiling host -- of course, we had to have the barbecued chicken, green papaya salad, and steamed sticky rice, staple foods of the northeastern (Isabn) region. Add to these the specialty of the area: crisp batter-fried shrimp cakes and dancing shrimp.


No sooner had we ordered than our host hurried down a sloping path to the river's edge and pulled out of the water a net that we assumed was filled with shrimp, and brought it to the cooking area under a distant bamboo shelter. Distracted by the beautiful views and conversation about our morning adventures, we lost track until dish after dish of scrumptious food started to show up at our table.


The barbecued chicken and green papaya salad were excellent -- only Isabn folk can make them taste so good! The shrimp cakes were divine, with a rich taste and delicious crunch, the light batter barely disguising the tiny shrimp. Then, out came our host with a small but deep plate covered with another overturned plate. Incredibly, we could hear a sharp and insistent ``ping, ping, ping'' coming from inside the two metal plates.


Jack had a look of disbelief on his face. Ong gave instructions: ``Get your spoon ready. I will lift the top of the plate just enough for you to scoop a spoonful. Then don't wait, just stuff whatever you get into your mouth and enjoy!''


Sure enough, the shrimp were dancing and jumping like we had never seen before. The shrimp danced in our mouths, down our throats, and into our bodies.


Although this may sound barbaric to some, the experience was actually surprisingly enlightening. We felt the shrimp become us -- we were the vehicle through which their spirit would carry on in the world. We didn't feel that we were eating them alive, taking away their lives. Instead, we felt their lives continuing on within us, that they happily became part of us. They danced in us and made us dance with life.


I was reminded of the teaching that ``energy never dies; it is only transformed,'' and, because something must die (whether this be animal or vegetable) in order that we may live, may we be worthy to carry on the spirit that has sacrificed its life for our nourishment at every meal.


Celebrate the life that food gives us. Remember the importance of the freshness of food and the care and respect in handling and preparation, and think about adding the living flavors of Southeast Asia to your life. Honor the culture, a way of life in a part of the world where food has meaning far beyond its physical dimensions. May our food dance with the spirit of the life from which it came.



(Gkoong Dten)

Serves 3-4 as an appetizer in family-style meal


3/4 pound medium, very fresh, sushi-grade ocean shrimp

10 to 15 small Thai chiles (prik kee noo ), cut into thin rounds

12 cloves garlic, chopped

2 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce, to taste

Juice of 2 limes, or 3 to 4 tablespoons

1 to 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, to taste

1 green onion (white part only), chopped

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro

1/2 cup mint leaves (leave small leaves whole, tear large ones into small pieces)


Shell and butterfly shrimp. Keep raw, or sear quickly over red hot coals to partially cook. Arrange on a serving platter.


Crush chiles and garlic together with a heavy mortar and pestle to make a coarse paste. Add fish sauce and lime juice. Stir in a small amount of sugar to blend and intensify the sour flavor without making the sauce sweet. Stir well to blend.


Spoon sauce over shrimp and sprinkle with chopped green onion, cilantro and mint leaves.


Note: Truly live dancing shrimp served at various locales along the Mekong River are made with miniature freshwater shrimp. But, to be safe, it is best to use ocean shrimp to avoid the risk of contamination from animal waste that may have washed into freshwater sources.


If the shrimp are soaked in the incendiary sauce long enough, the lime juice will cook them and turn them pink, but their texture will remain lusciously tender and their sweet, natural flavor will be retained.




(yâm gkoong pow)

Serves 4-5 as part of a family-style meal

1 pound large prawns (12 to 16 per pound)

2 teaspoons sea salt dissolved in 1 cup water

4 to 8 red Thai chiles (prik kee noo ), cut into 1/4-inch rounds

2 red serrano, jalapeño, or fresno peppers, cut into 1/4-inch rounds with seeds

5 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

3 tablespoons fish sauce (nahm bplah ), or to taste

Juice of 1 to 2 limes, or 3 to 4 tablespoons to taste

2 to 3 teaspoons granulated sugar, to taste

2 stalks lemon grass

2 to 3 shallots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

2 green onions (use white and half of green parts), cut into 1/8-inch rounds

1/2 cup mint leaves, torn into small pieces

Green leaf lettuce to line serving platter

1 small tomato, sliced into rounds

A few cilantro sprigs


Place prawns in bowl and add salted water. Let sit about five minutes, then rinse thoroughly with fresh water to remove salt. With scissors, snip shells of prawns up the center of the back, about three-quarters of the way toward the tail. Using a sharp knife, butterfly prawns in their shells, cutting deeply along the length of the back where the shells are cut. Remove any dark veins, leaving shells on.


Start charcoal grill. Meanwhile, prepare remaining ingredients.


Crush the two kinds of chiles and garlic with a mortar and pestle to make a coarse paste. Add fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Stir well. Taste and adjust flavors so that the sauce is intensely hot, sour and salty, with a little sweetness at the back of the tongue.


Trim and discard woody bottom tip and top third of lemon grass stalks, and peel off two to three of the loose, fibrous outer layers. Cut into very thin rounds and place in a mixing bowl with prepared shallots, green onions and mint leaves.


Grill prawns over medium-hot coals for two to four minutes (cooking time depends on size of prawns), turning once or twice, until shells are pink and slightly charred and the flesh a little undercooked. Prawns will be further cooked by lime juice in the dressing. Undercooking preserves the prawns' natural sweet flavor and gives them a tender, succulent texture. Grilling in the shell keeps them from drying out.


Toss grilled prawns with lime chili dressing. Add herbs and toss lightly to mix. Arrange on platter lined with lettuce leaves, encircled along the edges with tomato slices. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.




(gkoong neung si-ew)

Serves 2-3 in family-style meal


1/2 pound large tiger prawns

6 to 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 to 3 teaspoons minced cilantro roots or bottom stems

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 tablespoon Thai oyster sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 green onion

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper


Shell prawns and butterfly, removing any black veins. Give them a saltwater bath to freshen by placing them in a bowl. Add a generous 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and at least 1/2 cup water (enough to barely cover the shrimp). Mix with your hand for a few seconds to dissolve salt and gently massage shrimp. Set aside for five to 10 minutes. The water will quickly turn gray and murky. Rinse thoroughly in plenty of cool water to remove salt. Drain well.


Arrange single layer of shrimp on a heat-proof serving dish with a little depth that fits on the rack of a stacked steamer.


Combine garlic and cilantro roots or stems in a small bowl. Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sesame oil. Mix well. Spoon and spread evenly over prawns.


Bring 1 1/2 to 2 inches of water to a boil in the steamer pot before placing rack holding the plate of prawns over the pot. Cover and steam over high heat for seven to 10 minutes (depending on size of prawns), or until prawns are just cooked through.


Meantime, prepare green onion. Trim and discard loose green leaves. Split stalk in half lengthwise, then cut into inch-long segments. Cut each segment lengthwise into fine matchstick slivers.


When prawns are done, immediately lift lid so that condensed steam does not drip onto prawns. Let hot steam dissipate before lifting dish from steamer rack. A fair amount of very tasty juice will have steamed out from the prawns. Liberally sprinkle with white pepper and garnish with green onion slivers.



NANCY FELDMAN: Choose foods that fight tooth decay



(Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2001)


Many people are interested in knowing what foods can help prevent tooth decay. One way is to keep the amount of acid created by the bacteria on your teeth to a minimum. Here are some tips:


Limit between-meal snacking to reduce the amount of time your teeth are exposed to acid.


If you snack, choose foods that are not fermentable carbohydrates.


Best choices: cheese, chicken or other meats, nuts or milk. These foods are believed to be "anti-cariogenic." That is, they may actually help protect tooth enamel by counteracting acidity or by providing the calcium and phosphorus needed to re-mineralize teeth.


Moderate choices: firm fruits like apples and pears, and vegetables. Although firm fruits contain natural sugars that are fermentable, they have a high water content that dilutes the effects of the sugar and they stimulate the flow of saliva, which has antibacterial factors and helps protect against decay. Vegetables do not contain many carbohydrates.


Worst choices: candy, cookies, cakes, crackers, bread, muffins, potato chips, french fries, pretzels, bananas, raisins and other dried fruits. These foods provide a source of sugar for certain bacteria on the teeth to produce acid. The problem can be worse if the foods stick to or get caught between teeth.


Limit the amount of soft drinks or any other sugar-containing drink, including coffee or tea with added sugar, cocoa and lemonade. Fruit juices contain natural sugars that also can cause decay. Limit the amount of time you take to drink any of these drinks instead of sipping them throughout the day. A can of soda finished with a meal in 20 minutes is better than a can of soda finished in two hours because it will decrease the amount of time your teeth are exposed to high acid levels.


Better choices: unsweetened tea, milk and water, especially fluorinated water. Water helps flush away food debris and can dilute the sugar acids. Avoid sucking on hard candies or mints, even the tiny ones. They have enough sugar to increase the acid produced by bacteria to decay levels. If you need a mint, use the sugarless varieties.


Very acidic foods (such as citrus fruits, tomatoes and lemons) can make the mouth more acidic and may contribute to tooth demineralization. The effects of acid exposure add up, so every little bit counts. Since these are healthy foods, try to eat them as part of a meal or follow them with cheese, meat or milk.


Brush your teeth after eating to remove the plaque bacteria that create the destructive acids. If you cannot brush after every meal, brush at least twice a day to thoroughly remove all plaque bacteria. Chewing sugarless gum that contains xylitol can help reduce the risk of cavities. It not only helps dislodge some of the food stuck to your teeth, but it also increases saliva flow to help buffer the acids.


Like the rest of your body, your mouth depends on overall good nutrition to stay healthy. In fact, our mouths are highly sensitive to poor nutrition, which can lead to premature tooth loss, serious periodontal (gum) disease and bad breath.


Many nutritional problems will affect the mouth before the rest of the body. This is because the cells in the lining of the mouth -- called the oral mucosa -- are constantly being created and destroyed. In some areas of the mouth, cells completely turn over, with a whole new group of cells taking the place of old cells, in three to seven days.


If you want to prevent cavities, how often you eat can be just as important as what you eat. That's because food affects your teeth and mouth long after you swallow. Eating those cookies with dinner will do less harm to your teeth than eating them in the middle of the afternoon as a separate snack.



Serves 4

For dressing:

2 cups low-fat cottage cheese

1/4 cup buttermilk (1 percent fat)

1 tablespoon champagne or white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

3 anchovies, rinsed in warm water

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Kosher salt

For salad:

12 cups romaine lettuce, washed, dried, cut into bite-size pieces

1 cup spa Caesar salad dressing

1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese

4 teaspoons sliced scallions

Fresh cracked black pepper to taste


For dressing: Place all ingredients except salt (cottage cheese through black pepper) in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Taste and add salt if desired. Chill before serving. Dressing may be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.


For salad: Toss lettuce with dressing and cheese. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper. Divide salad onto 4 chilled plates and garnish each with a teaspoon of scallions. Add croutons if desired.



(Makes 12 to 14 biscuits)


Nonstick cooking spray

2 cups self-rising, low-protein flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons shortening or lard

2/3 cup cream

1 cup buttermilk (approximate; see directions)

1 cup all-purpose low-protein flour, for shaping

2 tablespoons butter, melted


Preheat oven to 425 degrees and arrange one shelf slightly below the center of the oven. Spray an 8- or 9-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray.


In a large mixing bowl, stir together the self-rising flour, sugar and salt. Work the shortening or lard in with your fingertips until there are no large lumps. Gently stir in the cream, then the buttermilk.


(It may take less than 1 cup of buttermilk, or if you are using a higher protein flour, it may take more.) The dough should not be soupy, but should be wet and resemble cottage cheese.


Spread the all-purpose flour on a plate or pie pan. With a medium-size ice cream scoop or spoon, place 3 scoops of dough well apart in the flour. Sprinkle flour gently over each scoop.


Flour your hands, then pick up a dough ball, gently shape it into a round, shaking off excess flour, and place it in the prepared cake pan.


Continue shaping biscuits the same way, placing each biscuit up tight against its neighbor in the pan, until the dough is used. Place pan in the oven and bake until lightly browned, about 20 to 35 minutes. Brush with melted butter. Invert pan onto one plate, then back onto another to turn biscuits right side up. With a knife or spatula, cut quickly between the biscuits to make them easy to remove.


Serve immediately. (Leftover biscuits can be reheated by wrapping in aluminum foil and placing in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes.)



This has a long list of ingredients, but it is simple to put together and will keep for a week in the refrigerator.


1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 chopped green onion (1 tablespoon)

11/2 teaspoons minced red onion

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh basil

11/2 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

11/2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 egg (see note)

7 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

11/2 teaspoons honey

1 cup olive oil

1 cup vegetable oil


Combine the garlic, green onion, red onion, parsley and basil in the bowl of a food processor. Process until mixture is well-combined. Add the salt, pepper, sugar and mustard and process again.


Add the egg, lemon juice, white wine vinegar and honey to the bowl of the food processor; with processor running add the olive and vegetable oils very slowly (most food processors have a tiny hole in the pusher that allows the oil to dribble slowly into the bowl). The mixture will form an emulsion, similar to a thin mayonnaise. If the mixture separates, you have added the oil too quickly.


Chill until ready to use. Dressing will keep up to a week in the refrigerator. Note: This recipe calls for eggs that will not be fully cooked. Be sure to use clean, uncracked eggs. Because of the possibility of salmonella, we would not recommend this recipe for people at high risk for contracting food poisoning: the elderly, the very young, the chronically ill, pregnant women or others with weakened immune systems.



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