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Wednesday, 29 August 2012 15:25

Is it apple season yet?

It happened one day when my daughter wanted a candied apple at the fair. I bought her one. Five minutes later, after walking around the fairgrounds, she said, "Here, Dad, I'm done!" It was the same red, shiny orb I had just bought her, except with an abundance of gnaw marks up one side and down the other. Although a 10 year old with strong teeth, she couldn't penetrate the sweet, hardened glaze. After fretting and fuming to myself for wasted money, I decided to take a stab at it. She was right! Hard as nails, just the way I remembered it as a kid, but lacking one prized, distinctive quality: the bite. I mean the bite of real candied apple. You remember, you get that sweetly hot taste that made this confection true from the melted cinnamon candies that made the thought of a chipped tooth irrelevant. Yup, another shortcut by someone who obviously is out for the money rather than sticking with tradition.

Now The Yankee Chef is all about saving money, but not at the expense of keeping a tradition alive and allowing my children enjoy what we did growing up. So for posterity's sake, here's how to make a great, hard, shiny, sweet, hot, mouth-watering...

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 16:07

Mo' money mo' money mo' money

I purchased a couple of pounds of Alaskan king crab legs a while back and thoroughly enjoyed them just dipped in butter. I left two legs uneaten and refrigerated them. Two days later, I really wanted crab again, but in a different culinary theme - something quick and filling. One of my favorite dishes is Alfredo, so I thought, why not combine the two? Once it was prepared, I didn't even want to take the time to take a picture of it. I enjoyed every morsel with no bread left over, having used it to sop up Alfredo sauce (since I can't lick my bowls anymore).

The following week, spending even more money on seafood, I purchased a pound of shrimp and relived my night of briny delight. And this is what I made. If you enjoy it half as much as I did, you are in for a hearty, satisfying meal.

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 21:45

I just had to do it

Here it is almost the middle of summer, and I am enjoying a dish that should be cooked in the snappy air of winter. Having taken the kids to the fair, all I could smell was sausages, simmering inside that crispy, grilled casing and the aroma of spices just beckoning me. I didn't end up getting a sausage for the first time in eons, but I did bring my appetite for sausages home with me. It wasn't terribly hot out so I ran to Bean's and got some chicken sausage, stopped at the store and picked up the rest, and I was in my glory making

Published in The Cooking Edge
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 16:11

Finger lickin'

My friend Gail vanWart's family has owned Peaked Mountain Farm in Dedham for about 150 years. She is an author and poet and very knowledgeable about wild blueberries, blueberry recipes, blueberry cultivation...heck, everything blueberry. Having talked to her this past week, she has me salivating for her crop of MOFGA wild blueberries. But like strawberries, we have to wait for the perfect time. In the meantime, I am going to whet my (and hopefully your) taste buds for blueberries with the following finger-lickin' chicken and something to top it off with.

Published in The Cooking Edge
Thursday, 21 June 2012 07:41

Finally!

Guess what time of year it is everyone? I wait for strawberry season every year now for ... years. Although the fresh strawberries you can get in the supermarket are adequate, that's their downfall as well: mere adequacy. I want to taste fruit that is local, just-picked and still warm from the sun it grows under.

My kids look forward to them as well. For over 10 years, I hand-picked and sold these gems at my farm stand, with my children right alongside me. They earned extra money picking and selling, learning important lessons along the way. They learned the hard way when they wanted something special at the store, but they had eaten five out of the eight quarts they picked - they were going to have to settle for something else. And no, I didn't cave in! But I always made sure they had their fill of strawberries both in the field and at home. It worked. After the third or fourth day, they wanted nothing more to do with strawberries. I learned a lesson as well: Not only didn't they want to eat any more strawberries, they didn't want to help pick anymore either. Tough love bit me right in the strawberry patch.

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 06 June 2012 16:41

Simply Caribbean

The headline is an oxymoron, obviously. June is National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, and Caribbean cuisine is so far removed from what we are used to up here in the Northeast, it would take my whole article just to give you the ingredients and preparation for one dish.

Coconut is the most repeated item in Caribbean cooking, with coconut milk leading the pack. But don't confuse coconut milk with what you find in the middle of a coconut. It is the extraction of coconut oil and flavor into milk. To make it at home is simple. In a large bowl, place 4 c. grated coconut. Bring 2 c. milk to a scald on the stove, remove and pour over the coconut. Let it sit for 30 minutes. Strain the coconut mixture through a strainer, reserving the liquid. If you would like, remove the strained coconut into a muslin or cheese cloth and squeeze even more coconut flavor. Store this coconut milk in the refrigerator until cool. The cream will rise to the top, so before transferring this milk into an air-tight container, whisk well. That's it!

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 16:01

Vinegar the alternative cleaner?!?

In March of 2012, the Silent Springs Institute in Massachusetts released a "scientific study" declaring that vinegar be recommended as an "alternative cleaner." We Yankees have been using vinegar as a cleaner in hundreds of different ways for centuries. Well, before I get my gander up about how foolishly institutes spend their money or how foolish institutes are, let me give you some other ideas about how you can use vinegar and its namesake Vinaigrette - and how easy it is to make your own at home. You won't find these highly-addictive Vinaigrettes on your store shelves.

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 18:00

Flavored butters

I remember many years ago I wanted to start my own line of flavored butters, but I never followed through with it. Why? Because one, I never got off my butt to do it and two, it is so simple to make it at home. With just a few ingredients, you can have a pat of flavored butter melting over freshly-cooked vegetables. Meat and seafood are impressive as are breads, rolls and waffles with the addition of your own flavored butters. Here are just a few I would like to share with you.

Start with 4 oz. unsalted butter or margarine at room temperature. Put the butter in a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or electric mixer till soft. Add the flavoring and season with salt and pepper before beating to a soft, whipped texture. Transfer to a piece of waxed paper or film wrap, shape into a tight roll and refrigerate until firm. When ready, just take out and slice into pats.

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 22:44

Something old, something new

While I was going through my cupboards the other day, I noticed I still had some molasses hidden behind that cylindrical box of oatmeal that's been up there just as long.(You know what I'm talking about, admit it). Although I knew that it would still be good, even after two years, I glanced it over nonetheless. Yup! Still good. Now before you start chastising me, remember that molasses, along with honey, stays edible for so long because of its sugar content. The sucrose inhibits bacterial growth. I don't want to tell everyone to be as cheap as I am, but I can't help it, it's the Yankee in me. Now what to do with it...? Got it! One of the messiest, delectable and comforting summer foods imaginable: pulled pork. Never heard of a pulled pork recipe using molasses? Then why don't we just call it -

Published in The Cooking Edge
Thursday, 26 April 2012 12:31

Must-haves in the kitchen

Recently I posted a video on YouTube dealing with gravies. Since then I have received so many requests for a list of spices and herbs that you should keep in your kitchen, I made another video dealing with just that. This week's article will address that as well. I think because so many people are marinating steaks and chicken, they want to know what to keep on hand. So here is my list - not only for this summer's grilling and marinades, but for the holidays as well.

Ground cumin - Native to the Mediterranean, this is the second most popular spice (behind pepper) in the world. Most commonly used in the cuisines of Brazil, Texas and Mexico.

Basil - Commonly known for Italian cuisine, but very popular in Asian cooking as well. Oddly absent in India, where it originated.

Cinnamon - Used in both sweet and savory dishes, this pungent yet sweet spice was what Moses was commanded to put in anointing water, believe it or not.

Published in The Cooking Edge
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