Monday, October 22, 2012

Cool Days are Warmed with Spicy Turkey Chili

Recently my husband and I took a brief trip "up North" to Duluth to view the brilliant colors of autumn. The aspen trees and poplars covered hillsides in shimmering shades of yellow that were a strong contrast to the red maples. As we left Duluth we took a few photos from the top of the hill overlooking the harbor and the St. Louis River.

On a cool blustery fall day, Chili is always welcome and the scent of simmering spices fills the house with warmth. Ground turkey contains less cholesterol than ground beef and is lower in calories. I always use ground turkey breast without the skin because of its’ lower fat content. Add a little olive oil to help the meat brown and garnish with slices of avocado, and you are adding healthy unsaturated fats. I always serve Cornmeal Muffins with chili.

Turkey Chili

Makes 4 servings

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

8-10 oz. ground turkey breast

2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes

1 can (15 oz.) chili beans

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1/2 ripe avocado, sliced

 Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat and add the onion. Cook about 3 minutes or until the onion softens and add the turkey. Cook until the meat is lightly browned and no pink remains, stirring occasionally.

 Stir in the tomatoes, chili, beans, chili powder and vinegar. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and cook 20 to 30 minutes to blend flavors. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Spoon the chili into bowls and top with avocado slices.

Spicy chili beans are high in fiber and available with mild, medium or hot sauce.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Scandinavian Baking at the MN State Fair

Scandinavian Tosca Bars

Tomorrow, August 24, I'm doing a demo at the MN State Fair in the St. Agnes Baking Co. Kitchen located in the Creative Activities Building. At 11 a.m. I'll be baking Scandinavian Tosca Bars and at 1 p.m. Finnish Orange Cake. It's a short demo and I have to take everything with me so I'm packing up and hope I don't forget something.

I do have recipe handouts and everyone is always looking for new recipes. Of course, I'll have Scandinavian Classic Baking with me, too.

My daughter Kristin is helping me and in between demos, we'll be looking for food "on a stick"!

Here's a recipe for a classic bundt cake that bakes in a 12-cup bundt pan.  

Orange Bundt Cake

A classic pound cake is made with one pound each of butter, sugar, eggs and flour but doesn’t have the lighter texture preferred today in cakes. The delicate orange flavor added by the orange rind can be intensified by also adding orange extract. If you are using a fluted tube pan, I recommend using shortening and brushing it into all the grooves in the pan before flouring.

 Makes 1 cake, 12 to 16 servings

 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon orange extract, if desired

3/4 cup 2% milk, room temperature

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons grated orange rind

 Heat the oven to 350°F with rack in lower third. Thoroughly grease and flour a 10-inch fluted tube pan or an angel food cake pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl. Combine the milk and orange juice.

Beat the butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer on medium speed until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, and beat 2 minutes.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each egg is added. Add the vanilla and beat 3 minutes until the mixture is very light and creamy.

Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of the milk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. After adding all of the flour beat until smooth, but no longer than 15 seconds.

Stir in the orange rind. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean.  Cool on a wire cooling rack 10 minutes. Run a spatula or a wooden skewer around the edge of the pan and around tube in the center to loosen the cake. Carefully loosen the cake from pan and invert onto cooling rack. Cool completely.

Serve with whipped cream.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Juila- 100 Years Ago This Week!

Julia Child taught me to cook. Well, not personally but I learned much about food preparation watching the French Chef in the 70's. I had a degree from Purdue in Food Research by that time but little experience with everyday cooking and no familiarity with French cuisine.
While my son napped I sat glued to the TV watching Julia. I saw the infamous chicken go flying off the counter and Julia's nonchalant response, returning it to the set. I loved her casual attitude that even dishes that weren't perfect were edible and appetizing. Julia's philosophy: Don't start by saying this is a failure- just give it a different name.

There's a lot on the Internet now because this week marks Julia's 100th birthday.  Here's a list of some of my favorites, mostly from Mastering the Art of French Cooking:
          Coquille St. Jacques
          Roast Chicken
          Beef Stew in Red Wine with Bacon and Mushrooms
          Peas Braised with Lettuce and Onions
          Cherry Clafouti
          Coq au Vin
          French Onion Soup

Beef Stew in Red Wine, Coq au Vin and French Onion Soup are examples of clearly written recipes in Julia's unique style. These recipes cover several pages and proceed step-by-step slowly building up layers of flavor and perfectly cooked ingredients.

One of the most popular themes in cooking today is 30 Minutes or less. In 30 minutes or less you don't get the intense flavors and perfectly cooked textures that come only from taking a little more time.

Go to or or  to find some of Julia's recipes online.

Writing this post has reminded me how much I enjoyed the results of Cooking with Julia. I need to go back and recreate some of her fabulous meals.

Thanks Julia!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Summery Harvest Favorites

Farmer's Markets are at their peak this time of year as all the local produce ripens. On Thursday I bought a basket of small cucumbers and immediately thought of cool and refreshing cucumber soup as the start a simple supper on a hot sticky day. For me, the perfect end of summer meal starts with a chilled soup and includes fresh sweet corn, sliced tomatoes layered with fresh basil drizzled with a little balsamic and something from the grill.

Farmers’ market cucumbers are plentiful this time of year and great for soup because their shapes can be uneven. Peel with a vegetable peeler and cut in half lengthwise. Use a melon baller or fruit spoon to scoop out seeds and discard. Large cucumbers with a waxy coating from the produce department are also good in this recipe. I first tried sauteed cucumbers after watching Julia Child on the French Chef. The idea of cooked cucumbers was a foreign concept in the land of pickles but one I really liked!

Chilled Cucumber Dill Soup

Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound (2 to 3 medium) cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon salt

white pepper, to taste

1 cup non-fat Greek-style plain yogurt

4 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add the cucumbers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cucumbers begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the chicken broth and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until the cucumbers are fork-tender.

Carefully ladle the hot cucumbers and liquid into a food processor bowl and process until pureed. Add liquid as needed or process in two batches. Adjust seasoning, adding salt if needed and white pepper. Pour into a covered container and chill.

Pour chilled soup into serving bowls or cups and sprinkle with fresh dill.

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Summery Dessert for the 4th

Because this year's July 4th Holiday occurs in the middle of the week many family celebrations will need adjustments. My daughter and son-in-law are coming from Chicago for the "4th" so we had to decide if they were coming the biginning of the week or the end. We decided on the beginning of the week so they'll be leaving on the holiday but visiting for 5 days.

If you normally celebrate all day long with family and local friends on the 4th concluding the day with the fireworks, nothing needs to change but for house guests you need to plan some meals ahead. I'm a big fan of salads such as tabouli or Southwestern Black Bean and Corn Salad because they are made ahead and chilled so they can be served anytime. For dinner, just place meat or seafood on the grill and add some cold salads.

Frozen Peanut Butter Pie is a family favorite. The combination of peanut butter and chocolate resonates with both kids and adults and what's better than an Oreo crust. Because the pie is frozen it's ready anytime, even for a mid night snack!

Peanut Butter Icebox Pie

Makes 8 servings

1 (6 ounces) chocolate cookie crumb crust    

 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter

1/4 cup milk

1 (9 ounces) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

1/2 cup chocolate ice cream sauce

1/4 cup chopped peanut, if desired

Place cream cheese in a large mixer bowl and beat until creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until smooth. Beat in peanut butter until thoroughly mixed. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly beat in milk. Fold in the whipped topping using a rubber spatula.

 Spoon about half of the filling into the crust. Drizzle with the ice cream sauce. Thin sauce with milk or cream if necessary. Cover with the remaining filling. Sprinkle with peanuts and drizzle with chocolate. Cover and freeze at least 4 hours or overnight.

Monday, May 28, 2012

It's Officially Summer

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer. Time for lazy days, easy cooking, less baking and lots of icy beverages. Easy cooking means more cooking on the grill, a method that produces great tasting food and doesn't heat up the house.

When I don't know what to fix for dinner, my husband is always ready to cook something on the grill. The problem with that is someone still has to figure out the rest of the meal, that would be me.

One of my go-to side dishes is an easy potato salad that has a vinaigrette dressing, not mayonnaise, that makes it a healthier alternative. Snappy green beans fresh from the garden bring color, fiber and nutrients to the table. If the onions are strong smelling, cover with cold water, soak 15 minutes, drain and pat dry and you'll have a milder flavor.

Country French Green Bean and Potato Salad

Take this appetizing summery salad on picnics because it doesn’t need to be chilled. Because I slice the potatoes before cooking they don’t need to be peeled, but you can also boil the whole potatoes and peel and slice them before making the salad.

Serves 4 to 6

 2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

3/4 lb. green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon sugar

 Place potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 10 to 12 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from heat and drain. Place in large bowl.

 Cook green beans in boiling water until tender-crisp, about 4 to 6 minutes. Drain and add to potatoes.

Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, sugar and remaining salt in a small bowl. Whisk until blended. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Pour over warm potato mixture and toss to mix. Cool to room temperature. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Celebrate Norwegian Constitution Day with Whipped Cream Cake

May 17, today, is Norwegian Constitution Day., syttende mai. Blotkake, Norwegian Cream Cake, celebrates this patriotic holiday by highlighting fresh spring berries. This celebration is similar to the American 4th of July. Everyone wears red, white and blue and many march in parades. It commemorates the signing of the Norwegian Constitution in 1914 that declared Norway to be an independent nation. All over Norway, elementary school districts arrange a parade with marching bands and children parading through the community. The longest parade is in Oslo where as many as 100,00 people travel to the city to participate in the festivities.

This delicate cake slathered with whipped cream and decorated with blueberries and strawberries represents the national colors present in the flag. It tastes best the day it is made. The recipe below has the strawberries whipped with the cream giving it a delicate pink color.

Strawberry Cream Cake
Makes 10 to 12 servings


¾ cup cake flour
            ¾ cup + 1 Tbsp. sugar
            4 large eggs, room temperature
            ¼ teaspoon salt
            ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
            1 tablespoon water
            1 teaspoon vanilla


3 cups chopped strawberries, 1/2 inch pieces
            1 tablespoon sugar
            4 ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese, softened
            1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
            1 teaspoon vanilla
            1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

 Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper or waxed paper. Spray the paper lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Sift the cake flour with 1 tbsp. sugar.

 Place the eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, salt, cream of tartar, water and vanilla in a large mixer bowl. Beat on high with a whisk attachment until thick and lemon colored, about 5 minutes. When the whisk is lifted, the eggs will form a thick ribbon that dissolves.

 Fold in the cake flour (see How to Fold p. 27) and mix until blended. Pour into the prepared pans and spread evenly. Bake 13 to 16 minutes or until the center springs back when touched lightly with a finger.

 Cool pans 10 minutes on a wire cooling rack. Run a thin metal spatula around the edges of the pans loosening the cake. Carefully remove the cakes from pans and peel off the parchment paper. Cool completely on the wire cooling rack.

 Make the topping. Mix the strawberries with the sugar in a medium bowl and let stand 5 minutes for the filling. Beat the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla in a large mixer bowl on high with a whisk attachment until creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Gradually add the whipping cream while beating on low. Increase speed to high and continue beating until soft peaks form. Beat in strawberries and beat about 30 seconds. 

 Place one layer of the cake on a serving dish. Spread with 2 cups strawberry whipped cream, spreading to the edges. Add the second layer and cover with the remaining strawberry whipped cream. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.  Garnish with additional strawberries, if desired. Cake must be refrigerated.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cinco de Mayo or Derby Day?

Tomorrow is May 5, the running of the Kentucky Derby or to some, Cinco de Mayo. Did you know that Cinco de Mayo is actually an American celebration, not celebrated in Mexico? It commemorates the Mexican battle of Puebla and isn't considered an important date date south of the border.

Mexican troops defeated French troops on this date in 1862, but the victory didn't last long and the French eventually occupied Mexico for 3 years.

Whether you celebrate Derby Day or Cinco de Mayo, the day is perfect for a party or just a special dessert. For me, Tres Leches Cake is the dessert to make.

This light sponge cake is baked in a 13x9 inch baking dish making it easy to take and share. The title, Tres Leches, translates as "three milks" but my version actually has more. Strawberries are abundant and reasonable priced at the moment so top with fresh berries.

Tres Leches Cake

This traditional Hispanic dessert is currently very popular in the United States. Tres Leches translates as “three milks,” and this cake is literally drenched in sweet milks—whipping cream, evaporated milk, and condensed milk. Whole milk is an extra! I like to serve it with a little whipped cream and mixed fresh berries.

Makes 24 servings 

                        2 cups all-purpose flour

                        2 teaspoons baking powder

                      1/4  teaspoon salt

                      3/4       cup butter, softened

                   1 1/2      cups sugar

                        4 eggs, separated

                        1 teaspoon vanilla

                        1 cup whole milk

                      1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar


                      3/4  cup whipping cream

                        1 (15-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

                        1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk

Heat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Grease and flour a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.

Beat butter until creamy in bowl of a heavy-duty mixer on Medium speed. Gradually add sugar, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally, and beat 2 minutes. Beat in egg yolks, scrape down sides of bowl, and add vanilla. Beat 2 minutes more until mixture is very light and creamy.

Reduce mixer speed to Low. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the whole milk in 2 additions. Scrape down sides of bowl after each addition. Beat until smooth, but no longer than 15 seconds.

Place egg whites and cream of tartar in bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the whisk. Beat on High speed until whites form soft peaks. (When you lift beaters, whites should form peaks that fall softly down.)

Add whites to batter with a folding motion. Bring a rubber spatula across the beaten whites in a motion parallel to the counter, slide the spatula down the back of the bowl, and pull it back in the other direction, lifting at the end. Rotate bowl as you fold. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. The cake may not be browned. Place cake pan on wire cooling rack and pierce cake generously with a fork or skewer.


Combine whipping cream, condensed milk, and evaporated milk in medium bowl and mix well. Spoon generously over the cake. Continue to add more liquid as topping is absorbed. You may not use it all. This cake must be stored in the refrigerator.

Baker’s Notes: It is easier to separate the egg yolks from the whites when the eggs are chilled. Do this about 1/2 hour before starting the cake.

Condensed milk has lots of sugar added, and evaporated milk does not—read the labels carefully.

Secrets to Success: Be sure bowl for beating egg whites is free from fat so that the whites will whip well.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tour of Queen Creek Olive Mill

Queen Creek Olive Mill is the only producer of extra virgin olive oil in Arizona. When I visited the mill in March, I took the half hour tour and was fascinated by the process. The two most influential factors in producing high quality olive oil are harvest date and the variety of olives used. The ripeness of the olives, from green to deep purple also affect flavor. When green olives are harvested and pressed into oil, the result is an oil with a grassy, bitter and peppery flavor that keeps well. Dark purple olives give oil a buttery fruity flavor and doesn't keep as well. The best oil is a blend that capitalizes on all these characteristics.

Queen Creek Olive Mill processes olive into oil within 24 hours of harvesting and only uses mechanical means to extract the oil. No solvents or heat are ever used. The master blender selects different varieties of olives at various stages of ripeness to produce the high quality oil that is their standard. After being pressed, the oil is stored in stainless steel tanks to keep it fresh and bottles it as needed. Shelf life is one year to 18 months as long as it goes into the bottles fresh. Queen Creek Olive Mill has a bottling date, not harvest date, on the bottle to guarantee freshness.

This spring we saw the blossoms on the trees and will return during the main bottling season in the fall from mid-October to mid-November to observe the harvest- by hand from the trees.

We tasted several types of oil including Meyer lemon, blood orange, bacon, chili and chocolate. The chocolate oil has a rich chocolate flavor and is ideal for scones, muffins and cakes. I use Meyer lemon on seafood, fresh vegetables and vinaigrette. The bacon flavor was disappointing as the flavor was bitter and astringent. Chili olive oil zips up the flavors of any food.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Just in Time for Dyeing Easter Eggs

Eggs are plentiful and cheap in the spring and provide high quality protein.

Here's eggs-actly a dozen tips!

Use the freshest eggs for frying or poaching because the white is thick and doesn't spread as much. This makes it easier to flip the eggs without breaking the yolk.

Fried eggs should be turned "over easy" to insure safety from salmonella.

Older eggs (1 to 2 weeks) are the best for hard-cooking because they are easier to peel. I've included directions below on how to hard-cook eggs.

Remove  eggs from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before hard-cooking to prevent the shells from cracking.

For recipes that use egg yolks and egg whites separately, separate the yolk from the white when the eggs are cold.

When beating egg whites, allow them to warm slightly so that they will whip to the greatest volume. 

Use a non-stick pan for frying eggs and cook the eggs over low heat.

Adding 1-2 teaspoons vinegar to the water for poaching the eggs will reduce the spreading of the white.

Place poached eggs on aa paper towel to absorb poaching water to prevent soggy bread.

Always use large  eggs (24 oz./dozen) when baking as they are used in recipe development.

When using more than one egg, break each egg into a custard cup before adding to your recipe.
When you are separating the yolk from the white, you can remove any little bits of shell by using the empty egg shell. It attracts the small bits.

HOW TO HARD COOK EGGS:  Remove eggs from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking to avoid cracking. Place in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by one-inch. Bring to a boil. When water is boiling, remove the pan from the heat and cover. Let stand 15-17 minutes. (I use 17 minutes but most sources say 15 minutes).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bread for the Irish or Spotted Dog

I met Catherine Fulvio at the Cordon d'Or Culinary Awards in 2007. She runs a bed and breakfast with her husband and a well known cooking school in Ireland. We discussed Irish Soda Bread and I learned from her that the recipe I bake is actually "spotted dog" because I add raisins. Irish soda bread was developed as a result of poverty since it's simply made from flour, baking soda and buttermilk. The bread most familiar to Americans contains sugar and possibly eggs and is much richer that the Irish version.
Here's my recipe from Baking Basics and Beyond. I far prefer Irish Soda Bread to green beer to celebrate St. Patrick's Day but a pint of Guiness fits a celebration, too.

Irish Soda Bread

I add golden raisins because their sweetness contrasts with the tangy buttermilk and adds an extra layer of flavor to the bread.

Makes 2 loaves

                        3 cups all-purpose flour

                        1 cup whole wheat flour

                      1/2 cup sugar

                        1 tablespoon baking powder

                   1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

                      1/2 teaspoon salt

                      1/2 cup butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

                   1 1/2 cups lowfat buttermilk

                        1 cup golden raisins

Heat oven to 375°F with oven rack in middle. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet.

Combine flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces.

Add buttermilk and stir until clumps form, making a sticky dough with ragged edges. Stir in raisins.

Place dough on a well-floured work surface. Dust your hands with flour and knead gently 8 to 10 times or toss dough a few times like a pizza until it just holds together and is no longer sticky. Add a little flour as needed.

Gather dough together and cut roughly in half. Pat each half into a round loaf about 7 inches across. Place both loaves on the cookie sheet. Cut an "X" in the center (to let the fairies out).

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until deep golden brown with pebbly tops, no longer moist on the surface, but moist inside. Cool loaves on wire cooling racks. Allow loaves to cool at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Baker’s Notes: You can substitute two 9-inch round cake pans for the cookie sheet to help the loaves keep their round shape without changing baking time.

Because this is a sticky dough, you may need to add 1 to 2 tablespoons more flour than in other recipes.

Secrets to Success: You don’t need to mix very much when adding the raisins, as the kneading will distribute them.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tastes of the Southwest

Everything I've read says not to apologize for not posting but it's been so long I do apologize. We've been traveling and I have been learning about foods of the Southwest, specifically in the Phoenix area.

Yesterday we attended the Heard Museum Indian Art Fair and Show. The quality of the art was superior and it was fascinating seeing the many ways of expressing the Native American culture. Having mostly attended art fairs in the Midwest, the style of art from clay Navajo  masks, to exquisitely woven baskets with intricate designs, and delicate beading used for adornments and many examples of silver jewelry made us plan to attend again.

I sat in on a food demonstration by author and food writer, Carolyn Niethammer, featuring wild foods of the SW. Tepary beans were domesticated by native American tribes and have been used as food since pre-Colombian times. They are cooked in the same way as other dried beans, but usually require longer cooking. She made Tepary Bean Bruscheta but pureeing the cooked beans with lots of fresh basil and spreading on toasted bread. The beans didn't have much flavor but the basil came through and the tapanade used as garnish. The Heard Museum Cafe also serves a Tepary Bean Stew.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Valentine's Dinner for Two

Pork Tenderloin with Cinnamon Scented Sweet Potatoes and Apples

When I think of a special Valentine’s dinner, my first choice is often beef tenderloin filet but this year when everyone has budget concerns I’ve turned to pork. Pork tenderloin is a lean, healthy cut of pork and is just the right size for two servings. Let it stand 5 minutes after roasting so that the juices are absorbed. The pork and the sweet potatoes bake at the same temperature and require about the same time. 

Makes 2 servings

1 (3/4 lb.) pork tenderloin

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon salt


1 sweet potato (about 12 oz.), peeled and sliced

1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon flour

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. salt

1 tablespoon cold butte

            Combine the mustard, maple syrup, vinegar, salt and pepper if a food storage bag and mix.     
            Add pork. Seal the bag and let stand 30 minutes or up to 4 hours. Heat the oven to 375      degrees F.

            Remove the pork from the marinade and pat dry. Place on a rack in a small baking pan.     Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until meat reaches 160 degrees F. Loosely cover with aluminum foil and let meat stand 5 minutes before slicing.

While the pork is baking, lightly spray a 1-quart casserole with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange the sweet potatoes and apples in the bottom. Sprinkle with the orange juice.

Combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over the sweet potatoes. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Keep warm.

Tip: A digital thermometer with a probe is the easiest way to have perfectly cooked meat and well worth the investment. Because the incidence of trichinosis is almost nonexistent, pork no longer needs to be cooked until well done. Insert the probe into the center of the meat. New recommendations are to cook pork to 145 degrees F. with a three minutes rest. The lower temperature results in juicy tender pork.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A New Twist on Pizza

Yesterday I appeared on KARE 11 Today in the Twin Cities. Here's the link to the segment. I demonstrated how to shape the calzones and how to bake with yeast.

Here's the recipe for All-American Calzones. The bacon cheeseburger filling is adaptable to all tastes.

All-American Calzones

This is a great recipe for nights when the family cooks together. Start with homemade pizza dough, and let everyone prepare his or her own calzone. You may use any toppings you like—just don’t fill the dough too full.

Makes 4 calzones

 Basic Pizza Crust, below

 1 tablespoon cornmeal

Ketchup and/or mustard

8 ounces lean ground beef, cooked and crumbled

4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

4 ounces Cheddar or American cheese, sliced

1/4 cup chopped onion

4 dill pickle slices, chopped

 Heat oven to 400°F with rack in lower third. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle with cornmeal.

Lightly flour working surface. Divide pizza dough into 4 parts. Roll each part into an 8-inch circle. Spread ketchup and/or mustard over half of each circle. Sprinkle 1/4 cup ground beef, crumbled bacon, an ounce of cheese, 1 tablespoon onion and dill pickle over condiments. You can add about 1/2 cup additional “extras” to each calzone. Fold circles in half. Press edges together and pinch to seal. After I pinch the edges, I roll them and press again. Place on baking sheet and cut several slits into top of each calzone.

Bake about 18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly before serving.

Fillings for Traditional Calzones: Pepperoni slices, cooked and crumbled Italian sausage,    fresh sliced mushrooms, chopped green pepper, sliced ripe olives, shredded mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese.

 Basic Pizza

 This easy crust makes enough dough for two pizza crusts and four calzones. When I only need one pizza, I pre-bake the second crust and freeze it. With a crust from the freezer, homemade pizza arrives faster than delivery!

 Makes 2 (12-inch) pizzas
                 1  (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast

                  1     cup warm water (105–115°F)

                  3       cups all-purpose flour, divided

                  1   tablespoon sugar

                 1/2 teaspoon salt

                  1   tablespoon olive oil

Sprinkle yeast over warm water in small bowl and let stand about 5 minutes. Combine 2 1/2 cups flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Stir in yeast mixture and olive oil. Continue stirring until flour is absorbed. Stir in remaining flour until a soft dough is formed. Dough will be sticky to start with, but after kneading it becomes easier to handle.

Place dough on well-floured surface and shape it into a ball. Place your fingers on top of dough ball, curled slightly, and pull dough toward you; then push it away, using palms of your hands. Turn dough1/4 turn and repeat. Knead dough 6 to 8 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic.

To judge whether dough has been sufficiently kneaded, place it on work surface, pull both ends gently, and release. Dough should be elastic and spring back.

If dough is sticky, gradually add flour while kneading but limit flour to 3 cups. Shape dough into a ball by pulling sides underneath forming a smooth top. Cover dough and let it rest while you prepare toppings. I just invert a bowl over the dough for this short rest.

Heat oven to 450°F. For crispest crust, place rack toward bottom of oven.

Grease two 12-inch pizza pans. Leave about 1 inch around edge of each pan ungreased so dough has something to cling to as it is stretched to fill pan. Place half of dough in center of each pan, and push it out to pan edges, rotating pan as you go. Form a raised edge around the crust’s perimeter.

Bake crusts 7 to 10 minutes or until they are just beginning to brown. Remove from oven. (The crusts can be frozen at this point. Cool to room temperature and wrap tightly before freezing.) Top as desired.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Chili for "The Big Game" Can I say "Super Bowl"?

Warm chili is the perfect winter supper and an easy way to feed a crowd or just two. Cincinnati’s 5-way chili is famous and many “fast-food” restaurants feature it. Skyline Chili is the best known and is no longer limited to Cincinnati. There is now an outlet on Clearwater Beach (right next to Mc Donald’s). Chocolate and spices make the flavor different from standard chili. Serve it 3-way, 4-way or 5-way chili for hearty meal. Five way chili starts with meat sauce and is built with spaghetti, kidney beans, chopped onion and lots of shredded Cheddar cheese. Oyster crackers are the traditional accompaniment.

 Cincinnati Chili

Serves 6 to 8

2 pounds lean ground beef

1 cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 cans (14.5 ounce) stewed tomatoes

1 can (15 ounce) tomato sauce

1 cup beef broth

1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon coarse salt

½ teaspoon ground cumin

Brown ground beef, onions and garlic in 5-quart Dutch oven. Stir occasionally to help browning. Pour off any fat. Add stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce and broth.

 Combine chili powder, cocoa, cinnamon, salt and cumin small bowl. Stir into beef mixture. Heat chili to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Chili can be prepared ahead and refrigerated until serving.

 Reheat chili if needed. To serve Cincinnati style, serve with spaghetti, beans, onion and lots of Cheddar cheese.

In Cincinnati, the famous chili restaurants serve so much cheese on top everything else is hidden. For four servings of 5-way chili you will need the following:

12 ounces spaghetti, cooked, drained and kept warm

1 (16 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 to 1 cup chopped onion

2 to 4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

When I' only serving two, I freeze the remaining chili for another two meals and reduce amounts of the toppings.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mc Cormick Flavor Forecast for 2012

McCormick has identified 6 major trends for 2012 by assembling a group of culinary professionals from around the world over the course of a year. Last week Ellen Gibbs, Principal Food Technologist,  presented their findings to a group of Minneapolis consumer and food professionals. This year is the first time they took a world-view in their  research since McCormick is used in over 100 countries.  In addition we were able to taste representative samples from each category. For more details on their results  and recipes go to

TREND: Honoring roots. Authentic flavor with modern flair such as cumin with sofrito

TREND: Quest for the ultimate. Quality ingredients, flavors and textures such as Lemon Tart with Meyer lemon, lemon thyme and limoncello

TREND: Vegies in Vogue. Fresh seasonal vegetables with new techniques and spices, eggplant with honey and harissa, squash with red curry

TREND: Simplicity Shines. Back to basic clear flavors. Vanilla with butter (what's better?), ginger and coconut

TREND: Flavorful Swaps. Balancing bold flavor and healthful foods. Little changes leading to big results. Red tea with Cinnamon and Plum, grapefruit with red pepper

TREND: No Boundaries. Blending new ideas and ignoring the confines of traditional "rules". Freedom to explore. Sweet soy with tamarind and black pepper, blueberry cardamon and corn masa

This is a very brief review of their findings. These findings are a catalyst for future product and menu development. One of their surprise findings is that food lovers around the world have a lot in common.

Two of my favorite flavor combos from the samples were Squash, Red Curry and Pancetta Sweet Potato Chips and Red Tea, Cinnamon and Plum Flavored Chewy Taffy.

Some of these flavor combinations are only available in commercial applications but watch for new flavors at the supermarket or try some of these combinations youself!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Warm Day with Clouds- Need Sunshine Vitamin D

Minnesota along with most of the country this winter is experiencing record warm temperatures. Usually the end of January is the coldest week of the year and the days are crisp, bright and shiny. Even so it is almost impossible to get enough Vitamin D from sunshine in the winter in the northern parts of the U.S.

Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because our bodies manufacture it from a form of cholesterol when our skin is exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. In the south, ten to 15 minutes of sunshine 3 times a week produces enough to meet our requirement but with increased use of sunscreen and air pollution experts feel that Vitamin D supplements are becoming necessary almost everywhere. In northern parts of the U.S. the level of the sun is too low to provide enough ultraviolet rays to produce adequate levels of Vitamin D from November to February. People living in areas above a line drawn roughly from northern CA to New England are included in this group.

 Vitamin D is helps prevent osteoporosis in adults and rickets in children. Bone is constantly lost and rebuilt, but as we age it becomes more difficult for the body to rebuild.  Once this delicate balance is upset, bones are more fragile and easily broken in falls especially after menopause.

Vitamin D helps maintain appropriate levels of calcium and phosphorous in the blood and improves the absorption of calcium into bones. In the United States since the 1930’s most milk has been fortified with Vitamin D.

Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are rich in this amazing vitamin but most other good sources have been fortified. Milk, fortified cereals, margarine, egg yolks and some fortified fruit juices are the best dietary sources. Dairy products can be good sources if they have been made from Vitamin D fortified milk but this can be hard to determine.

Here's a comforting dessert for a cold winter's night packed with Vitamin D. Is chocolate a substitute for sunshine? Not really!  
Chocolate Bread Pudding with Custard Sauce

                       1  cup whipping cream

                        6   ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

                       1/2 cup sugar

                              Pinch of salt

                        4   eggs

                        1   cup milk

                        1 teaspoon vanilla

                        6     cups 1-inch pieces of day-old bread

Heat whipping cream in small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Add chocolate and remove from heat. Let stand until chocolate melts, stirring once or twice. Cool slightly

Beat sugar, salt, and eggs in medium bowl until mixture is completely smooth. Stir in milk and vanilla. Add chocolate mixture and mix well.

Place bread in lightly greased 9-inch pie pan. Pour milk mixture over bread and let dish stand about 1 hour. Push any bread not moistened down into the milk.

Heat oven to 325°F with oven rack in middle.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until set and a knife inserted near center comes out clean although it will be wet.
Cool on wire cooling rack until serving, or cool to room temperature and refrigerate.

Baking Basics and Beyond, 2nd Edition, 2012 Surrey Books, by Pat Sinclair 

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Year: New Plan

Like almost everyone else in America, I'm resolved to eat healthier food in 2012 and one of the best ways to improve a diet is to add more whole grains. In addition to being healthy, whole grains add flavor to food and help you feel full longer.

An easy way to increase whole grain consumption is to prepare whole grain pasta. I like Barilla Multi Grain pasta. It's not as heavy as whole wheat pasta but still packed with nutrition. Try adding a little whole wheat pasta to basic pasta a little at a time and gradually adjust your tastes.

Brown rice is another easy addition and now can be purchased as quick-cooking and also boil-in-bag. Cooking brown rice requires about 45 minutes so add time to your meal plan or use one of the convenience foods above.

I often add barley to soup because its whole grain goodness adds a chewy and satisfying goodness. Pearled barley has been partially processed to remove the bran so it cooks it less time but it is still high in fiber. Pearled barley can be purchased ground coarse, medium or fine.

Hearty Beef Barley Soup

            Makes 8 servings 

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds lean beef strips (sirloin, round)

1 cup chopped onion

4 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

2 cups sliced carrots

2 (32 ounce) boxes beef broth

1 teaspoon salt

pepper to taste

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 cup pearled barley

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan and add about half pf the meat. Cook over high heat until browned. Remove and add remaining oil and meat to the pan. Cook until browned and remove from the pan. Cook the onions in the oil until tender. Add a little more oil if needed.

            Stir in the barley, mushrooms, carrots, beef broth, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Return the meat to the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 40 minutes until the meat is tender and the barley is cooked. 

Tip: Use 50% reduced sodium, fat-free beef broth.

This soups freezes well.