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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork - a lot of people like it but don't know how to make it if they do not have a smoker.  I do have a smoker but many times I also use the oven. Sometime I used both! 

Pulled Pork

Pork Butt Roast - about 5 Lbs
Dry  Rub  - I use  DAVIS DUST

For smokers -  I use wood chips from Jack Daniels Whiskey Barrels - it does add a certain something - you use what ever you normally use. Just make sure that you soak the chip in water for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Follow the directions on your smoker.  You want the heat at a constant 225 for at least 12 hours.

For Ovens - preheat to 425 -  have one rack just under the center rack with a drip pan.  Place the rubbed pork on the center rack so it is right over the drip pan.  After 10 minutes, turn the temp to 225 and walk away.  come back in 12 hours.  Do Not turn the meat or fuss with it!  Just let it cook
V E R Y S L O W L Y. 

For both methods - the meat is done if you can pull the bone out with out any meat sticking to it. Let the meat rest for a bout 30 minutes under some foil . Then start pulling the meat with tow forks or my hand.  You will be shredding the meat.  Once that is all done use it any way you want.  There are some great recipes in my cook book for pulled pork.

By The Way -- The beer - is for drinking while you wait.  ;o) 

Thursday, March 29, 2012


In most of the Northern Hemisphere you should be able to plant some herbs now. After years of planting in the raised bed, this year I am planting in a strawberry pot.  It has several smaller niches for herbs that I only use once in while and a large opening for  others.  Word of warning - Parsley will take over your garden!  That is another reason I am not planting it in the flower beds. Once the herbs come up I will post some pictures.  But I do encourage you to grow the herbs you use.  Basil, Parsley, Cilantro, Thyme and Oregano all do well in a strawberry pot.

Fresh herbs are wonderful to have on hand.  Try i t- you may just find out that you can grow them indoors too.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Banana Cake

One of my favorite deserts in the Spring and Summer is a very simple Banana Cake.  This is what I do.

Whether you use a cake mix or a scratch recipe for a yellow cake, take 2 - 3 very ripe bananas and mash them up. You should end up with about a cup of banana puree.  Add this to your wet ingredients before you combine.  Just mix in and don't over mix.  Then just bake as usual.  I always use two round cake pans - be sure to prepare them with oil and flour or a good spray.

When the cake is cool I use whipped cream to ice the cake and also add some sliced banana pieces in the center that I dipped in lemon juice.  You can add some to the top along with some ripe strawberries.  Chill the cake for at least 30 minutes before you serve.

(For really good whipped cream I add powdered sugar and a good vanilla.)

I hope you enjoy this recipe.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Food Find

I don't normally use a prepared sauce for pasta.  I prefer to make my own.  However today I found one that is very good.  It is an Alfredo with Roasted Pablano Peppers.  I used in with some cooked chicken breast over pasta and it was wonderful.  I can see where this could also be used with shrimp or vegetables.  So try it.  The brand is Classico and I do recommend it.  Great flavor and not expensive.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Money Saving Ideas

In today’s economy we all can use some ideas on how to stretch the food budget.  One of the easiest is to buy an ice cube tray.  - You know, the plastic one like we used before ice makers.  Here are some ways to use that to help you save money,

Soups - If you have left over stock, gravy or soups pour into the ice cube tray and freeze.  When it is frozen solid  pop the cubes out and put in a freezer bag. That way when you are making soup or sauces you can add as much as you need to boost the flavor.

Milk - I don't always get to use the milk before it goes bad.  I started freezing it in the ice cube tray as it got closer to the expiration date. I use these in gravy or sauces or to make hot chocolate.  Works great and I don't throw it out.

I am sure that many of the reader may have other ideas too.  Please share them!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cooking Class - Healthy Eating for Kids

At the class today we had several new recipes that were designed to help kids eat more healthy, One of the recipes used baked strawberries to enhance a Spinach Salad.  You find the recipe on Williams Sonoma's website.  Very interesting!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pork Chops and Spanish Rice Bake

This is a redo of a recipe in the cookbook.

3- 4 pork chops - bone in preferred
Olive Oil
1/2 diced onion
1 cup of rice
1 can of diced tomatoes in juice
I small can diced Hatch Chillies
1 cup of water -/+

Season the chops with the DAVIS DUST.  Preheat a heavy pan that has a lid and add olive oil to coat the bottom. Brown the chops on both sides and remove to a plate while you prepare the rest of the recipe.  The Chops will not be done only browned.

Add the onions to the pan and saute until translucent. Add more oil if needed.  In a bowl combine the tomatoes and chilies and water. Stir to mix and add to the pan with the onions.  Deglaze the pan scraping up all the brown bits.  Add rice and stir.  Then add the chops - nestle them down in the rice, cover the pan and baked at 350 for one hour.   Check after 30 minutes and adjust the water if needed.  Once the rice is tender take the pan out and let it rest for 5 minutes.

The chops will be very tender and the rice will have a great flavor.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chicken Wings

Some days are just too busy to fuss with making a proper dinner!!  Last night was one of those.  I had some frozen wings in the freezer that fit the bill for a good meal without a lot of preparation. Here is a quick and easy way to make them.  No frying - baked.

Preheat oven to 375

Take out as many frozen wings as you need and put the rest back for another meal.  Put the wings on a baking sheet and drizzle with Olive Oil. mix them around on the baking sheet to coat both sides.  Sprinkle on some DAVIS DUST.  Bake for 50 minutes..  Turn the wings over about half way through the baking time.  They should reach an internal temp of 18o.

Take them out and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dirty French Toasrt

NO it is not what you think!!  Dirty French Toast is my recipe for a little different twist on an old standby. I put some Saigon Cinnamon and little sugar in with the eggs and milk. It does make the toast look "Dirty" but the flavor is wonderful. Plus if you want to cut back on the syrup, you can add fresh fruit and a little whipped cream and have a delightful entree. Here is the recipe

Makes 12 pieces of French Toast - serves 3- 4

4 eggs
1 teaspoon Saigon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of milk or half and half
1/2 teaspoon good vanilla

Whisk the eggs until mixed then add the sugar and spice and mix well.  Add the milk and mix and then add the vanilla and stir. Dip your bread into the mixture and cook as usual.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Special Trick for Pie Shells and Tarts

If you are making a tart shell or or pie shell that needs to be pre baked here are two ways you can make sure it does not get soggy once you fill it.  After you blind bake the shell, take the parchment and pie weights out.  Brush the inside of the shell with beaten egg white to coat.  Place the shell back in the oven for 5 - 9 minutes to cook the egg white and seal the inside.

You can also use melted chocolate to brush the inside of a cooled shell before filling.  I like white chocolate for most as it does not interfere with the taste of the filling.  But Semi-sweet or  dark can be good too for certain types of pies.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tarts - Sweet and Savory

Today's class is on Tarts - Sweet and Savory.  Come by and see how to make pastry cream, rich tart dough and even Lemon Curd in a VitaMix Blender.  Plus a classic French Onion Tart.  All that at Williams Sonoma at The District in Green Valley.  Class is at 12 noon.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bread follow up

The bread from the other day came out great!  Here is the recipe for a nice sandwich bread.

1 1/2 cup of warm water
1 cup of sourdough starter
2 tablespoons of honey
2 tablespoons of Greek Yogurt - or drained yogurt
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
4 - 7 cups of all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt

Pre heat oven to 375

Put all of the ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer and mix with the dough hook on low until combined. Then knead for 7 minutes.  The amount of flour will vary so I recommend starting with 4 cups and then adding more as you need to.  The dough should be smooth and not sticky.  I added up to 6 cups and then let the dough rest in the bowl before continuing.  If you do that, you can give the flour time to absorb the moisture.  Then added a little more until I go the results I wanted. You do not want a really stiff dough so use less. If it is sticky it may need more flour and more kneading.

Put the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat the dough. cover with oiled plastic wrap and a towel and let raise until doubled in size.  Punch down the dough and form into two loafs. Put the dough into the bread pans which have been oiled. ( I use BakKleenZT it is wonderful).  Let the dough raise until it is at least one inch over the rim. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until golden brown The internal temperature would be 190 - 200 on an instant read thermometer.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bread Recipes

I am continuing my research on home made bread.  I have done a lot of Sourdough and Potato Bread.  Tonight I am working on a new recipe that I created using yeast, sourdough starter, honey, butter and yogurt.  I will let you know how it comes out. I can tell that dough was magnificent to work with and the aroma from my oven is fantastic!

If it all works I will post the recipe later.  If not I will let you know what I would change. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


No I am not talking any ones dates!  I will be teaching a class on Sunday at Williams Sonoma on Sweet and Savory Tarts.  It will be a good class so drop by.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Breakfast with Leftovers

When I talk about using leftovers for breakfast most may think of Pizza,  But that is not what I mean at all. Clever use of some left over food can make a great breakfast.

Potatoes - Use left over baked potatoes as hashbrowns or cottage fires.  I also slice them up add some onions and fry them.  Today I did that - added some scrambled eggs and cheese and rolled all of that into some flour tortillas for a wonderful breakfast burrito.  Add salsa and you have a hearty breakfast.

Roast Beef - makes great Roast Beef Hash.  Add a poached egg and you have a tasty substitute for Corned Beef Hash. This worksd great for Dinner too!

Left over bread - beside French Toast, make breakfast bread pudding with Cinnamon, raisins and brown sugar.

Vegetables can make great omelets or fritattas

Use your imagination and breakfast does not have to be boring or the same everyday.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Thank YOU!!

Thank you to all the readers from all the different countries for reading this blog. Here is a partial list of countries who  participate.

United States, Russia, Sweden, Brazil, Philippine's, France,Ukraine, United Kingdom,Netherlands and Peru.

Please remember to send comments and questions!!

(By the way Blogger did not post this on the day I entered it so it may show up as a double post.)

Thanks to all!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Baking Class

Sunday I will be teaching a class on baking.  For many people baking means using a mix. Those are fine and they do usually come out pretty good. I sometimes will use them  But once you learn how to make anything from scratch, you build your confidence and learn techniques that you can use and adapt. I find that my cakes, breads and cheesecakes that I make are more moist and stay fresh longer than a mix. Here are some tips that will help you be a better baker.

1. Always have your ingredients at room temperature. Butter, eggs and even milk will do better if they are not cold.  The batter will be easier to mix and you will avoid over mixing.

2. Measure exactly. In baking you are a chemist!  Do not guess on your measurements.  The ratio of flour, sugar, and leaving agents to the wet ingredients is what makes a great cake.

3. Do not over mix.  This is crucial in muffins and quick breads. You do not want to develop gluten stands or the item will be tough.  Likewise if the recipe tells you to mix for a certain time do that.  In some cakes the mixing adds air and will make the item lighter.  Follow the directions.

4. Test your oven for proper temperature.  All ovens vary. Learn how you oven cooks - does it have a hot spot/  Is the oven calibrated correctly.  - Most are not. Use an oven thermometer to check and adjust accordingly.

5. Pans - read the recipe. If is say to grease then do it.  (I use BakeKlean. It is a fabulous product.)  If needed use parchments paper as directed.

6. Time - not all ovens cook the same nor do all altitude and weather conditions.  All will affect how your item bakes.  Baking times will vary with the same recipe and the same oven due to the weather. So watch the time.

This sounds like a lot.  But it will easier than you think.  So get baking!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Corned Beef and Cabbage

It is close to St Patrick's day and many of us will have Corned Beef and Cabbage. For those who have never cooked this dish it may seem a little difficult.  In fact it is very easy.  Most stores sell a piece of brisket that has been brined and includes a spice packet. Here is what I do.

1. Rinse the beef before you put it in the pot. Put the beef in the pot and add cold water to cover.  Add the spice packet and cover.  Bring the pot to a simmer and let it simmer for at least three hours.  If the water gets too low add a little more.  If a foam develops that is okay - just skim it off.

2. Cabbage - core and cut the cabbage into quarters. remove any wilted outer leaves.  When the beef is done take it out and put on a warmed plate in a low oven to keep warm.  If you have a steamer insert that will fit in the pot great - use it to Cook the cabbage.  Otherwise you can put the cabbage in the water.  Cook until tender.  Remove and serve with the beef.

3. Other veggies - some people like potatoes and or carrots.  Your choice

4. Condiments - I always have some vinegar for those who want to add it. I also serve a good coarse mustard.

Simple and easy.  If there is any leftover meat you can make Corned Beef hash.  But that will be another post later.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Great Class Today

The cooking class at Williams Sonoma was on cooking with citrus.  There were several great recipes which you can find on their website. However one that is not on that site was the Lemon Glaze I made for the Bundt Cake.  Just  a regular vanilla Bundt Cake but the glaze made it special.

Lemon Glaze

2- 3 cups Powdered Sugar
Juice and zest of one Lemon
4 Tablespoons of melted butter
1/3 Cup Milk +/-

combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth.  Adjust the amount of milk to the consistency you want. Pour over the cake.  Simple easy and VERY tasty!!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Roasting Chicken

One of the readers sent me an email about some issues she was having roasting chicken. It seems that on more than one occasion the bottom of the chicken was still showing blood while the top was cooked.  That can happen for several reasons.  First you have to understand that when you buy a chicken from the store   that was most likely shipped at least partially frozen.  USDA allows poultry to carry the 'Fresh" Label as long as it has not been held lower than 26 degrees F.  So often we get home there may be ice in part of the chicken. Second you have to know some techniques that will allow for even cooking.  Here are some tips that will help.

1. Unless you need to cook the bird right when you get home consider brineing the Chicken.  That adds flavor and will allow it to thaw safely even if it is "fresh".
2.Always rinse the chicken before you cook it. That helps to wash off surface bacteria that may have settled during processing.
3. Consider using a Vertical Roasting method.  There are several pans etc that hold the Chicken up right allow for heat to circulate.
4. Start the chicken upside down - with the breast on the bottom.  Half way through turn the chicken over and continue to cook. This method also helps the white meat to stay juicy.
5. ALWAYS use a thermometer to check for the proper temperature/

Here is a link to the USDA page on Poultry Definitions

Roasted Chicken can be a great comfort food. I hope this helps!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

More Pizza tips

Yesterday I wrote about pizza dough.  I took that dough and made a great pizza.  I used a bottle sauce that was incredible!! It was one of Paul Newman's - Sockarooni. It is a great sauce and makes your homemade pizza really stand out.  I recommend it highly.

When the dough was ready, I just added about 3 tablespoons of the sauce, topped with a good cheese blend of Mozzarella, Asiago and Parmesan; then added Pepperoni, sausage, onions, green peppers - you get the idea.  It was wonderful!!  With a great base of the dough and the sauce and cheese, you can add any topping you like.  I also sprinkled on some more of WS pizza seasoning.

So try it!!  I bet you will really like it.