Saturday, June 30, 2012


Summer -- nothing tastes as good a hamburger fresh off the grill!  As much as I love the convenience of a gas grill, I really prefer the taste you get from charcoal for burger.  Either way you cook them, these toppings will make a big impression.

Grilled Onions – I like to use caramelized onions.  Here is a hint toward the end of the cooking add a about a teaspoon of Balsamic Vinegar and let it reduce down.  Makes a HUGE difference!

Bacon – You can use Turkey Bacon – it will taste just as good and cut down on the fat.  Or use regular bacon or even the new vegan type.  I cook mine on the stove top but you can microwave bacon too.

Cheese – There are so many choices – Cheddar, American, Pepper jack.  Try a new one – cheese blends like Italian cheeses or Mexican cheeses.  These add a totally new flavor.  Or try Blue Cheese.

Salsa - little kick instead of ketchup

Compound Butter – I love making a compound butter with finely diced shallots and putting that on the burger after it comes off the grill.  Yum! Use your imagination!!

Of course the better the ingredients the better results on any of these.  And by the way, you can use all of these with a Turkey Burger or Vegetarian burger too.

Friday, June 29, 2012


I received some questions about the salad recipes on a recent post.  Several people wanted a low fat version.  So here it is!

Chicken Salad (Low fat version)

1 – 2 Boneless skinless chicken breasts poached in broth and allowed to cool in the broth. Tehn dice or shredd to get bite sized peices.
1 small Granny Smith apple diced – do core it but can leave the peal on or not – your choice.  Be sure put the pieces in some lemon juice to prevent turning dark
½ of red onion – I prefer this grated but a small dice will work too
¼ cup of Red Seedless Grapes – sliced in half - I use Red Flame
¼ - ½ cup of plain nonfat yogurt
1 tespoon honey or to taste

Mix all of this and then add salt to taste – about ½ teaspoon to start.

You can also use any of the following to add a little different taste

1 Teaspoon Madras Curry
¼ cup diced pecans
½ teaspoon Dijon Mustard

I would not add the mustard if you add the curry.  This is very good served with Toast points, crackers or as a lettuce wrap.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


The summer’s heat often drains us of any wish to stand next to a hot stove or oven.  Here are some of my favorite cold plates for Summer.

Chicken Salad

There are a lot to way to fix Chicken Salad!  The two methods I prefer are Chunky and Pate’ For the Chunky I like to roast chicken breast on the bone with the skin on.  I feel that this make the meat moist and tender.  As soon as the chicken is cool to the touch, take the skin off and debone the breast.  Chop or shred the meat to the size you like.  Then add the following.

For two breasts-

2 stocks of Celery diced
½ Red Onion diced
¼ cup sweet relish
Salt and Pepper
½ cup Mayo
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard

Mix well taste for seasoning and then refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Pate’ style

For this I poach the Chicken Breasts in broth and add some DAVIS DUST.  Mix the broth with the seasonings and place the chicken in the cool water.  Bring to a simmer – do not let it boil or the meat will be tough and dry.  Cook until the temperature is 170.  Let the meat cool in the broth until you can handle it.  Cut into large dice.

Put the following in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.

½ white onion – rough chopped
2 stocks of celery rough chopped

Pulse until they are a fine dice

Add the chicken and pulse until the mixture comes together and there are no large pieces.  Add:

½ cup Mayo
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard

Pulse to mix.  Taste for seasonings and adjust.  At this point you can add any of the following to taste
Sweet Relish

Chill covered for an hour.  I use this on crackers or with raw veggies as an appetizer.  I also use this on white bread for tea sandwiches

Both of these can be served on a bed of lettuce with radishes, green onion and hard boilde eggs as a salad plate. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


This recipe is based on one boneless skinless chicken breast.  Just increase accordingly.

2 Tablespoons of flour
1 Teaspoon of DAVIS DUST ( or any seasoning you prefer)
1/3 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese
1 egg with 1 teaspoon of water

1 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast

Mix the flour DUST and Parmesan Cheese in a flat bottomed dish
Whisk the egg and water to make an egg wash and put in another flat bottomed dish

Heat a sauté pan on medium and add Olive Oil and butter in equal amounts.

Dip the chicken in the egg wash.  Make sure that it is coated well.  Then put it in the flour mixture and turn to coat.  If you are careful 95% of the flour mixture will adhere to the chicken.  Place in the pan sauté for 7 – 10 minute depending on the size of the chicken breast.  Turn over and cook for another 7 minutes or until the chicken reaches 175 on an instant read thermometer.

Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Produce for Summer

We are in the peak season for locally grown produce and farmers markets.  So how do you buy at the peak of the season and keep them fresh?  There are many ideas and theories about this.  Just remember that the sooner you eat, freeze or preserve the produce, the better.  Here is a link to a great article.

I also try to handle the produce as soon as I get home. I find that if I take the time then the less I loose. 

To freeze fruits and vegetable is easy.  I regularlly freeze any fruit or vegetable I can.  Rather than go into all the details, use this link.  It has a lot of great information and will help.  If the fruit does get mushy - make a compote.

Here is the link

Don't be afraid to try - you may just amaze yourself!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Collecting Recipes for the Second Book

If you have a great recipe that you would like to share, I am collecting recipes for my second cook book. It will have a section for Best of The Blog and reader submissions. You will get credit for recipe. So share!!

The next book will also be a digital cookbook but will have pictures and illustrations.  You can submit the recipes via my new website under contact me.

I look forward to reading your recipes!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Smoke and Grill

Yesterday I helped a friend cook some fresh Salmon by smoking.  That is not the same as creating "Smoked Salmon" which is a process to preserve as much as cooking.  Yesterday we wanted to cook the Salmon using Alder Wood in a way that kept it moist and added the flavor of the wood. Here is how we did it.

Prepare the salmon - She had purchased the fish with the skin on. That is great for this - just make sure that the fish has been de-scaled. If not you must do that.  Next rinse the fish under cold water to remove any scale and surface bacteria.  Pat the fish dry.  Oil the basket or the grill where the fish will cook.  Then put he fish skin side down and rub with some EVOO.  Lightly sprinkle with seasoning.  We used DAVIS DUST which was Fantastic!! 

My grill has a smoker box built in.  So after soaking the Alder Chip overnight I filled it about 1/3 full and turned on the that burner - which is very small - to high.  I put the basket with the fish in the middle of grill on the grates. The smoker is on the left of the grill.  I also made a smoke bomb using aluminum foil and put it on top of the far right burner which I put on the lowest setting.  Using this method you can  control the heat so the fish cooks slowly and absorbs the wood smoke flavor without being over direct heat.  The 2 pounds of fillets took about 35 minutes.  I kept the temperature right around 250 - 275.

We had a wonderful lunch of Alder Smoked Salmon with some cold salads.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Curried Chicken and Rice

This is a go to dish when I am in a hurry and have left over chicken. It is easy and tastes great.

1 cup of uncooked rice
4 oz of cooked chicken  diced (You can also use canned chicken)
1 teaspoon chicken base - I use Better than Bullion - use what you have
2 oz diced onion
1 stock of celery diced
1/2 teaspoon curry - (I use Williams Sonoma Madras Curry)
2 cups of water

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan with a lid.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Cover and simmer for 18 -20 minutes until the rice is cooked. Serves two.  Increase recipe as needed for more.

Serve with a salad or steamed veggies. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Salad Dressings

Summer means lots of salads with fresh produce. Here are some dressing ideas I use.

Spicy Ranch ( There is a ready to use version made by Hidden Valley that is very good.)

Add some of you favorite Salsa to the Ranch Dressing

I always add finely chopped Shallots to my vinaigrette. I find that adds a great flavor

1000 Island

1 cup of good mayonnaise
1/4 cup of chili sauce or ketchup
1 diced shallot
1/3 cup of sweet pickle relish
2 hard boiled eggs chopped
1 stock of celery diced

Combine all of the above and mix well.  Chill for at least 1 hour so the flavors will marry. 

Don't forget just plain Mayonnaise. It can be a very good dressing for chopped salads or even Tuna Salad.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Pork Enchilladas

I had some pulled pork left over from smoking a pork shoulder.  I always like to find way to use any meat that I smoke.  In the past I have make a Smoked Pork Quesadilla which is excellent.  Today I decided to make Enchiladas

Left over roasted or smoked Pork
1/2 diced onion
1 small can green chilies - not Jalapenos
1 can green enchilada sauce
1 cup grated Queso or Jack Cheese.
Flour Tortillas

Chop the meat  or pull it and put in a saute pan with the onions and the chillies.  Cook until the onions are tender and all the fat is rendered out of the meat.  Add 2 oz of the sauce.

Heat the tortillas in the microwave between paper towels to warm  - should take about 30 seconds for 3 -4 tortillas.    Lay one tortilla down and put about 1/3 cup +/- on the bottom third. fold the sides in and then role up. Place in an oven proof pan. continue until all the tortillas and meat are use.   Pour the sauce over the enchiladas and top with cheese.   Bake in the microwave on high for 4 minutes or in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Serve with sour cream, guacamole and salsa with Spanish rice on the side. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Buttercream Frosting

Here is the recipe that I used on the cake for the party.  It is a great recipe and can be adapted to other flavors.  (NOTE - I used equal parts of Bittersweet and Semi-Sweet chocolate)


8 oz. of sugar
1/8 teaspoon of salt
12 oz. of cold butter cut in small pieces
4 oz. of semisweet chocolate  ( I would recommend 6 oz for a deep chocolate flavor.)
½ teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon cold coffee

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.  When it is melted add the coffee and vanilla.  Keep warm while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Keep the water in the double boiler or saucepan at about 140 – 145 degrees.  Put the egg whites in a glass bowl and add the sugar and salt.  Place the bowl over the water and whisk until the egg whites and sugar are incorporated.  Make sure that the egg mixture reaches 145 degree.  As soon as it does remove from the heat and place in the bowl of stand mixer.  Whip on medium speed until the mixture cools.  The bowl should be warm but not hot.  Add the butter a small amount at a time allowing each addition to be fully incorporated before adding the next.  Once all the butter is incorporated, slowly add the chocolate on low speed.  Stop as soon as the chocolate is added.  Use a hand spatula to finish the frosting.  Use at once!

If the frosting gets too warm put in the fridge for a few minutes. Once the cake is done refrigerate it until serving time.  Buttercream does not tolerate warm temperatures for long!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Devil's Food Cake

Here is the recipe I used today to make two 12 inch cakes. The two layers were moist and very tasty!  However - you do have to be careful when transferring from the pan.  Because the cake is very tender, and due to the size you  must support the entire layer as you transfer to the surface that will hold it.  Also you must use four skewers to stabilize the layers if you stack. them. That said it turned out great.

Here is the recipe


1 ½ CUP Unsweetened natural cocoa powder
3 ½ cups of AP Flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups of sugar
20 Tablespoons of butter (2 ½ sticks)
6 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 ½ cups of Buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 – prepare pans – spray and use parchment paper on the bottom too.

Have all ingredients at room temp.  Mix water, coffee and cocoa powder and allow to cool.

Sift all the dry ingredients together and set aside

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Scape the bowl and mix again.  Add eggs one at a time scraping the bowl after each addition.  When all the eggs are incorporated, add the cocoa mixture and the vanilla.  Scrape the bowl to ensure that all the ingredients are mixed well.

Starting with the flour add one third and mix in.  Then add 1/3 of the buttermilk.  You should start and end with the flour.  After everything is mixed in turn off the mixer and scrap the bowl.  Pour into prepared pans and bake for 35 minutes.  Check after 30 to see if the cake is done.  A cake tester or toothpick should come out clean with few crumbs.

Cool pans on racks for 15 minutes and then take the cake out. Once it is cooled take the parchment paper off and assemble the cake.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Changing a Cake Recipe to a Larger Pan

Nothing is better than a cake made from scratch! Don't get me wrong there are several really good box cake mixes out there. They save time and for someone who is not into "Baking" they can be a real value.  But I always like a cake that someone makes from scratch better.

As I posted earlier I am making a Birthday Cake for a friend.  There are so many people that I had to change the cake to a larger version.  I had to decided to either to A, -  make more layers or B. - make larger layers.  Sometimes going higher is not always the right choice. Especially if you have to  transport the finished cake.  So I went for the larger layers. But now I have to change the recipe to fill that extra space. How do you do that? How much will I need?

Today it is easy to Google anything including how to adjust recipes. There is a formula that uses PI and figures the volume of the pan. That is the most accurate. After doing the math I decided to just double the recipe. (It was for 2 - 9 inch pans and I am using 2 - 12 inch pans) That is usually the best option. However sometimes you may have to adjust cooking time and the leavening. But usually doubling or tripling the recipe will work just fine.  If you have too much batter then make some cupcakes. Easy - -no stress.

I will have pictures tomorrow and show you how I did it.  It will be a Devil's Food Cake with Pastry Cream Filling and Double Chocolate Swiss Buttercream.  I will post the recipes.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Follow up to last post

If you make the Spanish Rice recipe from the last post you can also use any leftovers for Stuffed Peppers. Just clean the peppers and fill with the Spanish Rice and then bake in moderate oven for 20 minutes to cook the peppers.

You can also use leftovers as a filling for a burrito.

Round two recipes can be just as good as the first time.  In fact sometimes they are better as the flavors have time to meld.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Spanish Rice

One of my previous posts had Pork Chops baked with Spanish Rice.  In this recipe I add ground beef to the rice and it is cooked on the stove top. It is a quick and economical recipe that can be served as a main course.  This version is an old stand by and can serve 4 - 6.

Spanish Rice with Ground Beef

1 pound ground beef - I prefer 80/20 or 85/15
1/2 of white onion diced

Preheat a pan and add 2 tablespoons of EVOO. Add the meat and onion and brown.  Pour off any excess grease or oil and then add

1 envelope of Taco Seasoning - stir to coat the meat and onion and let it cook for for a minute or two.  Then add

1 cup of uncooked white rice
1 can of diced tomatoes
 5 cups of water or broth.

Stir all of this in and bring to boil. The liquid will deglaze the pan. Turn down the heat to low and cook over low heat for 40 minutes or until the rice is cooked.  Check half way through and stir the rice so it does not stick and burn.  Recover the pan and cook the rest of the time.

Once the rice is tender check for seasoning.  Serve with a nice green salad and a vegetable.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Birthday Cake

A friend asked me to make a birthday cake for their niece.  Actually I was sort of tricked into it - but never mind - I want to do it. I am tweaking a few recipes for the cake.  It will be a Devils Food Cake with Bavarian Cream filling and Chocolate Buttercream frosting.  While I am working on the details I thought I would share some of the finer points of cakes.

1. Always Always have all of your ingredients at room temperature.  Your baking will be so much better when you do. That means in this case the butter, the eggs, the buttermilk (makes the cake very moist) and your dry ingredients all need to be at room temp.

2. Use only the best ingredients that you can afford. There is a direct correlation between the quality of the ingredients and the outcome.

3. Be sure that all of your equipment is clean and dry. Have your spatulas and other utensils ready and waiting. Is your colling rack ready? Are your pans ready?

4. Assemble all of your ingredients and measure before you start.  That way if something is not right or you forgot something you can correct it before you start mixing. Only start once  everything is in place.

5. Your oven - when you preheat it makes a difference.  I start mine when I walk into the kitchen.  I like to have it cycle at least once after the initial preheat. That way I am sure it is at the right temperature.  I also use an oven thermometer to check.

Now you can start the recipe.  I will post the recipe and some pictures next week when I make the cake.