I Like Lamb How About You?

            When my youngest son Avi was in 1st or 2nd grade (lo those many years ago) a teacher asked him, in the course of getting to know everyone in the class, what his favorite animal was. He happily said, “Oh, I like lambs”. When then prompted, the second time around the “getting to know you circle” as to his favorite food, his equally cheery reply was, of course, lamb. Sadly, not too many of his fellow 6 year olds found it as amusing as the teacher and I did.

Lamb is actually a very versatile and flavorful meat if cooked correctly. It can be stewed, grilled, sauteed, or roasted.  Lamb is meat from sheep less than 1 year old so the lamb you get in your in grocery stores is typically from a 5 to 12 months old sheep. The flavor of this typically domestically raised animal is quite mild. When buying lamb you want to look for a light pinkish color and it should be tender, yet firm to the touch.

            My son is still fond of lamb and if he had to choose one particular dish/cut of lamb that he prefers I would have to say it’s the lamb shank. Not to be confused with a leg of lamb a lamb shank comes from the bottom section of the front legs. They’re usually fairly inexpensive cut and are about the size of a turkey drumstick. Due to the slightly tougher nature of the cut the shank is most often prepared by braising it and then cooking in a liquid.

            The following recipes are a compilation of one’s I’ve made over the years and a few sent to me by readers, who like my son who love lamb.  

BRAISED LAMB SHANKS WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS

4 tablespoons olive oil
4 large onions, sliced

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried
6 3/4- to 1-pound lamb shanks
flour
2 1/2 cups red wine
2 1/2 cups canned beef broth
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 bay leaves

Preheat oven 375. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium heat. Combine the sliced onions and the brown sugar and saute until the onions are brown, about 20 minutes. Mix in 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary, mix to combine, cook for 1 minute and remove the mixture from the heat and set it aside. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper then dredge the lamb shanks with flour. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Cooking one or two at a time sear the outside of the shanks on both sides and then set them aside on a plate.  Add 1 cup of wine to the skillet and bring the mixture to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Pour the mixture into pan with the cooked onion mixture. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups red wine, beef broth, tomato paste and 2 bay leaves to the onion mixture. Stir to make sure the tomato paste dissolves. Add the lamb shanks to the pan with the onion mixture, turning to coat with liquid. Cover the roasting pan with a lid or tightly with foil. Place in the preheated oven and after 30 to 40 minutes of cooking, turn the lamb shanks over and return the covered pan to the oven. Reduce the heat to 350 and cook an additional hour or until the lamb shanks are tender. This can be made up to 2 days before you want to serve it and be reheated. You can remove the shanks from the liquid and boil it down to a thicker gravy consistency if you like. Serves 6.

ROSEMARY ROASTED LAMB SHANKS WITH POTATOES

2 lamb shanks
2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh rosemary

salt and pepper
2 large onions, chopped finely
zest and juice of 1 orange
3 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup of beef stock  
6 potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon sliced green onions
 3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons of Parsley
2 tablespoons minced garlic

Season the lamb shanks with rosemary salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a skillet and sear the lamb shanks on all sides. Remove the shanks to a plate and then add the onion to the pan. Cook the onion with the orange zest until the onion is browned. Add the wine, beef stock and the orange juice and bring the mixture to a simmer. Pour the onion mix in a heavy lidded roasting pan and add the lamb shanks. Cover and cook 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile boil the potatoes in water until they are soft. Drain and mash them. Add the butter, green onions, garlic and parsley to the mashed potatoes, mix to combine and salt and pepper to taste. To serve, scoop a mound of the potatoes onto the serving plate, place a lamb shank on top and spoon the juice from the pan on top. Serves 2. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

CROCK POT LAMB SHANKS

1 onion, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup chopped tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

4 lamb shanks, trimmed

salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup red wine

Put the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme and bay leaf in a crock pot and stir to combine. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. In a large skillet heat the olive oil and add the shanks and brown on all sides. Place the lamb shanks in the crock pot. Pour the wine into the skillet and bring it to a simmer, stirring to scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour the wine mixture into the crock pot, cover and cook on high for 6 to 8 hours. Transfer the lamb shanks to a large serving dish.  Remove the bay leaf from the sauce and pour the liquid into a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Pour some of the sauce over the shanks and serve the rest along side. Serves 4.

CRANBERRY LAMB SHANKS

2 tablespoons flour

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 lamb shanks

cooking spray

8 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

2 onions, sliced

1 cup red wine

1 can whole berry cranberry sauce

6 cups water

2 tablespoons beef bouillon

Mix together the flour, salt and pepper and place in a plastic resealable bag. Add the lamb shanks and toss to coat. In a large skillet heat the 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the shanks and sear the outside. Remove the lamb and place them in the crock pot and then add the carrots to the lamb.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet if needed and then saute the onion until they are golden. Add the red wine, cranberry sauce, water and beef bouillon powder, whisking until everything is completely combined. Bring the mixture to the boil and then immediately remove it from the heat and pour it over the lamb shanks and carrots. Cook for at least 4 hours on high. Serves 6 to 8

Submitted by Nancy Aldridge Burr Ridge IL

HERBED LAMB SHANKS

6 tablespoons oil
6 lamb shanks
Flour for coating
Salt and pepper
1 large white onion
6 garlic cloves, sliced
2 cups whole canned tomatoes, sliced
3 sprigs chopped fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried
3 sprigs chopped fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
3sprigs chopped fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried
8 cups chicken stock

Heat the oil in a saute pan. Dredge the shanks in flour, shake off the excess, and then salt and pepper them. Brown the lamb in the oil. You may have to brown in batches. Once a shank has browned evenly, place it in the roasting pan. Preheat the oven to 350. Add about 4 more tablespoons oil to the pan, and over medium heat add the onions and garlic. Cook until soft. Then add the tomatoes, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and the chicken stock and let simmer for a few minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary. Pour the sauce over the lamb shanks, cover with aluminum foil, and put in the oven and cook for about 3 to 4 hours. Serves 6.

Submitted by Angela Coats NY, NY

BARLEY AND LAMB

2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 onions
2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
4 tablespoons of olive oil
6 lamb shanks
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups of barley
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
1 cup of white wine
1 bay leaf
a pinch of thyme

Preheat oven 325. In a skillet saute, in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, saute the onions until they are pale gold. Add the carrots, celery, garlic and parsley and cook for 2 minutes and then remove the vegetables from the pan and set them aside. Do not clean the pan. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Brown the lamb shanks on all side but don’t cook them. In a Dutch oven pan, heat remaining olive oil and add the barley. Cook, stirring constantly until the barley is golden. Add the chicken broth, wine, bay leaf and thyme. Mix to combine. Add to lamb shanks and the vegetables. Add more liquid (if necessary wine or water), to cover the barley barley. Bake in a for 2 to 2 1/2 hour until done. Serves 6 

MOROCCAN WILD RICE AND LAMB SHANKS
2 lamb shanks

3/4 teaspoon Salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 1/2 cups water or chicken broth

1 1/2 large carrots cut in 1/4 thick rounds

1 sweet potato, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch pieces

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

2/3 cup pitted dates, cut in half

1/2 cup dried apricots, cut in pieces

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 1/2 cups wild rice

4 1/2 cups water

Season the lamb with salt and cayenne pepper. In a deep skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in large stock pot with tight fitting lid over moderately high heat. Brown on all sides, transferring to a plate when done. Add remaining oil to the skillet and cook onion, stirring until softened. Stir in the water or stock and bring to a boil. Scrape up any browned bits from bottom of pan before adding meat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the lamb is tender (about 1 1/2 hours).

While lamb is cooking, combine the wild rice, water and salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil uncovered and then reduce heat to low and cover for 25 minutes, checking occasionally. At this point add the carrots and sweet potato to pot, and simmer until vegetables are beginning to soften, about 10 minutes. Drain any excess liquid at this point. Add the ginger, cinnamon, dates and apricots, stirring occasionally. Let cook covered 5-10 minutes more on low heat and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper, if needed. Serves 2. This recipe can be doubled or tripled

 Modified from a recipe from the California Lamb Council

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Buttermilk, is it butter or milk or what????

 

            What is buttermilk? Does buttermilk contain butter? Enquiring minds want to know. So many people labor under the misconception that buttermilk is a buttery, high-fat milk-ly drink. Nope, surprise, surprise there is no butter in buttermilk. Rather this slightly sour liquid is what’s left over after the “butter” has been churned out of it. Old fashioned buttermilk sometimes has tiny globs of sweet, creamy butter that did not quite make it to the top to be skimmed out.           Most commercial buttermilk, however, is made by adding a lactic acid cultures to pasteurized milk.

 The flavor of buttermilk is sort of like yogurt. It’s slightly thicker in texture than regular milk but not as heavy as cream.  Buttermilk is excellent in baked goods, and also as a soup and salad dressing base. It lends a rich, hearty flavor with fewer calories than milk or cream. The tangy flavor of buttermilk goes well with sweet fruits such as peaches, cherries, and pears, particularly as creme fraiche.
     

A lot of cooks like to dip meat, poultry and fish in buttermilk rather than milk before coating for frying and baking because of the slightly tangy flavor it imparts. If you have no buttermilk, you can make your own substitute, but go for the real thing if you can. Yogurt may be substituted for buttermilk on a 1 for 1 basis. Using buttermilk recipes usually calls for the inclusion of baking soda not baking powder. This is because the buttermilk has more acid than regular milk and using it with baking powder can upset the recipe balance of acid to alkali needed for leavening.

So, rule of thumb, when using buttermilk instead of milk, substitute baking soda for some or all for of the baking powder. For each cup of buttermilk used in place of sweet milk, reduce the amount of baking powder by 2 teaspoons, and replace with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.

The recipes below all depend on buttermilk for their distinctive taste. However, if you don’t want to buy a lot of buttermilk the following equivalents will help.

Buttermilk Substitutes, Equivalents and Measures

• 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup yogurt
• 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk PLUS 1 Tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice (let stand for 10 minutes before using in recipe)
• 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk PLUS 1-3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
• 1 cup buttermilk = 1/4 cup milk PLUS 3/4 cup yogurt

BUTTERMILK BLACK MAGIC CAKE

1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup dry cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup strong black coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat with mixer at med. speed for 2 minutes. (batter will be thin). Pour batter into a greased and floured (or sprayed) 13×9″ pan or two 9” cake pans. Bake for 35-40 min. for oblong pan or 30-35 min. for round cake pans. Cool and frost as desired.

CUCUMEBER AND TOMATO SALAD WITH BUTTERMILK DRESSING

2 cups mayonnaise
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh chives
6 medium cucumbers, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
8 beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
2 heads iceberg lettuce, cored and cut into 2-inch chunks

Whisk together mayonnaise, buttermilk, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste until smooth, then whisk in chives. Put cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce into bowls and serve with dressing.

GREEN ONION BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 cup flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper plus additional for sprinkling
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter
Coarse sea salt

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine buttermilk and green onions in medium bowl. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt cornmeal, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper in large bowl to blend. Add 1/2 cup chilled butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk mixture and stir until moist clumps form. Gather dough together. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead gently just to combine, about 3 to 4 turns. Roll out to 3/4-inch thickness. Using floured 2-inch cookie or biscuit cutter cut out rounds. Re-roll scraps and cut out additional rounds. Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops of biscuits with melted butter. Sprinkle each lightly with coarse sea salt and ground black pepper. Bake biscuits until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 12 to 14

BUTTERMILK PARMESAN SALAD DRESSING

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon minced dried onion
1 clove garlic — minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
 
Mix all ingredients except buttermilk in a small bowl. While stirring, slowly blend in buttermilk. Chill at least 2 hours before using

BUTTERMILK RANCH DRESSING

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

1/4 teaspoon of dry dill (or a teaspoon chopped fresh)

In a medium bowl, stir together the buttermilk and mayonnaise until fully mixed. Add in the other ingredients, adjusting for taste. Makes about 1 1/2 cups. Keeps for a week, covered in the fridge.

BLUEBERRY BUTTERMILK PANCAKES

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoon sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 cup milk

3 tablespoon melted butter

1 cup blueberries

1 tablespoon of butter or vegetable oil

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar. Mix the eggs, milk and buttermilk in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix until the batter just comes together. Add the melted butter. Mix lightly. Fold in the blueberries (or wait to add them once the batter has already been poured on the griddle – this will keep them from bleeding). Heat a flat iron surface – griddle or large pan – to medium high heat. Oil the pan with either a tablespoon of butter or vegetable oil. Ladle the pancake batter onto the griddle to the desired size, usually about 5 or 6 inches wide. When air bubbles start to bubble up to the surface at the center of the pancakes (about 2-3 minutes), use a flat spatula to flip them over. After a minute, peak under one for doneness. When golden or darker golden brown, they are done. Note that cooking the second side takes only about half as long as the first side. And the second side doesn’t brown as evenly as the first side. Serve immediately. Serves 3 to 4.

OVEN FRIED BUTTERMILK CHICKEN

The chicken needs to marinate overnight, so start this recipe a day in advance.

2 cups buttermilk

1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons hot sauce

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 skinless chicken thighs

4 skinless chicken drumsticks

1 1/4 cups corn flake crumbs

4 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl combine the buttermilk, garlic, hot sauce, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne and stir until evenly combined. Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels, then transfer to a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Pour buttermilk mixture over chicken, cover, and refrigerate 12 hours, turning once. Heat the oven to 400. Place a metal cooling rack inside a baking sheet and set aside.

Place corn flake crumbs in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture, letting excess drip off, and place in corn flake crumbs, turning to coat completely and pressing crumbs onto chicken. Transfer to the rack-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining chicken. Drizzle melted butter over chicken pieces. Bake the chicken on the cooling rack on the cookie sheet for 30 to 40 minutes until golden. Serves 4

BUTTERMILK LEMON MUFFINS

1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin pan. In large bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and lemon zest until light in color. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Stir this mixture into the egg mixture, in 2 or 3 additions, alternately with buttermilk. Beat only until combined – don’t over beat! – then spoon the batter into the well-greased (or paper-lined) muffin pan, filling the cups nearly to the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Makes 12 muffins.

Variations

Blueberry Muffins: Stir 1 cup fresh or frozen (don’t defrost them) blueberries into the batter before spooning it into the muffin pan.

Chocolate Chip Muffins: Stir 1 cup chocolate chips into the batter before spooning it into the muffins pan.

Poppy Seed Muffins: Mix 1/4 cup poppy seeds into the buttermilk and let soak while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Add to the batter and bake

Cranberry or Cherry Muffins: Stir 1 cup of chopped dried cranberries or dried cherries into the batter before baking.

BUTTERMILK WAFFLES

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, separated
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick butter, melted and cooled)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
 oil for brushing on waffle pan (spray stuff works great!)

In a bowl combine the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda.  In another bowl mix together the buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt and the egg yolks. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Brush the waffle iron lightly with oil and preheat it. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Beat the egg whites with the whisk or electric mixer until they hold soft peaks. Stir them gently into the batter.  Spread a ladleful or so of batter onto the waffle iron and bake until the waffle is done, usually 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your iron. Serve immediately or keep warm for a few minutes in a low oven. 4 to 6 servings

IRISH SODA BREAD

4 to 4 1/2 cups flour

2 Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

4 Tablespoon butter

1 cup raisins

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 cups buttermilk

 Preheat oven to 425. Sift together 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two knives (can also use your fingers), work butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then stir in raisins. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir. Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add in a little more flour. Do not over-knead! Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. Note that the dough will be a little sticky, and quite shaggy (a little like a shortcake biscuit dough). You want to work it just enough so that it comes together. If you over-knead, the bread will end up tough. Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet (it will flatten out a bit in the pan or on the baking sheet). Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about an inch or so deep in an “X” shape. The purpose of the scoring is to help heat get into the center of the dough while it cooks. Transfer to oven and bake until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45 minutes. (If you use a cast iron pan, it may take a little longer as it takes longer for the pan to heat up than a baking sheet.) Check for doneness also by inserting a long, thin skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If the top is getting too dark while baking, tent the bread with some aluminum foil.

Remove pan or sheet from oven, let bread sit in the pan or on the sheet for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool briefly. Serve bread warm, at room temperature, or sliced and toasted. Best when eaten warm and just baked.

Makes 1 loaf

Blue Cheese is really Blue

            This blog entry is dedicated to my friend Arlene and her love of blue cheese. Me not so much. In fact, on the scale of the cheeses that I love to eat and cook with (cheddar and brie among the top 5) blue is not even on the chart. When ever we eat lunch together and the opportunity to share a large Cobb salad comes up the first rule of our friendship is that the blue cheese ALWAYS goes on the side so I don’t even have to look at it, let alone smell it.

Blue cheese (also spelled bleu cheese) is a cow’s milk and/or goat’s milk cheeses with a vein of blue or blue-green mold running through it, Yeah, I know, eating mold, not so appetizing what you have to explain it. Much like wines, blue cheeses are a product of the areas in which they are created. True blue cheeses, like Roquefort, Gorgonzola, and Stilton are a “protected designation of origin” cheese. That means they can bear the particular cheese name ONLY if they have been made in a particular region in a particular country. Not surprising to me is the notion that Blue cheese is believed to have been discovered by accident. You think someone just said, oh yes, let’s put mold in cheese and eat it, yes, that’s a good idea? Me either.

Today most blue cheeses (bleu cheese) are either injected with the mold, as with Roquefort, or the mold is mixed right in with the curds, as it is with Gorgonzola, to insure even distribution of the mold throughout the cheese. Most of these cheeses are still aged in the original caves where they were first created.

The pungent flavor of blue cheeses tends to be sharp and salty. The smell of this cheese is widely considered to be strong, even compared to other smelly cheeses. It’s great (so some say) eaten all by itself or crumbled in or melted over different types of salads, breads, soups and meats.

Since Arlene is one of the best cooks I know I’ll take her word for it that blue cheese is actually tasty. I asked several cooking colleagues to point me towards and send me recipes that were tasty, easy and showcased how versatile blue cheese can be. I have not personally tested any of the following recipes (still don’t like blue cheese despite their reassurances) but have their guarantee that they’re delicious.

BLUE CHEESE DRESSING

1 package (4oz) blue cheese, crumbled
1 package (3oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup half and half

Reserve 1/3 cup of the crumbled blue cheese. In small mixer bowl, blend remaining blue cheese and the cream cheese on low speed. Add mayonnaise and half and half; beat on medium speed until creamy. Stir in reserved blue cheese. Cover; chill at least 3 hrs to blend flavors. About 1 2/3 cups.

Submitted by Ariel Weingart Washington DC

BABY GREENS, PEAR, WALNUT, AND BLUE CHEESE SALAD

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 medium shallot, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup olive oil
1 5-ounce bag mixed baby greens
2 large ripe pears, halved, cored, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped

In a small bowl combine the lemon juice, mustard, shallot and thyme. Whisk to blend. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
Toss greens in large bowl with enough dressing to coat. Divide greens among 6 plates. Top with pear slices, dividing equally. Sprinkle with cheese and walnuts. Drizzle lightly with remaining dressing and serve. Makes 6 first-course servings.

Bon Appitit September 2002

BLUE CHEESE WALNUT CRACKERS

Appetizer crackers with a hint of blue cheese.

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon cracked pepper, or to taste

8 ounces blue cheese, (1/2 cup)

1/4 cup butter, do not use margarine

1 cup chopped walnuts or 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and 1/2 cup chopped pecans 

2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

In a bowl combine flour and pepper. Cut in cheese and butter with a pastry blender or fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add walnuts and egg yolks. Stir until combined. Form mixture into a ball; knead with hands until it clings together. (10-20 minutes) Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a log approximately 9 inches long. Wrap logs in plastic – chill for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 425. Cut each log into 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick slices. Place slices slightly apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until the bottoms and edges are golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store tightly, covered in the refrigerator for up to one week. Serves 10 to 12.

BLUE CHEESE BURGERS

2 tablespoon plain yogurt

2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese

1 tablespoon mayonnaise or salad dressing

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef

3 green onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

6 Kaiser rolls, split

For sauce, in a small bowl stir together yogurt, blue cheese, mayonnaise or salad dressing, and mustard. Cover and chill until serving time. Crumble ground beef into a large bowl. Add green onions, bell pepper, salt and pepper; mix well. Shape mixture into six 3/4-inch-thick patties. Grill patties on an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 14 to 18 minutes or until meat in no longer pink, turning once. To serve, toast cut sides of Kaiser rolls on the grill. Serve patties in toasted rolls Top patties with sauce. Makes 6 servings.

STUFFED MUSHROOMS WITH BLUE CHEESE

16 large mushrooms
4 oz blue cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 tablespoons. butter
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Remove the mushroom stems and chop finely. Mix well the chopped stems, blue cheese, garlic, spinach, and salt and pepper. Melt the butter and coat the entire mushroom, inside and out. Stuff the mushrooms with as much stuffing as can fit. Bake at for 10 to 15 minutes until bubbly and browned. Makes 16.

From www.recipeland.com archives

APPLE SALAD WITH BLUE CHEESE

2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
2 tablespoon chopped red onion
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, chopped
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into eighths
1 head curly endive, washed, torn into pieces
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted
4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled

Place orange juice in small nonreactive pan over high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 35-40 minutes. Can be made 2-3 days in advance, and refrigerated. Place orange reduction, Marketplace Balsamic Vinegar, onion, and jalapeno in a food processor fitted with metal blade, process until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil until emulsified. Add the honey, salt and pepper, process 2 seconds.

Heat 3/4 cup of the orange vinaigrette in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add the apples, and saute until golden brown, turning until just cooked through, 2-3 minutes. Remove to plate and cool to room temperature. Can be made a day in advance, covered in refrigerator, bring to room temperature before serving.

Place endive in mixing bowl, toss with 4 tablespoons of the remaining orange vinaigrette, season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Pour remaining vinaigrette into squeeze bottle, if desired. Divide endive among 4 salad plates. Arrange 4 apple slices on each plate, garnish with pecans and Maytag blue cheese.

Drizzle with remaining orange vinaigrette.

Modified from Gourmet 1998

BUFFALO CHICKEN TENDERS WITH BLUE CHEESE COLESLAW

For the coleslaw:

6 medium celery stalks, trimmed

4 medium carrots, peeled and trimmed

1/2 medium head green cabbage

3 medium shallots, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1 cup crumbled blue cheese

For the chicken tenders:

4 pounds chicken tenders or boneless, skinless

4 cups panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

3 cups all-purpose flour

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

Peanut oil for frying

1 1/2 to 2 cups hot sauce

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)

For the coleslaw: Slice each celery stalk in half, then slice celery very thinly on a bias at a slight angle; you should have about 3 cups. Fit a mandoline or a food processor with a medium-toothed (about 1/8-inch) shredding blade. Cut carrots in half and shred them; you should have about 4 1/2 cups. Cut a v-shaped notch into the cabbage half on either side of the core to remove it then cut the cabbage in half again lengthwise. Slice cabbage pieces very thinly crosswise. Combine celery, carrots, cabbage, and shallots in a very large glass mixing bowl and set aside. In another bowl, combine vinegar, mayonnaise, and blue cheese, and mix well. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add dressing to vegetables, and mix until evenly coated. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

For the chicken tenders: Heat the oven to 200. If using chicken breasts, cut them on the bias into 1-1/2-inch-wide strips. In a large bowl, combine breadcrumbs and chopped parsley. Place flour, beaten eggs, and breadcrumb mixture in three separate shallow bowls (cake pans or pie plates work well). Coat 6 or 7 chicken tenders with flour. Tap off any excess, and then dip in the eggs, then the breadcrumbs, being sure to get an even coating. Place breaded chicken on a large plate or baking sheet. Repeat for all the strips. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat, and fill the bottom of the pan with a 1/2 inch of peanut oil. (As you fry, add oil as needed to maintain the 1/2-inch depth.) Heat oil to 350.

Add 6 chicken strips to the hot oil, and cook until nicely browned on 1 side, about 3 1/2 minutes. Use a slotted spatula or tongs to carefully turn the strips, and allow to finish cooking, 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove chicken from the pan and place on a baking sheet (preferably lined with a cooling rack); season immediately with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Repeat for all strips. Keep finished chicken tenders in the oven turned to low to keep warm and crisp. Do not stack on top of each other, or they will lose their crunch. Combine hot sauce and butter in a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is completely melted. When ready to serve, put chicken tenders in a large bowl and pour the sauce over them. Toss, and serve immediately with the coleslaw. Servings: 8 to 12 servings

Adapted from a Scott Youkilis recipe of San Francisco’s Maverick restaurant

BLUE CHEESE LOG

Three kinds of cheese and some curry powder make this cheese log a little livelier than most.
 
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Assorted crackers

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese. Fold in cheddar cheese and blue cheese. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. In a small skillet, sauté curry powder in butter for 1-2 minutes. Stir in pecans; cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir in parsley. Cool slightly. Roll cheese mixture into two logs, about 5 inches long. Roll in pecan mixture. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Serve with crackers. Makes 2 cheese logs.

From the Taste of Home’s Holiday & Celebrations Cookbook

CRISPY POTATO SALAD WITH BLUE CHEESE

1 1/2 lb small new potatoes

1 small green pepper– seeded and

3 tablespoon tarragon vinegar

Chopped

2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 medium carrot– shredded

1 teaspoon salt

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

1/8 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 eggs, hard-boiled — sliced

1/3 cup oil

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup radishes — sliced

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup cucumber — chopped

1/4 cup Blue cheese — crumbled

1 small onion– chopped

Tomato wedges, for garnish

Cook potatoes (unpeeled) in boiling salted water to cover until tender (25 to 30 minutes). Drain and slice while warm. Place in a large bowl. While potatoes cook, in a small bowl mix vinegar, mustard, salt, marjoram, pepper, and garlic. Using a whisk or fork, gradually beat in oil until well combined. Pour oil mixture over warm potatoes, stirring gently to coat potato slices. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or as long as overnight, if you wish). Lightly mix in radishes, cucumber, onion, pepper, carrot, celery, parsley and hard-cooked eggs. Mix mayonnaise and sour cream until smooth; stir in cheese. Fold mayonnaise mixture into potatoes. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours. Garnish with tomato wedges.

From the California Culinary Academy

WALDORF SALAD WITH CHICKEN AND BLUE CHEESE

1 Lime; juiced
3 tablespoon Light mayonnaise
2 oz Blue cheese; crumbled
1/4 cup Light sour cream
4 Boneless; skinless chicken breast halves, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 Granny Smith apples; cored and chopped into bite-sized pieces
4 Ribs celery; sliced
6 oz Leaf lettuce; preferably red
2 oz Walnuts; chopped, (about 1/2 cup) and toasted, if desired

Squeeze juice from lime into medium bowl; add mayonnaise, cheese and sour
cream. Whisk until well blended (or blend in food processor or blender).
Add chicken, apple and celery, stirring until coated with dressing. Divide
lettuce among 4 plates, mound quarter of chicken mixture in middle of each
plate, and top with quarter of walnuts. Serve salad with 4 wheat rolls,
warmed if desired, on side. Makes 4 servings.

Recipe from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel archives

TOMATOES WITH BLUE CHEESE DRESSING

1 1/4 cups fresh tomatoes

8 ounces package cream cheese

2 tablespoons blue cheese

Several lettuce leaves

1 onion, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

A handful parsley
Arrange a bed of lettuce and place sliced tomatoes on top. Mix cream cheese and crumbled blue cheese; add grated onion, salt, pepper. Use as a dressing for the tomatoes and garnish with parsley. Makes 4 servings.

Unknown author

RED ONION TART WITH BLUE CHEESE

Onion filling:
2 lbs. red onions or other onions, peeled, sliced
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
sprigs of chervil and a little reduced balsamic vinegar, for garnish

Pastry:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup oatmeal (not instant or 5 min)
2 1/2 oz. softened butter
3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoon cold water

Blue cheese topping:
4 oz. soft blue cheese
2 tablespoon plain yogurt

To prepare onion filling:
Place onions and vinegar in heavy saucepan. Cover with wax paper and lid. Cook gently for 30 minutes. Remove lid and paper, add honey and cook until liquid has almost evaporated. Season to taste. Keep warm.

To make pastry:
Blend flours, oatmeal, butter, cheese and salt in blender until consistency of fine crumbs. Add cold water and form a ball. Let pastry rest for 30 minutes, and then roll out. Line six 4 inch round fluted tins with pastry, prick with a fork, and then allow pastry to rest for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 325. Bake tarts until pale golden brown.

To prepare cheese:
Mash blue cheese with a fork and blend with the yogurt.

Remove warm baked pastry tarts from tins; place on large warm plates. Fill each with enough red-onion mixture to cover base, and place 1 spoonful of blue cheese mixture on top. Garnish with a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar and chervil sprigs.  Makes 6 appetizer servings.

From http://www.about.com

BLT PASTA SALAD WITH BLUE CHEESE

8 oz. bow-tie pasta, cooked, rinsed and drained

1 pint cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved

6 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

1 cup packed arugula leaves, rinsed, thick stems removed

1/3 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoon red wine vinegar

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

8 thick cut slices of smoked bacon, cooked until crisp

4-6 oz blue cheese

In a bowl, combine the cooked pasta, tomatoes, scallions, and arugula. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, mustard, lemon juice and vinegar together until well combined. Season the dressing to taste with salt and pepper, and toss the pasta and vegetables. Crumble the crisp bacon and the blue cheese over the salad and toss to combine thoroughly. Serves 4 to 6.

Submitted by Gary and Cheryl Quinn Arlington Hts.IL

Yummy Onions

 

            First question I’m always asked about onions is why do they make you cry and what can you do about it. It’s a chemical kind of answer. Onions contain complex sulfur compounds. When you cut into an onion, two chemical reactions take place. First cut into an onion releases its enzymes which comes in the form of strong odor. The cutting also releases allicin (sulfur gas) that irritates the eyes nose and mouth and makes you look like a running faucet.

Many a cook has their own method for avoiding those to be anticipated tears while peeling onions. I’m talking everything from wearing scuba goggles to peeling and chopping the onions while holding them under running water (not so easy to do). While the running water trick actually works its not really practical. I have a better suggestion. Put the onion in the refrigerator until it’s very cold and then chop it. Yes, this does take a little bit of prior planning but think of the tissue you’ll save.  Very cold onions seem to have less of an effect on the eyes and nose.

Onions come in a variety of colors, white yellow, and red (or purple), while flavors range from mild and sweet to strong and REALLY strong. Yellow onions are full flavored and work in just about any recipe. The red onion, my favorite, is a good choice when fresh or lightly cooked ones are called for (wonderful for grilling and char-broiling). White onions are typically used for milder dishes.

Most onions are sold loose by the pound, although some types are sold in 5 or 10 pound bags. Look for onions that feel dry and solid all over, with no soft spots or sprouts. The neck should be tightly closed and the outer skin should have a crackly feel and a shiny appearance.

Onions should be stored in a cool, dry open ventilated space away from bright light. Onions absorb moisture so please don’t store them under the sink or near anything toxic. Also, it’s not a great idea to store onions near potatoes because potatoes give off moisture and produce a gas that causes onions to spoil more quickly.

            Like I said, red onions are my favorite and they are available year around. So while the red onion would be my first choice for the follow recipes any color can be substituted.

ITALIAN ZUCCHINI AND RED ONION
Great hot or at room temperature

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices red onion (about 1 large)
2 pounds small zucchini, cut lengthwise into (1/4-inch-thick) slices
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh oregano (or 2 teaspoons dried)

Prepare grill to medium-high heat. Combine the olive oil, red onions and zucchini in a bowl. Sprinkle the mixture with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; toss gently to coat. Arrange vegetables in a single layer on a grill rack; grill 4 minutes on each side or until zucchini is tender and vegetables are well marked. Remove zucchini from grill; reduce grill heat to medium-low. Grill onion an additional 5 minutes or until tender. Combine zucchini, onion, and vinegar in a large bowl, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, cheese, and oregano. Serves 4 to 6.

MEXICAN RED ONION SOUP

3 tablespoons of olive oil
6 large red onions thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of oregano, dried, crumbled
3/4 teaspoon of ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 cup of red wine vinegar
1/3 cup of orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
7 cups of stock
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper

In a stockpot or 5-quart Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, for about 30 minutes or until softened and slightly colored. Sprinkle the onions with the sugar, oregano, coriander, cumin, allspice and cinnamon; cook for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the red wine vinegar and orange juice and cook for another 4 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in the stock and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Adjust the heat so that the mixture simmers gently, cover, and cook 20 minutes longer. Stir in the salt and pepper.

GARLIC WHITE BEANS WITH RED ONIONS AND SPINACH

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 bunches spinach (about 1 pound), washed

2 15-ounce cans white beans (cannellini beans), rinsed and drained

salt to taste

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red onion, peeled, halved and sliced

freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the red onion, season lightly with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Turn up the heat and cook until the onion turns light brown on the edges.  Lower the heat to medium, add the white beans and cook until the beans are thoroughly heated.  Add the spinach and balsamic vinegar. Continue cooking until the spinach is just wilted. Adjust the seasonings and serve. Serves 4.

RED ONION TART

Delicious warm or cold

3 tablespoons butter

1 lb 10 oz red onions, sliced very thinly

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 fl oz white wine

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (1/2 teaspoon dried)

Salt and pepper

12 oz puff pastry

4 fresh figs, quartered (optional)

walnut oil (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425. Grease a 9 inch tart pan with butter. Slice the onions very thinly. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and cook the onions for about 10 minutes until very soft, take care not to brown the onions. Add the wine, vinegar and thyme and cook until all the liquid has evaporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cut 2 discs of pastry to the size of the tart dish. Cover the pastry with the cooked onions mixture. Place a disc of pastry over the onion mixture and tuck the edges in. Prick the top of the pastry all over with a fork, (this will allow the steam to escape during cooking and therefore keeps the pastry crisp).  Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden and risen. Place a large plate over the tart dish, invert and shake firmly to release the tart. Serve warm with the figs and drizzle with a little walnut oil. Serves 4.

GREEN BEANS WITH CARAMELIZED RED ONIONS

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 medium red onions (about 1 3/4 pounds), cut into 16 wedges each
1 pound green beans, trimmed
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 to 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add green beans and cook, uncovered, until crisp-tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Drain. Add broth to the onions; cook for 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Add the beans, cover and cook for 2 minutes. Serve warm. Serves 8.

RED HOT RED ONION RINGS

Onions:
2 red onions, peeled, cut in 1/4-inch thick slices, separated into rings
3/4 cup olive oil
1 cup buttermilk

Seasoned Flour:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons black pepper

Vegetable oil, for frying

In bowl, toss onions with olive oil. Cover; refrigerate 2 hours, tossing twice. Add the buttermilk and mix to coat. Refrigerate an additional 1 hour. In bowl, mix together the flour, cayenne, red pepper, paprika, salt and pepper. Heat 2 inches oil in deep fryer or large pot.

Remove onion rings, a few at a time, from buttermilk mixture; coat them with the flour mixture. Place the coated rings on wax-paper–lined baking sheet. Re-dip coated onion rings, a few at a time, in buttermilk mixture, then in flour, until thickly coated. Fry in batches in hot oil (4 to 6 rings) 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Serve. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled

CHICKEN PLUM AND RED ONION KEBABS WITH COUSCOUS

1/2 cup oil

1/3 cup apricot jam

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, quartered

8 plums (about 2 pounds), quartered lengthwise

1 red onion, quartered lengthwise and halved crosswise

1 tablespoon olive oil

One 10-ounce box plain instant couscous

1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

In a medium bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, jam, vinegar and soy sauce. Add the chicken and toss to coat; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.  Transfer the marinated chicken to a bowl. Pour the marinade into a small saucepan, boil for 2 minutes, then let cool. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium. Thread the chicken, plums and onion onto 8 skewers. Grill the kebabs, turning occasionally and basting frequently with the marinade during the first 6 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Stir in the olive oil and then the couscous, cover, remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork, add the almonds and toss. Serve the couscous alongside the kebabs.

Note: you can replace the plums with peaches, nectarines or apricots.

GRILLED CHICKEN SANDWISH WITH RED ONION SALSA

Onion Salsa

1 small red onion, cut into 4 slices

1 tomato, cut into 4 slices

6 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

4 dashes red pepper sauce (up to 10)

Salt and ground or cracked black pepper

Sandwich

3 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon black pepper

4 boneless, skinless chicken-breast halves (1-1/4 lb.)

Salt

8 slices Sourdough bread,1/2-inch-thick

1/4 cup Mayonnaise

Assorted baby lettuces

Heat grill. Make the smoky red onion salsa: Grill onion and tomato slices 2 minutes per side. Chop coarsely and transfer to bowl. Stir in the lime juice, cilantro and red pepper sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 2 cups.

In a small bowl combine chili powder, cumin and pepper. Rub the mixture all over the chicken. Sprinkle with salt. Grill chicken over medium-hot heat until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Grill bread until golden, 30 to 60 seconds per side. Top 4 bread slices with mayonnaise, lettuces, chicken, then salsa. Top

with remaining bread. Serves 4.

Noodle Me This

            When my son discovered that the money train AKA his parents credit card had left when he entered grad school he quickly discovered the joys of pasta, or more specifically, ramen noodles. Left to his own devices (and given his limited time to spend in the kitchen) this staple in his pantry would have been the entree of choice. I convinced him, though a little culinary magic, a few simple recipes and a $50 gift card to Kroger have to try a few different types of noodles to kick up his menu variety.

            Created in China (not Italy as most people believe) noodles were an integral part of the Chinese diet from as early as 200 B.C There are several kinds of noodles in Chinese cuisine, mien noodles (egg), rice noodles, wheat noodles and bean noodles. In northern China, wheat noodle are eaten more regularly than rice or rice noodles. Rice noodles are considered a southern Chinese staple. I told my son that while there were nice inexpensive “Americanized” alternatives to the Asian noodles (lets not forget Japan here) that the originals were actually tastier and more interesting.

The first noodle I introduced him to was the Soba noodle. A Soba noodle is made with wheat flour and buckwheat. It’s high in fiber and has a nutty full bodied flavor. The higher the buckwheat content the more expensive the noodle. Soba noodles are typically served in soups or with a plain with a dipping sauce. Less expensive alternative: whole wheat spaghetti or linguini.

He already knew about Ramen but for the uninformed, Ramen are thin and skinny curly dried egg noodles that are typically sold in an instant soup form. There is usually a packet of flavored instant soup powder in the package. My son has eaten it for years and has added veggies and left over chicken or turkey. There isn’t really a less expensive alternative as they are cheap cheap cheap but regular spaghetti noodles are pretty close.
            Rice noodles are round or flat, thin and slightly translucent white noodles made from rice flour and water. They kinda have zero flavor of their own (just a great squishy texture) and they pair with just about any strong meat of fish flavor. You can substitute vermicelli, linguine, or fettuccine but it’s not really a close match.

Bean thread, cellophane or mung bean noodles are very thin noodles that are semi-transparent noodles made from the starch of mung beans. Bean threads become very slippery when cooked. Their subtle flavor is the perfect complement to any meat or fish dish. I would suggest rice noodles or vermicelli as a substitute but they are sort of a one of a kind noodle.

For most the tried and true method of cooking noodles is to boil the and then add them to the other ingredients, pour sauce over them or add ingredients to the pot they were cooked in. I really don’t have much to add to that for my column other than don’t over cook them and read the instructions on the package.

If possible try and buy fresh noodles as opposed to the dried variety. Fresh noodles should be soft but not limp, sticky, or brittle. Fresh will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator and for 1 month in the freezer. Dried noodles can be kept until just about the next ice age in a cool, dry, dark place.

One final “noodle note” those ‘chow mein’ found in most Chinese restaurants are an American invention so if you’re looking for “authentic” pass the up and get yourself the real stuff.

SLEEPING DRAGON NOODLE SALAD

1/4 cup sesame oil

1 tablespoon hot sauce

2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

zest of 1 lemon

3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

2 carrots julienned

1/4 cup chopped celery

4 radishes julienned

2 cups shredded Chinese cabbage

4 packages ramen egg noodles, cooked, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons black or toasted sesame seeds

In a large salad bowl combine the sesame oil, hot sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the noodles and toss to coat. Add shredded cabbage and toss to coat. Add the green onions, carrot, celery and radishes. Toss to combine and top with sesame seeds before serving. Serves 8.

SHRIMP NOODLE STIR FRY

2 teaspoon cornstarch

2 egg whites

1/3 to 1/2 lb shelled shrimp (raw) cut in half

3/4 lb noodles (any kind will work but I like soba noodle with this)

salt

3 tablespoons sesame oil

3 to 4 green onions cut into 1 inch pieces

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon ginger

1 1/2 tablespoon white wine

1 1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

In a bowl mix the cornstarch and ginger with the egg white and whisk to combine. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Set aside. Cook the noodles in boiling salted water for about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Heat the 3 tablespoons sesame oil in a skillet. Add the green onion, and shrimp and stir fry for about 1 minute. Add the soy sauce, wine and sugar and mix to combine. Cook for about 1 minute. Add the noodles and mix to combine. Continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes and just before you’re finished add 1 teaspoon sesame oil, cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly and serve. Serves then add the sesame seed oil just before serving. Serves 2 to 4

Modified from a recipe submitted by Carlie Smyth Chicago IL

HOT AND SPICEY PORTABELLA AND EDAMAME WITH NOODLES
 

For sauce
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons Wasabi paste (this is hot, you can use less)
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 cup oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
10 ounces portabella mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
8 cups shredded Napa cabbage
6 green onions, thinly sliced
8 to 9 ounces soba
1 cup frozen shelled edamame

3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

In a bowl combine the water, soy sauce, Wasabi and brown sugar and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Set the sauce aside.  Heat the oil in skillet then add the ginger and garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the portabellas and saute, stirring frequently for 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat and add cabbage and 2/3’s of the green onions (save a tablespoon for garnish) and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the sauce and simmer 2 minutes.

While cabbage is cooking, cook the soba and edamame together in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until the noodles are just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the noodles and edamame in a colander and rinse with cool water. Place the noodles and edamame in a large bowl and add the vegetable mixture. Mix to combine. Serve sprinkled with remaining green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

BOTH SIDES BROWNED NOODLES

Kind of like a noodle pancake

1 pound fresh or dried egg noodles

2 tablespoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil (or more if needed)

In a large stock pot, add enough water to cover the noodles and bring the water to a boil. Add the noodles, stirring to separate. Cook until the noodles almost done, tender, but still firm. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Place the noodles back into the pot and add the sesame oil and toss to coat. In a frying pan or a wok, heat 2 tablespoons oil over a high heat. Add the noodles. Spread the noodles out to the edges of the pan, and then let them cook, without stirring, until they are browned on the bottom (6 to 8 minutes). Flip over and brown the other side. You can do this by placing a plate over the top of the pan, flipping the noodles out onto it and then sliding them back into the pan. You may need to add a little more oil to keep them from sticking. Cook on the second side until crispy, 4 to 5 more minutes. Remove the fried noodle pancake to a serving plate.  Cut into wedges and serve with stir fried vegetables or grilled meat. Serves 4 to 6.

Submitted by Tony Easteron River Grove IL

WARM GINGER AND PEANUT NOODLE SALAD

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon wasabi

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound uncooked angle hair pasta or linguini

1 1/2 cups shredded carrot

1/3 to 1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise

1 cup thin strips red or yellow bell pepper

3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

1 can sliced water chestnuts

1/2 to 3/4 cup honey roasted peanuts

In a large bowl combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, sesame oil, Wasabi and garlic. Whisk to combine and set aside. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. When the noodles are al dente (still a little crunchy) turn off the heat and add the carrot and snow peas. Let the mixture sit for 2 minutes then drain, saving 1/4 cup of the liquid. Add the drained pasta and noodles to the salad dressing in the salad bowl. Toss to coat. Add the bell pepper, water chestnuts and onions. Toss to coat. Add the pasta water and toss to coat. Sprinkle the honey roasted peanuts on top and serve warm. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled

SPICY CASHEW NOODLE SALAD

8 oz dried linguini, spaghetti, or soba noodles

2 cups broccoli florets cut small

1/4 pound pea pods, sliced in 1/3’s

1 carrot, peeled, julienned

1/2 red onion chopped fine

3 tablespoons sesame oil

2 to 3 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 tablespoon soy sauce

3 tablespoons lime juice (fresh is best)

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

3 green onions, sliced

1 large tomato seeded and chopped

1/2 cup red pepper, julienned

1 cup toasted cashews

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse and drain again and then set it aside. Steam the broccoli, pea pods, and carrots for about 2 minutes, making sure they are still crisp. Rinse them in cold water and set them aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil in a frying pan, add onion, ginger and garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes until just soft. Add the green onions, tomato and red pepper. Mix to combine and cook for about 2 minutes. In a bowl combine the lime juice, remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, soy sauce. Add the sauteed onion mixture to the sauce and mix to combine. Add the noodles and steamed vegetables to the sauce. Toss to coat the pasta. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Great at room temperature or served cold. Before serving sprinkle the pine nuts on the top. Serves 6.

SALSA SHRIMP AND NOODLE SOUP

1 lb shrimp, peeled and divined

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

5 cups water

2 packages shrimp flavored Ramen Noodles (use 1 packet of seasoning)

2 cups salsa

1 15 oz can black beans rinsed and drained

1 can corn

1 green onion thinly sliced

In a medium bowl combine the lemon juice chili powder, cumin, and pepper. Mix to combine and add the shrimp. Toss to coat and let sit for 1/2 hour. In a large sauce pan bring water to boil, stir in 1 ramen flavor packet, break the ramen noodles into pieces and add them to the saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil cook for 1 minute. Add shrimp, salsa, beans, corn, and green onion and then reduce the soup to a simmer. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the shrimp turns pink. Serves 4.

Submitted by Lenore Hentz Trenton NJ

ASPARAGUS AND NOODLE STIR FRY

3 oz. pkg. oriental or shrimp flavor ramen noodle soup mix

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 lb. asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces

1 red bell pepper, cut into strips

1 red onion, chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 lb. sea scallops cut in half

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Cook and drain ramen noodles as directed on the package and set them aside. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in wok or large skillet. Add the asparagus, bell pepper, onion and garlic. Stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add the scallops and stir-fry until they are white and firm. Add the ramen seasoning packet, soy sauce, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and hot sauce and stir into scallop mixture. Stir in the cooked noodles. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes until everything is hot throughout. Serves 4 to 6.

Modified from about.com

To Cobb or Not to Cobb?

Having a huge salad for lunch or dinner is a good thing. All your nutrition and healthy stuff lumped together in one bowl topped with a nice vinaigrette or creamy ranch is just about (calories aside, of course) the best meal you can make.  I am a big fan of the Cobb salad. Ok, let me modify that, I really like everything about a Cobb salad EXCEPT for the blue cheese is inexorably linked with the original version of the dish. When I’m splitting one of these babies with my friend Arlene I inevitably ask for the blue cheese to be served on the side so she (who is still one of my dearest friends despite her unreasonable penchant for blue cheese) can have my portion. Since I never met I recipe I didn’t try and change and since the blue cheese is a key ingredient in the original recipe I thought it might be fun to find as many blue cheese free variations as I could on the theme.

The original Cobb salad was created in about 1936 by Robert Cobb, owner of the famous Hollywood eatery the Brown Derby. He was supposedly strolling through his kitchen one night, got an attack of the munchies and decided to make himself a little snack, a salad. He supposedly started pulling things out of the refrigerator and put together a unique and spectacular salad. The salad became an instant hit on the menu and variations of it have been served everywhere since.

Regardless of the ingredients you choose to use, include, delete or experiment with, the presentation of the Cobb salad plays an integral part in its appeal. The ingredients should be uniformly chopped, diced or julienned, arranged in stripes on top the lettuce, and dressed with a dressing (it can be served on the side too). The original Cobb salad dressing was a French dressing. Today’s new and improved Cobb salads are usually offered with either a house “special” dressing or the dinner’s choice. Since French dressing goes especially well with blue cheese those of you that must have it in your salad might want to try that variety first.

In my not so humble opinion a Cobb salad, other than the original recipe, is a variation on a theme salad that reflect a creative chefs need to throw everything but the kitchen sink in a bowl and serve it. The following recipes exemplify that quality and if none of them suite your fancy or palate, go ahead and create your own.

Note that in all the recipes the measurement of the ingredients included is not an exact science can be modified up or down to accommodate your own personal preferences or desires.

EILEENS TAKE ON A CLA SSIC COBB SALAD

3 to 4 cups iceberg lettuce, chopped or shredded
1 small bunch curly endive, torn into small pieces
2 to 3 cups romaine lettuce, chopped or shredded
1/4 cup green onions sliced thin
2 tomatoes, diced
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
6 to 8 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
1 to 2 avocado, peeled and diced or sliced
3 hard cooked eggs, sliced or chopped
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup French Dressing

Mix all the lettuce and green onions together in a large bowl. Arrange the mixed greens on a large shallow platter, in a serving bowl or arrange on individual serving dishes. Place the tomatoes, chicken, bacon, avocado and eggs in rows (strips) or like spokes on a wheel on top of the lettuce. Sprinkle the blue cheese on top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Drizzle the dressing on top and toss OR serve the dressing on the side, which ever you prefer. Serves 6

CRAB COBB SALAD

6 cups red leaf and romaine lettuce chopped or torn into pieces

1 lb cooked crab meat (the fake stuff is ok)
1 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (or blue cheese if you must)
6 to 7 pieces of turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup ready made red wine vinaigrette dressing (low fat is ok)

Place the torn or chopped lettuce in the bottom of a wide bowl. Decoratively arrange, in rows or like spokes on a wheel, the crabmeat, tomatoes, cheese, onion and bacon. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Drizzle the dressing over the top of the salad just before serving or serve the dressing on the side, which ever you prefer.  Serves 4

modified from a recipe submitted by Aimee Konover NY, NY

EILEEN’S COBB SANDWICH

1/4 cup French dressing

4 croissants split in half

Red lettuce leaves

1 tomato, sliced thin

1 avocado sliced thin

1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts

4 slices Canadian bacon

3 hard cooked eggs, sliced

Spread the French dressing on both sides of the cut croissant. Place the lettuce on top of one cut half. Place the tomato, Canadian bacon, avocado, sprouts and the slices of egg on top of the lettuce. Cover the bottom half of the sandwich with the top of the croissant and secure with a toothpick.  Serves 4

ASIAN COBB SALAD

There is no cheese in this recipe but if you must try a shredded Munster or Havarti

6 to 8 grilled chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces

3 to 4 avocados, peeled and diced

3 cups chopped lettuce (romaine, bib, spring greens etc)

3 cups Napa cabbage, shredded

3 carrots, peeled and julienned

1 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced

1⁄2 cup bean sprouts

1 cup sugar snap peas

2 to 3 tablespoons green onions, sliced

3 to 4 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley

1 cup rice noodles

1/2 cup toasted almonds

Dressing:

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon chili flakes

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon minced garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a lid and cover. Shake to combine and set aside. In large serving bowl, mix the shredded lettuce, cabbage, snap peas, bean sprouts, and parsley. Toss to combine. On top of the lettuce mixture decoratively place the chicken, avocados, carrots, green onions and mushrooms. Sprinkle the rice noodles and almonds on top. Drizzle the dressing over the top of the salad and serve. Serves 8

GRILLED SALMON COBB

2 to 3 lbs salmon steaks, grilled (leftover salmon works great too)

4 to 5 cups chopped romaine lettuce

6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1 to 2 avocados, peeled, sliced, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups chopped tomatoes

1 red pepper, sliced thin

1 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup store bought garlic vinaigrette dressing (low fat is fine)

Grill the salmon any way you like. Let cool and cut into bite size pieces. Place the lettuce in a salad bowl. Arrange the avocado, tomato, pepper and bacon on the top. Place the grilled salmon on top of that and then top with the feta. Drizzle the dressing on top and serve. Serves 6

Submitted by Carol Springer-Miller Lake Forest IL

Candy Apples 4 U and Me

 

So what exactly is a candy apple and where did it come from? Well, surprisingly, Newark, New Jersey is the place of origin and the year was 1908. William Kolk, a confectioner was experimenting with red cinnamon candy for Christmas and he dipped some apples into the leftover mixture. He put the brightly colored apples in the windows for display and they sold like hot cakes (or candy apples if you prefer that analogy). Soon candied apples were being sold not just in Jersey but up and down the East Coast (think Coney Island, circuses and carnivals) and in candy shops across the country. While the original coatings were sugar/candy based, caramel and chocolate topping soon became popular. The stick that’s almost always in the middle was there from the beginning and it obviously just makes them easier to eat.

With apples available year around you can make candy and caramel apples anytime. However, they are especially popular in the fall with apple festivals, Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day. The recipes can swing from the ultra easy unwrap pre made caramels, melt them in the microwave and dip your apples to the use a candy thermometer and make your own caramel or candy coating.  You can, of course, make really elaborate apples by covering the coating with chocolate (white or dark), nuts, candy and anything else you can think of. Time and willingness to get up close and personal with a candy thermometer will determine what type of covered apple you make.

 I prefer to use tart, crisp apples such as Granny Smith or MacIntosh but you can use any apple you happen to have handy. It’s important to remove the wax that might be on the apples you purchase from the grocery (the wax is used to help preserve the apple during shipping). Wash and dry the apple very well.

Some might say, hey, why go to the bother of making caramel apples when you can just buy them in just about any grocery store or gourmet candy store. My answer is: why pay a bazillion dollars for a mega apple or one that was made weeks ago when you can make your own ultimate apple for a fraction of the cost and ten times the taste?

GRENADINE CANDY APPLES (pareve)

I cut this recipe out of a House & Garden magazine in 1998 and have been using it ever since

6 red apples
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup grenadine syrup
2/3 cup light corn syrup

Place a large cooling rack on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.

Insert a fork into the top of each apple. Combine the sugar, grenadine, and light corn syrup in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, brushing down any crystals on the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in warm water. When the sugar is dissolved, bring to a boil until the syrup reaches 285° on a candy thermometer, the soft-crack stage. Set the pan over-not in-boiling water. Working quickly, uses the forks to dip the apples, one at a time, coating them evenly with the glaze. Remove from glaze and twirl each apple so the extra syrup drips off. Set the apple on the cooling rack. When you have dipped all the apples once, repeat the process. Remove the forks.

Serve at room temperature. Best eaten within 24 hours. Makes 6.

OLD FASHION CARAMEL APPLES (dairy)

1 1-pound box dark brown sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

2/3 cup dark corn syrup

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon robust-flavored (dark) molasses

1/4 teaspoon salt

12 chopsticks

12 medium Granny Smith apples

Assorted decorations (such as chopped nuts, dried apricots toffee bits, mini M&M’s and candy sprinkles)

Melted dark, milk and/or white chocolates

Whipping cream (if necessary)

In a sauce pan combine the brown sugar, butter, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup, maple syrup, vanilla, molasses and salt.  Stir with wooden spatula or spoon over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves (no crystals are felt when caramel is rubbed between fingers), occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush, about 15 minutes. Attach clip-on candy thermometer to side of pan.  Increase heat to medium-high; cook caramel at rolling boil until thermometer registers 236, stirring constantly but slowly with clean wooden spatula and occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush, about 12 minutes. Pour caramel into metal bowl (do not scrape pan). Submerge thermometer bulb in caramel; cool, without stirring, to 200, about 20 minutes.

While caramel cools, line 2 baking sheets with foil; butter foil. Push 1 chopstick into stem end of each apple. Set up decorations and melted chocolates. Holding chopstick, dip 1 apple into 200 caramel, submerging all but very top of apple. Lift apple out, allowing excess caramel to drip back into bowl. Turn apple caramel side up and hold for several seconds to help set caramel around apple. Place coated apple on prepared foil. Repeat with remaining apples and caramel, spacing apples apart (caramel will pool on foil). If caramel becomes too thick to dip into, add 1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream and briefly whisk caramel in bowl over low heat to thin. Chill apples on sheets until caramel is partially set, about 15 minutes. Lift 1 apple from foil. Using hand, press pooled caramel around apple; return to foil. Repeat with remaining apples. Firmly press decorations into caramel; return each apple to foil.Or dip caramel-coated apples into melted chocolate, allowing excess to drip off, then roll in nuts or candy. Or drizzle melted chocolate over caramel-coated apples and sprinkle with decorations. Chill until decorations are set, about 1 hour. Cover; chill up to 1 week.

Modified from www.epicurious.com
BROWN SUGAR CANDY APPLES (pareve)

BEWARE the cooked syrup is very sticky can burn. Parental supervision suggested!
2 cups light brown sugar
2/3 to 1 cup water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
6 to 8 apples with sticks (skewered)

Place wax paper on a cookie sheet and set it aside. Combine all ingredients except the lemon extract into a small, deep saucepan. Mix with a wooden spoon to evenly distribute the ingredients; place over medium high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Be sure that all the ingredients come to a boil and reach about 290° to 300° on your candy thermometer. Once the product has reached its set temperature, add the lemon extract and mix to combine. Dip the apples and place the dipped apples on the prepared pan. Makes 6 to 8.

RED CANDIED APPLES (pareve)

BEWARE the cooked syrup is very sticky can burn. Parental supervision suggested!

12 red delicious apples

12 wooden skewers

4 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1 tsp red food coloring

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup chopped peanuts

Grease a large cookie sheet and set aside. Wash and dry apples. Insert a stick through stem, leaving about two inches sticking out. In saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, corn syrup, food coloring and water. Cook, stirring constantly, until ingredients are dissolved and liquid boils. Set a candy thermometer in mixture and continue cooking, without stirring until temperature reaches 290 degrees, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile place chopped peanuts in a bowl. Remove syrup from heat and dip the apples, one by one, to coat evenly. Work quickly. As you dip each apple roll in peanuts to coat then place on prepared cookie sheet. Let apples cool for at least an hour. Makes 12

MARSHMALLOW CARAMEL APPLES (dairy)

1 package (14 oz) caramels

2 cups kosher miniature marshmallows (divided)

1 tbsp. water 5 or 6 small apples

1 cup chopped honey roasted peanuts

Wooden skewers

6 tart apples (granny smith or rome)

Line baking sheet with buttered waxed paper; set aside. Combine caramels, 1 cup marshmallows and water in medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until caramels melt. Cool slightly while preparing apples. Rinse and dry apples. Insert skewers into apples. In a shallow bowl combine the remaining marshmallows and chopped peanuts. Dip each apple in caramel mixture, coating apples. Press the bottom of the coated apple into the marshmallow and peanut mixture. Place the apple on the prepared sheet. Refrigerate until firm. Makes 6

CARAMEL APPLE CRISP (dairy)

Tastes almost as delicious as a caramel apple on a stick but it’s hot and you eat it with a spoon.

1 cup orange juice

10 cups apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

2 cups all-purpose flour 

1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed

3 cups oatmeal, (old fashioned)

1 cup unsalted butter

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (or freshly ground nutmeg to taste) 

1 package (14 oz.) caramels, quartered

Preheat oven to 350. Spray baking pan with non stick cooking spray.

Mix together flour, brown sugar, oatmeal, and spices. Cut in* butter until mixture becomes crumbly. Press 1/2 of crumb mixture into bottom of prepared baking pan. Layer 1/2 of apples and 1/2 of quartered caramels over crumb mixture.

Sprinkle with 1 cup of crumb mixture. Repeat layer of 1/2 of apples and 1/2 of quartered caramels over crumb mixture. Press remaining crumb mixture over top. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of orange juice and bake uncovered for 35 minutes.

Remove and drizzle with remaining 1/2 cup of orange juice. Continue baking 25 minutes or until apples are soft and mixture is bubbly.

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