Saturday, November 7, 2015

Crab Rangoon Dunk & Chips

   Just like the best Crab Rangoon appetizers you've ever had at an Asian restaurant, this easy delectable dunk and chips recipe will amaze you!  Its familiarly warm, savory and nutty flavors will be a favorite for your family and friends. Ready? Let's do it.

Preheat oven to 375° 
14 oz cream cheese ( 1 1/2 pkgs. Can use lighter neufchatel)
1/2 cup sour cream 
15 oz. pouched crab meat or 3 cans well drained white crab meat*
4 green onions, finely diagonally chopped
2 tbs finely chopped of each: red bell pepper, green bell pepper

3 tsp. powdered sugar
2 tsp. of each: garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder
1 tbs each: cayenne, white pepper
2 tbs fresh lemon juice

In a large bowl, melt the cream cheese in the microwave for about a minute. 
Add the sour cream and green onions, bell peppers and crab meat. Mix. Add powdered sugar, remaining seasonings and lemon juice. Fold and mix well.

Pour mixture into lightly buttered shallow 8 inch oven-proof dish or something similar as shown.
Bake for about 30 minutes till brown and bubbly on top and edges. (Ovens vary, so you may have to add an extra few minutes.) Remove and let cool at least 5 minutes.
Top with a sprig of parsley and thin slice of lemon for freshness and  pretty presentation.

Wonton Chips:
In an oil sprayed cookie sheet, fold 2-3 dozen wonton wrappers* into double-edged triangles. Spray over the tops. Bake at 400°  for about 8-10 min just until they are brown
WATCH CAREFULLY so that they don't char. Remove from oven and use for dunking.

Store in fridge and reheat future portions.

* If you do NOT like shellfish or have allergies, you can use imitation crab meat.

** Although the wonton chips will be so much like the rangoon itself, you can use wonderful pork rinds or pita chips.

Questions, comments or reviews? Please indulge me with your words!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Double Cheese Soufflé

Double Cheese Soufflé

             Simple ingredients with the following technique will make you look like a food artist. Wow your family and friends with this beautifully light, melt- in -your- mouth brunch favorite. I give Ina Gartner much of the credit since her recipe upgraded my original.
            Pookah ( invisible friend) and I made it even more delish by adding some different cheeses you probably already have on hand. Just remember.  You can prepare ahead of time, but I strongly recommend you do not set your party time till you pop it in the oven! ( I made it like a game and told them an approximate time, but not to come till I called them!  Yes. Really!)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for coating the dish
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, some for sprinkling
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup ea: Half & Half, whole milk or Heavy Whipping Cream heated slightly in microwave
Sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg and ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 ounces sharp cheddar shreds, 2 slices American cheese and 3 ounces good Roquefort cheese,

4 jumbo or extra large egg yolks, at room temperature
5 jumbo or extra large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Butter the inside of an 8-cup souffle dish (7 1/2 inches in diameter and 3 1/4 inches deep) and sprinkle evenly with some parmesan cheese.

Make a roux:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. With a spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the warmed milks, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, the cayenne, and nutmeg. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for a  moment till thick and smooth.

Take off the heat. While still warm, whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the Roquefort, cheddar shreds and American cheese, and the 1/4 cup of Parmesan and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Put the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in a seperate bowl. With an electric mixer (or standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment) beat on low speed for 1 minute, on medium speed for 1 minute, then, finally on high speed until they form firm, glossy peaks.

Whisk 1/4 of the egg whites into the cheese sauce till lemon yellow and fold in the rest. 

( Folding is simply a more gentle way to incorporate the components by scooping from the bottom, turning  up, down, and over with no beating.)  Pour into the soufflé dish, then smooth the top. For an impressive puffy TOP HAT that also helps the soufflé rise evenly, scroll a  large circle on top with a knife or spatula, then place in the center of the oven.
Decrease temp to 375 degrees F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (DON'T PEEK!) until puffed and brown. Serve immediately with chilled fruit ( great with melons) or lemon curd. If you prefer a sauce, I would choose a mushroom type. 

Questions or comments? Just let me know! Thank you.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Kibbeh Nayyah & Homusah ( Middle Eastern Tartare)

                                                      Kibbeh Nayyah & Homisah

**This breath-taking dish takes me back to my childhood when our families went to Alabama to stay with Sitti and Jiddeh (my Lebanese grandparents.) It was a hay day treat for all the young cousins playing in the summer air, then sitting at outdoor picnic tables that were covered with pans of beautiful tabouleh, stuffed cabbage and grape leaves brought out by all the aunts and uncles from the kitchen. The fragrant spices lured us as we all sat down to pray and enjoy the art that fell from Sitti's wonderful hands!
 If you're one who likes a different take on a familiar group of flavors, you'll adore this Syrian meat meal. The loaf of raw meat is blessed with beautiful spices and extended with bulghar wheat (cracked wheat). If you're not one who is comfortable with eating raw meat or want a comparable example, it compares to steak tartare, only covered with a steamed tomato and meaty gravy sauce.  (See below for BAKED  or fried version.)

Ingredients For The Nayyah:

~21/2- 3 lbs ground sirloin or a combination of ground lamb with sirloin and/or ground round or chuck
~ 2-3 medium minced white onions (yellow is okay)
~1 3/4 cups  #1 grain bulghar wheat soaked in 1/2 cup tomato juice.
~2 tbs each of:allspice, cinnamon
~3 tbs ea: Kosher or Sea Salt and black pepper More as you mix for selected taste. ( You may also mix those portions with a low sodium soy sauce.)  
~1 teaspoons each: cayenne pepper and garlic
~1 14-15 oz can of drained stewed or diced tomatoes. 
~ Ice water
Extra Virgin Olive oil
10 fresh mint leaves, chopped  (extra sprigs
for garnish.)
1/2 cup of pine nuts ( best when slightly toasted)
       In a large bowl, mix all ingredients with your hands, folding over and over again, then mixing in a circle till it becomes the consistency of a dough. Sprinkle ice water off and on during this step so that the spices evenly flavor the meat dough. (Taste a tiny bit on your tongue for confirmation.)
Form raw meat in oval form on a dish layered with any soft lettuce and some mint leaves. Brush with olive oil, top with a quarter of an onion, more mint twigs. (I form a cross on top as my faith believes will bless the uncooked beauty!) Refrigerate at least one hour.

The Homisah Sauce:
Brown  1/2 -3/4 lb. ground chuck in medium sauce pan. Drain. Add 1 small diced onion, 1 can of stewed tomatoesl Add 2 tbs each: cinnamon, allspice, and 2 teaspoons salt and pepper. Cook on low heat till it thickens.

When serving, add sauce over the raw portion along with buttered warm pita bread and fresh green onions.
My Sitti 
 loved serving her ice cold "Coke-Cola" to refresh the spice-drenched taste buds. They DO go together so well!
Any questions, comments? Feel free to do so. Enjoy!

** If you don't want it raw, no problem...just BAKE or fry OR make both!
Simply prepare as suggested,  pour a thin stream of olive oil on the bottom of a 13 X 9 metal pan (preferable), pack and press meat dough.  With a knife, cut  criss-cross diagonally into approximatedly 3 inch diamond shape pieces; with the point of the knife, poke a tiny slit in the center of each piece so steam escapes, cover pan with a sheet of foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until very brown. When done, remove foil. Pour off extra liquid into a can or container and serve with Greek or plain fat free yogurt! Absolutely divine! ( I let mine rest uncovered for about 10 minutes.)

**  For fried, just "patty out" an amount that fits your palm till smooth and fry 5 at a time in 1/4 cup of olive oil till toasty brown. Remove each cooked piece and place on paper towel lined plate. Serve with the yogurt.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Best French Bread

Fabulous French Brea

It's a simple, but  formal affair!)

3 steps to getting ready for the ball:

The Bathtub:
In large glass bowl, mix:
 1 package of Quick yeast with 1 1/3 cup warm (not hot) water
4 teaspoons of sugar (honey, agave nectar will work or combine with sugar)
Let proof till creamy/foamy head appears (about 10 minutes)

The Formal Gown:
Combine in large glass, metal, or plastic bowl, mix or sift:
5 1/2 cups unbleached or all purpose flour. ( Lower gluten? Put one cup rice or bean flour instead)
2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, sweet basil and/ or oregano. (optional)

Top Crown: 
In a small bowl
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter
with  2 tablespoons of  milk
1 slightly beaten egg

Getting Ready
Gently add the flour to the glass bowl with the frothy yeast mixture, one cup at a time using a fork till it's a sticky mass. (If it is too sticky, add some flour very sparingly) Knead the dough until it's mixed and like elastic, then form into one smooth ball ( About 8 minutes.)

Place in the large OILED bowl and turn over to gloss both sides. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel.
Let dough rise in slightly warm, dark area for about 1 1/2 hours:

Punch down and divide dough in two parts
Stretch into a long rectangle, then fold in the sides. PINCH the ends. ( This will seal all the gas that its hour long nap time rendered!) Take a knife and cut about 5 diagonal slashes on top of each loaf
Brush the TOP CROWN on top and sides of each loaf. Let it rise covered, for about 30 minutes

Bake on baking pan: about 30 mins @ 400 degrees till brown..
Place on rack to dry out for crusty crown.

Enjoy sliced then toasted or grilled topped with bruschetta!

Perfect for Lasagna, spaghetti,  or any saucy Italian dish.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Homemade Pull-Apart Rolls


            When I was in high school, our wonderful German cooks prepared these nearly every Friday in the cafeteria.  We were required to have a “grade A” lunch, which merely meant that it had to be nutritionally balanced. When we didn’t,  we had to pay an extra 5 cents penalty. That’s right! But guess what? Nobody cared about the expense when there were hot pull-apart yeast rolls. It was worth it. In fact, many of the upper classmen went for seconds and thirds. They were that scrumptious.

I give Kelsey Nixon of the Food channel the first of kudos! I cut back on the flour and tweaked it slightly, but otherwise, it’s nearly the same. It’s easy! Let’s get on with it:

                            Homemade Pull-apart Rolls

packets (rapid rise) active dry yeast

1 3/4 cups warm water

1/2 cup honey

  • 1/2 cup melted butter, plus more for brushing after they're baked
  • teaspoons sea salt,( more BEFORE the rising time)
  • large eggs, beaten
  • to 6 cups flour ( enough to make it maliable, but not dry)
  • 1/4 cup milk

  • How to:
  • Preheat the oven to 400°. 

    In an 8 cup measuring cup, combine the yeast, and warm water (not hot) and the honey and stir. Let it activate for 5 minutes until a foamy head develops..

  • Add 1/2 cup melted butter, 2 teaspoons salt, and eggs, one at a time. Put mixture in a LARGE BOWL. Slowly add the flour, one cup at a time until fully incorporated and the dough becomes amass. Remove onto the counter and knead just long enough till it is smooth and elastic. Dust in more flour if it is too sticky.

  • Cut the dough mass into FOUR portions. From each portion, form rolls in the size of a large golf ball rolling from the palm of your hands, placing each into the iron skillet or cookie sheet without them fully touching. Cover with a damp towel or foil for about 30- 35minutes.

  • Bake the first 15 minutes on 400° then lower to 375° for about 12 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven, and let cool for about 5 minutes.  Using  a butter knife, cut carefully around the edge to loosen. With an oven mitten under the skillet and  a large serving plate over the top, turn over to remove entire loaf then back upright onto another plate.  Mix remaining butter with the milk, and generously paint each one till you see a gloss! Wait about 5 minutes till steam releases. SPRINKLE with a little KOSHER or PINK salt.  Enjoy!

  • For storing and moistness, it's best to place in plastic bags before they fully cool.

    * You can use a stand up mixer, food processor, or just your hands. (I've done both, and they turned out equally fine! Hands say looooooooooooove!)

    For Kelsey's take, click this link:
  • .


  • Thursday, February 7, 2013

    Rustic Strawberry Peach Pandowdy

    This is simply delicious as well as easy.  I first give credit to Tyler Florence from the Food Network who inspired it. I just made a few twists and turns for flavor and curtailed the time. This dessert is great with my barbeque and superb dessert with any pork entree! 

    Then, you know Pookah and I had to go and do something ELSE to hurry it up!  Tsk. tsk! 

    Here's what you'll need:

    A buttered iron skillet. Preheat oven to 375° 

    Ingredients and Method:

    Crust: In a large glass bowl
    1 box of corn muffin mix (OR 1 cup Masa flour w/
    2 tbsp baking powder), 2 cups all purpose flour 4 tbsp unsalted butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cream or half & half.

     Mix all dry  ingredients. Add the butter and use your clean hands to mix and break up the butter, folding in and out until it looks like small peas. ADD the cream, a little at a time until moist, but manageable. Set aside.

    Filling- In a large glass bowl:
    1 carton fresh sliced or frozen strawberries (w/sugar), 1 1/2 bag of frozen peaches, 1/4 cup good bourbon*, 1 cup sugar, 1 tbsp of the following: ginger, cinnamon, tablespoon sea salt, lemon juice. 2 tablespoons  cornstarch or tapioca starch. 

    Mix the filling well. Pour into a buttered iron skillet. Place on the stove, medium high, for about 5 minutes until ingredients become syrupy. Take off the stove.  ADD the bourbon and mix again. 

    Add moist crust mix in large spoonfuls on top of the peach filling and sprinkle with a little sugar. There will be spaces and gaps, but they'll come together and puff up during baking. Brush some more cream over the top, sprinkling top crust with a little sugar.
    Bake for 45 minutes or until crust is puffy, and filling is bubbly. Remove to the counter and let it sit for at least 15 mintues.

    Serve hot with vanilla ice cream!

    Let me know how you like it. Add comments, questions, or suggestions freely! Thanks!
    * If you skip the alcohol, use a good rum or bourbon extract.

    Saturday, February 2, 2013

    Luscious Puffy Seafood Pot Pie

    Luscious Puffy Seafood Pot Pie

                       If you're trying to thrill someone in your life who is contemplating to head out, this is what you fix beforehand!  College student, long lost friend, X honey, former locker mate. Comfort food is calling with such richness that will leave 'em verklempt with this taste treasure.

     This looks like a lot, but trust me. It’s not difficult.  Okay. Let’s do it!

    Ingredients Needed: ( recipe measurements below this list)

    12 oz. crabmeat ( fresh, or pouched)
    8 oz raw deveined shrimp or crawfish tails, or 4 imitation sliced crabmeat sticks
    2 puff pastry crusts, thawed on counter
    green, red and/or yellow bell pepper
    red onion
    white or yellow onion
    1 medium potato ( diced and microwaved for 1 minute)
    red pepper flakes
    smoked paprika
    roasted minced garlic
    dry sherry or dry white wine or >  ¼ cup vegetable or chicken broth
    1 quart half & half or 2 cans Fat Free evaporated milk 
    1 egg white  ( or whole egg, beaten)
    1 can cream of mushroom soup

    Seafood Ingredients:

    12 oz  fresh or pouched crabmeat, or TWO 5- 51/2 oz cans , drained well.
    12 small or medium raw, peeled and deveined shrimp or crawfish tails 
    ( Put in a bowl for later)

    For crust:

    2 puff pastry crusts, rolled out slightly to fit 6  round or square individual baking dishes.
    ( I used the cutest square dishes with little handles as seen on this page) 


    Sauté  in skillet:

    4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

    4 tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons of flour and make a roux

    ADD: ¼ cup red bell pepper
    ¼ cup green and/or yellow bell pepper
    ½ finely diced medium red onion
     ½ finely diced medium white onion ( yellow is okay )
     ½ cup finely diced celery
    1 small microwaved potato ( 1 minute only) 
    1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, plus 2 teaspoons of black and cayenne pepper
    ADD: ¼ cup dry sherry or dry white wine, 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, 1 cup half & half 
    and 1 tablespoon of roasted minced garlic
    Sauté  on LOW till tender and stir well.

    All seafood, and 1 cup frozen sweet peas 

    Spray baking dishes then fill  with cooking filling till 2/3 full ( or 1/4 inch from the dish rim); 
    Place crust on top and brush with egg. Pierce 6 slits. Add two spinach leaves on top
    Place all on baking sheets.   Bake at 400°  for 20 to 30 minutes.  Put on counter to cool.  

    Now. At last. You've made something so special, you'll be remembered for all time!
    And at last... well, click the following and enjoy!
    At last: ( song originally by Etta James to be sung while you do this part.)

    "At Last"- Etta James (when the meal is finished!)