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Friday, August 24, 2018

Gourmet on a Hot Plate


Sneak preview: 

New cookbook due in November


Four years after that last post, I'm far from closing down my food blog--in fact, I'm rejuvenating it under a new title. With a new cookbook on the horizon in November, I want to invite you to be part of my ongoing cooking adventure. For two years I've been cooking in a postage-stamp kitchen with no built-ins. That's right--I cook with a magnetic hot plate, a toaster oven, and a coffee pot. And it's not a hardship. It was my choice.

As I aged, my children and I wanted to be proactive about where and how I lived. Many possibilities were discussed, and it came down to some basics: I was still in control of my faculties (or so I still think), still actively writing, still independent to some degree. The best solution? Redo my existing garage and guest quarters into a cottage for me, while my youngest daughter, her husband and child moved into the main house. After six months construction, I had a wonderful cottage--600 square feet, with a living/office space, a bathroom with a walk-in shower, a large closet and a fairly small bedroom--plus the postage-stamp kitchen which does hold a good-sized refrigerator/freezer.

My first six months in the cottage involved a broken ankle, extreme reconstructive hip surgery, the cleansing of my system of a variety of drugs, (some of which caused hallucinations). I didn't care what I ate, let alone cooked. But gradually I reclaimed my cooking skills and learned new methods of cooking and using food. The results is my third cookbook--Gourmet on a Hot Plate.

Tada! Publicaiton is scheduled for early November--so you can add it to your Christmas giving list, and after that this blog will, I hope, become much more active.. Meantime, check in for an occasional recipe, to comment or ask questions. You know the Insta-Pot Community? This is sort of the opposite end of the cooking scale.

So welcome. To subscribe and receive posts on a regular basis, please go to my web page: www.judyalter.com. And to get you started, here's one of my favorite recipes, a good one for  football games and watch parties coming up in the fall:

Sherry cheese pâté
 6 oz softened cream cheese (not whipped)
1 c. grated sharp cheddar
1 Tbsp. dry sherry
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 8oz jar mango chutney (or any chutney you prefer)
2 green onions, chopped

Mix cream cheese, cheddar, sherry, curry, and salt together, thoroughly. Spread the mixture on a serving plate. Chill. Spread the chutney on the top of the mixture and sprinkle green onions on the top. Serve with crackers

Happy cooking, y'all. I'll pop in with a new post now and then, but after November I expect things to get popping around here. Meantime, if you want to be on my mailing list please write me at j.alter@tcu.edu

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Closing down

Reluctantly, I've decided to discontinue Potluck with Judy. I'm running dry on new recipes, and I don't always post on Sundays. Rest assured I maintain my deep interested in food writing and food, but this just seems right at this time.
Let me leave you with one recipe that may or may not be grand--I'll report on Judy's Stew after supper tonight. This is stolen straight from Houston author Babette Hale who posted on Facebook about it.
She shucked, rinsed and quartered four or five tomatillos, added onion, garlic, and check breasts. Simmered this in chicken broth until the chicken was done and the vegetables mushy. Removed the chicken and blended the rest with an immersion blended. Put the chicken back, reheated it, and ladled over half a flour tortilla. Folded the tortilla over and topped with more sauce.
Of course with a recipe like that, I ran into problems--I guess I used too much broth but I had soup, so I ladled off two cups without meat or vegetables. Fished out the chicken and put the resin the food processor, hoping the vegetables would solidify it a bit. Still soup
Couldn't find cornstarch, was about to mix flour with broth when I had a happy thought. Made a roux of some of the liquid and stirred it in. It's still thin, but I'll be serving it tonight with grilled baby zucchini. Fingers are crossed.
Happy cooking and please keep on reading Judy's Stew--http://www.judys-stew.blogspot.com. My primary blog started, at the suggestion of Jamie's wife,  Melanie, as a mix of the elements of my life--writing, grandmothering, and cooking. It will return to its roots, and I know there will be recipes from time to time. Thanks for cooking with me.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A bit of this and that

I am really liking the new small plates offered at many restaurants--tapas really, though sometimes a tad more generous. Betty (my dining adventure pal) and I had dinner at Sera in Fort Worth recently and decided to split small plates of ham croquettes and lamb skewers. Delicious. But when the waiter came back I said, "I'm still hungry." He laughed and said he thought we would be. So we split a plate of roasted cauliflower and charred leeks. I'm not a huge cauliflower fan but this was small bits perfectly roast; I'm also not a fan of charred vegetables--who needs the burnt taste? But these leeks were perfectly cooked with no black on them. And it all came on a rich tomato sauce. One of the best small plates I've had in a long time. I may try to experiment and replicate that at home.
Tonight I served pulled bbq to company--it was delicious, if I do say so. The meat is easy to cook--throw it in the crockpot and make a sauce with coffee, ketchup, bacon, chili powder, paprika, etc. Reserve half the sauce, and pour the rest over the meat. Cook on medium for 9-10 hours. Then comes the hard part: pull the meat. Some pieces pull easily, others demand to be cut in chunks. Then you make a sauce of the drippings in the pot (reduced) and other things like vinegar, hot sauce, etc. Pour part over meat and let it soak in; reserve the rest to pass with the meal. As always I did it yesterday and reheated today. I've made it before but forgotten that pulling the meat is a lot of work. But it was worth it. It's a recipe from Cook's Kitchen--trying look up Slow Cooker Shredded Beef BBQ Sandwiches. Christopher Cook runs that kitchen where they try fix or six different ways of doing something and then tell you which worked best.
For dessert, Mary Helen's Mother's Coffee Cake, which I'm sure I've posted before, but here goes:
Heat oven to 350. Prepare Bundt pan by greasing thoroughly (I prefer solid shortening for this) and then sprinkling with mixture of equal parts granulated sugar and cinnamon.
Mix thoroughly,
1 box cake mix (you can use whatever flavors you like--we prefer chocolate, though if you can find a banana cake mix, that's good; I suppose vanilla would be good too, especially drizzled with a little rum; I knew a woman who did strawberry, which didn't sound good to me at all)
1 box instant pudding mix
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1-1/2 c. sour cream
4 eggs.
Batter will be stiff. Pack it into Bundt pan, smoothing as evenly as possible. Sprinkle sugar/cinnamon generously over the top.
Bake one hour. Use a skewer, etc., to test for doneness.
Now here comes the crucial part: removed from oven and let sit five minutes--NO LONGER. Slide a silver knife around outside edges and cone in the middle. Put a plate over the cake and invert. It should come out in one perfect piece. If you wait longer, half the cake stays in the pan--trust me, I've done it.
A p.s. I don't use low fat ingredients for any of this because I've come to the realization that if they take the fat out, they put something in to substitute. I'd rather eat the enemy I know.
Make a wonderfully moist cake.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

New cookbook...and a cooking failure to recommend

Like desserts? Like mysteries? You've got a treat coming--the new cookbook, Bake, Love, Write: 105 Authors Share Dessert Recipes and Advice on Love and Writing, edited by Lois Winston--a massive undertaking. Authors often turn to something sweet for celebration or consolation--a new book contract, a fabulous review, a negative review, a rejection. Anything be an excuse to whip up a dessert. These authors, including me, share their recipes, their concerns about writing, their writing process, and provide a glimpse into their lives. Cakes, pies, cookies, candy and more--along with words of wisdom (?) on love, life, and writing. Available on Amazon, and ebooks versions for Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and iTunes.

About my cooking failure: my friend Mary Dulle is a wonderful, innovative cook, who particularly likes baking pies. She likes that so much that she taught a class in pie-baking this summer at Chautauqua and put together a cookbook for it. The other day she posted on Facebook that she had made a crustless quiche, and it looked so good several of us clamored for the recipes. In her words it sounded simple:

2 slices bacon, crisp and crumbled
1 small onion, diced
1 tomato (preferably heirloom), sliced thin and then quartered
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup shredded cheese-sharp cheddar, Swiss, Gruyere, your choice
3 eggs
2/3 cup low fat milk
1/2 tsp. herbs de Provence
salt and pepper to taste 

Pre-heat oven to 350.
Cook bacon in pie plate in microwave; remove from pan, add onion to drippings and "sauté" in microwave. Layer vegetables, bacon and cheese in pie plate. Whisk eggs into milk, add seasonings, and pour over the vegetables. Bake 35-45 minutes and then let sit to set.

I went amok in several ways: forgot the corn, used scallions instead of onions, whole milk instead of low-fat, thyme because I didn't have herbs de Provence in my vast collection. I used a 9" pie plate, which Mary suggested, but I think something smaller might have worked better--my quiche was flat, more like a frittata.
But my main problem was that halfway through the baking time, I noticed my new dog was not in the yard. Went cruising the neighborhood, found him across the street from the house. He leaped into the car with a grin that said, "Oh, Mom, I'm so glad you came along just now." But by the time I got him home and crated, the quiche had probably cooked an hour. It had good flavor but not texture--flat and chewy (I like soft eggs). But with the lessons learned and barring another runaway by my escape artist, I'll try that again. Here's Mary's quiche: I'm not showing mine.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Like anchovies? Here's a recipe for you!

I have lots of friends who turn up their noses and make awful faces at the mention of anchovies--unfortunately some of my family are included in that group. But I love anchovies, sometimes just put one on a cracker and eat it. They're good in dips, salad dressings, all kinds of things--you just have to be careful to use a sparing hand. Not usually part of my cooking technique. I was raised on the school if a little is good, a lot is better. Not true with anchovies.
But anchovies seem particularly suited to pasta sauces. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Quick spaghetti with anchovy/tomato sauce--serves two

1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
1.5 Tbsp. olive oil
half a small onion, chopped fine
a garlic clove, pressed
7-8 anchovy filets (about 1 can, though I've discovered you can use anchovy paste--1 tsp. equals a filet)
fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper
Enough cooked linguine for two--I have one of those things with holes of graduated sizes--you stick some pasta through the hole for two and it tells you if you have enough or not.
Parmesan

Process tomatoes and juices until smooth. Heat oil and sauté garlic and onion until soft. Add tomatoes and anchovies. Boil and then simmer until sauce is slightly thickened. Stir in basil and salt and pepper to taste.

Add linguine, simmer to be sure all is heated, and stir well. The first time I made this I found I left a lot of anchovy in the bottom of the pan. Serve with Parmesan.

This can easily be doubled.


Carbonara with anchovies--serves four (or three who really like pasta and anchovies)

12 oz. linguine
1/4 c. olive oil
3 sliced garlic cloves
1 2-oz. can flat anchovies, drained and chopped
pinch of red pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp. chopped oregano (it grows in a planter box on my porch)
1/4 c. chopped Italian parsley
2 large egg yolks
salt and pepper to taste
Grated fresh Parmesan

Cook pasta and drain, but keep 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Heat oil in skillet with garlic and anchovies and cook until anchovies come apart. Add pepper if using, lemon zest, oregano and parlsey. Add pasta, toss to coat and remove from heat.
Separately whisk egg yolks with reserved pasta water; add to pasta and return to stove, cooking over low heat and tossing until pasta is coated in a creamy sauce--probably no more than a minute. Season with salt and pepper and serve with Parmesan.

I know what I'm having for dinner one night this week! All you need is a green salad and crusty bread. Great meal. Disregard what they tell us about carbs and pasta and weight.


 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A cooking week...and a summer chowder

It's been a cooking week--or weekend. Thursday night I made a pot of chowder and a goat cheese/wasabi appetizer to take to a friend for her birthday; Friday night an old friend came to visit and I made tuna pasties and cole slaw of red cabbage--she was astounded, said she'd never seen it that color before; Saturday night we had smoked trout salad, green bean, leek and cherry tomato salad in a buttermilk dressing, and scallops--I can't take credit for the scallops, though I cut out the recipe. Neighbor Jay cooked them, not quite according to the recipe which called for crisp crusts and brown butter sauce--we had no crust  and beurre blanc but they were quite possibly the best scallops I've ever eaten. Sent the recipe with Jay because he wants to play with it some. Tonight my chore was light--I had already sent appetizers to my daughter's house--herbed goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, scallions, crackers, and hummus. But I finished off my week of good eating with a wonderful steak, marinated with a light Cajun seasoning and cooked medium rare/rare--just the way I like it. Add a half a baked potato and it was a treat I don't often have. And I have leftover steak for tomorrow. But back to the chowder.
Chowder is not what I would normally fix on a summer night. Friend Kathie wanted us to come see her new house but didn't have the oomph to cook. I offered a wonderful smoked salmon/lemon potato salad/crème fraiche drizzle dish, to which she replied that she didn't much like salmon. Now who on earth, besides my son-in law, doesn't like smoked salmon? So then I gave her a choice--I forget what all but I was hoping she'd pick one dish. She picked a zucchini/summer squash/bacon chowder I'd never made before. Turned out to be delicious, and I will do it again. So that's my recipe for the week. I found it on the web but made my own modifications as always.

Zucchini, bacon, and corn chowder

Four slices bacon
1 small onion. chopped fine
1 heaping Tbsp. flour
4 cups chicken broth--use the low sodium that comes in a box
1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled and diced
1 16. oz. bag frozen corn or kernels cut from four ears (frozen works just fine)
1 medium zucchini, ends trimmed, cut in four pieces lengthwise and then sliced 1 inch thick
1 summer squash, trimmed and cut as the zucchini
3/4 cup cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil, cut in small strips

Use a deep Dutch oven or soup pot. The bacon is problematical. You could fry whole until crisp and crumble later as needed, but it doesn't always crumble into tiny bits. I cut it into small pieces first--I think that would go better if the bacon was frozen or semi-frozen. At any rate, fry until crisp and remove from pot for later use. Save grease unless there is more than two Tbsp. Sauté onion in grease until soft but not browned. Add flour, still well and cook for a minute or so. Then slowly add chicken broth, a bit at a time until it is gradually incorporated. Add diced potato and cook until potato is halfway cooked. Add corn and cook until potatoes and corn are soft.
Puree 1-1/2 c. of the mixture in blender until smooth and stir back into the pot. Add squashes and cook until just tender. Four or five minutes. Stir in cream and season to taste. Top with basil for decoration.
If you want to make this ahead of time, refrigerate after squash is cooked. To serve, heat, then add cream and seasoning. Cook briefly and add basil.
I know we don't like to eat bacon grease these days but somehow it gives this a rich, creamy goodness. I'd advise against substituting.


 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Aunt Amy’s Giant Stuffed Hamburger

Aunt Amy is a beloved relative in New York--the Bronx to be specific--and we don't see nearly enough of her. But several of her recipes have become legendary in the family. One is a layered ice cream pie that you make in so many stages that you must start days ahead of time. Then there's one for stuffed shells and another for chicken burgers--she may not even remember some of these.
Recently I fixed Christian a birthday dinner--one of several that he enjoyed. Because he's a meat and potatoes man, I fixed Aunt Amy's Giant Stuffed Hamburger.

Aunt Amy’s Giant Stuffed Hamburger
2 Tbsp. butter
1¼ c. herbed, seasoned stuffing mix, crushed (makes about ¾ cup)
1 egg, beaten
1 3-oz. can mushrooms, drained (You could use sautéed fresh, which would be good; I omit them these days because Christian, Brandon, and Melanie think mushrooms are poison.)
⅓ c. beef broth
¼ c. sliced green onion
¼ c. toasted almonds (I put them in but didn't care for the crunch in the meat)
¼ c. snipped parsley (optional, but a nice touch)
1 tsp. lemon juice--or a little more
2 lbs. ground beef
1 tsp. salt--or more to taste
Black pepper and Worcestershire to taste

Melt butter in saucepan and remove from heat. Add stuffing mix, egg, mushrooms, beef broth, onion, almonds, parsley, and lemon juice. (It’s remarkable what adding lemon or lime juice does to a variety of recipes!) Mix well and set aside.

Combine beef with salt, pepper and Worcestershire. Mix thoroughly and divide in half. On sheets of waxed paper (I have one of the few old-fashioned kitchens where there is still a roll of waxed paper), spread meat out into 8-inch circles. Spoon stuffing over one circle of meat to within 1 inch of edge. Top with second circle of meat and peel off waxed paper. Seal around edges and invert into a well-greased flat grilling basket--the kind designed for fish. Grill over medium heat about 10-12 minutes per side. Cut into wedges and serve. Makes six servings.
Don’t have a grill or it’s too cold outside? Broil it in the oven—it still tastes great. Just don’t overcook it and get it dry. And if you don't have a basket, I'm not sure what you'd do about flipping it. Me? I'd call for help.
 
For a side, I fixed Christians green beans. Brown three or four pieces of bacon until quite crisp; set aside. Sauté sliced scallions in bacon grease (I know, I know--it's bad for you but once in a while won't hurt). Drain and dump in a large can of green beans (about 28 oz.). Shake in cider vinegar to taste. Crumble bacon over and serve warm. This is based on my mom's wilted lettuce--I should make that soon.