Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Fruit Cobbler

fruit cobbler
This was an experiment that ended up tasting really good. Before this, I've only ever made apple cobblers and rarely varied from that kind. This was easy and came out a lot better than I expected. Having never eaten a cooked nectarine before, I didn't know what to expect. This recipe is great for those not-so-pretty fruit you have that is still good enough to cook with (and eat) but not perfect enough for eating as-is. (I'm picky that way) Strange thing is, I've never peeled either a nectarine or a peach before (never had a reason to). Really strange experience. But one I plan to repeat as this was a nice variation from the usual cobbler.

This is my fruit cobbler recipe:

Crust (crumble topping):
4 - 5 TBS. butter, softened
3 - 4 TBS. margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar (a mixture of brown & white sugar work well)
1 cup + flour (more, as needed to achieve a crumbly texture)
1/4 Tsp. baking powder
dash cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves (all ground)
dash salt

1 apple, peeled, cored, sliced
2 nectarines, peeled, pitted, sliced
2 peaches, peeled, pitted, sliced
1/4 - 3/4 cup sugar (a mixture of brown & white sugar work well)
2 Tsp. (to 1 TBS.) cornstarch (this makes all the difference, thickens up the juice)
1 Tsp. flour
1 Tsp. cinnamon (ground)
dash nutmeg (ground)
dash cloves (ground)
dash of lemon juice

Prepare the crust first.

In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients and use a fork to mash it together (some people use two butter knives or a food processor; a regular fork works best for me). Add more flour if needed, you want a crumbly, dry mixture. It should be dry but not too dry, you don't want it to be like a bowl of flour. Once this mixture has a nice crumb-like consistency, put the bowl in the refrigerator. Cold shortening makes for a lighter topping.

Pre-heat your oven to 375° (or toaster oven to 400°).
Prepare the filling next.

In another bowl, add the dry ingredients first, and mix them well. Add the sliced fruit and lemon juice and toss well to coat everything evenly.

Pour the fruit mixture into a (lightly buttered) casserole dish or baking pan. Retrieve the crumble topping from the fridge.

Add a spoonful of the topping mixture to the fruit mixture and gently mix it to combine. Use the spoon to even out the fruit in the casserole dish (or baking pan).

Use a spoon or your hand and distribute the rest of the crumble topping mixture evenly over the fruit. (Do not pat down!) Cover lightly with foil and bake for 45-50 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 25-35 minutes, or until the crumble topping is a light brown in color.

This lasts for about 2-3 days unrefrigerated. Maybe 4 if refrigerated. It's never lasted longer than 2 days here. (fruity dessert after dinner? sure! Mmmmmmm!!)

You can view another picture here and here.

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Friday, September 24, 2004

Flavored Popcorn (Italian)

I call this Italian Popcorn simply because I use Italian dressing. I don't make this too often but sometimes it just really hits the spot. It's a nice alternative to having salt & butter, or the *low/no fat versions.

It's just a quickie toss, you need:

lots of fresh popped popcorn in a large bowl
your favorite Italian dressing (the liquid kind)
your favorite (grated) Parmesan and/or Romano cheese
(might taste even better with the fresh version but I've never tried it that way)

Sprinkle some dressing on to the popcorn and toss it a bit to coat. Sprinkle some of the cheese and toss again.

Some of the popcorn might dissolve a bit when pouring on the dressing, use it sparingly. You need just enough on some of the pieces so the cheese will cling to it (using more or less depending on how you like it).

Eat and enjoy!


*For the no fat version, simply replace the dressing with butter (or olive oil) flavor non-stick cooking spray (lightly spray the freshly popped corn), and replace the cheese with powdered Italian (or Ranch, or any other flavor you like) dressing/seasoning mix (after spraying, sprinkle some of the mix and toss).

Monday, September 13, 2004

Skordalia (garlic spread)

Potent but delicious. Use on toast, over vegetables, noodles, mixed in mashed potatoes. My grandmother makes this 2 ways, with bread or with potatoes. She does this by hand or with a hand mixer, but I use a blender, or when I'm really feeling ambitious, the food processor.

You will need:

1 lb of potatoes, peeled
10 to 12 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 tsp vinegar (white or cider)
1 cup of olive oil

Boil the potatoes and mash them while they are still hot. Finely crush the garlic. Add the crushed garlic to the mashed potatoes along with the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Keep mixing while adding the olive oil a little at a time. Work the mix into a smooth texture.

This can be made using bread instead of potatoes. The bread should be stale (but use what you have). Soak it in water and then squeeze the water out. Be aware that the bread version is much more potent than the potato version.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Onion Soup

onion soupI love this recipe because it's very easy to make, and very good. You just have to check this often during the first part (before adding the broth), you don't want the onions to burn. The idea is to sweat and soften the onions. The reason for the varying temperatures and cooking with and without the cover is because it enhances the flavor.


3 large onions (or 5 small) thinly sliced
2 TBS. butter
1 TBS flour
3 cans beef broth
clove of garlic, minced
1 Tsp. thyme
black pepper
red wine

In a large pot, add the butter and the onions and fry on medium heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring to cook evenly. Lower the heat, cover, and cook 3-5 minutes. Remove the cover, stir, cook another three to five minutes (uncovered). Continue cooking like this until the onions are caramelized. They should be a dark brown in color, but not burned and almost completely reduced (in size). This gives the richest flavor.
Onion soup prep
Add the flour, thyme, and pepper, stir to mix well. Cover and cook 3-4 minutes.

Stir well, and add the broth. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Add the wine (to taste, the more the better), and the garlic, and simmer another minute or so.

Delicious as-is. Or garnish with the traditional toasted mozzerella cheese on baguettes.

I usually toast some regular bread with cheddar cheese on top and add the soup over it. Sometimes I make a little garlic bread and have that on top.

Onion soup
This is one of those foods that taste even better when reheated (the next day). There's another picture here and more here .

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Thursday, September 09, 2004

Zucchini Fritters

zucchini frittersSimple and tasty. These make a great (occasional) alternative side dish.

You will need:

2 medium zucchini, washed (ends cut, skin on)
1 onion, chopped
1 egg
2 TBS. flour, and a little more to make a batter
2 Tsp. baking powder
dill, salt, pepper (to taste)
optional, dash of tobasco
oil for frying

Shred zucchini and leave in a colander for an hour or so to drain. Squeeze excess liquid.

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the oil. If soupy, add more flour. Mix well.

Fry these as you would a pancake (except in this case, in a little oil instead of butter), by spoonfuls; cook until lightly browned on each side. Let rest on paper towels to absorb any excess oil.


You can see another picture here.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Quick & Easy Feta Spread

Something my Moms aunt used to make her when she was a child and didn't want to have what everyone else was having. It's very quick and easy.

Use this spread on bread, toasted bread, crackers. With a little more lemon and oil added, it can be used as a dip.

Non-specific measurements as this is to taste. And the amount, based on how much you need. So...

In a bowl, mash some feta cheese, olive oil, and lemon juice with a fork. You want a nice spreadable consistancy.

That's it!
Spread on bread or crackers and enjoy!

Feta is very salty so I only have this occasionally.