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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Don't Wash Cast Iron Skillets With Soap

Quick Tip Of The Day:

Don't wash your cast iron skillet with soap! It will take off all the seasoning it has taken years to do.

Wash with a brush and hot water. Dry thoroughly and then wipe a coat of non-flavored cooking oil (vegetable oil) with a paper towel all over the cooking surface. Your pan is now ready to use when needed.

Place a paper towel in pan if stacking with other pans for storage.


Grocery Shopping At Wegmans

Posted by Dorian Compton

One of the best perks of going to school in Maryland, was living within driving distance of my favorite grocery store Wegmans. My first encounter with Wegmans was in Rochester, New York where I was attending my first college. Within my first week of living there, I realized that I needed to find a grocery store to replace some of the awful meals I was eating on campus. Wegmans was a short walk from campus, and an even shorter drive. After my first trip, it soon became a weekly trip to go to Wegmans, even if we did not need any food. For some reason, many of us had the same feeling when we entered Wegmans, and that was a feeling of being home.

The smells that greet you as you walk in the door force you to look at all the meals that are being prepared. These range from chicken and beef to seafood and other delectable items. Shopping for seafood was made easy by the fresh fish that were always available on ice, and a knowledgeable staff that could help you with all of your needs. Even better, Wegmans was founded in upstate New York, and the largest Wegmans was a short ride from my school. Open 24 hours, the main location was the same as all the other locations, but had extra space for a cooking school and restaurant in the middle of the store. Before I left to go grocery shopping I always made sure to set my Home security alarm.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Easy Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles

My Family has made these wonderful crunchy Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles for years. I have taken the liberty to make them a tad bit healthier for you by adding less salt and sugar. Side by side 1/2 liked the original version and the other 1/2 liked the healthier.

Both liked them no matter what before I did the taste test ;)

You can use the early pickling cumbers (the small ones) if you can get them or regular cucumbers also.


To make 4 quarts or 8 pints:
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups sugar (2 cups for healthier)
  • 1/2 cup salt (use half the amount if you are watching salt intake)
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon Mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon Celery seed
  • 4 garlic cloves sliced thin
Fresh Dill sprigs
Cucumbers sliced thinly
Onions sliced thinly

Wash and Sanitize your canning jars. You can run them in the dish washer.

Place rings and lids in hot water from microwave to sanitize.

Combine the water, vinegar, sugar, salt, Turmeric, Celery seeds and Mustard seeds in a large sauce pan. Bring to boil reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat to cool.

Slice all cucumbers, onions, garlic and chop the dill a few time into large pieces. Combine all in a large mixing bowl. Toss to combine.

Fill your jars with the cucumber mixture making sure to pack well and do not fill past the neck of the jar. Set aside.

Mix brine well before each scoop and using a soup ladle pour over packed jars filling just above the cucumbers.

Wipe rims of jars with hot wet cloth to remove drips ad lid and ring then tighten. Turn jar upside down on dish towel until all other jars are complete.

Place in refrigerator. Turn and shake the jars every day to mix the brine through out the pickles. Pickles should be ready in three days.

Pickles need to be kept in the refrigerator. Turning occasionally mix up the spices they may settle on the bottom.

These are wonder crunchy pickles you can make any time and serve anytime of the year.

Tie a ribbon around the lid and take for a Hostess gift to your next dinner party!


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cedar Plank Grilled Pesto Wild Alaskan Salmon

This Pesto Salmon will not only taste great but will impress as well!

You will need to get some Cedar Planks. They can be found at cooking stores, Costco, Home Depot and Lowe's. If you cannot find some go to the local home improvement store and have some cut into about a foot and half long pieces. That is actually the least expensive way to buy them.

Soak the board in water for a few hours prior to grilling.


  • Wild Alaskan Salmon (one fillet per person) skin on
  • Pesto
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh Lemon
Preheat your grill.

Rinse and pat dry the Alaskan Salmon. Season with salt and pepper.

Add about two tablespoons of Pesto and spread all over the top of the fillet.

You are now ready to have some smokey fun ;)

Place your cedar plank on the heated grill reduce to medium heat. Close the lid. when you hear the wood start making that snap crackle and pop sound your ready to add the Salmon.

Place the Salmon on the board carefully skin side down of course (no need to oil the board).

Close the lid and cook for 15 minutes.

The wood may catch fire and turn black but the fish will not. Don't be shocked. If you have soaked the board you are fine. I have even soaked the board in less time (being in a hurry) and I have had the fish turn out perfect.

When the fish is flaky but not dry your done.

Remove the board with mitts (hot).

Take a metal spatula and remove the Salmon from the board leaving the skin stuck to the wood! Work the starting point a bit and you will be able to feel when you are between the skin and the flesh of the fish.

You will have a wonderful pesto smoke flavored piece of fish that everyone will love.

Squeeze some lemon on top and serve!


Dinning Table Centerpiece Arrangements, Ideas and Tips

A Friend of mine attended a wedding and snapped a photo of the table at the reception. This attractive centerpiece caught my eye!

What a beautiful arrangement. Who would have ever thought to use Hydrangea's and Succulents such as hen & chicks! This is so beautiful and elegant. I LOVE it!

I grow hen & chicks... my Mother and Grandmother grew them. It's amazing how they survive through the Winter months and just come back to life again in the Spring.

Here is a brief description of the plants:

Sempervivums (hen & chicks) are a hardy succulent alpine plant. The name sempervivum means "live-forever". They are well adapted to survive in some of the poorest soil and drought conditions. Sempervivums form low-growing rosettes of succulent leaves with a variety of colors ranging from pink, red, purple and green.

The next time you plan a Party, Wedding, Backyard BBQ consider using these beautiful plants in your arrangements. Bring some outdoors indoors add some votives around the centerpiece and you are all set.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

COQ AU VIN Made Easy With Le Creuset!

(Chicken in Red Wine with Onions, Mushrooms, and Bacon)

This dish will fill your home with the most wonderful aromas of great home cooking. The chicken will fall off the bone with the most velvety smooth amazing tasting sauce you have probably have not had in a while :)

It can be made with either red wine or white wine, but the red obviously is a better choice. Julia Child's wrote that in France it is served along side parsley potatoes, buttered peas or a green vegetable. Here I will serve over pasta.

She recommends serving with a full-bodied red Burgundy or Beaujolais.

First thing is first! You will need a great Dutch Oven, I recommend one by Le Creuset Heavy, top quality and I LOVE it! After seeing Julie & Julia I had to have one.

Julia's Ingredients (with mine in red):

  • 3 to 4 oz chunk of lean bacon
  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs. cut up frying chicken
  • 1/4 cup cognac (optional)
  • 3 cups young full bodied red wine, Burgundy, Beaujolais or Chianti
  • 1/2 Tb tomato paste
  • 2 cups brown chicken stock, brown stock or beef bouillon
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 12 to 24 brown braised onions (1/2 one large Spanish onion diced)
  • 1/2 lb. sauteed mushrooms (1/2 cup dried mixed mushrooms)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 Tb flour
  • 4 Tb softened butter
  • Sprigs of fresh parsley
Okay now to begin.

I cut the bacon into strips.

Add a dash of olive oil to your Le Creuset dutch oven and brown the bacon.

Remove the browned bacon to platter reserving fat in pan to retain flavor.

Brown seasoned chicken (salt and pepper) in the bacon drippings. Do this in batches if needed not to over crowd your pan, you want the chicken to brown not simmer.

Remove the browned chicken to serving platter.

While the chicken is browning prep your garlic, onions, mushrooms and herbs.

These are the dried mushrooms I added and keep on hand at all times. They will reconstitute in the sauce.

Here I added the chopped onions and browned. Stirring gently. You want the edges to just brown nicely, don't burn.

To the onions add the mashed/chopped garlic, thyme, bay leaves and dried mushrooms. Stir to get the flavors released. When you start to smell the garlic it's ready! Don't over cook the garlic you want to keep it sweet not bitter.

at this time add the cognac, it will sizzle and splatter! Keep your face back! Let the alcohol burn off about 2 minutes. Then I add the wine, let the alcohol burn off again.

Now add the chicken stock and tomato paste. Whisk together well.

Return the chicken and bacon into the pot. Bring to a boil reduce, cover and simmer slowly for 30 minutes.

After the chicken is cooked and the juices run clear when checking with a knife, remove to platter.

Take another sauce pan ad the butter and flour, cook stirring constantly until flour incorporates with the butter and you cook off the raw flour taste.

With a ladle start adding the sauce from the pot, whisking the sauce and flour together. When about 1/2 the sauce has been added pour it all back into the Le Creuset dutch oven and stir together. The sauce will thicken

Return the chicken to the sauce and heat through. Serve over parsley buttered pasta or potato's.

Serves 4


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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Herald Gazette: Cooking lobster: it's more than boiling water and melting butter

To read the article in full click this link: The Herald Gazette: Cooking lobster: it's more than boiling water and melting butter

Love...love.... love lobster! Bring it on!

Happy Summer

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tip Of The Day: Let Your Knife Do The Work!

Tip Of The Day:

Let your knife do the work!

Make sure it's sharp to begin with. Most accidents happen with dull knifes!
You shouldn't have to apply a ton of pressure to the knife, by adding light pressure should result in a nice clean cut. If a little extra is needed use the tip and apply more pressure to get the cut started and go from there.


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