Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Super simple caramel sauce

Bananas are so good for your muscles, but some weeks, we don't eat them fast enough, i.e. before the dreaded brown spots start popping up. Someone who will remain nameless doesn't like the taste or texture of a ripe banana.

So usually, I just peel them and throw them in the freezer to be used for banana bread at some future time. But this morning I felt like bananas Foster, but didn't want to go to all the fuss.

So I just made a simple caramel sauce to pour over the sliced bananas. Delicious! Only four ingredients, and in simple proportions so I can keep it in my head.

Lori K's Simple Caramel Sauce
Serves 2 (can half or double and will keep for a week in the fridge)

2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons evaporated milk
Pinch or two of coarse salt

Melt butter for 30 seconds in microwave in a 2-cup Pyrex measure. Add the brown sugar and evaporated milk, mix well, and return to the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir well, and return to the microwave for 15 seconds.

Serve over sliced ripe bananas and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Enjoy!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Nifty butter trick!

I saw this on Facebook and had to share.

Kimberly Reaves Bernards
One of the coolest baking tips ever... Tried and true... If you need to soften butter quickly but don't want to melt it.... Put boiling hot water in a glass to heat the glass. Dump the water out and flip it over your stick of butter. In a few minutes it will be softy soft to use! You're welcome!

Monday, December 18, 2017

A star pepper

Here's something you don't see every day; a pepper with not three, not four, but five ribs. And it came from my community garden (getting peppers in December isn't an annual occurrence, not even in Sacramento). Delicious in our weekend omelette.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Good salmon, bad eggs

Eggs still are a mystery.

The trick to beautiful hard-boiled eggs is not to use ones that just came out of a chicken, not to overcook them and to cool them down in ice water immediately after cooking.

I thought I had done everything right when I recently cooked 18 of them for two parties on consecutive nights. And the first night, all was well. The shells, gently cracked all over, came sliding off like a dream, and the yolks were a lovely yellow through and through. I put the rest of them in the fridge. The next day, every last one of the yolks were covered in gray. I felt as bad as a young wife cooking a first meal for my husband and burning the rice.

Worse, there was nothing on the internet that could tell me what had gone wrong. It wasn't like all the eggs weren't cooked the same amount of time, or in a different pan. Sigh. More experimentation to come.

On the fish front, here's a really easy way to poach a skinless, boneless salmon fillet for one.

Lay the salmon flat in a microwave-safe pie plate or bowl. Season with herbs of your choice (I used Montreal Steak Seasoning this morning) and cover with wine or beer. Cover the dish and cook for 2 minutes. Remove carefully (it will be steamy hot) and chill. I topped it with some homemade mayonnaise. Yum!

Homemade mayonnaise

2 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
White pepper to taste
16 ounces olive or canola oil

Beat together the yolks and the seasoning ingredients. Add the oil, a drop at a time at first, then in a slow, steady stream. Keep beating until all the oil is absorbed. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

An improved gazpacho, just made for ripe tomatoes

Gazpacho is the perfect soup for summer, especially when your plants start over producing. Even little ones make a crazy good soup. I used to use a tablespoon of sherry, but this year, I tried it with a shot of vermouth and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. It was perfection.

Prep time: About 15 minutes

Serves 3 or 4
Note: I like seeds and skins. Add more prep time, and some tomato juice, if you want to remove both.
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, roughly chopped

1 large, young lemon cucumber, roughly chopped

½ red onion, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Two ½-inch slices french bread or 1 slice ciabatta, torn up

A few basil leaves, tarragon and/or parsley

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

A shot of dry vermouth

A drizzle (up to a teaspoon) of balsamic glaze

Salt and black pepper

1 avocado, quartered and thinly sliced into fans (optional)

Put the tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, onion, olive oil, bread, parsley and/or basil, garlic, vermouth and balsamic glaze in a blender; season with salt and pepper. Process until smooth, adding up to ½ cup water if necessary.
Taste and adjust the seasoning. Refrigerate for up to a few hours before serving or serve immediately. Garnish with avocado fans, if desired.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A balsamic glaze you can trust

I love using balsamic glaze on many things: meats, salads, vegetables, ice cream. It even makes kale chips delicious. But looking on the back of the label of a bottle someone had given me a while back, I was disappointed to find out that balsamic vinegar wasn't all that was in it.

Granted, this is not a very expensive glaze (about $4 for 5.07 ounces). But for about the same price, you can make a glaze that has none of those added ingredients (although I do add a little kosher salt to intensify the sweetness). If you have a half hour or less, and a glass or nonreactive (glazed) iron saucepan, you can make some yourself.

Lori K's balsamic glaze

The amount of vinegar to use should be twice the amount your bottle holds. Add a pinch of salt for every 10 ounces of vinegar.

10 ounces balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt

Bring vinegar to boil in nonreactive saucepan. Add salt. Turn down heat to medium low so that it's still on a low boil. Stir occasionally. In about 15 minutes, check to see if it has reduced by half; if it hasn't, keep it on the heat until it does. Cool and pour into a bottle. Does not need to be refrigerated.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Hashing out a quiche

Quiche is a way of making a couple of eggs seem like a lot more food. Plus you get the mix the healthful (spinach) with the not-so (bacon). But most quiches, even the most delicious ones, often suffer from a soggy crust.

If that's been your experience as well, here's a variation to try. Another bonus: It's gluten-free.

Lori K’s Hash-Brown Quiche

Serves 2 with a side of fruit for breakfast; 4 with a large salad for brunch

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more in a mister
1 box of Golden Griddle hash browns, reconstituted (you will have at least 4 servings left over)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch of spinach, washed well and drained
2 eggs
¼ cup of heavy cream*
½ cup of 1 percent milk*
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg and cayenne pepper
¼ cup of cooked crumbled bacon
1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan

Heat olive oil in shallow 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add approximately 2 servings of the reconstituted hash browns, covering the bottom of the skillet completely. Season with a little pepper and salt, but be aware that the bacon and Parmesan are also salty. As the hash browns  cook, make sure the edge is as even as possible, pushing them away from the side a little.
Put the washed spinach in a food processor and chop. Pour it out onto a clean old dishtowel, fold over the sides and over the top and put in the microwave for a minute. Starting at the end you put the spinach, roll up and squeeze until the spinach has most of its moisture removed. Put back into the food processor, add the eggs, cream, milk and seasonings, and process until well blended.
Heat oven to 325 degrees F or 300 degrees in a convection oven.
Mist an 8-inch pie pan with oil and invert it on the raw side of the hash browns in the pan. Flip the hash browns into pie pan; they should come up the sides a bit, so mash them down to form a crust in the pan. Spread the bacon crumbles over the hash browns.
Pour the egg-spinach mixture over the hash browns and bacon. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the quiche.
Bake for about 30 minutes until the center is firm. Cut into quarters and serve.

* You can use ¾ cup half&half, a mixture of sour cream and milk, or evaporated milk, depending on what you prefer or have on hand.