Monday, July 30, 2012

Scented Christmas Ornaments

CAUTION: These are not edible, so don't eat them.

1 four-ounce can (approximately 1 cup) of cinnamon
1 Tbsp cloves
1 Tbsp. nutmeg
3/4 cup applesauce
2 Tbsp. white glue

In a medium bowl, combine cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Add applesauce and glue, stirring to combine. Work mixture with hands 2-3 minutes or until dough is smooth and ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Divide into 4 portions. On lightly floured surface, roll each portion to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut dough with floured cookie cutters. (Make holes in the top if you want to use them as ornaments.)

Place cut outs on wire racks and allow to dry at room temperature for several days. (For a more uniform drying process, turn ornaments over once each day.) Drying can take up to a week, so allow plenty of time.

Cold Sesame Noodles for 2

Make the Salad:

Cook enough asian noodles (somen, udon, ramen) for 2 people in well salted water (you can use spaghetti in a real pinch). Then chill by rinsing in very cold water. Drain.

Jullienne, shred and/or slice very thin (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup each):

carrots
celery
scallions

At this point, I often add some sprouts and/or diced tofu, as well (optional)

Toss everything together in a very large bowl. Clean hands are the best tool for this.

Make Dressing:

Melt 1/4 to 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter in a 1/2 cup of hot, black tea (Lipton or Chinese). Add 2 tbsp each sesame oil and honey. Add 1 tsp each of minced garlic and fresh ginger. Whisk together and add the following to taste:

crushed red pepper flakes
soy sauce
rice vinegar
sesame seeds (1/4 to 1 cup)

Toss the salad with the dressing and chill for several hours. Serve cold.

Kathy's Chicken Soup

Roughly chop the following:

2 carrots
2 onions
2 lemons

Roast a small chicken in the oven until browned. Cut into quarters and place in a large (8 qt) stockpot with the above - plus:

1 bay leaf
1 tsp of dried thyme (or a handful of chopped fresh thyme - can also use other fresh herbs such as sage, rosemary, tarragon)
1 tbsp of dried parsley (or several handfuls of chopped fresh parsley)
4-6 cubes chicken boullion (OR 1 tsp salt)
4-6 peppercorns

Fill the pot with water to within an inch of the top. Simmer uncovered 12-72 hours. Strain the stock and reserve the chicken meat (or use fresh cooked chicken meat). Chill the stock overnight until the fat solidifies. Spoon off the fat (NOTE: You can also run the stock through a gravy separator).

Chop some or all of the reserved chicken meat and add it back to the stock with any of the following:

1-2 carrots chopped fine
1-2 onions chopped fine
1 stalk celery chopped fine (optional)
1 cup of small pasta (tubetini, orricietti, orzo, acne de pepe, etc.)
additional herbs and salt and pepper to taste

Simmer the soup until the vegetables and pasta are cooked. Serve with bread.

Kathy's Bruschetta

You will need:

tomatoes (cherry tomatoes are the most flavorful)
fresh basil
extra virgin olive oil
fresh garlic cloves
sea salt (course grind)
French bread (baguette) or baguette-shaped Italian bread

You can use any kind of tomatoes for this but I like to use the multicolored heirloom cherry tomatoes if I can find them. Yellow and orange tomatoes are usually slightly lower in acid content, so including at least a few of these with red tomatoes makes it especially yummy.

Chop or dice tomatoes into 1/4 inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Drizzle a few tbsp of extra virgin olive oil on top. Sprinkle with a good pinch of sea salt per tomato. Add a clove of garlic minced very fine. Chop a large handful of fresh basil finely and toss to mix.

NOTE: Although you can fry them in a skillet, I have had good luck recently with the following method of making the crostini:

Slice a baguette of good French/Italian bread into 1/2 inch slices. Slice on a slight diagonal for larger slices. Mix extra virgin olive oil and minced garlic and brush on both sides of each slice. Bake in a 300 degree oven until golden brown and crispy (1/2 to one hour) turn over midway through baking.

Spoon the tomato mixture onto cooled bread crisps and enjoy...

Kathy's Famous Mac and Cheese

You'll need:

1 lb elbow pasta
1 lb shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 heaping tbsp prepared mustard
1/4 tsp nutmeg
white pepper to taste

NOTE: You can really use any type or combination of semi-soft to hard cheeses that you like for this recipe.

Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain.

Meanwhile, make a white sauce:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and cook until bubbly and smooth. Whisk in the milk and simmer until thickened. Then whisk in the mustard, nutmeg and pepper.

Add the sauce to the pasta and mix. Add the shredded cheese and toss well. Place in a large casserole and bake in a 450 degree oven until very brown on top (my family loves the burnt edges). You can sprinkle with paprika for color before baking.

Kathy's Caesar Salad

You'll need:

1 egg
1/2 tsp dried ground mustard
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp each red wine vinegar, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce (replaces anchovies)
pepper
2 small heads (or 1 large head) of romaine lettuce (can also use purchased spring mix, baby greens mix or baby romaine mix)
1/2 to 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
croutons

Cut or tear dry romaine lettuce leaves into bite sized pieces and place in a very large salad bowl. Make a dressing by beating the egg, mustard, garlic and oregano with a stick blender. Add olive oil very slowly as if to make mayonnaise. Once an emulsion is achieved, slowly add red wine vinegar, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Add pepper to taste and beat until smooth. Toss lettuce with dressing and parmesan cheese. Serve with croutons, if desired.

Kathy's Mexican Ceviche

Combine and chill for one hour:

1/4 pound each raw, sushi-quality Salmon, Yellowtail and White Tuna diced into 1/4" to 1/2" cubes
1/4 pound small raw Shrimp, peeled and cleaned (or cut larger shrimp into 1/4" to 1/2" pieces)
(you can substitute up to 1 pound of any raw fish/seafood)
1 ripe Mango, peeled and diced into 1/4" to 1/2" cubes
a splash or two of Tequila (optional)
the juice of 2-3 limes, freshly-squeezed
fresh cilantro, chopped fine, to taste
salt & pepper to taste

Dice any/all of the following into 1/4" or 1/2" pieces and add (to taste):

1/2 Vidalia onion, very finely sliced
1 tomato
1 pepper (bell and/or jalepeno)
1/2 avocado

Dress with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and chill before serving (up to 8 hours). Serve in lettuce-lined bowls with corn chips...