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Monday, June 29, 2015

Chinese Noodle Bowls with Asparagus, Mushrooms and Eggs

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...We are having a heat wave, and meals that seemed like great ideas several days ago, now seem heavy and unappealing. I had a ton, actually it's more like three pounds, of asparagus sitting in the refrigerator, and I thought I could use it in a few lighter entrees that would be more appropriates on these steamy days. While the Google search engine and I are not always on speaking terms, it sent some new asparagus recipes my way, and I spent the later part of the afternoon experimenting with my bounty. I want to share a couple of the keepers with you this week. Tonight's feature came from the Incredible Egg site, which you can find here. The recipe is for Chinese noodle bowls that contain asparagus, mushrooms and eggs. The eggs are handled in the same way as those that are used to make Spaghetti Carbonara, but this dish is more mildly flavored. The noodles are quite nice and perfect for warm weather or asparagus season. While I think you will enjoy them, I do not want to mislead you. This is not an Asian noodle recipe. It's for an all-American dish that happens to use Chinese noodles and sesame seeds. It has several things going for it, among which is the speed with which it can be prepared. The recipe is also scaled to feed two or three people, depending on how hungry they are, so it would make a great addition to the recipe collections of those who are now cooking for two. I know many of you have carnivores at the table, and, if you wish, chicken or pork can be added to the ingredients without changing the basic nature of the dish. The bowls can be on the table in less than 30 minutes, and as Martha use to say, "That's a good thing." Here is how the bowls are made.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Patriot's Red White and Blue Cake

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...When I was quite young and still rebellious, my mother freely gave advice I chose not to hear. I know there was a list of dos and don'ts for social interactions, and I suspect the situation I found myself in this weekend might never have happened, if I had been paying attention to what she said. The Silver Fox and I were invited to a party, and rather than just accept, I, of course, asked if I could bring anything. Turns out, I sure could. The list included burger buns and a cake that was holiday appropriate. Now, I don't usually do holiday appropriate. Once my children were grown, recipes for lamb and flag cakes were retired. I probably could have resurrected my recipe for a flag cake, but I didn't think anyone in the 60+ crowd was pining for it. So, I decided to make an ordinary cake that would be simply decorated to make a symbolic nod to the 4th of July. I have long cherished a recipe for a pure white cake that would make a perfect base for my extravaganza. A cake, if it's to be pure white, must be made with white shortening and a clear extract of one type or another. I can hear some of you groaning, but that's the only way it can be done. I decided to use pie filling to provide the play of red and blue against the white because I had it in the pantry and wanted to use it up. Red and blue jam would also have worked nicely. My plan included using whipped cream or topping to ice the layers because that was the simplest way to carry on the red white and blue theme. If you decide to make a cake like this, I must warn you the both pie filling and jam have a tendency to bleed into the cake layers. Had I used a buttercream frosting I could have created a light sealing coat that would make the layers impervious to a bleeding filling. That, alas, cannot be done with whipped cream. The cake, which had terrific flavor and a lovely crumb, was well received and had enough holiday flair to please the hostess for which it was made. Those of you who need a quick and relatively easy holiday dessert, might find this one perfect for your purposes. Here is how the cake was made.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Spinach Egg Drop Soup

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Most summers we have a week when the temperature soars, belying the more moderate weather Oregonians usually associate with this time of year. Well, that week has arrived, and while eggs won't yet fry on the pavement, they will congeal. Air conditioning has made cooking feasible when the temperature hits triple digits, but it does little to help appetites that become peckish in that kind of heat. Would that our problem was peckish appetites. This morning we packed the car with beach gear and a hamper and headed to the coast to escape the heat of the day. We had a lovely time, but I'm ashamed to admit the water so stimulated appetites that we ended up eating for most of the day. If it wasn't nailed down and didn't bite back, we ate it. The only upside to the day's gluttony was a lack of appetite when dinner rolled around. I decided to make this light, but delicious soup for our supper and because we were so full, large bowls of it made a perfect dinner on this hot and steamy night. Normally, I would serve this as one course of a three course meal. We didn't need the other two courses after our dietary antics and this was perfect for dinner. If you are looking for a light soup, do give this one a try. The recipe was developed by Nancie McDermott and I've found you can't go wrong with the dishes she creates. Here is how the soup is made.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mocha Oatmeal Cookies

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I love simple recipes and those for cookies are rarely easier than the one I'm featuring tonight. While most children love oatmeal cookies, the amount of coffee in these will be off-putting to them. Adults, however, will keep coming back for more, especially if they like coffee flavored sweets. I can't think of a nicer accompaniment for vanilla ice cream. If you have a strong arm or a hand mixer, the recipe is simple enough to qualify for our cottage cooking collection. While the cookies can be mixed in ten minutes, they do require some time to chill before they can be shaped and baked. If you decide to try mixing these completely by hand, make sure your arms are strong enough to properly cream the butter and sugar. I've tried to do this and have failed miserably. When I think about how much mixing was done by hand, I'm convinced our grandmother's upper arms must have been the size of thighs. An exercise like this, gives me a greater appreciation of what they were able to produce in their kitchens. I do hope you'll give these cookies a try. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. Here is how they are made.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mid-Week Musings

What's In A Name ?

What's in a name? Shakespeare and Stein shared their views. So has William Goldman, who gave us The Princess Bride. I'm sure you remember, ".... my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Goldman bundled character, intent and clarity in that name, and while I've read and seen a lot in the intervening years, I've never forgotten the name Inigo Montoya. On a more serious note, the New Testament has given us the name Judas, synonymous with treachery and betrayal, and the Old Testament has given us the names Daniel and Samson, which we associate with bravery and strength. My own birth certificate has no given name. I was to have been Mavourneen, but on seeing me, my father decided I needed all the help I could get, and I remained "female" Boyle until my Baptism, when I was christened Mary. Maybe it helped - a little.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Creamed Honey

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...If you spend enough time in the kitchen, chances are the repetition of ingredients and techniques will become boring. Buffalo and ostrich made it to my table, because I wanted to taste something new. While molecular cooking is beyond me, I've tried sous vide and use other new techniques as soon as instructions become available. I also keep my eyes open for new ingredients and every so often I come across an old one that I know nothing about. Creamed honey is a condiment that's been around for years, but I've only recently discovered it. It was a chance find. I buy ingredients in bulk whenever I can and I ended up with a quart of honey, which is a ridiculous amount for two people. My honey, of course crystallized, and I had two choices, find a way to use it or throw it out. My research led me to something called creamed honey.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cottage Cooking - Skillet Spanish Rice

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Did you know my husband's sainted mother made him Spanish rice all the time? He didn't even have to ask. That's what I'm told, and how can you question the veracity of a man whose mother was a saint. While I make him Spanish rice from time to time, it's usually for lunch when we're at the lake and I'm working in a kitchen with a two burner stove and zero counter space. Simplicity and ease of preparation reign supreme in the lake kitchen, and this is a perfect meal to prepare when we are there. I rarely make it when we are at home because it doesn't seem quite up to standard. At his request, I lowered my standards and made the rice for his Father's Day lunch. I received the ultimate compliment. He thought it was better than his mother's. While breakfast stretched my kitchen skills, our lunch of Spanish rice was embarrassingly simple to make. Those of you who were children in the 40's and 50's are probably overly familiar with this dish. Most of us ate a lot of it and tend to associate it with leaner times and rationing. We forget how delicious it was and how easy it was to prepare. The recipe I use for the "better than my mom's" rice is a riff of the one that appears on the back of a Heinz Ketchup bottle. It is ridiculously easy to prepare and those of you who like casseroles that are ever so slightly sweet, will enjoy this trip down memory lane. Here is how the rice is made.

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