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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sunomono - An Easy Japanese Vinegar Salad

From the kitchen of One Perfect...We had another unexpectedly warm day and the gift of cucumbers from a friend gave me an excuse to make a much simpler supper than I had planned. These were the first yellow cucumbers I've had and I was really curious about their taste. As it turns out, the flesh is identical in flavor to that of the green variety, but the skin is unpleasantly bitter. Sunomono is a vinegared salad that is made with cucumbers or other fresh vegetables. Small pieces of seafood, such as crab, octopus or shrimp can also be added to make the salad more substantial. This is a very easy dish to make and it is elegant in its simplicity. The word sunomono means vinegared things, so you'll find there are many versions of this dish. I've added far more shrimp than are normally used in its preparation because I wanted to use it as a main course salad for the two of us. I usually make the salad with the near seedless English or Japanese cucumber. For those of you who have never seen the Japanese variety, they look like English cucumbers with warts. I do hope you'll give this simple recipe a try. Here's how to make this light and refreshing salad.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Elderberry Sauce for Pork, Turkey or Duck

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...If you don't hear from me tomorrow, we'll all know that uncooked elderberries are poisonous. I've only recently become interested in the berries which grow on the shoulder along the road the Silver Fox and I use for our morning walk. We've watched the shrub progress from flower to fruit, and, after doing a bit of research and talking with our local extension agent, I decided to harvest some of the berries for limited kitchen testing. Elderberries are tart members of the honeysuckle family. There are three varieties that grow in North America, two are blue and one is red. Their color is important. The red berries are poisonous if eaten raw. Fortunately, I'd been sampling the blue variety and lived to tell the tale. Interestingly, the berries, which are smaller than blueberries or raspberries, don't attract birds. They are bitter, almost astringent, and don't develop real flavor until they are processed. They are mostly used in jams and jellies, but they can add complexity and tannins to wine. They also mix well with other fruits and are used to add color and tart-sweet flavor to compatible fruit desserts. The elderberry is small in the extreme, and separating the berries from their stems is no easy task, but it can be made easier by freezing them prior to stem removal. I decided to pair the berries I'd picked with blueberries and made a pie and muffins that were OK, but nothing to raise the flag about. I had better luck with the sauce which I want to share with you tonight. While I used it as a sauce for pork cutlets, it would be wonderful with any assertive protein. I think those of you who try the sauce will really enjoy it. The trick, of course, will be finding elderberries you need to make it. The recipe falls into the stupid-simple category, so no elaboration is necessary. If you are intrigued, pucker up and follow the instructions below. Here is how the sauce is made.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Chicken in Every (Crock) Pot

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Despite my best efforts to avoid what I thought would be wall to wall crowds, I had to go to the mall this past weekend. As it happened, the place looked like someone had forgotten to send invitations to a birthday party. Back in the day, this was a big weekend for merchants. New shoes and outfits were de rigueur, as were lunch boxes and pencil boxes that begged to be stocked with school supplies whose number and price grew every year. Most of us delayed shopping until sales began and the weekend before school started rivaled Christmas in the crowds it drew to the malls. Our near empty stores are a sure sign that shopping habits have changed. While the pencil box has gone the way of the dinosaur, I hope that kids still get to pick the rulers and notebooks and pens that  fill their backpacks. I loved to stock my own pencil box and seemed to pass that proclivity on to my own children, who had an eye for anything bright and shiny and more expensive than it ought to be. While we found no crowds at the malls, we found them elsewhere. Our weather has been warm, and while the rivers are low, they haven't prevented locals from tubing in areas where they can catch the current. The cars in the inset photo are those of swimmers who spent the day floating on the river on rather inelegant black inner tubes. Despite pools, the old swimming hole and river currents still hold some sway, as the crowd at this and other bridges indicates. Ready for segue? If you've spent a day on the river or have to get dinner on the table for your hungry scholars, I think you will enjoy this effortless chicken casserole that's made in a slow cooker. This is not, nor will it ever be, company fare, but it makes a great family meal on those days you're absent from the kitchen and still need to have dinner ready and waiting for your crew. Here is how it's made.

Monday, August 25, 2014

White Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...If you have a fondness for German chocolate cake, I suspect you'll love this variation which is made with white chocolate. The cake was the entry of Cheryl Adkins who won 1st place and best of show in the cake division at the Ohio State Fair this summer. Her cake is not difficult to make and the use of white chocolate makes it a bit unusual. If you enjoy really sweet desserts, I urge you to give the recipe a try. Its assembly is straight forward, but you'll want to make sure the pans you use are generously greased. Based on the difficulty I had releasing the layers, I'm also recommending the pans be lined with parchment paper. I have no other cautions to share with you. This is a lovely cake that will appeal to any of you who have a sweet tooth and like "from scratch" desserts. Here is how the cake is made.


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