Tuesday, December 22, 2009


My final recipe for this.  I have been making it for months to get it just right.

1 ½ pounds flank or skirt steak, sliced thin
1 ½ pound chuck roast, trimmed of connective
tissue  (Cheaper cut or course.)

1/3          cup flour         
1             teaspoon salt          
1/4          teaspoon black pepper

4-8         Tablespoons butter
1/4          pound of mushrooms, sliced
1              onion, chopped
2 - 4        cloves garlic, minced
1 ¼         cups beef broth (cubes and water are okay)
2 to 4     Tablespoons tomato paste  (half of a small can)
1/3 +       cup white wine (optional)

¾ to 1  cup sour cream (to taste)


Dust sliced meat in flour mixed with the salt and pepper.
Heat butter.
( I added 4T. and the other 4 T. when I did the onions and garlic.)

              IN THIS ORDER!!
SAUTÉ in butter and REMOVE FROM PAN.  Seriously, I think the order is a biggie.
1.  MEAT   ( pink in the center)             
      Add meat and lightly brown,  REMOVE.           
      In same butter add mushrooms, REMOVE.
      Add more butter and onion and garlic
Add all above items back into the pan and heat.
Add tomato paste, and canned beef broth   (beef cubes and WINE will do fine.) Stir and warm up.  

Taste it.  Now is the time to add more wine or broth.

Place in CROCKPOT on low for 4 to 6 hours.

Add the SOUR CREAM before serving and mix in well.  Do not boil again.

Serve over butter noodles or rice. Will keep in frig for days but it won't last that long.

Note:  I used a cast iron casserole on the Stovetop and simmered for 4 hours. It required stirring so the meat did not stick to the bottom.

It would have been so much easier in the oven or in the crockpot.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


This recipe even a total novice can do.  
Its basically chopping up apples, nuts, soaking raisins and cranberries.
If you are watching calories, use 1 cup oil and 1/2 cup apple sauce. Change sugar to 1 1/2 cups.  Its still good.

          Bowl #1   
Mix together with hand mixer
1 1/2 cups  cooking oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs

2 t. vanilla or rum

         Dry Bowl #2   Mix and add to Bowl #1
2 cups flour
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
2 t. cinnamon

        Dry bowl #3     Fold into Bowl #2
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans are good.)
3/4 cup oatmeal (optional)
1 cup plumped raisins and/or dried cranberries
4 or 5 golden delicious apples chopped small, not peeled
Note:  If you used other apples, you might want to peel them.

These measurements are pretty loose.  You can do less or more on the apples, etc... cut the oil a little, cut the sugar a little.  It will still be great.

Bake at 325 degrees.
Season pans with an oil spray.  I used a new outrageously expensive mold pan from William Sonoma this time.  Other times I use foil loaf pans, bundt pans, sheet pans. 
Timing varies then.  Loaf pan take about 60 minutes.  You just keep checking it until it appears to be browning and pulling just ever so much away from the side. It will rise quite a good bit and be rounded on the top.  Let it cool and rest 15 MIn. If you need to remove it, do it then. 

Slice it and heat it for breakfast with a little butter.  Die happy.

Photo is of the ones I baked in the mold pan.  i may put a frosting or glaze on them for gifts. These cakes freeze very well too.  


Now these are not quick cookies.

12 tablespoons unsalted butter divided into 8T. and 4T.
1/4 cup granulated sugar (about 1 3/4 ounces)
       (For rolling only.  I used raw sugar and brown sugar.)
2 cups packed dark brown sugar (14 ounces)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons (about 10 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
(Cook's  had 1 T. which I thought was way too much. Maybe a typo.)
Heat 8 tablespoons of the butter in a pan over medium-high heat until melted. 
Continue to cook the butter until it is browned a dark golden color and smells nutty, about 1 to 3 minutes. ( Or 6 min.)
       #2. LARGE BOWL (will mix dry also in here in step 5.)
Transfer the browned butter to a bowl and stir the rest of the butter (4 T.) into the hot butter until it melts- let this rest for 15 min.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
In a baking dish, mix granulated sugar and a ¼ cup of the brown sugar until combined well; set this mixture aside to roll dough balls in.
Mix flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl. 
       #5. LARGE BOWL   FROM STEP #2
Add 1 ¾ cup brown sugar and salt to cooled butter and mix until there are no lumps. 
           5a. When butter is room temperature again.  add egg, yolk, and vanilla to butter mixture and mix well, then add flour and mix until just combined.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
      #6.  Roll dough into balls about 1 ½ inches in diameter, and roll balls in brown sugar and white sugar mixture. 
Place balls about 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets.  They really enlarge
Bake sheets one at a time until cookies are puffy and lightly browned, about 12- 14 minutes. 
(Be careful not to over bake.) 
Cool on sheet for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool.  
        Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated with my changes.  I cut 2 T. from the butter.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Sicilians feel that food and how to prepare it, is a gift from God and some may not have this gift, but WE DO. Its a given.  I have never heard of a bad Sicilian cook. Just doesn't happen as far as I know.
In my family, expertise in cooking goes back to my great grandfather Salvatore Patera who was a chef for wealthy people in Bagheria, I believe.  If I am wrong on that, who is going to care anyway. Okay, I digress.

This is the label that the family saved from Grandpa Patera's family.  The label, I suspect, is from the late 1800s.  Did some research and found out the Patera family is listed in a history of Bagheria, Sicily.  Salvatore Patera was in partnership with a Guiseppe Verdone.  It ended and the above label was kept by Verdone when he took over.   The new company is still in existence.

Friday, November 20, 2009


They are not to be trusted.  I used one on my turkey.  Why?  
Well, I had never used one before and I owned one, I thought its time to see if this would help make sure I did not overcook the bird.  
It said the breast meat was 180 degrees which is 20 over what is considered done.
Its wasn't raw but it could have taken another 30 minutes. The joints were not free yet and the browning was not really there.  I was afraid I had overcooked it but that was not the case.

You win some, you lose some.

Taste was fine.  But it wasn't the best turkey I ever roasted.
Back to my old tried and true methods. The legs must be almost free and ready to come off the bird.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


1.   WATER OR WINE.  Use white wine in place of water (broth) in the bottom of the pan to keep moisture in the turkey while roasting.  Or combine them.
2.  RACK?  No rack?  Use celery stalks, onions, carrots and layer the bottom of the pan and place your turkey on top.  It holds it up and flavors the drippings.
3.  Use medallions of seasoned butter under the skin or oil your hands and lift the skins over the breast and run the oil directly on the meat.  You may also season the oil before you do this.  Canola is  recommended.
4.  TENT and seal the turkey for the first hour at least.  I like up to 2 hours before I finally open up the bird. This will allow the steam to cook the meat without drying it out.
5.  HIGH HEAT to start?  450 degrees? Then revert to 325 degrees.  Well, do what you want, if you have prepared the turkey, it will be fine.
6.  POSITION IN THE OVEN.  Place on lowest rack.  The bird does best with a 6" clearance from the top of the oven.  I use an insulated cookie sheet under the roasting pan.  This insures an even heating of the bottom of the pan.  You are probably just fine without it.
7. WHEN TO UNCOVER? If you have tented the bird, you need to remove the cover for at least 40 minutes to over an hour at low heat of course.  Basting starts now.  Remember it does not keep moisture in but makes the skin more chewy.  
8.  IS IT DONE? Turkeys are done around 160 degrees in the deep part of the breast.  Alton Brown says there is carry over on the roasting so take it out of the oven to rest when the meat thermometer hits 151 degrees.  ITS STILL COOKING.  
My tried and true is if the leg is about to come off when you pull on it.  This means the joints have cooked enough that they are done and the meat is done too.
This reminded me of fish. If the platter is hot, the fish is still cooking on the platter after broiling or frying.
8.  Apples and apple cider can flavor your bird and the stuffing.
9.  See my other posts on turkey roasting.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Isn't this a question that crosses your mind about once every 20 years.  What is in that little bottle?  Can I make my own?  Yes, of course, you can.
My net search results are here. These are the general spices used. 
2 Teaspoons         Ground Sage   (I use more)      
1 1/2 Teaspoons   Ground Thyme                 
1 Teaspoon           Ground Marjoram
3/4 Teaspoon        Ground Rosemary                        
1/2 Teaspoon        Nutmeg                    
1/2 Teaspoon        Ground  Black pepper 
I am getting ready to make my flavored butter to put in the turkey under the skin. 
I make it early and keep it frozen until I need it.  
Basically you soften the stick of butter a lot. Don't melt it though. 
Then mix in a couple of tablespoons of the herbs above into the butter. Mix well, place it in a ziploc bag. Push the butter down to the bottom of the bag and then zip it. 
Fold the top over the bottom. Place in the freezer.
When you need to use it, place on counter for an hour.  Open bag.  
Reveal the log of butter that should be still hard.  Cut into about 6 medallions.
Now you are ready to insert them beneath the skin of the turkey.
Not that difficult really. Just move your fingers under the skin starting at the breast bone and it separates pretty easily.

TURKEY ROASTING Technique for a moist bird

This was the hit of Thanksgiving. I have roasted maybe 45 or 50 turkeys in my life but this one was the best.  Well, I started at 16.
Salt brine the bird and clean it up as you usually do.  RINSE WELL. There is a lot written on the brine being really important.  My family always did it so it wasn't news to me. 
WARNING ON SALT.  I found poor rinsing can cause your gravy to be too salty

Brine note 1: You will need at least 10 to 12 hours according to most chefs., a container large enough to hold your turkey and enough brine to cover it. You'll also need salt, water, seasonings, and enough room to refrigerate it. Both Reynolds (Oven Roasting Bag for Turkeys) and Ziploc (XL Storage Bag) are big enough for brining.  I have placed a turkey in the sink inside a clean plastic bag with salt etc...and filled the sink outside the bag with ice.  It worked for me. I brine my turkey about 4 hours usually.  Its fine.
Brine note 2:  Alton Brown puts in brown sugar and salt for the brine.
Stuffing note:  I have not included stuffing or actual temperatures since the instructions found on the turkey will do just fine. "Joy of Cooking" also had traditional recipes that are very good.
You may use whatever spices you want on the bird.

      2 T poultry seasoning or your own mix.  
          If you think it needs more, go for it. 
          ( I like to use fresh sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic.)
      1 cube of butter
      1 cube of butter for basting
      crushed garlic or garlic salt (optional)
      1 cup of water  or more
       apple, onion, celery, carrot  (optional)

1 zip lock bag for the butter medallions
Aluminum foil for tenting
Remove from the brine and rinse it off.  It should be ready for adding the above.
               BASTING THE TURKEY
Prepare the following spiced butter the night before roasting.
Soften the cube of butter and mix in the seasoning. Place this spiced butter in a ziploc bag.
ROLL THE BUTTER DOWN TO THE BOTTOM of the bag and then flip the empty part over it to form a roll.  Refrigerate over night. You might even freeze it for 20 minutes.  It must cut easily. Spiced butter must be hard.
Remove the bag.  Slice medallions of butter about 1/4 inch thick. They need to remain firm. 
LOOSEN THE SKIN on the bird over the breast with your hand. Just keep wiggling your fingers under the skin and it comes loose. Slip in at least 3 medallions under the skin and arrange so they will bast the breast. Do the same for the other breast, neck and legs if you can. This keeps the meat moist during the roasting.

PHOTO is of bird almost ready for oven.  The foil is to protect my nonstick pan from the roasting rack.  
Notice the butter/herb medallions.  I also placed whole fresh sage leaves under the skin. Which was not my best idea because if you are into showing off the browned bird, the leaves of sage still come through.  I didn't like the look very much. 

I added fresh whole sage and thyme to the bottom of the pan. That was a GOOD idea. You win some, you lose some.  I had not yet added the warm butter over the skin.  I sprinkled some poultry seasoning on the bird too.  I do that just before tenting it and sealing it as carefully as I can.  
Then a cup or more of water (wine?) in the pan. This will steam the turkey. VERY IMPORTANT.
 It keeps the juices from browning and that adds flavor to the gravy of course.

               FILLING THE  CAVITY
Add some of the butter medallions to the cavity.
I  put in a cut up onion, celery,  apple, and carrots along with my choice of poultry spices (sage). Tie the legs if you want. Baste the outside of the skin with butter and a little garlic if you like. 
              PREP FOR THE OVEN
Preheat your oven following your instructions that came with the bird or use "Joy of Cooking."
Place the bird on a roasting rack inside the roasting pan. Tent loosely and then seal the turkey with the foil. Try and not touch much of the breast with foil if you can.  
During the roasting, keep it sealed for 2 hours or more. Check it and baste it of course.  It will not need much. If the water DISAPPEARS, add a small amount of water to the pan. The steam does the trick.
When your bird is ready to uncover and brown, baste it as usual for about 45 minutes. Basting doesn't moisten the meat but it makes the skin chewy. That is what the experts say anyway. Time in the oven depends on the size of your bird.  I usually roast a 12 to 15 pound bird. I did not include temperatures. Just follow what you always do. It will be fantastic. After the bird is done, remove from oven and let it sit for 30 minutes to have the juices set in the meat.   It will be the best turkey you ever roasted.
            CARVING THE BIRD
I watched Tyler carve out the entire breast in one piece and then cross slice it like a pork roast.  It looks good.  I am going to do it that way this Thanksgiving.
NOTE:  The Barefoot Contessa had a show today using olive oil instead of butter under the skin then white wine instead of water.  I am going to change to wine on my next turkey and see if I can tell a difference.


A high school friend from a life time ago has written a book which is humorous on food and eating habits.  The Art of Overeating. Go Leslie. And good luck with your book.
Back in the days before diets became “lifestyle” choices and weight loss programs became a national obsession, eating was just one activity that we all had to do that was even – gasp – fun.
Leslie Landis has been a practicing clinical psychologist since 1999. In that capacity she has helped individuals who eat, spend, avoid, deny, and defy, and has gained many insights about overeating through their experiences. She lives in Southern California with her husband, Martin.

Title: The Art of Overeating by Leslie Landis  
ISBN-13: 978-1402764561
Publisher: Sterling (November 2009)
US $9.95/Can. $12.95

Amazon sells it at a lower price of course.

The Art of Overeating at Amazon.com

Monday, November 9, 2009

CLARA'S KITCHEN by Clara Cannucciari

  May I introduce you to Clara Cannucciari.  at the age of 94 she is on Youtube, appeared on morning TV and has written a book of memories and recipes.  Lots of memories.
She lived through the depression and grew strong and frugal with the help of her family.  They were a united front to get by and feed their family when they was little or no work. Here is a brief paragraph from her book.

"We made a lot of meals with eggs because they weren't just cheap, they were practically free.  Back in those days, we all had our own chickens, which we kept in the yard.  It was pretty normal to have a few chickens running around the yard back then, but they probably wouldn't allow that anymore. So we always had our own eggs.  And then sometimes for Sunday dinner, we'd kill a chicken.  But that was rare. We needed the eggs!"
           See her videos at:        
          Buy the book at:    Clara's Kitchen

Friday, October 30, 2009



Do you still have a regular old toaster oven? They were a great invention but its time for you to move on. Its called a convention oven. It broils, bakes,  toasts, convention bakes and its larger so it can handles a small pizza too. It reduces the time for baking, it saves energy big time.  Why?
You don't heat your big oven except for large cakes and big roasts etc... Also in the summer, you are not heating the entire kitchen area.
If its time to replace, check out the Cuisinart Convection oven. Costco has them on sale with a $20 off coupon. Its well worth it. I have talked 2 friends into buying them and they love them now.

I checked out Sam's club and they had a cheap one made in China.  It looked it too. You can have a pretty complete working kitchen with a microwave, refrigerator, stovetop, and the convention oven.  Of course a functioning sink, lights and electricity are necessary.

If you live in a small apartment, these appliances would be perfect for 99% of all cooking needs.


Recipe is doubled.   
I just can't see making a small amount for all that work. These are my favorites but I think the spinach ones are great too.

3  pounds  ground beef
     ( I use beef and turkey which reduces the fat content while the beef adds to the flavor)
2  medium onions
2  cups bread crumbs
       ( I used seasoned but I am going to try Panko bread crumbs next time.)
2/3  cup  Romano Cheese
2/3  cup chopped fresh parsley              
4  eggs                                                      
3  teaspoons  salt                                                  
2  teaspoons  freshly ground black pepper              
6  cloves of minced garlic
6 T olive oil ( for frying)     I BAKE MINE.  NEVER FRY THEM.

FRYING.  Fry in oil until brown,  3 to 5 minutes and turn over and do other side. 

BAKING.  Prepare baking pan with foil with slits for draining off fat.  Or use a cooking cooking rack inside the pan.
Bake in oven  at 375 for 15 to 20 minutes.  They will look brown on top.
Drain. Cool.  Can be easily frozen in plastic bags for future use.

Cook in sauce for about 10 to 30 minutes before serving.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


                 Spinach Meatballs Recipe

1 large bunch of spinach, washed and torn (about 3 cups). 
     Cooked until tender and chopped.
1 large onion, minced
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound lean ground beef
     or turkey 
     or turkey and beef combined
     or beef and pork combined
1 beaten egg
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs,
      planko style 
      or Italian style
Salt and pepper to taste.

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil over low heat until soft.
Add onion-garlic mixture to remaining ingredients and form golf-ball size balls.
Bake in oven on cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 375.  They are best completely done or not quite. 
They can finishing cooking in your favorite sauce.
Place in your tomato sauce. Cook gently for 30 minutes.

My suggestions for flavor is the combination of pork and beef.  I found that beef added to the turkey gave the meatballs some fat, more flavor and texture.  But all choices will be good. 
I usually make 5 pounds into meatballs and then separate and freeze in bags. Its a wonderful quick meatball sandwich or a single serving of pasta with two meatballs.  One is just silly.  

My New Rule of slow cooking

l.  If your recipe calls for vegetables put in with meat and slow cooked together for hours, don't do it that way.

2. Cut a large stalk of celery and/or other vegetables such as a small whole onion and place it with the meat. This way the flavor is in the meat and sauce.

3.  The rest of the vegetables, cut up and have ready for that final hour or so of cooking.

4. When the meat is ready, remove the large pieces of vegetables from the pot.  They should be easy to find unless they are mush.  I hate mush unless its really part of the recipe taste and texture.

5. Reduce the sauce as per recipe.

6. The flavor of the large vegetables should be in it and you can still see the other cut up pieces and they are not totally overcooked.

I wish I had done that with a new recipe for short ribs I made last night.  Results were lots of mush.


3 or more tablespoons olive oil
4 to 4 1/2 pounds beef oxtails
4 celery stalks, chopped fine
2 carrots, chopped fine
3 carrots whole (to add sweetness, remove later.)
1 onion chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped

½ bottle dry red wine
 12 sprigs fresh thyme chopped
 12 sprigs fresh parsley chopped
 8 whole cloves(optional)
 4 bay leaves
¼ cup tomato sauce (or more)
 5 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt broth
 2 tablespoons all purpose flour


Rinse and pat dry the oxtails. 
Dip in seasoned flour.  Salt and Pepper.
Heat oil in heavy large pan over high heat. 

Add  oxtails to pan and cook until brown on all sides, about 12 min.
Transfer oxtails to a platter. Cover.
Add celery, carrots, onion and garlic to same oil in pot and sauté until golden brown, about 8 minutes.
Add wine, tomato sauce, thyme, parsley, cloves and bay leaves.

Put in the vegetable mixture in bottom.
Arrange oxtails over vegetables.
Add stock.  Put on high for an hour.  Reduce heat.
Simmer until meat is very tender, about 2 hours or more.

Remove oxtails from cooking liquid. Cover oxtails with foil or lid.
Cool liquid. Skim fat from surface of liquid and reserve. ( I threw it out.)

Return liquid to a pot on the stove. 
Boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 15 minutes or more.
Strain cooking liquid. (I didn’t.)  
We liked it fine with the veggies in it. Lumpy and delicious.

Simmer until sauce thickens enough to coat back of spoon and is reduced to 2 cups, stirring frequently, maybe another 15 to 30 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Return oxtails to sauce, serve or cover and refrigerate.)

Rewarm oxtails in sauce over low heat. 
Serve over mashed potatoes or whatever.

Note:  The flavors are even better the second day.  Good to make the night before, I think.

Monday, October 26, 2009


2 lb. thawed hash browns (any frozen brand)
1 can cream of chicken soup (low fat)

1 pt. sour cream  (fat free)  or yogurt
1/2 c. chopped onion (green onion tops add color)
1 tsp. pepper
6 oz. shredded Cheddar cheese 
   (low fat) or cheese of choice 
   (some Pepper Jack worked well with cheddar)
½ butter  (optional)

1/4 c. melted butter
2 c. mashed corn flakes (I did not use all of it)
Mix soup and sour cream together.  Heat soup so its warm and blends well.
Add mixture to hash browns and mix.
Pour into buttered 9x11 dish.

Sprinkle topping over top.
Bake uncovered at 370 degrees for 45 minutes or until bubbly.

I cooked at 370 degrees instead of the traditional 350 which worked well for me.
It took all of an hour to get it bubbly.

A definite candidate for a repeat.  It mixes up easy. 
Great for a picnic too.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Panattone Bread Pudding

A little history of the bread/cake dessert.  

In the early 20th century, two Milanese bakers began to produce Panettone in large quantities, In 1919 Angelo Motta started producing his brand of cakes. He made it in its tall domed shape by making the dough rise three times. At the end of World War II, panettone became the leading Christmas sweet in Italy. It usually contains dried citrus, raisins and other candied fruits.
Well that was a disaster tonight. I always heard how good it was. If you do not like the citrus flavor in fruit cake or the Italian Panatone breads, you will not like this one either.

I usually make a wonderful bread pudding from the Silver Palette Cookbook. I just had to try this recipe. Mistake!!!

Never again. Not even worth a second try. Its right up there with the Alton Brown's Mac and Cheese recipe. Both saw the inside of the garbage can. Yes, that bad.

I had one success this week with the Paula Deen's chicken breast, swiss cheese and white wine. It was excellent.

One out of three is probably normal for 3 first time recipes.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Last month I ordered a cookbook through Amazon. It was with a private seller and it was reasonable. The book is The Art of Sicilian Cooking. I have a post just on my review of this book. The book I ordered never arrived. I wrote the seller. She assured me that the book was shipped in September.

I checked on Amazon and it was due to me by Oct. 20, at the latest.  I found it odd the seller immediately refunded my money. I didn't even ask for a refund. I was concerned she was going to have a loss on this item. I told her I would wait until the 20th just in case it showed up before I found another copy to order.

Here is the kicker. She told me she had no other copy in her stock. I looked on line. She has two listed at over $100 each. The copy I paid for was under $25.

Now, do you think my copy went up to $100 and was never shipped off to me in the first place?  I wonder. I looked all over the net and they are not available right now for anything less than $100.

I have my money back but no book. I do know that things change on pricing all the time. I can check back in a month or so, and cheaper copies will be back for sale. One must be patient.

Anyone have this type of experience with used books before?

Oct. 26, 2009.  I found another copy for $7 on Amazon.  Yes, and I bought it and requested routing and tracking information.  It was cheaper than the one I never received.  Lets hope it gets to me.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I went up with friends and we saw "Wicked" at the Orpheum Theater on Market.  Had lunch in the really super food court in front of Bloomingdales. I wish we had a food court like this.  Wonderful food. Cream Puffs to die for too. The play "Wicked" was okay. NOT great. No reason to buy the CD. Costumes  and actors were excellent. I just think the play was weak.  Then we came back on Sunday into the pier area to see the Blue Angels fly over and the Columbus Day Parade.
Had a really nice time and ate lunch on the wharf. It was cold and over cast. We didn't see the sun until we hit Morgan Hill driving down 101 to check out the Gilroy Outlets. I found a cookbook I wanted (I know you are totally surprised I don't already have it) so I was happy. Parking was expensive.  $21 on Saturday when we saw the play.  $28 on Sunday at Pier 39 where we parked.

Do bring money if you come to San Francisco.  Or ride in on the Bart.  Ground transportation is good.  Of course, riding a bus is its own special entertainment.  You never know what you will see.


I was watching Alton Brown make a recipe for Mac and Cheese on the Food Network when he mentioned a particular type of breadcrumbs. I made his recipe using regular bread crumbs and was really disappointed. The breadcrumb topping was awful; too dense with no real taste. So, of course, I went shopping to find the Panko Bread Crumbs he used. I knew nothing about them but I soon found out. I bought two different brands to try. Here is the scoop.

Panko is the Japanese word meaning "bread crumbs or child or bread". They are made from the soft, tender centers of bread instead of the crust. They supposedly form a lighter texture and are less dense. They are now popular with chefs everywhere. I am withholding my opinion until I try them.

I plan to make my next batch of Sicilian meatballs with them. I will report the results. It must be a cross between using fresh broken up pieces of bread and regular bread crumbs.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Paula Deen's Recipe off the Food network  

Lady and Son's Chicken in Wine Sauce

I made this recipe last night.  Its very easy and contains basic items you may already have on hand.
Chicken breasts, skinless and boneless. (You could probably do bone in and it would be fine.)
Cream of chicken soup       Salt and pepper       Swiss cheese slices        white wine        butter        bread stuffing mix (small amount worked well)
NOT a hard one to do.  I made it and kept close to exactly how she made it.  I might have been a little light on the swiss cheese. I used 2% and lessened the butter since she LOVES butter. Can't blame her there.
A suggestion is to heat the SOUP in a sauce pan. Add the wine and THE CHEESE.  I say this because when you layer the cheese slices on top of the chicken, you can't really judge how the sauce will taste.  Too cheesy?  Not enough?
Next time I will melt the cheese and taste test it.
GO LIGHT ON THE BREADCRUMBS. Too much is really bad with bread crumbs.
A great recipe I will do again. It was about 15 minutes of prep. Baked unattended by me for 45 minutes I think. Perfect timing. Yes, I know its not Italian.

1. I will place some asparagus or artichoke hearts around the chicken. That would be my version. I am going to try it that way instead of cooking the vegetable separately.
2. It was short on color. Maybe a little parsley in the sauce? I think green is the key here. So what goes good with chicken and swiss cheese? Not sure yet what I would do.
Its such a simple basic idea, you can really add things to it to jazz it up if you like.

It keeps well in the frig and tastes great the second day.  So its a good make ahead recipe for a party or pot luck.
If you make it, I would appreciate any feedback.
                  * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
PS: I found many versions of this recipe on a Google search.  The best was this:
pound flat each chicken breast and wrap a swiss cheese slice around a cooked asparagus spear. Then wrap the breast around that and placed it along with others in a casserole and used the sauce.  Its okay.  Takes longer in the oven.  Also, harder to cut with a fork.  You need a knife for sure if you do it. I liked the original version with the flat chicken breast best.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


It happened.  I went hunting for the absolutely necessary (yeah right) clear glass bowls for making a teaching video.  I found them at Target and Ross.  Now I am ready.  I have the recipe, the camera, and the bowls.  Now to find the time.  My guess is it would take most of one day.

You have to prepare the kitchen.  Not like typing a blog where you are in your PJs and drinking coffee, hair not combed.  No, one must be GROOMED!
The worst part is the kitchen.  One must clear the counters. Make it look like Giada's or Rachel's. Well those are sets. This is REAL life. But I can do it. I was an Art Teacher for 35 years. This is a breeze really after that part of my life. Everything in my life is remembered as before or after teaching. I used to think before or after marriage, but the passage of time has changed my perspective.

This week is good too. My current life as Nana, the babysitter is on break for a few days. I miss them already. One gets so attached to drooling hungry faces. Mediating fights over stuffed animals, blankets, preferred seating, and anything one boy gets first, the others want.
My first video will be on making biscotti. I make a lot of it and the yearly baking is going to start soon.

I sell it at church during the Advent Faire as my donation to the building fund. You can turn $40 worth of food into $500 pretty quick. After 3 years of this,  people come to the sale just to buy them.

Well, baking is not quick. It takes time and I prepare the night before to make at least 12 cups of flour into the delicious biscotti. I measure everything out for 3 batches. For each batch the dry ingredients go into one plastic bag. Sugar in its own bag since it is added to the butter.  Nuts, fruit, etc.. in a smaller one. Three bags per batch. It works well. The butter is set out to be room temperature in the morning.  Eggs stay in the frig.

I try to make just 3 separate batches of one recipe a day. That way I don't confuse the 5 different recipes. Past experience showed me the error of my ways. I cooked batches that only the family got to eat. So now I am more controlled.

A Youtube account will be set up just for this series. I haven't figured out a name yet. Probably "Italianfoodienana cooks". You will find a link to Youtube on this blog when I have completed this task.