COOKING TIP: Hot Pepper Prep

August 27, 2007

The capsaicin in hot peppers can burn your fingers and any other body part you happen to touch with your fingers. I once burned my eyes with banana peppers—very scary. With the exception of bell peppers, always wear rubber gloves when seeding and chopping even medium hot peppers. If you don’t have gloves, put sandwich bags over your hands. Remove gloves or bags by turning them inside-out and place them immediately in the trash.

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Cinnamon Icing

August 26, 2007

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Remember the yummy Cream Cheese-Pecan Icing we made for the Carrot Cake? Here’s another simple icing made with confectioner’s sugar. If you’ve never made desserts with cardamom, this could be the beginning of something grand. SAM

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons milk

In a small bowl, combine the confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, and milk to make a thin icing. Drizzle over warm cookies or cake.
Makes 1/2 cup.


Cinnamon-Raisin Squares

August 25, 2007

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A great little oatmeal bar cookie perfect for tucking into pockets or school lunches. Leave off the icing and you can even eat it for breakfast. SAM

2 cups rolled oats, uncooked
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup butter, melted (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup dark raisins
1/4 cup apple jelly
Cinnamon Icing

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch square pan and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and baking soda. Stir in the butter. Remove 1 cup of the oats mixture and set aside. Pat the remaining mixture into the prepared pan. In the same bowl, combine the raisins and jelly and toss with the reserved 1 cup of oat mixture. Sprinkle over the layer in the pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. While warm, cut into 1-inch squares. Cool in the pan. Drizzle with Cinnamon Icing.
Makes 18 squares.


Sour Cream-Horseradish-Walnut Sauce

August 24, 2007

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This tasty sauce will serve you well in all kinds of situations. It’s perfect with roast beef and chicken. Leave out the walnuts and serve it with ham. If I had to choose between meat and sour cream sauce, I’d choose the sauce, hands down. SAM

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon finely chopped black walnuts
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
Pinch of salt
Juice of 2 lemons (6 tablespoons)
1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream (1 cup)

In a small mixing bowl, combine the horseradish, walnuts, sugar, salt, and lemon juice. Add the sour cream and mix well.
Makes 1 1/4 cups.


Standing Rib Roast

August 23, 2007

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A perfectly cooked rib roast is the perfect foil for summer vegetables. Here’s an easy one for Sunday dinner or a big gathering of friends and family. SAM

1 (6 1/2- to 7-pound) standing rib roast
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
Sour cream or Sour Cream-Horseradish-Walnut Sauce

Sprinkle the roast lightly with salt and pepper and place, fat side up, on a lightly greased rack in a shallow roasting pan. Insert a meat thermometer into the middle, not touching fat or bone, and bake at 325 degrees F for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until the thermometer registers the desired degree of doneness: 150 degrees for medium-rare; 160 degrees for medium. Let stand for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with sour cream or Sour Cream-Horseradish-Walnut Sauce.
Makes 12 servings.


Sweet-and-Sour Grilled Salmon

August 22, 2007

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There’s nothing like a whiff of charcoal on the evening air to make me think all’s right with the world. SAM

1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup soy sauce
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, diced
4 salmon steaks (about 2 pounds)

Place the salmon in a shallow dish. Combine the brown sugar, wine, soy sauce, onion, and garlic and pour over the salmon. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours, turning occasionally. Spray the grill with nonstick cooking spray and prepare the charcoal. Grill the salmon 4 to 6 inches above the coals for about 30 minutes or until it flakes easily with a fork.
Makes 4 servings.


Rosemary Cheese Puffs

August 21, 2007

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This is a variation of French choux pastry. ‘Choux’ means ‘cabbage,’ which is what the little puffs resemble. Master these, and you’ll be the favorite of everyone you know. SAM

1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
1 to 2 dashes of cayenne pepper
1 to 2 dashes of hot paprika
2 tablespoons snipped fresh rosemary
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease or line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter in the boiling water. Add the flour, salt, cheese, pepper, and paprika. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. With an electric mixer—or a wooden spoon if you have very strong arms—beat in the rosemary and the eggs one by one until the dough is stiff. Drop by half teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees F and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, turning the sheets halfway through.
Makes 5 dozen puffs.