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Friday, April 30, 2010

Vinegar-Glossed Chicken

A friend enjoys making a meal based around a recipe for Vinegar-Glossed Chicken and she sent me the link to the recipe, it is posted on Leite’s Culinaria site.  The recipe sounded intriguing, so decided to make it for dinner.

My wife was out running errands and I asked her to go by the store and pick up some chicken breasts that I could use in the recipe.  The recipe calls for 5 1 /2-pounds of chicken, and she purchase two packages of boneless skinless chicken breasts for me to use.

I started by mixing the vinegar/garlic/rosemary mixture in a bowl and I let it sit for about an hour before I started cooking.  I decided to use one of the packages of chicken, which was around three pounds of meat.  Some of the chicken breasts were a little too thick, so I butterflied those before cooking.  I lightly salted and peppered the chicken and I was ready to cook.

I heated my non-stick pan on the stove on medium heat and once it was hot, I added about a tablespoon of grape seed oil and then half of the chicken breasts.  The recipe calls to brown the chicken for five minutes on each side for a total of ten minutes.  I should have known this was too long.  Once I browned the two batches of chicken, then I added 3 /4-cup of chicken broth and deglazed the pan.

I cut the chicken breasts into smaller pieces so they would all fit into the pan and turned down the heat to simmer to reduce the chicken broth.  I could see that there was not enough chicken broth, so I added about another 1 /2 a cup.  I simmered for the minimum fifteen minutes and then turned up the heat and added the vinegar mixture.

I must not have waited long enough, or had too much of chicken broth left in the pan, because I didn’t get the glaze affect the recipe describes.  I did have a small amount of tasty sauce in the pan that we served over the chicken and rice.

As I mentioned, I overcooked the chicken breasts so they were a little dry.  Having the sauce helped, but the next time I make this recipe, I will try it with thigh meat instead of the breasts so the meat will not dry out.  I would also cut back on the amount of chicken, only cooking as much as will comfortable fit in the pan in one batch, but keep the amount of vinegar mixture the same.

My wife was a little disappointed that this recipe didn’t make more of a sauce then a glaze.  Outside of the toughness of the meat, we enjoyed the flavor of the vinegar with the rosemary; I may have to do some experimentation with these flavors.

Find the Recipe at:

Adventures In Food: Author: Kerry Howell

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Traveling – First Class

We like to subscribe to the Rick Steves theory of travel: fly as cheap as you can and use the money you save for adventures.  The front and back of the plane arrive at the same time.  This sounds good, but both my wife and I are over six-feet tall, and sitting in coach for eleven hours, flying to Europe is unbearable.  (Don’t get me started on the five-foot people that thrust their seatbacks down into our already confined legs).  The only way we can fly in coach is to get the emergency exit seats, which makes the trip tolerable.

Though in 2003 when we flew to France for a month, we were using my frequent flier miles and the only seats we could get were First Class on British Airways (oh darn).  The cost of frequent flier miles is almost three times as much as coach per seat, but when it’s the only class with tickets, it’s worth it.

On that trip, we flew from Portland to San Francisco where were able to use the BA first class lounge and rest.  Here are two travelers wearing their jeans and walking shoes carrying Eagle Creek carry-on backpacks containing everything we need for four weeks.  The people that pay for first class seats do it so they can avoid the riff-raff, and guess what, there we were.

We were able to use the separate first class only jet way to board the Boeing 747 where we had the first two seats in the nose of the aircraft.  I had windows on the left, my wife on the right.  After we stowed our bags, we settled into our seats where the steward brought us champagne and h'orderves.  We noticed that all the things that they tell you when taking off in coach: “Seat tables up and locked, put away your video screen, no drinks” don’t apply to first class.  We continued to sip champagne while watching the Golden Gate Bridge vanish in the distance.

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner with linen tablecloths, real silverware, and real food accompanied by fine wines.  The seat reclined into a flat bed and we were able to spend some of our time sleeping across the ocean.

In the morning, before we landed in London (all BA flights from the US go through their hub in London), we had a nice British breakfast of scones, bangers (sausage), cooked tomato, eggs, ham, and hash browns.

When we arrived in Heathrow airport, we proceeded to the first class lounge that offered a wide assortment of foods and beverages.  We enjoyed our stay in the lounge in comfortable chairs while snacking until it was time for our flight to Paris.

I wouldn’t want to pay the full fare for the first class seats (around $4000 each), but when you are as tall as us and traveling “for free”, it is really worth it!

Adventures In Food: Author: Kerry Howell

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Last Christmas while I was looking for new cookie recipes, I found this recipe on the internet at the site.  It is for cookies with mini peanut butter cup centers – what could be better!

I had prepared for making this recipe by purchasing two bags of miniature peanut butter cups, one bag was milk chocolate, and the second bag was dark chocolate.  I quickly assembled all the dry ingredients from our pantry.  I used one stick of Gold-n-soft margarine instead of the butter, and got the margarine, eggs, and milk out of the refrigerator so they could warm to room temperature.

Mixing the ingredients in a stand mixer is very easy; I started with the margarine, sugars, and peanut butter (chunky) and mixed them until they were fluffy.  Then one at a time while continuing to mix, I added the egg, vanilla, milk, salt, baking soda, and then the flour.  Using the stand mixer, I didn’t see the need to sift the dry ingredients together as they are well mixed.

The recipe calls for rolling the dough into balls, but you quickly find that there is no way you can roll this dough into anything, it is too soft.  I put my mixing bowl with the dough into the refrigerator for at least thirty minutes to let it harden.  I had turned on my oven when I started the mixing process, but had to let the oven idle while the dough cooled, so in the future I would not turn it on to 375 degrees until the dough is just about chilled.

I spooned about a tablespoon of dough into each place in the mini muffin tin.  You don’t need to grease the tin as the margarine will take care of that.  I baked my cookies for the eight minutes on convection at 350.  They were a nice golden brown, be careful as it would be easy to over bake a tin of cookies.  While the cookies were baking, I unwrapped eighteen of each flavor of the mini peanut butter cups so I could quickly complete the next step.

As soon as I removed the muffin tin from the oven and set it on top of the stove, I started pushing a peanut butter cup into the center of each cookie.  I used enough pressure to push the peanut butter cup all the way into the cookie without breaking the chocolate.  Let the cookies cool in the tin for about five minutes, and then remove each cookie from the tin.  I found that a nylon fork worked well for removing the cookies, lift the edge of the cookie with the fork, and then grasp the edges with your fingers and lift each cookie out of the tin and set on a cooling rack.  You will get a few cookies where the edges break off while you remove them from the tin (I had one, so I ate it), they still taste fine!

This is a very easy recipe to make and would be fun for children to make these cookies.  The recipe says it makes about forty cookies and mine made forty-four (including the one I ate).

Find the Recipe at:

Adventures In Food: Author: Kerry Howell

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Traveling – Mont Saint-Michel, France

A portion of our 2003 month-long driving trip in France, took us from the beaches of Normandy to Mont Saint-Michel, the town island town and monastery just off the coast of France.  We highly anticipated visiting this site and we were amazed when we first saw the top of the church spire above the surrounding seaside.

We drove over the causeway that connects the island to the mainland and parked our car in the parking lot that was (currently) above the tide level at the base of the town.  Our walk through the narrow streets and over the wall ramparts was one of the highlights of our trip.  We spend most of that day walking over and around the island.

When we were ready to eat, most of the restaurants had closed, but we found one that would let us eat outside on their terrace with views of the buildings and out over the tide flats.  The menu was entirely in French, but we deciphered that their specialties were galettes, a flat buckwheat crepe.  I ordered mine with mushrooms (fungi) and my wife with eggs (oeuf).

We also ordered a glass of calvados, a sweet apple brandy made in the area.  When our galettes arrived, we were very surprised to see that the eggs were basically uncooked and just spread over the top of the galette.  Being the nice husband (cheap and not wanting to waste food), I swapped meals with my wife and I ate the egg and cheese galette which wasn’t too bad, and my wife enjoyed my mushroom and cheese galette.

It was easier washing the egg galette down with the glass of calvados!  We are very sorry that we didn’t purchase a bottle from one of the many roadside stands in the area.  I guess that leaves us an experience for our next visit to the region.

We spent that night at the first hotel Verte (green) which is the first hotel on the mainland off the causeway.  Just about everything in our hotel room was green, rugs, tables, chairs, wardrobe, and comforter on the bed.  We really enjoyed our stay at Mont Saint-Michel and spent the following day touring the monastery and spending additional time on the island until it was time to head south to the castle region of France.
A special thank you to Rick Steves whose excellent travel materials made this visit possible.

Adventures In Food: Author: Kerry Howell

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tapioca Pudding

We recently made a trip to Bob’s Red Mill store to see what products are available and purchased some different items to experience.  My wife occasionally enjoys having some chilled tapioca pudding, so I picked up a one-pound package of small pearl tapioca.

Last night I told her I would make some tapioca and once we returned from our evening walk, I started to cook.  The first thing on the recipe was to soak 1 /3-cup of the tapioca in 3 /4-cup of water in a saucepan for 30-minutes, already I have a delay in serving.

When the tapioca finished soaking, there was just a small amount of water remaining in the pan.  To the tapioca and water, I added 2 1 /4-cups of lactose-free milk, 1 /4-teaspoon of salt and two egg-yolks that were lightly beaten.  I turned the heat to medium and stirred the mixture while it came to a boil.  Once it started boiling, I turned the heat down to low and simmered the pudding for ten minutes (occasionally stirring) as I watched the liquid thicken into a creamy custard.

About this time, my wife is asking if the pudding is ready.  No, not yet, it will be about twenty more minutes.  I transferred the egg whites to a bowl and washed the small ramekin where I had placed the whites when I separated the whites from the yolks.  By mistake, I grabbed the bowl to wipe dry instead of the ramekin and I dumped the whites down the garbage disposal.  Drat!  Out of the refrigerator came two more eggs to separate and then I am ready to continue.

While the pudding simmered, I used a hand mixer to whip the two egg whites and 1 /2-cup of sugar together until it formed into soft peeks.  When the pudding had simmered and I had whipped egg whites, I folded about 3 /4-cup of the hot pudding into the egg whites.  This is to temper the whipped whites to keep them from clumping.  Then I folded the entire egg white mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the pudding.

By adding the egg whites to the pudding, the volume of the pudding almost doubled.  I told my wife that it would be different from the instant tapioca that we normally make.  Per the instructions, I cooked the pudding for three minutes on very low heat then I removed it from the heat and let the mixture cool for fifteen minutes, almost ready!

At then end of the fifteen minutes, I folded into the pudding 1 /2-teaspoon of vanilla, and the pudding was ready to serve.  We both enjoyed a bowl of warm tapioca pudding.  The texture is very light and foamy instead of thick, and dense.  Even this morning after it chilled in the refrigerator all night, it has retained the fluffy texture.  It is very good, but it might be just a little too sweet.  I looked on the box of the instant tapioca that was in our pantry and it calls for only 1 /3-cup of sugar, so next time I may reduce the amount of sugar.

The only problem that I see is that making a single batch of Bob’s Red Mill tapioca is that it doesn’t go very far.  Next time I will have to double the batch.

Adventures In Food: Author: Kerry Howell

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Traveling – Rotenberg, Germany

In 1996, we made our families first trip to Europe.  I had a nine-week sabbatical and we used the entire time touring European cities, towns, and villages.  Along the way, we took a bus ride from Munich along the Romantic Road, a collection of restored medieval German towns.  We ended our bus ride in the town of Rotenberg.

Rotenberg is a very picturesque little town in which everything including the large stonewall surrounding the town has been restored.  We spent two nights in a bed and breakfast in the center of Rotenberg.  We used Rick Steves material that provides information on where to stay on a budget and what to see.  Rick does mention that after the tour groups leave for the day in their large busses, that the town just about shuts down.  He was not kidding!  We really had trouble finding a place to eat at night.

One night on the way home from a restaurant, we were terrorized by small Germany cars careening at high speeds through the narrow dark streets of Rotenberg.  People were hanging out the car windows, yelling, and blowing the car horns.  It was very unnerving, and several times we barely had time to duck into a narrow doorway to avoid being run down.  We found out later that Germany had won the world-cup soccer game that night and people were just out celebrating.

One of the experiences that Rick Steves said it is best to skip was the schneeballs.  A schneeball is a mass of thin strips of dough that are pressing into a ball and then deep-fried.  They are served covered with powdered sugar or dipped in chocolate.  We just had to try eating one - we should have skipped it.  The schneeball was very stale and just didn’t taste that good.  It is definitely an experience to skip.

We did visit other sites in the town: we walked around the old stonewalls, climbed the bell tower, visited the Crime and Punishment Museum, and stopped into Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas shop.  The Käthe Wohlfahrt store is a wonderland of Christmas products available all year round.  Can you say tourist center.  After looking around, we did find one product to purchase; chocolate covered gummy bears.  We really enjoyed eating those while we walked around the town.

Sometimes we are warned not to eat something and we do anyway, we may not like the result, but at least we have a strong memory about the experience and a great story to tell.

Adventures In Food: Author: Kerry Howell

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Split Pea Soup with Ham

I decided to try my hand at making split pea soup for dinner.  My wife has always made the split pea soup, but I thought I would give it a go.  My wife was busy, so I found her recipe and set to work.

Split Pea Soup
  • 1 1 /2-cups washed green split peas
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 /2-teaspoon curry powder
  • 1-teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  1. Combine ingredients, add enough hot water to cover and bring to a boil
  2. Add two sliced carrots, 1 pork hock or ham bone and eight pieces of crumbled crispy bacon and bacon drippings.
  3. Set heat to simmer, occasionally stirring the ingredients, cook for 4 hours
The recipe called for the 1 1 /2-cups of dried peas.  The bag looked like it held about two-cups, so I just used the entire bag – no sense in having a small amount of dried peas hanging around.  I cleaned and chopped the two medium yellow onions and then the celery, I added the curry, salt, and pepper to the ingredients in the pot and covered the ingredients with hot water and set the pot on the stove on high heat to boil.

I had already thawed a ham bone we had previously saved from a spiral cut ham that had quite a bit of meat remaining.  Once the pot was boiling, I added the ham bone and one sliced carrot (that was all we had in the refrigerator).  I asked my wife if I had enough water in the pot and she took a look and indicated that I had used too much onion and that she adds all the contents by feel.

She also asked me to add some additional sliced ham into the soup.  I retrieved a frozen bag of ham chunks, thawed it and added about 1 1/ 2-cups of sliced ham pieces into the soup.  We let the soup simmer for about three hours.  When we were getting close to dinnertime, I made some corn bread in the oven.

We had a very nice dinner of split pea soup accompanied by corn bread.  My wife informed me the soup was good, but not quite the same as she likes to make it.  I enjoyed the soup and we have some that we will package up and freeze for some night when we don’t feel like cooking.

Adventures In Food: Author: Kerry Howell

Friday, April 23, 2010

BBQ Buffalo T-bone Steak

I reached into our freezer to find something for the next few night’s dinners and found two frozen buffalo t-bone steaks.  I thought that steak and potato sounded good for dinner and I pulled the steaks out of the freezer.

After all the problems with ground beef, we always use ground buffalo (Bison) meat in any recipe that calls for ground beef.  Buffalo is very lean meat and it is easy to overcook and it becomes tough.  Low and slow are the key words when cooking buffalo.  We typically eat beef steak, but we had purchased a side of buffalo, and these are some of the remaining pieces.

I put the steaks into the refrigerator to thaw for a day and then gave them a light sprinkling of salt and pepper.  I placed the steaks into a gallon zip-loc bag and added about a tablespoon of grape seed oil, a tablespoon of Italian herb vinegar and about a teaspoon of lemon juice.  I place the bag with the steaks back into the refrigerator to marinate for several hours.

When it was time to prepare the meal, I lit the briquettes in our BBQ and then went to our pantry where I found some white potatoes.  I scrubbed the potatoes and cut out the bad spots, then used my knife and poked about fifteen holes in each potato to let out the steam.  I put the potatoes on a plate and then put them in our microwave for eleven minutes on high.  I always pre-cook any potatoes that I will place in the BBQ to make sure they are fully cooked before I place them on the BBQ.  This prevents uncooked potato centers.  I also washed and trimmed some mini Portobello mushroom to place on the BBQ, and started preparing a salad.

Once the briquettes were ready, I spread them across the bottom of the BBQ and then put the grill in place to heat.  There are two things that keep meat from sticking to the BBQ grill, first thing is to pre-heat the grill, and the second is using a clean grill.  Once the grill was hot, I cleaned it well with my grill brush and then applied a thin coating of grape seed oil.

I placed the bison steaks on the center of the grill and then put the potatoes on the grill followed by the mushrooms around the outside of the grill (to keep them from burning from direct heat).  I cooked the steak for seven minutes a side, when I turned the steak; I also turned over the potatoes to keep the bottom from burning.

I removed all the food from the BBQ grill and took it all inside.  I let the steaks rest for five minute before cutting in to see how they were cooked.  They were still a little rare for our taste, so I put them in the microwave for one minute to finish, and then we dished up.

The meat was cooked to a nice medium-well, it was still a little tough and we used steak knifes while eating.  The buffalo had a nice flavor, which is a little different from beef, and the spices added to the taste without covering up the flavor of the meat.  The potatoes and mushrooms were perfectly cooked and had a nice smoky flavor from being on the BBQ.

In the future I will continue to BBQ beef steak, but it was nice to sample the buffalo steaks.  My conclusion is that while they taste good and are better for you, buffalo steaks are not worth the price and the extra care needed to make sure they correctly cooked.

Adventures In Food: Author: Kerry Howell

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Broiled Salmon

We had the opportunity to visit with some friends at the Oregon coast over the weekend where we had a wonderful time sharing good food, conversation, and adventures.  The weather cooperated by only raining at night.  Sunday the temperature was about 65 degrees on the beach with sunshine and no wind – Amazing!

One night I made dinner consisting of: Love Your Wife Chicken, brown rice, and salad (my wife made the salad).  We finished our meal with wonderful slices of Flourless Chocolate Cake topped with whipped cream.

The second night our friends made dinner consisting of broiled wild salmon (no color added) marinated in soy sauce.  The salmon was placed in a baking dish with about a quarter cup of soy sauce and left to marinate for about five minutes on each side.  The marinade gave the salmon meat a nice dark color and added seasoning without making it too salty.

Once the salmon was marinated, it was placed on a piece of foil then on a pan and into the oven on broil.  The salmon fillets were broiled for about four minutes on each side until the fish became opaque.

They also prepared a whole grain rice medley consisting of: CalMati Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Sweet Born Rice, and Heirloom Red Rice.  Freshly steamed broccoli completed the dinner.

While the fish was cooking, our friends peeled and sliced five granny smith apples and mixed the topping for an apple crisp.  The apple crisp was made gluten-free and I wanted to see how that was different from the recipe in my How To Cook Everything cookbook.  I found the recipes were almost identical, the HTCE cookbook called for 1/2-cup of flour to be added to the topping mix and to cook at 25 degrees higher temperature.

Once the salmon was finished cooking the apple crisp went into the oven to bake for an forty-five minutes and we sat down to a wonderful dinner of broiled wild salmon, rice, and broccoli.  The salmon fillets were perfectly cooked and the soy sauce provided a wonderful seasoning to the meat.  We enjoyed our dinner with a bottle of pinot grigio and then we sat and talked until the apple crisp was cooked.

Before dinner we made a trip to the store to get some vanilla ice cream and we each had a quarter of the apple crisp topped with ice cream.  It was excellent, the apples were very tender, and the topping was crisp and crunchy.  The little bit of flour was not missed at all.

Gluten-free Apple Crisp
  • 4-cups thinly sliced apples (~5-6 Granny Smith's) as many as can comfortably fit in the baking dish
  • 1-Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1-cup gluten-free oatmeal
  • 1/2-cup brown sugar
  • 1/2-teaspoon salt
  • 1-teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3-cup melted butter

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix the apple pieces with lemon juice and place the apple mixture into a greased 9x9 baking dish or glass pie pan.
  3. Combine dry ingredients and then add melted butter.  Mix until crumbly and sprinkle on top of apples. 
  4. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes (or 15-30 minutes longer to get a very gooey apple texture).
  5. Top with ice cream or whipped topping
Adventures In Food: Author: Kerry Howell

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Broiled Tilapia

I read in my new How To Cook Everything cookbook on page 278, about different ways of cooking white fish.  I decided to try the first recipe listed, which is for broiled flatfish or other white fillets

In thirty-five years of cooking, I had only used the broiler once before when I made French-onion soup, so this was a new cooking experience for me.  In the past, we always had concerns about handling the smoke and smell generated when broiling meats.

I prepared by getting some tilapia fillets out the freezer and started them thawing in cold water in the sink.  While the tilapia thawed, I prepared the remainder of the meal.  I retrieved some frozen green beans that I placed in a pan, and then I peeled and sliced some fresh carrots.  We already had some fresh brown rice cooked earlier in the day that I could reheat when it was time to eat.  I turned on the oven and selected the broil function, then set the temperature to 450 degrees.

I found our broiler pan and brushed the bottom of the pan with a very thin coating of grape seed oil.  I opened the individual packages of tilapia and placed them on a cutting board.  The recipe calls for fish that is about 1/4-inch thick but these tilapia pieces were about 1/2-inch thick so I sliced each piece in half.  I placed the thin tilapia pieces into the broiler pan.

The cooking instructions give several options for boiling the fish and I wanted to try out a couple of different recipes.  I decided to use the basic cooking technique, which is giving the top of the fish a brushing with oil, and then a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and also a mustard and herbs coating.  I prepared mustard coating by placing about two-tablespoons of Dijon mustard in a ramekin, adding about one-teaspoon of white sugar, some lemon juice, and about one-teaspoon of fresh rosemary.  I stirred this mixture together and spread it on one-half of the fish.

I turned on the range top to cook the frozen beans, and placed the broiler pan in the oven for four minutes.  While everything was cooking, I washed and sliced a couple of tomatoes for color, and a lemon that we could squeeze over our cooked fish.  After the four minutes were up, I checked the fish and while it was close to being cooked, it needed another minute to cook the thicker areas.

We had a wonderful dinner with tilapia, rice, tomato, carrots, and beans with lemon garnish.  Most of the tilapia was perfectly cooked and was light and flaky.  There were a couple of small areas that were thicker and were not quite cooked all the way through, but I microwaved those small areas and they were fine.  We enjoyed the basic preparation of the fish as well as the fish with the mustard and rosemary coating; it was nice to have both options during the meal.

The next time I broil tilapia, I may try some of the other suggested ways of preparing the fish: garlic parsley sauce, dill butter, and sweet soy.  We are enjoying different ways of preparing basic foods, the variety of recipes in the cookbook has added to our appreciation of the different foods we consume.

Adventures In Food: Author: Kerry Howell