Friday, December 31, 2010

Breast, Thigh, Loin (and Other Animal Body Parts) Rubs

Lil Bro was visiting this fall from Iowa. Arizona in October is way different from Iowa. When he arrived, the temp was 112°. Hot, even for Arizona, in October.

As a side note: We find sidewalk cooking in the summer time saves energy. I’ll have to share my “Scambled Eggs á la Cement” some day. Tasty once you get past picking out the grit. But a good powerwash of the sidewalk in advance keeps the grit down to a manageable level. And, with enough freshly-ground pepper, who knows if it’s grit or not!

But back to Lil Bro’s visit. Many things are revealed when you spend a month together. He is a closet foodie. Who knew? Tragically, he lost his wife in May. That’s been very hard, but he knows he is now in charge of his culinary life, and he has embraced that fully. He likes cooking and not just because he has to cook. He really, really likes it. DH was delighted there was someone else for me to talk food to.

So, Lil Bro spent time learning to read labels and comparing nutritional values. I taught him to measure and what a portion size looks like on the plate. We spent a couple of hours at a time in the grocery store and Bed Bath and Beyond’s kitchen area. In other words, we had a ball!

He wanted to show off some of his new-found knowledge, so Lil Bro and I put together some meat rubs for him to take back as gifts and for himself. Here are a few for you to try out:

Cocoa-Chili Rub (3.5-4# pork or chicken)

1 T cocoa-chili powder

1 T brown sugar

1 t basil or oregano

1 T evo

Mix together and spread on meat with fingers. Grill or roast.

Cocoa-Coffee Rub (1-2# beef, chicken, or pork)

2 T finely ground coffee beans or instant espresso

1 T unsweetened cocoa powder

½ t brown sugar

¼ t cinnamon

1 t evo

¼ t salt and pepper

Mix together and spread on meat with fingers. Grill or roast.

Lemon Zest Rub (1# fish)

1 T lemon zest

½ lemon, juiced

1 t honey

1 T tarragon

1 t evo

Mix together and slather on fish.Grill or bake.

Happy grilling (or roasting)!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A (Citrus) Zest for Life

Who knew? DH, ignoring stacked up dirty pots, picked up my zester from the counter and said suspiciously, “What’s this?”

“Oh, you know. My zester.”

DH: “Huh? You use this to feel more zest? I can make you zestier.” (Waggling of eyebrows)

“I didn’t say it is to make one ‘zestier’; it is to make ‘zest.’

DH: “How does it work? There’s no plug.”

“Right. Not all kitchen gadgets have plugs. Here’s what you do.” I picked up an orange from the fruit bowl, and began to zest away.

DH: “It’s going to take a long time to ‘zest’ a cup of that. Then what? We eat it? And don’t you have it upside down?”

“Look, I’m the professional amateur here. I know what I’m doing. See all this great zest?”

He shook his head and wandered away from my kitchen. Good riddance. If you can’t at least wash up a pot while you’re here, go do something else. But don’t question my gadgets.

I happily zested away when I first got my zester. I zested fish for broiling. I mixed zest into frostings. I seasoned salad dressings. Oh, what fun it is to zest!

BUT—horrors! I was watching a food channel show and the host picked up the zester and began to use it wrong. Or . . . could it be? Was I wrong?

I was initially mortified. DH was right. I had it upside down. The professional was zesting holding the zester under the fruit and moving the fruit across the surface with zest falling into a fluffy pile of lemon yellow beneath.

I, on the other, and apparently wrong, hand put my zester on top of the fruit and move the zester. This way, the zest accumulates in the little trough and I can tell if I have a tablespoon yet.

I may be wrong, but I still believe using my zester the wrong way is the right way. How do you know how much you have zested because those little cutting teeth have a whole bunch more that you can add to your pile.

My advice is to try it the professional’s way and my way. You can vote below so we can see who prefers what.

We have orange, lemon, and grapefruit trees in our backyard. Excuse me while I go hunt for more recipes with zest. Though I have many recipes, so far my favorite original creation remains my Cranberry-Lemon Cream Scones. Easy-peasy, and I always get compliments.

Surprise your family with some for breakfast tomorrow morning. They’ll adore you even more than they already do.

Cranberry-Lemon Cream Scones (makes 9 scones)

3 c. flour

3 T. sugar

3 t. baking powder

½ t. salt

2 c. Bakers’ whipping cream

6 oz. pkg. dried cranberries

½ c. almond slivers, toasted

zest from 2 lemons, divided

1 ½ c. powdered sugar

Juice of 1 ½ lemons, divided

Heat oven to 400°. PAM a cookie sheet. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, zest of one lemon, and salt. Add cream. Mix. Add cranberries, almonds, juice of ½ lemon, and zest from one lemon. (Tip: handle scone dough as little as possible to keep it tender.) Divide dough into nine balls. Flatten each ball into rounds like a hamburger patty. Bake for 10-13 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. Mix powdered sugar with remaining lemon juice and zest. Use your taste-o-meter to see if you want it more lemony. Drizzle over warm scones.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Coffee Wars

I like—make that need—my first cup of morning coffee to be strong enough to strip paint off the house. DH prefers his medium—“Why bother?” I ask him. We both like full-caf for the 1st cup. For our second cup, I prefer flavored coffees. He hates them. He needs his second cup to be decaf. Again I ask, “Why bother?”

So, do you make 4 pots and toss out most of it? No, you buy a gadget. I love gadgets. They make the kitchen life more interesting. DH professes to hate gadgets. This one is so cool looking, however, that our Keurig had a head start with him. It has a blue glowing light coming out of the water reservoir that looks delightfully Star Trekky.

Our Keurig coffee maker could go into business as a professional marriage counselor. Seriously, this could give us another few years together.

I am always up first. I make my single cup of strong black coffee (has five choices for size of coffee from strongest to weakest). I just pop a little K-cup filled with real coffee into the Keurig. It brews in its little cup with filter. When done, I pluck it out of the space and toss it in the trash.

I make my second cup of black coffee—hmm, maybe Candy Cane or Crème Brulee, perhaps Pumpkin Spice. DH gets up a few hours later and makes his cup of medium coffee with creamer. An hour later he makes his cup of decaf with creamer. No waste. No muss or fuss. Just coffee (and not instant) at 192° F.

Do you see how this works? Everybody is happy. Even DH agrees this was a good purchase. The only concern we have is environmental. So we are using less water because we don’t discard any coffee, BUT, those little K-cups are not yet recyclable. They’re working on it. In the meantime, there is a gadget which you can fill with your own coffee and make the single cups that way, so you could have containers of different coffees and dump the plastic issue. But you would have to wash that. Hmm. Work.

In the meantime, I am sipping my Spicy Mayan Chocolate Coffee and thinking of you. Put it on your list for some gift-getting occasion. Mmmmm! Delish!

Christmas Update: Check out my new desk and red chair at my picture. I’ll leave it for a few days, then remove it. I expect to be very productive here.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Shrimp Scampi with Angel Hair Pasta

Okey dokey, Artichokie. I told you I’d post the shrimp scampi recipe—guided by my Taste-o-Meter, remember, not so much actual measurements—and then it plumb went out of my head. (Given this is a foodie blog, shouldn’t that be “plum went out of my head”?).

Anyway, a quick post today since DH and I have to take London and Brooklyn to the airport. They are headed off to her parents for another round of Christmas food and presents.

Back to the business at hand: I hesitated putting this recipe in because it just struck me that I wouldn’t want to eat anything with “hair” in the title, but then again, I didn’t name that pasta. Maybe the angel part obviates the hair part.

8 oz Angel Hair pasta

½ c butter

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 lg cloves garlic, sliced

1 # shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 t dried basil

1 c dry white wine

¼ t pepper

1 c asiago cheese, divided

1 T chopped fresh basil

Cook pasta. Melt butter in large saucepan over med heat. Stir in garlic and shrimp. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3-5 minutes. Stir in wine and pepper. Bring to boil and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Mix shrimp with pasta in a serving bowl. Sprinkle with ¾ cup cheese and basil. Serve remaining cheese on the side. Serves 4.

Delish with a salad and some crusty garlic (of course!) bread.

Next post will offer some marriage counseling advice centered on morning coffee. Now how could you miss that? Don’t forget to take the garlic and ice cream/gelato quizzes at the bottom of the page! And visit me at Twitter @good2tweat.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Traditional Christmas Dinner

I know. You wouldn’t think I would tie myself to the same thing every year. DH has no trouble with repetition. I’m the one who gets bored easily. (Hmm. That probably bodes well for the marriage on his side of things.) I’m also easily distracted, as you can tell. Bright and shiny objects draw my eye to another vista.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Traditional Christmas Dinner. You’d think I’d want variety, but this is one area where that is not the case. There’s something lovely about the tradition of serving the same meal every Christmas Day. And, let’s face it, it is only one day out of the year, so maybe the bored-with-repetition thing doesn’t come into play for that reason. Still, I tell myself that it is best for my sons, Brooklyn and Chicago, to have some traditions in their lives, yes? And now we have Brooklyn’s wife, London, in the mix.

But, truth to tell? It’s easier for me if I don’t have to think about it. I never spend hours planning the perfect holiday meal. It’s done, fini, terminado. The menu is in courses with a lemon sorbet “to cleanse the palate” served between courses. Ask if I get ridiculed by DH, Brooklyn, and Chicago for that one! Bless her heart, London is very supportive. Here’s the menu for today (and last year, and next year, and . . .):

First course: chicken broth with green onion, a hint of garlic, rosemary, and a dollop of sherry.

Second course: Prime Rib, Yorkshire pudding, gravy, mashed Yukon Gold potatoes (real lumpy—I like my potatoes to go down fighting), pears on lettuce leaves drizzled with cinnamon/pecan sauce, and peas and carrots.

Third course: I lied. I did change this course this year. We have always had Rum Cake for dessert. Apparently I was the only one who really liked it. DH would eat a small slice and then maybe one more before it hardened enough to build a house with. Brooklyn and Chicago eschewed it entirely. That’s not chewed. That is avoided.

So, in the interest of making a dessert they might eat, I am serving my chocolate cake with caramel/almond sour &cream cheese frosting. Yummy in the tummy!

Read my profile. I’m not much into measuring, but start with these measurements and use your Taste-o-Meter to adjust flavor to your taste.

Caramel-Almond Frosting

1 c cream cheese

½ c sour cream

1 T brown sugar

Jar store-bought caramel, divided

½ c slivered almonds, toasted

Whip together cream cheese, sour cream, brown sugar, and 4 T caramel. Use your taste-o-meter. Is it too tart for you? Add more caramel or brown sugar. Is it too sweet? Add more sour cream.

Bake your chocolate cake in two layers. Cool then de-pan. Place one layer on your serving plate. Spread half the frosting on the layer top (not the sides). Put second layer on top of the frosted layer. Spread the rest of the frosting on the top, not sides, of the cake. Artistically drizzle on more caramel topping. Sprinkle with toasted almond slivers.

I can guarantee there will be less of this cake left than my delicious and much-more-elegant Rum Cake.


Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tweet Me Well: @Good2Tweat

You may have met Alli Wesson, my personal chef character (from the “Dinner is Served” culinary mystery series I am writing) when she dropped by for an interview at my writing blog, She is quite a character, so to speak!

Anyway, Alli and I were talking about how we’re going to develop a marketing plan for the “Dinner is Served” books. One thing that occurred to me, and Alli just loved it, was to start a Twitter following of her recipes. That is such the hot thing these days among foodies. It makes such sense, too. She is virtual, so why not do virtual food?

So I set up a Twitter account. Follow me there @good2tweat. I promise some cooking tips, food facts, and recipes in miniature. Come to think of it, that may be one reason I am so taken with tweeting recipes: I make miniature room settings and dollhouses. This fits perfectly with my interests in other areas. Sometimes I will provide the more traditional version of the recipe here for those without Twitter and/or people who like their food prep spelled out.

That would not be my character, Alli, but her partner in crime, Gina likes things clear. So the recipes on this site will be for Gina.

I ordered Eat Tweet: 1,020 Recipe Gems (Maureen Evans), and I follow Maureen on Twitter. She is amazing! She was not only the first to tweet recipes, she does really unusual stuff, complicated recipes, even ethnic ones. And she does it in 140 characters or fewer. That includes spaces and punctuation by the way. To show you what I mean, here is a recipe from Alli that appears in Prime Rib and Punishment, the book I am currently writing:

Savory Butter: Pulse n mini fd proc .5cbutter/3T bell pep/1grn onion/1clv garlic.

Sprd bread or Portobello shrooms n grill. Srv 1T on cookd meat.

Gina’s version of Savory Butter would be:

½ c butter

3 T bell peppers, a mix or just one color

1 green onion

1 clove of garlic, minced

Pulse the butter, peppers, onion and garlic in a mini food processor until finely chopped. Use as a spread on bread to grill, spread over the gills of a Portobello mushroom and grill, or put 1 T on your cooked pork or steak before serving.

I’ve begun tweeting some recipes. Those of you who like word puzzles AND cooking can enjoy them! Look for me on Twitter now @good2tweat and you will find cooking tips, recipes, and food facts accumulating.

Whether you like to cook or not, you may have friends who do. Let them in on Twitter recipes. Build up my traffic for that Twitter account! Retweet me to all your friends.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


While fixing shrimp scampi at my friend Pattycake’s home one night, I searched the cupboards and counters to assemble everything I needed. Except for measurement utensils. I mean, really. Who can’t tell what a teaspoonful looks like in your palm?

So I melted butter, added minced and sliced garlic. I think I put some flour in to thicken it a bit. Then I finished it off with a bit of white wine. Some for me, some for the sauce.

I thought it was ready for the shrimp, but I knew my friend’s husband, Jimbo, wanted to check it out first.

I told Jimbo to use his taste-o-meter to try it. He gamely dipped in and slurped a spoonful.

“What does it need?” I asked.

His reply: “Not more garlic.”

So, I’m generous with garlic. Sue me! It’s a fabulous punctuation mark to foods. I have to agree however that being happily married makes it easier to use a lot of garlic. Dating gals and guys should probably wait until after the final paperwork for the marriage is signed before giving full reign to their inner garlic spirit.

Here in Arizona we even have a town named Garlic—well, Ajo, but that means garlic in Spanish. And have you tried garlic ice cream? Don’t gag. Open yourself to possibilities.

On a note that is not going to sound connected, but is, I just love those food quizzes and lists in magazines and online, don’t you? “What Kind of Spice Are You?” (I’m wild cinnamon) or “10 Ways to Serve Chicken You Never Thought of (Who knew you could make fried chicken ice cream???) I mean, really, who can resist these things? Love them!

To welcome you to my blog, I put together a little garlic quiz for you. I put the answers in a comment at the bottom, so you can check yourself.

Garlic, the food of lovers, vampire repellent, tuberculosis and broken bone cure, giver of strength and courage, and a recently-touted health food! Through the centuries, garlic has been lauded for magical properties. Garlic, the bane of dating teens and the friend of flea-infested dogs! Garlic, the lowly bulb that elevates food to a sensual experience!

Amazingly, for as common as garlic is, many cooks are not sure what it is or what to do with it beyond dicing it into the spaghetti sauce. Take the quiz and find out what you know.

1) Garlic is . . .

a) an herb.

b) a member of the onion family.

c) a member of the lily family.

2) Garlic powder is . . .

a) more healthful than fresh.

b) easy to make on your own.

c) anathema to real cooks.

3) Garlic releases its strongest flavors when . . .

a) kept whole.

b) sliced.

c) minced.

4) Garlic was first used in cooking in . . .

a) Italy.

b) France.

c) antiquity.

5) Other than in cooking, garlic has been used as . . .

a) perfume.

b) an aphrodisiac.

c) medicine.

6) Garlic is sold in . . .

a) cloves.

b) heads.

c) cubes.

Next time, I’ll share my garlicky shrimp scampi recipe with you. Yummers!

Can’t get enough? Check out more recipes, food facts, and cooking tips by following me on Twitter