Welcome to Food thoughts....

I created this blog to help friends find fun in cooking by sharing tasty recipes, cooking techniques and answering questions. I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, June 24, 2011

It's that time of year again. Time for Strawberry Shortcake!!!!!

It's the start of summer, local berries are coming on and I'm so excited!  I love strawberry shortcake.  I mean real shortcake, not angel food cake or yellow cake or sponge cake or even regular biscuits but real home-made shortcake!  That combination of lightly sweet and cakey biscuit that you just don't find anywhere but in someones home.  So here's a recipe that I've been making for a long time.  Not that I make it very often mind you but I thought I'd share.  Hope you enjoy!

Makes 9 servings

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1  cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

For shortcake:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  
2. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium size bowl or in your electric mixer bowl.  Give it a stir to combine or using your paddle attachment, mix for about 30 seconds on low.
3.Add butter and cut in until it resembles coarse crumbs.
4.  Add milk and vanilla, stirring as you add.  Dough should be soft and slightly sticky. 
5. Use 1/3 cup measure or ice cream scoop to portion out approximately 9 drop-style biscuits onto un-greased baking sheet.  Pat the tops down lightly to level out a bit.  They'll double in height when baking.
6.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
7.  Allow to cool then split and top with berries, sweetened whipped cream and top half of shortcake.

Berry topping:
3 pints strawberries, cleaned and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar*

Toss together in a small bowl, berries, sugar and vinegar and allow to macerate.
*Yes, I know you think I'm crazy but add the balsamic.  It brings out the flavor of the berries and gives them and the sugar syrup a gorgeous ruby red color.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower.......such an underrated vegetable.  It has come to pass in our household that it is much tastier than previously thought......by my wife I mean.  Kelly won't eat it raw and I'm not a fan of plain steamed cauliflower.  So here's a great alternative.....roasting.  It mellows the flavor and makes it a little sweeter with a touch of caramelization.   Ooooh, so good!!!! 

Roasted Cauliflower

1 large head cauliflower trimmed and cut or broken into bite-sized florets
2 T. olive oil
1 t. Montreal Steak Seasoning (it's got salt, pepper, garlic and some other tasty seasonings)
1 1/2 T. lemon juice
1/4 c. shredded fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large bowl, toss cauliflower with the olive oil, steak seasoning and lemon juice.
Spread the mixture out on a lightly oiled sheet pan or baking dish.
Sprinkle with the Parmesan.
Roast for 15 minutes, then give it a stir.
Roast for another 15 minutes or until tender and slightly caramelized in places.
Serve hot. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lemon Curd, that elusive and divinely decadent stuff that dreams are made of.

Lemon curd, that tasty sweet-tart & creamy confection that you find in high end specialty shops and elegant sweets and treats.  A little known secret, it's  not difficult to make at home and it doesn't have to cost a fortune!  I found this recipe on Food Network and thanks to Ina Garten I was able to make an amazing lemon cake for Kelly's birthday.  I had leftover curd and it was so good, I was eating it by the spoonful and spreading it on blueberry bagels and toast, whatever I could find.  I hope that you give it a chance and try it.  If you're a lemon lover you're sure to love this.  Enjoy!

Lemon Curd

1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, All Rights Reserved

  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Inactive Prep Time: --
  • Cook Time: 10 min
  • Level: Easy
  • Serves: 3 cups


    • 3 lemons
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 4 extra-large eggs
    • 1/2 cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
    • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt


    Using a carrot peeler, remove the zest of 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.
    Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.
    Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    Fast and Easy dinner tonight

    Just thought I'd share with you the fast and fabulous dinner I made tonight.  Took little effort and came together within less than 30 minutes.

    Lemon pepper Angel Hair pasta with shrimp and artichoke hearts

    1- 1 lb. package Angel hair pasta
    1 - 1 lb. package,frozen cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp, tails off
    2 packages frozen artichoke hearts
    3/4 cup butter
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1/2 tbs. granulated garlic
    1/4 cup Lemon Pepper

    1. Boil pasta according to package directions.
    2. When pasta is done, add the shrimp and artichoke hearts to pasta water and pasta.  Stir and allow to thaw the shrimp and artichokes
    3.Drain pasta, shrimp and artichoke hearts.  Meanwhile, add butter and olive oil to pot. 
    4. Add drained pasta mixture and toss to coat. 
    5. Serve immediately.

    Simple, easy and delicious.  Hope you enjoy!

    Sunday, May 23, 2010

    Keeping it fresh with dried herbs and spices.

    Okay I know that just about everyone out there has herbs and spices in their cupboard that they have no idea how long they've been there.  And every time you open that cupboard or drawer you ask yourself "How long have I had this, and is it still good?" 
         Here's the low down for you.  Whole spices are good for up to 3 or 4 years.  These are things like nutmeg, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom pods, star anise, etc.  Ground spices don't really go bad, and neither do dried herbs.  However, they both lose potency after a while.  You have about 2 - 3 years for ground spices and about 1 - 3 years for dried herbs.  This doesn't mean they're bad, they just might not have as much flavor as something that hasn't sat around in your cupboard for as long.  There are a couple ways you can test them.  First take a look at the colors.  Chances are if they are still vibrant they're probably still pretty good.  If they've lost color, they've probably lost flavor too.  You can also test them by taking out a pinch and rubbing them between your thumb and forefinger.  If they are still nice and fragrant, they're still good.  When the aroma is weak or flat it's best to toss them and start fresh.
         As for your bottles of extracts, they tend to fade after about 4 years.  All except PURE vanilla which lasts indefinitely.
    Please, please please do not store your herbs and spices on the back of the stove, close to the sink or the dishwasher, in the cupboard above the stove, or near a window.  Keep them away from heat, moisture and direct sunlight.  This affects their quality, viability, color and flavor.  And can cause ground items to clump or become hard blocks due to moisture or steam.
         Store your herbs and spices tightly sealed in a dark cupboard, the pantry or in drawers that are dark and cool to help maintain their quality.  They'll thank you for it and stay better for you longer!!!
         One more thing, don't sprinkle herbs or spices directly from the bottle over steaming/simmering pots, this can cause moisture to enter the container and degrade the product or cause caking and or clumping.   Remove what you need from the bottle or container into another measure, cup or bowl then add to your food.  This will help you keep your herbs and spices in the best shape.  And when using measuring spoons, be sure they're completely dry before dipping into your tins or jars too.  You don't want to introduce moisture that way either!

    I hope this helps!  Enjoy and happy cooking!

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    Steak Broiling 102, Timing and doneness

    So here's a chart to give you a hand with times and doneness for your steaks.  I give all the credit for these charts to the Easy Steak Marinades website.  I like how they've laid it all out so I thought I'd pass it on.  They've got some good stuff too.  Check them out at www.easysteakmarinades.net

    Steak Broiling Times

    Broiling is best for medium thick cuts of steak so it is best to use steak that is less than an inch and a quarter thick, else the outside will burn before the inside has warmed through. If the broiler keeps turning itself off because the oven has reached "the right temperature" you can prop open the oven door slightly so the broiler stays on.
    Your broiler needs to be set to the highest setting. Make sure the broiler and broiler rack are both hot before you start cooking and have the rack three inches from the heat.

    ¾" Thick Broiled Steak
    Steak Cooking Charts Three Quarter Inch Thick Broiled Steak
    1" Thick Broiled Steak
    Steak Cooking Charts One Inch Thick Broiled Steak
    1¼" Thick Broiled Steak
    Steak Cooking Charts One and a Quarter Inch Thick Broiled Steak
    1 ½" Thick Broiled Steak
    Steak Cooking Charts One and a half Inch Thick Broiled Steak
    1 ¾" Thick Broiled Steak
    Steak Cooking Charts One and Three Quarter Inch Thick Broiled 

    Broiling Steaks 101

    I had a friend ask me the proper method of broiling steaks.  She mentioned that her husband always turns them into shoe leather.  Now that can't be very tasty!  So here's the right way for a tasty, tender and juicy steak.

    1. Prepare your steaks and preheat your broiler. 
      First, prepare your steaks.  All meats cook better, more evenly and easier if they've been allowed to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.   A good steak according to any purist really only needs 3 things for seasoning, a small amount of vegetable oil rubbed over the entire surface of the steak (keeps them from sticking to the grill-pan, allows seasonings to adhere to the meat and helps promote that ever so tasty caramelization we crave), kosher salt and cracked black pepper.  You may season accordingly or as you like, then allow your steak to rest while your broiler heats.  Preheat your broiler on high, let it get screaming hot!

    2. Broil the steak.
    Once the broiler has achieved maximum heat, place the steaks on the broiling pan and place in oven. The cooking time for the first side is going to depend on a three major things: how thick your broiling pan is, how thick your meat is, and what type of oven you have. A gas range will get hotter than an electric range, it's just how they're made.   Also, it depends on how well-done you like your meat. Personally, I believe anything past medium-rare or medium is a waste of good meat but if you can't stomach a little blood or pink in your meat, you will need to cook yours a little longer than the rest of us.  ***I'll post a chart in my next blog on cuts, weights and timing for meats from the Iowa Beef Council.  

     3. Don't forget to flip your steak half way through cooking time.  

    4. Time to eat.....ALMOST.
    So your steak is done, it's sitting there on your broiling pan and you're salivating over the smell.  But wait!!!!!  You need to let your steaks rest for at least 5 minutes.  This gives the meat time to redistribute all the juices so they don't just gush out when you cut into it.  This ensures it will stay juicy (provided you didn't cook it well done) and all that flavor will stay in your steak, not on your plate!  You can cover it with foil to help retain heat.
    5. Now you can eat!  Enjoy