Archive | February, 2010

Recall of Health Valley Bars announced

23 Feb

The Georgia Agricultural Board announced a recall of several varieties of Health Valley Organic granola bars for possible salmonella contamination.

According to the Atlantic Journal-Constitution (http://www.ajc.com/news), Health Valley Organic Wildberry Chewy, Peanut Crunch and Dutch Apple bars may have possible salmonella exposure from soy grits used in the bars.

No press release has been issued by the makers of the bars at this time.

For SKU and Lot numbers go here

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Easy-Bake Oven creator dies

23 Feb

This is a sad day for me because the inventor of the Easy- Bake oven has passed away at the age of 83.  Ronald Howes, a defense contractor invented the popular toy when he tried to come up with a safe version of  the chestnut roasters found on New York streets.  This man was instrumental in shaping the curiosities of many a future chef, including me.  You weren’t a proper young lady if you didn’t have one of these along with your play kitchen set, Barbie dolls

and your real china tea set (from China).  Our EBO looked like the one on the left, and I became jealous when models after this one resembled the real oven models that were popular at that time. I remember having problems baking with the oven. It didn’t quite cook evenly and I remember the cake mix that came with the set not being as good as the ones my mom made, so my sister and I improvised and asked my mom to save some cake batter for us when she made her next cake.

Things turned out better the next few times, and we got used to using the oven. Then my mom started letting me bake with her and I lost interest in the oven. My sister kept it for a while after that, and when my mom included my sister in our baking time, she too lost interest in the oven. I think we gave the oven to a younger cousin, but I never forgot the feeling I got when I made my very first Easy-Bake Oven cake. I was on top of the world.

Thank you, Mr. Howes for planting the seed in me.

Rest in Peace.

Rigatoni with Chard, Tomatoes and Garlic

22 Feb

Last week, I ventured out and went to the store for the first time in weeks and bought some chard with the intention of posting it for the blog. Then this great lady beat me to the punch.  If you haven’t stopped by the blog Dianne’s Dishes, you should.  She puts up recipes for everything from soup to nuts five days a week, and does a great job of doing so.  I ribbed her about it, then I tried her recipe with one half of the chard ( which was quite dee-lish), and sat on the other half and pondered what I would do with the other half. This is what I came up with.

For those who aren’t familiar with chard, it is a leafy vegetable that comes in several varieties. When eaten young, ti can be used raw in salads.  Mature chard can be sauteed, roasted or used in sauces or soups. When cooked, its texture is a bit heartier than spinach, and is slightly more assertive in flavor.

Rigatoni with Swiss Chard, Tomatoes and Garlic (serves two to four)

1 bunch of fresh chard ( 1 to  1½ lbs)

2 tbl. olive oil

½ c. chopped onions

1 tbl. chopped garlic

1 ½ c. chopped tomatoes

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

8 oz. dried rigatoni or other similar pasta

2 tbl. Parmesan cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste

red pepper flakes (optional)

Prepare chard by cutting off the last inch or inch and a half off the ends of the stems.

Chop chard into bite-sized pieces and float in a tub of water to wash off any sand and grit.

Drain chard in colander until ready to saute.

Cook rigatoni in boiling salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes, drain and set aside. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until tender and fragrant, being careful not to brown. Add tomatoes and saute for three minutes, then add chard to pan. Toss chard with the tomato mixture and add stock.

Cook chard until wilted and leaves are tender, about seven or eight minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Toss rigatoni into chard mixture and serve immediately with Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.

Thia makes a  quick and elegant light supper, and healthy to boot!

Potato and Bacon Soup

11 Feb

When it’s like this outside:

You should have this on the inside:

It has been snowing here now for two days; and five days before that, it snowed for two days. We have on the ground here in Baltimore a grand total of 65 inches, give or take a few inches.   So with that said, let’s make some soup.

Creamy Potato and Bacon Soup

3 slices bacon

2 tbl. olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 stalks of celery, diced

2 tbl. chopped fresh garlic

3 tbl. all-purpose flour

6 cups chicken stock or broth

4 medium russet potatoes peeled and diced ( 4 cups)

1 bay leaf

1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 cup heavy cream ( optional)

2 tbl. chopped fresh parsley

salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium heat, heat up olive oil and add bacon to pan. In a seperate pot, warm up the chicken stock to simmer.  saute bacon in olive oil and allow bacon to get crispy.

Remove bacon from pan and add onions, celery and garlic and saute until soft, being careful not to brown.

Add flour to pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly until flour mixture is tan ( blond) in color. Do not brown.

Add stock , potatoes,bay leaf, thyme to pot and simmer. Skim off any foam that appears on the surface.

While soup is simmering, chop the bacon. When the soup has finished  simmering and potatoes are tender ( 30-45 minutes), take a potato masher and mash the potatoes in soup pot to thicken soup and provide a rustic texture.

Remove thyme sprig and bay leaf,  add bacon, chopped parsley and cream. Stir into soup and serve immediately with a slice of crusty bread.

Enjoy!

Kaiser Snowze or the Blizzard of 2010

7 Feb

Well, here is a taste of what we are dealing with in the Northeast ( Baltimore to be exact).

Now, I’m going to chill, maybe make something good and wait for the game!

A special thanks goes to http://thescottishgypsy.com for the great name for the storm! ( Go Saints!)

CC

Blizzard Provisions

4 Feb

I was supposed to have friends over for dinner on Saturday, but we are in for another 12 inches of snow.

Oh well ( hic)!!

Risotto 101

3 Feb

Hey Kids!

Ye olde Culinary Chick is having guests over this weekend, barring any shenanigans from the weather this weekend.

On the menu are braised lamb shanks with dried cherry and rosemary demi-glace,  saffron risotto and roasted broccoli.   One of my guests, a childhood friend, loves potatoes and I serve them every time she comes over. However, this time I wanted to make something a bit different and dust off some of the skills I acquired over the years. One of them was how to make risotto. And believe it or not, you can too. If you follow my directions, you will have a great side dish to dazzle your friends with.

Risotto is an Italian dish made with arborio rice, a short grain rice prized for its al dente  texture and creaminess when cooked.  The version we will cook is Risotto ala Milanese. C’mon, its easy!

You will need the following equipment:

heavy-bottomed pan ( cast iron or aluminum [plain or anodized])

a wooden spoon

a ladle

1 – 2 qt. saucepan

Risotto Milanese (serves one as a main dish or two as a side dish)

2 tbl.  olive oil

1/2 c. arborio rice

1/3 c. diced onions

2 c. chicken stock or broth

pinch of saffron*

2 tb. parmesan cheese

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1-2 tbl. butter

1 tbl. chopped fresh parsley

In a 1 – 2 quart saucepan, bring chicken stock and saffron to a simmer. Keep warm.  Heat olive oil over medium heat in heavy-bottomed pan and add onions and saute until clear and soft ( do not brown)

Add rice and saute, making sure all rice grains are coated and center of rice is visible.

Add one ladle of  hot stock to the pan with the rice and onions and stir with wooden spoon until all of the liquid is absorbed.

After all of the liquid is absorbed from the first ladle of stock, add another ladle of stock and stir again with the wooden spoon until absorbed. Repeat these steps until you have used all of the stock and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

By this time your rice will have doubled in size and you should see a  small amount of thickened stock in bottom of pan.

Add butter and stir until incorporated. Add parmesan cheese and pepper. If needed add a scant amount of salt ( taste first).

Add parsley and serve with a side salad as a main dish or as a side dish with seafood or meat.

A note: Saffron can be found in specialty stores and can be pricey. If you do not have saffron, you can still enjoy this dish without it. The addition of some fresh chopped herbs  or seasonings that will compliment your main dish will suffice such as  lemon zest, chopped chives, tarragon or roasted garlic puree  as an example will add flavor and color to your risotto. And, if you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can make this using vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock and omitting the butter and cheese.

Yum.