Some menu ideas and cooking tips.

A Baylindo New Year 2014

Ring in 2014 with this easy communal dish.  The classic cheese fondue comprises Gruyere and Emmentaler.  If all you can find are cheddar and Swiss cheese, you’ll simply make a fondue with a non-Swiss accent.  Never let not having the exact ingredients stop you from trying a recipe.  Just know that the end result may taste a little different.

  • Traditional Swiss cheese fondue (“Let’s Dish,” Live Well Network)
  • Sweet and spicy chocolate fondue (“Good Cookin’ With Bruce Aidells” [Jon Ashton], Live Well Network)
  • Hot chocolate soup bar (“Let’s Dish,” Live Well Network)

If you’d rather make a sweet fondue, try one of the other recipes.

After Christmas Menu

It’s time to relax again after a big holiday.  The first sausage gravy recipe below is one of the simplest we’ve seen.  If you don’t feel like making biscuits, which are fairly easy to make, you can serve your gravy over rice, grits, or your favorite store bread.

  • Sausage gravy and biscuits (“The Chew” [Kirstie Alley], ABC)
  • Sausage gravy (“Let’s Dish,” Live Well Network)
  • Vegetable gravy (“Steven and Chris” [Jo Lusted], Live Well Network)
  • Buttermilk biscuits (“Let’s Dish,” Live Well Network)
  • Buttermilk biscuits (“Best Recipes Ever,” Live Well Network)
  • Pull-apart drop biscuits (“Best Recipes Ever” Live Well Network)
  • Cat head biscuits (“Cook’s Country,” PBS)
  • Cherry clafouti (“Martha Bakes,” PBS)

Clafouti (or clafoutis) is baked custard with fruit.  Even during cherry season, you’ll need a cherry pitter for this recipe (although in France they leave the pit in).  So why not use fresh cranberries that are everywhere this time of the year?  Since they are not sweet like cherries, you should sprinkle four tablespoons of sugar on top of the tart during the last 15 to 30 minutes.  Don’t use a quiche/tart pan as they did on the show.  Use a two-inch tall cake pan or springform pan to stop the custard from spilling over.

A Baylindo Christmas 2013

Continuing our theme of putting a twist on traditional recipes, we have put together this menu for your consideration.  We’ve never understood why some people insist on serving turkey for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  And if you’re tired of the same pre-cooked ham for Christmas, well, give ossobuco a try.  This Italian dish is traditionally made with veal shank, which is expensive and not readily available.  But you can easily replace with bone-in pork shoulder (a.k.a. pork butt).  Just trim off some of the excess fat from the fat cap and then follow the same recipe for veal shank.  Make sure your braising liquid is no more than halfway up the meat (fat side up).

  • Osso bucco (“Let’s Dish,” Live Well Network)
  • Osso buco with pine nut gremolata (“The Chew” [Mario Batali], ABC)

There are many ossobuco recipes on the Net; we like the one from “Let’s Dish” because it uses canned diced tomatoes (petite diced works fine).  You know your braised pork is nice and tender when its internal temperature reaches 190 F.  If you use a four-pound pork shoulder, it will be comfortably above that temperature after 90 minutes in the oven.  We suggest you get in there every 30 minutes with a wooden spatula and try to loosen anything stuck to the bottom of the pot.  This will make cleanup a little easier later.  If the meat is not literally falling off the bone when it hits 190 F, braise it uncovered a little while longer.  Oxtail will probably work just as well as a substitute, but it’s as hard to find as veal shank.

Ossobuco is usually served with risotto or polenta.  You can also serve it with two to three cups of orzo, the pasta shaped like melon seeds.  Instead of cooking the orzo separately (anything is easier to make than risotto), you can do it in the same braising liquid after the meat is cooked.  This way you cook/flavor the pasta and thicken the sauce at the same time.  You should reserve two cups of the sauce first (to serve as gravy for the meat) before you add the orzo (in case the pasta completely absorbs the sauce).

When you cook orzo this way, some of it will get stuck to the bottom of the pot and end up resembling the crusty rice loved by many in Iran and other parts of Asia.  You can scrape it off and enjoy these “rice crispies” or add some water or milk to turn it into porridge.  If you have barley in the pantry, you can certainly serve ossobuco with it.

  •  Root vegetable bake (“The Chew” [Nancy Fuller Ginsberg], ABC)

This dish is made for root vegetable lovers; the cheesy sauce should appeal to everyone else.  You can get creative with the sausage (or skip it altogether) and consider other options like chicken sausage, duck liver sausage, or chorizo (Spanish or Mexican).

If you want to do something with the remaining canned pumpkin in your pantry, try this appetizer.

  • Pumpkin corn fritters (“The Chew” [Daphne Oz], ABC)

There’s no need to deep-fry them because they will puff up nicely if you bake them in the oven.  For ease of portioning the batter, bake them in a 12-cup muffin pan.  Self-rising flour is just flour with added baking powder and salt.  A drizzle of plain honey makes the whole thing come together.

We’re always on the lookout for unusual dessert recipes.  These two cakes definitely fit the bill.  The half flan/half chocolate cake concoction is popular in Mexico for good reasons.  When you make it in a Bundt pan, it’s a showstopper when you present it to your guests.  Caramel sauce that comes in a bottle or jar probably has the right consistency for this; canned cajeta may be too thick even after it’s microwaved.  What do you do with leftover caramel sauce?  Spread it on bread as you would Nutella.  Although this recipe calls for a 12-cup capacity Bundt pan, you might want to use one that can hold up to 14.5 cups.  If you can find chestnut flour, you should try the castagnaccio recipe.

  • Magic chocolate flan cake (“Cook’s Country,” PBS)
  • Impossible chocoflan (“Pati’s Mexican Table,” PBS)
  • Castagnaccio (“The Chew” [Mario Batali], ABC)

Edible Christmas Gifts

Nothing beats an edible, homemade present.  You can buy these things, of course, but these recipes look doable for the home cook.

  • Chocolate truffles (“America’s Test Kitchen,” PBS)
  • Chocolate truffle trio (“Jazzy Vegetarian,” PBS)
  • Cashew brittle with sea salt (“Food Rush,” Live Well Network)
  • Holiday toffee (“The Chew” [Clinton Kelly], ABC)
  • Coffee sugar and spice nuts (“Best Recipes Ever,” Live Well Network)

After Thanksgiving Menu 

If you want to take it easy the weekend after Thanksgiving—maybe your guests are still there—try these two one-pot dishes.

  • Vegetable tian (“Martha Stewart’s Cooking School,” PBS)
  • Braised sauerkraut and cabbage (“Good Cookin’ With Bruce Aidells” Live Well Network)

Tian is a Provencal dish named after the earthenware used in France; you can use any casserole or gratin baking dish.  The vegetable version is simple and delicious.  Softer vegetables like zucchini and eggplant work best.  If you do use root vegetables such as parsnip and beets, cut thinner slices.  You can pretty much experiment with anything that’s in season.  For a touch of sweetness, throw in a handful of grapes at the start.  If you want to jazz it up a little bit, try adding goat cheese or a melting cheese like mozzarella or Oaxaca during the last 10 minutes.  We like to think of this dish as French soul food.

The combination of fresh cabbage and jarred sauerkraut is an ingenious way to get that long-braised taste.  If you use green cabbage, no one will be able to tell what’s fresh and what’s pre-made.  If you don’t have bacon, use something that’s already in your pantry (say, SPAM).  Whatever meat you use, remove it after browning and return it at the end.  Try adding currants, raisins, or dried cranberries during the braising process.  Be sure to taste the final result and adjust seasoning.  If it’s a little bitter (because of the beer), add sugar or honey.  Lime juice can also brighten up the whole dish.

A Baylindo Thanksgiving 2013 

It’s that time of the year again.  Whether you live in America or not, let’s try these dishes together.  With so many recipes available on-line, one wonders if cookbook sales are down.  Anyway, we recommend these variations on traditional dishes.

Cooking a whole turkey can be tricky for some; it’s much easier to cook turkey parts or just the breast.

  • America’s Test Kitchen’s braised turkey (“The Chew,” ABC)
  • Roast turkey breast with apple cider gravy ("Let's Dish," Live Well Network)
  • Roasted turkey breast (“The Chew” [Curtis Stone], ABC)

If you want to make something completely unexpected, go Indian—no, not American Indian—and try saag paneer.  Making cheese is a lot easier than you think (or you can always buy paneer).  Don’t pour the whey down the drain; you can use it in anything that calls for chicken stock or water (including this very dish).  For those who don’t like their food too spicy, skip the jalapeno and this dish will still taste great.

  • Indian-style spinach with fresh cheese (“America’s Test Kitchen,” PBS)

Sweet potato is something we should eat year-round.  Instead of making a traditional tarte tatin with fruit, use sweet potato.

  • Sweet potato gratin with Gruyere and bacon (“Let’s Dish,” Live Well Network)
  • Sweet potato tarte tatin (“The Chew” [Carla Hall], ABC)

Speaking of desserts…let’s try a pecan pie with a little bit of pumpkin in it (the addition of vinegar ensures this pie will not be too sweet) or a pumpkin tart with a shortbread crust.

  • Pumpkin pecan pie (“The Chew” [Carla Hall], ABC)
  • Shortbread pumpkin tart (“Martha Bakes,” PBS)

A Baylindo Super Bowl 2013

You should be able to find these recipes on the Internet. 

  • Bubbling cheese dip ("Best Recipes Ever," Live Well Network)
  • Crispy tortilla chips ("Best Recipes Ever," Live Well Network)

If you can find wings, bake them...

  • Parmesan mustard wings ("Best Recipes Ever," Live Well Network)
  • Crunchy devilish wings ("Best Recipes Ever," Live Well Network)
  • Sweet and spicy baked wings ("The Chew" [Daphne Oz], ABC)

Or grill them...

  • Grilled chicken wings ("Cook's Country," PBS)

Or deep-fry them...

  • Deep-fried honey glazed wings ("The Chew" [Mario Batali], ABC)

 

  • Butterscotch crunch bars ("Best Recipes Ever," Live Well Network)
  • Chocolate-caremel nachos ("The Chew" [Carla Hall], ABC)

Note that overcooking chicken wings to 180 F produces really tender meat as collagen begins to melt.

A Baylindo Christmas 2012

In these trying times, cooking for your family is really a blessing.  So let's try these dishes together.  You should be able to find the recipes on the Internet.

  • Chuck roast in foil ("Cook's Country," PBS)
  • Stroganoff toss ("Best Recipes Ever," Live Well Network) [1]
  • Slow-roasted pork shoulder with peach sauce ("America's Test Kitchen," PBS)
  • Sangria ham ("The Chew" [Love Malone], ABC)
  • Apple dried fruit sage stuffing ("Let's Dish," Live Well Network) [2]
  • Bacon apple stuffing with chestnuts ("Steven and Chris" [Kary Osmond], Live Well Network)
  • Roasted celery root ("The Chew" [Michael Symon], ABC) [3]
  • Whipped sweet potatoes with marshmallow crust (Safeway) [4]
  • Popovers ("Cook's Country," PBS) [5]
  • Popovers ("Baking With Julia" [Marion Cunningham], PBS)
  • Apple cranberry cobbler ("The Chew" [Clinton Kelly], ABC) [6]

[1] It takes about 20 ounces of egg noodles to make eight cups for this recipe.  If you find a 16-to-22-oz package, use the whole thing.  Since this recipe recommends that you brown the ground beef before adding the mushrooms, onions, garlic, and paprika, you need to season it with salt and pepper and some dried thyme.  In order to to boost its beefy flavor, try adding something like soy sauce, anchovies, or tomato paste--the usual suspects.

[2] To make sure your bread cubes are completely dry before using in stuffing, pudding, or salad, bake in a pre-heated oven first in a single layer on a baking sheet:

  • 450 F for 12 minutes
  • 400 F for 15-20 minutes
  • 325 F for 10-15 minutes
  • 250 F for 1 hour
  • 225 F for 40 minutes

As you can see from these instructions culled from actual recipes, you can basically oven-dry your bread at any temperature.  So pick one that matches the baking temperature for your recipe.  Just keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn't get over-toasted.  If you use quality white bread (for example, Arnold/Oroweat Country White Bread), 12 to 15 slices should suffice, and you can cut the number of apples down to three or four.  Dried cranberries or raisins work just as well as dried cherries.

[3] There are other wonderful root vegetables besides potatoes and carrots.  If you want to kill two birds with one stone, try adding parsnips to this celery root recipe.  It takes at least one hour to roast root vegetables until they are fork tender.  Note that there's no printed recipe for this--just watch the video.

[4] Unless you absolutely love marshmallow, you might want to skip the marshmallow crust and top with walnuts or pecans instead.  Try increasing the amount of sweet potatoes (four or five pounds) and decreasing the amount of milk (one cup).  For a richer taste, use whole milk and maybe some heavy cream.  Indeed, you might want to forget about the milk altogether.

[5] Either one of these versions is fine.  The first one is a little more substantial.  A popover pan works best.  Make sure to fill each cup no more than two-thirds way up.  If you use a 12-cup muffin pan, fill every other cup (your popovers won't get a spectacular rise in this case).

[6] Depending on the size of your apples, you need five to 10 to make six cups of fruit.  Use the lower temperature specified in the printed recipe.  Whatever baking dish you choose, make sure it's at least two inches tall.  Even then the butter will bubble over, so make sure to place your dish on top of a foil-lined baking sheet.  To prevent the crust from browning too much, cover your dish loosely with foil from the start.  You can use six instead of eight tablespoons of butter per video.

A Baylindo Thanksgiving 2012

Not sure what to cook for Thanksgiving?  Well, let's try these dishes together.  You should be able to find the recipes on the Internet.

  • Delmonico potatoes ("Cook's Country," PBS) [1]
  • Cranberry cabbage ("Best Recipes Ever," Live Well Network) [2]
  • Cat head biscuits ("Cook's Country," PBS) [3]
  • Pumpkin cheesecake ("Let's Dish," Live Well Network) [4]
  • Horlicks [5]

[1] If you don't have heavy cream, you can use milk instead (or a combination of the two).

[2] You can add sausage to this recipe.

[3] To make herbed biscuits, add two or more tablespoons of chopped herb of your choice to the dry ingredients.  Try chives or garlic chives.

[4] Use vanilla wafers if you don't have Graham crackers or gingersnap cookies.  You can try brandy or vanilla extract instead of bourbon.

[5] Mentioned twice in BBC's "Call the Midwife," this iconic malted milk product was invented in Chicago.  Look for it in stores that specialize in foods from the U.K., China, and India.

We've watched all these dishes on TV and they seem doable.

 

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