Today I’m going to digress from my typical food posts to share another recipe that my family uses quite a bit, especially during the summer. It’s a recipe for giant bubbles.
One of my sons loves to create things, so he built himself a giant bubble wand using dowels, rope and a weight. When we mixed up the bubble recipe, he was able to consistently make bubbles like you see in the photo above. That bubble was made last summer. They’re regularly, really huge.
This is a great outdoor project for kids. If they’re old enough, they can make the bubble mixture themselves. If they like to build things, they can create a giant bubble wand. If they want a quick and easy way to make giant bubbles, they can use some string and a couple of plastic straws. The directions for that can be found here. If you don’t happen to have glycerin around, you can usually find it at your local drug store, or you can order it from Amazon.
This is one of those recipes that has to sit for a while, so please plan ahead. Ideally the mixture should sit for at least an hour or more before you use it.
When the weather is warm, there are always guys in Central Park making these giant bubbles and looking for tips and it looks like they make a pretty penny. When the boys are a little bigger, maybe we’ll send them out to busk in the park so they can earn their keep.
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6 cups water
1/2 cup Dawn Dish Washing Liquid (ideally, original blue)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 Tablespoon baking powder (NOT baking soda)
1 Tablespoon glycerin
Mix all of the ingredients in a large dishpan. When you’re mixing the ingredients, try not to make too many bubbles, although you’ll need to make some in order to make sure the cornstarch dissolves. Let the mixture sit for 1-3 hours.
After the mixture has had a chance to sit, go out and have fun making giant bubbles!
Yield: Lots of giant bubbles!
Two years ago: Ranch Oyster Crackers
Three years ago: Shrimp Stew with Coconut Milk, Tomatoes and Cilantro
Four years ago: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Five years ago: Five-Treasure Fried Rice
Six years ago: Cream Biscuits
Seven years ago: Cinnamon Muffins
I have made a number of different apple crisps over the years, and this is by far my favorite. It’s simple, with no funny additions like Ina Garten’s lemon and orange zest or Al Roker’s Chinese 5-spice powder. It’s basically apples with cinnamon, sugar, nuts and butter. So simple, yet so delicious.
I don’t think you can serve a more perfect fall dessert than a warm apple crisp topped with vanilla ice cream. This dessert cooks for a long time, so your home will smell wonderful as it bakes.
If you’re wondering what the difference between an apple crisp and an apple crumble is, there isn’t much difference. Both refer to a baked apple dessert with a streusel topping. Here in the US, we tend to call them apple crisps. In the UK, they tend to call them apple crumbles. An apple cobbler is different; it has a biscuit top.
Jens, my college buddy, was visiting NYC when I made this apple crisp. He peeled the apples as only an engineer could. I have to say, it was very efficient. The next time I made this dessert, my son couldn’t wait to peel the apples. He has never before shown much interest in cooking with me, but with the addition of a power tool, he was all over it.
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Recipe from FineCooking.com
For the filling:
2-1/2 lb. apples (about 6 medium), peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced to yield about 6 cups
2 to 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
For the crisp topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (I like pecans)
4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
Heat the oven to 350°F.
To make the filling:
In a 9-inch pie pan that’s 2 inches deep (or a similar baking pan), toss the apples with the sugar to taste, cinnamon, and flour.
To make the topping:
In a medium bowl, mix together all the topping ingredients with your fingers or a pastry cutter until small pebbly pieces of butter are distributed throughout the mixture. Sprinkle the entire mixture over the apples. Bake until the topping is golden and the fruit is bubbling and tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes for a large crisp and 1 hour for individual crisps. Cool slightly before serving.
Yield: 6 servings
Two years ago: Lemonade Cake
Three years ago: Creamy Broccoli and Cheddar Soup
Four years ago: French Silk Pie
Five years ago: Beef, Cheddar and Potato Pie
Six years ago: Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding
Seven years ago: Another Delicious Blueberry Muffin
Looking for a new way to cook fish that won’t make your home smell too much like fish? I love fish, especially pan-fried fish, but I hate the smell that lingers afterwards. This might not be an issue if you live in a house, but I live in an apartment, and if I pan fry fish, the smell can last for DAYS. When I made this, I didn’t notice a lingering fish smell at all, which was great.
I really liked the Caesar dressing on the flounder, especially when it became crusty under the broiler. It was full of flavor. This is a quick, easy meal that’s easy enough for a weeknight dinner, yet elegant enough for company. You can have this on the table in no more than 20 minutes. That’s my kind of recipe.
I recently read that if you have lingering food smells in your house, you can get rid of them by boiling white vinegar on the stove. I’ve tried it a couple of times and it works like a charm. The only problem is that for a little while there’s a terrible, pungent vinegar smell that permeates everything, but that doesn’t last too long, and when it goes all of the food smells go with it.
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Broiled Flounder with Parmesan “Caesar” Glaze
Recipe from Fine Cooking
8 skinless flounder fillets, 4 to 5 oz. each
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup good-quality mayonnaise
1-1/2 oz. (1/2 cup) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, grated on the small holes of a box grater
1-1/2 Tablespoons loosely packed finely grated lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Position a rack 4 inches from the heat element and heat the broiler on high. Lightly season both sides of the fillets with salt and pepper. Set a fillet before you, skinned side up, and starting at the narrow end, roll up the fillet. Repeat with the remaining fillets.
Spray a broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange the flounder rolls, seam side down, in the pan. Broil until the tops are lightly browned, 7 to 8 min. Meanwhile, whisk the mayonnaise, Parmesan, lemon zest and juice, Worcestershire, and garlic in a small bowl. Season with pepper to taste.
When the tops of the fillets are lightly browned, remove the fish from the broiler. Spread equal amounts of the mayonnaise mixture over the top of each fillet. Return to the broiler until the topping is golden brown and bubbling, 1-1/2 to 2 min. Transfer the fillets to four dinner plates and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 – 6 servings
One year ago: Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Two years ago: Asian Quinoa Salad
Three years ago: Malted Chocolate Madeleines
Four years ago: Ground Turkey Shepherd’s Pie
Five years ago: Shortbread Candy Bars
Six years ago: Joanna Pruess’s Molasses Spice Cookies
Seven years ago: Cheddar Apple Frittata
Did you ever think that potatoes absorbed salt when they were boiling? I did. I also believed that if I over-salted a soup or a stew, I could toss a potato in and it would absorb some of the salt, making the soup less salty. I’ve never tried it, but I always believed it would work like a charm.
My friend Jay has been telling me about salt potatoes for years. His wife Christine is from Rochester and he has eaten many a salt potato, as they’re very popular in Central/upstate NY.
I tried salt potatoes for the first time this summer. I was very skeptical about them. I assumed they would be terribly salty, given the fact that the potatoes are boiled with a cup and a half of Kosher salt! I was pleasantly surprised though, and found that they’re actually really creamy and not salty at all. They’re the most creamy potato I’ve ever eaten. Apparently, while boiling, the salt forms a crust on the potato skin, so the salt isn’t absorbed into the flesh of the potato. In addition, the salt in the water allows it to boil at a higher temperature, which completely cooks the starch inside the potato, resulting in a very creamy spud!
Salt potatoes are best made with fresh, young potatoes. The potatoes I used were about the size of two walnuts side-by-side. In the photo, it doesn’t look like there’s any salt on the potatoes, but there’s actually a very thin coating of salt on them. Not too much to make them salty, though. Just enough for some delicious flavor.
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New York Salt Potatoes
Recipe from the New York Times
8 cups of water
1 1/2 cups of kosher salt (add another cup if using the Diamond Crystal brand)
3 pounds well-scrubbed small red or white potatoes, as uniform in size as possible and with skins on
1 stick butter, cut into pieces
Bring salt and water to a boil and add potatoes. Cook until tender, about 25 minutes.
Drain potatoes in a strainer and place pot back on stove over medium heat and add butter. When just melted, after about a minute, add potatoes and, if desired, black pepper. Toss and serve immediately.
Yield: Six servings
Guest Blogger Post by Kathleen Harragan, Summer 2015:
I just finished another rather last-minute, hastily-arranged visit to my friend Diane’s new house on Shelter Island. Amazingly – and I cannot emphasize how amazing this was – I was the only guest. Just me. Well, me and my little 11-pound foster dog (which will become relevant later). Now you never know what to expect when you grace the doors of Diane’s house on Shelter Island. It is not unusual to be dining with stars from Broadway musicals, lawyers from cases ripped from the headlines of the New York Times, or professional triathletes. What is unusual is to be dining with just Diane and her husband and boys. But that didn’t mean that we weren’t subject to the full Ina Garten treatment (plus it meant more wine for me!)
Loyal readers will be unsurprised to hear that even when Diane is cooking for one guest, she still only starts getting inspired at approximately 6pm. Luckily for this feast she had all the ingredients on hand. I will showcase the Summer Squash Casserole here. Low-cal it ain’t, but there are no such things as calories on Shelter Island.
So there I was, helping Diane with the culinary duties (and by “helping” I mean I drank wine – and refilled her glass) and all seemed to be going according to plan. Even the homemade freshly toasted breadcrumbs were gracefully spread all over the top of the casserole and it was ready to go in the oven. At that point Diane reached for the potholders and screeched at the sight of 4 freshly beaten eggs sitting in a bowl on the counter. Now she could have just pressed ahead and created a new recipe: Summer Squash Slop, but she didn’t. She gracefully deconstructed the casserole (amazingly, that breadcrumb topping looked just as delectable the second time it was layered on top) and whipped those eggs right into the squash slop. Ina would have been proud.
All turned out well and the entire meal was delightful. Have you been wondering what time it was? Let’s put it this way, the neighbors that Diane had invited over for dessert showed up as we were putting the first forkfuls of dinner in our mouths. Everyone was nonplussed. We have all seen it before. We ate dinner rather rapidly so as not to keep the dessert guests waiting (and by “waiting” I mean making them drink a lot more wine than they had probably intended) and did not even clear the dinner plates so as to move onto dessert with haste.
Now my little 11-pound foster dog was being fairly well-behaved, given that (based on earlier events) we knew that she would much rather be hunting baby bunnies in the back yard. So, unbeknownst to me (and by “unbeknownst” I mean that I had had enough wine that I wasn’t really paying attention or caring) Diane was feeding my little dog tiny pieces of the leftover Summer Squash Casserole. Now this recipe is a delectable, delightful, delicious side dish that would pair with almost everything. Except. Little. Dogs. Lucky for me, Shelter Island is a lovely place to be taking little dogs on moonlit strolls at 2 and 4 in the morning. Even luckier for me, Diane did not feed the rest of it to the dog, because we had the leftovers for lunch the very next day.
It is that good. Enjoy.
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Summer Squash Casserole
Recipe from the New York Times, with the procedure modified every so slightly
2 pounds yellow summer squash
7 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
4 slices plain white bread, toasted and crumbled in a food processor
24 Ritz crackers, crumbed in food processor
1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 21/2-quart baking dish. Cut the squash into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Cook in boiling, salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Once the squash cools a bit, I like to press some of the water out of it. Puree the cooked squash in a food processor.
Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and peppers and cook until just tender. Melt remaining butter and toss with the fresh breadcrumbs.
Mix the squash purée, onions, peppers, garlic, cracker crumbs and cheese. Stir in the eggs, cream, sugar and seasonings. Blend well. Pour into the baking dish. Top with bread crumbs and bake until browned, about 40 minutes.
Yield: 8 – 10 servings
This photo was taken right before I served it as a side-dish, although it would have been perfectly suited as a vegetarian entree as well if served over rice. There was no time to set up lighting, thus the yellow-tinge of the photo. Don’t let the picture turn you off, this is a really tasty dish. Here’s a much better picture of what it actually looks like.
I love dishes that have curry and coconut milk in them. The original recipe called for cumin and curry powder. I didn’t have any curry powder on hand, but I did have a great spice blend that I used in lieu of both the cumin and the curry powder that were called for in the recipe. I used Penzy’s Singapore Seasoning. I added 2.5 teaspoons of it to the recipe instead of the curry and cumin.
I’ve made this recipe several times. It’s becoming part of our regular rotation. Once this summer, I didn’t have firm or extra firm tofu on hand, but I did have silken tofu, so I tried it. Big mistake. It’s so soft I was barely able to cut it into cubes. I lacks structural integrity and is therefore a very poor choice for this recipe. Stick to the firm or extra-firm tofu, no matter how inexpensive a giant box of silken tofu is at Costco.
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Curried Peas and Tofu
Recipe from Fine Cooking
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 1/8-inch-thick slices fresh ginger, smashed
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 tsp. mild curry powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2/3 cup stirred coconut milk
1 cup shelled fresh peas or frozen peas, thawed
1 14- to 17-oz. package firm or extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp. fresh lime juice
Heat the olive oil in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, and 1 tsp. salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is starting to color, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and cumin; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Turn the heat up to high, add the coconut milk, and bring to a boil. Add the peas and tofu; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the peas are just tender and the tofu is heated through, about 3 minutes. Discard the ginger and garlic, stir in the lime juice, and season to taste with salt. Serve with warm naan or over rice.
Yield: 4 servings as a main course
One year ago: Rosemary Butter Cookies
Two years ago: Southwestern Chopped Chicken Salad
Three years ago: German Potato Salad
Four years ago: Cottage Cheese Pancakes
Five years ago: Fresh Pear Pie with Dried Cherries and Brown Sugar Streusel
Six years ago: Lemon Chamomile Shortbread
Seven years ago: Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup
I’m sorry that I haven’t posted in a while. We had LOTS and LOTS of company this summer, and I made lots of new recipes, but never found the time to post them. I have a number of recipes to share, so hopefully over the next week or so, I’ll find time to post them all.
This Israeli couscous salad is delicious. The ingredients sounded rather plain and pedestrian to me, but when they’re thrown together, I found that the whole was definitely greater than the sum of its parts. I think that toasting the couscous first definitely brought out a lot of its flavor.
This salad is light and refreshing and definitely a great accompaniment to any type of grilled meat. I served it with these quinoa burgers, which I make all the time.
This summer I didn’t have an herb garden, and it killed me every time I had to pay $3 for a small bunch of herbs. Next summer, I’m definitely going to get my herb garden going again.
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Toasted Israeli Couscous Salad with Mint, Cucumber, and Feta
Recipe from Fine Cooking (my favorite cooking magazine)
1 cup Israeli couscous
1 medium English cucumber, peeled and finely diced (2 cups)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh spearmint or pineapple mint leaves; additional sprigs for garnish
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice; more as needed
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup small-diced feta cheese
In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts well-salted water to a boil.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over medium heat, toast the couscous, stirring frequently, until golden-brown, about 7 minutes.
Cook the couscous in the boiling water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water until cool. Pour the couscous into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the cucumber and mint.
In a small bowl, mix the oil, lemon juice and zest, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Stir in the feta. Add the feta mixture to the couscous, season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and mix well. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the mint sprigs.
Yield: 4 – 6 servings as a side dish
One year ago: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Sweet Corn Polenta with Eggplant Sauce
Two years ago: Soft Pretzel Nuggets
Three years ago: Frittata with Red Peppers and Peas
Four years ago: Chipotle Turkey Chili with Apples and Cheddar
Five years ago: Mexican Wedding Cookies
Six years ago: Lemon Mascarpone Mousse
Seven years ago: Chicken Salad with Apple and Basil
Meringues are one of my favorite cookies. I can eat them by the fistful. I love that they’re light and airy and are perfect if you want just a little something to satisfy a sweet-tooth.
This is a recipe that you need to start well in advance of when you need them. It doesn’t take long to mix the ingredients, but the cookies take 45 minutes to cook, then you need to leave them in the oven for another hour and a half so they can really set.
I use my stand mixer with the whisk attachment for this recipe. You can certainly use an electric hand mixer, but it takes a good 5+ minutes to get the meringues whipped until they have stiff, glossy peaks.
Use as much or as little green food coloring as you like. I only added a couple of drops, so my meringues were a very pale green color.
These really are delicious.
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Mint Chocolate Chip Meringues
Recipe from Taste of Home
2 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
6 to 8 drops green food coloring, optional
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
In a small bowl, beat the egg whites, salt, cream of tartar, extract and food coloring (if desired) on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved, about 6 minutes. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls or pipe 2 in. apart onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake at 250° for 40-45 minutes or until firm to the touch. Turn oven off; leave meringues in oven for 1-1/2 hours. Remove to wire racks. Store in an airtight container.
Yield: ~32 cookies
Two years ago: Chocolate Brownie Cookies
Three years ago: Pecan Sandies
Four years ago: Potato Torta
Five years ago: Ranch Potato Salad
Six years ago: Chicken with Tabbouleh
One of my sons LOVES cheesecake and he’s always asking me to make one. I hesitate to make an entire cheesecake unless we’re having a dinner party, because only 4 of the 6 of us like it, and it would take a while for us to consume a whole cake. That problem was solved when I found this recipe for individual cheesecake cups. My son’s eyes lit up when I showed him the recipe. Because they looked so good, and despite the fact that the center is filled with cheesecake, all four boys tried the filling. Alas, still only two like cheesecake. I think one of them may have rejected it because he knew that there was cheese in it. I’m not convinced he didn’t like it.
The cheesecake in these cups is fairly soft, so I found these to be incredible served directly from the freezer. The cookie cups don’t get too hard and the filling has the perfect consistency when frozen – not too hard and not too soft – just perfect. This is now one of my favorite desserts. I love that the cheesecake is no-bake and that each cheesecake cup is an individual serving. These look beautiful on a serving platter and if you have berries around, they’d be beautiful with a raspberry, blackberry or strawberry adorning the cheesecake.
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Nutella Cheesecake Chocolate Cookie Cups
Recipe from Life, Love and Sugar
Chocolate Cookie Cups
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cornstarch
10 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup Nutella
Coat cupcake pan with non stick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar together for ~5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until smooth. Dough will be thick. Make balls of about 2 Tablespoons of dough. Press cookie dough in bottom and about 1/3-1/2 way up the sides of each cupcake cup, forming a cup shape. These don’t have to be perfect. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to finish cooling. The centers should fall a bit while cooling, but if the centers aren’t cupped enough to add filling, use the end of a wooden spoon or the bottom of a tablespoon to press the center down a bit.
Once the cookies have cooled, make the cheesecake filling. Blend the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and Nutella together until smooth. Pipe or scoop cheesecake filling into cookie cups.
Store in the refrigerator or the freezer (my preference).
Yield: ~16 cheesecake cookie cups
Two years ago: Fresh Carrot Risotto
Three years ago: Avocado Vichyssoise
Four years ago: Spicy Chicken Barley Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach
Five years ago: Cheese Quiche
Six years ago: Pan Seared Shrimp with Garlic-Lemon Butter