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128 posts categorized " 03) Entrees & Main-Dish Casseroles"

02/17/2015

~ Aurora's 'Famous' Chicken Pepperoni Seems Like Old Times (Dinner and a Funny Movie Review too!) ~

I've got a movie on my menu tonight. Neil Simon's 'Seems Like Old Times' (starring Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn and Charles Grodin) is a feel-good blast from my retro 1980's past. I'm not usually a fan of romantic comedies, but, this one keeps me laughing out loud from start to finish every time I see it. It's no secret that in order to write this blog and do my TV segments I work almost nonstop in my kitchen. Having always been a movie buff, movies on my kitchen TV keep me company throughout the entire day. Seems Like Old Times...... View full recipe for "~ Aurora's 'Famous' Chicken Pepperoni Seems Like Old Times (Dinner and a Funny Movie Review too!) ~"

02/15/2015

~ My Grandma's Butter-Braised Cabbage & Carrots ~

Both of my grandmothers' kitchens were close to home -- dad's mom lived 4-5 miles from us, mom's mom lived 9-10. We visited them both often, and, both of them every Sunday -- lunch at mom's mom's, dinner at dad's mom's. Until I was age ten or eleven and invited to my girlfriend Cathy's house for Sunday dinner, I assumed everybody's house smelled like cabbage on a Sunday. We Eastern Europeans cook "Sunday cabbage" like Italians cook "Sunday gravy"! Braised cabbage is buttery & melt-in-your mouth tender! I like cabbage a lot, but I wouldn't say I'm "crazy for cabbage"....... View full recipe for "~ My Grandma's Butter-Braised Cabbage & Carrots ~"

01/17/2015

~ Mel's Perfectly-Roasted Rosemary Turkey Breast ~

When a recipe has the word "perfect" in its title, one had better be certain it is exactly that. In my kitchen, in order for any recipe to make it onto my blog, it must make it through my kitchen three times without glitches. Yes, unlike plenty of other cooking blogs, my recipes are not only tested, they are tested three times before I place them in your capable hands. I take testing very seriously, and, once is not enough. In the case of roasting poulty and meat, many times, three times is not enough. For example, I tested this...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Perfectly-Roasted Rosemary Turkey Breast ~"

01/14/2015

~ Basque in a Spanish Breakfast: Huevos Rotos con Chistorra y Potatas (Eggs, Sausage and Potatoes) ~

Put your big boy pants on. Put bigger pants on. This stick-to-your-ribs hard-working hungry-man's one-skillet breakfast contains a days worth of full-flavored tongue-tingling calories. It's got it all -- fried eggs, fried potatoes, fried sausage, and sometimes, even a talo (tortilla) too. Hailing from the high mountainous Navarre regions of Spain, also known sa Basque country, this is a dish of humble origin, poor-man's food. "Huevos rotos" literally means "broken eggs", so it should come as no surprise that the eggs have a soft, runny texture. Nowadays, it's mostly served in homes for celebrations or holidays, but, it's found on...... View full recipe for "~ Basque in a Spanish Breakfast: Huevos Rotos con Chistorra y Potatas (Eggs, Sausage and Potatoes) ~"

01/09/2015

~ January "White Out" White Chicken 'n Corn Chili ~

Oh baby it's cold outside -- several degrees below zero cold here in Happy Valley. Even if the sun does comes out, the temperatures aren't going to tempt me into venturing outside into the swirling tornado of white snow whirling around on my back porch, thanks in part to the snow machines running full throttle up on the Tussy Mountain Ski Slope (almost in my backyard). Staying indoors is on my agenda, and, I am not alone. The better portion of the entire Northeast is in this deep-freeze with me. I can't be the only one dreaming of a bowl...... View full recipe for "~ January "White Out" White Chicken 'n Corn Chili ~"

01/06/2015

~ Mel's Perfectly-Roasted Rack of Berkshire Pork ~

There are pork roasts and then there are pork roasts. This is the mother-of-all pork roasts. This is the best pork roast you will ever eat anywhere. This is a Berkshire pork roast. Berkshire pork, also known as Kurobuta pork, is on the menu of many upscale and fine-dining restaurants, like Spago in Beverly Hills, and The French Laundry in Yountville, CA. The first bite will render you speechless -- it's moist, juicy and tender, with a very rich, refined, luxurious taste and texture. A bit about Berkshire pork: It comes from a heritage breed of pig that was discovered...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Perfectly-Roasted Rack of Berkshire Pork ~"

01/04/2015

~ How & Why to Tie Rib Roast (Beef, Lamb or Pork)~

When I was growing up, and, into the better part of my adult life, I never encountered vacuum-packed meat of any kind. Meat and poultry, and, fish and seafood, were freshly cut and/or processed, on a daily basis. This happened at mom and pop butcher shops everywhere and on premises at all grocery stores. At a very young age, I learned by listening to my mother, how to "talk shop" with a butcher. When my mother ordered a primbe rib roast for the holidays, she would say, "eight ribs, Frenched, trimmed and tied". If it was a boneless beef tenderloin...... View full recipe for "~ How & Why to Tie Rib Roast (Beef, Lamb or Pork)~"

01/02/2015

~ How to: French a Rib Roast (Beef, Lamb or Pork) ~

Knowing how to "French" a rib roast is a very cheffy skill. Like boning poultry or fileting fish, you won't graduate from culinary school unless you can do it proficiently. The verb "to French" means to "strip the meat away from the bone of a rib or a chop to cleanly expose the bone." It's done with the finesse and expertise of a fine surgeon using a scalpel. This process not for everyone, and, if you're not concerned with an upscale restaurant-type presentation, it isn't even necessary. In fact, if you don't have a long, thin, razer sharp knife, don't...... View full recipe for "~ How to: French a Rib Roast (Beef, Lamb or Pork) ~"

12/21/2014

~ Pork Tenderloin Medallions w/Dijon-Cream Sauce ~

This time of year, recipes for easy-to-prepare weeknight meals are more important to me than ever. I affectionately refer to them as "flash-in-the-pan meals", because, in a flash, in one pan, with no stress, I am eating something delicious -- in the case of this recipe, it is elegant enough to serve to company as well. It's one of those dishes that makes you feel like a bona fide French chef too -- medallions, shallots, wine, butter, cream, Dijon and capers. If you want to add a few diced mushroom caps, they just add to the porcine fun. Voila. There...... View full recipe for "~ Pork Tenderloin Medallions w/Dijon-Cream Sauce ~"

12/14/2014

~ When in Rome, start with: Bucatini all'Amatriciana ~

Amatrice is a town in the mountainous northeastern panhandle of Lazio, near Abruzzo (central Italy). "All' Amatriciana" means "made in the style of Amatrice and sugo Amatriciana is one of the oldest Italian sauces. It's a humble, rustic pasta dish commonly found on the restaurant menus of Rome. This immortal sauce is bold-flavored, and, like many Italian classics, it is easily prepared with a short list of ingredients, but, the list is specific and the dish is only as good as the quality of said ingredients. Recipes vary, so there is some room for improvisation, but this is seriously not...... View full recipe for "~ When in Rome, start with: Bucatini all'Amatriciana ~"

12/03/2014

~ Rise & Shine: Creamy Crustless Crabmeat Quiche~

If you are like me, there can never be enough easy and elegant breakfast or brunch recipes in the food world. On my best day I am not a nice person early in the morning. I'm not mean (depending upon who you ask), I just tend to need time to quietly organize my thoughts in the morning. A typical weekday for me entails cooking and cleanup with photography and writing sandwiched in between and afterward. This leaves me protective of my mornings to myself. That said, I entertain regularly too, and, when I have overnight guests I want their morning...... View full recipe for "~ Rise & Shine: Creamy Crustless Crabmeat Quiche~"

11/15/2014

~ Untangling an American Retro Classic: Tetrazzini (Stranded Pasta baked in Parmesan Cream Sauce) ~

If you write a cooking blog long enough, you learn that sharing old, classic recipes is as important as sharing new, innovative ones. Another way to say it is: "what's old is always new to someone", and they appreciate learning about it -- and that includes a bit of history too. I know this to be true because by the time I was in my thirties, tetrazzini had been around for a very long time but I had never tasted it. I grew up a tetrazzini deprived child. My mom didn't make it because my dad doesn't care for anything...... View full recipe for "~ Untangling an American Retro Classic: Tetrazzini (Stranded Pasta baked in Parmesan Cream Sauce) ~"

11/04/2014

~For the Love of Meatballs from Sweden (Kottbullar)~

Svenska Kottbullar. Swedish meatballs. The only two Swedish words you'll ever need to know. The National Dish of Sweden, and famous throughout the world, I've never met a person who doesn't adore them -- soft, one-inch meatballs bathed in beefy, creamy sauce love. Traditionally served during the holidays as an appetizer or main-course at smorgasbord (an elaborate, festive buffet), typically accompanied by buttery egg noodles or creamy mashed potatoes, and, always with lingonberry preserves as a condiment, they're elegant, extraordinary and exquisite. Sweden's culinary gift to meat, gravy & potato lovers: (God bless us every one.) Swedish-style meatballs were first...... View full recipe for "~For the Love of Meatballs from Sweden (Kottbullar)~"

11/01/2014

~ Crockpot Lasagna - I made it, it works & it's good! ~

Proving I am not a food snob isn't always easy because on many levels I am. I believe in cooking with real butter, real cream, real cheese and real eggs. I believe in a diet that consists of meat, poultry, fish and seafood balanced with potatoes, pasta, rice and grains, and, vegetables galore. Every bite of every thing, in moderation, should be worth every calulated calorie. I want it cooked properly by the best method available, whether that be low and slow or fast and furious using moist or dry heat, and, I want it to emerge as pretty as...... View full recipe for "~ Crockpot Lasagna - I made it, it works & it's good! ~"

09/06/2014

~ Farfalle w/Butter, Basil, Peperoncino & Parmesan (Basic Pasta al Burro con Formaggino w/Panache) ~

When I'm having a serious late night snack attack, the kind that two or three slices of cheese, some salty deli meat and a few crackers can't cure, for me, a one-pot pasta dish is always on my short list. The criteria: it must be simple, straightforward, seriously flavorful, and, on my plate in the time it takes to pour a glass of wine and cook the pasta -- start to finish: 15 minutes tops! Pasta al Burro con Formaggino (Pasta w/Butter & Cheese): The Italians came up with a solution for the snack attack centuries ago in the form...... View full recipe for "~ Farfalle w/Butter, Basil, Peperoncino & Parmesan (Basic Pasta al Burro con Formaggino w/Panache) ~"

06/29/2014

~ Conchiglie Pasta tossed with Crispy Pancetta, a Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce, Spinach & Walnuts ~

I really did encounter this dish in a restaurant at a tennis club in Taipei! Damn straight. The year was 1986. Joe's engineering company was doing business with a manufacturing company in Taiwan. It was owned by an interesting American businessman who, having being stationed in Taipei after the Korean War, decided to return to Taiwan to live for the rest of his life. Thanks to Lee's English-speaking Taiwanese secretary, while the men were conducting business, I spent ten days being chauffered around to sight-see, eat and shop. On the last day of our stay, Lee, who knew that Joe...... View full recipe for "~ Conchiglie Pasta tossed with Crispy Pancetta, a Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce, Spinach & Walnuts ~"

06/06/2014

~ Mel's Rosemary-Kissed Pork Sugo w/Strozzapreti ~

This dish tastes every bit as good as it sounds and just saying it makes me salivate. If you haven't noticed, my past few posts have all included pasta in some form: bucatini (thick, hollow spaghetti), cellentani (hollow corkscrews), pappardelle (wide flat egg pasta), orecchiette (little ears), and now, strozzapreti (priest stranglers). At the end of May, a friend gave me a beautiful box of very special Italian meats, cheeses, all sorts of marinated vegetables, and, a variety of imported organic pasta. It was a thank-you gift, and, for me, it's as appreciated as jewelry. I immediately opened this treasure...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Rosemary-Kissed Pork Sugo w/Strozzapreti ~"

06/02/2014

~ Steak Peperonata (Steak with Peppers & Onions) ~

I love almost all vegetables. When I was growing up, fresh vegetables were served with just about every meal. My mom wasn't a fancy cook, but, roast beef was served with roasted carrots, baked ham came with cabbage or brussels sprouts, meatloaf got peas, pork chops got baked beans, spaghetti got tomato sauce, T-bone steaks got corn in some form, and, hot dogs came with home fries. My dad grew some of the vegetables in his garden, my mom bought the rest at the local Hometown Farmer's Market. What's my point? Veggies weren't a threat. They were a natural part...... View full recipe for "~ Steak Peperonata (Steak with Peppers & Onions) ~"

05/27/2014

~ Roast-Chicken Caprese-Panzanella Pasta-Salad ~

Here in the Northeastern part of the United States, the Memorial Day weekend is the official unofficial kick off to the Summer season. Gardeners fertilize their soil and plant their seeds while barbeque grillers iron their aprons and sharpen their knives. Public swimming pools and beaches open, and fishermen put their boats in the water. The young, the old and everybody in between is ready to set up their lawn chairs and move outdoors for a few months. As of yesterday afternoon, I have switched gears. I am officially in Summer meals mode, meaning: During the Summer, what I enjoy...... View full recipe for "~ Roast-Chicken Caprese-Panzanella Pasta-Salad ~"

05/21/2014

~ Pappardelle Pasta & Crispy Pancetta tossed with a Creamy Sauteed-Mushroom Asiago-Cheese Sauce ~

If this sounds like a dish you would be happy to find late at night on a restaurant "after hours" menu it is: my own. Here in Melanie's Kitchen (also known as The Preschutti Bar & Grille), we call this: "The House Pappardelle". Just like another of my house specialties, "Spaghetti a la Carbonara", it is pure, simple, perfection. Don't ask me why, but, there is just something magical about feasting on spaghetti at midnight any time of the year under any weather conditions. We've been inundated with a few days of cooler than usual, AC off/put the heat back...... View full recipe for "~ Pappardelle Pasta & Crispy Pancetta tossed with a Creamy Sauteed-Mushroom Asiago-Cheese Sauce ~"

04/18/2014

~ E-Z Jamaican Shrimp Curry in a Hurry w/No Worry~

I'm no expert, but, I do know just enough about Jamaican cooking to NOT be dangerous. I know that a dish consisting of ackee fruit and salt cod is their National Dish. Since I've just spent the past week posting some luscious recipes for cod fish (I love cod), a lovely thought and tribute to Jamaica (I love Jamaican food) would have been to end the week with this uniquely tantalizing recipe. Alas, even if I could get my hands on an ackee here in the states, I wouldn't touch it. Parts of the ackee are toxic, so, my better...... View full recipe for "~ E-Z Jamaican Shrimp Curry in a Hurry w/No Worry~"

04/11/2014

~Cod Cakes w/Creamed Corn & Crisp Tortilla Wisps~

I never met a fish cake or a crab cake I didn't like. Some recipes are better than others, but generally speaking, I love them all. Whenever I broil, bake or poach fresh fish filets I always buy two or three, for the sole purpose of having leftovers to make fish cakes the next day. Almost any kind of fish can be used to make fish cakes, but, this recipe is the one I use specifically for white fish cakes. Firm, lean and meaty cod, grouper or haddock are my favorite three, and, I found some beautiful wild cod filets...... View full recipe for "~Cod Cakes w/Creamed Corn & Crisp Tortilla Wisps~"

04/08/2014

~ Mel's 30-Minute "Brain Food" Meal: Broiled Cod w/ Spicy Saffron Rice, Peas & Stewed Tomato Sauce ~

"Fish is brain food." That's what my mother always told me -- to entice us to eat it. I never had to try to buy into that fish tale because the fish I ate as a child was quite good, and, as far as I was concerned, I was a sharp kid. (Back then, "fish is brain food" was a claim that was dismissed as an "old wives tale".) Like a lot of the world, our household fasted on religious "Fish Fry Fridays" (as I now affectionately refer to them), but, shrimp cocktail and fried salmon patties were the only...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's 30-Minute "Brain Food" Meal: Broiled Cod w/ Spicy Saffron Rice, Peas & Stewed Tomato Sauce ~"

04/01/2014

~ This Woman's Way to Roast the Perfect Chicken + My Stressfree "Carving for Dummies" Methodology ~

Rotisserie chicken is not my "gig". It takes all the sport out of cooking. I roast chickens. I have roasted many chickens in my life, and, I've been roasting chickens since before some of you were born. I've never served roasted chicken to a guest that didn't mention how moist and perfectly cooked it was and ask how in the world I got it that way. Everyone and anyone who cooks has an opinion on roasting chicken, and, mine is quite basic: two chickens, two hours! "You can always judge the quality of a cook or a restaurant by roast...... View full recipe for "~ This Woman's Way to Roast the Perfect Chicken + My Stressfree "Carving for Dummies" Methodology ~"

03/26/2014

~An End of Winter Ricotta & Spinach 'Pizza' Quiche~

Pizza quiche? If you're thinking those two words don't belong together in the same sentence, you have two choices: read on or move on. Busy moms who know how to cook are notorius for pulling an inventive, delicious meal out of their apron pocket in the blink of an eye. Busy moms who have the creativity to give it a kid-friendly name, especially if it's got spinach or broccoli in it, are natural born story tellers. As I always say, "there is more to a recipe than a list of ingredients. There is either a history or a story behind...... View full recipe for "~An End of Winter Ricotta & Spinach 'Pizza' Quiche~"

03/24/2014

~ Ricotta & Spinach Gnudi (Dumplings) w/Marinara ~

There was a period in my life when I taught cooking classes on a regular basis (which I'm just too busy to do nowadays). It was a rarity if I chose the subject matter. When a group of people or an organization wants to take a class, they usually know what it is they want to learn before they come a calling. In every class, one of the things I enjoy the most are the questions that get asked. Questions reveal two things: What is spinning around in the heads of people interested in food, and, what food trends are...... View full recipe for "~ Ricotta & Spinach Gnudi (Dumplings) w/Marinara ~"

03/21/2014

~ My Braised & Brown Sugar Glazed Corned Beef ~

A funny thing happened at the grocery store yesterday -- all the corned beef was on sale and Joe came home with two beautiful specimens. I always make my brown sugar glazed corned beef in March, around or for St. Patrick's day, which is a fun holiday even if you aren't Irish -- there is a bit of Leprechaun in everyone. I make it during the rest of the year too because my recipe makes one of the best deli-style corned beef sandwiches you will ever taste. Withhold referring to my last statement as arrogant until you have made and...... View full recipe for "~ My Braised & Brown Sugar Glazed Corned Beef ~"

03/19/2014

~ Ditalini Pasta con le Lenticchie (Pasta with Lentils)~

Over the past week I've shown you how to make two of my favorite "legume meals". I soaked some dried kidney beans to make hearty red beans and rice, then I made some luscious split pea soup in my slow cooker. In a nutshell, legumes are the dried seed pods of beans, peas and lentils. It wouldn't be right for me to close the pantry door on legumes without cooking some lentils, so, I'm tying a bow on the trio by making my favorite lentil dish today: pasta with lentils! In Italy, pasta with lentils is very common. Here in...... View full recipe for "~ Ditalini Pasta con le Lenticchie (Pasta with Lentils)~"

03/17/2014

~Mom's Traditional Ham, Cabbage and Potato Soup~

What makes this ethnic, hearty, peasant soup traditional? Every time my mother has a meaty ham bone in her hand, she makes "ham and cabbage". It is a brothy concoction of ham, carrots, celery, onions and potatoes seasoned with nothing but salt and pepper. I grew up loving cabbage and I adore this "boiled dinner". I am Russian Orthodox (Eastern European). Cabbage juice runs through our veins -- Russian babies are born into the world loving cabbage (and potatoes). This soup was one of my father's mother's specialties! Over the course of the past week I've been extolling the joys...... View full recipe for "~Mom's Traditional Ham, Cabbage and Potato Soup~"

03/10/2014

~ Monday's Washday Dinner: Red Beans and Rice ~

Louis Armstrong loved red beans and rice so much, he signed his personal letters: "Red beans and ricely yours." Red beans and rice dates back to the early 19th century. A slave rebelllion broke out in Haiti and many rich, white sugar planters fled to Louisiana, a possession of France at the time. They brought red beans from the Caribbean with them. Red beans and rice was created in the kitchens of the French Quarter and is now a signature dish of Louisiana's Creole cuisine. It starts with diced bell pepper, celery and onion ("the trinity") being sauteed in some...... View full recipe for "~ Monday's Washday Dinner: Red Beans and Rice ~"

02/28/2014

~ Broiled & Baked: K.C. BBQ'D Country-Style Ribs (Pantry Cooking: Kid friendly and mother approved!) ~

Just because it is the end of February does not mean Spring is right around the corner. Especially this year. Unlike Winters of the recent past, this one's agenda has been brutal, with 8"-16" of snow in our current forecast for this Sunday (March 2nd). I can live with old man Winter. It's easy to do from the inside looking out, but, sometimes I yearn for the taste of a grilled rib or a piece of chicken dripping with red, ketchup-y sweet and spicy barbecue sauce. Note: Joe is no slouch. He never puts our grill away for the Winter,...... View full recipe for "~ Broiled & Baked: K.C. BBQ'D Country-Style Ribs (Pantry Cooking: Kid friendly and mother approved!) ~"

02/25/2014

~ Mel's Got Spaghetti "a la Carbonara" on Her Mind (A Simple Recipe w/Fond Memories & Rich History) ~

Carbonara. A word every foodie is familiar with. Not familiar with it? Not a foodie. Don't like the word foodie? Go write your own material. Carbonara is Italian, and, if you have ever eaten it in its city of origin, Rome, or had it prepared for you by someone from Rome, you have little patience with American bastardizations. Carbonara is the definition of "simply extraordinary"! Carbonara = Pasta, Pork, Eggs, Cheese & Pepper A bit about carbonara (kar-boh-NAH-rah): (The following is a run-on sentence.) Carbonara is a dish of al dente pasta (usually bucatini or thick spaghetti) tossed into a...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Got Spaghetti "a la Carbonara" on Her Mind (A Simple Recipe w/Fond Memories & Rich History) ~"

02/23/2014

~ Cooking Boneless Pork Backribs (Pork on a Fork) ~

Some people go to church on Sundays. Joe goes to Sam's Club. Men like Sam's Club. Even the name implies the place is for men. Sam's sell things in bulk and men like that. This works out great for me: 1) Once a week Joe picks up everything I use in big amounts (aluminim foil sheets, pans, paper towels, cleaning supplies, etc.), which makes mid-week shopping more like running quick, errands. 2) Sam's Club has a great meat department, which I have come to rely on for several items. Bonelesss pork backribs, however, took me some time to warm up...... View full recipe for "~ Cooking Boneless Pork Backribs (Pork on a Fork) ~"

01/30/2014

~ Yankee-Style Southern-Fried Chicken & Waffles ~

I refer to my recipe for Southern fried chicken and waffles as "Yankee-style" because I have never eaten fried chicken and waffles together on the same plate below the Mason-Dixon line. I've traveled through many Southern states, and eaten a few meals in Tennesee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana. I have eaten some fine fried chicken on these travels, but, I do not recall the option of a waffle with it or underneath it. My great Aunt (a South Carolina gal married to a PA guy) repeatedly drawled "there is no such thing as this dish in...... View full recipe for "~ Yankee-Style Southern-Fried Chicken & Waffles ~"

01/28/2014

~ Pennsylvania-Dutch-Country Chicken & Waffles ~

It is Waffle Week here on Kitchen Encounters, and, thanks to my finding the perfect recipe for waffles, given to me a few days ago by my friend Teresa, I can post my chicken and waffle recipes, made two ways: PA Dutch- and Southern Fried-style. I've hesitated to do so thusfar because I grew up in PA Dutch Country (Eastern, PA), the land of Pennsylvania Dutch chicken and waffles. My fiance's grandmother ("Nana"), from Mantzville, was PA Deutsch and hers were amazing, made with sour cream-based waffles. Besides every family having their favorite recipe for these roasted-chicken and gravy-topped waffles,...... View full recipe for "~ Pennsylvania-Dutch-Country Chicken & Waffles ~"

01/15/2014

~ Indian Chicken Biryani: Demystified (& Simplified) ~

Back in 2005 and 2006 I volunteered my services as a cooking consultant to WPSU-TV. It turned out to be one of the most valuable experiences of my life, as, without knowing, it evolved into a launching pad of sorts: it exposed me to the workings of a television station, and, allowed me to participate, from beginning to end, in the production of cooking on television. With no credentials other than "a local woman known for her cooking", Charlie, the producer, put me on his team. I took my 'job' seriously and am proud to say: I redesigned the look...... View full recipe for "~ Indian Chicken Biryani: Demystified (& Simplified) ~"

01/13/2014

~ Easy Indian Chicken Curry in a Hurry w/No Worry ~

I watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel twice over the weekend -- thanks to this movie, I want a bowl of Indian curry in a hurry! I do not profess to knowing a lot about India or being an authority on authentic Indian cuisine. I have never had the opportunity to travel there, however, I have had the pleasure of having been entertained, on several occasions back in the early 1980's, in the home of neighborhood friends, Prashant and Bharti. Bharti was an excellent cook, and, while I did get some hands-on training from her, back in the '80's, without...... View full recipe for "~ Easy Indian Chicken Curry in a Hurry w/No Worry ~"

01/10/2014

~ Mel's Crispy, Deep-Fried Chinese Lemon Chicken ~

I am chuckling at my decision to make Chinese lemon chicken today. Why? If you check my January archives for the past three years, you are going to find more than a few Asian-style recipes. It seems I have developed a pattern of wanting Asian food at the beginning of each new year and today it is Chinese. I'm pretty certain it has little to do with celebrating Chinese New Year (the date of which is January 31st this year), and has everything to do with my wanting to "wake up my tastebuds" with something bold and bright in the...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Crispy, Deep-Fried Chinese Lemon Chicken ~ "

01/06/2014

~Steak au Poivre (Peppercorn-Crusted Filet Mignon)~

Joe and I celebrate New Years Eve quietly. Why? We do enough entertaining and partying throughout the year. By the time this holiday rolls around, we qualify for "professional party pooper status". That, however, does not mean we don't celebrate it elegantly. We do! We always put forethought and planning into a dinner worthy of a bottle of bubbly. Sometimes it takes us all day to prepare (meaning it is a complicated recipe), sometimes it takes just a few minutes (meaning it is an easy recipe). Last year it was a bit complicated, and, it was lobster. Two days ago,...... View full recipe for "~Steak au Poivre (Peppercorn-Crusted Filet Mignon)~"

12/13/2013

~ Joy's Italian-American-Style Stuffed Bell Peppers ~

Shiver me timbers, my parade of snowstorm dinners continues! I usually make stuffed peppers once a year, in the Fall, when Joe has an excess of peppers in his garden (as pictured here). When I'm using poblano peppers, I make a Mexican-seasoned version, and, when I'm using bell peppers I go to Italian-American seasonings. While picking up a short list of staples for this weekend, I found some big, beautiful bell peppers at Wegman's today, which fast-tracked me into writing this blog post. Joe will be pleased as he really enjoys these! "Mango" is a term for "green bell pepper"?...... View full recipe for "~ Joy's Italian-American-Style Stuffed Bell Peppers ~"

12/11/2013

~ Snowstorm Steak (How Mel Broils Steak Indoors) ~

Oh baby it's cold outside, and, the truth be told: I am not an outdoors kinda gal unless certain conditions are met: I like my weather sunny and warm enough to drive with the top down on my convertible, or, sit in a chaise lounge with a G&T and watch Joe perfectly grill some thick, juicy steaks under a blue and white "Happy Valley" sky. Pretty amusing considering I live in the Northeastern United States, more specifially, Central PA, which can be like sitting on an iceberg at times. And, "iceberg" definitely defines the Northeast this week. So, what does...... View full recipe for "~ Snowstorm Steak (How Mel Broils Steak Indoors) ~"

11/27/2013

~ Braised Pork Tenderloins w/Apple & Onion Puree ~

Time out for a pre-Thanksgiving ice & snow storm dinner! Yes friends, what was the Midwest's problem two days ago is becoming the Northeast's problem today and tomorrow. We woke up to ice and snow, the snow continues to fall, they are making snow on the Tussey Mountain Ski Slope (the view from my kitchen window), and, I for one am thankful I do not have to go anywhere today. Thanks to a preemptive strike on my grocery stores over the weekend (to pick up a bunch of ingredients for my turkey day feast tomorrow), my pantry and root cellar...... View full recipe for "~ Braised Pork Tenderloins w/Apple & Onion Puree ~"

11/23/2013

~ How to: Make 'French' Crepes (Sweet or Savory) ~

I'm pretty certain everyone knows what a crepe is, but, I'm not so sure everyone knows how simple they are to make. I say this because almost every time I serve them, someone inevitably remarks how intimidated they are at the thought of "tackling" them. While I can't say crepes are a staple in my kitchen, I don't hesitate to get out my crepe pan and make a few for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. That is how easy they are. Crepes are to a chef what an empty canvas is to a creative artist: they are the perfect foil...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Make 'French' Crepes (Sweet or Savory) ~"

11/14/2013

~Open-Sesame Flank Steak w/Garlic-Ginger Sauce~

Give me a big, fat, juicy, perfectly-grilled, rare- medium-rare steak and I am a happy camper. I am a beef lover, and, in the Summer, "throwing a few steaks on the grill" and having them emerge just the way each person wants his or hers cooked is an artform. In the Fall and Winter? Not so much. When the snow flurries begin to fall, you will rarely find me outside on the grill never find me outside on the grill. So, what does a beef lovin' gal like me do tonight? I'm in the mood for an Asian beef fling...... View full recipe for "~Open-Sesame Flank Steak w/Garlic-Ginger Sauce~"

11/05/2013

~ Mel's Oven-Roasted Version of PA-Style Blockpit BBQ'd Butter 'n Vinegar Chicken a la Deb Pearson ~

I hoped to post this recipe for BBQ'd chicken back in June or July, but, 'the powers that be' took longer than I anticipated to locate this unique-to-PA BBQ'd chicken dish, and, more importantly the proper venue to execute it: Chicken halves or pieces are grilled over a wood fire in a structure made of cinderblocks, called a "blockpit". During the process, the chicken is misted, not brushed, with a mixture of melted butter, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sometimes lemon juice! About six months ago my girlfriend from Ohio, who works with noneother than The Grillmaster himself, Steven Raichlen, called...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Oven-Roasted Version of PA-Style Blockpit BBQ'd Butter 'n Vinegar Chicken a la Deb Pearson ~"

11/02/2013

~ Around Town (in search of a blockpit & a recipe for PA-Style Blockpit BBQ'd Butter 'n Vinegar Chicken) ~

My search for a blockpit began about six months ago. A girlfriend from Ohio, who works with noneother than The Grillmaster himself, Steven Raichlen, contacted me. Nancy explained that Steven's website had received an e-mail request for a specific recipe for barbecued chicken, cooked over a wood fire in a structure made of cinderblocks. During the cooking process, the half chickens or chicken parts are misted, not brushed, with a mixture of melted butter, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sometimes lemon juice. Nancy added that, in the e-mail, the man said "he had grown up eating this unique chicken in Pennsylvania"....... View full recipe for "~ Around Town (in search of a blockpit & a recipe for PA-Style Blockpit BBQ'd Butter 'n Vinegar Chicken) ~"

10/25/2013

~ Pan-Seared Spanish Iberico Pork Secreto (Secret)~

October is/has been National Pork Month, an American 'holiday' created by the hog producers to give their industry a boost, and there is nothing wrong with that. I love pork, and, this year on Kitchen Encounters, I concentrated my October pork posts on my favorite recipes for thin-cut pork chops. I showed you ~ The Art of Frying the Perfect "Skinny" Pork Chop ~, then, I made a Southern classic ~ Smothered with Love: Pork Chops w/Onion Gravy ~. You can read both by clicking on the Related Article links below. I have purposefully saved my best for last: Iberico...... View full recipe for "~ Pan-Seared Spanish Iberico Pork Secreto (Secret)~"

10/03/2013

~ Smothered with Love: Pork Chops w/Onion Gravy ~

Until 1986 I had never tasted real-deal Southern 'smothered' food. I knew that smothering was a cooking technique similar to braising. It basically/usually involves browning tough cuts of meat and/or root vegetables in fat (foods that require a lengthy cooking time to soften), adding some flavorful liquid and simmering over low heat until thickened and entire meal melts in your mouth. I knew this because by the time I was 30 years old, I'd been cooking long enough to have made smothered dishes with fancy names: Swiss steak (which isn't Swiss and comes from a tenderizing method called "swissing"), ossobucco...... View full recipe for "~ Smothered with Love: Pork Chops w/Onion Gravy ~"

09/26/2013

~ The Art of Frying the Perfect "Skinny" Pork Chop ~

If two words never seemingly belonged together in a phrase, they would be 'skinny' and 'pork chop' -- unless of course you grew up eating perfectly-cooked, 1/2"-thick, bone-in, pan-fried pork loin chops. I'm talking the 10-minutes-or-less to make pork chop. Golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside, and, moist, juicy and tender on the inside. Actually, I like mine a little pink in the center, which, makes mine the 8-minutes-or-less to make pork chop. All you do is: Fry 'em, pick 'em up by the bone and love each and every bite! When I was growing up, my dad...... View full recipe for "~ The Art of Frying the Perfect "Skinny" Pork Chop ~"

08/03/2013

~ Japanese 'Yakitori' (Skewered & Grilled Chicken) ~

Everyone loves to eat "food on a stick". "Kabbaba" is the ancient Aramaic word for "to char" or "to burn". Medieval Persian soldiers, who used their swords to grill their food over open fires in the field are credited with inventing "kabobs". Over time, every culture/cuisine developed its own time-honored, traditional method for skewering and cooking kabobs: the Greeks have their souvlaki, Peruvian anticucuos are awesome, and, satay is the national dish of Indonesia! Americans are no exception and we Americans love to grill, which is why Americans who love Japanese food love yakitori. Yakitori literally means "grilled chicken", with...... View full recipe for "~ Japanese 'Yakitori' (Skewered & Grilled Chicken) ~"