A CookBook Recipes & Other Stuff or How to Keep the Kids from Developing Beriberi After They've Moved Away From Home

Friday, July 28, 2006

Oatmeal Bread

I just had an urge for bread - and this seemed like a good idea ... mostly because I had all this stuff on hand. So I better write the recipe down before I forget what I did - it was just sort of thrown together, but it came out amazingly good - but then bread almost always does.

0.5 cups water ( for yeast)

2.0 cups water or milk (even better)

1 pkg. yeast

1.5 cups oatmeal

4 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon salt


Proof yeast in 0.5 cups water with 1 tablespoon sugar.

Pour 2 cups hot water/milk over oatmeal, butter, sugar, salt and gluten.

When yeast is proofed and butter is melted, and yeast to oatmeal mix.

Mix and add flour, knead.

Place in buttered bowl, cover and let rise til doubled.

Punch down, form into loaves, slash tops, and let rise covered by towel.

Glaze with egg wash.

Bake at 400F for 10 minutes, then lower to 350F and bake 30 minutes longer.

Let the loaves cool on rack - covering loaves with a towel (so the crust won't get too hard). Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 24, 2006

Chicken Pot Pie

Ok, I am now finally using my new-found skill as pie-maker and it seemed to work fine - as you can see I had a really large slice ...

2 cups chopped up cooked chicken

2 carrots

2 white potatoes

pastry for a 2 crust pie

anything else you might want to add - peas, celery ... ( stuff like broccoli are too strong, but I suppose you could do a chicken and broccoli one with a light cheese sauce - maybe I should try that some time)

Veloute sauce made with chicken broth (this should be a bit thicker than usual - or you could cheat like Chris and use a can of cream of chicken soup)

Cook the veggies, cut them up, and mix with the chicken. Pour it all in the pie crust, put the top crust on and bake at 400F for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Like Oil and Water or How to Make Gravies and Sauces

The basic idea behind any sauce is the mixing of oils/fats and water - and keeping them mixed. The way to do this is to form an emulsion using some third element - here, I'll only deal with using flour - but other things can be used - like eggs (for hollandaise and mayonnaise).

Since flour tends to get lumpy when mixed with water, the best way is to mix the flour with the fat first and blend them together well - which is easier when the fat is in liquid form. Then the water ( or any liquid ) can be added and the resulting mixture heated to allow the flour to thicken it.


I think what makes gravy hard for people is that there are no recipes for it - the amounts are not absolute - but after all, this is cooking - not a chemistry experiment. You'll have to learn to judge how much gravy you can obtain from any given roast - mostly by the amount of brown stuff remaining in the pan

If you've roasted something and want to make gravy - I suppose that is what gravy is - a sauce made from the stuff leftover in the pan when the roast is removed - first pour off all the fat into a heatproof container. Now all the stuff you've poured off may not be fat - some may be juices from the meat - in other words - water! So cool the fat a bit and see if the fat rises to the top and skim it off - water in the fat will make your gravy lumpy. Save the broth remaining on the bottom to use as liquid for the gravy.

Take the fat you've recovered (if you've gotten a really large amount of fat - like 2 cups - don't use all of it) and add an equal amount of flour. Stir to make a paste like mixture.

Now there are two ways to go from here - either should be fine because you'll get an emulsion either way. You can first deglaze the pan with some liquid - this means adding some liquid to the pan, heating it to boiling and then scraping up all that brown protein stuff which make the gravy a nice brown and adds the flavor. You can use some wine, milk, broth, or water, or a mixture of liquids. Then you can add the fat/flour paste and while stirring constantly - so it will emulsify evenly and then heat it to simmer until it thickens. If it seems to get too thick - add a bit more liquid. Conversely, if it's too thin, add more of the paste. Season to taste and you're all done!

Some people add the oil/flour paste to the pan first - they believe it takes away a certain floury taste if the flour cooks a bit before adding the liquid (but if you burn the flour it will taste bad and the flour won't thicken the gravy as well). If you're careful - I doubt it matters much which you do first - so do whatever makes you happy ...

While you're practicing making gravy you should keep a jar of store bought gravy on hand - add some wine and a few herbs - most people won't ever know the difference ( but I will ).

Veloute/Bechamel/Cheese Sauce

These are really all the same thing - cooking can be a bit redundant - so if you can do one, you can do them all. They are much easier than gravy because you actually have a set amount of things to add - and you don't have to deal with an awkward size roasting pan on top of your stove - you can use a nice saucepan.

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup broth (for veloute) milk ( for bechamel or cheese)

Melt butter in pan.

Add flour and mix with a whisk til smooth.

Pour in liquid slowly while whisking.

Keep whisking and bring to a boil to thicken.

For cheese sauce add a few handfuls of whatever cheese you like.

For a thicker sauce use 3 talblespoons each butter/flour, for thinner, 1 tablespoon of each.

Cook for a bit and adjust seasoning ( this means add spices and herbs or whatever, but carefully - carefully because you can't take out stuff you've put in - so do it a little and taste after each addition).

When you've mastered all this you can make all kinds of intricate stuff - like canneloni, chicken croquettes, macaroni and cheese, Christmas dinner and I can let you cook dinner and your kitchen will be a mess instead of mine ....


Pie Crust - The Anti-Bread

Pie crust has been the bane of my life as a cook - I can never make it come out the way I like. So I researched a bit, and found that it must be because I am really good at making bread ...

It turns out bread is quite the opposite of pie crust (you can see my recipe for blueberry muffins for a discussion of gluten). Pie crust needs as little gluten formation as possible - therefore it needs soft flour and acid and sugar ...

So now that I am well-informed - I'll attempt pie crust one more time. Hopefully this time I'll get it right - ot I'll retire as a pie crust maker and leave it all to Mrs. Smith ...

1.5 cups cake flour

1.5 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

0.25 teaspoons baking powder

1 stick butter

10 tablespoons shortening

egg yolk

2 teaspoons white vinegar

3 ice cubes

0.5 cups cold water

Measure butter and shortening and freeze for 10 minutes

Put Flours, sugar, salt and baking powder in a bowl and mix.

Grate half the shortening and butter into the flour and mix

Grate the other half and mix until it looks like little peas (Do Not Overmix!)

Mix egg yolk and vinegar together, add ice cubes and water - let this chill a bit

Sprinkle 4 - 5 tablespoons of egg/water/vinegar stuff over the flour, mixing with a fork

When it holds together - not too wet - wrap in plastic and chill in fridge - or freeze til later

Remove from fridge (another useless instruction - like you're really going to roll it out in the fridge) and divide in half and roll out 2 circles on a floured surface.

Fold in half and place in a pie pan - the dough should be at least 1.5 - 2 inches larger around than the pan. Trim, tuck top crust under bottom crust, flute, and fill and cook!

Note to Self: Yeah!!! this recipe is exactly what I was hoping it would be ... flaky and crumbly - but it doesn't need the baking powder. The recipe makes enough for a two crust pie. The freezing of the shortening and butter and grating them alternately works perfectly - I am now a pie maker ...

Roast Chicken and Stuffing

Roasting things is a very simple process - but often simple is good. So why do we need a recipe for roasting? Actually we don't - just stick the thing in the oven and wait til it's done ... So why am I writing a recipe for roasting chicken? Actually because some people haven't ever done it and may be hesitant to try and because a roast chicken is a gateway to all sorts of good things to eat.

1 Chicken



Preheat oven to 400F. Rinse chicken in cold water, inside and out. Dry the chicken and place it in a heavy metal roasting pan. The pan should be thick enough so you can scrap the bottom afterward in order to make gravy - if you aren't planning to make gravy you can cook the chicken in a thin aluminum pan. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and stuff it if you like (but it will take longer to cook stuffed). Place in oven and let it cook about 1.5 - 2 hours.

You can, of course, do all sorts of things to the chicken - baste it with some sort of sauce, season it inside and out wih various spices - whatever.

A Clunky Stuffing

If you're lazy and don't have any Pepperigde Farm available - this will work:

Some cubed leftover bread (not of the Wonderbread type)

1 or 2 eggs


Salt & Pepper



Oil or Butter

Chop up the celery and onion (about the same amount as you have bread - or less - whatever you want - this isn't one of those it really matters recipes). Saute them in a little oil/butter until they are a bit soft.

Add the onions and celery to the bread with salt, pepper and thyme and toss a bit to mix. Add the eggs (beaten first) - one at a time, until it all sticks together. Stuff it into the chicken and roast chicken as usual.

You can add an infinite variety of things to this recipe - green peppers are nice, so are apples ( but not together) - or mushrooms, nuts, raisins ....