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Kitchen Corner

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  • E-mail: pamelab@lodinews.com
  • Local foodies share their recipes, tips and experiences in the kitchen.
Tuesday 04/08/2014
A step by step process to preparing a fish meal

I enjoy eating fish but I do not really like really fishy tasting fish. I have found one of my new favorite types of fish to cook at home. It is called Rockfish. It is meaty, comes boneless and the taste is mild.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 9:39 am. Comments (0)

Monday 04/07/2014
Straw patch Easter grass satisfies the sweet tooth

For any vegan with a sweet tooth, try straw patch Easter grass. I adapted this recipe from the back of a box of Shredded Wheat. With a few vegan friendly changes, straw patch Easter grass was a hit at the last CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program) potluck. The table was laden with wonderful vegan dishes, and my straw patch Easter grass found its way to the dessert section.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, April 7, 2014 3:32 pm. Comments (1)

Tsoureki — A Greek Easter bread

While organizing my notes for this month’s blog, I came across one of many online recipes for Tsoureki (‘tsoo-REH-kee’), a traditional Greek Easter bread with one or more red-dyed eggs-which symbolize the blood of Christ-imbedded in the dough before baking. I had seen recipes for this bread many times but now I was intrigued enough to look into the history of this bread. I gained a deeper appreciation for the contributions of the ancient Greeks to bread.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, April 7, 2014 3:10 pm. Comments (0)

Catch of the day

My favorite component of my cooking passion is sharing recipes with others and teaching people how to be creative in their kitchen endeavors. In preparation for an upcoming class at Draeger’s Market in San Mateo, I was explaining to my girlfriend a fantastic way of cooking fish in parchment paper.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, April 7, 2014 3:03 pm. Comments (0)

Thursday 03/06/2014
The ultimate accompaniment to corned beef

A well constructed sauce can turn a good meal into a great one. The complimentary flavors of a great salsa to a taco, a hollandaise to eggs benedict or asparagus, or a port reduction to a grilled steak can “kick it up a notch” to make a meal memorable.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Thursday, March 6, 2014 2:38 pm. Comments (0)

Tuesday 03/04/2014
A St. Patrick's Day tradition

In my house, Irish Soda Bread is a tradition on St. Patrick’s Day and fond memories of Nana Bradley come to mind. Not a blood relative, Anne Bradley was a family friend who was Irish to the core. When I was a child, I remember visiting her in a studio apartment in Oakland.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 11:39 am. Comments (0)

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day by making shepherd's pie

I admit it: I am addicted to serious cooking and food-related shows. I only watch programs which go beyond the usual basics. One of these is Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Kitchen Nightmares’. I am aware that there is a script and a director, but listening to arrogant restaurant owners argue with this established chef about the hazards lurking in the walk-in, and how their unique menu is better than anything that Gordon has in mind, just cracks me up. Recently, I was inspired by an episode featuring a failing Irish pub and their dismal Shepherd’s Pie. Realizing that it was time to look into the domestic origins of this venerable classic, I started with pubs in general.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 11:16 am. Comments (0)

Try adding spinach into every meal of the day

Well I am on a Spinach kick — so I am sharing the amazing ideas and benefits with all of you!

Posted in Kitchencorner on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 11:05 am. Comments (0)

Tuesday 02/18/2014
Enjoy pan fried chicken cutlets with capers for a special dinner

Every year I try to come up with something good for Valentines Day. Sometimes its extravagant; sometimes low key. So I thought about a dinner I cooked up several years ago. This is a meal you can do ahead of time, as the chicken is the only thing cooked at the last minute. Everything else can be prepared ahead of time. Although the special day has passed, enjoy the food for another special evening.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 3:17 pm. Comments (0)

Tuesday 02/04/2014
An Italian chocolate kiss

Chocoholics everywhere should be grateful for the long-time secret kept between two friends. For out of a clandestine liaison one of the most delectable chocolates was born. The story of Giovanni Buitoni, heir to Perugina Chocolates and Luisa Spagnoli, a confectioner in his factory is a classic tale of romance. The two lovers exchanged passionate messages wrapped around handmade chocolates to express their loyalty and desire. Certainly more romantic and amorous than a modern-day text message, this edible method of communication became the forbearer of the legendary Baci (kisses) chocolate. Creamy dark chocolate surrounding a rich hazelnut center and crowned with a whole hazelnut, wrapped in silver foil with blue stars with a love note bearing a message in four languages, describing the wonderful and often tumultuous course of love is the creation attributed to Luisa Spagnoli. More than 90 years later, the tradition continues as Baci chocolates are still considered the ultimate love token proving that romance can indeed last forever.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 11:43 am. Comments (0)

Valentine's truffles

For years, Valentine’s Day meant elementary school parties, with cards for the kids to exchange and home-baked cookies or decorated cupcakes to share. Many times, I was notified at the very last minute that I needed to send 32 whatevers with one or both of the kids for a hastily and loosely organized class celebration. Adding to the fun was the fact that my middle child’s birthday is only three days before the holiday and I usually made a lame cake decorated with holiday M & M’s for the family get-together. Trooper that he is, he always thanked me for the effort. Now that he has children of his own, he prefers that I make him a giant birthday cookie because that’s what I make for the grandchildren. Silly me; why didn’t I think of that back then?

Posted in Kitchencorner on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 11:38 am. Comments (0)

For a healthy start, try quinoa

February is heart month. This year I decided to give my heart, as well as body, a Valentine’s Day gift and joined CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program.)

Posted in Kitchencorner on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 11:31 am. Comments (0)

Monday 01/06/2014
A super bowl of chili for the Super Bowl

Throughout January, leading up to that great American holiday, Super Bowl Sunday, many of us are glued to our televisions, watching the ferocious action of our country’s most popular sport. Making a pot of chili fits the occasion perfectly, being available to enjoy during commercials and at half-time. A fun Super Bowl party idea is host your own “Chili Cookoff” with guests bringing their favorite chili recipe, everyone sampling, then judging the entries, with a prize or trophy going to the big winner. Grilling sausages or hot dogs and using the chili as a topping is another super variation.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, January 6, 2014 4:12 pm. Comments (0)

Relax and make one pot meals

Now that Christmas and New Year’s celebrations are over, it’s time to take a deep breath and relax. One-pot meals are just the break that we need from all the cooking and baking of last month. The kitchen stays warm and steamy and smells so good. Soups, stews, crockpot roasts, chicken or pulled pork can simmer quietly while everyone is occupied elsewhere. When I’m home, I enjoy hanging out in the kitchen and keeping an eye on dishes that need a little more supervision but not a lot of effort. A good lentil soup is one such meal. I know people who think that lentils are either boring or nasty. The recipe I have used for years is one that is inspired by New Orleans, with bright flavors and is always a pleasant surprise to unenlightened lentil-haters. It never seems to last long enough to have for lunch the next day. The cream or half-and-half can be replaced by whole, or even non-fat milk but use less since the finished soup will be a little thinner. Either andouille or linguica sausage would be good alternatives to the bacon. Whether or not to puree’ is a matter of preference. Often, I do not in order to preserve the texture.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, January 6, 2014 10:11 am. Comments (0)

Unexpected guests call for a hearty meal

One New Year’s Day when I was a little girl, the doorbell rang. Curious, I stood behind my mother as she opened the door. Standing on the front porch five people were singing “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, January 6, 2014 10:01 am. Comments (0)

Monday 12/09/2013
Maryellen's perfect candy cane cookies

Fond memories of a cherished friend come full circle every time I see a candy cane cookie. My best friend, Maryellen, introduced me to this delightful Christmas favorite that has reigned supreme as the holiday cookie most requested by my family. Maryellen has been gone for over 25 years, but as Christmas baking commences, I remember how I learned to make candy cane cookies.   

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, December 9, 2013 10:33 am. Comments (0)

Potatoes Michelle makes an easy holiday or midweek dish

I am a huge fan of potatoes. In any form, except raw. I just can’t get enough of potatoes. With gravy, fried, baked, in soup, the list goes on. One of my particular favorites is a dish that my mother would make for company that I still get the jitters for — a creamy, cheesy comforting casserole that works well for holiday meals (especially if there are going to be a lot of guests and the thought of making 30 or more pounds of mashed potatoes causes panic) but tastes just as nice for a simpler midweek meal. Yes, there are one or two canned ingredients but in this instance, they work for the best. For a buffet or a potluck, this dish is easily doubled or tripled, as needed. Or, two casseroles may be prepared. A garnish that you might consider is crumbled cooked bacon — adding cubed ham or turkey would put it the main dish category. I give you:

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, December 9, 2013 10:27 am. Comments (0)

Monday 11/04/2013
A new way to enjoy sweet potatoes

I am not a fan of candied sweet potatoes or candied yams. I have been told, in no uncertain terms, that this is un-American. Not so. It’s perfectly reasonable to want my dinner separate from dessert. When my children were young, I could not bring myself to make this gloppy dish that is so beloved and expected by so many people at Thanksgiving. Fortunately, others in the family were glad to prepare plenty for everyone else. This concoction doesn’t even make sense; the way it was always served at our family gatherings was two large cans of ‘Candied Yams’, one whole box of brown sugar, a stick of margarine and as many miniature marshmallows as could be packed on top. It was then thrown in a hot oven and ignored until it was engulfed in flames. Once it was removed from the oven, the flames were extinguished and everyone dug right in. Seriously. Disgusting. The worst part was that the person who usually made this would bring the ingredients along and bake it in my oven. I did not look forward to chiseling the obsidian-like residue that had bubbled over onto the bottom of my oven the next day. I came to refer to it as “Thanksgiving – The Aftermath”.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, November 4, 2013 3:29 pm. Comments (0)

A simple sweet treat

Well the holidays are coming and sweets always seem to be some part of the menu. Here is a very simple sweet treat that I concocted yesterday

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, November 4, 2013 3:20 pm. Comments (0)

Remembering the first Thanksgiving with pilgrim salad

The house is filled with the savory aroma of Thanksgiving Dinner. Roast turkey with stuffing and giblet gravy, mashed potatoes, candied yams, and green beans have been prepared. Fresh rolls are piping hot out of the oven. Relish plates laden with pickles, cream cheese stuffed celery, carrot sticks, and olives await hungry holiday guests. Prepared from scratch the day before, pumpkin, mince, and lemon meringue pies are on the counter. Each slice to be served with a dollop of whipped cream after the table is cleared and the meal settled in full tummies.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, November 4, 2013 3:21 pm. Comments (0)

Brining for a surefire best Thanksgiving turkey

At the center of most every Thanksgiving meal is the roast turkey. With all the effort required to pull off this most special meal, the last thing you want is the main course to be less than the best. Yet, many times, this glorious Thanksgiving bird can turn out dry and less than flavorful.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, November 4, 2013 3:18 pm. Comments (0)

Cranberry beans and comice pears

Hidden in dry and wrinkled pods, cranberry beans await to share their lovely pink speckles with the wise cook who appreciates their goodness. I found these Cranberry Beans at The Fruit Bowl in Stockton. I love to cook with dried beans and I know that just harvested dry beans are at their best. Cranberry beans, like most legumes are high in fiber and low in fat. Unfortunately, once cooked, they lose their white and crimson-flecked appearance and take on a more common, tan color. The taste is mild and so blends well with other ingredients. In Italy, their name is Borlotti and are used in Italian, Portuguese, Turkish, and Greek cooking.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, November 4, 2013 3:08 pm. Comments (0)

Tuesday 10/22/2013
A caesar salad with a twist

When I was considerably younger, my friend Jeff Litts invited me over for dinner one evening. His mother, was I was soon to find out, was a terrific cook. Babe Scaletta/Litts made this salad dressing that was (in the jargon of the day) outta sight! I had never had anything like it. Well from that point on, I just happened to be in their neighborhood around dinner time. Babe is no longer with us, but the recipe was passed on to me and from me to you. It is always a hit; similar to caesar salad, but much better! Be sure to make the dressing a day ahead. This recipe is enough for two salads.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 11:45 am. Comments (0)

Monday 10/07/2013
Sweet basil stardom

Last week the Pacific Italian Alliance of San Joaquin County celebrated Basilico at its annual Concorco di Cucina - Cooking Contest. A call for recipes was announced — the only requirement was the use of basil as an ingredient.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, October 7, 2013 4:04 pm. Comments (0)

Creamy clam chowder

When the days turn shorter and the air gets cooler, soups become a desirable part of our menu. Years ago, I got a basic recipe for Clam Chowder from a friend, and set out to improve upon it.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, October 7, 2013 3:25 pm. Comments (0)

An end of the garden tomato soup

Just the other day, I had a bowl of produce from the garden facing me. The tomatoes had been wiped out by bunnies, yielding only a couple dozen or so for the entire season. The zucchini and crookneck squash had been murdered by gophers.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, October 7, 2013 3:14 pm. Comments (0)

Tuesday 09/10/2013
Comfort in a simple Ragu

Well it is getting to be that time of year. We want comfort food, aromas in the kitchen and a meal that will fill us up and make us cozy and warm.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 4:23 pm. Comments (0)

Monday 09/09/2013
In praise of tomatillos

Like everyone else with a garden this year, we are blessed with an overabundance of fresh produce. This means giving away Armenian cucumbers, zucchini, and tomatillos. Curiously, no one seems to know what to do with the tomatillos.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, September 9, 2013 4:52 pm. Comments (0)

Bring on the bruschetta

At age four or five, while visiting friends of the family, I was introduced to bruschetta, the crunchy slices of grilled French bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, September 9, 2013 4:44 pm. Comments (0)

Tuesday 08/13/2013
My go-to vegetarian main course: eggplant parmesan

I must confess, I am a committed carnivore. So are my wife and kids. At the center of most meals we prepare are tasty meat dishes providing flavorful, satisfying proteins.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 12:03 pm. Comments (0)

Thursday 08/08/2013
A simple Potato dish to try with rib eye steak

Don’t you just love a recipe that’s simple to make, tastes great, and makes a great side dish for most anything? Anything that goes with a baked potato, goes great with this. And anyone who has ever dined at Giusti’s, knows a baked potato goes with everything.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Thursday, August 8, 2013 11:51 am. Comments (0)

Monday 08/05/2013
Not my mama’s fried zucchini

The memory of standing in the kitchen next to my mother, as I anxiously waited for a strip of piping hot fried zucchini, right out of the pan, still makes my mouth water. As a child, I was not a veggie lover; however, fried zucchini was the exception.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, August 5, 2013 1:40 pm. Comments (0)

Gazpacho meets ceviche

Too often during the summer months, many of us find ourselves picking up fast food or eating out in an air-conditioned restaurant when the weather turns hot and nasty.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, August 5, 2013 1:23 pm. Comments (0)

A priceless heirloom of baciccia beans

Passed from my grandfather to my dad to my husband, three generations, a true heirloom, a priceless gift — no, not a gold watch, silver coins or a diamond tie clip but baciccia bean seeds.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Monday, August 5, 2013 1:18 pm. Comments (0)

Tuesday 07/09/2013
Enjoy summer with some tapenade

It's summertime. How about some tapenade, nice crunchy french bread toasts topped with yummy goodness. Open a bottle of Lodi wine or a chilled glass of beer and sit and enjoy the Season. I love this time of year!

Posted in Kitchencorner on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 4:22 pm. Comments (0)

Wednesday 07/03/2013
A unique summer treat: Stuffed squash blossoms

Growing squash is a staple of most home gardens. Whether summer variety, like zucchini and yellow, or winter, such as acorn or butternut, squash grows so prolifically here in the Valley that often the gardener has more than one household can consume or even give away.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Wednesday, July 3, 2013 9:25 am. Comments (0)

Corn off the cob

Put a large pot of water to boil on the stove. Go outside and pick some ripe corn. You will know it’s ripe because the silky tassel will feel dry and be brownish in color. The top ear of the plant is the first to ripen.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Wednesday, July 3, 2013 9:23 am. Comments (0)

The corn challenge

Enjoying a delicious ear of corn on the cob is one of my favorite treats. For decades, a carefully calculated corn eating system has crowned me the corn eating champion in my family. My corn eating technique leaves my corncob clean as a whistle. The secret is to use the bottom teeth only. My time tested skill is as follows:

Posted in Kitchencorner on Wednesday, July 3, 2013 9:18 am. Comments (0)

Summer peach treats

This past month, I happened to make it to the Lodi Farmer’s Market one Thursday where I picked up a few delicious, juicy peaches. Peaches happen to be one of my favorite summer fruits, as there are so many different ways to eat them.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Wednesday, July 3, 2013 9:20 am. Comments (1)

Asian cuisine makes for tasty meals

When I’m trying to plan meals for the week, it can be challenging to have ingredients on hand that adapt easily to sudden menu changes when the weather does an about-face.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Wednesday, July 3, 2013 9:07 am. Comments (0)

Tuesday 06/04/2013
A hummingbird inspired pie

A few weeks ago, a hummingbird became a frequent visitor to my backyard. The garden area is sheltered with a latticed patio cover, is cool, quiet, and peaceful. Dotted with ferns, palms, yuccas, and a few hanging baskets for a touch of color, the garden is the perfect place for several wind chimes that easily catch a breeze adding a pleasant melody to the tropical ambiance.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 11:23 am. Comments (0)

Memories of the ice cream truck

Actually I don’t have any, beyond the sound of the music coming up our street in the summer. This is because my mother had a certain amount of suspicion regarding the sanitary conditions of said truck. Instead, she preferred to make frozen treats that contained ingredients she approved of.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 11:21 am. Comments (0)

An abundance of peas and cherries

Growing up, most of our produce came from the backyard. My mother would only buy bananas if they were less than 5 cents a pound, otherwise we ate fresh fruit and veggies in the summer and home-canned fruit and home-frozen veggies in the winter. I continue this tradition for my family when I can, by serving home-grown fruits and veggies, canning peaches with my girlfriend and cooking seasonal foods whenever possible.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 11:17 am. Comments (0)

Thursday 05/09/2013
A delightful strawberry syrup

This recipe will be wonderful over waffles, pancakes or crepes with fresh berries folded inside with some whip cream. Strawberries and chocolate are always great so take a peeler and peel strips of chocolate from a bar and then use them for an added touch.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Thursday, May 9, 2013 8:35 am. Comments (0)

Friday 05/03/2013
Coleslaw with a crunch and punch

Summer is on the horizon, and with it comes summer food. Every weekend warrior needs a few sides in their quiver that go along with the sweet and smoky offerings of barbeque.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Friday, May 3, 2013 11:24 am. Comments (0)

Learning to cook awesome ribs

Years ago, an elderly gentleman asked to speak with me in private. Grant had in his hands a folder containing 100 or so recipes, handwritten by his recently deceased wife. He spoke with tears in his eyes of her great love of cooking and the awesome dishes she prepared for them and others through the years.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Friday, May 3, 2013 11:22 am. Comments (0)

A meatloaf with a touch of sweetness

Craving meatloaf, I decided to look online for a change from my usual ‘go to’ recipe. Keying in meatloaf, I was shocked when 8,978 hits popped up on the computer screen. Then I realized I was on Amazon.com not Google. Curious, I scrolled down and found “The Great American Meatloaf Contest Cookbook: Great Meatloaf Recipes by Great American Cooks;” “Everybody Loves Meatloaf: More Than 100 Recipes for Loaves and Fixings” and “Fast N Simple Meatloaf Recipes.”

Posted in Kitchencorner on Friday, May 3, 2013 11:06 am. Comments (0)

Enjoy fresh strawberries in a gluten-free cheesecake

This past week, I saw my first strawberry stand open for business. Of course I had to stop and get a few baskets — some to eat and the rest to create with. From the taste of this first batch of berries, I do believe we are in for a treat this year. These strawberries were sweet, juicy and ripe, which made them perfect for homemade parfaits using vanilla yogurt and Udi’s gluten free granola. I also ate plenty of them on their own, but the best way to eat them is on top of a yummy gluten free cheesecake.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Friday, May 3, 2013 10:58 am. Comments (0)

Around the globe in three ways

Funny how a few cooking conversations with friends will cause me to launch into a culinary adventure. The other day my friend called and asked what to do with the liquid that was leftover from slow-cooking artichokes. She knows I am great at using leftovers but I told her to throw it away thinking it could have a bitter taste.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Friday, May 3, 2013 11:02 am. Comments (0)

Not your average strawberry

Last July, the News-Sentinel reprinted an article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about a Georgia woman, Lauri Jo Bennett, who had capitalized on her talent for making fruit and pepper jellies by selling them online.

Posted in Kitchencorner on Friday, May 3, 2013 10:50 am. Comments (0)

Popular Stories

Poll

Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

Total Votes: 80

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