Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Rosie's Recipe -- Refrigerated Bread Pudding

I'll admit that I'm not a big white bread fan.  No, I'm not a food snob or into gluten free. I simply prefer the taste of whole wheat or multigrain breads because I find them more flavorful. So, when I discovered a half-consumed loaf of white bread in the back of my freezer, left behind by out of town guests, I thought what the heck. I was testing recipes for Rosie's Riveting Recipes, so why not use it in some of the recipes calling for white bread? This classic dessert is one that your grandmothers may have made, and it's delicious. One nice thing about many of these historic dessert recipes is that they're sweet, but not too sugar-laden.



   1 envelope plain gelatin
   2 cups milk
   1/2 cup light or dark corn syrup or 1/3 cup sugar
   1/4 teaspoon salt
   4 slices white bread (2 1/2 cups cubed)
   2 eggs, slightly beaten
   1 teaspoon vanilla
   nutmeg, if desired

Soften gelatin in 1/4 cup cold milk. Scald remaining milk with corn syrup (or sugar) and salt in double boiler. Add gelatin and stir until dissolved. Remove crusts and cut slices of bread into cubes. Pour hot milk slowly over beaten eggs, stirring constantly. Return to double boiler. Add bread cubes and cook until custard consistency, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and beat with rotary beater until frothy. Turn into one large (or individual molds) that have been rinsed in cold water first. Chill. When firm, un-mold and serve with cream or any sauce. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Modern adaptation: Be careful not boil the milk. The beaten eggs can be slowly added to the milk mixture in the double boiler, stirring constantly as directed in the original recipe, until they are well blended. To give the pudding a bolder flavor add 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 nutmeg with the vanilla. The pudding can also be poured into ramekins and served with whipped cream, cinnamon, or nutmeg on top, as suggested in the original recipe.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

It's All About Baby Steps

If you've ever seen the TV show, Worst Cooks in America, on The Food Network, then you probably feel for the contestants. I know I do. It's so obvious that they lack the skills and self-confidence to prepare the dishes they're being challenged to make. I've been cooking for most of my life, and some of the dishes I've seen on that show would be challenging for me as well. What's even worse is they take away their recipes and their notes from the chef's demos. I know, it's just a TV show produced for entertainment purposes, but this isn't how you teach people to cook.

Cooking and baking, like any other skill, takes time to master, so if you're teaching someone how to cook you start them out with the basics. When I first started learning how to cook no one expected me to prepare chicken cordon bleu. They expected me to make french toast.

I started out learning how to cook bacon, scrambled eggs and the aforementioned french toast. Then I learned how to make hash browns. Yes, there is a pattern here. Traditional American breakfast foods are some of the easiest dishes to prepare, making them the perfect starting place for teaching a novice how to cook. And because it's hard to mess up scrambled eggs, their confidence grows. Beginners can start learning basic knife skills by learning how to prepare salads. I'm no Hamburger Helper fan, but it's a good place to teach a beginner how to follow a recipe and it's pretty much goof-proof. As the novice's self-confidence grows they can learn more complex recipes, such as beef stew, chili con carne, beef stroganoff, and so on.

The same approach applies when teaching someone how to bake. My mother started me with cake mixes and canned icing. From there I worked my way up to the cookie recipes on the back of the chocolate chip packages. Then I learned how to make casseroles. It's all about baby steps. 

Cooking is a life skill. We all have to eat, which means we all need to learn basic food preparation. Not everyone will become a chef, or even a great cook, but anyone can learn how to make simple dishes, such scrambled eggs, french toast, or a grilled cheese sandwich.


Monday, July 23, 2018

White Chicken Chili

© Can Stock Photo / roxanabalint

I love making chili con carne. It's one of my favorite comfort but sometimes it’s nice to take a break and try a different variation. This dish takes about the same prep time as regular chili, and it’s delicious.

White Chicken Chili

1 to 1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breasts or chicken tenders, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup chicken broth
1 small can chopped green chilies (4 oz)
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cans cannellini beans
2 tbsp corn starch
1/4 cup water
1 cup Monterey jack cheese
1 chopped jalapeno (optional)

Place olive oil in a 4-quart stockpot and cook the chicken, onions, and garlic. Once chicken is cooked all the way through add chicken broth, green chilies, beans and seasonings. Place cornstarch in a small bowl, mix thoroughly with water. Pour into the chili and bring it to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Top each serving with cheese and add chopped jalapeno, if desired. Goes nicely with cornbread on the side.

Variations: For a hotter chili, add the cayenne pepper. For a sweeter chili, substitute 1 can of corn for 1 can of cannellini beans.