Country Cook News – March 27, 2015

Hi Everyone!

MARCH CONTEST QUESTION OF THE MONTH
Italians drink lattes and mochas nearly every day, just like Americans. True or False

Send your answer to books@porkchopsandapplesauce.net to win a signed copy of any one of my books. Here’s a link to my Books page to choose the books you can win (scroll down to see the complete selection).

Congratulations to Cheryl King of Humble, Texas, who correctly answered the January question: does an egg have more food value if its yolk is a deeper gold color rather than light yellow? The answer is no. Cheryl is a cookbook collector and said Pork Chops & Applesauce adds another interesting book to her collection.

Karen Stone, of Dallas, Texas, is our February winner. She correctly answered the February question: when a lime turns yellow and looks exactly like a lemon, does that mean it has turned into a lemon? The answer is no. Karen chose Chicken Soup for the Soul: Finding My Faith as her prize.

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Lasagna, Green Chili Chicken3

RECIPE OF THE MONTH

A chef at an Italian Restaurant in southern New Mexico swore me to secrecy about the origin of Green Chile Chicken Lasagna. I have, however, sliced it, diced it, and switched-up the ingredients to the point that it’s probably safe to share the recipe with others. Dinner doesn’t get much better when you serve this lasagna with a tossed green salad and chilled white wine.

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STUFFED ZUCCHINI BOATS

Stuffed Zucchini Boats create an impressive presentation with a mouthwatering bundle of flavors that are too tempting to resist – even for zucchini skeptics.

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Italy, Italian Cuisine 3-2015

BLOG OF THE MONTH

I’ve chosen Silvia’s Cucina as the Blog of the Month. It’s a blog that’s full-blown Italian and it makes me feel like I’m dining in an Italian restaurant…in Tuscany or Milan!

Sylvia’s major food and cooking categories are Pasta with Oven Roasted Vegetables, Rice, Soup and preserves touts Leek Potato and Cannellini Beans Soup,  and Sides and light dishes offer Panzanella Bread SaladChicken Sausage and Pumpkin Bake from the Meat, fish and vegetarian second courses category and Pizza, breads and other starchy goods look divine with Spelt and Oats No-Knead Bread.  Sweets, cakes, candy and all things naughty and nice are in a category all their own with my personal choice Walnut Dark Chocolate and Honey Flourless Cake, which deserves an OMG dessert award as the Italian decadent delight.

While you’re taking a peek at Sylvia’s Cucina, check out her first cookbook, which is simply titled, Sylvia’s Cucina by Sylvia Colloca. Before you know it, you’ll be planning your next Italian dinner party.

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ITALIAN FOOD ANYONE?

Twelve of the best chain Italian Restaurants rated by Kitchen Daily. See if your favorite Italian eatery is on the top 10 list.

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ITALIAN STALLION SALAD

Add pizzazz to your next dinner party by serving my Wild Italian Stallion Salad. It’s much like, what today we’d call a Chopped Salad.  Shoot me an e-mail at books@porkchopsandapplesauce.net requesting a copy of the recipe and I’ll be glad to send it to you. The story accompanying the salad is about the Italian Stallion, Progressive and Caveman dinner parties we had back in the 70s. If you have a copy of Pork Chops & Applesauce the story and recipe is on page 29.

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Cupcake, Dusted w Powdered Sugar

CB’S KITCHEN TIP

Dress up cakes, cupcakes or desserts by putting cocoa powder or powdered sugar in a fine sieve and then gently shake it to dust tops of baked goods. A doily helps to make a pretty design but, as seen above, it’s not necessary to add a light and pretty touch.

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PERFECT PASTA

How many of these things do you do with pasta and sauce?

Watch a video on how to cook pasta properly.

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rose cake

ROSE CAKE

In this video, learn how to make an Italian Rose Cake. It’s called a Rose Cake because after it’s baked, it looks like a bouquet of roses. This is not something one could whip up in a short amount of time but it certainly looks well worth the effort to treat your guests to an Italian influenced dessert.

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ITALIAN CULTURE CUSTOMS & TRADITIONS

An interesting excerpt about eating habits in Italy: Another thing you might find different (from the U.S.) is the time we have meals. We have breakfast around 7 AM and we have a different coffee from yours, the famous espresso (not lattes or mochas), and yogurt or milk with cereals or a fruit. Lunch is around 1 PM that includes pasta and dinner around 8-9 PM without pasta. - Read the full Q & A: Italian Culture Customs & Traditions

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SPRING QUOTE

Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush. ~Doug Larson

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Italy, Coffee Cup w I Love Italy Written in Foam

ASK CYNTHIA A QUESTION – March 25, 2015

Joleene asked: What is the most interesting food or custom you found when you traveled to Italy?

CB’s answer: I’ve not been to Italy, although I hope to go some day, so I can’t answer you from personal experiences. I did ask a few friends who have traveled Italy.

Bunny said it was intriguing to her that people don’t linger at the coffee bars the way we might at Starbucks. While their espresso is brewing they talk ninety miles per hour to each other, then they shoot down their espresso (not usually a latte or mocha like us) and then they’re off. She said, “It’s really funny, totally different than what I expected at Italian coffee bars.”

Lynda said, “They eat fresh. Everything is fresh, not much commercially processed foods as we do here in the states. In addition, a dinner reservation is for the entire evening, they don’t turn tables like we often experience. The check won’t come until it’s asked for.”

Jim found it interesting that most restaurants are family owned, and the waiters are usually part of the family. Being a waiter is their career not a summer job for a student as we’re accustomed to here in the states.

All three said the predominance of seafood and fish in the coastal areas was surprising, as we don’t often associate fish with Italian cuisine. All three said, “The pizza is fabulous…it’s thin crust and made simply with few ingredients; and the Italian breads and bakeries are fantastic.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to buy a one-way ticket…Thank you, Joleen, for your question.

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Next month “Old-Fashion Recipes” is the theme in Country Cook News. Expect a visit back in time with Grandmother’s Jell-O salads, Mom’s 50s meatloaf and Aunt Von’s sticky buns.

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If you enjoy this blog, please share it with your friends. Thanks!

CB

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Green Chilie Chicken Lasagna

I’ve been known to finagle recipes out of a few restaurant chefs, but it’s not an easy task. Most chefs guard their recipes and aren’t too keen on sharing.

A few years back, however, at a small Italian restaurant in southern New Mexico, I hit it big with a recipe for the chef’s signature dish for Green Chile Chicken Lasagna. Initially the chef said no but then he weakened and met me halfway with the ingredient list.

He swore me to secrecy as to its origin, but with the passing years, I’ve sliced it, diced it, and used convenient ingredients to the point that it’s probably safe to share the recipe with others. Dinner doesn’t get much better when you serve this lasagna with a tossed green salad and chilled white wine.

Lasagna, Green Chili Chicken3Green Chile Chicken Lasagna

2-15 ounce jars Classico 4-cheese Alfredo, or Classico Alfredo with Sun-dried Tomato
2-16 ounce boxes oven-ready lasagna sheets
3 to 4 cups chicken breasts, poached or grilled without seasoning, diced
1-16 ounce container ricotta cheese
1-16 to 24 ounce bag shredded mozzarella cheese, (reserve 1 to 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups diced green chilies, canned or fresh roasted
Sliced olives, optional
Mushrooms, cooked and drained, optional
2 cups chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9”x13” lasagna pan with cooking spray. Begin layering the lasagna in the pan with enough Alfredo sauce to coat bottom of pan. Cover Alfredo with dry lasagna noodles; then layer one-third of the chicken, ricotta, mozzarella cheese and green chilies. There should be enough ingredients to make 3-layers. Sliced olives and mushrooms folded into the layers are optional.

With layered ingredients in place, gently pour chicken broth over the completed pan of lasagna layers (it may not require the full 2 cups). Top with reserved mozzarella cheese. Cover tightly with foil around edges of pan but loose in the center so cheese doesn’t peel off onto the foil when it’s removed (creating a tent with the foil is ideal).

Bake for about 25 minutes; remove the foil and bake for an additional 20-40 minutes, depending on your oven. I often bake it for nearly an hour. If it begins to dry out on top, and it’s still not done in the center, place an aluminum foil tent over it until the noodles are soft and have absorbed most of the liquid.  When the noodles have absorbed the moisture and the cheese melted, the lasagna is ready to eat. Remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for about 10 to 15 minutes before cutting it so pieces will hold their shape. Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Cook’s Note: The original way of making this lasagna was to use the 4-cheese Classico Alfredo, then I discovered it was good, too, with a hint of sun-dried tomato so I used the Classico Alfredo with Sun-dried Tomato, which gives it a touch more pizzazz and blends well with the chilies. Either Alfredo is delicious. All the ingredients in this recipe are adjustable to your family’s taste. Enjoy!

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Dress up Cakes, Cupcakes or Desserts

Cupcake, Dusted w Powdered Sugar

Dress up cakes, cupcakes or desserts by putting cocoa powder or powdered sugar in a fine sieve and then gently shake it to dust tops of baked goods. A doily helps to make a pretty design but, as seen above, it’s not necessary to add an extra special touch.

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Ask Cynthia a Question – March 23, 2015

Italy, Coffee Cup w I Love Italy Written in Foam

Joleene asked: What is the most interesting food or custom you found when you traveled to Italy?

CB’s answer: I’ve not been to Italy, although I hope to go some day, so I can’t answer you from personal experiences. I did ask a few friends who have traveled Italy.

Bunny said it was intriguing to her that people don’t linger at the coffee bars the way we might at Starbucks. While their espresso is brewing they talk ninety miles per hour to each other, then they shoot down their espresso (not usually a latte or mocha like us) and then they’re off. She said, “It’s really funny, totally different than what I expected at Italian coffee bars.”

Lynda said, “They eat fresh. Everything is fresh, not much commercially processed foods as we do here in the states. In addition, a dinner reservation is for the entire evening, they don’t turn tables like we often experience. The check won’t come until it’s asked for.”

Jim found it interesting that most restaurants are family owned, and the waiters are usually part of the family. Being a waiter is their career not a summer job for a student as we’re accustomed to here in the states.

All three said the predominance of seafood and fish in the coastal areas was surprising, as we don’t often associate fish with Italian cuisine. All three said, “The pizza is fabulous…it’s thin crust and made simply with few ingredients; and the Italian breads and bakeries are fantastic.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to buy a one-way ticket…Thank you, Joleen, for your question.

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Garlic Lime Chicken

Chicken, Garlic Lime, Grilled on SkewersGarlic Lime Chicken is a recipe that says goodbye to winter and hello to warm weather and sunshine.

My friend, Peggy, who now lives in Idaho, sent me this recipe. When Peggy and I lived near each other in Carlsbad, NM, we often shared in the festive cheer of a margarita (or two). Although we’re now separated by many miles we still enjoy our mutual love of fresh, juicy limes by making this zesty dish. We prepare it year-round using chicken breasts, chicken kabobs, or raw shrimp.

Peggy and I both consider this recipe a “keeper” because, not only is it scrumptious to eat, it also uses ingredients we always have on hand, and thankfully, our hubbies are always ready to fire-up the grill whether the sun is shining in Houston or the snow is a foot deep in Idaho.

GARLIC LIME CHICKEN

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup fresh limejuice
1-tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
4 boneless (1 pound), skinless chicken breasts (or chicken cut into cubes for kabobs, as shown) or 1 pound raw peeled shrimp

In a marinating bag, combine first six ingredients. Add chicken breasts to marinade then seal and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove chicken breasts from the marinade and discard (marinade is especially good when cooked and used as a sauce). Place chicken on upper grill and slow cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Allow chicken to rest for 5 to 6 minutes before serving (grill for less time if making kabobs or shrimp).

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

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Making Pea Soup Less Salty

pea-soup

If pea soup gets too salty, add a potato and cook it for a while to absorb some of the excess salt. Discard the potato before puréeing. This works with any bean soup.

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Ask Cynthia a Question – February 23, 2015

limes-and-lemons

Dorothy asked: Are limes and lemons interchangeable in recipes?

My answer: In most recipes, it is acceptable to exchange lemons and limes. In all baking, cooking, dipping sauces, etc. using one in place of the other works fine. I wouldn’t however make a lemon margarita, a gin & lemon or squeeze lemon juice over Mexican or Thai food that clearly needs to be made with limes.

I have a refrigerator pie recipe that can be made with lemons or limes and it’s especially tasty made with half of each or what would be called Limon. Lime bars are every bit as delicious as lemon bars. Another note about limes is that when limes turn yellow they don’t become lemons, as some might think. A yellow lime is just a very ripe lime, although it looks exactly like a lemon and the difference in taste is ever so slight.

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