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Recipes from Spike & Jamie

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Contents Disk 67

How to use these pages:  Below is a list of the recipes on this page.  You can either scroll down the page and look at all of the recipes, or look at the titles.  When you find one that seems interesting, use your web browsers FIND function to take you directly to that recipe (on my IE browser it's Edit/Find (on this page)   or Ctrl - F on your keyboard).





































































Unhired hand learns tricks from Spago Palo Alto sorcerers


Special to the Mercury News

Dicing tomatoes and celery, plating baby greens and asparagus salads, clarifying butter, making tuiles, pear charlottes, pot stickers, pizza, tortellini, tagliatelle and agnolotti, and finally learning how to pronounce ``gnocchi'' -- these were just a few of my learning experiences when Spago Palo Alto Executive Chef Michael French consented to allow me to ruin expensive ingredients as an unpaid trainee in his kitchen.

For 56 hours in August and September, he and his jovial executive sous chef, Jason Seibert, who has a happy face tattooed on the back of his left hand, gave me a peek behind the proverbial swinging kitchen door as a stagiaire, someone learning by doing. It was not my first time to do this sort of thing. But it had been several years since I'd volunteered my one-day-per-week services in the kitchens of Spago West Hollywood, Campanile and the now-shuttered Rex and Eureka in Los Angeles.

``Let me demonstrate dicing Roma tomatoes,'' Seibert said on my first day. A California Culinary Academy graduate who had once been a stagiaire in Norway, Germany and the Netherlands and later cooked at the Golden Door near San Diego, one of America's premier spas, Seibert had a few tricks up his sleeve.

I'd never diced this way before. Taking the whole tomato, he sliced around it in one long strip, separating the outer meat from the core in one piece. He then squared the edges, slicing the resulting rectangle lengthwise into julienne strips and finally slicing crosswise to create even little squares. He set aside the core for soups or stocks.

The task seemed a no-brainer the first time I tried it, once I traded my not-so-sharp chef's knife for Seibert's razor-edged cleaver. But when I tried the same feat on my second day on the job on tougher-skinned Romas than the previous week's, it took me the better part of two hours to fill a decidedly small container.

``If you were paying me $8 per hour, these tomato dices would have cost you nearly $16 in labor alone,'' I mused. ``If I were paying you $8 an hour, you would have finished that job in 15 minutes,'' Seibert responded. There's little room for hubris in a professional kitchen.

Dicing exercises continued when I helped Alexis ``Lexie'' Bernard, a California Culinary Academy extern, on the salad line by dicing celery stalks: First she peeled off the outer layer, then julienned and cross-cut each stalk into perfectly even dice.

Everything I did at first was too big, too small or too uneven. Bernard went through my first pile of celery, picked out what could be salvaged, and, with a pained expression, discarded the remainder. After mixing the supposedly good pieces in thoroughly with her own, it occurred to her to ask, ``Have you been peeling all your celery stalks?''

The look of horror that crossed my face soon crossed hers. Who would have thought a simple little celery stalk could hold within it the seeds of such deep shame?

Despite the inauspicious start, I warmed up to the tasks at hand, and soon Seibert had me join pasta maker Alberto Salgado, promoted from dishwasher less than a year ago, in making the agnolotti to be used on an elegant pasta special, truffled corn agnolotti with wilted arugula, roasted ricotta salata and sage-hazelnut brown butter sauce.

Considering how unusual the finished product looks -- a long cigarette of stuffed pasta -- the process turned out to be remarkably doable: Lay out a piece of rolled-out pasta dough on the work counter, use a pastry or pizza cutter to cut the dough evenly into 2-by-4-inch rectangles, brush them with beaten egg, then put one's filling of choice into a pastry bag and pipe out short lengths of filling in horizontal lines.

Next, Salgado folded the top border of each piece over to form a seal with the bottom border, and folded over each end again. Finally, he used the pasta cutter to trim off excess dough and cooked by boiling for about 3 minutes.

To the extent that I could do so without slowing down the work, I gabbed with the employees. After all, as in the entertainment and dot-com worlds, you can never tell where the person you're working next to might end up.

At Spago West Hollywood, Casey Hayden, then the pastry chef, went on to open the successful Casey's Bakery & Cafe in Sacramento last year.

At Campanile, I was once shucking oysters with a young line cook when he declared that he was deciding whether to attend the Oscars that year.

``I believe you have to be invited,'' I tactfully informed him.

``Hasn't anyone told you who I am?'' he replied. ``I'm Harrison Ford's son.''

Ben Ford has just opened his own well-received restaurant, the California/Mediterranean-themed Chadwick, in Beverly Hills.

To provide a taste of life in the perpetually manic display kitchen, executive chef French, a French-trained chef who was chosen by Wolfgang Puck to open Spago Palo Alto in 1997, assigned me to occasional stints on the line at the salad, pizza and saute stations.

Against a backdrop of cooks calling to the prep kitchen for ingredients, dishwashers belting out their favorite songs and various employees calling out their favorite sayings -- against this and more, an expediter calls out to the sous chef first to start a dish and later to fire it off, timed so all the dishes for any given table will come out of the kitchen simultaneously, followed by urgent calls for pick-up so that dishes arrive at the tables hot.

A few moments on the line might sound like:

``Green salad to the line!''

``Green salad to the line!''

``I've got a medium followed by a medium rare!''

``Two well and medium well!''

``We need more braising mix!''

``43 and 15!''

``Olive oil!''

``Volare, oh, oh!''

``Put some gremolata on the fish!''

``Snapper 2, pork chops 3, 43! 81 is ready! Special pasta with the veal chop 3! Stool 2 to the bar! Stool 2 to the bar! Chicken saute fire!''

``Sashimi shared 93! Six green salads, one split; that's five regular, one split!''

``Ohhhhh noooooo!''

``Pasta to the line!''

``Pasta a la línea!''

``Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!''

After a particularly raucous Sunday night of such non-stop activity, Seibert was just beginning to wind down, when a waiter came running up. ``Did you create tonight's tasting menu?''

``Yeeees,'' answered the exhausted chef, cautiously.

``Then table 41 wants to talk to you!''

``Uhhhhhhh, what about?''

``They've come for a lot of tasting menus before, but they think tonight's was awesome, and they want to thank you!''

``Oh!'' And suddenly Seibert, who has been known to lighten the prep kitchen mood by tying a towel around his face with parsnips sticking out of his head, is all business, receiving kudos on behalf of the entire kitchen staff.

And, ``gnocchi'' is pronounced NYOH-kee.


6 ounces dried apricots

2 cups hot water

6 medium sweet potatoes

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons butter or margarine -- melted

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

2 teaspoons orange juice

1 cup pecan halves

Combine apricots and hot water in a saucepan; let stand 1 hour. Cover and cook over low heat 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat; drain, reserving 1/4 cup liquid.

Cook sweet potatoes in boiling water 20 to 25 minutes or until tender. Let cool to touch; peel and cut into 1/2-inch slices.

Layer half the sweet potatoes, apricots, and brown sugar in a lightly greased 13- x 9- x 2-inch baking dish; repeat layers.

Combine reserved apricot liquid and next 3 ingredients, mixing well; pour over layers in casserole. Cover and bake at 375 degrees F. for 40 minutes. Top with pecans; bake 5 additional minutes. Yield: 10 servings.


1 medium pomegranate

2 medium, firm ripe bananas

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon maple or date sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt, optional

Cut pomegranate into quarters and twist each wedge to loosen seeds. Gentle shake, tap, scoop and coax seeds onto serving plate and arrange in neat mound in center.

Peel bananas and slice on diagonal into 1/4-inch rounds. Arrange in circle around pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle with lime juice, sugar and salt. Serve immediately.


1 cup brown rice

1 cup beer -- allowed to go flat

1-1/4 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup peanuts -- salted, coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt -- optional

Freshly ground black pepper -- to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place all ingredients in a 2-1/2-quart casserole dish lightly coated with cooking spray or oil. Cover and bake until all liquid is absorbed, about 1-1/4 hours. Yield: 4 servings.


2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup Hershey's Cocoa

5 eggs

1 cup oil

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup chopped nuts, optional

Mix above ingredients together, blending well. Pour into a 9x13 greased pan.

Sprinkle the top with chocolate chips. You can also use peanut butter chips, white chips, mint and toffee chips.. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Don't over-cook. Then dust with confectioner's sugar when cool. Cut into squares and enjoy


20 ounces frozen broccoli flowerets

2 cups frozen pearl onions

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash ground black pepper

3/4 cup milk

3 ounces cream cheese -- cut up

1/3 cup dry white wine

Toasted slivered almonds

Cook broccoli and onions in boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes; drain.

Melt butter; blend in flour, salt, and pepper. Add milk all at once; cook and stir until bubbly. Blend in cream cheese. Remove from heat; stir in wine. Fold in vegetables. Turn into 1-1/2 quart casserole. Bake, uncovered, in 350 degrees F. oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Sprinkle almonds over top. Yield: 8 servings.


2 cups sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

3/4 cup water

red food coloring

Prepared apples (washed, dried, and skewered)

Heat until sugar is dissolved. Tint with food coloring. Cook until it reaches hard crack stage (300°) Set syrup over boiling water and plunge prepared apples into syrup. Set to harden on greased cookie sheet, foil, or parchment paper. For caramel apples, I just use the melted Kraft caramels. Recipe on package.


By Martha Stewart

12 lady apples, washed and stemmed

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup dark corn syrup

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Insert a 5-inch dowel or popsicle stick into the top of each apple. Place hazelnuts in a small bowl. 2. Place sugar, corn syrup, cream, and butter in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking until the temperature registers 245° on a candy thermometer, 10 to 12 minutes. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Remove saucepan from heat, and briefly plunge it into ice water to stop the cooking. Dip one apple into the caramel, coat the top and sides using a spoon, and roll the bottom in the nuts. Transfer to a serving platter. Repeat with the remaining apples.


1/2 cup butter or margarine -- softened

8 ounces cream cheese -- softened

1-1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

1-1/2 teaspoons hot water

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans

Cream butter and cream cheese; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Dissolve coffee granules in hot water, and add to mixture.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; add to cream cheese mixture, mixing well. Stir in vanilla and chopped pecans.

Pour batter into greased 9-inch square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool and cut into squares. Yield: about 20 brownies


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 pounds skinless chicken legs and thighs

Salt and pepper

1 large onion, minced

1/4 cup pomegranate syrup (see note)

1 tablespoon sugar

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup ground walnuts

Heat the oil in a cast-iron dutch oven or other heavy pan. Season chicken with salt and pepper; brown and aside. Discard most of the oil. Brown the onion. Return the chicken to the pan. Add the pomegranate syrup and sugar. Stir to coat the chicken pieces. Add chicken stock and ground walnuts; stir to mix. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, until chicken is very tender. Stir well; sauce should be quite thick. Adjust seasoning with sugar or lemon juice if desired. Serve with rice or couscous. Makes 6 servings. Note: Pomegranate syrup can be purchased in Middle Eastern markets. To make your own, boil together 3 cups pomegranate juice, juice of 1 lemon, pinch of salt and 2 ounces liquid pectin. When mixture thickens, stir in 5 cups super-fine sugar and boil for 5 or 6 minutes.


1 t. unflavored gelatin

1 T cold water

2 T boiling water

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup whipping cream

1 t. vanilla

16 to 18 Dessert Crepes

(recipe follows)

Rich Cocoa Sauce

(recipe follows)

For Chocolate mousse, in small mixing bowl, sprinkle gelatin over cold water; let stand 1 minute to soften. Add boiling water; stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. Cool.

In large mixing bowl, stir together sugar and cocoa powder; add whipping cream and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on low speed until thickened, scraping bowl occasionally; add gelatin and stir until well mixed. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

Fold each crepe in half Pipe or spread about 1 1/2 T mousse onto each folded crepe; fold each crepe again. Drizzle sauce over crepes. Makes (16 to 18 crepes).

Dessert Crepes: Combine 2 beaten eggs. 1 1/2 cups milk, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 2 T. sugar, 1T. cooking oil, and 1/4 t. salt; beat until mixed. Heat a lightly greased 8-inch crepe pan; remove from heat. Spoon in 2 T. batter; tilt pan to spread batter. Return to heat; brown one side only. Invert over paper towels to remove crepe. Repeat, greasing pan as needed.

Rich Cocoa Sauce

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, and 2 T cornstarch. Gradually add 2/3 cup evaporated milk and 1 T butter. Cook until bubbly. Cook 1 minute more. Stir in 1 t. vanilla. Serve warm.


1 box (about 18 oz.) spice cake mix

1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Campbell's(r) Tomato Soup

1/2 cup water

2 eggs

1 medium carrot, shredded

1/2 cup raisins

1 cup confectioners' sugar

3 tbsp. apple juice

PREHEAT oven 350ºF. Place liners in 24 (2 1/2") muffin-pan cups.

MIX cake mix, soup, water and eggs according to package directions. Stir in carrot and raisins. Fill each muffin-pan cup almost full. BAKE 20 min. or until done. Cool completely. MIX sugar and juice. Frost cupcakes. Makes 24.


2 cans Campbell's(r) Cheddar Cheese Soup

1 1/2 cups milk

2 tbsp. Dijon-style mustard

1 1/2 cups frozen sugar snap peas

1 medium green or red pepper, diced

3 cups hot cooked elbow pasta

1/4 cup water

2 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted

4 cups Pepperidge Farm(r) Corn Bread Stuffing

MIX soup, milk, mustard, snap peas, pepper and pasta in 3-qt. shallow baking dish.

MIX water and butter. Add stuffing. Mix lightly. Sprinkle over soup mixture.

BAKE at 400°F. for 30 min. or until hot. Serves 6 as a main dish or 8 as a side dish.


1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 cups crisp rice cereal

1 (6-oz) pkg semisweet chocolate morsels

Cream butter; gradually add sugar, beating unto light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, beating well. Combine flour, soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture, beating well. Stir in the rice cereal and chocolate morsels.

Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 13 minutes. Cool slightly on cookie sheets; remove to wire racks. Yield: 3-1/2 dozen.


1 4-lb. chuck roast ( cut in 2" cubes)

1 medium onion (quartered)

1 can Cream of Mushroom soup

Dump all ingredients in crock pot . Cook on Low for about 8 to 10 hours, or on High for about 5 or 6 hours.


1 cup milk

1 cup water

11/2 tablespoons yeast

4 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Mix the milk and water and warm it (do not permit it to become hot). Add the yeast and stir until it is dissolved. Add the flour. Beat well for 5 minutes. Cover and leave in a warm place for 1 hour.

Dissolve the soda and salt in a teaspoon of warm water and add to the batter. Beat well. Cover and set in a warm place for 45 minutes to rise.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle to medium hot. Grease some crumpet rings (or egg rings) and place on the griddle to heat them. Spoon in enough batter to fill each ring halfway. Cook over medium heat until the top is set (the top will be dry and full of holes). Gently turn the crumpets over to allow the undersides to dry. When the crumpets have a light, golden color and are dry inside, place on a cooling rack and remove the rings. Serve immediately with butter, or use them later toasted and serve with butter and jam.


Everyone has a favorite recipe for potato salad. This variation includes tangy dill pickle and a bit of garlic. Serves 4-6.

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 green onions, chopped, including tops

1/2 cup sliced celery

1/2 cup sliced dill pickles

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Salt and pepper to taste


1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon flour

1/4 cup vinegar

2 teaspoons butter

1 clove garlic, minced

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup heavy cream, whipped

Boil potatoes in salted water. Cool; sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.

Dressing: Combine sugar, mustard, salt, and flour. In a small saucepan, heat vinegar with butter until butter melts; slowly add to flour mixture. Blend until very smooth. Add garlic.

Put the egg yolk in the top of a double boiler; stir in vinegar mixture. Place over hot--boiling--water and cook, stirring, until mixture thickens. Cool slightly; blend in whipped cream. While warm, pour over cubed potatoes.

Add onion, celery, dill pickle, and parsley. Toss to blend thoroughly, then chill.




(Published: Wednesday, November 01, 2000)

This advice is for all the home cooks who believe they must spend hours sweating over a hot stove to make Thanksgiving dinner:

It's OK to cheat. Really.

The world won't end if you:

Serve premade dinner rolls instead of making them from scratch.

Make a main dish other than turkey.

Buy a premade dessert, such as cake or a pie, and add your own sauce so it looks like you baked it yourself.

Buy a whole dinner and put it on your serving plates to make it look like you cooked it yourself.

It is OK to do all of those things. In fact, the advice comes from two local chefs, Mark Myrick of The Apricot Cafe in Patterson and Ernie Sanders of Wellington Station in Turlock.

Both agree that using shortcuts on what's probably the biggest and busiest cooking day of the year will make things much easier for harried home chefs. "Don't be embarrassed," says Sanders. "Everyone does it. Trying to get the whole thing done yourself is unreasonable."

Sanders and Myrick, who did cooking demonstrations at Modesto's Certified Farmers Market earlier this year, will make return visits Saturday to share that advice and more pre-Thanksgiving pointers and recipes.

This time, their demonstrations are part of what the farmers market organizers call the Farmers' Market Holiday Table.

As they have since spring, vendors will be on hand selling all kinds of wares -- produce, fresh and dried fruit, jams, nuts, breads, plants, flowers -- to help people prepare their holiday meals, organizer Carol Bogdanich says. But there will be a more festive atmosphere Saturday with face-painting, a clown and live music.

Myrick and Sanders will conduct their cooking demonstrations around 10 a.m.

Now back to the part about cheating and simplifying Thanksgiving. People believe that cooking lots of food is a must. Don't buy into that thinking, Myrick says.

"A lot of people have this expectation they must make 10 different things," Myrick says. "But really half will get eaten and half doesn't."

You can use shortcuts that won't hurt the quality and will make things easier.

Myrick removes the bones from his whole turkey before roasting. "Some people think that's sacrilegious," he says. "They want to see a whole turkey and have Dad carve it."

But a deboned bird takes half as much time to cook. The bones can be used to make stock.

Even Sanders has experienced the stress of trying to put together a big Thanksgiving meal for family. The biggest lesson he learned from his ordeal is one now often heard: Plan ahead.

"I strongly recommend people make as much as they can ahead of time." Vegetables can be blanched the day before then reheated just before serving, Sanders says.

Blanch by dipping the vegetables in boiling water. Remove from the hot water then immediately place in ice water to halt the cooking.

Sanders suggests smaller families who don't want to eat turkey sandwiches through Christmas consider -- gasp!-- making another main dish other than turkey.

One of his favorite, which is what he'll make at Saturday's market, is roast pork tenderloin with cranberry-apple chutney, which gives diners many of the elements they expect to eat on Thanksgiving.

"This is so easy to make," Sanders assures. "There are only two steps: brown the onions and throw everything else together."

Myrick will prepare harvest fruit turkey roulade, a dish that only requires turkey breasts and thighs instead of a whole bird.

He'll also make a dessert, cranberry, and apricot tartlets with brandy cream sauce.

Both are simple, he says. Especially the dessert. "You can buy the tart shells or make your own. You probably have to used canned apricots. And that's OK. "It's sweet and tart, and it's really good with ice cream," Myrick says.

Regardless of what your holiday dinner plan is, both say to remember one thing: Don't worry about impressing everyone. Just try to relax, have fun and enjoy yourself during the holiday.



2 (11/2 pounds total) long, slender Japanese eggplants

Olive oil

Pomegranate Sauce:

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (see note)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 small garlic clove, crushed with 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon sugar

11/2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 to 3 tablespoons shredded fresh mint, preferably spearmint

1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons fresh pomegranate seeds, optional

To prepare eggplants: Start preparation day before serving. Remove stem end from each eggplant. Slice on bias into 1/2-inch-thick ovals. Place slices on lightly oiled baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Bake at 425 degrees until golden brown, 12 minutes each side. Using spatula, transfer slices, overlapping slightly, to shallow serving dish.

To prepare Pomegranate Sauce: In small bowl, combine pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, garlic, sugar, olive oil and salt and blend well. Drizzle sauce over eggplant. Top with mint, parsley and pomegranate seeds. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand until ready to serve. Can be refrigerated overnight, but is best served at room temperature. Makes 6 servings. Note: Pomegranate molasses can be purchased in Middle Eastern markets. Unused pomegranate seeds will keep up to 1 year in sealed plastic food container in freezer.


1 can of Campbell's tomato soup

1/2 cup vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

3/4 cup salad oil--(I used half oil and half water)

1/2 cup sugar

2 cloves of garlic minced--can skip if you like

Mix all together and refrigerate. Shake before using. Makes 1 quart.


1 cup lukewarm water (you may need slightly


1 1/2 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. granulated sugar

2 tsp. yeast


Add ingredients to bread maker as directed by manufacturer. Use DOUGH setting. Separate dough into 8 equal balls. Let rise until doubled in size, approximately 20-25 minutes. Brush with egg white beaten with water, and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired. Bake at 350*F until lightly brown. YIELD: 10-12 rolls



2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup raisins

1 cup dried figs

1 cup pitted dates

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup butter

1 1/2 cups white sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 teaspoons milk

In a food processor or with the fine blade of a food grinder, process or grind raisins, figs, dates and walnuts. In a large mixing bowl beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs and beat well. In a mixing bowl stir together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Add flour mixture and beat until well mixed. Stir in ground fruit mixture. Divide dough in half; cover and chill several hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease cookie sheet. On a well floured surface roll dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut into rounds with a 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minute or until done. Cool on cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes, then remove and cool thoroughly on rack. Combine 1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon softened butter or margarine, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and enough milk (4-5 tsp) to make icing of drizzling consistency. Note: If desired, you could stick half a cherry on top after glazing, for a more festive appearance.


4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup shortening

2 cups packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2/3 cup milk

1 cup chopped pecans

2 cups dates, pitted and chopped

1 cup candied cherries, quartered

6 ounces candied mixed peel

1/2 cup red and green candied cherries, halved

Sift the flour, measure and sift it again with the baking soda and salt. Cream the shortening add the sugar and eggs. Beat until light and fluffy. Add the milk and flour mixture, mixing well. Stir in the nuts, dates, cherries and candied peel. Cover and chill dough for several hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Drop chilled dough by teaspoons, 2 inches apart, onto lightly greased baking sheets. Top each cookie with a half of a candied cherry. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes 8 dozen Note: I add a half cup extra of dates and candied cherries since no one in my family likes the flavor you get with mixed peel except me. Either way, you get a good cookie.


1 c Karo syrup, dark

1 c Sugar

1/4 t Salt

3 Eggs

1 Stick butter, melted

1 T Vanilla

1 c Pecans, whole

1 9" unbaked pastry shell

Combine in following order:

1. Mix syrup, sugar and salt together.

2. Beat in whole eggs

3. Stir in melted butter, vanilla, and pecans

4. Pour into unbaked pastry shell.

Bake 50 minutes at 350. Cool completely before cutting.


1 box white cake mix; Prepared according to box directions (may or may not be tinted

green for monster eyes)

1 can cherry pie filling; slightly blended in food processor

1 can of vanilla frosting

black frosting ( you can tint some of the vanilla black or use the tubes of colored icing)

1 tube of red decorating gel

large gum balls

Line muffin pan with cupcake liners, fill 1/3 full. Place several teaspoons of the cherry pie filling in center of cake mix. Top with more cake batter so that liner is 2/3 way full. Bake according to box directions. Frost smooth with vanilla icing. Place gum ball in center of cupcake. Pipe on small black circle in center of gum ball. Use red gel to make squiggle lines coming out from gum ball eyeball.


2 white cake mixes

1 can cherry pie filling;

2 -3 cans of vanilla frosting ( I actually prefer the betty crocker soft whipped cream


black food paste

Prepare one cake mix according to box directions and bake in a 9x13 cake pan. Then prepare and bake the second the cake mix also in a 9x13 cake pan. If you have a larger cake pan such as a 11x15 you could bake both mixes at once and cut the cake in half vertically. After cakes are completely cool stack the cakes on top of each other with a piece of wax paper between them on a covered cake board or serving tray. I place mine in the freezer at this point for about 30 minutes to make cutting easier. Then round one end of the cake with a serrated knife into a tombstone shape. Carefully remove the top

cake layer. On the remaining bottom layer Leave 1/2 inch border all the way around and gently remove about a 1/2 inch of the cake. Spread a thin layer of the vanilla frosting where you removed some of the cake. Fill with the cherry pie filling, it should fill but not overflow the cake layer.

Spread the top of the second cake with a very thin layer of frosting and turn over onto top of cherry filled cake. Tint the remaining icing with enough black food paste to make gray and ice top and sides of tombstone making sure to reserve 3/4 cup of the icing. With the reserved icing add more black paste (be careful too much paste and it causes a bitter taste) or I like to add cocoa powder for a funny brown/gray color. Place the icing in a re-sealable bag and clip corner. Use to write RIP or any other wording you want on the cake.


4 tsp. white shortening

2 tsp. white flour

3 1/2 Tbs. cornstarch


food coloring

Blend shortening, flour and cornstarch on a white plate to form a smooth paste using a rubber spatula. Add 5 to 6 drops of glycerin for a creamy texture. Add food coloring of your choice. With fingers, stroke in one direction spread mixture over face.


1 pkg. of Nutter Butter cookies

1 pkg of white chocolate bark

1 or 2 small tube(s) of chocolate decorating frosting OR mini-chocolate chips

1. Dip Nutter Butters in white chocolate

2. Draw eyes, mouth, make folds in ghost's "flowing skirt-like bottom" with decorating tubes OR use the mini-chips for the eyes, etc.


6 eggs, hard-boiled, cooled and peeled

6 ounces whipped cream cheese

12 green olives stuffed with pimentos


Cut the hard-boiled eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and fill the hole with cream cheese. Smooth the surface of the cream cheese as much as possible. Press an olive into the cream cheese center with the pimento facing up. Take a toothpick and dip it in some ketchup. Draw blood vessels in the cream cheese.


4 boneless chicken breasts

1 cup flour

1 egg, beaten

1 cup bread crumbs

Pitted black olives, halved lengthwise

Shredded lettuce

Grease a cookie sheet and set aside. Cut chicken breasts partway to create five fingers with the uncut part representing the palm. Be sure to slice them a little crooked for realism. Dust the chicken in the flour and dip in the egg. Now coat them in bread crumbs and broil for 5 minutes on each side until golden brown. Trim the tips with the olive fingernails and serve on lettuce.


Red Delicious apples

Pineapple or Lemon juice

Peanut Butter (I use Smucker's Natural)

Miniature Marshmallows

1. Cut apples into wedges, about 1/4", and brush with the juice to prevent discoloration.

2. On half of the wedges, spread peanut butter

3. Place 3 or 4 mini-mallows on each wedge with the peanut butter

4. Top with remaining apple now have Monster Mouths :-)


For each spider, you will need the following:

2 Ritz crackers

1 tsp. peanut butter (I use Smucker's Natural)

4 pretzel sticks

1. Break each pretzel stick in half to make the legs 2. Spread peanut butter on one cracker then place 4 pretzel halves on each side, pressing into peanut butter to hold.

3. Top with remaining cracker.




3 pounds turkey half-breast, boneless

1 pound turkey thigh, boneless

1 tablespoon butter or oil

1/4 cup onion, chopped fine

8 ounces Sunblest Orchard dried harvest fruit blend, chopped. Or dried apricots, prunes

and pears

1 cup stock, turkey or chicken

1 cups dry bread cubes or plain croutons, slightly crushed

1/2 cup white wine

1 egg white

Salt and pepper to taste

Chop thigh meat into very small pieces. Sautè with 1 tablespoon butter or oil. Add onion, turkey stock and wine. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Add crushed croutons, dried fruit and egg white. Mix till just blended. Set aside.

Open turkey breast as you would butterfly a steak. It may need three horizontal cuts. Keep it whole. Pound with meat mallet or back of heavy spoon till it is about 1/4-inch thick, keeping it as square as possible. Place filling 2 inches from rolling end and 1 inch from finish. Roll up tight. Bake at 350 degrees till internal temperature is 160 degrees. Cool slightly. Slice as you like. Serve with turkey gravy or wine reduction sauce.


1 1/2 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces

1 jar (12 oz.) refrigerated honey mustard salad dressing

2 cups Pepperidge Farm(r) Herb Seasoned Stuffing, crushed

2 tbsp. orange juice

DIP chicken into 3/4 cup dressing. Coat with stuffing.

PLACE chicken on baking sheet. Bake at 400°F. for 15 min. or until chicken is done.

MIX remaining dressing and orange juice in saucepan. Heat through. Serve with chicken for dipping. Makes about 40 appetizers.

TIP: To microwave dip, mix remaining dressing and orange juice in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH 1 min. or until hot.


Chili relies on tofu, trick


(Published: Wednesday, November 01, 2000)

Honey spiced chili is a recipe to consider if you have not cooked with tofu before, especially if you're looking for a low-fat vegetarian entree.

There's a trick for preparing tofu to give it that texture: Buy firm-style tofu, then shred it or grate it as you would cheese. Freeze the shredded tofu in an airtight container.

When you are ready to cook, just thaw it and squeeze out any extra liquid. The process of freezing and thawing is the best way to get rid of unneeded water.

Tofu is naturally bland and so can absorb strong spices like those used for chili. You can make the dish ahead of time; the flavors will continue to develop, and their blend will be more interesting.

For a really hearty meal, serve the dish over rice with your favorite chili garnishes.

(Makes 6 servings)

15-ounce package firm tofu

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup chopped onion

3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

151/2-ounce can red kidney beans, undrained

8-ounce can tomato sauce

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Using a cheese grater, shred tofu and freeze in zippered bag or airtight container. Thaw tofu, place in strainer and press out excess liquid.

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot; add onion, green pepper and garlic, and cook, stirring, 3 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender and begin to brown.

Stir in chili powder, cumin, salt, oregano and crushed red pepper. Stir in tofu; cook and stir 1 minute. Stir in diced tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato sauce, honey and vinegar.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.


1/4 cup oil

2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 in. cubes

3 cups chopped tomatoes 4 medium( I used canned)

1 cup sliced carrots

1 cup sliced celery

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon paprika

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper or to taste

1 lb. mushrooms

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon all purpose flour

In a large saucepan heat oil until hot. Add pork; brown on all sides. Drain and discard fat. Add tomatoes, carrots celery, onion, paprika, salt and pepper; simmer covered

for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Rinse, pat dry and slice mushrooms (makes about 5 1/2 cups).Add mushrooms to saucepan; continue to simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine sour cream and flour; stir into stew. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes stirring constantly. Serve over buttered noodles, if desired. 6 cups.


4 cups milk, divided use

1/3 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup molasses

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Scald 3 cups of the milk in non-stick saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cornmeal and molasses. Cook, stirring, until mixture thickens. Stir in rest of ingredients, reserving the extra cup of milk. Transfer to buttered baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes.

Pour remaining milk over the top. Bake for an additional 2 hours, or until pudding has set. Serve as is or with vanilla ice cream.


1 Cake Mix -- spice or chocolate

1 Cake Mix -- white

1 pound Cookies -- Vanilla Wafers

1 large Pudding Mix -- vanilla, instant

2 cups Cool Whip Lite(r) -- or whipped cream

Green food coloring

12 Small Tootsie Rolls

1 *NEW* kitty litter box

1 *NEW* kitty litter box plastic liner

1 *NEW* pooper scooper

Prepare cake mixes and bake according to directions (any size pans). Prepare pudding mix and chill until ready to assemble. Crumble cookies in small batches in a zip baggie, using a rolling pin, until the texture resembles kitty litter. Set aside all but 1/4 cup of crumbs. To the 1/4 cup cookie crumbs, add a few drops green food coloring and mix using a fork or shake in a jar. Set aside. When cakes are cooled to room temperature,

crumble into a large bowl. Toss together with the chilled pudding and cool whip, leaving mixture only partially mixed.

Line new, clean kitty litter box. Put mixture into litter box. Put three unwrapped Tootsie rolls in a microwave safe dish and heat until soft and pliable. Shape ends so they are no longer blunt, curving slightly. Repeat with 3 more Tootsie rolls and bury in mixture. Sprinkle the cookie crumbs over top. Scatter the green cookie crumbs lightly over the top, this is supposed to look like the chlorophyll in kitty litter. Heat remaining Tootsie Rolls, 3 at a time in the microwave until almost melted. Scrape them on top of the cake and sprinkle with cookie crumbs. Serve with a NEW pooper scooper.


3 tbls. olive oil

1 onion diced

5-15 cloves garlic chopped

4 boneless chicken breasts diced

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. thyme

1/2 tsp. basil

1 14 1/2 oz.can zesty tomatoes with green chilies

1 11 oz. can niblets corn drained

1 14 1/2 oz.can black olives drained and halved

1 4 oz.jar sliced mushrooms drained

1 lb. spaghetti (I break it in thirds)

2-3 tbls. butter or margarine


Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until transparent then add chicken pieces and seasonings. When chicken is just cooked add tomatoes, corn, olives, and mushrooms and heat through. Meanwhile, prepare spaghetti according to package directions. Toss drained pasta with butter to coat. Toss pasta with chicken mixture and serve hot.


This spaghetti dish includes beefy tomato sauce and noodles, all cooked in a single microwave dish. Serves 4.

1 tbsp butter

1 cup onion, chopped

1 lb ground beef

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce

1-1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon ground oregano

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/4 lb. spaghetti, uncooked

Parmesan cheese, grated

Place butter and onion in 10-inch ceramic skillet. Heat in microwave oven on full power 3 to 4 minutes, until onion is tender. Add beef. Cook on full power 4 minutes, until beef is no longer pink. Stir twice during cooking time. Drain.

Add salt, pepper, tomato sauce, water, oregano, and basil. Cook, covered, on full power for 4 minutes. Break spaghetti in half; stir into sauce. Cook, covered, on full power

18 to 20 minutes, until spaghetti is tender; stir 3 times during cooking. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving, if desired.


Serves 6 as a first course

1 large or 2 medium leeks (12 ounces)

1 pound mushrooms (almost any variety)

3 ounces slab (unsliced) bacon, rind removed and cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 clove garlic, finely chopped (1 teaspoon)

2 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves removed and chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold or other all-purpose potatoes, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1/4-inch thick (to resemble size of mushroom pieces)

3 cups chicken stock

1 cup heavy cream

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For garnish:

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

Remove tough outer leaves of leeks and discard (or reserve for stock). Trim off roots and dark green tops of leaves, then cut leeks in two where the white meets green. Split white part lengthwise in half, then cut across into 1/3-inch slices. Do same with green half, removing any darker green parts and slicing only the light green parts. Place leeks in a pot of water and let soak briefly to remove any dirt, then lift them out and drain in a colander. Drain them well, or they will steam rather than saute.

Wipe mushrooms clean. Cut off tough parts of stems and discard. Slice mushrooms. Heat a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over low heat and add diced bacon. Once it has rendered a few tablespoons of fat, increase heat to medium and cook until bacon is crisp and golden brown. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat, leaving bacon in pot.

Add butter and garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add leeks, mushrooms and tarragon, and saute, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes. Add lemon juice, stir well, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more, until mushrooms are very soft.

Add potatoes and stock. Turn up heat, cover, bring to a boil, and cook vigorously for about 8 minutes, until potatoes are tender on the outside but still firm in the center. With your spoon, smash a few potato slices against the side of the pot and cook for 2 minutes more to release their starch. Remove from heat, stir in cream, and season the chowder with salt and pepper. If you are not serving chowder within the hour, let it cool a bit, then refrigerate; cover chowder after it has chilled completely. Otherwise, let it sit at room temperature for up to an hour, allowing flavors to meld.

When ready to serve, reheat chowder over low heat; don't let it boil. Ladle into cups and sprinkle with chopped parsley and minced chives.


Serves 8 as a main course

4 ounces meaty salt pork, rind removed and cut into 1/3-inch dice

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 medium onions (14 ounces), cut into 3/4-inch dice

6 to 8 sprigs fresh summer savory or thyme, leaves removed and chopped

2 dried bay leaves

2 pounds Yukon Gold or other all-purpose potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/3-inch thick

5 cups fish stock, chicken stock or water

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 pounds skinless haddock or cod fillets, preferably more than 1 inch thick, pin bones


1 1/2 cups heavy cream (or up to 2 cups if desired)

For garnish:

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

Heat a 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over low heat and add diced salt pork. Once it has rendered a few tablespoons of fat, increase heat to medium and cook until pork is a crisp golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer cracklings to a small ovenproof dish, leaving the fat in the pot, and reserve until later.

Add butter, onions, savory or thyme, and bay leaves to pot and saute, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for about 8 minutes, until onions are softened but not browned.

Add potatoes and stock. If stock doesn't cover potatoes, add just enough water to cover them. Turn up heat and bring to a boil, cover, and cook potatoes vigorously for about 10 minutes, until they are soft on the outside but still firm in the center. If stock hasn't thickened slightly, smash a few potato slices against the side of the pot and cook for a minute or two longer to release their starch. Reduce heat to low and season assertively with salt and pepper (you want to almost overseason the chowder at this point to avoid having to stir it much once the fish is added). Add fish fillets and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, then remove pot from heat and allow chowder to sit for 10 minutes (the fish will finish cooking during this time).

Gently stir in cream and taste for salt and pepper. If you are not serving the chowder within the hour, let it cool a bit, then refrigerate; cover chowder after it has chilled completely. Otherwise, let it sit for up to an hour at room temperature, allowing flavors to meld.

When ready to serve, reheat chowder over low heat; don't let it boil. Warm cracklings in a low oven (200 degrees) for a few minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to mound chunks of fish, onions and potatoes in center of large soup plates or shallow bowls, and ladle creamy broth around center. Scatter cracklings over individual servings and finish each with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and minced chives.


This mixed-bean dish is hearty, spicy, and flavorful. Serve it to company or bring it to a picnic, and you'll be mobbed by folks wanting the recipe. You can increase the amount of beef and/or chili powder as you wish. Serves 6-8.

1/2 lb ground beef

1/2 cup bacon, chopped

1 medium onion

1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can pork and beans

1 can lima beans, drained and rinsed

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup barbecue sauce

1/4 cup ketchup

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet, brown beef, bacon, and onions. Add kidney beans, pork and beans, and lima beans; mix thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Pour into 2-quart casserole. Bake 1 hour.






3/4 pound Round Steak -- trimmed and cubed

1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil

4 medium Potatoes -- cubed

5 medium Carrots -- sliced 1/2" thick

1 stalk Celery -- sliced 1/2" thick

1 large Onion -- chopped

14 1/2 ounces Tomatoes, stewed -- chunky

3 tablespoons Tapioca -- quick cooking

1 teaspoon Browning Sauce

1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper -- or more if needed

1 cup Peas, frozen

In a Dutch oven, brown the steak in the vegetable oil. Add the next eight ingredients and cover and bake at 300 degrees F for 4-5 hours, stirring twice. Add the peas during the last few minutes of baking.


150g rice - washed and soaked for 1 hour

1 chicken breast

75g small dried oysters - washed and soaked until soft

1 litre chicken stock


1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp garlic oil

1 tsp sesame oil


1 century egg - cut into eight slices

Chopped spring onions

Chopped red chilies

Garlic crisps


Bring 1 1/2 litres water to a boil. Add chicken breast and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove chicken and reserve the stock. Shred chicken meat. Place chicken stock, rice and oysters in a double boiler pot and double boil until rice is puffed up and cooked. Add seasoning. Dish out porridge and serve with shredded chicken meat and garnishing.


4 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon marshmallow creme (store bought)

2-3 drops red food color

1/2 teaspoon peppermint oil

1 square of aluminum foil, approximately 12 by 24 inches or larger

1-2 tablespoons margarine

Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup and water in a heavy, large saucepan over medium heat. Insert candy thermometer in pan and bring to 300 degrees. Remove from heat, add marshmallow creme, red food color and peppermint oil and stir vigorously as mixture froths up, cools and begins to thicken.

Place foil on counter and smear with margarine. Scraping bottom and sides of pan, pour candy onto foil to form a thin layer. While candy is cooling, press buttered cookie cutter (pig or any holiday style) down into candy and leave it sitting there until candy sets up hard. Break candy outside the cutter away, gently remove candy from cutter and serve -- or simply break the cooled candy into pieces.



cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

About 8 pineapple rings, with liquid from can of pineapple rings reserved

Maraschino cherries, to garnish

Pecan halves, to garnish

Cake batter:

2 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

6 tablespoons liquid from can of pineapple rings

1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

1 cup sifted flour or cake flour

1/3 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in heavy 10-inch skillet or baking dish. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter. Arrange drained pineapple slices over butter-sugar coating. Place cherries in center of pineapple slices and garnish with pecans between the pineapple slices.

Beat eggs until thick and lemon-colored, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar. Add pineapple liquid and vanilla, then beat in flour, baking powder and salt. Pour batter over topping and bake for 45 minutes, or until a wooden pick thrust into center of cake comes out clean. Immediately turn upside down on serving plate. Do not remove pan for a few minutes. Brown sugar mixture will run down over cake instead of clinging to pan. Serve warm.


2 cups pomegranate juice (see Note)

11/2 cups orange juice

11/2 cups sparkling water

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons vodka, optional

Ice cubes (see note)

In large pitcher, mix pomegranate juice with orange juice, sparkling water and vodka. Add ice cubes. Makes 6 servings.

You can mix the juices and the optional vodka up to a day ahead (store sealed in the refrigerator), but don't add the sparkling water until just before serving. Note: One medium pomegranate (about 9 ounces) yields 1/2 cup juice. Add some whole pomegranate seeds to ice cubes for festive touch.


The myth, magic, potency and intrigue of something seedy



(Published: Wednesday, November 01, 2000)

The alluring pomegranate is in season. For all its mysterious and exotic appeal, it is, without question, the most labor-intensive fruit in nature. As a result, it is less popular than it deserves, for it is also among the most beautiful of fruits, inside and out.

The pomegranate is mentioned 28 times in the Bible, is suspected of being the "apple" in the Garden of Eden and has 840 seeds, regardless of its size.

The Spanish Padres are credited with bringing the fruit to the California missions some 200 years ago.

This time of year, California's pomegranate growers are harvesting their beloved fruit. From fall to early winter, the nation's supply of pomegranates will come out of the San Joaquin Valley harvest between Fresno and Bakersfield.

The fruit thrives in the region's hot, dry summers; the area's pomegranate crop generated $21 million last year. Some of the thorny bushes can grow to a height of 15 or 20 feet, with long branches that bend gently with ripening fruit.

With its richly colored, leathery skin, the pomegranate is used by some as a seasonal item to display in a bowl, purely for decorative purposes. Too bad. It is the key ingredient in many tasty recipes.

Botanically, pomegranates are large berries. Believed to be native to ancient Persia, they have been cultivated for many thousands of years, and there are Greek and Roman as well as biblical references to the fruit. Long associated with fertility and abundance, the pomegranate was used in Phoenician religious rites and in many a love potion through time. Aphrodite herself, the Greek deity of love, is said to have planted pomegranate trees in Cyprus.

There are references to it in ancient literature.

There's this quote from the Song of Solomon in the Bible, "Thou art fair, my love, thy temples are like a piece of pomegranate within thy locks."

And it is frequently included in Greek mythology. There are stories about Zeus (who created the fruit), Aphrodite (who planted the first seeds) and Persephone (who ate six pomegranate seeds that condemned her to spend six months of the year in Hades).

The pomegranate perhaps achieved its greatest recognition through the celebrated exchange between Romeo and Juliet in which Juliet insists that it wasn't the lark but the nightingale that "sang on yon pomegranate tree."

About the size of an orange, the pomegranate has a thin skin with color ranging from red to yellowish pink. Each one contains those 840 brilliant, rubylike red seeds, translucent and shiny. The seeds are tiny and juicy with a sweet-tart taste that is quite distinctive and delicious.

The only problem is that the seeds are encased in a protective membrane that doesn't want to let go. And pomegranate juice stains -- more than grass, more than mango, more than tea, more even than saffron.

So if you decide to reveal its well-kept secrets, you may first wish to don your slicker and surgical gloves (or at least put on old clothes). Place a large bowl with water in the sink, then cut off the crown end of the pomegranate. Lightly score the rind several times, immerse the fruit in water and soak it for a few minutes.

Holding the fruit under water, break the sections apart, using your index fingers to separate the seeds from the membrane. The seeds will sink. The membrane and rind will float; skim and discard them. Pour the seeds into a colander, drain and pat dry.

The fruit is used amply in Turkish and Middle Eastern cooking. Curiously enough, it is an integral component of the national dish of Mexico, "chiles en nogada," a poblano pepper stuffed with seasoned minced meat surrounded by a white walnut sauce and garnished with pomegranate seeds -- the green, white and red of the Mexican flag.

Available from October through December, pomegranates are rich in potassium and vitamin C. Choose fruit that is heavy for its size and free of blemishes. You may refrigerate it for up to two months, and the seeds, once separated, may be frozen. A medium-size fruit yields about three-fourths cup of seeds or half a cup of juice. (To juice, process the seeds in a blender until liquefied, and strain through a cheesecloth-lined strainer.)

Out, damned spot

Two reasons the pomegranate has not become more popular:

Too tough to get the seeds out.

Too tough to get the stains out.

Not everybody is up to the challenge, but fans have evolved several ways of unraveling the two-headed monster without radically altering the decor of their homes or their clothing. The juice can squirt out all over the place, which made the ancient Chinese claim that the only way to eat pomegranates was in the bathtub. Current wags suggest wearing red when tackling it. Others say, don't avoid pomegranates, avoid clothing.

Bust open red, ripe and juicy pomegranate

Pomegranate lovers recommend this method for getting at the seeds:

Slice off the crown end of the fruit and lightly score it vertically into quarters.

Immerse the fruit in a bowl of water for 5 minutes. While holding fruit under water, break sections apart, separating seeds from membranes. The pith will float and the seeds will sink. Skim off and discard membranes and rind. Pour seeds into a colander, drain and pat dry.


PLAN B: Or you can place the halved fruit on your palm, cut side down, and whack it with a knife handle. The seeds should fall into your hand.

"PS": If you want to juice a pomegranate, cut it in half and squeeze it on a plastic or glass orange juicer (not metal); the juice will spatter, so be careful. Some suggest first rolling the whole fruit around on a hard surface to release the juice from the sacs. Pierce a hole in the skin and suck out the juice or squeeze into a glass.

AVOID ...: Pomegranates that are cracked, unshapely or sunburned and unsuitable for shipment are usually crushed by growers to make juice and concentrates.

GRENADINE: A syrup that once was exclusively made from pomegranates, grenadine today is made from secret formulas using different fruits. This aromatic syrup is used in a sauces and glazes, but is most popular as a cocktail ingredient.

BUY: When buying, choose pomegranates that are large and heavy for their size and bright-skinned. Avoid dull, shriveled ones with splits in the skin.

If kept refrigerated, whole pomegranates can last as long as two months. However decorative they may be, experts don't recommend leaving them at room temperature because they get leathery, dry and dehydrated.

Pomegranate seeds are good eaten out of hand or sprinkled over salads, waffles or pancakes. Use the juice to color and flavor lemonade, meringue or whipped cream, to pour over pear or apple slices, or to make Pomegranate Pink Jade (which see).



For the topping:

1/2 cup quick or old fashioned oats, uncooked

1 tbsp. firmly packed brown sugar

1 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted

1/8 tsp. pumpkin spice*

For the muffins:

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup quick or old fashioned oats, uncooked

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1-1/2 tsp. pumpkin spice

1/2 tsp. salt (optional)

1 cup canned pumpkin

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12 medium muffin cups with paper baking cups or lightly grease bottoms only. For topping; combine all topping ingredients and set aside. For the muffins; combine dry ingredients. Add pumpkin, milk, oil and egg and mix just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fill muffin cups almost full. Sprinkle topping evenly over batter, patting gently. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let muffins stand one to two minutes, remove from pan.

*pumpkin pie spice

3/4 tsp. nutmeg

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground allspice


4 eggs -- slightly beaten

2 cups pumpkin -- cooked and mashed

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup dark corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pie crust (9 inch)

1 cup chopped pecans

Combine eggs, pumpkin, sugar, syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl; stir until well blended. Pour into pie crust; sprinkle with pecans. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until pie is firm in center. Let cool completely. Yield: 10 servings.


1 packet (1 ounce) powdered ranch dressing mix

1/2 cup low-fat milk

2 eggs

2 pounds lean ground beef

1/2 cup dry bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

1/3 cup ketchup

3 strips bacon, sliced in half

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine dressing mix and milk. Stir until blended and set aside.

Meanwhile, beat eggs in a mixing bowl. Add beef, bread crumbs, chili powder and dressing mixture. With hands, mix until ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. (Note: The mixture at this point could be used as a filling for stuffed peppers.)

Transfer to a loaf pan or baking dish, forming meat into a rectangle. Spread ketchup over the loaf. Arrange sliced bacon over the top. Bake for about 1 hour. Allow to rest for 7 minutes or so before serving.



Cranberry-Apple Chutney:

1 yellow onion, sliced

4 cups sliced Gravenstein apples

2 cups dried cranberries

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon ground sage

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup sliced almonds

Slice yellow onion into 1/4-inch rings. In a medium-size stockpot, melt butter and brown onion over medium heat. Add remaining ingredients and cook until liquid from apples has evaporated, stirring occasionally.

Pork Tenderloin:

1 pork tenderloin, 10-12 ounces

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon oil

Blend spices and season tenderloin. Sear tenderloin in a hot skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil. Roast in an oven at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice diagonally and arrange around the serving platter with chutney in the center.


1 (3- to 31/2-pound) center-cut boneless pork loin

1/3 cup minced fresh ginger

1 (6-ounce) can frozen tangerine juice concentrate

2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

1 pound pitted dried prunes (21/2 cups)

1 large pomegranate

Small fresh tangerines or kumquats, optional

Place pork, fat side up, on narrow rack in shallow 12x15-inch roasting pan. Roast in oven at 375 degrees until meat thermometer inserted in thickest part reaches 145 degrees, 50 to 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, in 2- to 3-quart pan, combine ginger, juice concentrate, vinegar and prunes. Bring to boil, stirring. Cover and simmer until prunes are slightly softened, about 10 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat.

Halve pomegranate. Immerse in bowl of water. Break apart to remove seeds. Discard skin, pith and water. Set seeds aside.

After meat has reached 145 degrees, tilt pan to skim off and discard fat. Pour prune mixture over pork, spooning liquid over roast and pushing prunes into pan. Bake until thermometer reaches 155 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes longer.

Lift pork to platter. Garnish with tangerines. Stir pomegranate seeds into prune mixture, then spoon into separate dish. Slice meat crosswise and accompany with fruit. Makes 8 to 10 servings.






1 small butternut squash (about 13/4 pounds)

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1/2 cup corn oil

1 medium curly chicory (about 3/4 pound), rinsed, dried and cut into thin slivers

1 large pomegranate, seeded, or about 1 cup seeds

Halve squash and remove seeds. Cut into 2-inch sections and pare off rind. Cut flesh into thin julienne strips. Drop into boiling salted water. Return to boil, then drain at once. Drop into bowl of ice water and drain. Spread on paper towel to dry.

Combine ginger, salt, lemon juice and vinegar in jar and shake to blend. Add oil and shake again. Combine 3/4 of dressing with squash. Toss and refrigerate until serving time. To serve, toss remaining dressing with chicory. Add squash and pomegranate seeds and mix gently. Makes 6 servings.


1 (1/4 oz.) package dry yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup milk, scalded and cooled

1/4 cup melted butter or margarine

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups flour

Soften yeast with sugar in lukewarm milk. Add melted butter, beaten eggs; salt and flour sifted together; beat thoroughly until smooth. Pour into a well-greased 8x8x2 inch pan. Cover and let rise until double in bulk.(Optional - Sprinkle with sugar and) Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 25 minutes. Serve hot with butter.


1 pound whole beef tenderloin

2 large onions - quartered and separated

2 large green bell peppers - cut into 3/4 inch strips

1 (8 ounce) package fresh mushrooms - sliced

1/4 cup dry Butter Buds

1/2 cup water

1 tsp. garlic powder

Spray a crockpot with non-fat cooking spray. Place beef in crock pot and top with onions, peppers and mushrooms. Mix Butter Buds, water and garlic powder until the Butter Buds dissolves. Pour over vegetables. Gently toss vegetables to distribute seasonings. Cover and cook on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 8 to 9 hours.

Cut beef into 4 (4-ounce) steaks and arrange on platter. Toss vegetables in juices. Spoon liquid and vegetables over beef. Serve hot.


(fisherman's spaghetti)

1 pound fresh clams

2 medium garlic cloves, crushed

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/2 cup dry white wine

3/4 pound peeled and deveined shrimp

1 cup low-fat tomato sauce

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Salt and freshly ground pepper

6 ounces spaghetti (2 1/2 cups cooked)

2 teaspoons olive oil

Boil a large saucepan of water for spaghetti. Scrub clams and place in a medium non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cover and cook until shells open, about 2 minutes, shaking pan several times. Remove clams to bowl, leaving juice in pan. (If sandy, strain juice through a sieve lined with paper towels.) Add garlic, red pepper and white wine to skillet; boil 1 minute. Lower heat to medium and add shrimp and tomato sauce. Simmer, uncovered, 2 minutes or until shrimp are pink; remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Return clams to skillet and set aside, covered.

Cook spaghetti in boiling water. Drain and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and sauce.


3 cups peeled, cubed baking potatoes

1 1/4 cups low-fat, low-sodium chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk

1/3 cup grated manchego cheese

1/3 cup minced jamón Serrano (Spanish ham) or prosciutto

Place potatoes, stock and salt in a non-stick pan over high heat. When stock boils, cover pan, reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are tender and liquid has reduced.

Uncover and remove from heat. With a potato masher, mix potatoes until smooth. Stir in buttermilk, cheese and ham. Serve immediately.


2 or 3 thinly sliced red or yellow tomatoes (or both)

1 refrigerated pie crust from a 15 oz package

1 egg white

2 Tbsp. Store bought pesto

3 oz. Crumbled feta cheese

1/8 tsp. Salt

1/8 tsp. Pepper

1 tsp. Olive oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place tomato slices on paper towels and thoroughly

drain (about 15 minutes on first side and 5 minutes on the other side). Press crust into bottom and sides of a 10-inch tart (or pie) pan with removable bottom. Trim off any excess dough. Prick bottom of crust with a fork; line with foil. Fill with pie weights or any dried beans to keep crust down. Bake 14 minutes. Remove from oven; remove weights and foil. Brush crust with egg white. Bake 5 more minutes. Cool pan on rack.

Spread pesto over cooled crust. Sprinkle with cheese. Arrange tomato slices slightly overlapping in concentric circles. Alternate colors if you have both red and yellow. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 25 - 30 minutes or until tomatoes are soft and crust is golden. Cool on rack 10 minutes. Remove pan sides, slice and serve.


Corn agnolotti:

3 cups fresh corn

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cups mascarpone

1 cup ricotta

1/2 cup Reggiano Parmigiano cheese

1 teaspoon chopped tarragon

1 teaspoon chopped chervil

1 teaspoon chopped chives

1 tablespoon truffle oil (optional; see Notes)

Salt and pepper

1 pound (approximately) sheets of uncooked fresh pasta (see Notes)

Egg wash made from 1 egg scrambled with 1 tablespoon water

Shallot glaze:

1 cup sliced shallots

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup dry sherry

1 cup Madeira

1 cup red wine

3 cup veal demiglace (see Notes)

Bay leaf

1 tablespoon black peppercorns


Ground white pepper

To finish:

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon julienned fresh sage

1/4 cup roasted and peeled hazelnuts

1/4 cup chicken stock

1 cup arugula

Salt and ground white pepper

Shaved ricotta salata (see Notes)

To make filling: Sauté corn in butter and reserve half. In food processor, puree half the corn with the cheeses until smooth, then add reserved corn, tarragon, chervil, chives, truffle oil and salt and pepper to taste.

To form agnolotti: Place filling in a plastic disposable piping bag. Cut pasta sheets into 2-by-4-inch rectangles. Brush edges of rectangles with egg wash and pipe stripe of filling onto center, leaving a half-inch on all sides. Fold over into envelopes and trim with pasta cutter. Place on sheet pan and cover with towel.

To make shallot glaze: Caramelize shallots in butter; deglaze with wines. When the alcohol is cooked out, add demiglace, bay leaf and peppercorns. Reduce until it lightly coats the back of a spoon. Strain and season with salt and white pepper.

To finish: Cook agnolotti in salted boiling water until they float (about 3 minutes).

Brown 2 tablespoons butter lightly in hot sauté pan. Add sage and hazelnuts, then deglaze with chicken stock. Reduce liquid quickly over high heat until sauce forms. Add drained pasta and arugula, season with salt and white pepper, and place in center of plates. Lightly drizzle with shallot glaze on perimeter of pasta and top with shaved ricotta salata.

Notes: Truffle oil and veal demiglace are available at specialty groceries such as Draeger's in Menlo Park and Los Altos. Fresh pasta sheets are available at specialty delis such as Florence Ravioli Factory in San Francisco, (415) 421-6170, and at grocers such as Draeger's Menlo Park. Ricotta salata is a dry cheese available at cheese shops and specialty groceries.







2 cups milk

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups Half & Half (in the dairy section by creamers)

1 Tblsp vanilla extract -only the pure extract of course : )

4 cups skim evaporated milk (substitution: 2 2/3 cups powdered milk and

enough water to make 4 cups liquid.)

Scald milk until bubbles form around the edge. Remove from heat. Add sugar and salt. Stir until dissolved. Stir in Half & Half, vanilla and evaporated milk. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. Freeze as directed by manufacturer.


NANCY FELDMAN: Rules of thumb on when to throw out food



(Published: Wednesday, November 01, 2000)

For food that is safe and delicious to eat, proper storage is important. But no matter how well you package something, at some point it's got to go. How can you tell how long it's safe to hold onto something?

Below is a listing of recommendations for storing various foods. It's important to note that some recommendations are safety-based, while others are for maintaining best food taste (quality).

Foods like oils, herbs, and flour simply lose flavor if they are stored for too long. If the recommended storage time for one of these foods has elapsed, but it smells fine, it will not have as good a flavor as when it was fresh but is still safe to eat, according to food processors.

Foods like eggs, milk products, meat, chicken, seafood, and tofu, however, are subject to bacterial contamination. Eating these foods after they have spoiled could result in food-borne illnesses.

Dates printed on many food products can help you decide what stays and what goes. The following information is what they mean:

"Sell by" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. Don't buy something after this date, but if you already have it at home, it may be safe for a few more days (see table).

"Use by" or "Best if used by" date is the last date recommended for use of the product at peak quality. It is not a safety-related date.

"Expiration" date means don't use the product after this date.

Safe food storage recommendations:


Flour (white): shelf, 6-12 months unopened, 6-8 months opened.

Flour (whole wheat): shelf, 1-2 months unopened, 6-8 months opened (Bring to room temperature before baking for proper leavening).


Cheese (hard): refrigerator, 6 months unopened; freezer, 6 months (Wrap well after opening).

Cheese (soft): refrigerator, up to 4 weeks opened; freezer, 6 months (Wrap well after opening).

Milk: refrigerator, up to a few days after "sell by date."

Yogurt: refrigerator, up to a few days after "sell by date" (Throw out if you see mold. Clear liquid on top is whey - stir in).


Bacon-smoked sausage: refrigerator, 5-7 days; freezer, 1 month

Chicken (fresh): refrigerator, 1 week; freezer, uncooked, 9 months; cooked, 4-6 months.

Eggs: refrigerator, 2-3 weeks (3-4 days after cooking); freezer, freeze egg whites only, 12 months (Toss away eggs with even slight crack in shell).

Fish (fresh): refrigerator, 1-2 days (3-4 days after cooking; freezer, lean types 6 months; fatty types, 2-3 months; shellfish, 3-6 months; cooked fish, 4-6 months.

Fish or chicken (canned): refrigerator, 2-5 years unopened; freezer, 2-3 days after opening (Transfer to glass or plastic dish after opening).

Lunch meat (store sliced): refrigerator, 2-5 days; freezer, 1-2 months.

Lunch meat (sealed in package): 2 weeks unopened, 3-5 days opened; freezer, 1-2 months.

Meat (beef, pork, lamb): chops and steaks, refrigerator, 3-5 days; freezer, 4-12 months.

Ground, refrigerator, 1-2 days; 3-4 months.

Cooked meat, refrigerator, 3-4 days; freezer, 2-3 months (May be frozen up to 2 weeks in store wrap. If freezing for longer, use extra wrapping).

Nuts: shelf, 1 year sealed can; 2-3 months unopened; refrigerator, 4-6 months; freezer, 9-12 months (first loses flavor, later becomes rancid).

Tofu: refrigerator, until expiration date, unopened; 1 week opened; freezer, up to 5 months (Some texture change will occur. Change water each day after opening).


Oil, olive, canola, or vegetable:

1 year unopened, 4-8 months opened (A sharp smell means flavor quality is off, but still safe to use).

Oil, walnut, peanut or other nuts: 6 months unopened, 4 months opened

Spices and herbs (dried): shelf, 2-4 years whole spices; 6 months to 3 years ground spices; 1-2 years unopened herbs; 1 year opened herbs.

Refrigerator, red pepper, chili powder, paprika after opening due to possible insect infestation (Store in cold dark cabinet or drawer. Don't shake over steaming pot, steam will enter jar).



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