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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Child's Play - Ice Cream Crunch Cake

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I love recipes that draw children into the kitchen and involve them in cooking. Supervision is, of course, necessary, but this dessert - an ice cream cake - can be made by a ten year old. As a matter of fact it was made by a 10 year old past weekend. This is a recipe for a cake worthy of a minor feast. Young cooks will need an apron or old clothes, and you'll need lots of paper toweling and a smidgen of patience to pull this off. It's a messy but doable dessert and the kids love it. Their pride when the cake is unmolded is unmistakable. That alone would make it worthwhile, but the cake is actually good. It's made with just four ingredients. Crisp rice cereal is blended with chocolate and peanut butter to form a soft crunchy brittle that's worked into ice cream. You wouldn't want to serve this to the queen or your gourmet club, but it's great for occasions where family and friends gather for birthdays or barbecues. There are no special ingredients used here, but good ice cream and chocolate help this along. You'll want to make this at least 8 hours before serving. Once you've tried this you'll probably want to experiment with other flavors, but here is the basic recipe for starters.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mid-Week Musings

Hypocrisy 101

Last week, just hours after molestation charges against Josh Duggar were publicly revealed, an Arkansas judge, Stacey Zimmerman, agreed to expunge the police report detailing their investigation into the crime. That is not how documents of this type are usually handled, but the Duggar's, of 19 Kids and Counting, apparently have enough "juice" to sway the justice system within their community. That only added to the layers of hypocrisy that surround this case. Beginning in 2002 and continuing through 2006, their son was accused of forcible fondling and molestation of five minor girls. While the Duggar's prefer to call his behavior inappropriate touching, that doesn't mitigate the fact that what he did was a felony, not a misdemeanor. It was a crime and despite their expressions of concern, it does nothing to address the trauma his victims faced and will carry throughout their lives. The family chose to handle the matter privately and while they did have a member of the local police department talk to their son, it wasn't until 2006, when staffers of Oprah Winfrey, doing background research for a show, unearthed the true extent of what had gone on. They immediately notified authorities in Arkansas. An investigation was begun, but no charges were filed because it proceeded so slowly the statue of limitations expired before it was concluded. Coincidence?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Valencian Chicken and Bouncing Raisins

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...After a weekend of barbecue and finger food, I decided to pull out a few stops, toss my original menu and make the Silver Fox a real dinner, complete with tablecloth, candles and flowers. The Valencian Chicken I'm featuring tonight comes from an old recipe that I created years ago for a contest. It was a winner then and now. We both love the food of Spain and while this dish has a decidedly Spanish flair it is easier to make than most Spanish entrees. While the ingredient list looks long, the herbs and spices give it that appearance, so don't let its length deter you from giving the recipe a try. I love the meld of flavors that come from the orange-sherry, olive-raisin combinations in this dish. The raisins provide a hint of sweetness, the degree of which depends on the type of raisin used. I prefer Malaga, but California raisins will do nicely. Regarding raisins, I have a dubious bit of cooking lore to share with you - legend has it that the first raisin crop was the result of a heat wave so intense it dried grapes on the vine. Another fascinating fact, this one verifiably true - a raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will repeatedly bounce from the bottom to the top of the glass Try it, you'll see I speak the truth. I always plump the raisins I use in cooking. They act as sponges in their dry state, but if they're soused before cooking your sauces will be more predictable. The microwave has made short order of this task and can be used if your recipe does not give instructions for plumping. Simply put the raisins in a microwave container with 2 teaspoons of water and nuke, lightly covered, for 1 minute on HIGH power and you're done. Use a dry sherry and fresh orange juice to assemble the sauce for this entrée and you're on your way to a visually spectacular dish that I know you will enjoy. I served our chicken with yellow rice and a shaved asparagus salad. Here is how the chicken is made.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Coffee and Cocoa Crumb Cake

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...The weather today has been iffy and colder than I had hoped. At the last minute, I scrapped plans for an ice cream crunch cake and decided to make this mocha snack cake for dessert instead. While the cake lacks sophistication and is quite plain looking, it is really really good. It has a depth of flavor and crumb that will appeal to those who like the less-sweet European-style desserts, and when it is served warm, it will make your socks go up and down. At the insistence of the Silver Fox, I served it with an intensely flavored vanilla bean ice cream. That, of course, made my plan to toss the original cake seem a bit vapid, but then we aim to please around here, so warm mocha and ice cream was the order of the day. I do hope you'll try this recipe. I know you will enjoy the cake. It is hard to beat easy and delicious and this cake is both. Here is how it is made.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hazelnut Cake with Nutella Glaze

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...One of autumn's pleasures is the profusion of nuts that flood Oregon's markets and farm stands. I buy them in quantity at that time, and freeze walnuts and hazelnuts to use throughout the remainder of the year.  May tends to be a month of overlap and those lovely nutmeats sitting in the freezer need to be used, so space can be made for berries that are starting to come in.  This simple cake is one I make when my freezer is in transition. It is a Bavarian hazelnut cake that is much like one I had as a child. This is an exceptional snack cake, and I know those of you who try it, will love it. The cake and glaze both contain hazelnuts, and the cake, while unsophisticated, has a European air about it. I like to make this cake the day before I plan to serve it. Its flavor improves remarkably if it is allowed to "ripen" for a day or two. Do give this recipe a try. Here is how the cake is made.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015

Another Look at Cantonese Fried Noodles

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I was out for most of the day today, so dinner preparation was a last minute affair and had to be rushed. I make these Cantonese noodles when the clock and I are out of sync and I need a meal that comes together quickly. I love these noodles. The Canton region of China has a rich culinary history and serious cooks familiarize themselves with the food of this region. Today's dish is the essence of simplicity. It's nothing more than a bowl of fried noodles, a bit of meat, and some crisp vegetables that are tossed and coated with a shimmering glaze. It's gorgeous to look at, ready in less than 30 minutes and budget friendly. You just can't go wrong with this dish. A word about noodles - I use dried rice sticks that resemble tagliatelle because I find fresh rice noodles difficult to come by. The noodles, called bahn pho, come from Vietnam and are they are available in sizes S thru XL - go for L or XL. They can be found in any Asian market or purchased from online merchants. Pad Thai noodles can be used in a pinch, but follow box instructions for softening rather than using those given in this recipe.  I like this dish well enough to keep the ingredients needed to make it in my pantry at all times. I've never tired of it and I think you will share my enthusiasm once you give the recipe a try. Here is how the noodles are made.


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