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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Portuguese Sweet Bread







From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Expectations almost always do me in. I've made Portuguese sweetbread for over 40 years now using the James Beard's recipe which I keep, here. The recipe makes a loaf with a tight crumb and brioche-like mien that is both rich and sweet, but I've long suspected bears no resemblance to the bread that's actually sold in Provincetown. I was looking forward to trying several loaves of the "real" thing while we were on the Cape this summer, but, as it happened, we sampled only one. I had expected too much from the bread and the spongy commercially packaged version I found was a real disappointment. I can hear my mother's voice coming from the recesses of memory now whispering, "Say something nice, Mary". So, out of respect for my mother, I'm going to fallback on my old standby for bread that disappoints and say, "It makes great toast". I've made a lot of toast in my lifetime. Now I'm perfectly willing to concede that mine is a minority opinion. Thousands of these loaves are sold every summer, so the fault probably lies more with my expectations than the bread itself. l had hoped to find a bread that would kindle memories of Portuguese peasant kitchens and that didn't happen.

Now, I don't give up easily. If I couldn't buy it, I would make it and so I began a search for the quintessential Cape Cod cookbook, one that had a recipe for Portuguese sweet bread that used ingredients found in a peasant, as well as a castle, kitchen. I found the book and recipe I was looking for in the Journey Around Cape Cod and the Islands Cookbook, by Heather and Martha Zschock. The recipe I'm sharing today appears exactly as it was written. I've made no changes to the ingredient list, but I did depart from their instructions when I made my loaves. The dough for this type of bread can be very sticky and hard to work. I decided to let my stand mixer do most of the work for me. I mixed the ingredients using the paddle attachment. When the dough became shaggy I switched to the dough hook and continued mixing/beating until the dough began to climb the hook. At that point, I turned it onto a floured work surface and manually worked the dough until a smooth ball was formed. I followed the recipe from that point on. I really like this bread and highly recommend this recipe to you. Here is how the bread is made.


Portuguese Sweet Bread...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Heather and Martha Zschock

Ingredients:
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:
1) Sprinkle yeast over hot water and stir to dissolve. Let sit for 10 minutes, or until mixture begins to look a bit foamy.
2) Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan and heat to melt butter. Let cool slightly. Pour into large mixing bowl.
3) Whisk eggs, sugar and salt into milk mixture. Add yeast and gradually add flour, mixing until mixture forms a ball. Dough will be very sticky at this point,so flour your hands before beginning to work the dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth, soft and elastic.
4) Oil a large mixing bowl. Add dough and turn to lightly coat all surfaces. Cover bowl with a warm damp towel and allow dough to sit until it has doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours.
5) Punch dough down and turn it onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 3 minutes. Grease a pie pan, form dough into a ball and place in center of pan. Cover with a warm damp cloth and let sit until dough has doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours.
6) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake loaf in center of oven for 30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven, let sit for 10 minutes before transferring loaf to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: 1 loaf.

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One Year Ago Today: Basque Piperade















Two Years Ago Today: Key Lime Cheesecake

















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Four Years Ago Today: Baked French Toast with Cardamom and Apricot Preserves

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Three Sisters' Stew



From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...In American Indian tradition, corn, beans and squash are considered to be the Three Sisters. Tribal elders knew these crops flourished when they were planted together and they viewed that harmony as an extension of a belief that all things are intertwined and depend on each other to grow and thrive. The flavors of these vegetables blend well together, so it is no wonder that the combination came to be used in soups and stews that were also called the Three Sisters. There are many versions of this stew and the one I'm featuring is especially easy to make. My interpretation of this dish is actually more like a soup than a stew, so I serve it over a scoop of brown rice to give it more substance. This is a very straightforward recipe and you can't go wrong with it as long as you follow the times suggested in the recipe's directions. You want the vegetables to be a bit past crisp tender, but under no circumstances should they be overcooked. This is a remarkably flavorful stew and I know that those of you who try it will be happy with the results. The vegetables used to make it are now plentiful in local farmers' markets, so if you are a locovore, the stew will have a special appeal to you. Here is how it is made.

Three Sisters' Stew...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Heather and Martha Zschock

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 (14.5-oz.) chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
1-1/2 cups edamame or lima beans
1-1/2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
1-1/2 cups summer squash, halved vertically and sliced
1-1/2 cups zucchini,halved vertically and sliced
1-1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups hot cooked brown rice

Directions:
1) Heat olive oil in a large pan set over medium heat until it shimmers. Add onions, garlic and thyme and saute until onions are translucent. Add stock, wine and edamame. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
2) Add all remaining ingredients, return contents to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, over low heat for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Fill each of 4 bowls with 1/2 cup brown rice. Ladle an equal portion of stew into each bowl. Serve immediately. Yield 4 large servings.

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One Year Ago Today: Chicken Breast with Garlic Wine














Two Years Ago Today: Baja Summer Slaw
















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Four Years Ago Today: Apple and Onion Bread with Cheddar Cheese

Monday, July 29, 2013

Brewster Berrie Smoothie



From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...We normally are restrained breakfast eaters, but when we travel, bacon and eggs and hearty breakfast fare become the order of the day. The Silver Fox and I did not follow that pattern this year. We were on Cape Cod during a period of really high heat and humidity. We were prepared for the heat, but the humidity caught us, and I might add the locals, completely by surprise. The weather was not conducive to a trencherman's breakfast, so I quickly substituted a series of smoothies that our peckish appetites would be better able to handle. While the smoothie that I'm featuring today has a hint of sweetness,  I honestly would have to describe it as tartly refreshing rather than sweet.  We enjoyed it and I think those of you who give it a try will like it as well. It is extremely easy to make, and your breakfast will come together in about 5 minutes, if you have all the ingredients at hand. The cranberries add gorgeous color and flavor to a smoothie that would be quite ordinary without them. I freeze quantities of cranberries every year, so I always have a supply of them on hand for recipes such as this one. I have noticed that our local markets now carry cranberries in their frozen fruit section, so I suspect they are  available year round in most areas.I do hope you'll give this recipe a try. I think you'll enjoy this refreshing smoothie. Here is how it is made.

Brewster Berrie Smoothie...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Carol Berrie

Ingredients:
1/2 cup frozen sliced strawberries
1/4 cup frozen cranberries
1-1/2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup cranberry juice
6-oz. raspberry yogurt
1 large scoop vanilla frozen yogurt

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a blender jar and process until smooth. Serve in tall glasses while still frosty. Yield: 2 servings.

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One Year Ago Today: Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Mixed Berries















Two Years Ago Today: Frenchified Meatloaf















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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Simple Lemon-Glazed Puff Pastry Bites



From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This is one of those quick-fix recipes that every cook should have in their repertoire. These puff pastry bites are simple to make, but they make an elegant presentation on a buffet or tea table, and despite their simplicity they are always well received. The recipe comes from America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook and I've kept it in near constant use since I found it. The trick to good puff pastry is a really hot oven and avoidance of the tendency to peek at the pastry as it bakes. If you can keep that in mind, you'll have puffs that look like they came from a high-end bake shop. This recipe actually gives you three types of glaze with which to finish the pastry bites. I'm featuring the lemon glaze because I think it will be the most popular, but I also love these bites when they are topped with the the toasted almond glaze. I do hope you'll give these a try. Here is how they are made.

Simple Lemon-Glazed Puff Pastry Bites...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook

Ingredients:
1 (9 x 9-inch) sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (i.e. Pepperidge Farm)
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest + 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:
1) Move one oven rack to upper-middle position and another to lower-middle position. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
2) Roll pastry to a 12-inch square on a lightly floured counter and cut into 64 1-1/2-inch squares. Transfer pastry to prepared pans, spacing them about 1/2-inch apart. Bake until fully puffed and golden, about 15 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets halfway through baking.
3) Meanwhile, whisk sugar and lemon zest and juice together in a bowl until smooth. Let pastry cool slightly, then dip tops in glaze. Let glaze set before serving. Yield: 64 pastry bites.

Variations:

Coconut Pastry Bites: Substitute 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract and 2 tablespoons milk for lemon zest and juice. Dip pastry tops in 1/2 cup toasted coconut immediately after dipping into glaze.

Almond Pastry Bites: Substitute 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and 2 tablespoons milk for lemon juice and zest. Dip pastry tops in 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds, chopped, immediately after dipping in glaze.

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One year Ago Today: Warm or Cold Shrimp Rolls
















Two Years Ago Today: Stir-Fried Snow Peas

















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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Caldo Verde - Portuguese Kale Soup





From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...We managed to visit Provincetown during Bear Week and the sheer mass of humanity strolling from one end of town to the other was amazing, even for summer in Provincetown. The sight of a thousand strong shirtless males, some nicely ripped, moving in near cadence with the crowd convinced me that I'm that I'm just old, not dead. While the voyeur in me enjoyed every minute of the long stroll down Commercial Street, my inner cook was frustrated. Save for sweets and sandwiches had at the Portuguese Bakery, there was no evidence of Portuguese food in a community that I had expected to be teeming with it. There is more Portuguese food to be found on the streets of Newark's Ironbound than in this town that was settled by Portuguese fisherman. It was a disappointment, but one I knew could be remedied once I was home and had my recipes at my fingertips. So, I settled for yet another lobster and continued my discreet viewing of half-clad males. When we reached home turf, I asked my butcher to order linguica for me, so I could make some of the dishes I had pulled out of mothballs. I picked it up today and thought this soup would be  a perfect way to start our trip down (Portuguese) memory lane. This is a simple soup to make and the only way it can be spoiled is to overcook it. Simmer the soup just until the kale and potatoes are tender and you will have a peasant meal of some distinction. Let it go too long and you'll have a watery mess on your hands. From start to finish,  this hearty soup takes about an hour to prepare. Stretch it with a loaf of good bread and an amazing salad and you'll have the perfect meal to share with your family after a day on the water. Here is how Caldo Verde is made.  

Portuguese Kale Soup - Caldo Verde...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Heather and Martha Zschock

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pound linguica, sliced, casings removed
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes cut in 3/4-inch dice
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 quart chicken broth
1 pound kale, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1(15-oz.) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1) Heat oil in a 4 to 5-quart soup pot set over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add linguica, potatoes, and onion and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2) Add 2 cups chicken broth, chopped kale and garlic and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until kale wilts. Add remaining 2 cups broth, kidney beans, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes, or until flavors have blended and kale is no longer tough. Serve immediately. Yield: 6 servings.

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One Year Ago Today: Light and Meatless Manicotti















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Friday, July 26, 2013

Simple Bean and Corn Salsa





From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This gorgeous salsa was made twice by my oldest daughter who, as you can tell, is no slouch in the looks department herself. She tends to do things twice. There are two bachelor degrees, both taken in hard majors, that were earned simultaneously when she was an undergraduate at CMU, and there are, of course those 2 really together grandsons she has given us. At any rate, her salsa, refrigerated to ripen for a fish taco supper, was found and devoured by the males of the family who thought it was a snack. Fortunately, this is one of those blessedly simple recipes that comes together in minutes and she was quickly able to put dinner back on course.The recipe is very easy to follow and it is a great dish for young cooks to try. While a bit of smoky flavor will be sacrificed, the toasting of the cumin  can be overlooked if you are busy and simply want to get dinner on the table. Here is how it is made.



Black Bean and Corn Salsa...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Penzeys

Ingredients:
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, lightly toasted
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained (or 2 cups fresh corn kernels, cooked or 2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed)
1 red bell pepper, minced
1/2 cup minced sweet onion
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup lime juice (juice of 2 limes)
1 teaspoon grated lime zest (zest from 1 lime)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:

Combine the cumin, black beans, corn, bell pepper, onion, cilantro, parsley, lime juice and zest, olive oil, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper in a large bowl. Toss thoroughly to combine. Cover and chill in the refrigerator. Use as a side or with tortilla chips as a dip. Yield: 14 to 16 servings.

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One Year Ago Today: Blueberry Pudding Cake and the Floating Post Office














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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Two Summer Sides - Asian Cucumber Salad + Cabbage, Pineapple and Peanut Salad


From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...These recipes both were originally developed to feed four or six people. Last week,  it was necessary to double or triple the ingredients in order to feed the hungry mouths and hollow legs that gathered round the table. I made one salad, and the elder of my two daughters made the other. My cucumber salad was to accompany an Asian meal and her fancy slaw was part of a meal whose centerpiece was fresh fish tacos. The tacos were made with really fresh halibut and they were some of the best I've ever tasted. Kitchen limitations caused us both to take shortcuts and we used packaged vegetables that did away with the need to shred or julienne. I was unable to find English cucumbers, so I had to substitute the regular garden variety that is commonly found in supermarkets. My salad was delicious but it lacked the eye appeal I had hoped for. The slaw had lovely color and great crunch and it was a perfect topper for the tacos. When the time comes for me to relinquish my cooking crown, I know my family will not starve. There is an heir waiting in the wings. Both salads are delicious and each of them can be made in about 15 minutes. They are a great way to add substance and some texture to  lighter summer meals. I think you will enjoy both of them. Here is how they are made.



Asian Cucumber Salad...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Alice Currah@Savory Sweet Life

Ingredients:

3 English cucumber peeled and thinly sliced
1-1/2 cups shredded carrots
3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1-1/2 cups of rice vinegar
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon Thai chili garlic sauce
Salt to taste

Directions:

1) Combine vinegar, sugar, chili garlic sauce and salt in a microwave bowl. Microwave on HIGH power for 45 seconds. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved.
2) Combine cucumbers, carrots, and red onion in a large bowl. Pour vinaigrette over cucumber mixture and toss to coat. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Yield: 12 to 16 servings.


Cabbage, Pineapple and Peanut Salad...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Marie Simmons' Fresh and Fast Vegetarian Cookbook

Ingredients:

Salad
2 (12-oz.) packages of shredded coleslaw
4 cups coarsely chopped pineapple
1 cup coarsely chopped dry-roasted peanuts
1 large jalapeno, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut crosswise into 1/8-inch slices
Dressing
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup unseasoned Japanese rice vinegar
2 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic clove, grated
2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Directions:
1) Combine cabbage, pineapple, peanuts and jalapeno in a large bowl.
2) To make dressing: Whisk oil, vinegar, garlic, ginger and salt in a small bowl until blended. Add to  cabbage and toss to blend. Add cilantro, if using. Serve at room temperature. Yield: 12 to 16 servings.

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