Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bob's in the Kitchen - Retro Meatloaf

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Meatloaf isn't glamorous, but like most of you who have raised, or are raising a family, I can make one in my sleep. I have at least a dozen recipes for loaves of one type or another. Some are fancy and can rival the finest of French pates, but this effortless creation is the one that I relied on when I was working and all the chairs around my table were still occupied. It is one of the few recipes in my collection that relies on a dehydrated soup mix.  I gave myself absolution for using it years ago and I'm unapologetic about its use in this particular recipe. It simply works better than fresh onions in this meatloaf. I suspect the recipe originally came from the Lipton's test kitchens, but I have not been able to verify that or identify who else might have been responsible for its creation. It you can fill in the blanks, please let me know so I can properly credit the source.  The loaf takes about 10 minutes to mix, and if you form it into mini-loaves as I have here, you can have dinner on the table in just a bit over 30 minutes. If you prefer to bake it as a single loaf, use a 9 x 5 x 2-inch loaf pan to form it, but turn it onto a baking pan to bake for about 50 to 60 minutes. The freestanding loaf allows all surfaces of the meatloaf to be glazed and helps keep it  from sitting in the drippings that are released as it bakes. This recipe will make 6 servings. It can be doubled or tripled if you are feeding a gang. This makes an nice entree for a family meal. I know those of you who try it will appreciate the ease with which this comes together. It's a great recipe to make in the kitchen of a vacation rental. Here's how the meatloaf is made.

Bob's Notes: If I can make this, so can you. Dinner tonight was meatloaf, baked potatoes and salad. It was pretty good. You can find the recipe here.

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Bet You didn't Know That Lightening Can Strike Twice

Few among us actually believe we'll become a medical statistic, but there are times when the fates and furies coalesce and we find ourselves in a column of statistical anomalies. That has happened here and I wanted to explain why I have not been posting and why features here will be a bit different for the next 4 to 6 weeks. I have had a another retinal detachment, the second in seven years, and can't lift, bend, push or carry for the next month or so. That means I won't be doing a lot of work in the kitchen. Bob - the Silver Fox - has become chief cook and bottle washer around here and we are going to be posting the very simple recipes he feels comfortable preparing. To be honest, that we are posting at all is based on the need to feed the search engines that determine blog rank. They are merciless and don't care much for excused absences, so I do hope you all will bear with us. Things will eventually get back to normal.

I did, however, want to take this opportunity to tell you about retinal detachments. Most people know about heart attack and stroke symptoms, but few know the symptoms of a retinal detachment and the urgent need to get treatment should a detachment occur. Failure to seek out proper care can lead to blindness. The symptoms of a retinal detachment include flashes of light, an increase in floaters, or a dark curtain that forms across your field of vision. Other symptoms include holes in your visual field, peripheral vision loss, and wavy lines. If you have any of these symptoms, especially if you are nearsighted, had cataract surgery or corneal transplants, see your eye doctor immediately.

The overall chance of having a detached retina is 1 in 15,000. Some sources indicate the chances are 1 in 10,000. That works out to 25,000 retinal detachments in the U.S. every year. 40 to 50 % of retinal detachment patients are nearsighted/shortsighted (myopic) and 5% of very nearsighted people (over 6 Diopter correction) will experience a retinal detachment in their lifetime.

There are no preventive techniques, so it is really important that you speak with a skilled ophthalmologist if you have any of the symptoms we've talked about or you are a member of a high-risk population. Most retinal tears and detachments can be repaired if they are found early enough. Hopefully, forewarned is forearmed. As for me, I am a tough old bird, and, so far, things are progressing normally. Like Arnold, "I vill be back!" Hugs and blessings...Mary

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Dips and Spreads for Super Bowl Sunday

Next Sunday is the big game day. I thought a reprise of these well-received recipes was in order. Any one of these dips or spreads would be perfect for your family and guests. They are all easy to make and I guarantee they are delicious. They are so simple that there's still have time to make and enjoy them with your family and friends this afternoon. Without further here are some of my favorite quick dips and spreads.

Light and Chunky Clam Dip

Friday, January 23, 2015

Linguine with Tomato Cream Sauce and Cheese

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Menus, like rules are meant to be broken. Not arbitrarily, mind you, but there are days when even your best effort won't get the meal you planned to the table on time. That happened to me today. We had unexpected guests and chatted for so long that I had to revise my dinner plans. I needed to come up with something, that while simple to make, would be delicious and could be made from ingredients I had on hand. Working quickly through my options, I settled on this pasta which takes about 20 minutes to prepare. I had garlic bread and ice cream in the freezer, a bagged salad in the crisper and an unopened bottle of Rioja left from the holidays, so there would be a meal, bare bones to be sure, but enough to feed four adults whose appetites were no longer gargantuan. Once I had gathered all the ingredients, I rolled up my sleeves, took a deep breath and had dinner on the table in just a bit over 30 minutes. It was nice, but I'm glad this doesn't happen often. One is supposed to be Zen-like in their dotage and I am here to tell you this is no way to find enlightenment. The pasta is obviously easy to make, but don't discount it because of its simplicity. It really is delicious and I think you'll enjoy it. It is inexpensive to make and it would be perfect for those of you who are looking for Meatless Monday recipes. Here is how this lovely pasta sauce is made. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mexican White Bean Soup

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...When the weather outside is frightful, I'd like to suggest a cupful of this hearty Mexican soup. While brandy would be delightful, this bean soup is infinitely better for your liver and it will cure baldness and improve your general well-being as well. I was told that by a snake oil salesman, who swore lightning would strike him dead if I did not like his soup. I wasn't looking for a miracle, mind you, so he escaped annihilation, and in the realm of good cheap food, this soup is not at all bad. It is inexpensive to make, really easy to prepare and chances are you already have the ingredients needed to make it in your pantry. I'm not, generally, a huge fan Mexican bean soups because I find their flavors to be muddy and their appearance singularly unattractive. The orange juice and zest that are used in this recipe really brighten the flavor of the soup. When I make this for the Silver Fox, I use a tablespoon or two of orange liqueur rather than the fresh orange that is called for in the original recipe, which, by the way, came from Better Homes and Gardens magazine. The sour cream and cilantro garnish add flavor and more importantly, help improve the appearance of the soup. If you are looking  for a cold weather soup, and your family enjoys Mexican food, you can't go wrong with this one.  Here is how the soup is made.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Buttermilk Pie

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This wonderfully light and airy pie is a creation that comes from Fine Cooking magazine. The pie is simple to make and when served with berries or macerated fruits, it is the perfect way to bring a bit of summer to your winter table. The custard-like filling has some bite thanks to an infusion of buttermilk and lemon, while the topping, which lightly caramelizes as the pie bakes, adds the perfect touch of sweetness to this unusual pie. I like to serve this dessert while it is slightly warm with whatever soft fruit I have on hand. On the odd chance that you have leftovers, be sure to refrigerate them. I know those of you who give this pie a try will love it. Here is how it's made.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I must begin this post with a caution. While this is a pleasant sweet bread, it's not of the caliber you would serve to the queen or your mother-in-law. Why then am I featuring it? Because it can be prepared with no special equipment and it is very, very easy to make. I have a series of recipes that I call cottage coffee cakes, so named because they can be made with a bowl and spoon in kitchens that are only minimally equipped. I also make this bread when I've volunteered to bring something for morning meeting and the clock has run out on me or me on it. When I am in my own kitchen, I sift the dry ingredients together and combine all the liquids in a large pyrex cup. When we are on the road, anything goes and I usually use a fork to combine the dry ingredients in a bowl to which wet ingredients are added in the order that's specified in the recipe. The bread made with a bit more finesse is lighter, but I must admit both are flavorful and they are perfect for a Sunday breakfast when you are in a hurry or teaching a young cook. The finished cake/bread is moist  and I suspect you'll absolutely love its crunchy sugar topping. I hope you'll keep this recipe in mind for the appropriate occasion. Here is how the swirled loaves are made.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Golden Potato and Onion Soup

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...A delightfully unexpected visit led to the cancellation of all our dinner plans this weekend. To make the most of the time with our guest, main meals were taken in restaurants, usually at lunch time, leaving evenings for lighter fare and fire-side conversation. I have had this soup on file for months now, but had never given it a try. I thought it would make a perfect supper for us this weekend. This is basically a new take on French onion soup, but potatoes, cheese and cream are added to produce an unexpectedly creamy version of the classic soup. The end result is rich and tasty, and a bit of a surprise, given the ease with which the simple ingredients come together. I really think you'll enjoy this and I hope you'll give it a try. Here is how it's made.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Cinnamon Chip Muffins

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...While I must admit these taste more like cupcakes than muffins, they are, quite simply, delicious. Add to that the fact they are easy to make and you have the start of a really great breakfast, brunch, or morning coffee. I'm generally not a fan of muffins because I prefer the less treacly taste of scones and morning sweet breads. These, however, gave me pause for thought. I love cinnamon and these have that in abundance. They also have a wonderful texture and a crumb that makes them perfect to serve with morning or evening coffee. While I am lazy and prefer to make giant or Texas-size muffins, those who prefer the standard-size variety will find this recipe accommodating. Do make sure you thoroughly grease the pans you use, and if you prefer to use cupcake liners, make sure you spray the interiors of the paper liners with a nonstick spray to assure easy release. I really liked these muffins and will make them again for morning meetings or coffees. I think you will enjoy them as well. Here is how they are made.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Herbed Rice Pilaf

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I fall back on this recipe whenever I need rice to feed a gang. It is simple to make and it's as easy on the cook as it is on the pocketbook. One of the groups I belong to has a monthly luncheon that is a potluck of sorts. While the hostess is responsible for the main course, the rest of us bring dishes that will compliment her choice and complete the meal. Our hostess today prepared grilled lamb kabobs for 12 of us. I'll wager that those of you not living in the Southern Hemisphere, are looking out your windows at scenes more conducive to ice fishing than barbecuing, and are wondering why anyone in their right mind would fire up a grill in the depths of a winter downpour. While "nuts" is no longer politically correct, those of who live in the Pacific Northwest will admit to occasionally being a few peas short of a pod. The rain does it to us. Rain, if you deal with enough of it, steels the spirit and becomes nothing more than an inconvenience to a hardened Oregonian. You can't let it stop you, so, yes, we grill in the middle of a deluge, and while most of us have decks that make that possible, you'll occasionally see someone in a yellow "sou'wester" standing over a grill with a red umbrella in hand to protect the sacred flame. Back to the rice. This recipe can be halved or doubled and it can be made ahead of time and rewarmed when needed. It is delicious and I think your family will enjoy it as much as mine does. It is perfect to share with any grilled meat, but it is especially nice with lamb. Here is how it is made.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Parmesan and Parsley Biscuits

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This recipe is over a decade old. It originally appeared in Bon Appetit magazine and I pull it out at this time of year when I want to make something different to serve with soup and stews. I've cut the ingredients for the biscuits in half because I found the published version of the recipe, seen here, made 24 2-inch biscuits which I think you'll agree is a tad extreme for two people. While the directions that I'm sharing for the biscuits are old school, they can be made in a food processor if you are busy, so inclined or both. The biscuits are delicious when served hot from the oven, but they are, unfortunately, not good keepers. I suggested you use finely ground black pepper if you decided to try them. Coarse cracked pepper does not disburse well through the other ingredients and the play of the pepper and the cheese is what makes these biscuits out of the ordinary. The Silver Fox slathers his with butter, but I think they are flavorful enough to eat out of hand. I do hope you'll give this recipe a try. I know you'll enjoy the biscuits. Here is how they are made.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Parmesan Oyster Crackers

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...There was no joy in Mudville last night. Our football team, the Oregon Ducks, got whooped and somehow, my guy still swears it just happened, the commiseration party moved from the parking lot to our home. Now I must tell you that football is taken seriously here and this was a desolate crowd. I've been to Irish wakes that were more upbeat than this impromptu get-together. When it became apparent that the crew of Monday morning quarterbacks was going to hash the game to pieces, I called for pizzas and brought in a cooler that we use to hold beer for unexpected guests. Mother Hubbard's cupboard was pretty bare, but I had a bag of pretzels for immediate consumption and some oyster crackers that I could play with while they had their first round of beer. Tyler Florence has a recipe for Parmesan oyster crackers that I often use when I'm in a crunch and I decided to go with that, 'cause, from the kitchen's perspective, this was definitely 4th down. These flavored crackers are simple to make and while they are wonderful with soup, they also make a great snack. If you know you'll find the gang on your couch come game day or movie night, you might want to keep this recipe in mind. Here is how the crackers are made.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lentil and Barley Soup

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...The bird's are back and that's an omen around here. No matter how terrible the weather, the robins and their bickering are a sure sign that spring is on the horizon. That doesn't push back the chill, but it makes it easier to surrender to the limitations of days that are often dank and gray. My real weapon is my stockpot, which I don't bother to put away at this time of year. Years ago, women in the neighborhood where I grew up, kept soup pots, some filled only with water, simmering on the stove to provide humidity throughout the winter. Truth be told, I think that spoiled me. The aromas of slow-simmering soups and bread baking are as much a part of my winters as the Christmas tree and pond ice. Our furnace has a humidifier, but on really cold, dank days I still make soup and let it steam my kitchen windows as it perfumes the house. Today was a bread and soup day. I adore limpa bread and while it rose, I toured my pantry. Actually, these days my pantry is a series of storage shelves whose content has to be monitored in a near-religious fashion. If I want to put something in, something has to come out. I had lentils and barley whose time had come and I decided to use them as the base of a meatless soup. I had no recipe in mind, so what turned out to be a delicious soup, was a pinch of this and that creation. I do hope you'll give this lovely winter soup a try. I took careful notes, so I can share how it's made.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Multigrain Pancakes

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite..."These aren't half bad." That's not me speaking. It's the Silver Fox who gets shaky whenever the words meatless or wholegrain are mentioned and nears panic state when both are used in the same sentence. I knew he was a carnivore when I married him, but I still feel compelled to try and bring him along. To that end, we had these pancakes for breakfast this morning and while he thought they were a bit heavy, he loved their flavor. I count that as a point for the home team. If you are looking for a healthy version of breakfast pancakes, you might want to give this recipe a try. It comes from Midwest Living magazine and I think you'll find it is only marginally more involved than your standard breakfast variety. The recipe is straight forward and quite easy to follow. If you are curious, here's how they are made. Remember, "they aren't half bad."

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Skillet Sugar Cake

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...If you have a sweet tooth that's on the wild side, I think you'll love this cake. It's almost effortless to make and while it tastes a bit like an angel food cake, it has more substance and a lovely crumb. Skillet cakes are Southern in origin, and the one I'm sharing with you tonight is just one of the many types that are served in that region. I found the recipe for the cake on a fabulous blog whose name says it all - Chocolate, Chocolate and More. The cake can be enjoyed as a stand alone for dessert or a snack, but I like to serve it as a base for macerated fruit. Do make sure your ingredients are at room temperature when you begin to mix the cake, as the creaming of the shortening and milk can be tricky if either are cold. If you are looking for a new snack cake or base for a short-less shortcake you might want to give this one a try. Here is how the cake is made.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Cloudy with a Chance of Slow-Cooked Porcini Meatballs

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Those of you who can't imagine life without a slow cooker will love this recipe. Those of you who love meatballs, no matter how they're cooked, will join the slow cooker crowd up there on cloud nine. Despite the length of the ingredient list, which, by the way, is mostly spices, the meatballs are simple to make, and the addition of sweet vermouth and fennel give them a distinctive flavor that I think you'll really enjoy. While the recipe was designed for the slow cooker, the sauce and meatballs can be simmered in a conventional manner if you prefer to control cooking on your stove top. However you chose to cook them, I want to share a couple of suggestions with those of you who plan to give the meatballs a try. If you want to serve them with pasta, double the sauce ingredients listed in the recipe below. What follows next is, I know anathema, but that's never stopped me before, so, based on personal experience and preference, I'd like you to give some serious thought to cooking the meatballs for less time than the recipe suggests. When I make these meatballs in a convention manner, I simmer them, stove top, for an hour. When I use the slow cooker I cook them on LOW for six hours. I like softer meatballs, and, my experience has been, the longer these cook the firmer they become. That may, however, be fine with you. Strangely enough, I've also found their taste does not improve with age. The flavor of the sweet vermouth seems to dissipate when the meatballs are re-heated and, on day two I think they they are remarkably ordinary. All that being said, if you share my love for meatballs and are looking for new ways to prepare them, do give this recipe a try. You will not be disappointed. Here is how they are made.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Table for Two - Sticky Garlic Chicken

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This is an adaption of a recipe that has been on the internet for over a decade. I can't find the source of the original recipe, so I'll have to save my thanks to its creator for a later date. I've gone ahead and altered the recipe to feed a family of two and in the process have found yet another way to use those huge pterodactyl breasts that are sold in supermarkets today. Our supper tonight was a single breast that weighed 1-1/2 pounds. I normally save these huge breasts for soups, stews and stir fries, but I knew this adapted recipe was a perfect way to use one the three huge breasts in my sale package. I honestly don't know how a chicken this size can move, much less fly, but I'll just have to assume that nature somehow finds a way. Breasts are not the most flavorful part of the chicken, so one of my cautions to those of you who follow in my stead, is to be sure and liberally season the meat with salt and pepper before you cook it. I season my chicken before I tenderize it, and I've found that using a jaccard helps to season the interior of the meat as well. I, by the way, routinely use a jaccard to tenderize chicken breasts and I think it works wonders. I've also doubled the amount of sauce I make to serve with the breasts for two. With the understanding that tastes differ from one person to the next, I thought the most popular version of this recipe produced a dry and under-seasoned chicken. That was easy enough to take care of and the recipe below reflects the changes I've made. You might want to make changes of your own. I like this recipe. I wouldn't serve it to guests but I think it makes a great family meal. I served our chicken tonight with oven roast potatoes, but the chicken is also wonderful when served in a Cobb or Caesar salad. I do hope you'll give this dish a try. Here is how my version of it is made.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

White House Honey-Oat Muffins

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...While I won't go so far as to say these are healthy muffins, I will say they are probably better for you than most you've come across. I found this recipe in a very old issue of Food and Wine magazine, and it caught my eye and was clipped because of its pedigree. Spike Mendelsohn, a former contestant on Top Chef, apparently made these muffins for Michele Obama, who liked them, and, hence the "White House" moniker was appended to his recipe. I've wanted to try them for a long time and the holiday gave me a chance to make them for a guest who is a fan of not too sweet, breakfast pastry. She really liked these. Now, I must warn you that these muffins, when baked, will win no beauty contests, and because they are just barely sweet, be sure you know the audience you're going to serve them to. That being said, the muffins are quite good and easy to make. I do, however, want to alert you to a small problem I encountered when baking my first batch. Now, it may be that the size of standard muffin pans has changed over the years, but if newer pans still have cups that hold 3-1/2 ounces, this recipe will make more batter than you need to fill 12 cups. Don't overfill the cups or you will have a mess on your hands when you try to unmold them. Please don't ask how I know. Somethings are better not shared with the world at large. Second time around, I was able to make 16 muffins using the ingredients listed below. If you like to start your day with a muffin and enjoy pastry that is not too sweet, you'll enjoy these. The honey and coriander give them a unique flavor that is worth a try. Here is how they are made.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Buttermilk Corn Muffins with Honey Butter

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Time was, my friends, when corn bread was a simple thing. There was a Southern corn bread and a less sweet Northern, or "Yankee", version. Somewhere along the way, folks started playing with this simple staple. To improve its appearance, the batter was moved to muffin cups and its humble ingredients were enhanced with more glamorous bits and bobs from the pantry or fridge. I'd like to blame food editors for the adulteration, but I can't bring myself to do that. Can you imagine the effort involved in trying to show old foods, the ones that everyone knows, in a new light? I'll wager it's exhausting when you get to the 103rd version of chocolate chip cookies and still have to find a new take on Thanksgiving turkey in the middle of a summer heatwave. So, I'll give them a pass on the proliferation of theme and variation recipes that appear in food magazines month after month, especially those for corn bread. Having said that, I'm going to take a stand here. I love the original Yankee corn bread and entertain other versions only because the Silver Fox likes things sweeter than I do. We've been having a lot of soup lately, and in order to avoid making yeast bread or rolls, I've made corn bread or corn muffins to accompany it. The Silver Fox really enjoys the taste of the double corn muffins I'm sharing with you tonight. I enjoy them because they are fast and simple to make. Does that make them a win win? I'll let you be the judge. At any rate, if you are looking for a new version of corn muffins to serve for breakfast or with your winter soups or stews you might want to give these a try. Here is how they are made.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Chicken and Barley Soup

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...It was bone-chilling cold today and the sun chose to hibernate rather than to fight back the clouds. It was not a day to inspire greatness. I thought I'd write some and finish packing away the last of the Christmas ornaments. As it worked out, I did neither, and I was left staring at a metaphoric empty page and looking at fire-red poinsettias that seemed glaringly bright and tasteless now that the holiday was over. While I was at it, I chucked my dinner plans and came very close to opening a can of soup for supper. I caught myself in the nick of time, though I couldn't shake the thought of soup by the fire on such a bone-chilling day. After checking what I had on hand, I decided to play with a recipe for Chicken and Barley soup that I had originally seen on the Panera website. You can see their version of the soup, which is made in a slow cooker, here. I had to do some ingredient substitution, so while I ran with their idea, I pulled out my stockpot and made the soup the old-fashioned way. I used what my butcher calls "scrap chicken" for my soup. While inelegant, I've found it to be great for making chicken soup or broth. The scraps are packed  in 2-1/2 to  3 pound packages that both contain chicken trimmings and fat. I render the fat, a trick learned in my childhood, and use it to saute the barley, as well as the chicken and vegetables, that make up the base of the soup. Once everything has been sauteed,  I add the wine and stock and let the pot simmer for about an hour, or until the barley is tender. I use one pan from start to finish and I must admit I was really pleased with the depth of flavor the soup developed in such a short period of time. If you can't find packaged chicken scraps, use the same weight of boneless chicken thighs and saute them in a combination of oil and butter. I really think you'll like this soup. Here is how it's made.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Irish Coffee Cheesecake Bars

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...These cheesecake bars were one of two kitchen surprises this holiday season. They, along with the Poteca cake, proved to be delicious and what began as an attempt to find something different for holiday meals, ended up with the addition of two new recipes to my holiday repertoire. These bars are simply wonderful and I recommend them to you without reservation. They were inspired by a recipe I found in an old issue of Bon Appetit magazine, and, to be honest, I decided to make the bars only because I had whiskey left from the provisions for Irish coffee that we served at get-together earlier in the week. I closely followed the original recipe, but I added whiskey to the ingredient list and decided to "frost" the bars with whipped cream rather than dollop it over them. I also decided to freeze the cheesecake prior to cutting it into bars. This makes for neat slices which help improve their appearance. Once cut, I returned the bars the freezer where they could be extracted in any quantity needed for a specific occasion. I cannot be trusted when there is a ready-to-eat cheesecake in the house, so the freezing step is an absolute necessity in our house. The bars can be thawed in the refrigerator in an hour or so, but when pressed for time, they can be thawed at room temperature in about 20 minutes. This is not an overly sweet dessert and if you enjoy coffee flavored desserts, you will love these bars. They are truly espresso flavored, and, it goes without saying, that more whiskey can be added should you feel it's needed. Here is how the bars are made.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Poteca Cake

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Poteca is a Slovenian buttery yeast-based pastry that is filled with ground walnuts or poppy seeds and prepared for holidays and special festive occasions such as weddings. Christmas is celebrated throughout Slovenia, though it is a simple affair whose focus remains church and family. Traditionally, the few gifts that are exchanged are food and candy for the children, but a festive table is set for both the Christmas and Easter holiday and Poteca, which is an original Slovenian specialty, will be served at both celebrations. It is considered to be a ritual blessing food and it has appeared on Slovenian tables since the 15th century. Needless-to-say, there are hundreds of recipes for this specialty bread, and, like many folks, I was hesitant to try any of them because the bread looked too complicated to try. This year I bit the bullet and decided to include it with our New Year's Day breakfast. Actually, along with a pineapple juice concoction that is better not discussed, it was our breakfast, and, hopefully, without sounding too full of myself, it turned out to be delicious. I settled on a recipe I found in a special Taste of Home publication called The Best Holiday Recipes and it did not disappoint, though it was not without challenges. This a really more a cake than a bread and while it is made with lots of yeast it rises very little. After the prescribed period of refrigeration, the dough remained brick-like, though it had come together in a cohesive mass. I had a moment of doubt and almost threw it out, but I decided to let the dough sit for about 30 minutes before I divided and rolled it. I must admit that I was not able to achieve the 20 x 20-inch square suggested in the recipe, but I was able to coax mine into an almost 16-inch square that I arbitrarily declared good enough. The rest of the instructions were easy to follow and I actually got both rings into the pan and an hour later had a Poteca that my family loved. It was not beautiful, but it was surprisingly tasty and much more like a cake than a bread. I urge any of you who have the time to give this very special coffee cake a try. It is delicious, and, yes, it had my socks going up and down. Here is the recipe for those of you enjoy a challenge.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year and Rose Bowl Special - Smoked Salmon Pate

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I slept later than is my habit this morning. Most of you are unaware that I am the reason the birds greet the sun every morning. I disturb their sleep, quite unintentionally mind you, as I ready myself and the coffee that will fuel the coming day. This morning was rough. We, the birds and I, awoke to a layer of hoar frost on any surface that had been exposed to the elements last night. We, now said only in the royal sense, despite the cold, had neighbors who needed airport transit to catch for the first flight to San Francisco. Our local team, known here as the Mighty Ducks, made it to the Rose Bowl and our town has come unwrapped. Those who can afford it, have traveled to the game, while those without wings frequent sport's bars or glue themselves to the largest television screen in the neighborhood. I can now identify the units in our development that have large screen TV's. At a mere 34 inches, we are pikers, but that also means I don't have to entertain today, and can get on with the critical chore of the day - shrink wrapping our indoor Christmas tree. The shrink wrap thing will be a story for another day, 'cause today is about football. I haven't divorced myself from the game mind you, but I have quite happily sent the Silver Fox down the lane, armed with tuna and smoked salmon pate, to bond with his new compadres, who insist they are not chip and dip people. Both these pates make great game day snacks, even for chip and dip people, and while I'll eventually share both of them with you, I wanted to start with the salmon pate because it is effortless to make. Here is how it's made.

Woo-Hoo - They Won!

That's A Wrap - My Favorite Dessert Recipes of 2014

I wanted to share some of my favorite dessert recipes with you as the countdown to 2015 nears its end. All the cakes and pastries I'm featuring tonight have been prepared for, and reviewed by, my family before they are posted here. I must admit their choices surprised me. I have added over 150 dessert recipes to the blog this year, and the ones they have chosen as their favorites are, for the most part, simple, unsophisticated and easy to prepare. They've picked one recipe to represent each month of 2014 and I really think you and your family will enjoy them. Here are their choices for the best desert recipes of the year.

                                                    By Month

                            January:                                                                   February:
                Hot Milk Sponge Cake                                               Chocolate Chunk Scones

                          March:                                                                             April: 
   Cream-Filled Cinnamon Coffee Cake                                      Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake

                                May:                                                                           June: 
             Layered Mocha Cheese Cake                                          Old German Cream Cake

                            July:                                                                            August: 
                      Magic Cake                                                           Old Black Magic Cake

                         September:                                                                  October: 
       Fresh Apple and Cinnamon Scones                               Winter Apple and Cherry Short Cake

                             November:                                                                 December: 
     Brown Sugar and Sweet Potato Bundt Cake                                Butterscotch Pecan Rolls

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