Tomato Basil Butter

From Just The Right Size.

This amazing compound butter is fantastic on fish, grilled vegetables, garlic bread, and heck even as a base for non-sauced pizzas. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg….stir it in to mashed potatoes, soups, sauces, rice, put a dollop on a searing, grilled steak, smear it on grilled corn, mix it with spinach and use it as a filling for chicken breasts or thighs, OH MY!

Heck, I’ve even just spread it on warm bread and dug in…mmmmmmmmmmm.

This freezes amazingly well, so you can dip into this lovliness until next summer!


1 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/ 2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes (about 1 lb.)
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/ 2 cup sweet butter softened
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1/ 2 tsp. salt
1/ 8 tsp. pepper
1/ 4 cup minced fresh basil

Heat the olive oil in a small skillet. Add the tomatoes and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes form a puree that will mound. Let cool.

Put the butter in a mixing bowl and beat in the tomatoes and remaining ingredients. Can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated but best served at room temperature so that it will melt quickly. Freezes well, make a “log”, wrap in waxed paper, then Ziploc bags.

My notes: This is spectacular. Perfect for potlucks — a loaf of bread and a jar of this butter and people will love you.

Flavored popcorns

From The Food Network

Cheddar Cheese Popcorn
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup cheddar cheese powder, plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups popped popcorn
Salt and pepper
In a large bowl, combine the butter, cheddar cheese powder, mustard powder, cayenne pepper and the popcorn. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and toss to combine. Serve immediately.


Nutty Caramel Corn
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand
This is what I call real Chicago regional cuisine. Garrets, a popcorn shop in Chicago with lines out the door always, is famous for it’s caramel corn and cheese corn. I love them both and have been known at times to mix the two for that favorite of flavor combinations, salt and sweet. Cracker Jack, the best known brand of caramel corn was invented and is produced in Chicago since 1893 when it was shown, of course, at the Columbian exhibition. We’re known as the Candy Capital because of the large number of Candy Manufacturers that have made Chicago there home because of good railway systems to bring in ingredients from far away and plenty of corn all over the state to make the main ingredient, corn syrup. My favorite “toy surprise inside” was a miniature blue toaster with a piece of toast. It was about 1 inch big and I still have it in my charm collection with my play food. You can, of course, use what ever your favorite kind of nuts are. Spanish peanuts are the classic, but think open-minded and try something different. Pistachios or pine nuts perhaps.
2 cups sugar
2/3 cups water
1 tablespoon butter
4 cups popped corn (See Note)
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/2 cup toasted cashews, chopped
Equipment: Silicone baking mat

Pour the sugar into the center of a deep saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer. Carefully pour the water around the walls of the pan, trying not to splash any sugar onto the walls. Do not stir; gently draw your finger twice through the center of the sugar, making a cross, to moisten it. Over high heat, bring to a full boil and cook without stirring until golden caramel, about 10 to 15 minutes, swirling the mixture occasionally to even out the color.
Turn off the heat and stir in the butter. Add the popcorn, pecans, and cashews. Pour onto a silicone baking mat on the counter, or a marble surface. Let the mixture cool a few minutes; then start breaking it up into clusters, working quickly so it doesn’t harden and you don’t burn yourself. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Note: I use Black Diamond Popcorn with its petit size “hulless” kernel. To popcorn properly, place the kernels in a heavy-bottomed large pot and cover then with oil. Put the lid on and cook on high until you hear the first pop. Immediately take it off the heat and let it sit 1 minute. Then return it to the heat and finish popping, shaking the pan the whole time. I don’t know why this is better but this is what my dad does and his popcorn was always the best.

Rhoda’s Cranberry Chutney

From “a skier’s thanksgiving,” Local Flavor, Nov 06. Writer’s comment: A couple of years ago I tried my friend Rhoda Sherry’s cranberry chutney, and asked her to email it to me. Her comment: “The first time people have it, they go, “Wow!” Usually people just make cranberry sauce or jelly. This recipe has zest to it and it adds a great component to the palate.” Well-known in food and wine circles in Santa Fe, Rhoda and her husband Howard are suporters of Santa Fe’s best restaurants and count wine distributors, wine importers, and some of Europe’s great winemakers among their friends. One of the best cooks I know, she perfected this recipe over time. Since you serve the dish cold, you can make it the day before.

Rhoda’s Cranberry Chutney
1 C Water
3/4 C dark brown sugar
1/2 C white sugar
1 C sliced onions
3/4 C cider vinegar or white vinegar
2 tart apples (try Granny Smith), peeled, seeded, and diced
1/2 t salt
1 or 2 t fresh grated ginger
1/2 t each mace/nutmeg and curry powder
grated rinds of 2 oranges
1 lb fresh cranberries, washed & picked over
1/2 C currants or black raisins
The strained juice of the 2 oranges
tiny amount of dried, hot red pepper flakes

Simmer sugars and onions in the water for 30-35 minutes. Stir in vinegar, apples, salt, ginger, mace/nutmeg, curry powder, and orange rinds. Simmer at least 30 minutes more, then stir in cranberries, currants, and orange juice. Continue cooking at least 10-15 minutes or longer, until the cranberries burst. Serve chilled.


So we found a gallon of organic milk for $.99 at our local Cooperative Grocery Store
(it was dated the next day) and decided to make paneer. It was easy as, well, cheese. :)

Put the milk in a big pot. Heat to a boil, stirring regularly. Turn down to a simmer and add tablespoons of milk, one at a time, stirring constantly, until the curds and whey separate (you get white clumps and sort of greenish liquid). Keep stirring for a bit (~30 seconds) and then pour into a cheese-cloth lined colander. You can rinse it quickly to remove any lemony flavor if you want to at this point. You can also add spices of flavorings — cumin, salt, herbs, whatever. Gather together the cheesecloth ends and tie it together with a rubber band or something so there’s a ball of cheese curds that you then hang to drain for a while. You can then put it under a heavy pot or something to drain even more if you want a firmer cheese, or use it like ricotta in lasagna or whatever.

(As far as I can tell, Paneer and Farmer’s Cheese are the same, just from different cultures.)

We used half with green beans (well, yellow ones) to make a veg dish from Crescent Dragonwagon’s Passionate Vegetarian; it was good, but if we make it again we need to use more tomato so there’s more sauce. It’ll flavor the rice better at that point. The other half ended up in a casserole dish on the grill with some veggies and garlic, onion, etc. Also tasty. Paneer doesn’t melt, it just softens, so use it accordingly. I wanted to use it on kabobs, but it crumbled and wouldn’t let me poke the stick through. Oh well.

Kathy’s Cheesecake Dip

From her blog.

I made this fruit dip for Arden’s St. Patrick’s Day party at preschool (I brought green fruit – apples and grapes – and dip) and it was a huge hit. It tastes just like cheesecake and is incredibly easy to make up. If you made it with a little less cream, it would make a perfect frosting for cupcakes as well.

Cheesecake Dip
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Heat over medium-low heat in a small pot until smooth, stirring frequently. A whisk helps to break up lumps easily. Cool to room temperature and serve.

Ollie’s Potstickers

My friend Ollie makes reeeeally good potstickers. Really good. He’s finally given me the recipe, more or less. So here goes. As a prelim, here is a tutorial, with pictures, on the fine art of potsticker making.

Ollie says this recipe is close for the dough. 2 parts flour to one part water. It says: “In a bowl, mix the flour and 1 cup boiling water until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough on a lightly flour surface about 5 minutes, or until smooth.

Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a roll 12 inches long and cut each roll into 1/2-inch slices.

Roll 1 slice of dough into a 3-inch circle and place 1 tablespoon pork mixture in the center of the circle. Lift up the edges of the circle and pinch 5 pleats up to create a pouch to encase the mixture. Pinch the top together. Repeat with the remaining slices of dough and filling.”

Ingredients: ground pork, shrimp, egg, bok choi, water chestnuts, shittake mushrooms
This is close to the recipe Ollie uses, but he doesn’t use carrots.

Ollie’s directions:
i usually use ~ 1 lb of pork, and about twice as much volume in veggies, and maybe 1/2 or 1/4 lb shrimp. grind pork and shrimp and egg in food processor. you might need to do 1/2 at a time for both meat and veggies, depending on size of processor. the hardcore way is to use your cleaver to grind everything. chop chop! chop lots! be careful not to grind to much otherwise your pork and shrimp and veggies turn into pate.

i cook in sesame oil for flavor. fry the potstickers in a pan until the bottoms are browned. pour in water and cover to steam them. jenn says to pour in 2oz at a time and let it boil off, do it several times. that way it might not break apart with the skins stuck to the pan.

oh yeah, when you roll out the dough there are two methods.
method 1: get a little ball of the right size (right size depends on whether you like the dough thick or thin), roll it into a circle
method 2: roll the dough flat, then cut out circles with a cup.
i use method 2, and i use those rolling pin rubber bands now… great stuff.
if you have a pasta maker you can roll the dough flat in that.

Serve with dipping sauce; this is a good one, but add chili oil.

Fire-Roasted Salsa (from canned tomatoes)

From the back of the can of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes With Medium Green Chilies. We’ve been making this recipe for years, and realized that we’d be miserable if they ever replaced the recipe with something else. So here it is.

Fire-Roasted Salsa
Here’s our favorite zesty salsa recipe! It’s best if allowed to chill for 3 to 4 hours before serving to blend the flavors.
2 cans (14.5 oz each) Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles, Undrained
3/4 cup chopped red onion
1 green onion, chopped (1 T)
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 t lime juice
1/4 t salt

Mix all ingredients thoroughly in large bowl. Cover and chill. Makes about 4.5 cups.

The amounts can vary; we always approximate. We often add some cayenne or other dried pepper to boost the heat a little. We use a garlic press instead of mincing it, because it’s easier. It’s not the world’s best salsa recipe, but it’s awfully tasty regardless. Extra-tasty if you add some feta or crumbled Mexican soft cheese.