Monday, May 30, 2016

Cocoa Cake

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...We had a birthday to celebrate this weekend. The birthday boy wanted a chocolate cake, but given the limitations of kitchens at the lake, common sense dictated the cake be made ahead of time and packed for travel. The cake I decided to make is extremely easy to prepare and it freezes beautifully. The recipe comes from Hershey's test kitchens, and it has been successfully made by experienced and novice cooks alike. I wanted a grand cake, so I doubled the recipe to make three 9-inch layers with enough extra batter to make a dozen cupcakes as well. I used whipped cream as a filling between the layers, and to improve the appearance of the finished cake, I coated the sides with toasted hazelnuts and the top with grated chocolate. The finished cake was quite attractive, but more to the point, it was drop dead delicious and looked like it took more effort than it actually did. This recipe has been around for a while now. I urge any of you who have not yet tried it, to give it a shot. It's hard to beat easy and delicious. Here is how the cake and frosting are made.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Chicken Cheesesteak Hoagies

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...The season at the lake begins this weekend, and we traditionally gather with other summer residents to celebrate the start of the new season. There's always a lot of food and good-natured merriment as we catch up on the exploits and adventures of the past winter season. The Silver Fox and I don't own property here, but we've stayed in most of the cabins on the lake and, as renters, we're nearly as familiar with these properties as their owners. We are especially fortunate because these folks have adopted us and consider us part of their community. I'm trying to stay out of the kitchen this weekend, so I've done a lot of cooking ahead of time, hoping that will allow me mingle, rather than mash and mix. I like the dishes I contribute to have my signature on them. To that end, they must be delicious, but not fussy or complicated. This year I settled on two sandwiches. One chicken, the other beef. The chicken sandwich is patterned after a Philadelphia cheesesteak, and once its components are sliced and diced, it comes together quickly and makes great party food. I use the oven to cook all the ingredients and then simply spoon the filling into lightly toasted rolls and serve the sandwiches warm. The filling is held together with cheese, and while I use provolone, any mildly flavored cheese can be used. I do hope you'll give these hoagies a try. If you are busy, all of the vegetables can be purchased sliced and ready to go, and a shredded rotisserie chicken can easily take the place of the cutlets used in the original recipe. Even starting from scratch, the sandwiches come together in about 30 minutes, so they'd be perfect for a week night supper as well. Here is how the hoagies are made.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Friday, May 27, 2016

Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I wanted to try these bars for the long holiday weekend. We are heading to the lake and will have in our company some folks who are notoriously late sleepers. I've long since given up the simultaneous preparation of breakfast and lunch. That means our bed heads will be pouring their own juice and grabbing a breakfast pastry while the rest of us are enjoying a hearty soup and sandwich for lunch. I found this recipe on the blog A Few Short Cuts and it looked so simple that I had to give it a try. Those of you who enjoy grab-and-go breakfasts will probably like these oatmeal bars. I must be honest and tell you they are too sweet and cookie-like for my taste, but I realize that my lack of a sweet tooth is not a universal affliction. While the Silver Fox is a bacon and eggs kind of guy, he has given the bars his seal of approval, as long as they are served as a snack rather than breakfast. Purist that I am, I will continue to enjoy my oatmeal as a porridge rather than in bar form, but if you are in the market for a grab-and-go breakfast, you might want to give these a try. Here is how they're made.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Hurry Curry

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I had great plans for tonight's dinner, but an overly scheduled day caused me to lose yet another race with the clock. It was ticking toward 6 o'clock and I hadn't started the lengthy preparations needed for the meal I had planned to make. I'm not a quitter, but I know when strategic retreat should be the order of the day. In the process, I've also become adept at the spontaneous creation of meals the likes of which you have never seen or heard. Tonight's feature is a transmogrified chicken dish that's been moved from Spain to India. I thawed chicken thighs this morning and I was loathe to let them sit for another night in the refrigerator. That lead to the creation of the quick chicken braise I'm featuring tonight. It's a very mild curry that I think you will enjoy, both for its taste and the ease with which it comes together. I suspect you always have the ingredients needed to make it on hand, and the recipe is quite easy to follow. So, if ever you find yourself pressed for time, you might want to give this pantry recipe a try. Here is how this simple chicken curry is made.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Miniature Scottish Scones with Lemon, Candied Ginger and White Chocolate

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This recipe, sans the white chocolate chips, first appeared in Molly Wizenberg's book A Homemade Life. It's had a great run on the internet, but for one reason, I never actually made the scones. Several weeks ago, I saw a version of it on Pinterest and I decided it was time to make, rather than drool over them. I have a weakness for all types of scones and I assume the world shares my passion. I usually tote them to morning meetings, and because I make them so often, I've become a self-proclaimed expert at their construction. These, with the addition of white chocolate, sounded unbearably delicious. I had one small problem, however. While I can buy squares or wafers, but I've never seen white chocolate in chip, much less miniature chip, form. I solved the problem by taking my chef's knife to a couple of squares of what was available and fashioned small chips of my own. And while I was creating miniatures, I also decided to make petite scones. For the past several years, I've seen the calorie conscious cut single pastries into smaller portions for their plates, so I decided to eliminate the middle man and help them by making my scones pint sized to begin with. I know you will like these. The combination of lemon and candied ginger is one of those matches made in heaven. It is further enhanced by the addition of white chocolate to the mix. The scones have a lovely crumb and when they are served still warm, paradise comes suddenly near. Here is how they are made. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Asian-Style Pasta with Peas, Peanuts and Cucumbers

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I'll be on my own for dinner much of this week, so I'm going to try making dishes that will feed one person without having leftovers to deal with. I'll be able to do that for most of the week, but I had to make an exception tonight. I had a quantity of snow peas that simply had to be used before they became fodder for the compost heap. I didn't want to waste them and couldn't bear the thought of another stir-fry, so I did a quick search for recipes where they might be used. I finally settled on this one for peanut noodles. It appears everywhere, but I think it was originally developed for Food and Wine magazine, and they should be the ones credited for its creation. While I have several excellent recipes for noodles of this type, they don't use snow peas and would not easily adapt to their addition. Because this recipe was an ideal solution to my "pea" problem I've ended up adding yet another recipe for peanut noodles to my repertoire. I can honestly report that this dish is fast, easy and delicious. I will make it again, although it presents some problems. Unlike most dishes of this sort, these noodles are served hot. The vegetables are added just before serving to keep them crisp-tender. Herein lies the problem. When the dish is reheated it becomes goopy and the vegetables become limp. That means leftovers will leave much to be desired. As written, the recipe makes four very generous servings. Try to manipulate ingredients so you have no leftovers to deal with. Barring that, have an impromptu pot luck and invite the neighbors to eat with you. Despite problems with re-heating,  those of you who make this dish will be pleased with the results. Here's the recipe.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Chinese-Style Chicken with Dried Mushrooms

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This is another great recipe to add to your collection of quick and easy meals. While the mushrooms have to soak, once they are softened you can have the dish on the table in 10 minutes. The mushrooms are what give this dish its flavor. Chinese dried mushrooms (also called black mushrooms, dried shiitake mushrooms) have a meaty taste that enhances the flavor of any dish to which they are added. I use them often, and buy a large bag at a warehouse store so I always have them on hand. Most preparations that use dried mushrooms, also use their soaking liquid to add additional flavor. To maximize the flavor of dried mushrooms, it is important to soak them properly. Submerge them in hot water and make sure they soak long enough to really soften. I let mine sit for 30 to 45 minutes. If you plan to use the soaking liquid, remove any impurities by pouring it through a fine sieve, and, if you wish a still stronger stock, it can be boiled to reduce and concentrate its flavor. The rest of this recipe is child's play and you'll have no trouble making a great meal for your family. Here is how this Chinese-style chicken and mushroom dish is made.

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