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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

We Are BACK!

That was a great vacation from blogging....
O.k. folks time to get back to the Kitchen....!!!!!!!!

But first....
we have quite a few frustrated recipe submitters and I apologize for the delay in getting them up. Will do the best I can over the next couple of weeks to cover them all.

But first is first...

Remember the post on Truly Useless Kitchen Gadgets For The Chef Who Has Everything well quite a few people disagree with me..which is of course GREAT! One wrote a letter and did not leave a comment, but here it is....

Just wanted to comment on this not-so-useless device. If you do a lot of canning, you would like to have a sturdy jar lifter. After you have processed your preserves in boiling water for 15 minutes, you grab the wooden handles and put the red rubber curved ends under the boiling water around the neck of the finished jars and lift them out. this allows you to process the next batch without waiting for the water to cool enough to take out the first batch. Your picture is upside down.

Elizabeth Gleghorn, MD
Director, Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition
Children's Hospital Oakland
Well this just goes to show you that one person's useless device is Gold for another. And that is a good thing...

So I apologize if I offended anyone with the useless devices in the kitchen, and if you think they are important then by all means... GO FOR IT!!

Well Passover is upon us in a few days, so I got to go clean...UGH!

But I will be posting recipes almost daily...so enjoy...and Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen is back..back..back!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Nana Cecelia's Harvard Beets

Help! I Have A Fire In My KitchenThis is a new one on me. Barbara over at "Barbara's Tchatzkahs" who recently sent in the recipe Muffin Meatloaf And Potatoes a la Barbara, now gives us a recipe from the "old country" and her grandmother. Here is what she writes:

Today I was digging through more boxes from parents which I had in storage. My mother passed 7 years ago and I knew she had my some of Nana's recipes in her things somewhere. My Nana, of blessed memory, was one of the best cooks I have ever known. The oldest of 13 children and the daughter of 2 immigrants who ran from the Pogroms in Poland, she could make a gourmet meal out of a crust of bread and a carrot! Well, almost.

And I found some of them!! Many of them are for baked goods (will share later) but I found her recipe for Harvard Beets in my Nana's handwriting. While I only like beets in borscht, this was a favorite with most of the rest of my family.

Hope you can use this - I think she'd be amazed her recipes can be immortalized on the Internet now!

Barbara
O.k. all this is great. But first thing is first. I had to know why they are called "Harvard" Beets, and not just plain beets. So I went over to foodreference.com and this is what I found.
Harvard beets are cooked beets in a sweet and sour sauce of vinegar and sugar (with spices) and sometimes with butter and/or orange juice. Supposedly created by a Harvard student (or a Yale student), there is also a story that they originated in a tavern in England named 'Harwood' and the 'Harvard' is a mispronunciation of the name.
So there ya go. The reason for Harvard in Harvard beets. And now to the recipe!

Nana Cecelia's Harvard Beets

Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen

Ingredients:
  1. 2 1/2 cups of diced, cooked beets
  2. 1/2 cup vinegar
  3. 1/2 cup sugar
  4. 1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch
  5. 2 Tablespoon(s) butter
  6. salt to taste
Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen

Utensils You Need:
  1. Pot for Stove Top
Recipe Directions:
  1. Dice and boil beets until the are soft all the way through (test with a knife)
  2. Mix sugar, cornstarch and vinegar.
  3. Bring this to a boil and add beets.
  4. Cover and take off heat and let stand about 20 minutes.
  5. Add salt to taste and butter and return to low heat until beets are warm.
  6. Serve.

Really, is very easy. Though I am not a beet lover. You can add orange juice which is also in most of the recipes I have seen as well. My father loved borscht with sour cream. I never did get a taste for it, but every time beets are served, I am reminded of eating Sunday Morning breakfast in "Steinbergs Restaurant" which was on the east side of Broadway between 83rd and 84th street. Amazing what memories a simple food dish can conjure!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

OMG! Another Macaroni And Cheese With Mushrooms

I find it incredibly revealing to look at the statistics on the blog from time to time. Especially what people search for and what recipes they are looking for. Consistently, over the year, two different categories rate the highest. The Mac & Cheese recipes and Lemon Meringue Pie. Now, personally I do understand the desire to create a great Lemon Meringue Pie but Mac & Cheese is just so... well so easy, right?

I am not really sure how to interpret this. We are talking literally way over 10,000 (ten thousand) hits during the year on Mac & Cheese recipes! I would tend to think that simply put many people are looking for the simple, easy, and good recipes with which they can eat and feed their families without too much bother and fuss. And many of these people are simply not chefs and cooks, and want an easy way to make good food. Which is something I suspected for a very long time. But I may be reading the statistics in a way I want to see them, however, nevertheless the fact remains the Mac & Cheese recipes @ Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen are very popular with Internet searches.

So in honor of this we are going to present yet another Mac & Cheese (coupled with mushrooms) today.

Macaroni & Cheese With Mushrooms

Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen

Ingredients:

Conchiglie
Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen

Pipe Rigate
Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen
  1. One bag of Pasta - (I usually use either conchiglie (shells) or pipe rigate (elbow shells) - This should be about 1/2 Kilo or 1 pound. You can of course make less or more, depending on how many people you need to feed!
  2. Grated Cheese - Once again you can use any cheese you like. I use Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. You will need around 400 grams of Mozzarella (14 ounces) and 100 grams (4 ounces) of Parmesan.
  3. Olive Oil - For the bottom of the pan that you put in the oven.
  4. Fresh Mushrooms (I really do not like the canned or bottled mushrooms - but you can use them as well!).
  5. 1 Teaspoon fresh Oregano (just a touch) or you can use the spice jar.
  6. 1 Tablespoon of Salted Butter - My sister adds this, I do not. Your choice.
  7. Pepper & Salt to taste
Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen

Utensils You Need:
  1. Oven Tempered Pot or Silver Foil Pan
  2. Colander (Food Strainer)
  3. Pot To Boil Pasta
Recipe Directions:

Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen
  1. First you have to get that pasta (macaroni) ready. So put it on the stove in water, (cover the macaroni and add about another 1/3 of water to the pot.
  2. Let it cook on the flame between 12-18 minutes. The Macaroni should be soft to the touch when you are done but not soggy! So this timing is really a matter of experience believe it or not, cause it should be an almost exact science!
  3. While the Macaroni is boiling on stove stop - cut up the mushrooms and get the oven pot ready by spreading a bit of olive oil on the bottom.
  4. Pre-Heat Oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
  5. When the Macaroni is ready (remember soft not soggy! don't let it cook too much!) pick up the pot and pour it all in the Colander so now you get rid of the water.
  6. Now put the Macaroni into your oven ready dish.
  7. Take around 100 grams of the Mozzarella cheese and put on top.
  8. If you are going to add butter just drop it on the top
  9. Add the Oregano on top.
  10. Now mix it all together - (cheese, butter and Oregano.)
  11. Now mix in all the cut-up mushrooms. (ACK! Forgot this step! Kali found the omission!)
  12. Now take the rest of the Mozzarella and sprinkle it all around the top. Don't mix it in. This is the cheese cover.
  13. Now take the Parmesan cheese and sprinkle it around the middle or around the sides, any which way you like. (See the photo above)
  14. In the end you should have a cheese top.
  15. Now cover the dish with silver foil - do NOT put that dish in the oven without it being covered! Otherwise the cheese will not melt at a rate that the Macaroni (pasta) is cooked.
  16. Now believe it or not, this depends on the temperament of your oven. When my oven is having a bad hair day it needs say 60-75 minutes. On a day when the oven is in a good mood and does not want to do some nasty stuff to me it takes 60 minutes! What you want to end up with, is a melted cheese on top and the pasta cooked evenly. I use a glass dish so I can see the macaroni next to the glass. My kids like it crusty!
  17. Now take that silver foil off, and let the dish cook for 5 minutes, so the cheese turns a nice light golden brown. Don't burn it so be careful here!
  18. Take it out - Serve or let it cool off and put in the fridge until ready to be heated up and served.
  19. By the way this is one of those special dishes that I say - go ahead and nuke a part of it when you want to heat it up real fast and you take it from the fridge. (2-3 minutes in the Microwave is usually enough!)
There ya go - another Mac & Cheese! Enjoy.

Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen

I love rating my own recipes. Our insane cook Paula cannot say a thing. HAH! But this is really a two - I kid you not. Not hard, easy on the hands, concentration and kitchen. Enjoy it!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Big Book of Diabetic Desserts - Book Review




Decadent And Delicious Recipes Perfect For People With Diabetes


By: Jackie Mills

(***Due to layout of this review, if viewed in an RSS reader, certain sections may seem duplicated.)

Before we begin, the review of the The Big Book of Diabetic Desserts the normal disclaimer from Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen.

This book review was solicited by the publicists of the The Big Book of Diabetic Desserts and contains my personal opinion of the book. For kosher readers of Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen - This is not a "kosher" cookbook though the majority of recipes in the The Big Book of Diabetic Desserts can be used as is, or with just a few sane and healthy substitutions, can be kept kosher. It is not that difficult to find equivalent and healthy kosher substitutes these days, especially in the United States.

Author & Book Details:



The Big Book of Diabetic Desserts is the second diabetic cookbook written by Jackie Mills, MS, RD.

The other one is Type 2 Diabetes Cookbook: Delicious Recipes for Healthier Living (Published by: American Medical Association). Of course these two books together should give the reader some idea as to where the interests of Jackie Mills lie when it comes to the kitchen.

Jackie Mills, MS, RD, is an experienced writer and food/recipe writer. She contributes to many national magazines, including Cooking Light, Family Circle, Cottage Living, and Coastal Living. She was the recipe developer for the American Medical Association's Type 2 Diabetes Cookbook and has contributed to Weight Watchers cookbooks and Christmas with Southern Living annual cookbooks. Jackie is the former food editor at Redbook magazine and worked as an associate food editor at Southern Living magazine. She lives in New York City.

The Book Itself:

Some of these recipes are absolutely INCEDIBLE! Forget the word diabetes for a moment. They really are impressive. Man, oh man, just the names of these recipes gets your stomach juices running. But the recipes themselves are truly an art as well and Jackie Mills does not disappoint!There is no doubt Jackie Mills comes with qualifications to write such a cookbook. This is though, the first time I am actually faced with the old yet very important discussion of form versus function. One gets used to and is spoiled by incredible photographs in cook books of almost every single recipe published. Indeed, it is almost a prerequisite these days in the Cookbook publishing industry. And to be honest I was at first a bit disappointed that The Big Book of Diabetic Desserts did not have such pictures, especially since it deals with the topic of desserts as they usually do make the best pictures. Instead the publishers opted for a few pictures in the middle of the book.

So as in regard to form I was somewhat surprised. But, and this is a BIG BUT, The Big Book of Diabetic Desserts has an important function, and must also be judged on whether it fulfills that function as well. Pictures will not make or break your needs of food especially if you are a diabetic, but certainly recipes will. The better the recipe the more encouraged a diabetic, or someone just interested in making sure they stay healthy, and on the lighter side of sugar, will continue using the book - and more important continue on their specialized diet.

There is one more confusing aspect of this book, and though the book itself will get high marks, as it truly does contain "Decadent And Delicious Recipes Perfect For People With Diabetes" this is an oversight which really has no excuse. There simply is no overall "Table of Contents". Though the book itself is divided into sections, and each section has its own Table of Contents of the recipes in it, the only real way to find anything is to flip to the back index and begin to look quickly. Indeed in order to discover all the yummy sections in the book, I had to flip through, page by page to mark off each section when I found it. So you will have the benefit of my work!

The Big Book of Diabetic Desserts has an important function, and must also be judged on whether it fulfills that function as well. Pictures will not make or break your needs of food especially if you are a diabetic, but certainly recipes will. The better the recipe the more encouraged a diabetic, or someone just interested in making sure they stay healthy, and on the lighter side of sugar, will continue using the book - and more important continue on their specialized diet.However, this is really an oversight of the layout artists, though it is a mistake and an important one that should have been caught before the book was published. Cookbooks require a Table of Contents at the front. Simple as all that.

Yet, and while some of the readers of Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen may not agree, I am willing to go easy with the lack of the Table of Contents because the book's function is to produce recipes for the diabetic population, and it is published by the American Diabetes Association and all proceeds from the book go to this worthy charity. Thus, major mistakes which would get me to cringe in a recipe cookbook where the author is making all the royalties, will in this case get a mild critique and one should be willing to forgive such things in this case.

So let us get positive now. The public relations piece that came along with the book is quoted below. We tend to dismiss such things, but in this case the book deserves it and you will see why later on.
From Chocolate Souffles To Blackberry-Pecan Tarts, New Cookbook Offers Dozens Of Sumptuous Desserts That Are Low In Sugar And Fat

Whatever treat one's sweet tooth craves -- cakes, pies, cookies, puddings -- decadent desserts are often the hardest thing to give up when on a diet. Whether someone is watching calories and fat, or is living with diabetes, limiting sweets has long been the rule -- and those who seek to substitute with sugar-free, fat-free versions of their favorite desserts are often sorely disappointed. This no longer need be the case. The Big Book of Diabetic Desserts, Decadent And Delicious Recipes Perfect For People With Diabetes, by dietitian and former Redbook food editor Jackie Mills, MS, RD (American Diabetes Association, November 2007) offers dozens of delicious concoctions -- all developed to be lower in carbohydrates, calories, and fat.

From Mocha Fudge Sheet Cake to Banana Meringue Pie and from Cappuccino Crème Brûlée to Crispy Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies, most of the recipes in The Big Book of Diabetic Desserts use a combination of granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, or molasses along with the no-calorie sweetener sucralose (Splenda®). The limited amount of sugar makes the desserts mouth-watering and enjoyable, but with carb counts that enable them to fit into a balanced meal plan. In addition, all the choices in the new book contain less than 1.5 grams of saturated fat per serving and virtually no trans fat.

Despite the drawbacks mentioned above, there is a great deal of good to say about The Big Book of Diabetic Desserts. All in all it is a cookbook well worth the effort and price, especially if you have a diabetic to feed. No one is going to believe these deserts are for diabetics anyway. So you will only gain in your reputation as an incredible cook by using these recipes. Jackie Mills certainly shows us that diabetic eating has certainly changed and can be quite enjoyable.In THE BIG BOOK OF DIABETIC DESSERTS, Mills explains precisely how sugar functions in baked goods and in frozen treats, and offers tips for indulging one's sweet tooth in healthier ways -- such as brushing molasses, real maple syrup, or honey on the tops of warm muffins, loaf breads, or cakes; sprinkling a tiny bit of ordinary confectioners' sugar on a cake or batch of muffins; and using in-season, ripe fruit to accompany desserts, especially in place of high-fat and high-sugar frostings. She also includes advice for making the most of small servings of nuts and chocolate and for using spices to add wonderful flavors and aromas to desserts.

In addition to the dozens of mouth-watering recipes, Mills offers helpful guidelines for better baking -- advising buying the proper pans (shiny-surfaced, heavy-gauge aluminum), using parchment paper, and stocking one's kitchen with pastry brushes, offset spatulas, and a cookie scoop. She also offers pointers for creating low-sugar, low-fat desserts, including tips on: how to test for doneness (the same timing and visual cues don't work with low-sugar baking as they do with traditional baking); how to work with a more delicate, low-fat pie crust; and how to store baked goods made with sugar substitutes (they stale faster).

"You can and should enjoy desserts without feeling that you're having something second rate or that tastes 'good for you,'" writes Mills. THE BIG BOOK OF DIABETIC DESSERTS offers desserts so satisfying and delicious, they are ideal for anyone craving a sugary indulgence -- whether or not they need to watch their carbohydrates, calories, and fat.
The Big Book of Diabetic Desserts is divided as follows:
  1. Great Cakes - Page 13
  2. Quick Breads - Page 49
  3. Sweetie Pies - Page 77
  4. Smart Tarts - Page 107
  5. Fruity Desserts - Page 131
  6. Custards & Puddings - Page 163
  7. Cookies & Bars - Page 189
  8. Pleasers From The Freezer - Page 213
(I included the pages because of the lack of the TOC when you buy the book!)

Each recipe has listed:
  • Calories
  • Calories from Fat
  • Total Fat
  • Saturated Fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium
  • Total Carbohydrate
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Sugars
  • Protein
This is obviously kind of important for diabetics but also equally important for anyone who wishes to be careful about their food intake.

Let me say this. Some of these recipes are absolutely INCEDIBLE! Forget the word diabetes for a moment. They really are impressive. Man, oh man, just the names of these recipes gets your stomach juices running. But the recipes themselves are truly an art as well and Jackie Mills does not disappoint! I have been allowed to reproduce one recipe here.

CHOCOLATE-DRIZZLED PEANUT BUTTER CAKE

Makes 9 servings • Serving size: 1 (2 1/2 inch) square
For a lunch box, an after school treat, a bake sale, or a coffee break, this cake is a pleasing sweet for peanut butter lovers of all ages.
  1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  3. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 1/8 teaspoon salt
  5. 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  6. 3 tablespoons canola oil
  7. 1/3 cup granular no-calorie sweetener
  8. 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  9. 1 large egg
  10. 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  11. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  12. 1/2 ounce semisweet chocolate baking bar, chopped
In addition to the dozens of mouth-watering recipes, Mills offers helpful guidelines for better baking -- advising buying the proper pans (shiny-surfaced, heavy-gauge aluminum), using parchment paper, and stocking one's kitchen with pastry brushes, offset spatulas, and a cookie scoop. She also offers pointers for creating low-sugar, low-fat desserts, including tips on: how to test for doneness (the same timing and visual cues don't work with low-sugar baking as they do with traditional baking); how to work with a more delicate, low-fat pie crust; and how to store baked goods made with sugar substitutes (they stale faster).Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Coat an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to mix well. Set aside.

Combine the peanut butter and oil in a medium bowl and beat at medium speed until smooth. Beat in the no-calorie sweetener and brown sugar. Beat in the egg. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to the peanut butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely on the rack.
Place the chocolate in a small resealable zip-top bag and seal. Place the bag in a saucepan of hot water. Let stand 5 minutes or until the chocolate melts. Snip a tiny corner from bag and drizzle chocolate over the cake. The cake can be covered in an airtight container and stored at room temperature up to 3 days.

Exchanges 1 1/2 Carbohydrate • 2 Fat
Calories 193, Calories from Fat 86, Total Fat 10 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 24 mg, Sodium 204 mg, Total Carbohydrate 23 g, Dietary Fiber 1 g, Sugars 11 g, Protein 5 g

Of course you have other great recipes as well.

  • Fruit Filled Layer Cake with White Chocolate Frosting
  • Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
  • Devil's Food Snack Cake
  • Tropical Blueberry Muffins
  • Peaches & Cream Pie
  • Cherry & Toasted Almond Pie
  • Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart
  • Blueberry-Lemon Curd Tart
  • Fresh Berry Terrine
  • Blackberries With Lime Cream
  • Cherry Orange Cobbler
  • Chocolate Velvet Pudding
  • Cappuccino Crème Brulee
  • Raspberry Lemon Pudding Cake




These are just a few of the recipes you will find in the The Big Book of Diabetic Desserts. So despite the drawbacks mentioned above, there is a great deal of good to say about The Big Book of Diabetic Desserts. All in all it is a cookbook well worth the effort and price, especially if you have a diabetic to feed. It gets 4 stars and if there had been a Table of Contents even with the lack of pictures for every recipe, I would have sorely been tempted to give it a five star rating. No one is going to believe these deserts are for diabetics anyway. So you will only gain in your reputation as an incredible cook by using these recipes. Jackie Mills certainly shows us that diabetic eating has certainly changed and can be quite enjoyable. Couple this cookbook with some other cookbooks we reviewed here at Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen, such as Tosca Reno - The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook & Holly Cleggs Trim And Terrific Diabetic Cooking, and you will have one incredible recipe repertoire and kitchen to be envied. Buy it - even if you don't have a diabetic in your house and do not cook for one. This is one great book of recipes!

The Big Book of Diabetic Desserts
Decadent And Delicious Recipes Perfect For People With Diabetes
By Jackie Mills, MS, RD
Publisher: American Diabetes Association
Publication Date: November 2007
Price: $18.95/trade paperback
ISBN: 978-1-58040-2274-3

Monday, December 17, 2007

English Toffee - Great Candy Recipe

(An old recipe from Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen with pictures now added)

Paula really surprises with this one! Candy Recipes! Wowsers!

Who doesn’t like candy? This is fairly easy and makes a great gift idea when placed in a decorative tin.

And you thought I snuck out of the kitchen!
English Toffee



You will need a candy thermometer.

Ingredients:
  1. 2 Cups of Sugar
  2. 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  3. 1 Cup of Water
  4. 1 Cup (2 Sticks Butter)
  5. 3 Cups of Slivered Almonds (Divided)
  6. 3 - 6 Oz Packages Semi Sweet Chocolate Morsels
Directions:
  1. Combine sugar, salt, water and butter. Cook to the light crack stage (285 f on candy thermometer). Stirring constantly.
  2. Add 1 cup almonds.
  3. Pour quickly on well greased cookie sheet and spread out with a metal spatula. Fast now, because it will set fast.
  4. Allow to cool for ½ hour.
  5. Melt chocolate morsels in saucepan on top of the stove or in microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate on high for 30- second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted.
  6. Spread half on top of cooled toffee.
  7. Sprinkle with 1 cup of slivered almonds and press into chocolate.
  8. Allow it to set then turn toffee over and spread with remaining chocolate and 1 cup of almonds.
  9. When completely cooled, break into pieces.

Great Idea! Candy for all and Paula said to send her all the dental bills! This is a great gift idea, and also to keep around the house.

Posted On: Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen