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Monday, July 6, 2015

Shimmy-Shake Pudding and Earthquakes


I was airing the house yesterday morning when the doors, front and back, began to shake. It happened so quickly I never saw the movement, but my ears immediately caught the rattling, a noise unlike any our house usually makes. I assumed Miss Lola, our psychotic cat, had gotten into something and I issued an invective directed her way, but, otherwise unconcerned, went about my work. I was about to close the doors when I saw a few of our neighbors gathering in the driveway. One was still in his bathrobe, so, I knew something was up and I ducked out to find out what was going on. Californians all, they were waiting for an aftershock from the 4.2 earthquake that I had heard but not seen. They couldn't understand my nonchalance and were sure I'd have been more concerned had I experienced earthquakes before. Little did they know.

In 2008, the Silver Fox and I were on a train belonging to one of China's older more provincial railroads. Our final destination was Chengdu, but our immediate goal was Xi'an and a prolonged visit with its famed Bingmayong (terracotta warriors). It was a rough ride, and we were on a train that lacked the amenities and comfort of China's more modern rail system. The train bumped and swayed as its wheels clicked, mantra fashion, over the tracks. It was bumpy ride, or so we thought, until the train hit what seemed to be a particularly rough patch of track and began to shake violently. I do mean violently. The engineer hit the brakes and brought the train to an abrupt and screeching stop. When the porters and conductors disappeared, our tour guide pulled out her satellite phone and tried to find out what was going on. She was able to determine there had a devastating earthquake in Sichuan Provence, and, as best she could gather, we were about 300 miles from its epicenter. We were in no immediate danger, but the train ahead of us had derailed and aftershocks signaled the beginning of one of what seemed to be the world's longest wait. Hours after the initial shock, about 300 hundred soldiers swarmed the rail bed and began an inspection and repair of the tracks that allowed us to inch toward Xi'an. Once in the city, we found ourselves packed into crowds that were afraid to enter buildings, and instead of an air conditioned coach ride to our hotel, we waked the distance dragging our luggage behind us. Once the hotel was deemed to be safe, we were allowed to enter our rooms, though our room assignments had been changed from the top floor to rooms just above street level. After quick showers and a mandatory evacuation drill, we went out for a steamy, and I do mean steamy, hot pot, that even dragons would approach with caution. It was a perfect meal to end a long, long day and we were secure in the knowledge that if the earthquake didn't kill us, the hot pot surely would. We never made it to Chengdu, but we got to see the outpouring of charity from ordinary Chinese citizens who, by the way, are no where near as inscrutable as you've been led to believe. We were also able to witness the first open communication of a tragedy by a government that usually hid such things. Chengdu has become my excuse for another trip to China. Of all the placed we have visited, it is one of the few to which I would return. I love the country, its people and what it taught me about earthquakes and coming together when it's needed.

Now, if you have a sense of humor, the perfect dessert in the aftermath of an earthquake is something that shimmies and shakes. My first thought was lime jello, but I know you all too well for that. You, unequivocally, deserve, something more sophisticated, and I thought Tembleque, a Puerto Rican pudding would be the perfect recipe to share with you today.

Tembleque is a famous Puerto Rican dessert that usually ends meals prepared for special occasions and celebrations. It is a rich and creamy pudding that is easily made and enjoyed by all who love sweet endings and the flavor of coconut. If you count yourself among that legion, I think this pudding, whose name actually means "wiggly", will appeal to you. I used the recipe on the Goya website as my bible, but deviated from it a bit because I thought the pudding needed more flavor than the coconut milk provided. My change was a no brainer. I simply added coconut extract to the pudding at the end of cooking. Coconut rum could also be used, and had I any in the house, I probably would have gone that route instead. Lovers of really sweet desserts will like this pudding. It is easy to make, kind on the budget and brimming with the fresh flavor of coconut. If your tastes run to barely sweet European desserts, run do not walk to the nearest exit, but if you have an insatiable sweet tooth, do give this recipe a try.

Tembleque - Coconut Pudding
...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Goya Foods

Ingredients:
2 cans (13.5 oz. each) coconut milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
Optional:
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
Toasted coconut
Ground cinnamon

Directions:
1) Combine coconut milk, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve cornstarch. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens, about 5 minutes . Stir in coconut extract, if using.
2) Pour into six 6-oz. molds, or one 3-cup mold. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold and firm, at least 3 hours, or up to 48 hours.
3) To unmold, run thin knife around edge. Invert mold (or molds) onto serving plate. Top with toasted coconut ans sprinkle with with cinnamon, if desired. Yield: 6 servings.


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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Menu for the Week of July 5, 2015











Weekly Menu at One Perfect Bite... 










My youngest daughter and her son are visiting with us this week. When my family comes home they usually have requests for dishes they'd like to have while they are here. I received the following list for this visit: Potatoes - mashed, roasted, baked; Chicken enchiladas or something similar;
Rice pilaf or some kind of rice dish; Cheesecake. We'll be exploring and sightseeing most days, so our biggest meal of the day will be taken at restaurants of opportunity or convenience. Food requests will be honored at simple evening meals. We'll return to our more standard menus next week. Here is what I've planned for this week.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

4th of July Celebration Menu


Our flag still waves and while we occasionally stumble, America really is a great country. Enjoy the day. I hope you'll be able to spend it with family and special friends. May the only fireworks of your day, light up the evening sky.

Time to Celebrate - Our 4th of July Patio Picnic Menu

Moomie Buns
Pulled Pork
Japanese Drumsticks
Amish Potato Salad
Sesame Noodles
Refrigerator Pickles
Asian Cucumber Salad
Buttermilk Cole Slaw
Sliced Tomatoes with Boiled Dressing
Chocolate Cake with Cooked Frosting
Lemon Pudding Parfaits
Homemade Ginger Ale
Spiked Pink Lemonade



Friday, July 3, 2015

Moomie Buns


From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I've changed our 4th of July menu. I just couldn't have the Silver Fox grilling in 95 degree weather. We just aren't use to those temperatures here in my little piece of paradise, so we may well end up having our holiday picnic on the floor of my living room. I've got a bunch of folks coming and because they are all special to me, I want to make sure they get the best my kitchen can provide. To that end, I've been up to my elbows in dough for sandwich buns. I'm using my favorite recipe for rolls that at one time were called Moomie Buns. Over time the required three changes have been made to her recipe and its name has been changed to Beautiful Burger Buns. I feel badly for Ellen, who was the creator of the recipe. She's a bit like the gal who created the Tunnel of Fudge Cake. Everybody liked their creations and while their recipes became famous, they were politely brushed aside. I still call these Moomie Buns out of respect for their creator, and if you are among the few who have never tried them, I urge you to do so. They are delicious and I know you will love them They have a bit more substance than store-bought rolls, and while I have shaped them as sandwich buns, you can let your imagination run wild and shape them in any way you please. I use a bit less sugar than is called for in the original recipe, but otherwise the recipe remains intact. Here is how these terrific rolls are made.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Cottage Cooking - Snickerdoodle Blondies


From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...If you like Snickerdoodles, I think you are going to enjoy these blondies. They are simple to make and are a perfect project for young cooks or old pros who are working in inadequate summer kitchens. The recipe comes from the blog Baked by Rachel, which you an find here, and it's my understanding that she is the creator of this recipe. These bars are a nice change from brownies and cinnamon loves will be delighted. The bars are moist and nicely and they are a perfect snack that can be enjoyed throughout the day. The bars are simple to make and if you have your butter at room temperature they take all of 10 minutes to make. If you are looking for a new but simple treat for your family, these just might fill the bill. Here is how the bars are made.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mid-Week Musings


Molly Wizenberg - Delancey

Long term readers of One Perfect Bite know I think highly of Molly Wizenberg. I became familiar with her work through her blog Orangette. When her fist book, A Homemade Life, was published, I snatched it up and I've been a fan ever since. Molly's second book, Delancey, was published last year and has recently been released as a paperback. Delancey, like A Homemade Life, is part memoir and part cookbook. It details the travails of opening a new restaurant with a new husband as partner. It is beautifully written and is a must read for all who love the kitchen. Several years ago, I featured one of Molly's recipes and I'm reprising that tonight. it will give you a feel for her skill in the kitchen, but you must actually read Molly to see why her blog received the Saveur Award for best written blog in 2015.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Asparagus and Mushroom Fried Rice


From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I'm still working my way through an over-zealous purchase of asparagus. My family loves it, and at this time of year it floods markets at ridiculously low prices. I can't resist a bargain, so I usually end up with more of it than I need, and as a result I'm constantly on the look out for new ways in which to prepare it. This lovely recipe, from The Perfect Pantry, is not pretty to look at, but it is delicious and I know those of you who like fried-rice will love this version. It is substantial enough to be served as a light entree, but most of you will want to serve it as a side dish. It's packed with flavor and it's a terrific accompaniment to plain grilled chicken or pork. My only caution in making this, or any other fried rice for that matter, is to be sure and use day old or cold cooked rice. Freshly made rice turns gummy an makes a decidedly unpleasant stir-fry. You have to be careful with a dish like this. Everyone knows what it should taste like and they can be unforgiving if you stray too far off base. While the ingredients used here are different, they make a wonderfully flavorful dish that is interesting and will appeal to all but the most timid palates. Here is how the rice is made.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Chinese Noodle Bowls with Asparagus, Mushrooms and Eggs


From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...We are having a heat wave, and meals that seemed like great ideas several days ago, now seem heavy and unappealing. I had a ton, actually it's more like three pounds, of asparagus sitting in the refrigerator, and I thought I could use it in a few lighter entrees that would be more appropriates on these steamy days. While the Google search engine and I are not always on speaking terms, it sent some new asparagus recipes my way, and I spent the later part of the afternoon experimenting with my bounty. I want to share a couple of the keepers with you this week. Tonight's feature came from the Incredible Egg site, which you can find here. The recipe is for Chinese noodle bowls that contain asparagus, mushrooms and eggs. The eggs are handled in the same way as those that are used to make Spaghetti Carbonara, but this dish is more mildly flavored. The noodles are quite nice and perfect for warm weather or asparagus season. While I think you will enjoy them, I do not want to mislead you. This is not an Asian noodle recipe. It's for an all-American dish that happens to use Chinese noodles and sesame seeds. It has several things going for it, among which is the speed with which it can be prepared. The recipe is also scaled to feed two or three people, depending on how hungry they are, so it would make a great addition to the recipe collections of those who are now cooking for two. I know many of you have carnivores at the table, and, if you wish, chicken or pork can be added to the ingredients without changing the basic nature of the dish. The bowls can be on the table in less than 30 minutes, and as Martha use to say, "That's a good thing." Here is how the bowls are made.

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