Almost No-knead Bread with Creamy Mushroom Soup

No Knead Bread

Found this very easy, but not so fast bread from America’s Test Kitchen and have made it a couple of times.  I find if I start it by about 8:00 AM it is good enough for dinner.  Always a hit when warm with a little good sweet butter.  I served it with a Creamy Mushroom Soup from another one of their cookbooks.  If you scroll down, you can see their rendition and mine of the soup.  I think it needs a little punch, as it was pretty, but a little bland.

Almost No-Knead Bread

A no-fuss recipe that is revolutionizing home baking trades flavor and reliability for ease. Could we improve the bread’s bland taste and make it rise high every time?


To avoid lengthy and tiresome kneading, we let our bread dough sit for 8 to 18 hours, during which a process called autolysis develops gluten—the protein that gives baked breads their bubbly, chewy crumb structure. After that, just 15 seconds of kneading does the trick. To give our bread more flavor than standard no-knead recipes, we add vinegar for acidic tang and lager beer for extra yeastiness. We bake the bread in a preheated covered pot to create steam, producing a springy interior, and then finish baking it uncovered for a beautifully browned crust.


Makes 1 large round loaf
3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons water, room temperature
6 tablespoons mild-flavored lager
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
Vegetable oil spray

Use a mild-flavored lager, such as Budweiser (mild nonalcoholic lager also works). In step 3, start the 30-minute timer as soon as you put the bread in the cold oven. Do not wait until the oven has preheated to start your timer or the bread will burn. The bread is best eaten the day it is baked, but it can be wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in a cool, dry place for up to two days.


1. Whisk flour, salt, and yeast together in large bowl. Add water, lager, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 18 hours.

2. Lay 18 by 12-inch sheet of parchment paper on counter and spray with oil spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam side down, to center of parchment and spray surface of dough with oil spray. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover loosely with plastic and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

3. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Remove plastic from pot. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Cover pot and place in oven. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Bake bread for 30 minutes.

4. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and let cool completely, about 2 hours.


1. HAND-MIX INGREDIENTS: Combine flour, yeast, and salt; then stir in water, beer, and vinegar and fold it all together. No mixer required.

WHY? This bread will form gluten as it sits, so there’s no need for a lot of mixing at the start.

2. LET REST: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter for at least 8 hours or up to 18 hours.

WHY? Much like kneading, letting the dough sit develops gluten through a process called autolysis.

3. PREPARE PARCHMENT: Spray an 18 by 12-inch sheet of parchment paper lightly with vegetable oil spray.

WHY? You’ll use the parchment to move the dough from the counter to the Dutch oven for its second rise, and to remove the bread from the pot after baking.

4. KNEAD DOUGH: Transfer the dough to a floured counter and knead it just 10 to 15 times.

WHY? During the long rest, the proteins in the dough break down, making it easier to manipulate, and with less than a minute of kneading, the gluten has been sufficiently developed.

5. SHAPE AND LET RISE: Form the dough into a ball, place it on the parchment, and transfer it to a Dutch oven. Then cover it and let it rise for 2 hours.

WHY? Once shaped, the dough undergoes its final rise, during which the yeast produces carbon dioxide to make the dough puff.

6. SLASH DOUGH: Use a sharp knife or razor to cut one 6-inch- long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along the top of the dough.

WHY? Slashing the dough allows steam to escape so the loaf bakes evenly, preventing splits and cracks.

7. COVER UP: Place the cover on the pot.

WHY? The covered pot produces a steamy environment that gives the loaf an open crumb structure.

8. START IT COLD: Place the covered pot in a cold oven. Heat the oven to 425 degrees and bake the bread for 30 minutes.

WHY? Starting the bread in a cold oven ensures against burning the bottom, and the bread rises just as much as in a preheated oven.

9. REMOVE COVER: Uncover the pot and continue to bake the bread until it is deep brown and its center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes more.

WHY? After the steamy environment has created the ideal interior texture, uncovering the pot allows the crust to brown and crisp.

10. LET COOL AND SERVE: Remove the bread from the pot and place it on a rack to cool for about 2 hours before slicing.

WHY? There’s still a lot of moisture trapped inside the hot bread. As the bread sits, the steam escapes giving the cooled loaf just the right texture.

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Published March 2001


For a substantial mushroom soup recipe with distinctive, deep mushroom flavor and rich texture, neither too thick or thin, we cooked readily available button mushrooms long and slow, with butter and shallots and then pureed them in a blender, finishing the soup with a splash of Madeira, cream, and lemon juice. A garnish of sautéed wild mushrooms added a hit of earthiness and flavor to our mushroom soup recipe.

This is a photo of their soup.
Mushroom Soup 1
Here are two photos of the soup I made from the recipe.  I added a little Mexican Crema to the top of mine and noticed my color is a little darker, which I think looks richer.
Mushroom Soup


Print Shopping List

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 large shallots, minced (about 3/4 cup)
2 small cloves garlic, minced (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, freshly grated
2 pounds white button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 ½ cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups hot water
½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed well
cup dry sherry or Madeira
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice from 1 lemon
Salt and ground black pepper

Sauteed Wild Mushroom Garnish (optional)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms or chanterelle, oyster, or cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed and discarded, mushrooms wiped clean and sliced thin



To make sure that the soup has a fine, velvety texture, puree it hot off the stove, but do not fill the blender jar more than halfway, as the hot liquid may cause the lid to pop off the jar.

1. Melt butter in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-low heat; when foaming subsides, add shallots and saute, stirring frequently, until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and nutmeg; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Increase heat to medium; add sliced mushrooms and stir to coat with butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms release liquid, about 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and mushrooms have released all liquid, about 20 minutes. Add chicken stock, water, and porcini mushrooms; cover and bring to simmer, then reduce heat to low and simmer until mushrooms are fully tender, about 20 minutes longer.

2. Pour soup into a large bowl. Rinse and dry Dutch oven. Puree soup in batches in blender until smooth, filling blender jar only halfway for each batch. Return soup to Dutch oven; stir in Madeira and cream and bring to simmer over low heat. Add lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with sauteed mushroom garnish, if desired. (Can be cooled to room temperature and refrigerated up to 4 days.) If making ahead, add cream at serving time.

3. For the Sauteed Wild Mushroom Garnish (optional):

Heat butter in medium skillet over low heat; when foam subsides, add mushrooms and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms release their liquid, about 10 minutes for shiitakes and chanterelles, about 5 minutes for oysters, and about 9 minutes for cremini. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid released by mushrooms has evaporated and mushrooms are browned, about 2 minutes for shiitakes, about 3 minutes for chanterelles, and about 2 minutes for oysters and cremini. Sprinkle a portion of mushrooms over individual bowls of soup and serve.

Almost No-knead Bread with Creamy Mushroom Soup

Chicken Parmesan is wonderful!


I was testing different fresh mozzarellas to see the difference and had three partially used containers in the refrigerator, so decided to try this recipe that come on a newsletter from Tasting Table Test Kitchen.  It was so yummy and so very easy to make.  Make everything ahead of time and throw in the oven thirty minutes or so before dinner time.  I served with fresh asparagus, but didn’t bother eat any myself, as the parmesan was so delightful.

I always save the rinds from my reggiano parmesano to use in cases like this.  Add it to most any soup and it adds enough flavor that you can taste the wonderful difference. Happy Cooking!

Chicken Parmesan

Add a Parm rind to your tomato sauce for the cheesiest version of the Italian favorite
Chicken Parmesan

Photo: Dave Katz/Tasting Table

This classic Italian comfort food combines juicy breaded chicken and tomato sauce, covered in melty cheese. So what takes our chicken Parm to the next level? A Parm rind simmered in the tomato sauce for richness and an intense cheesy flavor. The finished dish is great on its own or served over pasta or on a hero roll.

This dish is all about the layering: After nestling the seared chicken in half of the sauce, don’t cover the entire breast when spooning the remaining sauce over top. You want some of that crust to maintain a crisp texture that will hold onto the melting cheese. Another tip: You can even prepare the dish the night before and refrigerate. The next day you’d just need to pop it in the oven and bake.

To learn more, read “No Parm, No Fowl.”

Chicken Parmesan

Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes


For the Tomato Sauce:

¼ cup olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

One 28-ounce can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand

¼ cup basil leaves, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

One 4-inch Parmesan rind

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Chicken Parmesan:

2 cups dry panko

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

2 teaspoons dried oregano

½ cup flour

3 eggs, beaten

4 medium (2 pounds) chicken breasts

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Tomato sauce

⅓ cup canola oil

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

Thinly sliced basil leaves, for garnish


1. Make the tomato sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil, vinegar, sugar and Parmesan rind, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 25 minutes. Discard the Parmesan rind and, using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until slightly smooth while retaining some texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Make the chicken Parmesan: In a small bowl, whisk together the panko bread crumbs with ¼ cup of the grated Parmesan and the dried oregano. Transfer to a shallow dish, such as a pie plate. Transfer the flour and the beaten eggs to shallow dishes as well, then line up the 3 dishes next to each other in the order of flour, eggs and bread crumbs.

3. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. One by one, dredge the chicken breasts in flour, followed by egg and panko, making sure to completely coat each breast. Place chicken breasts on a plate until ready to fry.

4. Preheat the oven to 375° and spread half of the tomato sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, then set aside. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken breasts, turning once, until golden brown, 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to the prepared pan, then nestle them into the tomato sauce. Pour the remaining half of the tomato sauce over the middle of each breast, making sure to not completely cover all of the breasts with tomato sauce. Layer the mozzarella and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on top.

5. Bake until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°, 25 to 30 minutes. Turn the oven to broil and bake until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes more. Garnish with basil and serve.

Chicken Parmesan is wonderful!

Drug Testing

Recently I was hired to teach online for a college. In addition to lots and lots of information to fill out, I had to take a Drug Test.  I have never had a drug test, so didn’t think to look up how it was done.  I was thinking it was a blood test.

I got the email Friday mid-morning and had to have the test results in by the coming Monday.  So I called the local lab, that had been assigned to me for the test.  It was about 11:00 AM and they were only open till 11:30 PM.  The young woman was very nice and said she would wait for me to come in, as it was at least twenty minutes from my home. Additionally she told me she did not leave till 12:30 PM, so not to worry.  I didn’t think anything about it, as I do not do any drugs.

At that moment in time, I had been up a while, had a couple cups of coffee and was out the door in two minutes. When I arrived I had to wait about twenty minutes. No problem, as I sat and read their more than a year old magazines.  I wished I had grabbed a book on the way out the door of my home, as I usually do when I think I might have to wait.

When it was finally my turn, I found out it was a urine test rather than a blood test.  As she locked my belongings in a cupboard and sent me in to do the test, I thought it would be easy until I saw the size of the container.  I was thinking of the water bottle in my car, that I did not bother to drink on the drive to the lab.

As you might guess, I failed the first attempt at filling the container.  The young woman at the desk told me I could drink six cups of water and try again.  So I drank six cups of water, waited at least half an hour, did a drawing with the paper and pencils put out for kids, as my phone was still locked in the cupboard and the magazines were really not of any interest to me.  I think I am past reading Parenting magazines, as my sons are in their thirties.

Needless to say, I failed the second attempt.  She said I really should not drink any more water, as it was not allowed; but she let me drink four more glasses.  Ten glasses of very cold water is a lot, and I actually had a bit of a stomachache by then.  I asked if I could have my phone back for entertainment.

She told me they locked the clinic at 1 PM, so I had till then to try and “pass the test”. I decided I would sit and wait until the last minute; as I did not want to have to call the school and tell them why I had failed this simple test and get another assignment.  I sat and watched the clock and at one minute to 1 PM, I finally passed the test.

Nothing like wasting an hour and a half of a perfectly good day, sitting in a small office. And to add insult to injury, it was sunny and wonderful when I arrived and it was pouring down rain when I left.

So if you ever have to be “drug tested” drink a LOT of water on the drive to the lab.

Drug Testing

Bergers – Style Cookies


Bergers-Style Cookies

Saw this recipe in Cooks Country Big Thanksgiving Cookbook and since I have book group coming tonight, thought this might be fun to serve.  I probably should put some spider legs on them, since Halloween is right around the corner, but I think I will be civil and boring today.  But these cookies are mouth-watering relish!  I just had one with my coffee for breakfast!  Yummy!

The magazine has lots of interesting information, suggestions and the other recipes look good too. I might have to try the Dutch Apple Pie or the easy Fish & Chips.  When I make a pie and only eat one slice, I take it to my local fire station so it can be enjoyed and not thrown out.  They seem to look forward to the treats I drop by.


This Baltimorean cookie has gained a cult following thanks to the 1/2-inch layer of fudgy chocolate frosting perched on its cakey, lightly sweet vanilla cookie base. For our version, we creamed butter with sugar and used cake flour instead of all-purpose to create a soft, fluffy cookie base. For the signature sweet-yet-ultrachocolaty frosting, a combination of milk chocolate chips and Dutch-processed cocoa gave us the best chocolate flavor; heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar helped us nail the correct texture. Keeping the frosting between 90 and 100 degrees (which makes it the texture of thick brownie batter) ensured that it was easy to mound a hefty 2-tablespoon helping onto each cookie.

Read More



Makes 24 cookies ( I only got 16)


2 cups (8 ounces) cake flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg white
1 ½ tablespoons heavy cream
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract


3 cups (18 ounces) milk chocolate chips
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ⅔ cups (5 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 ¼ cups (5 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

The consistency of the frosting should resemble that of a thick brownie batter. It should mound and slowly spread over the cookies. It’s OK if some of the frosting drips down the sides of the cookies. If the frosting’s temperature drops below 90 degrees, it may become too thick to spread. To bring it back to its proper consistency, simply microwave it at 50 percent power in 5-second intervals, whisking after each interval. Our favorite Dutch-processed cocoa powder is Droste Cocoa.

1. FOR THE COOKIES: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in bowl; set aside. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

2. Add egg white, cream, and vanilla and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions until incorporated, scraping down bowl as needed.

3. Working with 1 heaping tablespoon dough at a time, roll into balls and space 2 inches apart on prepared sheets, 12 per sheet. Using your moistened fingers, press dough balls to form disks about 1/4 inch thick and 2 inches in diameter. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until cookies are just beginning to brown around edges, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let cookies cool completely on sheet.

4. FOR THE FROSTING: Once cookies have cooled, combine chocolate chips, cream, and salt in large bowl. Microwave chocolate mixture at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth, 1 to 3 minutes. Whisk cocoa, sugar, and vanilla into chocolate mixture until smooth. (Frosting should be texture of thick brownie batter and register about 95 degrees.)

5. Flip cookies on sheets. Spoon 2 tablespoons frosting over flat side of each cookie to form mound. Let cookies sit at room temperature until frosting is set, about 3 hours. Serve. (Cookies can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.)

Bergers – Style Cookies

Recipe Failure

So the other day I tried a recipe that sounded wonderful.  I had a pork loin thawed out and looked for a recipe in my favorite America’s Test Kitchen online site.  The recipe sounded totally yummy and I had almost all the ingredients.  As always I followed the directions to the tee.  I had enough filling for at least three good sized pork loins, so froze the two left over rolls.  But I would cut everything in the stuffing by fourths, as there was way too much.  I would also experiment with temperature and cooking times.  My pork loin was so overdone, it tasted like it had been smoked.  So here is a photo of my sad looking pork loin and below is what it should have looked like.

The glaze from the Apricot Preserved puddled on the foil (luckily I wrapped the pan with a double layer of tin foil) and filled the house with the lovely smell of burnt apricots.  My husband was working upstairs in the house and the smell drifted upstairs and he was afraid I caught the house on fire.

The pork was totally dry and very overcooked.  The stuffing was dry and overcooked.

This is the first recipe I have tried from America’s Test Kitchen that was a total failure. Usually I love their recipes.  It seemed when I originally read the recipe that it was way too long and way too hot to cook pork loin.  Hum, seems to be the right reaction. I will try it again, but at a lower temperature to cook it and a lot less of the Apricot Preserves, so no major burning.  I guess we do learn from our mistakes.


Roast Pork Loin with Apricot, Fig, and Pistachio Stuffing


To ensure that our stuffed pork loin recipe would give us moist meat and a flavorful stuffing in one cohesive package, we first brined our boneless pork roast for flavor and texture and then butterflied and pounded it to an even thickness, increasing the meat’s surface area to maximize the amount of stuffing we could use. For the stuffing in our pork loin recipe, we used fresh bread as a base and flavored it with dried fruit, nuts, and herbs, adding eggs as a binder. Prebaking the stuffing before stuffing the roast got it to a temperature high enough that we didn’t have to roast the stuffed pork until it was dry and overcooked.


Print Shopping List


1 boneless pork loin roast (4 1/2 pounds), from the blade end


¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup kosher salt (or 6 tablespoons table salt)
3 bay leaves, crumbled
1 tablespoon allspice berries, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, lightly crushed
10 medium cloves garlic, lightly crushed and peeled


5 cups roughly torn 1-inch pieces baguette (not sourdough) (7 to 8 ounces),from 1 baguette
½ cup dried apricots (about 4 ounces)
1 medium clove garlic, peeled
pinch ground cumin
pinch ground coriander
pinch ground cinnamon
pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons grated onion from 1 small onion
½ cup dried figs, halved lengthwise (about 3 ounces)
½ cup shelled pistachios (about 3 ounces), toasted in medium skillet over medium heat until color deepens slightly, 3 to 5 minutes, then cooled and chopped coarse
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
Ground black pepper
2 large eggs
½ cup heavy cream


½ cup apricot preserves



Timing is important. The goal is to coordinate brining and stuffing so that the pork is out of the brine and ready to be stuffed when the pre-cooked stuffing comes out of the oven. To achieve this, begin preparing the stuffing ingredients immediately after setting the pork in the brine. Bamboo skewers, available in supermarkets (or see below), are our favorite way to fasten the roast around the stuffing. Alternatively, use poultry lacers (though they are generally sold only six to a package). The apricot preserves for the glaze can be melted in the microwave instead of on the stovetop. To do so, heat the preserves in a small, microwave-safe bowl, covered loosely with plastic wrap, at full power until melted, about 40 seconds.

1. Following illustrations 1 through 4, (see “Step by Step: Ready The Roast,” below) trim, butterfly, and pound pork loin to even 1-inch thickness with mallet or bottom of heavy skillet.

2. For the Brine: In a large, wide bowl, dissolve sugar and salt in 3 cups hot water. Add bay, allspice, peppercorns, garlic, and 5 cups cold water; stir to combine. Add butterflied and pounded pork; cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove pork from brine, pick spices off meat, and dry pork thoroughly with paper towels.

3. For the Stuffing and Glaze: Once the pork is in the brine, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Process half the bread pieces in workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade until broken into crumbs with few pieces no larger than about 1/4 inch, about 45 seconds; transfer to large mixing bowl and set aside. Repeat process with remaining bread pieces (you should have about 4 cups crumbs total).

4. In now-empty workbowl, process apricots, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and cayenne until finely ground, about 30 seconds; add mixture to reserved bread crumbs. Add onion, figs, pistachios, thyme, parsley, salt, and pepper to taste to bread crumb and apricot mixture; toss until well distributed, breaking up any apricot clumps as necessary. Beat eggs and cream in small bowl; pour over bread and apricot mixture and toss with hands until evenly moistened and a portion of mixture holds together when pressed.

5. On parchment paper–lined cookie sheet or inverted rimmed baking sheet, form stuffing into log shape equal in length to butterflied pork. Cover stuffing with foil and bake until firm and cooked through and butterflied pork has been removed from brine and prepared for stuffing, about 45 minutes. Remove stuffing from oven; increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.

6. While stuffing bakes, heat apricot preserves in small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted but not liquefied, 5 to 7 minutes. Strain through small strainer into small bowl (you should have about 1/3 cup) and set aside; discard solids in strainer.

7. To Stuff, Roast, and Glaze the Roast: Line shallow roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet with foil, position flat wire roasting rack over foil, and set aside. Following illustrations 5 through 8 (see “Step by Step: Ready The Roast,” below), stuff, roll, fasten, and tie pork loin. Place stuffed roast on rack, brush one-half apricot glaze evenly over exposed surface of meat and roast 20 minutes. Remove roast from oven and, with tongs, rotate roast so that bottom side faces up. Brush exposed surface with remaining apricot glaze; return roast to oven and roast 25 minutes longer (glaze should be medium golden brown and internal temperature of both meat and stuffing should register 145 to 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer). Transfer roast to carving board, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes. Cut off twine, slice, and serve.


Ready the Roast

1. Using a boning knife, trim the tough silver skin from the pork loin.

2. Lay the loin on the cutting board and begin to slice laterally through the center, starting at the thinner edge.

3. As you slice, open the meat as you would a book. Stop slicing 1 inch shy of the edge to create a hinge.

4. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and pound the meat to a 1-inch thickness.

5. Cut eight 24-inch pieces of kitchen twine. Break nine 10- or 12-inch bamboo skewers in half.

6. Roll the hot stuffing onto the center of the butterflied pork, over the hinge.

7. Bring both sides of the meat together over the stuffing and fasten at the center with one skewer. Fasten the roast with the remaining skewers placed at regular intervals.

8. Shimmy lengths of twine one by one down the roast and tie them between the skewers, as shown. Trim the twine and remove the skewers before roasting.

Recipe Failure

Bread & Butter Pickles


Here is another easy and fairly fast recipe that I made the other day.  I just put my jars in the dishwasher at the highest temperature, rather than do the whole water bath described by America’s Test Kitchen.  The cucumbers are from my garden and the lone red bell pepper is the only one that lived in my garden.  Happy to put the two together in the same recipe. My husband loves these on hamburgers or as my youngest son called them: “Hammaburgers”.  I like them just plain as a side dish or on a slice of delicious bread.

Bread-and-Butter Pickles


We wanted a bread-and-butter pickle with a crisp texture and a balance of sweet and sour—perfect for adding to a char-grilled burger. Most recipes combine cucumbers and onions in a spiced, syrupy brine; we cut back on the sugar and added red bell pepper for its fresh flavor and color. Cucumbers can lose their crunch when processed in a boiling water bath; we found that combining several crisping techniques gave us the best results. We tossed our sliced vegetables in salt to draw out excess water.

We added a small amount of Ball Pickle Crisp, which helps keep the natural pectin from breaking down, resulting in firmer pickles. Finally, rather than processing in a boiling-water bath, we employed a technique known as low-temperature pasteurization, which involved maintaining our pickles in a hot-water bath at a temperature of 180 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes—in this temperature range microorganisms are destroyed and pectin remains largely intact.


Print Shopping List

2 pounds pickling cucumbers, ends trimmed, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 onion, quartered and sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2‑inch matchsticks
2 tablespoons canning and pickling salt
3 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon celery seeds
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon Ball Pickle Crisp

1. Toss cucumbers, onion, and bell pepper with salt in large bowl and refrigerate for 3 hours. Drain vegetables in colander (do not rinse), then pat dry with paper towels.

2. Meanwhile, set canning rack in large pot, place four 1‑pint jars in rack, and add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to simmer over medium high heat, then turn off heat and cover to keep hot.

3. Bring vinegar, sugar, water, mustard seeds, turmeric, celery seeds, and cloves to boil in large saucepan over medium-high heat; cover and remove from heat.

4. Place dish towel flat on counter. Using jar lifter, remove jars from pot, draining water back into pot. Place jars upside down on towel and let dry for 1 minute. Add 1/8 teaspoon Pickle Crisp to each hot jar, then pack tightly with vegetables.

5. Return brine to brief boil. Using funnel and ladle, pour hot brine over cucumbers to cover, distributing spices evenly leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Slide wooden skewer along inside of jar, pressing slightly on vegetables to remove air bubbles, and add extra brine as needed. 6a. For short-term storage: Let jars cool to room temperature, cover with lids, and refrigerate for 1 day before serving. (Pickles can be refrigerated for up to 3 months; flavor will continue to mature over time.) 6b. For long-term storage: While jars are warm, wipe rims clean, add lids, and screw on rings until fingertip-tight; do not overtighten. Before processing jars, heat water in canning pot to temperature between 120 and 140 degrees. Lower jars into water, bring water to 180 to 185 degrees, then cook for 30 minutes, adjusting heat as needed to maintain water between 180 and 185 degrees. Remove jars from pot and let cool for 24 hours. Remove rings, check seal, and clean rims. (Sealed jars can be stored for up to 1 year.)

Bread & Butter Pickles

Burnt Onion Jam


This tastes way better than the name might suggest.  I served it on bruschetta for a recent party and it was a hit.  I have seen it used on pizza or on a cracker with cheese, or just eat it out of the jar like peanut butter. This recipe is from Tasting Table and is so easy and  tasty!  Everyone should make it.

Burnt Onion Jam

All you need is 3 ingredients
Burnt Onion Jam Recipe

Photo: Jake Cohen

Charring red onions bring out a smoky sweetness in this versatile (and three-ingredient) jam recipe from Victor Albisu of Del Campo in Washington, D.C. Balsamic vinegar adds tang and a touch more sweetness for a condiment that’s just as good spread onto sandwiches or used as the base for pizza as it is mixed into pasta.

We love the ease of broiling the onions. However, if you feel inclined to fire up the grill, Albisu loves the extra punch of smoke you’ll get on it.


Burnt Onion Jam

Recipe adapted from Victor Albisu, Del Campo, Washington, D.C.

Yield: 1¼ cups

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes, plus cooling time

Total Time: 20 minutes, plus cooling time


2 pounds (4 medium) red onions, sliced into ¼-inch rings

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

Kosher salt, to taste


1. Preheat the broiler on high. On a sheet pan, arrange the onion rings in a single layer. Broil until charred completely, 9 to 11 minutes.

2. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a food processor and pulse, slowly drizzling in the vinegar until a thick but coarse jam forms. Season with salt and use immediately or store in a sealable container for up to 1 week.



Burnt Onion Jam

Chicken Tacos sound better as: “Tinga de Pollo”

Tinga de Pollo

This is simmering and smelling wonderful.  I am surprised my neighbors are not knocking at my door.


Tinga de pollo is typically made by poaching breast meat separately from the tomato-and-chipotle-based sauce and combining the two only briefly at the end. For deeper flavor, we chose boneless thighs and cooked them directly in the sauce. Fire-roasted tomatoes increased smokiness, and a little brown sugar and lime juice and zest further boosted the complexity. Simmering the cooked shredded chicken in the sauce for a full 10 minutes before serving gave the sauce a chance to thicken and loosened the chicken’s muscle fibers so the sauce could really work its way into every crevice in the shredded meat’s abundant surface area.



2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, halved and sliced thin
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
½ cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
½ teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoons juice


12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
1 avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ounces Cotija cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
6 scallions, minced
minced fresh cilantro
Lime wedges



In addition to the Mexican-Style Pickled Vegetables (Escabèche) and the toppings included here, Mexican crema (or sour cream) and minced onion are also good choices. If you can’t find Cotija cheese, you can substitute crumbled feta. The shredded chicken mixture also makes a good topping for tostadas.


1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half of chicken and brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to large plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.

2. Reduce heat to medium, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty pot, and heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, broth, chipotle and adobo sauce, and sugar and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits.

3. Return chicken to pot, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until meat registers 195 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes, flipping chicken after 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to cutting board.

4. Transfer cooking liquid to blender and process until smooth, 15 to 30 seconds. Return sauce to pot. When cool enough to handle, use two forks to shred chicken into bite-size pieces. Return chicken to pot with sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened and clings to chicken, about 10 minutes. Stir in lime zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. FOR THE TACOS: Spoon chicken into center of each warm tortilla and serve, passing avocado, Cotija, scallions, cilantro, and lime wedges separately.


Added a little Mexican Crema too!

Chicken Tacos sound better as: “Tinga de Pollo”

Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con Pollo

Made this the other night after watching an episode of America’s Test Kitchen.  It is so good.  My husband, who is not a foodie, said to please add this to my repertoire of dinners.

Arroz con Pollo (Rice with Chicken)

Though chicken and rice is a classic combination, creating a single Latin American version was far from simple.


A staple in Latin American kitchens, arroz con pollo combines inexpensive ingredients—chicken, rice, and spices—in a filling one-pot meal. To make our version, we chose moist chicken thighs, which we browned in a Dutch oven to build flavor and render fat. We used the food processor to transform onion, cilantro, cubanelle pepper, garlic, and cumin into a flavorful sofritothat serves as the backbone for the dish. We found that we preferred medium-grain rice to long- and short-grain varieties because it gave the dish a creamy, cohesive texture. Sazón seasoning does double duty here, adding both savory flavor and vibrant color.

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Serves 6
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
1 onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 Cubanelle pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped (3/4 cup)
5 garlic cloves, chopped coarse
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ cup mayonnaise
3 ½ tablespoons lemon juice (2 lemons), plus lemon wedges for serving
Salt and pepper
6 (5- to 7-ounce) bone in chicken thigh, trimmed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups medium-grain rice, rinsed
1 tablespoon Goya Sazón with Coriander and Annatto
2 ½ cups chicken broth
¼ cup pimento-stuffed green olives, halved
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
2 bay leaves
½ cup frozen peas, thawed (optional)

Sazón is a spice blend common in Latin American cooking. We developed this recipe with Goya Sazón with Coriander and Annatto (or con Culantro y Achiote). It can be found in the international aisle of most supermarkets; however, other brands will work. (One tablespoon of Goya Sazón equals about two packets.) If you can’t find sazón, use our homemade version. You can substitute 3/4 cup of chopped green bell pepper for the Cubanelle pepper. Allow the rice to rest for the full 15 minutes before lifting the lid to check it. Long-grain rice may be substituted for medium-grain, but the rice will be slightly less creamy.

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Process cilantro, 1/2 cup onion, Cubanelle, garlic, and cumin in food processor until finely chopped, about 20 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer sofrito to bowl.

2. Process mayonnaise, 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons sofrito in now-empty processor until almost smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer mayonnaise-herb sauce to small bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

3. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add chicken to pot skin side down and cook without moving it until skin is crispy and golden, 7 to 9 minutes. Flip chicken and continue to cook until golden on second side, 7 to 9 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to plate; discard skin.

4. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add remaining 1/2 cup onion and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in rice and Sazón and cook until edges of rice begin to turn translucent, about 2 minutes.

5. Stir in broth, olives, capers, bay leaves, remaining sofrito, remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, scraping up any browned bits. Nestle chicken into pot along with any accumulated juices and bring to vigorous simmer. Cover, transfer to oven, and bake for 20 minutes.

6. Transfer pot to wire rack and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff rice with fork and stir in peas, if using. Discard bay leaves. Serve with mayonnaise-herb sauce and lemon wedges.


After experimenting with long-, medium-, and short-grain rices in our Arroz con Pollo, we decided to call for the medium type, which produced a distinct texture that we preferred. Medium-grain rices (such as Bomba) produced a creamy, cohesive result because their exterior starches thickened the dish while the grains remained firm and distinct. Long-grain varieties like basmati or jasmine will do, but the dish will be less creamy. Finally, short-grain varieties, like Arborio or sushi rice, produced a creamy texture because short-grain rice starts to release its starch (and more of it) at a lower temperature than long-grain rice does.

  • Medium-Grain: Best for arroz con pollo
  • Long-Grain: Too separate
  • Short-Grain: Too sticky


Sazón (the term means “seasoning” in Spanish) is the signature spice blend of Latino home cooks; it’s used in everything from beans and rice to soups, stews, and more. There are many blends (we call for Culantro y Achiote in our Arroz con Pollo recipe), and ingredients vary, but sazón traditionally contains ground annatto (or achiote) seeds, which give dishes a rich yellow color. Garlic powder, cumin, and coriander are also often included. Sazón also typically contains monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is what supplies the savoriness. Look for sazón in the Latin American or international section of the supermarket.


There are many Sazón varieties. Make sure you pick the right one.



Now in its 38th printing, Carmen Aboy Valldejuli’s Puerto Rican Cookery (1975) stands as one of the most enduring 20th-century cookbooks focused on that island’s complex cuisine.

Why so complex? As Aboy Valldejuli (cousin to Hollywood star José Ferrer) explains it, “One can seldom be exactly sure of how any really ancient dish began, of course. But it is safe to say that our cocina criolla [creole cuisine] was initiated by the first human inhabitants of the islands, the Arawaks and the Taínos. For almost five hundred years the basic ingredients the Indians used have been enriched by the culinary skills of newcomers—Spanish, British, French, Danish and Dutch settlers, and slaves brought forcibly from Africa. The delicate blends and innovations of five centuries have developed a genuine cuisine.” Also traceable back to Taíno culture? Good old American-style barbecue, based on techniques the original islanders called barbacoa.

Carmen Aboy Valldejuli worked with her husband Luis on many of the recipes in Puerto Rican Cookery, including a chapter on rum cocktails.

Arroz con Pollo

Do Not Leave Your Glass on the Sink


This is not my cat.  My cat is a big fluffy Siberian Forest Cat named Frostyman the Cat.  He is a beautiful boy, but he is everything a cat should be.  This morning I learned another lesson from Frosty.  Do NOT leave your water glass on the counter with water in it and go back and drink the water later.

I usually have a glass of water that I keep by the sink during the day with ice in it.  I am trying to drink a lot of water as I know it is good for you.

This morning when I came down to the kitchen there was my beautiful boy with his head totally immersed in my glass of water. Frosty

It made me wonder how long my cat and I had been sharing the same glass of water?

I have found in the past, if I leave food on the counter, it becomes “cat food”, no matter what it is.  I also found if I cover it with a clean dish towel, the cat has no interest in it.  He does not seem to have the where with all to remove the towel or maybe is lazy or maybe is just not smart enough.

Going forward, if I leave my water glass on the sink, I will cover it with a clean dish towel. If the towel is removed then I will know the cat shared my water and now it is his.

Moral:  The cat usually wins.

Do Not Leave Your Glass on the Sink