Loaves & Dishes
By Jennie Geisler Erie Times-News staff blogger
Follow Jennie Geisler's kitchen adventures on her Loaves & Dishes blog.   Read more about this blog.
 Phone: 814-870-1885
Archive for February, 2012
Posted: February 29th, 2012

This tome is for people who cook with cast iron. But it's not as heavy.

Welcome to book-drawing Wednesday, when I give away cookbooks I don’t have space to store. This week’s drawing was for “Salad for Dinner,” by Tasha De Serio. The book goes to Shellie Specter and I’ll pop it in the mail today.

If you are not Shellie Specter, then feel free to enter the drawing for "The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook: A Treasury of Timeless, Delicious Recipes.”"
The book is designed for dishes to be made in cast iron cookware, but the recipes would work in any skillet or Dutch oven. It’s a substantial book with beautiful photographs. Old-fashioned American fare such as gumbo, pork chops and baked beans.

To enter the drawing, send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com. Include your NAME, MAILING ADDRESS, and TITLE OF THE BOOK you want. One winner will be announced next week.

For those of you who are just here for the food:

3 tablespoons butter
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into 1/2- ti 1-inch thick slices
1 sweet onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rings
3 to 5 fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 large (1-inch-thick) bone-in pork chops
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the apple slices, onion rings and sage; cook turning the mixture occasionally, until the apple and onion are caramelized. Remove the mixture from the pan and keep warm.
2. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the pan.
3. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper to taste. Add the pork chops to the pan and sear 6 to 8 minutes per side for medium doneness or 10 to 14 minutes per side for well done. For the best results, cover the pan for the last 10 minutes of cooking time to trap as much moisture as possible.
4. Serve the chops with the sauteed apples and onion.
– “The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook”

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 27th, 2012

Tortilla strips make this soup. Don't try to to skate by without them.

It was a loosely scheduled Saturday. We’re between swimming lessons, my parents were out of town, nothing else scheduled. It, frankly, felt pretty good. About noon I started thinking about dinner, hoping for a slow-cooker thing I didn’t have to worry about all day.
I had two choices, Slow-cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup and, well, something else I can’t remember. John chose the soup. Of course, if I put the word “Southwest” or “Mexican” in front of anything else, say “Southwestern Pasta,” or “Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookies,” he’d have chosen those. Tex Mex Mashed Potatoes, Santa Fe Pancakes would also rise to the top of his list, so his choice was not a surprise.
When I first tasted the soup, in the slow cooker, I was disappointed. It had no body, OK taste, and a disheartening watery-ness, even though I’d used homemade chicken stock.
But it was dinner, so I started chucking stuff in. Stuff that was supposed to go in, such as tortilla strips, cheese and cilantro. Then it started to taste like something.
Halfway through my first bowl, I knew I’d found something special. I told John I liked it that way, and he rolled his eyes, slurping up his second bowl.
“You just didn’t have all the stuff in it,” he said. “It’s like coffee without the coffee. It’s just hot water.”
Had to admit he was right.
Lesson: The tortilla strips (easy), cilantro and Mexcian cheese blend are not optional here.
One note: Make sure to get regular red enchilada sauce, not the green chili kind. It’s easy to confuse the two because their cans are so similar. I didn’t try it with green, but I’m pretty sure the red is better here.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 24th, 2012

OK, I’ll be upfront and honest about this. The reason the book drawing post didn’t show up Wednesday is that I forgot. I found a recipe I wanted to share and posted it and didn’t think about the drawing until later.
Then I promised Thursday.
The same thing happened.
So here it is Friday, and you’ve all given up. But wait! I remember now! Here it is!
We got a ga-jillion responses to the drawing for “Loukoumi’s Celebrity Cookbook,” by Nick Katsoris. In honor of the Oscars, the book goes to … (rustling paper) Sharon Gordon. I’ll pop it in the mail today.
This week, if you are not Shannon Gordon, throw your name in the hat for "Salad for Dinner: Simple Recipes for Salads that Make a Meal", by Tasha De Serio.
It’s a nice-looking book with some delicious-sounding ideas. But don’t think because it’s a salad book that they’re quick and easy. Most are actually pretty fancy, welcome challenges for serious foodies.
To enter, send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com, including the NAME OF THE BOOK, YOUR NAME and YOUR MAILING ADDRESS.
Good luck and have a great weekend.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 23rd, 2012

Look at this photo for a long time. Like 10 seconds. Now tell me you're not drooling.

Sick of meatless Lenten recipes yet? Need something to eat the other six night a week? Me too. But this is not that. This is meatless, yes, but it needs to be made not on Friday, as in tomorrow, but tonight. Well, maybe. I actually have to remake Spelt Ribbon Pasta with Feta for Loaves & Dishes next week tonight. So I might make this tomorrow night instead. Even though it’s Friday. And meatless. But not both.
That was the silliest paragraph I’ve ever written.
Here’s what I mean: This looks really good — and easy, to boot.
What does “to boot” mean?
Focus, Jen.
Lemon, Parsley, and Parmesan Plus Pasta from Martha Stewart Living, January 2012, has been lurking in my must-make box for a few weeks. There are just so many must-makes. Anyway, you’ll notice the wondrous-looking pasta — trofie — they used in the picture. That looks like something I could shovel, which is what I’ll try not to do when I make this.
I probably won’t be able to find trofie. Maybe campanelle would work. I know they have that at Wegmans. Looks yummy. For this. Tomorrow.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 22nd, 2012

If you or someone you know has used optimism to overcome obstacles, I'd love to chat for an Easter Sunday story.

Everyone had grandparents at some point. They can be a wealth of information, wisdom and history. I’m writing a story about the value of talking to our grandparents before we lose them, and the value of doing so. I’d love to hear from people who have done this, what they’ve learned, as well as people who wish they could, what they would ask. Lastly, I’d love to hear from grandparents themselves about they think of family members poking around in their pasts?
Reply, or feel free to call me at 870-1885, or send e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com.

If that doesn’t strike your fancy, here’s another one: I’d like to write about optimism for the Easter Sunday Living section. I’m looking for people who agree that optimism is a learned skill, especially people who have learned how to use it to overcome great obstacles. If this is you, or someone you know, you know what to do: Reply, call me at 870-1885 or send e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com.

Thanks for humoring me.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 22nd, 2012

If you like Wendy's chili, this recipe deserves a spot in your rotation.

I’m embarrassed at how often I eat fast food. I don’t really like burgers and fries, but I’m at McDonald’s all the time getting a Southwest Salad, Egg McMuffins, Snack Wraps; Burger King for oatmeal (Yes, it’s surprisingly tasty), Subway for Cold Cut Trios, and Wendy’s for chili.
Considering my job, I guess I should be eating home-cooked leftovers of column-worthy meals every day. But I’m not. Cooking is recreation for me, and most weeknights, I’m just trying to get something on the table, be it frozen pizza (cooked, silly), spaghetti, baked chicken, or heat-ups of whatever I made last weekend.
Wendy’s chili ranks in my top five favorite lunches. Co-worker Sherry Rieder and I swap recipes all the time, and she brought in — as her organized and well-thought-out lunch — some chili made with a “copycat” recipe for that fast food favorite.
You know what? It tasted for all the world like Wendy's chili. I can’t wait to try it myself. Next weekend.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 21st, 2012

Make theater popcorn at home -- and learn how to clarify butter in the process.

Popcorn is serious business at my house. It has been ever since a dear friend gave us a “Whirley Pop” as a wedding gift. It’s a pot you put on the stove with oil and popcorn and it has a turn crank that keeps the kernels moving until they pop. The whole process takes three minutes, and it blows away the microwave kind. I can’t even eat that stuff anymore.
Everyone in the family likes it a different way. My son likes to dip each kernel into melted fake butter. My husband puts Mrs. Dash and Spice rub mixes on his. I like to add a tablespoon of sugar to the pot while it’s cooking for a kettle-corn flavor.
But all three of us like movie popcorn. With the Oscars on Sunday, it’s a good week to perfect a homemade version. from the Food Network. Even better than the flavor: You don’t have to sell your car to pay for it.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 17th, 2012

I couldn't find a photo that would go with this recipe, so I thought I'd just include a self-portrait. Happy Friday.

It’s going to be one of those nights in my house. Everybody will get home at the same time. Everyone will be hungry and want something different for dinner. My kitchen will get crowded with a husband making salad, my son asking me “What is there?”, while I grab anything in sight to eat while I think about what to eat.
Well, maybe not. Maybe this dish would be worth a five-minute trip to the grocery store. It sure looks worth a 10-minute stand at the stove.
(That trip will also give me a chance to pick up some eggs, which are John Robert’s new favorite meal. I have to admit I’m kind of loving that. It’s even faster than nuked spaghetti. Maybe he’ll even try the fish … But that’s probably just wishful thinking.)

4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
3/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 ounce portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons whipping cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1. Sprinkle fish with thyme, pepper, and salt. Heat a large nonstick
skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add fish;
cook 1 minute on each side. Add broth, and bring to a boil. Cover,
reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook, uncovered, 1
minute or until mushrooms are tender. Remove fish from pan; keep warm.
2. Add cream and mustard to pan; stir with a whisk until well combined.
Cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Serve sauce over fish. Makes 4
– Recipes du Jour

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 16th, 2012

So I’m slogging through recipes, “No, just did that,” “No, takes too long,” “No, who’s going to make that?” “No, that looks gross.”
And then I screach to a halt. Don’t know if you ever get it, but that little Martha Stewart mag Everyday Food is pretty good in March. I’ve set aside a few for possible column fodder, including Sofrito. One simple one for home, taco burgers. And this one. This one can’t wait. It makes me want to go home right now and make it, deadlines be (darned).
I need the money to buy ingredients, though, so I’d better sit here a few more hours.
In the meantime I can lick my lips while I type. I’d give you a link, but it does not appear to be on the website yet. Can’t find the photo anywhere, either.
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
coarse salt and ground pepper
4 chicken leg quarters
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow union, cut into 1/2-inch wedges (root end left intact)
3 garlic cloves, minced
3-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, sliced into rounds
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup raisins

1. In a large zip-top bag, combine cumin, cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; add chicken and toss to coat. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Cook chicken, skin side down, until golden, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook 2 minutes.
2. In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, place onion, garlic and ginger. Add chicken, skin side up, then top with tomatoes and their liquid and raisins. Cover and cook on high until chicken is tender, 3 1/2 hours. (6 hours on low).
– Everyday Food, March, 2012

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 15th, 2012

Kid story, celebrity recipes. Sign me up.

Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing for “Rush-Hour Recipes,” from Gooseberry Patch. The winner is Carla Gutting. I’ll pop it in the mail today.

If you are not Carla Gutting, you are free to enter the drawing for a copy of "Loukoumi's Celebrity Cookbook," by Nick Katsoris. Thought it would be fun to do it with the Oscars coming up Feb. 26. The book features recipes from more than 50 celebrities, according to its cover. Why they can’t say just how many, and just say “over 50″ is a mystery to me.
At any rate, the book’s proceeds benefit Chefs for Humanity & St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Apparently, “Loukomi” is the name of a series of books with inspiring messages.
This one starts with a colorfully illustrated story about a cute little bear- or lamb-like creature named Loukomi and his friends.
It also features recipes such as Vegan Sliders from Ellen DeGeneres, Mini Mexican Pizzas from Sandra Day O’Connor and Guacamole from Beyonce.

To enter, please send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com including your NAME, MAILING ADDRESS and NAME OF THE BOOK you want. Look forward to hearing from you.

While many of the recipes are pretty substantial, I thought it would be fun to share with you one of the lamest ones I’ve ever seen:
CINNAMON TOAST from John Aniston of “Days of Our Lives”
2 slices of white bread, toasted
2 pats of butter
There are instructions, but I’m going to make you guess.

This one actually looks simple and promising:
OPRAH’S CORN FRITTERS (yes, that Oprah)
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup self-rising flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
2 ears corn, shucked, or 1/2 cup frozen or canned corn kernels
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, optional
Milk or water, if needed

1. Microwave the corn on high 2 to 3 minutes. Slice off the kernels and set them aside.
2. In a bowl, mix the cornmeal and the flour well, using a wire whisk. this will make your fritters very light. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and the egg.
3. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry. Don’t worry if the batter isn’t completely combined. You want to be careful not to overmix it. Fold in the corn and add the butter, if desired. If the result is thicker than pancake batter, thin it with a little milk or water.
4. Heat a skillet or griddle to medium, spray with Pam, and add spoonfuls of batter. Cook the fritters for 2 minutes per side.
– Loukoumi’s Celebrity Cookbook

Posted in: Uncategorized