Monday, January 20, 2020

Hints, tips and tricks for food and the kitchen

I've learned a lot of basic hints, tips and tricks when it comes to cooking foods, as well as presenting my foods. 

And I thought I'd devote a post on here to sharing them.

Why am I sharing them now?  Because of the chicken I made the other day, I wanted to share how I do it. In fact, I like to make them like this and keep some in the freezer so I can pull them out and use them in a recipe as needed.
Poached Chicken

I was poaching some chicken breasts and realized that the method I use is probably not a very common one, but it makes the most amazing, tender chicken, perfect for a chicken salad.   Poaching chicken breasts can make for a very tough, dry protein or if you time it right, it can also give you a nice moist meat. Personally, I think it gets tough.    But if you do it this way, you actually get a very silky, tender, moist meat.  And it is perfectly safe to eat as well.   It is important that the chicken breasts used are all about the same thickness. I'll use a meat mallet to pound them out a touch, just so they're even.
Bring about 4 cups of well seasoned water to a boil.  Salt the water, use chicken broth, aromatics, it's all good.  If you've added onions, or garlic to the water, let them cook about 5 minutes, you want to get some flavor into the water. You can flavor it however you want, I used some Herb Ox unsalted chicken bouillon in this.   Get it to a nice rolling boil.  Place your chicken breasts into the water, cover and turn down the heat to minimum, let cook a couple of minutes like that, then turn off the heat and walk away.
Chicken poaching in stock
You don't have to do it quickly, just walk away.  Don't lift the lid, just to check, just ignore it for 30-45 minutes or so.  Then you can come back and pick the chicken out of the water.  It will be perfectly cooked, moist, tender and flavored.  I actually could have left this another few minutes in the broth, but it was cooked, all the way.  I used them in Jambalaya and they cooked even further there.
Poached chicken
The mouth feel in a chicken salad is divine.
You can let the chicken cool in the water, although I generally don't.  I like to get it cooled off quickly so I put it in the fridge.  The poaching water I keep. I'll use it to cook rice or potatoes or just add it to my stock stash in the freezer.  It's a good starter for any kind of stock.  Just strain it and use it.

I have several cutting boards, well, they're actually plastic sheet cutting boards which go through my dishwasher to help clean and disinfect them.  However, because they're light weight, they tend to slip and walk around when I'm cutting something on them.  So I dampen a piece of paper towel and spread it under the cutting board.  When I'm done with cutting whatever, I use that piece of damp towel to wipe off the board before washing it. If you're using a larger board, you can dampen a kitchen cloth and place underneath as well.  This helps to keep the board from moving around on you and hopefully helps to keep you from cutting yourself as well.  I used to do this with the really heavy cutting boards when I cooked at the senior center to keep them from skittering (love that word) around on the table.

I love to bake.  I make a lot of cakes but also love making sugar cookies.   Rolling out the cookies is fun, but if you're too generous with the flour on the counter to keep the cookies from sticking, you can end up with a cookie that looks good, but doesn't taste that great because of the additional flour you rolled into the dough. 
I was watching Alton Brown one day when he was showing how he gets lovely, light crisp sugar cookies.   He used a sprinkle of confectioner sugar, no flour, just the sugar to keep the dough from sticking.  So I tried it, and it was amazing.  And it's the only way I do sugar cookies now.  They're light, crisp and taste amazing.  Just use your favorite Sugar Cookie recipe or you can use my recipe.
Sugar Cookies

I like to keep a pot of chives going, luckily for me I can grow them year round, and I use them on a regular basis to, not only add flavor but also to decorate savory dishes. It's amazing how often just a sprinkle of green on top of a dish adds so much to its visual appeal.

Speaking of which, I made an omelette this morning and while I was making it, realized I had another quick hint.  Actually, two or three hints.   Adding a teaspoon of water to the egg/s, as you're whisking them together,  not only makes for a lighter omelette, it also helps to keep it fluffier when cooking.  When I flip the omelette, and add whatever fillings I want, I also dribble a teaspoon or so of water around the edges of the omelette, put the lid on and let the steam help melt the cheese if I'm using cheese, and why wouldn't you?  Ham, cheese and mushroom omelettes are the best.
It also keeps the bottom from browning too much.  And here's where I added the chives.

One of my favorites ideas is to keep some Gremolata in the freezer.  I use it,  not only on fish, but it can be used on chicken or anything you want notes of green, lemon and garlic on. 
I freeze it in these little lidded shot glasses. 
In fact I keep a package of them on hand now for a lot of things. Not for shots, cause I don't do those, but I've found they're perfect for freezing just a couple of tablespoons of various flavorings.  I keep frozen, chopped parsley in some, I use it for some of my spicy pepper mixtures, and of course for the Gremolata as well.  I measure out lemon juice and lemon zest so I can use them in cakes or cooking.
Yes, I know you can freeze herbs in olive oil, but sometimes I don't want oil in a particular dish, and the herbs I freeze like this can be sprinkled over top of a dish to accent it.

And my final hint, which was an OOPS on my part.   I dropped an egg on the floor, and had to clean it up. This was actually the second egg I'd dropped in the past couple of days. sigh. Those little suckers jump when you least expect it.

The first egg I dropped, I grabbed some paper towels to pick it up with, and ended up with slimy egg white all over the place, and used more towels to clean it up.  So when that little egg jumped to its Humpty Dumpty end today, I remembered a great hint.
I grabbed my container of kosher flake salt out of the pantry and dumped some on top of the splattered egg.  I used a little more than necessary, but, it worked great anyway.  Let the salt sit on top of the egg for a couple of minutes and then just use your dustpan and a little brush and you can sweep it right up and deposit it in garbage.

Just a few hints, I'll share more at a later date.   But in the meantime, I need to go wash the floor, sigh.

All recipes and their respective images are either original or adapted and credited, and are all the sole property of Sid's Sea Palm Cooking © 2011-2020, with all rights reserved thereof.

Check out my cookbooks on Amazon.  All are available as paperbacks or as e-book. 
 Simple Shrimp Recipes - 25 + Appetizer, Entree and Dipping Sauces.
 Nibbles and Bites - A Compilation of Appetizers, Canapes and Finger Foods
  Hygge - Danish Food and Recipes 

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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Vegetable Beef and Quinoa Soup for #SoupSaturdaySwappers

It's time for Soup Saturday Swappers and this month the theme is Main Course Soups and Stews.
Vegetable Beef and Quinoa Soup

I got into a bit of a quandary on this one.  I was going to feature a soup from my Danish background, and then realized after making it, that I'd already made and shared the recipe for Grønlangkål  (Green Kale Soup) in a previous Soup Saturday Swapper.

But that's OK, I now have several servings of it in freezer, and I'll enjoy every bowlful.

So I had to come up with another soup.  I wanted to use the beef stock I made a few weeks ago, and decided that it had been a very long time since we'd had Beef Barley Soup, but when I went to buy some, the store in my little town had none.  But while I was there I spotted some Couscous, and after the Couscous ended up in my shopping cart I spotted some Quinoa and remembered I had some in the pantry at home.
So, there it was, the beginnings of a soup/stew/stoup idea.
I usually don't follow exact recipes for soups because of the area I live in, a lot of times more exotic ingredients are simply not available in our local grocery store.  I'm talking bok choy, broccolini, red cabbage.  I would have to drive 30 miles to the next town to even hope to purchase anything slightly out of the ordinary.  So I put my soup together with vegetables I had on hand, including a can of Vegall.  I always have some in my pantry.  I use it in a lot of different dishes.

Vegetable Beef Quinoa Soup
This recipe can be adapted very easily to become vegetarian, simply by using vegetable stock and omitting the beef.    The quinoa adds a lot of protein to the soup.
This is also perfect for using up the last slice of roast, or cooked hamburger meat, or even left over steak.

I think that adding tomato paste and tomatoes to beef soup amps up the beefy taste of the soup.  However, I'm not fond of tomato skin in my soup, so I do this.  I cut an X in the end of the tomato, place the tomato into the simmering soup for a couple of minutes, then take out the tomato, peel it, and chop the tomato back up and add it back into the soup.
 The skin has split making it easier to peel.
 Peeled tomato ready to chop up.
Vegetable Beef Quinoa Soup

Vegetable Beef and Quinoa Soup

Yield: 4 servings
prep time: 5 Mcook time: 25 Mtotal time: 30 M
This soup can be whipped up in half an hour for a quick weeknight soup that tastes like it's been simmering all day long.


  • 4 cups beef stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 tomato - skinned and chopped up
  • 2 tablespoons concentrated tomato paste
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 8 oz. chopped frozen spinach
  • 1 can mixed vegetables
  • 1/2-1 cup cooked beef
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Seasoned salt


How to cook Vegetable Beef and Quinoa Soup

  1. Add all the ingredients into a pot and let simmer for 20-25 minutes.  Taste for seasonings just before serving and add more salt if needed.   Serve with a nice crusty roll for a hearty soup
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 All recipes and their respective images are either original or adapted and credited, and are all the sole property of Sid's Sea Palm Cooking © 2011-2020, with all rights reserved thereof.

Check out my cookbooks on Amazon.  All are available as paperbacks or as e-book. 
 Simple Shrimp Recipes - 25 + Appetizer, Entree and Dipping Sauces.
 Nibbles and Bites - A Compilation of Appetizers, Canapes and Finger Foods
  Hygge - Danish Food and Recipes

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Community Potluck for January

I'm still feeling stuffed.

We had our Community Potluck this past week and I'm now getting around to telling you about the dishes that were brought and shared.

The Community Potluck has kinda morphed from the old Boat Club potluck, which was an ongoing event, the second Monday of every month.  The hosts of the previous Boat Club potluck stepped down after hosting it for many years.  Then Harriett Beach stepped into the gap and re-instituted it, and we started meeting at the Lanark Boat Club, and it was great.  Harriett passed away last year, but we've kept up the potluck she started up again, now we have different hosts each month. She thought it would be easier to do it that way, and so far it's worked great.  Not one person gets burned out, and we can keep on meeting.
I do want to do a shout out to the Lanark Boat Club, and thank them for letting us use their facility.  

I was the host for this month, and we've now got people signed up for the next few months.   This area is amazing I tell you.

There are some incredible cooks here, and they are more than generous in sharing during potluck gatherings.
I mean it, and when we have potlucks here you just never know what people will bring either.  There's always a variety of foods, and it's always good.

So without further ado, cause I know you're tired of reading, I'm going to start with the appetizer or nibbles portion, the pictures that is:
Cheese, crackers and Sausage are always a hit. 
Fish Dip is a favorite down here.  This was a mullet dip

 Chips with all the fixin's - Cheese sauce, Salsa and Pico de Gallo
I did say that fish dips and spreads are big down here. This was a smoked salmon spread

Now we come to the sides:
Pasta salad

Broccoli stuffed Balls- delish
The entrees:
Upside down Pizza
Turkey, and I didn't get a shot of the gravy which was presented in a little teapot, perfect
Clam chowder
Chicken with fresh broccolini in it
Sausage and sauerkraut
The requisite pineapple, with the Santa toothpick holder

Fruit cake made with orange slices
Turtle Pie
Chocolate cake made with beets
I brought a Bread pudding to the party with some custard sauce.  I'll share how I made it next week.
I only had a lonely, little spoonful leftover which I hurried up and kept for my breakfast the next day.

So there you have it, another successful potluck, with oodles of great food.

This is one of the best things about living in our area, the great cooks and their generosity in sharing their dishes with us every month. 

It's time for me to start thinking about what I want to make next month.  I usually figure it out the day of, but it never hurts to think ahead a little.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Mushroom Souffle Omelette for the Fantastical Food Fight

I know it's fashionable to be a little late, so I'm going to call myself fashionable.
Bad joke, I know.

But I'm here with my version of an Omelette for the Fantastical Food Fight this month.  Sadly, it's the second to last one as our hostess Sarah is going on to better things. 

BTW the Fantastical Food Fight theme this month is Omelettes.

Mushroom Souffle Omelette

I've had fun with the group when I've been able to join in, although I don't always make it to the party.
I've made Cantaloupe Salsa for Fish Tacos, a Banana Bundt Cake, some Pecan Pie Tarts, I've even made Ice Cream.   One of my favorites was some Honey Garlic Roasted Carrots, and of course Cookies, this version of a Danish Oatmeal cookie, called Havremakroner.  Can't forget the Eggnog Cake.  
I forgot to mention the Chocolate Cherry Balls.  OMG were they good.  

I wanted to share my version of a Souffle Omelette today though.

I know you're going, a Souffle Omelette really, but take my word for it, it's delicious.   I've actually been making omelettes this way for many years, just didn't know they were called souffle omelettes.  I called them fluffy omelettes.   Who knew? 

This is more of a method to use, rather than a straight up recipe.

Separate the eggs, whites in one bowl, yolks in another.   I've used up to four eggs, and found out the hard way that using more eggs, takes longer to cook, which can detract from the overall experience.

Whisk the egg whites to a soft peak, and set aside. 
Egg Whites, whipped to soft peak for Mushroom Souffle Omelette
Then whisk the egg yolks for a couple of minutes, they'll thicken a little, which is what you want.  
Heat a heavy pan with some non-stick spray over low heat.   
I then add the egg yolks with any seasoning to the egg whites, and fold them together.
Egg Whites, whipped to soft peak and egg yolk for Mushroom Souffle Omelette
 See how fluffy they look? 
Egg Whites, whipped to soft peak and egg yolk for Mushroom Souffle Omelette
Pour the egg mixture into the pan. 
Mushroom Souffle Omelette
At this point I dribble about a teaspoon of water around the outside of the omelette and put a lid on it. the steam helps to cook the top of the omelette.
After a couple of minutes, I'll take a little bit of butter and run along the inside of the pan, loosening and lifting the edges of the omelette with a spatula so that the butter can run underneath it.  Place the lid back on the pan and let it continue to cook.  As soon as the top is set, add some sauteed mushrooms and cheese to the omelette and fold over. 
Mushroom Souffle Omelette
Sprinkle some fresh chopped chives on top and enjoy.  You can see how fluffy the omelette is, and the texture is not the same as a regular omelette either.  I think it's actually better. 
Mushroom Souffle Omelette


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Monday, January 13, 2020

Sticky buns for #BakingBloggers

It's time for Baking Bloggers again, and I hate to admit it, but I had to make a couple of tries.  

Attempt #1 I'd tried making the roll dough from scratch, but it turned into a big ol' lump, and not a good one. I really didn't feel like wasting more flour/yeast etc.

Attempt #2  I ran to the freezer and grabbed out some frozen bread dough rolls I had there and went for it.    And then like the first attempt, well, it kinda worked, but I didn't care for how well it worked.

Attempt #3 And this wasn't a waste of flour and yeast or my time either.  I think I finally got it.  sigh.  I actually used my No-Knead Roll recipe as a base recipe, but changed it up a smidge, and that's what I finally went with.   I made 9 rolls, and then I played with them. 
I still don't have right combo of 'sticky' for the bottoms, but it's been fun taste-testing.  This time I baked them in my popover pan and boy did they turn out nice, and tasted great as well.   
 I did say I had to make several attempts, didn't I.
I'd seen a  video that someone had made doing this technique with cookie dough and making 'flowers' out of it and I wondered how it would work with roll dough.
Guess what, you can get some fun shapes out of it.

With the filling spread over the three rolls, and with it partially rolled up.  (sorry it's blurry)
 I used a pizza cutter to cut the little roll in half.
You can get almost a rose shape

 Cut side down in the pan, and left to rise.

The leftovers, as in the stale, wink, rolls are being made into a Bread Pudding with custard sauce for a potluck. 

Sticky Buns

Yield: 12 rolls
prep time: 15 Mcook time: 15 Mtotal time: 30 M
These are a lovely tasting cinnamon roll with a slightly sticky bottom. You can make them with prepared frozen roll dough or make your own dough.


Dough for rolls
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1 package yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • water if needed
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon (Can always add more if needed)
For the pan
  • 2-3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup confectioner sugar
  • 1 teaspoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 teaspoons heavy cream


How to cook Sticky Buns

  1. Warm the milk to 130 degrees, add the sugar and whisk together.  Add the egg, which will bring the temp down to about 110 degrees.  Sprinkle the yeast on top.   let stand 5-10 minutes for the yeast to soften. 
  2. In the kitchen aid or a separate bowl, mix together the flour and salt.  Add the melted butter and the rest of the wet ingredients.  Mix together,  then set the  Kitchenaid or stand mixer to the second setting.  The dough should be soft to the touch, if it seems a little dry, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough reaches a nice pillow feeling.   Place in greased bowl covered with a greased piece of plastic wrap and set in a warm place (oven's work great for this) to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  3. The following instruction is if you are making them in a baking pan. 
  4. Turn the dough out on a clean surface and pat it out into a rough rectangle 15 x 6 inches.   Spread the filling evenly across the dough leaving a half inch clear on on long end. 
  5. Roll the dough up, starting on the long end with the most filling, and make a log.  Cut the clog in half and then cut each log in six evenly sized slices. (you can also cut them into 8 even slices if you like).  
  6. Grease an 9x15 pan and pour the melted butter in the pan.  Sprinkle with the brown sugar.
  7. Carefully place each roll into the pan, and then cover and let rise for an hour or until it's doubled in size again.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375 and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the rolls are down.  Spread some glaze on top and serve. 
  9. These taste best warm, but if there are any left, you can turn them into a bread pudding later on. 
  1. Mix together the confectioner sugar, butter, extract and cream until combined.  Drizzle over the hot rolls.
Note: These work really well in a popover pan, which is what I ended up using.  
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Baking Bloggers January 2020
Sweet Rolls

 All recipes and their respective images are either original or adapted and credited, and are all the sole property of Sid's Sea Palm Cooking © 2011-2020, with all rights reserved thereof.

Check out my cookbooks on Amazon.  All are available as paperbacks or as e-book. 
 Simple Shrimp Recipes - 25 + Appetizer, Entree and Dipping Sauces.
 Nibbles and Bites - A Compilation of Appetizers, Canapes and Finger Foods
  Hygge - Danish Food and Recipes

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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Brie and Havarti Crackers

It's time for the Improv Cooking Challenge, hosted by Nichole of Cookaholic Wife.  I barely made it in here this time.

I was so busy, making, baking and, very important, taste testing my offering.   This month the Challenge is Cheese and Crackers.
And my thought was this, why not combine them, and have a two-fer.
So I did, took some cheese, made some crackers and VOILA!
These Brie and Havarti Crackers.
They were so tasty topped not only with the Pineapple Chutney but also with some Deviled Ham Spread.
Also good, just by their lonesome.
I did want to show them being cut out, since I've been watching many cooking video's that show people cutting out cookies, crackers, etc., and leaving so much room in between the crackers.  Lots of wasted dough.  Drives me up the wall.  So, I make sure I cut as much out of each rolled out piece of dough that I can, and then gather up the scraps and re-roll them out. 

Brie and Havarti Crackers

Yield: approx. 120 + crackers- depending on size.
prep time: 45 M 
cook time: 21 M 
total time: 66 M
These are a light, crisp, flaky cracker that goes well with toppings, but also tastes great crumbled into either chili or tomato soup. They're also great, eaten plain, with lots of cheesy taste.


  • 2 cups self rising flour
  • 4 oz. cold butter
  • 6 oz. cold Brie cheese with rind cut off.
  • 1 1/4 cup finely shredded Havarti cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1-3 tablespoons ice water (more if needed to gather the dough into a ball)
  • optional: 
  • 1/2 tsp. Mustard powder
  • or
  • 1/4 tsp. Cayenne powder
  • 1 egg, whisked for brushing on top
  • Optional: grated Parmesan Cheese for topping crackers


How to cook Brie and Havarti Crackers

  1. Cut the butter and Brie cheese into the flour and baking powder until it's well combined.  You can add the optional mustard OR cayenne pepper now.  
  2. Add enough water to combine the dough into a ball.   Form into logs or a flat disk, making several of either or both, wrap well and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or longer to chill.
  3. Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Cover a cookie sheet or pan with parchment paper/ 
  4. Cut  thin rounds from the log or roll the disk out very thin.   Cut small rounds and place on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet or pan.   Brush tops with beaten egg or not.  If you like, you can even sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese on top as well.   This is totally optional however, the crackers are very cheesy without.
  5. Bake in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, checking to make sure that the crackers haven't browned.  They need to stay a light golden color, as they get bitter when browned. 
Created using The Recipes Generator
All recipes and their respective images are either original or adapted and credited, and are all the sole property of Sid's Sea Palm Cooking © 2011-2020, with all rights reserved thereof.

Check out my cookbooks on Amazon.  All are available as paperbacks or as e-book. 
 Simple Shrimp Recipes - 25 + Appetizer, Entree and Dipping Sauces.
 Nibbles and Bites - A Compilation of Appetizers, Canapes and Finger Foods
  Hygge - Danish Food and Recipes

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Improv Cooking Challenge: January 2020

Ingredients: Cheese and Crackers

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