Saturday, February 22, 2020

Cherry Cobbler

A great dessert to chase away the winter blahs.

The most difficult part of this recipe is finding the cherries. The next most difficult part is paying for them. They will not be cheap. A simple fifteen-ounce can of tart cherries will set you back at least five bucks! I have seen them as high as seven! But, for a dessert with multiple servings, five bucks is, after all, pretty economical.

A specialty or up-scale grocery store should stock tart cherries.

This recipe is based on my peach cobbler; except, I use cherries. It is important not to make this too sweet. The first time I made it, I used a bit of cinnamon and allspice. It is best to just leave it alone and let the cherries do the talking. But, do add a few drops of almond flavoring. The topping of slivered almonds looks nice but is not at all necessary.

As you can see from the picture, this is not a "true" cobbler in the all-encompassing fruitness of cobbler definitions. It borders more on the unfortunately-named "dump-cake."  But it is easy to prepare and the buttery cake-like interior pillows the tart cherries beautifully.

Don't even be tempted to use canned pie filling.

  • For the cherries:
  • 1, 14.5-ounce can red tart cherries
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch
  • A few drops almond extract

  • For the batter:
  • 1 cup sugar (reserve two tablespoons)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup or one stick butter

Preheat oven to 400 F. Have your batter ingredients measured and ready to go.

Drain cherries but reserve the juice.

Place cherry juice, sugar, and cornstarch in a small pan and bring to a slow boil over medium heat. Cook until juices thicken to a kind of syrup. Remove from heat. Add the cherries and almond extract.

Place butter in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish and place in the oven to melt. You want the dish hot, so don't skip this step.

Prepare the batter. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl whisking until smooth.

Remove dish from oven and immediately pour in the batter. The melted butter will be displaced and seek the edges. Don't worry. Now, using a spoon, strategically place the hot cherries and syrup evenly over the batter. 

Sprinkle with the reserved two tablespoons of sugar. If desired, sprinkle with slivered almonds. Return to oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove. Allow to somewhat cool before serving.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Champagne Cocktails for the New Year

I love the You Tube channel "Preppy Kitchen." Mostly, it is about cakes. Incredible cakes. But it is all about John's journey. Once a middle-school math teacher, his full-time career is now You Tube and food. He, his partner, and twin boys recently moved (leapt) from LA to Connecticut to begin a brand new life. His mom, Rita, was often a guest on the LA channel. It was great to see her reunited with her son. Smiles say it all!

I don't know about you, but these champagne recipes are certainly ones I am more than willing to try and to keep for upcoming holidays. What will be your favorite?

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 9, 2019

Pulled Pork Butt with Sauerkraut and Potatoes in the Instant Pot

The only thing missing was a smidge of sour cream.

If you don't already own an Instant Pot, I hope it is on your Christmas list. Now that colder weather has arrived, I love my IP to prepare meals such as this. Slow cooked or oven cooked, a cheap cut of meat this size would normally take hours. In the Instant Pot, it took 45 minutes! It was delectable!

This certainly isn't the prettiest dish to photograph; but, what it lacks in visual appeal, it more than compensates in taste appeal.  This was delicious. Throw in a cold, dreary wet winter day to make it even more enjoyable. Warm. Friendly. Comforting. A frosty glass of white wine ....

How good was it? Well, I'm making it again tomorrow. But I will throw in some carrots for color.

Oh, I already hear the naysayers who think they do not like sauerkraut. Trust me, you will enjoy this. The secret is simple. Drain the kraut, wash well under cold water. Add brown sugar. You will still get some "tang," but it will not be sour or overpowering. Instead, it is a happy marriage of tastes that play off each other. The sweet with the sour. Just a tad bit of heat. And don't skip the caraway seed!

I avoid so-called "fresh" sauerkraut sold in plastic bags. America's Test Kitchen showed that those plastic bags had to use many "artificial" ingredients just to keep their product fresh. Canned did not. If you can find it, Libby "Bavarian" brand is my choice. 

I was lucky enough to snag a close-dated, two-pound pork butt for $3.40. It's a cheap cut of meat. Usually on the fatty side, seek one that does not have humongous clumps of white fat. And only use pork butt. Anything else will simple be dry and unpalatable.

I prefer lots of onion with this dish, so use a big one! If you forgo the potato and prefer mashed (my personal favorite), do use more onion since it makes for a killer gravy. For this recipe, I used 1 large russet simply because it was on hand. I would have preferred baby potatoes or fingerlings. Just be sure not to cut them too small. You do not want them falling apart under pressure. 

Use bread to sop up the lovely gravy. This particular piece of bread is a stale heel piece. I save
lucky pieces like this for their amazing "sopping" quality. The butter doesn't hurt.

  • 1, 2-3pound pork butt with the bone
  • 1, 15-ounce can sauerkraut (I highly recommend Libby brand, Bavarian style)
  • 1, 14.5-ounce can chicken broth, reduced sodium
  • 1 large onion, (the bigger the better) sliced in half, then sliced into thin halfmoons
  • 1-2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 large garlic clove (or two medium), thinly sliced
  • 1 good pinch red-pepper flakes (less is better than more) and do not omit
  • 3/4 teaspoon caraway seed, slightly crushed
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and Pepper

Wash and pat dry your pork butt. Why? Meats with an attached bone are sawn. They can have bits of "bonedust" and usually the bone bleeds once it is cut. You just want to clean all that up. 

Season the meat well on both sides with salt and pepper. P ace in the Instant Pot. If you wish, use the rack and place it on top--it's your call.

Drain your sauerkraut into a small bowl. Squeeze it dry. Save the juice.

Run it under cold water and squeeze dry again. Place it in a medium bowl. Mix in the brown sugar, caraway, red-pepper flakes and garlic. Taste. If too sweet, add a bit of the sauerkraut juice. If too sour, add a bit more brown sugar. 

Place the sauerkraut mixture over the pork.

Peel and slice your potatoes. Cut into chunks. Place on top. Now add your chicken broth.

Dot with butter. 

Place lid on IP. Be sure the valve is on "sealing" mode. Process for 45-60 minutes (less time for a smaller butt, longer for a larger). Allow a natural release. 

Remove the meat. Remove the bone and shred. Add meat back to IP. Stir. Serve. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 30, 2019


I grew up in a tooth-oriented family. My father was a dental technician--he made false teeth (in fact, he had one of the oldest dental labs outside of Chicago). My siblings grew up with great, healthy white pearls. I did not. Mine were never "white" and, as a child, I had severe, deep cavities that haunt me today as the outer remnant of each affected tooth breaks off and falls away as I age. Ironically, those deep fillings remain.

Needless to say, I have severe dental phobia. As a young adult, I once had a terrific dentist who understood. She was understandably shocked at my behavior once I had to sit in that chair, even after I had warned her.

On my first visit, my body was so taught and rigid that she and her assistant kept pushing my outstretched legs down to force me to relax. My eyes squeezed shut. My fists clenched. My heart pounded. When I left the chair, it was sopping wet as was my shirt. She told me she had never seen anything like it.

On subsequent visits, I was quietly ushered into a quiet room all by myself.  Gas was affixed to my nose and I sat there for a good 30 minutes until I was totally and fully relaxed. When procedures began, they slipped wads of Kleenex into my hands so I had something to grip and something to keep my hands dry. Once, I almost fell asleep. 

My childhood diet was no different than that of my brother and sisters, yet my mother always singled me out and my horrible teeth. My entire childhood she threatened to brush my teeth with cleanser. One day, I finally gave in. Comet with bleach was the cleanser of choice. Needless to say, it burned like hell--not to mention what it must have done to my tooth enamel. She was not happy. Go figure.

Unfortunately, it did not whiten my teeth.

People do not realize, but teeth are hereditary. It is rare someone is actually born with white teeth. My father had "color wheels" of tooth colors--like paint chips. 

I love this video. This obviously intelligent woman is angelically soft-spoken. She is creative. Her grammar and diction is spot on.

When I see videos like this, I yearn to be a teacher again. I would certainly show it to my students.--from middle school to high school. And I have no doubt it would spark conversations from all them about toothless relatives who are, quite simply, like this beautiful woman, most likely, loved to death.