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Author Archives: nina in the kitchen

Hard Boiled Eggs

Eggs cooking in 1 inch boiling water

Cooks Illustrated is a cooking magazine I use a lot. This is their perfected method of making hard boiled eggs which do not explode!

At Easter I make my Russian family’s eggs dyed in dried onion skins. I buy extra onions to make sure I have enough!!

Ingredients

  • 6-24 white large eggs
  • Dried onion skins from 3 lbs yellow onions

Directions to Cook Eggs

  1. Gather 6 large white eggs that are cold and straight from the frig. Check them closely for cracks
  2. In a 2-3 quart saucepan bring 1 inch water to a boil
  3. Either place a steamer in the water or use a pair of prongs to gently place each egg in the boiling water
  4. Cover and reduce to a low simmer for 13 minutes
  5. In a medium bowl place 2 cups of cold water and 2 cups of ice
  6. Place cooked eggs in ice water and let sit 15 minutes
  7. This method should give you perfectly cooked eggs ready fo dying or peeling
Use a pair of tongs that safely hold an egg

Directions to Onion Dye Eggs

  1. Peel dried brown skins from 3 pounds yellow onions and place in a 6-8 quart pot
  2. Cover skins with water. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Let cool to room temperature
  3. Add eggs. I usually make 18-24 eggs with this amount of onion skins
  4. The longer the eggs soak in the water the darker they get. Sometimes the dye seeps into the egg white
  5. You can get a marble like effect if you wrap the skin around each egg and keep them in place with string or rubber bands
  6. If you soak the eggs more than 2 hours, cover the pot and refrigerate
Cooked eggs soaking in dried onion skins and water
Russian style Easter eggs
I soaked these eggs for 5 hours

Voila!

Scalloped Potatoes au Gratin or Gratin Dauphinois

Gratin Dauphinois

Also known as Gratin Dauphinois, this is the very popular style of potato served all over France! The recipe is from Julia Child’s The French Chef Cookbook. The recipes in this cookbook are all from her PBS cooking show.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled & smashed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 3-4 tablespoons butter
  • 6 cup oven proof and flame proof baking dish, 2 inches deep

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Slice potatoes 1/8 inch thick and place in a bowl of cold water. I like to use a mandoline to slice the potatoes
  3. Bring milk to boil on the stovetop with salt, pepper and garlic
  4. Drain potatoes and add to milk
  5. Cut up butter into tiny pieces and distribute over potatoes
  6. Bake for 25 minutes or until milk is absorbed and potatoes are tender and browned.
  7. Use the broiler to brown if needed.
  8. Bon Appetit!!!
Bring milk, salt, pepper and garlic to a boil
Slice potatoes 1/8 inch thick and place in cold water
Place potatoes in milk and distribute butter over potatoes
Scalloped Potatoes au Gratin

As Julia always said at the end of each episode Bon Appetit!

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup with Croutons and Cheese

You may think this soup is not popular in the real France, I did. But I was wrong! It is a classic hearty meal served all over France with pride and love! It will always be popular and on the menu!

I have made many versions of French Onion Soup including recipes from Julià Child, Everyday Parisian, This French Life, La Cuisine Paris, and The Original Dish. This recipe is a combination of techniques with Julia Child’s being the main classic source.

Here are some differences between the recipes I’ve tried.

Some recipes don’t add flour as Julia does. I think the browned flour adds depth to the flavor and a tiny bit of thickening to the broth.

Others use more onion or a variety of onions. I prefer using only yellow onions in this soup. Sweet onions end up being condensed in a not good sweet flavor.

Bay leaf and sage are often omitted and sometimes thyme is added. I like the sage and bay flavors. They’re richer.

Red or white wine? I’ve seen both in recipes. I prefer the earthy flavor and fragrance of sherry.

Chicken or beef broth? Homemade or store bought? Many new chefs like the lighter flavor of chicken broth. Classic French onion soup is made with homemade beef broth. I don’t have time for that. The Better Than Bouillon Roasted Beef Base is what I use. It’s a great beef concentrate paste you mix with hot water. The professional kitchens use it and it can be found in most grocery stores in the soup section. Their Organic Chicken Base is also very good

After spending several weeks in France I’ve learned that torn croutons are easier to eat than a large slice of toasted bread floating on top of the soup. The croutons don’t need to be brushed with oil before roasting either. Just tear the baguette into 1-2 inch pieces and bake at 425F 5 minutes or less, until lightly toasted on 1 side. They crisp up further when cooling.

The grated cheese can be any hard strong flavor cheese like Swiss, Emmental, or Parmesan. Emmental is Swiss Alpine cheese and is the classic. Mozzarella is too stringy when melted.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 pounds yellow onions, not sweet onions, peeled, halved and sliced thin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 8 cups hot beef broth, Better Than Bouillon Beef Base mixed with water
  • 1 cup dry sherry
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 French baguette
  • Grated Swiss cheese, Emmental, Comté or Parmesan. Not a real stringy cheese

Directions

  1. In a heavy 4 quart saucepan or casserole melt butter. Add onion and mix well.
  2. Cover saucepan and cook over medium low 15-20 minutes, stirring at times, until soft and translucent.
  3. Raise heat to medium high and remove cover. Add salt and sugar. Stir on and off. You will caramelize the onions to a deep golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  4. Lower heat to medium, stir in flour and cook about 2 minutes until flour is lightly browned. Remove from heat.
  5. Whisk in 1 cup broth and blend well. Add remaining broth, sherry, bay and sage. Heat to simmering for 40 minutes. Season to taste.
  6. This makes 8 big servings. It freezes well!
  7. To make individual gratinéed style, tear some bread pieces from a baguette. Enough to cover the surface of each bowl. Place bread on a baking sheet in a 425 degree oven and bake 2-5 minutes. Watch closely. Crisp and very slightly brown the top side. They will crisp up further as they cool.
  8. Place oven proof bowls on a baking sheet. Fill each with the soup. Cover the soup surface with croutons. Sprinkle with grated cheese.
  9. Place under broiler 2 minutes or just until melted or slightly browned.
  10. Serve each soup bowl on a dinner plate.
  11. Voila! There you have it!
Browned Sautéed Onion
Browned Flour and Onion
French Onion Soup
Toasted Croutons
Onion Soup Gratinéed with Cheese, Broiler Ready
Voila! Bon Appetit!

Cole Slaw with Lime Marinade

Angel Hair Style Cole Slaw with Lime Marinade

This quick and easy cole slaw is light and fresh! Put it together just before serving or make it a few hours ahead. This recipe serves about 4-6.

Angel hair style cole slaw is a very fine cut. Traditional Cole slaw works well too!

Ingredients

  • 1-10 oz package angel hair style cole slaw
  • 1/2-1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped fine
  • 1-2 cups cilantro, chopped
  • 4-6 mini sweet peppers, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon smooth white balsamic or rice wine vinegar
  • 4-6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Directions

  • In a medium bowl combine vegetables
  • In a small bowl combine oil, vinegar, lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper
  • Add marinade to vegetables and toss
  • Voila! There you have it!

Strawberry Jam

Traditional thick style strawberry jam

I’ve made many different recipes of strawberry jam over the years. This classic recipe fits the bill for thick and spreadable and not runny or sour.

Jam flavor is always dependent on the flavor and quality of your strawberries. Also if it’s rained a lot the berries will be more watery. Choose small berries that are perfectly ripe. Taste them before you buy them too!

This recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen. No powdered pectin is added to thicken the jam. Since apples contain lots of natural pectin, grated Granny Smitb apple is the thickener.

Bottled lemon juice is added because it has a more consistent acidity than fresh lemons. I have used fresh lemon which adds a real sour flavor.

To also insure the jam is the right thickness, the jam simmers until it reaches 217 degrees F. I love my Thermapen MK4 to get quick accurate reads!

All these techniques work to make a sweet flavorful thick jam

Preserving the jam is worthwhile. I boil my jars in a huge pot of water. After the jam is added I cover the jars with boiled lids. Then I place the covered jars of jam in the same large pot of boiling water for 5 minutes. It’s not hard. But it takes planning and helps preserve your jam so you can give it as gifts for Christmas!

Over the 4th I topped Crust brand Oatmeal Blueberry Walnut Bread with Strawberry Jam
Mash strawberries with a potato masher
Mashed strawberries, sugar, grated apple and lemon juice

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled and cut in 1/2 inch pieces (10 cups)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and grated Granny Smith apple (about 1 large apple) Use the large holes of a box grater to grate
  • 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice

Directions

  1. Fill an 8 quart or larger pot 3/4 full with water. Bring to a boil. Place six 8 ounce jars in the water and let simmer until ready to fill with jam.
  2. In a medium saucepan place 6 rings and lids. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer
  3. In a 5-6 quart pot add strawberries. Mash them with a potato masher
  4. Add apple, sugar, lemon juice. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a low simmer
  5. After about 20 minutes of low simmering and stirring, check the jam temperature. Cook until it reaches 217 degrees F
  6. Remove jam from heat. Remove jars from water and place on a towel Fill jars using a soup ladle and a wide funnel
  7. Wipe off the jar rims. Place a jam jar flat top and ring that has been simmering in water on each jar
  8. To process the jam jars place a kitchen towel in the bottom of the large pot of water.
  9. Add the 6 jars. Make sure water covers jars by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Then simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool on a towel or a rack.
  10. Voila! You’re done!
I don’t double the recipe. But I do make 2 batches of jam. First I make one batch and then I make another

Roasted Rhubarb Cobbler

Roasted Rhubarb Cobbler
Roasted Rhubarb Cobbler
Roasted Rhubarb Cobbler Drizzled with Cream

Easy to make cobbler by Melissa Clark published in the New York Times is as good as they say!! Definitely making this again!!

Ingredients

Rhubarb Filling

  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces, about 7 cups
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest, optional
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Biscuit Topping

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream plus 1 tablespoon plus more for serving
  • Demerara sugar or turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Into a 1 1/2 – 2 quart gratin or baking dish add the rhubarb, sugar, salt and zest. Then scrape in the vanilla paste or add extract. Stir well. Let macerate while making biscuit dough.
  2. To make the biscuit dough, in a medium bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Toss in and coat butter cubes. Cut in butter with a pastry blender, 2 knives or pinch and mix with your fingers until pea size morsels develop. Add 1/2 cup heavy cream and mix just until blended with a rubber spatula or spoon.
  3. Pour dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat gently into a ball. Divide into 6 pieces. Form each piece into a round disc. Place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes to 6 hours
  4. Place rhubarb in oven. Roast about 25-30 minutes or until tender and a syrup develops. Stir halfway through.
  5. Place the dough rounds over cobbler evenly spaced. Brush rounds with remaining 1 tablespoon heavy cream and sprinkle with Demerara sugar.
  6. Lower temperature to 375 and bake 20-30 minutes or until biscuits are lightly browned.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature. Drizzle each serving with heavy cream just before eating.
  8. Voila!
Rhubarb Cobbler for Breakfast!!
Love it!!!

Citrus Baked Fish Fillet

Halibut Filets Nestled in Citrus

I love this quick and bright flavored method of cooking fish. It’s a recipe from “Salt Fat Acid Heat” by Samin Nosrat, a most informative cooking instruction and creative foolproof cookbook! This is a slow-roasted process that insures even perfect cooking. Just don’t bake it too long

I used clementines I had on hand. Samin recommends blood oranges or Meyer lemons. I did use the lemon zest for the oil rub as she directed. Her recipe was for salmon while I used halibut or whitefish. In her cookbook it’s called Slow-Roasted Salmon

Halibut Ready for Baking

Ingredients

  • 2 – 4 oz halibut fillets
  • Salt for seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 thinly sliced orange, any variety

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 225 Degrees F
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment
  3. Arrange orange slices in 2 areas about the size of each fillet
  4. Lightly salt the fish on both sides
  5. Nestle the fish on the orange slices
  6. In a tiny bowl combine oil and lemon zest
  7. Rub the oil mixture over the fillets
  8. Place in oven. Slow roast at 225 F about 15 minutes or just until fish begins to flake when you poke it with a knife

Use any quantity of fish you want. Samin Nosrat used a 2 pound fillet of salmon with 1 tablespoon lemon zest and 2 tablespoons olive oil in her recipe. She also used blood oranges or Meyer lemons as her bed of citrus.

Samin Nosrat also recommends pulling any salmon fish bones out with a tweezers before preparing it. Great idea, right?!

If you’re roasting a 2 pound salmon fillet, plan to slow-roast for about 40 minutes or just until thick part begins to flake when poked with a knife.

I hope you give this recipe a try. Let me know what you think!

Voila!

Lemon Tahini Dressing

Blanched Baby Broccoli Drizzled With Tahini Sauce
Tahini, Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Garlic & Water!
That’s all you need!

Rachel AMA’s “Vegan Eats” introduced me to this recipe. It reminds me of the flavors of Turkey. Tahini, lemon, garlic. The sauce can be drizzled over cold salads, hot steamed vegetables, as a dip with naan or pita bread, or a sauce for anything!

It’s a mix of tahini, lemon juice, water, olive oil, garlic, & salt. Whisk it all together in a bowl and you’re done. Keeps well in frig too. I use it up in a few days

I’ve used various brands of tahini. Some are thicker and heavy and some are thin and syrupy. Rachel lives in London, so metric weights are used. It was extremely helpful to know 50 grams of tahini was needed since the various concentrations of tahini make a difference in the same volume. I have a new OXO digital scale I love and I use it daily! It weighs in metric and non-metric.

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

I grilled this baby broccoli on a grill pan. It was a new blackened broccoli flavor!

Ingredients

  • 50 grams tahini
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt, optional

Directions

  1. In a small bowl combine all ingredients
  2. Whisk together
  3. I added the salt. It’s up to you. I’ve been using more salt since reading “Salt Fat Acid Heat” by Samin Nosrat

Voila!

Italian Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce After Simmering 4 Hours
Tomato Sauce at the Beginning of Cooking

The Antoinette Pope School predates Julia Childs cooking school and was popular in Chicago mid century. My mother took lessons there in the 1940s and 1950s. These classes were taught by a couple who were French and Italian.

Here is my adaption of the recipe from their cookbook, The New Antoinette Pope School Cook Book by Antoinette and Francois Pope

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 large cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 cup finely diced celery
  • 4-28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2-3 teaspoons salt
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cup red dry wine, like Cabernet, optional

Directions

  1. In a large tall cooking pot heat oil over medium heat
  2. Sauté onion and celery over low heat until softened. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, less than a minute
  3. Add seasonings and sauté less than a minute
  4. Add tomatoes and stir well. Bring to a boil. Simmer covered 4 hours
  5. Be careful not to scorch bottom of pot. Tomatoes burn easily! Stir often
  6. Add wine during last 30 minutes of cooking

This freezes well and can be used with many Italian style foods

Italian Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

Voila!

Sweet-Sour Green Beans

This recipe is one I grew up with. My German grandmother Lulu Stoeckig Sanders shared it with us. We all loved this tasty dish and served it at many family gatherings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed, cut and cooked till tender, drained and kept warm
  • 6 sliced bacon, cut into 1/2 inch strips
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Directions

  1. In a large frypan cook the bacon until slightly crispy
  2. Add sugar and red wine vinegar
  3. Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved
  4. Add more sugar or vinegar to taste
  5. Add green beans to marinade
  6. Let marinate 1 hour over very low heat before serving.

Voila!