"Piehole" in Midwestern means "mouth," as in "Shut your piehole." Preferably we shut it on some tasty home cooking. We love to grow, market, buy, cook, bake and grill so we can feed our faces, chow down, pig out, scarf & whatnot. I'm a born Midwestern home cook posting foods and recipes that show up in front of me, because like all Midwesterners I eat what's put in front of me. Pull up a chair. What can I get you?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cauliflower Steaks: Who Knew?

Just out of the oven
Friend was talking but all I remember him saying was "cauliflower steaks," two words I never before heard put together, and, curious, I bought a cauliflower, cheap and nutritious but I had no recipe for it that everyone loved besides breaking it into florets and roasting. Looked up and made a recipe derived from the magazine Bon Appetit. The link will take you the cauliflower steaks recipe, complete with sauce and relish--essential, I think, to the dish. You can roast the tomatoes and garlic cloves with the cauliflower.

Low fat, low-carb cauliflower steaks--when they're browned in a pan, roasted until tender, and then served with a black-olive relish and roasted tomato sauce--they don't look bad at all, do they? Dare to try them. The black-olive relish makes a great pasta sauce. The leftover florets I cooked, mashed and served as low-carb "mashed potatoes." Truly a versatile vegetable I'll use more often now.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dash Greek Yogurt Maker Review

Dash Greek Yogurt Maker; 9" tall, 6"wide
I love yogurt's protein and calcium but was buying and recycling 52 plastic containers a year and that was not sustainable. Long ago I'd made yogurt quite easily and with no gadgets because my stove had a pilot light. No more. So I shopped for an electric yogurt maker. I wanted:
  • little to no preparation. Just dump the milk and the starter in the thing, and press. There's one like this, by Cuisinart, for $125. It also chills the yogurt after its eight hours of cooking.
  • my counter space. I have no counter or storage space, period. Those classic yogurt-making models that have 6 little cups in a circle take up a lot of room. So does the Cuisinart.
  • no little pieces, cups and caps, nothing hard to clean or easy to lose.
  • no hot BPA-ridden plastic to warp and poison us; glass containers preferred.
  • a choice of whether I'd make Greek or regular yogurt.
  • Results. with canned pineapple
  • a reasonable price. (It'd take almost a year to eat $125 worth of yogurt.)
I found that there is no machine that gives you readymade Greek yogurt at the end of its cycle. To home-make Greek yogurt there is one inescapable step, and that is to drain the yogurt through a special strainer so it becomes thick. You can buy a Greek-yogurt strainer. Trouble is, by itself the strainer will cost you, like, $26 plus shipping. A colander or cheesecloth will not work well.

I settled on the all-plastic (but BPA-free) Dash Greek Yogurt Maker, bought for $39 on eBay, because the price was reasonable, the parts were few (the base, two containers, strainer, and a lid; it comes in pink or blue), is lightweight, and I wanted the Greek option. I am extremely pleased. It includes a recipe booklet, and it's all very simple with easy cleanup and its own fridge-storage container, and all parts nest in the base when not in use. Its cord is very very short -- perhaps 12 inches. I don't mind this; keeps it safe.

There are some steps involved. You must first scald the 5 cups of milk in a pot and let it cool to 90-110 degrees. I use my candy thermometer for accuracy. I was reluctant to take the time and dirty a pot for this. After tasting the yogurt, I don't mind cleaning the pot. And, the other necessary step: The yogurt must be poured into the strainer and drained. The runoff is called whey. If your yogurt gets too thick, stir some whey back in.

I use 2 percent milk, organic and not, and set the timer for 10 hours and the result is the same: mild, creamy and delicious: like cream cheese. Half a cup is satisfying. It doesn't have that "chalky" or gelatinous quality of store-bought yogurts. I want to say that I am very critical of my kitchen tools and never buy a new kitchen item lightly. Glad, for several reasons, that I bought this. Greek yogurt, twice as concentrated as regular, delivers more calories (160 per half-cup) but far more calcium (25 percent of Daily) and protein, 16-20 grams.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Baked Not Fried Steak Fries: Recipe with a Trick

Crispy outside and creamy center -- but not fried! The hot-water trick is from Cook's Illustrated.

Crispy Baked Steak Fries

2 large russet potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Wash russet potatoes, peel if desired, and slice them into the shape of steak fries, about 1/3 of an inch thick.
2. Fill a large bowl with hot tap water. Place sliced potatoes in the water for 10 minutes. Water will become cloudy.
3. Remove and drain sliced potatoes and towel-dry them pretty thoroughly -- or else they won't crisp up.
4. Lay a sheet of foil over a baking pan or pizza pan. Pour olive oil onto the pan. Pile the potato slices onto the oiled pan and toss until all are coated with oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Separate the potato slices so they are not touching. Place in hot oven and allow to bake for 40 minutes, turning after 20 minutes.

Sometimes rather than use salt and pepper, I toss the raw potatoes with Cajun spices.