Friday, May 24, 2013

Organizing a New Kitchen

Finally back after our move. I've been digging myself out from boxes everywhere for the last 2 weeks, after frantically packing for the weeks prior. Moving is stressful at best. My husband keeps asking where an item is. All I can say with any certainty is, "I just don't know!" Of course, that is not the answer he hoped for so it continues to be stressful. Such is life and moving.

I have no new photos to attach here for this blog. Maybe tomorrow, or maybe next week, but I wanted to at least write a little bit here. I am making an effort to do a little light cooking, in an attempt at "getting to know my new kitchen". It is hard to get things in an order so they are handy and useful, and every kitchen is set up differently. I have plenty of room, but things are laid out differently in each house. Yesterday I made brownies. I had been warned that the stove here runs hot, so I set the temperature 25 degrees lower. The brownies were not done in the usual time called for, so I upped the temp and they were finally done with about 7 extra minutes. They came out delightfully chewy, so that was great, but I am not sure the oven temp really runs much hotter than normal, after that experiment. Here is my recipe:

My Best Brownies

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2/3 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts

In a medium saucepan, melt together the chocolate and butter (11 tablespoons). Once melted, remove from heat. Add in the sugar and mix to combine. Add the eggs and beat to combine. Add in the flour, baking powder, salt and nuts and stir until just mixed. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Do not overbake.

I made my Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes with Ham a few days ago, in the midst of complete chaos. They also turned out perfectly and it was so wonderful to have a home cooked meal again, instead of store bought rotisserie chicken, potato salad and coleslaw, or spiral sliced ham with potato salad and coleslaw. Not that I am complaining. My wonderful sister-in-law provided the foods during the move, so I didn't have to panic trying to find things to make in such a chaotic situation. I am completely and utterly grateful for all she provided. It is still nice to get back to some semblance of normalcy. This coming weekend I am hoping to make Mom Rawstern's Famous Baked Beans with the ham bone from that spiral sliced ham we have been eating for the last week.

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes with Ham
Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes with Ham
Serves 6 to 8
Makes one 9 x 13-inch casserole

2 cups ham, cut in small chunks
3 - 3½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled, sliced ¼" thick
½ medium onion, sliced thinly, then roughly chopped
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, reserving ¾ cup aside
6 tablespoons flour
1½ teaspoon salt
¼ - ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups milk, evaporated milk or cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (375, if convection). Spray a 9 x 13-inch casserole with cooking spray. Divide the potatoes into three piles, making one pile of the best and most even shaped slices, and one with the smallest bits and pieces. Place the latter pile into the bottom of the casserole. Layer half the ham over the potatoes, then half the onion, and half the cheese. Sprinkle on 3 tablespoons of the flour, then half the salt and pepper. Place pats of one tablespoon of the butter over the surface. Repeat with another layer of potatoes, then the ham, onion, cheese, flour, salt, pepper and the butter. Top with the best looking potato slices.

Heat the milk to just warm, and whisk in the Dijon mustard. Pour this over the casserole, cover the casserole with foil and bake for45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for another 45 minutes. Ten minutes before the potatoes are done, sprinkle the reserved cheddar cheese over top of the casserole and allow to finish baking. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving. 

Today my husband requested my Uniquely Fine Chicken Salad. He loves it for lunch sandwiches, though it is equally good for noshing, served on crackers, tortillas or buns. It is also wonderful for appetizers. Eventually I will get some photos to put in my blog and website, but for today, at least the recipe is available. It is completely gluten free, if served on something other than wheat breads or crackers. It is delightful on a bed of lettuce or tomatoes, too.

Uniquely Fine Chicken Salad

Uniquely Fine Chicken Salad
Uniquely Fine Chicken Salad
Makes 6 to 7 cups

½ cup raisins or craisins
½ cup pecans, walnuts or almonds
3 to 4 stalks celery, in 1-inch chunks
1 carrot, scrubbed, in half-inch slices
1 green pepper, seeded, in 1-inch chunks
1 whole rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed
¾ cup sweet pickle relish
¾ - 1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup yellow mustard

In a food processor, place the raisins and nuts and process for about 20 to 30 seconds, until in smaller bits. Remove to a large bowl. Next, process the celery in about 4 to 5 short pulses and remove to the bowl. Repeat with the carrot and then the green pepper. Do not process too fine. Repeat with the chicken in two batches and add to the bowl, along with the pickle relish, mayonnaise and mustard. With a spatula, combine all the ingredients well. 

It is good to be back!

My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest