The Daily Rush

Life is hard. Make cooking easy.

Archive for November, 2008

Tantalizing Turkey

November 16, 2008 By: brooknoel Category: Meats No Comments →

When cooking a turkey, try laying down a “bed” of celery stalks first. The stalks will help
air circulate and keep the turkey moist while also adding great flavor. Another great tip
for keeping your turkey moist is to roast it breast-side down for the first hour and then turn it over for the remainder of the cooking time.

Easy Homemade Noodles & Noodles Napoli

November 08, 2008 By: Brook Category: Kids in the Kitchen, Recipe Categories:, Recipes by Main Ingredient, Rice and Pasta, Side Dishes No Comments →

Make-and-Serve Your Own Homemade Pasta Noodles
What kid doesn’t like noodles and what kid doesn’t like playing with flour, and dough, and all that messy stuff! So grab your family, and let everyone get into the act—mixing, and rolling, and messing and drying. Be sure to have your camera handy for some memorable pictures—after a few batches. You’ll all be pros!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
A floured surface and a rolling pin

Mix the flour and salt and form into a pile. Make a well in the center. Put the eggs, oil, and water in the well. With your hands, start pulling the flour into the well, mixing and pulling, mixing and pulling, until all is blended into dough.

Form the dough into a ball and knead for 5 minutes on a floured surface. Divide dough into quarters and work with one quarter at a time (keeping the rest of the dough covered).

On a floured surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll the dough in rectangular form as thin as you can get it. Gently fold the dough in thirds; and using a sharp knife cut the layered dough into 1/4 -inch wide strips. Gently unfold the strips to their full length and lay them on a towel or hang them over a hanger, to air dry for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile bring your largest pot of boiling water to a boil; add a little salt; add in the noodles. Cook just until al dente about 3 to 5 minutes. (Remember, fresh noodles cook faster than packaged/dried pasta noodles.) Drain and toss with melted butter, a little chopped fresh parsley, and grated Parmesan cheese; or serve with a favorite spaghetti sauce.

If you find that you and your kids love making your own pasta noodles, invest in a pasta machine that will automatically roll and cut the dough for you! You can store freshly made, uncooked pasta (wrapped) in the fridge for up to 5 days and in the freezer for several months. It also might be fun to look into making different ‘flavors’ of pasta, by adding herbs and spices to the dough.

Example recipe using homemade noodles:

Noodles Napoli

8 ounces broad noodles, cooked al dente and drained
2 cups chopped ham or chopped cooked chicken
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter

Grease a 9 x 13 –inch baking dish. Layer 1/3 noodles, 1/2 the cooked meat, 1/3 noodles, remaining meat, last third noodles. Beat eggs, milk, and cream well; pour over casserole. Top with bread crumbs and dot with butter. Bake in 350° oven for 30 minutes.

Vinaigrette Salad & Dressing Tips

November 08, 2008 By: Brook Category: Kitchen Basics, Recipe Categories:, Salads, Side Dishes No Comments →

1) In a small lidded jar, vigorously shake your vinaigrette dressing until emulsified.

2) Use a little Dijon-style mustard (1 to 3 teaspoons) not only for flavor, but to bind and
thicken the dressing as well.

3) Use dressing at room temperature; if stored in the fridge—take out and bring to room
temperature before using.

4) Re-shake and lightly dress the salad just before serving.

5) Dressing your salad is an instance when “less is more”—you don’t want an “oil slick” or
“puddle” at the bottom of your salad bowl!

6) Salad greens should be washed and patted or spun dry (remember oil and water do not
mix!), so the dressing adheres better to dry lettuce. Salad greens may be washed and patted
dry ahead of time; placed in the salad bowl in the fridge; and covered with damp paper
toweling—your greens will be crisp and clean and waiting for you at dinner time.

7) Toss the greens lightly with dressing, drizzled on just until greens are lightly coated and
glossy. Serve.

Example easy vinaigrette recipe:
Simple Vinaigrette (serve over mixed leafy greens)

5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fines herbs
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Pinch sugar

Shake all ingredients in a small, tightly lidded jar until blended. Use at room temperature. Re-shake just before dressing the salad. Use just enough to lightly coat the greens and make them glossy. Toss the salad as close to serving time as possible.


Mix 2 parts oil with 1 part vinegar (some people prefer 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar for a little less tart dressing)

Blanch / Blanching

November 08, 2008 By: Brook Category: Cook's Glossary, Recipe Categories:, Recipes by Main Ingredient, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetables No Comments →

Blanching is a quick-cooking process in which food is briefly plunged into boiling water to partially cook for a minute or two, then immediately transferred to an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.

Example recipe, using blanched or par-boiled broccoli:
Batter-Fried Broccoli

8 servings

2 pounds broccoli (use the florets and very tops of stems)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 ounces Parmesan cheese
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
Pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

Parboil (blanch) the broccoli florets for 2 or 3 minutes to tenderize but not fully cook. Set aside to evaporate and dry. (Broccoli must be dry, or batter will not stick.)

Meanwhile mix remaining ingredients to make a batter. Heat 4 to 5 cups of vegetable oil to 350° in a deep fryer. Batter the broccoli to coat and deep-fry, in batches, for about 3 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Serve hot as is or with assorted dips, such as a ranch-style dressing or mustard-mayonnaise.

Note* If you do not have a deep fryer, such as a FryDaddy™ or a FryBaby™ an electric-skillet will do just fine. Make sure you get your oil up to temperature and hold it there, frying small batches at a time, so as not to cool down the oil. This will keep your batter from absorbing too much oil and becoming soggy.

Example recipe, using blanched asparagus:
Asparagus-Prosciutto Appetizer Spears

Fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and blanched
Cream cheese
Prosciutto (imported Italian salt and air-cured ham)

Trim asparagus by “snapping” off woody ends. Plunge into boiling water until crisp-tender. Immediately plunge into ice water to stop cooking. Drain and pat dry. Spread middle-third of each spear with a little cream cheese and wrap in thinly sliced prosciutto ham to cover the cream cheese. Arrange on serving platter.

Beef: Tenderness Tips

November 08, 2008 By: Brook Category: Meats, Tips and Techniques No Comments →

It is important to remember that when you cook tougher (but oh so tasty) cuts of meat (such as flank steak, skirt steak, chuck steak, and so on) you have basically 2 options:

1) Either long-cook/ braise the meat to a slowly-moist-cooked, fork-tender well-doneness that you can literally pull apart with a fork. (Slow-cookers, Dutch ovens, and Foil-covered in the oven are perfect methods for this.)


2) Marinate the meat first (for several hours) and quick-cook (being careful not to overcook) to no more than medium-rare-pink. This will keep the meat at its most tender and usually requires a bit of attention and timing. Start with your meat at room temperature (pull from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking). At end of cooking, pull the meat from your heat source just a little under-cooked (remember meat tends to cook about another 5 degrees or so, while it is resting!). Let the meat rest for 10 to 15 minutes (to set its juices) then cut the meat into thin slices across the grain. (Grilling, broiling, and even pan-frying are perfect techniques for this.)

Balsamic Vinegar

November 08, 2008 By: Brook Category: Cook's Glossary No Comments →

Balsamic vinegar is an aged reduction of white sweet grapes (Trebbiano for red and Spergola for white sauvignon) that are boiled to a syrup. The grapes are cooked very slowly in copper cauldrons over an open flame until the water content is reduced by over 50%. The resulting “must” is placed into wooden barrels and an older balsamic vinegar is added to assist in the acidification. Each year the vinegar is transferred to different wood barrels so that the vinegar can obtain some of the flavors of the different woods. The only approved woods are oak, cherry, chestnut, mulberry, acacia, juniper, and ash. The age of the vinegar is divided into young - from 3 to 5 years maturation; middle aged 6 to 12 years and the highly prized very old which is at least 12 years and up to 150 years old, and is consequently very expensive.

As the vinegar ages, its flavor becomes more intense, its color deepens, and its price more expensive. Don’t let the variety of Balsamic Vinegars out there intimidate you—pick a good “middle of the road” medium-priced one and you will be very pleased with the results it gives you in your cooking.

Pretty soon you will find yourself adding Balsamic vinegar to sauces, salads, roasts and gravies, vegetables, and even dessert! (Fresh, sweet strawberries sprinkled with a little Balsamic vinegar—very popular! And the finest Balsamic vinegar, drizzled over ice cream—that’s very chic too …)

Apple Rings

November 08, 2008 By: Brook Category: Recipe Categories:, Side Dishes No Comments →

Apples, peeled, cored and sliced about 1/2 inch thick rings
Brown sugar

Sauté apple rings in skillet with melted butter until tender (just need a few minutes). As they sauté sprinkle with a little brown sugar to glaze. Turn with a spatula. Serve warm as a garnish with pork instead of traditional jarred applesauce.

Granny’s Apple Cake

November 08, 2008 By: Brook Category: Dessert Recipes, Recipe Categories: No Comments →

Makes 10 servings

11/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash nutmeg or ground clove
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
2 cups, peeled, shredded apples
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional. I don’t put in nuts.)
1 egg white, beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Fold in apples, nuts, beaten egg white, and oil to make a thick batter. Pour batter into a non-stick sprayed 8 x 10 -inch baking pan, 10 -inch spring-form pan, or Bundt® pan. Bake in 350° oven for approximately 35 minutes, or until done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm or room temperature, as is or with ice cream or whipped cream.

All About Apples

November 08, 2008 By: Brook Category: Cook's Glossary No Comments →


There really is truth to the old saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples have a list of health benefits a mile long, including everything from lowering cholesterol to providing fiber to aiding with healthy lungs and minimizing asthma. Apples and apple juice are excellent additions to anyone’s diet.

Some of the best apples to use for cooking are: Granny Smith, Fuji, McIntosh, Pippin, Rome, and Winesap.

For just general good snacking and popping into your lunch box keep Red, Green, and Golden Delicious apples in your fruit basket.

Weights and measures:
1 pound of apples = approximately 2 large, 3 medium, 4 to 5 small
1 pound of apples yields about 3 cups, peeled, sliced, and ready to cook.