Fluffy Scrambled Eggs

With four children in the house, I must have scrambled at least a few hundred dozens of eggs. Often, my scrambled eggs weep with liquid like one of my kids having a bad day or become a yellow shredded mess. But thanks to tips from Cooks Illustrated magazine, now I can make fluffy, tender scrambled eggs. Here is how.

8 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon table salt
Ground white pepper
1/2 cup half and half
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

In a bowl, crack eggs and add salt, pepper, and half and half. Using a fork, whip it well until the color is uniformed yellow.

Heat 10-inch non-stick frying pan to med-high. Put butter and let it foam, swirling the melted butter in the pan.

Pour in beaten eggs and let cook for 15-20 seconds.

Using a rubber spatula,gently lift and fold over the cooked eggs into the middle. Keep "Lifting and Folding" into a mound until eggs are still somewhat shiny and wet.

Put in a serving bowl and serve immediately.


Cooking Tip - Frying

One of the challenges in cooking for a large crowd was keeping fried foods crispy. When frying 60 pounds of fish and serving 300 people all at the same time, timing is critical.

Here are some helpful tips to keep your fried foods crispy and tender.

(Shown here is fried chicken breast)

1. Use the thermometer. Oil temperature is critical. Even when you are an experienced cook, it is hard to gauge the correct temperature. Oil temperature should be at least 350 degrees F for denser meat like chicken and 375 degrees if you are frying fish, french fries, and such.

2. Do not over crowd the fryer. Over crowding lowers the oil temperature too quickly because cooking energy is absorbed into uncooked foods. Frying below recommended temp will cause to lose crispiness.

3. Place fried foods on a wire rack. This way moisture won't be trapped underneath creating steam and making foods soggy. Do not double stack any fried foods either, for the same reason.

If you are serving a large volume of fried foods at the same time, it can be fried up to an hour ahead and kept in room temperature on a wire rack. When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and "flash heat" the food for 6-7 minutes. Crispy texture is compromised just a bit, but it will be better than having diners wait.

(Fried Catfish Fillets)


Spiced Salad Dressing

A good salad is a prelude to a great meal. This dressing has a bit of heat that makes you want more!

Using a blender is a quick and easy way to make most salad dressings.

Here are two of my favorite hot sauces I use to give heat to food. Unlike Tabasco, which is based with vinegar, these sauces are pureed peppers and have cleaner taste and lasting heat. Can be purchased in Asian food markets or your grocery store.

Using sweet colored peppers give this dressing more vibrant color and sweeter taste than using green bell peppers.

Yield: Makes 1 1/2 pints

2 cups olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 red bell peppers, sliced
1/2 small onion
1-2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons chili sauce (as seen above), start with 1 Tablespoon and adjust heat to your taste.

Put all the ingredients into a blender, blend for 1 minute. Store in a jar with a lid and refrigerate up to a week.

Great with grilled fish.


Turkey Burger with Bacon, Swiss, and Watercress

OK, I started out well with lean ground turkey. Healthy, right? But I could not resist adding caramelized bacon and onions!

Smell of bacon and onion frying makes me feel happy.

Hot, quick sear on a griddle and finish off in the oven.

Stack the garnishes high : watercress, tomato, melted Swiss and more bacon!

Makes 6-8 patties

Panade Mixture:
2 slices of white bread
1/2 cup buttermilk

Cook bacon for 8-10 minutes, then add onions until well caramelized
4-6 slices of bacon, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup of watercress, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 pounds ground turkey
Salt and Freshly ground pepper to taste
Canola oil for pan frying

Kaiser Hamburger buns
Cooked bacon slices (optional)
Baby Swiss Cheese slices
Tomato slices
Remoulade sauce

Preheat oven to 372 degrees F.

Mix all the ingredients well and make into 5-6 oz patties. Heat a non-stick frying pan almost to smoking point, put a tablespoon of canola oil, and sear the patties, pressing down lightly with a spatula. Transfer patties to a jelly roll pan and finish cooking in oven for 8-10 minutes. Top with Swiss and melt the cheese for 1-2 minutes. Serve on a hearty Kaiser roll with your favorite garnishing.


Shrimp, Sausage, and Chicken Gumbo

Combination of shrimp, sausage, and chicken is irresistible. Rich homemade chicken stock adds rich flavor. Perfect food while watching the Winter Olympic! Go teams USA and Korea!

Serves 20-25

1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all purpose flour
6 large onions, chopped (about 12 cups)
6 red bell peppers, seeded, chopped (about 7 cups)
8 celery stalks, chopped (about 3 cups)
16 garlic cloves, chopped
1-2 teaspoon, Chinese red chili sauce (to taste)
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chopped fresh thyme
6 bay leaves
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice
8 cups homemade broth (see previous post)
4 pounds smoked beef sausage, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
3 pounds chicken, diced, from the rotisserie chicken
Frozen Okra (Optional)

4 pounds peeled deveined medium shrimp
Minced fresh Italian parsley
Steamed rice

Heat oil in heavy 13-quart pot over medium-high heat until very hot and almost smoking. Add flour and stir constantly until mixture is dark reddish brown, about 5 minutes. Add chopped onions, chopped bell peppers, and chopped celery and cook until onions are soft and brown, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cayenne and stir 2 minutes. Add wine, thyme, and bay leaves; bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes with juice, clam juice, broth, sausage, and chicken; simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Do ahead Gumbo base can be made 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Bring base to simmer before continuing.

Add shrimp to pot and cook shrimp until just opaque in center, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Season gumbo to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with minced parsley and serve with steamed rice alongside.


Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette

Meals we prepare for Sunday night is mostly "kid-friendly" since half of the crowd are children under age of 18. However, we always serve a refreshing salad with a meal for adults.

1 cup chopped seeded plum tomatoes
1 cup (packed) coarsely chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup olive oil, extra-virgin

Romaine lettuce, chopped
Cherry Tomatoes
Cucumbers, sliced
Grated Parmesan
or any other garnishes

Blend first 7 ingredients and 1/2 cup oil in processor or blender. With machine running, add remaining 1/2 cup oil; process until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.

Toss the salad 5-10 minutes before serving.

This makes a great marinade for chicken, also.


Cooking Tip : Hard Boiled Eggs

How hard could it be to boil some eggs? I found out when I needed to make 200 deviled eggs for a Bar Mitzvah luncheon several years ago. Egg shells stuck and the yolks turned grey-ish that I did not have one smooth-skinned boiled egg after peeling! I ended up making mini-egg salad sandwiches instead, lots of them!

Here is a fool-proof was to ensure you have perfectly cooked eggs, every time.
1.Place eggs in a pan or a pot, in a single layer, cover with 1 inch of water, and bring to boil over high heat.

2.Remove pan from heat, cover, and set a timer on for 11 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill a medium bowl with 1 quart water and 1 tray of ice cubes (or equivalent). Transfer eggs to ice water bath; let sit 10 minutes.

3.After the eggs cool. Crack and drop in boiling water for just a couple of seconds, which will cause the shell to expand and allow for perfect removal. 


Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwich

Hot sandwiches are so welcoming on a cold day. My children love these sandwiches, which can be made with ham, turkey, roast beef, with any desired toppings and cheeses.

Have your favorite deli meat sliced very thinly.

Crusty scali roll, topped with Swiss cheese, grated Parmesan, blanches asparagus, remoulade sauce (see previous post) and dash of paprika.

Broil until cheese is melted and a few black charred specks appear.

6 Scali Rolls or any crusty rolls
1 1/2 pound of thinly sliced deli meat
6 slices of Swiss or your favorite cheese
Parmesan cheese
Remoulade sauce (see previous post)

Optional: Blanched asparagus, thinly sliced onions, or other veggies

Preheat oven on broil.

On a baking sheet spread one side of each slice of toast with half the remoulade mixture, top each roll with slices of the ham, the other half with Swiss cheese, asparagus. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and drizzle extra remoulade sauce. Broil the sandwiches under a preheated broiler about 4 inches from the heat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and browned lightly.


Shrimp Salad with Spicy Remoulade

Cold, savory shrimp salad is always refreshing. Easy make-ahead recipe which can be served on a croissant or on top of salad.

Quick saute on hot griddle seals in flavor. Sprinkle on some all-purpose dry rub (see previous post) and add some minced shallots and celery for added crunch and flavor.

1 lb of cooked, peeled medium shrimp, saute with 1/4 cup of shallots and celery each.

Remoulade sauce

1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
3 tablespoons drained prepared white horseradish
2 tablespoon minced capers
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust to your taste)

Mix in remoulade and hot, cooked shrimp. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.


Quiche : Ham and Asparagus

Don't you just love a good quiche? This was well loved by the crowd at lunch today. The key to creamy, soft quiche is not over baking in the oven.

Using french rolling pin gives you a better control when making pie crust.

Use your thumb and forefinger to gently press design on the edge.

Sprinkle cheese, meat, and asparagus on a warm, baked crust.

Take quiche out of the oven when it is SLIGHTLY jiggly, like jello. The egg will continue to cook out of the oven.

8 ounces bacon (about 8 slices) cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 oz finely chopped ham
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

4 ounces Gruyère or Swiss cheese , grated (1/2 cup)
1 oz parmesan, grated
1 oz sharp cheddar, grated
6-8 blanched asparagus
1 9- inch partially baked pie shell (warm), baked until light golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes, see related recipe

1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Fry bacon in skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towel–lined plate. Meanwhile, whisk all remaining ingredients except cheese in medium bowl.

2. Spread cheese, ham, bacon, and blanched asparagus evenly over bottom of warm pie shell and set shell on oven rack. Pour in custard mixture to 1/2-inch below crust rim. Bake until lightly golden brown and a knife blade inserted about one inch from the edge comes out clean, and center feels set but soft like gelatin, 32 to 35 minutes. Transfer quiche to rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Pie Crust Makes 1 8-9 inch crust
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
11 tablespoons unsalted butter , cold, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
7 tablespoons vegetable shortening , chilled
4 - 5 tablespoons ice water

1. Mix flour, salt and sugar in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat butter with some flour. cut butter into flour with five 1-second pulses. Add shortening and continue cutting in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal with butter bits no larger than small peas, about four more 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more ice water if dough will not come together. Shape dough into two balls with your hands, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten into 4-inch-wide disks. Dust lightly with flour, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling.


Pork Loin with Pesto Crust

This was served for Sunday Night Valentines Day Dinner; my daughter's favorite pork dish. Original recipe uses beef tenderloin, which is superb with pesto crust, but since one cannot feed 300 people such expensive meat, I changed it to pork loin and it works great!

Trim most of the fat and silver skin off the loin. Rub salt, sugar, and pepper mixture well. Bring meat to room temperature before roasting.

After roasting 20 minutes in high heat, rub pesto on.

Then, cheese and bread crumb mixture.

Back into oven until internal temperature reaches about 135-140 degrees. Tent meat with foil and let rest for at least 20-30 minutes before slicing.

Serves 12 to 16
1 whole pork loin(5 to 6 pounds), trimmed and patted dry
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons sugar

2 slices white sandwich bread , torn into pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves , plus 2 tablespoons
1 1/4 cups Grated Parmesan cheese
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced

1. Tuck tail of loin under and tie roast. Combine 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon pepper, and sugar in small bowl and rub all over pork loin. Transfer loin to wire rack set on rimmed baking sheet and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.

2. Meanwhile, pulse bread in food processor to fine crumbs. Transfer bread crumbs to medium bowl and toss in 2 tablespoons parsley, 2 teaspoons thyme, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and 2 tablespoons oil until evenly combined. Wipe out food processor and process remaining 6 tablespoons parsley, 2 tablespoons thyme, 3/4 cup cheese, 4 tablespoons oil, and garlic until smooth paste forms. Transfer herb paste to small bowl.

3. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Roast loin 20 minutes and remove from oven. Coat loin with herb paste followed by bread-crumb topping (see photos). Roast until thickest part of meat registers about 135-140 degrees and topping is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. (If topping browns before meat reaches preferred internal temperature, lightly cover with foil for balance of roasting time and remove while roast rests.) Let roast rest, for 30 minutes on wire rack. Transfer to cutting board and carve. Serve.

Note: Everything can be prepped up to two days in advance, proceed with step 3


Korean Beef-Bul Go Gi

My mother bought 8 pounds of sliced rib eye and made this fantastic dish for 12 hungry teenagers and chaperons when we were in Atlanta for Teen Pact conference. It was a huge hit! Here is the recipe you requested, Celesta!

The key to a good Korean Beef dish is the meat you purchase. THINLY sliced rib eye is sold in Korean/Asian markets. If not, you will need to flash freeze the meat first so that you can slice it very thinly.

Marinade recipe for 2 pounds of meat (serves 6)
* 1/2 cup soy sauce
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup coke (tenderizes the meat)
* 3 tablespoons of rice wine or sherry (optional)
* 2 tablespoons sesame oil
* 8 cloves garlic, minced
* 4 scallions (green onions), minced
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until the sugar has dissolved. Thaw meat completely and combine marinade into meat. Use your hand to incorporate mixture well. Set aside for 15-20 minutes.

Using largest non-stick frying pan, pre-heat pan until smoking point. No oil needed. Put small handful of meat and flash saute the meat in batches, small specks of uncooked meat is fine since the meat will continue to cook. Quick hot heat is best.

Do not put too much meat on pan where it will steam! The meat will cook too long and will become very chewy.

Note: If you want to add veggies as shown in photo, saute them separately and then add to the meat later before serving.


Freezer Meaty Lasagna

Here is a wonderful Freezer Meaty Lasagna recipe. Whenever I go on a vacation or a mission trip and cannot prep for Sunday meal, I make these ahead and freeze.

If you able to find Ronzoni No Boil lasagna noodles, the ones with little ripples, not the flat sheet, they are the best ones to assemble and freeze. Other brands of no boil pasta sheets are too thick and gummy after baked. I use these disposable half pans when freezing for easy clean up later. Lasagna is baked frozen, do not thaw ahead. Put hot water between pans before baking for even temperature to avoid over baking on the sides.

Bake with foil cover off until you see little dark specks of cooked cheese, then cover with foil and finish baking. This extra step will ensure that foil will not stick to top layer of mozzarella resulting in a beautiful top.

Freezer Meaty Lasagna

Tomato Meat Sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion , chopped fine
6 cloves garlic , minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 pound ground beef chuck (85 percent lean)
1/2 pound ground pork
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
1 can diced tomatoes (28 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Ricotta, Mozzarella, and Pasta Layers
1 3/4 cups whole-milk ricotta
1 1/4 cups Grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 large eggs , lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 no-boil lasagna noodles (from one 8- or 9-ounce package, Ronzoni brand
5 cups shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese

1. For the sauce: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering, about 2 minutes. Add onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Increase heat to medium-high, add ground meats, salt, and pepper, and cook, breaking meat into small pieces, until meat is no longer pink but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add cream and simmer until liquid evaporates and only fat remains, about 4 minutes. Stir in tomato puree, diced tomatoes, and basil and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer until flavors blend, about 3 minutes. Remove pot from heat, cool sauce for 20 minutes, then refrigerate until cool, at least 20 minutes.

2. For the pasta layers: Mix ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, basil, eggs, salt, and pepper in bowl. Spread 1/4 cup meat sauce over bottom of 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Place 3 noodles crosswise on top of sauce, evenly space 9 tablespoons ricotta mixture over noodles, and sprinkle evenly with 1 1/4 cups mozzarella; spoon 1 1/2 cups sauce over cheese. Repeat layering of noodles, ricotta mixture, mozzarella, and sauce two more times. Place 3 remaining noodles on top and spread with remaining sauce. Cover with remaining 1 1/4 cups mozzarella and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.

3. Spray large sheet of aluminum foil with nonstick cooking spray and tightly cover lasagna. Wrap with plastic wrap several times and cover with another layer of foil. Freeze.

4. When ready to serve: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove all wrapping except foil layer that is flush against lasagna. Put another pan with hot water in between two pans. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes, then remove foil. Continue baking until cheese is spotty brown and sauce is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let lasagna cool for 15 minutes. Serve.