Lesson 55, An easy and elegant Wedding Cake

You know how sometimes your on a tight budget, and you just can’t afford a $500 wedding cake?  I was asked by a young couple if I would make, and decorate a wedding cake for them.  Now I knew that they weren’t going to be able to afford a big cake, nor do I have much cake decorating experience.  But i took the challenge and put on my thinking cap.

First, I asked what kind of cake they wanted.  The bride’s father was going to attend and she wanted to please him.  His favorite cake was red-velvet.  So I made a red velvet cake.  And why, my hungry followers and friends, would I be telling you all this?  Because I’m going to give you the recipe and techniques for making a beautiful cake that a twelve year old can make. And I’ve got pictures of the completed cakes.

Are you ready Frank, Alice, how about you in the back, Kim isn’t it.  Ok.  Let’s make a cake.

Tools: Platters 10 inch, round springform pan, 8 inch springform pan, , and sheet cake pan, icing spatula, wire balloon   whisk, or electric mixer, mixing bowl, oven.

Red Velvet Cake Ingredients:

2 cup soft, real butter
6 cups white sugar
12 eggs
6 tablespoons unsweetened, undutched cocoa powder
6 cups all-purpose flour

2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoon white vinegar

4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
24 ounces white chocolate
2 cup butter, softened

Decorations: Edible Flowers of varying colors and varieties, such as grape hyancinth, roses, clover, carnations, pansies, etc.  Do a bit of on line research for a wealth of information on edible flowers.

Grease your pans with butter.  Preheat oven to 350’F.

Combine the sugar and butter together until smooth. Add the eggs and buttermilk and whisk together.  Mix in the flour, salt, and baking soda and cocoa powder.  Lastly, whisk in the vinegar.  Keep whisking until the batter is smooth and lump free.

Gently pour the batter into the springform pans until 2/3’s full.    Pour the remaining batter into the sheet pan.  Place the pans in the center of the oven and bake for 40 minutes.  Test with a clean butter knife by inserting the knife into the cake, and pulling it out.  If the knnife comes out clean, the cake is done.  Remove from the oven.

While the cakes are baking, combine all of the icing ingredients into a large bowl and blend together until silky smooth.

Remove the larger cake and place it onto your cake stand.  Cut the top flat with a sharp, long knife.  REmove the smaller round cake and place the bottom of that cake on top of the first round cake.  Leave the dome. Spread the frosting evenly all over the cakes.  Now, when you are satisfied that it’s all smooth and pretty, decorate with the flowers.

Here’s what mine looked like, and the bride and groom were thrilled with both the look and quality of the cake, and icing.  you can do this.  You know you can..

DSCF0093DSCF0092 DSCF0095 DSCF0108

May your hot things be hot, your cold things be cold, and your cheddar be served at room temperature.

“No success can justify failure within the home.” David O McKay

Until we meet again, I hope you enjoyed this lesson.


Lesson 54 How to Properly Dress Your Bread

I know, odd title.  But it’s an accurate question.  How do you dress your bread?  Do you smear some good peanut butter on top?  Maybe you like it just with butter, or maybe butter, then  sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar.  I love a good slice of toast with butter and raspberry jelly.  You can even drip the bread in an egg and milk mixture and make French Toast.  There are thousands of ways to dress your bread.

In this lesson, I’m going to give you thee recipes, using the humble egg, and that wonderful bread from two lessons back, to create dishes worthy of royalty, but simple enough to serve to your best buddy after fishing a trout stream.  You could even serve then to your boss.

What’s that Hank, your boss is your wife?  That’s perfect.  Serve her any of these for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner and maybe she’ll give you a raise!

And just sos ya knows what your getting into, I’m posting pictures, unretouched of course, with each recipe.  Follow the recipes, and your results will look just like mine.

Are you ready Steve, Alice, Bartholemew, then let’s crack some eggs.

Basted Eggs:

Class, this particular fried egg technique is tasty indeed, with bacon, and hot-buttered toast.  Now there are some restaurants that will offer you basted eggs.  You get them and they’re rubbery, with half hard egg yolks.  What they do is to put a little oil on the flat-top grill, break the eggs on top, let sizzle for a minutes or so, then squirt some water next to the eggs, and cover with a lid.  Let me tell you, that’s not a basted egg.  It’s an overcooked, steamed egg,  not how I roll, if you know what I mean.

This is a picture of my basted eggs: Basted Egg4

What you’re going to need:

Tools: 1 heavy frying pan, 1 egg turner (spatula), toaster. Salt shaker, pepper shaker, pastry brush, or butter knife.

Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                   3 strips good bacon per person (streaky bacon for my Canadian Freinds)                           2 eggs per person                                                                                                                     1 slice potato bread, toasted and buttered                                                                               Salt & Pepper

Get the pan hot over medium high setting.  When it’s hot, carefully place the bacon stips into the pan.  This is easier, and more safe if you use tongs to handle the bacon.  Fry the bacon until it begins to shrink.  Flip it over and fry until it browns to your liking.  Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.

There should be a significant pool of bacon fat in the pan.  Break two eggs into a small bowl and carefull pour the eggs from the cup into the hot fat.  It would be a good idea to wear long sleeves to avoid splashing yourself with hot oil.  I can tell you from experience, it might make you shout – oopey-dupey if the hot oil hits your skin.

Use the flat end of your egg turner to gently splash oil over top of the eggs two times.  Season with salt and pepper.  Continue to baste the eggs with the hot bacon fat until the membrane covering the yolk turns pink and the egg white is set.  Serve with the bacon, and hot, buttered toast.  That toast is just made for dunking, or dipping into that yummy yolk.  Now that’s a basted egg.

P.S. you can do the same thing, only with the melted fat from cooked sausage.  And about that whole cholesterol thing, pork fat (from bacon or breakfast sausage) has less cholesterol than does butter.

Recipe number two, Poached Eggs

I know what you’re thinking.  I can see it in your faces.  “I had poached eggs as a kid, at the hospital after they pulled my tonsils.  Those things were absolutely gross.

I have to agree with you.  I got them when they pulled my adenoids.  The eggs were bland, rubbery, and not good at all.  If I recall, the whites weren’t a hundred percent cooked either.  So why am I giving you a recipe for poached eggs?  Jerry, I’m glad you asked that question.  Cooked properly, poached eggs are sublime.  Wait, here’s a picture:

Water Poched Egg 5

Now tell my you wouldn’t dig into that.

Let me tell you a secret, but you have to keep it to yourself.  Those eggs are easy to make.  Now don’t tell anyone else.  Everyone things that poached eggs are impossible.  they break into a hundred pieces while the water is boiling, and you end up with this mess of soggy egg bits in cloudy water.  Now I heard of various techniques for making the perfect poached egg.  So I looked them up on-line, the funnel egg, the egg cooked in boiling water to which vinegar was added, etc.  I tried them all, and got that cloudy water egg with each.  Then I thought about how and egg reacts to heat.  I realized that boiling was just plain wrong.  You see, water boils at 212 degrees F. or so.  The egg white starts setting at 180′ F.  Why put the eggs in boiling water, which is just violent enough to tear them apart.

Then I thought about how bland poached eggs that I’d had were.  I realized that they were bland because they were unseasoned.  So I added salt to the water.

Now you know something of why so many people fail at making good poached eggs.  Here’s how to do them right.

Tools: 1 quart saucepan, slotted spoon.

Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                   2 large eggs per person                                                                                                           1 tbs. salt                                                                                                                                   1/2 tsp. butter                                                                                                                           2 cups cold water

Spread butter all over the bottom of your saucepan.  Add the water and salt (you can add pepper if you want too).  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  When the water just starts bubbling, turn the heat back to simmer and let the water become still.  Break the eggs into a small bowl.  Then, gently pour the eggs from the bowl into the water.  Let them just sink.  Leave them alone for about three minutes.  Then, gently move them with the slotted spoon, sliding the spoon edge underneath the eggs to make sure they’re not sticking to the pan bottom.  Look at them as you gently move them.  You can see if the white has firmed up enough, as it won’t look like the lava in a lava lamp anymore.  It will hold its shape.  If they aren’t done yet, continue to check them about once a minute until they are done.  Remove them with the slotted spoon and place onto hot, toasted, buttered potato bread.  Serve something good on the side.

If you put a slice of gently fried ham onto one half of a toasted, buttered English Muffin, put a poached egg on top of the ham, and cover it all with Hollandaise sauce, then you have Eggs Benedict.  Either way, it’s elegant, tastes amazing, and is so easy to make.

Egg & Toast Recipe #3 – Poached Eggs.

Now wait, didn’t we just make poached eggs?  Yes we did.  But we will use a very specialized pan for these poached eggs.  You can get an egg poaching pan, either on line, or from most stores that sell good pots and pans.  And the pan isn’t expensive.

I know, you don’t like to have tools that aren’t multi-tasking in your kitchen.  Neither do I.  But I have soft spot in my heart for these eggs.  My Grandpa used to make them for me, along with a plate of pancakes, every time I stayed at his home, on weekends.  The eggs are also so very tasty, it’s almost ridiculous how good they are.

Here’a a picture of these beauties.Poached Egg 4

Look at how perfectly round they are.  These eggs are lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, and cooked gently in butter and steam.  Oh yeh, they are amazing.

Tools: Egg poaching pan (comes with four or six non-stick egg cup inserts).

Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                  2 large eggs per person                                                                                                            1 tsp. butter per egg cup                                                                                                          2 cups water

Add the two cups of water to the pan, and place over medium heat.  Bring the water to a boil.  Butter each egg cup to be used.  Fill unused egg cups with water.  Place the tray with the egg cups into the pan.  Crack an egg into each egg cup.  Cover.  After the eggs have been coking for three minutes, remove the lid and gently giggle the egg cups.  You will be able to see of the egg white is completely set.  If they are done, remove and place on top of the buttered potato bread.  If not, cook another thierty seconds with the lid on, then check them again.

For whatever reason, I like these eggs with breakfast sausage links.  I dip the links into the yolk.  A 2nd slice of toasted potato bread with butter and your favorite fruit jam, or preserves really completes this dish.  Oh, and please pass the ice-cold milk.

I have recipes for perfectly, fluffy, moist and delicious scrambled eggs, They aren’t quite elegant enough for this lesson.  And remember those first poached eggs, try putting them on top of lightly seasoned pasta, or a good beef steak.  It takes that humble egg to a whole different level.  But I still like them best on that yeasty goodness that is potato bread especially toasted.

May your hot things be hot, you cold things be cold, and your cheddar be served at room temperature.

“No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”


Lesson 53, How to Turn Bread Into Amazing Things

That recipe I gave you for Lesson 52 was originally a pastry dough, as I’ve already said.  Can anyone here think of something else that could be made with the basic recipe?

Ok Janet, you first.  What’s that?  Oh, Eclairs.  Well, no.  Eclairs are made from choux paste.

Ralph?  Doughnuts.  That’s good Ralph, but we already said that in the last lesson.

Katrina.  Cinnamon Rolls, now that’s something I can sink my teeth into.  So let’s go with cinnamon rolls.  First, I have to ask you; what is it you love about cinnamon rolls?  Is it the ooey-gooey texture; is it the cinnamon flavor, is it the pecan, or walnut pieces, the glaze, the pastry itself?  What is the best part of the cinnamon roll?

Cinnamon, glad you want to share.  You say that the best part is the whole thing, and that I forgot the raisins?  I have to agree.  I love all of the separate parts that make up a great cinnamon roll.  But put them together and it all becomes a magical ballet of flavors, dancing Swan Lake across your tongue.  Wait, that’s not a good image.  I don’t want any dancer’s feet on my tongue, thank you very much.  I’d rather have that cinnamon roll tickling my taste buds.  So, let’s make this.

Tools: large mixing bowl (you’ll want lots of these), Wooden spoon, Measuring Cups, Measuring Spoons, Rolling Pin, Sharp Knife, Large Work Surface, Salt Shaker filled with Cinnamon, Small Saute pan, oven.

Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                  1 recipe Potato Bread                                                                                                              1 cup real butter, melted                                                                                                            1 cup brown sugar                                                                                                                    1 cinnamon shaker                                                                                                                    3/4 cup raisins                                                                                                                          1 cup chopped pecans, or walnuts                                                                                          1 cup milk                                                                                                                                  1 cup powdered sugar                                                                                                              1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatine

Place raisins into a small sauce pan with just enough water to cover.  Bring to a gentle boil.  Simmer raisins for 1 minutes.  Drain and remove from the pan.

Liberally sprinkle all purpose flour on your work surface.  Roll the dough until it’s as thick as three, stacked, flour tortillas.  Melt half of the butter and spread all over the dough.  Sprinkle the dough evenly with the brown sugar.  Sprinkle the raisins and nuts evenly over the surface.  Now it gets tricky.  Roll the dough with the filling inside.  Dip the knife in water, and cut the dough sideways into half-inch thick pinwheels.  Place the pinwheels into a greased baking pan and cover with a clean linen towel.  Place in a warm area and let rise for a half hour.  Twenty minutes into the rise, preheat oven to 350′ F.  while the oven is heating, combine the milk, the remaining butter, the gelatine, and the powdered sugar into a sauce pan.  Heat until the milk just starts to simmer, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat and let it cool.

Remove the cloth from the cinnamon rolls and spoon the glaze all over the top of the cinnamon rolls.  Place into the oven and bake for twenty minutes.  When the aroma of baked cinnamon rolls fills your house, they are probably done.  Check them.  They should be golden brown on top, and firm, yet tender.

Here’s the most difficult part, let them cool enough before eating so that you don’t burn your lips, tongue, or any other part of your mouth.  And I warn you, after making these, you might find that you are more popular than you want to be.  Just sayin’.

May your hot things be hot, your cold things be cold, and your cheddar be served at room temperature.

And remember this quote; “There is no success outside the home that can compensate for failure within.”


Lesson 52, Man Does Not Live By Bread Alone, But He Might Want To

I have written my thoughts, and appreciation for the potato-doughnut recipe in previous posts on a cooking website known as DiscussCooking.com. Last night, I was in the mood to make some bread. I have several good recipes for white, wheat, and multi-grain breads, all of which give me great results (especially since I now, usually add vital wheat gluten to the flour mixture). But instead of using one of my bread recipes, I decided to use the potato-dounut recipe, with a few tips I learned from paying attention to those who know how to bake bread. For those who don’t know, potato-doughnuts are a yeast-raised doughnut that incorporates mashed potatoes in the pastry dough.  The doughnuts are amazingly tender, and light, and absolutely scrumptious.  I’ve used the dough to make dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, and scones (yeast raised frybread).  Last night, for the first time, I put the dough into loaf pans and made bread.  And what bread it is.

The resulting bread was possible the best I’ve ever made. It is airy, light, moist, with a great yeasty, mildly sweet flavor that works perfectly with savory and sweet, such as gravies, or fruit jams.

Of course when it came out of the oven, DW (that’s dear wife) and I both had a slice of warm bread with butter. It came out so good that with the first bite, my eyes rolled upward with that overwhelming sensation of something rare and wonderful. This morning, I made a piece of thick toast with it, spread on butter, then strawberry freezer jam. No eye rolls this time, as I knew what to expect. Instead, I ate it slowly, to make every bite tickle my senses as long as possible. For me at least, this was the perfect piece of toast.

Now I’m not bragging, as I certainly didn’t creat the recipe. I’ve just used it in ways unique. It was originally a yeast-raised doughnut recipe. I’ve discovered that it is much more. And so, I give it to you. This recipe will make two loaves, with enough leftover to fry up some scones. Or, you can just make three loaves. I wanted three loaves. DW wanted some scones. I made two loaves with dough left over for a scones breakfast.

Here’s the recipe, so you can enjoy this wonderful bread. I’m thinking that you could make really great English Muffins with it as well.

[B]Potato Bread:[/B]


1 lb potatoes (about 3 medium russets)
2 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 Large eggs
1 tbs. salt
1/2 cup cooking oil
8 cups all-purpose flour

Microwave, or boil potatoes until cooked through. Peel and mash until lump free. While the spuds a cooking, Heat the milk and sugar to a temperature of 110′ F. Stir in the yeast until dissolved. Let sit until a head of froth develops on top. Beat in the eggs, salt, and cooking oil.

Add the mashed potatoes to the milk mixture and stir until all is creamy. Add the flour. Knead for ten minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place in a 110′ oven, with a pan of boiling water and let rise until doubled is size (about 20 minutes). Punch the dough down and fill buttered bread pans 2/3rds full of dough. Place the remainder of the dough in a zipper-freezer bag and place in your fridge for tomorrow’s scones.

When the dough as again doubled, remove the pans from the oven and heat the oven to 375′ F. Leave the pan of water in the oven. Place the loaf pans in, on the center shelf position, and bake for 30 minutes. When the crust is golden brown, lightly thump the bread with your knuckles. If it sounds somewhat hollow, it’s done. Remove from the oven, and let cool for ten minutes. Remove the bread from the pans and let cool before bagging them.  And there you have it, one of the best breads you’re gonna eat. Enjoy.

May your warm things be warm, your cold things be cold, and your cheddar be served at room temperature.

“No success outside the home can compensate for failure withing the home.”

From the Kitchen’s of G.W. North

Lesson 51, More About Umami

I give to you a couple of great recipes today.  Each screams Umami, so be ready to put in your ear plugs.

The first recipe is one that many of you probably know and love, the humble pot roast.  So what’s that Elvis, how does pot roast scream umami?  You know that brown crust on the outside of a good roast, a little salty, a lot meaty, just mouth-wateringly intense?  That browned-meaty flavor is umami.  If you think about the flavor, you will notice that it marries well with mushrooms, soy sauce, pepper, and so many other great flavors.  It is the base flavor that you build on to make that chunk of meat a meal. Ok, so how do we get it; and how to we build upon it?  Jimmy, hold onto your chair cause we’re going for a culinary ride.

Techniques: Chopping, slicing, searing, braising.

Tools: Chef’s Knife, heavy pan (cast iron skillet is my favorite for this), dutch oven, or roasting pan.


3 lb. chunk of beef, i.e. rump roast, tri-tip, English roast, chuck roast, London Broil, etc.

1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and sliced

5 medium russet potatoes, cut into 6 chunks each

1/4 cup fresh green peas (or frozen)

3 tbs, all purpose flour

3 tbs. butter


3 cloves garlic

1 tsp. black pepper corns

3 tbs. beef tallow, bacon grease, or cooking oil (this is all known as fat)

Preheat oven to 325′ F.  Heat the skillet over medium-high heat on your stove top.  Add fat to the skillet/pan, not the butter).  Salt all sides of the beef.  When you can start to smell the hot fat, place the meat into the pan.  Cook for about 4 minutes per side until all sides are medium to dark brown.  While the meat is browning, add two tbs. cooking oil to the bottom of the roasting pan.  Place the remaining ingredients, except the butter and flour, into the roasting pan. When the meat is browned on all sides, place on top of the veggies, cover with a lid, and place into the oven.  Let cook for 2 hrs.

About ten minutes before the roast is done, add the butter to the frying pan used for browning the meat.  Melt over medium heat, then add the flour.  Stir until well combined.  Keep stirring until the flour turns medium brown in color. This is called a roux.  By this time, the roast should be ready to come out of the oven.

Carefully remove the cooking vessel from the oven, and tilting up and away from you, remove the lid.  Use a roasting fork and a large, slotted spoon to remove the roast to a platter, with all of the veggies around it.  Ladle the pot juices into the pan with the roux, stirring to make a smooth gravy.  Pour the gravy into a serving vessel andy you are ready to serve a meal that everyone will love.

Oh, and call me when you make this.  I’ll be right over with a knife and fork.

All of the ingredients in the pot roast work together.  The sweetness of the carrots and peas, and onion, the wholesome flavor of the potato (I hope you didn’t remove the skins), and the salt and pepper, all combine to make your tongue dance a little, happy jig, and warm your belly with pure comfort.  My favorite beverage with this meal is milk.  It’s sweetness balances the wonderfully umami and salty flavors of the meal.  Enjoy.

2nd recipe; Sausage Soup

For this recipe, I used ground pork breakfast sausage, but you can substitute with Kielbasa, Bratwurst, Dinner Sausage, or just about any sausage you like, even Chorizo.

Technique: Simmer

Tools: Chef’s Knife, Pot, Stirring Spoon, Soup Pot


1 lb. of your favorite sausage

1 small onion, diced

2 dried cayenne peppers (optional)

1 fresh tomato, diced

1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup frozen peas

2 tbs. Soy Sauce

Brown the sausage in the soup pot.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Cover with water.  Simmer over low heat, covered, for 45 minutes.  Serve with buttered French Bread.

It’s as simple as that.  Again, the soy sauce and sausage flavor combine to give the broth that special umami flavor that belnds with the other ingredients so well.

I think you get the idea.  There are some many things you can make when you recognize and concentrate on umami, the fifth flavor sense, everything from pasties, to meat pies, to perfect steak, chops, burgers, soups, roasts, sauces, gravies, fish dishes, etc.  You just have to remember to balance a little sweet, and sometimes sour to balance the flavors.  Now, go and explore the wonderful world of umami.  Create some reci[pes of your own.  Report back to me next Tuesday, and bring the teacher (that would be me, a bright and shiny apple).

From the kitchen of G.W North

May your warm things be warm, your hot things be hot, and your cheddar be at room temperature.

“No other success can compensate for failure within the home.” – David O McKay

G.W.’s Good Grub, Lesson 50, Umami Continued

I have for you, my friends, another soup that uses umami to add robust and exiting flavor to your cooking.  This soup is far different that the last one in that it is hearty enough to be a meal.  It’ll warm your belly on a cold day, and make you feel all cozy.  You’ll think the world has just been made a better place.

What’s that Frank?  You say you ate so much canned soup as a boy that you really don’t care for soup any more?  Well believe me, this soup is nothing like the canned varieties you ate as a child, or even what today’s canned offerings give you.  You’re going to like this soup.  In fact, if you make it, that wife of yours just might want to snuggle up on the couch with you, and watch a hockey game.  Now that takes some good soup.

Now, let’s get cooking.

Tools: 3 quart pot, sharp chef’s knife, cutting board, large cooking spoon.


On Saturday, I started thinking about what I could throw together for lunches I could just throw into the microwave at work. I thought to myself that a good soup was in order. I looked in the refrigerator for possible leftover candidates. A couple of days back, we had a cheaper cut of beef steak. As my wife won’t doesn’t care for the gristle and fat, I had cut that portion off of the steaks and placed it into the freezer for a future soup. The week before, we had pork chops, with one chop left over, clearly not enough for a meal for my wife and myself. I found some cooked green beans, and cooked cauliflower that we’d had a couple days back. I knew that I had what I needed for some great soup. Here’s what I made.
1 pork chop, with the bone
¼ cup fresh cauliflower
1/4 pound chuck steak, or sirloin, cut into half-inch cubes.  Don’t discard the fat or gristle.
2 carrots peeled and sliced into thin rounds
½ cup fresh green beans
¼ cup sauteed mushrooms
1@ onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed, peeled, and chopped
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. coarse ground black pepper
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. bacon fat
3 cups water

Cut the pork from the chop and cut into half-inch cubes. Cut the beef into small pieces. Peel and slice the fresh carrot.
Melt the bacon fat in a three quart saucepan. Add the pork and beef, and fry over medium heat until lightly browned. Add the remaining ingredients. Cover and gently boil (simmer) for 30 minutes. Serve hot with buttered bread.

May your hot things be hot, you cold things be cold, and your cheddar at room temperature.

G.W.’s Good Grub, Lesson 49 – Umami

It’s been a while since I’ve posted in my blog, good friends. It’s time we explore some new ideas, and 2015 is the time to start doing it. With that in mind, we’re going to explore the fifth flavor, Umami.

Umami is that meaty, earthy flavor that can’t be described by sweet, sour, bitter, or salt. When you think umami, you think of flavors like mushroom, meat, A1 sauce, soy sauce, MSG, ect. It adds flavor to sauces, veggies, pastries, pasta, chili, and so many other wonderful dishes. It’s not peculiar to any one style, or region of food, but can be found throughout the world, and in many food styles.

To get you started with umami, I give to you a recipe I developed that is both simple, and delicious. I call it, Umami Soup.

This wonderful, brothy soup can be eaten as an appetizer, or used as a base for sauces, gravies, stews, or pretty much to add flavor to most savory dishes. Try it as an appetizer for this lesson. Then, play with it. It’s a wonderful base for pho soups as well. We’ll get to those in a later lesson. You’ll love the idea. For now though, and for your pleasure, I give you (drum roll please Alice) Umami Soup.

Sauce pan
Sharp knife
Cutting board

3 cups water
2 tbs. cooking oil
3 tbs. soy sauce
1/8 tsp. (1/2 of a 1/4 tsp) ground ginger
8 0z fresh protabela mushrooms
1/4 tsp. salt

Heat oil in a sauce pan. Add the sliced mushrooms and salt. Saute over medium-high heat until half cooked. Add the remaining ingredients. Cook until the mushrooms are cooked through. Remove the mushrooms and use in another meal. They are still delicious and have great texture. Serve the broth hot, as an appetizer. Or, as I said above, you can use it as a soup base to which you can add strips of uncooked beef or pork, as at a pho restaurant. Add green onion, or sliced mushroom, whatever you want. The beauty of this broth is that it’s like a mother sauce for soups. Once made, you can make a hundred small soups, if I can use similar terminology to mother sauces.

From the Kitchen of G.W.North

G.W.’s Good Grub, Lesson 48 – The Perfect Turkey

With Thanksgiving coming up, I thought I’d take the time to give you everything I know about making the perfect turkey. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Turkey is dry. That’s just the way turkey is, especially the white meat”.

Turkey, when prepared and cooked properly, is tender, ridiculously juicy, and full flavored. Lt me repeat that;
Turkey, when prepared and cooked properly, is tender, ridiculously juicy, and full flavored.

What’s that Sharon? You say that to get a good turkey, you have to pay like $7 per pound, for a free range, original stock, organic bird? Naw. I get raves from my store brand, lost-leader, 49 cents a pound birds that they use to get you into the store to buy the rest of your meal ingredients. Really. I’m not even kidding. Whana see a picture? Here, let me show you.

Now I just think those tell the story.

So how do you get perfect turkey? Let me tell you. First, select the size bird you will need for your crew. a twenty to twenty-four pound bird will feed six adults, with a few children. A twelve pound bird will feed four adults.

Once the bird is selected, it will have to be thawed. Figure about three days in your fridge, or overnight in a cold water bath. When the bird is completely thawed, it’s time to get started. You will need a three-quart pot, a suitable roasting pan, with a rack, a turkey injector, salt, granulated garlic powder, sage, real butter, and black pepper (You can use olive oil instead of butter if you want). Your first step will be to remove the neck, liver, and giblets from the turkey cavity. They are usually packed in a paper pouch. Open the pouch and place the neck, and remaining items into your pot. Cover with water and place the pot over medium heat. Cover and let it come to a boil. Turn the heat to simmer and cook for forty minutes or so.

While the turkey innards are simmering, wash the turkey inside and out under cold, running water. Dry it inside and out with paper towels. Place the bird onto the rack, inside the roasting pan. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub the entire outside of the bird with butter. Sprinkle all sides with salt, sage, and black pepper. Add 2 cups of water to the roasting pan.

Remove the innards from the hot broth, and place into a bowl. Season the broth with salt, time, onion and garlic powder, and pepper. Add a little of each to the broth, and stir in. Let it simmer for a minute or so, then taste. Add more seasoning if required. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool for five minutes.

After washing the turkey injector with hot, soapy water, then rinsing it clean. place the pointed tip into the broth and draw the broth into the syringe by pulling the plunger most of the way out. The needle holes have to be submerged for this to work. Now, inject the broth into the turkey, all over. Just push the needle in, and inject in one spot, then another. Continue drawing broth into the syringe, and injecting into the turkey. Make sure to get the thighs, drumsticks, breasts, and wings. There shouldn’t be much broth left. Let the bird rest for five minutes or so.

Now, here’s the part we’ve been waiting for. Carefully lift the roasting pan, and place it and the bird into the oven. Close the door and just walk away. Let the turkey cook for about 13 minutes per pound. Don’t bast it. Don’t open the oven to look at it. Just let it cook.

What’s that Bill? You say your Grandma always basted her turkeys? Well that may be true. But think about this. You have skin all over your body, right. What’s that skin do for you? Think about it for just a moment.

Yes Rebecca, I know that your skin makes you just gorgeous. But that’s just a fringe benefit. It’s primary purpose is to keep anything outside your body from getting inside your body. I mean, think of all those nasty little microbes that are trying to get in you. And those sticks that poke you when you run through the woods, they’d make quite a mess if the skin didn’t protect you, now wouldn’t they. Well. turkey skin is no different. Basting liquids just run off. They don’t get through to flavor the meat. That’s why we injected the bird. All basting does is take some of the flavor particles from the developing turkey broth and deposit them on the skin surface, and cool down the oven when we open the oven door. We already flavored the skin with butter and seasonings. So leave the oven door closed. It will help the turkey cook faster, and help it retain more of its moisture.

Ok, times up. Open the oven door and insert an instant-read meat thermometer through the thickest part of the breast, until the tip is right next to, but not touching the thigh joint. It won’t have reached the 160 degree mark yet, but it should be getting close. Close the oven and check it again in ten to fifteen minutes. When the thermometer reads that magical 160′. remove the bird from the oven Now, again I say to you, walk away. Work on the rest of the meal. Don’t touch that bird for at least fifteen minutes, longer if it’s a large turkey.

So why don’t we want to carve it up yet? While it’s cooking, the juices ten to migrate toward the outside of the bird. Also, the outside meat is much hotter than is the inner meat. While it rests, the inner meat will continue to absorb that heat from the outer meat, until all of it is the same temperature. At the same time, those juices will distribute evenly through the whole bird.

Ok, the last secret to a perfect turkey, don’t carve it at the dining room table. Carve it up in the kitchen and place the meat elegantly onto a platter, with pretty garnish. This allows you to better portion the meat, so everyone gets tender, and juicy turkey.

Start by running a smooth edged, sharp knife along the side of the turkey back, to the thigh joint. Next, starting between the wing and thigh, slice between the thigh and the body, through the skin, and again to the joint. Bend the entire leg downward until you feel the thigh bone dislocate from the body. Use your knife to cut through the joint and remove the whole leg from the bird. Remove the wind in the same fashion. Now cut from the top middle of the breast, along the breast bone, downward, and along the ribs, until you remove the whole breast from the bird. And be careful. That meat is still hot. Now, lay the breast onto your cutting board, and slice sideways, making thin slices until the whole breast is cut up. Slide your knife under the length of the sliced breast, and lift it to the platter. Arrange the thigh and wings to the side of it. Repeat with the other side of the bird. Garnish with pretty green and orange veggies as you wish. It’s now ready to be served.

Now, before you present this show-stopping bird to your family and guests, go to the back of the bird. You will find little medallions of meat on either side of the back bone. Remove them and share them with your someone special, be it a favorite child, or your spouse, or whomever. Those two chunks of turkey meat are the choice pieces on the entire bird. But they’re only bite sized, and their are only two of them. They are your reward for the hard work and time you’ve put into this meal.

And there you have it. the perfect turkey. If you want to go a step further, do the same thing on the barbecue. Simply set the charcoal into two beds on either side of your rig, and place a disposable aluminum loaf pan in the middle. Fill the pan with 2 cups of water, and after the charcoal is hot, and covered with some good apple, maple, hickory, or mesquite wood, place the bird over the drip pan. Put the lid on, with all vents half closed, and cook for 12 minutes per pound. Again, remove the bird when the thermometer reads 160 degrees. I’m telling you right now, the smokey flavor, and juicy, tender meat, will absolutely make you a culinary hero. Those who partake of that bird will put you in the local hall of fame.

Now, everyone, go cook the best turkey you’ve ever eaten. And remember to give thanks for what you have. Until next time, eat well, eat healthy. And remember, “There is now success outside the home that can compensate for failure inside the home.


G.W.’s Good Grub, Lesson 47– Fruits & Vegetables, Stuffed Pumpkin & Roast Chicken Dinner

Wow! Just wow! What a busy summer it was. Visited my youngens, and grand-youngens, twice. Had to tend my veggie garden, do a little fishin’, and of course attend that necessary blessing/evil, the job. Couple that with cooking for pot-lucks, friends, and family, and you can begin to understand how I had so little time to put anything new in the blog.

But don’t despair; I’ve got a new laptop, and summer vacation is over. So class, get out your pens, pencils, erasers… Jim, Jim! Don’t you dare snap Beth’s braw-strap. And girls, if any one of our young men should snap your braw-strap, you have my permission to throw them in the river, even if there’s snow on the ground.

Now, where were we? Oh yes, today’s lesson, and it’s a good one. How may of you have eaten acorn squash. No, Linda, making that awful face won’t get you excused from class. And besides, you just might find you really like squash, when prepared right. What’s that? Your Mom always made hers by boiling and then mashing it with a ton of butter and brown sugar? Well if she added egg, evaported milk, cinamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger to it, and then baked it in a pie shell, there’s nothing wrong with that. But that’s not what we’re making. This pumpkin recipe takes the wonderful texture and flavor of roasted pumpkin, and matches it to the savory goodness of bread stuffing. And with those great flavors, we are going to add a succulent, juicy, and tender roast chicken. Now who wants some of that!

Oh, I see all of you have your hands up now. Very good. Wanna see what it looks like? Well read on my intrepid chefs-in the-making.

Acorn squash is a nutrient rich, and delicious member of the winter squash family. It is inexpensive, stores well in the pantry, and is versatile enough to be presented as a main course, a side dish, or as a desert. For this meal, we will use it as a side dish. Here’s what you’re gonna need:

1 3 to 4 lb. whole roasting chicken
1 large acorn squash, green, orange, or some combination of the two
1/2 cup salted butter, divided into two halves
Kosher salt
1 gallon of water
3 tbs. Powdered Thyme
3 cloves garlic
Black pepper
2 tsp. rubbed sage
2 tsp. paprika
3 tbs. granulated garlic powder
2 medium sized onions
4 slices stale bread
3 cups chicken broth
2 eggs
5 medium russet potatoes
3 strips bacon

Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees F.
In a three gallon soup pot, or two gallon zipper, freezer bag, mix 1 cup of salt into 1 gallon of water. Add the thyme and granulated garlic. Stir until the salt is dissolved.

Rinse and clean the chicken under cold running water. and place into the water, making sure the bird is completely submerged. Seal, and place into your refrigerator overnight. This is what it looks like:

Salty brine infuses the chicken with moisture and flavor.

Ok. Now that we have our bird brined overnight, and supper is in two hours, let’s get the rest of this meal made. Remember to get all of your ingredients together in the order in which they will be used.

Now that we have our ingredients, let’s prepare them. First, we’ll prepare the veggies. So peel and slice the potatoes (yes, that’s a giant potato, and I only needed one for the meal); then wash al slice the celery, cutting off and discarding the ends.

Remember, tuck in that thumb.

I like it!

Take those chopped and chunked veggies an put them into the roasting pot.

Now we take on the chicken. See that bacon in the above picture, you know, the one with the chicken and bacon in it. Cut that bacon across its width, into thin strips. Now we’re going to make thin slits downward, into the chicken breast, on both sides of the breastbone.

notice that I’m pushing those strips of bacon right into the slits. Those pieces of yummy bacon will make the meat more juicy, and give an unmistakeable smokey nuance to the chicken. Can you say yum? C’mon, let me hear it.
Stuff any leftover bacon under the skin, smoothing it as flat as possible.

Take those remaining herbs and combine the in a small bowl. Mix ’em up. Add a little salt, and fresh ground pepper to the mix. Ok, now rub the outside of the bird with butter 1/2 of the butter. And yes Tom, you have to use your hands. Take a pinch or two and sprinkle it all over the bird, top, sides, and bottom. Pour 2 cups of broth into the roasting pan, place the bird on a rack, and into the pan. Here’s what that looks like.

The bird is ready for the oven. Let’s get the squash prepared. First, cut off the top, and using a fork, scrape out all of the seeds and discard them (or make into pepitas).

Half of that broth has already been pored into the roasting pan for the chicken.
But isn’t that squash just gorgeous?

Take the bread, place each slice on top of each other and cut into cubes., on a clean cutting board of course, and cut into cubes. place the cubes, and one stalk of clean, sliced celery into a mixing bowl. Add chopped onion, sage, salt, black pepper, the eggs, and 1 cup of chicken broth, then stir until well combined.

Jack, how are we going to get the stuffing into the squash? What’s that? A little louder so the rest of the class can hear. Yes, that’s right. We’re going to stuff it in with the fork. Very good. Stuff it in so that it’s packed. It will expand as it cooks, but will come out of the hole a bit, brown, and look just yummy.

Mow that your squash is stuffed, place it pointy side down, in a ramekin dish, and cover loosely with foil. Place both the chicken, and the squash into the oven. Now, just walk away for about forty minutes. Play a game of darts or something.

Alright class. The forty minutes has passed. it’s tie to do what, Jim? That’s very good. We’re going to check the chicken temperature. so take your meat thermometer, the one that’s calibrated, and push the tip from the center of one side of the chicken breast, down next to the leg joint. What’s it read 145 degrees, well that’s not hot enough. Pop it back into the oven, with the door closed for another twenty minutes.

So now what’s it read? 165, time to take it out. Carefully remove the chicken from the pan, and set it onto your clean cutting sheet. Let it rest for about fifteen minutes or so. Take the squash out too, and set it aside. While it’s resting, remove the potatoes and celery from the pan and onto a 2 quart pot. Cover with broth from the pan, cover, and bring to a boil. Let it cook for the fifteen minutes that the chicken is resting.

Now, pour off that juice into a suitable bowl. Add the remaining butter to the spuds, along with a quarter cup of milk, and mash until silky smooth. Put the smashed spuds into a serving bowl and keep warm. Put the broth back into the pot that the potatoes were in. don’t worry about any left over potato in the pot. It will help thicken the gravy. Bring that to a low boil. While it is heating, in a cup, add two tbs of cornstarch to three tbs. of water. Stir until smooth. Slowly pour this slurry into the boiling broth, while stirring. When it has thickened, remove from the heat into a serving vessel.

Ok, carve that bird. Serve up portions of everything to everyone and enjoy with your favorite beverage.

When I sat down to eat, I also put a heaping helping of both the squash, and stuffing on my plate. It was all soooo good. I think I was stuffed after it was eaten. My wife said to me that this chicken was the juiciest, and most tender that she ever had eaten. Go ahead ask her.

To be absolutely truthfull, I have made roasted chicken that was as juicy, and as tender. But the brine, and bacon lardoons really added to the meat flavor. And that squash was the perfect accompaniment. I gave my wife the mashed potatoes, and ate only the squash and dressing. It was that good. And I do love good mashed potatoes.

In October, I’m going to show you how to treat your kids to their very own, yummy, edible jack-o-lanterns, that will taste a whole lot like pumpkin pie. Until then, eat well, eat healthy. And remember that wonderful quote; “There is no success outside the home that can compensate for failure withing the home.

From the Kitchen of G.W.North

G.W.’s Good Grub, Lesson 46– Fruits & Vegetables, Warm Chicken Casserole

Hey everyone, did ya miss me? I know I felt guilty for not posting more recipes and techniques. My life has been non-stop busy for the last month-and-a-half. I won’t go into everything I’ve been up to. Let’s just say that there were a few pot lucks in there, a veggie garden to prepare and plant, flowers to plant, spring cleaning, the job, a public playground to help build, church, wife, and staying in touch with my grown children and grandchildren, etc. But enough with the excuses. You don’t care about that.

For this lesson, we are going to combine fruit, protein, and veggies to make a delicious, warm casserole that is full of great flavors, each complimenting the other. The individual ingredients just don’t seem like they should be put together, but they do. Let me show you what we will be working with.

Canned Chicken & Grapes
We used a quality canned chicken product with large chunks of tender white meat. The grapes are seedless, wonderfully sweet, and cut in half lengthwise.

Yes Emma, you have a question? What’s that? you’ve never heard of eating chicken and grapes together, especially that nasty canned chicken.

Well, I remember a time when I was with my best freind, out in an ice shack, fishing through a 4 foot, by 2 foot hole sawed through 3 foot thick ice. The ice shack was toasty, but we weren’t having much luck catching any fish. As noon approached, I accidently kicked a can of chicken through the ice hole. Now, the water was only about 5 foot deep. My good freind yelped “That was our lunch, you idiot.” We were both older teens, and called each other names regularly. That’s just what guys do. Anyways, he said with a stern voice; “Go down there and get that can of chicken.” I told him he was crazy. I wasn’t going to jump into that hole for a lousy can of chicken. And then, my good freind, a guy who I normally thought was a fairly intelligent guy, dove into that icy water and retrieved that chicken. He made a great and noisy exit as he clamberd out of the hole, with some choice words for me. But you know what, the chicken still tasted terrible, though I nearly laughed myself silly at my buddy’s antics.

And, so why are we using canned chicken? Believe me, this stuff I’m using is well seasoned, tastes like chicken, is tender, cheap, and very convenient. It’s nothing like what was retrieved from a hole through the ice so many years ago. It just works in this recipe.

Oh, and when you drain the liquid from the can, save it. It makes a flavorful addition to chicken soup. It’s simply chicken broth.

So, on with the lesson. The sweetness of the grapes perfectly ballances the salty chicken. Trust me. It’s a match made in cullinary paradise.

What else in in there? After we’ve tossed the chicken and grape halves together, we will wash, slice, and add celery to the mix, again tossing lightly.

Next, we’ll be adding Our aioli. What’s an aioli? It’s a flavored mayonnaise. Everyone knows that (Ok, I didn’t know it until I learned it from the Food Network Channel several years back). Our aioli is a combination of good mayonaise, sour cream, and onion powder. It tastes similar to ranch dressing, but thicker and cleaner.

All mixed together

Now we carfully fold the aioli into the chicken mixture until all ingredients are evenly coated.

Bill! Put that spoon down. We’re not finished yet. But we’re getting there. Now, we will add the 2nd to the last ingredient, Colby/Jack Cheese.

Let’s fold all of that cheese into our casserole. Oh, don’t worry, Fred, it’ll all fit.

See Jill, it all fit. What’s that, it was Fred who said it wouldn’t fit? Are you sure? Ok then. Let that be a lesson to you. Pay attention and you won’t be confused next time.

We have but two more steps. We have to warm this delightful casserole, and then top with crushed potato chips.

Wait, hold the phone. My dear wife just commanded me, er, um, just suggested that I tell everyone that we prefer Lay’s brand Potato Chips for this dish, though we have tried several brands.

Ok Honey, I told them about using Lay’s spud chips. What’s that, you want a bowl of orange sherbert? But I’m in the middle of writing this. All right, but then you have to let me finish this.

I’m back. Now, where were we? Oh yeh, we have to gently warm this casserole, top with broken chips, and then warm it again before serving.

Really folks, it doesn’t get much easier than this. This casserole provides the goodness of fresh fruit and veggies, high quality, low fat protien (except for the cheese and mayo), and outstanding flavor. Here’s what the finished serving looks like:

Looks good enough to eat, doesn’t it. My dear wife adores this stuff. I’m pretty fond of it myself. And I know, that once you try it, you will love it too.

But remember what this blog is all about. Take this recipe, and learn from it. You now understand that sweet and savory go suprisingly well together. so try substituting canned Mandarin Oranges for the grapes, or cubes of freshly sauteed pork for the chicken. add finely chopped onion instead of onion powder. In short, play with it and make it your very own.

For our next lesson, we will make the humble potato into a work of art. Ever hear of cammel-back potatoes?

So until then, eat healthy, and eat well. And don’t forget that golden rule, “No Other Success Can Compensate for Failure in the Home”

G.W. North