Category Archives: The Chef’s Corner

THE CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOHN RUDY: BAKED APRICOT CHICKEN

BAKED APRICOT CHICKEN

For this recipe, I use large thighs, but they can be replaced with thick pieces of breast meat.  Also, although I prefer thigh meat as it does not dry out and usually cook it with bone and skin, you can also use boneless.  Serve with rice.  I first made this in 1970.

4                            Chicken thighs with bone and skin

½ cup                  Apricot preserves

1/2 cup              Wish Bone Russian or French Dressing

½ package          Lipton Dried Onion Soup Mix

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. In a medium bowl combine the jam, dressing and soup mix. Mix together.
  3. Place chicken pieces in an 8” x 8” baking dish. Pour apricot mixture over chicken and bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes.  The time will vary depending on bone or no bone, and with thigh or breast.  So it is best to start checking at 30 minutes.
  4. Broil (skin up) for a couple of minutes if you used pieces with skin
BOLLI “Matters” feature writer John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOHN RUDY: SHRIMP & CORN BISQUE

SHRIMP AND CORN BISQUE

from John Rudy

This is from the book Best of American-Traditional Regional Recipes.  I have no recollection of where or how I got this.  (I have increased the amount of shrimp and do not use the thyme.)  It serves four hungry people.

 

2 Tbsp      Olive oil

1                Onion minced

4 Tbsp      Butter

¼ cup       Flour

3 cups      Chicken stock (or other stock)

1 cup        Milk

1½ cup     Shrimp, peeled, cooked

1½ cups   Corn kernels (fresh, frozen canned)

½ tsp        Minced thyme (optional)

Salt

Pepper

Scallions (optional)

½ cup       Light cream

 

  1. Heat olive oil in a large heavy saucepan.  Add the onion and cook over low heat until softened ~10 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan.  Make roux by adding the flour and stirring with a wire whisk until blended.  Cook 1-2 minutes until it darkens.  Pour in the stock and milk and stir to blend.  Bring to boil over medium heat and cook 5-8 minutes stirring frequently.  NOTE: could use bouillon cubes to make the stock, but they tend to be very salty.  It is better to use a good boxed or canned stock.

3.  Cut each shrimp into 2 or 3 pieces and add to the onion along with the corn (and thyme).  Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove the pan from the heat.

4. Add the sauce mixture to the shrimp and corn mixture and mix well. Remove 3 cups of the soup and puree in a blender or food processor.  Return it to the rest of the soup in the pan and stir well.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Add the cream and stir to blend.  Heat the soup almost to boiling point, stirring frequently.  Serve hot.  Can add a full shrimp or two to the soup just before serving.  Optionally, cut up some scallions for garnish on the top of the soup.

BOLLI “Matters” feature writer John Rudy

John has been contributing recipes and tech hints to BOLLI Matters since this blog first got underway–he says his cooking inspiration came from his mother (who cooked vegetables in boil-able packages). He is also a  member of the Lunch & Learn or Distinguished Speaker Series committee and is always looking for suggestions for lunchtime speakers, so send ideas to 

john.rudy@alum.mit.edu or call at  781-861-0402.

FROM CHEF JOHN RUDY’S CORNER: GELATO

GELATO 

By John Rudy

In Sicily and Rome, you never see the words “ice cream.”  I don’t know why gelato has not totally caught on in the United States as most Americans who visit Italy fall in love with it.  We did an important study while on our trip to Sicily and Roma, and we rated the gelatos at about 8 difference places.  The best got a 9.5 on the “Mir Scale.”  The worst got a 7 (except for one at a hotel).

Good ice cream, as we all know, has a very high fat content.  The best ice cream is about 2:1 heavy cream to milk, plus egg yolks, and sugar, which is heated until the sugar dissolves.  It is then cooled and beaten (while kept cold) which introduces air (sometimes a lot) into the mix.

Gelato starts out with a similar custard base but has a higher proportion of whole milk and a lower proportion of both cream and eggs (or it may have no eggs at all).  Over-ripe fruit should be used for the best flavor.  The mixture is churned at a much slower rate, incorporating less air and leaving the gelato denser and smoother than ice cream.  Vanilla gelato contains about 90 calories and 3 grams of fat, compared to the 125 calories and 7 grams of fat in the average vanilla ice cream.

Gelato is served at a slightly warmer temperature than ice cream, so its texture stays silkier and softer; it remains dense, though, due to the lack of air.  Because it has a lower percentage of fat than ice cream, the main flavor ingredients really shine through.  PBS traveler Rick Steves says that gelato should not be stored for a long time–preferably, in fact, for only a day or two.  So eating a lot is emphasized!

Here is a recipe for chocolate gelato, my favorite.

2¼ cups whole milk

⅓ cup heavy cream

¾ cup sugar, divided

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

4  extra-large egg yolks

2 tbsp coffee flavor liqueur (recommended: Kahlua)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

pinch kosher salt

8  chocolates, roughly chopped, optional but really good

  1. Heat the milk, cream, and ½ cup sugar in a 2-quart saucepan until the sugar dissolves and the milk starts to simmer.  Add the cocoa powder and chocolate; whisk until smooth.  Pour into a heat-proof measuring cup.
  2. Place the egg yolks and the remaining ¼ cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and very thick. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the hot chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.  Pour the egg and chocolate mixture back into the 2-quart saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.  A candy thermometer will register about 180° F.  Don’t allow the mixture to boil!
  3. Pour the mixture through a sieve (to remove any inadvertent lumps) into a bowl and stir in the coffee liqueur, vanilla, and salt. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the custard and chill completely.
  4. Pour the custard into the bowl of an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s directions. Don’t over-beat.  Stir in the roughly chopped chocolate, if using, and freeze in covered containers.  Allow the gelato to thaw slightly before serving so it is not hard.

And enjoy!

BOLLI “Matters” feature writer John Rudy

Tech guru, inveterate traveler, and home chef John says that  it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

MARCH CHEF’S CORNER: WHAT DOES A TEST COOK EAT?

WHAT DOES A TEST COOK EAT?

(Click on picture or on “America’s Test Kitchen” below  to connect to video)

from John Rudy

Here is a 1-week report detailing what a test cook on America’s Test Kitchen (my favorite source of recipes) eats all day, along with a good explanation of why things were done in the way that they were.  Enjoy!

“BOLLI Matters” feature writer John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

 

 

 

JANUARY CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOHN RUDY: KITCHEN THINKING

KITCHEN THINKING

by John Rudy

Rather than providing yet another recipe I thought that, this month, I would provide some kitchen thoughts.  If you like this occasional side journey,  please let me know.

What temperature is my oven?

The recipe calls for you to bake a cake at 375° for 30 minutes, and it doesn’t come out right.  Why might that be?  First, your oven’s temperature reading might be wrong.  It is common for it to be off by as much as 10 degrees.  If you have a decent oven thermometer, try this:  put the thermometer on the middle rack, midway between the sides; set the temperature to 350 and wait until the thermometer stabilizes.  See what it says.   Maybe it says 310°.  Then try setting it for 350° and see what it says then.  If need be, then go to 400° and so on.  This will tell you how to adjust your recipe’s instructions  to meet your oven’s actual temperature.

Is the temperature the same at different places in my oven?

The configuration of your heating element and how the walls operate might be affecting your oven’s temperature.   So, move the sensor to different points in your oven and check it out.

What else is in your oven?

Have you tried to bake three pans of a layer cake, with two on one rack and the third on a lower rack?  If so, they won’t bake at the same speed.  So when you have to decide when to take each out you’ll have to check the pans separately.

How long does it take for an oven to cool off?

I have a cheesecake recipe that calls for baking, then turning the oven off, and  leaving the cake in the oven for an additional period of time.  My old oven would cool off quickly.  My new oven seems to take forever to cool off, so I have to crack the door.

How to use a meat thermometer

Most of us have meat thermometers that we use to determine whether the turkey or chicken or pork chop is ready.  (Cutting into them is not really a good idea as the juices escape.)  Additionally, every time you open the oven door to take a reading, the oven temperature might drop 20 degrees.  There is a nice solution, and that is a thermometer with a long cord so that it can go into the turkey (or whatever), through the oven door, and to the readout on your counter.  I bought a Taylor Model 1470N for about $15.

The thermometer works nicely.  I’m told it can also be used for cakes, but I haven’t tried it this way.

“Chef’s Corner” and “Tech Talk” feature writer for BOLLI “Matters” John Rudy

 

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

DECEMBER’S CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOHN RUDY: PEAR CREAM TART

PEAR (OR PEACH) CREAM TART

from John Rudy

This recipe (with slight modifications) is from page 188 of the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Desserts, a marvelous book with easy-to-understand instructions and wonderful pictures.  This recipe is for a 10” pie pan.  For a 12” pan, increase everything by 50%.  I feel that the crust is a bit thick, so that can be decreased some, which, of course, makes room for more of the filling.  The 10” pie serves 8.   It is really easy–and fast–to make.

1 tsp                      Cinnamon

½ cup plus 3 Tbs   Sugar

1 cup                     Whipping or Heavy Cream

2 large                   Egg yolks

1¼  cups              All purpose Flour (not sifted)

¼ tsp                     Salt

¾ stick                  Butter (softened)

2  29oz cans      Sliced pears (or peaches).  It really needs a can plus about 2-3 more halves. With peaches, I use 2½ of the small cans.

10” pie pan

Pre-heat the oven to 400°.

  1. In medium bowl, with fork, mix the flour, salt, 3 Tbs sugar and then cut in the butter (I use two knives) until it resembles course crumbs.
  2. Optionally spray the pan with some Pam
  3. By hand, press the flour mixture into the glass pie plate, on the bottom and up the sides.  Bring it to at least ¼” of the top as the pie will get that high.  Take care that the bottom of the sides is not too thick as you won’t have enough flour mixture for the bottom of the pan.
  4. Mix the cinnamon and ½ cup of the sugar (not the last 3 Tbs)
  5. Separately, beat the cream with the egg yolks
  6. If you have pear halves take the drained AND DRIED slices and cover the bottom of the pan.  Sometimes the slices have to be cut to fit properly.  Do it in concentric circles.  Evenly cover them with the cinnamon-sugar combination.  If it is not even, a portion of the sugar will glaze but the rest will need more time!  With sliced peaches it will take two circles.  NOTE: Don’t fill in all the spaces with fruit or the custard will not all fit in.
  7. Bake for 7+ minutes (it might take a few minutes more) until the cinnamon-sugar mixture is caramelized.
  8. Pour the cream mixture over the pears and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes until the top is browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (or mostly so).  A 9” pan takes about 22 mins; a 10” pan about 27 mins.  NOTE: do not overcook
  9. Cool the tart over a wire rack ~2 hours and then refrigerate if not using immediately.  Don’t cover with wrap until it is totally cooled (another 2 hours).
“BOLLI Matters” feature writer John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

AUGUST CHEF’S CORNER: THE FOUR BASIC FOOD GROUPS

THE FOUR BASIC FOOD GROUPS

from John Rudy

Bacon Pancakes!

Chocolate (dark chocolate, of course!!), as many of you know, is one of the four basic food groups, along with pizza, bacon, and beer.  Some have argued that lobster belongs on this list.  I disagree.  What makes the lobster so good is the large amount of butter.  I could be talked into adding maple syrup.

Here is a recipe for lobster tails covered in bacon and dipped in maple syrup (You could alternatively use scallops which are less expensive.) . http://www.lobsterfrommaine.com/recipe/bacon-wrapped-maine-lobster-bites/

My daughter went to a wedding some years ago where there was a tray of chocolate-covered bacon on every table.  She brought a piece back for me.  There are LOTS of on-line recipes, here is one:  http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/chocolate-covered-bacon

Papa Ginos has the all-meat combo pizza (the best in my carnivore opinion), and the best part is the bacon.

Here is a recipe for bacon filled pancakes. http://www.familyfreshmeals.com/2013/05/bacon-pancakes.html

Can you buy bacon beer?  Of course you can! http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/bacon-smoked-red-ale-recipe-kit.html The ad says, This smoked red ale is a bold taste sensation that will drive you hog wild.”

And for those who insist, here is bacon flavored coffee.   http://www.bocajava.com/fresh-roasted-gourmet-coffee/flavor-roast-coffee/maple-bacon-morning-coffee/5370#.  It even got a review of 4.3 of 5

As Julia would say – Bon Appetit!

BOLLI Matters “Chef’s Corner” feature writer John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

JULY CHEF’S CORNER: BARBECUED SHORT RIBS

BARBECUED SHORT RIBS

from John Rudy

This recipe came from The Good Housekeeping Cookbook, and we have been making it since we were married in 1968.  A Slo-Cooker   is a fine alternative.  Buy pieces that are mostly meat, not bone, preferably with lots of speckles of fat.  This recipe creates a lot of gravy.  That is intentional.  I prefer short ribs with noodles; others like potatoes.

 

 

 

 

3 lbs    Short ribs (best if they are marbled)

1 Tbsp Brown Sugar

½ cup  Onions, minced

1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

½ cup  Catsup

1 tsp    Paprika

½ cup  Water

1 tsp    Mustard (preferably dry)

¼ cup  Wine Vinegar

  1. (optional) Braise the ribs briefly, searing the edges to keep the juices in.  Drain off fat
  2. Combine onions and all other ingredients and pour over the meat.
  3. Cook at 275° for about 3 hours (or 6 hours on low in the Slo Cooker)
  4. Check with a fork to see if the ribs are ready. The meat should be falling off the bone.
  5. Remove the bones (optional) and refrigerate the meat/gravy until the fat comes to the top and hardens.
  6. Remove fat to use some of it to make roux, and thicken gravy.

===================

To make roux

Melt a few tablespoons of fat

Whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour and cook over medium heat until the flour is totally incorporated and the mixtures turns brown.  If you stop too early there will be a floury taste.  If you don’t whisk enough there will be lumps.

Slowly add the de-fatted gravy whisking constantly and let it come to a boil, at which point the gravy will be thickened.  If you used too much flour and the gravy is too thick just whisk in some water or bullion.

BOLLI Matters “Chef’s Corner” feature writer John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

SEPTEMBER CHEF’S CORNER: SWEDISH MEATBALL STROGANOFF

SWEDISH MEATBALL STROGANOFF

from John Rudy

I found this recipe in an old cooking magazine in the ‘70s.  I make plain meatballs (lean hamburger, some salt and one small finely-chopped onion).  I then broil the meatballs until they are medium rare; not more than about 6 minutes turning once.  I usually make them quite small, smaller than a golf ball, maybe 3/4ʺ.  The meatballs can be frozen to be used later.

The sauce recipe is sufficient for about 1½ pounds of meat.

By using lite cream cheese and sour cream, the calories are reduced and the taste seems to be the same.

Stroganoff Sauce

2 cans Cream of Mushroom soup (10½ oz can)

1½ cup Milk

6 oz  Cream cheese (softened)  (I use the “lite”)

¼ cup   Catsup

¼ tsp  Garlic Powder

1 pt  Sour cream (I use the “lite”)

Mix together in large saucepan (except for the sour cream);  warm, but do not boil. Stir constantly.

Add the meatballs and cook until thawed (if previously frozen) or hot.

Stir in the sour cream.

Serve over noodles or with toothpicks as an appetizer. (If the latter, there will be too much sauce.)

BOLLI Matters “Chef’s Corner” feature writer John Rud

 

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

MAY CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOHN RUDY: CHOCOLATE POKE CAKE

CHOCOLATE POKE CAKE

by John Rudy

Soon after we got married, I started making an Angel Food Cake.  After it cooked and partially cooled, I made Orange Jello, poked holes into the cake and poured it in.  After some experimentation, I found that a similar strategy worked well with chocolate pudding, and I varied the type of cake.  Sometimes I baked the cakes from scratch, and sometimes I used the stuff from boxes.  Back in the ‘70s, the boxed cakes weren’t very good, but they tend to be quite good today.  Frequently, these cakes call for frosting, but with the pudding, that seems too sweet to me.

This recipe calls for a very thick frosting.  I halved the original as it is perfectly adequate.  Feel free to double the frosting recipe if you like it thick and calorific.

1 chocolate fudge cake, prepared and baked in a 9×13 inch pan.

CHOCOLATE FILLING

1 can sweetened condensed milk

¼ cup heavy cream

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

CHOCOLATE FROSTING

¾ cups butter, softened to room temperature

¼ cup cocoa

1½ cups powdered sugar

½ cup heavy cream

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Bake cake as directed on box.
  2. While the cake is baking, add sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, and chocolate chips to a medium sauce pan and cook, stirring, on medium heat until the chips are melted and the filling is smooth.
  3. When the cake comes out from the oven, using the end of a wooden spoon, poke holes into the cake to create deep pockets for the filling to go into.
  4. Pour filling evenly over warm cake.
  5. Cool cake completely before frosting.

CHOCOLATE FROSTING

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, cocoa, powdered sugar and beat on low until combined.
  2. Add heavy cream, vanilla, and salt. Beat until creamy and smooth.
  3. Frost cake and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

BOLLI Matters Feature Writer, John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)