Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chocolate Pots de Crème

This is one of my favorite dessert recipes—simple, rich, and chocolaty.  It's a great make-ahead treat,  if you don't want to be stuck in the kitchen when guests are over.  I found the original version in the now defunct Chocolatier Magazine, which I still miss very much.  I've been making this since the 1980's and it's always a hit.

All you do is take a few ingredients and stick them in a blender with hot milk, then let chill. Done.

I think it looks elegant. I’m not the best one to ask, though, because those fantastic little chocolate pots don’t last long enough around me to get a very good look at them.

I hope you enjoy them, too!

Chocolate Pots de Crème

6 ounces semisweet chocolate-chopped fine (I used about 1 cup chocolate chips)

1 large egg-room temperature

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

¾ cup milk

Whipped cream, if you want

Put chocolate, egg, sugar, vanilla and salt in the blender or food processor and blend.

In a small sauce pot, heat milk till tiny bubbles appear around the edge of the pot.

Pour the hot milk into the blender and mix 30-60 seconds, until smooth.

Divide into 4 serving dishes. Cover each with plastic wrap. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight.

Serve with whipped cream.

Serves 4

Adapted from From :

Nikia Fries Schulte, Jefferson City, Missouri

Chocolatier Magazine May 1987

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sago Pearls in Coconut Milk - dessert!

Sago Pearls in Coconut Milk...also known as thar-gu ohn nyot, which is Burmese.

Thank goodness this was really yummy, because I had a few challenges in the cooking process. Not because this was difficult to make, but mainly because I really had no idea what I was doing.

It started when I went to a local international market. I found sago while looking for boba. It looked like boba (Taiwanese tapioca balls), but was smaller--about half the size of a pea.  I had to have it.

When I got home, I Googled sago and sifted through recipes, settling on one from a site called Hsba. Hsba's recipe for Sago Pearls in Coconut Milk looked pretty simple, so I should have no problem, right? Right? Well...

Attempt #1
The first batch was going so well at first, but I did not fully understand the importance of frequently stirring the sago as it boiled. As it turns out, this is a pretty critical task when cooking tapioca balls because these tiny little suckers adhere very firmly to the bottom of the pan if you do not stir often.

Attempt #2
With the second batch, I learned another valuable lesson. It seems that there is a fine line between boiling sago and scorching the heck out of the pan and the sago, and stinking up the house for an extended period of time.  So, I guess the key is to boil sago gently, and do not use extremely high heat. 

It was at about this point that I had to make a rather hefty contribution to the family curse jar.

Attempt #3
Success! The sago was cooked, clear and beautiful!

This recipe also called for palm sugar, which I got from the international market, too. It was pretty hard, so I used a butter knife to sort of jab and cut it out of the jar.

The original recipe measurements were metric, so I converted to U.S. standards. Well, actually it's British, or Imperial...whatever, I made it so we could use cups and teaspoons.

Sago Pearls in Coconut Milk recipe

*recipe modified from www.hsaba.com web site


3 1/2 ounces sago pearls (about 1/2 cup)
4-5 cups water
2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon palm sugar
3 tablespoons water
(if you don't have palm sugar, just use packed brown sugar)

3 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon coconut milk (canned)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup coconut milk, chilled (canned)
Heat 4-5 cups of water in heavy bottomed pot. Boil water and add sago. Stir often (I stirred every 5 minutes). Reduce heat to moderate and cook for a total of about 30 minutes (if using small sago about the half the size of a pea, if larger sago is used cook up to 45 minutes). Stir lots to prevent sticking to the bottom!
While the sago is cooking, heat the palm sugar and about 3 tablespoons of water over moderate heat, till dissolved. Stir occasionally. The original recipe called for straining this mixture, but I had no sediment and didn't feel like straining, and it was perfect. Let it cool.
When sago is almost transparent throughout, turn off heat. Stir again. Leave to continue cooking, and put on the lid. Let this sit 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. After the 30 minutes, put in colander and run cool water over it so it stops cooking. The sago should be completely transparent.
Put sago in a bowl. Pour 3 tablespoons, or so, of the coconut milk over it and sprinkle with salt. Stir. This will keep the sago from sticking to each other.
Put into serving dishes. Pour over the remaining 1/2 cup of coconut milk and palm sugar to taste. I did not use all the coconut milk or palm sugar, and it was delicious.

*Sago does not keep well overnight. This is a make-fresh dessert!
serves 2

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Carlos and Charlie's Tuna Dip

Carlos and Charlie's Restaurants make a dip that I adore--Tuna Dip.  I used to frequent their Sunset Boulevard, Santa Monica and Malibu locations to get my fix. Sadly, their restaurants closed in the Los Angeles area. They still have restaurants in Las Vegas Nevada, Austin Texas, Aruba and various locations in Florida and Mexico.  The food there is okay, but the atmosphere is terrific!  The bars are super fun. And, of course, there's the tuna dip. They make an amazing deep fried ice cream thing too.  So if you're looking for beer, tuna dip and ice cream, you need to try Carlos and Charlie's!

When they closed, I was determined to make tuna dip.  I tinkered around and eventually, I think I got something that is pretty close.  I usually make it with "light" or "no fat" sour cream and mayonnaise, and I get baked tortilla chips. I really do prefer the full fat version, but the lighter version is pretty darn yummy, too.

Carlos'n Charlie's Tuna Dip

(printable recipe)

12 oz. can tuna (drain juice and save separately)
½-1 jalapeno - seeded and diced into small pieces
7 green onions - chopped
¼ c. sour cream
¼ c. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. cilantro - chopped
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp Black pepper
1/8 tsp White pepper

Tortilla chips
Cucumber spears

Mix dip ingredients & serve with chips or cukes. If you want it really creamy, add more mayo and sour cream. Sometimes I add about 1/8 cup tuna juice to help thin the consistency.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Veggies and Rice with Parmesan

Steamed veggies and rice is a favorite dish of mine. This was one of my go-to orders at restaurants when I was living in L.A.  I don't really see it on menus anymore, even when I visit Southern Cali. I never did see it on a menu outside of the L.A. area. Oh, well.

Steamed veggies and rice is yummy, simple to make, healthy and cheap.

If you have a couple of pots and a steamer, you are good to go.

Veggies and Rice with Parmesan

1 cup brown Texmati rice (or the rice that you prefer)

2 ¼ cups water (you may need more or less water if using another rice, I always check on my rice periodically anyway--sometimes the water recomended is just not enough)

¼ tsp. salt


1 tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic- minced

3 green onions-chopped

8 oz. raw broccoli florets

12 oz. cauliflower florets

9 oz. carrots - sliced to about ¼” thickness

11 oz. zucchini (1 zucchini)-sliced to about 1/3” thickness

5 ½ oz. yellow squash (1 squash)-sliced to about 1/3” thickness

8 oz. green beans-trimmed

10 oz. butternut squash-peeled and chopped into 1” pieces

(if you aren’t sure how to peel butternut squash, A Veggie Venture will show you).

It's really easy!

2 oz. parmesan - grated

Spray butter

Heat olive oil in a medium sized pot. Add garlic and cook till light brown. Add rice and water. Add salt and pepper. Heat to a boil.

Then reduce the heat and simmer with a lid on the pot. About 15 minutes before the rice was done, add the green onions. I needed to add more water than what I was supposed to need, so you should check the rice periodically and stir.

Heat the oven to about 325 F.

Prepare the pot for steaming the veggies--it should be big (like a pot you’d cook a good sized batch of pasta in). I used one that was about 10” across and 6” high. I use an old school metal steamer that opens up like a flower. Mine is ancient, but it works great. Add water to just below the steamer bottom.

Add the butternut squash to the steamer pot.

Add the other veggies to the steamer pot and steam them however long you like them steamed.  I layered my veggies. I put the longer cooking veggies on the bottom, so as the top layer was finished cooking, Cover and cook.

Check the water once in a while so you don't scorch the pot. I have done this. Often.

This is how long I cooked my veggies:

Zucchini - 9 minutes

Yellow squash - 9 minutes

Green beans - 15 minutes

Broccoli - 17 minutes

Cauliflower - 17 minutes

Carrots - 17 minutes

Butternut Squash - 30 minutes (till they feel right when you pierce them with a fork, however you like your squash done)

When the rice is done, toss in the parmesan (save some for sprinkling on top, if you like).

Put the rice in an oven safe dish. Top with the cooked veggies. Sprinkle with a little cheese. Put in the oven for a few minutes to heat a bit, less than five would be great.

Some of the restauarants I ordered steamed veggies and rice from gave the option of adding cheddar cheese on the veggies. They heated that so it was all melt-y, and it was hecka yummy.  If you are watching cholesterol, I would go light on the cheese. They do have lowfat cheddar, though. 

I have made this dish for folks that aren't into healthy foods, and they really liked it. Even the kids were digging in.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Connie's Barbecue Sauce

This barbecue sauce is the easiest bbq sauce ever. And it’s super good.
Basically, you throw some ingredients in a pot, boil, and it's done.

I love using it on grilled shrimp, but I have used it on turkey burgers, and grilled chicken, too.  It’s so good, I can the stuff and give it to friends at Christmas time, and they always want more.

Connie’s Barbecue Sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp chili powder

2 dashes hot sauce
2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 tbsp. brown sugar
Stir ingredients in a pot and boil.

I used green onion this time. I usually use purple onions.
Marinate whatever meat you are using for an hour or more. Baste, especially in the last 15 minutes of cooking.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Grape-Nuts Cookies

Once again, I was in “trying to get healthy mode,” so I picked up Grape-Nuts Cereal at the store.  When I got home, I noticed a cookie recipe on the box.  Grape-Nuts Cookies--yes!  I immediately began to make cookies.  I have not yet had a bowl of cereal. 

The recipe called for ingredients to be mixed with an electric mixer, and I haven’t seen mine since a friend borrowed it a few years back, so the mixer I used was me.

I was super happy this recipe requires rolled oats. I have an unopened box that will finally get put to good use.  I have never been a fan of rolled oats, but I picked those up on another day I was thinking of being healthy. The oatmeal has been kept very safely in the cupboard ever since. I dusted it off and it was fine. 

The recipe called for dark brown sugar, but I only had light brown sugar.  It worked quite well.

I tore my kitchen apart looking for cookie sheets, with no luck. I got to thinking about it,  and to tell you the truth, I haven’t made cookies in so many years, they’d probably be rusted through if I did have any cookie sheets.  I found a lasagna-style bake pan, so I decided to make due with that.  

Grape-Nuts Cookies
(printable recipe)

½ cup softened butter

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar

3 tbsp. honey
2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup flour
1 cup Post Grape-Nuts cereal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat butter and sugar till the mix is smooth. Add honey, eggs and vanilla and mix. 


Add baking soda, salt, rolled oats, flour and Grape-Nuts. Combine till just mixed.

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto lined or greased cookie sheet, 2” apart. Bake 10-14 minutes or till golden brown.

Cool 2-3 minutes, then remove from baking sheet. Cool completely on wire racks. When cool, you can store the cookies you have left in an airtight container (if you are like me, you have already started eating them at this point).

Makes 4 dozen cookies, or 24 servings (2 cookies per serving).

They were delicious!

My neighbor came by and tried one. She loved them!  I would give a direct quote, but she used a series of expletives to declare her praise.

The only thing I would like to change about this recipe is the butter. I am going to try these again, and replace the butter with applesauce.  The cookies should come out fine--but I will try it to make sure.  I will update the recipe with the applesauce option, if all goes well.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork Sandwich with yellow plums (my favorite)

I found a crock pot at a thrift shop for five bucks and wanted to break it in.

I went to Allrecipes.com and perused the “Slow Cooker” section and spied something that looked interesting. There was a recipe for Slow Cooker Pulled Pork , and it was made with root beer.

There were four ingredients, including the buns. I can totally do this.

I was a little nervous about the pork thing. I have never purchased pork so I didn’t really know what to expect.

I went to the store and searched the pork section for something resembling a pork tenderloin.

The names on the packages were slightly different than what the recipe indicated, and I was hesitant to grab what might be the wrong thing. After all, this was a recipe for pulled pork, whatever that is, and I didn’t know if you could pull just any pork. Or beef. Or chicken, for that matter.

I began interrogating unsuspecting shoppers about pork, and they, for the most part tried to ignore me. I managed to wear one lady down, and she let me know which product would work for this recipe. Before she could summon the security guard, I rushed over to the soda aisle.

I chose Hires Root beer for two reasons. One, it is quite delicious. And two, a hundred years or so ago, I did a commercial for Hires (titled: “Sitting at the Dock of the Bay”) that played nonstop, and they were very generous with me. I would like to take this opportunity to say, once again, thank you so very much Hires. You paid for lots of fun clothes and sparkly jewelry.

For some reason, I thought I had a bottle of bbq sauce at home. I did not. Grrrrr.

That's okay, I made some with a super simple and yummy recipe. I’ll post that later.

UPDATE:  I uploaded the recipe for my fabuloso bbq sauce.

All I had to do for the pulled pork recipe was throw the pork and root bear in the crock pot for 6 ½ hours. Drain, pull the pork apart, and stir in bbq sauce. It was so gooooood!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

(printable recipe)


1 (2 lb.) boneless pork sirloin roast
1 (12 oz.) can root beer
1 (18 oz.) bottle barbecue sauce
***If eating the pork low carb style (no bread) just use 9 oz. of barbecue sauce.
8 hamburger buns, split and lightly toasted

***The crock pot I used is a bit small (3 1/2 qt.), so you don't need a big one if you don't have one.


Place the pork tenderloin in a slow cooker; pour the root beer over the meat. Cover and cook on low until well cooked and the pork shreds easily, 6 to 7 hours. Note: the actual length of time may vary according to individual slow cooker. Drain well. Stir in barbecue sauce. Serve over hamburger buns.

From Allrecipes.com

I tried it on a bun, and that was delicious.

I also tried a low carb version by just using the meat and adding a little salad.

Eating the pulled pork this way requires half the amount of sauce, since the bread won’t be soaking it all up.

The pork was so good, I didn't miss the bread.