One doesn’t need lots of space to have an elegant, organized kitchen like the one pictured here. Things just need to co-exist in coherent fashion. Large, white appliances combined with lemon yellow, orange and lime green cookware can give a unified appearance; I call the effect “harmonious clutter”. All the many tools in this kitchen are used frequently, so there really is no wasted space.
Heavy French and Danish pans are hung on stainless steel carts with practical S-hooks from the hardware store, saving the home-cook lots of kneeling and heavy-lifting at low cabinets. Ladles, spatulas, can-openers and other essential kitchen tools are hung the same way for easy access.
Cookware-Cleaning Tip: stubborn stains on cookware, sinks and fixtures can be reduced or eliminated by scrubbing them with a paste made by combining cream of tartar and a little vinegar. This acidic mixture is often more effective than an abrasive chlorine-based cleanser.
M-J’s Original Recipe: Potage Printanière aux Petits Pois
Photo and Recipe Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2007
I devised this spring pea soup for an elegant luncheon.
Potage Printanière aux Petits Pois
One 16-ounce bag of frozen petits pois, or tiny green peas (be sure to use the frozen variety for their intense colour)
Three cups of hot water
Herbs: savoury or herbes de Provence
1/3 Cup of sour cream or crême fraîche
Salt to taste
In a blender, mix together the hot water and frozen small peas until they are like soup. Pour the
mixture into a pot and heat it to simmering. Add a half-teaspoon of savoury or herbes de Provence, and a third-cup of crème fraîche or sour cream. Stir with a wire-whisk until the bits of cream are fully incorporated into the green soup. Heat again till just boiling, and serve. This recipe will serve four. Double the recipe by repeating the first step and adding the results to the pot, while repeating the other ingredients as well. Add salt to your own preference. I use Himalayan salt. This soup may be served either hot or chilled. A small spoonful of sour cream or crême fraîche in the center of each bowlful will act as a garnish.
M-J’s low-carb southwestern-style salad starts with warm sautéed ground beef, onion and celery that has been flavored with chile powder or taco seasoning, which is topped with shredded cheddar cheese, finely-chopped romaine lettuce, tomato-chunks, dots of sour cream and green salsa. The ingredients in this individual salad are arranged elegantly and are only mixed together by the person to whom it is served. Bowls of additional sour cream and salsa can be available at your table, as well as strips or chunks of avocado doused with lemon or lime to prevent turning brown. Eating hot salsa can raise one’s resistance to colds and flu, which are no longer just seasonal. Hot peppers such as cayenne, jalapeño and serrano also enhance one’s metabolism. Ground beef can be substituted with grilled chicken, and for the chile-pepper enthusiast, strips of broiled serranos can be artfully placed on the lettuce. This hearty salad is a good source of protein and health-promoting produce any time of year.
One large egg typically contains six grams of high-quality protein, the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin (a substance in egg yolks), as well as significant amounts of the important vitamins E, D, and A.
Vitamin E has been proven to reduce the risk of coronary attacks in people with heart disease, while lutein helps to protect against clogging of the arteries.
A study concluded at EpidStat Institute in November, 2016 found that consuming just one egg a day reduces risk of stroke by 12 percent. The study’s principal investigator, Epidemiologist Dr. Dominik Alexander, said: “Eggs do have many positive nutritional attributes, including antioxidants, which have been shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. They are also an excellent source of protein, which has been related to lower blood pressure.”
U.S. scientists have found that, contrary to traditional perceptions acquired from decades of less rigorous research, consuming eggs had no association with coronary heart disease, which is on record as the leading cause of death worldwide.
Eggs don’t cause heart disease, as the medical industry previously believed. And here is more good news: a research team at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge determined that women on a weight-loss regimen who ate an egg with toast and jelly each morning lost twice as many pounds as those who had a bagel breakfast with the same number of calories without the accompanying egg.
Eggs are nutritious, convenient, useful in thousands of recipes, and are a relatively inexpensive source of high-quality protein.
One large egg, which represents less than 4 percent of the total daily calorie intake of a person who consumes 2000 calories per day, provides 10 percent of the Daily Value for protein, 15 percent of the Daily Value for riboflavin, and 4 percent or more of the Daily Value for several other nutrients, including vitamins A, B6 and B12; folate; iron; phosphorus; and zinc. Eggs also provide choline, which is essential in the human diet, and is credited for helping to create healthy babies during pregnancy. Because the percentage of the recommended daily amount for many nutrients provided by an egg is greater than the proportion of total calorie intake that the egg represents, the egg more than pulls its weight nutritionally. Most of the vitamins and minerals in eggs are found in the yolk; protein, however, is found in both the yolk and the white.
Recent research indicates that egg eaters are more likely than non-egg eaters to have diets that provide adequate amounts of essential nutrients. This seems to be partly due to the nutritional contribution of the eggs themselves and partly due to the fact that the inclusion of eggs in the diet is an indicator of a desirable eating pattern that includes breakfast.
Eggs can be prepared easily, in a variety of ways. They keep well in the refrigerator for about three weeks, and therefore an individual can easily use up the dozen eggs in a carton before they spoil. Because most egg recipes involve short cooking times, eggs are convenient for the person with little time to prepare meals.
Eggs have several important physical and chemical properties that help make recipes work. They thicken custards, puddings and sauces; emulsify and stabilize mixtures such as mayonnaise and salad dressings; coat or glaze breads and cookies; bind ingredients together in dishes such as meat loaf and lasagne; eggs are used to clarify coffee and soups; retard crystallization in boiled candies and frostings; and leaven some types of baked goods such as cakes, cookies, soufflés, buns and sponge cakes.
Eggs are economical, especially when compared to other high-protein foods. For people who are trying to balance their budgets as well as their diets, serving eggs occasionally instead of meat, poultry, or fish is very economical.
One other benefit of eggs is that they are a functional food—that is, a food which provides health benefits that go beyond basic nutrition. Eggs contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, two components which are believed to have health benefits.
Stocking up on dehydrated eggs would be a wise move right now. There are many sources of dried or powdered eggs on ebay and the internet. I prefer to dessicate and process them at home. Here is my procedure:
Emergency Powdered Eggs
Cook the desired amount of eggs in a non-stick pan until they are scrambled dry. On a a large baking-sheet, place your scrambled eggs in a thin layer. Use a French chef’s knife or a pastry cutter to break them into smaller pieces. In a low oven around 130 degrees Fahrenheit, bake this tray of eggs for eight hours or until it is devoid of moisture. Using a hand-mill, meat-grinder, food-mill or a blender, process the eggs until they turn to powder. Store the dried egg powder in an air-tight, food-grade container.
A half-loaf of home-made sourdough bread was a couple days old, and tired of being stored in the fridge. I decided to make croutons with it for the week’s luncheon salads. I poured olive oil, spices, parsley and fresh rosemary into a Pop-It storage box (made with safe materials in Italy), then tossed the bread squares in and shook the thing with all my might to coat them well. With ambient heat from the oven while baking the croutons, a new loaf of bread was rising nearby. Sliced thinly, the croutons were ready after ten minutes in a 350° oven. Cooled croutons were poured into elegant jars to be used at table. And they won’t need to be stored for long; these croutons will quickly be poured out onto salads. @M-J de Mesterton
Burdock root, known in Japan as gobo, is one of the best blood-purifiers. It has diuretic properties that help expel toxic products from the blood through urine. This root-vegetable is employed in the treatment of skin problems such as eczema (dermatitis) and psoriasis. Burdock is a remedy for liver and gall bladder complaints. Effusion of burdock seeds has been used for throat and chest ailments. Burdock is an appetite-stimulant and is used for enhancing digestion and relieving dyspepsia. Dried burdock root is reconstituted by pouring boiling water over the bits and letting them stand until softened. It may also be used as a tea, or incorporated into brown rice, where it will soften as the rice and burdock mixture cooks. I use either fresh or dried burdock in stir-fried vegetables or kinpira-style braised vegetables.
To boil a whole sack of spuds at once, I added a tablespoon of salt and a quarter-cup of vinegar to the water in this huge stock-pot. The potatoes came out of the sack clean enough to dump directly into the pot. I turned on the gas and waited for them to start boiling, then let them simmer for thirty minutes.
When the boiled potatoes were soft enough to eat but still firm enough to slice, I turned off the gas. I then transferred the potato-water to a more manageable pot. Because the large stock-pot filled with potatoes and water was too heavy for me to handle, I used a heat-proof pitcher to ladle it out, and poured the remaining hot water into a bowl in the sink. Later, when this nutrient-rich water is cool, I shall take these vessels of liquid to the garden and water plants with them.
The potatoes, after having been drained of hot water, sat covered in the stock-pot to cool for a few minutes. To peel them, I simply throw some ice and cold water over the potatoes, let sit for ten minutes, then the jackets will usually slide off easily, leaving a very attractive spud indeed, ready to be frozen for later use. I developed this method of preparing potatoes for the future when an economy-sized bag of them threatened to sprout. To prevent the spuds from going bad, I boiled and peeled and froze them. They are perfect when turned into gratin Dauphinois, hash-browns and mashed potatoes.
These boiled potatoes are ready to be doused with ice-water for easy peeling. When the spud-jackets are removed this way, there is no waste like there is when a peeler is used on raw potatoes. These particular potatoes have such delicate skins that, testing them for softness, I smashed one in a bowl, seasoned it with Himalayan salt and pepper: the little spud, jacket included, was delicious!
Potatoes, when cooled, may be packed in zippered bags or BPA-free food-storage boxes for freezing. In the freezer, there are a few spuds in a bag and the majority of today’s produce in a BPA-free Ozeri Green Earth container, flanked by haricots verts and home-made bread, topped by stacked home-made pizza slices and yesterday’s chocolate pie.
I invented this dish for a dinner party guest, a French teacher who was pregnant. She loved it. Other guests did as well, so I have made my Pink Lemonade Chicken for many buffet dinners. Now, I am inspired by my dear nieces and nephews who are expecting babies soon, so I am publishing this recipe again. The ingredients are simple and few, and you may adjust the amounts according to taste.
Four-to-six pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
One 16-ounce can of frozen pink lemonade
One tablespoon of cornstarch
Salt or celery salt to-taste
Water, two or three cups
Poach chicken breasts in a mixture composed of 2/3 of a 16-ounce can of frozen pink lemonade juice and two or three cups of water.
When it is thawed, the pink lemonade turns to thick syrup. One large can will be sufficient for four-to-six pounds of chicken. Reserve a third of the can for a final sauce.
Cover the boneless, skinless chicken breasts and simmer slowly in the pink lemonade for an hour or more. You may add salt or celery salt, but remember, this dish is created for those with delicate stomachs, so please don’t add garlic or onion flavorings. The liquid will reduce and the whole pieces of chicken should become lightly browned. Remove from heat and place on top of two sheets of waxed paper to protect your cutting board. When the chicken breasts are cool, slice them into medallions–see my example in the photo below–with a very sharp knife. The liquid left-over in the poaching pan will be used to make a sauce.
Sauce for Pink Lemonade Chicken
Into the pan, pour 3/4 cup of water and a teaspoon of cornstarch, which has been mixed with a tablespoon of water. Add the 1/3 can of remaining pink lemonade syrup. Cook till it becomes a sauce. Pour some of it on the base of your serving dish. Arrange the slices of chicken in a circular fashion. When you have finished arranging the chicken slices, drizzle the rest of the pink lemonade sauce over them.
The typical size for 10-person table is 72″ round.
A white tablecloth is formal, while a coloured or black one is less-formal, and a patterned cloth is casual. White-on-white weaves such as brocade, jacquard or white embroidered on white cloth make very elegant formal tablecloths.
Yesterday’s dumplings or gyoza were filled with mung beans, water chestnuts, celery, red onion and ginger, all processed in a mini-prep Cuisinart. For a dipping-sauce, I combined hand-squeezed orange juice, organic shoyu sauce, and home-made red-chile sesame oil. I also offered Edmond Fallot authentic moutarde de Dijon.
Won Ton Skins are dipped in water and laid on a cutting board for a few minutes to soften before filling, which makes them easier to crimp. Then, filling is applied to the centre of each skin using a teaspoon or Swedish “meatballer” before the dumplings are folded over and sealed. As you see here, the dumplings/gyoza do not necessarily all look alike when finished. My gyoza are sautéed on each side in safflower and/or sesame oil until golden brown. These dumplings may be steamed after frying by adding a half-cup of water or green tea to the pan and covering with heat for three minutes, or just be dipped or drenched with sauce. A sprinkling of gomasio or toasted, salted sesame seeds is a welcome garnish for these simple dumplings. Dumplings are a great vehicle for leftover meats, beans and vegetables. “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”, and with your chosen leftovers or ingredients combined into a dumpling, you may just invent a family-favourite.
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