Cooking On The Go
By Janet Groene, F47166
Do you ever have days when you want to use the coach oven or slow cooker to prepare a recipe that can be forgotten for many hours? In her new book The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes ($29.95, Robert Rose Inc.), Judith Finlayson supplies inspired recipes that are far too fussy for most motor coach cooks, but shortcuts can easily be figured out. For example, I used 4 cups of cooked, leftover turkey breast in the following recipe instead of raw turkey, and I bought pre-sliced Portobello mushrooms. Experienced cooks may find the book’s directions plodding, but new cooks will appreciate the explicit detail. The book is also a handy guide to adapting your favorite recipes to crock cooking. Although this recipe takes time to assemble, once it’s cooking, you can forget about it for up to 8 hours. The crust is more like polenta than cornbread.
Southwestern Turkey Pot Pie With Corn Bread Cheddar Crust
2 pounds boneless, skinless turkey cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Large Portobello mushroom, stem removed, quartered and sliced
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
4 stalks celery, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
2 tablespoons flour
10-ounce can condensed chicken broth, undiluted
3 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/4-teaspoon black pepper
1 cup cornmeal
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
2 green onions, finely chopped
Brown the turkey in the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and transfer with a slotted spoon to your slow cooker. Sauté the mushrooms in the same oil and transfer to the cooker. Reduce heat and add the onions, carrots, and celery to the skillet. Stir, cover, and cook until the vegetables are soft, which should take approximately 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and cook the jalapeno pepper with the cumin seeds, salt, and pepper for 1 minute. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the broth and cook, stirring, until thickened. Stir this mixture into the turkey and mushrooms. Cook for 7 to 9 hours on low or 4 to 5 hours on high.
Make the crust 45 minutes before dinner. In a pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Season with salt and pepper, and add the cornmeal slowly in a steady stream, stirring constantly, until it’s thick. Stir in the butter, half the cheese, and the green onions. Spoon the cornmeal batter over the turkey mixture, top with the remaining cheese, cover, and cook on high for 45 minutes. Spoon onto plates and serve with chilled cranberry sauce, crisp cucumber wedges, and golden grape tomatoes. The pie is spicy, so serve a cooling dessert such as chilled custard.
This recipe is from a new book, Better Than Take-Out by Pamela Marx ($14.95, Perspective Publishing Inc.). Aimed at the rushed cook, the book is sometimes a bit too simplistic, but it’s sure to get you thinking. For example, the author says you can fold an 8-ounce container of yogurt with fruit into a small container of whipped topping, pile it into a graham cracker crust, freeze for 30 minutes, and serve for dessert. It’s wonderful! Just don’t freeze it solid — 30 minutes is enough. Here’s another quick, but tasty recipe. Whip up a batch of these hot nuts for a cocktail snack.
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound raw almonds
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2-teaspoon chili powder
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high and stir in the almonds. Cook the almonds, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes or until they are toasted. Remove the skillet from the stove and mix the spices while the almonds cool. Then toss the almonds with the spices until they’re evenly coated. The spice mix is good for other uses, too (meatloaf, salad dressing, chili, soups), so you may want to make up a big batch and keep it in a tightly sealed container. Use 3 1/4 teaspoons of spice mix per pound of toasted almonds.
Light Ambercup Cake
This recipe from a new book, Comfort Food Fast by Anne Gardon ($24.95, Firefly Books) caught my eye because it calls for maple syrup. I’ve found the new, sugar-free, maple-flavored syrup a godsend for those who follow a low-sugar or diabetic diet. Try it as an ice cream topping, as a substitute for corn syrup in recipes, or as a topping for candied sweet potatoes.
In this recipe I used canned, mashed pumpkin instead of Ambercup squash, and sour milk instead of buttermilk, which I rarely carry in the galley. To make sour milk, a buttermilk equivalent, combine 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice with enough regular milk to make 1 cup and let it stand for 5 minutes. Serve the cake plain or with a light vanilla sauce such as cook-and-serve vanilla pudding, regular or sugar-free. The recipe can be mixed with a wooden spoon if you don’t have an electric mixer on board.
1 cup pureed, cooked squash
2/3-cup maple syrup or corn syrup (regular or sugar-free)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2-teaspoon ground cinnamon
Grease a pan large enough to hold six cups of batter. Beat together the shortening and squash and add the eggs, one at a time. Continue beating while you add the syrup. Combine the dry ingredients and mix into the squash mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.
Quick Jam Fondue
I call fondues “fun-dos,” because they always provide lots of laughs and camaraderie whenever a fondue pot is put on the table for dipping. If you find fondues an easy way to serve a fancy meal, you’ll love Ilana Simon’s new book, The 125 Best Fondue Recipes ($18.95, Robert Rose Inc.). The author provides recipes for classic cheese fondue in all its variations, as well as oil fondues, broth-cooked main-dish fondues, desserts, and cold dips. Here’s a delicious dessert you can whip up in minutes. A metal fondue set is worth carrying in your motorhome, because it’s an extra pot to use on the stove for cooking or warming, as well as an attractive container for use with cold dips. For oil and broth cooking, you’ll need a fondue set fired by electricity, canned cooking fuel, or a gas cartridge. Candle-heated versions are good enough for keeping gravy and sauces warm, but insufficient for cooking.
1 cup seedless raspberry jam
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons kirsch
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4-teaspoon finely grated lime zest
In a saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together the jam and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, watching carefully to prevent scorching. Add the flour a little at a time and cook, whisking constantly, for 5 minutes or until the mixture is the desired thickness. Remove from heat, stir in the remaining ingredients, and allow to cool. At this point the dip is ready to serve, or it can be refrigerated for later. If refrigerated, rewarm it in the microwave on low until it’s heated through. Transfer to a dessert fondue pot over a candle flame. Provide chunks of angel food cake, ladyfingers, nuts, or fruits for dipping.
Warm a batch of soft pretzels in the microwave and serve them with this dip as a cocktail snack or a light lunch with other finger foods. This recipe makes a big batch of dip, but it will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. You might also try it as a spread with ham or lunchmeat sandwiches.
14-ounce can sweetened, condensed milk
8-ounce container coarse-grain mustard
8-ounce container lemon yogurt (regular or fat- and sugar-free)
2 tablespoons grated horseradish
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Whisk everything together and serve at once or refrigerate for future use. Stir before each serving.
Try these cupcake-sized stuffing balls for an easy, unusual side dish. They can be made ahead of time, refrigerated, and then baked. Use individual custard cups or cupcake pans.
3 cups herb-seasoned dry stuffing
3 ribs celery, diced
Small onion, diced
Pinch salt, pepper
8-ounce can cream-style corn
2 eggs, beaten
Put the stuffing in a bowl and set aside. Cut the butter in half and save half. Melt the butter in a nonstick skillet and sauté the onion and celery until tender. Turn off the heat. Stir in the water, sage, salt, pepper, and corn. Add the vegetables and beaten eggs to the dry stuffing, mixing until everything is evenly moistened. Using wet hands, form six balls, place in buttered muffin or custard cups, and refrigerate; or to proceed, drizzle with the other half of the butter, melted, and bake 30 minutes at 375 degrees.
Microwave-convection recipe of the month
Recipes for “impossible” pies have been around for years, no doubt because they’re easy dishes that please the family. This one-dish meal makes three to four servings. The recipe also can be made with a 6-ounce pouch of tuna in place of the meat.
Impossible Pot Pie
1 1/2 cups diced, cooked meat (leftovers or a fully cooked roast from the deli)
10-ounce package frozen mixed vegetables
1 can condensed cream of chicken, mushroom, or celery soup
1/2-teaspoon dried herbs*
1 1/4 cups biscuit mix
1/2-cup grated cheddar cheese (optional)
Scatter the diced meat in a deep-dish, 9-inch pie plate. Microwave the vegetables and a little added water on high in a covered, vented microwavable container for 2 to 3 minutes or until they are crisp-tender. Set the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the vegetables over the meat and spread with the undiluted soup. Stir to mix well. Don’t add salt; the soup is salty enough. Whisk together the biscuit mix, herb of your choice, milk, and egg and pour over the meat mixture. Bake approximately 30 minutes or until the topping is brown and crusty. Top with the grated cheese if you like, and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes while it melts. Spoon onto serving places and complete the meal with a salad of sliced oranges and sweet onions, and baked apples for dessert.
*Thyme or tarragon go well with tuna, crushed rosemary or herbes de Provence with chicken or lamb, and Italian seasoning with beef or pork.
Books for cooks
A new book in the Dummies series is Cookies For Dummies by Carole Bloom ($19.99, Hungry Minds Inc.). It contains plenty of information for both experienced bakers and beginners alike. If you’ve been itching to try your hand at specialty cookies such as madeleines, speculaas, pizzelles, springerle, or mandelbrot, the author’s instructions and drawings will lead you through. An entire chapter is devoted to teaching children how to bake cookies, an activity that could come in handy on a rainy day.
The Clueless Baker by Evelyn Raab ($12.95, Firefly Books) simplifies recipes much as the Dummies book does, but it’s much more fun to read. Yeast, the author tells us, is a living thing — like a hamster. If you need a tutor for tackling quick breads, yeast breads, muffins, biscuits (including dog biscuits), cookies, cakes, and pies, or if you just want some new recipes, this book can be found at bookstores or from online booksellers.
Relax, Company’s Coming! by Kathy Gunst ($25, Simon & Schuster) caught my eye with the phrase “stress-free entertaining” on the cover, but it’s far more labor-intensive than most galley cooks prefer. However, if you like trendy, kitchen-tested recipes with serving tips, the book offers many possibilities, from Roasted Summer Beans with Sesame-Soy Glaze to Turkish Lentil and Vegetable Soup. I especially like the way the author provides a long list of variations with each recipe.
If you use Le Creuset, the porcelain-clad cast-iron cookware, you may want to investigate a new book, The Cast Iron Way To Cook by Sue Cutts (Simon & Schuster). While this cookware is heavy for use in a motor coach, it is available in many colors and styles. It’s handsome enough to go from oven to table, and the porcelain coating means you’ll have no rust stains. For the confirmed cast iron cook, it’s the best of both worlds.