Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Below is Kerri’s report on her great oatmeal adventure earlier this year. It’s spurtlicious!

Kerri with Bob. Yes, THAT Bob.

You may remember me from reading about the fun and exciting time Susan and I had preparing for the Spar for the Spurtle Contest we both entered back in July. If not for Susan’s keen eye and wonderful way of bringing her friends along into cool new ventures, I would not have known or cared about the Spar for the Spurtle.

We prepared like mad women to be sure we had just the right recipe and flavors to win, even holding taste-tests at our office. Finally, we made videos for our entries at Susan’s house and our precious friend Richard filmed and edited them to greatness. (He’s brilliant, by the way). Here’s Susan’s:

And mine:

Although I felt I had no chance against Susan’s amazing video and recipe, I was thrilled to receive a call from Matt at Bob’s Red Mill, the host of the contest who told me that I had been selected as one of 3 winners to go to all expenses paid to Portland for the national live cook-off at Bob’s. I nearly fainted. But off I went, recipe and all cooking gear in tow. The morning of the contest came early and started with a 2 hour tour of the Bob’s Red Mill plant.

It was amazing. You could eat off the floors in that place. They go to great lengths to preserve the integrity of the Gluten-Free grains and to only sell the best of the best from local farmers. Very impressive. Bob himself led our tour and we felt like royalty as we had our pictures taken and had lunch in the beautiful courtyard of the Bob’s Store where the cook-off was held.

Spurtle contestants

Ready, set, spar

When it came time to start the contest, we were first led in great pomp and circumstance through every aisle of the store marching behind a darling girl bagpiper, then the head of the Oregon Scottish Consulate addressed us to discuss his experience with what they call “porridge”, we call “oatmeal”. The judges were introduced and before we knew it, we were underway! 40 minutes to prepare, plate, and serve our recipes.

I delivered my plates first with my recipe “Raspberry Oatmeal Dumplings”—boy, was I nervous. Then the terrific gal to my right (she’s on my left, your right in the photo above), who had made “Apricot Oatmeal Pot stickers”. Both of our dishes were sweet, but the last gal to go had made a savory dish, “Italian Pinhead Torta”. The judges tasted, then stepped out of the room to decide who should win.

Drumroll please…….it wasn’t me. I was sad. I really thought I had it, but the judges had been given a specific task to choose the recipe which was the most likely to win the International Porridge Making contest in Scotland. They chose the Torta recipe as it put the oats (called pinheads) at the forefront and as the starring ingredient.

Italian Pinhead Torta

Surely they chose rightly, judging by the results of the International competition. Yep— on Saturday, Oct. 6th, Laurie won the specialty division with her Torta recipe in Scotland, and brought the trophy back to the US for Bob’s Red Mill.

I was happy for her (really!) and for all the good folks at Bob’s. They are a wonderful bunch of people, with terrific hearts and completely engaged in their mission. I highly recommend red Mill products to everyone as they are simply the best! I have seen it firsthand, and am a true believer. They are worth every penny. If you want to learn more or see this crazy Scottish contest for yourself, click here: http://www.goldenspurtle.com/

Now…to get started on next year’s winning recipe….

Read Full Post »

Enchilada Class

I don’t know about your part of the world, but round these parts enchiladas are a very personal thing. People have strong opinions and family traditions. I have four different recipes in my personal repertoire but, as with cute shoes, one can never have enough. So when Vikki called to say she was teaching her brother’s friends how to make her family’s enchiladas and did I want to come over, I jumped at the chance.

Upon arrival I was greeted with one of George’s fabulous margarita (don’t worry, that recipe will be in the next post) and a houseful of would-be enchilada makers.

Class is now in session!

These guys are all super smart…but not necessarily experienced at cooking. Fortunately, Vikki spent years as a Special Ed teacher, so she’s used to explaining things clearly and repeatedly.

Vikki in teaching mode

Listen up: this is serious stuff, people.

There were engineering types (very detail oriented) in the group, so she had to be very specific about ingredients and brands.

“These are tortillas…”

Everyone had their own station; each student made a small batch of enchiladas to take home.

Hard at work.

And here’s how it’s done. You take these:
Refried beans and enchilada sauce


Yes, it’s lard. Deal with it. It really does make a difference in the taste.

meat, rice, and beans

Rice & beans recipes coming in the next post.

Soften the tortillas in the melted lard, apply ingredients, and roll, then cover with shredded cheese and any bits of goodness that didn’t make it inside:

tortilla frying

Just get them hot and roll-able, not crispy.

They boys worked with great intensity, and proudly displayed their work. (I missed getting a couple of pics; there were 5 total students in class.)
Then, as the conversation turned from enchilada creation to the appropriate weapon to have on hand for protection during the inevitable zombie apocalypse, Vikki and I collaborated to whip together a big ol’ batch of enchiladas for dinner in about a quarter of the time, but then, we’re old hands at enchilada making. Shortly thereafter, the assemblage fell on enchiladas, rice, & beans like starving wolves and demolished it all in mere minutes.My hands were too greasy to take pictures at that point, but while we’re on the topic of cameras, check out Doug’s!

It’s a camera, but…

…it’s really an iPhone!

So that you, too, can be prepared for zombies: the conclusion was a shotgun. It has the necessary power to blow a zombie’s head off without the need for precision aiming and can be deployed at a distance. A machete and a sword also made the list, but due to the proximity needed to use them, the shotgun ranked higher.

And so that you, too, can make these delicious enchiladas, here’s the recipe from Vikki! (Recipes for Margaritas, Refried Beans, Mexican Rice coming in the next post.)

Granny Hilbun’s Enchiladas

Corn tortillas (I used Mission brand)
Ground chuck (I used Angus, 20% fat content)
Taco Seasoning (I used Fiesta brand)
Manteca (Lard) (Ok, you can use vegetable oil, but they won’t be Granny’s)
Diced onion (dice your own or buy pre diced at your local grocery store)
Shredded cheese (I used Kroger “Mexican Blend”)
Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce, mild

You will also need:

• Oven heated to 350° F
• A skillet of some type to fry your beef and heat the Manteca so you can soften the tortillas. I used an electric skillet heated to 350° F for the tortillas and an iron skillet set on medium heat for the beef
• Kitchen tongs to pick up the softened tortillas (Editor’s note: I find this easier with a spatula, myself)
• Spoons for the enchilada sauce, manteca, fillings and taking beef out of skillet
• 2 medium to large mixing bowls, one for raw beef, one for cooked beef
• Paper towels
• Large surface to roll the enchiladas, we used sheet pans to contain any stray goodness, a cookie sheet will also work
• Bowls to put your ingredients in so you can use a assembly line approach to filling
• An oven container to put the rolled enchiladas in for heating up and melting cheese

Ground Beef:

1. Place beef in a bowl large enough to accommodate your beef with room to mix beef and taco seasoning.
2. Add 1 tablespoon taco seasoning for each pound of ground beef
3. Mix thoroughly, clean hands are best for this
4. In your skillet, heated to “medium” heat, place a large spoonful of manteca, let melt
5. Put ground beef in skillet and let cook. Break up beef as it cooks, you want the beef to cook but not fry. Remove cooked beef to bowl lined with paper towels


1. Heat enough Manteca in the skillet to cover the bottom of the pan.
2. Place 1 tortilla at a time in the Manteca; wait to count of 5, turn over count to 3 or so. Tortillas may start to “bubble”.
3. At this point remove tortilla with tongs, place on sheet pan or similar surface.
4. Spoon enchilada sauce over the tortilla. A good tablespoon (3 teaspoons) will be fine.
5. Fill with meat, cheese and onion as your taste dictates
6. Distribute fillings evenly down the middle of the tortilla
7. Roll tortilla around filling
8. Place enchilada, seam side down, in container that will go into oven
9. When all the enchiladas are finished put remainder of filling ingredients over them. Sauce, cheese, onion and any stray bits that are on the sheet pan
10. Put in oven preheated to 350° F
11. Set timer for 8 minutes, check to see that cheese on top has melted. If you are reheating refrigerated enchiladas in the oven, increase the reheat time. Check at 12-15 minutes.

Read Full Post »

Pierogi Party


One of my office co-workers, Asia (that’s pronounced “Ah-sha” in case you were thinking she was named after a continent), is originally from Poland. Last week our Polish princess brought in a batch of pierogi made by her mother, who is currently visiting the U.S. Pierogi, in case you have not experienced this delicacy, are a stuffed dumpling kind of thing. Think Polish ravioli. They were fabulous, so of course we wanted to know how to make them. And who better to teach us than a genuine Polish grandma?

Hence the Pierogi Party. We gathered at my place as I have an excellent kitchen for demo purposes; that’s one reason I chose this house. Before the demo we gathered for a Q&A session (via translator) about the nature of pierogi and various filling options. Then it was time for the show. Danuta (Asia’s mom) and Asia had previously made the potato filling (mashed potatoes with cream cheese and onions, chilled, then formed into balls), so all that was needed was the pierogi dough.

The ingredients are kind of complicated, so you might want to write this down, OK. Here they are:
milk & flour

Yep. Milk (we used 2%) and flour (all purpose). That’s it. Two ingredients: Milk. Flour. It was a 3-1 ratio; Danuta mixed up 6 cups of flour and 2 cups of hot milk to make the dough, which netted us 48 potato and about a dozen blueberry. She kneaded until it was “right” (basically an elastic, shiny dough) then rolled it out.

rolling out dough

It was a little tricky finding the right size “cutter”. . . apparently every drinking vessel I own is the same size. But the next step is to cut out dough circles, then take a ball of filling . . .

potato filling

Balls of potato filling

(which, by the way, are a heaping tablespoon each)

One ball, one tablespoon

Probably about 2 tablespoons, really.

Then said filling is placed on a dough circle, which is then stretched around it and pinched shut. It’s very important to get a good seal, lest the filling leak out into the pot of water while boiling.
close up of filled pierogi

Soon we were all trying our hand at stretching and squeezing. Danuta allowed as how we did pretty well for a group of non-polish newbies. At least, that’s what Asia said she said; Danuta doesn’t speak English so we had to communicate via interpreter.

making pierogi

Next the little bundles of goodness are dusted with flour (to keep them from sticking to anything while they’re on deck) and popped into a big pot of boiling salted water that also has a dash of oil in it. Again, that’s to help ward off potential stickiness.

Once they pop up to the top of the pan instead of resting on the bottom, they need to cook for another 3-5 minutes. You just have to pull one out after 3 minutes and test for doneness. Then out they come!

Asia at the stove

Asia & her pierogi

At this point you can fry them in a little oil until golden brown and delicious, or slap them on a plate and top with sauteed onions. We did both, because that’s just how we roll. Serve with sour cream and enjoy!

Pierogi party

We also made some blueberry pierogi. I took some frozen blueberries, added brown sugar and a generous dash of cinnamon, stirred it together and used that as filling. No, I didn’t measure a darn thing. We ate those with a sprinkling of sugar and sour cream, and they were so good we snarfed down about half of them before I thought to count the output. They tasted like . . . breakfast. Which is handy, because there are enough left over for me to have for breakfast tomorrow. And I will. So there.

Here’s the recipe, which includes the various filling options we discussed. Some of it is a little vague, but what the heck. It’s pockets of dough made from flour and milk, filled with stuff, and boiled. Fill in the blanks any way you like.

Russet Potatoes – 2 lb
Peel, boil, in salt water, mash, let cool.
2 8 oz cream cheese (lite – Neufchatel is best for texture) (or farmer’s cheese + 2 T sour cream)
1 medium onion, diced, sautéed in oil (not olive oil)
Salt & pepper to taste

Cool. Roll into 1-inch balls & refrigerate. Best made the day before.

Fresh: wash, dry, & use. If sour, sprinkle with sugar before closing

Sweet Farmer’s Cheese

Farmer’s Cheese, 1 egg yolk, sugar & vanilla. Mix together.

Mix pork & beef (good pieces – butt/shoulder from pig, sirloin or tips from cow)
Salt, pepper, bay leaf – boil. Grind medium. (can grind onion & garlic into meat) Fry with onion; spice as needed.

Sauerkraut & Wild Mushroom
Polish Sauerkraut (no vinegar)
Dried polish mushrooms (soak in water overnight to hydrate then boil in that water until done al dente)
Cook sauerkraut (boil in a little water, enough so it doesn’t stick, about an hour)
Chop or grind together (after draining) Add onion when grinding
Fry; add salt & pepper to taste


Put big pan of water on to boil, add salt & dash of oil
6 cups flour, sifted
2 cups milk (2%) hot (not scalded, 2 minutes in my microwave)
Mix together with hands. When it sticks together, turn out onto lightly floured board & knead. Dough will appear dry. When it doesn’t stick to your fingers & makes a shiny dough, it’s done.

Cut circles from dough. Stretch around ball of filling & pinch edges closed. If necessary, add a drop of water to help edges stick, but this is not recommended. Sprinkle with flour so they don’t stick to counter.

Add pierogi to water which has been brought to a rolling boil, about 10 for my pot. They’ll drop to the bottom. When they bob to the surface, cook another 3-5 minutes. Thicker dough takes longer. Pull one to test after 3 minutes.

Can be cooled and frozen separately on a tray, then bagged. When ready to eat, add frozen pierogi to boiling water & cook as if they were newly made.

Serve with sour cream and/or sautéed onions.

Read Full Post »