How to Fry Meatballs

Meatballs is a delicious dish that is both satisfying and versatile. Meatballs can be eaten by themselves, on a sandwich, or with pasta, to name a few. In addition to their versatility, meatballs are relatively simple to make. The two most common ways to make meatballs (Italian meatballs) are baking and frying. Baking is a littler more forgiving because there is less of a risk of burning and of serving greasy meatballs. However, frying meatballs can give them a nice crust that cannot be achieved by baking. As such, frying, in my opinion, produces a tastier meatball. With that in mind, here are some tips to remember when frying meatballs so that they come develop a nice crust, stay moist, and not become greasy:

Use a High Temperature Oil

 Olive oil is very common in Italian cuisine, but it is not a good oil with which to fry. Olive oil has a low smoke point (which means is smokes a lower temperature than other oils) and as such, will need to be changed more often and can develop some pretty terrible flavors if it reaches too high a temperature. As such, your best bet is vegetable oil, sunflower oil, or peanut oil. (If you have any peanut allergies, it is best to stay away from peanut oil). Although these other oils do not have the wonderful flavor of olive oil, your meatballs will cook better with these other oils.

Do Not Crowd Your Cooking Vessel

 A common mistake made by home cooks is that they crowd their pan when trying to fry. Putting too much food into your pan will drop the temperature of your oil. When your oil temperature drops too low, your run the risk of producing greasy food. Greasy food occurs when the oil in the pan is not hot enough to turn the water inside your food into steam. As such, oil seeps into your food and stays there. However, when the oil in your pan is hot enough to turn the water inside your food into steam, the steam escaping from your food pushes out and thus prevents oil from seeping in. Therefore, your food does not become greasy. This is known as a “dry fry.” If you want to produce a “dry fry,” space your food out and only do small batches at a time. This way, your oil temperature will not drop below the “greasy point.”

Do Not Put Too Much Oil in Your Cooking Vessel

 Another common mistake with home cooks is that they use too much oil in the pan. When you put food into your pan, the oil level will rise. As such, too much oil in your pan can cause an overflow. Hot oil falling onto your cook top and possible onto you is always a bad situation. Therefore, make sure that the oil in your pan does not pass the halfway point. By keeping the oil level in your cooking vessel at or below the halfway point, you can almost guarantee that the pan will not overflow.

Do Not Put the Meatballs Into the Oil Until it is Hot

 As stated above, frying food in oil that is not hot enough will produce greasy food. As such, make sure the oil is hot enough before you try to fry. You can test the temperature of the oil by sprinkling a tiny bit of bread crumbs into the oil to see if they start to immediately bubble and fry. Additionally, oil that is ready will look wispy and thin in your pan. Use this test and look for these signs before you start frying.

Follow these tips and you can produce mouthwatering meatballs that you, your friends, and your family will love.

Categories: Cooking

How to Make Banana Cake

Many people enjoy eating homemade baked goods; therefore, how to make a great banana cake is a plus for any one to learn. Banana Cake is a versatile recipe that is relatively simple to do. Generally, it comes out extremely moist and delicious. You can top it with a variety of frosting such as chocolate, cream cheese, or just a plain white, fluffy frosting. The batter can be utilized in a 9 X 13 cake pan, 8-inch round pans or a cupcake pan. It is for these reasons that this recipe is extremely versatile.

Once you’ve made the decision to bake this type of cake, there are several ingredients you will need to acquire. They include the following:

     * all-purpose flour – 3 cups

     * baking soda – 1 1/2 tsp.

     * salt – pinch

     * bananas – 4 to 5, ripened and mashed

     * lemon juice – 2 tsp.

     * butter (not margarine) – 3/4 cup, softened (cake) & 1/2 cup, softened (frosting)

     * sugar – 2 cups

     * eggs – 3

     * vanilla – 2 tsp.(cake) & 1 tsp. (frosting)

     * buttermilk – 1 1/2 cups

     * cream cheese (if using cream cheese frosting) – use 8 oz. package

     * confectioner’s sugar (10X sugar) – 3 1/2 cups

     * chopped walnuts (optional) – 1/2 cup

After your trip to the grocery store, it will be time to get down to business.

You’ll begin by measuring out your ingredients. The following recipe will make a 9 X 13 pan, two 8-inch pans or 12 cupcakes, whichever you choose to make. Once you’ve got your pans greased, set them aside and preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

After all of the ingredients have been prepared, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt; then, set aside.

Mix the bananas and lemon juice together and set this aside also.

Next, cream together the butter and the sugar.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla.

You’ll want to get your flour mixture which you had previously set aside earlier. Alternately add it with the buttermilk, stirring in between.

Lastly, stir in the banana and lemon juice mixture that was set aside before

Get your already prepared pans and pour the batter into them. Set your timer for one hour or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Once they are done, take out of the oven and put directly into the freezer for about 40 to 45 minutes. This will cause your cake to taste good and moist.

The last step is to frost your banana cake. For the purpose of this instruction, I’ve included a recipe for cream cheese frosting; however, as stated previously, your banana cake will also taste delicious if you choose to use chocolate or white frosting, so feel free to use whichever you like best. Although, if you are planning on utilizing cream cheese frosting, your next step is to cream together the butter and the cream cheese until its smooth in consistency. Then, add the vanilla and confectioner’s sugar; continue to beat the mixture until it is smooth. After frosting your cooled cake, you can sprinkle the chopped walnuts on top if you wish; otherwise, it will taste great without them as well.

Categories: Cooking

How to Freeze Blueberries

Kids love to pick blueberries. In fact, BLUEBERRIES FOR SAL, by Robert McCloskey, is a perennial favorite picture book in our family. Every summer, we load up the whole clan and head for the blueberry patch. Everyone gets a pail, and we race to see who can fill up first.

Pick a few. Eat a few. Pick a few more. You get the picture.

Besides gobbling berries till our gums turn blue, we enjoy our bounty in many ways.

We whip up blueberry buckle, blueberry cobbler, blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, blueberry waffles, and more. We top our morning cornflakes with blueberries. We munch on fruit salad for lunch. At night, in our pajamas, we eat ice cream with blueberries.

When we have plenty, we line little baskets with colorful fabrics or bandannas and fill them with blueberries. After tying the tops with pretty bows, we deliver these to friends and neighbors. Still, we usually have a substantial supply!

We like to freeze and save our indigo treasures for those dark wintry days, when store-bought blueberries fetch sky-high prices in the produce department. On Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter, we look forward to hot blueberry muffins, using my great-grandmother’s recipe. (Look for the recipe here on HELIUM!)

How to freeze blueberries

For the best results, extra berries should be frozen as soon as possible. Once they begin to soften, it is impossible to bring them back.

Wash your blueberries lightly before freezing. (Frozen berries are more fragile than fresh ones, so you absolutely will not want to wash them afterwards.)

Fill a large bowl or tub with cool water, and gently bob the berries in it. Pick out any leaves, stems, and soggy or spoiled berries.

Lay two layers of soft paper toweling on a counter or table. Drain berries, and spread them out in a single layer. Blot tenderly with additional paper towels.

Line a jelly roll pan or baking sheet with waxed paper. Place blueberries on waxed paper in a single layer. Freeze until firm (or overnight).

Pour frozen berries gently into plastic freezer containers or zippered bags. (Look for freezer bags, rather than plain plastic bags, as these heavier ones protect best against freezer burn.) Gently squeeze all extra air out of the bags before sealing, without pressing on your sweet berries.

Label bags or containers with contents and date. Frozen blueberries can last six months to a year, certainly long enough to last until the next picking season!

How to use frozen blueberries

Frozen berries can be added directly to batter for muffins, cakes, cobblers, or other items. Toss berries in flour to coat them lightly before adding them to the mix. Then fold frozen berries in as your last ingredient, and stir gently before pouring batter into baking pans.

Frozen berries are ideal for jams, toppings, and pie fillings. Thaw berries before using, if you want a softer, runnier consistency. If you wish for your berries to retain their roundness, try to use them while they are still frozen and intact.

If you plan to add frozen berries to salads or use them as garnish or adornments, you will want to thaw them first. Place frozen berries in a single layer on a plate, and let them sit on the counter until they have softened.

Do not microwave berries to thaw them, unless you want then to be soggy!

Above all, treat your berries tenderly, so they do not become mushy or bleed out their juices and flavoring.

You can freeze other kinds of berries too!

Follow the same steps for blackberries, boysenberries, cranberries, gooseberries, loganberries, raspberries, strawberries, and more!

Categories: Cooking

How to Make a Super Crusty Sugar Topping on Crme Brulee

In the world of well-known international desserts, one of the best loved and popular for following a formal dinner is crème brulee. The reason for this is its lightness of texture, and the fact that it sweetens the mouth, without being overly indulgent. This French dessert features in most French restaurants, since the emphasis of the meal is on the courses that precede the dessert. The dessert is the “icing on the cake” and intended to give the diner a wonderful  taste of something extra special. 

The difficulty comes when learning to produce this dessert for the first time. The investment in a kitchen blow torch will be a wise one. Although crème brulee can be produced with a broiler, the torch does the trick French style and gives an amazingly crusty finish, as well as the contrast between hot and cold sweetness.

Choosing the right sugar

If you use granulated sugar, the results you will obtain will be disappointing. As any French chef knows, the sugar used needs to be finer than this, though still white. Castor sugar or fine sugar is certainly the choice in France. This proves much easier to manipulate into place and is perfect for the torch to caramelize easily and evenly.

Preparing the crème brulee

The crème brulee is prepared and placed into ramekins in advance. This process is simple and an easy recipe for the crème can be found here, from Martha Stewart.

Preparing the crust for the crème brulee

Sugar is placed on the top of the prepared ramekins, and it will be noticed straight away that this will not be even. Take the ramekin into your hand and lightly shake it, so that the coating of sugar is even all over the crème preparation.

Preparing to flambé the sugar

Be sure that you have an oven mitt or that you have a heatproof cloth, as this will be needed to turn the ramekin as you work. Light the torch and work on the sugar coating until it turns a great shade of caramel, moving the ramekin around gently while you flambé the rest of the sugar coating. There should be no burns, just simply an even golden color.

A kitchen blow torch is a good investment and can also be used for meringue dishes, to give an extra crisp finish. The best thing about crème brulee is that the first crackle produced by the spoon of the person eating it is what determines your success at producing one of France’s major desserts correctly. The sugar should crackle, and lead to the smooth creamy custard preparation beneath it. To get even better results, leave the crisping up of the sugar until just before serving the dish, having placed the ramekins into a cool shelf in the fridge. This ensures that the combination of warmth and coolness is perfect when the crème brulees are served to guests.

Other methods may have been used such as grilling or broiling, though the best results come from that extra bit of attention paid individually to the dessert using a hand blow torch. This really is the best way to create the crust that people love, and which reminds them  of that sunny afternoon in the French Riviera. Even if they haven’t been, at least they will have had a taste of what French cuisine at its best is all about.

Categories: Cuisine and Food

How to Freeze and Store Bing Cherries

For cherry lovers, enjoyment of these delightful treats doesn’t have to end when the season does. Savor cherries all year long by using a simple storage technique that will help preserve the flavor and texture. Although you can use the following method to store any type of cherry, this article will focus on Bing cherries because they are very commonly found in supermarkets throughout the United States.

To preserve your cherries for as long as possible, and to keep their flavor and texture intact, freezing them is perhaps the best storing method that you can use. Bing cherries make great frozen cherries because they are large, juicy, and keep their shape well. They are also popular because they have a great combination of sweet and tart flavors.

First, you will need to clean the cherries in preparation for freezing them. Cleaning the cherries now will eliminate the time needed to clean them later. When you want to bake a pie or cobbler with them, you don’t want to have to pick through them to pit them or pull out stems. Cleaned cherries will be ready to go when you are. Pull the stems out gently and then use a cherry pitter to remove the pits. Although you can use some other technique such as a paring knife to pit the cherries, a cherry pitter is inexpensive and it saves you time. Be sure to put the cherries in a glass bowl because they will stain plastic. Put a kitchen towel over any porous surface when you are pitting cherries.

Now that the cherries are pitted and de-stemmed, it’s time to start putting them into bags. Place the cherries on a baking sheet so that each cherry will freeze. This way, you won’t have a big clump of cherries in your bag. Once each cherry is frozen, pour them into resealable bags so that you can use just a portion of a bag if you want to. Remember to label each bag as follows: the name of the cherry (Bing); the date when you cleaned and put them into the freezer; and any other information that will help identify each bag. For example, you might want to write “pie cherries” on one bag, and “cherry jam” on another, or leave that part blank if you don’t yet know how you will use the cherries.

Cherries can be kept frozen indefinitely, as long as they are in a working freezer that does not defrost for more than 24 hours (this is true for most anything in the freezer). When you freeze your Bing cherries, you can enjoy them even in the middle of winter!

Categories: Cuisine and Food

How to Make a Simple Pork Sausage at Home

There are probably as many ways to make sausage as there are recipes for its use, it is one of life’s most savory meat and spice mixtures. Making a great tasting sausage at home is not hard and most anyone can prepare a mouthwatering sausage in no time. Here are hints and tips for you to consider if you want to make sausage at home.

Sausage is a meat item that sits comfortably at the kitchen table for breakfast, simmers peacefully in stews and soups for lunch and can dress-up and be presentable at a formal dinner, coming of course within a tray of appetizers or nestled in a velvety wine reduction.

All over the world, there are different kinds of sausage with names like Boudin, Chorizo, and Country Sausage. They come fresh, smoked, linked, made into patties, brown & serve and even sweet and savory maple flavored, just to name a few.

Hint: If you are a novice sausage maker, then start with this basic method and move on up to the famous Boudin if you get a hankering for more heat and flavor.

-Basic Recipes

4 lbs. Fresh pork meat with a ratio of *fat to meat of one third fat and one third lean meat

2 tsp. rubbed sage

4 tsp. rough salt (kosher, sea)

3 tsp. crushed black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well incorporated. Form into 4 oz. patties and package in one lb. zip lock bags. Arrange sausage patties in two layers, separated by appropriately sized sheets of waxed paper. Alternatively, this sausage can be packed into casings to make links.

Tip:It is much easier to leave the sausage “Bulk,” to portion and refrigerate or freeze.

To make this basic recipe into a hot, spicy Tex-Mex type of sausage; make the following changes to the basic recipe:

-New Mexican Chorizo

Meat to fat ratio should be one-half fat to one-half meat

4 tsp. crushed black pepper

4 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 1/2 tbsp. ground red chili flakes

4 tsp. tequila or cider vinegar

1 tbsp. minced cilantro

Omit rubbed sage

Proceed with the directions above to combine. Make into links, or patties and keep refrigerated until used.

Cajun/Creole sausage from Louisiana is made using rice, liver, pork meat and the trinity vegetable combination. (Onions, celery and green peppers)

-Cajun Boudin

Use the basic recipe and make these changes: Omit sage and additional pork fat.

The ground pork meat and pork liver are simmered together with the trinity vegetables of green pepper, onion and celery until the meat is fall apart tender and then all is drained.

Then lots of cooked brown rice, minced green onions, fresh parsley, red pepper flakes, and hot Cajun seasonings are ground together and cooking juices are added for just the right texture before putting into casings. These are cooked according to personal preference.

No matter where you live, it is easy to make fantastic sausage at home. Think back in time, there were no meat markets or grocery stores; all these fabulous meats were homemade. And you can do it too.

Remember to keep sausage as well as life simple and delightfully savory!

*The “Fat” in these recipes is either beef suet or fresh, trimmed pork fat, available at any meat counter.

Categories: Cooking

How to Fold Wontons for different Types of Recipes

Wontons can be folded in a variety of shapes that range from utilitarian to decorative. The best way to fold wontons will depend on how they are going to be cooked, and the way they will be presented. Wontons served in soup should be folded as simply as possible, since it is likely the skins will suffer tears and stretching when they are cooked. Wontons that will be steamed can be folded into simple designs, but any shape with loose edges will end up looking misshapen. Fried wontons are the most versatile. With careful cooking, most folded shapes will stand up well to frying. The folds described in this article are meant for square wonton skins.

No matter how wontons will be cooked, they must be folded so the filling is sealed in the skin. If they are not properly sealed, the filling will leak out into the water or oil leaving you with empty wontons and a big mess. Traditionally, egg yolk is used to moisten the edges of wonton skins and seal them together. For people who don’t eat eggs, water serves as a good substitute. However, water is not as sticky, and doesn’t cook into a cement like egg yolk. To make water into a little bit better glue, it sometimes helps to add a little flour or cornstarch to it. If you opt for water, be sure to press the edges together firmly to ensure a good seal.

1. Basic triangle

The most basic fold is a simple triangle. It is made by moistening two adjacent sides of the skin. Fold the skin in half, corner to corner, making a triangle. Seal. Several other shapes use the triangle as a base.

2. Crown

From a triangle, wontons can be folded into the crown shape often seen in restaurants. Simply moisten the tip of one corner of the folded edge and fold it towards the center of the triangle. Bring the other corner in to meet it, and press them together.

3. Three-point crown

This shape is also based on the triangle. Moisten a point about halfway up one sealed edge. Moisten the back of the same edge slightly lower than the spot on the front. Make an accordion fold in the edge and press to seal the fold. Repeat on the other sealed edge. This should make a wonton that has three points sticking up.

4. Flower

Moisten about two-thirds of two adjacent edges of an unfolded wonton skin, skipping the tips. Fold the skin in half, but adjust the tips so they are off center from each other. Moisten the inside edges, if needed, to cover any holes. The wonton should have six points in a rough fan shape.

5. Mini egg roll

To make your wonton look like a mini egg roll, begin by turning the skin so it resembles a diamond. Place the filling in a rough cylinder about two-thirds of the way to the tip nearest you. Fold that tip over the filling, allowing it to overlap onto the inside surface of the skin a little. Pull the corner and filling to you to tighten the roll. Fold the sides in, trying to keep them tight and even. Moisten the remaining inside edges. Roll the filling and folded edges towards the remaining tip, keeping the shape firm and even. Press the whole shape with your hands to seal. Allow it to rest on the outside sealed edge while making the rest of the wontons.

The last three shapes described here are best suited for frying. They are more delicate than the other shapes, and may not stand up well to deep fryers. Instead, pan-fry them in oil deep enough to cover all but the very top of the wontons. Spoon hot oil over them to cook the tops.

6. Envelope

This fold is a bit harder to execute, and takes a little practice. Fold one tip of an unfolded skin over the filling in the center. This will be the bottom of the envelope. Moisten the adjacent edges of the side points. Fold them in, and press the moist edges onto the bottom of the envelope. The wonton should look like an open envelope. Moisten both edges of the top flap. Fold it down to overlap the sides and press to seal.

7. Purse

To make beautiful purses, draw a rough circle around the filling in the center of a wonton skin with a generous amount of yolk or water. Bring all the edges up, like a sack. Twist the edges gently, and press very firmly to seal.

8. Candy wrapper

To begin, place the wonton skin so that it is squared off to you. Place the filling in a rough cylinder about two-thirds of the way towards the bottom edge of the skin. Moisten a line along each side of the skin, about a half-inch from the edge. Fold the bottom edge of the skin over the filling, and pull it towards you lightly to tighten. Use your hands to make the roll even. Moisten the top edge of the skin. Roll the wonton into a cylinder, sealing along the top edge. Pinch each end of the cylinder at about the moistened line on the inside. Twist the ends gently, and press firmly to seal.

With a little practice, wontons can be made into beautiful appetizers that make an attractive and tasty addition to meals. For wonton recipes and cooking instructions, please refer to related articles.

Categories: Cuisine and Food

How to make an easy caramel sauce from scratch

Nowadays, providing a caramel sauce for topping off your favorite dessert is as easy as going to the grocery store. Usually sold in jars or pouches, it is often a quick alternative to making your own. But what if making it was almost as easy as buying it? With a little know-how and only five ingredients, you can make your own caramel sauce at home from scratch, and there is no need to worry about preservatives or funny aftertastes. Just think of how impressed your dinner guests will be when you tell them that you made it yourself!

Caramel sauce is technically classified as a form of candy making, as you need to bring the mixture up to a specific temperature. In this case – the soft ball stage, which is generally between 112-115°F. However, it is quite simple to get the mixture to that temperature without actually needing a candy thermometer, as you can usually guess when it’s done just based off of thickness alone. Most folks know what the consistency of caramel should be like – it is rather similar to the thickness of molasses or honey. Once it gets to that stage, it’s safe to say that it’s done.

First, we’ll start with the tools in which you will need – a medium saucepan, preferably a heavy bottomed one so that your caramel will not burn; a wooden spoon; measuring cups; and measuring spoons.

Now that you have a bit of knowledge as to what a caramel sauce is and what tools you will need, it’s time to finally get started with the list of ingredients:

Easy Caramel Sauce

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
4 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

In the saucepan over medium heat, mix together the brown sugar, whipping cream, butter, and sea salt. Stir constantly for about 6 or 7 minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken. At this point, add the vanilla extract and continue to cook for another minute or two, stirring gently. When adding the vanilla, be careful – the mixture will sputter and foam up a bit. When the caramel has reached your desired thickness, turn off the heat and let the mixture cool. When it has cooled, you may store it in a glass mason jar and refrigerate.

Keep in mind, when you refrigerate your caramel, it will thicken more as it cools. To thin its consistency, you may feel free to add water (if you’re using it cold) or if you would prefer it warm, then gently heat it either by using a double boiler or heavy bottomed saucepan on your stove or by simply putting the desired amount into a glass dish and heating in the microwave for under 10 seconds.

Caramel sauce is a great addition to any dessert, hot or cold, and is also great drizzled in beverages or used as a garnish. If you ask me, a bit of warm caramel sauce drizzled over rich vanilla ice cream and topped with a little coarse sea salt is absolutely divine. Give it a try, and enjoy!

Categories: Cooking

How to Fold a Napkin into a Basic Silverware Pouch

Beauty and utility combine, as you create these two simple napkin pouches. Each of these two designs offers a traditional and tidy look on your dining table. This folded napkin design is also ideal for a buffet. As host or hostess, you can offer an entire place setting of silverware in a neat package for your guests to pick up quickly, as they proceed through your serving line.

The square pouch

Lay a fabric napkin flat, decorative side down, on a counter or table.

Fold the napkin in half, left to right, so that the fold runs up and down on your left side and the selvages (edges) are on your right.

Fold the bottom edge upwards about 3″ to 4″ (depending on the size of your napkin).

Fold it up again 3′ to 4″ to form a pocket across the front.

Turn the left- and right-hand edges under, tucking one into the other to secure them together. It’s as simple as that!

The triangle pouch

Lay a fabric napkin flat, decorative side down, on a counter or table.

Fold the napkin, bottom towards the top, placing the lower edge 2/3 from the top. Crease along the new bottom edge.

Fold the top 1/3 down over this section. Crease along the new top edge.

Fold lengthwise, left to right, to locate the centerline. Open out again.

Fold the left end down, along the centerline, and crease. Repeat this with the right end as well. The left and right edges will meet at the centerline, forming a little log cabin shape.

Carefully flip the entire napkin over, being careful not to unfold any of your work. Place the point facing away from you.

The top triangle will leave a small strip of surplus fabric along the bottom. Fold this up over the bottom of the triangle area. At this point, your napkin will look like a little pirate hat. (If you are having a pirate themed party, you may wish to stop at this point.)

Fold the left and right corners toward the middle. Tuck the edges of one into the other to fasten them. That’s it!

Displaying your silverware pouch

Place the entire folded package on your dining table or buffet. Stick a place setting of silverware, a fresh or silk flower, a candy cane, a sprig of spruce or holly, a place card or another appropriate party favor into the pocket.

Your table will look festive and formal!

Note: Generally, napkins made of stiffer fabrics form the neatest folds. Brand-new napkins always look sharp. Laundered ones should be ironed and starched for the best effect. High-quality paper napkins may also be used, once you master the technique, but cloth ones really work the best.

How to Make Gravy from Scratch

Gravy is easy to make, and making it from scratch is easier than using a commercial starter.  These instructions are for those who cook meat on the stove top, in a frying pan.  The starting point of the gravy-making is also the starting point of the meat-cooking, so these instructions begin at the beginning. 

This method can work with many different meats, so the recipe starts with a favorite, New York steak.  Take a thick steak, and score it deeply on one side, (going half-way through the meat is fine) using several cuts across the meat surface.  Turn the steak over, and cut shallower scores in a different direction.  Revert to the original side to work with the deep cuts.  Cut a small garlic clove into really small pieces, the smaller the better, and hide the garlic pieces in the score cuts.  Leaving a few garlic pieces on the meat surface is fine, too.  Sprinkle basil liberally over the surface of the meat on the deep-cut side.

Take a generous slice of butter, and melt it over a high flame in the bottom of a frying pan.  (Teflon works fine, just about any surface will do.)  When the butter is melted, and before it burns, put the steak in the frying pan, deep-cut side down.  Shake a spice bottle of paprika before opening it, to loosen up the contents, and sprinkle paprika on the shallow cut surface that is on top at this point.  Let the steak sizzle for two minutes, but not so long that it starts smoking a lot, so that a moisture seal is formed on the surface of the steak.  Turn it over and let the paprika form its own seal on the other side, and then turn the heat way down, so that the inside of the steak cooks slowly for a few minutes. 

This is a great quick dinner.  If you have left-over rice, pop it in the microwave with a tiny bit of water, and if you have some frozen peas, put a little bit of water in a small sauce pan and cook them until the steak is done.  Depending on the thickness of the meat, seven to twelve minutes is max cooking time for the steak.  If the steak is really thick, you might turn it over for a couple of minutes if you don’t like it really rare.

Remove the steak from the frying pan and pour water into the pan, just enough to cover the bottom.  Using a Teflon pancake-turner, mix the water with the steak juices and spices. Lightly sprinkle flour (rice flour works well for those of you who are allergic to wheat) into the mix, and and stir.  Add more water, stirring all the time.  The gravy thickens quickly, so add as much water as you like, and stop when you have enough.  The author likes it medium-thick, but you have total control over the thickness as long as you pay close attention, and realize that it will be a lot thicker when it cools down a little bit. 

Dinner for two?  Cut the steak in half, and serve the gravy in a boat.  It shouldn’t need more spices, but pepper is nice sometimes.  Dinner for one?  Put the other half of the meat in the fridge, and have a nice lunch at work tomorrow.  The gravy perks up nicely in the microwave with a little water, so save it in it’s own little container, and it will stretch for as long as the meat that inspired it lasts.

Categories: Cooking