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KitchenEncounters
Melanie's Kitchen, Boalsburg, PA 16827
Experienced cooking consultant, instructor and recipe developer. PS: The subscriber/follower feature on this blog does not work. I've tried to work it out with typepad to no avail. Every time I get several hundred, the system turns it back to zero. I have lots of followers. Life's a beach. Follow me, Melanie Preschutti on Facebook. Have a nice day.
Interests: Teaching and inspiring people of any level of expertise to enjoy cooking great food of any cuisine.
Recent Activity
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Would you like fries with that? If your answer is yes, but you secretly, or not-so-secretly, want to taste more potato with a bit less crunch than you expect in an order of McD's-style shoestrings, or classic 1/2"-thick 3"-4"-long, square-tipped, box-cut, twice-fried French fries: the plump and planky, skin-on-or-off steakhouse-style steak-fry is for you. Not to be confused with steak-frites, a French dish consisting of a pan-fried rib-eye steak served with classic French fries, steak fries are an all-American term referring to thick-cut fries -- more similar to Britain's wedge-cut chips. When I was growing up, we adored my dad's... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Kitchen Encounters
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Lettuce is not a subject people get excited about. That said, everyone has a preference, nonchalantly placing their favorite variety in their shopping cart as they saunter through the produce department. In our present day food world, it's understandable to take this humble, fragile and perishable vegetable for granted, but, prior to the 1920's, that was not the case. Americans relied primarily on seasonal leaf lettuces that were grown in their gardens or sold in their local markets for their salads -- salad eating in the colder regions was a seasonal pleasure. Out of season, the cook relied on rugged... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Kitchen Encounters
Joanne -- You made my day. Thank-you for the kind feedback. ~ Melanie
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You can teach an old dog new tricks. As a gal, who, for the most part, prefers her vegetables cooked in some manner to enhance their flavor and texture, grilling lettuce was a technique I learned just a few short weeks ago. I haven't a clue why it eluded me for so long, except, in my own defense, I don't remember a chapter entitled The Art of Grilling Lettuce in my foodie manual. Grilling lettuce might not be for everyone. After all, we eat with our eyes, and our eyes have been trained to seek bright green, crisp. lettuce leaves.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
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Feel free to take your filet mignon into the great outdoors to cook it on the grill, but, I don't recommend it. Why? The filet, cut from the tenderloin and leanest, tenderest cut of beef, is the least likely to succeed over the dry, open flame of any seething-hot charcoal or gas grill grids. That said, indoors, on a grill pan, where it has a solid, steamy surface to sear itself above its own bubbling juices, the filet graduates at the head of its class -- with perfect, 4.0 grill marks too. 4, 8-9-ounce, 2"-thick USDA Choice Angus filet-mignon steaks.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
Susan -- Thank-you for the feedback, AND, thank-you for not tinkering before you tried the recipe as written. Millions of food bloggers all over the world appreciate cooks like yourself. ~ Melanie
Sharon -- If it is sliced thin, of course you can! ~ Melanie
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Over the past four decades, the classic Caesar salad has: #1) Become America's most popular main-dish salad; #2) Altered the lettuce industry, as the demand for romaine has skyrocketed, and: #3) Turned the chicken-topped Caesar salad into the chicken item most frequently found on restaurant menus -- even more than wings and chicken fingers. Now considered the all-American salad, it was in fact invented in Mexico in 1924 by an Italian-born immigrant to Mexico. Now considered the all-American salad, the Caesar was invented on July 4th, 1924, by an Italian-Mexican chef & co-owner of a restaurant in Tijuana, who emigrated... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
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I've heard it said that a restaurant is only as good as its Caesar salad and a Caesar salad is only as good as its dressing. A few decades ago, back in the 1970's, '80's and '90's, when people still had an appreciation for the snobbery of an elegant restaurant, that was true, and no one enjoyed the fanfare of watching a black-tied waiter prepare my Caesar salad, to my liking, at tableside, more than me. If a Caesar salad was on a restaurant menu, I ordered it. Nowadays -- not so much. In our present-day Olive Garden, Carrabba's atmosphere,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
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Not too big, not to small, not too hard, not to soft, buttery-rich and bold-flavored from plenty of black pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning, I make all sorts of croutons from scratch, and, while I often use firm-textured and rustic store-bought bread, I also make them using homemade bread, which I use my bread machine to bake. Being the Caesar salad snob that I am, without exception, I always bake my own bread for my croutons. Why? Because, just like store-bought dressings, I take Ceasar salad-making seriously, and, that means: no short cuts. Baking bread in the bread machine... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
Firoz -- You can substitute another acid, like vinegar or lemon juice, for the sake. As for the second part of your question, I am a bit confused. In answer to what I think you are asking: You are not velveting the marinated protein unless you immerse it in the water bath.
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Strawberry sauce. Drizzled on pancakes or waffles for breakfast, atop strawberry ice cream for dessert, or, used to flavor a strawberry milkshake, it's hard to find a person that doesn't love this sweet condiment. I'm not here to tell you it's hard or time-consuming to make strawberry topping from scratch -- it's not. That said, it can be made even easier without any compromise to the end result. As we all know, sometimes there simply aren't even enough minutes in the day to make everything completely from scratch. I am here to tell you, if you've got store-bought or homemade... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
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I rarely drink coffee, but when I do, a muffin is involved. The humbly-crumbly and not-too-sweet muffin is the perfect accompaniment to my steaming hot cup of caffeine laced with cream. In my muffin world, muffins are to be consumed for breakfast or brunch, bigger does not equate to better, mini-muffins miss the entire touchy-feely point, and, muffins containing chunks of fresh or dried fruit and/or toasted nuts are amongst my favorites -- even the most magnificent Chocolate-Chip Muffin top can't woo me away from an Apple, Raisin & Pecan Streusel Muffin. As a gal who considers a banana a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
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When it comes to ice-cream, store-bought or scratch-made, of the basic big-three choices, vanilla, chocolate or strawberry, strawberry is my favorite -- it always has been, even as a child. In my hometown, their's a place, Heisler's Cloverleaf Dairy, which, in my opinion makes the best strawberry ice-cream known to man- or woman-kind. Whether scooped into a bowl or onto a cone, it is always served at the perfect frozen-anything temperature. It's rich, creamy, not-too-sweet and full of bold-flavored bit's of to-the-tooth-textured strawberries -- not nasty clumps of ice. A bit about adding fresh fruit to ice-cream or frozen custard:... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
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Rich and creamy chocolate ice-cream. One dip or two, with or without bits of chocolate or sauce swirled throughout, it's almost impossible to resist. Kids love it, adults do too, and, I'm betting it's the favorite-flavor of at least one person in every family. No banana split would be complete without a dip of chocolate, and, it's a requirement when making the perfect double-chocolate shake or malt too. Whether it's firm scoops served in a bowl or swirls of soft-serve piled high atop a cone, the Summer heat is the perfect time to indulge in this cool and satisfying treat.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
Penny -- I was just thinking about you over the weekend (as I hadn't heard from you in a while). Hope all is well & you're enjoying your Summer. The only thing I can think of would be your Auntie used dark brown sugar (or even molasses) in place of some or all of the granulated sugar. It would give it a brownish-hue + a slightly molasses-y flavor -- I like the concept and my try it myself! Your PA friend, ~Mel.
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During June, July and August, we will all most likely eat more ice cream than we did during the past nine months. In my kitchen, during the next three months, I'll be making more than I did during the past nine too. Whatever flavor I've got churning, vanilla, chocolate or strawberry, everyone I know (myself included) will generically refer to it as ice cream. That said, what I'll technically be making is frozen custard, and, if you make homemade ice cream, I'm betting you're most likely making old-fashioned frozen custard (or a version of it), too. Read on. The difference... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
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Newsflash. Blue Bell, the Texas-based ice cream company, announced on Twitter, that its Southern Blackberry-Cobbler Ice Cream will be available in stores, for a limited time only, starting Monday, June 4th. This popular seasonal flavor consists of a creamy, blackberry-flavored vanilla ice cream with flaky pie crust pieces and blackberry sauce swirled throughout. Being a worshiper of the blackberry, under normal circumstances, this news would have caused me to race around town in an attempt to hoard as much of it as I could stuff into my freezer. It didn't. Why? Homemade blackberry-cobbler frozen custard + tips on adding fruit... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
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Blueberries are a fruit best served cooked. Simmer down and read on. When it comes to eating fresh, perfectly-ripe, high-quality, locally-grown berries hand-to-mouth, there are three seedier-types I enjoy more -- blackberries, strawberries and raspberries (in that order). I love blueberries, but, it's my opinion that the blueberry is enhanced by cooking. Given a choice, I'll choose the blueberry jam, blueberry pie or blueberry bread pudding over the bowl of fresh blueberries any day of the week -- they even taste better after the little bit of cooking they get in pancakes. Dare to be a buttery-rich & delicately-crumbly kind... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
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The definition of a stir-fry is straightforward: To fry small morsels of meat, poultry, fish, shellfish and/or vegetables rapidly, in a wok or skillet, over a high heat, in a small amount of oil or fat, while stirring constantly. The concept is an easy one to grasp. Stir-fries were invented by the Chinese, but, it was Chinese Cantonese chefs, who specialized in stir-frying, that were amongst the first to immigrate to other Asian and European countries, our USA, then countries all around the world, where, over a relatively short period of time, they put the word stir-fry in the global... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
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Here today, gone today. That's the lifespan of blackberries entering my kitchen. I've been told their dark color makes them really good for me -- even more antioxidants than blueberries. Rah-rah-sis-boom-bah, I'd eat them even if they were on on the not-so-good-for-me foods short list. When I buy a box of blackberries, I eat a box of blackberries. When I pick blackberries, they disappear on the walk to my kitchen door. I do not share blackberries -- well, maybe, probably I would, but, I've yet to be tested on this point. That said, because blackberries require no special treatment (peeling,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
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The incredible, edible egg. For centuries, the Chinese recognized how good the protein-packed egg is. So much so, eggs are their symbol of the principals-of-life: "yin" being the white, "yang" being the yolk.* Eggs, colored or marbled, celebrate birth, restoration of good health, continued good-luck and/or future prosperity. Dating back to ancient times, eggs of any kind (chicken, duck quail and pigeon) were incorporated into meals all day long (fluffy scrambled tomato eggs, flan-like steamed eggs, omelette-esque egg fu young, wispy egg drop soup, vinegary pickled eggs, tea-flavored smoked eggs, etc.), with mushrooms and/or seafood being common additions. *Note: Yin... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
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Sit down in any Chinese western-style restaurant in China, or, in any Chinese-American restaurant in the USA and peruse the menu. Allow me to point out, there will be just as many, or almost as many beef options as there are poultry, pork and seafood choices. Beef will priced accordingly too -- right up there with seafood, meaning more expensive than poultry and pork. This would lead anyone with an enthusiasm for Chinese fare to conclude: the Chinese must eat a lot of beef. They don't. In fact, most Chinese diners prefer pork to the stronger flavor of beef. The... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
Vic -- Great to hear from you and thanks for your kind feedback. I've lived here in State College since 1974, my husband since 1968, so, we've eaten our fair share of the original MexiHots too. We are...!!!
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A few days ago, one of my Facebook friends posted a photo of her dinner, Chinese pepper-steak, and, for a few days, just like that song that gets stuck in your head, I walked around wishing everything I ate was pepper steak. As a kid in the 1960's, it was one of the first Chinese-American restaurant dishes I was introduced to, and, as a young bride in the mid 70's, it was the first Chinese-American dish I made in my own kitchen. By the time the '80's rolled around, I had three boys in elementary school, and, pepper-steak was in... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters