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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
My mom always made pasta salad for Memorial Day. It was classic 1960's-style -- rotini pasta with some cubed salami, pepperoni and American cheese, sliced black olives, diced onion and tomato dressed with store-bought Wishbone Italian dressing. It wasn't gourmet, it wasn't even particularly pretty to look at, but, because it was prepared correctly, it was remarkably delicious. Our Memorial Day picnic, at our reserved picnic table, at Lakewood Park in Barnesville, PA, would have been incomplete without the pasta salad. Mom's Spring green Tupperware container went in and came out of the cooler several times throughout the day while... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Kitchen Encounters
I declare: I love briny tapenade in an omelete. Throw in a few salty crumbles of feta cheese, place it on a bed of bright green baby arugula or baby spinach leaves and garnish with a few diced tomatoes -- what's not to love. I could eat this savory, meatless delight for breakfast, lunch and dinner -- there's seriously no need for bacon or or sausage with this breakfast. Toast points go nicely, but, please skip the orange or grapefruit juice -- they're just wrong. This omelet pairs perfectly with a bloody Mary for breakfast, a glass of white wine... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Kitchen Encounters
Americans cherish the Summer. The deck chairs come out, the cooler fills with ice, the shorts go on, everyone slides into their flip-flops, and then, spends as much time in the fresh air and sunshine as possible. Some play sports while others garden, some like to swim while others prefer to sun bathe, but, each and every one loves to eat -- and a forkful of food simply tastes better in the great outdoors. Here in the Northeast, the land of four seasons, Summer has finally arrived and I'm kicking it off with a refreshing, main-dish pasta salad that is... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Kitchen Encounters
Jeannine -- The general rule of thumb for both bread dough and quick bread batter is no more than 2/3 the capacity of the loaf pan. That said, based on individual recipes, there are exceptions. ~ Melanie
Wendy -- I would cut the baking time by 1/3 then check the bread five minutes prior to the estimated done time, and, every 3-5 minutes thereafter. For example: If your bread typically bakes for 60 minutes, bake the smaller loaves for 40 minutes (time cut by 1/3). Check them at 35 minutes just to be sure they're on track. At forty minutes if they're not done, let them go another 5 minutes, and, maybe another 5 minutes after that. Once you do this ONCE, you will know forever more the timing for your smaller loaves. ~ Melanie
Susan -- As a "small" food blogger who gives blogging her all each and every day, I can only say, it is a comment like yours that keeps me going strong for another day. Thanks bunches! ~ Melanie.
There is nothing quite as satisfying as a BLT or a club sandwich, made with a just-picked perfectly-ripe tomato. Tick, tock. It is going be an impatient two-month wait for my own or any locally-grown tomatoes to be at my fingertips, so, hold-that-beautiful-thought, give pause to the beloved tomato for a moment, and allow me to change the conversation: there is another tart fruit to consider. It's the brine-cured olive, and, in the form of tapenade, a Mediterranean relish-type condiment, there is no reason to compromise your BLT with a not-at-its-peak tomato. Try a BLT or Club w/my tapenade instead... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
My pantry and/or refrigerator are never without a can or two of inexpensive, mild-flavored ripe, black olives and a big jar of tangy green pimiento-stuffed olives too. Throughout the year, I toss either one or both, whole into garden salads, or, slice and use them to top an occasional pizza. That said, at the end of a long Summer's day, there is nothing like a well-chilled cocktail out on the deck with a salty snack to nibble on. A cracker or two with a slather of soft brie or chèvre topped with a dollop of tapenade is a favorite, but,... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
Hi Paul -- You and I would get along well in this food world. While I'm more of a mayo kinda gal, when I was growing up, my parents house only had Miracle Whip in the refrigerator. Like you, I have an appreciation for all three. ~ Melanie
Every once in a while (not often, but it does happen) you'll come across a recipe that goes from ordinary to extraordinary by using a store-bought, instead of a scratch-made, dry sauce or seasoning packet. This is one such recipe. While it is next-to-impossible to make a quiche using scratch-made hollandaise or béarnaise sauce (in place of the typical whisked cream and egg mixture used to prepare a quiche), because either will breakdown in a hearts-beat or three, it is possible to add a dry, high-quality, store-bought, hollandaise or or béarnaise sauce-mix to season and enrich the cream and egg... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
Bowling night. When I was growing up, depending on what league my parents were in, bowling night was either a Tuesday or a Thursday. They got my brother and I a babysitter, went out with their friends, and, on that night, we were allowed to stay up later than usual. We ate either a TV dinner, or, my favorite, mom's bowling-night meatloaf dinner. On the floor we two siblings sat, "Indian-style" (knees bent, ankles crossed) with one-foot-high TV trays in front of us (I had a Barbie tray, David had a Batman tray). In front of the television we ate... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
Forgive me if I type fast, as I'm anxious to eat the mouth-watering plate of food in this photograph. As a bigger fan of a fluffy American-style omelette vs a skinny French omelette, and, as an advocate for savory breakfasts over cloyingly sweet breakfasts, this egg-cellent little number is one of my ideal ways to break the fast. For those who don't know, mustard is more than just a condiment that goes on your hot dogs. Mustard is to an omelette, what mustard is to macaroni and cheese, potato salad and/or almost any creamy salad dressing one can mention: A... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
A BLT served on savory whole-grain mustard- and herbs de Provence-laced brioche French toast -- need I say more? If these adorable little sliders don't change the way you think about breakfast or brunch, I'm clueless as to what will. Pair them with a bloody Mary or three and you've got a party. Invite some friends and you've got a bigger party. The best part is, I made these as an experiment, using day old savory French toast that had been in the refrigerator overnight, so, whipping them up for breakfast took only a little longer than it took to... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
Carolyn -- Thanks for sharing your brining suggestion Carolyn.
Once a year, the day after Eastern European Orthodox Easter to be specific, my mother made one of my favorite breakfasts: savory French toast. To make it, she soaked thick slices of the round loaf of leftover paska (a brioche-type bread enriched with milk, eggs, butter, sugar and salt) in a tangy, whole-grain mustard-laced milk and egg mixture. She served it with lightly-fried slices of baked ham (also leftover from Easter), soft-yolked, sunny-side-up eggs, and a fresh chive garnish (which grew in dad's garden). Mom made this but once a year because that was when she had the very-specific ingredients... Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
When it comes to making cabbage rolls, like meatloaf or meatballs, most cuisines have a traditional recipe for them, and, all make use of on-hand ingredients. For instance: If they live in an area suited for raising sheep, lamb is in their cabbage rolls. If they live in a climate where vegetables grow year round, you'll find veggies like bell peppers and chunky tomatoes in them. I will, however, go out on a limb and state: when I say "cabbage roll", you should say "Eastern European", because that is the cuisine they're hands-down most commonly associated with. Known as holubki... Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
Sean -- You had VERY cool parents. Please tell your mom I said hello (I'd love to hear from her) and I am very sorry to hear about your dad. I remember your dad helping to save the roof on "The Steakhouse" -- that symbol of the community would have been a tragic loss. The place was sold several years ago, and, named after the new owners, Kelly's Steakhouse is now a VERY upscale steakhouse with other upscale menu items too. They completely remodeled (inside and out a sleek Southwestern theme), and, did keep the bull on top of the building. With all new decor, the "billiard room" is still intact & they bought the building to the right of them too and turned it into "The Bar", a more casual gathering place. They do a fantastic fancy-schmancy lunch and dinner business. Love to all & please keep in touch! ~ Melanie
While I was growing up and thru to today, my mother's stuffed cabbage rolls (made on the stovetop or in the crockpot) and my grandmother's stuffed cabbage soup with mini-meatballs were two of our family's favorite main-dish meals. The latter is the easier of the two ways to bring this traditional Eastern European comfort food to the table, but, I am here to tell you, there is a third, even easier method: Stir sautéed and nicely-seasoned ground beef and cooked rice to the easy-to-make cabbage soup base. From start to finish, it's on the table in 45 minutes. That said,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
I come from a long line of cabbage lovers. Known as kapusta in Eastern European inner circles, a week rarely passes that cabbage doesn't make it's way onto the dinner table in some form. Like my mother, the vegetable bin of my refrigerator is rarely without a head of green cabbage in it. Braised cabbage and carrots and butter-braised cabbage with egg noodles were two of our family's favorite side-dishes. Mom's stuffed cabbage rolls (made on the stovetop or in the crockpot) and my grandmother's stuffed cabbage soup with mini-meatballs (or with ground beef and rice) were two of our... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
Known as holubki to me and golabki to many of you, stuffed cabbage rolls are beloved in every Eastern European household. Everyone makes them a bit differently, with the constants being: ground meat (beef, pork and/or lamb), cooked rice, steamed green cabbage leaves and a tomato-based sauce. Because they are labor-intensive, too often they're reserved for holidays or special occasions. That said, those of us in Eastern European inner-circles know there's another form of this knife-and-fork meal that brings this savory comfort food to the weekday table in half the time. Get out the bowls and spoons and meet my... Continue reading
Posted Apr 23, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
Always great to hear from you Jen. ~ Mel.
My kitchen is no different than anyone elses. The cuisine we're in the mood changes from day to day -- Asian, French, Greek, Indian, Italian, Jamaican or Texican (to name a few of our favorites). For the past few days, we've been hungry for Tex-Mex, and, like all of our other favorites, having an all-purpose marinade, a seasoning blend or two, along with a sauce for dipping or drizzling, suited specifically to this South-of-the-border flavor profile, makes meal prep easy, not to mention creative and fun. Trust me, any way you cook it, every dish prepared in the home kitchen... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
Soup with meatballs swimming in it -- it's common in almost all cultures, and, there is a common reason for it too. In the history of food, and throughout all the documented ages, meat was for the wealthy. In spite of that, savvy cooks minced or ground unwanted scraps or lesser cuts of meat and combined them with inexpensive binders like breadcrumbs or rice, a liquid or egg, plus some common-to-the cuisine seasonings. They are to be commended for developing great-tasting meatball recipes which allowed the poorer classes to partake in a diet richer in protein. Albóndigas = meatballs, in... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
Jen -- I have made this with pork, and we love it, but not chops. I take a small pork tenderloin and cut it into 3/4"-ish medallions and lightly pound them -- For a family of four, it works out to about 3-4 medallions per person. It is wonderful. So glad you are enjoying this recipe as much as we do! ~ Mel.
Chelsea -- How wonderful to hear from you. Please be sure to tell your gram (Toni) and your pap (Tom) that I said hello and would love to hear from them again. Tell them I am a grandmother too -- Jesse has a son named David. Toni (your gram) made Jesse's christening gown! Love & Happy Easter to ALL. ~ Melanie