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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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Olives in Mexican food? It's controversial. So-called experts will flatly state that olives in Mexican food make the dish Spanish, not Mexican, meaning "don't". That said, with some of the largest concentrations of green olive trees in the world being located in regions throughout Mexico, areas bordering Texas, and, the Guadalupe Valley in Northern Baja California, common sense would and should lead one (it did me) to a different conclusion, meaning, if you are an olive lover, "go for it". Just know, a Mexican dish you added olives to can't be peddled as "authentic" or "classic" Mexican" -- olives render... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Kitchen Encounters
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Olives in Mexican food? It's controversial. So-called experts will flatly state that olives in Mexican food make the dish Spanish, not Mexican, meaning "don't". That said, with some of the largest concentrations of green olive trees in the world being located in regions throughout Mexico, areas bordering Texas, and, the Guadalupe Valley in Northern Baja California, common sense would and should lead one (it did me) to a different conclusion, meaning "go for it". While a Mexican dish with olives in or on it can't be labeled "authentic", the addition of olives is fine. A good deal of research on... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Kitchen Encounters
Alan -- Because marination is a flavorizer, not a tenderizer for proteins, I marinate first and velvet second. The results are always wonderful. That said, I came upon doing this by experimentation, so, if I'm doing it backwards, I sure don't know about it. ~ Melanie
Terry -- My understanding is that J.L. Kraft invented pasteurized and processed cheese in 1912. Velveeta was invented afterward, in 1918, by Emil Frey of the Monroe Cheese Company in Monroe, NY.
Patrice -- Thank-you for taking the time to tell me this. You made my day! ~ Melanie
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From chicken and ribs to rib-eye, flank and skirt steaks, during the months of July and August and into the Fall, the food that comes off our grill is frequently alla the American Southwest. My family craves those bold flavors, and, my Southwestern-style corn and bean pudding, a spin-off of my Midwestern-style baked corn casserole is my go-to side-dish. Placed on the table next to a crispy garden salad full of just-picked tomatoes and cucumbers: there's no need to call my family to the table twice. Serve an in-season fruit cobbler for dessert? They'll follow me anywhere. Fresh vs. canned... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Kitchen Encounters
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When tomatoes and cucumbers are ripe for the picking, small side-salads accompany our dinner almost every evening. Our seasonal herbs du jour always determine what cuisine-style I'll lean toward -- dill for Eastern European, basil for Italian, thyme for French, cilantro for Tex-Mex, and, oregano for Greek. Once that's decided, the cuisine-appropriate embellishments easily fall into place. It's a pretty straightforward process, but, no matter what I decide, my all-purpose super-easy-to-make red wine vinaigrette pulls it all together -- you'll rarely find my refrigerator without it. This refreshing relish-esque salad, goes great with grilled chicken, any type of steak, pork... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
Stefanie -- thank-you for mentioning that. I did, however, discuss that in paragraph #2, where I mention how hard (impossible) it was/is to find/acquire massa de pimentao (mah-sah de pea-meant-oh) -- the paste.
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Fresh strawberry cobbler with home-churned strawberry ice cream, made the old-fashioned way, is going on our picnic table tonight. A few years ago that I realized strawberries make superb cobbler. I experimented on a whim and it turned out great. It was so successful, I tried this same recipe, substituting pineapple for strawberries that same Summer, meaning: I gained cobbler confidence. I don't know why it surprised me, strawberries contain a lot of citric acid, so, their own natural flavor makes them perfect for the relatively-fast turn-around in the oven required for a traditional cobbler. The moral of the story... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
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In this part of the Northeast, Asparagus season starts around the beginning of May and lasts approximately to the end of June. This has been a banner year for it, which is why I could not resist dedicating the past two weeks to sharing a few asparagus recipes prepared my favorite way: enhanced by the flavor of lemon -- more specifically lemon-infused extra-virgin olive oil. For those of you that don't know, asparagus adores the flavor of lemon, and so will you. Choosing, Prepping & Storing Amazing Asparagus Asparagus begins losing its flavor the moment it's picked, so buy the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
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The only thing better than a pair of buttery-rich crispy-edged runny-centered sunny-side-up eggs for breakfast, is a pair of lemon-luscious, crispy-edged runny-centered sunny-side-up eggs for breakfast. Lightly-seasoned to perfection with a few grinds of sea salt and a nice peppercorn blend, once on my plate, I'm ready to catch my toast the instant it pops up, sit down, and luxuriate in the dipping process until every drop of liquid gold and tender bite of white is gone. All gone. Oil-frying eggs is more common than one might think. I didn't invent oil-fried eggs, and, culturally, it's more common that one... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
Christine -- If you ever come across his recipe and are inclined to share it, I will make it and write a blog post about it. That said, for the most part, all baked rice pudding recipes, after refrigeration, can be cut into squares. ~ Melanie
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How much would you pay for this in an upscale restaurant? About $8.00 as an appetizer? Perhaps $12.00 as a lunch entrée? Both sound fare to me, but, truth told, this small plate of happiness is so good I'd happily pay more. 'Tis true, rake my shrimp cocktail over some hot coals and I'll follow you anywhere -- and pay a tidy sum for it too. Add a few slices of grilled bread, uncork a bottle of white wine, and invite a few guests to join you too -- it's that impressive. For the pucker-up lemon sauce for seafood or... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
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Oh yes, BIG yes, this concoction is great with many things, but, if you're looking for a pucker-up creamy lemon dip to serve with grilled seafood or vegetables, stop reading, grab a few pantry staples and mix this one together. It'll only take five minutes, and oh yes, you can thank me later. On our patio, we love to dip grilled shrimp and/or grilled asparagus in it as an hors d'oeuvre, but, I won't lie, it's just as good slathered on a Maryland-style crab cake sandwich (or a grilled or roasted chicken sandwich) too. There's more. To give it a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
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Asparagus, served hot off the grill grids, drizzled with a bit of lemon-infused EVOO and white balsamic vinaigrette, is one of my favorite Summer side-dishes. Name it -- grilled steak, chicken or seafood, it plays well with them all. Interestingly, I sometimes serve it as an hors d'oeuvre too -- it pairs perfectly with melon wrapped in prosciutto. There's just something downright delightful about picking up a medium-to-fat, crunch-tender asparagus spear in my fingertips, politely swishing it a pucker-up, creamy, lemon sauce and savoring the lightly-charred flavor. Just eat. It's too simple for words, hence this short post. Grilling asparagus... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
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Let me start by saying, I purchase my lemon-infused olive oil. It's a small investment for a product that, in honesty, because of the process involved, can't be 100% duplicated in the home kitchen. Manufacturers of high-quality lemon-infused olive oil include lemon in with the olives when the oil gets cold pressed. Home cooks simply do not have that option, so, if you are one of those who is inclined to make it at home, the only alternative is what's known as the "heat-and-soak" process. Lemon-infused olive oil is one of my favorite pantry staples -- a bit of it... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
Kristen -- You just made my day!
Roc -- This is indeed the perfect ending to a BBQ day, & I can only assume that after you served your smoked brisket & the chicken thighs, this met with rave reviews (meaning, you impressed the heck out of everyone)!
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Lemon-infused olive oil is one of my favorite pantry staples -- a bit of it in a skillet adds marvelous flavor to a sautéing chicken paillard or delicate fillet of white fish. When mixed with some tangy white-balsamic vinegar, a pinch of sugar, a few herbes de Provence, and, a tad of Dijon mustard, an amazing vinaigrette is born. It's hard to name a salad that doesn't benefit from a lemony vinaigrette, and, in the case of this one, because the lemon flavor is infused in the oil, as opposed to a fresh squirt of lemon juice, every bite gets... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
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A salad without lettuce? There's no law against it, and, in the case of this salad, lettuce is just in the way. The combination of tender blanched asparagus, a few halved cherry or grape tomatoes, and, small, creamy, fresh mozzarella balls drizzled with a lemon-balsamic vinaigrette is to-die-for. The only item I do add to it on occasion is: a handful of crunchy croutons. Nothing more, nothing less. No other embellishments need apply. The dressing, loaded with lemon flavor and laced with subtle herbs de Provence, is the star of this salad show, so, don't stray from this flavor profile.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
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Technically known as shallow poaching and sometimes referred to as skillet poaching, this is the easiest way to cook fresh asparagus spears. As it turns out, a small amount of gently or barely simmering salted water in a wide-bottomed skillet is a great way to quickly control the heat of the water, which, in turn, makes it very easy to efficiently yield vibrant green asparagus spears of any thickness that are cooked to your liking: crunch-tender blanched to fully-cooked fork-tender. I won't lie, my recipe for ~ Amazingly-Lemony & Perfectly-Roasted Asparagus ~ is, generally speaking, my favorite way to serve... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
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Light, bright and amazingly lemony, this lusciously-decadent, not to mention rich, restaurant-quality pasta dish is easy to prepare -- and it's pitch-perfect Summer fare. While the prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and grape tomatoes roast for ten minutes and cool for five, the pasta gets cooked and seasoned. Toss the two together with high-quality crab claw meat, and lunch or dinner is served. No, just say NO, walk away from hard, grated or shaved, Italian cheese, soft fresh mozzarella or creamy ricotta, and please, don't roll your eyes. Once you savor the delicate flavors in the first forkful of crab and asparagus intermingled... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
BB -- I am so pleased you found the recipe & little old me!
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When I was growing up, fresh asparagus was a delicacy, meaning, my family only ate it in the Spring, mostly for holidays and special occasions, or, when we reserved a table at a fancy restaurant -- restaurants had more access to it than the average American family during that era. That said, even in the restaurants back in the 1960's and '70's, it was always of the pencil-thin type, and, it was served either lightly steamed or briefly blanched. Thinking back, I suppose it was because these methods enhanced its color, which made for a prettier presentation. Indeed it tasted... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters
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In this part of the Northeast, Asparagus season starts around the beginning of May and lasts approximately to the end of June. It's one of my favorite green vegetables, but, interestingly, I prefer to purchase it rather than grow it. Why? Frankly, when we did grow our own, on days when I needed it, I couldn't rely on enough being ready for harvest and vice versa. Asparagus spears, which pup up out of the ground like little soldiers, grow on their own time, not mine. Early in the season, it can take a spear up to three days to mature.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2019 at Kitchen Encounters