Shrimp Cocktail

Many people shy away from cooking shrimp for shrimp cocktail because they are afraid of overcooking the shrimp and ruining them.  It really isn’t that scary or difficult.

Boil water in a large pot.  Throw in a bag of frozen extra jumbo shrimp.  When the water returns to a boil, IMMEDIATELY dump the shrimp into a strainer, quickly refill the pot with cold water and pour the shrimp into the cold water, add ice.  This stops the shrimp from cooking and consequently, overcooking.

Strain and peel shrimp, dry with paper towels, if necessary.

Easy cocktail sauce

Bottled cocktail sauce is usually awful.  Mix ketchup and horseradish to taste.  If you are really adventurous and like hot horseradish, consider making your own.  Just buy a horseradish root from your local supermarket.  I cut off a portion of the root and store the remainder in the refrigerator.  Peel the root and cut into smaller pieces.  Finely chop in a food processor.  Add a 1/4-1/2 tsp salt and 1 -2 tbls white vinegar through the top of the processor.  Be careful taking the lid off (I have often done this outside since the fumes from the horseradish can clean out your sinuses!)  Store in fridge for 2-3  weeks.20161123_125701

Indian Pudding – Holiday

Every Thanksgiving I make one of my husband’s favorite desserts – Indian Pudding. Although the name may not be politically correct I would not be surprised if our Native American friends were the first to make this delicious Thanksgiving dessert.

Indian Pudding

4 cups milk

1/3 cup corn meal

3/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup butter

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ginger

3 tbls sugar

(one well beaten egg)

Preheat oven to 300.  Boil in the top of a double boiler the milk.  Stir in the corn meal ( I put the cornmeal in a small strainer and  I “shake” it into the milk as I stir. This eliminates lumps.  Cook over boiling water for 15 minutes. Stir in the molasses and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter, salt, ginger and sugar. Add the beaten egg if desired, it is optional. Pour into well-greased baking dish. Bake for  1 1/2 hours. Spoon into bowls and serve with ice cream.

How to make the Perfect Apple Pie

My mother was a wonderful pie maker. She taught my sister and me well.  My husband brags about my apple pie.  The secret to a delicious pie is not really a secret – it starts with a delicious crust.  My mother gave me two very important tips for making a perfect crust: No. 1 was to keep it cold.   From the crumbly start to the water that is added to it, to the surface it was rolled on, keeping it cold was imperative.  No. 2 was DO NOT overwork the dough. She would tell us it wasn’t play dough or bread dough, so the less you handle it the better.  To make things easier, too, she made her crust in bulk and kept it in the refrigerator until she needed it. Her pie crust in bulk recipe is as follows and I always have it handy.

6 cups of flour

2 cups crisco

1 tsp salt

I like the flakiness of this pie crust and it could be because of the crisco.  Butter can be substituted, of course, but why mess with success.  Cut the crisco into the flour and salt until it is crumbly, using a pastry blender or fork. Store it in a zip lock bag and refrigerate until ready to use.  It keeps this way for months.

For a single crust measure out 1 1/2 cups of the mixture, 2 cups for double.  I sometimes go a little over and I will tell you why later. Add 5 to 7 tablespoons of ice cold water to the mixture and mix together with a fork until it forms a ball. (1)

Lightly flour the rolling pin and begin rolling from the center out.  DO NOT lean into the rolling pin onto the crust, trying to push it out.  With a small amount of pressure the rolling pin will not stretch the dough and keep it a uniform thickness.(2)

Carefully pick up the edge of the crust that is farthest away from you and fold in half.(3) Lift from the folded edge and place on your pie plate and carefully unfold to cover the plate. (4) Lightly press the crust into the plate and trim the edge to about a 1/2″ overhang.(5) Put excess to the side.

In the meantime, peel, cut, core and slice 6-7 apples.  I prefer Granny smith but it is personal preference.  Add 1/2-3/4 cup sugar and 2 tbls. flour and 1 tbls. cinnamon and add to apples. Pile the cut apples into the pie shell and dot with butter.(6)

Roll out the top crust as before.  I usually do not use the trimmed left over crust from the bottom because I don’t want to overwork or handle the dough too much.  That is why, as I said before, I use more than the 2 cups of mixture. Follow the same procedure as steps 1-5. Use water to seal the top and bottom crust together and fold under.  Use your thumb and index finger or a fork to form a decorative finish around the pie perimeter. (7)

Pierce the top with a knife and sprinkle with sugar.  Use foil around the pie edge or a crust protector to keep the edge from getting too brown during baking.(8)  Bake in a 350 oven for fifty minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 10-15.Cool a bit before serving.

The extra dough can be saved, if there is enough, for a single pie crust. just wrap and store in the refrigerator.  I roll it out flat, sprinkle cinnamon sugar on it, then roll it up,cut it and bake it .  My kids, all grown now, still love them!

If making a single crust, many people suggest lining the crust with foil and then use navy beans or any kind of dried beans to weigh the crust down.  I often forego the foil and it turns out fine.  Good Luck!