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GOURMANDISE

Cooks' Notes, etc.

One of the busiest food persons in this country has got to be Julee Rosso. The co-author of the popular "Silver Palate" cookbooks is now living in Michigan and says she is making a "fresh start, shifting gears" from the fast life of New York City.

Some shift! Just to keep her hand in, Ms. Rosso and caterer Candace Strong are putting together a monthly 20-page newsletter called Cooks' Notes. Following much the same format as the popular "Silver Palate" cookbooks, the newsletter will deal with recipes and food lore, lighter cooking, the marketplace, wine and trends.

Judging from the November issue, it also will be great fun. It costs $50 a year and can be ordered by writing 2963 Lakeshore Drive, Saugatuck, Mich. 49453.

Just in case you are feeling a little pocketbook pinch, however, you might want to investigate Ms. Rosso's other effort. This one is free, courtesy of Jim Beam Bourbon. It's an attractive 16-page booklet called "Entertaining at Home -- An American Basic." It has good recipes and party tips with an emphasis on the holidays.

To get a copy, call (800) 745-2326.

A New Year's resolution

Vow in the new year to really learn about herbs and spices. The clever use of these seasonings in your cooking not only will pep things up, it will help you to cut down on the use of salt.

One way to learn about herbs and spices is to register for a course at Buffalo State College that will be offered on Thursdays, beginning Jan. 3 and ending Jan. 31. It's called Cooking With Herbs and Spices Around the World, and it will be given by Barbara Blackburn.

The college will offer other culinary courses in 1991, including a course in French cooking and one on Tea for Two or More. There's a charge. For information, call 878-5906.

Holiday substitutions

In this, the most hectic baking season of the year, you may suddenly discover that you are out of a strategic ingredient at 3 o'clock in the morning.

What to do? Maybe this list of common substitutions will help. As we used to say in the old days of Kitchen Counsel: "Clip, classify and file."

To make homemade sweetened condensed milk: Place 1/2 cup of warm water in a bowl; add 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons instant non-fat dry milk. Add 3/4 cup granulated sugar; set the bowl in a larger bowl of hot water and beat until mixture is smooth.

Make your own confectioners' sugar by pulverizing granulated sugar in a food processor.

Try using rolled oats or crushed corn flakes instead of chopped nuts.

No sour milk or buttermilk? Add 2 tablespoons vinegar to 1 cup milk and let stand for a few minutes.

No sour cream? Substitute unflavored yogurt.

No cake flour? One cup of all-purpose flour MINUS 2 tablespoons is equal to 1 cup of cake flour.

One ounce of baking chocolate is equal to 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa plus 1 tablespoon fat.

Move over, raisins

Meet dried red tart cherries. Not only do they look pretty, they are a fine alternative to raisins and they are wonderful in bread, muffins and cookies.

The cherries, which come from Michigan and Virginia, also can be sprinkled on hot or cold breakfast cereal or into fruit or chicken salads.

Those who live the high life suggest you drop several into a glass of champagne for a pleasant surprise. But we like them right out the bag.

Dried cranberries also can be purchased in some places, rumor has it. And dried blueberries are coming. Check out specialty food shops and food departments for these.

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