"providing you with recipes to help make you the best cook in the neighborhood"

 Cella's News

May 2008



We May Live Without

We may live without poetry, music and art;

We may live without conscience, and live without heart;

We may live without friends, we may live without books;

But civilized man cannot live without cooks.

He may live without books - what is knowledge but grieving?

He may live without hope - what is hope but deceiving?

He may live without love - what is passion but pining?

But where is the man that can live without dining?

(Owen Meredith)

I like to cook and bake, but I never said it was easy.  The recipes this month have been a real challenge to me, but  hopefully they won't be for you.  I had a slice of Diane's banana bread at a church dinner and it was delicious with the addition of instant pudding mix.  I tried making it this past Sunday afternoon (fortunately I couldn't garden because of the cold and rain).  I burnt one loaf that was in a metal pan, and nearly burned the loaf in the air bake.  You see, the seal around my oven door is not seating properly and my oven door won't shut right, allowing heat to escape, so I thought I'd give the  bread the full 65 minutes to bake before checking on it.  What didn't burn was delicious.

Gary Becker told me about this excellent shrimp and grits dish that he had at a restaurant down south.  The chef promised him the recipe and Gary gave it to me after he made some for Jack to try.  The recipe was easy to follow, but I couldn't tell if it was good or not, because I don't like shrimp or grits.  It also did not help the recipe one bit that I accidentally used maple-flavored bacon in the dish.  Just take Gary and Jack's word for it, it's fantastic.

Did I tell you I'm also not that crazy about salmon?  Jack told me how absolutely wonderful the cedar planked salmon was that he made recently.  I just had to try it.  Well, my grill tank was empty.  I replaced it with another, but then  spotted a crack in the gas line and not wanting to blow myself up, I proceeded to build myself a wood fire in the gas grill to try the recipe; after all, the salmon was two days old and I already had the plank soaked.  I grilled that fish for 20 or 30 minutes, the plank never charred or smoked the fish properly and the top of the fish never crusted up as it was suppose to.  Jack, ever mindful of how utterly great tasting this recipe is, is planning on making it again.  Perhaps, just perhaps he might bring me a sample.  If you're going to try this recipe, make sure you buy your cedar planks before the stores put their barbecue items away, it's getting close to Halloween you know.

My brother Jerry's Spiked Cajun Delmonico Steak Bites were tender and tasty.  I had some that he had made to take to his wife in the Nursing Home on Mother's Day.  When I tried his recipe, I couldn't find the Spike seasoning.  I had to adjust the seasonings as close as I could to the taste I experienced.  I would make this recipe again.  It's a keeper, even the fat tastes good.

Some of my co-workers and I got some new recipes together for a Cinco de Mayo celebration and we had a nice turnout for our luncheon.  The staff loved sampling our many recipes.  I couldn't include all the recipes this month, so I'll be sharing more with you in the following months.  Save the recipes up for your next year's Cinco de Mayo party.  Quite a few people liked the Mexican Rice.  It was a great compliment to every cook who participated when one attendee said, "I can't tell which dish is my favorite."

Moist Banana Bread
(Diane Colf)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups white granulated sugar
2 (3.4-oz.) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 large eggs
2 cups mashed bananas (4 to 5 medium)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, instant vanilla pudding mix, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, bananas, oil, and vanilla; stir into the dry ingredients, just until moistened.  Stir in nuts.  Transfer to two greased 8x4x2-inch loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool.  Yield:  2 loaves

White Sauce Lasagna with Crab & Spinach
(Laura Ens, Illinois)

12 Lasagna noodles
2 (10-oz.) boxes frozen, chopped leaf spinach
2 or 3 cans (6-oz.) crab meat
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 (15-oz.) container Ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 pounds Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
3 (16-oz.) jars Alfredo Sauce

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions, drain and set aside.  Cook spinach according to package directions, drain and set aside.  Drain crab meat well and mix with Parmesan cheese until crumbly and of spreading consistency.  Set aside.  Stir Ricotta, egg, garlic powder, and black pepper until smooth and creamy.  Set aside.  To assemble lasagna, layer as follows in a 9x13x2-inch baking dish:  4 lasagna noodles, 1/2 Ricotta mixture, 1/2 spinach, 1/2 crab/Parmesan cheese mixture, 1/3  Mozzarella (plus Parmesan cheese if desired), jar of Alfredo Sauce.  Repeat layering.  End with with last 4 noodles and jar of Alfredo Sauce.  Sprinkle on additional Parmesan cheese, Mozzarella, and a bit of spinach, if desired.  Bake uncovered for 1 hour or more in 350 degree oven until top is lightly browned and sauce is thick and bubbly.

Spiked Cajun Delmonico Steak Bites
(Jerry Richards)

Note:  Do not cut fat off of the meat as it will be delicious to eat.  If you cannot find Spike seasoning, you may enjoy adding a touch of seasoning salt to finish off the flavor.  For those allergic or wishing to avoid MSG, be aware that Spike may contain hidden MSG per my research on the Internet.  This is a very tender and flavorful meat.

1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 Delmonico Steaks, cut into bite-size pieces
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
Spike seasoning (salt free), optional
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash, salt-free garlic and herb seasoning blend

In a large frying pan, heat oil and water.  Add steak pieces, sprinkling meat with Cajun, Spike, and Mrs. Dash's seasoning mix.  Continue to cook meat on low heat until until water is gone, stirring meat occasionally, at least 30 minutes.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Meat should be extremely tender and flavorful.  Drain off any remaining fat from pan.  

Shrimp and Grits
(Gary Becker)

Note:  Buy regular-flavored bacon, not maple-flavored for this recipe.

4 slices bacon, diced
8-oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon Creole seasoning
dash garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste
dash ground cayenne pepper or Tabasco

In a large skillet, fry bacon until cooked, but not crisp.  Add mushrooms and sauté until just tender, adding a little oil or butter if needed.  Add shrimp and cook, stirring for one minute.  Add green onions and parsley; continue to cook for another minute.  Add tomatoes, Creole seasoning, and a dash of garlic powder.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, until shrimp is cooked through and liquid has reduced and slightly thickened.  Taste, adding pepper, salt, or cayenne or Tabasco as desired.  Makes four servings.  Serve with Creamy Grits.

Creamy Grits
2 cups heavy cream
1 can (14.5-oz.)chicken broth
4 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup quick grits

In a medium-size saucepan, bring heavy cream and chicken broth to a boil.  Add butter, salt, and pepper.  Slowly whisk in grits and reduce heat.  Cook 15 to 20 minutes over low heat, stirring frequently.

Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon
(Jack Gerber)

Note:  The cedar plank will need to be soaked immersed in water for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  The cedar planks can be found in the store near the barbecue supplies.  A covered grill is needed for this recipe.

1 cedar plank (6 x 14-inches) or to fit fish
2 salmon fillets, skin removed
Dijon mustard
brown sugar

Soak cedar plank for at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Heat plank for a couple of minutes in 350-degree preheated grill, turn plank over and top with salmon fillets coated on the top and sides with Dijon mustard and brown sugar.  Put plank on one side of grill with no flame, for indirect heating.  Place lid down on grill and cook salmon for 15 to 20 minutes.  Do not let the board catch fire.  The plank should char and release smoke.  When done, the salmon coating should be crispy, but the fish flaky.  Do not overcook.  Do not reuse the plank.  Serve immediately.

Mexican Rice
(Internet Recipe)

2 cups rice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups water
14.5-oz. can mixed vegetables
salt to taste

In a fine colander, rinse rice under cold water.  In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add drained rice and fry until lightly browned, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.  Add tomatoes, onion, garlic, bouillon cube, and salt and cook for 5 minutes.  Add water and stir. Drain can of vegetables and add to broth.  Bring to a boil, simmer for 20 minutes or until all broth is absorbed.  Do not lift lid for 20 minutes.  Taste and add salt if desired.

Send your favorite family recipes to Marcella Stockin, 5200 Riceville Road, West Valley, New York 14171 or e-mail me at marcellastockin@yahoo.com.  I'd love to hear from you.  Providing you with recipes to help make you the best cook in the neighborhood.  Visit my website at cellascookbook.com for more recipes and archived newsletters.