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martmurt's Profile

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Flu food

When I, the main cook, was among the sick, I relied on iced cold Coca Cola, cups of tea, baked potatoes, and soft boiled eggs. And, we were darn glad to get that much!

When I, the main cook, was not stricken with the local epizootic, I served chicken broth, soft boiled eggs, dry toast and mashed potatoes. Not much difference...

Oct 28, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

Need help with dinner for sick friend

For a heart patient, twice baked potatoes with a filling of lean chicken, broccoli, and chives bound together with fat-free cottage cheese, fat-free yogurt and some lemon juice and lemon zest. Even kids like this. Just bake the potatoes, split in half and scoop out the innards. Reserve the potato jackets. Mix the potato with come chicken, some lightly steamed broccoli, cottage cheese, yogurt, lemon juice and zest. Taste it. Add some black pepper and a minimum amount of salt. Pack the mixture back into the potato skins, and bake about 15 min at 350, or until all bubbly.

Oct 26, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

What to get for the absolute novice?

I will back up a couple of other replies.
Give her a good medium sized carbon steel knife, one wooden and one plastic cutting board, and a 10 inch cast iron skillet that you, her beloved older sister, have taken time over two weekends to begin seasoning for her. With those basic implements, she can cook all over the world. And, anyway, any thing she does as a novice cook to damage any of these items can be reversed.

Oct 26, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

Help- Should I get a 20" range for apartment?

I have lived overseas a few times, and always had small gas ranges/ovens. They are just fine. As another post observed, you do need to be sure you have a space to put down hot things as they come out of the oven and you will need to watch the width of the baking sheets and ovenware. But, I cooked everything on those small stoves. We have a fond memory of cooking the Christmas goose in our little oven in England. We had to trim the legs, and put the goose in the roasting pan on the diagonal in order to close the door, but it worked just fine. Turkeys, being shorter than a goose, were absolutely no problem!

Jun 21, 2007
martmurt in Cookware

Sides with crab cakes

Crab cakes are so rich and slightly sweet. An astringent, fresh tomato salad would be great as a contrast. Polenta or cheese grits would really go well with both items.

Jun 10, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

What's your favorite "impressive but easy" recipe?

This berry tart is beautiful and easy, and delicious. People think you slaved all day. For this time of year when strawberries are in season, here is a recipe for Shortbread Strawberry Tart.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix 1 cup of flour with 4 tablespoons of confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar.) Using a pastry blender, cut in 1 stick of salted butter (one half cup) until crumbly. Chill for at least 15 min, and then turn the mixture into a tart pan, or a 9 inch spring form pan, or even a 9 inch layer cake pan. Press the dough into the pan evenly with your fingertips. Using a fork, prick the surface all over. ( If you choose, you can prick the surface to show 6 or 8 equally shaped triangles; think of a clock face to make your divisions. )

Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 min, or until pale golden color; the edges will be slightly browner. Cool the shortbread. ( At this point you could stop, and serve triangles of shortbread with ice cream if you chose to do the "divide into 6 or 8 triangles direction.)

Rinse and dry on paper towels 1 quart of strawberries (you may not need a full quart- but it fully depends on the shape and quality of the berries). Cover the surface of the shortbread with perfectly ripe fresh strawberries. You can do this in any number of ways. If the berries are perfect and evenly shaped, cut the stem end off, and place the berries, tips up, all over the short bread. Or if you have berries of varied shapes, cut the berries in slices from top to bottom. Place the slices in concentric circles, covering the shortbread base.

Then, over very low heat, melt in a small saucepan some raspberry or currant jam ( anything dark red, more strawberry, even cherry), about 1 cup ( the low sugar jams work well with this). "Paint" the melted jam all over the berries using a pastry brush.

Chill until serving. Whipped cream is good with this, and a couple of dark chocolates on the side.

May 09, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

making boxed cake mix better...

From my late aunt I learned the tip of adding 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a little (1 to 2 teaspoons) of fresh lemon juice to any of the yellow or white cake mixes. All commercial cake mixes are very sweet ( to my taste, too sweet), especially if they are frosted, and this little under current of salty/tartness helps balance the flavors.
I also like the Butter Added recipe mixes, using salted butter.

Apr 25, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

When a jaw is wired shut... (recipe request)

My sister had some jaw surgery and was wired for about 2 months. She very quickly tired of sweet things -everyone was offering her milkshakes. I started making vegetables for her. Try cooking green beans with bacon and then add in some potatoes and cook them in the bean liquids. Puree this in the blender and serve warm.
This was also a favorite, a sort of tomato sandwich or panzanilla variation. Slice 2 medium tomatoes into a bowl and salt liberally. Add about 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Add 2 tablespoons good quality mayonaise. Tear up a tough chewy bread roll- a good ciabatta roll or an Italian roll are good- and add to the mixture. Add a handfull of chopped fresh basil leaves. Mix all together, and adjust seasonings to taste, using perhaps more salt, black pepper, a bit of sugar, your choice. Let it sit for about 15 min so that the tomatoes release all their juices, and then puree the entire thing. Serve chilled.

Apr 17, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

"Ode to College" theme dinner party

I know I am showing my age, but how about the old stand by, toasted cheese sandwiches prepared with buttered bread and American cheese enclosed in an aluminum foil envelope, and "toasted" on each side with a hot iron. The predecessor to the panini grill...

Apr 15, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

PRITHEE: How do I smother these quail?

This is a South Carolina recipe that my family uses for both quail and doves.

Salt and pepper the (thawed, in your case) birds well and leave in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. Roll the birds in seasoned all purpose flour.
In a large cast iron skillet, cook 6 slices of bacon. Remove the bacon and set aside, leaving the bacon drippings in the pan. Add to the pan 1 cup vegetable oil. Fry the birds until the outside is golden and crisp. Remove the birds from the pan to a bed of paper towels.

Pour off all but 2-3 tablespoons of the oils and saute 2 large onions, finely chopped. Add 1 cup of cold water, 2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce, 1 Tablespoon of dry sherry or Maderia, and 1 Tablespoon of that old favorite, Kitchen Bouquet. Let the liquids return to a boil. Stir/scrape the pan to deglaze and suspend all the good stuff off the bottom of the skillet. Return the birds and the cooked bacon, crumbled, to the pan, then cover the pan closely and reduced the heat to a bare simmer. Cook for 2 hours, or until the breast meat is tender.

Apr 03, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

Funky Salad Recipe??

This is a prepare ahead salad. I serve it on a big Romaine lettuce leaf with some of the marinade poured over all. Some bread along side to soak up the juices is good, too.
Cucumber Mushroom Salad

2 large cucumbers
10 medium mushrooms, sliced
4 scallion, chopped, including tops
1/2 cup parsley chopped
3 tomatoes, thinly sliced.

2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vinegar, your choice
1 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves.

Prepare the dressing in a large bowl. Add the chopped vegetables and gently mix. Chill for at least 1 hour, but all day doesn't hurt.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the marinated vegetables onto large lettuce leaf, or a bed of greens. Spoon some dressing over everything. Any kind of cheese scattered over the top is a nice accompaniment.

Mar 23, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking


Are you buying filets or do you have a whole, dressed fish? If filets, you can broil it with some bacon strips on top, and that is mighty fine. If you have a whole fish, place it on a baking sheet, put thinly sliced lemons inside the body cavity along with dabs of butter. Rub the outer surface with butter, and bake at 350 F until the meat appears opaque and white.

Remember, there is nothing bonier than a shad with those troublesome Y- and J-bones, but it is sweet meat indeed. It will just be a very quiet meal...

Mar 21, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

Good reading cookbooks?

I, too, love Laurie Colwin's cook books. "Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant" is a favorite, as is "Feeding the Multitudes."

Mar 14, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

Smoothie recipe without Banana?

For smoothies, I like to use the frozen pineapple and frozen mango available in the same section of the store as frozen berries. I think they are a Dole product. I whirl it in the blender with a small(4 oz) container of non fat yogurt and lots of ice cubes. For extra protein and to make the smoothie thicker, I sometimes add a scoop of cottage cheese, as mentioned by another chowhound.

Mar 07, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

chunks of tuna steak--how to cook

I saw chunks of tuna at my fish market like this for about 1/3 the price of the whole steaks. Thanks for the ideas, especially the thoughts about skewers. This will be my weekend experiment.

Mar 02, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

No knead bread

This is a recipe I have used for a long time. It makes a round loaf with a good crust, and an open texture, chewy and delicious. Since this is such a simple recipe, the quality of the flour is important. Use good unbleached all purpose flour, NOT bread flour.

No-Knead Bread ( but use an electric mixer)

In a large bowl mix 1 tablespoon yeast and one cup good unbleached flour.
In a small bowl, combine 1 1/4 cups very warm water, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to dissolve all. Then add to the large bowl with flour and yeast.

Beat with electric mixer for 3 minutes, and then stir in with a big wooden spoon 2 cups more of flour. Transfer to a greased bowl, turn once to grease all surfaces, and then cover and let rise for 1 hour. Punch down the dough, cover and let the dough rest 10 minutes.

Grease a round casserole dish or a large souffle dish. Sprinkle the interior with coarse corn meal. Put in the dough, sprinkle top surface with more cornmeal and let rise for 45 min.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake bread in the middle of the oven for 40 min, or until the loaf sounds "hollow" when you tap it.

Mar 02, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

Quick n' Dirty

Good topic. Here is a dessert. Delicious, but park your qualms about trans fats and cholesterol at the curb.

Cherry Crumble Pie
Pour 1 can of cherry pie filling into a greased 9x9 cake pan. Sprinkle over it 1/2 box of yellow cake mix( 2 layer size), OR, 1 whole box of Jiffy yellow cake mix, one layer size (small box, so less in it.) Then scatter over the cake mix 1 cup of chopped pecans. Dot the top with a whole stick of chopped up real butter, no substitutes allowed. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Mar 02, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

Ideas for winter preserves/ conserves, etc.?

Cranberry Onion Confit (from Delia Smith's Christmas, but the conversions from Imperial measurements are mine. )
2 medium onions, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
4-5 Tablespoons sugar
1 oz butter
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup raw cranberries (frozen ones are OK)
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
pinch of nutmeg and pinch of ground cloves
pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Saute the onion and garlic over low heat, and then add the sugar. With the heat very low, cook slowly for 15 min, stirring frequently.

Add the remaining ingredients, mix well, and cover the pan. Cook on low for 10-15 minutes. Then, take off the lid, and cook over low heat until the mixture is very thick and jam-like, about 30 minutes. Let the mixture cool, and transfer to a refrigerator container. Serve cold with sliced meats. Great on a turkey sandwich.

Feb 27, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

Recs for meals for friend with cancer

I have nursed a few family members through chemotherapy and radiation. I have a couple of general comments about preparing food for a person undergoing chemo and radiation and for the larger family as well.

First, don't send more than one meal's worth of food. Think small. While it will be tempting to prepare a huge casserole dish of something, in many cases, some of it will be eaten on the first day, and then it will go into the refrigerator. Then someone else will bring another meal, and the first will be shoved to the back of the refrigerator. Then in a couple of days, it will be someone's task to clear out the refrigerator of foods that no one feels like eating. It just makes the sick person and their family feel even more out of control. It is demoralizing. If you do prepare a large amount of food to send over, then YOU be the one who packages the extra portions into small portions into freezer-safe, disposable containers.

In general, think about sending something high in protein content rather than desserts, even though desserts are wonderful. While protein based food item will nourish the patient, it will also be important for those acting as caregivers. If you are a caregiver of a sick person, you may have about 15 minutes to run to the kitchen and make yourself a quick, nourishing meal, and something substantial in the refrigerator trumps a dessert everytime. Send a pint of chicken salad rather than a pint of ice cream. Send a platter of deviled eggs rather than a platter of cookies. Better yet, send them both!

Finally, when you prepare a plate of food for the sick person, again think small and think beautiful. Use a small, salad size plate. Put only a bite or two of several things on the plate. Vary textures and flavors. You never know what will appeal. Two bites of roasted chicken, a small scoop of pasta with Parmesan cheese, something sharp and astringent like some cold grapefruit sections or a couple of pickled beet slices. From day to day, what they can eat may change.

Feb 21, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

Ideas for a healthy dessert to take to dinner party?

Hot Banana Pudding (more like a souffle) Heart healthy since no butter or egg yolks included.

13/4 cups mashed bananas (about 5 ripe bananas.)
3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 egg whites, whipped to stiff peaks with 1/4 tsp salt

Mix bananas, flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Fold in egg whites. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.

Feb 16, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

what sides w/ roast chicken?

How about polenta with lots of garlic and Parmesan cheese, with broccoli rabe with that sweet/sour thing going (sauteed in olive oil with hot pepper flakes, sugar and lemon juice or balsamic vinegar) draped over the polenta?

Feb 10, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

Best and Worst Recipes You Made From a Cooking Show

A spectacular failure in our house was a lasagna prepared with a winter squash, smoked mozzerella, and ricotta cheese filling from Giada's Everyday Italian show. It looked so beautiful on TV, but ugh! Too gooey, too rich. Even my 3 teenage sons, who eat anything, took no second helpings, and the leftovers sat in the refrig for a couple of days until I put it out of its misery with a garbage disposal. Not to dis Giada, though, because I have prepared other recipes of hers with great success.

Feb 09, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking

Poppy Seed pastries

Here is a good recipe for poppy seed filling. Easy, and tastes so much better than the canned stuff.
Poppy Seed Filling
Mix in a blender jar or food processor with steel blade: 3/4 cup poppy seed, 3/4 cup blanched almonds, whole or chopped. Process until the consistency of corn meal.
In a small saucepan, combine the seed/almond mixture, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup milk, 3/4 tsp fresh lemon zest, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter. Cook over low heat with stirring until the mixture comes to a gentle boil and thickens. Takes about 10 min, and it will be the consistency of peanut butter. Cool and stir in 1/2 teaspoon of good vanilla extract. You can also substitute almond extract, but if you do, use less, about 1/4 teaspoon. Use the filling to fill any sweet yeast doughthat has risen once, and been punched down to make a coffee cake or individual pastries. Fill, and let the dough rise again. Bake, and glaze with frosting made of confectioners sugar, milk, a little butter, and some vanilla.
I find that purchased hot roll mix, using the sweetened version on the package, is a simple way to make a yeast coffee cake or pastries. Just follow the package directions. If you need more help, holler. I have a couple of sweet dough recipes that are good. Also, the good old Joy of Cooking has a good sweet yeast dough recipe.

Feb 08, 2007
martmurt in Home Cooking