Thursday, September 26, 2013

ATK Tennessee Whiskey Pork Chops

America's test kitchen

Bourbon tastes fine, but we think it’s worth purchasing the real deal — Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey — for this recipe. Watch the glaze closely during the last few minutes of cooking — the bubbles become very small as it approaches the right consistency.
Tennessee Whiskey Pork Chops


1/2 cup Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey or bourbon
1/2 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 (8- to 10-ounce) bone-in, center-cut pork chops, about 1 inch thick, trimmed
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter


  1. Whisk whiskey, cider, sugar, 2 teaspoons vinegar, mustard, vanilla, and cayenne together in bowl. Transfer 1/4 cup whiskey mixture to 1-gallon zipper-lock bag, add pork chops, press air out of bag, and seal. Turn bag to coat chops with marinade and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours. Reserve remaining whiskey mixture separately.
  2. Remove chops from bag, pat dry with paper towels, and discard marinade. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke. Season chops with salt and pepper and cook until well browned on both sides and a peek into thickest part of a chop using paring knife yields still-pink meat 1/4 inch from surface, 6 to 8 minutes, flipping chops halfway through cooking. Transfer chops to plate and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  3. Add reserved whiskey mixture to skillet and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits with wooden spoon. Cook until reduced to thick glaze, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and, holding on to chops, tip plate to add any accumulated juices back to skillet. Add remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar, whisk in butter, and simmer glaze until thick and sticky, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
  4. Return chops to skillet and let rest in pan, turning chops occasionally to coat both sides, until sauce clings to chops and meat registers 145 degrees, about 5 minutes. Transfer chops to platter and spoon sauce over. Serve.

ATK Juicy Pub Style hamburgers

America's Test Kitchen


Published May 1, 2011.  From Cook's Illustrated.
To create a recipe for juicy, pub-style burgers with big, beefy flavor, we knew that grinding our own beef was a must. We chose sirloin steak tips for their supremely beefy flavor and lack of gristly sinew, and we upped their richness by addin...(more)


Sirloin steak tips are also sold as flap meat. When stirring the butter and pepper into the ground meat and shaping the patties, take care not to overwork the meat or the burgers will become dense.


  • 2pounds sirloin steak tips, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (see note)
  • 4tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • Table salt and ground black pepper
  • 1teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 4hamburger buns, toasted and buttered


  1. 1. Place beef chunks on baking sheet in single layer. Freeze meat until very firm and starting to harden around edges but still pliable, about 35 minutes.
  2. 2. Place one-quarter of meat in food processor and pulse until finely ground into 1/16-inch pieces, about 35 one-second pulses, stopping and redistributing meat around bowl as necessary to ensure beef is evenly ground. Transfer meat to second baking sheet. Repeat grinding with remaining 3 batches of meat. Spread meat over sheet and inspect carefully, discarding any long strands of gristle or large chunks of hard meat or fat.
  3. 3. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Drizzle melted butter over ground meat and add 1 teaspoon pepper. Gently toss with fork to combine. Divide meat into 4 lightly packed balls. Gently flatten into patties 3/4 inch thick and about 4½ inches in diameter. Refrigerate patties until ready to cook. (Patties can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 1 day.)
  4. 4. Season 1 side of patties liberally with salt and pepper. Using spatula, flip patties and season other side. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over high heat until just smoking. Using spatula, transfer burgers to skillet and cook without moving for 2 minutes. Using spatula, flip burgers and cook for 2 minutes longer. Transfer patties to rimmed baking sheet and bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into burger registers 125 degrees for medium-rare or 130 degrees for medium, 3 to 6 minutes.
  5. 5. Transfer burgers to plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer to buns, add desired toppings, and serve.


    Chilling the beef chunks until firm and then processing them into 1/16-inch pieces ensures a coarse grind that stays loosely packed.
    Coating the raw ground beef with melted butter not only ensures that the burgers cook up super-juicy, but also encourages flavorful browning.
    Searing on the stove and then finishing in a low-heat oven trades the usual overcooked exterior for a well-browned crust and juicy center.

ATK Butternut Squash Soup

America's Test Kitchen


Published September 1, 2011.  From Cook's Illustrated.
For soup with intense squash flavor, many recipes will roast the squash to rid it of excess moisture and concentrate its flavor. But what if you don’t want to turn the oven on? For our soup, we start by microwaving large chunks of squash to ha...(more)


Do not use prepeeled squash in this recipe. Our favorite vegetable broth is Swanson Vegetable broth. Low-sodium chicken broth can be substituted for the vegetable broth. If you use a blender to puree the soup, fill the jar two-thirds full-not more-and process in batches. Alternatively, use an immersion blender to puree the soup right in the pot. In addition to sour cream, serve the soup with Fried Leeks (related), which provide nice textural contrast.


  • 2 1/2pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch chunks (about 7 cups)
  • 2tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1leek, white and green parts only, quartered lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4cups vegetable broth
  • 1 - 2cups water
  • 2sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1bay leaf
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • Sour cream


  1. 1. Place squash in bowl, cover, and microwave until paring knife glides easily through flesh, 14 to 18 minutes, stirring halfway through. Carefully transfer squash to colander set in bowl (squash will be very hot) and drain for 5 minutes; reserve liquid.
  2. 2. Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add squash, leek, and 1 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until squash pieces begin to break down and brown fond forms in bottom of pot, 10 to 13 minutes.
  3. 3. Add 2 cups broth and scrape bottom of pot to loosen and dissolve fond. Add remaining 2 cups broth, reserved squash liquid, 1 cup water, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and cayenne. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until leeks are fully tender, 6 to 7 minutes.
  4. 4. Remove and discard bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Working in batches, process soup in blender until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Return soup to clean pot and bring to simmer, thinning with up to 1 cup water to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve with dollop of sour cream. (Soup can be made up to 2 days in advance.)

ATK Coffee Mug Chocolate Cake


Coffee Mug Molten Chocolate Cake for Two

Coffee Mug Molten Chocolate Cake for Two

These individual chocolate cakes are cooked in coffee mugs in the microwave for a nearly instant dessert. To keep our cakes from overflowing, we had to supplement bittersweet chocolate with cocoa powder; cocoa powder has less fat, which produces less steam, thus less chance of an overflow. Microwaving the cakes on 50 percent power was the key to cooking them gently, helping create a light, tender crumb, and stirring the batter halfway through ensured even cooking. Finally, a few chunks of bittersweet chocolate added to each cake created a gooey, molten center.
Serves 2
We developed this recipe in a full-size, 1200-watt microwave. If you’re using a compact microwave with 800 watts or fewer, increase the cooking time to 90 seconds for each interval. For either size microwave, reset to 50 percent power at each stage of cooking. Use a mug that holds at least 11 ounces, or the batter will overflow. The bittersweet chocolate is added at two points.
  • 1. Microwave butter and chopped chocolate in large bowl, stirring often, until melted, about 1 minute. Whisk sugar, eggs, cocoa, vanilla, and salt into chocolate mixture until smooth. In separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Whisk flour mixture into chocolate mixture until combined. Divide batter evenly between 2 (11-ounce) coffee mugs.
  • 2. Place mugs on opposite sides of microwave turntable. Microwave at 50 percent power for 45 seconds. Stir batter and microwave at 50 percent power for 45 seconds (batter will rise to just below rim of mug). Press 2 chocolate pieces into center of each cake until chocolate is flush with top of cake. Microwave at 50 percent power for 35 seconds (cake should be slightly wet around edges of mug and somewhat drier toward center). Let cakes rest for 2 minutes. Serve.


  • You wouldn’t dream of stirring a cake that’s baking in the oven. But to ensure that a microwave cake bakes evenly, that’s exactly what you need to do. We stop the microwave and give the batter a stir after 45 seconds.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

ATK Angel Biscuits


Angel Biscuits
 Makes 16
You will need a 2 1/2 inch round biscuit cutter for this recipe
  • 1 cup buttermilk, heated to 110 degrees
  • 1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 200 degrees. Maintain temperature for 10 minutes, then turn off oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • 2. Stir buttermilk and yeast together until dissolved. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt on low speed until combined. Add shortening and mix until just incorporated, about 1 minute. Slowly mix in buttermilk mixture until dough comes together, about 30 seconds. Fit mixer with dough hook and mix on low speed until dough is shiny and smooth, about 2 minutes.
  • 3. On lightly floured surface, knead dough briefly to form smooth ball. Roll dough into 10-inch circle, about 1/2 inch thick. Using 21/2-inch biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut out rounds and transfer to prepared baking sheets. Gather remaining dough and pat into 1/2-inch-thick circle. Cut remaining biscuits and transfer to baking sheets. Shape according to photos at right. Cover dough with kitchen towels and place in warm oven. Let rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  • 4. Remove baking sheets from oven and heat oven to 350 degrees. Once oven is fully heated, remove kitchen towels and bake until biscuits are golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter. Serve.
  • Food Processor Method: In step 2, process flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt until thoroughly mixed. Add shortening and pulse until only pea-sized pieces of shortening remain, about 6 one-second pulses. Add buttermilk mixture in steady stream and pulse until dough comes together, about 6 more pulses. (Dough will be very sticky.) Turn dough out onto floured work surface and knead until shiny and smooth, about 5 minutes, adding more flour as necessary. Continue recipe with rolling out dough as directed in step 3.

Shaped by an Angel

Here's how we create Angel Biscuits' signature puffed-wing shape.
  • 1. Using a ruler, make an indentation through the center of each round.
  • 2. Lightly brush half of the dough with water.
  • 3. Fold each round of dough in half; press lightly to adhere.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

America's Test Kitchen Cream Puffs


 Harvey House Chocolate Puffs

    Harvey House Chocolate Puffs

Fred Harvey started the first chain of “fast food” restaurants in the United States along the rail lines of the Southwest. The original recipe (from The Harvey House Cookbook) was baked in a shallow muffin tin and had no chocolate flavor. A blob of strawberry jam and a dollop of whipped cream were sandwiched in the middle of this otherwise dull, dry pastry. To start, we wanted a pâte à choux pastry shell with solid chocolate flavor, which we achieved by adding cocoa powder to the dough. To fortify the flavor and texture of the filling, we made a quick strawberry jam and then married it with fresh whipped cream. Finally, we topped the puffs with a glaze to reinforce the chocolate flavor.

Serves 8
An accurate oven temperature is essential for puffs to puff. We recommend that you keep an oven thermometer in your oven (we like the Cooper-Atkins model). To prevent lumps in the whipped cream filling, be sure to sift the confectioners’ sugar. The assembled puffs will hold in the refrigerator for up to 1 hour.
INGREDIENTSChocolate Puffs
  • 2large eggs plus 1 large egg white
  • 1teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2cup water
  • 5tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4teaspoon salt
  • 1/2cup (2 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa
Strawberry Filling
Chocolate Glaze
  • 1cup (4 ounces) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 3tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 2tablespoons water
  • 1teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1. FOR THE CHOCOLATE PUFFS: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk eggs, egg white, and vanilla together in bowl. Bring water, butter, sugar, and salt to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When butter is melted, remove pan from heat. Using rubber spatula, stir in flour until smooth. Return saucepan to low heat and cook, constantly stirring and smearing mixture against bottom of saucepan, until mixture is slightly shiny and registers 170 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • 2. Transfer flour mixture to food processor and process until slightly cool, about 30 seconds. Remove feed tube insert from food processor. With food processor running, slowly add egg mixture through feed tube until incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl and process until smooth, thick paste forms, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle cocoa over paste and process until combined, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.
  • 3. Cut ½ inch from corner of large zipper-lock bag. Transfer cocoa paste to bag and pipe eight 2-inch-wide and 1¼-inch-high mounds 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Dip small spoon in water and smooth exterior of mounds.
  • 4. Bake puffs for 15 minutes (do not open oven door) and then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until firm, 20 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and turn off oven. Using tip of paring knife, carefully cut ½-inch slit into side of each puff. Return puffs to oven, prop door open with wooden spoon, and let puffs dry for 30 minutes. Transfer puffs to wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes. (Puffs can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 day or frozen in single layer in airtight container for up to 1 month.)
  • 5. FOR THE STRAWBERRY FILLING: Meanwhile, cook strawberries in medium saucepan over medium-low heat, mashing occasionally with potato masher, until thickened and reduced to ½ cup, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour.
  • 6. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip cream, sugar, and vanilla on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Add cream cheese and whip until stiff peaks form, about 30 seconds. Gently fold chilled strawberries into whipped cream, return mixture to large bowl, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Filling can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.)
  • 7. FOR THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE: Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet. Using serrated knife, cut puffs crosswise into 2 pieces, ½ inch from bottom. Top puff bottoms with strawberry whipped cream and replace tops; transfer to rack. Combine sugar and cocoa in bowl. Whisk in water and vanilla until smooth. Spoon 1 tablespoon glaze over each puff and let sit for 15 minutes until set. Serve.


Choux paste relies on steam in order to puff. But the steam that lifts the puffs can also make them soggy and flat. To help your puffs avoid that fate, follow these two steps.
  • 1. CUT ’EM
    Cut a 1/2-inch slit into each puff to allow the steam to escape.
  • 2. DRY ’EM
    Dry the puffs for 30 minutes in a partially open, turned-off oven.

Minion Hat

Here's a picture of the Minion Hat that I worked up.  Fun hat to make, fun to wear.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Blouse and bag parade

Here are a few of my summer blouses that I hope to be storing shortly when the cooler weather arrives.  The bag was made with scraps from the blouses.

Fall jackets

I've been getting ready for the cooler weather but Mother Nature reminds me that it's still summer.  Until it gets cooler, I will have my dress form (whom I call "Gracie") showcase my work.  Here's one.