Indian Rice Pudding with Rosewater Strawberries


Rice pudding speaks comfort food to your taste buds. This version shouts out Indian spices—cardamom and saffron—and flavors—rosewater and pistachios—as enchanting as the country of India itself. It is well worth a special trip to an ethnic food market, if needed, for the seasonings.

Prep and Cook Time: 1 hour plus chill time

For Rice Pudding:
1/2 cup basmati rice
1 quart (4 cups) whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads

For Strawberries:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons rosewater
4 cups fresh California strawberries, stemmed and quartered

1/3 cup chopped toasted pistachio nuts

1. To make Indian Rice Pudding: Place rice in a sieve; rinse under cold water until water runs clear. In a small saucepan, combine rice with enough water to cover; let sit 15 minutes. Drain rice; add 3/4 cup water. Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 15 minutes, or until rice is tender and water is absorbed.

2. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine milk, the 1/2 cup sugar, cardamom, saffron, and rice. Over medium heat, bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, about 45 minutes or until milk is absorbed and rice is creamy. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Cool to room temperature.

3. To make Rosewater Strawberries: In a small saucepan over medium heat, simmer the 3/4 cup sugar and water just until sugar dissolves. Cool; stir in rosewater. Combine syrup with strawberries in a bowl; cover and chill.

4. To serve, divide rice pudding among 6 dessert bowls. Spoon 2/3 cup Rosewater Strawberries around pudding in each bowl, making sure to include some of the syrup; sprinkle with pistachio nuts. Makes 6 servings.

Source: California Strawberry Commission

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Easter Lamb Roast

Easter Roast Lamb

Need to scale your holiday dinner for a foursome this year? Than this is just the roast, a tender half-leg of lamb where the shank portion of the leg has been removed. New Zealand, renowned for its lamb (there are more sheep, than humans living there), exports high-quality frozen lamb, which tends to be mostly grass fed, to the U.S.

One bone-in sirloin half-leg of New Zealand lamb, thawed from frozen or chilled (3 to 4 pounds with bone)
l pound potatoes, roughly cut up
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise, if large
3/4 pound winter squash, peeled, seeds removed, and cut into chunks
2 red onions, cut into wedges
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh ground black pepper                                                                                                                            1 garlic bulb, cloves separated but still in their skin
Zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
Few sprigs fresh rosemary
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon warm water

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Precook potatoes in a pan boiling salted water for 5 minutes; drain.

2. Place the lamb in a large non-stick roasting pan; scatter the potatoes, carrots, squash, and red onions around the lamb. Drizzle with oil and season well with salt and pepper. Add wine and water to pan.

3. Place the roasting pan in the oven for 10 minutes and then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Roast 30 minutes more.

4. Add the garlic and rosemary sprigs to the pan and scatter the fennel seeds and lemon over the lamb. Add a splash more wine or water to the pan if it is looking very dry.  Continue roasting until the vegetables are tender and beginning to caramelize and the lamb is cooked to your liking (about 20 to 30 minutes more for medium. An instant-read thermometer should read 150 degrees F.)

5. Remove from oven, cover with foil and rest for 15 minutes before carving. Makes 4 servings.

For more information about New Zealand Lamb go to

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Party On

Margarita LipLidz

What It Is: Remember the outdoor party when, Plop, a bug flew into your or your guest’s drink? No more with LipLidz, stemmed goblets with snap-on lids that keep liquids from spilling out and unwanteds from flying in.

Why We Like Them: We’re especially attracted to practical ideas that come from small business entrepreneurs. These classy glasses were designed by a clever North Carolina hostess who encountered the bug-in-your-glass problem more than once and did something about it. Made of BPA-free Tritan, the glasses are spillproof, bugproof,  shatterproof, and dishwasher safe (top rack).  Each lid has a hole along the edge that allows for easy sipping. When you want the lid off for refilling or storing, simply hang it on a convenient  “hook” on the side of the glass. Another benefit: The lid can also double as a “plate” for your appetizers, so you don’t have to have three hands. LipLidz are just the thing for outdoor events, such as patio, pool, boating, tailgating, beach, lake, and RVing parties. Got a family reunion, wedding, or other major happening in the near future? For an added fee, you can have your name or personal message etched on each glass.

Details: LipLidz come in four styles: Margarita, Martini, Wine, and Brewtail (for beer, iced tea, and other beverages.) The lids are available in nine different colors, and you can vary the colors within each glassware set. Margarita, Martini, and Wine set of four with lids sell for $35; Brewtail set of 4, $37. Set of two Wine, $20; set of two Brewtail, $22. Free shipping.  Available at

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Two-Berry Cherry Conserve


Nan took advantage of the summertime fresh berry and cherry glut, patterning this recipe after a gift of commercial conserve she enjoyed last year. Fruit conserves usually include a combination of fruits. If there is sufficient pectin in the fruits themselves, no additional pectin is needed. While you can enjoy this fruit spread on any kind of bread, it makes croissants, homemade biscuits, or scones taste especially spectacular. Stir a little of your favorite fruit liqueur into the conserve to turn it into an elegant dessert sauce for ice cream, cake, and such.

1 pound fresh red raspberries

1 pound pitted fresh sour cherries

1 pound fresh blueberries

2-1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. If you prefer to have a seedless conserve, first puree and sieve raspberries, removing seeds. Coarsely chop half of the cherries. Combine raspberries, cherries, blueberries, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and lemon juice in a 2-quart nonreactive saucepan.


2. Heat and stir fruit mixture over medium-high heat about 2 or 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.


3. Add about a third of the remaining sugar; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Add remaining sugar in two more batches. Bring mixture to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil gently, reducing heat as needed to retain a gentle boil, and stirring often. Cook 25 to 30 minutes or until mixture is very thick but not pasty.


4. Meanwhile, clean and sterilize 1/2-pint canning jars and lids as directed on jar lid package. Boil water in a large water-bath canner. When fruit mixture has reached the proper thickness, ladle into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace; seal with lids. Boil in water bath canner for 10 minutes. Remove from canner; let stand on a wire rack and let cool at least overnight. Makes about 4 half-pints.


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Minted Watermelon Salad and more

watermelon Salad

Minted Watermelon Salad

This 5-ingredient salad is refreshing and easy to combine. It will become your go-to salad for  summer meals. It pairs well with all grilled foods and even as a side for a hearty sandwich. The watermelon sweetens the tomatoes, so much so that you wonder if you added tomatoes to the salad.  The feta adds the dash of salt which is so compatible with melon.  Seedless watermelon is becoming commonplace.The black seeds are history but  tiny, not developed “seeds” often white remain. They are edible and NOT worth picking them out if you are the obsessive type.  The mini watermelons are only available seedless.


4 cups cubed fresh seedless watermelon

2 cups cherry tomatoes (1 pint), quartered

3/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. In  a large bowl, combine watermelon, tomatoes, mint, and lime juice; toss. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour. To serve, sprinkle on the feta cheese. Makes 6 cups or 8 servings.

Ed. Note: Save the watermelon rinds and make our watermelon pickles, (see below) and come winter you will be so thankful.

Watermelon pickles, today’s great example of recycling, are appearing on many new popular high-end restaurant menus. You can make your own. First enjoy the sweet nutrition-packed fruit, then cut off the green outer rind and discard; trim the white inner core and cut it into bite-sized pieces to make the pickles. With the the aid of the VacuVin  Instant Pickler, it will take only hours to taste your own watermelon pickles. Watermelon pickles are versatile, going well with a variety of foods, from burgers, steak, chicken to simple cottage cheese. They are a great pick-me-up.

4 cups cubed watermelon rind (white part)

4 cups water

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup white or cider vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh gingerroot

2 dried whole red chile peppers

8 whole peppercorns

1. In a large saucepan, heat watermelon rind and water to boiling. Cook 5  to 10 minutes until tender. Drain.

2. Return the rind to the saucepan and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to make sure the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool mixture completely. Once cool, spoon into the bottom of the VacuVin. Cover and extract the air.  Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Store in the refrigerator up to 6 months.  Makes two 16-ounce jars of pickles.





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Fit to Be Square

microplane cube grater

What It Is: Think of the Microplane Cube Grater as a dwarf version of a traditional box grater. The modular-shaped tool provides surgically sharp blades on three sides in coarse, ribbon, and fine grating sizes. The center core catches, measures, and can stow up to 1-1/2 cups of food while you grate.

Why We Like It: Multifunctional. Compact. Convenient. Stylish. What’s not to love about this 3-cutters-in-1 concept, especially when it includes Microplane’s reknowned ultra-sharp cutters? The Cube is especially handy when you don’t have great quantities of food to grate, or when you need different sizes or styles. Also, storage space is about a quarter that of most box graters.

Details: The Microplane Cube Grater consists of a 3x3x3-inch plastic housing with surgical-grade stainless steel blades—fine, ribbon, and coarse—on three sides and a protective cover. The catch feature and protective cover double as a measuring device (holds up to 1-1/2 cups). Dishwasher safe on top rack; hand wash safety cover. Available in black, red, or green. Retails for $20. Available at and

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Lekue Popcorn Popper



driver-94What It Is: Pop goes the corn. Turn your microwave oven into a popcorn machine with the Lekue Microwave  Popcorn Popper. Made of food-safe silicone, the base and lid fit in a standard microwave oven. Pop the corn kernels on the popcorn setting or set it for 2 to 4 minutes, depending on the speed of your microwave.

Why We Like It:  Corn kernels can be popped without any additional ingredients for a  healthy snack.  Just corn. Pour 1/4- to 1/3-cup corn into the bottom of the silicone  bowl, top with the cover, but do not cram it into place. Microwave on the popcorn setting of the oven for 2 to 4  minutes on high. (The wide range of time varies with the individual  microwave ovens.) The good news:  if there are any kernels that don’t pop, pour off the popped corn and return the “old maids”  to the oven and pop again. Season the popcorn and enjoy right from the bowl. A small recipe booklet is included with suggestions for  flavored popcorn: curry, coconut, sweetened herbs, honey, lemon, or truffle oil.

Details: The two-piece, high-grade silicone red bowl/base and see-through or clear lid helps keep pesky kernels from popping all over the microwave. The bowl collapes for space-savings storage. The bowl and lid are dishwasher safe. Pot holders are suggested for removing the bowl from the oven after popping.  Retails for $20. Available at or

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Wearing-of-the-Green Corned Beef and Cabbage


Why did this dish became the symbol of a St Patrick’s Day meal? One story purports it was a matter of Irish sensibility. The Irish immigrants loved pork but found this meat expensive when they migrated to America. Living in areas with other immigrants, they learned to love the corned brisket of the delis and found that it resembled their pork meal in Ireland. The corned beef and cabbage meal  (also called a New England boiled dinner) became a classic. Corned beef, a brined or cured, less-tender beef brisket,  is cooked in liquid until fork tender. For our version, the cabbage takes on a new, slightly sweet twist;  it roasts in the oven while the carrots and potatoes cook in the broth with the beef.

1 corned beef (3 to 4 lbs.)

8 cups water

1 sweet onion, cut into wedges

6 whole cloves

1 bay leaf

2  cloves garlic

1 small head cabbage (about 2 lbs.)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1-1/2 pounds small red-skinned potatoes

1 pound carrots, peeled

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Dijon mustard

For Creamy Horseradish Sauce:

1 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons prepared horseradish

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Place brisket (and seasoning packet , if it comes with the brisket) iin a Dutch oven. Add the water, onion, cloves, bay leaf, and garlic. Bring to a boil over high heat; skim any foam that rises to the surface.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 2 hours,  turning the meat every 30 minutes.

2. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.  Grease a large jelly-roll pan with 1 tablespoon oil and heat  pan in the oven for 5 minutes. Place the cabbage wedges on the preheated pan and sprinkle cabbage with remaining olive oil. Roast for 15 minutes. With tongs, turn the cabbage wedges and continue roasting for 15 more minutes.

3. Meanwhile, add the carrots and potatoes to the broth in the Dutch oven; cover and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, or until  vegetables are crisp-tender and meat is fork-tender.

4. To make the Creamy Horseradish Sauce: In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the sauce and stir until well mixed. Makes about 1 cup.

5. To serve, transfer brisket and vegetables to a large serving platter; discard the broth. Sprinkle with the parsley. Serve with mustard and/or Creamy Horseradish Sauce. Makes 6 to 8 servings.




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St. Pat’s Guinness Chocolate Cake

guinness cake 8

Hey, St. Patrick’s Day fans, get ready to celebrate with surprisingly good bedfellows, beer and chocolate. Guinness stout and British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, who created the recipe, are forever linked to this stir-together, moist and deep-chocolate cake. The stout imparts a near spicy flavor, reminiscent of gingerbread. The creamy frosting is spread on top only so as to resemble the head on a mug of stout. Nigella uses a springform pan to bake the cake, but Nan used a 3-inch-deep de Marle silicone baking pan with equally wonderful results.

guinness cake

2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup Guinness stout

1/2 cup unsalted butter

2 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 large eggs, beaten

2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For Frosting:

6 ounces package cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

1/3 cup heavy cream

1. Grease a 9-inch round de Marle silicone baking pan or 9-inch springform pan; line bottom with parchment paper. If using a silicone pan, place it on a wire rack or baking sheet. Set aside. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. In a small saucepan, heat stout and butter until butter melts.

guinness cake1

3. Pour into a medium mixing bowl. With a wire whisk, stir sugar and cocoa into stout mixture.

guinness cake2

4. In a small bowl, beat eggs; blend in yogurt and vanilla.

guinness cake4

5. Stir into stout mixture. Stir in flour mixture until smooth.

guinness cake5

6. Pour batter into prepared pan.

guinness cake6

7. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until cake tests done near center with a wooden toothpick. Remove from oven to wire rack; let cool 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan; cool completely.

5. To make Frosting, in a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and vanilla until light. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until well combined. Gradually beat in heavy cream, beating until smooth and creamy. Frost top of cake. Cut in wedges to serve. Makes  12 servings.

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2014 GadgetGal Gift-Picks, Part 3


Looking for something extra special for the extra special cooking lovers in your life? Check out these gift ideas.

Look, No Hands

red kitchen aid multi cooker

The makers of the iconic stand mixer, KitchenAid, have come up with the amazing new Multicooker that takes many different cooking tasks off your hands. While it looks a bit like a slow cooker, and does slow cook, it also does much more, including sautéing, simmering, steaming, and 24-hour keep warm. With 11 pre-programed functions and customizable settings, there’s minimal learning curve to this appliance. The intuitive display on the front automatically leads you step-by-step through each function. The precisely controlled temperature can be adjusted from 110 to 450 degrees F. PTFE/PFOA-free nonstick ceramic cooking surface makes for easy cleaning. A three-speed Stir Tower Attachment is available for even more hands-off convenience. Limited lifetime warranty. Available in silver or candy apple red. Suggested retail $350; $580 with Stirring Tower exclusively at

True Grit

l'equip nutrimill

Grinding your own flour gives any home baking aficionado a step up to the most extraordinary and nutritious results. Where commercial mills remove 30 percent of the wheat kernel, milling you own flour with an electric L’Equip Nutrimill Classic Grain Mill produces flour that preserves all the nutrition of the whole kernels. A variable texture control allows you to create fine to course texture of non-oily grains, including wheat, rye, spelt, millet, rice, corn, beans, quinoa, amaranth, and oats.. A multi-channel air flow helps keep the motor cool for a longer life, and the easy-to-use milling chamber is self-cleaning. Large 20-cup capacity. Limited lifetime warranty. MSRP $240. Available at

Juice Bar Plus

fagor platino plus juicer

Freshly made juice mixtures are the elixirs of the 21st century. Making your own juice drink–or enjoying it as a frozen sorbet—is slick with the Fagor Platino Plus Juicer and Sorbet Maker. Easy to use for beginner or experienced, this second-generation model is called a slow juicer because it processes fresh or frozen foods, including nuts and wheat grass, in two steps to produce the maximum amount of juice, without shredding or grinding the food. Slow juicing creates no oxidation or separation, so it is more nutritious and closer to its natural state. The extra-large feed tube can process some whole fruits, such as apples or pears. Juice is extracted through a spout into a 35-ounce BPA-free collection cup and the solids collected in the 35-ounce unit on the side. High-quality stainless steel blades and easy to clean micro-mesh filter.  Includes a cleaning brush. 5-year warranty. Fagor Platino Juicer retails for $200 and available at

Function Junction

cuisinart griddler deluxe

Countertop appliances with multi-purpose functions are the ones most likely to stay on your countertop for regular use. We’re partial to the Cuisinart Griddler Deluxe.  This electric with reversible griddle/grill plates produces top-notch pancakes, bacon and eggs, sandwiches, paninis, burgers, and grilled meats. With an extra-large grilling surface (240 square inches open), you can entertain crowds or, using the half grill/griddle, just your family. The brushed-stainless Deluxe model includes dual-zone temperature control and a special sear feature that heats to 500 degrees F. for up to two minutes, locking in the juiciness and flavor of steaks or chops. All accessories are dishwasher safe. Limited 3 year warranty. MSRP $159. Available at

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