Mystery Writer’s Tasty Supper Dip, Jan 11-17, 2019


Misty shows you what you’ll find in this week’s salon

  TIDBITS – salt baking perks / drink your apple pie / foodfest    CS MARKETPLACE SPOTLIGHT – party easy    FEATURED RECIPE – mysterious supper dip    TIP – garlic easy    THE WEEK – Nasty reading / squash easy / Mex salad lost & found

Misty’s History    Misty’s Gallery


Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

  Have you tried this technique? The boffo publication Saveur reveals the benefits of salt baking and how to do it. Prepping food this way, they say, allows the food to cook in its own juices, produces a moist result, and enhances flavor, and without making anything too salty. You’ll see how to use this method and also recipes for applying it to fish, Cornish game hens, and shrimp.

  Drink your dessert. What a tasty idea for a morning starter, a midday pick-you-up, a sippable dessert, or with a spirited addition, an after dinner libation. The apple pie smoothie features the flavor profile of the title pie along with banana for added richness and Greek yogurt for a silky texture. Btw, I did not use all the spices, so if you follow the full recipe will likely see more speckles.

  Fort Lauderdale in Feb? Then you could be in for “a weekend of CRAVE-able Bites.” Part of a series in the city, this CRAVE will offer a chance to dine and learn with such notables as Alex Guarnaschelli, Geoffrey Zakarian, Jeff Mauro, Valerie Bertinelli and lots of others.


The holidays may be over, but the parties don’t have to be

They can  go right on, year around. Or at least . . . after a suitable recovery period!

What brought that happy thought to mind was an item in a pro culinary newsletter that took note of restaurants across the land catering to an ongoing, and maybe increasing, penchant for ordering an array of appetizers in place of dinner.

Let’s borrow from good! Thinking how appetizers can often be totally prepared in advance, or just given a quick kiss by the oven, and how you may not even need flatwear, and that with variety there’s likely something for everyone – that this adds up to an easy time, a party just waiting to happen.

I’ve included a link for something which you may have seen previously in the salons, the Six Sisters books, treasure troves of party goodies and guides. And you’ll also find fun appetizers in Tiffani Thiessen’s book {see pic}, featured in our Dec 7 salon

Google, appetizer sites    Amazon, appetizer books    Six Sisters cookbooks

Thiessen book    CS Marketplace


As promised, out of the Mystery Writers Cookbook 

So many to choose from, but we finally settled on “Charlaine’s Very Unsophisticated Supper Dip” by Charlaine Harris. Don’t be frightened by the long list of ingredients because it goes together in a flash and results in a grand mix of flavors.

The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook: Wickedly Good Meals and Desserts to Die ForAs for some of the other contributors, Sarah Paretsky pays homage to V.I.’s mom with Chicken Gabriella, Sheila Connolly gives us an Apple Goodie, James Patterson checks in with Grandma’s Killer Chocolate Cake, Rhys Bowen offers up scones and a reminder that there are recipes in all her books, Peter James shares his fave martini, and to wash it all down, Lee Child schools us on the best way to make and serve coffee.

You can find more about the book in our Dec 14 salon. So much good stuff, purloined from the books or just authors’ favorites, and each starts with the dish’s backstory, 4 1/2 stars on Amazon.

 “The Mystery Writers Cookbook”    Recipe Page  


Garlic the way you need it, easily

Prepping garlic can be so easy thanks to the late Mr. Food. Here’s what he showed me: put the clove on a work surface {if very large, cut in half, cut sides down}, then take a regular flatware fork and start pressing down all around the edges, gradually making your way to the center.

No sticking to everything, and so easy to go coarse, medium, fine – or add a little salt and turn it into a paste. No muss, no fuss, no cuss. You can use this method for the butternut squash sauce in the next section.


Please join  me in my kitchen &  parlor

  Reading and very much enjoying Anthony Bourdain’s 2006 book, The Nasty Bits. If you can get past the first two page, where you may think this really is all about what the title indicates {it isn’t}, you’ll be treated to Bourdain thumbsing up and down on such topics as fast food, celebrity chefs, Las Vegas restaurants, crime, regional cooking, New York, New Orleans, tv cooking shows, Christmas, and on and on.

  The item on butternut squash in our Dec 14 salon got me thinking of one of my favorite childhood dishes, squash stuffed with seasoned ground beef pattie, usually served with baked apples. Mom would usually make this with halved acorn squash, and how she managed to factor the size of the squash, the amount of meat, the baking temp and time so that it all came out of the oven perfectly remains a mystery {maybe the above writers could help!}.

  So instead I bake the squash separately and fill it with ground beef crumbled and browned with onions, garlic and a bit of taco sauce. Comfort food, especially with a nice ladle of cheese sauce and a sprinkle of cilantro.

  Bummer and recovery. So a nearby restaurant served a salad I absolutely loved, almost outshining the neighborhood-sized enchilada next to it. And now – poof! – off the menu. OK, let’s try this at home. Lettuce, tomato, avocado, green onion, pickled jalapeno, a dressing of mayo, ranch, sriracha, chili powder, garlic salt, all topped with a crumble of corn chips. Ha! Preeeety darn close. Next time, Doritos!

BJN’s Eclectic Offerings

{new, and still doesn’t quite have all its ingredients}

So far next week: Tasty toasts, another Mex salad, sheet pans strike again, ham bonanza, food for dogs

Cook with passion and a party spirit, whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you
Email me at 
{subj – CooksSalon} & receive an “invitation” to weekly online salons



Ree’s Easy Rich Caramel Brownies, for Nov 30-Dec 6, 2018


Misty shows you what you’ll find in this week’s salon 

  TIDBITS – mashies go Italian / it’s OK, no yolk / ham it up {M – ham !!!   CS MARKETPLACE SPOTLIGHT – party time cookbooks / for celeb chef fans    FEATURED RECIPE –  oh these are goooooood    TIP – gravy rules    THE WEEK – no recipe required / skewer it / best dressed salads

Misty’s History    Misty’s Gallery


Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks

  Here’s a tasty way to transform leftover mashed potatoes into a whole new dish with an Italian accent. Gnocchi! And really, couldn’t be easier. I’m going to give this prep a try and if it turns out as good as it sounds, I’ll share as an item in a future My Week section of the Salon. Need to play with a sauce too, and actually have a somewhat unusual idea in mind.

  Never saw one, but in case you have . . . Well Done newsletter brings us assurances from MyRecipes that if you find a white egg yolk, no problem. No need to chuck it out. Just a matter of what the chicken ate, e.g., a bunch of white corn. Good news that we wouldn’t have to waste it.

  That same dual source also offers to school us on doing a boffo job on one of the season’s favorite entrees. Their list of “The 11 Most Common Mistakes People Make Cooking Ham – And How to Prevent Them”  is chock full of valuable information. Also includes a video on the best way to carve a spiral ham. And if you hang in there, other helpful demos follow.


Oh these cookbooks are such fun

If their cookbooks are any indication, for these six sisters life is an ongoing party. This is food that is fun, festive, a riot of colors and flavors.

Depending on the book, you also may well find cooking hacks, pantry help, storage tricks, menus, serving suggestions, decorating ideas, artistic flourishes, party activities, organization tips, instructions for homemade gifts, craft projects, even family traditions. One of the latter included in “A Year with Six Sisters Stuff,” communal and clever, is the “D-I-Y At-Home Family Restaurant.”

Here are some recipes on my do-list from a sampling of their books . . .

“Dinner Made Easy” – taco braid {shown}, crispy coconut chicken strips with pina colada dipping sauce, skillet pizza {actually a turbo charged mac}

“A Year with Six Sisters Stuff” – chicken cordon bleu bites, nutty caramel bars {shown}, mini garlic monkey bread

“12 Days of Christmas with Six Sisters Stuff” – peppermint crunch ice cream pie, bacon & egg breakfast casserole {shown}, slow cooker chicken fajita soup

“Celebrate Every Season with Six Sisters Stuff” {my personal fave} – baked cheeseburger sliders, slow cooker chili cheese dip, St Patrick’s Day cupcakes {shown}

One that I don’t have at hand but that sounds equally interesting is their “Copycat Cooking with Six Sisters Stuff: 100+ Restaurant Meals You Can Make at Home.” It’s 5 stars on Amazon, and it seems their books are generally at least 4 1/2 stars. Good stuff!

All Six Sisters cookbooks

At CS Marketplace: “Especially for . . .” – “Cooks”  “Readers”  “Dog Lovers”

Extra for the cooks on your list – especially those who love celeb chef shows. Our special page right on this site lists easy links to the cookbooks, videos, items and giftcards of over 100 of the chefs you know from their tv shows, best sellers, and award winning restaurants. Within this treasure trove you’ll also find some books by these folks that go beyond cookbooks, including fiction and memoirs.  Fine Chefs Book & Gift Shop


Chef-crafted rich brownies with caramel – easy caramel!

It’s the holidays, go for it! Which is to say, bake a batch of Ree Drummond’s Caramel Brownies, featured on a recent show. Maybe the best brownie I’ve ever had.

What makes the caramel so easy? It’s actually rich dulce de leche . . . out of a jar. And the brownie itself checks in with its own decadence thanks to butter, chocolate and cocoa, and extra vanilla. So good as is, could even skip the caramel and just use the powdered sugar.

Want the best dulce de leche for this recipe or another recipe or atop ice cream or just on a spoon??? Click below to see the ones with top ratings on Amazon.

Recipe    Ree’s cookbooks    Ree’s show videos    Best Dulce de Leche 


Well this makes it a Well Done/My Recipes trifecta

One more from the same twin sources cited in two Tidbits above, elevated to Tip section status. Why? You may or may not be making hard cooked eggs and ham this holiday season, but chances are pretty good you will be making gravy.

Gravy! Pour it on and so many already good dishes get booted into the culinary ionosphere. To make it extra good, follow these guidelines on when and how to use cornstarch or flour, and really for whenever you want to thicken a sauce.

Good gravy


Please join  me in my kitchen &  parlor

  Well this is nice. A dish I actually made from a recipe can in fact just be put together according to your favorite version – which is to say, really, no recipe needed. What is it? Nachos in a sheet pan, corn corn chips topped with all the usual suspects – maybe some chorizo, tomatoes, onions, garlic, black olives, cilantro and of course cheese{s} – and then, fried eggs. Awesome breakfast or brunch. Pretty too. And here’s another breakfast idea {not the salad shown}.

  Another episode of “Pioneer Woman” had a dish that resonated with me because it offers a variation on a presentation trick I already use, and that’s serving an entire course on a skewer. In my “50 … Tricks” Kindle book it applies to appetizer, salad {shown, carrots and Brussels sprouts blanched}, and dessert. Drummond’s is a clever breakfast version, a lineup of sauteed sausage links, onion wedges, red bell peppers, and green bell peppers, plus cheese stuffed omelets, rolled and sliced. Gonna try this too.

  Lookout, here come some bragging rights and a secret. All inspired by a Basically newsletter from Bon Appetit that says we should dress our salads twice, first acidic and then creamy. Here’s how they do it. I’ve been doing this for years but in an easier {OK, and less pro} way. The secret: I mix equal parts of Wishbone Italian and a good Ranch. Truth be told, it’s a crowd pleaser.

So far next week: sassy soup, foodie jewelry, wine pairing, fave foodie writer on dining alone, millennials want whaaaaat???

Cook with passion and a party spirit, whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you
Email me 
{subj – CooksSalon} & receive an “invitation” to weekly online salons

Red, White & Blue desserts for the 4th, for June 29-July 5, 2018

  CatChat – Misty’s preview 

Festive desserts for the 4th    How many chocolate recipes???    Anybody “hangry”?

  Perfect Crispy Bacon {M – mom ran this for me!  Cook like world’s best chefs 

  Boffo “Six Sisters” cookbook    Great use for sticky wrap {M –  balled up, a fun toy

Barbara’s week: playing posset, chips redux, unexpected dad tales

NEW at CS Marketplace, even more stuff for cooks plus “Especially for Readers” & “Especially for Dog Lovers” {M – again with the dogs}

{M – but look what else mom posted for me!!!  Sleeping kitties – by Reader’s Digest}

Misty’s History    Misty’s Gallery 

♦  Tidbits  

Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

  Chocoholics rejoice! Because right here, waiting just on the other side of this link, is “51 Best Chocolate Recipes” as curated by the boffo food pub, “Real Simple.”  Chocolate rules!   Real Simple 

  Oh, oh, better have a snack. Or get one fast to that “hangry” person. This recently coined term refers to the crabbiness some people experience when they’re hungry. Turns out there’s a reason for it and a way to cope with it {other than, say, a sandwich} Newsweek tells the tale. OK, OK, dinner’s ready!

  Crispy bacon lovers, gather ’round.    From Extra Crispy {ummm, yeahhhh}, how to give what I heard one fellow describe as meat candy that perfect texture.  Crispy bacon every time

♦  CS Marketplace Spotlight  

Steal from good

I don’t know about you but when I dine out what I enjoy almost, almost, as much as the food is seeing what ingredients, techniques, combinations, I can play with back in my own kitchen. Sometimes a bit of success, sometimes not, but always fun.

So if you happen to live in any of these cities, or visit at some point, you can steal from not only good but the best. Six U.S. restaurants earned ranking on this year’s “World’s 50 Best Restaurants”: #46 Saison in San Francisco, #34 Alinea in Chicago, #26 Le Bernardin in NYC, #25 Cosme in NYC, #12 Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Tarrytown NY, #4 Eleven Madison Park in NYC. {shown}.

Or, you could dive into their cookbooks, some dedicated to recipes from the actual winning restaurants, and all likely to incorporate professional tips and colorful photos. And you can do just that with five of the honorees, all on Amazon.

Cookbooks by Grant Achatz, Alinea   

Cookbooks by Eric Ripert, Le Bernardin   

Cookbooks by Enrique Olivera, Cosme   

Cookbooks by Dan Barber, Blue Hill at Stone Barns   

Cookbooks by Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park 

CS Marketplace

Also at CS Marketplace, “Especially for Readers” & “Especially for Dog Lovers”

♦  Featured Recipe  

Happy Birthday America!

One of the things I just love about the “Six Sisters Stuff” cookbooks is that they are just so much fun. Something they’ve mentioned in one of their writings is that they “love parties,” and that comes to life in recipe after festive recipe.

Like these preps – perfect sweets for 4th of July celebrations. And some, like the popcorn mix, couldn’t be easier. That one by the way is from their “Celebrate Every Season,” book and it sure does exactly that with such dishes as slow cooker chili cheese dip, mini red velvet cheesecakes, St Pat’s Day cupcakes {with gold-sprinkled caramels!}, bacon Parmesan green beans, Nutella stuffed French toast, and dinner in a pumpkin

The sisters have a whole series of fun cookbooks and all are rated 4+ stars on Amazon. With just a few exceptions, they’re available as Kindles, and also paperbacks that are Prime Eligible. As one of the reviewers said of their “Celebrate Every Season” cookbook, “If you love the holidays and cooking easy and good recipes. Then this is the book for you.”

Dessert page on the Six Sisters site including recipes for the dishes shown

“Celebrate Every Season”    Other “Six Sisters Stuff” cookbooks


♦  Tip  

One of my go-to uses for sealing wrap – Press ‘n Seal or any store brand – has nothing to do with sealing. In this case its sticky surface is the perfect companion for baking. I press it firmly onto my counter and then place all the ingredients, measuring cups and spoons, and mixing bowl right on it.

Some of the flour didn’t make it into the cup – who cares! A drip or two of vanilla – ditto! And if for example you want to take your utensil out of the bowl to add something else you can just lay it, or any others, right down. And best of all, once the goodie is in the oven, you just wrap it all up and toss it away, clean up done.

♦  A Peek at My Week  

  So, is it possible you  haven’t heard of posset??? OK, neither had I, but coming across a reference sure got me intrigued. It’s basically a pudding and a pretty easy one at that, using just three-ingredients – cream, sugar and lemon or lime – four if you count the fact that you use both juice and zest of the citrus, and five if as some preps suggest you also add a pinch of salt. I made a lime one and it was wonderful, super creamy, sweet and tart at the same time. One thing, allow plenty of setting time. Here’s a whole list or recipe sources from Google.  Posset

  OK, clearly I’m failing in the chip arena, once again have potato chips on the brink of exp. This may not be your cup of “tay,” but here’s what I did. Poured a bunch of them into a bowl, broke them up a bit, and covered with a combo of milk and cream, let stand till softened.

Then heated a bit of chicken bouillon in a pan along with a chunk of butter, added some diced, peeled, baked potatoes, and then the chip mixture plus salt and pepper, heated, and hit with the immersion blender. Did add a little more liquid because the chips cause quite a lot of thickening. You know what – tasty mashies!

  One of the best things I read this week was a gem in the “Food & Wine” newsletter, in honor of Father’s Day a round-up of lessons and tips that today’s chefs learned from their dads. Among some highlights in this marketbasket of remembrances, How many eggs per person??? . . . Enhancing ramen with, what? and yay! another way to use up potato chips. Cooking with Dad

Cook with passion and a party spirit, whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you