Monday, September 30, 2019

Garlic Dill Ranch Dressing


  • 1 cup olive oil mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup whole fat sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons sliced, minced fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons Gourmet Gardens® Parsley Paste
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced fresh dill
  • 1/2 rounded and packed teaspoon finely minced fresh garlic
  • 1/4 rounded teaspoon of Redmond's® Real Salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 scant cup whole fat buttermilk


In a nutshell, you will add the ingredients in the order which they are given, stirring between groupings of them.  So, prep your garlic first and line up all of your ingredients.  I have always made the ranch dressing in a 4-cup glass measuring cup.

I go back and forth between starting with the fresh herbs and the first two dairy items.  I have settled on starting with the mayonnaise and sour cream, stirring them together.

Then add the chives, parsley paste, dill, and garlic.  Stir well, dipping down to the bottom of your container to ensure that the herbs and garlic are completely mixed into your diary ingredients.

Then add the salt and white wine vinegar and take the opportunity to mix together your ingredients another time.

Next, slowly and gently fold in the buttermilk.  You want your ranch dressing to be thick at first, because the longer it sits in the refrigerator, the more it breaks down to a thin dressing.  Keep folding until you have finished incorporating all of the buttermilk, but only just.

Finally (AND DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP), allow the ranch dressing to sit in the refrigerator for a good amount of time so that the ingredients can meld together.  IDEALY, you want to make your ranch dressing last thing in the evening and leave it overnight.  Trust me, fresh made ranch and "stewed" ranch is worlds apart in tastiness.

I store my ranch in a dark mason jar in the refrigerator, using a four-ounce jar for the bit that doesn't fit into a quart jar.

Myrtle's Note:  Special thanks to my dear friend Becky for giving me the courage to try making ranch dressing from scratch.  Pioneer Woman's base recipe is just perfect and you can modify it as you wish.  I am a lover of dill in ranch dressing and decided to just go whole hog.  For my friend Bethanie, I decided to try to quantify what I do so that she, too, could make it.  It took me two tries to figure it out and then a third batch to ensure that it was replicable.  Friends are the best cook encouragers!

About those ingredients, so often people make substitutions on key ingredients.  So, I am specifying whole fat dairy.  If you do not use it, your ranch dressing will not turn out sublime.  Also, whole fat dairy is healthier than low fat!

I would still use the same amount of dried chives (although my chives grow through the snow) and 2-3 tablespoons dried dill, but high quality, such as Mountain Rose Herbs.  Their shipping is not economical, but they sell the best cinnamon on the planet.  I often buy 2-3 pounds and share it with friends as well as cook liberally with it.  Their cumin is stellar, as is the dill.  Buying larger quantities of those three items makes the shipping moot in comparison to what you pay for lower quality spices in the store and their fresh herbs and spices age better than those in the store.  Sharing all three spices with friends or giving them as gives will make you quite popular.  I find parsley paste better than fresh parsley.  Don't ask me why.  I often use Gourmet Gardens herbs because they last longer and add far more to a meal than dried herbs do.  Their basil paste will knock your socks off!

Pioneer Woman's recipe calls for 1-2 cloves of garlic.  However, cloves vary in size.  I spent eons trying to find that balance of the fresh bite of garlic that falls between awful hot garlic and disappearing garlic.  What I like about cooking with garlic is that I often will double and triple the amount of garlic in most heated recipes and have never, ever had someone tell me that there was too much garlic in them.  But I have learned the hard way that finding the perfect garlic in non-heated recipes is rather tricky.  Hence the specific directions of garlic that is finely minced, packed into a 1/2 teaspoon, and rounded on the top.

Yield:  10-12 ounces


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Roasted Garlic and Bell Pepper Balsamic Butter


  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons minced roasted red pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons roasted garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Gourmet Garden® Basil Paste
  • 1 tablespoon Colavita® Balsamic Vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.


To roast the bell pepper and garlic, place the bell pepper on its side in a metal pan.  Take a clove of garlic and peel back the outer paper until you get to the tight-fitting inner paper.  [Since roasted garlic is so very tasty, I always roast an extra bulb to have lots of leftovers.] Turn the bulb on its side and slice the tip top of it off, to have a small bit of access to the top of the cloves.  Place the bulb in the center of a square of foil.  Drizzle olive oil atop the bulb.  Salt and pepper the top.  And wrap the foil around the bulb.

Place the bell pepper and the garlic into the oven on the same rack.  Roast for 20 minutes.  Remove the bell pepper and carefully turn it over so that the bottom is now the top, leaving it on its side.  Roast for an additional 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let both cool for a bit.

The bell pepper skin should be blacked and tight.  Pull off the stem.  Peel off the skin.  Discard the seeds.  The extra roasted red pepper can be stored in the refrigerator and is excellent on salads and in sandwiches!

Carefully pluck off the cloves of garlic.  Peel back the paper and scoop (or squeeze) out the roasted garlic.  The extra roasted garlic can be stored short-term in the refrigerator or frozen.  It is excellent atop brie cheese on slices of french bread and then broiled in the oven.

Once you have your roasted bell pepper and garlic ready, turn your softened butter into a bowl and beat it to make sure there are no hard portions left.  Add honey, balsamic vinegar, basil, bell pepper, and garlic.  Fold and stir, turn the bowl, fold and stir,  and repeat again and again until the ingredients are all thoroughly mixed together.  The butter will be very wet and soft.

Place into an airtight container (or your molds) and refrigerator a minimum of two hours, but preferably overnight.   Serve on crusty bread, atop vegetables, or atop chicken or fish.

Myrtle's Note:  Compounded butter needs a few hours if not overnight in the refrigerator to blend.  However, this was so very tasty that I found myself licking the spatula after I scraped the butter into my jars and molds.  The smell of making it was enough to drive me crazy.  The one major change I did was to ditch the parsley in favor of basil.  I also slightly increased the bell pepper and change the garlic from number of cloves to a measurable amount.  I was slightly hesitant about trying this butter, but I already know it will be a hit.


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Herbed Goat Cheese Butter


  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 large cloves of garlic and 1 small one
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Herbs de Provence
  • 1 heavily rounded teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)


Soften butter and set aside.  Zest lemon and set aside.  Finely mince garlic and set aside.  Weigh out goat cheese and set aside.  Measure out Herbs de Provence and set aside.

Rough mix the butter and goat cheese until the mixture is looking equally blended.  Add garlic, salt,  and lemon zest and fold those into the mixture.

Taking a small amount of the herbs at a time, perhaps a half a tablespoon at a time, place into the palm of your hand and use the thumb pad of your other hand to crush the herbs by rubbing it back and forth over the herbs, keeping them in the palm of your hand.  Drop the crushed herbs into the bowl and take another amount to crush.  Continue until all the herbs are crushed.  Crushing dried herbs releases their aromatics more so than simply dropping them into the bowl.

Thoroughly fold in the herbs until you have an even mixture.  As with all compound butters, it is best to let it set in the refrigerator over night before the first serving.

Compound butter can be shaped into a log, spread into silicone molds, divided into 4 ounce mason jars, or placed into a single glass container.

Myrtle's Note:  This is from a recipe for roasted corn, as in slather the butter all over roasted or grilled corn.  However, it is BLOODY FANTASTIC on steak.  Seriously sublime!  I had to adjust the original recipe because I wanted the ease of just using a whole stick of butter.  My end result was so very tasty that I feel confident in my estimate of how to make that adjustment.


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Orange Cranberry Butter

  • 1 pound salted butter
  • Zest of one large orange, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1/3 cup minced craisons (dried cranberries)
  • 1/4 cup Really Raw® honey
  • 1 teaspoon Watkins® Pure Orange Extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt


Mince enough craisons (dried cranberries) to fill 1/3 cup and set aside.  Zest one large orange.  If your zester creates strips, mince them.  Set aside. Squeeze the juice from the orange and set aside.

Soften the butter, but do not let it melt.  Thoroughly mix in the honey, orange juice, and orange extract.  Then add the rest of the ingredients and slowly fold them in until you have a uniform mixture.  

Press into storage containers or silicone molds.  Leave in the refrigerator (or freezer) overnight to allow the flavors time to meld together.

Myrtle's Note:  I have declared 2019 The Year of the Butter.  This is my first one.  I adapted one recipe to include the ingredients I wanted to use, because I couldn't find a single recipe that had everything.  I chose the Really Raw Honey because its viscosity is higher and works quite well with mixing into butter as opposed to regular honey.  As for the taste, the three folk who've tried it beside myself have all declared it to be extremely tasty.  I wanted a truly orange tasting cranberry butter.  I believe I have achieved that, especially having plowed through the first jar of it that I earmarked for myself in rapid fashion.  I am in love with this butter!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Turmeric Roasted Chicken


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (two large breasts)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 large lemon
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Gourmet Gardens® Ginger Paste
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Gourmet Gardens® Garlic Paste
  • 1 heaping tablespoon grated onion
  • 1/2 tablespoon turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon Rose Mountain Cinnamon (Cassia) Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon Redman's® Real Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormack® Peppercorn Medley 
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


The day before, decide if you want to roast whole chicken breasts or roast chunks on skewers.  If the former, evaluate your chicken breasts.  If the large end is overly thick, then pound it just a bit to even out the chicken.  Just a bit.

If the latter, take the chicken breasts and slice them down the middle lengthwise.  Then, cut four times crosswise.  If you start at the smaller end, you can do a better job of making sure the cubes are similar in size, so that they cook evenly.  This makes a total of 16 cubes of chicken.  Place the chicken in a large, shallow glass bowl.

In a medium bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients, starting with the yogurt and lemon juice, mixing them thoroughly before continuing.  Then add the ginger, garlic, and onion.

[I prefer the Gourmet Gardens® products in recipes like this because it is easy to have equal amounts of both garlic and ginger and the pastes.  I do not measure them out so much as make a rather large dollop in the bowl.]

Finish with the dry ingredients.  The cayenne will provide a bit of heat to the dish.  If you prefer spicy, you could add more.

Scrap the yogurt marinade over the chicken and toss thoroughly.  If roasting breasts, ensure there is plenty of marinade beneath them.  If choosing skewers, toss until all sides of the cubes are coated.  With both, smooth the marinade over the top of the chicken.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to marinate for 24 hours.

[It is popular to do a marinade in a plastic bag.  However, you are going to want to have as much marinade as possible as you place it in the oven, so a bowl is best.]

Preheat oven to 450 degrees (if whole breasts)
Preheat oven to 500 degrees (if cubed pieces on skewers)

If roasting whole breasts, carefully lift out the chicken meat and place on a metal pan (lined with foil if you want easy clean-up), ensuring the bottom of the meat is coated with marinade.  Using a spoon, drop some of the remaining marinade on the top of the breasts to make sure they are thickly and evenly coated.  You can smooth it out with the back of the spoon.

Roast until the center of the thickest part of the meat reaches 165 degrees, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.  Switch the oven to high broil and brown the top of the marinade, approximately 3 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest five minutes before cutting.  Slice into thick slabs.  Serves four.

If using skewers, soak bamboo ones in water for 30 minutes.  Approximately half-way through, begin preheating the oven.

When the skewers are ready, thread the chunks onto the skewers.  If putting four pieces on a skewer (recommended), you'll want to use two bamboo ones so they don't bend down to the pan with the weight of the meat and marinade.  [Next time I plan to use metal skewers.]  You want to place them across the top of a baking pan with high sides, such as a 9x13 cake pan (lined with foil if you want easy clean-up), so that you can rest the meat up off the bottom of the pan.

Roast until the center of the meat reaches 165 degrees, approximately 15-20 minutes.  Switch the oven to high broil and finish browning the marinade, approximately 3 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest five minutes before removing from the skewers and serving.  Serves four.

Myrtle's  Note:  I cooked half the meat whole and half on skewers.  I had cooked skewers for the Chicken Tikka Masala, and I was basically trying to come up with the way to cook the meat since the original idea is for a whole turkey breast.  I wanted to experience both cooking methods.  For the whole breast, I went looking for advice on roasting chicken and found a post about how chicken dries out the longer it is in the oven, so higher temperatures creates moister meat.  Oh, my!  Was the author ever right.

The whole breast meat is insanely moist.  You have a thick coating of marinade that flavors each bite of the slices.  I ate half warm, with roasted broccoli.  I ate a quarter cold, because I was curious.  And a quarter with saffron rice.  Even the leftovers were moist.

The skewers are still moist, but have a different sort of taste, being smaller cuts and coated on all four sides.  I might prefer them, but I just don't know.  I ate the first half with grilled ginger mustard summer squash.  For me, being single, I'll definitely cook the two breasts both ways again so that I can have the flexibility in my leftovers.

My dear friend Mary suggested making the skewers with veggies, such as tomatoes and onions, which is how swish tawook is made.  I think I would create an olive oil based marinade, toss the veggies in it, and put them on their own skewers, mixing chicken and veggies atop a middle easter rice pilaf.

Of course, the skewer-roasted meat would also do well with hummus, baba ganoush, labneh, and naan. Or you could serve it in gyro bread.  The possibilities are endless!

The flavor is amazing!  You can taste the lemon and turmeric and cinnamon and the heat from the cayenne.  I really enjoyed eating this chicken and am glad someone mentioned the concept to me!

Finally, get the Rose Mountain cinnamon.  It will change your life.  You will never regret it!  [And their cumin.  And Ancient Forest Tea.]

Yield:  Four servings

Source:  Myrtle; an idea from a friend who had something like this for roasting turkey breast.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Lemon Greek Yogurt Pound Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar, plus ¼ cup for glaze
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla paste
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice for cake, plus1/4 cup for syrup and 2 tablespoon for glaze
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • zest of two lemons
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.


In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.  Butter and flour a 9-inch loaf pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar until smooth and light in color.  Add the eggs one and a time followed by the vanilla.

Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until almost combined. Fold in the lemon juice, the zest of one lemon, and the yogurt.  Finish mixing on low until combined.  The batter won't be perfectly smooth.

Pour the batter into the pan, leveling the top.  Bake for 75-90 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  The top will be dark brown and split open.

For the syrup:
Warm 1/4 cup of lemon juice.  Mix together with 1/4 cup sugar until sugar has dissolved.  Set aside whilst the pound cake is done.

For the glaze:
Measure out two tablespoons of lemon juice.  Gradually add it to the powdered sugar until your desired drizzling consistency is reached.  Add the zest of one lemon and stir thoroughly.

To finish:
Turn the warm cake onto a wire rack and brush all over with the syrup, including the bottom!  Make several passes on all sides to have a good soaking, but do not feel pressed to use all the glaze.  Do this when the cake is still warm! 

Drizzle with the glaze. Serve warm or room temperature.

Myrtle's Note:  This recipe is so good that even when you do not cook it quite long enough, it is still tasty!  Lemon.  Lemon.  LEMON!  The only change I made was to add lemon zest to the glaze, since I had to use four lemons to get all the juice needed.  Why waste lemon zest?  I cooked it for 75 minutes and made the mistake of putting my toothpick in the top of the loaf instead of in the middle.  So, that clean toothpick and the browned top made me think my first loaf was ready.  But cutting into it, I found a close texture and a bit of undercooked at the bottom of the loaf.  Even so, oh my! was this ever tasty.  It is not super sweet, just like a traditional pound cake.  But it is very, very lemony.

Yield: 1 loaf


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Colonial Brown Bread

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2  teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Grease and flour a 9-inch pan and set aside.

Stir together the flours, sugar, salt, and soda.  Add the buttermilk.  Stir until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Fold into the pan and level out the batter.

Bake for one hour.

Myrtle's Note:  I had to cut the recipe in half and made mistakes on the first three attempts at trying this recipe because baking maths are difficult for me now.  I persevered because it is a favorite of my dear friend Mary.  And I like old recipes!  I used King Arthur White Whole Wheat Bread.  The bread is close-textured, moist, and sort of a nutty sweet flavor.  I slathered it with Pulgra's European butter.  Mighty, mighty tasty!

Yield:  1 loaf