Halibut Made Easy

It’s not very often that I have the opportunity to eat halibut. But when the occasion arises, I relish it.

Halibut, like salmon, is rich source of omega-3 essential fats, a form of essential fatty acids in which the standard American diet is sorely deficient. Omega-3 fatty acids provide a broad array of cardiovascular benefits. And just two servings of omega-3-rich fish a week can lower triglycerides. High levels of triglycerides are associated with high total cholesterol, high LDL (bad) cholesterol and low HDL (good) cholesterol) and, therefore, with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

I’ve done my part this week, both courtesy of my uncle, Curt Hendrickson. Last weekend, he gave us two vacuum-sealed packages of fish. Both the halibut and salmon came from Alaska, where my cousin, Paul lives.

I smoked the salmon (using apple chips) for about 3 to 4 hours in my Masterbuilt smoker after it sat the better part of an afternoon in a teriyaki-hoison sauce marinade. It was fantastic.

But I think the halibut was even better. I found a recipe online that is one of the simplest yet tastiest that’s crossed my palate. All the broiled recipe called for was a little butter, olive oil, the herb of your choice (I used dill) and salt and pepper to taste. Along with some sourdough bread, it made for a great meal.

It was so good that I’ve decided to share the recipe, along with another one for halibut with a Thai twist.

Halubut, by the way, is a very good source of high-quality protein, rich in significant amounts of a variety of important nutrients including the minerals selenium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium and the B vitamins B12, niacin, and B6.

Easy Halibut Fillets with Herb Butter
2 halibut fillets
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley or finely chopped tarragon or finely chopped dill (or other herb of your choice)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil
Make little aluminum foil trays sized to fit each fillet. Wipe the bottom of each tray with olive oil. Put the fillets ugly side up (skin side even if the skin is now removed) on the trays. Mix the butter with the chopped herbs throughly. Place 1 tablespoon of the butter on the halibut. Broil for 4 minutes. Carefully turn each fillet over, not spilling any of the melted herb butter. Broil for 4 more minutes. Remove and plate, pouring the melted sauce over each fillet.
Yield: Serves 2.

Thai-Steamed Halibut
1 cup low-fat coconut milk
Grated peel of 1 large lemon
2 medium green onions, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons grated fresh gingerroot
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro, divided
1 medium clove garlic, peeled and minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 1/3 pounds halibut fillet
Parchment paper
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce or 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 lime, cut into wedge
Combine milk with lemon peel, green onions, ginger, 1 teaspoon
cilantro, garlic, red pepper flakes and turmeric. Cut halibut into serving pieces and place in an 8- or-9-inch glass pan; pour coconut milk marinade over fish. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours; do not marinate longer as the fish will become too soft.
Line a bamboo steamer with parchment paper and poke holes in paper. Combine lime juice and fish sauce. Remove halibut from marinade and place in steamer set over boiling water. (Discard marinade.) Or set a rack over the water, place fish on a plate and set on rack not touching the water. Spoon half of lime juice mixture over fish and sprinkle with salt. Baste fish with remaining lime juice mixture during cooking time.
Cover the steamer and steam 12 minutes per inch of thickness. Check for doneness. Keep water at a high boil during cooking time.
Remove halibut from steamer and sprinkle with remaining cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
Yield: Serves 4.

Chicken Salad

Every couple of weeks, I roast a chicken for supper. Usually, I put it in the roasting pan along with four or five potatoes, a cup or 2 of sliced carrots and an onion. It’s one of our favorite meals. My grandson, Rakeem, particularly likes it.

The chicken, which I buy by the case from the Hutterites at the Forest River (N.D.) Colony, is some of the tastiest around. Not only is it good the first time around, leftovers are great.

Most of the time, we have a couple of pounds of chicken to eat after the initial meal. Just last weekend, I used some of the leftovers in a chicken salad. Along with the chicken, I diced up a rib of celery, a few small shallots and some sweet bread and butter pickles. Then, I added a dollop or so of light mayonnaise (you also could use Miracle Whip Light) and some seasonings (sea salt, freshly ground pepper, garlic powder and a teaspoon or so of lemon juice.

The chicken salad was great on some sourdough bread from the Dakota Harvest Bakery in downtown Grand Forks.

If you have some leftover chicken, give the salad a try. Or maybe try the following variation.

Chicken Salad
¾ to 1 pound raw chicken breasts — enough to make 1½ cups of chopped, cooked meat — trimmed of all visible fat
¾ cups celery, chopped
¼ cup green onions, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 ounce pecans
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
1/3 cup light sour cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the pecans on a nonstick baking sheet and bake for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the pecans are lightly toasted. Remove the pecans from the oven and let them cool. Chop the pecans finely and set aside.
Put the chicken breasts in a pot of boiling water, reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and no longer pink. Once it’s thoroughly cooked, remove the chicken from the pot, cool the meat and then chop it.
In a small bowl, combine the light mayonnaise, light sour cream and chopped dill.
Put the chopped chicken in a large bowl with the celery and green onions. Gently fold in the mayonnaise-sour cream mixture, then sprinkle in the pecan pieces. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 219 calories, 14.5 grams fat, 41 milligrams cholesterol, 183 milligrams sodium, 17 grams protein, 1 gram fiber, 5 grams carbohydrates.

Taste of Thai

I’m excited about the prospects of a Thai restaurant in downtown East Grand Forks.

Anyone who knows me well will attest to my penchant for hot and spicy food, so it would come as no surprise that Thai food is something that I would like.

My last encounter with Thai food was more than a dozen years ago, in St. Paul, when I was working there after the Flood of 1997 destroyed one of the Herald’s downtown buildings and severely damaged the other. I went to the Thai establishment a couple of times with a former co-worker, Jeff Beach, who shared my taste to the hot and spicy.

And although I’ve never been to any of the restaurants in the Fargo-Moorhead area, the thought has crossed my mind.

For those of you who can’t wait for the restaurant to open in East Grand Forks or who can’t make down to the F-M area, here’s a recipe for you to try at home, which looks pretty tasty and I plan to try sooon.

Thai Red Curry Beef
1 tablespoon oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, minced
1½ pounds sirloin tip steak, sliced
1 4-ounce package nameko mushrooms
½ tablespoon red curry paste
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 each, sliced: red bell pepper, onion
1 serrano chili, minced
2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil
Heat oil over high heat in a wok or large skillet. Add garlic and green onions; stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beef; stir-fry 3 minutes. Stir in mushrooms; stir-fry 1 minute. Remove with slotted spoon to a bowl.
Add curry paste to wok; cook, stirring, over medium heat, 30 seconds. Stir in fish sauce. Stir in coconut milk. Add bell pepper, onion and chili. Reduce heat to low; simmer until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Add the beef and mushrooms and any meat juices. Simmer 5 minutes. Garnish with basil and serve with steamed white or brown rice.
Notes: Cut the meat along its segmentations, then thinly slice each segment before cooking. Nameko mushrooms are used in Japanese cooking and may be found in Asian stores and specialty markets. Substitute with the mushroom of your choice.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 621 calories, 54 percent of calories from fat, 36 grams fat, 24 grams saturated fat, 65 milligrams cholesterol, 24 grams carbohydrates, 45 grams protein, 842 milligrams sodium, 9 grams fiber.

2010 Grilling Forecast

Several times during the year, I get a release from McCormick, the spice people, highlighting their “Flavor Forecast” for the season.

This year, they’ve turned out their first-ever Grilling Edition of their signature Flavor Forecast, identifying top sizzling pairings and summer flavor trends.

According to Kevan Vetter, executive chef at McCormick, “this season, expect to see backyard grillers experimenting with flavor layering — high-impact combinations of rubs, marinades, glazes and more — to boost flavor before, during and after grilling. Another exciting trend is taking cues from traditional cocktail flavors and ingredients — rediscovering them as inspiration on the grill.”

Here are McCormick’s top five grilling trends:

Backyard Bistro — The surging popularity of at-home entertaining continues as grillers recreate the foods and flavors from their favorite eateries.
Layer It On! — Grill masters are embracing creativity by merging marinades, rubs, brines, mops, sauces and more.
Fired Up Fruit — Grilled fruits are being skewered alongside meats, pureed to make tenderizing marinades, and chopped for salsas and relishes.
Ethnic Sizzle — Nearly every cuisine around the globe claims a place on the grill — especially current favorites like Caribbean, Latin, Thai, Vietnamese and Indian.
Shaken, Stirred and Grilled — Using flavorful spirits in place of vinegars or other liquids is paving the way for new combinations like mojito marinades and bourbon-spiked pork tenderloin.

These delicious driving forces will showcase flavors that combine everything from sweet and spicy to warm and smoky, according to Vetter. The experts at McCormick have identified these seven pairings:

Applewood and Plum — Juicy plums accent the smokiness of applewood and add adventurous flair to all-American barbecue.
Cilantro and Lime — Cutting across the diverse cuisines, this bright and zingy pair is a refreshing taste of summertime.
Rosemary and Fig — Figs are an unexpected and regionally inspired match for aromatic rosemary.
Chipotle and Maple — This culinary comingling delivers an updated take on smoky, spicy and sweet.
Brown Sugar and Bourbon — A versatile duo that brings a delicious dose of Southern charm to the patio.
Cinnamon and Coffee — Bold and confident — with just the right edge of bitterness.
Red Chili Sauce and Mango —The unmistakable flavor of mango takes hot or sweet red chili sauce far beyond mere “condiment status.”

For more on these grilling trends and flavors, visit www.flavorforecast.com. Recipes and grilling tips are available at www.grillmates.com and www.lawrys.com.

For a sneak peek, here are a couple of recipes that I thought looked pretty appealing.

Applewood Grilled Shrimp and Plum Salad with Cinnamon-Honey Dressing
6 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup plum jelly
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon McCormick Grill Mates Applewood Rub
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 pound extra large shrimp (16 to 20 count), peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 plums, quartered
4 cups spring mix salad greens
6 slices applewood bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
½ cup fresh raspberries
FOR THE CINNAMON HONEY DRESSING:
½ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Sicilian Sea Salt
½ teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Roasted Saigon Cinnamon
For the cinnamon honey dressing, mix lemon juice, honey, sea salt and roasted cinnamon in small bowl. Slowly whisk in oil. Set aside.
Mix plum jelly and water in small bowl. Mix Applewood Rub and lemon peel. Thread shrimp onto skewers. Brush with oil. Coat with Rub mixture.
Grill shrimp skewers over medium heat 4 to 5 minutes per side or just until shrimp turn pink, brushing occasionally with plum jelly mixture. Grill plums 1 to 2 minutes or until grill marks appear, turning frequently and brushing with 2 tablespoons of the Cinnamon Honey Dressing. Cut plums into slices.
To serve, divide salad greens among 6 plates. Top each with shrimp, plums, raspberries and bacon. Serve immediately with remaining Cinnamon Honey Dressing.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional information per serving: 335 calories, 19 grams fat, 15 grams protein, 31 grams carbohydrates, 120 milligrams cholesterol, 701 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Applewood-Rubbed Ribs with Daikon-Plum Slaw
RIBS:
3 to 4 pounds pork baby back ribs
6 to 8 tablespoons McCormick Grill Mates Applewood Rub
½ cup plum preserves
SLAW:
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup plum preserves
¼ teaspoon Sea Salt from McCormick Sea Salt Grinder
1 daikon radish (1 pound), peeled, shredded and drained of excess liquid (3 cups)
½ medium cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced (½ cup)
½ cup shredded carrots
Pickled ginger (optional)
For the ribs, place ribs on foil-lined baking pan. Rub Applewood Rub evenly over both sides of ribs. Cover with foil. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven 1 hour or until meat starts to pull away from bones. Transfer ribs to grill. Stir plum preserves until smooth. Brush over ribs.
Grill ribs over medium-high heat 3 to 5 minutes per side or until evenly browned.
For the slaw, mix vinegar, plum preserves and sea salt in small bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Toss radish, cucumber and carrots in large bowl. Divide evenly among 6 plates. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Garnish with pickled ginger, if desired. Serve with Applewood Ribs.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 638 calories, 38 grams fat, 40 grams protein, 34 grams carbohydrates, 148 milligrams cholesterol, 732 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Steak — The Green Way

Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. A lot has happened since the first one was celebrated in April 1970.

I have to admit, back then as a college student, the observation didn’t mean as much to me as it does today. Now, I’m trying to do my best to be a good steward of the Earth on a daily basis.

I’m into recycling as are many others. I also don’t use chemicals on my garden or lawn. And as a hunter and an angler, I try to practice conservation.

One area I hadn’t given a lot of thought about was cooking green. That was until I picked up "Cooking Green," by cookbook author Kate Heyhoe. In it, she talks about reducing our "cookprint."

One way to do this is reducing our energy consumption, she suggests. She writes that the appliances we use for storing and cooking our food accounts for 30 percent of our household energy use.

One of the most interesting suggestions she has is that we consider using toaster ovens. Heyhoe says toaster ovens take less time to heat up and cool down and use way less energy than a standard oven.

And you can fix just about anything in a toaster oven — from pizza to chicken to pork chops, baked potatoes to hamburgers to fish to steaks. It’s surprising how many things you can make in a toaster oven.

If you have a toaster oven that’s been gathering dust like we did and want some recipes, I suggest you pick up a copy of "The Gourmet Toaster Oven" (Ten Speed Press, $18.95) by Lynn Alley. In it, Alley offers several dozen toaster oven recipes, including ones for muffins, pot pies and cakes, not to mention main dishes.

Here are two the recipes from the book that look appealing to me.

Grilled Steak with Cracked Peppercorns
4 teaspoons black or mixed peppercorns
1 to 2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 porterhouse steaks or other cut of choice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin
Olive oil
2 lemon wedges (optional)
Preheat the toaster oven to broil. For easy cleanup, line the toaster oven baking tray with aluminum foil. (Check your manufacturer’s instructions, however, for any cautions against the use of aluminum foil in your toaster oven.)
Crush the peppercorns and salt in a mortar using a pestle. Or if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, toss the peppercorns and salt into a sealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin or a wine bottle.
Rub both sides of the steak with the olive oil and press the peppercorn mixture into the steaks. Place the steak on the prepared tray.
Broil the steak for about 7 to 10 minutes on each side, until the meat reaches medium doneness. (The time may vary depending upon the thickness of the steak.) Remove from the oven, transfer to plates, and serve immediately with lemon.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutrtional analysis per serving: 423 calories, 21 grams protein, 3 grams carbohydrates, no sugar, 37 grams fat, 77 milligrams cholesterol, 1,343 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.

Roasted Asparagus
10 ounces fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Coarse salt
Capers (optional)
Preheat the toaster oven to 375.
Toss the asparagus with the olive oil and vinegar in a baking dish and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the asparagus spears are tender. Serve hot or chill to room temperature and garnish with capers. Or serve cold in a salad.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 171 calories, 3 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams sugar, 14 grams fat, no cholesterol, 140 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

Fiesta Stuffed Peppers

One of the vegetables I like to grow in my garden is bell peppers. I generally like to raise an assortment of them, but mostly they’re the green and red variety.

One of the things I like to do with my peppers is stuff and bake them. I have a pretty basic recipe but always am on the lookout for new ones.

That brings me to the following recipe, which was sent to me by a friend and former co-worker, Steve Schmidt. Schmidty, as we called him when he was in Grand Forks, was a reporter at the Herald for several years before moving to the Twin Cities area, where he’s been teaching Spanish.

Steve recently e-mailed me to say he and his wife, Karen, were moving to Georgia. It seems she was transferred to the home office of Home Depot in Atlanta, where she’ll join a new human resources management team.

Along with the news, Schmidty sent me a "fantástico" recipe for stuffed peppers, which he promised me last year. He said the recipe was inspired by a stuffed pepper lunch made for him by a Minnesota teaching colleague and friend, Fred Yacono of Eagan, Minn. Fred taught music across the hall from Steve’s Spanish classroom for one year at St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Savage, Minn. Steve said Fred’s mother cooked peppers often in his home state of New York.

The recipe contains a lot of interesting ingredients, including ground turkey breast, balsamic vinegar (one of my favorites), Worchestershire sauce, sweet vermouth and a variety of herbs and spices.

I can’t wait to try the recipe!

Fiesta Stuffed Peppers
4 large green or red bell peppers
1 to 1¼ pounds ground turkey breast
1 small onion, chopped
½ to 1 cup bulgur wheat
Bread crumbs or rice (optional)
1 to 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan and mozzarella cheese
1½ teaspoons dried basil leaves (or more if using fresh)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
¾ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
¼ pepper to taste
8-ounce can of tomato sauce
3 to 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice or juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 to ¼ cup sweet vermouth
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar or honey
To make meat mixture: Cover bulgur wheat with water and let stand 20 to 30 minutes.
Saute onion in ½ to 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 3 minutes, then add ground turkey to brown.
While turkey is browning, drain bulgur wheat, and in a large bowl add up to ½ cup of bread crumbs or cooked rice if desired.
Then add 1 to 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, grated Parmesan, 1 teapoon basil, parsley and ½ teaspoon garlic powder. Stir into ground turkey and onion mixture. Add sweet vermouth and refrigerate one hour.
To make sauce, in a small bowl, mix together the following ingredients:
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (the vinegar and olive oil can be whisked before adding the rest), tomato sauce, sugar or honey, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce ½ teaspoon dried basil leaves, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, salt and pepper.
To prepare stuffed peppers, remove tops and membranes from four large bell peppers (or five smaller). Arrange them on a baking dish or pan and add the meat mixture. Then spoon the sauce into each pepper. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
Remove peppers from oven. Turn the oven to broiling temperature. Add 1 tablespoon of grated or shredded Parmesan cheese to the top of each pepper. Return to oven and broil 5 minutes.
Remove peppers from oven. Reduce temperature to 400. Sprinkle peppers with grated or shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake 5 to 10 minutes or more or until cheese begins to turn toasty brown. Cool 10 minutes and serve.

Grapes of Wrap

One of the fun things about potlucks is that they can be unpredictable.

Besides the usual items that you might find at one such as meats, cheeses, chips, dips and assorted raw vegetables, there can be soups, sloppy Joes, casseroles and any number of desserts.

We’re having a potluck Wednesday, and I’m bringing something that probably isn’t found on many menus — stuffed grape leaves. The reason for the potluck is that it’s the last day of one of my co-workers, and she requested that I make the grape leaves.

I just happened to have some grape leaves frozen in water in my freezer. I always freeze some of the leaves (about 50 or so per container) so we can have the dish that traces its roots to the eastern Mediterranean over the winter.

I make my stuffed grape leaves by mixing about a pound or so of ground meat (bison), about a cup of brown or white rice, a clove or two of minced garlic, a little flaked onion, some dried mint and cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste.

Then, I place a bit of the mixture on each leaf, roll them up and stick them atop some flat beef bones that are on the bottom of my cast-iron Dutch oven. Next, I mix a 28-ounce can of chopped tomatoes and a small can of tomato sauce and pour it around the outside of the Dutch oven, being careful not to put any over the stuffed grape leaves.

Finally, I put a plate on top of the grape leaves (this holds the grape leaves in place while they cook) and cover on the pot. I then cook this on low to medium heat for about 2 to 3 hours.

While the grape leaves are cooking, I mix a bowl of tzatziki, a Greek sauce made of cucumbers, yogurt, garlic, lemon juice and a little dill.

Following you will find the tzatziki recipe I like, along with another version of stuffed grape leaves.
 

Stuffed Grape Leaves
50 grape leaves
4 lamb bones or 6 chicken wings
1 teaspoon salt
Juice of 3 lemons
Stuffing (recipe follows)
Soak fresh grape leaves in hot water for 15 minutes to soften. Remove from water, squeeze out excess moisture and remove stems. Place 1 tablespoon of filling across each leaf. Fold bottom of leaf up, fold both sides in, and roll away from you.
Place lamb bones on the bottom of a saucepan. Arrange stuffed leaves in layers on the top of the bones. Alternate the direction of the layers.
Sprinkle salt over stuffed leaves. Press leaves down by placing an inverted plate on top of the leaves. (This also will hold them in place while they cook.)
Add water to reach the top of the dish. Cover and simmer on a low flame for 40 minutes or until tender.
For the last 10 minutes of cooking, remove the plate and add the juice of three lemons. Serve with lemon wedges and plain yogurt.
STUFFING:
2/3 cup long grain rice, rinsed in water
1 pound ground lamb or ground chuck
3 teaspoons butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Combine stuffing ingredients and mix well.

Tzatziki
16 ounces (2 cups) of thick Greek yogurt
4 to 10 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
½ cup of diced or grated cucumber
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
Prepare all ingredients in advance. Combine oil and lemon juice in a medium mixing bowl. Fold the yogurt in slowly, making sure it mixes completely with the oil. Add the garlic, according to taste, and the cucumber. Stir until evenly distributed. Garnish with a bit of green and serve well chilled.
Yield: About 2½ cups.
 

Sloppy Joes For A Crowd

On Saturday, a group I belong to is having one of its annual get-togethers. For the past 15 years or so, I’ve helped out with the food, supplying homemade barbecues — or sloppy Joes, as some people like to call them.

The recipe I use is one given to me by my late aunt, Helen Tiedeman. Auntie Helen was the head cook at our school’s hot lunch program when I was growing up, and the recipe for the barbecues was the one they used probably at least once every week or two.

The barbecues were one of the favorites of most kids. Some of my old schoolmates still talk about them. I’ve written about them several times. It’s that good a recipe. Luckily, she passed it on to me, and I’ve been using it ever since.

With nice weather now upon us and summer not far behind, it will be the season for family gatherings, picnics and such. If you’re looking for a recipe that can be made in a hurry and serve anywhere from a dozen to more than 100 people, give the following a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Auntie Helen’s Barbecues
6 pounds of ground beef
1 package flaked onions
25 ounce-can cream of mushroom soup
½ gallon of ketchup
½ stalk of celery, diced, precooked
2 tablespoons mustard
¼ cup of vinegar
Barbecue spice, to taste
½ cup of brown sugar
Mix all of ingredients and cook for about 2 hours
Yield: Serves 50.
Note: Recipe easily can be doubled or cut in half.

Spinach Dip

Next Wednesday is the last day of work for my friend and co-worker Lynn Weber. Lynn, a photo toner at the Herald, is heading off to Bottineau, N.D., where she’ll be general manager of the local newspaper. We’ll miss Lynn a lot.

One of the things we like to do in our department when someone leaves is to have a potluck. Already, several people have stepped forward to say what they’re going to bring.

One item I’m hoping someone will make is spinach dip. Lynn’s sister, Lori, who also works at the Herald as a toner, makes a great one. But she’s already signed up to make sloppy Joes.

I’ve eaten my share of spinach dips and rarely have found one that isn’t up to snuff. One of my favorites is the one made by the Blue Moose in East Grand Forks. And my friend, Darrel Koehler, says the one at the Bronze Boot in Grand Forks isn’t too shabby, either.

Here are a couple of spinach dip recipes, the first of which is one that I’ve tried and liked. The second is adapted from a recipe by Guy Fieri, www.FoodNetwork.com

Knorr Spinach Dip
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed (do not use fresh)
1½ cups sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 4-ounce package Knorr vegetable soup mix
1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, finely chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
Loaf of pumpernickel bread
Squeeze spinach until dry. In medium bowl, stir together spinach, sour cream and soup mix. Add finely chopped water chestnuts and green onions. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Cut slice from top of round loaf of pumpernickel bread, hollow out loaf to leave shell to contain dip. Use bread removed from shell and top slice to cut into bite-size pieces. Butter inside of bread shell, fill loaf with dip and place on platter and surround with bread pieces and variety of raw vegetables.

Artichoke Spinach Dip with Pesto
14 ounces canned or frozen artichoke hearts, drained, diced
9 ounces frozen creamed spinach, thawed
½ cup diced red onion
2 tablespoons pesto
½ cup grated Parmesan
¼ cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven or gas grill to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients well.
If using an oven, transfer mixture to a baking dish and bake for 15 minutes, until heated through. For a grill, use a 9-by-9-inch foil baking pan and cover with foil. Place on grill and let cook for 15 minutes, turning the pan every 5 minutes to keep the heat even. Serve with chips.

Rainy Day Fudge

A reader, Margine Holland, e-mailed me after reading my column about Kid faves in Wednesday’s Herald (www.grandforksherald.com/event/tag/group/Features/tag/food/). She said it reminded her of a recipe called Rainy Day Fudge, which she has used for 50 years or more. She said:

"It always amuses me when I read the comment preceding it. Since it requires so little special care, it is easy, and all eaters seems to like it."

Here’s the prelude to the recipe:

"This delicious, marshmallow-studded chocolate fudge is one of the few candies that can be counted on to turn out well, even when the children make it on a humid, rainy day. If they want to know why most candy-making is difficult when weather is bad, you might explain that sugar is liquescent, takes up moisture from surrounding atmosphere, thus interfering with crystallization. That should hold the little dears."

Here’s the recipe, along with another for Belgian Chocolate Walnut Fudge, which should make any candy lover happy.

Rainy Day Fudge
2/3 cup evaporated milk, undiluted
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 6-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
1½ cups miniature marshmallows
Grease an 8-by-8-by-2-inch pan. Over medium heat in a medium saucepan, dissolve 1 2/3 cups sugar in 2/3 cup undiluted evaporated milk. Bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in 6-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips and 1½ cups miniature marshmallows until melted. Stir until thickened. Pour into greased pan. Cool at room temperature.
Yield: 64 1-inch squares.

Belgian Chocolate Walnut Fudge
Butter (to grease pan)
¾ pound Veliche Belgian chocolate, 58 percent or 72 percent (The higher the cocoa content the richer the fudge)
3 cups miniature marshmallows
¾ cup chopped walnuts
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
3 tablespoons butter
Butter an 8-by-8-by-2-inch pan.
Have chocolate, marshmallows and nuts ready.
Combine sugar, milk and butter in a heavy medium-size saucepan.
Bring to boiling and lower heat. Gently simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent scorching, about 6 minutes or to 227 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Remove from heat. Immediately stir in chocolate and marshmallows until melted. Quickly stir in walnuts and pour into prepared pan and smooth into pan.
Allow to firm up about 1 hour in the refrigerator. Remove and cut into squares and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for best results. Let stand out about 30 minutes to get to room temperature before eating (unless you like cold fudge!).You can leave out of the refrigerator in an air-tight container for storing provided that where you are storing it is not too warm.
Yield: About 3 pounds.
Note: If you want the plain fudge recipe, just omit the walnuts.