Archive for August, 2013


Blueberry Fool

August 26th, 2013

blueberry foolWell, again, I’m trying to use up fruit and vegetables from the CSA. Decided to see if I could create something with blueberries. Anything with skins is risky for people with swallowing disorders as the skins can get stuck almost anywhere in the mouth or throat and create a potential hazard by falling later into the airway. But by cooking the blueberries and breaking them down and then putting them through a spin in  my vitamix, I created a really lovely sauce without any skins. However, I didn’t think it was thick enough, so I added just ¼ teaspoon of xanthium gum and voila, a lovely blueberry sauce to use in making a blueberry fool. Here’s my recipe


1/2 pint fresh blueberries, washed and picked over

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon granulated sugar, or in my case, two packages of sweetener

3/4 cup whipped cream (I’m using just the canned stuff for this demo, but

you could whip up the cream as per the directions.

¼ teaspoon xanthium gum

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract



In a small, nonreactive saucepan, combine blueberries, lemon juice,  sugar, and 2 tablespoons water. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until blueberries begin to break down and juices boil and thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and transfer to the vitamix or other blender. .Blend slowly, then add the xanthium gum. Blend until thickened.


In a separate bowl, combine cream and vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form; fold in 1/3 cup of the blueberry sauce. Divide among four dessert dishes, and spoon remaining sauce over tops.

Or (if you’re using the already whipped type), squirt a half an inch of whipped cream into a parfait glass, add a tablespoon of blueberries, repeat until you’ve filled the glass, alternating whipped cream with the blueberries. Top with more whipped cream. Give the decorated parfait to someone without a swallowing disorder.

Fettuccicne Alfredo

August 25th, 2013

fettuccine-alfredo_largeMost pastas are good for people with swallowing disorders, particularly if they’re cooked to be a bit soft, rather than al dente, which is the Italian way. It’s tricky, however, to cook them soft enough without having them fall apart  and be mushy. Pasta cooks from the outside in, absorbing liquid as it cooks. We want to make sure that more water does penetrate to the center, but not so much that it becomes mushy. Wider pastas seem to work better for getting the texture we need, but the cook here is going to have to experiment to see just how long to cook each type because there’s variation among types of pastas and manufacturers. But in general, follow the directions on the package and cook 2 minutes longer than recommended.

To test the pasta first, bring a big pot of water to boil, drop 5 or 6 fettuccine noodles into the boiling water and fish one out at about 6 minutes, run it under cold water, and see how it taste and behaves. Then fish out another noodle at 7 minutes, and so forth until you can judge just how long you want to cook it to get a noodle that holds together and is soft enough. Remember, though, that the noodle will soften as it’s mixed with the sauce.

Alfredo Sauce

  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt
  • 2/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 or 2 slices of garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


Melt butter over medium low heat in a saucepan that can later accommodate the cooked fettuccine. Add cream and all the butter and simmer for 1 to 3 minutes, until the butter and cream have thickened,  then add garlic and cheese and whisk quickly, heating through. Stir in parsley and mix with the cooked fettuccine noodles into the dish. Serve.

Custard and Flan

August 13th, 2013

custard1 Perfect custardTake a look at the following definition of custard by Danilo Alaro at Guide

Definition: “Custard is a culinary preparation made by blending eggs with milk or cream. Custard is thickened by the coagulation of the egg proteins, which is achieved by gently heating the custard in some way.

Custard is mainly used as a dessert, or as a base for a dessert, or as a dessert sauce.

Custard can be cooked in a bain-marie in the oven, or on the stovetop. Cooking custard in a bain-marie helps keep the cooking air moist and heats gently so that the custard doesn’t curdle or crack.”

Now, let’s think…what’s the difference between the Spanish Flan and Custard, or, for that matter, Crème Brule? Well, Flans & Crème Brule recipes usually have cream instead of milk and may be sweeter. What distinguishes them is caramelized crust on the top.  And a caramelized top would present risks for individuals with swallowing disorders because it is not soft and cohesive and may well break into pieces as it moves through the mouth. So we’re going to stick to the more ordinary custard. But what if you pine, absolutely pine for the Flan you remember from childhood? Can this custard be a Flan? Well, many Hispanic flans call for using evaporated milk, so you could substitute one cup of evaporated milk for one of the custard’s two cups of milk and it would be creamier and more like the one you pine for. It can also be flavored with a cinnamon stick while you’re boiling the milk combination.

I’m going to work on creating a soft caramel topping that would work with this flan/custard. Come to think of it, there’s a lot of thick sweet sauces that could be delicious on top of custard. Think custard pie without the crust. But for a quickie, buy a jar of butterscotch ice cream topping and thin it with brandy or bourbon or cream to a degree appropriate for your swallowing problem, then pour a bit into a bowl and then turn out the custard so that it sits on a pool of butterscotch topping.


2 cups milk

8 ounces eggs (4 large eggs)

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place 6 ramekins in a large ovenproof sauté pan or roasting pan and fill the pan so that the water comes ¾ of the way up.  Remove ramekins.

Combine the ingredients and blend until mixture is uniform with a whisk, hand blender or a standing blender. Fill ramekins evenly, about 3 ounces each. Place in the water bath in the oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the custard are almost set. Remove them to a rack to cool, then refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, several hours at least.

To serve, loosen the edges where the custard adheres to the ramekin with the tip of a knife and turn them out onto plates


(Adapted from Gran Cocina Latina  by Maricel E. Presilla)

  • 1 cup whole milk (or cream)
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Place the whole milk or cream and evaporated milk in a 3-quart saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half, scrape the seends into the pan, and add the bean or the vanilla extract. Add the cinnamon and barely bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool.

Whisk together the egg yolks, whole eggs and condensed milk in a large mixing bowl. Stir in  the cooked mixture. Strain the mixture by pushing it through an extra-fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Put a 9-inch round cake pan to serve as a mold; set in a baking pan at least 3 inches deep. Pour the mixture into the mold, fill the baking pan with enough water to come half-way up the mold, then bake in a 350 degree oven for about an hour and 15 minutes. When done, the flan should feel wiggly, not dry or firm. Let cool to room temperature then refrigerate, covered with a plastic wrap, for at least 3 hours before unmolding.






Puddings & Parfaits

August 13th, 2013

chocolate banana puddingThis recipe (of sorts) started after I’d bought a bunch of bananas from Costco, all of which turned ripe at the same time and I ended up with a bunch of over-ripe bananas. So I decided to make pudding. Puddings are delicious food for those with swallowing problems, but then, on the other hand, puddings are delicious for anyone. I made one chocolate pudding from a package, following the package directions, but with an extra “filling” of pureed over-ripe bananas. This is easy enough to do, but it can be even easier if you buy a chocolate pudding and combine it with another to make a parfait. So the second “recipe” calls for combining a chocolate mousse pudding with a store-bought flan, layering them and topping it with whipped cream (from a can). overripe bananas & pudding

Chocolate-banana parfait

1 package, Hershey’s chocolate pudding

2 cups cold milk

3 over-ripe bananas

2 tablespoons milk or cream

whipped cream to garnish

1. Mix pudding according to package instruction: add package to cold milk, whip three minutes with a electric mixer.

2. Put bananas in blender with 2 tablespoons of milk or cream, blend thoroughly

3. Put 1/3 of chocolate mixture in bottom of glass; top with 1/3 of the banana puree; continue layering but end with a layer of chocolate

4. Top with whipped cream


Another Cold Soup

August 5th, 2013

I decided to make Gazpacho because I’d picked up a package of peppers on the day-old rack at the A&P and I had cucumbers and tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market in the refrigerator.  Since I didn’t have tomato juice, I used a thick Salsa (Old El Paso, thick ‘n Chunky).base for gazpachoBy itself, it’s thick enough to be good for people with swallowing problems–just a quick whiz in the food processor to take out the chunkiness and it would be ready as a dip. I, however, used it as the base for the Gazpacho. Since the classic Gazpacho uses bread, there’ll be a second thickener. Here’s the recipe:


1 cup Thick’n Chunky Salsa or tomato juice

1 small cucumber, peelel

1 cup diced tomatoes or cherry tomatoes

1/2 diced red onion (about a half a cup)

1/2 cup of white onions, chopped

1/2 large red pepper

1/2 large green pepper

1/2 large yellow pepper

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic

2 Tablespoons of chopped parsley or

2 Tablespoons chopped basil

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and no chunks remain.


1 large slice of white or brown bread (I used whole wheat sourdough)

Blend again until smooth. Chill until ice cold and serve.

My gazpacho was quite thick, as you can see. And it’s a sort of brown color which is not too attractive, truthfully; but that’s because I used brown bread (duh!). On the other hand, it was very tasty. If this turns out to be too thick for you to swallow, thin it with tomato juice or water. For the rest of the family (those without a swallowing problem), add tomatoes, peppers, red onion finely chopped and serve coldgazpacho with chopped veggies


thick gazpacho



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