Archive for the ‘Basics’ Category





OR……Migraines and babies make for a scatterbrained Private Chef.

 Hey Friends.  What a way to begin a blog eh?  Just before a major move, in the middle of pollen season, on the way to a trip to the East Coast, and by they way, one of the worst migraines I have ever experienced….

 However, here I am.  Raring to go and full of pent up words and cooking experiments.  My mind has been full of Marinades and Sugar Flowers. I have even been studying diet regimens for Gout and of all things “Sustainable Farm”.  I can’t wait to show you what that is. 

 However, right now, let me express myself in terms of Grandmother. Many of you know, I’m about to become one of the dreams of my life. However, human beings are never just simple “Buns in the Oven” and my granddaughter is no exception.  Daughter in law is valiantly trying to keep my granddaughter safely incubating for another couple of weeks, but our little one seems to be impatient to meet the world. 

 I have had my dreams of baby cakes to make, cookies to bake, and not a few crocheted bonnets, but they all dissolve in the wake of reality.   Keep the faith. My dream girl will probably make her way in another week or even another day.

 In the mean time, in honor of her impatience, Here is a basic cake recipe that if given patience and love, works every time. I use it for wedding cakes. Its moist, buttery, light but firm, and the “Crumb” is just perfect. 

 You hear that Karrington, my girl? Just Cake for right now. The icing and trimmings can wait. 


When we find out if she’s a lemon curd, apricot cream, or a chocolate fudge, I will let you know.  Always start with a basic recipe that works.







      Basic Yellow Cake





2 ¼    cups sifted flour

2         teaspoons baking powder

½        teaspoon salt.

½        teaspoon ginger

½ #     or two sticks of butter, room temp

2          cups sugar

4          Large Eggs yolks

1          cup of milk

2          teaspoons vanilla

1          cup sour cream

4          large egg whites


1.  Preheat to 350 and make sure the oven racks are centered.  Butter  two 8” rounds or One 12” round or as many cup cakes as you can fill ¾’s full.  Line the pans with a single layer of parchment.

2.  Sift together all the dry ingredients. Set aside,  Separate the eggs and set aside. Measure the rest of the ingredients out. Cut the butter into easy to handle pieces.

3.   In a large bowl of electric mixer, cream the butter in high speed, scraping down at intervals until fluffy and the color has changed to a lighter shade.  About 2 minutes.  Add the sugar and continue to blend until fluffy and light.

4.   Add the egg yolks one at a time (I mean it!) being sure each is well blended before adding another one.  Add vanilla and milk….slowly or you and the counter will be covered with the sloshing.  

5.  On low speed add the flour and sour cream alternatively. Ending with the flour. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then “BEAT” again until all is smooth.

6.  Transfer the batter to another bowl if you don’t have another mixer bowl.  Wash it and dry it completely, making sure that there are no extra bits of batter that could interfere with egg whites.

 7.  Add the Egg whites and beat until  soft peaks form.  Then gently fold the egg whites into your batter with a rubber spatula. I smooth this out if needed, buy gently (Gently I say) agitating with a whisk…..gently. We don’t want to deflate the air pockets.  But, we also don’t want white spots of meringue in the batter either.

 8.  Pour the batter into the prepared pans and place in the center of the oven.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean.




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Chicken Stock….the most satisfying basic ingredient I can think of. Rich, luxurious, brilliant. The easiest and most versatile base you will ever make…..Don‘t be nervous…its also very forgiving. You’ll never want to use a bullion cube ever again.

Lets Talk Chicken Stock and Broth.   I bet your thinking what’s the difference? Well here it is and very simply; The major distinction between broths and stocks is that broths are intended to be served as is, whereas stocks are used in the production of other dishes.” Therefore, Broths have all their seasonings. Stock is “Nude or Neutral” no salt, no pepper and No additives to make it a signature flavor.

Stocks are a great ingredient to always have on hand. They can perk up a lot of recipes.  Even when my freezer is bare, you will always find either containers of stock or stock cubes!    Stock reduced by half and then frozen in single cubes…my addiction!!! 

The moment I fabricate some chicken, the raw bones and bits of skin go into the freezer. The bits of carrot, onion, and parsley will end up in the freezer too….no waste in this kitchen and boy that’s a fun fact of arrogance for this Chef!

Gardeners stay away from my pile of veg! It ain’t for the compost pile, its for my stock.

You can save a lot of fat and calories by using stock for sautéing instead of oils or fat. You can also add lots of flavor to everyday foods (such as rice) by substituting stock for water in cooking. And not to be forgotten, the meat taken from the expended bones makes fantastic chicken Salad. Just imagine the flavor of that meat after simmering in its own juices….YUM…

So, now that I’ve hooked you. I’m not going to give you the usual recipe. Forget the strict, rigid, binding list and directions. Shake off your fear of flying.    Let me share the “Method and Ratios” of Chicken Stock to free your mind. Chicken Stock with Grandma in Mind.

 2 pounds of Chicken Wings and necks….why chicken wings you say? Cheap and fuller flavor concentrated in the bones, because there are so many of them. Believe me, if you aren’t a wing person, try freezing them with the necks for later use.

Mirepoix. The official name for a sainted trio of flavoring. Onions, Carrots, Celery. Now here is the simple ratio that will free your mind!   2:1:1 If you use 1 onion, you will chop carrots and celery by half the bulk amount. So look at your chopped onion and then take half of that away. This visually is the amount of the other two, each.

So how much Mirepoix for your stock?    The Ratio is 10 wings (or big bones) to 1 helping of Mirepoix. 10:1. That means 10 wings to 1 onion and ½ each the carrot and celery. Easy. Our Grandmas were brilliant in their simplicity!!!

So the rest of the ingredients for great stock would be, 2 bay leaves, about 2 smashed garlic cloves (flat end of your knife), one bunch of parsley, one sprig of thyme, 10 cracked peppercorns (flat end of your knife). You can either put this in some cheese cloth or….I just toss it in. I’m going to be straining anyway.

Enough water that will cover your ingredients with a half inch to spare in the pot. Bring to just boiling and immediately lower to simmer or what we chefs call a slow bubble. A few bubbles at a time. This way, you won’t boil off the water to soon or dissolve calcium from the bones which clouds the stock. When your wings fall apart and your veg are very soft. Its done.

Strain by putting scoops of meat and veg into a strainer and pressing down. Don’t lose all that great flavor! Wa La! That is great stock. Too easy for words. Made on a morning while you are doing some dusting or while you are making your dinner!

Any Questions or clarifications?

OK!  Sandy, thanks for pointing out that I left out skimming and degreasing.  Occasionally skim the grey matter off.  As for the Fat.  I skim fat at the end.  as long as there is still slow bubble, you can pool the fat and then skim most of it.  OR….if you aren’t going to use the stock right away. Poor into containers, cool it down quickly in an ice water bath and then chill over night. the next day before you freeze, cut off the congealed fat. .

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