texture

Roast Duck – Part One – “Duck With Dirty Noodles”

Roast Duck – Part One – “Duck With Dirty Noodles”

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Last week I came across a special at my grocery store –   $ 10.50 for a whole duck, compared to the usual price of around $17.00 for the same size bird.
Of course, I bought two, because duck – anytime 🙂
After I defrosted the first one, I realized that it might be a good idea to prepare the duck in a way which will be more suitable to a bird which had probably spend a bit of extra time in the freezer (hence the special 🙂 ) , rather than just plain roasted and eaten without any additional preparation.
(I will post part two, “Roast Duck – Part Two – Duck Soup With Rice Sticks And Baby Bok Choy”, within the next few days)
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Roast Duck

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Roast Duck – Part One – “Duck With Dirty Noodles”

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Roast Duck – Part One – “Duck With Dirty Noodles”

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Dirty Noodles

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Roast Duck Recipe:
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Ingredients:
1 med size duck
Kosher salt to taste
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Method:
Preheat oven to 400F
Prick skin and fat of duck all over, remove excess fat-flaps
Season duck generously inside and out side with the salt.
Place duck breast-side down on a wire rack which rests on a sheet-pan.
Place into oven, immediately turn temperature down to 300 F
Roast duck for 3 hours and 45 minutes, turning duck every 30 minutes
After 3 hours and 45 minutes, increase heat to 420F, roast duck breast side up until skin is very crisp and golden, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Let the duck rest for 10 minutes before carving.
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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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Confession Of An PT Addict

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I confess !
I am a lifelong PT addict, ever since I was a child and my mother fed me my first dose of PT ………
I will eat PT (pig’s tails) with gusto, in whatever guise you set them before me – braised in soy sauce, salted, fried, in stews, souse, soups, or just by themselves with bread and condiments, as shown here.
For today’s lunch, one bucket of 5 lbs was the exact right amount for Bella and me to pig out (pun intended). Of course, there are a lot of bones, so the actual amount of meat is not really that excessive (well, maybe a little……).
One might call this a case of “PT Overdose” 🙂
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Excerpt from an article by  Chichi Wang  on  Serious Eats :
” I want to make the case that pigs’ tails contain everything desirable in the pig, and in exactly the right proportions. Unlike ox tail, the tails of pigs come with the skin intact so that each segment is a perfect cross-section of skin, fat, tendon, and meat.
Fried or roasted, the skin of the tail is chewy and crisp, with a gelatinous layer underneath. Tail flesh is fork-tender like that of the neck bones, but meatier than trotters. There’s a modest amount of tendon around each bony hub–just enough to make the gnawing enjoyable, but not so much as to distract from the whole. All in all, a Pigs tail is a little porky universe unto itself. 
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– Looks like I am not the only “PT Addict” 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Confession Of An PT Addict

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Confession Of An PT Addict

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serve with fresh pretzel bread (laugenstangen), hot and mild chilies and mustard (or fresh horseradish if available)

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Confession Of An PT Addict

a bucket of heaven……

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Sliced Beef Shanks Braised In Merlot

Sliced Beef Shanks Braised In Merlot

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Shank’s of beef, veal, lamb, or game is perfectly suitable to be braised slowly in wine. The cooking liquid and gentle heat of slowly simmering breaks down the collagen, producing a wonderful texture and great flavor, unlike any other part of the animal. One can use the shank meat for stews, soups, goulash, bulalo, braised whole, or, as shown here, braised sliced/cross-cut. But remember, no matter which dish or cooking method you choose, DO NOT overcook the meat. A big part of the appeal of shank is the superb texture of a tender, but NOT falling apart piece of muscle meat. Therefore, simmer the shank very slowly. It might take a long time, (after all the shank is pure muscle), but you will be rewarded with a spectacular texture and mouthfeel which no other cut of meat possesses 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
Traditionally, the bone marrow is incorporated into the sauce.
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P.P.S.
But, also traditionally, the wise cook steals the bone marrow and prepares himself a great snack of “Bone Marrow On Toast” 🙂 .
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Sliced Beef Shanks Braised In Merlot

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Sliced Beef Shanks Braised In Merlot

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Sliced Beef Shanks Braised In Merlot

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Sliced Beef Shanks Braised In Merlot

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Enjoy A Super-Delicious Dish For $ 1.00 !

Chicken Liver Mousse

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No, this was not at a hawker cart in Singapore, nor was it on the side of the road in Manila, it was not in the bush in Zanzibar and certainly not on the beach in Goa. This was in Miami, at “Chez Bella”.
All the ingredients for 4 portions came to about $ 4.00, which, yes, I carefully and meticulously calculated it, comes to about a buck a portion. 🙂
In all my years living in America,  I have realized that the majority of Americans say they don’t like liver or any other dish prepared with offal. However, serve them a slice of “Foie Gras” in a fancy restaurant where they are too shy to ask what they are being served, and all of a sudden you get all ahhh’s and ohhh’s. And it’s usually the same with chicken liver mousse, terrine or pate. Serve it on little canapes, put a cherry or grape on top and all of a sudden it becomes great.
Speaking of chicken liver mousse and parfait. Sadly, most of what’s being served in restaurants these days can at best be described as utter garbage. I know, because I love chicken liver mousse and have tried it a hundred times, in fact, I almost always order it if I come across it on a menu. Low-quality liver, too many distracting ingredients, overseasoned, underseasoned, grainy, broken, too long in the fridge, off-putting color, you name it.
So then, for those of my readers who share the love with me, I give you a recipe which is pretty much foolproof, as long as you use top quality liver.
Of course, you can use this recipe to make any other liver mousse. Pork liver, veal liver, duck liver, game liver. You can also, if you must, add a few additional flavors, as long as you take it easy and don’t overpower the fine taste of the liver. Armaniac, calvados, grand marnier, cognac, diced apples, garlic, herbs, sauteed shallots, orange essence, etc. You can even call it a parfait if you want to, since this recipe provides a mousse so fine, it appears to have been strained through a fine hair sieve.
All in all, a spectacular tasty dish, easy to prepare, cheap economical, and definitely better than most of the stuff you can buy ready-made or in most restaurants.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
This amount of mousse serves 4 main courses or 8-12 snacks/appetizers
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Chicken Liver Mousse

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Chicken Liver Mousse

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Chicken Liver Mousse

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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Grilled Veal Breast, Sauteed Potatoes, Chimichurri

Grilled Veal Breast, Sautéed Potatoes And Chimichurri

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Sliced veal breast is a cut I use often at home, mainly for these three reasons:
1.- It’s cheap. 1 lb costs around $2.50.
2.- It tastes great.
3.- I love the texture.
Since veal breast is not a very tender part of an animal to begin with, most folks would braise it for a couple of hours to reach the tenderness they are accustomed to. While this will produce a great dish if properly done, it will lose most of that special veal flavor that some of us cherish. But if you prefer to grill or saute the veal breast, you must make sure that you do it right, otherwise, it will end up being dry and tough.
However, if you sear the meat at high heat, then cook it VERY ! slowly for the rest of the cooking process, you will be rewarded with a very fine piece of veal, full of flavor, juicy and tender. The veal breast slices I used for this dish cooked on each side for about 35 minutes until they were medium-well, then I let them rest another 10 minutes before cutting into them. They were perfect and an absolute delight 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Grilled Veal Breast, Sautéed Potatoes, And Chimichurri

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Grilled Veal Breast, Sautéed Potatoes, And Chimichurri

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Grilled Veal Breast, Sautéed Potatoes, And Chimichurri

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Fourth Of July – Celebrating The First Brexit Of 1776 (English Trifle)

Fourth Of July – Celebrating The First Brexit Of 1776 (English Trifle)

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Tomorrow is the 4th of July, “Independence Day”, Americas most celebrated public holiday.
And what better way than to rub it into the 400-year-old wound of the British than to celebrate this glorious occasion with this most typical of British desserts, the English Trifle 🙂
Well, just kidding. We are of course thankful that the Brit’s left us with this superbly wonderful dessert
(But mostly with the fact that they left us) 🙂 .
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Excerpt from “The Spruce”:
>>An English Trifle is the quintessential pudding that has graced British tables for more than four centuries.
The blousey looking, decadent, rich dessert is simply luscious. There are so many variations in the traditional recipe; some will boast jelly in their trifle, some not; fruit is a must-have for some, for others, no way. This is my recipe and one I have been making for many years. Essentially a trifle needs a sponge soaked (if for adults) in sherry, a thick layer of creamy custard and a deep layer of lightly whipped fresh cream. The rest is all about personal preference. My favorite trifle recipe is made with jelly as it is even more appealing to children though if so, do leave out the sherry. If you prefer a trifle without jelly, simply omit and proceed without, this will be quicker to make as it will not require setting in the fridge. You choose, they are all delicious.<<
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Vanilla pudding recipe:
1/3 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, pinch of salt, 2 cups milk, 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten, 2 tablespoons softened butter, a dash of vanilla extract.
1) – In a 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils. Simmer and stir 1 minute.
2) – Gradually stir at least half of the hot mixture into egg yolks, then stir back into hot mixture in saucepan. Simmer and stir 1 minute; remove from heat. Stir in the butter and vanilla.
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P.S.
You can easily control the texture of your trifle by adding more or less cake, more or less fruit or jello, more or less whipped cream, more or less pudding and by soaking the cake with more or less liquid (booze for the grown-up’s, juice or honey for the kids)
(I personally prefer a lighter texture – more pudding, more cream, more fruits, easy on the cake).
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I would usually use a bright red jam for a trifle, but when I started to prepare this one, I realized that I forgot to buy the jam. After an agonizing 2 seconds of mental deliberation, I decided to save myself a 5 mile trip to the store and instead use the apricot preserve I had in the larder. Less color, same great flavor.
And there you have it 🙂
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HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY !!!
(Great Britain rejoice, you still have Gibraltar) 🙂
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Fourth Of July – Celebrating The First Brexit Of 1776 (English Trifle)

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Fourth Of July – Celebrating The First Brexit Of 1776 (English Trifle)

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Fourth Of July – Celebrating The First Brexit Of 1776 (English Trifle)

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Fourth Of July – Celebrating The First Brexit Of 1776 (English Trifle)

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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Gravlax

Gravlax

I have prepared gravlax a thousand times over the years, starting at the beginning of the 70’s when I worked in  Torekov/Sweden  for the first time, and usually, it comes out perfect, or at least close to perfect. It is one of those dishes which actually require an effort to mess it up. So every time I prepare it, I am sure that the outcome Is a predictable “10” on a scale from 0 to 10. But then came this baby !!!
I had to increase the scale by another point to accommodate its level of excellence. It was so off the chart, in taste, texture, and color. Just a perfect “11” 🙂
It was probably a combination of the quality of the fish, the freshness, the amount and quality of the dill, the ratio of the ingredients of the brine and finally, the time I left the salmon in the brine to cure. Whatever it was, this gravlax is the one all future gravlax will be judged by.
But, I can not give you the EXACT amount of time or ingredients, only approximates. Like with most savory cooking, recipe-measurements and times can only serve as guidelines. Usually, there are too many variables to cook EXACTLY by a recipe. (I am sure you have often heard folks say “I followed the recipe to the dot, but it did not turn out to be like in the picture or in the book or the video?- well, that’s the reason why – too many variables. It is also the reason why a professional chef “interprets” a recipe because, with his/her experience over many years, he/she has learned to factor-in these variables and make the necessary adjustments accordingly.
To quote myself – “Cooking is easy – if you know how to do it !” 🙂
So here now is the recipe I used for this specific gravlax. Again, there are a million and one recipes out there. Every Scandinavian cook, housewife and home cook guards at least one gravlax recipe they swear by, and most of them are pretty awesome, just slightly different from each other.
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2 lbs raw salmon, skin on
2 cup kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 jigger vodka
1/2 cup sliced dill leaves plus 1/4 cup
1/2 cup red beet juice
2 tblsp dijon mustard
1 tblsp fresh-cracked>
black pepper
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Dill/Mustard Sauce
(Traditional condiment for gravlax)
Good quality mustard, white wine vinegar, kosher salt, neutral tasting oil, sugar, fresh dill leaves, pepper(optional), mix all ingredients well.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Gravlax

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Gravlax

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Gravlax

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add the salmon and onions (for a prettier presentation / restaurant presentation) put the egg and capers together with the onions on top of the salmon, however, the way I did it here will keep the capers and egg from rolling off when you eat the sandwich)

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Preparation :
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Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

 

Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

Here we have the perfect breakfast for dog owners (and everybody else who loves a great breakfast and can wait awhile before breakfast is ready,) 🙂
Once the prep has been done (you can do this the previous evening), just put the wrap into the oven (hot or cold), turn to 375F and walk your dog.
Make sure you are back before the hour is over and you will be rewarded with a perfect breakfast). Generally, the egg inside will take about 35 minutes for a “sunny side up” texture, while additional time spent in the heat will obviously take the egg to the next level of doneness. This doneness will depend on various factors, such as the thickness of the wrap, the thickness of the ham and tomato, the amount of cheese and /or other fillings, and so forth.
When I made this dish the first time a few years back, I took it out of the oven WAY too early, not realizing how much time the egg actually takes to cook inside all these layers. However, if you like this dish, take some notes about the time and temperature you use in order to get it right on future occasions.
Also, and this is even more important, chose a wrap which suits this preparation. If you select the wrong one, the shell will become dry and tough after it’s considerable time in the oven. But if you find the right one (see the pic below for an example), the wrap becomes wonderfully flaky, almost like a puff pastry, as is clearly visible in the pics of the cut wrap 🙂 . The reason why I use two wraps per pocket is that the (RIGHT) wraps add a great flakiness one would not get with a single layer (there is a lot of moisture inside).
I also like to emphasize the importance of the grated parmesan cheese between the moist layers to help keep a proper texture, (you don’t want a soggy mess !) and the importance of brushing the wrap generously with whole butter before baking, both for taste and texture.
As for the sauce, I love to serve this with sweet Thai chili sauce or a honey/herb yogurt. Again – serve it with whatever makes YOU happy ! 🙂
Of course, as with most of the food I publish on my blog,  I recommend using this dish as an inspiration for your very own variations of a baked wrap. I have prepared them with seafood, ground meat, chicken, veggies, with or without cheese, with or without eggs, etc. ( one of my favorites is tomato, onion, sauteed spinach, and brie). Also, although I have this usually for breakfast, it makes a great snack or meal any time during the day or evening.

Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

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Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

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Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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For a long time, nobody around here would touch Pork belly with a ten-foot pole.
Pork belly was deemed to be inferior, unhealthy and fattening. However, during the past couple of years, secondary meat cuts (as well as offal) have become “IN”, so all of a sudden pork belly, almost always “Asian Glazed”, has popped up on every menu in town. While this could be a good development, the sad fact is that a tiny portion of pork belly now costs as much as a steak and most preparations leave a lot to be desired.
The smart solution? Cook it at home, naturally 🙂
I grew up with pork belly and most other secondary cuts, as well as offal, so I have been eating this stuff all my life and have a number of recipes for all of them.
Yesterday I prepared pork belly in one of the most simple yet also most delicious way:
Braised in red wine and veggies, served with mashed potatoes.
When I was a kid, my Mom used to mix the mashed potatoes with fresh cabbage to make a very hearty and tasty dish. Although I don’t remember the name of this dish, it stayed in my memory because my brother and I loved it, but my Dad hated it because in his opinion it was not traditional and therefore should not be served for a proper meal. This dish approximates the Italian “Lesso di Patate e Cavolo Verza” and the Irish “Colcannon”. Apparently, my Mom was right-on with her creation 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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ONE FOR THE KIDS # 4 – “Frozen Yogurt Bark”

ONE FOR THE KIDS # 4 – “Frozen Yogurt Bark”

“ONE FOR THE KIDS”  is a series of Goodies which are wonderful treats for kid’s of all ages and super easy to prepare, so you can ask your little ones to give you a helping hand in the production, which will make them proud and add even more happiness to a wonderful treat 🙂
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Bon Appétit !  Have Fun !
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Click here for more  “One For The Kid’s”  on  ChefsOpinion
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P.S.
If you freeze the yogurt overnight, you might want to remove if from the freezer to room temperature about 10 minutes before consumption.
It’s great to hold the bark with a napkin to eat, or serve it on a plate with whipped cream and wafers 🙂
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P.P.S.
Let your and your kid’s fantasy run wild on what to use to add to the yogurt, both in the mix and on top before freezing.
For the “big kids”, if you are sure no kids get their hands on it, any kind of booze is another option 🙂
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ONE FOR THE KIDS # 4 – “Frozen Yogurt Bark”

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Frozen Yogurt Bark

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Frozen Yogurt Bark

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Frozen Yogurt Bark

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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