December 28, 2016

Dear friends,

Like many of you, I cooked for a crowd at Christmas. Probably unlike many of you, I planned on a crowd of just two. My family met after Christmas this year at my niece’s in Columbus, so Tony and I spent the actual holiday with a ham, a full fridge and a crackling Yule log on Netflix.

I was delighted. “We won’t have to cook for a week,” I told Tony on Christmas Eve as I wedged a pumpkin pie into the refrigerator between a platter of antipasto and bowl of potato salad. There’s Champagne! Green bean salad! Blue cheese-stuffed olives! Cool Whip!

We are still wallowing in the bounty. For breakfast this morning (Tuesday) I had a slice of pie, two pieces of green-onion tamago (Japanese cold omelet) and a couple of bites of shaved ham. I won’t quit until we’re gnawing on the bone.

One item that is disappearing rapidly is the green bean salad. I’m alarmed. It is everything a green bean salad should be: A symphony of textures and flavors, mostly savory with a touch of acid and a hint of sweet.

The recipe is new to me, although I found it on Bon Appetit’s web site so some of you may be familiar with it. Of course, I tinkered a bit. Basically, fresh, al dente green beans are tossed with fried garlic chips and onions, toasted slivered almonds, and dried cranberries in a slightly sweet apple cider vinaigrette.

The original recipe calls for cooking the green beans in boiling water for just one to two minutes, until “bright green but still very firm.” Oh, no you don’t. Green beans should be cooked until the starches at least begin to turn to sugar, and chewing them is not a major investment of time. Back in the early 1980s the new al dente-vegetables trend was a backlash against the mushy, overcooked veggies that until then had dominated restaurant (and home) cooking. “Al dente” was never intended to mean “almost raw.”

Take your time when you fry the onion and thin garlic chips. The garlic must turn golden brown and become crisp, which requires pllenty of oil and fairly low heat.

If you’re stocking your fridge for New Year’s, you might want to make a double batch of this salad.

CRANBERRY-TOASTED ALMOND GREEN BEAN SALAD

Unknown-2.jpeg

1 1/4 lbs. green beans
1/4 cup olive oil
2 fat garlic cloves
1/3 cup thinly slioed onion
1/2 cup (about 2 oz.) slivered blanched almonds (matchstick shape)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tsps. honey
Sea salt

Trim beans and cook in plenty of boiling water until tender but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Drain and refresh under very cold water to set the color and stop the cooking. Drain well.

Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a medium skillet. Peel and thinly slice garlic cloves vertically. Slowly brown garlic, onion and almonds in the oil. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add cranberries, vinegar and honey to oil in skillet and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, until cranberries are juicy. Toss with green beans and the garlic mixture in a bowl. Season with salt, toss again and taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.

TIDBITS

Okay, I’m humiliated. My Christmas shout-out last week was not written as a plea for attention. I was not trying to guilt-trip you into praise. At 67, I have honestly wondered lately whether I’m too old to be relevant and I certainly have no desire to mellow into a nice, sweet old food blogger.

Please. I’m anything but nice.

Still, I must have sounded needy because I got a lot of emails along the lines of “Don’t worry, we love you and sleep with your cookbook under our pillows,” so OK. I’ll keep writing if you keep messaging me occasionally with questions, restaurant recommendations, recipes to try and snarky comments. Agreed?

And happy New Year, you bums.

THE MAILBAG

From Judy S., Scottsdale, Ariz.:
Merry Christmas! My gift to you is this recipe that is guaranteed to warm you up during any winter cold spell. The recipe comes from Jan D. Atri at http://www.jandatri.com, who has articles in the Arizona Republic and has had several restaurants over the years.

I hope you enjoy the soup as much as we do. Depending on my mood, I sometimes add smoked paprika after tasting.

CHARRED RED PEPPER SOUP

6 red bell peppers
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large leek, cleaned well and chopped
2 medium red or white potatoes, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper

Wash and pat dry peppers Place on a baking sheet and broil at 400 degrees until charred and blistered, turning every few minutes. Remove from oven, place peppers in a paper or plastic bag and close tightly.

Let stand for 20 minutes. Remove from bag and discard skin and seeds.

Melt butter and olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat Add leek, potatoes, carrot, onion and peppers. Saute until tender, about 10 minutes. Add chicken broth and cream. Simmer for 25 minutes.

Place mixture in a blender, in batches if necessary, and puree. Caution: Start blender on low and place a towel over lid to avoid hot liquid from spilling out. Strain through a sieve and return to saucepan.

Simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Makes about 8 servings.

Dear Judy: The soup sounds wonderful and I’ll definitely try it. Thank you so much.

Advertisements

December 21, 2016

Dear friends,

My Christmas breakfast sandwich is as far from an Egg McMuffin as you can get — not that I don’t crave an Egg McMuffin on occasion, but that occassion is not Christmas. Christmas is for fancier fare.

I found a breakfast sandwich that is both fancy and fast. Store-bought raisin bread is spread with a creamy mixture of goat cheese, honey and grated lemon rind. The filling is slathered with orange marmalade before topping with a second slice of buttered raisin bread. The sandwich is griddled in a skillet until warm and melty.

You can make a bunch of these a couple at a time in a big skillet or more on a griddle, and keep them warm in the oven while finishing enough for your tribe. If you make the goat cheese filling on Christmas Eve, you can turn these out faster than flapjacks.

The original recipe is from “Cooking Light The Complete Quick Cook” by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. I swapped orange marmalade for their fig jam and omitted their addition of basil leaves. Either version would be delicious. And quick.
GRILLED GOAT CHEESE SANDWICHES WITH MARMALADE AND HONEY
Unknown(9).jpeg

2 tsp. honey
1/4 tsp. grated lemon rind
4 oz. goat cheese (chevre)
8 slices cinnamon-raisin bread
2 tbsp. orange marmalade
Softened butter
Powdered sugar

Blend together honey, lemon rind and goat cheese. Spread the mixture evenly on four slices of the bread. Top with the marmalade. Top with remaining bread slices. Spread a scant amount of butter on the outside of the bread. Grill in a hot, dry skillet or griddle until lightly toasted on both sides. Cut each sandwich in half diagonally and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 4 servings.

TIDBIT

Just when I start wondering whether I’m losing my relevance and if anyone is reading this newsletter anymore, I get a cllutch of lovely thank-you emails totally out of the blue.

Can you folks read my mind??

If you can, you know how much I treasure your loyalty, your friendship (and you do feel like friends) and your feedback. I still enjoy writing this newsletter, which I’ve been doing for almost 10 years for See Jane Cook and another 10 or so for its precurser, Second Helpings.

Our interaction is what keeps me writing, so drop me a line now and then. And from Tony and me to you and yours, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Jolly Festivus.

THE MAILBAG

From Jonathan:
Could you help me with a menu and recipe for a dinner featuring beef tenderloin?

Dear Jonathan: Tenderloin is an easy but elegant entree. I like the flavor a grill imparts but I don’t like standing outside over a grill while the party swirls inside without me. So I developed this two-step cooking method: Smoke the whole tenderloin briefly on the grill and refrigerate. A half hour before serving, finish cooking it in the oven.

Sliced tenderloin with horseradish sauce deserves a festive, totally yummy side dish. I suggest serving it over my winter vegetable hash, which is a bit of work but worth it.

SMOKED BEEF TENDERLOIN WITH HORSERADISH CREAM SAUCE

1 whole beef tenderloin, about 1 1/2 lbs.
Vegetable oil
Salt, pepper
3/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
1 1/2 tbsp. (or to taste) prepared horseradish
Milk

Up to a day in advance: Trim and discard most of the visible fat from the meat, and remove any silverskin (the thin, filmy layer of connective tissue). Rub meat all over with oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Scatter a handful of wood chips over a hot charcoal fire. Place meat on grill positioned directly over the coals. Close lid and cook for 5 minutes, turning after 2 1/2 minutes. Remove from grill and, if prepping in advance, cool, wrap and refrigerate.

To make the sauce, beat together the sour cream or creme fraiche with the horseradish and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in enough milk to thin sauce to a thick pouring consistency. Cover and refrigerate.

About 45 minutes before serving, heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove meat from refrigerator and place in an oiled cast-iron skillet or shallow baking pan. Rub with more oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes for medium-rare meat, 150 degrees on a meat thermometer. Let stand for 10 minutes, then slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds.

Mound winter vegetable hash (recipe follows) in the center of 4 to 6 dinner plates. Fan tenderloin slices over the hash and drizzle with horseradish sauce. Serves 4 to 6.

WINTER VEGETABLE HASH

1 small celery root, 3/4 lbs. (2 3/4 cups diced)
1 large turnip, 1/2 lb. (1 3/4 cups diced
1 lb. parsnips (3 1/2 cups diced)
2 medium carrots (1 1/4 cups diced)
1 medium potato (1 cup diced)
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 tbsp. olive oil
Sea salt
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup white wine vinegar

With a good-quality vegetable peeler, peel vegetables. Cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch cubes. Combine in a large bowl with garlic and onion and mix well.

Heat olive oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Add diced vegetables and saute for 15 minutes, turning occasionally with a spatula.

Stir in salt, thyme and rosemary. Add vinegar and toss with the vegetables, turning rapidly with a spatula until vinegar has evaporated.

Place pan of vegetables into an oven preheated to 350 degrees. Roast for 45 minutes, or until vegetables are soft and top begins to brown. Serves 6 to 8.

Dear friends,

I just finished lunch of canned tomato soup poured steaming over little chunks of cheese that I dredged up, all melty, with a spoon. Mmmm. It’s the meal my mother made for me when I had a cold, as I do now. Even in my adulthood, if the cold was bad, Mom would drive up from East Liverpool to heat up a can of soup with a side of TLC.

Almost everyone has a get-better food of questionable pedigree that goes down like a hug. I also have a Christmas cookie along those lines. It’s so humble it barely earns its place on the cookie plate. I’m almost embarrassed to share the recipe with you, but this cold has gotten me down and I’m not up to much more work this week.

I made a batch of Mom’s Cookie Candy because I ate too many of those fancy lemon knot cookies I wrote about two weeks ago, and didn’t have enough for my doctor AND my mail carrier AND the neighbor who did me a favor last summer.

My emergency gift cookie goes by many different names. My family calls it Cookie Candy because it’s basically fudge with oats stirred in. I clearly recall my first taste of this chocolatle-peanut butter wonder. I was in the fifth grade, and for weeks after, my friends and I were obsessed with getting our hands on more of them.

The cookies remain one of my favorites, edged out only by nut-filled kifli. Making them takes me back to Mom’s kitchen and her big plastic Tupperware drum of Christmas cookies that was refilled as needed with reinforcements from the basement freezer.

I don’t care if they are stupid-easy to make and look like — well, never mind; I still love these cookies.

COOKIE CANDY

Unknown(8).jpeg

2 cups sugar
3 tbsp. cocoa
1/2 cup milk
1/4 lb. butter or margarine
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 cups uncooked oats

In a saucepan combine sugar, cocoa and milk. Add butter and chunk it up with a spoon. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a steady boil. Boil steadily but gently for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, until a small amount dropped in cold water can be formed into a soft ball.

Remove from heat and quickly stir in peanut butter until smooth, then stir in oats. Immediately drop by tablespoons onto foil. Cool complettely before storing in a lidded container. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.
THE MAILBAG

From Pennie:
I’d like to buy nice imported cold cuts and cheeses for the holidays — the sort of things I used to get at West Point Market. Where is a good place to find them now that West Point no longer has refrigerated items? I’m a huge fan of the sort of cold cuts served for breakfast in Belgium on hard rectangular rolls.

Dear Pennie: I have been wondering the same thing about a lot of items I used to buy at West Point. I know you can get European cheeses at Earth Fare and Mustard Seed Market. Some luxury cold cuts are available at Leach’s Meats and Sweets in Barberton, DeVitis in Akron and Kirbie Meats in Stow, but I haven’t seen a selection that rivals West Point’s. Anyone want to jump in here?

From L.W.:
Congratulations on your recent conversion to fruitcake tolerance from aversion. If I had a circle of nearby friends and family who would share it, I might have given your recipe a go. But you had a tease about a single-serve microwave version, then left us hanging — no recipe, no link, just that Jane Snow endorsement to start us drooling. Please share with us…my bottle of Bourbon is at the ready.

Dear L.W.: Sorry for the tease. I ran that recipe last year, but should have realized not everyone saw it.

PERSONAL FRUIT CAKE
1/2 tbsp. butter
8 pecan halves, cut crosswise in halves
2 tbsp. mixed candied fruit
1 tbsp. dried apricots in 1/4-inch dice
1 tbsp. raisins
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. powdered ginger
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. Bourbon or water
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Melt butter in a 12-ounce microwave-safe mug. Stir in nuts and fruit. Sprinkle in flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices and mix well with a fork, turning over fruit and nuts several times. Add egg yolk, Bourbon or water and vanilla and stir until thoroughly mixed. Microwave at 50 percent power for:

1 minute 45 seconds for 1000-watt microwave ovens or 1 minute 15 seconds for 1100- and 1200-watt ovens, adjusting the time up or down for lower or higher wattage ovens.

The cake is done when the top is dry and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the mug. Let rest one minute, then run a knife around edge of cake and invert onto a plate. Eat warm or at room temperature.

December 7, 2016

Dear friends,

Last week I ate an entire fruitcake and disposed of the evidence before Tony returned from a hunting trip. It was just a mini 5-inch loaf, but it will come as a surprise to many people that I ate any fruitcake at all.

I am a known fruitcake hater. My sister once gave me a red holiday t-shirt with “I Hate Fruitcake” on it. I have a box of Christmas cards, also a gift, that pictures people in Victorian garb tossing fruitcakes down a manhole. I joked annually about fruitcake in print and once challenged newspaper readers to bake and bring me fruitcakes if they thought they could change my mind about the holiday sweet. I was flooded with 158 fruitcakes that I then had to taste in an awful day-long session.

OK, I still don’t like those little green bits that taste like kitchen cleaner and have the half-life of nuclear waste. But I kind of like fruitcake now. I like them with dried apricots, raisins, candied cherries and pecans. I like the little personal fruitcakes I make in a mug in the microwave. I especially liked the little loaf I bought last week at Pallotta’s Pastries in Cuyahoga Falls when I was there looking for the lemon cookies I wrote about last week.

Pallotta’s homemade version is crammed with just two things: Juicy candied maraschino cherries and pecans. Absolutely crammed. The cherries are gently candied, not turned to solid sugar as most are. When I got my little fruitcake home, I sprinkled it with bourbon and let the booze soak in before I cut a slice. No wonder I ate the whole thing in a week.

I’m ready now to branch out to fruitcakes studded with candied orange peel and maybe even citron. I regret all the fruitcakes I have spurned in my life, from the cellophane-wrapped slices that fruitcake companies used to send me to the rum-soaked gift fruitcake I pawned off on a homeless shelter that caters to alcoholics. Oops.

Real fruitcake lovers, I hear, bake their cakes in October and wrap them in booze-soaked cheesecloth to age for a few weeks before the holiday. Maybe I’ll do that next year. This year I will make a simple fruitcake sprinkled with just enough Bourbon to get me through the holiday. Aw, who am I kidding? The cake won’t last that long.

Here’s the winning recipe fromthat long-ago fruitcake contest. I plan to make it and soak it with Bourbon.

APPLESAUCE FRUITCAKE
1/2 lb. candied red cherries
1/2 lb. candied green cherries (I use all red)
1/2 lb. candied pineapple
1/2 lb. dates (optional)
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tbsp. vanilla
1 cup applesauce
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 lb. flaked coconut
1/2 lb. pecans
1/2 lb. walnuts

Chop fruits into half-inch pieces. With hands, toss fruit with one-half cup flour, coating each piece well.

Cream together shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in salt, vanilla, applesauce and soda. Gradually add remaining flour. Stir in chopped fruits, coconut, pecans and walnuts.

Line bottoms and sides of two loaf pans with two layers of waxed paper. Fill pans three-fourths full and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 275 degrees and bake 1 1/2 to two hours longer. Let cakes stand in pans for five minutes at room temperature.

Remove from pans and peel off waxed paper. When cakes are cool, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

TIDBIT

“Where is the picture of the finished cookies?” a reader asked after I ran a still life of lemons with my Italian lemon anginetti recipe last week. Yes, a photo might help you make sense of my directions to shape the cookies. Think of the raw cookie as a pretzel, but with one end left pointing up. To help you visualize, here’s a photo of some of the finished cookies:

IMG_0944.JPG

THE MAILBAG

From Carla N.:
Can I substitute baking soda for baking powder in a recipe? Is it a straight swap? What’s the difference, anyway?

Dear Carla: This is the kind of info I vaguely recall reading once or twice but I can’t remember the exact answer. So I looked it up. Baking soda is a substance (sodium bicarbonate) found in nature. Adding an acid to it (citrus juice, vinegar, buttermilk, etc.) causes it to release carbon dioxide bubbles, which cause dough to rise.

Baking powder is baking soda with its own acid added – usually cream of tartar.

Recipes leavened with baking powder do not need an external acid (lemon juice, etc.) to produce a rise. A liquid is all that’s needed. Baking powder usually has a second acid added that reacts when the dough is both wet and hot. That’s why it’s called “double acting.”

Baking soda is about three times as powerful as baking powder. To substitute baking soda for baking powder, cut the amount at least in half and add 1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice for each one-half teaspoon baking powder.

To substitute baking powder for baking soda, use at least twice as much. Most of this information is from http://www.phys.org.

December 1, 2016

Dear friends,

I have never wanted a cookie as badly as I wanted the Italian lemon knots (anginetti) I baked earlier this week. For starters, I spent a year thinking about them after my friend Kathy gave me a few to take home last December. Wow. Then I spent a day last week driving from bakery to bakery to try to buy some. I finally tracked them down at Pallotta’s Pastries in Cuyahoga Falls, arriving just after another customer had wiped them out.

“He bought every last one we had,” the clerk said.

On the way home I stopped at Acme for butter, lemons and white sprinkles. I would make the damn things myself. By the time the first batch came from the oven I wanted one so badly I couldn’t wait to add the icing and sprinkles. Truth: I wanted (and ate) two or three before I iced them.

The cookies are not difficult to make but they do require several steps including zesting and juicing a couple of lemons, making the icing, and rolling the dough for each cookie into a pencil shape and coiling it on the baking sheet. You could just pinch off pieces of dough, roll them between your palms and curve into “S” shapes, as some bakeries do. Or I suppose you could drop blobs of the dough from a spoon if you’re reaaal lazy. At that point you probably should just buy a few dozen from Pallotta’s. They are $13.99 a pound (a couple dozen or so cookies).

Pallotta’s is worth a visit anyway. It is one of the few Akron-area bakeries where everything is still made from scratch rather than from purchased frozen dough. Owner Mike Pallotta’s great-grandfather was the founder of Crest Bakery. Mike is a culinary school graduate, so it figures he would eventually expand beyond baked goods. The shop now has a lovely little dining room where retired Italian guys sip coffee and business people lunch on homemade soups, sandwiches and daily specials such as lasagna. Pallotta and his crew also make homemade raw pasta and pizza dough that is sold by the pound. The website is http://www.pallottaspastries.net.

I regret not loading up on that stuff, but when I visited I was on a single-minded search for the soft, moist, sweet-yet-tart anginetti. I found a bunch of recipes and settled on one from http://www.prouditaliancook.com, adding more real lemon juice and zest and eliminating the lemon flavoring and lemon liqueur in the original. These cookies are the bomb.

Unknown(7).jpeg

ANGINETTI
(Italian lemon knot cookies)

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
Grated zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup lemon juice
5 cups flour
Pinch of salt
5 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup milk
Lemon icing (recipe follows)
White candy sprinkles

With a mixer or by hand, cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then beat in the lemon zest and juice.

In a smaller bowl whisk the flour, salt and baking powder. Slowly add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, adding just enough milk to produce a soft dough (you may not need all of the milk). Scrape dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, wrap well and chill until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.

Pinch off about a cup of dough, refrigerating the rest between batches. Pinch off a walnut-size piece of dough and roll it between your palms into a 4- to 5-inch rope. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, form the rope into a small circle. Loop one end of the rope under the other end and tuck it into the center of the circle (basically making a knot). Repeat, spacing cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. The top of the cookie will not change color, but the underside will be light brown when the cookie is done. Cool on racks before icing and decorating with sprinkles. Store in tightly covered plastic containers with waxed paper between the layers. The cookies freeze well. Makes 5 to 6 dozen.

LEMON ICING
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup lemon juice
Water if needed

Combine powdered sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl. Stir in enough lemon juice to achieve a thin consistency.

Either brush a thin layer of icing on each cookie, or dip the tops of the cookies in the icing. Immediately sprinkle with white candy sprinkles, if desired. Let stand until icing firms up completely before storing.

TIDBITS

If you’ve been longing for a smoker and can get your hands on a 4-drawer file cabinet, you’re in luck. While searching the Internet for lord knows what, Tony found a YouTube video of an ingenious homemade smoker made from an old-school metal file cabinet.

The bottom drawer holds a hotplate and a pan of wood chips for cold smoking, or a charcoal fire for hot smoking. Holes are made in the bottoms of the other drawers for the circulation of smoke and heat. The guy who made the contraption can smoke a couple of racks of ribs, a bunch of chicken and a side of salmon at one time.

And boy, won’t it look spiffy on your patio? To view the how-to, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bPF1hAE1zI.

THE MAILBAG

From Tammy Jo:

In regard to your last blog, Krieger’s Market on Graham Road in Cuyahoga Falls carries onion juice and garlic juice (and sauerkraut juice, if the mood hits you).

I have the following question (as one hunting widow to another): Although I can’t discern “violets” in a glass of Cabernet Franc, I can identify microwaved meat regardless of the covert attempts restaurants make to disguise it (sauces, etc.).

My husband insists I am crazy (as he happily consumes piping hot chicken breast left-overs served fresh from our microwave). I have tried all manner of microwave cooking methods – plastic-wrap vaporization, whereby water or broth is infused into said meat using an airtight drum over a glass bowl; the microwave-safe dome (that appears to do nothing more than minimize splatter and aid in clean-up). I STILL taste the mustiness of the microwave.  Any suggestions? The future of our left-overs depends on it!

Dear Tammy Jo: Thanks for coming through with a source for onion and garlic juices. Maybe David can try his turkey recipe for Christmas.

As for your leftovers question, I have never tasted mustiness in meat reheated in the microwave. Could the plastic oven walls have picked up the off flavor from other foods? I have to remove funky baked-in odors from my microwave periodically; maybe that would help.

The method I use is to combine 2 tablespoons vinegar with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil in the microwave. Let stand without opening the door for about 30 minutes. Then wipe down the inside of the microwave with soap and water. If that doesn’t do it, I put some baking soda in a small bowl and leave it in the microwave for a few days, removing it temporarily when I need to nuke something.

If off-odors aren’t the problem, maybe you just have an ultra-sensitive palate. You may have to reheat the meat in a regular oven or on the stove. Keep me posted.

From Dorothy G.:
I unknowingly bought dextrose sugar and made an apple cake (which recipe I have been using for over 50 years).  It did not come out right, so I made another and that too was a failure. Someone then told me about dextrose. Never again.  As you suggest, only buy real sugar. Also, do not buy cheap butter or margarine – like you say, they have too much water in them.

Dear Dorothy: I’m sorry you had to find out the hard way, but at least you now know what you did wrong. Many people have never heard of dextrose-blend sugar, and keep repeating their failures on the assumption a technique is to blame. I’m printing your letter as a cautionary tale to others. When you buy sugar, read the fine print on the package.