Muffin Bombed

I thought that this week I would write about one of my failures. Me, Jacques, Julia, Anthony, even the bug eating guy, everyone has at one time or another turned out something that was terrible. That’s what it is all about, experimentation and failure leads to success

I’m always thinking about the next book. What it will be about and how I will accomplish it. One of my ideas was to write a book about barbecue cooking. Not one of the usual black grilled steak, pork chops, fish etc. I was thinking more along the lines of using the barbecue as an oven. I can remember when I was a boy scout we had a folding box that you could place over camp coals and bake (burn) things in. I thought that if one could control the temperature and close the lid, you would have an oven. Not with charcoal obviously but with propane. Such an oven would be perfect for tent camping and RVing. We don’t like heating up and smelling up the trailer with the built in oven so we usually cook outside. An external barbecue/oven on the picnic table outside would be perfect.

So I took our propane barbecue which is one of those stainless steel jobs with a flip down cover and drilled a hole in the front. Then I purchased one of those barbecue thermometers for five bucks and screwed it into the hole. Wha la! Temperature control. I thought if I put the propane on low I should get 350 and on high up to maybe 450 or so. My first choice would be blueberry muffins for breakfast at Ft. DeSoto. I bought a package of blueberry jiffy muffin mix ( no use wasting homemade on a trial ) and some cheap aluminum muffin cups.

The next week we went off camping at Ft. DeSoto. The second day in I decided to try the muffins. I fired up the barbecue, set the control to medium and watched as the temperature ran up to 500 in a flash. Then I set the control to low and after some time and a little ventilation it dropped to the required 400 . I put the muffins in the now oven and baked until they had reached a lovely golden brown on top, just like on the package label. When I flipped them out of the cups I discovered that they were brown on top and a lovely charcoal black on the bottoms and sides. Although I had good temperature control on top, the bottoms were still too hot. Needless to say we had muffin tops for breakfast that day.

I haven’t given up. I think if I could cut up a pizza stone to fit the rack. In the barbecue that it might spread the heat better and allow baked goods not to burn on the bottom. Some day I’m going to try it again and who knows maybe after muffins, rolls, cakes, small loaves of bread. The list is endless. Stay tuned for more adventures in cooking and burning!

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No Noodle Pad Thai

ThumbnailSmallFoodsCoverIf you’re reading this please click on “Follow” so I know you’re out there. Buy the book on Amazon, it helps finance all this nonsense.


This is another dish that won’t make it into the next “Small Foods” book. I can’t think of anyway to make it in a ramekin.

Pad1We Love Pad Thai, the Thai rice noodle dish which can be made with chicken, tofu or shrimp, or all of these. But we’re very wary of the big carbohydrate load that rice noodles carry. So we try not to have it very often. A friend of ours made a salad once with sliced zucchini in it and it gave me the idea of replacing the noodles with zucchini. The trick is to cook them at the end of the dish and very quickly. If you cook them too long they just turn to mush instead of noodles. I like to add some chicken broth at the end and one of those chicken broth flavor boost packets. The flavor boost is like super chicken, well worth searching for in your grocery store. This contains both peanuts and soy (tofu) so beware if you are allergic.

Serves 4


1 medium zucchini
1 Pkg. Super Firm Tofu cubed or cut into 1″ cubes.
10 or so Jumbo Shrimp shelled, deviened and tails pulled off, chopped bite size and/or 1/2 lb. chopped chicken breast.
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup red and green pepper
1 8 0z.can of bean sprouts or a cup of fresh
1 8 oz. can bamboo shoots
1 packet of sugar or Splenda (about a level Tsp.)
4 Tbs. Fish Sauce
3 Tbs. Lime Juice
1 clove Garlic chrushed
1 large pat of butter
Red Pepper Flakes
Ground Black Pepper
1/2 cup Chicken stock and Chicken boost
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup Dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup or so of chopped fresh cilantro leaves.
1 precooked rice bowl (about 2/3rds of a cup) or make a cup or two of rice ahead.



Press the tofu between a few sheets of paper towel to remove all of the water. Do the same for the shrimp.
Heat a large fry pan and cover. Put all but about a tablespoon of oil into the pan and wait a few minutes for it to heat up. Add butter and 1/2 of the garlic and whisk it around with a spoon. Then add the Tofu, shrimp and chicken. Cook on high heat stirring until everything starts to brown on both sides. Use the cover so the oil doesn’t splatter every where. Remove the Tofu, shrimp and chicken and set aside. Pour out the remaining oil and wipe the pan with a paper towel.


Remove the skin from the zucchini using a vegetable peeler. Using the vegetable peeler remove long thin strips from the zucchini until you reach the seeds. Turn the zucchini and do it again, until you have removed all of the meat. leaving the seeds. You should wind up with a good handful of zucchini (1/2 cup or so) per person. If not you need more zucchini!

Put the pan back on the stove add the remaining oil and heat it up. Scramble the egg in the oil. Add the remaining garlic, the peppers, onion and bamboo shoots. Cook until the peppers soften. Add back the meat and tofu. Then the fish sauce, lime juice, white wine and chicken stock. Add a couple of shakes of red pepper and a few shakes of black pepper. No salt, there’s tons in the fish sauce. Now add the bean sprouts, cook for a few minutes, then add the zucchini, stir and cook for a few minutes. Heat up the rice cup.

Put a tablespoon or two of rice on a plate. Place a serving of the pad thai on top, sprinkle some peanut and cilantro on top. Put a little salad on the side and serve.

This goes well with a full bodied white white like white zinfandel or a good white Burgundy. Enjoy!




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Masala Monday


We created a recipe for Chicken Masala for the new book. That’s Masala not Marsala. The one is made with Garam Masala spices. The other with Marsala red wine. Then we started thinking that it might be nice to have a seafood version, basically the same thing but with shrimp instead of chicken. This is a “first try” recipe. We usually wind up doing something two or three or more times, seldom do we just hit it the first time. My wife thought it was fine as is, I thought it needed more Masala spice. You be the judge, here it is so far.


1/2 of a 14 oz. of canned chopped tomatoes (6-7 oz.)
1/2 medium onion diced (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 clove of garlic (whole clove if you love garlic)
2 tbs. tomato sauce
1 tsp Garam masala spice (1.5 if you love indian food)
1 pat of melted butter
Salt to taste
About 10 jumbo raw Shrimp shelled and deviened

1/4 cup basmati or white rice with 1/2 cup water, salt and a pat of butter or use the one minute instant cups, just microwave.

PAM spray


Cut the shrimp into large bite sized pieces
In a medium bowl, mix the shrimp, butter, tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt, tomato paste and the masala spice.

PAM spray two ramekins and fill each with the mix

Cook at 350 degrees for 30 min.

While its baking, cook the rice in a small pot according to directions. Or get the rice cup ready for microwaving.

Put a tablespoon or two of the rice on top ( an ice cream scoop is perfect) and serve. We put the rice on a plate and poured the dish onto it. Some people might like some plain yogurt or sour cream on the side. A grande flour tortilla lightly toasted is a good substitute for the Indian bread, Nam.

Garam Masala spice: 1 Tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp ground coriander 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp ground pepper, ¼ tsp ground fennel, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, pinch cayenne pepper and cardamom. You may need a seed grinder or a mortar and pestle for some of these. Store this in a bottle or plastic bag for future use.
You can sometimes find this in your food store or an ethnic foods store. It’s hard to find some of these things ready ground. If you buy true Indian Masala it will have big nuts and seeds in it, sift these out.

Serve with a good burgundy white. It really needs something with body to offset the spices.



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Beef Tips as Small Foods


BeefTip1I’ve been trying for some time to make a beef wellington in a ramekin dish. This would be for the next version of Small Foods. Just rolling a chunk of steak into a taco shell or filo doesn’t work. Even with the best cut of beef it just comes out over cooked and chewy. I had the same problem with beef stew in the first book. The stew beef has to cook for hours to become tender. The Beef Wellington would have to be a big chunk of beef to cook with some amount of rareness.



When I did the Beef Stew I found that I had to use frozen precooked beef tips. They worked perfectly providing the fall apart in your mouth tenderness the stew needed. I decided to try them in a Wellington-ish beef dish for Small Foods Too and here it is.



1 Pkg. Frozen PreCooked Beef Tips
2 Large Pats of Butter
1 Tbs. Red Wine
3/4 cup of coarsely chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup defrosted and chopped frozen potatoes
1 Grande Flour Tortilla
2-3 dashes of garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste


Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
Heat up a saute pan and cook the onion and mushrooms until they are tender. Add the defrosted potatoes. Cook for a few more minutes and add the beef tips & gravy, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix it well and remove from the heat. Cut a 3″ slice across the edge of the tortilla, form it into a circle and pin it together with a toothpick.


Spray two ramekins with PAM and put the rolled up tortilla into them. Fill the tortilla with the mixture being careful not to break the band. Don’t fill it to overflowing, leave about an inch or so exposed at the top to brown. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the top edge browns. Serve with a green veggie and a salad maybe a good Red Burgundy.

These were so good that I broke the portion control aspect of Small Foods and I ate all three!






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Friday Night is Wings Night

We usually have chicken wings for Friday night’s dinner. They are easy to make and quite tasty with a big salad. These are relatively dry wings, so if you like those gooey coatings you’ll have to add it before serving. They’re not really “Small Foods” as in  my book, but I keep toying with the idea of cooking 5 or 6 standing up in a ramekin. It would probably be super messy and I wonder if the ones inside would even cook.  So this is really big food, here’s the first recipe for the blog.



About a half pound or so of wings per person (1.5 lbs. will fill a cookie sheet)

If the wings aren’t cut up, cut them and discard the wing tips

1/2 cup cheap soy sauce
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
Couple dashes of sesame oil
Sesame Seeds
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 Tsp. Paprika
Pepper to taste (you won’t need salt it’s in the Soy Sauce)
If you like really hot wings add some red pepper

Reynolds non-stick tin foil (it makes clean up so much easier)


PreHeat Oven to 350 degrees

Put everything except the Sesame Seeds together in a gallon sized  plastic bag. Press the bag to get most of the air out of it and close it tightly. Mix it up thoroughly by squishing the bag around for about 30 sec.  Put it in  the fridge for 4-8 hours flipping it over every hour or so.

Line a big cookie sheet with the tin foil and turn up the edges to keep the juices off the pan. Pull a wing out of the marinade bag and shake it a couple times to remove excess marinade. You don’t want the wing sitting in a puddle of marinade as the marinade can burn. Fill the tray with the wings but leave room between them. Sprinkle some Sesame Seeds onto each wing.

Bake for about 30 min. then rotate the wings so they will cook evenly, bake about another 30 min. checking during the last 15 to see if they are brown enough.

Make a big salad, serve some beer and enjoy!







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Small Foods – The Beginning

Image I started writing Small Foods about two years ago. I’ve been cooking for about 15 years, maybe more.My wife worked in major ad agencies as a creative director. I worked in technical marketing. She went home when the work for the day was done. She would call to let me know approximately when she would get out. I left at about 5 PM with everybody else. She had an hour commute, mine was usually short. When I arrived home I would start the dinner. When she arrived, I would plate it up.

One evening, while making spinach pie, I thought about just how much of this pie went to waste. There were only two of us and it would only keep so long. So the next time I made it, I made it in two 7 oz. ramekins. It was perfect, just the right size for dinner with a salad and no left overs.

After I retired, I started cooking other foods in ramekins. And after adjusting for a small size (proportionaly you need more spices not less) they came out perfect as well. My wife commented that I should write a cook book. So I did. You can buy it on Amazon, just search for Small Foods by Bill Fishbourne. Here’s a spread below so you can see my photos and my wife’s super book design. You can double click on it to see it in high-res. Enjoy!


I intend doing a lot with this blog, more recipes, cooking videos, previews of my second book and even funny stories. Check back once in a while to see what’s going on. Or click on FOLLOW and be notified whenever we put up something new.


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June 29, 2014 · 5:35 pm