Elegant Survival

Stylish Living on a Shoestring
Since 2006

M-J's Miscellany

Sour Cream: Real vs Fake

Posted on December 11, 2016 at 2:50 PM

M-J's Simple Pain de Mie Recipe

Posted on July 3, 2016 at 10:35 AM
Making two 13" pain de mie loaves takes the same amount of effort and oven-energy as one 13" loaf--and, given the versatility of this delicious bread, you will be glad to have an extra one at hand in the freezer.I have simplified the ingredients and method for making this French bread, which was Julia Child's stand-by loaf making for canapés, breakfast toast, and sandwiches. My version of the classic bread recipe appears below. ~~M-J
  • Two Pain de Mie Loaves
  • 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm milk or buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated yeast
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup of lukewarm water
  • 7 cups of white flour (unbleached "white" flour is ideal), plus another, separate cup for possible use during kneading process--different conditions may require more flour--so you need to have a total of 8 cups of flour
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1.5 standard sticks of butter, sliced into about ten or twelve pieces to more easily incorporate it into dough-mixture 

  • YOU WILL NEED TWO 13"-long Pullman pans, also known as a pain de mie pans. These specially-constructed pans with lids are non-stick; they will not need to be greased (click here for my source). 
  • M-J's Notes
  • Pain de Mie simply means, directly translated from the French, "Bread of the Center", because it is not supposed to have a deeply browned exterior or a pronounced crust. In fact, if you see a recipe for pain de mie that instructs you to pull the lid off during baking to 'brown the top", ignore that suggestion. If you prefer a crust, just leave the lid off during baking and you will have what is simply called a sandwich loaf. One of the beauties of an authentic pain de mie is that, when using this bread for canapés or tea sandwiches, there is no dark crust that needs to be removed, which is a tedious and sometimes problematic process. This doesn't mean that the edges cannot be trimmed if you wish. Pain de mie also makes perfect grilled cheese sandwiches, croques monsieurs, and panini.

M-J's Pain de Mie Method

  1. Combine all of the ingredients, beginning with the lukewarm  milk, yeast and sugar, gradually adding flour, salt and butter;  knead this mixture to form a smooth, soft dough. I always use a standing mixer with a dough-hook attached, but it's not necessary. Kneading is good exercise.
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured or greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for at least one hour or until doubled in bulk. In cooler kitchens, this may take an hour and a half.
  3. Punch-down the dough, divide in half, transfer it to a flour-dusted counter, shape it into two 13" rolls, and fit them into the Pullman pans--each of these dough-rolls should leave room in the pan to rise until triple in bulk. Cover the pans with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise to within an inch of the tops of the pans, 45 minutes to 1 hour. (The dough will likely rise a further inch in the oven. Do not worry that it will touch the lid of your Pullman pans, because the heat of baking and the nonstick quality of these vessels will prevent the top crust from sticking, as you will discover when sliding the lids off after baking.) Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  4. Remove the plastic, and place the Pullman pan covers on the pans. Bake the bread for 50 minutes. Remove your pans from the oven, let cool for ten minutes, then slide-off the lids. Turn the two loaves out of their pans onto a rack and allow them to cool completely before slicing or storing. These pain de mie loaves freeze well.
  5. ©M-J de Mesterton

Elegant Pineapple Cake

Posted on December 28, 2015 at 11:35 AM
White or vanilla cake mix is prepared then poured over butter, brown sugar and pineapple rings in an oval Le Creuset baking-dish, and baked at 350° for forty-five minutes.  After fifteen minutes of cooling, an oval platter is placed on top of the pineapple upside-down cake, then turned over and the cake is elegantly inverted to reveal the delicious topping. The pineapple creates steam that makes the cake rise a little higher than usual, and imparts a lovely texture to this classic American dessert. ©M-J de Mesterton Click Here to Read M-J's Main Website, Elegant Survival

Easy, Economical Spuds

Posted on November 8, 2015 at 6:15 PM

Boiling a Whole 10-Pound Bag of Potatoes, Economizing on Energy ©M-J de Mesterton 2015 Boiling a Whole 10-Pound Bag of Potatoes Uses Less Energy than Many Little Batches
©M-J de Mesterton 2015

To boil a whole sack of spuds at once, I added a tablespoon of salt and a quarter-cup of vinegar to the water in this huge stock-pot. The potatoes came out of the sack clean enough to dump directly into the pot. I turned on the gas and waited for them to start boiling, then let them simmer for thirty minutes.  Reserve the Potato-Water to Use as Fertilizer for Your Garden ©M-J de Mesterton Reserve the Potato-Water to Use as Fertilizer for Your Garden
©M-J de Mesterton

When the boiled potatoes were soft enough to eat but still firm enough to slice, I turned off the gas. I then transferred the potato-water to a more manageable pot. Because the large stock-pot filled with potatoes and water was too heavy for me to handle, I used a heat-proof pitcher to ladle it out, and poured the remaining hot water into a bowl in the sink. Later, when this nutrient-rich water is cool, I shall take these vessels of liquid to the garden and water plants  with them.

The potatoes, after having been drained of hot water, sat covered in the stock-pot to cool for a few minutes. To peel them, I simply throw some ice and cold water over the potatoes, let sit for ten minutes, then the jackets will slide off easily, leaving a very attractive spud indeed, ready to be frozen for later use. I developed this method of preparing potatoes for the future when an economy-sized bag of them threatened to sprout. To prevent the spuds from going bad, I boiled and peeled and froze them. They are perfect when turned into gratin Dauphinois, hash-browns and mashed potatoes.

©M-J de Mesterton 2015

Austerity Cookery

These boiled potatoes are ready to be doused with ice-water for easy peeling. When the spud-jackets are removed this way, there is no waste like there is when a peeler is used on raw potatoes. These particular potatoes have such delicate skins that, testing them for softness, I smashed one in a bowl, seasoned it with Himalayan salt and pepper: the little spud, jacket included, was delicious!

Elegant Blanched Potatoes


Pre-Boiled and Peeled Potatoes in the Freezer

Elegant, Simple Dessert

Posted on May 22, 2015 at 6:25 PM
Strawberries and Whipped Cream: a Simple, Elegant Dessert
Please Visit the Elegant Cook, by M-J de Mesterton

M-J's Elegant Macrobiotic Dish

Posted on May 22, 2015 at 3:40 PM

Shredded apple and Romaine lettuce adorn a bed of cool brown rice. Please visit Elegant Cook by M-J de Mesterton for this and other elegant macrobiotic recipes.

Health-Promoting Turmeric and Ginger

Posted on April 28, 2015 at 2:55 PM

Labels: Antioxidant Turmeric, Celery, Cucumber, Elegant Survival, Elegant Vegetables, Ginger, Ginger Root, Health-Benefits Turmeric, Red Onion, Turmeric Okinawa Diet, Vegetables for Good Health, Yams

ARTICLE at Natural News: Turmeric for Cancer-Prevention

Pasta Papillon

Posted on March 22, 2015 at 8:40 PM

Home-Made Pasta all'Uovo is Shaped into Bow-Ties and Dried
Egg Pasta Cooks in Five Minutes or Less, Saving Gas and Electricity

Reine de Saba

Posted on February 15, 2015 at 4:35 PM

I made this classic Reine de Saba (Queen of Sheba) cake using Julia Child's recipe, which I found in The French Chef Cookbook, page 285. I believe it is also somewhere on the web. It's a good dessert for those who love almond cake with chocolate icing.

©M-J de Mesterton

Haricots Verts

Posted on February 3, 2015 at 10:25 PM

Rich in probiotics (miso), medium-chain fatty acids (coconut oil), omega-3 fatty acids (walnuts), chlorophyll, vitamin K, manganese, fiber, folate, vitamin C, and honey, M-J's elegant vegetable dish is prepared in a wok and ready within eight minutes.

The Best Crepe Pan

Posted on February 2, 2015 at 5:50 PM
  The simple, old-fashioned iron pan  made in France by de Buyer is the traditional kitchen-tool for making light and crispy crêpes.©M-J de Mesterton 2015
  Click Here to Read M-J's Main Website, Elegant Survival

Nutritious Home-Made Fettuccine

Posted on February 2, 2015 at 2:30 PM

Home-Made Egg-Noodles Alfredo Style: an Inexpensive, Delicious Accompaniment to Chicken or Beef, or a Meal in Itself, Served with a Salad

Cook egg pasta until al dente (not quite soft); drain. Add grated Parmesan cheese, butter, and cream or a mixture of milk and cream to coat the noodles. Sprinkle on a dash of nutmeg. Cook, stirring lightly, for an additional minute or two until soft, adding more cream as needed. Cover and keep warm until serving. As long as the noodles are not overcooked, they may be reheated later with a little more cream.

©M-J de Mesterton 2015

Steak au Poivre

Posted on January 23, 2015 at 3:30 PM

Thin slices of sirloin tip beefsteak are coated with salt and cracked black pepper, then sautéed in butter. To make the sauce on which the cooked steaks are presented, a third-cup of flour is browned in the pan with a bit more butter, and stirred until brown. Gradually, brandy and cream or milk are poured into the pan, and the mixture is whisked until smooth. A hand-blender may be employed to integrate the brown bits and smooth the sauce.

©M-J de Mesterton 2015

Elegant Low-Carb Burgers

Posted on January 18, 2015 at 9:40 PM

A cast iron skillet such as this one by Le Creuset (extremely durable and worth the cost) will give your ground beef burgers a perfect finish.

Below: hot pickled peppers are placed on a cooked hamburger patty, which will be topped with Irish Ballyshannon Cheddar cheese and broiled.

The Le Creuset skillet is versatile because it can take the highest oven-temperatures, and withstands broiling.

Burgers are placed on beds of shredded lettuce and a sauce of mayonnaise with finely chopped dill pickles.

  ©M-J de Mesterton 2016     Click Here to Read M-J's Main Website, Elegant Survival

M-J's Drinks Party Tables

Posted on June 29, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Elegant Dessert

Posted on May 8, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Elegant Macrobiotic Salad

Posted on March 2, 2014 at 9:35 AM

Sesame dressing tops an elegant salad of thinly-sliced Romaine lettuce, brown rice and diced Fuji apples. ©M-J de Mesterton

For more of M-J's elegant macrobiotic dishes, please visit the Elegant Cook.

Green Beans with Walnuts

Posted on February 12, 2014 at 3:15 PM


 M-J's Green Beans with Walnuts in Miso-Honey Glaze

Petite green beans are sautéed in red chile oil, partially-crushed walnuts are added and lightly-browned; then  a teaspoon of miso, a half-teaspoon of honey are mixed with a third-cup of water and stirred into the pan or wok to coat the string-beans and nuts.

©Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2013

Happy New Year 2014

Posted on December 29, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Have a happy new year, dear readers!