Sunday, November 27, 2016

Corn salad

I'm not sure this deserves a recipe, exactly, but I was pleased with how it turned out. Note that all ingredient amounts are "ish."

1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained, rinsed
1 15 oz can wax beans, drained, rinsed
1 15 oz can garbanzos, drained, rinsed
lots of frozen sweet corn, thawed
1 sweet red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ c cider vinegar
¼ c veg oil
salt, pepper
dried basil
dried oregano

Mix beans, corn, onion, green bell pepper, cider vinegar, garlic, veg oil, black better, salt, basil, oregano in large bowl. Fridge overnight. Season in morning. May need more dressing to compensate for corn.

Cranberry Curd Tart

I was inspired to make this tart from the New York Times recipe. The picture with the New York Times recipe shows a tart with a truly gorgeous color, but every comment on the recipe warned that the actual tart couldn't match that, so I wasn't surprised when mine turned out a less vibrant pink. The recipe also called for cooking down whole berries and milling them. Although I recognize this approach as more economical in terms of money, I sided with the many commentators who did not like its time economy and wanted to use juice instead. One helpful commentator linked to this recipe:, and another commentator said they used the crust from Melissa Clark's ricotta tart. So I went from there.

Almond-Orange-Poppy crust 
1 ½ c AP flour
½ c ground almonds
1/3 c confectioners sugar
Grated zest of 1 orange
Pinch salt
½ c (1 stick) butter, cold and cubed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 T+  poppy seeds

Combine almonds, flour, sugar, zest, and salt. Pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse till coarse meal. Add egg and pulse just until a crumbly dough comes together. Add poppy seeds, pulse. Mine was really crumbly at this point. Press into disk, wrap in plastic wrap, chill for at least 1 hr or overnight. Press into 9 inch tart pan, chill 30 hours. Set oven to 325. Line with foil, add pie weights. Bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, weights. Bake 15 minutes more.

Cranberry Curd

¾ c cranberry juice
 ¼ c lemon juice + 2 T lemon juice
3/4 c sugar
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
¼ t salt
½ c (4 oz) butter, softened and cut into T pieces
zest from 1 orange

To room temp juices, add sugar, eggs and yolks, lemon juice, and salt (NOT the butter). Stir thoroughly until the mixture is even. Set over medium heat. Stir the curd continuously, scraping bottom and corners. Cook till the curd starts to thicken, coats the back of a spoon, and registers about 150 (doesn’t have to be exact). 10-12 minutes.

Remove from heat and add butter all at once. Stir until butter has completely melted, then pour curd through strainer and into clean bowl. (This was the first time that I ever thought something like this NEEDED to be strained-- there were bits of egg white in it. I might modify the method next time). Pour warm curd onto crust. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes (LONGER if using juice), until curd has set but still jiggles slightly in the center. Cool completely and refrigerate before cutting. Keep refrigerated. (Or NYTimes says RT for 2 days ok).

NOTE: A few days ago, David Tanis commented on his own recipe-- too late for my purposes. But with his information, I will include the NYTimes recipe as well:

12 oz berries, 1 c sugar, 1/2 c OJ, zest from 1 orange, 4 oz softened butter, 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks. 

Put berries, sugar, OJ, and peel in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until cranberries have popped and softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to food mill or mesh sieve, press cooking liquid into a bowl. This should equal scant 1 1/2 c. Whisk in butter. Beat eggs and yolks lightly. Temper them with berry mix, then combine both and whisk together. Return to pot and cook over low heat until nearly bubbling and thickened, about 10 minutes. Cool to RT, put in shell, bake at 350 for 10 minutes to set curd. "For the best color, make sure the curd is not overcooked (ie grainy) and be sure to cool it (thickens as it cools) before pouring into tart shell." So yes, maybe this would help-- maybe I'll have to make it again.

Friday, November 25, 2016

True Maple Cream Pie

As you may know by now, I love maple. So the idea of a "maple cream pie" always appeals to me. (And, in fact, I've had several good ones.) But they've always actually been maple custard pies (baked in-shell), which I'd probably be just fine with for the rest of my life if people didn't insist upon calling them cream pies, which is a different genre of pie. (Puddings cooked out of shell and put into an entirely pre-baked shell.) So there's always been an itch in my brain to scratch regarding a true maple cream pie.

This year, I took on the challenge, and used recipes from Food52 and the Food Network for maple pudding and a Taste of Home recipe for Maple Cream Pie that was actually a cream pie. And it turns out I really liked it. I might make some modifications to make it a bit firmer, but it really scratched my itch, and as expected I think I prefer it to a custard pie. (I'm unabashedly low brow about that).

1 3/4 c whole milk
1 c grade B maple syrup (divided)
1 c heavy cream (divided)
1/2 t salt
1/4 c cornstarch
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
3 T butter
sliced almonds, toasted

Blind bake a crust. (I suppose some would be tempted to put this in a graham cracker crust, or other sweet crust, but that makes me sad. I love the contrast of a sweet filling in a buttery, unsweetened crust).

Combine cornstarch and salt in a large saucepan. Stir in 1/2 c milk until smooth. Gradually stir in remaining milk and 3/4 c maple syrup. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Stir a small amount of the hot filling into egg yolks; return all to pan. Keep stirring. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat and gently stir in butter. Cool to room temperature.

At this point I chilled it overnight. It was quite firm and tasted delicious.

I based the method on the Taste of Home recipe, and what I think it intends you to do at this point is to beat the cup of cream, and add 1 c of the whipped cream to the filling. Then you sweeten the rest with the remaining 1/4 c maple syrup and spread it on top, and garnish with the toasted almonds.

Because we have a lot of pies around Thanksgiving, I didn't want to crown the whole pie with whipped cream-- instead, individuals can put whipped cream on as they please. So I put the almonds right on the pudding's surface. And since I was additionally confused about the method, I folded the whole 1 c of heavy of cream (whipped to a greater volume) into the pudding. In the future, I would only fold in 1 c of whipped cream, and would fold it into room temperature pudding rather than chilled pudding. Because it was chilled, it was too stiff to fold in well, so I had to whisk it at first and then fold in the rest, which loosened it too much. (In addition, the too-much-whipped-cream loosened it further). It wasn't too soupy, but I wanted it firmer.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Amy's (actually Ree Drummond's) Barbecue Sauce Jalapeno Thingies

My friend Amy B. serves these at parties-- Super Bowl, baby shower, Rock Band! And I like them. Whether or not you do, haha. She can make hers prettier than I can. Oh well! The recipe is modified, first by Amy, then by me, from Ree Drummond ("The Pioneer Woman").

18 fresh jalapenos (not too big)
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c grated sharp cheddar
green onion-- the recipe calls for 1-- I doubled the recipe but used a whole bunch (white parts)
18 thin slices bacon, cut in half
bottled BBQ sauce

Preheat the oven to 275. Lay out bacon on a baking sheet; brown a little bit (NOT near done-- they will still bake in the oven on the jalapenos. This is just to make sure they get all the way done).

Cut peppers in half lengthwise; try to keep the stems in tact. Scrape out the seeds and membranes (to taste).

Combine cheeses, green onion-- mix. Stuff pepper halves. Put a smear of sauce on top. Cover with a piece of bacon. (The recipe calls for wrapping them around, but this is just so hard for me. So I put it on top and it worked fine). Brush the bacon with BBQ sauce.

Bake 1 hour. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Penzeys Saffron Rice

Recording one Penzeys recipe made me think of another that I know I like.

1 c long-grain white rice
2 c water or chicken stock
1 T butter
1 T finely minced onion (optional)
1/2 t salt
1 small pinch saffron, crumbled
Place butter and onion in saucepan. Saute over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add rice, saffron, water/stock, salt. Bring to a rolling boil. Cover, reduce heat to simmer, and cook until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed (about 18 minutes).

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

My sister T. makes a mean (meaning really nice) pumpkin streusel muffin. The recipe (natch) is from Penzeys.

1/2 c butter, soft
1 c brown sugar
1 egg
1 c pumpkin puree
1/4 c evaporated milk
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t ginger
1/8 t cloves
1 2/3 c flour

2 T flour
2 1/2 T sugar
1 t cinnamon
1 T butter, firm

Set oven to 375 F. Grease or line 12 muffin cups. Blend streusel ingredients to the size of small peas. Cream butter with brown sugar. Blend in egg. Mix in pumpkin and milk. Gently stir in spices and soda. Stir in flour-- don't overmix. Portion into cups; distribute streusel. Bake 18-22 minutes.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Pancakes. Just Normal Pancakes.

This blog is meant to be my recipe box-- and yet-- I haven't recorded the recipe for normal family pancakes. I had to have sister T recite it to me, twice. Scale up the recipe as you please.

1 c flour-- you can use 1/2 white, 1/2 whole wheat
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1-2 T sugar
1 egg
2 T oil
3/4 c milk OR 1 c buttermilk

Mix dries (including sugar). Mix wets in liquid measuring cup; combine. Cook on griddle.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Guava Cheesecake

Sister T. made this to use up some guava paste and brought it to a dinner party. I like cheesecake-- I'm not crazy-- but I rarely find it very interesting. It's possible that I'm not alone in this. After all, cheesecake is frequently subjected to baroque variations. But somehow-- some way-- even the craziest cheesecakes with all sorts of fun and exciting flavors never really translate into "interesting" to me. Something about all that creamy dairy tends to stifle the novelty of the flavors... maybe?

But I really liked the flavors in this cheesecake.

It wasn't set up all the way when it was served (it hadn't been chilled overnight), so we thought maybe it needed to bake longer. But, afterward, when chilled more thoroughly, it was pretty perfect.

The source for this recipe is Go check out this fun blog and click around. I always feel torn when posting recipes from another personal blog. This "blog" is really meant to just be my personal recipe box, accessible to family and friends if they want a recipe reference, rather than an effort to put anything out there as being a product of any personal genius.

Guava Cheesecake

1 3/4 c sugar, divided
1 1/4 c graham cracker crumbs
4 T butter, melted
cooking spray
1/2 c water
1/2 c lime juice
8 oz guava paste, cut into small pieces (about 1/2 bar)
5 large egg whites, divided
1/2 c sour cream
2 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 t vanilla
1/8 t salt

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Coat a 9-inch sprinform pan with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, combine 1/4 c sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and butter. Press into the bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of the springform pan. Bake for 7 minutes; cool on wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

3. Combine 1/2 c sugar, 1/2 c water, lime juice, and guava paste in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.

4. Pour mixture into a blender, and process until smooth. (Or use an immersion blender). Cool completely, then stir in 1 of the egg whites.

5. Combine remaining ingredients: sugar, sour cream, and cream cheese. Beat with a mixer at low speed until smooth. Beat in vanilla and salt. Gradually add remaining 4 egg whites, beating well after adding each one. Pour into the graham cracker crust.

6. Drizzle guava mix over cheese mix.  Swirl them together with a knife.(I don't know if my sister's was thicker, but it did not get as blended with the cheese as in the picture on the blog-- and I liked it). Instead it was like big fissures of guava.

7. Bake at 325° for 45 minutes or until cheesecake center barely moves when touched. (It may crack a little along the edges.)

8. Turn the oven off; cool cheesecake in closed oven 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven. Run a knife around the outside edge.

9. Cool to room temperature, cover, and then chill at least 8 hours before serving.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pepper toast!

Speaking of liking the taste of black pepper, here is something that is sort of odd that I've done for a while and which is delicious. It is pepper toast!

You take one piece good white bread. (Isn't it a little funny when cookbook writers say that? "Take good milk and good strong flour and good olive oil...")

Toast it.

Butter it well. With good butter yo.

Grind some black pepper on it. Not too much.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Tangerine Peel Beef

Why have one Asian-flavor beef recipe when you can have two?

This recipe comes from Martin Yan's book "Culinary Journey through China." In his intro text, he deftly bobs and weaves around the idea of any sort of authenticity of the recipe. But it tastes good!

2 pieces (each about 1 1/2 inches square) dried tangerine peel

2 T soy sauce
1 T cornstarch

3/4 lb flank steak, thinly sliced

1/3 c orange juice
2 T rice wine or dry sherry
1 T soy sauce
1/2 t chile garlic sauce
2 t sugar
1 1/2 t cornstarch

2 1/2 T cooking oil
6 small dried red chiles
1 small onion, cut into 1 inch pieces

0. To make dried tangerine peel if you can't get it in a Chinese market: Peel the fruit. Cut the peel into pieces. Lay them out flat and cut or scrape away as much of the white pith from the inside of the peel as possible. Let the pieces of peel sun- or air-dry for a few days until they're firm but still flexible. Store them in an airtight jar.

1. Soak tangerine peel in warm water to cover until softened, about 15 minutes; drain. Thinly slice. Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl.

2. Add beef and stir to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes. Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl; set aside.

3. Place a wok over high heat until hot. Add 2 T oil, swirling to coat sides. Add chiles and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add beef and stir-fry until barely pink, about 2 minutes. remove the beef and the chiles from the wok.

4. Add the remaining 1/2 T oil to wok, swirling to coat sides. Add the tangerine peel and onion; stir-fry for 1 minute. Add sauce and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens.

5. Return beef and chiles to wok and cook until heated through. Garnish with orange slices if you want.

Black pepper beef

Another recipe from Marc Matsumoto on the PBS "Fresh Tastes" blog. Black pepper is a flavor I enjoy. As is beef.

2 t whole black peppercorns
500 g (18 oz) beef filet or other tender cut, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 T oyster sauce
2 T Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
2 t potato starch
2 t sesame oil
1 1/2 T vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 small green bell pepper, cut into 1/2" squares
1 onion, cut into 1/2" squares

1. Put the peppercorns in a mortar and use a pestle to crush the pepper into large pieces. You don't want any whole peppercorns, but it should be very coarse.

2. Put the beef into a bowl and add 3/4 of the black pepper and the oyster sauce, sherry (or substitute), potato starch, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Mix thoroughly and let this marinate for at least 15 minutes.

3. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the oil, and then immediately add the beef, leaving any marinade in the bowl for later. Fry one side until browned, then stir-fry until the outside of the beef is cooked and browned. Add the garlic, bell peppers, and onions, and continue stir-frying. Add the remaining marinade and stir-fry until the onions are cooked. Garnish with the remaining black pepper.

Spicy Miso-glazed potatoes

This yummy recipe comes from Marc Matsumoto on the PBS "Fresh Tastes" blog, dated Oct. 22 2013. I like miso and I liked this, which I approximately doubled for E's birthday dinner.

520 g small new potatoes
2 T miso (I used red)
1 T sake (I used rice vinegar)
1 T water
2 t brown sugar
1/2 t doubanjiang or your favorite Asian chile paste or sauce
1 clove garlic, grated (I chopped)
2 T butter
1 scallion, finely sliced

1. Clean potatoes. Cover with 2 inches of water in a pot, add 2 T salt, boil. Turn down heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the potatoes are easily pierced with a toothpick.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the miso, sake, water, brown sugar, chile sauce, and garlic.

3. When the potatoes are tender, drain them and let them air dry in the strainer until the skins become papery (I accelerated this in a warming oven).

4. Heat a frying pan over medium high heat until hot. Add butter and melt.

5. Add the potatoes and fry, allowing them to brown on one side, before gently flipping them over and browning the other side.

6. Add the sauce and continue frying, rolling the potatoes around to coat them with the sauce. It's done when there is no liquid left and the sauce has caramelized on the outside of the potatoes.

7. Garnish with scallions.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

NYTimes Hasselback Gratin

These potatoes, from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, got a lot of love and attention when they were published in the NYTimes food section in September 2015. They're the sort of NYTimes recipe that has this kind of comments section, showing the diversity of even the liberal-leaning NYTimes readership:

-- "Oh my goodness, are you trying to kill people with all that fat and starch? This is unconscionable and irresponsible of your publication in 2016!"
-- "If you don't like it, don't make it. Simple. Live and let live."
-- "I'm gluten and dairy free. What can I substitute to make this dairy free? Thoughts?"
-- "This dish is full of dairy. If you don't eat dairy, just make a different dish. Don't ruin this one with substitutions."

And so on.

Sister T. made this to use up some ingredients in her fridge, and, predictably, it was delicious. And it looked cute too.

3 oz finely grated Gruyere or comte cheese
2 oz finey grated Parm-Reg
2 c heavy cream
2 med cloves garlic, minced.
1 T fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
salt, pepper
4 -4 1/12 lb russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick on a mandoline
    buy extra just in case; depending on potato shape, it may take more or less to fill the dish.
2 T butter

Turn oven to 400 F. Combine cheeses. Transfer 1/3 of cheese mix to separate bowl, set aside. Add cream, garlic and thyme to main cheese mixture. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add potato slices; toss with your hands until every slice is coated with cream mixture, making sure to separate any slices that are sticking together to get the cream mixture in between them.

Grease a 2 quart casserole with butter. Pick up a handful of potatoes, organizing them into a neat stack, and lay them in the casserole dish with their edges aligned vertically. Continue in this manner, working around the perimeter and into the center until all the potatoes have been added. They should be very tightly packed. If necessary, slice an additional potato, coat with cream mixture, and add to casserole. Pour the excess cream/cheese mixture evenly over the potatoes until the mixture comes halfway up the sides of the casserole. You may not need all the excess liquid and in fact T. didn't; she served the rest heated into a thick gravy on the side and it was scrumptious. (The first time she made it she used all the liquid and it didn't turn out as well).

Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until the top is pale golden brown, about 30 more minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and return to oven. Bake until deep golden brown and crisp on top, about 30 more minutes. Remove from oven, rest for a few minutes, and serve.

Monday, July 18, 2016

French Boiled Pastry

I continue to be a wimp about pastry, so when I wanted to make a tart a few months ago (a Pepper Pie, actually), I used this recipe I found on David Lebovitz's site. He makes it clear that it is NOT HIS RECIPE and is a bit of a grump about it in the comments section ("I have no idea how it works, I can't troubleshoot it for you, it's not my recipe.") He learned it from a woman named Paule Caillat in France of the Promenades Gourmandes. Visit the website instead of just taking it from me: I'm just recording it here because I use this as my personal recipe box.

The crust was specifically complimented at the event I brought the tart to.

David advises using the crust with things like chocolate ganache or pastry cream, but not with thin, custardy fillings. I agree. There do tend to be small cracks in the dough.

French Pastry Dough for a 9 inch tart shell

85g (3 oz) unsalted butter, cut in pieces
   **they say American butter works just fine. I THINK I used European butter, but don't remember,
1 T oil
3 T water
1 T sugar
1/8 t salt
160 g (5.5 oz) all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 410 F.

In a medium-sized ovenproof bowl (such as Pyrex), combine butter, oil, water, sugar, salt. Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges.

Remove bowl from the oven (be careful! It might sputter!), dump in the flour (keep being careful!) and stir it quickly, until it comes together and forms a ball which pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to your 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom and spread it out a bit with a spatula. When cook enough to handle, pat it into the shell with your hands, pressing it to the sides. Reserve a small piece to patch cracks.

Prick the dough all over with the tines of the fork. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove from the oven. If there are any sizable cracks, use the bits of reserved dough to patch.


Other Founders Day Festives

Along with the jambalaya (see below), I served fried okra with a Scandinavian-inspired dipping sauce and a sour cream-cucumber salad.

I'm still no fan of okra, but frying it helped. (Mix up roughly equal parts flour and corn meal; salt it generously and put in some cajun or creole spice or cayenne powder. Beat up some eggs and salt them lightly. Thaw sliced okra and get all the ice chunks off. Dip first in the flour mix, then in the egg, then back in the flour, and fry in shallow oil). I DID like the dipping sauce for them.

The salad was very creamy and I thought it was a great counterpoint for the jambalaya. Mash-up success.

Dipping Sauce

~2 parts mayonnaise
~2 parts sour cream, maybe more
~1 part grainy or brown mustard
~1 part chopped capers
sprigs of dill, roughly chopped
1/2 large shallot, finely chopped
dash of apple cider vinegar

Cucumber-Sour Cream-Dill Salad

4 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, sliced into crescent moons
~3 stalks celery, chopped
big spoonful mayo
bigger spoonful sour cream, use more to taste
big handful of dill, chopped
a few T finely chopped white parts of scallions
3 T prepared horseradish (meant to add but forgot)
salt, pepper, vinegar to taste

Salt the cucumbers and put in a strainer to release liquid for 30 minutes or so. (I was so torn about whether to do this. I didn't want it to be limp, but I also didn't want it to get watery as I was serving it a few hours after making. In the end, I'm glad I did; it was still crisp and a little pickley, which I liked). Squeeze it to release all the water you can before putting it in the dressing.

Make a dressing out of the rest of the ingredients. I wanted mine to be really creamy and maybe even sort of soupy based on pictures I saw, and I wanted it to soothe the jambalaya. You might want yours drier.

Dress the cucumbers and celery. Season, adjust.

Refrigerate 30 minutes to develop flavors.

Founders Day Jambalaya

I have a post from several years ago for jambalaya-- a good one, as I recall-- but when I wanted to make jambalaya for Minnissippi Founders Day this year, I decided to up the ante.

This is an example of taking many recipes and formulating one of my own in advance, and in this case, it worked (it doesn't always). It is rather a baroque jambalaya with three meats, a roux, and some fiddliness. But it was yummy yummy to my belly.

What makes it an official Founders Day jambalaya is the inclusion of Swedish meatballs.

Minnissippi Founders Day Jambalaya

butter and/or olive oil (I used mostly butter)
2 T flour

Spice mix:
3 whole bay leaves
3/4 t cayenne
3/4 t paprika
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t white pepper
1 t dried thyme
1 t oregano
1 t camaron molido, optional
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 t rubbed sage

8-12 oz andouille sausage (I used linguica), cut in half disks)
Swedish meatballs, thawed
3/4 lb boneless, skinless, chicken breast, cut in bite size pieces

1 T pressed garlic
1 c finely chopped onion
3/4 c finely chopped green onion
1 c finely chopped celery
1 c finely chopped green bell pepper

1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes, chopped, including liquid
2 14.5 oz cans chicken broth
1 1/2 c uncooked long grain white rice

First, mise en place. Measure spices into a bowl. Cut vegetables and divide: one bowl with 1/2 of the onion, green onion, celery, and bell pepper, and ALL of the garlic. You'll use this first. The other bowl will have the other half of the onion, green onion, celery, and bell pepper. You'll add this later. Cut the sausage and the chicken. Thaw the meatballs (microwave cook ok).

Heat 3 T butter (or mix with olive oil) in a very large kettle or skillet with a heavy bottom over medium heat. Add sausage and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Add chicken and continue cooking until chicken is brown, 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove sausage and chicken from pan and add fat if needed to get back to 2 T; I added 1 T butter. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until browned. The fat will already be a little red because of the sausage; I cooked my roux for about 12 minutes, constantly smearing and swirling it and stirring, and it was about the color of a dark almond butter or natural peanut butter. Don't burn it!

Add your spice mix (bay leaves through sage) and another T of butter as needed. It should form a thickish paste; bloom it for a few minutes by squishing, turning, stirring in the pan. If the fat starts to separate, you're done.

Add another couple T butter, as needed, and add 1/2 of the onion, green onion, celery, green pepper, and all of the garlic. Cook until the vegetables start to get tender and relax, 8 minutes, stirring.

Add back chicken and sausage; add meatballs and the rest of the vegetables you set aside. Stir in tomato sauce and tomatoes. Bring to a boil (I needed all that liquid to get it wet enough to "bring to a boil", but I suppose your mileage might vary. If so, maybe only add 1/2 the tomato sauce or the tomatoes without their liquid). Stir in rice and broth. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, until rice is very nearly tender and the liquid is significantly reduced. (My assembled recipe suggested 25 minutes, but the actual process was much, much slower. But it got there).

Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, hot sauce, whatever else you think would help (think about the big taste categories. I thought it needed a touch umami so I splashed in umami. I thought it needed a touch of brightness so I splashed in some apple cider vinegar. Maybe you would think it needed some sweet, or pungency).

Continue to cook until rice is perfect. It should be thickened but still wet, a bit soupy.

I refrigerated it and re-heated it in the oven at 350 to serve.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Lemon & Curry Leaf Rice (a side rice)

As you may know, if you know me, I love rice. As a kid, whenever Mom would ask me what I wanted for dinner, the chances are high I'd say "rice." I like more elaborate rice preparations, but I also like rice as a simple accompaniment-- when it's well prepared. (Which often means, well enough salted). I admit, though--  it helps if a little special care has been given its preparation. (See the coconut water rice elsewhere in this collection). So I appreciated this Ottolenghi rice preparation, from "Plenty More." It's subtle-- it's a white 'side rice,' neither a pilaf or a rice salad-- but pretty yummy.

5 short cinnamon sticks, each about 2 inches (I used 2 1/2 longer sticks, broken)
10 whole cloves
shaved rind of 1 lemon
1 T lemon juice
25 fresh curry leaves or 35 dried curry leaves
400 g basmati rice, rinsed, and soaked in water for 15 minutes, then drained well
1/4 c butter or olive oil or a mix
salt and white pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Put the cinnamon sticks, cloves, lemon rind, curry leaves, 1 1/2 t salt, and 1/2 t pepper in a saucepan. Cover with 2 3/4 c water and place over high heat. As soon as the water boils, remove the pan from the heat.

Spread the rice out in a baking dish or roasting pan approximately 9 1/2 x 12 inches (I used an 11 x 13 and it was fine). Cover with the boiled water and aromatics, stir well. Lay a piece of parchment paper over the surface of the water and cover the dish with aluminum foil. Cook in the over for 25 minutes, then remove and leave to sit, covered, for 8-10 minutes.

Just before serving, melt fat in a small saucepan. When melted and/or very hot, carefully add the lemon juice and swirl to mix. Pour over the hot rice and fluff. Serve at once.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Joan Nathan's Lemon Almond Macaroons ("Almendrados")

I found this recipe, from the reliable guide to all things Jewish cuisine, Joan Nathan, in the New York Times cooking section. After a very flavorful meal, I thought they were fine but a little boring. But then they really grew on me and now I quite like them and think it is a recipe to keep.

I might like them with orange zest and dipped in chocolate!

Lemon Almond Macaroons

2 c whole blanched almonds, plus about 30 almonds for decoration
    **I used 10 oz almond meal instead
1 c granulated sugar
1 large egg
finely grated zest of 1 lemon

If you are using whole almonds, process very finely. Add 3/4 c sugar (I spazzed and added 1 c), the egg, lemon zest, and salt to taste, and make a cohesive dough. It will be very firm. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a nonstick liner. Place remaining 1/4 c sugar in a small bowl (I used yellow decoration sugar, but I don't love the texture. I might try finely chopped unblanched almonds).

Scoop pieces of dough "about the size of a walnut," roll them into balls, and then into sugar. Gently press an almond point first into the top of each cookie. Arrange one inch apart on baking sheet (they don't really spread, so you could fit a lot on a sheet).

Bake until cookies have the barest hint of color but still remain (quite!) soft, 8-10 minutes. Cookies must be soft when removed from oven to avoid excess hardening when they cool.

Jerusalem-inspired Salad

I already had a pretty good vision of the salad before I even checked "Jerusalem" out from the library, so when there was a recipe which almost matched my vision ("Spiced chickpea and fresh vegetable salad"), and a serving suggestion for the lamb which matched the other part of my vision, it gave me confidence to proceed as I pleased. And I liked what I came up with. As with all salad recipes, I used amounts of vegetables/etc that looked right to my eye at the time.

Jerusalem-inspired Salad

Spiced chickpeas:
canned chickpeas-- thoroughly rinse and drain
1 t ground cardamom  (I used a big can of chickpeas so I think I tripled all spices to get enough)
1 1/2 t ground allspice
1 t ground cumin
1/4 t salt

Tomato-- I used red tear-drop tomatoes and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
Sweet red onion
Cilantro: bunch leaves and stems, coarsely chopped
Parsley: bunch, coarsely chopped

6 T olive oil
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 T lemon juice
1 1/2 T sherry vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 t sugar
a generous amount of ground sumac
salt, pepper

Serve with: 
avocado if desired

Cut tomato (or attractively half small tomatoes), cucumber, and onion into pieces to match the chickpeas. Mix with herbs.

Make dressing: whisk olive oil, lemon juice, zest, vinegar, garlic, sumac, and sugar, as well as salt and pepper to taste.

Mix cardamom, allspice, cumin, and salt. Toss chickpeas in the mixture to coat well. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and lightly fry the chickpeas 2-3 minutes. I did this in several batches, because I used a lot of chickpeas.

The recipe I used as inspiration has you keep the chickpeas warm and serve them on top of the dressed salad. I let them cool and dressed the salad and then folded in the cool chickpeas.


Another recipe I made for my "Jerusalem" inspired Passover. Ottolenghi and Tamimi describe it as one of their most loved dishes, and the ultimate comfort food. I quite liked my adaptation, too. I doubled it and used -- the horror, I know!-- prepared fried onions. But last year I tried to fry some shallots and experienced an oil-fire fire ball in my kitchen. It extinguished quickly and didn't hurt anything, but it was big and scary enough that I had time enough to think, "well, this is how it ends. This is how I burn my house down."

Anyway, traumatized from the shallots, I just bought a big plastic jar of French's fried onions. And you know what? I liked it. I might add more next time.

Although, I could simply saute/caramelize some onions instead. That would be easy and delicious.

On a more interesting note, the tradition behind this dish is that it is descended from Esau's pottage; some communities even call it "Esau's favorite." Since Esau is MY favorite (my whole Sunday School class knows this), I ought to like this dish.

The name, variously spelled mujaddara, mejadra, moujadara, mudarda, and megadarra, means "pockmarked" which we're told refers to the lentils pockmarking the rice.


1 1/4 c green or brown lentils

fried onions (recipe calls for 700g onion; 3 T AP flour; 1 c oil; fry thin slices 5-7 min)

2 t cumin seeds-- I ran out the day before, so used ground cumin
1 1/2 T coriander seeds-- loved the flavor but was a wimp about the texture. I'd use ground next time
1 c basmati rice
2 T olive oil
1/2 t ground turmeric
1 1/2 t ground allspice
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 t sugar
1 1/2 c water
salt, pepper

Can be served with, if you are doing dairy:
thick yogurt OR melted butter

Place lentils in small saucepan, cover with plenty of water, boil, and cook for 12-15 minutes, until the lentils have softened but still have a little bite. Drain, set aside.

Fry onions, in batches, if you're doing that.

Toast cumin and coriander over medium heat a minute or two. Add rice, olive oil, turmeric, allspice, cinnamon, sugar, 1/2 t salt, and plenty of pepper. Stir to coat rice with oil, and then add the cooked lentils and the water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over very low heat 15 minutes.

Remove from heat, lift off the lid, quickly cover with a clean tea towel, and seal tightly with the lid. Set aside 10 minutes.

Finally, add 1/2 the fried onion to the rice and lentils and stir gently. Adjust seasoning. Serve with the rest of the onions piled on top.

Lamb "Shawarma"

I've been wanting to get on-trend with Ottolenghi/Tamimi for a while now, so when I planned our Passover this menu this year, I used it as a chance to embrace a "Jerusalem" theme for the meal.

I gave their "Lamb Shawarma" recipe to Mom to execute and she and brother Ignacio did a great job. I put shawarma in quotes because this is not lamb shaved off a spit. Lamb is a great favorite of mine and I was really pleased with how this turned out.

The rest of the menu came together nicely. Of course, there was Mom's perfect unleavened bread. As suggested in the lamb recipe, I made a harissa-based spread that I'm not sure was necessary for me personally. I made a salad inspired by the serving suggestion for the lamb and another recipe in the book-- tomato, onion, cucumber, parsley, and cilantro, dressed in a lemon sumac vinaigrette, with fried spiced chickpeas. I made a Jerusalem rice and lentil dish, mejadra. S. contributed a beautiful, delicately spiced fruit salad. Of course, we always have brown eggs (thanks S.!) and charoset (thanks I.!) and grape juice (thanks Mom!) Dessert was lemon-almond macaroons from a Joan Nathan recipe and sugar-free rhubarb pie.

Lamb Shawarma, adapted from "Jerusalem" by Ottolenghi/Tamimi

2 t black peppercorns
5 whole cloves
1/2 t cardamom pods-- I used ground
1 t fennel seeds
1 T cumin seeds
1 star anise-- I used ground
1/2 cinnamon stick -- I used ground
1/2 whole nutmeg, grated-- I used ground
1/4 t ground ginger
1 T sweet paprika
1 T sumac
2 1/2 t salt
scant 1 oz fresh ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2/3 c chopped cilantro, stems and leaves
1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 c oil
1 bone-in leg of lamb, about 5 1/2 - 6 1/2 lb (used boneless, ~4 1/2 lb)
1 c boiling water

Put first 8 ingredients in pan, dry-roast over medium high heat for a minute or two, until the spices begin to release their aromas. Don't burn them. Add nutmeg, ginger, and paprika, toss for a few more seconds, just to heat them, then transfer to a spice grinder. Process to a uniform powder. Add the remaining ingredients except the lamb (I now realize I forgot to, which is terrible; and the fact that I liked the result any way makes me want to make it again and make it right).

Use a small, sharp knife to score the leg in a few places, making slits 2/3 in deep through the fat and meat to allow the marinade to seep in. (We used a boneless leg, and didn't want it to fall apart if we took the netting off. So I. speared it-- a lot and pretty deep I think-- between the netting and left it on).

Place in a large roasting pan and rub the marinade all over the lamb; use your hands to massage the meat well. Cover the pan with foil and chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 325.

Put the lamb in the oven with its fatty side up and roast for a total of 4 1/2 hours, until the meat is completely tender. After 30 minutes of roasting, add boiling water to the pan and use this liquid to base the meat every hour or so. (Add water as needed to make sure there is always ~1/4 inch in the bottom of the pan. We didn't have to do this). For the last 3 hours (so, after 90 minutes), cover the lamb with lid or foil to prevent the spices from burning. Once done, remove the lamb from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.

Serve with pita (or, in our case, unleavened bread) with chopped onion, parsley, sumac, cucumber, tomato, and they suggest a spread of 120g chopped canned tomatoes, 20 g harissa, 20 g tomato paste, 1 T olive oil, salt, pepper.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Green Beans Parmesan

Made this and liked it in spite of thinking it was more trouble than it ought to have been. Of course it was! It is from Cook's Illustrated, "Italian Favorites," December 2009. I served it alongside my sister's perfect lasagna; it probably would be a better match for simply prepared protein so the flavors wouldn't be too redundant.

Green Beans Parmesan

1 slice high-quality white sandwich bread ("crusts discarded"-- not sure I did), torn into quarters
2 T butter
1 1/2 oz grated parmesan cheese (~ 3/4 c)
1 T chopped fresh basil
2 T olive oil
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or put through a press
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 lb green beans, trimmed
1/3 c chicken broth

1. Process bread in food processor, about 10 seconds, to make ~1 c crumbs.
2. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Stir in crumbs and cook, tossing often, until golden brown, 3-5 minutes. Transfer to bowl and toss with 1/4 c parmesan cheese and basil. (I actually stirred the basil in at the end).
3. Wipe out skillet, add 1 T oil, and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and 1/4 t salt and cook until soft and golden, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook until liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes (I felt like it took longer). Transfer to a small bowl.
4. Wipe out skillet again and heat 1 T oil over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add beans and 1/2 salt and cook, turning beans several times, until browned in spots, about 8 minutes (maybe this took longer too? I don't remember). Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in tomato mixture and broth. Cover and cook until beans are just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove lid and cook until liquid evaporates, 1-2 minutes (I definitely remember these last 2 steps taking longer, at least).
5. Off heat, toss in remaining 1/2 c parmesan and adjust seasonings (in fact, you may want to let it cool a bit-- my parmesan clumped a bit). Transfer to serving dish, if desired, and top with bread crumbs. Serve.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

New York Hot Dogs!

For Three Kings Day we went as far east as NYC, eating food that a wise guy in the Bronx might. I boiled up dirty water dogs (although I usually use dry heat in a pan and get a nice sear, I wanted to be authentic) and served them with mustard, sauerkraut, and onion relish. Now, you might think that sounds like too many pungent/sour/funky ingredients. But it's a thing because it works. I like it better than a ketchup and mustard dog.

The only thing that really needed preparing was the relish, and although I was skeptical about my ability to make it 'right,' it turns out I quite liked my version. (It's been too long since I've had a street cart dog to honestly comment on authenticity, but it matched my sense memory well). I combined a few recipes from the web; one claiming to be authentic (by far the simplest), Bobby Flay's, and a little bit of Martha Stewart's (her innovation was to use tomato paste and red wine vinegar rather than ketchup).

New York Hot Dog Onion Relish

2 T veg or olive oil (I used olive oil)
2 medium sweet onions, cut in 1/4 inch slices
1 T honey
some cinnamon-- I sprinkled-- maybe 1/2 t?
some chili powder-- also, sprinkled-- maybe 1/2 t?
2 T tomato paste
~3-4 T red wine vinegar (I don't quite remember)
hot sauce-- again, by sight-- a dash or so?
1/2 c or so water-- probably more, see instructions
black pepper

Heat oil over medium-high heat and saute the onions until soft. Stir in the the honey, cinnamon, and chili, and cook 1 minute. Add  tomato paste, vinegar, hot sauce, and water; season with salt and pepper.. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and glossy, 10-15 minutes. I don't know how much water I really added; I added more because I wanted it to cook longer and it had used up all the water. So add more and cook it down to a jam. Taste and use salt until the flavors really pop. Cool to room temperature. Serve on an all-beef dog (my strong preference) with mustard (I like spicy brown or hot) and sauerkraut.