Friday, December 31, 2010
This recipe is adapted from Butternut Squash Supreme by Marianna King. I found it on Allrecipes.com. Like many of her reviewers, I changed it to suit my tastes. Her instructions include a diced raw onion and cheddar cheese. I substituted one of my favorite flavor combinations - shallots, sage and a blend of Italian cheeses. I've made this with sweet potatoes as well. This week, I baked off the acorn, delicata and sugar pumpkin I had used as a decoration throughout the Fall. I like baking rather than boiling, as Ms. King directs. I like the flavors to concentrate and become more dense. After baking, I scooped out the flesh and pureed in a food processor.
I took this for lunch one day this week. As I sat eating, engrossed in Harry Potter, I kept thinking, "Wow, this is good. This is SO good. I've got to post this. Everyone should eat this. So, so good!" Luckily, all my coworkers heard was "Mmmmm! Mmmmm! Mmmmm!"
About 4 cups of cooked and pureed dense orange squash or sweet potatoes
2 tbsp. butter
1 large shallot, diced
2 tbsp. fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup whole milk or half and half
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup grated cheese (I like an Italian blend with Asiago, Parmesan, Provolone and Mozzarella)
1/2 tube of Ritz crackers
2 tbsp. melted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 inch square baking pan by lining with butter or non-stick spray.
In a small skillet, saute the shallots and sage in the butter over a low flame until the shallots are soft and translucent.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the squash, eggs, milk, salt and pepper and cheese. Stir in the shallots and sage. Pour into prepared bake pan.
Crush the crackers in a food processor or put them in a large Ziploc back and bash them until they become crumbly. Mix in melted butter. Evenly distribute the crumbs over the top of the squash.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Serves 6 as a side dish or 4 as a vegetarian main course.
246 calories per side dish serving.
370 calories per main course serving.
Monday, December 27, 2010
pastry for one double crust pie (plus extra for dessert!)
Saturday, December 25, 2010
My lovely daughter, Madelyn, and her boyfriend, Robb, came in on Wednesday night. Thursday we had a big roasted turkey dinner before Robb had to head home for work and to continue his celebrations with his family. Christmas eve was a day of traveling. We visited with my in-laws and my parents and grandma. All my life we've celebrated Christmas eve with the grandparents and had Christmas day for relaxing at home. Today's Christmas celebration was really our fourth of the season.
While visiting my in-laws, we got to talking about all the treats of Christmas past. My beloved mother-in-law, Pat, suffers from dementia. Sharing memories of her has become so precious and important. Pat was a fantastic cook and taught me much of what I know. Madelyn and I decided to browse through the family cookbook. I think most houses have something like this - a notebook or bundle of recipes collected over the years. These are precious family artifacts. To my great surprise, Bill gifted me with this one! Because I am interested in recipes and the stories that go with them, I have now been gifted with two of these precious heirlooms. Earlier this year, I received my Pappy's recipe book. (I had two Pappy's - my grandfathers. This one is my maternal grandfather.) His looks much like the one above, but is brown. Like Pat's, it has a combination of handwritten, typed and clipped recipes. My Pappy's notebook also contains notes and recipes from his young adult years when he worked as a chef in a hotel. My Grandma Betty gave it to me when I showed interest in it.
Because I've been part of my husband's family for about 30 years, I have a good idea which of these recipes were repeated family favorites and which were collected for experimentation.
I have so many cookbooks. I've been meaning to share some of them for a while. I have a collection that crosses several generations of my family. My own cooking recollections are taking shape in this blog, but are totally unorganized in my kitchen. There are printouts, scribbles and note papers everywhere! I realize that I don't have a cohesive legacy like these little rubber banded notebooks. So, while I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, it seems that one is shaping up for me - create a non-electronic cooking legacy for my descendants. I hope any cooking folks who read this little blog will consider doing the same. I love to enjoy food wisdom and sharing on the interwebs, but who knows what formats will still be around two or three generations from now. It's time for me to back it all up on files that only require eyes to read.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
If the only beets you know are the little pickled ones at the local salad bar, I hope you will give fresh beets a try. Also, if you've never eaten fresh beets before, do not be alarmed by any colorful changes in your digestive habits. One friend of mine took himself to the emergency room after his first helping of fresh beets!
6 medium beets
3 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. orange zest
1/2 cup orange juice
Wash beets and cut the greens off about 1 inch from the crown of the beet. (This prevents all of the color leaking out while cooking.) Place in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to slow boil. Cook until tender when pierced. This will take 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. When tender, remove them to a plate to cool.
For the sauce, place the sugar, cornstarch, salt and butter in a medium saucepan. Melt the butter over a medium heat, stirring constantly to make a roux. Do not brown. When smooth, pour in the orange juice and zest. Continue to cook and stir until smooth, thick and glossy. Set aside while you slice the beets.
Cut the tops and bottoms off the cooked beets. Cut into quarters lengthwise, then slice. Add beets to the sauce and heat through. Sprinkle with additional orange zest before serving.
Makes 6 servings.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
This holiday season has been a little crazy for me. There's so much going on at work, and the evenings are filled with holiday preparations. A quick and nutritious home-cooked meal can feel heaven sent. Frittata's are my go-to egg dish. This is one of those dishes that is easily adapted to your own preferences and refrigerator contents. The frittata pictured above is filled with chopped shallots, diced ham and one leftover baked potato that had been cubed and crisped in butter before adding the eggs. I think eggs and Parmesan cheese are a match made in heaven, but you could use any melting cheese you like to top your frittata.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Oatmeal Raisin Muffins
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt (Jane Brody only calls for 1/4 tsp.)
3 tbsp. wheat germ
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. honey
In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk, oats and raisins. Allow them to soak while preparing the rest of the ingredients. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and wheat germ. In a third and larger bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, vanilla, honey and egg. Add 1/2 the oat mixture to the creamed mixture, then add 1/2 the dry ingredients, stirring just to combine. Repeat. Do not over stir. Divide the batter into 12 greased muffin cups. (I use a 4 oz. disher to scoop the dough and come out with exactly one dozen every time.) Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.
Per my calculations, these have 187 calories each.
Friday, November 26, 2010
I'm so grateful for my family. We've had our superlative daughter home for the weekend. She is my foodie soul mate. Because she lives in Berkeley, the birthplace of the locavore movement, she often is in a position to educate me about food. She's a fantastic cook and makes everything from scratch, including her own bread and yogurt.
I'm grateful that many members of my family have lived a very long time. Because of this, we often have a blend of traditions from the different branches and different generations. I think it is interesting that many of the food traditions of my mom and prior generations include more packaged and processed foods than what is now customary for my daughter. Because of our multiple generations and family lines, we'll have a total of three Thanksgiving meals with a variety of homemade and factory assisted foods. The meal you see above was Thanksgiving part one, prepared on Wednesday for our own family at home. We had roasted turkey, a cheesy sweet potato casserole, stuffing, peas and homemade cranberry sauce. Thanksgiving part two included my father-in-law's birthday. There we had roasted ham, special ham gravy, mashed sweet potatoes, sauteed candied carrots, onions and green beans, rolls and some leftover turkey and cranberry sauce. We also had my father-in-law's favorite dessert - Bob the Butler's Mile High Boston Creme Pie. (I'll share this in another post. It is extreme!) Thanksgiving part three is at my folk's house today. We're likely having a frozen lasagna and a bag of salad. By T-3, we're all pretty tired and I want to make it as easy as possible. I have to be careful that my mom doesn't fuss and over do it.
For our at-home meal, two items were made the easy-cheater way: frozen peas and Stove Top Stuffing. I know. It's a guilty pleasure. I mix one box of turkey flavor and one of cornbread and it tastes like my childhood holiday meals. I can remember my grandma even making the mashed potatoes from a box of potato buds. My grandma's generation was on the cutting edge of food as science, and my mom came of age in the space age. As my daughter and I venture forth into eating that is healthy for our bodies and the planet, we are doing some reclaiming of tradition, but we are more often boldly going where our foremothers never went before. We are creating new traditions.
One of our new traditions is this scrumptious cranberry sauce. It is adapted from this recipe from allrecipes.com. I've made it my own by using a dried tropical fruit mix and handling some of the ingredients a little differently. Tropical fruits are one of the main reasons why I can never be a purist about eating locally. I can't go without tropical products like pineapple and mango, not to mention staples like coffee and vanilla.
I obtained some litmus test strips so that I can test the acidity of some of my favorite recipes for water bath canning. This recipe is plenty acidic and it would make a great holiday gift. I've not canned it before because we eat it up so fast. I have stored it in jars, so I know that this recipe makes two pints. If you wish to can it, use the USDA safe canning methods and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Here you see yesterday's dinner - roasted chicken pieces and roasted root vegetables. I really like starting out with a whole chicken. I know many people who only eat boneless, skinless breast meat. I know those breasts are great for lean protein, but you get so much more out of a whole chicken. Breaking down a chicken is easy, if you know how and your knives are sharp. One of these days I'll get one of my photographer friends over to help me document this process.
For this dinner, I cut up the whole chicken and used the breasts, thighs and legs for roasting. I reserved the neck, back and wings for stock. While I get points for cutting up my own chicken, I lose points for being lazy and buying commercial salad dressing. Salad dressing is just about the easiest way to add lots of flavor to chicken. I used Trader Joe's Romano Caesar Dressing. It's perfect for chicken - garlicky and not too acidic. I just marinated the prepared chicken pieces in the fridge for a couple of hours. You could let it marinate over night as well.
Roasted Chicken and Root Vegetables
5 small turnips
5 small golden beets
2 large carrots
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
For the vegetables:
Trim, wash and dry the vegetables. Reserve greens for another use. Cut larger vegetables in half or into large chunks so that they are all the same size as your smallest root. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in an oiled covered casserole. Roast, covered, in the preheated oven for 15 minutes before placing the chicken in the oven.
For the chicken:
One whole chicken, cut up (reserve back, neck and wings for stock)
3/4 cup Trader Joe's Romano Caesar Dressing
Marinate chicken pieces two hours or overnight. When ready to roast, remove from marinade and place, skin side up, in an oiled glass 9 X 13 inch pan. Dip the pieces in the marinade as they are removed so that they are completely coated. Once the veggies have had their 15 minutes, place the chicken in the oven, uncovered and roast for 40 minutes. This is where knowing your oven comes in. Stir the veggies once or twice during the roasting, always replacing the cover afterward. If the chicken browns unevenly, you may need to rotate the pan once during the cooking time.
Bonus Recipe - Chicken Stock
Neck, back and wings of one chicken
2 large carrots
3 stalks celery
1 large or two small onions
2 cloves garlic
sprigs of fresh parsley, sage and thyme
Brown the chicken in the stock pot while preparing the vegetables. Add all the vegetables and herbs and pepper. Add enough water to cover. In my pot, I used 12 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer at least 2 hours. Strain and refrigerate for future use.
Monday, November 15, 2010
I first read about Paradise Jelly at Put Up or Shut Up. (Take a look at that vivid pink-red color she got!) After doing some research, I found that it is a traditional jelly made with quince, apple and cranberries. I saw different proportions of fruit in different recipes, but almost all of them required 3/4 cup of sugar per one cup of strained juice. I decided to use just about all the fruit I'd purchased to make the juice and go from there.
Prepare jars, lids and boiling water bath. Place the juice and sugar in a large pan and bring to a boil. Set up thermometer to monitor temperature. Place a few saucers in your freezer for testing the set. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes, until thermometer reaches 222 or 223. Test the jelly by scooping out a small amount and dropping it on the frozen saucer. Once cool, the jelly should wrinkle slightly when pushed with your finger.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Giant Oven Pancake for Two
Friday, November 5, 2010
This dish could not be simpler or more delicious. I renewed my acquaintance with this creamy egg dessert through Sunset's Easy Basics for Good Cooking. Like any basic recipe, it is ripe for invention. That being said, I really like the simple elegance of freshly grated nutmeg. Nutmeg is so fragrant and unique, yet somehow this strong flavor perfectly compliments the gentle flavors of milk and eggs.
2 cups milk (I used a blend of skim milk and half & half because that's what I had around.)
1/4 cup sugar
3 whole eggs or 6 egg yolks (I used whole eggs.)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Fresh nutmeg to grate on top
My methodology differs slightly from the Sunset method. They advise to scald the milk then stir in the sugar to dissolve. I whisked my eggs and sugar together while the milk was heating. Some tiny bubbles formed on the surface of mine, but I don't mind that. (Am I the only person in the world who likes pudding skin?) I also did not strain my custard because the little twirly bits of egg white don't bother me. If you are making this for a dinner party, or squeamish children, you might want to strain it.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Start heating a kettle of water.
Paraphrased from Sunset - In a medium sauce pan, scald the milk. That means heat it until little bubbles start to show up around the edges and the milk is heated through. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Slowly whisk the hot milk into the eggs then stir in the vanilla.
Place ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour the custard into the ramekins. Top with freshly grated nutmeg. Place the pan with the ramekins into the preheated oven and pour the hot water into the bake pan so that the water comes up to about 1 inch. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Custard should remain jiggly in the center. Remove from oven and remove the ramekins from the hot water and allow to cool.
I like this both warm and cold. According to Sunset, this makes six servings. You gotta be kidding me. Two. Tops.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Mark Bittman practically guaranteed that this tasty recipe will win over even the most staunch veggie hater, and after tasting them, I'm sure he's right. I bought some beautiful cauliflower at he farmer's market this weekend. I almost bought two. Dwayne cautioned me that I would be the only one eating it. For a few days, I've been contemplating the plating of this cauliflower for Dwayne's enjoyment. I know it can be meltingly delicious. Should I roast it? Mash it? Souffle it? Then I saw this recipe and knew I had hit upon the answer.
3 cups grated vegetables, salted and drained
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I decided to make a mild salsa/salad for my lunch. This is a combo of garden foods and pantry foods. Variable as can be. The only thing that was missing that I would have liked is some avocado sliced on top.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
The challenge with sharing such a soup is that it has grown, like an organic thing, unrestricted by formula and measurement. I won't be giving you a recipe for this soup, but I will describe it. I will also encourage you to make your own soup, which will surely be different from my own soup.
This soup started with olive oil and diced onion, carrot, celery and a big handful of chopped parsley. Rooting through the fridge revealed leftover steamed kale and half of a big baked sweet potato. I added the kale and peeled the skin from the sweet potato and diced it into the pot. Sweet potato and tomato are a natural pairing. I added a box of diced tomatoes. I really wanted some protein. I added some cubed cooked chicken and about 4 cups of chicken broth.
Taste...add lots of black pepper.
Taste...soup asks for basil from the garden. OK! A big handful of basil ribbons.
Taste...soup asks for nutmeg. Freshly grated nutmeg goes into the pot.
Taste...soup says, "I can become chili." I think, no, not chili. You are more delicate than that.
For warmth, what about cinnamon. Yes!
A bit more nutmeg. A bit more cinnamon.
Soup says, "I can have beans without being chili." Yes, of course. Kidney beans.
Simmer 20 minutes while the cornbread bakes and you are the soup of my dreams. The true soup du jour. The soup that has emerged in time and space to nourish and provide soup love to my Beloved Liquid Earth Body right now. It's soup magic.
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/4 cup soft butter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare an 8 X 8 inch baking pan with butter or non-stick spray.
Combine cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Add the milk, egg and butter and stir to combine. Some lumps are OK. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Makes 9 good sized servings.