Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hot Buttered Rum a la Wayne Curtis

This doesn't even belong in this blog, because it's not in the NYTHB, but if you are like me, and were at one time fascinated with the idea of Hot Buttered Rum, I thought you might like this recipe. We had this at the tree trimming party. The idea is, you make the mix and every time you want hot buttered rum, you take it out of the freezer. It didn't quite work out that way. Some of us ended up eating the mix. We did not make the whole thing, so it wasn't as bad as it sounds. I think, because of the ice cream, that this recipe is better than Hewlett's. The question is, whether or not you like sweet stuff.
Wayne Curtis is the author of And a Bottle of Rum, a History of the New World in Ten Cocktails.

Hot Buttered Rum a la Wayne Curtis

1 pound butter
1 pound brown sugar
1 pound granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
one quart vanilla ice cream

Bring the butter to room temperature and mix all the ingredients except the ice cream. Add slightly softened ice cream and mix well. Store mixture in freezer. To make drinks by the mug, add 1 1/2 ounce rum, one tablespoon of ice cream mix, then, fill mug with boiling water.

Hot Buttered Rum a la Hewlett


This represents the end of one entire section--the drinks section. Now, it only has four recipes, but there is still a sense of accomplishment. We had cookbook Hot Buttered Rum on Christmas Day, when we sat ten people down to dinner, and served Hot Buttered Rum to everyone, including one of my Girl Scouts, who dropped in because she happened to be a few blocks away. Disclosure. My Girl Scouts graduated from high school in 2003 and have an average age of 25.
There was a lot of vibrant conversation to go with the steamed up windows in the kitchen. This recipe isn't the easiest thing for a group, although it seemed to be just the ticket on a cold day. You have to mix each cup individually, and having to stop, locate the brown sugar and the rum, and pour a glass for whoever wanted it was somewhat time-consuming.

Hot Buttered Rum

1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon minced lemon rind
3 shakes cinnamon
1 shake nutmeg
1 jigger light rum ( a jigger is about 4 tablespoons)
Boiling water
Sweet butter

1. Combine the brown sugar, lemon rind, cinnamon, nutmeg and rum in a warmed ten-ounce glass.
2. Fill with boiling water and rop in a generous teaspoon of sweet butter.
One serving.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Baked Wild Rice with Carrots

To me, game, which I did not particularly like as a child, goes with wild rice, another grown-ups delicacy that I did not particularly like. Wild rice comes from Minnesota, so, another non New England recipe. Wild rice takes a long time to cook. I did not find that the amount of time given in the book was sufficient to cook it. The recipe says boil vigorously for ten minutes and then let it stand for twenty minutes so absorb the water. I would say, make it three cups of water, and boil for half an hour. Check the tenderness of the rice and the amount of water. The wild rice I remember burst open its kernels to reveal a whitish interior. Our rice was tender and good, but did not burst open much.
This recipe calls for bacon, but I left it out to accommodate vegetarian members of the family. It was great.

Baked Wild Rice with Carrots

1 1/2 cups wild rice, rinsed well in cold water
2 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
4 slices bacon cut into tiny cubes
1 onion finely chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup finely grated carrots
1/2 cup light cream
1 egg

1. Combine the rice, water and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook vigorously ten minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and cover. Let stand twenty minutes, or until water, has been absorbed.
2. Cook the bacon. With a slotted spoon, remove the cubes to drain on paper towels. Reserve the drippings.
3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
4. Cook the onion and mushrooms in the bacon drippings until onion is wilted. Add the reserved bacon cubes, wild rice and carrots. Stir to blend.
5. beat the cream and egg together and stir into the wild rice mixture. Cover and bake in a buttered one-and-one-half quart casserole for one-half hour. Stir with a fork and bake fifteen minutes longer.
6. Remove the cover and stir once more. Bake fifteen minutes longer.
Makes 6 servings.

Wild Duck Country Captain

For Christmas Eve dinner itself, I was forced by ingredients to branch out of New England. Last Sunday, we all went out to Mount Airy, Maryland to cut down our Christmas tree. We take this pilgrimage most years. One year, we were on our way up Connecticut Avenue to get the tree when we were rear ended by a woman who wasn't paying attention. That year, we got our tree at John Eaton School. Last year, we didn't get a tree at all because we were going to London. But most years, we drive up 270, get off at the exit for Damascus, and argue about whether we turn right or left at the pond.
After we got back from cutting down the tree, and having lunch at the Italian deli in Mount Airy and shopping at Retro Metro, the quirky gift shop, we had a modest tree trimming party. Jake, a friend of my son's, drove up and conferred with son on the phone.
"Mom, does the cookbook have any recipes for wild duck?" Son inquired.
"Yes. Why do you ask?'
"Because Jake went duck hunting and he has some extra ducks. Do you want them?"
"Have they been plucked?" I asked, suspiciously.
They had in fact been plucked, and gutted, for which I was grateful. My father, the farmer, was a hunter. He had springer spaniels and went after duck and pheasant. I remember my mother yanking the feathers out of his catch, and removing various innards. I'm not so citified I couldn't do it, but I didn't think I was going to enjoy it.
But these ducks came frozen in plastic bags, with those neat little paper diapers that come under packaged meat and soak up the blood. I learned two more important things about cooking wild duck a couple of days later in a text message from my son. A. They must attain an internal temperature of 185 degrees. B. Watch out for the buckshot. This was one of a whole series of text messages on what must have been a slow day in the federal government. The rest of us went on a holiday expedition to a vineyard in Clifton, Va. As we were coming back along I-66 about 3:00, the west bound lanes were swollen with early rush hour traffic. I joked, "There go the federal employees, after a hard day of texting their mothers."
Anyhow, the recipe was amazing. It has curry powder, which made me go, uh oh, they won't be happy with this. My family likes curry, sort of. But it turned out wonderfully. One thing about duck. It has a much different structure than chicken. The bones are bigger and tougher. It's harder to cut it up. A pair of really good shears would be a gift.

Wild Duck Country Captain (Alabama)

1/2 cup flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 two and a half pound wild duck or two smaller birds, cut into serving pieces.
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cut finely chopped green pepper
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups Italian plum tomatoes
3 teaspoons dried currants
1/4 cup toasted almonds

1. Combine the flour, salt and pepper and coat the duck pieces with the mixture.
2. Heat the b utter in the large skillet and brown the duck pieces in it. Remove duck pieces and reserve.
3. Add the onion, green pepper, garlic, curry powder and thyme to the skillet and cook, stirring, until onion is golden brown. Add the tomatoes and duck pieces. Cover and cook forty minutes or until duck is tender. Stir in the currants and almonds and serve with buttered rice tossed with chopped parsley.
With two ducks, four servings.


Brownie Drops

These are excellent cookies, and not hard to make. They are like their name, like Brownies. The instructions, also are well written, telling the cook how long to beat the eggs, so he/she will have some vague idea when things are thick enough. After about five minutes, the beaters start to leave tracks though the batter, although it's just eggs and sugar. The cookies started out an afternoon of cooking. When the kids were younger, I initiated a tradition of making some sort of baked item for the fire fighters at the local fire house who had to work on Christmas. It was a minor way of urging them to think of others.
We had let the tradition lapse, but at my husband's urging, I reinstated it. I planned to knock off five recipes, but stopped at four. We were having our usual Christmas Eve dinner with both children-adults but not son the lawyer's fiance, since she was at her mom's house. My brother was there from Anchorage as well.

Brownie Drops

2 four square packages German sweet chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees .
2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in top of a double boiler over hot watter, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
3. Beat the eggs until foamy. Add the sugar, two tablespoons at a time, beating constantly until the mixture is very thick. (This takes at least five minutes with an electric mixture at high speed. It is egg, not flour that thickens this mixture.)
4. Blend cooled chocolate mixture into egg mixture. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, pecan and vanilla.
5. Drop from a teaspoon onto greased baking sheets. Bake ten to twelve minutes or until the cookies feel set when lightly touched. Cool on a rack. Store in a tightly covered container.
Makes about three dozen cookies.

Slemp

Slemp is described on the Internet as a Dutch children's beverage. It's made up of hot milk, saffron, cloves, cinnamon, mace, sugar and a little bit of loose tea. It has a subtle flavor. It was variously described by the assembled multitudes as "not my thing," "okay--like chai," and "an acquired taste." It wasn't horrible, but I probably won't make it again. Even though the recipe says to simmer the milk for an hour, and I did, the milk doesn't have much taste.
I made it on Christmas Eve, when I was making the cookies for the fire fighters.

Slemp

1 one inch piece cinnamon stick
pinch saffron
2 whole cloves
small piece blade mace or one-half teaspoon ground mace
4 cups milk
peel of half a lemon in strip
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspooon loose tea
2 tablespoons sugar

1. Tie the cinnamon stick, saffron, cloves and mace in a muslin bag. Bring the milk to a boil in a saucepan. Add the lemon peel, salt, tea and the spice bag. Simmer one hour.
2. Remove the spice bag and add the sugar.
Makes four servings.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pate Maison

This recipe was a real triumph for Safeway, the temple of culinary experimentation. The first ingredient is gizzards and hearts from six to eight chickens, ducks or geese. Well, where to buy these? My daughter suggested I special order them. We happened to be in Middleburg, Va., heart of the chichi horse country, and home of a incredibly high end butcher emporium. Ah, ha, thought I, the perfect place for an ingredient that only people making pates would want. Wrong. Although they had all manner of sumptuous looking meats, they would have to order chicken hearts and gizzards "from their farm." The Middleburg Safeway didn't have them either. By this time, all this talk of gizzards had us punchy, and talking about "chicken lizards," My daughter then broke into a chorus of a children's song that goes "Chicken lips and lizard hips and alligator eyes..."
Then, last night, on my way home from the airport, I stopped at my local Safeway, having basically given up hope of making the Heritage Cookbook recipe and happening to glance into the poultry case I saw...chicken gizzards!!! They were presented in a neat package from Perdue, and labeled Chicken Gizzards and Hearts, (mostly gizzards.) It was not clear to me if the gizzards were packaged whole, so eight hearts and gizzards seemed to be about half a package. When it came to the livers, I counted out eight, then dumped the whole container into the frying pan and fed two to the dog.
This is one of those recipes that should not be undertaken without a food processor.
When we got home, although I had my husband and my brother, newly arrived from Alaska, waiting for dinner, I leapt into action, simmering gizzards and chopping onions. The result is a mildly flavored chicken liver mousse type thing,. I ended up adding salt and pepper a couple of times to give it more flavor.

Pate Maison

Gizzards and hearts from six to eight chickens, ducks or geese
Water or chicken broth
2 onions finely chopped
1/3 cup butter
6 to eight chicken, duck or goose livers
2 tablespoons cognac
2 hard cooked eggs finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
Toast triangles

1. Cover the gizzards and hearts with water or broth. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until tender, about twenty-five minutes. Drain. Chop finely or grind.
2. Saute the onions in one-third cup butter in a heavy skillet until golden and add to the ground giblets. Fry the livers quickly in the skillet, adding more butter if necessary.
3. Chop finely and add to the giblet mixture.
4. Add the cognac, eggs, salt, pepper, thyme, and marjoram. Mix well. Pile into a crock and chill well. Serve with toast triangles.
Makes ten servings.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Yankee Pine Nut Pie

Thursday my son invited some friends over to celebrate being admitted to the Maryland Bar. I must say, if one has to choose among all the 50, or 51 if you count DC, bars in the country, Maryland seems pretty good, just for the show they put on for the new lawyers and their parents. It has history. I like history. The Maryland Bar dates back to something like 1667. It figures that no sooner did the colonists get to these shores than they immediately began suing each other. The entire Court of Appeals, all 7 of them in their cranberry colored robes, sat patiently through the whole thing, which is saying a lot, since they swore in 15 groups of 90 over two days. My son also liked the fact that they gave out what he called swag, which included a copy of the Maryland Legal Yellow Pages. Hmm.
We bought the food from Mangiano's since it was a school night, but my daughter and I elected to make the deserts. Actually, she made both the deserts, when one of us was summarily ordered out the door to shovel the inch and a half of snow off the walk.
The other desert, which was a much bigger hit than Yankee Pine Nut Pie, was called Candyland Peppermint Pie, and it came from a website called http:hungrygirl.com .
Hungrygirl has a cookbook that features lower fat recipes for lethal deserts, main courses and snacks.
Yankee Pine Nut Pie, which I had intended to make if it hadn't been for an impromptu date with a snow shovel, is really easy. Think pecan pie, only substitute pine nuts. I posted the recipe on Chow.com to see why pine nuts, and how did Yankees come to get them, so there may be more info in this regard. I suspect myself it was the Italian influence in Massachusetts. However, we shall see.

Yankee Pine Nut Pie
1/2 cup sugar
salt to taste
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup dark corn syrup
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup pine nuts
1 unbaked nine-inch pie shell

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
2. Sift the sugar, salt and flour into a mixing bowl. Stir in the syrup and eggs. Add the vanilla, butter and pine nuts.
3. Pour the mixture into the pie shell and bake one hour. Let cool.
Makes 8 servings.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Caramel Popcorn

Caramel popcorn is a terrific, inexpensive gift for people to whom you want to give a little something to recognize the season and their intrinsic goodness. It's cheap, not a lot of work, and it tastes delicious. Basically, it amounts to 1. Pop corn. 2. Boil sugar and light corn syrup. 3. Pour over popcorn. 4. Bake for an hour.
However, one needs to be careful with step four, noting that you bake it at 250 degrees, not 350. I first tried to make this Wednesday night but, without my glasses, I set the oven for 350 degrees Fahrenheit. My husband came charging downstairs about 45 minutes later to tell me that the whole mess was burning. And indeed it was.
So I scraped off and ate what little was not burnt and tried again on Thursday evening as my daughter and I were getting ready for a dinner party held in celebration of son the lawyer being admitted to the Maryland Bar. This time, it was a success. My husband quickly hid it on his desk chair to get it away from the celebrating hordes. (The celebrating hordes, average age 28, and primarily lawyers are actually much better behaved than they were at 15, and should be given credit. They probably wouldn't have eaten it.)
The next day, I passed it out to my colleagues. One colleague opened it and tried it and was very impressed. The others thanked me and took it home.

Caramel Popcorn

3 tablespoons corn oil
1/2 cup yellow hull-less popcorn
1/2 butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
2. Pour the oil into a four-quart to fie-quart heavy deep skillet or kettle. Place over medium high heat and add a kernel of popcorn. When the kernel pops, remove it and add the one-half cup popcorn. Place cover on kettle, leaving a small air space at the edge of the cover. Shake pot frequently until popping stops. Remove from heat.
3. Measure two and one-half quarts of the popcorn (the remainder can be eaten plain.) and place in a large bowl. Place in oven and keep warm.
4. Melt the butter in a two-quart saucepan. Stir in the sugar, syrup and salt. Bring mixture to a boil and boil five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. Pour over the warm popcorn, mixing in well to coat each piece.
5. Separate pieces of popcorn and place one layer only on two large baking sheets. Bake one hour. Cool popcorn completely (it crisps on standing. ) Store in airtight containers. Makes two and one half quarts.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wassail Bowl

So far, we're batting 1.000 on the beverages in the New England section. Fisherman's Swizzle was a huge success, and now my son the lawyer's friends have put their stamp of approval on Wassail Bowl, aptly named for the season. This is mulled cider with rum in it, basically. It's good. Just the thing to drink when the weather is hovering around 20 degrees Fahrenheit, which it has been for the last week.

He and his fiancee had a party on Sunday. We were recruited to make deviled eggs, and I offered to make the cider. Even though they live on the same block we live on, we, or rather I, elected to drive, because I didn't want to go striding down the street in the pouring rain, carrying a tray of deviled eggs, or a crockpot containing the Wassail Bowl.

It's really easy to make, except for the blade of mace, which does not seem to exist in that temple of culinary experimentation, Safeway. But I did discover, on a website called WiseGeek, that mace is the outside covering of nutmeg. It comes in red bands around the nutmeg. WiseGeek says it should be added at the end because cooking tends to make it bitter.
However,I just left it out. When I make Wassail Bowl again, I'm going to cut the amount of sugar in half.



Wassail Bowl


1 gallon cider
1/2 pound (one cup) dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon whole allspice
1 tablespoon whole cloves
2 sticks cinnamon
2 blades mace
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups dark rum
2 lemons, cut into thin slices and halved
3 oranges, cut into thin slices and halved

1. Place the cider and brown sugar in a large kettle. Tie the allspice, cloves, cinnamon and mace in a muslin bag and add with salt. Bring to a boil and simmer fifteen minutes.
2.Remove spice bag and add the rum, lemons, and oranges just before serving. Serve hot.
Makes about three dozen servings.





Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cream of Chicken Soup

I had intended to make this recipe back in the late summer or early fall. Considering I fell off the horse and was lame for a month, I did pretty well in the cooking department. But I didn't get to this.
To be honest, this is not a dish that one should undertake after getting home from work, especially if you do not wish to eat at 10:00 pm. It's time consuming. I left school around 4:15 after another staff member got around to moving her car. Then I did a couple of quick errands, including dropping my winter coat off at the cleaners. I did a quick estimate and figured it probably hadn't been to the cleaners for at least a year and probably two.
After that, I dragged the long suffering dog out into the freezing cold, walked him around the block, and then prepared to make the soup. Even though I got out of work relatively early, I was still starting dinner at 6:00.
First, I boiled the chicken. The recipe called for two ribs of celery and some parsley, which we did not have. I turned the soup down, not off, and took off for Safeway, worrying as I did that I would get into some kind of accident, and the house would burn down and take the dog with it. Well, this dire event did not occur, but later in the evening, my husband pointed out that we actually had celery. So now, we have two heads of celery.
Once the broth is ready, the recipe says to cook sliced baked potatoes and onions in butter for two or three minutes, and then boil them in the broth. Then, buzz the whole thing in the blender, taking care not to overfill it, thus creating a fountain of hot soup that decorates the kitchen wall.
The result is a fabulous soup. It was so yummy.
If you want to make it on a work night, the smart thing would be to boil the chicken ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator. This would enable you to skim off the fat from the broth.

Cream of Chicken Soup

1 three-and-one-half pound chicken, cut into serving pieces
6 cups water
2 ribs celery, with leaves, sliced
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs parsley
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup butter. (Darn, I thought it was one half cup. No wonder the soup was so yummy.)
2 onions, thinly sliced
4 baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced or diced
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1 cup light cream
1/4 cup chopped parsley

1. Place the chicken pieces in a heavy casserole or kettle. Add the water, celery, bay leaf, parsley springs, one teaspoon of the salt and one-quarter teaspoon of the pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer gently until chicken is tender, about fifty minutes. Remove chicken pieces from the broth. Strain the broth into a kettle and remove surface fat.
2. Take the chicken meat from the bones and skin and cut meat into large slivers. Set aside.
3. Heat the butter in a skillet and saute the onions in it until transparent but not browned. Add the potatoes, toss and cook two to three minutes without browning.
4. Add vegetables to the broth in the kettle. Add the saffron and remaining salt and pepper. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer forty-five minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender.
5. Pass the mixture through a sieve or puree in an electric blender. Return to the kettle. stir int he cream and reserved chicken. Reheat but do not boil. Serve garnished with chopped parsley.
Serves eight.

What gives this soup its thickness is boiled sliced potatoes, run through a blender. And boiling the potatoes in the chicken broth takes time.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Apple Bread

I had been meaning to make apple bread for over a year. In fact, I bought the jar of apple sauce last fall, planning to make it. However, it didn't happen until Thursday night when I was seized by a spurt of energy, and the memory of how much I had enjoyed cooking and blogging. On Wednesday night, I spent 45 minutes I didn't have reading old posts and thought, "Gee, I should get back to this."
So, the following night, in spite of not getting home until after 7:00, I plunged into the apple bread. Warning. This is a yeast bread. Yeast breads require time. My long suffering husband climbed out of bed at 12:30 to turn off the timer on the stove that was going "Beep, beep,beep," with maddening regularity. I would have just let it beep, because I can't hear it, but it drives him nuts.
Another warning. This recipe that contains the phrase "Continue adding flour until a soft manageable dough is formed." If you are not a bread maker, you probably have no idea what the hell Hewitt is talking about. Well, here's the scoop. When you get through step 2 and mix all the ingredients and half the flour, you will be left with a sticky mass that is more liquid than solid. Start adding flour, a half cup at a time, and push it in with your fingers. Reach down the side of the bowl and pull the dough away from the sides of the bowl. Turn it over in the bowl and squeeze it to get the flour worked in.
When the dough becomes more solid and less sticky, spread a quarter of a cup of flour over your clean kitchen counter, and dump the dough out onto it. It will still be sticky, but not as sticky. It will not be oozing all over the counter. Then, continue spreading a quarter cup of flour over the dough and kneading it. The dough should stay soft, so don't put too much flour in. That's why you measure.
The Internet, wonderful institution that it is, can give you a better idea of kneading bread with a video on your computer screen, than I can by describing it. Just Google kneading bread videos.
If you decide to undertake this, it is not difficult. It produces a mildly flavored bread that you might eat with tea or coffee. I just made the recipe straight without tinkering around, but you could profitably put cinnamon in the dough, or nutmeg or any old spice that would bring out the apple-ness.



Apple Bread



1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 cups lukewarm apple sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
6 cups to six and one half cups flour
melted butter



1. Soften the yeast in the water.
2. Combine the applesauce, two tablespoons butter, salt and sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add the softened yeast and half the flour. Mix well.
3. Continue adding flour until a soft, manageable dough is formed.
4. Knead on a lightly floured board until smooth.
5. Place in a clean greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about one hour.
6. Knock dough down (kinda punch it. This also will be covered in a video.) and divide into two. Let rest, covered, ten minutes. Shape into two oblong loaves (I used greased bread pans.) and place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about forty-five minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
8. Bake thirty to thirty-five minutes, or until done. Brush with melted butter.
Makes two loaves.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Baked Zucchini and Eggplant

This dish saw the light of day a good three weeks ago, on November 6 at a potluck dinner given by my husband's church group. He was out of town, and I ended up not going, but I never let an opportunity to serve eggplant pass me by. I actually can't tell you either how it tasted, or if the people who did eat it enjoyed it. The pan came back a couple of weeks later, and I asked my husband how the potluckers had liked it. He said the host didn't say.

It might be kind of greasy. The recipe says to fry the zucchini and eggplant in a half a cup of peanut oil. Eggplant absorbs oil like a sponge, so you might be looking at a distinctly oily product. However, since I didn't try it myself, I don't know. It was relatively easy to produce, although after I dropped it off and admired the house, I neglected to tell the hosts that it had to be heated up. I arrived back home to find my daughter talking to one of them on the phone. She reported that they took off the aluminum foil and decided that it hadn't been cooked. (It had been cooked, it just needed to be warmed up.)



Baked Zucchini and Eggplant

6 medium size zucchini , thinly sliced
1 medium size eggplant, thinly sliced
1/2 cup peanut oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 shallots, finely chopped.
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
6 tomatoes cored, peeled, and stewed until thickened
3 tablespoons freshy graded Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook the zucchini and eggpant in half the oil until wilted and browned.
3. Cook the shallots in the remaining oil and add the drained zucchini and eggplant.
4 Add the thyme and bayleaf. Turn into a baking dish and bake twenty minutes. Remove from the oven.
Add the thyme and bay leaf . Turn into a baking dish and bake twenty minutes. Remove drom the oven. Increase the oven heat to 400 degrees.
5 Put into another baking dish half the tomatoes, then the zucchini and eggplant mixture. Add the remaining tomatoes and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake ten minutes or until cheese browns. Four to six servings.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fresh Tomato Risotto

The last dish in the cooking marathon of the dinner party was Fresh Tomato Risotto. Obviously the time to make this is when tomatoes are fresh. In the last weekend of October, tomatoes are not fresh, so I used canned. It worked out fine. Also, you don't have to peel the tomatoes.
It's actually more like Spanish Rice than risotto. One does not have to stand over it, adding liquid and stirring until the cows come home. You just mix everything together, stick it in the oven and bake it. Muy facil.
(That's Spanish for very easy, chicos and chicas.)

Fresh Tomato Risotto

1 cup peeled, chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup uncooked rice
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups concentrated chicken broth

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine the tomatoes, rice, onions, garlic, oregano and salt in a one and one half quart casserole.
3. Heat the broth to boiling and pour over tomato mixture. Cover and bake, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes, or until rice is cooked.
Makes four servings.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Salade de Champignons

A great many of the New England-Middle States vegetable recipes as yet uncooked are, as I have mentioned before, sort of regional misfits, like clam salad. I can imagine serving, and even eating, clam salad, as part of a summer potluck (where nobody has to be polite and eat it if the very idea appalls) but not at a dinner party where the food ought to in some way go together.
So Salade de Champignons, or mushroom salad for us Anglophones, was one of the few obvious choices. This is easy, and very good. I recommend making it the day before, which gives the dressing a chance to penetrate the mushrooms.
People seemed to like it.
The party was fun. We invited two sets of old friends from our kids' days in elementary school. One of the husbands couldn't come, but his wife did and kept up an entertaining flow of conversation. Unfortunately, either I was distracted by the serving, or I just can't remember stuff very well, but the actual facts eluded me. Her daughter had been a friend of our daughter, so when I related to our daughter that Marcella, her friend, was now living in London, our daughter wanted to know where.
I was able to tell her that Marcella had been living in Bethnal Green, which is in East London, but found it too expensive and moved to some neighborhood without a tube stop.
"Well. where'd she move to?" Daughter inquired impatiently.
"Ummm," I said.
My husband said he thought the neighborhood began with a k. I said I thought it was Stanford Something.
"Stanford Brook?" Daughter, who spent three years in London, asked incredulously. "That has a tube stop. It was right near me."
"You can't remember anything, Mom," she snarled.
Anyway, the food was good, and half way through dinner, I hissed at the husband who was able to come, and we sneaked off for a peek at the World Series, where the Rangers were actually winning Game 3.

Salade de Champignons

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

1. Place the lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper in a bowl. With a wire whisk, gradually whisk in the oil. Mixture will become the consistency of mayonnaise.
2. Add the mushrooms, toss and chill.
Makes 3 servings.

Baked Striped Bass

On Saturday, after making the pie, and eating pancakes with the Boy Scouts from Troop 100, I went to the fish store to buy the striped bass. I do not have a lot of experience with cooking fish, so I was startled by the amount of blood and gore involved when one buys a whole fish. Thank God I said yes when the fish man asked me if he should clean it. It looked like Slaughter on Elm Street by the time he was finished.
The recipe called for not only a whole striped bass, but also a pound of shrimp, so there was Slaughter on Elm Street to my bank balance as well. They obligingly bagged up the carcass and the shrimp in ice and handed it to me. I didn't actually get to it until around 6:30 when I took out the shrimp and realized that it had to be peeled.
At that point, Son and his fiance came in, on their way to a Halloween party. I felt like saying, "Hey, pull up a chair and peel some shrimp." I desisted when I saw her in black with a 40s veil and long purple gloves and him in a Justin Beiber wig that made him look like he had a raccoon sitting on his head.
I was still cooking when our friends walked in the door.
This is a good recipe. Some observations. Get the fish boned too. I didn't. A larger fish does not require more stuffing, so don't get a pound and a half of shrimp for a six pound bass. If you can, get the shrimp peeled, or do it when you get home so you don't have to do it at 6:30. Also, make sure the fish is fully cooked.

Baked Striped Bass

1 four-pound striped bass
1/4 cup diced salt pork or butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 pound shrimp, shelled, deveined and roughly chopped
1/2 cup fine soft bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Clean the fish, but leave the head on. (The fish store didn't. If you dislike your dinner looking at you, take it off.)
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
3. Cook the salt pork, if used, in a skillet until the bits are crisp. Remove salt pork bits and reserve. Add the shallots to the drippings and cook until tender but not browned.
4. Add the mushrooms and shrimp and cook quickly until shrimp turn pink and mushrooms wilt, about five minutes. Add the breadcrumbs, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper and reserved pork bits. Stuff the fish with the mixture and secure with skewers or sew to close. (I didn't sew or skewer, and there was a lot of stuffing left over. I just left it in the pan.)
5. Place the fish in a greased baking dish. Brush with the melted butter, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle the lemon juice over all.
6. Bake about thirty-five minutes, or until fish flakes easily.
Makes four servings.

Squash-Apple Pie





This is a picture of two halves of an acorn squash, being steamed in my patented handy-dandy steaming method. I put a metal colander upside down in my stew pot, add two inches of water, and put the squash on top. Cover, turn on the gas, and let things boil for 10 to 15 minutes until you can stick a fork through the squash. Once you have your cooked squash, you are ready to proceed to the pie. I made this pie at the beginning of a marathon day of cooking for a dinner party. I polished off four recipes and was still cooking at 7:15 when the guests came.



Since I bought the pie crust, and steamed the squash the night before, the pie was the easiest part. It went into the oven in less than 15 minutes and I moved on to cleaning the kitchen floor. The recipe does not specify what kind of squash you can use. Pumpkin would work as well as acorn squash, and probably you could use Hubbard squash as well. What you get has the signature taste of pumpkin pie, although it has different ingredients.


Squash-Apple Pie
1 cup cooked, mashed and sieved squash
1 cup thick, tart applesauce (I used unsweetened applesauce.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 unbaked ten-inch pie shell with stand-up edge

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Place the squash (which, by the way, you can just mash with a fork. Don't worry about sieving it.) and applesauce in a bowl. Stir in the salt, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, mace and cloves.

3. Combine the eggs and cream and add to the squash mixture. Pour into the pie shell. Bake twenty minutes. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees and bake twenty to twenty five minutes longer. (a knife inserted into filling should come out clean. Cool and chill

Makes eight servings.

Tomato Sauce


Here is a picture of the completed ravioli with the tomato sauce over it. I was actually too frazzled by the time I got around to making the tomato sauce to remember to take a picture of the process. It is not easy to cook and photograph at the same time, since one has to stop and wipe one's hands, (and one's brow) each time the camera is used.
There is nothing special about making the tomato sauce. If you want to undertake this whole project, I would suggest making the tomato sauce ahead of time. We did not.
Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (If you like more, and who doesn't, go for it.)
1 two-pound-thirteen ounce can Italian plum tomatoes
1 six ounce can tomato paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Sautee the onion and garlic in the oil until tender but not browned.
2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and basil. Bring to a boil and simmer for twenty minutes.
3. Add the thyme and oregano and let simmer five minutes longer.
Makes about one quart, or plenty for all the ravioli you can churn out.

Pasta

The pasta went relatively easily because my husband took over. We hadn't made our own pasta for years, but when we had, back before we had kids, he did it. And he did it again, Tuesday night. This recipe uses the "make a well in the flour and break the eggs into the well" method.
Well, what we both have to say about the well method is, forget it. Olvidate, as they say in Spanish.
Use a food processor, and very little water. Put in a tablespoon at a time, and as soon as you can get it to hold together, stop. My husband says, think pie crust dough. And, if you are making the full recipe, make it in two batches. Luckily, I did that, because I ruined the first batch with too much water.
Here follows not Hewlett's recipe, but ours, adapted for a food processor. This is a picture of my husband rolling the dough through the pasta machine.

Pasta

6 cups flour

1 tablespoon salt

6 eggs

1. Place half the flour, salt and eggs into a food processor. Buzz the mixture until everything is mixed together. At this stage, it's kind of like oatmeal. Then add water a tablespoon at a time. As soon as the dough holds together, stop. If the dough is sticky, it will gum up the pasta machine, and you will have to throw the dough away.

2. Repeat for the second half of the ingrediants, if you need that much.

3. Pass one-sixth of the dough through the pasta machine at its widest setting several times, folding the dough in thirds as it lengthens for successive rollings. This is kind of like kneading the dough. Set the machine at number two or three for the final rolling to make the ravioli dough.

Makes enough for six dozen ravioli.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ravioli a la Romana








Tonight I made ravioli, something I have never done before, and I polished off three recipes out of the book. This is a picture of my husband crimping the edges of the filled raviolis with a fork so the filling stays inside.
Ravioli is a challenging dish. It is not technical and fussy like Julia Childs' throw away and start over French sauces, but it does have many steps. Two pairs of hands and a lot of time are recommended if you want to take this on. I did it after school one evening, and was so wiped out by the time we had ravioli and sauce that I couldn't even get it together to make salad. Also strongly recommended is a food processor. In fact, I would say, don't try this unless you have a food processor and probably a pasta machine too.
Since there are so many steps, I'm going to try to include more pictures. Two weeks ago, my daughter and I went to Pennsylvania to visit a friend of hers. We came back with a basket of apples, and the next night made apple caramel jam from a blog she reads called The Simple Dollar. (http://www.thesimpledollar.com/) This is mainly a personal finance blog, but the author is interested in cooking. The recipe was a revelation. He had pictures for every step of the jam making process, which, if you have followed my explanations of making jam, can be tortured.
Ravioli is a "Day before," kind of recipe. In fact, one wonders if Hewlett actually edited this recipe. However, the recipe does not clearly state that one does need to start the process the day before. It just presents a beef pot roast braised in red wine as something everyone has in their refrigerator.
However, last weekend, when I was making Down East Haddock Chowder, I braised the pot roast, having read through the recipe ahead of time !!!
Wikipedia, my all purpose source for random information, says that braising is a combination of using dry heat and moist heat to cook things, usually meat. Since we weren't going to eat the meat as a pot roast, I skipped the step one and went straight to step two, and simmered the meat in an airline sized bottle of red wine in a crockpot. I didn't want to open a bottle of drinking wine unless I had to, but the airline size was fine.
The next step is to grind up the meat. The instructions say to use the finest blade of a meat grinder. Now, a meat grinder used to be a staple of the 40s, 50s and 60s kitchen. I had one when I set up housekeeping in 1970. It was made out of cast iron or cast aluminum, had a funnel shaped top, and sort of a screw thing that forced the meat against the blades when you turned the handle. It lived in its box in the depths of the kitchen cabinets, and you took it out when you needed to grind meat. I remember we had it in our old house on 12th Street.
Somewhere in the depths of time between 12th Street and now, it got replaced by that marvel of kitchen technology, the food processor. So don't worry about the meat grinder.
It appears that one cannot add multiple pictures to one post. And since I don't want to confuse the issue further by creating multiple posts for one recipe, you won't see more pictures until I learn how to do it. Sigh.
Having braised your pot roast and ground it up in the food processor, you are in a position to move to the actual recipe.
What I found was, this recipe makes an insane amount of ravioli. We had enough for five hungry people, with three servings of ravioli and a ton of ground meat left over. I would cut the amount of meat in half, and possibly the pasta too.
Ravioli a la Romana
1 large Bermuda onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds fresh spinach, chopped or two packages frozen chopped spinach
1/2 cup pine nuts (optional)
1/2 pound ricotta cheese
1 egg
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 three pound beef pot roast, braised with onion and red wine, put through the finest blade of a meat grinder (See beginning of blog.)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 recipe pasta
4 cups home made tomato sauce
1. Saute the onion in the oil until tender and golden. Add the spinach and cook until spinach is cooked and mixture is dry. Pass through the finest blade of the meat grinder (food processor) with the pine nuts.
2. Mix together the ricotta, egg and one-quarter cup Parmesan. In a large bowl, combine the meat, spinach mixture and cheese mixture and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Form into two inch balls.
3. Line a ravioli tin with pasta dough. (You don't need a ravioli tin. You can lay your dough out on a piece of wax paper and cut it with a knife.)
4. Cut the dough into rectangles 4 inches long and two inches square. Put a tablespoon of the filling near one end. Then fold the dough over the filling and crimp the edges with a fork, as is shown in the picture.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
6. Cook the ravioli in small batches, in large kettle of boiling salted water, about ten minutes. Drain. (As far as I'm concerned, you can skip the next step of baking it. Just pour on the sauce and take it to the table.If you do that, skip steps 5 and 6)
6. Arrange the ravioli in a shallow casserole. Spoon the sauce over. If desired, sprinkle with three-quarters of a cup of Parmesan cheese. Bake about 15 minutes.
Yield, six dozen ravioli, nine to ten servings.













Sunday, October 24, 2010

Down-East Haddock Chowder

Down-East Haddock Chowder is like Rhode Island Fish Chowder. It calls for pilot crackers. Now, I learned something from the Rhode Island Fish Chowder experience. I learned that these things are not a garnish, they are an integral part of the recipe, whatever they are. Now R.I.F.C. gives the bewildered, and non down east cook (What's the opposite of Down East? Up West?) options. It mentions cream crackers. I know what cream crackers are. And because of this useful piece of knowledge, I was able to substitute oyster crackers for the mysterious pilot cracker.
This time, no substitutes were offered but I figured oyster crackers would do okay, and remembered to buy them when I went to the market on Saturday afternoon. Another obstacle presented itself at the fish market, where I went first. They had no haddock.
"We don't have it," said the Saturday guy behind the counter.
"Well, do you ever get it?" I inquired, having learned from the smoked haddock experience that what the Saturday guy behind the counter says isn't necessarily the final word on the issue.
"Only sometimes."
Then I decided what the hell, cod could substitute for haddock, so I bought cod. The store did not have anything remotely resembling oyster crackers, or the mysterious pilot cracker. What it does have is a whole aisle of Thai condiments, but, why not, since the owners seem to be from Thailand, or somewhere else in Southeast Asia. I got the oyster crackers at Safeway along with everything else.
I decided to start the chowder after I got home from the grocery store, even though we were going to a play (The Pirates of Penzance, by Gilbert and Sullivan) that night. I got it done and even had time to walk the dog, also named Haddock, so we could eat before we left. Now, the recipe calls for 3 cups of milk and three large pilot crackers crumbled. Since I had no idea what that was, or how much, I went with two cups of milk and two cups of oyster crackers. The crackers absorb liquid and make a sort of glutinous, but tasty, mass in the chowder.
Today, as I sat down at the computer, I consulted Wikipedia on the subject of pilot crackers and found out some interesting stuff. Crown Pilot Crackers were the oldest crackers produced by Nabisco, originally dating to 1792. They were used in "historical recipes" for stuffing and chowder. Nabisco discontinued the production of pilot crackers in 1996, sparking massive protests in New England, and eventually an episode on CBS Sunday Morning News. This prompted Nabisco to gear up for more cracker production. Unfortunately, the interest in pilot crackers dwindled over time, and Nabisco dropped them again in 2008.
They continue to be produced other places, such as Hawaii, and seem to be popular with backpackers and survivalists. Mountain House, a place that makes backpacker meals, sells them by mail. Again, according to Wikipedia, the Australian military refers to them as ANZAC wafers. So, now we know what pilot crackers are, and why you can't buy them in stores.

Down-East Haddock (or cod) Chowder

1/3 cup diced salt pork
1 onion, finely chopped
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 pounds haddock fillets, cut into strips or cubes
1 quart water
1 rib celery with leaves, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon mace
3 cups milk
3 large pilot crackers, crumbled (See blog text for info on the pilot cracker.)

1. Cook the salt pork in a kettle until crisp. Remove the pieces and reserve.
2. In the fat remaining in the kettle, saute the onion until tender but not browned. Add the potatoes, fish, water, celery, salt, pepper and mace. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer gently until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Stir in the milk, crackers and reserved pork pieces and heat to boiling.
Makes about six servings.

Grandma's Squash Bake

Tuesday night I decided to break out of the tyranny of New England recipes and make Grandmother's Squash Bake from Idaho. The remaining recipes in the vegetable section of the Northeast section are somewhat....weird. Weird, or unable to be cooked at this time of year, like sauteed dandelion flowers. Or not something you just eat for dinner, like creamed horseradish. So, I got an acorn squash and made half the recipe. One of the squash options is Hubbard squash. Hubbard squash was a remanant of my childhood. One of the high points of the year was the Great Barrington Fair in September, right after school started. It had horse racing, which tied up the traffic on Route 7 on both sides of the town, and carnival rides and games and agricultural exhibits. Of course, the carnival rides were the main attraction, but I also liked the argricultural exhibits, the cows, with their ribbons and portable milking machines, the sheep, with their wool clipped close so you could run your fingers through it, the odd looking chickens and the canned and baked goods.
Then, there were the vegetables. One of the exhibit buildings had a series of large display cases where groups like the Grange laid out diaramas of vegetables, huge sunbursts of corn and squash and tomatoes. I remember the pale green, bumpy Hubbard squashes and wondered what they tasted like. I still don't know. But Grandmother's Squash Bake is a good recipe made with acorn squash. A note. It says to press the squash flesh through a colander. I just kind of minced it with a fork and it turned out fine.

Grandmother's Squash Bake

1/2 cup butter
1 large Hubbard Squash, butternut squash or two large acorn squash
1/2 cup heavy cream, scalded
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Melt three tablespoons of the butter. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Cut squash in pieces if very large. Place in a roasting pan. Brush cut surfaces with the melted butter. Bake forty minutes, or until tender.
3. Scoop out the squash flesh and press through a colander. Beat pulp with the remaining ingredients and turn into a greased baking dish or casserole. Bake 20 minutes or until top is browned.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Escarole Soup

Escarole, I remember from my childhood, as being some sort of lettuce. So, no doubt, when I saw this recipe, I thought, What ho? Lettuce soup? No thanks. Think of it as more of a green, like turnip greens or spinach, or any other green leafy item one might put in soup. This recipe has two parts. First, you make the soup stock. This takes five pounds of marrow bones and a couple of hours of boiling.
I got the marrow bones at Whole Foods. I don't like going there because I always spend way more money there than I intend. I go in for three items and end up spending $75. because I decide I simply must have some of their $10 a pound St. Andre cheese. Five pounds of marrow bones ran approximately $18. They sat in the refrigerator for five days until I decided I had better do something with them before I had $18 worth of spoiled marrow bones.
The broth is pretty easy to make. You throw the bones and a can of tomato paste into your largest pot along with 8 cups of water and boil. The recipe makes no mention of this but a health conscious person will skim the not inconsiderable amount of fat off the broth before he/she makes the soup. Marrow is, after all, fat. Skimming the fat involves taking the bones out of the pot and putting the pot in the refrigerator over night. I left the cooling bones in a bowl on the counter, where my son the lawyer inspected them the next day and inquired, "Is there a reason for this?"
I made the soup in two shifts because I planned to finish it the next night, but when the next night rolled around I sank wearily into a chair and plumped for take out. My husband actually made the soup the next night after I got as far as chopping up the escarole and staggered into a chair, moaning with pain. It's very tasty, a good cold weather soup.

Escarole Soup

5 pounds soup bones with marrow
1 six ounce can tomato paste
8 cups water
3 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 pound ground chuck
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 egg lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound chopped escarole
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced potatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Place the soup bones, tomato paste, water and two and one half teaspoons of the salt in a four quart saucepan. Cover and simmer one hour.
2. Combine the chuck, garlic, egg, pepper, cheese and remaining salt. Shape into three-quarter inch balls. Add to hot soup and simmer ten minutes longer. Add the vegetables and simmer thirty minutes longer or until vegetables are tender. Remove bones and serve soup hot with chopped parsley sprinkled over the top.
Makes eight servings.

Sour Cream Pie

This pie actually is, in the words of the cliche, as easy as pie. It has a graham cracker crust, which the recipe says make from scratch, and I say, hell, no, buy it at the store. Aside from the crust, it has four ingredients. Mix it, pour it, bake for five minutes, and chill it. Dessert done. This was the last dish we had at the dinner party back on October 2.
The energy level around here is at new lows. I alternate between walking without the cane, and hobbling on it like a grandma. One minute, I feel fine, and the next, I'm clinging to the walls in horrible pain. No one seems to have any idea what's going on here. I probably need to go to the pool more. I haven't been for two weeks, since last weekend we went to Boston to see my New York cousin's sister, and hang out. The last time I saw my doctor, he said I should go to the gym six to seven times a week. I nodded wearily, refraining from pointing out that I already was getting up at 5:30 and going to bed at 11:30 without having any opportunity to go to the gym.
My husband, who was very good about taking up the slack when I first got hurt, contracted a cold with a hacking cough that makes everyone around him recoil in horror. So things like cooking, cleaning and even picking up things off the floor have fallen by the wayside.
But the dinner party worked out fine, thanks to the maid service, and this dessert is definitely a keeper.

Sour Cream Pie

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup plus one teaspoon sugar
1/4 pound cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cup blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine the cracker crumbs, butter and one-quarter cup of the sugar. Line a nine-inch pie plate with the mixture and press down firmly. Bake eight to ten minutes, or until lightly browned.
3. Mix together the cream cheese, sour cream and one-quarter cup of the remaining sugar. Pour into pie shell. Top with blueberries and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake five minutes. Cool and chill. Makes six servings.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tossed Salad with Honey Dressing

This is one of those surprisingly good recipes. I don't exactly expect some of these to be bad, but when the ingredients are what I would call peculiar, such as honey in salad dressing, I am surprised when I get a burst of flavor in my mouth. We made this for the dinner party, back on October 2, which just goes to show how backed up this blog is. Part of the blame can be laid at the feet of the baseball playoffs. I almost never watch TV. However, when the baseball playoffs start, I park myself in front of the television for at least an hour a night. I rarely have the time or patience to watch an entire game., but I often watch a couple of innings.
Because of its assortment of vegetables, this is a colorful, crunchy salad. The honey blends with the oil and vinegar and does one of those things that Tweeter feed chefs try to replicate.

Tossed Salad with Honey Dressing

Salad
1 medium-size head leaf lettuce or romaine lettuce, washed, drained and crisped
1/4 head red cabbage, finely shredded
1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, including some green part chopped
1/3 cup finely diced celery
1/3 cup finely diced carrot
1/2 clove garlic finely chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon finely grated onion
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Honey dressing
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup honey

1. To prepare salad, break the lettuce into a salad bowl. Add the cabbage, cucumber, scallions, celery, and carrot. Toss.
2. Sprinkle with the garlic, oregano, grated onion, salt and pepper.
3. To prepare honey dressing, combine the oil, vinegar and honey. Mix well. Pour over salad and toss.
Serves 8.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Crab-Stuffed Chicken

This is unbelievably good. When it was cooking, our mouths were all watering. Son the lawyer, who had a date with his fiancee and the Notre Dame-Boston College game, was sorry he couldn't stay and eat with us.
I think it must have been the sherry. When I was 22 I went to Europe for six months. I learned various things, including not to shoot one's mouth off in a letter to one's olders and betters, because one will never hear the end of it. One of the best things I learned in Madrid in a whole series of little bars around the Plaza Mayor was to drink sherry. My mother used to put sherry in soup and other things. I remember one Christmas Eve when the adults had Lobster Thermadore. We could smell the sherry in the sauce. The sherry gave a wonderful rich smell to the sauce.
The title of the recipe is somewhat misleading. I'm always complaining about the names of these recipes. Since it involves chicken quarters, the chicken is not stuffed. It's actually chicken lying in a bed of crab stuffing. Those of you who think stuffing is complicated and messy, think no more. Just make the stuffing, bake the chicken for 35 minutes, then fill the pan with stuffing and put the chicken on top.
This seems to be a recipe from the days when Nature's Bounty really was nature's bounty. Crabs filled the Chesapeake Bay. If you wanted to try a new recipe, you threw out the crab pot at the end of the dock, and hoisted it a couple of hours later, full of struggling crabs. Crab was cheap. Well, I don't know if it's a result of the BP oil spill or what, but crab is not cheap. It's mindblowing to realize that one has dropped $20 on the stuffing for dinner. Makes me feel like Daddy Warbucks.
This calls for two chickens to feed four people. The cookbook says "two and a half to three pound chickens." That was before chickens started pumping iron and taking steroids to look like Mark McGuire. The smallest chicken available was five pounds, a young chicken. So two of today's chickens are plenty to feed six people.
This has to bake for 70 minutes, so plan accordingly.

Crab Stuffed Chicken

Chicken
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
2 two-and-one-half-pound to three-pound chickens, split
1/2 pound of mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup dry sherry1/8 ta
1/4 cup catchup
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Stuffing
3 slices stale white bread cut into very small pieces (A small box of Stovetop Stuffing did nicely, since I would have had to have bought white bread and let it sit around for weeks in order for it to get stale.)
5 tablespoons heavy cream
12 ounces crab meat, picked over to remove bits of shell and cartilage
1/4 cup melted butter
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt (Don't use so much. It doesn't need it.)
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon sage

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. To prepare chicken, mix two tablespoons of the butter with the salt, pepper and paprika. Rub the chicken pieces with the mixture and place, skin side up, wings tuckedunder, in a single layer in a baking dish. Bake 35 minutes.
3. Heat remaining butter and saute the mushrooms in it. Add the sherry, catchup and parsley. Soon one tablespoon butter mixture over each chicken half and bake 10 minutes longer.
4. Meanwhile, to prepare stuffing, combine the ingredients in a bowl.
5. Turn chicken pieces over and stuff with crab stuffing. Spoon remaining butter mushroom mixture over all and bake thirty minutes lonver, or until chicken is tender.

Curried Flan Appetizer

On Saturday, we had an all cookbook dinner party. It was excellent. And, surprisingly, it contained a minimum amount of shellfish. It's almost getting to the point where all there is left to cook is shellfish, but not quite. The party was for my old friend Mindi, who used to teach at my school. I probably had lunch with her every day for four years. Then she left to work part-time, and, except for ESL meetings I never see her. So, finally, we got coordinated, her with her babysitter, and me with a dinner. Two very old friends from college, David and Marilyn, came too. We talked about time travel and trends in forensic science and Harry Potter. It was great.
Curried Flan is not what at least I would think of as flan. To me, flan is a caramel dessert. This is sort of curried egg salad pate. Spread on pumpernickel it's delicious, can be made in advance and altogether is something you should try, unless, of course, you hate egg salad.
I made this Friday evening after dinner, to appease my husband's need for organization and having things ready ahead of time. I advise putting the onion, celery, broth gelatin mixture in a metal bowl and cooling it in a bowl of ice. Otherwise, it takes forever to cool, and just jells along the edges.

Curried Flan Appetizer

1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
2 to 3 teaspoons curry powder, or to taste
5 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (I think this is two packets.)
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 cup mayonnaise
4 hardcooked eggs, chopped
1/4 cup chopped salted almonds (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
Pumpernickel or crackers

1. Saute the onion and celery in the butter until tender. Sprinkle with the curry powder and cook, stirring, one minute.
2. Soak the gelatin in one-quarter cup of the broth. Heat the remaining broth to boiling, add softened gelatin and stir into the curry mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring.
3. Cool and chill the mixture until it begins to thicken. Blend in the mayonnaise, eggs, almonds and parsley if desired. Pour mixture into a cold wet mold and chill until firm. Unmold and serve as spread with pumpernickel or crackers.
Makes one dozen servings.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cold Chicken Breasts

On Tuesday, I bethought myself of all the leftover chicken breasts from the clambake. Out of consideration for my husband, who get home around 7:30 when he's early and more like 8:00 or 8:30 the rest of the time, I decided I could start cooking again. I wrote him a note asking him to boil the chicken breasts and save the water, because I hadn't exactly read the recipe for this dish, but I suspected it had jellied chicken broth on it.
I got home from physical therapy and found son-the-lawyer who had been asking me to help him figure out how to clean his room. I recalled a co-worker who once suggested I clean off my desk with a flamethrower. In son's case, an earth mover would be more to the purpose. Therapy always leaves me wrung out and unable to walk, so I staggered upstairs, collapsed in his desk chair and spent an hour saying, "What about this? What about that?" At the end of the hour, his rug had reappeared and his desktop had nothing but the box containing a leather briefcase he received for graduation. Two enormous bags of assorted trash had been hauled out to the alley. It was nothing short of a miracle.
Revived by having two bedrooms that looked like persons lived in them, rather than the more unruly faction of the Russian Army, I went back downstairs to attack this recipe. Once I looked at it, I was relieved to learn that the chicken breasts were coated with mayonnaise mixed with gelatin, not jellied chicken broth, and that the recipe could actually be completed and eaten for that night's dinner, not the following night's.
This is a dish that could well be served at a summer dinner party. The cook is supposed to decorate the chicken with all manner of bits, artfully placed to look like flowers, etc. I sliced rounds of a leak and plunked them in a row on top of the coated chicken breast and let that be the end of it. One of these days, I'm going to have to buckle down and apply myself to food decoration. Yeah.
Starting with chilled chicken breasts, I was able to finish this in less than an hour, stick it in the refrigerator to chill some more, and eat it in about an hour and a half. You make the mayonnaise in the blender, add gelatin, and spread it on the chicken. Decorate with sliced olives, leaks, truffles, etc, and voila. It's probably the last of the hot weather dishes for this year.

Cold Chicken Breasts

3 whole chicken breasts, halved
1 carrot, diced
1 rib celery, diced
salt
10 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs parsley
1 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon thyme
freshly ground pepper
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
cayenne pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup heavy cream
ripe olives or truffles
pimentos
Green leek leaves
4 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
one red onion, sliced and separated into rings
1/3 cup French dressing
watercress

1. Day before, place the chicken breasts in a large skillet with the carrot, celery, one teaspoon salt, the peppercorns, bay leaf, parsley onion and thyme. Add water to three-quarters cover the breasts.
2. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer very gently ten to fifteen minutes, or until chicken is tender. Chill overnight, still in the broth.
3. Next day, remove skin and bones from breasts, but keep meat in whole pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Place the egg yolks, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard and salt and cayenne to taste in an electric blender with one quarter cup of olive oil. Blend at high speed, gradually adding remaining olive oil and the vegetable oil in a continuous stream.
5. Soak the gelatin in one-quarter cup water and dissolve while stirring over gentle heat. Add gelatin to mayonnaise in blender and continue blending while adding enough cream to give a spreading consistency.
6. With a spatula or spoon, coat chicken pieces with mayonnaise and decorate immediately with olives or truffles, pimentos and leek greens. Chill.
7. Combine the tomatoes and onion rings. Pour the dressing over and chill.
8. To serve, place tomato mixture on a platter and top with chicken breasts. Garnish with watercress.
Makes 6 servings.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pesto Alla Romano

Since 1983, I have been using the cookbook's other recipe for pesto, Pesto Genovese for Spaghetti. It is, in all respects, an excellent recipe for pesto, the traditional parmesan, pine nuts, basil trifecta. However, since I've embarked on this odyssey, I try new things, and this is one of them. I'm not entirely sure that this turned out the way it was supposed to. I suspect it was supposed to be like mayonnaise, since it starts out with 2 egg yolks and drizzled oil in the blender. The directions say, use as a dipping sauce for shrimp. Well, we don't eat shrimp, so Wednesday night, I whippped it up and used it on spaghetti. It turned out to be was an oil based sauce without the traditonal crunch of the other pesto, but tasty in its way. It has way too much salt in it. I would cut the salt by at least a half.

Pesto Alla Romano

2 egg yolks
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves chopped
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt (trust me, this is too much.)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup lemon juice

1. Place the egg yolks in the container of an electric blender. Set on high speed and dribble in the oil slowly.
2. Add the remaining ingredients. Blend thirty seconds. Use as a dipping sauce for cooked shrimp.
Makes about two and one half cups.


Sauce for Pork Chops

If one has a large number of tasks to undertake, it is easier to undertake the small ones first. That way you look like you have accomplished a lot. Well, I knocked off three recipes this week. The secret is, two of them were sauces so they didn't take me more than 15 or 20 minutes. The pork chop sauce is easy, delicious and a landmark for this cookbook, inasmuch as it has enough garlic. On Sunday night, I was madly trying to plan, deal with a family crisis, and also with requests that we have dinner. I was about ready to throw either myself or the telephone out the window. But this did not take very long.

Sauce for Pork Chops

3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup water
5 anchovy fillets, finely minced
2 teaspoons chopped capers
freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Stirring frequently cook the garlic and parsley give minutes in the oil over low heat. Do not brown. Add the tomato paste and water and simmer about ten minutes longer.
2. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the anchovies, capers and pepper. Serve with grilled pork chops.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Blueberry Nut Bread

On Tuesday, while I was chopping and simmering and poaching the marinara sauce with sausage, my eye fell on the second or third set of blueberries moldering on the counter, waiting for me to turn them into blueberry nut bread. These blueberries came in raspberry sized containers, at raspberry prices, a clear sign that the blueberry season was almost over. My intent was to make the bread and take it to school for the morning teacher collaboration. If this recipe was to be made this season, I had better get on it.
I flipped back to the breads section and perused the recipe. Wet and dry ingredients, mix, put in the pan, bake. A snap.
Weeell, as they say, there is one little thing. An essential ingredient of this recipe is wax paper. Leave it out at your peril, or rather, I should say, the peril of your glass bread pan. Our kitchen is currently down one glass bread pan, due to my husband's efforts to get the bread out of the pan sans wax paper. So be warned. This is an excellent quick bread. We spread whipped cream on it and ate it for dessert. Or you could have it for breakfast, with morning coffee, or whatever.

Blueberry Nut Bread

2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used slivered almonds.)
2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil

1. Sift together the flower, salt, baking powder and sugar. Add the berries and nuts.
2. Combine the eggs, milk, and oil and stir in just to moisten. Pour into a wax paper-lined 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan. Let stand twenty minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
4. Bake loaf one hour or until done.
Makes one loaf.

Marinara Sauce with Sausage

I have just finished week three of Old Age, The Preview. And let me tell you, this is not what I had in mind at all. I'm still walking with a cane. Walking an entire block saps all my energy, even in the morning. On Thursday, when I had to walk from 13th Street to 14th Street at 5;30 to find a cab to get home, I was practically in tears. I was able to get to work three days last week. Was I effective, as the DC Public Schools require its teachers to be? No.
On Friday, when half the staff was out for reading training and they really needed me, I crapped out after physical therapy. It had something to do with the fact that I could barely walk through the sandwich shop out to the sidewalk. How could I be expected to even take the class to the bathroom? I told the taxi driver to take me home.
I'm developing a good deal more sympathy for the elderly and those who are not in wheelchairs. Most handicapped accommodations seem to be designed for people in wheelchairs. It's assumed that if you can't walk properly, you have wheels. Well, not exactly. Right now, walking may or may not involve total white knuckle agony on the trip from the addition to the kitchen. Therefore the prospect of walking a block and a half to the bus stop is daunting to say the least. And forget Metro. What with the elevators that may or may not be working, and the escalators that are almost never working, your person on crutches or with a walker has a distinctly uncertain journey. Even if the elevators are working, most of them are at the end of the platforms. At my subway stop if one wants to take the northbound train, one is looking at a twenty yard hobble. I'm ready to go to bed just thinking about it.
So I'm left with the car or taxis, if some one else needs the car. I want to express my gratitude to all the lovely caring taxi drivers I've met in the last two weeks.
However, I did demonstrate my continuing commitment to Jean Hewitt and The Heritage Cookbook. While paging through the Northeast section trying to find something that could be made for dinner, as opposed to a dinner party, and could be eaten by my patient but still shellfish adverse husband, I discovered in the sauces section, this recipe.
This is a recipe that warrents reading all the way through, a great failing of mine. It has a couple of unusual fillups that may step up and bite you in the butt. For example, the sausages are to be first browned, and then poached in white wine. As a final touch, the recipe instructs the cook to put the poached sausages through a food mill. Not exactly possessing a food mill, I got my husband to chop them up fine, which sufficed. The only white wine we had was what we were drinking at dinner, so I used the leftover red. Works fine. Also, it calls for six dried Italian mushrooms that have to be soaked in boiling water. But those are optional, so I exercised my option and left them out. Son and fiance came to dinner and ate it up.
It is kind of time consuming. I started cooking around 6:00 and we still didn't eat until nearly 8:30.

Marinara Sauce with Sausage

1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 two pound, three ounce can tomatoes
1 six ounce can tomato paste
2 leaves fresh basil
3 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon oregano
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 Italian sweet or hot sausages
3/4 cup dry white wine
6 tablespoons butter
6 fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
6 dried Italian mushrooms, (optional)
Boiling water

1. Cook the carrot and onion in the oil until lightly browned. Add the garlic, cook briefly and add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir and add the basil. cloves, oregano, salt and pepper.
2. Meanwhile, in another skillet, cook the sausages, turning occasionally, until brown all over. Pour off the fat from the pan. Add the wine to the skillet and partly cover. Cook until most of the wine is evaporated. Add the sausages and pan liquid to the tomato sauce. Partly cover and simmer forty-five minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat two tablespoons of the butter and cook the fresh mushrooms in it briefly. Place the dried mushrooms in a mixing bowl and add boiling water to cover. Let stand ten minutes. Remove the dried mushrooms and slice them. Reserve the soaking liquid.
4. Remove the sausages from the sauce and put through a food mill or sieve. (Or get your significant other to chop them up fine.) Return the sauce to a boil and add the sausage, fresh mushrooms sliced dred mushrooms and the soaking liquid. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Immediately stir in the remaining butter. Serve immediately with spaghetti or polenta.
Makes four to six servings.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sour Cream Peach Pie


This was the dessert for the clam bake. The peaches at the farmers market are fantastic. Early Saturday, I crawled out of bed and persuaded my husband to drive me up to Bethesda to buy all the vegetables for the party. I bought tomatoes and peaches and pears and eggs from a woman who looked like she could have been one of the farm cooks for the cookbook.

I made the pie first because the clam bake didn't require much prep. I dunked the peaches in boiling water and was able to peel them fairly expeditiously. Other than peeling and slicing the peaches, the filling was simple. I had a discussion once with a friend about the cliche "easy as pie." "I think pies are the easiest thing. Don't you?" she said. I have never found pie crusts particularly easy, but the rest of it is a snap.


Sour Cream Peach Pie


5 cups peeled, sliced ripe peaches

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoonn corn starch

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

oastrt fir a two-crust nine-inch or ten -inch pie

1 1/2 cups sour cream


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Combine the peaches, brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Line a nine -inch or ten-inch pie plate with rolled out pastry.

3. Turn the fruit into the pie plate. Pour the sour cream ov3er all. Top with remaining pastry, rolled out. Seal and decorate edges and make a steam hole. Bake twenty-five to thirty-five minutes or until pastry is golden.


Dona's Favorite Pie Crust

This may be Dona's favorite pie crust, but it's not mine. Pie crust has to form a cohesive mass. I followed the recipe faithfully, and ended up with a mass of crumbs. I added another tablespoonful of water, and still didn't have cohesiveness. I think I got up to 9 tablespoons before I actually got something that could be rolled out. Because this was being made for guests, I had to appeal to the piecrust expert in the house. My husband was able to roll it out, crimp the crust and cut out nice little leaves to adorn the top of the pie.

Dona's Favorite Pie Crust

3 cups of flour
1 cup plus one tablespoon lard
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 egg white, lightly beaten

1. Place the flour, lard and salt in a bowl. With two knives, a pastry blender or the finger tips, blend the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse oatmeal.
2. Mix together the remaining ingredients and add. Stir to mix and form into a dough.
Makes enough for a two-crust nine inch pie and one nine-inch pie shell or three nine-inch pie shells.

Rhode Island Steamer Clambake




My husband suggested a strategy to publicize the blog and have opportunities to serve stuff he either can't or won't eat, like shellfish, eggplant and rhubarb. We should have monthly parties, complete with invitations telling about the blog to draw in more readers. Saturday night we had the first of the parties.
It occurred to me when trying to decide what to have that this steamer clambake would be a perfect end of summer party. Our house has a terrace and a reasonably nice back yard, but we don't use it all that much. So here was sort of an informal, messy meal, to be eaten largely with the fingers, just right for the out of doors. And so it was.
There were certain challenges to be overcome. First, there was the pot. The recipe starts, "Place the water in the bottom of a twenty-quart steamer," an item that we did not happen to possess. The closest, and only cookware store in our neighborhood is a swish place with a French name. The purchase of a twenty-quart steamer would probably require a home equity loan. I tried our community list serv. Not even a nibble. Last weekend, my daughter went to Ocean City with instructions to look for a pot. Her call letting me know she found one was a high spot in the weekend, spent largely on my back.
Then there was the issue of who would eat what. My husband can't eat shellfish. Son's fiance's mother doesn't like it. The recipe calls for steaming a chicken quarter for each diner. The instructions for packing the pot put the chicken at the bottom and the seafood on top. I decided that having clams and lobsters dripping their juice on the chicken was not a great idea. Consequently I decided to grill the chicken.
Then, there was being laid up all week from falling off the horse. This made things like shopping and cleaning difficult if not impossible. Son, who is waiting for his security clearance for his federal job, pitched in with the vaccuuming. When the checker at Safeway asked if I needed help going out to the parking lot, I said yes for the first time in my life.
Finally, there were the lobsters. I got them at the fish store, and carried them home in a paper bag. They were lively buggers, flicking their tails and waving their antennae. Now I knew that they had to be kept alive, so I prevailed upon my husband to get the galvanized steel tub from the garden to house them until dinner. "Lobster murderer!" my daughter hissed. I plopped them into the tub one by one where they stayed until the guests had assembled.
At eight o'clock, with the guests chatting on the terrace and the rest of the dinner steaming on the stove, my son looked suspiciously at the tub and poked it with his foot. "When did you get these?"
I shrugged. "Three o'clock."
"You're not supposed to put them in fresh water." he said in an outraged whisper. "What did they come in?"
I was starting to get irritated at Mr. Knowitall, as well as pierced by a fear that the $139 worth of lobster would either have to be thrown away or kill my guests.
"They came in a paper bag, Thomas. I couldn't leave them in that. What was I supposed to do?"
"Get them when you're ready to cook them," he said in tones indicating that I was a moron.
"They're dead," he announced. "Do you want me to find out whether or not you can cook them?"
"Yes," I snapped.
He came back two minutes later and whispered, "These need to be boiling right now."
They were dead all right. We lifted the lifeless corpses, claws dangling, out of the tub and plunked them into the canning pot. As always, he had the last word.
"If I die of food poisoning, I'm going to be really pissed," he hissed.
Well, as of 1:00 pm Sunday afternoon, neither he nor I nor anyone else at the party that I know of has contracted food poisoning. And it was a great party. The nine of us had seven bottles of wine and a lot of animated conversation.

Rhode Island Steamer Clambake

6 cups water
seaweed or wet celery, lettuce and or spinach (I used spinach.)
3 broiler-fryer chickens split
6 unpeeled medium size baking potatoes
6 unpeeled medium size onions
6 ears corn in husks, soaked in salted water one hour
48 small clams
4-6 one-pound lobsters
melted butter

1. Place the water in bottom of a twenty quart steamer. Cover with upper section and place a generous layer of wet, well-rinsed seaweed or greens in the bottom.
2. Wrap the chicken pieces in cheesecloth, tie corners and place on top of seaweed or greens. Wrap five of the potatoes similarly and place on chicken. Wrap the onions and place on chicken.
3. Wrap the corn in cheesecloth and place on top of potatoes, and then the clams wrapped in four bundles of a dozen each, and last the lobsters in cheesecloth.
4. Top ingredients with more seaweed or wet greens. Place remaining potato in middle and cover.
5. Steam until potato on top is cooked, about one and one-half hours; that means the bake is ready to pull.. Serve with melted butter.
Makes six servings.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Smoked Haddock Flan

Hewitt says, in a New York Times kind of way, "Any good fish store can order smoked haddock." This may have been true in New York in the 70s, but the first couple of times I asked my fish store about it, I got blank looks. "We have smoked salmon," the man said. Last week when I was buying cod for the chowder, I wrote a note to the owners about it. On Saturday morning, as I
was juggling vegetables from the farmers' market, I found a message on my phone. The smoked haddock was in!
Then, as has been related, I fell off my horse. I actually tried to pick up the haddock on the way home from the stable, and got about fifty feet from the entrance before deciding I just couldn't walk the rest of the way. I sent my son to pick it up and was startled to find that two pounds of the stuff cost $37.
Having spent that much money, I wasn't going to let it go bad. I made the flan on Monday. This is not a recipe I would choose to make after suffering a collision with the ground, but if life gives you smoked haddock, make smoked haddock flan. It has several components, including a pastry shell, fish, filling, sauce and potato mixture, which needs a pastry bag.
Pastry, especially on hot days, has never been my strong point. But, this project is teaching me to follow the recipe and be exact. If it says ice water, use ice water. Even though I did not have wax paper I managed to roll out the dough and get it into the pie shell without tearing it or having it stick to the counter. My husband is better at this stuff than I am. He can do fluted crusts and little leaves. My crust is raggedly, but this time, it was edible.
I boiled the eggs ahead of time. I didn't mash the potatoes ahead of time, which would have been best. I also didn't have the energy to look in the cabinets over the stove for the pastry bag. So, my product did not look like the full color photo between pages 110 and 111. It probably tasted about the same though.

Smoked Haddock Flan

Pastry Shell:
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter or shortening
1 egg yolk
ice water
Fish:
1/2 pounds smoked haddock with bones (if salty soak thirty minutes in cold water)
1 cup milk approximately
Filling:
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped leeks
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 hard cooked eggs halved
Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Potato mixture
3 medium size baking potatoes, boiled peeled and riced or sieved
2 egg yolks
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 tablespoons finely grated Gruyere cheese

1. To prepare pastry, place the flour and slat in a bowl. With the finger tips or a pastry blender, blend in the butter or shortening until mixture resembels coarse oatmeal. With a fork stir in the egg yolk and enough ice water to make a dough.
2. Roll out the dough on alightly floured board or pastry cloth and use to line an eight-inch or nine-inch scalloped pie pan or pie plate. Chill well.
3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
4. Line the chilled shell with aluminum foil and fill with dried beans or uncooked rice. Bake eight minutes, or until shell is set. Remove foil and beans or rice, and bake shell three to five minutes longer or until done and lightly browned.
5. Meanwhile, place the fish in a large skillet. Pour in milk until fish is three-quarters submerged.
6. Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer eight to ten minutes, or until the flish flakes easily. Remove the fish, strain the liquid and reserve one cup for the sauce. Remove the skin and bones from the fish and flake it. There should be about two cups. Reserve.
7. To prepare filling, melt the butter in a skillet and saute the leeks in it until tender but not browned. Stir in the reserved fish and the parsley, season with pepper and keep warm. Reserve the hard-cooked egg halves.
8. To prepare sauce, melt the butter in a small pan, blend in the flour and gradually stir in the reserved cup fish stock. (milk). Season with salt and pepper.
9. Bring to a boil, stirring until sauce thickens. Hold over hot water until needed.
10. To prepare potato mixture, place the hot riced or seived potatoes in a bowl and beat in the egg yolks, salt, pepper and four tablespoons of the cheese.
11. Place the filling in the bottom of the baked pie shell and embed the hard-cooked egg pieces in the filling in a pattern like spokes in a wheel. Pour the sauce over all.
12. Fit a pastry bag with a star tube. Pipe the potato mixture through the pastry bag around the flan and make a wheel pattern.
13 Sprinkle with the reaining cheese and brown unter the broiler.
Serves four.