Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Orange Walnut Chicken

Actually, this should be called Orange Walnut Pineapple Chicken. Or Orange Walnut Pineapple Raisin Chicken. Anyhow, it's a good dish to cook for some one who just acquired a box of fundraising oranges. You start out rubbing the chicken pieces with salt and curry powder, and then dip it in melted butter. This cookbook has a certain similarity to Julia Child in that regard. Much butter is consumed.
Then, you bake the chicken for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven while making the sauce. The sauce is composed of 2 teaspoons julienned strips of orange peel, 3/4 of a cup orange juice, which I fresh squoze, 1 cup fresh pineapple, 1/3 cup walnut pieces, 1/3 cup raisions and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. The cinnamon presented difficulties. I alphabetize my spice shelf. In the c's there was cardomon, celery seed, and many small containers of whole cloves. Why whole cloves? I know not. What there was not, was cinnamon. After rooting around on the shelves behind the spice shelves, I discovered an unopened container of pumpkin pie spice. Figuring that, A. pumpkin pie spice was mostly cinnamon, and B. 1/4 of a teaspoon wasn't enough to make a difference, I used that.
Boil the mixture, combined with the pan juices of the chicken, thicken it with flour and soy sauce and serve it over the chicken and rice. Yum. I took the last of the sauce.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Meat and Potato Burgers

I spent Thursday, Friday and Sunday flat on my back, coughing my head off, so lost the chance to serve up another eggplant recipe to the church people at the monthly potluck. I decided that a cook with a hacking cough was not a situation designed to endear oneself to other diners. So, I stayed home, and they missed out on more eggplant.
Having seen this recipe a couple of days ago, I decided to make it because we had hamburger, and then had one hell of a time finding it in the cookbook. I looked under hamburgers, and for hamburgers with potatoes, and ground beef with potatoes and couldn't find it. There was a certain amount of frustration, especially since I had already made the mashed potatoes to mix in with the hamburger. I finally found it by leafing through the Midwest in the meat, poultry, game and other main dishes section.
This is one of those "What shall I do with all the leftover ___________?" recipes. In this case, it was mashed potatoes. As a person who never put anything but salt on hamburgers, the concept of mixing stuff into the meat is novel. However, like Anne's Hamburgers, the result is great. You mix 1 pound of ground round with 3/4 cup mashed potatoes, a raw egg, 2 tablespoons chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped pickled beets (which I omitted, being fresh out of pickled beets,) 1 tablespoon chopped rained capers, salt, pepper and dill weed. Moosh the whole thing up with your hands, form into patties and fry.
The verdict by the BF's husband was, "good, but lacks cohesiveness." In other words, the hamburger came to pieces and dribbled all down our fingers. But it was good.
I keep coming back to head cheese. This week, I read an article in The Washington Post about small slaughterhouses in Pennsylvania that handle a few animals at a time for small farmers. I thought those folks might be able to get me a pig's head. The other pigs head outlet was a store in Newport News, Va. that sold old fashioned, country type meat. Also, I read that a place called Wagshaws, still in DC sells game. So, for all that stuffed grouse, poached pheasant, wild duck, etc. I have an outlet. I'm also trying to track down dandelion greens. Given the quantity of dogs we have in the District of Columbia and their predeliction to urinate everywhere and anywhere, I think it best to purchase them.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Veal Scallops with Cheese

This is delicious and not terribly complicated. The hardest thing is to time it so it comes out of the oven when the party who works late walks in the door. I had him call me as he left the grocery store. This dish made me think of one of the first veal dishes I cooked out of this cookbook, which had to have been around March, 1982, when my mother came to visit her first grandchild.
The cooking was not terribly fraught. Ever since I got my own apartment, I could cook. However, the visit was, and not for the usual mother daughter reasons. Now, shall I say my mother and her sisters led rather sheltered lives. Even though the oldest sister traveled all around the world, and may or may not have shot tigers in India (They had a tiger rug in their living room) there were a great many things they had not done. For example, my aunt, who lived all her adult life in New York City, was unable to identify a bagel when I introduced it to her refrigerator in 1977.
They did not talk to people of color, except as household employees. They never had to cope with rising real estate prices. And my mother, although far from dumb, was a stranger to the economic realities of 1979, which meant that my husband and I had to buy a house in the ghetto to stay in DC. So anyhow, I felt like my mother wouldn't quite understand exactly why the only one of her children to have an actual job had to buy a house, subsidized by her, in a slum. When I tried to explain that the house was in a black neighborhood, she inquired innocently, "Doctors and lawyers?"
"Mom," I said, "nurses and cabdrivers. Black doctors and lawyers live in the same kind of neighborhoods as white doctors and lawyers."
I remember nervously looking around our street on the first nice day of the early spring, and seeing various neighbors lounging on their front porches drinking beer. and thinking she wouldn't go for it. However, when she actually got there, it was cold and the beer drinkers had moved back inside. I have to hand it to my mother. She knew how to keep her mouth shut. If she had opinions on our house, which turned out to be a bad real estate investment, as well as in a dicy neighborhood, she kept them to herself. Maybe it was the veal.
Here's veal scallops with cheese. PETA please note, this was not white veal. You take 6 veal scaloppine, dip them in beaten egg, and then in lemon juice and then in breadcrumbs. You put it in a frying pan and fry it on one side in a mizture of olive oil and butter. Then, you take it out and put it, cooked side down, in a baking dish. Top with thinly sliced lemonsm, swiss cheese and cream. Bake for 15 minutes or so. Yum.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Meg's Flank Steak

Unfortunately, the editor of this cookbook does not go in for little stories about the food. There are no sketches of Meg, the Oregon farm wife, presenting her flank steak to Hewitt after she (Hewitt) spent a long day bumping over dusty Oregon back roads in search of the authentic recipe. Meg remains a mystery.
Flank steak, too, I imagine, is a mystery to many people. It was to me. I guess it comes from the flank (?), which I guess would be the rear leg. Flank steaks are thin and have very long fibers. Truth be told, they'e tough. At least this one was.
You are supposed to unroll it, and stuff it with a combination of chopped onions, peppers, and garlic and two cups of breadcrumbs. I thought there were breadcrumbs in the closet. What there was in the closet was the remenants of a loaf of whole wheat French bread. Quick, into the blender with it. Fifteen minutes worth of grinding and whirring later, and I had my breadcrumbs. Add anchovies, capers and thyme.
Then spread it on the flank steak and wrap it up. I was supposed to tie it with string, but I didn't have any string, so I just folded it over. Drape it with slices of bacon and cook it for an hour and a half at 350 degrees.
This was okay. It was not haut cuisine.

Regular.Pie Crust

Last night, we decided to use up some of the leftover chicken from Pollo en Salsa in chicken pot pie. I did not search the cookbook for a chicken pot pie recipe, but just threw things together. I did, however, use one of the recipes for pie crust. Now, I have never been any good at pastry. It doesn't do what it is supposed to do, and it sticks to everything when I go to roll it out.
I carefully followed the recipe. 2 1/4 cups of flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3/4 cup shortening, and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. I used a pastry cutter to cut the shortening into the flour until it resembled coarse oatmeal. I wonder what young people make of these instructions. Coarse oatmeal. What is that? Then it says, "stir in the cream and enough water to make a dough." Well, this is unspecific. The idea is to just add the water a teaspoonful at a time and not let it get too soggy. I always dump in more water than I should and end up with a gluey mass. I tried to add just a tiny bit, and stir, having a small coagulation in the midst of all the coarse oatmeal. A little more and a little more, and finally the dough stuck together without being too mucky.
Now, here, I do believe is the key. Because I was sick on Monday, I made the dough around 2:00 and stuck it in the refrigerator.
Normally, I never have time to chill the pastry. But, when I took it out at 7:30 it held together and did not stick to the aluminum foil. So, make your pastry ahead of time.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pollo en Salsa

This is translated by the cookbook as Chicken in Sauce, in a manner somewhat reminiscient of the BF's father. Said father was an imposing, red-faced gentleman with a wicked sense of humor who once told an unsuspecting lady from Texas that he was the British Ambassador to Pakistan. What's more, he had the presence to carry it off, so much so that the woman when chatting with my mother, told her she had just met the most interesting man, and pointed him out. To which my mother responded, "Don't be ridiculous. That's my husband. He's never been to Pakistan in his life."
Anyhow, my father would use cognates to translate straight from French into English, irregardless of the meaning. I found this hilarious, and chicken in sauce reminds me of something he would say.
Anyhow, BF's son and fiance came to dinner, so I made chicken in sauce. This recipe takes a while. It isn't hard, like making pastry, or fussy, like making egg based sauces, but it does have several steps and ends up with a sink full of dirty dishes. First you take your largish chicken, season it inside and out with salt and pepper, and annoint it with olive oil. Then you bake it for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven whilst going to the next step, or walking the dog, as the case may be.
Back from your dog walk, you chop up 4 carrots, 2 scallions, three ribs of celery, one onion and two cloves of garlic, and sprinkle it around the chicken in the baking dish and pour a half a cup of red wine over the whole thing. Then you stick it back into the oven after turning down the temperature to 325.
After an hour and a half of chatting, I went back into the kitchen and removed the chicken from the oven. There was a confab over whether or not this chicken was sufficiently cooked. The little plastic tab that acts as the thermometer had not poked out. However, when the BF stabbed the breast of the chicken with a fork, the juices ran clean. I said it was cooked. Son and husband resorted to a meat thermometer stuck into the breast. Not cooked was the verdict. Back it went into the oven for further cooking while I dealt with the vegetables that had been roasting under the chicken.
These were to be spooned out of the roasting pan, and pureed in the mixer. So they were, making a greenish puree that I set aside to cut a large red pepper into strips and fry in a quarter cup of butter, along with 3/4 of a pound of sliced mushrooms and a jar of black olives. Then, back to the puree, which was supposed to have a half a cup of red wine and 1 1/4 cup of chicken broth added, and then thickened with 3 tablespoons of flour.
Because of daughter's diet, which has been amazingly effective in improving her general well-being, I skipped the red wine, used vegetable broth, and thickened the whole thing with corn starch, which seemed to work just fine. So, that was chicken in sauce, or roast chicken with vegetables and sauce.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pork Goulash

To me, goulash involved some kind of tomato sauce and paprika. This dish includes neither. It hails from South Dakota, where I have been, but did not dine widely. So,it's some kind of weird goulash, and perhaps you phantom readers can enlighten us about its origins. You take 1 1/2 pounds of pork shoulder, brown it in lard (vegetable shortening) and then add one large chopped onion (I used two to kind of pep things up) 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds(I doubled it.) Clearly these are timid spicers who wrote these recipes. Then you add 3 cups pork broth (I used vegetable broth because I didn't have any pork broth, nor the 3 hours required to make it) and the killer, three tablespoons grated hard rye bread.
Now D.C. is not the whitebread place it once was, where there was one Italian market squirreled away in the recesses of the Florida Avenue Market. However, it is not, and never will be, New York, or some other incredibly ethnic corner of the U.S. So the rye bread gave me pause. I had an itinerary for that afternoon, and it did not involve driving miles to find the correct hard rye bread. However, I did know that the supermarket stuff would not do.
A bakery was on the way to the yoga studio, my objective. So I stopped there. No rye bread. "We do carry it," I was assured. Well great. So, the next and last alternative was a place that has been in Washington since way before I arrived on the scene, that used to advertise that it catered to the carriage trade, and I believe, have a little horse and carriage in its logo. This place, which was so popular in the 70s and early
80s that occasional fights would break out in the produce section, and children parked in carts outside the produce section would burst into tears because their mothers had been swallowed up in a sea of ladies battling for mushrooms, has since morphed into a small produce store and a larger liquor store/deli.
I figured one of these two places had to have rye bread. I first went into the produce store and back in the back found a homemade bread stand with plexiglass doors and no labels. Which was rye bread, I inquired.
The checker, in tones that indicated she got asked this question all the time, and was damned if she was going to ever find out the answer, said she didn't know. She said that the person who knew about bread wasn't there. Resisting the extremely strong urge to say at the top of my lungs, "WHY DON'T YOU PUT LABELS ON THEM, YOU **** YO YO?" I made my you are an idiot, face, and went next door into the liquor store-cum-deli and inquired of the cashiers. They led me to the deli counter, whereupon perched a selection of rye bread. I chose Farmers Rye Bread, thinking that any bread made on a farm, or pretending to have been made on a farm, would have more heft than something made in a supermarket.
This was actually an excellent choice. It's called Bauern Schnitten Roggenbrot, and is made in Canada. While it's not hard enough to grate, which is what you are supposed to do, it is quite dense and vinagary, and does well thickening the goulash. Also, it's very good in sandwiches. So, check it out, Bevis.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Creamed Cod and Spinach Salad

Tonight we move from South Carolina to the rockbound coast of New England for Creamed Cod. Creamed Cod is made from salt codfish, which comes in a cute little wooden box, and is available at the fish store. In the days when cod swarmed off the Georges Banks of Newfoundland in their millions, this used to be poor people's food. Thanks to overfishing, it is no longer cheap.
When I was in my 20s I had a subscription to Time Life Foods of the World Cookbooks. They were supremely glossy and fun to read, if not fun to cook out of. They were full of full color pictures of picnics and beautiful landscapes and food. In the Spain and Portugal book, there was a recipe for salt cod, fried potatoes and scrambled eggs, all mixed together. We used to have that a lot.
So, having had history with salt cod, I did not fall into the "Night before.." trap. I knew it had to be soaked, and therefore, I soaked it. This dish probably contains about 1,000 calories per person, as it uses half a cup of butter and two cups of cream. And, as the BF's husband pointed out, it is somewhat bland. One boils the cod until it is flaky, makes a white sauce, and then cooks the cod for 5 minutes in the sauce. Traditionally this is eaten with boiled potatoes (we did) and pickled beets. (Nope.)

Spinach Salad

This is an easy to make salad. You take a garlic clove, and rub it all over a salad bowl. Next make the dressing, dry mustard, Tabasco sauce, 3 tablespoons wine vinegar,
7 tablspoons oilve oil, and two hard cooked eggs along with the spinach.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ham Steak and Red Eye Gravy with Fried Apples

Tonight, if I understand this correctly, we had breakfast for dinner. While in the North, we eat ham for dinner, in the South, ham with red eye gravy, grits and fried apples are breakfast food. This is easy, as well as being tasty. The whole dinner took about 20 minutes. Fry the ham whilst frying the apples in butter and a little water. Boil water and stir in the grits. Grits can be lumpy, but not nearly as much as corn meal. Just mash the lumps with a wooden spoon. Stir in some cheese. Bingo, dinner, as well as two recipes knocked off.
One of the benefits of doing this is you find out what some of this stuff is, as in red eye gravy, which turns up in various novels about the South. Red eye gravy is water dumped into the frying pan after you fry the ham. Then, you boil the water while stirring to get up the burnt bits. You get this dark watery stuff that is red eye gravy. I actually can't tell you how it tastes. It was eschewed by both the Berkshire Farmer and the Berkshire Farmer's Husband.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chartres Street Trout

Spring is indubitably coming to the District of Columbia. The piles of snow shrink daily until they only lurk on the street corners where the plows pushed them to get them off the street. And to celebrate spring, or its incipiant arrival, Chartres Street Trout is a good recipe.
In case anyone is wondering, I believe Chartres Street refers to New Orleans.Anyway, this recipe is in the South section. I was asked if they sold this dish on the streets of Chartre. While I cannot say definitively not, the last time I was there, (last March) there did not seem to be anyone selling anything on the street. It was bloody cold and blowing a gale.
Anyway, to the dish. Very simple. You take as many fileted trout as you have diners, lay them out on a cookie sheet covered with a piece of buttered tin foil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, dot with butter. (I always liked that phrase.), cover with another sheet of tin foil and stick it in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, which just gives you time to set the table and boil the asparagus.
Cook until done, as cookbooks used to say usefully. After you take it out, sprinkle it with lemon juice and capers. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup chopped parsley, but the Berkshire Farmer's husband has some kind of blood condition that forbids parsley. So I leave it out. And eat with small boiled potatoes and asparagus, which happened to be only $1.28 at Safeway. Happy spring.
The fish and shellfish area of the chapter on the South is a fertile area for cooking containing many delicious and uncooked recipes. Getting people to eat it will be a problem, since nearly all of them contain crab, shrimp, lobster, scallops, clams and oysters, which the BF's husband also cannot eat. Poor husband. He loves this stuff and they give him hives.
Pre kids, far off in the mists of time, 1976 to be exact, BF and BFH took a vacation in Nova Scotia. We were driven to it by the Visit Canada ads on tv. Every night, where ever there were Digby Bay scallops on the menu, we ate them. Then, on the last day, as we were driving to the ferry, what should we spy but the exit for Digby Bay. Scallop alert, we yelled, and took the exit, drove into Digby Bay and scarfed down a plateful of fried Digby Bay scallops at a diner. It was the last plate of scallops BFH was to eat. Very sad. Imagine, having to go for 35 years without eating scallops.
Yo, readers, if readers there are. As near as I can tell, there is no way to find out how many people actually read this. So, would you mind signing in, either with your real name or with, as George Kaufman would put it, an assumed name? I'd like to know how many readers I actually have. Thanks.