Monday, December 26, 2011

Fresh Corn Soup

Considering that fresh corn is not available in the mid Atlantic region in December, this soup as made by me for Christmas dinner was misidentified. I used frozen corn and had to punt as far as how much corn to use. The recipe says you need the amount of corn that comes off three ears. I figured that about a cup per ear was about right. It wasn't. There seemed to be too much milk and not enough corn in this soup.
The cooking scene Christmas afternoon was something of a zoo. The goose was smoking away in the oven, and the guests were having a fine time in the living room, while Bob and I stirred, sauteed and chopped in the kitchen. I lost count of the number of cups of milk, sprayed milk all over the wall while using the blender and searched frantically for herbs we didn't have.
Bob prefers a more organized presentation of dinner, and was none too happy to be cooking through all the predinner merriment, issuing from the living room. "We should have started at 2 o'clock," he hissed. I had nothing to say to that.
The guests were polite about it, and ate it. However, if you want to make fresh corn soup, wait until you can get fresh corn.

Fresh Corn Soup

3 ears corn, kernels removed and cobs scraped to get out the milk
1/2 cup chicken broth or water
1 sprig thyme or one-quarter teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon celery seeds crushed
1 sprig marjoram or one-eighth teaspoon dried marjoram
1 leaf basil or one-eighth teaspoon basil
8 cups hot milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon dry sherry

1. Place the kernels and milk from the cobs in a heavy saucepan and add the broth or water. Cook three minutes, taking care not to scorch the corn.
2. Place cooked corn, the thyme, salt, celery seeds, marjoram, basil and hot milk in an electric blender and blend until smooth.
3. Strain into a saucepan and add the butter, sugar, salt and pepper. Heat gently on direct heat or over hot water to boiling, but do not boil.
4. Stir in the sherry and serve. Serves 4.

Roast Goose

For Christmas dinner, I vacillated between venison, rack of lamb and roast goose. Basically it all boiled down to availability. Union Meat in Eastern Market didn't have venison, but it did have rack of lamb. The poultry stand across the aisle had goose, but wasn't answering their phone. So Thursday morning, my brother and I trotted up to Capitol Hill to the market. We made our way through the shoppers buying their Christmas dinners to the Union Meat counter. I looked across the aisle to the poultry place and was aghast to see a line that stretched all the way out the door.
"That's it, " I said to my brother. "I'm not standing in that line. Plan B."
A woman behind the Union Meat counter heard me and said there was another poultry place further down the market.
"Do they have goose?" I asked.
"I don't know, but they don't have a line."
That was enough for me. We went further into the market and found a second poultry stand, manned by cheerful Korean poultry men. They sold me their last goose, with serious injunctions to cook it at 350 degrees for four hours. With glee, my brother and I headed back to the car loaded down with our goose, a bunch of flowers for my husband's arrangements and some deli meat.
Christmas morning was refreshingly relaxed. My daughter arrived around 11:30 and the yms around 3:00. We had time to stuff the stockings and wrap the last minute presents without having to get up too early. After breakfast we drove down to the Mall to look at the state Christmas trees. At 3:00 we were back home and I put the goose in the oven.
My husband, who knows a thing or two, advised me to put a tent of tin foil over the goose to keep the oven from being liberally coated with grease. Initially, I didn't listen to him, and smoke began pouring out of the oven right away. Luckily, the temperature was in the low 50s, so we were able to open all the windows without freezing to death.
I quickly pulled the goose out of the oven and crowned it with a tent of tin foil. Smoke abatement 101. Goose is a wonderful food. It has this lovely rich smell which not only permeated the house but wafted out, perhaps through the open windows, perhaps through the oven vent, so the arriving guests could smell it before they entered the house.
The cooking for Christmas dinner was somewhat fraught. We ended up making two rice dishes, and soup, and cooking straight through to dinner. We didn't even have time to change our clothes before it was time to eat. My son, who was extremely helpful in matters such as filling the water glasses and opening the wine, kept wandering into the kitchen and announcing that people were hungry, so we didn't feel like taking 15 more minutes to change.
Luckily, about 15 minutes before the goose was scheduled to come out, I thought, let's have a look at this. It was brown and crispy looking and the meat had shrunken down the drumsticks. Yikes! We pulled it out of the oven, and it was just right. Goose is dark meat all over, and extremely fatty. We poured a quart jar of fat off the roasting pan.
I had opted for a vegetarian non shellfish stuffing, which I made separately. We did not bother with all the gravy instructions. Goose seemed to be popular with the guests.

Roast Goose

1 seven-to-nine-pound goose (reserve giblets)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 recipe oyster stuffing (we used apple celery stuffing)

1 onion

1 bay leaf

1 rib celery with leaves

3 tablespoons flour

gravy coloring and flavoring

crab apples or range slices

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Wash and clean the goose inside and outside. Wipe dry. Burn off any hairs that remain. Season the cavity with salt and pepper.

3. Using the desired stuffing, stuff the cavity three-quarters full. Put any leftover stuffing under the neck skin. Truss the bird and place on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Roast ten minutes.

4. Reduce the oven heat to 325 degrees and continue to roast twenty to twenty-five minutes a pound, removing fat as it accumulates.

5. Meanwhile, wash the gizzard, neck and heart (the liver goes into the stuffing or is sauteed and seasoned as a delicacy) and place in a saucepan with the onion, bay leaf, celery, salt, pepper and water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer several hours.

6. Strain liquid. If desired, chop some of the giblet meat.

7. Transfer the cooked goose to a warm platter. Pour off all but three tablespoons goose fat from the roasting pan. Sprinkle fat in pan with the flour. Cook, stirring, two minutes. Stir in three to four cups strained liquid and the chopped giblet meat. Cook, stirring, until gravy thickens. Season with salt and pepper and add gravy coloring and flavoring (Kitchen Bouquet) if desired.

8. Garnish goose platter with crab apples or orange slices. Serve gravy separately. Makes six servings. (a 12 pound goose served 9 with quite a bit left over.)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Cake

Christmas 2011 wasn't exactly the Christmas that never happened, but it was definitely the Christmas that happened late. I bought a too-small wreath from the junior high school greens sale the first week of December and then did nothing more either at home or at school until the 21st. The last day of school, I injected a little Christmas into the classroom routine by reading a book by Tomi de Paola entitled Tony's Bread, which was the story of Italian pannetone and then yanking a box of it out of my locker and serving it.
This brought on some astonished questions as to whether Tony was real. I didn't feel like getting into the issue of a legend with first graders, so I said, well, it's called pannetone so, it was probably made by a man named Tony.
On the 22nd, I got down to business, and trimmed the tree my son and daughter in law and I had bought in Mount Airy the Saturday before. Son and I dragged the ornaments and the lights down from the attic, hung them on the tree and put up the outdoor Christmas lights. My daughter came over later and we all had dinner together for the first time since September. We worked out our Christmas routine to accommodate the yms. We would have Christmas Eve lunch and go to church Christmas Eve afternoon. That meant I had a chance of staying awake in church, which at midnight mass, I am unable to do.
All of which explains why I was prospecting through Safeway for glaced fruit on Christmas Eve prior to making Christmas cake. I fully expected to find it, since it had been there before Thanksgiving, when I made Lizzies for the church bake sale. Well, supermarkets have a season the same way farms do, and the glaced fruit that was there in profusion in mid November had disappeared by December 24. I guess people make their fruitcakes in November. All I was able to buy were the walnuts, the golden raisins and the maraschino cherries.
However, I had planned to make Christmas cake last Christmas, and had gotten caught in the time crunch, so I was not dismayed. We had had the same no glaced fruit experience at Whole Foods, where the staff member we talked to said, "People ask us all the time for that, but we don't have it" a definite grrr inducing response. At that time, I bought dried, sugared papaya and dried, sugared pineapple, which lurked in the closet for 12 months.
When I got home from the supermarket I trotted out the dried fruits and substituted them in the recipe for the glaced fruits. Since I didn't have the green glaced cherries, I put in the full ten ounce jar of maraschino cherries. Normally I avoid maraschino cherries like the plague, ever since the 70s when I heard that red dye number 2 caused cancer in rats. However, when you are leaving half the ingredients out, it pays to put in the ones you can get.
I also took special care to grease the bundt pan and then lay baking parchment over it and grease that, as it said to do in the directions. If you don't do that, the cake sticks to the inside of the bundt pan and makes a complete mess. I had some baking parchment from some other baking project. It's available in the supermarkets. Don't try to make this cake without it.
When I came to put it in the oven, I realized that I was running very late. The cake is meant to bake for three hours at 250 degrees. I didn't have three hours, so I cranked up the oven temperature to 300 degrees and set the timer for two hours. It worked fine.
As I was reading over the recipe, I discovered I had left out a cup of brown sugar. This is not such a bad thing, as the resulting cake was acceptably sweet but not too sweet. Anyhow, the cake turned out moist, flavorful and not too dense. We ate it for dessert and then again on Christmas day, as we sat around waiting for my daughter to come for Christmas breakfast.

Christmas Cake

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup green glaced cherries chopped
3/4 cup drained maraschino cherries, chopped
1 cup chopped mixed glaced fruits
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
2. Beat the shortening, butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the vanilla, lemon and almond extracts.
3. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Reserve one=half cup of the flour mixture and stir remainder into better alternately with the milk.
4. Mix together the raisins, glaced cherries, maraschino cherries, mixed fruits and nuts. Toss with reserved flour mixture and stir into batter.
5. Grease a nine-inch tube pan with removable bottom, line with unglazed brown paper or parchment paper and grease again. Spoon batter into pan.
6. Bake three hours or until the cake tests done. Cool thirty minutes in the pan, remove and finish cooling on a rack. Makes 14 servings.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pat's Favorite Dip

The week before vacation, the school PTA scheduled a fashion show. So when the PTA president was camped out in the hall at 8:30, buttonholing parents who were taking their kids to class, I felt compelled to offer a dish for the refreshments. I had thought about making deep-fried grits balls, which sound delicious, but in our calorie conscious household, wouldn't really be the best thing to present at a party. But on Thursday night, when it came down to what would I make, I plumped for Pat's Favorite Dip. I was not going to stay until 7:00 pm, frying grits balls in the teachers' lounge.
When I turned to the page, I saw a poignant note next to another recipe, Cheese Balls, made almost exactly 20 years ago, in November, 1991 "for the superintendent." I remember that event exactly. It was a reception mounted by the PTAs of the Ward III schools to meet the new superintendent, Frank Smith. Parents were urged to bring food for the buffet table. So bearing my cheese balls, my husband and I hopefully trekked up to the high school to meet the man who was supposed to halt the inexorable slide of the DC Public Schools into not only mediocrity but downright disaster. Long story short, as my daughter's friend Crista likes to say, he didn't. The schools actually got worse, and Frank Smith was followed by a succession of other superintendents, including a former army general, (Julius Becton), a superintendent who had retired from Montgomery County, ( Paul Vance) and a shy, retiring man named Clifford Janney until we got the famous Michelle Rhee, who actually was able to pull us out of the morass.
So seeing the note by the cheese ball recipe made me sad.
The recipe for the dip, which is covered with yellowing spots from the cheese balls, is a typical Southern recipe. It contains, for example, three tablespoons of sugar and pimentos. I doubled the recipe, but left the sugar alone. That seemed to work well. At 5:00 am, I set to work, mashing cream cheese, chopping onions and green peppers, and cooking the egg, vinegar and sugar in a double boiler. I packed the whole thing into two Chinese food containers and went to work on planning for that day's lessons. It tasted good, but I didn't get any feedback on whether or not people liked it. The food table was overwhelmed by vegetable trays from the supermarkets, so people had lots of stuff to dip in the dip.

Pat's Favorite Dip

1 egg
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 eight ounce package cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons finely chopped onions
3 tablespoons chopped pimento
3 tablespoons chopped green pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Put the egg, vinegar and sugar in the top of a double boiler and cook over hot water, stirring until thick.
2. Stir in the remaining ingredients and cool. Chill and serve with fresh raw vegetables. Makes two cups.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Crackus is kind of like Welsh Rarebit, Mississippi style. I have been able to find no information on this recipe on the Internet, so this may be a recipe unique to TNYTHC. It contains a substance of my childhood, chipped beef, which, amazingly is still sold in the 21st Century. We used to eat creamed chipped beef on toast at Center School in Sheffield, Massachusetts, and also at Indian Mountain School in Lakeville, Connecticut, proof that private school is no guarantee of good cooking.
I never particularly knew what it was. It was just some white food with stuff floating around in the white that we were given to eat. Since I was a child who literally ate nearly everything that was put in front of me, I ate it. Even today, I have a hard time understanding my students, who will leave a good, cooked on site lunch uneaten even when they are hungry, rather than eat some strange food. I was held out as an example by Mrs. Curtiss, whose children were, and still are, notoriously picky eaters. Frankie's response was, "And look at how fat Annie is."
Anyhow, this is a simple dish to prepare, and if you like cheese, you'll like crackus. The only tricky things are A. Buying dried beef, and B. Boiling the egg ahead of time. Safeway has dried beef, at least in DC. Anyone who is remotely organized can remember to hard boil an egg, and if you don't, you can hard boil it in a few minutes.


4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups canned tomatoes, chopped with their liquid
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese grated
1 small jar dried chipped beef
2 hard cooked eggs chopped
4 cups cooked rice

1. Melt the butter and blend in the flour. Gradually stir in the milk and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, stirring.
2. Add the mustard and stir in the cheese until it melts.
3. Fold in the beef and hard-cooked eggs and reheat, but do not boil. Serve over rice. Makes four servings.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Homemade Lollipops or Hard Candies

I decided to make Homemade Lollipops or hard candies as a gift to my co-workers. On my way home from my riding lesson, I stopped off at Williams Sonoma and bought a candy thermometer and candy flavorings, as well as a lot of high priced (but good quality) other stuff, like a mini muffin pan for $30.00. The clerks have obviously been trained to butter up the customers. When they asked me what I was going to make and I told them, they chorused, "You're so creative!"
Well, creative or not, I should have followed the directions a little better. Williams Sonoma did not have lollipop sticks, so I used cupcake papers. "Don't we have to grease them?" my daughter, who was helping me, inquired.
"Oh, no," I said, blithely. "you can just peel the muffin papers right off."
Well, that was wrong, and I still have a plateful of candy in muffin papers sitting on a counter a week later. The candy sticks to the paper, and has to be scraped off with a knife after a thorough wetting.
It tastes okay. I suggest, as well as greasing your muffin papers, to put in about twice as much flavoring as the recipe calls for. Otherwise, you get a very slight lemon taste, barely noticeable. Another tip, don't use a plastic measuring spoon to spoon the hot candy syrup out into the muffin cups. It will melt. Also when the recipe says spoon quickly, do it. The syrup hardens fast and you will get little threads of sugar syrup all over your muffin pan or cookie sheet.
Amazingly, the sugar syrup does not stick to the bottom of the pot when you are attempting to clean it. Just fill the pot with water and let it sit. The syrup will dissolve.

Homemade Lollipops or Hard Candies

2 cups sugar
2/3cup light corn syrup
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon oil of lemon or other concentrated flavor
food colorings
skewers or ice cream sticks for lollipops

1. Place the sugar, syrup and water in a pan. Heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Continue to cook, without stirring, until syrup reaches 310 degrees on a candy thermometer. Keep the pan clear of crystals by washing down the sides once or twice with a brush dipped into water.
2. Remove from the heat, add the flavoring and colored and spoon quickly, one teaspoon at a time, onto a greased baking sheet. Immediately place a skewer or stick in position before the candy sets. Alternately, the syrup may be poured into lightly greased tiny muffin cups to give round candies.
3. Remove the lollipops or round candies as soon as they are set. Wrap in clear plastic wrap. Makes about 24.

Baked Clams

Sunday was our son and daughter-in-law's Christmas party. He requested deviled eggs and Wassail Bowl, the mulled cider drink I made for the last Christmas party. I agreed as long as I could add baked clams to the list. He didn't care what else he got as long as he got deviled eggs and Wassail Bowl, so he agreed.

The weekend was somewhat frenetic. Saturday wasn't too bad. I went riding and to the grocery store. Then our daughter dropped by and we ended up going out to dinner after buying the church Christmas tree at Whole Foods and dropping it off at the church. We got home about 9:30, and I started hard boiling eggs and making hard candy, of which later.
Sunday, I had volunteered to work at the church, receiving presents dropped off for adopted families. Rafts of gaily wrapped boxes came in, to be taped together and prominently labeled with the child's name. The volume was incredible. No gift cards for these people. One family dropped off a bicycle.
After that, I came home to hors d'oeurves land. First came the deviled eggs. Deviled eggs have a long association for me. Every November, my parents would drive to New Haven to see either the Harvard-Yale game, which, in cringe inducing Harvard lingo was known as "The (pronounced Thee) Game." As if there was no other. Or the Princeton-Yale game, because the Harvard-Yale game was played in Cambridge in alternate years, and my mother refused to drive to Boston.
Like most of the stuff my parents did, this was a ritual, from the argument over which house they always parked at to what was eaten at the picnic. The picnic, which, it goes without saying, included cocktails, Manhattans, I think, consisted of soup, made from one can of Campbell's cream of potato soup and one can of Campbell's cream of onion soup and a dash of curry powder, deviled eggs and fried chicken.
Football games, to me, were something you put on a dress and your school coat for, and where you watched adults laugh at the jokes at the halftime show. In 1962, when my parents went to both games because my sister went to boarding school in the Boston area, John F. Kennedy actually turned up at The Game, at the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis. My mother noted that when it came time to sing the national anthem, "Everybody sang!"
After the eggs came the baked clams. The recipe calls for 24 cherry stone or little neck clams, which are supposed to yield two-thirds of a cup of clams. A visit to The Fishery yielded 24 tiny clams, which produced around a quarter to a third of a cup. So, with small clams, the recipe has more stuffing and not a lot of clams. I minced and chopped and ground away. Finally, about 4:30, all was ready, and we carried our donations around the block to the party. They will well received by the multitudes.

Baked Clams

24 cherry stone or little neck clams
1/4 cup water
3 slices bacon cut into small cubes
1/2 pound mushrooms, caps and all, finely minced
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1/8 pound Gruyere cheese, Swiss cheese or Fontina cheese

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1 small clove garlic, finely minced

3/4 cup fine soft bread crumbs

1/3 cup finely minced heart of celery

3 tablespoons dry white wine

1 egg yolk

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Wash the clams well and place in a kettle. Add the water, cover and steam until clams open. Remove the clams and let them cool. Take the clams from the shells and chop on a flat surface. There should be about two-thirds cup chopped clams. Set aside. Reserve twenty-four shells for filling.

3. Cook the bacon in a large saucepan until bits are crisp. Do not burn. Remove the bacon bits and reserve. Pour off all but two tablespoons of fat from the saucepan. Add the mushrooms to the fast in the saucepan. Add the shallot and cook, stirring until mushrooms are wilted. Let cool.

4. Chop the Gruyere, Swiss or Fontina cheese into tiny cubes. Add with the parsley, garlic, bread crumbs, celery, wine and egg yolks to the mushroom mixture. Add salt, pepper and the reserved clams.

5. Fill reserved clam shells with the mixture and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and reserved bacon bits. Bake ten minutes or longer, and until filling is bubbly and golden brown. Serve hot. Makes six servings.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Elegant Chicken Pie

This is a picture of the pie before the crust went on.

Elegant Chicken Pie is a fantastic dish. It was wonderfully tasty, and a huge hit with the guests. I was planning to make it on Sunday for the church dinner group. The only problem was it contains sweetbreads, which are not sold in regular grocery stores. I hadn't seen sweetbreads in a butcher shop since the 70s, when we lived in Georgetown.
I asked my daughter what I should do. She suggested the Internet. I typed in butcher shops DC and got a list. On Friday we had teacher training at a renovated school in Anacostia. During the break, I went down to the end of the classroom and started calling. The first place I called was Wagshalls, a fancy deli and grocery store in AU Park. They normally had sweetbreads but they were out. The butcher suggested Union Meats on Capitol Hill. Bingo.
Saturday morning I normally go riding. I get up at 6:00 and drive out to Poolesville, have my lesson at 9:00 and drive back. This Saturday morning, I had moved my lesson to 2:00 because one of my co-workers had invited my daughter and me to a church tea on Capitol Hill. We could get the sweetbreads after the tea.
The tea turned out to be a wonderful occasion. Women in their 20s and 30s chatted animatedly over plates of cucumber sandwiches, scones and cookies. A group of women sang Christmas songs. Each table was decorated differently by the women who sponsored it. It was a warm winter day when we left. The Victorian houses of Capitol Hill were decked with wreaths. Inside the houses we could see Christmas trees set up in the bay windows.
Eastern Market suffered a terrible fire a few years ago. The city had it rebuilt almost exactly the way it was. On Saturday morning it was full of shoppers and vendors lined up outside the building, selling gloves, Christmas trees and winter vegetables. Union Meats had a huge counter running halfway down the building with red shirted butchers waiting on customers. Union Meats is the butcher shop of my dreams. Veal knuckles, veal shin, even pigs' heads. Head cheese here we come!
I left head cheese for another day and bought the sweetbreads and two chickens from the poultry vendor across the aisle. The next day, I prepared to deal with them. Sweetbreads, according to Wikkipedia, are the thymus or pituitary gland of the calf. They are covered with a membrane which must be removed. For once, Hewlitt tells us how to cope with them.
The recipe is long but not especially complicated. The invention of ready made rolled up pie crust makes putting the crust on a matter of minutes. I may never make pie crust again.

Elegant Chicken Pie

1 three pound chicken

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 cinnamon

6 tablespoons butter

1 carrot sliced

2 small white onions

1 pair sweetbreads

salted water

1/2 cup diced cooked ham

1/4 pound mushrooms sliced

juice of half a lemon

3 tablespoons cognac

3 tablespoons port wine

2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon foie gras

Rich pie pastry for one 10-inch crust

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Sprinkle the chicken inside and outside with salt and pepper. Add the nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon to the inside of the chicken.

3. Heat half of the butter in a large oven proof skillet. Add the chicken and turn to coat on all sides with butter. Let the chicken rest on one side. Add the giblets, carrot and onions and roast fifteen minutes basting often with a large spoon. Turn chicken to the other side and roast fifteen minutes, basting. Turn chicken on its back and continue roasting and basting about thirty minutes or until done. Leave chicken in the skillet while completing the dish.

4. Meanwhile soak the sweetbreads one hour and drain. Place sweetbreads in a saucepan and add salted water to cover. bring to a boil. Simmer five minutes and drain. Rinse under cold running water. Trim or pare away the skin and tubes of the sweetbreads. Slice the sweetbreads.

5. Heat remaining butter in another skillet and add sweetbread slices . Cook, turning occasionally, about two minutes. Add the ham, mushrooms and lemon juice. Cook, stirring gently once in a while, about five minutes.

6. Cut chicken into serving pieces and place in the bottom of a deep baking dish. Add the cognac and port wine to the juices in the skillet in which chicken cooked. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve. Add salt to taste and all but two tablespoons of cream. Strain this into a saucepan and add sweetbread mixture. Simmer three to four minutes.

7. Blend remaining cream with the foie gras and add to the saucepan. Pour this sauce over chicken and cover the dish with the rolled-out pastry. Bake fifteen minutes or until the crust is a rich golden brown. Makes six servings.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mustard Greens, Turnip Greens or Collard Greens

Actually, this is kale. I bought a huge bag of it for Thanksgiving, but never got to make it due to total exhaustion. Saturday night I dug it out and made some for supper. Having worked for the past 18 years in a majority black environment, I have of course eaten greens, but I have never made them before. The directions are a little ambiguous. "Simmer just until greens are tender or cook for one hour or longer." Well, which is it?
For once, Hewlitt gives us some guidance in the form of a note which explains, presumably for the New Yorkers who read her column, the differences between the various types of greens eaten in the South. "In many Southern homes the greens are cooked for several hours before serving," she says.
Well, I didn't cook the greens for several hours, more like about 15 minutes. Kale is a lot like spinach. It keeps well, better than spinach, and we have been dipping into the bag all week to put in soup, spaghetti, and to eat plain with the salt pork.

Mustard Greens, Turnip Greens and Collard Greens

3 pounds mustard greens, turnip greens or collard greens
1 onion
1/2 pound salt pork
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Trim the greens and discard hard stems. Wash the greens in several changes of cold water. Put greens in a large pot. If the greens are young and tender, they may be cooked in the water that clings to their leaves. Or add two cups of water to the kettle. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
2. Simmer just until greens are tender or cook them one hour or longer. Traditionally the greens are served with corn bread. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pumpkin Pie with Cottage Cheese

Thanksgiving 2011 may have set a record for the number of cookbook dishes produced at one meal. There were five, if you include mayonnaise, which I needed for Crevettes Paula. I have to say, I have been eying this recipe for pumpkin pie with cottage cheese for years, and have always dismissed it. Now that I finally made it, I see that dismissing it was a good thing.
The main thing that makes this recipe different from other pumpkin pie recipes is not the cottage cheese, which is probably a good, lower calorie option than the traditional canned milk, but the fact that it does not have any sugar at all in it. It does have a teaspoon of salt and a quarter of a cup of sherry. All this combines to make a not very desserty pumpkin pie.
My son, who always reviews the dishes, said it was very salty. "What did you do to it?" he demanded. My husband said we ought to just throw away the leftover pie.
He said I should say in the review, "Believe me, you don't want to eat this. I cooked this so you wouldn't have to."
Now, given Hewlitt's tendency to not test her recipes, I don't know if the lack of sugar was intentional, or merely a typo.
What I can say about this recipe that's positive, is, if you cut the salt down to a quarter of a teaspoon, left out the sherry and put in artificial sweetener, you would have a lower calorie pumpkin pie that might taste good. I would test it well before Thanksgiving before I sprang it on diabetic Aunt Minnie.
I made the pie on Wednesday night. For some reason, even though I preheated the oven, the pie didn't set. I kept having to come back to the oven, test the pie by sticking a wooden skewer into it, and set the timer for ten more minutes. Finally, I took my husband's advice and just turned the oven off and left the pie in the oven overnight. Luckily I remembered to take it out for the cookathon that ensued the following morning. Also luckily, the mice that have returned to our stove like the swallows to Capistrano did not eat it.

Pumpkin Pie with Cottage Cheese

2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup cottage cheese, sieved
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt (way too much)
1/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup dry sherry (believe me, it doesn't do anything for the pie. Leave it out.)
1 unbaked nine-inch pie shell
whipped cream

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Mix the pumpkin with the cottage cheese, ginger, cinnamon, salt and sour cream.
3. Beat the eggs with the milk and sherry and gradually stir into the pumpkin mixture. Pour into the pie shell.
4. Bake ten minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake thirty minutes longer or until set. Cool and chill. Serve cold, garnished with whipped cream. Makes six to eight servings.

Scalloped Sweets and Cranberries

This was presented as an alternative to the traditional sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. Nobody actually said much about it one way or the other. Through not reading the recipe, I mashed the sweet potatoes. They are not supposed to be mashed, although it doesn't really make much difference one way or the other.
While I was peeling and mashing, my husband was eviscerating the turkey, having read in the New York Times that turkey cooks better if you split it in half. It was actually very good, although it deprived the guests of the sight of the Norman Rockwell like turkey. We don't plonk it down and carve it at the table anyway. Bob carves it before we eat and then everyone serves themselves. It did taste better. If you want to do it next year, get yourself a really good pair of shears, because you have to cut out the backbone.
You have to make homemade cranberry sauce to make this recipe. This is not a major event. You can set it to boil while you do something else, like make a last pass with the vacuum cleaner or scrub off the sinister looking streaks on the floor, which is what I was doing when the first guest arrived.

Scalloped Sweets and Cranberries

6 sweet potatoes cooked, peeled and sliced lengthwise
1 1/2 cups homemade whole cranberry sauce
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon grated orange rind
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoon butter

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Place the sweet potato slices in a greased two-quart casserole.
3. Combine the cranberry sauce, water, brown sugar, orange rind and cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer five minutes.
4. Add the butter and pour over sweet potatoes. Bake twenty minutes. Makes six servings.


This mayonnaise is not as mayonnaise-y as the mayonnaise I made in the spring of 2010. I think it was called Blender Mayonnaise. Make mayonnaise in the blender. It's much easier, and it seems to come out better. My excuse is, I was following the directions, which said beat with a wire whisk, rotary beater, or electric mixer.
The recipe says that the cook is to place a half teaspoon of dry mustard in a bowl with a teaspoon of cold water and let it sit for ten minutes. I did that. I was pretty meticulous in following the directions, but the mayonnaise turned out thin. Maybe it is supposed to be that way. I don't know.
I had one nervous moment when I dumped about a teaspoon of cayenne pepper into the mix instead of a pinch, as required. It was okay, not incredibly hot, but hot enough to make the mayonnaise interesting.


1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon cold water
2 egg yolks
salt to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 1/4 cups peanut oil or vegetable oil

1. Place the mustard in a mixing bowl. Add the water to make a paste. Let stand ten minutes.
2. Add the egg yolks, salt, cayenne and have the vinegar or lemon juice. Start beating with a wire whisk, rotary beater or electric mixer, gradually adding the oil. Continue beating, adding the oil and remaining vinegar alternatively until all the ingredients are used. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, cayenne or vinegar if desired.
Makes one and one-half cups.

Crevettes Paula

I decided, rather than the more traditional soup, I would serve some kind of shellfish as an appetizer. Why not? The Pilgrims learned to catch shellfish from their Indian sponsors. Besides, I don't think there remains a single Thanksgiving-y soup left uncooked. We had pumpkin soup for Thanksgiving in 1987, corn soup in 1994, turnip and potato soup in 2004, and cream of spinach in 1991. The turnip and potato soup inspired the terrific line from my son, after he suspiciously asked me what was in it, and I stoutly told him it was potato soup, he said, "I'm not not going to eat it." Meaning, he was going to eat it.
So on Wednesday night, after my daughter picked me up from school at 5:00, rescuing me from the clutches of Miguel and Anthony, the tutoring kids, we went off to the seafood market to buy shrimp. I made the mistake of asking the seafood market how much I needed. If you remember the lobster rolls of May 2010, the seafood market has a habit of, shall we say, making sure that the consumer won't run out of what ever it is they are making. They sold me two and a quarter pounds, all they had left. Considering that Crevettes Paula came at the beginning of a heavy meal with a lot of side dishes, I think one pound would have been plenty.
The recipe calls for a cup of shrimp to serve three people. I think each person had at least a cup of shrimp, maybe more. So after I put the rolls in the refrigerator to rise, I began shelling shrimp. And shelling shrimp. And shelling shrimp. Shelling shrimp can be time consuming.
I cooked the shrimp according to directions in The Joy of Cooking, which says to boil them three to four minutes, or before they begin to curl up.
Mrs. Joy has a formula for figuring out how much shrimp in the shell translates to how much cooked shrimp. According to her, 2 to 2 1/2 pounds of fresh shrimp turns into one pound of cooked shrimp, or two cups. I should have read her first.
After I boiled the shrimp, I made the mayonnaise. My rule is, make mayonnaise in the blender. It comes out better. However, this said to make it with a mixer in a bowl, so I did. It was thin. However, no one complained. So I mixed the mayonnaise and the other ingredients, tossed it with the freshly cooked shrimp and stuck it in the refrigerator. Everyone seemed to like it except for daughter-in-law, who, after all, had just come from Thanksgiving dinner at her mother's, and maybe decided that she could skip the appetizer. A sensible approach.

Crevettes Paula

1 cup homemade mayonnaise
1 teaspoon finely grated onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon catchup
1 tablespoon cognac
1 cup cooked, shelled and deveined shrimp
lettuce cups

Combine the mayonnaise, onion, garlic, catchup and cognac in a bowl. Add the shrimp, toss and chill. Serve in lettuce cups. Makes three servings.

Pumpkin Rolls

Do not look for the full Thanksgiving dinner in this blog. Those recipes, for the turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce, were cooked 30 years ago. I believe I have made every single stuffing or "dressing" as they call it in the Midwest, recipe in this cookbook. In fact, the only recipe for turkey is Roast Oregon Turkey with sausage dressing, and I made that before I started putting dates next to the recipes. It just has a check mark.
I do remember Thanksgiving of what must have been 1978, when Bob and I lived in a huge, cheap apartment on Q Street in Georgetown. I was working on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and we had turkey and oyster stuffing. This was before Bob became allergic to shellfish.
Anyhow, this is strictly side dish land. I suppose, if it was going to be truly useful to the general public, I would have made my entire Thanksgiving dinner two weeks early just to blog about it. However, this is not the food section of The Washington Post. Thanksgiving dinner gets made on Thanksgiving. Also, I don't have that many readers.
When I planned the menu, I went through the cookbook asking Bob, my husband, if I could make various dishes. His response was invariably, "Make anything you want." Well, this was not exactly true, because I wanted to jettison the traditional beans cooked for a million years in favor of greens. He said okay to the greens, but somehow the beans cooked for a million years ended up still on the menu. Which was actually not such a bad thing because I never got around to the greens in the frenzy of rolls, appetizer, stuffing, yams, etc.
Well, Pumpkin Rolls were a huge success. In spite of the fact that people were probably trying to moderate their intake, and two of the guests had been to a Thanksgiving dinner previously, the diners fell upon them with glad cries and began buttering like crazy.
This is a day before recipe, which I did not read through, so thus did not begin to make the day before, as instructed. We rolled out of bed about 9:00, ate a leisurely breakfast and got to work. I started the rolls first, got the dough going and popped them into a crowded refrigerator. We invited people for 4:30 and ate around 5:30 so they probably rose about 4-5 hours. Especially if you were making the rolls for evening dinner as opposed to a midday Thanksgiving dinner, you could begin them the day you intended to eat them.
Not starting them the day before was not a problem. The dough rose in the refrigerator, I divided it into 32 equal portions, and it rose again outside the refrigerator. The rolls were a lovely deep yellow color from the pumpkin and they baked in less time than called for by the recipe. I was sitting in the living room chatting with the guests when I suddenly started to smell a burning smell. It came from one pan of rolls that were on a bottom shelf. Don't try to bake stuff on the bottom shelf. It seems to burn. People ate them nonetheless, and we foisted off the leftover burnt ones on our son and daughter-in-law the lawyers. This is a great recipe. You should definitely make this for next year's Thanksgiving dinner, or a fall harvest festival dinner, should you be hosting one.

Pumpkin Rolls

1 cup canned or homemade pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk, scalded
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup melted shortening
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
5 cups flour
melted butter

1. Day before, combine the pumpkin, sugar, salt and milk in a large bowl and beat until smooth and lukewarm.
2. Dissolve the yeast in the water and add to the lukewarm mixture. Add the shortening and lemon rind and mix well.
3. Add about half the flour and beat until batter is smooth. Add remaining flour to make a soft dough. Mix well with the hands or a wooden spoon. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. Cover dough with waxed paper and a towel and chill overnight in the refrigerator.
4. Next day, shape the dough by dividing into thirty-two equal portions. For cloverleaf rolls, make three balls out of each portion and drop into greased medium-size muffin tins. The dough may be made into other shapes if desired.
5. Brush the top of the rolls with melted butter. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about one and one-quarter hours.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
7. Bake rolls twenty-five to thirty minutes, or until done. Brush with melted butter and cool on a rack. Makes thirty-two.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cucumber Salad

This is cucumber salad from Minnesota. Simple, easy, go for it. My husband, Bob, picked it out. He put in some sugar, but not as much as called for by the recipe. Even though he is a Midwesterner by birth, he does not go for much sugar in salads. You might try adjusting the recipe to your taste.

Cucumber Salad

2 medium-size cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1. Sprinkle the cucumbers lightly with salt. Let stand ten minutes. Rinse, drain and place in serving dish.
2. Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, sugar and pepper and let stand five minutes. Pour over cucumbers and sprinkle with the parsley. Chill two hours. Makes six servings.

Chuck's Roasted Sweet Peppers

Here we ventured all the way to Northern California, and doctored the recipe to make a very good, light appetizer that doesn't stuff the guests or break the bank. My husband took Chuck's recipe and spread goat cheese and pine nuts on top. It was terrific. Chuck's way is fine too, but I liked the goat cheese and the pine nuts. Please note that this is a day before recipe. You have to roast the peppers over the burners on your stove before you start to make this recipe.

Chuck's Roasted Sweet Peppers

4 red sweet peppers
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Day before, or early in the day, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place the peppers on the oven shelf.(Or put them on the burner over an open flame.) Let roast thirty minutes. (The open flame takes less time.) or until the skins puff up and the peppers look slightly charred. (Over the open flame, they will look extremely charred.)
2. With potholders or asbestos gloves (??!!) hold the hot peppers and gently peel off the skin, saving all the juice that is released. Remove and discard the seeds. Slice the peppers into thin strips and arrange in a baking dish with the juice.
3. Sprinkle with the garlic, salt, pepper and oil and refrigerate, covered until serving time.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
5. Bake pepper strips, uncovered, twenty minutes, or until bubbling hot. Makes four servings.

Crab Stew

Another yummy New Jersey crab recipe. You really can't go wrong with crab meat and cream. I wonder if New Jersey still has its crabbing grounds. The crabbing grounds of the Chesapeake Bay are sadly depleted if the price of crab is any indication. I made this for a dinner party on Saturday night with several old friends, including Mary, a very old friend that I knew when my son was in nursery school. I actually hadn't seen her for three years.
After everyone came in and was introduced, the living room was kind of crowded, and Mary ended up in the passage between the kitchen and the living room. I grabbed her and hauled her into the addition for a tete-a-tete. After about twenty minutes, I realized that I was supposed to be cooking, and got after the crab.
It's one of these make at the last minute recipes. I had chopped up the tomatoes, shallots and mushrooms, sauteed them, and then added more tomatoes, shallots and mushrooms when my husband expostulated that we would not have nearly enough for nine people. Just before the main course, with a satisfying buzz of conversation emanating from the dining room, I added the crab and the cream. The cognac caused some consternation when I discovered we didn't have any. I was ready to stop at a liquor store and get some around 4:00 when I realized we also didn't have cream of tartar for the cake. Bob said don't worry about it, and produced a large bottle of what is probably cooking brandy, so I put that in.
It turned out that we had plenty for nine people, who were really eight because my husband, as already mentioned, does not eat shellfish. I ladled it on rather gingerly for the first few diners and was embarrassed to discover that when everyone had been served, I had a couple of hefty spoonfuls left. I tried to offer the guests a little more, but they declined. So I even had some left over for a much more deluxe lunch than my normal ham and cheese sandwich.
This is a very simple recipe that takes no more than a half an hour to make. Everyone seemed to like it.

The picture shows the stew in midpreparation, before I added the cream and the crab. In the flurry of trying to get food on the table, it's sometimes hard to remember to photograph it.

Crab Stew

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots or scallions, including green part
4 white mushrooms, thinly sliced
Juice of half a lemon
2 ripe tomatoes, peeled seeded and cubed
1 pound lump crap beat, picked over to remove bits of shell and cartilage
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
Tabasco sauce to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons warm cognac
cooked rice

1. Heat the butter in the skillet or chafing dish and add the shallots or scallions. Cook about three minutes and add the mushrooms. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and cook briefly, stirring. Add the tomatoes and simmer five minutes.
2. Add the crab meat, but treat it gently so as not to break up the lumps. Add the parsley and chives and simmer five minutes. Stir in the cream and Tabasco and add salt and pepper. Add the cognac and ignite it. Serve stew immediately with rice. Makes four to six serving.

Honey Chocolate Cake

In the late 80s, Saint Augustine's, my church, was involved in a soup kitchen called So Others Might Eat. Once a month, the parishioners brought in hot dogs, beans and cake to feed the homeless. To have something to do, and instill a social conscious in my 6 year old, he and I made cakes for SOME. We cranked out some huge number of cakes with the scrawl "for SOME" written in pencil next to the date.
Presumably I had some kind of a system in choosing which cakes to make. Either I was scared off by the long list of ingredients, or honey chocolate didn't sound good to me, and by extension, to homeless people. Anyway, honey chocolate cake was not one of the many flavors that got made in the 80s, so it was waiting for me on Friday night when I got down to making the dessert.
I didn't get around to making the cake until after 9:30 because after Bob got home, we went to Whole Foods to buy a few things for the dinner party and incidentally, our dinner. After spending a hundred dollars on what seemed like a few odds and ends, including a $32 pound of crab meat, we came home and I got to work. I sifted and beat and added and stirred, pausing just before I added the baking soda to eat some reheated manicotti. Finally, about 10:30, I got the cake into the oven and sat down in the wing chair to take a nap until it was ready to come out.
The cake turned out beautifully. The combination of honey, chocolate and orange rind forms an interesting, complex taste. There was no problem with skimpy batter. I was able to fill both cake pans to a respectable depth.
I didn't get around to frosting it until about 4:00 the following afternoon. The frosting is what is known as seven minute frosting, because it has to be beaten for 7 minutes over boiling water in order for the frosting to thicken. The recipe does indicate that the cook will be beating for more than seven minutes. I timed myself, and it took ten minutes to get a vaguely spreadable icing. The icing was white and thick. It sloooowly trickled down the side of the cake. My husband made the honey crumb topping and baked it in the oven until it became crispy. The guests loved it.

Honey Chocolate Cake

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup honey
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup orange juice
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup minus one tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
Honey Crumb Topping
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. To prepare cake, beat the shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, very well. Stir in the vanilla, honey and orange rind.
3. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. Stir dry ingredients into batter alternately with the sour cream and orange juice.
4. Divide the batter between two greased and floured nine-inch layer pans. Bake twenty-five to thirty minutes, or until done.
5. Let stand on a rack.
6. To prepare frosting, place all ingredients in the top of a double boiler over rapidly boiling water.
7. Beat constantly for about seven minutes, remove from the heat and continue to beat until frosting is the correct consistency for filling and frosting the layers. (In my case, about ten minutes.)
8. Meanwhile, increase the oven heat to 400 degrees. Combine the ingredients for the crumb topping and spread on a baking sheet. Bake twelve to fifteen minutes, stirring every three minutes.
9. The crumb topping may be stirred into the frosting before using to fill and frost the layers or may be sprinkled over the filling and the frosted cake. Makes ten servings.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ham Croquettes with Egg Sauce

Croquettes never featured in my growing up. The only person I know who makes them is Mrs. Curtiss. Her family demands them every Christmas. The only place I've ever had them in the United States is at Jaleo, the tapas restaurant and those were cod croquettes. However, in the Netherlands you can buy croquettes at every corner restaurant. I like them, but my husband is crazy about them.
I decided to branch out of New England, at least for our dinners at home, and made ham croquettes with egg sauce. This is another one of those what do we do with the leftover stuff recipes. Naturally, we didn't have leftover ham, but the Smithfield corporation, in its wisdom, has figured out that people will buy slices of their ham, even if they won't buy a whole ham. So, with a plastic wrapped slice of Smithfield ham and the food processor, I was in business.
Mrs. Curtiss made the croquettes seem like a real production, but they aren't too bad. You have to make a white sauce and mix in the ground meat, and then chill it. But thanks to the fact that my husband has been getting home close to 9:00 pm, I was able to make the sauce, mix in the ground meat, chill it and fry it.
The only drawback to making croquettes is knowing what to do with the leftover oil. You can't pour it down the drain like they do in Leicester Square, in London. A couple of years ago, the British sanitary authorities discovered a huge, boxcar sized lump of congealed fat in the drains under the square. I left it sitting on the stove for a couple of days, and finally poured it back into the bottle it came in and deposited same into the trash.
The croquettes have a couple of steps, but they are not difficult to make. With their egg sauce, they are very tasty. My husband was delighted.

Ham Croquettes with Egg Sauce

3/4 plus one third cups butter
3/4 cup flour
3 1/2 cups milk or light cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 1/2 cups finely ground cooked country ham
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
4 eggs lightly beaten
dry bread crumbs
fat or oil for deep-frying
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
light cream
6 hard -cooked eggs, chopped

1. Melt three-quarters cup of butter and blend in the flour. Gradually stir in the milk or cream. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring, three minutes.
. Place the ham in a bowl and add Worcestershire, mustard and one and one-half cups of the sauce mixed with two of the lightly beaten eggs. Set remaining sauce over hot water.
3. Mix ham and sauce and set aside to cool. Chill. Shape the cooled mixture into croquettes, dip in remaining eggs and then in the bread crumbs. Repeat if necessary to get a good coating.
4. Fry a few croquettes at a time until golden, using a fry basket, in fat or oil heated to 365 degrees. Drain on paper towels.
5. Heat remaining butter in a skillet and saute the onion in it until tender. Add the mushrooms, green pepper, sage and marjoram and cook until vegetables are tender.
5. Add enough light cream to reserved sauce to make pouring consistency. Stir in cooked vegetables and chopped eggs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve separately with croquettes. Serves six.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rich Tea Loaf

I had been meaning to make Rich Tea Loaf for over a year. However, it needed some kind of occasion to get it eaten. We don't entertain at tea, or even have what might be recognized as afternoon tea the way my New York aunt did. Up until late in her life, she got out the tea pot and tray and sat down in her huge, elegant but homey living room with the floor to ceiling windows looking out on the garden and had tea. Friends dropped by to chat, and one might meet all kinds of unexpected people.
But we don't do that. Desdefortunamente, as they say in Spanish. However, St. Margaret's, my husband's church, was celebrating its big Sunday, St. Margaret's Sunday, and put out a call for baked goods for the extra special post service refreshments. And since I was already making the Lizzies for my church bazaar this seemed like a good opportunity to knock off yet another recipe.
This is a hardy recipe. Even though I did a bunch of things I shouldn't have done, it turned out fine, a lovely, fine crumbed, pale yellow loaf with a subtle lemon flavor.
Instead of starting it before the Lizzies, because I knew it was a yeast bread and had to rise, I started it after the Lizzies. Then, we went out at 6:00 pm to the goodbye party for the church's interim minister. So instead of letting it rise for an hour, I let it rise for 12 hours. Amazingly even though I didn't oil the surface of the dough to keep it from drying out, it rose beautifully in the pan and didn't have flecks of crusty dried dough mixed through it.
I would say, do pay special attention to the instructions that say "Gradually stir in the flour to make a soft dough." I dumped in the two cups of flour and got a hard dough to which I had to add more milk. Also, the recipe says use the dough hook on your mixer. I don't have a dough hook on my mixer. I didn't knead it very long, not more than a couple of minutes.
This would be an excellent addition to a brunch, a breakfast buffet, or even a special afternoon tea. Altogether, it probably takes about four hours, so you could make it the day before and put it in the refrigerator, or make it in the morning for your afternoon tea.

Rich Tea Loaf

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/3 cup milk, scalded
1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter

1 egg lightly beaten

2 egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

3 cups flour, approximately

1. Dissolve the yeast in the water.

2 Place the milk in a large bowl and add the sugar and butter. Stir to melt butter and dissolve sugar and let cool to lukewarm.

3. Beat the egg and egg yolks together and add to the yeast. Stir into the milk mixture. Add the salt, lemon peel and lemon extract.

4. Gradually stir in the flour to make a soft dough. Beat in the bowl with dough hook of electric mixer or with a wooden spoon until smooth.

5. Place the dough in a clean greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about one and one-quarter hours.

6. Knock dough down and knead lightly on a floured board. Roll into a 10-by-14 inch rectangle and roll up from the short end. Tuck the ends under and place in a greased 9-by-5-by-3 inch loaf pan.

7. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about one hour.

8. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

9. Bake ten minutes, reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees. and bake thirty minutes longer or until done. Cool on a rack. Makes one loaf.

Friday, November 11, 2011


A call for baked goods at the church bake sale had me perking up my ears and mentally looking for New England recipes I could foist off on unsuspecting eaters. After all, Jonathan, the acupuncturist, could only be expected to eat so many cookies. He has already eaten sooo many cookies!!
On Veterans Day, after a satisfying morning of folding and putting away the innumerable baskets of clean clothes that are secreted around our house, I got down to baking.
Lizzies are fruitcakes in the form of cookies. A cursory glance at Google indicates that there does not seem to be an established kind of cookie called the Lizzie. They were in fact, a kind of cookie I had never heard of, eaten or seen. So, at one point during the process of making them, I wondered if this was the way they were supposed to turn out. The recipe makes what doesn't seem like very much of a firm dough, into which the cook mixes a pound of raisins, three-quarters of a cup of candied cherries and candied pineapple, and three cups of pecans.
I was wondering if there was enough dough to hold everything together. I also tripled the amount of milk called for just so I could mix everything up. (We're talking about 4 1/2 tablespoons of milk as versus 1 1/2 tablespoons in the original recipes. ) It worked out just fine, and was practically the first time in my career as an amateur baker that I actually made the number of cookies predicted in the recipe. That was because the cookie dough and all its fillings was not very good raw. Not like raw chocolate chip dough or sugar cookie dough. That stuff's good!
I was nearly brought up short at the beginning, when the first set of directions told me to pour half a cup of whiskey over a pound of raisins. I dug around in the pantry, uncovering the two, half empty raisin containers that I was pretty sure were in there. Okay, now for the whiskey. That could have been a problem. My husband and I are not big drinkers. In fact, because of a problem with blood clotting, he is not supposed to drink liquor at all.
I went to the bar and, lo and behold, there was not one, but two bottles of whiskey, left behind by my son when he married and moved out. Okay, raisins set to soak.
Next on the list of item searches were the spices. I have a goodly number of spices. We have enough whole cloves to stick in glazed ham for at least two years. The recipe called for ground cloves, which we also have. Then, it called for allspice. We also have allspice, but it is whole allspice. My husband dug out the ceramic mortar and pestle and ground away, producing a teaspoon of ground allspice in short order.
I followed the instructions to sift the flour, also sifting the allspice shells out of the mix, and mixed away with the mixer. The dough was so stiff it forced the mixer to grind almost to a halt, growling and protesting. When I lifted the beaters out of the dough to clear them and keep from burning out the motor, bits of dough flicked over my hand, the toaster and the coffee maker.
Finally I got all the candied cherries, pineapple, raisins and pecans mixed into the dough and plopped it onto the baking pans. The directions say to bake for 15 minutes or until browned and done. Browned took a while longer than 15 minutes, but what I discovered was that browning made them crispy, which they were not supposed to be. So the second and third batches got cooked for 15 minutes.
Even though I am not crazy about cookies with candied fruit in them, these were good with a vaguely gingerbready taste from the spices. They seemed to be popular. My husband dropped them off at the bazaar around 9 am and when I got there around 1:00, they were not in evidence.


1 pound raisins
1/2 cup whisky
1/4 cup butter
3/4 light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons milk (or more)
3/4 pound candied cherries
3/4 pound candied pineapple
3 cups chopped pecans

1. Soak the raisins in the whisky one hour until plump.
2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
3. Cream the butter and gradually beat in the brown sugar . Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Sift the flour with the baking soda and spices. Add to creamed mixture alternately with the milk.
5. Add the plumped raisins, candied cherries, candied pineapple, and pecans. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto buttered baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes or until browned and done. Cool on a rack. Store in airtight container or freeze. Makes about 4 dozen.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Farmer's Market Caesar Salad

Since all the salads of New England have passed under my knife and into my salad bowl, (except for clam salad, which still remains lonely and uncooked, surrounded by recipes bearing dates, splotches and smears,) I decided that it made more sense to go to a salad recipe in another part of the cookbook than be a purist and stick with New England. The Farmers Market in this recipe refers to the Los Angeles Farmers Market.
One does not have to go through all the folderol of combining oil and garlic, removing the garlic and adding each ingredient to the lettuce,l tossing and moving on to the next ingredient. You can just make the dressing in a jar and pour it over the lettuce before serving. Your kitchen is not, after all, The Palm or some other hoity-toity French restaurant of 1965 where the coolest thing the chef did was make Caesar Salad. Dice the garlic as fine as possible for God's sake, and keep it in the dressing. Also, nowadays, one can buy perfectly acceptable croutons. You do not have to make your own, and I don't think much is gained by doing it yourself.

Farmers Market Caesar Salad

3/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed (diced, diced!)
1 cup stale French bread cubes
3 heads romaine lettuce, washed and dried.
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 egg cooked for one minute in boiling water
1 large lemon halved
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
8 anchovy fillets chopped
1/3 freshly grated Romano cheese or Parmesan cheese

1. Day before, combine the oil and garlic and let stand overnight.
2. Next day, remove garlic and discard. Heat one=quarter cup of the oil in a skillet and brown the bread cubes in it on all sides. Drain and reserve.
3. Place the lettuce in a salad bowl. Add the remaining oil, salt and pepper and toss. Break and add the contents of the eff. Toss again.
4. Squeeze the lemon halves over the salad. Add the Worcestershire, anchovies and cheese. Toss. Add the bread cubes and toss again. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Evelyn's Cheesecake

The Evelyn of Evelyn's Cheesecake was Evelyn Sharp of New York State. Little did I know until this minute that Evelyn Sharp is a very distinguished name, held by no less than three news makers who lived in various places in various eras.
First came the British Evelyn Sharp, who was a notable feminist and mover and shaker in the suffragette movement in England. Second came Evelyn Sharp of Nebraska, who was one of the first women pilots in Nebraska, and worked in the Army Air Corps during World War II, ferrying lanes from the factories to where the armed forces needed them. She died in a plane crash in 1944.
Third was Evelyn Sharp of New York City, owner of the Stanhope Hotel, the Gotham Hotel, the Saranac Inn in Saranac Lake, N.Y. and the Beverly Wiltshire. Her obituary described her as a philanthropist. She sat on the boards of Planned Parenthood, the Lexington Center for the Deaf and the Associates of the California Institute of Technology. She set up a foundation to benefit the arts. Evelyn Sharp of New York City died in 1997 at the age of 94. Regrettably, her obituary in the New York Times fails to mention cheesecake. So do the obituaries of the others. Votes for women, flying and art, but no cheesecake.
While we really don't know who devised the cheesecake recipe, my money is on Evelyn Sharp, the philanthropist.
This was made and eaten at the preHalloween dinner party. Again, I wasn't here to make it. My husband took over and even tampered with the recipe in best Berkshire Farmer style. While the original recipe calls for three cups of cottage cheese, he substituted a cup of whipped cream cheese for a cup of cottage cheese. He said he was worried about the texture. The end product was excellent. Cheesecake is one of those creations that can and should be made the night before a party, placed in the refrigerator and forgotten about until the strategic hour.

Evelyn's Cheesecake

2 cups zwieback crumbs (zwieback is or was a cracker for teething babies.)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice.
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup light cream
3 cups creamed cottage cheese
(or two cups cottage cheese and 1 cup whipped cream cheese)
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
l/4th of a cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. To prepare crust, combine all ingredients. Reserve3/4 cup of the crumb mixture. With a spoon, press the remaining mixture into bottom and sides of an eight-inch springform pan.
3. To prepare filling, beat the eggs with an electric mixer on low speed until light. Add the sugar gradually, then add the lemon juice, salt, cream, cottage cheese, flour and lemon rind. Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle top with reserved crumb mixture and the walnuts.
4. Bake one hour. Turn off oven heat, leave the door ajar and let cake cool in the oven one hour. Chill on rack in the refrigerator. Remove sides of pan before serving cake. Makes 10 to one dozen servings.

Lamb on a Spit

First of all, let me say right off, you don't have to roast this leg of lamb on a spit, which most of us, I would hazard, don't have unless you happen to be someone who spends $5,000 for a gas barbecue grill.
We had an electric broiler with a spit when I was growing up. It was about two and a half feet long and about 18 inches high. My mother got it out on Sunday evenings for our standard dinner of broiled chicken, white rice and spinach. She seasoned the split chicken halves by ladling a spoonful of bacon fat over them, and shoved them in the broiler, where they sizzled and popped. Occasionally, I remember whole chickens or possibly Cornish Game Hens rotating before my fascinated eyes.
But anyway, you don't need a spit to cook this excellent recipe for lamb, and that's according to Hewlett, not me and my winging the recipe. I confess, this dish was actually produced by a guest cook on the blog, to whit, my husband. We had invited people to dinner on the Saturday night before Halloween over a month earlier. The chief guest and his wife got tangled up in a whole series of National Public Radio functions, so we had to quick phone around for more invitees.
I had fully intended to be the chef, and then found myself taking a sudden trip to Worcester, Massachusetts, and driving back on Saturday afternoon in the snowstorm. I normally choose shellfish for these dinners because the fish section is endless. ( If you don't like fish, don't expect it to get any better when we finally get through New England somewhere about 2015. The next region is the South, and it's full of fish too.) However, we had a leg of lamb in the freezer and I had relatively little cash in my bank account, so leg of lamb it was. Which was actually a good thing from my husband's point of view. It's bad enough giving a dinner party where you can't eat the main dish. It's worse when you have to cook something you can't eat.
Now, you don't need a spit for this recipe, but you do need time. This is a three days before recipe. Or at least that's what it says. I think ours marinated for Friday and Saturday. It also takes one hell of a lot of wine. My husband used up two bottles of Two Buck Chuck red (Trader Joe's generic red wine) from the party the night before the wedding.
The guests loved the meat, and so did we. They did not seem to love the sauce, or perhaps in the flood of conversation about hiking, children, Waterbury, Connecticut and our religious origins, they didn't notice it. Anyway, it was untouched all evening.

Lamb on a Spit

1/2 cup plus two tablespoons olive oil
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely minced
1/2 cup finely minced celery
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
4 bay leaves
6 sprigs parsley
2 whole cloves
1 clove garlic crushed
6 cups dry red wine or dry white wine
2 cups wine vinegar
2 teaspoons thyme
1 six pound leg of lamb, boned and tied
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat one-half cup of the oil and add the carrot, onion, shallots and celery. Cook, stirring, until onion is wilted.
2. Add one tablespoon salt, the peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley, cloves, garlic, wine, wine vinegar, and one teaspoon of the thyme. Simmer slowly thirty minutes. Cool thoroughly.
3. Pour the marinade over the meat. Let stand three days in the refrigerator, turning occasionally.
4. When ready to roast, drain the meat one hour before cooking, reserving marinade. Rub meat with remaining oil, remaining thyme and salt and pepper to taste.
5. If the spit is used, roast the lamb to the desired degree of doneness, basting occasionally with a little of the marinade. The time will depend on the intensity of the heat and proximity to the fire. If the meat is to be roasted in the oven, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the lamb in a roasting pan and roast, basting occasionally with a little of the marinade, fifteen to twenty minutes a pound.
6. When the meat is cooked, a sauce may be made with the drippings. To do this, pour off the fat and stir into the drippings, bit by bit, butter kneaded with equal parts of flour. The sauce should be thin. Makes 10 servings.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Jan Hagel

Jan Hagel are Dutch bar cookies. According to the website the name means "Johnny Hail" or an unruly mob. The recipe on globalcookies is far more complicated than the recipe in the cookbook, which is actually simplicity itself. Globalcookies says you need something called "rock sugar," which you then wrap in a towel and beat with a mallet. The website explains that the little grains of sugar are thought to resemble hail. None of that needed here.
These are excellent cookies. Honestly, you can't go wrong with these ingredients. The main ingredients are butter and sugar, with half a cup of almonds on top. They are supposed to be thin, but we packed ours into a roasting pan, much smaller than the dimensions of the pan given in the cook book, so our yield was smaller.
We made them on Thursday evening after I was picked up at school after tutoring. I was disappointed with my tutees, since I hadn't met with them in two weeks, and they didn't know their Dolch words.
Dolch words are also known as high frequency words. Something like 50 percent of all the words in everything we read are Dolch words. So, you've got to learn how to read them, and Elena and Miguel couldn't. I solved the problem by having the kids dictate a story using the Dolch words. Miguel, the only boy in the group, went along with the choice of topic, (a prince and princess dog) as long as the story contained a dragon. I hoped that since they had written the story themselves, (or dictated it) they would be willing to read it over and over with their families so eventually, they would learn the Dolch words.
It was good to talk to a reasonable adult, and I was perfectly ready to bake again. I did have to run off to Safeway , which was virtually empty at 6:30 pm, which is witching hour for the commuters at Whole Foods who throng in in their hundreds, buy the prepared food and throng out again. You'd think somebody at Safeway would keep an eye out for the competition. I bought almonds, internally commiserating with the clerk, who is also the guy behind the counter at the deli, and went off to make the cookies.
Aside from making them in a too small bowl, so when I pulled the beaters out of the dough to clean them off, I sprayed dough all over my hand and the toaster and the wall, they were ready quickly, and were delicious. Go for it. Gobalcookies says they are a holiday cookie, so there's your excuse.

Jan Hagel

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
one egg separated
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup chopped, blanched almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream together the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk very well.
3. Sift together the flour and cinnamon and stir into the creamed mixture. Spread in a greased 10-by-15 inch jellyroll pan.
4. Beat the water and egg white together lightly. Brush over the top of the cake ans sprinkle with the almonds. Bake twenty to twenty five minutes or until golden brown. (Mine took a little longer.) Cut into squares or bars while hot. Makes three to four dozen.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Beets with Orange Sauce

For some reason, beets have never held a huge appeal for me, at least as a cook. I don't know why this is. I love beet soup. My mother used to make this wonderful cold beet soup in the summertime, which we would dollop sour cream into. Beet greens are good too. The French know how to use beets in salad. I ate beet salad all over France in 1973 on my post college trip.
But beets don't show up on our family menu much at all.

Frankly, if it wasn't for this blog project, beets with orange sauce would never show up. Way too 50s if you ask me. Again, golden beets were the only beets available, so the whole effect was rather yellow. I also did not have cornstarch. I substituted arrowroot, which is supposed to have the same thickening effect. My husband told me that I should not use as much as the recipe called for, so I didn't. It also did not thicken the way it was supposed to, so if you don't have cornstarch, get some before undertaking the recipe.

We ate the beets with short ribs. Tasted fine.

Beets with Orange Sauce

2 bunches beets

boiling water

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

3/4 cup orange juice

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons grated orange rind

1/8 tablespoon ground allspice

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons butter

1. Scrub the beets and cut off the tops. leaving one inch attached. Place in a saucepan and add boiling water to cover. Add the vinegar and cook until tender, about twenty minutes.

2. Drain beets, reserving some liquid. Skin the beets, then slice or dice them and keep warm.

3. Strain enough reserved beet liquid to yield one-quarter-cup Combine with the orange juice, lemon juice, orange rind and allspice. Add the cornstarch slowly.

4. Bring to a boil, stirring and cook until sauce thickens. Stir in the honey and butter and pour over the beets. Makes four to six servings.