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.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chocolate Surprise Cookies

This week involved a perfect extravaganza of baking on our part, and eating on the part of the acupuncturist, who finally asked us not to bake anymore because it was affecting his complexion. On Sunday, we made Chocolate Surprise Cookies. Now, I always feel that the word surprise in a recipe can be substituted with the phrase "watch out".
"Surprise! We're putting some weird unsuitable ingredient into your food. Hope it's edible!" Well, so it was with these cookies. The weird unsuitable ingredient was mushrooms. Now, the cookbook doesn't give any history for the recipes. We don't know what force moved some anonymous Pennsylvania cook to add mushrooms to chocolate cookie dough. I suspect, however, it was a recipe contest sponsored by the Kennett Square mushroom growers. Our creative anonymous cook decided that entries in the dessert section would be slim, so she would improve her chances of winning by figuring out how she could add mushrooms to cookies.
And she did okay. They were perfectly decent cookies. The mushrooms didn't add or detract from the taste. They were a conversation starter, as the acupuncturist, whose name is Jonathan, offered them to clients. Jonathan's clients, who are generally old, grew up in the sixties, so that sparked witty comments about the type of mushrooms in the cookies. The clients seemed to like them, and Jonathan certainly did.
The recipe called for glace cherries. Wikkipedia says glace cherries are candied cherries, boiled in sugar syrup. We put in maraschino cherries, easier and cheaper than tracking down real glace cherries. I have to confess, we also left out the amaretti crumbs, macaroons not being available.

Chocolate Surprise Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 ounces (two squares) unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 fine macaroon (amaretti) crumbs
1/2 cup chopped glace cherries
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh mushrooms

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy.
3. Beat in the egg, vanilla and almond extract. Stir in the melted chocolate.
4. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and stir into the batter alternately with the sour cream. Stir in the remaining ingredients.
5. Drop by teaspoonfuls, two inches apart onto a lightly greased baking sheet and bake about fifteen minutes, or until lightly browned. Makes about four dozen. (Ours were bigger, so they made fewer.)

Red Flannel Hash

When you look at the accompanying picture of this dish, you may ask yourself, "Why is this called red flannel hash?" Well, one of the active ingredients is beets. Beets are red, right? Well, at present, what seems to be available in the stores are golden beets. So what we have here is gold flannel hash.
What we ate, because of the guest cook on the blog, was modified, more healthy red flannel hash. My husband baked it instead of frying it, and mixed a half cup of chicken stock and an egg into it to make it hang together. Red flannel hash, according to Wikkipedia's article on New England cooking, is a staple New England dish. They don't say why. I do remember, growing up, that something called Harvard Beets were a staple in the restaurants we went to. So it was probably normal, in some circles, to toss beets into the hash. It was good, and we ate when I got home, at 9:00 pm rather than at 11:00 as we would have if I had cooked.

Red Flannel Hash

3 cups finely diced cooked corned beef
2 cups finely diced cooked potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Peanut oil

1. Combine the corned beef and potatoes in a mixing bowl.
2. Melt the butter and cook the onions in it until thoroughly wilted. Add the Worcestershire, salt and pepper and blend lightly.
3. Brush a skillet with oil and spoon the corned beef mixture into the skillet, pressing down to cover the bottom fully. Cook over moderate heat until well browned on the bottom.
4. Serve with catchup if desired.
Serves 4.