Friday, October 26, 2012

Eggplant and Chicken Liver Casserole

Longtime readers will know that eggplant is vegetable non grata in my house, or at least with my husband Bob. So, in order to make all the recipes in the cookbook, I have to foist some of  them on other eaters. This one was really a foisting. I have to say, this is not a good recipe. If you are particularly fond of both eggplant and chicken livers, you might improve this recipe by adding onions and garlic. The way it is, eh, I wouldn't bother.
It did have one benefit, that of bringing chicken livers into the house, where they could be fed to our elderly corgi, who is, I fear, not long for this world. He had essentially stopped eating, but chicken livers piqued his appetite, and now he is eating two meals a day.
I made the casserole for a potluck lunch that was to take place after an equestrian games event at the stable where the horse boards. If the idea of playing games on horseback seems weird, it's pretty common in England where they call it a gymkhana.  Usually, I believe children do it, but here, it was just a bunch of women having fun with their horses.
My horse is usually not Mr. Cooperative. He does certain things well, and other things he does not do. He does not like to go on trail rides. He is a dressage horse. He belongs in the ring. I didn't think he would play games, but he went along with it pretty well. In something called the carrot race, where the horse is supposed to trot after its rider, who is brandishing a carrot, he did not run out of the ring and back to his stable. He actually trotted after the carrot.
He did not kick the bejesus out of my partner's horse during the ribbon race, where two riders had to ride side by side, each holding the end of a piece of crepe paper.
When it came time to eat, one woman had brought an excellent cheese dip and crackers, some one else brought chips and salsa, and I brought the casserole. Most people left some on their plates. It wasn't great.  I gave the leftovers to Anna, the woman who runs the stable, for her workers, who are living in her house while their burned out trailer is being replaced.

Eggplant and Chicken Liver Casserole

2 medium size eggplants
Boiling salted water
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound chicken livers
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste
cayenne pepper to taste
3/4 cup soft bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Trim off and discard the ends of the eggplants. Cut the eggplants into one-inch cubes. Barely cover with boiling salted water and simmer until tender, about ten minutes. (About 20 minutes is more like it.) Drain in a colander. Empty the eggplant into a mixing bowl and mash with a fork.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Heat two tablespoons of the butter in a skillet. Add the chicken livers and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook livers until brown on all sides, then chop livers in the skillet. Add them to the eggplant.
4. Heat two tablespoons of the remaining butter in the same skillet. Add the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until mushrooms are wilted. Add them to the eggplant mixture.
5. Stir in the eggs, beating thoroughly. Add the parsley, cream, nutmeg, cayenne, and all but two tablespoons of the bread crumbs. Add all but two tablespoons of the cheese. Mix well and pour the mixture into a one quart casserole.
6. Sprinkle with the remaining bread crumbs and cheese and dot with the remaining butter.  Bake twenty-five to thirty minutes. Makes six to eight servings.

Florida Keys Red Snapper

Saturday evening, I made something from the cookbook just for the two of us. Bob doesn't mind fish as long as it isn't shellfish, so I settled on this. The down side is, this dish is not gluten free. I imagine that somewhere it is possible to find gluten free breadcrumbs, but I don't know where.
My fish store, The Fishery, in Chevy Chase, DC didn't have a whole red snapper, which was all to the good, since it would have been way too much for the two of us. I bought a piece and perched the stuffing and toppings on top.
It does not involve a lot of finicky heating and stirring, or folding, or any of those arduous cooking tasks where you are not sure what the finished product is going to look like, or is even supposed to look like. Basically, you make stuffing, stuff the fish, put various sliced fruits and vegetables on top, wrap it in aluminum foil and bake it. We took a break from baseball, since the Tigers had signed, sealed and delivered the Yankees on Thursday night, and the Giants were overcoming jetlag to go after the Cardinals on Sunday night.

Florida Keys Red Snapper

1 three-pound to four pound red snapper
Peanut oil or vegetable oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
2 scallions, including green part, chopped
2 cups toasted soft bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds
6 thin tomato slices
6 thin onion slices
6 thin orange slices
6 thin lime slices
juice of half a lime

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Rub the fish lightly with oil and sprinkle inside and outside with salt and pepper.
3. Melt the butter and cook the chopped onions, celery, green pepper, and scallions in it until onion is wilted. Stir in the bread crumbs, parsley and almonds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stuff the fish with the mixture and tie with string.
4. Place the fish on a length of aluminum foil and add alternating, slightly overlapping slices of tomato, onion, orange and lime. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and lime juice. Bring up the edges of the foil and secure it envelope style. Bake thirty minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Makes four to six servings.

Rum Walnut Pie (Gluten Free)

As I mentioned in the recipe for chicken spaghetti, Rum Walnut Pie, whether gluten free or not, is a time consuming recipe. I told myself I wanted to get it done by 1:30 or thereabouts, so the pie would have plenty of time to set. I ended up finishing it around 4:00. But, nonetheless, it set nicely, and did not have to be slopped out of the pan with a spoon.
If you readers are thinking that rum and walnuts are a dispiriting combination, never fear, it also contains chocolate!
Most of the time consumingness lay in step 5. "Heat over simmering water until the mixture thickens and just coats the back of the spoon." Hmmm. Well, I heated and stirred, (because if you leave egg mixtures in a double boiler and don't stir them, you end up with scrambled eggs) and heated and stirred. After 45 minutes of this sweaty business, I finally decided that the mixture was fractionally thicker.
My husband stepped in with soothing words and whisked it for a while, off the heat, which made it thicker. Someday, I would like to take a course in the chemistry of cooking.
To make this gluten free, I used almonds, and, I confess, the walnuts that were supposed to go in the filling. I carefully bought almonds, but failed to notice that they were roasted and salted, not raw. So, I ran the handful of raw almonds from the cupboard through the food processor, and, when it didn't look like enough, I tossed in the half a cup of walnut pits I had for the filling. (After the fact, I learned that one can buy gluten free almond meal from Trader Joes.)
From there, I added the 1/4 cup melted butter and two tablespoons sugar called for in the recipe and pressed it into a pie pan. I baked it for ten minutes as called for, and then labored away on the filling. This is an excellent dessert for the hot months, which seem now to be stretching from April to October, instead of June to September, the way it used to be.
The other aspect of this pie that takes lots of time is that it is two-tone. The cook makes the filling without the chocolate, lets it chill for an unspecified amount of time (15 minutes is good),  adds the whipped egg whites and whipped cream and puts half of it into the pie shell. Then, she/he mixes the cocoa powder and walnuts with the rest of it, lets it chill for another unspecified while, and then spoons that into the pie shell, giving a layered effect. A word to the wise: while all this chilling is going on, set a timer. It is very easy to  sit down for what you think is going to be five minutes to watch the ball game, and three innings later find you have a bowlful of jelled mixture that won't combine with anything.

Run Walnut Pie

Pie Crust
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs (or almond meal or finely chopped almonds)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup grated for very finely chopped (in food processor) walnuts
1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 cup sugar
1 envelope plus one teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk or light cream
3 eggs separated
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 cup heavy cream whipped
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (three is better)
3 tablespoons hot water
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
whipped cream and walnut halves for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. To prepare pie crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, walnuts and melted butter. Mix well and press over the bottom and sides of a nine-inch pie plate to form a crust.
3. Bake ten minutes. Cool and chill.
4. To prepare filling, combine one-quarter cup of the sugar, the gelatin and salt in the top of a double boiler. Stir in the milk or cream. Beat the egg yolks lightly and stir in.
5. Heat over simmering water until the mixture thickens and just coats the back of a spoon. (This will probably take somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 minutes.) Remove from heat and stir in the rum.
6. Cool and chill until mixture starts to thicken.
7. Beat the egg whites until stiff and gradually beat in the remaining sugar. Fold into the chilling filling. Fold in the whipped cream. Turn one cup of mixture into the chilled crust.
8. Mix the cocoa powder with the water, cool slightly and fold into remaining pie filling along with the chopped walnuts. Chill in bowl until filling starts to set. Spoon over the white filling in the pie shell and chill until firm, at least four hours.
9. If desired, garnish with whipped cream and walnut halves before serving.
Serves 6.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chicken Spaghetti

Chicken Spaghetti is from Mississippi, which explains why you are told to put Cheddar cheese on it. My family found this weird. "Cheddar cheese on spaghetti?" they exclaimed with their Northern noses in the air. They also all liked it and asked for seconds. So there.
I made it for the yms who have patiently eaten their way through my fish servings for two years or more. I'm not entirely sure my daughter-in-law likes fish. But, since she is the politest person on the planet, she would never, ever say so.  My son loves spaghetti. On his birthday, growing up when he could have asked for anything at all to eat, he used to request spaghetti. I used to think that was weird. When I was growing up, and was going back to school, I always asked for standing rib roast of beef for what I thought of as the condemned man's last meal. In the family, we referred to it as "noble sight" because the Fanny Farmer cookbook had a picture of a standing rib roast next to the recipe for Yorkshire pudding. Underneath were the words, "A standing rib roast is a noble sight." But, he likes spaghetti.
This is one of those long recipes. I started cooking around 12:30 and didn't finish until 6:00 in between sneaking peeks at the Tigers-Yankees game. Even though we're all in mourning around here for the Nationals' ninth inning collapse on Friday night, I couldn't resist the opportunity to watch the Yankees get taken to the cleaners.
I have to care about one of the teams in order to get into the baseball playoffs. Either it's because I have been to their stadium, or because they haven't won the World Series in a long time, or because they have a cool mascot. (Remember the Rally Monkey the Angles had on their scoreboard in 2002? I like October baseball as theatre.)
I used to be a Yankees fan in the 90s when they were cool. But after they won their 46th million World Series and fired Joe Torre, they were no longer cool, they were the Evil Empire. Then I became a Red Sox fan. Then they won the World Series twice in four years, broke their curse and became less fun. I'm glad they won the World Series, but fans stopped doing completely insane things like dredging ponds that Babe Ruth may or may not have thrown a piano into in 1923. I mean, I ask you. It probably costs several thousand dollars to dredge a pond. And if that man did find a piano, what difference would it have made to the Red Sox? So now I'm rooting for Detroit to win the World Series.
 I would not suggest serving chicken spaghetti with Rum Walnut pie unless you are exceptionally well organized and make the pie the night before. Sunday was a smack down beautiful fall day,  just the thing for a walk on the C & O Canal, or to Starbucks, or what have you. But I got to experience it through trips to the trash cans in the alley where we hauled out moldy boxes of wet carpet tile that had been lurking in the furnace room for years.
I'm not complaining, mind you. I like cooking. I like having people to dinner. But it did take a lot of time.
Chicken spaghetti is kind of like spaghetti lasagna. You make a roux to mix the tomato sauce into, along with sauteed onions, peppers and mushrooms. There are just a lot of steps involved, and the same thing with Rum Walnut pie. So if you are wedded to this menu, try to do things ahead, like cook the chicken.  One does not have to make the entire amount. I cut the recipe in half and had leftovers for Bob's lunch.

Chicken Spaghetti

2 three-pound chickens
2 whole ribs celery
1 carrot, cut into rounds
2 sprigs parsley
1 onion, studded with two whole cloves
salt to taste
12 peppercorns
8 tablespoons butter
2 green peppers, cored, seeded and chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
5 tablespoons flour (I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Flour)
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups tomato sauce
2 pounds spaghetti
2 cups freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese
French bread
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Place the chickens in a heavy kettle and add the whole celery ribs, carrot, parsley and onion studded with cloves. Add water to cover, salt and peppercorns. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer until chickens are tender, about forty-five minutes to one hour. Remove the chickens from the broth and when they are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones. Discard bones and skin and reserve the meat, keeping it covered. Meanwhile, continue cooking the chicken broth until it is reduced and has more body. (Every so often, taste the broth. Broth with "more body" will have more flavor.)
2. Melt half the butter in a skillet and cook the peppers, chopped onion and chopped celery in it until vegetables are nearly tender. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until mushrooms give up their juices. (Mushrooms will kind of sweat while cooking.) Continue cooking until most of the liquid is evaporated and the vegetables are tender. Reserve until ready to use.
3. Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan and add the flour, stirring it with a wire whisk. When blended, add two cups of the hot chicken broth and cook, stirring vigorously with the whisk until the mixture is thickened and smooth. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, five to fifteen minutes. Add the cream, blend well, and return to a boil. Add the tomato sauce. Combine the sauce, chicken and mushroom mixture. The sauce should have a medium thickness. To thin it, add a little broth.
4. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions until it is nearly, but not thoroughly cooked.(The spaghetti will cook slightly when it is reheated in the sauce.) Drain the spaghetti.
5. Use a roasting pan or other large cooking utensil and pour in a layer of sauce and a layer of spaghetti. sprinkle with the Cheddar cheese. Continue making layers until all the sauce, spaghetti and Cheddar cheese are used, ending with a layer of cheese. This dish may be made in advance to this point.
6. If spaghetti is allowed to stand, it will absorb much of the sauce and it may be necessary to add more chicken broth. The spaghetti should be amply steeped in sauce, but not runny.
7. When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
8. Place the pan in the oven and heat spaghetti and sauce until hot and bubbling, but do not overcook. Serve on hot plates with loaves of French bread and grated Parmesan cheese. Makes one dozen to 15 servings.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cider Apples (Gluten Free)

This  is a terrific fall dessert, easy, tasty and healthy to boot. It's just the thing to serve the family on a cold, windy evening after you have returned from the apple orchard/pumpkin patch with a huge bag of apples and a bottle of cider. Must have cider. It calls for 1/4 cup grenadine syrup.
According to Wikipedia, my all purpose reference source, grenadine is a non-alcoholic syrup that used to be made with pomegranate juice, sugar and water. Now it's made with evil, high-fructose corn syrup, and a bunch of chemicals, so as far as I'm concerned, you can just leave it out. That's what I did because I forgot to buy some, but hey, it was a good move.
You may want to know what barely tender means and how would you know when the apples are barely tender. The point is, you don't want the apples to get mushy. So stick an apple slice with a knife before you put it in the cider to see how it feels. You want it to be just a little softer than that. So stick the knife in after the apples have been poaching for three or four minutes. They should allow the knife to go in somewhat more easily.

Cider Apples

4 cups cider
6 whole cloves
1 two inch piece cinnamon stick
2 slices fresh ginger root
6 apples, peeled, cored and cut into three-quarter-inch slices
1/4 cup grenadine syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot

1. Combine the cider, cloves, cinnamon stick and ginger root in a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer fifteen minutes. (If you prefer sweet desserts, one half cup sugar, or more to taste, can be added to the cider mixture.)
2. Add the apple slices and poach until barely tender. Remove apple slices to a serving dish and keep warm.
 3. Add the grenadine to the cider syrup and boil to reduce the quantity by half. (If you aren't using grenadine, you honestly can leave this step out. The syrup will be a little less syrupy, but, so what?) Strain the syrup, measure it and then thicken with one and one-half teaspoons arrowroot mixed with a little cold water for each cup of the syrup. Pour over the apples. Serves six.

Brunswick Stew

This is a good recipe for the fall. It also can be set on the stove to simmer while the cook goes about her business elsewhere. The ingredients are not exotic or extremely expensive, although you do have to make sure you have them.
Its origins are obscure. It might come from Brunswick County, Virginia or from Brunswick, Georgia. The explanation I like best is was provided by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, the author of the famous young people's book, The Yearling, who said it may have come from Braunschweig, Germany and was said to have been a favorite of Queen Victoria. So you can tell  your guests you are feeding them the food of royalty. There are several different recipes for Brunswick stew, some containing squirrel, rabbit, etc. This one is just chicken, ma'am.
 Our freezer is like the black hole of Calcutta, so I failed to look carefully enough for frozen corn. I had to leave it out. The recipe may be gluten-free, but I'm not sure about Worcestershire sauce, so make sure. It was enjoyed at the party and even provided leftovers.
It is kind of a "few hours before" recipe, because the chicken has to be cooked. Bob went to Whole Foods on Saturday morning and bought a free range chicken to get a jump on things. When I came back from riding, the chicken had already finished simmering on the stove.
We were actually able to finish cooking, take showers, (a good thing in my case. No one wants to sit down to dinner wondering if there is a horse lurking in the kitchen.), and sit down for a minute before the guests got there.
This dish may seem bland to today's taste buds. The salt and pepper goes into the water to cook the chicken, and since you are using the broth in the stew, it may be salty enough. Taste it before you bring it to the table.

Brunswick Stew

1 three pound chicken, cut into serving pieces
8 cups fresh or canned chicken broth (or use half chicken broth and half water)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup diced uncooked bacon
1 cup chopped onions
2 cups peeled ripe tomatoes or one one pound-three-ounce can tomatoes, drained
2 cups peeled, diced raw potatoes
2 cups fresh baby lima beans or one ten-ounce package frozen (You may have to do what I did and resort to canned limas, since the Safeway in Potomac didn't seem to have frozen limas.)
2 cups corn kernels, cut from the cob (about eight ears) (or one ten ounce package frozen corn
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce or to taste
2 tablespoons butter (I used margarine because Pat can't eat dairy products.)

1. Place the chicken in a kettle and add the broth. Bring to a boil and add salt and pepper. Simmer until chicken is tender, about one hour, skimming surface frequently to remove fat and foam. Remove chicken from kettle, but let stock continue to boil to reduce slightly.
2. When chicken pieces are cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones. Discard bones and skin.
3. Return meat to kettle and add the bacon, onions, tomatoes, potatoes and lima beans. Simmer one hour, skimming surface as necessary to remove all fat. Stir frequently so stew does not stick.
Add to corn and cook ten minutes longer. When done, stew should be a thickened mass. Stir in the Worcestershire and butter. Serve piping hot.  Makes six to eight servings.

Baked Crab and Shrimp (Gluten Free)

Saturday night we had a dinner party with friends Nancy and Dave and Pat. Nancy and Dave's son just got married at a lovely wedding in Jackson Hole, Wyoming during the Nationals' race for first place of the National League East. Periodically, during the festivities, I would sidle up to Dave to ask him what the score was, since he seemed to be the only person at the wedding besides me who actually cared whether the Nationals got there or not. Plus,  he had an iPhone. In fact, nearly everyone there had an iPhone, and the groom's sister has embarked on a business manufacturing covers for iPhones. But, like I said, Dave cared about the Nationals.
We had a lively evening talking about baseball and other stuff. This recipe was perfect for an appetizer since it neither contained flour nor dairy products, which Pat can't eat and I shouldn't eat.  It is also pretty fast to put together and tasty.

Baked Crab and Shrimp

1 medium-size onion (baseball sized) finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium size green pepper finely chopped (You want something smaller than the giants that inhabit the supermarket.)
1 cup shopped celery
1 1/2 cups flaked crab meat
1 1/2 cups roughly cut cooked and cleaned shrimp (I bought little shrimp and didn't cut them up.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup buttered soft bread crumbs (omit if you have gluten issues.)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2 Saute the onion the the butter and combine with the other ingredients except the bread crumbs. Divide mixture among eight greased shells or ramekins and top with crumbs. Bake twenty-five minutes or until bubbly hot.
Makes eight servings.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Vermont Mincemeat

Since I am newly retired, I made a promise to devote myself to the blog and clear up a bunch of New England recipes. Most of the New England recipes lurk in the Miscellaneous section, which includes jams, relishes, chutneys, and in general foods that have to be "put up", i.e. canned. It's sort of exhausting, and perhaps a trifle pointless. Honestly, what am I going to do with six to eight quarts of mincemeat, on top of the two and a half quarts I made Monday? I guess my scheme is to give all these jams and weird marmalades to people for Christmas.
Vermont mincemeat contains actual meat, which is not always the case with mincemeat. It is the original day before recipe, since the first ingredient listed is two pounds of cooked roast beef. So, on Monday night, we had roast beef for dinner. The pound measurements are a little tricky. I don't have a scale so some of this stuff was approximate. It is easy to figure out with things like raisins, but when you buy apples at a farmers market and don't weigh them out, you may not be quite sure how many pounds of apples you have there.
This recipe contains some ingredients that will probably not be available until the first of November in your local grocery store. To whit, diced candied fruit peels. These are ordered before Thanksgiving, and not kept on the shelves until Christmas, as I found last year when I went to make Lizzies, a sort of fruitcake cookie. Safeway does have currents, but you would be better off just doing what I did and ordering them on the Internet. is a useful resource for the diced candied fruit peel, citron, currents, and other stuff that the grocery store considers "seasonal."
It also contains a pound of beef suet. This, you can get at a butcher shop. I lucked out at Wagshalls on Massachusetts Avenue. I was afraid I would have to go down to the Eastern Market, which is about eight blocks south of the Capitol.
I would not attempt this recipe without a food processor. The meat, the suet and the raisins have to be "ground." While the Vermonter who devised this recipe no doubt ground all her ingredients using a cast aluminum hand-cranked meat grinder that was screwed to the counter top, we have food processors.
Anyone wishing to make this also needs a good deal of time. The jars have to be processed in a water bath, which means they need to be submerged in water in a large kettle and boiled for three hours. So don't start this at 5:00 pm on Sunday afternoon if  you want to go to bed before 11:00.
The result is spicy and vaguely meaty. It should be excellent in pies.

Vermont Mincemeat

2 pounds cooked roast beef or venison, ground
4 pounds apples, peeled, cored and ground
1 pound beef suet, ground
2 pounds currants
2 pounds raisins, ground
6 cups light brown sugar or granulated sugar
4 cups cider, vinegar or grape juice
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon salt
1 pound mixed diced candied fruit peels

1. Mix all the ingredients in a large heavy kettle. Simmer, stirring, thirty minutes, or until mixture is the correct consistency. (It should not be too runny.)
2. Pack into hot sterilized jars and seal the caps. Process in a water bath for three hours or in a pressure cooker for one hour at ten pounds pressure. Store in a cool, dark, dry place.
Makes six to eight quarts.

New England Carrot Marmalade

On Wednesday, before and after going to the last game of the National League East champion Washington Nationals, (How's that for a phrase?) (Where racing President Teddy Roosevelt won for the first time in 525 games, by the way) I made New England Carrot Marmalade. The word marmalade originates in Portuguese where it refers to quince jam. The Internet is either silent or convoluted on the issue of how orange marmalade transmigrated across the Atlantic into tomato, cucumber, carrot and yes, quince marmalade in New England. (Convoluted means I can't find an article on this.)
My theory about the vegetable marmalades is that the gardener/cook had a lot of some kind of veg., and marmalade was one thing to make from it. This makes sense because oranges were not terribly common in the average home around the turn of the century. So a clever cook might devise a recipe that used a couple of oranges and a lot of something else to make marmalade.
So it is with carrot marmalade. Carrot marmalade contains two oranges and two lemons and four pounds of carrots. It's easy. It also does not take an inordinate amount of time to thicken. I started making it, and realized at 11:00 that I had to make a lightening fast trip to Safeway for more sugar. I hopped into the car and raced there and back to be ready for my ride to the Nats' last game.
It says cook slowly until mixture is thickened. Now, there is always the problem about what thickened means. This mixture is thick anyway. The recipe does not contain any liquid other than that produced by the fruits and vegetables. Or at least it's not supposed to. The cook is instructed to bring it all to a simmer and then add sugar.
Well, after the game, (Nats won!)  I had my ground oranges and lemons and carrots in my pot, and simmer wasn't happening. It was making that hissing sound that onions make frying in a pan. So I added two cups of water, one at a time. The mixture soaked up the first cup almost completely. The second cup made things a little more liquidy. But  it was primarily ground carrots, oranges and lemons with a puddle around the base of it.
Then, I added the sugar, and something interesting happened. The marmalade to be transformed from a pile of shavings to a soup and appeared to increase in volume. If you wish to make this recipe, my advice is to add the sugar first, before you add any water, and see what happens. Accept that unless you have extremely juicy oranges and lemons, you will not be able to bring the mixture to a simmer first. My guess is that you will need less water.
It was not necessary to boil the marmalade for three or four hours. It thickened pretty quickly, within 45 minutes. It tastes pretty much like any old orange marmalade, since it contains oranges and the taste of carrots was overwhelmed by the sugar.

New England Carrot Marmalade

4 cups cooked (slightly underdone) carrots
2 lemons, seeded
2 oranges, seeded
6 1/2 cups sugar

1. Coarsely grind the carrots, lemons and oranges, reserving any liquid or juice that comes from them. Place carrots, lemons, oranges and any reserved liquid or juice in a large kettle and bring to a simmer.
2. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick.
3. Pour into hot sterilized jelly jars. Pour tow thin layers of melted paraffin over. Cool. Cover and store in a cool, dark, dry place.
Makes about six eight-ounce jelly jars.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fried Green Tomato Slices (Gluten Free)

I have wanted to make and eat fried green tomatoes ever since I saw the fabulous movie "Fried Green Tomatoes". However, for some reason or other, I never did. I got close last year when I bought a bunch of green tomatoes, and then let them get ripe in the press of fall school business. This year, since there is no school business, I can make fried green tomatoes.
Fried green tomatoes comes in the great pioneer, Depression-era "use it up" ethos. The fall frosts put an end to ripe tomatoes, but there has to be something we can do with all these green ones. Indeed there is. The cookbook has eight recipes using green tomatoes, two recipes for pie, one for pickle, one for mincemeat, which I made yesterday as well, and three for relish. These don't count this recipe, which I actually couldn't find in the index, although I looked under "tomatoes", "fried," and "green."
It seemed to be pretty common in the 40s and 50s to take several different kinds of vegetables; eggplant, cucumbers, zucchinis, or tomatoes, slice them, bread them and fry them in butter or oil. When I was growing up, as part of our summer, three vegetable dinners, we had fried cucumber or zucchini often. My mother broiled the tomatoes.
These fried green tomatoes are gluten free because they are dipped in corn meal. I actually didn't have corn meal. I was getting ready to use gluten free flour, when my husband unearthed a container of hominy grits from the recesses of the pantry. They worked fine. These are fast and tasty. I didn't have bacon drippings, but they would have been even better cooked in those.

Fried Green Tomato Slices

4 green tomatoes, thickly sliced
1/2 cup white or yellow corn meal
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup bacon drippings or pork fat

1. Dip the tomato slices in the corn meal mixed with the salt and pepper.
2, Heat the bacon drippings or pork fat in a heavy skillet and saute the slices in it quickly until browned on both sides.
Makes six servings.

Green Tomato Mincemeat

It's fall, and therefore, green tomatoes are in abundance. If you're not a gardener this may seem odd. Well, if the gardener thinks they are going to ripen she'll leave them on the vine. If there is a chance of a frost, she will pick them for possible sale.
Last week, I went out to Poolesville to ride the horse and on my way back stopped at Homestead Farm to see if they had green tomatoes. Bingo. Amid a scrum of parents with nursery school children and other assorted folk, I got two large bags and a small bag of Jonagold apples. Then I left town for a wedding.
One of the first things my husband said to me when I came back was, "You'd better hurry up and make something. Your green tomatoes are turning red."  So Monday afternoon, after I went to Safeway and bought the brown sugar and the vinegar, I got to work.
With Hewitt's usual specificity, the recipe says "chop" the apples and tomatoes. But she doesn't say how small. At first, I chopped the apples into sort of wedges, the size of pineapple segments. Then after I dumped everything else in the pot, I went back and looked at those wedges. It's mince pie, not lump pie, so I fished the pieces of apple out of the pot and minced them into fragments the size of peas. After a half an hour of remincing, and fingers covered with spices, I dumped the apples back into the pot.
Allow time for this recipe, since you have to let it simmer for three hours. Again, Hewitt doesn't say, but Joy of Cooking lets us know we should seal the jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. If this is your first foray into home canning, check out, the Ball Jar manufacturer's website, for specific information and equipment.
Astute readers will notice there is no meat in this mincemeat. Well, very often, there is not. For a very interesting article on the history of mincemeat, check out Linda Stradley's article on Mincemeat originated after Crusaders back from the Holy Land returned with spices that could be used for preserving meat without salting or smoking it. Originally, the pies were baked in an oblong shape reminiscent of a coffin or cradle, with a figure of the Christ Child on top. The children in the family removed the Christ Child. It was considered lucky to eat one mince pie for each of the 12 days of Christmas, finishing up with Epiphany on January 6.
Since mince pies were closely tied to Christmas, they were banned in both England and the colonies by the Puritans. Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England,  considered mince pies to be a sinful, guilty pleasure, and sent his soldiers through the streets of London to sniff out, and confiscate Christmas dinner. The pies and Christmas itself, were banned in Boston until 1681.
So we should all celebrate religious freedom, which allows us to make and eat mince pies, whether or not they have any meat in them.
If you want to make this, get the green tomatoes now, possibly at your local farmers' market. It may even be too late further north than DC.

Green Tomato Mincemeat

6 cups chopped (the size of peas) peeled apples
6 cups chopped peeled green tomatoes
4 cups light brown sugar
1 21/3 cups cider vinegar
3 cups raisins
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon mace
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup butter

1. Mix the apples and tomatoes together and drain well. Add the remaining ingredients except the butter. Bring gradually to the boiling point and let simmer three hours, stirring often.
2. Add the butter and mix well. Spoon into hot sterilized canning jars and seal the covers (for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.) Cool and store in a cool, dark, dry place.
Makes about five pints.