Sunday, June 30, 2013

Game Sauce

Game Sauce is one of the most amazing recipes in the New York Times Heritage Cookbook, up there with crab-stuffed chicken, (October 4, 2010). I had meant to make it at Christmas when we had venison, and had even bought the current jelly at Rodman's, the gourmet food/appliance store on Wisconsin Avenue in DC. However, the best-laid plans of mice, men and cooks often come to naught.
I made the game sauce to go with pheasant cacciatori, which I served on Saturday to our old friends, Rich and Mary Alice and their two daughters. Ellen, the youngest one, is our goddaughter. We haven't done much over the years for her spiritual development, so I thought the least we could do was invite her and her parents to dinner to celebrate her graduation from college.
If you look at the ingredient list for game sauce, you will soon realize how it could not possibly fail. It starts out with half a cup of butter, an ingredient sure to insure success in any recipe and moves on to six onions, orange juice, current jelly and a riotous assortment of booze.
I was smart and started it around three o'clock. The whole process of cooking the onions in the butter "until transparent and tender" and then simmering the jelly and the orange juice so it "partially caramelizes" is a time consuming one. It took at least an hour. I kept cooking and tasting and moaning in delight. First the buttery sweetness of the onions, then the flavor burst of the orange juice, and finally, sherry, cassis and  cognac. Heaven!!
You could just eat this stuff with a spoon. It doesn't have to be served with game. (If you have images of yourself stalking a pheasant or a deer through the streets of Manhattan, fear not. You can buy virtually anything on the Internet.) Game sauce would be good over chicken or turkey, or just a piece of bread.
Please note that the recipe requires Duff Gordon amontillado sherry. This is not  cheap kitchen sherry. If you have never had sherry, get a bottle and put it away for the fall. When the weather gets cool, pour yourself a glass, straight, and sip it before dinner. A feeling of calm and civilization will slide over you, as if you were suddenly transported to the drawing rooms of Mayfair. Cassis, on the other hand, is a hot weather drink, or more correctly a hot weather additive. Put about 2 tablespoons of cassis into a cold glass of white wine, and you have a kir. Add it to a glass of champagne, and you have a kir royale.  If good sherry transports you to Mayfair, kirs will transport you to the sidewalk cafes of Monmartre. It's all good. As far as the cognac goes, I just buy the cheap stuff in little bottles.
While making this, I discovered something I didn't know before. My candy thermometer is Celsius, not Fahrenheit. I can do the conversion, but not in my head (it involves multiplying fractions) so I just kind of winged it. Even though the directions for candy are extremely precise, winging it seemed to work with the candied orange peel.

Game Sauce

6 large onions, cut into eighths
1/2 cup butter
2 juice oranges
1 eight ounce jar black current jelly (I bought red. I don't think it matters.)
1 teaspoon salt
2 navel oranges
1 cup sugar
1 cup Duff Gordon amontillado sherry
1 jigger cassis
1 jigger cognac or Armagnac
drippings from roasting game or stock

1. In a heavy casserole or pan, sauté the onions in the butter until transparent and tender. Squeeze the juice oranges and add the juice to the casserole. Add the jelly and salt. Cook slowly, so that the sugar in the jelly does not burn, until the sauce is brown, partially caramelized.
2. Meanwhile, with a vegetable peeler, peel the navel oranges so that only the orange-colored park is removed. Cut the strips into tiny slivers about one and one-half inches long and one-sixteenth inch wide.
3  Place in a small pan, cover with water, bring to a boil and boil ten minutes Drain and discard water.
4. Dissolve the sugar in one-third cup water. Boil in another small pan until syrup registers 230 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat and stir in the rained peel Let stand at least thirty minutes.
5. Remove the browned sauce from the heat and stir in the sherry, cassis and candied orange slivers. Just before serving, stir in the cognac and drippings.
Makes about two and a half cups.

Pheasant Cacciatore

I always thought of pheasant as a fall dish. We used to have it at Thanksgiving when my father had either shot one, or had friends that shot one. It seemed to involve a lot of work for my mother, the cook, which always made her irritable. Holidays in our house were usually somewhat fraught, with my mother flaring up at us, my father being what he called "shirty" in response (no, I didn't add an extra letter there. It really was "shirty.") and my sister and I trying to show that we really appreciated all the work she went to. Fun times.
But, rest assured, if you like to cook, this is not an unnecessary amount of work, and should not make you snap at your family.
About eating it in late June. Well, with the advent of gourmet poultry producers and the Internet, etc. etc., everything is available all the time. I don't approve of this availability when it comes to fruits and vegetables. It has given us the cardboard tomato and the Styrofoam strawberry. But with meat, what's the harm? It wasn't a Styrofoam pheasant. If you would eat a roast chicken in the summer, you could eat a pheasant as well.
On Saturday afternoon, I bought a pair of pheasants, (known as a brace) at Market Poultry in Eastern Market on Capitol Hill in DC. They have a quantity of game for sale as well as the chicken, turkey, chicken sausage, chicken parts, etc. They have venison, quail, and even turtle meat, which annoyed me, since I had just spent a ton of money ordering snapping turtle meat on line for another recipe. Stay tuned, lucky readers! The pheasants were frozen, so I plunged them into a pot of hot water to defrost and left them there for a couple of hours while I made the game sauce.
Frozen pheasants are like frozen chickens. All the innards come tidily packaged in plastic. So don't be alarmed at all this talk of plucking, cleaning and reserving tail feathers. There are no tail feathers on a frozen pheasant. I remember my mother plucking game birds. I have to say, I prefer frozen. All those feathers flying around made a real mess. Also you have to watch out for the buckshot.
One good reason to make Pheasant Cacciatore in the summer is the availability of fresh herbs. This year, Bob stopped talking about how he wanted a garden and planted one. Although we have had enough rain to float a Volkswagen, the only thing that really seems to have prospered are the herbs. I went outside with a little bowl and a pair of scissors and snip, snip, snip, I had my herbs.
Juniper berries are the flavoring in gin. Sniffing a bottle brought back memories of my parents' martinis. One memorable and not to be repeated evening, I drank what was left in the cocktail shaker and had to sneak into the bathroom and throw up before dinner. But we are not flavoring gin here. Juniper berries are available at Whole Foods. Spice Islands, the gourmet spice company of the 1960s, used to sell them, but at some point it stopped. They are not very hard to chop up.
I always think of cacciatore as a tomato, green pepper and garlic based dish. This is basically roast pheasant coated inside and out with a spice mixture. It is not hard.

Pheasant Cacciatore

1 brace (pair) of pheasant, plucked, cleaned and tail feathers reserved
1 tablespoon juniper berries
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or one teaspoon dried rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 thick slices bacon
game sauce
 bulgur or wild rice

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Wash out the body cavity of the birds (discard liver, heart etc. if birds have been hung) and dry with paper towels. (The etc. is wrapped in plastic, so just take it out and throw it away.)
3. If juniper berries are soft, chop on a board; if they are dry, pound well in a mortar. Combine berries with the salt, cayenne, chives, rosemary and parsley.
4. Divide two-thirds of the mixture between the two body cavities and shake the birds to coat the walls. Place the birds, breast side up, in a roasting pan lined with oiled aluminum foil.
5. Pat the oil over the surface of the birds and then sprinkle remaining herb-spice mixture over all the surface. Cover the birds with the bacon slices, securing with toothpicks if necessary.
6. Roast twenty minutes. Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees and roast about one hour longer, or until birds are done.
7. Place pheasants on a warm platter. Sprinkle a little cognac over the birds and decorate with the reserved tail feathers. Serve game sauce and bulgur or wild rice separately. Makes five servings.


Trifle is a Virginia recipe and excellent for a summer dessert. Since the South is hot, it  it figures that Southerners know about cold desserts. Of course, now, it is hot in New England too, but the cooks of the 1950s hadn't reckoned with global warming.  The trifle did have a little bit of New England in it because I made it with leftover New York Passover Spongecake, much to the amusement of Rich, the only Jew to actually hear about my Passover baking in person.
Rich has a very dry sense of humor. "Passover? " he said. "Passover?" in very quiet, unbelieving tones.
I don't think he actually bought my explanation, or even understood it, because it may have been somewhat garbled. Everyone liked the trifle, especially me, who ate all the leftovers during the clean up.
Even though I like trifle, children may not, since the cake is soaked with sherry. I never liked any food with what I termed "liquor" when I was growing up. If you are making this for a family dinner you might want to leave the sherry out.
I made the trifle the night before the party because it had to chill. The first order of business was to walk down to the Exxon station, the only grocery store in our neighborhood, and buy a half gallon of milk. That being accomplished, I made the custard. The important instruction to remember while making the custard is, do not allow the custard to boil. I actually did allow the custard to boil. It makes it somewhat grainy. Better not to let it boil.
The recipe says to spread the cake with strawberry or raspberry preserves. I dug around in the refrigerator and found some grape jelly which was eked out with Polaner's All Fruit, something I used to eat when I ate bread.
Although this is technically not a day before recipe, I would advocate making it the day before, because it has to chill. You can stick it in the refrigerator and forget about it until dinner time.


8 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups milk, scalded
1 teaspoon vanilla
24 ladyfingers, or a comparable quantity of spongecake, torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup medium-dry sherry (use the Duff Gordon amontillado you bought for the game sauce)
1 cup strawberry or raspberry preserves
1/3 cup slivered blanched almonds or crumbled macaroons (optional) (I left these out.)
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped
glace cherries or one tablespoon slivered blanched almonds

1. Combine the egg yolks, sugar, and milk in a heavy saucepan, beating with a wire whisk to mix well. Heat over medium heat until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Do not allow custard to boil.
2. Remove from the heat and pour into a cold bowl. Stir in the vanilla and cool to lukewarm.
3. Sprinkle the ladyfingers or spongecake with the sherry and let stand five to ten minutes.
4. Place a layer of the soaked ladyfingers in a two-quart serving bowl, preferably glass.
5. Spread with one-third of the preserves and one-third of the almonds or macaroons. Repeat the layers until all ladyfingers are used.
6. Pour the cooled custard over the ladyfinger arrangement and chill several hours.
7. Decorate with the whipped cream, piped through a rosette tube, and garnish with the cherries or almonds.
Serves 10.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Hancock Shaker Village Pork and Milk Gravy (Gluten Free)

This recipe definitely has  overtones of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books. During the summers, her family virtually lived on salt pork, since the deer and bear they ate in the winter months were raising their young. Salt pork seems to be easy to find in the supermarket. I have a feeling that living in an area with a large Africa American population might have something to do with that, but, then again, I might be wrong.
The salt pork was thin, about an inch thick, and had a thick, hard rind. I found that that cooked up into a chewy, jelly-like substance, however. Because of the salt pork, this is a very salty recipe from the git-go. I would not advise adding more salt. Pepper is good. You might sauté an onion along with the salt pork to liven things up. I made it gluten free by substituting rice flour for wheat flour. A year ago, I was advocating Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free flour, which was made of dried beans and other stuff. Rice flour is much better. It does not have the sour taste of Bob's.

Hancock Shaker Village Pork and Milk Gravy

1/4 pound salt pork cut into cubes
1/4 cup flour (use rice flour if you want a gluten free recipe)
2 cups milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Place the salt pork cubes in a saucepan and cook, stirring until they start to become crisp. Remove cubes from the saucepan and set aside.
2. Add the flour to saucepan and cook briefly, stirring without burning. Add the milk, stirring rapidly. When mixture thickens, and is smooth, add salt and pepper. Simmer ten minutes or less, stirring
3. Add the pork cubes to the sauce. Serve with fish balls. Makes 2 cups.

Sister Lisset's Shaker Fish Balls (Gluten Free)

About a week ago, I sat down and made a list of all the recipes I have to cook before I can wash my hands of the Northeast section of this cookbook and move on definitively to the South. It's a lot. Over 60 recipes, and I thought I was doing really well this year, knocking them out. So, focus, I said to myself. I started pawing through the fish section, which probably has the most uneaten recipes to find one, just one, that Bob, my shellfish allergic spouse, could actually eat. There are a couple. Gefilte fish is one, but complicated, and makes a lot, and I don't know what time of year one actually eats it. Shaker Fish Balls were another.
I stopped off at the fish counter at the Giant on Connecticut Avenue. I don't normally shop at Giant, except for the times I forget to bring lunch to my volunteer job at the Girl Scouts, but since I was working upstairs, it was worth a try. They had cod for a reasonable price. I bought a pound and a half, and made a dish called skillet chowder with half of it, and cooked the rest for the fish balls.
Now, there are a couple of things about this dish, caveats, so to speak. First, it says chop the fish in a wooden chopping bowl. My kitchen is pretty well equipped. I have a lot of stuff that even dedicated modern cooks may not have, but I don't have a wooden chopping bowl, or that curved tool that was used to chop fish, veggies, etc. in the old fashioned days. I always blow instructions such as this off and say use the food processor. Well, in this particular case, the food processor isn't what you want. It tends to make the fish and potatoes into a sort of fishy mashed potato of the wrong consistency. Too mushy. No way would this stuff form into balls. They were fish cakes.
Also, these are supposed to be deep fried. I do not possess a deep fryer. I shallow fried the nonballs in a regular frying pan in vegetable oil. This did not work real well. They stuck to the bottom of the pan.  On the up side, they were good. Bob liked them. He even liked the accompanying pork and milk gravy, which was okay, but limited in its palate range.

wooden chopping bowl and mezzaluna

So, I would advise, if you really want to do a good job with these, get yourself a wooden chopping bowl and a curved chopping tool to go with it. A few seconds of clicking on the Internet produces a source for these things. has a 9 inch wooden chopping bowl and a knife, which is called a mezzaluna for $46.50. If you want to compare sources, just google wooden chopping bowl and chopper.
The second caveat is, try to figure out some way to deep fry the fish balls. Maybe you could use a soup pot. Maybe, just maybe, you could bite the bullet and go out and buy a fry basket.  Lard is not readily available, but I have used vegetable shortening.
If you are interested in the origin of this recipe, it probably came from Hancock Shaker Village in my native Berkshire County, Massachusetts

Sister Lisset's Shaker Fish Balls

2 cups leftover cooked fish, bones removed with fish flaked
4 cups chopped cooked potatoes
2 egg yolks beaten
1 tablespoon minced parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
lard or fat for deep frying
salt pork and milk gravy (next recipe)

1. Put the fish in a wooden chopping bowl and add the potatoes. Chop together until very fine.
2. Add the egg yolks, parsley, salt and pepper. Form into balls the size of a goose egg. (Goose eggs are bigger than hens' eggs. Say, a little smaller than a baseball.) Deep fry until golden brown. Serve with gravy. Makes six servings.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Passover Spongecake

Why, readers might reasonably ask, is this woman writing about Passover recipes after Passover? Well, it's like this. After letting this blog trail on for three years, supposedly trying to write and eat my way through the Northeast section, I vowed that this year would be the year I actually finished the Northeast and moved on to the South. Passover Spongecake is in the recipe section of the Northeast, and I still have a goodly amount of Passover ingredients, to whit, matzo cake flour (or meal) and potato starch. So, the Episcopalians got another dose of Passover baking for their Monday night religious study. They like it just fine. Helen, one of the participants, took the leftovers home in delight.
If you have never made, or eaten a Passover cake, you are in for a treat. Even Jews may not be aware of how good Passover baked goods can be. I say this because my Jewish expert, Rabbi-in training Margaux Yael Buck of St. Louis, told me that Passover baking was "very heavy" because of the lack of leavening. Well, girl, you wrong there, although your scholarship in other Judaic matters is not to be faulted. All the Passover recipes in this book are marvelously light concoctions, made so by beaten egg whites. And so it is with spongecake.
If you are not Jewish and find yourself intrigued by these recipes, ask your Jewish friends if they have any matzo cake flour or potato starch. They probably do. I doubt if you would be able to find these ingredients in your average supermarket now, since it is after Passover. You probably can find Elite Chocolate, but the rest of it, ehh, probably not. I confess, I haven't looked. I was combing the stores for the stuff before Passover, but then, I was able to find it, so I stopped looking.
I only had about 1/3 of a cup of potato starch, so I put in an extra 1/4 cup of matzo cake meal. This seemed to work fine. I do not advocate fooling around with baking recipes as a regular practice however. Baking always seems to me like chemistry. Follow the recipe or dire events ensue.
If you are not Jewish, or even if you are Jewish, but do not keep Kosher, I encourage you to ignore the instructions about pouring the cake into an ungreased cake pan. Doing that makes it well-nigh impossible to get the cake out of the pan in one piece. Grease the pan, cooks. If you do keep Kosher, you will know better than I do what to use to get the cake out of the pan.
This spongecake is light and delicious, with a mild lemon flavor. If you like lemon, you can increase the lemon juice to the juice of a whole lemon. Bob spread lemon curd and current jelly on top in place of an icing. It is possible that spongecakes are not meant to be iced. I don't know for sure. Anyone out there have any opinions on the matter?

Passover Spongecake

8 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sugar
grated rind of two lemons
juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup matzo cake meal
3/4 cup potato starch
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar, lemon rind and lemon juice until yolks are thick and lemon-colored. (This takes about a minute.)
3. Sift together the matzo cake meal, potato starch and salt. Fold the egg whites and dry ingredients alternately into the yolks. Pour the mixture into two ungreased (see narrative) eight-inch layer pans and bake one hour, or until done. Invert in pans, on a rack and let cool thoroughly. Makes 12 servings.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Jelled Veal (Gluten Free)

Jelled veal is one of those 50s recipes in which the jelled state was thought elegant. I remember eating vast quantities of jellied beef consume for a first course was I was growing up. My husband, when he encountered it, called it beef jello and declined to eat it. Jellied consume was punctuated by jellied chicken soup. or chicken jello, if you will. I also remember a cousin's wedding in Westchester County somewhere about 1959 or 1960 which featured tomato aspic or tomato jello.
I must say, nowadays, the idea of jelled veal does not inspire universal delight in the populace. My extremely polite daughter-in-law made a very minor face when I was telling her and her husband about the jelled veal I made for Bob's cookout. So I was  gratified when Karen, one of the guests at the cookout, demanded to know if it was head cheese, and told me she grew up eating head cheese and just loved it. She was not dismayed by learning it was jelled veal.
I made it for the cookout because I have a theory about this nontraditional food. I figure if a large group of people is given the opportunity to try it, along with the hamburgers and hot dogs, some of them will try it and like it. It is unfair,  however, to serve it as the main dish. People who are repulsed by the very idea of veal would have to go hungry, and that is not hospitable.
Jelled veal is a day before dish. You have to boil 4 veal shanks and a veal knuckle for three hours, until the meat falls off the bones. Then, you boil down the broth, pack the meat into a loaf pan and pour the broth on top of it. Then, let it chill overnight.
I did all these things. Bob got the veal shanks at Union Meat in Eastern Market. I started boiling everything on Friday afternoon after I got back from the gym. The boiling was interrupted when Bob and I decided we really needed some coffee, and so walked up to Starbucks in Chevy Chase for an infusion of caffeine. I finished the whole process after we came back from a cabaret night at church. I took the meat off the bones, chopped it and shredded it, and poured the reduced broth on top of the meat.
The next morning, I checked it. Jelled to perfection.
To be honest, not too many people ate it at the cookout. Karen said she encouraged people to try it, and some did. My brother had some, and liked it well enough to eat some more for breakfast on Sunday morning.
So how does it taste? Well, like bits of cold meat, lightly held together with...veal jello. It's a little bland. It might be good on a sandwich with mayonnaise. But it is not in any way repulsive. So, if you want to recreate the 50s elegance of a summer buffet, try jelled veal and maybe tomato aspic.

Jelled Veal

4 veal shanks, split (The veal shanks available for sale now are only about two inches high, so splitting is not necessary.)
1 veal knuckle bone
1 onion, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 ribs celery, diced
4 sprigs parsley
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
6 peppercorns, crushed
1 teaspoon chervil, if available (it wasn't)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped green pepper

1.  Place the shanks, knuckle bone, onion, carrots, celery, parsley sprigs, bay leaf, salt, peppercorns and chervil in a kettle. Add water almost to cover.
2. Bring to a boil and boil vigorously, skimming off scum, five minutes. Cover and simmer gently three hours, or until meat is very tender. Leave shanks in broth until cool enough to handle.
3. Remove and discard knuckle bone. Remove meat from shanks. Dice meat and place in a one and one-half-quart to two-quart bowl or ring mold. Add the chopped parsley and green pepper and toss.
4. Strain the cooking broth into a saucepan and reduce by boiling until liquid measures two cups. Pour over the meat mixture. Cool and chill until firm.
5. Unmold and serve as luncheon or buffet dish or as sandwich filling. Makes six to eight servings.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Boiled and Baked Country Ham

Country ham is similar to supermarket ham in the same way that the lowly, (and dysfunctional) Dodge Omni is similar to a Jaguar XKE. Yes, they both come from the ass end of the pig, but the resemblance ends there.
Country ham is dry, dense, salty and flavorful. According to the Virginia Cooperative Extension website at Virginia Tech, curing a country ham is a lengthy process, taking up to 8 months. First, fresh ham (pork legs) are rubbed with a mixture of  8 pounds of salt, 2 pounds of sugar and 2 ounces of saltpeter or sodium nitrate, which the extension tells us is available at drugstores.. It is left to cure in this mixture for one and a half days per pound of ham or, say, 18 days for the average 12 pound ham. Next, the ham has to be soaked, and then stored for 14 days in an environment with a temperature of 50 to 60 degrees. The ham is then smoked for three days and stored for 180 days. So we are talking about substantial investments of time and individual effort.
Nowadays, one may obtain country hams on the Internet, for a (high) price. Or, if you are lucky to live in an area with an old fashioned butcher, or even maybe a retro 30 something old-fashioned butcher, you can buy hams from said old fashioned butcher. I, or rather my husband, who is now retired, bought this ham, which was a butt ham of  five pounds, from Union Meat in Eastern Market on Capitol Hill. It cost about $5. a pound.
This recipe is a day before recipe. I was supposed to have taken care of all the boiling the day before my son and his wife were coming to dinner. Well, I didn't read the recipe, so there I was, at 5:00, ham sitting in its plastic packaging, when the yms were coming at 7:00. So I produced a boiled country ham and left the baking to another day. Frankly, I don;'t think anyone noticed. I plopped everything into the pot, turned on the burner at the back of the stove and went about my business. I didn't have six onions. I put in two. After two hours, I fished it out of the pot and sliced it.
People really liked this. There was nothing left on plates, and son was in a good enough humor afterward to agree to play a 30s era  board game involving pushing tiny wooden cars along dotted lines throughout the British Isles. Daughter-in-law was, as the politest person in the universe, aside from also being really nice,  as always,  agreeable.

Boiled and Baked Country Ham

1 country-style ham (If you are feeding a small group, get a butt ham. If feeding a large group, get a whole ham.)
6 onions
2 cups cider vinegar
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1 cup soft bread crumbs
whole cloves

1. Day before, scrub the ham, removing any pepper coating and mold. Place in a large kettle, cover with water and let soak overnight. (I skipped this step. If you buy a ham wrapped in paper, you probably should do it.)
2. Next day, drain ham. Put back in the kettle and cover with fresh water. Add the onions, vinegar, bay leaves and molasses; stir to mix. Bring to a boil and simmer gently fifteen to twenty minutes to the pound.
3. Allow ham to cool in the broth.
4.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
5 Remove skin from ham and score fat in diamond pattern. Combine the sugar, mustard and bread crumbs. Place cloves in centers of diamonds and pat bread crumb mixture over all. Bake twenty minutes, or until brown. My five pound ham would have served 6 people. A twelve pound ham serves 10-15 people.

Potato Kugel for Passover

Passover? scream the Jews. Passover is over! True. However, you can eat turkey at other times than Thanksgiving, can't you? So here's a really good potato pudding recipe that tastes like a giant latke, or potato pancake. You should not have to wait for Passover to eat  this. Besides, Jewish people, who probably are not reading this anyway because Passover has passed over, (heh, heh) undoubtedly have extra matzo meal in their cupboards, left over from Passover baking and here's a way to use it up. So if you are not Jewish, but are reading this, ask a Jewish friend of he/she has any matzo meal left over from Passover. It will go stale by next year, so the friend ought to give it to you.
I made this to go along with the country ham for my son and daughter-in-law. I had never eaten or made Kugel before, so this was a revelation. Who knew it was just a big latke? It's easy as well. You have five to ten minutes of grating potatoes, a few seconds to beat the eggs, a teary, sniffy minute grating the onion, and a few more seconds to mix the whole thing up and pour it into a baking pan.
The ham and the Kugel came out at exactly the same time. But I forgot the asparagus! We had to wait until it cooked, all standing around in the kitchen, my son offering advice on what to do.
Kugel dates from the 1200s, when it was first mentioned in Germany as a bread dumpling cooked overnight in the Sabbath stew. It went through various evolutions, the website, tells us, until the mid- 19th century when home ovens became popular so people could actually bake their dough. The potato part came from the introduction of potatoes to the Jews of Eastern Europe. There is apparently a Yiddish folksong which goes, Monday, potatoes, Tuesday, potatoes, Wednesday, potatoes, until it gets to “Sunday potatoes, Monday potatoes, Tuesday and Wednesday potatoes, Thursday and Friday potatoes, but Shabbos, for a change, a potato kugel.”

Anyhow, our kugel came out crisp on top and flavorful in the middle. Because of me not paying attention to  the magic words, medium-sized, we made enough kugel to feed at least eight people.The cook is supposed to grate three cups of potatoes. I counted out six potatoes and began to grate. I must have grated at least five cups. I added an extra egg and and extra quarter cup of matzoh meal. It was just the thing to make with a country ham recipe (gasp!) from Kentucky. I did follow the directions and grate the potatoes into cold water. I don't know why this is important to do. Possibly it washes the starch off the potatoes. But I would not skip that step. Why mess with success?

Potato Kugel for Passover

6 medium-sized potatoes, peeled
3 eggs
1/2 cup matzo meal
1/2 teaspoon potato starch
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 onion, grated (the recipe says optional. It is not optional. You must put in the onion if you want your kugel to taste of anything at all.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grate t he potatoes into cold water, then drain. There should be three cups.
3. Beat the eggs until they are thick. stir in the potatoes and remaining ingredients.
4. Turn the mixture into a one-and-one-half quart casserole and bake, uncovered, about one hour.
Makes six to eight servings.

Cheese Blintzes (Gluten Free)

Dinner with  son and daughter-in-law turned out, unintentionally, to be a New York kind of meal, except for the country ham, that is. Dessert was cheese blintzes, another dish that I had read about but never eaten. I knew cheese blintzes were little pancakes with some kind of cheese in the middle, but that was all I knew. I had also heard somewhere that they were to be served with jam. I rummaged through the refrigerator and came out with a jar of blueberry jam of unknown provenance. It didn't have mold in it, so it couldn't be that old. It made a delicious combination.
Blintzes are from Poland, the website tells us. They are traditionally eaten by Jews to celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, which occurs in late May or early June. Shavuot commemorates God giving the Torah to the Nation of Israel at Mount Sinai.
The Torah commanded the Jews to cook meat and dairy separately. Legend says the Jews opted to eat dairy foods. (Maybe they had no meat.) It would certainly have been too hot to butcher animals at that time of year. The Blintz Blitz has more stories about blintzes, including one involving Stalin, which seems to be true.
I made my blintzes gluten free by using Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix. Pamela can be contacted at if you want to know where her mix can be found. I followed the directions on the package, and so did not use the directions in the recipe, which called for flour.
As a dessert, the blintzes are rendered slightly sweet by the raisins and vanilla mixed in to the cottage cheese.

Cheese Blintzes

8 ounces cottage cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg well beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup raisins

l cup sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water or milk
2 eggs well beaten

1. To prepare filling, cream the cottage cheese with a fork. (That means squash the lumps out of it.) Stir in the remaining ingredients.
2 to prepare batter, sift together the flour and salt. Stir the water or milk into the beaten eggs and add gradually to flour mixture. Beat until smooth.
3. Butter a seven-inch frying pan or griddle and heat. Drop enough batter into hot pan just to cover bottom. As soon as edges of pancake begin to curl away from side of pan, turn out onto wax paper and spread with a spoonful of the cheese filling. Fold sides over to make a neat package.
4. Make additional blintzes with remaining batter and filling.
5. Place blintzes on hot buttered frying pan and fry until browned. Turn and fry on other side. Serve at once. Makes six servings.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Chicken Loaf (Gluten Free)

 Chicken loaf is like meat loaf. Diced chicken, bread crumbs,eggs. No onion, probably could have benefited from same. One might wonder, why chicken loaf . Ehh, why not? It's not grand cuisine, but I guess it makes a change from chicken breast. It is good cold in sandwiches and certainly not difficult to make. The only advice I would give is to chill your cooked chicken ahead of time before dicing it up for the loaf. This makes the chicken firmer. I ended up with lumps of shredded chicken which I had to then redice. I did not get around to making the mushroom sauce, which probably would have zapped the dish up a bit. We had this for a weeknight dinner for the two of us. There were no comments one way or another. "A bit on the bland side," says Bob

Chicken Loaf

1 cup soft bread crumbs (I used gluten free bread. I have seen gluten free bread crumbs at Giant Food in Friendship Heights in DC.)
1 1/2 cups warm milk
2 eggs lightly beaten
3 cups diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
Tabasco sauce to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Place the bread crumbs in a bowl and pour the milk over. Let stand five minutes.
3. Stir in the eggs. Combine the chicken and broth and add to crumb mixture. Season with the salt, pepper, celery seeds and Tabasco.
4. Pack into a greased loaf pan and bake forty-five to sixty minutes, or until set. Serve with mushroom sauce. Makes four to six servings.

Chipped Beef Rarebit

Boy, just when I was getting what might be known as a following for this blog, I had to spend the first two weekends of May at my high school reunion, which actually helped boost readership, and then in Charleston, South Carolina with my cousins. Then for the remainder of May, I wasn't even in the US at all, having given it up for a trip to the White Cliffs of Albion, aka the soon-to-be disunited kingdom of Great Britain, Scotland and Wales.
So, sorry, readers, even though all you ever seem to read is about Rival Soup, Avocado Meatloaf, and Maple Frosting, I am grateful that anyone reads at all. I am back in the kitchen, wooden spoon in hand, ready to take on the challenges presented by the The New York Times Heritage Cookbook, the modern agricultural-industrial complex and the dietary guidelines established by my dear family. (No eggplant, rhubarb or shellfish, no how, no way.) Every so often, I threaten my husband with eggplant-rhubarb-crab pie or some such delicacy.)
So, Bob and I came back from London on Saturday evening, unable to even turn on the car radio, or at least tune it to an actual station that might give us the news. On the one hand, we didn't have to experience the kind of horrific headlines we heard in April when we arrived ten minutes after the Boston Marathon bombing. On the other hand, we like to listen to the news. On Monday, I sat down and made up a shopping list. We had eaten out Saturday night and Sunday, and clearly this couldn't go on.
I was back to finding things that could be eaten by two people in the course of a normal dinner, so hence, the Chipped Beef Rarebit. I would like to stop here and give you a couple of paragraphs from Wikipedia about why Rarebit is called Rarebit, the history of Rarebit, etc., but I am using Bob's new computer, which is equipped with some excrescence called Windows 8, another plot by those who invent computers to make them impossible for the rest of us to operate.  I cannot figure out how to open another screen to consult Wikipedia.
Now I am on my computer. Wikipedia posits that rarebit is a corruption of rabbit. Welsh rabbit may have been a slur against the Welsh, who were "notoriously poor," Wikipedia says. Poor people in England could not afford butcher's meat, so they ate rabbit. Poor people in Wales were too poor even to afford rabbits, or possibly the bullets to hunt them with, so a melted cheese dish was their rabbit.
This calls for jars of chipped beef. The last time I made something that called for chipped beef, which might have been a year or so ago, chipped beef still came in jars. Well, now, it comes in plastic packets and can be found in the processed meats section. Maybe the meat barons are preparing to reposition chipped beef from some poverty strickened food that the aged, like me, used to eat at school, to some sort of delicacy, like swiss dried beef. Stay tuned.
This is the kind of meal you might want to eat on a cold night, but it made a good dinner on a wet evening after I came back from attempting to ride the horse. He turned out to be lame so it was just an attempt rather than an actuality. Bob made dinner. There is nothing in this recipe that needs particular insight. When it says do not boil or the eggs may curdle, it means it, so watch the heat. That's about the only thing that needs to be emphasized.

Chipped Beef Rarebit

3 tablespoons butter
one packet chipped beef
1 teaspoon prepared mustard, preferably Dijon or Dusseldorf
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 cups Italian plum tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Tabasco sauce to taste
3 cups grated sharp Cheddar Cheese
3 eggs well beaten
4 slices buttered toast

1. Heat the butter in a large saucepan. Pull the beef apart with the fingers and add beef to the butter. Cook, stirring, until meat frizzles. Add the mustard, Worcestershire, chili powder, tomatoes, pepper and Tabasco. Do not add salt. Simmer about thirty minutes to make a sauce.
2. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cheese. When the cheese melts, add the eggs. Cook, stirring, just to the boiling point when the rarebit thickens. Do not boil or the eggs may curdle. Serve hot over toast. Makes four servings.