Friday, November 29, 2013

Potage d'Haricots Rouges (Louisiana Red Bean Soup) (Gluten Free)

Initially, when I considered this recipe, I thought it was a soup made from red beans from Louisiana. I checked on the Internet for Louisiana red beans and did not find anything specific. On further consideration, I believe the soup is actually a soup that originated in Louisiana that is made from small red beans. So don't drive yourself crazy trying to buy something called Louisiana red beans, because I'm not sure they exist. Happily, small red beans are available at Safeway or you can use kidney beans, available everywhere.
I planned to make this ahead of time for Thanksgiving, and got as far as boiling the beans with two ham hocks on Monday. When you look at the recipe, you will not find ham hocks. but I couldn't remember what the meat element was when I was at the grocery store, so I bought ham hocks.
This time two years ago, I had never eaten a ham hock.  As I move into the southern chapters of the cookbook I have been  introduced  to these smoked pigs' ankles and have become a fan. Ham hocks are particularly good in soup. They add a rich, meaty, smoked flavor to the beans.
I had the ham hocks, so I used the ham hocks. Feeling virtuous because I was getting a start on Thanksgiving dinner, I instructed Bob to take the soup  off the heat in an hour and a half and went off to do something else. Bob dutifully turned off the beans, and they sat on the stove for two days because I was always doing something other than moving on to the next step.
Thursday afternoon, I got down to the soup. I had skipped a step by boiling the beans and not adding the onions, bacon and garlic. So I sauteed the onions and garlic with the bacon, scraped them and the spices into the beans, added a tad (maybe a cup) more water and recommenced boiling. After half an hour, the beans were ready to be run through the blender.
"Time to get soup all over the wall," I announced to Tim and my brother, who were watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and taste testing stuffing. In the past, I have painted the wall of the kitchen with a rainbow of different soups. I remember hot pumpkin soup going up like a perfect Vesuvius all over me and the wall under the horrified gazes of my children as I struggled not to spout a corresponding volcano of curses.
Years of doing this have taught me a few things. I don't fill the blender as full, and I don't get soup on the wall. Soup went from blender back into saucepan without adding to the decor. I took the ham hocks out and disposed of them. When I am making split pea soup, I cut the meat off the hocks, but not this time.
The soup was an enormous hit. Tim, an old Alabama boy, was fulsome in his praise. "This is superb," he said. Just for the record, Tim is always polite about what he eats, but he doesn't go nuts unless he really likes something.
This is a great soup for winter. Bean soup may not sound terribly elegant, but you could certainly serve this, dressed up with the chopped parsley and hard cooked egg, at a dinner party.

Louisiana Red Bean Soup

4 cups dried Louisiana red beans or kidney beans
1/2 pound lean slab bacon, without rind, cut into cubes
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon sage
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
tabasco sauce to taste
chopped parsley
chopped hard cooked egg

1. Soak the beans overnight in water that extends one inch above their level. (I did not skip this step, although I often do. It probably shortened the cooking time.)
2. Next day, drain the beans and put them in a heavy kettle. Add three quarts of water and bring to a boil.
3. Cook the bacon in a skillet until most of the fast is rendered. Add the onions and garlic and cook until onions are translucent. Add the celery seeds and sage. Season with salt, pepper and Tabasco and pour the mixture into the beans. Simmer the beans until they are very tender, two to two and one-half hours.
4. Let the beans cool and put them through a food mill or sieve or puree them, a little at a time, in an electric blender. If necessar, they may be thinned with a little broth or water. This soup will keep well in the refrigerator.
5. Heat the soup thoroughly and serve sprinkled with chopped parsley and hard-cooked egg and if desired, garlic croutons. Makes three and one-half quarts, about one dozen servings.


Uncooked Cranberry Relish

This cranberry sauce is a radical departure from normal Thanksgiving procedure. Normally, I make cooked cranberry sauce and also serve jellied cranberry sauce from the can, complete with the grooves from said can. This year, I just made this, and guess what? People ate it, and no one said, "Why don't we have regular cranberry sauce?" Incredible. Maybe next year, I can get away with the suckling pig that was rejected this year.
Please note this is a day before recipe. I did actually know this ahead of Thanksgiving Day. However, Wednesday was an unexpectedly busy day, but not in the kitchen. Wednesday morning, Bob and I drove out to Potomac Floral to buy wreaths for church along with a surprising stream of customers, usually women, buying a dazzling array of floral supplies. We got home around 11:45 when Bob suggested lunch.
"Tonight there will probably be plenty of food, so we don't have to worry about dinner," he said. I stared at him. "Say what?" He stared back with an expression indicating that I ought to know what he was talking about.
 I sidled over to the wall calendar and was gobsmacked, as they say in the UK, to see that Dave and Nancy, our good friends, were giving a party that night for two of their children who had gotten married in the past year. This had been on the calendar for over a month, but I had completely forgotten. I had been mulling over the idea of buying a dress for this event, but hadn't done anything about it.
After lunch, I marched off to Lord and Taylor to check out the Woman's Section. I ended up buying a suit that received several complements, but I didn't do anything in the kitchen.
So it was that I made the cranberry sauce at 1:00 on Thursday when we were scheduled to eat at 4:30. It probably would have been more flavorful if I had made it 24 hours ahead as instructed, but basically it was fine the way it was.
And how was it? Crunchy, from the berries,  not too tart, because of the ample supply of sugar in the dish, and flavorful from the chopped orange and orange  juice. I would choose cooked cranberry sauce, but I wouldn't rule out this.

Uncooked Cranberry Relish

4 cups cranberries
2 seedless whole oranges
juice of one orange
2 cups sugar

Wash the cranberries well and chop them. Chop the oranges and add to the cranberries. Add the orange juice and sugar and mix well. Refrigerate twenty-four hours before serving. Makes about four cups.

Oyster Stuffing (Gluten Free)

Oyster stuffing is...terrific, provided you like oysters. If you have no feelings about oysters, or have never had them, hiding them in stuffing might be a way to get to know them. However, I would go to someplace like Clyde's  first, with a friend who likes oysters and try one or two oysters off your friend's plate.
I first had oysters at the Harvard Club when I was about 14. Being an adventurous eater, I was not squeamish about sliding an oval of slippery saltiness down my throat. I have loved them ever since, and hope to emulate our 90 year old friend, Mrs. Curtiss, who sends us a postcard every fall saying "I'm going to Paris to eat oysters." There can be few better ways of spending one's money in one's old age.
This oyster stuffing is obviously meant for a goose, since the first ingredient is butter or goose fat, moving on to a goose liver. Well. we were having turkey, so I used butter and extracted the turkey liver and chopped that up. This meant that Watson, the new puppy, could not participate in a canine Thanksgiving tradition, that of giving the dog a sauteed turkey liver. I'm sure he would have loved a turkey liver, but since he had never had one he wasn't upset.
I had to  make two stuffings, one with oysters, and one without, for my shellfish allergic husband, Bob. Neither one was stuffed into the turkey, as Bob split the turkey open and roasted it in pieces. I made the oyster stuffing gluten free by using gluten free corn bread stuffing from Whole Foods. Oyster stuffing outside a turkey is perhaps a little dry. If you want to put it in a baking dish, cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and use more oyster liquor, which is a polite word for that glutenous stuff the oysters come in. Oyster juice, if you will.
We had gone to the Thanksgiving service at church and did not get home until after 11 am. I had done next to nothing in advance, in spite of my advice doled out with the Thanksgiving menus. I began with the oyster stuffing, since I wasn't baking any bread. I had in the back of my mind that the stuffing had to be finished so it could go in the turkey, even though we had been talking about spatchcocking it for a couple of weeks.
The oyster stuffing was done in half an hour, and what wouldn't fit in the baking dish went to my brother George who acted as taste tester. He pronounced it good and asked for it when it was time to fill the plates.
Another convert!

Oyster Stuffing

1/4 cup butter or goose fat
1 onion finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 goose liver or turkey liver, chopped
6 cups stale one-quarter-inch white bread cubes (use gluten free stuffing, available at Whole Foods and other businesses that sell gluten free products)
2 cups oysters with liquor (oyster juice)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon marjoram

1. Melt the butter in a skillet and saute the onion and celery in it until tender, but not browned. Add the liver and cook quickly two to three minutes. Put the bread cubes in a bowl and add the liver mixture.
2. Strain the oyster liquor, through cheesecloth if gritty, into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and add cleaned oysters. Simmer three minutes or until the edges of the oysters just curl.
3. Skim out the oysters and quarter them if they are very large, halve them if they are average. Add to the bread mixture.
4. Add the remaining ingredients and enough oyster liquor, usually about one-third cup, to moisten the dressing. Makes enough stuffing for a seven to eight pound goose or turkey.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thanksgiving Menus

Today is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and all the food sections are full of pictures of happy Pennsylvania  farm families eating in what appears to be Hawaii, or browned and tasty dishes created just for the day. Some amateur food bloggers like me even celebrate Thanksgiving ahead of time so they can put it on their blogs for their readers. I think one guy in Washington calls his preholiday dinner bloggsgiving.
Well, it struck me that I could be somewhat useful to what readers I have. I know there are gradually becoming more of you, even if you never write in. So, here are some suggestions for Thanksgiving menus with recipes that appeared in the blog. I will try to give readers some idea of the difficulty or length of time it takes to prepare each dish.
The recipes will fall into the following categories. Soup or appetizer, side dishes,  bread, dessert. The only turkey recipe in the New York Times Heritage Cookbook is Roast Oregon Turkey with Sausage Dressing. I prepared it prior to 1983 when my husband Bob started writing the dates next to the recipes. It was probably in the fall of 1978 when we had Thanksgiving at our apartment in Georgetown. I have a memory of that dinner, but no memory whatsoever of the turkey. If you don't have a basic cookbook like Joy of Cooking or Fanny Farmer, Google turkey recipes.


Soup can be made ahead of time. In fact, make your soup ahead of time. This weekend. Don't delay. The shellfish recipes are simplicity themselves.

Cream of Chicken Soup  December 7, 2010 "Yummy, but time consuming"
Escarole Soup October 12, 2010 "Tasty but time consuming" Takes two days
Rivel Soup April 9, 2011  Starts with already made chicken stock. Relatively easy.


Scallops Mayonnaise November 23, 2012 "Takes all of 15 minutes. Could be made the night before."

Scallops Mayonnaise

Crevettes Paula    November 24, 2011 Crevettes are a fancy word for shrimp. Shelling shrimp can be time consuming. Two and one-half pounds of shrimp in shells makes one pound, or two cups of cooked shrimp. Can be done ahead of time.

Crevettes Paula

Side Dishes

Mushrooms with Cream  February 21, 2011, Fast and tasty. However, there was an issue with how long to boil the mushrooms and cream to achieve thickening. Perhaps, mixing in a tablespoonful of cornstarch to the cream before adding it to the mushrooms could achieve the same result.

Fried Onions and Apples February 19, 2011. Takes maybe 20 minutes total, is seasonal and a part of Americana.

Green Beans, Southern Style September 22, 2013  These take up time boiling on the back burner, but need practically no effort.
Green Beans, Southern Style

Baked Bourbon Spiced Sweet Potatoes  November 22, 2012  Sweet potatoes bake in the oven with the turkey, and are nearly mashed already. A high calorie but delicious side.

Baked Bourbon Spiced Sweet Potatoes
Cheese Grits Casserole  September 22, 1013.  This takes a little extra time because the grits have to cool to room temperature. If you start it Thursday morning, or even Wednesday night, that shouldn't be a problem.  However, it is flat out delicious. It bakes at 350 degrees, same as the turkey.

Cheese Grits Casserole


Pumpkin Rolls  November 24, 2011. The pumpkin makes these rolls a lovely orange color. Since it is a day before recipe, you can get everything but the baking out of the way on Wednesday night. They bake at 375 degrees, so you could put them in with the turkey. 

Pumpkin Rolls

 Flaky Rolls  November 21, 2012    Unless you are a skilled baker, I would not attempt these on Thanksgiving. They are delicious, but they take hours to roll out, chill, spread with butter and chill again. They also bake at 475 degrees, which is too hot for the turkey. But they are really good. Make them some other time. 
Flaky Rolls

Quahog Popovers September 8, 2013. Upside, these are easy to make, and very good. On the down side, they do bake at 425 degrees which will be too hot for the turkey. However, they only have to bake 25 to 30 minutes, so you could stick them in after the turkey comes out to rest. They don't have to rise. The only thing you have to remember is, the ingredients should be at room temperature, so you could take them out the night before.


Winy Apple-Raisin Pie  April 2, 2011. If your guests are mainly adults, and you have a non alcoholic dessert for the junior set, this is a little different turn on an old standard. You can make it the day before, or even over the weekend. Using ready made pie crust lowers the stress level considerably. The top may look complex, but, it's just strips laid one way over strips laid the other way. You don't have to weave the strips. 

Winy Apple-Raisin Pie

Squash Apple Pie  October 30, 2010 This pie can be made from steamed acorn squash, butternut squash, or pumpkin. The result is pumpkin pie-ish, because the spices are what make the pie. It can be made this weekend and put safely in the refrigerator, one less thing to juggle in and out of the oven. It also calls for a pie shell, which you can buy at the store. 

French Silk Chocolate Pie  April 15, 2012. Well, why not a chocolate pie? All the pies at Thanksgiving don't have to be apple or pumpkin. The Pilgrims might have had a chocolate pie if they traded with Africa where people grew cocoa beans. Time consuming, but not difficult. The cook has to beat 4 eggs into the melted chocolate one at a time, for five minutes each, making 20 minutes of beating. Since the pie is chilled, not baked, it can be made ahead of time, Friday night, if you wish. It's really good.  

So, those are my suggestions. I hope somebody finds them useful. My overall advice is, 1. Make what you can ahead of time. 2. Think outside the box. 3. It doesn't have to be your grandmother's Thanksgiving. If you want to make lasagna, make lasagna. 4. I pass this one on from another foodie expert. Take out all your serving dishes early Thursday morning and decide what is going to go in what. Use sticky notes to remind you. If you don;t have a container for the fourth side dish, don't make it. Happy Thanksgiving. 


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Minetry McCoy's Miracle (Dessert)

Minetry McCoy's Miracle is one dessert that lives up to its name. It is one hell of a good chocolate dessert. It ought to be, after all, since it contains a pound of butter. It is somewhat time consuming to make, but not difficult. The cook does not have to stand for hours over the stove stirring a mixture that stubbornly refuses to thicken. There is a good bit of separating, beating, mixing and melting, all done the day before. On the up side, it is completely delicious, and will be finished long before your dinner party, allowing you some time to wash your hair, or the kitchen floor, as the case may be.
I decided to  make M.M.M. because of a package of ladyfingers. Our daughter's friend, Laura, is living in our basement for a while. She offered us the ladyfingers. While there were several unmade recipes calling for ladyfingers in the southern section of the cookbook, this one looked like the best. My husband wanted to make Charlotte Russe, another dessert requiring ladyfingers, but I frankly couldn't see the point of a dinner party without at least one recipe checked off the list.
There are two issues. Number one is it uses raw eggs. My daughter advised using organic eggs. I buy organic eggs anyhow because of an article I read about some horrible substance that mass chicken farmers use to feed their chickens. Readers will have to use their own judgement on that. I can say, I am writing this on Wednesday after we ate it Saturday night, and no one has dysentery or other ill effects.
 Number two is that of an ingredient, amaretti, or Italian macaroons. Thanks to the Internet, these are readily available for less than $5. Google will send you to a website called, which will allow you to order these tasty little cookies and have them on your kitchen counter in two or three days. Desdeforunamente, as they say in Spanish speaking countries, I did not avail myself of this wonderful cooking resource. At 8:00 on Friday night, I realized I didn't have the cookies and got on the phone to Safeway. Safeway didn't  have them. So I hopped in the car and went up to Whole Foods, where the cocktail party they run every Friday night had just dispersed. I wandered around Whole Foods for about 15 minutes in a daze of fatigue, but amaretti were not to be found.
It's kind of a technical problem because there are already two radically different kinds of macaroons on the market, neither of which I wanted. I didn't want coconut macaroons, and I didn't want what I can only term French macaroons, which are the scarlet, fuchsia, violet and baby blue cookies that look something like tiny hamburgers in rainbow colors. Bob had said amaretti look something like vanilla wafers.
So, after a last scan of the cookie shelves, I grabbed a box of vanilla wafers. The first instruction is for the amaretti to be soaked in bourbon. However, the little wheels in what my children occasionally call the pea brain were turning. Since amaretti and amaretto were virtually the same word, how about sprinkling the vanilla wafers with amaretto, the Italian liqueur famous in my house for making mai tais? That's what I did. I didn't use as much amaretto as the recipe called for, to hold the cookies together. As it was, they were somewhat soggy.
I beat the egg yolks before I creamed the butter and sugar, figuring it was probably okay to cream the butter and sugar with a little egg yolk.the directions say beat until light in color. I beat my egg yolks for about four minutes. One would need paint chips to detect lightness, but it seemed to be fine.  I mixed in the melted chocolate, vanila, pecans (after a discussion of what you call them,) (Is it peCANS, pee-cans, or what?) and whipped the egg whites. In the meantime, Bob, my husband, dealt with the ladyfingers. The recipe says split them, assuming they are similar to cake. These were similar to cookies, so they could not be split. He lined the spring form pan with them.
After that, I lined the base of the pan with the vanilla wafers, and began layering chocolate mixture and cookies. All went into the refrigerator.
The next night, before the guests came, Bob decanted the miracle. Unfortunately, he hadn't see the picture of the completed miracle and took it out of the pan upside down. What we see in the picture is a mosaic of vanilla wafers, not the lovely yummy chocolate topping. But I must say, it did not detract from the guests' enjoyment of the dessert. This one is definitely a keeper. Hats off to the inventive Ms. McCoy.

Minetry McCoy's Miracle

1 pound sweet butter
2 cups sugar
12 eggs, separated
48 amaretti (Italian macaroons)
1 cup bourbon
4 ounces (four squares) unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
24 double ladyfingers, approximately
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, whipped

1. Day before, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat the egg yolks until light and beat into creamed mixture.
2. Soak the amaretti in the bourbon. (or amaretto, if you prefer.)
3. Beat the chocolate into the butter mixture. Add the vanilla and pecans. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry and fold into the chocolate mixture.
4. Line a ten-inch springform pan around the side and on the bottom with split ladyfingers. Alternate layers of soaked macaroons and chocolate mixture in the lined pan. Chill overnight.
5 Next day, remove the sides of the pan and decorate the top of the dessert with whipped cream. Makes sixteen to twenty servings. (Minetry believed in modest little slices, apparently. We got about 10-12 servings out of this.)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mince Pies

This is mincemeat recipe number four in the Northeast section of the cookbook. It is not strictly vegetarian since it contains beef suet. Beef suet is "the hard fat around the kidneys." This may not sound like the most appetizing thing in the world. In fact, I can hear the eewws echoing across the Atlantic. However, beef suet adds a mild flavor of steak or roast beef to the dried fruits in the mincemeat.  The Fitday website says that suet can be used to recreate dishes from Victorian days such as steak and kidney pie. It is not low in fat, however, since, after all, it is fat.
I got the suet at Wagshall's, a fancy butcher shop on upper Massachusetts Avenue in DC. The place was packed with local residents ordering meat for the weekend. Filets of beef and thick porkchops flew off the counter. Wagshall's keeps the already ground suet in the freezer, since it turns rancid easily.
The suet was step one. I took it out of my purse (to avoid the bag tax) and left it on the counter to defrost.
Step two was reread the recipe. I was somewhat surprised to learn that this mincemeat was not cooked. In fact, the directions said to mix it by hand.  The canning instructions looked a little suspect. "Turn into clean jars and store, covered in a cool, dark, dry place. The mincemeat will keep for months." hmm.
I believe in making things easy for myself, so the first thing I did was put the stew pot on the stove and throw the semi-defrosted suet into the pot.  Having made three different kinds of mincemeat prior to this, I know that mincemeat is sticky, and that suet will not incorporate easily into the dried fruit. So, melt the suet.
The ingredients call for a dazzling array of dried fruit, some available at supermarkets, and some not. I advise getting the currents, the citron peel and the mixed candied fruit peel at This online business has a folksy story about being started by Grandpa as a tiny roadside fruit stand during the Depression, and now being run by Grandpa's grandson. That is all well and good, but they do have these hard-to-find ingredients, and they ship fast. 
The recipe says grind the fruit. I say, Cuisinart. I can't imagine trying to grind all this sticky dried fruit in a hand turned grinder. Actually, I can imagine it. Endless hours spent scraping out the inside of the grinder and picking the dried fruit out of the holes of the blade. Olvidate! Which is Spanish for fuggetaboutit. So, I buzzed the fruits in the Cuisinart, great sticky wads of dried fruit and stirred it all together in the big canning pot.
 Right now, it is still in the pot, in the refrigerator. Saint Margaret's Sunday is November 17. I will make some little pies for the post church feed, and can the rest of it the traditional way.
This mincemeat has the right taste and texture. I endorse this mincemeat recipe over Venison Mincemeat.  Unless you are an unremitting mincemeat fan, or have a very large mincemeat loving family, you could cut the recipe in half with no ill effects. You would make 3 pounds instead of six pounds, which would be enough for two to three standard size pies. If you think you want to make this for Thanksgiving, order your dried fruit now.

Mince Pies

1 pound beef suet ground
1 1/12 pounds golden raisins, ground
1/2 pound prunes, pitted and ground
1/2 pound dates, ground
1/2 pound mixed candied fruit peels, ground
1/2 pound citron peel, ground
3 tart green apples, peeled, cored and grated or finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds currents
1 pound dark brown sugar
6 ounces chopped blanched almonds
grated rind and juice of two lemons
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dark rum or cognac
short crust pastry for two-crust pie
1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Combine all the mincemeat ingredients very well, using the hands. Turn into clean jars and store, covered, in a cool, dark place. The mincemeat will keep for months.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
3. Roll out half the pastry to one-eighth-inch thickness and cut into two-inch circles. Fit into small muffin tins. Fill with mincemeat. Roll out remaining pastry and cut tops to fit the pies.
4.  Moisten the edges and pinch to seal. Make a steam hole in each pie, brush with egg and bake about twenty-five minutes, or until golden brown. The pies are best eaten warm.  Makes six pounds mincemeat; pastry makes one dozen little pies.

No-Fail Welsh Rabbit (Gluten-free)

Welsh Rabbit is a cheese sauce poured over bread. Why it is called welsh rabbit, no one on Wikipedia seems to know. The contributors are definite on the fact that it is rabbit, not rarebit. Some writers heap scorn on using rarebit to describe the dish. There is, or used to be, some kind of a stereotype about melted cheese being irresistible to the Welsh. The writer repeats a 16th century joke  involving melted cheese which purports to explain why there are no Welshmen (or women) in heaven.
Welsh Rabbit was one of those magic foods I lusted after in my meat and two vegetables eating childhood. For some reason, it featured heavily in young people's books of the early 20th Century. Boys at boarding school induced their families to send them large wheels of cheese, which they used to make welsh rabbit during midnight feasts. I drooled over the descriptions of those midnight feasts, even though they usually involved some peculiar ingredient that took the place of the beer.
I can't remember the first time I ever had welsh rabbit, but I do remember making it in August, 1978, during the week I slept in my office in Centerville, a tiny town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I had gotten my first journalism job, and decided to save money by moving out of the boarding house in Easton, and crashing at the office. Luckily, the office was equipped with a kitchen and, I guess, a few pots and pans. Welsh rabbit is cheap, which might explain why there are no fewer than four rabbit-like recipes for cheese dishes in the Southern section of The New York Times Heritage Cookbook. Cheddar cheese seems like a New England product, but I guess none of the New England contributors thought to send in a recipe for what my mother's generation remembered as something their fathers used to make during the cook's night out.
I made the Welsh Rabbit on Thursday night after dog training class. We are trying to learn to control the puppy who is a lovely dog, but can be completely insane. The rabbit took all of five minutes, about half the time that Bob took to make the salad.  The only thing you need to be careful about is stirring in the eggs. Do not overcook or the eggs will scramble, the recipe says. Keep it on a low heat, 4 on a gas stove, or less, and stir it.

No-Fail Welsh Rabbit (Gluten Free)

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour ( I used gluten free flour. Rice flour works well too.)
1 cup stale beer
2 cups cubed sharp Cheddar Cheese
2 eggs well beaten
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce or to taste
salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
4 slices toast

1. Melt the butter and add the flour. Stir in the beer. When the mixture is thickened and smooth, add the cheese, stirring.
2. When the cheese is melted, add the eggs and cook just until the eggs thicken. Do not overcook or the eggs will scramble. Add the Worcestershire , salt and cayenne. Serve with or on toast. Makes four servings. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Clam Souffle

Thank goodness our church has reestablished its dinner groups. Parishioners sign up as part of a revolving group of potluck diners. We all take turns hosting the dinners. Usually, the person who hosts makes the main course. Everyone else brings appetizers, salad, a vegetable or dessert. It's a great way to knock off some of these shellfish dishes that Bob can't eat, as well as meeting people you see every Sunday, but don't know who they are.
Saturday night we served up two main courses. I made clam souffle and Bob made chicken piccata. Safeway was out of rice flour, so it was not gluten free. If you want gluten free clam souffle, use rice flour instead of wheat flour.  We were cooking and cleaning at the same time, so I didn't get started on the souffle until just before the guests actually walked in the door. Really, that worked out  fine, as souffles have to be made, baked and eaten with dispatch. You don't want them sitting around, as my son would say, festering.
I had the base, the butter, flour, clam juice and cream made before I bolted upstairs for a shower. It was supposed to cool slightly so that gave it the opportunity to do so.
Back downstairs, I separated the eggs. Note that this recipe makes two souffles and uses 12 eggs. It would be easy to cut it in half.  When you are separating eggs and need a large quantity of egg whites, separate each egg into a small bowl, and add the egg white to the other egg whites. That way, you avoid contaminating eleven egg whites with a tiny bit of yolk from number twelve. If you do end up contaminating an egg white, you can add it to the four left over yolks for scrambled eggs the next morning.
Honestly, souffles are not particularly difficult if you possess a hand mixer. If you have never separated eggs, watch a you tube video and then practice with a dozen eggs. If you mess up, you can have scrambled eggs. Anyone can separate eggs with a little practice. Just don't be scared of the egg.
I beat the egg whites, folded them into the base and popped the souffles into the oven in their buttered dishes. The diners were full of complements. I found clam souffle somewhat bland. The clams don't have a great deal of taste, but that's just my opinion. If you like lightly flavored foods, go to it. You could also add things, like Parmesan cheese for extra flavor.

Clam Souffle

6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
1 cup clam juice
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups minced canned clams
8 egg yolks
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
grated nutmeg to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)
12 egg whites

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. melt the butter and blend in the flour. Mix the clam juice and cream and slowly add to the butter-flour mixture, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring, until thickened. (How thick? Kind of like cake batter, if that's any help.) Add the minced clams and remove from the heat to cool slightly.
3. Beat the egg yolks thoroughly and add to the sauce. Stir in the paresley and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
4. Beat the egg whites until firm. Fold them thoroughly into the sauce. Pour into two buttered two-quart souffle dishes and bake thirty-five minutes. Makes ten to one dozen servings.