Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Planning

We'll be joining a larger, extended family table for this year's holiday. And it means I'm asking myself:  what to bring?

I haven't yet found specific menu items that my husband and daughter and I can call "our" traditional Thanksgiving meal, so I'm not sure what we must have next week. But here are some of my initial considerations (all are in the running for being my contribution to this year's celebration):


From Dreena Burton's Vive le Vegan!
Cannellini Bean Yam Hummus  (Click HERE for my previous recipe review)

From Betty Crocker's Dinner in a Dish
Party Sandwich Loaf
(cream cheese frosted loaf of white bread, with three savory fillings)


From Anna Thomas' The Vegetarian Epicure
Holiday Vegetable Salad   (Click HERE for recipe on Google Books)
Per Anna, this is the "greatest of all composed salads."
(mushrooms, potatoes, apples, dill pickles, eggs, peas, carrots, pickled onions, chopped onion, vinegar, homemade mayonnaise, garnishes)

From SusanV's Fat Free Vegan Kitchen blog
The Best Vegan Green Bean Casserole (Click HERE for recipe)

From Dreena Burton's Eat, Drink & Be Vegan
Traditional Cranberry Sauce
Per Dreena, "You'll never buy another store-bought cranberry sauce after you've tasted this one."
(fresh cranberries, maple syrup, sea salt, vinegar)


From Betty Crocker's Hostess Cookbook
Baked Alaska Pumpkin Pie
"[P]ostpone this spectacular dessert until evening. Such a pumpkin pie deserves its own show...and a hungry audience!"
(Butter Brickle ice cream in a pie crust, covered with brown sugar meringue)

From Simply Vegetarian!
Orange-Pumpkin Pudding
(cooked & mashed pumpkin, eggs, honey, spices, topped with whipped cream)

Upside-Down Plum Cake
(whole wheat cake, sweetened with honey, topped with plums and elderberry jam)

And what are you planning for Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Baked Turnip Surprise

I picked-up an amazing cookbook at a garage sale early this fall:

The "Best-of-All" Cook Book
compiled and edited by Florence Brobeck
published 1960

At first it seemed like a boring, cheater cookbook. Ms. Brobeck has simply gathered recipes from never-before-heard-from, totally random cookbooks that had themselves been complied by someone. I mean, recipes from Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book by the Foods Editors of Better Homes and Gardens? Or the cookbook Who Says We Can't Cook! by Members of the Women's National Press Club? Or how about The A.B.C. of Spice Cookery and How To Use Spices, both by the American Spice Trade Association? I mean... really. How good could this cookbook actually be?

The answer:  Amazingly, wonderfully good.

I've rarely enjoyed reading a cookbook as much as I enjoyed reading The "Best-of-All" (and I've read a lot of cookbooks. What I lack in the desire to cook I totally make up for in lazy couch sitting and the paging through recipes).

The variety of dishes is vast (which is as you'd expect it, since Brobeck has sampled recipes from over one hundred different cookbooks) and thus incredibly interesting. And even the recipes promoting the original compilers' product (Fun with Coffee from the Pan-American Coffee Bureau, anyone?) first just made me giggle because I was reminded of Anne of Green Gables' romantic short story (about baking power, wasn't it?) and secondly it ended-up striking me as crazy-obvious that of course the group that promotes an ingredient is going to know a lot about said ingredient and it follows that one might want to listen to the experts when they share their ideas.

So, what exciting recipe did I try from the super-exciting cookbook? Baked Turnips! Of course.

But by this time (a long-winded post, I know. Get on with it, woman!) you're wondering what the surprise is, right?

Well, I was slicing up turnips yesterday for the recipe when, as it would turn out, it dawned on me that my "turnips" were actually beets.

Wouldn't you say these are turnips? 

Now, I cannot totally confirm this. I've looked through the CSA website and I've Googled turnips and beets and also tried rutabagas and even double-checked daikon radishes, but I have yet to see a picture of the root vegetables that I found myself cooking last night. (BTW, have you ever researched the different types of beets, turnips and rutabagas? Millions of different kinds. Or at least ten. I've lived such a sheltered life.) In the end, I must admit I have no idea what I actually brought home from the CSA.

But then look! Crazy insides!

It's so confusing.

Maybe this meal should be call Baked Turnip Confusion.

Well, no matter what name you slap on it, the dish was delightful. May I introduce:

Baked Turnips? Beets? Rutabagas? 
Anonymous Root Vegetable 
(with White & Purple & Green Outsides 
and Red & White Insides)

originally from 
The Gentle Art of Cookery 
by Mrs. C. F. Leyel and Miss Olga Hartley

6 small white turnips [or whatever]
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese [I used Swiss*]
Ground nutmeg
Salt & pepper
1 cup milk or thin white sauce
3 Tbls bread crumbs
1 Tbls butter

Start oven at moderate (350 degrees F). Butter 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Scrub turnips [or whatever], rinse, drain, and pare. Slice thinly into greased dish in alternate layers with cheese; season each layer of turnips [or whatever] lightly with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Add little cayenne to top layer, pour milk or white sauce over contents of dish, sprinkle top with crumbs, dot with butter. Bake in moderate oven 35 minutes, or until turnips [or whatever] are done. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

*As a rule, I hate Swiss cheese. But yesterday my fridge was full of it (weird story) and figured I'd like it better cooked in a dish, flavors mingling, than by itself on crackers where it's nasty dry bitter taste is overpowering and chokes out your will to live. And I was right! Baked with whatever-they-were, the Swiss cheese tasted great. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Squash Soup (two variations)

After receiving a windfall of veggies today I knew it was time to get cookin'! I decided to focus on the butternut squash, and I picked up my copy of Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World; paging through, this recipe caught my eye. Though its name calls for pumpkin, the ingredient list allows for butternut squash as well.

Moroccan Pumpkin Soup

from Olive Trees and Honey by Gil Marks

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 leeks (white & light green parts only) or 2 onions, chopped
8 cups vegetable stock or water
2 to 3 lbs pumpkin, butternut squash, or other winter squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (5-6 cups)
3 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 cup dried yellow split peas
2 carrots, cut into chunks (optional)
1 to 4 Tbls packed brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground tumeric or saffron thread
1/8 tsp ground allspice or freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp salt
ground black pepper to taste
parsley or cilantro or toasted pumpkin seeds or sauteed mushrooms

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute until soft, about 5 mins. Add the stock, pumpkin, chickpeas, optional carrots, sugar, spices, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the pumpkin is very soft, about 50 mins. Discard the cinnamon sticks.

2. To serve, garnish with parsley or pumpkin seeds, or top each bowl with a little mount of sauteed mushrooms.


Fiery Pumpkin Soup

Make the recipe above but omit the cinnamon, ginger and allspice. Add, with the onion, 1 minced clove garlic and 1 minced small hot green chili or Scotch bonnet chili, or add about 1 tsp cayenne and 1/2 tsp ground cumin with the pumpkin.

I had one Georgia Flame pepper and wanted to make the spicy option, but because my toddler doesn't always enjoy spicy foods I decided to make the basic recipe as well. I divided the onions, squash, carrots, lentils and liquid between two pots and added the sweet spices to one pot, garlic and the diced pepper to the other.

Extremely Delish! Would be a great dinner for company this autumn. Serve with green salad and hearty bread with butter.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Yogurt Nan

Ever buy one of those giant tubs of plain yogurt and then realize it's weeks later and you must use it up immediately or toss it out? That exact situation was the inspiration for my searching for and deciding upon this recipe.

A success! My toddler, especially, enjoys these breads, and using the freezer and the oven methods I've been able to bake fresh bread for her even on weekday (work) mornings. What a treat, to have hot steamy fresh bread available each morning. Totally worth taking the time for the preparation on a weekday night or weekend morning.

Yogurt Nan
from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe

1/4 cup wrist-temperature water
1 1/4 tsp yeast (1/2 a package)
pinch of sugar
1 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbs olive oil or unsalted butter, melted (plus extra for brushing the breads)
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups plus 2 Tbs unbleached all-purpose flour (plus more for handling dough)
cornmeal (opt)
coarse salt (opt)

Place the water in a med-size bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast and sugar, and let it stand for 5 mins. Add yogurt, olive oil or melted butter, and salt and whisk until smooth.

Add one cup of the flour, whisking until it is incorporated. Switch to a wooden spoon, and mix in the remaining flour. Lightly flour your hands and knead the dough, still in the bowl, for a minute or two, or until the dough is smooth (it will be quite soft).

Gently lift the dough, spray/spread the bowl underneath it with oil and then put the dough back down. Lightly spray its top surface with oil as well. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towl and leave it in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.

When the dough has risen, lightly flour your fist, punch down the dough, and turn it out onto a clean, floured work surface. The dough will be very soft and slightly wet. Use a knife or kitchen scissors to cut the dough into 8 equal pieces, then briefly shape each piece into a ball with your hands. Let the balls rest for 5 mins.

Generously flour a rolling pin and the work surface, and without kneading or handling the "rested" balls, roll each one into a very thin circle 7 to 8 inches in diameter. The breads are now ready to cook [or freeze].

To Freeze: line a plate with plastic wrap and place a rolled-out, unbaked flatbread on top. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on top of the bread. Continue layering plastic wrap and rolled-out flatbreads. Seal the whole thing including plate in a large ziplock and place in freezer for about 45 mins. Remove the plate and plastic wrap and place the separately frozen breads back into the bag. Will keep for a month in the freezer. You can bake them as needed, one or more at a time, straight from the freezer. (They are so thin the fact that they are frozen does not increase their cooking time.)

Cooking with the Oven Method (there's also a griddle method, which I do not record here): Preheat the oven to 450F. Oil a baking tray or sprinkle lightly with cornmeal or flour. Lay the breads flat on the tray and bake for about 5 mins. Turn them over and bake for 5 minutes more or until golden brown in spots but still supple.

Brush the tops with olive oil or melted butter and sprinkle with course salt, if desired. Serve hot or warm.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Beet Casserole

If you were just thinking: I wonder what other delightful beet dishes Well-Cookbooked has tried lately? than this post is sure to please! (And even if you weren't thinking that, I think this is a recipe you can still enjoy.)

Technically I didn't so much cook this recipe as I did pick it out of a book and tell my husband to make it. But I did the cookbook perusal and the shopping for ingredients, so I'm including it and counting it toward my 5-recipes-from-each-book goal.

Russian Beet Casserole
Preheat oven to 400 F.

Steam until soft: 
3 1/2 peeled and chopped beets (about 6 med sized)
1 3/4 chopped onion

Mix with:
2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
Scant 1 cup plain yogurt
1/8 tsp each salt & pepper

Bake 10 mins. The cheese seems to disappear if overcooked.

Serve over rice, noodles or toast.

My favorite beet recipe so far! I was surprised, actually, because while I'd picked the recipe because it'd use up a good portion of beets, I wasn't really expecting to like it. But I did--it was scrumptious! The beets were al dente (though cooked enough to be sweet, since raw beets can be bitter) and the onion was a savoury touch, but then the sharp cheddar was, well, cheesy and the yogurt was slightly sour... All together it was complex and delicious. I would definitely make this recipe again.

Having this dish turn out so well makes me look forward to trying out other recipes from the cookbook. This came from Simply Vegetarian! [yes, complete with exclamation point]. My copy is the revised edition from 1989 with Nancy Mair and Susan Rinzler.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Russian Salad

I was able to try out a new cookbook today:

Susan R. Friedland's Shabbat Shalom: Recipes and Menus for the Sabbath.

I actually bought this cookbook for my father last spring. And I suppose I still mean to send it to him, though I seem to have forgotten to pack it up and ship it to him prior to either Father's Day or his birthday. (Am I really that cookbook obsessed that I can't let one out of my grasp? Not even one purchased as a gift for someone? Hmmm...) Well, it'll make it out to him eventually. And in the meantime, I can make a recipe or two and let him know how they turn out. It'll be all part of his gift. I'm helping him decide which recipes are good.

Today I was dealing with a serious beet overstock situation. I was making a triple batch of borscht and needed a side dish. Happily, this salad was a snappy side for my soup and used-up even more beets.

Russian Salad
1 lb beets
2 lbs potatoes
1 cup cubed carrot
1 cup shelled peas, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp white-wine vinegar
2 Tbls olive oil
1 cup minced scallion
2 medium cucumbers,  seeded and cubed
2 hard-boiled eggs
2 Tbls capers [I omitted these. Didn't have any.]
1/4 cup minced dill

My short-hand version of her directions:

First cook the beets (steam them in a covered dish in the oven until tender--about 50-90 mins). And you boil the potatoes until tender. Both beets & potatoes should then be cooled and then eventually skinned and cut into same-sized pieces.

Boil the carrot in salted water for 15 mins and add the peas for the last 15 seconds. Drain.

Mix the mayo, mustard, vinegar, olive oil, and scallion together to make the dressing.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Garnish with the hard-boiled eggs and capers [if you have them] and dill.

Purple food is the best!

Very tasty. I'm not usually one to single the praises of cold potato anything, but adding the cucumber, peas, and beets to the potatoes gave this salad a sophistication far beyond anything its plain potato salad cousin can muster. I do believe I'll make this again.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pumpkin Saag

One small pumpkin, tons of garlic, a section of fresh ginger that needs to be used up, and what seems to be acres upon acres of chard... What's a woman to make?

Rainbow chard. It's pretty and grows & grows & grows...

I decided to focus on the pumpkin and searched through a few cookbooks for inspiration, finally alighting on Moskowitz & Romero's Veganomicon Their recipe for Pumpkin Saag was easily adapted to assist me with my I-have-so-much-chard-I-could-scream situation.

Pumpkin Saag
3 pounds sugar pumpkin
3 Tbls oil [the recipe calls for peanut oil, but due to daughter's allergy I used olive]
1 large onion, diced finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala 
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup water
1-inch cube fresh ginger, peeled
2 bunches fresh spinach chard greens, washed well and chopped coarsely
juice of 1/2 lime [I used the cheater plastic-lime kind]

First they have you cut the pumpkin in half (clean out the stringy insides and the seeds) and bake the two halves cut-side-down on a cookie sheet at 350 F for about 45 mins. Then you let the pumpkin cool completely and, once cool, you peel off the tough skin and chop the pumpkin up into 1 inch cubes.

Next you saute the onions in oil for a few minutes, then add the garlic and saute for a few more minutes.

Once the onions and garlic are lightly browned, you add the pumpkin and cook until heated (about 3 mins). Add the spices and salt and ginger. Add the water and cook for 5 minutes, mixing often. Finally, add the greens in batches, mixing well after each addition.

Cook for another 10 minutes or so, stirring often. Add the lime. Adjust the salt. Allow to sit for a bit before serving.

The cookbook suggests pairing this with basmati rice, chutney and flat bread, which would have been good, but we kept it simple and served it atop brown rice.

It was delish, and made for tasty, beautifully aromatic leftovers to take to work.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Garam Masala

I made curry this weekend and the recipe called for garam masala.

Penzey's will sell it to you, but you can make it yourself, if you have the inkling.

From The Spice Box: A Vegetarian Indian Cookbook 
by Manju Shivraj Singh:

Garam Masala, Powdered
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns 
16 whole cloves
6 whole cardomom seeds (green)
1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon whole black, small cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds

The directions say to grind all of the above in a coffee grinder or pepper mill, but I went old school and used my mortar and pestle. (Also: I don't have a coffee grinder.) 

Took a few minutes, but I was pleased with the results (though my arm was too tired to take any more photos). 

According to the cookbook, households in northern India insist upon grinding garam masala fresh daily.  If I had to do that... I would probably invest in a coffee grinder. ;-)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pumpkin Seeds

Last year I tried to roast pumpkin seeds. The charred, inedible remains of that attempt were in my mind today when I had the guts of a pumpkin spread out before me.

Could I carry on alone? 

No. I needed professional help. 

I looked through four or five different cookbooks before I found directions for roasting the seeds. (I believe most cookbook authors have written recipes based on the premise that their readers can figure out basic one or two ingredient recipes--as in, pumpkin seeds and salt--on their own. They apparently didn't know I'd be one of their readers.)

I was grateful to find Didi Emmons didn't overestimate my cooking abilities. Her Vegetarian Planet includes directions for roasting pumpkin seeds. And if you're like me and lack all culinary skill, perhaps you'll appreciate this as much as I: 

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
To prepare the seeds, put them with the attached strings into a colander, and separate the strings from the seeds under cold running water. Spread the seeds on a baking sheet, and bake them at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil, some ground black pepper, and salt. Bake the seeds 40 minutes more, stirring from time to time.

My oven tends to run hot, so my seeds were a bit scorched when I checked on them at the 20 minute mark. I turned the dial down to 300 and only cooked them for 20 more minutes.

Not just edible, totally delicious!

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Cooked Borscht!!!

That's right, I actually got myself into the kitchen and cooked something from one of my cookbooks! I think it was the scent of woodburning stoves permeating the neighborhood this morning; just seemed like a day when one should be in the kitchen, making something warm and nourishing.

I chose to make borscht, since we have a garden full of beets and onions and received even more beets and onion--not to mention tons of raw garlic--in our CSA this weekend.

What I like about this recipe is that it uses the entire beet--root with peel and leaves and stems--not just a peeled root. Waste not, want not!

From The New Laurel's Kitchen

Whole Beet Borscht

  • 1 small onion [I used two]
  • 1 clove garlic [I used three!]
  • 2 tsp oil [I used extra virgin olive oil]
  • 2 Tbls flour
  • 5 cups stock or water [I used some of the frozen stock we still have saved from this spring]
  • 1 bunch beets and their greens (3 large or 6 small) [I tossed in a few extra]
  • 1 potato
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1/2 small cabbage
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 Tbls tomato past or 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped [I used the fresh option, since I had them on hand]

Chop onion and saute with garlic clove in oil. Mash garlic clove when onion is translucent and browning. Stir in flour and cook gently for a minute. Add stock or water and bring to a boil.
Meantime, trim roots of beets, saving the good leaves and stems. Grate beets, potato, and carrot, or slice them thin. Slice celery thin. Add these and simmer 10 minutes while you shred the cabbage and chop the beet leaves and stems small. Add these and bay leaf, salt, pepper, honey and tomato to the vegetable mixture. Simmer until all vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaf.
Makes 10 cups.

Mmmm. Nothing quite like beets. You either love 'em or you hate 'em. You've probably already figured-out which side of that fence my family and I are on...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Post In Which I Discuss Frugalness & Cranberries

I actually thought my cookbook buying days were ending. No longer can I pop into Saint Vincent de Paul's and find books for $1.00. No, they've increased their prices to a bloated $3.00-$4.00 a cookbook. And I cannot abide it.

I've held in my hand several Frugal Gourmet cookbooks these past months, nearly talking myself into a splurge. But I've always finally held off, not convinced that my fanatical need for cookbooks is at the stage where I pay more than $2.00 a pop. Especially for a cookbook which contains "Frugal" in its title.

Today, my patient tightwadedness feels triumphant. I can still find cookbooks for less than a buck here in Madison:  at my local library's book sale. I arrived in time for their "we'll sell you anything you can fit into this bag for $3" clearance. And did I ever manage to pack my paper bag full. I believe even a professional grocery store bagger would have been impressed. Final total: sixty-three books, five of which were cookbooks. My haul included Jeff Smith's The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American, which I well remember from my younger days (having read many of Jeff Smith's books and spending hours watching his show on PBS). So HAH, Saint Vincent's! I just bought a cookbook for less than $0.10 and I more than ever convinced that your new $4.00 prices are rip-offs.

Don't be scared-off by the odd Boy Scouts/granny/turkey photo on the front cover. This is a good book!

So, you ask, upon my initial review of the book, what have I discovered? Let me tell you. The chapter on cranberries. It's nearly cranberry season, and I literally had no idea the amazing options we'll soon have. Oh yes, it's beyond sauce. Far beyond. There's going to be:

  • Cranberry Fool (sweetened cranberries, almond extract, orange peel & whipping cream)
  • Cranberry Cheddar Sandwiches (buttered bread spread with cranberry sauce and cheddar, broiled)
  • Cranberry Pie (berry pie! using cranberries!)
  • Cranberry Dumplings (Mr. Smith warns that these are addictive)
  • Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries (fresh cranberries added to a sweet potato souffle)

That's right. I'm actually vowing to begin cooking again soon. Within the month. Exclusively with cranberries.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Food Blogger Writing about Food Columnist

I've just finished reading Wild in the Kitchen, a cookbook by Will Jones, a former columnist at the Minneapolis Tribune. Picked up the cookbook (published in 1961) for a smooth $2 at St. Vinny's (LOVE that place!). Oddly enough, I can't find hide nor hair of the cookbook online. Imagine! In all the world of Amazon, no one is selling a copy? Hmmmm...

I'd never heard of Will Jones, but I gather his column was as a food critic (I get the information that he was a columnist from the book jacket). And I'm guessing specifically critic because while his writing is that of a foodie, his recipes are all scavenged from others. Other cooks, restaurants, other people's mother and aunts, other cooking club members. Very very seldom does he claim a recipe as as his own creation (and when he does, it often includes sliced white Pepperage Farm bread as it's main ingredient. Yes, sugared/fried white bread is one of his concoctions.)

So personal chef extraordinare he's not. Nevertheless he seems to have the tastebuds for this sort of life (food writing) and the descriptions he includes for each and every recipe remind me exactly of how today's funny food bloggers write a post (I'm including myself in that group. I realize my claim hangs by only the most tenuous of threads. Let me live my dream, please.)

These two recipe, for brownies and accompanying peach topping, will be the first on my list to try. Once I reenter the kitchen and will myself to pick up a mixing spoon, that is. (Maybe by Christmas?)

Mr. Jones describes these as brownies of authority, "not to be confused with the chocolate dog biscuits commonly made to assuage packs of hungry children."

Grownup Brownies
[credited to Mrs. Bowen]

Step One:
2 squares bitter chocolate
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1/8 tsp salt
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup nuts, chopped
1 tsp vanilla

Melt chocolate. Add sugar, butter & salt. Add beaten egg yolks, flour, vanilla and nuts. Mix well. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Bake in an eight-inch square plan at 350 for about twenty minutes. Cool.

Step Two: Frosting

2 squares bitter chocolate
1/4 cup cream
1 1/2 Tbls butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten slightly
1/2 tsp vanilla

Melt chocolate. Mix chocolate, cream, butter, sugar, and egg in a heavy pan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil one minute, sturring. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and cool. Beat two or three minutes. Spread onto brownies. Refrigerate overnight. Cut into sixteen squares.

Serve brownies accompanied by

Peaches with Wine
[credited to M. Barrows and Co., previously published in The New Serve It Buffet]

4 large ripe well-flavored peaches
3/4 cup any good red wine
2 Tbls powdered sugar
1 piece cinnamon
1/2 lemon peel, grated

Slice the peeled peaches into a bowl, and cover them until the wine mixture is ready. Heat the wine with the other ingredients in an enamel, glass or agate double boiler until boiling; then pour, while still boiling, over the peaches. Let this stand covered for at least two hours. Then turn it into a serving dish.

Friday, July 9, 2010

My Fannie

Alas, my heinie is getting bigger monthly even without me cooking (perhaps because I'm not cooking). But that's not the subject of this post. I'm talking about the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. What a fun book.

Its full title is The All New Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook.

::talk about a mouthful!::

My tenth edition copy was purchased for $1 at St Vincent's and hails from some tidy kitchen in 1959. I fear that the previous owner cooked nary an item from the book, it's in such pristine condition. I hope to spill upon it some spaghetti sauce or some other gooey nummy substance so it at least appears to have been loved by someone.

One bit I find amusing: this edition contains the preface to the first edition (1896), a quote which reveals Fannie's hope for a near-future America that I don't believe has yet been realized:

"... the time is not far distant when a knowledge of the principles of diet will be an essential part of one's education. Then mankind will eat to live, will be able to do better mental and physical work, and disease will be less frequent." 

Can't say that America is here as she'd predicted, but still nice, no?

I am perhaps overly proud that I have actually MADE SOMETHING from this cookbook. I'd forgotten about it when I'd written my last post. I made---wait for it---French Dressing. That's right! A vinaigrette. Fancy.

French Dressing
Mix in a bottle or jar with a cover
1/2 cup olive or salad oil
2 Tbs mild vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 clove garlic
Cover. When ready to serve, remove the garlic and shake hard to blend. Makes 1/2 cup.

Here's what I don't understand. If you buy French dressing at the grocery store, it's red. It's sweet and red. But when you make it from a recipe it's your regular every-day vinaigrette like you'd imagine your store-bought Italian to be. 

I don't really understand it. I just accept it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Post In Which I Reveal My Craziness

I think I may actually have a problem. I am an obsessive cookbook collector. Cookbook maniac.  I know that's, like, the point of this entire blog--too many cookbooks and not enough cooking--but I think I've officially turned into a cookbook freak.

I haven't been posting here, not because I'm lazy (though I am) but because I honestly haven't cooked a single thing (nope, not a single thing) in months. Months! Nevertheless...

I've [somehow] managed to procure 6 (or 10) more cookbooks.

Good ones!!

And some bad ones that are rather funny and embrace their badness.

I plan to share them with you, even if I don't in fact cook anything right off the bat.

Here's a good one:   The Night Before Cookbook by Paul Rubinstein & Leslie Rubinstein (1967).

It's big idea:  prepare most of your party foods the day/evening before so that the night of the big event you don't have to rush around like a mad person getting ready. They tell you what to prepare in what order, how to store it, and how to put the finishing touches on the next day. Brilliant!

The introduction was what caught my eye and demanded that I buy the book to read it in its entirety. This quote in particular, written by Leslie about her husband, Paul:

Paul was not only born with a silver spoon in his mouth--it was filled with pate de foie gras

Funny, right? Gross, and no one should be eating foie gras, much less feeding it to a baby (click here to be cool and learn all about it from Kate Winslet), but it gave me the impression that here were some rich food snobs who were trying to impress me with their recipes. I bet they were pretty good recipes if these folks had their fashionable reputations on the lines. And so I've read and I really have been impressed. One dessert recipe in particular, Bombe Rothschild--a fantastical ice cream cake stuffed with chocolate and covered in cookies and chocolate sauce--sounds really impressive.

Will I actually make any recipes from Night Before? I hope so. I hope I whip up all sorts of recipes from each and every one of my ever growing stash of cookbooks. For now, however, I'm content to sit back and read of decadent foods. While sipping water and maybe scarfing a potato chip or two.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Use Your Noodle, My Friends

Taking a break from my usual blogging purpose & propose you ponder this:

No one claims that a packet of ramen noodles is the best for you. MSG, lots of other seasonings I can't begin to pronounce, and super yummy fatty noodles do not a health food make.

However, at $0.10 a packet your wallet (and your belly) always feel happy when it's for dinner (I believe MSG's affect on your brain may have something to do with that).

But. If you're one to avoid and/or scoff at the idea of a $0.10 meal, in all its MSG-laden goodness, there is now somewhere to turn for relief.

Enter Japanese chef Schiochi Fujimaki. He'll whip you up a bowl (well, it takes three days) of some fabulous noodle soup and he'll only charge you $110.00 for the experience.

Is that a 3,000% difference in price? For a bowl of noodles? (I'm not good at math!)

Yet in his defense: this dish is "25 years of [his cooking] experience distilled into one bowl." If I'd spent 25 years learning how to perfect something, even noodles, I suppose I too would want at least $100 a pop for its creation.

Best news: you soon won't even have to go to Japan to order some. Fujimaki is planning on opening a restaurant in LA.

Perfect. See ya there!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Care for Curried Carrots?

As mentioned in my last post, I have 5 lbs of carrots to cook. Thank you Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero for this tasty, zippy recipe I found in my copy of Veganomicon.

Curried Carrot Dip
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds (salted are okay, just add less salt)
  • 2 teaspoons grapeseed or other vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced raw garlic
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Boil the carrots for 7 to 10 minutes, until soft. Drain and let cool just until they are no longer steaming.
Place the sunflower seeds in a blender or food processor and process into crumbs. Add all remaining ingredients and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the processor as you go. 
Taste for salt and adjust the spices and lemon. Transfer to a covered container and refridgerate until ready to use (at least 30 minutes).

It's an attractive dip (I actually took pictures! I just need to load them onto my computer... I'll get to it this weekend)--orange, with a texture similar to hummus. And far more pleasing to look at than those sad, pale ranch or dill dips that everyone usually brings to potlucks.

Thinking about serving this dip with carrot sticks gives me an icky cannibalistic vibe; thankfully it pairs well with crackers, bagel chips and cucumber sticks or rounds. It would also be great tucked into a pita with some lettuce and maybe some raisins.

Mama and Baby Girl give this recipe a thumbs up. Daddy hasn't tried it yet (but I suspect he'll like it).

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Carrot Soup

I found a 5lb bag of organic carrots on sale for $3 last week and snatched that deal right up. My husband tells me I'm crazy, but I swear I will cook wonderful things with those roots before they spoil. I swear it!

My first creation is from Laurel Robertson's The New Laurel's Kitchen

Carrot Soup
Makes 8 cups
  • 5 medium-large carrots
  • 2 small potatoes (or 1 large)
  • 1 bunch leeks (or 1 large onion)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or oil
  • 1 teaspoon dry tarragon leaves or 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
Cut carrots in 1" chunks, quarter the potatoes, and place both in a 2-quart sauce pan. Add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender. Remove and discard potato peels.
Meanwhile, wash leeks thoroughly and chop them coarsley. If they are very muddy, chop them first and rinse well in a sieve after chopping. Saute in butter along with the tarragon. Use blender or food processor to puree the vegetables in batches, adding the milk, stock, and salt. Return soup to pot; add pepper and wine, and reheat.

My concern/confusion about this recipe:
I covered the carrots and potatoes and cooked them. But then, though it says to discard the potatoes peels, it doesn't actually tell you to drain the water. I was faced with a dilemma. Toss the carrot/potato water and then add new milk and stock and heat or keep the water and add the milk and stock to it OR keep the water, add the milk and don't add any additional stock because that would be too liquidy.

I chose door number three. I kept the water in which I'd boiled the roots, added everything to that pot, and then used an immersion blender to blenderize the carrots and potatoes and onions. And it worked really well! I'm not sure my soup turned out just as it was intended to, but I (and my husband and my daughter) were happy with the results. Mmmm, carrots.

P.S.  Is it ridiculous that I don't take pictures of anything I cook for this blog? I just keep forgetting...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Most Eggcellent Sandwich!

A quick and easy recipe, and my first from the ├╝ber famous Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron.

Egg Salad Spread

Mix a crumbled hard-cooked egg with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise and a tablespoon of any or all of the following: diced celery or onion, fresh parsley, tofu, and mashed beans.

I used an egg, Miracle Whip, and a tablespoon of canned (drained and rinsed) white kidney beans, smushed them together, spread the mixture on wheat bread, and cut the sandwich into small pieces.

Uli turned up her nose at the food initially, no doubt due to the unfamiliarity of the meal (she's had bread, she's had hardboiled eggs, but I'd rarely, if ever, given her an actual sandwich before). But once she got over her suspicion (I put the sandwich pieces on my own plate, which she loves to steal food from) she gobbled it up. A success!


From what I've gathered, everyone who has had a baby in the last ten years has received Yaron's book at her shower. Perhaps because I asked for mostly recycled, resale-store items for my shower (I recommend it!) I missed-out on that trend, but ended up buying the book myself after hearing so much about it. And I will say it has a LOT (a lot a lot a lot) of information packed into it.

More that just recipes, Yaron includes growth charts, nutrition 101, food prep and sanitation tips, pro-pasteurization rants, storage/freezing ideas, and a conservative food introduction schedule. Filled with recipes appropriate for both the new-to-solids infant as well as the adults who live with her, nevertheless much of the book (about 1/3) consists of household tips ranging from the already well known (how to make cleaners from vinegar and baking soda) to the truly bizarre (make your own "pesticide" by spraying dead bugs on your plants' leaves--you hunt for dead bugs, grind them up in your blender with some water, strain, and put in a spray bottle. This apparently freaks other bugs out and they'll leave your plants alone).

We'll see. Reading Super Baby Food kinda makes my head hurt (seriously, each page is crammed full--the page I just opened to as an example has 12 recipes on it (not including variations), but it does seem to be a wealth of information (if not a tad to obsessive about pasturization). I'll flip through and cook a few more things and we'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Gingered Squash

No silly puns for this recipe. Just tasty goodness from [The New] Laurel's Kitchen by Laurel Robertson, Caroly Flinders, and Brian Ruppenthal.

Sandy's Gingered Squash

3 cups hot, cooked, mashed winter squash
1 1/2 tsp butter
pinch salt
2 Tbls finely minced fresh ginger
juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbls honey

Mix all ingredients, adjusting the amount of lemon and honey as required for balance. (It will depend on how sweet your squash is).

Makes about 3 cups, or 4 to 6 servings.

Photo care of Spork and Knife

This was an extremely simple recipe to make. However, I regret to say that I made it quickly one afternoon because I had a squash that wasn't going to last much longer and as it turned out that evening my family and I ended up going out to eat at a restaurant with my in-laws. And then we ate things at home on future nights that the sweet squash wouldn't complement. And then it was Christmas. And then it was New Year's. And now the squash really really needs to be tossed from the fridge, even though it was "Food-Saver-ed."

So no family reactions to this recipe because they didn't, in fact, eat any of it. But I did (several spoonfulls) and it was lovely.

I will certainly make this dish again. On a night when we are not going out to a restaurant. ;-)