Thursday, October 30, 2008

Guacamole with Cottage Cheese

Sometimes, it seems to me that this blog is a never ending cavalcade of foods I couldn't stand or never tried as a child. Today's recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites is half stuff I couldn't stand, and half stuff I loved beyond all passion -- take that, cavalcade!
Guacamole with Cottage Cheese

Before you even taste this guacamole, you will be impressed by its lovely light green shade. We've never seen anything quite like it before, and the bonus is that it doesn't darken a bit as it sits, the way most other guacamoles do. Collective member Ned Asta's seven-year-old son Tazio devoured most of this recipe in one sitting and asked if he could have it every time he went to Moosewood.

1 ripe avocado, preferably Hass
2/3 cup low-fat cottage cheese
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped scallions
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh chile
2 garlic cloves, pressed
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Slice the avocado in half lengthwise and separate the halves by gently twisting. Remove the pit. With a tablespoon or soup spoon, scoop out the flesh of each half. In a food processor, combine the avocado, cottage cheese, lime juice, scallions, chile, and garlic and purée until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately or chill.

The flavor of the guacamole will increase in intensity as it sits.

Makes 1 1/2 cups
Total time: 10 minutes
Yeah... I'm nearly ashamed to admit it, but I couldn't stand to be near an avocado when I was growing up. A high school friend turned me around on that point the summer of, right after college graduation. I was a late bloomer. Cottage cheese and I go way back, though. I like it plain. I like it sweet. I like it savory.

And, yes, I like it in guacamole.

It's great served with the black bean chilaquile, or any other spicy TexMex dish. It's also great on chips, or with any other dip-able. I also like it schmeared onto a turkey sandwich. Mmmm...

Did you know that all Hass avocados descend from one avocado tree? Mail man Rudolph Hass had a particularly lovely avocado tree in his back yard, and patented the tree back in the 30s. It survived until 2002, and every Hass avocado tree is a descendant of Mr. Hass's original mother tree.

I love that you can get fresh avocados all year long. They're never out of season! And once you learn how to judge a ripe avocado, you'll be able to whip up guac whenever you want. My ripeness trick? Flick off the stem "button" -- if it comes right off, the avocado is ripe. If it doesn't come off without resistance, it's not ripe yet. If you don't want to use the avocado right away, buy it under-ripe; it'll be perfect in a day or two.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pasta with Chickpeas

One of the signs of a well-loved recipe in a well-loved book: pencil marks. Today's recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites has calculated Weight Watchers Points next to all the ingredients, and then a total-points-for-the-whole-recipe in the upper corner. See, though the recipe may say it serves 4 to 6, it has pasta in it, and that makes it a crazy guessing game for serving size around me. Pasta = more, please.
Pasta with Chickpeas

Pasta with Chickpeas is considered an unusual dish in the United States, but this combination is very common in Italian cuisine. In ancient Rome, Horace wrote about it with longing and glad anticipation. Tomatoes are a relatively recent addition to the sauce.

Our tasty sauce, thick and substantial with a high protein and high fiber content, is quickly produced from economical pantry items. There is just enough rosemary to make it interesting without being overpowering; use fresh rosemary so that the whole sprigs can be removed from the sauce.

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3 fresh rosemary sprigs, 2 inches each
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 cups chopped fresh or 3 cups canned tomatoes (28-ounce can, undrained)
3 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (two 15- or 16-ounce cans)
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 pound short chunky pasta, such as ditalini, tubetti, or orecchiette
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
chopped fresh tomatoes (optional)

Combine the onions, garlic, rosemary, and oil in a well-seasoned skillet or nonstick saucepan and sauté on low heat for about 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and golden. Add the tomatoes and half of the chickpeas and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove the rosemary sprigs and discard (see Note). In a blender, purée the tomato-chickpea mixture until smooth. Return it to the skillet, stir in the remaining chickpeas, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, bring a large covered pot of water to a boil. When the water boils, add the pasta, stir, cover the pot, and return to a boil. Stir the pasta again and cook, uncovered, until al dente. Drain the pasta. In a large serving bowl, toss the pasta with the chickpea sauce and serve immediately. Sprinkle with feta cheese or pass the feta at the table and top with tomatoes, if desired.

Note: For a stronger rosemary flavor, strip the leaves from one of the rosemary sprigs and add them to the blender with the tomato-chickpea mixture before puréeing.

Serves 4 to 6
Total time: 20 minutes
So quick! So easy! So darned tasty!

But...Horace and chickpeas? Turns out, he does mention them. And why not? Chickpeas (or garbanzos, or cecis) have a long history. According to Wikipedia, there've been 7,500 year old chickpeas found. And, no, they weren't in my cupboard (oldest chickpeas there: probably about 7 years...).

What I love about this recipe: It's got pasta. And tomatoes. And chickpeas. What's not to love?

Okay, it doesn't freeze well. And it really is better hot, though it will do a passable reheat in the office microwave. The cheese melts, though; you figured that one out already, I bet. It's easy as pie to make a huge batch of for a really cozy if somewhat last minute dinner party; if you invite friends over for an unexpected game night, you can all sit around with big bowls of this and not make as much of a mess as you would with a saucy dish of longer noodles. Pairs great with a medium-bodied red wine, too.

Really, the more I type, the more I think this has "game night" written all over it.

I'm a linguistic chameleon on the chickpea vs. garbanzo divide; I grew up referring to them as the former, and now tend to go with the later.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Black Bean Chilaquile

The first time I made this dish from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites, I couldn't help thinking of it as a Tex-Mex lasagna.
Black Bean Chilaquile

Here is one of our favorite casseroles. The cooks at Moosewood always try to make more Chilaquile than the customers can possibly order so the staff won't be disappointed at the end of the shift. Chilaquile is colorful, jumping with flavor, and filling to boot.

1 cup chopped onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (15-ounce can, drained)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups rinsed, stemmed, and chopped Swiss chard or spinach
2 cups crushed baked tortilla chips
8 ounces grated fat-free sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cups prepared Mexican-style red salsa or Blender Hot Sauce (page 358)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Sauté the onions in the oil for about 8 minues, until translucent. Stir in the tomatoes, corn, black beans, lime juice, salt, and pepper and continue to sauté for another 5 to 10 minutes, until just heated through.

Meanwhile, in another saucepan, blanch the greens in boiling water to cover for 1 to 3 minutes, until just wilted but still bright green. Drain immediately and set aside.

Prepare an 8x8-inch casserole dish or baking pan with a very light coating of oil or cooking spray. Spread half of the crushed tortilla chips on the bottom. Spoon the sautéed vegetables over the tortilla chips and sprinkle on about two-thirds of the grated Cheddar. Arrange the greens evenly over the cheese and spoon on half of the salsa. Finish with the rest of the tortilla chips and top with the remaining salsa and Cheddar. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown.

Serves 4 to 6
Preparation time: 35 minutes
Baking time: 35-40 minutes
If you happened to choose Salsa Mexicana or Salsa Borracha, I think you'd be well served.

I like that Moosewood is careful to capitalize Cheddar, but I have a hard time doing so myself when looking at using a low-fat or fat-free cheese. Don't get me wrong: I've made this dish exactly as written, more than once. But fat helps cheese melt in pleasant melty cheesy ways, so if you're not being manic about your fat intake, consider replacing at least some of the cheese here with the real stuff.

Chilaquiles are often served as breakfast food, and I can imagine this casserole on a brunch table quite nicely. Some suggest it's good hangover food, but I think I'll stick with my McDonald's sausage biscuit for that. Personal cures aside, I think this would be a great dish on the way to a hangover, too -- would be good with beer, or margaritas (rocks, not frozen), or sangria.

Like most casseroles, this is a heck of an option for a potluck. It freezes well, so it's also good for any time you'd like to stock someone's freezer to ease up on the pressures of life (new parents, anyone?) -- it's tasty, comfort-foody, and darned healthy.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites; Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burrito

I'm really excited to share this week's cookbook: Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites (published in 1996). This is one of my favorite cookbooks; if I were allowed only 5 cookbooks to take with me to a desert island (you know, one that had all the food stuffs I could ever possibly desire...), this would be in the suitcase before you said "boo." Do not be scared off by the "low-fat" in the title -- Yes, they're all low fat, and healthy, and you can even use the nutritional information provided for each recipe to figure out Weight Watchers Points if you're so inclined (my copy has my Points calculations written in up in the corner of most pages). But, honest, the reason I love this cookbook? Everything tastes amazing.

In what I think is a neat change of pace, this week I will only post recipes that I have personally tried, and loved.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burrito

Sweet potatoes add an unexpected creaminess to the filling in these burritos. One young Moosewood waitperson said this was the first time she had ever loved a burrito without cheese. Serve the burritos on a bed of rice, if you like, with plenty of salsa.l

5 cups peeled cubed sweet potatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons canola or other vegetable oil
3 1/2 cups diced onions
4 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon minced fresh green chile
4 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons ground coriander
4 1/2 cups cooked black beans (three 15-ounce cans, drained)
2/3 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
8 eight-inch flour tortillas
Fresh Tomato Salsa (page 360)

Preheat the oven to 350°

Place the sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan with the salt and water to cover. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, warm the oil in a medium skillet or saucepan and add the onions, garlic, and chile. Cover and cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender, about 7 minutes. Add the cumin and coriander and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a food processor, combine the black beans, cilantro, lemon juice, salt, and cooked sweet potatoes and purée until smooth (see Note). Transfer the sweet potato mixture to a large mixing bowl and mix in the cooked onions and spices.

Lightly oil a large baking dish. Spoon about 2/3 to 3/4 cup of the filling in the center of each tortilla, roll it up, and place it, seam side down, in the baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, until piping hot. Serve topped with salsa.

Serves 4 to 6
Preparation time: 35 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes

Note: You can also mash the ingredients in a large bowl by hand using a potato masher. The result will be a less smooth but nicely textured filling.
We tend to triple this recipe. Yes, triple. If you wrap each burrito in foil before baking, you can then plop them in the freezer for take-to-work lunches. So! Good! So inexpensive! So tasty! So healthy! And so darned easy. (Take out of the foil before nuking up at work, folks.)

Chefly Husband has crossed out the word "lemon" in the ingredients list, and written in "lime." You can choose whichever citrus you have on hand.

What do I love most about these burritos? They taste like they have cheese in them. They do not have cheese in them! They taste cheesy and creamy and rich! This effect is lessened, though, if you use a potato masher and leave in lumps -- the smooth texture of the sweet potatoes fools the mouth.

I forget if, when we first made these up and fell in love, we used a food mill or a ricer to purée the mixture. I know we didn't have a food processor or blender in our lives yet. I got this book the year after it came out, and have been cooking from it constantly ever since.

I've never been to Ithaca, so I've never had the opportunity to eat at Moosewood. It sounds like a hoopy sort of place, and I'm really excited to go through the recipes here this week. Which I may have said already, but I get kind of bouncy giddy about the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites. It's worthy of a gushy post or seven.

Poblano Pesto

It's nearly Halloween! Growing up in Oregon, we never carved pumpkins too far in advance -- damp above-freezing weather means quick rotting, after all. But now that we're in the home stretch, it's time to think about pumpkin guts, and toasting seeds. The Great Salsa Book has a great recipe to use up those seeds if you get tired of eating them plain.
Poblano Pesto

3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup canola oil
5 poblano chiles
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Toast the pumpkin seeds and let cool. Heat the canola oil in a skillet and when almost smoking, turn the poblanos in the hot oil for 45 seconds until blistered but not blackened. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let steam for 10 minutes.

Peel and seed the poblanos, place in a food processor with the toasted pumpkin seeds, and chop for 1 minute. Add the cilantro and blend for 1 minute. Add the olive oil, lime juice, and salt, and run for 30 seconds longer, or until smooth.

Serving suggestions: With pasta or rabbit.
Yield: About 2 cups.
Heat: 5.
Like any good pesto, it's going to turn out a vivid green. I'm much more tempted by the pasta suggestion than the rabbit. But, really, what I want to do is roast the pumpkin, and serve chunks of it with this salsa spooned over the top.

Or on toast.

I've focused mainly on tomato, chile, and corn salsas this week. The Great Salsa Book has tons of other types -- tropical, fruit, bean, garden, seafood, and exotic. It's a great little book to pick up for some sauce inspiration.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Salsa Mexicana

Sometimes, you just want something basic. Stripped down. Familiar.

The Great Salsa Book doesn't disappoint -- if you want to make a salsa that will fit a lot of people's idea of what a salsa is, this here is your recipe:
Salsa Mexicana

2 tablespoons finely diced white onion
8 Roma tomatoes (about 1 pound), diced
2 serrano chiles, finely diced, with seeds
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Place the onion in a strainer, rinse with hot water, and drain. Thoroughly combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add a little more sugar if the tomatoes are acidic, but make sure the salsa does not taste of sugar. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to combine.

Serving suggestions: An all-purpose salsa; especially good with tortilla chips or grilled meats.
Yield: About 2 cups.
Heat: 4.


This is salsa. This is load-it-up-on-your-chip, wrap-it-in-with-your-taco, smother-your-burrito-with-it salsa. It's simple. It's straight-forward. And it's damned tasty.

It really is.

This is actually the first recipe I ever made from this book by myself. I borrowed it from Chefly Husband (back when he was Pseudo-Ex-Boyfriend...we've a long history), and made a double batch of this to take to a barbeque. It was delightful! Went with everything, fed tons of people, was cheap as chips to make, and looked impressive.

If you've never made your own salsa, start with this recipe. It will give you confidence (and yumminess) (and lots of lycopene).

I'm flagging this as both fruit and vegetable; you can choose to think of the tomato either way; I count it as both, because I have yet to have to make a living as a botanical taxonomist.

Smoked Salmon Salsa

Part of the fun of this blog for me is looking for recipes I never would have imagined in my life. Moose bologna. Beef pancake pie. Hell balls. Odd ingredients, strange transformation, head scratchers, they're all good for a laugh and a lark. Better, though, are the recipes that take ingredients I love and combine them for presentations and uses I'd never thought of, like this recipe from The Great Salsa Book:
Smoked Salmon Salsa

4 ounces smoked salmon, finely diced
3 tablespoons finely diced sun-dried tomatoes (in oil)
3/4 cup finely diced fennel bulb
3 tablespoons chopped fennel tops
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder

Thoroughly combine all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

Serving suggestions: On top of eggs, as a soup garnish (for tomato soup in particular), or with pasta.
Yield: About 1 3/4 cups.
Heat: 3-4.

So simple! So... well, so obvious, once someone says it the first time... why wouldn't you make a salsa with these ingredients?

I can totally see this, with tomato soup, at an elegant brunch or tea. A thick tomato soup would hold up a nice mound of this, and it would add so much, visually and taste-wise. And, yes, toss what ever is left over in with some pasta for dinner after you clean up. Mmmm. Champagne with both!

I would use a dry-smoked salmon, not a wet-cured. So, no lox, folks. My Oregonian roots are showing when I say this: Try your darnedest to get alder-smoked fish; the smokiness will play nicely with the sun-dried tomatoes and fennel.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Roasted Corn and Wild Mushroom Salsa

I'm known to be salsa-intensive. Chefly Husband might be able to get through a meal at a TexMex restaurant with just one small bowl of salsa to go with his chips, but if I'm with him, we need at least three. I like it. A lot. Sometimes, I'll admit, my strategy to get even more salsa is to select a salsa that Chefly Husband won't eat...say, one based on large amounts of corn, like this one, from The Great Salsa Book:
Roasted Corn and Wild Mushroom Salsa

4 ears fresh corn
1/3 cup cleaned and diced morels or other wild mushrooms
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (in oil), finely diced, with 1 teaspoon of their oil
2 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 teaspoons minced fresh marjoram
1 clove roasted garlic, minced
1 teaspoon adobo sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cut the corn kernels from the cobs with a sharp knife (about 3 cups). Heat a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan or skillet over high heat until almost smoking. Place no more than two layers of the corn kernels in the pan at a time, and dry-roast for 4 to 5 minutes until smoky and dark, tossing continuously.

Sauté the mushrooms in 1/2 teaspoon of the olive oil until they are cooked well, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add the corn, remaining olive oil, and the rest of the ingredients, and thoroughly combine.

Note: If fresh wild mushrooms aren't available, use a combination of dried wild and fresh domestic mushrooms.
Serving suggestions: This is a very versatile salsa; especially good with chicken, grilled steak, or as a side dish.
Yield: About 3 cups.
Heat: 4-5
Fresh corn and fresh morels? This recipe isn't too slavish about seasonal availability, is it?

The side dish suggestion is a good one; I could see eating this with a spoon, and it would be nice not to be viewed as a freak because of that. Not that I eat salsa out of the jar with a spoon. Not often. Not again. Oh, God...


This would also be great loaded up on a tortilla chip or five.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Salsa Borracha: Drunk Salsa!

There's something about salsa-slathered food and beer... it's a perfect combination. So, why not put beer in the salsa? Try this recipe from The Great Salsa Book:
Salsa Borracha

3 ounces dried pasilla chiles (12-15), seeded and stemmed
4 tablespoons diced white onions
1 1/2 teaspoons virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups (1 bottle) dark beer, such as Negra Modelo
2 cloves roasted garlic
3 Roma tomatoes, blackened
1/2 teaspoon toasted ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon toasted ground oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces Queso Anejo or other dry-aged goat cheese, grated

Toast the chiles and rehydrate them in 2 cups of warm water (page 144). Drain the chiles, reserving 1/2 cup of the water. Devein the chiles and transfer to a blender. If it is not bitter, add the reserved chile water; otherwise, add 1/2 cup plain water. Sauté the onion in the oil for 5 minutes over medium heat, and add to the chiles. Add the garlic, tomatoes, cumin, oregano, salt, and beer, and blend until puréed. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle the cheese over the top.

Note: In Spanish, borracha means "drunk"; this recipe owes its titel to the inclusion of a bottle of beer. True pasilla chiles are dried chilaca chiles. Fresh poblanos are oftenly mistakenly labeled as pasillas, so double-check before buying.

Serving suggestions: With grilled beef or lamb
Yield: About 3 cups.
Heat: 4-5.

Oooo, tasty. The cheese, as you can guess, is optional; by "optional," I of course mean that you may choose to substitute another cheese to sprinkle on top of your salsa. You do not have the option of not using cheese here at Take One Cookbook. We are pro-cheese, and pretty snotty about it.

You may wonder, "Where the heck am I going to find pasilla chiles?" Well, dear friends, if you can't find them at your local market, get yourself over to TheSpiceHouse.Com. Please, remember the "the"; if you drop it, I can not be held accountable for what manner of not-safe-for-work site you might find yourself on. Anyway! The Spice House is a great store in Milwaukee, where Chefly Husband first took a cooking course. Their spices and herbs are amazing -- fresh, flavorful, transforming. And, yeah, they stock pasillas. Dried chiles from The Spice House tend to be supple as raisins. Mmmm. Delicious.

You could also check your local Penzey's... did I mention that The Spice House was founded by ... yup! Ruth and Bill Penzey. The spice empire all started in Milwaukee, with The Spice House.

I could go on gushing, and emphasizing the the -- can you tell someone I care about was deeply embarrassed once by forgetting the the in front of that someone's employer? -- but instead, I'll say: this recipe is worth the effort. Yes, it's fussy. Yes, there's lots of steps. Yes, you're working with those peppers a whole heck of a lot.

It's worth it. Great, rich, layered flavor.

And, if you find yourself with 5 extra bottles of Negra Modelo after you bought a 6-pack to make the recipe, well... that's just a bonus, isn't it?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cranberry-Orange Salsa

Driving home from the chiropractor today (a long story, for a different blog), I saw what my friends and I refer to, seasonally, as The House That Christmas Puked On. It is, today, October 21st. Ten days before Halloween. And, lo, it came to pass that THTCPO is already putting up its Christmas decorations. There's a time and a place, people! Decorations go up after Thanksgiving! If you want to rush the seasons, do it the old fashioned way, and lose yourself in menu planning!

If you feel similarly, here's something to think about for your Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey, from The Great Salsa Book:
Cranberry-Orange Salsa

2 cups dried cranberries (about 7 ounces)
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon minced orange zest
2/3 cup toasted pecans
4 teaspoons pure red chile powder.

Purée all the ingredients together in a food processor or blender.

Serving sugestions: With turkey, quail, or pork.
Yield: About 2 cups.
Heat: 2-3
Ooooo, a cranberry compote relying on dried cranberries, not fresh, frozen, or squidgy jellied out of the can! And with 4 teaspoons of chile powder, relatively mild -- it'll have spice but not fire -- so it should pass muster with some of the more conservative eaters at your table.

I'd like to try this with a selection of sausages. Grill or broil up the sausages, cut them into hearty bite-sized chunks, and use this salsa for dipping. A chicken-apple sausage would be great, as would a bratwurst.

In any given turkey dinner spread, I tend to devote more individual dishes to cranberry whatnots than any other specific foodstuff -- I like to have canned whole berry and canned jelly, and I must make a cranberry port compote from scratch. Can I add another cranberry dish? ...probably. It's worth considering.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Great Salsa Book, by Mark Miller; Golden Tomato, Ginger, and Chipotle Salsa

It's time to confess something (confession being good for the soul): I'm a salsa addict. I put obscene amounts of salsa on anything that will stay moderately still long enough for me to pour. Long before Chefly Husband became either chefly or husbandish, he bought The Great Salsa Book, by Mark Miller (copyright 1994); it gave us our first forays into making our own salsa, instead of eating heat-pasteurized commercial stuffs. One of our early and perennial favorites, particularly suited to the end of the tomato season:
Golden Tomato, Ginger, and Chipotle Salsa

3 yellow tomatoes (about 1 pound), roughly chopped
1 chipotle chile en adobo
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon roasted garlic
1 tablespoon Coyote Cocina Howlin' Hot Sauce or other Scotch bonnet chile sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a food processor or blender, purée 2 of the tomatoes, the chipotle chile, and ginger. Add the remaining tomato and all of the other ingredients and pulse just enough to create a roughly blended mixture. Be sure to leave the salsa somewhat chunky.

Variation: Substitute 1 additional teaspoon Howlin' Hot Sauce or other yellow Scotch bonnet sauce or 1 teaspoon habanero chile sauce for the chipotle chile.
Serving suggestions: With grilled tuna, swordfish, pork, or duck.
Yield: About 2 cups.
Heat: 7.

Back in the day, we had the hardest time figuring out what the hell to do about getting chipotle in adobo. It's easier now -- heck, "Chipotle" is the name of a chain restaurant -- but if you've never used it in cooking before, here's what you need to do:

Go to the Hispanic/Latino/TexMex aisle in your supermarket. Look for a small can -- a bit larger than a tomato paste can. You'll get chipotles (smoked jalepenos) in a spicy sauce (adobo). When you take out one whole smoked chile, you'll have some thick dark smokey sauce clinging to it. Ta da! You've a chipotle en adobo. If you're going to use the rest of the can of chipotles within the week, put it in a glass dish, cover it in plastic, and stash it in the fridge. (Ask me about my chipotle/tequila/chicken soup recipe, a favorite for using up leftover chipotle en adobo.) Otherwise, put it in a freezer-safe zip-top bag, and freeze. The stuff is great, and lasts for a long time.

When Chefly Husband and I used it in the past, we paired it with fish -- the meaty fishes recommended in the recipe. So. Damned. Tasty.

Looking forward to a week of salsas, and might cap it off with Chefly Husband's own Quick Salsa recipe, if there's interest.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Peaches in Red Wine

This week has made me fall in love with Eat This...It'll Make You Feel Better! all over again. I could sit down and read it, cover to cover, lapping up the celebrity stories along with the sauces, and, especially, losing myself in Dom DeLuise's family.

It seems all sorts of appropriate, then, to end the week not with one of the complex cakes or fried dessert concoctions (though Eat This...It'll Make You Feel Better! has 'em, and they're fabulous), but with something a little more simple, a little more focused on the stories.
Peaches in Red Wine

Every kid feels there are certain things their parents do which embarrass them. Especially kids who are trying to be American, not Italian -- like I was when I was growing up. When my father would eat big, ripe peaches with his homemade wine for dessert, it would make me so embarrassed! I thought this was definitely not a class act -- even though I secretly loved the taste too. So you can imagine my surprise when, some years ago at a verrrrry fancy Italian restaurant, they served ... you guessed it! Ripe peaches in red wine for dessert. Writing this book has helped me examine some of my attitudes toward my past. I wish that my father were alive today, because nothing would please me more than to take him to a fancy restaurant for Peaches in Red Wine.

really ripe freestone peaches, sliced
light red wine

Put the peaches in wineglasses, pour the wine over them, and let them sit for a while ... just long enough for a father and son to talk awhile and get to know each other better. Try it out on your dad, I'm sure he'll like it.



I'm sure it works with mothers and sons, daughters and mothers, sons and mothers, aunts, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, old neighbor ladies who don't get many visitors... try it out with anyone you need to get to know a little better.

...which makes me think, oh, yes, that this would be perfect summer-picnic-at-an-outdoor-concert sort of take-along dessert, too.

Writing this blog is helping me examine my attitudes about my own past and culture. Maybe I'll get a little less smug about cream of whatever casseroles, and be less hesitant to use a pudding mix in ... something non-pudding. Time will tell.

I miss my dad. I should give him a call.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rabbit con Polenta

The second of today's two-fer from Eat This...It'll Make You Feel Better!: something to go with the polenta:
Rabbit con Polenta

This dish is extremely popular in Venice and Naples, and will be at your home, too!

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 rabbit, cut into pieces
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 medium onion, cut into small pieces
6-8 mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2 whole cloves
1 cup Chianti or other dry red wine
1 cup chicken broth
polenta (see Basic Polenta, page 143)

Heat butter and oil in large heavy skillet. Add rabbit, turning frequently, until brown on both sides. Add celery, carrot, onion, mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, cloves, wine, and broth. Season with pepper. COver and simmer over low heat until rabbit is very tender and meat pulls easily from bone, about 1 hour.

Serve on polenta.

Serves 4-6.

Note: Polenta is also very kind to chicken and veal.

Cookbooks today probably wouldn't use the word "kind" in the same sentence as "veal." The times, they are different.

If you can't stand the thought of eating Thumper, you can replace the rabbit with chicken. You'll miss out, though. I'm very fond of rabbit dishes, all the while also being fond of the animals. Comes from my years in 4H, I suppose... We raised rabbits for several years. Long enough, actually, that all the stray rabbits in the neighborhood ended up hopping their ways into our back yard. I'd never thought of stray rabbits before, but they can and do get out of their enclosures by accident, or through neglect, and they have to hippety hop somewhere. We had a passel of 'em, and took in the stray as long as there was room for them. At one point, that even meant boarding up a shower stall that was in the back yard, waiting to be installed. Odd accommodations, but worked in a pinch.

If I were cooking this, I'd want more mushrooms, as 1-2 mushrooms per serving seems awfully stingy to me, and some nice mushrooms, simmered in wine and broth, sound very tasty.

Basic Polenta

Rehearsal ran until 10 last night, so I didn't get a post in; you get two today from Eat This...It'll Make You Feel Better! to make up for it. Not just two; two that go together!
Basic Polenta

Polenta is very popular in Italy, and leftovers, which have a very firm consistency, can be fried like grits. Very few people know this, but polenta can be used to repair broken stucco and any cracks in your home! The nice part is, when you're hungry, all you've got to do is lick the walls. Seriously, though, the real trick here is to keep stirring it slowly...and keep believing.

6 cups water
2 cups polenta, or coarse-grained cornmeal

Bring water to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Reduce heat so water is just simmering and gradually add the polenta in a steady stream. Stir constantly.

Continue to stir until polenta is thickened. Polenta should come away from the sides of the pan and be able to support a spoon. Pour thickened polenta onto a wooden board and let stand for a few minutes before turning out onto a serving platter.

Polenta can be served in a variety of ways: as a bed for chicken, sausages, or rabbit stew. As a first course, it can be topped with grated cheese. Polenta is delicious served with marinara sauce too... just make indentations and fill the wells with your favorite spaghetti sauce. Have fun serving your polenta by cutting it the "old-fashioned" way: hold a string tautly and slice right through.

Serves 5-6.

Aaaah, Mr. DeLuise. Now is when we remember that you're a schlocky comedian. Note to blog readers: don't use polenta to repair your home. Also, lentil soup is not improved by adding in a piece of ceiling or sky.

It may seem strange that this recipe doesn't include any fat. Where is the butter? Where is the cheese? Regardless, this is a purist approach, and just like cooking up a pot of rice, you should know how to get the starch perfect perfectly plain before you do improvisational riffs on the theme.

Truth be told, I usually buy my polenta pre-cooked, in tubes, and then fry it up in rounds, or smoosh it into a casserole and top off with Tex-Mex ingredients. I don't know that I've ever gone a polenta route with Italian food. I'm willing to give it a try, though -- starch + tomatoes + cheese = perfection, in my book.

Soft squoodgy warm starch sounds very soothing to me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mamma's (and Michael's) Meat Sauce

If you see comments on Take One Cookbook... from Kelly Redwine, you should know, you're reading my big sister. As a little sister, I feel it's my duty to both support and horribly tease my big sister whenever possible, and Eat This...It'll Make You Feel Better! has given me a fabulous chance. So, Kelly, here's your boyfriend's meat sauce recipe.
Mamma's (and Michael's) Meat Sauce

Once when my mother came to visit us, she taught my son Michael (who was nine years old at the time) to make this sauce. Michael (who is seventeen now) has been making it ever since. He takes requests for "Michael's Meat Sauce" without batting an eye.

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 28-oz. cans ready-cut, peeled tomatoes
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound lean ground beef
1 teaspoon thyme
10 fresh mushrooms, diced

In a saucepan, heat oil and lightly brown onion, carrot, and garlic. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, pepper, and sugar. Simmer gently for about 30 minutes.

While sauce is simmering, brown ground beef in skillet over medium-high heat, drain off fat. Add meat and thyme to tomato mixture. Cover and simmer 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and cook another 10 minutes.

Great with 1 pound of pasta, cooked al dente.

Serves 4-6.
I know you loooooooove him, Kelly, so here's a photo of your boyfriend. He's so dreamy!

Requisite teasing: over.

This meat sauce sounds like my family's standard spaghetti sauce -- well, if you sidestep around the whole "we used a Schilling seasoning packet" part -- and so sounds cozy as all get-out to me. I also like that it says how much pasta this recipe will sauce adequately. Anyone who gets 6 servings out of a pound of pasta is clearly no friend of mine, however. 4? Sure. 6? NO.

If for any reason you have leftovers, this should keep well.

As you'd expect, there are a lot of sauce recipes in Eat This...It'll Make You Feel Better! -- it's a predominantly Italian cookbook, after all. If anyone's interested, I'll post Mamma's Sunday Sauce, too... it's what Dom DeLuise grew up eating, and his default sauce.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hearty Mushroom Barley Soup

Part of the fun of Eat This...It'll Make You Feel Better! is the unabashed starf***ery; Dom DeLuise seemed to know just about everyone in showbiz, and is as downright chatty about the stars as he is his family in this book.
Julann's Fat-Free, Hearty Mushroom Barley Soup

I was the very first guest on the Merv Griffin television show back in 1961. It was at that time that I met Merv's wife, Julann Griffin. We have been good friends ever since. Julann is a very unique woman. She makes her own soap, she has kept bees, she has even been known to make beer in a bathtub! She was the president of the First Women's Bank of California, she plays a mean game of tennis, and she even invented the game "Jeopardy" that Merv produces for television. Julann is a very funny lady, and I have laughed till I cried with her. I've also just cried. She is a fabulous friend, a great cook, and is very concerned with eating healthfully. I have had some of Julann's wonderful, fat-free, hearty soups, and I know you'll love this one as much as I do. (If you'd like this soup a little less "hearty," add more chicken broth and/or tomato juice to your taste.)

1 1/2 cups barley
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups tomato juice
4 fresh sweet basil leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon oregano
10-15 mushrooms, thinly sliced
pepper to taste
lowfat yogurt

In a soup pot combine barley, tomatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, chicken stock, tomato juice, and herbs. Stir. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, and cover, but not completely -- leave lid slightly askew. Stir occasionally. Let soup simmer 1 hour, then stir in the mushrooms. Add pepper and let simmer 1 more hour. Ladle into hot soup bowls and top each with a spoonful of yogurt.

Serves 8-10.
I cringe to think of adding garlic and onions to a soup without a nice sauté first, but this soup is simmering for a long time, so the sharpness has plenty of a chance to mellow.

And, isn't there just something perfectly autumnal about a thick soup with barley and mushrooms?

DeLuise's gushing description of his friend might make you think she and Merv were still married at press time; they were not, having divorced in 1973. Their son is in entertainment, too -- best credit: Prison Guard, Spaceballs. And, though creating Jeopardy! is pretty cool, how much cooler is it that she also composed the theme song?

This post might be a little scattered; Chefly Husband and I are celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary today, and I'm a bit giddy and unfocused.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Calling All Popeyes: Two Spinach Recipes

A dear reader asked for a spinach recipe from Eat This...It'll Make You Feel Better! -- I couldn't decide between two such recipes, so will post both.
Mamma's Spinach and Potatoes in Broth

I don't know why it took me a long time to appreciate this terrific dish of my mother's. Spinach never had it so good!

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup water
4 medium potatoes, peeled, quartered, and parboiled
2 pounds spinach, well washed

Place oil in a large saucepan and gently brown garlic. To the pot add chicken broth, water, and the potatoes. Add spinach. Cover and cook 15 minutes. You'll notice spinach has collaped to almost nothing.

This is a soupy mixture but the garlic, potatoes, and spinach mingle together and you won't want to leave a drop of this behind. Just have plenty of hot Italian bread around so you can get it all.

Serves 4.

This sounds a lot like the caldo I devoured all along the pilgrim trail to Santiago last August. Mmmm, potatoes and greens and broth! Simple, hearty, tasty. I also like that it's 4 potatoes for 4 people; our family's potato soup is measured that way - one potato per person. I'm sure if you wanted to scale up this recipe for more people, it'd be a spud a body.

But, let's say you're not in the mood for a soup, brothy, soppy wonder. (It could happen.) What else can Dom DeLuise's mamma suggest to use up that spinach?
Mamma's Spinach Rolls

When anybody is working with flour and dough, it's always fascinating to children. I remember when I was a little kid, with my nose just above the counter, I used to love to watch my mother lovingly roll out the dough. Then Mamma would let me climb on a chair so I could roll out y own. I remember how proud and excited I was when my spinach roll came out of the oven. I recently taught my seventeen-year-old son, Michael, how to make this, and I guess he wasn't too old to get into this terrific dish because he ate the whole thing for dinner!

Pizza Dough (page 207)
1 pound fresh spinach, washed, drained, and coarsely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
grated cheese
pinch of red pepper
olive oil
1 egg, beaten

Roll out pizza dough into a thin rectangle and place on greased cookie sheet. Spread chopped spinach evenly over dough. Sprinkle with chopped onion, cheese and pepper. Drizzle olive oil over, then gently roll dough jellyroll fashion, making sure the seam is on the bottom. Shape into a crescent.

Using a fork, poke 8-10 holes in the dough so it can "breathe," and brush roll with beaten egg. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Slice and serve hot or cold as an appetizer, or with a salad, for a delicious, healthful light meal.

Serves 4-6.

Variation: Substitute 2 cups chopped broccoli and 1 cup of shredded mozzarella for spinach.

...oh, yes. It's not noodles, but... oh, YES. Bread, cheese, spinach? What's not to love?

I never quite got the whole "kids hate spinach" trope. I've loved spinach since I was a baby. I love it fresh. I love it cooked. I love it after it's been frozen. I even love it after it's been canned. Spinach, spinach, spinach! Also, "bacon, bacon, bacon!" Even better, "spinach and bacon, spinach and bacon, spinach and bacon!" In fact, I wouldn't turn up my nose at adding crumbled bacon into this spinach roll (though it de-vegetarianizes the dish).

If anyone needs a pizza dough recipe, I can post the one from Eat This...It'll Make You Feel Better! -- or you can use frozen (and defrosted) pizza dough from the market. Better than that, though, at just one step down from making your own -- see if the local pizza place will sell you some fresh dough.

Like DeLuise, I have fond memories of dough-making endeavors with my family. My dad would let me help knead bread and pizza dough, by making monster faces and then pounding them away. He'd wash the kitchen floor, and then I'd use the floor as my work surface, covered in flour. Good times.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Eat This...It'll Make You Feel Better, by Dom DeLuise; Dom's Mom's Meatballs

I asked Chefly Husband to grab me down a cookbook for this week. It surprises me not at all that he selected
Eat This...It'll Make You Feel Better! by Dom DeLuise. Published in 1988, it reads like a good Italian granny's recipe box; says Chefly Husband, "we've no Italian blood in our family, and we needed some good Italian." And, boy, did they get it.
Dom's Mom's Meatballs

For as long as I can remember, my mother has never worn makeup. Also, she simply combs her hair straight back in a bun. Can you believe that when I was a child, I thought that bun was filled with meatballs? Good old Mom.

2 pounds ground chuck
1/2 pound ground pork
2 cups Italian-flavored bread crumbs
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup grated cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped very fine
1 onion, minced
1/2 cup pignoli (pine nuts) (optional)

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Let stand 1/2 hour. Shape into medium-size meatballs. Fry gently in olive oil until lightly browned, or place on foil on a cookie sheet and bake for 1/2 hour at 350 degrees. Gently place in your own hot spaghetti sauce and cook on medium-low heat for 1 hour.

P.S. What I like to do is quadruple the recipe (you'll have about 100 meatballs) and then place the meatballs on large Teflon baking pans. After they're baked and cooled, I put twenty at a time in large Ziploc bags and pop them in the freezer. Then they're ready, willing, and able anytime!

Serves 10, 2 meatballs per person.
Nick's family follows Mr. DeLuise's advice and quadruples the recipe. Evidently, they'll load up the Nesco (ah, regionalisms! My family, if doing the exact same thing, would load up the Crock Pot.) with meatballs and sauce, and put out toothpicks -- instant party food!

The pine nuts really add a nice touch, and they're not as hard to find as they used to be. If you're wondering how big the meatballs should be, the recipe has a picture of the author, holding an ice cream scoop to portion out his meat balls. They're not small, folks.

I didn't grow up eating meatballs -- our meat sauces had ground beef crumbled throughout, not distinct chunks of anything -- but the first time Nick made me these meatballs? I became a meatball fan.

This'll be a fun week, folks, with lots of good autumnal eats.

Dishes to Tote; Savory Sausage Rice

I think that nearly everyone who goes to many potluck events succumbs, eventually, to potluck fatigue. You know what I mean -- you have one dish that you go to over and over. You're always the one who brings the Polynesian chicken. Or the green bean casserole. Or the chilled tortellini on skewers to dip in a chilled tomato vodka sauce. (That's my fallback.)

How can you get out of this rut? Adopt someone else's fallback, like this one from the Milwaukee Ward Relief Society Cookbook:
Savory Sausage Rice
Pat Diehnelt

Once our family was on a test group for the Farm Journal magazine. They sent this recipe to be tested. Our family enjoyed it very much. Later they published it in their cookbook under "Dishes to Tote". Usually I take this to pot luck suppers.

2 lb. bulk sausage
1 c. finely chopped green pepper
3/4 c. chopped onion
2 1/2 c. coarsely chopped celery
2 (2 1/8 oz.) pkgs. chicken noodle soup mix
4 1/2 c. boiling water
1 c. uncooked rice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. melted butter or margarine
1 c. blanched almonds (slivered)

Brown suasage in large skillet; pour off excess fat. Add green pepper, onion and 1 c. celery; saute. Start the second paragraph at same time as this.

Combine soup mix and boiling water in large saucepan; stir in rice. Cover and simmer 20 minutes or until tender. Add sausage mix and salt; stir. Pour into greased baking dish, about 9x12 inches. Sprinkle remaining celery over top; drizzle with melted butter. Bake at 375° 20 minutes. Makes 10 servings.

If almonds are used, saute' all celery with green pepper and onion. Mix most of almonds with other ingredients; save a few to sprinkle on top. Omit melted butter.

I try very hard to avoid introducing typographical errors into the recipes here at Take One Cookbook... That being said, I also try to preserve the recipes -- so "suasage" stays, as does the close-quotation-period construction that makes me cringe so.

I'm not sure why they're using chicken noodle soup mix instead of stock (or, being a 1970s/1980s cookbook, bouillon cubes), but I'm willing to give it a go. I'm also not sure why we should omit the tasty melted butter if we're having almonds. Butter is good! Butter is tasty! I'm amused by the 1/2 t. of salt; on the face, that doesn't seem like much for a recipe that feeds 10, but considering there's sausage AND soup mix going on, I'm sure there's ample salt.

Most folks aren't going to have a baking dish that's "about 9x12 inches." I'm betting you have a 9x13 dish handy, though.

Farm Journal Magazine is still going strong; I did a search for "recipe," and think if I go off to recommend the best to you, I'll never come back, I'll just fall in to reading recipes and end up going another few days without a post. (My apologies for missing recently.)

It's time we say goodbye to the ladies of the Milwaukee Ward Relief Society. There's a trove of stuff we didn't touch -- kids sharing their mom's recipes (ha!), pages of substitutes for alcohol in various recipes, soap recipes, kitchen wisdom, leftover hints, and how long everything will keep in the fridge or freezer. The book is more than a little dated, and definitely a product of an LDS committee (see: alcohol substitutes), but a good go-to cookbook, especially for novice cooks who want something that feels homey.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Feeling Older, Part 2: Frozen Peanut Butter Pie

We didn't eat out much when I was growing up, so my early restaurant experiences are seared in my mind as the Special Occasions they really were. At one restaurant, we sat at the counter, and I was allowed to order dessert. I chose something that sounded yummy, and ended up being so rich, so decadent, so completely impossible to finish... and it became my absolute favorite dessert for years and year. Whenever I see it on a menu, I still start to order it, to this day.

The Milwaukee Ward Relief Society Cookbook is, once again, a shrine to the recipes that entranced me as a child.
Frozen Peanut Butter Pie
Connie Poppy

Graham Cracker Crust:
18 graham crackers
3 T. sugar
1/3 c. melted butter or margarine

Mix together. Reserve some for topping. Press evenly on bottom and sides of pie pan. Bake 10 minutes at 350°. Cool.


3 oz. cream cheese
1 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. smooth peanut butter
1/2 c. milk

Mix the above together until smooth and creamy. Fold in 9 oz. of Cool Whip. Fold into pie crust. Sprinkle reserved topping or chopped peanuts on top. Freeze 4 hours or overnight.

Reserved topping? Nice to know we should try that... I'd rather use chopped nuts, or some crumbled graham crackers.

Speaking of, I'd admit to being a margarine person for the better part of the first two decades of my life, but... do me a favor: use butter for your crust. It just tastes better than margarine. It does.

Though I won't rat you out if you use a pre-made crust from the store. Heck, I won't rat you out if you buy a chocolate pre-made crust, or if you line your crust with Oreos before adding your peanut butter mixture. Or chocolate Flicks. Heck, line the tin with them, and then top the pie with them! Have fun with it.

Cut your pie into tiny, very thin slices. This bad boy is RICH.

Feeling Older: Grape Nuts Bread

Growing up in the 1970s, I felt like there were somethings that were distinctly Refined. Grown Up. Sophisticated.

Baking bread was one of those things. When my dad let me help knead bread? I was puffed up with self-importance.

Eating non-sugared cereal was another. Shredded wheat. Bran Flakes. Grape Nuts.

Three cheers for The Milwaukee Ward Relief Society Cookbook, and Marian Loeffler's contribution, for combining my ideas of sophistication in one swell recipe:
Grape Nuts Bread
Marian Loeffler

1 c. Grape Nuts in 2 c. milk for 1 hour. Add 1 egg beaten. Stir together

1 c. sugar
4 c. flour
1 tsp. soda
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Sift dry ingredients, add to wet mixture. Let bread stand about 20 minutes in pan before baking. Makes 12 large muffins and 1 small loaf. Bake at 350°.

Well, that's a very, very slow quick bread...

And yet I can taste it. The soaked Grape Nuts, releasing their nutty maltiness into the milk. The sugar -- which I'd like to take out a tablespoon or two and replace with some brown sugar.

I imagine this will taste good with a slather of butter and some honey, or a dab of mustard and sliced ham. Oh, yes. Sliced ham will play nicely with this. The smokiness, the sweetness... it calls out for Grape Nuts bread.

A bit of Google-Fu suggests that this Marian Loeffler might well be Mrs. Charles Loeffler; if so, then she and her husband are regular contributors to health-related charities in Milwaukee.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cooking for a Crowd; Sunshine Slush

Doubling a recipe? Easy. Tripling? A tiny bit more work, but still... easy. But what if you really want to cook for a crowd? How much of that recipe do you really need? When in doubt, ask the folks who are used to feeding hordes of people, like the fine ladies who contributed to the Milwaukee Ward Relief Society Cookbook.
Approximate Amounts To Serve 50 People

Navy beans for baking: 3 qts. or 6 lbs.
Canned string beans: 2 No. 10 cans
Canned beets: 2 No. 10 cans
Roast beef: 20 lbs.
Roast beef for Swiss steak 3/4 in. thick: 20 lbs.
Ground meat for loaf: 10 lbs.
Butter: 1-1/2 lbs.
Chicken (roasted) 30 lbs.
Chicken pie: 20 lbs.
Coffee: 1 lb.
Baked Ham: 2 hams 10 to 12 lbs. each
Ice cream - dessert: 2 gal.
Ice cream - for pie: 1 gal.
Lettuce: 1 oz. per salad
Head lettuce salad: 7 lbs.
Salted nuts: 1-1/2 lbs.
Olives: 2 qts.
Oysters (escalloped): 1 gal.
Peas: 2 No. 10 cans
Peas and carrots: 1 No. 10 can and 5 lbs carrots
Roast pork or fresh ham: 20 lbs.
Pork chops: 18 lbs.
Potatoes (mashed): 1-1/4 pecks
Sweet potatoes: 13-1/2 lbs.
Rice: 3 lbs.
Rolls: 100 rolls
Soup: 3 gal.
Turkey: 22-25 lbs.
Vegetables (fresh): Beans, beets, carrots or cabbage: 10 lbs.
Whipped cream: 2 pts.
Okay, then! Several of the other cookbooks I've covered so far have had sections on how to cook food enough for a wedding, but I like that this gives options. You could use this list as a guideline for whatever sort of meal you wanted to provide. I personally would provide more ice cream and more whipped cream, but I'm more than a little bit of a slut for dairy-based sweets.

I don't know that 1.5 pounds of butter is going to be enough, if we're all going to have two rolls, and a heaping helping of mashed potatoes and other veg, though.

Once you've sorted out how you're going to feed the hungry masses, you should sort out what to serve them to drink. The Milwaukee Ward Relief Society Cookbook has several punch recipes; being an LDS cookbook, none of them have alcohol. (I'll admit to being surprised at the pound of coffee allotted in the list above, as LDS members don't do caffeine, either.) But, really, not all punches need to be boozy concoctions, right? Right.
Sunshine Slush

3 c. water
1 c. sugar
2 ripe bananas (cut up)
2 (12 oz.) cans unsweetened pineapple juice
1 (6 oz.) can frozen orange juice (thawed)
1 (6 oz.) can frozen lemonade (thawed)
2 T. lemon juice
1 (28 oz.) bottle white soda (chilled)

In saucepan combine water and sugar. Bring to boiling, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil gently, uncovered for 3 minutes; remove from heat and cool. In blinder combine bananas and half the pineapple juice. Blend until smooth. Stir in cooled syrup. Stir in the remaining pineapple juice, orange juice and lemonade concentrates and lemon juice. Turn into a 13x9x2 inch pan or plastic freezer container. Cover with moisture vapor-proof material. Freeze at least several hours or as long as 2 months. To serve, remove mixture from freezer. Let stand at room temperature about 30 minutes. Spoon slush into each glass. Slowly pour in white soda, using equal amounts of slush and soda. Makes about 12 1/2 cups of punch.
Mmmm...tropical goodness. Is it wrong that I want to add rum? Coconut rum, to be precise. Mmmm....

If you're trying to use this punch for a crowd of 50, you'll need to at least quadruple the recipe.

Monday, October 6, 2008

When Is A Sundae Not A Sundae?: Chinese Sundae

Sometimes, if an item resembles another item in any way, it will take the name of what it resembles. Take, for example, the Appletini -- an Apple Martini that is apple-y, and alcoholic, and served in a cocktail glass, but is in no way a combination of gin and vermouth. Or, take this recipe, from the Milwaukee Ward Relief Society Cookbook:
Chinese Sundae
Carol Meyer

Make sundae in following order:

1. Rice
2. Chow mein noodles
3. Chopped chicken
4. Chicken gravy
5. Chopped tomatoes
6. Chopped celery
7. Grated cheese
8. Chopped green onions
9. Pineapple chunks
10. Coconut
11. Chopped almonds
12. Maraschino cherries

So... this could go in a sundae glass. Sure. And it's different food substances, layered together. It has pineapple. Coconut. Nuts. It's topped with a cherry.

Other than that, it sounds like a hot nightmare. I was going along with it until item 4. Chicken gravy? Oh, no... And cheese? In a "Chinese" dish? I'm skeptical.

I wonder... if we took out the gravy, and layered the chow mein noodles a little higher up, how this would work out. Ditch the cheese. And the cherry. Use a little soy for moisture, if needed, or, heck, some plum sauce or duck sauce. There's got to be potential for layering stuff like a sundae for dinner.

The 1980 publication date hides the fact that these recipes are very, very, very 1970s.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Political Cookery: Watergate Cake

I love a good cake, baked from scratch. True confession time: I also love a decent cake, baked from a mix. I do not turn up my nose about using a mix as a base, and adding in other ingredients to make it sing. In fact, I'm pretty darned fond of that. So are the contributors to the Milwaukee Ward Relief Society Cookbook.
Watergate Cake
Celia Vogl

1 pkg. instant pistachio pudding
1 pkg. white or yellow cake mix
1 c. oil
1/2 c. chopped nuts
3 eggs
1 c. club soda

Mix all above until mixed well. Grease a 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.


1 pkg. instant pistachio pudding
1 pkg. Dream Whip
1 1/4 c. cold milk

Beat until spreading consistency.
Pistachio! A flavor I never really encountered until I moved away from home. No pistachio ice cream. No "lipstick" from red shells. No pistachios.

This cake did not originate at the Watergate. No, nor did Watergate Salad, another 1970s dish with pistachio pudding mix. So...why Watergate? Let's go to The Food Timeline:
"A new Watergate crisis is sweeping the Washington area, but this time only homemakers and a few business men seem to care... The crisis stems from the growing popularity of a recipe for a concoction called "Watergate Cake," which demands large quantities of powdered pistachio pudding mix, both in the layer cake and in its light green icing. Apparently, only one firm, Royal Pudding, a division of Standard Brands, Inc., distributes pistachio pudding in the Washington area. Supermarkets haven't been able to get enough to cope with the demands, which began around Thanksgiving time and was very heavy at Christmas. Store shelves have been regularly stripped of the mix the same day it is displayed...If the sales spurt is not directly attributable to the popularity of Watergate Cake... "The we don't know why this product has suddenly taken off. It's been just phenomenal..." Barry Scher, a spokesman for Giant Foods, placed the blame not only on the recipe, but also on a coincidental shortage of pistachio nuts. "That was about five months ago, the spokesman said, "And as it ended, this recipe began circulating around. We were bombarded. We hate to admit it, but we just can't keep the mix on the shelf. The onset of Watergate cake mania--and the resulting effort to close the supply-demand gap --has tested old friendships and challenged the ingenuity and competitive instincts of many a Washington-area homemaking... No one, meanwhile, seems able to pinpoint the origin of this Watergate, the recipe for which has appeared in a number of newspapers, including the Washington Post. Nor can anyone explain how the cake got its name or why pistachio is the main flavoring. One current explanation leans on the presence of crushed walnuts in the cake--"bugs" in the parlance of kids. Like the Giant spokesman, Harold Giesinger, proprietor of the Watergate Pastry shop, had no thoughts on where the recipe originated-- except that it was not with his bakery. "We haven't invented anything to which we'd attach a name like that," he said. Nor, he added, does his shop rely on pistachio as a key ingredient in any of its products. "A private source may have put it together, " he said of the recipe. Wherever Watergate Cake started, the pudding firm would like more more problems like it. Gagan suspects some people have been buying more pistachio pudding mix than they'll ever use, simply because it's hard to get...Further relief is in sight. Another manufacturer, General Foods, scanning the Watergate-assisted pistachio market, has decided to jump in. Its version is expected to hit the supermarket shelves in March..."
---"A Watergate Cake Mania," Alexander Sullivan, Washington Post, February 26, 1976 (p. B2)
Read more to learn about other (more believable) theories of how the name came about.

I'm just gobsmacked that one cake recipe could cause a run on one flavor of pudding...and then fade into such obscurity.

Have you ever had a Watergate Cake?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Milwaukee Ward Relief Society Cookbook; Sister Miller's Black Cherry Jello

Chefly Husband was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, so it comes as no surprise to find a Milwaukee cookbook or three on our shelves. I'd asked some readers what kind of cookbook to feature this week, and both "seasonal" and "neighborhood" were asked for. Here's hoping this fits the bill.

The Milwaukee Ward Relief Society Cookbook was published in 1980, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (better known in some circles as the Mormons). The Relief Society (a major woman's organization within the church) of the Milwaukee Ward compiled favorite recipes, aphorisms, and household hints, and sold them in a comb-spined book with laminated light blue covers. Odds of you finding this cookbook? Slim. But, oh, it's a good one for a sense of time, place, and culture!

Let's kick the week off with that cross-denominational favorite: the molded salad.
Sister Miller's Black Cherry Jello
Joyce Miller

1 (6 oz.) pkg. black cherry Jello
1 (3 oz.) pkg. black cherry Jello
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 can black cherries (pitted)
1 c. chopped walnuts

Set Jello as directed until firm. Whip cream cheese (room temperature) with juice from black cherries until creamy. Then whip into Jello. Put in cherries and walnutes and mix and then put back in refrigerator until firm.

This sounds like it would be very pretty. Not as pretty as Aunt Pauline's stained glass Jell-o that I remember from childhood (There were layers of white Jell-o between all the colors! So pretty. So many layers.).

Pretty, yes, and steering entirely clear of the questionable Jell-o/fruit/veg/meat combinations that lurk in our collective memory and more than a few of the cookbooks we've yet to cover. This will end up with a mostly homogenous texture, and should be opaque, thanks to the cream cheese. It shouldn't make anyone think "ew."

Say I have expectations set far too low; I'm okay with that when it comes to the world of molded salads.

I wonder what it is about church groups and Jell-o...

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Chicken In Every Pot: How To Roast A Chicken

One of the first things my parents taught me to do in the kitchen was roast a chicken. One of the first things I learned that everyone did a little differently from her neighbor is roast a chicken. It was a revelation, figuring out that not everyone took a little metal-handled brush and brushed vegetable oil over the skin, sprinkled it all over with seasoned salt, and roasted the bird in a 9x13 pan in a 350° oven. And now I find my sister doesn't even do it that way (she uses Pam instead of veggie oil). It seems entirely appropriate, then, that Depression Era Recipes has two roast chicken recipes back to back.
How to Roast a Chicken

Remove any bits from inside dressed bird. Singe and remove pinfeathers. Wash under faucet. Dry inside and out. Stuff with a light hand with dressing of your choice. Turn wings across back, sew through wings and body with poultry needle and fine twine. Tie firmly, leaving long ends. Press thighs close to body and sew through; wrap twine around lower part of body and tie. Sew through ends of legs and tie close together. Sew once or twice through body opening if ragged. Rub with soft butter. season well with salt and pepper. Mix about 1/2 c. butter and 1/2 c. water in a pan and keep hot for basting. Put bird on a rack in a roasting pan. Sear in a hot oven till browned, then reduce heat to moderate and bake until done, basting often. Make gravy from pan drippings.
Golly, that sounds far too involved for a simple roast chicken. It's like a sewing lesson before dinner. I think this is a good time to say that I'm glad that I live in a time when I don't need to singe and remove pinfeathers off my chicken before I can prepare it. Let's see if the next one is any less... fussy.
How to Roast a Chicken Easier

Wash bird and cut into quarters, or leave whole. Put it in a roasting pan or skillet. Add 1/2 c. water. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Plain and simple and it turns out pretty good, too.
Well, that's certainly easier. It says so right in the title! But there's no seasoning going on, I think the addition of butter or oil, salt, and pepper at a minimum will make this less ... like a college student trying to impress someone by cooking a chicken without bothering to take out the giblets or the like.

My standard roast chicken these days goes along these lines: Smash several cloves of garlic and zest a lemon. Smear together with half a stick of butter, and then massage the garlic lemon butter under the skin of your bird. Cut the zested lemons in half and shove them in the de-giblet-ed cavity, along with the rest of the head of garlic. Put in a 9x13 pan (untrussed!), in a 375°F oven, and cook until internal temperature is 160°F.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Less Scary Than Yesterday: Apple Cottage Pudding

Seems no one is interested in a good liver bologna recipe; Feedburner tells me the item was only used 4 times (as opposed to 40 or more for most posts on the first day). So, let's go for something a little less scary than yesterday, shall we? From
Depression Era Recipes:
Apple Cottage Pudding

6 to 10 apples
1/2 c. milk
1 T. butter, melted
1 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. Royal baking powder
1 t. vanilla

Peel, core and slice apples thin. Put apples in a buttered tin. Mix together milk, butter, flour, sugar, baking powder and vanilla. Pour batter over apples and bake in a moderate oven till done, about 45 minutes. Serve with cream or lemon sauce. This is good with other fruits, too.
So, what is a "moderate oven"? Let's turn to the Web to find out! Best Recipes tells us "a 'moderate' oven has a temperature of around 180 degrees Celsius, or approximately 350 degrees Fahrenheit." So, 350°F -- the universal, if-you-don't-know-what-temp-use-this-temp temperature! Easy enough.

This sort of sounds like an eggless clafouti to me. Other than apples, it doesn't take much of any one ingredient, and the leavening is shelf-stable. So, not quite pantry baking, but close.

Though normally I like to substitute like-texture for like-texture (and I'm sure this would be lovely with pears), I would like to see this done with plums or Italian prunes. The color would be amazing.

The lack of specificity in tin size could make me cranky on a bad day, but on other days I say, "just use a tin big enough to hold 6 to 10 peeled, cored, sliced apples."

It should work fine.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Better Than Jerky?: Gillan's Liver Bologna

This bologna, from Depression Era Recipes, actually has a first name.
Gillan's Liver Bologna

3 lbs. liver
8 lbs. potatoes, sliced
1/4 slab bacon
1/4 c. salt
2 1/2 c. graham flour
1/2 c. buttermilk
2 1/4 c. white flour

Make bags out of flour sacks. This recipe will fit into four 6 x 12" bags. Grind liver and potatoes, using a medium blade. Cut bacon into little pieces. Mix meats, potatoes and other ingredients in a very large bowl. When evenly combined, pack mixture into damp bags. Tie shut. Boil bags in water to cover, for two hours. Remove from water and cool. Store in refrigerator. To use, cut bag off meat, slice meat and serve.

This may have been one of the first take-along "mountain foods." Some deer hunters would take this out in the woods with them for food, as it was a complete meal - better than beef jerky!
Okay, it's true: Gillan might be a last name. And I am skeptical of anything that claims to be better than jerky of any sort.

At the same time, I appreciate the idea of homemakers also being sausage makers. I've never done more than a loose patty sausage on my own, but my dad's deer and elk hunting always yielded lots of summer sausage.

...God, I miss that summer sausage. Sliced, or cut into chunks, served with Tillamook medium cheddar and saltines. Maybe, just maybe, some Beaver brand mustard. We'd go through a whole sleeve of crackers in a blink. I ate the casing about 50% of the time.

The bologna of my childhood had both a first and last name. It was commercial, it was mass produced, it was... bologna. After my college graduation, my mom, aunt, and I hit the roads of the mid-Atlantic, and found ourselves at Seltzer's Lebanon Bologna. Such delicious yumminess! So much more interesting than that mass-produced blandness! We sampled with joy, and bought a bunch for later. 20 minutes down the road, we all discovered that, sadly, Lebanon bologna triggers migraines in our family. (It really is sad -- that stuff is damned tasty.)