Wednesday, September 30, 2009

All-Bran Yeast Bread or Rolls

From Maine's Jubilee Cookbook, published in 1969.

1 tbl. dry yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1/2 cup All-Bran cereal
1/4 cup melted shortening
1 tsp. salt
6 cups flour

Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water. Add molasses, beaten egg, and All-Bran. Mix well.

Add remaining ingredients, mix well. Turn out onto floured board, knead well.

Let rise until doubled. Punch down and let rise a second time until doubled.

Form into loaves or rolls, let rise a 3rd time until double.

Bake in 350° oven for 35 minutes for loaves; or 400° for 25 minutes for rolls. Test for doneness.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ugly Crackers

These are called ugly because they look a little odd, being made with blue cheese. They are so good--nice with a glass of wine--and really fun to make. From The Harlow's Bread & Cracker Cookbook.

3/4 cup good blue (bleu) cheese
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 cup sesame seeds
1 tbl. salt
1 tbl. baking powder

Mix all ingredients together until they are thoroughly distributed in the dough. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Roll out the dough as then as possible [we use use our pasta maker on the lasagna noodle setting]. Place large sheets of dough onto parchment lined cookie sheets and cut across and down into squares, using a rotary pastry cutter.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. The crackers will turn golden around the edges of the pan.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Grape-Nut Bread

I am a fan of Grape-Nut cereal, and I must come by that honestly. When we first moved back to New England from the west coast we discovered that people there loved Grape-Nuts, especially in Grape-Nut Pudding. I have to admit that I never quite "got" that pudding, but this bread (from Maine's Jubilee Cookbook, published in 1969) is a very tasty way to eat your Grape-Nuts.

1/2 cup Grape-Nuts cereal
1 cup sour milk (if you don't happen to have any, use this method)
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 to 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbl. melted shortening
1 tsp. vanilla

Soak the Grape-Nuts in the sour milk for 10 minutes. Sift together the dry ingredients. Mix the egg, vanilla, and shortening. Add the egg mixture to the sour milk. Add the sifted ingredients and mix well.

Pour into a well-greased loaf pan. Let rise for 20 minutes before baking. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chicken and Rice with Choose-Your-Own Toppings

For some reason, the kids just loved this meal, probably because they could act as their own cooks-at-the-table. Here's how it worked: Everyone was served some steamed rice and some chunked-up cooked chicken. Toppings were placed all around the table in little bowls, and people could choose as many or as few as they wished.


Finely chopped green onions
Chopped peanuts
Thinly sliced celery
Toasted coconut
Chopped tart apple
Cooked green peas
Cream of chicken soup, thinned with a little milk and warmed

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Curried Pork Chops

Here is another of our family's old-fashioned pork chop recipes.

Brown pork chops on both sides in a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle both sides well with a good curry powder. Cover with a sliced onion and a chopped tart apple. Add about 1/2 cup water to the bottom of the pan.

Simmer, covered, until the chops are done, about 45 minutes, adding water if necessary to keep them from going dry.

Serve with steamed rice, chutney, chopped peanuts, and a vegetable of your choice.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Paprika Pork Chops

This is a comfort food, pure and simple. We used to serve these chops in the winter time, along with mashed potatoes and creamed corn. That doesn't sound very modern, does it?

Brown pork chops on both sides in a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and then really dust them well with lots of paprika (sweet or hot, your choice). Cover them with a sliced sweet onion, then add about a half a cup of water.

Simmer, covered, until the chops are done, about 45 minutes. Check on them from time to time, adding a bit of water if they get too dry.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Warren's Really Good Stuffed Hot Peppers

My brother-in-law, Warren, makes the best pickles and jams. Whenever Ben comes home for a visit, he checks out all the cupboards for "Warren's jars." These peppers make a wonderful appetizer.

One jar of hot cherry peppers
Provolone cheese
Prosciutto ham
Olive oil

Drain the liquid from the jar of peppers. Remove any pepper stems and shake out seeds--do not rinse them, or wash out the jar.

Roll some prosciutto around a small piece of cheese and stuff into the center of each pepper.
Place the peppers back in jar and add olive oil to the top. Screw the lid back on and keep refrigerated.

Note: The olive oil will harden in the fridge. Let it warm up a bit to room temperature before serving.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Date Nut Bread

My mother used to make date bread around Christmas time. It was wonderfully moist and dark and so good when spread with cream cheese. This version comes from my old edition of the Boston Globe Cook Book, which was given to me by my brother-in-law Warren, a printer for the Globe for many, many years.

1 (6 - 1/2 oz.) pkg. dates
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cups sugar
1 egg
4 tbl. softened butter
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup chopped nuts

Cut up dates, add baking soda and boiling water. Set aside to cool.

Add sugar, egg, and butter to cooled date mixture; beat well. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Bake in a greased loaf pan for 55-60 minutes at 350°. Remove from pan and cool on rack.

Note: I have been finding that these quick fruit and nut breads slice more easily the day after baking, although it's hard to wait that long!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Apricot-Nut Bread

1/2 cup dried apricots*
1/2 cup water

2 cups sifted flour
3 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 egg
1 cup sugar
2 tbl. melted butter
1/2 cup orange juice

1 cup walnuts, chopped

Soak apricots in water for half an hour; drain and chop.

Sift dry ingredients together.

Beat egg, add sugar and mix well. Add butter and orange juice.

Stir egg mixture into dry ingredients; stir in apricots and nuts.

Bake in greased bread pan for 1 - 1 1/4 hours at 350°. Slice cold and spread with butter.

*But think of all the substitutions you can make--prunes, dried cranberries, raisins, etc.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Blender Soups

For some reason, I never thought of doing this. It sounds like a great way to use up leftover vegetables. I always make more than the two of us can eat, hoping that Beez will eat eat more than a single reluctant forkful. Just as he was born with refrigerator blindness (defined here, see #1) he has a genetic disability to eat vegetables with any kind of gusto.

So, finally, I have found the solution--blender soups. Mind you, this solves the leftover vegetable problem, but does not mean that anyone will eat this stuff but me.

Blender Soups
According to The Boston Globe Cook Book (mine is from 1974; later edition here): Leftover vegetables can buzzed into delicious last-minute soups. Use:


to name a few. Add: Milk or water or bouillon and seasonings; heat and serve.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Date, Fig, or Prune Bars

This recipe is from The Tassajara Bread Book, by Edward Espe Brown.

...there are no mistakes. You might do it
differently next time, but that's because
you did it this way this time.
Perfect, even if you say
too much this too little that.
~Edward Espe Brown, written when he was a young Zen student.

3 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice

1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped dates, figs, or prunes
1/2 cup broken nut meats

Beat the eggs until light, then gradually blend in brown sugar. Sift together the dry ingredients. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well blended. Add the fruit and nut meats.

Pour into a greased and floured 9" x 13" pan and bake about 25 minutes at 325°.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Oriental Spice Muffins

This recipe is from The Tassajara Bread Book. Take the time to make these delicious muffins for breakfast--you will be glad you did, and your kitchen will smell wonderful.

"As the Shakers said, work is a gift to the person doing the work..." ~Edward Espe Brown, author of The Tassajara Bread Book.

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup oil
1/4 - 1/2 cup honey or molasses
1 - 1/2 cups milk

Combine the dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients. Fold quickly wet and dry together, just until the flour is moistened.* Spoon into a greased muffin tin.

Bake at 400° for about 20 minutes. Makes 1 dozen.

*Lately I've been folding in a couple of cups of raisin bran cereal before spooning the batter into the tin.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Whole Wheat Muffins

These are quite light and moist--kind of surprising, considering they are made with whole wheat flour. The recipe comes from The Tassajara Bread Book. My copy was published in 1970, and I was surprised to find that it is still in print. It has been referred to as "one of the most influential cookbooks ever" (click that link to read the article). I just know that my old copy looks well-used and well-loved.

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup oil
1/4 - 1/2 cup honey or molasses
1 - 1/2 cups milk

Combine the dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients. Fold quickly wet and dry together, just until the flour is moistened. Spoon into a greased muffin tin.

Bake at 400° for about 20 minutes. Makes 1 dozen.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pumpkin Turkey Chili

The season arrives with "the chill", the sound of rustling leaves, an instinct to hurry up and tuck in, and that "autumn smell". Gosh, I love the fall! Pumpkin season. Of course you can buy canned pumpkin year-round, but there's something really great about eating it right when the fall shows up. This recipe may sound somewhat bizarre, but it's pretty delicious. Hearty. It comes from

--1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
--1 cup chopped Onion
--1/2 cup chopped Green Bell Pepper
--1/2 cup chopped Yellow Bell Pepper
--1 clove Garlic, minced
--1 lb Ground Turkey
--1 (14.5 oz) can Diced Tomatoes
--2 cups Pumpkin Puree
--1 and 1/2 tbsp Chili Powder
--1/2 tsp ground Black Pepper
--1 dash Salt

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion, green bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, and garlic until tender. Stir in the turkey, and cook until evenly brown. Drain, and mix in tomatoes and pumpkin. Season with chili powder, pepper, and salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Serve on top of Corn Bread, topped with Shredded Cheddar Cheese and Sour Cream.

Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies

This is a nice project to do with a little kid, provided you have other things to do while the dough is chilling. It makes a very impressive and snazzy cookie and Ben remembers, after all these years, making them with me when he was little.

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg yolk
1 tbl. milk

1 - 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1 1-ounce square unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 tbl. milk

Hot milk as needed

Cream shortening, sugar, and vanilla; add egg yolk and the 1 tbl. milk. Sift together the dry ingredients; stir into the creamed mixture.

Divide dough in half. To one part, add the melted chocolate and 1 tbl. milk; mix.

Chill both doughs, covered, for 1 - 1/2 hours.

On waxed paper, roll each half of the dough into a 10" x 12" rectangle. Brush the chocolate layer with hot milk; place the plain layer atop so its far edge extends beyond the chocolate edge. Roll as for jelly roll, starting with the long side.

Wrap rolled dough in waxed paper and chill thoroughly. Slice thin.

Bake on greased cookie sheets at 375° for 8 to 10 minutes.

Makes 4 to 6 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Oatmeal Rolls

I love making rolls. They are easy to freeze for the two of us; we just take out what we need and warm them in the microwave. When I found this recipe in my old Blue Ribbon Recipe cookbook I knew I had to add it to my collection of favorites.

2 - 1/4 cups scalded milk
2 cups quick cooking oatmeal
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed well
1 tbl. salt
2 tbl. soft shortening
1 pkg. dry yeast (1 tbl)
1/4 cup warm water
1 egg, beaten
4 - 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour

Pour milk over oatmeal, brown sugar, salt, and shortening in a large bowl. Pour the yeast into the warm water. When the milk mixture is lukewarm, add the dissolved yeast and the beaten egg. Mix in flour.

Turn out onto lightly floured board, cover and let rest 10 minutes. Knead until smooth.

Place in a well-greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let rise until double. Punch down, shape into rolls. Place in well-greased muffin tins or on a cookie sheet, cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled.

Bake at 400° for 12 to 15 minutes. Makes 2 dozen.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Date Squares

This recipe, from, is just like my mom's (previously mentioned here).

16 oz. chopped dates
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Oat mixture:
1 - 1/2 cups flour
1 - 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt

Combine the filling ingredients in a small saucepan. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until thick. Remove from fire and cool.

Mix the flour, oats, brown sugar, butter, baking soda, and salt. Press about half of this mixture in a well-buttered 9" x 13" pan. Spread with the cooled filling and cover with the remaining oats mixture. Press down lightly with hands.

Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Insects in Food

Okay, it's true confession time: My mother used to make date squares and we kids just loved them. My Uncle David also loved them and I loved my uncle, so I decided one day when I was around 13 to make a batch just for him. I had the filling made and was just adding the oatmeal to the sugar and butter mixture, when I discovered that the oatmeal contained little green worms. [You might want to stop reading now]. It was the only package of oatmeal that I had, so I just picked out the worms that I could see, kind of squinted my eyes a bit, and went right ahead with the recipe. Everyone loved those date squares, and I never told anyone that they contained some random bits of extra protein.

To help with my ongoing guilt, I've done a bit of research to determine the insect content of the foods that we eat. Think about it--bugs and their eggs are surely harvested right along with grains in the field, and I'll bet you've never seen a farmer sitting and picking them out before the grain is ground into flour.

Don't believe me? Here is some information, somewhat gleefully presented by a bug guy from the North Carolina State University Dept. of Entomology:

Insects in Food

How many insects did you have for breakfast this morning? The answer may surprise you! Despite advances in pest control technology, it is still not possible to exclude all insects from our food supply. Most agricultural products are already contaminated with insects (or insect products) when they are harvested, and still more gain access during storage.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has adopted Grade Standards designed to protect American consumers from inferior agricultural products. The standards set legal limits for spoilage or contamination due to insects and other agents. The highest grade is "U.S. No. 1".

In order to qualify as U.S. No. 1 Grade, the commodities listed below cannot exceed the following limits of contamination:

Ketchup -- 30 fruit fly eggs per 100 grams
Canned corn -- 2 insect larvae per 100 grams
Blueberries -- 2 maggots per 100 berries
Peanut butter -- 50 insect fragments per 100 grams
Curry powder -- 100 insect fragments per 100 grams
Wheat -- 1% of grains infested
Sesame seed -- 5% of seeds infested
Coffee -- 10% of beans infested
Have some more ketchup with your fries!

Check out the article itself at I think I'll wait until tomorrow to give you that Date Square recipe. You've got a lot on your plate.

You need some time to digest this stuff. ;)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dried Cranberry Biscotti

I used to make these with a little melted white chocolate drizzled across the top. This version comes from The Heart of New England. 

2 1/2 c. flour 
1 tsp. baking powder 
1/2 tsp. salt 
1 1/2 c. sugar 
1/2 c. butter at room temp. 
2 large eggs 
1/2 tsp. almond extract 
1 1/2 c. dried cranberries 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; stir well to blend. With electric mixer beat sugar eggs, butter and extract. Add and mix in flour mixture. Mix in cranberries. 

Divide dough in half. Using floured hands shape into 2 logs about 10 inches long and 3/4 inch thick. Bake 30-35 minutes. Cool completely. Slice logs into 1/2 inch pieces with serrated knife and bake slices 10 minutes without parchment. Turn over and bake additional 5 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hawaiian Bread

This recipe comes from a delightful old cookbook in my collection, called Blue Ribbon Recipes; County Fair Winners (Favorite Recipes Press, 1968). It's a real treasure, because it is filled with the very best recipes of the best cooks.

One No. 2 - 1/2 can of crushed pineapple, undrained
One 10 oz. pkg. of flaked coconut
4 eggs, beaten
1 - 1/2 cups sugar
4 cups flour
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. soda

Combine all ingredients in the order given, with dry ingredients sifted together. Pour into 2 well-buttered loaf pans. Bake for 60 minutes at 325° or until done. Cool on rack.

Friday, September 11, 2009


I used to hate avocados. They're truly an acquired taste for a young boy. Actually... if you sliced one up right now and put it in a salad, I'd most likely still hate it. Avocados and I have textural disagreements. However, when mashed up and made into a dip, I LOVE my brother, the avocado. When the avocados are fresh, nothing beats guacamole that's been made 5 minutes ago. That reminds me of a funny story... My old roommate Kiyash (God Bless that guy) tried to make guacamole once, but the avocados weren't in season. Was this going to stop Kiyash? Hell no! He was convinced that the solution to softening unripened avocados was popping them in the microwave! The rest of the story isn't very exciting. It just made for a bad dip, though Kiyash seemed blissful enough. What an innovator! Go, Kiyash!

I'm going to provide a rough outline of Guacamole, suggesting what I'd use. It's one of those recipes that you should find your own innovations and measurements for. Hopefully, not trying to ripen your avocados in the microwave.

--A couple Avocados
--Red Onion, minced
--Tomato, seeds and pulp removed, diced
--Jalapeno or Serrano Pepper, minced fine
--Olive Oil
--Garlic, minced fine
--Fresh Cilantro, chopped fine
--Fresh-Squeezed Lime Juice
--Kosher Salt
--Fresh-Ground Black Pepper

Cut avocados in half. Remove seed. Scoop out avocado from the peel and put in a mixing bowl. Mash with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients to whatever measurements you desire. Just remember that the avocado is the star of the guacamole show. Mash together and serve immediately.

NOTE 1: If you're not going to serve immediately (why!?), keep the tomatoes separate and cover the guacamole with plastic wrap (or it will turn brown like an exposed banana). Store in the fridge. Mix tomatoes in right before you serve.

NOTE 2: Readers of this blog may notice that this is the recipe for Pico de Gallo mashed in with a couple of avocados.

Chilled Blueberry Lavender Buttermilk Soup

I've had this recipe for years. I cut it out from a long ago newspaper article on "Cooking in the Shaker Spirit." It's been tucked into a book on Shaker cooking, just waiting. I dedicate it to my sister, who will make it for a summer supper for us, to be served on a patio overlooking the sage bushes, piñon trees, and the distant blue mountains--a perfect blending of New Mexico scenery and New Hampshire memories.

4 pints blueberries
2 cups maple syrup
Juice of one lemon
6 to 8 lavender sprigs
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups light cream

Pick through and wash the blueberries. In a soup pot combine the berries, maple syrup, and lemon juice. Simmer the mixture for 30 minutes. Puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Chill.

Soak the lavender sprigs in the buttermilk and cream for 45 to 60 minutes, then strain. Combine the chilled soup with the perfumed cream and buttermilk mixture. Chill the soup for 4 hours to allow the flavors to develop.

Serve in chilled bowls garnished with blueberry lavender ice cubes.*

*Ice cubes: fill a conventional ice cube tray with lavender blossoms and blueberry juice, then freeze.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

This is the kind of pie you bake when you have a garden, and that is exactly what the Shaker women did at their village in Canterbury, New Hampshire. This recipe comes from Seasoned with Grace; My Generation of Shaker Cooking, by Eldress Bertha Lindsay.

1 generous cup of rhubarb, cut up
1 generous cup of strawberries, sliced
A pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
2 generous tbl. cornstarch or tapioca
Unbaked pie shell (additional crust for top is optional)

Mix rhubarb, berries, and salt. Mix sugar and cornstarch together and add to berries. Put in pie shell. Dot with butter.

Bake at 400° for 10 minutes, than continue baking at 375° for another 45 minutes or until done.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo is really just a fancy term for a fresh tomato salsa. Most recipes are pretty similar. Therefore, I'll just skip measurements all together and you can play around and do what you want, adding and subtracting as you'd like. It's more fun that way anyhow, right? So bust out the corn chips and figure out your best version this football season!

--Tomatoes, seeded and diced
--Red Onion, finely chopped
--Jalapeno or Serrano Pepper, finely chopped
--Garlic, minced
--Cilantro, chopped fine
--Olive Oil
--Fresh Lime Juice
--Kosher Salt
--Fresh-Ground Black Pepper

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients. Let them all sit together and marinate before eating.

Oyster Stuffing

I am such a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving that I never want to fool around with the menu. I like Sausage Cornbread Stuffing for the turkey, but if I ever chose to experiment I might try this recipe from Seasoned with Grace; My Generation of Shaker Cooking, by Eldress Bertha Lindsay. Making it would remind me of the lovely Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire that we visited when the kids were little.

1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 cups bread crumbs, soft
1 pint oysters, chopped
2 - 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Pour milk and butter over crumbs. Add oysters and seasonings. Spoon the stuffing into the turkey and roast.

Shaker Village, Canterbury, NH

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Jenn's Sugar and Cinnamon Cookies

My coworker Jenn emailed me another of her cookie recipes. I'm a fan of using cream cheese in anything, so this intrigues me. Once, I wrote a 5 page essay on my appreciation of cheese. In it, I marveled at the many wonderful varieties of cheese from around the world, but the inspiration to begin can be traced to the bagel with cream cheese in my mouth. Other inspirations for writing a 5-page essay on cheese: I hated my job and didn't have enough work to do.

--1 cup Unsalted Butter (2 sticks)
-- 8 oz Cream Cheese
--2 ½ cups Flour
--2 tsp Cinnamon, plus some
--1 tbsp Vanilla
--½ tsp Salt (use only if you're using unsalted butter)
--2/3 cup Sugar, plus some

Mix butter, cream cheese and sugar together. Add in flour, cinnamon and salt. Add vanilla. Knead dough together and refrigerate for about an hour or so (Jenn recommends dividing the dough into two balls because it will cool quicker). Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll dough out to about quarter inch thick and spread addition sugar and cinnamon on top. Roll up into a log, then refrigerate for another hour. Cut into 1/4-inch thick cookies and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Jenn's Variation: Lemon Sugar Cookies! Instead of vanilla, use lemon extract. Instead of cinnamon, use lemon zest.

Brown Derby Potato Salad

The original Brown Derby Restaurant was opened in Los Angeles on Wilshire Blvd. in 1926. It was known for its distinctive brown hat shape, its good food, and because it was a place frequented by the Hollywood stars of the time. Three other L.A. branches were opened in 1929, 1931, and 1940--the latter, Los Feliz Brown Derby, is still in operation. The organization began a licensing program in 1987 with Disney and later with MGM. (Wikipedia).

My father's cousin was involved in the movie business and must have taken my parents to the original Brown Derby, as they always treasured memories of the place and enjoyed cooking from their copy of The Brown Derby Cookbook (Doubleday, 1949), which was passed down to me.

We kids loved this recipe, even though we might not have known its background. The bacon added just the right flavor and whenever my mother was making potato salad, this is the recipe we hoped she would use. She wrote little notes into the list of ingredients, and I have included those in brackets.

Serves 4.

3 large Idaho russet potatoes
2 tbs. chives [or green onions]
4 slices crisp bacon, chopped fine
1/2 cup hot chicken broth [one half cube bouillon, dissolved in 1/2 cup water]
1 tsp. celery salt
1/2 cup Brown Derby Mayonnaise [my note: See recipe below, or substitute Hellman's or Best Foods, depending on where you live]
1/3 cup Brown Derby Old-Fashioned French Dressing [use Girard's]
2 tbl. wine vinagar
1 tbl. parsley, chopped fine

Boil the potatoes until well done. While still slightly warm, slice into a medium-sized salad bowl. Add chives, bacon, chicken broth, celery salt, mayonnaise, French dressing, wine vinegar, and parsley. Mix well, allow to stand for an hour, and serve.

Brown Derby Mayonnaise
Makes one quart

6 egg yolks
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. English mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
4 tbl. mild vinegar
3 cups salad oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbl. boiling water

Beat egg yolks with electric beater or French whip. Add salt, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and 2 tbl. vinegar. Mix well.

Add oil in fine stream, whipping fast to absorb oil. Stop adding oil if it is not absorbed. As mixture becomes thick add remaining vinegar and lemon juice.

Continue whipping until all oil, vinegar, and lemon have been used. If mixed correctly all ingredients should be absorbed. Finally, whip in the boiling water.

Keep refrigerated. Do not freeze.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Genuine Charcutier's Meatloaf

According to Pork and Sons, a cookbook by Stéphane Reynaud (here's my intro to this cookbook), "the term charcuterie is used to describe both the branch of cooking devoted to cooked or processed meat products, primarily from pork, and a shop selling these products. A charcutier is the man or woman behind the counter, and they are a great source of information and advice on pork." I've never made the following recipe, but the page is already well worn. I'm preparing the card for my recipe box so that it will be ready for me when I can go visit my local charcutier... Porky Meatloaf, here we come!

--Sweet Butter, for greasing
--2 and 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour, plus a little more for dusting
--4 tbsp Olive Oil
--3 Shallots, chopped
--1 and 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
--4 Eggs, lightly beaten
--1/2 cup White Wine
--1 cup fresh Whole Milk
--1/2 cup coarsely chopped Smoked Bacon
--1/2 cup coarsely chopped Jambon de Paris or other Unsmoked Fully-Cooked Ham
--1/4 cup coarsely chopped spicy Spanish Chorizo Sausage (or Mexican Chorizo)
--1/2 cup coarsely chopped Prosciutto

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a loaf pan with butter and dust with flour, tipping out any excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Add the shallots, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until golden brown. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add the eggs, white wine, milk and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix well, then stir in all the meat and the shallots. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes.

At Last! New Mexico's Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail

If you live in New Mexico, you have probably debated one of our big questions: Who has the best green chile cheeseburger in the state? If you don't live here, you will want to plan your next vacation around New's Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail--map and guide "coming soon."

You see, they can't make up the map until they've stopped adding newly nominated restaurants around the state. Here is the current list of nominees.

Just to get your taste buds in gear, here is the description of our state's favorite burger from the New website: A juicy thick patty grilled over an open flame or sizzled on a griddle, then blanketed in molten Cheddar or other cheese, and topped off with enough New Mexican green chile to tingle the tastebuds—what could be more glorious?

Don't forget to vote!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


A few years ago, I moved to Astoria, Queens. There, I discovered my new favorite "restaurant," though it was hardly "a restaurant". It was a catering truck, with "Azteca Pride" and "El Rey Del Taco" painted on it, parked on 30th Avenue outside the Rite Aid Drug Store. Marsha and I lovingly referred to it as "Taco Truck." Now, before you judge my views on food, let me note that in New York we take our street vendors seriously. Many carts proudly display food reviews from publications such as Zagat's and The New York Times. If you were to ask around about "The Taco Truck in Astoria," 1 out of 5 people in this town could probably give you directions. In fact, the truck is so popular that Jose, the owner, was able to earn the money to open a restaurant. It kinda makes me proud. This place has some of the of the best Mexican street fare. For example, the huarache (recipe from Sunset Magazine, via, modified by ME)

Recipe makes 4 huaraches

--2 cups Dehydrated Masa Flour (Corn Tortilla Flour)
--1 tsp Baking Powder
--1/4 tsp Salt
--1 and 3/4 cups Chicken Broth

--Refried Beans
--Some sort of Meat (I would recommend Chorizo (crumbled and pan-fried), or Chicken that has been marinated in Lime)
--Shredded Lettuce
--Sliced Tomatoes, or Pico de Gallo
--Crumbled Cotija Cheese (or Feta Cheese)
--Sour Cream
--Guacamole (optional)
--Hot Sauce (optional)
--Salt and Black Pepper

In a bowl, stir masa flour, baking powder, salt, and broth until dough holds together well, adding a little water if needed. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Shape each portion into a 6-inch-long log on a sheet of waxed paper. Pat each log into a 1/8-inch-thick oval, about 4 by 8 inches. (If shaped ahead, stack with waxed paper, wrap airtight, and refrigerate up to 2 hours.) Place a griddle on medium-high heat. When pan is hot, flip masa dough onto pan and peel off paper. Cook until bottom of masa is light brown, about 3 minutes. Use a wide spatula to turn huaraches over, then spread refried beans over each huarache. Cover beans with meat topping. Cook until huarache bottoms are lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to plates. Top huaraches equally with shredded lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, salt, and pepper to taste. I recommend guacamole and hot sauce too!

Fresh Raspberry Ice Cream Soda

Here I am, breaking my own rule. I'm posting a recipe here that I haven't actually tried out yet, yet what could go wrong with something that sounds so delicious? Living here right on the buckle of the Bible Belt as we do (however temporarily), it even sounds just the tiniest bit sinful, and I'm all for that!

1/2 gallon very good vanilla ice cream
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 bottle (750 milliliters) champagne

Fill 6 tall soda classes two-thirds full with alternating layers of ice cream and raspberries. Fill the glasses to the top with champagne and serve.

This comes from that old family favorite cookbook: The Nine Seasons Cookbook, by Pat Haley. They sure must have had fun out there in the New Hampshire woods while they were writing this book.

The recipe allows as how some might want a non-alcoholic version (substitute ginger ale for the champagne); and suggests that you might want to try this drink again when other fruits are in season (strawberries, peaches, nectarines, or cantaloupe).

Hey, Bucksnort has some cantaloupe ripening in her garden. Maybe we should test some variations this afternoon...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Florence Huntley's Forgotten Cookies

Several decades ago, I had a cookie like this at one of those potlucks where people bring their most treasured dishes. It melted in my mouth and was so delicious that I never forgot it. I remember asking the cookie maker how they were made and that she said something about them being in the oven overnight--but then we were interrupted and never finished the conversation.

I never thought it would be so hard to track down a recipe. I was hampered, of course, by having no idea what to call them--meringue? cookies? overnight somethings?--plus, I was searching back in the dark ages before the Internet. Many years later in more enlightened times, I scoured the Internet for the recipe, still with no luck.

And then, just the other day, I was paging through one of our family's favorite old cookbooks--The Nine Seasons Cookbook, by Pat Haley (published in 1986 by Yankee Books), and there it was! Who knew that I had it right there on the bookshelf all these years? Who knew, indeed, to look for "Florence Huntley's Forgotten Cookies?" Obviously, they were never forgotten by me.

Sadly, the Nine Seasons Cookbook is out of print. That won't stop you--you can just track down a copy online and buy it. You won't be sorry.

3 egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup black walnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar gradually and continue until the whites hold a stiff peak.

Fold in the vanilla and nuts. Drop by the teaspoon onto an aluminum foil covered cookie sheet. Place in the preheated oven. Shut the oven door and turn off the heat. Do not peek. Leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Store in an airtight container.

Note: You can substitute ordinary walnuts for the black walnuts or replace the nuts with a 6-oz. package of chocolate chips. A southern version of Forgotten Cookies calls for 1 cup of chopped pecans and the chocolate chips.

Broccoli Casalinghi

One more recipe from Ciao Italia, by Mary Ann Esposito.

--1 bunch Broccoli
--1/4 cup Olive Oil
--2 cloves Garlic, chopped
--1 and 1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
--1/4 cup Water
--Salt and Fresh-Ground Black Pepper to taste
--1/4 cup shredded or grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese

Clean and cut up the broccoli. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until it begins to soften. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add the broccoli and toss to coat with oil. Cook for 2 more minutes, then reduce heat to medium low. Cover and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the water and cover again. Cook for about 6 minutes until broccoli is crisp-tender, adding more water if necessary. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and toss with cheese.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Black Beans

I made something like these beans a while back but couldn't find the recipe again. So we mixed, and tasted, and added, and tasted again, until we ended up with a very simple and delicious way to prepare black beans.

1 can of black beans, rinsed well and drained (or--cook dried black beans to make 2 cups)
Orange juice to cover
1 rounded tsp. finely chopped onion
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tbl. orange juice concentrate
1 tbl. limeade concentrate
1 tsp. lime juice

Put everything into a medium saucepan and simmer uncovered on low heat until the juices are reduced somewhat. We cooked them for about 45 minutes while preparing the rest of this delicious menu: Indian Fry Bread (Low-Fat Version) and Chicken Fajitas. We folded the fajita chicken into the "fry" bread, spooned over some black beans, added fresh tomatoes from Bucksnort's garden, sprinkled them with grated cheese, and topped the whole thing with some fresh peeled and seeded green chiles. It was one of the best meals ever served in the Zees kitchen!

Rigatoni with Dried Tomatoes

Here's a much simpler recipe from Ciao Italia, by Mary Ann Esposito. It's just another of my mom's dog-eared pages...

--1 cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes, soaked in Olive Oil
--1 clove Garlic, minced
--1 pound Rigatoni, cooked al dente
--3 tbsp Fresh Basil, minced
--1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
--1/3 cup grated Asiago Cheese
--Fresh-ground Black Pepper

Drain the tomatoes, reserving 2 tablespoons of the oil. Chop the tomatoes very fine by hand. In a saucepan, saute the tomatoes, oil and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Toss with rigatoni. Add the basil and cheese and toss some more. Grind in some pepper to taste.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

English Brown Stew

This is a nice basic beef stew. The recipe comes from Joan Harlow's Loaf and Ladle Cook Book, which was written back in the days when Exeter, New Hampshire was still lucky enough to have the Loaf and Ladle Restaurant on its main street.

2 lbs. London broil, cubed
2 large onions, chopped
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
3 carrots, diced
3 - 4 stalks of celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup of tomato juice (or sauce) or 1 tbl. tomato paste
1 tbl. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbl. lemon juice
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. mild paprika
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbl. beef fat
3 tbl. flour

Put the meat on to simmer with cold water to cover. Skim as needed until the broth is clear. Then add the vegetables, tomato juice, and more water if needed to cover. Add the seasonings and simmer until the vegetables are done and the meat is tender (about two hours).

Make a roux with the beef fat and flour. Work in some broth from the stew until it is like a thick gravy, then stir it back into the stew. Correct the seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste.

Jessi's Lasagna

Jessi had made a great lasagna a few months ago, but could only provide me with a loose outline. Here's my approximation of it based on what she told me (using the guidelines of a recent lasagna recipe I posted!)

--3 10-ounce packages of fresh or frozen Spinach, thawed, drained and chopped fine if frozen. If fresh, wilted over medium-high heat for 4 minutes, drained and chopped fine.
--3 cups Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
--1 cup Low-Fat Sour Cream
--1 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
--1 cup diced Mozzarella Cheese
--Salt and Pepper to Taste


--1 Eggplant, sliced
--Olive Oil
--1 medium Yellow Onion, diced
--1 lb Ground Chicken or Ground Turkey
--1 Zucchini (and/or any Other Squashy Vegetables, perhaps some minced Fresh Herbs), cubed
--Lasagna Noodles
--2 jars Pasta Sauce
--1/2 cup Shredded Parmesan or Romano Cheese

Mix together all of the filling ingredients, cover and set in fridge until ready to use. Heat a skillet over high heat and add olive oil. Add the slices of eggplant and cook. Remove and set aside. Return the saucepan to the heat and add a little more oil. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the ground meat and brown. Add in zucchini and/or any other veggies and cook. Remove from heat. Boil the lasagna noodles in water until al dente. Drain.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a 9x13-inch pan, spread 1/2 a cup of the pasta sauce. Cover with a layer of lasagna strips and spread about 1 and 1/2 cups of the filling on top of that. Add a layer of eggplant, then some of the meat and zucchini mixture. Spoon on a thin layer of sauce on top of that. Repeat 2 more times, the top layer lasagna noodles. Spread 1 cup of the pasta sauce on top of that, then sprinkle with the grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Cover with Aluminum Foil. Bake for 30 minutes, then let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

White Lasagna With Pine Nuts

One of the cookbooks that I inherited from my mother was Ciao Italia, by Mary Ann Esposito. Here's one of the recipes that we cooked from it. It's a "light" variation on lasagna, though closer inspection looks heavy to me! I'm sure that mom has some variation. The filling is perfect for stuffed shells too!


--1/2 cup Pine Nuts, toasted
--3 10-ounce packages of fresh or frozen Spinach, thawed, drained and chopped fine if frozen. If fresh, wilted over medium-high heat for 4 minutes, drained and chopped fine.
--3 cups Ricotta Cheese
--3 Eggs
--3 tbsp minced Fresh Parsley
--1 and 1/2 cups diced Mozzarella Cheese
--2 tbsp room-temperature Butter
--1/4 lb Prosciutto, diced
--1 tsp grated Nutmeg
--1 tsp Salt
--1 tsp White Pepper

White Sauce:

--4 cups Milk
--1 stick Butter
--1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour, sifted
--1 tsp Salt
--1/2 tsp grated Nutmeg
--1 and 1/2 tbsp finely minced Fresh Sage

--Lasagna Noodles
--1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese

In a large bowl, combine the spinach and the pine nuts. Beat in the eggs. Add the remaining filling ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

In a large saucepan, scald the milk (bring to just under a boil). Remove from heat and set aside. In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in the milk, salt and nutmeg and stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Cook, stirring, for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the sage. Cover and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Boil the lasagna noodles in water until al dente. Drain. In a 9x13-inch pan, spread 1/2 a cup of the white sauce. Cover with a layer of lasagna strips and spread about 1 and 1/2 cups of the filling on top of that. Spoon on a thin layer of sauce. Repeat 2 more times, the top layer lasagna noodles. Spread 1 cup of the white sauce on top of that, then sprinkle with the grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Cover with Aluminum Foil. Bake for 30 minutes, then let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

New England Rice Pudding

This recipe comes from Gladys Taber's Stillmeadow Cook Book.

3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups of milk, scalded
3/4 cup of rice, cooked

Mix the first four ingredients until well blended, then add the milk. Pour into a buttered casserole, then add the rice and stir. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Set the casserole in a large pan and pour about an inch of hot water around it (in the large pan, not in the casserole). Bake at 350° about 30 minutes until the pudding is set and beginning to brown on top.

Serve warm or cold. It's nice with a little whipped cream on top.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lemon Bread Pudding

I have to say that we kids really disliked my mother's bread pudding--and you didn't often find us protesting any dessert. It was heavy and it just sat there, and it wasn't at all fun to eat.

Here is a flavorful and much lighter alternative.

2 cups French bread cubes (cut off crusts)
3/4 cup sugar
The juice and zest of one lemon
1/2 cup melted butter
4 eggs, separated
2/3 cup milk

Combine bread cubes, sugar, lemon juice, and zest; stir well. Add butter and stir to blend.

In another bowl, beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon colored. Add the milk. Pour over the bread mixture.

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold them into the bread mixture. Pour all into a buttered 1 - 1/2 quart casserole. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Serve warm with Lemon Sauce (below).

Lemon Sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup hot water
1 tbl. cornstarch
2 tsp. butter
1 - 1/2 tbl. lemon juice
dash of nutmeg
pinch of salt

Mix and cook in double boiler (or in microwave) until smooth and thick. Cool slightly before serving.