Monthly Archives: February 2014

How To Make A Cheese Sauce In 40 Seconds

This is not just ANY cheese sauce – A RICH cheese sauce in 40 seconds. This is the promise of the Waring Cook Book for the 8 Button Blender. 1967.

Waring Cook Book

Waring Cook Book

It begins with a “Short Course in Blender Cooking” that includes the advice

“You own an electric blender….USE IT EVERY DAY!’

They’re also terribly fond of all caps, never realizing that ONE DAY it will look like they’re SHOUTING.

The second section is 30 ways to use your blender every day, the first way being

1.   Whip Cream.

I would like to pause for a moment and contemplate the place where whipped cream is an everyday thing……..

whipped creamor even this kind of whipped cream

HA_WhippedCreamBack to blenders…..

waring blender

This is the 8 button model, but I’m pretty sure ours wasn’t white. On the other hand, it wasn’t the first blender and it certainly wasn’t the last…

Blenders have come and gone, but this little cookbook has remained. I had to promise that my time with it is a LOAN agreement, and that it must return to the ancestral home and take it’s rightful place next to Betty Crocker, the 1957 Better Homes and Gardens and the Church cookbook (which I’ll be borrowing next).

But a quick and easy cheese sauce for mac and cheese…which takes slightly longer then 40 seconds to make, especially if you need 2 batches to feed everyone around the table.

It also calls for only one sort of cheese – cheddar –  and cheddar is great – we often had Cracker Barrel cheddar in the house

Cracker Barrel cheese has a Facebook page...I can't make this stuff up

Cracker Barrel cheese has a Facebook page…I can’t make this stuff up

but we usually we used several different sorts of cheeses in the sauce, one of them being Velveeta. velveeta box

 Rich Cheese Saucemakes 3 cups

2 tablespoons soft butter or margarine

2 tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon salt (I add the salt after the cheese is blended in because the salt level of  cheese varies so much)

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 cups scalding milk

1 ½ cups diced Cheddar cheese (Don’t be afraid to mix this up – great way to use up bits)

  1. Put all the ingredients – except the cheese – into the blender.

  2. Cover.

  3. Press WHIP and when blades reach full speed, press Blend. Blend 20 seconds.

  4. With motor on, remove cover (I feel the need to tell you to be VERY careful – hot milk inside, please don’t let it get outside all over you) gradually add cheese.

  5. Blend 20 seconds longer.

  6. Pour into a sauce pan and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally OR

  7. Mix with 8 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked, in a 2 quart baking dish and bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes.

maccheese

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Bits and Pieces

Busy week behind and busy week ahead…

Pieter de Hooch A Woman Peeling Apples

Pieter de Hooch A Woman Peeling Apples

last week

  • Monday was President’s Day and no snow to shovel. Susan McLellan Plaisted made George Washington’s Mush Cakes on Bites of Food History
  • Tuesday Colonial Foodways had 2 programs at Plimoth Plantation – Take and Bake Apple Tarts in the morning; Curds to Curd Fritters (with some ashcakes) in the afternoon Apple Tart recipe here and the curd fritters here on the Pilgrim Seasonings blog
  • Wednesday was a blur….but
  • Thursday, meeting of the South Shore Locovores on Home Cooking – more on that later
  • on Friday, I was one of many talking to Anne Bramley about pies, and Columbus was 1492, not 1592, which is what I said, but I didn’t mean…. Eat Feed podcast Pie: A Large Slice of Everything in A Crust 
  • Saturday, Rhode Island Flower Show   where we saw the Fabulous Beekman Boys and Roger Swain …
    Me with Brent and Josh - they are truly nicer then nice

    Me with Brent and Josh – they are truly nicer then nice – I had some gifts for Polka Spot

    Roger Swain, formerly of The Victory Garden with fanboys Brent and Josh

    Roger Swain, formerly of The Victory Garden with fanboys Brent Ridge  and Josh Kilmer-Purcell at the Rhode Island Flower Show

    Next week – Spring Training begins…not the Red Sox, the Pilgrims.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that these links will work….

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Potato Peel Broth

Peeling Potatoes - Vincent Van Gogh

Peeling Potatoes – Vincent Van Gogh

There are times when ‘going meatless’ and ‘reduce food waste’ can go hand in  hand. In my freezer is a container that gets all the tough ends of things, the wilted parsley, the ends of celery, the not pretty or not prime. When it’s broth making time they get added to the meat and bone OR they get used alone

But most veggies alone don’t have the heft to give substance to a broth.

russet potato

Russet Potatoes

The lowly potato is nothing if not hefty.

Anna Thomas in The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two has  a very simple truly GENIUS meatless broth.

Vegetarian Epicure Book Two - Anna Thomas

Vegetarian Epicure Book Two – Anna Thomas

BUT before you begin, you have to decide what potato dish you will making with the potatoes. Potato Soup or Potato Gratin or some other dish that uses 6-7 good sized potatoes. It makes no sense to save the peels and throw the potatoes away.

Anna Thomas

Anna Thomas

Potato Peel Broth

Vegetable based (that would be meatless) broth

1 large onion

1 stalk celery

2 carrots

6-7 large brown skinned organically grown potatoes (You are using the PEELS here, people. Organic DOES make a difference here. It’s about 3 pounds. Buy the special bag.)

Large sprig of parsley (or a small stalk of celery – or just the leafy tops – something flavorful and green here)

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

1 bay leaf

¼ tsp dried whole thyme (or if you don’t like thyme, whatever herbal flavor note you’s prefer. I love dill with potatoes….)

1 clove garlic, peeled

2 Quarts water

Salt and pepper to taste (fresh ground pepper is sooooo much better and now that you can buy peppercorns in a little grinder in the general spice section, why are you spending money on pepper dust?)

1 dash hot sauce (This recipe was written before the Sriracha, my now go-to hot sauce was part of the culinary landscape. But a drop or two of something spicy gives depth.)

Dash of lemon juice (If you have a lemon, you’ll use a lemon. Yes you will.Don’t forget the lemon)

Plan a dish that uses 6-7 large peeled potatoes (like Potato Soup or Potato Cheese Calzone or… you get the picture)

  1. Peel the onion and quarter it. Put in a large soup pot.
  2. Wash the carrots and celery and chop them and add them to the pot.
  3.  Scrub the potatoes thoroughly (this is a job for Loofa Gloves!) and cut out any blemishes.
  4. Loofah Gloves makes scrubbing potatoes a breeze.

    Loofah Gloves makes scrubbing potatoes a breeze.

  5. Peel them in strips at least ¼ inch thick. This is the very opposite from how potatoes are supposed to be peeled. I have to be rather Zen about this, and mindfully make fat peels. Add the fat,clean peels to the pot.
  6. Whatever peeler works for you - or you can use a paring knife

    Whatever peeler works for you – or you can use a paring knife

  7. Add the parsley, oil, bay leaf, thyme and garlic.
  8. Cover with the 2 Quarts water and bring to a boil.
  9. Simmer for 1 ½ hours.
  10. Meanwhile, use the potatoes for whatever you were going to use them for.
  11. If necessary, add more water to the pot to keep the vegetables covered at all times.
  12. Broth is done when it is light brown, fragrant and delicious. There should be about 6 cups.
  13. Strain. Toss out the spent vegetable bits. Correct seasoning; salt, pepper, hot sauce, lemon.
  14. Use, refrigerate for 2 or 3 days to use or freeze for later use.

Adapted from Anna Thomas The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two. Alfred A. Knopf. 1986. pp.58-9.

Peeling Potatoes - Frank Holl

Peeling Potatoes – Frank Holl

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Snow Daze

I have never been so done with SNOW snow

as I am right now. Enough already. Is it because I don’t come from Snow People? My ancestors – immediate and the not all that far back  – didn’t come from snowy places. Is that is the root of my discontent?

Ireland, for instance is the Emerald Isle, NOT the Snow-up-to-your-eyeballs Isle

Ireland - pretty green - average snowfall? When it snows, the whole country pretty much shuts down.

Ireland – pretty green – average snowfall? Most years, next to none. When it does snow, the whole country pretty much shuts down.

Gaeta, Italy average snowfall? NONE. Maybe every hundred years or so…but pretty much never ‘neve‘. (Neve is snow – I had to look it up because, really, who from Gaeta talks like that?)

Average snowfall? Not worth mentioning

Gaeta average snowfall? Not worth mentioning

Shoveling snow has taken up a considerable amount of my winter time. Being worn out from shoveling takes even MORE time. Sigh.

And the month has had other kinds of busy:

  •  February 7, 1867 was the day Laura Ingalls Wilder was born and Sarah Uthoff  had a birthday party on her radio show Trundlebed Tales. So one night I stayed up late to chat on talk radio about birthday and other cakes from the Little Houses all over the places that the Ingalls lived, with an extra special shout out to Barbara Walker who wrote the Little House  Cookbook that is such pure delight.LittleHouseCookbook
  • The link to the radio show – it ran a little long… Trundlebed Tales Laura Ingalls Wilder On-Air Birthday Party
  •   That reminded me of the snow candy that the Ingalls girls made in Little House in the Big Woods

“One morning she boiled molasses and sugar together until they made a thick syrup, and Pa brought in two pans of clean, white snow from outdoors. Laura and Mary each had a pan, and Pa and Ma showed them how to pour the dark syrup in little streams on to the snow. They made circles, and curlicues, and squiggledy things, and these hardened at once and were candy.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods

LIW snowcandyenhanced-buzz-19949-1360338018-10

  • Then I got a call asking about oysters, colonists and aphrodisiacs – my work as a foodways culinarian is never dull….

The link to that interview is here: NPR The Salt For the Love of Oysters how a kiss from the seas evokes passions

Jan Steen The Oyster Eater

Jan Steen The Oyster Eater

Shovel snow. Shovel snow. Shovel snow. I’d like a week without the word Blizzard in the weather forecast….

Then there’s prepping for February Vacation  at Plimoth Plantation Workshops

 February Vacation at Plimoth Plantation

Tuesday, February 18
10 a.m. Take and Bake – earn your baker badge
Make an apple pie to take home and bake. When the English arrived in New England, there were no apple trees here. They created orchards here as soon as possible – they really missed apples! You will learn all sorts of modern-day kitchen skills while you follow a 17th-century English recipe to make your pie!

11:30 a.m.  Behind the Scenes Museum Tour

1 p.m. Cook over a Hearth Fire – earn your chef badge
Prepare a few familiar foods over an indoor hearth in the modern Visitor Center. In the 17th century, pancakes weren’t made from a box! Learn about interesting English recipes for pancakes and fritters, and how to prepare some deliciously different versions of foods we still eat today.

Still some openings for Tuesday – and there’s a full week of other workshops, too. Check out the Plimoth Plantation Calendar of Events

Each workshop is $5 ($4 for museum members). Bundles of programs can be purchased. Call 508) 503-2653 or groupsales@plimoth.org

Tomorrow is another Meatless Monday, hot soup edition.

 

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A Throwback Thursday

…. to when they bain’t be so different after all.

And to find out that recipe/receipt/rule question of what to call the  instructions that one receives to cook was a question and source of some confusion with ordinary cooks long before historic cooks got into the business.

WABAC machine

WABAC machine =- and Sherman and Peabody, too

WABAC machine =- and Sherman and Peabody, too

Take me back…to 1942 and Mrs Appleyard’s Kitchen….

This is a book that was given to me not once, but twice, in two different decades by two very different people. Both of them thought I’d enjoyed it – and they were both right!

Both times the book itself was a yard sale/flea market find. One copy from 1942, the other a reprint edition from the 1950’s.

Mrs Appleyards Kitchen

Mrs Appleyard is very much no-nonsense, with a very good palate and a strong sense of right and wrong, especially when it comes to what is being set out on her table.

But I’ll let her speak for herself

Mrs. Appleyard’s Kitchen. Louise Andrews Kent. Houghton Mifflin Company – The Riverside Press: Boston, 1942.

“ ‘This book will never replace real cookbooks – books like the Hesseltine and Dow Good Cooking, for instance. I don’t know how brides got along without that, because it has everything in it that anyone ever heard of cooking, and it’s practical. If I’d had it when I was a bride everything might have been different. I might never have made those choke-dogs, for instance…’ p. vii.

(If anyone knows what the chock-dog reference is, please leave a comment! Inquiring minds want to know)

Heseltine and Dow Good Cooking - they also wrote The Basic Cook Book that had at least 5 editions and was still being reprinted into the 1960's

  Majorie Heseltine and Ula M. Dow Good Cooking – they also wrote The Basic Cook Book that had at least 5 editions and was still being reprinted into the 1960’s

“ ‘…I still think there’s room for the smaller, more personal book, for the kind that is based on one person’s experience, rather than the encyclopaedia of cooking that has all the wisdom of the ages in it. The smaller ones are fun to read, too, even if you never cook out of them.’

‘Is your book for wartime?’ asked the Editor.

‘Nor specifically,’ said Mrs. Appleyard, ’but I think it might be helpful. Its point of view is that you eat things when they are at their best rather than dragging them all over the country when they are out of season. And that you have a few things and take pains in making them, rather than many and give them only part of your attention. p.viii.

(In season? Local? Isn’t it funy how this isn’t quaint right now?? )

‘In our family we say “receipts”, said Mrs. Appleyard, ‘and I’ll tell you why. It’s a question of Latin. “Recipe” is the imperative form of the verb – what I’d say to you if I wanted to tell you how to make cornstarch pudding, for instance, or cough syrup, or any other unlikely substance. “Take – recipe,” I’d say, “two tablespoons of cornstarch and throw it into the sink.” Those directions would be the receipt – the instructions that you received from me, because the word is derived from the past participle – is that clear?’

‘As clear as imitation Hollandaise sauce,’ murmured the Editor.

‘I’m glad’, said Mrs. Appleyard,’because I just made it up. Of course when we don’t want to embarrass anyone we just call them “rules” ’, she continued. ‘Yes, a good many of them are family receipts and others came from friends, and some are things we worked out ourselves.” p. ix.

Louise Kent

Louise Andrews Kent

We’ll be spending more time with Mrs Appleyard.

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Red Gravy…on a just another Meatless Monday

NOT to be confused with red-eye gravy,

Red eye gravy needs a ham steak a-frying and some black coffee to make it, well, red-eye. If there are some long cooked greens and some grits nearby, maybe a biscuit....heaven comes in many forms

Red eye gravy needs a ham steak a-frying and some black coffee to make it, well, red-eye. If there are some long cooked greens and some grits nearby, maybe a biscuit….heaven comes in many forms

which is delightful in it’s own right, just not a tomato sauce to put on macaroni.

This is not Sunday Gravy which always has meat, just basic marinara. Because Italian isn’t as nearly as much one language with dialects as it claims to be, as several languages that have a common Italian accent. The words for sauce/gravy include  sugo/salsa al/di pomodoro or pummarola ...and there are more, and that’s barely getting us out of something with tomatoes that goes over pasta type sauce, and there is a world of others….little wonder they translate into so many variations….not so much”same meat/different gravy”  as “Same gravy/different names”.

Back to the story….

One of the things I discovered when I moved out on my own  that as a single, the pantry and proportions of food I grew up within a large family were completely wrong.

I had to start over and reinvent the wheel.,

Or at least the rotelle…

Rotelle - wheel shaped pasta

Rotelle – wheel shaped pasta

Especially the rotelle – and all the other macaronis. (Back in the day, we called them ‘macaronis’: we were macaroni eaters )

Mangiamaccheroni - we were not allowed to us our hands...

Mangiamaccheroni – we were not allowed to eat macaroni with our hands at the table – EVER.

My mother’s red gravy – or tomato sauce as we say now – was a BIG BATCH affair. Since I’m the oldest of six… and four of them were growing boys – with no dainty appetites – well, let’s just say this didn’t translate well for a single, especially one who decided to be a vegetarian.

But I had been reading about Italian food…..trying to find the dishes and the tastes that my family cooked and talked about.

We talked a lot about food. I thought everyone did. All the time.  I am an not a foodie, thank you very much, I am Italian.

Don’t be fooled by my Irish face – but back to the gravy.

James Beard to the rescue.

Beard on Pasta

Beard on Pasta

Red Gravy (for Winter)

28-oz can whole tomatoes (in puree)

2 small onions, diced*

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon dried basil (or one frozen stalk)**

4   Tablespoons Butter***

  1. Put the diced onion and basil in your saucepan.
  2. Open the can of tomatoes (make sure to wash the top of the can first, and when was the last time you cleaned that can opener?) Says the voice in my head –  maybe it’s just a Big Sister thing…).
  3. With your impeccably clean hands, pick out the tomatoes and crush them directly into the pan. No finger licking until the last tomato is in!
  4. Pour in whatever puree remains in the pan, and cook over medium high heat, stirring often, for about 20 minutes.
  5. Add the butter at the end, letting it melt and enrich the sauce.
  6. If you use the frozen basil stalk, fish it out before serving.
  7.  If you want a super smooth sauce, puree in the food processor or force through a strainer. I never want a smoother sauce more then I don’t want more dishes…
  8. If you’ve started a pot of water for your macaroni at the same time everything should be done together.

James Beard. Beard On Pasta. Alfred A. Knopf. 1983. p.73.

* He says sliced. He doesn’t say garlic, which I add a clove or two, well chopped.

**I freeze basil in the summer – it turns black and scary looking, but leaves a great basil taste. JB suggests that oregano or tarragon could be used.  Oregano is fine – with or without basil; I would go so far as to suggest even a very little rosemary or the merest pinch of a fresh sage leaf. A pinch of cinnamon is very good, too. Tarragon?? It would seem that Mamma Beard was NOT from Italy.

***This was the very first time I had ever seen butter and tomatoes together in a pot. I used olive oil for years, and one day got brave….it IS very good.

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It’s not easy being green….

when you’re a vegetable trying to grow in New England in February.

There are peas – dried peas left from the harvest back in August…and pease will be the queen of the day at Plymouth Farmers Market this  Thursday at the Taste of Plimoth table, where I’ll be demonstrating pease pottage and a pea tendril salad, 17th century recipes for a 21st century kitchen.  Easy-Peasey. It just 0ccured to me that Taste of Plimoth is ultimate Throwback Thursday.green peaseBut something growing? Something fresh? No such luck. Not without a greenhouse. Or a hoop-house. Or a really sunny windowsill.

As the day get longer, minute by minute, craving something a little green is the real harbinger as Spring. I can only be soooo conflicted about eating lettuces from California or Florida..sometimes I just need the green.

Salad…..salad means spring is a-coming.

Salad with almonds and orange perfume

¼ cup olive oil (a nice fruity one)

2 Tbl wine vinegar (she suggests sherry – check your pantry for something nice)

Pinch of ground cumin (I like a generous pinch – let your nose lead you)

Salt and pepper

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

1 small onion (she says medium) cut into very thin slices and soaked in water to take some of the hurt away

Zest of 1 orange (this is the secret ingredient that makes it perfume)

**

2 Tbl flat leafed parsley, chopped

4 handfuls of bite sized greens or 4 of whatever size is your serving size

12 roasted almonds, coarsely chopped

almond blossoms and fruit - this just doesn't grow around here

almond blossoms and fruit – this just doesn’t grow around here

  1. Mix the oil, vinegar, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic, onion (drain it if you’ve soaked it – if you like raw onion or it’s mild, like a Vidalia you might not need this. I always need it – cooked onions are better to me then raw ones ever prove to be) and orange zest together in in a small jar and shake to mix.
  2. Mix the parsley and the greens together.
  3. Add dressing and toss.
  4. Top with almonds.
  5. Serves 4, unless it’s the main course of supper, then 2.
  6. In trying to make this work as a single serving, there is the problem  of getting stuck with 1/2 of an onion and 1/2 the zest of an orange ( or would that be zest of one orange?), so I make a dressing in a jar and use it as I need it, usually over 2 meals.  I usually eat the orange (maybe with a little drip of honey) after the salad for supper the first night, and the rest for lunch the next day. Unless I eat the orange right away with a few almonds as the starter to supper. One hot hard-boiled egg and a slice of bread rounds out the meal.
  7. Enjoy!

Viana La Place. Unplugged Kitchen. William Morrow and Company. 1996. p. 118.

oranges

A little ray of winter sunshine

 

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Crunchy Granola

You are what you eat and you eat what you are.


Although granola’s been around since the 19th century

Kellog's Granola 1893

Kellogg Granola 1893

I never heard of it until the 1970’s, when crunchy granola was bona fide hippie food. With my waist length hair, wire rimmed granny glasses, India print warp skirt, and Swedish clogs, I was SO there. I was crunchy granola.

And what could be better than buying granola?

Making your own. Bonus points to listening to Dale Dorman on the WRKO radio at the same time. (Stairway to Heaven)

This is what he looked like back in the day....

This is what he looked like back in the day….

This is what he looked like when we went to Oldies 106 at 5 am to do a how for Thanksgiving just a few years ago.

This is what he looked like when we went to Oldies 106 at 5 am to do a how for Thanksgiving just a few years ago. Somedays it’s easier to get into Pilgrim clothes at 4:00 AM then others!

Uber bonus points for waiting  for the night WATD played Folk Music with Dick Pleasants.

Dick Pleasants , active all over the Boston and CApe Cod folk/,bluegrass/aucostic/etc music scene.

Dick Pleasants , active all over the Boston and Cape Cod folk/,bluegrass/acoustic/etc music scene.

(Amy, what you wanna do?/I think I could stay with you/For a while, maybe longer if I do) Pure Prairie League 1974

My first attempt came shortly after I got some recipe cards in the mail. Cards for an all-natural cooking series….and you would get more cards each month for a low introductory fee….printed out by some big company. I think I still have the free box that was my gift to keep whatever – I’m not one to look a gift box in the mouth, as it were.

I was too young and naïve to see the irony in all this.

Until these cards arrived, I hadn’t thought that Granola was something that could be made at home.

Granola was in the same category as Wheaties and Cheerios and Grapenuts and Life. Cereal made in a factory, came in a box, you  eat it and buy more. Beginning and end of story.

The same Quaker Oats that made oatmeal raisin cookies cold make granola? Wicked cool!

Into the kitchen go I.

These self-same oats must be toasted.

One of the inherent problems is that oats go from toasted to toast – make that charred tasting and truly nasty – in a flash. And once smoke detectors became de rigueur, it became annoying and embarrassing.  Maybe this was just MY problem and not an oat problem.

I’ve since read about a Theory of Cooking Relativity, that we all have a set point of how much/how well our cooking chops are, and sometimes we must lose something we’ve thought we’d mastered in order to take up something else new; that there’s always something that we don’t get good at. Sort of a Superpower/Kryptonite sort of thing.

I also burn English muffins in the toaster. I was becoming rather famous for it. I stopped toasting English muffins in the toaster, and now I only toast them in a toaster oven, watching them the whole time.

By this time I had collected quite a few recipes for granola, and tried them. Most of them were sad stories, never to be retold.

You’re welcome.

Then I discovered: Stove top granola. -enchantedbroccoliforest-katzen-cvr-200

Thank you Mollie Katzan.

Mollie Katzan now - she has yet another book out....

Mollie Katzan now – she has yet another book out….

Just when I had forgotten about stove top granola, dear Ms Katzan came out with Still Life with Menu Cookbook, which is my favorite of hers, (although I’m madly in love with all of the ones she wrote for children, too.) and mentioned it again. In case you missed it the first time. Or just plain forgot.Still life with Menu

Pretend Soup - one of my faves!

Pretend Soup – one of my faves!

I still cut out granola recipes and save them – even today David Levovitz  with NO BAKE GRANOLA BARS (it would be a challenge for even me to burn these- I’ll let you know how they turn out). I have these clippings: Jane Dornbusch in the Boston Globe (trimmed off the  date, but a Wednesday when the food pages had gone to the pullout G-section, because food is now with the Funny pages. And the horoscopes and the word puzzles); Melissa Clark in the NYTimes July 15, 2009 with a more savory than sweet granola; Jill Santopietro form the Globe, May 2, 2007.

But they all include coconut. It not that I don’t like coconut, I do. What’s a pina colada without it? Or coconut cake? I just don’t care for it in granola. And it’s usually a large enough component that leaving it out leaves things unbalanced.

I don’t like recipes that make me fretful before I’d begun.

But there was ONE recipe that coconut was an add-in, not the base, if only I could find it.

Again.

I had a dream….I have very vivid dreams.

AND in this dream I was in a 15th century bake house (straight from a picture I’d be drooling over the day before) and as I was in this bakehouse all the walls became a golden color, and the outlines became red…

Forno -1481 French

Forno -1481 French

When I woke up, I thought “Tassajara Bread Book”

the-tassajara-bread-book_1

The last recipe, #98 in Tassajara?  Granola. No Coconut. Why is there a granola recipe in a bread book? It was the ’70’s.

In the meantime, I’ve eaten most of the ingredients I bought for the granola project…and just today David Lebovitz (Living the Sweet Life in Paris)  published No Bake Granola Bars…..here’s the link:

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2014/02/no-bake-granola-bars-recipe/

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One Hot Tomato

Just another meatless Monday…..

If you asked my mother, she’ll tell you I don’t like tomatoes.

Tomato_scanned

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I LOVE tomatoes, and it is out of love of tomatoes that I pick them out salads all winter long.

I love tomatoes fresh from the garden, which here in Plymouth is possibly July, definitely August and into early September.

I buy tomatoes at the Plymouth Farmers Market and sometimes from roadside stands – and there do seem to be fewer of them with each passing year – and I accept them – greedily- fresh from the gardens of my friends and family.

Random passing strangers with bulging bags of fresh produce are never turned away, either.

It wasn’t until I moved out and lived on my own that I realized I didn’t have to eat pink cottony golf balls that are sold under the name of tomato in winter time – nicely packaged in little plastic crates – at all.Bright_red_tomato_and_cross_section02

I also love all sorts of canned tomato products, and dried tomatoes and tomato paste, especially in the little toothpaste like tube.Progresso canned tomatotomato paste tube

I needed one tomato to make Flora’s Lentils and Macaroni, so I did what I always do in the winter in the grocery store – I bee lined it straight for the mark down produce rack.

My winter shopping often starts here.

I started collected cauliflower recipes because it was so often found here, and often for under a dollar.

Good Eats at a Great Price!

And often things are repackaged or trimmed in such a way that for the single or single plus one, a much more reasonable haul.

So I found a package of tomatoes, one of which went into the lentils…what to do with the rest?

And FAST – even at LOW LOW prices I don’t want to pay cash money for compost.

One way to improve and generally pump up the flavor of tomatoes is to heat them up. Think hot summer sun and fresh off the vine……

These tomatoes are a long way from their vine, and the sun is not heating up much here (or if it is, the snowfall is masking it it). That leaves cooking them.

But First – a few words about

Jacques Pepin

Jacques Pepin in 2006

Jacques Pepin in 2006

Years ago,on some cooking show (but it was in color so after 1977)  where Jacques was trimming various vegetables, cutting and chatting and moving the trimmed bits into a scrap bowl….and then he caught sight of these so-called scraps out of the corner of his eye, and paused, speechless. With the knife still in one hand, with the other he pulled (and for the life of me I can NOT remember what) part of the discard OUT of the scrap bowl . He peered below the counter. He put down the knife, pulled out a second bowl, placed the now NOT garbage vegetative bits in second bowl and said either “for soup” or “for something else” and continued with the regular show.

This whole maneuver probably took under 10 seconds.

It also summed what I dislike most about cooking shows and  food magazines –

In the quest for the best,

 We toss aside far too much of the very good and the perfectly fine.

There’s a world of good eating, and often very, very good eating, in the bits that aren’t best. Cooking /seasoning/mixing things up together can make good things better.

And this is why I’m a major Jacques Pepin fan. He saved the good. Even when it wasn’t part of the script. Bravo, Jacques!

And now for

Pappa al pomodoro

(One Hot Tomato Bread Soup)

 

1 large out of season tomato

1 Tbs olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

4 oz day old, slightly stale crusty bread*

1 oz fresh basil or fresh rocket, coarsely chopped **

Salt and pepper, to taste

Olive oil (for sprinkling)

1 Tbl grated Parmesan cheese***

  1. Core and peel the tomato, then roughly chop, saving the drippings.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stirringly cook until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes.

  3. Add tomato and juice and bring to a boil. Simmer for 3-5 minutes or until tomato starts to soften and break down.

  4. Add the bread to the tomato. Continue cooking for 5 minutes or until the bread soaks up the sauce.

  5. Stir in the leafy greens, salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes more. Scrape into a warm bowl and sprinkle with more olive oil and grated cheese.

adapted from Pappa al pomodoroThe Boston Globe, August 20, 2008. Jonathan Levitt.

* I’m using one of Jenny’s Bread Cheese Rolls, hence the weight  specific. Otherwise part of a stale loaf – pull it apart and leave it out for a while to hurry the staling (for the truly impatient a minute or two in the oven will dry it out)

** I almost never have fresh basil in the house in the winter (too cold grow citrus is also too cold to keep basil; I freeze it, which turns it black, which is fine for sauce because you can fish it out before serving, but this needs a little more substance). Rocket is another name for arugula and you need some zingy-zangy greenage to add here.

*** I actually prefer Romano, but PLEASE -nothing fr0m the green shaker can!

Pappa al pomodoro - pappa is indeedy related to pap....and pomodoro is tomato

Pappa al pomodoro – pappa is indeedy related to pap….and pomodoro is tomato

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Super (Salad) Bowl Sunday

I am not a football fan, but it’s Superbowl Sunday and football is hard to avoid/ignore/escape on this day.

So I offer my own Super Bowl –  a really great middle of winter salad. It has the color and flavor and scent of a warm and exotic and very NOT New England place. It’s not a terribly locavore sort of thing for New England. Sometimes the mere sound of the word ‘locavore‘ makes me crave the not from ’round here’. Turnips and bacon and dried beans can wait for another day.

Today is rich and sweet and fragrant and bright and sharp, all at the same time.

Oh, yes, this is one Super Salad.

This salad is from Paula Wolfert’s Mediterranean Cooking.

Mediterranean Cooking - Paula Wolfert

Mediterranean Cooking – Paula Wolfert

I’ve cut down the original recipe to serve one (or two – it depends, too, on what else you’re serving. And who.).

Salata Letchine

Serves 1 or 2

Romaine lettuce – ½ a head (or however much makes a salad for you)

Romaine lettuce

Romaine lettuce

1 orange

Just one will do - sometimes I use 2 clemetines

Just one will do – sometimes I use 2 clementines

2 tsp lemon juice

Wash the lemon. Juice the lemon, take what you need and FREEZE the rest. Grate the rind and save that too.If you're feeling extremely frugal, plant the seeds to see if you can make little lemon trees. I don't try this in the Winter because my house isn't citrus sprouting warm then.

Wash the lemon. Juice the lemon, take what you need and FREEZE the rest. Grate the rind and save that too.If you’re feeling extremely frugal, plant the seeds to see if you can make little lemon trees. I don’t try this in the Winter because my house isn’t citrus sprouting warm then.

2 tsp sugar

Sugar

Sugar

Pinch each of salt and cinnamon

salt (this is kosher, which is what I usually use)

salt (this is kosher, which is what I usually use)

You'll want the powdery stuff

You’ll want the powdery stuff

2 tsp orange juice

If you don't have orange juice on hand - juice an orange - then you'll need 2 oranges

If you don’t have orange juice on hand – juice an orange – then you’ll need 2 oranges

1 tsp orange flower water

Make sure your orange flower water is food grade - it's also great in cold bubbly drinks (Prosecco) in the summer

Make sure your orange flower water is food grade – it’s also great in cold bubbly drinks (Prosecco) in the summer!

1 oz chopped dates

You can also buy chopped dates (sometimes it's the only option offered, which is how I cam up with a weight - otherwise 2 or 3

You can also buy chopped dates (sometimes it’s the only option offered, which is how I came up with a weight ) otherwise 2 or 3

1 oz chopped blanched toasted almonds

These are smoked almonds - what you have, what you like

These are smoked almonds – what you have, what you like

  1. Wash, dry and shred lettuce.
  2.  Peel orange and separate into sections.
  3. Mix lemon juice, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange juice and orange flower water together.
  4. Just before serving, pour most of the dressing over the lettuce and toss. Put the orange sections on top of the lettuce. Top with the dates and almonds. Dribble the remaining dressing over the top.
  5. Dust with a little more cinnamon.
  6. Serve at once.

Adapted from Paula Wolfret Mediterranean Cooking. 1994, rev. ed. p. 287.

 

 

 

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