Tag Archives: butter

Mushroom Mouth

Growing up, a mushroom mouth was not the mouth of a mushroom lover…..

br pizza

Bob Ross and Happy Pizza with Mushrooms Mouth…..

‘Mushroom mouth’ was the English translation of an Italian phrase , ‘mussi di funghi’…. that meant , literally – mushroom mouth. Except, of course, this isn’t how I can find the phrase on the Internet….mouth tranlates to  – apertura, or  bocca, but I can’t find a mussi...but it’s still a thing….even if it’s a dialect thing

Like pursed lips….

J Lo blowing a kiss

Not to be confused with the kiss blowing pursed lips…

JLo pursed lips

This is the very ‘not my happy mouth’ mushroom mouth look. Thank you, J Lo for being so expressive!

and now some mushrooms….

mushroom, white

White mushrooms

mushrooms

Lots of lovely mushrooms

 

and they had already-sliced fresh mushroom on the markdown bin at the store….so I snapped them up. I used to make a really easy, really tasty mushroom sauce for pasta, so easy that if I couldn’t remember which cookbook it was in, I could probably make something close anyhow….

 

My son is not a fan of the mushroom, so most of the last 20 years I haven’t used mushrooms as a main ingredient (although they have played supporting roles in a few things)….

I looked for the cook book with the terrific mushroom sauce recipe  and found the recipe, but not exactly in the book I thought it would be in .It wasn’t quite as I remembered it. The page was too small and there weren’t as many smudges as I remembered, and the type face was off…..but it was here:

NH best of Italian cooking

This book also came out later then I remembered using the recipe  and I remember making the sauce in the early ‘8o’s……mystery..

Mushroom Spaghetti Sauce

Salsa di funghi per spaghetti

6 tablespoons butter, divided

4 medium onions, thinly sliced

2 pounds mushrooms, sliced

Salt

Fresh ground pepper

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup heavy cream

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown, 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Cover and turn the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the onions are very, meltingly, soft, stirring occasionally.
  3. In another pan, one large enough for the full sauce, melt the other 3 tablespoons butter. Cook the mushrooms until tender. Season with salt and pepper and the nutmeg. Keep hot.
  4. Meanwhile, start cooking 1 pound spaghetti.
  5. Five minutes before serving….add the cream to the mushrooms and onions. Heat, but do not let boil or it will curdle.
  6. Drain the cooked spaghetti, add the sauce, mix and serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
  7. Easy, rich, delicious.

Adapted from Nika Hazelton’s From Nika Hazelton’s Kitchen.Viking, 1985. p.237. and Nika Hazelton The Best of Italian Cooking. Weathervane Books, 1989. p.163-4.

From NH kitchen large

This is the volume with the smudges…she used the same recipe in 2 volumes! Mystery solved.

There was also a time during the ’70’s that I had confused Nika Hazelton with Marcella Hazen, just based on their names and that they were both producing Italian cook books. There was no Internet or social media, so all I had was names on a book cover and my poor memory to depend on.

 

 

Regional It. Kitch

This is the other Nika that I have

Oh, Look!

Chocolate Cake!

Looks like I’ll be spending a little more time with Nika….

Nika Hazelton

Nika Hazelton

 

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Filed under Books, Recipe, The 1980's

Susie’s Brownies

Susie loves to bake and she bakes great cakes. Susie makes some pretty awesome brownies, too, and since her sons are grown and live away, she doesn’t bake as often as she used to. Often when she does bake, she brings in plates of things to share with all of us at work because otherwise it’s too much. We do not object.

Susie makes a mint chocolate brownie that is simply divine – fudgy, rich and just a hint, a whiff of mint. So often mint overpowers the party, but not on this plate.

Susie has been making brownies with the Ghirardelli’s sweet ground cocoa.

Ghiradelli sweet ground cocoa

She also adds chocolate chips and Andes crème de menthe baking bits to thoroughly gild this lily. The Andes bits are fairly fantastic because they’re not too mint, encased as they are in chocolate.

Andes creme de menthe chips

The recipe is on the back of the Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Cocoa bag. Susie left me a bag full of ingredients (talk about your Merry Christmas) with a note that said she didn’t use the baking soda.

I started getting ready:

Oven to 350° (open it and make a quick check that nothing besides the racks are lurking there….)

2 eggs; ¼ cup sugar; 1 tsp vanilla;

½ cup butter

……and it needs to be melted – this is a job for the new mini-saucepan! Don’t throw that butter wrapper away – use it to grease the pan [I have a baggie in the freezer for saving butter wrappers].

¾ cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Cocoa (note: this is on the bag, too:Unsweetened Cocoa Substitution: For each ½ cup Unsweetened Cocoa, use 1 cup of Sweet Ground Cocoa and decrease the amount of sugar the recipe calls for by ½ cup.” In short, the Sweet Ground stuff is equal amounts of cocoa and sugar, adjust accordingly.

2/3 cup unsifted flour

¼ teaspoon baking powder*

(*When Susie left me a note that she said doesn’t include the baking soda,  I went through and as there was no baking soda, I put the baking powder in. Later, I realized she must have meant baking powder; the brownies from the batch I put it into were still good and squidgy…you’re on your own here. I’m sure Alton Brown has a video somewhere of the difference between leavens in the brownies or not, probably called “Welcome to the Dark Side: The Brownie Apocalypse”….but I digress.)

AB

¼ tsp salt; ½ cup of walnuts, chopped; ½ cup chocolate chips and ½ cup creme de menthe bits

  • Grease an 8 or 9 inch pan.
  • Beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla, add butter.
  • Mix the cocoa, flour and salt together.
  • Add the drys to the wets, stirring well.
  • Stir in the nuts and then the chips.
  • Spread into the prepared pan.
  • Bake 20-30 minutes.
    • From bag: for extra chewy brownies, use 9” pan and longer baking time.
  • Cut into squares. Makes 16-20 brownies. Serves 2 (or more if they insist….)

Adapted from the back of the Ghirardelli’s Sweet Cocoa Powder bag, notes and technical assistance from Susie Walker.

 

PS – Alton Brown HAS covered the brownie…..

ABbrownie message

Here’s the link to his website

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Filed under Cake, Recipe

Coffee Cake

Cardamon Coffee Cake. Sour Cream Cardamom Coffee Cake.

I first had this cake maybe thirty years ago, and I remember it as if it were yesterday….and the memory still makes my mouth water.

It was a cold, crisp day in the fall…a day much like today.

Pat and Troy, two excellent bakers, were at work standing with a cake dish that had the most amazing cake smell coming from it.

I immediately became so focused on the CAKE that I can’t remember who made that particular cake, but it did inspire the other to make a second cake a few weeks later, so I had this cake twice in a month, lucky lucky lucky me…

Back to that first CAKE.

This image is from the Bakepedia website - there will be a link in a minute.

This image is from the Bakepedia website – there will be a link in a minute.

Don’t be deceived by appearances, it’s not just the look – which is that of a very nice coffee cake – but the aroma,

Oh, The AROMA!

And thus I smelled cardamom (or evidently, as  the English call it cardamon , which must be why I am going back and forth between the two spellings) for the very first time. 

Troy and Pat were discussing pre-ground cardamon versus buying the pod and grinding your own, as well as the expense….for the money, buy the pods and grind your own, it doesn’t take that much time or effort and it is 100 times better at much less then 100 times the cost.

spice-islands-ground-cardamom-2-oz-pack-of-3_1566247

Ground cardamom – sure , it’s good….but you can do better!

If you don't have a spice grinder OR a little mortar and pestle, you can use a baggie and a rolling pin (or other weight object) to grind it fresh - no excuses!

If you don’t have a spice grinder OR a little mortar and pestle, you can use a baggie and a rolling pin (or other weighty object) to grind it fresh – no excuses!

Then the conversation went to the vast amount of butter – a POUND – that goes in, as well as the vast amount of sour cream that goes in – a POUND – ….

This is not a cake to make impulsively, or for yourself.

This is a cake for an OCCASION, an  EVENT, a HOLIDAY, a GATHERING, a CROWD.

You will need a big bowl.

But first, you will need a recipe.

So did I.

It took me a while to find the recipes. Every time I got into a bookstore, I couldn’t remember WHICH of the Mollie Katzan

Mollie Katzan, the Moosewood years

Mollie Katzan, the Moosewood years

books it was, and when I got one I made soups and salads, because REALLY how is a dessert vegetarian??????Most desserts don’t have meat in them….and I had cake and cookie and dessert cookbooks to give me all the sugar and spice and everything nice recipes that I could make.

moosewood_large

This is the cookbook with the Sour Cream Cardamon Coffee Cake to Die For Recipe in it

When I finally brought the right cookbook home, and got past the Gypsy Soup – this is SUCH Gypsy Soup weather….

page from the book - I recognized Gypsy Soup at a glance!

page from the book – I recognized Gypsy Soup at a glance!

I bought the cardamon and copious amounts of sour cream and butter and got everything mise-en-place, I went to bed to get up early, make coffee and make the cake. Had to use my trusty Kitchen-Aid, my biggest Budnt pan, which I put on a baking sheet, just in case there was overflow……it’s a LONG bake, but after about 25 minutes….back to

Oh, The AROMA!

It was a downright cold day the day I baked, and I hesitated to take it out of the pan because I didn’t want it to collapse, so I popped the pan, on the baking sheet in the back seat of the car, the one that smelled like baked beans in the hot summer sun, and set off to work. Once more,

Oh, The AROMA!

and when I arrived at work, before I could find a plate big enough to turn the cake out of the pan on, I found myself  surround by curious co-workers, and conversation about cardamon being so important to Finnish Christmas cooking, and the secret ingredient  of really good Chai …..and when the cake came out, a little slumped under the weight of the sour cream and the butter and the sugar and the spice…..and there were pieces of cake and plates and all passed around and then….silence.

A moment of silence.

We don’t get many of those in the workplace, so I wasn’t sure if it was endorsement or disappointment.

NOT disappointment!

More plates, pieces saved for lunch, pieces saved for those not in quite yet…..

I’ve made this cake several times, always the same reception.  But I haven’t made it recently.

But a lunchtime conversation about cardamom with someone named Molly….cardamon flashback

I will be making this coffee cake sooner rather then later…..

Being separated from my cookbooks only makes things more interesting.

What I’ve found on the Internet:

  1. This is an Occasional Cake – crave it occasionally, make it for a special occasion. This is not an everyday  cake.
  2. There are some who would cut back on the butter and/or the sour cream or shrink the volume to fit into an 8×8 pan- IGNORE THEM. They are idiots. They have completely missed the point. If you want low fat make an angelfood cake or eat a piece of fruit.
  3. You will need a big bowl, a big pan and some big time. It’s 90 minutes, at least, in the oven alone.
  4. It will be totally worth it.

And now for the links:

  • Bakepedia – Cardomom Coffee Cake – the first of their Throwback Thursday posts, and Mollie in her own words
  • Enchanted Fig Huge and Beautiful Cardamom Coffee Cake:  Momma Diaries 2
  •  Art of Gluten-free Baking  – Coffee Cake Friday: Cardamom Coffee Cake, Gluten-Free
cardamom in flower

cardamom in flower

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Filed under Autumn, Cake, Influencers, winter

Punkin Bread Puddin

Last week, after making Indian Pudding and Sops of Pompion for the Mass Bay masses….I found I had rather a lot of sops of pompion left.

There are some things that can be re-heated and be just fine…but OTHER things need to be re-imagined to turn into something else altogether to eat.

Let’s start with the sops……..

Here’s the 17th century recipe for the sops…..

To butter Gourds, Pumpions, Cucumbers or Muskmelons.

Cut them into pieces, and pare and cleanse them; then have a boiling pan of water, and when it boils put in the pumpions, &c. with some salt, being boil’d, drain them well from the water, butter them, and serve them on sippets with pepper.

– 1675. Robert May, The Accomplist Cook,

RobertMayTheAccomplishtCookFrontispieceI’ve never tried this with gourds or cucumber or even muskmelons – only pumpkins.And my pompion/pumpkin/punkins  in this case were pre-peeled butternut squash from the grocery store.
In Austraila butternut squash is called butternut pumpkin...confused yet?

In Austraila butternut squash is called butternut pumpkin…confused yet?

I cut the pumpkin into smallish cubes, and dropped it into a pot of boiling, salted water. When it was tender I drained it.

Just like macaroni.

I toasted sliced Thirded Bread from Plimoth Plantation’s  Plimoth Bread Company. For the Boston event I carried both elements separately and finished the sops when I got there to Boston:

Put ample butter in a frying pan, add the cubed, boiled squash and saute until heated, golden and just starting to get a little not quite mushy, but most definitely soft. Spread the pumpkin and butter on the toasted bread – I cut each slice into halves or thirds to make it easy to eat as an appetizer.. Sprinkle the tops with fresh ground pepper. Easy. Serve. Great with beer.Or with soup. Once you have it, you’ll figure out how it fits into your life.

And then the leftovers ( a late 19th century term) …..otherwise known as the relics or the orts……to PrestoChangeo into

PUDDIN

  1. Take your pumpkin sops and eyeball them. You should roughly equal amounts of bread and pumpkin. There were some pears that were a few minutes past peak, so they got cut up and added to the mix. With a whole grain bread you’ll need to add a little more moisture. If you have an enriched type bread, not so much to worry.You can break the pieces up or keep them very large to be broken up in the serving.
  2. The liquid is going to be about equal to the mass of the bread and fruit (technically, pumpkin is a fruit, so is squash) so plan panage accordingly.
  3. The bottom half of a granite ware roasting pan was my choice

    The bottom half of a granite ware roasting pan was my choice. Any type of baking dish you can put in the oven will do.

    Butter the pan very well. Then butter it again even better. As Julia Child has said, “Add more  butter”. The butter keeps it from sticking and the butter will help the edges brown and crisp up nicely and just improve everything.

  4. Mix equal amounts of milk/cream and/or half and half with beaten eggs . We used 6 eggs, but four would be enough for a smaller amount. I’m thinking the ratio is 1:1:1:1 – bread:fruit:eggs:milk. If you have juicy fruit (peaches, say, not the gum) keep that in mind when sloshing in liquids. It’s very forgiving. A little longer in the oven helps dry it out.

    juicy-fruit-vintage-packaging

    Commercial Break!

  5. Mix the eggs and milk together with the bread and fruit. Now is the time to think about spicing…..if you don’t know how to pumpkin spice…….pumpkin pie spice
  6. Or you could go with something different….Ginger, cinnamon and some anise seeds are good. Nutmeg on top another good choice.  Or orange peel and fennel seeds…..
  7. Drizzle honey all across the top. Be generous, like the caramel on a sea salt caramel latte generous.
  8. This whole thing can sit while the oven heats up…helps every little thing to soak up and get it’s act together, working out the melody and the harmonies so it can stand up and sing when it time to serve it.
  9. Bake in a 350° oven until heated through and has crispy edges and a knife in the middle comes out dry and not dripping.
  10. Enjoy hot, warm or cold.

Now if you had Pumpkin Bread….you could also make a different Punkin Bread Pudding again…

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Filed under Autumn, Bread, Recipe

Spring!

Sorrel’s up – as sure a sign as any that Spring has finally Sprung – and at long last !

Rumex acetosa or garden sorrel

Rumex acetosa or garden sorrel

20. To butter Plaice vpon Sorrell sops.

Boyle your Plaice in faire water and Salt, and a fewe sweete Hearbes and Vinegar, then take them vp and dry them in a faire cloath, then dish them in sippets in the bottom of a dish then power vpon it a quarter of a pint of the yuce of Sorrell, and set it vpoon a chafindish of coales, and when you bee ready to serve it, poure vpon it a little butter drawne thicke with the yuce of Sorrell, then strowe grose Pepper and Salt, put sippets about it and serve it then to the table hotte, your sauce will looke very green and the fish east pleasant and short.

–         1621. John Murrell. A Delightfull daily exercise for Ladies and Gentlewomen. Falconwood Press: 1990. p. 38.

Plaice is a flat fish
sops are pieces of bread to sop up the juices
Yuce is juice
sippets are small sops – small pieces of bread – rather more like large croutons
Just a few leaves in a salad perks it right up, all spring and summer and fall long.
sorrel May Plimoth

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Cinnamon Rollin’

Christmas is when you need the familiar, the comfortable and the delicious.

Cinnamon rolls  to the rescue!

But not just ANY rolls, no, these are special rolls.

From an old family recipe  – from my son’s other side, in memory of Grandma B. Her family had put together a cookbook, so we had actual recipes to work with.

Everyone loved Grandma’s Cinnamon Rolls, so they are a sweet remembrance of her.

This is a Swedish Kanelbulle, which is the family of cinnamon rolls that Grandma had made. Notice that there is no icing. Believe you me, they don't need it!

This is a Swedish Kanelbulle, which is in the family of cinnamon rolls that Grandma had made. Notice that there is no icing. Believe you me, they don’t need it!

Cinnamon Rolls

All ingredients from white yeast bread

Cinnamon

Sugar

Butter

Follow all instructions for “White Yeast Bread” through the first paragraph.

Cut dough into 2 portions. Roll one into a rectangle and cut in half lengthwise. Combine sugar and cinnamon until it’s the color of cinnamon toast. Melt butter and add sugar mixture, keeping sugar wet but not too runny, Spread over dough not solid but not too sparsely. Cut into 1 inch strips. Roll and lay on the side in a greased pan. Be sure to leave pans that leave no extra space.   Cover the ½ of the dough and repeat, until all dough is gone. Allow to rise, covered, for one hour. Bake at 400° for approximately 30 minutes. Cover with foil if browning too fast. Top with butter after removing from oven.

White Yeast Bread

1 pkg. yeast  – I buy  yeast in bulk – by the jar or by the pound and store it in the freezer. I use a yeast measure spoon

Yeast Measure spoon - I got mine from King Arthur Flour. You can order a pound of yeast from them for less then the little bitty jar in the grocery store and do a whole lot more baking. I keep a pound of dry yeast in a 1 quart wide-mouth mason jar in the freezer.

Yeast Measure spoon – I got mine from King Arthur Flour. You can order a pound of yeast from them for less then the little bitty jar in the grocery store and do a whole lot more baking. I keep a pound of dry yeast in a 1 quart wide-mouth mason jar in the freezer.

¼ c. water

2 c. scalded milk (whole milk)

2 T. sugar

2 tsp. salt

1 T. shortening (we used butter)

6 c. flour (King Arthur Flour white)

Soften yeast in warm water (110°). Combine hot milk, sugar, salt and shortening. Cool to lukewarm. Stir in 2 cups flour; beat well. Add yeast; mix. ( add the rest of the flour) Shape into a ball; place in a greased bowl and turn over, cover; let rise about 1 ½ hours. Punch down. Let rise another 45 minutes.

Cut dough into 2 portions. Shape each into a ball and let rise for 10 minutes. Shape into loaves and put into greased loaf pans. Allow to rise 1 hour. Bake at 400° for approximately 35 minutes. Cover with foil if browning too fast. Top with butter after removing from oven. Makes 2 loaves.

Am Moak, p. 29. family cookbook

More notes from 2014 – what we did (more or less)

  • Figured on a double double –we wanted 3 9×13 plus 2 9×9 – made 3 9×13 plus 3 9×9 AND 2 loaves of white bread plus buns for me …..
  • A double double is a whole lotta buns!
  • We figured a double as 2 9×13 trays
  • Used the paper baking pans…..they were firmer then the disposable aluminum and they had lids, making them great for transport.  And no washing up or worrying about getting them back.
  • Dark brown sugar – light brown would have worked, too.
  • Lots of butter
  • 1 loaf = 1 9×13 or 2 9” pans (we thought)
  • We also made 2 loaves because rolls seemed to go on forever.

23 Dec 2014

1 pm begin – 5:15 is wrap – he took home one large and 2 small trays as well as 2 loaves white bread; I have the 2 large and 1 small tray to take to Pembroke.

Heat 4 C milk

12 C flour

2 packet yeast (the magic yeast spoon) w/ ½ C water

4 T sugar

4 t salt

Mix together. Knead until smooth. Let raise 2 hrs

2 ½ sticks butter, melted

  • 2 # brown sugar
  • 2C white sugar 2 oz cinnamon a little rum

for a double

We did this twice; the second time, with the wicked cheap $1.29 a 2 ½ oz bottle of cinnamon was better – either we’ve grown accustomed to cassia or it just works better with fat and alcohol.

There was a little left over for my own Xmas morning buns.

Notes on the paper pans – they caught fire – but just a little. Everyone was very calm and just put the little fire out. I’m currently in the market for nonstick 9x13s that have covers. Problem solved.

paper baking pans - don't let them touch the sides of the oven. It said don't use over 425 and we didn't. I keep them in the 350 range. Should I ever use them again. Probably NOT.

Paper baking pans – don’t let them touch the sides of the oven. It said don’t use over 425 and we didn’t. I would keep them in the 350 range. Should I ever use them again. Probably NOT.

Rollin’ in a River of Cinnamon Love

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I’m strong to the FINNISH Cause I eats my Spinnage

I’m Sarah the  Pilgrim Woman! Ta-da!

Hey, if it rhymes for Popeye it can rhyme for me! (Popeye rhymes ‘finnach’ with ‘spinach’ – same deal, different dialect) popeye w spinach

And by the Finnish….I mean actual people from Finland.

These guys…

American Food Battle

Henri Alen and Nicolas Thielon from American Food Battle

Nicolas loved his pilgrim clothes….he thought he looked like a Musketeer, as in Three. And, The Three Musketeers did take place in 1627. In France and not New England, but still,

Nicolas could jump right in with the 1974 Three Musketeers crowd

Nicolas could jump right in with the 1974 Three Musketeers crowd, right in between Michael York and Richard Chamberlain

And, spinnage or spinach, was one of the dishes I prepared. It looked like this:

Spinach with eggs; German School, 17th century. Notice also r0asted quails

Spinach with eggs; German School, 17th century. Notice also r0asted quails

Divers Sallets boyled.
Parboile Spinage, and chop it fine, with the edges of two hard Trenchers upon a boord, or the backs of two Choppin-knives; then set upon a Chafingdish of Coales with Butter and vinegar. Season it with Sugar and a few parboyld Currans. Then cut hard Egges into quarters to garnish it withal, and serve it upon Sippets. So you may serve Burrage, Buglosse, Endiffe, Suckory, Coleflowers, Sorrell, Marigold-leaves,Wintercresses, Leekes boyled Onions, Sporragus, Rocket, Alexanders. Perboyle them and season them all alike: whether it be with Oyle and Vinenegar, or Butter and Vinegar, Sinamon, Ginger, Sugar, and Butter: Egges are necessary, or at least very good for all boyld Sallets.”
-1615. John Murrell. A Newe Booke of Cookerie. Falconwood ed. p. 15.

Quick run through for this Wicked Wayback Wednesday

  • Spinage is, natch, spinach
  • These trenchers are a kind of a knife, as are the Choppin knives – when I first saw this I thought they were Chopin Knives , and I was pretty sure that Chopin wasn’t around in 1615…
    Frederick Chopin, 1835 at age 25

    Frederic Chopin, 1835 at age 25 – nope, he wasn’t around in the 17th century

    Anyhow, chop spinach. Because of what happens next, even better, start with frozen chopped spinach and save yourself the trouble. When it’s cooked, drain the spinach. In fact, put it on an old clean towel and wring it out over a sink. Seriously. Squeeze that moisture out. I added 1/2 pound fresh sorrel to the almost 2 pounds of spinach as it was almost cooked down.  Sorrel doesn’t need much cooking and it really perks up spinach. The New York Times has this story on sorrel in the spring. (click on the link ) I’m going to try keeping some indoors this winter…..more on that later…. and I’ve never had trouble keeping sorrel all summer and into the Fall. Keep using it!

    Sorrel - Rumex acetosa. Oseille in French; suolaheinä in Finnish; acetosa in Italian

    Sorrel – Rumex acetosa. Oseille in French; suolaheinä in Finnish; acetosa in Italian

  • Put some butter in a heavy pan. By some, I mean a lot…Add the drained, wrung  out chopped spinach/sorrel mass. Put more butter on top. Over low heat, let the green stew up in butter and what’s left of its own juices.
  • Add currants – not the fresh ones, the dried ones. Parboil them first (just put boiling water over them for a few minutes – dried fruit is not as dried as it used to be. And that’s a change in the last 30 years, not the last 400). Raisins are really too big – currants are much nicer in this.

    Raisins V. Currants . Sometimes, Size matters.

    Raisins V. Currants . Sometimes, size DOES matter.

  • Add a splash of vinegar. How much depends on how much and how lip puckering your sorrel is, if you’ve added any. Add a little more butter on top, put the lid on the pan and keep it on low heat, stirring it about every now and again so nothing sticks to the bottom and all the spinach soaks up all the butter. Add more butter if it seems dry. Don’t be afraid of butter!
  • Hard boil some eggs. You’ve got time. Keep the green a-stewing.
  • What? No spinach? No worries – use borage, bugloss, endive, chicory,cauliflower, sorrel, calendula leaves , cresses, leeks, onions, asparagus (let me note here that in my opinion it is a crime against Nature to puree asparagus) rocket or arugala, and alexanders . This recipe is a master recipe – a whole class of salad, for all seasons of the year, covered.
    Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) are a kind of wild celery, still found in the English countryside

    Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) are a kind of wild celery, still found in the English countryside

     

  • Taste and season with cinnamon, ginger, sugar, vinegar and butter – all to your taste. Make it taste good. Your opinion counts!
  • Pile up on a serving platter and garnish with those hard boiled eggs, quartered. Serve hot, or warm, or at room temperature. What the painting doesn’t show is sippets – slices  of bread toasted or fried in butter. You knew there’d be more butter, right?

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Filed under Autumn, Recipe, The 17th century, TV shows

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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Filed under Influencers, Perception ways, Recipe, The 1980's