Tag Archives: Nika Hazelton

Birthday Cake!

Today is someone’s birthday….

Well, that’s true about every day, but today it’s someone close to me….

Jacob and me

and much, much taller then he was twenty five years ago!

I found the recipe I used for his fifth birthday, so it seemed time to use it again.

First, get out the trusty 9×13 pan

13x9-pan nordicware bake and store

one with a lid…and get to work.

Chocolate Birthday Cake

2 eggs

1 ½ cups firm packed brown sugar

2 oz (2 squares) unsweetened baking chocolate, melted

2 cups sifted cake flour (like I had a 5 year old and cake flour in the house at the same time – HA!)

1 t. baking soda

½ t. salt

¼ C white vinegar

¾ C milk

1 t vanilla extract

½ C butter, softened

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Have all the ingredients at room temp
  3. Butter and flour a 13x9x2-inch pan.*(I used a pan that has its own travel lid.)
  4. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt (the Drys)
  5. Separately, combine vinegar, milk and vanilla (the Wets)
  6. In a big, deep bowl beat together eggs, brown sugar and chocolate (3 minutes by hand – 1 minute with an electric Mixer)
  7. Into the big, deep add the drys and half the wets.
  8. Beat 3 minutes by hand and or 1 minute electric.
  9. Add the rest of the wets and beat for another minute.
  10. Pour into the prepared pan.
  11. Bake for 45 minutes or until it shrinks from the sides of the pan and tests done.
  12. Cool completely and frost.

*or 2 8-inch layer cake pans

– Adapted from ‘3-Minute Fudge Cake’ in Nika Hazelton. From Nika Hazelton’s Kitchen. Viking Penguin. 1985. p. 298.


And don’t forget the candles – and some matches….

Birthday-Cakecandles closeup

Happy Birthday!

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Filed under 1990's, Birthday, Cake, Holiday, Recipe, Summer

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


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


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

Homemade Pizza

In order to create order, there was a time when different days of the week had a different food…like Chili Wednesdays or Meatless Mondays, there were also Pizza Fridays.

Pizza also was a food I associated with being easy to make (and fun) because when we went to my Aunt’s there was almost always pizza, in a big baking sheet, on standby, should somehow we prove too famished to be able to wait for the incredible and enormous meal that was waiting for us. It was, after all, as much as an hour from our house to hers.

If you don’t happen to have dough on hand, pizza could take a while to have ready. Yeast takes a certain amount of time to grow and prosper; if you make it a head and freeze it, a frozen lump of dough needs to thaw before you can make a pizza from it, and if you forget to take it out of the freezer in the morning before you go to work, all you’ve got is a frozen lump of dough and not an actual pizza. And a hungry boy.

Don’t ask me how I know this.

Nika Hazelton to the rescue. I started reading Italian cookbooks in the ’70’s so I could learn to spell the names of the foods that I had been eating all my life.

I discovered that Italy had many of dialects, not just of accents, but also words and foods. Nika was one of the first authors I found. She also wrote VOLUMES. This will not be the last visit to Nika.

Nika Hazelton

Nika Hazelton

(Pizza Fatto in Casa)

1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup water
Olive oil
Toppings of your choice – you know what you want – don’t nibble it all before you make up the dough.
1. Preheat the oven at 450°.
2. Whisk or sift the flour, salt and baking powder together.
3. Combine the 3 tablespoons olive oil with the water and stir into the dry mixture until well mixed – this should take about a minute.
4. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead for another minute, until it is a ball.
5. Place the ball of dough in the middle of a greased baking sheet (or use a silpat) Pat the dough flat into a circle, starting in the center and working out. It should end up between about 1/8 inch thick in the middle and closer to ½ inch at the outer edges.
6. If the dough tears, just push more dough over it to close them up.
7. Brush olive oil at the edges of the circle.
8. Top with toppings
9. Put in the HOT oven for 10 – 15 minutes until the dough is browned and the toppings are melted and bubbly.
Makes 1 11-inch pizza.
Adapted from Nika Hazelton. The Regional Italian Kitchen. M. Evans and Company, Inc. New York: 1978. p. 162.

Regional Italian Kitchen

Regional Italian Kitchen

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Filed under Books, Influencers, Pizza