Monday, December 19, 2011

Butternut Squash Gratin with Blue Cheese and Sage

Welcome to guest blogger Laura Lane!  Laura and I had this dish at a new restaurant in Galesburg where the all items are made from local food.  We both loved the squash, and when we complimented the chef, he told us enough about it (including that he found the base recipe online) that we could duplicate it at home.  Laura did the research and offered to share the recipe—it's really good.  Thanks, Laura!

Penny and I tasted this wonderful dish at En Season Cafe. With advice from Chef Bart and an online recipe, I experimented.  This is easy to make; peeling the squash is easy with a sharp peeler! Great side dish, although Rich and I enjoyed it as a main dish, along with salad and bread. You could get by with 1 T. sage, but we like a little more.  And 1/2 cup of blue cheese would be more subtle--we like the strong flavors so went with 2/3 cup. Worked beautifully.  And I hope you like it as well as we did!

Butternut Squash Gratin with Blue Cheese and Sage
from Laura Lane, adapted from via En Season Café
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed (3/4-inch) (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1-1/2 T. chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 T butter (optional)
  • 1/2-2/3 c. crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 c. Panko bread crumbs
1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Steam butternut squash, covered, 10-12 minutes or until tender. [PSG:  This took me about 20 minutes; maybe my steamer isn't the best. . .]
3. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onion 5 minutes or until tender. In a large bowl, mix onion, butternut squash, chopped sage, salt, and black pepper to bowl, and toss gently. Spoon into 13 x 9 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Dot with butter. Sprinkle crumbled blue cheese evenly over squash mixture, and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of cheese. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is melted and crumbs are golden brown.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

I'll be having Thanksgiving at someone else's home next week.  Since I don't have to cook the main meal, I'm freed up to make a dessert that is more complicated than I would otherwise do--the pumpkin chiffon pie that was the crowning glory of my mother's Thanksgiving table.  This is a cut above the usual pumpkin pie!

Ruth Glick's Coconut Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
from Helen Gold, Penny's mom

1 envelope gelatin, softened in 1/4 cup cold water

1-1/4 c. mashed cooked pumpkin (canned is OK)
3/4 c. evaporated milk
1/2 c. water
2 jumbo (or 3 medium) egg yolks, slightly beaten (save egg whites)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ginger

1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
3/4 c. (plus a little more) toasted coconut (to toast: spread in shallow pan and bake at 305 for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently so that it browns evenly; watch out as it browns quickly)
pie shell (graham cracker or regular—either is fine)
whipped cream
1.     Bake  pie shell.
2.     Soften gelatin in water.
3.     Combine the next set of ingredients (pumpkin through ginger) and cook over boiling water for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.  Stir in softened gelatin until dissolved.  Chill until slightly thickened.
4.     Beat the 2 or 3 egg whites until frothy.  Add 1/4 cup brown sugar and continue beating until stiff.  Fold into pumpkin mixture with 1/2 t. vanilla and 3/4 c. toasted coconut.  Turn into baked pie shell.  Chill until firm. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Roasted tomatoes

Warmer temperatures have lingered here, and I just recently stripped my tomato plants of all the partly-ripe and green tomatoes that remained.  I left them in a paper bag for a while, so about half ripened.  I've made roasted tomatoes for a couple of years now, introduced to the recipe by my friend Natania, but I hadn't tried using green tomatoes as well as red.  Great way to use up the green tomatoes, and a LOT easier than make fried green tomatoes.  I have not put in amounts for the ingredients as there is no need to be exact with this.

adapted from Mediterranean Light

  • a baking sheet or two full of Roma (or other) tomatoes, cut in half horizontally; can also be done in smaller amounts
  • olive oil spray (or regular olive oil)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • minced garlic (or garlic powder if you're in a hurry)
  • fresh basil or parsley (or dried if you don't have fresh)
Heat oven to 325.  Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with oil.   Put tomatoes on baking sheet, cut sides up.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add garlic and herbs.  Spray with olive oil (or drizzle with oil).

Bake for 2-3 hours, until tomatoes collapse and begin to carmelize.  Serve hot or at room temperature.
These are so tasty and so easy to make that I alwyas bake at least a whole baking sheet full, sometimes two, and freeze what we don't eat.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Greek Eggplant salad

I made this recently to bring to a potluck, and it was a big hit. The original recipe called for turning the eggplant under the broiler until the skin blackens. I took the easier route of baking it in the oven, and it was just fine!

adapted from Jane Brody's Good Food Book
4 servings (doubles easily)

1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb.), sliced 1/4" thick (skin left on)
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1 green pepper, cut in half
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 small onion, grated (or chopped very fine in a food processor)

1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
3 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. olive oil

minced fresh parsley for garnish

1.  Preheat oven to 375.  Spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray.
2.  Put eggplant slices and halved green pepper on baking sheet.  Bake for 35 minutes, until tender.
3.  Chop the eggplant and the pepper and put in a medium bowl.  Add the tomato, onion, and garlic.
4.  In a small bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients: salt, pepper, vinegar, oil.  Pour the dressing over the eggplant mixture, and combine thoroughly.  Chill the salad well.  Serve sprinkled with parsley.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Apple strudel

I was looking for a light dessert to serve with the meal just before the beginning of the fast for Yom Kippur, and it also had to be something fairly quick and easy to put together, as I had about 2-1/2 hours after I could leave work on Friday to make the main course and the dessert. The version I made combines two recipes--the filling from Jane Brody and the pastry and method from Moosewood. Most strudel recipes call for bread crumbs sprinkled on the dough, but the almond cookies included in the Moosewood recipe are a really nice touch. If you have any strudel left over, store it in the refrigerator. It is also delicious cold.

adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites and Jane Brody's Good Food Gourmet,
makes enough for 2 rolls, serves 8

2 lbs. apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. finely chopped nuts (e.g., hazelnuts) (optional)
1/2 cup raisins
1 t. cinnamon
2 T. grated lemon rind (2-3 lemons)

6 T. butter, melted (or can use spray vegetable oil)
6 T. crushed almond cookies (e.g., amaretti, almonette, etc.) (approximate amount)
12 sheet filo [phyllo] dough (less than 1/2 of one package—in freezer section of grocery store)

Preheat the oven to 375.

To make the filling:
In a large bowl, combine all the filling ingredients. Set the bowl aside. (This will make somewhat more than you need for the two rolls of strudel. The leftover is nice to eat just on its own.)

To assemble the roll:
1. Lightly oil or spray a baking sheet, and have at hand the melted butter, crushed cookies, and a pastry brush or paintbrush. You'll want to work quickly in a draft-free place, as the filo becomes brittle once exposed to air.

2. Unfold the stack of filo sheets next to the baking sheet. Take two sheets at once from the stack, and, in one smooth motion, lift them and lay them flat on the baking sheet. Lightly brush the top sheet with the melted butter and sprinkle it with about 1 T. of cookie crumbs. Repeat this for two more layers, until six sheets of the filo and half the cookie crumbs are used. Cover the remaining filo sheets with a dish towel.

3. Spoon the filling onto the filo in a somewhat thick layer, leaving about 2" of the filo uncovered on all four sides. Fold the shorter bottom and top edges toward the center. Then, starting at one of the long sides, toll up the filo like a jelly roll, ending with the seam side down. Place the strudel on the baking tray and brush it with butter.

4. Repeat to make the second roll.

5. Bake for about 30 minutes until hot and golden

6. Cool for 5 minutes, cut each roll crosswise into four slices, and serve.

Also good served with ice cream.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Honeycrisp apples

No recipes this time, just a plug for Honeycrisp apples, which are now back in the store. This variety of apple was developed relatively recently, and supplies are still small enough that there is not enough to be sold throughout the year. I manage with Fuji, Red Delicious, and Granny Smith for the months they're not around, but nothing is better than Honeycrisp for being just what the name says--both sweet and crisp. Thanks to my friend Mary Beth, who suggested a couple of years ago that I try one that she had in her fruit bowl. . .

Well, I'll include one other food-related event. After eating curry the other day, I noticed a small orange-yellow stain on my best white blouse. I tried getting it out with soap and water, but I only succeeded in having the yellow migrate to other parts of the blouse. Bummer! I assumed the blouse was done for, but decided to take a look in a book I turn to from time to time: How to Clean Everything. I looked up turmeric, and got the answer--soak in ammonia. Not something I'd ever had recourse to, but it worked! I notice this book is selling for $.01 (plus shipping) on Amazon. There's also a more recent edition, that's going for $1.29.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Baked Alaska

This post is off the beaten path of my usual type of recipes. This summer, I was e-mailing with a friend about getting together for dinner, and in the course of the exchange, she used the phrase "Baked Alaska" as a kind of exclamation. I thought yes, I'll make Baked Alaska for the meal, which was for a special occasion. I had had Baked Alaska only once in my life, some fifty years ago. When I was about twelve years old, one mother made dinner for a gathering of her daughter's friends. At the end of the meal, she brought out a Baked Alaska. I had never heard of or seen such a thing--it was quite wonderful. The warm baked meringue on top with the surprise of cold ice cream and cake inside. I never thought to make it myself, but now I was committed! Turns out it's quite simple to make--the most difficult part was reading through various recipes and combining them into something that would work for me. So, if you are ever so moved, here's my version.


(recipe adapted from The Settlement Cook Book, Fanny Farmer, Joy of Cooking, and Martha Stewart--see how much research I'm saving you!)

about 2 quarts ice cream (all one flavor or two)
8" round sponge cake (recipe below)
meringue (recipe below)

A day or two ahead: Leave the ice cream out to soften a bit. Select a bowl that holds about 2 quarts, but, most important, a bowl whose rim is a little less than 8" in diameter, as you'll be inverting the ice cream on to the top of the 8" round sponge cake. Spray a 2-quart bowl with cooking spray and line with plastic. Pack ice cream firmly into the bowl--either all one flavor, or layered. Cover surface with plastic wrap and put in freezer. Freeze until ice cream is very hard--at least 2 hours.

On the day you'll be serving: Place sponge cake on the serving plate you'll be using. Remove ice cream from freezer and invert over the cake. Keep the plastic wrap on, and return to freezer.

Preheat oven to 500.

Shortly before you are going to serve the dessert, make the meringue. Remove plastic from the ice cream. Spoon the meringue over the ice cream, swirling with a spatula. Place in oven and bake until the meringue starts to turn brown, about 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately.

SPONGE CAKE (adapted from The Settlement Cook Book)
(enough for one 8" round layer)
1-1/2 t. baking powder
3/4 c. cake flour
2 eggs, separated
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
3/8 c. water

Preheat oven to 325. Sift baking powder with the flour. In a bowl, beat egg yolks until light and thick. Add sugar gradually and continue beating. Add vanilla, and then alternately add the flour and water. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks, and fold into the mixture. Bake in an ungreased 8" round pan until done, about 25 minutes. (For a full recipe, double this, the cooking time is 40-50 minutes. I forgot to write down how long this halved recipe took.) Let cool on a rack for 5 minutes, and then remove cake from pan.

MERINGUE (This makes more than you need)
4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 pinch cream of tartar
1/2 t. pure vanilla extract

Beat egg whites until light and frothy. Add cream of tartar. Continue beating until stiff enough to hold a peak. Gradually beat in sugar and beat until meringue is stiff and glossy.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Two more cold soups

Jan asked for the apricot-wine soup recipe too.  While I'm at it, I'll include the yoghurt soup recipe I like as well.

serves 5

I've always made the soup with the wine called for, but last week I made it without, because one of the people at the table could not have alcohol.  The soup was still wonderful!  I didn't change anything else--just left out the wine.

2/3 c. dried apricots
2/3 c. peeled, diced tart apple
1 c. water
12 oz.  mixture of apricot nectar & orange juice, about half each
1-1/4 c. apple juice
1/2 c. sour cream (light is fine)
2/3 c. chilled dry white wine (can be left out)
mint sprigs

Cook apricots and apple in water covered, until apricots are soft, adding more water if needed.  Purée in blender with the juices and sour cream.
Chill, add wine to taste, and serve with sprigs of mint.  (The mint is both for decoration and for the taste--very nice with the apricot flavor.)
adapted from Craig Claiborne, The New York Times Menu Cookbook
4-5 servings

1/2 cup raisins
3 cups yoghurt (non-fat is fine)
1/2 cup milk (I use skim)
1 hard-cooked egg, chopped (or 2 egg whites)
6 ice cubes
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup chopped scallions (about 3)
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 T. chopped parsley
1 T. chopped fresh dill or 1 t. dried dill

Soak the raisins in cold water for five minutes.
Place the yoghurt in a large mixing bowl and add the milk, egg, ice cubes, cucumber, scallions, salt and pepper.  Drain the raisins and add them to the yoghurt mixture.

Add one cup of cold water and mix well.  Chill for 2 or 3 hours.  Serve garnished with parsley and dill.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A cool soup for summer

I like making cold soups in summer, and I have a few favorites that I make each year (yogurt/cucumber, apricot/wine, gazpacho).  But today I happened to have extra buttermilk on hand (left over from making scones), and I noticed a recipe in a new cookbook I'd just purchased that would help me use it up.  This soup is great!  I was dubious about the base of buttermilk, which I've only used before in baking.  I'm a convert!  Actually, it's quite similar to yogurt, but with a bit of a tang.

adapted from Vegetarian Meals: Meatless Recipes Everyone Will Love (Good Housekeeping) (NY: Hearst Books, 2006) 
makes about 6 first-course servings

1-2 limes
1 qt. buttermilk (4 cups)
3 medium tomatoes (about 3/4 lb), seeded and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 seedless cucumber, chopped in 1/4" pieces (can leave skin on if thin)
1 ripe avocado, cut into 1/4" pieces
3/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. coarsely ground black pepper

Grate about 1 t. peel from the lime(s) and squeeze to get 2-3 T. juice.
In large bowl, combine peel and juice with the rest of the ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


There are versions of Picadillo from a number of countries; Wikipedia lists variations from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.  The version below is from one of my many WeightWatchers cookbooks, and is good either served over rice or rolled up in a tortilla.  Quick and easy to make, with simple ingredients.

6 servings
adapted from  WeightWatchers, In One Pot

1 T. vegetable oil
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. lean ground beef
1-1/2 c. canned crushed tomatoes
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup raisins, chopped
2 T. pitted green olives, chopped (with pimentos fine)
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. hot pepper sauce
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked rice

Heat the oil on medium heat and saute the pepper, onion and garlic.  Cook until the onion is golden, about 8 minutes.  Add the beef, breaking it up, and brown the meat, about 6 minues.

Stir in all the other ingredients except the rice.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 10 minutes.  Serve with rice.  Or instead of rice, heat up corn tortillas and use as a stuffing for those.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Forgotten Cookies

Passover is coming up, and so I'm baking these no-flour meringue-type cookies, always a big hit at our community seder.  They're so good that I make them at other times of the year too.  They're not low-cal, but they are fat-free.  They freeze well also.  The key thing to remember is that you have to plan ahead, because these have to stay in the oven (with temperature turned off) for at least 6 hours.

Forgotten Cookies (makes about 3 dozen)
(adapted from Zell J. Schulman Something Different for Passover, Triad Publishing Co., 1984)

2 egg whites
3/4 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
1 cup pecans, chopped into small pieces
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

(I usually make a double recipe—which still can fit on just two cookie sheets.)

Preheat oven to 350.  Line 2 cookie sheets with foil. (I use the Reynolds Release--non-stick foil.)

With electric mixer, beat egg whites until peaks begin to form.  Add sugar slowly (about 2 T. at a time).  Add vanilla and salt and beat until everything is very stiff and shiny.

Fold in pecans and chocolate chips.   Drop by rounded teaspoons onto the prepared cookie sheets. These cookies don’t spread when baking, so they can be placed quite close together;  I fit six in a row on my cookie sheets, and 7 rows.  Place in preheated oven.   Turn off the oven and "forget" the cookies until the next morning (or about 6 hours).  If they stick at all on the foil, run a sharp knife underneath.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Turkey Stew with Peppers and Mushrooms


[I've re-typed and reposted this, trying to fix the strange capitalization that the original post showed up in, but alas, something still is goofy.  Sorry!]  


I made this recipe this past weekend, and it was a big hit.  I had originally planned it as a somewhat-more-work-than-usual meal for just David and me, but I ended up doubling the recipe and making it as a meal for us and three dinner guests.  Usually when we have guests, I make something more "special," but I had my eye on this recipe.  It turned out to be a very satisfying dish, and the leftovers the next day were even better.


This recipe is lightly adapted from the Simply Recipes blog.  I was going to just send you directly to that website, but I did make a few small changes, and thought it would be easier for you if I incorporated them into the recipe rather than wrote them out separately.  I do recommend this blog by Elise Bauer:  In addition to the regular postings of recipes, there's a sidebar that lists recipes by type, and an index where you can look up either by ingredient or by name of recipe. 


Turkey Stew with Peppers and Mushroom

adapted from
serves 4
2 T. olive oil (divided 1 and 1)
1 large onion, cut in half and sliced
3 bell peppers of various colors, sliced thinly
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika or a few dashes cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika
1 1/2 to 2 pounds skinless, boneless turkey thigh or breast, cut into large chunks
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 14-ounce can of plum tomatoes with juice
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh or dried rosemary
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 t. cornstarch
3/4 cup plain yogurt

Heat 1 T. of olive oil on high heat in a large sauté pan. Add the onions and peppers and sauté them until they begin to soften and lightly brown. Add the sweet paprika, the hot paprika (or cayenne), and the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Remove the peppers, onions, and garlic from the pan and set aside.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over high heat. Add the mushrooms and the turkey to the pan. Sear the mushrooms and turkey over high heat, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes, until the turkey and mushrooms begin to brown. Reduce the heat to medium, return the peppers-and-onion mixture to the pan and mix well.

Squeeze the tomatoes to break them up, and add them with their juices to the pan, along with the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, rosemary and black pepper. Mix well, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Stir the cornstarch into the yogurt and add to stew. Cook over low heat (do not let simmer or boil), stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens a little.

Serve with white rice.  (Bauer recommends serving with rice, mashed potatoes, or polenta.  The first night I served it with mashed potatoes, and the second night with rice.  Rice wins!  I usually use brown rice when cooking, but white was very nice in this dish.) 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Comfort food--chicken/rice casserole

This is a standard at our house, a simple, plain dish that is easy to make and very comforting.  Kids love it, as do grown-ups.  From time to time I cook enough chicken or turkey so that I can make 2-cup packages of diced meat to put in the freezer.  I generally have the other ingredients always on hand, so this is a convenient fall-back dish.  This recipe comes from my husband David's mother, Dorothy Amor.  David grew up on an orchard, and the family raised chickens also.  Often a chicken was roasted for Sunday dinner, with leftovers lasting through the week, with their final appearance in this casserole.

serves 4

2 cups cooked, diced chicken or turkey (bite-size pieces)
1 cup (raw) white rice, cooked (you can substitute 3/4 c. brown rice, cooked)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray some oil on a casserole dish.  Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.  Put into the casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

French lentils

I don't know if I'm doing this recipe a favor by showing a photograph--it's not the prettiest dish.   But quite tasty, and different from the other lentil recipes I make (lentil soup and a lentil chile).  This is made with the small green French lentils, which hold their shape more than the regular brown ones do.  The recipe is adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That; I've halved the amount of olive oil, cut way back on the amount of salt, and increased the vinegar.  It's fine with the lower amount of oil--in fact, it could probably be reduced even further.

serves 4-6
1 T. plus 2 T. olive oil
1 leek, white and light green parts, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 carrots, scraped and 1/2-inch diced
1 t. minced garlic
1 cup French green Le Puy lentils
1 whole onion, peeled and stuck with 6 whole cloves
1 turnip, cut in half
1 t. unsalted butter
4 t. Dijon mustard
3 T. red wine vinegar
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. freshly ground pepper

Heat the 1 T. of oil in a sauté pan, add the leek and carrots, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute and set aside.

As the vegetables are cooking, place the lentils, 4 cups of water, the onion with cloves, and the turnip in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat, add the leek and carrots, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are almost tender.  Remove and discard the onion and turnip and drain the lentils.  Place them in a bowl and add the butter.

Whisk together the 2 T. of oil, mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Add to the lentils, stir well, and allow the lentils to cool until just warm, about 15 minutes.  (Also fine made ahead and re-heated.)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lamb Stew with Apricots and Almonds

In the fall, I purchased a half of a lamb from a person who raises lamb locally.  So, I have a freezer full of various cuts of lamb, and am enjoying making one meal a week from the lamb.  My favorite recipe so far is this lamb stew.

adapted from two recipes in
Claudia Roden, A Book of Middle Eastern Food

2 T. butter
1-2 onions, finely chopped
2 lb. lean lamb, cubed  (a little less is fine)
1/2 t. coriander
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. saffron (optional)
salt and black pepper
1/4 c. raisins
8 oz. dried apricots, halved
scant 1/4 c. ground almonds

Heat the butter in a large, heavy saucepan and fry the onion until soft and golden.  Add the meat and fry gently, turning the pieces to brown them all over.  Drain fat.  Season with coriander, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, saffron, salt, and pepper.  Add raisins and apricots and saute lightly.  Cover with water and simmer gently, covered, for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours, until the meat is very tender.  If the stew is still rather liquid by the end of the cooking time, reduce it by fast boiling.  Stir in ground almonds.

Serve over rice.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Meatball Soup

This recipe comes from a small booklet I hadn't looked at in years. The recipe gives instructions for making the meatballs, but I usually have a bag of frozen meatballs on hand from Market Day (a public school fund-raising program with high-quality frozen foods), so I use those. Even though I rarely use "convenience" food in recipes, I have to say that this soup is delicious, even though I used frozen green beans as well as the prepared meatballs.  It is easy to make and is great comfort food.  Makes a full meal with some good bread and a salad.

adapted from Cooking Classics, 1, 14 (1994)
serves 8
4 cups beef broth
8 oz cut-up tomatoes (fresh, canned, or stewed)
1 8-oz can pizza sauce
3/4 to 1 lb. prepared meatballs (look in the grocery's freezer case)
1 medium onion, diced
1 15-1/2 oz can kidney beans, drained
2 cups sliced cabbage
2 medium carrots, sliced thinly
10-oz package frozen Italian green beans (French-style also fine)

Heat broth, tomatoes, and pizza sauce in a 5-quart Dutch oven over high heat until boiling. Add meatballs, onion, beans, cabbage, and carrots. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes. Add green beans; simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes more.

(The original recipe called for 2 cups of water in the first step. I left it out by mistake. The soup turned out delicious, so I'm not sure I'd add it in, but if it seems too strong to you, this is why!)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Another great soup: Kale-Bean

This is a comforting soup.  I first had it in an Italian restaurant a couple of summers ago.  I was in New Jersey for the funeral of the mother of my friend Kay.  After the funeral, I went out for lunch with Kay's family, and I had a bowl of kale-bean soup.  It was not just delicious, but, after the emotion of the funeral, a soothing comfort.  When I came back home, I searched for similar recipes on the web, and I've been very happy with this one.  Everyone I have ever served this soup to has asked for the recipe.

Kale and Bean Soup
6+ servings
adapted from

1  T. olive or canola oil
6-8 garlic cloves (crushed or minced)
1  large onion, chopped
4  cups kale, chopped if fresh (1 bunch is plenty). You can use frozen 2 or 3 pkgs. or if canned use 2 to 3 cans) (I use fresh)
4  cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 (15-1/2 oz.) cans white beans (I use cannelini)
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes or 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes 
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. dried rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of chopped parsley

This is a great meatless soup, but you can also add sausage, chicken or stew beef (cook the meat first).

  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil, then add garlic and onion.
  2. Sauté these ingredients until soft.
  3. Add kale and sauté until wilted.
  4. Measure off 3 cups of broth and 2 cups of beans and add to the sautéed vegetables, along with the tomatoes, herbs, salt, and pepper; from the parsley, leave aside enough for a garnish at the end.  (See step 6 for what you do with the rest of the broth and beans.)  
  5. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Using a blender or food processor, mix the remaining beans and broth until smooth.  Mix into the soup (makes it thicker).  Add the cooked meat, if you're using it.
  7. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  8. Serve it up in bowls and garnish with parsley.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Best-Ever Winter Soup: Cabbage Soup

I make this soup at least once each winter.  One recipe makes a lot--enough for a couple of meals, and then some leftover to freeze.  I know the recipe from my mother, who got it from her mother.  It is a traditional eastern European soup; all my grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Russia.  Growing up, we would not have put sour cream in this soup, as it would not have been kosher to mix a dairy product with the meat.  With or without, the soup is very, very good--my all-time favorite soup.
about 10 generous servings

3 lbs. short ribs of beef (with bone in if available)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, chopped
2 large cans tomatoes: Drain off liquid, saving liquid from one can. Shred tomatoes with fingers.
3 quarts water+juice (juice from 1 can of tomatoes and water to make up the rest)
1 med-large head cabbage
1 lb. canned sauerkraut (14 oz. fine)
3 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar (or less)
2 T. flour
2 T. water
sour cream (optional)

Place meat in a deep pot (10 qt. is good size) with garlic, onions, water, and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, skimming any foam off the top.  Shred cabbage coarsely, discarding core.  Add to soup with salt and pepper.  Cook for 1 1/2 hours.  Add lemon juice and sugar.  Cook 30 minutes.  Mix flour and water to a smooth paste.  Thin with a little soup liquid and then and add to the soup pot, stirring constantly.  Add sauerkraut and cook until meat is tender.  Correct seasoning; you may want to add more salt, lemon, or sugar.
The soup may be served with a spoonful of sour cream.  Meat can be left on the bones, or taken off and cut in pieces.

This soup freezes well.  If freezing, take meat off bones and cut up.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Food cooked first when back from travelling

My husband David and I were away for almost a month, a trip to Hawaii and the Philippines.  The trip was great, and we had a lot of wonderful food.  But it was interesting to see what I felt compelled to cook as soon as possible after we got back home.  The first thing was artisan bread, from the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.  A loaf of this bread lasts us a few days, and I bake two loaves at once, putting one in the freezer.  So, baking just once a week, we have always have some bread from this book (or from their second book) on the counter.  It really is so easy to make.  And it is as good as any bread I've ever had, including when I lived in France.  My quality of life has improved, to have this bread so readily available.  My favorite recipes are the basic boule, rye bread, za'atar flat bread, pumpernickel bread, and, my super-favorite, pumpernickel with chopped dates and walnuts.   

The second book is Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day--all the recipes feature whole grain, and there's a chapter with gluten-free recipes.  There's a third book on the way, devoted to pizza and flatbreads.

The method they use for making the bread is very simple, but special to them.  It doesn't work to give you an adapted recipe from the book--you need to read their introductory chapter on the method--although watching one of the videos below will give you the idea below.  I borrowed the book from my public library and tried out a recipe or two before buying the book.  It is definitely worth the price!

Here are two short videos that show the authors making the bread:
And here's a video on the "healthy bread" version:
They also have a blog that has an archive of other video demonstrations:

The recipe is pretty foolproof.  On occasion I've forgotten to slash the top of the loaf and/or to put a pan of hot water in the oven, and the bread has still come out fine.

Note the video correction from the book:  bake on the middle shelf of the oven (no need to move from bottom to top), with a pre-heated pan for water on the bottom shelf.

If you want to do more of this, I suggest you invest in a baking stone (Target carries an inexpensive one) and a flat cookie sheet (to use like a pizza peel).  Or just two flat cookie sheets and forget the baking stone.