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I clipped two dessert recipes from the November 1982 issue of Chicago Magazine, “Best of Dines, Worst of Dines.” Four decades later, they are still in my recipe file. One is complex and very rich, while the other is true simplicity and light in both preparation time and calories. I further simplified the simple recipe to universal acclaim this past week. For Thanksgiving, I will prepare a cranberry relish, made from scratch, that is both flavorful and ridiculously healthy. I suspect I will also make cornbread muffins, relatively healthier than general-purpose flour breads. What tasty, tempting recipes have you enjoyed with Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts and parties?
When I first carried the two restaurant dessert recipes away from school in Chicago, I took the first occasion to wow home audiences. The first was a flourless chocolate cake, that requires a springform pan. This was gluten-free before gluten-free was a thing. The volume of the cake is created by six egg whites beaten stiff. The substance comes from finely chopped nuts. The chocolate is semisweet. For garnish, either dust with powdered sugar (perhaps with a pattern/stencil) or follow the original recipe for another level of chocolate ganache. If you like chocolate, if you really like chocolate, you will love this.
The other recipe, even in its original form, is far simpler, far quicker, and far lighter. Pears, poached, with fresh berries, reduced to a sauce over low heat, that is all. Now the details.
How about something different for Saint Patrick’s Day fare? There is plenty of corned beef hash with boiled cabbage and potatoes on offer at public eateries, ready to be washed down with green dyed light beer, or Guinness and Irish whiskey. This is the first holiday with many bars and restaurants fully open to celebrate since last March. This year, I’m trying other Irish fare: mackerel fish patties made with potatoes, served with fresh baked Irish soda bread. Cabbage will come in shredded as a bed for the fish cakes.
Mackerel is traditional Irish fare.
We all have a basic awareness of the deep connection between the Irish and potatoes, see Famine. You should also have a notion that an island nation has a strong sea fishing tradition. Think of Irish or Aran (Island) sweaters, knit originally to keep the fishermen warm on the cold Atlantic waves. You have that image in mind because these simple but elegant home spun sweaters caught the eye of Vogue editors in the late 1950s.
Is this to be the last true Labor Day? This year’s elections, formally ending on November 3, will answer the question. The United States is a nation with a deep, rich tradition of honoring honest labor and of workers and workers organizations standing up for their interests and their human dignity. It is not true […]
“What am I, chopped liver?” is an expression of uncertain origin. It seems to arise from a traditional European Jewish side dish. That suggests discounting or overlooking someone, as one might overlook or reach last for a side dish, after the entree. Chopped liver is certainly less prestigious than goose liver foie gras, although likely […]
Three cheers for the “Pasta Grannies” YouTube channel, and for the old ladies who show us how it’s done. It’s a really good look for social isolation, and for nourishing, filling meals during a time of trouble.
As someone who’s had a manual “pasta” machine for years, as well as the KitchenAid mixer attachment for the same (OMG, the lasagne made according to their recipe is out of this world), I find this refreshing, original, and fun. I do recommend the purchase of good pasta flour (sometimes available on Amazon), and following the directions as given.
And I’m a sucker for cookbooks. My favorites are the ones with personal touches, personal stories, and family recipes. In all of those veins, some of my “go-to” volumes are Nigella, Jennifer Brennan, Jamie Oliver, M.F.K Fisher, and Julia Child. In addition, when I’m visiting foreign climes, and if at all possible, I like to bring a local cookbook home with me. Here’s my rack. (Men of Ricochet, those of you whose minds live in the gutter, rise above!) Click to embiggen if you would like to read the spines. It’s the result of over half-a-century of collecting, and of occasional heartrending refinement, because I only have so much room:
Today I turned to the sunny side. Get a mask, or make one, we are told. So my mind went down two paths at once: looking up good DIY sewing tutorials on making your own mask (I can do basic machine sewing) and making lemon basil marmalade. Naturally. Quick research on DIY masks suggests that, […]
So, Ricochetti: What are you doing to eat your way through the CoronApocalypse? Here at Chez She, in the very armpit of Southwestern PA, we’re going big for soup, and have worked our way through beef vegetable, mushroom barley, and (most recently) chicken noodle. We’re too far from town for meal deliveries. I’m trying not to go into town myself if I can avoid it, and, anyway, most of the little places we do like to eat are closed because they’re small businesses and it’s become too complicated and expensive for them to stay open just for take-out.
Pennsylvania seems to be well on its way to the same draconian lifestyle restrictions as California (the list of what’s allowed and what isn’t can be found here**), and it’s a good thing I’ve got the world’s finest yarn stash and (at least) several hundred sets of knitting needles, otherwise, I’d be going stir-crazy by now.
It’s been unseasonably cold here at Chez She for the last week or so, most notably a couple of mornings ago when the thermometer on the North side of the house gleefully reported that it was 9F (-13C) outside when I crawled out of my nice warm bed. So I’ve broken out some of my tried-and-true Winter-Warm-Up recipes (the non-alcoholic ones, for now), and the fridge is full of chicken noodle soup, shepherd’s pie, and chili.
I love chili. And, thanks to my cast-iron stomach, I don’t have to drop the other shoe and follow that with “but chili doesn’t love me,” as so many unfortunates must. I like my chili hot, spicy, beany and with a hunk of warm cornbread on the side. Unfortunately, though, Mr. She doesn’t share my taste, on this matter at least. He dislikes beans. He doesn’t have a cast-iron stomach. And he has fond memories of the “chili” he ate growing up, a watery concoction of my mother-in-law’s, that had ground beef, chopped up onions, chopped up celery, and tomatoes. With elbow macaroni. When he thinks of chili, that’s what he thinks of. Nothing else will do.
Made in Grandma’s way, it’s not something I enjoy all that much. So I’m always on the lookout for a good beanless chili recipe with infinitely adjustable heat levels, and not too long ago, I found the perfect one. The original recipe is here. I’ve adjusted it a bit, and I make it like this:
Toad Hall is hosting a Halloween Party for the first time in several years. It was an annual tradition here, until I got bit by a tick in 2011 and went through eight years of chronic and acute illness, during which we only had one Halloween party. Feeling better this year than I have in […]
Kitchen confidential? Confidentially, around here it’s more like kitchen accidental. I’ve made “egg-drop cheesecake” to rescue eggs my kids smashed, “old salmon biscotti” to rescue a slab or so of salmon (and it was delicious!), and all sorts of meals to use up whatever we had. Eggplant is, if you know a few tricks, good […]
The topic for this week’s post was inspired by Ricochet member @janbear, and the following fine paragraph from her September 25 post about the media meltdown surrounding Donald Trump’s phone call with the President of Ukraine. (Whatever his name is. “Z” something. Just like me):
Why not speculate on a different hypothetical situation? “The whistleblower says the Ukrainian president gave President Trump his grandmother’s recipe for pierogi. If true, that would be cultural appropriation.” At least it’s creative. Much better than trying to strain bites of truth from the sewage of the Democrat media reports.
As many of you know, I’m a true-blue, green-card carrying Brit, married to a man of 100% Polish extraction. I grew up in West Africa, and have lived most of my life in the United States. Cooking is one of my many hobbies, and I’m good at it (or so I’ve been told); but, to quote Socrates,”the unexamined life is not worth living,” so I have spent the last twenty-four hours examining my recipe boxes (pictured), and finding them seriously problematic and disturbing.
On Labor Day morning, I made a quick trip to my local grocery store to grab a few ingredients for two celebrations. For the first celebration, at my VFW post, hot dogs were the base. I signed up to provide Asian slaw and cornbread muffins. For the second celebration, a pool party at friends’ house, I was committed to provide the Asian slaw as the veggie.
A bit more context:
Party 1. The VFW sign-up sheet resulted in:
To commemorate the 74th anniversary of V-J Day on August 15, herewith, a couple of family recipes for War Cake a more-or-less appetizing (de gustibus, and all that) sop to the sweet tooth of the war-weary denizens from the Old and New Worlds. One is from 1942 and was shared with me by a friend in the early 1970s, and the other we found handwritten on a slip of paper that fell out of my grandmother’s favorite cookbook when we were sorting out her stuff after she died. It and the paper it’s written on are of sufficient antiquity that it’s quite possible this one is from WWI. Our guess is that it was sent to Granny by the branch of the family that emigrated to British Columbia; hence its name, Canadian Cake (click to embiggen):
When it comes to chocolate, I’ve always been a Cadbury girl. At my childhood UK home, the cows in the field below our garden used to send their milk off to the Cadbury factory at Bournville near Birmingham, and whenever I took a bite of the lovely stuff, I used to wonder if any of “my” cows had contributed to it. Perhaps it tasted the better, for that reason alone.
Cadbury’s, and most modern, mass-produced chocolate, owes its existence to two processes developed in the early 19th-century by Dutch chocolate maker Casparus van Houten and his son Coenraad. They are ubiquitous enough that the industry has been divided into “Dutched” chocolate, and all the rest, ever since.
Coenraad van Houten’s process built upon his father’s discovery that the fat could be pressed out of cocoa beans, leaving a dry powder with greatly-improved storage potential (no rancidity, and much more shelf-stable), and which expanded the possible uses for the product. But Coenraad took it a step further, treating the chocolate with an alkaline and lowering its pH. The resulting product was milder in flavor, and delicious in both powder and a chocolate bar.
Well, Spring is making an effort, but today is gray, and cold and wet, and I think I’d like a good bowl of some sort of comfort food for dinner tonight. I vote for stew! Preview Open
I don’t really like olives all that much. But I adore the idea of olives. And olive groves. And the Mediterranean. The stories by Peter Mayle and Carol Drinkwater. The presence of olive trees, olive oil, olive wood, and of course “olive branches” in our mythological, literary and cultural traditions. And the history of an ancient industry that has survived, in many cases relatively unchanged, for thousands of years.
The idea of olives is so very different from my own chilly and pedestrian life at the moment. The idea of olives is beautiful, and soft and warm. (Important as I write this because, even on the third day of Spring, the view from my window is dreary, the wind is bitter cold, and nasty, little chippy bits of frozen something are falling from the sky.) So I’m thinking about temperate breezes from warmer climes, and the joys of olive farming.
Sorry about the music, approximately seven minutes:
Well, I couldn’t sleep. Woke up at about 4 AM and realized I hadn’t had much dinner last night, long story involving goats, dogs (Levi’s surgery went fine, thanks for asking) and preparations in the expectation of a sleet/ice/snow storm all day Thursday. (There’s already a glaze of ice on the porch steps, as I discovered when I stepped outside to put the dog out and measured my length on the ground immediately thereafter. Ouch). That was the point at which I abandoned the idea of a quick trip to the Giant Eagle to pick up some supplies before “things get bad.” They already are. Even with the weather.
So. Mother Hubbard’s cupboard isn’t quite bare, but there’s not much quick and easy to be found. I’ve always loved potato soup, though (good comfort food on a day like this), and I thought I’d see if I could make that work. Results are surprisingly and spectacularly delicious. Here’s the recipe, before I forget it. (Note that you could add other things. Celery springs to mind. But “springing” was the last thing the remaining two stalks of celery in my fridge were doing yesterday when I threw them in the compost. “Flopping” was more the order of the day. So, no celery for me, this time round.) But you could. Anyway, here we go:
QUICK (AND GOOD) POTATO SOUP
A day spent in the kitchen is a day well spent. I will never be as great a cook as my Mom was, but I do love to cook, and I manage to do a pretty good job. Even though I have a couple of bookcases full of recipe books, I still like to look at recipes on the internet to see if there is something new, or to get ideas for adding to old recipes. A couple of nights ago a recipe for a carrot, zucchini, and apple cake showed up in my Facebook time line, so I clicked on it.
After reading the recipe, I decided to look at the comments on the post (I should never do that). One gal said, “Just because it has veggies in it doesn’t mean it is good for you. Don’t make this.” And, another gal shrieked, “Flour and sugar will kill you!” (Emphasis added) Wow. I’ll bet the neighborhood potlucks with Debbie Downer and Morticia are a real hoot.