Subscribe

Get updates sent to you for free by RSS, or by email:

Archives

Currently Reading


Carolyn

Sara

Sara and me

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Erik Larson’s tome, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz. This book covers the “reign” of Winston Churchill during the height of WWII. You’ll learn so much more about him. About the war. About the inner workings of the British government, including political. I’m a great admirer of the late Mr. Churchill. One of my more recent trips to England I visited Chartwell, the family home and where Winston died. If you’ve never been there, do add it to your itinerary next time. Beautiful grounds, including the small studio he used to paint.

Ken Follett is one of my fav authors, and I pre-ordered his newest, The Evening and the Morning (Kingsbridge), which is a prequel to The Pillars of the Earth: A Novel (Kingsbridge), my all-time favorite book I’ve ever read. Time period: 975 to about 1007 or so. Give or take. It follows a poor, but eager and intelligent builder as he earns his trade. It’s about his loves. His failures. The families all around, and much about the ever-present church (and its leaders, some honest, many not). Could hardly put the book down. Love Follett’s style of writing.

Every so often I read a romance of some kind. Historical ones mostly. And most I don’t include them here. But one I liked a lot is The Secrets of Saffron Hall by Clare Marchant. It happens to be very inexpensive right now on amazon, on Kindle, in case you’re interested. It jumps from 1538 and to 2019. Having to do with a precious book, a Book of Hours, and what secrets it contains. The growing of saffron plays large here and both romance in Tudor times and a tenuous marriage in current time, but nearly all of it takes place at a Tudor castle. Loved the book.

The book Where the Blind Horse Sings: Love and Healing at an Animal Sanctuary shares the story of a number of animals brought to an animal sanctuary in the Catskills. If you’re an animal lover, you’ll enjoy the stories, each animal bringing more to the human-animal relationship than you might even guess. Profound stories of love of animals. Not a long book; I think I got it as a bargain book from bookbub.

The title caught my attention on this one: Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim by Sabeeha Rehman. She’s written her own autobiography, beginning when she was a young child in Pakistan, to her eventual settling in New York. It’s about the Muslim experience. Their beliefs, their customs and traditions, told in a very pleasing and informational way. She marries in American Pakistani Muslim (an arranged marriage) and it’s the story of everything. Nothing much is left out of the journey she made, and still makes. She became a kind of activist for her religion, trying to bring Muslim customs to integrate into American culture (not always an easy task). Her husband is a doctor; she a hospital administrator. Likely you’ll learn more than you thought about Muslims. Very well written. Enjoyed it very much.

Finished Chinn’s story, The English Wife. What a great read. Could hardly put it down. I’m reading 3-4 books a week these days, and am so happy when I have a book I can’t wait to get back to. Really the story is about two sisters. Partly in Norwich, England, then in Newfoundland. One there, one here. And some of it takes place during WWII in Norwich, and much of it Newfoundland, then, and more recent. I loved the part of the book that took place on 9/11 when flights were diverted to Newfoundland. Family secrets, family lies, much anger between the sisters. There’s romance. There’s war. There is love of family. Particularly I savored the descriptions of Newfoundland, mostly rock, if you’ve never been there. It’s a twisted tale, by that I mean the family secrets which become the undoing. It’s a bargain on amazon right now, as I write this.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. The story is all about Mary, her growing up, her scholarly pursuits, and then from the moment she meets Jesus as a young man. The story follows along to and beyond his death on the cross. In the time of Christ it was extremely uncommon for a man not to marry. It was almost unseemly. Fraught with suspicions, I’d suppose. Although scripture, as scripture, does not play a very strong part here, if you’ve read the Bible you’ll see many of the stories of Jesus’ life through Mary’s eyes. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. Her husband was a journalist, and his life was always in danger because he wrote the truth, and that was taking a risk. The story is about her escape, with harrowing chapters as she makes her way north from Acapulco, with various major detours, one step, or sometimes nothing more than a hair’s width ahead of the cartel minions trying to find her. I could NOT put this book down. The author is not Hispanic, and some have criticized her for that, but she did her research, and many authors write about places and people they are not. I have nothing but respect for her having told this story. You need to read this.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice, living in an English home which lacks much, leaps to agree to marry a visiting American. It was an escape for her. He is a man of some family wealth, and she travels from England to Kentucky, during the 1920s. Once settled into the family home, she discovers married life is not what she had expected. Affection is lacking, and she must share the home with her tyrannical father-in-law, the owner of mines in the deep mountains. And with the ghost of the deceased mother-in-law. The family cook won’t tolerate Alice’s help in the kitchen. Alice is terribly lonely and unhappy. The town doesn’t much like this English woman with her funny way of speaking. But then, she meets a woman who encourages her to join the Horseback Librarians. With trepidation, she begins traversing the remote hills, through unbelievable weather, to deliver old, battered and tattered books to the remote inhabitants of the area. She makes friends, wonderful, loving people from all walks of life. There is tremendous tension from the danger of the mines, the unions trying to get a foothold, plus the unraveling of her marriage, including the dreaded father-in-law who feels she should answer to him, behave as he wants. Uh, no. Alice goes her own route. Her new friends become her family, and, oh, what love. There has been much criticism of Moyes’ possible plagiarism of another book regarding the Horseback Librarians. I read the other book – but I didn’t feel remotely as intrigued by that story as I was by Moyes’ version. A feel good story, but it takes some while getting to that “feel good” part, nearly to the end.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat. It’s about Ellen. Her early years, under much hardship. About her teens, some of it as an orphan. Then a young adult, which includes marriage, a marriage blanc, which I didn’t understand until you learn the meaning. Then a child enters the picture, a child that will become a focus for the remainder of the book. Through the war, and beyond. I cried several times, as will you, I suspect. What’s a constant is the descriptions of the place, a town called Upton, near Southampton. About the hills and dales, the flora and fauna, the rain, the mud sometimes, the flooding sometimes. But throughout, it’s about neighbors caring for neighbors, and about love. A must read. Would make a really good book club read.

Jamie Ford has written another good one, Love and Other Consolation Prizes. Remember, he wrote The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Loved that book. This one takes on a rather ugly part of America’s past, when Chinese people were treated like trinkets. Ernest Young is such a boy, who ends up being a “prize” at an event, and with great angst, ends up as a kind of servant at a high-class bordello in Seattle. Yet, the women and girls there become HIS family. He is intelligent and learns many lessons. Eventually, when society women battle to close down such houses of ill repute, he leaves that life, with his wife. They have children. The bulk of the book is about the early years around the turn of the 20th century, then you pick up the threads nearing the end of his life, and his wife’s. There are any number of small mysteries, which unravel with a word here or there – you know that word foreshadowing? Really interesting read.

In between more literary novels, I bought a comedic memoir . . . Juliette Sobanet’s Meet Me in Paris. There’s the falling apart of a marriage (and divorce), but in the inbetween, she decides to take a trip (sans husband) around Europe to get her head straight. The kind of tour that would drive me crazy, but it was one night, maybe two at each major city. She knew no one, but soon enough bonds with  three other women. Then she has a chance-meeting of a young Frenchman who had been an exchange student in her home town. They’d lost touch, yet there were definitely sparks there, never realized. Some of the touristy stuff was trite, I must say, although the women do try to take in all the major sites, if only for a few minutes. There is plenty of humor. Some steamy stuff too as she meets up with the young man in another city. Apparently it’s a happy-ever-after story. Great literature it is not, but it was a fun romp, so to speak.

Recently finished Thomas Nelson’s The Hideaway. It seems like there are SO many novels out there about families finding, inheriting or otherwise going to an old house with memories. Especially ones on the water. With stories to tell. It’s a great way to introduce some light mystery to the telling of some other family story. In this case it’s Sara’s grandmother who was enigmatic in every way. And Sara inherits the run-down, ramshackle B&B on Mobile Bay. Cute story with lots of twists and turns.

Also just finished James Conroyd Martin’s Fortune’s Child: A Novel of Empress Theodora (Book 1 of 2). Theodora grew up the daughter of a circus performer, but then moved onto “the boards,” as acting was called back in Byzantine times (Constantinople, 6th century). She always had high expectations – she just “knew” she was going to accomplish great things. She was an occasional prostitute, a mistress, and then, behold, the son of Emperor Justin is mesmerized by her beauty, takes her on, and makes her his wife, amid much royal machinations. A young eunuch also plays large in the story too, a man hopelessly in love with Thea, but knows his love can never be returned or fulfilled. He becomes an historian to the Empress. Quite a story – much of it chronicles her early life and not a lot of it in Constantinople. But riveting story.

I’m doing SO much reading of late. Read this book in one day. The Glass Hotel: A novel by Emily St. John Mandel. Loosely based on the story of Bernie Madoff (Ponzi scheme), it tells a novelized version of a man with incredible power and charisma who gathers a group of willing partners. It’s about the people he cuckolded, and the people who took him down. At the beginning drugs come into play and I almost didn’t continue, but that was a very short section. Well worth reading. Lots to discuss if you’re looking for a book club read.

Once in awhile I read a poignant animal story, as you know if you’ve followed this sidebar for any length of time. Craig & Fred: A Marine, A Stray Dog, and How They Rescued Each Other by Craig Gross, tells the story of his military duty in Afghanistan, in a war zone. And how his unit befriended a dog, a stray, and how that dog really did become his lifeline.

Cara Wall’s new book, The Dearly Beloved: A Novel. It tells the story of two couples. The two husbands become co-pastors of a New York City church. The wives? Oh my, are they ever different. They don’t abide. The husbands try to get a grip on their jobs, pastoring, preaching, and keeping the wives happy.

Loved-loved Gregory Buford’s humorous memoir, Kept: An American Househusband in India. He aims to be a U.S. diplomat, takes the tests and fails. On a whim, his wife takes the test and is hired. Their first assignment: Chennai, India. They spent two years there, with his much-loved wife going off to do diplomatic duties (albeit at a low level – everyone must pay their dues at the beginning) and Greg is left at home to deal with the servants, the house, the beggars, the nanny, the construction next door, shopping, and also partly caring for their infant.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Shirley Ann Grau’s book, The Keepers of the House. Hmmm. Much to think about. [from an amazon review]: There is a reason it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1965. Seven generations of Howlands have lived on this rural Alabama plantation in good times and bad. It tells the story of this family from the time its patriarch settled the land in the early 1800s to the mid-20th century.

Marie Martin wrote Harbored Secrets. From amazon: In May of 1935, Blinny Platt’s homestead shack burns to the ground forever leaving her family asunder, scattering them like the embers flew on the Montana wind. She was only 8, sent away and in charge of her little sister. She could handle that because Platts take care of Platts. However, it is the hidden secrets of her parents smoldering beneath the charred remains that haunts Blinny until 1982.

Best book I’ve read recently. Not new. Called Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape. I stayed up all hours to keep reading. The book was written from the many journals and writing compiled by her children. Her name: Mary Ingles. And it chronicles her 1000-mile trek in treacherous weather and over uncharted ground. What an amazing woman, and what a story.

Alan Hlad has written quite a novel. From true life. The Long Flight Home. It tells the story based on family history, of the homing pigeons that were used in Britain during WWII that flew back and forth across the English Channel into German-occupied France. It’s a heartwarming story. Heart-wrenching sometimes. War is an awful thing no matter which side you’re on when it comes to how it affects everyday people. You’ll learn a lot about pigeons, but also about love. Great read.

Riveted to Katie Munnick’s novel The Heart Beats in Secret. It begins in Scotland in 1940. A woman, a single mother. A journey across the sea. Then her daughter’s story, and finally the granddaughter’s story, when she inherits her grandmother’s old cottage back in Scotland. Plenty of mother-daughter dysfunction. But it comes right in the end.

Sarah Vallance has written a book about her devastating brain injury. Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain. What a story. What a saga of her recovery. And how she did it. An open wide sharing of her angst, her anger, her journey. Well worth reading. If you have anyone who has suffered a brain injury, it would be wise reading.

Just love all of Amy Harmon’s books. This one is no exception. Where the Lost Wander: A Novel. A pioneer story of a young woman made a widow on the trail to the west. 1850s. As it was in life, tragedies occur. But there is caring and love too. Loved it.

Read Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers. After leaving her childhood home of Switzerland, young Marta Schneider dreams of one day owning a boardinghouse, until marriage and motherhood change her ambitions. Determined to give her family a better life, she vows to raise strong children. But her tough love is often misunderstood, especially by her oldest daughter, Hildemara Rose, creating repercussions that will echo for generations.

Esther Freud’s book The Sea House: A Novel is about a small village on England’s southern coast.  The book is about love found, love lost, love sometimes found again, sometimes not. About how fleeting it can be or seem.

Amor Towles’ book, Rules of Civility: A Novel was quite a read. It’s NYC, 1937. Twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent [Kon-TENT she iterates to many] is in a Greenwich Village jazz bar when a handsome banker happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society.

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien. What an adorable book. True story about Stacey’s 20 years with a feisty but lovable barn owl.

Loved The Wedding Officer: A Novel by Anthony Capella. It takes place in the middle of WWII in Naples. A young British officer, Captain James Gould, is sent to Naples to wade through the zilions of applications from soldiers to marry local Italian women (and presumably take them back to England when the war ends).

Reading behind Bars: A True Story of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian by Jill Grunenwald. So interesting. Jill is  young, with a newly minted degree in library science at a time when the economy was very slow. She accepts a position in a minimum security prison in Ohio.

The Walls of Lucca by Steve Physioc. A novel that takes place in between WWI and II about a weary Italian soldier.

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna. A novel about Croatia in the aftermath of their more recent wars.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

Having read all of Kristin Hannah’s books, I knew I’d read her latest too: Between Sisters: A Novel.  Two sisters, raised by the same mother but different fathers. At a young age a rift occurs and the sisters go their own way.

Just finished Matt McCarthy’s book The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year. It tells the true life story of his first year as an intern at a New York hospital.

Also read Karen Harper’s book The Royal Nanny: A Novel. The time frame is 1890s onward, at Sandringham, when Charlotte Bill (a real person) was hired by the Duke and Duchess of York, to care for their children.

Also read Roger Swindell’s Mendelevski’s Box. It’s an historical novel about the aftermath of WWII in impoverished Amsterdam.

Also read a very quirky non-fiction book: The Perfect Gentleman: The remarkable life of Dr. James Miranda Barry by June Rose. This is a biography about a person who lived in the mid-1800s. He was a surgeon; graduated from Edinburgh Medical School at the age of 14. Joined the British Army as a medical officer then sent off to South Africa and many other tropical outposts during his career.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. The premise of this book is different . . . a woman writer goes to Scotland to connect with her distant heritage.

Another great read, The Island of Sea Women: A Novel by Lisa See. It’s about Jeju Island off the coast of Korea where the island as a whole is matriarchal because the women were trained from a young age to deep dive, free dive, for mollusks. These women were the breadwinners. Husbands stayed home and cared for the babies. The island is real. The history is real.

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford. A novel about the early days of radio in London.

A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler. This book is a novel, but based on the life of Alva Smith Vanderbilt (Belmont). Her family was nearly destitute (and faking it) when a marriage was proposed for her with William Vanderbilt.  You see the inner life of Alva – her day to day busy work, charity work, visiting for afternoon tea, the undercurrent of society’s morals.

Also read In Falling Snow: A Novel, by Mary-Rose McColl. From amazon: Iris, a young Australian nurse, travels to France during World War I to bring home her fifteen-year-old brother, who ran away to enlist. 

Also couldn’t put down The Secret Wife by Gill Paul. A long story that begins in war-torn Russia. Cavalry officer Dmitri falls head over heels in love with one of the daughters of Tzar Nicholas.

Uncommon Woman. A book about Colonial America, but really the western frontier at that time, which is in western Pennsylvania.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. And then what happens to him as he grows up. Riveting.

Moloka’i: A Novel by Alan Brennert. A riveting book about the early days of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in Hawaii, and the stigma attached to the victims AND their families. It chronicles the story of a young woman, diagnosed almost as a child, and ostracized from her family, subsequently learning to live alone and remote.

House by the Fjord by Rosalind Laker. What a darling story. From amazon: A touching and atmospheric love story – When Anna Harvik travels to Norway in 1946 in order to visit the family of her late husband, the country is only just recovering from five cruel years of Nazi occupation.

Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde. This story, which takes place in a kind of Texas backwater, sets a town into an angry mess when two young boys, one white, one black, become friends, something most folks don’t like. At all. There’s a dog involved, the father of the black boy, the father of the white boy plus a woman who lives in the town and does her best to avoid people altogether. But they all get fused. Wonderful story.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. You might think what a stretch – what does an Indian (Native American) tribe have to do with the FBI. Read and you’ll find out. This is back in time, 50s I think, and a number of murders have taken place on the Osage Reservation. A wake up call, even for today.

Oh wow. Just finished reading David Guterson’s book, East of the Mountains. You know this author from his most well known book, Snow Falling on Cedars. I loved the Cedars book when I read it years ago, and assumed I’d like this other book (not new) as well. Have you learned to trust my judgment when I tell you, you HAVE to read a book? If I tell you the story line, I can already hear you thinking . . . oh no, I don’t want to read this kind of a book. Please trust me. You’ll come away from it being glad you did.

A fabulous read – Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest book, Have You Seen Luis Velez? Raymond, a youngster, an older teenager, who  lacks self-confidence and feels like an odd duck sometimes, reluctantly (at first) befriends an elderly woman in the apartment building where he lives with his mother and step-father. Sweet story.

Magic Hour: A Novel

Excellent Women

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) by Min Jin Lee. Everyone should read this one.

An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel by Tayari Jones. DIdn’t like it much, but others do.

Recently finished Sally Field’s memoir (autobiography) called In Pieces.

If you want grit, well, read Kristen Hannah’s newest book, The Great Alone: A Novel.

You’ve got to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book – Take Me With You. What a story.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

Scroll down to the bottom to view my Blogroll

Posted in Desserts, on November 24th, 2020.

peach_upside_down_cake

So easy, so tender. Have an iron skillet? Make this.

It’s been awhile back – mid October actually – when my grandson Vaughan was visiting me for 5 days, we went to my friend Cherrie’s house and had dinner with them.We stayed social-distanced the entire time. Bud made his wonderful gin ‘n tonics (using Fever Tree Light Tonic). So refreshing – it was a warm evening. We had a very hot summer in Southern California.

Cherrie isn’t much of a baker – she will tell anybody that. So I was surprised when she brought out dessert! I made meatloaf and a vegetable (a Brussels sprout dish I’ve shared here). Cherrie had an appetizer (plus the dessert). Vaughan got some very gingery ginger ale. And then we had this wonderful, light dessert. Cherrie served it with whipped cream. We brought some of it home and Vaughan couldn’t WAIT to have seconds. We had it with ice cream the next day.

Cherrie gave me the recipe. And Vaughan asked Cherrie if she’d send it to his mom, because he wanted to have it again once he got home. It was THAT good.

Since I didn’t make this myself – I will, however, as I have some white peaches frozen – I don’t have firsthand knowledge of the making of this, but I trust Cherrie when she said this is very easy to make. She had gorgeous peaches which are put on the bottom of the iron skillet, but on top of some melted butter and brown sugar. Then the white cake is made and spooned over the top. It’s baked and once removed from the oven and cooled for 10 minutes, you carefully flip over the hot pan (or iron skillet) onto a platter and serve it warm. You could make this ahead and simply reheat very gently in a low oven for about 10-15 minutes to get that wonderful warm-out-the-oven taste. The recipe came from Taste of Home. So the original recipe said, this is a very old recipe – I can just see it created from an old farm kitchen with peach trees in the back 40.

What’s GOOD: this is SO easy to make, so Cherrie said. And I can certainly attest to the taste (and so will my grandson Vaughan) – it’s not all that sweet (good) and the cake is VERY tender. I liked that part a lot. Cherrie suggested sifting the dry ingredients first.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Peach Upside Down Cake

Recipe By: Taste of Home
Serving Size: 8

PEACH LAYER:
4 tablespoons butter — softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups fresh peaches — sliced peeled
CAKE LAYER:
8 tablespoons butter — softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg — room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk — 2% works fine here

1. Melt butter; pour into an ungreased 9-in. round baking pan or iron skillet. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
2. Arrange peach slices in single layer over sugar.
3. In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt and sift once (helps to make the cake light in texture); add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Spoon over peaches.
4. Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting (carefully) onto a serving plate. Serve warm with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Per Serving: 391 Calories; 19g Fat (42.0% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 54g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 70mg Cholesterol; 285mg Sodium; 38g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 97mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 187mg Potassium; 135mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Pasta, Pork, on November 18th, 2020.

pasta_alla_gricia_plated

Ever had this one? The Italians haven’t quite determined which definition they agree on for the word “gricia,” other than it’s for this pasta dish.

Curious as to what gricia meant in Italian, I found out it was a dish created waaaay back in Roman times, 400AD, they think. The other day I was watching a Rachel Ray show and she prepared this. It just spoke to me – since I had radicchio; I had ample mushrooms, although not the type Rachel used. She used hen-of-the-woods – I had just ordinary white mushrooms. I had shallots. I had pancetta too. mushrooms_for_griciaShe talked about guanciale, the fatty sister to pancetta, but she prefers pancetta – mostly, she said, because her husband wants chunks of meaty bits in any pasta she makes. The original of this dish is just shallot – maybe garlic too – and the pork, either pancetta or the guanaciale – pepper, plus pasta, of course. That was it, but Rachel described several riffs she makes on this dish. I took the original recipe and added the radicchio and the lemon zest that she mentioned. I didn’t have any Pecorino, so had to use Parm. I also had leftover Capello’s almond flour pasta (linguine) and certainly wanted to use it, as it’s quite dear. My house smelled so wonderful – the shallot, the garlic, the pancetta plus EVOO.

First up was to roast the mushrooms. See photo above left. They took about 20 minutes in a very hot oven. They were dried out mostly, but still had some moisture inside. And what they did have was concentrated flavor.

gricia_cookingThen I started cooking the sauce. Well, not really much of the sauce part as the only liquid is a little bit of cooking water (from the pasta) added to this. The pancetta was added to a large skillet along with a bit of EVOO, and the pork was rendered down, but leaving the fat that came from it in the pan (for flavor). Then I added shallot and continued to cook that (I forgot to add it to the mushroom pan).

pasta_alla_gricia_pan_mixedThen the sliced radicchio and lemon strips were added and stirred often as it cooked. That really takes but a few minutes. I ladled out some of the pasta water and added that to the pan too. Some cheese is added in the pan when you add the pasta and that’s stirred well (which is why you want to undercook the pasta a little bit). Serve and add more lemon zest and grated cheese on top. I will mention that this dish is very rich. Probably from the pancetta – meaning it has a bit of fat, but that’s what gives it so much flavor. And, I think if you made the full recipe, it would serve more than 4 people.

What’s GOOD: Oh my. SO very delicious. I loved this dish. It’s big on flavor – mostly, I suppose, from the mushrooms, shallots and pancetta. Did I mention how fragrant my house smelled? I had to go out to run an errand immediately after I ate my dinner (leaving my kitchen still in a mess) and when I returned and walked through the door, oh golly did it smell good. This recipe is a keeper. It’s beautiful to look at too, with the dark purple from the radicchio, and the pasta, contrasted with the mushrooms and the bright yellow from lemon strips.

What’s NOT: I can’t think of anything. As I said, this one’s a keeper.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Pasta Alla Gricia

Recipe By: Rachel Ray, on her TV show, 9/20
Serving Size: 4 (maybe 5-6)

12 ounces mushrooms — hen-of-the-woods (maitake) pulled into thin strips, or any other type of mushrooms
2 large shallots — halved lengthwise, then peeled and very thinly sliced
Olive oil cooking spray
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 pound pancetta — or meaty guanciale
1 tbsp. EVOO
3 cups radicchio — sliced
3 tablespoons lemon rind — minutely sliced
1 pound spaghetti — or linguine
1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese — grated, or Parm

1. Arrange a rack in the upper third of the oven; preheat to 475°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Arrange the mushrooms and shallots on the baking sheet in a single layer. Spray evenly and liberally with the cooking spray and season generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the vegetables with the thyme. Roast, stirring halfway through cooking, until the mushrooms are crispy and fragrant, about 20 minutes.
2. Place the pancetta or guanciale in the freezer for 10 minutes. Once it’s firm, slice it into thin 1/2-inch-long pieces.
3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.
4. Heat a large skillet over medium low heat. Add the EVOO, one turn of the pan, then add the pancetta. Cook until the fat renders, about 10 minutes. Then add the radicchio and lemon zest and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, or until the radicchio is barely tender. Season with pepper and remove from the heat.
5. Salt the boiling water, add the pasta, and cook for a minute or two less than the package instructions. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
6. Add the pasta, half the cheese, and 3/4 cup pasta water to the skillet. Toss the pasta for a minute to coat, adding more pasta water if needed to thin the sauce. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and top with the remaining cheese, a pile of crispy mushrooms and shallots, and a little lemon zest.
Per Serving (yikes): 972 Calories; 42g Fat (38.8% calories from fat); 49g Protein; 99g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 78mg Cholesterol; 1172mg Sodium; 7g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 777mg Calcium; 6mg Iron; 1259mg Potassium; 868mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Cookies, Desserts, on November 14th, 2020.

gooey_fudge_brownies

A post from Sara . . .

This is my new go-to brownie recipe.  It’s a bit more challenging than the one-bowl recipes but well worth it.  They taste great out of oven (if my kids are home, I usually loose 1/4 of the tray within minutes of removing it from the oven!).  And soooo much better frozen.  They are the true dense, chewy chocolaty taste that I feel brownies should be. The recipe comes from the back of the Rodelle brand cocoa package. It’s been on the back of their product for years and years.

The recipe requires the extra step of melting the butter with sugar to make a syrup.  Then the 5 (that’s right, 5) eggs makes the chewy (and tender) factor.  You can double this recipe easily and bake it in a large sheet pan.  Don’t skip the parchment paper on the bottom for easy removal. The recipe says it makes 12, but I think I cut them smaller, so I get about 18 out of the 9×13 pan.

I’ve been known to modify the recipe by adding these items:

1. melted smooth peanut butter and swirl it in

2. or dulce de leche and swirl it in

3. or stack it on top of a batch of my chocolate chip cookies in bar form.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Gooey Fudge Brownies from Rodelle

Recipe By: Rodelle’s famous recipe
Serving Size: 12 (or 18)

1 cup butter — PLUS 2 tbsp
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour — PLUS 1 tablespoon
3/4 cup cocoa powder — PLUS 1 tablespoon
1/4 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped nuts — (optional)

NOTE: If you cut smaller squares, you’ll get more than 12 brownies.
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Line 9×13 pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.
3. Melt butter and sugar in a heavy saucepan on very low heat. Let the mixture cool slightly and transfer to a large bowl. Add eggs gradually, mixing well. Add vanilla extract.
4. Sift dry ingredients together and add to egg mixture, stirring gently and minimally.
Add chocolate chips and nuts (if using). Pour into prepared pan and bake approximately 35 minutes – do NOT overbake or you’ll lose the fudgy, gooey texture!
5. Cool before cutting. Turn onto a surface and peel parchment paper off. Cut into squares. They are great frozen, just so you know.
Per Serving: 431 Calories; 25g Fat (48.6% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 118mg Cholesterol; 298mg Sodium; 42g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 35mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 200mg Potassium; 124mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Pasta, Vegetarian, on November 8th, 2020.

pasta_alla_vodka

Ever had vodka sauce over pasta? SO delicious.

Back last month when my grandson Vaughan was staying with me, he prepared an additional dinner. His signature dish. Can you imagine a 13-year old having his own “signature dish?” He’s prepared it for many sections of the family, and to family friends too. I’d not been there on any of those occasions, so he offered to make it for the two of us. He asked if I had any sausage to serve along with it – I did. You can see the Italian sausage coins in the back side of the plate above. It was not cooked with the sauce, but provided some protein for the meal.

He prepared the sauce. I had a box of Capello’s almond pasta (which is the best non-wheat pasta I’ve had) in the freezer, so I used it (in photo above). I didn’t use all the pasta, so had enough to make a second pasta dish (up soon), a Rachel Ray dish with pancetta and radicchio. Vaughan really prefers rigatoni with this (because the large tubes will hold a lot more sauce per bite); I didn’t have any, so we used penne for his.

vaughan_making_pasta_vodka_sauceAnyway, what I will say is that my kitchen was a big mess when we got done. Vaughan did the sauce; I cooked both of the pastas and prepared the Italian sausage. We had 4 burners going (because my pasta needed to be cooked separately from the penne). Today I discovered a splatter of vodka sauce on a container somewhat near the kitchen range – I hadn’t noticed it at the time. That sauce went everywhere.

There’s Vaughan at left – he was grating Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. I suggested to him that we get everything out and ready, so when he started making the sauce, we’d be prepared to serve when it was done. The recipe calls for a shallot, garlic, tomato paste (not tomato sauce), red pepper flakes, cream (not a lot) and the grated cheese. The sauce is prepared in a large skillet – and a warning – don’t stir too vigorously or you, too, will get sauce in various places near your stove.

vodka_sauceThe sauce comes together very quickly once you begin. First the shallot and garlic cook over a very low heat in butter (you do not want even golden browned garlic). If I were making this, I’d cook the shallot first and add the garlic during the last minute so there would be no chance of burning the garlic. Then you add the tomato paste, red pepper flakes and the vodka (only 2 T). At the last you add in the cream and some of the pasta water to thin out the sauce a little bit, and some Parm. The pasta is stirred into the sauce on the stove, but off heat (NOT poured on top on your plate), and when you serve it, add more Parm on top and if you think of it, sprinkle a few basil leaves for garnish. I had some, but didn’t realize the recipe called for it.

The sauce takes little time – Vaughan was very diligent keeping the sauce stirred frequently. That’s a ceramic pan, so nothing stuck to it at all. Thank you, Vaughan, for making dinner! So delicious!

What’s GOOD: such a flavorful sauce. The tomato paste gives it lots of character. Vaughan said he’s made it using tomato sauce and it’s definitely not as good. So be sure to use tomato paste.

What’s NOT: nothing at all. Fabulous pasta sauce.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Pasta alla Vodka

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Delish
Serving Size: 4

3 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot — minced
2 cloves garlic — minced
1/2 cup tomato paste — do not use tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons vodka
kosher salt
1 pound pasta — such as penne or rigatoni
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons basil — torn, for garnish

NOTE: It’s important to save the pasta cooking water as some of it is used in the sauce.
1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until paste has coated shallots and garlic and is beginning to darken, 5 minutes.
2. Add vodka to pot and stir to incorporate, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Turn off heat.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 2 cups of pasta water before draining.
4. Return sauce to medium heat and add 1/4 cup of pasta water and heavy cream, stirring to combine. Add half the Parmesan and stir until melted. Turn off heat and stir in cooked pasta. Fold in remaining Parmesan, adding more pasta water (about a tablespoon at a time) if the sauce is looking dry. Season with salt if needed. Serve topped with more Parmesan and torn basil leaves.
Per Serving: 647 Calories; 21g Fat (30.3% calories from fat); 17g Protein; 93g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 57mg Cholesterol; 105mg Sodium; 8g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 64mg Calcium; 5mg Iron; 637mg Potassium; 266mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salad Dressings, Salads, on November 3rd, 2020.

spinach_cabbage_herb_slaw

What a super salad! Perfect for a barbecue. It’s kind of a mixture between a green (spinach) salad and a cabbage (slaw) salad. Note the cashews, halved red grapes and the grilled pineapple on top?

A couple of weeks ago my son and his wife invited me to their house for a Saturday dinner. Powell was smoking a whole beef brisket. I didn’t want to miss out on that. The last time he prepared a smoked brisket, Karen sent me home with a big chunk of the brisket and I made a recipe that’s a favorite in her family (and now for me, too) for Smoked Brisket Chili. Oh my goodness was that something special. So I made this salad to go along with the meal.

The recipe came from a cooking class more than 2 years ago with Phillis Carey. I don’t know why I hadn’t posted it before – for whatever reason I didn’t have a picture of this salad from back then. I’ve modified the recipe just a tad – I didn’t have bean sprouts (none at the market when I shopped), didn’t have green onions, either, because I forgot to buy them. Everything else I had – and since I’d purchased a big, beautiful fresh pineapple, I grilled it (stovetop) and chopped up some of it in the salad, and most of it we had as dessert.

I made the dressing the night before (it’s easy as long as you have the oranges – – I used OJ concentrate, diluted correctly — and fresh limes). I used EVOO in the dressing, so it needs to sit out at room temp to warm up and homogenize correctly – otherwise the oil sits on top. Be sure to mix it well before pouring over the salad. I was a bit startled at how much the cashews cost – I think I bought about a cup of them from a bin-type dispenser, and they were nearly $4.00. Wow. Really? You could easily use almonds in this, or even peanuts. I expect they’d be cheaper than these dear cashews! The herbs are fresh mint and cilantro. Lots of both. And of course, the fresh spinach. I ended up adding a little bit more cabbage to this salad, so the recipe has been altered to change the little things I did differently. Everything can be prepared ahead of time, except for tossing it.

You don’t want to let this sit – the citrus juices will wilt the spinach and herbs – so if you happen to make a big portion of this – only put out in the salad bowl what you think you’ll eat, no left overs. The dressing amount makes more than you’ll need – but I’m happy to have some leftover dressing for a salad on another day. I won’t have any cashews or grilled pineapple, but everything else I do have on hand now.

What’s GOOD: everything about this salad was wonderful. My son said this was, by far, his most favorite slaw he’s ever had. Nearly everyone at the table had seconds, so I’m glad I made salad for 8 people (there were 6 of us). We ate it all.

What’s NOT: only that you might not have everything on hand to make this. You can eliminate the pineapple (it wasn’t in the original) but I really liked that addition.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Spinach, Cabbage and Fresh Herb Slaw with Spicy Ginger-Citrus Dressing

Recipe By: Adapted from Phillis Carey
Serving Size: 6

DRESSING: (makes about twice what is needed for the salad)
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup avocado oil — or grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons serrano chile — minced
4 teaspoons fresh ginger — minced
SLAW:
4 cups fresh spinach — shredded
4 cups cabbage — green type, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups red grapes — halved
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts — optional
1 cup sugar snap peas — julienned or snow peas
1 cup red onion — thinly sliced, acidulated
1/2 cup green onions — julienned
3 cups fresh pineapple — grilled, chopped (optional)
6 tablespoons fresh mint — chopped
6 tablespoons fresh cilantro — chopped
2/3 cup cashews — salted, toasted, for garnish

Note: How to acidulate onions: Soak red onion in cold water to cover with about a tablespoon of vinegar – soak for 10 minutes to take away the sharp, raw taste.
1. DRESSING: Whisk together orange juice, lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce and salt in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Whisk in oil or shake all in a jar. Stir in serrano chile and ginger. Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours.
2. SALAD: Mix all vegetables, grapes, pineapple and herbs in a large bowl. Toss with dressing and serve with cashews sprinkled on top. Serve immediately. This slaw won’t keep, so dress only the amount of salad you’ll eat at that meal.
Per Serving: 517 Calories; 30g Fat (49.1% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 61g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 142mg Sodium; 41g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 126mg Calcium; 5mg Iron; 905mg Potassium; 252mg Phosphorus.

Posted in easy, Soups, on October 29th, 2020.

IP_broccoli_cheese_soup

SO easy and quick.

While my grandson Vaughan was visiting with me, he was doing online school, and at about 11:15 one day I realized he was going to have his lunch break in exactly 10 minutes, and I hadn’t started the soup. Fortunately, the lunch break lasted for 35 minutes, and I was able to get this soup prepared in time. Whew.

I used an online recipe as a base, but I added different ingredients and quantities. I’d purchased a package of Velveeta about 2 weeks ago. It’s not something I really like to eat, but when a recipe calls for it, it’s usually necessary, as I didn’t want stringy cheese in this soup (like you would get with grated cheddar). There are a few cheeses that melt easily, like Fontina, for instance. And I had some of that, but it wasn’t going to give the same flavor as cheddar, so the Velveeta was the ticket.

My Instant Pot came out, and I sautéed an onion and some celery in butter. Then added the carrots, garlic and lastly the flour, which you need to stir around so it doesn’t lump when you add liquid. Stir frequently as it warms and thickens. Then add the broccoli, paprika and mustard. At this point, put on the lid and pressure cook for about 5 minutes on high. Quick release, stir the soup, then add the dairy. Start IP to sauté to heat the soup through, then you add the Velveeta, cut into big cubes. Stir it continuously until the cheese melts. Fortunately, all that took about 20 minutes, and I was able to serve Vaughan a bowl at his laptop and he was able to finish it on the stroke of class restarting. He was so cute – he muted himself and told me 3 times how good the soup was. I got quite a kick out of watching him over the course of his online school day. He got a couple of breaks, and he has 2-3 friends who play Minecraft, and they managed to play the game during the breaks, and at the exactly as class re-started, he was tuned back into school. One of his friends has a server, so they play together and also use their phones to talk at the same time. All kinds of multi-tasking.

You can add topping to this soup – grated cheddar, croutons, hot sauce, chives, crispy bacon. I didn’t have time, so straight soup was what we got.

What’s GOOD: loved the soup. Simple, straight forward, easy, and just good comfort food. I think the mustard adds a lot of flavor depth to this – if you didn’t know it was in there you might not be able to taste it, but because I knew, you can barely discern it. Now I need to buy another block of Velveeta so I can make this on the fly another day. Another plus, the fact that I could get this made in a matter of about 25 minutes.

What’s NOT: nothing, really. You can adjust quantities to suit your family’s taste. More broccoli, more carrots and celery, more onion? It’ll work. Add shallots instead of onion, no garlic. Whatever suits your fancy.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Instant Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from an online recipe
Serving Size: 5

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup carrots — diced
1/2 onion — chopped
1/2 cup celery — chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour — or gluten-free
3 cups low sodium chicken broth — or more if needed
2 cloves garlic — diced
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon spicy mustard
4 cups broccoli — cut into small florets and finely dice the stems
1 1/2 cups half and half — or use about 1/2 cup heavy cream (bring to room temperature)
8 ounces Velveeta — diced into cubes – or use cheddar

1. Start IP on Sauté setting and allow it to heat up slightly. Add butter and once melted, add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring a couple of times or until onion is softened.
2. While still hot, add flour and stir briskly for 30 seconds.
3. Add chicken broth in 2-3 batches stirring with a whisk so there are no lumps.
4. Add the seasonings and mustard, stir through and add the broccoli florets.
5. Close and seal the Instant Pot. Press Manual/Pressure Cook button and adjust the time to 5 minutes, and adjust to HIGH pressure.
6. Once the timer is done, use the Quick Release method to let the steam off and open the lid.
7. Stir the soup, then add cream (microwave it slightly if needed). Mix through and use a potato masher to roughly puree the cooked vegetables into the liquid.
8. The soup may be hot enough to serve without reheating. If you want the soup to be super-hot, press the Sauté function key again to bring soup back to a simmer. Immediately turn off once soup begins to simmer and add the cheese in 2-3 batches, stirring well until it’s fully melted and combined into the soup. Velveeta will sink to the bottom so stir thoroughly. If the soup is too thick for your liking, add a bit more chicken broth.
9. Serve with toppings of your choice, such as shredded cheddar, chopped broccoli, hot sauce, sour cream, chives, crispy bacon, croutons and so on. Storing the soup: Keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the fridge. Reheat well and whisk to restore its creamy texture. The soup freezes well. Thawed broccoli cheese soup may have a slight change in texture because the cream may separate during freezing and then thawing. Simply whisk the soup back together and add some more cream to bring it back to life. Refresh the seasonings with salt and pepper and enjoy. One tip is to use evaporated milk instead of cream if you plan to freeze this soup.
Per Serving: 421 Calories; 27g Fat (54.8% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 31g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 80mg Cholesterol; 867mg Sodium; 12g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 404mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 1105mg Potassium; 654mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Pork, on October 24th, 2020.

pork_chop_mustard_cream_capers

Want an easy-easy weeknight dinner that seems like something extra special?

About once a week, or perhaps twice, I make myself a more sumptuous dinner – usually it’s a protein and a vegetable. Since I eat salads most nights, this kind of dinner is special. The website where I found this recipe is no longer available, so I can only tell you that this is a Diana Henry recipe. She’s a U.K. food writer and cookbook author, I do believe. And this recipe you’ll find at various websites here and there. Most likely this is originally French. Made there, you’d add some apple brandy instead of vermouth, or maybe some of both. Since I made this for just one person, there were only 2 ounces of cream in it, and I’ll just tell you, at least half of that was left on the plate – I couldn’t quite mop it all up as I cut the meat.

The chops are browned in a neutral oil (I used EVOO, even though it’s not considered flavor neutral). I used an iron skillet for this. Then the pan with the chop went into a 400°F oven for a short bake. Since my chop was relatively thin, I didn’t bake it as long as the recipe indicated – probably about 7 minutes. Use an instant read thermometer if you have one. Be sure to REMEMBER to use heavy-duty oven mitts when you take that pan out of the oven. AND put a towel or something over the handle as you continue to cook the sauce on the stovetop. I nearly grabbed that hot-hot handle – saved in the nick of time from burning myself. The oil in the pan is poured off, then you make the very quick pan sauce. First vermouth and a tetch of lemon juice (my addition), and that’s bubbled down some, then you add the cream and continue cooking until it thickens slightly. Then you slide in the Dijon mustard and capers. Serve.

What’s GOOD: everything about this was wonderful. First and foremost, it was so simple. I did put out all the ingredients, measured and ready before I started. That helps. Once you start making the pan sauce, you want everything else about your dinner to be ready, as it takes about a minute to make the sauce. Maybe two. I wanted to lick the plate of that sauce – but I didn’t. I only ate half of the chop, so I have a dinner left over – yea! And yes, there is some of the sauce left also.

What’s NOT: nothing whatsoever. Easy, easy dinner entrée. I’ll definitely make this again. I always have capers, vermouth and cream on hand, so this could go on about any entrée, including chicken, beef or lamb. Even a deep-flavored fish would work too.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Pork Chops with Mustard, Capers and Cream

Recipe By: adapted from Diana Henry, U.K. food writer
Serving Size: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
24 ounces pork chops — about 8-9 ounces each
9 1/2 ounces vermouth
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
9 ounces heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons capers — well rinsed of salt or brine
Chopped Italian parsley for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Assemble ingredients ahead, mis en place.
2. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof frying pan (or two smaller pans) over high heat. Season the chops all over with salt and pepper, then cook them for two minutes on each side; you want them good and golden. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 12 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer registers 150°F. If using thinner chops, it will take much less time.
3. Wearing heavy duty oven gloves and being careful of the hot pan handle, remove from the oven; put the chops on a warm plate and cover to keep warm. Pour the fat out of the pan. Add the Vermouth and lemon juice to the pan. Bring to the boil and reduce by half, stirring to pick up all the browned bits, then pour in the cream. Boil until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Take it off the heat, whisk in the mustard and add the capers.Taste for seasoning.
4. Serve the chops with the sauce spooned over the top. Garnish with some minced parsley if available.
Per Serving: 572 Calories; 40g Fat (68.0% calories from fat); 37g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 172mg Cholesterol; 251mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; 2mcg Vitamin D; 61mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 748mg Potassium; 448mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, on October 19th, 2020.

food_cart_chix_curry

My riff on a chicken curry recipe similar to what’s served from food carts in India.

You all know who Ruth Reichl is, right? From the venerable halls of food writers and editors, and cookbook authors. Memoir writers too. She used to work at the Los Angeles Times, so I’d been familiar with her for decades. I’m not sure which one of her books this recipe came from (I own a couple of her books, but not all of them). She’s such a good writer, witty and informative, providing plenty of humility when it comes to cooking. Anyway, this came through on one of my feeds from a blog – not sure which one. So the story goes, Ruth has spent more than one trip food-crawling in India, or maybe it was a similar food-crawl in New York City, but no matter how, this is one of her favorite pastimes, partaking of the chicken served from street food carts. She wrote:

The entire city smells like curry. Passing the fourth halal chicken cart, I can’t resist.

Spicy, tangy, irresistible. The taste of now.” Ruth Reichl

Lately I’ve been craving curry again, and since this was a recent recipe I added to my chicken recipes, it was what was on my mind. As I’m writing this it’s early October and this won’t post until later in the month, but what’s important is that I finally began going to grocery stores. It had been 7 months since I’d set foot in one. For my first foray, I visited a nice, new one, a bit smaller than the mega-grocery chains, and found it not crowded, which made me feel better about being there. I was able to buy a red onion for this dish, then I defrosted a pouch of chicken thighs. I used most of them in a soup that I’ll post in a few days, but I saved out some and made this chicken curry and served it on a bed of cauliflower rice.

Several hours ahead I marinated the chicken in a mixture of spices, with some EVOO and lemon juice added. That rested in the frig. Meanwhile I pulsed some fresh cauliflower (I’ve made a big decision – I much prefer prepping a big whole cauliflower into “cauliflower rice” than I like eating the stuff already prepared and sold as “cauliflower rice.” I’m guessing that by the time it gets to stores, it’s several days old. I may never buy the cut up bag  (but still raw) stuff again. I cooked the cauliflower rice in butter over low heat until it was just barely tender.

zucchini_with_food_cart_chix

The CHICKEN: When you’re ready to cook, have everything ready, as the dinner comes together quickly. Into a nonstick pan the chicken goes – it doesn’t need any fat as there is enough in the marinade. Cook it low and slow – it takes about 10 minutes. Test a little piece of chicken to see if it’s done. As I said, meanwhile I did the cauliflower with nothing more than butter in it. I plated the dish.

The ZUCCHINI: I also chopped up one big zucchini and sautéed it in the same pan once I removed the curry. The pan still had a bit of fat in it, AND some of the wonderful spices too. So I got two portions of veggies – the cauliflower rice under the curry AND the zucchini on the side.

I scaled down this recipe since I’m just one person, but two chicken thighs made enough for me to have at least 2 meals. I might even stretch it to 3. Especially if I serve a moderate portion of the zucchini as well. The only change I made to this recipe was to add some Greek yogurt at the end. And I used a bit more of the oregano than the original called for. As for the yogurt – I like a creamy curry. Street carts don’t do that, apparently, so I did veer off a little bit. Food carts serve a cold sauce on the side that’s a mixture of yogurt, mayo, sugar, salt, pepper and vinegar. So, your choice. I let the yogurt simmer too long so it began to separate – so do as I say, not as I did – simmer the yogurt for just long enough to heat it through, then serve.

What’s GOOD: This dish is divine! What else can I say – SO delicious. So comfort-food for me. I nearly licked the plate. Everything about it was fantastic. I’ll be making this again and again. Thank you, Ruth Reichl!

What’s NOT: only that you need to start this the night before or at least 4 hours ahead to marinate the chicken. The seasoning permeates the chicken well during that time – don’t eliminate that step.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Food Cart Chicken Curry

Recipe By: Adapted from Ruth Reichl
Serving Size: 4

1 pound chicken thigh, meat only — boneless, skinless
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 red onion — halved, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
2 cloves garlic — minced
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt, full-fat
Cilantro as garnish
Serve with rice or cauliflower rice and zucchini on the side

NOTE: I served this with a side of zucchini, trimmed, chopped, and cooked quickly over high heat in the seasoning and oil that was left in the skillet after making the curry.
1. Cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks, and slice the onion into thin slices.
2. Make a paste by combining the olive oil with 1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, the coriander, garlic, curry powder, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper.
3. Place onions and chicken into a plastic bag, with the marinade, and squish it all round so the onions and chicken are thoroughly coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
4. Add onions and chicken to large skillet (nonstick) and saute for about 5 minutes, tossing every minute or so. It will splutter a bit.Taste the chicken to see if it’s tender and add additional salt and pepper to taste.
5. Serve over white rice or cauliflower rice. At many food carts they serve this with a white sauce – combine equal parts of mayonnaise and Greek yogurt, then add a dollop of sugar, salt and pepper, and a splash of vinegar. Some prefer to sprinkle on red hot sauce.
Per Serving: 354 Calories; 22g Fat (57.3% calories from fat); 26g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 138mg Cholesterol; 157mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 43mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 372mg Potassium; 227mg Phosphorus.

Posted in easy, Fish, on October 16th, 2020.

steamed_salmon_butter_sauce_spinach

Such an easy dinner – and so savory. Salmon is super tender.

About a week ago my grandson, Vaughan, age 13, came to stay with me for about 5 days. He lives about an hour or two away and his parents were taking a quick trip to Montana, and he would have had wi-fi difficulty there as he is doing middle school remotely for now. He’s been a joy to have around, and on top of that, he knows how to cook. His parents are foodies, and I’ve posted numerous pictures and recipes from Karen, my daughter-in-law, and of my son Powell’s grilling pursuits. Vaughan’s not like a lot of kids, unwilling to try new things. Nope. He’ll try most everything, and even likes vegetables (most, anyway). He asked if we could have salmon one night – sure, I said. Had some in the freezer, so he told me what he needed. Usually he makes this with watercress, but that I didn’t have, so we used spinach instead.

vaughan_cooking

There he is, stirring the lemon butter sauce, and the salmon is in the closer pan, lidded for steaming.

This recipe is so very easy. You could pull this together in a matter of about 20 minutes with no difficulty at all. It helps if you have everything out and ready, mis en place. The salmon is salted and peppered. You bring about an inch of water to a boil in a pan large enough to hold the salmon, and tall enough so the lid won’t rest on the salmon (like mine did). Use a steamer basket or rack. We used a small metal rack, then I put the salmon on a piece of foil, poked about 20 little holes in the foil and put that in the pan. The lid went on and we started a timer for 5 1/2 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan (the one he’s stirring) he melted butter, then added just a little jot of lemon juice (and add more, he says, if you like a more lemony taste). If you have thicker salmon, it might need an extra minute, or if your salmon is thinner, maybe 30-60 seconds less time. Remove the salmon when it has reached 135°F.

Once the salmon was cooked – we tested it  – we removed the salmon and the rack. If you want, tent the salmon with foil to keep it warm. We poured out the water from the pan, then melted more butter and cooked the spinach. Taste for salt and pepper.

Simple – plate the salmon, place the spinach along side, then gently pour the butter sauce over the salmon. If some of it dribbles over the spinach that’s fine. Thank you, grandson Vaughan, for a delicious dinner!

What’s GOOD: for me, the fact that the dish was SO easy and quick to make, and it was so delicious. The salmon is super tender – just right. And the lemon butter sauce – not only is it hardly a cooked sauce, it was quick and added lovely flavor to the salmon.

What’s NOT: Nothing, really. The next time I make it I won’t have my grandson doing all the cooking!
printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Steamed Salmon with Lemon Butter and Spinach

Recipe By: Adapted from Food & Wine
Serving Size: 4

SALMON:
2 pounds salmon fillets — cut into 4 pieces
salt and pepper to taste
LEMON BUTTER SAUCE:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons lemon juice — or more if you like more lemony flavor
SPINACH:
1 pound spinach — tough stems removed
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

NOTE: Select a pan or pot that will hold a steamer rack or similar device and be tall enough that the lid won’t touch the salmon. Or use a steam setting on a rice cooker or instant pot.
1. In a large pot, bring about an inch of water to a boil.
2. Season the salmon fillets with ample salt and pepper. Place them in a large steamer basket, skin-side down. Or improvise with a rack, a piece of foil that you poke about 20-30 holes in, and place that on top of the rack.
3. Place the steamer basket with the fish over (not in) the boiling water and cover the pan. Reduce heat to a full simmer and cook the salmon until it is just barely done (the fish should still be translucent in the center), about 5 1/2 minutes for a 1-inch-thick fillet. Do not over cook. Use an instant read thermometer and it’s done at 135°F.
4. Meanwhile, in a small stainless-steel saucepan, melt the butter. Add the lemon juice plus a dash of salt and pepper. Taste sauce to see if it needs additional lemon juice; if so, add in small increments. Keep warm.
5. Remove salmon, tent with foil, then empty the pan of water. Add butter and melt it, then add the spinach, pressing and nestling the spinach until it’s all in the pan. Stir well and continue cooking until spinach is fully cooked. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
6. Serve the salmon with the lemon butter sauce poured over it and spinach on the side.You may use frozen spinach for this.
Per Serving: 426 Calories; 23g Fat (49.4% calories from fat); 49g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 206mg Cholesterol; 227mg Sodium; 1g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 142mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 1618mg Potassium; 703mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Veggies/sides, on October 7th, 2020.

roasted_savoy_cabbage_cilantro_sesame

It’s been awhile since I wrote up a recipe where I blasted out at you saying – you have to make this! Maybe the Curried Shepherd’s Pie recently. I think I watched a Cook’s Country program where they made this cabbage – or maybe it was just that I’ve been going through my old issues pulling out recipes that sound amazing. This one did.

The recipe indicated it’s imperative you use Savoy and not a regular cabbage. Savoy is more delicate and roasts differently (quicker and better, I would imagine). Fortunately I was able to buy one and couldn’t wait to try this. You need to start about 45 minutes ahead of time – giving ample time for the oven to heat to 475°F, and to let a chunk of butter warm to room temp (important) and in that time you prep the cabbage. Pull off any discolored or damaged outer leaves. Cut the cabbage into wedges with EACH wedge containing part of the core (which holds it together during roasting). Foil line a roasting sheetpan. Using your hand, grab about a tablespoon of the softened butter (I warmed mine in the microwave – took about 14 seconds) and gently rub it on the two cut sides, the outer edge, then gently lift some of the layers and spread a bit in there too. There is not enough butter to do all the various layers.

savoy_before_roastingBoth sides of each wedge get a sprinkling of salt and pepper, then place them on the foil-lined baking pan. Cover the pan with another sheet of foil. Into the oven they go for 15 minutes. Then the top foil is removed, turn the pan around and put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes. In that time the edges will have turned golden and a few of the outer leaves may have blackened (it’s okay – they even taste good).

Meanwhile, you make the sauce: simple ingredients – unseasoned rice wine vinegar (if all you have is seasoned [sweetened] eliminate the honey), soy sauce, EVOO, honey, paprika, cayenne. I didn’t heat it as I was able to get the honey to dissolve with some vigorous stirring. Have at the ready a small amount of toasted sesame seeds, and a bit of chopped up cilantro leaves for garnish.

Once the cabbage comes out of the oven, it’s serving time. If you remember, trim off the cabbage core before plating. If you’re serving guests, have a heated platter (or pop one in that hot-hot oven for about 2-3 minutes before plating the cabbage on it). I used a spatula to pick up one wedge and onto my own dinner plate, then gently poured some of the sauce over the cut side. Those juices – some from the cabbage but also the sauce will pool a bit on the plate. Sprinkle the cut side with some toasted sesame seeds and cilantro. Done. For me, I used a half of the Savoy head, cut into 3 wedges. A whole head would serve 6 unless you have hungry football players at your table.

What’s GOOD: sublime. Absolutely unctuous, sweet (but not overly so), tasty cabbage. I had to restrain myself to not eat a second portion. I’d served it with a pork chop (another recipe coming up next) and was full – but I wanted more. I’m happy to have leftovers. Can’t wait!

What’s NOT: only that you want to start this about an hour ahead; maybe 45 minutes at a minimum. You could do all the prep ahead and the 30 minutes of roasting would be done at the last minute. This wasn’t quite as good warmed up as leftovers, so keep that in mind – only make as much as you need for one meal.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Roasted Savoy Cabbage with Cilantro and Sesame

Recipe By: Cooks Country, Aug/Sept 2019
Serving Size: 6

2 pound savoy cabbage — tough outer leaves removed, cut into 4 or 6 even wedges
4 tablespoons salted butter — (1/2 stick) cut into 4 pieces and softened
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar — (do not use seasoned style)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon EVOO
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons sesame seeds — toasted
1 cup fresh cilantro — lightly packed, roughly chopped

NOTE: Do not use regular cabbage and do use softened butter. If you don’t have regular rice wine vinegar, you can use seasoned, but then eliminate the honey from the sauce. Depending on the size of the cabbage, you may get more servings from one cabbage.
1. Heat oven to 475°F with rack in middle position. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Using hands and 1 T butter per cabbage wedge, rub butter on all sides and into layers. Sprinkle each with 1/4 tsp salt and black pepper. Place wedges cut side down on baking sheet. Cover tightly with foil and roast until a skewer inserted at the thickest part of the cabbage meets a little resistance, about 15 min.
2. Uncover sheet pan and roast until deeply browned on all sides, another 15 min, flipping wedges halway through.
3. In small bowl whisk vinegar, soy, oil, honey, paprika, cayenne, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Set aside.
4. Transfer cabbage to cutting board, trim off and discard core from each wedge. Place cabbage on heated platter and drizzle each wedge with 1 T of sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cilantro. Serve with remaining sauce on the side.
Per Serving: 161 Calories; 12g Fat (60.7% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 20mg Cholesterol; 397mg Sodium; 6g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 91mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 427mg Potassium; 99mg Phosphorus.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...