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Here are the tastingspoons players. I’m in the middle (Carolyn). Daughter Sara on the right, and daughter-in-law Karen on the left. I started the blog in 2007, as a way to share recipes with my family. Now in 2021, I’ll still participate, but the two daughters are going to do more posting from here on out.

We participate in an amazon program that rewards a little tiny $ something (pennies, really) if you purchase any books recommended (below), or buy products occasionally mentioned on the blog with an amazon link. 

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BOOK READING:

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. My friend Ann recommended it. I was gripped with the story within the first paragraph, and it never stopped until I turned the last page. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s (I think). At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. Some very ugly things happen at that school. Eventually they  escape, and they are “on the run.” With a few others with them. If you loved Huckleberry Finn, you’ll have a great appreciation for this story as they use a canoe to get themselves down river. Never having very much to eat and getting into trouble way too often, and authorities on their tail. Well, you just have to read the book to find out what happens.

Just finished Kristin Hannah’s latest book, The Four Winds: A Novel. What a story. One I’ve never read about, although I certainly have heard about the “dust bowl” years when there was a steady migration of down-and-out farmers from the Midwest, to California, for what they hoped to be the American Dream. It tells the story of one particular family, the Martinellis, the grandparents, their son, his wife, and their two children. The book is heartbreaking, but one of those that everyone should read. The hardship, the hunger, the dirt and dust, the failed crops, the lack of rain, then the story picks up again in central California, back in the day when the wealthy growers just used up the migrants. I don’t want to spoil the story. So worth reading. Hannah really knows how to weave a story.

Brit Bennett has written quite a book, The Vanishing Half: A Novel. It’s a novel, yet I’m sure there are such real-life situations. Twin girls are born to a young woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks. The father was very dark, but he plays no part, really, in this story. Growing up, the girls leave home at 18 to find their way in New Orleans. Suddenly, one twin disappears (her clothes and suitcase all gone in the wink of an eye). Her twin left behind has no idea what’s happened to her. As the story reveals, with divided paths, one twin continues her life as a black woman, and the other twin, the one who left, is able to pass as a white woman. She marries well, has a daughter. Well, let’s just say that there are lots of wicked webs woven throughout the story, starting from the girls’ mother who never wants to speak again of her lost daughter. But you know where this is going, don’t you? Things are found out. The author does a great job of weaving the story apart and then back together.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress. She was a brilliant mind, and a beautiful woman. It tells the story of her coming of age, how she navigated the world of acting back in that time period (she was Austrian, and Hitler was in power). The writing was very well done – to tell Hedy’s story with detail and poignancy. Eventually Hedy made it to the U.S. and her life story changed, but still had its difficulties. I loved the book, beginning to end. She should have become an engineer as she invented several war related bomb tools. Very much worth reading.

Also read The Secret of the Chateau: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction with a mystery at its heart by Kathleen McGurl. There are two stories here. The historical part is just prior to and up to the French Revolution, when aristocrats were chased and killed, guillotined in many cases. There is a young couple (part of the royal court) who escape to a remote small castle owned by his family, located on the edge of France and Italy, hoping to wait out the revolution and hoping the villagers love and care about them. Then jump to current day as a small English group of close friends decide to retire somewhere on the continent, and settle on a small abandoned castle in the remote hills of France along the Italian border. Got the picture? The historian in the group is quite interested in the history of the home, and clues are revealed (in the tower) that lead her and the group on a quest to discover what happened to the couple who used to live there. There was a fire once upon a time. There’s an pesky ghost. There’s also a very old child’s doll/playhouse on the grounds. Plus there’s a small graveyard. It is VERY intriguing. Very interesting. I love historical novels like this, and this one in particular does have quite a mystery involved, too.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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 Uncategorized, on May 16th, 2021.

Hi there, I’m Karen.  I have enjoyed being Carolyn’s daughter-in-law for almost 20 years now.  Both sides of our family enjoy getting in the kitchen.  I love the holidays as much for enjoying what everyone brings to the table as I do for how it can bring us all together.  My husband, Powell, and I have one son, Vaughan and you will likely see our Bernese Mountain Dog, Shelby from time to time. (Yes, I have to sweep the Shelby hair out of the kitchen before I start cooking!) As you have seen from Carolyn’s previous entries, we are doing what we can to encourage Vaughan’s confidence in the kitchen too!

In addition to enjoying the kitchen, I teach piano and enjoy reading, camping, fishing, gardening, volunteering on the school district foundation, and a number of winter sports.  I used to do Tae Kwon Do regularly until my body decided I would have some arthritis in my hip.  So….I’ve adjusted my sights.  But I do miss that one!

Customers never saw the lovely backside of this machine. It had to face the wall in Dad’s shop.

So, what is with the picture of the espresso maker?  When Powell and I were getting married, my Dad had just retired from running his coffee business of 13 years.  I was visiting my parents one day, standing in the garage with my dad, who had just asked what I would like for a wedding present.  I looked over at the professional copper espresso maker just sitting in his garage and said – If that is going to just sit in here, I’d love the Espresso Machine!”  My soon-to-be husband thought I was nuts…until a few years later when we had the opportunity to install it and get it back in action.  I can’t say it is practical but it comes with a lot of great memories from my Dad’s store and has helped us create even more as we gather with friends and family.

I look forward to sharing my kitchen exploits with you- recipes coming soon!

Posted in Breads, on May 14th, 2021.

Kind of weird shapes, but tasted great with nutmeg in them.

One of the mornings my family was at the desert house, I made scones. There hasn’t been a whole lot of baking going on in that kitchen, truth be told. There is no stand mixer – just a mediocre hand-held Rival mixer. Discovered there was no pastry blender, either. And there isn’t a food processor. Sara and I haven’t decided if we really need those things there – we go there to relax, so perhaps we don’t need the fancy kitchen appliances. There’s an electric range, of course, an oven, a Maytag dishwasher (many years old, but works just fine) and a microwave. There is also a Maytag washer and dryer. Old. Back in the day when Maytag’s name meant good quality. So I hear that’s not necessary so anymore. We’re going to continue using those old appliances as long as they keep running.

Speaking of the electric range, Sara and I had decided from the get-go that we wanted to have gas plumbed into the kitchen. Well, that was before we found out what a big job it would be. There is gas within about 6 feet of the kitchen range, but because it’s a condo, it has a shared wall with the condo next door. We’d have to tear out about 6 feet of wall in the existing kitchen to pipe the gas through studs, etc. Probably not worth doing. Probably not going to happen. Maybe we’ll look into induction when the range needs replacing.

There is a very cheap blender in that kitchen that we haven’t used. And in this case, there was a potato masher (I bought a set of kitchen utensils from Rachael Ray, and a potato masher was included). I didn’t know how well that utensil would work for mixing scones, but it seemed to function pretty well. The house came furnished, and the kitchen drawers were chock-full of things, but no pastry blender. There had been a nice KitchenAid stand mixer when we were looking at the house, but when the sellers cleared things out, that went too. I have a small food processor (about a 2 cup size) that I think I’ll take out there. We’ll see if that will work sufficiently well without buying a big one.

I wasn’t sure we had nutmeg at that house, so I took some from home; I had butter, flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Didn’t have a round cutter for scones, so I just cut them sort-of square-ish. But, as you know, shape isn’t important! The dough was on the dry side, so I added a little bit of milk to make the dough slightly sticky. That’s what you’re looking for.

The family enjoyed them. I loved the nutmeg. You know, nutmeg can be a rather overpowering spice. Like cloves (which can be so easily over-done). But the nutmeg – even though there was quite a bit of it in the scones, was just fine. I rounded the measuring spoon too, so I put in more than had been called for. We didn’t serve them with jam – just butter. And the family of 6 of us ate all but a couple of the ones on that tray.

What’s GOOD: loved the nutmeg in them. Nice and tender. They tasted wonderful with just butter, but the recipe, originally from Bon Appetit in 2003, suggested clotted cream and raspberry jam. They’d be lovely, too.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Nutmeg Scones

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Bon Appetit
Serving Size: 6

2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, or sugar substitute
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg — freshly grated, or use bottled ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter — chilled
1 cup sour cream
1-3 teaspoons of milk if needed for dough pliability
EGG WHITE GLAZE:
1 large egg white — beaten to blend with 2 teaspoons water (for glaze)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, baking soda, and salt in food processor; blend 10 seconds. Using on/off turns, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add sour cream. Using on/off turns, blend until moist clumps form. If the dough is too dry, add milk in 1-2 teaspoons portions until dough begins to come together.
2. Turn dough out onto floured work surface. Knead 4 turns to form ball. Roll out dough to 8-inch square (about 3/4 inch thick). Cut square into wedges. Or form into a rectangle and cut into squares.
3. Lightly whip the egg white – just enough to loosen the white. Brush on top of scones, then sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.
4. Transfer to baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake scones until tops are golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes. Transfer scones to rack and cool slightly. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Rewarm in 350°F oven 10 minutes, if desired.) If not eaten after 24 hours, freeze.
Per Serving: 358 Calories; 18g Fat (45.5% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 43g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 49mg Cholesterol; 443mg Sodium; 10g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 163mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 109mg Potassium; 227mg Phosphorus. 

Posted May 14, 2021, tastingspoons.com 

Posted in Salads, on May 8th, 2021.

A lovely, very curry-centric green salad with chicken, fat glossy grapes, fresh asparagus and toasted pine nuts

To digress just a little bit – the blog has now been “migrated,” they call it, to a different platform, and I won’t be getting any of those overage charges. Whew. I’ve lost sleep over this whole thing. So stressful. Mostly the hard work is done now, although I still need to figure out the email subscriptions and some other things. I was shocked to discover that 487 of you have subscribed to the blog. Wow. Thank you, friends and readers! The subscription function doesn’t work the same on this platform, so soon I’ll be adding email subscriptions (in the background) and you may get some kind of email asking you to authorize it. Don’t know about that, as I haven’t delved into it deeply enough yet. And the window where readers input an email address (on the home page) doesn’t function correctly, so I’ve got to figure this out. There are several other things I’m not able to access or accomplish, but hopefully I’ll get it figured out eventually. Need to understand it well enough so I can teach Karen and Sara how to do it too.

So, on to salads. Last weekend I went out to the condo in the desert (Palm Desert) to spend the weekend with daughter Sara and her husband John, and son Powell, his wife Karen and their son, Vaughan. We had a busy weekend, with them visiting an air museum in Palm Springs, and another day all of them going out into the deep desert to go shooting at targets. Not my thing, so I stayed home and did some cooking. We went out to a nice restaurant one night, cooked burgers another (with birthday cake for two family members). It was beastly hot, unfortunately (unseasonably), but we still enjoyed being together as a family. Do note, the new photo on the sidebar of the blog. New picture of the three of us.

When Karen and family arrived it was 106° outside. It was nice and cool inside, thank goodness, so I’d made this salad. Originally, the recipe came from Kalyn’s Kitchen, but I did a lot of tweaking of the recipe itself, adding other ingredients to both the salad and the dressing.

First off, I had really huge chicken breasts, so I poached them – really I steeped them. I mixed orange juice and water, with some salt and pepper, brought it to a boil, slid in the chicken, brought it back up to a simmer, covered it, turned off the heat and let it steep (like tea) for an hour. The chicken was fully cooked, and so very tender and juicy. Once cooled, I cut the chicken into cubes and bite-sized pieces. The dressing I’d made ahead, but I’d added some vinegar (my Meyer lemons were too sweet, so thought the dressing needed a bit more acid), some EVOO too. I tossed the salad with the grape halves, arugula, Romaine and also the asparagus I’d cooked earlier and chilled. The toasted pine nuts sprinkled on the top made for nice texture too. The picture above doesn’t do it justice, really. The family thought the salad was well worth blogging about.

What’s GOOD: lovely for a warm summer’s evening, tender juicy chicken, powerful curry dressing (if you aren’t enamored with curry, either eliminate it or reduce the quantity of curry powder), and the texture from the asparagus, grapes and pine nuts.

What’s NOT: only that there are several steps (steeping the chicken, cooking the asparagus and the other general prep).

An explanation about the recipe below. I think I explained that my daughter Sara and my daughter-in-law Karen don’t want to do all the fussing I do to generate a pdf or the MasterCook recipe for you to download. So for now, we’re going to go with a straight (typed) recipe (kinda like the old days) as you see below. At the moment I’m unable (and I don’t know why) to upload files to the platform (like a pdf) anyway, so we’ll see how this method works. Cut and paste the recipe below into your own recipe program, or into a word processing program.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Curried Chicken Salad with Asparagus, Red Grapes and Pine Nuts

Recipe By: My adaptation of a Kalyn’s Kitchen recipe
Servings: 6

1 pound asparagus spears — trimmed and cut into diagonal 2 inch pieces
1 whole lemon — (zest the skin and squeeze the juice)
3 large chicken breasts without skin — to yield about 4 cups
1 cup orange juice — mixed with 2 cups water
1 cup green onion — sliced
1/2 cup pine nuts — toasted
1 cup red grapes — halved
salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
2 cups arugula — or more if needed
3 cups romaine lettuce — chopped or torn, or more if needed
DRESSING:
5 tablespoons Greek yogurt, full-fat — may substitute sour cream or buttermilk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice — or more if desired
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons white vinegar — or more lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Cut off woody ends of asparagus.  Cut asparagus on the diagonal into pieces and then cook in salted water for 3 minutes.  Do not overcook – you want the asparagus to be tender-crisp.
2.  Zest the lemon then cut lemon in half and squeeze the juice.  Set aside.
3.  In another saucepan, combine the orange juice and water.  Season liquid with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer.  Gently slide the chicken breasts into the water.  Cover, bring the water back to a simmer, and remove from the heat.  Set pan aside for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.  The chicken will have poached/cooked during that time.  Remove chicken, drain, allow to cool.  Discard the cooking water.  Cut chicken into small bite-sized pieces.  You may also use any leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken for this salad.
4.  Whisk together yogurt, mayo, lemon juice, curry powder, Dijon mustard, EVOO, vinegar (or more lemon juice) lemon zest and sea salt to make the curry dressing.  Taste for seasoning.
5.  Drain asparagus into a colander.  Then lay out a paper towel on the counter and spread out the asparagus on the towel.  Cover with another paper towel and gently blot away as much water as possible.
6.  Slice green onions on the diagonal and toast the pine nuts.
7.  Combine diced chicken, asparagus, green onions, grapes, arugula and Romaine with desired amount of dressing; you may not need all the dressing if you prefer your salads to be fairly dry.  Gently stir in the green onion and grapes.  Season the finished salad to taste with salt and fresh-ground black pepper, and serve, sprinkling the toasted pine nuts all over the top of the salad.  If you have any extra dressing you might want to add a bit more right when you serve the salad.  If you prefer, you can leave the asparagus whole, and serve the spears on top of the salad – with the toasted pine nuts – for a pretty appearance.
Per Serving: 411 Calories; 20g Fat (43.5% calories from fat); 37g Protein; 23g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 107mg Cholesterol; 285mg Sodium; 13g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 103mg Calcium; 5mg Iron; 1183mg Potassium; 458mg Phosphorus.

Recipe: tastingspoons.com, 5/8/2021

Posted in Beef, on April 30th, 2021.

braised_corned_beef

The most succulent corned beef I’ve ever had. Bar none.

On St. Paddy’s Day (actually it was the day before – they were celebrating early), my son and his family invited me to their home for the day and evening. I’d been thinking about having a traditional corned beef dinner, but with being just me-myself-and-I, how could I eat up several pounds of corned beef? Yes, I could freeze some, but I don’t know about you, but I’m never quite so happy with leftovers once they’ve been frozen. So when they invited me, I jumped. A few days ago I shared the recipe for Colcannon that I made for the dinner.

Karen made this braised corned beef that was just off-the-charts. It was the most tasty and tender corned beef I’ve ever had. She bought 5 pounds of corned beef (larger than most grocery store cuts) and there were 4 of us for dinner, and maybe smaller portion leftovers for the 3 of them for another night. If you buy a smaller corned beef, it will still need the same number of hours of braising, you’ll just have less of it. As you no doubt know, corned beef shrinks a lot once cooked.

She’s been using this same recipe for several years, and she says it’s SO easy. She found the recipe at allrecipes.com. What’s different about it? Well, most recipes I’ve ever made, you simmer the beef for maybe 2-2 1/2 hours max. This recipe IS different. First Karen slathered both sides of the beef with HP sauce. You probably could use A-1, but HP is the British version. Once slathered, she browned it first on the stovetop in a little bit of vegetable oil, then put it into a big roasting pan on a rack, and covered the top with yellow onions and slivered garlic. Water was added to the pot and she covered the pot with foil to seal it really well. A note of caution: when browning the meat, wear an apron and also if possible put newspaper down on the floor, as the meat throws off a lot of spatter. Enough that their dog, Shelby, slipped in the grease and fell in it (I expect there was a bit of dog-licking-floor action going on after that). So, pay attention to that part.

braised_corned_beef_in_panThe tight foil-sealed roasting pan then went into a 275°F oven for just about 6 hours. I put 5 hours on the photo, but it was actually 6 hours. And you do not want to pull it out to “check on it.” If you do, it loses all that head of steam that’s been slowly tenderizing the meat. So do NOT open the foil covered pan at all during that time. If you do, add about another hour of baking time.

Once out of the oven, Karen put it on a big cutting board (see picture at top). You can see all the HP sauce browned into the top (picture at left). Brisket contains a goodly amount of water, and plenty of fat, so you can see there was about a scant cup of liquid in the bottom of the pan. I was surprised at the addition of just one tablespoon of water – but Karen assured me the recipe is correct. She thinks the onions also provide some liquid.

What’s GOOD: oh my. So succulent and juicy. SOO very tender. The most tender corned beef I’ve ever had. This will be my new go-to recipe.

What’s NOT: only that you need to plan ahead as it requires 6 hours of baking time, plus the 25-30 minutes of browning first.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Braised Corned Beef Brisket

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from All Recipes
Serving Size: 7

5 pounds corned beef brisket — flat cut
2 tablespoons HP sauce — British imported browning sauce, similar to A-1 sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion — sliced
6 cloves garlic — sliced
2 tablespoons water

1. Preheat oven to 275°F (135 degrees C).
2. Discard any flavoring packet from corned beef. Brush brisket with HP browning sauce on both sides. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown brisket on both sides in the hot oil, 5 to 8 minutes per side. Advice from my daughter-in-law: Do wear an apron, and you might put newspaper on the floor around your stove, as the browning process throws off a lot of grease.
3. Place brisket on a rack set in a roasting pan. Scatter onion and garlic slices over brisket and add water to roasting pan. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil. Do not open the foil at all during the braising time as it will lose all of the built-up steam.
4. Roast in the preheated oven until meat is tender, about 6 hours.
Per Serving: 669 Calories; 50g Fat (69.0% calories from fat); 48g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 175mg Cholesterol; 3949mg Sodium; 1g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 31mg Calcium; 6mg Iron; 996mg Potassium; 388mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Uncategorized, on April 22nd, 2021.

Unbeknownst to all of you readers, there’s been a problem brewing behind the “face” of my blog. Some hackers have created a robotic script and have been trying to gain access to my blog.  Trying to take it down – just for the fun of it. No, we don’t know where they’re from. It’s a game to them – to try to access blogs or websites, go in and destroy stuff, so the website can’t operate. Such hackers are wreaking havoc all over the world doing this – it’s not just me or my blog. Once the blog is taken down by the hackers, the owner has to have a programmer recreate it to get it up and running again. You can’t prevent them from trying, although I’ve done various things to discourage the attempts. But they keep trying. Last month I had over 360,000 attempts to get into my blog. Can you imagine? Good thing I have a really strong password. Makes me think I need to create a new password that’s at least 160 characters long. With numerous numbers, symbols, capitol letters, etc. You know the drill on that stuff.

The problem was that all that robotic scripting (the login attempts) ran up my GPU usage, and I got dinged to the tune of about $50 last month on overage fees. Dang! So I had to take a hard look at my blog. Did I really want to keep doing this, running up these charges. Sara posts when she can, but she’s so busy at her full time job, she rarely has time, or remembers to take pictures of what she creates. Hard to do a post without a picture. So I’d almost decided I was going to close/shut my blog down altogether. But NO, I’m not.

I looked into some options, and have decided to move the blog to a different platform that doesn’t charge extra for those GPU overages. And, on top of that, my daughter in law, Karen, has decided that she’d really like to be part of the blog herself. She and Powell, and their son Vaughan, are all foodies of the first order. I’ve posted many recipes from Karen, or Powell, and some months ago I posted two recipes from Vaughan (13) who stayed with me for a few days.

Which means that I will be taking a more back-seat role here. After 14 years of food blogging, I’m cooking less, although I have to say I still feel that pressure to keep trying new recipes that might be blog-worthy. Sometimes they’re successes, sometimes not. Do I eat out much? No, not really, and not-at-all during this last Covid-year. Do I buy ready-made food? No, not at all. On a regular basis I eat a big green salad (with some kind of protein on it) about 6 evenings a week. Can’t really blog much about that, now can I?

I’ll still blog – I’m sure of it – because when I do make something new and fun, I’ll want to tell you about it. As I’ve explained before, when that happens, my fingers “itch” to get to the keyboard to tell all of you about it. Surely that will still happen.

As the next few weeks go by, I’ll introduce you to Karen, and Powell, and Vaughan, and hopefully going forward, you’ll get to know Karen’s cooking style. And Sara will chime in now and then too. I think I’m going to Powell & Karen’s for Mother’s Day, so perhaps we’ll take pictures and do a blog post from there. I need to spend some concentrated one-on-one time with Karen to acquaint her with how to blog.

There will be a difference on the posting face  – we’re going to simplify how recipes are posted. Neither Sara nor Karen want to fuss with the programming stuff (that I do because I like the recipe to look “pretty) to create a box that goes around a recipe. Nor do they want to pdf or create a MasterCook file, either. So it’ll be a post (the narrative) plus a recipe. You’ll want to cut and paste it to use somehow. To make my blog more print-easy, would require major programming – an expense I’m not willing to take on. Remember, I don’t take any advertising on my blog, so anything I do is out-of-pocket. My pocket.

In the next week or so my blog will migrate to a different server – hopefully you’ll never notice a difference, although at some point the blog will be off line for a short while, I suppose. They say they’ll do it at night so you’d not notice. We’ll see how that part goes.

. . . Carolyn T

Posted in Veggies/sides, on April 17th, 2021.

colcannon_bowl

You know Colcannon, right? An Irish dish, mashed potatoes with cabbage. This one also has green onions in it.

This recipe should have been posted BEFORE St. Patrick’s Day. Sorry about that . . . Maybe you can print it out and make it next year. Or anytime, really. I’d intended to add some cauliflower to it (to make it less carb-centric) but I forgot to take the cauliflower along with me to my son’s house the day we had this dinner.

I made enough to serve 6, so we’d have some leftovers, as I wanted to make a few potato patties that they could have with the remaining corned beef, and I could have with something. So easy to make big patties of mashed potatoes once you have them done.

I started out with about 4 pounds of potatoes, and the recipe called for 9T of butter. Yum. Plus a bit more to melt on the top when serving (sorry, forgot to take a picture of that). I had Savoy cabbage, and used 5 green onions. Plus a mixture of heavy cream and milk. I was surprised at the quantity of milk/cream (1 1/2 cups), and as I was adding it to the potatoes, I was thinking, really? This seems like too much. But it wasn’t. What it makes is really smooth, silky potatoes. I’ve made Colcannon before, many times, but I do believe this is the best I’ve ever tried. And I’ve never posted a recipe for it, as I kind of “winged it” whenever I’ve made it, and it wasn’t memorably. This one was.

Here’s a picture of the Colcannon on the plate:

colcannon_plated

You can’t really see much of the cabbage or green onions in this photo – that’s why I used the one I took when I was mixing it up – it’s more colorful. No question, this will be my go-to recipe for future iterations of Colcannon. If you make potato patties as leftovers, sprinkle a bit of flour on each flat side (to help them brown). The Colcannon is very “wet” so they didn’t brown very well, and it’s hard turning them over without messing up the golden crust. Flour would help with that.

potato_pattie_from_colcannonWhat’s GOOD: how rich and creamy it is – good flavor from the cabbage and green onions, but likely it’s the butter and milk/cream that enhances it the most. Don’t even think about not adding all of it. Make potato patties with the leftovers – flour them and sauté them in some butter.

What’s NOT: nothing, whatsoever. Perfectly wonderful comfort food, and ideal with corned beef.

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Colcannon

Recipe By: Simply Recipes
Serving Size: 6

3 & 3/4 pounds russet potatoes — peeled and cut into large chunks
Salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter — (with more butter for serving)
4 1/2 cups cabbage — lightly packed, chopped kale, chard, or other leafy green
4 1/2 green onions — (including the green onion greens), minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cups milk — or cream or use half and half

1. Boil the potatoes: Put the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water by at least an inch. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, and bring to a boil. Boil until the potatoes are fork tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain in a colander.
2. Cook the greens and the green onions with butter: Return the pot to the stove and set over medium-high heat. Melt the butter in the pot and once it’s hot, add the greens. Cook the greens for 3-4 minutes, or until they are wilted and have given off some of their water.
3. Add the green onions and cook 1 minute more.
4. Mash the potatoes with milk or cream and greens: Pour in the milk or cream, mix well, and add the potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium.
5. Use a fork or potato masher and mash the potatoes, mixing them up with the greens. Add salt to taste and serve hot, with a knob of butter in the center.
NOTE: If you have leftovers, form the potatoes into patties, dust with a bit of flour and fry them in butter.
Per Serving: 432 Calories; 20g Fat (39.3% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 59g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 52mg Cholesterol; 56mg Sodium; 7g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 142mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 1397mg Potassium; 232mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, Miscellaneous, on April 11th, 2021.

argentinian_steak_red_chimichurri_sauce

Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Listen up. You just gotta make this. I can’t praise this enough. If you like steak, this is your lucky day. The recipe was demonstrated on Milk Street, and Jim Hirsch, one of the producers, went to Argentina and his job, with the film crew, was to find out what makes Argentinian steak so special. Certainly steak is the signature dish of Argentina. They raise a LOT of beef cattle in the country. My granddaughter, Sabrina, spent 5 months in Argentina (not exactly a happy experience, I’m sorry to say, even though it was through her university college exchange program). But she told me she had steak similar to this when she was there.

Normally, in Argentina, steak is grilled outside, on a grill that has an adjustable grate level – in other words, you can lower it to be close to the coals, or way up high (more like 10-12 inches), away from the wood coals. Most restaurants make this steak with a 2-hour grilling. Can you imagine? Likely they do that to have a very precise control over the temperature.

strip_steak_seasonedOnce the Milk Street crew returned to Boston, they began trying to recreate this steak (using American/different equipment) – and the chimichurri sauce. Speaking of the sauce, you may be familiar with green chimichurri sauce (that’s all I’d ever had prior to making this). This red sauce is a strange combination of things – 1/4 cup sweet paprika, 1/4 cup red pepper flakes (yes, really), and 1/4 cup dried oregano, and lastly 3/4 cup of neutral oil. Added later, garlic and balsamic vinegar. If you’ve ever watched Chris Kimball (he’s the guy who started Cook’s Illustrated, but was ousted some years ago and started Milk Street) you know that he does not like spicy heat. Not that he’s into bland food, but heat bothers his palate. So when they were making this in the test kitchen, when he was asked to add 1/4 CUP of red pepper flakes, he said oh-no, no, I won’t be able to eat this. The chef pleaded with him to follow the recipe and he might be surprised. And indeed he was, and so was I.

At left is the photo of the beautiful New York strip steak, 2” thick, with the rub on it (having rested in the frig for 24 hours), on a rack, before it went into the oven. One of these steaks will serve at least 2 people, maybe even 3 people.

There are a few steps to making this:

1. Make a rub of black pepper, freshly grated nutmeg (lots of it) and sugar. Put it on the 2” thick steak.

2. Place the steak on a rack, open, in the refrigerator, for 24 hours.

3. Put the steak in a 250°F oven for about 45 minutes. Remove it and let it rest for 30 minutes.

4. Make the sauce.

5. Grill the steak in a searing hot pan on the stove (or do this on your outdoor grill) to caramelize the two sides, then let it rest for 10 minutes. Get the rest of the meal ready.

6. Slice the steak across the grain, in 1/4” thick slices, plate it and drizzle the sauce on the ends and offer more sauce at the table.

red_chimichurri_cookingThe sauce takes no time, really, to make, but there are steps to making it also. In a skillet you combine the oil, paprika, red chili flakes and the oregano, and cook it over very low heat (never allowing it to boil) for 5-7 minutes. Then you add the garlic, and let it cool. Once cool, you add the balsamic vinegar and salt. The photo at right is before it even cooked – so you can see the ingredients.

When Chris Kimball tasted the sauce, he first barely touched his bite of steak with the oily part of the sauce, as he was not thinking he could eat it. He was surprised, and my friend Linda and I (when we made it) were also amazed that our mouths weren’t burning up. The guesswork is that the addition of 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar somehow tempers the spicy, fiery heat of 1/4 cup of red pepper flakes.

The only thing I’ll say is that you need a meat thermometer for this recipe – I eat my steak medium-rare, and you remove the steak from the oven when it reaches 110°F (about 10-15 degrees below that magic medium-rare temp). I did that, but during the resting time, the temp went up nearly 10 degrees, and once I seared it, it went up even more. We got it out of the pan at about 128°F, which is a few degrees higher than I wanted. So watch it carefully.

What’s GOOD: I absolutely LOVE-LOVED this steak and the sauce. Definitely well enough to make it again. You do need to plan ahead 24 hours, and make sure you have a whole pod of nutmeg for each steak. You do not taste nutmeg in the rub when eating it. It’s uncanny there could be so much nutmeg on the rub and you wouldn’t taste it in the finished steak (although I was able to taste it when I ate the leftovers, cold). And the sauce – oh my goodness. So good. Very easy – make it the day ahead to save time if you’d like. It’s also uncanny there is so much red pepper in the sauce and I could eat it. I won’t say I ate copious quantities, but I certainly ate some with every bite, and went back for more.

What’s NOT: only that the steak is expensive (do buy a good one, though I did choose choice, not prime beef); however, one steak will feed 2 people, maybe 3. You do have to visit a butcher, as the steak must be 2” thick. I don’t know of any grocery store that has pre-cut 2” steaks. The nearly one pound steak cost me $29. The recipe is for feeding 4, so twice that amount. And you do need to plan ahead, as I mentioned, so the steak can sit in the frig for 24 hours.

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Grilled and Oven-Baked Argentinian Strip Steak with Red Chimichurri

Recipe By: Milk Street, Jim Hirsch
Serving Size: 5

STEAK:
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon freshly grated nutmeg — from two whole nutmeg pods
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 strip beef strip steaks — (about 20 ounces each) about 2″ thick, patted dry
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil — or other neutral oil
RED CHIMICHURRI SAUCE:
3/4 cup neutral oil
1/4 cup sweet paprika
1/4 cup red pepper flakes
1/4 cup dried oregano — do not use fresh
2 medium garlic cloves — finely grated
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
kosher salt

NOTES: Using this much red pepper flakes seems like WAY too much. You can reduce the amount by about a tablespoon, but apparently the balsamic vinegar tempers the heat. This red chimichurri is not as well known in the U.S. as the green herb style.
1. Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. In a small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoon pepper, the nutmeg and sugar. Measure out and reserve 2 teaspoons of the seasoning mixture, then rub the remainder onto all sides of the steaks, pressing it into the meat. Place the steaks on the prepared rack and refrigerate uncovered for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
2. Heat the oven to 250°F with a rack in the middle position.
3. Place the baking sheet with the steaks in the oven and cook until the centers reach 110°F, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for up to 30 minutes.
4. In a 10- or 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Place the steaks in the skillet and cook, without moving them, until well browned, about 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip the steaks and cook until the second sides are well browned and the centers reach 120°F (for medium-rare), 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Transfer the steaks to a large plate and let rest for 10 minutes. Alternatively, the steaks can be seared for the same time over direct heat on a very hot charcoal or gas grill with a well-oiled grate.
6. Transfer the steaks to a carving board and cut into thin slices. Place on a platter, pour on the accumulated juices and sprinkle with the reserved seasoning mixture.
7. SAUCE: In a small saucepan over low, combine oil, paprika, pepper flakes and oregano. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to bubble, 5-7 minutes. Do not allow it to come to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in garlic. Let cool to room temp.
8. In a medium bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp salt and stir until salt dissolves. Slowly whisk in the cooled oil mixture.
Per Serving: 500 Calories; 42g Fat (73.2% calories from fat); 21g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 47mg Cholesterol; 59mg Sodium; 7g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 71mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 521mg Potassium; 215mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Veggies/sides, on April 5th, 2021.

caesar_style_brussels

Think everything Caesar (garlic, garlic, anchovies, bread crumbs, cheese) and instead of salad, add them to Brussels sprouts.

I don’t remember whether I watched Cook’s Country on TV, or whether this recipe was in one of the magazines – either way, it’s a winner. But then, I love Brussels sprouts just about any way except straight boiled (which is the only way my mother ever made them).

First, make the Caesar-style dressing – lemon juice, mayo, Worcestershire, Dijon, ample garlic, anchovy (I used the tube), S&P and EVOO. I made that up a little ahead of time – actually, my friend Linda made the dressing as she was helping me in the kitchen the night I made this when we were out in Palm Desert. The Brussels were cleaned, trimmed and quartered, then were pan-seared. The panko bread crumbs were toasted in the same pan and then it was all tossed together with the dressing and the Parm on top. SO good.

If you make up the dressing ahead of time, this is an easy dish and quick as well. They also taste wonderful leftover, just so you know . . .

What’s GOOD: with loving Brussels sprouts like I do, everything was “right” about this dish. Easy, and over the top on taste. A keeper.

What’s NOT: not a thing. Great recipe.

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Caesar Brussels Sprouts

Recipe By: Cooks Country Dec/Jan 2019
Serving Size: 5

DRESSING:
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon mustard — Dijon
3 whole garlic cloves — minced
3 whole anchovy fillets — rinsed, minced
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons EVOO
BRUSSELS SPROUTS:
2 pounds Brussels sprouts — trimmed, quartered
5 tablespoons EVOO
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup panko crumbs
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated

1. DRESSING: Whisk juice, mayo, Worcestershire, mustard, garlic, anchovies, pepper and salt in large bowl until combined. Slowly whisk in oil until emulsified; set aside.
2. SPROUTS: Combine Brussels sprouts, 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 tsp salt in 12″ nonstick skillet. Cover skillet, place over med heat; cook, stirring occasionally until Brussels sprouts are bright green and have started to brown, about 10 min.
3. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re deeply and evenly browned and paring knife slides in with little to no resistance, about 5 min. longer. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet and let cool for 15 min. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels.
4. Combine panko, 1/4 tsp salt and remaining 1 T oil in now empty skillet and cook over med heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 2-4 min. Transfer to small bowl and stir in Parm.
5. Add Brussels sprouts to dressing and gently toss to combine. Transfer to serving platter. Sprinkle with panko/cheese mixture and serve.
Per Serving: 312 Calories; 23g Fat (63.5% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 22g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 3mg Cholesterol; 387mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 103mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 778mg Potassium; 149mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Pasta, Vegetarian, on March 30th, 2021.

corn_poblano_chile_lasagna_baked

A combination that is positively made in heaven. Lasagna with a Southwest twist.

Linda_T2My good friend Linda, who lives about 50 miles south of me, (pictured at right) spent a few days with me out in Palm Desert. (We’ve been friends for about 30 years.) We agreed ahead of time that we’d maybe go out to lunch, and would cook dinner in. She cooked dinner one night, and I did it the following evening. This is what Linda made – and oh my goodness – is it ever good. There are a number of recipes here on this blog from my friend Linda, who is an excellent cook. If you do a search (search box top left on my home page) for “Linda,” all of her recipes should come up.

corn_poblano_before_baking

There’s the casserole before baking.

Since I try to reduce carbs, this was a super-treat for me. Lasagna in any form is a treat. But corn and poblano sounded so good. Linda said she was served this lasagna at the home of a friend, and she was SO enamored with it, she wouldn’t leave until the hostess gave her the recipe. Linda has made it many times since then, and has altered the original recipe a little bit.

The original recipe came from Marcela Valladolid (Food Network). In the comments many people increased the number of zucchini, onion, and increased the corn too. And increased the peppers. She did all of those things, and Linda also added just a little bit more to the corn and cream mixture too.

corn_poblano_lasagna_servingSo what is it? It’s lasagna noodles layered with roasted poblano (pasilla) chiles, thinly sliced (and cooked) zucchini, a mixture of corn and cream, and plenty of grated Mozzarella cheese. Linda had made it the morning we went to Palm Desert. She took it in a Rachael Ray Lasagna Lugger, Marine Blue Stripe Casserole Carrier, 13X9. If you don’t own one of these, you should – they are just the best out there. I bought the carrier for her several years ago. I own one too, and it’s rated highly for keeping the temp of things (both hot or cold) better than most other carriers out there.

mex_chop_saladSo I didn’t see all the work that went into making this (yes, it’s a lot), but then making any kind of lasagna is a labor of love, I think! It went into the oven and baked for about 50 minutes, then we turned on the broiler, and it took only a few minutes to get the top really golden brown.

Linda also made Mexican Chopped Salad, a Phillis Carey recipe (picture at right) I’ve had on my blog since 2007. I hadn’t made that salad in a long time, and it went so well with the Southwest style lasagna.

What’s GOOD: the unusual flavors for a lasagna. SO tasty. Different. Worth all the work, Linda says. I absolutely love the unique flavor of poblano/pasilla chiles, so this was a winner in my book!

What’s NOT: This recipe takes a lot of time to make and assemble, requires the use of lots of pots and dishes, plus it’s high fat with cream. The carb count on this is off the charts. You could try to cut this into 10 servings, but I assure you, hungry eaters will go back for a second portion if you do that.

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Corn and Poblano Lasagna

Recipe By: Marcela Valladolid, Food Network
Serving Size: 8

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic — minced
2 1/2 cups frozen corn — thawed, may use fire-roasted style
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large white onion — thinly sliced (on Mandoline preferably)
8 medium poblano chiles — also called pasilla, charred, peeled, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1-inch strips, or use 4-5 if they’re very large
2 medium zucchini — halved crosswise, then thinly sliced, preferably on Mandoline
12 lasagna noodles — plus a couple extra in case of breakage during cooking
3 cups mozzarella cheese — grated, or Oaxaca cheese, reserving 1 cup for the top of the casserole.

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add two-thirds of the garlic and the corn and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in the cream. Add dried thyme. Cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes for the flavors to incorporate. Turn off the heat and let cool slightly. Transfer to a blender and season with the thyme and some salt and pepper, and puree until smooth. Pour out into a 6-cup measuring cup/bowl, so you can measure how much you pour onto each layer.
3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and cook for 1 minute. Mix in the poblano strips and zucchini and cook for 5 minutes for the flavors to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat.
4. Reserve one cup of the grated cheese to put on the top.
5. Spread about one-quarter of the corn mixture over the bottom of an 11-by-8-inch baking dish. Cover with a layer of 3 lasagna sheets. Spread one-quarter of the poblano mixture and one-quarter of the cheese over the pasta. Repeat the layering three more times. Add cheese to top layer. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the casserole (inside dimensions – this is to keep the cheese from sticking to the foil) then cover casserole with foil.
6. Bake until the pasta is cooked and tender, about 50 minutes. Remove the foil and turn up the oven temperature to broil. Broil until golden brown and bubbly, 5 to 8 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Per Serving (this calorie count is too high – I think the recipe program doesn’t interpret the pasta correctly – I think it’s more like 750 calories per serving – still high, but more reasonable than this): 1138 Calories; 55g Fat (43.1% calories from fat); 42g Protein; 121g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 169mg Cholesterol; 466mg Sodium; 9g Total Sugars; 2mcg Vitamin D; 542mg Calcium; 5mg Iron; 685mg Potassium; 668mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Cookies, on March 24th, 2021.

dried_cherry_amaretto_almond_biscotti

See those dark cherries? Soaked in Amaretto. And almonds added too.

In my recipe arsenal I have two biscotti recipes I favor. Both posted here. Most recently my favorite is Chocolate (chip) Anise Biscotti; my other favorite is Chocolate Biscotti. I wanted to try something new, so I dug out some of my cookbooks and found this one in Martha Stewart’s Cookies: The Very Best Treats to Bake and to Share: A Baking Book cookbook. I can’t say that I’ve made very many of the recipes in it, but it’s a huge cookbook. And this one appealed to me. I had dried cherries (Trader Joe’s) and they were soaked in Amaretto I had on hand. I didn’t have whole blanched almonds on hand, but I did have slivered ones, so I chopped those up.

When I bake these days, I’m using more artificial sugar. My current favorite is So Nourished Erythritol Sweetener Granular – 1:1 Sugar Substitute. In this recipe I used a scant half cup of sugar and a scant half cup of the So Nourished sweetener. I cannot taste the artificial sugar at all – in other words, there were no off flavors or the cooling tendency people talk about. Next time I’ll proportion it with more of the erythritol.

The recipe called for sanding sugar – I probably have something in my pantry, but I didn’t add it – can’t say that I missed it. I did use some of the erythritol sprinkled on top, but it was absorbed into the biscotti, so you couldn’t see it once these were baked. I wouldn’t bother doing that.

The dried cherries are gently simmered in the Amaretto, so they’re nice and plump. They’re drained, and the remaining liquid is added to the dough, then the cherries and almonds are added in at the end. I used my stand mixer for all of it. The dough wasn’t hard to shape into logs, they baked easily enough, cooled for a set number of minutes, then I sliced them on the diagonal with a serrated knife, then back onto the cookies sheets to bake some more. The recipe indicates 8 minutes per side, but I think the biscotti needed about another 3-8 minutes of baking to get them dry enough. Once I frozen them, I can’t tell the difference, but when I ate one that was cooled after baking, it kind of broke off like a cookie would. I added those instructions into the recipe below.

What’s GOOD: liked the flavor – you can’t really taste the Amaretto – at least I couldn’t. The cherries, yes. Liked the crunch of the almonds. I put them all in the freezer and bring one out now and then. And they’re plenty firm if you eat them straight out of the freezer – be careful and don’t break a tooth! Yes, I’d make them again.

What’s NOT: nothing, really. I still like my other two favorites better, but these were nice for a change.

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Dried Cherry, Amaretto and Almond Biscotti

Recipe By: Martha Stewart’s Cookies
Serving Size: 36

1 3/4 cups dried cherries
1/2 cup Amaretto liqueur — (almond-flavored liqueur), plus more if needed
3 cups all-purpose flour — plus more for work surface
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt — use coarse if you have it
4 tablespoons unsalted butter — room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar — (may use half artificial sugar)
4 large eggs — (3 whole, 1 lightly beaten)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup blanched almonds — whole or slivered, chopped
3 tablespoons coarse sanding sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat cherries and liqueur in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until cherries have softened, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons liquid. If liquid equals less than 2 tablespoons, add enough liqueur to make 2 tablespoons.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Put butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in 3 whole eggs, one at a time. Mix in reserved cherry liquid and the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and gradually mix in flour mixture. Stir in cherries and almonds.
3. On a lightly floured surface, halve dough. Shape each half into a 12 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch log. Flatten logs to 1/2 inch thick. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with a parchment paper. Brush logs with beaten egg; sprinkle with the sanding sugar.
4. Bake 35 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer to wire racks to cool, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
5. Cut each log on the diagonal into 16 to 18 pieces. Transfer pieces to racks, laying them on sides. Set racks on baking sheets. Bake 8 minutes; flip. Bake 8 minutes more. Test them to see if they’re on the crisp side – may need 3-5 more minutes in the oven. Let cool until crisp.
Per Serving: 127 Calories; 4g Fat (24.9% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 22g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 24mg Cholesterol; 62mg Sodium; 12g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 34mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 69mg Potassium; 65mg Phosphorus.

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