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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 – well, I hope that’s not wishful thinking. They both lead very busy lives, so we’ll see.

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 (from Carolyn):

I wrote up a post about this book: Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World, and the Rebirth of New York by Tom Roston. Go read the full write-up if you’re interested. The book is a complete history of the famous restaurant on the 107th floor of one of the Twin Towers. It tells a detailed chronology of its inception, and all the various  parts that had to come together every day, three meals a day, plus some, to make a mammoth food machine run. I have no background in the restaurant biz, but found the story very interesting. Would make a great gift.

Also recently finished The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. The book goes backwards and forwards in time, from the 1600s in London with the day-to-day lives of a group of Jews (who had to be very careful about how they worshiped) to current day as an old house is discovered to hold a treasure-trove of historical papers. The story is mostly about a young woman, educated, a Jew, who is the scribe (in secret) to an aging religious leader (in a time when women would have been verboten to hold such a position). And about her own curiosity about her religion and how she eventually begins writing letters (using a male pseudonym) to various Jewish leaders abroad, questioning their religious beliefs. The book is extraordinarily long – not that that kept me from turning a single page! – and complex with the cast of characters from the 1600s and the cast in today’s world of highly competitive experts analyzing the ancient papers. Altogether riveting book. Loved it from beginning to end.

I’m forever reading historical novels. The Lost Jewels: A Novel by Kirsty Manning is a mystery of sorts, going back in time in London in the time of aristocrats and their jewels (pearls, diamonds, gems of all kinds) sometimes made it into the hands of the digger or a maid. Then to current time as a young woman tries to ferret her family history and particularly about some old-old jewelry that they can’t quite figure out – how the grandmother came to have them. Fascinating tale.

Not for the faint of heart, Boat of Stone: A Novel by Maureen Earl tells the true tale of some misplaced Jews at the tale-end of WWII who ended up on Mauritius, held captive in a woe begotten prison. It’s about Jewish history, about relationships, and certainly a lot about the starvation and mistreatment (and many died there) of this boat load of people who never should have been sent there. So very sad, but it has bright and hopeful moments toward the end when many of them finally made it to Tel Aviv, their original destination.

Colleen Hoover has written quite a book, It Ends with Us: A Novel, with a love story being the central theme, but again, this book is not for everyone – it can be an awakening for any reader not acquainted with domestic violence and how such injury can emerge as innocent (sort of) but then become something else. There is graphic detail here (was it really necessary? not sure of the answer) so if you don’t like that sort of thing, you might want to pass on this – or else skip by those details when you read it. Women have been victims in so many ways for so many centuries, and it’s hard to read that it’s still a common thing in today’s society.

Barbara Delinsky writes current day fiction. Coast Road is really sweet story. Jack (ex-husband) is called away from his career to care for his two daughters when his ex (Rachel) has an accident and is in a coma. Over the course of weeks, he spends time with his daughters (he was an occasional dad). He also spends a lot of time at his ex’s bedside, getting to know her friends. Through them he learns what went wrong in their marriage. I don’t want to spoil the story. I liked it a lot.

Christina Baker Kline has written quite a story about Tasmania. You may, or may not, remember that my DH and I visited Tasmania about 10 years ago (loved it) and having read a lot about Botany Bay and the thousands of criminal exiles from Britain who were shipped there as slave labor in the 1800s. This book tells a different story. The Exiles: A Novel. This one mostly from a few women who were sentenced to Tasmania. There is plenty of cruelty on several fronts, but there is also kindness and salvation for some. Really good read.

Erin Bartels wrote quite a complex story in The Words between Us: A Novel. We go alongside a young girl as she goes to high school, trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to be anonymous (because her mother and father are both in prison), taking on a fake name. She meets a guy and they share a bond of reading and some romance. Years go by and she’s now owner of a failing independent bookstore (and married, or separated) and suddenly begins receiving a used book (that she recognizes) every day from a different place in the country. A message for sure, but where will it lead? Yes, it’s a romance. Lots of introspection going on. Enjoyed it.

Marion Kummerow wrote an amazing WWII novel. Not Without My Sister. If you don’t like concentration camp stories, pass on this one, but it’s very riveting, much of it at Bergen-Belsen. Two sisters (17 and 4) are separated at the camp. The story switches back and forth between the two sisters’ situations, and yes, the horror of the camp(s), the starvation, the cruelty. But, even though I’m giving away the ending . . . they do get back together again. The story is all about the in between times. Excellent book.

Nicolas Barreau’s novel Love Letters from Montmartre: A Novel  is very poignant, very sweet book. Seems like I’ve read several books lately about grieving; this one has a charming ending, but as anyone who has gone through a grave loss of someone dear knows, you can’t predict day to day, week to week. “Snap out of it,” people say, thinking they’re helping. This book is about a young man, who is a young father also, loses his beloved wife. He’s barely functioning, trying to get through a day, taking care of his young son. And visiting the cemetery (the one in Montmartre, Paris). There are several peripheral characters (his son, a neighbor and best friend of his departed wife, a good fellow friend too, plus a young woman he befriends at the cemetery). Before his wife’s death she asks him to write 33 letters to her after she’s gone, and to put them in a special box hidden in the cemetery monument. And that begins the story.

Another very quirky book, that happens to contain a lot of historical truth is The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World: A Novel by Harry N. Abrams. Set in Japan just after the tsunami 10 years ago when 18,000 people died. At a private park miles away, some very special people installed a phone booth, with a phone (that didn’t work) at the edge of the park, and the survivors of the tsunami began wending their way there to “talk” to their deceased loved ones. Very poignant story.

As you’ve read here many times, I marvel at authors who come up with unusual premises for their books. This one Meet Me in Monaco: A Novel of Grace Kelly’s Royal Wedding. And yes, it IS somewhat about Grace Kelly’s wedding, but most of the novel is about a young woman perfume designer, Sophie, who accidentally rescues Grace Kelly from the relentless photographers who hound her every move.

No question, the most quirky book I’ve read of late, a recommendation from my friend Karen, West with Giraffes: A Novel by Lynda Rutledge. Back in the 1930s a small group of giraffes were brought across the Atlantic from Africa to New York, destined for the then-growing San Diego Zoo. The story is of their journey across the United States in the care of two oh-so-different people, both with a mission.

Also a kind of quirky book by Beth Miller, The Missing Letters of Mrs. Bright. Picture a middle-aged woman, slogging through life with a not-very-attentive husband, grown children, and one day she decides to leave. Completely. Packs up and leaves.

Katherine Center’s book, Things You Save in a Fire: A Novel is certainly vivid. There aren’t very many women firefighters out there in the world – this is about one.

Riveting story of post-WWII- Japan in Ana Johns novel, The Woman in the White Kimono: A Novel. About a young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American serviceman.

Also read Rishi Reddi’s novel, Passage West: A Novel with a very different take on the migration of Indians (East India) to the California agricultural lands east of San Diego during the 1920s and 30s.

Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Mary Morris book, A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime tells the true day to day life of a young Irish girl who becomes a nurse, in England, France and Belgium in the midst of WWII and immediately after the war.

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s. At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. They escape, and they are “on the run.”

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.

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 black woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress.  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, and the second in current day as a group of friends purchase a crumbling chateau. 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. 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. It’s about her journey and escape to America.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice joins the Horseback Librarians in the rural south.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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, who becomes a shepherd. Not just any-old shepherd – actually a well educated one. He knows how to weave 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.

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Posted in Beef, easy, on October 17th, 2021.

This is a post from Sara. FAST & FLAVORFUL.

These days I am without the hustle and bustle of chicks at home as we are officially Empty Nesters.  But I am amazed at how little time I have to make dinner.  So I find myself searching for new quick and healthy recipes.  This is a recipe I found online that is SUPER easy.  I mean 20 mins start to finish easy!  And so tasty.  I was looking for something to do with the ground beef I’d bought that wasn’t tacos, or hamburgers.  And this recipe fit the bill perfectly!  It is so flavorful with a hint of heat.  I added the steamed cauliflower to satisfy my need for veggies.  You could add any type of cooked veggie, frozen would work easily too.  This also made excellent leftovers for lunch the next day.

Starting with the rice since it usually takes 20 mins.  Then I cut and cleaned the fresh cauliflower, dropped it into the steamer to cook.  I began browning the beef and garlic in a shallow pan.  While that was cooking, I mixed the sauce ingredients.  When the beef has no more pink, I added the sauce and let it cook on low for a few mins.  Then I fluffed the rice and was ready to assemble.

I used a bowl, layering the rice, beef then cauliflower.  I topped it with sliced scallions.  My husband enjoyed this dish with a bit of siracha to kick up the spice and a nice IPA (well, not with the leftovers at work!)

This will be a repeat in my rotation for sure!  I imagine one could substitute ground turkey or chicken for the beef, but you may need to increase the spices to give it more flavor.

printer friendly pdf and mastercook file (click link to open recipe)

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Korean Beef and Rice

Serving Size: 4

1 pound lean ground beef
3 cloves garlic — minced
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup soy sauce, low sodium
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 1/2 cups hot cooked rice
3 green onions — thinly sliced
2 cups cauliflower — steamed

1. In a large skillet, cook beef and garlic over medium heat until beef is no longer pink, breaking into crumbles. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix brown sugar, soy sauce, oil and seasonings.
2. Stir sauce into beef, heat through. Serve over rice and cauliflower.
Per Serving: 551 Calories; 26g Fat (43.3% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 85mg Cholesterol; 703mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 3 1/2 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates.

Posted in easy, Fish, on October 1st, 2021.

It’s not often that I repeat a recipe, but this one is just too good to forget.

Way back when, I posted this recipe, one that came from a cooking class with Phillis Carey. And as an aside, Phillis still isn’t doing any in-person cooking classes, and I’ve decided that if I can’t attend a class and taste the food, well, I don’t want to go to an online class. Phillis always made me think outside my box, serving ordinary food but with a different twist or ingredients that I might not have matched with one thing or another. Leeks and salmon are one of those combinations, but I’m telling you true, this is a match made in heaven. My friend Linda T, who lives about an hour south of me, is a big fan of my blog (we’ve been friends for over 30 years), and it may not be a stretch to say that this recipe is one of her all-time favorites.

One of the things I like about it is how EASY and quick it is. All made in one pan. First it’s the chopped leeks (I buy Trader Joe’s because they’re already cleaned – all I have to do it trim the ends and chop) gently sautéed in butter. Do this over low heat so they don’t burn (like mine did, see photo above). Then the salted and peppered salmon is laid on top of the leek bed, and you add in some dry white wine (I used vermouth), grated orange rind, thyme and some cream. The salmon is very gently simmered (covered) for about 8-10 minutes (depending on the thickness). I used my instant-read thermometer and it was thoroughly cooked in 8 minutes. If using wild salmon, 5-7 minutes probably. Meanwhile I’d cooked some rice with a tad of lime juice and more orange zest, and a pan of sautéed zucchini too. The original recipe called for a little tiny bit of sugar, but I didn’t use any, and I can’t say that it made a difference. I did have to add a little more cream, as most of it boiled away during the gentle simmering. Add water, cream, or a bit more wine if yours dries up. I’d made a half of a recipe and 2 leeks needed a bit more liquid to make it all come together.

Dinner was prepped and done in about 25 minutes total time. My granddaughter Taylor nearly licked the plate. Seriously. I did, too. Fortunately, I made enough for 2 meals, so we’ll have leftovers in a night or two. This is certainly a meal fit for company, and easy enough for a weeknight family meal also. Do make pasta or rice on the side to sop up any sauce remaining on the plate.

What’s GOOD: first off, it’s all about the leeks. Once cooked and simmered, they take on a very mellow flavor, but they add startlingly lovely accents to this sauce. Altogether delicious.

What’s NOT: only that you must have leeks and cream on hand to make this work.

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Salmon Fillets with Orange and Leeks

Recipe By: Phillis Carey, cooking instructor
Serving Size: 6

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large leeks — halved, white and pale green parts only, sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
6 pieces salmon fillets
1 teaspoon orange zest
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup dry white wine — or orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh chives — cut in 1-inch lengths, garnish

1. Melt butter in heavy, large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and sprinkle with sugar and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté 4 minutes. Reduce heat, cover, and cook until very soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
2. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Arrange atop leeks and sprinkle with orange zest. Add cream and wine. Cover pot again and cook until fish is opaque, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer fish to plates and keep warm. If using thinner (wild) salmon, cook for 4-8 minutes, depending on thickness. Fish is done when the internal temp reaches 135°F.
3. Boil sauce until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over fish. Garnish with chives.
Per Serving: 678 Calories; 32g Fat (43.6% calories from fat); 82g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 342mg Cholesterol; 219mg Sodium; 4g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 103mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 1849mg Potassium; 1164mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Desserts, on September 27th, 2021.

Such heavenly flavor from the almond paste in the cake. Beautiful to look at, too.

A post from Carolyn.  I’ve been a long-time follower of Luisa Weiss, from The Wednesday Chef blog. Some years ago she moved to Germany (Berlin, I think) and now has a venerable cookbook to her name, Classic German Baking. She’s a baker of the first order – my opinion from having made a few of her things over the years. Although I don’t own her cookbook. But occasionally one of her cookbook recipes pops up, this one on David Lebovitz‘s blog. I quick-like made sure to save it. So glad I did.

First off, though, you need to know that I’m a big fan of almond paste. It’s an intense almond flavor, and since it’s finely ground almonds and sugar, you can’t just add it to another recipe unless it’s called for. And as many of you have discovered, almond paste doesn’t keep on your kitchen pantry shelf for all that long. A few months at the most. After that it gets dried up and turns into the texture of a rock! I’ve learned that from experience. As I type this I have a 2nd tube of it on my shelf that needs to be used sometime soon before it’s over the hill.

When the 1st of September rolls around, my cooking brain begins to think about apples. I begin to long for cooler nights (hasn’t happened yet, as I write this), and cooler days as well (that won’t happen until mid-October here in SoCal). One year – decades ago – my DH and I took a driving trip in the New England states during September, and I was awed by the side-of-the-road fruit stands with baskets and barrels, displayed within inches of the paved road, just overflowing with apples I’d rarely heard of before, like Northern Spy, Empire, Macoun. Well, perhaps I’d read about them, but never tasted any. Is it because they don’t ship well? Probably they don’t do well with long-term storage? I’d never seen any of them in California. We ate some in the car, we bought some apple juice, and also used some of the apples in baking when we returned to Philadelphia to stay on with our friends Judy and Jerry. I have no recollection what I baked, but something. We all bought apples, and when we left to fly home, THEY still had apples overflowing in their 2nd refrigerator. I probably could have put a few in my suitcase that wouldn’t have been discovered (you aren’t supposed to bring raw fruit into California). What I did do, after I got home, was go online to one of the farms we’d stopped at, and ordered a 25-pound box of mixed apples to be shipped. What a treasure those were. Haven’t done that since, but it was fun.

So, back to this cake. This cake is a real winner . . . I’m just sayin’. Lovely moist cake (with some cubed-up apples in the batter) baked in a springform, with sliced apples angle-shingled on top, then baked to perfect tenderness, and then some apricot jam is brushed on top to let it glisten. This cake lasted for several days. I served it at that lunch I mentioned before, with some of my old employees from 25+ years ago. I sent slices home with several of them, and Taylor and I ate the rest.

There, at right, is an image of the about-to-be-baked cake. You nestle the apple slices into the batter – pressing in just a little. I used Granny Smith apples, and they held their shape well. In fact, some of those slices on the top were still bite-able. Not crisp, but certainly plenty of apple texture.

Thanks to Monica from Playing with Flour, for the photo

One of the interesting techniques mentioned in this recipe (one you need to remember) is to GRATE the almond paste using a box grater. Even the freshest of almond paste can sometimes be a bit firm, and I’ve always wondered how to best disperse it in a cake batter. A-ha moment with the grater.

Forgetting to take a photo of this genius technique, I found an image on the web, from PlayingwithFlour. Monica used a fine-grind. My tube of almond paste was perhaps a month old, and I couldn’t grate it finely, but did it using slightly larger holes on another side of my box grater. And it seemed to disperse easily in the cake batter. Hooray!

Luisa didn’t say to serve the cake with anything, but I had a tub of crème fraiche, so each piece got a dollop of that when I plated it.

What’s GOOD: everything about this cake was marvelous. Can’t say enough good things about it. Love-loved the intense almond flavor (from the almond paste) and the tender cake itself. Loved how beautiful it was. I served it at the table on a cake stand. So pretty! My recollection is that everyone loved the cake. Cake was easy to make. I’ll definitely make this again.

What’s NOT: only that you need a fresh tube of almond paste.
printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

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German Apple Almond Cake

Recipe By: Luisa Weiss, blogger, Classic German Baking (cookbook)
Serving Size: 10

4 medium apples — (1 3/4 pounds, 800g)
1 lemon — zested and juiced
7 ounces almond paste
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons unsalted butter — melted and cooled
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 large eggs — at room temperature
1 cup flour — plus 3 tablespoons (150g)
9 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder — preferably aluminum free
1/4 cup apricot jam — strained if lumpy

1. Butter a 9- to 10-inch (23cm) springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. Peel and core the apples. Divide the lemon juice into two separate bowls. Slice two of the peeled and cored apples into 8 sections, and toss the apple slices in one bowl of lemon juice. Dice the other two apples into 1/3-inch (1cm) cubes, then toss them in the other bowl of lemon juice. The cubed apples are added to the cake batter; the sliced apples are placed on top.
3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
4. Using a grater with large holes, grate the almond paste into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and salt and mix until the almond paste is finely broken up.
5. Add the melted butter, almond extract, and lemon zest, and continue mixing until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
6. Whisk together the flour, cornstarch and baking powder in a small bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the almond batter mixture by hand, then fold in the diced apples, along with any lemon juice in the bowl.
7. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Place the sliced apples in concentric circles on top of the batter, pressing them in very lightly.
8. Bake the cake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. If using a 9″ springform pan (meaning the batter is higher), it might take an extra few minutes to get the very center cooked through.
9. Remove the cake from the oven. Warm the apricot jam in a small saucepan and brush it over the top while the cake is hot. Let the cake cool completely, then run a knife around the inside of the cake pan to release the cake, and remove the sides of the cake pan. Keeps at room temp for a day or more; refrigerate after that.
Per Serving: 465 Calories; 24g Fat (44.7% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 60g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 117mg Cholesterol; 226mg Sodium; 36g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 129mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 227mg Potassium; 213mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beverages, Brunch, on September 20th, 2021.

What’s different about this one? Mostly it’s about the lime juice.

A post from Carolyn. For several years now I’ve subscribed to a magazine that, on the surface, if you know me, wouldn’t be one you’d think I’d read – it’s called Garden & Gun. Yes, about gardens and guns. But, the gun part usually comprises one page in each issue, and gardens maybe 4-6 pages. But in between all those other pages are interesting essays on a variety of things South. Everything from an article about a dog, about travel in our Southern states, and certainly some pages of home décor and food. The truth of the matter is that I don’t garden. And I have little to no interest in guns. But those other pages do interest me.

Julia Reed was a venerable icon in the food world. She died of cancer some years ago and has been missed sorely by so many others in the food arena. In a recent issue of Garden & Gun the editor wrote a tribute to Julia Reed, and about why he love-loves Julia Reed’s mother’s recipe of the mixture.  Looking at it – the recipe – it didn’t seem to contain anything very different than any other one I’ve read. I’m surely not a connoisseur of Bloody Marys, but for whatever reason the article prompted me to make them one evening when I invited friends over for dinner.

First off, I needed a lot of limes – so I bought those little net bags of them (3 bags, in fact, about 8-10 in each one) and used all but about 3 individual limes to get enough lime juice (about 3/4 cup) to serve 4 people. What this recipe does contain is a bit more lime juice than most other recipes. You might think it would overpower the drink; it didn’t. Not at all. I’d purchased a “better” brand of canned (bottled) tomato juice. What would make it “better,” I cannot tell you – I did look at the nutrition to see about the sodium in the bottle. None of them were low sodium, but I wasn’t going to buy the run-of-the-mill brand and sought a different label. It was probably $.20 higher than Campbell’s.

The recipe suggested celery stalks and pickled okra as garnishes. Well, I didn’t want to spend over $5.00 for a jar of pickled okra that probably would never be eaten after that day, so I bought dehydrated okra and put one in each glass (see the one sticking up in the left glass in the photo above?). Once it soaked in the Bloody Mary for 5-10 minutes, it was still crunchy on the inside and semi-soft on the outside. It was good. Not pickled, however.

Making the mixture was certainly easy – adding the tomato juice, the lime juice, a ton of Worcestershire sauce, a little bit of salt (I scanted the quantity), a dollop of prepared horseradish, some pepper plus some Tabasco. And of course, some vodka. My friend Cherrie’s husband Bud did the honors of adding the vodka, pouring and handing out the drinks.

What’s GOOD: what can I say? – I thought it was a really good Bloody Mary. I liked the amount of lime juice – it didn’t make you pucker-up – it was just right. I could taste the Worcestershire, which I liked. Loved the dehydrated okra in it (and the remaining ones will be eaten because it makes a good veggie snack). Altogether good recipe, and yes, if and when I make Bloody Marys again, I’ll definitely use this recipe.

What’s NOT: only that you need to procure the various ingredients (have them chilled).

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

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Bloody Mary Mix from Julia Reed

Recipe By: Julia Reed’s mother, Judy, via Garden & Gun
Serving Size: 4

3 cups tomato juice — NOT V-8
5/8 cup lime juice — freshly squeezed
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes Tabasco sauce — or other hot sauce, or more if you like it spicy
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt — optional if the juice is high in sodium
1/2 tablespoon prepared horseradish
Cracked pepper
Vodka, to taste
GARNISHES: celery sticks, pickled okra (or dehydrated okra), lime wheel

1. Stir together first 6 ingredients. Add cracked pepper to taste. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days.
2. Pour vodka in each glass, pour in the Bloody Mary mix and top with a stem of celery with plenty of leaves, a piece of pickled okra (or a dehydrated one, submerged in the Bloody Mary) and a wheel of fresh lime.
Per Serving (not including the vodka): 55 Calories; 1g Fat (7.9% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 1118mg Sodium; 7g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 43mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 582mg Potassium; 51mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Books, on September 15th, 2021.

A post from Carolyn. I don’t know about you, but over this last week, reliving the events of 9/11 have been heartwrenching. Will we ever un-see the devastation of those planes plunging into the Twin Towers? I doubt it. I remember being riveted to the TV that day back in 2001, wanting to know more and feeling further wrenched when we did, with the tumbling-down of both buildings. Knowing about all the people stuck on those upper floors. Seeing firefighters entering both buildings, seeing people streaming out, some covered in muck. On Sept. 12th (last week) I watched a documentary about it all, and found myself sobbing as I again felt the surreal impact of those planes as I watched TV. I cried and cried.

For a long, long time after 9/11 I couldn’t read a book about it. It was too painful. But I kept up with whatever news came about, but I couldn’t bring myself to read a book, and there were many. I was so proud of our country and the coming together we did as a nation. And here it is, 20 years later, and as I perused a table at my local library, there was a book about Windows on the World – the restaurant. I picked it up – I think I was the first person to check out the book.

This book, The Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World, and the Rebirth of New York isn’t just about what happened on 9/11 (in fact, only 10-15 pages of it, at the end, explains much about the people who were already at work that tragic morning and ended up stuck on the 106th and 107th floors) but the book is about the entire life-history of the restaurant itself. And the people who ran it and worked there.

It is about its inception, how the name came about, who designed it, the architecture of the building itself, to the architecture/design within the many restaurants in the Twin Towers, all operating under the same umbrella. Even down to the little things like the silverware and dishes. About the hundreds of people who worked there, from the chefs, sous-chefs, captains, waiters, busboys, delivery folk, the wine guy, and a lot about Joe Baum, the guy who conceived the restaurant and brought it into being with long and detailed negotiations with the Port Authority who actually financed and owned the buildings. James Beard played a major consulting role at Windows, did you know that? Imagine the procuring of all the food, and how it was stored. And it’s about the electric ranges (yes, electric – that was quite interesting – the Port Authority felt pumping gas up 107 floors was too dangerous and they were probably right), and about the charcoal grill that was allowed. About the menus, and the various food tastings that took place over the many decades. About the food reviews from various newspapers, the ups and downs of relationships – who was in charge, who gave the orders, and the various in-fighting that occurred.

I’ve never worked in a restaurant, so have no first-hand knowledge of the hierarchy of a restaurant other than what I’ve picked up by reading Anthony Bourdain (gee, I miss that TV show of his too) and from watching the Food Network. Even if you come from a restaurant background, I expect this Windows book would be delightful reading. I always wanted to eat at Windows but never did. Not sure why – just never got around to it. (Of course, living in California had something to do with that!).

The writer of the book, Tom Roston, did a masterful job of bringing all the disparate parts of the story together, with enough personal-interest stories about the people, to make you want to keep reading. I think this book would make a great gift if you have someone in your family in the restaurant business. Or read it yourself if you have interest in Windows. Maybe you did eat there and have good memories of it. Well worth reading. I devoured it. There are no recipes in the book, just so you know, although there were mentions of a famous Venice Wine Cake (a well kept secret by Rozanne Gold, and never on a Windows’ menu) and a variety of comfort foods like Irish Stew, and plenty of international foods that lived a long or short life on the Windows’ menus. Also an interesting story about Blue Trout. All very interesting.

Posted in Salad Dressings, Salads, on September 13th, 2021.

What a beautiful summer bounty. 

A post from Carolyn. Following Ree Drummond’s recipe for this wasn’t quite going to work for me – – as I needed to change in/out a few things. Believe it or not, I couldn’t find green beans that day. Really? So asparagus had to work. Salmon I bought at Costco, multi-colored cherry tomatoes I had; hard boiled eggs are always in my frig as well as Kalamata olives. And Romaine too. All I did was change the salad dressing from Ree’s bottled dressing with a few add-ins, to one of my favorite Caesar dressings, the Caesar Caper Parmesan that uses mayo as the base. That recipe came from Phillis Carey, many, many years ago. Only thing I did this time was add a tetch of anchovy paste, which amped-up the full-bodied garlicky flavor of the dressing.

What fun I had making this. I’d invited four women who used to work for me, decades ago, at the ad agency I co-owned. I’d been part of the hiring of each of them, and one of my jobs, always, was training new hires. We also FaceTime(d) with another one who currently lives in Arizona, and it had been about 20 years since I’d been in touch with her. We told so many stories, shared so many laughs. It was a warm day and serving a salad was a given. I’d watched Pioneer Woman make a similar one. So I used her base recipe as the start.

For me, I prepped most of the ingredients the day before – the asparagus, the hard boiled eggs, the tomatoes, even the Romaine lettuce that I carefully cut into 1/3-cut wedges. I made the dressing, cooked the potatoes (although you’ll notice, I forgot to put them on the platter – geez!), chopped the Italian parsley. The day of – an hour or so before – I roasted the salmon. It’s put onto a baking sheet lined with foil, sprayed with EVOO, salt and pepper and baked for a mere 10 minutes at 425°F. Once cooled, I forked it into small to mid-sized flakes.

Digging out the largest platter I own (it’s really big, usually used for Thanksgiving turkey) I began composing the salad. I placed the Romaine down first, then began adding the colorful parts around the sides, with salmon at one end and eggs at the other. Then I plopped globs of dressing down the center of the Romaine and sprinkled it all with Italian parsley. Done. What this salad isn’t is a true Nicoise, which must contain green beans, and usually uses canned tuna (you can order Nicoise at most French cafes any day of the week). And potatoes are included, plus some kind of Mediterranean olive, usually Kalamata, but could be other types too. And it’s usually done with a vinaigrette of some kind. Not Caesar.

Same salad, this time with ahi tuna, seared quickly, green beans, asparagus, hard boiled eggs, more tomatoes plus  avocadoes. 

This salad was a real winner. For sure. The picture above is the same meal, but made with  ahi tuna – very quickly seared with just a little rub of EVOO, salt and pepper. Since this was a dinner, I used halved Romaine hearts (for a bit more lettuce on each serving). This time I did have green beans, and I had sufficient salad dressing left over to serve it. No potatoes since I try to do less carbs. It made for another lovely, colorful platter of food which was almost all polished off in one sitting. The tiny bit of leftovers I had for lunch the next day. Yum. I bought one pound of fresh ahi, seared it in my stovetop grill pan for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side, then sliced thinly with a very sharp straight-edged knife.

What’s GOOD: everything about this was good, in my book. The dressing was perfect for the lively flavors (salmon or ahi, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, even asparagus). Loved how beautiful the platter came out – it’s a stunner! Most everything can be done the day before which makes for easy plating.

What’s NOT: does require a moderate amount of prep work (cooking green beans or asparagus, potatoes, hard boiled eggs, even the salmon (the ahi was extra-simple to do), also cutting the tomatoes, pitting olives if you need to do that – I buy pitted ones – and carefully cutting the Romaine into 1/3 wedges), packaging everything up until the right moment to plate and serve. But worth the trouble. Everything except the salmon (or ahi) and cutting avocadoes can be done the day ahead.

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Salmon Nicoise Caesar

Recipe By: Adapted from Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman
Serving Size: 4

12 ounces Yukon gold potatoes — baby sized, traditional, but optional
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces green beans — or asparagus
1 pound salmon fillet — skinned (can also be made with seared ahi tuna)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon — zested and juiced
3/4 cup Caesar Caper Parmesan Dressing (below)
2 hearts Romaine lettuce — whole, cut in third/wedges and cored
4 hard-boiled eggs — cooled, peeled and halved
2 cups cherry tomatoes — halved lengthways
1/4 cup Kalamata olives — or other Mediterranean olive of your choice
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated, for garnish
parsley leaves — for garnish
CAESAR CAPER PARM DRESSING:
4 whole garlic cloves
1 cup mayonnaise — Best Foods
2 1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon capers — heaping, drained
1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste — or more if you like the flavor
2 1/2 tablespoons EVOO
1 1/4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1. Boil the potatoes in a pot of salted water until tender, about 10 minutes, then halve and set aside to cool.
2, Cook the green beans or asparagus in a small pot of boiling salted water for 2-4 minutes, then remove and plunge into ice water. Drain and pat dry. Set aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with foil. Put the salmon on the prepared baking sheet, skin-side down. Brush with the olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the salmon and set aside to cool slightly, then flake into large chunks with a fork.
4. Make the dressing: Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl – start with the anchovy paste to make sure it is dispersed, then mix well.
6. Arrange the Romaine wedges in the middle of a very large platter. Group the green beans, eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, olives and salmon on top and around the lettuces. Spoon globs of the dressing on the Romaine wedges. Garnish with Parmesan and parsley leaves. Serve with more dressing at the table.
Per Serving (assumes you use all the dressing): 704 Calories; 38g Fat (47.0% calories from fat); 42g Protein; 55g Carbohydrate; 17g Dietary Fiber; 284mg Cholesterol; 776mg Sodium; 18g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 319mg Calcium; 10mg Iron; 2444mg Potassium; 667mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Breads, on September 6th, 2021.

Lots of savory flavors here – with goat cheese inside and Parm on top

Last week I hosted a luncheon – a ladies lunch – with some friends who used to work at the ad agency I co-owned. We’ve gotten together over the years but it had been awhile – for most of us it had been since 2014 when many of them attended my DH (dear husband)’s memorial service. And I certainly had no time that day to visit with them! So I invited four of them, and as we sipped some lovely Moet-Chandon champagne that two of them brought for us to share, we FaceTimed with another one of the group who lives in Arizona. None of us had seen or talked to her for years. It’s so fun to gather together and get caught up, and we had a lot of catching up to do! Mostly grandchildren added to the mix, and me with 2 great-grands. And I proclaimed that I’d just turned 80 – oh my, aghast! They were all kind enough to say no, I didn’t look 80. Some days I feel like it!!

In the weeks to come, you’ll see all three of the recipes I served that day – all new recipes. Except for a salad dressing I chose to use. I served a salmon Niçoise salad, these biscuits, and an apple-almond cake. Stay tuned for all of them.

So, these biscuits – easy peasy! You just need to have plain yogurt on hand and some goat cheese. Everything else is mostly a staple in my house (biscuit-making ingredients + grated Parm). The original recipe called for using a muffin scoop to do drop biscuits, but I decided to make regular round, shaped (cut round) biscuits. The making of them was the same, I merely poured the dough out onto my countertop, patted and shaped, then cut and put them in a 9×9 pan that had been buttered. The original recipe had you heat up a 10-inch iron frying pan, melt the butter, then put in the biscuits. It was a warm day and I didn’t feel like doing all that; hence I shaped and cut them as mentioned above.

The tops are gently buttered, then they’re baked, then some grated Parm put on top (kind-a sticks to the butter). Served warm – oh yum. Really tender biscuits. The original recipe came from a cookbook by Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes. I’m certain I borrowed the book from the library – some years ago even – and this was a recipe from that book. The cookbook is a compilation of essays about bread and wine, as I recall, with plenty of recipes as well. Love those kinds of cookbooks. I’m such a sucker for stories about recipes.

What’s GOOD: tender – delicious – tasty with the savory hint of yogurt and goat cheese. It was hard to tell quite what was in them. I knew of course, but my guests did not. They were a hit. Half were eaten, the other half are in the freezer.

What’s NOT: nothing unless you don’t have plain yogurt and goat cheese on hand.

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Goat Cheese Biscuits

Recipe By: Shauna Niequist, “Bread and Wine” essay cookbook
Serving Size: 12

2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup plain yogurt — full fat Greek style
4 tablespoons cold butter
4 tablespoons goat cheese — crumbled
2 tablespoons butter — melted (for pan and brushed on top)
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated

1. Preheat oven to 425°F and place a 10-inch iron pan into oven while it’s preheating.
2. Pour flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Cut 4 T of butter into small pieces and add to the bowl, with the goat cheese and the yogurt. Use a pastry blender, or stir until the mix is moistened, adding an extra tablespoon of yogurt if needed.
3. Remove skillet from oven and place a tablespoon of butter into it. When butter has melted, divide batter into 12 biscuits, each about the size of a golf ball and then nestle them into the pan. They’ll be snuggled in very closely. Start around the edge, then add remaining to the center.
4. Brush tops of biscuits with a tablespoon of melted butter. Bake for 14-16 minutes until browned on the top and bottom. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the Parm.
VARIATION: Mold the dough in a flat disc and use round cutter to make 12 biscuits. Pour half the melted butter in a 9×9 pan and spread out to the edges. Place biscuits in pan and bake for about 18 minutes (if you don’t use the super-hot iron skillet, the biscuits take a bit longer and don’t take on as much golden brown color). Add Parm on top as soon as you take the pan out of the oven. Serve warm.
Per Serving: 158 Calories; 8g Fat (46.2% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 22mg Cholesterol; 553mg Sodium; 1g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 130mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 64mg Potassium; 176mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Breads, Brunch, on August 30th, 2021.

Tender coffeecake with a streak of cocoa and cinnamon in the middle.

Surprising to me that I’d not posted this recipe before, since it’s been in my recipe arsenal since the 1960s, when my first husband’s grandmother, Ethel, served this one day for a mid-morning Sunday breakfast. I was taken with it then, and still have the same liking of it now.

During many Christmas mornings in years past I’ve made this coffeecake, arising early to put it together quickly, because the night before I’d set out everything I could, made the topping and set it aside, let the butter warm on the countertop to make it easy to beat into the sugar and egg mixture. This requires 2 cups of sour cream – wow! I wonder if half could be substituted with buttermilk, and soda added? I wasn’t willing to make substitutions this time because I had a group of women coming over to listen to me talk about a recent favorite book, This Tender Land: A Novel by William Kent Krueger. (If you’re interested in the book, go to my sidebar, it’s listed there at the moment with a little snippet about the story.)

This makes a 9×13 pan full of coffeecake – and depending upon how you cut it, it could serve at least 20 if not more. It’s rich, but not decadent type of rich. Has the little streak of cocoa/cinnamon/sugar through it and more on top. It’s not at all difficult – you make the topping and set it aside. Then the batter goes together and you pour half of it into the greased pan, then sprinkle half the topping over it, then the remaining batter, and the remaining topping sprinkled all over the top. Use a knife to swirl a little – you can see the imprint of the knife as I swirled all over the coffeecake. Into a 350° oven it goes and 45 minutes later it’s done.

What’s GOOD: the cake part is so very tender, and love the little bit of cocoa in it. It’s not overpoweringly chocolate – just a scent of it in each bite. Altogether delicious. It’s been a “keeper” of mine for over 60 years.

What’s NOT: absolutely nothing at all.

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Chocolate Sour Cream Coffeecake

Recipe By: Grandma Bruce, grandmother of my first husband
Serving Size: 16

TOPPING:
4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
BATTER:
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 pound butter — or margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
4 whole eggs
2 cups sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla

NOTES: This was a family favorite on Christmas morning. I think I usually added more cocoa because I liked it with a more chocolate flavor. The night before I’d mix up everything I could so it wouldn’t take too much time to get it into the oven.
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In separate bowl combine topping: cocoa, sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
3. Combine margarine, sugar, eggs, vanilla and sour cream in mixer and mix well. Then add flour, baking powder, cream of tartar and soda.
4. Pour half of the batter into an oiled 9×13 pan, then sprinkle half of the topping over it, then pour in remaining batter. Use a knife and swirl the batter a little, then sprinkle remaining topping on top. Bake for 45 minutes.
Per Serving: 431 Calories; 18g Fat (36.5% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 64g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 91mg Cholesterol; 366mg Sodium; 38g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 132mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 111mg Potassium; 198mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Soups, on August 23rd, 2021.

A dry soup? Well, it’s a conundrum. Here it means you add a bunch of things (avocado, chicken, tortilla chips, bacon, sour cream and cilantro) to a bowl, then you add (pour) in an amount of fairly thick, chunky “soup.”

A post from Carolyn. This soup is very hard to describe. And I haven’t made it in years and years – before I started writing this blog in 2007. It is a Phillis Carey recipe, from a class I took from her many, long years ago. But I’ve modified it a little bit – mostly made it thicker. What this soup is not is a traditional chicken tortilla soup. Bacon? Probably not. Everything else – of the ingredients – is traditional – but it’s not served in a traditional way.

The base of the soup comes from dried chiles. They provide a depth of flavor you just can’t get from fresh ones. I had on hand some various types – and didn’t have ancho (those are dried poblanos). But I did have dried Anaheim, Cascabel and New Mexico ones, so I used a combination – with very few New Mexico ones as they would be the hottest. I removed all of the seeds, since the heat comes more from seeds than from the skin/shell. Once chopped up, they went into a food processor to mince more finely, then canned tomatoes were added and garlic. Also some broth to make the mixture more fluid. I like this soup chunkier – not big chunks – but didn’t want it to be a puree, either. Use your own judgment about this.

That mixture is simmered for 10-15 minutes, with some added oregano. There is some chicken broth in this, and you may use your own preference on how much. I liked the thicker style. Meanwhile I cooked some chicken breasts (or buy the ready-made ones and make sure they’re warm when you serve them), chopped the cilantro, made the tortilla chips (actually I did that first thing), chopped and cooked the bacon and got out the sour cream. And crumbled Cotija (or you can use shredded Jack), and diced avocado. Then you hand each diner a bowl – a dry bowl – and they put in what they want from the various condiments. Then you use a measuring cup (about a cup per person) to pour the soup part into the side of the bowl. If you pour it on top, everything is submerged. You want to see some of it.

For me, this soup is all about texture. The crispy tortilla chips, the chicken, the cilantro, the bacon, even the sour cream. And the background is the sort-of chunky soup poured in last on the edge, so you can still see the chunks of whatever you’ve chosen to add to the bowl. Afterwards, put the tortilla strips in a sealing plastic bag and they’ll keep for several days. Everything else will refrigerate well and make for a quick 2nd meal a night or two later. Add in your own extra condiments – maybe shredded cabbage, some tiny cherry tomatoes, halved, some green onion? Or two different kinds of cheese, perhaps?

What’s GOOD: as mentioned above, it’s all about texture for me. Loved the flavors (from the dried chiles, most likely) and cooling notes from the sour cream and Cotija cheese. Altogether delicious, and easily refrigerated for another meal in a day or two.

What’s NOT: only that you do need dried chiles – I keep several on hand always – and they keep forever. Try to seek out the ancho. Otherwise this soup is easy to make and really tasty. Nothing to complain about at all.

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Dry Chicken Tortilla Soup

Recipe By: Adapted from a Phillis Carey recipe
Serving Size: 8

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 whole corn tortillas — cut in strips
4 ounces dried ancho chilies — rinsed and seeded
1 ounce dried New Mexico chiles — rinsed and seeded
30 ounces canned tomatoes — crushed, with juices
1 small onion — cut in chunks
6 large garlic cloves — peeled
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 1/2 cups chicken breast — cooked, shredded or cubed (and warmed just before serving)
2 cups Monterey jack cheese — grated, or Cotija cheese, crumbled
4 pieces bacon — cooked and crumbled
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups avocado — diced
3/4 cup cilantro — chopped

NOTE: If you puree this soup mixture in a blender it will make it very smooth – I prefer a more chunky style, hence the food processor is better for this. If sodium is a concern, use low-sodium tomatoes. If you are sensitive to heat from chiles, use fewer of them and make sure to remove every single seed from inside each one. The New Mexican are the hotter ones. Ancho chiles are dried poblano peppers.
1. In a wide pan heat oil and sauté the tortilla strips until golden brown. Remove to paper towel to drain. Keep the oil in the pan.
2. Open the dried chiles and discard all the seeds. Cut the chiles into small chunks. Pour into a food processor and finely chop. You may need to scrape down the bowl one or more times. Add canned tomatoes, onions and garlic to the processor and coarsely chop. Add some of the broth if it’s too thick.
2. Then pour the mixture in the food processor into the pan, with the remaining broth and simmer over medium heat, adding oregano. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Can be made several hours ahead. Heat to a simmer when ready to serve. You may add more broth if you prefer a more brothy soup.
3. SERVING: Prepare all the additions (warmed chicken, cheese, bacon, avocado, sour cream and cilantro) and set out in a row. Serve the dry soup bowl to each person, ask them to add the condiments they want. Then take the bowl to the soup pot and using a measuring cup, pour about a cup of soup at the side so some of the chunky stuff floats.
Per Serving: 661 Calories; 48g Fat (64.1% calories from fat); 37g Protein; 23g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 120mg Cholesterol; 787mg Sodium; 6g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 542mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 849mg Potassium; 565mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Cookies, on August 16th, 2021.

Oh yum. Chocolate. Walnuts. Raisins. In a rich cookie. What’s there not to like?

A post from Carolyn. When I was a young-un, I read The Yearling, written by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. To this day I remember liking the book and I can’t tell you a thing about the story, other than it was set in Florida. But Rawlings’ name rolled off my tongue enough that I never forgot her name. Then I read her book, Cross Creek. Years went by and when I was visiting my first husband’s grandmother, I perused her cookbooks one day and noticed Cross Creek Cookery. My recollection is that I borrowed the book from her, and enjoyed reading the snippets of stories about her. And her recipes. Decades slipped by and I was reading a blog about Maida Heatter’s recipes (I do own two of her cookbooks) and up popped a recipe from Rawlings. I saved the recipe. Today was the day I finally got around to making them.

I don’t have the original recipe from Rawlings, but I have Heatter’s revised recipe, that contains no leavening (except eggs) and has the addition of some coffee. So the story goes. Heatter was driving across Florida, stopped at a gas station and inside, the owner served up a “brownie” that was (supposedly) Rawlings’ recipe. But the woman at the gas station was the one who added coffee. Maybe some one of my readers owns that Rawlings cookbook and can share the differences from there to here. Heatter thought they were more cookie than brownie, so they became such. Not sure if Rawlings’ original was called a brownie or a cookie.

Whatever they were called originally, the cookies are simple to make. The only slightly time consuming effort was to melt the unsweetened chocolate with the coffee. And cool it a bit before adding it to the butter-eggs mixture, then the eggs went in and flour; then the additions (walnuts, raisins [I used golden because that’s what I had on my pantry shelf] and chocolate chips). I used 3 cups of walnuts, not 4, which was in the original recipe. The batter is gooey – it’s not thin – but it’s certainly not moldable in your hands; far too wet for that, but using a spring-loaded cookie scoop they easily went onto cookie sheets and didn’t spread a bit. Mine baked for exactly 13 minutes and were done. Once cooled on a wire rack, they went into freezer bags and into the freezer for longer storage. I offered to take cookies to a reception following a memorial service for a dear friend’s husband, and she asked if her PEO sisters would bake cookies. Of course! When have I ever turned down the opportunity to bake cookies? . . . just as long as I get to keep just a few for myself!

What’s GOOD: just a lovely, fudgy, but cake-like cookie. Nice intense chocolate flavor. Like the chew with the addition of walnuts, raisins and chocolate chips. I’d definitely make them again.

What’s NOT: nothing that I can think of.

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Chocolate Cookies

Recipe By: Adapted from Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings by Maida Heatter
Serving Size: 60

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup espresso — or dissolve 4 tsp of instant coffee granules in water
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate — coarsely chopped
6 ounces unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup raisins — black or golden
3 cups walnuts — chopped coarsely
2 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and cover cookie sheets with parchment paper. Sift together the flour and salt and set aside.
2. Place unsweetened chocolate in a small saucepan with the espresso and melt over very, very low heat (definitely don’t allow it to burn), and stir until smooth. Remove from heat, stir and allow to cool for about 3-4 minutes.
3. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter until soft. Add the vanilla and then gradually add the sugar, beating until mixed. Add the chocolate mixture and mix well (it is okay if the mixture is still warm).
4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating them in well. On low speed, add the flour mixture and beat just until mixed. Stir in the raisins, nuts and chocolate morsels.
5. Use a spring-loaded cookie scoop if possible, or use two spoons together to scoop and place on the parchment paper about 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes, reversing the pans halfway through baking. The cookies are done when they barely spring back when pressed. Do not overbake. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Per Serving: 192 Calories; 12g Fat (57.1% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 20mg Cholesterol; 106mg Sodium; 12g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 26mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 121mg Potassium; 72mg Phosphorus.

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