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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 2022, I’m still doing 99% of the blogging and holding out hope that these two lovely and excellent cooks will participate. They both lead very busy lives, so we’ll see.

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BOOK READING (from Carolyn):

Am in the middle of Tidelands,  by Philippa Gregory. It tells the tale of a peasant woman, Alinor (an herbalist and midwife), who lives barely above the poverty level, trying to raise two children, during the time of great turmoil in England, the rancorous civil war about Charles 1. Her husband has disappeared. The feudal system at the time isn’t any friend to Alinor. In comes a man (of course) who is a priest, but to the Catholic king, not the Protestant people, and everything Catholic is abhorred and suspect. A fascinating read, loving every chapter so far.

Read Reminders of Him, by Colleen Hoover. A page turner of a story. A young woman is convicted of a crime (young and foolish type). Once released her sole purpose is to be a part of her daughter’s life. Hoover has such a gift of story-telling and keeping you hanging on a cliff.

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty. Oh my goodness. The wicked webs we weave. How in the world did the author even come UP with this wild story, but she did, and it kept me glued. Sophie walked away from her wedding day, and always wondered if she made the wrong decision. Then she inherits his aunt’s house, back in her home town, where the quizzical Munro baby disappearance provides a living for many of his family. Sophie moves there, only to have to unearth all the bad stuff that happened before. Quite a story.

Very funny and poignant story, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, by Elizabeth Taylor (no, not that one). Mrs. Palfrey, a woman of a certain age, moves into an old folks’ home in London. It’s a sort of hotel, but has full time elderly quirky residents. You get to know them all, and Mrs. Palfrey’s subterfuge effort to show off her “grandson.” I might not have ever picked up this book, but one of my book clubs had us read it, and I’m ever so glad I did.

I’ve been on a Moriarty tangent lately, this one Three Wishes, is about three triplets (women), two identical, one fraternal, as they progress through their 33rd year of life. So many twists and turns for each one. As someone said on amazon, Liane Moriarty never disappoints with providing a good story.

For one of my book clubs we read Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus. This book is so hard to describe. Elizabeth is a wizard at chemistry and struggles to be recognized for her intelligence and research. She meets a man at her company who is brilliant too. They make quite a pair. They have a child, then he suddenly dies. Her work isn’t taken seriously, so she leaves her employment and becomes an overnight phenom on a cooking show where she uses the chemical names for things like sodium chloride, etc. You go alongside her struggles, and her raising of her daughter. LOTS of humor, lots to discuss for a book club.

Horse. Oh my, is it a page turner. Loved it from the first page to the last. Sad when it ended. It’s a fictional creation but based on a real racehorse owned by a black man, back in the 1850s. Technically, the story is about a painting of the horse but there are many twists and turns. If you’ve ever enjoyed Brooks’ books in the past, this one won’t disappoint.

The Book of Lost Names, by Kristin Harmel (no, not Hannah). Certainly a little-known chunk of history about a woman who becomes a master forger during WWII to help get Jewish children out of France. Not easy to read, meaning the difficulty of anyone finding the means and place to DO the forgery and right under the noses of the Nazis. Really good read.

Liane Moriarty’s first novel, Three Wishes, follows the travails of adult triplets, so different, yet similar in many ways. Two are identical, the third is not. So alike, and so not. It takes you through a series of heart-wrenching events, seemingly unrelated, but ones that could bring a family to its breaking point and test the bonds of love and strength.

Recently I’ve read both of Erin French’s books, her cookbook, The Lost Kitchen, and since then her memoir, Finding Freedom. About her life growing up (difficult) about her coming of age mostly working in the family diner, flipper burgers and fries (and learning how much she liked to cook). Now she’s a very successful restaurant entrepreneur (The Lost Kitchen is also the name of her restaurant) in the miniscule town of Freedom, Maine. She’s not a classically trained chef, but she’s terrifically creative. See her TV series on Discover+ if you subscribe.

Migrations, by Charlotte McConaghy. To say that this book stretched my comfort zone is the least of it . . .think about a time in the not very distant future, when global warming has done it’s worst and nearly all animals are extinct.

Jo Jo Moyes has a bunch of books to her credit. And she writes well, with riveting stories. Everything I’ve read of hers has been good. This book, The Girl You Left Behind, is so different, so intriguing, so controversial and a fascinating historical story. There are two timelines here, one during WWI, in France, when a relatively unknown painter (in the style of Matisse) paints a picture of his wife. The war intervenes for both the husband and the wife.

Eli Shafak’s Island of Missing Trees. This book was just a page turner. If you’ve never read anything about the conflict in Cyprus (the island) between the Turks and the Greeks, you’re in for a big history lesson here. But, the entire story centers around a fig tree. You get into the head/brain/feelings of this big fig tree which plays a very central part of the story. You’ll learn a lot about animals, insects (ants, mosquitos, butterflies) and other flora and fauna of Cyprus.

If you’re a fan of Kazuo Ishiguro, you’ll find his newest book a league apart. Klara and the Sun. It takes place in the near future when we humans can go to a store and buy an AF (artificial friend). These robotic humanoid “things” have knowledge and personalities.

Also read Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty. Ohhh my, such a good book. I couldn’t put it down. Whatever you do, do not read the ending before you start the book. I’ve never understood people who do this. The book chronicles the day a mom just ups and disappears. The grown children come back home, in panic. The dad isn’t much help, and he becomes the prime suspect of foul play. There is no body, however.

Amor Towles’ new book, The Lincoln Highway: A Novel. Literally it’s a page turner. I think it’s still on the best seller list. A young man, Emmett, is released from a youth work camp (back in the day) and is returned home (by the camp warden) following the death of his father, to find that the home they’d lived in was in foreclosure. His mother abandoned them years before. His intent is to pick up his 8-year old brother and they will head off for Texas.

If you’d like a mystery read, try Dete Meserve’s The Space Between. It’s just the kind of page-turner I enjoy – a wife returns to her home after being away on business for a few days, to find her husband missing and what he’s left for her is an unexplained bank deposit of a million dollars, a loaded Glock in the nightstand, and a video security system that’s been wiped clean.

Read Alyson Richman’s historical novel called The Velvet Hours. Most of the book takes place in Paris, with a young woman and her grandmother, a very wealthy (but aging) woman who led a life of a semi-courtesan. Or at least a kept woman. But this grandmother was very astute and found ways to invest her money, to grow her money, and to buy very expensive goods. Then WWII intervenes, and the granddaughter has to close up her grandmother’s apartment, leaving it much the way it had been throughout her grandmother’s life, to escape the Nazis. Years go by, and finally answers are sought and found. An intriguing book, based on the author’s experience with an apartment that had been locked up similarly for decades, also in Paris.

Susan Meissner is one of my favorite authors. This book, The Nature of Fragile Things tells a very unusual story. About a young Irish immigrant, desperate to find a way out of poverty, answers an ad for a mail order bride.

Also read Rachel Hauck’s The Writing Desk. You could call this a romance. A young professional, a writer of one successful book, has writer’s block. Then she’s asked to go to Florida to help her mother (from whom she’s mostly estranged) through chemo. She goes, hoping she can find new inspiration.

One of my book clubs has us reading Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library: A Novel. What a premise for a book. About a library you can whiz to in the middle of the night and discover other lives you could have lived. And experience them. To find out the answers to those questions we ask ourselves sometimes, “I wonder what would have happened if I’d . . . .” taken that other job, gone out with that guy, taken that trip.

James Shipman has written an intriguing book, It Is Well: A Novel, about a man who has lost his wife. And about a woman who has lost her husband. But their relationship stalls, big time, because the guy made a promise to his wife, and he feels duty-bound to honor it.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 becomes something else. There is graphic detail here.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Healthy, Soups, on February 3rd, 2023.

Just the simplest of soups – although there are a LOT of vegetables in it, but the more the merrier, and the merrier the taste. I wasn’t expecting it to be so delicious!

A post from Carolyn. I don’t know about you, but after the holidays, of not-so-healthy eating, desserts served more often and just plain eating more than I usually do, I was so ready for some pure foods, healthier. My refrigerator had a bunch of vegetables and some had to be tossed in the trash, but what was there surely was enough to make a delicious soup. As I’m writing this, we’ve had rain – rain – and more rain. It’s so good for our soil as we’ve been in years of drought, so I’m not complaining. A rainy day makes me want to cook, as long as I don’t have other things I have to do. My usual busy routine has started up but I had a free day, and it was raining.

Often, when I look at recipes for vegetable soup, I think eh, veggie soup doesn’t have enough flavor to make me happy. But I decided to try it anyway since I had so many veggies that needed to be used. I’m SO glad I did, as this soup was scrumptious, and well worth making again.

Into a big pot went a sweet onion and leeks, with some olive oil. As that sweated I chopped up all the vegetables (red bells, poblanos, zucchini, yellow squash, a sweet potato, celery, carrots, garlic) and added them all at once.

Last month at the cooking class in San Diego, Phillis Carey mentioned how much she loves the new Better Than Bouillon Seasoned Vegetable Base. Picture at right. She also mentioned the same brand for chicken, the Roasted Chicken Base. I’ve bought both. And I also bought their Chili Base too, since I make more than a fair share of chili-based soups. All of them are available on amazon (use the links to get right to the pages).

All of these concentrates contain a goodly amount of sodium, so I didn’t add a single grain of salt to this soup. I added water, the vegetable paste/base, some oregano and thyme (my go-to herbs). Once the vegetables were done I removed some of it and whizzed it up with my immersion blender and poured it back into the soup (just to give the soup some thickened texture).

Then I added a little tiny can of corn and a big mound of grated Cheddar. Than I added a can of coconut cream. Now, about that. I buy Trader Joe’s coconut cream when I want that creamy texture, but I don’t want to taste coconut. TJ’s brand doesn’t taste like coconut. Neither their coconut cream or coconut milk has much of any taste of coconut. In this case, that’s what I wanted. I wasn’t making a coconut soup with vegetables, I merely wanted the creamy texture. If you want coconut milk that tastes like coconut, do buy Thai Kitchen. I buy it from a Costco that’s not near me at all as not all Costco’s carry it. Or use the link for amazon.

I scooped about a cup of soup into the bowl, added some grated Cheddar on top and a sprig of Italian parsley. Done.

What’s GOOD: altogether delicious. Healthy for sure. Lots of flavor (maybe it’s the broth that did it – but surely all the various veggies contributed too). The soup has some heat from the poblano chiles. If you’re sensitive to heat, use just one, or substitute green bell peppers. I don’t like green bell peppers, so you’ll almost never see them in my cooking repertoire! This recipe is a keeper in my book, and that’s saying something since I’m a bit reluctant to even make vegetable soup since I assume it’ll be blah. Not so with this one.

What’s NOT: really nothing. It’s a very flavorful soup. Relatively low in calorie too. A keeper, and yes, I’ll be making it again. It should freeze well.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Vegetable and Cheddar Soup

Recipe By: My own concoction, 2023
Servings: 12

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion — chopped
2 large leeks — cleaned, chopped
2 cloves garlic — minced
1 cup celery — chopped
2 small carrots — chopped
2 medium zucchini — chopped
1 medium yellow squash — chopped
2 medium poblano peppers — seeded, chopped
2 medium red bell peppers — seeded, chopped
1 large sweet potato
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
7 cups vegetable broth — I used Better Than Bouillon, seasoned vegetable base
15 ounces coconut cream
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese — grated
1 1/2 cups canned corn — optional
1 cup frozen peas — optional
Salt and pepper to taste — (won’t need much salt)
Grated cheddar for serving, plus Italian parsley

NOTES: If desired, add a can of beans, or pasta, or rice, wild rice (precook it), brown rice (also precook it). I try to eat fewer carbohydrates, and sweet potatoes (which are a resistant starch) flow through your body with less absorption as a carb.
1. Heat olive oil in a large pot.
2. Add onion and leeks and stir frequently as the vegetable sweat for about 7-10 minutes over medium-low heat. Add garlic, celery, carrots, zucchini, squash, poblano peppers, red bell peppers and sweet potato. Add bouillon and water, or vegetable broth.
3. Bring mixture to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through.
4. Remove about 3 cups of soup and puree in blender (or use immersion blender), and return to the soup pot. Add coconut cream, grated cheese, corn (if using) and peas (if using). Taste for seasonings. When serving, grate more cheese on top and add some Italian parsley for color.
Per Serving: 336 Calories; 25g Fat (64.5% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 29mg Cholesterol; 648mg Sodium; 7g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 260mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 554mg Potassium; 247mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salads, Veggies/sides, on January 27th, 2023.

Love those haricot verts. One of my favorite vegetables.

A post from Carolyn. A few  years ago I was enjoying a dinner out with friends, and the waiter came to our table to tell us about the specials. He listed off several, then got to the last one and said the entree was served with harr-eh-cot-vertz. It was like scratching your fingernail on a blackboard. Oof. I quickly told him how to pronounce it – hair-eh-co-vehr. I don’t think he believed me because he gave me a rather blank look. I said, “next time you’re in the kitchen, go ask the chef.” He did, and came back later to say yes, I was correct. He asked me again how to say it and he painstakingly wrote it down on his little waiter notebook. Why exactly we don’t called them “baby green beans” I don’t know. For a long time (years ago) these beans were certainly considered “gourmet,” not ordinary, and were hard to find. I suppose it’s like a lot of French culinary words that have become part of our English speaking – like Bouillabaisse, or fondue, baba au rum, and others. How about boeuf bourgignon. There is no English translation of bourgignon. Hence, haricot verts, friends! I’m not a French speaker, but any good home cook will learn some French as they learn to cook and bake!

Just in case you don’t see them regularly in your market, they’re really just young green beans, plucked before they get big or woody or tough. Trader Joe’s sells them for a very good price in a little 12 ounce package. They’re all cleaned and trimmed. I used 3 packages for this salad/side dish.

The recipe came from David Tanis, the acclaimed chef and author. He worked at Chez Panisse for awhile, and currently writes a weekly column for the New York Times. This recipe came from an article in Food & Wine magazine a few years back.

The green beans are cooked just until bite-tender and cooled. The original recipe had you prepare dried white or cannellini beans, but I’m too lazy – I buy canned. But since there were seasonings in the dried beans as they cooked (onion, bay leaf and thyme) I decided to add onion powder, powdered bay leaf and dried thyme to the salad dressing instead. It was an easy substitution. I made the salad dressing the day before and let it sit out on my kitchen counter overnight, so the flavors would blend. The cannellini beans were drained and rinsed, then I combined just a bit of the dressing in with the beans and they sat in the frig overnight. When I was ready to serve, I scooped the beans down the center of the platter, then the haricot verts around the outside, sort of haphazardly, then drizzled the dressing over everything, using my hands a little bit to distribute the dressing on the beans. If you want to toss the dressing thoroughly with the green beans, do it separately then put them on the platter. I garnished the platter with some halved cherry tomatoes (mostly for color) and a bunch of chopped Italian parsley.

Everything for this was prepped the day before – in this case I was taking it to someone else’s home – so I just put everything into a big tote bag (separately) and composed the salad at serving time.

What’s GOOD: a lovely, different side veg or salad, however you want to think of it. The dressing was really nice. I’d definitely make this again, if only for the color/photo factor. I had several nice comments about the salad when it was served. Certainly there are different textures here – the soft cannellini beans and the just crisp-tender green beans. And the shallot vinaigrette was really delicious.

What’s NOT: only that you need to start a bit ahead, although you certainly could make this and serve it immediately. I wanted the salad dressing to meld a bit; that’s all.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Haricot Verts and Cannellini Beans with Shallot Vinaigrette

Recipe By: Adapted from David Tanis, Oct 2018
Servings: 12

30 ounces canned cannelini beans — drained and rinsed
2 pounds haricots verts — trimmed
2 large shallots — minced
2 garlic cloves — minced
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon powdered bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme — crushed in your palms
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Kosher salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes — halved
1/4 cup chopped parsley

1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the haricots verts until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain the beans and spread them on a towel-lined, large rimmed baking sheet to cool.
2. In a lidded jar, combine the shallots, garlic, onion powder, powdered bay leaf, dried thyme, mustard and both vinegars. Add a pinch of salt and let the vinaigrette stand for 10 minutes. Whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Allow dressing to rest at room temperature for 2-3 hours or overnight to meld flavors. If time allows, combine the drained and canned beans with about 3 tablespoons of dressing and refrigerate until time to serve.
3. Arrange cannellini beans on a large platter and drizzle about 2 tablespoons dressing over them. Decoratively arrange the green beans around the platter and drizzle the remaining dressing on them. Season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle top with parsley and cherry tomatoes.
Per Serving: 143 Calories; 9g Fat (58.6% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 211mg Sodium; 2g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 30mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 198mg Potassium; 68mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Soups, Vegetarian, on January 20th, 2023.

This has “comfort food” written all over it. First bite to the last.

A post from Carolyn. It’s no secret that I love shepherd’s pie. And traditionally, it’s made with ground lamb. If you make it with beef, it’s considered cottage pie. This version has all the ingredients, but made into a soup instead. I’m not sure when I began making shepherd’s pie – decades ago – maybe I had it on my very first trip to Britain in about 1978. I’ve always made it with beef. Maybe we Americans have adopted the title, but without keeping to the British tradition of lamb. I like it with either. And originally, the “pie” was made with tiny, minced up pieces of leftover roast, not the ground meat we buy at the grocery store. I started with a recipe I found online, but then augmented it with more flavor (mushrooms, celery).

Because I try to limit carbs, I made this with less potatoes. To explain . . . this soup has two quantities of potatoes in it: (1 part) cooked separately, made into mashed potatoes (or use some leftover you have) and added to the finished soup to give it a thick texture; and (2nd part) cubed potatoes added in at the end of cooking and cooked in the soup just until done. You can see a cube right on that spoon in the photograph. Originally this recipe called for a total of 3 pounds of potatoes. I used about 1 1/2 pounds total with half in the mashed potato part and half in the soup. You can change this to suit your wants or your family’s.

Important flavors in this soup: Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and mushrooms. All umami flavors. Actually, because I didn’t want to have beef, I used Impossible Burger meat in mine. Because it’s mixed into a soup, truly you’d never know the difference. And if you want to eliminate the meat altogether, you’ll have a delicious vegetarian soup. Just make sure the broth you add has lots of flavor.

What’s GOOD: altogether comfort food. Good stick-to-the-ribs winter meal. Serve with some crackers or toasted bread and you have a full meal. This is going onto my favorites list as I’ll be making it again soon.

What’s NOT: nothing at all. This is a keeper.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Cottage Pie Soup

Recipe By: Adapted from an online recipe
Servings: 7

3/4 pound potatoes — peeled and diced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 cup onion — diced
1 cup celery — chopped
1 cup carrots — diced
2 cloves garlic — chopped
1 pound ground beef — or lamb, or meat substitute
3 tablespoons tomato paste
8 ounces mushrooms — chopped, mixed variety
4 cups low sodium beef broth
3/4 pound potatoes — peeled and cubed (yes, this is listed twice)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons rosemary
2 teaspoons thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup cheddar cheese — shredded
1 cup frozen peas salt and pepper to taste
More grated cheddar and chopped Italian parsley for garnish

1. MASHED POTATOES: Place the potatoes in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes. When they’re tender, drain them, mash with a potato masher (or mixer), then add butter. Add half of the low sodium beef broth and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
2. SOUP: Meanwhile, cook the beef, onions, celery and carrots in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, breaking the beef apart as it cooks, until the beef is cooked through, and drain off any excess grease. Add the mushrooms, garlic and tomato paste to the beef and cook until fragrant, about a minute.
3. Add remaining half of the broth, the uncooked cubed potatoes, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves to the soup. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
4. When the diced potatoes in the soup are tender, add the mashed potatoes, grated cheddar and let it melt into the soup, about 2 minutes, until it’s just heated through. Add the peas and heat, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with more grated cheddar and some Italian parsley chopped on top.
Per Serving: 484 Calories; 29g Fat (52.7% calories from fat); 26g Protein; 32g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 86mg Cholesterol; 703mg Sodium; 7g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 307mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 1101mg Potassium; 411mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Pasta, Salads, Veggies/sides, on January 13th, 2023.

Oh so delicious. Served warm – it could be an entree, or a pasta side salad.

A post from Carolyn. Looking at this recipe, I might not have given it much attention. Kind of regular-type ingredients (pasta, sausage, broccolini, tomatoes, cheese). Not exactly ho-hum, but when you put them all together, it’s quite a tasty dish. This came from the December cooking class with Phillis Carey. She’s a Southern Italian (actual Sicilian) and she said this recipe comes from Puglia (pronounced poo-lee-ah). For me, the Italian sausage makes it a stand-out, but the creamy addition of ricotta cheese on top gave it a silky finish too. The grape tomatoes are roasted for 20-25 minutes until they’re just at that peak of plumpness and about to fall apart. Do save a little bit of the pasta water as you’ll want to add some of it at the very end to give the pasta a bit more smoothness.

If you have all the ingredients, you could probably make this in less than 30 minutes, start to finish.

What’s GOOD: the combo is really delicious and filling. For me it’s the Italian sausage that gives it a wonderful taste. The tomatoes add umami flavor too, and you get in some veggies with the broccolini. Altogether wonderful.

What’s NOT: nothing at all – easy to make.

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Pugliese Orecchiette with Broccolini, Sausage and Roasted Grape Tomatoes

Recipe By: Phillis Carey, cooking instructor, Dec. 2022
Servings: 5

16 ounces grape tomatoes
3 cloves garlic — minced (divided use)
1 pinch red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil — (divided use)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound Italian sausage — casings removed
8 ounces orecchiette pasta
8 ounces broccolini — chopped into 1/2″ pieces, or use spinach
1 1/2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated fresh
1 whole lemon — zest and juice
1/2 cup ricotta cheese — whole milk type

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss grape tomatoes with 1 clove garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes, 2 T olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt. Spread in pie plate and roast for 20-25 minutes, or until tomatoes are blistered and they release some of their juices; set aside.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil; add a generous amount of salt. Add orecchiette and cook to al dente (take 3 minutes of time off the time listed on the box). Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 T olive oil, and sausage; cook, breaking up until meat is brown, about 7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer sausage to a plate, keeping the fat in the skillet. Add remaining 2 cloves garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add broccolini and cook until crisp-tender, about 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low.
4. Add pasta and sausage to skillet along with grated cheese, lemon zest and juice and a general few turns of black pepper. Stir in a few tablespoons of the pasta water if needed. Toss in the roasted tomatoes, taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve with a dollop of ricotta cheese on top and sprinkle with more grated Parm. Serve warm.
Per Serving: 856 Calories; 51g Fat (54.4% calories from fat); 48g Protein; 49g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 123mg Cholesterol; 1395mg Sodium; 6g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 949mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 794mg Potassium; 787mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Brunch, on January 6th, 2023.

What a nice dish this was for a leisurely brunch entree. And it’s very easy to make, besides!

A post from Carolyn. Over the Christmas holidays I entertained just once, a group of girlfriends I’ve known for decades. Every December we try to get together to celebrate Christmas and get caught  up on our lives. My friends brought other food to round out the brunch, so this was the only main thing I had to do. I also made some spiced fruit, a recipe I’ve made before, Spiced Peaches which went well with the little croissant sandwiches.

First you need mini-croissants. Some grocery stores carry them; others do not, but I had no difficulty finding them. I purchased some good Boar’s Head smoked ham, had the butcher slice it thinly, though not like those thin see-through shavings called sandwich slices. I cut the ham to approximately fit the shape of the croissant. I also had good imported Swiss cheese, also cut accordingly. I added a nice slice of tomato to these (not in the original recipe). Then you mix up the eggs and heavy cream, with an addition of mustard. The recipe called for Dijon (which I had), but because it was the holidays, I used Brennan’s cranberry mustard instead. I couldn’t really taste the mustard, but perhaps that was the point. It added flavor somehow but not noticeably!

This casserole needs to be assembled the night before, so you pour the custardy mixture over the sandwiches, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit. In the morning I used a big spoon to scoop  up some of the custard and drizzled it over the top of each of the croissants. Ideally, use a casserole dish that is JUST big enough to fit the number of croissants  you’re using. Mine was a little too big. It bakes for 40-45 minutes (do watch that the croissants don’t burn like mine almost did) and serve. The recipe has you put foil over the top during the last 15 minutes of baking (I did, and glad I did so!).

Be prepared to serve it immediately as the dish cools off quickly since it’s not a solid mass.

What’s GOOD: it was easy to make – very easy. Liked that I could make it the night before and nothing more to do except put it in the oven the next morning. This would be a solid breakfast entree for men/boys (although they’d probably eat two apiece) since it’s hearty.

What’s NOT: not a thing. Easy. Delicious.

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Stuffed Ham and Cheese Croissant Casserole

Recipe By: adapted from Southern Living
Servings: 10

10 mini-croissants
10 ham slices — buy smoked ham cut 1/4″ thick
2 tomatoes — ripe, sliced
10 Swiss cheese slices — use imported Swiss if possible
6 large eggs
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard — or cranberry mustard, if available
Thyme sprigs

1. Microwave ham slices between paper towels on a microwavable plate on HIGH 45 seconds. Blot with paper towels to remove excess moisture. [I didn’t do this step.]
2. Split croissants open with a serrated knife. Top bottom half of each croissant with 1 ham slice, then add tomato slice in between the two slices of ham. Add the Swiss cheese on top, cutting both ham and cheese to fit on croissant without much sticking out the sides. Cover with top half of croissant.
3. Place stuffed croissants in a lightly greased (with cooking spray) 13- x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Ideally use a casserole dish that is just large enough to place all 10, cozily, in the dish.
4. Whisk together eggs, heavy cream, and mustard in a large bowl. Pour mixture slowly over stuffed croissants. Use a spoon to drizzle the custard part all over the croissants. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove plastic wrap; If there is still liquid custard in the pan, use a spoon to drizzle it over all the croissants. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes, covering with aluminum foil the last 15 minutes to prevent over browning. Garnish with thyme sprigs.
Per Serving: 382 Calories; 33g Fat (78.6% calories from fat); 18g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 208mg Cholesterol; 454mg Sodium; 4g Total Sugars; 2mcg Vitamin D; 303mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 256mg Potassium; 298mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, on December 30th, 2022.

Forgot to take a picture once it was out of the oven . . . sorry about that. On top is a nice flavorful layer of Gruyere cheese and buttered bread crumbs.

A post from Carolyn. If any of you are “of a certain age,” you may remember that serving authentic beef stroganoff was a frequent entertaining entree way back in the 60s and 70s. It required copious amounts of sour cream and of course, some kind of tender beef. Whatever type I bought wasn’t ever tender enough. I think tenderloin is the authentic beef recommended – that was way out of my price range, so I used some other substitute (and probably overcooked it, or it was a type that might never get tender) so I wasn’t necessarily thrilled with the results. My other go-to company meal was turkey a la king, served in puff pastry cups – a more inexpensive entree served elegantly in those little buttery vessels. Vaguely I remember when someone decided to make stroganoff with ground beef, but it was considered to be a cheap substitute (and oh, hand up to forehead – gasp – certainly not worthy of a company meal). Over the ensuing years I know I’d made that substitute casserole many times, but it never came into regular rotation. Probably because it was thick, gloopy (is that a word?) and over-the-top too rich.

How times have changed. When I watched Rachael Ray make this on her show, I was intrigued. Why? Because she used a max of 1/2 cup of sour cream (not 1 – 2+ cups as I’d used in my other recipes), it didn’t contain any canned soup (cream of mushroom), and it used sherry wine plus a moderate amount of Worcestershire sauce. Plus it was a much dry-er casserole – no gluey or thick mushy type serving.

Did you know that Worcestershire is an umami flavor? Yup. You can add a little bit to dishes and you’ll not know it’s there, but it adds nice flavor. Mushrooms also have umami, and there are plenty of them in this recipe too. Rachael called for rye or pumpernickel bread crumbs . . . I didn’t have those and wasn’t about to buy a loaf of that bread to garner a cup of breadcrumbs, so I used panko, because that’s what I had on hand. Others who have made this recipe and posted it online mention those rye or pumpernickel bread crumbs as being a real game-changer. I like it just fine with panko crumbs, but agree, the other types might make this casserole even better. The addition of Gruyere cheese also added to the high-flavor profile here.  I buy Costco ground beef – I think it has more flavor than many others, like my local grocery store variety. I keep those Costco cubes in my freezer all the time (they’re 1 1/2 pounds, just what’s called for in this recipe).

If you make this and have leftovers, heat them in servings in the microwave, maybe with a sprinkling of water on the bottom. As I mentioned, this makes a kind of “dry” casserole. I’d reheat them in a bowl rather than a flat plate.

What’s GOOD: really delicious comfort-food casserole. Liked the depth of flavor in this (from the mushrooms, Worcestershire, sherry wine, Gruyere) and will definitely make this again. It should freeze well – I made two small casseroles and one large one. The smaller ones I froze, so I’ll enjoy them in coming months.

What’s NOT: only that it takes about an hour to prepare (plus baking time), with a moderate amount of cutting and chopping; nothing is difficult. You’ll find that the mixture seems quite dry, but it works out fine.

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Ground Beef Stroganoff Casserole

Recipe By: adapted slightly from a Rachael Ray recipe
Servings: 10

1 pound egg noodles — wide type
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup olive oil — divided
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
Kosher salt and coarse black pepper
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
12 ounces mushrooms — thinly sliced (3/4 pound)
2 large shallots — finely chopped (or 1 medium white or yellow onion)
4 cloves garlic — chopped
3 tablespoons fresh thyme — chopped, or 1 T dried
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup sherry wine — or 1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups beef stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups bread crumbs — rye, pumpernickel, or panko
2 tablespoons butter — melted
2 cups Gruyere cheese — shredded
3 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped, for garnish

CHANGES I MADE: I added more Gruyere cheese and reduced the oven temp to 375°F as the top got a bit too toasted. I also added the Italian parsley garnish.
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. For the egg noodles, cook noodles in boiling, salted water for two minutes less than package directions, then toss with butter, salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. For the beef and mushrooms, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with half the olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, add beef and brown, breaking up with the back of your spoon, season with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Remove the beef from the skillet and set aside.
4. Add the remainder of the oil to the same pan, then add the mushrooms and brown. Add the shallots (or onion), garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, stir a few minutes to soften shallots, then add sherry and let it evaporate and cook into the mushrooms. Add beef stock and simmer 5 minutes, then stir in heavy cream and sour cream (if the sour cream is at all clumpy, use a coil whisk to make it smooth). Add the beef back to the skillet with the mushrooms and remove from heat. The mixture will seem thin but all the liquid is absorbed by the noodles when it bakes.
5. For the breadcrumbs, in a bowl, mix together melted butter, breadcrumbs and Gruyere.
6. Toss beef and mushroom mixture with noodles. Pour into casserole dish. Top with Gruyere and rye breadcrumbs and bake in the center of your oven until brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes. If you have leftovers, heat them in serving sizes in the microwave with a little tetch of water added, so it doesn’t dry up the noodles on the bottom.
Per Serving: 752 Calories; 43g Fat (51.5% calories from fat); 38g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 161mg Cholesterol; 768mg Sodium; 4g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 574mg Calcium; 5mg Iron; 648mg Potassium; 607mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salads, on December 23rd, 2022.

What a nice, refreshing salad – perfect for the holidays, too.

A post from Carolyn. In early December I attended my first in-person cooking class with Phillis Carey, my favorite cooking instructor. All through Covid she taught via zoom, and if I couldn’t taste the food, why bother, was my motto? After three years, it was so fun to see her (and her cooking friend Diane Phillips) and to eat a treasure-trove of new things. This was one of the recipes I really liked.

Phillis’s heritage is Sicilian, so her recipes were more Southern Italian. This salad could be made ahead up to the point of tossing it. Prep the fennel ahead and the fresh oranges (let the fennel marinate in the orange/juice to keep it from turning brown). Have the arugula part all ready to dress, and toss at the last minute.

The dressing is just slightly different – lemon juice and white wine vinegar, a tetch of honey, and EVOO. Easy to make ahead too. You may also add olives – Phillis added Kalamata, but she also suggested Castelvetrano (I’d prefer those). Your choice, however. The olives add some color to the salad in addition to a punch of flavor. Castelvetrano olives are a ripe olive, very mild, not acidic/bitter like Kalamata. Arugula is everywhere now in the grocery stores, so that wouldn’t be hard to find. You could use baby spinach, I suppose, but it wouldn’t be authentic. I may make this salad for Christmas or New Year’s Eve. One or the other. If you can find blood oranges, that would make an ever prettier platter of salad. Sometimes they’re available around the holidays. I haven’t seen them lately.

You can plate individually, or make a big platter of it with the oranges and olives and fennel piled on top of the arugula, kind of centered. If I do that for the holidays I’ll take a picture of it!!

What’s GOOD: love the acid (lemon juice/vinegar and olives) vs. sweet (honey, oranges). It’s a simple dressing, but perfect for arugula. What a pretty salad it makes. And nice that it can be made ahead up to the point of dressing it. A winner.

What’s NOT: nothing, really – easy to do.

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Sicilian Winter Orange and Fennel Salad

Recipe By: Phillis Carey
Servings: 4

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup EVOO salt and pepper to taste
3 whole blood oranges — or regular, or a mixture
2 cups arugula
1 whole fennel bulb — trimmed, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olives — Kalamata or Castelvetrano

NOTE: If making ahead, slice oranges and add fennel to keep fennel from turning brown. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
1. Dressing: whisk lemon juice, vinegar and honey together in a medium bowl. Whisk in EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.
2. Trim off and discard peel and white pith from oranges. Slice crosswise into thin rounds and set aside. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
3. Toss arugula and fennel with enough of the dressing to moisten. Arrange on a plate or platter with orange slices and olives. Drizzle with more dressing and serve.
Per Serving: 271 Calories; 19g Fat (60.8% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 26g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 96mg Sodium; 21g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 93mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 474mg Potassium; 50mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Cookies, on December 16th, 2022.

Certainly I’d never heard of chocolate salami before, but was intrigued when I read the story about them. Italians claim the origin of the recipe, so do Germans, but so do Russians. Mine weren’t as round as the pictures online, but hey, made no difference to the taste!

A post from Carolyn. I think I mentioned recently that I decided to subscribe to the New York Times Food Section. It’s not a cheap purchase, but they offered it for half price ($20/year). If you’re interested, it’s still on offer at that price. I have nowhere near discovered all there is to know about their recipe archives, but this cookie recipe popped up and it’s just so different I had to try it.

So I read, back during the Soviet Russia era, some foodstuffs were hard to come by like cookies and cocoa powder. An ingenious cook combined shortbread cookies and cocoa along with chocolate (available) and hazelnuts (available) to spread the wealth, so to speak. Both the cocoa powder and the cookies then were enjoyed for a longer period of time. Although I have to say, eating one of these is nearly impossible.

A package of hazelnuts was staring at me, so I toasted them up first (about 5-7 minutes in my toaster oven at 375). Then I opened the package of Walker’s shortbread and used my meat pounder (flat) to kind-of mash up the cookies. In the photo above you can see toasted hazelnuts and pieces/crumbs of the cookies. The recipe suggested you sieve the cookies because you don’t want many crumbs. I didn’t wish to waste the crumbs, so I used them anyway. Just make sure you leave some little chunks – more chunks than crumbs if you can do it (and no, it’s not easy to do that).

Meanwhile you melt butter, sweetened condensed milk and bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli, bar type) and unsweetened cocoa powder. Once melted, it’s poured into the cookies and nuts mixture and after it cools a bit. Then you roll it into logs, trying to get them into a rounded shape, then seal up in waxed paper and foil for a longer chill.

My salami were not very round, so a day later I let the logs warm for about 45 minutes at room temperature and then rolled them on my countertop until they formed a more rounded shape. But, as you can see, I didn’t succeed very well with that! You sprinkle the logs with powdered sugar when you’re ready to serve them, then slice. I sliced mine thinner than the 1/4″ recommended. If you use a very slim knife you can do it. Don’t lay the slices in the sugar, however, as that messes up the visual of “salami.”

Oh my goodness, are these ever good. I suppose you could say they’re a variation of fudge, but with the addition of hazelnuts and cookie bits, they’re really not fudge.

What’s GOOD: well, I’m going to be adding this recipe to my regular Christmas cookie rotation. Or maybe not rotation – it’ll be a regular every year here on out. I liked that they were easy – EASY – to make. They’re a real keeper in my book. And, I’ll be adding this recipe to my favorites. Does that tell you how much I liked them?

What’s NOT: nothing whatsoever, other than you can’t eat these immediately – requires overnight or several hours of chilling to make the logs firm enough to slice.

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Chocolate Salami

Recipe By: New York Times
Servings: 72

8 ounces shortbread cookies — tea biscuits, chocolate wafers or graham crackers (store-bought is fine), to make 2 cups cookie bits
1 1/3 cups hazelnuts — chopped toasted, or walnuts or pecans
16 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sweetened condensed milk
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate — in bars or chips
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt — or 1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1. Place cookies in a bowl and use a masher to crush them into bits. (The biggest pieces should be no larger than 1/2-inch square.) Dump mixture into a colander and shake to remove most of the tiny crumbs. You should have about 2 cups pieces remaining. Return to bowl and add nuts.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Whisk in condensed milk. If using bar chocolate, break into medium-size pieces. Add chocolate, cocoa powder and salt, and whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes.
3. Scrape chocolate mixture into bowl with cookies. Stir together and set aside at room temperature for 15 minutes to firm up.
4. Meanwhile, lay 2 sheets of aluminum foil, each about 18 inches long, on a work surface. Top each with a sheet of waxed or parchment paper. Divide cookie mixture between the two. Using paper and your hands, shape and roll mixture into two cylinders of dough, each about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Roll dough up in the paper, then again in foil. Roll on the work surface to make sure the log is even, then twist the ends of the foil to secure.
5. Refrigerate the logs until firm, at least 1 hour. After 1 hour, check to make sure they are setting evenly. If necessary, roll on the work surface again until smooth (no need to remove the foil and paper). Refrigerate until fully set, another 2 hours or up to 3 days. If the log isn’t quite round, you can mold it another time – just leave out at room temp for about an hour, then roll the log on the countertop.
6. When ready to serve, remove logs from refrigerator and unwrap them on a work surface. Sprinkle confectioners’ sugar over them, turning to coat. Shake off excess and use a thin or serrated knife to slice into 1/4-inch rounds. Can be sliced in narrower slices if you’re careful. Plate and serve, or refrigerate up to 2 hours.
Per Serving: 113 Calories; 9g Fat (65.6% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 9mg Cholesterol; 85mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 24mg Calcium; trace Iron; 59mg Potassium; 33mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Miscellaneous, Miscellaneous sides, on December 16th, 2022.

Another iteration of a different kind of cranberry sauce.

A post from Carolyn. For Thanksgiving I was invited to go to a distant relative’s home, so this is what I made – this sauce plus my regular old-faithful raw cranberry relish I make every year. This new one came from Cook’s Illustrated, from 1999, my records tell me. It was very simple to make – just water, sugar, some grated fresh ginger, a dash of ground cinnamon (which you can taste in the finished sauce, although it’s elusive, but you know something, something is different about it), salt, cranberries and fresh pears. That’s it.

Preparing it ahead a day or two made it easy; all I had to do was package it up and take it on the drive and pour it out into a pretty dish when I got there. The raw relish I made didn’t last all that long after making it (probably because I used half fake sugar, so it didn’t have as much sugar/preservative to keep it from spoiling). As I write this, it’s been made for over 2 weeks, this sauce, and it’s still delicious. I’ve had it spooned over my morning yogurt, and served along with some roasted chicken I had.

What’s GOOD: easy sauce to make – very delicious. I really, really liked it. It may become a regular that I make every Thanksgiving!

What’s NOT: not a thing. Of course, we can’t make this during the summer unless we’ve frozen a bag of cranberries over the holiday time when they’re available!

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Cranberry Sauce with Pears and Fresh Ginger

Recipe By: Cook’s Illustrated from 1999
Servings: 9

3/4 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh ginger — grated
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
12 ounces cranberries — picked through
2 medium pears — firm, ripe, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1. BEFORE YOU BEGIN: The cooking time in this recipe is intended for fresh berries. If you’ve got frozen cranberries, do not defrost them before use; just pick through them and add about 2 minutes to the simmering time.
2. Bring water, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and salt to boil in medium nonreactive saucepan over high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Stir in cranberries and pears; return to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until saucy, slightly thickened, and about two-thirds of berries have popped open, about 5 minutes. Transfer to nonreactive bowl, cool to room temperature, and serve. Can be covered and refrigerated up to 7 days; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving. May keep several weeks longer, although the intense flavor of it might be lessened. It was still good a month after making it.
Per Serving: 127 Calories; trace Fat (0.7% calories from fat); trace Protein; 33g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 67mg Sodium; 28g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 8mg Calcium; trace Iron; 80mg Potassium; 9mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Breads, on December 9th, 2022.

This is such an unusual bread . . . unless you come from Naples, where you see it all the time, I suppose. So delicious. Easy. Those little holes you see are where there were little chunks of Provolone cheese that oozed into the little crevices of the baking bread.

A post from Carolyn. At that cooking class I went to earlier in the month, Phillis Carey prepared this quick bread. I’d never had it before, so I went online to read about it. A common bread in Naples, Italy, Babà Rustico (or Rustica) is usually made with yeast and usually it’s made in a tube or ring mold, even a fluted one you’d use for a cake. And, in fact, I found a recipe online that uses yeast but cooks it like a quick bread (no rising required, in other words). I may have to try that version.  But this quick-bread version is just marvelous. It’s so tender (probably from the buttermilk in the batter) and moist (from the eggs and cheeses). It’s a very moist bread, in other words.

You mix up the dry, then stir in add-ins (salami, provolone and parsley). The wet ingredients (eggs, buttermilk, olive oil) are mixed into the dry – remember, with a quick bread you don’t want to over-mix it, just until combined. The batter is quite thick. The Parm gets sprinkled all over the top of the bread, then it bakes for 45-55 minutes (depending on the exact size of your pan). Once out of the oven you drizzle a little bit of EVOO over the top of the bread and let it soak in.

What I will tell you is that the leftover pieces of this make fantastic toast. I toasted it in my countertop oven and slathered just a little bit of butter on it. Oh my. Divine. Do serve it warm if you can. It freezes well too. You can bake it ahead several days (store, wrapped, in the frig).

What’s GOOD: the lovely moist, cheesy texture (like brioche) of this bread is fabulous. You’re gonna love it.

What’s NOT: nothing really except that you may not have salami and Provolone on hand.

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Babà Rustico Quick Bread with Salami and Provolone

Recipe By: Phillis Carey
Servings: 18 (a half a slice might be ample as a serving)

4 tablespoons olive oil — plus more to grease the pan
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour — plus more for the pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup salami, dry — cut into 1/4″ dice
8 ounces provolone cheese — cut into 1/4″ dice
2 tablespoons Italian parsley — chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — fresh, grated
A drizzle of EVOO on top after baking

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil and flour (or spray) with nonstick spray a metal 9×5″ loaf pan. You might want to line bottom with parchment to prevent sticking.
2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, basil, salt, baking soda. Stir in chopped salami, provolone and parsley. In a separate bowl, whisk olive oil, eggs and buttermilk. Add wet mixture to flour mixture and stir to combine. The batter will be thick. Do not over-mix the batter.
3. Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan and spread it out evenly, smoothing the top. Sprinkle Parmesan over the top. Bake until top springs back when lightly pressed and a skewer inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 45-55 minutes.
4. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan and let it cool completely on rack before slicing. Drizzle the top of the loaf with a bit of EVOO. It’s best served warm.
DO AHEAD: Bake the loaf up to 3 days in advance. Store it, well-wrapped, in the refrigerator and bring to room temp before serving. It may be frozen for up to 2 months. Best served warm or toasted with a bit of butter spread on each slice.
Per Serving: 213 Calories; 12g Fat (53.2% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 15g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 47mg Cholesterol; 449mg Sodium; 1g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 188mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 116mg Potassium; 190mg Phosphorus.

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