Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Shrimp Soup with Cumin

This is from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. My mother loves this soup. She says that she feels as if she is in an elegant restaurant whenever she has it. So, in some cases, it literally carries you away from your hum drum life!

It is easy, delicious and ... elegant.

Shrimp Soup with Cumin
Yield - 4 bowls


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled
4 thick slices French or Italian bread
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
5 cups shrimp stock, chicken stock, water or a combination
1 to 1-1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled

Combine olive oil and garlic in a large, deep saucepan or casserole and turn heat to medium. Add the garlic cloves and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are a very deep golden, almost brown, about 10 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Turn heat to low and brown the bread in the oil on both sides, in batches if necessary; it will take about 5 minutes. Remove the slices and spread each with about 1/2 clove of the cooked garlic. Mince the remaining garlic. (I just use a whole glove on each slice.)

Cut each of the shrimp into 3 or 4 pieces. Put stock into the pan, turn heat to medium and bring to a gentle boil. Add shrimp, cumin, salt and pepper and cook over low heat for 3 or 4 minutes.
Place a piece of bread in each of four bowls, then ladle in a portion of soup with shrimp. Sprinkle with minced garlic, garnish and serve.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Corn Off the Cob

I was making fried chicken the other day (yes, I felt very Southern, farm family-ish). We were going to have corn on the cob (substituted at the last minute at the store when all the green beans had brown spots). At the last minute I realized that my one big pot was going to be used for the chicken so I had nothing big enough for corn on the cob.

However, I also knew all those frozen niblets were once on the cob. I'd read enough cookbooks to have a vague idea of how to cook that corn deliciously when it was off the cob. More than anything this tells me of my dependence on frozen corn, which I've found very unsatisfactory as of late.

I may switch to this until the corn on the cob is out of season.

The New Doubleday Cookbook (1985 - not so new now but a wonderfully dependable overall cookbook) had this dandy recipe which we all loved.

They called it Boiled Fresh Whole Kernel Corn but that name just doesn't cut it.

Corn Off the Cob

6-8 ears sweet corn, shucked
1 cup boiling water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch pepper
2 tablespoons butter

Cut corn from cob. Place in a saucepan with water and sugar, cover, and simmer 5-8 minutes until tender. Drain and season with salt, pepper, and butter.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Pan Bagnat (Provençal Tuna Sandwich)

My parents made a version of this sandwich from the Time Life Foods of the World cookbook series. We loved it. Loaded with different ingredients, bathed in a vinaigrette (the title means "bathed bread"), weighted down and left for all the flavors to meld — it was the perfect summer meal.

So I was intrigued when Cooks Illustrated had their own version and tried it out last weekend. Theirs is more like a Salade Niçoise than the one I grew up with, but I love Salade Niçoise so that was no bad thing!

It was truly delicious, simple to assemble (though requiring about an hour), and perfect for hot weather.

Note: We had extra pieces of this in the fridge for up to a week as we slowly consumed them for lunch (or breakfast!). It held perfectly well and could be made well ahead of time for a party or picnic if you let it come up to room temperature.


1 vine-ripened tomato, cored and sliced thin
1 small red onion, sliced thin
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large baguette, or ciabiatta (18 inches long, 3 inches wide, and at least 2 inches tall), halved horizontally [You can also do this in a large, round loaf as long as it holds the ingredients.]

Heat oven to 350°.

Lay tomato slices on paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Toss onion, vinegar, garlic, and salt together in bowl.

Using hands or metal spoon, remove inner crumb from bread bottom to create trough, leaving 1/4-inch border on sides and bottom Place breat halves cust side up on baking sheet and bake until very lightly toasted, 5 minutes.

3/4 cup niçoise or kalamata olives, rinsed, pitted
1/2 cup fresh parsley
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Pulse olives, parsley, capers, oregano, and anchovies in food processor until coarsely but evenly chopped, 10-12 pulses. Add to bowl with onion mixture. Add oil, mustard and pepper and toss to combine.

1/4 cup olive oil
3 5-ounce cans oil-packed tuna
3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced thin

Brush inside of each bread half with 1 tablespoon oil. Place two-thirds of olive mixutre in hollow batuette bottom and spread evenly.

Distribute tuna evenly over olive mixture and drizzle with remaining two tablespoons oil.

Shingle tomato slices over tuna.

Shingle egg slices over tomato.

Top eggs with remaining olive mixture and cap with bread top. Sandwich will be very full.

Press gently on sandwich and slice in half cross-wise. Wrap each half tightly in plastic wrap. Sit on a baking sheet to catch any juices that escape the wrap. Place rimmed baking sheet on top of sandwiches and weight with heavy Dutch oven or two 5-pound bgs of flour or sugar for 1 hour.

Flip sandwiches halfway through weighting.

Wrapped sandwiches can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Let come to room temperature before serving.

Serves 4-6. Prep time 1 hour.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Savory (Ham, Mozzarella & Basil) Brioche Couronne

Couronne means "crown" and this is obviously named for the shape. However, it is also fit for royalty. An enriched brioche dough is filled with ham, mozzarella and basil to make a wonderful meal.

This is from Paul Hollywood's book Bread and it looks a lot harder than it is. On one hand it does take a fair amount of time for several dough risings. On the other hand, it is really impressive and really delicious and really basic to put together if you are used to making bread. If you aren't, then Paul Hollywood's description will lead you through it without a problem.

Mom said it was better than pizza. Tom didn't want to make rash statements but he agreed it was at least equal to a very, very good pizza.

Savoury Brioche Couronne

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
10g salt
10g instant yeast
170ml tepid whole milk
4 medium eggs (we used 3 large eggs)
250g unsalted butter, in small pieces, at room temperature
1 pound buffalo mozzarella (we used regular fresh mozzarella)
8-10 slices Parma ham (turns out this is proscuitto - we didn't know that and used applewood smoked ham - mmmm)
Small handful basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 medium egg, beaten
Pinch salt
Handful grated parmesan

Put the flour into a food mixer fitted with a dough hook and add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the milk and eggs and mix until well combined. Add the butter, bit by bit, as you mix for a further 5 minutes. It’s important to add the butter very gradually.

Tip the dough into a large oiled plastic container or bowl and covered with an oiled lid or cling film [plastic wrap]. This dough can rise greatly and needs room to expand. Leave until at least doubled in size — at least 1 hour.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, without knocking the air out of it. Roll out to a rectangle, just under 1½cm (3/4 inch) with the long side facing you. Lay the ham slices over the dough. Tear the mozzarella into pieces and scatter over the ham. Sprinkle basil on top.

Roll up the dough from the long side furthest from you to enclose the filling. Roll into a sausage, 40-50cm [16-19 inches]. Cut down the entire length of the roll to reveal the filling [leaving you with two long strips side by side]. Hol the pieces firmly at each end and twist quite tightly together, moving your hands in opposite directions. Now coil the twisted dough into a circle and press the ends firmly together.

Put the crown on a parchment-paper lined baking tray. Put the tray inside a roomy plastic bag and leave to rise for 1-1½ hours, or until at least doubled in size. [We just covered the baking sheet with a towel, as per always.]

Preheat the oven to 400°.  Brush the top of the couronne with beaten egg and scatter with grated Parmesan. Bake in oven for 25 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool slightly and serve warm or cold.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Eggplant with Molten Mozzarella

The Wall Street Journal ran a story yesterday tellingly titled "No Lucky Charms, Plenty of Okra — What's Left at the Grocery Store."

That is one of the boxes I checked when I was caught up in last week's grocery panic. The most deserted place in the store was the produce section, where I had wandered in search of lemons. (Hey, you need those for cocktails and I was fairly sure cocktails were on our family's emergency list.)

I gravitated to the fully stocked eggplant — some of the most beautiful I'd seen lately — remembering this recipe, which I'd planned to make so the ingredients were fairly top of mind. To be sure it doesn't take many ingredients and is easy, so it's perfect just for an easy meal or for a food panic day when everyone else ignored those gorgeous eggplants.

This is a wonderfully easy and delicious pasta dish from Pasta: Every Way for Every Day. It's also perfect for meatless meals and Fridays in Lent.

I doubled the eggplant (which practically disappeared in the original dish) and the red pepper flakes, tomato paste, and oregano (to keep the sauce flavoring ratios the same for the eggplant).

The molten mozzarella part is a variation to the original recipe, so I'm putting both the original (adapted) and the variation below.

Eggplant with Chili and Garlic
Serves 4

Step 1:
1/2 cup olive oil
2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch dice (originally 14 oz.)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (originally 1/2 t.)

Heat oil in a skillet. Add eggplant, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently over high heat, until golden, 5-7 minutes. Turn down heat to medium low.

Step 2:
1/4 cup tomato paste (originally 2 T)
2 teaspoons dried oregano (originally 1 t.)
salt, black pepper

Stir in tomato paste and oregano and cook, stirring occasionally, until eggplant dice are soft and cooked through, 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons hot water to the pan if the eggplant begins to stick. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step 3:
1 pound dried pasta, tubes or shapes: penne, rigatoni, orecchiette

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water, until firm to the bite. Drain. Add pasta with 2 tablespoons additional olive oil to the hot sauce. Toss well to coat. Serve immediately with Parmesan to sprinkle on.

Variation: Eggplant with Molten Mozzarella

Stir 8 ounces diced, part skim mozzarella into the finished sauce and pasta right before serving, omitting the additional olive oil.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

I wouldn't have believed how good these cookies are. They're more trouble than brownies, but I am not in love with brownies. I am in love with these.

From Cook's Country.

Chocolate Brownie Cookies
Makes 20

Step 1
5 ounces flour
3/4 ounce Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt

Preheat oven to 300°. Whisk all together, set aside.

Step 2
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, divided
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons whole milk

Microwave 6 ounces chocolate, oil and butter in medium bowl at 50 percent, stirring halfway through, until melted. About 3 minutes.

Whisk milk into chocolate until combined.

Step 3
7 ounces sugar
2 large eggs

Whip in stand mixer on medium-high until very thick and pale, about 4 minutes. Whisk in chocolate mixture by hand until uniform. Fold in flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Fold in remaining 4 ounces chocolate.

Step 4
Using 1-tablespoon measure or #30 scoop, scoop 10 heaping tablespoons of batter onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper (you should have 20 cookies total).

Bake until until cookies are puffed and covered with large cracks (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), about 16 minutes.

Let cool completely on sheets. Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Cookies freeze well.

Baking at 300° results in cakey cookies. I originally mistakenly baked these at 350° which resulted in chewy wonderful cookies (guess which ones I prefer?). Try both methods and see which you like best.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019


We recently discovered this delicious Latin American drink which seems like a good equivalent to eggnog. If eggnog were a coconut delight.

This is from Cook's Country.

Serves 8-10

Step 1
1 15-ounce can Coco Lopez cream of coconut
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1-1/4 cups gold rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Whisk all ingredients together in large pitcher until combined. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.

Step 2
Just before serving, working in batches, transfer cream of coconut mixture to blender and process until slightly frothy, about 1 minute per batch. Serve over ice, garnished with extra nutmeg.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Second Verse, Same as the First: Thanksgiving Cooking

Thanksgiving means much loved favorites that only get trotted out once a year. And I'm ok with that. So no weird variations to try to make these much loved favorites "new" or "fresh." Just good, honest Thanksgiving cooking.

These dishes, for us, represent the perfect versions of their oeuvre.

Our day-after-Thanksgiving meal also is mandated by tradition. Chef salad featuring turkey (of course), blue cheese dressing and crumbled bacon (the real thing please!) on top. Mmmmmm, crumbled bacon ... except that since we do meatless Fridays, this feast actually comes on a Saturday.

Here are a few links to recipes I've posted before.

Herbed Thanksgiving Stuffing
This is the best stuffing ever and cooks in a slow cooker. I have made this five times now and never been disappointed. It really frees up the oven for other things and, if you happen to have a problem with sticking your hand up a turkey (no problemo here) then you're set free from that as well.

Skillet Cornbread
If you happen to like cornbread stuffing (which I do not), you may want to make this for your base. I've never found a better recipe.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Crumble
The funny bone in the menu is the sweet potato selection which in the past I have always played around with. This one is Rose's favorite and since she is the co-cook, we bow to her judgment!

Cranberry Ginger Relish
I also used to change up the cranberry recipe from year to year. No longer. This relish is practically perfect in every way!

Mashed Dinner Potato Rolls
I've been making these for years and they never fail to turn out well. They are the classic American dinner roll.

Perfect Piecrust
This is not a misnomer. Very easy and very delicious. It is long but that is because of the detailed directions. You can't go wrong with this.

Pecan Pie
This is non-negotiable. Gotta have it.

Pumpkin Pie

Are you allowed to have Thanksgiving without this? Or watch the Cowboys play without having some? Nope.

Things there are no recipes posted for:

  • Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole — Made with all fresh ingredients, this is not the standard casserole. It's been reverse engineered from the Campbell Soup version ... and it is simply wonderful. I promise to get the recipe on the blog soon!
  • Mashed Potatoes — I use baking potatoes with plenty of butter and milk (and maybe some sour cream).
  • Gravy — Julia Child's recipe from The Way to Cook. It makes so much gravy that you never run out!
  • Turkey — of course! A basic recipe from The Doubleday Cookbook. 

AND Afterward ...
What do you do with the turkey carcass? I used to toss it, until being given a fantastic recipe for Turkey Bone Gumbo.

It is fantastically simple, especially if you fear not the roux which has been given a bad rap as far as I can tell. It does take some time but I do it in steps here and there so that on Sunday we have a delicious bowl of gumbo that hasn't been much trouble at all.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Whole-Grain Banana Bread

Mom insisted this was a great Banana Bread so we tried it. I wouldn't have believed you could get such a good quick bread that also is whole-grain but King Arthur's Flour (and Mom!) proved me wrong.

Whole-Grain Banana Bread

Step 1

2 cups (454g) thoroughly mashed banana, about 4 or 5 medium bananas
2/3 cup melted butter or 1/2 cup (99g) vegetable oil
1 cup (213g) brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in the center. Lightly grease a 9” x 5” loaf pan; if your pan is glass or stoneware, reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

Stir together the mashed banana, oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

Step 2

1 cup (120g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup (113g) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour or Premium Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (57g) chopped walnuts, toasted if desired; optional

Combine all ingredients. Then mix into the banana mixture. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and mix again to thoroughly combine the ingredients.

Step 3

1 tablespoon (13g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over the batter.

Bake 60-75 minutes, until bread feels set on the top, and a tester comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs (but no wet batter). If the bread appears to be browning too quickly, tent it with aluminum foil for the final 15 to 20 minutes of baking. Note: If baking in a glass or stoneware pan, increase the baking time by 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove the bread from the oven. Cool it in the pan for 15 minutes, then loosen the edges, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely.

Store leftover bread, tightly wrapped, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage. Makes 12 generous servings.

This recipe will make 15 standard-size muffins. Bake muffins in a preheated 350°F oven for 20 to 23 minutes.

Curried Peanut Sauce / Dip

Mom gave me a hand-written note with this sauce on it. I was surprised when I saw it was from Bon Appetit which had it down only as a dip. We took our cue from the sauce and, thinned with some chicken broth, it made a super-duper tasty sauce for simmering your choice of meat and vegetables to serve over rice.

So easy!

Curried Peanut Sauce / Dip

Step 1
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons red curry paste (original recipe calls for 1/4 cup)

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Add curry paste and cook, stirring frequently, until paste begins to stick to bottom of saucepan and is very fragrant, 2–3 minutes.

Step 2
1 14.5-oz. can coconut milk

Whisk in coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook, whisking occasionally, until mixture turns darker in color and is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.

Step 3
1/2  cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon honey

Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in peanut butter, vinegar, fish sauce, and honey. Season to taste with salt. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight portable container and chill.

As a sauce
Add some chicken broth to thin the sauce and simmer meat and vegetables in it.

As a dip
Season to taste with salt; it should be well seasoned since the things you are dipping in it may not be (i.e., boiled eggs, cukes, etc.). Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight portable container and chill.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Ginger-Turmeric Potatoes and Green Beans (Aloo Faliyan)

This is easy and absolutely delicious either at room temperature or hot. It does take a bit of chopping, but is totally worth it. From Milk Street: Tuesday Nights by Christopher Kimball.

Serves 6
Start to Finish: 45 minutes

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons yellow or brown mustard seeds
1-1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
12 ounces small Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (don't use russet or starchy potatoes - they'll break down)
12 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
1/3 cup cashews, toasted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 to 1 serrano, minced (optional)

In a large skillet over medium, heat oil until shimmering. Add shallot, ginger, mustard and cumin seeds, and pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until shallot has softened and is just beginning to brown, abut 2 minutes.

Stir in turmeric, potatoes, green beans, salt and water. Then cover and cook until potatoes are just barely tender, bout 8 minutes. Uncover pan. If all of water has cooked off, add 1 to 2 tablespoons, then continue to cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender and pan is dry, another 2 to 5 minutes.

Off heat, stir in lemon juice. Season to taste with salt if needed. Fold in tomatoes, cashews, cilantro and optional serrano.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Black Forest Cake

Rose has been interested in this recipe for a while and it turns out that the best time to make it was for her birthday! So it was an experiment and a celebration at the same time. It is from A Baker’s Life by Paul Hollywood. You can find the original recipe here.

Making this cake it struck me that, much like Tiramisu, the cake acts as a conductor to all the cream, cherries, and kirsch. Though the chocolate, of course, is a definite presence.

The cake part of this didn't work well for us. Looking around, I saw that Mary Berry's Black Forest Gateau didn't have any butter and, therefore, might not have been quite as hard as the Paul Hollywood version. Or I just didn't do a good job with his chocolate sponge. That's a definite possibility.

Be that as it may, we liked the rest of the recipe very well. So we'll be making it next time using our own Easy Chocolate Buttermilk Cake. It's easy, it's foolproof and our son-in-law who loves Black Forest Cake says that a deep chocolate flavor is his favorite here ... and it's got that flavor for sure. We'll use Mary Berry's formula of baking in two 9" cake pans and horizontally slicing them in two, resulting in four layers.

Serves 12

For the cake
One recipe Easy Chocolate Buttermilk Cake 

Bake in two 9" cake pans, horizontally slicing them in two, resulting in four layers. (Or just use three of the 4 layers if that's how tall you want the cake.)

For the filling and topping 3 layers
(increase as needed for 4 layers)
3 tbsp kirsch
4 tbsp cherry jam
900ml (32fl oz) double cream, whipped
400g (14oz) tin pitted black cherries, drained and halved

To decorate
60g (2¼oz) dark chocolate (60-70%)
A handful of fresh cherries

To assemble, carefully cut the cake horizontally into three even layers (see tip below). Place one sponge on your serving plate and sprinkle evenly with 1½ tbsp kirsch. Spread half of the cherry jam over the sponge then apply a layer of whipped cream on top, and spread it out with a palette knife.

Scatter over half of the cherries. Place another sponge on top, sprinkle with the rest of the kirsch, then repeat the jam, cream and cherry layers. Place the last sponge on top. Load a palette knife with cream and spread it all over, covering the entire cake in a thin layer of cream.

Press finely grated chocolate around the sides and top.

Pipe rosettes of cream around the edge and sit whole cherries on them.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Bollywood Kitchen

Bollywood Kitchen
Home-Cooked Indian Meals Paired with Unforgettable Bollywood Films
You’re invited to a party where the food and entertainment are both in Technicolor. It’s “dinner and a movie” in this vibrant, beautifully photographed tour of Indian food and films.

Indian cuisine and Indian cinema share much in common – bold colors and flavors with plenty of drama. But to the uninitiated, they can seem dizzying. Let Sri Rao be your guide. As one of the only Americans working in Bollywood, Sri is an expert on Indian musical films, and as an avid cook, he’s taken his mom’s authentic, home-cooked recipes and adapted them for the modern, American kitchen.

Sri has paired each meal with one of his favorite Bollywood movies. Sri will introduce each film to you, explaining why you’ll love it, and letting you in on some juicy morsels from behind the scenes.
This is a quick read and I'm happy to say it is absolutely solid on the movies. I've seen a lot of the author's selections and they are a good representation of new and old Bollywood movies that are very accessible. He also has three supplemental movie recommendations for each major selection so that if you like a film you can explore similar ones. Those also were right on the money. His descriptions are engaging and I liked the bits of extra information he scattered throughout the book.

The recipes are a good blend of his mother's Indian home cooking, adapted for the American kitchen including Indian takes on American food, such as the Bollywood Burger and seasoned sweet potato fries. Sri grew up in America and he understands how to keep recipes authentic but not time-consuming.  I also like the fact that each movie is matched with a full meal, so you don't have to wonder what side dishes to come up with.

I made the Keema and the Chicken Rollups (street food that is like Indian chicken fajitas). Both were very good, though much hotter than I like. I'd advise cutting the cayenne in half if, like me, you don't like it hot.

The way the recipes were adapted were definitely easy although the author seems to have too generous a sense of portion size. For example, the Keema was supposed to serve 4-6 using 2 pounds of hamburger. Oy veh! We halved it and it served the three of us with leftovers for 2. So keep a judicious eye on his proportions compared to how many you want to serve.

Recommended for those wanting to dabble in Indian food and movies!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Shepherd's Pie

This is from Cooking for Friends by Gordon Ramsay. Rose is a Gordon Ramsay fan and after sampling the many recipes she's made for us, I can see why. This Shepherd's Pie is a great example. It is still a simple dish but has been elevated beyond the regular Shepherd's Pies I've tried in the past, which, to be fair, never seemed that great. This one is great and will make you and your family very happy.

Shepherd's Pie

1 pound ground lamb or beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1.5 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 pounds baking potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons hot milk
4 tablespoons Parmesan
2 egg yolks

1. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Season the ground meat with salt and pepper and fry in a thin layer of oil until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the meat to a bowl using a slotted spoon.

2. Add more oil to the pan and stir in the onion, carrot, and garlic. Fry, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Add the flour and tomato paste and stir for a couple of minutes longer. Pour in the red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to dislodge the browned sediment. Let the wine boil until it has almost all evaporated and the pan is quite dry.

3. Pour the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Return the meat to the pan and add the Worcestershire sauce. Turn the heat to the lowest setting and partially cover the pan. Simmer, stirring every once in a while, until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened, 30-40 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Meanwhile, cook the chunks of potatoes in boiling salted water until tender when pierced with a small knife, 15-20 minutes. Drain well, then mash with butter, hot milk, Parmesan, and egg yolks. Season to taste and set aside.

5. Pour the lamb or beef mixture into an 8 cup baking dish. Spoon the mashed potato on top. Bake until top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling up around the sides, 20-25 minutes.

Monday, October 08, 2018

New School Tuna Casserole

This is from Cooking Light. It's a tangy alternative to the regular tuna casserole and I like them both.

We adapted it slightly, using more salt (as always with CL recipes), regular egg noodles instead of whole-wheat, and tarragon instead of dill (it's what we had on hand).

We also forgot to pick up chicken stock so used all milk for the sauce, embellishing with a judicial splash of Worcestershire.

New School Tuna Casserole
Serves 6 generously.

Step 1

12 ounces uncooked egg noodles

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook noodles until very al dente.

Step 2

1 tablespoon oil
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium. Add mushrooms; cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add onion and garlic; cook until tender, about 4 more minutes. Add thyme; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Step 3

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
2-1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1-1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 5-ounce cans albacore tuna in water, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Add butter; stir to melt. Whisk in flour; cook until roux is golden, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, add stock; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; whisk in milk, tomato paste, mustard, lemon zest and juice, salt, and pepper. Return to a simmer; simmer 2 to 3 minutes. Pour mixture into bowl with noodles. Stir in tuna and dill.

Step 4

2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about ½ cup)

Coat a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer tuna mixture to baking dish; top with cheese. Bake at 375°F until bubbly and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Let stand at room temperature 5 to 10 minutes.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018


These are from "Cookies Unlimited" by Nick Malgieri. It is a simply wonderful cookbook and we've never made anything that didn't work or that we didn't like. Considering how many recipes we've tried, that's an impressive record.

This was the first recipe I made and the one that made me buy the book. These are classic crisp, spicy gingersnaps truly worthy of the "snap" in their name. Simple and delicious.


Makes about 40 cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup for finishing
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses

1. Set the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

2. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a bowl; stir well to mix.

3. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together on medium speed the butter and 1 cup sugar for about 5 minutes until very light, fluffy and whitened. Add the egg and continue beating until smooth.

4. Lower the speed and beat in half the dry ingredients, then the molasses. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and beater. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients.

5. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a large rubber spatula to finish mixing the dough.

6. Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a shallow bowl.

7. Use a small ice cream scoop to form 1-inch-diameter pieces of dough. Roll the pieces into balls between the palms of your hands, then roll them in the sugar. Place the balls of dough on the prepared pans, leaving about 3 inches all around each, to allow for spreading.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Tres Leches Cake, Puerto Rican Style

I've never really enjoyed Tres Leches Cake which always struck me as being mildly sweet, soggy, and a bit milky. Nothing really special. Then I read about this version, in the Wall Street Journal of all places, which has been tweaked by Kathleen Squires to reflect the flavors of her beloved Puerto Rico. Rose made it for a meal provided for our parish's men's retreat and months later she's still getting compliments.

Naturally, we had to try it for ourselves. Wow. It is so delicate but also so flavorful. A hint of coconut is perfectly complimented by the nutmeg and cinnamon sprinkled across the top. Somehow it all comes together to make a dessert that is rich, light, and refreshing.

In fact, it is rich enough that we serve 16 instead of the 12 called for below. Larger pieces are just too big. And that's not something I say every day. In fact, I may say it never.

Serves: 12

For the cake:

Butter, for greasing pan
5 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons coffee liqueur such as Kahlua
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can condensed milk
1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
2 tablespoons aged Puerto Rican rum, such as Don Q Gran Añejo

For the whipped cream:

2 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ground cinnamon
Freshly grated nutmeg

1. Butter bottom and sides of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and gradually beat in sugar. Then beat in yolks one at a time. Sift together flour and baking powder, and fold into wet ingredients. Mix in milk and coffee liqueur. Pour mixture into buttered baking dish.

3. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into center of cake emerges clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. After cooling, use a toothpick or skewer to puncture cake’s surface at 2-inch intervals.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together all canned milks and rum until well combined. Carefully pour onto cooled cake. Cover cake pan with foil and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

5. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together heavy cream, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla on high until stiff peaks form, 4-5 minutes. Spread whipped cream on top of chilled cake. Finish by sprinkling with ground cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg. Serve immediately.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Corn and Bacon Pasta

Another good one from Cook's Country, this features fresh corn which struck us as kind of mind-bending when combined with pasta. It worked a treat though, with the kernels adding little crunchy, slightly sweet accents to the savory pasta.

The original recipe calls for 5 pieces of bacon. We had 8 in the fridge and decided to use them all up. It was so good that we decided we'll just go with 8 in the future too.

This recipe finishes in a flurry of activity, rather like a Chinese stir-fry, so have everything prepped before you begin cooking the pasta.

Corn and Bacon Pasta

Step 1
1 pound orecchiette

Boil in salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, drain, and return to pot.

Step 2
8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2" strips

Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp and drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet.

Step 3
3 ears corn, kernels cut from cobs OR 2-1/4 cups thawed frozen corn
1 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil (divided use)
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat fat in skilled over medium heat until shimmering. Add corn and salt and cook until corn is bright yellow and just beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cream, 1/4 cup basil, and pepper and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Step 4
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
remaining 1/4 cup basil

Add sauce, Parmesan, bacon, reserved cooking water, and basil to pot with pasta. Stir until thoroughly combined and creamy. Taste for seasoning.

Pass extra Parmesan at table for serving.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Green Goddess Chicken

From Cook's Country, this has a really fresh taste that is a nice summery meal.

Green Goddess Chicken

Step 1
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 anchovy filets, rinsed

Chop herbs just enough to measure and let blender do the real work. Process in blender until smooth.

Step 2 — make the sauce
1 tablespoon buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons herb mixture from step 1

Stir all together; set aside.

Step 3
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3 pound chicken, cut into pieces

Combine salt and herb mixture and marinate chicken in it for at least 2 and up to 24 hours.

Step 4
Heat oven to 475. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil; place chicken, skin side up on sheet. Do not brush off marinade that sticks to chicken. Roast 25 - 30 minutes.

Transfer to platter, tend with foil, let rest for 10 minutes. Serve with sauce.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Quick, Mildly Spiced Beef

This is from Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries II. It is a lot like a korma-style mild curry from an Indian restaurant.

I don't know if I'd call it "quick" since that tends to mean 20 minutes, but it was straight-forward and easy and probably took me about 45 minutes. This has a lot of sauce and is wonderful with rice.

Quick, Mildly Spiced Beef

500 g cubed chuck steak (I used hanger steak)
2 large onions, thinly sliced (I think English onions are smaller than ours. I used one large onion and it was plenty.)
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp garam masala (or whatever curry powder you have around)
500 ml veg or beef stock (I used chicken stock)
1 tbsp grain mustard
200 ml double cream (a.k.a. heavy cream)
salt and pepper

Warm the oil in a heavy shallow casserole. Season the beef with salt and pepper, then brown on all sides in the toil, turning only occasionally. remove from the pan with a draining spoon.

Meanwhile halve, peel and thinly slice the onions, and garlic. Add the onions and garlic to the pan, letting them soften a little but not brown beyond pale honey color. Stir in the ground cumin, coriander, and garam masala, then continue cooking for five minutes before returning the meat and any juices to the pabn. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for ten minutes, till the liquid has reduced by half.

Stir in the mustard, pour in the cram and bring back to the boil. check the seasoning before serving