Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Jack Daniel's meatballs

1 pound pork sausage
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup apple jelly
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
1/4 cup Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
hot pepper sauce, to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Combine all meatball ingredients. Form into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet & bake about 30 minutes or until browned & cooked through.

Combine all sauce ingredients in a large skillet. Add meatballs and coat with sauce. Cook until sauce thickens slightly. About 5 minutes. 50 meatballs. Serve with toothpicks

Baked Artichoke Squares

3 tbls olive oil
1 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup celery, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
1/3 cup green onion, chopped
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 cup shredded cheddar (about 4 oz)
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack (about 4 oz)
2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup corn oil
1/4 Cup milk

For filling: Saute mushrooms, celery, & garlic in oil until celery is tender. Remove from heat & stir in artichokes, green onions, & herbs & spices. Add cheeses & eggs & mix well. Set aside.

For pastry: combine flour & salt in medium mixing bowl. Mix oil & milk in measuring cup and add to flour mixture. Stir with a fork until mixture forms a ball. Press dough in bottom and slightly up the sides of a 13 x 9 inch baking pan, sprayed with Pam.

Spread cheese mixture on crust; bake 30 minutes or until center is set. Cool slightly & cut into 24 squares. Serve warm.

Horseradish Sauce for Standing Rib Roast

You can add more or less horseradish depending on how hot you like it.

3/4 Cup Hellman's mayonaise
1/4 Cup sour cream
1 Tbl dijon mustard
1 Tbl creole mustard
2-3 Tbl horseradish
1/4 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper

Mix all together. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Super Easy Foccacia

I make this to go with anything that requires bread on the side.

Fresh Pizza dough from the supermarket

Rosemary (dried or fresh)

Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Roll/press the pizza dough onto a cookie sheet like you were making a pizza. Let the dough rise about 30 to 45 min. After it has risen a bit, push your fingers into the dough making little dimples. Brush the dough with olive oil (it will puddle in the dimples, Yum), sprinkle with rosemary (crush it with your fingers to bring out the flavor) and sea salt.

Bake in a 375 degree oven about 15-20 min. until golden. You can freeze the leftovers.

Really easy and yummy. A variation is to add some truffle oil also. But just a little it overpowers quickly.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Mississippi Mud Ice Cream Pie

This is a great recipe because you can do so many things with it. Your imagination is the limit. It's make ahead, easy to do, what more do you want?

1 chocolate cookie crust (Make it or buy it)

3/4 pkg Nabisco chocolate wafers (They're always with ice cream cones and such), ground into crumbs
1/2 stick butter, melted
Mix together in an 9" pie plate and press to form a crust

1/2 gallon of coffee ice cream
1 cup heavy cream, whipped (optional, the filling will freeze harder without it)
1/4 cup Kahlua
1 can Hershey's chocolate sauce
1 jar of caramel sauce
Chocolate chips, nuts, or candy

Beat (using cold beaters in a cold bowl) whipping cream to soft peaks Let ice cream soften and add Kahlua. Fold whipping cream into ice cream. Layer in crust with chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, nuts, or candy. Freeze until hard about 2 hours. Remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving and slice while still frozen.

For Peanut Butter Pie: Beat about 1 cup of creamy peanut butter into vanilla ice cream. Use Frangelico or Amaretto liquor. I think it would also be fantastic to fold in chopped up Reese's peanut butter cups.

Beef Braciole

I got this recipe from Bon Appetit. It's from a restaurant in Charleston called the Oak Steakhouse.
This was absolutely fabulous. I changed it a little, because I thought there was too much liquid.
I also used only 2 Italian sausages rather than 4. I didn't think that the flank steak would roll up.

We ate this with a CASA SILVA QUINTA GENERACION 2003 (A reviewer said, "A Bordeaux blend — Chile style — with cabernet sauvignon, carmenere and petit verdot. Wild blackberry punctuated with pine and cedar on the nose. In the mouth it all comes together with dark fruits, wet forest, chocolate and expresso to go with a lingering finish.") which was delicious with it. I made pasta rather than polenta, but mashed potatoes would also be good.

Have the butcher butterfly the steak for you.

1 flank steak (about 1 1/2 pounds), butterflied
4 tbl olive oil, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tbl chopped fresh oregano
1 tbl chopped fresh thyme (I used 1 tsp dried)
1 tbl chopped fresh sage ( I had a little fresh and added 1 tsp dried)
1 3 ounce pkg pancetta, thinly sliced
1/4 Cup golden raisins
4 whole sweet Italian sausages (I used 2)

3 Cups beef broth (I used about 1 cup)
1 750-ml bottle dry red wine (I used about 1/2 a bottle)
1 26 ounce bottle marinara sauce

Open flank steak and sprinkle with salt & pepper, and rub w/ 1 tbl olive oil, parsley, oregano, thyme, & sage. Arrange pancetta sliced atop herbs. Sprinkle with pine nuts and raisins. Arrange sausage down the center of the steak. (In the same direction as the grain of the meat.) Roll meat up and tie at 2 inch intervals. (Can be made ahead & refrigerated)

Preheat oven to 325. Heat remaining 3 tbl olive oil in a wide ovenproof pot. Add steak and brown all over, about 2-3 minutes per side. Add beef broth, wine, and marinara. Bring to a boil. Cover and bake in oven for 1 hour, 45 minutes. Remove meat and cover to keep warm.

Boil sauce in pot until reduced to 4 cups, about 15 minutes. (Since I used half the stock, it only took 5 minutes or so.) Slice braciole into 1 inch slices and arrange on platter. Top with some sauce. (Any leftover sauce is great on pasta.)

Twice baked potato casserole

This is Miss Debbie's recipe, although it's not really a recipe. You can make these lower in calories, by substituting low fat sour cream and using less butter. I like Parmeseano Reggiano cheese in these, but you can use any flavorful cheese. Use your imagination, if you like it on baked potatoes, it'll be good in this.

I usually use about 1 largish baking potato for each person I'm serving. All the amount are approximate. The only way you can mess this up is to make it too soupy. If that happens, cook some more potatoes, mash them, and add to the mixture to thicken.

Serves 6

Optional: Chop 3-4 slices of bacon, fry til crisp, remove to paper towels. Reserve bacon & fat for later.

6-7 baking potatoes, peeled and diced
1+ Cup sour cream
3+ tbl butter
1/2 + Cup parmeseano reggiano cheese, grated
milk, cream, or half & half: enough to make the mixture like mashed potatoes
salt & pepper to taste

Topping: Shredded sharp cheddar cheese, bacon, drizzle with bacon grease.

Place potatoes in a pot, cover w/ cold water, season w/ tbl or so of salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook til very tender, about 20 minutes. Drain potatoes and return to pot. Mash with potato masher and then use the electric mixer to break them up. Add sour cream and butter and continue to beat with mixer. Add parmeseano and beat. Add enough milk or cream to thin to the consistency of mashed potatoes. Salt, pepper, taste & correct seasonings. Place in ovenproof casserole dish. Top with cheese and bacon. (This can be made ahead completely 1-2 days before. Reheat to room temp in microwave and then finish in the oven. ) Bake covered about 30 minutes, uncover and bake another 15-30. You can also heat them in the microwave and then just run them under the broiler for 5 minutes to finish.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


This is the "blonde" version of "Chocolate Crinkle" cookies. When I was a little girl and baked cookies at home, these were my brother David's favorite cookies.

1 c. shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. cinnamon

Mix shortening, sugar & eggs thoroughly. Measure flour and sift. Blend flour, cream of tartar,soda & salt and mix into shortening mixture. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll the balls in cinnamon/sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking shhet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Chocolate Crinkles

This is one of my favorite all-time cookie recipes. Of course, I love chocolate and do not like nuts or fruit. These cookies are for the chocolate purist!! This recipe came from a very old Betty Crocker's children's cookbook. I probably started making this recipe and the recipe for Snickerdoodles from the same cookbook when I was very young.

1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup confectioner's sugar
Mix oil, chocolate and sugar in bowl with mixer. Blend in one egg at a time until well mixed. Add vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt into oil mixture. Chill dough for several hours.
Heat over to 350. Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into the confectioner's sugar. (I put the confectioners sugar into a pie plate. Shape the spoonfuls of dough into balls. Place about 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes. Should make about 6 dozen cookies.

The Best Brownies

Ama B gave us this recipe for brownies. She found it in a magazine years ago and they said that it was Katherine Hepburn's favorite recipe for brownies. I don't know if they were her favorite but it makes me smile every time I make this recipe. I close my eyes and see Katherine Hepburn in an elegant white shirt and man-tailored trousers, eating a whole pan of these brownies.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

4 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 sticks of butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
if desired:
add 2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans;
or 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate morsels and 1/4 cup broken pieces of good quality bittersweet chocolate

Line a 9x13 pan with Release aluminum foil and spray with Baker's Secret or Pam.

Melt 4 squares of unsweetened chocolate and two sticks butter in a heavy saucepan over very low heat.

Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Add the eggs , 2 at a time; stirring just until mixed. Add vanilla.

Stir in the flour and salt. Add nuts, if desired, chocolate morsels and bittersweet chocolate.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 325 for 50 minutes. If you test with a toothpick, it will not come out perfectly clean, but they will be done with a soft fudgy center. Let cool in pan for a few minutes but cut while still somewhat warm. If knife blade is sticky, wipe with a clean dishcloth dipped in warm water after each cut. Place brownies in cupcake liner for ease of handling. (Ama B is now using heavy stoneware pan from Pampered Chef and finds that it works really well for these brownies and does not let the edges get to dry.)

You can double the recipe and bake in a 9 x 13 pan.

Chocolate Peppermint Creams

These taste like a "York Peppermint Patty"

This makes about 48 candy creams. Place 48 small paper or colored-foil candy cups on cookie sheets and set aside. Use good chocolate!

1/2 cup whipping cream
1 pound imported white chocolate (such as Lindt), finely chopped
1 cup finely crushed hard peppermint candies (about 7 ounces)
1/2 tsp peppermint extract (not peppermint oil)
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Bring cream to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add 1 pound white chocolate; whisk until melted and smooth. Whisk in crushed candies and peppermint extract.
Working quickly, spoon mixture into pastry bag fitted with medium round tip. Pipe mixture into candy cups, filling about 3/4 full. Wet fingertips and press down on candy mixture to smooth tops. Refrigerate until set; about 15 minutes.
Place bittersweet chocolate in medium metal bowl. Set over saucepan of simmering water and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from water. Spoon generous 1/2 teaspoon of melted chocolate on top of each candy cup. Shake cups gently from side to side to smooth tops. Chill candies until set. (Can be prepared 2 weeks ahead. Place in airtight container and keep refrigerated). Serve them cold.

Gingerbread Cookies

If you love the tradition of having Gingerbread cookies for the children to decorate, this is one of the most fabulous gingerbread cookie recipes you will ever make. The dough takes some time to make and can be a little difficult to work with but it is worth the effort. You can adjust the seasonings if you like, but I find the recipe to be pretty perfect. Cut into any shape you like and decorate as you please.

3 Cups flour
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unsulfered molasses
1 egg

In medium bowl, combine flour, ginger, soda cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. In mixer bowl, cream shortening and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and egg. Beat in dry ingredients just until combined. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Grease cookie sheets. Divide dough into quarters. Between two sheets of wax paper, roll one piece of the dough 1/4 inch thick; refrigerate remaining dough. With floured 2-inch cookie cutter, cut into desired shapes. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough. Decorate as desired.

Jorge Rodriquez's Chimichurri Sauce

My friends, Kathy and Jim, loved to eat at Argentinian restaurants in New York while their son was at Fordham. They love Chimichurri sauce. I saw this recipe in an airline travel magazine.

3 Tbs. kosher salt
1 cup warm water
2 bunches flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup roasted red peppers, diced
2 Tbs. sweet paprika
2 Tbs. fresh oregano
2 Tbs. dry oregano
1 Tbs. dried and crushed red pepper
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar

1. Whisk together the salt and warm water; this is called the salmuera. Set aside to cool.
2. In the work bowl of a food processor, combine the parsley, garlic and olive oil. Pulse several times. Now add all the other ingredients, and process until they are well combined, but the sauce is still somewhat chunky.
3. Transfer the sauce to a mixing bowl, and whisk the cool salmuera into it. Chimichurri sauce, tightly covered will stay good in your refrigerator for weeks.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Red Velvet Cake-From The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

I have had so many disappointing red velvet cakes--oil-based cakes with little flavor.  I
will definitely try this one. It sounds fab.

Makes one 2-layer, 9-inch cake; enough for 12 people
Time: 1 1/2 hours

For the cake:
2-3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sifted cake flour or 2-1/2 cups sifted bleached
all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring the pans
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup natural cocoa powder such as Hershey's
1 ounce red food coloring
1-1/2 tablespoons water
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pans
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest (from 1–2 oranges)
1 cup whole or lowfat buttermilk

For the icing:
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 pound cream cheese (2 packages), softened
1 pound (4 cups) sifted confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk, if needed

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-by-2-inch cake pans
or line their bottoms with greased, floured waxed paper.

2.Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together twice. In a
small mixing bowl, whisk the cocoa, red food coloring, and water to a smooth
paste, about 1 minute, and reserve.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat 1 cup butter with an electric mixer until
creamy, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating about 15
seconds after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl if
necessary, until the mixture has lightened in color and become fluffy, about 2
minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, the vanilla, and orange zest, beating for 15
seconds after each addition. Add the red cocoa paste and mix until evenly

4. Add the flour mixture to the butter and egg mixture in thirds, alternating
with 2 additions of half the buttermilk. To avoid overworking the batter, gently
mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula after each addition, until the
ingredient is just incorporated. Once all ingredients are incorporated, beat the
batter 10 to 12 strokes with your spoon or spatula if using cake flour, 2 to 3
strokes if using bleached all-purpose flour.

5. Divide the batter between the cake pans and spread the tops evenly with the
wooden spoon or spatula. Bake until a cake tester or toothpick emerges clean,
about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool in their pans on a
rack for 10 minutes, then slide a thin paring knife around the edge of the pans
and invert the cakes. Lift away the waxed paper, if using. Cool the cakes
completely on a rack, with their tops facing up.

6. In a large bowl, beat 3/4 cup butter with the mixer until creamy, about 30
seconds. Add the cream cheese and beat until the mixture is fluffy, white, and
very smooth, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time,
beating for 30 seconds after each addition, until the mixture is creamy, fluffy,
and smooth. If the frosting is too stiff, beat the milk into it to loosen it.

7. Gently ice the cake layers generously. Spoon 1 cup of icing in the center of
the first cake layer. Working an icing or rubber spatula in gentle swirling
motions, spread the icing from the center toward the edges of the cake until it
forms an even layer 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick (if you need to add more icing, add it
to the center and work it out toward the sides).

8. Carefully set the second cake layer on top of the first and ice the second
layer in the same manner, beginning with a dollop in the center and working it
out to the sides. Then ice the sides of the cake. (If you prepared your pans
well, the sides of the cake should have pulled away from the pan and baked to a
firm, flat surface. But if the sides are crumbly, brush excess crumbs away and
place a thin layer of icing on the cake to seal the crumbs in. Refrigerate for
30 minutes, then apply another, thicker layer on top of the first.)

9. Store the cake at room temperature, beneath a cake cover. If you don't plan
to eat it for 24 hours, put it on a plate, tent it with plastic wrap, and store
it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Remember to remove the cake from the
refrigerator 1 hour or more before serving to take the chill off. Serve with
glasses of cold milk.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Summer Rolls with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

I don't remember where I got this recipe from, but it is great--more trouble than the other summer roll recipe, but worth it if you have the time. I would probably replace the beet with fresh shredded cabbage, cause who has fresh beets in the house?

Yield: 20 rolls

3 ounces Vietnamese cellophane noodles, cooked according to package directions
2 cups bean sprouts
2 carrots, julienned
1 large beet, julienned
1 fresh red chile, cut in circles
2 handfuls fresh cilantro, hand-torn
3/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 lime, juiced
Sea salt
20 (8-inch) round rice paper wrappers
40 mint leaves

Put the cellophane noodles, vegetables, cilantro and peanuts in a large bowl; toss with sesame oil and lime juice to give the filling some flavor; season with salt and pepper.

Pour 3 cups of hot, not boiling water in a large shallow bowl. One at a time, immerse the rice paper wrappers in the hot water for 10 seconds to soften, then place on a slightly damp towel. The rice paper is very delicate, don't soak them any longer or they will break apart. Keep them covered while you work to prevent them from drying out and curling.

To form the rolls, lay a rice paper wrapper on a flat surface. Grab a small amount of the cellophane and vegetable mixture and lay it across the bottom third. Use less filling than you think you should, if you overstuff the wrapper it will tear. Carefully fold the bottom of the wrapper up to cover the filling. Fold in the left and right sides, then tuck and roll it over once. Lay 2 mint leaves on top, then tuck and roll it over to close the whole thing up like a tight cigar. The mint leaves should show through the transparent rice paper. Arrange the finished rolls on a platter and cover with a damp towel.

Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup hot water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon red chili paste, such as sambal

In a blender, puree the rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, hot water, sugar, lime juice, garlic, and chili paste until combined. Pour into a small bowl and serve with the summer rolls.

Yield: 1 cup

Pork Shu Mei (Money bag dumplings)

These dumplings are from the Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines. They are easy to do and can be frozen and pulled out whenever you want some. Everybody loves them. If you don't have gyoza skins, you can use wonton wrappers, but the dumplings are not quite as attractive. Without the wrappers, the filling make super chinese meatballs that you can eat with toothpicks.

The Wrapper
1 package shu-mei skins or Gyoza skins -These look like small round won ton wrappers. Look for them in the frozen section of your Asian market.

The Filling
1 lb lean ground pork, finely chopped
2 tbls light soy sauce
2 tbls dry sherry
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1 tbl sesame oil
pinch of sugar
1 tbl chopped green onion
1 egg white
1 tbl cornstarch
1 tsp salt
4 tbl chopped bamboo shoots or water chestnuts (optional)
2 cloves garlic, crushed

Mix all of the filling ingredients together well. Place about 3/4 of a tablespoon of filling in the center of a shu-mei wrapper and bring up the corns so that you have a little bag enclosing the filling. The top will be open so that you can see some of the meat.

Line a bamboo steamer with cabbage leaves . Fill with dumplings, but don't let them touch. Set the steamer over water in a wok. Turn the heat to high and Steam for 15 minutes.

You may freeze the dumplings and steam them frozen. Add about 5 minutes to the steaming time.

Dipping Sauce

1/3 C soy sauce
1-2 tbl hoisin sauce
1/2 - 1 tsp hot chile paste
1 clove garlic, crushed
1-2 tbl rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
2-3 tbl chopped cilantro

Mix all together, taste & correct seasonings

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pan gravy for Turkey

Boil turkey neck with chicken stock, cool and strain.

Remove turkey from oven and place on cutting board to rest.
Remove rack from roasting pan.
Pour off juices into a measuring cup.

Skim fat and return about 6 tbl to roasting pan. If you don't have this much, add some butter. Place roasting pan over 2 burners and bring up to heat. Add 6-8 tbl flour. Brown flour and add stock, stirring constantly, scraping pan. Bring to a boil. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme.

Make ahead Gravy for Turkey

about 3 cups of gravy

Turkey stock (substitute canned chicken stock)
1-2 weeks in advance make turkey stock and freeze. If you don't have turkey stock, use canned chicken stock, preferably unsalted.

Roast or broil turkey wings with carrots, celery & onion in oven at 375 until nicely browned
put turkey & veg in stock pot
Deglaze hot roasting pan with water & add to pot
Add water or chicken stock to cover

Bring to a boil & simmer until flavorful & concentrated 4-6 hours. Strain & cool. Refrigerate or freeze

brown roux

1 stick (6 tbl) butter
6-8 tbl flour

In a heavy skillet, melt butter & add flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until dark brown. You may make this 2-3 days ahead & refrigerate.


Heat 3 cups of stock, reduce heat so that it is not boiling. Add roux, slowly, stirring. Bring to a boil and boil for at least 3 minutes, stirring constantly. If this is not thick enough, you can mix some cornstarch with water or cold stock, reduce heat, add to stock and bring back to a boil, stirring. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme to taste.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

This is what I make for Thanksgiving now. It's really tasty & easy.

Sweet potatoes, peeled, halved, and sliced into 1/2 pieces.

Toss sweet potatoes with olive oil, sprinkle liberally with salt and bake @ 400 until brown and tender, about 20-30 minutes.

Sweet Potato Casserole

This can be made 1-2 days ahead, and baked. Reheat, top with desired topping and broil.

6-8 servings

4-5 sweet potatoes, baked
brown sugar to taste
pinch of salt
orange juice
grated orange rind

Bake sweet potatoes for 30-45 minutes @ 350 or until very tender. Halve & scrape out flesh. Mash, and add sugar, pinch of salt, oj, and cream to taste. Place in a greased casserole dish and bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until hot.

You may top this with marshmallows & broil til browned.

Or top with chopped pecans, mixed with brown sugar, and dotted with butter. Broil til browned.

Cranberry Sauce

This is from Gourmet Magazine. You can put this in a greased mold, and unmold it, but I don't bother. It's very good.

1 pkg cranberries, fresh
grated rind from 2 oranges
1 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 cup sugar

Bring oj & sugar to a boil, dissolving sugar. Add cranberries and cook, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add grated rind. Refrigerate.
Can be made 3-4 days ahead.

Pumpkin Pie

This is from Ama B's Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. I use the higher measurements for spices.

1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
2 Cups evaporated milk, or cream
3/4 Cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1-1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 - 1 tsp dried ginger
1/4-1/2 tsp cloves
3 slightly beaten eggs
1 tsp vanilla or 2 tbl brandy

Mix all together. Pour into a 9-inch, pastry lined pie pan. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 and bake 45 minutes or until mixture doesn't adhere to knife. (To test, insert knife into middle of pie, knife should come out clean.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bolognese Sauce

This was always Patrick's favorite. It takes some time, but it's worth it. I think that it's really delicious served over paparadelle with peas and generous lashings of freshly grated Parmeseano Reggiano. It's best to use homemade or unsalted stock. If you use canned stock with salt, don't add any other salt until it's reduced and you taste it.

2 tbl olive oil
2 tbl butter
1/4 cup diced pancetta
1/2 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 tsp thyme
1-2 tbl tomato puree
1/2 cup white wine or dry vermouth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups stock, mixture of beef & chicken (veal stock would be excellent), unsalted
salt & pepper to taste

In the butter and oil, saute the onion,celery, carrot, pancetta, and garlic with a pinch of salt & thyme. Add the meats and season with a pinch of salt, pepper, & thyme. Cook until no longer pink. Add the tomato paste and cook 3 minutes, stirring. Add the wine and reduce by half. Add the cream and reduce by half. Add the stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours. You should check on it every 20-30 minutes so that it doesn't get to dry. If it does just add some water and let it keep cooking.

Indian style squash saute

I don't do very much Indian cooking since your dad does not care for it, but one night when he had a business dinner, your Ama B made her chicken & green apple curry. I wanted a veg to go with it, so I checked out Madhur Jaffrey's cookbook and found a recipe for eggplant. I stole the spices and added a few twists of my own and it turned out very well. You can eat this as a side dish or as a main course with rice. You'll have to season to taste as I did not measure anything.

4 servings as a side dish

1 tbl olive oil
3 zucchini or yellow squash or a mix of both, in large dice
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1/2 orange bell pepper, in large dice
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 medium fresh tomatoes, in large dice
cumin powder
coriander powder
fennel or anise seed
salt & pepper
fresh coriander
fresh hot chile, chopped fine

Saute squash, onion, bell pepper, and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Add generous sprinkle of cumin, coriander, turmeric, and fennel seed, salt & pepper. Add tomato and continue to saute. Add a 1/4 c water and continue cooking til tender. Taste & correct seasonings. Serve with fresh coriander, chile, and fresh lime juice over rice.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Asian style Spinach with Oyster Sauce

I served this with the Asian-style Salmon Fillets.

1 pkg frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbl oyster sauce
1-2 tbl chicken stock
1/2 tsp sugar
black pepper

Defrost spinach in microwave and drain well. Place in pan with remaining ingredients. Heat, add black pepper, taste and correct seasonings.

Asian Salmon Filets

I made this last night and we really liked it. I served it with brown rice and spinach with oyster sauce.

4 Salmon filets

Marinade & Sauce:
1/2 Cup soy sauce
4 Tbl hoisin sauce
1/4-1 tsp hot chile paste (to your taste)
3 Tbl rice wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic

1/4 C chopped cilantro

Place salmon filets and 1/4 C. marinade in a ziplock bag in the fridge for 1-2 hours. Remove fish about 1/2 hour before cooking. Add cilantro to remaining sauce. Over medium-high heat, heat a non stick skillet and add 1 tbl peanut or olive oil. Add fillets, skin side down and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, turn and cook for 3-5 more minutes or until desired doneness is achieved.

Place on plates and top with remaining sauce.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Squash Casserole from Sherry Reed

Sherry is the wife of my old boss from Memphis, Larry Reed. She is a great cook, and, although I don't see them much, I always think of Larry & Sherry when I cook one of her recipes.

300 oven

3-4 lbs squash, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 bay leaves
dash thyme
couple of sprigs of fresh parsley

Cream Sauce:
2 tbl butter
4 tbl flour
2 cups milk,1/2 & 1/2, cream, or a combination
salt & pepper to taste

2 egg yolks, beaten
1 1/2 cups Gruyeres or sharp cheddar, grated
salt, pepper to taste
Worcestershire sauce
dash grated nutmeg
2 dashes cayenne

buttered bread crumbs

Boil squash w/ onion, bay leaf, parsley, & thyme until barely tender. Drain & discard bay leaf.
Place in a buttered, oven-proof casserole dish.

Make sauce by cooking butter in a sauce pan until melted, add the flour and cook at least 3 minutes. Add liquids slowly while stirring constantly. Bring back to the boil, reduce heat and add egg yolks, salt & peppers, and worcestershire, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup cheese, stirring.
Pour over squash, top with buttered bread crumbs and remaining cheese. Bake 35-40 minutes.

Scalloped Onions

This recipe comes from your dad's biological half-sister Barbara Geiger. We didn't meet her until she was almost 50 (she was almost 20 years older than your dad), but she was a great person. She died a number of years ago of pancreatic cancer. I got this recipe from her when we spent Thanksgiving with her and her family.

Serves 6

2 lbs small white onions or an equal portion of frozen onions
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1 cup cream
1 cup onion water or 1 cup milk if using frozen onions
1/4 lb. grated sharp cheddar
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/8 tsp white pepper
generous pinch of cayenne

Bread crumbs & 1 tbl butter, cut in pieces (optional)

For fresh onions: Cut an X in the bottom of each onion. Cook in boiling water until barely tender. Drain, saving 1 cup of the water. Place onions in a greased, 2 qt oven-proof casserole. Make sauce by cooking butter in a sauce pan until melted, add the flour and cook at least 3 minutes. Add liquids slowly while stirring constantly. Bring back to the boil, reduce heat and add cheese, salt & peppers. Pour over onions. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Top with bread crumbs and dot with butter. Broil,watching carefully, until browned.

Sweet Potatoes & Apricots

Ama B used to make this for Thanksgiving. I don't make it because your dad isn't crazy about apricots, but it is delicious.

6 Sweet potatoes, peeled & quartered
1 1/4 Cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 can drained apricots, juice reserved
1/2 C chopped pecans
1 1/2 Tbl cornstarch
1 tsp grated orange rind
1 cup apricot juice
2 tbl butter

Cut potatoes in half and place in buttered dish with apricots and pecans. Dissolve cornstarch in apricot juice. Combine all remaining ingredients and cook, stirring constantly over high heat until thick. Pour over potatoes and bake for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Green Bean Casserole

Yes, this is the infamous green bean casserole. I don't care that it is a cliche, I love it. I have two versions-the old stand by and a lower cal version with no mushroom soup that I make cause your dad doesn't like mushrooms.

Serves 6-8
Set oven to 350

Old Fashioned Green Bean Casserole

2 packages frozen Italian-cut green beans or an equal amount of fresh green beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans Campbells mushroom soup
4 tbl soy sauce
1 can sliced water chestnuts (optional)
1 large can french fried onion rings
salt & pepper to taste

If using fresh beans, wash, tip, slice, blanch, and drain. If using frozen beans, defrost and drain.
Add garlic, soup, soy sauce, 1/2 can of onion rings, salt & pepper to taste. Place in a greased, oven-proof casserole dish and bake covered for 40 minutes. Remove foil and top with remaining onion rings. Bake 15-20 minutes more or until onion rings are browned

New Green Bean Casserole
2 tbl olive oil
1 very large onion or 2 small onions, cut in 1/2 and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 tbl flour
1 1/2 cans chicken stock (no-fat, salt-free)
4 tbl soy sauce
2 packages frozen Italian-cut green beans or an equal amount of fresh green beans
1 can sliced water chestnuts (optional)
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 large can french fried onion rings (optional)

If using fresh beans, wash, tip, slice. If using frozen beans, defrost and drain.
On top of the stove in a covered pan over low heat, cook onion in olive oil w/ a sprinkle of salt for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid from pan, add garlic, and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes and let brown. The onions should be rich and sweet tasting. Add flour and cook 3-4 more minutes. Add stock, soy sauce, water chestnuts, green beans, salt & pepper. Place in a greased, oven-proof casserole dish and bake covered for 40 minutes. Remove foil and top with onion rings. Bake 15-20 minutes more or until onion rings are browned

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Sour Cream Cake

This is Ama B's recipe. It is very good--a twist on pound cake.

1/2 lb butter, soft
3 cups sugar
6-7 eggs
1 tsp. almond flavoring
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour (White Lily)
1 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp soda

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour. Dissolve the soda in the sour cream. Add the flour, alternating with the sour cream: 1/3 flour, 1/2 sour cream, 1/3 flour, 1/2 sour cream, 1/3 flour.
Bake 1 hour - 1 hour 20 minutes in greased tube pan.

Memoy's Pound Cake with lemon glaze

This is my grandmother's recipe. It is an old-fashion, buttery pound cake. She never added the lemon glaze, but I like it. This cake is delicious by itself or with fruit.


1 lb butter
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour (White Lily is best)
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
7 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
(grated rind of 1 lemon)

Cream butter & sugar until light and fluffy. Sift dry ingredients twice. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each, until you have used 3 and then add two at a time.  Add vanilla and mix well. Make sure all the butter is well mixed in. Put in a greased and floured tube pan. Bake 1 hr 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Or pour into 2 greased and floured loaf pans and bake 60 minutes.

Lemon glaze
juice from one lemon
3/4 Cup confectioner's sugar or enough to make a pourable glaze

Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes in pan. Invert onto cake rack and let cool.  Pour lemon glaze over cooled cake and allow to set. If you want a more intense lemon flavor, you can poke holes with a toothpick in the warm cake and pour the glaze on.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Southern style Yellow Squash

I make 2 versions of this. The old-fashioned one is a lot more fattening the the new, but it is wonderful. That being said, I like the new version too.

6 servings:

Old Fashioned Yellow Squash

6 medium yellow squash, cleaned & chopped
1 small onion, chopped
salt & pepper

Saute onion in 1 tbl butter. Add the squash, season with a little salt and stir. Add a 1/4 cup of water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and cook at least 1/2 hour. Check occasionally to make sure that it isn't burning. Once the squash starts to cook, it will produce a lot of liquid.
When the squash is tender, uncover and cook off any excess liquid. Taste and season with salt & pepper and another pat of butter.

New Fangled Yellow Squash

6 medium yellow squash, cleaned & chopped
1 small onion, chopped
salt & pepper

Place onion in the bottom of the skillet with the squash on top, season with a little salt. Add a 1/4 cup of water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and cook at least 1/2 hour. Check occasionally to make sure that it isn't burning. Once the squash starts to cook, it will produce a lot of liquid.
When the squash is tender, uncover and cook off any excess liquid. Taste and season with pepper and butter buds.

Ham Steak

This is a great quick and easy meal. Keep a ham steak in the freezer and you can have it defrosted and cooked in 10-15 minutes. I really like the Smithfield brand. You don't have to do the mustard & brown sugar, but it is good.

Set oven to broil

Place ham steak in an oven-proof baking dish. Paint it with dijon-style mustard and sprinkle with brown sugar. Broil 5-10 minutes until browned. If there is a lot of juices in the pan, drain it off. (Ham is full of water) Slice into serving pieces and serve.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


I absolutely love Three Rivers Cornmeal Mix. Even Ama B, who makes the best scratch cornbread, swears by it. Sadly, the Three Rivers brand has been axed. The next best thing is White Lily. So buy some, but make these changes to their recipe:

Equipment: 8-9" black iron skillet, well seasoned. (See How-to's)

Heat oven to 500

NO SUGAR - this is Yankee heresy
Do not use cooking oil, substitute a little bit more Crisco

Stir together the cornmeal mix, eggs, and buttermilk. Heat the Crisco in the iron skillet on the cook top until shimmering. Stir the hot Crisco into cornmeal mixture and pour back into hot skillet. Place in the oven and bake about 10-15 minutes until top begins to brown. Remove from pan and, carefully, turn out on to a plate. Slide the corn pone back into the skillet and return to the oven for another 5 minutes. Turn the pone out on to a plate, flip so that the browner side is up. Slice and serve immediately. Good cornbread waits for no man.

Black eyed peas

This will work for field peas, butter beans, or any type of beans. I rarely get fresh beans any more. You hardly ever see them in the stores. Frozen beans are really good, so that's what I use most of the time. If you get fresh you'll just need to cook them longer. If you use dry, which are also great, you'll need to pre-soak and cook them longer.

2 bags, frozen black eyed peas or 1 bag dried
meat for flavoring (ham hocks, ham bone, pieces of ham, fat back, or bacon)
onion, chopped
salt & pepper

For dried peas: Place in pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Let boil 2 minutes. Turn off heat. (If you want, you can just cover the peas with water the night before and let stand over night). Drain & proceed:

Cover beans with fresh water and add the meat and chopped onion. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer, partially covered until tender. Taste about halfway through and season with salt if needed. Frozen peas will take about 45 minutes, dried peas will take 2 or more hours.

Fried Okra

If you think that you don't like okra, try this. It's delicious anytime, but a must-have for any Southern dinner.

Equipment: iron skillet

Fresh okra (about 3 cups, sliced, for 4-6 servings)

Wash & dry the okra pods. Tip them and slice into 1/2" pieces. In a bowl mix together some cornmeal and flour (about 1 cup of cornmeal to 1/4 cup of flour). How much you need depends on how much okra you're making. Season the cornmeal & flour with some salt (about 1/2 tsp).
Heat a 1/4 cup of Crisco in the iron skillet until nice and hot. Cook the okra in batches. Don't crowd the pan. Cook until medium brown, turning as few times as possible. My grandmother Mimoi always said that if you turned it too much it would get gooey. Drain on paper towels and season with salt, if necessary, while hot.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Cheese spread with Pesto

Kathy has put a more "elegant" version of this dip on the blog but this is her original recipe. This is another great "party appetizer".

one small container ricotta cheese
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
several cloves of crushed garlic
Mix cheese and garlic together. Put in bowl sprayed with Pam that can be used as mold. Refrigerate until firm.

Pesto Sauce
2 cups fresh Basil,
2 Tbs. pine nuts, chopped
1 cup olive oil
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
few cloves garlic
Blend all ingredients until fully blended. (You can use any pesto sauce but the pesto is better when made with olive oil rather than butter)
Unmold cheese onto a platter. Pour pesto over center of cheese mold until it spreads over top and down sides. Cheese mold and pesto can be made ahead and stored separately in refrigerator for 3-5 days. Serve with "substantial" crackers.

Shrimp in Mustard Sauce

This is a wonderful and easy appetizer. If you want to serve this on a buffet where it will be out for more than an hour, put ice in a pretty bowl and place the bowl of shrimp into the ice-filled bowl. If you do this you won't have to worry about shrimp spoilage or food poisoning--never a good thing at a party. Refill your bowl of ice halfway through the party.

1/4 c. tarragon flavored vinegar
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. Coleman's dry mustard (don't even try to substitute some other brand)
2 tsp. Hot Red Pepper flakes
2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. minced parsley
6 green onions, chopped
2 - 1/2 lbs. med to large shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined; tails on.

In a 3 quart bow, whisk together vinegars, black pepper, mustard, pepper flakes and salt. While whisking, slowly pour in oil until slightly thickened. Stir in parsley and green onions. Set sauce aside. Drain cooked shrimp in colander and shake to remove excess water. Immediately stir shrimp into sauce, cover and refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days. Spoon into glass serving bowl. Serve with cocktail forks or sturdy toothpicks.
[You can save time by ordering precooked, peeled and deveined shrimp]

Cajun Pary Spareriblets

2 lbs. Spareribs
1 Tbs. Pepper
2-3 Tbs. Onion flakes
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. dry sherry
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 -1/2 tsp. grated ginger root
4 green onions, sliced thin
1-1/2 tsp tobasco sauce
pinch of salt

Have butcher split sparerib rack in half, horizontally for easier eating. Cut spareribs into individual ribs. Place ribs, pepper and onion into 6 quart pot. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 45 minutes. Drain ribs well.
Place drained ribs in large shallow roasting pan.
Prepare marinade. Pour marinade over ribs and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Drain ribs, reserving marinade. Place reserved marinade in 2-quart saucepan and cook over high heat until reduced by half.
Put ribs in roasting pan and pour marinade over ribs. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes until ribs look nice and brown. Store in marindade.
These ribs can be made ahead and frozen in marinade. Bring to room tempature and bake for 25 minutes.
[For a party of 50, I used 4x recipe or 8lbs or spareribs]

Grasshopper or Creme de Menthe PIe

This is one of the kids favorite Christmas dinner desserts. We make one as Creme de Menthe and one with Peppermint, and if the liqueur is clear, use green food coloring and red food coloring to make one green pie and one red pie for Christmas.

9-inch chocolate cookie pie crust, baked and firm

3 cups miniature marshmallows (or 30 large marshmallows)
3/4 cup half & half
----Cook in double boiler over med heat. Stir constantly until completely melted.

2 Tbs. White Creme de cacao
2 Tbs. Green creme de menthe (if clear, add some green food coloring) (to make a "Pink Lady Pie, substitute 2 Tbs. Peppermint liqueur and add red food coloring)
---Stir into marshmallow mixture until well blended.
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
---Fold gently into marshmallow mixture.
Pour into prepared pie crust. Freeze at least 4 hours. Take out of freezer just before serving. Slice with sharp knife after running blade under hot water. Garnish with chocolate curls or chocolate cookie crumbs and whipped cream.

Lamb Dinner

If you like roasted lamb , this is a great meal. It is very easy, doesn't take too long and will always be a hit. Easily serves 6.
Herb Roasted Lamb
Scalloped Potatoes--Kathy's boys could each eat an entire casserole of these potatoes.
Steamed Asparagus

Herb Roasted Lamb
1 leg of lamb, trimmed, about 6 pounds
5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
Sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Use a small, sharp knife to make thin deep slits all over leg of lamb. Insert garlic slivers and rosemary sprigs in the slits. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Let sit at room tempature for about 20-30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place lamb in roasting pan on a rack and cook for about one hour. Remove from oven and let stand for about 10 minutes before carving.

Scalloped Potatoes (Best ever!!)
2 cups heavy cream
6-8 large potatoes, peeled and sliced about 1/8 inch thick
1 clove minced garlic
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter or spray pam on a shallow casserole (about the size of a 9 x 13-inch glass pan--a shallower pan gives you more "browned potatoes" which is what my crowd likes) and set aside. In large, heavy saucepan, bring cream to a boil and add the slice potatoes and garlic and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add salt & pepper to taste. Pour potatoes, garlic and cream into prepared casserole and bake until the potatoes brown and cream has thickened. [if you want to be really sinful, put some gueyere cheese on top and run under broiler]

Steamed Asparagus
Clean asparagus and break off the thick ends. Place 1/4-1/2 inch water in large skillet and put asparagus spears in single layer in skillet. Cover with lid and steam just a few minutes. Remove asparagus from hot water and run under cold water to stop cooking. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper to taste. [You can also add some small grape tomatoes to plate to add some color]

Bibb and Endive Salad with Spiced Pecans and Bleu Cheese

This is a favorite salad for a winter dinner pary. Make extra spiced pecans to set out in a bowl for snacking with drinks ( I always make a double batch of the pecans but it is easier to cook as two separate batches because 2 cups pecans makes it difficult to evenly cook the pecans.)
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 cup pecans
1 1/2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
In a small skillet heat oil over med. heat till hot but not smoking, add next 3 ingredients, stir and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until pecans are a few shades darker but not burned. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
6 cups torn Bibb lettuce
2 heads Belgian endive, cut crosswise into 1 inch pieces
4 1/2 Tbs. olive oil ( + or - to taste)
ground pepper
2 Tbs. lemon juice
4 1/2 Tbs. crumbled, bleu cheese
In a salad bowl, toss together bibb lettuce and endive, drizzle olive oil over greens and sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste. Toss salad to coat with oil, drizzle with lemon juice and toss to distribute evenly. Add pecan and blue cheese and toss salad before serving.

Blue Cheese and Bacon Dip

This recipe can be made ahead and kept in refrigerator which makes it a great appetizer for a dinner party or appetizer party. Just throw in oven when you are ready.

1/4 lb. bacon, chopped and cooked until done but not crisp, drain
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. half & half
1/4 lb. Blue Cheese, crumbled

Cook bacon as directed, drain. Saute garlic in bacon drippings. Mix all ingredients together. Put in small (about 1quart) baking dish that has been sprayed with Pam. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Great with Breton crackers. Can be made in advance and refrigerated before baking (will keep in fridge for 3-5 days before baking which makes it a great recipe for hosting an appetizer party!!)

Oatmeal Crisps

I got this recipe from Kathy's mom, Ama B, but if you like oatmeal cookies, these are as good as it gets. The nice thing is you can shape the cookie dough into rolls and wrap and freeze and then slice off a few cookies at a time for baking. In my house, they still don't last very long. More than one person has referred to these as "the best oatmeal cookies"

Makes 5 dozen cookies
1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
3 cups quick rolled oats

Cream shortening, sugar, eggs & vanilla. Beat well. Sift flour, salt & soda and add to creamed mixture. Stir in oats by hand and mix well.
Form dough into 2 rolls about 1 or 1 1/2 inch in diameter. (Mine always look a little more oval than round ). Chill thoroughly and slice into 1/4 inch thick slices and bake on ungreased baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. [You can also drop by small spoonfuls directly onto baking sheet if you are in a hurry, they are not quite as crisp but they are still very good.] [As I said above, you can wrap the rolls in wax paper and then in heavy duty foil and store in freezer for several weeks and can then slice and bake as needed. It doesn't take long for the dough to get soft enough to slice]

Friday, October 19, 2007

Cherege/Angel Wings

My mother's parents were from Eastern Europe somewhere near Poland or Croatia or Austria-Hungary depending on where the borders of these countries are at any given time. "Cherege" was one of the first polish words I learned (after babushka, which was a scarf worn on your head and made famous by the long-time radio sportscaster for the Pittsburh Pirates, Bob Prince. The fans would wave babushka's with the pirate logo to show their support for the team.) "Cherege is like a doughnut or funnel cake, they are fried and dusted with powder sugar. They are shaped into little bowties before they are fried and puff when they hit the oil. They were a big hit at church fairs in Pittsburgh. This is a recipe from Mary Slbodnik.

1 cup buttermilk
4 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 T. Shortening
1 c sugar
2 eggs, beaten

Set aside milk, then sift together in bowl the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add 2 Tbs. shortening to the one cup sugar and mix; then blend into flour. Add eggs and the cup of milk. Mix well and add flour or liquid if necessary to make a soft dough. Roll out about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 2 by 1 1/2 inch rectange. Cut a slit in the middle and pull opposite ends through. Fry in shortening like you wuld doughnuts. Sprinkle with powder sugar. Drain on paper towels or paper plates before serving.

Nut Rolls

I don't like nuts but I have made these nut rolls for everyone else and they are "to die for". The recipe makes several rolls, so they can be shared as a Christmas gift. After cooking the rolls and cooling, transfer to a piece of cardboard cut to the size of the wroll. Wrap in plastic wrap, then wrap in heavy duty foil, seal and freeze.

8 cups flour
1/2 lb butter, softened
7 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large cake yeast(dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water)[OR use 3 pkg dry yeast dissolved per package instructions)
4 eggs beaten
1/2 pt sour cream
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together the flour, salt and sugar in large bowl. Cut in soft butter. Add beaten eggs, sour cream, vanill and dissolved yeast. Knead until smooth. Divide dought into 8 equal parts. Roll each part of dough into thin rectangle (about the thickness of a pie dough). Spread each rectangle with ground nut or poppy seed filling (see below) and rough dough, tightly, turning ends of roll under. Brush tops of each roll with evaporated milk. Place rolls (they will spread) on greased baking sheet and let rolls rise on pans for 1/2 hour in warm spot prior to baking. Bake rolls at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool.

Nut filling:
2 lbs. shelled ground walnuts
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Milk (just enough to moisten nut mixture)
Heat over nuts and sugar over low flame to dissolve sugar in nuts. Cool before spreading on dough.

Poppy Seed:
"Baker's" makes a brand of Poppy Seed filling (normally found in baking section). One jar will generally cover 2 rolls.


This is another traditional polish recipe that was often served on Friday's when Friday's were a no meat day.

one head cabbage;, shredded
one chopped onion
1/4-1/2 cup butter
1 pt cottage cheese
one package extra wide noodles, cooked and drained

Salt shredded cabbage and let stand a few minutes. Squeeze dry with hands. Cook chopped onion in butter. Add drained cabbage and steam until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Mix noodles with cabbage and cottage cheese. Add salt and pepper as desired.

Antipasto Party

What can be easier than a good antipasto party . Use some of these recipes and add your favorite cheeses, pickles, olives, salami, prosciutto and melon and great wine.

Marinated Shrimp
1 pound large shrimp, cooked with shells removed, leaving the tails on.
2 Tbs. tarragon vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tbs. chopped oregano (fresh is best)
1/2 tsp of salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Combine everything but shrimp in a mixing bowl. Place shrimp into plastic zip lock bag and pour other ingredients over shrimp. Marinate for 3 to 4 hours in refrigerator.

Roast Peppers
6 large bell peppers (red and yellow)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
fresh ground pepper to taste

Place peppers on gas flame or gas grill and roast, turning often until skin is completely black. Put the peppers in a plastic zip lock bag and let stand for 5-10 minutes. Rub off the charred skin. Cut the peppers in half and seed. Then slice the peppers, thinly. Arrange peppers in shallow dish and sprinkle with olive oil, garlic and pepper. Marinate for several hours and serve with crispy bread rounds.

Seed several large tomatoes and chop. Add a clove or two of freshly minced garlic. Toss with olive oil and good balsamic vinegar and fresh chopped basil. Let flavors marinate for several hours in refrigerator. Drain liquid and serve brushetta with crispy bread rounds or toasted bread.

Apricot Cold Dough Cookies

These are amazing when they are hot out of the oven. Make the dough and just before baking, invite friends over to eat some while they are hot out of the oven. The cookies will keep when stored in an airtight container.

Cold Dough Pastry
4 cup flours
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large, fresh cake yeast (broken into pieces)--I haven't been able to find large cake yeast for a long time but 3 small cake yeasts equal one large or you could use 3 pkgs. dry yeast mixed with warm water, until foaming)
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup crisco
1/2 pt. sour cream
1 jar of apricot filling
Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add yeast egg yolks, shortening and sour cream and mix using pastry blender. Divide into 3-4 sections and refrigerate until ready to use. Rool onto floured board and cut into 2 inch squares. Cut each square at corners with a slice toward the center but not all the way. Put small dollop of apricot filling in the center and then starting at one corner, fold one side of each corner to the center (will form a pin wheel). Press the dough in the center to keep in place, sprinkle with sugar and bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. (Don't use too much filling or it will spill out the edges of the cookie and burn to the cookie sheet; bake a few to judge whether you have the right amount of filling and have used the right amount of pressure to keep dough from "popping" apart.
Alternate: Instead of pinwheel shape; turn square so it is a diamond and place filling in to center. Pull corners to center;press into center. Sprinkel with sugar and bake as above.

Lady Locks

These cookies are traditional Christmas cookies. They are extremely time consuming. They have an incredibly high fat content BUT they are fabulous!! They are small rolls of flaky dough (like a small soft, cannolli) and then stuffed with a sweet marshmallow cream filling. My mother got this recipe from a neighbor who measured her flour with "large white coffee mug"--not sure what the conversion is but we have gotten pretty close. The large quantity of Crisco used for the pastry may scare you, but it is what makes the pastry soooo flakey! I am not sure how many cookies this will make because it is so time consuming, I generally stop before I finish with all the dough.

3cups flour
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 pound Crisco
Mix together and refrigerate for two hours. Poll out dough to a rectangle about 10 by 12 inches and spread 1/3 pound of Crisco. Fold over 1/3 of dough and then fold over remaining 1/3 (so all Crisco is covered. Place in refrigerator on floured cookie sheet for 1/2 hour. Roll out again and spread with 1/3 pound of Crisco. Fold in half and then in half again. Refrigerate another 1/2 hour. Repeat for a third time with remaining shortening. Fold again. Place on floured cookie sheet and let stay overnight in refrigerator.
Divide dough into thirds. Keep dough in refrigerator while you work with first third of dough.
Roll out about 1/8 inch thick and cut into 1/2 wide strips about 4-6 inches long. Use dowel rods cut 4 1/2 inches long, wrapped with foil. Or if you can find the old wooden clothes pins, you can wrap dough around the clothes pins. Make sure the dough overlaps as you wrap. They should be about 2-3 inches long. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 400 for about 15 minutes. Take off sticks and cool immediately.

Marshmallow frosting:
5/8 cup (1/2 cup + 2 Tbs) white corn syrup (Karo), 1 egg white, pinch salt & 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Heat syrup until boiling. While syrup is boiling beat egg white at high speed with salt until stiff but not dry.Pour hot syrup slowly over egg white and beat until stiff. Pipe into Lady Lock shells using a plastic bag with corner cut off.

Sauerkraut and Pork Roast

My friend Kathy and I alternate New Year's Day cooking. Kathy's family follows southern cooking traditions for New Year's and I introduced her to my family's Polish traditions. Since then we have cooked "Sauerkraut and Pork Roast" on many occassions. Many people have told me that they don't like sauerkraut but I think its because they have never had it cooked properly. You can't just dump it out of a can. Try this recipe and you may find you like sauerkraut. When I was growing up, we would have a neighborhood New Year's eve party with all the kids and adults. It was always a great time. The pork and sauerkraut cooked all evening in a large roasting pan and we would start eating after everyone had toasted the New Year. You can adjust quantities to suit the size of your party. This is best served with mashed potatoes and great rye or pumpernickel bread.

1 large onion, chopped
2-3 Tbs. shortening
several bags or jars of fresh sauerkraut (don't use cans, try to find the bags or jars in the refrigerator section of your grocery store)
pork roast, kielbassi, brautwurst, hot dogs (depending on numbers you will be feeding)

brown onion in shortening in bottom of large roasting pan. Add sauerkraut. The pork needs juice to cook but if there is too much, you can drain some juice but be sure to reserve the juice and then you can add back if it starts getting a little dry. Place pork and sausages on top of sauerkraut (if pork roast is going to take more than an hour to cook, add sausages during the last hour of cooking.) (You can use a roast or pork chops or a variety of sausages, but you want the fat from the meat drippings to really flavor the sauerkraut) Roast in 350 degree oven varying cooking time to accomodate the size of pork roast you are using. Cook until pork is thoroughly cooked and sauerkraut is brown and most of the liquid has cooked off. (You can cover with foil and keep in low warm oven). Options: You can add some chopped apple if you want a little sweetness)


Pirohi is another traditional polish meal. Many of the churches in Pittsburgh have church ladies who spend the day cooking pirohi and putting them in "boil bag" pouches. They are time consuming to make, but the results are spectacular. They are a great side dish. They are a flour dough dumpling, shaped into triangles and can be filled with mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, sweet cabbage, cottage cheese or lekvar (a prune based jam).

2 c. flour

1 tsp salt

1 egg

warm water, enought to hold dough together

Sift flour, salt; add egg and water to make a soft dough. Tourn onto lightly floured board and knead gently for about five minutes. Allow to stand about 10 minutes. Roll dough very thin. Cut into two inch squares. Place a filling (see below) in the center; fold into a triangle and seal edges tightly by pinching.

Drop into boiling water; allow to simmer until they float to the top, about 5 minutes; drain.

Brown butter and pour over pirohi.


Mashed potatoes. You can add some sharp cheese to standard mashed potatoes, if you like.

Sauerkraut. Drain good quality sauerkraut (generally in a bag or jar in the refrigerator section). Fry the sauerkraut in a little shortening and add salt and pepper. Cool and then place in center of square.

Sweet cabbage. Shred one small head of cabbage. Salt the shredded cabbage and let stand a few minutes. Squeeze dry with hand. Chop a small onion and fry in small amount of butter. Melt 2 T butter in large fry pan, add sauerkraut and onions and steam for about 15 minutes. Let cool. Place in center of square. Fold and boil as indicated above.

Cottage cheese. Squeeze liquid out of 1/2 lb. cottage cheese. Mix cottage cheese with one egg yolk and salt to taste. Place on prepared square of dough and boil as indicated.

Sour Mushroom Soup

Ok, this one sounds a little strange, but trust me, everyone who tries it is surprised at how goot it is. This is a traditional Polish soup (Machanka) that is served for good luck on New Year's Eve. (I am not a fan of mushrooms but I strain out the mushrooms and love the broth.) It's great with small square noodles or the very small bowtie noodles. (Most people who try this soup think it tastes like a Chinese sweet & sour soup) If you have never cooked this quantity of mushrooms, be prepared for the "aroma" that will fill the house)

7 cups fresh mushrooms, chopped
3 quarts water
1 small onion
3 T. butter
3 T. flour
1 quart sauerkraut juice (some stores actually carry sauerkraut juice but if not, just strain from cans or bottles of sauerkraut)
salt and pepper taste
Cooked noodles (use small squares or small bowties)

Cook mushrooms in water for 1 hour. Brown butter and onion in separate pan. Add flour to butter and brown well. Add sauerkraut juice to butter mixture and boil for 5 minutes. Add to mushroom/water and boil 1/2 hour longer. Serve with cooked noodles.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Cookbooks I like

If you are just starting out, the one cookbook that you must have is Joy of Cooking. It has recipes for anything and everything--meats, casseroles, pickles, jellies. If you want to cook it, Joy will tell you how. Additionally, it is a gold mine of information on cuts of meat, measurements, substitutions, even how to set a table. Other cook books have celebrity chefs, but Joy has time-tested recipes and advice.

For Italian, I think that Marcella Hazan is a genius. Classic Italian Cooking would be my choice. Every recipe is delicious and usually deceptively simple. For French, I love Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Simca's Cuisine by Simone Beck. I like Martha Stewart's Christmas Book and Maida Heatter's book about cookies. (Miss Debbie has her Cake Bible which she likes a lot.) For Cajun and Creole cooking there is nothing better than Cajun-Creole Cooking by Terry Thompson. Most cookbooks will have one or two recipes you like. Everything that I've cooked from this book is fabulous.

Gateau au chocolat: Le Diabolo

I want to republish this cake because, not only is it delicious, but it's almost as easy as making brownies. Don't be put off by the fancy, French name. This cake is really fast to make--1 pan and a glaze that is poured on. It is the best chocolate cake I have ever made. It was always Patrick's birthday cake, decorated with fresh raspberries on top. If you don't want to fool with fresh fruit on top, use fresh or frozen raspberries, pureed with some sugar and a little lemon juice, as a sauce. The tangy berries really set off the rich chocolate taste of the cake.

This recipe comes from Simca's Cuisine by Simone Beck. It's a splendid cookbook that I use often. The recipe says that it serves 6, but this cake is so rich that it can easily serve 8-10. This cake should be refrigerated before serving and is, perhaps, better the next day.

For 6:

Preheat oven to 375

Butter and flour for the cake pan
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs, separated
6 ounces German Sweet chocolate, broken into pieces
3/4 cup butter
4 tbl cake flour
2 tbl almonds, blanched and pulverized
1/8 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

Equipment: and 8" cake pan, 1 3/4-2" deep

Cut a round of waxed paper or parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Butter the sides of the pan. Lay the paper in the pan & butter the pan. Flour the pan and discard excess. Set aside.

Beat the sugar with the 4 egg yolks until creamy yellow. Put the chocolate & butter into an enameled saucepan over simmering water and stir until melted. Add the egg & sugar mixture, and continue stirring over low heat until well blended. Remove from heat.

Stir in the flour, baking powder, & the pulverized almonds.

Beat the 4 egg whites with the pinch of salt until stiff but not dry. Stir one quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it; then fold all back into the remaining egg whites.

Fill the cake pan 3/4 full and tap it gently to distribute the mixture evenly. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the outside is solid and the center still creamy, but not runny when tested with a knife. Let the cake cool on a rack before unmolding.

Chocolate Butter Cream

5 ounces German's sweet chocolate
3 tbl coffe or water
4 tbl butter, at room temp

In the double boilder melt the chocolate with the coffee or water until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Pour on top of the unmolded chocolate cake, using a metal spatula (dipped in hot water and dried) to spread.

To decorate: I like this decorated with fresh raspberries, but you can use slivered almonds or chocolate coffee beans too. Refrigerate before serving.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

We always make these at Christmas time. Everybody, especially the children, love them. This is Miss Debbie's recipe.

3 dozen cookies

Preheat oven to 375

1/2 Cup butter
1/2 Cup peanut butter
1/2 Cup white sugar
1/2 Cup light brown sugar

1 egg
2 tbl milk
1 tsp vanilla

1 3/4 Cup flour
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt

White sugar for rolling cookies
1 package chocolate kisses

Cream 1st four ingredients until light and fluffy. Add liquids and mix. Sift dry ingredients together, add and mix well.

Roll dough in sugar by rounded spoonful, shaping into 1" balls. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and place a chocolate kiss in center of each cookie. Return to oven and bake 2-5 minutes longer or until very lightly browned.

Lemon Bars

A southern favorite, Lemon Bars are easy and delicious.

25 bars

Preheat oven to 350

Shortbread Base:
1 Cup flour
1/2 Cup butter
1/4 Cup confectioners sugar

Lemon Topping:
2 eggs
1 Cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbl lemon juice

Base: Mix flour & sugar together. Cut butter into dry ingredients until crumbly. Press into an ungreased 8x8x2" baking pan (I line mine with aluminum foil), creating a 1/2" edge all around.
Bake 20 minutes.

Beat remaining ingredients about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Pour over hot crust. Bake 25 minutes or until no imprint remains when touched lightly in center. Cool on a rack and cut into bars.

Blonde Brownies

These are Phillip's favorites. He has never been a huge chocolate fan so these are perfect--just enough chocolate, but not too much. Basically, these are chocolate chip bar cookies.

3 dozen bars

Preheat oven to 350

2 2/3 Cup flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 Cup butter
2 1/4 Cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 C chopped nuts
1 6 oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

Grease a 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 " pan. (I usually line it with aluminum foil and then spray with Baker's Secret)

Sift dry ingredients together. Melt butter and stir in brown sugar. Cool 10 minutes and add eggs. Stir well to combine. Stir in dry ingredients, nuts, and chocolate chips. Spring in pan.
Bake 20-25 minutes, until center springs back when lightly touched. Cool on a rack and cut into bars.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Amaretto Cheesecake

I got this recipe from Maribeth Ergen. If you like Amaretto, you'll love this cheesecake.
Make this the day ahead.

Put a roasting pan half full of water into oven. Preheat oven to 350

40 vanilla wafers
3/4 C finely slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 C sugar
1/4 C, plus 2 tbl melted butter

3 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 C sugar
4 eggs
1/3 C whipping cream
1/3 C amaretto
1 tsp vanilla

1 C sour cream
1 Tbl amaretto
1 Tbl sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Crust: Spray a 9" springform pan with Pam. In a food processor-process ingredients & press evenly over bottom and sides of pan.

Filling: Process cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, processing in between. Add cream, process. Add amaretto and vanilla and process well. Pour into crust. Place foil wrapped pan into the roasting pan of water. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 225 and bake 1 hour and 45 minutes. Cook on rack 5 minutes. (Can be frozen at the point. Defrost to room temperature before proceeding.)

Topping: Combine all ingredients and spread over cake. Bake 5 more minutes. Cook, cover and refrigerate overnight. Unmold and serve.

Ama B's Rice Pudding

Another of my favorite childhood recipes that I don't make because your father doesn't like it. For me this is the best--a sweet and homey taste of childhood. It's also a great way to use up leftover rice.

Preheat oven to 350

4 beaten eggs
3/4 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 C. scalded milk
2 C cooked rice
1 C raisins
1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt

Mix all together and pour into greased, oven proof casserole dish. Place in bain marie (pan of water) and bake 1 hour.

Mimoi's Heavenly Hash

This recipe sounds disgusting, but it is delicious. Neither of my grandmothers would have dreamt of serving a big dinner without this on the table. It was never considered a dessert, rather a sweet "salad". Many people add mandarin oranges, but I like it just like this. Start this 1 day ahead.

1 small bag miniature marshmallow
1 large can crushed pineapple with juice

1/2 Cup whipped cream
1/2 Cup roughly chopped pecans

The night before, mix together the marshmallows and pineapple. Chill overnight. Before serving, fold in whipped cream and pecans.

Summer Shortcake

Really fresh and delicious. If you don't have fresh ginger for the shortcake, omit it. It will just taste more traditional. The fruit mixture is nice, but use whatever combination of fruit you have on hand. This recipe calls for a food processor, but you could do it all by hand.

Preheat oven to 450

Raspberry Sauce:
3 C fresh raspberries
1/4 C sugar
2 Tbl water
2 tsp lemon juice (fresh)

1 1/2" fresh ginger peeled
2 C flour
1/2 C sugar
1 Tbl plus 1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C butter, chilled and roughly cut into tablespoon-size chunks
1 C chilled whipping cream

2 C strawberries
1 C blackberries
1 C blueberries
1 C Bing cherries, halved and pitted
fresh mint

Whipped Cream:
1 C whipping cream
3 tbl sugar (preferably confectioners sugar)
1 tsp vanilla

Sauce: Puree all ingredients in processor and set aside.

Shortcake: Butter 2 8" cake pans. With machine running, chop ginger. Add dry ingredients. Turn machine off and add butter. Turning machine off and on, cut butter in until mixture resembles course meal. Turn machine on and pour cream through tube. Mix about 5 secs, do not let it form a ball. Chill. Divide into 2 balls, flatten slightly. Place into cake pans and pat out to fill pans. Bake 12 minutes. Let cool on racks.

Whipped Cream: In a chilled bowl, whip cream slightly. Add sugar and beat until moderately thick. Add vanilla.

Fruit: Stir fruit & sauce together

Assembly: Layer cake, fruit, whipped cream twice.


Growing up right next door to Tarpon Springs, we always had great baklava available. In Knoxville it's easier to make it than to find it.

If you don't have enough walnuts, you can use a combination of almonds and walnuts.

Makes about 60 pieces

Preheat oven to 325

4 cups (1 lb) walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 1/4 Cups butter, melted
1 16-oz pkg frozen phyllo dough (about 20 18 x 4 inch sheets), thawed

1 1/2 Cups sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
2 tbl lemon juice
2 inch stick cinnamon

For filling: Stir together nuts, 1/2 cup sugar & cinnamon

Assembly: Brush the bottom of a 15 x 10 x 1-inch pan w/ some melted butter. Unfold phyllo dough. Keep phyllo covered with a barely damp cloth, removing sheets as you need them. Layer about 5 sheets in the pan, generously brushing each sheet with melted butter as you layer, (Don't worry if they tear a little.) allowing phyllo to extend up the sides of the pan. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of filling on top. Repeat layering the phyllo and filling twice. Layer remaing sheets atop the 3rd layer of filling, brushing each with butter. Drizzle any remaining butter over the top. Trim edges of phyllo to fit the pan. Using a sharp knife, cut through all the layers to make 60 diamond, triangle, or square-shaped pieces.

Bake in a 325 oven for 35-45 minutes or until golden. Slightly cool on wire rack.

Syrup: While baklava is baking, in a medium saucepan stir all ingredients together. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick. Pour syrup over slightly cooled baklava in the pan. Cool completely

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Miss Sally's Chocolate Mousse

I love this mousse--rich and delicious. You can serve it in individual dishes chilled if you don't want to fool with all the ladyfingers, freezing, and unmolding.

2 sticks soft butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp any other flavoring or more vanilla
1 lb semi-sweet chocolate, melted over double boiler or in microwave @ low heat
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy, whipping cream
pinch of salt
ladyfingers or Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies (pry them apart)

Cream butter & 1/2 cup sugar. Add 3 egg yolk, vanilla & flavoring and mix well. Add
cooled, melted chocolate and mix well. In a separate bowl-beat egg whites & salt until soft peak stage. Add 1/4 Cup sugar, gradually, and beat until stiff, but not dry. In a seperate bowl, whip cream to soft peaks. Lighten chocolate mixture by stirring in 1/3 of whites. Then fold in remaining whites and whipped cream. At this point you can place in individual dishes and refrigerate until cold. OR: Spray a 9" springform pan with Pam. Cut the bottoms off the lady fingers so that they will stand up in a 9" springform pan. Place the prettiest side out. Add the mousse, cover, and freeze at least 3 hours. Unmold and decorate with raspberries or strawberries. Let stand at room temperature about 45 minutes before serving.

Ama B's Egg Custard

I don't make this very much because your dad doesn't like it, but it's my favorite. Whenever I was sick as a youngster, Ama B made this for me. It's creme caramel without the caramel.

Preheat oven to 325

5 eggs
3/4 C sugar
2 C milk (preferably, whole milk)
1 tsp vanilla
grated nutmeg (fresh if possible)

Beat 5 eggs. Add sugar and beat. Stir in milk, vanilla, and nutmeg. Pour into oven-proof casserole dish. Set in bain marie* and bake about 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

*Place casserole into a roasting pan and add boiling water about 1/2 way up the side of the casserole dish.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Beef Stew

Another favorite of your dad's. This is just good homey food that tastes great on a winter night.
Change this according to your mood. It would be good with mushrooms, prosciutto, and rosemary. Take out the potatoes and serve over polenta. This is really just a cooking method, more than a recipe.

Serves 4-6

1-3 tbl olive oil
1-1 1/2 lbs chuck roast, cubed or stew meat
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 carrot, chopped finely
2 tbl flour
1 Cup of dry vermouth, white wine or red wine
2 cans beef stock
1-2 tbl tomato paste
1 tbl Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
salt & pepper
3 carrots, chopped in fairly large pieces
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 package of frozen baby onions (optional)
1/2 package of frozen peas (optional)

Put oil in a heavy dutch oven and heat up. Salt and pepper the beef and brown in batches in the pan. Don't crowd the pan or it won't brown. Remove the meat and add the onions, garlic, and the chopped carrots. Season with a pinch of salt and cook until browned. Add the flour and cook, browning for 3-4 minutes. Add the tomato paste, the wine and stock and cook, stirring until smooth. Add the meat, worcestershire, bay leaf, thyme, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for at least 1 hour. ( This is even easier if you put it in the oven at 350.) Add the carrots, potatoes, and onions and cooks another 30 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender. Taste & correct the seasonings. Just before serving, add the frozen peas.


This isn't "authentic" (if there is such a thing). It's just an easy family recipe. We used to always make this for Halloween. You can make this recipe healthier by using ground turkey instead of beef. When I do this I always add some beef stock to give it a meatier taste.

Your dad likes this served over elbow macaroni. Some people like it over rice, but I like it best plain with saltines. If you like you can top this with cheese, chopped onions, salsa, jalapeƱos.

Serves 6-8

1 lb ground beef or ground turkey (1 tbl olive oil if you're using turkey)
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small can tomato paste
2 small cans tomato sauce
1 can Rotel
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 cans red beans
1 tbl cumin
1 tbl chili powder
1-2 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
salt, black pepper

Cook ground beef w/ some of the spices until no longer pink and skim off most of the fat. Add onions and garlic and another sprinkle of spices and saute until translucent. If you're using turkey--Saute the onion and garlic with some spice in olive oil, then add the turkey and some more spice and saute til no longer pink. Add tomato paste and saute 3 minutes. Add remaining tomato products (1 cup beef stock if using turkey) and beans and add some more of the spices, a little salt and pepper. Simmer, partially covered, for at least 30 minutes. Taste and reseason if necessary.

Monday, September 24, 2007

How to print a recipe

The simplest way to print a recipe is to highlight* the recipe, copy it, and paste it into a word document.

*For some reason, it's easier to start at the end of a recipe and highlight back to the beginning than vice versa.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Spanish Bean Soup

Original recipe (Mom's revised recipe follows)
¼ lb. Dried garbanzos
1 Chorizo (Spanish sausage)
4 oz. Wh. bacon
1 onion, diced
1 ½ qts. Water
1 ham bone
1 beef bone
½ lb. Potatoes
2 oz. Lard
1 pinch saffron
1 Tbl. Salt

Soak garbanzos overnight with 1 tsp. Salt in sufficient water to cover beans. Before cooking, drain salted water from beans and put garbanzos, beef bone and ham bone in 1 ½ qts. Water. Cook 45 minutes over slow fire. Fry bacon (salt pork) and finely chopped onion, then place in pot, adding potatoes, saffron and salt. When potatoes are done, remove from fire, add chorizo sliced thin. Serves four.

Note: this recipe can be increased by just adding another potatoe or a little more ham. I taste a lot when I am cooking to make sure the flavor is right, so you may want more beef broth to enrich the flavor.

SPANISH BEAN SOUP - (Barbara Bratton’s revised recipe)

In order to make this recipe quicker to prepare, just as flavorful or more so, and to avoid those dried garbanzos which refuse to soften, I made the following


3 slices regular bacon
2 or 3 cans chicken stock
Pinch Saffron
1 large onion, diced
1 can beef broth
l ½ oz. Chorizo
l clove garlic, minced
½ slice of center cut ham in large dice or leftover ham
6 Potatoes, in chunks
2 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

In a large dutch oven:
Chop bacon and saute in a little olive to prevent sticking. When crisp, remove from pan, drain on paper towels and use to sprinkle in bowls of soup or save for a salad. Add diced onion and garlic to pot and cook on medium heat until transparent. Add chicken and beef stock, potatoes, ham and saffron and garbanzos. Add salt if needed, but not too much because the stock and ham both are salty and more can be added later if needed. Cook until potatoes are almost done before adding chorizo..

Remove casing from chorizo sausage. I make a shallow cut down the side and use a paring knife to peel casing away. Slice rather thin and add to soup pot for the last 10 minutes or so of cooking. Correct the seasonings. Serve with good French bread or Cuban bread if you can find it and a salad.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Chicken and Dumplings

I'm going to tell you how to make this just like my grandmother told me, but I'll give you a few tips along the way. This is quicker if you do the stock the day before. This is definitely not a diet dish. It is very rich and filling. I think that you should serve it with turnip or collard greens.

Serves 6

1 pkg chicken necks and/or backs
1-2 stalks of celery
1 onion, whole
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces

1/2 C rich milk or 1/2 and 1/2
1/2 stick of butter (optional)

In a large stock pot, put the chicken necks and backs, the celery, and the onion and enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and simmer for at least 2 hours . You can skim the scum several times. Strain and return to the stock pot. Season the stock with salt and pepper, add the chicken pieces, and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the chicken is done, about 40 minutes.


2 Cups of flour
1 tsp salt
1/3 C crisco

Cut the crisco into the flour and salt as if you were making pie crust. Add enough water to hold the mixture together. Generously flour your board and roll dough out thinly. Cut into roughly 2 inch x 6 inch strips. Flour the top of the dumplings. (this is going to thicken your stock)

Bring the stock to the boil and lay the dumplings on top 1 at a time. As each one is covered by stock, you can add another. Don't stir unless you have to. I use the end of a long spoon if I need to. Add 1/2 Cup of milk and optional butter. Serve immediately

Monday, September 10, 2007

Breakfast Fried Rice

This is the only recipe that your father taught me, but it is really good--a great way to use up leftover rice. The amount you make depends on the amount of rice that you have. If you have more rice than the recipe calls for, just add more bacon and another egg. You can also add any leftover meat or veg (like peas or carrots) you have.

2 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 Cup cold, leftover rice
2 eggs
1 tbl soy sauce
salt & pepper

Fry bacon over medium high heat until crisp. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add any leftover meat or veg. Add rice and cook until hot. Move rice to the sides of the frying pan, leaving an empty space in the middle. Beat eggs with a fork and add to the middle of the pan. As the egg solidifies, push the outside edge to the middle. Turn and chop into small pieces and mix into rice. Season with soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Taste & correct seasonings.

French Toast

You can use lots of different kinds of bread for this--cinnamon raisin, brioche--whatever you have. Your dad likes this with maple syrup. I like strawberry preserves.

Custard mix
1 egg
1 C milk or cream
1 tbl sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp vanilla
a pinch of salt

sliced bread, 4-6 slices depending on their size

butter & oil for frying

Beat the egg in a shallow dish and add remaining ingredients except for bread. Heat 1 tsp butter & 1 tsp oil in a non stick skillet over medium high heat. Add bread 1 or 2 pieces at a time to custard and let it soak up the mixture. Don't let the bread soak so long that it falls apart. Place bread in skillet and cook until browned and puffed, turning once. Continue cooking bread until all the custard mixture is gone, adding butter and oil when necessary.

You can sift confectioners sugar over the toast if you like. Serve w/ maple syrup and strawberry preserves

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sawmill Gravy or Sausage gravy

This is what my grandmother made to go on biscuits. We never had sausage gravy, but it's exactly the same. Just use the drippings from frying country sausage like Jimmy Dean. I never measure, but I'll give you some guidelines-2 tbls of fat + 2 tbls of flour will thicken 1 Cup of liquid. So for 2 cups of gravy you'll need about 4 tbls of drippings.

4 tbls fat left from frying bacon or fatback or sausages
4 tbls flour or enough to form a thick paste
2 Cups milk
salt & pepper to taste

Over med-high heat cook, stirring constantly, brown the flour in the fat for at least 3 minutes. Reduce the heat and add the milk stirring like mad. Raise the heat and keep stirring, until it comes back up to the boil. If the gravy is too thick, thin it with somemore milk. Turn off and season with salt and pepper. If you're making sausage gravy, crumble one of the sausage patties into the gravy.

Cream cheese & pesto roll-ups

I made these for the UT-S. Miss tailgate party. They were very good and super easy. I used homemade pesto. If you use commercially prepared pesto you may need to add some fresh basil, garlic, & grated parmesean.

6 whole wheat tortillas or sandwich wraps
1 large block of cream cheese
1/2 C pesto

Mix softened cream cheese & pesto together. Taste & adjust seasoning if necessary. Spread on tortillas & roll up. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Unwrap, slice and arrange on a tray.

Italian Sausages & Sundried tomato sauce dip

I made this yesterday for the UT/S.Miss game tailgate party. It was really good and, of course, easy. It would be even quicker if you just jazzed up a bottled marinara sauce.

2 tbl olive oil
2 lbs. hot Italian sausages
1/2 C dry white or red wine

Marinara sauce:
about 8 sun dried tomatoes, re hydrated in a 1/2 cup or more of water or use the kind packed in olive oil & use the oil from the jar to make the sauce.-- roughly chopped

2 tbl extra virgin olive oil (or oil from sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil)
1/2 small onion finely chopped
1 big fat clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 can (about 1 cup) crushed tomatoes
1 tbl tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt, pepper to taste

In a non stick skillet over med-high heat, brown the sausages in the olive oil. Add the wine, reduce heat, cover and let cook for 12 minutes, turning once. Turn off heat and allow to cool in pan.

Re hydrate sun-dried tomatoes by placing them in a microwave safe bowl and covering with water. Put a plate on top and microwave for about 3 minutes. Check & add more water to cover
and microwave for 3 more minutes. Repeat if needed until fairly soft. Remove from liquid and chop. Add back to liquid & reserve.

Saute onion and garlic with a pinch of salt and some basil. Add the crushed tomatoes, the sun-dried tomatoes with their liquid, and the paste. Season w/ basil, oregano, salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until thick. Correct seasonings.

Remove sausages from pan and slice. Serve w/ toothpicks and sauce.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Sweet and Spicy Sausages

I think that I got the idea for this recipe from something I saw on Justin Wilson's old TV show. These are super-easy and delicious. The men will practically stand over this and eat until they are all gone. The flavor is dependent on the kind and quality of the sausage that you buy. Andouille is much spicier than kielbasa. So if you want a milder dish, use the kielbasa. It can be made completely ahead, frozen, and reheated in the microwave.

1 lb andouille or kielbasa sausage, sliced into rounds
3 tbl brown sugar
2 tbl dijon or creole mustard
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry Vermouth

In a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat, brown the sausages. Add the brown sugar and let in melt. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan. Add the mustard and let cook down until syrupy.
Taste and add more mustard or sugar if needed. Serve warm or at room temp with toothpicks. If you're doing a big party, serve these in a chafing dish to keep warm

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Tzadtziki Sauce

Lowfat and lowcal but not low flavor. This is the sauce to use on gyros and souvlaki, but I usually serve it with crudite and/or pita chips for an appetizer.

Start this an hour or more before serving.

1/2 a large container of nonfat, plain yogurt (about 1 cup)
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and shredded
1 clove garlic, pressed through the garlic press or finely diced
Juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 at a time
1-2 tbl olive oil
1 tbl or more dry or fresh dill
1-2 ounces feta cheese (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

An hour or more ahead. Place the yogurt and the cucumber in cheesecloth in a strainer over a bowl and let drain. If you don't have time to do this don't worry about it. It improves the texture, but is not absolutely necessary.

Put the drained yogurt and cucumber into a bowl and add all the remaining ingredients. Taste and add more lemon juice and seasoning to taste.