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.