Category: Fall

Turkey Noodle Soup–Carcass and All

Turkey Noodle Soup–Carcass and All


Make this soup on Friday and curl up on the couch to watch the first Christmas Movies!
If you kept or froze your turkey carcass from Thanksgiving and aren’t quite sure what to do with it, this is your method for soup. While it looks like a recipe, it’s merely a method and you must yourself judge which ingredients you have or want to add; it’s all about flexible. Note the options of using your leftover vegetables, gravy, stock, or just adding all purchased low-sodium chicken stock and so on.In about an hour an a half, you’ll have just about the best turkey noodle soup you ever ate. If you are skipping noodles this week, leave them out and, instead, add extra fresh or frozen vegetables. (Brown rice, wild rice, or barley are other possibilities.)
Turkey Noodle Soup from Thanksgiving Leftovers…Including that gravy if you like.
This soup is made in two stages: one to create a quick stock and the other to make the soup.
Please read all the way through before beginning.  

Cook’s Note:  The Turkey Soup police are not out today.  You can make this with lots of changes and substitutions, but you have my idea to start.  Blessings on your soup pot!  Be brave!

Stage 1: Making Stock
·        1 turkey carcass
·        Any extra bits of turkey meat, gristle, skin, etc. you have left that you’re not eating
·        1 large onion, skin left on, cut in half (wash well before using)
·        2 carrots, unpeeled and uncut
·        2 stalks celery with leaves, cut in half (add the end of the celery, too, if you have it)
·        1 bay leaf
·        Handful of parsley (no need to chop)
·        1T whole peppercorns
·        2t kosher salt
Place all of the above ingredients into your largest stock pot. If you have a big 20 quart shrimp pot, use that. If not, simply use your largest pot. Pour in enough water to cover the carcass and vegetables and place on stove over high heat. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a medium boil, and let cook an hour or so. Add more water if necessary to keep all of the ingredients fairly-well covered. Strain all of the stock and ingredients through a sieve or colander and discard solids. You may fish out the vegetables and puree them for the soup if you like. Be careful to make sure all of the peppercorns are out of the stock. You now have the basis for your soup.
Stage 2: Making the Soup
·        1 cup chopped onion
·        2 cups chopped celery
·        4 whole cloves garlic, minced
·        6 large carrots, peeled, and cut into 1″ pieces
·        1 cup chopped fresh parsley
·        3 T each chopped fresh thyme and sage (or sub 1t each dried)
·        Leftover Thanksgiving vegetables as they are or pureed (or 2-3 cups frozen or fresh vegetables)*
·        Leftover Thanksgiving gravy:  1-2 cups (optional)
·        Leftover Thanksgiving turkey stock (optional–can use more chicken stock instead)**
·        2 cups (more or less) shredded leftover turkey, light or dark meat***
·        2-4 qts low-sodium chicken stock (depending on how much turkey stock you have)
·        1 24 oz package frozen fresh noodles
·        1 cup frozen green peas
·        Kosher salt, pepper to taste
·        Hot sauce, to taste
To the stockpot of newly made stock, add all of the above except the last four items (noodles – hot sauce.) You must use your own judgment about how much liquid to add depending on the amount of vegetables and stock you have leftover, as well as how large your stockpot is. You may add water, as well, if you haven’t enough stock. All of the vegetables should have lots of room to float freely and there should be lots and lots of broth. The broth will reduce (cook down), but you’ll still need plenty later to cook the noodles. (Think about cooking pasta.) Bring everything to a boil and lower heat to a good simmer. Cook until the fresh vegetables are beginning to soften, stirring regularly. Add the frozen noodles and cook in the broth as directed on the package–about 20 minutes. Throw in the peas for the last few minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt, pepper and hot sauce, if desired. A few drops of hot sauce will deepen the soup without heating it up, but be careful you don’t over do it. Total cooking time for this second stage should be 30-40 minutes.
Serve hot. Refrigerate all leftovers for just a day or so. For further storage, freeze for up to 6 months at 0 degrees F
*If you have leftover cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, etc.)  you might want to add these in just the last five minutes of cooking so they do not flavor the broth.  

**You might have some leftover turkey stock from cooking the giblets, etc to make gravy and stuffing; throw this in if you have it.  If you don’t, you’ll use more boxed broth or water, if necessary.

***If your’e out of turkey meat, you can still make this soup; it’ll be tasty, filling, and nutritious anyway!

Sing a new song,
Alyce   

This “recipe” originally published elsewhere by me!  The  underlining won’t disappear; I’ll try later to reformat it. Until then, you have the soup and the underlining.

38 Power Foods, Week 19 — Kiwi — Quick Individual Kiwi Tarts with Gingersnap Crust

38 Power Foods, Week 19 — Kiwi — Quick Individual Kiwi Tarts with Gingersnap Crust

An ultra thin ginger snap smothered with hot pastry cream serves as the “crust.”

How the Quick Kiwi Tart with Gingersnap Crust came to be…

While I love to bake a pie as much as the next woman (more than most, I’d guess), I also like nearly instant desserts that are luscious and don’t wear out the soles of your trainers.  (Like after you’ve cooked for company all day and still need dessert.)  I have a pocketful of favorites like a 30-second pumpkin custard (it’ll be in my soup book) and a blink-done  individual chocolate flourless “cake.” I also have no-bake favorites like a strawberry ice cream parfait layered with crumbled ginger shortbread and fresh peaches. In cases of real emergencies, I buy ice cream and cones–and not just for the kids.

But today I needed a kiwi something.  Not exactly in my bailiwick; I use kiwi in fruit salads or the occasional smoothie.  I kept picturing the industrial size, looks/tastes-like-Paris fruit tarts they sell at Marigold Bakery and Cafe in Colorado Springs.   The perfectly trained pastry chef turned out racks of these tarts daily–as well as many other pastries and breads.  You can’t count on him to spell your best friend’s name right on her birthday cake, but you can count on a piece of a tart at 3pm with your coffee or a full tart at 8pm for emergency company.  If you order ahead, you can get 12 for your son’s rehearsal dinner.  In other words, you can depend on that tart.  It’s topped with all the glories of many kinds of fruit.  But it’s not spring; it’s not summer.  Berries are over and I don’t need a BIG tart at all.  I need a T-tiny tart… (as my fine old friend Susan Gimarc would say)   Well, one for me and one for Dave.  Maybe two for tomorrow, though he usually gets all dessert leftovers.  But that’s it.  Enter the very petite and quick “Kiwi Tart with Ginger Snap Crust” made in a small ramekin.  The crust for each tart is one gingersnap at the bottom of a ramekin or small bowl.  Topped with hot pastry cream, the cookie doesn’t crumble, but softens into a beautiful crust made for a spoon.   Here’s how:

quick individual kiwi tarts with ginger snap crust   makes 4

Make a small pan of vanilla pastry cream (crème patissière, which is very like vanilla pudding). Recipe below.

Place one thin gingersnap in the bottom of each of four ramekins.
These are my favorite gingersnaps.  (Except for my own, of course)

Spoon hot pastry cream into ramekins.

If not serving right away, cover each tart with plastic wrap (pressing plastic down to cream) to prevent a skin from forming on the pastry cream.  Refrigerate for up to one day.  Otherwise, let cool a few minutes, and then go to next step:

Stand 3-4 slices of peeled kiwi in the cream. (Optional:  Heat 1 tablespoon apricot jam in microwave and brush kiwi with it.)  Serve immediately with extra ginger snaps if desired.

Ingredients List: 
3 kiwi fruit; each peeled and cut into four thin slices
4 thin gingersnaps, store-bought or homemade ( I like Anna‘s Ginger Thins.)
Pastry cream (below)
Optional:  1 tablespoon apricot jam
  
pastry cream recipe 
               from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins*

  • 1 cup milk (whole or 2%)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract**

In a heavy saucepan, combine milk, sugar, cornstarch, and egg yolks. Place over low heat and, whisking, bring to a boil.  Cook another minute and remove from heat.  Stir in butter, salt, and vanilla extract.

*There are many pastry cream recipes, but a lot of them make a large amount of pastry cream and many more use a larger amount of egg yolks.  Use whichever you like best. This one has a very simple and streamlined process, is tasty, and makes just enough for these four tarts.  You could also, of course, use a low-fat, light pudding or custard recipe if needed.  Difference between pastry cream and vanilla pudding?  I can’t tell much, though sometimes vanilla pudding doesn’t have eggs.  The difference, however, between pastry cream and custard is that custard is 1.  thickened only with eggs (no cornstarch or flour) and is 2. cooked in a water bath (bain marie) in the oven, while pastry cream or vanilla pudding is a stove top process.

**You can also flavor pastry cream with a little brandy or Grand Marnier–try 1/2 teaspoon first and add a second 1/2 if needed.

about those kiwi

Calories:  108 calories per cup of kiwi

Kiwifruit is one of nature’s perfect foods: low in calories, high in energy and an excellent source of antioxidants. Each one delivers a world of nutrition benefits, including:

  • Vitamin C: Each serving of kiwifruit has nearly two-and-a-half times the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, proven to boost the immune system and fight the effects of stress and aging.
  • No fat: Kiwifruit is fat-free, an important consideration in today’s healthy diets and a rarity among foods containing so many other nutritional benefits.
  • Fiber: Two kiwifruit contain more fiber than a bowl of bran cereal, the tasty way to maintain heart health, regular digestion and lower cholesterol.
  • Potassium: A serving of California Kiwifruit has more potassium than a banana, ideal for maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance and for releasing energy during exercise.
  • Antioxidants: Kiwifruit is an excellent source of antioxidants which are important in reducing your risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke.
  • Low glycemic index: With a glycemic index of 52, kiwifruit is a fat-free, low-carb fruit that’s safe for diabetics and a smart part of any weight-loss diet.
  • Magnesium: Two kiwifruit deliver 30 mg of magnesium, which improves nerve and muscle function while boosting your energy level.
  • Lutein: Kiwifruit contains the phytochemical lutein, which works to prevent age-related blindness and protect eyes from various kinds of damage.
  • Folate: With nearly 10% of the recommended daily value of folate, kiwifruit is a good way to protect the health of mother and baby during pregnancy while helping prevent birth defects.
  • Zinc: Men will appreciate kiwifruit’s zinc content, which helps produce testosterone, while everyone can enjoy its other benefits like healthy hair, skin, teeth and nails.

Vitamin E: Kiwifruit is one just a handful of fat-free sources of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps lower cholesterol and boost immunity. (Info and photo:  Courtesy California Kiwifruit Commission)  

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 Today I’m baking oatmeal chocolate chips for the reception after the Historic Organ Recital at Prospect Park United Methodist (where I work as a choir director).  It’s 7:30 tonight, Friday, October 19.  See you there.  A favorite activity, I did it last week, too…

  •   a blog repeat, but fun:
    Saturday, I baked oatmeal chocolate chips for the authors in town for Opus and Olives, one of the premiere literary events in the Twin Cities held each fall  at the Crown Plaza Hotel in St. Paul. (Mark Shriver said he’d eaten his six all in a row; he’d had no food in hours while traveling!)  Dave and I also went the banquet and enjoyed a fine meal with great folks while we listened to the each author speak.  (My favorite was Cheryl Strayed, but then again, I adored her book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.)

    Happy Tuck

    I also meet today for lunch with a wonderful editor/writer who I hope will be doing some editing on the book, 30 Soups in 30 Minutes.  This week– test on turnip soup (lovely–no details given away here) and lots of work in Microsoft Word, which isn’t nearly so fun as drumming up new soups in my kitchen.  Not sure we’ll be done with this little ditty by Christmas, but who knows?

    Sing a new song,
    Alyce

    38 Power Foods, Week 18 — Citrus — Step-by-Step Pear or Apple Crostata (Pie 101)

    38 Power Foods, Week 18 — Citrus — Step-by-Step Pear or Apple Crostata (Pie 101)

    Scroll down for recipe.

    Come fall, I make crostatas regularly.  They’re beautiful, terribly good to eat, and generally make folks quite happy.  A free-form fruit pie (often made with homemade jam in Italy), they’re easier to make than traditional American pie and are show-stoppers when you have friends to dinner.  I’ve blogged the crostatas before, and have taught them several times for the Italian classes I’ve done at home.  But I didn’t think of them in terms of citrus until our Power Foods list came up this week.  While citrus (lemon particularly) is a huge part of my cooking, I think about it less in terms of baking.   

      For instance:  I rarely make a green salad without squeezing a lemon over it.  Either I have lemon and oil, lemon alone, or lemon before a vinaigrette.  Whatever choice I make, lemon, as an acid, is always followed by salt and pepper on my salads because salt dissolves best in acid.  For that reason, if I’m making a vinaigrette, I always put the salt in the acid — whether citrus or vinegar– before adding the oil. 


      Secondly, there’s little to perk up a piece of chicken, a steak, or a lamb chop like a squeeze of fresh lemon.  Of course you like lemon on fish, right?  Why not red meat or poultry?

    Another thing: I love lemon juice in chili.  I stuff my roasting chicken with big pieces of orange and a cut-up onion or sometimes roast a lemon in the bottom of the pan for the sauce.  I use one citrus or another to keep my cut fruit from browning.  There are so many ways I use citrus, I can’t count or write them.  I buy lemons by the bagful, but rarely go to the store without also buying limes.  Because I don’t eat oranges or grapefruit for breakfast, I buy those only when I’m cooking or baking with them.

    These fresh fruit fall crostatas, too, would be very much less without the citrus.  I make several kinds of crostatas, but these two, apple and pear, have orange and lemon zest respectively.  You could switch them out and use orange with the pear and lemon with the apple; I’m sure it would be lovely.

    Citrus is, of course, loaded with vitamin C,  provides fiber, folate, lycopene, potassium and other vitamins and minerals.   (More below.)  Yes, it’s great food…  But for me…it’s all about the flavor when I use it for cooking.

    A picture story…followed by the recipe.  Bake peace!
                            (Interested in traditional pie?  Read my PIE 101 post here.)

    First, the apple version:

    Option a (below) for moving pastry from board/counter to the baking sheet

    Apple close-up–ready to eat!

     
    Option b (below) for moving pastry from board/counter to baking sheet

    And, then the pear photos:


    Baked pear crostata close-up; I liked the pear best.
    The pastry recipe for this comes from Ina Garten, who, I am pretty sure got it from  Joanne Killeen and George Germon in CUCINA SIMPATICA; ROBUST TRATTORIA COOKING and maybe a few other places!  Just a little detective work of mine.  Despite the provenance, it’s a tasty tidbit for fall when the fall fruit is divine   As neither one of them made pear, I feel I’ve contributed to the development of the recipe and hopefully to the happiness of your tummies.  This is tres easy, and if you’re afraid of pastry, this is a great start.  There’s no form-fitting into pie pans or making a crust look “P” for perfect.  This is a free-form, rustic pie baked on parchment paper on a baking sheet.  If it spills over or runs through, it’s just crusty-gooey and even better.  Don’t hesitate.  Pretty for Thanksgiving, too.  Oh, in France, this is a galette.
     
     Here’s how I did it:
    Here is the apple at left and the pear at right.

    

    LEMON SCENTED PEAR-ALMOND CROSTATA
    4 large or 6 regular servings for each crostata
    Parchment paper needed for baking
    pastry:  (makes 2-freeze one for later or make 2)
    • 2 c white, unbleached flour
    • 1/4 c granulated sugar
    • 1/2 t kosher salt
    • 1/2# (2 sticks) very cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    • 1/4 c ice water

    In the food processor, fitted with the knife blade, pulse together the flour, sugar and salt.  Add the cold butter and pulse until mixture is the size of peas.  Slowly add iced water through the feed tube until dough begins to come together. 

    Remove carefully from processor and divide in half.  Press each into a disc.  Wrap one in foil and freeze it.  Refrigerate the other for an hour is best, but you can roll it right away if you must.  Dust the counter very well indeed with flour and roll the disc, using a rolling pin, into an 11″ circle. 

    Place on parchment lined baking sheet until you have the fruit ready.  (Check out the pics above where I give you two options for getting the pastry from the counter to the pans.)  You can  a. fold it up gently and  quick like a bunny pick it up, and centering it over the baking sheet, place it carefully down and unfold it or, b. loosely roll the dough back onto the rolling pin and move the rolling pin over above the baking sheet, lowering it and loosening the pastry down flat onto the pan.   

    This is not easy to describe; I apologize for lack of prowess as a technical writer!

    Filling
    1-11/4# pears (Seckel or Bosc or a mixture), peeled, cored and cut into 1″ chunks
    1-2t grated lemon rind
    1/4 c sliced almonds
    1/4 c ea flour and sugar
    1/4 t kosher salt
    1/4 t cinnamon
    4T unsalted butter
    Preheat oven to 450 and place rack at center.

    In a large bowl, mix cut-up pears with lemon rind and most of the almonds, reserving 1T or so for the top of the crostata.
     In the food processor, make a crumb topping for the crostata by pulsing together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and butter until crumbly.  Remove the blade from the processor bowl, and, using fingers, pinch together the crumbs until they hold together.  
    Place pear-lemon mixture onto the pastry, leaving 1 1/2 inches around the edges.  Crumble topping on the pears evenly and sprinkle with the last of the almonds.  Fold the edges of the pastry up and over the fruit, gently pleating the dough at the corners.  You’ll be leaving most of the fruit covered by only the crumbly topping; the pastry just comes up around the edges of this pie.
    Place baking sheet in oven and bake 25-30 minutes (use the longer time above 5,000 feet) until golden brown and crispy.  Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before sliding pie off the paper onto wire rack to cool completely.
    Will hold at room temperature a day or so and in the refrigerator for several days, though it is best fresh.
    Note:  If you’d like to make an apple crostata with the other crust, it’s made almost like the above pie, but you’ll need 1 1/2 # (3-4 large Granny Smith) apples, 1 t orange peel and no nuts unless you choose to add some one your own.  If you do, toasted walnuts might be best.  This is Ina’s method!
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    More info on citrus nutrition HERE.
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    I blog with a great group of writers every Friday where we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods:  150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients:    Read more about tasty citrus this week at these sites: 

     
    Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
    Minnie Gupta from TheLady8Home.com

    Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
    .
    Want to join us?  We’d like to have you as part of the group.  Get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com

    Sing a new song,
    Alyce
    38 Power Foods, Week 15 — Winter Squash — Israeli Couscous-Butternut Squash Salad with Fall Fruit, Cheese and Orange Vinaigrette

    38 Power Foods, Week 15 — Winter Squash — Israeli Couscous-Butternut Squash Salad with Fall Fruit, Cheese and Orange Vinaigrette

    How are new salads born at my house?    Like this……

    I’ve had some Israeli couscous (actually a blend) in my cabinet for a few months.  Waiting.
    Typically I throw some leeks, garlic, and asparagus in a sauté pan come spring and throw those lovely things into a bowl of couscous or orzo with a handful of grated Parmesan and lots of black pepper.

    When I realized this was the week to blog winter squash, a different group of ingredients started to percolate.  Despite the summer tomatoes still coming on (albeit slowly) and the basil crying for that last bowl of pesto to be made, I kept thinking fall food once the squash got in my head.  Cranberries, apples, pears, sharp cheese, nuts.

    Fall..I adore pears…here I’ve just poached them slowly in port with some orange peel and cinnamon sticks.

    Thursday I had a big pot of turkey chili on the stove and called some friends to run over and help eat it.  This salad, which began in my head days before it ended up in our stomachs,  started the meal.  I cooked the couscous and started chopping fruit and toasting nuts.  It came together that easily; it’s fairly fast, too.  I did think I might have liked walnut oil for the vinaigrette, but the only can I had was in the frig at our Colorado house where it’ll stay a bit fresher over the time we’re not there.

    Could it be a whole meal?  Definitely.  Since it has oranges to keep the fresh fruit from turning brown, I think it’ll keep a day or so…but no more.  It might be a filling and happy side for a quick Thanksgiving meal:  roast a turkey breast, make this salad, and cook some of those green beans you’ve been freezing.  Anyway, here’s how:

    Follow the photo-easy recipe:

    Cook 8 ounces of  Israeli Couscous*  according to package directions. Use chicken broth in place of water. You can add a few leaves of fresh sage if you have them (remove before making salad).  When couscous is tender, add 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil while still hot.  Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground white pepper.  Optional:  Stir in 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Cool to room temperature.
    Toast 1/4 cup pecans in a dry small skillet and chop, reserving a few whole nuts for garnish.
    Dice (medium) 1 pear, 1 apple, 1 orange (peeled),  6 dried figs (or fresh), 1 small cooked butternut squash (see below for my microwave directions).  Dice (small):  2 oz. each sharp cheddar and Swiss cheese like Jarlsberg or Emmental or even Gruyere.
    Mix fruit, squash,  cheese, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, and pecans with cooled couscous.  Add the juice of another orange and 1 teaspoon honey.  Stir well, taste and adjust seasonings and/or dressing.  Serve in a bowl lined with fresh spinach leaves and garnish with reserved whole pecans.

     6 servings

    We liked this salad with coffee cup pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins.

    *I used Harvest Grains Blend from Trader Joe’s (available on amazon.com as well), which is a “savory blend of Israeli Couscous, Orzo, Baby Garbanzo beans, and Red Quinoa.”  Regular Israeli or pearl couscous is fine and orzo or even farro would be easily workable substitutes.

    Ingredients list:  8oz Israeli couscous or blend, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper (optional), fresh sage leaves (optional), 1 3/4 cups chicken broth (used 1 15 oz. can plus a little water), 1 1/2 tablespoons each canola and extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup pecans,  1 small butternut squash, 1 pear, 1 apple, 2 oranges (1 in salad, 1 juiced), 6 figs (fresh or dried), 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 2 ounces each sharp cheddar  and Swiss cheeses, 1 teaspoon honey, 2 cups fresh spinach leaves

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    HOW TO COOK BUTTERNUT SQUASH IN THE MICROWAVE:

       Place squash in a large microwave-safe dish and, using a sharp thin knife, poke a few holes in the largest section for escaping steam.  Microwave on high 3-5 minutes (depending on size of the squash–a 1.5lb squash might take 5 minutes, for example) and remove the squash to a cutting board.   Using a large chef’s knife, carefully cut the squash in half horizontally and  with a large spoon, scoop out seeds and strings.   Place the two halves back in the baking dish with a little (2 tablespoons or so) water and put the dish back in the microwave.  Cook another five minutes on high or so (depending on the size of the squash) until tender. Covering the squash with plastic wrap or a microwave-safe cover will decrease the cooking time.   I have also filled the center section with butter and a little brown sugar and served it just like that. (I often do this with acorn squash for a quick hot lunch.)  Otherwise, you can let the squash cool, and then peel and chop or mash it according to your needs.  This is much easier than peeling (or cutting) raw butternut squash, which is, at best, difficult.
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    I cook winter squash frequently and my reasons are many.  Here are a few:

    1.  It’s delicious; it’s good for your body.
    2.  It’s easy to prepare in several ways: Stick in oven, saute, braise, boil, or microwave.
    3.  It’s useful as a vegetable or side, but is also hearty enough for a main dish. (Stuff with cumin rice, jack cheese and scrambled eggs for breakfast!)
    4.  It’s an excellent addition to soups and stews.
    5.  It’s a good substitute for potatoes with pot roast or roasted chicken.
    6.  It’s inexpensive and easy to find nearly year round, but particularly now.
    7.  It keeps on the counter for a long time–easily 2 months. (That’s about the limit for acorn; the others can keep much longer.)

    Be brave and try whatever beautiful squash you find at the market.  Whatever you do with acorn squash, you can easily do with most of the others.  Even spaghetti squash is quickly cooked in the microwave.  Shred it with a fork, add a little butter (salt/pepper) and you have a beautiful meal.  And, yes, you can add marinara and stay on South Beach, phase 2!!

    Don’t want to deal with the peel?  You can buy peeled and cubed butternut squash or pumpkin at some markets, but you will pay a premium price.

    Nutrition Profile for Butternut Squash

    Each cup of cubed butternut squash provides approximately 60 calories, 16 g of carbohydrates and 3 g of fiber. It also supplies almost 300 percent of your daily value of vitamin A, 50 percent of vitamin C, 7 percent of calcium and 5 percent of iron.

     Want more info on winter squash, including nutrition and recipes?  Visit the Snap-Ed (USDA) site here.

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    If you liked this, you might also like this recipe from my Dinner Place blog.

    rosemary chicken thighs with butternut squash, onions, and fennel

    Throw it all together with olive oil; slip it into the oven on a big rimmed baking sheet.  Dinner emerges in about 35 minutes!

    or you might like this:

    roasted orange chicken and butternut squash (meal in a pan)

    or my butternut and other squash soup

    This is a lovely soup for someone who is not well or can’t chew, but is luscious as well for a first course at Thanksiving.

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    I blog with a great group of food writers on Fridays as we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods:  150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients:    Read more about beautiful winter squash this week at these sites:


    Alanna –  http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com/

    Minnie Gupta from TheLady8Home.com

    Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
    .
    Join us:

    If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com

    Sing a new song and cook a new squash,
    Alyce 

    38 Power Foods, Week 10 — Mushrooms — Mushroom Ragù on Gruyère Toast

    38 Power Foods, Week 10 — Mushrooms — Mushroom Ragù on Gruyère Toast

    Slip some baguette with Gruyère under a broiler.  Saute some mushrooms with garlic, shallots, herbs, broth and wine.  Spoon the mushrooms over the cheese toast.  Dinner is served.

    I grew up in a house that revered mushrooms. In any form, but mostly on their own.  Just cooked up in a big cast-iron skillet with some garlic or onions.  Eating them on their own was his favorite, but my Dad also loved them with some rice, eggs, or chicken.  He’d have mushrooms any old way.  As a little kid, I wasn’t buying.   It didn’t take long, however, for me to jump on his bandwagon.

    My first mushroom love was the famous mushroom stuffed with sausage.  That gave way to (Lord) the deep-fried variety with sauce.  All the while, regular old mushrooms slowly began to take part in my kitchen pageant.  One day I saw that I was buying mushrooms pretty much every time I went to the store.  Talking with my oldest son the other day, I woke up and realized he was talking about cooking up a big pot of mushrooms.  Never know what you’ll pass on.


    Mushrooms are inexpensive.  They’re healthy.  They’re adaptable. They’re widely available and come in many varieties.  They add vegetable and “meat” value to any dish.  Mushrooms are quick to prepare and can be eaten raw, fried, baked, sauteed, braised, or boiled.  They’re fine on their own, as a perfect omelet filling, luscious crowded together on top a steak or piece of chicken, and they just make gravy.  What’s beef burgundy without mushrooms?   How about a burger?  Portobellos, grilled, or sauteed, are perfect in a bun with all the fixings.   I’m sure there’s more!

      I don’t know a whole lot about mushroom nutrition, but here are a few things I’ve discovered: they’re full of B vitamins and lots of minerals.  In a nutshell:

    Mushrooms provide many of the nutritional attributes of produce, as well as attributes more commonly found in meat, beans or grains. Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium, yet they provide important nutrients, including selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D and more. Read on to discover some of nature’s hidden treasures found in mushrooms.  more info:  mushroom.com

    BTW:  If you’d like to pick wild mushrooms, be extremely careful, and get some training.  Many people become seriously ill every year eating poisonous mushrooms.  

    You don’t need a big herb garden.  I just have a couple of fragrant pots right outside my front door.  A little dirt.  A little water.  Not much more.  In Colorado, we’re able to bring pots of herbs indoors for the winter.

    When I realized mushrooms were up next on our 39 Healthiest Ingredients,  I began dreaming of  cooking up a big pot of them with yummy fresh herbs, shallots, etc., and spooning that over toasted baguette pieces that were topped with Gruyère.  Last night I stopped dreaming:

    mushroom ragù on gruyère toast                  serves 4

    •  8 slices baguette 
    • 8 thin slices Gruyère cheese
    • 1  T each extra virgin olive oil and butter 
    • 1/4 t crushed red pepper 
    • 24 oz any mixed mushrooms, sliced (shitake, button, crimini, portobello) 
    • 2 shallots sliced
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2T minced mixed fresh herbs (tarragon, marjoram, chives, parsley, sage, thyme are good choices)  plus a little extra reserved for garnish
    •  1/2 cup each chicken broth, low sodium and white wine
    •  1/4 t  each kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional
     Place baguette slices, topped with the Gruyère cheese, on a baking sheet and broil for about 2 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbly.  Remove from oven and place two cheese toasts in each of four shallow bowls. Set aside.

    In a large, deep sauté pan, heat olive oil, butter, and crushed red pepper over medium heat.  Add mushrooms, shallots, and garlic.  Cook a few minutes without  stirring until mushrooms are browned.  Stir to turn mushrooms and add herbs, broth, wine, salt, and pepper.  Simmer for several  minutes, stirring occasionally until liquid is somewhat reduced.  Taste and adjust for seasoning. Divide mushroom mixture evenly over toasted cheese baguette slices. Garnish with reserved fresh herbs.  If desired, top with grated Parmesan.  Pass extra fresh ground black pepper at the table.

    For vegan option:  skip Gruyere and brush bread with olive oil before broiling.  Exchange vegetable broth for chicken and either use vegan grated cheese for garnish or no cheese at all.

    Wine?  Please serve my mushroom ragu with an Oregon Pinot Noir.  You’ll be so glad you did.  I’m partial to Ken Wright or Sineann, but there are many lovely winemakers around the Willamette valley. 

    Want more great mushroom ideas?  Check out the other beautiful 38 Healthiest Ingredient bloggers:

    Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
    Jill – SaucyCooks 

    Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
    Anabanana – adobodownunder.blogspot.com
    .
    As we go along, I’m guessing we’ll get some other writers involved.  If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com

    Sing a new song,
    Alyce

    38 Power Foods, Week 7 — Brussels Sprouts –Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with New Potatoes and Parmesan

    38 Power Foods, Week 7 — Brussels Sprouts –Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with New Potatoes and Parmesan

    .
    When brussels sprouts (note spelling) first came back in vogue (they were vegetable non grata for a long time, right?), I put off making them.  It seemed everything was being thrown into the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper. Was there anything you couldn’t cook that way? Brussels sprouts joined in the olive oil-oven fun all over the food world.  I waited. 

    (above) This is one of Madeline L Pots’ award winning songs from her CD “Gonna Plant A Garden”.

    As a kid, I didn’t like brussels sprouts.  Did anyone?  As a young bride, I occasionally bought a package of frozen ones (just for something different) as there weren’t fresh ones available at the places I shopped.  As time went on, they just disappeared from my repertoire until a few years ago when I began to see them fresh in tiny bags or right on their very own totem poles at Whole Foods. (illustration courtesy Merriam-Webster)

     A few special recipes began to be part of our regular meals as I developed not one, but several ideas for these special tiny lovelies.  (I share a couple of them below- one with potatoes and one without.)  Cooked slowly in a sauté pan, the inherent bitterness dissipates into the air, and the gentle beauty of brussel sprouts begins to shine in their sweet, tender nuttiness.  Carmelization might be the word.  Makes them wine-friendly, too.

    Prep:  Try to buy young sprouts; older ones tender toward the bitter side.  Store young, fresh brussels sprouts (yellowed leaves removed if they’re a bit older) for up to two weeks loosely covered in refrigerator.   When ready to cook, wash them well, remove a leaf or two, and trim the stem–not too far up or all the leaves will come off. You can also cut an X into the stem to quicken cooking time and ensure even cooking.  If they’re huge, cut them in half.   There’s a video for everything and here’s one about cleaning brussels sprouts since I know you have nothing else to do today:
     .

    Now that you know all about them, try this:

    PAN-ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS with New Potatoes and Parmesan 

                 2-3 servings
    • 2T olive oil (regular is fine; don’t need extra virgin)
    • 12 fresh brussels sprouts, cleaned, trimmed, cut in 1/2
    • 6 red potatoes- 1/4d if large, left whole if small
    • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into eighths 
    • Kosher Salt, freshly-ground pepper, pinch of crushed red pepper (or to taste)
    • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese, “grated” in large shards with a potato peeler (skip for vegan version)
    1.  Heat oil  in a 12- inch skillet over medium heat.   Add brussels sprouts, potatoes, and onions.   Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and add just the pinch of crushed red pepper.   Stirring frequently to avoid burning, but still to brown nicely, cook  for about 10 minutes.
    2.  Add Parmesan to the pan.  Turn heat down to medium-low and cook until vegetables are fairly well-done, but still somewhat crispy. Take care to not burn the Parmesan but  it should be quite brown; some of it will be almost chip like.  This may take another 20 minutes or so, depending on how hot your skillet is.   Taste; re-season if necessary.  Serve hot or at room temperature.
    3. Cool completely before storing well-wrapped leftovers  in refrigerator for 2 days.  
    4. To re-warm,  place in a skillet over medium heat with a tiny bit of olive oil to prevent sticking.  Heat, stirring often, until  hot–about 10 minutes.

    Saving the best for last, here’s my pan-roasted brussels sprouts mixed up with only very crispy shards of Parmesan and topped with pumpkin seeds for crunch.   Cooked slowly and thoroughly, the sprouts become a little nutty and the Parmesan turns into something akin to chips.  Scrumptious.  Even if you never wanted to eat brussels sprouts.

     

    PAN-ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH PARMESAN AND PUMPKIN SEEDS
    • 12 fresh brussel sprouts, cleaned and trimmed (Take l layer of leaves off,  cut off bottom tiny core) and cut in half
    • 2T olive oil
    • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese, “grated” in long pieces with a potato peeler
    • 1/4 c pumpkin seeds
    • Kosher Salt and freshly-ground pepper
    In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat and add brussels sprouts. Stirring frequently to avoid burning, but still to brown nicely, cook brussels sprouts for about 10 minutes. Add parmesan and pumpkin seeds. Turn down heat to medium-low and cook until sprouts are fairly well-done, but still somewhat crispy. Take care to not burn the parmesan; it should be quite brown. Salt and pepper well.   Serve  hot.  Follow storage and re-heating instructions above.
    .
    I’ve served these brussels sprouts for many occasions, but particularly like them for my fast Thanksgiving dinner.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
     everything you didn’t want to know about brussel sprouts
    courtesy brusselsprouts.com:

    Brussels sprouts, or Brassica oleracea gemmifera, are related to other better-known vegetables in the Brassica genus like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. They are part of the cruciferaeor mustard family, so known because of a four-part flower in the shape of a cross.

    HISTORY: Sprouts were believed to have been cultivated in Italy in Roman times, and possibly as early as the 1200s in Belgium. The modern Brussels sprout that we are familiar with was first cultivated in large quantities in Belgium (hence the name “Brussels”sprouts) as early as 1587, with their introduction into the U.S. in the 1800s.

    NUTRITIONAL INFO: Brussels sprouts are a very good source of many essential vitamins, fiber, and folate. They are especially high in Vitamin C. (Click here to see the nutritional label) They, along with their other cruciferous cousins, have been shown to have some very beneficial effects against certain types of cancer, as they contain many different ingredients that are believed to help prevent the disease 

    These recipes originally available on More Time and Dinner Place in separate blogs.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    38 Power Foods is a group effort!   Stop by these other blogs and see what they’re cooking each week as we team up to bring you some of the healthiest cooking available.

    Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
    Jill – SaucyCooks 

    Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
    Anabanana – adobodownunder.blogspot.com
    .
    As we go along, I’m guessing we’ll get some other writers involved.  If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com

    Sing a new song; cook a new brussels sprout,
    Alyce

    two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood

    Miss Gab watching Ina with me.

    Lovey-Dovey

     I’m busy developing and testing recipes for the soup cookbook.  This week, I’m working on
    Pozole (Mexican stew–mine’s made with pork tenderloin, corn, and hominy) and  Tom Kha Kai (coconut/chicken from Thailand).  I’m finding the most difficult part is figuring out how this whole thing goes from a Word doc (actually becomes a pdf first) to the 6×9, 100  printed page.
    How can I be sure that the pagination makes sense or that recipes are on one page?  Or that the margins are accurate?  Did I consistently use “t” or “tsp” for teaspoon?  You get the picture!  Slowly, I’m starting to see how it works.  I have a bunch of home-testers cooking away.  If you have a testing recipe and I haven’t heard from you, I’m looking forward to a response pretty soon.  Test on!

    It’s NW blueberry time; I’m eating all I can get and freezing the rest.

    You can see how easy it is to move around my kitchen.

    In Colorado, we have time for movies with the grandkid.  Thanks, God.

    Just for grin and giggles, I made homemade mayonnaise for a dressing for a steak and fresh potato chip salad.  Dear.

      That’s all she wrote.

    Pie 101 – Derby Pie

    Pie 101 – Derby Pie

    “Derby” Pie or  Pecan-Chocolate-Bourbon Pie.  Can you say decadent?

    When someone needs something baked, I do it if I can.  If I have the time.  Not everyone bakes.  I love to bake and need an excuse now that there are only two of us in the house.  If I bake for an event, I somehow always manage to make enough so that we can share a sample or even have a tiny sweetness for ourselves.  (If it’s pie, it’s usually for Dave; I eat a bite, that’s it.  He loves pie too much for me to eat much.)

    (Aside:  After I saw how many people read my basic Pie 101 post, I thought I’d begin a series (quite intermittent) on pies.  I hope  you like them.  Anywho, read on.)

    Dave’s baby pie in a 4″ ramekin.  He was so relieved.

    My friend Roberta likes to give Kentucky Derby parties and her pie baker was a no-show.  I was happy to have an afternoon in the kitchen, though I had never before baked Derby Pie.  I had baked many a pecan pie (the easiest pie to make except for custard and, by the way, pecan pie is a kind of custard pie as it contains eggs and melted butter) and this didn’t look much different–once I figured out what it was.  And while it wasn’t terribly different, it sure tasted differently.   Think of pecans.  Then think of what they taste like sweetened up a little.  Add chocolate.  Bourbon.  You have the picture.  And oh, how lovely this would be for Thanksgiving.

    I don’t know from bourbon, but this is what I bought.

    But to begin with,  I  couldn’t locate a recipe in any one of my many cookbooks.   A bit embarrassing.  But not much.

    This is my cookbook corner.  That’s not all of them, of course.   And no Derby Pie. Hmph.

    I thought it was odd that there was no “Derby Pie” even in any of my baking books; I have a few baking books!  Back to the computer to discover that “Derby Pie” –or the term itself– is patented and can only be baked by the Kern family in Louisville, Kentucky.  In other words, they have a monopoly on it.  Once I knew exactly what Derby Pie was, I began to look on other sites for a recipe.  I found dozens –some too simple and some too complicated– and settled on one (below) from examiner.com, a site I wrote for for a few years.  It looked like a recipe I could easily triple or quadruple, which was my day’s goal.

    Warming the eggs in warm water since I forgot to take them out the night before.  Room temperature eggs are needed for baking.  I left them about 10 minutes.  Warm eggs crack easier and are less likely to leave bits of shell in your bowl.
    Collecting the pie plates.  I keep a couple in my kitchen and the rest downstairs. I use pie plates for a lot of cooking.  They’re perfect for anything in the microwave (vegetables, leftovers) and I bake biscuits in them because you can take the Pyrex plate to the table and the biscuits stay warm.  I almost always use glass pie plates for even baking and for seeing the crust when checking to see if the pie is done.  Do not ever use disposable aluminum pie plates; they’re just too shallow and lightweight.
    Toasting all the pecans at once on a half sheet pan.  I like to buy pecans in the fall from Georgia growers.  Often churches sell pecans for fundraisers.  Buy enough for the year then and freeze them.  I make a lot of spicy pecans for Christmas and also at other times of the year for nibbles with wine. (below)

    Here I’ve mixed them with other nuts for gift giving or cookie trays.  Recipe here.

    For photos of the making dough portion, turn back to my Pie 101 (Step-by-Step) or use your own favorite.  My own dough recipe–scroll down.  Do not use a sweetened dough here.

    Dough in all four pie plates, including the baby pie for Dave.
    Mixing each pie’s ingredients separately to make sure each pie has enough of everything.
    Carefully filling the shells so that I don’t spill the filling onto the pie dough.  Some people do this on the oven rack.
    This one is baked in a deep dish stoneware plate from Pampered Chef.  Emile Henry also makes a good deep dish plate.

    Glass Pyrex plate

    Side view of deep dish pie.

    The baby.  You can bake pie in about anything that’s oven proof.  Apilco (French porcelain–excellent dishes for everyday and any day) makes large coffee cups that are oven-proof–as does Corning Ware.

    The whole gang all done.    Enough for a Kentucky Derby Party.    How about Thanksgiving?

    derby pie

    • Recipe for 10-inch Single Crust Pie Crust  (see below for my crust recipe or use your own)
    • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted (and cooled or it’ll cook your eggs)
    • 1/4 cup white sugar
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
    • 3/4 cup Karo light corn syrup
    • 4 large eggs  (at room temperature)
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla  (I like Nielson-Massey vanilla; some prefer Penzey’s.)
    • 1/4 cup bourbon (You see -above- I used Jim Beam.  You may know more and choose better.)
    • 3/4 cup gourmet chocolate chips (I use Guiradelli or Guittard; Callebaut is lovely, but pricey and hard to locate.*)
    • 1 1/4 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, shelled and chopped in half if desired

     How To Make Kentucky Derby Chocolate Pecan Pie

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    • Roll crust according to my directions in the Best Ever Pie Crust Recipe, or use Alyce’s crust below,  or use a store bought pre-baked pie crust, line a 10-inch deep dish pie pan with the dough, and flute the edges as desired.
    • In a large mixing bowl, on medium speed with whisk attachment, whip butter, sugars, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla and bourbon together until frothy.
    • Remove bowl from mixer, and fold in chocolate chips and pecans or walnuts. Blend well.
    • Pour into prepared pie crust and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until set.
    • Serve warm, or cool completely before serving with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
    • Yields 8-10 slices.   Derby  Pie Recipe courtesy Donna Diegel, Examiner.com

    *You can also choose an excellent semi or bittersweet baking chocolate like Valrhona or Callebaut and chop your own chocolate if you like.  BTW, I sometimes order Valrhona chocolate from amazon.com though it is sometimes available at Whole Foods or better grocery stores.)

    Alyce’s Pie Dough Recipe:

    Pâte Brisée-— Made in a Cuisinart — This is the dough I use most often.
                                                            for each 10″ pie shell 
    1 1/3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 cup or 1/4#  unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 8 pieces (1 stick) 
    1/4 cup ice water (measure 1/4 cup water into a 1 cup measuring cup half full of ice)

    Place flour and salt in the work bowl of the food processor fitted with steel blade.  Pulse a couple of times to distribute salt.  Add cold butter and pulse briefly several times until butter is worked into flour in several different sizes (1/4″ – 1/2″).  With machine running, slowly pour water through feed tube until dough begins to come together.  Stop machine and carefully remove dough from work bowl.  Working quickly to avoid melting the butter within the dough, form into a ball and then flatten into a disc.  Roll out and fill immediately (see above) or chill, well-wrapped,  1 hour or up to two days ahead. 

    Sing a new song; bake a new pie,
    Alyce

    50 Women Game-Changers in Food – #44- Nigella Lawson – Guinness Gingerbread

    50 Women Game-Changers in Food – #44- Nigella Lawson – Guinness Gingerbread

    A tender, quite moist gingerbread from Nigella.

    Gingerbread is Christmas, right?  Maybe New Year’s Day?  Certainly a cold-weather dessert.  Except that I love it.  I’d eat it in July if I were willing to turn the oven on.  Which I’m not.*  So that’s why it’s April and there’s Nigella Lawson’s gorgeous Guinness Gingerbread on the blog. (Two “n’s” and two “s’s” in Guinness–tells you  alot about how much I know about Guinness.  I did tour the brewery in Dublin once and actually drank a tall one.)  If you’ve been following along on this trip, I’ve joined a group of great food bloggers who are each week cooking, testing, and writing about one of Gourmet Live’s 50 Women Game-Changers.  And, you guessed it, this week (number 44) is Nigella’s week–I’m so grateful.  After all, I needed a reason to make gingerbread in the spring.  Didn’t I? (Cold and nasty in St. Paul today after a great, warm spring.  I was happy to have a warm kitchen.)
       *I have just installed a combination microwave/convection oven above my rangeThis may help with summer baking.  More later!

    If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching Nigella on tv or reading one of her books, you just need to do it.  Picture a well-fed, very pretty British woman with a great accent sneaking out of bed in the dark to raid the refrigerator of crispy fried pork fat or snarfing down the last, well-hid piece of flourless chocolate cake.  Not only is she real with a capital R, but she’s fun and brings more than a bit of the seductive into the kitchen, where it surely belongs.  Whatever…it’s great to watch someone enjoy what they do and Nigella does that in spades.  Isn’t that what really draws us to people?  I adore friends who are happy in what they do.

    For a biographical sketch that may surprise you, check out Nigella’s Food Network biography page here.  Not only has Nigella been a food tv star for several years and written a variety of best-selling cookbooks, but she was Deputy Literary Critic of the (London) Sunday Times before setting out to follow her own drummer as a free-lancer.  No small apples.

    For a list of all of Nigella’s books, lots more info and recipes, check out her website.

    But!  If you’re intrigued by the gingerbread:   get out a 9×13 pan and get baking.  Easy as pie (which isn’t easy–who said that?)  you warm up some butter, a cup of Guinness stout and a couple of other things, whisk in a few dry ingredients, pour into a greased pan and bake for 45 minutes.  Cool, cut, and serve with whipped cream, ice cream, or Crème fraîche.  Nothing better.  My own notes are in red.  Enjoy!

    Guinness Gingerbread by Nigella Lawson

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/4 sticks 10 (tablespoons) butter, plus some for greasing
    • 1 cup golden syrup (such as Lyle’s) (I used Organic Corn Syrup plus a little Molasses.)
    • 1 cup (packed) plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
    • 1 cup stout (such as Guinness) (There’s just a taste left for a chef’s snack!)
    • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    • (I added 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper)
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 rectangular aluminium foil pan or cake pan, approximately 13 by 9 by 2-inches

    Directions

    Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line your cake pan with aluminium foil and grease it, or grease your foil tray.

    Put the butter, syrup, dark brown sugar, stout, ginger, cinnamon and ground cloves into a pan (2-3qt saucepan)  and melt gently over a low heat.

    Organic Corn Syrup with a little molasses poured in…quite pretty.

    Dave was so sad that I bought a whole 6-pack.

    Take off the heat and whisk in the flour and baking soda. You will need to be patient and whisk thoroughly to get rid of any lumps.

    Whisk the sour cream and eggs together in a measuring jug (4c glass measuring cup) and then beat into the gingerbread mixture, whisking again to get a smooth batter.

    Pour this into your cake/foil pan, and bake for about 45 minutes; when it’s ready it will be gleamingly risen at the centre, and coming away from the pan at the sides.

    Let the gingerbread cool before cutting into slices or squares.

    Add sweetened or spiced whipped cream, Crème fraîche,  or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.  Just a winter dusting of powdered sugar is lovely if you’re into simplicity:

    For grin and giggles, watch this Nigella Interview:

    If you’d like to read more great recipes, try one of the other blogs on our trip visiting 50 Women Game-Changers in Food:

    Val – More Than Burnt Toast, Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan – The Spice Garden
    Heather – girlichef, Miranda – Mangoes and Chutney, Amrita – Beetles Kitchen Escapades
    Mary – One Perfect Bite, Sue – The View from Great Island, Barbara – Movable Feasts
    Linda A – There and Back Again, Nancy – Picadillo, Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits
    Veronica – My Catholic Kitchen, Annie – Most Lovely Things, Jeanette – Healthy Living
    Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce – More Time at the Table
    Kathy – Bakeaway with Me, Martha – Simple Nourished Living, Jill – Saucy Cooks
    Sara – Everything in the Kitchen Sink

    Next week we’ll feature Diana Kennedy, the very fine Mexican cookbook author.  Join us!

    Sing a new song,
    Alyce

    50 Women Game-Changers in Food – #35 – Delia Smith

    50 Women Game-Changers in Food – #35 – Delia Smith

    Would you cook with this woman?  Meet Delia Smith.

    In North America, we might argue over who taught us to cook.  While Julia really was on tv, I’m sure I learned to cook from a. my mother, b. James Beard, and c. SILVER PALATE.  (We all teach ourselves right in our kitchen, don’t we?)  But in the UK, there’s no question about who taught you to cook; Delia Smith, #35 in Gourmet’s 50 Women Game-Changers in Food, did.  (photo courtesy BBC)

    Way back in the ’70s (was it that far away?), you only had to tune in to the telly to learn how to make pastry (or lots else) with Delia in London or Edinburgh. For grins, scroll down to the bottom of the post and click on the video and see what the buzz was about.  Could you bake a blind tart shell after watching that television program? I admit I missed Julia a bit as I watched!

    After a couple of false starts as a hairstylist and travel agent, and without much education, Delia began reading cookbooks in the reading room at the British Museum.  Not long after, she was cooking and writing for the Daily Mirror starting in 1969, where she met her husband, Michael Wynn Jones.

    Many television episodes, newspaper articles,  books (21 million sold), a website, and even a soccer club later, Delia continues to deliver basic, commonsense, always-trusted cooking advice, recipes, and technique.  She’s so successful at delivering the goods that, within the world marketplace, there’s now something called “The Delia Effect.”  Which means it’ll sell like the proverbial hotcakes, as her stamp on anything makes product fly off the shelves in the UK. Reportedly, egg sales in England rose by 10% after her book How to Cook was published.

    Delia’s Complete How to Cook can be ordered through amazon.com, as can other volumes, though some appear to be more available overseas than here in the States.   Time for a few days in London, I’d say.

     Reading through recipes and trying to decide which to try for this blog, I found no shortage of tasty and wonderful-sounding things to cook.  Oven-Baked Smoked Pancetta and Leek Risotto caught my eye, as did Grilled Venison Steaks with Red Onion, Grape, and Raisin Confit, a selection from Delia’s website under the banner, “What Should You be Cooking This Month?”  There’s also a tab for ingredients and the available recipes to use them.  Special diets, Under 30 minutes, Freezing, and Cooking for One are just a few of the sections you might want to peruse on the site.   I especially enjoyed “Recipe of the Day” and “Competitions.”  At the very bottom are links to lists of recipes like, “French,” “Pasta,” and so on.  While it might not be true, the website has every indication of containing a good portion of her thirty-plus years’ recipes and information, which makes it a treasure trove, to say nothing of a great value.

    You could make “Italian Baked Fish” (and who doesn’t want more baked fish recipes) as did I, and give Delia a whirl:

    First:  Make a little marinara with mushrooms.

     italian baked fish  serves 4  (recipe courtesy deliaonline.com)

    4 thick pieces of cod or other white fish (MN cooks:  try our Lake Superior white fish here.)
    2T olive oil (no need for extra virgin oil)
    1 medium onion, finely chopped
    1 fat clove garlic, crushed
    1# ripe tomatoes or 400g tin of Italian tomatoes
    4 oz (110 g) sliced mushrooms
    1 T chopped fresh basil
    1 T capers, chopped
    Juice of 1/2 lemon
    12 black olives (I opted for kalamata.)
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    method

    Start by making a good, thick tomato sauce:  heat the olive oil in a saucepan and fry the onion for about 5 minutes.  Now add the garlic and tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper, then bring to a simmering point and cook gently, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Next add the sliced mushrooms, making sure they are well stirred in.  Simmer for a further few minutes until it looks like a thick sauce.  Lastly, stir in the fresh basil and chopped capers.

    Next, season the fish with lemon, salt, and pepper

     Now place the fish in a shallow baking dish or tin, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle a little lemon juice on each piece.  Next spoon an equal quantity of the sauce on to each piece of fish and arrange a few olives on top.   Cover the dish with foil and bake on a high shelf (in upper 1/3 of oven) for about 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.  Serve with new potatoes or brown rice and a tossed green salad.  

    Last, top with marinara, and bake.

     I sometimes cook fish right down in a chunky tomato-onion-garlic-etc bath either on top of the stove or in the oven; you might try that idea if it appeals to you.  Here’s my fast snapper in tomato sauce.  Get your vegetables, honey.

    Next week, join us when we’ll feature #36, Edna Lewis. “The granddaughter of an emancipated slave, Lewis, another Judith Jones protégée, brought sophisticated Southern dishes into the spotlight.” 
     ~~~~~

    If you’d like to cook a few other gorgeous Delia Smith (or other) meals, click on the blogs of the food bloggers featuring Gourmet Live’s 50 Women Game-Changers in Food this (or another) week:
     
    Val – More Than Burnt Toast, Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan – The Spice Garden, Heather – girlichef, Miranda – Mangoes and Chutney, Jeanette – Healthy Living  Mary – One Perfect Bite, Kathleen – Bake Away with Me, Sue – The View from Great Island Barbara – Movable Feasts , Linda A – There and Back Again, Nancy – Picadillo Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits, Veronica – My Catholic Kitchen Annie – Most Lovely Things, Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce – More Time at the Table, Amrita – Beetles Kitchen Escapades
    ~~~~~
    What’s on Alyce’s blog about cooking for one, Dinner Place?

    Pork Tenderloin Salad with Berries and Oranges and a Sherry Vinaigrette

     Thanks for stopping by.


    just for fun, here’s the early video of Delia teaching pastry-making  in the late ’70s.  courtesy BBC                              Bake a new tart, Alyce
     

    Women Game-Changers in Food- #33-Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer-Meatballs with Mint and Parsley

    Women Game-Changers in Food- #33-Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer-Meatballs with Mint and Parsley

    What if you wanted beautifully written recipes, tastefully conceived, and perfectly photographed–all from home cooks–for home cooks? What if you wanted those cooks to have worked professionally (catering, restaurants, magazines) and to have traveled the world so they could bring the best dishes back to you?

    Order book here

    Enter Canal House Cooking, La Dolce Vita,  #7  in a series of self-published  volumes from a multi-talented duo who have worked at food, cooking, and food writing/photography most of their lives.  After leaving behind the corporate publishing/food world in order to spend more time at or near their homes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Melissa Hamilton (above, right) and Christopher Hirsheimer (above, left; she’s a she) began cooking together daily in a warehouse and keeping a record of it.   Out of that commitment comes this lovely, popular series of books that is their gift to those of us in the home-cooking “business.”   An article from WSJ tells the story more thoroughly here.

    To really get to know these women a little more, watch an enchanting tiny video about them and their food in Italy (basis for the most recent book)….Here.
     

    And, when you’re done reading and watching, it’s time to cook with Melissa, Christopher, and me….
    So that you can spend more time at the table (who are you inviting?),  we’re making:

    meatballs with mint and parsley    makes 24

      (Often served with broccoli rabe sautéed with garlic and red pepper flakes)
    1 pound ground pork
    1 pound ground veal
    ¼ pound prosciutto,  finely chopped
    1 cup fresh whole milk ricotta (in the book or David Lebovitz’ version)
    1 cup grated pecorino*
    2 eggs
    ¼ cup packed finely chopped fresh mint leaves
    ¼ cup packed finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
     ½ whole nutmeg, grated
     Pepper
     ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
     ½ cup white wine
    ¾ cup heavy cream,
     optional salt
       1. Mix together the pork, veal, prosciutto, ricotta, pecorino, eggs, mint, parsley, nutmeg, and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
       2.  Use a large soup spoon and scoop up about 2 ounces of the meat into your hand and roll into a ball.   
       3.  Make all the meatballs the same size so they will cook evenly. As you make them, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. You can do this a few hours ahead, cover with plastic, and refrigerate until you are ready to cook them.
       4.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the meatballs in batches, about 15 minutes per batch, using two forks to delicately turn them over so that they brown on all sides. Add more oil if needed. Transfer cooked meatballs to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
       5,  Increase the heat to high and deglaze the skillet with the wine, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Add the cream, if using, and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens.
    *Pecorino Romano is, most likely, the pecorino (hard, often gratable sheep’s cheese) available in most American grocery stores.  Milder and less expensive than Parmesan, it’s a happy addition to pasta or salads.

    Cook’s Note: I made one meatball first and cooked it to test the seasoning; I had gone easy on the black pepper and had not added any salt at all.  My thought was to maintain the freshness/lightness of the meatball so that the herbs weren’t overwhelmed.  On tasting, I did add a bit more pepper and about 1/2 tsp kosher salt.  The rest of the batch was perfect.  You could do anything you typically do with meatballs with these, but I do think they’re special and complete all on their own.  I served them with broccolini sautéed in olive oil with crushed red peppers and slices of garlic thrown in the last 2-3 minutes.  We started with a little very simple green salad.

    Here’s a bit of the easy journey in photographs:

                           More info if you’re interested……………

    Just for fun, here’s a sample from the Canal House #7 book and their “on location work:”

    We rented a farmhouse in Tuscany — a remote, rustic old stucco and stone house at the end of a gravel road, deep in the folds of vine-covered hills. It had a stone terrace with a long table for dinners outside, a grape arbor, and apple and fig trees loaded with fruit in the garden. There was no phone, TV or Internet service, just a record player and shelves and shelves of books. It had a spare, simple kitchen with a classic waist-high fireplace with a grill. It was all we had hoped for. It was our Casa Canale for a month.

    Back in the states, Melissa and Christopher are eating lunch together every day as they take a break from cooking, working, and writing.  Read their blog that chronicles those noon-time meals. 

    Listen to their interview on edible radio.

    Want to cook more food from Canal House?  You can do it if you…. 
    Check out our team of great bloggers writing about 50 Women Game-Changers in Food

    Sue – The View from Great Island   
    Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed
    Susan –
    The Spice Garden              
    Heather – girlichef
    Miranda of
    Mangoes and Chutney 
     Mary – One Perfect Bite
    Barbara –
    Movable Feasts              
    Jeanette – Healthy Living
    Linda –
    Ciao Chow Linda              
    Linda A – There and Back Again
    Martha –
    Lines from Linderhof       
    Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits,
    Veronica –
    My Catholic Kitchen     
    Annie Lovely Things
    Nancy –
    Picadillo                        
    Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook

    Val – More Than Burnt Toast       
    Joanne –
    Eats Well With Others
    ~~~~~~~~~ 

    If you liked this, you might like my Bacon-Caprese Salad with Fresh Cheese.

    Make your own cheese!

    or my subsequent post on Meatball Subs:

    Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood return soon…Woof from Gab and Tuck.

    Sing  new song; dream a new dream,
    Alyce

    Food photos:  copyright Alyce Morgan, 2012.  Recipe, book and author photos courtesy Canal House.