Give me a cold day. Any cold day. Let me have time and peace to stir together something that incubates in my oven gently easing its teasing, come-hither aromas throughout the house and drawing near all who enter. Add an entrancing, captivating book waiting for me during that 3-hour parole and I am a happy girl. Ok, include a balanced, but lofty bottle of wine and the deal is sealed.
My niece Jamie is a married mom of three with a demanding full-time job as an accountant for a big company. With no time to cook, she just laughs and says, “I don’t even know how to feed my family!” Husband Jerry is not an admitted cook, either. And that’s the way it is for lots of young moms and dads. Continue reading
EASY FRENCH 3-COURSE MEAL FOR VALENTINE’S DAY AT HOME: 2-HOUR COOKING CLASS @ SHOUSE APPLIANCE- THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5: 5-7PM. INTRODUCTORY OFFER 2 FOR 1. $50.00 for two students–includes food, recipes and ideas for wine pairing. Email me or leave me a message. Can’t wait to cook with you! (Will repeat class at home 2/14 10a-12p–1 opening left.) Ok, now on to football food…
I have this sad, old, worn-out, and tired collection of game food recipes. I nearly hate football; I take the Sunday New York Times to Super Bowl Parties and only look up when the food’s served or people are screaming at such a pitch that I’m frightened out of my reverie. Anyway, because it’s just not my thing, I make whatever someone asks me to (once I made gorgeous gingerbread cupcakes-see below ), or if we’re home, I make Dave’s -GAG- hot sausage dip (recipe at bottom) followed by a very-healthy-indeed-chili with a six-pack of beer and call it done. Last year, our son Sean was home and made a half-dozen gorgeous rah-rah dishes including some sort of really hunky stuffed potato skins; he loves football and he’s an ace in the kitchen. Breathe out. This year he’s in his own home and I’m up to bat all alone. Ok, not up to bat; I’m up to the goal line all by myself. Yuck.
So I decided this week to figure out a couple of fun and healthy game day picks ahead of time. I tried out two of them today and I have to say they make me want Sunday to come. No, not really. This Sunday there are football games all afternoon and all evening. (I’ve saved a new Louise Penny book for the long haul.) I’ll say the thought nearly makes me want Super Bowl Sunday to arrive (one game only), which, if you don’t know, is February 1. I had to look it up. Honest. But I absolutely cannot wait to cook and eat this meal again. Continue reading
EASY FRENCH 3-COURSE MEAL FOR VALENTINE’S DAY AT HOME: 2-HOUR COOKING CLASS @ SHOUSE APPLIANCE THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5: 5-7PM. INTRODUCTORY OFFER 2 FOR 1. $50.00 for two students–includes food, recipes and ideas for wine pairing. To sign up: Message me on fb if we’re friended, email me, or leave your email or phone in a comment at the end of the blog and I’ll get back to you. (Menu: Carrot Soup with Fresh Herbs, Chicken Fricassee, Chocolate Mousse.) Class limited to 6 students. I’ll repeat this class at home if needed to accommodate more students. Can’t wait to cook and eat with you!
Next week, I’ll be attending a DACOR training session (I work as a chef for them twice a month and demonstrate their products) and of course I’ll feed the team that morning so our brains will absorb the information a bit more quickly. Who doesn’t learn better with eggs, bacon, and cinnamon rolls? I’ll throw in a beautiful bowl of chopped fruit and we’ll have coffee from the built-in coffee system that makes on-demand espresso faster than you can say, “Just sugar, please.” I do lust after that coffee machine, I’ll be honest. Recently a customer bought their second one for the family room in their basement. We do have an electric kettle in the basement. Somehow it just isn’t the same. Hmph. If you’re at home, add a spicy Bloody Mary or a sweet Mimosa along side the coffee. Continue reading
(above: Butternut Squash Lasagna–G-F and Vegan–scroll down for recipe)
A small buffet for six or eight is great fun –so few dishes!– and here’s one that will go down well with gluten eating carnivores as well as those who follow gluten-free and vegan lifestyles. Pass out recipes — or have folks find their own — and make it an easy day for the host.
While I am neither vegan nor on a gluten-free diet, I do often eat Vegan Before Six a la Mark Bittman and boast a daughter-in-law who for the most part eats gluten-free. The idea of a holiday menu that suits both profiles was a challenge I simply had to take because whenever I publish a recipe that is both gluten-free and vegan, I seem to have a really good number of new folks interested. That means I’m interested, too.
So let me know what you think if you try the recipes or maybe just take one or two to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner so that you can eat without wondering whether or not there’s __________ in that casserole. Naturally many of the recipes can be used for ONLY vegan meals or ONLY gluten-free meals and you can adjust those ingredients accordingly. For instance, if you’re not a vegan, you might add grated Parmesan cheese to the lasagna or if you’re not gluten-free, you might use traditional lasagna noodles. And so on. Now on to the meal I so hope you enjoy…………
While the meal gets organized, start with music (here’s a prior Thanksgiving’s music post of mine), sparkling wine (Gruet from New Mexico is inexpensive and charming; please do drink American wines for Thanksgiving) and a gorgeous platter of vegetables, olives, dips, crackers (try Mary’s Gone Crackers.) Check wine and any other purchased food labels; most wines will be fine gluten-free options, but you might want to read up on that right HERE. Don’t eat too much because hopefully someone’s made one of my favorite soups for the very first course…
Go around the table (or the living room seats–wherever) and let each guest offer something for which they’re thankful if you’re not in the habit of grace before meals. Offer a toast to those healthy thoughts….thanksgiving is good for the body and soul.
FIRST COURSE SOUPS Wine: Oregon or Washington Riesling (not too sweet…)
There are 3 soups from which to choose. I love them all. Choose which best suits your other menu choices.
Naturally you might have some bread with these soups if someone’s brought some….Bread sticks or crackers would be nice, too–and not so filling.
Spicy Cream of Pumpkin Soup with Peanuts — 6 first course servings
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced*
- 1 medium red onion, minced
- 1 each: celery stalk and carrot, minced
- 4 fresh sage leaves, minced or 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- Hot sauce to taste
- 2 cups pureed pumpkin (15-ounce can will work)
- 4 cups gluten-free vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup rice milk
- 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
Heat the oil and garlic for one minute over medium-low heat. Add vegetables, herbs, salt and pepper; season with 3 drops of hot sauce. Raise heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender — about 10 minutes. Add pumpkin and broth; bring to boil. Lower to simmer and cook another 10 or 15 minutes.
Stir in milk and heat through. Optional: purée using an immersion blender or carefully in batches in the blender or food processor. Taste; adjust seasonings. Serve hot garnished with peanuts.
*If you have a food processor, use it to mince all of the vegetables at once. Continue reading
A dear friend of mine named Joyce once wrote a card — one of many she’s sent over the years — and mentioned she was still making my pork chop with potatoes and apples supper. I vaguely remembered that meal, but it was one of those quick meals I never bothered to write down. These days I keep a cooking journal and so have records of meals or at least titles and approximate amounts. (Well, I’m supposed to anyway. Since the kitchen remodel I’m still finding things. Do you know where the lids are for my small Pyrex dishes? Or my good silver??)
Late Friday afternoon found me cooking up two big pots of Pumpkin-Chicken Chili *-– one for us to share with neighbors and one for me to have in the DACOR kitchen at Shouse Appliance on Saturday. I needed to make a vat of pinto beans laced with bacon, so those were bubbling away on another burner. Enter Dave sniffing around for dinner.
(Apple-Cheddar Salad recipe here.)
Since I didn’t want him to overdose on chili, I got out my big sauté pan — it’s about 5 quarts — and threw in a few quickly sliced potatoes, onions, and apples. On the counter was a yellow (summer) squash that had seen better days. I sliced it and threw that in, too. After those goodies were about half-way tender, I shoved them to the side of the pan and added some oiled and seasoned pork chops. Lid on and dinner was done by the time I set the table and Dave opened a bottle of Pinot Noir.
*If you ate this chili in the Dacor kitchen, it differs from the recipe in three ways: I used beer instead of wine and added cooked Italian sausage as well as the bacon in the beans.
Above: I had the pups all “dressed” for Halloween and a big bowl of candy. We had two trick-or-treaters. The name Rosie seems to be sticking, despite my love for “Mara,” and all the other wonderful suggestions we’ve received. I think it’s because I like to sing this old song to her. This morning I found her asleep on my feet while I was checking email. She’s doing wonderfully well, though we’re still working hard on house training. Puppies.
Happy Fall cooking…
Below: Rosie practicing “Come” with Dave in the front yard.
ONE-PAN PORK CHOPS WITH POTATOES, ONIONS, SQUASH, AND APPLES
SERVES 2 — Easily doubled
There is enough of the potato mixture to serve another day with eggs or you might be able to stretch it to serve four if you can fit four chops in your pan and serve a green vegetable or salad as a side. The wine or water makes just a little sauce to keep it all moist.
To a large, deep skillet or sauté pan heated over medium-high flame, add 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil along with 3 sliced potatoes, 1 large sliced onion, 1 sliced yellow (summer) squash, and 1 cored and sliced apple. Season generously with seasoned or kosher salt, pepper, and a good pinch of crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes or so until all are at least half-way tender. Push the potato mixture to the sides of the pan to make room for the chops.
Add 2 thick bone-in pork chops you’ve brushed with oil and seasoned well with salt, pepper, and a good pinch of dried thyme. Cook until the chops are well- browned on one side and turn over to brown the other side. Stir the vegetables and apples, pour in 1/4 cup white wine*, then cover and reduce heat until everything is tender. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the chops for doneness. They should read 145 degrees. Let dinner rest in pan five minutes, then taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot garnished with the grated zest of one lemon.
*Can sub water or chicken broth for wine. For a more smoothly silky sauce, dab in a tablespoon of butter as well.
Sing a new song; cook some pork chops,
You know how when you’re in someone else’s kitchen, you’re a bit lost? Your best and perfect meals just barely turn out? (Where’s the whisk, the measuring cup, the plates, the vinegar, and why doesn’t she buy your brand of butter?) I’ve got a new kitchen and it’s my own. And I’m a bit lost. Not totally, but somewhat.
It’s not that I don’t know it at all. I know this kitchen REALLY WELL; I watched it being built from the studs up. It’s just that it’s new. My stuff isn’t all put away…
WHERE ARE MY THINGS????
and I’m still looking for quite a few kitchen items. Like the rest of my dishes and my every day glasses, which just turned up under the upstair’s bathroom’s sink. My big fear is that all of these boxes just aren’t going to fit in this new kitchen. Or maybe that I’ll just go on in a big mess, never sorting out the stacks and cartons in the garage, spare room, and basement. I can see me at Christmas searching for the –this is no kidding — two-foot can of cookie cutters. (I really haven’t seen it.) Continue reading
There’s something down-to-earth, cozy, and comfortable about one-pot meals. Particularly one-pot meals that include pasta, vegetables, and protein. The Mexican cooks have it all with their sopas secas, which include the ubiquitous “Mexican Rice,” but also include pots of pasta or even lentils and occasionally beans. Sopa seca means dry soup and, to our ears and cooking hearts, just means you only put enough liquid in the dry rice, pasta, lentils, or beans, to cook the ingredients–no more. In other words, if you cooked pasta in the traditional way, you’d cook it in a large pot of boiling water and drain it. Here, you use just enough liquid (broth or water) to get everything tender and creamy without the addition of cream. Though a scoop of sour cream often wouldn’t go amiss.
For Good Friday — or any night when time is of the essence and meat isn’t on the menu — try this quick and easy one-pot dinner I made using leftover salmon the other night. If you have no leftover protein, you can, while the pasta simmers, quickly cook up a small piece of salmon or even a couple of chicken thighs if you’re indulging in “meat.” Alternately, you could put small fresh pieces of salmon into the pot for the last few minutes. (I haven’t tried this, but I’m guessing it would work.)
I’ll give directions rather than a recipe because you absolutely make this with what you have on hand. Basically you’ll cook about four cups chopped vegetables in oil with garlic, add a pound of broken pasta and a quart of broth, and cook it all until it’s done, stirring in already-cooked salmon right at the end. If you have no salmon, or don’t eat fish, skip it; it’ll be a lovely vegetarian meal. Season the whole pot with lots of fresh chopped parsley or basil or whatever fresh soft herb you have. Leftovers are epic. Here’s a clearer idea as long as you remember the vegetables can be switched out for your own choices: