Category Archives: FAVORITE RECIPES

EXPIRATION DATES AND OTHER FOIBLES OF THE CANNED FOOD INDUSTRY

What, exactly, is it about expiration dates on the packages of cookies or crackers, or expiration dates on canned food prod products? Actually, for what it’s worth, dozens of different kinds of expiration dated-foods can frequently be found on marked down grocery items and I veer directly towards them. I have found some fantastic sale items this way. In the fresh product section, I often find lettuce, yogurt, cottage cheese and other dairy items marked down as much as half price. One of my best finds a year ago were large bottles of Karo light corn syrup for 75c—more than half off. Then I began thinking about all the uses for light corn syrup during the holidays –but when I went back to the store, all of those bottles of karo syrup had been bought. Now I try to pay closer attention. A similar situation took place when my daughter in law bought 2-lb bags of brown sugar. I bought 4 or 5 bags and when I went back to the store, intending to buy whatever remained –and they had all been sold. And the reason those items were marked way down was that the manufacturer was introducing a new plastic bag. And if you worry about having too many bags of raisins or brown sugar, you can re-bag the products into glass jars. The major complaint that I hear from friends or family member is that “the product inside won’t be any good” This is probably the food industry’s number one “the joke’s is on you”

The reason I wanted to share these letters with you was due to comments that appeared in Cook’s Illustrated Magazine March/April in -2012. I have been contending for years that canned food with long-ago expiration dates, no dents or flaws in the container—are still safe to eat. Two of my grandchildren check the dates on everything edible (consequently, if I am preparing a food with a canned food content, I put the canned food into a baking dish and bury the cans at the bottom of the trash can).

What did Cooks Illustrated have to say about this issue?
A subscriber wrote to say she recently used a can of chicken broth and later discovered it had a “best buy” date of several years past–but the product tasted fine and no one got sick.

Says Cooks Illustrated “The best buy” printed on some labels is not a hard and fast rule; it refers strictly to the manufacturers recommendation for peak quality, not safety concerns. In theory, as long as cans are in good condition and have been stored under the right conditions (in a dry place between 40 and 70 degrees, their contents should remain safe to use indefinitely.

That said, natural chemicals in foods continually react with the metal in cans and over time canned food’s taste, texture and nutritional value will gradually deteriorate.

The question is when. Manufacturers have an incentive to cite “a best buy” date that is a conservative estimate of when the food may lose quality. But it’s possible that some canned foods will last for decades without any dip in taste or nutrition.

In a shelf life study conducted by the National Food Processors Association and cited in FDA Consumer, even 100 year old canned food was found to be remarkably well preserved with a drop in some nutrients but not others….”
I’m sure there have been or will be studies to detract from the above study – my point is just this: I have grandchildren who read all the labels and if any of the cereal or other breakfast food has an expiration date of even one week, they won’t eat it. They have been so indoctrinated that no one can tell them any different. (So I transfer food, including cereal, to jars whenever possible. No expiration dates. No problem). But I am also a believer in moving canned foods around so that the oldest in the shelves is up front and will be used next.
This also brings me up to date on another kind of canned food product – those you make yourself, using up fresh fruit when you have an abundance of a crop—or when a friend has more apples, pears, peaches, tomatoes—or any other food they can’t use. Actually, it’s not a matter of having too many apples, tomatoes or whatever—but rather, it’s being gifted with the neighbor or friend’s overflow. I just love being presented with whatever overflow a friend or neighbor can offer to us; Last summer, I dehydrated chili peppers and green bell peppers—other bell peppers were converted into stuffed bell peppers that were cooked, then frozen. We froze an enormous amount of bell peppers and cooked fresh corn on the cob to have for dinners. We picked little red tomatoes and I converted almost all of these into tomato sauce. There is a huge amount of work but an equal amount of satisfaction for having converted vegetables into tomato sauce, canned tomato sauce with hot sauce added to it, working on tomatoes until I had done something with all of it.

We have been giving serious consideration to “what will be next”. Mind you, my garden was a fraction of the size of my son’s in 2013. A survey of all the jars of tomatoes and sauces is very satisfying. (And doesn’t even take into consideration the canning of fruit juices in preparation for jelly and jam making. But that’s another story!

Sandra Lee Smith

STILL JANUARY AND COLD EVERYWHERE

MAKING CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
(When it’s cold, bake cookies)

According to the weather reports, the only warm place in the USA is Florida, so if you are in Florida and not feeling the cold, you may skip this blog post if you don’t want to have your oven on-—then again, this is a good cookie recipe!

Some time ago, I found an article in the Food Network magazine featuring several different chocolate chip cookie recipes. I hedged, at first –how do you improve on perfection? And isn’t the Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe on the bags of Nestle’s morsels the perfect recipe. Well, yessss, maybe – and you can even tweak that recipe if you are so inclined. I learned a baking secret from a girl at work years ago – she made the Nestle’s Toll House cookies but under baked them. This takes some time to get it exactly right – too underdone and the cookies will be doughy. But get them just right and bet you can’t eat just one.

Well, I was reading the chocolate chip cookie article some time later and decided to try the different recipes—do my own taste testing. The first one I tried is a crispy chocolate chip cookie recipe (and it really helps to have the color photographs of the cookies to look at).

To make the crispy chocolate chip cookies you will need

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, softened (it will soften faster if you cut the stick of butter into small pieces)
¼ cup vegetable oil (I use Canola)
1 cup superfine sugar*
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp water (a shot glass with these two items placed into it is a good way to measure the ingredients without spilling anything, if you tend to spill things the way I do—and this particular shot glass belonged to Chef Louis Szathmary, so I use it for good luck!)
2 large eggs at room temperature (they will warm up faster in warm water)
1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I use parchment paper and line several baking sheets with it.

Whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium size bowl.

Beat the butter, vegetable oil, superfine sugar and brown sugar in a mixing bowl at medium speed until creamy, about 5 minutes. (Set the timer for 5 minutes and go do something else). The mixture will look a bit separated at this point. Beat in 1 teaspoon water and the 1 tsp vanilla extract until smooth. Reduce the mixer speed and beat in the eggs one at a time until just incorporated (do not overbeat). Beat in the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

Drop tablespoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheets (I use cookie scoops and didn’t use the biggest one but the one next to that, and scraped the dough to remove any excess—this way all the cookies were the same size). Bake until golden brown, rotating the baking sheets halfway through. The original recipe says to bake 20 minutes. I discovered the hard way that 20 minutes burns mine**. I have it down to 12 minutes, rotating 2 baking sheets at 6 minutes and also turning them front to back. Cool the baked cookies completely on the baking sheets before removing.

• I didn’t have superfine sugar on hand, so I poured 2 cups of granulated sugar in the blender and blended it for a short time.

• Oven temperatures can vary; my youngest son works for an appliance store and tells me that new stoves and have a variance of 50 degrees plus or minus and still be considered acceptable–and I discovered the hard way that being 3,000 ft above sea level can also affect baking time. I still haven’t figured out a way to make candy without having it burn. Vest solution is an oven thermometer and for making candy, a candy thermometer is a must.

Inasmuch as I am a glutton for punishment, I doubled the recipe last night so that I could make half “without ingredients” (in my family, ingredients are anything extra—like pecans, white chips or peanut butter chips.) The second half were baked with pecans and peanut butter chips added to the dough. These won’t spread as much as the batch “without ingredients” but were still very tasty.
I’m still conducting taste tests on the cookies. Either one is very good with a glass of cold milk! —Sandra Lee Smith

PS – some Smith family history; when son Steve was about 6 years old, he was reading the label on a can of soup and exclaimed, “Mom! Do you know, this soup has INGREDIENTS in it?”

“WHAT’S CHRISTMAS WITHOUT COOKIES?” ASKS THE COOKIE LADY

What’s Christmas without cookies ? Christmas cookies to share with family, friends, and coworkers—perhaps some cookies for the mailman (or the mail lady). I also give cookies to my manicurist. Each of my sons receives a tin of his very own cookies—chocolate chip, no “ingredients” (ingredients are nuts, raisins, coconut or any of those other yucky things that I love so much. When my sons were children, they took containers of cookies to their teachers.

A few years ago, I bought Disney-theme cookie jars and filled them with different kinds of cookies. Along with my sons and their families, one of the cookie jars went to my younger sister and her family, who also live in California. Other cookies are wrapped in baskets or tins—or whatever suitable containers I find (I search for cookie containers throughout the year. Some of our best bargains have been containers bought at Target, after the holidays, for 90% off).

When I got married in 1958, I had one Betty Crocker cookbook and a boxful of recipe pamphlets. That Christmas, General Mills published a small booklet called “Betty Crocker’s Holiday Almanac” – I kept it, and began saving the Christmas recipe sections in my December magazines; Woman’s Day always published a tear-out cookie/candy recipe section—the earliest I have was published in1962. These are in 3-ring binders that have somehow grown to 8 thick binders, just with cookie recipes.

What I had, in 1958, was a start – enough recipes to bake some cookies and a few batches of fudge. When we moved to California in 1961 we had little more than a car-trunk full of clothing and the baby’s bed—but I somehow managed to do some holiday baking.

In 1963 – after moving back to Ohio in March, returning to California in December-
We didn’t even have furniture (much less a tree)…but I baked cookies; we invited friends over and everyone sat on the floor drinking coffee and eating Christmas cookies.

From these austere beginnings, my holiday cookie baking grew until it began to reach mammoth proportions. In the mid 60s, a girlfriend and I began making cookie dough in September, and freezing the batches. When we thought we had a goodly amount of cookie dough (I think about ten or twelve batches each) we’d embark on a cookie-baking-marathon. We did our baking late at night at her house, around the corner from me, because her husband worked nights and it was the only time I could get out of the house—when all four of my children were asleep. When we finished, we had filled all of our Tupperware containers and anything else we could find to use for storage. We’d divvy up the cookies, giving burnt ones to our husbands and children to eat and were ready to pack our own cookies into smaller containers for gift-giving.

We were purists, in those days—everything was made from scratch, with real butter and only the best of all ingredients—no imitation vanilla for us! I think there was one frightful year (1975?) when sugar was $5.00 for a 5-lb bag and we had to search for cookie recipes using honey or molasses.

In the 80s, along came cookie exchanges—frankly, these don’t always work out the way you’d like; someone always shows up with store-bought cookies (“I didn’t have time to bake”) or cookies with burned bottoms that no one wants. In theory or in the women’s magazines, cookie exchanges are always fantastic. Take it from me; it doesn’t always happen. You can tell people repeatedly that it’s a Christmas cookie exchange and you want them to make Christmas cookies and you can bet that over half of the contributions will be ordinary (non-Christmas) cookies. In my women’s magazines, cookie exchanges are always so extraordinary – maybe the secret would be to tell everyone that a magazine journalist and photographer will be at the exchange, in order to assure everyone bringing Christmas cookies.

In the 90s, along came grandchildren and my niece and two nephews, children of my younger sister who herself is young enough to be one of my children (I was 21 when she was born). The arrival of these children opened new vistas for cookie baking. We have baked cookies (children love to make cut-out cookies) which are wildly decorated with sprinkles (children believe that more is better). We also began a new family tradition of having a cookie-and-craft day sometime before Christmas, but also for Valentine’s Day and Easter. I make large (holiday appropriate) cookies for them to decorate and we do some kind of craft project that “goes with” the cookie—for instance, when they decorated big tree-shaped cookies, they also decorated small artificial Christmas trees to take home). This has turned into a big event not only for my grandchildren and my sister’s children, but also for my godson, and some of my friends’ children. (The big cookie idea actually has its roots back when my two younger sons were in first and second grades, and I would make enough large cookies—and plenty of frosting—for all the children in their classes to decorate a cookie to take home).

Nowadays, I admit—I’ve learned a lot of short-cuts, such as making cookies from cake mixes. There are entire cookbooks dedicated to teaching you how to bake wonderful tasty cookies from a cake mix! And in recent years (I am confessing this publicly) I have been stocking up on refrigerated sugar cookie dough and using it for our cut-out cookies.

What you have to do, though, is let the cookie dough come to room temperature, mix in as much flour as possible (usually about half a cup or more to one package of refrigerated cookie dough) – mix in it until it’s blended, then shape into several balls and re-refrigerate the dough until its very firm. I usually work with 2-3 packages of refrigerated cookie dough at a time, Adding flour and sometimes something like a little nutmeg, then reshaping it into balls and putting it back into the refrigerator to firm up. Normally, those refrigerated cookie dough cookies spread too much and lose their shape–the added flour will prevent that from happening. Last year my grandson’s school was selling Masterpiece cookie dough for a fundraiser – my goodness! That sugar cookie dough of theirs was excellent.

There was a time I would have turned my nose up at pre-made cookie dough but if you work with it enough, you can still make really good cut out cookies.

And here’s a tip: You can take sugar cookie dough and turn out dozens of different cookies with it–all you need is some imagination and a lot of sprinkles, jimmies, chopped walnuts or pecans and melted chocolate.

I still search all year long for sales on tins and other containers, for sprinkles and jimmies when they are on sale after a holiday, or for cookie cutters on sale half price after Christmas.

And even though I have retired, former coworkers know they can expect to receive a tin of cookies from me. I also take large containers of cookies to the Claims Department, where I worked. My friend Tina used to say that whenever she took some cookies home, her husband asked, “Are these from the cookie lady?” It’s a good title. I think I’ll keep it.

You can mix and freeze most batches of cookie dough so it’s never too early to get a head start, but before I begin mixing, I always have to go through my cookie files and decide what I’ll make this year. Some recipes are a given; two of my sons want only chocolate chip cookies, no nuts, no other “weird” ingredients (their description, not mine. “Weird” would be something like chocolate-covered raisins). Close friends put in their favorite requests, such as Crispy Little Lemon Wafers or Mexican Wedding Cakes. Bob liked Springerle; it reminded him of his childhood. A few years ago, I found a beautiful large Springerle board at store in Santa Barbara—and it was on sale! A lot of people don’t like Springerle, which has Anise seeds and extract in it. The finished product is a hard dry cookie, good for dunking. I, on the other hand, am very partial to those paper-thin Monrovian spice cookies that I can never get thin enough with my rolling pin.

I make a lot of sugar cut-out cookies and this is a good project to do with grandchildren. One year in the 1960s, I left butter cutout cookies, all freshly decorated, drying on every available surface in the kitchen and dining room. When we got up the next morning, we found our 5 year old son had eaten the icing off every single cookie. (He didn’t like to be reminded of this).

I have to make a batch of diamond-shaped butter cookies encrusted with finely chopped walnuts and sugar; my paternal grandmother always made these and the cookie cutter I use to make them was hers.

We make lots of cookies throughout the year and you can generally find the cookie jar in the kitchen filled to the top, but Christmas is the time to make special cookies, the ones you don’t make any old time…like Spritz, and chocolate pinwheels, candy canes and gingerbread boys.

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. In the 1940s and 50s, when I was growing up, there was very little money. We recycled gift wrap and ribbon, ironing out the wrinkles. We made our own gift tags with stickers that didn’t stick on anything else. Once a year, I took my two younger brothers shopping in downtown Cincinnati. We rode the bus there, and visited all the department store Santas to get free candy canes, then did all of our shopping at the 5&10 cent stores. Somehow we managed to buy presents for everyone in the family with our meager savings.

My mother didn’t shop for a tree until Christmas Eve day, when she could get it half-price. We never saw the tree until it was decorated, with presents piled all around. We were generally kept out of the house, visiting my grandmother, until my father came to pick us up. Somehow we always got there just after Santa Claus left – “Hurry, if you look out in the back you might catch a glimpse!”

Christmas was celebrated Christmas Eve and we have carried on the tradition. I tell the grandkids when they arrive, “You just missed Santa! If you look out the back door, maybe you can catch a glimpse of him!”

For those of you who want to start creating your own holiday traditions, cookies are a good way to start. You don’t have to buy a lot of cookbooks (although I do have a lot of cookie cookbooks) – nor do you have to go and buy all the November/December women’s magazines featuring cookie recipes (although these are inspiring and great to collect in a 3-ring binder) – you can find all the recipes anyone could possibly ever dream about right on the internet. One of my favorite websites is http://www.allrecipes.com but I promise you, there are many others.

But if you can’t stand the thought of using refrigerated cookie dough, here is an old tried-and-true favorite cookie dough that I have been making for decades (before the refrigerated stuff came along):

WHITE CHRISTMAS COOKIES

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, well beaten
4 cups all purpose flour-sifted
1/8 tsp each nutmeg & cinnamon

Cream butter, gradually add sugar; beat with electric mixer until light and
Fluffy. Beat in eggs. Sift together dry ingredients and stir into creamed
Mixture. Store overnight in covered container. Roll dough very thin (I
Roll it out between 2 sheets of wax paper that have been dusted with flour). Cut into shapes. Bake at 350 Degrees 1-13 minutes. Makes 16 dozen small cookies.

*I always use parchment paper on the baking sheets; this eliminates ever
needing to butter the cookie sheets. Always cool cookies on wire racks.
When completely cool, they can be stacked in plastic storage containers.

EASY TOFFEE CRACKER BARS

Easy bars with graham crackers, pecans, and other ingredients. Technically speaking, I wouldn’t call this a cookie – it’s more of a confection. But these are wildly popular with everyone.
Ingredients:
• 20 graham crackers (individual squares), regular or chocolate
• 1 1/2 sticks butter (6 ounces)
• 3/4 cup brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preparation:
Line a jelly roll pan (10×15-inch) with foil; arrange graham crackers in the pan in a single layer. Combine butter and sugar in a heavy medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Boil for 2 minutes; stir in vanilla and chopped pecans. Pour the hot mixture over crackers and spread evenly. Bake 10 minutes at 350°. Remove at once from pan to flat surface to cool. When cool, break into smaller pieces.

CLUB CRACKER BARS

1 box club crackers
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cream or condensed milk
1 cup crushed graham crackers
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup nuts, chopped
1/4 tsp salt

Line a 13×9 inch pan with whole club crackers. Mix remaining ingredients together. Bring to a boil stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until thick. Pour over club crackers. Top with more whole crackers.

Icing:
5 tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk or cream
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
cocoa (optional)

Mix ingredients together. Beat well. Frost the crackers. Cut into squares.

**

ORANGE SLICE SQUARES

4 eggs
¼ cup milk
1 pound light brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 ½ cups candied orange slices, chopped
1 cup chopped pecans

Beat eggs, add milk and brown sugar and beat well. Sift flour and add to mixture reserving enough flour to mix with chopped orange slices and pecans. Fold into mixture. Pour batter onto a 15x10x1” well greased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool. Spread icing evening on top. Cut into squares.

Icing

1 tbsp butter, softened
3 tbsp evaporated milk
1 tbsp orange rind
2 cups powdered sugar

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

LEMON BISCOTTI

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
3 TBSP water
2 TBSP canola oil
4 tsp lemon zest
½ tsp lemon extract
½ cup confectioners sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
yellow sugar (optional)

Preheat oven 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a bowl. With an electric mixer on high speed, beat the granulated sugar, egg, water, oil, lemon zest and lemon extract until blended. On low speed, add the flour mixture, beating just until combined.

Place dough in 2 (12”) logs, 3” apart on the sheet. Bake until golden, 20 minutes. Cool the logs on the sheet for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut each log crosswise into ½” slices. Arrange slices in a single layer on the sheet and bake until lightly browned, 15-18 minutes. Cool on a rack.

For the icing, whisk confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle on the biscotti; sprinkle at once with yellow sugar (if using). Let stand until icing hardens, about 2 hours.

This last recipe is for the Christmas tree cookies I baked and Savannah decorated for my sister’s cookie exchange one year:

Savannah’s Christmas Tree Cookies

4 1-lb packages of refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 to 1 ½ cups of flour
Butter cream frosting
Various sprinkles

Let refrigerated cookie dough come to room temperature in a large bowl. When soft enough to handle, mix in flour to make a stiff dough. Shape into four balls of dough and re-refrigerate until firm. Roll out and cut with tree shaped cutters. Bake at 350 8 to 10 minutes (until just brown around the edges). Cool on racks. Spread with butter cream frosting that has been tinted green with food coloring. Decorate as desired. Makes about 6 dozen (more if you have a smaller tree cutter than what we were using).
**

One final suggestion about baking and decorating cookies–if you have children or grandchildren or even neighborhood children – to decorate cookies with, by all means do. These are precious memories they will always cherish. And so will you!

Happy Cookie baking!

Sandy (The Cookie Lady)

REDISCOVERING BREAD PUDDING

Bread pudding was one of the few desserts that we grew up on, Although we might have that or rice pudding just as easily for breakfast as we did for dessert.  Dessert just wasn’t a part of my mother’s repertoire, except for special occasions like Christmas.

 It’s easy to understand how the bread pudding (or rice pudding) managed to make it to the table. We always had bread; my mother baked homemade bread twice a week in large roasting pans. We rarely had “store bought bread” in the house until much later, after my mother began working at Crosley’s over in Camp Washington.  (My sister Barbara recalled that we had the only mother in the neighborhood who worked full time—mind you, this was a time, in the 1940s and 1950s, when most mothers stayed at home).  It doesn’t surprise me that we might have left over rice from any meal; my mother’s rice was like library paste.  The most you could hope for was to break down the pasty consistency by spooning on a lot of chicken broth.  We always had mom’s library paste rice with stewed chicken for Sunday dinner. I was an adult living in California before I discovered that I really do like rice. (and my brother Bill has confessed to liking mom’s  library paste rice.)

I don’t think my mother had a recipe for making bread pudding although it’s entirely possible that she may have followed the recipe for Bread Puff Pudding that I found in her Ida Bailey Allen Service Cookbook.  The recipe is a simple combination of milk, bread crumbs, a bit of butter, small amount of sugar, vanilla, and a couple of eggs.  These would have been all ingredients on hand in my mother’s kitchen. Mom’s bread pudding sometimes contained some raisins, too.

What got me thinking about bread pudding was a surgery my daughter-in-law had one year.  Keara was recuperating from a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy, and was able to eat only soft foods.  I sent home to her a double batch of creamy tapioca pudding. She requested another comfort food; bread pudding.  Then, while searching through my box of newspaper clippings, I came across an article that appeared in the December 10, 1987 edition of the Los Angeles Times – and the subject was – you guessed it – bread puddings.

One of the recipes sounded so good that I decided it was the one to make; I just had to go out and buy a loaf of white bread, which we seldom have on hand, and then “make it stale” by letting the slices set out on the kitchen counter for half a day.

Well, I want you to know, this was a great bread pudding recipe—I did have to sample it, of course, to make sure I wasn’t sending Keara something she wouldn’t be able to eat!

Betty Balsley, the author of this particular article in the Los Angeles Times, explains her love for leftovers (something I can really relate to) and says that she’s always fascinated by the way home cooks as well as professional chefs adeptly handle flavors and texture to produce unforgettable culinary creations.

“Thus it was,” she writes, “that when attending the Newspaper Food Editors and Writers Assn. Conference in New Orleans in October, I gained an unmentionable number of pounds sampling an almost amazing variety of these classic American sweets (i.e., bread puddings). “None,” she claims, “were bad. A few were so-so but the majority were worth every calorie they added to my frame…”

What followed was an assortment of bread pudding recipes, ranging from Omni Royal Orleans Bread Pudding to Commander’s Palace Bread Pudding souffle with Whiskey Sauce.  I chose to make “Allie And Etell’s Bread Pudding. The Allie, I presume, is Paul Prudhomme’s sister Allie.  I added raisins to my batch of bread pudding, because what is bread pudding without raisins?

By now, as you might suspect, my curiosity was piqued. Do only the chefs of Louisiana know how to make bread pudding? Sylvia Lovegren, in “FASHIONABLE FOOD” writes of it “Bread pudding was another one of those old-fashioned all-American dishes that were de rigueur for trendy chefs. Although bread puddings were made around the country with every sort of ‘regional accent’, one of the most popular was one with a Southern, especially southern Louisiana, twang….”

Lovegren then offers a recipe for Bread Pudding with Pecan Bourbon Sauce.

Since the topic of bread pudding appears in Lovegren’s chapter for the 1980s, possibly this also explains how an article devoted to bread puddings ended up in a 1987 edition of the Los Angeles Times. Most food historians whose works I consulted don’t mention bread pudding at all.  So, what’s the story?

Even my tried-and-true “WISE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COOKERY” has disappointingly little to say about bread pudding, other than suggesting they are an excellent way of using slightly dry bread and offering two recipes. Numerous “Americana” cookbooks fail to mention bread pudding at all, whereas, – at least – in “THE BEST OF SHAKER COOKING”, authors provide ten recipes for the dessert, ranging from Shaker Mountain Blueberry Pudding to Maple Bread Pudding. All sound delicious.

A Good Housekeeping cookbook published in 1942-43 offers ten bread pudding recipes as well, including one for the Queen of Puddings which is mentioned in “PIONEER POTLUCK”, stories an recipes of Early Colorado, collected by the State Historical Society of Colorado. “THE PIONEER COOK BOOK” published by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers provides one recipe for Grandma Taylor’s Milton Pudding or Bread Pudding.  Queens Pudding is also mentioned in the “LINCOLN HERITAGE TRAIL COOKBOOK” by Marian French. (It seems that bread pudding was elevated to Queen’ Pudding by spreading the top with a layer of jelly or preserves after it was baked. Then you made a meringue with the whites of a couple of eggs and two tablespoons of sugar, and spread that over the top. Finally, you baked it again until the meringue was a light brown.

“THE PRACTICAL RECEIPT BOOK” published in 1897 by the Young Ladies Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Sewickley, Pennsylvania offers no less than sixty-five pudding recipes, two of which are for the Queen Pudding.

However, finding recipes for Bread Pudding doesn’t answer my original question—nor does it explain to me why or how this delicious dessert disappeared from the American culinary landscape.  Have we all become so busy that the only kind of puddings we have anymore are of the instant packaged variety that require only the addition of milk—or, equally tasteless — a pre-made item that you pick up in the dairy section of the supermarket, which only requires peeling off a foil cover? Ew, ew!

Perhaps we have to search into the much more distant past for the answer to the origin of bread pudding, or desserts in general as we know them.

Not much is known about desserts in the middle ages.  Patricia Bunning Stevens writes about desserts in “RARE BITS” subtitled “Unusual Origins of Popular Recipes”.

Describing the middle ages, she states, “…at the end of the meal, the table was cleared and spiced wine served, with sweet wafers, raisins, nuts, and ‘comfits,’ as sugared caraway seeds and anise seeds were called. It is from these simple beginnings that our modern ‘dessert’ stems, for the word comes from the French desservir and, ultimately, from the Latin dis servir, to remove what has been served, to clear (the table).

As time went by, the idea of true desserts spread and various countries developed their own preferences. “To Englishmen” writes Ms. Stevens, “the only dessert that ever really counted was the pudding….”  She continues with a rather detailed explanation of the English Pudding which contains dried fruit and spices; however, Ms. Stevens has nothing to add on the subject of bread pudding.

Until around 1800, the word pudding nearly always signified a sausage of some kind—i.e., a meat-filled casing. In “FRUITCAKES & COUCH POTATOES,” author Christine Ammer also notes that, “In Britain, the word ‘pudding’ alone often signifies the dessert course of a meal, whether or not it consists of the thick, soft, sweet mixture so called by Americans”.

Writing about plum puddings, Betty Wason, in “COOKS, GLUTTONS & GOURMETS,” notes that it was during the reign of Henry VIII that the Christmas feast came about.  “Plum Pudding,” says Wason, “originated as ‘plum soup’ made of mutton stock, currants, prunes, raisins and sherry; then bread was added to thicken it, and it was called ‘plum porridge’.  Eventually it became mostly meat with suet, wheat, raisins, currants, and spices added. Even the stews of England in those days were sweet and gooey, so spiced no one knew quite what the meat tasted like. (I think the main reason for that may have been that the meat was bad or tainted—the heavy spices would have masked the actual taste of the meat. It was for the same reason that the French concocted so many sauces to put over meats. But I digress).

“Plum Puddings,” Wason explains, “were made by the dozens—literally—because according to superstition, it was good luck to eat a plum pudding on each of the days between Christmas and Epiphany, ‘making a wish on the first mouthful each day.’  But woe to anyone who nibbled at a holiday pudding before the Christmas feast began—he would be in trouble for twelve months to come…”  (Sounds like something someone’s mother would have come up with to make sure no one was getting into the feast day food too soon!)

While doing a search on Google.com, I found a short but illuminating clue to the history of bread pudding. To make bread pudding, an oven is necessary; you can’t make it very well in a pot on top of the stove.  In early pioneer times, as we know, food was cooked over an open fire. The English version of foods like plum pudding were cooked on top of a stove but the whole mess was put into a pudding cloth that was suspended into a pot of water. The English pudding came into its own only with the invention of the cloth pudding bag at the end of the sixteenth century (before that, animal organs were used to encase the pudding process).

Another clue—centuries ago, women might mix up their own loaves of bread but they usually had to take it to something like a communal oven or to a professional baker–to have it baked. The lady of the house might mark her bread with the letter of their name or her own special design (from which we have the Patty Cake nursery rhyme line, “roll it and shape it, mark it with a “b” and put it in the oven for baby and me”.

To make something like bread pudding, as we know it, stoves—with ovens—had to be invented and make their way into ordinary households.

Having found no definitive answer to my initial question—who created or invented the first bread pudding—I feel compelled to make an assumption or two.

Bread pudding as we know it is most likely a creation of the mid-or-late 1800s, devised during frugal periods, to make use of stale bread. And there were, indeed, many austere periods in American history. It was one of the primary reasons so many men and women headed west in the mid 1800s, searching for a better life.

**

Louisiana chefs have, unquestionably, elevated the status of bread pudding to new heights while modern day cooks have come up with new and delicious creations using croissants, dried cranberries, day old cinnamon rolls or cinnamon bread. (type in bread pudding on Google.Com and you will come up with literally thousands of websites and bread pudding recipes galore.

Here for you to try is one of the recipes that appeared in the Los Angeles Times article. I’ve made a few minor changes to the original recipe because, as most people who know me are aware, I can’t leave a recipe alone.

¼ lb (1 stick)  unsalted butter (should be softened, room temperature)

1 cup sugar

2 (12 oz) cans evaporated milk (undiluted)

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

7 slices stale white sandwich bread, toasted

½ cup seedless raisins or dried cranberries

Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric mixer and beat on medium speed until mix is well creamed, about 5 minutes. Add milk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, cream of tartar and ginger. Beat on low speed until well-blended, about 3 minutes.

Break toasted bread into small pieces and arrange in even layer in bottom of ungreased 8×8” baking pan. Sprinkle on raisins. Pour milk mixture over the bread and let it stand for about 1 hour, occasionally patting down any bread that floats to the top.

Bake 450 degrees 20-25 minutes or until top is very well browned and mixture shakes like a bowl of jelly when pan is shaken. Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes before serving.   Makes 8-10 servings

Note: raisins, roasted pecans or other nuts or coconut can be added to recipe if desired.  I’ve discovered that dried blueberries also makes a nice addition.

I’ll leave you with this quotation, from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, in which he writes, “Hallo!  A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day!  That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook’s next door to each other…”

Review by Sandra Lee Smith

CANNING VEGGIES FROM A “SMALL” CITY GARDEN

 My son Kelly planted a larger garden last spring. He has done a little dabbling in gardening in the past few years, mostly pumpkins for the kids to make jack-o-lanterns. This year’s garden was a more serious endeavor. He planted corn, tomatoes, small hot chili peppers, bell peppers and crookneck squash. Oh, and watermelon and cantaloupe too. Early on, the garden began overflowing faster than any of us could pick, cook, or can. The squash went crazy. I went to a birthday party for a girlfriend in June; it was at a restaurant in Gorman and about forty something guests showed up. I put crook neck squashes in paper lunch bags and labeled them all door prizes—got rid of about 20 squashes this way but I could have easily given away many more. Then watermelon and cantaloupe overflowed; we couldn’t eat it fast enough or find enough homes for the fruit.

Meantime, Kelly’s one packet of cherry tomatoes began taking over the entire garden. As fast as they ripened, he would bring a bucket of tomatoes over for me to can (I live right around the corner from them). Tomatoes not quite ripe enough went in 1-pint plastic containers that I put in a back window that gets morning and afternoon sun. They would finish ripening overnight.

The easiest thing I could think of for canning cherry tomatoes was to convert them into juice and cook it down to a puree. Every other day I would cook a pot of cherry tomatoes and run them through a food mill; then the juice went into a gallon jar until I had enough to fill 7 quarts (the maximum amount that fits into my canner). I discovered that the easiest way to cook the juice down without any scorching was to pour the jars of juice into my largest crockpot. When I thought it was thick enough, I would have the sterilized quart or pint jars ready along with lids that had been sterilized and kept hot in a small pan. (I often wondered what the importance of cooking the lids was – it’s to soften the sealing compound on the underside of the lid—so that you get a solid seal after the jars have been submerged in a boiling water bath for an allotted amount of time (which varies depending on what you are canning. I only can food that can go into a boiling water bath, rather than a pressure cooker).

Well, we picked and picked and picked cherry tomatoes for weeks—I just took my time cooking the tomatoes in a small amount of water and then running it through a hand-held food mill. Then the pulp went into newspaper and into the trash; the juice went into the gallon jar until I had 2 gallon jars filled (I have often regretted not having a compost anymore. Bob & I had a compost going in an enclosed brick space in my back yard in Arleta—we lived there for 19 years so whatever he dug out of the very bottom of the compost would be perfect for gardening – and we invariably had volunteer tomato plants coming up where ever he used any compost).  I can’t do a compost here in the desert – nothing that would attract coyotes or bears which, believe it or not, have been spotted in Quartz Hill and Palmdale a few times since I’ve lived here. I was sitting in my car about to go somewhere one day when a skinny old coyote came around the corner and meandered slowly up my street.  And critters have been known to capture and kill family pets. A black bear was spotted one day about halfway between mine and my sister’s houses. I think animal control had to come and get that little fellow. Sorry, I digress.

Well, long story short, I have canned over 50 quarts of tomato puree. Some of Kelly’s little hot chili peppers went into a few of the jars.  The last of the tomato puree is heating up in my crock pot even as we speak. I should get 7 or 8 quarts of puree from the last of the ripe tomatoes.

A few days ago I suggested to Kelly (as we were digging around in the garden picking the last of the ripe tomatoes we could find) that I wouldn’t mind trying to make some pickled green cherry tomatoes—so over the weekend he and I picked all the green tomatoes we could find – we filled two large stainless basins and a large strainer—and he began pulling out the vines and packing them into his trash bin that is for leaves, clippings, garden debris. He climbed into the trash can to pack it down – and we called it quits for the tomatoes

(His bell peppers are still producing blossoms and peppers. I diced dozens of bell peppers with my Vidalia food chopper – it has a small dice and a larger one – and I filled bag after bag of bell peppers to give to friends and to fill our freezers).  Most of the chili peppers went into my dehydrator and we have given a lot of those away too).

So, yesterday – after making sure I had everything I wanted to put into my green tomato pickles – I began sterilizing jars, filling them with the green cherry tomatoes and spices—and making pickles. I weighed the cherry tomatoes on my bathroom scale before starting – and had 14 pounds of tomatoes.  This has produced 12 quarts of pickled cherry tomatoes. How do they taste? Well, I have one jar in the frig—not canned—and we’ll give them a taste in a week. The rest are going into my jelly cupboard which I had to completely change around this morning to make enough space for all the tomato puree and the cherry tomato pickles.  Whew! We don’t have the pantry or cupboard space that I had in the Arleta house. And you can’t store excess grocery items in the garage – it gets too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.

To Make Pickled Green Tomatoes, I checked various sites I found on Google—which is easier and faster than going through my collection of notebooks on canning, preserving, jelly & jam making.  I made my own variations which included the omission of garlic, which none of us is crazy about in pickles. I also added a small hot chili pepper in some, not all, of the jars.

 What You Need:

(For 12 quarts of green cherry tomato pickles)

14 pounds of green cherry tomatoes
12 cups of white vinegar
12 cups of water
12 tbsp. of kosher salt
dill seeds
whole black peppercorns

red pepper flakes or whole small chili peppers—dried or fresh

Jars — either quart-sized jars or 6 pint-sized jars, as well as lids and rings, a hot water canner (if you’re planning on storing your pickles long term)
Jar lifter

Prepping Your Tomatoes

(Note: If you’re planning to process your pickles in a hot water canner, you should fill the canner with water, add your jars, and turn the water on to sterilize and warm your jars. Just leave the jars in the water until you’re ready to use them. Place the lids and rings in another pan with simmering – not boiling- water until you’re ready to use them.)

Gather and wash 14 pounds of green tomatoes. I used green cherry tomatoes because they seemed to stay firmer after processing, but any tomato will work. You can cut your tomatoes in half if they’re larger or cut them into quarters. (I left mine whole and used different sizes – large and small. The very small ones  filled empty spaces in the jars.)

Now, make your brine. Add the vinegar, water, and salt to a pan, and bring it to a boil. Once it’s boiling, it’s time to start filling your sterilized jars.

Remove the jars from the boiling water canner with jar tongs. Set them on a towel on your counter (so they don’t crack when they come into contact with the cool surface) and add the following to each jar:

  • 1 tsp. dill seeds
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp (or more if you want them spicier) of red pepper flakes–or small whole red chili peppers (fresh or dried)

Once your spices are in, start packing your tomatoes into the jars. Really, pack them in. Once they’re packed, add brine to fill the spaces between tomatoes. Use a chopstick or knife to go around the inside of the jar and remove any air bubbles, then fill with more brine if you need to. Leave 1/4 inch of headspace, then wipe the rims of your jars to clean up any brine, add your lids and tighten your rings.

Put your jars in your hot water canner, and cover with a lid. Once the water comes up to a boil, start your timer — you’ll be processing your pickles for fifteen minutes.

Once time is up, remove your jars and place them on a towel on a kitchen counter. They’ll have to sit there for several hours to cool. When they are cool, you can label the pickles and put them in a dark place to “age” – 6 weeks should be about right. This is the length of time I age my hot Hawaiian pineapple pickles.

Making Refrigerator Pickled Green Tomatoes–You can also forget about the boiling water processing if you just want to make a few jars of pickles to be eaten within the next month or so. Prep your tomatoes, add your spices, tomatoes, and boiling brine to the jars, and place in the refrigerator. They’ll be ready to eat in about a week.

What to Do with Pickled Green cherry tomatoes? You can snack on them or slice or dice the pickles to go on top of hamburgers or hot dogs. They can be diced and added to tuna or chicken salad for sandwiches—or cut up to go into salads.  The sky’s the limit.

–Sandra Lee Smith

 

MORE BACK TO BASICS RECIPES (REVISITED)

The following was posted in July, 2009—since then I have often received inquiries and questions from like-minded friends and relatives (mostly the nieces) – asking about very basic recipes. I realize that something posted in July of 2009 might not be on the tip of the tongue in 2013—and I really want to get a master list made of all the blog entries to make it easier to find what you want. Meantime, here are some of the basic recipes. I suggest printing them and keeping the information in a notebook

Since posting the first “Back to Basics” I began finding a lot more “basic” recipes in my files. What I mean about basic recipes is those things you can easily make from scratch instead of using a prepackaged mix that generally costs a lot more than making your own – or in some instances, such as one with my younger sister, when she wanted to make something like tacos for dinner and discovered she was out of taco seasoning mix. Now she makes her own taco seasoning mix all the time. (Another bonus to making your own – there’s often no telling how long the seasoning mix was on the store shelves or in a warehouse before you bought it). When you mix your own, you know how old the spices or seasonings in your kitchen are. Anyway, here are some more basic recipes that you can print and keep in your own recipe box.

MOCK SOUR CREAM

You will need:

2 cups low fat or no fat cottage cheese
¼ cup plain yogurt
eggbeaters to equal 1 egg
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP water
½ tsp dry mustard
¼ tsp white pepper
1/8 tsp hot sauce

Combine all ingredients in a blender container and process until smooth. Use for potato topping or dips.

Sandy’s Cooknote: The beauty of this recipe is that you can use no fat cottage cheese and by using egg beaters, you have a VERY LOW calorie/no fat recipe. The original recipe called for 1 egg–given that you aren’t cooking anything, I have changed it to eggbeaters to equal one egg.
**

BLENDER CARAMEL SAUCE

¾ CUP brown sugar
2 TBSP soft butter or margarine
¼ tsp salt
½ cup hot evaporated milk

Put all ingredients into blender container. Cover and process at mix until sugar is dissolved.
**
SEASONED CRUMBS

You will need:

2 CUPS fine dry bread crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp garlic salt
¼ cup parsley flakes, crumbled

Combine spices. Mix well. Pack loosely in jar. Use as coating for veal, pork, poultry or fish to be sautéed. Makes about 3 cups.
***

SEASONED PEPPER

You will need:

6 TBSP coarse ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp sugar (optional)
½ tsp dried sweet red pepper
½ tsp dried finely minced onion
1 tsp paprika
1/3 tsp dried sweet green pepper

Combine spices and stir with wooden spoon. Pack tightly in glass jars. Makes about ½ cup.

Sandy’s cooknote: Ok, I do a lot of cooking but have never heard of dried sweet red or green pepper. BUT I think you could easily make your own. I chop up bell peppers when they are on sale and freeze them. I think I could just as easily dry a little of each, red and green in my oven or dehydrator to have it on hand. I’ll give this a try and get back to you on the results.
**

CREOLE RUB

You will need:

1 TBSP salt
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
1 ½ tsp onion powder
1 ½ tsp paprika
1 ¼ tsp dried thyme
1 tsp round red pepper
¾ tsp black pepper
¾ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground bay leaves
¼ tsp chili powder

Combine all ingredients. Store in an airtight container. Sprinkle on sea food, chicken or beef before grilling. Yield ¼ cup.
**

JERK RUB

You will need:

1 ½ TBSP sugar
1 TBSP onion powder
1 TBSP dried thyme
2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tsp ground red pepper
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves

Combine all ingredients. Store mixture in an airtight container. Sprinkle on chicken or seafood before grilling. Yield 1/3 cup.
**

HOMEMADE SEAFOOD SPICE

You will need:

2 TBSP garlic powder
1 TBSP onion powder
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp black better
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp sugar

Mix. Store in an airtight container.

Sandy’s cooknote: You will note that all of these recipes advise keeping the spice or seasoning in airtight containers. You don’t have to go out and buy a lot of jars or plastic containers. I save all kinds and sizes of glass jars when they are empty of what ever came with them. Wash them really good and remove the labels. When you put a seasoning into one of them, label it and include the date so you will remember when you made it. When I had babies, those baby food jars really came in handy for things like seasoning mixes.
**

Emeril’s BABY BAM SEASONING

You will need:

3 TBSP paprika
2 TBSP EACH salt, dried parsley, onion powder and garlic powder, oregano, basil and thyme
½ tsp celery salt

Stir well. Store in an airtight container.
**

ZESTY CHICKEN SEASONING BLEND

You will need:

2 TBSP chili powder
1 TBSP garlic salt
1 TBSP paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ cup vegetable oil

In a small mixing bowl, combine all seasonings. Blend in oil, forming a paste. May be refrigerated up to 2 weeks. To use, brush mixture on whole chicken or chicken pieces and let stand 1 hr at room temperature or at least 2 hours in the refrigerator before roasting or grilling, until chicken is cooked through. Makes enough to season 7 to 8 pounds of chicken. Note: Add 2-3 TBSP lime juice to mixture if desired.
**

COPY CAT ONION SOUP MIX

You will need:

1/4 CUP dried minced onion
2 TBSP instant beef bouillon
½ tsp onion powder

Combine all ingredients. This makes the equivalent of one package of soup mix.
**

HERB SEASONING BLEND

You will need:

1 TBSP dried thyme
1 TBSP dried oregano
2 tsp rubbed sage
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried basil]
1 tsp dried parsley flakes

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Use in omelets and to season fish, vegetables or chicken. Makes ¼ cup.
**

The following are a few good recipes for making your own marinades:

SECRET STEAK MARINADE

You will need:

1 CUP soy sauce
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, halves
¼ cup Kitchen Bouquet*
2 tsp Beau Monde seasoning

Combine soy sauce, onion and garlic in blender ad high speed 1 minute or until mix is smooth. Stir in Kitchen Bouquet and Beau Monde seasoning. Makes 2 ½ cups.
To marinate: arrange steaks in shallow glass baking dish (or use a zip lock bag) and pour ½ cup marinade over each steak or chop. Allow to stand at room temp 2 hours OR cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours, then bring meat to room temperature before cooking.

Sandy’s cooknote: Kitchen Bouquet! It’s a flavor enhancer that makes brown gravies a nice dark rich brown and is wonderful in pot roasts. My mother always had a tiny bottle of Kitchen Bouquet in the kitchen cupboard. Well, it floored me, the cost of those little bottles – we have a warehouse-kind of supermarket that is called Smart & Final, but I would imagine that Sam’s Club and/or Costco might keep the large quart size bottle in stock. I get a QUART bottle for about the same price as those little bitty ones. I swear by Kitchen Bouquet and wouldn’t be without it. Beau Monde is another but that’s another story.
**

HERB WINE MARINADE

You will need:

1 cup red wine*
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
1 clove garlic. Crushed
1/3 tsp crushed rosemary
½ tsp EACH salt & pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp marjoram

Blend ingredients and let stand overnight. Remove garlic clove. Cover and store until ready to use.

Sandy’s cooknote: A lot of my recipes call for red wine. I keep a LARGE bottle of Burgundy wine in the kitchen pantry – just for these recipes.
**

BASIC MARINADE FOR POULTRY

You will need:

2 TBSP vegetable oil
2 TBSP soy sauce
¼ cup dry (red or white) wine
2 tsp Tarragon or thyme
salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients. Add more salt and pepper if you want. Marinate chicken or turkey overnight or brush on 15-20 minutes before grilling.
**

CITRUS MARINADE

You will need:

2 large garlic cloves
1/3 cup olive oil
3 TBSP packed dark brown sugar
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup fresh orange or lime juice
1 ½ tsp freshly grated lemon zest

Thinly slice garlic and in a small saucepan, cook in oil over moderately low heat just until it begins to turn golden. Remove pan from heat and with a slotted spoon, discard garlic. In oil in pan, add remaining ingredients and salt & pepper to taste. Cool marinade. Makes about 1 cup, enough marinade for 1 ½ to 2 pounds chicken or shrimp.
**

BEER MARINADE

You will need:

¼ cup salad oil
¼ cup lemon juice
1 cup beer
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
¾ tsp pepper
½ tsp dry mustard
½ tsp crushed basil leaves
¼ tsp crushed oregano leaves

Blend all ingredients

To make beef kabobs:

You will need

1 ½ lbs flank steak
beer marinade
1 large green pepper, parboiled
12 cherry tomatoes
12 medium mushroom halves
12 small white onions, parboiled

Cut flank steak crosswise on the diagonal into 1” wide strips. There should be about 12 good strips. Place meat and marinade in a bowl and chill overnight. Cut green pepper into 12 small squares. For each kabob, thread meat alternatively with 1 green pepper square, 1 cherry tomato, 1 mushroom half and 1 onion on skewer. Broil 6-8” from source of heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until meat is desired doneness. Brush with marinade before turning.

Sandy’s Cooknote: I know a little something about making shish-kabobs. We made them for YEARS while my sons were growing up. We had an assembly line going for threading the kabobs on skewers. If you are using bamboo skewers, you should know the skewers should be soaked in cold water for several hours before using, so they don’t catch on fire. But metal skewers are inexpensive and you can stock up on them to have a bunch on hand if you are feeding company. Personally, I like to toss the mushrooms into a pot of boiling water for a minute or so – OR cook them a while in melted butter…they will go on the skewers more easily & taste better too. You can use that same melted butter to brush on the kabobs when they are cooking. We also would cut up hot dogs and wrap raw bacon around them to stretch the meat (I was raising four sons). I liked to cut the meat (often something like London Broil) into bite-size chunks and then marinate it for a few hours in something like a red-wine marinade with tenderizer sprinkled on, so that the meat was good and tender. Kabobs is a good company meal. Sometimes we also used chicken breast, cut into chunks – and when my son Steve was being lavish (and doing the cooking) he would get a pound of halibut and cut that into chunks to go onto the skewers. All great eating.
***

CIDER MARINADE FOR CHICKEN OR PORK

You will need:

¼ tsp crushed red chile flakes
1 tsp rubber dry sage
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/3 tsp celery seed
1 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP chopped fresh parsley, optional
1 tsp finely minced lemon zest
½ cup apple cider
4 tsp cider vinegar
2 TBSP Dijon mustard
¼ cup cooking oil

Whisk together red chile flakes, sage, thyme, celery seed, sugar, parsley, lemon zest, apple cider, vinegar, mustard and oil. Use to marinate chicken breasts or pork chops at least for 4 hours or up to 8 hours. Will keep refrigerated up to 1 week.
**
Happy Cooking!

PS if you have a favorite basic recipe that isn’t listed here, feel free to write and tell me about it!
Sandy @ sandychatter

HEALTHY 1-2-3 BY ROZANNE GOLD

HEALTHY 1-2-3 BY ROZANNE GOLD 001

Rozanne Gold is back again, with another 3- ingredient cookbook, only this time it’s   “Healthy 1-2-3” which is proclaimed to be the ultimate three ingredient fat-free, low fat- low calorie cookbook.

Rozanne Gold is considered one of the most prominent figures in the world of food today. She was First Chef to New York City Mayor Ed Koch when she was only 23 years old. When this cookbook was first published in 2001, Rozanne was Chef-Director of the Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Company, best known for creating Manhattan’s Magical Windows on the World and Rainbow Room restaurants.

Rozanne was named one of America’s Top 5 Enlightened chefs by COOKING LIGHT magazine. She is also a three-time winner of the prestigious James Beard Award.

You may remember Rozanne from an earlier blog post of mine, on the trend of cookbook recipes with few and fewer ingredients. Rozanne is also the author of “LITTLE MEALS”, RECIPES 1-2-3”, “1-2-3- MENU COOKBOOK and ENTERTAINING 1-2-3” She has written a monthly column on entertaining for Bon Appétit magazine and has been a regular on television programs.  And, after I posted a review on RECIPES 1-2-3 I discovered that Rozanne has a blog on WordPress, when she read my article and re-posted it on her blog. That’s the best validation that I, a mostly unknown home cook can get, when a published cookbook author gives you a nod and acknowledgement.

When reading a cookbook (and yes, cookbook collectors do read cookbooks like other more normal avid readers read novels) I like to read “between the lines” –or, more accurately “between the recipes” to learn about the author and what prompted their book. Most of us know that cookbook recipes containing only 3, 4 or 5 ingredients (and I’ve even seen a two ingredient cookbook as well as one for 7 ingredients) are enjoying a great deal of popularity. This is understandable, given our busy lifestyles. Although my own children have all grown up and left home, I remember only too well the days of rushing home from work, tossing a load of towels into the washer, starting dinner and supervising homework. We want to put interesting healthy meals on the table but who has the time to spend hours preparing dinner?  And, although after my sons moved out and there were only two of us, I still cooked dinner every night. I’ve always believed it’s a most important meal, when the family sits down to enjoy a meal together and talk about their day at school or work.

Although you wouldn’t imagine it from the glamorous cover photo of Rozanne Gold, she writes, “As a kid, I morphed from a fat teenager into a plump adult. I hated my body and bemoaned my fate, for I was built exactly like my father (a professional fullback, no less) rather than like my svelte and glamorous mother…” (I could relate—oh, boy, how I could relate. I was a chunky teenager, unlike my blonde-and-blue eyed skinny older sister or my beautiful always on the thin side mother—I battled my weight for many years, until I became a Weight Watcher in my early 40s).

Rozanne says she loved being home alone to raid the freezer, eating as much as she could and rearranging the rest so no one would notice. Rozanne writes “In those days, I straightened my hair, parted it down the middle to cover most of my face, wore big glasses to hide the rest, and quietly wished I were dead…”

After a trip to Europe when she was 19, Rozanne decided she wanted to be a professional chef. A few years later, after battling anorexia, at the age of 23 she became the first official chef to the Mayor of New York.

After what she describes as a whirlwind year with the Mayor, Rozanne found herself in the “demanding field of restaurant consulting, working in the world’s finest restaurants. “Glamorous, perhaps,” she laments, “But I again succumbed to the ruinous temptation of being around food all the time…”

Life for Rozanne changed when she became the culinary director of the Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Company, where she was consulting chef to New York’s magical Rainbow Room which the company owned and operated from 1985 to 1999.  One of her responsibilities, she explains, was to develop “Evergreen”, a low-calorie, low-fat dining concept for members of the Rockefeller Center Club who needed to eat smarter. “In Evergreen,” explains Rozanne, we succeeded in reversing health foods bad image by applying French techniques to a handful of superlative ingredients and cooking them perfectly. The result was a healthful, sophisticated cuisine marked by daring simplicity.”  Rozanne began to lose weight.

“I also discovered,” she says, “that hidden in the world of food and wine and all its pleasures was the concept of restraint. From Joe and his partners I learned to grasp the essence of a dish, to slowly savor small amounts of anything that was offered, and to demand the best of everything.

It was about this time that Rozanne began to write cookbooks about her new and simpler style. The first was “Little Meals” followed by “RECIPES 1-2-3”,

And now, Rozanne is as svelte as her mother.

“HEALTHY 1-2-3” offers, in addition to recipes, nutritional counseling from Helen Kimmel, a master of science-registered dietitian who has collaborated with Rozanne on three earlier books.

And what recipes! You will find a wide assortment from which to choose, beginning with soups (Chilled Spring Pea Soup, Broccoli Soup with Fresh Basil Butter, Thick Fennel Soup with Spinach Pastina, Yellow Split Pea and Smoked Salmon Bisque and Sweet Potato-Rutabaga with Bacon Crisps) and ending with an array of fruits and desserts designed to tempt even the most demanding, pickiest palate. The problem will be not which one to try but which one to try first. Choose from Fresh Blueberries and Blueberry Compote, Lemon ‘Custard’, Raspberry Honey Fool, P:ineapple Shingles with Caramel, Pistachio Dust, Strawberry-Ginger Sorbet, Macerated Berries and  Ginger Chips or Cider-Poached Apples…just for openers. This is a small sampling of the dessert recipes you can serve – without guilt.

Generously sandwiched in-between, you will find a tempting array of first courses, vegetables and side-dishes from which to select. Think: Layered Flounder and Smoked Salmon, Sauteed Cod with Asparagus Veloute (I love asparagus), Bay Steamed Halibut with Lemon Oil, or how about Brined Pork Loin with Orange-Chipotle jus, Potted Leeks and Corned Beef in Riesling, Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Mustard and Rosemary, or Rib-eye Roast, Gravlax-style in which the beef is cured overnight in dill, sugar, salt and pepper, a Nordic preparation usually reserved for salmon and then roasted. There is a fine, ample chapter devoted to vegetables and side dishes, ranging from Steamed Asparagus with Wasabi Butter, Comfit of Carrots and Lemon, to Scalloped Cheese Potatoes or Rozanne’s favorite Sweet Potatoes (sure to become my favorite, too!)

One of the added bonuses to the mouth-watering recipes offered in “HEALTHY 1-2-3” is a section called “Restoratives” which I think you will love as much as I. Imagine” Mixed Berry Shrub, Watermelon Splash, Chamomile Tea with Lavender, Strawberry-Basil Elixir….and more.

Extra special treats include such yummies as Chocolate Mousse Sponge, and Cocoa Meringues (yes, you can have treats such as these and still “be on a diet”).

As an added bonus, the publishers advise, “Because all of the dishes are low in fat and/or calories, “HEALTHY 1-2-3” can promote weight loss or maintenance. If weight isn’t an issue, they suggest “simply take advantage of all the latest research on the inherent and healthful benefits of fresh, natural ingredients…”

“HEALTHY 1-2-3” FROM Stewart Tabori & Chang is wonderfully illustrated. Photographs of this fantastic cookbook are the creation of Anita Calero, whose work has appeared in many magazines, including TOWN & COUNTRY, and MARTHA STEWART LIVING. And we all understand the importance of good photographs—what’s the first thing you say when you look at a recipe with an accompanying photograph? “That looks good!” we exclaim.  And if each recipe only has three ingredients, what’s not to like – or try?

“HEALTHY 1-2-3” was first published in 2001.  I found it listed on Amazon.com new for $10.85, pre-owned starting at one cent, and a collectible copy for $25.00.  If you look it up on Amazon you will find some of Rozanne’s other 3-ingredient cookbooks listed.

–Review by Sandra Lee Smith

 

 

LET THEM EAT SOUP!

This should have been before the last post. And I can’t find the original date I may have posted it – in 2009, I think. I know I have some photographs somewhere of some of my soups/tureens. Have to do a search for those too! -  sls

LET THEM EAT SOUP!

There is nothing like soup. It is by nature eccentric: no two are ever alike, unless of course you get your soup in a can.” Laurie Colwin, ‘Home Cooking’ (1988)

“From time immemorial, soups and broths have been the worldwide medium for utilizing what we call the kitchen byproducts or as the French call them, the ‘dessertes de la table’ (leftovers), or ‘les parties interieures de la bete’, such as head, tail, lights, liver, knuckles and feet.”                            –Louis P. De Gouy, The Soup Book (1949)

AND MY FAVORITE, FROM LEWIS CARROLL:

Beautiful Soup

BEAUTIFUL Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!

Beau–ootiful Soo-oop!
Beau–ootiful Soo-oop!
Soo–oop of the e–e–evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!

Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only of Beautiful Soup?
Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?

Beau–ootiful Soo-oop!
Beau–ootiful Soo-oop!
Soo–oop of the e–e–evening,
Beautiful, beauti–FUL SOUP! 

After writing a poem about soup for my poetry group, I was asked to post something on my Blog about making homemade soups. Soup is probably my forte–what I do best under the best or even the worst of conditions; when the pantry is well stocked or when I am scrounging through the frig for any leftovers suitable for a soup pot. My sister Becky had a name for the latter; she called it “clean-out-the-refrigerator-soup”. But here’s the thing –You can buy dozens of cookbooks devoted to soups/stews/chowders/bisques–a soup by any other name…but you don’t really need any cookbook or recipe to make a good pot of soup. All you need are some ingredients. One of my favorites is a leftover pot roast. The next day I dice up any left over meat, discarding fat, bones, gristle. I put it into the pot with the leftover gravy- and add some water. Then I add whatever leftover vegetables are in the frig. If there AREN’T any, I begin peeling potatoes, onions, and carrots, dicing everything to add to the pot. When it’s a beef soup that is cooking, I love to add a cup of dry barley a few hours into the cooking period. It makes such a great hearty soup. And for a little more heartiness, I like to add about a cup of burgundy wine. But if you don’t have any barley, you can add some rice – leftover or otherwise. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Clam chowder is definitely hard to beat, especially if it’s made in a healthy way. This Hearty Clam Chowder from Eater’s Digest and JohnsHopkinsUniversity’s School of Public Health in Baltimore also contains only 380 milligrams of sodium, not bad for a “soup” dish.

Hearty Clam Chowder

Makes 9-10 servings

5 medium potatoes, pared and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 cup chopped green onions, including tops
1/2 cup diced celery
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1/4 diced red or green bell pepper
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 cups water
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Dash of hot pepper sauce
Two 6-1/2 oz. cans of minced clams
1/2 cup flour
2 cups unsweetened soymilk

Place potatoes, green onion, celery, carrot, bell pepper and garlic in large pan. Mix in water, butter, salt, Worcestershire and hot pepper sauce.

Bring to a boil, cover, and cook 15 minutes over medium heat or until potatoes are tender. Drain clams, reserving liquid and adding water, if necessary, to make 1 cup. Combine clam liquid with flour and stir to make a smooth paste. Pour flour paste into vegetables and cool, stirring, until mixture thickens. Add clams and soymilk. Continue cooking until chowder is hot.

My Clam Chowder:

5-6 potatoes, peeled and diced

1 onion, finely chopped

2-3 carrots, shredded

1 cup sliced celery

1can evaporated milk (12 oz) (you can buy evaporated skim milk if you are counting calories)

1 can undiluted Cream of Mushroom Soup

2-4 cans of minced clams, including broth

Salt & pepper to taste

Fresh parsley, if you have it, otherwise dried parsley flakes

Cover the potatoes, carrots, celery and onion with water in a medium size pot until tender, then add the undiluted cream of mushroom soup and evaporated milk. Add the clams (I like a lot of clams. I see recipes using one 6 ounce can of clams and wonder – where’s the fun in that?) If you can get BIG cans of minced clams, like they have at Costco, all the better. Cook it all and add seasoning to taste.  If it’s not thick enough by dinner time, add instant potato flakes to make it thicker. Another great addition is clam stock which is sold in small round jars, about 6-8 ounce size. It will last a long time and adds infinite flavor to the clam chowder. Leftover mashed potatoes can be added to the pot or even some leftover carrots, if you have them. I also like adding fresh sliced mushrooms to the soup (but feel free to add a couple of cans of bits & pieces mushrooms if you have them around).

This soup is really good with hot garlic bread. I remember one time, my brother Bill & I returned from a trip to Oak Glen (California)  to buy apples – and I made a quick pot of clam chowder when we got back home. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. The apples became applesauce.

GINGERY PUMPKIN SOUP (this is very low in fat)

2 tsp vegetable oil

2 shallots, minced (2 TBSP)

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger*

2 cups pumpkin puree

2 cups reduced-sodium defatted chicken broth

1 cup orange juice

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp minced orange zest

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

A pinch of ground cloves

2 TBSP minced fresh parsley (optional) -but if you don’t have fresh, use dried.

1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (also optional)

Heat oil in soup pot over low heat; sauté the shallots, onions, and ginger in the oil until the onions are soft and golden. Be careful not to scorch the ginger. Add the pumpkin, orange juice, broth, salt, zest, pepper and cloves. Simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat. Garnish with parsley and pumpkin seeds, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

(Sandy’s cooknote: *Fresh ginger can be purchased in small jars and comes already finely minced. But if you buy fresh ginger–I have a tip for you. I’ve heard Rachel Ray tell viewers to freeze it. But I peel the ginger and pack it into a small clean jar and then cover it with sherry. It keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator this way and the sherry takes on the flavor of ginger and can also be used in other recipes.)

POTATO SOUP

3 medium potatoes

1 quart milk

1 small onion, sliced

2 TBSP flour

3 TBSP butter or margarine

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp celery salad

few grains cayenne pepper

1 tsp chopped parsley

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender. Mash until smooth. Scald the milk with the onion, remove the onion and add the milk slowly to the potatoes, stirring constantly. Melt half the butter or margarine, add half the dry ingredients & stir until well mixed and add to the hot soup. Boil for 1 minute, strain and add the remaining butter and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Makes 6-8 servings (You could easily top this off with a bit of bacon and grated cheese!)

FAST & FIT POTATO CHOWDER

1 TBSP butter or margarine

1 cup chopped leeks or onions

1 cup diced red or green bell peppers

2 lbs (6 medium) potatoes, diced 1/2″

3 cups chicken broth

2 tsp dried thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

1 cup low fat milk

1 package (10 oz) frozen corn, thawed & drained

1/4 cup cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

In microwave, melt butter in a 2 to 3 qt casserole dish on high 1 minute. Add leeks and bell peppers; microwave on high 3 minutes. Stir in potatoes, broth, thyme and bay leaves; cover and cook on high 17 to 20 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves. Remove 4 cups cooked potato with a slotted spoon and put into blender; add milk and puree until smooth. Return mixture to dish. Stir in corn, parsley and cayenne; season with salt and pepper; heat on high for 3 minutes. (If desired, pass bowls of shredded cheddar cheese, crumbled cooked bacon, drained canned clams or cubed cooked chicken or ham to stir into soup). Makes 6-8 servings.

CROCK POT DOUBLE CORN AND POTATO CHOWDER

3 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced

1 onion, diced

1 can cream of corn

1/2 to 3/4 bag frozen corn

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Black pepper

1 1/2 cups diced ham or 10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, or 1 1/2 cups roasted red peppers, cut to bite size, plus a pinch of crushed rosemary. Put all ingredients in the slow cooker; stir and cook on low 6 to 8 hours or until potatoes are tender.

MEXICAN POTATO SOUP

3  slices bacon, diced

3 large potatoes peeled and cubed

5 cups water

1 cup tomato sauce

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 Can (7 to 8 ounces) diced green chilies (buy the mild unless you are used to the hot or jalapenos and can handle the heat)

1/2 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

In a large skillet, brown bacon. Add potatoes and stir to coat. Add water, tomato sauce, onion and salt. Reduce heat to simmering and cook 1 hour. Divide chilies and cheese among bowls. Spoon hot soup over chilies and cheese and serve. Makes 6 servings.

MOM’S POTATO SOUP

(This is an old recipe from my mother’s collection)

2 ½ cups diced peeled potatoes (about 6 large)

2-4 cups water

1 TBSP salt

1-2 stalks celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

4 TBSP butter

¼ tsp pepper (white is best but not necessary)

¼ tsp celery salt

¼ tsp garlic salt

4 cups milk

Place potatoes in large heavy pot with 2 cups water. Add salt and cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook potatoes until almost tender. While potatoes cook, sauté the onions and celery in 4 TBSP butter. Add pepper, celery salt & garlic salt. Stir onion mixture into the undrained potatoes. Add milk and more water if needed or desirable. Soup should be only slightly thick. Heat mix to boiling and reduce and simmer gently until flavors blend and mellow. Serve with either chopped chives or parsley afloat the steaming soup. Add a dollop of butter too. Serve with crisp crackers.

 Mexican Tortilla Soup

Weight Watchers style

8 ounces cooked, skinless, diced chicken

1 cup sliced or diced carrots

2 cups sliced thin celery

2 cups shredded or chopped cabbage

1 cup chopped onion

½ cup mild chilies

1 cup green beans

1 can whole kernel corn

½ cup diced bell peppers

1 qt tomato juice

1 qt V8 juice (or 2 quarts tomato juice)

1 qt tomatoes

2-3 chicken bouillon cubes

Water, if necessary, to make 6 quarts

Cook until all the vegetables are done. Add salt & pepper and any other seasonings

you like. I added chili powder to give it a little kick. You could also add tomato sauce or tomato paste. As listed, total is 16 points. One cup equals 1 ½ points

To make tortilla strips, cut 1 or 2 flour tortillas (I like to dry them out on a cookie sheet in the oven – but my old stove has a pilot light that is always “on” so there is just enough heat generated to dry out herbs or tortilla strips).

(Sandy’s cooknote:  Until a few years ago, we had never heard of Mexican Tortilla soup -I think it’s a relative newcomer to the culinary landscape – like cilantro. Twenty years ago you couldn’t find cilantro anywhere; nowadays, most supermarkets carry fresh cilantro and if you can’t find that you can buy freeze-dried cilantro. I have to admit cilantro is an acquired taste. As for Mexican tortilla soup, now you can find dozens of recipes. I began experimenting with making this soup, after the first time I tasted it in a Mexican restaurant. Living in California, we have a lot of exposure to good Mexican cuisine.

This next recipe is El Torito’s Tortilla Soup recipe from the LA Times SOS column 1990-91 and it may have changed since then. The point I am trying to make is that you can make Mexican tortilla soup a lot of different ways and if you leave out the shredded cheese, it’s a fairly low-calorie, low-fat recipe.

To Make EL TORITOS TORTILLA SOUP

4 CORN TORTILLAS

oil

2 ½ cups fish stock

¼ cup tomato sauce

2 TBSP diced celery

2 TBSP diced onion

2 TBSP diced green pepper

2 TBSP diced tomato

1 tsp white pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp ground oregano

1 bay leaf

salt

¾ cup shredded Jack cheese

¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cut tortillas into strips. Deep fry in hot oil until crisp*. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Combine fish stock, tomato sauce, celery, onion, green pepper, tomato, white pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and bay leaf in saucepan. Season to taste with salt. Bring to boil and simmer 20-30 minutes.  To serve, place tortilla strips in bowl.  Cover with shredded cheeses and add broth. Makes 4 servings.

(*Sandy’s cooknote: I would not, personally, deep fry tortilla strips – I always cut them into strips and dry them in my oven. I also prefer flour tortillas over corn. If you can’t oven dry them without heat, I would suggest – cut the tortillas into thin strips and spread them out on a cookie sheet covered with foil. Dry them on the lowest oven temperature until crisp. We also prefer to put the tortilla strips on TOP of the bowl of soup, not under it – and then top it off with a little grated cheese – and, if you have it, a slice of avocado makes a nice presentation. Tastes good, too. Also, if you don’t have fish stock and don’t know how to make it – use a vegetable stock or even chicken broth made with bouillon cubes. It all works. One of these days I will write something about making your own basic stocks – which can be frozen until you are ready to use them).

Here’s one more recipe for Tortilla Soup and it’s pretty simple and straightforward:

TORTILLA SOUP

10 CUPS strong chicken broth

2 cups diced onion

¼ cup oil

6 cloves garlic

2 cups cooked chicken

2 tsp ground cumin

1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chilies

1 15-oz can stewed tomatoes

1 ½ tsp salt

½ cup chopped cilantro (optional)

¼ cup grated cheese per bowl

tortilla chips or corn chips

In a large pot, sauté onion and garlic until soft. Add broth and other ingredients except cheese; bring to a boil and simmer at least 30 minutes. Before filling bowls, put a few tortilla chips or corn chips in the bottom of the bowl. Add soup and top it off with a bit of grated cheese.

T.G.I. Friday’s French Onion Soup

3-4 medium to large onions

3 cans of beef broth

water

Worcestershire sauce

butter

Sargento cheese (Italian blend) 8 oz. bag (recommended)

French baguette

2 bay leaves

Dash of garlic powder

Dash of both salt and pepper

Slice the onions into rings and sauté in butter in a skillet until tender. Turn crock pot on to low and put in the cans of beef broth, bay leaves, dash of garlic powder and salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, and 3/4 cup of water. When the onions and butter mixture is tender then also add them to the crock pot. Cover and cook for at least 3-5 hours on low. At this point you may want to taste the soup and see if you would like it a little weaker–if so add a little water or chicken broth. Also, at this time remove the bay leaves and discard them.  When about ready to serve, slice bread into thin slices and toast in oven on 350 or in toaster oven until just crusty. Put toasted slices (1-3) in bowl and cover with the cheese (adjust cheese to your liking). Then cover bread and cheese with hot soup. The cheese will melt and the bread will rise to the top. Source: The Secret Recipe Forum:

(Sandy’s cooknote: Personally I like to add about a cup of burgundy wine to my French onion soup. But then I like Burgundy wine in a lot of my soups and stews. I have a big jug of Burgundy wine in the pantry that is used exclusively to cook with).

Here is my favorite recipe for Cream of Broccoli Soup.  When you buy a head of broccoli, peel the stems and cut them up and cook them along with the florets.  After dinner, put the cut stems and the leftover florets into a blender and puree. You need about 2 cups of puree to make the soup. (Save a couple cooked florets to add to the soup bowls)
Then, next day, melt 3 TBSP butter in a large, heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Blend in 3 TBSP flour; add 2 cups milk, and 2 cups broth (chicken, beef or vegetable). Heat, stirring until mixture boils; turn heat to low.  Blend in the broccoli puree, and add 1 tsp salt and a dash of white pepper.

Optional: pinch each of cardamom* and mace or ¼ cup grated mild Cheddar or Gruyére.
Using the same proportions of butter, flour, liquid and puree – you can also use this same recipe for cauliflower, onions or leeks, or cabbage. For carrot or green pea soup, use only 2 TBSP Butter and 2 TBSP flour – adding 1 tsp grated orange rind, or 1 tsp of nutmeg for flavoring.  This soup lends itself to most any vegetable, or combination of vegetables, that can be pureed and can be enhanced with your favorite seasoning.

(*Sandy’s cooknote: Cardamom! If you don’t have this spice in your kitchen cupboard or the spice rack – you are missing out. Cardamom–per Spice Islands–enriches diverse cuisines from Indian to Scandinavia. Its exotic flavor complements sweet cookies, breads and pastries as well as savory meat stews and curries. One of my favorite ice-box cookie recipes is a cardamom cookie. And from Google: “Once considered one of the world’s most precious spices—reserved for holidays, weddings and other special occasions—cardamom is captivating a new generation of admirers. With a hint of clove, the spiciness of ginger, and overtones of vanilla and citron, cardamom can add layers of complex, subtle flavor to any dish…”)

I thought I’d close this with MY poem about soup.

A BOWL OF SOUP

What is as fine as a bowl of soup

In a tureen, carried hot to the table,

Or a beef stew simmered with veggies and meat,

As wondrous as an old Aesop fable;

I love noodle soup or a tomato bisque,

My chili falls into this category,

French onion soup with melted cheese,

Russian Borscht served in all its beet glory.

Mushroom soup! PepperPot!

Or a Consomme!

Won Ton Soup! Morel Soup!

Cream of Pea and crackers on a tray!

Black Bean Soup! Cabbage Soup!

Or a pot of New England Chowder!

(Not for me Manhattan style–

For that I’d have to take a powder!)

Perhaps some Mulligatawny Soup,

Or some Minestrone!

I’d even eat some Bouillabaisse,

As long as it’s not boney!

Bring me a bowl of Orleans gumbo, 

Or any soup that’s bold,

Or let us have gazpacho that’s

Always served up cold.

Serve me cream of celery soup!

Carrot soup with Curry!

Bring me soups that cook all day

But dish up in a hurry;

Serve me spicy peanut soup

Or turkey soup with rice–

I’d gladly eat green lentil soup

But meatball soup is also nice.

Soup for breakfast! Soup for lunch!

Soup for a late night supper;

Let me have a cup of soup,

For a pick-me-upper.

Let me have War Won-Ton Soup,

Or Tortilla soup that’s spicy,

Let me have a cockle soup

Or lobster bisque that’s pricey!

Serve me cock-a-leekie soup

Or Egg Drop soup from China,

Serve it fancy, serve it plain,

I’m never going to mind-a,

Soups can be hearty or else light -

Feed one or feed a troop -

I’ll never tire or get enough

Of delicious homemade soup.

–Sandra Lee Smith

Happy Cooking! Sandy

 

 

LET THEM EAT (MORE) SOUP

LET THEM EAT MORE (VEGETABLE) SOUP

(originally posted on my blog in 2009)

It started innocently with my sister requesting a recipe. I thought she said “pea soup” But I learned the next day, I misunderstood. She was making a vegetable soup.  I can’t imagine how I heard “pea” when she said “vegetable”.

While waiting for her to arrive at my place, I looked up, and copied a slew of pea soup recipes. She didn’t want pea, she wanted vegetable. Oh, well, I said. Who really needs a recipe for making vegetable soup?  You just toss whatever you have on hand into a pot, add water or some cans of vegetable broth – and voila! You have vegetable soup. Then, of course, I began searching through my soup files for vegetable soup recipes and, admittedly – there are a lot of varieties.

Then, today, I wanted to use up a lot of leftovers in the vegetable crisper so I decided to make chicken/vegetable/tortilla soup, I had some leftover chicken breasts, about half a head of cabbage, plenty of carrots and celery–I also had some slightly old flour tortillas that would work nicely in thin strips dried in the oven–and a package of taco seasoning mix for flavor. (My reasoning being: I am going on vacation in a week, and anything in the refrigerator that doesn’t get cooked, thrown out, or frozen – will be a soggy decayed mess when I get back).  My chicken/vegetable/tortilla soup has turned out very nicely.

What you do is, fill a bowl with soup; sprinkle on some dried tortilla strips, and top it off with a sprinkling of grated cheese. A slice of avocado is also nice if you happen to have some on hand. It was a nice variation of my sister Becky’s clean-out-the-refrigerator-soup.

But getting back to vegetable soup – vegetable beef, vegetable chicken, plain vegetable soup – there are a lot of recipes from which to choose  (My sister pointed out – I didn’t have a recipe for vegetable soup on my BLOG. MY BAD. Mea Culpa.  So, brace yourself because I am about to rectify that omission.

This first one from my card file is very old, written in real ink and the card has yellowed. (I collect old, filled recipe boxes so sometimes there’s no telling where some of my recipes came from. No directions are provided.  (Do you really need directions to make soup?)

To make this vegetable soup, you will need:

VEGETABLE SOUP

2 quarts quartered tomatoes

2 dozen medium carrots, sliced

2 quarts cut green beans

2 cups chopped celery

½ cup chopped parsley

1 small head cabbage, chopped

4 small onions, chopped

½ cup rice or barley

2 quarts hot water

meat

Sandy’s Cooknote: I suspect this recipe was for canning vegetable soup.  But in today’s world? Make it up and freeze it in batches suitable for your household. I absolutely love the Gladlock 2-quart rectangular plastic containers. Once you freeze the soup, pop it out of the plastic container and put it into a Ziplock bag, then label it with a black marker. At my house we call these “bricks”. (I trade my bricks to girlfriend MJ, in exchange for doing all my sewing and mending. I-do-not-sew.  It’s a satisfactory barter system. She doesn’t like to cook).

And when a recipe for vegetable soup just provides you with the innocuous direction of “meat” – you can use a pound or two of stewing meat, almost any kind of beef cut – but my favorite meat to add to any vegetable soup is a 7-bone or chuck roast, already cooked and presented in one meal – then the leftovers cut up and turned into soup. Leftover gravy from the roast and any leftover vegetables can also be added.

Here is another old recipe called SKINNY SOUP for the simple reason that it’s made up mostly of vegetables, some high fiber, with a little leftover turkey meat, chopped up – if you have it on hand. If not, leave it out. It will be fewer calories.

SKINNY SOUP

To make SKINNY SOUP, you will need:

3 stalks celery, diced

3 large carrots, diced

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

1 sweet onion, diced

½ head cabbage, sliced

½ pound fresh or frozen cauliflower cut up

2 medium potatoes, diced

1 cup frozen peas

3 cups water

2 cups leftover turkey meat, chopped (optional)

1 46-oz can tomato juice, preferably low sodium

2 TBSP fresh dill or 1 tsp dried

2 TBSP fresh basil or 1 tsp dried

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp ground pepper

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for topping (optional)

Prepare all vegetables. Use a large soup pot. Add all vegetables, turkey (if using), water, tomato juice and spices. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered 45 minutes to an hour or until vegetables reach your desired tenderness. Top with  Parmesan cheese when presenting in a soup bowl.  Makes 10 servings.

LISA’S THREE INGREDIENT VEGETABLE SOUP

This recipe was sent to me by Lisa, a penpal who lives in Ithaca, New York. To make Lisa’s Three Ingredient Vegetable soup, all you will need is:

1 16-OZ pkg Bird’s eye frozen mixed vegetables*

1 46-oz can tomato juice

1 3-oz pkg ramen oriental noodles with beef flavoring

Mix vegetables and tomato juice in a 5 quart pot. Heat to boiling. Add noodles and    flavor packet. Simmer 15 minutes; stirring occasionally.  8 servings.  What could be easier?

*Sandy’s cooknote: Canned or frozen mixed vegetables are my culinary best friend; I like to keep a lot of them on hand; they’re great in all kinds of soups and stews.

ALL NEW BASIC SOUP

To make ALL NEW BASIC SOUP, you will need:

5 medium carrots cut into 1” slices

3 medium celery stalks, sliced

3 large onions, chopped

1 large clove garlic, minced

2 cans (28 oz) tomatoes in juice

1 small head cabbage, sliced thin

2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1” slices*

2 pkgs (5 oz each) baby spinach leaves (or use 1 10-oz pkg chopped spinach

½ cup fresh parsley or ¼ cup dried parsley

2 chicken flavored bouillon cubes

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

12 cups water

Coat an 8-qt pot with Pam. Over medium-high heat, add carrots, celery, onions and garlic. Cook 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and their liquid, breaking up the tomatoes with a fork or side of a spoon. Add the cabbage, parsnips, bouillon  cubes, salt & pepper and water. Heat to boiling over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally until all vegetables are tender. Add more salt & pepper if desired. Makes about 25 cups.

*Sandy’s cooknote: I am not fond of parsnips. Ditto turnips. I would use a couple of medium size potatoes instead.

This next one is titled Mexican Vegetable Soup and appears to be a promotional recipe card from French’s since it called for an envelope of French’s Chili-O Mix.  Use a package of what ever chili seasoning mix you prefer.

To make MEXICAN VEGETABLE SOUP, you will need:

2 pounds beef soup meat plus soup bone (if you can find a soup bone nowadays! – back in the day, my childhood, you could get a soup bone from the butcher free)

2 TBSP salad oil

1 envelope chili seasoning mix

6 cups water

1 1-lb can tomatoes

1 can beef broth

1 1-lb can cream style corn

1 small summer squash, peeled and sliced

Cut meat in 1” cubes. Brown in oil in soup kettle or Dutch oven type pan. Add chili seasoning mix, water, tomatoes and broth; cover and simmer 1 ½ hours or until meat is tender. Add corn, carrots and squash; cover again and simmer 30 minutes. Remove soup bone. 6-8 servings.

Sandy’s cooknote: If you can’t lay your hands on a soup bone, don’t worry about it. Just leave it out. And if you don’t have any canned beef broth – dissolve 1 or 2 beef bouillon cubes in hot water and use that instead (TIP: Always keep chicken and beef bouillon cubes on hand!)

The following is a simple vegetable beef soup that is made with ¾ of a pound of extra lean ground beef. Three quarters of a pound? Why such an odd amount? I would use a pound of ground beef.  This recipe would be easy enough to throw together for a quick dinner – ready in an hour; serve with crackers or garlic bread.

VEGETABLE BEEF SOUP

To make VEGETABLE BEEF SOUP, you will need:

3 medium carrots, chopped

2 large potatoes, cut into small cubes

1 medium onion, chopped

3 ribs celery, with tops, chopped

½ tsp salt

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

About 3 cups shredded green cabbage (1/2 head)

¾ (or 1 lb) extra lean ground beef

1 quart tomato juice (low sodium if you are watching your salt)
dashes of Tabasco sauce (optional)

Combine carrots, potatoes, onion, celery, cabbage, ground beef (uncooked), salt and pepper in a large soup pot. Add enough water just to cover the vegetables and ground beef. Add tomato juice last and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer at least 1 hour. Meat should be cooked and vegetables tender. Stir soup occasionally to break up the ground beef. Add a few squirts of Tabasco sauce if you want to give it a little zing.

Makes 10 servings.

This next recipe contains uncooked broken spaghetti, which is a twist – but reminded me that my sister Becky, whenever she made her clean-out-the-refrigerator-soup, would chop up any leftover spaghetti and add it to the pot near the end of cooking time.

To make MULTI-VEGETABLE SOUP you will need:

2 TBSP butter or margarine

2 TBSP cooking oil

1 cup thinly sliced carrots

1 cup thinly sliced zucchini

1 cup thinly sliced celery

1 cup finely shredded cabbage

1 large onion, chopped

2 beef bouillon cubes

2 tsp salt

8 cups boiling water

1 tsp Accent (optional)

1 can (16 oz) stewed tomatoes

¼ cup uncooked broken spaghetti

½ tsp thyme

Heat the butter or margarine and oil in a pot.  Add carrots, zucchini, celery, cabbage and onion; cook uncovered abut 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the bouillon cubes, water, salt and Accent (if you are using it) to the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered, about 30 minutes.  Stir in the stewed tomatoes, spaghetti and thyme.  Cook 20 minutes.  Serve hot from a tureen. You can serve with a bowl of shredded parmesan cheese- personally, I like to have some hot garlic bread as an accompaniment.   Makes about 2 quarts soup.

This next recipe sounds like something someone created when the vegetable garden was overflowing.  You could make the soup with or without meat – if without, add a few beef bouillon cubes for flavoring.

To make GRANDMA’S HARVEST SOUP, you will need:

1 ½ pounds beef stew meat, trimmed and cubed

1 tbsp vegetable oil

10 medium fresh tomatoes, peeled and cut up

2 cups tomato juice

2 medium size onions, chopped

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

½ tsp pepper

2 tsp salt (optional)

6 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

5 carrots, cleaned and sliced

2 cups frozen or fresh corn

2 cups frozen or fresh green beans

2 cups frozen peas

3 ribs celery, sliced

1 cup sliced butternut squash

¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley (or 1/8 cup of dried)

1 tsp sugar

In a Dutch oven, brown meat in oil over medium high heat. Add tomatoes, tomato juice, onions, garlic, pepper and salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer 1 hour.

Now add potatoes, carrots, corn, green beans, peas, and celery. Cover and simmer an additional 30 minutes. Add squash and simmer 10-15 minutes more or until meat and vegetables are tender. Stir in parsley and sugar.  Makes 8-12 servings.

Sandy’s cooknote: Well, I think that’s enough of vegetable soup–it should give you something to work with. Don’t be afraid to use what you have on hand. And when you are chopping up celery or carrots (I like to have the Food Network on while I am puttering around in the kitchen), chop extra and freeze it in 1 cup portions in plastic ziplock sandwich bags–then when you are ready to make some soup, you already have some of the ingredients on hand and can just toss them into the pot. My sister Becky used to dump small amounts of leftover vegetables into a large plastic container and kept it in the freezer for making pots of soup.

appy Cooking!

WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU A LEMON

April is Lemon Month! Did you know that? I have been trying to verify that statement which I found on a Soup Plantation flyer but so far have been unable to confirm that any day or month is Lemon Month.  I found an interesting website on Google that lists all the days of the year and alongside it are the various foods for each date. No lemons. (there are some interesting foods listed for April—check www.tastespotting.com/features/aprilfood.

 But, if you were to find yourself marooned on a desert island and could only choose one fruit tree, you might give serious consideration to choosing a lemon tree.  Certainly lemons are one of the most versatile citrus fruits available to us today.

Here in Southern California we tend to take lemons for granted – I know I did when we lived in Arleta and had several lemon trees. And then Bob and I planted a Meyer lemon dwarf tree to add to our orchard!  Generally, if someone has a lemon tree or two, they are always trying to find someone who wants them.

It is thought that lemons were first discovered in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains, near the birthplace of Omar Khayyam, and that the Arabs who discovered them also were first to make lemonade.

There is some question as to when lemons were first brought to the New World. Food historians agree that the Spanish explorers were responsible for introducing lemons to the Americas; some historians believe that Columbus brought lemon seeds with him on his second voyage and that the first lemons grown in the New World were on the island of Haiti.

Florida was at one time the largest producer of lemons but a freeze in 1895 destroyed the crops and they were never replanted.  Today California is the greatest lemon-growing state, producing about 85% of the lemons consumed in the United States and Canada. Here in Southern California, the Land of Lemons is Ventura County, the largest grower of the county’s biggest crop. According to the University of California Extension Service in Ventura, about half of the U.S. lemons regularly come from Ventura county trees. The value of lemons in 1991 surpassed strawberries and even Valencia oranges.

Lemons are an excellent source of Vitamin C. The fruit and juice can be used in hundreds of recipes; the rind can be shredded and used in various recipes and the oil goes into making lemon flavored extract, while lemon juice can be substituted for vinegar in any recipe except pickling recipes which call for vinegar.  Not only that, lemon juice has dozens of household uses, from removing stains to being great as a hair rinse.

You are probably familiar with some of the more common uses of lemon juice, such as sprinkling it on fish or adding it to homemade cocktail sauce…a slice of lemon in a glass of cold water is simply delicious…and is considered to be an aid to digestion. While most of us know that lemons are a fine source of Vitamin C, not all of us are aware that, despite their acid taste, lemons produce an alkaline reaction in the body. They contribute to needed mineral supplies of calcium, phosphorous and potassium.

The best way to judge lemons is by their weight; heavy fruit contains the most juice. The skin should be oily and elastic.  Lemons with large knobs on the ends will have less juice than those with sharply pointed ends. Also, pay attention to the color of the lemons.  Deep yellow colored lemons are usually fairly mature and less acidic than those that are lighter or have a slightly greenish hue.  Four medium size lemons weigh about one pound, and one medium size lemon will usually yield about three tablespoons of juice.  For the highest juice yield, have lemons at room temperature and roll them on a hard surface before squeezing. You can also put a whole lemon into the microwave for a minute which will make it easier to juice. One medium lemon will yield three teaspoons of grated peel (which can be frozen and used as needed).  Five to six lemons will provide 1 cup (8 ounces) of lemon juice. Not only are lemons high in pectin and can be used with almost any other fruit to make jams and jellies, you can even make your own homemade pectin with lemons.  Making your own pectin IS time consuming, but if you make a lot of jelly and jam, it may be worth the effort…during my last visit to the supermarket, I priced some powdered pectins at close to $4.00 a box. Yikes!

If you are the fortunate owner of a lemon tree, you probably have more lemons than you know what to do with…I know, I had lemon trees and I was constantly giving lemons away. In addition to all the lemon pies, custards, pound cakes, cookies, sherbets, and mousses that you can concoct with lemons, you can also use them in a variety of pickling and preserving recipes. First, I’d like to share with you the following recipe for making

LEMON PECTIN EXTRACT:

Seeds and coarsely ground white pith of 5 to 6 large, thick-skinned lemons, about 1 1/2 pounds or the equivalent weight in smaller lemons,

3 tablespoons citric acid or tartaric acid (citric acid is made from citrus fruit and labeled sour salt; it can be found in the spice rack at most supermarkets…tartaric acid is made from grapes and is sold by wine supply shops)

6 quarts water

Using a swivel blade peeler, remove and discard the zest (the shiny yellow outer peel–save it for another use or freeze in a plastic container), from the lemons but do not cut deeply; the pectin is in the white pith beneath the zest. It won’t matter if the peeled fruit is tinged a pale yellow.  Squeeze the lemons, reserving seeds, pulp and pith. Save the juice for another use.  Grind the pulp and pith coarsely, and measure. You should have about 2 cups. Place this, the seeds, 1 tablespoon of citric or tartaric acid, and 2 quarts of water in a 4 quart saucepan.  Let stand, uncovered, at least 2 hours, then measure the depth of the pan’s contents and make a note of it. Bring the mixture to boil over medium heat, stirring often to prevent sticking.  Boil rapidly until it is reduced by half.  Stir often toward the end of the cooking period, which will take at least an hour or more.  When the depth measures half of the original figure, pour the extract through a strainer or colander lined with 4 thickness of damp cheesecloth of at least 2-quart capacity.  Return the pulp to the saucepan, add another tablespoon of either citric or tartaric acid, and 2 more quarts of water, and measure and cook as you did the first batch.  No presoaking is necessary for this or the third and final batch.  The second and third batches tend to reduce more rapidly than the first.  Strain each batch when done, into the first one.  When you strain the third batch, squeeze the pomace (pith) to extract as much liquid as possible.  Put the extract through a clean, dampened jelly bag or two thicknesses of dampened cheesecloth, without squeezing. Let it drip several hours, until you have 6 cups of cloud liquid.  If you plan to use it within the next few days, refrigerate the extract in clean, tightly covered jars.  To store for future use, bring the extract to a boil in a 1 1/2-quart saucepan, then pack, boiling hot, into sterilized half-pint jars and seal. Process in a boiling water bath 15 minutes.  Store as you would for jelly.  Before using, always shake or stir the extract to mix in the sediment that settles during storage.  Makes about 4 1/2 cups. You will need 4 to 6 tablespoons of  homemade lemon pectin for each cup of fruit mixture to be used in making jam or jelly.

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LEMON MARMALADE

12 THIN SKINNED LEMONS

3 ORANGES

3 QUARTS WATER

SUGAR

WASH AND SLICE THE LEMONS AND ORANGES AS THIN AS POSSIBLE.  ADD THE WATER AND LET STAND OVERNIGHT. NEXT DAY, COOK THE MIXTURE SLOWLY OVER LOW HEAT UNTIL TENDER (ABOUT 2 – 2 ½ HOURS). MEASURE, THEN ADD AN EQUAL AMOUNT OF SUGAR AND COOK UNTIL THE JELLYING POINT IS REACHED.  POUR INTO HOT STERILIZED HALF-PINT SIZE JARS AND SEAL.

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LEMON MARMALADE #2

9 LEMONS

6 CUPS WATER

SUGAR

Cut the “knobs” from the ends of the lemons and discard.  Slice fruit as thin as possible; place in a pot with 6 cups of cold water.  Let stand overnight. Next day, cook mixture until tender-about 25 minutes.  Allow to stand overnight.  Measure fruit and liquid and add 2 cups of sugar for each pint of fruit and liquid.  Cook in small batches of 2 – 2 ½ cups to jelly stage (about 10-15 minutes per batch). Pour into sterilized jars; seal.  Process in boiling water bath 10 minutes.

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LEMON  CHUTNEY (MAKES 4 TO 5 PINTS)

6 LEMONS, PEELED

1 CUP ORANGE MARMALADE

1 CUP CIDER VINEGAR

2 1/2 CUPS WATER

3 CUPS SUGAR

1 TSP GRATED FRESH GINGERROOT

1 TSP GROUND NUTMEG

2 GREEN APPLES, PEELED, CORED, AND DICED

4 CUPS FRESH CRANBERRIES

1 CUP RAISINS

SECTION LEMONS AND CUT SECTIONS IN HALF; DISCARD SEEDS.  IN A LARGE POT, COMBINE LEMON SECTIONS WITH REMAINING INGREDIENTS.  BRING TO A BOIL, STIRRING CONSTANTLY. REDUCE HEAT AND SIMMER 45 MINUTES OR UNTIL SLIGHTLY THICKENED.  POUR INTO HOT STERILIZED JARS.  ADJUST LIDS AND SEAL. PROCESS IN A BOILING WATER BATH 8 MINUTES.

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SHARP LEMON SAUCE

(This sauce is very sharp and may not be right for everyone on your gift list – those who enjoy sharp flavored foods will love it!)

12 medium size lemons

3 tablespoons mustard seed

1 tablespoon tumeric

1 tablespoon ground white pepper

1 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

1 teaspoon ground mace

3 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

Grind rind from lemons; squeeze juice.  Place rind and juice in a heavy pan along with remaining ingredients and allow to stand for 2 hours.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and simmer gently for 30 minutes.  Pour into a 2-quart crock or glass jar with a tight fitting lid and allow to stand 2 weeks, stirring daily.  At the end of two weeks, whirl in blender until smooth.  Fill hot sterilized jars with the mixture and seal; process in a boiling water bath 10 minutes.  (Serve as a condiment with fish or seafood).

MOROCCAN PRESERVED LEMONS

(Preserved lemons are often used in North African cooking; they’ll add a salty tartness to chicken, lamb, and vegetable dishes. Be sure to cover the lemons completely with salted lemon juice before sealing the jar.  The pickling juice can be reused and is handy to keep in a jar in the kitchen; replenish it with odd pieces of lemon.)

5 lemons

1/3 cup salt, – more if desired

1 cinnamon stick

3 cloves

5-6 coriander seeds

3-4 black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

freshly squeezed lemon juice

Quarter the lemons from top to bottom to within 1/2″ of the bottom; sprinkle salt on the exposed flesh, then reshape the fruit.  Place 1 tablespoon salt in the bottom of a sterilized 1 pint canning jar.  Place in the lemons and push them down, adding more salt and the spices between the layers. Press the lemons down to release their juices and to make room for the remaining lemons.  If the juices released by the lemons does not cover them, add freshly squeezed lemon juice – NOT commercial lemon juice and NOT water). Leave some airspace before sealing the jar. Turn the jar upside-down to distribute the salt and juice and then let the lemons ripen in a warm place for 30 days.  To use, rinse the lemons as needed under running water, removing and discarding pulp if desired.  There is no need to refrigerate preserved lemons after opening.  They will keep up to a year and the pickling juice can be used several times during the course of a year.

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PICKLED LEMONS

12 LEMONS

2 TABLESPOONS NON-IODIZED SALT

3 1/2 CUPS WHITE WINE VINEGAR

12 WHITE PEPPERCORNS

A LARGE PIECE OF DRIED GINGERROOT, MASHED

3 TABLESPOONS WHITE MUSTARD SEEDS

2 GARLIC CLOVES, CRUSHED

Using a sharp knife, cut skins of lemons lengthwise without cutting pulp.  Rub salt into cuts. In a shallow bowl, let lemons stand 5 days in a cool place.  Turn lemons occasionally.  Drain; reserve liquid.  In a large saucepan, bring reserved liquid, vinegar, peppercorns and ginger to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes.  Add lemons;  simmer 30 minutes.  Wash and sterilize 5 half-pint jars; keep hot until needed.  Using a slotted spoon, pack hot lemons in hot jars.  Add mustard seed and garlic to liquid.  Increase heat; bring to a boil.  Remove ginger; skim off foam.  Ladle hot liquid over lemons.  Wipe rim of jars with a clean cloth; seal; process in boiling water bath 5 minutes.  Let mature 1 month before serving.

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LEMON MARMALADE #3

6 LEMONS

1/8 TEASPOON BAKING SODA

1 1/2 CUPS WATER

5 CUPS SUGAR

1 POUCH LIQUID PECTIN

Remove peel from lemons and discard white membrane.  Cut peel into slivers. Section lemons, remove  seeds, and chop pulp.  Set aside. Combine peel, baking soda and water in a large microwave safe bowl.  Cover and microwave on HIGH until mixture boils, about 6 or 7 minutes.

Remove from microwave oven and stir in sugar and reserved fruit.  Return to microwave, uncovered, and microwave on HIGH until mix returns to a boil, about 18 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Boil at least 1 minute. Remove from oven and stir in liquid pectin.  Skim off foam.  Let rest 5 minutes, occasionally stirring gently to distribute fruit. Carefully ladle into hot sterilized jars; seal. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.  Makes 3 12-oz jars.

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LEMON GINGER MARMALADE

1 POUND LEMONS

3 SLICES FRESH GINGER

WATER

3 1/2 CUPS SUGAR

DAY 1: QUARTER LEMONS LENGTHWISE. REMOVE SEEDS, SLICE THIN, LEAVING PEEL INTACT. MEASURE LEMON PIECES AND GINGER SLICES AND COVER WITH AN EQUAL AMOUNT OF WATER IN A MIXING BOWL.  LET STAND OVERNIGHT AT ROOM TEMP.

DAY 2: BRING LEMON MIX TO A BOIL IN A HEAVY 4-QT STAINLESS STEEL POT. REDUCE HEAT TO A SIMMER & COOK FOR 15 MINUTES.  COOL TO ROOM TEMP AND LET STAND OVERNIGHT AGAIN.

DAY 3:  MEASURE THE MARMALADE BASE. ADD AN EQUAL AMOUNT OF SUGAR AND WARM THE SUGAR IN THE OVEN AT 250 DEGREES FOR 10 MINUTES. ADD SUGAR 1/2 CUP AT A TIME, ALLOWING MIX TO RETURN TO BOIL BEFORE ADDING MORE. CONTINUE COOKING UNTIL MIX COMES TO JELLYING POINT, WHICH IS 8 DEGREES ABOVE THE BOILING TEMPERATURE ON YOUR CANDY THERMOMETER. THIS WILL HAPPEN WITHIN 10 MINUTES.  REMOVE FROM HEAT; SKIM OFF FOAM. LET STAND 5 MINUTES. STIR, THEN POUR INTO HOT, STERILIZED JELLY JARS TO WITHIN 1/2″ OF TOPS. SEAL, PROCESS IN A BOILING WATER BATH 5 MINUTES.

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There are numerous recipes for making Lemon Curd.  Don’t be discouraged by the name–Lemon Curd is very much like lemon pie filling with bits of peel; it’s delicious and can be spooned onto cakes or used as a dessert topping, or as a filling for tarts.  None of the recipes in my collection call for processing the Lemon Curd in a canner – however; even though it requires refrigeration, it will keep for months if properly refrigerated. Be sure to use a double boiler when you make lemon curd–the eggs will curdle over direct heat. I use a large stainless mixing bowl that goes with my Kitchen Aid mixer and place this over a pot of simmering water.

ENGLISH LEMON CURD

1/4 CUP BUTTER

1/2 CUP HONEY

1/2 CUP LEMON JUICE

1 EGG

2 EGG YOLKS

GRATED ZEST OF 1 LEMON

Melt butter in top of double boiler set over simmering water.  Stir in the honey and cook for a moment, then add the lemon juice.  Beat together the egg and egg yolks; stir them into the lemon mixture, continuing the cook and stir until the mixture thickens, which may take as long as 10 minutes (it will thicken more as it cools).  Add the lemon zest.  Pour into a pint size jar and cover.  Keep refrigerated.

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This next Lemon Curd recipe is, in all honesty, my favorite of the Curd recipes.  I think all the lemon peel gives it a wonderful flavor.  If you have a lemon tree in your back yard–as I do–and find yourself with more lemons than you know what to do with, try making up a few batches of this Lemon Curd.  Accompanied by a small loaf of lemon bread, it makes a wonderful homemade gift for someone special!

LEMON CURD #2

4 LEMONS

2 CUPS GRANULATED SUGAR

5 EGGS

1 STICK (4 OZ) BUTTER (don’t substitute)

Scrub lemons; grate the lemon rinds finely.  Cut the fruit in half and squeeze out the juice. (Note: 1 good size lemon should produce about 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, or a total of 12 tablespoons of lemon juice for this recipe). Place the rind in a bowl with the juice, sugar, beaten eggs and butter cut into small pieces.  Place the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water, making sure that it does not actually touch the water.  Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it begins to thicken.  Pour into warmed jars and cover.  Keep refrigerated.

Hint:  You can make orange curd using 4 oranges, or grapefruit curd, using 3 grapefruit, or even tangerine curd, using 10 tangerines and the juice of 2 lemons.

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LEMON HONEY JELLY

3/4 CUP LEMON JUICE

2 1/2 CUPS HONEY

1/2 CUP LIQUID PECTIN

Combine lemon juice and honey. Bring to a full rolling boil.  Add pectin, stirring vigorously.  Boil about 2 minutes.  Pour into hot sterilized jars.  Seal.

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LIGHT LEMON MINCEMEAT

This recipe comes to us by way of Canada. It can be used as a pie or tart filling or used to fill homemade cookies.  You can pour it into sterilized jars and attach to it a card with suggestions for using mincemeat.

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 cup raisins, blanched, drained and chopped

3 1/2 cups apples, peeled, cored and chopped  (4-5 apples)

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1/2 cup lemon marmalade

2 cups white or brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground ginger

2 tablespoons dark rum

Combine all ingredients.  Spoon into sterilized jars, label and store.

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FRESH LEMON EXTRACT

2 TEASPOONS GRATED LEMON ZEST

1/2 PINT VODKA

MIX, LET STAND 4 WEEKS, SHAKING THE JAR OCCASIONALLY.

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LEMON MINT JELLY

1 1/2 CUPS FRESH LEMON JUICE, STRAINED

1 1/2 CUPS WATER

1 1/2 TEASPOONS MINT EXTRACT

1 PACKAGE POWDERED PECTIN

4 1/2 CUPS SUGAR

Combine lemon juice, water and mint extract in a medium size pot. Stir in pectin; bring to a rolling boil over high heat.  Add sugar and return to rolling boil.  Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat; skim off foam if necessary.  Pour into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Seal; process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.  Makes about 4 half pints.

The following recipe is from a very old regional cookbook published in 1874…but syrups are very basic and easy to make.

LEMON SYRUP:

1 1/2 LBS of granulated sugar for each pint of lemon juice.

Add some of the peel, cut into slivers. Boil all together for 10 minutes, then strain, bottle and seal with a cork or a tight fitting lid.  Mix lemon syrup with iced water to make lemonade.

Yum!

Happy Cooking! Sandy