Monday, November 26, 2007

"Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland" & "Sunset Fresh Ways With Salads" & "Perfect Chocolate Desserts" (Willan) - pot pie, salad, dessert

Date my husband made these recipes: November 23, 2007

Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland by Beth Dooley and Lucia Watson
Published by: Alfred A. Knopf
ISBN: 0-679-41175-5
Recipe: Chicken (or Turkey) Pot Pie with Biscuit Crust – p. 170-171

Sunset Fresh Ways with Salads as Side Dishes or Main Courses by the Editors of Sunset Books and Sunset Magazine
Published by: Lane Publishing Co.
ISBN: 0-376-02608-1
Gorgonzola, Apple & Walnut Salad – p. 9

Perfect Chocolate Desserts by Anne Willan
Published by: DK Publishing Inc.
ISBN: 0-7894-1671-9
Chocolate Crème Brulee – p. 58-59

No, I have not turned over my kitchen to my spouse. It’s just that our schedule changed with the unexpected stay-over of my brother and sister-in-law (see the Canadian Bacon Egg Casserole blog posting) and with everything going on, my husband volunteered to make dinner that night. Because he’s the pie guy, he also makes the fabulous biscuit crust that goes on top of the chicken pot pie and so what the heck, he might as well do the entire thing.

I mentioned in the pie blog posting that there are only two cookbooks that we keep in our kitchen. One is the Sunset Pie & Pastries Cookbook and the other is my absolute favorite out of all 800 (and counting!) cookbooks: Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland by Beth Dooley and Lucia Watson. (I just refer to it as Savoring the Seasons but that only gives you part of the gist of what this book is about).

Lucia Watson is to food in the heartland the way Alice Waters is to food in California. Both use fresh ingredients, both change their menus constantly and both figured out this “buy locally” concept well before it became popular nation-wide.

When Lucia opened her own restaurant in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis, she turned the restaurant industry on its ear. The place was and still is packed. The food is just so unbelievably good that if one had the money one could just eat well by dining there all the time.

And then, God bless her, she and Beth Dooley published a cookbook. Mine happens to be a first edition and I love it so much that it has the aforementioned place of honor in my kitchen. It is spattered, it is stained, it is crumpled and it was autographed by Lucia when she did a book signing in conjunction with the promotion of the 1999-2000 Minneapolis -St. Paul Restaurants Zagat Survey. I tell you what, I gushed!

But my connection with Lucia didn’t end there. Lucia ordered her prosciutto from the Italian deli I was managing at the time and so every couple of days or so, she called in her order and often came to pick it up in person. She was always very pleasant and I enjoyed talking to her but nothing cemented our relationship like the Rhubarb-Sour Cream Cake Incident of 2000.

After a friend gave me and my husband a boatload of rhubarb, I decided to make the Rhubarb-Sour Cream Cake, found on p. 333 of the cookbook. Everything went well with the making of it but when I bit into it, the cake was soggy. Very soggy. Hmmm….well, that was disappointing.

So I did what any of us would do, right? I called and asked Lucia what went wrong. Now I didn’t really think I’d get Lucia herself because she was busy cooking food that was out of this world, but danged if she didn’t answer the phone. So I told her the problem and she said she’d have her pastry chef get back to me. “Yeah, right,” I thought.

Well, sure enough, the pastry chef called me back. And we went over the recipe step by step but the only thing we could think of was that perhaps my dry ingredients were past their prime but otherwise, it was a head-scratcher. But did I care? Heck no. I just turned my attention to other recipes in the book! (I’m no quitter).

So to date, here’s what I’ve made:

Chicken in Gin with Juniper – p. 70
Porketta (Garlic-Fennel Pork Roast) – p. 108-109 (one of our favorites)
Pork Loin with Apples and Cider Sauce – p. 110-111
Beef, Wild Rice and Winter Vegetable Soup – p. 146
Mrs. Macine’s Brownies – p. 314
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars – p. 317
Rhubarb-Sour Cream Cake – p. 333

And our number one favorite and this year’s featured item during our post-Thanksgiving Dinner: Chicken (or Turkey) Pot Pie with Biscuit Crust.

People, I’m here to tell you that there is nothing more comforting than Lucia’s Chicken Pot Pie. We’ve made this recipe over and over and over again and it never disappoints. Neither does Lucia’s restaurant. If you haven’t been to Minneapolis before now, then get thee on a plane, train or automobile and make your dinner reservation now!! And if you live here and haven’t been yet, what are you waiting for??? Here, let me help you:

And although we could survive on Lucia’s Pot Pie alone, we needed to at least provide our guests with a couple other items and so we made a Gorgonzola, Apple & Walnut Salad from yet another Sunset Book - Fresh Ways with Salads - and then finished off our meal with a kick-butt Chocolate Crème Brulee from Anne Willan’s Perfect Chocolate Desserts Cookbook. The later book was given to us by my brother and sister-in-law as a gift one year so we thought it was appropriate that we make something from it while they were here.

Chicken (or Turkey) Pot Pie with Biscuit Crust – serves 6 to 8 (unless you’re us in which case, two, maybe three servings. Of course, this all depends on how you define “servings!”)

3 cups homemade Chicken Stock or low-salt canned broth
1 pound chicken or turkey breast or 2 ½ cups diced cooked chicken or turkey meat
3 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
½ stick (4 tablespoons) butter
1 cup peeled, chopped onions
4 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup whole milk
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ cup peas
¼ cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
Salt and pepper to taste

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ stick (4 tablespoons) butter, cut into bits
1/3 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 egg
½ cup buttermilk
Egg wash (1 egg yolk combined with 1 tablespoon milk to brush over top of crust)

To make the filling, bring the stock to a low simmer in a large stockpot. Add the chicken or turkey breast and poach the meat on low (never allowing the water to boil) for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the meat is no longer pink when cut. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside. Add the carrots, potatoes, and celery, and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Dice the meat. Drain and reserve the stock and set the vegetables aside.

Melt the butter in a deep skillet and cook the chopped onions, stirring over medium heat until they are soft, then sprinkle in the flour and cook some more, stirring, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the milk and 2 cups of the chicken stock in a stream, stirring, and bring to a boil. Add the thyme and nutmeg, and cook about 5 minutes—the mixture should be thick. Add the peas and carrots, potatoes, and celery to the pot and stir to combine. Turn the mixture into a casserole dish or deep pie tin and make the crust. (This dish may also be made in individual pies. Use single serving ramekins and shorten the cooking time to 15 minutes).

To make the crust, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the butter until the dough resembles coarse meal, then toss in the grated cheese. Whisk the egg with the buttermilk. Add to the flour mixture and gently stir to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured board and pat it into a large round. Cut the dough into 2 ½-inch circles.

Place the biscuits on top of the chicken filling and brush with the egg wash. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Gorgonzola, Apple & Walnut Salad – serves 6 to 8
Gingered Walnuts (recipe follows)
¼ each walnut oil and salad oil
2 tablespoons each white wine vinegar and lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
Dash of white pepper
2 large tart green apples
1 head romaine or green leaf lettuce, washed and crisped
3 ounces (about 2/3 cup) crumbed Gorgonzola or other blue-veined cheese

Gingered Walnuts
1 tablespoon salad oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup walnut halves

To make the gingered walnuts:
Pour 1 tablespoon salad oil into an 8-inch square baking pan. Place pan in oven; preheat to 250. When oven is hot, remove pan and stir in soy sauce, ginger, salt and garlic powder. Add the walnuts, stirring to coat with oil mixture. Spread nuts in a single layer. Bake, stirring occasionally, until nuts are crisp and browned (about 30 minutes). Let cool on paper towels. If made ahead, store nuts in an airtight container at room temperature for u to 1 week. Makes about 1 cup.

To make the salad:
In a medium-size bowl, combine oils, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper; mix until well blended then set aside.

Just before serving, core and thinly slice apples. Tear lettuce into bite-sized pieces (you should have about 3 quarts). In a salad bowl, combine lettuce and apples. Mix dressing again then pour over salad and mix lightly until well coated. Sprinkle salad with walnuts and cheese. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Crème Brulee – serves 4
So…nothing says Thanksgiving like chocolate, no?! Since we made a pot pie for our non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner, we didn’t want to follow up with a dessert involving pie dough or biscuit dough so we turned our attention to chocolate.

This recipe was so good and so rich that I actually couldn’t finish it. The best thing about this recipe is its simplicity: chocolate, cream, eggs and sugar are all that are needed to impress your friends (and expand your waistline!).

6 oz semisweet chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
4 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

On a cutting board, with a chef’s knife, cut chocolate into small chunks. If you do this on a warm day, chill the chocolate first. Also note that the cutting board must be dry as moisture can affect melting. You can also chop the chocolate in a food processor but be sure you don’t overuse that pulse button or you’ll have a mess on your hands.

Get out your heavy-based saucepan and heat the chocolate and cream, stirring with a wooden spoon, until melted and smooth. Bring just to a boil. Let cool slightly.

Put the egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk together until just mixed. Pour the chocolate cream slowly into the egg yolks, whisking constantly until evenly mixed.

Strain the chocolate cream through the large strainer to remove any bits of cooked egg yolk. Anne recommends resting the strainer on the rim of another bowl.

Carefully ladle the chocolate cream into the ramekins, dividing it equally among them.

Fold a dish towel and put it on the bottom of a roasting pan. Set the ramekins on the towel then pour in cold water to come just over halfway up the sides of the dishes.

Bake the chocolate creams in the oven until a think skin forms on top, 10-15 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan. Chill the chocolate creams in the refrigerator at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.

To caramelize the chocolate creams:

Heat the broiler. Sprinkle each chocolate cream evenly with sugar, using a small strainer, to form a think even layer. Be sure to wipe off any sugar from the edges of the dishes because it will burn under the broiler.

Half fill the roasting pan with cold water and ice, and set the ramekins in it. Broil the chocolate creams as close as possible to the heat until the sugar melts and caramelizes, 2-3 minutes. Let cool a few minutes so the caramel forms a crisp layer.

NOTE: This is the first time I’ve heard of putting ramekins in an ice bath. My husband usually does the caramelizing and uses either a blow torch or a kitchen torch to do the job. In order to get a very thin, crisp crusty top, he recommends lightly sprinkling the ramekins with sugar and then dumping out the excess so you don’t over-torch the things!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

"Cooking at a Glance - Pies and Pastries" & Sunset Pies & Pastries" - Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie and Deep-dish Cherry Pie

Date my husband made these recipes: November 22, 2007 (Thanksgiving Day)

Cooking at a Glance – Pies & Pastries by the authors of the Cooking at a Glance series
Published by: Fog City Press
ISBN: 1-892374-49-8
Recipe: Apple-Butter Pumpkin Pie – p. 28

Sunset Pies & Pastries by the Editors of Sunset Books and Sunset Magazine
Published by: Lane Publishing Co.
Recipe: Deep-dish Cherry Pie – p. 23 (Note: the recipe on that page is for Deep-dish Blueberry Pie; he substituted cherry, the instructions for which are found on the same page in the lower-right corner)

Note: He used the same pie crust, Flaky Pastry (p. 7 of the Sunset Book) for both recipes

Around here, my husband is known as The Pie Guy. He has a way with crusts that I just never took the time to develop. So when we got together with his family later in the day on Thanksgiving, he provided the pies. My poor brother and sister-in-law (see earlier blog) were exhausted and so passed on coming out to his mom’s with us.

Although I have over 800 cookbooks, only two reside full-time in my kitchen. This book is one of them. My husband has made so many pies for this book that we should be running a test kitchen operation for their next pie cookbook update!

Flaky Pastry (yields one 9” single crust)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening or lard –or- ¼ cup solid vegetable shortening plus 2 tablespoons butter
3-4 tablespoons cold water

Flaky Pastry (yields a 9” double crust or 10” single crust—the cherry pie used a 9” double crust)
2 ¼ cups flour
½ teaspoons salt
¾ cup solid vegetable shortening or lard – or – ½ cup solid vegetable shortening plus ¼ cup butter
6-8 tablespoons

Apple Butter-Pumpkin Pie – serves 8
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup apple butter (note: my husband substituted 1 cup of pear-amaretto jelly that we had in the cupboard and it was very tasty!)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
3 eggs
1 5-ounce can evaporated milk (2/3 cup)
½ cup milk
Pasty for a single-crust or double-crust pie

In a large mixing bowl combine pumpkin, apple butter, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Add eggs; beat lightly with a rotary beater or wire whisk until combined. Gradually stir in evaporated milk and milk; mix well.

Prepare and roll out pastry as directed. Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry. Trim and crimp a high pastry edge or attach leaf-shaped cutouts. Pour pumpkin mixture into pastry shell. To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pie with foil. Bake in a preheated 375 oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake about 25 minutes more, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 1 hour. Chill 3 to 6 hours before serving. Store in the refrigerator. If desired, serve with whipped cream (“If desired?” Come on people, it was Thanksgiving. Of course we served it with whipped cream!)

Deep-dish Cherry Pie (serves 4 to 6)
4 cups cherries (do not use cherries in heavy syrup)
¾ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Flaky Pastry for a single 9” pie)
1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1 to 2 tablespoons butter or margarine

Preheat over to 450. Rinse and drain cherries and place in a large bowl. Add sugar, cornstarch, lemon peel, almond extract, salt, and lemon juice; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Cover mixture and set aside.

On a lightly floured board, roll out pastry to about 2 inches wider and longer than a 1-quarter rimmed baking dish. Measure width of dish rim; then gently invert dish onto dough. Rest blade of a sharp knife against the dish then cut around the edge of the dish. Measuring out from the outline just made, cut a ring of dough the width of the dish rim. Remove excess dough and lift off dish.

Spoon cherry mixture into the dish. Cut vents in top crust; cut through outer ring of dough at both ends. Carefully fit each half of dough ring onto rim, overlapping ends slightly; cut off excess. Brush egg mixture over dough ring.

Dot filling with butter. Lift top crust onto dish, lining up edges of crust and dough rim; press gently together.

Dip a 4-tined fork into egg mixture then firmly press dough rim and top crust together with fork tines, positioning fork so each new set of lines partially overlaps the preceding set. Brush top with egg mixture. If you use a cookie cutter to make vents, brush backs of pastry cutouts with egg mixture; place cutouts on crust and brush again with egg mixture.

Place a baking sheet on the lowest oven rack to catch drips. Bake pie for 10 minutes then reduce oven heat to 350 and bake until pastry is browned (about 30 more minutes). Place pie on a rack and let cool fo4 15 minutes; spoon into individual bowls.

"Celebrate Gonzaga (High School) - Gonzaga Mothers Club Cookbook" - Canadian Bacon Egg Casserole and Berry Stuffed French Toast

Date I made this recipe: November 22, 2007 (Thanksgiving Day)

Celebrate Gonzaga – Gonzaga Mothers Club Cookbook by the Gonzaga Mothers Club
Published by: Morris Press Cookbooks
© 2003

Recipes: Canadian Bacon Egg Casserole – p. 12 (submitted by Liz Yackee) and Berry Stuffed French Toast – p. 15 (Submitted by Chris McLaughlin, GMC President, ’95-’96)

Just wait until you see how I tie this whole “how I came to select this cookbook” story together. Ready?

My Aunt Rose and I share of love of cookbooks, such that I frequently send her copies of some of the favorites in my collection. This year for her birthday, for example, I sent her Life Is Meals by James and Kay Salter, that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I also print out and send her copies of my blog entries as she doesn’t have a computer. In turn, she put them into a three-ring binder so that she has her own, unique cookbook of my blog recipes.

So anyway, I think it was last year when my aunt sent me a cookbook in return. Turns out her neighbor’s grandson attended Gonzaga College High School (the “oldest school in the old federal city of Washington”) and the school put out this cookbook. When my aunt’s neighbor heard I collected cookbooks, she gave this book to my aunt to send to me and so that’s how I came to have it.

But it doesn’t stop there. My mom and dad as well as my brother and sister-in-law, were supposed to come to Minneapolis for Thanksgiving this year. But my poor mom fell and had to have a partial hip replacement. Come Thanksgiving, she was recuperating in a convalescent home in my home town instead of being down here visiting me in the Twin Cities. But my brother and sister-in-law still planned to come into town…with one catch. Instead of staying with me for two days and then spending two days with her brother’s family (they live in a small town about an hour from the Twin Cities) as originally planned, they were going to fly in to Minneapolis at 8 a.m. on Turkey Day, then fly up to my folks at 2 p.m., spend the rest of Thursday and Friday there and then fly back into town to have a belated Thanksgiving with us.

This tight schedule meant that having a Thanksgiving dinner with us on Thursday was out of the question but brunch was not. And so I planned brunch. And when I did so, I pulled this book off the shelf, not only because my Aunt Rose gave it to me but because Aunt Rose is also my brother’s godmother. And so it seemed fitting to tie the whole thing together and select some recipes from the book.

Notice I said recipes. I know that when I first started this blog, I said “one book, one recipe per book” but hey, it’s Thanksgiving and it’s an “emergency” of sorts and so I bent the rules. I can do that—it’s my blog.

As if we weren’t having enough fun with the schedule, the Packers were playing the Lions at 11:30 in the annual T-day battle. While we had enough time to get them from the airport to watch the kickoff, their 1:55 flight to Michigan meant we’d have to skip part of the game. As my mother would have said if she were here, “Oh prunes.” (Note: no prunes were harmed in the making of the recipes but some berries gave it up for our wonderful feast!)

“Oh prunes” indeed. Flying on a holiday is often fraught with problems and this day was no exception. Their flight to visit my folks involved them flying from Minneapolis to Chicago and then Chicago to Marquette, Michigan where my dad would pick them up and drive them to my hometown, forty-five minutes away. But the flight from Minneapolis to Chicago was delayed for three hours leaving them no time to make their connection to Michigan. The airlines could get them as far as Green Bay but that’s three hours away from Marquette and there was not a rental car to be had on Thanksgiving.

Ever resourceful, they checked into renting a car one-way but that was a little cost prohibitive (as in the low, low price of $561 and some change). So that option was out. They could have used one of our cars to drive to my parents but it’s a seven hour car ride. And so, dear reader, after exhausting all options, they ended up spending the next two nights with us and the following two nights with my sister-in-law’s family as planned. But a big shout-out to a reservation agent named Oz (I’m not kidding) at the airlines for attempting to get them there. He must have been on the phone with my sister-in-law for an hour trying to figure out how to deliver them unto my parents with enough time to at least say hello before returning to Minneapolis but alas, to no avail. We’re all planning to go to my parents for Christmas, this time by car. No fools, us…..

But I digress from talking about the recipes. Both of these were absolute winners and let me just say that the four of us took these puppies down in one fell swoop. We barely had any leftovers (although we made a half recipe of the French toast). We were appropriately fueled and ready to cheer our Packers onto victory although we watched the game in between stints on the phone and the internet trying to get the travel problem resolved.

So thanks all around to Oz at the airlines and the Packers and to my Aunt Rose and to her friend who gave me the cookbook for the bountiful food we ate this Thanksgiving Day!

Canadian Bacon Egg Casserole (serving size not noted)
4 slices French bread, cubed
1 lb. Canadian bacon, diced
8 eggs, beaten
¾ c. cheddar cheese, shredded
¾ c. Monteray Jack cheese, shredded
1 ½ tablespoon Lem’nDill seasoning
4 potatoes, cooked, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

And now, a word about Lem’nDill seasoning. We scoured our grocery store for this stuff to no avail. An internet search seemed to indicate that this seasoning was only available by mail order and gee, discovering this on Wednesday night when the next day is the holiday is really bad timing. And so I improvised. We had lemon pepper on hand as well as dill and so I mixed the two together and voila, we had ourselves something resembling Lem’nDill seasoning.

Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Layer bread and potatoes in bottom of prepared pan. Add Canadian bacon. Pour eggs over all. Top with cheese and seasoning. Cover and refrigerate over night. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until eggs are set. Cool 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Berry Stuffed French Toast (serves 9-12)
12 slices sourdough French bread, or challah bread
1 cup of your choice of berries, fresh or frozen (we used frozen mixed berries)
8 oz (or less) low fat cream cheese
¼ cup maple syrup
10 eggs
2 cups low fat milk

Berry sauce
1 T. cornstarch
1 c. water
1 c. sugar
1 c. berries, fresh or frozen
1 T. butter

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"Cooking with Cornelius - The Corning Cookbook" - Marinated Pork Roast

Date I made this recipe: November 12, 2007

Cooking with Cornelius – The Corning Cookbook by Cornelius O’Donnell
Published by: Random House
© 1982
Recipe: Marinated Pork Roast – p. 46

If you grew up in the 60’s and 70’s like I did, it’s entirely possible that a good portion of your mother’s cookware was produced by Corning Glass Works. The amazing thing is that she still has it after all these years—all those white and blue cornflower cooking pieces with nary a scratch on them. My mother was positively vigilant about keeping the white cookware surfaces white whereas I’m lucky if I notice my favorite coffee cup is getting a little stained. Such devotion to cookware maintenance is to be admired.

Although I have no idea if the author of this cookbook, Cornelius O’Donnell was devoted to sparkling white cookware, my guess is that he was devoted to the company being that he was a spokesperson for Corning’s Consumer Products Division. But beyond what is written in the Introduction, not much is known about Cornelius. I tried to Google him and only got links to booksellers who are selling copies of the book—not exactly helpful seeing as how I already have the book.

And so I went to Corning’s website fully expecting to see something about Cornelius pop up but nothing did. Instead, what came up when I accessed the website gave me one of the biggest letdowns in my life, right along with finding out that Santa was mom and dad. People, the cookware had all but disappeared, replaced instead by glass products in the form of display technologies, environmental technologies (“leading solutions for emissions controls challenges”—what does that have to do with cookware?) and cable systems. What the ???!

And so I dug a little deeper and found out that CorningWare is a registered trademark of Corning International used under license by World Kitchen, LLC. But alas, even World Kitchen does not carry my beloved Blue Cornflower pattern. For that, I’m going to have to either raid my mom’s kitchen or hit eBay or some other source for “antique” cookware. As if I don’t feel old enough already….

And so that’s all I know about Cornelius and Corning and World Kitchen and as you can see, it’s very little. But I do know a little about cooking pork and let’s just say that when all else fails, use a meat thermometer. (Hmmm….wonder if Corning makes that product?!)

This recipe for Marinated Pork Roast was really easy but only somewhat tasty. I think the problem is that the recipe was written at a time when people like my mother cooked the heck out of pork lest we all get sick and die (dying from food poisoning was probably my mother’s biggest fear, such that she rub-a-dub-dubbed every cutting board within a mile of her kitchen with Comet. She also cleaned the dishes within an inch of their life before putting them in the dishwasher, something that challenged the rest of us when deciding whether to empty it or run it.). So anyway, the recipe said to roast the meat for 1 ¼ hours at 350. I think that was a bit too long. I also think I might have blown it on the internal temperature.

Only modern cookbooks contain instructions to roast to a certain temperature level and rather than hit some of my new books, I Googled “pork roasting temperatures” to see what I should be looking for. Most sites I checked said 160 which I believe is too high. The meat wasn’t overcooked but it bordered on it. When I first checked it, it read 140 and so I let it rest until it hit 160 (my mother’s voice was in my ear the entire time) but you might want to play with it a bit. Of course, many of you might like your pork to look safe to eat when pulled from the oven in which case 1 ¼ hours at 350 will be just fine. (By the way, my roast size was 2.5 pounds).

As to the marinade, it was really good and really fragrant (Bourbon has a way of smelling good, even in a marinade) but didn’t impart much taste to the meat, despite marinating for 24 hours as directed. I was supposed to use the remaining marinade to make gravy but I basted the meat with it instead. I had to chuckle at the last direction to heat the remaining marinade. Not in my mom’s kitchen. No amount of heat or even bourbon in the recipe would have satisfied my mom that it was safe to serve, especially after raw pork sat in it for hours on end. And so we would have had a naked roast and that would have suited us just fine. Besides, that’s what mustard and applesauce and all kinds of other condiments are for!

As a final note, should you ever find yourself in Corning, NY, CorningWare’s original home, you should stop by and check out their Corning Museum of Glass - My husband and I were there nine years ago and were really in awe of the glass collection they amassed. And don’t forget the gift shop although you very likely won’t find a copy of this cookbook there. But it doesn’t hurt to ask and maybe someone can even give you the low-down on Cornelius. If you get the dirt, drop me a line!

Marinated Pork Roast – Serves 8

This recipe calls for one 5- to 6-pound center-cut line of pork, boned. I used a 2.5 pound roast and cut the marinade in half.

½ cup soy sauce
½ cup bourbon
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons dry mustard
1-2 tablespoons finely diced ginger or 1 teaspoon powdered

Trim the pork roast of all but ¼ inch of fat (note: if you manage to find a piece of meat with any fat on it anymore, let me know. I didn’t have to trim a thing and that may have led to a drier roast).

Mix the marinade ingredients together then put the meat with the marinade into a tight-fitting plastic bag and seal. Marinate overnight or for at least 6 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350. Drain the roast, reserving the marinade. Bake for 1 ¼ hours, basting 4 or 5 times with the marinade. I’d pull this out when it’s at 140-145 and then let the temperature climb while the roast rests 10 minutes before you carve it into thin slices. Heat the remaining marinade and serve as gravy.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"The Underground Gourmet Cookbook" - Split Pea Soup

Date I made this recipe: November 5, 2007

The Underground Gourmet Cookbook by Milton Glaser and Jerome Snyder, edited by Joyce Zonana
Published by: Simon and Schuster
© 1975
Recipe: Split Pea Soup – p. 236

Sometimes the cover of the book is what sells it. In this case, it was the men in plainclothes (one in sunglasses - love it!), looking suspiciously like CIA operatives, standing amongst some of the chefs featured in this book that did it for me. Indeed, the subtitle of this book is “Over 250 Exciting Recipes for the Home Cook from the Best Inexpensive Ethnic Restaurants Discovered by Milton Glaser & Jerome Snyder)." I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Just out of curiosity on this cold, windy and (can you believe it?) snowy day in Minneapolis (not even enough for ground cover but enough in the air to depress the heck out of me), I hit the internet to see how many of the 72 restaurants listed in this book are still in business and to my surprise, 10 are still standing. That’s not too bad considering the often short life of restaurants, the fact that New York City in particular chews them up and spits them out and the book was written 32 years ago.

Sadly, the restaurant that produced my Split Pea Soup, La Potagerie, formerly located at 554 Fifth Avenue in New York, was not one of the survivors despite the fact that Jacques Pepin was once the executive chef. But leave it to a Frenchman to come up with a very tasty split pea soup, just right for a cold day. La Potagerie may not be around but pea soup lives forever!

Split Pea Soup – Serves 8 to 10
¾ pound bacon, chopped coarsely
1 ½ pounds split peas
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onions
2 10 ¾ ounce cans each of condensed or concentrated beef broth and chicken broth (I used only chicken since I had it on hand)
2 leeks, sliced
1 tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon thyme leaves
2 tablespoons grated horseradish

Place half of bacon in a baking tray and brown in the oven.

Place peas, potatoes, onions, celery, broth, leeks, salt, pepper, thyme and remaining bacon in a kettle. Add enough water to reach approximately 1 ½ inches above the ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2/1 hours. Add water if the liquid evaporates too quickly. Mix every 10 minutes with a whisk to avoid scorching.

When the soup is cooked, whip with the whisk or use an electric beater to break down the potatoes and peas into smooth soup. Add the browned bacon and cook another 10 minutes. Add the horseradish.

To serve, garnish each bowl with 1 tablespoon each of chopped celery and grated Swiss cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, November 5, 2007

"La Comida Del Barrio" by Aaron Sanchez -Sopes de chorizo and potato filling (corn tarts wtih sausage and potato filling)

Date I made this recipe: November 4, 2007

La Comida Del Barrio – Latin-American cooking in the U.S.A. by Aaron Sanchez
Published by: Clarkson Potter/Publishers
ISBN – 0-609-61075-9
Recipe: Sopes de chorizo and potato filling – p. 91

Once upon a time there were a few cooking shows of note: Julia Child and Graham Kerr (The Galloping Gourmet) are the top two that I remember. And then it seemed like TV cooking shows fell into a vast wasteland until the likes of Emeril, Mario (Batali) and Bobby Flay came along on one of the greatest inventions since sliced bread—Food Network.

I have waxed poetic about this channel before but every year, I find myself taping more and more shows off this channel and less and less off the network. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I’m deeply interested in all that is food. And it doesn’t hurt that the Food Network, sensing a gold mine, cranks out numerous books containing the selected sticker “As seen on Food Network.” I do not have the complete collection offered by the Food Network but I’m coming close.

Aaron Sanchez, today’s featured cookbook author, is one of the “As seen” celebrities. But I hate to report that until recently, he wasn’t seen by me. Somehow, and I know you’ll be shocked I missed his show Melting Pot…as seen on the Food Network. Missed it, didn’t even know it existed…how could that be? Lo siento, Aaron, lo siento. (I’m sorry).

Well, I might have missed him on his own show, but one day while watching Iron Chef America, he appeared as a contestant and I was intrigued. I can’t recall whether or not he won (and note to the Food Network: you sure don’t make it easy for me to research this!) but before you knew it, he was one of eight contestants on The Next Iron Chef (America) that is currently playing on the Food Network (and is down to the final two – John Besh v. Michael Symon). Although he was eliminated in week 4, I still enjoyed watching him, and the rest of the chefs (including two women) duke it out week after week.

Lucky for you and me, we are not in contention for a spot of a popular TV show nor do we have to prove our culinary talents by making the best airline cuisine ever. (I’m sorry but “excellent,” “airline” and “cuisine” are three words that do not belong together. Ever.) Instead, you simply have to wield a knife and work a frying pan. How hard can that be?

For those of you who have the cookbook, you’ll note that the chorizo (spicy Mexican sausage) and potato filling recipe listed below is meant to fill a Mexican dish called Sopes which means corn tarts. Sopes are basically little corn flour boats, similar to tortillas that contain all kinds of fillings. I would have loved to have made Sopes except for the fact that it called for Masa Harina (corn flour) that was only available where I lived in four-pound bags and I feared that the flour would sit and sit and sit after being used just once and I hate to waste food like that. So, my husband put his filling in some left-over tortillas we had and I ate mine plain. It’s my blog and I can bend the rules if I want too!

I think you’ll really enjoy this filling and can even, as Aaron suggests in the cookbook, use it to accompany your eggs in the morning to add a little zip to your breakfast. Ole’!

Sopes de chorizo and potato filling – Makes 1 quart
2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound Spanish chorizo sausage (about 4 links), diced small
1 medium white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and diced
1 green bell pepper, cored and diced
1 cup Chicken Broth
1 scallion, white and green parts, chopped
½ cup chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water; add the salt and bring to a boil, uncovered. Simmer until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. (Note: I used the microwave and cooked them for about 4 minutes).

Meanwhile, coat a large skillet with the oil and heat over a medium flame. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, until the sausage renders its fat and gets crispy. Add the onion, garlic, and all the peppers. Cook for 8 minutes, until the vegetables soften. Pour in the broth and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain the tender potatoes and add them to the pan, along with the scallions and cilantro. Cook for 3 more minutes to reduce the liquid, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Notes: Okay, if you’re like me, you’re tired of putting a vegetable in the crisper only to forget about it until months have gone by which time it – whatever it was – has turned into something that you don’t want to deal with. And so for this reason, as well as cost, I skipped buying a scallion and instead of cilantro, I used about a teaspoon of dried coriander. The recipe seemed to work out just fine.