Wednesday, March 31, 2010

1960s Strawberry Cream Pie

I wish Better Homes & Gardens would reprint their 1960s Dessert Cook Book. This old hardback is a gem, and I make family desserts from it all the time. If you want a copy of your own, make sure you’re getting one from the 1960s. It went through several printings, so you should be able to find a copy. But don’t order one from the 1970s, by then they’d dropped their best recipes to support the Jell-O craze and the flood of women heading out into the workforce.

My kitchen was such a mess that day. Obviously it wasn’t just pie that created mass destruction, but I found myself paralyzed by the mountain of dish washing ahead of me. Luckily, Dishboy Scott came to the rescue! Thanks Dishboy, you’re the best, even if you’re just in it for free pie and martinis.

Strawberry Cream Pie

Due to short, unorganized, old time style instructions, failure to read this recipe before starting could possibly result in
frustrated yelling and self hair pulling as you scramble to catch up. I have clumps of missing hair to prove it.

1 9-inch baked pastry shell
½ cup slivered blanched almonds, toasted (Jesse doesn’t like nuts so I left them out, but I bet they’d be great in here.)
1 recipe cream filling (below, make first)
2 ½ cups fresh strawberries
½ cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Few drops red food coloring (This is not needed, tastes bad, and I never use it.)

Cover bottom of cooled pastry shell with nuts. Fill with chilled Cream Filling. Halve two cups of the strawberries. Pile atop filling.

Glaze: Crush remaining ½ cup berries; add water; cook 2 minutes; sieve. Mix sugar and cornstarch: gradually stir in berry juice. Cook, and stir until thick and clear. Tint to desired color with food coloring. Cool slightly; pour over halved strawberries. Keep refrigerated till serving time. Pass whipped cream, if desired.

Cream Filling
(for Strawberry Cream Pie)
Really? I thought it was for Date Pinwheels 30 pages away. Sorry, the sarcasm seems to be oozing out of me today. I think I need a piece of pie.

½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons enriched flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1 slightly beaten egg
½ cup heavy cream, whipped
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix first 4 ingredients. Gradually stir in milk. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil; reduce heat and stir until thick. Stir a little of the hot mixture into egg; return to remaining hot mixture. Bring just to boiling, stirring constantly. Cool, then chill. (It will be very gelatinous after chilling.) Beat well; fold in whipped cream and vanilla.

Recipe from p77 of the "Better Homes & Gardens Dessert Cook Book", published 1960. Pictures by Laura Flowers.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ants on a Log & Selfish Thoughts

I spent the day peacefully alone in my kitchen from the time my family left this morning until dinner was placed on the table. I baked loaves of bread, a pan of rolls, and slowly made an old fashioned strawberry cream pie from a favorite book. I prepared an inexpensive, yet fantastic split pea and bacon soup, packed Clara’s lunch for tomorrow, and quickly threw together these peanut butter celery sticks for an after school snack.

When I’m by myself in the kitchen my mind wanders all over the place. Most of my thoughts involve food and society typically. Or more selfish things, like wondering if I’m throwing away a creative paying career while I work on my full time mom and wife skills.

Finally sick of thinking to myself (or perhaps about myself), I turned on the television for some company. Sandra Lee popped on, making rolls of sorts with store bought pizza dough. I didn’t even realize I could buy pizza dough like that! I’ve always made it at home.

Sandra Lee got me thinking. Is all I do really necessary? Would it be so wrong if I added stuff together from the store to make dinner? I do think Sandra has some neat ideas. After watching her for awhile I realized that for me, using a product for fun occasionally is fine, but it doesn’t help me reach my long term goals.

I want my daughter to deeply understand that bread, pizza, rolls, pies, and meals come from a family kitchen, not just from a store or restaurant. I want her to learn that baking and cooking from scratch is fun, easy and better for her in the long run. I want her to know what food is and what it is not, and to be able to appreciate something as simple as celery with peanut butter and a few raisins.

So I guess I’ll keep plugging away, although I seem to be going at a much slower pace than the rest of the world. My job here isn’t finished and I better get my backside in gear. Maybe I’ll still have time to work on that exciting career later on.

Ants on a Log
I’ll take a couple of these over scary looking dyed "yogurt" sticks any day!

Peanut Butter
Some raisins

Clean, dry and slice the celery into 3 or 4 inch pieces. Use a tip 1A and attach to a disposable pastry bag. Fill with some peanut butter and pipe onto the celery using a figure eight motion, first push back slightly, then forward a half inch, then back again a bit, and repeat until the pattern is completed on the celery. Repeat with remaining celery sticks and top with raisins.

Recipe by every parent who’s ever had a peanut butter loving child. Picture by Laura Flowers.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Easy Cheesy Garlic Red Lobster Style Biscuits from Scratch

Jesse loves Red Lobster’s biscuits. He’ll repeatedly ask the servers to refill the bread basket about oh, a minute after it arrives at the table. I thought it would be nice if he could enjoy these garlicky cheese biscuits at home without having to beg for refills from annoyed looking staff.

Red Lobster style biscuits can be copied using Bisquick, but I don’t like to purchase baking mixes for just one recipe. Instead I combined Todd Wilbur’s copycat version from Top Secret Recipes with "Oil Drop Biscuits" from Joy of Cooking. They turned out pretty close to the real ones without much extra effort. No Bisquick needed.

Homemade Red Lobster Style Drop Biscuits
Printer Version
Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 475 degrees. Line parchment paper on an Airbake cookie sheet. Double up two cookie sheets together if you don’t have an Airbake.

Mix together in a small bowl and set aside for brushing:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (Use 1/4 teaspoon if you like your biscuits less garlicky)
Pinch of salt

Whisk with a fork in a large bowl:
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Add to the flour mixture all at once:
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable or extra light olive oil

Stir with a fork just until the dough readily leaves the sides of the bowl. Scoop the dough with a cookie scoop and drop two inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes (watch carefully near the end) or until lightly golden brown on top. Immediately, liberally brush all the melted butter mixture over tops of biscuits. Serve hot.

Makes 9 biscuits with a size 16 (1/4 cup volume) scoop.

Recipe created from two sources, Drop Biscuits with Oil from "Joy of Cooking" and Red Lobster Biscuits from "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2", by Todd Wilbur. Picture by Laura Flowers.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chambord Strawberry Shortcakes

Ripe strawberries arrived from California! Yay! California, I love you when you ship good fruit.

I went a little crazy with the Chambord Liqueur in this recipe, every element has some, but it doesn’t overpower the flavor. Instead it leaves a slightly perfumed hint of that beautiful black raspberry taste mixed with luscious ripe strawberries, whipped cream, and perfect home-style biscuits.

Chambord Strawberry Shortcakes

Chambord Strawberries
The Chambord flavor doesn’t come through as a liqueur, but it nicely rounds out the sweetness of the strawberries with a pleasing fruity perfume.

2 pounds ripe strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 cup granulated sugar, preferably organic
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons Chambord Liqueur

Several hours before serving shortcakes, place all the ingredients in a bowl, stir to combine, cover and place in the refrigerator to macerate.

Chambord Biscuits
These are rustic looking flavorful biscuits. Perfect for shortcakes.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons organic sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
2/3 cup half and half
2 tablespoons Chambord Liqueur

For Brushing Top
1 tablespoon half and half
1 tablespoon Chambord Liqueur
Organic sugar

1. Set the oven rack in the middle and preheat to 425 degrees. Line an Airbake cookie sheet with parchment paper. Or put two baking sheets together if you don’t have an Airbake.

2. In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the diced butter and pulse to pea size pieces. Add the half and half and Chambord and pulse until almost combined. Don’t over work the dough.

3. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly four or five times. Pat the dough into a 1 inch thick rectangle and slice into 6 squares. Place the dough on the parchment two inches apart.

4. Stir together 1 tablespoon half and half and 1 tablespoon Chambord. Brush the biscuit tops and sprinkle lightly with sugar.

5. Place the biscuits in the oven and bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden on top. Remove from the oven and set on a cooling rack until ready to assemble shortcakes.

Makes 6 large shortcakes.

Chambord Whipped Cream
2 cups very cold heavy cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons Chambord Liqueur
Small pinch of salt

With a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks start to form. Add the powdered sugar, Chambord, and salt and continue to beat until whipped cream constancy. (Don’t overbeat or you’ll have some strange sweet butter on your hands.)

To assemble Chambord Strawberry Shortcakes
Stir the bowl of strawberries. Slice biscuits in half and place one per person on a plate. Spoon on lots of strawberries and dollop with whipped cream. Top with matching biscuit half. Drizzle with a little Chambord if you'd like.

Recipe & photograph by Laura Flowers

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Julie’s Chewy Cocoa Brownies

My friend Julie and her family have been making this old fashioned chewy gooey brownie forever. The original recipe comes from an old Grange Cookbook, with a missing cover and blue binding, submitted by a Mrs. Walter Grunhaupt from Grinnell, Iowa. I wonder if she had another identity besides her husband’s? That we’ll never know.

Julie’s whole-wheat flour adaption is even better than Mrs. Grunhaupt’s white flour version, and reducing the sugar didn’t hurt a bit. Then there’s Julie’s chocolate icing, worthy of licking clean off the brownie itself.

You can choose to make your icing shiny and soft, or thick and fudgy with the same recipe. See the icing recipe below for instructions.

Julie’s Chewy Cocoa Brownies
Whole wheat flour holds up better than white flour, making for a nicer chewy brownie texture.

1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
½ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour
1 cup chopped nuts of your choice (I use walnuts), optional

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch pan lightly with butter.

2. In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream together the sugar, butter and salt. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Mix in the cocoa powder and flour just until incorporated, then mix in nuts if using.

3. Spread the mixture into the pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the sides start to pull away from the pan and the brownies are no longer wet looking.

4. Cool brownies to room temperature before icing.

Brownie Icing Two Ways

3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
A small pinch of salt if using unsalted butter

Bring the milk, butter, sugar, and salt if using to a simmer stirring often. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 full minutes stirring often. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips until smooth.

For Matte Fudge Topping: Spread the hot icing over the brownies with a spatula until even. Cool completely to set.

For Shiny Glaze Topping: Pour the hot icing onto the brownies. Roll icing around the brownies by tilting the pan to coat, but do not spread with a spatula. Cool completely to set.

Recipe adapted by Julie Hopper and rewritten and adapted for a one-bowl method by Laura Flowers. Original version comes from an old “Grange Cookbook” with a missing cover and blue binding. Recipe submitted to the book by, “Mrs. Walter Grunhaupt, Master’s Wife. Chester Royal Grange No. 2181, Grinnell, Iowa. Icing recipe adapted from Julie Hopper. Pictures by Laura Flowers

Friday, March 19, 2010

Vegetarian Style Chicken Snack Wraps

I love McDonald’s Snack Wraps. They’re a guilty pleasure of mine. Not for a snack, they’re a bit much for that, but for lunch occasionally. However, I don’t like the way they make me feel when I eat them. Like a heavy, greasy, unhealthy bomb in my stomach.

So now I make a cleaned up vegetarian version at home. These probably still aren’t the healthiest things, but I love them anyway. They don’t make me feel gross and have more flavor then the McDonald’s version.

Vegetarian Style Chicken Snack Wraps
I’m not certain vegetarian chicken patties qualify as real food, but they're pretty darn tasty! I far prefer them to real chicken patties.

1 box MorningStar Farms Chik Patties Original
4 Mission Multi-Grain Flour Tortillas, Medium Soft Taco
Fresh baby Spinach
Onion, thinly sliced
Bleu Cheese, Ranch, or Honey Mustard dressing (My favorite is bleu cheese, Jesse's is ranch)
Freshly cracked pepper

1. Cook Chik Patties according to package directions. Oven method works best, and use convection if you have it for crispier breading.

2. Place the tortillas on a plate and cover with a paper towel. Microwave on high until warm. About 30 to 45 seconds.

3. Slice the chicken patties into strips. Arrange one patty's worth of strips on a tortilla and add spinach, onion, a drizzle of your preferred dressing, and some pepper. Fold the bottom upward so the stuffing doesn’t come out. Then roll into burrito shape. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Makes 4 snack wraps.

Recipe & photograph by Laura Flowers.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ravioli in Fresh Asparagus Cream Sauce

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Let’s celebrate with some green Italian food! Err never mind. That just doesn’t sound right.

I’m slacking over here and I know it. I’ve been a bad food blogger, and just bad in general. You see, I have a one track mind right now and it’s not food for once. It’s been unusually warm here this winter and as Queen sings, “I want to ride my bicycle. I want to ride my bike.” I can hardly get off the darn thing and my backside is completely saddle sore. Oh, you probably didn’t want to know that.

I’ll leave you with this recipe I threw together last night. It’s simple and fresh, which fits well right now. I’ll be back in the kitchen and back on the blog as soon as I stop acting like a 10-year-old.

Ravioli in Fresh Asparagus Cream Sauce
This recipe makes enough sauce for two somewhat small packages of ravioli. Freeze half of the sauce for later if you're making this for three people or less.

1 bunch asparagus
1 clove garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
Lots of freshly cracked pepper to taste
Pinch of red pepper flakes
½ cup heavy cream
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan Reggiano, plus more for garnish
½ cup reserved salted pasta water
1 to 2 packages (19 ounces each) frozen Safeway Select Asparagus Ravioli (or any favorite type)

1. Bring a heavily salted pot of water to boil for ravioli. Wash asparagus. Snap off and discard rough ends. Chop into half inch pieces. Press the garlic through a garlic press or finely mince.

2. In a large skillet warm the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the asparagus, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook stirring somewhat often until asparagus is tender, usually less than 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat.

3. Add the asparagus mixture to a food processor and puree scraping sides as needed. Add the Parmesan and pulse to combine. Then with the food processor running, drizzle in the heavy cream. Set aside but don’t remove from the food processor.

4. Cook ravioli according to package directions. Near the end of cooking time reserve ½ cup of the pasta water. Strain the ravioli and place them back in the skillet. Turn the food processor back on and drizzle in some of the pasta water until the mixture looks like a nice sauce consistency.

5. Add half of the sauce for one package of ravioli or the entire batch for two packages. Warm the sauce and ravioli together over medium heat until warmed through. Salt & pepper to taste is needed and serve immediately with more Parmesan cheese for garnish.

6. Freeze any leftover sauce for an easy dinner later.

Recipe & photograph by Laura Flowers.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Kathia's Costa Rican Style Black Bean & Egg Soup

Kathia grew up in beautiful Costa Rica where plantains grow on trees and kids run and play outside. I’m lucky she chose me as a friend. Not only is she fun, intelligent, creative, and incredibly loyal, (she’s always the first to defend me), but she shares her childhood recipes too!

I think it was while we were sitting in a Cuban restaurant in Manhattan that she told me about this gorgeous, simple, delicious soup. It’s one of those busy day recipes, as Kathia tosses the black beans into the slow cooker before work and finishes the soup when she arrives home.

If I was in Costa Rica I’d be adding chopped plantains to the beans, but since my access to decent plantains is zero, I used carrots to sweeten the deal. If you find quality plantains, using them will make this more authentic.

Kathia I am so grateful to have you as my friend! Thank-you for this terrific staple recipe.

Slow Cooker Black Beans
With this method you won't need to soak the beans overnight.

1 pound dried black beans
1 clove garlic
6 cups hot water
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

1. Rinse beans well in a colander, then spread out on a baking sheet and sort out any rocks or bad looking beans. Place the beans in a slow cooker, and the garlic clove, and cover with hot water. Do not salt the beans at this point or the skins will get tough.

2. Cook on low heat for 5 to 6 hours. Test for doneness. Turn off the heat and add the salt. Let the beans rest until you’re ready to start the soup.

Kathia's Costa Rican Style Black Bean & Egg Soup
For a hearty vegan meal, skip the egg and sour cream garnish.

¼ cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 large bell pepper, your choice of color
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Lots of freshly cracked black pepper to taste
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1/3 cup water for deglazing pot
1 recipe slow cooked black beans, above
Eggs, 1 per person

1. Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium high and add the onion, carrots, bell pepper, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Stir to combine and cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender and the onions start to brown. About 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Add the water to the pot and deglaze the bottom of the pan. Meanwhile puree 2 cups of the black beans with the garlic clove they were cooked with. Add the puree and the rest of the black beans with their liquid to the soup pot. Cook stirring often until bubbly.

3. Carefully crack the eggs into prep bowls, one per prep bowl. Then slide eggs gently into the soup pot and cover with a lid. Cook for a couple of minutes until the egg whites solidify but leave the yolks runny to taste.

4. To serve, scoop up the beans with an egg into individual bowls. Garnish as desired and serve with tortillas.

Garnish Suggestions
Diced avocado
Diced tomatoes
Chopped cilantro
Slices of lime
Sour cream

Recipe adapted slightly from Kathia Castro from Pink Little Cake. Picture by Laura Flowers.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Parmesan Spinach Casserole with Garlic Brown Rice

Here’s a main dish vegetable casserole even my daughter will eat. Probably because the potato chip topping minimizes the mental distress from the healthy components underneath.

The brown rice was cooked in my Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker. Years ago I bought the 5 ½ cup version. I’m still not exactly sure what fuzzy logic technology is, but it puts my old rice cooker to shame. At the time it was a painful purchase, but this rice cooker makes brown rice so fluffy and perfect that I rarely bother making white rice anymore.

Prices have decreased significantly for fuzzy logic rice cookers over the years, so if you can swing it, I highly recommend one. Especially if you’d like to eat more brown rice.

Garlic Brown Rice
Rice can be made ahead of time or even the day before.

1 ½ cups brown rice (or 2 rice cooker cups)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder

1. Place the rice in a rice cooker bowl and cover with water and stir. Pour off most of the water into the sink leaving the rice in the bowl. Repeat two more times. This cleans the rice.

2. Fill bowl with water to the two cup brown rice mark. Add the butter, salt, garlic powder and onion powder. Place the bowl in the slow cooker and select brown rice if you have the option. Set aside for the casserole.

Notes: Cut the salt in half if not using in a casserole.

Parmesan Spinach Casserole with Garlic Brown Rice
1 recipe cooked Garlic Brown Rice, above
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup very thinly sliced carrot rounds
1 large yellow or white onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons unbleached flour
3 cups milk
1 (16 ounce) package frozen organic chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
2/3 cup shredded Parmesan Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
Sprinkle of garlic powder
1 cup crushed Kettle Brand Krinkle Cut Potato Chips

1. Thaw the spinach in a colander over a bowl or in the microwave if you're in a hurry. Press out as much liquid as possible with the back of a spoon.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9x13 inch baking dish and add the cooked rice.

3. In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat and add the carrots, onions and salt. Cook until carrots are tender and onions start to caramelize. Add the flour and cook for a minute, then slowly pour in the milk stirring as you pour. Stir constantly until the sauce looks like it’s starting to thicken, but not completely thick yet, like a medium gravy. Add the spinach, cheese, a good dash of freshly cracked pepper and heat just until warmed through. Spread mixture over rice and sprinkle very lightly with garlic powder. Top with crushed potato chips.

4. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until heated through. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe & picture by Laura Flowers.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Disappearing Marshmallow Brownies?

I don't know how this blondie recipe came to be called a brownie, but I do know they're chewy and decadent. They're also kind of ugly by nature as the dissolving marshmallows leave a few craters.

You know the song “If You Wanna Be Happy”, by Jimmy Soul? The one where he tells you to get an ugly wife. These brownie-blondies are exactly that. Not pretty, but they’ll sure make you happy!

I cut the bars into diamonds by slicing them into strips the long way, and then cut them diagonally across the strips. This left me with lots of gooey, chewy, buttery little ends. At this point I was compelled to make a big pot of coffee to enjoy the discards all by myself.

Discarded ends don’t count for calories anyway, right?

Disappearing Marshmallow Brownies

1/2 cup butter
1 cup butterscotch chips
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch pan.

2. Using a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butterscotch chips and butter together in the microwave, stirring occasionally until smooth. Set aside to cool.

3. In a large bowl, stir together the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix in the melted butterscotch chips, then the flour, baking powder, and salt until smooth. Stir in the marshmallows and chocolate chips last. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking pan.

4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in preheated oven. Cool, and cut into squares or diamonds.

Notes: I line my pan with foil before greasing. Once the bars are cool I freeze them for about 30 minutes and then lift them out of the pan by the foil for easier cutting.

Recipe submitted by Maryl to Picture by Laura Flowers.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Radiatori with Sautéed Brussels Sprouts

I love Brussels sprouts, but as a child I thought they were the nastiest stinkiest vegetable in existence. Probably because steamed was the only way I’d experienced them. I still believe most steamed or boiled vegetables are not edible. Though, as an adult, or as a big kid as my husband refers to me, I'm able to suck it up and eat what I'm served while my taste buds scream silently in protest.

 Or at least I don't spit them out impolitely anymore.

Nowadays I have a rule. The only darn vegetable I’m allowed to boil or steam is a potato! Ok, sometimes broccoli too. Everything else has to be grilled, sautéed, or roasted.

So my question is, WHY??? Why ever in the world did humans steam these things? They are so fantastic roasted, sautéed, or grilled. I wasted my childhood running from vegetables, but my own 8-year-old loves them now that I know what not to do.

I still try to choke down steamed vegetables when I visit my parents. I don’t think changing their ways is likely at this point anyway.

Radiatori with Sautéed Brussels Sprouts

2 pounds Brussels sprouts
1 lemon, divided
1 pound Radiatori pasta or other shape, plus 1 cup reserved pasta water
¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs, (Pulse some bread in a small food processor)
½ teaspoon and 1 tablespoons butter, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of coarse sea salt
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup shredded Pecorino Romano or Asiago cheese
Freshly cracked pepper plus more salt to taste

1. Prepare a bowl of cold water with juice of ½ a lemon (I threw in the lemon half with the water too), save the other half for the recipe. Rinse the Brussels sprouts and peel off the outer leaves. Cut about ¼ of the base off and discard. Slice into quarters and toss into the lemon water. Repeat with remaining sprouts.

2. Meanwhile bring heavily salted pasta water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water at the end of cooking time.

3. At the same time melt 1 teaspoon butter in a large nonstick skillet and add the breadcrumbs. Cook until golden and toasted. Remove from skillet and set aside.

4. Next, add the olive oil, 1 tablespoon butter, and ½ teaspoon salt to a large nonstick skillet and heat over medium-high heat until butter is melted. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook for a couple minutes until they start to shrink a bit. Add the onion slices a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook until the vegetables start to caramelize stirring often. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute until fragrant. Turn off the heat and squeeze the juice half a lemon over the vegetables.

5. Toss the hot vegetables together with the pasta, bread crumbs, and cheese. Add enough of the pasta water to make it a nice consistency. Add more salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Recipe based off a Brussels Sprout Pasta from Alice Waters' "Chez Panisse Vegetables". Photograph by Laura Flowers.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cioppino with City Fish Seafood

We made this fantastic stew from seafood we brought home from City Fish at Pike Place Market in Seattle. Their prices were quite a bit cheaper than the fancy fish throwing shop and the seafood was every bit as fresh. They even included a bunch of salmon bones and tails free of charge for stock.

I very rarely make these kinds of dishes because of our limited access to top quality seafood. Now that I know City Fish ships I’ll be sending in my orders occasionally. Probably about the time I run out of salmon stock!

Salmon Stock
Make this the morning of or the day before. If you would rather use a slow cooker go ahead and throw everything in, fill to the top with water and cook on either low or high heat for several hours.

3 to 5 salmon bones with tails, (no heads)
1 white onion, peeled and quartered
4 stocks celery with leaves if possible, chopped in half
2 carrots, rinsed and chopped in half
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper

Fill a large pot with a strainer full of water, place the strainer in the pot and place in the vegetables, salt, and pepper. Cook on high until it comes to a small boil, then reduce to barely simmering and cover with a lid. Cook for about 4 to 5 hours on low, then remove the veggies and cool to nearly room temperature. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Store any extra stock in 4 cup amounts in the freezer for future use.

Feel free to use any type of seafood you like in this stew. Or even just one or two types if you prefer. I added calamari to mine this time.

5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
750ml bottle Red wine
4 cups fish stock
1 teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf
28-to 32-ounce can whole tomatoes including juice, pureed coarse
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 lb fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 live Dungeness crabs
12 small hard-shelled clams
1/2 pound medium shrimp
1/2 pound sea scallops
1 pound scrod or other white fish fillet, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

In a heavy kettle cook garlic in oil over moderate heat, stirring, until pale golden. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened. Add pepper flakes and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until softened. Add vinegar and boil until evaporated. Add wine, oregano, and bay leaf and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in tomato puree and tomato paste, fish stock or water and bring to a boil. Add tomatoes.

Add crabs and clams and simmer, covered, 15 to 20 minutes, transferring clams as they open to a bowl (discard unopened ones).

Transfer crabs to a cutting board and remove top shells, adding any crab liquid to soup. Halve or quarter crabs (depending on size) and reserve, with any additional liquid, in a bowl.

Add shrimp, scallops, and fish to soup and simmer, covered, 5 minutes, or until seafood is just cooked through. Stir in crabs, their liquid, and clams and sprinkle with parsley.

Serve with warm, crusty sourdough French bread.

Cioppino adapted slightly from Tim and Victor's Totally Joyous Recipes. Salmon stock recipe and photograph by Laura Flowers. City Fish is where I purchased the seafood and they ship. Their phone number is (206) 682-9329.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Homemade Chocolate Pudding

Robin H. your number was picked! You get a two-pound bag of Mocha Roca Mishaps. I feel like I should apologize. That’s a lot of Roca!

Dishboy Scott introduced this pudding to me. He’s been making it since he was a kid from his favorite dessert book, the 1960 “Better Homes & Gardens Dessert Cook Book”. Scott still likes to make this pudding and drizzle it hot over cold vanilla ice cream.

Sometimes we get lucky and he makes this for us. I had no idea hot pudding and ice cream could be so incredible together. But if you like your pudding cold be sure to chill it with a piece of plastic wrap directly on top so a skin doesn’t form.

This old dessert book is a gem in the Better Homes and Gardens collection. I finally found a copy of my own so I can pass these nearly lost recipes to my daughter.

I’m left wondering how advertising conned us into believing pudding came from a box. It must have taken awhile, because this is such an easy dessert. Growing up though, I thought pudding only came from a little box. I’m grateful I know better now.

Chocolate Pudding
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups milk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

In saucepan, mix sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually blend in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, till mixture thickens. Cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add vanilla.

Pour into 5 or 6 sherbets; chill. Or pour into individual molds, rinsed with cold water; chill till firm. Unmold in chilled dessert dishes. Serve with cream.

*Or add two 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate, cut up, along with milk.

Notes: Directions are from the book, but you can serve this warm as a sauce over vanilla ice cream or you can place it in a bowl and cover and chill with plastic wrap directly touching the pudding so a skin doesn’t form.

Recipe from “Better Homes & Gardens Dessert Cook Book”, 1960. Picture by Laura Flowers.

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