Recipes and Cooking category archive
This is a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch desert. The name comes from the legend that, when you set the finished pie on the windowsill to cool, you must remain there shooing away the flies that swarm it.
This version comes from the Neffsville Mennonite Cookbook, which was compiled by the Women’s Missionary and Service Commission of said church, in Lancaster, Pa. There are three shoo-fly pies in the cookbook, but this one’s so good I haven’t bother to try the other two . . . .
I’ve had this cookbook for 35 or 40 years. Many years ago, when I worked for Amtrak, we held residential (meaning that the trainees stayed over for several days at the training site) training classes at various hotels in the Lancaster area, as Lancaster was central in the terms of Amtrak geography, convenient to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and Chicago. Shoo-fly pie became one of my favorites.
When I was purchasing the frozen pie shells (making your own pie crust is not worth the effort), I mentioned that I was planning to bake shoo-fly pies. The lady behind me in the check out asked, “What’s in it?” I said, “Sugar.”
Frequently, if someone has never had it, he or she is told, “Imagine pecan pie without the pecans.” Frankly, that is a comparison of desperation, because there really isn’t anything else quite like it.
They eat egg pie.
I sort of followed this recipe, except for sauteing up some red pepper, celery, and red onion and using country ham instead of bacon and omitting the Parmesan cheese and not bothering to measure anything except for the half-and-half.
There is a quite excellent little restaurant in these parts that does indeed offer “egg pie” on the menu. It’s quiche in disguise.
They throw a great breakfast. If you are in these parts, give them a visit.
As regards measuring, the marvelous “Cajun Comic” Justin Wilson once did a cooking show. He would pour herbs and spices into his hand while saying “[some quantity] [some spice],’ then pour them into a measuring device, which showed that the quantity was accurate.
After a while, one knows what a teaspoon of something or other looks like.
The resident curmudgeon at my local rag explodes the myth of corned beef and cabbage. She recalls her time as a young foreign correspondent:
Because it’s not an Irish dish.
Regardless of what she says, we’re having this tonight.
Try the recipe.
*With apologies to the Firesign Theatre.
I made this today.
It was a complete ad lib effort inspired by a reference in the first Corinna Chapman story by Kerry Greenwood. Although there is a book of Corinna Chapman recipes available, the recipe for this “Seed Bread” is not in it; in the book, Corinna, who is a baker by trade, states that it is her secret recipe, and I reckon it is.
The book also refers to “kibbled wheat” and “kibbled oats” as part of the secret recipe. “Kibbled wheat” appears to be what in the States we refer to as cracked wheat; “kibbled oats,” steel-cut oats. I didn’t have any on hand and, frankly, I’ve never been a big one for oats, except in the form of oatmeal cookies.*
I must say, my experiment was quite successful and I look forward to trying it again. The finished product is quite savory. You can click the picture above for a larger image, in which you can see the seeds embedded in the loaf. Perhaps I’ll even give the oats and wheat a try.
- 1 cp. warm water
- 1 packet yeast
- 1 1/2 cps. white flour, approx.
- 1 1/2 cps. rye flour, approx.
- 1 tbs. each dill seed, fennel seed, sesame seed, caraway seed, or to taste
- 1 tsp. coriander (the reference in the story referred to coriander seed, but I didn’t have any of that, so I ad libbed)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. light brown sugar
1. Dissolve yeast in water and proof.
2 Add seeds, salt, and sugar.
3. Add white flour and stir well.
4 Add rye flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each, until dough is stiff and firm enough to knead.
5. Pour out on floured board and knead until firm and springy. If the dough feels a little sticky, knead in additional flour as needed.
6. Pour a bit of olive oil into a bowl and coat dough with the olive oil, then cover and allow to rise (approx. 1 1/2 hours, depending on heat and humidity).
7. When dough has approximately doubled in size, shape into a loaf and place in loaf pan or on cookie sheet and allow to rise for approximately 20 mins.
8. Place in oven preheated to 400 Fahrenheits and bake until a knife inserted into it comes out clean (approx. 30 mins.). If you wish a crustier loaf, place a pan of hot water in the oven and, after the bread has started to cook, brush the top of the loaf with water a couple of times, say, at the 10 and 20 minute marks.
Makes one loaf.
*I have the same feelings about oats as Dennis the Menace once expressed about carrot cake when he said, “Nothing this good could come from carrots.”
Almost every recipe that calls for veal can be made with chicken. This is a quick and easy recipe that turns out a special dish.
1 chicken breast, skinned and boned (you can also use thighs or, as we called them where I grew up, “short joints”)
1 cp. flour, approx.
herbs and spices to taste
1/2 stick butter
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbs. capers or more to taste*
1. Mix flour with herbs and spices. I commonly use pepper, tarragon, poultry seasoning, basil, garlic powder, and a bit of rosemary.
2. Slice meat into strips no more than 1/4″ thick.
3. Dredge meat in flour mixture until it is thoroughly coated.
4. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat.
5. Saute meat in skillet, turning as needed, in a single layer until golden brown. If you have more than will fit at once, place done pieces in a serving dish and keep in oven heated to about 200 Fahrenheits.
6. Once all the chicken is done and removed from the skillet, add lemon juice to the skillet and mix. (If necessary, melt more butter in the skillet before adding the lemon juice.) Stir the mixture, using a whisk or fork to loosen any bits of meat sticking to the pan.
7. Add capers.
8. Pour sauce over chicken and serve immediately.
*Classic piccata recipes do not necessarily call for capers; they should.
The first veal piccata I had was in a long-gone Italian restaurant in Center City Philadelphia near my hotel at 18th and Market. It contained capers and I loved it. The next time I ordered veal piccata was in a different Italian restaurant on another business trip. It contained no capers and was quite boring.
This is a little breakfast recipe that’s elegant in its simplicity. It’s my spin on a recipe from the Nero Wolf Cookbook.
- 2 link sausages
- 2 eggs
- spices (salt, pepper, paprika, tarragon, chives to taste)
1, Brown sausages in skillet, then drain on a paper towel.
2. Generously butter a shirred egg dish (I use a six-inch cast iron skillet inherited from my mother).
3. Sprinkle with pepper and other spices of choice.
4. Bake 15 minutes in oven preheated to 350 Fahrenheits.
5. Gently slide out of baking dish and serve.
Serve over cheese toast, that is, toast topped with melted cheese.
What distinguishes soda bread from other breads is that baking soda, not baking powder or yeast, is the rising agent. No rising time is required before baking.
There are dozens of recipes across the innerwebs, some very simple, some not so much. Here’s the one I made yesterday, adapted and simplified from this one, which has a silly reliance on electrical appliances so as to seem much more complex than it is.
- 2 cps. white flour
- 2 cps. white whole wheat flour
- 1/8 cp. maple syrup (I’m guessing here. I used my mother’s old measuring standard: “one pour.”)
- 1 tbs. baking soda (Again, I used “one pour.”)
- 1/2 stick butter, softened and cut into pats
- 1 3/4 cps. cultured buttermilk, approx. (read the label, make sure it’s “cultured” and not ersatz)
- 1 egg
1. Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix.
2. Cut in butter until it is thoroughly mixed in.
3. Add egg to buttermilk and beat slightly with a fork or whisk.
4. Stir buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients a bit at a time. (Note: The dough will not mix up into a nice spongy ball like a yeast dough. Rather, it will be wet and a bit sticky. Coat your hands with flour before handling it. Be ready to add a little more flour or buttermilk if needed to produce the required consistency.)
4, As soon as it sticks together, dump it out on a floured board and knead until it consents to holding itself in shape of a loaf, about four or five times. The loaf will be craggy, not smooth like a yeast bread.
6. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake in an oven preheated to 375 Fahrenheits for approximately 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in it comes out clean.
Many years ago, when I bought my first copy of Craig Claiborne’s New York Times Cookbook (I think I’ve worn out two of them and am on my third), I was intrigued by the picture early in the book on page 26 of eggs in aspic.
I finally made them this weekend.
You can watch your Iron Chefs and Food Networks all you want. I prefer cooking to watching others cook.
1 14-oz. pkg. extra firm bean curd, cut into small pieces (approx. 1/2-3/4 inch)
4 oz. (approx.) snow peas, stringed
8 medium mushrooms, quartered
1 stalk celery, sliced (no, not lengthwise)
1 Bell pepper, coarsely chopped (approx. 1/4-1/2 inch)
4 scallions, chopped
Spices of choice to taste. I used approximately
- 1 tbs. ground ginger
- 2 tsp. garlic powder (I was out of fresh garlic, or I’d have minced some up)
- 1 tsp. basil
- 2 tbs. Red Gold Hungarian mild paprika sauce, available from Otto’s Hungarian Deli
- 2 tsp. pepper, freshly ground preferable
1. Prepare ingredients. Placing them separately in little bowls or saucers makes adding them easier, as they are not added all at once. They will be added in a sequence from slowest to fastest to cook.
2. Hear wok or skillet over medium heat until drops of water quickly bead up and evaporate. Add oil (use an oil that is tolerant of higher cooking temperatures, such as grapeseed or rapeseed–er–canola oil).
3. Add one-third or one-half the spices (see the note in item 4.) and allow to cook for a few seconds while stirring.
4. Add bean curd (note: do not add more than will form just one layer–you may to cook it in shifts). Cook until it starts to brown, then reserve it in a warm oven. Repeat as necessary to finish all the bean curd, refreshing the oil and spices before cooking the each batch.
5. Once the bean curd is done and reserved, refresh the oil and spices, then add the scallions, stirring them for three or four minutes.
6. Add the pepper and celery and cook for three or four minutes.
7. Repeat for the mushrooms, then for the snow peas.
8. Add the bean curd and cook, stirring, until it’s thoroughly reheated. Serve over rice.
*Tofu is nothing more than social-climbing bean curd.
This is a good dish for the holidays. It’s simple and easy and it can be prepared ahead of time and baked when the big dinner arrives.
- 1 head cauliflower
- 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese or more
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1 tbs “Red Gold” paprika sauce (available from Otto’s European Deli, where a real live person answers the telphone when you call) or to taste
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder or to taste
- 1/4 tsp pepper or to taste
For the white sauce:
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tbs. butter
- 1 cup flour
1. Wash cauliflower, then core it and remove outer leaves.
2. Steam cauliflower until tender (approx. 10 mins.); allow to cool.
3. Lightly oil 9″ x 6″ (or equivalent) casserole dish.
4. Break cauliflower into florets and place in dish (This is much easier to do after steaming than before)
5. Pour sauce (see below) over cauliflower; stir gently to promote coverage.
6. Sprinkle remaining cheese and bread crumbs on top.
7. Bake approximately 30 mins. at 350 degrees F.
Sauce (this starts with a basic white sauce and then gets interesting–if you can make a white sauce, you can reach the Acme of cooking: be popular; fool your friends):
1. Melt butter in sauce pan, add flour, and saute until flower just starts to brown.
2. Meanwhile bring milk to boil in second sauce pan. Just when the milk starts to boil (it will start to rise up like a volcano erupting), pour milk all at once into flour mixture, stirring rapidly with a whisk. (This is the tricky part: if you pour the milk before it reaches full boil, the sauce will not thicken; too late, and you have to clean the stove.)
3. Stir rapidly until mixture thickens all at once.
4. Add 1/2 cup cheese and other seasonings; stir gently until blended.
I have a new toy, and I’ve been learning to use it. It’s very easy to use, as long as it has been properly seasoned.
Last night I made a variation on this recipe, and it was excellent. The recipe below will feed three or four persons, depending on appetites.
1/2 pound sugar snap peas, with strings removed.
5 large mushrooms (or equivalent smaller fungi), sliced.
3 cloves garlic, minced.
5 spring onions, chopped.
1 pound raw shrimp.
1. Heat wok (you can also use a skillet) until water droplets evaporate in about a second.
2. Add about 1 tbs. oil and allow to heat.
3. Sauté shrimp until pink (about five minutes), stirring frequently (after all, it is a “stir-fry”). Reserve shrimp.
4. Saute onions and garlic for about a minute, then add mushrooms and peas and cook until tender, stirring frequently, until done (about five minutes). (You may need a bit more oil.)
5. Add shrimp and enough teriyaki sauce to coat ingredients lightly (about 3 tbs.). Stir to thoroughly reheat shrimp (about one minute). Serve with rice.
Crumpet rings double as excellent egg rings.
Frankly, I think that’s a better use for them than making crumpets.
Spending $1.79 for a set of skewers was worth it.
Cook for about 15 or 20 minutes on the grill on lowest setting, turning once or twice to ensure even cooking. If you wish, brush them with an Italian or Balsamic Vinegar dressing while they cook.
We served them with these grilled zucchinis. The combination was so good that the same menu was called for an encore two days later.
Prep time for the entire menu, less than five minutes, plus another five to grate the lemon zest (see the link)
Nothing could beat my mother’s scalloped potatoes, nor her macaroni and cheese (to call it “mac and cheese” would dishonor it). Neither dish suffered the crime that such dishes usually suffer–to swim in milk, slowly sogging to mush.
I don’t have her recipes for either and I wish I did.
I made these yesterday. They weren’t as good as my mother’s, but they passed the girlfriend test.
It’s an original recipe, but it’s hardly revolutionary.
6 medium white or red russet potatoes (or 3 large Idahos).
Salt, pepper, and paprika (the real thing, Hungarian paprika from Hungary, not the sad Spanish stuff that passes for paprika in your average American spice rack*).
3 tbs. approx. chopped parsley, fresh, if possible.
Enough thin slices of sharp cheddar cheese to cover.
For the sauce:
2 tbs. butter.
2 tbs. flour.
1/2 cp. milk.
1/2 cp. approx. grated sharp cheddar cheese.
1. Boil the potatoes. Let cool.
2. Grease an 8″x8″ casserole.
3. Slice the potatoes and layer them in the casserole. Lightly sprinkle salt, pepper, paprika on each layer. Add the parsley.
4. Prepare the sauce (a basic white sauce with cheese).
a. Melt the butter in a sauce pan.
b. Brown the flour in the butter, stirring with a whisk.
c. At the same time, bring the milk to a boil over high heat in another sauce pan (this is the tricky part**).
d. As the milk comes to a boil, pour it all at once into the flour/butter mixture.
e. Stir rapidly with the whisk until the mixture thickens.
f. Add the grated cheese and stir until the mixture is smooth.
5. Pour the sauce over the potatoes. Cover with the cheese slices.
6. Bake in a medium oven (350 Fahrenheits) until the cheese is nicely browned.
This is not a dish that must be served as soon as it’s ready. If it’s ready too early, reduce heat to 175 Fahrenheits until ready to serve. If necessary, you can prepare it in advance and reheat it for serving.
*Yes, there is a difference. When the kids were young, ex and I would fix them celery stalks stuffed with cream cheese and covered with your average run-of-the-mill Spanish paprika. We called the paprika “red sprinkles.” Hungarian paprika has flavor–it would never allow itself to be called “red sprinkles”–it would demand to be recognized.
**Making a white sauce can be tricky. You must catch the boiling milk at just the right point, while avoiding burning the flour. This means browning the flour and boiling the milk simultaneously, one eye on each pan. It is best to place them on adjacent burners to avoid eye strain.
When milk reaches the boiling point, it will rise up in the sauce pan all at once as if it is going to erupt like a volcano. The moment it starts the rise up, pour it into the roux and the sauce will thicken properly. Too soon or too late, and the thickening genie goes right back into the bottle.
British cooking is not known for highness of its cuisine.
When I spent my junior year in England, lo! these many moons ago, I fell in love with Indian restaurants, which were as common there as Chinese restaurants were here. The one strictly English dish I really liked was steak and kidney pie.
Be forewarned: the result is very rich.
- 2 1/2 lbs. beef, preferably top sirloin
- 4 veal kidneys (I had one beef kidney weighing about 2 1/2 lbs.)
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cp. butter
- 1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced thin
- 1/4 cp. chopped shallots (I used spring onions)
- 1 tbs. minced garlic
- 1 tbs. dried tarragon
- 1 cp. drained canned tomatoes, quartered (you could also use diced tomatoes)
- 1 cp. dried white wind (I used dry sherry)
- 1 1/2 cps. brown sauce or 1 10 3/4 oz. can beef gravy
- 1 tsp. chopped thyme
- 5 hard-boiled eggs
- Pastry for crust
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbs. water
1. Cut beef into 1″ cubes. Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
2. Cut kidneys similarly.
3. Saute beef in approx. 1/2 the butter. Remove when browned.
4. Saute kidney in the same skillet. Remove when browned.
5. Add remaining butter to the skillet, then add mushrooms. When the mushrooms are limp, add shallots, tarragon, tomatoes, garlic, and wine. Stir in brown sauce and thyme. Bring to a boil, stirring, then simmer for ten minutes or until the meat is tender.
6. Pour the mixture into a 2 1/2 qt. casserole and allow to cool to lukewarm. (I used two 1 1/2 qt. casseroles so I could freeze one.)
7. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Meanwhile, slice the eggs in quarters lengthwise and place them on top of the mixture. Cover with the pie crust, being sure to make a slash so the steam can escape. (My pie crust skills are sorely lacking–the crust broke in a couple of spots.) Brush with beaten egg and water.
8. Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees, then reduce heat to 350 degrees for half an hour or until the crust is nicely browned.