Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Basic Crepes Recipe

2 cups flour
2 T. confectioners sugar
Pinch salt
3 eggs
1-1/2 cups milk
2 T. melted butter or vegetable oil
2 T. cognac or rum

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Beat eggs and add them to the dry ingredients. Mix in the milk, melted butter and cognac gradually to avoid lumps. Strain through a fine sieve and allow batter to stand at least two hours before cooking the crepes. Add a little water if batter is too thick. For each crepe, spoon about 2 tablespoons batter into heated pan, swirling pan to allow batter to cover entire surface evenly; brush a piece of butter around edge of hot pan with the point of a knife and cook over medium heat until just golden, but not brown, about one minute each side. Repeat until all crepes are cooked, stacking them on a plate as they are ready. If crepes are to be filled, cover with wax paper or aluminum foil to prevent drying out. This will make 20 to 24 golden crepes.

Crepes Suzette Filling

4 oz. butter
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 T. grated lemon rind
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange
6 T. Cointreau (you may substitute Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur)
4 T. cognac

Cream butter and confectioners sugar together; add grated lemon and orange rind, orange juice and four tablespoons Cointreau.

When ready to serve: heat butter mixture in a hot chafing dish or electric frying pan for about 5 minutes or until it bubbles and reduces a little. Dip each cooked crepe into the hot mixture, then fold into quarters, using a fork and spoon, and push to one side of the pan. When all crepes are used, sprinkle with a little sugar and add remaining Cointreau and cognac to the pan. Stand well away from the pan and light the liquid with a match. Spoon the flaming liquid over the crepes and serve the sauce as soon as the flames die down.

Apple Crepes Recipe

Simmer three to four apples, peeled and sliced, with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 4 tablespoons brown sugar and 4 tablespoons butter for 15 minutes, or until apples are soft.

Place 1 or 2 tablespoons of apple filling on each crepe; roll up and brown in butter. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Serve warm.

The Kitchen Mouse’s Spanish Menu - Entrees

Originally published July 9, 1984

While Spain has its share of great restaurants, the heart of the cuisine is in the home - partly for economic reasons and partly because of the fantastic (in today’s world) tightness of the family structure. The long lunch period is still observed in Spain, not for gastronomic or health reasons, but because the Spaniards still by and large consider it barbarous for a family not to eat together. The three-hour lunch break is hardly conducive to easy living  when office or shop workers sometimes have to travel and hour each way to get home for lunch and back to work. Except for highly paid executives who could afford to eat in restaurants near their offices, most people do not have the equivalent of the sandwich or hamburger shop (or, needless to say, the company cafeteria) available to American workers. Bringing one’s sandwich to the office is not considered undignified, but anyone who didn’t go home for lunch would be somewhat suspect to being not quite respectable.

Inconvenient as the custom may be, perhaps this is at least a partial explanation of why there appears to be less generation gap in Spain than one is aware of in other parts of the world. While the Spanish family is a patriarchal rather than a democratic unit, the generations do communicate and the family lunch is an important time for the exchange of the trivial news of the day which perhaps keeps the lines of communication open better than when they are reserved for major crises.

While the Kitchen Mouse does not wish to start a home-for-lunch movement or to emulate the Spanish family structure in other ways, I am a little wistfully envious of the Basque eating clubs. Each club consists of anywhere from 40 to 200 members, all of whom contribute to the cooking. There are no social lines. The same club will have tradesmen and lawyers on its roster, the only discrimination - alas, the clubs are reserved for men only.

Buen Prevecho, Amigos!

Arroz Graneado - Spanish Rice Recipe

Most Spanish rice is laced with tomatoes. This is the recipe which most families use in Spain. Serves four.

2 T. oil
1 clove garlic
1 cup long-grain rice
2 cups water
1 t. lemon juice
Salt to taste

V.S.P. Brown whole clove of garlic in oil, add rice and sauté until golden. Add the boiling water, lemon juice and salt to taste. Boil 5 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15 minutes longer. Rice should be dry with loose grains. If you like, add diced tomatoes just before serving. Serve with roast or chops.

Albondigon Festivo - Festive Meatloaf Recipe

This festive meatloaf may be served hot or cold. Serves eight.

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground veal
1/4 lb. ground pork
1 egg
2 slices of bread, soaked in milk, then squeezed
2 T. finely minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 slice green pepper, chopped
1 t. salt
1/2 t. paprika
2 T . oil
2 T. flour

Step 1. In the oil, sauté onion, garlic and green pepper until tender and remove from heat. Mix well with meat. Add the squeezed bread, egg salt and pepper and knead it well with your hands. Prepare filling (see next recipe).

Step 2. Dust the table with flour. Pat down the meat to make a rectangle. Arrange the filling in the center. Fold the bottom third of the meat rectangle over the middle third, then fold the top third over all.

Step 3. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large frying pan. Carefully lift the meatloaf from the table and sauté the bottom part slowly until you have a golden crust. With the aid of a spatula, turn the loaf over. Brown the other side. Tilting the pan, remove excess fat and add the tomato sauce (see sauce recipe below).

Step 4. Simmer, covered, very slowly one hour, basting over with tomato sauce and lifting the loaf once in a while with the spatula so it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Serve hot, sliced, with mashed potatoes, noodles or rice, and the sauce in a sauceboat.

The Filling:
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
3 anchovy filets
1/2 cup pitted sliced olives
2 pimentos cut in halves
1 T. minced parsley or bacon bits

V.S.P. Mix all ingredients thoroughly and use as filling in above meatloaf recipe.

The Sauce:
2 cups plain canned tomato sauce
1/2 onion, minced
1/2 green pepper, minced
Salt to taste

V.S.P. Mix all ingredients thoroughly, heat lightly to blend and use as sauce for meatloaf.

Ropa Vieja - Leftovers Recipe

An excellent way to use leftover meat. Ropa vieja translates into English as “old clothes”. Serves six.

2 large onions, sliced
2 cups cooked tomatoes
5 pimentos, sliced
1 lb. leftover roast meat, cut in strips
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T. olive oil
Pinch each of oregano, parsley and marjoram

V.S.P. Brown onions in oil. Add tomatoes, pimentos and the meat. add herbs and seasonings. Cook slowly for 30 minutes. Garnish with croutons and serve hot.

Lomo de Cerdo con Salsa de Nueces - Pork with Walnut Sauce Recipe

Every pork lover must try this recipe. Serves 6.

2 lbs. pork tenderloin
2 to 3 t. salt
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1 T. olive oil
1 cup water
Walnut sauce (next recipe)

V.S.P. Trim off all the fat from the loin and chop the fat fine. Place the fat in a heavy pan with the olive oil and heat over low flame until all the fat melts. Rub meat well with salt and garlic and sauté the loin slowly until golden on all sides. Add water and simmer, covered, until tender, basting meat often with its own juices. Remove from fire, keeping it hot. Pour off half of juices for walnut sauce.

To serve, slice loin very thin. Pour remaining juices over meat. Serve with French fried potatoes and the walnut sauce in a gravy boat.

Salsa de Nueces - Walnut Sauce
12 walnuts, shelled and peeled
1/2 cup milk

V.S.P. Mash walnuts in mortar, moistening with a few drops water. When you have a fine paste, place in a small pot with milk, and boil for 2 minutes. Remove half the juices from the meat, skim off fat and add juices to walnut sauce, simmering five more minutes. Keep it hot without allowing it to boil.

Lomo de Cerdo al Estilo Vasco - Basque-Style Pork Loin Recipe

Pork loin Basque-style is another dish for pork lovers. This dish serves four.

A 2-lb. pork loin, in one piece
1 oz. butter or margarine
1 oz. lard
1 cup milk
3 cloves garlic
Salt and white pepper to taste

V.S.P. Dry the loin well with paper toweling. Season with salt and pepper and rub well with the garlic. Melt the butter and lard in a heavy pan. Add the loin and sauté all over until golden brown. Cover with milk and add some more white pepper. Let it simmer very slowly until milk changes color and the sauce gets thick. Correct seasonings. Slice meat finely and serve with the sauce piping hot.

The Kitchen Mouse’s Spanish Menu - Appetizers and Cold Soups

Originally published July 5, 1984

A holiday in Spain is called “fiesta”, and just as we associate certain foods with certain holidays, so do the Spanish. Christmas with its fruitcake and plum pudding has its counterpart in Navidad with its Roscon, a sweet type of bread baked in a ring, and turron, a candy made with almonds. No holiday could be complete without these interesting accompaniments. New Year’s Eve (noche vieja) when everybody must eat 12 grapes, one on each strike of midnight, and drink champagne; New Years Day (Ano Nuevo) with pavo (turkey) and a wide variety of traditional food, which varies from region to region.

But “fiesta” also means a party, and we usually think of them as gay occasions with colorful costumes, dancing and singing in the streets - and of course eating and drinking. This type of celebration is found in the local fiestas rather than in the nationwide holidays. Every Spanish town or village, large or small, has its own local fiesta, sometimes more than one, to celebrate its patron saint’s day or to commemorate some historical happening. These fiestas always have two phases - the solemn, religious and official ceremonies in which everyone takes part, then the merrymaking with processions, folk-dancing and music. At this time, the traditional costumes are worn. There is feasting, with emphasis on eating some traditional dish associated with the fiesta, and in general as the Spanish say “tiran la casa por la ventana” - they throw the house out the window.

The recipes in this column are all completely authentic, and have been especially selected to give a true sample of Old World Spanish cooking in all its splendor and variety. Again, the Kitchen Mouse has selected recipes which will not require hard-to-find ingredients.

Buen provecho, amigos - good appetite, friends.

Gazpacho - Cold Soup
When the Roman soldiers gave Christ upon the cross a sponge wet with vinegar and water, they were offering him the “canteen” of the Roman army (a sponge) and the normal soldier’s field drink, posca - water and vinegar. Each soldier was issued a sponge - placed moist inside his helmet, it helped overcome the heat and absorbed the shock of blows on the head. It also held the liquid with which he refreshed himself when thirsty. The vinegar added to the water to make posca purified the water. Soldiers used this beverage during years of campaigning and continued to use it after retirement. Spain was largely settled by retired soldiers.

The first known recipe for gazpacho was simply made with water, vinegar, garlic, bread and onion. Another dish, gazpachillo, was eggs poached in water and vinegar. In the modern Spanish cuisine there are at least 40 different recipes for gazpacho. The imagination of the cook has led to many experiments that have resulted in many successful combinations. Tomato, for example, one of the modern recipe’s basic ingredients, was added after the discovery of America.

Empanadas Fritas - Fried Empanadas Recipe

Meat turnovers are a traditional Spanish appetizer. Yields about 40 turnovers.

For dough-
3/4 cup lard or shortening
1 T. salt
3/4 cup hot water

V.S.P. Cut shortening into flour. Dissolve salt in water and add to flour mixture. On a floured pastry board, roll out the dough as thin as possible. Cut circles about 3-1/2 to 4 inches in diameter out of the pastry. Put about 1 tablespoon of filling on each round. Pinch edges or crimp them with a fork. Fry in deep oil at 380 degrees. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

For filling:
2 T. oil
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
60 medium pitted olives
2 T. raisins
1 t. paprika

V.S.P. Sauté the onions with the pork. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. At this point, when you have removed filling from the stove, you can add 1 chopped hard-cooked egg to the filling if you wish.

Champinones al Gratin - Mushrooms au Gratin Recipe

Mushrooms au gratin are delicious and are best when made with Michigan mushrooms. This will serve six.

1 lb. mushrooms
2 T. fine bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Salt to taste
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1 T. oil
1 cup dry white wine
1 t. butter
Stock, if necessary

V.S.P. Wash the mushrooms under cold running water. Remove and chop the stems. Mix with the parsley and bread crumbs. Lay mushroom heads down in a buttered baking dish and cover with the mixed ingredients. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the oil. Pour in the wine and bake in a 350 degree oven about 20 minutes. If the wine evaporates too quickly, add some beef or chicken stock. Serve.

Champinones en Escabeche - Pickled Mushroom Recipe

Pickled mushrooms are ideal for whenever you entertain. Serves four or five.

1 lb. mushrooms
1 large bay leaf
12 peppercorns
2 cloves garlic
1-1/2 t. salt
3 cups vinegar

V.S.P. Wipe mushrooms well with a cloth. Heat vinegar until warm. Put mushrooms in a glass jar, and add spices, garlic and vinegar. Cover jar and refrigerate 2 days. Serve.

Gazpacho Imperial Recipe

The Kitchen Mouse, being a very lazy chef, enjoys putting this soup together for three or four friends.

1 lb. ripe tomatoes
1/2 cucumber
1 clove garlic
1 T. vinegar
2 cups cold water
1 T. oil
1/4 cup soft bread crumbs
1 cup cream or half-and-half
Salt to taste

V.S.P. Place all the ingredients except the cream and salt in a blender and blend for 2 minutes at high speed. Chill well. When ready to serve, add the salt and cream.

Sopa Fria de Pepinos - Cucumber Soup Recipe

Cold cucumber soup will be handy whenever your garden has cucumbers. Serves four.

4 cups chicken broth
4 T. dry sherry
1 large cucumber, diced
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt to taste

V.S.P. Chill the chicken broth and skim all fat from the surface. Add the sherry, cucumber and seasonings and chill at least one hour before serving. Serve in soup bowls.

The Kitchen Mouse’s Spanish Menu - Soup, Egg & Rice Dishes

Originally published July 3, 1984

Spain is different! So say the tourist posters. And the Kitchen Mouse will add marvelously different. Spanish cooking too is different, as different as a Flamenco dancer - full of color, vibrant, natural and always interesting. It has its roots deep in antiquity, and has been influenced by the many peoples that have passed through the land: Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Goths, Arabs, Jews and many others, each of whom has left its own distinctive mark on Spanish food and eating habits. Then too, the cuisine has been affected by Spain’s extensive contacts with the New World. But is has always retained its own zesty individuality: what has been adopted has been adapted.

Cocidos - Soups
Soup, in any of its many variations, is particularly good for a busy day - it is simple to make, requires little attention while it is cooking, and it is a whole meal. Further, it is a budget stretcher, as it uses the cheapest cuts of meat and you can take advantage of vegetables and meats that are in season and easily adapt these recipes to use leftovers.

Arroz - Rice
Paella is undoubtedly the star of Spanish cooking, the dish best known outside the country and the one that has done the most to spread the gastronomic fame of Spain. This succulent combination of rice, chicken and seafood exists in many variations and is the subject of numerous recipes. It is a native of Valencia on the Mediterranean coast, where every chef has his own closely guarded secret formula for preparing it, as has every housewife. Nonetheless, in many restaurants that are famous for their paella you go to the dining room by first passing through the kitchen, where you can watch these expert cooks making it. And still not learn their secrets.

However, paella is basically a simple and not at all complicated to make but it is demanding and requires the proper ingredients, utensils and procedure.

Olla Gitano - Vegetable Soup Recipe

This “Gypsy Pot” is ideal whenever your garden begins to yield some vegetables. Makes six servings.

2 quarts water
1/2 lb. string beans
1 parsnip
1 eggplant, chopped
1 squash or zucchini, chopped
2 medium potatoes, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 T. oil
1 T. flour
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
Salt to taste

V.S.P. Cook strings beans and parsnip in water. Add salt to taste. When those vegetables are done, add the eggplant, squash and potatoes. Sauté the onion in the oil until golden brown. Add the tomatoes and sauté with the onion for 2 more minutes. Blend in the flour. Add this mixture to the soup. Continue cooking for one more hour. The liquid in the pot should be thick. Serve in a tureen.

Cocido de Judias Blancas - White Bean Stew Recipe

Judias means Jewish, and as in many other cases, the language testifies to one of the many influences that have formed Spanish cuisine. Using our native Michigan navy beans you can serve eight people with this recipe.

1 lb. navy beans
4 oz. bacon
6 oz. chorizo or hot Italian sausage
1 ham hock
Salt to taste
1 small onion
1 carrot
1 lb. potatoes
1 lb. chopped cabbage

V.S.P. Soak beans overnight, rinse under cold water and put in a large pot. Add bacon, ham hock, sausage and enough water to cover all ingredients well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and siimmer one hour. Add onion, salt and carrot: continue cooking one more hour. If bacon and sausage are cooked, remove to a side dish and keep warm. Add peeled, whole potatoes and cook until done. In a separate pot, cook the cabbage. Serve the beans and cabbage garnished with slices of bacon and sausage.

Huevos a la Romana - Roman Eggs Recipe

This is an ideal dish for brunch. Serves six.

6 hard-boiled eggs
3 T. butter, divided in two
1-1/2 oz. flour
6 oz. tomato sauce
2 cups milk
2 T. grated cheese

V.S.P. Cut eggs lengthwise in halves. Remove the yolks and mash well. Make a béchamel sauce with the flour, milk and half the butter. Reserve half the sauce. To the remaining sauce in the pan, add the egg yolks, mix well and stuff back into the egg whites. Place eggs in buttered baking dish. Mix the other half of the béchamel with the tomato sauce. Correct seasoning and pour over the eggs. Dot with remaining butter, sprinkle with cheese and bake in a 475 degree oven for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Huevos con Anillos de Cebolla - Eggs with Onion Rings Recipe

Eggs with onion rings can be used as a luncheon main dish or for that special brunch.

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
1 onion, cut into rings
1/4 cup flour
Oil for deep frying
Salt to taste

V.S.P. Soak onion rings in milk mixed with 1/2 cup oil. Dip in flour and fry in deep oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Serve with fried eggs.

Huevos al Nidos - Eggs in Nests Recipe

Another interesting method of serving eggs. Serves six.

6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup oil for frying
1 loaf of bread, unsliced
Salt and pepper to taste

V.S.P. Cut the bread in 2-inch thick slices. Scoop out the center of each slice and soak quickly in milk. Heat oil in frying pan and when it starts to sizzle, fry the bread, at the same time breaking one egg inside each “nest”. The bread should be fried by the time the egg is cooked. Season egg and serve immediately.

Paella Valenciana Recipe

This will serve six and is well worth the effort and expense.

2 broiler-fryer chickens, cut up
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. coarsely ground pepper
2 or 3 clove garlic
1 chorizo or Italian sausage
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cups uncooked long-grain rice
1 16-oz. can tomatoes, with juice
1 10.5-oz. can whole clams
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 t. saffron
1 lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 large green pepper, diced
1 (4-oz.) can pimentos, diced
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
Chopped parsley for garnish

Brown chicken pieces in oil until skin is crisp and golden. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. With garlic press, squeeze garlic over chicken. Place chicken in a 4-quart baking dish or Dutch oven.

Slice sausage 1/2-inch thick. Brown sausage in oil left in skillet. Add slices to baking dish. Cook onions in skillet until soft but not brown; add to baking dish.

Combine rice, tomatoes, juice from clams, chicken broth and saffron; mix well; turn into baking dish. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Halve clams; add to baking dish with shrimp, green pepper, pimentos and peas. Stir well. Add more chicken broth if necessary. Cover and bake 30 minutes longer. Serve on platter garnished with chopped fresh parsley.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe

Great with pork balls, chicken and shrimp.
1 15-oz. can pineapple chunks
2 small carrots
1 green pepper
1 T. corn starch
1 T. brown sugar
2 or 3 t. soy sauce
2 T. vegetable oil
2 to 3 T. white vinegar
3 to 4 sweet pickles, sliced

Drain the pineapple chunks, reserving juice. Peel and slice carrots thinly; slice green pepper and remove seeds and membrane. Simmer vegetables gently in pineapple juice for 5 minutes or until tender. Mix cornstarch, brown sugar, soy sauce, oil and vinegar together until smooth and stir into vegetables. Cook for 3 minutes. Add pineapple chunks and sliced pickles to pork balls and serve hot.

Pork Ball Recipe

1-1/4 lbs. minced fresh pork
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 t. salt
1 T. dry sherry
1 T. soy sauce
Oil for frying

Combine minced pork and garlic. Season with salt, sherry and soy sauce. Form meat mixture into small balls about the size of walnuts. Sauté in hot oil for about 5 minutes on each side. Remove pork balls to a serving dish with previously prepared sweet and sour sauce. Serves 4 or 5.

Hsing Jen Chi Ting - Cantonese Chicken Recipe

Chicken and vegetable dish the Kitchen Mouse makes for his children and friends.
3 T. vegetable oil
1/2 t. salt
2 cups diced raw chicken
2 T. soy sauce
1 cup cooked peas
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup canned mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
1 T. cornstarch
1/4 cold water
1/2 cup toasted almonds (optional)

Step 1. Heat oil and salt in an electric frying pan or wok; when oil is very hot add chicken and sauté for 3 minutes. Add soy sauce and stir well.

Step 2. Add celery mushrooms, peas and boiling water very slowly. Mix cornstarch with cold water and add to wok. When the gravy has thickened and become clear, remove from heat and transfer to a shallow serving plate. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Serve very hot with a side of plain or fried rice. Serves 5 or 6.

Chi Tan T’ang - Egg Drop Soup Recipe

Very easy to make and it is usually enjoyed by everyone.
2 T. cornstarch
6 cups chicken broth
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. white vinegar
1/4 t. pepper
1 scallion, minced
3 eggs, beaten

In a large saucepan mix cornstarch with a small amount of cold chicken broth. Add remaining broth and other ingredients except eggs. Bring to a boil and simmer until clear, stirring occasionally. Gradually drizzle eggs into the soup, stirring slowly, season to taste, and serve at once.

Shrimp Ball Soup Recipe

Whenever The Kitchen Mouse makes this soup, he keeps the cost reasonable by using the small tiny shrimp which are available in the local supermarkets.

1/2 lb. shrimp, shelled, deveined and finely chopped with 2 T. water
1 t. dry sherry
1/2 t. salt
1 T. cornstarch
5 cups chicken broth
4 leaves Chinese cabbage, cut in 3-inch strips
1 t. salt
1 T. dry sherry
Dash pepper

Mix the shrimp with 1 t. dry sherry, 1/2 t. salt and 1 T. cornstarch. With wet hands, form walnut-size balls with about 1 T. mixture. Set aside.

Bring chicken broth to a boil, add shrimp balls and Chinese cabbage. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add 1 t. salt, 1 T. sherry and pepper to taste. Serve hot. Serve 4 or 5.

Strawberry - An International Berry

Originally published June 28, 1984

From time to time admirers of the marigold have tried to interest legislators in naming that colorful bloom America’s national flower, and the maple, because of it’s beneficial sap, has been put forth as the worthiest candidate for a national tree. But none, so far as I know, has ever lobbied on behalf of a national berry. This is the time of the year which is the best season for the gathering and nomination of the ripe strawberry as the favorite American berry.

As a start we might consider several aspects of the strawberry’s pedigree when we proceed to nominate it for this honor. When the Colonists arrived in the New World they found strawberries of unsurpassed fragrance and sweetness in unbelievable abundance. “We can not set down foote but tred on strawberrie” reported an Englishman from the wild strawberry fields of Maryland. Wild strawberry carpets, though rare, still occur in a few out of the way places and still cause delighted amazement. Today, strawberries are grown in almost every state of the Union and it is truly the national berry.

Most of all, its contribution to classic American dishes makes the strawberry a sentimental favorite. What could be more authentically American than strawberry shortcake made with hot buttered biscuits (never sponge cake) slathered with crushed  and sugared berries and drifts of whipped cream? Or hand-churned strawberry ice cream made the American way - just cream, sugar and the ripest, juiciest berries one can find?

Erdbeercreme - German Strawberries and Cream Recipe

From Germany, this dessert of strawberries and cream will become your favorite dessert. Serves six.

1 quart ripe strawberries
1/2 cup sugar or to taste
1 envelope plus 1 t. unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten

V.S.P. Wash, hull and dry strawberries. Puree through a sieve or in a blender. Beat sugar into puree until it is sweet enough. Pour in milk and mix thoroughly with puree. Soften gelatin in cold water and then set over hot water until completely dissolved. Beat quickly into milk puree mixture, which should be at room temperature or a little warmer. (If it is not, set it over hot water for 2 or 3 minutes). When gelatin is well blended with milk mixture, chill. When thickened and just beginning to set, fold in whipped cream and beaten egg whites, gently but thoroughly, using a rubber spatula. Turn into a glass serving bowl and chill until set. Serve.

Red Fruit Pudding Recipe

This dessert is from Denmark and it is usually made with frozen strawberries. Serves five or six.

2 10-oz. pkgs. frozen strawberries, thawed
2 10-oz. pkgs. frozen raspberries, thawed
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 T. lemon juice
1/3 cup blanched, slivered almonds

Step 1. Combine the berries in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Strain in a sieve or puree in a blender.

Step 2. Combine the cornstarch and water to make a smooth paste. Bring the fruit back to the boiling point. Stir the cornstarch into the fruit, then bring to a boil and cook three minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 3. Remove the mixture from the heat and blend in the lemon juice. Pour into a glass serving dish and sprinkle the top with a little sugar. Before serving, decorate with the slivered almonds. Serve with cream.

Crema de Freson - Spanish Strawberry Cream Recipe

This very simple strawberry dessert is from Spain. Serves six.

1 T. plain gelatin
2 T. water
1-1/2 cups crushed strawberries
1 T. lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup cream, whipped

V.S.P. Soak gelatin in cold water, about 5 minutes. Place over hot water and stir until dissolved. Add strawberries, salt, lemon juice and sugar and stir until well blended. Chill until almost set. Fold whipped cream into gelatin mixture. Pour into six glasses and chill until firm. Garnish servings with whipped cream or whole strawberries.

Strawberries Romanoff Recipe

A very Russian name for a very French dessert. Serves four.

1 pint strawberries, washed and hulled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 T. orange liqueur
1/2 pint vanilla ice cream
1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Step 1. Put the strawberries in a bowl with the orange juice and liqueur. Let stand several hours, refrigerated.

Step 2. Divide the ice cream into serving dishes. Allow the ice cream to soften until it settles evenly, then place in the freezer.

Step 3. To assemble dessert, arrange strawberries on top of the ice cream, then top with whipped cream. Serve.

Strawberries Chantilly Recipe

Very easy to prepare but very difficult to pass up. Serves 6.

1 quart strawberries, washed and hulled
1/3 cup superfine sugar
1 cup heavy cream
3 T. kirsch
Plain cake, baked in a 10-inch tube pan

V.S.P. Hull and halve the strawberries. Ten minutes before serving time, add the sugar to strawberries. Just before serving, whip the cream, add the kirsch and fold in the berries. Pile in the center of the cake and serve.

Strawberries Jubilee Recipe

A lovely strawberry sauce and ice cream, served in dramatic fashion. Have everything ready before proceeding. Makes six servings.

1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
2 t. arrowroot or cornstarch
1 pint strawberries, washed and hulled
1/4 cup kirsch
1 quart vanilla ice cream

V.S.P. Mix the water, sugar and arrowroot. Heat, stirring, to a boil and add the strawberries. Return to a boil, stirring only enough to blend. Add the kirsch and ignite. Serve the flaming sauce over the ice cream.

Strawberries a la Nino Recipe

Four servings of a very attractive dessert.

28 fresh strawberries
2 oz. tawny port
4 canned figs
3 oz. kirsch
2 cups sweetened whipped cream
4 scoops vanilla ice cream
4 macaroons
2 t. orange flavored liqueur

Step 1. Wash and hull strawberries. Pierce them with a fork so they will absorb the wine and pour the port over the strawberries. Chill for at least one hour.

Step 2. Remove strawberries from refrigerator, add figs and partially crush. Add the kirsch and mix. Add the whipped cream and mix again. Add the ice cream and stir just enough to blend in the other ingredients.

Step 3. Transfer the mixture to four individual glasses or a deep dessert dish. Crush the macaroons and sprinkle over the dessert. Sprinkle the liqueur over the macaroons and serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Salad Days

Originally published June 25, 1984

Salads have an important place in our daily fare. The simple green salad is served at dinner, separating  the soup course and the meat course.

The important dinners call for a salad and a platter of assorted cheeses, especially if the dessert may take a while.

During the warmer months, many include a green salad at every meal and also enjoy salads which travel well for outings.

Rice and Seafood Salad Recipe

This is a very French salad which we have been enjoying for years. Serves 6 to 8.

18 oz. frozen salad shrimp
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 t. turmeric
2 cups chicken broth
10 black olives
Salt and pepper to taste
2 red pimentos
12 small fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup French dressing
Crisp lettuce for garnish

V.S.P. Fully defrost the shrimp. Cook the rice in the usual way, substituting the chicken broth for water and adding the turmeric. Cook rice until chicken broth is absorbed and rice is fluffy. Allow to cool.

Pit and slice the olives; cut pimentos in strips. Cook mushrooms and garlic in olive oil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Mix all ingredients lightly together, mixing in the oil and garlic the mushrooms were cooked in. Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream and French dressing, then mix into the salad. Chill in a round bowl 1-1/2 hours and then unmold and decorate with crisp lettuce. The turmeric gives the rice a yellow color and is especially attractive with the shrimp.

Micheliner’s Rice Salad Recipe

This very simple rice salad is from Paris. Inexpensive, good for everyone and all will enjoy it. Serves 5 or 6.

1 cup uncooked long grain rice
2 cups chicken broth
2 tomatoes, skinned and seeded
7 oz. can tuna
Black olives, pitted and halved
Salt and pepper to taste
2 or 3 T. olive oil
Lettuce for garnish

V.S.P. Cook the rice in the chicken broth, covered, until the liquid is absorbed. Allow to cool. Cut the tomatoes in rather small cubes. Lightly mix all the ingredients with the rice and moisten with the olive oil. Line a bowl with crisp lettuce. Fill it with the rice salad and serve cold.

Cabbage Salad Recipe

This is another great salad and certainly more attractive than everyday slaw. Serves 5 or 6.

3 or 4 cups shredded cabbage
1-1/2 cups seedless grapes
1 large pear, sliced
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t. anise seed
1 T. honey
2 T. lemon juice

V.S.P. Shred the cabbage quite fine on a disc shredder or with a sharp knife. For the dressing, mix the sour cream, anise seed, honey, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss the cabbage in a large bowl with the grapes, shredded carrots, sliced pear and moisten with the dressing. Serve cold.

Mandarin-Walnut Toss - Salad Recipe

A very refreshing salad. Serves 7 or 8.

8 cups torn lettuce
2 cups Mandarin orange sections, drained
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup vinegar
2 T. water
1 medium onion, sliced
1 T. sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t. celery seeds
1/2 t. salt
Dash of pepper
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1 T. butter
1/4 t. salt

V.S.P. Place lettuce and mandarin orange sections in salad bowl; chill. Place olive oil, vinegar, water, onion, sugar, garlic, celery seeds, salt and pepper in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and chill. Just before serving, pour dressing over lettuce and mandarin orange sections; toss well. Sauté walnuts in butter and salt. Stir until walnuts are crisp and butter browned. Sprinkle over salad and serve.

Spinach Salad Recipe

This makes a beautiful salad for use at any time. Serves six.

1 lb. fresh spinach
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 T. lemon juice
6 T. olive oil
Black pepper
2 hard-cooked eggs, cut into wedges
1 large ripe tomato, cut into wedges
1/2 red onion, sliced thin

Step 1. Wash the spinach well in plenty of clear water. Using scissors, cut away the rough stems and discard. Drain the spinach leaves and chill in a damp, clean cloth. Tear into bite-sized pieces.

Step 2. Sprinkle the bottom of a salad bowl with salt and rub with garlic. Add lemon juice and olive oil and chill the bowl. When ready to serve, add the spinach and sprinkle with pepper. Garnish with egg and tomato wedges and onion rings and toss lightly with a fork and spoon. Serve.

Niçoise Salad Recipe

Nicoise means "in the style of Nice (a french city). This salad is just as French as any salad can be. Serves six.

1 head Boston lettuce
1/2 to 3/4 cup French dressing
2 cups French-cut green beans, cooked
2 cups cooked potatoes, cubed
1 cup canned tuna
2 or 3 tomatoes, peeled and quartered
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
6 anchovies, cut in half
1 T. minced fresh parsley

V.S.P. Clean the lettuce and break into pieces, dry and put into a salad bowl. Sprinkle with a few tablespoons of the dressing. Arrange the beans, potatoes and tuna on top of the greens, and place the tomatoes here and there arouns the edge. Decorate with eggs and anchovies. Pour over the remaining dressing and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Serve.

Basic French Dressing

Makes one and a third cups.

1/3 cup wine or cider vinegar
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 cup olive oil

V.S.P. Mix the vinegar, salt and pepper, and stir well. Add the oil slowly while beating. Serve.

French Dressing II

This is the usual choice of The Kitchen Mouse.

1/4 cup wine vinegar
3/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 t. sugar
1/4 t. paprika
1/2 t. dry mustard
1 cup olive oil

V.S.P. Mix the vinegar with the seasonings. Mix in the olive oil slowly, beating constantly. This may be made with your favorite salad oil.

Let’s Put a Cherry On It!

Originally published June 21, 1984

The Kitchen Mouse has been seeing many fine looking cherries being offered for sale in the local markets and this is certainly the best time to purchase and use them.

There are many different varieties of cherries which are cultivated in all parts of the temperate zone and belong to one or the other of the two main varieties of sour or sweet cherries. The most extensively cultivated of the sour cherries are the amarelles, which grow widely in Sweden, the morelles and damascas. Among the sweet cherries are the geans or quignes, the hearts or bigarreaux, and the dukes.

The sweet cherry tree is a variety of the wild cherry. It originates from Greece and the East where it has been grown for centuries. There are many varieties of the American cherry, all edible and ranging in color from light yellow to dark purple and in flavor from tart to sweet. In addition to their many uses, they are also a staple in making pemmican by many tribes of the plains states.

Cherries are refreshing and highly esteemed as fruit and they can be eaten raw or cooked.

Slatko or Glyko - Cherry Preserves Recipe

Slatko is a big thing in Yugoslavia [Editor's note: The former Yugoslavia is now Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia] and Greece, where its called glyko. No matter where you go, sooner or later your host will bring out Turkish coffee and a tray with a small bowl of slatko, a small plate, a glass of water and a spoon. You help yourself to a spoonful of jam from the bowl, return the spoon to the plate, drink a little water to clear your mouth and then you drink the coffee.

Slatko can be made with almost any fruit, but this one with sweet cherries is most popular. Makes two 12-oz. jars.

2 lbs. dark sweet cherries
1-1/2 lbs. sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Step 1. Wash and stone the cherries, keeping them as whole as possible. Collect all the cherry juice as you work. Reserve a handful of stones and tie them up in a cheesecloth bag.

Step 2. Place the pitted cherries, cherry juice and cheesecloth bag in a heavy stainless steel kettle or pot and bring slowly to a boil and cook 2 or 3 minutes. Add the sugar and cook, stirring until dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook until the syrup thickens. Stir in the lemon juice. Continue cooking for 5 more minutes or until syrup sets. Remove the cheesecloth bag and discard. Pour hot jam into hot sterilized jars and seal. Cool before using.

Pickled Cherries, Peaches or Plums Recipe

This recipe is from Grandmother Mouse and is dated 1860. This should be served with a roast.

7 lbs. fruit (cherries, peaches or plums)
1 oz. ground cinnamon
1 oz. allspice
1/4 oz. whole cloves
3 lbs. sugar
1 quart cider vinegar

Step 1. Wash the fruit well, prick the cherries and the plums with a long sharp needle. Peel the peaches.

Step 2. Tie the spices in a small cheesecloth bag loosely. The peaches may be pierced with the cloves. Combine the sugar, vinegar and spice bag in a large stainless steel pot until dissolved. Simmer over low heat until it comes to a boil. Skim it. Line a colander with a piece of clean, dampened cheesecloth. Remove the spice bag and pour the liquid through the colander, return to pot and boil again. Pour over the fruit in a glass bowl.

Step 3. Let stand for 24 hours. Pour off the juice, bring to a boil and pour over the fruit again. Let stand 24 hours. Bring the fruit and liquid to a boil, turn off heat and let cool. When cool, pour into a stone crock, cover tightly and keep in a cool, dry place.

After the second boiling, taste may indicate you can discard the spice bag.

Cherries Jubilee Recipe

Like Crepes Suzette, Cherries Jubilee gives the chef an opportunity to show off his skill at the table. They are also a fine dessert and an extremely simple one. Furthermore, they flame like Hell itself. Serves eight.

1 24-oz. can Bing cherries
1/4 cup cognac
1/2 cup 151-proof rum
1 quart vanilla ice cream

V.S.P. Drain the cherries and discard the juice. Place the cherries in the blazer pan of a chafing dish. Pour the cognac and rum over them, cover, bring slowly to a simmer. While the liquor is heating, serve the ice cream in 6 individual serving dishes. As soon ass the liquor has started to simmer, uncover pan, stand back and set contents ablaze. Let the liquid burn for a few seconds while you spoon it over the cherries. Ladle a goodly quantity of the cherries and flaming liquid over the ice cream and serve at once. Devil’s food cake is the obvious accompaniment to this devilishly good dessert.

Fresh Cherry Strudel Recipe

This authentic German strudel is made with Greek phyllo pastry, however the filling will give your dessert a German accent. Serves 10 to 12.

1 lb. phyllo pastry
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 t. grated lemon peel
1 cup dry UNFLAVORED bread crumbs
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 cup finely chopped walnut
1/2 t. almond extract
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
Confectioner’s sugar

Step 1. Unwrap the phyllo pastry and allow it to fully thaw, covered with a moist towel while you prepare filling.

Step 2. In a small bowl combine granulated sugar, lemon peel, bread crumbs, cinnamon, walnuts, almond extract and 1/4 cup butter; toss lightly.

Step 3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a large cookie sheet.

Step 4. Sprinkle half of crumb mixture over one-quarter of pastry sheets. Spoon cherries evenly over crumb mixture; top with rest of crumbs.

Step 5. From filling side, roll up pastry loosely, jelly-roll fashion, using cloth to roll it along.

Step 6. Roll strudel onto prepared cookie sheet: turn seam side down.

Step 7. Bend into horseshoe shape; tuck in ends to seal. Brush entire surface with 1 tablespoon melted butter.

Step 8. Bake 40 minutes, or until golden brown, brushing occasionally with rest of butter.

Step 9. Remove to wire rack to cool. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Chilled Cherry Soup Recipe

Cold fruit soups are not for every palate but those who admire them usually praise this one. Try this recipe on a very hot day. Serves six.

1/2 cup seedless raisins
6 thin slices orange
6 thin slices lemon
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 stick cinnamon
2 cups water
2 cups sliced fresh peaches
1-1/2 cups pitted sweet or sour cherries
1/2 cup sugar, more or less
Dash of salt
1-1/2 T. cornstarch
Whipped cream

Step 1. Put raisins, orange and lemon slices, lemon juice, cinnamon stick and water in a saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick.

Step 2. Add the peaches, cherries, sugar and salt to the mixture and bring to a boil.

Step 3. Add the cornstarch mixed with a little water to the fruit. Cook, stirring, until clear, about 1 minute. Adjust the seasoning, adding more if sour cherries are used. Serve chilled, garnish with whipped cream.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Traditional Italian Polenta Recipe

4 cups yellow cornmeal
1-1/2 t. salt
3 quarts boiling water, or more, as needed

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil with the salt in a large saucepan. Bring another quart of water to a boil in another pan; this will be needed later as cooking proceeds.  As soon as the water boils, add 2-1/2 cups of cornmeal, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Traditionally, the stirring is clockwise only. Reduce the heat. As the polenta thickens, add a little more boiling water. After 15 minutes, add the remaining cornmeal and continue stirring and cooking, adding water when it becomes too thick. The polenta should cook for about one hour; it will be more digestible and lose any underlying bitterness if the cooking can be extended that long. However, it is cooked when it comes easily away from the sides of the pan.

The polenta may be enjoyed soft and very hot, accompanied by any number of sauces or garnishes; or it may be allowed to cool and harden, cut into various shapes, sprinkled with butter and grated parmesan cheese, arranged in layers with various fillings between and baked, etc. The sliced, hardened polenta may be substituted for bread, especially when it is accompanied by a good gravy or a dish of braised meat. Served with your favorite pasta sauce and roast pork, this will be popular with the men.

Canadian Johnny Cake Recipe

Mrs. Kitchen Mouse remembers that her Papa liked to make these for his five children.
1/2 cup sugar
3 T. melted butter
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 t. cream of tartar
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt

V.S.P. Lightly mix together all the ingredients. Bake in a square baking pan in a 350 degree oven. Cut into squares and serve hot.

Indian Meal Pancakes Recipe

Serve these hot off the griddle with bacon, ham or sausage.
2 cups buttermilk
1 t. baking soda
2 eggs, well beaten
2/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1-1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 t. salt
1 T. sugar

V.S.P. Dissolve the soda in the milk, add the eggs and stir until well blended. Resift the flour with the dry ingredients and stir into the liquid. Let stand about 10 minutes. The batter will be somewhat lumpy. Drop by spoonfuls onto a lightly buttered hot griddle. Cook until delicately brown on one side, turn and cook other side. Serve hot with maple syrup.

The Kitchen Mouse’s Indian Menu

Originally published June 18, 1984

Cooking in India has its rules and food is governed by more than climate. Hindus believe that food was created by the supreme deity for the benefit of man and while they make the art of cooking a sacred rite attended by some ceremony, they also include a few taboos. But there is a tradition of good cooking, with perhaps more for western tastes in the Punjab and West Bengal.

All Indian cooking is regional and the man from Madras neither knows nor cares what his Punjabi compatriot eats. In the north the cooking has been influenced by neighboring countries, by foreign invasions, by the Muslims and, as elsewhere, by the weather. It includes pilaus (boiled rice) and birianis (meat and rice), tandoori dishes (roasted meat), grilled meats and kebabs.

There is the fiery curry cooking of the south linked with vegetarianism and the use of coconut, and here the staple food is rice. In the deep south, however, rice is eaten less and tapioca comes into its own, but with coconut still prominent. There is the elegant cooking of Hyderabad, where curries are milder and with a Persian air.

Most of the spices used in Indian cooking were originally chosen as much for their medicinal or antiseptic properties as for their flavor. In the days before refrigeration, antiseptics were of extreme importance. Modern tests have proven the correctness of the Indian’s preference for spices.

Mulligatawny Soup Recipe

In India, most soups are thought of as the preface to a meal, but this one is so rich that we usually make a meal of it. East Indian Mulligatawny  - literally “pepper water” - the peppery nature of mulligatawny depends entirely on the cook: it can be hot or mild.

1 chicken, about 3 lbs., cut into serving pieces
6 cups chicken stock
1 onion, stuck with 4 cloves
2 small ribs celery with leaves
1 carrot, scraped and quartered
2 sprigs fresh parsley
14 peppercorns
1/2 small coconut
1 cup canned chick peas, drained
1/4 cup butter or margarine
5 T. all-purpose flour
3 T. powdered turmeric
1/2 t. powdered ginger
1 t. ground coriander
1 clove garlic, minced
Cayenne pepper to taste
1 cup heavy cream
Pepper to taste
Lemon slices

Step 1. Place the chicken in a saucepan and add the chicken stock. Add the onion, celery, carrot, bay leaf, parsley, salt to taste and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes, or until chicken is tender. Remove the chicken pieces and keep them warm. Strain the broth.

Step 2. Remove the meat from the coconut shell. Pare away the dark coating and cut the coconut meat into small cubes. Put the cubes into a blender or food processor and add 2 cups of the broth. Blend on high speed. Line a sieve with cheesecloth and strain the coconut mixture. Press to extract as much of the moisture as possible. Discard the residue.

Step 3. Rinse out the blender. Return the coconut milk to the blender and add the chick peas. Blend until the peas are thoroughly pureed. Add enough of the reserved chicken broth to make four cups.

Step 4. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour, turmeric, ginger, coriander, garlic and cayenne pepper. Stir to blend and remove from heat.

Step 5. Gradually add the coconut milk mixture to the butter-flour mixture, stirring rapidly with a whisk. Add the cream and chicken parts, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon slices and serve piping hot, with hot rice as an accompaniment.

Madras Egg Curry Recipe

This was mother’s favorite recipe during Lent when The Kitchen Mouse was just a mouselet. Serves 4 or 5.

4 T. butter or margarine
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T. curry powder
1 t. tomato paste
1-1/2 cups milk
1 t. salt
6 hard-cooked eggs, cut in half lengthwise

V.S.P. Melt the butter in a skillet; sauté the onions and garlic 5 minutes. Blend in the curry powder and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Gradually add the milk, stirring steadily. Add the salt and eggs, heat and serve on toast.

Curry Sauce Recipe

Serve this sauce with leftover meat, chicken or vegetables. The Kitchen Mouse enjoys this sauce especially when served with shrimp. Serves 3 or 4.

2 T. butter or margarine
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. curry powder
1 T. flour
1/4 t. powdered ginger
2 cups beef or chicken stock

V.S.P. Melt the butter in a saucepan; sauté the onions and garlic 10 minutes. Blend in 1-1/2 tablespoons of the curry powder, flour and ginger; cook over low heat 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually add the broth, stirring constantly and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding remaining curry powder if needed. Add leftovers, heat through and serve over rice.

Chapattis - Indian Bread Recipe

This Indian bread is one of the traditional unleavened breads of Asia.

1 cup sifted flour (whole wheat if you have it)
1/8 t. salt
1/2 cup water

V.S.P. Sift the flour and the salt into a bowl; gradually work in just enough water, using the fingers, to make a soft dough. Divide into 10 pieces and flatten into circles on a lightly floured surface. Cover with a towel and let stand 20 minutes. Roll out as thin as possible.

Heat an ungreased skillet or griddle and place the dough circles on it. Bake over low heat, turning frequently, until crisp and browned. To keep flat, press down gently with a spatula or paper towel. Serve.

Gajar Halva - Carrot Halva Recipe

Sweets of all kinds are very popular in India, as snacks and as dessert - and even in some parts for breakfast. Carrot halva is a very sweet treat and versions of this sweet will be found in Greece, Pakistan, Turkey, Arabia and the Balkans.

1 lb. carrots
1 quart milk
1 cup sugar
2 oz. raisins
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 t. ground cardamom
2 oz. pistachio nuts, sliced

V.S.P. Peel the carrots and grate them. Bring the milk to a boil in a large, heavy pan, add the grated carrots, lower the heat and simmer until all the milk has been absorbed and the mixture is thick, stirring frequently. This may take as long as 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

Add sugar, raisins and butter. Mix well and cook for 10 minutes longer, stirring constantly, until halva is almost dry and a rich, orange color.

Spread on a buttered plate, sprinkle with cardamom, and decorate with sliced pistachio nuts. Cut in pie-shaped wedges and serve hot or cold

Irish Potato Soup Recipe

Serves 8 to 10.
7 medium potatoes (3 lbs.)
3 medium onions
3 T. butter
4 cups milk
6 cups chicken stock
1 T. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 cup light cream
5 strips bacon
1/4 cup snipped chives (dried is ok)

Step 1. Peel and slice the potatoes and onions.

Step 2. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan. Add onions and saute over low flame until tender, but not brown.

Step 3. Add the potatoes, chicken stock, milk, salt and pepper. Cover the pan and simmer over very low heat flame for one hour.

Step 4. Cut the bacon into small pieces and saute until crisp. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set bacon bits aside.

Step 5. When soup has cooked for an hour, put it through a blender at high speed. Return soup to the saucepan.

Step 6. Add cream and cook slowly until the soup is just hot. Do not boil.

Step 7. Garnish with bacon bits and chives on each serving.

Irish Stew Recipe

This will serve 10 to 12 people and you may wish to use only half the amount shown.
4 T. shortening
5 lbs. stewing beef, cut into 1-1/2” cubes
1T. salt
1/4 t. pepper
8 small white turnips, about 1 lb.
10 large carrots, about 2 lbs.
4 large onions, at least 1 lb.
12 medium-sized potatoes, about 4 lbs.
1/2 cup all purposed flour
4 T. chopped parsley

Step 1. Heat shortening in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add about 1/3 of beef cubes and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove to a bowl and brown remaining beef in batches.

Step 2. Return all of the meat to the Dutch oven. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; stir in 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, one hour.

Step 3. Meanwhile, pare turnips and slice crosswise into 1/2” thick slices. Pare carrots and slice diagonally 1/2” thick. Peel onions and cut into quarters. Set all vegetables aside until meat has cooked one hour.

Step 4. Add all vegetables to Dutch oven, return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 40 minutes or until meat and vegetables are tender.

Step 5. In a small bowl, gradually stir 1/2 cup water into flour until smooth. Slowly add to stew, stirring constantly; boil gently a minute or two. Add parsley.

Oatmeal Dumplings Recipe

2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
2 T. baking powder
1 T. seasoned salt
1 T. sugar
2 cups quick cooking oats
1-1/3 cups milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 T. vegetable oil
3 T. chopped parsley

Step 1. Into a large bowl, sift the flour with baking powder, seasoned salt and sugar. Stir in the oats.

Step 2. In a small bowl, combine the milk, eggs, oil and parsley; mix well with a fork.

Step 3. Pour milk mixture, all at once, into flour mixture; mix just until dry ingredients are moistened. Let mixture stand 10 minutes.

Step 4. Drop batter, by large tablespoons, into simmering stew; cook gently 10 minutes, then cover tightly and cook 10 minutes longer. Be certain to choose a large enough Dutch oven so that your dumplings will have enough room to expand.

Steamed Raisin Pudding Recipe

1-1/2 cups milk
1-1/2 cups dark raisins, chopped
1-1.2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 t. baking powder
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1-1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1 cup grated suet

Step 1. In the top of a double boiler, over hot water, heat milk and raisins for 20 minutes. Remove top of double boiler from water, set aside 10 minutes to cool.

Step 2. Meanwhile, sift flour with baking powder, sugar, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Step 3. In a large bowl, with electric mixer at medium speed, beat eggs until light. At low speed, beat in crumbs until well mixed. Beat in the suet.

Step 4. Alternately add flour mixture and milk mixture to egg mixture at low speed, beating until well-combined.

Step 5. Turn into well-greased 2-quart pudding mold with tube; cover tightly. Place on trivet in a large kettle; add enough boiling water to come halfway up side of mold.

Step 6. Steam (the water in the kettle should be bubbling), tightly covered, for two hours.

Step 7. While pudding is steaming, make the Irish whiskey sauce, below.

Step 8. Remove pudding from water. Let stand about 10 minutes.

Step 9. With a knife, loosen edges of pudding and around tube; turn out of mold. Serve with warm sauce.

Irish Whiskey Sauce Recipe

1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 cup light cream
Dash of ground nutmeg
1/4 cup Irish whiskey

Step 1. In the top of a double boiler, with an electric mixer at medium speed, beat butter with sugar until light and creamy.

Step 2. Beat in egg, cream and nutmeg until mixture is fluffy.

Step 3. Cook, stirring occasionally, over hot, not boiling, water until mixture is thickened.

Step 4. Remove from heat; gradually stir in whiskey. Serve warm or cold with steamed pudding.

Irish Coffee

Makes 10 cups

15 oz. Irish whiskey
65 oz. hot strong black coffee
8 t. sugar
Whipped cream

Step 1. Mix whiskey, coffee and sugar together.

Step 2. Divide the coffee mixture into 10 Irish coffee glasses or cups.

Step 3. Top each serving with whipped cream. Do not mix the cream into coffee, just let it float on top.

“Slainte gus Soal agat” - That’s health and long life to you.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Kitchen Mouse’s Russian Menu - Entrees

Originally published June 14, 1984

There are ten distinct Russian cuisines and we won’t attempt a description of each of them, as you probably plan to only try your hand at one or two dishes. The cooking styles are as varied as Russia’s vast territory as it’s history suggest, ranging from cuisines reminiscent of the Middle East, Germany and Scandinavia to the French influence stemming from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when everything French was held in high esteem by people of fashion.

Apart from all the outside influences, there is much that is uniquely Russian. Perhaps the most fascinating is the Zakuska (sometimes zakusky or akuski) table which was in many housholds set up at times for travelers or visitors - a welcome kind of hospitality in a country where distances were long between towns, transportation slow and weather severe. The zakuska table consisted of dozens of cold dishes with hot ones, too, becoming customary in the early twentieth century. In addition to serving as a kind of free lunch extraordinaire, zakuska were frequently eaten before or after the theatre or merely as a prelude to a meal.

Pozharsky Chicken Cutlets Recipe

Pozharsky Cutlets are named after the man who invented them, an innkeeper in the town of Torzhok, where travelers used to stop on the road from Moscow to St. Petersburg and feast on these cutlets. They were originally made of partridge or other game, but Russians make them of chicken today. Serves 6.

8 slices fresh white bread
1-1/2 cups milk
8 boneless chicken cutlets
1 t. salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine
5 or 6 T. of dry bread crumbs

Step 1. Cut crusts off bread, shred white part and soak in milk for 30 to 45 minutes.

Step 2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Put chicken through meat grinder. Squeeze bread to eliminate milk, and mix bread with ground chicken. Grind again. Mix in salt and 2 tablespoons melted butter. With wet hands, form cutlets roughly in the shape of lamb chops. Coat them thoroughly with the dry bread crumbs.

Step 3. Fry chicken in 2 tablespoons butter a few at a time, until browned on both sides. Add butter as needed while frying. Place browned cutlets in an ovenproof pan. When all are browned, put the pan in a 300 degree oven for about 5 minutes. Pour a little butter over the cutlets just before serving, or serve with mushroom sauce.

Chicken Bozartma - Azerbaijani Chicken Fricassee Recipe

Azerbaijani chicken fricassee. Serves 4 or 5.

3 to 4 lbs. chicken pieces
2 medium onions, minced
2 to 3 T. butter
4 young carrots, julienned
1-1/2 cups beef bullion
Salt to taste
A generous pinch of cayenne
A pinch of saffron, optional
2 T. chopped parsley
1/2 lemon, sliced

Step 1. Wash and dry chicken and brown lightly with onions in 2 tablespoons butter, adding more butter as needed. Add carrots and continue cooking for 2 more minutes. Pour in hot bullion, season with salt and cayenne pepper, cover and simmer until chicken is tender, about 45 minutes.

Step 2. When chicken is done, dissolve saffron in 1/4 cup hot water and strain over chicken if you choose to use saffron. Stir, check seasoning, and serve with chopped parsley and slices of lemon on top. (Note: This dish is good made a day in advance and reheated, with parsley and lemon added just before serving.)

Tukhum Dolma - Meat & Egg Balls Recipe

This novel dish is almost identical to what is know as “Scotch Eggs” in Great Britain. Serve it with a salad for a complete luncheon. Serves 4 to 5.

1 lb. lean lamb, beef or pork
1 medium onion, grated
3 T. fine, dry bread crumbs
1/3 t. salt
A pinch of black pepper
6 hard boiled eggs
1 beaten egg
4 cups oil for deep frying

V.S.P. Grind meat fine. Mix meat with onions, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Peel each hard boiled egg and roll it in the meat mixture until the egg is completely covered and looks like a round meatball. Just before frying, dip meatball in beaten egg. Drop in heated cooking oil and fry until brown. Avoid making the meat layer so thick or the frying oil so hot that the meat becomes dark brown before the meat is cooked through. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

Mulgikapsad - Pork, Barley & Kraut Recipe

Mulgikapsad is a very popular dish all over Estonia. Kapsad means cabbage and Mulgi is the name of the Estonian province in which the dish originated. A delicious one-dish meal, it requires almost no preparation. Serves four.

2-1/2 lbs. lean fresh pork, in 1 piece
4-1/2 cups sauerkraut
3/4 cup uncooked barley
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
Boiling water

V.S.P. Put meat in a heavy casserole. Cover meat with sauerkraut. Rinse barley in cold water and add to meat with bay leaf, salt and pepper. Be careful with salt, in case the sauerkraut is salty.

Pour in boiling water until barley is covered. Close lid tightly. Simmer over low heat until meat is tender, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Stir, adjust seasoning and serve.

Beef Stroganoff Recipe

This dish is well worth the effort and will be sure to give you real Russian flavor. Serves five or six.

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
1 lb. filet mignon, cut in 1/4-inch wide strips
1/4 cup butter
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. tomato paste
1 can (10.5 oz.) condensed beef broth
1 cup sour cream
2 T. dry sherry

Step 1. Combine 1 tablespoon of the flour with the salt and dredge the meat in the mixture.

Step 2. Heat the skillet, then add half the butter. When melted, add the meat strips and brown quickly, flipping the meat to brown on all sides. Add the mushrooms, onion and garlic. Cook three to four minutes, or until the onion is barely tender.

Step 3. Remove the meat and mushrooms from the skillet and keep warm. Add the remaining butter to the pan drippings. When melted, blend in the remaining flour with a whisk. Add the tomato paste. Slowly pour in the beef broth. Cook, stirring constantly with the whisk, until the mixture thickens.

Step 4. Return the meat and mushrooms to the skillet. Stir in the sour cream and sherry and heat briefly. Serve with rice.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mustard Spareribs Recipe

2 lbs. spareribs
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 t. pepper
2 t. dry mustard
2 t. sugar
1/2 cup prepared mustard

Step 1. Have the butcher saw the spareribs across the middle for finger length portions.

Step 2. In a flat pan, mix 1/2 cup water, lemon juice, pepper, dry mustard and sugar. Marinate spareribs in this mixture at least two hours in refrigerator. Turn once during marinating.

Step 3. Drain spareribs and spread with prepared mustard. Arrange on broiler pan.

Step 4. Place broiler pan 5 to 6 inches from preheated broiler. Broil 10 minutes; turn ribs and broil 5 additional minutes. Serve hot.

Hiilsenfruchtsuppe - Fresh Pea Soup Recipe

Since pea soup is very popular in German homes The Kitchen Mouse is substituting his favorite French recipe for Potage St. Germaine (puree of fresh pea soup). This will serve eight people and is guaranteed to get you plenty of compliments.

4 cups fresh or frozen peas
2 stalks celery, diced
2 small carrots, diced
2 small white onions, diced
4-1/2 cups chicken broth
1/3 lb. boiled ham, diced
Salt to taste
1/3 t. black pepper
3 T. unsalted butter or margarine
1-1/4 cup cream or half and half
2 T. chopped parsley

Step 1. Simmer the peas, celery, onions and carrots together in 1-1/2 cups of chicken broth until tender, about 50 minutes.

Step 2. Add remaining chicken broth and ham and simmer 10 minutes.

Step 3. Puree all ingredients in a blender. Return soup to pot and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Step 4. At serving time, heat the puree and stir in the butter and cream. Serve in heated bowls. Sprinkle with parsley and a few croutons, if desired.

Pork Chops, Rhinelander style

Served with boiled carrots.

6 pork loin chops, about 1 inch thick
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 t. dried thyme
2 10.5-oz. cans condensed beef broth, undiluted
4 c. thinly sliced pared apple
1 cup coarsely chopped onions
1-3/4 lbs. potatoes, pared and quartered
12 small sausage links, about 3/4 lb.
Parsley sprigs

Step 1. Wipe pork chops with a damp paper towel. Trim a small amount of fat from chops.

Step 2. In a large skillet, slowly heat fat from chops. Add chops; sauté slowly until nicely browned on both sides, about 15 minutes total.

Step 3. Sprinkle salt, pepper and thyme over chops. Add 1/2 cup beef broth; simmer over low heat, covered, until chops are tender, about 45 to 50 minutes. Add water if necessary.

Step 4. Meanwhile, in a 4-quart kettle, bring remaining beef broth to a boil. Add apple, onion and potatoes and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender and beef broth is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Uncover last 5 minutes.

Step 5. In a medium skillet, sauté sausages, turning until browned all over and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Drain on paper towels and keep warm.

Step 6. Taste apple-potato mixture for seasoning; add salt if needed. Mound in center of round platter. Arrange pork chops and sausages around apple mixture. Garnish with parsley and boiled carrots. Serves six.

Aprikosenkompott - Brandied Apricot Recipe

2 28-oz. cans whole apricots
1/3 cup brandy

Step 1. Drain apricots, reserving 1/2 cup syrup.

Step 2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine apricots, reserved syrup and brandy.

Step 3. Refrigerate, covered, overnight. Serve with whipped cream and very plain cookies.

The Kitchen Mouse’s Russian Menu - Appetizers and Soup

Originally published June 11, 1984

[Editor’s note: This article was written before the fall of the Soviet Union.]

However well fed they may be on other diets, Russians, after a time, feel a kind of emptiness only Russian food will fill. All other cooking eventually seems either too spare or lean or too fancy. And food is of great importance to the Russian’s life. It was a featured pastime in the long idle days of the country’s aristocracy and landed proprietors. Meals and snacks were often the only events of the day, and the supervision of the meals and the kitchen, root cellar, drying room, ice house and preserve filled pantry was the main concern of the mistress of the house.

This preoccupation with food is so constantly reflected in Russian history that the Kitchen Mouse first thought of writing a column on Russian cooking while recently reading about eighteenth and nineteenth century czars.

Russia today is a country of 16 republics and approximately 170 languages, customs and traditional cuisines. Not all, by any means, eat borscht, kasha and beef stroganoff. Borscht is unknown in the Caucasus, the home of shashlik, and even the way shashlik varies from one valley to another in the three Caucasian  republics, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaidzhan. While northern Russians eat buckwheat kasha, a kind of baked cereal, Armenians serve a rice pilaf with currants, cinnamon and pine nuts. In Georgia, where rice will not grow on the steep mountain slopes, the pilaf is of cracked wheat. The sour cream and mushrooms of beef stroganoff typify the Slavic north, while yogurt and dried mint are more common in  the Caucasus, and hot red pepper is always on the table of the Uzbeks. In the east, there is distinctly oriental flavor, and in the Baltic regions, a strong Scandinavian influence.

Pickled Grapes Recipe

This zakusky (appetizer) should be made a week before you use it. They can keep in the refrigerator for several months, however, if you happen to have any left over. They are excellent served with vodka.

1 lb. seedless grapes stripped from stems
6 oz. wine vinegar
6 oz. water
3/4 t. salt
5 T. sugar
3 peppercorns
1 clove

V.S.P. Step 1. Wash the grapes and put them in a glass jar.

Step 2. Put all the other ingredients in a stainless steel saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cool and pour the liquid over the grapes.

Step 3. Cover jar tightly and refrigerate 6 or 7 days.

Eggplant Caviar Recipe II

Similar to another eggplant caviar recipe The Kitchen Mouse has given you, serve this on your favorite crackers or dark bread.

1 medium eggplant, about 3 cups when cubed
1 t. salt
3 T. olive oil
3/4 cup minced onion
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon juice to taste
1/2 clove garlic, optional

V.S.P. Peel and cube eggplant, discarding seeds, sprinkle with salt and let stand one hour. Squeeze eggplant to eliminate liquid. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan or casserole. Fry eggplant slowly with minced onion until both are very soft. Chop them with edge of your spatula while frying. Off the heat, stir in one tablespoon olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. If you like, press or crush the garlic and add. Chill before serving.

Armenian Bean Salad Recipe

This recipe is particularly good when you make it with Michigan navy beans.

1 cup navy beans, soaked in water overnight
4 T. olive oil
4 t. lemon juice
1 t. ground coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T. minced parsley

V.S.P. Drain soaked beans, place them in a saucepan with enough water to cover by 1 inch, and cook slowly until tender. Add water as necessary to prevent drying out. When beans are cooked, there should be almost no water left. Toss hot cooked beans with olive oil, lemon juice, coriander, salt and pepper. Chill. Mix in fresh parsley just before serving.

Lobio - Georgian Kidney Bean Recipe

In Georgia, cold kidney beans are often served as one of several dishes composing a first course. Serves 6.

1-1/2 cups dry kidney beans
Salt to taste
1/4 cup shelled walnuts
1/2 clove garlic
Cayenne pepper to taste
2 T. wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
1 small onion, minced
1 T. minced parsley
1/4 t. ground coriander

V.S.P. Sort and wash beans. Soak beans in cold water for several hours. To cook, cover beans with fresh water in a saucepan and simmer slowly until soft, adding small amounts of boiling water as needed. When beans are soft, pour off cooking water and salt beans to taste.

Pound walnuts to a paste with garlic clove and cayenne. Blend in vinegar and water. Taking care not to bruise the beans, mix in walnut paste, minced onion and herbs. Chill before serving.

Borshchok - Russian Beef Soup Recipe

This soup is served hot and is made with meat, but beets are the only vegetable. It is very popular in the western Ukraine, where beets dominate the vegetable crop. Serves eight.

2 bunches of young beets
2 sliced onions
2 lbs. beef brisket
8 cups water
Juice of 2 lemons
2 T. of sugar, more or less, to taste
2 t. salt
Pepper to taste
Croutons for garnish

V.S.P. Peel and dice beets. Place beets, onions and meat in deep pot. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until meat is tender. Cube meat and return it to pot. Add lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper. Simmer 10 minutes longer. Serve hot with croutons.

Chicken Chikhirtma - Soup Recipe

Chikhirtma is a popular chicken soup from the Caucasus and Central Asia. It is always thickened with egg yolks for richness and usually given a tart flavor with lemon or vinegar. The degree of tartness and richness can be varied in this recipe to suit individual preferences. This will serve six.

6 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 T. butter or margarine
1 T. flour
1 pinch saffron, dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water (optional)
Salt to taste
3 egg yolks
3 T. lemon juice
2 T. chopped fresh parsley

V.S.P. Heat stock while frying onion in butter until golden.sprinkle flour over onion and stir while cooking for one minute. Add a little broth into mixture. Blend well and pour mixture into pot containing broth. Cook 10 minutes. If using saffron, dissolve it in hot water and strain the liquid into broth. Salt to taste and remove from heat.

Beat egg yolks with lemon juice. Mix a little broth into the eggs, then pour the mixture into the broth while stirring. Reheat the broth until it thickens, stirring constantly and not allowing it to come to a boil. Serve sprinkled with fresh parsley.

Hot Barley Luncheon Dish Recipe

Inexpensive, easy to prepare and most satisfying.

1-1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 T. cooking oil
1/4 t. pepper
Salt to taste
1 t. marjoram leaves
1/2 bay leaf
2 1-lb. cans tomatoes
1 10.5-oz. can condensed cream of mushroom soup
2-1/2 cups water
3/4 cup barley
1/2 cup shopped green pepper
1 1-lb. can peas

Procedure: Sauté ground beef, onion and celery in oil in Dutch oven until well browned. Stir in salt, pepper, marjoram, bay leaf, tomatoes, soup, water, green pepper, barley and undrained peas; mix well. Bring to a boil.
Turn into a 15”x10”x2” (4 quart) shallow roasting pan. Cover with lid or aluminum foil. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven one hour, 15 minutes or until barley is tender. Serve with a tossed salad.

Barley and Vegetable Soup Recipe

Ideal for serving to soup lovers! Serves 8.

3/4 cup pearl barley
11 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup minced celery
3 T. butter or margarine
Salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, combine pearl barley with 3 cups chicken broth, bring the liquid to a boil over moderate heat, and simmer the mixture for one hour or until the liquid is absorbed.

In a kettle (heavy-bottomed stock pot), sauté onions, carrots, mushrooms and celery in butter, covered, for five minutes or until vegetables are softened. Add remaining 8 cups of chicken broth and simmer the mixture for 30 minutes. Add the barley and simmer five minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, ladle the soup into heated bowls, and garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream, sliced mushrooms and chopped fresh parsley. Serve with breadsticks or pita bread.

Herbed Barley with Brown Butter Recipe

In a heated serving dish toss three cups steamed barley while it is still hot with 3/4 cup each minced parsley and brown butter. Serve the barley with roasted meats or poultry.

How To Steam Barley

In a heavy bottomed pot, bring to a boil four quarts water with one tablespoon salt. Sprinkle in one cup medium pearl barley, return to a boil, stirring, and cook the barley over medium high heat for 20 minutes. Drain the barley in a colander and rinse it under running water. Put the colander over a pan of boiling water and steam the barley, covered with a tea towel and the lid, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until it is tender and dry. Makes about three cups.

Middle Eastern Barley Salad Recipe

In a small bowl combine three tablespoons lemon juice and one teaspoon salt. Add 1/2 cup olive oil in a small stream, beating the dressing until it is well combined. In a large bowl toss three cups steamed barley while it is still warm with the dressing. Add one large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped, 3/4 cup each thinly sliced radish and fresh parsley, 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions and salt and pepper to taste. Chill the salad, covered, for one hour. Divide the salad among chilled salad plates lined with tender lettuce leaves. Serves 6.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Soup - Practical, Necessary Art

Originally published June 7, 1984

The art of soup-making has long been an essential and laudable achievement. In fact, soup was among man’s first culinary creations. The first of them were doubtless prepared by putting meat, bones, liquid and perhaps some seasonings, in animal-skin bags. Also added were hot stones to cook them. Later, as clay containers were created, the ingredients became more varied, and were cooked slowly over direct heat. Thus was devised the first “pot au feu” (French for pot on the fire).

In Europe, the early wealthy Romans enjoyed a variety of intricate soups at their lengthy banquets, while lesser folk subsisted on more basic and hearty creations. From the cookbook by Apicius, believed to have written in the first century A.D., we can determine that there was an excellent array of earthenware and bronze pots and kettles for preparing soups.

During the Dark Ages, after the fall of the Roman Empire, there were no resources for fancy experimentation with soup or any other fare. It was a time of foraging for anything to keep alive, and soups became the mainstay of the daily diet. Basic creations filled with grains and other easily accessible foods, they provided warmth and nourishment. The first soup kitchens, which would be revived over and over again in times of need, were established in the monasteries. Countless numbers of hungry unfortunates were thus able to survive.

The word for soup evolved from sop, the name for a piece of bread dipped in meat broth, during the Middle Ages. About the twelfth century the broth was called sop or soupe, and other ingredients were added to the liquid. In the cuisines of western Europe there are still many similar words. In Austria, Germany, Denmark and Norway, for example, the dish is suppe. In Spain and Portugal it is soppa, in Holland soep and Sweden soppa. The Italians use the word zuppa. A notable exception to this similarity of names is the Finnish keijto.

Escoffier, the great French chef, said “Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tensions of the day, and awakens and refines the appetite.”

Old-Fashioned Quebec Pea Soup Recipe

As Father’s Day is now almost here, we are reminded that this was my dad’s favorite. Serves 6 or 7.

1 lb. salt pork, lean and fat
1 T. dry mustard
1 lb. dried peas
8 cups cold water
1 large onion, sliced thin
1 T. kosher salt
1/2 t. savory
1/4 t. dried mint
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can hominy corn
1 T. butter or margarine

V.S.P. Rub the salt pork with the dry mustard. Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours. Meanwhile, sort, wash, then soak the peas in cold water for 12 hours.

Place in a soup kettle the peas and their water, the pork, onion, salt, savory, mint, parsley and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 3 to 4 hours or until peas are tender and the soup appears to be creamy. Add the hominy and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the butter and garnish each serving with croutons. Serve hot.

Cabbage Soup Recipe

This soup can be assembled in a very short time but it will be enjoyed by young and old alike. Serves 6 or 7.

3 T. butter or margarine
2 medium carrots, grated
3 onions, sliced thin
4 to 6 cups cabbage, chopped fine
A few leaves of celery, minced
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 t. sugar
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups milk
Slices of bread, browned in butter
Grated cheese

V.S.P. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the carrots, onion, cabbage, celery leaves, salt, pepper and sugar. Mix well, cover and simmer over very low heat for 25 minutes. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the milk, heat and taste for seasoning. When ready to serve, place a slice of bread, browned in butter, in each bowl, sprinkle with cheese and fill bowl with soup. Serve hot.

Corn Soup Recipe

Whenever a soup is needed quickly, this one can be put together within an hour and will surely please 3 or 4 soup lovers.

2 thick slices of bacon
1 onion, chopped
1 can (16 oz.) niblet corn
1 cup cooked, diced potatoes
2 cups milk
1/4 t. savory
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

V.S.P. Cut the bacon into small squares and brown in a large saucepan. Add the onion and brown over high heat. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. When ready to serve, sprinkle with parsley or dried celery leaves. Serve hot.

Scotch Cock-A-Leekie Soup Recipe

Although of Scottish origin, this flavorful chicken and leek soup is popular throughout the British Isles. It’s name was acquired most probably because at one time it was made with cockerel. Some variations include the addition of pitted prunes, an innovation that is denounced  as a French heresy by Scots, who scorn a sweet flavor in the soup. Serves 10 to 12.

1 stewing chicken, about 5 lbs., washed
5 quarts water
12 leeks, white parts and 2 inches of green stems, washed and cut into 1/2-inch slices
4 parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
1/2 t. thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup pearl barley
2 T. chopped fresh parsley

Step 1. Put the chicken in a large kettle and add water. Bring to a boil and with a skimmer or spoon, remove any scum that has risen to the surface. Add remaining ingredients, except chopped parsley, and lower heat. Cook slowly, partially covered, until the chicken is tender, about 2-1/2 hours.

Step 2. Remove the chicken to a large plate or platter and, when slightly cooled, cut meat into bite-sized pieces, discarding skin and bones. Remove and discard the parsley sprigs and bay leaf from the soup. Take off any scum from the surface and return the meat to the soup. Return to the stove and reheat. Garnish each bowl with parsley and serve proudly.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pasta - The Shape of Things to Come

Originally published June 4, 1984

Inexpensive, easy to prepare and practically imperishable (when properly stored), pasta - as typically Italian as Grand Opera and Chianti - has much going for it as one of the great dishes of the world.

Most of us are familiar with several varieties of pasta, Italians have more than a hundred different shapes and sizes to choose from - ranging from tiny golden specks called pastina, used mainly in light soups and invalid broths, to huge ribbed rigatoni, so large and hearty that they are individually stuffed with meat, cheese and tomatoes.

The delightful names the Italians give to these shapes are proof of their affection for pasta. Spaghetti (which means little strings) and macaroni are, of course, best known to us, but they are just two of the immense pasta family: amorini, little cupids; farfallette, little butterflies; conchiglie, little shells; capelletti, little hats; and tirabaci, kiss-bringers, are just a few of the delicious forms pasta takes. And strange as it seems, the cut and shape of pasta, in one or another of these many forms, alters the taste of the finished dish, for it affects the cooking and the amount of sauce included with each mouthful.

Even more important than the size and shape of the pasta is the kind of sauce that accompanies it. Not all Italian pasta sauces are tomato based. One of The Kitchen Mouse’s favorite recipes serves well-drained spaghetti with only butter and freshly grated Parmesan cheese; another adds one or two egg yolks and a little cream to this basic recipe for a really delicious sauce.

Spaghetti alla Bolognese - Italian Meat Sauce Recipe

This very rich meat sauce is a typical Italian sauce. Serve 4 or 5.

1 lb. spaghetti
2 T. butter or margarine
4 T. olive oil
1/4 lb. salt pork, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1 strip lemon peel
1 bay leaf
4 T. tomato puree
10 oz. rich beef stock
1/4 cup dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated nutmeg to taste
4 T. heavy cream
Grated Parmesan cheese

Step 1. Heat butter and oil in a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan; add salt pork, onion, carrots and celery. Sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally until salt pork browns. Stir in ground beef and brown evenly, stirring continuously. Add lemon peel, bay leaf, tomato puree, beef stock and wine and season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Step 2. Cover pan and simmer the sauce very gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lemon peel and bay leaf and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until sauce has thickened slightly. Add cream and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes more.

Step 3. Cook spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente (firm to the bite, but not soft or mushy). Serve with Bolognese sauce and freshly grated Parmesan. Dot with butter.