It's cold and rainy today, and feels the more so because it was so hot and sunny yesterday. (Not complaining, just noticing.)
I was in the mood to work on a recipe for Polish beetroot soup. Here's what I have so far, with some notes about how to make it better. I like beets A LOT but they are high in oxalates, which B is trying to avoid.
Saute a small chopped onion in olive oil. (I used a large onion, and I thought there was too much onion). Really cook the onion down; don't be in a hurry to finish and eat. (I was!)
Drain a can of beets (I use the sliced ones), reserving the liquid. Chop the beets (you can do this inside the can, which reduces the risk of beet stains everywhere).
Add to sauted onions: 2 C chicken broth (I'm going to try beef broth next time), 1 C water, reserved beet liquid, and chopped beets. Simmer for awhile.
Thicken with a paste made of: 1 T flour; 1 T sugar; 1 T fresh lemon juice; 1 T red wine vinegar (I think balsamic is too dark in color); and 1 T of red wine (optional).
Season with 1/2 t dill weed, white pepper. Salt to taste. Serves 2.
It's not like what we had in Poland, but it's very good - very warming and healthful-feeling. Would be nice with a plateful of mushroom pierogi sauted up with bacon bits....
This is perhaps one of those "it has soy sauce, therefore it is Asian" recipes from the 1950s, but I don't care; it's the taste of childhood and I have been trying to replicate it with regular rice for years. Today: success!
Make meatballs: mix 1/4 to 1/3 pound ground beef; 1 egg; some garlic power; some ground ginger (this was today's innovation - inspired!) and salt/pepper. Add plain breadcrumbs until the consistency is dry enough to make meatballs. Roll into meatballs and brown in hot oil in a Dutch oven (another innovation today; better liquid-to-meatballs configuration).
Make a sauce of: 2 T cornstarch; 1/8 C sugar; 1 T soy sauce; 1/4 C vinegar (I used cider vinegar)l and 1 C water or broth. I think there could be less cornstarch and possibly less sugar. Stir sauce into meatballs; sauce will bubble up and thicken.
Push meatballs to edges; add 1 green pepper sliced, 1 C soaked basmati rice, and 1 1/2 C water. Simmer until cooked, about 15-20 minutes. Garnish with canned mandarin orange slices.
I think this would be nice with an Asian-inspired slaw of cabbage and carrots with a sesame oil/soy/rice vinegar/ginger dressing.
Mom's Apple-Honey Cake
Line a buttered baking dish (she uses 9x9) with sliced, peeled apples. Single layer minimum, more if you like.
Cover fruit with a sprinkling of 1/2 C sugar and a drizzle of 3 T honey. (I think you don't need anywhere near this much sugar, but these old recipes are heavy on the sweetness.)
Make a batter* of:
1 T shortening
1/2 C sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 C milk
1 level C sifted flour (I never sift; do you?)
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t vanilla.
Pour the batter over the fruit. Bake in moderate oven (350) 40 min or until toothpick in middle of cake comes out clean.
Serve with whipped cream. Yum!
*you can also substitute a cake mix made per package directions (egads!) for the batter. In that case you can definitely reduce the sugar; even Mom says so.
I had a hankering for beets with my roast chicken last night (baking chicken for an hour in a 375 oven, when it was already 80-plus degrees in the kitchen - at 9 pm! - wasn't the smartest idea we've had this week, but that's a different story) and was nonplussed - nonplussed, I say! - to find NO recipe for Harvard beets in Joy of Cooking. Or Greene on Greens. Or Better Homes and Gardens.
But the Internet-that-never-fails did not fail me. I added a little chopped red onion, and here's how it went:
Saute a bit of red onion in 1 T of butter. Sprinkle in 1 T flour and cook/stir.
Add juice from the can of beets; cook until gloppy and bubbly.
Stir in 2 t sugar (I used one packet of Splenda) and 2 t cider vinegar.
Add beets (I used the sliced kind, but cut them a bit more for a half-assed julienne) and warm through.
That said, B didn't really dig the glop. I am wondering if I could just marinate them in an oil-vinegar-sugar sauce for a few hours and get more of a beet salad. I'll post the results of that experiment when I've done it.
...the easter ham has now been fully consumed.
Along the way there was ham with waffles, ham sandwiches, split pea soup, and this easy yet delicious casserole:
Cook 4 oz of noodles - egg noodles, for example.
In a small saucepan, heat until bubbly and thick:
1/3 C mayonnaise (I use Miracle Whip and it's ok to substitute some sour cream if you're short)
1 T flour
1 C milk.
Add 1/3 C grated cheese (cheddar is fine, and more than 1/3 C is fine too) and stir in until melted.
Drain the noodles, pour the sauce over, and add 2 C or so of diced ham.
Pour all into a 9x9 casserole dish and sprinkle w breadcrumbs and paprika. Bake at 350 for 30 min.
Ok, it's basically mac 'n' chee but at least you aren't stirring in some weird orange powder that turns into cheese sauce when milk and butter are added. Figure THAT dairy logic!
Our ham was supersalty, so adding salt to anything was not necessary.
I should be writing out Polish exercises but instead I'll post our dinner recipe. It's based on a traditional Italian soup that we used to have at our used-to-be favorite Italian restaurant. (When they started to close whenever they felt like it in the evening, we had to stop going there: it was too frustrating to be at a public hearing all evening dreaming about this soup and then get there and find they'd closed up for the evening because they'd gotten all the customers out and no one new had come in.)
Saute an onion in a big soup pot.
Add about 10 cups of chicken broth (I use 1/2 water and 1/2 canned broth) and bring to boil.
Stir in 1/2 or so C of orzo.
Drop in turkey meatballs (1/4 # ground turkey, 1 egg, salt and pepper, a dash of garlic powder and a dash of nutmeg, with enough breadcrumbs to make it stiff enough for meatballs. Roll by hand; Mrs. David says that's essential for meatballs).
Stir in one head of escarole, thoroughly washed and sliced.
Cook until orzo are soft (meatballs and escarole will be completely cooked in the time it takes the orzo to cook).
But oh, this slaw is so tasty.
Combine a shredded carrot (I use the old-fashioned grater), a diced up kiwi fruit, and about 3/4 to 1 C of chopped red cabbage in a bowl.
Drizzle a little peanut oil, a splash of sesame oil, some rice vinegar, a squeeze of half a fresh lime, and a dash of soy sauce over the vegetables, and stir in. Sprinkle in a handful of chopped cilantro and stir.
Ok, back to Polish verbs of motion. It depends, you know, on whether: the trip is on foot or by conveyance; one-way or round trip; one-time or habitual; and whether the focus is on the process of travel or on the origin/destination. I may lose my mind....
I just don't really like sandwiches, so mostly we have a hot lunch. Today's entree was curried cauliflower bisque (well, there was no milk or cream, but it tasted creamy from the milk in the mashed potatoes) with a side salad of celery, tomatoes, radishes and parsley.
Saute 1 chopped onion and 2 cloves garlic in olive oil.
Stir in chopped leftover cauliflower (about 1/2 head) and 2 t curry powder (or to taste)
Add 1 C chicken broth and 1 C water (use veg broth or water if you are a vegetarian/vegan)
Bring to boil and cook for 5 or so minutes; stir in and break up about 1 C leftover mashed potatoes.
Season with a couple of dashes of white pepper. (If you used commercial broth you probably don't need to add salt.)
Bring to boil again; transfer to blender and puree until smooth.
Pour immediately into bowls. Serves 2, just barely. Your companion will probably want MORE. Be careful of the precedent you set if you share yours. I'm just saying.
I lost my recipe for Pork Adobo some weeks ago, and even though I make it often, I didn't quite remember the proportions and types of spices involved in the marinade. But B said, isn't that in your blog, and lo, it was, back in May. It's exciting that my blog is smarter than I am.
Here's last night's contribution to more interesting eating in 2006.
Citrus-Balsamic Pork Chops (adapted from Joy of Cooking). Serves 2.
Saute 1 small chopped onion in olive oil
When it's translucent, stir in a couple of pinches of ground allspice and a T of honey.
Push onion mixture to the sides, and brown 2 pork chops, salting and peppering.
Add some lemon zest and a couple of spoonfuls of fresh lemon juice to pan; add enough chicken stock or broth so that you can braise the chops (about 1/2 C in my saute pan).
Cook chops until done. (Not OVERdone, the way I did.)
Remove chops; add a splash of balsamic vinegar and reduce sauce until thickened, scraping up the brown bits. (Not black, as in my case, because I burned the onions.) Next time, I'm gonna try adding a little flour in water to thicken it and gloss it up.
Bathe the chops back in the sauce to warm them; serve over rice.
I thought the allspice and honey were an interesting variation. I think I might add a little more honey. The original recipe doesn't call for zest, but I have found in the past that lemon juice itself isn't enough to sustain lemon flavor in cooking. For that, you really need the zest.
Made yogurt cheese for the first time ever, after watching my housemate do it once back in the 1980s.
After the whey had drained (24 hours), I made up two batches: one with beau monde herbs (dried onions, parsley, dill and beau monde mix, which is basically celery salt); and one with salt, pepper and garlic powder. A quart of yogurt (the big containers) makes 2+ cups of yogurt cheese. It's softer than cream cheese, and more tart.
I am hoping that this will be a good spread for sandwiches, pitas and bagels. I avoid cream cheese (which I LOVE) because of the lactose. Supposedly the yogurt bacteria have eaten all or most of the lactose in yogurt. So we'll see how it works out.
This is part of my effort to have healthy, tasty, easy-to-snack-on foods around the house, so that I don't eat chips and salsa, potato chips, and B's pistachios.
If anyone has other ideas for using yogurt cheese, I'd love to hear them.
If we ever get around to issuing the second, updated edition of our cookbook, tonight's improv will definitely be in it.
It's a riff on Pork Adobo from Joy of Cooking and it goes something like this:
Make a marinade of: some chopped chilis; 1/4 C cider vinegar; 2 cloves garlic; 1 t cumin seeds; 1 t ground coriander; 1/2 t salt; 1/2 t oregano; a pinch of cinnamon.
Thinly slice two leftover grilled pork chops cross-grain and marinate them in the above.
Slice an onion; saute it on low heat in olive oil until it caramelizes.
Toss in sliced pork, with the marinade, and about 1/2 can of diced tomatoes. Heat through until liquid is somewhat reduced; serve over rice.
Fabulous! Spicy! I may do an entire chapter in the theoretical cookbook revision just on leftovers - there are so many possibilities.
Here's a little recap of an email to some friends. They liked it; I hope you, dear reader(s), will as well --
Go to store on sunny warm day. Buy marlin steaks with intent to grill them. Forget to do that until weather turns cold again. Decide to grill anyway.
Curse self for not buying a mango or at least some nectarines (hey, they
were on sale) for a salsa for the marlin. Rack brain to think of acceptable
substitute. Decide on canned pears.
Chop 1 can of drained pears.
Add 1/4 C chopped red onion.
Add "some" diced jalapeno pepper. (Yeah, "some" should be a hint of a problem-to-come.)
Taste. Pears too bland; add some pear-ginger marmalade left over from
Re-taste. Holy shit! Too much jalapeno - how'd that happen!
Dimly remember that vinegar cuts hot flavors; add some. Question
accuracy of memory.
Ignore husband's plea to add more pears to dilute peppers. Add chopped
Ladle salsa on marlin. Drink lots of water/wine to cool the burn.
After dinner, sigh with resignation and add another can of pears to
remainder of salsa.
Store in fridge. When salsa grows hair and fuzz, toss in garbage can.