Monday, June 23, 2008

Beef Stroganoff

When I was a child, the dinner I wanted for my birthday was often beef stroganoff. And oddly enough, it was often my husband's choice for his birthday dinner. My mother was given a recipe for beef stroganoff from one of the actual Stroganovs, and her recipe was an inexpensive version because after the fall of the Romanovs the Stoganovs also fell on hard times. There seems to be no true original recipe. This recipe is just another approximation.

1 1/2 pound beef sirloin, sliced into thin strips
salt and pepper
1/4 cup butter
1/2 large onion, diced or sliced or how ever you like the onions
2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup dry sherry (optional)
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worchestire sauce
1/2 pound mushrooms
1 cup sour cream

to be continued

Sorry about the delay in getting back to this one.
The one important thing is to not add the sour cream until the very end, as it will curdle is cooked.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Laurel's Corn Bread

This probably came from Laurel's Kitchen.

2 cups of cornmeal
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil
1 egg
2 cups buttermilk or sour milk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan.
Mix the dry ingredients.
Mix the liquid ingredients
Combine everything gently and pour into the pan.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes.

Blueberry Sour Cream Cake

I think I got this recipe from a Gourmet Magazine some time in the 70s.  It's very easy and very very tasty.

1/2 cup of butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg

7 ounces flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

4 cups of blueberries

2 cups sour cream
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

a 9 or 10 inch springform pan

Preheat the oven 350 degrees.
Butter and flour the springform pan.
Cream the butter, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 egg.
Mix the flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt, and mix in with the creamed mixture.  Add the vanilla and put into the springform pan.
Spread the blueberries over the dough.
Combine the sour cream, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla and pour over the blueberries.
Bake for about 1 hours, until the edges of the custard are lightly browned.

note: I see that listed in the ingredients with the sour cream is 2 eggs. Then further on it refers to egg yolks. I don't think it's critical what you use here, put note discrepancy. I wish I could find the magazine. I know it was before 1987, but that doesn't help much.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sweet Yellow Rice

At our house we like to serve a barbecued turkey on Thanksgiving.  But you can't serve mashed potatoes and gravy with a barbecued turkey, as there is no gravy.  So we serve sweet yellow rice instead, which goes very very well with the flavor of the turkey.  And by the way, my husband makes the best barbecued turkey in the world.

This is my version of a recipe by Madhur Jaffrey, which you can see here.  I've adapted her recipe to my way of cooking rice.  I've never actually cooked it her way.

1/2 tsp saffron (optional)
2 tablespoons warm milk (optional)

1 cup basmati rice
1/4 cup ghee, or just plain butter
4 whole cardamon pods
1 stick of cinnamon
1 tash of tumeric (this is what really makes it yellow)
about 2 cups of water
3 to 4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
2 tablespoons golden raisins

The saffron is optional, but if you are using it you need to remember that it should be dealt with about 3 hours before you start the rice cooking.  Fry the saffron in a dry pan until it turns a shade darker.  Soak the saffron threads in the milk for about 3 hours.

Forty-five minutes before you want to cook the rice, rinse the rice well and then put it to soak for thirty minutes.  Then drain well in a strainer for fifteen minutes.  

Heat the ghee or butter in a heavy saucepan, adding the cardamon and cinnamon stick, and fry for a minute.  Add the rice and saute for about 3 minutes, until the rices start to turn white.  Add enough water so that when you stick you index finger into the water to just barely touch the rice  the water will come just to the first joint on your finger.  Stir in the turmeric and bring to a boil.  When it comes to a boil, stir once to loosen any rices that are stuck to the bottom of the pan, then adjust the heat to medium high and leave to cook uncovered until the water is level with the top of the rice.  

At this point stir in the sugar and almonds and raisins and saffron and milk.  Turn the heat to low and cook until there is not water.  It will make a little ticking sound, and when you look down on the rice you can see through the holes to the bottom of the pan.  Remove from the heat, cover, and let sit until dinner time.

As you might suspect, the cardamon and cinnamon should be removed before serving, but I don't do that.  I just warm people.  It's so amusing when they accidently bite into the cardamon.  It's all part of the experience.  I don't add salt to my rice, but you can add a 1/2 teaspoon if you like.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Apple Rhubarb Pie

This came about because after making two rhubarb pies I had a large stick of rhubarb left which was in need of being used.

5 or 6 green apples (not large), peeled, cored, and sliced
1 large stalk of rhubarb, trimmed and diced

3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a good grating of nutmeg

1 to 2 tablespoons butter, for dotting the fruit

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  
Mix the dry ingredients, and then mix in with the fruit.
Roll out the first disc of pastry and place into a 9 inch pie plate.
Put in the fruit mixture and dot with butter.
Roll out the second disc and put on the top. 
Tuck the excess pastry into the pie plate, and crimp the edge.
Dob the top of the pie with just a bit of milk and then sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake for about 50 to 55 minutes.  Cool before serving.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie


This is a classic, and my son-in-law Zac is very fond of it.  My daughters would rather have the rhubarb custard pie, but that is not a dis on this one.  

2 7-9 ounce discs of pastry (I like my crusts to be minimal, and so does my family)

10 ounces of strawberries, washed, hulled, and quartered (halved if they're small)
10 ounces of prepped rhubarb, cut into smallish pieces

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour

butter, for dotting the pie

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Get the first pastry disc rolled out and into a 9 inch pie plate.
Gently turn the excess pastry under, into the plate, leaving a reasonably tall edge.
Combine the sugar and flour, then gently stir in the rhubarb and strawberries.
Pour the fruit into the prepared pie shell and dot with butter.
Roll out the second pastry disc in a fairly rectangular fashion.
Cut the pastry into 10 or 12 strips, and lay on the pie in a lattice.
Make sure that you have something under the pie plate to catch the drips. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, then turn the temperature down to about 360 degrees and bake for another 15 to 25 minutes. The filling takes longer to cook than you think.  Place on a cooling rack, and serve at room temperature. 

Friday, June 13, 2008

Self-rising Flour - Two Thumbs Down

This is just a brief post so that I can vent a frustration. I think that self-rising flour is a travesty for the world of baking. It has entirely too much salt and leavening in it, and I can almost always taste it. The British are really big on using this product, but perhaps Americans and Australians are also. There's been a lot said of late about how good the British cooking is getting, but I think that as long as they keep using self-rising flour in their baking they have not yet refined their taste buds enough to really appreciate good cooking. Even Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson use the stuff.

So this is just to say that I would like to see absolutely everyone out there avoiding the use of self-rising flour. I've even seen it used in recipes that wouldn't call for any leavening anyway. So what's the point? Maybe they just like the taste of baking powder and salt - or is it baking soda? When they tell how to make it if you don't have any, they tell you to add 1 1/2 tsps baking powder plus a pinch of salt to a cup of flour. And I should also imagine that most self-rising flours are using bleached flour, which doesn't taste nearly as good as unbleached flour. So all in all you would get a flat slightly chemical taste from using self-rising flour.

Also - I am totally against using Bisquick.  For a review of this product go here.

But now for the real problem - what to do when a recipe you are interested in calls for self-rising flour. Certainly adding as much leavening and salt as is in the self-rising flour is not the answer, otherwise one would just use self-rising flour. Well unfortunately I do not immediately have a preferred answer, but I am looking into this problem and well get back to this post with an answer some time soon.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Greek Salad for two

1 tomato, cut into small wedges
1/3 cucumber, in large dices
1/4 red pepper, in medium dices
1/4 green pepper, in medium dices
about 3 tablespoons worth of cut up red onion, big enough to be able to spear with a fork
2 to 4 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
4 to 8 kalamata olives, cut in half
a good sprinkling of Country French Vinaigrette, or dried oregano
salt and pepper (sea salt is good)
about 1 to 2 tablespoons of good olive oil

I put all these things into a large soup plate, and then I carefully toss it with two soup spoons.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Macaroni and Cheese with Corn and Ham

This is the kind of recipe that can be made in any dimensions. I'm giving it here for 4 hungry adults. For hungry adults you use 2 ounces of macaroni per person, but there will probably be left-overs, which isn't a bad thing. If you don't want to add ham, add an amount of cheese equal to the amount of macaroni. In this version that would be 8 ounces.

8 ounces of macaroni
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup frozen corn

1/2 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper to taste, and a dash of cayenne if you like
1 heaping tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cups milk, heated up a bit can help, but not necessary
note: if you want the dish saucier increase the milk and flour proportionally. For example: 1 is to 1 1/2 as 1 1/2 is to 2 1/4.

6 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, American, English, or Irish - or more if you like and are feeling cheesey
4 ounces ham, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Put the macaroni on to boil, adding the salt. Cook until au dent.
When done, turn off the heat and put the corn into the water with the macaroni. This step is especially important if using frozen corn, because if you don't heat up the corn it will slow down you cooking time in the oven. Let sit a minute or two to thaw the corn, then drain and put into a 1 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish, or whatever size dish looks like it will accommodate your mac.

While the macaroni is cooking, fry the onion in the olive oil and butter until nice and cooked.
Add the flour, stir about, and heat a minute or two. Slowly stir in the milk, and cook until a nice sauce forms. Add the ham, and then slowly add and stir in the cheese. Pour over the macaroni and corn in the baking dish. Stir in thoroughly, and if you like sprinkle with parmesan cheese to taste. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.