Monday, March 28, 2016

Mrs. King's Lasagna - Updated

Mrs. King's Lasagna
Last Friday, for the first time, Tom made Mrs. King's lasagna using the recipe here on the blog. I am the one who has usually made it over the years --- and  he made a good substitution :  ricotta for the cottage cheese --- which made the sauce silkier.

Plus there were several other areas in the recipe that would benefit from clarification, so I am reposting it.  Like how long to bake it!  Emily pointed that out to me.

Mrs. King's Lasagna (Updated)
(from our neighbor, growing up.  Her husband worked with our dad.)

Serves 6 to 8

1/2 lb. lasagna noodles (half of a box, not a whole box)
2 T. cooking oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 lb. ground beef, pork and veal mix (sometimes called meatloaf mix)
2 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 T. basil
1 1/2 cups water
2 6-ounce cans of tomato paste (with Italian herbs, if desired)
2 eggs, beaten
1 pint cottage cheese (or ricotta)
1/8. t. freshly ground nutmeg
1 T. minced fresh parsley or 1/2 T. dried parsley
1/2 lb. mozzarella, shredded
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Heat water for lasagna while you prepare the meat sauce, and the cottage cheese/egg sauce.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Heat oil in skillet, cook garlic and onion until soft.  Add meat and seasoning and cook until crumbly. 
Add tomato paste and hot water.
Simmer 5 minutes or so and set aside.

Blend beaten eggs with cottage cheese (or ricotta for a silkier sauce) in bowl.  Add nutmeg and parsley and stir to mix. 

Cook noodles as directed and drain. Usually 10 minutes.

In a baking dish (9x13x2) put a thin layer of meat sauce, half the noodles, all the cottage cheese ...

This is where the recipe stops because I have lost the second card over the years.  So, I just put a third of the remaining meat sauce on top, then another layer of noodles, more meat sauce,
half the mozzarella, another layer of noodles, the remaining meat sauce, the remaining mozzarella.
and top it with the Parmesan cheese.

If you run out of sauce as I have at times, just open a jar of pre-made spaghetti sauce and layer it in.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until bubbly all around and browning on top. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.  Sprinkle fresh parsley on top.  

Here are some cooking tips I used when cooking the recipe.  Salt along the way I add a pinch when I start the onions, and keep adding and tasting throughout the course of cooking the sauce, so it doesn't end up over salted.

Add your garlic well after the onions have started cooking so you don't burn your garlic.

A ground meat mix of beef, pork and veal makes a creamier, richer meat sauce than straight beef.  Be sure to buy lean meat or drain off most of the fat.

I use lots of basil so the basil flavor really comes through in the sauce.

The nutmeg is a really nice touch, so I would not omit it.  Dried parsley works just as well as fresh parsley.

Also don't make a whole box of lasagna noodles, you will just end up wasting them.  8 ounces or half a box is enough to make the lasagna.

Serve it with a nice salad.  I like to make the Arugula Salad with Shaved Grana Padama.


Friday, March 25, 2016

Spanish Rice with Chickpeas and Chorizo

Spanish Rice with Chorizo

Discovered this dish last year when we were going around the world and it was the month of Spain.  I happened to have a terra cotta cazuela so I thought it would be fun to use it for an authentic dish.

Cazuelas are sturdy clay pots which are safe to use in the oven and on the stovetop, if properly cured. Here's a website with an assortment of them: La Tienda, a purveyor of Spanish goods.   I got mine a long time ago at Williams-Sonoma.  Sometimes I see smaller ones at TJMaxx.

If you don't have a cazuela, just start the dish in a large saucepan and then transfer it to an oven safe casserole.

The chickpeas, and the sweet currants, go well with the garlic and tomatoes.  It is an unusual combination but really tasty.

I made the dish again recently, and I made it even better by adding spicy chorizo sausage and authentic Spanish rice -- the kind used in paella that absorbs flavors.  Yum!

Spanish Rice with Chorizo
(adapted from The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden)

Serves 8

1 14 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
5 T. olive oil
a head of garlic, not peeled
1 cup dried currants or raisins, soaked in water for 20 minutes and drained
1 large tomato, peeled and chopped (I did not bother peeling it)
1 t. sweet paprika or pimenton dulce
5 cups chicken stock
2.5 cups medium-grain Spanish paella rice or risotto, such as Arborio or Carnaroli
1 lb. chorizo sausage, browned and cut into links

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  And brown the chorizo, so it is partially cooked.  Cut the meat into 2-3 inch links, if needed.
Heat oil in a large cazuela or casserole that goes in the oven.  Add the garlic and half the currants or raisins and stir over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato and paprika or pimenton dulce and stir well.
Then add the chickpeas
then add the stock, and some salt  Bring to a boil, add the rice and stir well.

Tuck the pre-browned chorizo sausage in around the edges, and move the garlic into the middle, then sprinkle the remaining currants or raisins over the top.

Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until the rice is tender.

When serving, squeeze out a clove of the soft garlic for each person to use as a condiment.

For leftovers, we simply reheated the dish, covered, in a 350 degree oven, until warm.

The chorizo sausage can be omitted and then the rice dish can be served with chicken or shrimp.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Easter Scalloped Potatoes from Colleen (2009)

Note from B:  This was originally posted in 2009, the year I started Feast Everyday.  Colleen, my sister-in-law,  has been a contributor from the very beginning --- and we have enjoyed her many recipes, her fun facts about food chemistry as well as her sense of humor.  Thanks, Colleen.

Hi Barb,

Our friend, Alexis, came for Easter dinner and brought her potatoes and they are delicious, so I thought I would forward. I believe the difference is in the leeks and the Yukon golds. We had them with a Honey Baked Ham, grilled vegetables (peppers, asparagus, scallions and zucchini), pumpkin bread, salad, some of LMR's pear jam, and chocolate mousse. Oh My! --- Colleen

Scalloped Potatoes
(From Colleen's Friend - Easter 2009)

8 servings

--prep 30 minutes (really more like 45)
--cook 30 minutes
--bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes (this is flexible)


3 lbs Yukon gold potatoes peeled and 1/4 inch slice
2 tsp salt


1/4 C butter (or half with olive oil)
1 clove garlic grated
1-2 leeks trimmed and chopped (about 2 c chopped)
1/4 C flour
3 C chicken broth (with 1-2 TBS Better Than Bullion for flavor) or replace some chicken broth with sherry to taste
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper (or black)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
8 oz. grated cheddar (or whatever cheese 4 cheese Mexican is nice too)

How To:

-Boil sliced potatoes for 6-8 minutes until they just barely bend rinse with cold water...this is the part the separates the men from the boys.
-Make the sauce -- in a saucepan melt butter saute leeks and garlic in butter/oil until soft
-Stir in flour to make a stiff paste
-Whisk in chicken broth until smooth
-Add pepper and cayenne
-Stir until it thickens
-Add 1/2 the cheese
-Spray a pan with oil
-Put potatoes in one layer
-Pour some sauce
-Sprinkle some cheese
-Repeat until the pan is full and the potatoes and sauce are gone

At this point if you want to you can cover and put in the fridge overnight. Or you can bake immediately at 375 degrees. (If you're taking the dish cold from the fridge, put it in the oven while it heats.)

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

You can vary this recipe by replacing 1/2 the chicken broth with milk... you can also add curry to the sauce... and whatever to add flavor... think of it as a blank canvas...


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Chocolate Muffins with a Hint of Cinnamon

Chocolate Cinnamon Muffins

A very filling muffin.  A cross between a brownie, a cupcake and a muffin.

The cinnamon is a nice touch.  Cinnamon and chocolate are a good combo, especially for a muffin to go with coffee in the morning.

I reworked the recipe several times -- lowering the temperature of the oven, using buttermilk instead of milk, adjusting the salt, etc. -- and now I think they are "blog-worthy."

Chocolate Cinnamon Muffins
(adapted from Homesick Texan)

Makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 t. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. to 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. regular salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease twelve regular muffin cups.

You will need two bowls.  A smaller one for the wet ingredients.  And a larger one for the dry ingredients.

Stir together the sugar, oil, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.

In the larger bowl, whisk or sift together:  flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add the chocolate chips to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir just until combined.  Don't overmix or your muffins will become tough.

Fill the muffin cups three-quarters full.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  22 minutes is what mine have been taking.  Don't overbake.  Take them out sooner rather than later, just like brownies, or they will be too dry.

Let them cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes (until the chips firm up) and then turn them out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.

They freeze well.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Old-Fashioned Ham Salad

 Old-fashioned Ham Salad

Tom loves ham salad.  We used to be able to get it freshly made at Wegman's from their deli, but they started bringing it in pre-made and it isn't very good.  So, Tom has been going without it.

While Tom was recuperating, I decided to make him some from our leftover ham.  I turned to James Beard's American Cookery, to look up how to make it.

A good use of leftover ham.  Especially after a holiday, like Easter.

Ham Salad
(James Beard's American Cookery)

Makes 4 cups

2.5 cups diced cold ham
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely cut green onions (I used dried 2-3 T. minced onions)
1/4 cup finely chopped pickles -- sweet gherkins
mustard, optional

I used my mini-Cuisinart to pulse the ham into light, chipped-ham bits, to make the texture smoother and therefore, more spreadable, rather than just dicing the cold ham as called for in his recipe.

I also used dried minced onions instead of fresh onions, which take a little while to hydrate in the salad, but I find they make a salad like tuna salad, or ham salad, less pungent.  Another way to add the onion with less obvious-ness would be to grate the onion instead of dicing it.  

Combine the ham, celery, green onions, and chopped pickles, and bind with manyonnaise to taste.  If you like, add some mustard to the mayonnaise.

Serve with crackers, buttered toast, or as a salad on a bed of lettuce and a garnish of hard boiled eggs, sliced tomatoes and olives.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Everything Spread by Colleen

Mezzetta's Everything Spread: 
Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil

Hi Barb--

I  can't believe it's already been a month since Tom's surgery.

In the interest of eating well quickly, I'm sharing this product.

It's one of the four Everything Spreads from Mezzetta which I believe is stocked at Wegman's.*

It is delicious on sandwiches and chicken.

I made pasta the other night and stirred in about 2/3 of a jar with some fresh basil, toasted pine nuts and Parmesan.

Fabulous and dead easy.

You can also use it on bruschetta and veggies.

We discovered this product and are having fun trying it out.  The Mezzetta website is very good and has lots of recipes.



*NOTE from B:  Wegman's does not stock this particular Mezzetta's item, but I have asked for it.  I will look at Target, TOPS, and Wal-mart.  Or perhaps Aldi's.  If anyone finds it let me know.  In the meantime, it can be ordered from the Mezzatta's website or through Amazon.  

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie

Prior to Tom's knee replacement surgery -- which was a month ago now -- we were pre-shopping, i.e., stocking up on things we thought would be handy to have on hand or would be tasty while we were holed up during his recovery.

Tom had LOVED the key lime pie Mary C. had made for him last year when he was recovering from his thumb injury.  So, a bag of key limes were added to the cart, even though I have never made a key lime pie.

Fast forward, this weekend I found the bag of key limes hiding in the refrigerator.  So, Tom asked Mary for her recipe.  Thanks, Mary!

It is so easy!

I made the graham cracker crust, but a store-bought crust would be just as fine.  I juiced the bag of key limes, but bottled juice works just fine.  fyi-The juice was in the cocktail section of our grocery store, not with the lemon and lime juice.

Key Lime Pie
(from the back of the bottle of Nellie & Joe's Famous Key Lime Juice)

1/2 cup key lime juice (fresh or bottled)
3 egg yolks
1 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 pre-cooked and cooled 9" graham cracker crust pie shell
whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Into a bowl, empty the can of sweetened condensed milk.  It is very thick and syrupy.

Separate the egg yolks from the whites.  Add the 3 eggs yolks to the milk.

Stir until well-combined.

Add the 1/2 cup of key lime juice.

Stir gently until well-combined, but don't over whisk.  You don't want to add air bubbles to your custard.

Pour into cooled graham cracker crust.

Bake for 14- 15 minutes, until it set but still quivers when the pan is nudged.

Alternatively,  you can bake it in a slower oven at 325 degrees for 15-17 minutes which is what I did.

Let it sit for 10 minutes before refrigerating.  Or let cool completely on a wire rack.

Serve with whipped cream.

And you add a garnish of a sliced key lime if you wish.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Cowboy Beans with Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is the twist which makes these cowboy beans special...

And the pink beans that my sister, Christine, sent us for Christmas from Rancho Gordo, a Napa, California grower of heirloom beans.  (Click here to learn about Rancho Gordo.)

fyi - Pinto beans are the traditional cowboy beans.  And ground beef is used instead of beef jerky.

Don't confuse baked beans with cowboy beans.  Even though they both use molasses and mustard, baked beans get their flavor from pork and they are sweeter and thicker than cowboy beans.

Baked beans use Great Northern (navy) beans versus pinto beans. Cowboy beans are made with beef, chili powder is added to season them, and they are soupier.

They are delicious!

This recipe came from Homesick Texan, and it makes a huge batch.   Would be good for a big BBQ or potluck.

We served them with many meals -- with ham, and later in burritos.  And as a side for baked chicken.
Cowboy Beans
(adapted from Homesick Texan)

Serves a crowd

1 pound dried pinto beans or pink pinquitis
1/2 yellow onion or 1 small whole onion
2 cloves garlic
3 ounces beef jerky, diced
1/2 cup brewed coffee
2 T. molasses
2 T. prepared mustard
1 T. chili powder (we prefer Penzey's chili 9000 mix)
salt and pepper
cornstarch, if necessary --- for thickening the liquid

Pick over the beans and remove any debris or small stones. (Always a good practice to go through your beans before you start to soak or cook them.)

In a very large pot, cover the beans with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil.  Turn to low and simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.  Drain the beans and rinse.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Return the beans to the pot and add the onion and garlic.  Cover with one inch of water (I added too much, so be sure to just add one inch) and bring to a boil.
Cover and bake in the oven for 1 hour.
Time to add the flavorings. Remove the pot, and stir in the diced beef jerky, coffee, molasses, mustard and chili powder.
Return the pot to the oven, turn up the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and continue to cook, uncovered, until the beans are tender and the liquid is reduced and thickened, 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours, depending on the age of the beans.
Take them out of the oven.  They should be slightly soupy.  Mine were too soupy.

Our beans were fresh and cooked quickly, and I had added too much water, so I decided to remove the liquid from the pot, put it in a saucepan, bring it to a boil, then whisk in a slurry of 1 T. cornstarch dissolved in water, to thicken it, and then return it to the pot.
I did this because the liquid was where all the flavor was, even though the beans were also tasty.  I thought it better to coat each of the beans by thickening the sauce, to retain the flavor.

Add salt and pepper to taste.