Sunday, November 30, 2008

PLUS Grandma's School Lunch Dressing and Orange-Cranberry Relish (week of Nov 23-29)

Grandma's School Lunch Dressing

Those must have been some mighty fine school lunches back in Grandma's day. This is a heavier stuffing than some - especially if made from homemade whole-grain bread. I like the moistness and the savory vegetables. Best if the bread crumbs are crushed or cubed quite small.

Slice thinly and toast in a warm oven enough bread to make:
  • 2 quarts of breadcrumbs
Remove from oven and cube and partially crush the dried-out bread.
Cook over medium heat, until transparent:
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, shredded
  • 2 cups celery, chopped
Mix vegetables and breadcrumbs with:
  • 5 - 6 Tablespoons fresh sage, chopped (1¾ teaspoons dried)
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup milk or broth
  • Salt to taste
Bake at 300° for 1½ hours or until good and hot.

Orange-Cranberry Relish
adapted from Thanksgiving 101 by Rick Rodgers with additions from my Mom.

This relish was the surprise hit of this year's Thanksgiving dinner. 
Good with roasted turkey. 
Great on turkey sandwiches with a little blue cheese
softened with cream cheese the next day.

Cut into quarters and pick out seeds from:
  • 4 - 5 satsumas (or 1 medium orange)
In a food processor, combine one-part satsuma pieces with one-part of
  • 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
until the fruit is evenly chopped.

Mix in:
  • ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped (and the fresher the better, walnuts go rancid dismayingly fast.)
  • 1 cup orange marmalade.

Best Pie Crust + Ginger Pear Pie + Danish Cherry + Ohio Lemon (week of Nov 23-29)

What would Thanksgiving be without pies?

Significantly less festive, if you ask me.  

Pumpkin, of course, is a classic and expected.  

But here are the three pies I most dote on:
Ginger Pear, Danish Cherry and Ohio Lemon.

(The lemon pie is best started
the day before you plan to bake it.)

Best Pie Crust
I used to like the pastry recipe in Joy of Cooking best of all.  That was until my husband bought me Sweety Pies by Patty Pinner for my birthday (clever purchase that) full of womanish wisdom and some of the most delicious pies ever.  I've combined the best of both my best-loved recipes and here is my go-to pie crust recipe.  The secret to pie crust is to be impatient, imprecise and haphazard -- which comes naturally to some of us.  Just move quickly and roughly and not at all thoroughly.  You want to handle the dough as little as possible:

for one 9-inch double crust:

Sift together
  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Measure and combine
  • ¾ cup chilled lard
  • ¼ cup chilled butter (which is the same as 4 Tablespoons, or half a stick)
and then cut the fats into the flour until it all has the texture of a bowl of peas.

Sprinkle in, one tablespoon at a time
  • 2½ - 3 Tablespoons ice-cold heavy cream or evaporated milk
Keep the dough as dry as possible -- tossing until it holds together when lightly pressed.  Gather into a flattened ball and refrigerate, tightly covered in plastic wrap (30 minutes - overnight).

When you're ready to roll it out, divide into two balls (keeping the other ball wrapped and refrigerated until you're ready for it).  Sprinkle a little flour on your pastry cloth and on the cotton sleeve covering your rolling pin.  Press into a small, flat disk and then roll out from the center to the edge, all the way around the disk.  Roll until you have a uniform circle a little larger than the pie pan, about ⅛ - ¼inch thick.

for 5 double crusts (if you're making multiple pies like we do):
11¼ cups flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
2½ teaspoons salt
3¾ cup chilled lard
1¼ cup chilled butter (which is the same as 20 Tablespoons or 2½ sticks)
5-6 Tablespoons ice-cold cream or evaporated milk

***to prebake crust***
 which you'll want to do for many custard pies and meringues

  • Roll out crust and line pie pan.  Flute the edges, then refrigerate for 30 minutes 
  • Preheat oven to 425.  
  • Line the formed crust with parchment paper and sprinkle parchment with pie weights or dry beans.  
  • Bake until the fluted edge begins to turn a very light brown, 8-10 minutes.
  • Reduce oven to 350.
  • Remove weights and parchment.
  • Bake crust another 5-10 minutes until golden brown.  (Depending on whether you'll be putting the crust back in the oven to cook when filled.)
  • Cool pan on a wire rack.  

Ginger Pear Pie
adapted from Epicurious "Pear Pie with Maple and Ginger"

Whenever whenever I make this pie, someone asks for the recipe.  There is just something so perfectly balanced about the lemon with the maple with the ginger with the pear.  If you are using very ripe pears you may want to increase the amount of tapioca to soak up the extra juice.

Prepare pie dough (top & bottom, recipe above). Line pie pan with dough. Position 1 rack in center and 1 rack in bottom ⅓ of oven and preheat to 375°.

Peel, quarter, core, then cut into ⅓”thick wedges:
  • 3 pounds firm but ripe Bosc or Comice pears
Toss in large bowl with:
  • ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca (less if pears are quite firm)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon minced crystallized ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
Transfer filling to crust. Place top crust. Cut several slits in top to allow steam to escape during

Place baking sheet on bottom rack to catch any juices that may bubble over .

Bake pie on center rack until crust is golden brown and juices bubble thickly, tenting pie with foil if crust browns too quickly, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Transfer pie to rack and cool. Serve pie slightly warm or at room temperature.

Danish Cherry Pie

Inspired by recipes for cherry soup and other Danish desserts, I made my own subtly spiced cherry filling to honor family heritage and take the place of the humdrum, over-sweetened canned cherry filling. The varied amounts in flavorings depend on how flavorful the fruit you use - so taste as you go along. You may substitute an undrained bottle of home-canned black cherries for the 2 cans of cherries - in which case you would not add any additional sugar.

Line pie pan with dough (recipe above).

Combine in medium saucepan - DO NOT DRAIN:
  • 1 can Oregon Pitted Red Tart Pie Cherries
  • 1 can Oregon Pitted Bing Dark Sweet Cherries
  • 1½ Tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 drops - ½ teaspoon almond flavoring
  • sugar to taste, if necessary (less than 1 cup - I use none)
Let sit 10 - 15 minutes.
Bring to a simmer and cook until fruit begins to thicken.
Transfer filling to crust. Dot with:
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
Cover with lattice. Bake 10 minutes at 450°, then reduce heat to 350° and bake about 40 minutes longer or until golden brown

Ohio Lemon Pie
from Joy of Cooking, "A very tart Shaker favorite."

I love this pie! 
But do use the whole amount of sugar - 
speaking from experience - it's still very tart!

Grate and reserve the yellow peel from:
  • 2 large lemons
With very sharp knife remove the white inner peel from the lemons and cut them into paper-thin slices. Remove seeds.
Combine in a bowl the lemon slices, grated peel, and:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
let stand 2 to 24 hours—the longer the better.

Preheat oven to 425°. Line a pie pan with dough (recipe above), brush lightly with butter or give a light sprinkling of flour.

Add to the lemon-and-sugar mixture:
  • 4 well-beaten eggs
Stir well. Pour into pastry-lined pan and cover with top crust.
Bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325° and bake about 45 minutes longer.
Cool pie before serving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Creamy Cabbage and Potato Soup (week of Nov 16-22)

Creamy Cabbage and Potato Soup
adapted from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, by Mollie Katzen

Scrub and cut into chunks:

  • 2 - 3 good-sized potatoes

Boil in plenty of water. Drain when tender. Save the water to use as stock.

Meanwhile, in a large kettle cook:

  • 5 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups onion, chopped

After a few minutes add:

  • 2 teaspoons caraway seed
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Cover and let cook over medium-low for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.


  • 8 packed cups shredded cabbage (1 medium head)
  • 6 cups potato water

Cover and simmer 25-35 minutes.

Whip potatoes, blending in:

  • 1 cup heavy cream (or 1 cup half-and-half or 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup sour cream)

and add to the soup. Simmer a few minutes more and serve!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Poverty Soup (week of November 9 - 15)

Rich Poverty Soup

Made from often overlooked trimmings - and other vegetables - the fresher, the better. The beet greens and carrots are both sweet and the Kluski noodles have heft and a soft texture -- all of which makes this soup especially satisfying. The ambitious could substitute homemade noodles, of course.

  • 1 - 2 Tablespoons of olive oil

Saute until soft:
  • one medium onion, chopped
  • 2 - 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 - 3 medium carrots, chopped

Stir in:
  • 1 lb. beet greens, chopped thin

Once greens are wilted, transfer to large stockpot with:
  • 2 - 3 cups beef broth
  • water to taste
  • 16 oz. package of Kluski noodles
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook until noodles are soft (timed according to instructions on package). This soup is even better warmed up the next day for a quick Saturday lunch.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


This is dee-licious. I used bleu cheese and apple juice.

This hearty beef stew is slowly simmered on the stovetop, then topped with Stilton pastry and finished in a hot oven.

7 Tbs. olive oil
1 lb. white button mushrooms, quartered
2 cups frozen pearl onions, thawed
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 1/2 lb. beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 1/2 cups Irish stout
1 cup beef broth
1 lb. carrots, cut into chunks
1 lb. red potatoes, cut into chunks
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh thyme
One 16-inch round Stilton pastry (see related recipe at left)
1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water

In a 5 1/2-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the mushrooms, onions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Dredge the beef in the flour, shaking off the excess. In the Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add one-third of the beef and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes total. Transfer to a separate bowl. Add 1/2 cup water to the pot, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Pour the liquid into a separate bowl. Repeat the process 2 more times, using 2 Tbs. oil to brown each batch of beef and deglazing the pot with 1/2 cup water after each batch. Return the pot to medium-high heat. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add the beef, stout, broth and reserved liquid, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Add the mushrooms, onions, carrots, potatoes and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beef and vegetables are tender, about 3 hours. Preheat an oven to 400°F. Brush the rim of the pot with water. Lay the pastry round on top, allowing it to droop onto the filling. Trim the dough, leaving a 1-inch overhang, and crimp to seal. Brush the pastry with the egg mixture, then cut 4 slits in the top of the dough. Bake for 30 minutes. Let the potpie rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 8 to 10. Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Mom's Hamburger Soup (week of Nov 2 - 8)

My Mom's Hamburger Stew
Soul satisfying for the end of a rainy day.
Brown in a medium skillet:
  • 1 lb organic ground beef
  • 2 onions, chopped
In stockpot, heat:
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
Add and saute:
  • 4 good-sized carrots, sliced into coins or half-coins
  • 8 small to medium potatoes, scrubbed and in small chunks
  • 4 stalks of celery, sliced across stalk into C-shaped curves
Combine browned meat with veggies in stockpot. Add:
  • 1 qt bottled tomatoes
  • 2-3 qts water
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Add more water as necessary. Cook until potatoes are soft about 1 hour.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Quick and Cheesy Macaroni (week of Oct 26 - Nov 1)

Quick and Cheesy Macaroni
adapted from Sam Stern's "Cauliflower Cheese" in Cooking up a Storm: "This is great comfort food. The sauce has to be thick and creamy with punchy seasoning and a really strong-tasting Cheddar. You want it smooth, so measure out the ingredients as exactly as you can."

Rather than baking the sauce over steamed cauliflower, we simply poured it over leftover pasta spirals that had been reheated in a buttered dish in the oven at about 250 degrees. Very quick and very tasty. (We used whole milk - yes, organic - because we're weird that way.)


  • macaroni or other mid-sized pasta


  • salted water

for 12 minutes. Drain.

On low heat, melt in a saucepan:

  • 4 Tablespoons butter

Gradually stir in:

  • 1/4 cup flour

Continue stirring until the mix bubbles. Don't let it brown

Remove from heat. Whisk in:

  • 2 cups milk

beating constantly so that the milk and flour mix together smoothly without lumps.

Return pan to heat. Continue cooking, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens, then simmer 2 to 3 more minutes, continuing to stir so it doesn't burn.


  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper

Return to the heat and stir for 1 minute. Pour over cooked pasta and mix together. (If you want, you may bake at 450 for 30 minutes.)