Saturday, November 24, 2012

Turkey Soup with Lemon and Barley

Pinterest has been such a blessing to me - I can pin recipes I think I want to try....and yesterday, I saw this one that my friend Kate had posted.   I already had prepared a turkey stock - the last thing I do each Thanksgiving is to throw the carcass with whatever meat is left on it in the slow cooker with an onion and a carrot and a bay leaf or two, and let it cook on low all night.   The following morning, I pick off the meat and save the stock to make soup.   But after a couple Thanksgiving dinners now, I am getting tired of the traditional Thanksgiving flavors.  I made nachos for lunch and for dinner, I tried my hand at this soup, and it is terrific.  It tastes light and lemony.   It's just what I need after a couple days of really heavy eating.

Turkey Soup with Lemon and Barley
3 T olive oil
1 large onion,  minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and black pepper
1 t ground turmeric
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground ginger
Juice of a lemon (about 3 to 4 Tbsp)
Strips of lemon zest, from one lemon - peel it with a vegetable peeler
6 cups turkey stock or chicken stock
1 cup barley
Whatever leftover turkey you have kicking around
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion and cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chopped garlic and cook another minute, then mix in the turmeric, cumin, ground ginger and a generous pinch of salt.

Pour in the lemon juice and turkey stock and turkey and add the strips of lemon zest. Bring to a simmer, then add the barley. Simmer gently until the barley is cooked, about an hour. 
When the barley is cooked through, add the cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. Remove the lemon zest strips before serving.

Butter Rolls

I'm a blogging fool this weekend - I don't want to forget everything I cooked this Thanksgiving because it was so good.  Here's another recipe inspiration I got from Paul Virant....I never thought to bake rolls in my cast iron skillet. To make these rolls, you need a big 12 inch cast iron frying pan.   It keeps the rolls warm while you are waiting to serve them.

These rolls require no kneading, which is nice when the kitchen's already busy with other things.  I like to use my microwave oven as a "proofing box" - I heat a coffee cup full of water for 3 minutes on high, and leave it in the back of the even and place whatever I need to rise in it and shut the door.   The heat from the water makes a foolproof rise.   Ever since I started doing this, my breads always turn out right.

Butter Rolls

printer friendly

1 t instant yeast
1 1/2 c milk at room temperature
1 T honey
4 c all purpose flour
2 t kosher salt
6 T butter, cubed and softened

In a stand mixer bowl,  add milk and sprinkle yeast on top.   Don't stir, and let it stand for 5 minutes.  Then stir in honey.   Attach the dough hook to the mixer and while it is running on low speed, add half the flour and stir until a paste forms.  Then add the rest of the flour and salt and mix on low speed until smooth, about 4 minutes.   Lightly oil a large bowl, and set aside.   Add butter cubes to bread dough, mixing with your hands in incorporate the cubes evenly into the dough.  Place the dough in the oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until the dough is doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.  Punch the dough down and let it rise again for another 30 minutes or so.

Oil a 12 inch cast iron skillet, set aside.  Lightly flour a work surface, and place the dough on the counter and cut it into 30 golf ball sized balls.   Roll the dough into balls and place in tight concentric circles in the skillet. Cover the pan with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise until rolls have doubled in size.  At this point, you could place them in the fridge overnight, but let them come to room temp before baking.   Preheat oven to 350 F, and bake until dough is evenly browned and baked through, about 30 minutes.   Serve the rolls in the skillet to keep them warm at the table.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cranberry-Apple Crisp

I'm different, I guess.   I bet I am the only person around that would seek out a restaurant because I have read the cookbook of said restaurant.   Next time I am in Chicago, I plan on visiting one of Paul Virant's restaurants, Perennial Virant, which features his canned goods, or Vie, which is out in the suburbs.   It was this cookbook that caught my eye:

I'm interested in trying his recipes for aigre-doux, which is French for "sweet and sour" - canned sauces for savory dishes, but I haven't gotten a chance to do it.   Instead, I found a wonderful recipe for a cranberry-pear crisp that he suggests for the Thanksgiving table.   I didn't have any pears, so I made it with apple instead.  What makes it unique is the crumbly topping - instead of oats and brown sugar, this one is a sweeter crumble.  The texture is more like sand than chunks.  

Cranberry-Apple Crisp

printer friendly

3 apples, peeled, cored and chopped into small chunks
5 c fresh cranberries
2 c sugar
2 c flour
1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 t salt
1 c cold butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Spread apples and cranberries in a 13X9 pan, sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar.  In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the remaining 1 1/2 cup sugar, flours and salt on low speed.  With the mixer still running, add the butter and continue to mix until a coarse crumble forms.  Spread the crumble evenly over the fruit,, pressing it into the fruit.   Bake until the cranberry juices are bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 50 minutes.

Upside Down Apple Gingerbread

I always make pie for Thanksgiving, except this year.   I just wasn't in the mood to do it, and I had some recipes kicking around that I wanted to try for a long time.   Maybe it's because I make pies year round, and gingerbread is something that only seems right in the fall and winter.   I found this recipe originally in an old Taste of Home cookbook, long before it became the rag of a magazine it is now, full of recipes pushing prepared food and paid for product placements.  Back in the day, it was full of people's own recipes and testimonials.   I used to love it!  I changed this recipe to add more ginger - to me, a gingerbread should have a real kick to it.   I also prefer a more robust blackstrap molasses flavor.

Upside Down Apple Gingerbread

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 large apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup brewed tea

Pour butter into a 9-in. square baking pan; sprinkle with brown sugar. Arrange apples over sugar; set aside.
For gingerbread, in a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, then molasses. Combine dry ingredients; add to sugar mixture alternately with tea, beating well after each addition.
Pour over apples. Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Serve warm. Yield: 9 servings.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ann's Cheese Dumplings

My friend Ann is one of the best cooks I know.   I wanted to share her dad's recipe for cheese dumplings - these are terrific!

 Cheese Dumplings

3/4 c parmesan cheese (use the canned Kraft stuff in the green can.   The real stuff doesn't work)
1 egg
4 cups tomato  sauce she uses canned diced tomatoes liquified in the blender
1 zucchini cut into chunks
1 yellow squash cut into chunks

Knead egg and cheese together until you have a dough like mixture.  You want it to easily be able to form one inch balls.  Not too wet, not too dry, they should easily form into balls.

Heat the sauce until it is lava hot.   It works better if the sauce is slightly on the watery side.

Drop the balls in a few at a time after a minute or two they should bob up to the surface and swell up a bit.

When all the cheese balls have popped up add the squash chunks and cook until the squash is tender.

Thanksgiving thoughts

Thanksgiving always involved travel for me, but not the "over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house" kind of idyllic scene.  Ours involved a trip to the faraway land called the "West Side". We'd load up in the car and go to my aunt's house....she lived on the west side....and we lived on the east side.   Native Detroiters speak in this parlance to describe themselves - if you live east of Woodward Avenue, you're what is known as an "east sider".  If you lived west of Woodward, you're a "west sider".   As a kid, I never knew any west siders, in fact, I rarely went west of I-75, let alone Woodward.   When I started working at Ford as an adult, I couldn't find my way around Dearborn because the streets weren't parallel like they are on the east side.   Every once in a while, I accidentally end up in another provenance of Detroit called "Downriver", which borders Dearborn, but it is a notable difference in white urban class status.  Dearborn considered to be more upscale than it's downriver neighbors of Allen Park or Taylor.  I couldn't find my way around the west side. None of the roads were numbered in mile increments, and familiar roads I knew like 15 Mile was called "Maple" and 8 Mile became "Base Line Road".   Weird!

A key difference of the east side vs. west side is that most of the Polish people ended up on the east side.  When the Detroit riots occurred in the 1960s, all the Polish crowd decided to head north of 8 Mile from Hamtramck on a beeline up Van Dyke.   Many landed in Warren, like my family, and as the white flight continued northward, many headed even further up to Clinton Twp. or Rochester during the 1980s.   But for some reason, my mom's sister actually stayed in the city, and sent her kids to Catholic school, and moved to the west side.   She lived in a really nice neighborhood....where Detroit cops lived and some of the Detroit Tigers had homes right on her street.  I don't remember exactly where it was, but I remember the car ride down 8 Mile (this is before I-696 made this commute much quicker) and we'd go under 2 bridges - the first one was the Woodward overpass and the second one was the Southfield Freeway.   We were officially deep into west side territory.   My aunt's house was way nicer than our house - it had a finished basement with a wet bar that my Uncle Carl dubbed "The Happy Hallow" complete with light up sign letting you know that, and really groovy Naugahyde bar stools that spun around.  My sister and I would take turns spinning each other around until we were nauseous.   We liked to spend time in the presence of our ultra hip cousins that were teenagers - the girls wore go go boots and bouffant hair styles and powder blue eye shadow and lots of eye liner, and our mysterious cousin Carl Junior that would come home from U of M for the weekend with his long hair.   I remember wondering if he was a "hippie" and if he took LSD.   Now, as an adult, I realize how far off base I was about him, a bookish man that studied philosophy and currently works in computer support.    

But the best part of my aunt's house was the pool table.   When I was a kid, I loved to shoot pool - I still do, in fact.   My dad taught us pool hall etiquette, i.e. always call your pocket for the 8 ball, do not take another turn if your last shot was "slop", make sure to chalk up the cue, etc.  There was strategy suggestions, too.   For example, shots that involved sending the cue ball across the length of the table are hard - he called them a "long green" shot.   Avoid them!  Or that maybe you wanted to have a "dog" -  to intentionally leave a ball in front of the pocket to block it from your opponent.  We kids would shoot pool any chance we got our hands on a cue.   Once we tired of playing pool, or the uncles decided they wanted to play, we'd play cards.   As small children, we were all taught how to play Pinochle, which is a really hard card game for a kid to learn how to play - there's all sorts of strategy and scoring things you needed to know.   Plus, it was hard to hold 12 cards in my small hands.  My Polish grandpa, who didn't speak much English, would yell at me in Polish if he could see my cards or I reneged.  I hated playing it, and was relieved when Euchre came into vogue, which only required 5 cards in a hand and there was the opportunity to win some money via gambling.   My dad's set wagering was always a dollar a game, 50 cents a euchre.

A No Brainer

Now, some of those traditions still carry on.   Tomorrow, I will drive to the east side to my sister's house.  Living in Ann Arbor means that I am far beyond even what is considered west side territory. I might as well live in another state.  My mother felt that Ann Arbor was "too far away" and would only travel here for Easter, in case there was some black ice on M-14.  She died in 2010, but we still follow her holiday rules: Thanksgiving at my sister's house, Christmas at my brother's and Easter here.  We don't have to worry about the black ice because it is 60 degrees today.  We'll play cards for sure, although I don't remember how to play Pinochle anymore, I'm sure there will be Euchre, maybe some Texas Hold 'Em. My sis has a pool table, so maybe we'll "shoot some stick" (as we used to call it).    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Books I Loved: Seventeeth Summer

Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly

I can't remember how I actually got a copy of this book when I was a kid - maybe it was a garage sale, or the neighbor girls had it, but it was vintage in the 1970s when I had it.  It was paperback, and I had it with this cover on it.   It was written in 1942, and published for adults, it became one of the first to capture a teenaged audience. Some scholars consider it the first "Young Adult" novel. Maureen Daly started writing it when she was 17 herself, and finished it when she was a senior in college.  It has never gone out of print. In fact, its latest reincarnation looks like this:

It is about a 17-year-old girl named Angie Morrow. It takes place in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Angie gets asked out on her first date by the local high school's basketball star, Jack Duluth, age 18. They fall in love but soon the summer will end, for Angie has to go to college in Chicago, and Jack is going back to his home in Oklahoma to help his uncle with the bakery business.

I always loved the description of that summer in Wisconsin.  Once, as a college student, I stopped in Fond du Lac just to see it - it didn't measure up to my expectations of how the book described the town, but I had to make the pilgrimmage.  There was something about how Maureen Daly described the place (and her own home town) that made me want to visit it.  I remember Jack taking Angie out for a sail on Lake Winnebago and whispering that she "sure looked pretty with the wind in her hair".  

Indeed, it was the way she described things that stuck in my head.   To this day, on a hot July day, I think of the beginning of the July chapter when she described the heat of summer:

It was hot. It was hot with a steady, beating heat that comes from a bare sky and a high sun. still and glaring, that covers the whole ground without a shadow. It was the kind of sun in which high school girls go about with their long silk hair pinned in knots on top of their head like scrubwomen, and little children  splash in tubs of shallow water in their back yards and older people drag mattresses onto airing porches and wait for a breeze in the still quiet heat of the evening.

I still think of Angie and Jack going out on their last date ever when they decided to ditch their plans for the evening to bring in the green tomatoes and wrap them in newspaper because her mom was worried about them every time the first frost of the fall catches me by surprise.    I think of Angie's mom telling her that it was good to travel in "clean of the morning" when she boarded the train for college to Chicago every time I leave early on a trip.   It is good to travel in the clean of the morning -so much better than leaving midday or at night.

I've got to find my copy of the book somewhere on my shelves.  It's been a long time since I've re read it.....     

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Used Books

I'm a sucker for used cookbooks - and sometimes, I like to peruse craft and gardening books, too.   One of my favorite haunts is the huge used book section of the Ann Arbor Kiwanis Thrift Sale, held every Saturday 9 am to noon.   Since Ann Arbor is truly a melting pot of people, I can find a wide variety of cookbooks from all over.    This weekend was no exception - here's what I got:

I am a sucker for Junior League Cookbooks, no matter when or where they were published.   I have spent a lot of time in Louisville, KY for business, so this one caught my eye - especially because it has a "special Derby recipe section".   Louisville is one of my favorite US cities because it is beautiful and everyone is so friendly and nice and polite in a Southern hospitality sort of way, and the food is terrific.   I am always on the hunt for a recipe for burgoo - the spicy stew made of whatever wild game you have on hand, which is so popular in Kentucky.   My son and husband hunt, and it's hard to find recipes for rabbit, squirrel, venison, etc.   Sure enough, this book has one from a Mrs. John S. Rhodes.   I love that Junior League cookbooks of this era (1970s and earlier) always refer to the husband's name, but not the wife's first name.   Does the Junior League still do this?   I have a copy of the Junior League of Ann Arbor's Cookbook, which was published in the 1990s, but it doesn't give anyone credit for their recipes.    Still on my quest for burgoo...I also found this cookbook:

from the Garden club of Lexington.  This cookbook is still in print, so it must be pretty good.  Sure enough, there's a recipe for burgoo as well as bourbon balls, another Kentucky favorite that I would like to make this year for Christmas.   There is a good section of candy recipes and pickles and relishes too for canning....including one for pickled green tomatoes and pickled peaches.    Next up, I found:

I liked this book because it promises recipes for the slow cooker, pressure cooker and Dutch oven - all favorite techniques of mine. Interesting recipes like Haitian Chicken-in-a-Pot or Honduran Style Arroz Con Pollo.     Next, I got this pair of books because they looked liked they be interesting reads:

I'm not sure if I would ever cook anything from either, but who doesn't want to learn about Richard II's feasts and Elizabethan recipes?   Plus, Lorna Sass is a fine cookbook writer - I have her pressure cooking cookbooks and they are well done.   Lastly, who doesn't dig vintage Martha Stewart?

This one was written back in 1984 in hardcover, and it is filled with lots of Martha style writing, where everything is "just so" such as her Victorian Christmas party and her life with adorable baby Alexis and her charming husband Andy.    I know Martha has her haters but I've always loved the way she writes.   Wish she'd do more of it now....
So, I paid a whopping $7 for this stack of books that will entertain me for a few weeks!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Dexter Drama Club Cheeseball

 When I got married 20 years ago, I was given a Hallmark recipe book that I used to write my favorite recipes in longhand or physically clip and paste from the paper or magazines.   Now that I have this blog, I rarely use it anymore.  It's now more of a museum of recipes from a long way back in my cooking life, such as my recipe for Olga's Kitchen Bread or Bob Talbert's White Chicken Chili that I clipped from the Detroit Free Press.  It also has some of my favorites from the Ann Arbor News when it had a print edition and a decent cooking section every Wednesday.

I have a couple recipes I copied from The Complete Tightwad Gazette which was a book written back in the 90s about being frugal before it was as fashionable as it is today.  Most of the recipes she wrote about how to stretch your food dollar weren't very good, like adding water to leftover casseroles to make soup the next day.  Yuck!  If you are looking for a much better book on economical cooking, I would suggest An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace, by Tamar Adler.   However, Amy Daczyzyn did leave me with one recipe that I have adapted as my own over the years for a cheese ball.  Her other recommendations, such as having a perpetual garage sale at your house or using a menstrual cup instead of a tampon really didn't leave a lasting impression on my life, but her cheese ball recipe has become mine. 

I have made it so often, I no longer use the recipe itself.   I ditched her suggestion of using pimientos in it in lieu of using more fresh peppers and I much prefer using garlic powder instead of garlic salt.  I added fresh ground pepper to the mix, too.  Not sure why she went for pimentos in the first place - they are way more expensive than red peppers.   She suggested making cheese balls for Christmas gifts, and I have to agree it's a great hostess gift.  I make it for family gatherings - at Christmas time, I like to make it with red and green peppers.  I also make them for the green room for every production of the Dexter Drama Club, and the high school kids love it.   I will make them in bulk the week of the show and store them in the fridge wrapped in plastic, or ahead of time for the holidays.   They freeze well!

Cheese Ball

1/4 brick cream cheese
1 T minced onion
1 t garlic powder
2 T mayonnaise
1/4 c green pepper, chopped fine
8 oz finely grated cheddar cheese
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 c chopped or ground nuts (optional - there's usually a kid with a nut allergy in every production, so I usually skip this when I make it for the drama club)

Combine all ingredients except the nuts in a medium bowl, it's easiest to fix with your hands.   Add salt and pepper to taste.  Form into a ball, and roll in nuts.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours so the flavor melds and the cheese softens and forms a cohesive ball.  Serve with crackers.