a new cookbook

I don’t just make up recipes I actually follow recipes and read cookbooks. I will admit I have a lot of cookbooks, as I love cookbooks and gardening books. One of my favorites over the years has been The New York Times cookbook.

I bought my copy of The New York Times cookbook in either 1990 or 1991. It was done by Craig Claiborne. I also have a copy of the 1961 original cookbook. You can find them all over. My copy of the 1961 edition came from a fair book tent years ago – an impulse buy. My 1990s version I splurged for, and some of the pages are stained and the cover has been taped back together.

For 2022 I just bought the updated and revised edition by Amanda Hesser. I think there was another one from 2010 but I don’t have that edition. That one is also by Amanda Hesser.

Apparently the edition we can now find in 2022 I think it was supposed to come out in late 2019 or early 2020. Thank La vida COVID for that I think.

The author/editor Amanda Hesser, is a former New York Times food critic and successful author who is also the co-founder of the Food 52 website, which is a favorite of mine.

One of her best known books is Cooking for Mr. Latte written a bunch of years ago. It also lives in my library and is actually kind of special to those of us who went to Shipley. You see it was kind of written about her husband and their courtship. He was a year ahead of me at Shipley and is in his own right an incredibly accomplished author and writer for The New Yorker, Tad Friend. I also have one of his books in my library and understand he has a new book due out this spring.

But back to the cookbooks of it all. The New York Times Cookbook is one of the essentials that every home chef should have in his or her personal library. And maybe I am just old school, and although you can find almost any recipe you want on the Internet, there’s nothing like cracking open a book.

Treat yourself to the new and updated and expanded New York Times cookbook. It’s still maintains a lot of your favorite old recipes that you know from the New York Times cookbook, but as I’ve been swimming through it I see lots of new recipes. And the thing about this book is it’s not complicated or intimidating the recipes are things that you can do.

Please note I am not being compensated in anyway shape or form for writing about this. I love books, I love cookbooks and I love to cook. Maybe someday I will have my own little self-published cookbook, but I can’t hold a candle to an updated classic like this! In the meantime I will continue to wish for occasional help cleaning up the kitchen in my house! It’s fun most of the time being chief cook and bottle washer, but sometimes I just wish I didn’t have dishpan hands.

Thanks for stopping by- I am actually going to make chicken chili this afternoon. Yes my own recipe, no one famous.

my golden mushroom soup

Mushroom soup is definitely a Chester County thing. And I have tried tons of different recipes and read about different recipes and nothing quite was what I wanted.

Above is the soup I came up with. It has shredded chicken in it and I only use baby Bella mushrooms. And I use a chicken broth base. Specifically I make bone broth.

No real recipe exists BUT what I do is I make bone broth in my small instant pot (3 qt or 2.8 liters.)

I have boneless skinless chicken breast in my freezer in individual serving sizes. I used 5 portions this time that I just poach simply and then the broth comes from poaching them eventually also goes into the big pot when I get to that point. When the chicken has cooled I shred it to be added back into the soup later.

But before I do any adding back, I sauté three large onions (red and white), two shallots, two packages of baby Bella mushrooms (2 10 oz packages), Herbes de Provence and salt in butter. Just a few tablespoons of butter (maybe 5?). When the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are tender I’ll use a couple shakes of the Wondra gravy making flour (very fine flour for those not familiar) and stir around until it cooks in the pot.

Then I add in the shredded chicken. Then I add the bone broth (strained). I will also note that I cut up the carrots I used in the making of the bone broth into little pieces and add that as well.Then I cook down on low for a few hours and add a few tablespoons of ricotta and 2 tablespoons of cream cheese. I stir that in let it cook some more and serve. Before I serve it I add a little fresh ground cracked pepper and stir that in as well.

The soup is not clear but it’s not heavy creamy.

Note that people act like bone broth is so complicated. And it’s not. When you roast a chicken save the carcass and freeze it. When you buy a chicken to roast save the gizzards, liver, and neck and wing tips and freeze them. To that you add water, celery, carrots, onion, white wine, and spices and salt of your choice and set the pot on soup/broth. It’s that simple.

I like this soup. And I like it because it’s not quite clear and it’s not super dense creamy. Super dense creamy soups look wonderful but they are hard on the digestion. And I think with this soup you also get the great flavor of the baby Bella mushrooms.

Anyway that’s kind of how I make it and I hope it works for you.

new year, new quiche

So we had a ham for Christmas. I decided to use some of the leftovers on a quiche.

I was tired after all of the cooking and baking I have done this holiday season, so I used a refrigerated Pillsbury Pie Crust – the kind that come rolled two to a package so I could use my own pie plate.

Preheat oven to 425°.

Here are your ingredients:

1 pie crust

1 cup chopped ham

1 cup shredded (or grated) Swiss cheese

1/3 cup shredded (or grated) extra sharp Cheddar cheese

1 grated (yes grated) small onion (I prefer a red onion)

5-6 eggs beaten

1 1/2 cups half and half

5 tablespoons whole milk Ricotta (drained)

Salt and pepper (not a lot truthfully – maybe 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

A couple of dashes of hot sauce (a light hand, not heavy)

Chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill.

Sauté ham and onion in a tablespoon of butter do not let stick to pan keep stirring. Onion should become translucent and then remove from heat.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs with half and half and Ricotta. Add dill, hot sauce, salt & pepper.

Line pie plate (I use a deeper dish pie plate) with crust. Rub bottom of crust lined in pan with just a smidge of very soft butter.

Place ham in crust as first layer. Second layer is shredded (grated) Swiss and cheddar. Slowly pour in egg mixture.

Cover crust with a pie shield or foil to keep edges of crust from burning. I use a silicone one – it’s adjustable.

Place quiche on a cookie sheet and put in oven and bake for 15 minutes at 425° F.

Then lower heat to 325° F and bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes depending upon your oven. You will have to occasionally check it once it hits the 30 minute mark and keep checking it to see when a knife edge comes out clean.

Quiche should sit a good 20 minutes before slicing.

New year, new quiche and the secret to how fluffy it will seem is the ricotta.

Enjoy!

christmas traditions, baking, and even a miracle

As I have mentioned in previous years on this blog, in our neighborhood we have our own little tradition. We leave each other a little gift. I delivered mine yesterday and so did my one next-door neighbor, and bit by bit there are more little surprises appearing on our doorsteps in time for Christmas. We know these elves well, they are our neighbors. And this is one of my favorite Christmas traditions since moving to this neighborhood.

The neighborhood behind us does luminaries up and down their street on Christmas Eve. We see it through our woods from upstairs and it’s so lovely to look at!

I have done my baking including the Christmas stollen. This year I tried a new recipe using sourdough starter and oh and how it did rise! I did deviate slightly because I filled mine with marzipan.

I also made Lebkuchen for the first time. I could not find those German wafers you are supposed to use so I used a King Arthur recipe that makes them like bar cookies. This is the case with many king Arthur recipes I have discovered over the years I have had to tweak it. Their recipe was very dry and it omitted powdered anise which most other recipes contain. You don’t use a lot just a little smidgen. To combat the dryness of the dough, and I added about four or 5 tablespoons of buttermilk. The dough also completely crumbled apart once I was able to start to roll it the next day so I ended up pressing it into the pan. But it did turn out well and I added more liquid to the glaze because 2 tablespoons of brandy was not enough. I actually used about 4. I actually used a local Brandy that is apple brandy from Manatawny Still Works .

I will note I tried to tell King Arthur flour about the issues in their recipe and they were kind of ridiculous about it. Told me maybe I lived in a dry high altitude climate. (Umm no, live in Chester County, PA) and then they had to tell me how maybe I let some extra flower “slip into the bowl”. Umm no again so I will just tell you all my workarounds.

I didn’t get around to my anisette cookies or biscotti this year, but I baked a whole bunch of still traditional Christmas cookies. Big soft ginger cookies, sugar cookies, a couple different kind of chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, and white chocolate oatmeal cookies. On one batch of the chocolate chip cookies I was in too much of a rush and I forgot to add the eggs. So they ended up like chocolate chip lace cookies. Still perfectly edible.

Now for my Christmas miracle. I just found out that one of my growing up friends who lives in upstate New York just emerged from a coma. She was in a coma for the past two months.

It was kind of freaky the way I found out I just had this weird feeling because I hadn’t heard from her and we usually speak every couple of months. I thought about her a few days ago because I heard the old Kansas song “dust in the wind”. She and one other person I know from high school loved that song. And then the other day she just popped into my head and I realized I hadn’t heard from her.

I went to call her cell phone and the call just dropped and went nowhere. So I went to social media and saw that her brother had posted she’s been in a coma and was awake. So thanks to Facebook I was able to message and then video chat with her yesterday. That makes her the official Christmas miracle. She literally could have never ever woken up.

It was one of those things where everyone who knew thought those of us who did not know knew, only we didn’t. She was even a story in a newspaper in Auburn, NY that contains a link to a Go Fund Me to help with expenses. Yes she has health insurance, but another thing happened to her while she was in a coma for two months: somebody who went to “visit her“ in the hospital made off with her cell phone and the bank card that was tucked inside the case that no one knew was there.

As she told me yesterday this person essentially cloned her identity, emptied her bank account, and sold her expensive phone to one of those we buy used phone places near her. That apparently was caught on some kind of security camera I guess it was in a mall. As I am told the police have not apprehended this person yet but Karma is a bitch and they should just turn themselves in. I mean how do you do that to somebody in a coma? I hope as an additional Christmas present somebody turns that person in, and I think that if the phone was sold at a place that buys used phones, obviously that store knows who they are and they should come forward because that cell phone contained photos of her son who passed away a couple years ago and also of her late mother.

But for the grace of God go any of us, and his Christmas day is now literally right around the corner, I hope everyone has a wonderful and blessed Christmas. I also hope everyone is safe because Covid is on the rise again.

If I don’t post again, I hope all of you have a very Merry Christmas.

happy thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving readers! Preparations are underway in my house and the pie is not as perfect as I had hoped, but will taste good. This year‘s pie is pumpkin with maple sugar candied pecans and diced candied ginger.

My husband brined the bird (a beautiful fresh turkey from Loags in Elverson, PA). Now the lady of the day is resting in refrigerated splendor waiting to be stuffed and roasted. The stuffing has been prepared and is also being refrigerated in a mixing bowl. This year I am doing a sage and sausage stuffing with mushrooms and diced apricots.

This year I chunked and par boiled the sweet potatoes slightly . I will roast them in the oven when the turkey comes out to rest. I think they will be roasted savory and sweet with just a hint of spice. I will also be serving a green salad with a maple mustard vinaigrette and it will be topped with some candied walnuts and cranberries. And yes there is homemade cranberry sauce. This year I made cranberry sauce with tangerines.

I don’t actually consult lots of cookbooks for Thanksgiving. It’s kind of based on things I’ve seen, other things I’ve been reading about and flavor profiles that I just think will go together. If you can read my chicken scratch and homemade shorthand you can see some of what I wrote down because I do write it down sort of…

I’m lucky this year I have lots of fresh herbs in the garden and although I’m only making one pie and one turkey as opposed to Martha Stewart posting on Instagram the ridiculous amount of turkeys and pies she was baking. I guess she’s feeding an entire town or something.

I think one of the things I love best about Thanksgiving or the smells that fill the house. It’s familiar, comfortable, holiday.

I also watched the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade for the first time in decades. It was really good! I think I liked it better than the New York parade! It was more holiday happy!

Anyway Happy Thanksgiving all!

a spin on chicken sauce piquant

A friend from Baton Rouge, Louisiana phoned the other day and some how we got on the topic of Cajun/ Cajun inspired food. He gave me his Chicken Sauce Piquant recipe. I have modified it to suit what I was doing so here it is (my version):

1 cut up whole chicken
2 onions – one red. One white
4 red hatch chiles sliced
2 Italian green sweet long peppers sliced
3 stalks of celery diced (like 2/3 cup)
Salt & Pepper
Garlic
Cajun seasoning
2 Tuscanini Italian Tomato Sauce, Premium Italian Passata, 17 oz (amazing and I hate prepared sauce)
1 small package of andouille sausage sliced into thin rounds (about 8 oz is the package I used)
Wine to deglaze pan after removing chicken to start vegetables

Rice on the side.

Now here are my friend’s recipe notes that I based this off of:

Ingredients

1 chicken cut in pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
tomato sauce
2 tablespoons corn starch
Salt
Black pepper
Cayenne pepper
Garlic powder
4 tablespoons cooking oil

Directions:

Heavily season chicken with salt, peppers, and garlic powder.

Brown chicken using oil in Dutch oven pot on medium high heat, then remove chicken from pot.

Sauté onions until clear on medium to medium low heat, then add tomato sauce.

On medium low heat, stir onion-tomato sauce gravy for 5 minutes or until sauce turns darker.

Add chicken back to pot stirring gravy and chicken to blend and cover the chicken.
With heat on medium low, cover pot and cook for 40 minutes stirring occasionally.

Mix corn starch with 2 tablespoons of water, then pour into chicken sauce stirring well. Let sauce simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve over rice

I dredged my chicken in flour with Cajun spices and garlic powder before browning, so I omitted corn starch and deglazed the pan before sautéing vegetables. I omitted the Cayenne pepper because I used my own home grown peppers. I will note I caused the smoke detector to go off when I deglazed the pan.

Everything simmered on the stove a good couple of hours (I didn’t time it, sorry). Really good. Spicy but not burn the inside of your mouth out spicy…just good spicy. And the tomato sauce/gravy was a wonderful not too thick but thick enough consistency.

Mmmmmm

mrs. stull’s tomato jam

A few years ago I went to a Smithfield Barn on-site estate sale in Coatesville. It was out of the center of town, and it was in neighborhoods which I guess started to go up post World War II.

It was this cute little two-story house with a really big garden out back. I remember that the man who lived there must have worked for Lukens Steel, because there was memorabilia from there. This house also had these cases in a library-type room full of Dicken’s Village houses.

Anyway, in this estate sale there was some great kitchen stuff, including vintage cookbooks which I love. Vintage cookbooks are simply more helpful a lot of the time. At this sale I bought a vintage canning book. I have been experimenting more and more with canning since I moved to Chester County. And a lot of it is to use produce that I grow in my own garden.

Inside this cookbook were two recipes for tomato jam. Well one is for tomato marmalade and I’m not sure if the recipe is complete or not but I am going to transcribe both recipes for all of you today.

Mrs. Stull’s Tomato Jam

1 tablespoons pickling spices

1 teaspoons ginger root

4 cups sugar

2 thin sliced lemons

3/4 cup water

1 1/2 quarts / 2 pounds firm ripe tomatoes

Tie spices in a cheese cloth bag. Add to sugar, lemon, and water in a big pot. Simmer 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook gently ‘til tomatoes clear.

Stir, cover, and let stand 12/18 hours in a cool place.

Next heat up water in a canner pot.

Ladle tomatoes into jars leaving 1/4” head space. Add extra syrup from jam pot over tomatoes. Can with a 20 minute hot water bath.

6 1/2 pints.

Mrs. Stull’s Tomato Marmalade

3 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut in pieces

1 orange seeded and sliced thin

1/2 lemon seeded and sliced thin

1 1/2 pounds white granulated sugar (or around 3 1/2 cups)

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and cook slowly – three hours – stir frequently until thick. Pour in hot sterilized jars and seal in a water bath.

Now I have transcribed the recipes for you verbatim. And I made a batch of tomato jam yesterday. I used both recipes to put it into one. I use the tomato jam recipe as the base, and then the tomato marmalade recipe was used for inspiration.

The extra ingredients I added were as follows: a small thinly sliced lime, a teaspoon or so of ground cumin, one Vidalia onion chopped fine, and one red hatch chili pepper minced.The extra ingredients I added were as follows: a small Finley sliced lime, a teaspoon or so of ground cumin, one Vidalia onion chopped fine, and one red hatch chili pepper minced. I used half a cup of water and a quarter cup of cider vinegar, instead of 3/4 cup of water.

Before I put everything into the jam pot I blanched and peeled all my tomatoes. While not difficult to do, it is labor-intensive. But I blanched the tomatoes and then I let them cool off for an hour or so. I kept some of the “tomato water“ back to use in the jam.

I will note I cooked the jam down for a few hours. Over a low heat like when I make apple butter. I really am pleased with the flavor profile of the jam and I just sort of had to fiddle with the cooking of it because it really wasn’t clear on the handwritten recipes. But handwritten recipes hidden away in vintage cookbooks are like kitchen gold.

After cooking the jam down I jarred and tidied everything up and did a hot water bath for about 20 minutes. I let everything sit out on the counter on wooden cutting boards overnight and cool, tightened the lids this morning and labeled.

Thanks for stopping by!

roasted squash soup

There are a lot of things I just make. There is no recipe, there’s nothing I look to, it’s just in my head. But today friends asked me to write down how I make my roasted squash soup.

So how did squash soup happen? Two weeks in a row I have gotten squash in my vegetable box. So squash soup popped into my head since it was a comparatively cool day (finally) to be in the kitchen. I decided small fresh sweet potatoes would be added to thicken it up and bone broth made in the InstantPot. Lots of fresh herbs from garden for the broth. When broth is ready and vegetables are cooled from roasting, into another pot it all goes to cook and purée with hand (immersion) blender.

So basically I lined a half sheet pan (18” x 13”) with foil, cut up all my hard sided squashes, baby sweet potatoes, and a couple of chili peppers from the garden, and sprinkled a little olive oil , some tikka masala powder, hawayij spice blend, and salt. I roast everything in a 425° oven for about 40 minutes. Then I turned the oven off and just left the vegetables in there with the door closed until everything cooled down.

Now for the broth part. I keep a Ziploc bag in my freezer where I put the gizzards and necks from whole chickens I buy to roast. I keep those in a bag in the freezer when I want to make broth. Sometimes I even save a chicken carcass after cooking (and freeze it) but that’s not what I used this time. This time I had a bag full of liver, gizzards and chicken necks. Literally like six sets. I used my small InstantPot which makes 3 quarts of broth.

How do I make the broth besides the chicken parts? One onion cut in 4, a couple of carrots cleaned and chunked, salt, rosemary/thyme/sage from the garden. I add water, leaving approximately 2 inches clearance from the top of the InstantPot liner pot. I hit the broth button and let it cook.

After both the vegetables are roasted and the broth is cooked I let everything cool down so I can proceed to the next step. The next step is easy: I take all the squash and scoop out everything from the skin of each piece and put it into a soup pot with the roasted baby sweet potatoes, the carrots used to make the broth, and 6 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter. I give everything a mash with a hand potato masher, and add the strained broth and cook on low for a couple of hours. Then I use the immersion blender and purée everything together. At that point I put it on simmer and let it cook down a little more.

Oh and this soup does not require a dairy component. It’s good just the way it is!

That’s it! Enjoy!

different slaw

My vegetable box today had a couple things I was not sure would go together, but actually have quite nicely!

I had some beautiful young fresh red cabbage, and a couple of heads of fresh fennel. So I thought what could I do with them? Then I thought why not a kind of coleslaw? I’m out of carrots so I could use the fennel in place of the carrots.

Well it worked! I also added half of a red onion and a couple of apples.

Here’s what I did:

1. Grate a small to medium size head of red cabbage.

2. Clean a large fennel bulb and grate. Or two smaller bulbs. Save some of the frilly green frond tops for the dressing .

3. Grate 1/2 of a red onion,

4. Grate 2 medium apples with skin ON.

Toss everything together that you have grated into a bowl. Add a little salt to taste. I like Crazy Jane’s Mixed Up Salt.

In a separate little bowl whisk together a little handful of the fennel fronds minced, a quarter cup of mayonnaise, 4 tablespoons of maple syrup, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, three or 4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Add the dressing to the grated everything bowl and mix together. Put it into the refrigerator to chill up and then taste again before serving to see if you need to adjust the salt or pepper.

Enjoy!

best pickles around? fishtown pickle project of course

Mmmm mmm good (one of my jars)

File under random things I write about. Pickles. You have got to love good deli pickles.

I used to love a couple of the really awesome Jewish deli places that used to exist in Philadelphia because they would have a pickle bar. Hymie’s in Merion had one until Covid — I don’t know if it’s back or not.

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen on South 4th Street in Society Hill also still comes to mind for not only their deli, but amazing pickled things. There was also this place that I remembered in Center city off of Chestnut or Samson Street I think somewhere around 16th. And there is also Schlesinger’s, which my mother loves.

But if you don’t live near any of these places it’s hard to find good deli and good pickles. Which is why I’m writing this post. I’ve been thinking about it since I discovered the Fishtown Pickle Project, and decided it was time to give them a shout out.

Photo courtesy of
Fishtown Pickle Project on Facebook.

I discovered the Fishtown Pickle Project through The Artisans Exchange in West Chester, but you can also find them at the West Chester Growers Market.

These pickles are amazing. They are better than even the revered New York deli pickle. They are fresh and crisp and flavorful.

Anyway I am just a happy customer, they certainly don’t even know me, I just keep buying their pickles. They bring that old school deli pickle to your home refrigerator. And you can order their products on their website and I think after you buy so many jars you get free delivery.

Life is too short for bad pickles so try Fishtown Pickle Project.

Photo courtesy of
Fishtown Pickle Project on Facebook.