A friend is working on a local treasures booth for an upcoming fall fair. In the middle of a box of things being priced, was this ratty envelope full of recipes. Mostly cut out of The Washington Post. A few were handwritten.
The fair ladies didn’t know what to do with the envelope, so she gave them to me. I scanned them mostly into a PDF which I will upload at the end of this post, for all to enjoy.
The personal collections of recipes are often a fun culinary history of trends years ago, combined with what people hung onto. I did not keep all of the recipes because well…the endless gelatin molds of all sorts of combinations of foods is not my jam.
There are some great recipes in the pile and quirky things like how to make mint julips.
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.
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!
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.
Well I hope my happy hater from the other day isn’t too distressed by Bolognese sauce. Hope she doesn’t find a red sauce too angry….but I digress. (I do that sometimes )
A true Bolognese sauce does take time to create. But it is one of the most delicious sauces you can put over pasta… ever. I shared Bolognese sauce before, but I am sharing this again because I change my recipe slightly sometimes.
I started my sauce first thing this morning. And that’s something that creates a memory smell for me for lack of a better description. When my father’s mother (Grandmom) used to babysit us when we were younger, and even when we were in high school she used to make her sauce first thing in the morning. (And no, this sauce is not her recipe it’s my recipe I never recall her making a true Bolognese.)
First you would smell the smell of a fresh pot of coffee (she would make it in one of those stovetop blue cornflower Corningware coffee pots). Then wafting up behind the fresh perked coffee aroma, was the smell of sautéing garlic and onion in her big sauce pot. She gave my mother that saucepot eventually, and I think my mother still uses it. It was hammered aluminum so it wasn’t like Farberware. To me those are the smells of home.
We are trying to empty out a chest freezer in the basement and I came across three 1 pound packages of ground meat. I usually use about three pounds of ground meat when I make a Bolognese.
Here are the ingredients:
THREE 1 pound packages of pork, veal, lamb, or beef. I’ll use whatever I happen to have handy.
TWO Onions. Chopped. 1 big sweet onion, 1 red onion.
SIX cloves garlic, minced. We like to keep the vampires away in my house.
DASH nutmeg or cinnamon- My late father always did it , so I do it.
Kosher salt to taste, ground pepper after you add the tomatoes.
TWO Bay leaves.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
ONE cup whole milk
ONE cup red wine or 2/3 cup red wine vinegar.
TWO cans crushed tomatoes – 28 ounce.
ONE 6 ounce can tomato paste
BIG bunch fresh basil and oregano from garden.
GOOD pasta and grated cheese.
I will start with I chopped up two onions and threw into my pan (I use one of my larger vintage Dansk touch ovens) with extra-virgin olive oil and some kosher salt.
After the onions started to get that translucent look, I added the three one pound packages of ground meat. Today I am cooking with ground pork and ground lamb which is one of my favorite combinations for a truly flavorful sauce. I added a little more salt and a couple of dashes of nutmeg.
After allowing that to cook for about 20 minutes I added 2/3 of a cup of red wine vinegar. I let that cook off and cook down for another 25 minutes approximately, and then I added one cup of whole milk. I then allowed the milk solids and everything to cook off slightly which was almost half an hour.
As I am doing the meat and the onion I do stir occasionally so nothing has the chance to stick to the bottom.
Next I add my tomato paste and stir it into the meat mixture.
Then I add the cans of crushed tomatoes one at a time. I stir thoroughly after each time. Now I add some fresh ground pepper and a big bunch of just roughly torn up basil and oregano from my garden.
My kitchen smells amazing. I don’t care if it’s July a good Bolognese sauce is perfect all year round. And I like making it in the summer because I can use all my fresh herbs.
Now the pot is on simmer and I will just let it go on simmer for a good couple of hours. Then I will turn it off. It will take a few hours for the sauce to completely cool down. At that point I will skim off any fat that rises to the top from the meat.
Then around dinner time I will slowly bring this sauce up to temperature again and serve with a good pasta, grated cheese, and a big green salad.
Good pasta does make a difference even with dry pasta. Today I am going Delco. Springfield Pasta and Mangia Famiglia grated cheese. (Mangia Famiglia is also one of my favorite sources for Italian sausage.)
A true Bolognese sauce is some thing that is truly amazing. and even in the summer it’s a great family meal option. And don’t be afraid to load up the fresh herbs. I forgot to mention I will finish this with some fresh flat leaf Italian parsley on top.
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill 1 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons maple syrup 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
You whisk the dressing together and add the cabbage, carrots, and onion to it and mix it all together. Chill.
The second summer salad I made was a three bean salad. I use whatever cans of 3 different beans I have at the time. This time it was one can cannellini beans, one can pink beans, one can great northern beans.
To the beans I add a diced red onion (or yellow onion depending on what’s in the fridge) and a simple vinaigrette with extra garlic. Salt and pepper to taste, a few tablespoons of minced up fresh dill. Chill.
6 ounces chopped Velveeta cheese (the kind that comes in a block)
14 ounce can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
12 ounce can of vitamin D evaporated milk
1 – 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1 lb ground beef
1 small red onion, chopped small
1 pound bag of Gemelli pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
I have never written this down, so bear with me.
First I sauté the pound of ground beef in a nonstick pan with the red onion. Salt and pepper to taste. Because I am using a nonstick pan I don’t grease it. Remove from heat.
In another pan I make my cheese sauce. It starts with a roux which is butter and flour. I just eyeball the flower and I use Wondra which is a great flower to use for things like this and gravies because it’s very fine. So I say a few tablespoons, it’s either that or a few dashes.
After the flour and butter have kind of cooked together, I had a dash of nutmeg and a few dashes of Tabasco sauce. Then I add the buttermilk.
I incorporate everything together whisking constantly and then I add the can of milk. Next I add the Swiss and Gruyere mix, whisking constantly until it’s incorporated. After that I add the cheddar and then I stir in the Velveeta chunks. As everything comes together you may have to add a little more milk. It just depends.
After it’s creamy and smooth I add the can of tomatoes which I do not drain. I then let the cheese sauce kind of meld together and I keep on stirring it. When I think it’s the proper consistency I turn it off and put a lid on it.
In a big Dutch oven I cook the pasta as per the package instructions and then drain. First I put the pasta back into the Dutch oven. Then I stir in the ground beef mixture. Then I slowly incorporate the cheese sauce until everything‘s together.
I always make a little more sauce than I am expecting but you just let your pasta sit for a few minutes with the lid on in the Dutch oven and the heat off on the stove and a lot of the moisture from the cheese sauce will be absorbed.
One of the things I think that has suffered in the pandemic is pizza. I just kept finding that the pizza we were ordering no matter where it was from, was uneven in consistency of product delivered to the customers. Sometimes when we would order, the pizza was fabulous. Other times when we would order not so much or rushed or they forgot things on the order (like a couple of times completely forgetting the toppings we ordered for the pizza) and with everyone suffering from pandemic economics, you don’t want to call and say “oh your pizza sucked.” So we stopped ordering pizza. And I started making pizza.
I am capable of making the dough but one of my really good friends told me about Wegmans pizza dough. You can buy regular or organic. I will keep a couple in the freezer now and the dough freezes nicely for the short term.
The day before you are going to make your pizza, put your dough in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. The day you are baking, get your dough out of the refrigerator and put into an oiled mixing bowl, and lightly oil top of dough ball itself, cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in your kitchen to rise for a couple of hours. Make sure it is in a warm part of your kitchen, or it won’t rise right.
I am not someone who can throw pizza dough, so next when I am ready to bake I get out my silicone sheet that I roll out pie crusts and cookie dough on, lightly flour and roll the dough out. It does take a few minutes to roll the dough out properly because you need to get it thin enough that it fits a sheet pan. I do not have a pizza stone so I use a half sheet pan, which is a little over 17 inches long and 12 inches wide.
I should mention that before I get my dough rolled out, I preheat the oven to 450°F BUT I bake it at 400°F. I have just learned from baking bread that everything works better when I preheat my oven slightly higher than I’m doing the actual baking. I do not do this with cookies or biscuits, however.
When I put the dough down on the sheet pan I do not use a silicone baking sheet on the pan I use that Reynolds wrap nonstick foil. The first time I made pizza like this, I used one of my silicone baking sheets and when we sliced the pizza we turned the baking sheet to ribbons.
I layer sauce, then toppings and it goes into the oven and baked at 400°F for 20-23 minutes. Everybody’s oven is calibrated slightly differently and I have discovered generally speaking the 23 minutes is my optimum cook time for my pizza. And that’s it. It’s very easy and it’s really good.
Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect from Wegmans Pizza dough. I had tried the premade dough years ago from Giant Food Markets and they changed how they made it because it went from being really good to being kind of gross. But the pizza dough from Wegmans is completely consistent. I have also been told that the pizza dough from Trader Joe’s is awesome.
And if you have small kids, making pizza is a really fun activity and it gets them familiar with the kitchen other than the microwave.
As for sauce and toppings that’s entirely up to you. You can make a little bit of your own sauce up but I recommend making it thick because it’s going on a pizza and baking in the oven. I have done it all sorts of ways I have made my own sauce with leftover sauce that I had from another meal, I have used Wegmans store brand premade pizza sauce, and Mezetta Spicy Marinara Calabrian Chile. The Wegmans sauce is well-made but for my taste I need to spice it up by adding herbs and garlic.
So yes my homemade pizza can also be considered semi-homade but try it! It’s fun!
Thanks for stopping by and stay warm today it’s cold outside.
Well I woke up in the middle of the night and it was snowing and when we all got up this morning there was a fresh coat of powdery snow, so pasta it is. Snow day sauce day it is!
Today I am making a Bolognese sauce. I do make a nod to Marcella Hazan’s famous recipe, but my recipe is very much my own. My sauce pretty much cooks all day. That’s why you make it on a snow day because you’re home.
I start with ground meat. My Bolognese has a pound of ground beef, a pound of veal, a pound of pork. If I can’t get ground veal I will use ground lamb.
The first thing I do is sauté two onions in a little extra virgin olive oil with five or six minced cloves of garlic. I use a sweet onion and a red onion. Once the onion is starting to get that slightly translucent look I add in the ground meat and a pinch of nutmeg and salt. I also add a large grated carrot. I do not add celery. A lot of Bolognese recipes call for celery.
As the meat browns, I keep stirring it to make sure it is consistent in size. When I serve this I want every bit of sauce to be married with a bit of ground meat. Then I add a cup of whole milk. Yes milk. You cook it until the milk solids kind of cook off which is about 20 minutes or so.
Next I add a cup of white wine. I will also use red wine. It’s basically whatever is open and I can get my hands on first. Today the wine was a little sweet it was this Moscato, but it cooks fine just the same.
As the wine is cooking down (again you want 20 to 30 minutes), I take one of those six or 8 ounce containers of cremini mushrooms and slice them thin. I add them to the meat onion and garlic mixture. I allow everything to cook together for about five minutes.
Next comes the tomatoes. Two 28 ounce cans of tomatoes. I like one can to be crushed, and the other can the whole Roma tomatoes in a purée. I shred the whole tomatoes by hand one by one into the pot and then I’ll incorporate the can of crushed tomatoes. Finally, I add a 6 ounce can of tomato paste.
The next step are the herbs. Oregano and basil, and to make it a little different I add a couple teaspoons of ground Aleppo pepper.
Now my sauce is cooking down on low and I will leave it to simmer for probably a few hours just stirring occasionally. And when I say summer I mean it is the lowest I can have my burner without turning it off.
I will then turn off the sauce and let it sit for a while. And then I will serve it tonight over pasta I could do linguine, but I might do just regular spaghetti.
All you need is a little grated Italian cheese and a green salad. Enjoy!
Yes I make sauce not gravy. All of the sauce I make is based off of the way I learned to make it from my father and my Great Aunt Millie.
Millie lived at 11th and Ritner with my Great Aunt Josie and Great Uncle Pat (who we called PJ). In the early 2000s I won this awesome basket of Italian things courtesy of bon appétit and Epicurious. I came in second in this Italian cooking recipe contest. I did reload that recipe to the Epicurious website again in 2015.
But you don’t always have all the ingredients for any particular recipe and with all the snow outside, it was a snow day = sauce day but it was with what I had to cook with.
I started with sautéing two chopped red onions with six chopped cloves of garlic in a little olive oil. To that I added a tomato that came in a vegetable box that was getting a little disreputable looking and three bay leaves and some red wine vinegar (just a couple of good dashes.) Salt and pepper to taste. And 1 grated carrot. My father always did this.
Once the onion was starting to get translucent I added 10 oz of sliced up baby Bella mushrooms. I slice the mushrooms, I don’t buy sliced mushrooms.
Next comes 2 pounds of Italian sausage. 1 pound of hot and 1 pound of sweet. The sausage I had in I had gotten from the Artisan’s Exchange in West Chester. I had tried it on a whim and I have ordered it again. It’s really nice sausage. Yes it’s a little pricey but once in a while it’s OK to treat yourself and your family. The sausage is made by Mangia Famiglia. Usually my sausage comes from Cappuccio’s or the Shop Rite in West Chester. Shop Rites have great butcher sections and a wide selection of ethnic foods.
Next I added about 2/3 of a cup of milk. Today it was actually buttermilk because I had it left over. I don’t do as well with acid he foods as I used to so you do this with a Bolognese sauce and it also cuts the acid a little.
After the milk mostly cooked off I added 2 28 ounce cans of tomatoes. One can was crushed with purée, and one can or whole plum tomatoes that I then squished up by hand into the sauce. Then I added a 6 ounce can of tomato paste.
Next I added some shredded fresh basil and dried oregano. And that’s pretty much it. I don’t have any fresh flat leaf parsley so I didn’t add any parsley. I simmer it on the stove and let everything come together and cook through. I am going to serve it with spaghetti and a nice salad on the side.
Snow day dinners. It’s homemade. Thanks for stopping by!