I love Mexican food and the flavors of the American Southwest. And sometimes I just crave this one particular no name meal I make.
My cousin asked me what I called what I made for dinner, and I couldn’t exactly tell her because I don’t know anybody else that makes it. It’s kind of pork carne asada inspired burritos meets enchiladas. Those are the things that inspire this yummy winter dinner.
So this is my attempt to write it down. I always remember how to make it but so many people keep asking me I figured I would try to get it written down.
I sautéed pork (six small boneless pork chops sliced as if I was making fajitas) with 1 sweet onion, cilantro, 1 red onion, a couple jalapeños (not seeded), bell peppers, Mexican spices (Tajin seasoning and Hatch chili powder, garlic powder, Goya Adobo, oregano, basil) , 2 limes grated for zest, juice of two limes and 1/4 cup water.
Then I make a little Mexican inspired tomato sauce with chili powder, red onion, jalapeños, cilantro, grated lime zest, juice of one lime, small can diced tomatoes, 1 6 oz can tomato paste.
Next I lined a 9” x 12” pan with non stick foil and rolled up in large tortillas one at a time the pork mixture, shredded Mexican cheese and fat free refried beans. Line up side by side – you can fit six. Layer on tomato sauce, top with shredded Mexican cheese blend, a little more sauce. Cover pan with foil and bake in a preheated 350° oven for 30 minutes.
Serve with Mexican inspired rice, sour cream, pickled jalapeños if you choose, more cilantro, etc.
Every time around this year and even into the winter my late father would make a soup. It was a pure peasant soup. It would be based around what he found fresh down on 9th street at the Italian market and from the local merchants there.
The soup would have cabbage, potatoes or turnips, onion, celery, carrots, tomatoes, fresh herbs, beans, and something cured like a small salami – a cured sausage. He liked soppressata. He would cut it into little chunks or rounds.
We were over at a friend’s house the other day and they have this amazing kitchen garden like I dream about but have no room for. So they gave us a bunch of fresh vegetables including Swiss Chard and fresh kale. Today’s vegetable box from Doorstep Dairy had a beautiful purple cabbage. So I knew I was making soup even though it’s somewhat humid out.
My father would often use a beef stock base but a lot of the time it was a chicken stock base. So last night’s roast chicken carcass went into the instant pot this morning to make bone broth. I also tossed in a little salt and pepper and zaatar spice blend.
While bone broth was cooking and cooling I chopped up all the vegetables. I threw them into my big Great Jones “Big Deal” pot. I really love their cookware and I have a few pieces now. I added a few cups of water, maybe four. I added salt and pepper and some fresh herbs. This morning I had picked basil, thyme, sage so that is what I used.
I left the vegetables almost completely covered on low and just let them cook down for probably 60 minutes. The tomatoes I used were a bunch of fresh cherry tomatoes from the garden. Probably about enough to fit in a pint container but I halved them. When the bone broth was finished (I just hit the setting for broth or soup) I fished out all the bones and the gizzards and disposed of them and added the broth to the pot.
Then I added a chopped up a small whole dry salami that I had purchased at the Tasty Table Market & Catering in Berwyn. After that I drained two cans of beans and tossed those in. You can use whatever canned beans you like. Things like cannellini beans, pinto beans, even black-eyed peas.
Now the soup sits on a simmer until some point this afternoon when I will start to cool it down and put into containers. Some I will freeze and some I will use now.
I have to tell you the soup smells really good. And it’s also a smell that I have memories of. Of course I’m a little more about cleaning up the kitchen as I go along then my father was and when he would make one of these soups it would look like a bomb exploded in the kitchen afterwards.
This soup is always best when it sits for a couple of days and then you heat it up because it gives a chance for the flavors to completely meld . All you do is serve it with a little crusty bread for the table and some grated cheese on top. It’s a basic peasant soup and it’s loaded with vegetables and you don’t really need anything else.
I hope you can follow along as to how I made this. There is no formal recipe it’s just some thing that my father made and his mother made and who knows how many other relatives in his family made.
I used my small Instant Pot to make the bone broth if you are curious about how much chicken broth to add. The small Instant Pot makes 3 quarts of broth. Now the soup condenses and cooks down because I let it simmer on a very low setting for a few hours.
I know it’s one of those things that kind of reminds you of your grandmother. Salmon loaf. I’m told it was a big thing in the depression because canned salmon (or canned mackerel) was something that a lot of people could get a hold of and it stretched a meal.
Today in coronavirus land, I was looking to use things up. In my refrigerator, I had three foil packets of Harry and David cooked salmon. Each is about 4 to 6 ounces per packet. They came in gift baskets over the holidays. And they last forever in the refrigerator unopened but it’s not like nova or gravlax, so I’m always at a loss what to do with it. then I remembered things my mother used to make on Good Friday when we were little.
So I put Carly Simon on Alexa, and got to cooking. Yes Carly Simon. Sorry not sorry but her music is something I have always loved, along with Cat Stevens AKA Yusuf.
First preheat the oven to 350°F.
Next I made the white sauce to go with the salmon loaf after it is cooked.
White Sauce – 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, a 1/4 cup of sour cream, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of dill, a good dash of Tabasco sauce, 1 tablespoon of milk, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper. All you do is whisk it together and refrigerate it until you serve the salmon loaf.
Salmon Loaf– If you don’t have Harry and David cooked salmon to use, 1 large can of red or pink sockeye salmon will do. I would say you need a good 14 ounces of salmon. You also need 1 can of cream of celery soup, 1 cup of Panko breadcrumbs, 1 small sweet onion chopped fine, 3 ribs of fresh celery diced, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1 egg beaten, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of dill weed, 4 tablespoons of whipped cream cheese or the equivalent of block cream cheese mushed up, a little salt and pepper to taste, some potato chips, and Tabasco sauce.
Mix the cream cheese with the Tabasco sauce (just a dash or two to taste), the lemon juice, the beaten egg, the mayonnaise, the cream of celery soup, the celery, and the onion. Next incorporate the salmon which should be pre-fork mashed in its own little bowl. Finally add the breadcrumbs and a little bit of salt and pepper – about a teaspoon of salt and pepper together. I think I used less.
Take a loaf pan and grease it. I used butter because it happened to be out on the counter. I’m sure you could use olive oil. Spread the loaf mixture evenly into your prepared and greased loaf pan and crumple potato chips over the top.
I will note we rarely have potato chips in the house, we just happen to have them from a take out order a couple of days ago.
Then all you do is throw it into your preheated 350°F oven and set your timer for an hour. For those of you who don’t know the size of a loaf pan it is roughly 9“ x 5“. serve with the white sauce and a simple salad. Note that you’re not actually taking the entire loaf out of the loaf pan it will fall apart you get your servings out and refrigerate the rest in the loaf pan once it’s cooled.
The other night we had a roast chicken. I hung onto the carcass and threw it into the instant pot yesterday and made bone broth from it.
This morning I got out the broth, removed the fat, and added the rest of the chicken that was left over to it and set that container to the side while I prepped the vegetables.
I chopped up one of the remaining onions that I have and threw it into the soup pot with a little bit of olive oil. To that I added a bunch of diced celery, and a small bunch of sliced up carrots, and some fresh new potatoes. I added a little salt and started to cook the vegetables down.
As the vegetables started to cook down I added a chopped bunch of mixed kale and baby bok choy and some other greens that had come in a farm box. To that I added a can of white cannellini beans.
Then I added the broth and the bits of chicken and a bouquet garni of fresh herbs from the garden. The chicken soup simmered away for a few hours and now it’s cooling to be eaten later in the week.
I seem to have created something new. I had wanted to make my white chocolate cinnamon cookies with oatmeal, but then I decided I could improve on it. And I didn’t have any cinnamon chips. So I did improve my recipe and changed it up…and…taa daa! The 2019 White Chocolate Oatmeal Hazelnut Cookies were born.
1 cup of butter softened (2 sticks)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup quick cook oatmeal (plain no flavoring)
2 cups white chocolate baking chips
1 cup dried currants (I used Sunmaid Zante Currants)
1 cup chopped hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 350°
Cream together until well mixed butter and both sugars in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla, beat until light and fluffy. Add 2 tablespoons buttermilk.
Add cinnamon, salt, baking soda.
Mix in 2 cups of all-purpose white flour until mixed well. Stir in oatmeal, followed by white chocolate baking chips, and finally the hazelnuts.
I chilled my dough about an hour.
Drop by rounded teaspoons on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets. (I line my cookie pans silicone baking sheets for the most part now.)
I actually like to roll might dough into about 1 inch balls instead of “drop”. I place them a couple inches apart on the sheet.
Bake at 350° for 10 to 11 minutes depending on your oven.
Do not overbake and please cool these cookies at least five or six minutes before removing from baking sheet to cooling rack to cool completely.
This recipe makes a little over 4 1/2 dozen cookies. They seem to be an instant crowd pleaser in my house, so I hope you like them too!
I’m going to admit this pasta dish rocks. I’m also going to admit I didn’t use anyone’s recipe it came together as I started to plan it.
I have written down both the recipe for the sauce and the pasta as best I can. I hope it comes together for you like it did for me.
I think the sauce is amazing and could easily be translated to a fettuccine or something.
The Creamy Pancetta Sage Sauce
• 4 ounces diced pancetta (Wegmans sells it)
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 2 small vidalia onions chopped
• 1 small red hot pepper diced (no seeds!)
• 2 ears of cooked corn off the cob
• 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 1 pint light cream (2 cups)
• 2 tablespoons Wondra flour (super fine for sauces)
• 2/3 cup fine grated Parmesan
Melt the butter. Add the onion and the red pepper and some salt to taste. Add the corn. Chop fine the fresh sage and add that. Cook until the onion starts to get translucent.
This should all be low to the bare minimum of medium heat. You don’t want anything to burn.
Add the flour. Stir briskly in the pan so nothing sticks and the flour is absorbed.
Add the wine. Stir briskly. Let that cook for a minute or two and add the light cream.
Allow the sauce to come together and stir constantly until an even warm temperature. You want it to come to almost a boil but not a boil because you don’t want to scald the cream.
Add the Parmesan cheese gradually till all incorporate it and let it cook on low a little while longer. Let it cook down, and it will cook down some and thicken a bit. It doesn’t get stand your spoon upright thick, but it thickens in consistency.
The gnocchi are an approximation. I make my pasta by feel.
1 1/2 cups of leftover mashed sweet potatoes.
2 cups of semolina flour
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
A few dashes of extra-virgin olive oil
Combine everything in a bowl and bring your dough together. After everything is evenly mixed place a damp cloth over the bowl that your dough is in and let it rest for an hour.
Roll out between your hands thin “snakes” of dough and with a sharp knife cut even sized bite-size pieces.
Your pasta should be laid out on a baking sheet covered with a silicone baking pad. You should have enough for two layers of bite-size pieces and the layers should be separated with parchment paper and covered with parchment paper and a linen towel and put in your refrigerator until you are ready to cook your pasta.
Fresh gnocchi only take a few scant minutes to cook in boiling water. They will rise to the surface as they cook.
As you remove your gnocchi add a little bit of sauce in between and then finish with sauce on top.
I made this yesterday and everyone keeps asking for the recipe. There isn’t one per se but here’s how it evolved:
2 lbs of ground sausage sautéed in olive oil with 2 sweet onions, 6 mild/medium chili peppers, 2 long hot peppers, 5 cloves garlic minced, 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes from the garden halved, sea salt to taste.
Next I added a huge handful each of fresh basil and oregano from the garden and a 10 ounce package of fresh crimini (baby bella) mushrooms chopped up.
Cook on medium low and stir a lot until sausage is cooked through.
Add two cans (28 ounce) of canned tomatoes- what I had on hand was crushed, add 1 small can of tomato paste (6 ounce size), and a good dash of red wine or red wine or balsamic vinegar.
Reduce heat and allow to burble on the stove, stirring frequently for at least another hour. Adjust for salt and pepper if needed. I didn’t find it needed it.
This is the kind of sauce that if I had fresh eggplant, that would have been peeled and chopped up and added as well.
It’s not complicated and it’s easy to make your own homemade sauce. The chili peppers came out of the garden as well and the end result was a flavorful but NOT a spicy sauce. It just tastes fresh. It will be dinner later this week over spaghetti or some shape pasta. Serve with a salad and you are good to go.
I love to cook and everyone who knows me knows I collect vintage and old cookbooks, so today I added an old recipe box to my repertoire.
It was a funny little thing and probably no one else would have bought it because it’s like a piece of some other woman’s history but it has all her cherished recipes in it, which I find really cool. I also found it really sad that no one in her family wanted it.
Old Fashioned Walnut Loaf? Sounds pretty good!
These are just a few of the recipes. The owner of the recipe box seem to like pineapple because there are a lot of pineapple recipes. But there are also a couple of old-fashioned fudge recipes too!
Pot pies. Green bean casserole (which I will keep in the recipe box but will never cook because I think it’s gross.) And more!
Now that I have this recipe box and it’s a nice one I am also going to add my late mother-in-law’s recipes. She was a legendary home cook and it was because of her I learned how to make an amazing gazpacho.
I love old recipes. Especially the handwritten ones. They are history. Someone took the time to write these down, which is what makes them special.
These old handwritten recipes are a thing. There is actually a blog called Handwritten Recipes but the creator hasn’t posted since December.
Now most prefer the ease of simply going to the internet and letting your fingers do the walking but nothing beats an amazing old cookbook. Or a recipe someone thought enough of to write down.
Old cookbooks and old handwritten recipes are a little like going on a mystery history tour. And if you want to master a basic recipe in the kitchen, this is how to do it. New cookbooks are lovely but it’s the old ones that really teach you the art of cooking. Not just a new recipe.
Tips and tricks. That is also what you will find in between the pages of old cookbooks and recipe boxes. It’s kind of cool when you find one. You also learn about the food trends of the past. (HINT: check out a cooking show from Ireland you can find streaming on Netflix called Lords and Ladles.)
Before you throw yourold cookbooksaway, it might be worth getting them appraised. Antiques Roadshow’s latest season, which premiered this past Monday, will make a stop in one of America’s most beloved food cities:New Orleans. While shooting in the well-known southern travel destination and former Louisiana capital’s convention center last summer,Antiques Roadshowappraiser andBrattle Book Shopowner Ken Glossrevealed toForbesthat our old family cookbooks are worth more than we realize….According to Gloss, some of theearliest American cookbooks(dating back to the 1790s) are selling in the $1,000 range, while books from as far back as the 1400s and 1500s go for thousands of dollars. Some other pricey collectibles are glossy cookbooks about cake decorating from the 1920s, first editions signed by cooking legends like Julia Childs andFannie Farmer, and even some hard to find recipe pamphlets once included with newly purchased appliances. Gloss states that although seemingly mundane, their high price tag is due to how these items serve as historical documents—about places, people, cultures, and, of course, the food of the time.
“[Cookbooks] offer a view into society at the time,” Gloss told Forbes. “What were the foods people were eating? What was available? How were they preparing them?”
Old cookbooks and discarded recipe boxes can be found everywhere. Thrift stores, garage and estate sales, eBay, Etsy, Thriftbooks, used book stores local to where you live, library book sales and more. Church rummage sales are one of my go to sources for old cookbooks.
Step away from your keyboard next time you need a recipe and dust off a cookbook or crack open an old recipe box. You never know what treasures you will unearth!
Fall cooking. The humidity is finally gone and the temperatures have cooled enough that I don’t feel like my kitchen is a sweatshop.
I have thawed one lonely beef shank we found in the freezer, but it’s not enough for dinner, but I decided it was going to be dinner and decided to get it a companion. So off to Worrell’s Butcher Shop in Malvern Borough I went. They had beautiful fresh beef shanks!
I continued along King Street to Kimberton Whole Foods in Malvern. There I picked up the produce I wanted to add to this recipe plus a few other things. (I would’ve gotten adorable little pumpkins there to except they were $2.99 a piece and I thought that was a bit expensive for pumpkins that were literally very small, but I digress.)
So the ingredients – 2 to 3 beef shanks, Crimini mushrooms, Shitake mushrooms, leeks, shallots, celery, carrots, 2 red hatch chilies from my garden , red wine, two 8 oz. containers of Pacific vegetable broth, one 14.5 oz. can of Muir Glenn fire roasted diced tomatoes, sweet paprika , smoked paprika, 4 cloves of garlic diced, dash of cumin, salt and pepper, fresh rosemary, two bay leaves, fresh thyme.
First I start by dredging the beef shanks in a little flour and kosher salt. I toss into a Dutch oven on the stove with olive oil heating. I brown each of the beef shanks ( I ended up with three for this recipe.)
Then I add about a third of a bottle of wine and let that simmer as I am slicing up my vegetables.
As I am adding my vegetables beginning with the garlic, shallots, and leeks I also add one of the 8 oz. containers of vegetable broth.
After I add the garlic, shallots, and leeks I add diced up Hatch chilies, followed by carrots, celery, and the mushrooms.
Next I add the fresh herbs and a little more kosher salt. (I don’t start with a lot of salt I can adjust it later so I really am being judicious with it.)
Then I add a dash of cumin, smoked paprika, sweet paprika, black pepper, the can of tomatoes, and finally another third of a bottle of wine.
Now my beef shanks are ready for the oven. They will cook in a low oven for 3 to 4 hours.
People like to serve these over mashed potatoes, I also like to serve them over rice. And I like brown basmati rice, or a wild rice mixture.
My apologies that this recipe is it more exact, but it just isn’t. I think people need to judge for themselves the amount of herbs and spices and salt and pepper they want in a recipe.
Anyway beef shanks and mushrooms are a wonderful and hearty fall meal. Slow cooking it means the meet will be fork tender.
I made pumpkin bread the last time around and this time I decided to make banana bread. My banana bread is a little different from some recipes but I think it’s delicious.
Start with preheating your oven to 350°.
Next, your ingredients:
3/4 of a cup of butter, almost melted
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dark raisins
Five large bananas mashed up
The first thing I do is in a medium bowl is mash the bananas. I have a hand potato masher that works nicely for this chore. I try to use very ripe bananas the flavor is better.
Next I grease and flour two pans – I think the dimensions are 9″ x 5″ but don’t hold me to that. I grease with butter and with almond meal (almond flour– I use it a lot in baking). If you don’t have almond meal in your pantry just use flour.
Put the pans to the side.
And a second bowl, mix together with 2 tablespoons of other flour or almond meal your raisins, chopped pecans, dried cranberries
Throw your butter in the microwave in a microwave safe dish for almost a minute. Add it to a large bowl with the butter and sugar. Cream until smooth add your vanilla and your eggs, mix again. Next add the mashed bananas and your cardamom and cinnamon.
After that is smooth and well mixed, add in your salt, baking soda, baking powder and give it a stir. Add in your flower one cup at a time. Once the batter is well mixed if you have been using a hand mixer switch to a regular old-fashioned wooden spoon and stir in the nuts and dried fruits.
Split your batter equally between your two pans and dust tops with granulated sugar. Next, place next to each other but not touching in your preheated oven.
The banana bread cooks for about an hour, and when a toothpick comes out relatively clean your bread should be done. Cool at least 20 minutes in the pans before removing from pans and cooling completely on baking racks before wrapping up. You can freeze a loaf or not. They last about a week. Or less depending on how hungry everyone in your house is!
Ovens are funny so sometimes it’s a little less time sometimes it’s a little more time. I don’t remember what it was that I baked and wrote the recipe down and posted, but the time I listed for me worked perfectly with my oven yet a reader wrote to me that with their oven it took a little more time.
Baking is not completely an exact science when it comes to ovens and cooking times. And there’s also trial and error. And it also depends on the home cook. I am more of one that uses recipes as a guide and I will wing it a lot. If it’s something I make often enough, I will try now to write the recipe down.
My problem is that a lot of the women of older generations in my family that taught me to cook from the time I was a small child didn’t actually use recipes. Maybe they had the basics on an index card, but more often than not it was straight out of their head and you learn how things were right by the feel of batters and doughs and what not. So that is kind of the way I learned. Some things had recipes and exact measurements, and some things just didn’t. Homemade pasta, for example, was one of the things that didn’t have anything written down. It was just passed from person to person how to do it.
My mother has a great collection of wonderful cookbooks, and what I learned from her includes having a great collection of wonderful cookbooks. It was my mother taught me to check out the regional cookbooks that various Junior League chapters and ladies aid societies and women’s church groups would put out.
For example, decades ago at this point (like around 1980), the Philadelphia Orchestra West Philadelphia Women’s Committee put out a wonderful cookbook called The Philadelphia Orchestra Cookbook. I still have it in my cookbook collection today and it has wonderful recipes including one from my mother! I don’t recall ever had anything from the Philadelphia Junior League, but I do have a cookbook called The Philadelphia Cookbook of Town and Country circa 1963 that was by Anna Wetherill Reed. This cookbook has many wonderful recipes including for oldschool cocktails like a Philadelphia Old Fashioned cocktail and a recipe for Fish House Punch attributed to State In Schuylkill.
As far as the regional cookbooks go I have a couple from Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, a few southern Junior League cookbooks (like Charleston, Virginia, and Shreveport Louisiana). Sadly, as far as my regional and fundraising type cookbooks go the one that was the largest disappointment is the one that was put out by the Devon Horse Show a few years ago called Appetizers at Devon. I never fell in love with any of the recipes. I guess maybe it just reflects the changing style of the women’s committees in general all over today versus days gone by. A lot of these women don’t get into their kitchens, they order out, they buy prepared foods, they have boxes of portioned out foods delivered like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and what not, they use caterers, they go to restaurants.
One of the best cookbooks and most fun that I have the counts as a regional cookbook is Greek Cooking in an American Kitchen. These are recipes compiled by the Saint Luke’s Greek Orthodox Church Women’s Auxiliary in Broomall, Pennsylvania. Those ladies started putting out a cookbook in 1973, and the addition I have is the fourth edition from 1997. If you can get your paws on a copy, and you like Greek food, this is an amazing cook book and the recipes are easy to follow.
I even have a cookbook from the Italian market in Philadelphia. I have course, also have a nice selection of cookbooks from the professionals like Ina Garten and the New York Times. I have also mentioned in prior posts that if you can get your hands on volumes one or two of The American Contry Inn and Bed And Breakfast Cookbooks put out years ago by the Maynards, they are wonderful as well.
A new cookbook I am going to suggest that everyone go to Amazon to get (and it’s going to be released soon because I just got my shipping notification) is by Delaware county native Elisa Costantini and her son Frank Constantini. It’s called Italian Moms: Something Old Something New 150 Recipes. I also have her book Italian Moms: Spreading Their Art to Every Table which was self published.