Cold Asparagus

In my earlier post, I told of our Gourmet Dinner evenings with our neighbors when we lived in Thousand Oaks, California. The sides I prepared to go with the dinner at our house were chosen for their simplicity and ease of preparation. The recipe for Cold Asparagus is so easy it is hard to call it a recipe, but  it is a delicious addition to almost any entree. .

Good Seasons Lemon and Herbs dry salad seasoning mix. (For 2 bunches of asparagus, you will use only 1/2 of the salad seasoning packet.

Lay asparagus spears flat in pan of boiling water to simmer for 4 minutes. Remove from heat, lift asparagus out to drain. Cover immediately with ice cubes for 30 minutes to stop cooking process. Remoe any remaining ice, drain, and pat dry. Transfer to serving platter. Sprinkle lightly with 1/2 package Good Seasons Lemon and Herbs dry salad seasoning mix. Cover and refrigerate until served.

 

Back in the Kitchen

I have been missing from many of my usual places due to a fall and vertebral fracture, with complications that have made me grateful others were doing the cooking!  Part of my treatment is being encased in a bulky cast/brace, no bending, twisting, or lifting. So my contributions to meals have been limited. I have missed Kitchen Keepers posting, so as I return, I would like to sort through my collection of cookbooks, clippings, and family favorites from years past, picking a few to share. Going through old recipes is something I enjoy and rarely have time to indulge in, so this will be fun. I hope you will see one or two you want to try. Almost all of these will have a story!

In 1986, our family made a big change. That was the year that Sean graduated from Plano Senior High School in Plano, TX. It was also the year Joe took a position with ARCO International with headquarters in Los Angeles, CA. He began working in LA soon after the first of the year while the boys and I stayed in Plano for Sean’s senior year finish and to get our house on the market. While Joe looked for a new home for us in California and I readied our family and household for the move. Sean would come with us for the summer, but return to Texas to enter North Texas State University in the fall. We did not know it at the time, but our move to Thousand Oaks, CA would be for just over a year. By Fall the following year,  Joe, Jeremy, Ben, and I were headed to our next home in Jakarta, Indonesia!

During the year that we lived at 347 Bethany Street in Thousand Oaks, we were glad to have Don and Brenda Mann and their daughter, Donna, as neighbors. They and their friend Myrna invited us to begin a supper club, one evening a month where we ate at each others’ homes. It was called Gourmet Dinner. The host for the evening prepared most of the food; others brought an appetizer and dessert. Myrna Bates kindly printed the recipes from March 26, 1987 at our home. I  made Shrimp Toulouse, an item then  on the menu at Court of Two Sisters restaurant in New Orleans, LA. I also served  Baked Rice and Artichokes, Green Beans Rotel, and a cold asparagus salad.  One of the guests brought a hot clam dip and Myrna provided dessert – Eclairs with Praline Sauce.

Shrimp Toulouse

1/4 lb. butter

1/2 cup chopped shallots

1/4 cup diced pimientos

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 cup sliced mushrooms

3 lbs. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup white wine

salt and pepper to taste

Draw butter, add green peppers, shallots, celery, pimiento, mushrooms, and shrimp. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Add wine, salt, and pepper and simmer additional 5 minutes. Add parsley and serve over toast or in patty shells. Serves 6.

 

 

Tamale Omelet

 

 

I think one of the reasons I have fun with cooking is being unafraid to use what I have and put things together in new ways. Growing up in the 40’s and 50’s, raised by parents who experienced the depression and came from families that ate well but simply from food they mostly raised or grew at home, I use our leftovers – just not always reheated and in the same way they came to the table the first time. One of our Christmas traditions is going to church on Christmas Eve and coming home to tamales. We have had tamales of all kinds, but living in South Texas provides a big variety of choices. This year, we bought homemade tamales from a neighbor whose parents make them. We had hot pork and mild pork tamales, bean and cheese, and jalapeno and cheese! The 4 dozen we actually prepared turned out to be way more than were eaten on 12/24. One reason was the size of those tamales. They were all delicious. And big!  One way I used a few of the remaining tamales was in this omelet for breakfast a couple of days later.  Certainly worth remembering and repeating!

Tamale Omelet

This recipe makes 2 smaller omelets, but it is simple to add more eggs and more tamales!

3 large eggs

1 Tablespoon butter or light splash of olive oil

2 pork tamales, cut into rounds

sea salt

1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend or queso fresco

Tabasco sauce (optional)

Melt butter or heat oil in iron skillet. Whisk eggs and pour into pan. Lift edges to allow egg mixture to cook. As eggs begin to set, place tamale rounds around the edge and into center. Sprinkle lightly with salt and shredded cheese. Fold in half and cut into 2 pieces and serve.  Pass Tabasco or your favorite salsa.

 

 

Marinated Vegetable Salad

Summertime is a good time for grilling. This marinated salad keeps well for several days in the refrigerator, and is a delicious side for any grilled meat, chicken, or fish. Don’t let the long list of ingredients discourage trying it. There is little preparation involved other than some minor chopping and opening the variety of canned vegetables.

Marinated Vegetable Salad

Note:  all canned ingredients need to be drained before adding.

1 red onion, sliced

1 cup sun dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped

15 oz. can petite green peas

15 oz. can white corn

15 oz. can french style green beans

15 oz. can bean sprouts

12 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts

10 oz. can bamboo shoots

10 oz. can sliced water chestnuts

12 oz. jar marinated roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives

1 bottle Italian salad dressing, or make your own with oil, herbs, and vinegar.

Combine all ingredients except salad dressing in large bowl with lid. Toss well.

Add salad dressing and toss lightly to coat. Refrigerate several hours or overnight, tossing or turning bowl occasionally. Keeps well and is a great addition to potlucks.

 

 

 

 

 

Fasolada

The recent gap in blog posts is due to a serious health issue for my husband meaning necessary time away from my computer. I probably missed the posting more than my readers, but I did get some time in the kitchen. Here is one of the results.

I have never traveled in Greece but I love to cook and eat Greek food. I think one reason is my own feelings are mirrored in the Greek philosophy of hospitality – well said in a recent Costco publication sent to members.

“Greeks are known for their hospitality; they don’t like to let people leave without giving them something to eat or drink. It’s considered an expression of love to cook for friends and family…And eating in Greece is a ritual, never rushed. It comes with the whole package of food, wine, ouzo and conversation. It’s the Greek way.”

This soup will go on our favorites list. It is my version of one I saw in the Costco article which gave credit for the recipe to Laura Langston.  I served it for a Sunday night supper with crusty bread. As with many soups, it tasted even better the next day for lunch.

Fasolada

3 cans Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup plus 3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions, chopped

5-6 celery stalks with leaves, chopped

6 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

28 ounces passata, or tomato puree

6 cups of water (add more if the soup begins to thicken more than you like)

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

freshly ground black pepper to taste

juice of 1 lemon, plus 2 lemons to wedge and offer at serving

1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley served as topping

crumbled feta cheese served as topping

Add 3 Tablespoons olive olive oil to large soup pot and heat over medium heat. Saute onions, celery, carrots, and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add beans, tomato puree, water, 1/2 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for an hour. Add juice of 1 lemon. At serving time, top each bowl with chopped parsley and feta cheese. Pass lemon wedges. Makes 8 large servings.

 

 

 

Chocolate Cake with Fudge Icing

 

Nora likes chocolate more than I do, if that is possible so we both looked forward to making this cake.  Some of my earliest memories are of being allowed to lick the bowl when Mother made a chocolate cake. She always made the icing in an iron skillet in the same way she made fudge, and as soon it was cool enough, I was allowed to have that spoon, too. Mother’s cake sometimes cracked when she put the 2nd layer on and I liked that piece best because the frosting soaked down into the cake through the crack. so when our cake cracked a bit near the edge, it was OK!  The recipes that follow were never written down for me, but I did find the cake recipe in my mother’s cookbook (given to her by her mother on Christmas, 1933.)  The fudge icing recipe is closest to the way I remember her making it. But instead of timing for a minute after the mixture boiled, she always cooked it until it was at soft-ball stage –  tested by dripping a few drops into a cup of cold water.

Chocolate Cake

1/2 cup shortening (we used Crisco)

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

Cream sugar and shortening. Add vanilla and eggs; mix until well blended. Sift dry ingredients and add alternately with milk to the first mixture. Pour into two greased and floured cake pans, making the batter higher toward the edges so it rises more evenly. Bake in 375 degree oven for 39 minutes or until it tests done. Remove from pans, cool, and assemble by adding a layer of Fudge Icing between layers and frosting sides and top with the remainder.

Fudge Icing

2 cups granulated sugar

3 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

⅔ cup whole milk

½ cup (1 stick)  butter, cut into cubes

1½ teaspoons vanilla

Mix sugar, cocoa powder, and milk together in a large saucepan.Cook over medium-high heat until large bubbles form and reaches a hard boil. Boil one minute at a hard boil. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla.Beat with a wooden spoon until thick and smooth.Pour over cake. It will harden as it cools.

Cup of Christmas

Today it is cold, windy, and wet. We may have a fire in the fireplace for the first time this season tonight. Siting by the fire and the Christmas tree is a perfect time for a hot drink. Along with our collection of Christmas mugs,we have a number of hot drink recipes that have been favorites during the holidays through the years. Years ago, I always kept a spiced tea mix and hot chocolate mix that I made.  I don’t make those anymore because there are so many available on the shelves of the supermarket, but there are other recipes  I will share.

Hot Cranberry Punch 

This recipe is on a card in my mother’s handwriting. As usual when she passed on a recipe she liked, she noted “Good!” at the top of the card!

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

4 cups water, divided into 1 cup and 3 cups

2 cans jellied cranberry sauce

1 quart unsweetened pineapple juice

Butter to add before serving

 

1.Bring spices and 1 cup water to a boil and simmer just until well blended.

2.Combine (separate from above) 2 cans jellied cranberry sauce and 3 cups of water.  Add water a little at a time and beat to blend well.

3. Then combine spice mixture and cranberry mixture with 1 quart unsweetened pineapple juice. Heat to serving temperature.  Add 1 pat butter to each cup you are serving and ladle hot punch on top.

Mother added an asterisk, telling me “never serve without tasting”

This sounds crazy, but it is delicious!

 

Hot Buttered Pineapple Punch

1 46 ounce can unsweetened pineapple juice

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup lime juice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 1/4 cups dry white wine

Butter

In large saucepan, combine pineapple juice, sugar, lime juice, and nutmeg. Bring to boiling, stirring till sugar dissolves. Reduce heat,; stir in wine. Heat through but do not boil. Pour into heatproof glasses or mugs; float a pat of butter on each. Serve cinnamon stick with each serving if desired. Makes about 9 cups

 

Spiced Percolator Punch

We used to make this so often, we kept an extra large coffeemaker with spigot to make it.

2 32 ounce bottles cranberry juice cocktail

1 46 ounce can unsweetened pineapple juice

1 cup packed brown sugar

4 teaspoons whole cloves

12 inches of stick cinnamon, broken

peel of 1/4 orange, cut in strips

Optional – 1 fifth (3/14 cups) light rum

In 24 cup electric percolator, combine cranberry juice, pineapple juice, and brown sugar. Place cloves,cinnamon stick pieces, and orange peel in coffee maker basket. Assemble coffee maker; plug in and percolate. Just before serving, remove basket and stir in rum if you are using.. Keep hot. Float a quartered lemon slice in each mug if desired. Makes about 17 cups!

Of course we enjoy wassail, and everyone has their favorite recipe for that cup of holiday cheer, but I hope you enjoy trying one or all of the above as well.

Steamed Artichoke with Lemon Butter

We have one huge artichoke plant in our garden, planted with dreams of growing a crop of artichokes. So far, nothing but gorgeous leaves have been produced. My daughter in law, Kristen, planted and babied this and has watched it anxiously to see if there was anything to harvest. On April 1, my husband bought a small artichoke and nestled in the center of this plant with a small April Fool! note stuck to the bottom. Kristen pulled at it, only realizing the joke when it came out so easily!  She had a good laugh, and so did the rest of us.  So far, even this has not prompted the giant plant to produce.

Wanting to grow our own has nothing to do with enjoying an artichoke while we wait. This is a special treat, but it does not need to wait until we have guests for dinner or a holiday. In fact, I think we enjoy it more when we make it the star attraction. There is nothing hard about preparing and cooking artichokes, but it does take a little time, so it is a special occasion when we have one. You can find this recipe all over the internet and in many cookbooks, but they don’t have our April Fool story!

Steamed Artichoke with Lemon Butter

1 or more Medium to Large Globe Artichokes

2 Lemons, 1 sliced and 1 juiced.

1 Bay Leaf (optional)

2 Teaspoons sallt

4 Tablespoons Butter

Add about an inch and a half of water to a saucepan large enough to set the artichoke in and leave room to cover.  Add salt and bring to boil while geetting the artichoke ready to cook.

  1. Cut off a slice of the bottom and any stem so the artichoke will sit upright. Then slice off the top of the artichoke about an inch and a half down.
  2.  With sharp kitchen shears, cut off just the tip of all the leaves, going around the artichoke until all leaves have the sharp little point on the the edge of the leaves removed.
  3. Reduce heat enough for water to simmer. Set the artichoke into simmeringng water.  Lay lemon slices on top and around. Add bay leaf, if using.  Then cover.
  4. Steam the artichoke for 25 to 35 minutes, depending on size. When you are able to pull one of the leaves out easily, it is done. Remove to serving dish, sitting upright.
  5.  Melt butter and add lemon juice.

Serve the artichoke with lemon butter on the side.To eat the artichoke, pull off leaves, or petals, one at a time. Dip in lemon butter, Tightly grip the stem end of the petal. Place in mouth, and pull through teeth to remove soft, pulpy, delicious portion of the petal. Discard remaining petal .

With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the “choke”) covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into sauce to eat. Continue until all of the petals are removed.

With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the “choke”) covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into sauce to eat. Many think this is the best part of the artichoke!

Cook’s Note: An alternative dipping sauce is mayonnaise with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Zucchini Fun

Last night I pulled out the handy little tool that turns vegetables into works of art like this.  Weird name, but it fits – a spiralizer.  Long before zoodles and other veggie noodles began appearing in supermarkets, we discovered how much tasty fun preparing them like this can be. The plate of zucchini ruffles, or curls, shown here took only 2 medium squash and less than 5 minutes to produce.  I sauteed these in a bit of olive oil with some herbs tossed in, but they make a lovely salad dressed with lemon vinaigrette.   I featured them skewered for kabobs in a previous post.  https://kitchenkeepers.wordpress.com/wp-a

If you click on that link, you will see photos of the tool with which you crank out these lovelies. It works for other veggies as well, but I have used it most often with squash.

Don’t cook the ruffles too long, it only takes a few seconds.  This makes a great substitute for pasta if you are watching carbs.  The dish also looks wonderful served as a side, making any table look like a celebration.

 

Curried Nuts and Dried Cherries

This is a spicy version of trail mix that will make it hard to go back to your old mix if you like curry!  Toasting the spices along with the nut mix makes your kitchen full of mouth-watering aroma.  Tart dried cherries are suggested ( my husband says he would add more!) – but any dried fruit would be delicious. We always keep dried cranberries in the pantry so I will make some soon with cranberries and chopped dried apricots.  Great party food!

Curried Nuts and Cherries

2 tsp olive oil

½ cup raw cashews

2 ½ tsp curry powder (I used hot curry powder, but use sweet if you prefer)

¾ tsp ground cumin

¾ tsp kosher salt

½ cup dried tart cherries
Heat  olive oil in a large cast iron skillet. Add all nuts, then stir in the curry powder, cumin, and salt. Toast for 5 minutes stirring frequently. Stir in the dried cherries and let the mixture cool. Serve.