Thursday, September 29, 2011


This is a dish is fairly easy and very delicious.  I am making it with some friends today so I thought I would put it up here to share with you and as an easy way to have it ready for my friends to take home with them.


2 medium sized firm eggplants, peeled, sliced, salted, (do this first) rinsed and then diced
While the eggplant is exuding its excess (and bitter)liquid prep the following vegetables.

2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
4 green peppers, julienned (1 1/2 inch by 1/8 inch matchsticks)
3 small zucchini in 1/2 inch slices
15 oz can of whole tomatoes roughly chopped. (Seasonally replaced by good fresh tomatoes)
2 T basil, chopped

Then Saute the onions and garlic in 1/3 cup olive oil until golden brown.  Then add all the vegetables plus 1/2 cup of black olives and the rinsed and diced eggplants.

Simmer covered over very low heat for 30-45 minutes.  Then uncovered to reduce the liquid.
 Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Serve with sour cream and crusty bread.


I also love to use the leftovers from this as the vegetable/red sauce component of vegetable lasagna prepared in the french style with a mornay sauce (rather than a ricotta or cottage cheese)

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Hugh sent this out to Brownclan a while ago, and I wanted to include it here.

So here it is!

I've been looking at pans and came across a review that recommended this video on how to get spherical Aeblskivers. She does it via quarter turns.

Here is the video he shared.

Pita Chips

Pita Chips
We did a salad bar night again for supper the other day. At the store, picking up a few items, I saw a bag of delicious but rather pricey pita chips that would go splendidly with the roasted pine nut hummus I had in my grocery cart. to the pita chips were bags of pita bread for a mere $1.50. So, I decided to make pita chips at home.

Google churned out a number of options. I looked at the top two, and picked one that had more ratings than the first in the list of choices.

I skipped the chervil (didn't have it) and used garlic powder and salt. For the first batch I peeled the layers of the pita pockets apart, so they were thinner and crunchier. The second batch I left the layers intact, so they were both crunchy and a bit chewy. Both were tasty.


Pita Chips

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 7 Minutes
Ready In: 17 Minutes
Servings: 24
"These fresh-from-the-oven triangles--pre-brushed with olive oil and herbs--have a warm and crunchy warm snap that you just can't get from a store bought bag."

12 pita bread pockets
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried chervil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. Cut each pita bread into 8 triangles. Place triangles on lined cookie sheet.
3. In a small bowl, combine the oil, pepper, salt, basil and chervil. Brush each triangle with oil mixture.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for about 7 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy. Watch carefully, as they tend to burn easily!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

From the cookbook: Oatmeal Cake

I thought it might be fun to explore some of the recipes in the family cookbook that are less familiar to me by making them and then reporting on them.  So this week I made Oatmeal Cake submitted by Gia on behalf of Stella Morris Baker.  I was intrigued by the fact that it used prepared oatmeal as an ingredient.

1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda

Pour water over the oats, stir to combine and set aside.  Cream butter and sugars, then beat in eggs.  Add the cooled oatmeal.  Sift together and then add the dry ingredients.  Bake in a well greased 9x13" pan at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Broiled Topping:

6 T butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped nuts
1/4 cup cream or evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla

During the last few minutes that the cake is baking, melt the butter in a saucepan and dissolve the sugar in it.  Mix in the other ingredients and spread on the top of the cake when it is finished but still hot.  Broil it for 2-3 minutes until it is just golden brown.  Watch it carefully that it doesn't burn.

I made this cake twice: once following the recipe and once making changes. When prepared as written,  it is a an incredibly moist, rich cake.  Adrian describes it as at the border between cake and pudding (as in bread pudding not Jello)  The topping is very like a German chocolate cake and is very good. There was one small problem with the topping however, my 9x13 pans are not approved for the broiler as directed in the directions for the cake.  I baked it at 450 degrees for 5 minutes instead.

My variation was to add plums to the cake as I had plums that needed eating.  The plums added to the bottom of the cake turned out beautifully, whereas the plums added to the top of the cake sank to the bottom and disrupted the crumb of the cake.  The plums also added sufficient liquid that the cake took twice as long to bake.  Over all I enjoyed the addition of the plums, but I would have only included them on the bottom and would probably precook them to drive off some of the moisture.  I also would have added a streusel topping for the last few minutes of baking.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Stove popped Popcorn

A couple of weeks ago we found ourselves without power for several days but having a gas stove we counted ourselves lucky that we could go on cooking in the dark. Our favorite recipe from the power outage is definitely old fashioned or stove popped popcorn.  We tried it with a setup based on one by Alton Brown of Good Eats.

This is what you need:

1/4 cup popcorn kernels
2T vegetable oil
1/4-1/2 tsp of popcorn salt.

Sturdy metal bowl with flared sides and isn't too flat on the bottom preferably with a lip.
Aluminum foil

Add popcorn, oil and salt to bowl.

Cover with foil and poke some steam vents

Over medium flame you shake the bowl gently back and forth using the tongs to grip it
As the kernels begin to pop you shake it faster and faster until the popping slows down.  Turn off the heat and continue shaking for another
few seconds.

Here is the finished product.  Pour it into a different bowl for eating it.

 After this you may throw out the air popper and stop buying the microwave stuff, but in the timeless words of Reading Rainbow, You don't have to take my word for it.


We love it prepared as above, but unable to resist I have begun to experiment with variations.  My favorite variation to date is replacing the vegetable oil with chile oil for a delightful and spicy treat.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cardamom Rice Pudding

I absolutely adore this rice pudding that I adapted from the Joy of Cooking

1 cup short grain rice
6 cups milk (I've only tried this with whole milk)
1/2 tsp salt
4 green cardamom pods
2 tsp of sugar
2 T butter
Cook the rice in the milk, salt, and cardamom in double boiler stirring often. Make sure the water in the bottom pan doesn't boil off.  You'll know it is done when the rice has expanded and absorbed almost all the milk.  Take it off the heat and stir in the sugar and butter.  Serve hot and then serve the left-overs well chilled.

I love the slightly perfumy combination of jasmine rice and cardamom but if that isn't your thing, you can replace the cardamom with vanilla or lemon rind.  I also enjoy adding dried cherries in the last 10 minutes of cooking so they plump up and offer a sweet-tart counterpoint to the creamy richness of the pudding.  I ate something very like this on my mission with cinnamon sugar or good jam and enjoy that as well.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Double Dark Chocolate Cheesecake

This is the chocolate cheesecake I shared as my talent at the recent reunion.

Cheesecake Recipe at Epicurious

I changed a couple of things in the recipe.  First I bake the cheesecake in a 12 inch cake pan lined with a parchment paper circle.  Cheesecake and spring-form pans have never worked well together for me.

Second I add the chocolate to the batter before the eggs.  Otherwise you over-beat the eggs. 

Third I serve this with raspberry jam which I sometimes spread under the ganache and sometimes just drizzle over each piece.