Retro Recipes and Traditional Fare
Holidays can be treacherous times for anyone trying to shed weight…unless you’ve learned how to fill yourself up and fake yourself out with The Skinny versions of the foods you crave!
And if you’re craving mashed potatoes with your turkey dinner, or just want them as part of a simple supper, this is a recipe that delivers in taste and texture…but has only a fraction of the calories and none of the fat.
Mashed potatoes made with milk and butter can have as much as 200 calories a cup. But a cup of “mock mashed” made with nutrient rich cauliflower has less than 30!
I didn’t invent the brilliant substitution of cauliflower for spuds–that’s a trick I learned from The South Beach Diet years ago…
But by changing the cooking technique–microwaving the cauliflower rather than steaming it (which made it too wet!)–and using just a wee bit ofSmart Balance Light Butter Spread and fat-free half and half, the dish is now quicker, easier, requires much less clean-up AND has much better flavor and texture..which means I can serve it to the pickiest of eaters!
In 1919, after the end of World War I, Woodrow Wilson declared the first Armistice Day.
His mother, Jesse Woodrow Wilson, 1826-1888, wrote a handwritten recipe book. Among the recipes was one labeled - "Woodrow's favorite - Charlotte Russe" see below...
"Put in a kettle one ounce of gelatin, one quart of water, one-half pint of milk, one pound of sugar, yolks of four eggs and four spoons of sugar. When these ingredients are well mixed pour them upon yolks, and scald them -- stirring all the while; then strain it through a sieve ane pour it while hot on the four whites which must be beaten to a froth. Stir it constantly -- when it is cold, add a syllabub prepared as follows: One-half pint of cream, the remainder of the sugar, churn it, then lay it upon a sieve so that all the milk may drain out. Stir constantly until cold."
November 15th is National Bundt Day. Duty calls. I need to make a bundt. I am trying to stay seasonal, so what would make the most sense? You guessed it, pumpkin! When I want to make a bundt, my first stop on the internet is always Mary’s blog. She could be considered the queen of bundts and boy does she love pretty much all things bundt related.
She recently posted this recipe for Sour Cream Pumpkin Bundt which she got off of the Libby’s website. I would never in a million years think to pull something off of a branded website.
Since reading Mary’s post, I have actually perused a few of the sites, just to see what their ideas are for the holidays. Some interesting, some not so interesting. Yet, none the less, good info and always inspires new ideas.
Regardless, this cake is a winner. And as I have mentioned in the past, bundts are easy and they are always a crowd pleaser. This one certainly pleased a crowd. I made three minor alterations to the recipe. I added dried cranberries to the streusel, cut back a little on the streusel ingredients, and replaced sucanat with white sugar.
We are having friends for brunch Thanksgiving weekend. I may just have to make this again!
Now that we’re in the peak of apple picking season, I realized that I never posted a basic apple pie recipe. Some people find making pies a daunting task. There are stories, mostly said in hushed tones, about my mother throwing more than a few pie crusts against the wall.
I must admit, rolling out a homemade pie crust can be intimidating at first. There are several variables that can throw a “wrench” in your dough – humidity, temperature of the butter, amounts of water, types of flour, overworking the dough - all can influence the outcome of your crust.
Once you master a pie crust recipe, and you truly learn the “feel” of pastry in its various stages, it will be a breeze to roll out a pie. If it still seems too challenging, there are some acceptable store bought pie dough brands.
Wholly Wholesome, which has won the praise of Cook’s Illustrated, Good Housekeeping, Real Simple Magazine and CBS The Early Show, offers organic easy to use rolled pie dough and pre-made pie shells.
Now that cooler temperatures are upon us, even here in California, it’s time for some hearty soup and stews. Hungarian Beef Goulash is a common Eastern European stew created using three basic ingredients: equal parts beef and onions, and a healthy dose of paprika.
It’s often served with spaetzle, noodles, rice or potatoes and is guaranteed to keep you warm on the chilliest of days. Since paprika is a key ingredient, it’s important to use the best you can find.
The Spice House is a great family owned business that offes the highest quality, hand-selected and hand-prepared spices and herbs. The stores are located in the Midwest (I've been to the store in Chicago, it's great!), but online ordering from their website is a breeze – and it’s worth the trouble for their signature Hungarian Sweet Paprika. Check out all of their spices here.
Fall is definitely in the air here in the Willamette Valley. The night temperatures have been in the mid-40's and the leaves are turning orange and brown to mark the season. The kids are already asking for flannel sheets to be put on their beds. I don't blame them, it's cold at night.
Well nothing screams Fall more than Apple Pie baking in the oven. I also like to top it off with Maple Whipped Cream.
Everyone makes their own version of apple pie and of course we all think ours is the best. I believe it's one of the most satisfying comfort foods around and I love it any time of the year.
Hopefully it has cooled off in your neck of the woods so you too can put an apple pie in the oven.
I felt my big toe push a hole through my fishnet stockings as I stepped on the gas and drove south on Fairfax. I nibbled on the broken corner of my dark red thumb nail and made a right turn onto Pico Boulevard. I thought about lighting a cigarette to calm myself but didn’t.
I was driving to see “Vertigo Road”, a band that my recently ex-fiance and I knew quite well and my social fears were getting the best of me. They were playing at a bar with one of those anti-esoteric names I can’t remember exactly, like “The Place”, or “The Gig”, or “The Thing”.
It was an unseasonably cool night for Los Angeles in early September so, when the closest parking space I found was 8 blocks from the bar, I knew I wouldn’t mind walking. I flipped down the mirrored visor to check my lipstick and stared at my reflection for a moment. I hadn’t seen many of these people since the break up and I knew they would search my face and demeanor for clues as to how I was doing. I wanted to look amazing. I wanted to seem like I had it all figured out. I knew that was going to take some effort. I applied more lipstick.
When I turned off my Honda, it suddenly sounded like I had parked in a war zone. Sirens screamed and glass shattered. I was overtaken by the smell in the air. It was luscious and earthy and charred. I shut my eyes and gulped the aroma down for a moment and then walked quickly toward the commotion on Pico. It was a fire. A big one. And as mesmerizing as the flames were, nothing could compare to the smell.
A couple of summer months filled with many beachside lunches of paella so good and so long ago that I am still chasing the memories of a perfect paella. My sister and I were in the Catalonian village of Arenys de Mar for a good part of the summer. On the wide, white beach surrounded by rugged hills were a handful of rustic 'restaurants' that made only paella over wood fires. They were makeshift structures covered with bright pieces of miss-matched canvas tacked down to keep the strong Spanish sun and ocean breeze at bay. These little makeshift restaurants were always busy for lunch, the only meal that they served and I had my favorite one.
The beach side paella restaurateurs were waiting like gulls as the little boats motored back to port around 10 o’clock in the morning. Each boat filled with the fresh caught fish and shellfish still moving violently seeking to be set free. There was fish to fillet and chunk, stock to make, onions and peppers to chop and most importantly the wood-fire had to be started, time was of the essence.
My favorite restaurant had a round stone fire pit built on the sand. A variety of wood collected from the beach was piled into the pit covering yesterday's scrunched up newspaper which was barely visible in the center. A wooden match was struck and the day's cooking commenced. When the flames burned down, the cook balanced a grill on top of the stone pit. A large battered and blackened pot half full of seawater was slid over the roaring fire; cups of peeled garlic cloves, mounds of chopped onions, chopped tomatoes and all the fish heads, bones and shrimp shells we're rhythmically tossed in. All the odds and ends from the daily catch found their way into the pot. The pot of stock was never allowed to boil once the seawater was poured into the caldron. It was hardly stirred to keep it from getting murky. As the fish water turned to stock and smelled less raw the seagulls overhead disappeared.
Traditionally this fish would be cooked in parchment paper, and opened at the table (See NY Times article: "The Envelope Please: Cooking En Papillote") but I find the task somewhat tedious and prefer the much easier-to-use aluminum foil.
Haddock or Cod work best in this recipe and the few simple ingredients make it easy to throw together – especially in the summer when the zucchini is abundant and the tomatoes are at peak flavor.
You can make the fish packets ahead and just bake them when you’re ready for dinner.
For me there's nothing more representative of the ocean than shellfish, particularly the beautiful blue mussel. I have always had an affinity for the ocean, and before my foray into marine biology, I was first and foremost a young curious kid who avidly collected shells to learn all about them. As a kid though I wouldn't eat mussels, or any shellfish for that matter; I thought they were just too beautiful or too gross. Now I can hardly remember a time that I didn't love eating shellfish. Ever since my first time having moules marinière, I have been in love with the sweet briny flavor of mussels. With a slice of crusty bread in hand, I now dive into a bowl of mussels with conviction.
That flavor marries perfectly with white wine and garlic, the basis for preparing moules in any of the Mediterranean countries. In this recipe, I augment those traditional flavors with the addition of slowly sautéed leeks for a sweet onion flavor and a unique fresh celery-like herb, lovage. This cousin of celery most resembles a cross between celery and parsley, both in appearance and in taste. An interesting fact is that the spice commonly sold as dried celery seed is actually lovage seed. As a fresh herb, lovage lends a bright flavor to foods, and just a few sprigs can add wonderful flavor profiles to soups and stews. Here in this recipe, it replaces the more traditionally used parsley just for one final twist.