Retro Recipes and Traditional Fare

Feta Pepper Dip

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by Cathy Pollak

fetadipWow, I was exhausted yesterday.  Somehow the kid's first day at school wore me out.  I'm not sure how that happened since all I did was sit around and wait for them to come home while I talked a bunch of jibber-jabber on Facebook

By mid-afternoon I was tired.  Doing nothing can suck the life out of you.  I decided I only had enough energy to make dip for dinner.  So I whipped up this Feta Pepper Dip.

However, as the dinner hour quickly approached, the responsibility of being a mother and a wife extinguished my extreme lack of motivation.  I am happy to report chicken and salad made it to the table along with this awesome dip.

Here's whatI love about it...the salty feta, with the slight heat of the pepperoncini and the tang of the lemon zest make a tasty little treat. The end all is to it up with barbecue chips.  The barbecue chips are really a must here, the sweetness of them adding another layer of flavor.

But I'm also thinking this would be some kind of heaven slathered on a grilled lamb burger.  That just might be lunch for us today.

Sweet Corn Chowder With Spicy Seared Sea Scallops

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by Lisa McRee

cornscallopchowdercupOne of the great things about summer in New England is the abundance of fresh sweet corn and local seafood... And no dish celebrates that seasonal and regional deliciousness quite like a corn and seafood chowder.

A few years (and a few sizes) ago, whether it was corn and clam chowder, corn and lobster chowder, even corn and haddock chowder, I ordered it every time it was on a menu. Sadly, my habit of souvenir eating–you don’t know when you’ll be back so you better eat it all while you’re there–meant I also lugged home an extra 5 pounds after every vacation that wasn’t in my suitcase. (Ugh.)

So once I began re-thinking and re-tooling my favorite dishes, I just had to find a way to enjoy that creamy New England goodness without feeling (or looking) like I’d swallowed Plymouth Rock.

It wasn’t easy. It seemed like every one of the corn and seafood chowder recipes from my favorite chefs relied on white flour, a stick of butter (810 calories and 91 grams of fat) and a cup (and sometimes two!) of heavy cream (821 calories and 88 grams of fat per cup), which meant just a two cup bowl, without the fish, could have up to 800 calories…half the calories I need to eat in a whole day!

A Summertime Open Faced BLT

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by David Latt

summertomatosSummertime is the best of times and the worst of times.

When it's hot and humid, nothing makes me happy except air conditioning. But all that heat is good for the garden and summertime tomatoes benefit from all that sun. Luckily we have neighbors who generously share the beautiful tomatoes that grow in their garden.

A BLT is my favorite way to enjoy tomatoes. Acidic-sweet tomato slices cozy up to crisp, salty bacon, crunchy lettuce leaves and the comfort of bread in the most satisfying of experiences.

When the rain beats against the dining room windows and the temperature hovers in the mid-40s, a wintertime BLT with hot house tomatoes on slices of a good wheat berry bread with a touch of Best Foods mayonnaise and a bowl of hot vegetable soup satisfies in a good way.

Summertime is something else altogether. First off, I don't want all that bread. In summertime, I want light and cool, not heft.

Pound Cake

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by James Farmer III

poundcakeJust the mention of my favorite cake and I’m ready for a piece. Not a huge fan of icing or frosting, my traditional birthday cake is always a pound cake, plain and simple. Sour cream, cream cheese, chocolate, fruit flavored and even rum pound cakes abound in the culinary world.

As a fan of most all of these very simple, very elegant, and VERY delicious cakes, the plain ol’ pound cake or whipping cream pound cake just might be my favorite... sour cream and cream cheese respectively in the top three. Mama made this one as is her custom for my birthday...or any other time I pester her enough so she’ll cave in a make me one! The basis is the same. A simple cream (sour, whipping, or cream cheese) that combines with flour, butter, and sugar to make the perfect consistency of cake – augmented by a note of pure vanilla.

Even a scraping of vanilla bean adds the slightest of flavor and visual delight to the cake and whipped cream dollop. Though, for my first birthday, I managed to actually sit in a bakery cake piled and piped with sugary icing and eat my way out of the Sesame Street cake; yet, I developed a love for the goodness that is simply pound cake. Flavor, yes, a major factor, but also for versatility is why this cake is so dear to my heart.

Sparkling Jellies

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by Amy Sherman

sparklingjelliesOk, so England isn't the home of one of the world's greatest cuisines, but it has exported a number of delicious dishes. I'm particularly fond of crumpets, Summer pudding, bangers and mash, fish and chips, the Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding, and chicken tikka masala (while not completely English the combining of chicken tikka with a masala sauce is believed to be a British invention). On the rise in popularity are sticky toffee pudding and perhaps one day, my favorite English sausage the chipolata.

Something else I think of as decidedly English that has not gained in popularity yet here in the States, are Jellies. Not jelly like grape jelly, but jellies for eating that we call gelatin or Jell-o. But the British versions are much more sophisticated often including booze and ending up like gelatinized versions of elegant cocktails. Every Summer, British cookery magazines feature a variety of these lovelies which can be served instead of a cocktail, as a starter, a palate cleanser or a dessert.

The possibilities are endless. One package of gelatin and you are on your way! Other requirements include little glasses and tiny spoons. I have collected some shot glasses for this purpose and also use my otherwise rarely used vodka set.

Orange Mousse Fit for Royalty

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by Sue Doeden

orange-mousse-016b-1024x682Many years ago, my mother-in-law’s niece made a trip to England. She brought two gifts back for my mother-in-law — a Bone China tea cup and saucer and a cookbook. I was the lucky daughter-in-law who got both of her English treasures after she died.

I pulled “Cook in Your Castle” off the shelf this week. After paging through the section on desserts, I finally decided on 10 Downing Street Frozen Orange Mousse, a recipe from Margaret Thatcher, who was Prime Minister at the time the book of recipes was compiled.

There were a couple of things about the recipe that worried me a bit. First, I noticed it called for gelatin. I don’t use gelatin very often. The recipe didn’t explain how to dissolve it before adding it to the mixing bowl.

I wound up putting 2 tablespoons of cool water into a custard cup. I sprinkled the packet of gelatin over the water and mixed it with a fork. The gelatin immediately absorbed the water and became an ugly, clumpy mass. I left it sit for 5 minutes and, in the meantime, heated some water in a small saucepan on the stove. Just before the water came to a boil, I removed the saucepan from the heat and set the custard cup holding the clumpy gelatin in the water that came halfway up the sides of the bowl. As I stirred the gelatin mixture, it began to dissolve and become liquid. Smooth and lump-less liquid. The mousse turned out perfectly light and lovely.

Corn Pudding Souffle

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by Susan Salzman

cornpudding souffleI was given this recipe by a friend over 10 years ago. and I have been making it for years. It’s perfect for a bar-b-que side dish that always gets rave reviews, and it does in fact feed a huge crowd. The original ingredients were filled with preservatives; Jiffy corn bread mix, canned creamed corn, canned corn, etc.

I haven’t made it for over a year and with this coming week being a holiday, the invitations to dinners and pool parties was on the agenda. All of the fresh corn at the farmers market inspired me to dig up the original recipe. I knew I wasn’t going to use the boxed ingredient, for two reasons; it’s boxed and it’s not gluten free.

After searching for creamed corn without all of the stuff in it, I decided to simply make my own. No, really, it’s not that hard. The additional ingredients of eggs, butter, and sour cream all still worked.

Cracking the Code of Panna Cotta

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by Russ Parsons

From the LA Times

pannacottaI've spent a good chunk of the last two weeks surrounded by spreadsheets, crumpled paper packets, cartons of dairy products and dirty ramekins. Josef Centeno has a lot to answer for.

A couple of weeks ago I stopped in at his Bäco Mercat restaurant downtown for a lunch that ended with one of the best panna cottas I've ever had. You know what I mean: Delicately sweet, it was like a dream of cream held together by faith and just a little bit of gelatin.

It struck me — how long had it been since I'd had panna cotta? A few years ago you couldn't go anywhere without seeing it. Then just as suddenly it went away. It makes no sense. A good panna cotta is as good as dessert gets. Vowing I would never again leave my panna cotta cravings to the whims of restaurant fashion, I determined to master the dish.

How hard could that be? There's not a lot to a panna cotta recipe. It's just dairy, sweetened and bound with gelatin. A bit of vanilla for flavor. That's basically it. Why, then, are some of them so wonderful and others so blah?

Read more...

Mom's Sauerkraut, Dad's Favorite

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by Cathy Pollak

kapustaMy Dad was crazy about this; it's what I recall him craving the most. He always happily obliged my mother as chief taster when she was in the kitchen trying to get the flavors just right.

I know my Dad was smiling down from heaven the other day as he watched us make his prized Sauerkraut.

However, sauerkraut is not what we called this dish, being Polish, we referred to it as kapusta (kah-POOS-tah), a word meaning cabbage. It just sounds wrong.

Anyway, I grew up on this stuff. Just the aromatics alone take me back to my childhood kitchen. I can still see the pot my mother cooked it in and my Dad standing there, waiting to inform her if it was sour enough or needed more salt.

It's a good memory but one that leaves me a bit emotional.

Ribeyes with Red Wine-Feta Vinaigrette

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by Cathy Pollak

steakfetaA good steak never needs something extra to make it stand out.  However, sometimes I do have a craving for an extra twang to go with my meat.

We love ribeye steaks.  I would say 90% of the steaks I buy are ribeyes; they just always grill to perfection.  I guess I should thank my husband for that. 

Anyway, yesterday I had a craving for something to go on top of my meat.  I remembered seeing a recipe for a vinaigrette topping ribeyes.  I searched my recipes until I found it, Ribeyes with Red Wine-Feta Vinaigrette.  It was exactly what I was craving.

Vinaigrette on meat you say?  Yes, a million times yes.  The vinegar and feta cut through the richness of the steak perfectly, leaving you with this melt in your mouth experience.  I loved it.  I suspect this would also go well with grilled ahi tuna steaks or pork chops.  If you add more oil it would also be perfect in a Greek salad.

 

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