Retro Recipes and Traditional Fare

oneeggomeletAs with many good things, a cherished recipe resulted from an accident.

My wife wanted an omelet for breakfast and we had only one egg in the refrigerator. That egg was an especially good, farmers' market egg, but it did not have a companion and my wife was used to having a two-egg omelet.

Many solutions came to mind.

Go to the market to buy more. That seemed like too much trouble with a cup of coffee already brewed and waiting on the dining room table next to the Sunday New York Times. Use a lot of milk as "filler." But the resulting omelet would have been more like a custard than what my wife likes, a very firm cooked egg.

So, I did the only thing any guy would do in the circumstances. I punted.

If I was short an egg, well, I'd compensate with a lot more filling, hoping my wife would be distracted by all the goodies so she wouldn't notice the paucity of "egg."

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beefstew.jpgOne day when I was a little girl watching my mom make dinner, I asked her why we weren't a "meat and potatoes" family. She said, "That's because we're Italian, and we eat good food."

I remember thinking, was meat and potatoes bad food? Would it make you sick? I suddenly felt sorry for all those kids at school whose moms cooked meat and potatoes. I secretly wished I could bring them home for dinner so they could have good food like my mom's eggplant parmigiana, escarole and beans, and macaroni with gravy and meatballs.

Other than the once-a-year New England boiled pot roast with potatoes and carrots, my mom never made meat and potatoes meals, and I don't either. The closest I get to making meat and potatoes is a burger and fries, which suits Jeff just fine since his mother also never made meat and potatoes.

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pastanicoise.jpgHere's a great dish that does double duty: it can be dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. It's delicious served slightly warm or chilled. And it's especially great for a Friday night Lenten dinner. Using readily available ingredients including my favorite cans of tuna, this dish is light on the wallet too. For the best taste and texture use white albacore tuna packed in oil. It's much better than the chunk light in water.

My version of the French salad Niçoise is crossed with the American macaroni salad. Instead of boiled potatoes, I use pasta as a delicious alternative. Cavatappi, a corkscrew-shaped pasta, makes a playful addition, but elbow macaroni works well too. Green beans are quickly blanched and pasta is then cooked in the same pot before being combined with all the ingredients. A finish of briny olives and capers and a fresh vinaigrette make it feel like springtime on the Mediterranean coast.

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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.

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ImageOmelets are a great main course. Perfect for breakfast but also satisfying as lunch, dinner or a snack.

Easy to make, infinitely variable, filling, healthy and affordable, they are warming and delicious.

Just about any ingredients that can be sauteed can be used as a filling. (Why saute the fillings? To eliminate excess water and caramelize the ingredients.)  I like mine with cheese, but that's a matter of personal choice.

For breakfast this morning, I made my wife a vegetable omelet with spinach and shiitake mushrooms while I had a bit of bacon in mine.

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