Retro Recipes and Traditional Fare

hashbrowns.jpgI found the secret to the crispiest, most delicious home fries.

It all started with a late night binge. I was still hungry (or maybe just bored…) after dinner one night, so I decided to make a baked potato. While I was waiting, I snacked on about a million other things, and when my potato was ready, I wasn’t hungry anymore. The potato spent the night in the fridge.

While I was thinking about breakfast the next morning, I decided to see what I could whip up with the potato…and wow, if you want a quick and easy breakfast side, this is the way to go!

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romescoThis is one of those recipes that seems more complicated than it is. Make it once and you’ll never need to look at the recipe again. Eat what you make and you’ll become addicted, learning new ways to use the nutty, spicy, sweet, deeply satisfying condiment. It’s a no brainer on simple grilled, broiled or poached fish or chicken, but it’s on vegetables where the sauce really shines.

Suzanne famously serves it atop potatoes. I’ve featured it here on this blog as part of a Grand Aioli, a dish where dipping becomes an art form of customization. I love it dribbled on fried eggs, tucked in a tortilla with whatever as a “colonial” salsa. I would really like to know your favorite way to eat Romesco. A spoon anyone?

If you can’t find dried chiles pasillas then substitute the more commonly found New Mexico chiles. Pasillas have a more complex sort of winy flavor and a bit more heat than the brighter flavored New Mexico chile.

This is one of those recipes where the quality of the bread makes a tremendous difference. It’s a peasant dish and assumes a peasant loaf, so try to find a great natural local natural yeasted bread in your area. If all else fails, use La Brea Bakery. I used a couple slices off a small boule from Roan Mills.

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cucumbers.jpgI think it's an American consensus that any dish covered with cheese is better. Steamed broccoli drowned in bright yellow processed cheese comes to mind. But what dinner table in America is without scalloped or gratinéed potatoes? Too bad we Americans can't claim the idea as our own invention. The French came up with gratiné, the method of topping ingredients with breadcrumbs, butter, and cheese and baking under a broiler. Potatoes are the most popular cooked in this method, but other vegetables also deserve this special treatment. Cucumbers, a vegetable that really never gets cooked, make the perfect gratiné.

Why cucumbers? In Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child offers up her recipe for baked cucumbers and in Julie & Julia, Julie Powell discovers the deliciousness of Julia's baked cucumbers. While reading these books in anticipation of the movie, I couldn't keep cucumbers out of my mind. I just was unable to fathom cooked or baked cucumbers. Then on an episode of Julia and Jacques on PBS, I saw Jacques Pépin sauté cucumbers to serve alongside fish. So I had to try preparing something with cucumbers for myself.

 

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cookie.macaroon.coconutI have always been a fan of macaroons; almond, hazelnut, pistachio, and especially coconut.  Through the years, I have made lots of versions of this classic Passover cookie, but none as good as the one’s I found on The Michaels Restaurant Blog.

Last year, I made over 400 macaroons for the Passover Seder at our Temple.  Although I enjoyed making them, I didn’t want to look at another macaroon for some time.  

This past week our temple hosted a journey through Egypt, ending with a Seder (for the kids only). Obviously, I was asked to bring the macaroons.

This recipe for macaroons is simply one of the best.  And each and every time I bring these to someones house, I am reminded of how good they are by how well they are received.

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brie_and_pesto_fondue.jpgThere was a time when gathering people around a fondue pot to cook their own food was very popular. It was the 1970's I think – about the same time I got married. My husband and I recieved three of these "communal" pots as wedding gifts. I think I remember using one or two of them one or two times soon after the wedding. And then they sat. For years.

My experience with fondue was very limited. I remember going to a Minneapolis restaurant with my parents on special occasions where they would serve a a bowl of cheese fondue warming over the flame of a tiny tea candle. Each table of diners would recieve this bowl of melted deliciousness along with a basket of crunchy, house-made garlic croutons. As a young girl, the process of poking one of those toasted chunks with a long, slender fork and dunking it into the warm cheese before popping it into my mouth, felt quite elegant.

And, I do remember a couple of times when my parents had friends over for a "fondue party." It was a long, drawn-out affair, with the meal lasting for hours as each person skewered a piece of meat with a fondue fork and placed it into a fondue pot full of hot, bubbling oil to cook. It's definitely not fast-food. And it's not a meal in 30 minutes or less. It's slow food.

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