I am constantly amazed at how animated and talkative people get when you mention food. The mere aroma of certain foods can evoke memories that transport us back to a special place and time. Food can bridge the gap between all ages, races and ethnicities.
Let's face it, the only thing that should ever come between people is a table and some serving bowls.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Sisters Italian Style

My grandmother flew to Florida for my Cousin Stephen's wedding and will be staying with my aunt Jay. You would think that my eighty-eight year old grandmother would be glad to get away from our seven degree weather. Unfortunately the temperature has only been in the seventies in Florida (which qualifies as freezing by my grandmothers standards). It’s always interesting when my grandmother and my aunt Jay get together, they tend to lovingly disagree on just about everything and I mean everything! Aunt Jay is the older sister, she is in her early nineties, they are the last of five siblings so we as a family treasure every moment even though those moments may require popping a few antacids (sometimes quite a few). Trust me when I say that we would all prefer to suffer from a little bit of heartburn rather than the heartache the alternative would bring.

Here’s a recipe that is hard even for the sisters to disagree with....although, my aunt Jay’s are crisper which to my grandmother means aunt Jay's are too dry. Supposedly my grandmother’s could use a little more anise, which to aunt Jay means my grandmother’s lack flavor.
Oh well, I hope you enjoy these too dry flavorless biscotti as much as we do.

Traditional Anise Biscotti

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs (save one yolk)
1 teaspoon anise extract (or 2 teaspoons of anise liqueur)
1 teaspoon anise seed, ground
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition and reserving one yolk. Add flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix well at medium speed of electric mixer.
Form dough into flattened log shapes or domed loaves, 2 inches wide by one half-inch high in the center.
Beat together remaining yolk and 1 tablespoon of milk. Brush over tops.
Bake in a preheated 375°F oven 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, use a serrated knife to slice diagonally into 1 1/4" thick slices. Place on a baking sheet and toast five minutes.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Sconed!

I was curious as to who came up with that saying so I did a little research and found out that it wasn’t William Shakespeare as so many thought. The saying actually comes from a play by another William, William Congreve. A play he wrote in 1697 called “The Mourning Bride”, the line from the play actually went like this; “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / nor hell a fury like a woman scorned’. It may have changed slightly over these many years but its popularity of meaning has only grown stronger with time.

Sweet and Hot like a Woman Scones

3 cups of self-rising flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
Dash of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar
6 tablespoons of butter
1 small Jalapeno seeded and diced (small)
1/4 cup of dried sweet cherries roughly chopped
1/2 cup of milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Sift flour, baking powder and salt, add sugar cut butter in with a fork to corn-meal sized mixture add jalapeno’s and cherries then add in the milk.
Roll out to one-inch thickness. Cut into 2 inch circles or you may cut them into the traditional triangular shape.
Place on greased cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden.

makes about 8 scones.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Not Popeye's favorite

“He’s strong to the finish cause he eats his spinach he’s Popeye the sailor man”! I’m pretty sure Popeye never put butter and cream in his spinach we all know that he prefers Olive Oyl (sorry I just couldn’t resist)
One of my all time favorite side dishes, not something that you see too often in restaurants. Luckily it’s easy enough to make at home for a lot less money and it will probably taste better too.

Creamed Spinach

1 lb. spinach, washed, trimmed with stems removed
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
1 tbsp. flour
1/2 c. heated whipping cream (you can just microwave the cream and sugar for about 20 seconds)
1 tsp. sugar
freshly ground pepper and salt to taste

Place spinach in rapidly boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes or until tender. Drain well and chop fine. In a large skillet, melt butter and sauté chopped onion for 2 minutes. Stir in flour, being careful not to burn it. Slowly stir in the heated cream and sugar. Cook and stir until smooth and thick. Add the spinach and stir for another 3 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper, should make 2 or 3 nice servings. I tend to double the recipe because I can eat a couple servings by myself.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Beans, Beans the Magical..... or How About "People of the World, Ignite"!

photo courtesy of Theoildrum.com

Beans and beer? Sounds like we are headed into dangerous territory here, we all know the effects of beans and we all know the effects of beer. This recipe could have environmental effects of a global proportion. All the more reason to make a double batch and share it with friends and family, people who know each other and love each other through good smells and bad.
The funny part is, even given the obvious effects of the two key ingredients listed in this recipe people are going to make it, love it and pass it along (get it? Pass it along). What a toot………oops, I really did mean hoot (pardon me).

Drunken Beans

2 lbs. pinto beans (may use any bean that you like)
1- 12oz can of beer (any)
4 to 6 bell peppers, chopped (may throw in a hot pepper if you like things spicy)
2 large tomatoes, chopped (may used canned)
2 medium Onions, chopped

Cook beans in 8 cups of boiling water for 10 minutes than lower to simmer and cook for 1 and 1/2 hours, stir occasionally. Then add beer, chopped peppers, cut up tomatoes and onions, add to beans and cook on low for another 45 minutes then serve.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Baby Ruth Squared

Baby Ruth Candy Bars are a real old time favorite. This recipe takes that classic taste we all know and love and transforms it into and easy to make treat. I highly suggest making a double batch cause these won’t last long.

Baby Ruth Squares

1 cup corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts
6 cups Rice Krispies
1 heaping cup peanut butter (Creamy)


1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 cup chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons of butter

Cook corn syrup and sugar until it boils. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, peanuts and cereal. Press into 9 x 13 inch pan. For topping bring sugar and milk to a full boil, remove from heat and add chocolate chips and butter, mix well. Spread on top of cereal mixture, let cool and cut into squares.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Nice Hot Bath For Everyone!

Bagna Cauda which is an Italian dialect meaning warm bath or warm sauce derived from Bagno Caldo which means; “Hot Bath” the perfect soak for those tired veggies or an instant perk for that same old pasta dish. Another little trick I have is putting a few spoonfuls of this on the crust of my pizza before putting on the toppings (works best when making white pizza).
Bagna Cauda can be served fondue style or just served in a bowl for dunking, dipping or in my case ladling. A perfect dip for lightly grilled or broiled vegetables, truly a perfect party dish.

Bagna Cauda

1/2 lb butter (2 sticks)
1/2 cup of good olive oil
12 or more garlic cloves, crush some, leave some whole
1/2 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 small jar of anchovies in oil (may also use tinned variety)
Salt or Parmesan cheese, to taste (optional)

Heat butter, olive oil, red pepper flakes and crushed black pepper in a skillet or sauce pan over low heat. Add garlic and anchovies (oil and all) and mash to a paste with a fork as they become tender or leave the garlic whole if you prefer.
Can be used as a sauce for pasta (add more Parmesan cheese). For dunking try some steamed, grilled or broiled broccoli , Cardoon, Celery, Bok Choy leaves, Cauliflower etc.
How about dunking some breadsticks wrapped with prosciutto….delicious or drizzle on some salad greens.

Better when kept warm
Photo Courtesy of HBomb/Flickr.com

Saturday, February 16, 2008

One of Millie's Favorite's

As easy as it is to make fried potatoes and eggs my aunt would have had you all believing that it was one of the hardest things in the world to make. Well at least that is what she tried to make all of us believe, deep down we knew that she just preferred to have someone else do the cooking for her. We would all laugh when she would bat her eyelashes at her sister (my grandmother) and hint around about how good some fried potatoes and eggs would be. My aunt didn’t have to hint around for long my grandmother graciously accommodated her. It was always a cute ritual one we all miss dearly.

Fried Potatoes and Eggs

2 cups cooked potatoes, sliced
2 tbsp. shortening (Butter)
3 eggs
Salt & pepper

Fry sliced cooked potatoes in hot melted shortening, break the eggs over the potatoes, stirring quickly through the potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fry a few minutes longer until eggs are done.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Feeling Scent-imental

When it comes to love and romance I can’t help being reminded of “Pepe Le Pew” the ultimate Romeo, Pepe had some of the best pick up lines ever…….

“Where are you, my little gumbo of chicken? Your French fried shrimp is sizzling for you".

“Permit me to introduce myself; I am your new lover.”

“Where are you, my little object of art? I am here to collect you.”

“Is it possible to be too attractive?”

“You know, most men would get discouraged by now fortunately for you, I am not most men!”

· “You stop resisting me, bebe, and I’ll stop resisting you.”· “You are the corned beef, and I am the cabbage. The corned beef is nothing without the cabbage.”

“The game of love is never called on account of darkness, my little midnight snack."

“You may call me Streetcar, because of my desire for you.”

In honor of all the Pepe's and Penelope's out there trying to keep it sweet this Valentine's Day something easy to make......just in case you get too busy doing other things!

Banana Romeo and Juliet Cake

1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 (15 oz.) can crushed pineapple, not drained
1 c. sugar
3-4 bananas
1 lg. pkg. vanilla instant pudding mix
1 lg. carton frozen whipped topping
1 1/2 c. flaked coconut
1 c. chopped pecans

Bake cake in a 9 x 13 inch pan as directed on package, heat pineapple with juice and the sugar for 5 minutes. Poke holes in baked cake while still warm. Pour warm pineapple mixture on top. Let cool.

Put sliced bananas on top of cake. Mix instant pudding mix as directed on package and pour on top of bananas. Add a layer of whipped topping and then sprinkle with coconut and chopped pecans.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mad Kitchen Scientist

I have always loved recipes that have ingredients in them that you would never in a million years consider putting together. It usually leaves me wondering who came up with it in the first place and was it intentional or was it making do with whatever was left lurking in the kitchen. I always call recipes like these “Happy Accidents” when you just start mixing a bunch of different things together like some deranged scientist and eureka you’ve created a new indescribably delicious taste.
When reading this recipe you think; “thousand island dressing and apricot preserves with onion soup mix” I’m not so sure about this. I was really skeptical myself until I tasted it and any doubts I had disappeared and were replaced with me wanting seconds.

Thousand Island Chicken

1 (8 oz.) bottle thousand island dressing
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1/2 cup of apricot preserves
1 Big package of cut up chicken (usually about 3 pounds)

Place cut up chicken in 9 x 13 inch pan. Mix rest of ingredients and pour over chicken. Cover with foil. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes, uncover. Bake another 20 minutes. Serve over rice.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Oysters Without The Pearl

This amazing little root really does taste like a mild version of an oyster, probably more of an acquired taste for many. Texturally they are quite different than that of an oyster but flavor wise they are very similar. Salsify is great in stews, soups and is also delicious creamed or mashed.
They carry Salsify in most supermarkets in the produce section usually only during the winter months. It’s a very interesting vegetable really worth exploring.

Salsify Casserole (Poor Man’s Baked Oysters)

2 cups of Salsify, cooked and drained
3 cups of broken saltine crackers (just crush in your hand)
2 eggs
3 cups of milk
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. butter

Scrape salsify as you would a carrot, slice in 1/4 inch pieces, and put in cold water to keep from turning dark, simmer for 20 minutes until tender then drain.
Butter a 1 1/2 quart baking dish layer salsify and crackers (starting and ending with crackers). Beat eggs, add milk, salt and pepper and pour over casserole, dot with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Richness In Being Poor

This may sound a bit unusual but this is a recipe that was created out of necessity. My great great grandfather made his own wine and kept it in barrels in an old dirt cellar. Potatoes were a very inexpensive staple so there were always plenty of them on hand which made this a very sensible recipe to present at the family table. Today it sounds like something you would order at a high end restaurant. I've grown to realize and appreciate with time that many of our greatest recipes throughout the world seem to have been created during times of struggle. I have always found it quite interesting that some of the richest of foods were created during the poorest of times. Maybe that's where that old saying "Less is more"comes from.

Red Wine Potatoes

10-12 scrubbed red potatoes
1 Tablespoon of chopped garlic
2 cups of red wine (any dry variety)

Halve or quarter scrubbed red potatoes, brown in oil on all sides. Add minced garlic toward end of browning so as not to scorch. Add 2 cups red wine and cover immediately. Cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender. Watch that wine doesn't all cook away. Serve with remaining wine sauce.

FYI- I have been told that if one prefers not to have the intense red color that it is okay to use white wine in place of the red.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Getting Corny on Super Bowl Sunday

I thought that I would join the “Super bowl Sunday” snack bandwagon that has been going around for the past couple of weeks. I have to say I have seen some really good ideas for perfect Super bowl party fare. I love popcorn, it’s just a great all around snack food that is really fun to share ……. So please pass it around, have fun and enjoy!

Honey Roasted Popcorn

1/3 cup honey
1/4 butter
1/2 brown sugar
4 cups popcorn (popped)
1/2 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
In a good size bowl mix the honey, butter, brown sugar and milk. Add the already popped popcorn and mix. Spread on a cookie sheet or in a baking pan and bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes, watch carefully it can burn easily. Let cool a bit then enjoy