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"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

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supper from the freezer & pantry~!

IMG_0693IMG_0697Tonight’s supper is a pantry/freezer meal. It’s called “American Chop Suey” for reasons that are beyond me – OR Hungarian goulash (ditto.) Anyhow, I defrosted ground beef and 2/3rds of a green pepper from the freezer. Found a partial box of Farfalle pasta, Ragu pizza sauce and Del Monte’s diced tomatoes and an onion in the pantry. From the fridge, a fresh unopened pack of pizza cheeses.

Although the dish is pretty straightforward, there are a couple of issues that account for it being really great tasting or mezza mezza: that is, cooking an onion, garlic, green pepper beef mix with drained diced tomatoes and a splash of pizza sauce, being careful to drain the mixture of too much juice before adding the pasta.

Second, for the first time, I added a good handful of cheeses into the beef mix before
adding the pasta. Super important is making sure the pasta is drained WELL. The
Farfalle was cooked al-dente, squeezed dry of excess water and gently folded into the
meat/cheese sauce. A big handful of cheeses went on top and then baked in a 375
oven for almost an half an hour. It was really tasty! We ate it with thick slices of
toasted, buttered homemade bread.

tiramisu! . . .

IMG_0680Tiramisu is an elegant Italian dessert. I made one for Christmas a couple of years ago and shared it with my daughter and her family up in Gloucester. Our neighbor downstairs made one about a month ago which started us on a Tiramisu roll ever since.
 
This one is probably the best tasting one so far that I’ve made, for which I used an electric mixer to whip up the Sabayon of (4) egg yolks and (1/2 cup)sugar in a double boiler. It was worth the trouble because it resulted in a light colored Sabayon, to which I gently folded in a container of Mascarpone. I whipped a pint of heavy cream starting slowly to ensure that the whipped cream would stay up during the days it would mellow in the refrigerator.
 
I used two packages of fresh lady fingers from the Stop and Shop. I brewed a cup of Medaglia d’Oro espresso coffee, let it cool and added a generous tablespoon of Marsala wine. I have tried using brandy (Courvoisier) or Kahlua (I think the first time I made it) but Marsala is my favorite because it is light but leaves a lasting impression that seems more Italian to me than the other poseurs.
 
In any case, we tried it tonight and it was a dreamy dessert. I dipped halves of ladyfingers into the cooled coffee in rows of a 8 X 8 pan, layered the whipped mixture on top; did a second row of dipped lady fingers and a top layer of 2 rows, using the fingers up. I then covered the top with the filling and whipped cream. Then sprinkled a nice layer of Hershey’s cocoa through a sieve on top. I inserted 4 toothpicks into the corners and one in the middle so that I could cover it with plastic wrap without mussing the cocoa layer. It needs to chill at least 4-6 hours and it gets even better after two days in the fridge. It usually doesn’t last much longer than that because we end up eating it all!
 
If you’d like to try this elegant dessert, I would strongly advise using a mixer to make the initial Saboyon in a double boiler (I used a glass bowl in two inches of simmering water in a skillet on the stove. It’s the foundation of the filling, and slowly whipping the cream until it’s thick also helps the depth of the filling.
 
It’s truly delicious!

homemade carrot cake for two! . . .

Well, it’s Sunday afternoon – and since there’s no football, baseball, basketball nor golf on TV (except for old games) you might spend the time making a carrot cake for two! Here’s the recipe which is half the Epicurious carrot/orange/raisin cake I’ve been making for decades!

Heat oven to 325. In a mixing bowl, add 3/4 vegetable oil, 1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 large eggs and mix together (I used a portable hand mixer.)

Add 1/2 to 1/3 cup of Navel orange (half an orange) and 1 Tablespoon grated orange peel (same half.)

Then, add 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, salt. Hand grate fresh carrots on large holes side of box grater. 1 and 1/2 cups of grated carrots, and 1/2 cup golden raisins. (FYI, I’ve tried grating the carrots on the Cuisinart, but the carrots become too small and heavy so it sinks to the bottom of the cake, rather than being suspended in the cake batter.)

Bake for about 55 minutes in a square baking pan (see? it’s just for 2-3 people!)

To make quick cream cheese frosting; beat room temp cream cheese and half stick room temp butter – add orange juice (the other half) and zest (ditto) plus some confectioners sugar to your taste. We like it with very little sugar.

When cake has cooled, frost the cake and enjoy it all by yourselves tonight while watching something good on TV or listening to music. ENJOY! Will add a photo of the baked cake when it’s ready! Meanwhile, here’s one with the batter ready to go in the oven.

homemade pea soup with bacon . . .

IMG_0634.jpegHomemade pea soup: made it this morning – it’s a perfect “pantry” soup that tastes really delicious:
a) keep strips of bacon (3-4 together) in the freezer (handy for BLT’s and soups/stews);

b) saute bacon with half chopped Vidalia onion;

c) chop up one very large carrot and add to bacon & onion

d) separately, boil some water and soak a packet of dried green peas and let the peas absorb the water;

e) When plump, add the soaked peas (drained of soaking water) to the pot of browned bacon, onion and carrots. Add filtered water to the pot and add a gelatin capsule of Knorr’s chicken broth.

Cook gently for a couple of hours on simmer. The peas will start to dissolve into the

soup – helped along with a flat wire whip gently mixing the peas into the soup. Serve

when the peas have softened into the soup – could use an immersion blender too, but

not required.

We had this soup with toasted meunster and tomato grilled sandwiches on

homemade bread. Yummy!

King Arthur sandwich bread recipe . . .

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Tried King Arthur Flour’s sandwich bread recipe today: 1 cup warm milk, 2 T. soft butter, packet of yeast, 2 T. Carlisle honey, 1 1/4 teaspoon Maldon salt. 3 cups King Arthur flour. Mixed by pulsing in Cuisinart with dough blade for 5 minutes. 2 risings – last one in a buttered bread pan. 350 degrees for half an hour. And VOILA!

P.S. warmed oven, turned it off and let dough rise in buttered bowl with clean dishtowel on top – leave in 1 hour. Shaped loaf, set in buttered loaf pan; let rise 45 min.  Spectacular!

homemade beef noodle soup for supper. . .

IMG_0616Beef noodle soup for supper tonight! Cut-up beef shin, onions, carrots, broth, Manischewitz thin noodles ~ with leftover buttermilk biscuits and apple crisp for dessert.

 

 

braised roast duckling celebration! . . .

IMG_0525Twenty-Four years ago today, George and I went down the back stairs and drove in the snow to City Hall where we were married by the City Clerk. After we returned, George went out to do a tuning, and I made a wedding supper of roast duckling.

Here’s our anniversary dinner which we enjoyed tonight. I think I’m a better cook than I was then – and these seared duck legs were braised in an ambrosia of shallots, onions, carrots and purple top turnips. The sauce had Madeira sherry added to a little chicken broth along with orange segments.

Alongside, I pan braised some Belgian endive in unsalted butter — and the bitterness

of the vegetable complemented the richness of the orange sauce. Orange marmalade,

a whole navel orange, duck drippings and chicken broth were cooked down for the

sauce, a little cornstarch added at the end.

I have to say that we enjoyed it very much – and for dessert, our downstairs neighbor

brought up some tiramisu that he made — very delicious when we tasted it last night!

So, we’re going on our twenty-fifth year! It’s hard to believe really, but we’re looking

forward to more years to enjoy our life together!

 

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quick mushroom pizza – anytime! . . .

IMG_0401IMG_0414There are all kinds of ways to make pizza. There are electric pizza makers and books on how to make your own yeast pizza dough. We like pizza too and usually order a mushroom pizza with a thin crust from Papa Gino’s, just up the street.

A year ago or so, I saw some wraps at the grocery store and decided to try using them as the “crust” of a homemade pizza pie. Just heat your oven to 425 degrees. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and spray it with vegetable oil (Pam.) Use a pizza sauce of your choice – we like Ragu – and circle some sauce on the wrap, not too much, just to cover the surface of the wrap out to the edges.

Next comes a generous layer of thin grated fresh mozzarella cheese that I sprinkle on by hand. Fresh mushrooms are wiped clean or rinsed and cut into medium size slices. On top of the mushrooms, I hand grate parmesan cheese to cover the mushrooms.

When the oven is hot, place the pizza pie into the oven for about 18 minutes or so until the top is bubbling and golden brown. Take out the pizza and place it on a clean cutting board. Then, with a sharp knife, slice it into 6 pieces.

The entire process takes about 10 minutes to set up the pizza. It usually takes longer than that just for our oven to heat up to 425 degrees. We enjoy this for lunch a couple of times a week as a nice change from sandwiches or soup. Enjoy!

 

 

Chinese winter melon soup! . . .

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Every time that I buy a wedge of fresh winter melon at the Asian market, I give consideration to how to cook it up before it gets neglected in the fridge. It is highly perishable and after it’s cleaned of seeds and the green peel sliced off, it can be sauteed with shitake mushrooms and chicken broth; or cut up and cooked in a classic winter melon soup.

So, today – while watching Nadal and Kyrgios slug it out at the Australian Open on TV, I took out a slab of smoked ham from the freezer and sliced up a three inch square piece of it into strips; made a broth of half chicken broth and half dashi, soaked about 7 dried shitake mushrooms until they were soft – sliced them up and added them along with slices of the winter melon sans the tough green outer skin.

This pot of ambrosia is now simmering on the stove. We’ll have it as a main course for tonight’s supper, along with some broiled teriyaki chicken legs. A cold salad of cucumber slices and wakame seaweed with soy, vinegar and honey should taste good as a contrast to the warm dishes.

Best of all, I’ll freeze whatever leftover winter melon soup there is and we’ll have it anytime we’d like it – and I’ll feel heartened knowing that it has all gone to good use!

 

 

soba noodles with cucumber & wakame. . .

IMG_0329Most of tonight’s supper is already made – I put it together after lunch so the flavors can meld together.

Heated up some boiling water to soak a handful of dried wakame seaweed. It volumes up quite a bit so not that much is needed for a generous serving. While the wakame is soaking, I boiled a half pot of water and added a packet of soba noodles (it comes 3 to a package, and cooked it for five minutes. In the meantime, I seeded and sliced thin strips of fresh cucumber – the regular kind.

When the soba noodles were cooked, I rinsed them in a sieve with cold water and fluffed them up with my fingers so they wouldn’t stick together. In a small bowl, I poured some Ohsawa soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey and sesame oil. I stirred it up and poured it over the wakame and cucumber mixture, mixing it together gently.

Then added the drained cooled soba noodles and added a tiny bit more soy sauce, mixing the entire dish with my hands. I’ll cover it with some plastic wrap and think about what else to cook for supper: maybe some eggplant and sweet potato tempura?