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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Flounder baked in banana leaf

Flounder baked in banana leaf

one small flounder
red pepper finely chopped
1 T. onion finely minced
2 T. butter
1 T capers
1 T minced sage
2 matzos - (I experimented here but you may prefer fine bread crumbs)
1 t seasoned salt -  (I used tony's)
pinch celery salt
pinch garlic black pepper
juice of one lemon

 rub fish with salt and lemon
rub banana leaf with butter to prevent sticking
saute onions, peppers and sage in butter.
season with seasoned salts and pepper
Add capers and crushed matzos.
(Mine was a bit dry - could add liquid or more butter)

place fish on banana leaf and fill with seasoned matzo mixture. Secure leaf with toothpicks or wrap with string. Bank at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. (depending on size of fish)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Venison Stew

2 oz olive oil
1 ¼ lbs cubed venison tenderloin
1 finely chopped onion
2 turnips, peeled and cut into 8 wedges each
4 carrots, peeled and cut 1/3 in length
6 new potatoes
½ tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp sage, chopped
1 tsp ground juniper
¼ cup flour
4 cups beef broth
 ¼ cup Madeira

Heat olive oil in heavy bottom saucepan. Season venison cubes with salt and pepper. Brown in olive oil. Remove.  Brown vegetables in saucepan then add garlic, and herbs. Cook for 2 minutes. Add venison. Sprinkle in flour, coating all contents evenly. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add 4 cups broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer once again. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Add the Madeira, cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Place into large bowls and serve immediately. Should be slightly thickened and very rich.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


4 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 ½  large onion, chopped
5 small eggplants, cubed
6 small bell peppers, coarsely chopped
4 pounds tomatoes, cooked, reduced and pureed (I use medium blade mouli)
1 handfull basil
few sprigs oregano
1 bay laurel leaf

In a 4-quart Dutch oven or saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onions and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add peppers  qne sauté another few minutes. Add eggplant; stir to combine. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep vegetables from sticking.
Add tomatoes and herbs; mix well. Cover and cook over low heat about 15 minutes, or until eggplant is tender but not too soft.
Serves 8.


Prep10 min.
Yield:8 servings .

1 cup water
1 cup fine cracked wheat (bulghar)
1 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
3 tomatoes, diced
3 ounces crumbled feta
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoons sea salt

In a large mixing bowl, pour the water over the cracked wheat and cover, let stand about 20 minutes until wheat is tender and water is absorbed. Add the chopped herbs and vegetables and toss with the mix. Combine the oil, lemon juice, garlic, onion, feta  and salt in a separate bowl. Add to wheat mixture and mix well. Serve chilled


Total Time: 30 min.
Prep10 min.
Yield:8 servings .

1 cup water
1 cup fine cracked wheat
1 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
3 tomatoes, diced
3 ounces crumbled feta
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoons sea salt

In a large mixing bowl, pour the water over the cracked wheat and cover, let stand about 20 minutes until wheat is tender and water is absorbed. Add the chopped herbs and vegetables and toss with the mix. Combine the oil, lemon juice, garlic, onion, feta  and salt in a separate bowl. Add to wheat mixture and mix well. Serve chilled

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Acorn Squash Bread


•2/3 cup all-purpose flour
•1/2  cup whole-wheat flour
•1/2  teaspoon baking powder
•1/4 teaspoon baking soda
•1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•1/4 teaspoon salt
•1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
•1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
•1 cup squash puree, (see below)
•1/2  cup brown sugar
•1/4 cup butter
•2 eggs
1/2 cup crystallized ginger
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
Stir all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, allspice and cloves in a medium bowl until combined.
Beat squash puree, sugar and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in eggs.
Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until combined. Stir in walnuts and ginger. Pour into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake the bread until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Serve warm.

To make your own squash puree, Peel, seed and cut one medium acorn squash. Steam until soft and mash into puree.

Acorn Squash Pie

Yield Makes a very large pie – cooked in oblong baking dish

4 1/2 cups acorn squash puree
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 large eggs
1/2 cup cream
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
Cornmeal Pie Dough

Cut squash (I used 6 large acorn squash) in half lengthwise; remove seeds and peel. Set a steamer rack inside a large pot with 2 inches of simmering water, and steam squash until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain squash and set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Mash soft squash in a large bowl until smooth. Add sugar, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add eggs, 1/2 cup cream. Mix with hand mixer until thoroughly combined. Mix in crystalized ginger.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough. Drape over pie pan. Pour filling into crust and fold edges over filling at edges. Bake on lower rack in oven, and bake for 10 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees. and bake until filling is barely set, 25 to 30 minutes more; it will continue to cook as it cools. Place pie on wire rack to cool. Serve warm.
Yield: Makes a very large pie

Cornmeal Pie Dough

 1 cup all-purpose flour
 1 cup whole wheat flour
 1 cup yellow stoneground cornmeal
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2  eggs, whisked
In large bowl, mix together flours, cornmeal, sugar, and salt. Using your fingers, mix in butter until crumbly. Add eggs and 1/3 cup ice water to flour mixture. Using a fork, mix quickly and lightly. Knead dough lightly in bowl until dough holds together;. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes. 

Acorn Squash Pie in Cornmeal Crust

Thursday, April 21, 2011

No recipes needed today

Fresh green beans and summer squash from the garden -steamed with a little salt and pepper. Follow that with blackberries from the beach - 10 quarts just today.

oh and what to do with all the fresh eggs from the neighbors chickens?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Little Night Reading, A published essay written by Helen Schulman

A Little Night Reading, A published essay  written by Helen Schulman

On a sleepless night at three o’clock in the morning, life can be hard and complicated, the good will of friends and family easily exhausted, novels too long, poetry too dense, television too loud and vulgar. When my demons take hold, what I need most is to escape myself.  And the lease self-destructive way I know is to read cookbooks, alone, at the kitchen table, with an open jar of peanut butter and a spoon. While I’ve always loved eating – who doesn’t? – I’m not much of a cook.  I like to read about food, not make it. Thackeray said, “Next to eating good dinners, a healthy man with a benevolent turn of mind, must like, I think, to read about them.” I’m with him. Cookbooks, I believe, are one of the least sung, most satisfying forms of belles letters.

Like novels, cookbooks can take us places we’ve never been- say, the sultry rice paddies of Southeast Asia, as in The Rice Book by Sri Oven St. Martin’s Press). With this kind of foray, we can explore difference ways of life, just as we might expand ourselves through reading someone else's adventures in a story.
As a child, I would lose myself in my mother’s The New York Times Cook Book (now published by HarperCollins) the way other girls might lose themselves in pulpy romances. I would conjure up images of cocktail parties in opulent apartments, with a lovely array of hors d’oeuvres. Beignets au fromage, pâte beau séjour  – I’d roll the sumptuous words over and over in my head even though I knew no French. I had never tasted these hors d’oeuvres (whenever my parents had friends over for drinks, my mother served chopped liver and eggplant relish on mini- matzos) but I could imagine them, full of cheese and cream and spread prettily out on a tray. I read every page of the Times cookbook while sitting on the humming washing machine in our kitchen, and I wasn’t squeamish about any of it.  Craig Claiborne’s recipe for headcheese – “Have the butcher clean the head removing the snout and reserving the tongue and brains” – only served to arouse my curiosity: What happened to the eyes? I decided back then that as soon as I had my own kitchen, my own money, my own life, I would have a dessert party and serve œufs a la neige, or floating island, a name that conjured up images of sweet clouds of white foam – although to this day it is a dish I have never tasted.
In Joy of Cooking (Scribner) Irma S., Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker present an easy guide to graciousness. But the language has a quirky, stilted elegance.  It is proper by oddly bawdy, the voice of you mythic maiden aunt once she’s gotten into the cooking sherry. In “About Plugged Fruit” Rombauer writes, “We had no luck when, much younger, we plugged a water melon and cautiously tried to impregnate it with rum.” When I read this my mind turns to the picnic at which the watermelon was served - - the beach, the flirting teenagers, the bonfire afterward where those same kids, now slightly drunk, spit black seeds at one another. I don’t know where I get these images – my own teenage beach was in the Bronx where the only impregnation happened in the backseats of Corvettes in the parking lot – but the recipe conjures up a wonderful nostalgia for an experience I’ve never had.

The pleasures of cookbooks are richer than mere vicarious thrills.  By nature, these collections are instructive, and there always comes a time in life when it’s nice to have someone else tell you what to do.  Cookbook authors want you to eat well and happily, they want you to succeed. And they are not afraid to take you by the hand.  This is not to say that they frown on exploration, but if you’re in the mood to seek firm parental guidance, you can easily find it.  Maida Heatter, in her Book of Great Desserts (Random House) , writes, “(I)n order for these recipes to work for you as they do for me, it is of the utmost importance that you follow every direction exactly.  --- In some recipes, such as Benne Seed Wafers, you would encounter disaster without the foil. With it, if you are like me, you will squeal with joy at the ease, fun and satisfying excitement of peeling the foil from the smooth, shiny backs of the cookies.” What’s especially appealing about this paragraph is the infectious certainty of her prescriptions for success.  The person who follows her lead will surely find happiness through an act as simple as baking up a batch.
There is something about the soulful prose of chefs in the trenches that adds meaning to the ordinary. Marcella Hazan, in an argument against the microwave in her Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Knopf), writes, “I believe with my whole heart in the act of cooking, in its smells, in its sounds, in its observable progress on the fire.  The microwave cut(s) off the emotional and physical pleasure deeply rooted in the act, and not even with its swiftest and neatest performance can the push-button wizardry of the device compensate for such a loss.” It’s almost as if Hazan is advising us on how to live, highlighting what we sacrifice when we embrace ease over quality.
 There is an integrity with which cookbook authors approach both he table and the page that is admirable. They thrive on the execution of small details and do not shirk from long and tiring work. I may never make puff pastry, but I will always delight in the step-by-step laid out in Julia Child and Simone Beck’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two (Knopf). The process, as outlined in this magnificent book, takes six or seven hours.  The authors write, “(W)hen you have mastered puff pastry you will find it such a satisfying and splendid accomplishment you will bless yourself for every moment you spent learning its techniques.” What a celebration to the work ethic
The same could be said for the ‘strattu (tomato extract) recipe in Mary Taylor Simeti’s Pomp and Sustenance (originally published by Knopf, now out of print), a book of traditional Sicilian recipes.  “Spread the puree on a wooden tabletop in the sun,” writes Simeti.  “Don a large straw hat, equip yourself with a good book in one hand and a sturdy spatula in the other, and start stirring … continuously for two days, so that the sun can evaporate the water content.” What a wonderful image – the hat, the hours to while away under a hot sun, the refuge of a book – and still the satisfaction of a good deed done.  Perhaps we should all hightail it to Sicily to make ‘strattu.  But even with Italian soil underfoot, it’s hard to imagine summoning the dedication. Two days? There’s no reason why ‘strattu can’t be made on a New York City fire escape. Why haven’t I tried it?

Diving into most cookbooks means retreating from cynicism and irony, escaping from the uncertainty that permeates much of modern life. And where else in this day and age can one find such passionate and sincere prose? At three o’clock In the morning, I don’t have the wit, fortitude or sheer brainpower to attack a dense novel like Infinite Jest.  Instead, on a sleepless, lonely night, I’ll salve my soul by vicariously constructing a croquembouche.

Helen Schulman is a novelist living in Manhattan.

Published in Food & Wine magazine, December, 1996

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fennel Risotto with Dry White Wine and Garlic

Fennel is a sweet vegetable with a subtle aniseed flavour. Team it with dry white wine to add depth and flavour to this simple vegetarian risotto.


Preparation time:  10 mintues

cooking time:        30 minutes

total time:             40 minutes


2 ½ cups hot vegetable stock
4 tbsp butter
1 fennel bulb (about 1 pound),sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 shallots, finely diced
½  cup arborio rice
2 T dry white wine
2 T fennel fronds, chopped


1.       Bring the stock to a simmer in a small saucepan. In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over a medium-high heat. Add the fennel, shallots and garlic and season to taste. Cook for 15 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
2.       Meanwhile, in a medium-sized heavy-based saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over a medium heat.  Add the rice and stir to coat in the oil and butter for 2 minutes. Season with a freshly groung black pepper. Stir in t1 tablespoon of white wine and increase the heat to bring to a gentle boil. When the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, start to add the hot stock, a half cup at a time.
3.      After about 20 minutes the rice should be creamy but still al dente. , Combine with the fennel, the fennel fronds and the remaining wine. Stir and season to taste