Brunch Bunch

Classic Fresh Blueberry or Apricot Coffeecake Ring with Icing & Almonds on Top

April 13, 2017

Last time I chatted with longtime Minnesota State Fair “Supreme Ruler of the Kitchen,” Elaine Janas, the topic at hand was coffeecake. During that summer conversation, Elaine shared the recipe for her old-fashioned, yeast-raised coffee cake with apricot filling. Fast-forward to a week ago. With brunch guests coming, I decided to bake Elaine’s cake.  All was perking along nicely, dough rising on the counter, etc., until I discovered we were out of apricots (!) Phooey. But I did have three cups of fresh blueberries hanging around…so…I used Elaine’s recipe for the yeast cake and created my own blueberry filling to go with it. I think Elaine would approve: at 84, she’s still an innovator. Here then is the blueberry version, and, Elaine’s original apricot version. Continue Reading…

Seafood Stylings

Sizzling Salmon with Lemongrass & Tamarind

April 5, 2017

Pan-steaming fish over aromatics and then sizzling it with hot garlic oil is an old Cantonese cooking method…..the tamarind, ginger, lemongrass and lime adds Southeast-Asian zing– a lovely thing.  I have had this recipe on a tattered card for more than 25 years with tweaks and notations all marked. I crave this dish. You will too–make extra, you will want it. Continue Reading…

Southern Stylings

Jambalaya

February 28, 2017

I’ve had many requests for a good home-cook version of jambalaya, and this is that. Like the dish itself,  a mix of Spanish and French ingredients with African thrown in by way of the Louisiana bayou, the word jambalaya derives from Provencal for “mish-mash”.  But I love that the Atakapa–a native American people who lived in the river valleys of Louisiana along the Gulf of Mexico–had a phrase: “Sham, pal ha! Ya!” which meant “Be full, not skinny! Eat Up!” that etymologysts say Spaniards changed to “jambalaia.”  The dish includes a Cajun or Creole version of the Spanish sofrito (tomatoes, garlic, oil and onions) at its base, along with spices, seafood, sausage, sometimes poultry and always rice. What’s atypical about it is we’ve cooked the rice separately to preserve the fluffiness of the grains, and, to allow diners to choose how much of the beautiful stew to top it with. Continue Reading…

Soup Kitchen

New England Clam Chowder (James Cagney’s)

February 16, 2017

As long as there have been celebrities, there have been fans obsessed with them. The minutiae of their lives…where they live, where they sleep, who they sleep with…and of course? What they eat. The gustatory habits of film stars, rock stars, dancers, singers….all have been subject matter for newspaper columns, magazine features and loads and loads of books. In 1958, James Cagney went on the record with his recipe for chowder. It’s pretty darn good! Continue Reading…

Pie Revival

Curried Lamb & Potato Pie

February 4, 2017

Sure, sugar pies are good, but a sturdy savory pie in midwinter is heaven. In response to a reader request, I put this curried lamb and potato pie together using minced lamb, fresh green beans, lots of garlic, curry & cumin, topping each slice with a little bulgarian yogurt and minced preserved lemon. Continue Reading…

Pasta & Veg

Pasta Shells with Roasted Vegetables (Maggiano’s Original Recipe)

January 29, 2017

It’s a thing: Thriving restaurant concepts refresh and update menus often, sometimes eliminating dishes from menus that might have been somebody’s favorite. That’s what happened to reader Carolyn D. She and her family loved a Maggiano’s dish called “Shells with Roasted Vegetables,”–a flavorful blend of roasted vegetables, basil pesto and Parmigiano Reggiano broth made with parmigiano rinds– that was replaced on the menu by a different version of the dish, years ago. Continue Reading…

Meal in a Kettle

Meaty Baked Beans (North Carolina Cassoulet)

January 17, 2017

Born and raised in London and cooking by the time he was 14, chef Tom Condron of The Liberty  in Charlotte, N.C., has worked under eight Michelin-starred chefs. That gives these “meaty baked beans” a pedigree–they’re really a North Carolina cassoulet. Put the kettle on early in the morning on a rainy day to start the ham stock and by suppertime, you’ll have this rich, meaty stew ready. Continue Reading…

On The Side

Boston Baked Beans & Brown Bread

December 30, 2016

Despite the unfortunate  Phaseolus vulgaris moniker—the American Common Bean category includes bunches of beloved, native-to-the-Americas beans: navy, red kidney, pinto, great northern, marrow, & yellow eye, plus garden variety edible-pod beans (string, stringless and snap.) It’s not clear which of these the New England colonists first stewed in a pot, but we do know baked navy beans started with Native Americans. The Narragansett, Penobscot, and Iroiquois wrapped navy beans in deerskins—or put them in earthenware pots, along with venison, bear fat and maple syrup and then baked the lot in hot-stone-lined pits. Puritans eschewed the deerskins, but took to bean-pot cookery because the long, slow cook times meant housewives could prepare the beans a day ahead, and in so doing, stick to Puritanical no-cooking-on-Sabbath rules.

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Bread Box

Date Nut Bread Baked in a Can

December 29, 2016

Because the result is so moist, baking and/or steaming bread in cans is an old-fashioned tradition people still ask about. Initially, two readers–Sandra S. and Mary S.– requested this recipe they remembered seeing in the ChicagoTribune 47 years ago, and more requests have showed up since. We’ve adapted the recipe to include instructions from an earlier, 1953 recipe that suggests covering the tops of the cans with a greased baking sheet. Continue Reading…

Cookie Kitchen

Gingerbread Cookies

December 23, 2016

My boys love gingerbread–the dark rich flavor of the cookie, and, the poses they can bend and flex the classic-cookie-guys arms and legs before baking. Lately, I’ve been baking gingerbread forests for the gingerbread boys to wander in, too. Continue Reading…