Must Have Noodles

Short Rib Stroganoff

January 20, 2019

There was a time when company to Rob Hurrie’s childhood home meant mom whipping up the 2-cans-of-condensed-soup-ground-beef-bacon-&sour-cream stroganoff.  Chef Rob Hurrie’s deeply-flavorful short-rib rendition builds on his memories of that dish.  “My affinity for rich foods started early,” Hurrie laughs. His update  which we have adapted for the home cook here, is a slow-braise with red wine & sherry, rosemary & thyme, mushrooms & bacon, crème fraiche & truffle oil. For best results, make the short ribs the day (or night) before you plan to serve the dish. And since you like stroganoff? Here’s another, classic versionto try, with the story of the original stroganoff.

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Must Have Noodles

Veal Stroganoff

January 20, 2019

When Count Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov wasn’t busy commanding the Russian infantry in Napoleonic Wars, he feasted: Historians suggest that an early version of the stroganoff the world came to love was served in Stroganov’s family kitchens for a good number of years before it was published in a Russian cookbook in 1871. Continue Reading…

Soup Kitchen

Leek & Potato Soup

January 7, 2019

There is a delicious vegetable soup in this post. But first? Some stories. I don’t know why but I awoke full of them—mostly about my grandfather. Grandpa was a big believer in a vegetable diet, eating large quantities of carrots and beets, celery and onions, turnips and potatoes, green beans and cabbage, most of which he peeled and chopped while sitting on a little handmade wooden perch called his “stropping stool.” 

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Meaty Mainstays

Ancho-Braised Lamb Shanks

January 5, 2019

It’s 12th night tonight! I’m not in baking mode–running about in the sunshine with my boys–so no kings cake,  but tomorrow, will make this wonderful dish in keeping with the Spanish tradition on Epiphany (Reyes) of eating one last feast of the holiday season, including slow-roast lamb. This  “low & slow” fabulosity is a dish you can start in the morning and feast on at dinner.  You’ll put it in the oven with a full gallon of chili-spiked braising liquid which, simmered down for four hours, still leaves plenty to reheat and glaze the shanks for several reprises. Served with little pearls of Israeli couscous, rich gravy & a sauce of preserved lemon, mint, garlic and Greek yogurt, these ancho-spiced shanks make a meal full of bright flavors.

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Holiday Baked Treats

Mincemeat Tarts

December 30, 2018

Among the traditional Holiday foods once beloved, but now maligned, mincemeat sadly ranks up there behind fruitcake. Dating back to the 11th century, mincemeat pie was a holiday food packed (along with the meat, fruit, sugar and spice) with a lot of religious symbolism, . The trio of spices for example–cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, represented the gifts of the Magi. The crust (or casing) was shaped like a cradle (i.e. manger), and topped with an itty-bitty baby Jesus : ) Continue Reading…

Classic Caseroles

Pork Chops with Sauerkraut +Apple Stuffing

December 17, 2018

With three boys, a daughter, and son-in-law coming home for the Holidays, hearty, comforting dishes are in order for those days between festivities. This is a favorite! Linda G. wrote me with memories of her great aunt Caroline, a Chicago career woman who was also a seamstress, cook & baker. The dish Caroline used to make that Linda misses most combined bread, pork chops, sauerkraut and apples—a yummy mix originally celebrated in Southern Germany. Continue Reading…

On The Side

Senator Russell’s Sweet Potato Casserole

November 20, 2018

I’m posting this fabulous dish in honor of my sweet potato lovin’  daughter Emily, who celebrates her birthday today–our family’s kick-off to the holiday season. Enjoy!

Calling down to Georgia’s State Capitol offices and the Culinary History Society of Georgia, nobody could comment on the gustatorial habits of Richard B. Russell, Jr. (1897 – 1971), the famous politician this  much-requested dish is named for. (In case you need a refresher, RBR was in public office for 50 years as a legislator, governor of Georgia and U.S. Senator, was best known as national defense expert, and was proudest of his work advocating for the small farmer and for soil and water conservation. Russell also authored and secured passage of the National School Lunch Program in 1946.) But tracking down this recipe, one thing is sure: Richard Russell had a sweet tooth.  Continue Reading…

Savory Pies

Chicken Under Cover (Best Chicken Pie)

October 31, 2018

Homemade chicken soup may be a comfort for body and soul, but tuck that beautiful stock, chicken and vegetables under cover of a flaky pie crust and you’re going one better! Fabulous hot from the oven, and just as good chilled, sliced and reheated the next day with a bit of cheddar, savory pies are a favorite of mine. My corn pie is a summer wonder. I love curried lamb pie with some silky whipped turnips served alongside. Piquant picadillo empanadas and Louisiana-style Natchitoches porkpies (a recipe I need to put up for you! ) are also so good. The list goes on : )

But for the fall and winter, with family coming home, this is a great dish to have on hand. Continue Reading…

Classic Casseroles

Johnny Marzetti Casserole

September 19, 2018

Johnny Marzetti could very well be America’s best loved and longest standing comfort casserole. A mix of ground meat, tomato sauce, garlic, onion, cheese and noodles, the dish has populated community cookbooks nationwide for decades under the guise of Salmagundi, Hamburger Hotdish, Elbow Goulash—even Irish Monkey (!) But as the story goes, Johnny Marzetti is both the “real” name of this dish, and  one of Columbus, Ohio’s most prominent early businessmen whose brother Joe and sister-in-law Teresa had a restaurant called Marzetti’s. I just wrote a cover story for the food section of the Chicago Tribune on this : ) Please enjoy the story of the men, the myths and the legendary dish–and  do try my version of the dish! Unlike bland community cookbook renditions which often include processed cheese food and canned soup in the mix, my version gets its deep rich flavors from fresh herbs, garlic, a blend of Italian sausage and ground beef, red wine and  the real star: oven roasted and caramelized tomatoes and onions—the best possible way to transform these vegetables into flavor-packed morsels of goodness. Continue Reading…

Baked Treats

Honey Cinnamon Graham Crackers

August 17, 2018

I love stories of positive change. With so much to be depressed about environmentally, it’s  encouraging to spend time with people like Harold Wilken of Janie’s Farm Organics and The Mill at Janie’s Farm in Ashkum, IL. One after another, land owners are coming to Harold with requests that he help them switch to organic farming. One after another, the acres in that bit of Illinois are returning to health, part of a growing grain revolution. And the certified organic grains Wilken and his farmers are stone-ground milling into whole kernel flours are full of living enzymes, germ, endosperm and bran. These flours make delicious breads like those featured at Hewn Bread in Evanston, IL, and got me thinking about a favorite treat of mine: Graham crackers. Continue Reading…