Posts Tagged ‘Family Food’

From Dish Gwen:

I grew up on spaghetti and marinara sauce, and it’s one of the most comforting meals that I make for myself and my family. It’s also something that I make really often, so in order to keep it fresh and interesting I like to play around with the ingredients. This time I used ground lamb, red wine, and classic Italian sausage spices like fennel seed, oregano and sage.

1 lb thin spaghetti, cooked al dente
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ head garlic, diced
½ small white onion, diced
2 lb ground lamb
12 oz can of crushed tomato
2 cups red wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tsp fennel seed
½ tsp red pepper flake
Salt and black pepper to taste

In a large sauce pan, simmer the garlic and onion on medium-high heat. Once they’re lightly browned, add the ground lamb and chop it up with a spoon or spatula so that it separates into small chunks. Add the salt, pepper and other spices and blend it in gently.

Simmer the meat until it browns about half of the meat, then stir in the red wine and tomato. Bring the heat down to low and simmer for 10 or 15 minutes, then serve over a bed of spaghetti. Serves 4.

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From Dish Amelia:

My first solid food was a pickle. I am told that while stopping for lunch on a driving trip with my godmother, my mother went to the bathroom and I reached out for and obtained a pickle. She returned and to her horror I was gnawing on it, toothless wonder that I was, and my godmother shrugged. I’ll be 30 in few days and have been doing the kind of stock-taking (not stock making) that I tend to do around the birthdays. I also found out just this week that my great-great-great grandfather was born in Warsaw and is buried in Greenwood cemetery right here in Brooklyn. And coincidentally, perhaps, I’ve made this pickle soup. Pickle soup sounds weird and gross, but its not. This one is kind of based on a recipe from a beautiful Polish cookbook called Rose Petal Jam and they call it cucumber soup. Really, its a brothy soup with lots of vegetables and some salt brined (not vinegar-brined) half sour pickled cucumbers grated into it, for a subtly sour, satisfying and refreshing soup. It’s called Zupa Ogorkowa. (Pr. “Oh-gor-koh-vuh”). I’ve made it twice, but I think it might have already been in my DNA.

1-2 qts chicken stock, (box or homemade)
2 parsnips, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
a few stalks of celery, chopped
a 6 inch piece of smoked kielbasa, chopped (optional)
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
4 (brine pickled not vinegar pickled) pickles, half sour or sour, grated
1/3 cup or more of sour cream
1 bunch dill
s&p to taste
chopped green chile (optional)

If you are using kielbasa, fry it for a long time in olive oil with the onion and bay leaf. Add the parsnip and the carrot and cover with stock and water. When it comes to a boil add the celery and potatoes. When the potatoes are tender, take out some of the stock in a pyrex measuring cup and whisk in the sour cream, then add it all back to the soup. Add the ogorki (pickles) and a bit of green chile, if you like. Makes about four quarts.

Sprinkle fresh dill on top to serve.

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From Dish Jodi:

I’m not Jewish. I’m not anything really. But I married a Jew and feel it is my duty to take on the culinary duties of a Jewish Wife. I mean, most Jewish holidays revolve around food, what is not to like? We are assigned the Matzo Ball Soup for our friends’ seder every year. But that’s not a very exciting recipe – chicken stock, lots of herbs and veggies, and balls made theperfectsize using Manischewitz Matzo Mix.
What’s exciting is transforming Matzo into crunchy sweet candy. Oh yeah.

1 C Butter
1 C Packed Brown Sugar
A Big Pinch of Sea Salt
A Small Bloop of Vanilla
Enough Matzo to cover an 11×17 rimmed baking sheet in a single layer
1 C Chocolate Chips
Foil (you will hate yourself if you don’t use foil)
Preheat oven to 350. Cover Bottom and sides of baking sheet with foil. Fill the sheet with Matzo in a single layer, you may have to break some pieces up.

Bring butter and sugar to boil in a heavy sauce pan. Boil for about 3 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt.

Immediately pour over the pan of matzo and spread with a spatula if needed until it’s all covered in a thin layer.

Place pan in oven for about 15 minutes, rotating often and turning down heat a little (or removing for a few secs) if it starts to burn.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Let the chips sit on the hot candy for 5 minutes, then using an offset spatula, spread them over the whole shebang.

Let it cool completely then break into finger-friendly pieces. Store in an airtight container.

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From Dish Erin:

One of the first dishes I ever truly appreciated as a kid was chicken courdon bleu. Don’t get me wrong, I liked many things (hot dogs, kraft mac-n-cheese, beets[?!]) but I remember getting really excited when my mom would make chicken cordon bleu because though it was so simple (ham, cheese, chicken), the presentation of it ‘wowed’ me. It was my first gastronomic a-ha moment. For some reason the fact that the highlight of the dish was inside the chicken was totally exotic to me. What can I say? I’m generally pleased when my meal contains a surprise. There was one time where my Dad made a meatloaf with a hardboiled egg inside it (apparently this is a real thing, corroborated by one Nigella Lawson) and that was not a good surprise. Though it captured my imagination from a technical perspective, it did not stand up to my beloved cordon bleu. Also, it was kind of gross.

Fast forward to present day, I love a good stuffed chicken. And this is my take on chicken stuffed with cheese and ham.

Also, if you’re feeling a little too skinny, like you need to put on a few lbs for the winter, this is a great recipe for you.

You’ll need:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the filling:
2-3 slices bacon or pancetta, diced
1 heaping handful of baby spinach
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
Salt & Freshly ground pepper

For the sauce:
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
chopped fresh tarragon

In a deep saucepan, heat diced bacon over medium heat until cooked through/on its way to crispy.

While the bacon is cooking, place each chicken breast between plastic wrap, and pound to an even 1/4-inch thickness with a meat-pounder.

Add spinach and garlic to the pan and stir to coat with bacon grease until spinach is wilted and garlic is fragrant. At this point you will be thinking, “Damn, this smells delicious.”

Remove everything from pan and place in a small bowl. You can keep the flame on because you’re going to put the chicken back in there in just a moment. In the small bowl with the spinach, garlic, and bacon, add the ricotta cheese and black pepper. Stir to incorporate well and put a heaping tablespoon of that cheesy delight mixture in the center of each chicken breast. Fold the bottom edge of each breast over the stuffing, fold in the sides, and roll forward until completely wrapped, to form a tight rolled package. Secure each flap with a toothpick. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place chicken rolls back into heated pan and cook, covered, for about 4 minutes. Flip to other side (gently) with tongs and cook another 4 minutes or so, covered.

Add the white wine, juice of one lemon, mustard and tarragon to the pan, stir to combine and cook another 2 minutes until the wine has rendered, the sauce has fully mixed and is beginning to thicken just slightly.

Serve over mashed potatoes (I made half mashed potatoes half mashed carrots to spice it up) and use the extra sauce as a gravy.

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From Dish Nicole:

The holidays are in full effect and my kitchen has been churning out sweet treats and savory dishes nonstop. Recently my boyfriend and I had a housewarming party and we wanted to plan a menu that was easy to make and easy to eat while socializing. We decided to take a cue from Zeke’s grandmother who has made hosting and cooking an art form. Zeke’s grandmother (Jeri Laber) and her pal published a cookbook called Cooking for Carefree Weekends in 1974.

This cookbook was created for the sole purpose of making great food that isn’t too demanding of the host so s/he can enjoy visiting with guests rather than slaving away in the kitchen. Zeke knew right away that he wanted us to make the sweet and sour meatball recipe, a childhood favorite. After a previous attempt, we were informed that although the recipe in the book calls for either fresh ginger or a dozen ginger snaps crushed up, the only real way to make these meatballs is to add the ginger snaps. So here is what you need:

For the Sauce:
4 cups beef broth
1 medium onion, diced
2 tbs flour
4 tbs butter
A dozen ginger snaps crushed
½ cup brown sugar
¾ cup currants
1/3 cup red wine vinegar, juice or wine (I use vinegar)
The juice and zest of one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

For the meatballs:
3 lbs ground beef
2 eggs
½ cup bread crumbs
1 medium onion finely diced
Several generous pours of Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper

To start, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is preheating, melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Once melted, add in the onion and cook until it starts to soften. Next add in the flour and gradually pour in the beef broth and stir until dissolved. Keep stirring over low heat and the sauce will start to thicken. Add the rest of the ingredients: ginger snaps, brown sugar, currants, vinegar, lemon juice & zest, and salt and pepper as needed. Turn the heat to low and stir occasionally while making the meatballs. The recipe says you can add more brown sugar or vinegar to get to the proper balance of sweet and sour at this point.

For the meatball, you will need a large bowl and 2 greased baking pans. Knead all of the ingredients together in the bowl until everything is mixed evenly. Start rolling the meatballs by hand into the size of walnuts. Once the meatballs are all made, place on the greased pans and cook in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until they are cooked through. Transfer the cooked meatballs into the sauce and cook them for an additional 20 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally.

The best part about these meatballs is that once they are made you can serve them a number of different ways. For our party we served them as-is, for more of a casual vibe. The cookbook recommends serving them over buttered egg noodles for a complete meal. Jeri and Molly sure knew what they were doing when they added this recipe to the book. It has withstood the test of time and has made many of our guests very happy.
Happy Holidays!

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From Dish Rachelle:

Hanukkah’s coming up next week. My family has some wonderful candle-lighting traditions – my Dad puts a napkin on his head to say the prayers (dubbed a “napkina”), we all hug and kiss after the candles are lit, and everyone points to me when we recite the words “ner SHEL hanukkah”. Though we pass around hanukkah gelt and give the dreidal a perfunctory spin, I don’t remember ever making latkes together. The Boy’s family, however, has an ironclad latke tradition. Every year, the week before Christmas, family and friends gather at his aunt’s house in the Hudson Valley for a latke party, complete with latkes for all types: those who eat onions and those who don’t, and latkes for vegans who don’t eat eggs. There’s some friendly competition over who makes the best ones, and the night ends with a communal candle lighting ceremony.

Given that we’re getting married in a little over a month, I thought it was high time that my Spicy Side shared his latke making secrets, which I’m passing along to readers of SLD.

A note on the recipe: like most family recipes, Jewish ones tend to be unspecific: add a little bit of this and a little bit of that. This one is no different. Latkes are not an exact science – nor are potatoes very sensitive – so feel free to tweak and experiment.

This recipe makes 9 latkes: double (or triple) according to the size of your latke party.

3 baking potatoes
½ medium yellow or white onion
2 eggs
¼ cup matzoh meal

In a food processor – or by hand if you’re feeling martyrish – grate your potatoes and onion. Mix them together in a large bowl, and then crack 2 eggs over the mixture and stir until white and yolks are combined. There should be enough liquid in the bowl so that when you push the potatoes and onions to the side, you’ll see a small pool. Sprinkle the matzoh meal over and stir in. Season with pepper – reserve salt until the end so the potatoes will crisp up in the frying pan – and let sit, covered, for about 15 minutes, so that the matzoh meal softens.

It’s traditional to serve latkes with something sweet, and the Boy and I did a stovetop “baked” apple: we chopped two apples into large cubes, leaving the skin on one of them, and then let them simmer, covered, with some apple cider in a small saucepan until they were almost carmelized.

Once your latke mix is ready, fill a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan with about a ¼ inch of vegetable oil and let it get hot. Form palm-sized latkes with your hands, and drop them in the pan a few at a time, so that they have room to breathe. We started with a tester, which became a snack as we finished frying the latkes.

Cook the latkes on one side, until the edges start to brown, then flip. If your latkes are cooking too quickly and burning, adjust the temperature, and if you run out of oil, add more. When they reach that golden, mouthwatering, color, they’re finished.

Have a landing tray covered with paper towel ready, and sprinkle both sides with salt immediately after removing them from heat.

We served our latkes with apples, as well as sauteed brussels sprouts and braised red cabbage (another Hebraic favorite). Because vegetables TOTALLY counterbalance having fried food for dinner.

Happy Hanukkah, everyone!

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From Dish Jodi:

I missed last month’s post because of a quick last minute trip to Panama City. My blonde, blue-eyed husband is half-Panamanian. His mother moved to the US as a child, and he still has tons of cousins, aunts, uncles and once, twice, three times-removed family members there. Everyone I met was related in some way. Connie Fidanque, a cousin, also has blue eyes and light hair, and was introduced to me as the best cook and baker in the country. My mother-in-law made sure I left with a copy of “Ami Manera – Recitas para mi Familia y Amigos”, the beautiful cookbook Connie’s children published for her.

As everyone — knowing my love of baking — made sure to tell me, this chocolate cake is famous. Always the hottest raffle item at charity functions and requested for every event. And man, I can see why. Not too sweet, it’s one of the richest chocolate cakes I’ve ever eaten. While it’s not really a “panamanian” food (but we head back soon, so stay tuned for some of those), I had to try this famous cake. And with holiday party season upon us, I could bring it to a party and not have to eat it all ourselves. Translated from Spanish, here ya go:

For the Cake:
8 oz Butter, at room temperature
2 Cups Sugar
6 eggs
2 1/2 C Flour
1/2 C Cocoa
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 C milk
2 tsp vanilla

For the Frosting:
16 oz Butter, at room temperature
2 Ib powdered sugar
4 heaping tbsps of instant coffee diluted in 2/3 cup of water
2 C cocoa

For the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs, one by one until combined. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, alternating with the milk and vanilla. Pour into three greased and floured 9″ cake tins. bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool before unmolding the layers.

For the frosting:
With a mixer, cream the butter for a minute or so, and slowly add powdered sugar alternately with coffee. Add the cocoa and beat at high speed for about 5 minutes more.

To assemble:
Slice the cake layers in half to make four layers. Put the bottom layer on your cake (I like to put wax paper squares underneath, frost it, then slide them out, leaving a clean plate!) and put a big glop (about 1/8 of your batch) on the layer, and spread evenly to the edges. Put another layer carefully on top and do the same with the frosting. After you’ve stacked all the layers with frosting, frost the top. (won’t go into to detail on that here, luckily, this is a very “rustic” looking frosting, so it’s forgiving of mistakes.)

Eat, with a glass of milk, or glass of champagne. It’s rich, you’ll need it!

Happy Holidays everyone!

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