Friday, October 30, 2009

Caldo Verde (Porteguese Soup)

Last Tuesday I had planned on making this wonderful soup. It was a drizzly, dreary day...perfect for soup. But the fates conspired against me. First, as I reviewed the recipes and began to check my ingredients, I found that I was out of chicken stock. OK, fine, I'll make some and blog how to cut up a chicken and make the stock. I prep the chicken, grab my camera, and...dead battery. At that point I decided to just make the stock Tuesday and the soup on Wednesday and call it good. And that's what I did. And I am just now getting around to posting the recipe. If you don't like it, reduce my pay. But first make the soup.

For this soup, I combined a couple of recipes from the two new soup cookbooks that I recently acquired, and added a few touches of my own. This is a spicy hearty soup that is guaranteed to stick to your ribs. And be sure to have a good crusty bread to soup up the broth with.


1 lb. chorizo
2-3 TBS. oil, butter or mix of the two
1 onion chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
1 large carrot chopped
3-4 cloves garlic minced or grated
6 cups chicken stock
4 medium red potatoes peeled and diced
1 14 1/2 oz. canned diced tomatoes with juice
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 TBS. tomato paste
1 tsp. ground sage
1/2 half small head cabbage shredded
salt/pepper to taste
1/4 cup parsley chopped

If you purchase already cooked chorizo, sliced it and brown it. If you have uncooked, cook according to package directions and slice. I found Johnsonville chorizo, and it worked great. Remove from pan and set aside.

In a large pot heat the oil and add the onion. Cook for a few minutes and add the celery, carrots and garlic. Cook on medium low for about 10 minutes. Add the sausage and heat for about 5 minutes. Add the stock and the next 5 ingredients. Heat to boiling, cover, and reduce heat to simmer for 1 hour. Add cabbage and salt and pepper. Simmer another 1/2 hour. Add the parsley just before serving. Yum, yum, and yum. Remember what I said about crusty bread.

Notes: This really is a perfect soup for a cold nasty day. It will certainly warm you up. I know this is a soup I am going to make frequently. I hope you will, too. Enjoy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Best-Ever Lemon Meringue Pie

This weekend we celebrated my eldest's son's 35 birthday. Whew! That makes me old. And, yes, Maureen, you and Matt are considered family. We really had a wonderful time with a burrito bar that my second son and his finance put together, a pub type trivia game (that was so fun!), and my hubby's famous pies. He is such a talented piemaker that he really puts me to shame. He made a traditional pumpkin pie and a lemon meringue. I offered to make the pumpkin. I mean, how hard is it to mix the ingredients in a bowl? But, no, he wanted to do both. Do you think he might have a trust issue there? So Saturday morning he was up at the crack of dawn making pies. Do you have any idea how soothing it is to wake up to those aromas? It was as if I had died and gone to heaven.

The recipe that we have used for lemon meringue pie for over 25 years comes from my favorite of the Farm Journal cookbooks, Farm Journal's Best-Ever Recipes. This is the cookbook that started the whole obsession with this series. It was given to us when we were living in a little hamlet in Colorado by my hubby's boss. And it has been one of my go to cookbooks ever since. I have found very few recipes that haven't been absolutely wonderful. So, ta-da, the pie.


1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup water
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 TBS. butter
1 tsp. grated lemon rind
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 baked 9-inch pie shell

Combine 1 1/2 cup, sugar, 1 1/2 cup water and 1/2 tsp. salt in saucepan; heat to boiling. Mix cornstarch and 1/3 cup water to make smooth paste. Gradually add to boiling mixture, stirring constantly. Cook until thick and clear. Remove from heat.

Beat together egg yolks and lemon juice; stir into mixture. Return to heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture bubbles again. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and lemon rind. Cover; cool to lukewarm.

Combine egg white and 1/4 tsp. salt in bowl; beat until frothy. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, beating until glossy peaks form. Stir 2 rounded tablespoons of meringue into lukewarm filling. Pour into pie shell. Top with remaining meringue, spreading evenly.

Bake in 325 degree oven 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Notes: What makes my hubby's pies so scrumptious are his crusts. The secret is not to overwork the dough (which I always do). Hubby works at turbo speed in everything he does, and though this can be a bit irritating at times, it serves him well when making pie crust. And something we stumbled on to by accident, is using whole wheat flour for 1/4 of the flour required for the crust. We really like the results. Enjoy!

This is kind of a P.S. After he had finished the pies a recipe showed up on one of the blogs that I follow for Pumpkin Oat Scones. So I made a batch last night. They are yummy and healthy.
Go check out the recipe! Pumpkin Oat Scones.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Creamy Tomato Soup

Yesterday was long day at the hospital as my hubby underwent the last of the procedures required for a clinical trial of a new cancer drug. Let's just say it was not a fun-filled day. We had to be at the hospital by 6 a.m. and finally arrived back home at 2 p.m. That's when the good part of the day occurred! On my doorstep were the two new (slightly used) cookbooks I had ordered from Amazon's used booksellers. Considering I had just placed the order Sunday and they were already here was amazing! But, anyway, it sure cheered up our day.

The two cookbooks I purchased were The Big Book of Soups & Stews by Maryana Vollstedt and The Best Recipe Soups & Stews by the editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine. I have a method to my madness. I love eating and making good soups and stews. My hubby also loves them...maybe even more than I. My goal is to become accomplished enough in cooking them that I can offer soup and stew cooking classes, basics through advanced, through the community ed and parks and rec programs around here. Good idea, don't ya think? Anyway, both of these books have most of the basics for soup making in them as well as a multitude of recipes. This was also my thinking in registering for a soup cooking class at Sur La Table. Look out soups, here I come.

So, after a rough day of medical yuck, and the weather was rainy and blustery to add to the ickiness, what could be more comforting than tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches? I mean, really, isn't that what your mom made you when you had had a rough day? Only it was soup out of a can, right? And cheese from either the box or unwrapped slices. Well! Not for my honey. He needed excellent grilled cheese and tomato soup.

So I started pawing my way through the two books, combined a bit from both and created, sort of, this yumminess. Now, be forwarned, this much more work than opening a can or, nowadays, a box. But it was so worth the work!


5-6 medium tomatoes
1 26 oz. canned whole tomatoes
1 1/2 TBS. brown sugar
4 TBS. butter
1/4-1/2 finely chopped onion
1 TBS. tomato paste
pinch ground cloves or allspice
2 TBS flour
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. sugar
2 TBS. brandy or dry sherry
Salt to taste

Remove the skin of the fresh tomatoes by immersing in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, then into cold water for a minute or so. Skins should easily slip off. Then slice in half, and remove seeds and core. Place on a foil lined baking sheet. Drain canned tomatoes, saving the juice. Slice these tomatoes in half and remove seeds. Place on baking sheet. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake in 450 degree oven for 40-45 minutes. When they are done, let them cool slightly and remove to a bowl.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the onions, tomato paste and cloves, and cook 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the flour stirring constantly to make a smooth paste. Let cook a few minutes to rid the paste of the flour taste. Slowly stir in the chicken broth, the juice from the tomatoes and the roasted tomatoes. Cover, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Pour the mixture through a strainer into a bowl. I just have a large round strainer with a fine mesh. I aspire to a chinois, but have to wait until my ship comes in.

Pour the tomatoes into a blender and puree until smooth. You may need to add some of the strained liquid to help this process out. I then mashed the puree through the stainer to increase the smooth texture. Pour back into the rinsed out saucepan and add the cream and sugar and heat through. Remove from heat and stir in the sherry and salt to taste. This can be saved for a couple of days in the fridge.

Notes: As I stated, this is a bit of work, but the rewards make it worth it. This is not the overly sweet soup that comes already made. It has a bit more of a tang which my hubby and I decided we liked. A bit more sugar could be added if you like yours sweeter. We also bumped up the traditional grilled cheese sandwiches a bit by making them with muenster and bacon on English muffin bread. After a tough day we were now thoroughly comforted. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cherry Tomato Saute

OK, here's the thing...I don't really care much for vegetables. I mean they are fine in soups, stew, casseroles, anything that has other cool ingredients for the veggies to rub elbows with. But as a stand alone side dish, not so much. Then on my quest for FJ cookbooks, I acquired one with the title Farm Journal's Best-Ever Vegetable Recipes. After perusing the recipes, the thought occurred to me that maybe I just needed more variety in my veggie cooking. What a revelation! So, my first post from that particular FJ cookbook is what my hubby calls a keeper. He told me I couldn't make it too often because he almost couldn't stop himself from devouring the entire bowl.

As I read over the original recipe I felt there were some changes that needed to be made to increase flavor. I exchanged grape tomatoes for the cherry. I also added zucchini and fennel. The original called for fennel seed, but I thought, "What the heck. Let's shoot the moon and use fennel bulb." Pretty brave of me since I have never worked with fennel at all. But ya gotta start somewhere.


2 TBS. butter
2 TBS. olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
2 large cloves garlic grated
1/3 cup chopped fennel bulb
1 medium zucchini thick sliced
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 cup parsley chopped
1/2 to 1 tsp. salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. pepper
grated Parmesan cheese

In a saute pan melt butter with the oil. Add onion and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and fennel and cook another 5 minutes.

Add zucchini and cook and stir until slightly tender. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Reduce heat and cover. Cook for 3-5 minutes until tomatoes are tender, but don't let the skins burst. When serving top with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Notes:This really did have a tremendous amount of flavor. I think the next time I make it I will try more fennel. Since it was a new ingredient I decided to go light, but think it could definitely use a little bumping up. But other than that, it was delish and so easy. So, Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oh, Those Farm Wives

I think in some ways I am a farm girl in a city girl least when it comes to cooking. To me there is nothing more satisfying than a delicious hearty meal that sticks to the ribs, and is made with love and care. It's the kind of food I grew up on. Although I was raised in the city, all housewives seemed to prepare the same type of meals. I am now going to date myself...moms during my childhood were "June Cleaver", usually sans the pearls. Dinners were roasts, fried chicken, pork chops, meat loaf, get the picture. Fast food was just emerging, and was a treat, not a staple. And I don't even remember take out. As a teen, burger places were saved for date night. Now, homecooked meals are saved for special occasions. I find that somewhat sad.

With the kids all grown and out of the house, I miss cooking for a large group. Every now and then, I command them all home so that I can love them with my cooking. My meals are more Paula Deen than Iron Chef, although occasionally I try my hand at something "fancy". I have made Beouf Bourguignon (and that's really just a French stew). But I love good old fashion farm cooking.

That being said, I am rededicating this blog to the farmwives who made the Farm Journal cookbooks possible. And are giving me a plethora of cooking opportunities. Early last summer I started adding to FJ cookbooks to my collection. At this writing I have seven of them. And the majority of my postings will be those recipes. Those recipes that are decidedly dated I will tweak to give them a more updated presence, although I have found some that still are great as written. To be on the safe side, last spring I received permission to use their books as long as I credited them, which I have done in the past and will continue to do so. So, it's all good.

And because I do like making soups and stews, I will be posting those recipes, also. Heck, I have two new soup and stew cookbooks coming, thanks to Amazon used booksellers, and I most definitely have to put them to use.

So stay tuned for some hearty American cuisine that's sure to satisfy your palate and your belly. Isn't that what we all want?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Beefy Mushroom Barley Soup

We are just about into soup weather here in the Pacific Northwest. Soon it will be rain, rain, and more rain..or, as we PNWer's like to refer to it, liquid sunshine. When it's cold and dark and dank out there is nothing more comforting than a warm bowl of goodness. My hubby and I love soup. I try to make it as often as possible. But with only two of us at home these days, it takes us awhile to get through a pot. If, on the days I make soup, you can get here you're welcome to some.

Beefy Mushroom Barley Soup is my hubby's favorite, so it gets made often. We prefer it thick with lots of veggies and barley. I am utterly amazed when I read the back of a package of barley, or read some of the barley soup recipes out there and the recommendation is for 1/4 or 1/3 of a cup. I mean, really? What is the point of putting in the barley if you can't even find it in the soup!? So, I am no slouch when it comes to adding the you will see.


1 lb. stew beef (I had some top round that needed to be used) cut into small cubes
2 TBS. canola or vegetable oil
salt and pepper
1 TBS. butter
1 medium onion chopped
2-3 stalks celery chopped
1 cup sliced baby carrots
1-2 cloves garlic minced or grated
1/2 to 1 lb. cremini mushrooms
1/2 cup red wine
3 qts. beef stock
1 cup barley
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. oregano
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in the bottom of a 6 qt. Dutch oven or soup pot. Season the cubed beef with salt and pepper and c00k in small batches until nicely caramelized. As the beef browns remove to a paper towel and drain.

Add 1 TBS. butter to the drippings. Saute the onion for about 4 or 5 minutes. Add celery, carrots, and garlic. Saute for another 5 minutes. Add in the mushrooms and cook until tender. Then add the wine and the beef and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the stock. OK, here's a confession. Although I make my own chicken stock, I have yet to attempt making beef stock. And I don't like to spend the money on the boxed stocks. Happily, one day in Walmart, I happened on this little gem.

It really makes a nice rich broth. It is a little more spendy than bouillon cubes but more economical than the boxed stocks. I've been very pleased with the results using this product. I added 3 quarts of hot water and once the soup was boiling I added 4 1/2 TBS. of the paste. I stirred for a couple of minutes to make sure it dissolved properly. I then turned to heat to low and let simmer for about an hour.

After the soup has simmered add the barley and spices. Let cook on low for about 1/2 hour or until barley is tender. If it becomes thicker than you like just add a couple of cups of water. Serve with some yummy bread and you have a warm comforting meal on a cool fall day.

Notes:I have tinkered with this recipe for awhile, and this is the best I have come up with. It's filling and flavorful and reheats well...which is a good thing since we will be eating it for a few days! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Broccoli Souffle (And...I'm...Back!)

Yes, I know I have been gone for quite a while. I have reasons, I really do. First, I have an in-home tutoring business (I go to their homes), and summer is my busiest time. Second, when school started and the tutoring dropped off, I was scurrying to find some way to supplement my income. I spent hours running round trying to get paperwork together, fingerprints done, letters of reference from clients, so that I could (shudder) substitute teach. But with the unemployment situation the way it is, I have a suspicion that many other people had the same idea. As of this writing, I have yet to sub. Third, I have been working on a monkey quilt for my grandson. (It's coming along nicely, thank you.) So, I am now finding myself with a little time again, and since cooking and tutoring are my two passions, I turn back to the blog! My goal is to be more consistent in posting. Wish me luck.

This is another recipe from the Farm Journal cookbooks, and my hubby has been after me for months to try it. As I usually do I changed a couple of things. The original recipe called for American cheese. The only excuse I can come up with for that is until the last ten years or so, better cheeses were not readily available at the market. And I remember that when my mother would make a sauce for broccoli or cauliflower she would use Velveeta. At least Velveeta melts nicely...but American? I'm not sure what the thinking was on that one. So I substituted cheddar and Parmesan. Fontina and gueyre would also be delicious in this recipe. Frozen broccoli was also in the original recipe, but I used fresh and first cooked it in my steamer. Make sure it's undercooked.


3 TBS. butter
3 TBS. flour
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp. salt (I use sea salt)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. pepper (fresh ground)
1 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 small heads broccoli slightly cooked and chopped
3 egg yolks, beaten
3 egg whites, stiffly beaten (not meringue stiffness)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in saucepan; stir in flour. Cook this mixture for a few minutes to eliminate excess starchiness. Add milk, salt, garlic powder, and pepper: cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes. Add cheese; stir until melted. Fold in broccoli, onion and egg yolks. Gently fold in egg white. Pour into a buttered (I used a cooking spray) 2-qt. souffle dish. Set in shallow baking pan. Add hot water to pan to 1/2 inch depth. Bake 1 hour or until puffy or do what I did...insert a metal skewer and if it comes out clean it's done.

Notes: My souffle did not rise high and puffy over the top of the dish. I have two thoughts on that. 1. My dish was too big. When I make this again I am going to increase the ingredients. If I am not mistaken, I think the mixture should reach the top of the the dish and mine didn't even come close. But it was still yummy. 2. This had a lot of broccoli in it and that, too, may have inhibited it's rising. I welcome any suggestions as to how to make this more puffy. Hubby thought it was great as is, but I am going to continue to tweak it. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime...Enjoy!