Sunday, December 14, 2014

Persimmon Walnut Bars with Browned Butter Frosting

Plate of Frosted Persimmon Date Bars
Perfect for Holiday Sharing
Recipe adapted from old magazine clipping


When it comes to desserts, old school is often the best. At least that’s what I hear whenever I bring an old fashioned treat somewhere to share. This recipe came from Bruce’s parents’ recipe collection. Back in the 70s, most cooks kept a small metal box full of index cards with recipes written or glued onto them. This recipe came from just such a box. Although not terribly practical—since these boxes are small, most contain folded-up recipes that didn’t fit—these little boxes give us a glimpse back into the past, especially when they’re filled with tried and true family recipes. This recipe is more like a moist spice cake than a chewy bar cookie. The browned butter frosting has gone out of fashion, but its exquisite yet simple flavor makes it a delicious and unexpected addition to modern holiday baking.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Moroccan Butternut Squash Soup

Bowl of Garnished Moroccan Soup
Swirled with Spicy Oil, Topped with Raisins and Cilantro

Recipe by Melinda’s friend


I love everything about my new job, even the fact that it cuts down on the amount of time that I have for blogging. What better job for a writer than library aide: juggling books, lifting, shelving, pushing carts, reaching, bending and generally getting off one’s duff and away from the screen? Also, there’s constant exposure to great (and not so great) literature for inspiration. Even better, Melinda, my new coworker, is cheerful, smart, and an amazing cook. Her version of butternut soup has a spicy kick to it, along with chunky interest provided by chickpeas, bell peppers, and not-pulverized butternut. The spicy olive oil and golden raising garnishes add yet more flavor. Since my husband is ho-hum about any super-smooth, creamy, bland soup, this kicked-up, texture-rich squash soup became an instant family favorite at my house.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Turkey and Veggie Meatloaf

Carrots, Celery, Onion, Green Onion, Garlic, Red Bell Pepper
Turkey Loaf Requires a Variety of Fall Veggies

Recipe adapted from The Cooking Decade


It’s that turkey time of year here in the US, and the colder weather makes me crave more comfort foods. Yet, it would be smartest not to gain weight before December’s usual slide into decadence. This spinoff from classic beef-and-onion meatloaf is chock full of healthful veggies and lower-fat ground turkey. My sister clipped this recipe from an unknown source many years ago. She presented it to me in a binder of family favorite recipes a few years back. She claimed to be starting her second “non-cooking decade,” and since I was just starting to cook family recipes, she dubbed this binder “The Cooking Decade.” Her kids loved eating this turkey loaf while they were growing up, and so will yours. Turkey Veggie Loaf is perfect for this time of year because it's hearty enough to stand up to cold weather and also takes advantage of the last of this  year's red pepper harvest. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Eve’s Pudding

Eve's  Pudding
Eve's Pudding: Apples and Victoria Sponge

Recipe Adapted from Mrs. Beeton’s Cookbook


My traveler friends warned me about this. After spending a month in the UK, American foods just don’t seem right. I miss the crispy sausage rolls sold on London streets, the soothing Lancashire hotpots served by my cousin, the fresh scones with real clotted cream, and the many delicious puddings (desserts). Inspired to create, I searched a very old edition of Mrs. Beeton’s Family Cookbook and discovered Eve’s Pudding. It’s a light Victoria sponge cake baked atop gently seasoned stewed apples. The “Eve” moniker is apparently a reference to temptation by apple.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Vegetarian Pepperpot

Bowl of Vegetarian Pepperpot
Colorful and Comforting

Recipe Adapted from Live Earth Farm


After a month in the UK, I’ve returned to California, where it’s suddenly autumn. Shorter days, yellow leaves, and pumpkins in the market are sure signs. Though I seriously miss the delicious UK foods, I’m jumping back into US cuisine with the compellingly named Pepperpot soup. Traditionally, Amish folk prepared Pepperpot with tripe. I’ve never prepared tripe, and most likely never will. Luckily, our CSA recipe maven Rebecca Mastoris sent us a vegan option in a recent newsletter. I’ve doubled the amount of veggies to make a thicker, heartier soup (and to use more of our CSA share veggies), and have adjusted the spicing. The result is a warming, well-spiced bowl filled with early fall veggies. What a delightful American way to welcome the new season!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Seasonal Greetings from the UK

newgate market sign
Newgate Market on Wednesday
I've been visiting England and Wales this month; hence the scarcity of recent posts. While in York the other day, my husband and I enjoyed perusing Newgate Market. All sorts of handcrafted goodies are available at the Market along with fresh veggies, eggs, fish, flowers, and baked goods. Readers might like to join us on a visual journey by viewing a few market highlights. I've been gathering cuisine and recipe ideas in England as well, to be subjects for future posts. Summer has turned to fall, and signs of autumn are everywhere, including the market. Enjoy the change and the newly ripe fall produce.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Summer Squash with Lemon Herb Butter

Two kind of summer squash, basil, parsley, capers, and shallot
Simple Summery Ingredients

Recipe inspired by Vicky and Live Earth Farm


If I had to pick only one vegetable to enjoy for the rest of my life, I’d choose summer squash. Of course, that’s cheating because with the near-infinite varieties of summer squash available, that’s hardly just one veggie. Summer squash colors, from palest yellow through golden through spring green to deepest emerald, delight the eye, particularly when prepared in combination. I’m a big fan of plain steamed squash, but recently rediscovered herb butters when my friend Vicky graced me with her back issues of Herb Companion magazine (now sadly defunct). Then a quick look through our CSA’s recipe index revealed a recipe for Lemon Caper Squash, which gets a flavor boost from herb butter. Now is the perfect time to harvest both squash and herbs from your garden, or find them at your local Farmers’ Market. The season for both will soon be past, so let’s revel in them while we can.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Classic Caprese Salad

Circular Salad Viewed from Overhead
Caprese Eye-Candy

Recipe by Robin


Few salads are as attractive as Caprese salad when compared with the amount of work needed for their creation. Caprese’s bold colors, reminiscent of the Italian flag, appeal to the eye as the simple combination of basil, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella appeals to the tastebuds. Though home chefs will be hard pressed to match the restaurant version with cheese and tomato slices exactly matching in diameter and thickness and perfect tiny basil leaves, the home-based result is plenty appealing when carefully arranged. Garden basil prepared chiffonade-style and sprinkled over the top fools the eye into thinking that the tomato and cheese slices match more perfectly.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Strawberry Apricot Pizza or Pizzettes

Pizza with Mozzarella, Ricotta, Strawberries, and Apricots
Fabulous Fruit Pizza

Recipe adapted from Rebecca Mastoris


With the ancient grain festival of Lammas (Lughnasadh) just past us on August 1, traditionalists are thinking of homemade breads. And yet, traditional breads require long preparation time and extended use of a hot oven—not really the thing for August. Enter the pizza, America’s near-favorite bread (just behind hamburger buns, go figure). And what more seasonal way to celebrate grains than pairing the pizza crust with plentiful summer fruits and young cheeses? This recipe will make two 12-inch pizzas or 6-8 small “pizzettes.” Throw an informal pizzette party by inviting family or friends to roll their own dough, then arrange the apricots, strawberries, cheeses, and garnishes on their food creation. Pop them into the oven for about 10 minutes and enjoy for a mid-afternoon treat, or for a fun lunch or dinner.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Plum Galette

Slice of Plum Galette with Whipped Cream
Sunny Summertime Fare

Recipe by Robin


As readers know, I’m not a piecrust expert, but summertime fruit is an excellent motivator for experimenting with pie-making. Galettes, also known as one-roll pies, have crust edges turned up to cradle fresh fruit and are made on baking sheets. Their informal appearance is perfect on for summer. Treat yourself to a galette after a hot day by preparing and chilling the piecrust during the day. In the evening when it’s cooler, roll out the crust, fill the pie, and bake for just 20 – 30 minutes. Cool slightly, slide onto a serving platter, and enjoy!