Sunday, January 25, 2015

Whipped Winter Squash

Serving Bowl of Whipped Butternut Squash
Simple Comfort Food

Recipe adapted from Recipes from the Root Cellar


I hope you have had as quiet and contemplative a month as I have. After lots of socializing and baking during the holiday season, I’ve been quite lazy. True that I started a weight-lifting program and have been reading a lot. But in the kitchen, less has been more. Hence this super-simple recipe for an elegant winter side dish that requires few ingredients and little effort. If you’re really lazy, like I am, you can spread the prep over two days by cooking the squash one night and whipping it up the next. Vary the ingredients as you like, and don’t even measure if you’re really lazy (fewer dishes to wash). A splash of this, a dollop of that will do the trick.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Turkey, Apple, and Basil Sausage Burgers

Sausage Burger with Green Beans
Basil, Apple, Sweet Onion and Spices Compliment Meat

Recipe adapted from Smart Cooking the Costco Way


Happy 2015! During the final weeks of 2014 we enjoyed unseasonably warm weather in California. Our garden basil continued to produce strongly flavored if somewhat peaked-looking leaves. Right before the first cold snap, I harvested the remaining leaves and wanted to use them in a seasonal recipe for an oddly warm December. I found this recipe for mini-burgers in a book left over from our library’s book sale, which I purchased for just a buck. Right now you can purchase this cookbook, which has a surprising number of intriguing recipes, for $.01 (ten times less than I paid) at Amazon. I didn’t need another cookbook, but finding this wonderfully unusual combination of basil and sweet apple in a deliciously spiced burger was well worth my impulse buy.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Cloud Cake

Slices of Chocolate Cloud Cake
Leftover Cake, But Not for Long

Recipe from Classic Home Desserts


As the year winds down to the solstice, dark days and long nights are upon us. What better time to bake a deep, dark, dense, chocolaty cake? And to keep the light alive during this annual time of darkness, how about adding a thick layer of whipped cream on top? If only this cake had lasted longer at a recent potluck, I could have gotten better photographs of it. But the combination of dark chocolate and light cream is irresistible. The cake itself is lighter in texture than some flourless cakes; the eggs make it rise and stay moist inside, and form a thin chewy (and chocolaty) crust on top. It’s no wonder that Richard Sax features this cake on the cover of his Classic Home Desserts: A Treasury of Heirloom and Contemporary Recipes, the best-ever dessert cookbook.

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.