Curried Cauliflower & Potato Soup

Roasting the cauliflower first adds depth. Some tomato and coconut milk give the broth a rich, silky texture.
Makes about 3 quarts
Shopping List

2 tsp coriander

2 tsp cumin

11/2 tsp cinnamon

11/4 tsp turmeric

pinch cayenne pepper

1 small head cauliflower

2 TBL olive oil

1 large onion

1-2 carrots (for 1 cup diced)

3 large cloves garlic

11/2 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 tsp red chile pepper flakes

1 (14-16 ounce) can whole tomatoes, or no-salt tomato sauce

4 cups vegetable broth

2-4 russet potatoes (3 cups diced)

2-4 sweet potatoes (3 cups diced)

1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk

1 large lime

1 bunch cilantro

Preheat oven to 450ºF.

In a small bowl, combine

  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 11/2 cinnamon
  • 11/4 tsp turmeric
  • 11/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper

In a large bowl, toss

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets (about 6 cups)
  • 1 TBL olive oil

Sprinkle with 1 TBL of the spice mixture and toss again. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the cauliflower until the edges are browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large pot heat the remaining

  • 1 TBL olive oil

over medium-high heat. Add

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup diced carrot

and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook a few minutes more, stirring often, until the onion is soft. Add

  • 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 11/2 tsp grated (or minced) fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp red chile pepper flakes
  • the remaining spice mixture

Cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.

Stir in

  • 1 (14-16 ounce) can whole tomatoes, or no-salt tomato sauce

scraping up any browned bits and breaking up the tomatoes, and simmer for 1 minute. Add

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups diced peeled russet potatoes (1/2-inch)
  • 3 cups diced peeled sweet potatoes (1/2-inch)
  • 2 tsp lime zest
  • 2 TBL lime juice

Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, partially cover and stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 35 to 40 minutes.

Stir in

  • 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
  • the reserved roasted cauliflower

Return to a simmer to heat through. Serve garnished with cilantro.

Hazelnut Sticks

Crunchy with a strong hazelnut flavor. And they're easy: the nuts don't have to be toasted or skinned.
Makes about 40 cookies
Shopping List

2/3 cup raw hazelnuts

11/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

scant 1/2 cup sugar

6 TBL unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

Line the bottom and sides of a 9×5 loaf pan with foil. (See note at the end of these directions for how to do this painlessly.)

In a food processor, combine

  • 2/3 cup raw hazelnuts (with skins still on them)
  • 11/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • scant 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Pulse until the hazelnuts are finely chopped. Cut

  • 6 TBL cold unsalted butter

into 1/2-inch cubes, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Combine

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 TBL cold water

and drizzle into the processor bowl. Pulse just until the mixture resembles damp crumbs – it shouldn’t be a smooth mass, but it should stick together when pressed. Dump the mixture into the lined loaf pan and spread it evenly. Press it very firmly and compactly. Fold the foil over the dough and wrap it tightly. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Grease two cookie sheets.

Unwrap the dough and transfer it to a cutting board. Use a long sharp knife to cut the dough crosswise into 1/4-inch (or thinner if possible) slices. Use the knife to transfer each slice to the greased cookie sheets, placing the slices 1 inch apart. The slices will be fragile and require the support of the knife in transit.

Bake for 12 to 18 minutes, until the cookies are golden with golden brown edges. Rotate top to bottom and front to back halfway through for even baking. With a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a rack to cool. May be kept in an airtight container for several days.

Variation: Almond Sticks

I just substituted 2/3 cup raw almonds for the hazelnuts. But I didn’t think the almond flavor was strong enough; next time, I’m going to use almond extract in place of the vanilla, or half almond/half vanilla.

NOTE: ATTN To line pan with foil: Invert the pan, cover it with a piece of foil 4 inches longer and wider than the bottom of the pan, and with your hands press down on the foil around the sides and the corners to shape it like the pan. Dampen the inside of the pan slightly. Without tearing, press the foil into place in the pan.

 

Peach-Sweet Tea Sherbet

I'm not a fan of sherbet but I really loved this: captures the taste of fresh peaches perfectly, and it's not icy.
1+ quart sherbet
Shopping List

3  large fresh peaches (or frozen)

1/2 cup buttermilk

almond extract

1 tsp citric acid

11/2 cups milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

3 TBL black tea leaves (loose, not from tea bags)

2 tsp tapioca starch OR 4 tsp cornstarch

The book Hello, My Name is Ice Cream is an outstanding source of information and recipe ideas for ice cream. I found the amount of almond flavor overwhelming and suggest a smaller amount here.

Peel

  • 3 large fresh peaches

If using frozen peaches make sure they are peeled.

Cut the peaches into chunks and heat in a small saucepan, mashing. Cook for about 5 to 10 minutes. Let cool and strain through a medium-to-fine sieve. You need to obtain 11/4 cups peach puree and to it add

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 couple drops (1/8 tsp) almond extract
  • 1 tsp citric acid

Refrigerate this mixture.

In a saucepan, combine

  • 11/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup (The book provides other options)

Over medium heat, cook and stir until it comes to a full boil.  I prefer to use tapioca starch, but ATTNif you are using cornstarch, add

  • 4 tsp cornstarch dissolved completely in 2 TBL water

Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.

If you are using tapioca starch, add

  • 2 tsp tapioca starch dissolved completely in 2 TBL water

Add

3 TBL black tea leaves (not from tea bags)

Steep for 6 minutes, but ATTN no longer as it will impart a bitter taste. Strain the hot base through a fine sieve and cool in an ice bath. When the temperature is cool to the touch (50º F), combine with the peach mixture.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (to get a better texture). Churn in ice cream freezer. While  you can eat it right away, it’s much better packed and frozen for at least 4-6 hours.

Dana Cree’s excellent book Hello, My Name is Ice Cream

 

Mango Lassi Frozen Yogurt

The hint of orange flower water really makes this frozen yogurt a delight. It's tangy.
1+ quart of frozen yogurt
Shopping List

2 cups full fat Greek yogurt

2 or 3 fresh mangos or 300g frozen mango pieces

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 tsp orange flower water

1 cup heavy cream

2 TBL milk

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

2 tsp tapioca starch OR 4 tsp cornstarch

The recipe in Hello, My Name is Ice Cream is a much more nuanced description of how to make this frozen yogurt, giving you a number of options for thickeners (“texture agents”) and it has a more subtle mango flavor. I pushed up the mango puree volume substantially. I encourage you to track down the book if you have any interest in ways to improve the result through the use of other texture agents or alternatives to the corn syrup I used. Don’t use low-fat Greek yogurt: it will change the texture of the result because of the higher water ratio.

In a blender, puree about

  • 300g (3/4 pound) mango peeled cubes (fresh or defrosted)

run through a medium strainer to remove any stringy bits. You should have about 11/3 cups mango puree.

Combine and refrigerate

  • 11/3 cups mango puree
  • 2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp orange flower water
  • 1/2 tsp salt

In a saucepan, combine

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup  (The book provides other options)

Over medium heat, cook and stir until it comes to a full boil.  I prefer to use tapioca starch, but ATTNif you are using cornstarch, add

  • 4 tsp cornstarch dissolved completely in 2 TBL cold milk

Reduce heat to a low boil and cook for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.

If you are using tapioca starch, add

  • 2 tsp tapioca starch dissolved completely in 2 TBL cold milk

Cool the hot base mixture using an ice bath. When the temperature is cool to the touch (50º F), pour the base through a fine sieve to combine it with the mango mixture.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (to get a better texture). Churn in ice cream freezer. While  you can eat it right away, the frozen yogurt will have a  much better packed and frozen for at least 4-6 hours.

Dana Cree’s excellent book Hello, My Name is Ice Cream

 

Fresh Cherry Crostata

Easy to make and adaptable to other fruit (see notes)
Makes a 12-inch crostata, serving about 8 people
Shopping List

8 ounces (2 sticks) butter

1/4 cup sugar

2 TBL almond flour or blanched, slivered almond ground finely

2+ cups  flour

3 pounds fresh cherries, pitted (or other stone fruit)

1 TBL tapioca starch or corn starch (for other stone fruit)

A crostata is a homestyle pie that is made in a free-form shape on a flat pan.

In food processor bowl, combine

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 TBL sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Add

  • 6 ounces (11/2 sticks) cold butter, cut into dice

Pulse food processor until mixed. With the motor running, in a slow stream begin to add

  • 1/2 cup ice water

ATTN however you will not use all the water.  As soon as the dough starts to come together, stop the motor. (Discard any extra water.) Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap or place in a sealed container and ATTN refrigerate for at least one hour.

Prepare the fruit just before the dough comes out of the oven. If using cherries, wash and pit them, removing stems. If using peaches or other larger stone fruit, peel them by dipping briefly in boiling water, cut into wedges or desired pieces..

Preheat oven to 400º F.

In a small bowl combine the following

  • 2 TBL almond flour
  • 1 TBL flour
  • 1 TBL sugar

ATTN If using fruit other than cherries, add

  • 1 TBL flour (for a total of 2 TBL)
  • 1 TBL tapioca starch

Roll the dough into a 15-inch circle, even up the edges of the dough and transfer to a baking tray that has sides Spread the almond/flour mixture in the center 12-inch circle and place the fruit in that area. Fold the outer 11/2 inch edge of dough in, making a pattern of decorative folds with the excess. Spread

  • 2 TBL melted butter

on the dough and then sprinkle with

  • 2 TBL sugar (sometimes I use coarser sugar)

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until the crust is lightly browned and the fruit is bubbling. Remove and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine.

 

Pâte Sucrée

Shopping List

  • 16 ounces (about 15/8 cups) all purpose flour
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter
  • 5.5 ounces granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 11/2 Tbl heavy cream
  • 1 Tbl vanilla extract

This is a sweet tart dough. Makes 2 tart shells. Use one, freeze one to use later.

Sift

  • 16 ounces (about 15/8 cups) all purpose flour

and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream

  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter
  • 5.5 ounces granulated sugar

on high speed until light and fluffy, stopping regularly to scrape down the sides, bottom and paddle, about 8 minutes. One at a time, add

  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk

and beat well between additions. Scrape one more time, then give it a good final mix on high speed. Add

  • the 16 ounces of sifted flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 11/2 Tbl heavy cream
  • 1 Tbl vanilla extract

Mix on low until the dough comes together. Finish mixing by hand with a large rubber spatula. Divide the dough into two flat, round disks. Double wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours.

One hour before baking, roll out the dough on a heavily floured surface, until it is just shy of 1/4-inch thick. Roll the dough back onto the rolling pin, then gently roll it out over the tart pan. Press the dough into the pan to shape it, then cut off the excess, leaving 1/4-inch of overhang. Chill for one hour.

Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the tart shell from the fridge, trim the overhang off of the edge of the tart, patch any thin parts or cracks with excess dough. Line the tart shell with foil and fill with weights or beans. Place the tart in the center of the bottom rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Remove the weights and foil, and continue to bake until the bottom is golden brown, about 15-20 additional minutes. Cool the shell completely before removing from the pan or filling.

 

 

Fig and Hazelnut Tart

 

Shopping List

1 cup blanched hazelnuts, toasted

1/3+ cup granulated sugar

scant light brown sugar

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks

1 Tbl Frangelico

1 Tbl vanilla extract

about 15 fresh black figs

In an 8- to 10-inch tart pan, make

  • 1/2 recipe for Pâte Sucrée (Sweet Tart Dough), blind baked and cooled

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Adjust oven rack to middle position. In a food processor, combine

  • 1 cup blanched hazelnuts, toasted
  • 1/3+ cup granulated sugar
  • scant light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Pulse until the mixture is sandy and there aren’t large pieces of nuts left.  Add

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks
  • 1 Tbl Frangelico
  • 1 Tbl vanilla extract

and pulse until the eggs are smooth but chunks of butter are still visible, about 15 – 20 short pulses. Scrape the sides of the food processor and pulse an additional 5 times. Scrape the mixture into the cooled tart shell. Arrange

  • about 15 fresh black figs, stems trimmed and cut in half

cut side up on top of the filling.

Bake 20 minutes at 375°F, then rotate the tart 90 degrees on the rack. Lower the oven to 325°F and bake until the figs begin to bubble and caramelize and the filling turns golden brown all over, about 45 additional minutes, turning again halfway through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before serving.

Kiffling (Wedding Cookies)

Rich crescent-shaped almond cookies with a light, crunchy texture. Despite the powdered sugar, they're not too sweet. They're easy to make.
Makes 3 dozen
Shopping List

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter

1/3 cup sugar

8 oz almonds (unroasted, skins on)

2 cups cake flour

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

These cookies have a delicious crumbly texture. I’m not a fan of confectioners’ sugar, but the coating on the on the outside works perfectly.

Using a mechanical grinder (meat, nut, whatever), grind

  • 8 ounces almonds

I suppose you could use 8 ounces of almond flour, but leaving the skins on provides a darker result and more flavor.

In a bowl, cream

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter

Add

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

When thoroughly mixed, add the ground almonds. Then blend in

  • 2 cups cake flour

to make a uniform dough. ATTN Using cake flour provides the cookies with a better texture. Place the covered dough in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325º F. After the dough has rested, measure out uniform pieces. I  used a scale and aimed for 22g pieces: they’re a little bigger than I’d have liked because (to my surprise) the dough rose a bit as it baked. You can just use a spoon or approximate uniform pieces with your eye: ATTN that’s better for your mental health.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Form crescents, making sure they taper down at the points. Place the cookies on the parchment-lined pans: they can be fairly close because they don’t expand much.

Kiffling waiting to go into the oven.
Kiffling waiting to go into the oven.

Bake for about 12 minutes and then check on them. If you need to rotate the racks or swap the racks top to bottom. Keep an eye on them until they are golden. At the size I made the cookies they took about 22 minutes to bake, but your timing may vary. You definitely want the cookies watch the cookies until they take on a nice color.

When the cookies come out of the oven, coat them in confectioners’ sugar. The cookies can break, so my approach was to dust them using a strainer with confectioners’ sugar right over the cookie pans. Then I used a spatula to move the cookies over a little to place the bottoms onto some of the spare sugar on cookie sheet.

Some people dust them a second time after they cool, but it’s more sugar than I like.

From my sister, Mindy, who probably got it from a family friend.

 

Rum Balls

Easy: no baking involved.
Makes about 30 cookies
Shopping List

about 11/2 cups vanilla wafers

about 5 ounces pecans

2 TBL cocoa

about 11/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

 

If you have a food processor, it will make chopping the nuts and pulverizing the vanilla wafers, but do each one separately. Next time I make this I’m going to grind the pecans instead of chopping them.

Measure together in a bowl

  • 1 cup (95g) of vanilla wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup (135g) finely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup (110g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 TBL (10g) cocoa powder

Stir to combine ingredients. Add

  • 1/4 cup rum or bourbon
  • 2 TBL corn syrup

Mixture should be refrigerated a couple hours (or overnight) to allow the dry ingredients to fully absorb the liquid. Roll into small balls. (I overthought this and weighed them to target about 14g each.) Roll in confectioners’ sugar. Store in refrigerator.

NOTE: The original recipe made double this quantity, and Betty suggested making half with cocoa and half without cocoa.

From a dear family friend, Betty Rosen. I get a smile on my face every time I think about her.

 

Autumn Soup

Indian flavors and fall vegetables make a great combination
6 to 8 servings
Shopping List

olive oil

large bunch leeks

small pumpkin or butternut squash

2 turnips

1/2 pound potatoes

red pepper flakes

ground cumin

garam masala

fenugreek leaves (dried or fresh)

Saute

  • 4 cups (12 ounces) chopped leeks (white part), cleaned of any sand

in

  • a glug of olive oil

When tender, add

  • 4 cups (18 ounces)  peeled pumpkin (or butternut squash), cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 11/2 cups (8 ounces) turnip, peeled and cut into dize
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) potato, peeled and cut into dice

Add water to cover (4 cups) plus

  • 1 tsp salt
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 TBL dried fenugreek leaves (or more, if fresh)

Bring to a simmer and cover to cook for 45 minutes. Check to see if vegetables are tender. Puree when done. Adjust seasonings, adding lemon juice if desired.

 

Flourless Orange and Almond Cake

No butter, no oil, no flour: a delicious, moist cake with the flavor of almonds and orange. Served with a marmalade sauce.
Makes an 8-inch or 10-inch cake
Shopping List

2 navel oranges

65g or 100g brown sugar

130g or 200g granulated (white) sugar

4 or 6 eggs

165g or 250g almond flour

1 tsp or 11/2 tsp baking powder

This recipe can make either an 8-inch or 10-inch pan. Whichever you use, ATTNmake sure it is at least 11/2 inches high.

Simmer, covered thoroughly in water for 2 hours:

  • 2 navel oranges

Alternatively, place them in a 6-quart pressure cooker with enough water to cover (even if you have to hold them down to measure it) and process at high pressure for 20 minutes. Let pressure release naturally. Discard the water.

Preheat oven to 350º F. Line the bottom of the greased baking pan with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine

  • 65g or 100g brown sugar
  • 130g or 200g granulated (white) sugar
  • 4 or 6 eggs

Process until it forms a fluffy mixture. Cut the cooked unpeeled cooked oranges into 8 pieces. The two I used weighed 600g after cooking, so for the 8-inch cake I used only 400g of the orange; I discarded the excess. Add the measured orange to the food processor and process until it has been fully incorporated: you’ll see small pieces of skin floating through the mixture. ATTN For the larger cake I had to process it in two batches.

Combine in a bowl

  • 165g or 250g almond flour
  • 1 tsp or 11/2 tsp baking powder

Transfer the liquid mixture to a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Transfer batter to prepared pan and bake. The small cake takes about 45 to 60 minutes. The 10-inch cake bakes for 60 to 90 minutes. The top will get fairly dark (cover with loose foil if it’s getting too dark) and a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes on a rack, run knife around pan and then invert twice (removing parchment paper) and leave it on a rack to finish cooling.

Thin out some orange marmalade with water at a simmer. Let cool. To serve, combine some mascarpone with milk or cream, served on the side of a slice of cake, drizzling the top of the wedge with a spoonful of the thinned marmalade mixture.

Adapted from the Polpo cookbook

 

No-Knead Pizza Dough

Simple as can be. The recipe readily scales up for a bigger crowd.
Makes two 11-inch pizzas
Shopping List

Type “00” soft wheat flour

Yeast

Measure the flour by weight: you can scale this recipe up. See the note at the end.

In a bowl, measure

  • 320g type “00” soft wheat flour
  • scant 11/2 tsp salt
  • 1/16 to 1/8  tsp yeast

Regarding the yeast, for a 6-pizza recipe, you need about 1/2 tsp yeast, so go easy and don’t worry about being too precise. Stir the dry ingredients together. Add

  • 1 cup cold water

Stir until a ball forms. Transfer it to a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a lid. Let sit for 18 to 24 hours and leave at room temperature.

After the rising time, the mixture will look a bit bubbly. Gently dump it onto a floured board, shape into a rectangle. Divide into separate pieces for each pizza (two in this case). For each piece, pull the four corners into the center. Smooth into a ball, dust with flour and place on work surface with the seam down. Let rest for 1 hour covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel.

ATTN If you’re working ahead of time, you can place the balls of dough in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When you’re ready to use the refrigerated dough, remove it from the fridge one or two hours before you’re ready to bake.

Dual Pizza Stones
Dual pizza stones transmit the heat better.

Start preheating the oven. I bake my pizza on a pizza stone with ATTN another pizza stone on a shelf about 4 to 6 inches above it. I bake at the highest temperature, 550º F convection in my case, so it takes almost an hour for the oven to heat up and for the stones to get thoroughly hot. Be sure to wait until the stone(s) heat up completely.

Form the pizza by gently forming into a circle, handling the dough as little as possible. Be sure to leave a bit of an edge around the pizza to form a crusty edge. Stretch the dough to an 11-inch round. Transfer the shaped dough to a baker’s peel that is generously coated with cornmeal. Top the dough with ingredients. Bake for 61/2 minutes (adjusting for your own oven’s temperature).

When ATTNscaling up this recipe to make more pizzas, use this guide. Per pizza 160g flour, scant 3/4 tsp salt, speck of yeast (keep reading), and 1/2 cup water. For 6 pizzas the proper amounts are 1kg of flour, 4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp yeast and 3 cups water.

This caramelized onion pizza (pictured above) is made by slow-cooking chopped onions in olive oil. Cover the dough with mozzarella and bits of shaved romano cheese and then cover with a thick layer of the golden onions. Follow baking directions above.

Inspired by

 

Cold Borscht

The perfect thing for a hot summer night.
A little more than 2 quarts
Shopping List

2 bunches of beets (about 21/4 pounds including greens)

1 medium onion

1 TBL sugar

sour salt (citric acid), or a lemon

16 oz container of sour cream

Peel and cut into largish dice (3/8– to 1/2-inch on a side)

  • 2 bunches of beets

Measure the volume (about 6 cups in my case) and place in a soup pot. Note: the beets in this batch weighed about 800g after peeling. Add

  • 1 medium onion (150g), minced finely
  • 6 cups water (actually, it should match the volume of the beets)

Bring to a boil and then start a timer for 15 minutes. Check whether the beets are cooked; they should be soft enough to chew but not mushy. If they need a few more minutes, cook a little longer. Turn off the heat and remove any scum that collects at the top of the pot. Add

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 TBL sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sour salt (citric acid) or 3-4 TBL of lemon juice

Let stand to cool for 30 minutes. Place half the beets and some liquid in the jar of a blender. Run until fully pureed. Return to pot. In the jar of the blender combine

  • 3/4 cup (roughly) sour cream

about a cup of liquid from the soup. Process until smooth and pour back into soup pot. Stir and adjust any seasonings as needed. Chill in refrigerator.

ATTN My mother would make borscht (with a slightly different recipe) and only add the sour cream just before serving. This allowed her to freeze the soup and serve it at a later time. I do it this way because the sour cream blends thoroughly in the blender and it’s already in use when I’m making the soup. I haven’t frozen this, but I can’t imagine any reason it would fail.

My mother would garnish this with diced boiled potatoes, diced cucumber or diced hard-boiled eggs. I didn’t ever develop a taste for any of these additions.

Basmati Rice Salad

Simple cold salad that shouts summer.
8 servings
Shopping List

1 cup basmatic rice

1 small bunch fresh mint

1 bunch scallions

2 small, juicy lemons (or 1 large)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup frozen edamame or peas

Cook

1 cup basmatic rice

and spread the cooked rice on a large tray or jelly roll pan to cool. That will take about 10 minutes.

While the rice cooks, combine the following in a 2-quart (or larger) bowl:

  • grated zest of 2 small lemons
  • 2 TBL lemon juice
  • 3 TBL olive oil
  • 3 TBL finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup  chopped finely scallion greens (save the solid parts of the stems for something else)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Place

  • 1/2 cup frozen edamame or peas

in a strainer and run under cold water until they are defrosted. Drain and add to dressing, along with the cooled rice. Mix everything well (with your hands if you don’t mind doing that) to break up the rice thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference.

You can serve this right away but I prefer to let it sit in the refrigerator for a bit before serving. It’s great made a day before serving.

Adapted from Simply Recipes

 

Grilled Octopus

Easier than I ever imagined.
8 legs but the servings vary according to appetites and the size of the octopus
Shopping List

1 octopus, 1.5 to 2 pounds (see note)

1 onion

2 garlic cloves

1 bay leaf

1 tsp dried oregano (or alternate herbs)

1 large or 2 small lemons

1/4 cup olive oil

Purchase

  • 1  octopus (11/2 to 2 pounds), cleaned

Note: A larger octopus will work, just make sure it fits in your pressure cooker and adjust the cooking time. I’ve also cooked 2 11/2 pound octopuses at once in my 6-quart pressure cooker.

When you (or the fishmonger) clean the octopus, be sure to remove the beak, eyes and open the head and clean it out. Rinse the octopus, especially inside the head as there might be a little sand in there if it isn’t cleaned out thoroughly.

Place the octopus in a pressure cooker. Add water to cover and

  • 1 onion, cut in half
  • 2 cloves garlic, split or smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt

ATTN Be absolutely certain you don’t overfill your pressure cooker!

Bring the pressure cooker to high (15 lbs) pressure. Set a timer for 15 minutes. When the time is done, bring the pressure down quickly and check that a paring knife easily slips into the thickest part of the leg.  If not, close the pressure cooker, bring it back to pressure and cook for 3 minutes; then re-test it. Generally I have found that 15 minutes is enough time.

In a 2-3 quart mixing bowl, combine

  • juice of 2 small or 1 large lemon
  • 3 to 4 TBL olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano, marjoram or thyme. (You can also use fresh herbs if you prefer)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Add the cooked octopus and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, turning the octopus at least once in the marinade but more often if time allows.

Light coals or light gas grill. Grill the octopus whole, making sure you don’t char the tips of the legs too much. When it’s gotten some color, it’s done. Remember, it was fully cooked when it came out of the pressure cooker.

Serve, either cut into legs or bite-size bits, drizzled with more olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice or your favorite condiments.