Coffee Ice Milk

Combine a rounded ¼ cup of cornstarch and ¾ cup whole milk in a large saucepan. With your fingertips stir until all the cornstarch is dissolved. Add 1½ cups extra-strength coffee, 1½ cups whole milk and ½ cup sugar. Stir over high heat until mixture is steaming. Continue cooking one medium to low heat until mixture thickens completely: 4-5 minutes. Strain mixture in fine wire mesh, then stir in 1½ tsp pulverized coffee (a commercial coffee grinder will do this at the finest setting).

Cool custard and freeze in an ice-cream freezer.

NOTE: I used decaf coffee, and to make the extra-strength just used half as much water as I normally would for the amount of coffee.

Stuffed Vegetarian Vine Leaves

Cook 1 cup brown rice with 1 tsp salt and ¾ tsp dried thyme until almost cooked. Meanwhile finely chop 1 medium onion and saute in oil until tender; do not brown. Let onions and rice cool for 10 minutes, combine with ½ cup toasted pine nuts, ½ cup currants and a sprinkling of cinnamon — probably about ¼ tsp. Stir thoroughly and season with additional salt and/or cinnamon to taste.

Rinse and drain vine leaves. Trim off any stems. (I used a jar that was marked “8 oz. drained weight” and was about the size of a 1 lb. jar of another brand.) With veined side up, stuff with a 1-2 tsp of filling according to the size of the leaves, rolling tightly (see Stuffed Vine Leaves for details). Place on steamer rack and when you’ve stuffed them all, cook for 45 minutes in the covered steamer, being sure it doesn’t dry out.

This made about 30 vine leaves.

Sour Cherry Jam, No Pectin

Wash and pit 2 quarts of sour cherries. Chop into pieces (mostly halves) and measure. For 5 cups of fruit, I used 3 cups sugar. Stir together in a large stainless steel or porcelain pot. Let sit for 3 minutes to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally; cook until temperature is 224 F. Transfer to sterilized pint jars and process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Makes 5 half-pint jars.

Root Beer Float Ice Cream

Put 2 cups heavy cream, 1 cup milk, ½ cup sugar and a pinch of salt in a sauce pan. Add 1¼ tsp root beer concentrate (Schilling’s make this). In a bowl, combine 4½ TBL (that’s a generous ¼ cup) of corn starch and ¾ cup milk. Stir with fingertips to confirm there are no lumps. Add cornstarch to sauce pan and heat until steaming, stirring constantly. Lower heat and keep stirring for 5 minutes, or until thoroughly thickened. Strain and chill a couple of hours and freeze in ice cream maker.

NOTE: It struck me after making this that I should have added the flavoring after the mixture came off the heat. Next time.

Chipotle Vinaigrette

ATTNTurn on the vent over your range or your house will smell from vinegar!

In a very small saucepan, boil

  • ½ cup wine vinegar
  • ½ cup orange juice

on a high heat until the volume is reduced by half. Cool to room temperature and mix in

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise

until thoroughly blended. Add

  • 1 TBL pureed chipotle in adobo
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ TBL lime juice

Use to make Tuna-Tomato Napoleons.

NOTE: You can buy a can of chipotle chiles in adobo. I put the entire contents of the can into the food processor and use the resulting puree any time I want a spicy and smokey flavor. Just freeze the extra and use it as needed, straight from the freezer.

Tuna-Tomato Napoleons

Don't bother with this unless you have amazing tomatoes. Coupled with grilled thin layers and a spicy-smoky citrus dressing, this is one of our summer favorites.
Makes 4 servings
Shopping List

1¼ pound tuna, cut into ¼-inch slices.

3-4 heirloom tomatoes (depending on size)

1 head Boston Bibb lettuce

1 cup Chipotle Vinaigrette<

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¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves

¼ vegetable oil

Prepare Chipotle Vinaigrette or use some other creamy salad dressing (you want to dilute it a bit if it’s very thick). Pluck and wash

  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves

and dry them thoroughly. Roughly chop them and set aside.

The thinly sliced tuna
The thinly sliced tuna

If you can convince your fish vendor to cut  ¼-inch thick slices, do it. If not, buy a thick tuna steak; freeze it for 8 minutes and slice it yourself with a very sharp knife with a long thin blade. You will need 3 or 4 slices of tuna per serving.

Wash and dry

  • 3 or 4 heirloom tomatoes
  • 9 to 12 lettuce leaves
Ingredients, ready to go
Ingredients, ready to go

Cut the tomatoes into ATTNthin slices. Tear away any tough or unattractive areas of the lettuce leaves. Arrange all the ingredients so you will have ready access to them as the assembly will proceed rather quickly.

The piece of tuna at the front is almost over-cooked.
The piece of tuna at the front is almost over-cooked.

On each plate, place a lettuce leaf, a slice of tomato and splash it with 2-3 tsp of salad dressing. Brush the tuna slices with a little oil. Put a slice or two of tuna on the hot grill and ATTNwatch it like a hawk. It needs to cook 15 seconds on each side, if that. Place the tuna on the tomato slice. Again, layer lettuce, tomato, dressing and the second piece of tuna. Continue working to make a third layer and end with a final lettuce leaf, tomato and a little more dressing. Sprinkle the reserved cilantro leaves over the top.

The completed Tuna-Tomato Napoleon
The completed Tuna-Tomato Napoleon

Toaster Biscuits

Our little easy-bake oven of a toaster works for making biscuits. We usually use these for strawberry shortcake
4 biscuits

Shopping List

1 cup flour (or ½ cup flour and ½ cup cake flour)

1½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

2½ TBL Crisco

⅓ cup buttermilk

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In a medium-size bowl, mix

  • 1 cup flour (or ½ cup flour and ½ cup cake flour)
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda

If you are making to serve with savory food, add

  • ¼ tsp salt

When the dry ingredients are combined, cut in

  • 2½ TBL Crisco

Then stir in

  • ⅓ cup buttermilk or sour milk (1 tsp vinegar plus ⅓ cup milk)

Knead for 30 seconds and pat to form a layer ⅝-inch thick. ATTN I try to form a square so I can make square biscuits with two cuts of a knife. (If you use a round cutter you can reform the remaining dough but the biscuit cut from this dough will have a different texture.)

Cook on tray for 10-11 minutes at 425 F. (As toaster ovens vary a great deal, keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn, or worse.)

Sour Cherry Jam

Pit 1 quart of sour cherries and chop them (to make about 2 to 2½ cups fruit). Add sour cherry juice (see note) to make a total of 6 cups fruit and juice. Place fruit, juice and a 57g package of pectin in a large pot. Bring to a rolling boil, add 5 cups sugar and let boil for 10+ minutes until it’s thick enough to set (see note). This yields 8 pints. Place in canning jars and process for 10 minutes in water bath.

Note: I freeze sour cherries. When defrosted they give off too much juice for pies. I re-freeze the excess juice and save it for making jam. Regarding how long to boil the mixture, there are a variety of tests you can perform, but for reference, my jam reached 224 F (I’m at sea level).

Braised Chicken with Mushrooms

This is a complete reworking of a recipe that started out with rabbit meat and cooked in the oven for hours. Years ago, I started cooking this recipe using chicken meat but only recently did I realize how perfect it is for the pressure cooker. It’s much faster, simpler and every bit as tasty.

In a pressure cooker, brown

  • 6-8 skinless chicken thighs

Work in batches if necessary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and remove from pan.

Over medium high heat add

  • 1 stalk of celery, sliced
  • 1-2 carrots, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced

Season with salt and pepper, stirring until softened. Add

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 to 16 ounces of chopped, mixed mushrooms (see notes, below)
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme or ¾ tsp dried thyme

Stir occasionally and cook for about 10 minutes, until all liquid is gone. Add

  • 1 cup white wine

and raise heat and reduce by half, then add

  • 2-3 cups chicken stock

Close pressure cooker and cook at high heat for 24 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then use a quick release technique.

The meat and bones will separate so working carefully, remove chicken pieces from pot. Add

  • ⅔ cup pitted black olives, coarsely chopped

ATTN I like oil-cured Moroccan olives although they can be too salty for some people. Cook until flavors have blended and sauce has thickened a bit (10-15 minutes). While it cooks, remove bones and gristle from the chicken pieces and return the meat to the pot.  Let chicken heat up completely, or remove from heat and reheat completed dish when ready to serve.

This is delicious served over Creamy Polenta, Whole Wheat Pappardelle or Fried Polenta.

Note: I like to use about 4 ounces of any exotic mushroom (such as Maitake or Oyster) except not Shiitake plus about 8 small Cremini mushrooms. I break or cut the caps of the exotics into recognizable pieces. chop up the stems finely and slice the Creminis finely. You could use button mushroom for a less expensive alternative. Sometimes I use rehydrated porcini mushrooms, saving the liquid to replace some of the chicken stock.

Chicken Tikka ‘dempte

OK, this is neither Eastern European nor is it Indian, but I like how it tastes.

Saute 1 diced onion, 2 cloves minced garlic and 1 seeded and minced jalapeno pepper. When onions are golden, push mixture aside and brown trimmed meat; I used chicken thighs (bone-in, but skinned and trimmed of all fat). When all pieces of meat are cooked on both sides, add ¼ to ⅓ cup tandoori paste (I used Patak’s brand) and 1 cup water. Mix around a bit, reduce to a slow simmer and let cook covered for 45 minutes. Every 10-15 minutes, turn the pieces and move the ones on bottom to the top.

When meat is tender, whisk a little gravy into 6 ounces of yogurt, and then add the mixture back to the pot. Let cook 5 minutes more. Serve over rice

Chicken with Yogurt Sauce

Trim of excess fat and place 8 skinless chicken thighs in a skillet large enough to hold them in a single layer. Add water to cover, 1 TBL ground cardamom, 1 tsp ground white pepper and 1 tsp salt. Bring to slow simmer and cook for 20 minutes; chicken should be cooked through.

Remove chicken from pan. In a saucepan, combine 1⅓ cup chicken broth (reserved from cooking chicken), an equal amount of thick Greek-style yogurt, 1 TBL cornstarch. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until thickened. Adjust salt and pepper. Serve sauce over chicken on platter, garnished with toasted pine nuts.

This dish has a lot of sauce, so consider serving it with couscous you’ve cooked with some turmeric and added minced carrots or red peppers. The main dish is so white you’ll want some contrast.

Adapted from a recipe in The New York Times, Feb 11, 2009.

Stuffed Vine Leaves

Start cooking 1½ cups brown rice; you will want to stop it just short of being fully cooked. Meanwhile, chop 1-2 medium onions, finely: you will have about 1½ cups onions. Saute the onions and 2 cloves minced garlic in olive oil. Season with salt pepper and herbs; I used a mixture of fresh thyme, dried thyme and dried oregano. Add 1¼ pounds ground meat; I used turkey, but lamb or beef will give a more flavorful result. Saute until cooked, but don’t dry it out, and be sure to keep it broken into small bits.

While the rice is finishing up, prepare the vine leaves. I used a 2-pound jar of leaves (but only used about half of the leaves in the jar). Fresh leaves would be better, but you’d need to pour boiling water over them to soften them up. Rinse the leaves, remove the stems and arrange them in stacks so the side with the veins is up. Don’t use torn leaves or ones with many holes.

When the rice is almost cooked, add the drained rice to the mixture and check the seasonings. Now start filling. With the stem end facing you and the veined side up, put a spoonful of filling at the center of the leaf. Fold the left and right lobes nearest the step over the filling at a 30-degree angle, then bring the sides in and finish rolling up. Squeeze it a bit to hold it in shape and put it in a steamer basket. (You want a steamer with a flat surface, not a basket made for steaming vegetables.) Pack them tightly.

Put the steamer into a pot with water in the bottom and a tight-fitting lid. Steam for 45 minutes: the leaves will have softened up. Check the water level from time-to-time because if it runs out, you’ll burn up all your hard work.

This makes a really large number of stuffed leaves, but the exact number will vary according to how large the leaves are that you use.

New York Seedy Bread

Wonderfully high in fiber, but don't tell anyone as it will spoil the enjoyment of this delicious bread.

Shopping List

4 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup mixed seeds

¾ tsp yeast

¼ cup honey

1 TBL rye sour or 1 cup rye sourdough starter

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Combine

  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup mixed seeds (I often use equal parts of sunflower, flax and sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds, but I tend to use whatever’s in the cupboard.)
  • ¾ tsp yeast
  • 1 TBL salt
  • 1 TBL powdered rye sour (see note)

Mix dry ingredients and then add

  • ¼ cup honey (you can eyeball it)
  • 2 cups tap water (any temperature)

Mix until evenly combined. Let rest is covered bowl for 12-18 hours at room temperature or in a warm spot if your home is cool.

To bake follow use one of these options.

Option 1 (loaf): Grease a 9-inch loaf pan. Dump dough into pan, let rise 2 more hours, covered. Preheat the oven to 450º F and bake for 40-50 minutes. Watch the timing as it may be done sooner, depending on your oven.

Option 2:  Place a covered oven-safe pot that’s large enough to hold the bread in the oven and preheat to 450º F. Wait 15 minutes past the time the oven reaches its temperature to allow the pot to heat thoroughly.  Remove the pot from the oven, sprinkle 2 TBL cornmeal in the pot, dump the dough right into the pot, cover it and return to the oven to bake. Remove the lid after 25 minutes. The total baking time will be about 40-50 minutes.

Remove from bread from the loaf pan/pot and cool on rack. Slice into thin slices after it is thoroughly cooled.

NOTE: Rye sour is a natural product that forms when rye flour is fermented. It is sold commercially as a liquid or powder in a variety of flavors. Commercial suppliers require the purchase of a 25-pound bag. King Arthur used to sell something called Heidelberg Rye Sour in smaller quantities, but no longer do. Instead I keep a rye sourdough starter (that is a sourdough starter I only feed with rye) and use ½ to 1 cup of the sourdough starter in place of the dry rye sour. Everything else stays the same in the recipe.  You can also make the bread without the sour; the flavor will be different but the bread will still be delicious.

 

Garlic Scape Pesto

Cut scapes into 1½-inch pieces. Blanch in boiling water for 15 seconds, just enough for them to turn a bright green. Immerse in cool water and drain thoroughly when they are no longer hot.

Process scapes in small batches in food processor with olive oil. Add grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste. If the batch is large, you may have to process it a second time in a smaller batch to get it smooth.

Freezes well. You can serve it on pasta, but we prefer to eat it on crackers. The best thing is to use this as a filling for ravioli; serve with a basic tomato sauce. The blanching reduces the garlic level to a tolerable state.

Whole Wheat Pappardelle

Rustic ribbons of pasta
Makes 4 generous servings

Make pasta dough with

  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup semolina
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs

Use pasta maker or knead and roll by hand. You want the dough about 1/16th inches thick (don’t get it too thin). Dust with flour as needed and dust with semolina when it’s finally rolled out. Cut into ¾- to 1-inch wide strips. Boil for about 2 minutes or until tender; if they are fully dried, it will take quite a bit more time to complete cooking.