Monthly Archives: April 2013

Strawberry Devonshire Tart

Strawberry Tart 002I have made this tart several times; it is easy, and is a real treat for the strawberry lovers. I particularly like the balance of the cream cheese and sour cream against the sugar in the glaze. The result is that the pie is not excessively sweet.

Here is how to make this tasty tart.

Strawberry Devonshire Tart

  • 9 or 10 inch pastry shell, baked and cooled.

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 6 Tablespoons sour cream

  • 1 to 1 1/2 quarts strawberries

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • Red food coloring

Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add sour cream and beat until smooth. Spread on bottom of pie shell and refrigerate.

Wash and hull berries. Mash enough uneven ones to make 1 cup. Force through a sieve and add water to make 1 cup juice, discarding berries.

Mix the sugar and the cornstarch together. Add 1/2 cup water and the berry juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture is clear and thickened; then boil 1 minute. Stir to cool slightly and add a little red food coloring if necessary.

Fill shell with remaining berries, tips up, and pour cooked mixture over the top evenly. Chill 1 hour before serving.

For the pastry shell, I buy the frozen kind and then blind bake it. It use to be that we would fill the shell with dry beans to keep it from rising, but the directions now are to prick it all over with a fork. The directions on the shells I bought said to bake at 400 degrees for 7-9 minutes; I thought it came out perfect.

We no longer seem to buy strawberries by the pint basket; I bought a 3 pound container of berries, and I think that maybe the weight follows the old saw about “ a pint a pound the world around”. So my 3 pounds would have been 1½ quarts. That was plenty of strawberries with about a half dozen left over.

To decide how many berries I can afford to mash and use for the juice, I take a second pie tin and arrange the good looking berries to fill the space. This allows me to try to ensure the best berries are whole and in the pie shell, and not mashed.

To mash the “uneven” ones, I first spin them in the food processor; I suspect a potato masher would work, but the food processor really gets the juice flowing. I still put them through a strainer to eliminate any remaining pulp, and all those seeds.
Strawberry Tart 007
I hope you will make and enjoy this different type of a fruit pie.

Errol

Mexican Salad

PicMonkey Collage
Here is a salad that is a meal in itself! It has good tastes of Mexico, with avocado, tomato, ripe olives, and corn chips. You will need to add nothing in order to have a full meal, either for the gang, or for the solo self.

The first time I made this salad was for a pot-luck lunch; I finished adding the corn chips and dressing and tossing the salad to get the flavors all the way through it. I left for a few minutes, and when I came back, it was all gone- however most of the casseroles that had been brought still were available. That demonstrates how good the salad is, and how well-liked it is as a meal.

You will want a large bowl in which to combine all the ingredients. I use a container that is about 50 cups- and it is over half full when I start tossing the ingredients to get them all mixed. The large size of the container ensures that pieces of the salad are not escaping when I toss it with extra vigor.

Mexican Salad

( Evelyn Sheehan, 1975)

  • 1 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 avacado
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 can (16 oz.) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lb. cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup black ripe olives, sliced
  • 1 bag Fritos (11 oz) broken up
  • 1 bottle Kraft Catalina salad dressing

Brown and drain the beef.

Cut up and put in large bowl the lettuce, tomatoes, avacado and onion. Add beans, cheese, olives, the drained meat and Fritos. Toss all with Kraft Catalina dressing. Serve with hot salsa if desired.


When processing the tomatoes, I seed and juice them before chopping them for the salad.

If you plan to have some of the salad left over for another time, then I recommend NOT putting the corn chips and dressing on the salad when you make it, but instead, adding the chips and dressing after the salad is plated. The salad is good for a couple days, but the dressing will speed the welting process, and the chips will get soggy and not provide their crunch.

It seems as if nothing stays the same in the marketplace; there once was only one type of Frito corn chips- now there are multiple variations. I get what is known as the Original. And inflation has reduced the size of the package from the 11 ounces it once was to 10 ¼ ounces. I forgot to check, but I suspect the 16 oz. can of beans is now less than that amount, too.

Likewise, the single kind of Kraft Catalina dressing has expanded into multiple varieties; I get what is now known as Kraft Catalina Classic Anything Dressing.

Apple Pudding

PicMonkey CollageOriginally, this recipe was for a Rhubarb Pudding; Marlys loved rhubarb pudding. Then, Mindy saw that it was a good basic pudding recipe and made it with apples- giving us an Apple Pudding recipe. A 9×13 product is too much for me in most cases, and so I decided it needed to be scaled down a bit; luckily it scaled perfectly. So now, we start with the smaller Apple Pudding- one that an individual going solo can eat in just a few meals, and then we show how to make it full size again for the family.

Apple Pudding

Basic Recipe — Linda N. {Smith} Wing 1980,

Updated to Apple Pudding by Mindy Crary)

  • 3 Apples- I found Golden Delicious to be good, but Gala, Fujii, etc will do
  • 7/8 cups flour, heaping, divided as 2 Tbs + 3/4 cup
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar or Splenda
  • 1/4 cup butter; better cut it into small pieces before it gets warm
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel and slice the apples. Mix with the apples, a heaping 2 Tablespoons flour and the sugar/Splenda. Put into a 6 x 9 baking pan which has been buttered or sprayed. Mix together and spread evenly on top 3/4 cup flour, the butter and the brown sugar. Bake about 1 hour or until top is bubbly.

To make a larger amount of pudding, double the recipe and use a 9 x 13 baking pan. The oven temperature and time stay the same. Remember the smaller amount of flour is used to coat the apples in the bowl, and the larger amount of flour is part of the topping.

  • 6 Apples-
  • 1 3/4 cups flour, heaping, divided as ¼ cup to coat the apples and 1 1/2 cups for the topping
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar or Splenda
  • 1/2 cup butter; cut it into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar

I always make it with Splenda; since the sweetener goes into the bowl with the apples to coat them, the Splenda starts to dissolve in the apple juice and the bowl is real sticky after finishing that operation. Don’t worry; enough of the sweetener got on the apples that the finished product will be good.

It is a very simple recipe and easy to make. Enjoy the pudding plain, or add a little milk/cream on the served piece. And enjoy if as an after-school snack.
Enjoy;
Errol

Pork-Pecan Tacos with Guacamole

Pork-Pecan TacosWhile this recipe appears to be complex, I encourage you to break it down into several distinct pieces that can each be accomplished separately and almost with no relationship to other steps. I will be guiding you through the steps with hints and suggestions as you will find below.

Pork Pecan Tacos with Guacamole

  • 2 lb. marinated center-cut pork loin filet (onion and garlic flavor)

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3/4 cup reserved broth from the cooked pork loin

  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste (divided)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 fresh jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped or miniprocessed
  • 1 pasilla or poblano chile, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped

  • 8 – 10 flour tortillas
  • Guacamole (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

1) Place pork in shallow pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Cover with foil and continue baking for another hour. During the last hour of cooking, check to make sure there is liquid surrounding the pork. If it begins to dry, add water, 1/4 cup at a time. This broth will be used later on.

2) Let the meat stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove meat from pan, reserving
3/4 cup of the liquid. Cut the meat into 4 to 6 pieces; with clean hands or 2 forks shred the meat into a large bowl.

3) In a heavy skillet heat olive oil over medium-high heat and saute the pork with the garlic briefly, about 1 minute. Add the reserved broth and simmer about 10 minutes. Taste and season as desired with additional salt.

4) In a small skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat and stir in the pecans and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Saute for 2 minutes. Add the sugar and saute for 1 minute; add the chilies and continue to saute for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir half this pecan mixture into the pork mixture. The rest should be sprinkled over the top when serving. (optional). Instead of green jalapeno peppers, red jalapenos could be used to add color to the meat.

To serve, heat the flour tortillas. (stack in pie pan, cover with foil and put in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.) Spread guacamole on each tortilla and fill with the shredded pork.

GUACAMOLE:

  • 2 ripe avacados
  • 1 medium-size ripe tomato
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • lemon juice
  • garlic salt

Mash avacados in a small bowl. Stir in chopped tomato and onion. Season with lemon juice and garlic salt.

Makes 4 to 5 servings.

Those are the recipes; as you can see, I have broken the ingredient list down into subsets that go with the directions. Now I am going to discuss each step that might use a enlarged explanation.

  • Buying the meat: It once was that we could buy a 2 pound pork loin in a package with a garlic-onion marinade. I haven’t seen it in the marketplace recently. They are doing many other marinades. You can try one of those, and I doubt if it will make a big difference. I also note that inflation has hit on the pork loin in marinade; they use to be 2 pounds but now seem to be only 1 to 1 ½ pounds.If you need to buy a non-marinade pork loin, then I would recommend talking to the butcher. There is something called silver skin on pork that needs to be cut off; it is tough. It might not make any difference since we will be shredding the meat, but what the heck- let the butcher with his expertise take it off. I did one such pork loin, and learning about the silver skin is not worth the effort. You have to first identify it, then slip a sharp, flexible knife (boning knife) under it and peel it away from the muscle/meat.
  • Marinade: If you need to make a marinade, then here is a pointer to a very simple one on Cooks.com.
    Garlic-Onion Marinade
    It has soy sauce, fresh onion, fresh garlic, sugar, ground ginger, and oil. I have used this marinade a couple times and it seems to be easy and straight- forward. My only hint would be to be certain the sugar gets dissolved in the soy sauce. You need to plan ahead if you need to do the marinade; it needs to soak for a day or two. I put the pork loin and marinade in a large freezer bag and put it in the refrigerator to do its thing.
  • Roasting the pork: The package will probably say to roast for 45 -60 minutes. Forget it. Marlys says to roast for 2 ½ hours, and explicitly to tent it after 1 ½ hours, and to continually add liquid. If you don’t roast the meat long enough, it is difficult to shred, so please follow Marlys’s directions, and remember to add the liquid so there is minimal burning.
    No matter how hard you try, the bottom of the roasting pan is going to get some burned sugar on it. I recommend that you use a glass or ceramic pan to ease clean-up. And, a secret my sister Rachael taught me is to get a scouring powder called Bar Keeper’s Friend to help with the clean-up.
  • Caramelizing the Pecans: Although the directions don’t say to do this until after you have the shredded meat in the skillet sautéing, I would do this while the meat is roasting so you know you have the time. Of course, everyone is afraid of fresh peppers- don’t be. Wear rubber gloves if you think they will irritate the skin- I don’t need to protect my hands. And the peppers will loss most of their heat between the preparation- removing the seeds and veins- and the cooking. Where I would suggest being careful is getting rid of the seeds, stems, etc. I notice that when I put them down the garbage disposal, there is a back gassing that will cause me to cough and sputter if I catch it in my face, so don’t be over the garbage disposal when you wash the pepper debris down it. And, now that you have the oil of the peppers on your hands and fingers, don’t touch your face! Wash your hands with soap before proceeding.
    If you know that you will want a little more pepper heat in the finished meat, keep a couple tablespoons of the jalapeno aside now, and then sprinkle it on the meat as a final touch.
  • Shredding the pork: This is not a difficult task. What is happening is that with the two forks, you are pulling across the grain of the meat to separate the fibers of the grain. Cutting the roast into pieces that are a couple inches long makes certain that the fibers are not longer than that. Have fun!
  • Guacamole: I like to seed and juice the tomatoes before cutting them up for the guacamole so that the juice doesn’t get into the guacamole. I just think it makes a nicer sauce.

To convert the tacos into a fiesta, you might want to open a can of refried beans and heat them. When you serve them, sprinkle the top with grated cheese. Some people like a little lettuce with their taco, so you might want to shred a small bowl of lettuce as an accompaniment. And if you want even more of the taste of Mexico, you could also set the table with some sliced ripe olives, and maybe some salsa. I would also include on the table some sour cream; if anyone feels the pepper heat is too much, they can use a little sour cream to cool their mouth and reduce the heat. Don’t use water! It spreads the heat.

There are at least two ways to make/eat a taco; first is to roll the meat and other ingredients into the tortilla. In this case, fold up the bottom of the tortilla first so the stuffings don’t fall out. The other way is to tear the tortilla into pieces (4?) and then put just a little bit of the various ingredients on the piece and fold it only enough to get it into the mouth.

If you make the guacamole ahead of time, or have some left after the meal, you need to cover it with a piece of plastic wrap pressed down onto its surface so no air can get to it. Air causes the avocado to turn ugly brown, and very unappetizing.

Any left-over meat can be reheated in the microwave; and individual tortillas can also be warmed in the microwave.

Enjoy, Errol

Red Apples

Red Apples  Collage
Are Red Apples a dessert, or are they a snack? I think they are both. They are a good, healthy snack, and they also make a vibrant dessert. I gave a batch of Red Apples to my neighbor with a 2 year old grandson, and the report came back that both the grandfather and grandson liked them and cleaned them up.

As you might be able to tell from my blog, Marlys had a lot of simple recipes that used only a few ingredients but made good food. As a widower, I find that I still use these simple recipes most of the time, rather than making more complex recipes. I am lucky to have a recipe book with so many easy to make good foods, and when I get stuck, I can call a daughter to get her take on what the directions mean. I am hoping that the discussion following the directions for the recipe will give you the hints, and alert you to the issues that you might encounter in using the recipe. And again, I am also trying to find scalability in the recipes so that you can make them for yourself – solo- or for a small dinner party.

I like Red Apples, and often have some in the refrigerator upon which I can snack. And this recipe is really scalable. Finally, I’ve changed the recipe as it appears here to use Splenda instead of sugar, but you can easily substitute sugar for the Splenda. So, here is how to make Red Apples

Red Apples

(Catharine P. Crary 1970)

  • 5 lbs. cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced (Rome are good!)
  • 4 oz. red hot candies (cinnamon rounds – Cinnamon Imperials)
  • 1 1/2 cups water.
  • 1/2 cup Splenda for Romes, 1 cup Splenda if using Granny Smith

Melt together in large cooking pan with a lid, the red hot candies in the water.
Add to pan the apples and Splenda. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring often.

On electric stove, turn off and let sit on burner until cooled.

On a gas stove, they will have to be cooked about 5 minutes before turning off and allowing to cool.




This is a very simple recipe. I don’t think you can go wrong with it. If you decide to scale it down, just divide each ingredient by the fraction you want; for example, half a recipe would use 2 ounces of the Cinnamon Imperials and 3/4 a cup of water. The Splenda and amount of apples would also be cut in half. You could even go smaller; just remember that ¼ cup is 4 Tablespoons, so you might be changing the amount of Splenda into Tablespoons from fractions of a cup.

One reason for cutting the recipe down is that 5 pounds of apples is about a dozen apples. That is a lot to peel, core, and slice. The pictures were taken with the recipe cut in half- with 6 Braeburn apples. I treated them like the mentioned Rome apples and used 1/4 cup of Splenda.

Rome Beauty apples were quite popular when I was younger, but I seldom see them in the store anymore. I think the suggestion for using either Rome Beauty or Granny Smith apples is because they were both considered cooking apples; they didn’t break down when cooked. The difference in the amount of sweeting for the different apples is because of their taste characteristic. The Granny Smith is a tart apple, while the Rome Beauty is considered mildly sweet.

The Braeburn apples I used are considered sweet and tart, and so I treated them like the Rome Beauty’s mild sweetness. I was concerned that they might not be crisp enough to hold up to cooking, but I had no trouble in that area; the results were very similar to when I have made Red Apples with Granny Smiths.

Peeling and coring a large number of apples is a task. We bought one of the peeler-corer-slicer machines and have used it. Marlys hated it, and made me do all the apple preparation. The machine helps, but isn’t perfect; many times the peeler will miss a section of the apple and I have to go back and use a paring knife to remove the last of the skin. Even then, I can prepare the apples in just a few minutes.

Finally, I do add a few drops of red food coloring to make the final color more vibrant and deeper red than what the Cinnamon Imperials leave the apples. It is a recipe for Red Apples, and not pink apples.

I encourage you to try this recipe and enjoy the Red Apples as a snack, and give some to the children in your life- they will like them, too.

Errol

P.S. I don’t think they have to be refrigerated; that just happens to be where I store mine.

Boiled Dinner

This recipe is for an easy Boiled Dinner that is not like most Irish or New England Boiled Dinners. The recipe shows you how to make a Boiled Dinner without the sauerkraut or cabbage; those seem to turn a lot of people off. I think this is a good recipe for the tyro cook to learn and add to their repertoire.

The recipe in itself has an interesting history. We have had Boiled Dinner fairly often in the past. One day, after she left home for college, daughter Jenn called and wanted to know how to make Boiled Dinner. It was then that I discovered there was no recipe in Marlys’s Recipe Binder. Marlys gave Jenn instructions, and then Jenn wrote up this recipe for me to include in the Recipe Binders. This is the recipe as Jenn gave it to me, but I will comment about it and add my take on preparing it below.
Boiled Dinner 007
Boiled Dinner

(Jenn Crary)

  • potatoes, chopped in half or quarters
  • carrots, cut on an angle so pieces are around 2 inches
  • onion, whole pearl onions or one medium onion quartered
  • sausage- like kielbasa

Bring a large pot with about 2 inches of water to a boil. Add potatoes, carrots and onion to boiling water. Bring back to simmer and let simmer for 30 minutes. Add meat and let simmer for another 15 minutes.

An important factor in this meal is that you don’t need to worry about seasoning the food as you cook it. Instead, put a few condiments on the table and let each individual season their own meal. Now I like mild, creamy horseradish with my meat, and I like butter to melt over my potatoes and vegetables. Others might like mustard, or even catsup for the meat, and maybe sour cream for the potato. Just put the condiments on the table and let people do what they like.

This recipe can be made with almost any kind of encased meat- even hot dogs. We happen to like it with the kielbasa sausage. The kielbasa usually come at a weight of just under 1 pound; when Marlys and I got the sausage home, we would immediately cut it in half and freeze it as two meals- about 4 ounces per person per meal.

How much of each ingredient do you need? In general, I would use 3-5 ounces of each ingredient per person that will be eating dinner. Thus, cutting the kielbasa in half for two people allows about 3.5 ounces per person. I used 5 ounces of carrots, 4.5 ounces of new potato (red and Yukon Gold), and 3 ounces of onion per person in this demonstration. I had part of a yellow onion in the refrigerator and so used it instead of pearl onions.

While the recipe does not include green beans, I added 3 ounces per person because they are colorful, and I had them in the freezer. Being frozen, they only need to cook a couple minutes. I think the green beans work best if you cut them in half so they aren’t too long.

While Jenn’s recipe cooks everything at a simmer, I am the type that uses a heavy boil. Then, with things cut into bite-size pieces, it all cooks in about 15 minutes. So, I put everything except the green beans in the pot and boiled it hard for 15 minutes. I used a wok spider to take it all out of the boiling water and place it on the platter. I tented it with foil to keep it warm since I still had the beans to cook. I put the green beans in the boiling water, and as soon as it was boiling again, turned off the burner and let the beans sit in the hot water for 2 minutes. Now they were ready to come out and go onto the platter with everything else. That extra step might be enough to make you want to forget the beans.

If you don’t have a wok spider, you can use a colander in the sink and dump the pot of meat and vegetables into the colander to drain.

I hope you find this recipe easy to prepare and serve, and you enjoy it.
Errol

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad 006
Caesar Salad was created in 1924 by Caesar Cardini, an Italian restaurateur in Tijuana, Mexico. Cardini was running low on food and he put together a salad for his guests from what was left over in the kitchen. Originally, the romaine leaves were coated with the dressing and placed on the plate stem end out so they could be picked up and eaten with the fingers. It wasn’t until years later that the romaine was cut into bite-size pieces.

There seem to be a lot of Caesar Salad recipes- many even claiming to be the original. I have used this one since back in the 1960s. And since becoming solo, I have worked on a way to make the recipe one serving at a time. But first the recipe:

Errol’s Caesar Salad

1 clove garlic, minced
2 oz. tin of anchovies, broken up
1/3 cup olive oil
1 raw egg
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 heads of romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
2 cups croutons

In the bottom of a large salad bowl, mix together the garlic, anchovies, olive oil, egg, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add the romaine. Toss well to coat every leaf of romaine. Add the cheese and toss again to ensure all leaves get some cheese. Sprinkle the top with the croutons.

When we first started making Caesar Salad, it was partly as entertainment; I would make it at the table in front of our seated guests while Marlys finished up in the kitchen. In that case, you want all the ingredients measured out in small dishes that you can toss into the salad bowl and then using the salad tongs, toss the salad to make certain every leaf of romaine is coated. When we were entertaining, rather than use a minced garlic clove, I would cut a clove in half, and then rub the bottom of the salad bowl to squeeze the garlic oil out before adding the oil. I would lift the anchovies out of their tin, and using a dinner fork, break them up in the bottom of the salad bowl. I also broke the egg at the table and using the dinner fork, whip it into the oil. The lemon was cut in half and placed in a cloth napkin to be squeezed so that any seeds would not go into the salad.

Many people don’t like the idea that the salad has anchovies in it; if the anchovies are broken up into small enough pieces, they seem to disappear. Mix them in well with the dressing components before adding the romaine. This might also be where the use of Worcestershire sauce in the dressing became popular; it contains anchovies but also has a lot of other flavors like molasses and cloves. Personally, I like the anchovies, and they really are not noticeable after they are chopped.

For my single serving version, I make the full recipe of dressing except for the cheese. Then, I buy a package of romaine hearts; one heart will make two servings for me. I cut the heart vertically so that both servings will have the green end of the leaves and some stem end. I then chop the serving crosswise into bite-size pieces. I pour some of the dressing on the serving, sprinkle on the missing cheese, and some croutons.
Keep the extra dressing in the refrigerator- I like to keep mine in one of those dressing bottles so I can pour out what I need.

I make my own croutons. For a single serving, I toast a couple slices of bread. I butter the toast, and sprinkle it with garlic salt and Parmesan cheese and let them cool for a couple minutes. Then, I cut the crust off the toast and slice it into 9 to 12 square pieces. The croutons thus reflect the basic garlic and Parmesan flavors of the salad dressing.

I hope you find this version of Caesar Salad both simple to make, and enjoyable.

Errol