Monthly Archives: September 2013

Pork Chops Evelyn

The other week, I decided I wanted a pork chop for supper. I remembered that Marlys had some good recipes for pork chops, and went looking for them. This recipe comes from her Aunt Evelyn Sheehan. Auntie gave us lots of good recipes; she was very active socially, and when her different groups would have a lunch or dinner, she was certain to pick up a new recipe or two.

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This recipe is very simple, and yet it has a nice taste. I could taste the lemon, and felt the texture of the onion slice; the onion is not cooked so hard that it is only a taste with no texture.

Pork Chops Evelyn

(Evelyn Sheehan)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  • Pork Chops
  • Onion, sliced about 1/4″ thick
  • Lemon, sliced about 1/8″ thick
  • catsup
  • brown sugar

Place on each chop (laid flat in a baking pan) an onion slice, a lemon slice, a tablespoon of catsup and a tablespoon of brown sugar.
Cover pan with foil and cook for 1 hour.

After cooking the pork chops a couple times, I made a modification to the recipe; it originally called for uncovering the baking pan after an hour and continuing to cook for another half hour. I felt that dried the pork chop out too much; cooking covered captures the moisture and leaves the pork chops more moist.

I also have a couple suggestions for this dish. First, since you need to cover the dish, you need a deep baking pan so the cover doesn’t squish the topping on the pork chop. I would say that the pan should be 2 -3 inches deep. Second, I found that the brown sugar didn’t splatter and burn so much if it is placed under the catsup rather than on top. When I placed the sugar at the top of the stack, I had quite a bit of burned sugar in the baking pan. (I still recommend Bar Keepers Friend for getting the burn out)

Peach Tart

August is when the peaches start to appear in the marketplace, and so I decided to make a peach dessert. There is a recipe in Marlys’s Recipe book for a Peach Tart, and since I had lots of success with the Strawberry Devonshire Tart, I thought a Peach Tart would be fun and easy.

The first time I made the peach tart, I had a downright failure. When I went to serve it to friends and kin, the bottom crust had disappeared. What an embarrassing mess! But, I don’t give up when I mess up; I instead try to learn from the experience and give you hints about how to avoid the problems I had in learning the recipe. My second attempt came out perfectly; I cooked the crust longer than the recipe said.

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My first problems were not even with the recipe- I didn’t know what a tart pan was, and I was going to use a spring-form pan. The recipe calls for a 12 inch tart pan with a removable bottom, and I couldn’t find a 12 inch pan of any form in the cupboards. Daughter Mindy put me straight, and I went out looking for a tart pan that was 12 inches in diameter and had a removable bottom. That big, they are scarce, and I went to several stores before finding the last one in a cake decorating store.

The mathematics says that if you can’t find a 12 inch tart pan, you could make the recipe in two pans; one an 8 inch pan and one a 9 inch pan. Of course, you would now have the problem of proportioning the crust and filling out into the two slightly uneven sub-tarts.

I think my biggest problem the first time I made this tart was that I was too much guided by the cook times, and not by the cooking results for the crust. The problem was that the crust was not cooked through, and then it didn’t hold the filling and even dissolved into the filling as the whole tart was cooking.

After discussing the whole thing with Mindy, I learned that the recipe was from Caprial Pence, so it wasn’t mine to publish without explicit permission; it hadn’t yet been credited to Caprial in Marlys’s Recipe book. If you would like that recipe, it is here

I decided that there were several reasons to make my own recipe for a Peach Tart, and that is what I am giving you here. First, most people don’t have a 12 inch tart or pie pan. Then, a 12 inch tart has several problems, for example, who has a nice flat plate large enough for a 12 inch pie? Finally, when you serve a slice of a 12 inch tart, you need a small dinner plate instead of a dessert plate. The Caprial recipe called for crystalized ginger – I felt that I should try for more common ingredients although in taste testing, we ended up feeling ginger root was better than ground ginger. Finally, the recipe called for just little bits of heavy cream, so unless you use heavy cream often, you are again having to wonder how to use up the rest of the pint. I felt I could fix these issues.

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Peach Tart a la Errol

Pastry

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger root*
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup shortening.

* if you don’t want to buy and grate ginger root, substitute 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger.

While this is a tart, and works nicely in a tart pan with a removable bottom, it can also be made and served in a regular pie pan.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place flour, ginger, sugars and vanilla in a food processor. Start the food processor and add the shortening about 1 Tablespoon at a time.
Remove and press into an 8 or 9 inch pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Cool the tart shell before continuing.

Filling:

  • 2 peaches peeled and sliced (see hints below)
  • 3 Tablespoon cream cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch allspice
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp grated ginger root
  • 1/8 tsp rum or almond extract.

To peel peaches, it is easiest if they are ripe; test this by pressing lightly around the stem end. A ripe peach will have some give around the stem end. If the peaches are not ripe, then you must peel them the hard way- I use a vegetable peeler like I use on carrots. However, for ripe peaches, I recommend using a blanching technique. You need two pots of water – one boiling and one as cold as possible. Using a slotted spoon, put a peach into the boiling water for 40-50 seconds. Lift it out and quickly into the cold water to stop the cooking. Now take it out and puncture the skin around the stem end and it should just peel right off.

To slice the peaches, start by cutting from the stem end half way around with a paring knife. Then, make a second cut in the same manner, but over at the equator of the peach by the width you want for the wedge- about 1/4 inch. After you have made about 4 of these cuts, you will feel the wedges starting to come loose. Usually they need just a little help at the end opposite the stem. Lift them out one at a time. Then, continue making wedges and lifting them out.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Arrange wedges of peaches in concentric circles in the cool tart shell. Process in a bowl with a whisk, or a hand mixer, the cream cheese, butter, milk, and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, then spices and extract. Pour over peaches but don’t overflow the crust- you may have some custard left. foil the edges of the crust so it doesn’t burn.

Bake 30 minutes, or until brown at the edges.

Some recipes suggest serving a peach tart with a dollop of whip cream (Creme Chantilly, Rediwhip, CoolWhip) or with a drizzle of caramel sauce.

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While the directions call for making the crust dough in a food processor, I have successfully made the dough in a stand mixer. In that case, start by creaming the shortenings and sugars, and the ginger and vanilla, and then add the flour a little at a time. The dough is very dry, so it can be worked by hand to press into the pan and up the sides. Just be certain to completely cover the bottom and up the sides so that the custard doesn’t leak under the crust.

When all finished, you might have leftover pieces of both the peaches and the custard. I put mine together in a small casserole pan and cooked it beside the tart, giving me a crustless peach tart. It might not be nice enough for company, but it still tastes good!

Green Beans with Tomatoes and Olive Oil

This recipe didn’t turn out quite the way I had wished it would, but it is a good vegetable recipe to go with your meat. By the time the green beans have become tender, the tomatoes have cooked to a pulp; I had hoped that the tomatoes would have kept their shape, and been fresher. My next step will be to try the combination again, but to try to create more like a salad.

However, this is still a valid recipe as a vegetable to accompany the meal. It probably is more oriented to cooler weather where we want warm dishes, than to the summer when a salad would be desired.

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Green Beans with Tomatoes and Olive Oil

  • 3 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, cut in half
  • 12 ounces cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • * salt and black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic or sherry vinegar

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the sliced onion and garlic cloves and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until the onions begin to turn golden brown.Add the tomatoes and continue cooking until the tomatoes have collapsed and given up some of their juices. Add the green beans and season with plenty of salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the beans are tender, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove cover and continue to cook until the juices have thickened slightly, 3 or 4 minutes more. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Stir in the vinegar. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Banana Tea Bread

Marlys could never stand to have any brown on her banana skin; I could eat them until the meat got mushy . Then they were too ripe for me. This time of year, with the warm weather, I am discovering that I need to buy a smaller hand of bananas, but more often in order to have bananas on hand. I like to have bananas both as a snack, and to put into my salad, like into Monkey Salad.

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Banana Tea Bread is another sweet bread, much like Zucchini Bread and Steamed Bread Pudding. It is good just sliced as a dessert.

So, if you have bananas that you don’t feel like using as a snack, or in another recipe, make Banana Tea Bread with them.  And it is therapeutic since you can take out some aggression on the bananas when you mash them.

Gracie Damon was Marlys’s neighbor when her father was stationed at Whidbey Island Naval Station.

Banana Tea Bread

(Grace Damon 1950s)

  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten well
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cream together the shortening and sugar. Add eggs. In a separate dish, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.

Add dry ingredients alternately with mashed banana. Add walnuts. Pour into well greased loaf pan and bake at 350°F about an hour.

I found that it took 1 1/2 bananas to make a cup. Those bananas were about 7 inches long.

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I am getting mixed signals about sifting flour, and thus sifting all the dry ingredients together. My recent readings have said that modern flour is manufactured such that it doesn’t contain lumping.  I have stopped sifting my flour and dry ingredients together on recipes that I have made more than a couple times, and I don’t see any problem.

Celebrating a Birthday in Seattle

This week I journeyed to Seattle to help daughter Mindy celebrate her birthday. We went to Cactus Restaurant for her birthday dinner; this is a local chain of Mexican food restaurants in the mid-price range to which we seem to always return. We have actually visited 3 of the chain, and have found them very consistent and enjoyable. After supper, we went to my favorite spot for a dessert- Molly Moon– and had a scrumptious ice cream sundae made with chocolate and salted caramel ice creams.

Molly Moon

Mindy had heard a rumor about Molly Moon having a bacon ice cream, and so we got talking to the counter person and learned that the stores have a little independence and a monthly Sundae contest to see who can come up with the most interesting item. The bacon ice cream had been one of the other stores. It turns out Molly Moon too, is a chain, and there are about 5 stores in the Seattle area.

Fat Hen 1

The second day –my first full day in Seattle, we went to a small restaurant for brunch called The Fat Hen in the Ballard area. We both ordered types of eggs benedict; mine were on Smoked Salmon and Mindy’s were on Chanterelle Mushrooms. We both felt the eggs were poached perfectly. We also had latte coffee, and liked the way they were made – they seemed rich and smooth with a nice milk foam.

Fat Hen 2

We were both feeling slowed down a bit, and decided to bring in food for supper. Mindy has found a BBQ place that has really good food to go- Rainin’ Ribs. So we went over there and brought back a side of baby back ribs with 5 sides; Mindy’s favorite sides are fried pickles and hush puppies, and I chose cole slaw and sweet potato fries, and then we got corn bread for the fifth side.

While eating our ribs, we decided that for the rest of my stay, we would go to restaurants that were located close to the other Molly Moon stores, so that each night after eating, we could visit that local Molly Moon and have dessert. That first night, we had gone to the store on Queen Anne hill.

Serious Pie 1

Day three of my stay, we went to breakfast at Serious Biscuit; this is one of many Tom Douglas restaurants in Seattle. We were seated up stairs near the back, and discovered we could look down on a “production” kitchen. The host said that all the bread and pastry used in the Tom Douglas restaurants was made in this production kitchen. We enjoyed watching the making of pie shells, biscuits, puff pastry, and fillings like fresh peaches being peeled and measured out by weight into separate containers.

Serious Pie 2
Quinn 1

That evening we went to the Capitol Hill area for supper and dessert. The restaurant was Quinn’s Pub. We each started with a glass of beer while we waited for our food. We ordered 5 “small plates” to share. One of the dishes was Sautéed Swiss Chard and Farro; neither one of us knew what Farro was so we felt we had to try it. It is a grain, and seems a lot like an Arborio rice. The Molly Moon for that night was less than two blocks away.

Quinn 2
Starbucks

On day four, we did breakfast at a Starbucks. Mindy was good and had the oatmeal with her skinny latte grande, while I had a morning roll with a white chocolate mocha vente. For supper, we went to Phinney Market Pub and Eatery which is just outside the Seattle Zoo. I had the fettuccine (Walnut Basil Pesto Fettuccini) while Mindy had the Steak Ceasar. Dessert was at the Wallingford Molly Moon. Mindy said this was the original store. It was also a nice mild evening and the sidewalk was crowded with families enjoying a cone or a sundae; many of the families were three generations.

Phinney
TopPot

Our fifth day breakfast was at a Top Pot doughnut shop; they currently have 5 café/stores in the Seattle area, but their donuts are sold in other retail stores through-out the Seattle area. We first became familiar with their donuts when they were supplying the Starbucks stores with donuts; since then, Starbucks have started making their own donuts which in my opinion, do not quite measure up to the variety and taste of the Top Pot donuts. As you can see from the photo, we had a selection of donuts with our lattes. I had the stack of three, which are a chocolate frosted old fashion, a glazed chocolate old fashion, and a chocolate sandcastle. The stack of two includes a raised glazed and a cinnamon & sugar old fashion.

Matador

Our supper plans got changed a couple times. This was the Labor Day Monday, and the websites of restaurants don’t seem to get updated to tell you that they are not going to be open. We had planned to go to a Mexican restaurant called La Carta De Oaxaca, but when we got there, it was closed for the holiday. We walked about a half block and ended up at The Matador – another Mexican restaurant in the Ballard area. The food was good, but we felt the atmosphere was a little on the noisy side. After supper, we were suppose to go to the Ballard Molly Moon for ice cream. That store is really just part of the counter space for a hamburger joint so we cancelled those plans and instead drove over to the Madrone Molly Moon store.

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The store is also a minimal store; its counter is in a window on the sidewalk, and the “scoopista” (a term Mindy created) just has room to turn around. She was very pleasant, and got Mindy to try the Jamberry sundae; that turned out to be good – Mindy felt she should have been having them all along instead of just the Molly Favorite sundae that I order. Although the store has no customer space, just a block north of the store is a park in which you can sit to enjoy your ice cream.

jamberry

That is the story of how a couple foodies spent a few days celebrating a birthday and finding a lot of interesting and good places to eat in the Seattle area. I hope that if you find yourself in Seattle and looking for a different restaurant that won’t completely empty your wallet, that you might find some ideas in our story.

Cheers, Errol