Monthly Archives: April 2015

Spaghetti Marco Polo

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Now here is a spaghetti dish with lots of earthy flavor, but not tomato or milk based. And it is easily expanded for a large crowd.

We originally got this recipe from the 1972 Julia Child television show on PBS. Since then, I have searched a lot of recipes called Marco Polo, but never found this exact recipe. It is again a case that you really can’t improve on the classic base.

When I made this recipe the other day, I was surprised at how much “sauce” it made, and how it totally covered the spaghetti. From that experience, I have a couple suggestions. One would be to not be afraid to double the amount of spaghetti to a full 16 ounces, and the second would be to not be afraid to stir the “sauce” into the spaghetti instead of leaving it on top. My memories of when Marlys made the recipe is that the spaghetti showed through on top, and wasn’t completely covered with “sauce”, and since there were four of us eating, she might have doubled the amount of spaghetti anyway.

My personal choice is not to sprinkle the parmesan cheese on the serving dish, but to put it on the table and let each person sprinkle the amount they want on their serving of the dish.

Spaghetti Marco Polo

(Julia Child, TV Program 1972)

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. spaghetti
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped black olives
  • 1/2 cup red pimento (no vinegar flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 cup chopped, fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, pureed

Directions

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain the spaghetti.

Make the sauce by mixing together in a bowl the walnuts, olives, pimento, basil, parsley, salt and pepper. Set aside.

In the cooking pan put the olive oil and garlic. Stir over moderate heat. Return spaghetti to pan and toss with the oil & garlic.

Transfer to serving plate and top with the “sauce”. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serves two generously.


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Coconut Macaroons

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This recipe has so few ingredients, and seems so simple I had to try it. I discovered that the hard parts are getting the ingredients well mixed, and then finding the right baking time.

Coconut Macaroons

Ingredients

  • * Butter for cookie sheets
  • 1 bag (14 oz.) shredded coconut
  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Liberally butter two cookie sheets and set aside
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut, milk, vanilla and salt. Mix well.
  • using a tablespoon size scoop (#64) tightly scoop the batter into half-balls and place about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 12 minutes, or until bottoms are golden brown and tops have a tinge.
  • Cool on the pan for 5 minutes
  • Using a sharp-edged spatula or turner, remove the macaroons to cookie racks to finish cooling completely


Because the cooking is to brown the bottoms of the cookies, I used my cookie pans rather than the cookie sheets which have a layer of air between the heat and the cookies. I also used the butter to grease the pans rather than the silicon mats; I wanted to make certain that the bottoms of the cookies felt the heat.

I started trying to mix the ingredients in too small of a bowl; I had to transfer everything to a larger bowl. In fact, I would recommend mixing the ingredients in the stand mixer; I had difficulty getting all of the coconut moistened with the milk and vanilla doing the mixing by hand.

I don’t have a #64 scoop, so I used my #60. That should be slightly larger than a tablespoon. Even so, I was able to get 36 cookies out of the batter.

Baking the cookies was tricky; the first batch was not cooked long enough, and was slightly sticky until they dried completely. The second batch I increased the time by 2 minutes, and the bottoms were darker than “golden brown”. The third dozen I had to quickly prepare a new pan, and it was a dark pan; that group came out very dark. I would suggest making time adjustments in only 1 minute amounts at a time.

Even though the pans are well buttered, the cookies really stick to the pans. The wording about using a “sharp-edged spatula or turner” is correct. Even then, be careful to not squash the cookies. I found that when I used the metal turner upside down to press under the cookies I got the best result. And I didn’t try to go all the way under the cookie from one side, but worked my way around the cookie.

Ham Casserole

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Here is another simple-to-make casserole that is filling, and has a few options.

Ham Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (about 10-12 oz.) diced (leftover) ham
  • 8 oz cooked noodles or macaroni (cook as label directs, drain)
  • 5 oz. frozen peas, thawed
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • dash of cayenne pepper(optional)
  • 2 cups milk
  • poppyseeds for garnish

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix together in a large bowl the ham, noodles and peas.
  • In saucepan cook the onion in the butter. When onion is soft, add flour, salt and both peppers. Stir to cook roux. Do not brown.
  • Remove saucepan from heat and add the milk. Return to heat and cook over medium heat until thickened.
  • Pour over ingredients in bowl, Stir together to mix well. Pour into a greased 8″ x 8″ baking pan. Sprinkle generously with poppyseeds.
  • Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. If made ahead and refrigerated, bake for 45 minutes.

First, while the ham can be leftover from another meal, I find that I can buy ham steak and generally get a couple good recipes from the steak. I try to get steaks that are about 1/4 inch thick so that the diced chunks are a good size.

Second, I have marked the cayenne pepper as optional. I really like a good shot of it in this recipe; I will use almost 1/4 teaspoon. But that might be a bit much for some people, or children, so you might want to reduce or eliminate that heat.

Finally, I added the word large to the description of the bowl in the second step of the directions. I started with too small of a bowl, and had to change midway to my large 4 quart bowl. What with the ham, noodles and peas, you need to have enough space to mix it all before putting it in the cooking pan.

When I first pulled this recipe out, I got nervous because it requires making a roux, and I have never done that. I stirred a lot of things for Marlys,- soups and rissoto, but she always made the roux. I do remember her saying a couple things about making a roux; first, the amount of flour is equal to the amount of fat, and second, you have to make certain that the flour is cooked. I must say, I was successful, and the whole operation was easier than I thought. I just didn’t rush the cooking of the flour, or the thickening of the milk.

I used Farfalle pasta- that is what I had- and the bow-ties ended up sticking up in the air so they got slightly over-cooked because they were not down in the sauce. I guess that is why the ingredients say to use noodles or macaroni; they probably lay down better.

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No-Bake Cheesecake

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The picture is probably familiar if you read my Easter 2015 article. Indeed, this is the cheesecake I made for Easter, but I made it into individual servings. In that case, I had to do a small amount of baking to do the crust.

The recipe is for a truly no-bake cheesecake; that is because you buy the crust ready-made. I will give you the way to convert it into the individual cheesecakes in cupcake papers at the bottom of the article, so if you are interested, look for the way to do the crusts down there. For the cupcake paper version, you will need a small amount of baking for the crust.

The reason this cheesecake requires no baking is because the eggs are cooked when the curd is made; thus there are no additional eggs to be cooked with the cheesecake.

In the recipe, I use the general designation of Curd where I mean either lemon or lime curd; you will find my recipe for the curd here.

No-Bake Citrus Cheesecake

Ingredients

  • 10 oz. Curd– either lemon or lime
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 cups Frozen Whipped Topping, thawed
  • 1 9 inch graham cracker pie crust
  • optional fresh berries for garnish

Directions

  • Beat the Cream Cheese until it is smooth.
  • Add the Curd.

At this point, I chose to optionally press the mix through a sieve. I found that mixing the curd with cream cheese does not smooth out as much as I would like it to smooth out, and there seem to be small lumps of cream cheese in the mix.

  • Fold in the whipped topping
  • Pour into the prepared pie crust and refrigerate 2-3 hours
  • Garnish if desired with the fresh berries

For the optional garnish, you could use raspberries, or blue berries, or even slices of lemon or lime to denote the flavor of the cheesecake

To make the individual cheesecakes, you will need 18 cupcake papers and muffin cups. Then, you must make the cheesecake crust.

Cheesecake Crust

Ingredients

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs.
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted

Directions

  • Heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Mix all the ingredients together
  • Press about 2 tsp of the mix into the bottom of each paper lined muffin cup.
  • Bake for 6-8 minutes
  • Cool completely before filling with the cheesecake mixture

I found that a quarter cup (4 Tbsp) ice cream scoop was the easiest way to measure the cheesecake mixture into the individual cupcake papers while they are still in the muffin cups.

Three Bean & Rice Casserole

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This is an easy to throw together casserole that has a wonderful taste. I like the olives in the casserole; they bring an earthiness to the dish. Mostly, you will be opening cans and draining the content in making this casserole. It all comes together in a very short time. There is a close-up photo of the plate down below,in which most of the ingredients can be identified.

The recipe comes from long ago, before inflation reduced the size of most cans of food. So while the ingredients are given in nominal size, you will probably find the 16 oz cans are now just over 15 ounces, and the 4 ounce can is more like 3.8. I think you just need to go with the flow- I did. It was interesting that I had all the ingredients in the pantry except for the onion. Where the ingredients call for a dash of a spice, I used about 1/8 teaspoon, but I think you could easily use more- perhaps 1/4 teaspoon.

Three Bean & Rice Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1 can (16 oz.) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (16 oz.) garbonzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (16 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (16 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies (ortegas), drained
  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • dash cayenne
  • dash hot sauce (Tabasco)
  • dash cumin powder
  • dash black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 oz. frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup pimento stuffed olives
  • 1/2 cup black olives, sliced

Directions

  • In a 5 quart heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven (treated with cooking spray or 1 Tablespoon olive oil), over medium-high heat, saute the onion and garlic until tender.
  • Add the water, all the beans, tomatoes, chilies, rice, cayenne, hot sauce, cumin, black pepper and salt. Heat to boiling, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Add the peas, and both types of olives. Stir and replace the lid. Turn off the heat and let stand for about 20 minutes

This recipe can be separated into smaller casseroles, and refrigerated for storage.
The original recipe shows this as making 8 servings of less than 300 calories each, with about 5 grams of fat each.

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Easter 2015

Although the recipes are in other articles, I thought it would be interesting to show pictures of the various food items I took to our Easter Celebration. Of course, I am the dessert maker, so all the items tend to be types of desserts.

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I had chocolate Easter bunnies to mold for the kids, and so while I was molding chocolate, I made some small baskets. So this first dessert is various fruits in chocolate baskets- the whole thing is edible! I had a combination of blueberries, raspberries, black berries, green grapes, red grapes, and strawberries. The strawberries I decided to dip in chocolate at the last minute, and since I had cored them, I dipped the cored end while normally you see chocolate dipped strawberries with the leaves still on them by which to hold them.

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And while we are on chocolate bunnies, I also made a few larger ones this year. I had the molds for the 2 inch 3D chocolate bunnies last year, and this year I bought a new larger mold. I think these are about 6 inch 3D chocolate bunnies. I try to hollow them out as much as possible because that makes them easier to eat. They looked a little plain and lonesome before I tied ribbons around their necks.

Easter 008

I used the smaller 2 inch bunnies in these cupcake size cheesecakes. This is a no-bake cheesecake divided into individual servings by making it in cupcake papers. Then on top I placed the small bunnies, and a few chocolate eggs to make them festive. While the cheesecake is a no-bake type, because I made it into individual servings, I had to do a small amount of baking on my do-it-yourself crust on the bottom. Normally, as a full size 9 inch cheesecake, you would buy a pre-made graham cracker crust, and the results would be truly no-bake. The recipe uses the citrus curd, and so the cooking of the eggs is in the making of the curd, and not in the making of the cheesecake.

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Finally, I took a plate of cookies. These are the Bon Bon cookies with Rolos and York Peppermint Patties filled Bon Bons. I had just finished with the experiments in making the peppermint filled cookies and I had a bag of Rolos left so I decided to finish the dough with the salted caramel filling. You can see the markings I made on the cookies to tell them apart; the peppermint cookies are dusted with green, while I used gold dust on the salted caramel cookies.

Peppermint Pattie filled Bon Bons

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The other day I saw the York Peppermint Patties now came in the mini size, and knowing that one of my friends is very taken with the York Peppermint Patties, I decided I had to try using them as a filling for the Bon Bon cookies. As you might be aware, I like the Bon Bon dough, and like trying to fill it with different flavors. Of course, there are all the different Hershey Kisses anymore, and not just the milk chocolate that the original Bon Bon recipe used. And I have also used the mini Rolos to make a salted caramel filled Bon Bon. What I learned from that experiment was that filled chocolates tend to be harder to use than the Kisses. More about that in a minute.

I used the regular recipe for the dough of the Bon Bon, using almond flour for the nut flour. The tricks with the filled chocolate center are to use plenty of dough in the cookie, to cook it a little under in time, and to cool it longer on a flat surface before moving it to a rack. Let me explain.

Normally, when I make Kiss filled Bon Bons, I use my 1/2 tablespoon scoop to get the dough. When I do the salted caramel (SC) or the peppermint pattie (PP) filled Bon Bon, I need to make certain I have a full Tablespoon of dough to mold around the filling. I use my #60 scoop to collect the dough.

The recipe for the Kiss filled Bon Bons calls for a 12 minute cooking time; I shortened that to 10 minutes for the SC and PP filled Bon Bons. The cookie isn’t quite as brown as with a 12 minute cooking time, but the center hasn’t broken through the dough as often either.

As I learned with the SC filled Bon Bons, the center that liquifies melts the dough on the bottom of the cookie and leaks out. If you move the cookie before that liquid solidifies, it will drip through the cooling rack giving you horns on the bottom of the cookie. So for these versions of the cookie, I let them cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before moving them to the cooling racks.

This is a repeat of the recipe for the chocolate filled Bon Bons:

Peppermint Pattie Filled Bon Bons

  • 3/4 cup Crisco
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup very finely ground nuts (pecans or almonds)
  • 1 bag York mini peppermint patties

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together Crisco and both sugars. Add egg, vanilla and extract. Beat well. Add flour, baking powder, salt and nuts.

Form dough into 1″ balls (1 full Tablespoon of dough). Press each ball around a mini pattie so that the patties is completely enclosed. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes—do not overbake. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet before moving to the cooling rack.

You may decorate the tops of cooled cookies with frosting and sprinkles. Or, sprinkle tops of uncooked cookies with chocolate shot.

In the photo you will see that the tops of these cookies have some green sprinkles on them. I wanted to identify the “mint” cookies from the chocolate or salted caramel cookies, and using colored disco powder is an easy way to do that without adding texture or taste.

New Menu Added

This is just a very short article to call your attention to the new menu option at the top of the page. I have added an index into all the articles that have been published over the last couple years. I know that I was having a hard time remembering what I had published, and then trying to search the site to see if there was an article already. There are over 150 articles published!

As I say at the top of the Index page, if there are suggestions for improving the index- to help see all the options that are available, please drop me a comment- use the “Leave a reply” button.

Thanks,
Errol