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cooking cove

By Barbara Beltrami

I don’t know what the time between this writing and its publication will bring, and given recent events, I’m worried. However, my stubborn faith in our democracy and Constitution and a resolution to celebrate the Inauguration and all it stands for inspires this column bearing recipes from a few government sources. Most famous and ubiquitously published is the Navy Bean Soup served in one of the Senate restaurants. Then there’s the late Representative John Lewis’s recipe for Barbecued Chicken and White House Chef (1966-1987) Henry Haller’s popular Cooked Vegetable Salad. 

Senate Navy Bean Soup

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

1 pound dried navy beans, picked over

1 pound ham, with bone

2 potatoes, peeled and quartered

Salt 

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large onion, chopped

1 celery rib, chopped 

2 garlic cloves chopped

1/4 cup fresh chopped flat leaf parsley

Freshly ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: 

Put beans in large pot with 3 times their volume in water and put in a cool place to soak overnight. Drain and transfer to a large Dutch oven; add 10 cups water and ham; bring to simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and cook 1 1/2 hours, until beans are tender. Transfer ham to cutting board to cool, then remove bone, cut meat into bite-size pieces and return to pot. 

Meanwhile place potatoes in a saucepan, cover with salted water, bring to boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to simmer and cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 25 minutes; drain, mash and add to beans and ham and stir to combine thoroughly. In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat and add onion, celery, garlic and parsley; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are translucent; add to bean mixture and cook over low heat, adding water if needed, season with salt and pepper and cook one hour. Serve hot with a crispy, crunchy salad.

Rep. John Lewis’s Barbecued Chicken

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

2 cups ketchup

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

1 to 2 tablespoons Tabasco or other hot sauce

Pinch cayenne pepper

Pinch black pepper

1 onion, finely chopped

1 frying chicken, cut up or equivalent chicken pieces

DIRECTIONS: 

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, combine ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, cayenne, pepper and onion. Put chicken parts in greased 9 x 13” baking pan; spread sauce over chicken; bake for one hour, basting chicken with juices halfway through. Serve hot or warm with rice, potato salad or sweet potatoes and a green salad.

White House Chef Henry Haller’s Vegetable Salad

Chef Henry Haller

 

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

2 cups tiny green peas, cooked, drained, cooled

2 cups diced carrots, cooked, drained, cooled

2 cups diced celery

1 cup peeled and cored diced apple

Salt and pepper to taste

3/4 cup mayonnaise

DIRECTIONS: 

In large bowl combine vegetables with celery and apple, salt and pepper. Add mayonnaise and toss lightly with a fork. Serve with soft rolls and butter.

Photo from Pixabay

By Barbara Beltrami

Since it’s the New Year, since many of us are determined to counter the damages of holiday bingeing, since lentils are considered one of the five most healthful foods in the world and since they’re also inexpensive, I’m going with them for this first column of 2021. When I went to the internet to find out why they’re considered so healthful, I was quite impressed by what I found. Not only are they rich in protein and fiber, but they’re also rich in iron and vitamin B1. Note: Because the cooking times of lentils vary, I cannot give exact numbers Figure on anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

Lentil, Kale and Goat Cheese Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

1 1/2 cups black or green lentils, soaked in cold water overnight or for several hours

4 scallions, white and green parts separated, and sliced

4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

1 lemon

1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, almonds, walnuts or cashews, chopped

1 tablespoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 pound or one large bunch lacinato kale, washed, de-stemmed, chopped and massaged to soften

6 ounces crumbled goat cheese

1 cup pitted, coarsely  chopped black olives

Coarse salt to taste

DIRECTIONS: 

Cook the lentils in boiling salted water until  al dente. Do not overcook. In a small skillet combine the white parts of the scallions, the garlic, three wide strips of lemon peel and the olive oil. Cook over medium heat, stirring a few times, until garlic starts to brown and lemon peel curls, about 3 minutes. Add nuts, cook and stir frequently another 3 minutes; remove from heat and stir in cumin and pepper flakes. 

Strain mixture into a small bowl; discard lemon peel and garlic but reserve oil; transfer  mixture to a large plate and spread out. Sprinkle with salt,  let sit until cool. In a large bowl combine kale, goat cheese, olives and green parts of scallions. Drain lentils and add to mixture. Toss with reserved cooled oil, juice of the lemon and salt to taste. Serve immediately with pita or flat bread.

Lentil-Leek Soup

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large leek, cleaned and sliced thin

1 cup chopped onion

1 large celery rib, cleaned and sliced thin

2 carrots, peeled and diced

3 garlic cloves, chopped

7 cups chicken, beef or veg. broth

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 cups green or brown lentils

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

DIRECTIONS: 

In large saucepan heat oil over medium heat. Add leek, onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring frequently until vegetables are golden, about 20 to 30 minutes. 

Add broth, thyme, bay leaf, lentils and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover again; cooks until lentils are al dente; remove and discard bay leaf. Stir in vinegar and serve immediately with rustic bread and a green salad.

Baked Lentils with Chorizo

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 celery rib,  chopped

1 large frying pepper, seeded, chopped

2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound lentils cooked al dente in salted water

One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juice

1 pound chorizo sausage, cut into 1 1/2 inch slices

DIRECTIONS: 

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a large casserole or Dutch oven. Warm oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onion, celery, pepper, garlic and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion and celery are translucent, pepper is a little soft, and garlic starts to brown; remove and discard garlic. Combine mixture with lentils and tomatoes in prepared casserole or Dutch oven and lay chorizo on top. Halfway through cooking, turn sausages. Bake until mixture is bubbly and sausages are brown on all sides, about 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot with rice and a green vegetable or salad.

METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

In case you haven’t noticed, the ongoing theme of my recent columns has been coping with and compensating for COVID restrictions while celebrating the holidays. So here I go again. I believe that whether you’re alone or with just your immediate family (and I do hope for your sake and everyone else’s that it won’t be more than that), you should make the holiday as merry as you can. 

A great way to do that for Christmas Eve or Christmas dinner is to carry out the red and green theme in as many dishes as possible. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to be festive. I’m thinking that spinach lasagna rollups might do the trick paired with a butter lettuce and arugula salad with bell pepper confetti and a pomegranate vinaigrette. Then for dessert, how about a parfait of pistachio or mint chocolate chip ice cream with fresh raspberry sauce? These are just a few ideas. Raid your refrigerator, shop early and come up with your own red and green Christmas dishes.

Spinach Lasagna Rollups

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 garlic cloves, minced

One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped basil

Salt and pepper to taste

For the rollups:

Nonstick cooking spray

12 lasagna noodles (not no-boil)

One 16-ounce container ricotta cheese

Half a 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and all liquid squeezed out

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 large egg

1 handful fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3 cups(or more) tomato sauce to taste

1 cup shredded mozzarella

DIRECTIONS: 

In a medium saucepan warm oil over medium heat; add onions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until they become transparent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until it releases its aroma, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper and a few tablespoons water and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened and liquid is evaporated, about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F; coat a shallow baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions and drain, then lay out in baking pan.

In a medium bowl thoroughly combine the ricotta, spinach, Parmesan cheese, egg, parsley, salt and pepper. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on bottom of baking pan spread ricotta mixture evenly along each noodle, then top with a thin layer of tomato sauce and carefully roll up; place seam side down evenly in baking dish and spoon remaining sauce over them. Sprinkle mozzarella on top. Bake until they are heated through, sauce is bubbly and mozzarella has melted, about 20 minutes. Serve hot with arugula and butter lettuce salad.

Arugula and Butter Lettuce Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

1 large bunch arugula, washed and stems removed

1head butter lettuce or Boston lettuce

6 radishes, cleaned and cut into matchstick-size strips

1/2 cup fresh or bottled pomegranate juice

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 to 3 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Seeds from half a pomegranate

1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

DIRECTIONS: 

In a large salad bowl, toss together the arugula, lettuce and radishes. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the pomegranate juice, vinegars, honey, mustard, and salt and pepper. Just before serving, toss the salad with the dressing, then sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and diced peppers. Serve immediately at room temperature with lasagna rollups.

Fresh Raspberry Sauce

YIELD: Makes 1 1/2 cups

INGREDIENTS: 

3/4 pound fresh raspberries, picked over

2 tablespoons sugar or to taste

1/2 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

DIRECTIONS: 

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the berries, sugar, water and lemon juice. Stirring frequently, cook until sugar dissolves, raspberries fall apart and sauce bubbles, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and press through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds. Cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate or serve warm over pistachio or mint chocolate chip ice cream accompanied by Christmas cookies.

Photo from Pixabay

By Barbara Beltrami

If you haven’t wanted to go into crowded stores because of COVID-19, you’ve gotten so frustrated with the internet or items being out of stock that you’re ready to throw your computer out the window or you’re at your wits’ end trying to think of gifts that will say you’re thinking of those you can’t be with, take heart. It’s not too late to tie on your apron and make some gifts in your kitchen. Here are a few ideas and recipes for cooking some favorites, putting them in sealed,  sterilized jars and processing them in a boiling water bath. Make your own labels or have the spouse or the kids help you, wrap the jars in cellophane and tie with a pretty bow. Go ahead, do it and delight friends, neighbors or family.

Pepper Relish

YIELD: Makes about 5 half-pint jars

INGREDIENTS:

9 or 10 medium bell peppers (assorted colors)

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 packet Certo liquid pectin

DIRECTIONS:

Sterilize jars and lids in boiling water or dishwasher. Cut peppers open and discard seeds, then chop very finely. Drain and press out about half the juice. Measure two cups of peppers and juice into a large saucepan; add vinegar and stir. Add pectin to peppers and mix well. Place over high heat; stir mixture till it comes to a full rolling boil. Stir in sugar immediately, then boil hard one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

With metal cooking spoon, skim off foam, then ladle quickly into jars, leaving 1/8 inch on top.  With wet paper towel wipe rims and threads of jar, place dome lids on top, then screw on lid rings, but not too tightly as heat will cause them to expand. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Upon removal or shortly thereafter you will hear lids pop which means a vacuum seal has been achieved  Sometimes a firm tap with your finger will nudge the lids that haven’t popped. (If they don’t pop and there is no slight depression in the center of the lid, they have failed to seal. Refrigerate them and use them within one to two weeks if this happens.) When cool enough to handle moderately tighten rings on all jars.Let cool, then affix labels. Suggested serving: with cold cuts,  hamburgers, cold sliced meat or meat loaf.

Peach Chutney

YIELD: Makes 6 half-pint jars

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound brown sugar

2 cups white vinegar

1/4 cup shredded fresh peeled ginger root

1 garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped green pepper

3 pounds peaches, washed, pitted and chopped

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot combine the sugar, vinegar, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper.  Heat to a rolling boil; stir constantly. Add onions, green pepper and peaches; heat to rolling boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 1 1/4 hours until very thick.

Meanwhile sterilize jars and lids. Ladle chutney into hot jars to within 1/2 inch of tops. With a damp paper towel wipe rims and threads of jars, then put lids and screw bands on. Tighten bands but not hard. Process in boiling water bath 5 to 10 minutes; remove and wait for lids to pop and jars to cool as in recipe above for green pepper relish. Suggested serving: with roasted meat or poultry.

Apple-Pear Jam

YIELD: Makes 4 half-pint jars

INGREDIENTS:

3 1/2 cups pared, cored mashed apples and pears

6 to 6 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 packet Certo liquid pectin

DIRECTIONS:

Sterilize jars and lids. In a very large pot combine all the ingredients except pectin. Over high heat, bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard one minute; immediately remove from heat and stir in pectin. Stir and skim for 5 minutes. Ladle into hot jars within 1/8 inch from the top. With damp paper towel, wipe tops and threads of jars. Put lids and screw bands on jars and tighten but not hard. Process in boiling water bath for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove, wait for lids to pop and jars to cool as in recipe for pepper relish above, then affix labels. Suggested serving: with toast, croissants, English muffins or scones.

METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

What better time than the holidays to bake? Usually we’re pressed for time, but this year because so many of us are homebound anyway, it’s a great opportunity to try some new recipes with traditional ingredients. I wish I had room here to give you eight recipes for each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, but I’m afraid it will have to be only four. Instead of the Hanukkah jelly donuts called sufganiyot, how about an old-fashioned jelly roll? In keeping with holiday flavors, there’s a recipe here for honey-orange cake, one for a walnut torte and still another for a chocolate upside down cake. They’re all keepers.

Old-Fashioned Jelly Roll

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

Butter or Crisco for greasing

1 cup sifted cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1/4 cup cold water

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

confectioners’ sugar

1 cup raspberry jelly or jam

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a 10″ x 15″ sheet cake pan with waxed paper and grease. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Beat eggs until thick and lemon-colored. Beating well, add cold water and sugar. Gradually sift in dry ingredients; add vanilla and stir. Turn batter onto prepared pan; bake 12 to 15 minutes, until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Place a clean linen towel on work surface and cover with waxed paper; sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Turn hot cake onto waxed paper and spread with jelly. Holding towel and waxed paper firmly with forefinger and thumb, lift and roll short end to opposite short end. Let cool, then unwrap and re-roll. Serve with hot tea, coffee, or hot chocolate.

Orange-Honey Cake

YIELD: Makes 16 small squares or 8 large squares

INGREDIENTS:

Ingredients for the cake:

1/2 cup solid shortening

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup honey

1 egg

1/2 cup grated orange zest

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon finely grated  lemon zest

Ingredients for the sauce:

1/2 cup orange juice

1/3 cup honey

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously grease a 9″ square cake pan. Cream shortening and sugar gradually until light and fluffy; add honey and beat until smooth; beat in egg and orange zest. Sift the dry ingredients together three times. Combine orange juice and lemon zest, then add dry ingredient mixture alternately with orange juice and lemon zest to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry mixture. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan; bake 45 minutes to one hour until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before removing from pan. Meanwhile make the sauce by blending the half cup orange juice with the third cup honey. Serve cake hot or warm with the sauce.

Walnut Torte

YIELD: Makes 10 servings

INGREDIENTS:

8 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

1 cup sifted cake flour

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup ground walnuts

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 325 F. Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored; gradually add sugar and continue beating. Add flour by sifting a small amount at a time and folding in until well blended. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until foamy; sift cream of tartar and salt over them and beat at high speed of mixer until stiff peaks form; add vanilla extract. Fold egg white mixture into egg yolk mixture. Fold in walnuts, then turn batter into a 10-inch tube pan which has been rinsed with cold water. Bake for about an hour and a half, until cake tester inserted in between inside and outside of ring comes out clean. Invert cake for one hour before removing from pan. Serve with whipped cream or chocolate sauce.

Chocolate Upside Down Cake

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup sifted flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

6 tablespoons cocoa

2 tablespoons shortening

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chopped almonds

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 3/4 cups hot water

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F; grease a 9″ layer cake pan. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of the cocoa. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; stir in milk, vanilla and nuts. Mix remaining cocoa with brown sugar and sprinkle over surface of cake. Pour hot water carefully over surface of batter; bake 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with milk, hot tea or coffee.

Za'atar

By Barbara Beltrami

I’ve recently started using za’atar a lot. A Middle Eastern blend of equal amounts of dried culinary herbs, thyme, cumin, coriander, sesame seeds and sumac with a perhaps a little salt or crushed hot red pepper added, za’atar gives an interesting and savory dimension to both ordinary and exotic dishes. Like so many ethnic combinations, it varies from cook to cook and region to region with other additions or substitutions such as fennel or marjoram, for instance.

Moreover, I’ve found that recipes in which it is used often call for additional amounts of one of its elements. Make your own blend or buy it at specialty grocers, then add it to salad dressings, spreads, dips, veggies, meat, poultry or fish, and a whole lot more. Its flavor is subtle; it doesn’t sock it to you, make your eyes water, clear your sinuses or send you sputtering and sprinting for a glass of water. It’s just a nice flavor kick.

Basic Za’atar

YIELD: Makes generous 1/4 cup.

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon crushed dried thyme leaves

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1 tablespoon sumac

Generous pinch coarse salt

Generous pinch crushed dried red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl thoroughly combine ingredients. Store in air tight container or zip top bag.

Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Salad with Za’atar

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, bruised

1 tablespoon za’atar

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 small English hothouse cucumber, peeled and diced

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

DIRECTIONS:

In a small skillet over medium high heat, warm oil; add garlic, reduce heat to low and cook until garlic releases its aroma and starts to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Add za’atar, stir and remove from heat. Discard garlic, let cool to lukewarm, add salt and pepper and lemon juice. In a salad bowl toss cucumber and tomatoes with warm dressing, then sprinkle feta on top. Serve with toasted pita bread and hummus.

Lemony Za’atar Chicken, Potatoes and Onions

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons za’atar

1 garlic bulb, cloves separated and peeled

1/2 cup dry white wine

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 broiler-fryer chicken, cut into 8 pieces

1 1/2 pounds baby potatoes, scrubbed and halved

1 large onion, peeled and cut into small wedges

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, za’atar, garlic, wine, salt and pepper. Transfer to gallon zip top bag, add chicken, seal bag and turn it to be sure chicken is evenly coated. Refrigerate for two hours. Remove chicken from bag, but reserve bag of marinade; place chicken in bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. In the bag of reserved liquid place the potatoes and onions; seal bag and tilt to coat them evenly; refrigerate for one hour. Preheat oven to 400 F, place chicken, garlic, potatoes and onions with the marinade in a shallow baking pan. Bake, basting occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender, about 40 to 50 minutes. Serve hot with a tossed salad.

Za’atar Red Snapper with Israeli Couscous

YIELD: Makes 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup Israeli couscous

Four 6-ounce red snapper fillets, skin on

1/4 cup olive oil

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3 tablespoons za’atar

DIRECTIONS:

Cook couscous according to package directions. Meanwhile coat the fish fillets on both sides with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and rub each side of the fillets evenly with the za’atar. Heat the remaining oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add the fish fillets, skin side down, and cook until skin is golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Carefully turn fish over and cook until flesh is opaque and fish flakes easily. Divide couscous onto 4 plates and top with fish. Serve hot with sautéed greens.

Swedish Pancakes with Cranberries. Photo from Pixabay

By Barbara Beltrami

Writing this column is a real challenge this week because in our house we’re not big fans of leftovers. Actually, there’s only one Thanksgiving leftover that I really crave, and that’s a sliced turkey breast and Swiss cheese sandwich with lettuce and Russian dressing on rye bread. But then, as challenges often do, this one got me thinking. It was going to be just the two of us for Thanksgiving dinner and we surely were going to have leftovers. There would be no happy leftover aficionados upon whom we could foist them as we usually did. There just had to be things we could recycle and enjoy over the weekend. So here’s what I came up with. I thought, why not Swedish pancakes with cranberry sauce instead of lingonberries? Or turkey, mashed potato and stuffing patties or turkey minestrone?

Swedish Pancakes with Cranberries

Swedish Pancakes with Cranberries

YIELD: Makes about 12 pancakes

INGREDIENTS:

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup flour

1 3/4 cups milk

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup cranberry sauce

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 200 F. In a 10-inch skillet melt half the butter. In a blender combine the melted butter, flour, milk, eggs, vanilla and salt and process until smooth. Over medium heat, melt one teaspoon butter in same skillet and tilt pan so sides and bottom are coated; when a drop of water bounces on the skillet ladle one-third cup of batter into skillet and quickly tilt pan again so batter covers bottom of skillet.

Cook till set, about a minute or a little more, then using a rubber spatula, lift edges and flip and cook till lightly golden on other side, about half a minute or less; transfer to warm ovenproof plate and place in oven. Repeat procedure with remaining batter. Fold or roll pancakes, sprinkle with sugar and top with a dollop of cranberry sauce. Serve hot or warm with coffee, tea or hot chocolate.

Turkey, Stuffing and Mashed Potato Patties

YIELD: Makes about 12 pancakes

INGREDIENTS:

1 egg

1 tablespoon cold water

1 cup mashed potatoes

1 cup stuffing

1 cup finely chopped cooked turkey

2 scallions, cleaned and sliced thin

1 to 1 1/4 cups toasted unseasoned bread crumbs

1/3 cup olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl mix the egg and water. In a large bowl combine the potatoes, stuffing, turkey and scallions. Shape them into 2-inch patties and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Gently dip the patties, one at a time, into egg and water mixture, then bread crumbs and place them back on the baking sheet. Warm one-third of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. With a spatula carefully lower each patty into skillet; fry, turning once, until crispy on both sides, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve hot or warm with hot turkey gravy or cranberry sauce.

Turkey Minestrone

Turkey Minestrone

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 celery rib, sliced

1 carrot, peeled and sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 small zucchini, diced

8 unsauced cooked Brussels sprouts or 1 1/2 cups unsauced cooked broccoli, cauliflower or green beans

1 cup canned petite diced tomatoes with their juice

1 cup shredded cooked turkey

1 cup canned cannellini beans, rinsed, drained

1 bay leaf

3 cups turkey stock or broth

1/2 cup uncooked tubetti, penne or ditalini pasta

2 cups finely chopped escarole

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring frequently until they soften, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add carrot, garlic, zucchini and cooked veggie and cook, stirring frequently, until the carrots start to soften, about 3 to 4 more minutes. Add tomatoes, turkey, beans, bay leaf and stock; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook covered on low heat until all veggies are tender.

Ladle one and a half cups of soup into bowl of food processor and puree; return to pot. Add pasta and escarole, and continue cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente and escarole is tender and limp; remove bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper, ladle into tureen or soup bowls and sprinkle with grated cheese if desired. Serve with rustic bread and olive oil.

By Barbara Beltrami

I read someplace (don’t ask me where) some tips for this Thanksgiving when, if we follow the advice of experts on the pandemic, we should by all means celebrate the holiday but avoid large gatherings indoors and do a small intimate dinner with our immediate families and, in some cases, close friends or neighbors who we are sure are not contagious.

Difficult as it may be to forgo the usual groaning board feast, safety should be our primary consideration so that next year we can comfortably gather as we’ve always done. To make the day more celebratory and enjoyable we should first set a festive table. Even the smallest turkey may be too large so roasting a turkey breast or even a chicken might make more sense. The plethora of side dishes should be down-scaled so that it includes everyone’s favorite, of course, and dessert, rather than being an assortment of pies, could be individual tarts.

I’m taking a guess at what are likely to be everyone’s favorite dishes and giving you a little twist on each one. The rest is up to you.

Have a happy healthy and thankful holiday!

Creamy Mashed Potatoes with Chives

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, pared and quartered

Salt to taste

1/2 -2/3 cup half and half, heated

1/4 cup softened unsalted butter

Freshly ground white pepper to taste

1/2 cup snipped chives

DIRECTIONS:

Place potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with cold water; add salt and over high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until fork tender but not mushy, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and return to pan, then reduce heat to low and cook, tossing frequently, another two minutes to dry the potatoes out. Place them in a large bowl and using a ricer, food mill or masher, puree them. (Do not use a food processor or you will end up with a gluey mess!) Gradually stir in half and half and butter; add pepper and chives and stir again. Set aside to keep warm. Serve with turkey gravy and all the fixings.

Sausage and Walnut Cornbread Stuffing

YIELD: Makes about 5 cups

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups cornbread stuffing mix

1 pound sausage meat, crumbled and browned

1 large onion, diced and browned

1 sprig fresh sage, finely chopped

8 ounces unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup-1 cup hot chicken broth

1 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and toss thoroughly to combine. When mixture is at room temperature, place in a greased casserole or cavity of turkey which is also at room temperature, just before cooking, no sooner. Bake in 375 F oven for 45 minutes or until top is crispy if in casserole; if in turkey cavity, remove and serve with turkey and fixings.

Candied Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Pears

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 small-medium sweet potatoes, pared and quartered, lengthwise

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 large Granny Smith apples, pared, cored and quartered lengthwise

2 medium Bosc pears, pared, cored and quartered lengthwise

3/4 cup brown sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Place and space sweet potatoes in large shallow baking pan; season with salt and pepper. Place apples and pears in between sweet potatoes; sprinkle evenly with brown sugar and dot with butter. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until tender and brown on top. Serve with turkey and fixings.

By Barbara Beltrami

Times being what they are with election and COVID-19 stress absorbing all our attention and impacting our peace of mind, with weather turning chilly and gray, it’s a good time to think about the number one comfort food, chicken soup. And depending on the candidate you voted for vis a vis the candidate who won, you may really need that comfort. I think we all love the basic chicken soup, the one with lots of noodles to slurp up, but there are so many variations on this theme too.

Lemon Chicken Soup

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

8 cups chicken broth or stock

4 cups shredded roast chicken

1 small onion, chopped

2 to 3 carrots, peeled and diced

2 celery ribs, chopped

2/3 cup dry white wine

1/2 pound orzo

1/3 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

Juice of 2 freshly squeezed lemons

1 tablespoon lemon zest

Salt and ground white pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot combine broth, chicken, onion, carrots, celery, and wine. Cook over medium-low heat until veggies are tender, about one hour; increase heat to medium-high, add orzo and cook at a steady boil according to package directions, until al dente. Stir in parsley, lemon juice and lemon zest; simmer 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot with a Greek salad and pita chips.

Asian Chicken Soup with Bok Choy

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

5 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 head bok choy, sliced thin

2 to 3 scallions, sliced thin

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot or saucepan bring chicken broth to a boil; add red pepper flakes, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and bok choy; simmer until the bok choy leaves turn dark green, about 10 minutes. Ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle scallions on top and serve hot with crispy fried Chinese noodles and pad thai.

Creamy Chicken Soup with Mushrooms

YIELD: Makes 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1 stick unsalted butter

1 onion, chopped

2 celery ribs with leaves, finely chopped

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 cups sliced small Portobello mushroom

1/2 cup flour

8 cups chicken broth

1/3 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

Leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

3 cups shredded roast chicken

1/2 cup cream

1 tablespoon dry sherry

Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat; add onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until veggies soften, about 7 to 9 minutes. Add flour and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook two more minutes. Add broth and, whisking constantly, bring to a boil; add herbs and simmer for 15 minutes. Add chicken, bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Discard bay leaf; whisk in cream, sherry and salt and pepper. Serve hot with soft rolls and a delicate green salad.

Cajun Chicken Rice Soup

YIELD: Makes 4 to 5 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 pound boneless chicken breasts, grilled, diced

1 onion, diced

2 celery ribs, sliced thin

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

3 garlic cloves chopped

1 tablespoon unsalted Cajun seasoning

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

1 quart chicken broth

2/3 cup rice (not quick-cooking)

One 10-ounce package frozen okra, thawed

DIRECTIONS:

In large pot over medium heat warm oil; add onion, celery and bell pepper, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 5 minutes; add garlic, Cajun seasoning, paprika, cayenne and salt and pepper; cook and stir 30 seconds. Add lemon juice, tomatoes, chicken broth, and one cup water, bring to a boil, then add rice, chicken and okra, cover and simmer until rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot with sourdough bread and a green salad.

A hearty stew is the ultimate cold weather meal. METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

The way things look, it’s going to be a long, isolated winter indoors. So, determined to extend our outdoor life even as the weather gets chilly and the garden goes brown, we’ve treated ourselves to a fire pit for the patio and are hoping we can bundle up, hunker down and keep warm long into the season as we fortify ourselves with lots of hearty stews and soups. Here are three unusual and delicious stews to try.

Chicken and Chickpea Stew

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 celery ribs, diced

2 large carrots, diced

1 medium onion, diced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

One 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes w/ juice

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 bay leaf

1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

4 chicken breast halves, bone in

One 15 ounce can chick peas, rinsed/drained

DIRECTIONS:

In an approximately 6-quart saucepan or pot, warm oil over medium heat. Add celery, carrots and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is opaque, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add tomatoes, broth, parsley, tomato paste, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, and chicken breasts; be sure the chicken is submerged in the liquid. Bring liquid to a simmer, stir occasionally, and turn breasts once until they are almost cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes. With tongs, remove chicken and set on work surface till cool enough to handle, 5 to 10 minutes; discard bay leaf. Meanwhile add chick peas to mixture and simmer until liquid is reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove skin and bones from chicken, cut meat into bite-size pieces and return to pot; bring stew to a simmer, then serve piping hot with crusty bread and a Caesar salad.

Pork and Sweet Potato Stew with Prunes

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups chicken broth

2 large onions, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 bay leaf

3/4 cup dry white wine

One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

1 cup chopped pitted prunes, soaked in hot water

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Season pork with salt and pepper. In Dutch oven or large enameled cast iron pot, heat half the oil over medium-high heat, add the pork and stirring occasionally, brown it on all sides, about 5 to 7 minutes. remove and set aside to keep warm. Meanwhile in small saucepan, over high heat, boil chicken broth until reduced by half, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add remaining oil to Dutch oven, then onions, and cook, stirring frequently, until they are opaque, about 5 minutes; stir in garlic, cumin, pepper and bay leaf and cook over medium heat about one minute, until ingredients release their aroma; add wine and boil until reduced by half, then stir in tomatoes, broth and pork; bring to a simmer, cover and transfer to oven; cook for one hour. Return pot to stove top, add sweet potatoes; cook over medium heat until they are tender, about 20 minutes; drain prunes and add to pot; cook 5 more minutes; discard bay leaf. Serve hot with a side of cauliflower.

Sausage, Cannellini Bean and Broccoli Rabe Stew

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for drizzling

1 large onion, chopped

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, cut into bite-size pieces

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 cups chicken broth

1 bay leaf

Three 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained,

1 bunch broccoli rabe, stems removed, then washed drained and sliced into 1” pieces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until opaque, about 5 minutes. Add sausage and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes, add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add broth, bay leaf, beans, broccoli rabe, salt and pepper; bring to a boil, then cook, covered, over medium-low heat about 10 to 15 minutes, until broccoli rabe is tender. Discard bay leaf. Place in soup tureen and drizzle with oil and grated cheese. Serve hot with orzo.