Friday, September 28, 2012

Old Fashioned Mushroom Barley Soup

During my college years I worked part time at the local Kroger as a cashier.  This particular store anchored a large strip mall which included a Woolworths, a JC Penney and much to every one's satisfaction a Sanders store.  Sanders was famous for their ice cream, sundaes, shakes and cakes and back then had a lunch counter that served fabulous food.  When I worked on Saturdays all day I would go to Sanders for their fabulous vanilla milk shake and for their mushroom barley soup.  I just loved the soup and here have tried to re-create it in all its simplicity.

Makes about 4 quarts

3 Tbl olive oil, divided
12 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
12 ounces boneless beef chuck cut into a small dice
2 cloves minced garlic
1 large onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced small
1 carrot, diced small
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cups beef broth
8 cups chicken broth
1 cup quick cooking pearl barley
2 Tbl Worcestershire sauce

In a large skillet heat 2 Tbl of the olive oil and then add the sliced mushrooms and saute until browned.  Set aside.
In a large soup pot heat the remaining Tbl of olive oil and add the diced beef.  Cook until nice and brown.
Add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme leaves, bay leaf, salt and pepper and continue to cook until the onion softens.
Add the beef and chicken broth, bring up to a boil and then simmer for 45 to 50 minutes, adding the mushrooms at about the 20 minute mark.  Add the barley and simmer another 10 to 15 minutes.
Turn off the heat and stir in the Worcestershire sauce. Re- season with salt and pepper if need be.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pasties: A UP Classic

We love pasties around here...those pies filled with meat, potatoes, carrots, onions and sometimes rutabaga.  My mother- in -law who was from the UP made them frequently and I always watched and tried to make them, but I could never get the crust right.  Finally a few weeks ago, fellow Food52er Sara, who goes by hardlikearmour on the site, posted a recipe for Collards and Cheese Pasties.  The crust sounded wonderful and so I decided to give it a try for traditional pasty.  Absolute perfection!  This crust is so easy to make and so buttery that it almost melts in your mouth!  And so with Sara's permission, I'm offering up my pasty with her crust. Go here to see the Collards and Cheese Pasties recipe and hit the link to hardlikearmour's profile page.  She's a veterinarian living in the Pacific Northwest who has a passion for cake decorating and who has won many contests.

Thanks so much Sara!!

Sara's Crust:
1 cup water
1 cup unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp fine sea salt or table salt

In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil.  Remove from the heat and add the butter.  While the butter is melting, whisk dry ingredients together to blend in a separate bowl.  Once butter is thoroughly melted, stir the dry ingredients into the wet until well blended.  Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Filling:  (enough to make 4 large pasties)
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
2 cups diced potatoes(small dice)
2 medium carrots grated on the large holes of a box grater
1 cup diced onion
1 Tbl salt
1 Tbl black pepper
(Note: If you like, sub half of the potato with diced rutabaga)

Combine all the ingredients together until well mixed.
Take the crust out of the fridge and knead it a few times to blend in any pockets of butter that may have formed.  Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and roll each piece to form a 9 to 10 inch circle. Place 1/4 of the filling on the top third of the circle and fold the dough over the circle.  Fold the edges to seal. With a small knife cut a few air vents on top.
In a pre heated 375F oven bake the pasties on parchment lined baking sheets for 40 to 45 minutes, turning the sheets about halfway through.

Now go and enjoy with some gravy or ketchup or just as is!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Julie's Deviled Seafood

This seafood casserole was one my mom would make for Christmas, as part of a buffet and for company during the year.  It's very, very rich and very retro but oh so good!  Mom used lobster meat in this but feel free to use more reasonably priced langoustines in its place.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 cup finely chopped celery
1 medium green bell pepper, finely minced
1 cup finely sliced green onion
16 ounces king or lump crab meat, well picked over
16 ounces cooked lobster meat or langoustines, chopped
16 ounces cooked shrimp(preferably wild Gulf), chopped
2  1/2 cups coarsely crushed saltines
1 tsp salt
1  1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
Tabasco sauce to taste

Combine all the ingredients and pour them into a lightly buttered 2 quart baking dish.  bake in a pre heated 350F oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Dressed Up Lettuce Sandwich

Have you ever made yourself a lettuce sandwich....lettuce and mayo or butter sandwiched between two pieces of bread?  Sort of bland but supposedly great if you suffer from insomnia and eaten about a half hour before bed, or so they say.  I like them but to add a little pizazz I make them with a pimiento cheese mayo.

Makes almost as many sandwiches as you like.

Pimiento Cheese Mayo:
8 ounces medium cheddar, very finely grated
1 cup mayo
4 ounce jar diced pimientos, liquid included
1 Tbl prepared horseradish
1/4 tsp cayenne

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to let the flavors mingle.

For each sandwich:
2 slices sandwich bread of your choice, toasted or not
About one cup shredded sturdy lettuce such as Romaine or iceberg
A few spoonfuls of the Pimiento Cheese Mayo

Spread one side of each slice of bread with as much of the prepared mayo as you like. Top one side with the lettuce and place the other slice, mayo side down over the top.
Slice in half for easy eating. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Buy This Baking Dish!

If ever you're in the market for a new baking dish, consider this one from's clay and goes in the oven, in the microwave and even on top of the stove.  I know you've seen it on some of my posts...I just love it!

It's worth the $30 or $40  you'll spend!  See it here:

"Wild" Truffled Risotto

A basic risotto "dressed" up with wild rice and a bit of white truffle oil.

5 to 6 servings

3/4 cup rinsed and drained wild rice
2  1/2 cups water
3 cups chicken broth
3 Tbl butter
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup half and half
1 tsp minced summer savory
3 Tbl minced fresh flat leaf parsley
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 to 2 Tbl white truffle oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan, bring the water to the boil, stir in the wild rice and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes.  drain and set aside.
In another pan, bring the chicken broth up to a simmer and keep warm.
Melt the butter in about a 4 quart sauce pan or pot and gently saute the garlic for about a minute or until fragrant.  Add the arborio rice and stir until all the grains are completely coated with the butter.  Add the wine and over medium heat and while stirring pretty constantly, cook until the wine is almost evaporated.
Start adding the chicken broth, a ladle at a time, stirring all the while.  As the broth is absorbed in the rice, keep adding a little more broth until you've used it all.  This should take 20 to 30 minutes.
Add the half and half and continue stirring another few minutes until everything becomes nice and creamy. Stir in the wild rice, savory and parsley and then off the heat, stir in the parmesan and one tablespoon of the truffle oil.  If you like, add another tablespoon of the truffle oil, season with a bit of salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Braised Romaine and White Beans

I've always loved greens and beans and with a vegetable crisper filled with romaine, I thought I'd give it a try with lettuce.  I really like the warm bitter bite of the romaine.

2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 romaine lettuce hearts, chopped
1 tsp ground fennel seed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3/4 cups chicken broth
1  1/2 cups cooked white beans (Great Northern or Canellini) divided
3 or 4 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Parmesan shavings for serving

In a medium size sauce pan, gently saute the garlic in the olive oil for a minute or two until fragrant.  Add the chopped romaine and give everything a stir.
Add the salt, pepper, ground fennel and chicken broth and simmer everything for about a 10 minutes.
Mash 1/2 cup of the beans with the back of a fork and add then to the pot.  Continue to simmer another 3 or 4 minutes.
Add the remaining cup of beans, stir and heat until everything is nice and warm.  Stir in the basil.  Serve garnished with the Parmesan shavings.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Eating Your Way Healthy

I've recently met a woman named Jillian on the internet who describes herself as a yoga enthusiast and cancer advocate.  She works for and writes articles on  the importance of diet when dealing with cancer. She has asked me to post an article she has written on the topic.  Here it is:

Jillian also writes a number of blogs.  You can see her profile and connect to those blogs here:

Many of you may have or have a family member struggling with cancer.  Hopefully Jillian's articles will be of some help.

Thanks Jillian!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Italian Grilled Pork Chops

Marinate those pork shops in a little olive oil and Italian seasonings, throw them on the grill and enjoy!  Don't over cook them....pork shouldn't be dried out.  Buy chops with a little fat around the edges.

4 rib pork chops, about 3/4 inch thick
2 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced

Combine the seasonings, garlic and oil and rub all over the chops.  Place them in a freezer bag or container large enough to hold and marinate them in the fridge for a few hours, turning or shaking them once in a while.
Grill them outdoors or on a grill pan to your desired doneness. Heck you can even fry these if you like!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Roasted Fig, Feta and Pecan Salad

A great salad for lunch celebrating figs with a honey-lemon vinaigrette and a Spring mix of lettuces.

Serves 2 for lunch

Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette

4 Tbl fresh lemon juice
4 Tbl honey
2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake, shake shake!  Set aside.

For the salad:

1/2 cup pecan halves
5 fresh figs (I used Brown Turkey)
1 tsp honey
A few grains of sea salt
3 to 4 handfuls of mixed lettuces (Spring mix)
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese, preferably Bulgarian
The vinaigrette

Pre heat the oven to 350F.  Place the pecans on a small baking sheet and bake them for 5 to 7 minutes.  Set aside.
Raise the oven temp to 375F.  Stem and cut the figs in half and place cut side up on a baking sheet.  Drizzle the teaspoon of honey over the figs and then place a few grains of the sea salt over.  Roast for 15 to 20 minutes and then set aside to cool.
Toss the mixed greens with 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and then scatter them over a plate or platter.  Arrange the figs, pecans and Feta over and drizzle with more of the vinaigrette.  Enjoy.