Monday, May 30, 2016

German Potato Salad




German Potato Salad
(Serves 8-10)

4 1/2 lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 (12-oz.) pkg. Bacon
1 lg. Onion
2 T. Flour
2 tsp. Salt

1/4 tsp. Pepper
3/4 c. Sugar
1/2 c. Vinegar

1 1/3 c. Water

     Boil the potatoes just until tender, drain, cool, and cut into 1/2 inch chunks. Set aside. Cut the bacon into 1 inch slices. Fry the bacon until brown in a 5 1/2 quart Dutch oven on medium heat. Dice the onion, add to the bacon, and fry until soft. Keep all the bacon fat in the pan. Add the flour, salt, and pepper. Simmer on low heat a minute or two stirring constantly. Add the sugar, vinegar, and water. Bring to a simmer stirring often until syrup-like. Adjust vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste. Pour over the potatoes and mix gently.

Note: Grama always said, "The flavor is in the fat." I never quite knew how much of a difference it made until I took it out of the dish before continuing one time. For this dish the fat stays! Grama was right.

Find this recipe and 139 more great recipes in:


                                                                                    
I am so excited to introduce my digital book, Comfort Food Cookbook: Highlighting American, German, Norwegian, and English Heritage Recipes which is now available on iBooks®.

Available on iBooks®



                                                          

                                                                                                                  

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     This is a comfort food cookbook that speaks to your soul.  It nourishes the body as well as the mind.  It is what your grandparents cooked on Sundays; it is holiday traditions.  These 140 recipes are the dishes that make my family feel loved and happy inside. The dishes are warm, gooey, savory, sweet, and sour.  I have highlighted the American, German, Norwegian, and English style of cooking I grew up with, because that is what I know and want to share with you.   I grew up in the Midwest where I went with my German grandmother to a small family farm for fresh vegetables every week in the spring, summer, and fall.  Dishes such as her sweet and sour German Potato Salad with bacon is unbeatable.  Plenty of braises such as Beef Brisket with Honey Mustard Glaze will fill your home with mouth watering aromas.  Drink a cup of Norwegian Gløgg with some Meatballs with Gravy and Lingonberries.  White Macaroni and Cheese with goat cheese and coconut milk updates the traditional dish.  English Prime Rib and Yorkshire Pudding finished with a Christmas Plum Pudding topped with brandied Hard Sauce creates an impressive holiday meal.  Originally these recipes were in print in 2011 under the title, Exceptional Comfort: The Recipes: Volume I, without the extensive photography.  Now enjoy this enhanced edition with hundreds of pictures as you scroll through the Appetizers and Beverages, Soups and Salads, Vegetables and Side Dishes, Main Dishes, Breads and Muffins, Desserts, Cookies, and Sauces and Condiments.  The first page of each recipe has a scrolling ingredient list with a featured photograph.  The ingredient list is shown again alongside the instructions on the next page, so the cook doesn’t need to swipe back and forth.  Many of the picture galleries show stages of preparation.  It is my intention to give the gift of Exceptional Comfort.  Enjoy!

Screenshots










Friday, April 29, 2016

Pea Pasta Salad with Chipotle Chili Pepper

     The key flavor ingredients are the chipotle chili powder which you can find in the spice section of your grocery store and honey mustard.  If you can't find honey mustard, then add a bit of honey to Dijon mustard until it begins to have a sweet quality to it.  Chipotle chiles are smoke dried jalapeños.  They give the salad a bit of a smoky heat which rounds out the flavors of the dish and makes you want to dig in for another helping.  The honey mustard gives the dish a sharp yet sweet taste at the same time.  Also contributing to the dish are the shallots with natural garlic and onion flavors.  And finally there is the freshly chopped dill.  The fernlike leaves of this gentle herb is unique unto itself.  On its own it seems gentle in flavor, yet has a powerful impact when added to a dish.  Feel free to double this recipe to feed a crowd.


Pea Pasta Salad with Chipotle Chili Pepper

(Serves 6)

12 oz. Tricolor Rotini Pasta
12 oz. Frozen Peas
1 Shallot Bulb peeled and finely diced
2 T. Freshly Chopped Dill
1 1/4 c. Canola Mayonaise (Non GMO)
1/2 c. Plain Goat Yogurt (may use cow yogurt if preferred)
1/4 tsp. Chipotle Chili Powder
1 tsp. Onion Powder
3 T. Honey Mustard
Salt to taste

Cook Pasta according to directions until al dente.  Drain and set aside in a large bowl.  Cook peas in a sauce pan with water half way up the peas until just tender.  Drain and add to the pasta, then let cool.  Mix in the shallot and dill.  In a separate bowl, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, chipotle chili powder, onion powder, and honey mustard.  Whisk until smooth and add to the cooled pasta.  Gently combine.  Salt to taste.  Adjust chipotle chili powder to taste.  Transfer to a serving dish, cover and store in the refrigerator.



Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Creative Ways to Add Greens to Your Diet - Cooking Tip


     One way to get healthy leafy greens into your diet is to add them to something else you are already making.  I don't always want to make a separate dish with my greens, but I usually do want them cooked.  Adding greens such as green Swiss chard or rainbow chard, bok choy, etc. can add beautiful color to your meat sauces.  They usually don't take over or alter the flavor of the dish either.  I like adding them to spaghetti and chili.  That way I instantly get an added boost of vitamins with every serving!
     Another way to incorporate them is to put them in a casserole.  I have also added baby bok choy to shepherd's pie, and Swiss chard to lamb paté, curry, and chutney.
     I always add roughly chopped greens near the end of the cooking time if it is simmering in a pot  on the stove.  In the case of the shepherd's pie, I cooked the meat filling on the stove, adding the greens right before transferring to the baking dish.  For lamb paté, I put the uncooked greens on the flattened meat before rolling it up.  Try out the recipe for the Lamb Paté with Swiss Chard, Goat Cheese, and Garlic or Lamb Paté with Sweet Potato, Chèvre, and Swiss Chard.  They cook up quickly; we don't want them cooked to extinction.  In a few minutes you have a beautiful, healthy addition to your dish.

Lamb Paté with Swiss Chard, Goat Cheese, and Garlic

Lamb Paté with Swiss Chard, Goat Cheese, and Garlic


Cranberry Chard Chutney with Maple Sausage

Pumpkin Lamb Curry with Swiss Chard

Lamb Paté with Sweet Potato, Chèvre, and Swiss Chard

Lamb Paté with Sweet Potato, Chèvre, and Swiss Chard



Green Swiss Chard Added to a Thrown Together Chili


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Boston Brown Bread Steamed in a Pudding Mold- Recipe

My earliest memories of Boston Brown Bread are from childhood.  I remember my father steaming the bread in a can and watching it slide out.  It had a dark molasses flavor and a moist, yet slightly chewy texture with raisins.  For some reason I have been craving that special deep flavor from the rye, corn meal, and whole wheat bread.  I don't have any large cans to use, but I do have steamed pudding molds with lids.  Perfect!  Here is my brown bread recipe steamed in a pudding mold.  I did a few trials to find just the right amount of molasses.  I prefer using goat yogurt, but cow yogurt is fine.  The results are fantastic!  I have completely satisfied my brown bread yearnings.

Boston Brown Bread Steamed in a Pudding Mold.


Boston Brown Bread looks beautiful in the shape of a pudding mold.

Boston Brown Bread Steamed in a Pudding Mold

( One 1 1/2 Quart Mold Serves 8)

1 c. Cornmeal
1 c. Whole Wheat Flour
1 c. Rye Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
2/3 c. Molasses
3/4 c. Goat Yogurt
1 1/4 c. Water
1 c. Raisins

     Start by filling water in a pasta pot with a holed insert on the stove.  The insert will lift the mold so it does not sit directly on the bottom of the pot.  Measure the water by putting in the empty pudding mold.  It should go up 3/4 of the way.  Adjust the water level if necessary.  When you have the water level set, start heating it up to a simmer.  In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, whole wheat, rye flour, baking soda, and salt.  In a measuring cup, combine the molasses, yogurt, and water.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Finally, mix in the raisins. and pour into a greased 1 1/2 qt. tin pudding mold until the batter reaches about 2/3 of the way.  It will need room to rise.  You may have some batter left over, but don't force it in.  Grease the lid and securely place on the mold.  Carefully place the mold into the water and simmer for 1 hour and 10 minutes, without covering the pasta pot.  Add hot water without pouring directly onto the lid to maintain the water level.  To check for doneness, take the mold out and open the lid.  Insert a cake tester in the center, and if done, it should come out clean.  Also the bread should not look wet.  If you need to steam some more, cover mold and put back into the water for another 10 minutes and check again.  When done, take the mold out of the water and let it cool for 10 minutes before unmolding onto a cooling rack.

My 1 1/2 qt. steamed pudding mold.  Same one I use for the Christmas plum pudding.

Boston Brown Bread with butter.

Monday, March 7, 2016

My Downton Abbey Goodbye

     Spoiler Alert*******
     Last night I was ready for the finale of Downton Abbey along with millions of other American fans.  I had my teapot ready.  Out of the freezer came the leftover Christmas Plum Pudding and Christmas cookies.  I thought the traditional British Christmas pudding would be perfect for the last Christmas special.  Besides the story line, fabulous costumes, and architecture I loved the show for it's historical view into a time not so long ago, yet very different from now.  Practices that seemed strange to us were revealed to have explanations that made sense at the time.  Women had such few choices and the way the inheritance rules were discriminatory, finding a good match was their only option.  The competition between sisters was probably brutal in most aristocratic families.

     Since they had lives of leisure and servants dressing and drawing their baths, cooks making their meals, nannies raising their children, and agents looking after their estate, what was keeping them from flying off the handle and going completely bonkers?  Those rigid ritualistic rules of course.  Ever wonder why they had such rules at the dining table?  The manners of how they stood, sat, spoke, and ate with one another ruled every moment.  The gloves on the lap at dinner.  Talking to one person on one side of you then turning to the other at the cue of the hostess to give everyone a fair amount of chat time.  Zillions of spoons for all kinds of special foods.  Dinner parties were very important for the reputation of Edwardian families.  Chefs could earn up to ten times that of the butler.  However, women were merely cooks.  They referred to Mrs. Patmore as a cook rather than chef.  I somehow doubt that she earned more than Carson.

     Am I sad that it has ended?  Yes, but not quite as distraught as some.  While I thoroughly enjoyed the last season, I admit I am a bit disappointed in the story line of Mary.  Firstly, she completely lost her mind and gave in to everyone's urging to marry the race car driver, what's his name, -oh Henry.  Yes, she barely knows the guy, and I wonder if she can remember his name as well.  Mary of season 1, 2, 3, 4,  and 5 would not have been spam-for-brains and put herself in a post traumatic stress hell living with a race car driver.  Granted, although he decided it wasn't fun to race anymore with his buddy gone, she had no indication he would stop before she married him.  Secondly, Julian Fellowes allowed her to sink to an all time low when she outed Edith's illegitimate daughter and ruined her engagement to yet another love.  This was more evil than she had ever done before.  So now as the dark lordess of the manor, what happens next?  Granny says one word, and she does an about face and fixes the whole thing.  After a lifetime of Edith bashing, now we have compassion and want to change.  Same with Barrow, who was the evil trouble maker for 5 seasons.  His nature turned around after his suicide attempt.  While I am happy for both complex characters (both were not all evil), and glad they had happy endings, I feel their endings were unrealistic for the time period and the story line, and the show had been realistic dealing with those characters up until this last episode.

     Carson and the Countess seem to have sadder endings that people don't reflect on in all the hoopla.  Both are facing the health troubles of old age and forced to step aside, halting their lives as they had lived them for so long.  I find it very sad for them.  Now that is real, and Julian Fellowes did not mess with that.  At least he gave them the dignity of keeping their stories real, and did not throw frosting all over it in an attempt to sugar coat it.

     I am grateful to have been able to enjoy this wonderful series and look forward to seeing them all over again.  Come Sunday I will bring out the teapot, pop in a DVD, and start with episode 1, season 1, and enjoy it all over again.


Me dressed for a Downton Abbey Tea Party.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Cream of Broccoli Soup with Salt Pork and Sharp Cheddar Cheese - Recipe

     How does one get their kids or husband, for that matter, to eat broccoli and be happy about it?  Asking too much?  I think not.  Try this creamy, cheesy soup loaded with salt pork and flavor!  Yes, the secret weapon is first and foremost salt pork, an often underused powerhouse of flavor that can make a fabulous base for so many  dishes.  I use lean salt pork that has about 1/3 fat and 2/3 meat, so I render enough fat and flavor to sauté my vegetables and also get the wonderful chunks of pork.  Next up are organic vegetables which are more flavorful that conventional and a good chicken broth (preferably not from a can).  Make your own or buy an organic broth.  A sharp cheddar cheese that is very sharp and heavy cream that is preferably grass fed are the final touches that make all the difference.  Don't feel too guilty about the cream, we only are adding 1/2 cup to the whole pot.  Each serving gets only 1/12 of a cup, yet it makes a huge difference in the final product.  Nothing does it better than cream.



Cream of Broccoli Soup with Salt Pork and Sharp Cheddar Cheese

(Serves 6)

3/4 lb. Salt Pork cut into (1/2-inch) cubes
1 Onion chopped
3 Ribs Celery chopped
3 Carrots peeled and chopped
2 Potatoes peeled, and cut into (1/2-inch) cubes
4 c. Chicken Broth
1 lb. Broccoli cut into soup spoon size pieces
8 oz. Sharp Cheddar Cheese grated with the larger wholes of a cheese grater
3 T. Regular All Purpose Flour
1/2 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
Salt to taste (usually not necessary!)

     Fry the salt pork in a large Dutch oven or stock pot on medium heat until it begins to turn golden.  Add the onion, celery, and carrots and sauté until the onion is translucent.  Add the potatoes and sauté for two minutes.  Add the chicken broth and broccoli.  Cover and simmer on low for 5-10 minutes just until the potatoes and broccoli are al dente.  Mix the flour and cheese in a bowl, then add to the soup stirring on low until the cheese melts and lightly simmer for a minute stirring constantly.  Add the cream and stir until creamy and smooth.  Taste and add salt if needed.  Serve immediately.

Browning the salt pork.




Sautéing the vegetables.

Adding the broccoli.


Stirring in the cheese.


Adding the cream.