I have made lots and lots of bread, staring while in college. Here are some of my all-time favorites:
- basic premises of bread-making
- French bread as Julia makes it and I try to
- yeast-risen bagels
- yeast-risen pita bread
- yeast-risen pizza dough
- non-yeast-risen, pour-on pizza crust for when you're in a hurry
- yeast-risen onion rolls
- non-yeast-risen Egyptian onion bread, another quickie
- non-yeast-risen Irish soda bread
- yeast-risen soft pretzels
- yeast-risen no-knead French bread, also for when you're in a hurry and/or want to minimize mess (ahem)
- sourdough bread, including how to make a starter from scratch. You can buy a commercial starter, if you prefer. There's a sourdough bread newsgroup, too, that you should check out if sourdough is your passion. Through them, my dad got a "swab" of dried starter that had come over the Oregon trail in the 1800s; he uses that for his starter. Anyway, cool stuff on this newsgroup.
- yeast-risen challah
- yeast-risen anadama bread
- hush puppies from the family recipe of a friend whose family farms peanuts in the South
- Here are brown-and-serve-type rolls, which were popular in the '50s and '60s
- Oatmeal pancakes are a favorite, but we have them only if there's plenty of time because you have to make the old-fashioned oatmeal first. The centers are creamy, not at all cake-y. A really great recipe!
- My mom makes a wonderful hot cereal that is incredibly easy to make. Make up the dry mix, measure out what you need, dump in some water, and toss it in the microwave. If you love oatmeal, you'll love this.
- Here's a foolproof method for cooking hardboiled (hardcooked) eggs. Works every time!
- Davie's Cheese Pastry, another great recipe from the woman who taught me so much about breadmaking. She also taught me: "If you want to know what your husband is thinking or doing, listen to him talk to his friends." Good advice.
- Julia Child's Brussels Sprouts in Cream is for those who hate Brussels sprouts. These are not strong-tasting; in fact, some folks can't even guess what they are! (One teenager last Thanksgiving thought they were artichokes!) If there are any leftovers, the cook has first shot at them. That's fair, right?
- Whether these beets were served at Harvard, I don't know. This is what my family called them. And they are fantastic. If you like a sweet-sour taste, you will love these, even if you think you don't like beets. Best served with pork chops (my mom sautéed them); dip a bite of pork into the extra sauce. Yum! (I've seen recipes for Harvard beets that aren't quite like this one. This one has a thick sauce and isn't as pucker-y.)
- If you're looking for some way to make canned beans more appealing, dill beans, a real Southern recipe, have always been a hit with my family.
- These broccoli timbales are a family favorite. Easy to make earlier in the day and refrigerate.
- Bean salad is not the sole province of the South, of course, but Southern practitioners of the bean salad-makers' art salute this version. You'll need a large bowl. A Tupperware cake-keeper turned upside down, so the base becomes the lid, is the traditional container in the South.
- Copper carrots are a relative of bean salad and are often served at the same meal. The dressing by itself is a tasty French-type salad dressing; adjust sugar and vinegar and rev up to your taste.
- Thai chicken salad - see recipe below, under entrées.
- If you like prime rib roast, you will love this one. And if you like prime rib and can never get it to come out to the correct degree of doneness, you will -love- this one! My daddy, a rocket scientist, put his considerable engineering skill to work concocting this never-fail recipe. The way he gave it to me was a good deal more complex (discussion of thermodynamics and all that, which I suppose he thought I'd understand). Here it is a simpler form. If you're a sailor and/or interested in celestial navigation, you might be interested in his celestial nav freeware. Ok, on with the beef.
- Chicken and noodles is everyone's comfort food. Here's how to make my mom's version, including how I ferreted out her secret!
- Here's a recipe for low-fat oven-fried chicken. Yeah, yeah, I can hear you: "Oven-fried chicken is always atrocious! A very faint shadow of what fried chicken really is." Well, this one isn't! The family agreed that this was fantastic "fried" chicken and would welcome eating it anytime I fixed it. Add some mashed potatoes, and, honey, that's gooooood eatin'!
- My friend Sue was kind of enough to share her fantastic recipe for Thai chicken with tossed salad and a peanut sauce.
- Here is the famous high-heat-roasted turkey. I have given a detailed version and a condensed version. Even if you print out the shortened version, I think you'll profit by reading the complete version, also.
- Mexican Lasagna is a great make-ahead dinner; it freezes well, and it's great for a crowd. Here are recipes for a quickie and a fancy version.
- There's no reason to buy the expensive "no-cook" lasagna noodles when you can make lasagna with plain old cheap noodles.
- You can do the same thing with raw manicotti "tubes."
- Continuing in the Italian vein, here's a wonderful recipe for
sausages in a divine tomato sauce with cream in it. Make plenty of sauce to go with some pasta. Never met anyone who didn't like this dish!
- Fettuccine Alfredo (the authentic recipe from Rome)
- Using lasagna noodles (uncooked), this mushroom pasticcio is made with both wild and domestic mushrooms. I buy a variety of fancy wild types (dried), which makes a subtle, but real, difference. If you like, make it with plain white domestic mushrooms from the grocery store; it still will be divine!
- If you've had "40 clove chicken," you know that the garlic flavor is subtle. This 40-clove soup is subtle, too. Leftovers make a wonderful pasta sauce; may need to thicken; cornstarch is my friend here.
- There are easy ways and tricky ways to make béarnaise
and hollandaise sauces. Here's a never fail way using the blender. Also how to salvage things when the sauce won't thicken or when it "turns."
- If you're looking for a simple salsa recipe, look no farther. This is from the father of one of my students. Uses canned tomatoes! Fresh herbs give it a started-with-raw-tomatoes taste, which is what I thought it was when I first tasted it.
- First things first! Chocolate chip cookies! I use the recipe on the back of the Nestle's chip package, but I double the dough. This means 3/4 c regular sugar and 3/4 c of brown sugar. If you want crispy cookies, use 1 c regular sugar and 1/2 c brown sugar. Don't undercook. If you want softer ones, use 1 c brown sugar and 1/2 c regular sugar. Very reliable!
- These oatmeal cookies are my son Andy's favorite cookie (he likes them better than chocolate chip cookies, if that can be believed!). When I married, the "ladies" in my grandmother's Sunday School class each wrote a favorite recipe for me. Many of them are for cookies. This was a real gift of love because writing was difficult for most of them, as witnessed by the spidery, arthritic handwriting. Mrs. Marion Grant gave me this recipe, and, God rest her, I hope she knows how many people she has made happy with it!
- These lemon squares are nice and tart. If you don't like really sweet cookies, you'll like these. Very nice for afternoon tea, too; the topping is sort of like lemon curd.
- Built on the same principle as the lemon squares, chewy noels are a recipe from the Fanny Farmer cookbook. My mom made them only at Christmas, and I could eat a whole pan at a sitting (I never got the chance to, though!). They don't look Christmas-y, so I make them year-round when I need a fancy cookie.
- Biscotti are wonderful with coffee.
- For many moons I hunted for the perfect sugar cookie. Finally, I found these! They are nice and short; and not cake-y.
- Even more exalted than the sugar cookies, above, is Oonagh's Genuine Scottish Shortbread, which is addictive. Luckily, it's pretty tricky to make well, so getting your fix will require effort and planning. In the interim, keep the sugar cookies on hand in the freezer!
- Here are some brown sugar shortbread cookies.
- These are sort of like shortbread (they're also called "Mexican Wedding Cookies," and you may have had them at Christmas shaped like quarter moons and called "Crescent Cookies"). There's a nice chocolate surprise inside the cookies!
First the chocolate desserts. Of course! More on my chocolate front door.
- Bête Noire is cheesecake-type recipe, very smooth and creamy, very "evil," very decadent. It's my choice when I need a smashing dessert for an important dinner party. It's not hard to make, and, to be honest, it beats (hands down) fancy chocolate desserts I've had in very tony restaurants!!
- Here are super-quick emergency brownies for those times when you need chocolate in a hurry and just can't wait. You can cut this into servings or eat right out of the pan (a spoon is most efficient); try to let them cool at least 30 seconds so you don't burn your mouth.
- Chocolate Truffles are incredibly easy to make and taste even better!
- Chocolate Fudge Sauce Cake creates it own hot fudge sauce on the bottom of the baking pan. This is one of my favorite desserts from childhood; Mama put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top - it tasted just like a hot fudge sundae!
- This English Toffee is quick to make and uses only four ingredients, one of which is chocolate!
And now some others:
- Apple Cinnamon Pizza is a pizza-like rustic apple tart. If your kids can make pizza, they can make this. Smells wonderful and tastes even better! This recipe is from my son, Matt, who's a chef.
- No-Bake Fruitcake is just what it says. Probably the quickest fruitcake you ever made. Also mostly fruits (and nuts) and hardly any cake. Just like the Southern brand, Claxton. Tastes wonderful! If you've never liked fruitcakes (a.k.a. bricks), but like the ingredient list, do try this; I think you'll change your fruitcake tune. In fact, I know you will.
- I use a pie crust recipe from noted humor writer Peg Bracken (who was at it before Erma Bombeck, whose work I also adore); I think it was from Peg's I Hate to Cook Book. It's easy as pie (no pun intended) to make. Simple recipe to remember. Easy to manipulate. I call it "never-fail." My sister makes pie crust with about 1 T of water, but I can't. So I use this recipe and haven't had any complaints. One batch is fine for a pie; make two for a double-crust pie or a quiche. This pie crust is part of the recipe for Davie's Cheese Pastry, mentioned above. For cocktail munchies, add cayenne, sesame seeds, finely-shredded cheese, etc. to the raw pastry; roll out, cut, and bake on cookie sheets. It's great for chicken pot pies, too (plain or add some dried herbs -- tarragon, perhaps? - - or poppy seeds). See also the sugar crust and cinnamon pastry roll-ups, below.
- Sugar crust was the main reason I wanted my mom to make a pie. I didn't particularly care about the pie, but I sure did want the trimmings! When I left home, one of the first things I did after learning how to make pie pastry was to make a whole batch of sugar crust. Kids love this, too! (Maybe that says something!)
- A cinnamon pastry derived from sugar crust is another of my favorites. I also made a whole batch of this early on in my culinary career! Now I make it often for the kids, or else a whole batch of sugar crust. Don’t roll it too thin.
- Here's a lemon pie that's "self-working." Can't beat it for speed!
- Caramel corn is a treat, and here's a way to make it in the microwave. And, please! It's not pronounced KAR-mell! It's CARE-uh-mell!
- This recipe for English trifle is a real winner. Great as a splashy finish to a dinner party. This recipe is from a Brit friend. Leftovers are good for breakfast! Hide these so you can get to them first.
- Similar to a trifle is the Italian dessert called tirami-sù. This dessert in its original form takes a while to make if you start by making mascarpone cheese and zabaglioni custard. Here's a very quick recipe that uses cream cheese and vanilla pudding. Since I found this recipe, I don't bother with the "real" one. No one has complained yet! These leftovers also make a great breakfast!
- You often need chocolate in a hurry (Emergency Brownies more than fill the bill in this event), but what if you want something cold and even quicker? Instant ice cream is the way to go. Uses the food processor and three ingredients (none of which is ice).
- Here's the stand-by from the 1960s: Coca-Cola Cake.
- Another old standby: the little cakes baked in an oven powered by a lightbulb. (You remember those, don't you?) You can buy pre-packaged mixes, or you can make up the little packets yourself. Here's a chocolate one.
- Most always unsuccessfully-duplicated, here's the real recipe for key lime pie.
- Here are my favorite icings, including one that just about everyone loves - - cream cheese icing!
- Chocolate Truffles are always a big hit. Here's a super-easy recipe that makes truffles that my guests think I slaved hours to make. No tempering chocolate, etc.
- I'm not a fan of raw cookie dough, but a lot of people are. Here's my recipe for raw cookie dough truffles, with commentary on candy-making and a helpful tool. Folks who like raw cookie dough rave about these. No eggs are used.
- One of my student's mom gave me some of these Pumpkin-Pie-Spiced Pecans, and they were so wonderful, I asked her if I could share the recipe here. Lucky you guys!
- Hot and Sweet Mustard. Actually this isn't hot (as in hot peppers) but sinus-clearing (as in horseradish!). Wonderful with ham, pork chops, sandwiches. Great on bagels and soft pretzels, too. And fabulous on a cracker topped with a smoked oyster. Must refrigerate because of the eggs, but it keeps almost indefinitely!
- If you use a smoker, you need to prep the meat before smoking. This calls for smoker salt. This is also what BBQers call a "dry rub."
Pickles and Preseves
- Pickled Ginger for Sushi. The store-bought stuff is awful and so not an option. You might be able to buy it at an Asian restaurant or Asian market, but often it's made with artificial sweetners, which have a bitter aftertaste. It's easy to make your own sushi ginger. Here's how.
- Quick and Easy Strawberry Preserves. Both are quick-quick. One uses frozen berries; the other uses figs (!).
- If you have never tried Watermelon Rind Pickles, you've been denying yourself too long. These are a great southern recipe. I've been to serve watermelon just to have the rinds!
- We had kumquat trees in our yard when I was a girl, and they were prolific! Therefore, we made a lot of kumquat marmalade. This stuff is yummy! I especially like to cook with it (as putting some in with liquids in a chicken casserole). Great substitute for chutney.
- Here's my recipe for coffee mocha.
- When you want a cup of hot cocoa you don't want to fiddle around with a saucepan and cold milk from the refrigerator. Here's a dry mix you can keep on hand. (A recipe for a foaming hot cocoa bath is on my fun stuff page.)
- I always get good reviews and requests for the recipe for this punch I serve at my piano recitals. There's also a recipe for a punch I serve at my Halloween recital.
- I know we're supposed to call these "hard-cooked eggs" these days, but to me they'll always be "hard-boiled eggs" . Here's a fail-proof recipe that will work with one egg or a potful.
St. Patrick's Day Dinner
A friend from Dublin tells me that his family always had a roasted turkey on St. Patrick's Day and that the corned beef tradition is from New York City! Regardless, here's what I serve for dinner on St. Pat's: corned beef with mustard glaze, vegetables (yes, cabbage, too), green beans (fresh), Irish soda bread, and a cake with Irish whiskey in it. In this file, I include alternative recipes for Colcannon and for other similar Irish cakes. No green beer, though!
Fun Stuff, Kid Stuff, and Oddities
Here you will find recipes and instructions for clays, invisible ink, magic garden, paste, finger paint, etc. for kids. Also how to make gum drops, dry mix refills for the Easy-Bake Oven chocolate cakes (this information is hard to find!), marshmallows, candy sponge, and whatever else I can find to put there. Also: bath salts, facial exfoliators and scrubs, lip balm, solid perfume, hot and cold packs, air fresheners/pot pourris, etc.
My poodle page has many recipes for dog biscuits.
When you make dog treats: avoid onions, garlic, grapes, and raisins, among other things.
This file gives you precise information about amounts of different things to fix for a reception-type party, right down to the number of paper plates to allow.
It's part of the business section of the piano section of my site.
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Last updated June 15, 2010.