Pasta Salad!

Some things are simply better when made the night before.  My pasta salad is the perfect example!

 

 

 

 

A few extra minutes after dinner tonight and tomorrow’s dinner is finished!  This gorgeous green bowl of goodness is happily sitting in my refrigerator, its flavors melding together in perfect harmony! I’ve been making this dish for so long I don’t use a recipe.

To be fair, it tastes slightly different every time and I don’t think that’s a bad thing!  Let me know if it looks like something you’d like to try and I’ll sit down and write the recipe for it!

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Ratatouille Nicoise

In celebration of “Hug a Vegetarian” Day,  here is the recipe for Ratatouille Nicoise from my most recent cooking class!  This is an easy recipe, but takes about an hour to prepare.  Ratatouille is a peasant soup and can be served hot or cold.  The Nicoise part comes from the type of olives used in the dish.  Prepared as presented, this will easily serve 8 to 10 people.  What a great way to celebrate a Fall evening with your friends!  To temp you, here is a photo of the finished product!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ratatouille Nicoise

3 TBLS olive oil

2 onions, chopped

1 red pepper, diced

1 yellow pepper, diced

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 Eggplant, diced

2 zucchini, diced

1 28 oz can plum tomatoes, chopped with their juices

1 tsp thyme chopped

1 bay leaf

salt, pepper

2 TBLS tomato paste

3 TBLS chopped basil

1 cup Nicoise or Kalamata olives, pitted

Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions

1. Heat 1 TBLS of the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onions, peppers and garlic until softened and slightly browned, about 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile heat a large skillet with the remaining 2 TBLS oil and add the eggplant and zucchini.  Saute over medium heat until lightly browned about 7 minutes.  Add to the onions.

3. Add the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, salt, pepper, tomato paste and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally for 20 – 25 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

4. Add basil and olives and serve with parmesan on top, if desired.

 

 

 

 

 

Craving Crepes – Recipe!

Yesterday, I took a class with Chef Amanda Cushman.  Here was our menu:

This was a hands-on class, so everyone had a chance to chop, dice, chiffonade, and sear!  We also took turns making crêpes.  If you’ve followed for a while, you know we made crêpes in a different class not that long ago.  I fell IN LOVE with crêpes!  The recipe that follows is simple and the possibilities for fillings are endless.  You can make them sweet or savory, large or small.  They can be folded or rolled.  They can be breakfast, lunch, dinner or mid-afternoon snacks.  I learned yesterday that crêpes can be frozen!  You could spend an afternoon making crêpes, freeze them and have them when you get a crêpe craving!  I love that idea!

Here is some inspiration for you!  This one is stuffed with apples and covered with homemade caramel sauce.  YUM!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doesn’t that look delicious?  You want to make them now, don’t you?  It’s ok.  You can be honest.  I know I want to make more!  Here is Chef Amanda Cushmans Basic Crepe Batter:

Basic Crepe Batter – makes about 20 – 6 inch crepes

Ingredients

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (We used King Arthur Flour)

1/4 tsp. salt

6 TBLS melted butter

Directions:

1. Combine eggs and milk in a blender and blend for 30 seconds.  Add flour and salt and mix well.

2. Transfer to a sieve over a quart size mixing bowl.  Allow batter to rest for 30 minutes or chill overnight.

3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and then whisk into the batter.

4. Melt a small amount of butter in a crêpe pan (you will only need to do this for the first crêpe.)  Add a scant 1/4 cup of the batter to the pan.  Swirl the pan right away to cover the bottom completely.  You want your crêpes very thin!  Cook about one minute – or until the sides and top begin to look dry – then flip over.  Cook the other side for about a minute or until golden.  HINT: You will know when it’s finished cooking when you can slide it easily around the pan.

5. Transfer the crêpes to a baking sheet and continue until you are finished with the batter.

6. The crêpes can be frozen at this point.  Simple stack them, wrap them in plastic wrap and tuck them in the freezer!  When you have a crêpe craving, just thaw overnight (or a few hours) in the refrigerator.  Here is one of my finished crepes from class yesterday:

I think this next one came out looking like Guy Fieri!  At least if you turn your head and squint a little bit, it does.. Hahaha!

Next time we’ll talk about filling options and that wonderful homemade caramel sauce…  Stay tuned!

More of Mom’s Memories…

This was Mom’s E-mail from this afternoon…  I hope you are as captivated as I am!  Next time I see her, I will have to get pictures to go along with these stories!

 

Hi, Sara,

 

I have a few minutes before dinner is ready…

 

As I mentioned before, Grandmother and Granddad BK had a large family — not terribly large by early 1900 standards, but certainly large for those of us in this century.  Grandmom relied a lot on her garden to keep food on the plates.  The garden was tended primarily by Grandmom and the children, particularly the female children, but the males did help when the heavier tasks were required.

 

Thanks to the garden, Grandmom had a staple supply of vegetables — which could be consumed or used as barter to get grits, flour, etc., from Mr. Becker’s store (the only one in the little town — and a story in itself!).  I remember special dishes that Grandmom saved for large gatherings:  a rice “salad” served cold with pineapple and raisins, a large bowl of grits, potato salad or mashed potatoes (always with gravy), fish that was caught by the men, of all ages, in the family and fowl which was brought back from hunting excursions.  Grandmom had a large chicken yard — and was constantly admonishing us to “not” chase the chickens!

 

Did I mention that my grandparents did not have running water, indoor plumbing or even electricity until my mom, as a new teacher, paid to bring it to the house.  Water was obtained from the well in the back yard; we had a water bucket with a ladle on the back porch.  As a child, one of the first things you learned was to take only what you would drink.  Putting back what you left in the ladle was absolutely forbidden — and water was too precious to waste.  Grandmom cooked on a large cast iron wood-burning stove.  It even had a marvelous water reservoir on the top so that she could heat water when she needed it.

 

Oops, time to get back to work on the quiche — with renewed thanks for the modern conveniences we have come to expect in our lives!

 

Love ya,

Mom

Sara’s 3×3’s (Pretzel Turtle Recipe)

Hi, friends!

I picked up an old recipe book and sat down determined to share something with all of you today.  As I was flipping through the book, I discovered an old recipe (from Jr. High Home Economics Class in ’80!  EKK! )since I haven’t made it in a while, (probably since ’81. HA!)  I wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing it with you.  It’s a biscuit recipe that starts like this:  “Mix together in a blender…”  Yeah.  I’m a little afraid too.

However, the foodies fairies were lookin’ out for all of you and I ran across a recipe I modified from AllRecipes.com.  I’ve used this pretzel turtle recipe as sweet treat to share at business meetings. They were such a hit, I had to Email the recipe to the meeting participants the very next day. They would be just as good for girl scouts, school birthday parties and to give away as gifts.  I call them 3 x 3’s because there are only three ingredients, you bake them at 300 degrees for three minutes.  I know.  This one is rough. I think you can handle it though. 🙂   So here you go… your sweet treat for Sunday!

Sara’s 3 by 3’s (Pretzel Turtles)  

Ingredients:

30 butter snap pretzels

30 chocolate covered caramel candies (I used Rolo candy)

30 pecan halves

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Place pretzel snaps on a parchment covered cookie sheet.  Place one caramel candy piece on top of each pretzel.

Bake for three minutes!  Take them out of the oven.  While they are still warm, press a pecan half on top of each candy piece.  It should smoosh nicely. (Do you like my complex and technical terms? ) Cool completely and store in an airtight container.  That is, if they last long enough for you to store them.  They are addictive!  Enjoy!

My Mom’s memories

My cooking class was cancelled Tuesday night.  I was seriously bummed!  I was looking forward to making risotto.  Oh well, next time!  The rest of this week has just flown by!  I’ve been too busy to post anything, much less cook anything.  This morning I am feeling very “Foodie” though and am having to restrain myself from bombarding my Facebook page with shared links of “OH!  Look at this!”  “Doesn’t that look delicious?” and “Who else wants to try THIS?!?” and “I’m going to make this, here is the recipe!”

Even though the week has been busy, the best part was getting Emails from my Mom about her childhood food memories.  I’ve already shared with you my memories of Grandma’s cooking, so it’s been really fun getting her version.  Here is an exert from her E-mails:

“My earliest memories of food involve my Grandmother in Bryantsville.  Since Dad was moving around so much in the Navy and we were following him around, we seldom got to Kentucky.  But when we did, brother and I  hugged our grandparents and then immediately flew through the house toward the box where Grandmom kept cold biscuits.  They were absolutely delicious!  Those biscuits did not need oleo or jam; they were fresh-baked every meal.  Anyone who was hungry in-between meals was invited to grab a biscuit!  Although my mom made biscuits occasionally, biscuits at Grandmom’s were the best — and you could always count on there being enough for grandchildren!

All the women in the family were good cooks.  My aunts cooked alongside Grandmom as soon as they were old enough to safely be in the kitchen.  My mom’s aunts, like Grandmom, were almost legendary for their cooking.  Mom always told us she had six aunts and they were all plump except one.  But Mom never failed to add — and she was a good cook, too.  (That era may be the start of the slogan I have seen in many country restaurants, “Never trust a skinny cook!”)  **SARA’S NOTE: See!!! THIS IS WHERE I GOT IT FROM!!  :-)**

Grandmother BK cooked for a large family; she had eight children. The boys, with my Granddad, worked in the tobacco fields, augmented during off-season by working in construction or any other jobs they could find.  They worked hard — and ate well.  Grandmom saw to it!

My other grandmother lived in the “city”, not a big one, but much larger than the community of Bryantsville.  Grandmother BD was a good cook — but I remember most how she would always see that we had plenty of sliced cantaloupe and, when the grandkids were all together, enough canned olives to make sure no one went hungry!  When olives eventually came pitted, the grandkids competed to see who could eat the most or hold the most on their fingers!

I remember Sunday dinners with Grandmother BD, Granddad and our family after church.  Dinner cooked while we attended church and was ready almost immediately after we returned home.

Sunday dinners at Grandmom BK also involved dinner cooking while we were in church.  Grandmom played the piano for the community church; attendance was a must for the whole family.  Afterwards, we all gathered in the big dining room — all of Mom’s siblings and as many in-laws, cousins, etc., as were in the neighborhood.  After the beginning prayer of thanks, dinner was a boisterous affair with enough food to eat sumptuously at dinner (mid-day meal) and have enough to form a base for supper (evening meal) for those who were still in the house.

I remember sitting on the porch swing with my aunts, mother or grandmother,  snapping beans, shelling peas and talking.  I smile just thinking about the memories…

And I haven’t really even gotten to my memories of my mom’s cooking.  More later, even if the dryer buzzer keeps me from doing it today!”

I love my Mom!  I can’t wait to read what she shares next!!
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