Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Black Currant Crumble

July 9th, 2009 No comments

This one is for anyone who craves black currants in a crumble with a sparkling taste and simple ingredients.  The topping is economical and multi-purpose.  Use it for any fruit crumble and for Dutch apple pie.  This recipe serves eight, but the ingredients lend themselves to smaller batches.

Oven: 375 degrees, f.


  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter or solid margarine


  • 4 cups fresh black currants
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 2/3 to 1 cup sugar*

Prepare the topping by cutting the topping ingredients together with pastry fork.  Set aside.  Wash, drain, and tail and top the currants, and set them aside.  Mix the cornstarch and water together until very smooth.  Stir the sugar into the cornstarch mixture.  Gently  stir the mixture into the prepared berries and set aside to rest 15 minutes in an oven-proof dish.  Sprinkle the topping over the currant mixture and pat the topping down lightly.  Bake in a pre-heated oven until the crumble is golden and bubbly.

*The lesser amount of sugar makes a tart crumble, the kind we like.  We recommend using the lesser amount the first time you try the recipe– and go from there.

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Oh My Stars! Hot Chocolate

June 12th, 2009 No comments

We took a Thermos and two large china mugs when we went star-gazing last night near the intersection of Tiptop Road and Highway 49.  Oak trees were silhouetted like black lace on the horizon.  The sun-glow receded, and the inky sky revealed a million stars.  The Big Dipper.  Arcturus.  The Scorpion.

Star-gazing and a Thermos are a tradition with us.  Sometimes it’s hot soup.  This time it was chocolate, and not the “instant” kind.  It’s easy and economical to make hot chocolate from powdered cocoa, and the result is delicious and satisfying– without all the mystifying additives you find in the “instant” packets.

Recipes abound on the Internet and in cookbooks.  I like  the one in an old edition of the “Joy of Cooking,” and I pep it up by making it less dilute.  Here’s how I make enough for two large mugs:

  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 1/4 cups scalded milk

In the top of a metal double-boiler I stir the dry ingredients together and add the hot water.  I leave the pan over low direct heat for a minute as I continue to stir the mixture.  Then I place it over the bottom half of the double-boiler, which contains the requisite amount of boiling water.  Now I whisk in the hot milk.  If there is time, I allow the mixture to continue to cook at moderate heat, covered, over the boiling water for 10 minutes.  Then I give it a whisk and pour it into the Thermos.

Add stars and you have the recipe for a delicious evening.

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A Recipe for Pot Roast

May 28th, 2009 No comments

An unceremonious name indeed for a succulent, economical dish.  This one has an afterlife.  Use the leftover meat in a beef pie, or slice it for sandwiches.

  • 2 to 5-pound boneless cross rib, chuck, or shoulder-clod roast
  • 1 10-ounce can beef consommé, undiluted*
  • 2 t. lemon juice
  • 2 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 to 4 bay leaves
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/8 t. ground cloves
  • 2 garlic cloves, whole (optional)
  • two medium, quartered onions (optional)
  • whole carrots

Brown the meat on all sides, using a liberal amount of cooking oil.  After the meat is brown, pour off the excess oil and add the consommé, lemon juice, spices, and, if you wish, the garlic.  Cook, covered, for two hours in a 325-degree oven.  Now add the onions, if you are going to, and the carrots.  (The vegetables may be placed on top of the meat or directly in the broth– they do not have to be covered by the liquid.)  Continue to cook, covered, for an additional hour.

Remove the dish from the oven, pour off the broth, and leave the meat and vegetables covered while you make a luscious gravy from the broth.

*or two cubes of beef bouillon + 1 1/4 cups water

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Broccoli Just Right Every Time

May 19th, 2009 No comments

This isn’t a recipe per se— it’s a series of pronouncements that will produce al dente broccoli.  Decide how much broccoli you wish to prepare, wash it, and cut it into florets.  Select a saucepan large enough to hold the broccoli comfortably.  Fill the pan with enough water to cover the broccoli when the time comes.  Salt the water and bring it to a boil.  Toss the broccoli into the boiling water, and cook it on moderate-to-high heat for two minutes.  That’s it!  Remove the pan from the heat, and serve the broccoli immediately.

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A Prized Recipe for Egg-Free Orange Filling

May 18th, 2009 No comments

Here is our favorite recipe for orange filling.  You’ll use it often for cakes and tarts. because it is so simple and inexpensive.  And your vegan friends (or you, if you are one) will appreciate the fact that this recipe contains no eggs.  It’s important to use smallish, flavorful oranges for this one– not the big, watery kind with thick skins.  Navels are all right if the are small, or try Valencias.

Stir together in a heavy saucepan–

  • I cup sugar
  • 4 T. cornstarch
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 T.* grated orange rind (requires four or more small oranges)
  • 1 1/2 T. lemon juice
  • 2 T. butter or solid margarine
  • 1/2 t. salt

Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a good, solid boil (almost “rolling”) over medium heat, and continue boiling for one minute (continuing to stir as well).  Cool the mixture before using.

*  We suggest you experiment.  Use this amount the first time.  If you want to ramp up the orange flavor the next time, try using 3 T.

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Bakewell Tarts

May 18th, 2009 No comments

These British treats are delectable, complex in flavor, and easy to make.  If you are lucky, you already have a set of the individual tart pans that you’ll need (mine are fluted and a bit more than an inch in diameter at the base and a little less than three inches at the top).

Short pastry (enough for a standard two-crust pie– recipe given below)


  • 4 oz. butter or solid margarine
  • 4 oz. fine sugar (baker’s or “caster’)
  • 4 oz. ground almonds
  • 2 well-beaten eggs
  • 1 t. almond extract
  • Seedless raspberry jam
  • White powdered sugar icing

Prepare the pastry and allow it to “rest.” Then roll it out the pastry and divide it among about 20 tart pans.  (The pastry is baked inside the fluted pans.) Pre-bake the shells for five minutes at 400 degrees.  Remove the shells from the oven, but leave them in the pans.

Now prepare the filling. Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs and almond extract and stir together.  Put one teaspoon of the jam in each tart shell and then add about two teaspoons of the filling.  Bake about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

After the tarts have cooled a bit, you should be able to remove them easily from the pans.

Make the icing according to the directions on the powdered sugar package and spread the icing on the cooled tarts.

Short pastry for a two-crust pie or for 20 tarts

  • 2 1/4 cups pre-sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup or less of water

Stir the flour and salt together and cut in the shortening until the lumps in the mixture are, on average, pea-size.  Lightly mix in enough of the water to make the dough easy to handle.  Form it together, lightly, into a ball; cover it, and allow it to rest for at least ten minutes at room temperatire before rolling it out on a floured pastry cloth or floured waxed paper.

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Chicken Curry Sauce/Pie/Soup

May 7th, 2009 No comments

Here is the recipe for a simple curry sauce that you can use as a base for pot-pie or soup.  Make the sauce in a frying pan over low to medium heat.  Start with a pint of chicken stock or chicken gravy, or even plain water.  Thicken* the liquid with one-fourth cup flour.  Stir in two chicken bouillon cubes and one of vegetable “bouillon.Add one teaspoon sugar and two teaspoons each of Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice.  Add one teaspoon of yellow curry powder.  Season further with salt and pepper, and add bay leaf and a sprinkle of sage, rosemary or thyme if you like.

To make pot-pie, place a layer of cooked, boned chicken in the bottom of a round baking dish.  Add a layer of halved, raw Brussels sprouts, followed by a layer of raw carrot chunks (each about 1/2 inch long). Over this, pour some of the sauce, with any bay leaf removed. It is important not to use too much sauce, because you do not want the pie crust resting in it.  Use just enough so that the carrots are not quite covered.  Leftover sauce can be thinned and used in soup.  Top the pie with short-crust pastry,** seal the edges, cut vents in the center, and brush with beaten egg.  Bake the pot-pie at  375 degrees until the crust is golden, about one hour.  (About four servings.)

To make chicken curry soup, start with about a pint of sauce, with any bay leaf removed, and thin it to the consistency of a hearty soup.  Stir it constantly as you heat it.  Add pre-cooked vegetables such as  carrot chunks and halved Brussels sprouts.  Last, add bite-size chunks of cooked chicken and a generous amount of medium-dice celery.  As you serve the soup, sprinkle some raisins over each portion.

*If you are not sure how to avoid creating lumps of flour in your sauce, check an online cooking source for the techniques of thickening sauces and gravies.

**To make the pastry, stir together one cup plus two tablespoons of pre-sifted all-purpose flour and one-half teaspoon salt.  Cut in one-half cup shortening.  Add enough cold water to make the dough manageable (not more than two tablespoons.)  Cover the dough and allow it to rest for 10 minutes at room temperature before rolling it out.  Roll it out and then fit it over the top of the filling.  (Make tart shells with any leftover pastry.)

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Simply Delicious Tomato Soup

May 5th, 2009 No comments

Start with a standard-size can (10 3/4 oz.) of undiluted, ordinary tomato soup, such as Campbell’s.  Instead of diluting the soup with water, add one small (14.5 oz.) can of “petite diced” tomatoes and just enough water to allow for easy mixing.  Keep stirring the mixture as you heat it, to prevent it from sticking to the pan (corn syrup in most brands of tomato soup unfortunately makes it prone to scorching).  Top each bowl with a sprig of rosemary or basil, and you’ll have a soup that looks and tastes freshly-made.  (Three to four servings.)

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