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Posts Tagged ‘comfort food’

sauerkraut_5172

 

Makes 1 quart or as much as you like

Fermented foods seem to be headed into becoming the next big culinary trend.  This is truly a case of everything old is new again as fermenting was one of the earliest methods of food preservation.  For years, once fall comes I have made sauerkraut as one of Steve’s favorite cold weather dishes is pork roast braised in white wine with sauerkraut, onions, and potatoes.  Sauerkraut is easy to make and keeps almost forever.  So, if you haven’t experienced fermenting in your kitchen here is an easy recipe to get started.  Later, I’ll give you the recipe for the braised pork.
You can use the sauerkraut at any point in the fermentation process.  Early in the process it will be more cabbage-like and crunchy; later it will be softer and have a stronger, more sour flavored. To add different flavor, add caraway, dill, or mustard seeds or chopped fresh dill to the fermenting mix.
Cabbage ferments very quickly at room temperature (about 70°F) and is usually ready to eat in a week.  You can also refrigerate it from the start, but fermentation will occur very slowly; however, the end result will be crisper.  If kept at a temperature over 80°F, it will quickly turn dark brown and spoil.  If this occurs, discard the sauerkraut and start again.

2 ½ pounds cabbage (preferably organic), cored with any wilted or damaged outer leaves removed
3 teaspoons sea salt

Shred the cabbage into coarse threads using either a food processor fitted with the shredding blade, the large holes of a hand-held box grater, a mandoline, or by hand with a large, sharp chef’s knife.  To ensure correct fermentation I recommend that you weigh the cabbage after you have removed the core and any wilted or damaged outer leaves.
Place the cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle the salt over the top.  Using your hands, begin massaging the salt into the cabbage working until the cabbage exudes a substantial amount of liquid.  The time required will be dependent upon the freshness of the cabbage and the strength of your massage and can range from a couple of minutes to 30 or so.
Pack the cabbage and the liquid into a clean, sterilized container, such as a 1-quart glass canning jar with a clean, unused lid.  Using your fingertips, a smaller jar or glass that will fit down into the larger jar, or a potato masher, press down as firmly as you can to allow the liquid to rise up and cover the shredded cabbage.  You should leave about 1- to 2-inches of space between the cabbage and the top of the jar to give the cabbage space to expand as it ferments.  If the mixture has not created enough liquid to cover add enough cool distilled water to completely cover.
Place a bit of cool water into a small resealable plastic bag, pushing to eliminate all air.  You need just enough water to create a weight to keep the cabbage under the liquid.  Seal the bag and place it on top of the cabbage, pushing down to insure that the water-bag is serving as a weight.  Place the lid on the container and seal tightly.
Set aside in a cool, dark spot for 5 days.  Check the fermentation process daily to make sure that the cabbage has remained covered with liquid.  If not, add distilled water to cover.
After 2 days, begin tasting the sauerkraut.   Remove the water-bag and set it aside.  Remove and discard any scum or mold that has formed, noting that it is not harmful, just unappetizing.   Using a clean fork, poke around in the jar and pull out a small taste.  This allows you to follow the fermentation process and determine when the cabbage has reached the point that is most desirable to your taste.  Just be sure to push the sauerkraut back down into the liquid, place the water-bag on top to press it down, tightly seal, and set aside as before.
Depending upon the temperature in its resting place, after one week the sauerkraut should be a bit bubbly and have a tart, sour aroma.  Whenever the sauerkraut has reached the flavor and texture you desire, transfer the jar to the refrigerator to impede the fermentation process.  The kraut will continue to ferment, but at a much slower pace.

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Chanterelle_4546

 

Nobody loves mushrooms more than my son, Mickey.  He would eat them daily and the more obscure and expensive they are the more he likes them.  His usually are part of a rich sauce to accompany venison, or lamb, or lobster and he would never think of “wasting” them in pasta.  I, however, think they make a perfect mating with cheese and noodles so this is one of the ways I find to use beautiful chanterelles.  I find that they absorb the fattiness of the butter and cheese which only enhances their delicate, nutty flavor.

1 pound dried malfalda pasta or other noodles with a rippled or ridged edge
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, peeled and minced
½ pound chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and cut in half, lengthwise, if very large
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cracked black pepper for garnish

Place the pasta in a large pot of heavily-salted boiling water set over high heat.  
Return the water to the boil and boil according to package directions until al dente.  Remove from the heat and drain well, reserving about ½ cup of the cooking water.
While the pasta is cooking, combine the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes or just until softened.  Add the chanterelles and thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or just until the mushrooms are tender.  Remove from the heat.
When the pasta has cooked, add the drained pasta to the mushroom mixture, tossing to blend well.  Add the ricotta and parsley and again toss to coat.  Add a bit of the reserved pasta cooking water if necessary to “loosen” the sauce.  Taste and, if necessary, add salt and pepper.
Pour the pasta into a large pasta serving bowl.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and a bit of cracked black pepper and serve.

 

Chanterelle_4513

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Meatballs_IMG_0345

 

March-April must be my meatball month. I just looked at past posts and found that I had talked about meatballs (and spaghetti) on March 11, 2011. Here I am talking about meatballs once again. You can find my recipe in that post, but thought it worth a reminder. Since that March I have been making meatballs in batches and freezing them. Since I always have my marinara sauce on hand (see July 13, 2010 for that recipe) at the end of a long day, I can reach into the freezer and in just a few minutes put together a pot of meatballs in sauce to toss into a bowl of spaghetti. Try it, you’ll like it.

Here are the links to the Meatball and Marinara recipes:

http://notesfromjudieskitchen.com/2011/03/11/who-doesn%E2%80%99t-love-spaghetti-and-meatballs/

http://notesfromjudieskitchen.com/2010/07/13/simple-marinara-sauce/

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Meatloaf.dinner.IMG_0127
I’ve always loved meatloaf – almost any kind – even that grey diner variety can pique my interest.  It isn’t a family favorite so I don’t make it as often as I would like and when I do I have to doctor it up a bit to bring everyone to table.  This can mean that I look in the fridge to see what needs to be used yesterday and add it to the mix.  The other day that meant a container of cherry tomatoes and a sack of button mushrooms.  However, the thing about meatloaf is that it can be almost anything you want it to be so I will give you my mom’s old fashioned recipe – the one that I grew up on.  But, you can use beef, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb or any combination thereof to create an easy pop in the oven dinner – I always serve mine with baked potatoes and salad so dinner comes to the table 1-2-3.

1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
½ pound ground pork
1 medium onion, minced
½ cup diced canned tomatoes (my mom used those she had canned)
1 teaspoon chopped parsley (mom used dried)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup fine breadcrumbs
1 large egg
¼ cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Combine the beef and pork in a large mixing bowl.  Stir in the onion, tomatoes, parsley, and Worcestershire.  Add the breadcrumbs along with the egg, milk, and salt and pepper, and,  using your hands, squish to thoroughly combine.
Form the mix into a firm loaf about 4-inches wide by 8-inches long.  When forming it into a loaf, you can also place 3 hard boiled eggs down the interior center.
Now, here’s where you can make some changes.  You can:
Cover the top with strips of bacon.
Make a sauce that can serve as gravy by combining 1½ cups tomato puree with ½ cup beef  broth (or stock if you have it) and ¼ cup minced onion OR 1½ cups beef broth with 2 tablespoons tomato paste, ½ cup chopped mushrooms, and 2 tablespoons minced onion.
Now, mind you, these are mom’s 1940s instructions – you can do whatever you want to fancy it all up.  When I want mom, I mix some broth with catsup and add whatever is on hand to spice it up a bit.  This is old-fashioned home-cooking after all!
Place it in the oven and bake for about 1 hour or until nicely browned and cooked through and, if you’ve made it, a slightly thickened tomatoey gravy has formed.

Meatloaf.dinner.IMG_0132

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20140112.Mom's.Sunday.Breakfast.IMG_0115

 

It’s odd that when I think of my mom I don’t think of her as the “Nana” she was at the end of her life, but as a vital, aggressive, and, in her own way, nurturing “Mom” of my childhood.  As I was making a waffle treat for our breakfast this cold January morning I was suddenly overtaken by nostalgia – partly because the Christmas holidays were my mom’s favorite time of the year and it was during this period that she taught me so much about baking and sharing. And partly because I still make the waffle recipe she taught me.  And partly because I have the same “sweet tooth” that she had and love a waffle oozing with maple syrup.   But mostly it is at this time of the year that I deeply miss her by my side in the kitchen.

Just when a waffle came out of the waffle iron I said to myself “I’m going to make one for mom” and so I fried up 2 eggs and placed them on top of the waffle and then drizzled it with maple syrup…..just as she liked it…..and said “Here’s to you, you are missed.”

P.S.  A version of the waffle recipe can be found in the below link entitled “Waffles for Dinner?” from January 2011.

http://notesfromjudieskitchen.com/2011/01/28/waffles-for-dinner/

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potato_2220

            Although I hadn’t eaten a potato croquette in years nor had I made one either, I decided to use some leftover mashed potatoes to create some crispy tater tots to accompany some steaks I was cooking up.  Many years ago there was a small Italian restaurant, Capri, in Manhattan’s theater district that served extraordinary croquettes – usually with a beautiful veal chop.  Theirs were so light and delicate that they seemed impossible to replicate at home so I didn’t even try.  They only came back to my sensory memory when I bit into my version.  Not fluffy, not terribly light, and certainly not delicate.  But, they tasted pretty good.  Now that they are back on the menu I’ll try to refine my recipe – I promised Steve that I’ll get to light and delicate.

Here’s what I did:

I had about 2½ cups of cold mashed potatoes to which I added 2 large eggs, ¾ cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese, and 2 tablespoons of flour.  I beat the mix until very well combined and then seasoned with salt and pepper.  I whisked 2 eggs with a bit of milk in one shallow bowl, put about 3 cups of lightly salted bread crumbs in another, and then Wondra flour in a third.  I formed the potato mixture into logs – they were much too big I realized – and then dipped the logs into the flour, then the egg mixture, and finally into the breadcrumbs.  I fried them in olive oil and dusted them with sea salt at the finish.  If I’d used freshly made dry potatoes that I’d pushed through a food mill, formed the mix into smaller logs, and fried them a little bit less, I think they would have been the light and delicate croquettes I remembered.  I’ll ace it next time.

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AFC_cover

Wonderful News!  Coming this fall from Welcome Books is An American Family Cooks, my dream book, featuring recipes and tales from my family of cooks.  My sons, Mickey and Chris, feature prominently with wine suggestions by Chris a special treat.  My grandchildren will also be found among the pages as will paintings from Steve Kolyer.  We will keep you posted on our activities as the October publishing date gets close.

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