Thursday, October 23, 2014

What's Cookin' ?

Plenty, but I hardly bother to post recipes anymore as the internet has been overrun with stupid cookery blogs. Ten years ago, when I started this it was interesting. Today, all anyone cares about is a perfect photograph and to hell with whether the recipe works or not. Exotic ingredients, extravagant use of bacon, the next, "It" recipe. Bah! I made a few things this week that turned out well, but that doesn't make me some sort of expert. That sounds a bit harsh...I am some sort of expert!

First up:
 Totally shitty photos. You'll never get blog sponsors or a book deal with those.
Right. So tonight it was Brussels Sprouts Mould. You cannot screw this thing up. It can be made with asparagus, frozen peas, carrots, beets-you name it, and I have folded it into eggs and baked in my soufflé dish. I was lucky enough to still have salad greens growing in the garden (October in Nebraska! Insane.) so I made a light salad with an herbed vinaigrette, and some apricot cous cous. Oh, it sounds fancy, but I swear it is dead easy. Get the basics down, and you can use up whatever cooked vegetables and cheese ends are lurking in your fridge. I'll give you the recipe but keep in mind it is adaptable. I ran out of dry bread crumbs and substituted matzo meal without anyone noticing. I didn't have Swiss cheese so I used a mixture of Gouda and Pecorino. I used 2 % milk because I didn't have whole. You get the idea. This is good served hot or cold. Mine was sort of room temperature because we were running in and outside with a cardboard pin-hole box to view the eclipse. This is a very interruptible meal. This is roughly based on the recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Brussels Sprouts Mould:

3 cups steamed Brussels sprouts, well drained and chopped
1/4 cup bread crumbs for the mould
Oil for the mould
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter
5 large eggs
1/2 cup finely shredded cheese (your choice)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon if you have it
a quick grating of nutmeg if you have it
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted in the milk
2/3 cup dry breadcrumbs

Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place in a pan of water that is large enough to accommodate your dish and enough water to go 3/4 way up the side of the dish. I keep extra boiling water on the stove in case I underestimated. Oil your mould and coat with breadcrumbs. Knock out the excess.

In a small pan, melt the butter and cook the onion until it is softened but not browned. Remove to a bowl. Stir in the cheese, salt/pepper/nutmeg/tarragon, breadcrumbs, and beaten eggs. In a saucepan, heat the milk and butter until boiling. Slowly beat the milk into the custard mixture. Fold in the Brussels sprouts. Pour into prepared mould, and carefully place in the water bath. Bake about an hour. This varies so much, that all you can really do is keep plunging a butter knife into it until you're satisfied it is firm. To unmould, run a think knife around the edge, say a quick prayer, and quickly invert it onto a plate. If you underbaked it, it will fall apart slightly, but that's what sauce is for. A nice béchamel hides that sort of thing effectively.

And there you have it. Oh, but you wanted pasta? Huh, let's about some buckwheat noodles?

Also dead easy.

You will need:

3 large egg yolks plus 1 whole egg
3 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buckwheat flour
1-2 cups semolina flour

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, water and salt until light. With a wooden spoon, stir in the buckwheat flour, then add enough of the semolina flour to make a very stiff dough. Wrap in cling film and let rest 30 minutes before rolling out. I used a pasta maker (I have an old Imperia from the 60's) but you can do this with a heavy rolling pin and a strong arm. Let the cut pasta dry slightly on a rack for 30 minutes before cooking in boiling water. For the thickness you see here-like fettuccini, it took about 4 minutes. Fresh pasta cooks quickly, so watch it. I served it with a mushroom sauce that was more mushrooms than sauce.

What?! You're still hungry? Are you high?
Fine, fine, have some dessert:
Everyone likes apple pie. My husband said this one was, "Too nice for family" meaning it is a company pie. I think that means it is kind of rich, and he can't sit down and demolish half of it in a sitting the way he typically does. The filling is made with tapioca and heavy cream-and shit loads of butter. This pie is based on one in the Farm Journal pie Cookbook from 1964. Then, I changed some stuff because I do that.

Basically: combine 2 tablespoons quick tapioca with 1/2 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 cup of granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon each nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well. Add 5 cups peeled, sliced apples. Into the bottom pastry, pour half of the filling. Dot with 1 tablespoon butter. Add remaining mixture and dot with 2 tablespoons more butter. Cover with top pastry. Bake at 400 degrees F. for about an hour or until golden.

For the pastry:

2 cups instant blend flour (Wondra is what I use)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter
(about) 1/3 cup ice water

Combine flour, and salt. Cut in the butter (I use a metal pastry cutter, but a food processor will work too). Add the water slowly as you may not need it all. Add just enough until dough comes together easily in a ball. The dough does not need chilling prior to rolling, but the pastry-lined pie plate should go in the fridge while you make the filling.

I use a bottom pastry for my apple pies as that's how it is done locally, and my family have certain expectations of pies (two crusts, primarily). My mother would have thought that wrong, and extravagant, but that's how it is done in Nebraska-so when in Rome (or Omaha...).

If you've eaten all that, you're going to need a good walk after dinner. Here's what I spotted on my walk yesterday...
Beautiful leaves...
Wild mushrooms (don't eat wild mushrooms kids)...
The late sun through the trees. I look forward to my afternoon walk as a way to end the morning lessons and clear out my mind for the afternoon. On the days when we can manage even a quick once-around-the-park walk I think the 1:00-2:30 maths class goes better. For me anyway. I really missed my walk today as I have a terrible chest cold . We stayed in, and watched a documentary on the Dust Bowl instead. That probably wasn't the best thing to watch when I can't breathe.

I promise to share more recipes, but until then there's over ten years worth of them in the archives. You can probably find something that sounds interesting enough to cook.

Next week-Barmbracks, Parkin, and other seasonal treats. I already candied the ginger (do not douse a redhead in candy syrup).


Janice said...

Blog sponsors and book deals, I have never aspired to have such. I'm fine with my shitty photos on my blog. It's a hobby (blogging) not an income. Sure, if I were being paid then, my effort would be higher. Speaking of higher, The dust bowl, what was our country thinking? How horrible of a life that must have been for those families.

Connie said...

Tapioca. That is so interesting. I must try it. Candied red heads. Ha ha.

Sue said...

Shitty photos or not, your book would be awesome!!! Love your nature photos from your walk. All the pretty mushrooms are the bad don't eat ones.

Goody said...


We watched the Ken Burns take on the dust bowl, which I'm sure was toned-down for the PBS audience. It must have been a living hell.

Asparagus Pea said...

Isn't 'extravagant use of bacon' one of the seven deadly sins? If it's not it should be. What size kids do you teach? (they come in S/M/L/XL right? It's a good job I acquired my stepsons when they were big enough for me not to ruin them!!!) xxx

Propagatrix said...

I love everyday food posts. I do all the cooking, and the other half of my two-person household is indifferent to food, so I like seeing what other people do.

Goody said...

At age 9-10 I think that would be "M".

Who says I'm *not* ruining him? I was glad I became a mother late in life because if I paid any attention to the mummy blather all over the web I'd be a head case. I'm sure by modern standards I'm doing everything wrong.

Ah well, we have to leave them something to complain about when we're gone ;)

Goody said...


The funny thing is-I'm indifferent to food. I don't eat 95% of what I cook for them. Cooking is more of an intellectual pursuit for me.

Last night I ate tinned mushroom soup and a few pieces of crispbread. Exciting, huh?

Curtise said...

I always admire all your cookery efforts, despite the lingering sense I have that I am totally inadequate in the kitchen by comparison... Oh well, can't all be good at the same things! xxx

Goody said...


I hope I don't make you feel that way, because I have my share of really horrible things come through this kitchen-I just don't post them.

No, it would be awful if we were all good at the same things because someone has to sew the cool flares from vintage fabric, which you do wonderfully.

Jayne H said...

I could actually attempt your Brussel Sprout Mould and hope not to prove you wrong on the 'you cannot screw this up' statement. I like recipes which cannot be screwed up.
Your photos from your walk are lovely.
I hope you are feeling better.

Goody said...


Think of it as a fritatta in a casserole dish, and it will be less intimidating. The worst that will happen is it will underbake and fall apart-but then you have really delicious scrambled eggs.

Let me know if you try it.