Here's to good food!

I am finally putting my tried and true family recipes here. Check out my old-time favorites as well as newly discovered ones.

I hope you'll find some recipes here that you enjoy cooking, and those you cook for will find them tasty and satisfying.
Are you looking for something special? Something quick and easy? You'll find it here somewhere.
Check in often to see what's cooking in Monterey!

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. ~Luciano Pavarotti

If you are posting from this site, please give appropriate credit and notify me. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Chocolate Thumbprints

L olallieberry jam, C orange marmalade, R chocolate chips
I made several changes to a recipe to suit my chocolate-loving husband, as well as reducing the sugar slightly and simplifying the steps.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa 

1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarse or powdered sugar for rolling
1/2 cup orange marmalade, berry jam, OR 1 cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat 1 cup each butter and sugar on until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; beat to combine. Lower mixer speed and gradually add flour mixture. Beat to combine.

Place 1/2 cup coarse sugar in a pie pan. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, then roll in sugar to coat. Place balls, 1 inch apart, on parchment-lined baking sheets. Using your thumb or back of a spoon, press a 1/4-inch indentation into the top of each cookie. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon jam or 5-6 chocolate chips* into each indentation.  

Bake until cookies are just set but still look moist, 12-15 minutes.  Let cool on wire racks.

Makes about 4 dozen.

Note:  *Chocolate chips will retain their shape, so after removing from oven, flatten with a knife.  Once cool, place in refrigerator for half an hour or more until the chocolate has set.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Beef Stroganoff

This is a wonderful treat, but especially in the winter.  I've been using this recipe for over 40 years.  There are many recipes that cook it for less time, but this is what I've always made.  Very tender and oh so good.

3-4 Tbsp butter or olive oil              1/3 C flour  
1 onion, chopped                            salt & pepper if needed  
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced                 2 C beef broth
2 lb. sirloin steak, cut in strips         1/2 C red wine (optional)                           
             1/2 C sour cream or creme fraiche*

Saute onion and mushrooms in some of the oil on medium heat until onions are softened and lightly browned.  Remove to a bowl.  Spread beef strips on a cutting board and sprinkle with flour.  (You may need more or less.)  Toss around until they are more or less covered.

Heat more oil and saute half the meat at a time until browned.  Remove to another bowl.  Saute rest of meat, then return first batch of meat to pan.  Add broth and wine.  Let simmer one hour.  Add onion and mushrooms to meat and cook another 20-30 minutes.  

Turn off heat and mix in sour cream.  (Sour cream will curdle if heated too high.  Creme fraiche isn't supposed to.)  

*To make your own creme fraiche, watch Chef John make it here:  creme fraiche

Special Day Waffles

These can be "special day" waffles or you can make them to be "everyday" by varying the amount of a few ingredients.  I like this recipe because you don't need to whip the egg whites, as most waffle recipes call for. * Use the greater amount for Special Day, and the lesser amount for everyday.  Or something in between.  This is another recipe that I've been making for over 40 years.

2 C sifted flour                              2 C buttermilk or sour milk (see note below)
1 Tbsp baking powder                   *2-4 eggs
1 tsp baking soda                          *1/2-1 C melted butter, or salad oil     
1 tsp salt 

Start heating waffle iron as directed.  Melt butter and set aside to cool slightly, if using.

Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Combine buttermilk and eggs in another bowl, then add to the flour.  Beat with a mixer on medium to high until smooth; stir in butter or oil.

When waffle iron is ready to use, pour batter into center of lower half until it spreads about 1" from edges.  Bring cover down gently.  Cook as directed. 

Makes about 10 6" round waffles.

 Note: To make sour milk, add 2 Tbsp vinegar to measuring cup.  Add milk and stir.  Let sit a few minutes before using.

Recipe from : Good Housekeeping Cookbook, 1963

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Singapore Crab (or Tofu)

Now that CRAB season is upon us, we can make this again.  Of course this dish tastes best with fresh crab, but when it's out of season, and you crave this flavor, try a block of tofu.  (A Sunset recipe)

1 freshly cooked Dungeness crab or 1 block of tofu
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Singapore Chile Sauce
1 tablespoon Black Bean Garlic Sauce*
1 fresh jalapeno chile, minced (wearing kitchen gloves)
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup catsup
1 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
Fresh cilantro, (optional garnish)

Wearing kitchen gloves, cut stems and seeds from chile; mince.  In a small bowl, smoothly blend cornstarch with chicken broth and catsup.  Stir in the black bean sauce and minced chile. Set aside.

Clean cooked crab.  Set aside back shell.  Crack rest of crab to make eating easier and set aside.  Can also be completely cleaned.

Mince garlic and ginger together into a paste.

Set a wok or 5-6 quart pan on high heat; add oil.  When oil is hot, add garlic-ginger paste; stir until golden, 30-60 seconds.  Add Singapore Chile Sauce and crab; stir with a wide spatula until crab is hot and sauce is boiling, 3-4 minutes.  Arrange crab on a hot platter; lay crab-back shell onto crab pieces.  Garnish with cilantro.  Serve with rice.                    
Makes 2 servings.

*Found in a jar in Chinese sauce section.

Mexicali Chicken

This is a really tasty, really easy dish, followed by lots of compliments.  It was given to me by a friend who is originally from Germany.

Measurements are approximate.  I often use frozen chicken tenders from Costco.  They thaw out quickly, so I can make these without planning too far ahead.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts   
1 package taco seasoning + 2 TB flour
oil to saute
1/2 cup of your favorite salsa 
3-4 TB peach jam, apple jelly, or other jam

Dust chicken breasts w/ taco seasoning-flour mix.  Brown in oil for 2-3 minutes on each side.
Add salsa and cook.  Stir in jam and cook until chicken is done.  

Serve with Mexican Rice and a green salad.

Sauerkraut Pork Chops

Tim, this is for you and anyone who enjoys German food.

When I was student teaching in Arizona, my supervising teacher would talk about this delicious meal she would often prepare.  I finally asked for the recipe.

2 large jars sauerkraut,* rinsed and drained      4-6 pork chops
½ chopped onion                                                          1/2 cup flour mixed with
2 Tbsp brown sugar                                                                  salt, pepper, and
2 Tbsp bacon fat                                                                        paprika
1 can of water                                                                   1/2 cup sour cream

Serve with mashed potatoes

Mix sauerkraut, onion, brown sugar, bacon fat, and water in a 4 qt pot.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 ½ -2 hours.  (This makes the sauerkraut very mild and even some of those who think they don’t like sauerkraut may eat this.)

After about an hour of cooking, flour the pork chops.   Brown both sides in a little oil in skillet.

Drain the sauerkraut well.  Place into a 9 x 13 inch casserole, then put the browned pork chops on top.  Cover and bake  for about 1 ½ hours.  Pork chops should be fork tender by this time.  Remove them to a platter, drain liquid from sauerkraut and mix in sour cream.  Serve alongside pork chops with mashed potatoes, using the sauerkraut like gravy.

*It tasted best with the canned stuff from another era.  Choose a sauerkraut you like, whether it is in a jar or the fresh style from a deli.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

4-Berry Pie

The food blog I follow most closely is Feast for the Eyes, partly because she sends me an email whenever she posts a new recipe.  Fortunately for you, I don't know how to do that.  She recently posted a recipe for a berry pie.  It has probably been over 20 years since I have made a pie crust from scratch.  Marie Callenders' frozen crusts have been used a lot.

But I decided to try this crust and it came out pretty well,
although I would like to have rolled it thinner, but I didn't have the patience.  It was still a very tasty crust, and the pie was delicious!  I used a combination of  blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, and frozen olallieberries*.

For the recipe, click the link below.

Feast for the Eyes Berry Pie

*a type of blackberry that is a cross between a youngberry and a loganberry.  (And a marionberry is a cross between an olallieberry and another blackberry.)

Challah from the Artisan Bread Book

Challah bread, eggy, buttery, and delicious!

Traditional challah braid

An artisan bread recipe was introduced to me by a friend, who was given the recipe by a Pampered Chef representative.  I tried that recipe, but I also found one in the America’s Test Kitchen Baking Book.  (I liked this recipe because of the slightly sourdough flavor.)   And further research also lead me to this website ( and their cookbook (Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day  by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois).

The recipes in the book are different from the other two mentioned above in that they make dough that makes several loaves of bread, rather than just one loaf.  (The rest of the dough is stored in the refrigerator or frozen for later use.)  The recipe below is for half the normal recipe, and I baked the whole batch in an 8” x 4” loaf pan.  
Recipe can be doubled or quadrupled

1 packet of yeast (2 ¼ teaspoon)
2 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ C honey
¼ C melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil
7/8 C lukewarm water________________
3 ½ C unbleached all-purpose flour

Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water)
Sesame or poppy seeds for top

In a large bowl mix together the ingredients above the line.  Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon, large-capacity food processor or heavy-duty stand mixer.  If you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.

Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2-3 hours.

The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold.  Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days.  

(Beyond 5 days, freeze in 1-pound portions in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks.  Defrost frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator before using.  Then allow the usual rest and rise time.)

On baking day, butter or grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.  Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece.  Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

You can then braid it as is traditional.  (See book, pp. 181-2 for further instructions or click how-to-six-strand-braided-challah  using all the bread dough for a 6-strand braid.)

(I formed 2 dough balls using all the dough, and placed them into a greased 8” x 4” loaf pan, separated by a greased piece of foil, so I would have 2 smaller loaves.)

Allow the bread to rest and rise for 80 minutes (or 40 minutes if you are using fresh, unrefrigerated dough). 

Preheat the oven to 350.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with seeds, if desired. (I forgot to do this.)
Bake near the center of the over for about 25-35 minutes.  Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time.  The challah is done when golden brown, and the braids near the center of the loaf offer resistance to pressure.  Due to the fat in the dough, challah will not for a hard, crackling crust. 

Allow to cool before slicing or eating.