Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Red Wine Sauce

So I am back on the cooking from every cookbook in alphabetical order thing. Today we have American Cooks: The General Federation of Women's Clubs Cook Book, edited by Ann Seranne, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, copyright 1967, sixth impression.

I feel like this book was loved... just not so much by me.

This was one hundred and one percent a swing and a miss. 

I want to apologize to Mrs. Franklin Ussery, Jr. of Alice, Texas. I did not do your recipe justice. Revert my awful, awful wine substitution if you are curious but please for the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster do NOT repeat what I did.

My shame incarnate.


1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup grated onion
1/3 cup presifted flour
1 1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup catsup
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Dash of garlic salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
Dash of ground cloves
So Very Wrong
3 tablespoons butter
???* dried minced onion
2 2/3 tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 cup Chianti red wine vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup beef broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash teaspoon pepper
Dash of garlic salt
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon mustard


Melt butter in a saucepan. Sauté onions until golden. Sprinkle with flour. Gradually stir in wine. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened and smooth.

Stir in remaining ingredients. Simmer for 5 minutes.


This strictly speaking is an alphabetical cheat. In between deciding to start this up again (ie pulling out the next cookbook and pouring over it) and this post, I was gifted a collection of cookbooks. Thank you to the fine folks who make that happen by the way. So I should be cooking from 30 Minute Kosher, but America Cooks has plagued me. 

Why you ask? Well, it is a very complete cookbook with lots of reference materials, basic methods, cross references, variations, and so much more. But something about this one just did not speak to me. It is a huge book and I generally skipped the pork/beef to keep the wifey happy... and found nothing I wanted to make for dinner. 

Aside: this is a common problem. I find many older cook books to have a craptastic poultry section unless you are cooking a whole bird. 

So I went to the sauces and just made something for which I "had" the ingredients.

And let us just be honest here. The fuck up has nothing to do with Mrs. Franklin Ussery, Jr or the rest of the kind, wonderful women of The General Federation of Women's Clubs. Oh no. I own this mistake. Take a look at the chapter listing: 

  1. Appetizers
  2. Hearty Sandwiches
  3. Quick Breads
  4. Yeast Breads
  5. Soups
  6. Egg and Egg Dishes
  7. Cheese and Cheese Dishes
  8. Fish, Shellfish and Other Foods Prepared Like Fish
  9. Poultry and Game Birds
  10. Meat
  11. Vegetables
  12. Sauces for Fish, Poultry, Meat and Vegetables
  13. Stuffings and Garnishes for Fish, Poultry, Meat and Vegetables
  14. Dumplings and Other Starch Substitutions
  15. Rice and Rice Dishes
  16. Pasta Dishes and Sauces for Pasta
  17. Salad and Salad Dressings
  18. Pies and Pastries
  19. Cakes
  20. Frostings and Fillings
  21. Cookies
  22. Desserts
  23. Dessert Sauces
  24. Candy
  25. Preserves
  26. Beverages
There are four or five rarebit recipes. Hell, there is a frostings chapter. FROSTING!!! So this falls into the same category as Santa's Whiskers: I should probably revisit this cookbook someday. But seriously why did I make this unholy abomination you ask?

Can I interest you in a side of jellied vinegar and hatred with your nuggets?

Because I have been on a sauce kick. I eat chicken nuggets a lot. They are quick, easy, and (assuming you buy the right ones) reasonably healthy. But there is only so much barbecue or honey mustard one can eat. So I like to mix up my dipping sauces. Lately it has been brown sauce and I thought this might be my "next" thing. I was wrong. So very foolish and wrong.

This smelled delicious. It was such a promising start.

Now that I have gone on at length about nothing important, let us actually talk cooking. I substituted red wine vinegar and dried minced onions (the kind you find in the spice aisle) for red wine and grated onions. Also I did not have any ground clove, so gone. I do not think the dried minced onions was a bad substitution. *I adjusted the quantity according to the side of the minced onions bottle. I forgot to write it down hence the unknown quantity in the recipe. Anyway they cooked quite nicely. This smelled wonderful... until I added the vinegar. 

Once I added the vinegar this stung the nose. I love vinegar but I have my limits. This tastes like vinegar with a faint hint of beef and onions. 

And the real kicker? Practically speaking, it is garbage for dipping. Way too thick. 

Pretty sure if I pulled this out of the fridge, nothing would have moved days later.

In hopes of saving some face I slathered it all over some chicken thighs, let set in the fridge for an hour or two, and baked. This was not horrible, but just kind of bland ironically. Not much came though.

How the fuck do you have an 1/8 teaspoons?!?

Also as might be obvious, I halved the original. Not because I meant to, but I only had that much ingredients. Sigh. Let us face it, I was bound and determined to get this cookbook off my list and that was all that mattered.

I want to apologize to anyone who took the time to read this entire rant. 

There are too many recipes and cookbooks I want to try. I will almost certainly never revisit this and give it a fair chance. Sorry again Mrs. Franklin Ussery, Jr. of Alice Texas!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Wine Bread

I like wine. I really like bread. Wine bread? Sign me up!

Carbs, cutlery, and Cabernet
Sorry for the long absence (again). Doing the whole baby thing again. So I am back to changing diapers and making bottles instead of cooking fun things. But baby #2 is a few months old and getting a handle on life, so I had a bit of free time the other weekend.

Aside: I do not remember how I stumbled across this recipe (baby brain and all), but due diligence makes me post the source.

3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh yeast or 1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
1/4 cup Cabernet, slightly warmed
1 tablespoon olive oil

Lightly mix together flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, rosemary, and pepper in a large bowl. Dissolve yeast in warm wine, add water to wine and mix all of the liquid into the dry ingredients until incorporated. Do not overmix. Cover the bowl with a towel and put it in a warm place to rise for sixteen hours.

After sixteen hours, fold the dough into itself so the top is tucked in the center and the bottom is now on the top. Place it back in the bowl, cover it, and let rise for 2 hours. When you have 30 minutes left of rise time, place a dutch oven in the oven at 450 degrees. Let it heat up for 30 minutes. Once heated, remove pot from oven, pour in olive oil and swirl to coat. Place the bread into the pot, top with remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, cover, and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the bread has a golden crust.

Homemade bread: to me it is always way too much time to benefit ratio. The grocery has amazing fresh bread. There are bakers and farmer’s markets a plenty with amazing fresh bread. So why did I make this? A couple reasons: 1) this is really super easy (see baby discussion above), 2) the flavor combination looked unique/interesting, and 3) it left me 92% of a bottle of wine to drink. Also since is a lot effort recipe, you are getting a low effort post by the way.

So kind of cool experience with this whole deal, I had only ever used dry active yeast previously. I could not find that in the store and bought fresh yeast. Luckily I did a quick Google and discovered it is a two to one ratio.

Sixteen hours is a really shitty time frame to work with. Sixteen hours after noon? Four AM. Fuck that noise. Schedule according. That said I ended it putting this in the oven closer to nineteen hours later, not eightteen hours. No regrets. 

Tasty bread and an excuse to buy wine?!? Yes please! Just pull up your schedule before beginning.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Cheesy Swedish Meatball Bake

So let us get this out of the way: FUCK Tastemade. A fb page (who I shall not mention for fear of associated them with these schmucks) reposted their video. And thus began a journey...

A blurry journey apparently.

The still before the video looked tasty, so I watched the video. It looked really good (the word Gruyère always gets me excited even if I cannot pronounce it) but no specifics. No link to the recipe either. No comments with the recipe. Nothing.

Now depending on the day's solar flare activity, the relative humidity in Johannesburg, and the frequency of the letter "L" in headlines that day, it is about 50/50 if I would have walked away or continued. That day there was just enough "L"s to continue. I posted for help. I tried their fb page and I could not find the original post. I tried their webpage. It just wanted me to install some app, which is a pet peeve of mine so no. A few hours later somebody replied with this mess "Type the recipe name in the fb search bar. It'll give you a couple recipes. One of them says full recipe. Click on it and the video comes up, but, on the right is a link to the recipe." I tried to follow these instructions, I really did because at this point I was commited. Anyway a few more hours pass by and someone replies with a link. I click the link and low and behold it is the same DAMN VIDEO but on their website instead of fb!!! I was about to give up and luckily I noticed a print button just below the video. I clicked on that and I PDF'ed the recipe. Which brings us to today.

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups egg noodles, cooked
1/2 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded

6 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups beef broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt to taste

In a large bowl, combine ground meats, panko, eggs, melted butter and
seasonings. Roll mixture into balls.

In a skillet on medium-high heat, cook meatballs in olive oil, until browned on all
sides. Transfer to a paper towel-lined tray and set aside.

Prepare the gravy. In the same skillet, melt butter and whisk in the flour until
lightly browned. Slowly pour in the beef broth while whisking continuously. Keep
whisking and cooking until slightly thickened. Stir in the heavy cream and season
with salt and pepper.

Place meatballs in the gravy and simmer for about 3 to 4 minutes.

Cook egg noodles to al dente and drain. In a baking dish, mix noodles together
with meatballs and gravy. Sprinkle with shredded Gruyère cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees F until slightly golden and bubbling. 

I refuse to link to these jakovasaurs. I cited my source, that is all they get.

And Darth Vader Mr. Potato Head went to pieces when I asked him to help! 

I fried the meat in two batches because it was a lot a meat.

Scalding but tasty

I made one radical change: ground turkey was supposed to be ground pork. I have no regrets. The turkey made the meatballs "lighter" than I think pork would have. I think it was a really pleasant change and would probably stick with it in future go.

A few things I would change in the future. This needs more egg noodles and cheese. I would go as far as to say double both.I used a 9x13 pan. I would use something smaller next time. The cheese kind of disappeared due to the large surface area.

The leftovers kept really well. This could easily be a meal prep Sunday kind of recipe.

I get it, we all have to get paid. Seriously though, fuck Tastemade and anyone else who "posts" recipes and then make you jump through this shit. If your business model involves making my life more difficult: I hate you, your children, your children's children, their pet dog, your favorite holiday, and the color of the shirt you were wearing the day you made the post.

But the meatballs were pretty good... but not great.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Beef Stew

I have skipped ahead several cookbooks to Cooking with Wine for today's entry. I know, I know I said I would not do that, but this was for the greater good of mankind!

Mmm. Tasty greater good.

Daycare does a meal train for people in need. One of the families in our classroom just had a kid and asked for stews. I could literally could not say no! Ok... not literally or even figuratively really, but I like beef stew. I went through a dozen or so cookbooks before I found the right recipe. So without further ado Mother's Old Fashioned Beef Stew or simply beef stew.

3 tablespoons flour
Salt / pepper to taste
3 lbs beef cut into 1 1/2" cubes
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons beef fat
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 onion (I used Vidalia), sliced
1 1/2 teaspoon marjoram, powdered
2 bay leaves
3 cups beef stock
2 1/4 red wine (I used a cheap Cabernet Sauvignon)
6 turnips, 3/4" cubed
9 carrots, ~1/2" sliced
6 potatoes, 3/4" cubed (I used larger baking potatoes)
1 1/2 fresh flat parsley, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon thyme (pretty sure I forgot this)
18 small white onions (I wanted pearl but couldn't find them), peeled

Put flour in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mix. A few at a time drag the beef cubes through and coat on all sides. Refill as necessary.

Heat butter and fat in a stock pot. A few at a time brown beef cubes on all sides. When browned move to a plate or bowl to capture the juices. Add butter/fat as needed. Deglaze the pot with the wine, scrapping up all the bits. Add remaining wine, garlic, sliced onions, parsley, beef cubes, parsley, marjoram, bay leaves, and stock. Simmer for one and a half hours.

Add carrots, potatoes, small white onions, and turnips. Continue to simmer until the vegetables are tender, about two hours. Add salt and pepper to taste.

So I have moderately modified this recipe. The original was more or less 2/3rds the above, but I tweaked a few numbers.

One I did not modify was the extra large bottle of cheap wine.
I did not limit the excessive amount of meat either. 

This is from a Holland House cookbook. For those unfamiliar Holland House makes those cheap salted cooking wines available at the grocery. They're my go to sherry and Marsala. That said, I wanted to go with drinking wine not cooking wine (so I could drink it, duh). As a result I was pretty generous with the salt to taste part.

This is basically a commercial in book form.

Before I really got into making the recipe, I trimmed the fat and rendered it to get the fat needed.

I am just being practical.

Next time a family in need needs stew count me in for this one!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Santa's Whiskers

I am not a baker. I can make a mean batch of Duncan Hines brownies. Mmm brownies... But seriously baking is not my forte.

This is what I am told, in common parlance, is known as a cookie.

So next in the cookbook line up is a generic ones size fits all cookbook, Americas Best Recipes: A 1993 Hometown Collection, and the wifey requested cookies. So fire up that KitchenAid mixer and get ready for mediocrity!

Generic cookbook...
Generic cookbook...
Southern cookbook?

1 cup butter (two sticks), room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
3/4 cup finely quartered candied cherries

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beat well. Add milk and vanilla, beat. Add flour, pecans, and cherries, beat.

Shape into two 8 inch long rolls. Wrap in was paper and freeze until firm.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Unwrap and cut into 1/4" slices. Space 2-3 inches apart on a ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until edges lightly brown: 8-10 minutes.

You were supposed to roll these in coconut before freezing. I hate coconut. Fuck that. And although the whole "whiskers" thing probably does not make sense without it, I feel the need to reiterate: fuck coconut.

Also to fit the Santa theme, you're supposed to use half red candies cherries and half green candied cherries. I am, however, not made of money. So green it is!

Doing home improvements and cooking at the same time is fine... just keep the epoxy out of the cookies.

I froze them a little too long. When discussing my options for my dough batons on Facebook, I got an interesting suggestion: spousal murder. But after a moment of reflection, I opted for letting it thaw on the counter for a few minutes. I have no regrets. The wifey is a keeper.

I would have hesitated less if she had cleaned the freezer for me...

It seems a shame to waste a good cookbook blog post on such lackluster results. So remind me in a decade when I have gotten through every other cookbook to revisit this one.

This is unquestionably a cookie that is edible.

If I am ever accused of uxoricide, it was all Justin's idea.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Sopa de Ajo

Round two: SPICY!*

1,001 Best Hot and Spicy Recipes is next on my shelves and that presents a problem that will pop up a handful of times during this process. The wifey is not a super adventurous eater. We eat mountains of chickens because we both despise the filthy beasts... er I mean we both like chicken. But she does not like stew/soup (with the exception of her mother's matzo ball soup) or beef. She flat out refuses anything spicy or pork. So while today's recipe is not really that spicy, it was made just for me. Which is why I picked a soup.

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
5 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced.
1 aji chile, stems and seeds removed (or yellow wax hot or jalapeño)
2 cups chicken stock (I used some very flavorful homemade stuff)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon finely grated Romano cheese (I used Parmesan)
1 teaspoon parsley

In a heavy pot, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté, quickly stirring in the flour. Stir until the garlic begins to brown. Add the chiles, stock, salt, pepper, eggs, and cheese and mix well. Bring to boil, the reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. If desired strain the soup. Serve hot, garnished with the parsley.

* - The reports of a high spice level have been greatly exaggerated. That is to say: this shit ain't spicy at all.

This was one meal sized serving (for me) by the way. Multiple as appropriate.

"If desired strain the soup." I was leery of this step, but went with it. I am glad I did. Despite my best efforts some of the egg had resulted in large blobs. After straining it only itty bitty pieces of egg were in there. It was a nice smooth texture as a result.

As a texture person, this probably saved this recipe from disaster for me.

So for better or for worse, I substituted cheeses because I had a half a block of good Parmesan in my fridge. One must be frugal after all.

Also I could only find jalapeño at my grocery. I stemmed and seeded it, but wanting some heat I added a few seeds back in. It did not make any difference only adding a few much to my disappointment.

Pictured: not enough seeds to make the slightest difference.

Taste = great. Gas = super stinky. Seriously, not to get overly personal but my gas usually is not too bad. This however made my butt toxic! I might make this again next time I am home alone!