Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wholegrain Pretzels

4 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/3 c. warm water (wrist temperature)
1 package of dry yeast (rapid rise)
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons coarse salt or kosher salt

Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease large baking sheet. Proof yeast in water and honey. Then add flour and salt. Add enough flour to make moderately stiff dough. Knead 5 -10 minutes. Cut into 12 pieces and roll each into a pretzel; place on greased baking sheet and sprinkle the coarse salt on top. Let dog into the back yard and play fetch for a few minutes. Come back in and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove pretzels from cookie sheet to wire rack. Serve warm and, if desired, with prepared mustard.

Wholegrain Bagels

I love whole grains, and blending flours with seeds is fun too. I am a dough head! There's not much you can do wrong with dough, it's not an exact science. It's a forgiving one! Just dive in and PLAY! No matter what, these will taste great and smell great! We buy 50 pounds of flour every month from JAR Bakers Supply in Lincoln RI. It's only 14 bucks for 50 pounds! We get the medium grind whole wheat flour. It's so fresh and good. If you think 50 pounds of flour is too much for your household needs, consider asking a few neighbors to share the bag. You'll be glad you did.

1-2 teaspoons or 1 package of Fleishmann's active dry yeast
1 golf ball sized blob of sourdough starter (optional)
2 c warm water (wrist temperature)
2 tsp sugar or honey to feed the yeasties!
3 1/2-4 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or more to taste)
You can always add more flour, rolled oats, wheat bran, and cornmeal. You can also add sesame, poppy, and flax seeds and even grind them up together and add them. Try raisins or sunflower seeds too.

Dissolve a package of yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5-10 minutes. It might get foamy. Then add sugar or honey, stirring well. Stir in 2 cups of the whole wheat flour (or the flour blend) and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt; mix well. Add starter blob if you have it. Gradually stir in the rest of the flour to make a dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 5 to 10 minutes, turning and dusting with more flour as needed. Place dough in a bowl, cover with towel and let rise in a warm place 1-2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down, and cut dough into 12 equal pieces. I use a bagel/donut cutter because I love kitchen tools. Otherwise roll each blob of dough into a smooth ball and punch a hole in the center of each ball. If you have an apple-corer that works well for making a hole too.

Bring about 2 quarts of water with a teaspoon of salt to boil in a big pot or Dutch oven. Boil bagels about 3 minutes on each side. Use a slotted spoon or slotted spatula for scooping out the boiled bagels. Place bagels on your lightly greased baking sheet, or directly on your hot baking stone. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 1 dozen. Eat some warm! Let the others cool on a rack. The flavors will "land" and they will taste fabulous the next day toasted, buttered, and sprinkled with cinnamon and honey. I also like them just plain. They taste like soft pretzels. I break them apart and dip them in kosher salt. They are a great travel food and they freeze well too. Enjoy and share with those you love.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sharing Starter

Bread deals with living things, with giving life, with growth, with the seed, the grain that nurtures. It's not coincidence that we say bread is the staff of life.
-Lionel Poilâne artisan baker

I am going to learn to make bread to-morrow. So you may imagine me with my sleeves rolled up, mixing flour, milk, saleratus, etc., with a deal of grace. I advise you if you don't know how to make the staff of life to learn with dispatch.
-Emily Dickinson

I've been sharing my sourdough starter with friends and I am so excited for them to discover the joys of baking their own bread. I tell them it's like farming in your own kitchen!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fifty Gallons

My pal singer songwriter guitarist gardener Rodney Maxwell told me he is making maple syrup. He said it takes fifty gallons of sap to make a gallon of maple syrup! I immediately thought that's about the same ratio as writing.

Safe Sampling

I am making a variation on chicken Marbella with the ingredients I have in the house. Port in place of white wine, black olive taupinaude in place of green olives, white sugar in place of brown sugar. I wanted to taste the marinade since I had done so much improvising but I had already put the raw chicken breasts into it. So I took a few tablespoons of the marinade and put it in a tiny glass dish with a cover (preventing splatter) and heated it up in the microwave to cook it. Then it was safe to taste test it, adjust the recipe, and repeat. You can also heat the sample on the stove top or in the oven. Just be sure to bring it up to boiling and you're safe!

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Kasha is buckwheat groats. It is a fabulous grain. Take a cup of kasha and rinse it, put it in an ovenproof dish, add 2 cups of water, a pinch of kosher salt, and bloop of olive oil, and cover. If you're putting this in a cold oven, cover and bake for an hour at 350 degrees. In a preheated oven bake it for 30 minutes.You can also simmer it on the stove top for twenty minutes just like a hot cereal. In a large skillet saute a few sliced onions in olive oil, then add a splash of cheap port and soy sauce, then add the cooked kasha. You can combine it with leftover rice or noodles too. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Potato Salad

This recipe is a 30 year old favorite. It was in a little yellow cookbook that came with my first Presto pressure cooker. I still have my beloved cooker and I still make this potato salad a few times a year. It is good hot, cold, and luke-warm. Double the recipe - you'll want leftovers. This is always a hit at summer picnics too.

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery seed (optional)
1/4 cup vinegar (I like red wine vinegar)
1/2 cup water
1 large onion, chopped
6 large potatoes diced (red potatoes or Yukon gold are my favorites)
Add a few ribs of chopped celery and raisins if you have them handy.

Add ingredients to cooker, mix well, close cover and cook 5 minutes with pressure regulator rocking gently. Cool cooker at once. If you don't have a pressure cooker I'm sure you can bake this in a Dutch oven or cook it on the stove top in a heavy lidded pot. Save the leftover flavorful seasoned potato stock for adding to cooked beans or using as soup stock.

Lemon-Sesame Chicken

Years ago, during college, I worked in the kitchen of Leo's, a local restaurant and bar (now defunct). They served fabulous food. I am proud to say that is where I met my husband, and where I learned to cook. It was the best kitchen job I'd ever had.

I made this Lemon-Sesame Chicken recipe for Bill on our first date. I brought him over to my little third floor apartment on Oakland Avenue on Smith Hill. Unfortunately I had marinated the chicken for three days and (as he recalls) I served it in the marinade (not wanting to waste anything!) It was dreadful, it tasted like it was marinated in Mr. Clean! Bill never complained, being the gentleman that he is, but I was horrified! If you make it right, it may lead to marriage! And if you make it wrong it may too!

Lemon-Sesame Chicken

1 bunch of fresh scallions, chopped
8 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced or thrown in the blender with marinade
1/2 cup sesame tahini
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (it's worth making your own!)
salt and sugar to taste
4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts halved

Mix tahini and lemon juice with whisk or buzz in a blender (if you use a blender or food processor you can add the raw garlic cloves to this). Place the boneless skinless chicken breasts in a bowl, pour the mixture over, cover, and marinate for 5 hours or overnight in the fridge. Grill or bake in 350 degree oven until done. Sprinkle with the fresh scallions!

Chicken Marbella

At Leo's, waitresses were instructed to say "fruits" rather than prunes when we had Chicken Marbella as a special. Why not say plums? Chicken Marbella is amazing.

From the famous Silver Palette Cookbook.

4 chickens, 2 1/2 lb. each, quartered (I use boneless skinned chicken breasts)
1 head of garlic, pureed
1/4 c dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c red wine vinegar
1/2 c olive oil
1 c pitted prunes
1/2 c Spanish green olives
1/2 c capers with a bit of juice (Job Lot has them for cheap!)
6 bay leaves
1 c brown sugar
1 c white wine
1/4 c chopped parsley

Combine all ingredients except brown sugar and white wine, and marinate overnight. Arrange chicken in pan, spoon marinade over, and sprinkle with brown sugar and wine. Bake 50-60 min at 350 degrees, basting often. Enjoy this meal with those you love! Serves 10. The leftovers are even better cold over brown rice or whole wheat noodles.

Blob Sharing

I wish I could give all of my readers blobs of my Woonsocket sourdough starter so they could bake their own sourdough bread. Of course you can make your own starter but if you live nearby I am happy to give you a blob!

Fast Baked Beans

Take some leftover home cooked pinto beans and add some apple butter (like Musselman's) and heat, it's Boston baked beans in a pinch.


It's so easy to make. When I babysat the kids on my street growing up I'd make this with them but in a much smaller quantity. Feel free to shrink down the recipe to suit your family. We buy 50 pound bags of thick-cut oats and store them in our cold cellar in gigantic tins.

1 cup corn oil
1 cup regular Barbados molasses
sprinkle of Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon of Job Lot's real vanilla
4 or five empty (quart) yogurt containers filled with rolled oats.

Heat oil, molasses, salt, and vanilla, in a large pot until it dissolves into to a soupy liquid. While stirring, add oats. Mix thoroughly, then spread over two baking pans and bake at 300-350 degrees. Fill up the corners of the pan well so it won't burn! Stir oats from edges of baking pan every 10-20 minutes. The oats are done when they are golden brown. (three or four 20 minute sessions) Let cool and then put in sealed container.
Carry a bag of this granola with raisins with you and you'll never starve!

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant parmesan had been my favorite food for decades before it finally dawned on me that I should learn how to make it. I consulted one of my favorite cookbooks: We Called It Macaroni By Nancy Verdi Barr

Slice two large eggplants paper thin. Salt both sides (I like Kosher salt) and let drain in colander.

Forget about them for an hour. Come back and rinse the salt and then stack up the slices between two plates weighed down with a few cast iron pans. Let drain for an hour or more.

You can then refrigerate the whole deal in a plastic container and make it another day if you wish.

When you are ready, scramble five eggs and pour into a glass pie plate. Dip three or four eggplant slices at a time in the egg to coat both sides. Then fry in a 1/4 cup of hot olive oil in a large frying pan (if electric, set at 375 degrees). The slices cook in seconds, turning golden on each side. When cooked lay them on paper towels or a paper bag to drain the oil. You may want to use long handled tongs to avoid occasional oil splatter. When done and slices are drained, place slices in oven proof dish over a layer of tomato sauce. Then alternately layer the eggplant slices and the tomato sauce thinly and bake at 375 for ten minutes. I use two and a half quarts of tomato sauce to cover the eggplants.

Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan. Enjoy with a green salad.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


When I discovered I could make my own Wheatena cereal I was ecstatic. The results were a million times tastier than the store bought cereal. It's so simple. Place a thin layer of wheat berries on a baking pan. Put them in a 350 degree oven. As they bake take a spatula and redistribute the berries so they get toasted evenly and they don't burn at the edges of the pan. Stick around, they toast fast and they can burn easily. When the wheat berries darken a bit they are toasted. Let them cool off and then grind them coarsely in a hand cranked grain mill. I don't know myself but it might be possible to grind them in a coffee grinder or a food processor. Boil the cereal in water and salt. Enjoy! You can use the toasted wheat berries in bread and soup too. You can cook up the cereal and serve with vegetables as a supper dish or make a Middle Eastern tabouleh!

Monday, March 23, 2009


I love popcorn and I could live on it! I make it nearly every night the old-fashioned way using my Presto Army-style no-frills crock pot. I heat 1/4 cup of corn oil to 400 degrees in the cooker with 6 corn kernels thrown in and I cover it. When they pop I add a cup of popcorn kernels and shake the pot a bit. Then I cover the pot and stand back and wash a few dishes while the popping goes wild. Then when they are all popped I pour the popcorn into our gigantic wooden salad bowl and sprinkle with kosher salt. So good!

Simple Potatoes

Today I am baking a pot of potatoes. I sliced a bunch of potatoes and thew them into my mini cast iron pot, added water, olive oil, kosher salt, adobo seasoning,and a head of garlic. I put a lid on the pot and stuck it in a cold oven and turned up the heat to 350 degrees. The aroma is spellbinding! After 90 minutes or so I checked on it and added some freshly grated extra sharp cheddar and some freshly grated asiago cheese. So simple and so good on a cold windy day! And the house smells fantastic.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Baked Brown Rice

For those who have found that boiling brown rice turns it gummy, try baking it! Place the measured rice and water and salt in a covered pot in a cold oven. I use a cast iron pot with a fitted lid. You can use a glass or enamel pot too. I set the oven to 350 for 90 minutes and walk away. When it's done it's chewy not gooey! And it's so delicious just as it is!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pink Cauliflower!

I want to cook cauliflower and beets together. The beets will dye the cauliflower pink. Last October at the farmer's market I saw both orange and purple cauliflower!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Indian Surprise

I baked a pot of chic peas all day after soaking them overnight. I can't resist baking on a chilly day. But what started as beans and stock evolved into an Indian pot au feu. I dug out of the fridge a bunch of collard stems and outer leaves of cabbage that I had saved for stock, and a few orphan carrots from the bottom of the bag, and threw them in the pot. I also threw in a whole head of garlic still in its natural paper covering. I baked everything at 350 degrees. I tasted the broth and added salt and cheap port. Then I thought I'd fish out the large chunks of vegetables, but I couldn't bear to toss them out. So I pureed them in the food processor, adding some of the broth from the pot to help liquidate it. Then I returned it to the pot. I squeezed the soft garlic out of the head and added it to the pot along with adobe seasoning, more salt, ground cumin + cloves, olive oil, and red chili flakes. The chic peas floated in a thick green sea. It was delicious over brown rice.

White House Garden

Obamas to Plant White House Vegetable Garden at The White House! Pinch me, am I dreaming? Click here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Melt 4 1-ounce squares of unsweetened baking chocolate and a stick of butter in a covered dish in the microwave. Then let it cool. In a big bowl beat two eggs, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of vanilla. Then add 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 11/4 cups of sugar. Then add the cooled off melted butter and chocolate mixture. If you'd like add a cup of toasted walnuts or raisins or chocolate chips. Grease an 8" by 8" Pyrex baking dish and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Test with a toothpick - when it comes out clean it is done. Enjoy with fresh coffee.

Last night I went to make these brownies and we were low on baking chocolate. Then I remembered we had cocoa so I made them this way (below) and I like them even better!

Cocoa raisin brownies - follow the above recipe except:
add 2 cups of raisins instead of one, use 1/2 cup of plain powdered cocoa like Droste, use two sticks of butter instead of just one, use two squares of bittersweet baking chocolate instead of four, add an additional sprinkle of salt and a pinch of sugar to taste. My husband says the cocoa brownies are an even better flavor match with the raisins.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Red Hand Corned Beef

Every year our beloved Woonsocket butcher Jamie Sullivan hand corns his own beef for St. Patrick's Day. When he brines it, he colors the meat red using beets! He calls it red hand corned beef because his hands turn bright red when turning the meat over in the barrels of ice cold brine. Bill bought a piece yesterday and followed Jaime's instructions (spice packet included!) for cooking. He went to Fernandez Market for cabbage, turnips, carrots, onions and potatoes and cooked them up in the beef broth too. It came out great. I am dreaming about the leftovers for supper.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dynamite Sauce

Dynamite is a Woonsocket culinary phenomenon. It is a spicy meat and vegetable sauce that resembles the mixture used in a Sloppy Joe. Dynamite is usually served in a hotdog roll, but it also shows up on hamburgers and pizza. Restaurants in Woonsocket each have their own recipe, but dynamite is now for sale in a jar. The sales raise funds promoting Blackstone Valley tourism! Come to The Castle luncheonette and try it out for yourself.

Web Links:
The Tourism Council's Story of Dynamite
Photos of the Dynamite Cook-Off 2008
Dynamite in a Jar!

Monday, March 16, 2009

What Could Be Bad?

The past week I have baked pot au feu in order to warm the kitchen and our bellies. I rinsed and soaked kidney beans overnight and then baked them in water and a bit of olive oil (don't add salt until they are cooked or they will never get tender!). After a few hours in the oven, when beans were tender, I grabbed a sampling of all of the veggies kicking around the fridge drawers. I threw in the dark outer leaves of a cabbage, a few onions chopped, celery chopped; with leaves included, a few potatoes, carrots chopped but unpeeled, salt, cheap port wine, Adobo seasoning, and my brother-in-law Marcus Barrow's homemade sausages. I baked it all for another hour, but you could let it go all day at a lower temperature.

A few days later I had run out of onions and cabbage but I made another pot au feu using black beans. I added a cup of brown rice, then carrots and celery and wine, sausage, olive oil, and Adobo seasoning as above and let it bake a few more hours, adding more water when needed.

Today I made another stew with pinto beans, carrots, celery, port wine, a whole head of garlic thrown in and cooked in the skin. Later I took it out and squeezed out the cooked garlic like toothpaste and added that back in.

Each kind of bean and the different assorted veggies and sausages made a completely different stew - all of them were delicious on these raw March days.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


We were given a bunch of different things to add to bread dough as a Christmas gift from our niece Paula. My latest batch of sourdough bread had rye flour, rolled barley flakes, and a few tablespoons of ground flax seeds added to the usual six cups of whole wheat flour. I shaped the dough into four small boules. They came out great. I have also used additions of chic pea flour, soy flour, corn flour, rice flour, rye flour, barley flour, buckwheat flour, spelt flour...you name it! Experiment and have fun! You can also get these as whole grains and grind them in a hand cranked grain mill.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Take an onion and slice it and put it in a bowl. Zap it in the microwave for two minutes. Add grated extra sharp cheddar cheese and sliced Kalamata olives. Mix together. Enjoy on top of sourdough bread with mustard.