Mmmm Pie! and Other Considerations.

What I Cooked

Since January 20th I’ve been watching the world go to hell under our new Fearless Leader and I decided to blog about food. Why food? Well, why not food? The Resistance needs to eat and Napoleon said something about the army marching on its stomach, but we are not an army: we are the Loyal Opposition (meaning loyal to the Constitution rather than any party; I had to explain this definition to someone recently, so don’t be offended if you already know this because everyone does not know this).

Most of these are not my own recipes. They are ones I’ve collected over the years that I thought were good and people were too kind to tell me they weren’t. I’ve tweaked some of them a bit and other than the reduction of recipes (you’ve got a calculator, you can figure out how to halve a recipe without me) I will point out those changes. And there are a few family recipes whose origin is lost in the mists of time. Or something.

I began clearing out my closets and thoroughly cleaning the house after I recovered from the shock of the election, as a way of taking control of things I can actually control. On the 20th I announced I would clean out my pantry in order to avoid coverage of the inauguration and  went to the movies instead, but that’s another story.  I came home that day and baked Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. The original recipe called for raisins but chocolate chips are better and nicer and I like them:

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 Cup butter (1 + 1/2 sticks)                                       2/3 Cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 Cup granulated sugar                                               1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 Cup brown sugar                                                            1/2 tsp salt

1 egg                                                                                      1/2 tsp baking soda

2 Tbsp water                                                                       3 Cups quick-cooking oats

1 tsp vanilla extract                                                          1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease two cookie sheets or use parchment paper, because the cookies won’t stick and cleanup is easier.

Cream together butter & both sugars, beating until . Add egg and continue beating, then add the water and vanilla and mix some more.

Sift together flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda, and add to the mixing bowl. When well-mixed add the oats and beat on low, then stir in the chocolate chips on the lowest setting so they don’t break apart.

Use an ice cream disher or a large spoon to make a ball. Flatten each ball to make a 4″-5″ cookie, using a wet palm.  You will need to wet your hand several times but the idea is to keep it from sticking, not to add water to the cookie.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes. Remove to a rack and cool. Makes 25 to 30 large cookies.

I don’t remember what we had for supper that evening. Probably cookies.

To paraphrase Ogden Nash, we were much too sad to dine or sup, but a cookie would have cheered us up.

Just kidding. We had sandwiches of what passes for French bread in this burg, with butter spread on it and ham applied liberally, and a fruit salad made of what we had on hand.

January 21, 2017

On Saturday January 21, the day of the Women’s March, I decided for several reasons that I could not attend the local march, it hadn’t been 6 weeks since having abdominal surgery, being the most important. I’m fine, really, but the length of this march intimidated me eve though it wouldn’t have been an issue 3 months ago.

I felt a bit like a wuss because I’m not an invalid, but I know there will be more marches, more protests that I can join. I told someone yesterday that there has been a protest and/or march every day. Think about that.

Instead of going to the march I started cleaning out the pantry under the stairs. I have a bit left to do, going through the cookbooks and magazines like Cook’s, Eating Well, Martha Stewart’s Living, America’s Test Kitchen, Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Fine Cooking, and Saveur.  I am going through them, one by one, and eliminating the ones that have not a single recipe that I’ll ever make, donating them to Friends of the Library or some other organization. magazines

This is just part of the collection.

I’ve also been watching cooking shows to distract me for a while. Alton Brown has been a primary distraction.

That day 4.5 million marched in the US and on every continent, all seven continents, including Antartica: 30 people and some penguins. The Orange Usurper met with the CIA in front of the wall with the stars honoring some of the fallen agents and bragged about himself, how big his crowd was, and griped about the media who correctly portrayed the size of the crowds as 250k. He brought with him a coterie of 40 to cheer and clap.  He tried to distract us further by sending out his Press Secretary to read from a statement of lies about the size of the crowd at the inauguration, and to yell at the media about how they were unfair for reporting what he really did say and what did really happen.

That evening I made a version of Alton Brown’s chicken piccata for supper, altering it a bit, cutting it down from 8 servings so there were no leftovers. He used thighs rather than breasts because they are tastier and I used thighs for that reason and that they are cheaper :

Chicken Piccata

3 oz white wine (Sauvignon Blanc is nice; I used Pinot Grigio)     1 Cup all-purpose flour

4 oz chicken broth                                                                                       3 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 lemon, sliced* + 1/2 lemon for 1 1/2 Tbsp juice                                  2 Tbsp olive oil

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs                                                       8 oz sliced mushrooms

2 tsp Kosher salt                                                                                           3 Tbsp capers, drained

1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground                                                     2 Tbsp chopped parsley


Beaker or measuring cup, gallon freezer bag, meat pounder, 12-inch straight sided sauté pan with a lid that fits.

Combine the white wine, broth, and lemon juice in a beaker or cup, set aside.

Season the thighs with 1 tsp of the salt and the pepper.

Place  the flour in the gallon bag and add one thigh to the bag. Seal and shake to coat, then open the bag just enough to let some air out. Place the thigh on sturdy counter or cutting board and flatten it with a meat mallet or heavy implement of your choice, flipping the bag once during the process until the thigh is about 1/4″ thick. Mine didn’t flatten that much, so just flatten it a bit; it will be fine. Remove to a plate and continue with the rest of the thighs.

Place the sauté pan over high heat for 1 minute, then add 1 Tbsp each of the butter and oil. When the butter stops bubbling, carefully add 4 of the thighs. Cook  while  gently shaking the pan for about 90 seconds, then slip and repeat for another 90 seconds.

Remove the chicken from the pan, add another Tbsp of butter and oil and when the butter is melted add the remaining 4 thighs and cook as before.

Remove the chicken from the pan and add the mushrooms and the remaining 1 tsp of salt. Dos or stir to sauté for 2 minutes or until the mushrooms start to turn golden on the cooked sides.

Stir the mushrooms out to the edges of the pan and add the capers, right in the middle. Stir, cooking for another minute.

Add the chicken back to the pan and reduce the heat to low. Distribute the lemon slices (optional) across the top of the chicken, add the wine mixture and put on the lid. Braise for 5 to 7 minutes until the chicken is tender. Remove to a platter, and add the remaining 1 Tbsp of butter to the pan. Boil sauce gently, stirring constantly until it reaches a saucy consistency, about 30 seconds, then pour it over the chicken. ou can grind on some ore pepper and top with parsley if you wish.

*optional. I did not slice a lemon and adorn our chicken with it and it was great. YMMV

January 22, 2017

The giant Orange Cheato is still ranting about the press and the size of his crowd (250k, one of the smallest in 40 years) because not only did Obama have far more people at both inaugurations, the Women’s March on Saturday was twice the size of his inauguration, and the sister marches were really big with 750k marching in Los Angeles. And now he and his Press Secretary, Mouth of Sauron, are claiming the CIA gave Lumpy a standing O. They stood throughout his speech because he never invited them to sit, and he brought a clacque of 40 to cheer and clap for him. Conway introduced a term she likes to call Alternative Facts. Merriam-Webster Dictionary ain’t having it.

I was reading through a couple of cookbooks and I had a salmon filet in the freezer that needed to be used so I made:

Mustard Roasted Fish.

(This recipe appears in Ina Garten’s Back to Basics as well as several other places online. She credits a friend in Paris, Myriam Richard-Delorme.)

4 8oz fish fillets, red snapper or trout                            1 Tbsp whole grain mustard

Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper                            2 Tbsp minced shallots

8 oz crème fraîche                                                                 2 tsp drained capers

3 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 425°

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, or use an oven-safe baking dish. Place the fish fillets skin side down on the pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Combine the créme fraîche, both mustards, shallots, capers, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in a small bowl. Spoon the sauce evenly over the fillets completely covering them.Bake for 10 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish, until it’s barely done. The fish will flake at the thickest part when it’s done. Be sure not to overcook it (like I did with my salmon. A crime!). It says to spoon the sauce from the pan over the top but there wasn’t any, not really . I had sauce left in the bowl because I cut the recipe in half so there wouldn’t be leftovers. It was delicious and helped my slightly over-cooked salmon.

In reviewing my notes, red snapper would have been a better choice for this dish.

January 23, 2017

Monday, more lies about the crowd size complete with a visual aid dated…. the day of the Women’s March; I’ve lost track of the disturbing Real World issues that got lost among the tweets and shouting and lying. Oh, and Trump declared his inauguration date The National Day of Patriotic Devotion.

I. Can’t. Even.

So I made peanut butter cookies from an old Better Homes and Gardens food processor cookbook:

Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 Cup granulated sugar                                              1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 Cup brown sugar, packed                                       1 1/4 Cup all-purpose flour

1/2 Cup peanut butter                                                    3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 Cup (one sitck) butter                                              1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

Preheat oven to 375°.

 Place the steel blade in bowl, add the sugars, peanut butter, egg, and vanilla and process until creamy. Stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Process until the flour is just mixed.

Shape dough into 1″ balls and place 2″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet (I use cooking parchment) Crisscross with fork tines to flatten slightly and to make the classic design that seems to only be used for peanut butter cookies.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 30 – 36 cookies.

Then we went out to supper at a friend’s bar/bistro.


January 24, 2017

Today Putin’s Poodle claimed with no evidence whatsoever, that massive voter fraud had cost him the popular vote. He also tried to gag a number of Federal Agencies, but that’s not working out so well for him and is probably unconstitutional. There’s so much more, and supper was not what I would call successful, so I’m going to pretend it didn’t happen . This is not a recipe I need to warn you away from, it was an experiment that turned out meh. Just meh. I’m going to turn the leftovers into something else later.

January 25, 2017

Some people are scared and worried about people who aren’t worried but should be. I’ve been a bit busy this week trying to talk people off the ledge, show them what they can do other than sitting at a keyboard and whining.

Alternative facts became a thing on Sunday and the NY Times is finally FINALLY calling them lies. David Fhahrenthold of the Washington Post has been very good to follow for information, both before the election and since. Kurt Eichenwald is another, from Newsweek. Both these guys deserve a Pulitzer. There are many other reporters from online sites, such as Karoli Kuns at Crooks and Liars, Dana Houle at Daily Kos; I’d have to dig up their names but they all do a good job. I don’t agree with them 100% of the time, but their research is good and that gets my respect.

For supper I made pork chops and you don’t need a recipe for that. I did make tapenade from a recipe in America’s Test Kitchen. It needs to rest for 18 hours, which brings us up to

January 26, 2017

Black Olive Tapenade

The unnamed author talks a bit about how recipes for tapenade fall short of the mark of good tapenade, either too salty or oily or fishy, and how they sorted through various olive choices and figured out how to temper the saltiness by grinding some pine nuts to a paste before adding the olives. I am grateful for all of the research because my nice big grocery store doesn’t carry any form of tapenade. There’s a perfectly declicious one that we used to be able to buy from the market in another town but this one doesn’t stock it, and it’s not the only store with this particular failing. So I sallied forth to buy the ingredients I didn’t have on hand, like anchovies and the right olives, and surprisingly they did carry the olives called for. I like this market but ownership has changed back and forth rapidly over the past 3 years which has resulted in a bit of dumbing down, like when they dropped créme fraîche and the other market in town had no idea what I was talking about when I asked them. They’ve closed shop, having been bought by our store and then eventually buying our store after a series of rash financial maneuvers. It’s complicated and irritating. They also dropped almost all Herdez products (mmm, Herdez salsa!) and the wonderful Knorr stock in the little tubs that come 4 in a pack.  We’ve asked for those items but not enough other people have because the créme fraîche is the only one that has returned.

Anyway, here’s the recipe:

Black Olive Tapenade

1/3 Cup untoasted pine nuts                                               2 anchovy fillets, rinsed & patted dry

1 1/2 Cups pitted Kalamata olives                                     2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 Cup pitted salt cured black olives                             1/2 garlic clove, minced

3 Tbsp capers, rinsed                                                           1/4 Cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. Process pine nuts in food processor with metal blade until reduced to paste, about 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides and repeat twice more.

2. Scrape down the sides  and add olives, capers, anchovies,, mustard, and garlic. Pulse until finely chopped, 10 to 15 pulses scraping down the sides halfway through. Transfer to medium bowl and stir in the olive oil until well-combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 18 hours or up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature and stir thoroughly before serving.

Notes: I used anchovy paste, 1/2 tsp = 1 anchovy.

Tonight we had some before supper and it is pretty strong and salty, and it is delicious. I love salty but the test batches before he lit on this version must have been so salty they almost burned the tongue. I think I will hunt for a slightly milder recipe because this might be too strong for most of our guests at parties. Meanwhile, we get to eat this in small doses.YUM!

Note: this tapenade settles down by the second day and is just right. I would make it two days before a party because the flavors have blended.



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