Monday, April 29, 2013

The Rochester Public Market cookbook

Michael and Marisa gave me this cookbook as a gift.  When I opened the package, I was dumbfounded.  What?  A Rochester cookbook that I didn't know about?  No way!

You can click on any picture for a better view

If you have spent any time at all in Rochester, you know about the Public Market dating back to the early 1900s.  On any given Saturday morning during the growing season, folks from every walk of life make their way to the Public Market to get fresh produce, cheese, fresh fish, fresh cut flowers, and other novelties at the Public Market.  It is a colorful atmosphere.  The food vendors, the "Bonana, Bonana, Bonana" man, a diverse clientele and lots of other sights to take in.

Here is one of many wonderful recipes from this book.

Tomato Basil Tart

1 prepared pie crust
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
4 tomatoes
1 cup fresh basil leaves
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place pie crust in a 9 inch pie pan and pinch the edges.  Bake for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella cheese.  Cool while preparing other ingredients.

Slice tomatoes and place on top of the melted cheese.

Chop basil leaves and garlic, either in a food processor or with a knife.  Sprinkle over tomatoes.

In a bowl, combine remaining mozzarella, mayonnaise, Parmesan, and pepper.  Spoon over basil layer, spreading evenly.

Bake uncovered until bubbly (about 35 minutes).  Cool slightly and serve.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

First steak on the grill of the season

I love to cook on my grill.  I enjoy sitting by the grill, with my glass of wine, and watch the world go by as my meat cooks.  This spring has been a bit cold to do that - comfortably!  This weekend has been sunny and warm.  I mowed the lawn, for the first time, and spent as much time outside as I could.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Passionate Vegetarian

Crescent Dragonwagon is a colorful writer.  This is one of two of her cookbooks that I have in my collection.  You don't have to be vegetarian (I am not!) to enjoy her recipes.

Passionate Vegetarian, is filled with over 1000 pages of "robust recipes with notes on cooking, eating, loving, and living fearlessly."

This is a book you will enjoy reading as much as trying the endless variety of her recipes.  

Once again, I could not choose just one recipe to feature.  Even the two below - as wonderful as they are - can't begin to give you a sense of what you are in for in trying her recipes!

Her Pear and Parsnip Soup grabbed my attention because it is simple and unique.  I have made it quite a few times and it is always satisfying.  First, let me say, throughout the book, she calls for vegetable broth.  I always use chicken broth (or beef broth if it seems appropriate).  I told you, I am not a true vegetarian!

3 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
3 to 4 medium parsnips, cored, and chopped
6 1/2 cups vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
watercress sprigs

Combine the pears, parsnips, and 2 1/2 cups of the stock in a medium pot over medium heat.  Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to a simmer, and let cook, partially covered, until the parsnip pieces are tender, about 15 minutes.

Drain, reserving both the liquid and the solids.  Puree the solids with a little of the reserved stock, either in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Return the pureed mixture and reserved stock to the soup pot, along with the remaining stock.  Season to taste and salt and pepper.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Serve hot, with a watercress sprig in each bowl.

Cornmeal-Oatmeal Blueberry Bread

You are in for a real treat with this one!  It makes one large or 3 small loaves.

1 1/2 cups white flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons corn oil
2 large eggs
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
finely grated rind of one lemon
1 cup blueberries, washed
2 to 4 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup rolled oats (not instant)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Use one 8 x 4 inch loaf pan for one loaf or three 5 x 2 inch pans.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda into a large bowl.  Add the cornmeal, sugar, and salt and stir to combine.

In a second bowl, beat together the oil, eggs, buttermilk, and lemon rind until well combined.

Combine the blueberries, walnuts and oats and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the flour-oatmeal mixture over them.  Gently stir to combine.

Quickly stir the egg mixture into the flour-cornmeal mixture, using as few strokes as possible.  Gently stir in the blueberry mixture.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s).  Bake 45 to 55 minutes for one large loaf or 35 to 40 minutes for the smaller loaves.  Check 3/4 of the way through and if browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil.

Let the baked bread cool 10 minutes in the pan(s), then turn out onto a rack.


If you enjoy cooking, you are in for a real treat with this cookbook!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Recipes Worth Sharing

Recipes Worth Sharing, from Favorite Recipes Press, copyright 2008, is a real treasure of exceptional recipes.  The Executive Editor, Sheila Thomas, writes, "In developing this book, I put out a call for recipes and stories from organizations that have published community cookbooks.  Nothing could have prepared me for the flood of responses I received. Many of the groups called special meetings to choose their most prized and trusted recipes. . . . I'm thrilled to be able to present recipes from more than eighty regional cookbooks, representing sixty-three organizations and sixty-one communities throughout twenty-six states."

Just the title alone was enough to catch my eye!

So now comes the most difficult part for me in writing these cookbook posts.  It is a Sunday morning and I have spent two hours over untold numbers of cups of coffee and dozens of interruptions from two Black Labs vying for my attention to choose just the right recipes to feature here!

I hope you find something here that you want to try.

From the Junior League of Birmingham, Alabama:

Caribbean Salsa

1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 each ripe papaya and mango peeled and finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped pineapple
3/4 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine the beans, papaya, mango, pineapple, pineapple juice, lime juice, bell peppers, onion, and cilantro in a bowl and mix well. Stir in the cumin, salt and pepper.  Chill, covered in the refrigerator.

From the Junior League of Roanoke Valley, Roanoke, Virginia:

Virginia Apple Walnut Cake

4 large Granny Smith apples
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/3 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup walnut halves

Line a 10 inch tube pan with baking parchment or coat with shortening.  Peel the apples and slice 1/4 inch thick. Toss with the honey and cinnamon in a bowl.

Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl.  Add the oil, eggs, orange juice and vanilla and beat at low speed to mix.  Beat at medium high speed for 2 minutes or until smooth.

Spread 1/3 of the batter in the prepared tube pan.  Drain the apples, reserving any juice.  Arrange 1/3 of the apple slices in a spoke design design over the batter and sprinkle with the chopped walnuts.  Repeat the process to use the remaining ingredients.

Pour the remaining ingredients over the top and arrange the walnut halves around the outer edge.  Place on a baking sheet with a rim.  Bake at 350 degrees on the center oven rack for one hours and 20 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cover loosely with foil if necessary to prevent overbrowning.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Loosen the cake from the side of the pan with a knife and remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spring is coming. . . slowly, but surely

This is one of my lilac bushes along the fence in the backyard.  Soon they will be full of leaves and blooms.  But right now I'm just excited to see these buds - a promise of warm weather to come!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Another Deborah Madison winner!

I'm a fan of Deborah Madison's cookbooks.  I have her popular, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and her Local Flavors and use them often.  Her recent book, Vegetarian Suppers, is destined to be another staple in the serious cook's kitchen.

This one highlights simple, easy to prepare, casual meals.

I tried her Cabbage and Leek Gratin with Mustard Cream.  I think what attracted me to this recipe is that it is unique from what I usually put together in the kitchen.

While I wouldn't rate it a blue ribbon, it certainly is tasty and worthwhile.  The Mustard Cream sauce definitely adds to the flavor.

Try it!

Cabbage and Leek Gratin

1 1/2 pounds green cabbage, preferably Savoy, cut into 2 inch squares
3 large leeks, chopped
sea salt
1/3 cup flour
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sour cream
3 eggs
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley or dill
Mustard Cream (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and oil a 6 cup gratin dish.  Put a large pot of water on to boil for the cabbage.  While it's heating, chop the cabbage and the leeks.  When the water boils, add salt to taste and the  After 5 minutes, pour the vegetables into a collander.  Press down firmly with a rubber scraper to force out as much water as possible.

Whisk the flour, milk, sour cream, eggs, and herbs together, then add the cabbage and leeks.  Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt.  Pour into prepared dish and bake until firm and lightly browned, about 45 minutes.  Serve with Mustard Cream.

Mustard Cream

1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
3/4 cup sour cream or whole-milk yogurt
2 to 3 teaspoons prepared mustard

Mix the shallot and vinegar in a small dish and let stand for 5 minutes.  Whisk in the sour cream and mustard.  Adjust the seasonings to your taste.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Hearts & Flour (a cookbook)

Hearts and Flour is a publication of the Women's Club of Pittsford (suburb of Rochester, NY), copyright 1988, another oldie in my vast cookbook collection.

A quote from the forward of the book, Flatboats to Breadboards, gives a look back at Rochester history:

"In the early days, Western New York was known for hearty pioneers who tilled the earth and led the nation in the production of wheat.  Our forefathers harnessed the water of the Genesee River for power to mill the wheat and shipped the fruits of their labors via flatboats on the Erie Canal to an expanding country.  Calling itself the breadbasket of the nation, the area outproduced all other milling centers in America."

As always, it is difficult for me to choose just one or two recipes from any cookbook I own to showcase here.  If I thought enough of the cookbook to own it, then there had to be dozens of recipes that caught my eye!  But here is one I am sure will become a favorite in your home.

You can click on the photo to enlarge it.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Cookbooks in my collection

Back in 2011, I did a series of posts on my extensive cookbook collection, highlighting an individual cookbook in each post, telling why it is important to me and featuring a recipe or two from the book.  I am amazed that two years later, these posts still get heavy traffic online.

So I decided to revive the cookbook posts.  I am very proud of my collection, numbering well into the hundreds.  Yes, I said hundreds!  I've been around awhile and have been collecting cookbooks since the mid-1960's.

I wasn't born a good cook.  I was raised in a home with a mother who was a very "stale" cook.  We had the same few meals all my growing up years at home.  I remember sometime in my high school years hearing someone talk about lasagna.  I had no idea what that was.

As I grew into an adult, married and had a family, I became fascinated with cooking and baking and all the different cuisines.

I could never choose one cookbook that I could say is my very favorite.  I love them all!  But one in my collection is rather unique!

The Better Homes and Gardens Heritage Cookbook, copyright 1975, is as much a history of food in America as it is a collection of recipes.  Being a history enthusiast, I was easily drawn to this one.

It traces the evolution of food and cooking in American from the very early days to modern times and demonstrates how settlers who came here brought their own cuisine with them.

Here is an excerpt from the forward of this wonderful book:

"When people move, they take their favorite recipes with them.  Some are written - some are not, but the recipes are an important memory of home.  History books say a great deal about clearing land, building cities, or fighting battles, but very little about what was on the dinner table while these events occurred.  This is a different kind of history book - it is a working cookbook with the emphasis on the people who settles this country and what they ate.  Historical details help you keep track of what was happening."

It was very, very difficult to choose one recipe to feature here.  I finally settled on the Yorkshire Pudding recipe below, probably because the first time I ever had Yorkshire Pudding was at my mother-in-law's table.  She made it often and I loved it.

1 8 pound beef roast
4 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt

Cook the roast in a shallow pan.  When done, remove the meat from the pan, cover and keep warm.  Reserve 1/4 cup of the meat drippings.  Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees.  Combine eggs, flour, milk, and salt.  Beat 1 1/2 minutes with an electric mixer.  Pour half the reserved dripping into each of two 9x9x2 baking pans. Pour half the batter into each pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Serve with the roast.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Marinated Vegetables

In my quest to eat more fruits and vegetables, I am constantly looking for different ways to prepare them.  I don't follow the Mediterranean Diet to the letter, but what I eat is often in that direction.

I found this recipe on the internet and it's a winner, folks!

Steam a variety of vegetables.  This time, I used yellow and red bell peppers, red baby potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts.  Use whatever you like, just aim for a colorful variety.


3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons water
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon (or several shakes) hot sauce

Pour this mixture over the steamed vegetables.  Mix.  Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Friday afternoon surprise!

I was at my desk at work, minding my own business, when out of the blue, a co-worker walked in my office.  "Were you ever a cub scout leader?"

"Yes"  How did she know that?  That was YEARS ago.

"And you have had camp cooking recipes printed in several cookbooks?"

At this point, my jaw dropped!

"And once you made a coffeecake for breakfast in a dutch oven at camp and campers from all around followed the smell of it cooking?"

The look on my face made her laugh.  She was enjoying this mystery!

She is a new leader of a Girl Scout troop for 7 and 8 year old girls and she's been trying to learn the ropes of being a good leader.  She ran across several Scout cookbooks that my recipes have been printed in, saying, "I knew when I saw Sherry Bennett from Rochester, NY, it had to be you!"

She was surprised to learn that "back in the day" I did a lot of backpacking in the Adirondacks, Pennsylvania and into Canada!  Geez, that seems like a lifetime ago.

So what followed was a conversation on my joy of the outdoors and brief tales of some of my adventures over the years.  Her idea of camping is at a hotel!  I told her with kids in Scouts, that would change.