You must love to wash dishes to be a good cook

I have been cooking a lot lately and one of my favorite memories is when my niece, Rachael, had her first dinner party. She and her husband live in an apartment in Boston with a tiny kitchen. That did not stop them from making a very ambitious meal- butternut squash soup,no knead bread, sauteed mushrooms, spinach salad (?) and more.  I love this picture of the kitchen-there were stacks of dishes and food piled everywhere!

You have to clean up as you go along when you cook or things can get out of hand. I remember my first cooking job in a restaurant kitchen and the chef kept asking me if “my mother was going to show up”? I couldn’t figure out what he was asking but he was teasing me that my area was a mess and was I waiting for my mother to come clean it up!

It takes a lot of work to cook as there are zillions of pots and pans that are involved. Cleaning up after a dinner party can be a disaster but it seems people are always willing to help. I organize my thanksgiving menu by how much I can handle to cook and clean up in one day or one morning and then pace my prepping and cooking accordingly. No matter what, there is always a ton of dishes at the end of that meal! Speaking of which, I just noticed I haven’t cleaned up from my previous post on Custard!


This is the simplest custard recipe from my aunt, Ann Irish. It is so fast to make and everyone loves custard!

Makes 6

Beat slightly to mix:

3 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 t. salt

Scald 2 cups of milk or cream. Slowly whisk it into the egg mixture. Add 1/2 t. vanilla. Pour into 6 custard cups and set in a pan of hot water (bain marie). Bake @ 350 for 45-48 minutes.

Veal Cacciatore

I have never cooked a veal roast before and was quite shocked at the price of it ($10/lb) but felt certain I needed to try it. I could tell while I was making it that this will be a winning recipe and perfect for a party. This recipe comes from Gourmet, January 2009. I bought a veal chuck roast as they did not have a shoulder roast. Although we only ate this twice, it makes incredible leftovers as a ragu and served with pasta. I am so happy I tried this recipe!

2/3 cup dry white wine

1/3 cup broken dried porcini (1/4 oz.)

5-6# boneless veal shoulder roast

1/4 cup olive oil, divided

1/4 # pancetta, chopped

2 medium onions, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes in juice

1 1/2 6″ rosemary sprigs

2 Turkish or 1 California bay leaves

1/3 cup Nicoise olives, pitted

Serve with polenta

Preheat oven to 325 degrees with rack in the middle. Bring wine to a simmer and add the porcini-remove from heat and let soak.Pat the veal dry and season with 3/4 t. salt and 1/2 t. black pepper. Heat 2 T. oil in a wide 6-8 quart Dutch oven over medium hight heat until it shimmers, then brown veal, turning, about 12 minutes.

Transfer veal to a plate. Discard fat and add 2 T. olive oil. Add the cubed pancetta and saute over medium high heat until it begins to brown. Add onions and saute until softened, about 8 minutes. Drain the porcini in a sieve over a bowl and save the wine. Coarsely chop the porcini and add to pancetta mixture with carrots, celery and garlic. Saute 8 minutes. Stir in wine and cook for 2 minutes, until most has evaporated.

Coarsely chop the tomatoes and add to the pot with the juice. Simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 15 minutes. Add veal with any juices that have accumulated, rosemary, bay leaves and olives. Cover pot and braise veal in the oven turning occasionally, until the center of the meat is fork tender, about 2 3/4 to 3 hours.

Transfer veal to a cutting board and let stand, loosely covered. Simmer sauce over medium heat, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and a pinch of sugar if desired. Discard bay leaves and rosemary. Thickly slice veal and return to pot, basting with sauce.

Veal can be braised and sliced one day ahead and chilled in sauce, covered once cool. Gently reheat in sauce. Serves 6-8.

Wild Rice and Edamame Salad

I found this recipe on line through a CBS site -it is so colorful and full of my favorite foods. I used two cups of dry wild rice to make 4 cups cooked. I just covered the wild rice with water and 3″ to spare and cooked it for about 45-50 minutes. Drain and you are ready to make this salad which makes enough for 8-1o servings easily!

1/2 cup blanched sliced or slivered almonds,

2 T. sesame seeds

4 cups cooked wild rice

3 medium scallions, white and light green parts,      thinly sliced

2 cups cooked, shelled edamame, thawed and cooked   if frozen

2 medium carrots, small dice

1/2 cup dried cranberries

3 T. olive oil

2 T. toasted sesame oil

1/4 rice vinegar

2 t. honey

salt and pepper to taste

Toast nuts in medium frying pan over medium heat, stirring often until golden about 8-10 minutes-do not let burn. Transfer to a bowl. Toast sesame seeds in pan about 2-3 minutes-transfer to bowl with the almonds.

Add the rice, scallions, edamame, carrots and cranberries to a large bowl with almonds and sesame seeds.

Whisk olive oil, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, honey and a pinch of salt and pepper until combined. Drizzle over the rice mixture and toss to combine. Taste and season with more salt, pepper and vinegar. Cover and chill for at least one hour before serving.

My sister Meg’s Granola Bars

My sister Meg is a wonderful cook and especially loves baking. She adapted this recipe and introduced these to her local coffee shop, Icons, in Grand Rapids. It is by far one of the best granola bars! I recommend lining the pan with parchment as I have had a hard time getting the bars out of the pan. I bag up the non bars and give them to my husband to eat on ice cream or out of the bag!

Recipe By: Meg adapted from here: You can vary the fruits and nuts-I did not have coconut, pecans or flax so I made up the weight in pistachios, sesame seeds and more almonds.

Serving Size: 14


9 1/2 ounces oats – (about 4 1/3 cup)
3 1/2 ounces oat flour (about 2/3 cup)
9 3/8 ounces sugar- (about 1 1/4 cup)
1 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
This total amount of nuts, seeds, fruit measures about 4 3/4 cups (so you could substitute anything and aim for 4 3/4 cups). For Icons, I do the following:
3 3/4 ounces dried cherries- about 3/4 cup
3 3/4 ounces raisins- about 3/4 cup
3 ounces pecans- about 3/4 cup
3 ounces pumpkin seeds- about 3/4 cup
3 ounces sunflower seeds- about 2/3 cup
1 ounce flax seeds- about 3/8 cup
1 1/2 ounces sliced almonds- about 1/2 cup
3 ounces coconut- about 1 cup
6 ounces peanut butter ( about 2/3 cup)
12 ounces   butter (1 1/2 sticks)
5 1/2 ounces honey (1/2 cup)
2.5 ounces light corn syrup (1/4 cup)
2 T. water
2 t. vanilla


Mix all of the dry ingredients together (including nuts, seeds and fruits)
Heat and blend together the wet ingredients in a sauce pan.
Stir into the dry ingredients well till all coated.
Spray a 9 x 12 pan  with Pam ( I use a coated Wilsonart pan from Meijers or a coated Capalon pan I got a Target- both were sold with a nice plastic cover on them) and put the mixture into it. Pack it down hard with a flat metal spatula.
Bake at 350 for 28-30 minutes. Let cool about 3 hours and cut into bars. I cut it into 14 bars for the coffee shop- each is just under 1 3/4″ wide. (It is easier to cut the pan into 16 bars since it is an even number but I wanted to make the Icons bars a little bigger.)

Nigel Slater’s Frosted Marmalade Cake

Nigel Slater is a wonderful British  cookbook author. In this recipe he uses a self rising flour which you can make by using 2 cups flour, 2 t. baking powder and 1 t. salt. Remove 1/4 cup of this mixture to save for the future as you only  need 1 3/4 cups. This cake is moist and delicious! After making this cake a second time, the middle collapsed again-I just flipped it over so it doesn’t show but I will be playing with the leavening in this recipe.

3/4 cup butter, room temp.

3/4 cup sugar plus 2T

1 large orange, well scrubbed

3 large eggs, room temp.

1/4 cup orange marmalade

1 3/4 cup self rising flour, see note above ** I am experimenting with the baking powder amt.

Frosting-you can make while cake is cooling and let it sit and thicken

4 oz. confectioners sugar, sifted (this must be weighed as 4 oz. measures out to almost one cup)

juice of 1/2 orange, 2 generous T.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 10 by 4″ loaf pan with buttered parchment. Place butter and sugar in mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Finely grate orange zest and juice each half into a separate bowl. Break eggs into a small bowl and beat lightly. With mixer on medium speed, gradually beat in egg mixture, a little at a time. Beat in marmalade and orange zest.

Remove bowl and fold in flour, slowly and a little at a time. Gently stir in the orange juice. Spoon into pan and smooth the top. Bake 40 minutes. Let cool in pan and then on a wire rack.

Sift confectioners sugar into a bowl and stir in orange juice. Drizzle icing over cake and let set.

(He also mentions using a little orange blossom water in the icing which sounds divine!)

Short Ribs for a cold night

I made these short ribs last weekend and we ate some version of them all week. It is a little time consuming but worth the effort in the end. This recipe comes from Bon Appetit!

5# bone in beef short ribs, about 2-3″ pieces

good salt and fresh black pepper

3 T. vegetable oil

3 medium onions, chopped

3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

2 celery stalks, chpped

3 T. flour

1 T. tomato paste

1 750 ml bottle of dry red wine, preferable Cab Sauvignon

10 sprigs flat leaf parsley

8 sprigs fresh thyme

4 sprigs oregano, if available

2 sprigs rosemary

2 dried or fresh bay leaves

1 head of garlic, halved crosswise

4 cups low salt beef stock

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season short ribs with salt and pepper on all sides. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat and sear the ribs in 2 or 3 batches, browning on all sides. Remove to a plate . Pour all but 3 T. drippings off from pan.

In the same pot, brown the onions, carrots and celery over medium high heat , stirring often until the onions are browned. Add flour and tomato paste and stir for 2-3 minutes. Stir in wine, then add short ribs and any juices. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Add all herbs and garlic. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil, cover and transfer to the oven.

Cook 2 -2 1/2 hours until tender. Transfer ribs to a platter. Strain the sauce and degrease it. Season with salt and pepper. Serve in shallow bowls over mashed potatoes with the sauce spooned over.

Posole with Winter Vegetables

This recipe is from an old friend, Kathi Long from The Williams Sonoma series, New American Cooking, called The Southwest.  It makes a huge batch! You may want to try a half batch first. Posole is similiar to canned hominy so if you cannot find it dried or frozen, substitute the canned. I think a full recipe feeds at least 14-16 people! The garnishes can really make this fun and festive.


2 cups dried posole, soaked overnight in water and drained or 1# thawed frozen posole

2 white onions, coarsely chopped

2 large cloves of garlic, chopped

1 T. dried Mexican oregano

1 T. chile caribe or 2 t. red pepper flakes

1/2 cup olive oil

2 small carrots, peeled and chopped

2 small parsnips, peeled and chopped

1 fennel bulb, save a few fronds, chopped coarsely

3# butternut , halved, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2″ cubes

28 oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice

8 cups chicken stock, plus more as needed

1/2 cup white wine

2 t. EA. cumin and coriander seed toasted and ground

large pinch of saffrom

salt to taste

Garnishes-1 cup sour cream or creme fraiche, 1/4 small head green cabbage, finely shredded, 1/2 cup cilantro, cubed avocado, sliced radishes, 3 limes, cut into wedges

In a large saucepan, combine the soaked posole, onions, garlic, oregano and chile with water to cover by 3″. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover partially and reduce heat to medium low. Cook 1 hour or however long it takes for the posole to pop, like popcorn.

In a large sucepan over medium heat warm the olive oil. Add the carrots, parsnips and fennel and cook for ten minutes, until slightly softened. Add the cubed squash and cook 5-10 minutes. Stir in spices, wine, tomatoes and salt. Add posole and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered one hour.Add more stock to thin to desired consistency!

Ladle into warm bowls and garnish!


 A friend from Oregon taught me this sauce-she makes it with roasted red bell peppers. I have seen it made with dried peppers, such as red New Mexican chiles and guajillo peppers. It is delicious on ANY thing but I am making it for my black eyed pea falafels! You can make it in a mortar and pestle which is more traditional than the food processor, which is easier.

2 Roasted Red Bell Peppers

2 Garlic cloves

1/2 t. Cumin

1/2 t. Coriander, ground

1/4 t.Cayenne

Salt and Pepper to taste

Lemon Juice to taste

1-2 T.Extra Virgin Olive Oil

optional: I have seen ground caraway as an addition but have not been brave enough to try it!