Watch It Wiggle, See It Jiggle

There was a time, in our recent history of foods, recipes containing gelatin were considered a gastronomic experience.

One of the most recognized brands of gelatin was *Jell-O. In the early part of the 20th century, Jell-O was a revolutionary new product.

In 1897, Pearle Wait, a carpenter in LeRoy, was putting up a cough remedy and laxative tea in his home. He experimented with gelatine and came up with a fruit flavored dessert which his wife, May, named Jell-O. He tried to market his product but he lacked the capital and the experience.

In 1904, Ladies Home Journal launched the printed portion of the first Jell-O “best seller” recipe booklet. Jell-O became a household word with their colored illustrations.

“By 1930, there appeared a vogue in American cuisine for congealed salads, and the company introduced lime-flavored Jell-O to complement the add-ins that cooks across the country were combining in these aspics and salads. Popular Jell-O recipes often included ingredients like cabbage, celery, green peppers, and even cooked pasta”.

And so, the nightmare begins-

A mélange of cottage cheese, vinegar, onions, seafood salad, and  lime Jell-O!

‘Chicken Relish Mold’  combined with pickles and chicken!  To make it more “chickenie” don’t forget the chicken bouillon.

‘Jellied Vegetable Medley’ with vegetable bouillon and mayonnaise.

Sounds like a punishment rather than a meal!

Another gastronomic experience consisting of green beans and pimento suspended in lemon Jell-O.
This ‘Barbecue Salad’ consists of just tomato sauce, vinegar, salt & pepper, and Jell-O.
The ‘Cardinal Salad, consists of beet juice, vinegar, onions, horseradish, cooked beets.

To make sure you get your daily requirement of veggies, we introduce the ‘Vegetable Salad’.  Who would be able to resist a congealed pile of cauliflower, diced tomato, cabbage with the added flavor of grated onion and vinegar suspended in Jell-O.

Mmm, Mmm!

“By the 1950s, salads would become so popular that Jell-O responded with savory and vegetable flavors such as Celery, Italian, Mixed Vegetable and Seasoned Tomato”.

Seasoned Tomato, Italian Salad…!

I am not surprised to find these flavors has since been discontinued.

When I think of Jell-O, I think of dessert.

Do any of these recipes  appeal to you?

*Jell-O is a registered trademark of Kraft Foods.

When You’re Up Against Your Memories

When you’re up against your memories, remember: You’re simplifying your life, not erasing your past.

We are still decluttering and purging our needless things. It’s taking longer than I had anticipated, but we are slowly proceeding. In our garage, we have amassed a large pile of accumulated possessions that we need to get rid of before we continue. We are donating these things to a worthy cause. I am going to place it all, neatly, into empty bins before I call them. I am delighted to say, we only have the kitchen left to do.

decluttering purging happy

In the meantime, I have deleted and cleaned up computer files. I have saved a few pictures that I had taken of (you guessed it) our meals. To keep a visual record and for future reference, I am posting them here then deleting them from my files.

meals
Pork Cutlet & Scalloped Potatoes – Chicken & Sundried Tomatoes  
Steak & Cheese Subs/Cottage Fries – Homemade Sub Rolls
lemon curd and cream pastry
Lemon Curd & (stabilized) Whipped Cream Pastries
meatloaf
Meatloaf
tagliatelle_salad
Iceburg Mixed Salad – Tagliatelle with Prosciutto & Peas
keylime cond milk
Homemade Condensed Milk – Keylime Pie
soups
Cream of Potato Soup – Italian Sausage & Vegetable Soup

Tomorrow, it’s back to the task of organizing and purging.

Good bye, clutter!

Maple Almond Butter Cookies

It’s doubtful that one could improve on the delectable, simple, well-known Peanut Butter Cookie. To some, a homemade peanut butter cookie can bring back childhood memories.

As the old cliché proclaims, memories from “simpler times”.

Not having enough peanut butter and a jar of maple-almond butter on hand, I adapted the well-known Peanut Butter Cookie and baked “Maple Almond Butter Cookies.”

maple almond butter cookies

*Maple Almond Butter Cookies
Yield: about 30 cookies
Ingredients:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup maple almond butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
• Mix sugars, almond butter, butter, almond extract, vanilla extract and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm.
• Heat oven to 375ºF.
• Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheet. (Do not flatten as you would with peanut butter cookies).
• Bake 8 to 9 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.

maple almond butter

*Adapted from this recipe: “Peanut Butter Cookie

These cookies were delicious.  They have a taste of their own and cannot be compared to a peanut butter cookie.  Both are equally tasty.

So, I will sit back and take in the day over a cup of espresso and a few of these cookies.

Dolce far Niente.”

What Brings Us Together

When children grow, leave home and move more than a thousand miles, you find yourself looking back to the past.

The solitude leaves me alone with my thoughts.

As you ponder on ago, you find yourself in a near trance, in your own little world where you shut out the present moment and dreamily stroll through the sights and sounds of an ordinary home where each got excited about holidays, birthdays, milestones, celebrations or just being together.

heart9

You recall how the smells of a cooking meal, or how bread baking could make the home feel comfy and cozy.

dill bread

You remember the laughter, the joy, and how we comforted each other through tears, and heartaches.

As I abruptly come back to real-time, I sigh.

Reminiscing can either bring a smile to your face or a gut-wrenching, empty feeling.

sunflowers

On any given day, looking around the dinner table, you find only one plus you. More times than not, I forget to remember how thankful I am to be with that “one” with whom I can share a meal.

necklace heart1

For now, quickly setting the bygone days aside and sharing a meal with the “one”,  I am consoled by the thought that food is a celebration of life, it’s what brings all or “one” of us together.

“One” and One (Tom and Me)-1990 or 1991.

Sunday Supper For Two

Saturday, I was thinking about what to have for supper on Sunday with what I have on hand around the kitchen.

As they say, “willful waste makes woeful want.”

What to do with 2 potatoes, garlic, a shallot, a carrot, a stalk of celery, ground coriander, nutmeg, a small bay leaf, some pistachios, olive oil, unsalted butter and a can of chicken broth?

veggies & pistachios

I thought, “soup!”

First, I blanched the pistachios to loosen up the brown skins. Then rubbed the pistachio in a paper towel to remove the brown skins. Next, I softened the sliced shallot in a small amount of olive oil and a bit of unsalted butter, cut up the veggies and threw them into the pot along with pistachios and all of the other ingredients omitting the coriander and nutmeg. The addition for those spices were added in the next step.

pistachios and soup

When the veggies were cooked and cooled down for about 10 minutes, I put this all into a blender (along with the coriander, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste) and pureed it into a potage.

After reheating the soup, about a couple tablespoon of heavy cream was stirred into the soup.

For service, a dollop of homemade crème fraîche (made the day before) and crushed pistachios were added to the center of the potage.

crème fraîche

I am calling this, “Creamy Pistachio & Potato Potage”.

This potage/soup would, also, make a wonderful cold soup for Summer.

potage

Then, with 3 leftover campari tomatoes, a half a sheet of puff pastry, some fig infused balsamic vinegar, small amount of sugar, pepper, oregano, basil and Gruyere cheese…

tomatoes1

…I made two “Tomato Tartlettes”.

tartlettes

Voilà!

A Sunday supper for two.

Orange Hazelnut Cake

I saw a recipe for a walnut cake and thought I could enhance it by adding orange zest, hazelnut liqueur and substituting the ground walnuts with hazelnut flour/meal.

I call mine “Orange Hazelnut Cake”

orange hazelnut cake

With the addition of Hazelnut Liqueur and orange zest, I further enhanced the flavor, by making a syrup of hazelnut liqueur, honey, orange juice, and orange zest then brushed onto the cake.

For decoration, I made candied oranges slices

Delicious!

Orange Hazelnut Cake
Serves: Serves 8-10
Ingredients
⅔ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons hazelnut liqueur, plus 3 Tablespoons more for syrup
1 Tablespoon honey, plus 1 teaspoon more for syrup
3 eggs
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
Zest from 1 large orange, save and set aside ¼ teaspoon and the orange for syrup
pinch salt
½ cup hazelnut flour/meal

Orange Hazelnut Syrup
3 Tablespoons Hazelnut Syrup
Juice from 1 orange
1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon orange zest

Directions
⦁ Preheat the oven to 350°F.
⦁ Grease and flour a half-size Bundt pan with a 6-cup capacity. (I used Baker’s Joy Baking Spray)
⦁ With a hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
⦁ Add the vanilla, hazelnut liqueur, and 1 Tablespoon honey and mix well.
⦁ Add the eggs, one at a time mixing well after each addition.
⦁ Add the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and orange peel (minus the ¼ teaspoon saved) and beat till creamy.
⦁ Without using the mixer, gently fold the hazelnut flour into the batter.
⦁ Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
⦁ Leave the cake to rest in the pan for 5 minutes before carefully unmoulding it. Leave the cake to cool completely on a wire rack.
⦁ Meanwhile, to make the syrup, add orange juice, hazelnut liqueur, orange zest and honey to a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, lower heat and gently boil for 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
⦁ Brush the syrup onto the cooled cake.

Decorate as desired. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Pretzel Buns For Pub-Style Burgers

Making homemade “pretzel sandwich buns” was easy and took little time and effort make.

I made these for cheeseburgers we had for supper last night along with a batch of home fries.

Pretzel Buns

For pub-style burgers (or any type sandwiches) at home without the added expense of eating out, I encourage you to make a batch.

You can find the recipe at King Arthur Flours/Pretzel Buns.

Easter For Two

For us, it was a quiet Easter.  We didn’t cook the traditional ham and sides; we dined (here at home) on pork tenderloin, roasted potatoes and green bean amandine/almondine.

Since it is just the two of us, I had in mind to make a small batch of homemade peanut butter eggs.  Knowing that I would have some chocolate leftover, and since I had a can of sweetened condensed milk sitting in the cupboard, I made dulce de leche (caramel) from the can of milk.

Dulce de leche

The milk caramelizes in the can by simmering the unopened can (label removed) in a pot of water.

You can find the complete instructions at Serious Eats.

After I made the peanut butter eggs,  I made chocolate covered, salted caramel wafers using the homemade caramel and leftover chocolate.

chocolate candy

I just dropped chocolate onto a piece of waxed paper (smoothing the chocolate down with the back of a spoon), chilled and then spread caramel on top of those and dropped and spread melted chocolate onto the caramel (sealing in the caramel) and added a pinch of kosher salt to the tops.

Easter for two!