Monday, May 31, 2010

Chocolate Rocks

Linda was over the other night, and I was making dinner -- while I was cooking I threw my pile of cookbooks at her, and told her to 'look for a dessert recipe that didn't involve powdered sugar' as I didn't have any. After much reading (because it turned out I didn't have several other things too)

We came across this recipe for chocolate Rocks
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped raisins
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (i cheated and used full size)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
preheat oven to 375. Grease two cookie sheets, set aside in a large mixing bown, cream butter and sugar until light. Add egg and vanilla extract, beat until well blended. On a sheet of wax paper, combine cocoa, flour, salt and baking soda. sir into creamed mixture to form a soft dough (I threw it all in the kitchen aid) stir in raisins, chocolate chips and pecans (again kitchen aid) spoon 1/4 teaspoon (Yea RIGHT.. I used a teaspoon...) of dough 1 inch apart onto cookie sheets and bake 6-7 mins (9-11 for the size I made) cool on wire rack (what rack is that skinny? mine barely fit) makes about 120 (makes about 45)
Chief Commentator: Good, little candy like cookies. Raisns add a nice surprising touch when eatting.
Uber easy to make. tastey, and kinda like eating one of those chunky bars from when we were kids with the chocolate and raisins together.

Italian Cassarole

We made another nights meal for Chief Commentator's friend. It was another casserole from Grandma Mary, because well, what do mid-westerner's do well? They cook casserole. In fear of making it a little too bland for California palate, I did take a liberty to the recipe. I'll explain as I take you through it.

1lb cooked large shell macaroni

1/4 cup butter

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

2 medium onions

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 pound sharp cheese, grated

2 cans (8oz each) tomatoe sauce

2 cans (3 oz each) chopped mushrooms with liquid

3/4 cup burgundy wine

in a large skillet, brown meat. saute onions until tender. Drain off excess fat, add salt, garlic salt, and pepper. Toss cooked macaroni with 1/4 cup melted butter and place in two (2quart) cassaroles. Add 2/3 of chees to meat mixture and stir until cheese melts, add 1 can tomato sauce and mushrooms and pour the mixture over the macaroni. Top with second can of tomatoe sauce and sprinke with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered for 1 hour and 40 mins in 325 degree oven. When ready to serve pour on wine. Serves 8.

Again another recipe from "Fan" which I'm starting to think means a fan of the column, of the Saint Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch.

Ok so what I did differently. I drained all the mushrooms, cause homie doesn't do mushroom liquid. I also substituted pasta sauce for tomatoe sauce to add some flavor. and instead of garlic salt (too much sodium in this dish) I made it garlic powder.

oh and when baking. Don't bake it for an hour and 40 mins, it would have been glop. 45 mins is all it needs, it's all pre cooked anyway.

Chief Commentator liked it alot. the 8 person serving, served 3 kids, him and I with maybe left overs for lunch tomorrow... the kids ate double portions, so it's a really good kid friendly dish. Everything mixed well together. It's your typical 70's hotdish if you are from the midwest, it will take you back to being a kid, and eatting thatkind of thing for dinner. Pair it with a salad to lighten it up a bit. We ate it with some good old fashioned PBR...


Oddly enough my Grandma Mary only has 1 spare rib recipe. She was more the meat eater then the other one, yet the other one has a bunch. Instead of attempting the mass quantites of Grandma Mel, I opted for the 1 recipe of Grandma Mary.

Pretty glad I did.

This one comes from Fan in Saint Paul, circa the Saint Paul Press Dispatch Newspaper, and again I'm guessing well over 30 years ago. there is an ad on the back of the clipping for Mink Coats, and they are $2495 new, or $1295 bucks pre owned.

I'm not sure many people can remember a day, when departments stores advertised that they even sold Mink Coats.


2.5 pounds spareribs, cut into serving pieces (ok, I left mine whole on the rack)

3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 table spoons frozen orange juice concentrate

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

3/4 teaspoon salt

Place ribs on rack in baking pan. bake at 400 for 45 minutes. Pour off pan drippings. Combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Brush sauce over ribs. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees and bake 3o minutes longer or until tender, turning occasionally and brushing with remaining sauce. Serves 4.

well... I kinda cheated with this one. I double the sauce recipe and split it in 2. I marinated the ribs in half before backing, and then the last 30 mins, I pulled them out and threw them on the grill, and cooked them, while basting with the left over sauce.

Chieft Commentators comments: Citrus, good texture, loved the orange. loved. loved. loved it. it was simple and easier then most Bobby Flay recipes and also tastier (Sorry, Bobby, he likes my recipe better.. wanna challenge?)

oh and the photo doesn't do the ribs justice, but I paired it with several diferent vodka drinks that we were 'taste testing' after the final prep and sampling of the recipe, and as much as I'd love to include those drink recipies, they aren't from back when I made the cookbooks.

Upper Peninsula "Cornish" Pasties

I remember a long time ago, flipping through the pages of the cookbook of my Grandma Mary. I remember reading the titles out loud to my mom, and at some point she made a semi sarcastic comment to me about how my Grandma most likely didn't make ALL the recipies in the cookbook because she wasn't much of a cook, especially for things that took a long time. I was a little insulted at the time thinking OF COURSE she made every recipe... otherwise why would they be in her cookbook?


well years later, I know different. After filling 2 cookbooks myself with unmade recipes, and of course age, I've learned better. I'd still love to believe (for my childhood self) that she of course made every recipe that made it into the cookbook... but in the instance of the Pasties. I'd like to call b.s. on this theory. There is no way. NO, NO, NO way, (especially without the convenience of a kitchen aid) that my Grandma made these. And with that being said. I'm a little sad she didn't because I think she would have enjoyed them.

I have liked Pastie for a long time. Back in Highschool I dated a guy whose mom made them, based on a recipe she got from her Mother In Law. I'm guessing her crust was premade pie crust, since she wasn't exactly betty crocker... but again maybe I'm wrong. I don't remember her's tasting like this.

First a note about Suet: if you don't know what suet is, it's beef fat. Its the full slab of fat that is cut away from the underside of the beef. it's big. it's ugly, and if I can figure out ever how to post more then one photo per blog, I would show you, since I took a photo of all 6 pounds of the stuff that I had, before I had to grind it. I stuck it all in the kitchen aid food processor and it was done in less time then I thought, although the grease factor was less then pleasing when cleaning up. If you can get the suet ground from the butcher, by all means do. Also, call your butchers when you start this project. It's not as easy to find as I would have thought. Oliver's does carry it, and will stock extra if you call ahead. they may even be nice enough to grind it for you.

and with that I give you "Upper Peninsula "Cornish" Pasties.


2 cups finely ground suet

3/4 cup lard

4 cups flour

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder


With fingertips, work suet into dry ingredients until well-blended. Add lard and blend again, as for pie crust. Cut in enough water so dough is right for rolling. Divide dough into six equal parts.

Ok, so if you have never made pie crust from scratch, this step is a little daunting. You need to make sure that you make the dough moist and crumbly, but not too moist, because it won't roll. Also, cheat and use your kitchen aid with the dough hook.


2 1/2 pounds flank steak, cut into small cubes

6 medium potatoes, sliced or cubed

2 medium onions, chopped

1 small rutabaga, sliced or cubed

salt and pepper to taste


Combine ingredients, mixing well. Divide into 6 equal parts. Roll out each portion of dough to the size of a dinner plate. On half of each circle, place one portion of filling. Dot with butter the size of a walnut. Cover filling by folding over the other half of the dough and seal edges by crimping. Prick top of pastie with fork to make air holes. Place pasties on an ungreased baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Makes 6 servings.

The article came out of the Saint Paul Press Dispatch prolly 30 or so years ago, and it was from Gerry Loverich from South Saint Paul.

Ok.. so besides the major pain in the butt of dealing with the suet, and then having to roll out the dough, neither of which were my favorite, the flavor of the crust and the flakieness are worth the bit of labor. If I was making the crust by hand I'd say the difficulty was Hard, so that is what I'm sticking with.

The chief commentator's review: If you have only had pot pie, you never lived. He loved the rutabega in it, and would have lessened the quantity of potatoe and upped the quantity of the rutabega. It had the perfect texture and it was so good.

It also reheated really well. We put the back in the over at 350 for about 30 mins today, and served them to the commentator's kids and all loved them.

I have about 10 cups of suet frozen (ground) so I will be making this again. Also, I bought the big container of lard (as I forsee more of my grandma's recipes calling for the 'real deal') so I'm well stocked in the staples.

We ate it the first time with a bottle of Marrietta Bin 51 Red Wine Blend.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Chick pea Salad

I love chick peas. Its one of my favorite foods. I however don’t like canned ones. You can use them in the recipe if you like, but it’s so easy to make them from dry… why would you do it any other way?

Chick pea salad
19oz chick peas
1 large ball mozzarella, cut into ½ in chunks
small can black olives – halved
small red onion, finely chopped
1 medium tomatoe, chopped
2 tablespoons basil (fresh)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
5 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste.

Combine first 6 ingredients, then whisk the last items together, and stir until well combined

Easy to make.

Chief commentator says: “it’s like a salad bar in a pizza place sans lettuce” I think it tastes more like macaroni salad but without the macaroni and mayo..

Overall comments: it was OK.

I wonder if it will taste better day 2.

Curry Chicken with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Curry Chicken with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
Curry powder

Chicken thighs / breasts / what ever your favorite body parts are.

Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce
Half cucumber, peeled
½ cup plain yogurt
10 large leaves of fresh mint chopped fine.
Put curry, coriander, cumin into a shallow dish. Dip each chicken piece in the powder, turning to coat both sides. Heat a medium size skillet over med-high heat, spray with cooking spray. Add chicken and cook 5 mins. Turn and cook 4 mins more. Continue to turn, and cook until done.

Slice cucumber in half, use a spoon (I like a grapefruit spoon with the little ridges) to scoop out the seeds and liquid. Then I chunk it up, and add the yogurt and mint. And stuffed it all in the food processor.

To serve, scoop a little sauce over each piece of chicken.

Chief commentator says: Refreshing and lively, crisp minty flavor. Good happy summer dish. Great! I’m not usually a curry fan, but this doesn’t have the typical dirty curry taste.

We served it with a 2007 Simi Viognier.

It was really friggin easy to make.. and Chief Commentator says it’s a new favorite.

Wild Rice Baron

The chief commentator had a co-worker seriously injured in a car accident 12 days ago, today he returned home from the hospital, after having countless surgeries, and is on a long road to healing.

Being from the Midwest, I come from a group of people that when things happen, you cook and you cook and you cook. You send over hot dishes for the family, so they don’t have to concern themselves with making food. Today, when chief came home, I informed him that he would be delivering a Wild Rice Baron hotdish, along with a carrot pineapple cake tomorrow morning.

Note: the recipe and comments about making it are here now, we are cooking our own wild rice baron (I made 2) tomorrow night for dinner, so tasting notes will follow.

Wild Rice Baron
2 cups raw wild rice
4 cups water
2 teaspoons salt (optional)
2lbs ground beef
1lb mushrooms
½ cup celery chopped
½ cup btter
¼ cup soy sauce
2 cups sour cream
2 teaspoons salt (also optional)
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ cup slivered almonds

Gently cook wild rice, water and salt for 45 minutes. Drain if necessary. Brown ground beef and set aside. Rinse mushrooms trip tips of stems and slice. Saute Mushrooms, celery, and onion in butter for 5-10 minutes. Combine soy sauce, sour cream, salt and pepper. Add cooked wild rice, browned hamburger, mushrooms onions, celery mixture. Toss lightly. Place rice mix into a slightly buttered 3qt casserole dish, sprinkle with almonds.

This can be made in advance (like I did) and then refrigerated, and baked later.
When time to bake. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 1 hour uncovered.

Comments about prep: It was harder then I thought to make, mostly because there are so many steps, and you have to do each of them in different pans, which makes for a lot of dishes. If you want a short cut in the time, I would suggest getting precut mushrooms, that was the most time consuming part of the entire recipe.

So far, it looks and smells great, and packed beautifully into the casserole dish.

Not our favorite thing ever. It was a little bland. I don't like the almonds on top. It's a good hardy dish though, and if you like wild rice, it's a good dish. I would add more spice to it next time, and get rid of the almonds.

Carrot Pineapple Cake

My Grandma Mary had a thing for carrot cake. Carrots really. Carrot bars, cake, cupcakes, cookies. If you can shred carrots and bake them into a batter, I think I have a recipe for it. Thankfully, most of them have a cream cheese frosting involved somewhere, which happens to be the chief commentators favorite thing, making him willing to try all of these recipes.

Here are the chief commentators words: “I’ve never had one so chunky. I love love love the frosting! The cake is buttery, rich, chunky, nutty, like grandma’s carrot cake that you never had, because they got too old before you were born, and just bought the store bought crap and fed it to you. It’s the new coffee cake, great for breakfast, sooo damn good.”
Carrot Pineapple Cake
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons soda
1 ½ cups oil
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups shredded raw carrots – slightly packed
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups coconut
2 cups chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Combine dry ingredients, Mix oil and sugar , add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add dry ingredients, then fold in carrots, pineapple, coconut and nuts. Pour into 2 9x9 baking pans, bake for 45-55 minutes at 350.

Cream Cheese Frosting
¼ cup butter
8oz cream cheese
1 tablespoon vanilla
1lb powder sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Difficulty: Moderate. This is the first recipe I’ve made in my new kitchen aid mixer, I found that it was hard to get all the batter into the mixer, and get it to mix well. It kinda pissed me off.. But that could just be the learning curve of me and the mixer.

Overall: New Favorite.

I'm Back! and I'm ready too cook!

I’m back! I’m back! And I’m cooking and writing like a crazy woman. I was unable to cook for the past couple of months, due to a sodium restriction in my diet. (and due to the fact that my recipes, as well as most of both grandma’s seem to LOVE salt and items high in sodium.) but with clearance from the Doc… I’m back to cooking !

In honor of my Grandma Mary (who passed from Breast Cancer, and since my whole health scare was lumps in my breast that they thought could possibly be cancer…) I start out with 2 recipes from her. Wild Rice Baron and Carrot Pineapple Cake.