250 Cookbooks: El Molino Best Recipes

Cookbook #157: El Molino Best Recipes, El Molino Mills, Alhambra, CA, 1953.

El Molino Best Recipes cookbook

El Molino Mills was a “specialty miller of whole grain flours and cereals”. Established in 1926 in California, it was owned by the Vandercook family. The company no longer exists, as far as I can tell. The trademark was last owned by Archol Pure Products Corporation.

I probably bought my copy of El Molino Best Recipes while we were still in California, in the early 1970s. An online search revealed several different editions and book cover images for the same title. Mine was probably one of the later printings.

I haven’t looked at this cookbook in decades! The first recipe is “Whole Wheat Bread”, and it looks like I used this recipe because the page is a little food stained. I probably studied this recipe and the next several pages on breadmaking way back when we were first living together in an old house in Huntington Beach. I was determined to make my own whole wheat yeast bread, even then. The hippie movement was heavily into “back to the earth” cooking, and El Molino Best Recipes abounds with ingredients such as whole grains and soy beans and carob and sprouts.

This cookbook might be where I learned about the importance of gluten in yeast breads. Most of its bread recipes include a bit of gluten flour. But I don’t remember “wet gluten base”. You mix water and flour to make a ball of dough, then put it in a bowl of water and let stand a couple hours. Next you wash out the starch by kneading under water, continually pouring off the starchy water and kneading the dough. In the end, you have a lump of raw gluten, high in protein. What do you do with it? You cook it and make meat-free burgers and the like. Sounds pretty yucky to me.

I’m not inclined to keep this cookbook, but I might, just for the memories. We were brought up on soft, white store bread – breads and cereals made from chewy grains were a whole new discovery.

I decide to make “Soy Chili Con Carne” for this blog. I’ve been meaning to make soy bean chili ever since I bought soy beans when I covered The Soybean Cookbook. Soy bean chili is about the only way I liked cooked soy beans. But I haven’t made it in years!

Soy Chili Con Carne recipe

I have an electric pressure cooker, so I’ll use it to cook the soy beans. I found some salt pork from Whole Foods in my freezer, but it could be left out.

Soy Bean Chili
serves 2

  • 1 cup uncooked soybeans
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons diced salt pork (optional)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 pound ground meat
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • additional chili powder (optional)
  • cayenne powder to taste

Combine the soybeans, tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon chili powder, salt, and enough water to cover the beans in an electric pressure cooker. Cook on high for 15 minutes; quick release the pressure. Alternatively, cook on the stove top several hours, until the soybeans are soft.

Fry the salt pork until crisp (if you are using it). Add the onions and cook until soft, then add the ground meat and cook until it is brown. Add the cooked soybeans*, tomatoes, and more chile powder (optional). Simmer on the stove top about an hour to mingle the flavors. Add more chili powder, cayenne powder, and salt to taste.

*I cooked the soybeans in too much liquid, so I drained the cooked beans and saved the cooking liquid, and only added back a portion of the cooking liquid so the chili would not be too soupy.

Soybean Chili

I made this soybean chili on a snowy April morning. I didn’t think it would be very good, I was kind of making it just as an “experiment”, but both of us tasted it and loved it and we scarfed up the entire batch for lunch! Cheese on it is very good, and onions too. The soybeans are a bit crunchier than pintos or kidney beans, and all in all, it was simply excellent.

250 Cookbooks: All-Time Favorite Recipes (Better Homes and Gardens)

Cookbook #156: All-Time Favorite Recipes, Better Homes and Gardens, Gerald Knox (editor), Meredith Corporation, Des Moines, Iowa, 1979.

All-Time Favorite Recipes BHG cookbook

I like this book a lot! I don’t think I have ever looked at it before. It’s from my mother’s collection. This is on the inside cover:

Mother's inscription

That’s my mothers’s writing, and I’m pretty sure it says “from me March, 1981”. That made me smile. She bought it for herself and wrote a little inscription to mark that fact.

This cookbook has the type of recipes I grew up with, so I’m not surprised she chose this book for herself. She never worked outside the home, and thus her personal spending money was pretty special to her. So this is a special book to me.

All-Time Favorite Recipes is bound, rather than loose leaf like her Better Homes and Garden New Cook Book. It’s a big book: 480 pages! The introduction reads:

“Through the years, the editors of Better Homes and Gardens, like all good cooks, have collected a huge recipe file. In All-Time Faovrite Recipes, we have compiled for you the favorites of all the recipes we’ve published. Whether you are planning a meal for family or guests, you’ll find dishes for the entire meal in these pages. Choose a main dish from the meat, fish, poultry, or casserole pages. Or, for warm weather entrées, turn to the barbecue recipes. Complete your menu with dishes from the vegetable, salad, bread, and dessert sections. From one good cook to another, we give you our favorites.”

After this short intro the editor gets right into the recipes. On page 9, I find a recipe for Sauerbraten. Mother says it is “Delicious” and the “gravy is yummy!” You take a beef round rump roast, marinate in red wine vinegar, spices, and onions for 3 days, simmer a couple hours, and then add crushed gingersnaps. I bought gingersnaps for the first time in years just last weekend, with sauerbraten on my mind. I’ll try this recipe soon. She also liked the Pot Roast Dip Sandwiches on the same page. Other main dishes she favored are the Sicilian Meat Roll and Manicotti. The Tetrazzini Crepes on page 121 is the same recipe as in All-Time Favorite Casseroles, another Better Homes and Gardens book that I covered in this blog.

I think the recipe she used the most from this book is 24-Hour Vegetable Salad on page 248. The book opens easily to this page, like it’s been opened there a lot, she marked it “Delicious”, and I see a couple food stains on the page. This is a great large-potluck dish. The day before, you layer romaine, Swiss cheese, hard boiled eggs, cooked bacon, leaf lettuce, thawed frozen peas, mayonnaise, and green onions. The next day, toss and serve! (I found a similar recipe in the Carousel of Cultures Cookbook, so if I ever want such a salad, I’ll compare and contrast the two.) Mother liked a few of the other salad recipes, but not the “Cheesy Coleslaw Mold”. For that she says simply: “Do not make again”. Ha! I’d never try it in the first place!

The recipe I use for “Biscuits Supreme” is on page 390 with her notes, and she liked the whole wheat rolls. She marked the Banana Nut Bread “Delicious” – and I found that someone reviewing this cookbook on Amazon really liked this banana nut bread too. I’ll have to try this recipe sometime, it’s a bit different from the one I currently use.

That’s about all she marked in this cookbook. I made a list of about ten recipes I’d like to try. Good ideas in this old cookbook!

I decide to make Cinnamon Swirl Loaf for this blog.

Cinnamon Swirl Loaf recipeIn this recipe, a sweet and rich yeast bread dough is rolled around cinnamon and sugar before baking. I’ve tried swirled breads before, but after baking they always had big gaps in the swirls. Why? Because I always brushed butter onto the dough before the cinnamon and sugar. The butter sent the layers flying apart when the loaf was cooked. This recipe uses water (duh! says this chemist) to keep the dough layers together. I want to see if it works.

I plan to make a few changes: I want to use a breadmaker, I prefer butter over shortening, and I want raisins in the dough. Plus I’ll skip the glaze. And make just one loaf. Below is my adaptation of this recipe.

Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Loaf
makes 1 9×5-inch loaf

for the bread

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut in small pieces
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 17 ounces bread flour or all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1/3 cup raisins

for the swirl

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Put the bread ingredients EXCEPT the raisins in the order given into a breadmaker and set to a dough cycle with a rising step. Watch the dough as it kneads and add a little flour or water if necessary. Add the raisins near the end of the kneading cycle – most breadmakers have a “beep” or such for adding raisins or nuts.

When the dough is ready, roll it into a 15×7-inch rectangle. Brush with water. Combine the 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle it over the dough. Starting from the short side, roll up jelly-roll style. Pinch the long edges and ends together to seal them (a little extra water helps seal the dough edges). Place seam side down in a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan.

Let rise just until the dough crowns above the edges of the pan, about a half hour. Bake at 350˚ for 45-50 minutes. (I used an instant read thermometer and baked until it tested close to 200˚).

Here is the dough rolled out. Note it is glistening a bit since I had just brushed it with water.

cinn swirl dough 1The cinnamon-sugar sprinkled on top:

cinnamon sugar sprinkled on doughNow the next photo isn’t terribly pretty. This bread about overflowed the pan on baking and leaned to one side. But it tasted great! Next time I make it, I will probably start with less milk and less flour or maybe less yeast (this is not written into the above recipe). I baked it at 375˚, and the crust was browner than I like; next time, I will bake it at 350˚. Otherwise, I will definitely make this again! The swirled layers stayed together, just like I wanted.

Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

250 Cookbooks: Healthy Bread Recipes

Cookbook #155: Healthy Bread Recipes, Salton/MAXIM Housewares, Inc., Mt. Prospect, IL, 1998.

Healthy Bread Recipes cookbook

Healthy Bread Recipes reminds me that I purchased a Breadman breadmaker around 1998. My second breadmaker, it was highly recommended by King Arthur Flour. I recall that it eventually died – a problem with the dough bucket paddles binding up. I replaced it with another Zojirushi in 2008. The Breadman brand is currently owned by Spectrum Brands Inc. I wrote about my thoughts on yeast breads and breadmachines in the post My Daily Bread.

Healthy Bread Recipes has less than 20 recipes. But since they all have whole grains and are designed for breadmakers, each recipe is right up my alley. I’ll keep this booklet.

I decide to make “Honey Banana Whole Wheat Bread” for this blog. I’ve made banana yeast breads before, but don’t quite remember which recipe I used. I don’t expect the banana flavor to come through very strongly in this very wheat-y yeast bread, but I like the poppy seeds it calls for and it should be good for breakfast toast and as they say, for great peanut butter sandwiches!

Honey Banana Whole Wheat Bread recipe


This recipe calls for “1 banana”. Bananas do not come in one size! The banana I had sitting on the counter must have been bigger than they meant because I had to add almost a cup more flour to get the dough “right”. (I weighed one of its bunch-buddies and it was over 6 ounces.) With this big banana and the extra flour, my bread came out huge! It tasted great and had a good texture, but was not pretty in the pan. And it didn’t taste banana-y enought for me, even with all that banana.

Next time, I will slice the banana into a measuring cup, then add water (or milk) to 1 1/3 cup liquid volume. That’s much more scientific and should provide consistent results. And, it will have a higher banana to water ratio and perhaps more banana flavor. I’ve incorporated these changes into the directions below, but I haven’t tried this newer version yet.

Honey Banana Whole Wheat Bread

  • 1 banana, sliced
  • water or milk (see directions below)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup (3 ounces) honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 9 ounces whole wheat flour (I used whole wheat, not white whole wheat)
  • 7 ounces bread flour (I added a bit of gluten flour into this weight)
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 2 teaspoons yeast

Slice the banana into a 2-cup glass measure. Add water (or milk) to 1 1/3 cup volume. Dump the mixture into your bread machine. Add all of the remaining ingredients.

Choose a dough cycle that kneads and takes the dough through the first rise cycle. Watch the dough during the kneading process and add flour or liquid if it needs it (this recipe isn’t perfected yet!).

Remove the dough from the machine and form into a loaf. Place in a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Bake at 375˚ for 30-35 minutes. (When I baked my loaf, I used an instant-read thermometer and when the bread looked brown and done, it tested to 190˚.)

Honey Wheat Banana Bread

This bread is very good! I won’t say excellent (yet) because I want more banana flavor, I’m hoping my suggested revisions will do the banana flavor trick. (Adding dried banana chips might help too.)

Honey Banana Whole Wheat Bread is excellent in peanut butter sandwiches. And it’s good for toast. It might be kind of weird in deli meat sandwiches, but go ahead and experiment.

An even better idea for this bread is: French toast! I used Honey Banana Whole Wheat Bread to make French toast this week liked it so much that I’ll make this bread again just for the delicious treat.

250 Cookbooks: Italian Light Cooking

Cookbook #154: Italian Light Cooking, Elisa Celli, Prentice Hall Press, Ny, Ny, 1987.

Italian Light Cooking cookbook

I haven’t opened this book in years! I bought it for myself, probably at The Peppercorn. One more venture into finding low-calorie recipes to cook, a common pastime until last year when I read The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. (Which may have been a mistake!)

I like this book. Elisa Celli’s ideas for lighter cooking are pretty much like the Mediterranean diet of today: lots of fresh vegetables and fish, less red meats and cheeses, lots of “green olive oil”. (Green olive oil is extra virgin olive oil.) Celli also advocates for durum wheat pasta, which she claims is lower in calories than white flour pasta. She wrote several cookbooks in the late 1980s, and has a current presence on Facebook and YouTube.

Betsy Balsley wrote a review article of this cookbook in the November 1987 LA Times. It’s a good article, and says what I’d like to say – better! Here it is: Remembrance of Things Pasta: Cookbook Writer Elisa Celli Knows What Makes Good–and Bad–Italian Food.

What Celli calls “light” is not necessarily “low-calorie”. Celli feels that Americans add too much butter, cream, and cheese to pasta. In Italy, where she grew up, only small amounts of these heavy ingredients are added to the meals – her Italian food is “light” with lots of vegetables and herbs and fish and small amounts of lean meat. For the dieter, calorie values are clearly listed with each recipe.

(Some recipes do excede the allowance on a low-calorie diet.)

I chose three recipes to try: fettucini, a fish dish, and a dessert. The fettucini recipe comes from the introductory pages of this book and illustrates the Italian light way of cooking:

Celli's fettuccine

The fish is Pesce Positano, or Grilled or Baked Fish with Wine, Herb, and Garlic Sauce:

Grilled Fish Italian recipe

The dessert is Chocolate Raspberry Crema Alla Lynn. I chose this because I like chocolate had some leftover ricotta cheese in the refrigerator!

Chocolate Raspberry Crema recipe


The fettucini was delicious. It’s a simple recipe: cook the noodles and toss with a small amount of butter, half and half (you could use cream), Parmesan cheese, and parsley. However, I was not able to find a “durum semolina” pasta that had only 210 calories in 5 ounces. I stood in Whole Foods for a long time reading labels. I found several that were “100% durum”, but the lowest calorie value I could find was 500 calories in in 5 ounces. My fettucini dish was good, but not as low calorie as specified in Italian Light Cooking. (Online research reveals: both semolina and durum flours are made from durum wheat; semolina is the milled inner kernel of the wheat – endosperm – and it is a coarse-grind flour; durum is the milled grain, I think it’s everything except the endosperm but I’m not positive.)

*Note: A few weeks after I wrote this post, I found Paccheri at Whole Foods, made from “durum wheat semolina”. The calorie value is 150 calories per 56 grams, so about 375 calories in 5 ounces. Lower, but not as low as Italian Light Cooking specified.

Durum Pasta

The chocolate dessert tasted “almost good” – we both said that! This is probably due to my mis-interpretation of the measurement of chocolate. The recipe calls for “4 squares of unsweetened chocolate”. What’s in a “square”? My package of Baker’s unsweetened chocolate claims that 2 of the squares in their package (1 ounce) equals 1 square of past-packaging. I do not know what type of packaging Celli’s book meant, so I assumed it was “past-packaging” and I used 4 ounces, or 8 squares, of Baker’s chocolate. It was waaaayy too much chocolate. The dessert hardened quickly into a mass like a pile of hard and cold cookie. It tasted good but a little too bitter, and the mouth-feel was not good. (If I made this again, I would use 2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate.)

The fish was very good and the recipe as I prepared it is below. The drawback to this recipe is that we live in Colorado. Miles from any ocean. I only like fish purchased very fresh and that means very expensive. Wild caught fresh halibut was $27.99 per pound at Whole Foods. I do buy fish this expensive on occasion, since we rarely eat out (and usually save money by eating at home). But it’s really a ridiculous price.

Grilled Fish with Wine-Garlic Sauce
serves 2

  • 3/4 pound fish fillets (flounder, halibut, swordfish, bass, sole)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning (I added a little fresh basil too)
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

To make the sauce, whisk together all of the ingredients except the fish.

Put the fish on a piece of foil. Since you will be pouring the sauce over it, you need to make the foil boat-like. Pour most of the sauce on the fish and wrap the foil around it tightly. Save the rest of the sauce to pass at the table or to pour over the cooked fish before you serve it.

Prepare a hot grill (I use a gas grill). Put the foil-wrapped fish on the grill and cook on high direct meat for 3-4 minutes. Peek at the fish to see if it looks nearly cooked through; if it isn’t, cook a few minutes longer. Keep the fish very slightly underdone.

Serve immediately.

Italian Grilled Fish

I put my fish on top of the fettucini. It was very good! Well seasoned, and the halibut I used was yummy. My dining partner said it was almost “too healthy” tasting. I scarfed it up because I was starving. This is a nice way to cook fish on the grill, since you don’t have to worry about it burning, nor was there any mess to clean up.

250 Cookbooks: Tone’s Easy Entertaining

Cookbook #153: Easy Entertaining, Tone’s 125th Anniversary, Tone Brothers, Inc., Iowa, 1998.

Tones Easy Entertaining cookbook

Where/when/why did I buy this cookbook? Dunno. But it is a pretty cookbook, nicely laid out, and some of the 84 recipes are tempting. I don’t find any post-its or writing in it. It’s in great shape! I’ll keep this cookbook.

So what is “Tone’s”? I am unfamiliar with this brand. I learn in the first pages of this book that Tone’s is a brand of spices. In 1873, Jehiel and Isaac Tone founded Tone’s Brothers, Inc., in Des Moines, Iowa. The reason I don’t have any Tone’s spices on my shelves is that they are sold in warehouse stores, like Sam’s Club. None of those stores close to my small town of Lyons!

Tone’s early product line included cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, mace, and ginger. And, black pepper. But not black pepper like we have today! No, it was a mixture of pepper, ground olive stones, cayenne pepper, and black coloring. The black coloring was called “lamp black”, and it was made from soot. And we complain today about food additives! Thank you, brothers Tone, for the “revolutionary idea of selling pure ground pepper”.

Tones Brothers introduced other innovations in spices, including selling spices in individual consumer units. At first, the containers were made of paperboard and tin.

Tones containers

Tone’s was the first spice company to use clear plastic packaging (1980s). By the 1990s, they produced more than 250 varieties of seasonings and mixes. Tone Brothers was a family-owned-and-run business until the 1970s, when it was purchased by Mid-Continent Bottlers. Then it was swept up in the merger and acquisition frenzy of the business world, and the brand name has now been owned by a series of conglomerates. (Here is a good history of the company.) Tone Brothers registered these different trademarks: Tone’s®, Durkee®, DecACake®, Spice Islands®, Spice Advice®. Tone’s current website is here.

The 84 recipes in this book range from appetizers to salads and sides to main dishes to desserts to beverages. A few years ago I tried the “Mesa Corn with Chili-Seasoned Pork” and liked it so much I added it to my personal recipe files. I’d also like to try: Greek Cauliflower Dip, Coconut Pork Stir-fry, Quesadilla Pie (flour tortillas layered with with rice, chicken, and cheese), Broccoli Pesto Fettucine, Spanish Gaspacho Salad, Sesame Spinach Salad, French Potato Salad, Tuscan Green Beans, and Zucchini Raisin Wheat Muffins.

For this blog I choose to try “Fresh Tomato Cheese Tart”. I hope it turns out as good as it looks, because I plan to take it to a potluck dinner-meeting. I decided to use dried basil in the filling as called for in the recipe, but fresh basil for the top.

Fresh Tomato Cheese Tart recipeFresh Tomato Cheese Tart
serves about 12 as an appetizer


  • pastry for one 9-inch pie crust, purchased or homemade


  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary, or fresh rosemary chopped fine


  • 1-2 fresh plum (roma) tomatoes, unpeeled, sliced thin
  • fresh basil, several leaves, sliced or chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary, or fresh rosemary chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Roll the pie crust to a 9-inch circle. If you make your own, you will need to cut it neatly around the edges. Place it on a piece of parchment on a baking sheet, or put it in a large pie plate, like a quiche dish. Poke a lot of holes in it with a fork. Bake at 350˚ for 20 minutes, or until light brown. Let cool before adding the filling and topping.

For the filling, whisk the egg, then whisk in the ricotta cheese and the remaining filling ingredients. Spread carefully and evenly on the crust, leaving a 1/4-inch border.

Arrange the tomato slices on top in a single layer. Sprinkle with the basil and rosemary. Drizzle with the olive oil.

Bake at 350˚ for 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Serve warm. (If you cook this on parchment, slide it carefully onto a plate to serve. I baked it in the pan showed in the photo, below.)

Fresh Tomato Cheese Tart

This was delicious! Savory and rich. I strongly recommend the fresh basil – it adds a burst of flavor and color to this dish. Next time, I think I’ll put the fresh basil leaves under the tomatoes.