250 Cookbooks: Encyclopedia of Cookery, Volume 11

Cookbook #217: Encyclopedia of Cookery, Vol. 11, Sou-Ton, Woman’s Day, Fawcett Publications, NY, 1966.

Encyclopedia of Cookery Vol. 11

I have a set of twelve Encyclopedia of Cookery volumes and this is the eleventh of that set – I covered the first ten in previous posts. This volume covers curious and helpful information about foods from (sou)fles to (ton)gue.

Souffles. We do like my Cheese Souffle, and I always follow the recipe in my Joy of Cooking. I usually add ham to it too. I have been making this souffle for decades. The trick is to have everyone ready to eat as soon as it comes out of the oven – because souffles always fall quickly. And this fact is reiterated in the Encyclopedia of Cookery:

“When the cooked souffle is taken from the oven, it should be taken to the table and served at once. It is a rule of the kitchen that a souffle should be served immediately. If there is any waiting to be done, let it be by the guests.”

I love that: “a rule of the kitchen”! This volume of the Encyclopedia of Cookery has a lenghty and good explanation of how to make a basic entree souffle, suggesting many variations. And, it includes a recipe for Liqueur Souffle with suggested variations.

The Soup Cookbook is 8 big pages long. The last entry is a soup garnish called “Twist Toast”.
Twish ToastSour Cream in its simplest form is “unpasteurized heavy sweet cream that has been allowed to stand in a warm place until it has become sour”. Commercial sour cream is made from “sweet cream chemically treated with lactic-acid bacteria to produce a thick cream with a mild tangy flavor”. The South American Cook Book begins with an interesting essay by Jean Gormaz on the widely varied cooking of this continent of many climates. Vatapa, a fish stew from Brazil, illustrates the variety of ingredients in South American cookery.

VatapaVatapaCook books called Southeast Asian Cookery, Southern Cookery, and Southwest Cookery follow each other with no short entries between. (This volume of the Encyclopedia of Cookery sure has a lot of cook books in it.) The Southwestern cook book  includes few dishes familiar to me, except chili sauce, tacos, and sopapillas. Carne Adobada is an example of a recipe I have never heard of before, and it takes days to make.

Carne Adobada

Finally, I come to a short, non-cookbook entry: Soybeans. “The soybean is one of the world’s oldest plants. It has been cultivated in China for over 4,000 years.” “Bean curds” are mentioned, but are not called tofu. Most of the recipes in this section include soy sauce as the “soybean” ingredient.

Spaghetti, Spanish Cookery, spare rib, spearmint, spice. The spice section is rather short, recipe-wise. It has a two-page illustrated chart, but only includes 12 spices. “Spices – Nature’s Flavor Magic” is an essay on the importance of spices in history.

A sprat is a small herring, often sold canned or smoked. A squab is a young pigeon that is not allowed to fly before it is eaten. Squirrels are found in the US and “occasionally eaten as food, particularly in some rural sections. The flesh of sqirrel is light red or pink in color and has a pleasing flavor.”

The section on steaks includes a charcoal broiled cookbook. It’s writtten by Philip S. Brown, and I like it. He comments in the first person throughout the recipes. I’d like to try his “Teriyaki”, made from marinated round steak strips woven back and forth on skewers and grilled.

Sterilize, stew, stir (entered as “stir, to”), stock. Stollen is a sweet, fruit-filled yeast bread baked in the form of a folded-over roll. That sounds like a recipe up my alley.

Strawberries are native to both the old and new world. The Encyclopedia of Cookery claims wild strawberries are the best – I’ve never had a wild strawberry! I have had small-farm grown fresh cultivated strawberries, though. I grew up in Southern California, where strawberry fields were abundant. Strawberry shortcake was an oft-made dessert at our home.

Strudel, stuffing, sturgeon, sucker (a fish), suet (hard fat from around the kidneys), sugar, sundae. A cookbook on Swedish Cookery. Sweetbread is “The thymus glands of lamb, veal, or young beef (under 1 year; the thymus disappears in mature beef). Sweetbreads consist of two parts: the heart sweetbread and the throat sweetbread.” According to the entry, sweetbreads are widely available year round fresh and frozen. I’ve never seen them in stores. Then again, I’ve never looked.

Sweet potatoes are the root of a perennial vine of the morning glory family. Sweet potatoes are not yams – yams are a completely different botanical species. Sweet potatoes are native to America. Many recipes are in the Sweet Potato Cook Book. Sweetsop refers to both a small tropical American tree and its sweet pulpy fruit, also called the sugar apple. Swiss Cookery is a collection of recipes authored by James A. Beard.

Syrup is a sweet, thick, sticky liiquid. It is made from a concentrated solution of sugar and water, and can be flavored with chocolate or the juice of a plant, for example, corn syrup, or from the concentrated juice of plants like sugar cane or maple trees. (It does not mention 100% maple syrup.) The taffy entry has a recipe for homemade taffy.

This entry is for my daughter:


A tangelo is a hybrid of the tangerine and garpefruit. Tangerines are named after Tangiers, but originated in China. Tapioca is made by heating the starch of the manioc tuber. I find that manioc is also known as cassava and yuca. Tarts are filled pastries, often sweet, but also savory. Here is a recipe for Frankfurter custard tarts.

Frankfurter Custard TartsI would never make these, they do not sound tasty to me. And “taste” is an entry: “one of the senses of man”. Tea is honored with an essay by James Beard on “the pleasures of tea drinking”, and I like his era “B. T.” – before tea:

teaTetrazzini is a dish I discussed in All-Time Favorite Casserole Recipes. Thanksgiving includes an essay and many traditional recipes.

Toast again! Toast was really popular in the 1960s. The “Toast Cook Book” is 5 pages long. A tomato is a fruit native to South America, and the Tomato Cookbook gives lots of recipes for its use.

Tongue is the last entry. It is a “nourishing and appetizing food, good hot or cold”. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked or eaten it. But according to the Encyclopedia of Cookery, it is an “old favorite”. “Tongue Twisters” is a collection of recipes by Iris Brooks: “No, nothing to do with P. Piper and his produce, but new twists on that old favorite, tongue. Have it pickled or corned, smoked or fresh; canned or in jars, plain or in vinegar; beef, calf, pork, or lamb; but by all means, have it. Whether hot or cold, whole on the platter or in even pink slices, tongue is always a delight to the eye and a joy to the palate.”

Well. On that note, I end volume 11 of the Encyclopedia of Cookery.

Now, what to make for this blog? I decide on “Strawberry Shortcake”.

Strawberry Shortcake recipeWhy did I choose this recipe? I have been making strawberry shortcake for years. But I have always started with my mother’s basic biscuit recipe, and just added “a bit” of sugar. This is an actual “shortcake” recipe. Plus, I like the way the dough is rolled out into a big circle and baked in a cake pan. Saves a step in cutting out the biscuits. And finally, I had some strawberries in the refrigerator looking to be used!

I made a one-third recipe for the two of us and had enough for dessert for two nights.

Strawberry Shortcake
serves 4

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/6 cup vegetable shortening (2 2/3 tablespoons or 32 grams)
  • 1/2 egg (whisk one egg, put in a measuring cup, and use half)
  • 1/4 cup milk, about
  • strawberries
  • whipped cream

Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut in the shortening. Mix the half egg and milk, then add to the flour mixture slowly, mixing with a fork, just until it makes a soft dough.

On a floured board, knead the dough lightly for about 20 turns. Roll or press into a 9-inch circle. Place in a lightly greased 9-inch cake pan.

Bake at 450˚ for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.

shortbreadMeanwhile, slice the strawberries and add a tablespoon or so of sugar. Stir and allow to macerate until you serve the shortcake.

To serve, split the baked shortcake into two layers. For us two, I first cut the shortcake into two half circles, then quarter circles. I took two quarter circles and split each quarter into two layers.

Layer one shortbread, half the berries, another shortbread layer, the rest of the berries, and then put whipped cream (real or fake) on top.

Strawberry ShortcakeThis was excellent! I like the egg in the dough, and I like rolling it into one circle instead of biscuits. My dining partner said “yum, but not enough!” I take that as a thumbs up.

250 Cookbooks: Crockery Cookery

Cookbook #216: Crockery Cookery, Mable Hoffman, H. P. Books, Los Angeles, CA, 1975.

Crockery Cookery cookbookI just now realized: This paperback book has the same title and cover photo and publication date as my hardcover book Crockery Cookery. This paperback is from my own collection, while the hard back version was my mother’s. I didn’t mark or note any of the recipes in the paperback. The information on the use of different brands of crockpots is the same in both, but some of the recipes are different. And, the hardcover edition is better illustrated.

In all, I have eleven crockpot cookbooks in my database. See my first crockpot blog entry for a little on the history of crockpots.

Before I realized that this cookbook was a duplicate, I spent some time poring over the recipes. This time they struck me as “definitely severnties” in content. For better or worse! To me, seventies style foods can be both comfort foods and over-fatty over-packaged over-salted foods to avoid. Today I will take them as comfort foods. I choose to make “Hungarian Goulash”, with ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, mustard, paprika, and garlic and onion.

Hungarian Goulash recipeThe recipe calls for beef stew meat, but I have a quantity of pork loin in the freezer so I decide to use that instead of beef.

Hungarian Goulash
serves about 4

  • 2 pounds beef or pork stew meat (I used cut-up pork loin)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup flour mixed into a small amount of water

Put the meat in a crockpot and then add the onion. In a bowl or measuring cup, combine the garlic, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, salt, paprika, mustard, and 1 cup water. Stir to combine,then pour over the meat/onion mix in the crockpot.

Cover and cook on low from 9-10 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours, until the meat is very tender. Taste and add salt and pepper to your taste. Then, with the crockpot on high, add the 1/4 cup flour mixed with a small amount of water. Stir in, then cover and cook on high for 15 minutes, until the sauce is thickened.

Serve over noodles or rice.

Hungarian GoulashThis was very good. I’d make it again!

I am going to recycle this paperback, though. The hardcover version is more pleasant to use, largely because of the color photographs.

250 Cookbooks: Handbook of the Nutritional Contents of Foods

Cookbook #215: Handbook of the Nutritional Contents of Foods, prepared by Bernice K. Watt and Annabel L. Merrill for the United States Department of Agriculture, Dover Publications, Inc., NY, 1975.

Handbook of the Nutritional Contents of FoodI bought the Handbook of the Nutritional Contents of Foods for myself new or used, I think sometime in the eighties. Around that time, I was developing a basic “eating plan” for myself, or maybe I should say “dieting plan”. You see, for years, I would diet strictly for months, eat sensibly for a short time, overindulge for weeks, then repeat the cycle. I drew up my first plan based on a diet given to me in the early seventies, before I left California. Later, The Calculating Cook influenced my diet plan, as well as The Glucose Revolution Pocket Guide to Losing Weight. Those books taught me how to judge food choices as good sources of protein and good or bad carbohydrates. Handbook of the Nutritional Contents of Foods gets down to the dark and dirty of the calories and nutrients in thousands of foods.

I went through a period of counting calories. And I don’t mean simply “counting calories”. I wrote down exactly what I ate each day and calculated the number of calories in each portion of food. At first, I measured portions with measuring cups; later I used a kitchen scale. When I discovered computer databases in the late eighties, I went crazy. I kept computer records of everything I ate, calculated the numbers of calories per day, and correlated it with my weight. I even graphed results. And, I rarely ate out when in a strict dieting phase because it could add an unknown number of calories.

This continued for a long time and the Handbook of the Nutritional Contents of Foods was my ultimate resource for years. This is a very serious, scientific type book that appeals to my scientific nature. More than just calories, I studied my diet to make sure I was getting enough of the nutrients considered essential. I found a page tucked into this book where I listed vitamins and good sources of each.

Here is another sheet of paper I found tucked into this book. It’s a calculation for the total calories I ate one day (and I found a mistake in my calculations):

calorie calculationOne thing I recall about looking up calories in this book is that it was difficult to find the calories in meats. I think maybe it was because I didn’t have a kitchen scale at the time, and would have to estimate the calories from the meat package label, using the amount sold (raw) and estimating the size of the portion I cut for myself.

Am I counting calories today? No! Life and food are too much fun, and I want to enjoy both. But, I do know to limit portions and usually do so.

Other books I own and have used to develop a sensible eating plan:

Handbook of the Nutritional Contents of Foods is available on Amazon as a used book: apparently it was never updated. Full text is available on Google books (the cover of the online book is a little different from the cover on my copy.)

The book contents

Handbook of the Nutritional Contents of Foods is a large book (8 3/4 x 12 inches) of 190 pages. It is almost only tables, as described below.

Table 1: Composition of Foods, 100 Grams, Edible Portion. This table gives values for: water content, food energy (calories), protein, fat, carbohydrate, ash, calcium, phosphus, iron, sodium, potassium, Vitamin A, thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). For many foods, such as meats, values are given for both cooked and uncooked portions. Here’s a photo of a sample page, just to show you how it’s formatted. It’s hard to follow the values for a specific food without a ruler as a guide. Here is a photo of a sample page:

table page

Table 2: Nutrients in the Edible Portion of 1 pound of Food as Purchased. This table gives the same values as Table 1, but for packaged foods rather than standalone foods. This table is not very useful today, because offered backaged foods have changed in the last 41 years, and because we now have nutrient content labels on most packaged foods. This excerpt my own post on Calories and Carbohydrates discusses the introduction of nutrient labels:

“Food products were sold without a nutrition content label. Thus this book once provided a great service. Beginning May 8, 1994, food companies were required by law to begin using nutrient content labels on packaged foods, a label mandated for most food products under the provisions of the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA), per the recommendations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”

Table 3: Selected Fatty Acids in Foods. Useful if you are carefully watching your saturated and unsaturated fatty acid intake. Cooking olis are listed, but the focus is on the food product, be it a fish, meat, dairy product, vegetable, fruit, or bread product.

Table 4: Cholesterol Content of Foods. One page only.

Table 5: Magnesium Content of Food. Ten pages.

The final pages are notes, small tables of miscellaneous values, explanations of where the values for the book were found, and a bibliography.

Will I keep this book? Yes, but mostly for curiousity. The book is over forty years old, after all. And of course, the values are so, so much easier to look up online. I have a few favorite go-to sites for food values, but basically, all you have to do is type the name of a food into a search engine and the food value will pop up.

And what shall I cook for this blog?

There are no recipes in this book. But my last post, PastaMatic MX700, sparked my interest in buckwheat. I had always thought “buckwheat” to be related to “wheat”, but instead it is in the rhubarb family. It is a gluten free grain. I look up the entry in Handbook of the Nutritional Contents of Foods:

Buckwheat flour, dark: 333 cal, 11.7 protein, 2.5 g fat, 72.0 carbs1.6 fiber, ash 1.8, 33 mg calcium 347 phpsphorus, 2.8 iron, no sodium, 0 potassium, 0 A, .58 thiamine .15 riboflavin, 4.4 niacin, no vit c

As a comparison, I look up the values for all purpose white flour: 364 cal, 10.5 protein, 1.0 g fat, 76.1 g carbohydrate, .43 g ash, 16 calcium, 87 phosphorus, .8 iron, 2 sodium, 95 potassium, 0 A, .06 thiamine, .05 riboflavin, .9 niacin, 0 vitamin C.

The only noticeable difference is potassium. But a big difference between white flour and buckwheat flour is the glycemic index. Buckwheat’s GI value is 47, whole wheat flour is 51, and white flour is 66. Any value less than 55 is considered “low glycemic index”. (I found these values from a Google search engine search.) Also, buckwheat flour is gluten free. (Note: in general, when you eat the full grain, such as “groats”, the glycemic index is lower than the value for the flour from the same grain.)

I made My Daily Bread, using 1 cup buckwheat flour, and making to 12 ounces with gluten flour and all-purpose unbleached flour. The buckwheat flour gave a lovely blue-purple-tinged to the loaf. It rose nicely:

risen buckwheat breadAnd it baked into a beautiful loaf. Here is a slice, showing the blue hue and the great texture:

slice of buckwheat breadI sniffed the loaf like I always do. Pee-yoo, it stinks! Something about the smell really turns me away. I ate a big bite and it tasted like it smelled. Yuck.

I was able to eat a slice with a lot of Whole Foods peanut butter and my own homemade Colorado apricot jam. It was very filling and left me with no lingering stinky after effects. But buckwheat is not for me.

250 Cookbooks: PastaMatic MX700

Cookbook #214: PastaMatic MX700, Simac, distributed by Lello Appliances Corp., NJ, circa 1998.

Pasta Matic MX700 cookbookMy Simac Pastamaker MX700 was a gift from my husband in 1998. I had been making my own pasta for  years, using a Kitchenaid mixer to mix the dough, and a manual Marcato pasta maker to roll the dough and form the noodles (see my post, the Pasta Cookbook). The Simac Pastamaker takes home pasta making to a whole new level. The dough is mixed right in the machine, then extruded through die sets into many different shapes: linguine, macaroni, capellini, small fettuccine, spaghetti, lasagne, and bucato.

Simac discsIt’s a lot of fun! And time-consuming, yes. A decade or so ago I stored the Pastamaker down in the basement to make room for other things on my countertop. I don’t think I’ve used it since then. Now I have a great excuse to pull it back up, clean it, and make some great pasta. (I love retirement!)

The receipt for my PastaMaker says it cost $235, new, in 1998. Are they still for sale? Yes, but I am not sure the Simac is available new. Amazon lists the PastaMatic, but none are available right now, so I can’t tell if they are new or not. A used one is for sale on eBay for $106. Google lists them from $12 to $520. Chef Masterpiece has one for sale for $519.98 – sounds like it’s new, but it doesn’t say.

My guess is that a machine offered by Lello, the company that distributed the PastaMatic MX700 that I have, is the replacement for the Simac. This is the “Lello 2730 3000 Pro Pastamaster Pasta Maker”. It sells for $235 new (same price as mine 19 years ago!). Fabulous Pasta reviews this model. There is some competition for the Lello from extruding pasta makers by Phillips, Gourmia, Ronco, and Viante.

During my web searches, I found two useful sites.  On Pasta Recipes Made Easy, the author found a used Simac Pastamaker for $10 at a thrift shop (circa 2010). She gave the machine a favorable review, plus a link in case I ever lose my instruction booklet. On Toque Tips, I find instructions for using the Simac Pastamaker and a good article on making tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes.

My PastaMatic MX700 cookbook is actually three separate pamphlets. One is recipes, one is instructions, and one is an instruction card. I have a nice note to myself on the front of the instructions:

pasta noteMy note tells me that I used King Arthur Flour “pasta blend” the last time I made make the dough in the Simac. The reference to the water-egg measuring “cup” means that I used the package instructions for measuring the proper ratio of flour to egg-plus-water. The “cup” was  shipped with Simac; it’s a specialized plastic measuring cup with levels marked for water and egg. BUT: these markings do not correlate with ounces, milliliters, or even cups. I never wrote down the exact capacity of that “measuring cup”. Each time I wanted to make pasta in the Simac, I had to locate this single-purpose utensil. I’m glad I wrote that note to myself! – now I know the proper ratio of wet to dry ingredients and can use a regular standard measuring cup.

In my post Beard on Pasta , I used King Arthur Pasta Flour Blend to make my main-dish pasta (using my manual machine). Pasta Flour Blend is “a blend of golden semolina, durum flour, and King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour”.

Semolina is a durum wheat, but it is coarsely ground and not the best for pasta because it does not make a pasty dough. That’s why it is blended with other flours in recipes and in the Pastry Flour Blend. Myown  old-time basic pasta dough recipe is 3/4 unbleached flour and 1/4 semolina.

The recipes portion of PastaMatic MX700 includes:

  • egg pasta (eggs, water, bleached all-purpose flour)
  • water pasta (water, bleached all-purpose flour)
  • semolina pasta (eggs, water, 2 cups semolina flour, 1 1/4 cup bleached all-purpose flour)
  • spinach pasta (cooked spinach, eggs, bleached all-purpose flour)
  • watercress pasta (watercress instead of spinach)
  • tomato pasta (tomato paste, water, bleached all-purpose flour)
  • whole wheat pasta (water, whole wheat flour, bleached all-purpose flour)
  • egg white pasta (egg whites, bleached all-purpose flour)
  • egg yolk pasta (egg yolks, all-purpose flour)
  • buckwheat pasta (water, yeast, 1/4 pound buckwheat flour, 3/4 pound bleached all-purpose flour)
  • soba (water, eggs, salt, 2/3 pound buckwheat flour, 1/3 pound bleached all-purpose flour)

I’ve run across “buckwheat flour” in several of my previous posts on health food or viegetarian cookbooks. But until I looked it up, I never knew that buckwheat is not wheat at all. Wheat is a grass, and buckwheat is not a grass, instead, it is related to sorrel and rhubarb. It is high in nutrients and grinds to a coarse flour.

The above recipes for pasta specify “bleached all-purpose flour”. I thought this odd, until I learned that bleaching flour causes it to dry out faster, giving a more consistent water content from bag to bag. Simac wants the consumer to have the easiest time with their recipes, and this takes precidence over the healthy aspects of unbleached flour. Me, I am used to dealing with variations in the water content of flours, and I will stick with my unbleached all-purpose flour.

Which type of flour should I choose to make pasta for this blog? I decide to try durum wheat, so I ordered some from King Arthur Flour. I open the package to find a beautiful slightly yellow fine flour. I will use only this type of flour in my pasta.

Durum flour packageI carry the Pastamaker upstairs and find the dies (hidden in a pottery jar upstairs). Some of the dies are crusted with dried dough. Oh, I remember, it’s hard to get the dough out of the tiny slits and holes. Sometimes they clog during use, or the dough doesn’t feed properly through them. Hmmm. I better set aside an afternoon for my re-experiment with my Pastamaker.

Simac PastamakerI decide to make macaroni, because I can make spaghetti and flat noodles any old time in my Marcato.

Note: Pasta made in the Simac Pastamaker is meant to be cooked right after it is formed, it directs me to do this right in the recipe booklet. When I make flat noodles or spaghetti using the manual Atlas pasta maker, I usually cook it, too, right away, but many (most?) people dry pasta before cooking.

I followed the recipe on the Pasta Magic KA Flour bag, substituting durum flour for the pasta magic mixture. This recipe has 4 eggs per 3 cups of flour; my old stand-by recipe has 2 eggs per 2 cups of flour.

Durum Pasta

  • 3 cups durum flour (16.4 ounces)
  • 4 eggs (I used jumbo yolk eggs and a couple had double yolks, this might have been too much egg)
  • 2-4 tablespoons flour
  • electric, extruding past machine
  • have ready a pot of boiling water

I debated whether or not to add salt or olive oil to the dough mixture. This time, I left both out.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your pasta machine.

Put the flour in the bowl of the pasta machine and start the motor. Add the eggs slowly, then mix for 3 minutes. Simac says to check the dough at this point. You want the consistency to be walnut-sized lumps, but not sticky. The dough is too dry if it feels floury and is in small granules. The dough is too wet if it feels sticky in large smooth balls. Correct if necessary by adding up to a teaspoon of water or 3 tablespoons of flour. Let knead another 3 minutes, for a total of 6 minutes. (In another part of the Simac instructions, it says to knead for 8-10 minutes for any recipe.)

Switch your pasta machine to extrude. (At this point, I attach the wetted macaroni die.) As the pasta comes out of the die, use a sharp knife to cut it into your desired lengths.

extruding macaroniBoil for 30 seconds and check for al dente; boil another 30 seconds if necessary. In Colorado, though, I cooked my macaroni for 3-4 minutes and it was perfect.

Okay, so now my report on how this actually worked for me today. First, my dough never formed walnut sized lumps. I carefully checked it, and it was neither grainy nor sticky, but it only formed large masses of dough. Thinking it too wet, I added more flour, to no avail. I added more water, to no avail. I was reluctant to keep the noisy machine running, plus it was hard to do so because a part on the lid of my pastmaker is broken, and I had to rubber-band it down to keep the dough lumps from opening the lid and turning the switch off.

This is nothing new, my memory tells me – this is what happens every time I have made pasta in the Simac. Now I remember why this machine is usually in the basement!

After 6-8 minutes, I decided to go ahead and extrude the dough. There is a small square hole in the bottom of the bowl that, when open, allows the dough to fall into the auger that feeds it up to and through the die. Well, I have to keep pushing the dough with the handle of a wooden spoon to get it into the hole, otherwise the mass of dough just passes over it, instead of dropping to the auger.

So I work, for probably half an hour, to get all the dough through the extruder. This means pressing down on the lid to make the motor run and extrude, then stopping it, taking off the lid and forcing a small chunk of dough into the hole, then restarting the machine. It was noisy, it took a long time.

But, my pasta was perfect. I absolutely love the durum wheat macaroni. It is firm, it is pale yellow, it is chewy, it is tasty. It is perfect.

cooked macaroni

I was so involved in making this lovely durum macaroni that time just fell away. And by the time all the macaroni was extruded and cooked, I had a big mess on my hands – the pasta maker and counter top all covered with dough bits, the stove wet with pasta cooking liquid runover. And I still had to pull the macaroni into a dinner dish, “Macaroni and Cheese with Wine”. This is a great recipe from my cookbook Pasta: macaroni, very sharp cheddar cheese, sweet white wine, butter, mustard, eggs, half-and-half, chopped green chiles, and bread crumbs (page 123). This dish needs to bake 40 minutes and then rest 10 minutes. I’ve gotta rush to get it done.

It wasn’t until the macaroni dish had finished cooking and I was serving our salads that I remembered I still had to heat up the big slice of ham that I had purchased for our main dish. And it wasn’t until after dinner that I remembered that I had not made a dessert!

Ah, but it was all worth it. My own homemade durum wheat in rich macaroni and cheese was a delight. Absolutely.

250 Cookbooks: Sunbeam Controlled Heat Automatic Frypan

Cookbook #213: Sunbeam Controlled Heat Automatic Frypan, Sunbeam Corporation, Chicago, Illinois,1953.

Sunbeam Controlled Heat Frypan cookbookI discussed electric fry pans in Hamilton Beach Automatic Heat Control Appliances, the recipe/instruction book for my fry pan. This booklet, Sunbeam Controlled Heat Automatic Frypan, was my mother’s. It must have come with her own fry pan – a Sunbeam model – in 1953. I wrote a note in my database: “I like the photo on the front”. Here is a close-up scan of the front cover:

Sunbeam Frypan

After 5 pages of instructions, there are about 12 pages of recipes. The first section is recipes for “Pan-broiling, Sauteing, Frying and Toasting Sandwiches”, including pan broiled steak, breaded steaks, meatballs, hash, lambburgers, salmon patties, omelet, fritters, corn fritters, potato patties, vegetables, and toasted (grilled) sandwiches.

The second section is recipes for using the fry pan with a lid. “Adjust dial to keep liquid just bubbling when light is on, a setting of about 200-240˚.” It includes recipes for pot roast, Swiss steak, stews, braised meat chops, veal rolls, chop suey, sukiyaki, meat balls, barbecued hamburger, chicken fricassee, scalloped potatoes, fried potatoes, hamburger macaroni casserole, fried chicken, baked beans, and frankfurter casserole.

All of the above recipes reflect the cooking of the mid-twentieth century. And in fact, many of these recipes are similar to what I cook today. But I fry in a good, heavy (shall I add expensive?) non-stick pan on the stove top, and I braise in good, heavy iron or enameled pots in the oven.

The next section is for baking cakes in the fry pan. No no no, that’s not for me. Packaged cake mixes, brownies, coffee cakes in the fry pan – and I really don’t think it would be easy to invert the fry pan and get these baked items out cleanly. I’ll stick to baking in the oven.

Other uses for the fry pan include popcorn, fudge, frying doughnuts, baked potatoes, cooking vegetables and cereal, heating baby foods, crisping crackers, defrosting, heating TV dinners (“frozen tray dinners”), baking frozen foods (including pizza), as a chafing dish, and for making white sauce. From this wide breadth of uses, it seems that a person could cook just about anything without a stove. This might work for staying in cabins, or for marginal housing arrangements. For us, we could use it in a power outage, since our backup generator gives us good but limited household power.

The back cover:

Sunbeam FrypanLook at all the Sunbeam appliances! Mixer (see my old Sunbeam mixer post), deep fryer (see my Sunbeam deep fat fryer post), irons, coffee pot, toaster, baby bottle warmer (interesting, since I just did a post on how to feed your baby), electric blanket, egg cooker, waffle maker, Lady Sunbeam razor, and shavemaster.

I am going to keep this cookbook. Not for the recipes, but for the nostalgia. Brings back memories.

For this blog, I will make Corn Fritters.

Corn Fritters recipe

Hey, in the directions they spell egg yolks “yokes!” I almost didn’t catch that.

I am making these for just two, so will one-third the recipe. I am not about to get out the big frypan just to make a small batch of fritters! I choose a medium non-stick frypan. I know how big the frypan is, and 1/2 cup oil would cover the bottom, but not fill it to the depth of deep frying, so I adjust my amount of oil by that guideline. Instead of serving them with syrup, I’ll have them as a side dish with one of my favorites, Southwestern Chicken.

Corn Fritters
serves 2

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup cooked corn (I used fresh corn)
  • 1 1/3 tablespoon flour
  • salt and pepper
  • vegetable oil

Beat the egg white until stiff. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolk on high for about half a minute, then turn to low and add the flour and salt and pepper. Stir in the corn. Fold the egg white into the egg yolk mixture.

Heat a pan to medium hot. Add enough oil to nearly cover the bottom, maybe a couple tablespoons. (You could get by with less when using a good nonstick pan.)

Drop in the corn fritter batter by spoonfuls. Fry on both sides until golden brown.

Corn Fritters I liked these! But, my dining partner wasn’t impressed. The Southwestern Chicken was enough for him. I think these would have been good with syrup, as suggested in the recipe. I would like them fried in less oil than I used. This is a good recipe for very easy corn fritters; I just need to figure out how to include them in a dinner – or breakfast – plan.

250 Cookbooks: Making Your Own Baby Food

Cookbook #212: Making Your Own Baby Food, Mary Turner and James Turner, Bantam Books, NY, 1978.

Making Your Own Babyfood cookbook

I bought Making Your Own Baby Food when I was preparing to feed my first child his first solid foods. I think I probably bought this little paperback in a used book store.

I invite you to read my post Feed Me I’m Yours for more of my thoughts on the topic of homemade baby foods – I use my grandchildren as my test subjects!

In both books, the advantages of and recommendations for homemade baby foods pretty much agree with current advice given to new moms, except for the “no honey until a year old” rule. Also, some milk products and some foods known to be potential allergens are introduced more carefully these days (peanuts, for instance). Making Your Own Baby Food is a lot more serious than Feed Me I’m Yours, a book I described as “friendly and helpful”.

The introduction of Making Your Own Baby Food begins with the authors (a couple) relating how they began to study the nutritive value of foods when Mary Turner (the wife) was two months pregnant. They quickly changed their own diets, taking out the multiple daily sugary drinks. And then they delved a lot more into the subject of the foods we are offered by the food industries. They express their strong belief that the food industry does not necessarily produce food of good nutritional quality for its consumers, and more importantly, for baby foods. They back up their statements with bibliographic references. The print is small. Hence I call it a “serious” book. And I have to get out strong glasses to read it.

Part I is “Getting in Gear”. This section discusses how to start changing your diet for the better and how to prepare to nourish your unborn and then newborn child. Part II is “What You Should Kuow [sic] About the Baby Food Industry”. Here is a quote from this section:

“Foods that are specifically prepared for babies require separate consideration from all other foods as regards the use of food additives and toxicological risks. The reason for this is that the detoxicating mechanisms that are effective in the more mature individual may be ineffective in the baby. The Committee [WHO Committee] strongly urges that baby foods should be prepared without food additives, if possible. If the use of a food additive is necessary in a baby food, great caution should be exercised both in the choice of additive and in the level of use.” (excerpt from a 1962 World Health Organization publication)

Parts I and II are fully half of the book: this is not simply a recipe book.

Part III is “The Alternatives”. This section first discusses how to put in action a good nutrition plan for mom and baby, including breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is now quite common in the US (2017). But when I had my son in 1980, breastfeeding was only coming back as an upward trend, after a hiatus in the 1950s and 60s. For instance, my own mother was encouraged to use formula. Today breastfeeding in our area of America is encouraged – and they have human-milk banks for moms who are unable to breastfeed.

The discussion of how to transition from milk to solids begins: “Going from a diet made up entirely of milk to one which includes a few solids is an important step in an infant’s life.” And:

“Nutritionists state:

  1. Food should be nutritious.
  2. It should be accepable [sic] to the infant and its family.
  3. It should be possible to prepare without excessive effort.
  4.  It should be clean and prepared in clean surroundings.”

Next in “Part III: Alternatives” is “doing your own thing”. Parents are encouraged not to buy a big variety of foods for baby (apparently this was suggested by many pediatricians in1978), or to buy foods specifically labeled as “baby foods”. The theme of Making Your Own Baby Food is keep it simple, and to use foods you have on hand.

A few quotes from this section:

“The young baby and child are not known for their discriminating desire for gourmet foods.”

“Our parents and grandparents did not eat food until they were able to sit up at the table and nibble at small bits of food from a parent’s plate.”

“Keeping this in mind, you will learn in the pages ahead a number of simple recipes for baby food which parents are now using in their attempts to give their children more nutritious meals.”

Supplies for making baby food are in the excerpt below. Blenders today can still be purchased for as low as $20, pretty amazing. I bought a mini-jar attachment for my old Osterizer, and I still own it – even the screw-top lid. Baby grinders are readily available.

suppliesHere is my Osterizer mini-jar:

Osterizer mini-jarIt still works with my current Osterizer blender. I should try it sometime!

I got a kick out of the excerpt below on “Shopping”. Check out local stores? Yeah, I do that! I consider it a hobby. But then again, back in the 1970s some of the “health food” stores were pretty iffy. I remember several as dank with wooden floors, with organic produce that was spotty and marginal, and shelves stuffed with all sorts of odd and interesting items. Today’s markets such as Whole Foods are a couple generations bright and cleaner and are more comprehensive. (But they sure have a lot of flashy-packaged products.)

shoppingshoppingDid you catch that last paragraph? “In general, you can be suspicious of all new products, those advertised on television or in magazines, and those in flashy boxes.” Can one even find a package of food these days that is not in a flashy package??

Part III gets – finally! – to the recipes. Only one-quarter of this book is recipes! I guess I’m a recipe sort of person.

The first recipe is “Banana”. banana recipe First vegetables include acorn squash. I mention this because when I was babysitting a couple weeks ago, my 7 month old ate acorn squash – so it can be my “recipe” for this blog. My daughter put an acorn squash in the oven, and I took it out 45 minutes later. All I did was take it out and let it cool, then fed some to little Kekeli. He liked it!

acorn squash

Here is a list of common ingredients in the recipe pages:

Fresh fruits, avocados, acorn squash, yams, carrots, potatoes, celery, green beans, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, meats (purchased fresh from your local butcher), canned salmon (make sure it has no additives), barley, split peas, safflower oil, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, Tigers milk, sesame seeds, coconut, powdered milk, peanut buttter, honey, raw sugar. Eggs are always specified as “eggs (raw)”. For flour, they suggest unbleached white flour OR use half soy and half whole wheat flours.

“Crepes” is one of the recipes. Below are some filling suggestions from Making Your Own Baby Food:

crepes fillingsI like this: “Needless to say this is just an occasional splurge and one not to be eaten by babies.”

The last section is the appendices. The suggested reading list (books) and the magazine bibliography (periodicals) and book and pamphlet lists are outdated (published by 1978) and not of much use to me. She included a bibliographic footnote list for each chapter. “Proposed Rules for Labeling Baby Foods” is a 10-page very small print reproduction of an article in the Federal Register, vol. 41, no. 174, September 7, 1976.

I did find it interesting to read Making Your Own Baby Food again. But, it this book will go into the recycle pile.

Update: one week later. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with my 8 month old grandson this week. We were at a park and fed him crackers and spaghetti. “What is this weird stuff” he seemed to be asking.

250 Cookbooks: Beard on Pasta

Cookbook #211: Beard on Pasta, James Beard, Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 1983.

Beard on Pasta cookbook

James Beard was a well-known and well-loved twentieth century American cook, author, teacher, and television personality. I covered his book Beard on Bread in my fifth 250 Cookbooks post, and he wrote many articles in my Encyclopedia of Cookery volumes. I enjoy his writing, and his wisdom. So I am happy to now cover Beard on Pasta.

“This is a book of good times to have with pasta.” So begins the introduction of Beard on Pasta. He continues: “I never get tired of pasta, any more than I get tired of bread.” I am the same way!

Noodles have a long history. Before refrigeration, wheat was mixed with water to make a paste that was dried to become “noodles”, and these could be stored at room temperature without spoiling. According to Beard, in early Bulgaria lumps of dried dough were carried by horsemen in their saddlebags and grated into pots of boiling milk at the end of the day’s ride. Records show that noodles were being sold in Greece as early as the fifth century. “Pasta in Italy probably started in the south, as part of that whole Mediterranean culture. We know that Romans grew wheat in Sicily.”

We tend to think of noodles as Italian, but pasta is a part of nearly every country’s cuisine. Noodles are made from wheat flour, rice flour, and mung bean, yam, potato, and cassava starches. Noodles are made in all shapes and sizes. Some noodles require boiling before adding to a dish, and some only need to be soaked in cold water.

A quote from Beard: “We’re Americans, with a whole melting pot of cultures behind us, and we don’t have to do things the classic Italian way. We can do as we please.” And: “this is not an Italian cookbook”.

The first chapter is “Observations”. Beard discusses commercial dried pastas, store-bought fresh pasta, equipment for making and saucing pasta, how to cook pasta, choosing portions, important ingredients (tomatoes, olive oil, cheese), and what to drink with pasta. I like the way he does not judge between store-bought or homemade pasta, and he does not judge between pasta-making methods such as hand made, manual machines, or electric pasta-extruding machines. I like to use my manual pasta maker for simple flat noodles and spaghetti and for filled pastas like ravioli. I own an electric Simac pasta machine that both kneads and extrudes the dough. I don’t use it a lot anymore, but it is great for making fresh macaroni.

Also in the “Observations” chapter is a section on flour. Me and flour have a long relationship and I pay close attention to this section. Beard writes that the recipes in this book were all prepared with all-purpose flour. But he states that the best flour for pasta is durum (hard-wheat) flour. Durum flour has more gluten in it (gluten is the sticky stuff), but was hard to find in the US when he wrote the book in 1983. All-purpose flour is a blend of hard and soft wheats. Semolina is made from durum wheat, but in the US, it is sold as a coarsely ground product, and does not make a good, pasty dough. I do use semolina when I make my own pasta dough, but I always mix it with all-purpose flour, in a ratio of about 1 part semolina to 3 parts all-purpose flour.

While it is still hard to find durum wheat and other specialty flours in my local stores, I discovered King Arthur Flour online a couple decades ago. Today I can order durum flour, artisan bread flour, french-style flour, high gluten flour, and a pasta flour blend from King Arthur Flour.

The next chapter is “Making Pasta”. This chapter describes how to roll, cook, and dry homemade pasta. (I talked a lot about how I make pasta in this post: The New Pasta Cookbook  – please refer to that post to learn about my method.) My age-old pasta dough recipe is 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup semolina flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 eggs, and 2-4 tablespoons water. Beard’s recipe is similar, but leaves out the semolina flour and the olive oil. He gives directions for making the dough by hand, as well as using a food processor or a mixer.

The rest of the chapters include recipes for different pasta dishes: Pastas in Broth, Mainly Vegetable, Fish and Seafood, Meats, Eggs and Cheese, Stuffed Pastas, Cold Pasta, Small Saucings, and Desserts. The only recipe I marked in this book is “Chilied Short Ribs over Corn Macaroni”. I almost made “Italian Sausage Salad” for this blog and will definitely make it some hot summer night (oddly enough, we are having a very cool August in Colorado). In the Desserts chapter, I discover a recipe for “Noodle Pudding”, with broad noodles, eggs, sugar, spices, apples, raisins, and apricots. This “famous Jewish specialty” really sounds like the elusive kuchen recipe that a college friend made for us all those years ago!

To sum up: this book is a great source for pasta recipes. It’s a keeper!

Now, what to make for this blog? Beard inspires me to be creative and trust my own judgement, to explore, to substitute ingredients, to use what is on hand in my household. So that is what I am going to do for this blog post.

First I’ll make my own pasta. I haven’t made pasta from scratch for a long time, maybe just  couple times since my December 2012 post on The New Pasta Cookbook. In that post, I show and discuss my manual pasta machine. Briefly, it rolls the dough into thin sheets, and then it cuts those sheets into flat noodles or spaghetti.

I have a bag of “Perfect Pasta flour blend” in my pantry. It is:

“a blend of golden semolina, durum flour, and King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour” (ordered online from King Arthur Flour)

Yes! It has the durum flour touted by James Beard. The problem is, the package should have been used by 2015 (and it’s 2017). It is still sealed, so I open the package and carefully look for bugs. None. I give it a big sniff: does it smell a little stale? Maybe, but I think it’s okay. The recipe on the package back is:

  • 3 cups Perfect Pasta Flour Blend
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2-4 tablespoons water
  • a little extra flour for the work surface

The directions say to mix in a food processor, bread machine, or by hand in a bowl. Bread machine?! Hey, I’ve never mixed pasta dough in a bread machine, I think I’ll try it!

I have three beautiful, delicious summer tomatoes from the local produce stand. And I have basil, oregano, and thyme in my garden. I decide to make Beard’s Fresh Tomato Sauce:

Fresh Tomato Sauce recipeThe tomatoes need to be peeled, seeded, and chopped, and Beard has directions for this on page 16. In a class at the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Boulder, I was taught to cut out the top stem end of the tomato, score an X on the bottom, boil for 30 seconds, chill the tomato in an ice bath, peel the tomato, cut it in half, and then scoop out the seeds. Beard’s directions on page 16 of Beard on Pasta are much simpler. The tomatoes are boiled “as is” for 30 seconds, then you slice off the top, squeeze out the juice and seeds, peel the tomato, and chop it up. I tried Beard’s method and liked it. Here is my “Fresh Tomato Sauce”.

fresh tomato sauceI am inspired by Beard’s “Pasta with Beans” recipe on page 90. The ingredients are: white beans, bacon, onions, carrots, herbs, canned tomatoes, and elbow macaroni. I have some great home-cooked flageolet beans in my freezer. I have leftover ham to use instead of bacon. My daughter gave me a big zucchini from her garden. I have a good red pepper. Herbs I have in abundance! I’ll use the fresh tomato sauce (above). And, of course, I will have my homemade flat noodles.

Here are the julienned zucchini and red pappers and herbs:

pasta veggies

I saute the ham with some garlic:

ham and garlicBeard is big on cheese. But, I don’t have a lot of good, chunk Parmesan cheese in my refrigerator – and I’ve decided to make this meal with what I have on hand. I sniff all my cheeses, grate up the last (hard) chunk of Parmesan, add a bit of another sharp white cheese, and use the last of my pre-shredded Parmesan.

cheeseI made a loaf of My Daily Bread to go with the pasta:

wheat bread

And here is my pasta dish:

pasta dish

It was absolutely delicious! So fresh and so full of flavor. The noodles were cooked al dente, and definitely a bit thick, and had just the right amount of chewiness. Such a great meal that we decided to open a bottle of red wine. Yum, what a treat on a Thursday night.

Thank you James Beard for encouraging me to be creative.

Note: I don’t think I’ll use the bread machine to knead the dough next time. The pasta dough was a bit too wet, and fell apart if I tried to get my manual pasta machine to roll it thinner than the “4” setting (“6” is the thinnest). Next time, I’ll go back to using my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer for the dough.

250 Cookbooks: Knudsen Recipes

Cookbook #210: Knudsen Recipes, Knudsen, Knudsen Creamery Co. of California, 1958.

Knudsen Recipes cookbook

This is the third of my mother’s “Knudsen Recipes” cookbooks that I have covered: 1953 was the first, 1955 the second.

I like this edition because it is very much like the 1955 version. Again, the first page illustrates a male chemist in the lab. This time he is dripping something from a big round separatory funnel into a round bottom flask. If he adds much more solution, it will definitely overflow. Plus, why is the lower flask suspended? He is not heating that flask, and it would make more sense to have it on a solid surface, and to use an erlenmeyer flask. (The organic chem lab teacher in me never quits.)

scientistAnd as in the 1955 edition, it is a woman who is doing the cooking, or at least reading the cookbook.

cookThe first section is Appetizers and Spreads. Mother marked several: Crab Meat Canapes, Salami-Julienne Spread, and Cheese Onion Balls. These are all made with cream cheese, cottage cheese, and/or sour cream, with additions of canned or frozen products. During the 50s, and especially during the cocktail hour, these types of appetizers were a mainstay of American cookery.

appetizersHere is a photo of some of the appetizers:

Next is Salads. Mother put a check mark on “Carrot and Red Cabbage Salad”. I thought about making this salad, since I like the combination of carrots and cabbage, but this recipe has more sour cream than I think I’d like. A “Full Meal” salad mixes leftover cooked meat with canned or fresh vegetables and a lot of cottage cheese and sour cream. Not for me. Nor are the molded salads. I guess this whole chapter is just not for me!

In the Main Dishes chapter, most of the recipes use about a cup of sour cream and/or cottage cheese per recipe. “Spaghetti with Beef in Hampshire” is a dish of steak, herbs, canned mushrooms, canned tomato soup, Worcestershire sauce, and sour cream, cooked and served over spaghetti. “Spaghetti Cheese Pie” is cooked spaghetti spread in a pie pan and covered with bacon, mushrooms, eggs, cheddar cheese, and cottage cheese and then baked. Both of these typical homey 50s recipes might taste good, but just aren’t the way I cook today. “Baked Potato, The Great American Dish” – baked potatoes with sour cream and chives – was also in the 1955 edition of Knudsen Recipes.

Right in the middle of the Main Dishes chapter I find a recipe for “Cherry Muffins”. Why here? I really don’t know. But I like the recipe, because I am always looking for new muffin recipes and this one has cottage cheese (protein and calcium) in the batter along with a can of tart red cherries (tart cherries are supposed to be good for you). Note all of the recipes on the page below: they are good examples of the type of recipes in this cookbook.

main dishes

Perhaps Cherry Muffins were meant to be served with supper, or on a buffet, as in the photo below. The muffins are in the lower right hand corner:

main dishes

Also in the Main Dish chapter is the following recipe for “Zucchini Dollar Cakes”. I think the recipe sounds kind of good. And it might come in handy in late summer, when all those zucchini squashes are out there.

zucchini dollar cakes

In the Vegetables chapter, most of the vegetables are heavily sauced. Except “Broccoli in Almond Sauce”, which has just a little sour cream. But it calls for frozen broccoli. I prefer a little seasoning on lightly cooked fresh vegetables. I do like the idea of adding cottage cheese to mashed potatoes, one of the other recipes in this section.

Desserts and Sweets is the best chapter for recipes that include sour cream and cream cheese, in my opinion. We expect desserts to have calories, and getting those calories from milk products might be better for us. Examples are: “Cream Cheese Pie”, “Cheese Cake”, “Viennese Apple Strudel” (with cream cheese, butter, and a lot of apples), and “Sour Cream Boston Cheese Cake”. I am marking “try” on the recipe for “Hampshire Sour Cream Spice Cake”, with cottage cheese, sour cream, and lots of spices. It is baked in a bundt pan.

The closing pages of Knudsen Recipes include lists of menus, ideas for using Knudsen products for “weight control for better health”, and a table of calories in a few foods and recipes in this cookbook.

caloric quotaNext is a rave for all the good things about yogurt, hoop cheese, and milk. “Looking for New Ideas? Ways to use cottage cheese” lists a page of ideas. The following one is my favorite. “The men like this with old-fashioned hot potato salad.”

“Looking for New Ideas? Ways to use sour cream” is next, and here is my favorite from that list. “Gourmets babble?”

And that’s the book. I decide to make the “Cherry Muffins” for this blog. Here is the recipe (again):

Cherry Muffins recipeThe first issue I need to address in baking these muffins is the “2 cups prepared biscuit mix”. Biscuit mix, or “Bisquick”, was a staple in American kitchens in the 1950s. It is still available today. Should I purchase a box of Bisquick to make this recipe? I think not. I have no other use for it, and in general, I like cooking from scratch, so that I know my ingredients. Luckily, at some time in the recent past I had copied from the web search results for a substitution for biscuit mix:

“For each 1 cup biscuit mix (like Bisquick) called for in a recipe, use 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening.”

I decide to use a combination of unbleached all purpose flour and whole wheat pastry flour, and to use butter instead of vegetable shortening. Also, the cottage cheese I have is very salty, so I am going to cut down the amount of salt. Below is my version of “Cherry Muffins”.

Cherry Muffins
makes 12

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (you can use all purpose flour instead)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter, preferably unsalted
  • 1 cup (one can, 13 oz.) tart red cherries, unsweetened, the kind used to bake cherry pies

Combine the flour(s), baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

Put the egg in a good sized bowl and whisk it a few times. Add the sugar, milk, cottage cheese, and melted butter. Mix well.

Chop the drained cherries. These cherries will be very wet and soft, and I didn’t get them totally drained. No problem, just scoop them into the bowl with the wet ingredients.

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and stir just until mixed. Put into 12 muffin cups. Bake at 400˚ 20-22 minutes, until golden brown and test done with a toothpick.

Cherry MuffinsThese were a lot better than I expected! I was concerned that the cherries would not lend enough flavor to the muffins, but I was very wrong. Also, I often use vegetable oil in muffins, but used butter in these. Same calories, but what a difference in texture! These almost taste like pie crust.

Success! I was able to use healthy ingredients, like tart cherries and cottage cheese, to make delicious morning muffins. Probably current and future readers will find nutritional problems with my recipe, as opinions and science are in flux. But for now, I will enjoy my semi-healthy muffins!

250 Cookbooks: Weber Gas Grill Cookbook

Cookbook #209: Weber Gas Grill Cookbook, Weber-Stephen Products, 2005.

Weber Gas Grill cookbookThis booklet of 26 recipes must have come with our Weber gas grill. I have forgotten all about this cookbook, since soon after getting the grill I purchased Weber’s Real Grilling, a large cookbook with tons of recipes.

Today as I open this 8 1/2 x 11-inch booklet, I am so very glad I rediscovered it! It is formatted much like Weber’s Real Grilling, and I invite you to read that post for background information.

First are three recipes for grilling steak, including a recipe I’d like to try: “Marinaded Flank Steak”. Next is baby back ribs with a “spiced apple cider mop”. Onions and green peppers are doused with beer in a foil pan and grilled alongside bratwurst in “Bratwurst & Beer”.

“Gaucho Grill with Chimichurri Sauce” grills a mixture of chicken, sausages, and flank steak, all rubbed with a homemade chimichurri sauce before grilling and served with more of this sauce. “Gyros Roast” is interesting, but sounds like a lot of work. First you pound a slab of lamb and a slab of round steak, rub herbs on the lamb, top with the round steak, roll up this lamb-herb-beef sandwich, tie with string, and grill 1 1/2 hours. Both the Gaucho Grill and Gyros Roast would be good recipes if cooking for a crowd.

“Rack of Lamb” and “Leg of Lamb” are other group-sized recipes. Not sure they would work for a couple, since what would I do with the leftovers? “Spicy Lamb Kabobs” would work well for two people, though. The lamb cubes are marinaded in red wine vinegar, lemon juice, orange rind, green onion, cinnamon, and cloves . “Pecan-Stuffed Pork Chops”? Sound great – I have baked stuffed pork chops, but never done them on the grill.

“Ricotta Chicken” begins with a whole chicken. You remove the backbone and slice the chicken in half lengthwise. Then you push a mixture of ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, and herbs under the skin. Finally, you grill it. Sounds good, but a bit of work.

“Cornish Hens with Mandarin Sauce” would probably be good. I have never grilled stuffed game hens. I marked “Tandoori Chicken” as good, and now I decide to cook this dish for this blog.

“Chicken Fajitas” and “Grilled Chicken Pitas” are nice, everyday meals. There are recipes for sea bass and tuna, if I am every able to find these expensive fishes. A recipe for salmon doesn’t inspire me, and I know I’ll never try the shrimp recipe, because it has curry in it.

I rarely grill vegetables. This book has recipes for grilled tomatoes, red peppers stuffed with fresh mozzarella, corn on the cob in the husk, stuffed potatoes, and squash with peppers. Doubt I’ll use these recipes, although I do love fresh mozzarella and red peppers.

The last recipe is for “Paradise Grilled”. This is grilled pineapple, and I love grilled pineapple! This recipe includes a glaze, which I really think is unnecessary. Grilled pineapple is great on its own, or maybe over ice cream.

At the very end of Weber Gas Grill Cookbook is a 3-page grilling guide. Weber’s Real Grilling has grilling guides, but they are scattered throughout the book. The one in Weber Gas Grill Cookbook is much more concise, and I think it is more useful.

I definitely will keep this cookbook. I am going to store it tucked inside the big Weber’s Real Grilling (my favorite grilling cookbook) so that I don’t forget about it, and also for ready access to the grilling guide.

“Tandoori Chicken” is the recipe I chose for this blog. It is the only recipe I marked in this cookbook – I marked it with a post-it as “excellent”.

Tandoori Chicken recipe

I will make it exactly like the recipe, except we’ll skip the chutney and cucumbers. I can tell this is a recipe that is “up my alley”, since I have all of the ingredients on my shelves or in my refrigerator.

Tandoori Chicken
serves 4-5

  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander (or crushed coriander seed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 pounds chicken pieces

Combine all of the marinade ingredients, and then add the chicken. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

When ready to cook the chicken, remove it from the marinade, saving the marinade. Boil the marinade for 1 minute: it will be used to baste the chicken in the last part of the grilling step.

Heat a gas grill with all burners on until it is very hot. Then, turn off half of the burners (or two-thirds, depending on the size of your grill) and let the temperature drop to about 350-375˚. Place the chicken pieces skin side up on the grill over indirect heat.

Cook for about 45 minutes, until done, as indicated by a quick read thermometer, or observing that the “juices are running clear”. Brush with the boiled marinade during the last 15 minutes or so of grilling time.

Note that this recipe does not call for turning the chicken pieces. I like grill marks on both sides, so I turned them once to skin side down for about 5 minutes. I put them over the direct heat, and I shouldn’t have! They tasted great, but were a bit blackened. Next time, I might try placing them skin side down first, over indirect heat, for a few minutes, then turn them skin side up for the remainder of the cooking.

Tandoori ChickenThese tasted great! The yogurt marinade makes them not only well seasoned, it also makes them very tender. (I put the blackened side down for the photo. They would have been so much prettier if I hadn’t tried something experimental!)

I served the Tandoori Chicken with a fresh lettuce salad with wonderful tomatoes from our local fruit stand, fresh vinaigrette dressing using my garden’s herbs, corn on the cob, and a loaf of sourdough bread from our local Button Rock Bakery. Topped the meal off with fresh peach and apricot pie, fruits again from our local stand.

Ah, I love the days of summer with fresh local produce. And I enjoy re-discovering a good cookbook.

250 Cookbooks: Kitchen Science

Cookbook #208: Kitchen Science, Revised Edition, Howard Hillman, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1989.

Kitchen Science cookbook

The following is a quote from Howard Hillman, found in the foreword to this revised edition of Kitchen Science:

“By popular demand, we’ve expanded Kitchen Science, by 25 percent. It was fun because we love to eat, cook, and experiment (a friend affectionately nicknamed us ‘mad scientists in the kitchen’).”

I love this book! Mad scientists in the kitchen, much like me.

From the preface:

“Find yourself a recipe, and you can cook one dish. Teach yourself the science of cooking, and you can cook creatively forever. Creative cooking requires love, imagination, art, and science.”

I bought this book for myself when I was a working chemist. I even loaned it to some of my students over the years. I am very happy to revisit this book for this blog – Kitchen Science has laid on the shelf way too long. Out of curiousity, I checked to see if Howard Hillman has updated Kitchen Science, and sure enough, there is a revision released in 2003.

The first chapter of Kitchen Science covers cooking equipment, for example: how to choose a good knife and how to sharpen it; the advantages/disadvantages of different types of pans.

The next chapter, cooking methods, covers the usual stove top and oven methods, but with a much more scientific twist. Example: “Heat cooking is chemistry. When you increase the heat, you increase the velocity of the molecules in a food. The greater the speed, the more the molecules collide.These microscopic crashes can alter the molecular structures, creating new molecules and changing the color, flavor, and texture of the cooking food.” He also answers questions like “Is there a difference in temperature between lightly and vigorously boiling water?” (no) and “Does salt raise the boiling point of water?” and “Is braising best done in the oven or on to of the stove?” and “What causes a lid to stick to a pan?”

I learn in the “Meats” chapter that a “bloody red steak” isn’t really bloody, instead, the red color comes from myoglobin, a constituent of muscle. Furthermore, myoglobin undergoes chemical changes as its temperature rises, going from pink to drab brown. Thus, the red color in “blood rare” steaks is actually pink myoglobin. “London broil” has been a popular dish since I was a little kid. Today’s markets sell thick round steak as “London broil”. However, true London broil used to be flank steak, a cut of meat that has long fibers and is taken from the side or “flank” of the cow. After World War II, Americans took up the “fashionable backyard sport of barbecuing”, and since each steer has only two flank steaks, butchers began merchandising the relatively abundant round steak as “London broil”. Hillman discusses the pros and cons of salting meat before or after cooking. And beyond beef, he writes that free range chickens have more flavor because exercise developes more flavor in their muscles.

On the topic of fish, Hillman explains that freshwater fishes have more “small, annoying bones” than marine fishes, because salt water has a higher specific density, thus fish in the ocean have a greater buoyancy and that buoyancy allows them to have a heavier bone structure. Lobster claws are secured with rubber bands because lobsters are cannibals, and unless their claws are disabled they will eat each other while they are held in lobster tanks.

I have often run across recipes that say to “scald milk”. I tend to skip this step, always feeling a bit guilty. But no more! From Kitchen Science: “Scalding has two primary purposes: to kill pathogenic microorganisms and to destroy certain enzymes that would keep emulsifying agents in the milk from doing their thickening job.” But today, this book explains, when you buy pasteurized milk, about the only kind of milk offered in US stores, both of these tasks have already been accomplished. Yay! I can now ignore directions to scald milk!

How about drinking chocolate milk as a source of calcium? Well, chocolate has oxalic acid in it, and this chemical inhibits the digestive system’s ability to absorb calcium. So not such a good idea. Unsalted butter is better for cooking because the salt content of salted butter can vary from brand to brand. Recipes from “virtually all serious cookbooks are based on the use of sweet (unsalted) butter”. I have gradually changed my recipes over the past several years to use sweet butter, and now I know why. Pages 110-112 give a great method for clarifying butter, and I’ll definitely use this method next time a recipe calls for it.

Eggs are the next chapter. To this day, I use the method described in Kitchen Science to boil eggs. First, I use a push-pin to make a hole in the less-pointed end of the egg. You see, after an egg is laid, the yolk and albumen shrink and an air pocket forms between the less pointed end and the shell. When you put the egg in hot water to boil, this area can expand and crack the shell. That’s not only annoying, it makes the boiling water all white and yucky! So I poke a hole in the flatter end of each egg shell, and gently lower the egg into boiling water, and happily watch a stream of air bubble out of the egg. Almost never do these poked egg shells crack in the boiling water. (More on this technique below.)

My interest in chicken eggs may come from my time in graduate school. Here is the title of my master’s thesis: “The effect of methylene bridged monoribonucleotides on transformation of chick embryo fibroblasts by Rous sarcoma virus” (by Patricia Louise Feist, University of Colorado, 1976). For this research project, I had to incubate fertilized chicken eggs for about 9 days in a special small egg incubator (which was re-discovered in the attic storage of the old chemistry building in the 2000s). Each egg had to be placed in the incubator with the flatter end up, otherwise the air sac would break and the whole egg would become infected with bacteria. When you buy a carton of eggs, they should always be sold with the flatter end up. But, I often find them upside down in today’s markets. Perhaps this is because they are sterilized before being sold, a process which oddly enough makes them require refrigeration. In Togo, eggs were not sterilized, and stored at room temperature, and were just fine because unsterilized eggs have a natural protection.

I digress! Back to Kitchen Science. “What is the difference between a fruit and a vegetable?” Here is the excerpt:

fruits vs vegetables

Now I think I’ll call tomatoes “fruit-vegetables”.

“Sauces and Thickeners” is the next chapter. I took a cooking class on sauces and the information in this chapter correlates with what I learned there. Emulsified sauces intrigue me. I guess it’s from all those times I shook up solutions in a separatory funnel, and often had a nasty emulsion at the interface of the aqueous and hydrocarbon layers. Emulsions in the lab were a pain in the neck, but an emulsion in a salad dressing is a wonderful thing. Kitchen Science has several “experiments” on making emulsified and other sauces, like Hollandaise, Vinaigrette, and Maltese Falcon Custard, and Mornay Sauce. How fun! I’d like to make them all.

In the “Seasonings” chapter, I learn that kosher salt is better than regular salt for sprinkling on food like corn on the cob because the salt crystals are larger and because they have a more jagged configuration, and thus cling better to food surfaces. “Kosher salt is so named because it was specially developed as an aid for Jews who adhere to kosher dietary laws, one of which requires that as much blood as possible be removed from meat before it is cooked; the characteristics of kosher salt make it better suited for drawing out the blood”. MSG, monosodium glutamate, highlights the flavor of salt, but leaves a peculiar off-flavor. Hot chili peppers are more popular in tropical (hot) zones because they cool the body, perk up the appetite, and add zest to a bland diet (veggies and seafood in the tropics are bland, according to Kitchen Science). Hot chilis are a preservative, swamp the telltale tase of spoilage, reduce the incidence of diarrhea, and aid digestion by accelerating the flow of gastric juices.

“Oils and fats” explains that an oil is a fat, but it is common practice to use the term “fat” for those fats that are in a solid state at room temperature. Shortening can be made from animal or vegetable fat; those based on vegetable oil are made solid by hydrogenation.

I learned something about unbleached flour in the baking chapter. (I also discussed unbleached flour here.) According to Howard Hillman, unbleached flour has a more natural taste because it has not been treated with bleaching chemicals. However, unbleached flour must be aged for several months to strengthen its gluten content; bleaching artificailly ages the flour so it can be sold right away. Thus, bleaching the flour is not only a cosmetic preference demanded by the consumer, as I always thought, but also a way to get a product to market faster. I learn that sifting flour is no longer necessary (yay!), because “Most modern baking recipes are based on the measured volume of unsifted flour, partly because the flour sold today is not as compacted as it was in our grandparent’s day. But even if the flour of yesteryear didn’t need sifting for lightness, it probably would have been best to sift it anyway to remove insects and other impurities.”

Pages 258-262 give and describe a list of about twenty common food additives. Granted, it’s not as complete as J. Michael Lapchick’s book The Label Reader’s Pocket Dictionary of Food Additives, but this list is still useful.

The last chapter is a potpourri of science facts about foods. In this chapter is a 6-page principle-illustrating recipe on how to make a souffle. I think I’ll review this section next time I make a souffle for dinner (one of our favorite meals).

For this blog, I decide to boil eggs. Ha, what can be easier? Who needs a recipe? Well, there are a lot of controversies on how to properly boil an egg. Some start in cold water, for instance. As I stated above, I always use the method described in Kitchen Science. (Please read the first sections of this blog entry to find out why I poke holes in the eggs before boiling.)

Hard Boiled Eggs

Step 1. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, then turn the heat down a bit so that it’s boiling but a little calmer. If it is a huge rolling boil, the eggs might hit each other while cooking, increasing the chance that they will break. But it’s important to have the water boiling because this recipe is carefully timed, and you need the water at a predictable temperature.

Step 2. While still in the carton, study the eggs you will cook. The top side should be the flatter end of the egg, the end where the air sac resides.

eggs in cartonI took the eggs out of the carton in the same order and laid them on a cloth with the upper ends to the right for each egg. Note how hard it can be to find the flatter end – sometimes both ends look the same.

eggs on clothBelow is a close-up of these same eggs. I am tilting one egg, flat side up:

eggs close up

Poke the flat side of each egg with a pushpin. Two illustrations follow. The first is an illustration I copied from Kitchen Science, where the hashed lined represent the air sac between the egg white/yolk and the egg shell:

poking an egg

This next illustration is me poking the egg with a pushpin:

push pinPoked hole:

hole in egg

Step 3. Gently lower each egg in the boiling water and watch for bubbles coming out of the egg. If air bubbles rather than egg white comes out, you have chosen the correct end. If egg white comes out, quickly remove the egg and save it for a different use.

lowering eggAs careful as I was to remove the eggs from the carton properly and poke what looked like the flatter end, one of the eggs had been put in the carton upside down was thus in the wrong orientation (the upper left egg in the pattern of six). Instead of bubbles, white goo came out when I lowered it into the boiIing water. I removed it immediately. Here is the gooey egg white coming out of the hole in the upper left egg:

egg leaking

Step 4: As soon as all the eggs are in the water, set your timer! Kitchen Science says to boil the eggs 12 to 15 minutes if you are at sea level; boiling them longer can make them turn dark green around the edges of the egg yolk.

I have always boiled eggs 20 minutes, but my kitchen is at 5300 feet. Is 20 minutes really the proper time I should use? I will do a little experiment today, and cook 3 of the eggs for 15 minutes, and 3 of the eggs for 20 minutes.

I measured the temperature of the boiling water, and it was 202˚ F.

Step 5: When your timer dings, remove the pot from the stove and immediately place the eggs in cold water to stop the cooking.

Kitchen Science says it is easier to peel the eggs when hot. So, after 5 minutes in cool water, I removed them and peeled them. And yes, the shells came off easily.

I cut each of the 6 eggs in half. In the photo below, the 15-minute eggs are on the top of the plate, and the 20-minute eggs are on the bottom.

eggs cookedConclusion: In my opinion, the 15-minute eggs were a bit undercooked. Here is a close-up, with a 15-minute egg on the left, and a 20-minute egg on the right:

eggs cooked closeupNeither has a dark green discoloration on the sides of the yolk.

So, the 20 minutes I have always used is the best time to hard boil eggs at my altitude. Maybe I did this experiment years ago, when I first got this book. But it totally makes sense that it will take longer to hard boil eggs if my boiling water is 202˚ F instead of the sea level standard 212˚ F.

It was getting to be lunch time, and I couldn’t resist putting a little salt on an egg and scarfing it up. So good! I made deviled eggs from the rest (added a little mustard and mayonnaise to the yolks, topped with a bit of paprika). We both love deviled eggs. They were gone early the next day.

Simple hard boiled eggs. A good lesson in science, and a good thing to eat.