Old Recipes

 

From time to time, for as long as my emotional stamina can handle it, I go through boxes of stuff left over from my parents, primarily my mother. Such was the case this morning.

I found an old Sunset cookbook I’d given her years ago when I first moved to California. She had transformed a hardback book one-inch thick to an eight-inch thick scrapbook of old recipes from people from churches where my dad had been the pastor, from other relatives and especially from my grandmother, who had also gleaned recipes from parishioners in my grandfather’s churches. They were scribbled on the back of old bulletins, on the side of business cards, on napkins, on whatever was at hand.

In this cook/scrapbook I found love notes from my father to her, handmade cards to them from my brother and me when we were children, clippings from newspapers telling about all of our accomplishments, and so much more.

I was surprised at the number of recipes for making your own sweetened condensed milk, for example, or making your own sour cream to stretch dollars at the store. On reflection, I realize these ideas came from World War II and before that, the Great Depression. She also kept labels from products that she used regularly, but that may no longer be in existence today.

Mother and Daddy were in the process of trying to put together a cookbook, using many of these recipes. I started thinking what fun they would have had writing a blog if they’d had access to something like the internet.

I may try a few of these recipes and let you know how they turn out.

A hui hou!

Baked Crab Cakes with Chipotle Mayo

 

I remember sitting on a dock with a crab net dangling over the side, waiting for the Blue crabs of Mississippi to climb in. After picking out the good crab meat, we would make up a concoction much like the following recipe for crab cakes. This would be stuffed in the cleaned out shell. A little corn meal was sprinkled over the top, then baked until golden brownish, producing a “deviled crab” that was good enough to make your mama say “howdy.”

And I remember driving down a road covered in potholes when I lived on Kodiak Island in Alaska, the back of my station wagon loaded with twenty-five live King Crabs. The (now) amusing story of my lesson on how to pick up a live King crab is too long to tell here.

I also remember eating many Blue crab cakes when I lived in New England, and cups of Dungeness crab walking along Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. You might say I love eating crab. So when I saw a 16-ounce pot of crab at Costco this past week, I couldn’t resist. Below is my version of crab cakes.

Ready for the oven
Ready for the oven

 

1 pound crab meat
¼ cup bread crumbs
1 large egg
1 large clove garlic, minced
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced onion
2 teaspoons ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground red pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Combine all ingredients and form into patties. Roll these in a combination of fine dry bread crumbs and corneal. Place on pan covered with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. This recipe makes 12 delicious cakes. I served three of these cakes to a friend with two poached eggs, coffee and juice, and a healthy dollop of chipotle mayonnaise (see NOTE below).

 

NOTE: Mine took longer than 10-15 minutes, but I think I needed to put them higher in the oven, or under a broiler for the last few minutes. I also would make the cakes a little flatter next time. These crab cakes can also be pan fried. The chipotle mayo is made with a cup of mayonnaise mixed with 2 canned chipotle peppers that have been finely chopped. This can be kept in the fridge for a week and adds wonderfully serious heat to the crab cakes.

A hui hou!

Slow Cooker Chicken Mole

 

Chicken Mole (moh-lay) may be an acquired taste for some, but I have loved it from the moment I first tasted it eons ago. Making the sauce from scratch can be quite a process, starting off by boiling a chicken (preserving the broth), then getting the meat off the bones.

After that, you mix the broth with a combination of peanut butter, chili powder, cumin, garlic, and other ingredients, depending on the recipe you find.

My friend Evie who runs El Pachuco gave me a faster recipe that uses a jar of Mole base (like Doña Maria). She boils her chicken and strains the broth. According to her recipe, she slowly adds the broth to the Mole base in a pan, creating a smooth sauce.

She says that at this point, you can add chocolate, chilis, peanut butter, almond paste, wherever your taste takes you. Let this simmer until a thicker gravy develops. Add the chicken and serve with Spanish rice, and tortillas (either corn or flour).

This still seemed like too much trouble for me. I wanted something I could allow to cook while I went off to teach for the day.

In a blender, I combined 2 cans fat-free chicken broth with a jar of Mole base. I poured the whole lot over about six large chicken tenders in a slow cooker, added 2 cloves of slivered garlic, about 2 tablespoons of wild rice, a heaping tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, and some crunchy peanut butter. I let this combination cook on slow all day.

When I got home, the Mole was ready and the consistency was just right. I served it with corn tortillas and black beans. A dollop of sour cream goes well with this. Add a few sprinkles of fresh cilantro out of your garden.

 

These shots of Chicken Mole were made a couple days after the original batch was made. I added the leftover black beans to the sauce, cooked up two more chicken tenders in a pan and added the sauce to it. I froze the rest of the sauce for another time. Easy!

Hasta luego!

Pork Tenderloin

 

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Slow roasting is the way to go.

To help with clean-up, line a roasting pan with aluminum foil and lightly coast with pan spray. Using whatever fresh veggies you have available, prepare a bed for your tenderloin. Here, I used bell peppers, celery, fingerling potatoes, and carrots.

Place the tenderloin on this comfy bed, surround it with large onion slices or halves. Sprinkle the top with rosemary sprigs, chopped basil, and whatever other herbs you have. Salt and pepper to taste. I like to tuck in a few slices of garlic clove.

Roast until internal temperature is 150-155 F. If you can, let it rest about 5-10 minutes before slicing.

It’s simple! It’s delicious! It’s elegant!

A hui hou!

Chipotle Shrimp Chowder

 

I suspect I’m like most cooks. When I see a recipe that looks good, I copy it to try later with my own substitutions or additions. I subscribe to many (too many) cooking blogs where I drool and gather ideas.

One blog that I particularly enjoy includes recipes from everyone in the family. When I saw this on their blog recently, I knew I had to make it. Here is my rendition of their recipe.

Chipotle Shrimp Chowder

 

In a large heavy pan, I sautéed ½ rasher of thick-sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces.

Once lightly browned, I added 1 cup of diced onion and 3 diced cloves of garlic.

After this had browned 1-2 minutes, I added 2 tablespoons flour.

Their recipe called for ¼ cup sherry to deglaze the pan, but I rarely cook with any kind of alcohol and don’t keep any on hand. I used ½ cup cranberry juice, which I always do have handy.

I added:
2 cans fat free chicken broth
2 cans of whole kernel corn, drained
2 cups diced potatoes – I used a mix of fingerlings and reds
2 cups milk – I used nonfat that I always have on hand
2 canned chipotle peppers, diced, plus a bit of the adobo sauce to taste

I let this simmer on low for about 20-30 minutes, then added 1 pound of shrimp and ½ cup half & half cream.

Note: The shrimp I used were Kirkland brand (Costco), 31-40 per pound, peeled and deveined. The tails were still on, so I thawed the shrimp just enough to slip off the tails before adding to the chowder. Also, be sure to chop the chipotle peppers into very small pieces, unless you don’t mind getting a big chunk of hot pepper in your mouth. I imagine this would be delicious using a variety of fish, clams, shrimp, and other seafoods.

Thanks to the folks at Food o’ del Mundo for this recipe. It’s one I’ll make often!

A hui hou!

Shrimp Creole

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My accumulation of cookbooks started early, and I’m sure that is true of most cooks. One of my favorite cookbooks dates back to when I was a girl traveling in New Orleans with my parents. One that I didn’t mention in my post about my cookbook addiction is New Orleans Creole Recipes, by Mary Moore Bremer. It was first published in 1932. If you are interested in a copy, you can click on the picture above and order one.

I’ve used her recipe for Shrimp Creole with variations ever since I was a new young wife living in Mississippi. I like the way she gives her recipes in narrative form and I’ve always tended to do that, as well. What follows is my own version that I’ve developed over the years.

First, you make a good, rich roux, using one large tablespoon of lard and one of flour. Lard is actually less toxic than margarine or shortening.

Then you chop up two onions, two cloves of garlic, one large bell pepper, two teaspoons of parsley. Add all of that to the roux and stir until the onion browns slightly, then add a large can of tomatoes. I add a small can of tomato paste and an equal can of water.

Season with ½ teaspoon red pepper, salt, bay leaves, 1/3 teaspoon celery seeds and ¼ teaspoon powdered thyme.

You can either add two pounds of raw, shelled shrimp, or several cans of shrimp if fresh is not available to you.

Cover and let it cook slowly for an hour in an old-fashioned iron heavy Dutch oven. Any heavy pot will do. If you are using canned shrimp, you don’t have to cook it as long, and you would add the shrimp at the end, just long enough to get them hot.

Half an hour before serving, add two teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce. Serve over brown rice for a healthy meal.

I usually make a big loaf of sour dough bread to share. Add a salad and it makes a total meal, fit for any company.

A hui hou!

Spaghetti Squash

 

I’m trying to keep calories and carbs low, but I get starved for a good Italian marinara. One of the best solutions I know is to use spaghetti squash. You might have seen it in the store, but you weren’t quite sure what to do with it. If you’ve never tried it, you’re in for a treat.

I get two to four meals out of a squash, depending on the size. Cut it in half first, then if it’s a large squash, into quarters. Scoop out the seeds first, or you’ll be sorry! Trying to pick them out of the squash when it’s cooked is not something you would want to do twice! Yeah, I did it once by mistake!

Once the seeds are out, place the cut side down in a glass dish with a little water (about ½ inch) in the dish. Some might bake it in the oven, but I find the easiest way to prepare it is to cover it with plastic wrap (punch a couple holes in it) and nuke it for 8-10 minutes. You might want to check it because time depends on the size of the piece.

In the meantime, open a jar of the best marinara you can buy and heat it, or make your own if you have time and prefer your own. I’m usually in too much of a hurry!

When the squash is done, hold it carefully with a good potholder, because it’s HOT. With a fork, scrape out the insides. If you’ve never done this before, you’ll be amazed at the spaghetti-like strands coming out. Keep scraping until you get all you can out of it.

Cut up the rind and put in your compost or feed to your chickens!

Pour the hot marinara over it, mix slightly, and eat! Sometimes I skip the marinara and use a lot of freshly shredded Romano Pecarino. It’s absolutely delicious – and light on calories! Experiment with spaghetti squash and let me know what you create.

A hui hou!