Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

Look Out!  These recipes are for White Food.

Lafcadio Hearn House in New Orleans.

Lafcadio Hearn House in New Orleans.

Made of potato, coconut, cream, egg whites, milk, sugar and almonds, these concoctions suggest the type of bland, colorless food that the No White Food  blog plans to avoid.

But these delicacies are something special —  collected and transcribed by the writer-adventurer Lafcadio Hearn who lived in New Orleans from about 1877 to 1890 and wrote for several newspapers.

The recipes are transcribed just as he wrote them, with unusual spelling and style.  You won’t find precise measurements or involved processes here.

My particular favorite is the recipe for Syllabub, a beverage used as a restorative after illness or fatigue.  Apparently Hearn’s landlady would cosset him with a nourishing syllabub when he was under the weather.

Historic plaque for Lafcadio Hearn house in New Orleans.

Historic plaque for Lafcadio Hearn house in New Orleans.

Potato Puffs

Very nice potato puffs may be made by mashing seven or eight potatoes smoothly, and mixing in with them two well beaten eggs, two tablesspoonfuls of melted butter, also well-beaten, and a cup of milk.  Pour it into a pan and bake in a hot stove.

Potato Croquets

Take 6 boiled potatoes – cold mashed potatoes will do – add three tbsp of grated ham, a little pepper, salt and chopped parsley, also, the yolks of three eggs; form into balls, dip in egg and roll in bread crubs; fry in hot lard; garnish with parsley.

 Custard Coconut Pudding

Grate one cocoanut…take a quart of milk, four eggs, and a cup of sugar.  Beat sugar and eggs light, then stir in the milk, and last the cocoanut and such flavoring as you may prefer.  Pour this into a deep pan lined with paste; put fancy strips of paste across it and bake lightly.  (Note, “paste” in this context is pie pastry.)

Blanched Almonds

Pour boiling water on them and let remain in it a few minutes.  Remove the skins, throw the almonds into cold water, drain them from the water, but do not wipe them. Let dry and store or use in other recipes.

Coconut Candy

Four cups of water, 2 -1/2 c. fine white sugar, four spoonfuls of vinegar, and a piece of butter as large as an egg; boil till thick, or about 3/4 hour.  Just before removing stir in one cup of desiccated coconut, and lay in small, flat cakes on buttered plates, to cool and harden.

Inventing New Orleans, by Lafcadio Hearn. Book Cover.

Inventing New Orleans, by Lafcadio Hearn. Book Cover.


Take the juice of a large lemon, and the yellow rind pared thin; one glass of brandy, two glasses of white wine, and a quarter of a pound of powdered sugar.  Put these ingredients into a pan and let them remain one night; the next day add a pint of thick cream, and the whites of two eggs beaten together; beat them all together to a fine froth, and serve in jelly glasses.

Source:  La Cuisine Creole, Lafcadio Hearn’s Creole Cook Book. Pelican Pulishing Co,  Gretna, Louisiana. 1990

Beans, tomatoes and celery soup in a spoon and bowl.

Fasolatha Soup.




Fasolatha  is a  hearty Greek Soup  originally conveyed to me by Michigan Schlief and adapted by science writer Sean Markey in November, 2012.

First:  Chop holy trinity of flavor – celery, carrot, onion – 3 of each in small dice.

Second:  Place the chopped vegetables in a wok or soup pot, with 2- 3 tbsp olive oil.  Heat and saute. Season with salt and pepper.

Third:  Add a quart bag of  frozen tomatoes from last summer’s garden or a home-canned jar of whole tomatoes, or, if you must, a can of commercially canned tomatoes.  Add 2 cups stock.  Cook.  Add 2 small cans of cannellini  — white kidney beans which have been rinsed first.

Fourth:  Top with chopped parsley.  Season and serve.

This is a soup that will nourish, heal and enliven the troops.

Cucina Rustica

Abundance of fresh tomatoes.

Abundance of fresh tomatoes.

When I miss Italy — and anyone who’s lived there or eaten at the family table during a visit —  will miss Italy, then this is the kind of food  I create.  Simple, fast and marvelously flavored.  Don’t compromise on the ingredients.  That means : no industrial tomatoes that lack flavor, fresh mozzarella that comes in its liquid, not a plastic shroud, and fresh fish.

Excerpts from Cucina Rustica, by Viana La Place & Evan Kleiman , Wm Morrow & Co.,1990.

Bruschetta al Pomodoro e Rucola

Grilled Country Bread with Tomatoes and Arugula, Serves 4 to 6

All over Italy, grilled country bread topped with a mixture of chopped tomatoes and arugula is the most commonly served type of bruschetta. However, we strongly associate this antipasto with Rome during summer, when Bruschetta al Pomodoro e Rucola can make a meal, served with a firm, fresh piece of mozzarella di bufala.

3 large red, ripe tomatoes, blossom ends removed, diced

2 small bunches arugula, stems removed, coarsely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 thick slices good-quality country bread

2 garlic cloves, peeled

Extra-virgin olive oil

In a small bowl gently mix together the tomatoes and arugula. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Grill or lightly toast bread. Rub with garlic cloves. Spoon tomato-arugula mixture over each slice of bread. Generously drizzle olive oil over the Bruschetta.

Pasta con Tonno alla Siciliana

Pasta with Fresh Tuna and Mint, Serves 4 to 6

A variation on a Sicilian dish in which a chunk of fresh tuna is stuffed with mint and garlic and braised in tomato sauce. In our recipe the tuna is diced and quickly sautéed, then added to the sauce to finish cooking. Paper-thin slices of garlic and chopped fresh mint are added at the last moment and cooked very briefly so that their flavors stay strong and bright.

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 large onion, peeled and cut into medium dice

2-1/2 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped

1 pound fresh tuna, cut into 1/2-inch-thick-steaks

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 pound imported conchiglie rigate

Place 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and the onion in a large sauté pan. Cook over low heat until the onion is tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat, partly covered, until juices thicken and a sauce forms, about 15 minutes.

Cut the tuna into 1/2-inch dice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a separate medium-sized skillet. Turn up heat to medium, add tuna, and toss until tuna is cooked on the surface but still pink at the center.

When the sauce has thickened, add the tuna, mint, and garlic, and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until tuna is just cooked.

Cook the conchiglie rigate in abundant salted boiling water until al dente. Drain the pasta well. Place in a serving bowl. Add the sauce and toss gently. Serve immediately.

Blueberry Walnut Tart

can of blueberry pie filling

Comstock Blueberry Pie Filling

Blueberry Walnut Tart

This recipe was given to me in Shanghai by Emma B., a delightful hostess and inventive, accomplished chef.

Tart Shells:

1- 1/2 c. flour

1/2 c. walnuts, finely chopped

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. coconut

1/2 c. butter

Mix all ingredients.  Set aside 1/2 cup of the mixture to be used for topping.  Press the mixture to the bottom and side of individual tart molds.  Bake tart shells at 375 degrees F. for 10 minutes


1 8oz. package of cream cheese

1 egg

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 can of prepared blueberry pie filling

Beat the cream cheese until puffy, add the egg, sugar and vanilla and beat until well mixed.  Spoon filling gently into each baked tart shell.  Place tart molds on a cookie sheet and cook in oven for another 8 minutes.

Top with blueberry pie filling and the sprinkle on the remainder of the tart shell mixture.  Bake another 10 minutes.

Makes 12 to 20 individual tarts, depending on size.

Hot Cherry Pie      from a chill cook who runs on a flash red Ducati.

During the coast to coast walk across France, I could eat dessert with every meal. And for breakfast.  The story of my solo trek and the meals I enjoyed in the Pyrenees region is between covers now and includes recipes.  Kindle version is also available.  

Crème Catalan

4 egg yolks

4 tbsp granulated sugar

2 tbsp flour

4 cups milk

half a stick of cinnamon

fresh lemon rind, grated

1/4 cup superfine granulated or caster sugar for caramelized topping

4 ceramic ramekins or a shallow ceramic serving dish

Beat the egg yolks in a bowl with the granulated sugar.  In a shallow bowl, mix the flour with a little milk to make a paste.  Pour remaining milk into a saucepan, add the cinnamon stick and grated lemon rind and bring to a boil, then remove the pan from heat and let the perfumed milk cool.  Strain the perfumed milk onto the paste mixture in a non-reactive sauce pan (stainless steel, glass or enamel) and heat gently, stirring constantly.  The mixture should thicken and when it comes to a boil, pour the crème (custard) into a shallow oven proof dish or into small ceramic serving dishes.  Just before serving, sprinkle the top of the custard with superfine sugar and gently burn the surface with a chef’s torch if you have one, or pass the ramekins under the broiler for a few seconds until the top of the custard is browned and sealed with the sugar.

My Quest for Pel’meni

Pel’meni – Siberian Meat Dumplings – hail from the frozen reaches of the Russian Far East. The dumplings are of Mongolian origin and the word Pel’meni is always plural, I was told by Russians.  Apparently you can neither make nor eat just one..

Pel’meni warm tummies all over Russia and the countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union. It could be Russia’s answer to fast food — filling and ready to eat, assuming you have a supply of pre-made Pel’meni in the freezer or a local restaurant specializing in dumplings.

Pel’meni are food for the masses, but not mass-produced.  Workers chow down at pelmennaya (pel’meni restaurants) but the dumplings are still made by hand.  I haven’t yet seen canned pel’meni by Chef Boyar. The boyars were the landed gentry class during Moscow’s formative years, some centuries ago.

In permafrost regions, pel’meni were made in quantity, frozen and stored outdoors in sacks slung high away from dogs or other scavengers. Then the dumplings were cooked as needed.  We can imitate those resourceful Siberian cooks by freezing the pel’meni on a tray and putting them in re-sealing freezer containers to be cooked later.

Pel’meni can also be prepared and served immediately, but purists insist that pel’meni should be frozen before cooking.

In the old days — and possibly in remote areas of Siberia today — cooks just took a frozen haunch of whatever mammal wandered into a trap and shaved or scraped off the meat needed for a batch of pel’meni.  The traditional horsemeat filling might be difficult to find, or stomach nowadays.  Modern Russians use ground beef, lamb and pork or mushrooms for the pel’meni filling.

My first taste of Pel’meni occurred in St. Petersburg.  Larissa Davidyuk, my Siberian-born hostess rolled, stuffed and folded a pel’meni mountain which three adults and a teenager leveled at dinner.  Later, I read of a 19th century banquet at Lopashov’s Tavern in Moscow where twelve people dined on 2,500 pel’meni.  [The Art of Russian Cuisine by Anne Volokh, Collier Books, 1983].

Larissa urged me to try other versions of pel’meni during my stay in Siberia, and compare them with hers.  Did I detect a hit of smugness in her smile?  With Larissa’s pel’meni as the benchmark, how could I find such steaming morsels of flavor again

Like its kitchen-kin, ravioli, the bite-sized dumplings are made of ground seasoned meat wrapped in soft dough.  They are cooked in boiling water or broth and served with butter, sour cream or vinegar.  Sometimes pel’meni are served in the broth under a baked crust.

Pel’meni shapes vary according to the cook’s preference and dexterity.  Basically a small circle of dough is folded over a dab of meat filling, the dough edges are sealed and the ends brought together to make a loop.


Larissa Davidyuk’s Pel’meni

Larissa was my hostess in Moscow.  A scientist, she was unemployed when I visited her in the mid-1990’s.  She wrote her recipe in longhand and my Russian teacher at Montgomery College translated.

Make an egg pasta dough: that was Larissa’s instruction for making the dough.  Since she did not write a dough recipe for me, I adapted this from Please to the Table by Anya von Bremzen & John Welchman, Workman Publishing, N.Y. 1990.

3 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

1 egg

1 cup cold water

Using a mixer with bread hooks or food processor, blend four and salt, add egg, then add water gradually until dough forms a ball.  Transfer to a floured surface and knead about 2 minutes until smooth.  Cover and let stand for 1/2 hour.

Larissa’s meat filling: Mix of 1/3 pound each ground lamb, beef and pork.  Mix with salt, pepper, 2 tbsp. finely chopped garlic and the 1/2 cup minced whites of scallions.

Roll out the dough appx. 1/8″ thick. Cut circles with a glass. Place small spoonful of filling on the dough. Fold over and pinch closed.  Bring ends together.

Boil water.  Cook the pel’meni in boiling water until they rise in the water, then 5-7 minutes more.  Serve with butter or sour cream. Serves 4.


Natalie’s Pel’meni in Taiga Manner

When I reached Siberia, I was eager to pursue the quest for pel’meni.  In Khabarovsk, a port on the Amur River bordering China, the hunt for ultimate pel’meni took me to Natalya Mamadzhanova, a spirited businesswoman who opened a homey little restaurant specializing in Russian traditional food called V/Gostiakh u Natali, “As Natalie’s Guest”.

Make a soft dough.  (see recipe above)

Make the filling:

To 1 pound of ground pork, add 1 large finely chopped onion and 6 chopped cloves of garlic.  Roll out dough to about 1/8″. Make the pel’meni by putting filling on a small circle of dough.  Fold dough over and seal.  Twist ends of half-circle around to form a ring.

Prepare the sauce:  Make a clear soup from meat bones. Put chopped onion, carrot, pepper, tomato and boiled paparnick (collard greens) in a soup kettle.  Cover vegetables with the hot bouillon.  Add sour cream, black pepper and Korean sauce (soy sauce).  Cook, covered, over warm heat, not boiling.

Meanwhile, cook the pel’meni in boiling salted water, about 8 minutes.  Put in a small serving dish and cover with the vegetable sauce.  Add garlic and warm dish on stove. Serves 4-6.


Intourist’s Pel’meni

In the cavarnous, heavily curtained dining rooms of what was once the Khabarovsk Intourist Hotel, pel’meni come to the table in a small ceramic pot which has been covered with a crust and baked.

Meat mixture:  1 lb ground beef, salt, 1 1/2 cups minced onion, fresh ground black pepper.  On a piece of dough the size of a half-dollar piece, place a small amount of meat mixture.  Fold the dough over and press the edges together. Pull the ends around to  make a halo effect around the top.  Cook in boiling water, 5 minutes. Place pel’meni in small serving crock.  Add meat broth. Cover dish with a round of dough and press dough into sides of serving crock.  Bake in oven. Serves 4.


Sveta Gridin’s Pel’meni

Sveta Gridin lives in Petropovlosk, the port city and capital of Kamchatka. A college student at the time I met her, she was maintaining a demanding course load while fulfilling the Russian woman’s traditional role of  devotion to family, household and spouse.  For her, pel’meni making is reserved for special occasions so I sampled Sveta’s pel’meni at a farewell party she gave for an American graduate student.  Her pel’meni are larger, more like meat dumplings and the cooking broth and vegetables form part of the meal.

Filling: grind together 1 to 1-1/2 lb meat, 4-5 small onions, and salt and pepper.

Dough: Mix 3 cups flour, 1 cup milk, 1/2 tsp salt, 3 eggs. Knead and refrigerate.  Roll into log 3/4″ thick and cut into 1/2″ slices.  Press or roll into circles 1 1/2″ diameter, 1/4″ thick.

Make the Pel’meni: Place small tsp of meat in center of each rolled dough circle.  Pinch closed.  Place on a floured cooking sheet.  Boil water with chopped carrot, cabbage, salt and bay leaf.  Remove vegetables with slotted spoon. Drop pel’meni into the boiling vegetable water and cook for 10 min.  Serve with butter.  The broth becomes the soup course and the vegetables are served on the side.

Back home, I researched pel’meni recipes in Russian cookbooks and I wanted to try the various recipes I’d collected in Russia.  The dough recipes were all more or less the same, no problem there.  I did chill the dough before rolling and cutting the pel’meni jackets.  For the filling, I mixed ¾ pound each ground beef and pork, two minced onions, salt, pepper and a dash of ground clove.

Labor intensive pel’meni shaping followed.  After a half-hour of nimble fingered filling, sealing and turning, I realized why all the cooks I’d seen making pel’meni were sitting down and working in teams.  Next time I convene a pel’meni party, I’ll invite the guests into the kitchen to cut dough and stuff.

Other resources:

Classic Russian Cooking, Elena Molokhovets’ A Gift to Young Housewives, Translated, introduced and annotated by Joyce Toomre, Indiana University Press, 1993.

Please to the Table, The Russian Cookbook, Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman, Workman Publishing, 1990.

The Art of Russian Cuisine, Anne Volokh with Mavis Manus.  Collier Books, 1983.

Iliana de la Vega’s Salsa Verde

From Oaxaca, Mexico, as interpreted by Judith S. Markey, during a July 2005 class with Chef de la Vega.

10 tomatillos, boiled whole for 3 minutes.  Take the husks off first. Drain after boiling.

(tomatillos are little green tomatoes with husks and sticky skin)

1 jalapeno pepper whole (throw into the boiling water with the tomatillos)

2 avacados, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 tsp sea salt

Handfull of cilantro (chop off and discard the main stems)

Throw all into a blender.  Blend until mixture is smooth.  Season with more salt or more cilantro, to taste.  Keeps 2 weeks fresh in fridge.  Or freeze in small containers.

Iliana de la Vega is now sharing her culinary skills and knowledge at the Culinary Institute of America.


Salmon grilled with Juniper, food and photo by LP O'Neil

Miso Pine Salmon



The original version of  this recipe appeared in Edible Ojai, Fall 2006 issue.  As all cooks do, I have modified it.

I first served it November 4, 2006 to honor adventure traveler Don Schlief who was heading out for several months in India.

The recipe was given by Kobun Chino Roshi, a Zen teacher and friend of the family at Blue Heron Ranch.

Here’s how I prepare this spectacularly simple delicious salmon.

Place in a large baking dish:

Fresh salmon — 2 or more pounds.

Score the skin side of the fish crosswise on a grid with cuts about 1/4 inch deep.

Mix and spread over the fish:

2 tbsp or more white/yellow miso paste mixed with a little water.

Turn fish skin side up and spread on more white/yellow miso paste.

Sprinkle with about 2 tbsp water and 2 tbsp rice vinegar (or white wine) over the fish.

Cut a fresh pine branch and place it on top of the fish.

Cook at 500 degrees F for about 15 min.  Monitor during cooking to prevent the pine branch from catching fire.  Remove pine before serving.


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