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Lemon Bars

I tried to be thrifty and fun this past weekend. Inspired by the snow falling and the lemons leftover from, dare I say, Christmas, I decided to revisit an old favorite: lemon bars. I had been reminded of them from a recipe post by Joy the Baker and it’s her classic lemon bars recipe I used.

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Of course I’d softened the unsalted butter before I realized there was no granulated sugar in the house. So these happened on Sunday instead.

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My son had never had them before this and declared he liked them. I honestly think he’d like almost anything with sugar in it. And my husband commented that he usually found lemon bars were too sweet and these were just right.

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Since I am still allowing myself the indulgence of white flour and white sugar only on weekends, I gobbled down at least two. I didn’t count but I ate them in halves. And yes, they were quite yummy with just the right amount of sweetness. A truly no fuss process even if I didn’t have a proper counter top baking mixer and only my hand mixer which goes from 0 to 9 with a twitch of your thumb. Mixed is mixed. 

Note to self, little boy doesn’t really want to help make them. He just wants to eat them. I’m hoping for Fiona as my little kitchen helper.

Salad For A Winter’s Day : Cannellini Bean and Tuna Salad

It was time again for my cannellini bean and tuna salad, the perfect salad for a Winter’s day. Oil packed tuna, tomato, celery heart, red onion, and calamata olives combine into a meaty refreshing satisfying salad with leftovers.

From Shalavee.com, Salad for a winter day : cannallini bean and tuna salad

The picture is deceiving. I didn’t leave any on the plate.

 

Tuna, celery, and bean salad

Insalata di Tonno, Sedano, e Fagioli

Serves 4

“Canned Italian tuna packed in olive oil can be very fine with a tender, moist texture and rich tuna flavor. The best brands come packed in glass jars and are often available in Italian grocery stores.” But the best you can afford in other words. “Tuna, beans, and red onion are a classic combination. Here, tender celery adds a bit of crunch.” The tomatoes and olives are my craved addition.

1 small can (14oz) petite diced tomatoes

2 ½ cups drained cooked or 19 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (6 ½ oz) tuna packed in olive oil, drained

2 – 3 tender (inner most)celery ribs, sliced with the leaves

½ small red onion, peeled and chopped

3 TB extra-virgin olive oil

1 to 2 TB fresh lemon juice

Freshly ground pepper

2 Tb chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)

½ cup diced Calamata olives

  1. In medium bowl, combine beans, tuna, celery, onions, tomatoes and olives.

    Take care not to over-toss the tuna as you’ll lose the chunks. Add that at the very last perhaps.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper to taste until well blended.

  3. Shred some Romaine lettuce (crunchy) and place tuna mixture atop and drizzle dressing over salad. Sprinkle with parsley or celery greens. I make homemade pita chips and they add that extra needed crunch.

If you feel a sense of deja vous, I originally published this last May. Bon Appetite.

Messy Potatoes

Otherwise known as scalloped potatoes or Gratin Dauphinoise, messy potatoes are my favorite ‘go to’ potatoes for a side with dinner.

I have a mandolin. It’s a vegetable cutting guillotine that’s perfect for slicing potatoes thinly. Unfortunately, and no surprise here, a plastic part exploded rendering the guide useless. So I am back to using my knife skills, which are pretty decent, while I decide the de Buyer’s fate. I suspect it was bought from Wiliiam-Sonoma. And I have issues with them. I have yet to write that story but it’s a doozy.

 

My recipe is a simpleton’s version. But let me first share the comment and recipe from the Gourmet Cookbook.

“The scalloped potato dish is part of our culinary repertoire, and we hope it will be become part of yours too. There is something about the texture of the potatoes surrounded by creamy goodness and topped by golden brown cheese that wows people. It is perfect for a buffet supper or potluck: in our experience, it is the first thing to disappear. The technique of starting the potatoes in a saucepan of half-and-half and ending them in a buttered gratin dish comes from masterful Jacques Pépin.”

Ironically, in the book written by Jacques and Julia, he went on about using chicken stock which his wife and daughter loved. So I tried it. And it sucked.

Here’s the recipe from the Gourmet magazine for

Gratin Daupin(oise)

2 1/2 pounds  boiling potatoes, such as Yukon Gold (I use Yukons too)

3 1/2 cups half-and-half

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3/4 cup coarsely grated Gruyère

Cut the potatoes, heat dairy product, add spices, add potatoes. All in pan, blah blah blah, 35 to 45 minutes in a 400° oven.

Here’s what I do differently. I use 2% milk, lots of butter, and sometimes I sauté onions first in my cast iron skillet before adding everything else, heating the milk and potatoes and butter with the potatoes and salt and nutmeg, and then throwing the whole thing in the oven to bake.There’s no separate buttered pan and there’s no loads of pepper and garlic. I do not add cheese to the top but sometimes paprika.

  And when the milk is gone and the top is brown, it’s done

And the reason they’re called messy potatoes at our house is because the skillet is trashed and usually “soaks” in the sink for two days before someone is brave enough to clean it.  Enjoy this veggies eaters and meat eaters alike.

Love,

Shalagh

 

 

HomemadeTacos

My family moved to the East Coast from the West Coast.  And with them, they brought a love for some traditional foods they knew they were leaving behind. Tacos have the pride of place. We always made tacos for special visitor dinners.

Supplies include:

Masa Harina, the ground corn flour with only water added to make the dough

Water

Waxed paper squares

Tortilla press, which I bought at an Hispanic grocery store for $10

Rolling pin

One hot griddle and one hot oil filled skillet

salt and a paper towel lined something to place the treasures on.

What follows is a finessing of dough and wax paper and skillets that creates the most meaty/crispy dough combination making an instant addict of you. Fill that shell then with perfectly seasoned beef or pork or chicken, and top it with lettuce, salsa fresco, cheese, avocado, green onions, and hot sauce, and you will eat tacos until you are sick.

We recently rediscovered our favorite  hot sauce here on the Eastern Shore. Chesapeake Bay Old Style  Caribbean Hot Sauce is smokey and is being sold by Gourmet By the Bay at the Easton Market Square.

However, as of yet, I’ve not found any establishment here creating, in the manner to which I have grown accustomed, these deep fried treasures I crave .  So I guess I’ll keep asking my husband to go pull the batteries out of the smoke detector at the top of the stairs  and I’ll keep on making them myself.

Mountain Climbing Cook

I am as stoic as the next gal. I know regular aches are the price to pay for exercise. And recognize scarier pains as warnings to make an appointment with a professional. I also know I am a very good cook. I glide around the kitchen preparing a several course meal while making it look far too easy.

So when my morning sickness took hold of me hard, I was slightly taken for a loop. Whereas with a flu, there a promise of redemption from the pukey feeling in 48 hours, morning sickness may last all day for as many days as the pregnancy lasts. Yet I know this is the price I’m paying for my deepest wish and prayer coming true. Endure it I must.

I was making breakfast several weeks ago, when I had to leave the hot pans on the stove, go throw up, and return to finish cooking. That was the only actual puke I’ve had but it brought these thoughts to me.

My usual cooking is a walk in the park; pleasant and satisfying and I get a little exercise and then a shower. Pregnant cooking is like climbing a steep ugly hill. I look up at the hill and know the journey’s going to suck. And consider if the climb is really worth it.

In my case, I can not afford nor would I want to eat out constantly. So I think of cooking as something I must endure to the end and with an alto brief enjoyment of the meal and the leftovers. I am sure that enduring chronic pain and discomfort of any degree is something we will all experiences at some point in our human existence. Mind over matter means we ask ourselves to endure for the greater good.

Eventually, we will need to put up with ourselves and soldier on headed for the ultimate benefit of what we’re after. Whether that ultimate goal is chicken tacos, a day hike up some cliffs to view the ocean from up high, or time spent with a grandchild playing a game that challenges our arthritic fingers, sometimes we have to see beyond the discomfort of now for the benefit of the future. And possibly have a good self-pity cry in the kitchen between tasks. Or was that just me?

 

 

 

 

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