October 2, 2008: FINALLY! A photo of the dip. I took the picture with a holiday spread knife to remind you it’s not too soon to begin thinking about the appetizer party you want to plan for the holidays. This dip will be perfect for all things social from now through the holidays. And don’t forget the tailgating parties you’re doing right now.
As my trip to Hungary approaches, I’ve been thinking about the food I’ll be eating while I’m there. I’m sure of one thing — the fragrance of paprika will be wafting through the dining room of every restaurant I visit. Hungary is known for its paprika. The seasoning, ground from dried red peppers, is used in everything from gravy to soup to meat.
A few years ago, someone who was in a cooking class I was teaching, commented on the wonderful flavor paprika brought to a dish we were preparing. She had always believed that paprika was used only for brightening a platter of deviled eggs and had no flavor value whatsoever.
I gave that student a small jar of fresh Hungarian paprika to begin using in her own kitchen. She was amazed as she experimented with this wonderful spice.
I buy small quantities of sweet Hungarian paprika, usually purchasing it from a spice shop, such as Penzey’s or The Spice House. I store the paprika in a jar in my refrigerator to help preserve its freshness. When you open a jar of paprika, a warm aroma should meet your nostrils. It’s hard to describe the fragrance. It’s something like the smell of red peppers roasting in the oven. And you don’t need to be Hungarian to appreciate the flavor it brings to the foods it is sprinkled into.
Dilly of a Pickle Spread is a delicious addition to a tailgating party or any get-together with friends. It can be mixed up a day or two ahead — the flavor only gets better as it rests in the refrigerator. Del Monte and Gedney both make Garlic and Black Pepper pickles, which is what I like to use in this recipe.
P.S. A group of wine- and food-loving friends ate this spread away before I could get a good picture. With this bunch, I served the spread with a new cracker I discovered in the grocery store: Rye Triscuits with Caraway. Yum!
I’ll work to get a photo soon — another batch of Dilly of a Pickle Spread is in order.
Dilly of a Pickle Spread
8 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup chopped black pepper and garlic dill pickles
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
1 (2-ounce) jar chopped pimentos, drained and patted dry
In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and cottage cheese, beating on low speed with a hand-held electric mixer. Stir in chopped pickles, caraway seeds, dry mustard, paprika and pimentos, blending well.
Line a small bowl with plastic wrap, allowing enough for the plastic wrap to hang over the sides of the bowl. Pack the Spread into the bowl. Fold the plastic wrap over the top to seal it. Refrigerate at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight. To serve, uncover the spread and place the bowl, upside down, on serving platter. Remove bowl. Peel plastic wrap away from the mound of spread. Serve with chunks of rye bread or crackers and fresh vegetables.
Do you remember how a peanut butter sandwich always tasted better when your mom made it? Just a couple of slices of bread sandwiching peanut butter. I’d make my own sandwich and it just never tasted as good as the one mom made for me.
Well, that’s what happened with the beets I pickled yesterday. They taste fine, but just not the same as the beets my mom or my mother-in-law used to make. Since I didn’t have a recipe from my mother-in-law, I looked in my mom’s recipe file and found the one she must have used. Although she cheated just a bit and used beets in a can from the grocery store, I used the recipe for the brine she made.
The beets I cooked, peeled and heated in a brine were fresh from the farmers’ market. Just as I remembered from the time my mother-in-law showed me how to make pickled beets, my hands were stained a pretty shade of red by the time I was finished peeling the beets.
The rest was so easy. Boiling the brine for a few minutes, adding the beets and heating them in the brine and then, after they cooled, I put them in the refrigerator. These beets will not be preserved in sealed jars. They will stay refrigerated. This way, it will be very convenient for me to sneak in for a snack now and then. I’ll also serve them as a side salad, top green salads with them and make appetizers by spreading some seasoned cottage cheese on rye bread chunks and topping each one with a pickled beet.
This is the recipe my mom used with canned beets. My mother-in-law taught me how to prepare them using fresh beets.
Mom’s Pickled Beets
4 pounds fresh beets
3 cups thinly sliced onions
2 cups vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
Trim tops from beets, leaving about 2 inches of the stems attached. Cover the whole beets with water in a large pot. Boil until they are tender when a fork is poked into them. Drain the beets. Peel and remove the stems. Cut into chunks — a size that fits into the mouth without cutting it first. Set aside.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Decrease heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the prepared beets and heat through. Chill the beets in the juice. These will keep in a tightly covered glass bowl or jar for several weeks in the refrigerator.
Now, who wouldn’t perk up just a little bit at the thought of a thick, warm, satisfying chowder made with the last fresh corn of the season and red-skinned potatoes, straight from the earth?
As I was doing some recipe research on the internet a week or so ago, I came upon a recipe developed by Lorna Sass, cookbook author and expert on whole grains. It was a chowder made with fresh corn and potatoes and not one bit of cream. That’s right. The chowder is thickened with quinoa, that ancient grain that has caused a lot of excitement in home kitchens in the last few years. Although the grain has been grown in the Andes mountains for thousands of years, its health-promoting properties have not always been included in the American diet. It’s not only a whole grain, it’s a complete protein
I did follow this recipe just as Lorna Sass wrote it, so I will send you directly to the source of the recipe. Just click on the link I’ve provided right here and you will see the recipe.
I’ve been starting to panic when I go to my local farmers’ market lately. It scares me to see winter squash, cabbage and turnips. Those are sure signs that the fresh heirloom tomatoes I’ve been eating like apples will soon disappear until next summer. The fresh corn that I’ve been enjoying with butter dripping down my chin will soon be a memory. I’m in a frenzy trying to eat up as much of my favorite farm-fresh vegetables as I can, like a little chipmunk hoping to store the foods of summer in a little pouch to enjoy later.
This week Chef Chad Minor of Brainerd was at my local farmers’ market cooking up delicious dishes, using whatever was available at the market. A Bemidji chef and restaurant owner, Reed Olson, joined him. Reed, of Wild Hare Bistro and Coffeehouse and Chef Chad showed off their creative talents as they prepared Potato Salad with Apples, Wild Rice Stuffed Tomatoes, Garden Mashed Potatoes, Fried Tomatoes and a Roasted Root Vegetable Salad that’s pictured above. I arrived just in time for a taste of the salad. It was crunchy, fresh and delicious.
Chad gave me his permission to share his recipe for Roasted Root Vegetable Salad. He’s been traveling to farmers’ markets in the northern lakes area of Minnesota since the beginning of July. If you live in Detroit Lakes, Baxter, Brainerd, Grand Rapids, Park Rapids or Bemidji, you may have already seen him at work at your farmers’ market. If you’re lucky, he’ll be cooking at your market again before the season ends. Watch for him! In the meantime, scurry out to your garden or over to the farmers’ market to get everything you’ll need for this end-of-summer salad.
Roasted Root Vegetable Salad
2 medium-sized carrots (peeled and rough cut 1/2-inch pieces)
2 parsnips (peeled and rough cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
10 small red potatoes, quartered
2 red onions, cut into 1-inch squares
3 red peppers, quartered
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3/4 cup red wine vinaigrette (see recipe below)
Toss carrots, parsnips and potatoes with just enough olive oil to coat all of them in a large bowl. Spread on a large sheet pan. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Roast in a 425-degree oven for 15 to 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Cool and set aside. Repeat same process with onions and peppers, but roasting only for 5 to 10 minutes, or until tender. Place all cooled vegetables in large bowl. Toss with fresh herbs and vinaigrette. Enjoy. Serves 8 to 12.
Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
Whisk vinegar, oregano and sugar in small bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil until thickened.
Sometimes it’s surprising to find what a recipe box can hold. I was going through my mom’s recipes the other day. I remember telling her years ago that the only thing I wanted when she died was her recipe box. She’d always chuckle and say something like, "Oh, Sue, you sure don’t ask for much." And at that time, I didn’t think she’d ever really die. Well, she died 14 years ago and now I have all her recipes. Her recipe collection is a picture of organization. She worked as an office manager for many years, and her recipe box is an indication of her typing skills, for sure. There are no newspaper clippings taped onto recipe cards. Each recipe has been typed with her own hands onto recipe cards. I’m so glad she saved the cards from friends who had handwritten recipes that she asked for. Those are in the box just as they were written. I’m sure my mom was very tempted to type those, too. As I slowly flipped through the cookie section, I noticed several recipes from one of her best friends, Lois. She was apparently a great cookie maker. Lois lived right behind us as I was growing up. Her children were my playmates. Her husband was my dad’s best friend. I was with them last weekend. Lois didn’t make cookies, but she did make a delicious chocolate cake, from scratch, of course. I’m pretty sure I remember eating the oatmeal cookies Lois is famous for. My mom did type that recipe and in one corner she typed 1977. I remember my mom thinking that this recipe was really the cat’s meow. She could mix up the dough whenever she had some free time, roll it into long logs, and then store it in the refrigerator until she got around to slicing and baking them. I decided to make the Oatmeal Cookies from the recipe that Lois gave my mom and that my mom typed onto a file card. As I mixed the dough, I remembered my mom’s chuckle and I could see her hands holding her favorite wooden spoon, stirring up the dough. Of course, the logs had to be shaped just so, evenly proportioned from end to end. I remember she wrapped the logs of dough in waxed paper and then placed them on a small baking sheet to store them in the refrigerator. I did the same things. With the first bite of a baked Ice Box Oatmeal Cookie, I remembered sitting around the table at Lois’s house with mugs of hot chocolate and cookies after ice skating with the kids I grew up with. I could feel and smell the cool early autumn evenings when we’d all be out playing hide and seek in the dark and then go inside for cookies and hot chocolate. I could feel the cool grass as my body rolled down the hill that separated our house from the back neighbors. It seemed we could spend the longest time running up the hill and then rolling down again. All from a cookie baked from a recipe in mom’s recipe file. It really is amazing what you may find in a recipe box.
Lois’s Ice Box Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar (granulated sugar)
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups dry oatmeal (uncooked quick-cooking oats)
1 cup chopped nuts
Cream shortening and sugars. Add beaten eggs. Sift flour, salt and baking soda together. Stir into creamed mixture. Add oatmeal and mix well. Stir in chopped nuts. Roll dough into a few logs, each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs of dough in waxed paper. Chill in the refrigerator until you have time to bake them. Slice the logs into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Place on baking sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the baked cookies to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
I found that a long, sharp knife worked best for slicing the logs. A serrated knife pulled the dough and caused crumbling.