Wednesday, September 14, 2016

About Preserved Meats

Where I do not have good refrigeration at present, I have been eating a lot of preserved meats.  We all remember Vienna sausages, Deviled Ham and Chicken.  There are a number of alternatives available including potted Corned Beef.
These and other canned meats(and fish) are excellent substitutes for fresh meat if, as I am now, it is distant from grocers or if there is limited refrigeration.  Where I am, the list includes Salsiccia Piccante(Pepperoni), Salamis in bewildering array and a number of salted, dried and smoked meats.   These are good until you cut into them, then they should be chilled.  In my case I often have to opt for ice chests for these, and locals often get away with hanging the sausages, even cut, in a cool dark room.  I suppose if you cover them with a cheese cloth to keep pests off, you may get away with it.  After all, it was done for centuries before the refrigerator was invented.
But you must avoid salting your food in any way when you are using these.  This is especially true if you are prone to hypertension.  The salt content is very high.
The other drawback is calories.   These meats tend to be high in fat as well, and you really should not be eating a meal that has more than 30 percent of calories from fat.
The idea then is to find some way to serve these with low fat and salt accompaniments.
Crackers are available without extra salt, but still, the calories are there and sometimes fat.
Some breads are fairly low in salt and fat, and the bread you make yourself can be made that way.

My thought for this post is however, to try something completely different.

Slice cucumbers, top with a dollop or piped mound of the meat, then top that with a black olive or a cherry tomato and or bell pepper.
Use cherry peppers by cutting the tops off and piping the meat or chunk of meat inside.
Stuff them with water, wine or balsamic vinegar dampened bread crumbs with a bit of meat inside.
Hollow out cherry tomatoes and fill.
Roasted pepper sheets rolled up around the meat is a good choice.  If you have a long roll, slice them into chunks.
If you are going to serve something in say an hour, you can freeze chunks of the potted meats in a shape that can be put into a vegetable, then stuff or wrap them up much more easily.
Hollow half a cucumber or split a long thin pepper, a spear of celery or tomato, stuff, chill and slice to make canapes or a lunch entree.
Sliced fruits make a good vehicle for many of the meats that might ordinarily appear on, pear, peach halves will all work well.  You could even stuff canned pears or peaches.

The way around calories, fat and salt is often just a little creativity.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Mary Burrill's Baked Doughnuts

Boil a scant cup of potato in plain water, mash smoothly as possible and reserve 1/4 cup water.
Scald 1 cup of milk, and melt 3/4 cup shortening, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon salt
Dissolve one Tablespoon of yeast in the warm potato water.  Allow to proof.
Combine all ingredients and add two beaten eggs.
(I add 1/2 t mace, nutmeg or cinnamon and 1 t vanilla, but the old recipe does not call for it.)
Add a cup of flour and beat till smooth.
Add more flour until you approach 3 1/2 additional cups maximum, beating it in and later kneading it in.  Use as little flour as possible to be able to handle the dough.
Knead the dough well...10 to 20 minutes.
Place in a covered bowl and allow to rise till at least double.

Roll to 1 inch thick and cut in rounds or doughnuts.
Place on buttered baking sheets not touching.
Allow to rise till double again.
Bake at 425 F till delicately brown...less than 12 minutes, but keep checking.  You know raised doughnut color!
Brush the doughnuts with melted butter and roll in sugar(I mix mace, nutmeg or other spice into the sugar.)

My sister has had this recipe for almost 50 years and this is the first time we tried it, just before I left for overseas.  They are ABSOLUTELY DIVINE!!!
Makes 2 dozen depending on your cutter, and they last well, covered for three days.  Try filling them with sweetened Moscarpone(or mixed with cocoa or liquor), jelly, pudding, lemon curd or cannoli filling.  You could also split them and fill them with VERY SOFT cream cheese mixed with maraschino cherries, whole berries, sweet ham/prosciutto or jams to make sweet sandwiches for a party or shower.  Vary the spices or omit depending on what you are filling them with.
Sorry I do not have a picture.  They are difficult to upload here and also...they were eaten too fast...light as air and a lovely taste.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 large eggs (not extra-large)
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped (or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 cup grated gruyere cheese, I think Trader Joe's is a great value
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
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  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: about 30 gougères
Preheat oven to 425. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, bring the butter, water, and wine to a boil. Remove saucepan from heat. Add the flour, pepper, and salt, and stir to blend smoothly. Reheat pan over medium heat, and stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball, about 1 minute.
Transfer mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer, and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes.
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Add the first egg and beat until fully incorporated.Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then repeat the process with 3 remaining eggs (it is important for each egg to be fully incorporated before the next is added). Add the cheese and thyme, then stir or beat at a low speed to combine.
Many recipes suggest using a pastry bag to make the puffs, but I find that it’s much easier to use a small spoon and my fingers to shape the gougères (the pastry bag is troublesome because the dough is so sticky). Create 1 inch rounds on prepared sheets, about 2 inches apart.Don’t worry about the shape at this point, just try to make them roughly the same size and don’t crowd them (if you need a third baking sheet, so be it).
Beat remaining egg with 1 teaspoon of water and brush over puffs, using the basting brush to perfect the shape of the gougères. Sprinkle each puff with parmesan, a pinch of sea salt, and a grind of black pepper.
Bake the gougères at 425 F for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 375 and bake for another 15-25 minutes, until the gougères are puffed, golden, and crisp-dry at the edges.
Serve warm or at room temperature, with another sprinkle of salt just before serving.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Very Easy Tart Pastry

1 1/3 cups flour
5 T sugar
1/2 t salt
Stir together with
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted,
press into tart pan, bake at 350 blind till brown or fill after partially baked and bake again.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Also, I have tons of recipes from sources that I cannot republish, so if you need a recipe, do not hesitate to ask me by email.

Temporary table of contents

You can browse through the blog by simply going to the bottom of each page and clicking on OLDER POSTS. If you want to find something specific follow the instructions below.

Until I get things in a more concrete format, I am giving you an easy way to find recipes you might like. The format of the blog makes it difficult to do this any other way except by date. So, you will find general photos and posts at the very beginning. These include links to other blogs family photos and statements about the blog.

On the right side find the Blog Archive below my picture.

Click on 2008 to find recipes from outside the family or food related stories.

On the same part of the page, you will have a 2009 list of past posts by year and month. Click on that 2009 to reveal the months of the year. Click on them to find the recipes in the following categories:

January: Side Dishes/Contorni/Potato
February: Alcohol/Alcole
March: Desserts/Dolci
April: Fish/Pesce
May: Chicken/Pollo
June: Meats/carne
July: Pasta and Sauces/Pasta e Salsa
August: Bread, Pizza and related/Pane, Pizze et altri
September: Salads, Vegetables, Appetizers and Soups/Insalata, Antipasti e Minestre
October: weight measure and temperature conversions

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Desperate Attempt to Lose Weight or at Least Be Healthier

I decided that it was time I took the bull by the horns.  My partner and now husband of 13 years has cancer....a particularly painful form.  I am basically the sole caregiver, though we have Hospice and his nephews are helping out.  My nerves are shot, and I have been eating to make up for all that John is NOT eating.  I cannot envision a life without John.  But you did not start reading this to hear about my troubles.

I thought that I had better get back on track with a Mediterranean diet.  Also, I expect to be on a more restricted diet...budget-wise, so I limited myself to $50.00 for a week.  I could easily have dropped this down to half that as it turns out.

The Mediterranean diet is fairly easy and not TERRIBLY expensive with a couple of exceptions.  I figured that this would be a good trial run, as I hope to retire to Italy, and guess what they eat there!?

Fruits and vegetables, pasta(whole wheat would be good though not necessarily traditional), legumes, fish, garlic and olive oil are hallmarks of the diet there.  Protein, other than the fish, comes from eggs and tiny amounts of meat, used more as a flavoring than as a slab of flesh.  A glaring exception to this rule is the Chianina beef steaks.  They are a T-bone...of course there are other cuts.. which is cut like 3 inches thick...barely heated through over a bed of coals, and served sliced from flat side to flat side about 3/4 of an inch thick.  Absolutely a luxury dish in Tuscany.

I bought:

1 can of Chick peas(dried beans and peas are cheaper by far, but I do not have the time this week to deal with be honest, I do not know what I would do with a whole pot of these.. I have enough trouble getting through a can on my own unless I am making soup.).
1 can of white Cannelini beans
2 Red Bell Peppers (I had a small bag of mini peppers in the refrigerator)
Small Potatoes about 20 red skin minis.
4 apples
Half a pound of Prosciutto Crudo
1 pound of frozen bay scallops
2 fillets of sole
6 sweet sausages
2 baby zucchini
1 dozen eggs
1 bunch of Asparagus
1 bottle of capers in brine(dry salted are better, but not as easily available)
1/2 pound of mixed olives
1 ball of Mozzarella
1 pound bag of carrots
1 jar of Romano cheese(I would usually grate my own, but I was trying to do one weeks worth of food at one time instead of buying a big piece)
2 heads of garlic
1 small container of Gorgonzola
1 pound of Spaghetti
(I had flour and whole wheat flour at home)
2 pounds of Plum tomatoes
1 loaf of wheat bread.
Fruit juices
1 container of pesto

Alternatives for me would include:

Calamari, swordfish, tuna(canned or fresh), cod or salt cod, shrimp, Eggplant, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Savoy cabbage, radicchio, pears, lentils, Pancetta, Salami, Chicken, pepperoni, olive oil, grapes and raisins. dates, citrus fruit, Aged Provolone, Fontina.

I roasted a whole lasagna pan full of Italian vegetables in olive oil salt and pepper and whole cloves of garlic.  I will use them bit by bit all week in various combinations to save work.  Sometimes I add balsamic vinegar.

Day one, Tuesday:

1 Egg and grilled peppers in a bread frame.

Sole covered in chopped black olives, chopped tomato, capers, chopped onion and a few Tablespoons of left over marinara, baked and served with a few spears of roasted Asparagus, and about a cup of pasta.

I was nervous about a health care issue for John late in the day, so I had a big piece of chocolate cake...Damn...I made up for it by having a big apple for supper.

Day two Wednesday:

No breakfast...that is my norm.

I baked fresh whole wheat rolls and filled them while hot, with roasted vegetables (I made a lasagna pan full the previous day) and Prosciutto.

1 sausage, a cup of pasta with pepper and Romano cheese and roasted veggies with a bit of Romano cheese.

Day three Thursday:

1 cup of whole grain cereal
A three egg omelet with grilled onions, red peppers and one sliced sausage.
Left over fillet of sole as above.

Day four Friday:

A broiled open face sandwich ,wheat roll, baby figs, walnuts  and goat cheese with Prosciutto.  Drizzle with honey.  I do not like honey as a rule, but this is wonderful.
1 cup of spaghetti with Gorgonzola sauce and roasted vegetables.

I cup of whole grain cereal with almonds

One apple

Day five Saturday:

Whole grain cereal

A Fritatta made with three eggs, roasted vegetables, a cup of Pasta and a bit of Parmesan cheese.  Heat the veggies and pasta in the pan and pour the beaten egg with a little water into the pan to cover.  Fry on both sides.

Apple and Prosciutto ham.  Olives, marinated mushrooms and rounds of grilled bread drizzled with olive oil topped with roasted asparagus.

Here I ran into a road block.  John wanted Pizza and felt a little, left out, of the routine, so I went off the TRUE PATH and ate with him and made pizza(not really a variation on the Mediterranean, but the volume and toppings sidetracked me)...back to the routine tomorrow, or when I regain my composure and resolve.  I will continue with the days as if they were in sequence.  Just like an alcoholic...It is best to confess your sins!!! 

Day six Sunday:

Whole wheat cereal

Hard boiled egg, toasted whole wheat bread, rubbed with a clove of garlic...served with  warm white bean Hummus, chopped tomato and red pepper. 

Apple, ham  and toasted Italian bread.

Day seven Monday:

Whole wheat cereal

1/2 cup of Grilled bay scallops in olive oil with garlic.  Served with pasta and a more or less, fresh sauce of chopped tomatoes and asparagus.

Grilled vegetables, potatoes and prosciutto.

Left over from my purchase,

I have half a bag of scallops, one cup of bean hummus, most of a bag of onions, a can of chick peas, one tomato, 1 red pepper, most of a container of pesto, the ball of mozzarella, most of the olives, 3/4 bag of carrots, half of the Gorgonzola, and a number of other scraps and odd and ends.

Obviously, I did not lose any weight, but I feel better knowing that it is possible to live on far less than $50.00 and I know that that week of food was very healthy compared to my normal fare.  Perhaps this proves that I will be able to eat during my retirement years...I knew I would have to cut something...I was hoping it was not going to be food!!!  

Additional meals:

Roasted potatoes carrots and peppers in oil, served with several slices of Genoa Salami and two slices of bread with Parmesan.

Steam half a bunch of asparagus(that was just what appealed to my pocket book and my craving this week...could be green beans, broccoli florets etc... cut them into two inch pieces.  Saute half an onion minced, in plenty of olive oil.  Add one chopped tomato, and three slices of chopped Prosciutto crudo... cook till the tomato and onion have softened.  Add the Asparagus and 2 cups of cooked pasta shells.  When all is heated through, add Parmesan and serve.