This is a great summer salad. There are a million like it out there. I’ve always wanted to make a broccoli salad. I kept putting it off, thinking I needed to find the perfect recipe. In fact, I already had the bones of this recipe right under my nose. This is, for all intents and purposes, my Aunt Jane’s broccoli salad recipes. It is one of the tried and true family formulas that came pouring in when I asked my family to help me put together a family cookbook several years ago. I often thumb through it when I need a burst of inspiration. Somehow it always sends me in a good direction. It has never failed to leave me smiling, regardless of whether I cook from it that day or not. It is my grandmother’s kitchen hidden in stained, beloved pages.
I think of this as a tea room salad, or a picnic salad. It is definitely a classic, though I’ve modified it a bit from the traditional recipe. I took Jane’s recipe and played with it a bit and this is where I landed. I love it and I will be making it for ages. You should know that most substitutions here are merely ones caused by the current inventory of my pantry and freezer. For instance, Jane calls for raisins but I have dried cherries in my freezer that our friends Pat and Bubba gave us last year after returning from a trip to Michigan. Jane uses yogurt in her dressing, but I had only sour cream on hand. Most of these broccoli salad recipes call for sunflower seeds, but I had only slivered almonds. So I toasted them and called them preordained. Use what you have. But, never skip the bacon.
…Continue reading Broccoli Salad
When I am long gone, and my 8-year-old son is 88, and has children and grandchildren and great grandchildren to tell, I hope he will say something like, “My mother made the best rhubarb pie in the world, and I can still taste it and see it and smell it.” When he says this, I hope he does so with a slight shimmer of moisture in his eye, like he just that moment put his face close to the steaming vents on the browned top crust of a pie that I made for him 70 years before. I hope that memory transports him to an earlier time and connects me to the people being welcomed into the world on that day.
My step-father, Bob…I rarely call him my step-father because I think it is a chilly term, and my relationship with this great man has always been warm and chummy…had a mother named Florence. And Florence had a recipe for a rhubarb pie. And this is the pie that Bob still talks about when he talks about his mom. Bob’s daughter-in-law, Ann, still makes this pie for him on special occasions. She was kind enough to share a photocopy of the recipe with me. I’ve made it for my family to great fanfare. I misplaced the photocopy for a bit. Or rather, I knew generally where it was within a 12 cubic foot space of dog-eared cookbooks, handwritten note cards, recipes ripped out of magazines, and scribbled notes and notebooks of my research. When I found the lost lamb, I was grateful that the original was in the custody and care of a more responsible member of the family. Handwritten recipe cards are precious, fading, ephemeral, wisps and hints of lives lived before. Such a responsibility.
…Continue reading Bob’s Mom’s Rhubarb Pie
Seldom do I feel the need to repeat a recipe, but this is critical. I have become aware that some of my favorite people haven’t seen this recipe, which I posted HERE eons ago. And, I have had yet a few other favorite people repeat that they are afraid of baking bread, especially if it involves yeast. You know who you are. This can’t go on. It is a travesty, on both counts.
Travesty might be a strong word. But this is a formula that I use constantly. It is one of those recipes on this site that gets a weekly workout. So over the past two-and-a-half years since I posted it, my method has been refined. I’m better at it than I was when I first introduced it. The bread is prettier. (My photos are a bit better, too.) And I think my way of preparing it is better now. It is essentially the same recipe and a similar process, but instead of posting updates on an old, unattractive post, I’ve decided to call a do-over. Because, I can.
This is not my original thought, though. This recipe is heavily inspired from the work of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and Jim Lahey’s bread recipe. Those who have read the books will know exactly where I drop off from one and pick up on the other. Plus, there are little methods that I’ve created because they work better for me. For instance, this is a very wet dough, so after it is formed and rises it is hard to move it to the oven without thoroughly messing it up and deflating it. So, I form it and let it rise on a floured piece of parchment and then move the dough, parchment and all, to the oven. During baking it comes unstuck from the parchment. No harm, no foul.
…Continue reading Refrigerator Bread, Again and Again
On the 100th day of school, children are often asked to bring 100 of something to school. It is a fun math centered activity for little ones. This year, I was out of town on day 100, so my sister-in-law, Val was in charge of the selection. She chose 100 grains of forbidden rice, also called black rice. And that is why I have had black rice in my pantry. I had never purchased it or cooked it before.
So, a few days ago I was digging around in my pantry for inspiration…for a save, really. I needed simple. That usually ends up being spaghetti. But I saw the black rice and thought to myself that it was time to put it to use. Then it struck me how lovely black rice and black beans would be together. And that is how this recipe was born. I love the way that staring into the pantry sometimes yields a “Eureka” moment. Sometimes. Given the coming heat, I tried to think of a cool (as in temperature), picnic worthy take on black beans and rice. I made a vinaigrette using tomatoes, lime, and a hint of very fresh powdered cumin. It really turned out to be a lovely dish. I’ve made it twice since and I think this is one of those dishes I will be making for years to come. This recipe makes extra vinaigrette. I tend to dress salads heavily, fairly killing any nutritional edge they might have…but that is why you may have about one-third cup of dressing left. But, use it. It is wonderful. I served this bean and rice dish with a simple side of chopped Romaine tossed with the remaining dressing and some shredded Gruyere and it was great.
…Continue reading Black Salad
This is a nudge in the general direction of cheese. Most folks don’t need much of a nudge. But still, do you know who produces cheese in your neck of the woods. I promise that with a little investigation…very tasty investigation…you might find that there are small-batch, high quality, interesting cheeses being made very near you. But you might have to find it at a farmers market or a specialty cheese shop, or right on the farm. You do need to seek them out, because you typically will not find them at your big-ol-grocery-store. I spend a lot of time in the big-ol-grocery-store. I keep a lot of balls in the air and that means I try to make good choices in my big-ol-grocery-store and then seek out specialty items where and when I need to (and can) do so. It is a lucky day when I get to run over to Central Market and peruse each and every aisle (and visit my friend Carla). It is like going to the library or book store…a mission of joy.
One of the best reasons to go “specialty” instead of “big-ol” is when you want interesting cheeses. And Texas cheese makers are doing some great work. We have good farmers, raising great cows and sheep, and great artisans who are either making fabulous cheeses on the farm, or who are sourcing good milk to make cheeses.
…Continue reading Texas Cheese Board