Thursday, November 24, 2016

Butternut Squash Enchilladas

Last winter when Ed and I had dinner at Town on recommendation of friends, I ordered "BUTTERNUT SQUASH ENCHILADAS ROASTED TOMATO SALSA, AVOCADO, QUESO FRESCO, TOASTED PEPITAS"  I was not disappointed.  They were excellent and I resolved to try to make them myself soon.  Well soon turned out to be this fall but I have made them quite successfully on several occasions. While I lked the texture of the cubed squash, these would work well with leftover Thanksgiving squash. Serves 2 (4 enchiladas), scale accordingly.

 I first tried them stacked, the way I do traditional Enchiladas (photo at left) but decided I liked them rolled as they were at Town (top photo). I used goat cheese instead of quesco fresco (found with tortillas not other cheeses where I shop) because the quesco fresco blocks were huge. I liked the goat cheese better. I also added chopped sweet onion to the filling

First make the Enchilada Sauce. If you have previously made Version #2 you may have sauce in your freezer.  I use Option #1, which is very quck to make.  Half a recipe is more than enough for two servings. Of course canned enchilada sauce may be used instead.

Preheat ovee to 450 degrees F. Then finely chop:

1/2 small (1#) butternut squash

1/4 large sweet onion

several sprigs of fresh cliantro*

Toss the squash cubes in olive oil and bake  for about 15 minutes until tender.  Reduce oven to 350 degrees F.

Assemble the enchiladas:

Microwave on high for 30 seconds, two at a time

4 corn tortillas

Place two tortillas on two ovenproof plates that have been lightly greased with olive oil. Spread enchilada sauce on each tortilla, then 1/4 of the chopped onion and 1/4 of the cubed squash.
Roll the tortillas, then turn them 180 degrees so that the seam where the edges of the tortilla meet is on the bottom

Top with more enchilada sauce and

1 1/2 - 2 oz. crumbled goat cheese, divided 4 ways.

Bake in 350 degree F oven for 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with

1 avacado, silced thin, divided two ways, chopped cilantro

1 T toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), divided two ways (optional, I sometimes omit)

* I keep chopped cilantro in the freezer.  The frozen cilantro sprinkled directly on the enchiladas also works well.

Reviewed 7/11/2017

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Shaved Zucchini Salad

After several days on our boat there are fewer vegetable options. Zucchihi keeps for a long time on the shelf of our ice box so we grill a lot of zucchini. It was a hot night and we weren't planning to grill, so what to do with the zucchini? I thought of a shaved zucchini pizza we had recently at Three Tomatoes.  I had been intending to use shaved zucchini with pasta, but it was too hot a night for pasta.  Then I remembered Shaved Asparagus Salad. I didn't have scallions, but I did have a have basil (rooted basil keeps for a very long time in water).  Recipe serves 2, scale accordingly.

Wash and dry

2 small zucchihi, remove the stems and cut in half lengthwise

Using a vegetable peeler, thinly slice the zucchini, starting at one edge, into thin ribbons.  Use a sharp knife to slice any residual pieces into small, thin pieces.

Put the shaved zucchini into a bowl, The make the dressing by combining:

2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 t fresh lemon juice
Pepper to taste
2 T thinly sliced basil (and/or 2-3 thinly sliced scallions)

Add the dressing to the salad and gently toss.

Top with freshly grated Parmesean.

Reviewed 6/18/2017

Make Strawberry Stains Vanish

Ever take a toddler strawberry picking, or for that matter give the toodler warm, juicy strawberries to eat?  The delightful result is a trickle of strawberry juice out the corners of the mouth and down the front of the shirt.  When Henry recently decorated his shirt with red strawberry juice, Alex said not to worry just pour boiling water over the stains.  Hot water removes strawberry stains!
I felt like a magician! On contact with boiling water the stains vanished.  Alex advises, DO NOT use any soap or other stain remover on the fabric before applying the hot water. If other treatments are used prior to the hot water, the stains will not dissappear.

Wish I had known this trick last Christmas when strawberry juice from our Strawberry Shortcake ended up on my white table cloth.
And, I must confess this technique also worked well on my clothes after a recent morning of strawberry picking.
Reviewed 9/20/2017

Friday, May 20, 2016

Best Ever Strawberry Rhubarb Pie/Strawberry Rhubarb (Ginger) Crisp

A pair of revised recipes just in time for the beginning of the local rhubarb season.  Time to dig the last of the sliced strawberries out of the freezer and enjoy these better than ever treats..

Two of the earliest posts on this blog were Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, a family recipe, and Strawberry Rhubarb (Ginger) Crisp.  Awesome desserts but alas they "puddled".  I tried cornstarch instead or in addition to flour but the resulting texture was gummy so I resigned myself to a pie that was going to puddle.  However, last week before making my brother's favorite birthday "cake", a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, I decided to consult one of my favorite cooking blogs, Smitten Kitchen.  TAPIOCA!!! Deb Perelman was not the source of this idea, she gives others credit for using instant tapioca in pies and, in fact, when I rushed out to get a box of instant tapioca, I found a chart on the back of the box devoted to "Favorite Fruit Pies"*  Just as Ms. Perelman added a new recipe when she discovered tapioca, "Improved Strawberry Rhubarb Pie", I decided this pie is good enough, at least in the opinion of my brother and other birthday guests, to merit a post of its own.  It does not puddle and the texture is great!


I did not link to the old recipe, with instructions to delete the flour and add 1/4 cup of instant tapioca, because I have slightly adjusted other ingredients and changed the step by step instructions.

Make a double recipe (I do one crust at a time) of Pie Crust using the VARIATION instructions. Roll 2 large circles of pastry and with one line a 9" pie plate.

Preheat oven to 350degrees F.

In a large bowl mix together

3 1/2 c  (1- 1/2#) rhubarb, cut in 1/4" pieces
3 1/2 c  (1 #)  strawberries, sliced
5/8 c sugar
1 T lemon juice (optional)
1/2 - 1 t cinnamon
1/4 c instant tapioca

Mix well and let sit for 15 minutes.

Pour mixture into the 9" pastry lined pie plate. Make a top crust. I prefer a lattice rather than a full top crust. Be sure the crust is well sealed at the edges.  Place on a cookie sheet to catch any overflow drippings (though unlike the previous version, this pie will probably not overflow!) and place in the hot oven. Cook for 35 - 40 minutes until crust is nicely browned.

The proof is in the serving dish --- no puddles of juice in the bottom!


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In a large bowl mix together, in the same quantities given for the pie, the fruit, sugar, instant tapioca and other ingredients as well as (optional)

1 T finely minced candied ginger.

Let sit for fifteen minutes, then place in a 10" tart dish.  In same bowl (no need to wash) mix well:

1 T melted butter
2 T brown sugar

Then add:

3 T all-purpose white flour
3/4 c rolled oats

Mix again (mixture should be crumbly) then sprinkle over the fruit.

Bake in 350 degree F oven for 35 - 40 minutes.

Again, the proof is in the serving. Excellent texture and no puddles of fruit juice in the bottom of the serving dish!

Both pie and crisp are good served with vanilla ice cream/non-fat frozen yogurt or ginger ice cream

* Apple 6 cups fruit 2 T instant tapioca
  Blueberry 4 cups fruit 1/4 cup instant tapioca
  Strawberry-Rhubarb 4 cups fruit 1/4 cup instant tapioca

AND if some of this delicious pie or crisp ends up on your white tablecloth or toddler's shirt see Make Strawberry Stains Vanish

Reviewed 6/17/2017

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Asparagus Stock / Pasta with Asparagus Stock

June 2019: Asparagus "Stock" Revisited

Asparagus Stock/Pasta with Asparagus Stock has never been one of my favorite recipes, rather thrifty use of a spring gift come winter.  This spring there is still a lingering quart in our freezer.  Then as I was making still another batch of stock, I realized why. A friend of mine professed not to like asparagus, then I discovered her mother had cooked it until it was almost gray!  That's exactly what I was doing with this recipe, no wonder it was not my favorite (sorry edible Aspen).  How to cook shorter but get tender?  I shredded the stalks with a steel blade in my food processor, put the mixture in a small pan just barely covered with water and cooked, like I cook whole asparagus (small stalks) for three minutes.  The result was a bright green mixture that looked and smelled great.  To get it finer I used the immersion blender and for some reason this was a messy and additional process. Next time I chopped much finer in the food processor and then microwaved. Voila:

Put in food processor

12 oz*

Blend until quite fine, then add

3 T water

Blend again until mixture is pureed.

Put mixture in a glass bowl and heat, stirring frequently to just boiling about 3 minutes on high,

* I don't like to keep asparagus ends in the refrigerator for more that 5 days, and amount varies each time. adding about a tablespoon of water per 4 oz of asparagus makes for a good puree.  Stay tuned for recipes using this or try your own adaption (more water and some additional cooking may be required) of the pasta recipe below.

Long before the current trend to use the whole animal or the whole plant, I saved the tough ends of my local asparagus stems.  Local asparagus is so spectacular I could not bear to assign the less tender portions to the compost pile.  I made stock from these stems and turned the resultant stock into soup.  The soup cried for cream and since this was a weekday staple, I did not answer the call.  Pasta cooked in asparagus stock is a great dinner on its own, no cry for cream and could only be improved by perhaps a bit of chopped parsley or grated Parmesean.

After several years of this practice, I find I have company.  Headline from a May 22, 2015 article in the Wall Street Journal:

Vegetable Scraps Go Haute: How to Cook Root to Stalk

Save those stems! Across the country, chefs are getting very good eating from parts of our produce we typically trim away. Here are their tips for using every part of the vegetable, plus recipes mindful of making the most of your market haul*

And an article in the Spring 2015 issue of edible Aspen, "The Skinny on Asparagus", included a recipe for asparagus stock and directions on how to cook pasta in stock.  

With the asparagus season fast approaching some asparagus stock still left in my freezer, I remembered the pasta recipe.  I used whole wheat linguini fini with excellent results.  The whole wheat pasta makes a heartier, less delicate but healthier offering than white pasta.   


The edible Aspen asparagus stock recipe is pretty close to the one I have been using for several years, except it finishes the stock using a food processor and then a food mill.  I find the food processor or even easier an immersion blender sufficent.  I collect the asparagus trimmings over the course of a few meals. Often I cook for only two but we eat a lot of asparagus so it does not take long to fill the quart container I keep in the refrigerator during asparagus season.

Place the asparagus stem pieces (I do a quart of 1 -2 inch stems at a time) in a medium pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, cover and gently boil until the asparagus is very soft, about 45 minutes.  Add more water if necessary to keep stems covered.  Let cool and then puree with a food processor or immersion blender.

I freeze and save for use after asparagus is no longer in season.


"Cooking pasta in stock is a fabulous alternative to using your stock for soup. The pasta absorbs the flavors from the stock and leaches out starch, which thickens the sauce to create a savory sauce.."**

Serves 3

Heat until boiling: 

1 quart asparagus stock 

Season to taste with salt and pepper.


8 ounces pasta, linguini fini or spaghettini works best

The pasta will be stiff and probably not all fit in the stock initially. Gently push down on the pasta until it softens and collapses into the stock.  Stir constantly to avoid strands from sticking together. Cook the pasta until it is al dente. Time on box/bag will not be accurate as pasta is being cooked in a significantly reduced amount of liquid and not water.  You will have to taste for doneness. During cooking, stock will thicken. Add a little water if sauce gets too sticky.  Divide into bowls and serve immediately.

This combination stands well on its own but could be garnished with 

finely chopped parsley 


grated Parmesean

* I don't subscribe to the WSJ so only saw the headline, not recipes.

**  edible Aspen, No. 30 Spring 2015, page15.

May 2017: It's asparagus season again, and I still have stock left in the freezer. Why not pasta cooked in asparagus stock garnished with fresh asparagus. Yum!

Reviewed 5/30/2017
Revised : 6/6/2019  - note at top of post

Alex's Almond Pancakes

One Sunday morning this January Henry crawled into bed with me and announced we were having pancakes for breakfast.  Alex's turn to cook.  My pancakes cannot compete with hers. I looked forward to breakfast along with Henry.

This recipe serves 4 adults and 1 pancake loving toddler, with maybe one pancake leftover for a mid-morning snack.

Preheat a pancake griddle, and preheat oven to low (250 degrees F)

In a large bowl, mix together:

3 c all-purpose flour
1 T + 1 1/2 t (4 1/2 t) baking powder
1/2 t salt

Beat together

3 eggs
2 1/4 c milk (may need as much as 3 c milk or combination of milk and yogurt - see beow)
3 T melted butter
1 1/2 t almond extract

Then gently stir in the dry ingredients.  If the batter seems thick, add more milk or yogurt. The thickness of the batter determines the thickness of the pancakes, the more liquid, the thinner the pancakes.

Butter or oil a hot griddle then ladle or pour the mix onto the griddle. Turn pancake when bubbles form across the surface. Adjust heat as necessary, subsequent batches may require less heat then the first batch. When both sides of pancake are browned, remove to the warm platter in the oven and hold until all batter is cooked.

Serve with warm maple syrup.

Reviewed 5/8/17

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Egg White Puffed Pancake

If cholesterol is no issue, it is hard to beat Baked German Pancake (right, photo at left, left, photo below) made with real eggs and butter for a weekend breakfast. Over the years I have tried a variation of this pancake using various brands of "egg product", some working better than others in achieving a puffy pancake. Recently the only "egg products" I was able to find were  boxed egg whites.  I searched for advice but could find no on-line recipes for puffy egg-white pancakes so decided to experiment.
Mixing the ingredients together I became skeptical.  Instead of a golden yellow, I had a white batter (see bottom two photos).  What would the finished pancake look like?  Not to worry, the pancake was very puffy and golden brown!  (left, photo above, right photo at left) Of course not as rich tasting as the Baked German but quite delicious with warm maple syrup.  Next time, thinking of Alex's Almond Pancakes, I added some almond extract, a definate plus.

The third iteration (photo at left) was to use fresh egg whites rather than the boxed pastuerized egg whites.  I immediately noticed that the fresh whites have much more body than the boxed whites.* This was evident in the texture of the pancake too.  Not as much body and popover-like texture as the pacake made with whole eggs, but signifagantly more body and texture than the crepe-like pancake made from boxed whites.

Serves 2, maybe 3?

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In a medium bowl combine:

1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c fat-free milk
3/4 c egg whites (preferably from fresh eggs)
1 t almond extract
1 T vegetable oil spread such as Earth Balance

Put cast iron skillet (~9'' diameter) or glass pan  (~6' x 10"/~60" sq) in hot oven. When pan is hot add vegetable oil then return pan to oven until spread is melted but not burned!  Meanwhile beat ingredients well with a whisk until batter is smooth and bubbly. Remove pan from oven and tilt until bottom surface and sides are evenly coated with melted oil. Pour batter into pan and cook until pancake is puffed and brown, about 25 minutes.

Remove from pan, slice into servings and serve with warm maple syrup.          

* Bottom photo shows mixture made with fresh egg whites, 2nd from bottom photo shows mixture maded with boxed egg whites.

Reviewed 5/11/17

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Dan's Birthday Pudding Cake

This blog is full of family favorite birthday cakes. Now that Dan is living near us, we finally got a chance to try his childhood, and still favorite, birthday cake.  This is Alex's adaption of Dan's Mom's recipe. The original recipe calls for Kalua instead of some of the milk. Making a cake for a child, Dan's Mom just used milk.  The chocolate - Heath Bar - whipped cream combination is similar to Heath Bar Cake.
Make the cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter the bottom of a 9-inch diameter cake pan, cover the bottom with a circle of parchment paper, then butter the top of the paper.

In a small saucepan or double boiler on the stove or a glass cup/bowl in a microwave* melt:

1 1/2 ounces chopped unsweetened chocolate

Using an electric mixer, cream until smooth:

4 T (one-half stick) unsalted butter, softened

Then gradually add and beat until light and fluffy:

1/2 c sugar

Beat in;

1 egg yolk

Then add

1/2 t vanilla extract

Add the melted chocolate.  Mix well then, to be ready to whip the egg whites in optimum time, remove the wisk from the electric mixture and wash throughly being sure to remove all traces of oil. If the chocolate mixture is in the only mixing bowl that works with the mixer, transfer this mixture to another bowl and wash the mixing bowl well.  In a small bowl combine:

1 cup (4.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt

Add the dry mix to the chocolate mix by hand a little at a time, alternating with:

1/2 c plus 2 T milk

Stir just until smooth.

Beat until it holds soft peaks:

1 egg white

Then fold gently but throughly into the batter using a spatula.  Pour mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.


Make the pudding

Heat in a double boiler (saucepan or microwave)*

2 oz chopped unsweetened chocolate

In a small saucepan combine:

1/2 c sugar
3 T cornstarch
pinch of salt

Mix together
2 1/2 c whole milk
3 eggs

Stir this mixture into the dry mixture over medium heat. Wisk to eliminate lumps then stir constantly until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Add meltled chocolate and

2 T unsalted butter, softened
1 t vanilla extract


Make the pudding cake

Cut the cooled cake into 1 inch chunks.

In a glass bowl, approximately 8 inches in diameter. layer the cake cubes and the pudding.

Top with

whipped cream
crushed Heath Bars

And birthday candles!

* If using a sauce pan, cook over low heat, stirring frequently. If using a double boiler cook over hot, not boiling water, stirring occasionally.  If melting chocolate in a microwave, use high power but in very short intervals 10-15 seconds, stirring after each interval.  This is the easiest way to melt the chocolate but requires diligence to prevent chocolate from burning.

Reviewed 5/11/17

Friday, January 22, 2016

Baby Food

I started this post over a year ago prompted by 2 articles in the October 8 New York Times Magazine (Food Issue), a visit to Portland where our grandson Henry was just beginning to eat solid food, and a vist to the Portland Farmer's Market.

At the time, October 2014, I wrote:

With babies and then children it is all about good choices when it comes to food. Since this had been on my mind again, I found these two articles particularly relevant.

Getting Your Kids to Eat (or at least Try) Everything
Rise and Shine What kids around the world eat for breakfast

When we were in Portland last week we were waiting for coffee at a small shop enroute to the Farmer's Market, a favorite destination whenever I am in Portland.  A man and two small boys were at a table near us..The man had a moderately healthy looking breakfast sandwich and coffee. The boys each had a very sugary looking pastry and pink sugary drinks. After indulging in more than one almond croissant at Ken's during the past week I was in no position to be critical. However, when I was enjoying a delicious local veggies brunch at the Farmers Market (photo left) an hour later I could not help thinking about the scene at the coffee shop and all the healthy alternatives that for the same price or less now surrounded me.

Our grandson, Henry, is beginning to eat solid food and I am delighted (but not surprised) to see the wonderful meals his mom, Alexandra (1980 photo top left), is preparing for him.  I remember making pureed chicken (put chicken and a bit of broth in a food processor and process until smooth), pureed carrots (likewise carrots and water) and a few other pedestrian offerings for Alexandra and later Christopher. To store, I would fill an ice cube tray and freeze.  Alex does the same but with many more foods including Oregon plums, apples, peaches, as well as spinach and peas (not Henry's favorite) and freezes the pureed food in ice cube trays that come with their own top.  Feeding Alex in a pre-microwave era I heated the food in an egg coddler.

Henry is feeding himself at an early age.  This is the tend, Alex tells me. In fact some of Henry's friends have gone straight from nursng to "finger foods".  At the time of my visit to Portland avocadoes were a real favorite.
Alex also cooks pieces of carrotts and pears until they are tender and then gives Henry the pieces to eat.

Flash forward a year later, Henry has left his Portland daycare and, with his parents, is living with us until they find a house in the Boston area. I am making his lunches before he heads off to nursery school/daycare. Mindful that his old daycare provided healthy meals and tried to introduce many new foods I try (sort of) to maintain that goal.

Hummus is a hit. But while his mom and uncle dipped celery and carrotts in the hummus, Henry likes to eat it with a spoon. The token carrot or celery stick I packed with the hummus came home untouched.  Since food is about color and how it is presented, it was hard for me to pack just a blob of hummus.  I had some fresh pomegranate seeds in the fridge and put some on top.  The snack box came home empty and since then Henry has enjoyed many more hummus-pomegranate lunches.
Other favorites are grilled cheese sandwich, cut in small cubes, (left), Baked Beans, Apple Keam (but without the keme for school), Meat Loaf, plain whole milk yogurt mixed with blueberries, pancakes, string cheese, and almost any fruit.

Toddlers will have a favorite food and then (temporairly) refuse to eat it, most often right after a large supply of the "favorite food" has been purchased. Happend with avocadoes, happened with grilled cheese sandwiches and cheese-spinach omlettes. Henry is now eating avocadoes again, though her prefers them in Guacamole,

Listen to your toddler. After Henry started eating cheese omlettes again, Alex offered him a cheese-spinach omlette. Not such a hit. A few weeks later Henry and I had grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, or actually I had a grilled cheese and arugula sandwich. Henry looked at my sandwich and immediately asked for green in his as he has since.  This morning I was going to make him a cheese omlette. As I was getting eggs out of the refrigerator, Henry spotted a box of arugula. "In omlet", he said as he handed me the box.  We are working back to the cheese-spinach omlette.

Henry's former school provided fruit popsicles on each child's birthday. Henry's current school leaves the treat up to parents.  Since the celebration is mid-morning rather than after lunch, Alex did not think popsicles were the best option and instead sent mini Blueberry Muffins which were a hit with all.  Okay, they contain sugar but so does birthday cake and the cookies I sent to school for Chris and Alex's birthdays.

May 13, 2019: Excellent article on this topic in today's New York Times:

Reviewed 9/21/2017