February 26, 2015

See Jane Cook is a free weekly Internet food newsletter written by Jane Snow and published by Mimi Vanderhaven. Sign up here to have newsletter appear every Wednesday in your email in box. Join us!

Before I left behind the ice and snow for a road trip to Florida with a friend, I found this column for you to enjoy. I wrote it in 2004 for my former Second Helpings newsletter. I’ll return this week in time for the annual Lauren Braman Memorial Chili Cook-Off Saturday (Feb. 28) at Copley High School. Join me from 6 to 9 p.m. to taste a dozen or more chilies plus desserts. Proceeds are earmarked for programs for teen-agers in the oncology unit at Akron Children’s Hospital.

Dear friends,

Over the years, bunch after bunch of rapini made its way home from the store, into my refrigerator and eventually into the garbage. I didn’t know what to do with it, but ever the optimist, I kept buying.

Now I know. Several times recently I have made rapini with potatoes and garlic. It is a wonderful side dish. The buttery yellow potatoes absorb the garlic flavor and offset the slight bitterness of the rapini.

Make no mistake: rapini – also called broccoli rabe – is a bitter vegetable. That is its charm. Like arugula, it assaults the palate.

Italian cuisine in particular seems to have a thing for pairing bitter with unctuous, each flavor heightened by the presence of the opposite.

Rapini is sold in most grocery stores. It looks like broccoli that never matured – lots of leaves with a few scraggly broccoli crowns. You eat both the leaves and crown, along with the stalk.

I found this recipe in “Umbria” by Julia Della Croce, a cookbook I’ve been dipping into. I like that the rapini and potatoes may be cooked in advance, then finished just before serving – not that I’ve been organized enough to do it. But, ever the optimist, I keep hoping.
SAUTEED RAPINI WITH POTATOES
•    2 Yukon Gold potatoes
•    1 1/2 lbs. rapini (broccoli rabe)
•    1 tbsp. sea salt
•    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
•    4 large cloves garlic, chopped
Scrub potatoes and cover with cold water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender but not falling apart. Peel, cut in quarters lengthwise, then cut crosswise into medium-thin slices.

Peel skin from the tough lower stalks of the rapini and trim the ends. Cut crosswise into 3-inch lengths. Place in a large pot of boiling water, add the sea salt and cook until the stalks are tender but not soft, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking liquid.

In a large, heavy skillet heat the olive oil and garlic over low heat until the garlic is soft but not colored, about 5 minutes. Raise heat to medium and add greens and potatoes. Stir well, then raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. If too dry, add a bit of the cooking liquid. Makes 4 servings.
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February 12

See Jane Cook is a free weekly Internet food newsletter written by Jane Snow and published by Mimi Vanderhaven. Sign up here to have newsletter appear every Wednesday in your email in box. Join us!
Dear friends,

Before I left for vacation last week I searched my Second Helpings newsletters (the precursor of See Jane Cook) of a decade ago to find recipes worth a reprise. I was surprised that I made desserts so often back then. The desserts were pretty special, too. One example: Individual warm chocolate soufflés inverted onto plate and topped with thin disks of chocolate that melted on contact.

Paging through the recipes reminded me of good times with old friends. Well, mostly. A recipe for Tarte au Citron reminded me of a bad marriage made briefly bearable one winter by a spur-of-the-moment weekend trip to Paris. Fares were on sale for about $300. How could we not go? We stayed at my favorite Paris hotel, Hotel Monge on the Left Bank. A romantic Paris cloaked in snow could not rekindle the flame of a long-dead love. I made frequent trips to the patisserie on the corner, where I comforted myself with lovely little custard tarts infused with the very essence of oranges.

A better memory was attached to those warm chocolate soufflés. I remember recreating the dessert after eating a miniature version one warm fall evening on a terrace in Kansas City. The best chefs in the region were scattered over the terrace and grounds, serving tastes of their signature dishes. Amid all the barbecue was that elegant little gem. I was entranced with the genius and ease of the chocolate topping.

The Sicilian Cassata recipe I found took me back 32 years, to when my interest in food was germinating. Dinner at a friend’s home was a whole filet mignon carved at the table, the first salade Nicoise I’d ever tasted and a voluptuous cassata that to me was heaven itself.

Recipes for the Italian layer cake abound. The one Doris made was vanilla sponge cake layers filled with gently sweetened ricotta cheese studded with bits of chocolate. The cake was coated with a shiny chocolate ganache. It was my introduction not only to ganache but to the concept of dinner parties.

Although I’ve all but given up fancy dinner parties, I still love cassatas, and Doris is still a good friend.
TART AU CITRON

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•    4 eggs
•    1 cup sugar
•    2/3 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
•    2 tsp. grated orange rind
•    1/2 cup cream
•    1 baked 9-inch tart shell (recipe follows)
•    2 Tbsp. orange marmalade
In a large bowl, whisk eggs to blend. Whisk in sugar just until combined. Add orange juice, orange rind and cream. Whisk just until mixed. Pour into the baked pastry shell.

Bake tart on the center oven rack at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until filling is set. Cool on a wire rack. Heat marmalade in a custard cup in a microwave oven just until runny.

Spread over cooled custard. Broil until bubbly, but do not burn. Cool to room temperature. Garnish with a paper-thin orange slice if desired.
PATE BRISEE
•    1 cup flour
•    1/2 tsp. salt
•    8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
•    3 Tbsp. ice water
Place flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and blend. Add butter and process until blended, about 10 seconds. With machine running, add ice water through feed tube until mixture begins to form a ball, about 10 seconds.

Turn onto a work surface and smear dough bit by bit until the butter and flour are well blended. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour. Warm dough slightly and divide in half, saving half of dough for another use.

Roll out half of dough to an 11-inch round. Fit into tart pan without stretching. Fold under any overhang to form a double-crusted side. Trim dough even with the top of the tart pan.

Prick all over with a fork. Mold foil to the inside of the shell and weight with dried beans or pie weights. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights and bake 10 minutes longer, or until lightly browned. Cool before filling.
WARM BITTER CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE WITH FRESH BERRIES AND MILK CHOCOLATE GLAZE
•    8 oz. Bittersweet chocolate
•    10 oz. Unsalted butter, melted
•    7 Egg yolks
•    1 Tbsp. flour
•    7 Egg whites
•    1/2 cup sugar
•    1 Pinch salt
•    Macerated berries (see instructions)
•    Milk chocolate disks (see instructions)
Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Whisk in the melted butter. Remove from heat. In a small bowl, beat egg yolks and flour until pale-yellow in color. Add the yolk mixture to the chocolate and stir well. Beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add sugar while beating until medium-stiff. Immediately fold the warm chocolate mixture into the meringue. Spoon into 8 buttered and sugared 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups. Fill the ramekins completely. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. When the soufflés are baked (and still warm), flip them out of the ramekins, upside down. Place a thin round disk of milk chocolate on top of each soufflé and allow to melt.

Garnish the plates with berries.  Serve immediately. Serves 8.

For the berries: Use a selection of raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. Sprinkle with sugar to
taste, sliced ginger, lemon and lime peel and vanilla bean. Allow mixture to macerate for at least 12
hours.

For the chocolate disk: Melt milk chocolate slowly over a double boiler. Spread the melted chocolate
on parchment paper, creating a very thin layer. When cooled and firm, cut out rounds the same
size and shape as the soufflé dishes, using a cookie cutter or sharp paring knife.
SICILIAN CASSATA
•    1 (10-inch round) sponge cake or 3 butter-cake layers
•    1 1/4 lbs. Ricotta cheese
•    1 Cup granulated sugar
•    1 tsp. Vanilla
•    2 Tbsp. cognac
•    1/2 Cup chocolate bits
•    6 oz. bittersweet chocolate
•    1/3 cup cream
Split the cake into 3 layers if using the sponge cake. Beat cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in sugar, vanilla and cognac. Stir in chocolate bits. Place the cake bottom on a serving plate. Spread half of the ricotta mixture over cake. Top with middle layer, then remaining ricotta mixture. Place top layer over cheese mixture.

Break bittersweet chocolate into pieces and place in a small bowl. Heat cream almost to boiling.

Pour over chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes. Beat until smooth. Spread over cake, allowing it
to drip down the sides. Chill.
Please note: If your email address changes, you must re-subscribe to my newsletter in order to continue receiving it. We are unable to change the address for you in  our email list. The procedure is easy. Just click on the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of a newsletter.  Then go to  http://www.janesnowtoday.com, to sign up under your new address. Thank you.

Please tell your friends about my blog site (https://janesnowtoday.wordpress.com/ ), where you can find not only each week’s newsletter but archives of past newsletters.

February 12, 2015

See Jane Cook is a free weekly Internet food newsletter written by Jane Snow and published by Mimi Vanderhaven. Sign up here to have newsletter appear every Wednesday in your email in box. Join us!
Dear friends,

Creating recipes is a fickle occupation. Sometimes I work meticulously for hours, jotting down amounts and techniques, and the result is – meh. OK, but nothing I’d share. The payback comes when the reverse happens, as it did last week.

I had to cook dinner but didn’t want to.  I eyed the boneless pork chops I had thawed and wondered if Tony would eat them if I just slapped them in a skillet and baked them in the oven. Top Chef was on pause on TV and I wanted to get back to it. If I added potatoes to the chops, I mused, it would be a meal.

That’s basically what I did but, maybe inspired by Top Chef, I added seasonings and a few quick touches that made the recipe a keeper. To deepen the flavor, I quickly browned the chops and  spread some Dijon mustard over the meat. Slicing a half onion over the chops took just a couple of minutes but paid off handsomely. Then came a layer of thin-sliced potatoes sprinkled with salt, pepper and herbs de Provence, a classic French seasoning mix that includes lavender. I had frozen, shredded cheese on hand for pizzas, so I threw on some of that along with a few little chunks of butter. I topped the final layer of potatoes with salt, pepper and more butter, covered the skillet with foil and baked it for about an hour.

Total hands-on time: 15 minutes. Flavor: Way out of proportion to the time it took to make.

Tony and I liked the pork and potatoes so much that I made the recipe again a few days later to nail down the measurements. If you have no herbs de Provence in your cupboard, go buy some. It’s my new favorite seasoning, thanks to a stash a friend brought back from France. The herb mix varies in makeup but always includes lavender. It’s available at some supermarkets and most specialty food stores.
DIJON PORK CHOPS AND POTATOES WITH HERBS DE PROVENCE

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• 4 boneless pork chops, about 3/4 -inch thick
• Salt, pepper
• Olive oil
• 4 tsp. Dijon mustard
• 1 1/2 tsp. herbs de Provence
• 1 cup thin-sliced yellow onion, sliced thin
• 2 lbs. potatoes (peeled if russet, just scrubbed if redskin or Yukon Gold), sliced thin
• 2 tbsp. butter, cut in small pieces
• 2 tbsp. finely shredded provolone, gruyere or mozzarella cheese
Trim chops, but leave some fat. Season on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat an 8- or 9-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add about 1/8-inch of oil. When oil is hot, sear chops on both sides in skillet. Remove from heat and spread mustard evenly over chops. Top with a couple pinches of the herbs de Provence and the onions.

Layer half of the potato slices in the pan, overlapping slices slightly. Season with salt, pepper and remaining herbs de Provence. Dot with half of the butter. Sprinkle with the cheese.

Layer remaining potato slices into pan. Season with salt and pepper and dot with remaining butter. Cover tightly with foil. Bake in a preheated, 350-degree oven for 1 hour or until potatoes are tender and pork is cooked through but still juicy. Makes 4 servings.
THE MAILBAG
From Kirsten, Hudson:
Help! I have about a quart and a half of strawberries frozen from last summer. Any ideas on how I could use them?
Thanks.

Dear Kirsten: I just ate a half-cup of frozen peach slices right out of the baggie, like a popsicle, but I guess you’re looking for a more refined idea.
If I had a stash of frozen strawberries I’d either make a strawberry-balsamic jam to serve with meats or I’d  puree them, still frozen, with plain Greek yogurt and a bit of sugar for low-cal frozen yogurt.  To make the jam, simmer about a pint of the thawed strawberries with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and sugar to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens. Serve it like a chutney alongside grilled meats, or serve it with brie, Camembert or pate on French bread.

From Becky, Senecaville:
I have not been to the Hotdog Shoppe  in a while, so now my taste buds are telling me I’m going to have to stop there the next time I’m in East Liverpool. I did stop  at Sal Mari’s in December –love their subs. Theo’s in downtown Cambridge makes good Coney dogs  If  you ever head south on I-77.

Dear Becky: I’ll file away your suggestion for my next trip south. Thanks.

From C.L.:
Try Skyline Chili coney dogs – yum!

Dear C.L.: Technically, I’d call those chili dogs. But whatever, I’m hungry for one now.

From Cheryl Puster:
I grew up for a while in Warren. I’m really partial to the hot dog sauce at The Hot Dog Shoppe in Warren, near downtown (a local landmark). I guess it would be more of a chili sauce per your description. They are really good with chili and cheese. Also, the fries are delicious with sauce and cheese on the side. They also have delicious milk shakes. Nothing fancy about this place, but it can get so crowded that people will stand and wait behind other customers for seats at the counter. Of course you wouldn’t want to eat like this every day, but if you are in the mood for some junk food….

Dear Cheryl: I think those chili-cheese dogs are exactly the same as the ones in East Liverpool. At one time the Hot Dog Shoppe was a small local chain with several locations. There’s one in New Brighton, Pa., too, just up the river from East Liverpool.

From Tami:
Saw your Tidbit on coney dogs. I love them. Another awesome location is in Girard – the Jib Jab Hot Dog Shoppe. I know, not close to Akron, but definitely worth the drive. And the dogs are just $1 each.  Incredibly good French fries too!

Dear Tami: I once detoured hundreds of miles for a hamburger, so Girard doesn’t seem far to travel for a good hot dog. I’ve heard of the Jib Jab.  Thanks for the reminder.

From Judy Rodgers:
When you find your remote, check out MI-5 on Netflix.  Your remote may be sandwiched in the cushions of the couch or comfy chair.

Dear Judy: I found it! I had knocked it off an end table into a trash can I was using to barricade the dog in a corner of the living room while his leg heals. The Christmas tree is part of the barricade, too, so if you drive by my house and see holiday lights, don’t judge.
Please note: If your email address changes, you must re-subscribe to my newsletter in order to continue receiving it. We are unable to change the address for you in  our email list. The procedure is easy. Just click on the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of a newsletter.  Then go to  http://www.janesnowtoday.com, to sign up under your new address. Thank you.

Please tell your friends about my blog site (https://janesnowtoday.wordpress.com/ ), where you can find not only each week’s newsletter but archives of past newsletters.

February 4, 2015

See Jane Cook is a free weekly Internet food newsletter written by Jane Snow and published by Mimi Vanderhaven. Sign up here to have newsletter appear every Wednesday in your email in box. Join us!

Dear friends,

Nothing is too much trouble when I’m curled up in my easy chair.  My sister calls and I offer to watch her dog for a week. I get an email asking me to eat and rate a couple dozen bowls of chili; yes, I’d be delighted. I phone a friend and, long story short, invite her to breakfast at my house the next morning. I pull a fuzzy blanket around me and snuggle in.

The next morning I’m on my second cup of coffee when the breakfast invitation rises to the surface of the somnolent soup that is my brain at that hour. I shoot out of the chair like an arrow, lope to the kitchen and find a half-dozen eggs but no bread. Aw, geez.

When the caffeine and adrenaline kick in at about 9 a.m., I remember seeing a pie crust disk in the fridge along with half a log of goat cheese. I throw together a quiche, perk a fresh pot of coffee and wait for Nancy to arrive. I wait. And wait. By noon the quiche has cooled down nicely and I’m wide awake. I’ve had time read the newspaper and I’m ready for lunch.

Nancy finally sails in with a pot under her arm.  She has brought cauliflower soup. I nudge her along as she melts butter, waits for it to brown and adds cauliflower florets. She’s messing around with a frickin’ garnish while I’m so hungry I could eat the dog kibble.

We carry the bowls of soup and the quiche to the table and the three of us dig in. OMG. The browned cauliflower florets and the drizzle of brown butter MAKE the soup. They are a rich, gutsy counterpoint to the creamy cauliflower-leek puree. All is forgiven. I snap a photo and extract a promise from Nancy to email the recipe when she gets home. Nancy had jotted it down while watching an “America’s Test Kitchen” video, she says.

The quiche is pretty good, too, by the way – delicate and pretty. But big deal, how can you mess up quiche? I find out the next day after Tony leaves for work. The remains of his lunch are on the kitchen counter: a plate smeared with quiche and a telltale blob of ketchup. OMG.
CAULIFLOWER-LEEK SOUP WITH CAULIFLOWER FLORETS AND BROWN BUTTER

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• 1 large head of cauliflower
• 2 leeks
• 1 medium yellow onion
• 8 tbsp. unsalted butter
• 1 leek, washed well and thinly sliced
• 1 small onion, thinly sliced
• 4 1/2 cups water, plus more if necessary
• 1 1/2 tsp. sherry wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
• Minced fresh chives or parsley
• Salt, pepper
Core cauliflower, then trim core to use in soup by removing the light gray-greenish band and thinly slicing the inner part of core.

Remove and discard green leaves as you work. Cut off enough small florets to make 1 heaping cup. Slice remainder of the head into 1/2-inch-thick slabs. Set aside.

Trim the dark-green part of the leeks, leaving the light-green and white parts only. Slice the white and light-green parts lengthwise and rinse out any dirt. Slice crosswise into thin slices.

Slice onion thin. In a large saucepan over low heat, sauté onion and leeks in 3 tablespoons of the butter. Cook until soft but not brown, about 7 minutes.  Add 4 1/2 cups of water, the sliced core and half of the cauliflower slabs. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Add remaining cauliflower slabs. Continue cooking 15 minutes (total 30) or until tender.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the remaining 5 tablespoons butter and sauté the heaping cup of reserved cauliflower florets until nicely browned.  Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon. The butter should be brown as well. If not, continue sizzling butter until the solids are brown. Pour into a small bowl or measuring cup.

When soup has finished cooking, puree in batches in a blender until silken smooth. Wash saucepan, and return soup to heat. Bring to a simmer. Add water if necessary to thin it a bit; a spoon should briefly leave a trail when pulled through the soup. Season to taste with salt.

Ladle hot soup into bowls. Top each with some of the florets and drizzle with the brown butter. Sprinkle with fresh-ground pepper and herbs. Serves 4 to 6
TIDBITS
Although coney dogs were invented in Michigan (no, not in New York at Coney Island), we have a coney tradition here in Ohio, too. Maybe the sauce oozed over the border in the early days of coney dogdom.

I had one of the best local examples of the genre last week when a friend brought me two dogs from Lucky Dog in Hubbard. She stopped here on her way back from Youngstown just to prove that her favorite dogs are better than my favorite dogs.

I agree. Lucky’s makes a fabulous coney dog. The grayish-brown sauce of finely ground beef has a mysterious but wonderful flavor that I chalk up to lard (probably) and allspice, cloves and a wee hint of cinnamon (maybe). In the finish I detected a trace of heat. I’m not sure about any of this, but the dogs were great. I ate them both, destroying the evidence so Tony wouldn’t know I stole his.

The previous week I had treated my friend to chili-cheese dogs from The Hotdog Shoppe in East Liverpool, boasting that they’re  the best in the state. They are indeed fab but let’s be clear: Chili dogs are not coney dogs. Coney sauce usually doesn’t contain tomatoes, and certainly no chili seasonings such as cumin.

Now I’m in a coney dog state of mind. Anyone know of a great local coney dog (not your aunt’s) I can buy? I need a fix until I can get to Lucky Dog, which my friend tells me is mostly a drive-through that also serves downhome Hungarian foods such as chicken paprikas and cabbage rolls. If you go (here’s a map: http://www.restaurant.com/lucky-dogs-hot-dog-shoppe-hubbard-pid=208990), bring me back a couple of coneys.
THE MAILBOX
From Joanne:
Do you have a favorite recipe for broccoli cheese soup made in a Crock Pot? Every recipe I look at is different — different cheeses, canned milk versus half and half, or using water instead of chicken stock. Thanks for your help.

Dear Joanne: Broccoli cheese soup is not a favorite so I can’t help you. Maybe I just haven’t tried the right recipe. I hope someone will provide it after seeing your request.

From Leslie Pavelka:
Your recipe for Katsudon sounds interesting but I searched in vain for the vegetable component.  What veggies would you suggest and are they stir-fried or what?  Apologies if the information is there and I overlooked it — been known to happen.

Dear Leslie: Uh oh. I’m sorry, but vegetables are not part of the recipe. I wrote that part before I looked at my testing notes. Others do use vegetables in katsudon, though – par-cooked carrots, snow peas, asparagus, green beans or whatever. If you like, add them to the broth, cover and simmer until tender before adding the meat.

Please note: If your email address changes, you must re-subscribe to my newsletter in order to continue receiving it. We are unable to change the address for you in  our email list. The procedure is easy. Just click on the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of a newsletter.  Then go to  http://www.janesnowtoday.com, to sign up under your new address. Thank you.

Please tell your friends about my blog site (https://janesnowtoday.wordpress.com/ ), where you can find not only each week’s newsletter but archives of past newsletters.