April 22, 2008

Matzoh (Recipe: my dad's famous matzoh brei) {vegetarian}

An updated post from the archives, with new photos.


My father, like all dads of the 1950s, mastered a couple of pieces of cooking equipment and had his special dishes that he produced on holidays, and on demand.

With the aid of a charcoal kettle grill in the back yard, he made the world's best lamb chops. In the electric frying pan, on Sunday mornings, he would make Spit in the Ocean, or another weird concoction that involved slices of bologna or salami floating in a sea of scrambled eggs. If that dish had a name, I've repressed it.

Every year in the Spring, my father did his best work, with a straight-sided covered sauté pan, a large melamine mixing bowl ... and his hands. Spring meant Passover, which meant matzoh, which meant matzoh brei. We ate this only once a year. And my dad was the matzoh brei king.

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January 29, 2008

Dried mushrooms (Recipe: potato and mushroom soup)


A few Junes ago, Ted was mowing the occasional blades of grass in our lawn.

Along the edge of the woods, underneath the oak trees, he spotted a couple of oddly shaped mushrooms. Are they morels, he wondered?

Oh, yes, they were morels. And the more we looked, the more we found.

Two quarts of morels!

Have I told you that our land was once used by a charcoal maker? He was known as "The Indian," because he was a member of the Narragansett tribe that has its roots here in Rhode Island. (Nobody we know remembers his name.) There are large concrete platforms buried beneath our grass; on those platforms, more than forty years ago, The Indian burned wood into charcoal. A mushroom forager told us that the residual ash in our lawn creates a happy environment for morels.

I noted the date on the calendar, and the following year, with anticipation -- and with recipes in mind -- we hunted and hunted, but didn't find a single morel. The year after that, just a handful. Last year, none.

We should have dried our harvest that first year.

Dried mushrooms I've purchased from farmers and farm stands in France (cepes) and in the Pacific Northwest (mixed morels, chanterelles and porcini) have kept for more than two years in tightly-sealed glass jars in my pantry, with no significant loss of quality.

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December 13, 2007

Kasha/buckwheat groats (Recipe: kasha varnishkes)

The house is almost back in order after last weekend's Drop In & Decorate Cookies for Donation. I'm gathering some photos to share with you this weekend, so please enjoy one more post, and a slightly updated seasonal recipe, from The Perfect Pantry archives.


This week, our cooking group "traveled" to western Russia, with recipes from Moldavia, Byelorussia (aka "White Russia"), and Georgia. And, though most of the recipes were new to me, I included one from my own family's heritage: kasha varnishkes.

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December 4, 2007

All-purpose flour (Recipe: sweet potato latkes) {vegetarian}

Updated December 2011.


For the most part, I don't believe in "one size fits all," because I am a size and shape that one size never seems to fit.

And while in my pantry I have half a dozen types of flour -- surprising, given that I'm a notorious bake-o-phobe -- the one I reach for more often than not is "one size fits all," also known as all-purpose flour.

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December 12, 2006

Peppercorns (Recipe: Grandma's beef brisket) {gluten-free}


With apologies to Sesame Street (go ahead and sing along — you know the tune):

Three of these things belong together,
Three of these things are kind of the same.
Can you guess which peppercorn is not a pepper,
Even though it has the same name?

If you guessed pink, you're a star! Black, white and green peppercorns are all fruit of the same plant (Piper nigrum), picked at different stages and processed in different ways. Pink peppercorns are the fruit of Schinus terebinthifolius, cultivated only since the 1980s.

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