Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chain Letter Cooking

Hyde Park, CHICAGO.

What?  I actually said "yes" to one of those send-a-recipe, receive-a-thousand chain letters?

Yes, but only because it was sent by my sister-in-law (who sent it only because it was sent by a dear friend);  but it's been wonderful!  Who would have guessed?

And since it's Fred's sister (Mary)'s doings, I tried the recipes out in Chicago.

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012.

Fred & Carel
Lucy (and Bella, newly arrived from Guadalajara)
Alex & Hanna

Steve, newly arrived from Istanbul
                  Carel, Lucy and Steve-from-Istanbul
                           Hanna, Alex and Fred

That famous Slow-Cooker BBQ Pork *Chain Letter Recipe
Fresh tomatoes with olive oil 
Sesame Buns and Baguette
3 Beers from Alex & Hanna's Xmas taster gift:
 We did a tasting, and all 3 won.  
The CASCO BAY Riptide was rich tasting while in the mouth; 
The CASCO BAY Brown Ale went to the throat and left a full-bodied after-taste.  
The SWEETWATER IPA was similar to Two Brothers Bitter End, our house favorite, because it had that rose-water finish.  It may even be better than Bitter End...look for it!: "The Better End."
      (THANKS, Alex and Hanna!) 

UPDATE:  Hanna and Alex just dropped off a Beer Testers manual-ette from 33Beers.com, so stay tuned for more scientific and more eloquent beer lingo:

          Hanna with Alex and Fred taste-toasting.
Pumpkin Pudding *Chain Letter Recipe

Bella.  (Newly arrived from Guadalajara.  With papers.)

Here's what Shelby contributed (via Nancy in Vienna)

"If you have a crock pot slice up an onion, throw it in along with a pork
shoulder (bone in ok) or rump about 3 to 5 lbs. Dump 3/4 of a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce on top reserving a little for later, and 1/4cup cider vinegar. Cook on low for 8 hours. Discard bone, and shred meat with two forks, this should be very easy. Serve on kaiser roll or hamburger bun with shredded cabbage and extra sauce if you like. A real crowd pleaser!"

The above is pretty much what I did, starting with a 5.15 lb. bone-in shoulder roast.  Just enough for us with a dinner or two left-over.

I used the sauces that were in the pantry.  Be sure you  cover the roast or go up to the top of the pot. 
I used rice vinegar.  Any will do.

Nothing in pot; add onions; add salt and peppered meat; add BBQ sauce and vinegar. 

Cover and cook. (I ended up adding lots more salt to my plate at the end.)

The temp gauge on our crock pot has fallen off, but I think it was set on high.  Anyway, because I didn't arrive in Chicago till late last night and thus didn't get back from the market till 11 a.m., 8 hours was not going to happen.  So, at 4 p.m. I just knew that the meat needed more time.   (You do the math.)

So I put the roast in a roasting pot and the pot in the oven at 350, uncovered for an hour.  

Next time: cook overnight for 8-10 hours on low, then chill during the day.  OR cook 8-10 hours during the day, chill overnight.  

All -star as it was, I'm sure this is a second-day sort of recipe.

FINALLY: (when hot) Pull into shreds with a fork and knife. Serve on rolls with
 The original coleslaw recipe belongs to DAVE, but I tinkered.

The slaw: put in a bowl
Some of each: shredded (packaged) cabbage, carrots, and broccoli. 5 cups?
1 bunch green onions, white and some green parts, chopped
1 very small red onion, chopped
1 dill picked, chopped

The dressing: mix together then add to the slaw

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons dill pickle juice

2 tablespoons vinegar (red wine is good)

2 tablespoons dijon style mustard

1/2 cup white sugar

1 pinch cayenne pepper

1 good teaspoon salt (I added more later)

1 clove garlic, smashed

Next time: add poppy seeds and definitely make the night before so it softens up.

This was sent by Leslie from Rhode Island.  
 Coolwhip thawed, in blue bowl

1 can pumpkin (should be 1+ pounds)
1 large package Jello Instant Vanilla Pudding
1 container of Cool Whip, thawed
Nutmeg to taste

In a large bowl, combine the canned pumpkin and the vanilla pudding; fold in Cool Whip. Season with nutmeg to taste. 

I followed her recipe as best I could.  I used 2 regular pkgs of pudding mix, 3/4 of a large can of pumpkin, non fat Coolwhip, and about 1/2 tsp of Nutmeg.  

Cool whip+pudding mix+nutmeg in blue bowl

 + pumpkin, with some biscotti on top, in serving dish

Nextime:  I'm putting it in my best pie shell or even a home made graham cracker crust and calling it "my pumpkin pie."

Another thought: individual tartlets.  Maybe with bitter-sweet chocolate melted on the bottoms, before putting the whip in.

PS: I may add more Chain Letter Recipes to this post later.
MORAL OF STORY: next time you get one of those letters, do the right thing.

Friday, January 20, 2012

An Aleks & Sharon Shabbat, Yee Ha!

Mather Street, OAKLAND.
             Shabbat, January 20th, 2012

Wonder of Wonders, after how many years in the Outback (14? bets are still open,) Aleks returned (temporarily) from Australia .. and with a lovely bride.  
Welcome, Sharon!

Mather expanded in his warmth like matza balls in chicken soup.  And for one evening, at least, we all felt that the world was on course.  

Lucky Us:


Aleks & Sharon

Alanya & Mike +Selim & Naveed

Rumei & Cyrus +Sandriz



•Roasted, stuffed Chicken Sephardic Aleppo Style

(Manoushe for Rumeli)




Coffee cake,  

Fenton's Swiss Milk Chocolate, 

TJ's Lemon-Ginger Ice Cream

We started with the blessings early, because the boys' pizzas were ready.  

 Aleks demanded Kipot.

                                                                                      Selim joined in

Blessings began:
 Noni lit the candles, 
          Sharon and Mikej reached for (what on earth are you reaching for?)

We covered our eyes to bless the emergent new, and let the old week slip away.

The Dutiful daughters covered their faces to await the Sabbath Queen;  the guys just watched.

Naveed blessed everything: candles, wine and challah. 

          Dreese ran off with his cup of wine..

Between The Blessings and The Chicken came The Jokes.

Why wasn’t the duck’s bill 12 inches long?
A: Because then it would be a foot.

Knock Knock
Us: who’s there
Naveed: Queen
Us: Queen who?
Naveed: When are you gonna queen your room?

           So there was this Jewish lady who felt she needed to make a trip to Tibet to ask something of one of the spiritual leaders there.  When the urge got so strong that she couldn’t stop herself, she managed to go:  by plane to Delhi, by Train to Tibet, by foot up to the mountain top abode of the sage.  When she arrived, she was finally able to ask her question: 
          “So, Doovid, tell me, when are you going to cut out all this nonsense and come home?”

And finally we ATE:
Aleppo Roast Chicken, Sephardic Style
from Aromas of Aleppo, The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews.

This was pretty damn good, but could have been moister. 
The few changes I would make are noted.
(I made 2 chickens, but one large one would have been enough,  You’ll understand when you see the stuffing.)
Recipe here is for 1 lg chicken.

•1 lg chicken overnight (or 2 hrs out of the frig) in a plastic bag
in a marinade of
•4 lg cloves of garlic
•1 heaping tsp cardamom
•1 heaping tsp paprika
•1 heaping tsp nutmeg
•1 Tb Kosher salt
•1/3c veg, oil

[new addition] When you take the chickens out of the bag, •pour some oil or chicken broth into the bag to make some basting sauce.

Make stuffing (I did this the night before, too)

•1 cup short grain rice (any rice is ok)
parboil in ½ c water til water is absorbed.  about 5 minutes

• 1½ cups toasted nuts: ca ½ c each
            • pistachios
            • blanched  sliced almonds
            • pine nuts
 Freshly toasted, then mixed together, nuts.
Yes, this stuffing is heavy on the nuts.

•1 heaping tsp allspice
• ¾ tsp cinnamon

• 1 lb ground beef or lamb (I used half pound of each.  Don't get lean meat.)

Mix the above with your hands and set aside until ready (in refrigerator if ready = tomorrow.)

When ready to cook,  Preheat oven to 400.
Stuff chicken loosely with meat.

Place remaining meat in a pile next to the chicken in the pan.. loosen the meat with a fork.

• pour ½ c instant chicken broth over the meat-stuffing.  Cover stuffing loosely with tin foil

Bake for 10 min on high.  Lower temp to 350 and cook for 45 minutes, basting with flavored oil or broth.  

Remove tin foil and loosen meat again with a fork.  Add some broth to it if it looks dry.  Re-cover, loosely. 

Continue baking and basting for another half hour or until chicken is done.  
(to find out if it's done, ask Cyrus to put a meat thermometer in it.  (or just cut into the thigh.)

Ours was 175 degrees.  Cyrus said 165 degrees would have been fine.) 

Have Cyrus (or someone who knows how) Carve.  

Place carved chicken over or with stuffings (from inside & outside the roast.)

In no particular amounts, chop
• Persian Cucumbers
• Scallions
• Fresh Mint
• Fresh Basil
• Fresh Cilantro
• Fresh Parsley
and combine with some
• Butter lettuce
• Arugula
• Spinach leaves

The herbs should dominate.

• Toasted Pita bread pieces.

Sprinkle with lots of • Sumac.
Toss with your hands.
Add dressing of • lemon juice and • olive oil
Toss again.    Mikej report: Leftovers are fine the next day for breakfast.

At Dessert we celebrated Cyrus's 35th. 
Dreese gave Dad the Thumbs UP!


Selim balances..
Dreese contemplates

Rumeli smiles at Dreese

Aleks.. with Sharon and Carel smiles( the next day)(above) and smiles here, on the Mather St. Living Room Couch.

Monday, January 16, 2012

2012 Begins with Sara + Zatar

Mather Street, OAKLAND.

I begin this year's blog with a little  lunch with/for Sara. 

Never having met me, she still arrived fully open and full of generosity to share her personal and family stories of return to Anatolia.  

Lucky Me!  The year is now officially started.

Here she is, looking like her Mother, contemplating a house in her Mother's Mother's village.  The whole family visited and found her grandmother's house, too.  The current owner invited them in to view the view they had heard about; the view of the orchard from the inside windows.

Here's what we ate:

Onion and Butternut Squash Pizza with Rosemary or ZATAR.
Rumeli's Black Beans with 
       Avocado, Lebne (Greek Yogurt) •& Coconut Lebne, (Damn, I forgot to buy Cilantro.)
Coconut Basmati Rice
•Garbanzo Salad with fresh Lemon and Parmesan
•Dessert?  Oh, damn, I forgot that, too.

Onion and Butternut Squash Pizza

For each (10") pizza

•1 cup thinly sliced onion (1med. onion red or white)
1/2 butternut squash - peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
            mix these in a bowl with
1-2 Tb dry rosemary  (fresh if you have it; but not powdered) OR
1-2 Tb Zatar
I made two pizzas, Rosemary for Sara, Zatar when the family showed up hungry. 

Olive oil… about ¼ cup
salt and black pepper to taste
Pizza dough or premaide pizza crust.
2 tablespoons grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese. Cheese is optional, of course.
Lay the onions and squash in a single layer on a cookie tin and bake at 400 till the onion is almost brown.   About 10 minutes

Place on your home-made or TJ's made pizza dough, or, if Alanya has put some in your cabinet, some pre-made whole wheat pizza crusts. Or Boboli. why not?

 Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese.  

If you want to be Vegan, just sprinkle with salt.  

Sprinkle with salt anyway.
Bake till it looks wonderful. Until you can't stand it anymore.

The original recipe comes from HERE

 We hardly talked about food. My god, no recipes?   Honestly, having read Sara's father's mother's story, how could we eat?  

But we could eat, because her grandparents survived.  Her father's mother, Vergeen, had not only survived, she survived to sing songs to her children.  Her son sang her songs when he returned to her village.

(Here is her paternal grandmother's story)
(her maternal grandmother has another story.)

So we dug into the beans.

Rumeli’s Unbelievably Good Black Beans

for each can of organic black beans (including their juice) use approximately the following. 

2 lg garlic cloves
1 Tsp-1 Tb olive oil
1 ½  tsp cinnamon
1  ½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp cayenne or chili powder or Aleppo pepper
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup brown sugar

Fry the garlic and spices in the oil for a second or two to take the edge off the rawness of the garlic and to let the spices bloom.

Add the beans and liquid and the brown sugar.

Cook till the flavors meld.   We usually use about 4 cans of beans, in which case you can simmer over the lowest fire for an hour. 

So: not spicy enough?  fry some more spices and garlic and stir in.
TOO much flavor (hard to imagine) add another can of beans (or something. a potato?)

 The original recipe comes from HERE.

  Make Basmati rice using coconut milk or coconut cream.  I used 2 cups of rice, 1 can of coconut cream (UNSHAKEN so I could take about 2 TB of the cream off the top and mix it into some yogurt) and another can of water.  But coconut milk would be fine.  The rice was far too sticky, but wonderfully good.
Strained (“Greek”) Yogurt
Strained (“Greek”) Yogurt mixed with some of the coconut cream from the can of coconut cream.  If you are using coconut milk for your rice, then you are out of luck.

Sara made me feel the parallels between Armenian and Native American stories and experiences, their loss of justice and their sense of where they might belong.
Here is one link that Sara sent:
 Want more? Ask.

OH, and don't forget the salad!  
Chickpea Salad with Lemon and Parmesan

This is so good you won’t want to share it.  But taste and add salt even though you just grated Parmesan all over it.

1 can chickpeas,  drained and rinsed

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. olive oil

A pinch of salt

1⁄4 cup loosely packed shredded Parmigiano Reggiano

more salt

Combine and stir gently.

Serve immediately, or chill, covered, until serving.

To add color, serve with some arugula.

Yes, you can make it in advance.
The original recipe comes from HERE.

I feel that I have entered Sara's family story.  I hope to honor it as I write the book. (stay tuned.) (Eat while tuning.)

To set the record straight, though,  we had a wonderful time ----yakking about families, which are always, in the end, well, the best entertainment.

On cue, my family showed up ready for leftovers and therapeutic massages from Sharon Pelle.  Our respect for (ok, need for) these massages felt good to Sara who is a massage therapist.  Who woulda' thought?

 Selim and Sandriz
 Alanya and Naveed
 Mikej and Leftovers
 Naveed and Rumeli's foot. 
(Naveed is a Massage Therapist Intern.)
So, we landed on our feet.