Loaves & Dishes
By Jennie Geisler Erie Times-News staff blogger
Follow Jennie Geisler's kitchen adventures on her Loaves & Dishes blog.   Read more about this blog.
 Phone: 814-870-1885
Archive for August, 2011
Posted: August 31st, 2011

My morning's work. You'll notice the one on the top right has been "tested."

While running errands Monday, I passed a roadside stand packed with peaches. I could not resist pulling over and picking a peck. Knowing I had a few days off to play in the kitchen, my mind went into overdrive. I ate one peach on the way home, just to try the merchandise — luscious. When I got there, first I wiped down my face, the steering wheel, changed my shirt and commenced making a peach pie.
I ate a few more plain and this morning I made 12 jelly jars of jam. I froze most of it, but did dig out the canner to put up a a couple of jars for gifts. It was my first experience working with regular pectin. Found it’s nothing to be afraid of.
The peaches were absolutely perfect and it was difficult not to eat the star ingredient while I was cooking.
There are 4 peaches left in the kitchen, peeled and ready for me to get back in there and make a small crisp for dinner. I mean for after dinner.
Here’s the pie recipe I used from “Joy of Cooking.” When I make it again, I’ll add 3/4 cup sugar instead of 1/2.
Peach Pie
Pastry for double crust pie
2 1/2 pounds peaches, peeled, pitted and peeled. (To peel, drop the peaches in boiling water for one minute. Scoop them out, let them cool and slip off the skin.)
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
3 to 3 1/2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca or cornstarch.
3 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional. I didn’t use it.)
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter in small pieces
Milk or cream for brushing over top crust before baking

2 teaspoons sugar for sprinkling over top crust before baking.
1. Keep the pastry cold while preparing filling.
2. Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
3. Slice peaches into 1/4-inch pieces. Stir with sugar, tapioca or cornstarch, lemon juice, extract if using, salt.
4. Let stand for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Meanwhile, remove the pastry from the refrigerator. Trim the bottom crust overhang to 3/4 inches.
6. Fill crust with peach mixture. Brush the overhanging crust lightly with water. Cover the pie with the top crust, seal and flute the bottom crust to the top crust. Cut steam vents in the top crust. Brush with milk or cream and sprinkle with sugar.
7. Bake the pie for 30 minutes. Slip a baking sheet under the pie, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until thick juices bubble through the vents, 25 to 35 minutes more.
8. Let cool completely on a rack before serving.
adapted from Joy of Cooking

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 24th, 2011

Squashed under summer squash? Try Italian Squash Pie.

Summer squash is upon us. Literally. We’re buried in it. The crisper drawers of gardeners, family members, friends, co-workers are packed. Piles of the prolific veggies are sitting on counters, back porches, hiding under the vine leaves until they’re as big as baseball bats — and you can only make so much zucchini bread.
This caught my eye. My boss hates squash, so I don’t inflict it on him by cooking it for work, but my husband does not hate squash and I plan to inflict this on him as soon as I myself have come into riches of donated crookneck, promised tomorrow.

1 (8-ounce) can refrigerated crescent rolls
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 pounds yellow squash (about 4 cups), thinly sliced, see note
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
Garnishes: fresh oregano sprigs, sliced yellow squash

1. Unroll crescent rolls; press dough on bottom and up sides of a 10-inch
tart pan, pressing to seal perforations.
2. Bake at 375F for 6 minutes or until lightly browned. Gently press crust
down with a wooden spoon. Spread crust with mustard, and set aside.
3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash, onion,
and garlic; sauté 7 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat; stir in
parsley and next 5 ingredients.
4. Whisk together eggs and milk in a large bowl; stir in cheese and
vegetable mixture. Pour over crust.
5. Bake at 375F for 20 to 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in center
comes out clean. Garnish, if desired. Makes 6 servings.
Note: 1 1/2 pounds zucchini may be substituted for yellow squash.
Recipe Du Jour

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 23rd, 2011

No-Cook Tomato Sauce from Fine Cooking magazine packs a lot of flavor into very little hassle.

I get a bunch of food magazines. Not as many as I’d like, but probably as many as I can handle. Oh, one or two more wouldn’t hurt.
I found a new one yesterday that I never again want to live without. It’s called Fine Cooking. I nearly threw it away thinking it was too high-brow for my purposes. But I decided to breeze through it anyway. As it turns out, the title belies the simple beauty of the recipes inside. Of course there were some that made me roll my eyes, but I found three that deserved my attention. That’s a lot out of one magazine.
Two of them made the future roster for Loaves & Dishes: Plum cobbler and Broiled Tomatoes With Asiago.
Then there was this one for No-Cook Tomato Sauce, which didn’t make the cut simply because it was so simple I thought it would be hard to write a whole column about.
But it’s also the one I’m most likely to use in the very near future. Like within 24 hours.
1/4 cup tightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 smashed medium clove garlic
1 seeded small hot red chile pepper, such as Fresno, Serrano or jalapeno
2 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt to taste

1. Combine parsley, garlic and chile pepper on a cutting board. Mince together and transfer to a medium bowl.
2. Add tomatoes and olive oil with the parsley mixture. Season with salt.
Makes 4 cups

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 22nd, 2011

This is kind of what my bean pot looks like, but it has a stainless steel electric base that lets me cook the beans on the counter rather than in the oven.

A friend and I recently left the kids with their dads and sneaked off to check out a few new consignment shops near her home in Malvern, Ohio. We had a blast pointing at and picking things up, cooing about their coolness and trying desperately to hang onto our self-control in the midst of such temptation.
I was cruising along through crafty decor and heart-breakingly soft alpaca-woven hats and socks.
Then I hit the kitchen stuff. I found a glass lemon juicer just like the one I’ve coveted from my mother’s cupboard. $6 well spent.
That broke the seal, I guess, because I also bought the next gadget that caught my eye: A newer fashioned bean pot. While most bean pots are made to go into the oven, and I could use mine that way, this one came with an electric base that heats up a ceramic crock. The bean pot was given as a gift to someone in 1967, according to an inscription in the instruction booklet. The fired-ceramic crock was a gleaming , spotless dark brown, heavy for its size and the base was in good working order. It was just $15 and I was pretty sure I’d never see another one for that price. The fact that I already own Crock Pots in two sizes didn’t even enter my mind as, I proudly picked it up and carried it home.
I couldn’t wait to get home and make baked beans. I finally tried it this weekend. It took about 18 hours to get the beans to the right texture, but eventually they were really good.
Here’s the recipe I used. I’m sure it would work just as well in a slow cooker.
2 cups dried navy beans
5 cups water
1/4 pound salt pork, diced (I used bacon. I don’t know where to get salt pork.)
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup ketchup (my addition)

1. Wash the beans and put them in a 2-quart pot with the water, salt pork (or bacon) and onion. Make sure at least some of the salt pork is buried in the beans.
2. Turn on the crock and cook at least 9 hours before checking the texture of the beans. Mine actually took about 18 hours to get tender.
3. Drain the beans through a strainer set over a large bowl to reserve water.
4. Stir in rest of ingredients and enough reserved bean water to make the consistency you want.
Note: I put the rest of the ingredients in at 12 hours, and the color wasn’t right. After another 6 hours, though, everything was just right.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 19th, 2011

Today, I plan to release two cookbooks off my desk and into the world. They are an incongruous pair, which makes sense if you know me.

They are:
“Weight Watchers Momentum Cookbook,” a few years old, predating the new Points Plus system, but all the nutrition is there, so you can recalculate the points values. It has good stuff in it, but I don’t use it enough to warrant desk space.

“The Cookiepedia: Mixing Baking and Reinventing the Classics,” by Stacy Adimando. It’s a mid-sized sturdy spiral-bound, kitchen-counter friendly volume. I need this one out of here before I AM tempted to use it.

If you want one or both of the books, send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com. Include your name, address and the name of the book(s) you’re interested in. In a few days, I’ll pick a name at random for each book and pop it in the mail.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 18th, 2011

I gave a big tomato to my neighbor, whose kid plays with my kid. He likes tomatoes. His mom said she did get some of it.

I can’t stop thinking about TOMATOES. Neither can my friend, Sherry. She said she is willing to buy the heirlooms I already have, but I can’t part with them for money. Somehow that sullies their priceless-ness. I’ll be happy to give her … one.
That is, if there are any left when I get home with these ideas in mind:
1. Caprese salad: Tomato slices layered with discs of fresh mozzarella cheese, basil leaves tucked in here and there, extra virgin olive oil, sprinkling of salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar
2. Open-faced tomato sandwich (per Sherry): English muffin half, smear of Hellman’s, slice of tomato, sprinkle of salt.
3. Best bagel ever: Bagel half, cream cheese, tomato slice, salt and pepper to taste, thin slice of red onion
4. Heaven in a bowl: Tomato wedges tossed with extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh chopped oregano, feta cheese.
5. At-your-desk hors d’oeuvre: Triscuit, Laughing Cow cheese spread, cherry tomato half.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 17th, 2011

Fresh tomato soup is only as good as the cook, which last night was not very.

That tomato soup I wrote about yesterday did indeed make it to our dinner table, but it hit a few snags. First, my bread was green and fuzzy, which threw off the whole concept of tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches.
But by the time I discovered the fungus, the tomatoes were impatiently waiting in the pot. We did have wheat hot dog buns and whole-grain English muffins. So I made the grilled cheese sandwiches with the muffins.
Then I tried to figure out how many hot dog buns I needed to replace the 4 small slices of bread called for in the soup recipe. Having never made tomato soup before, or at least not that I remembered, I didn’t really know how much it would take. I looked at 4 and that seemed like too many, so I used three.
The minute I stirred the bread chunks into the pan, I knew it was too much. In seconds the “soup” looked like soggy bread. Orange soggy bread.
So instead of the hearty, bright red tangy flavor, we got a thick, light-orange tomato-flavored soggy bread.
It tasted OK, but the texture was just plain spongy. (Whimper.) Live and learn.
We have to eat again tonight, too, though, so I plan to forge ahead with 20-minute Chicken Parmesan (also from www.sparkpeople.com).
Fingers crossed.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 16th, 2011

Fresh tomato soup is calling me home. I think it's an emergency.

I swear I saw a miniature Paul Revere in my garden last night, riding his miniature horse through the tomatoes and screaming at the top of his lungs to alert me to the fact that tomato season is ramping up. We’ve had several already, but now they’re coming 4-6 at a time.
I’m not ready for canning yet. Half my stuff is still buried in the garage after we had to empty our basement to have work done. We’re planning to move the stuff back in pretty soon, but until then, I’ll just have to scramble to use the tomatoes fresh as fast as I can.
Luckily, this will not be difficult. John loves Campbell’s tomato soup, so I’m pretty sure he’d like this tomato soup. It calls for 2 pounds of tomatoes. I probably have at least one that’s 2 pounds all by itself. It looks like we’ll be eating dinner out of bowls tonight, with toasted cheese sandwiches on the side.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 12th, 2011

My salad didn't look nearly as pretty as the one in this photo from allrecipes.com. But I bet it tasted just as good.

I got out of the office briefly yesterday for a visit with Rick and Richard Walker, who run a small tomato and cucumber farm in Edinboro. I went to see what they do for an upcoming story about local produce in supermarkets. At the end of the interview, I finally had to ask the question I’d been wanting to ask the whole time: Could I taste a tomato?
They laughed and gladly handed me a ripe one. There were no knives or plates in the greenhouse, so I just took a bite. I’ll tell you this: It was about 800 times better than anything they can bring in from California.
They got me a few paper towels and I tried to keep the juice from dripping off my chin and onto my shirt.
Miraculously, the shirt survived, which is more than I can say for the tomato.
They also gave me a couple of their English cucumbers, and I gladly hauled one home pondering what to do with it. I had planned to make fresh tomato sauce for pasta last night, but I didn’t really have enough tomatoes, and that would leave the poor cucumber sitting lonely on the counter.
So I headed for allrecipes.com to find a tasty-looking recipe for cucumber, tomato and onion salad. The cucumber’s deep green color had penetrated the flesh, which had a dense flavor, not all watery and white. The tomatoes (mine this time) seemed pleased to be of service. I even used a few of my own onions, which, for some reason, never got bigger than a ping pong ball.
The salad was a hit with my husband, who ate half the batch himself, and it made me feel a lot less guilty about putting that frozen pizza in the oven.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 10th, 2011

Napa cabbage leaves have a thick white stalk in the center that you'll want to remove before making Sherry's Napa Salad.

My friend Sherry has quite the arsenal of party-friendly recipes. Everything she makes is a hit, including chicken wing dip, pasta salad, turkey chili, Amish friendship bread, guacamole, etc. etc.
She has so many it’s hard to choose a favorite, but this one for Nappa Salad is up there somewhere. I could — and have — eat(en) a big plate of this as a meal. It’s crunchy and salty and sweet and tangy and has nutritious stuff in it.
She said when she slices the lettuce, she removes the thick stem from the middle of each leaf before slicing the leaves with a plastic knife.
1 large or 2 small heads napa cabbage
2 bunches green onions (or less)
6 ounces salted sunflower seeds (1 1/2 cups)
4 ounces slivered or sliced almonds (1 1/3 cups)
2 packages Ramen noodles, save seasoning packets for dressing
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
2 packages Ramen noodle seasoning
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons dry mustard

1. Saute seeds, almonds, and crushed noodles in oil until crispy, lightly tanned. Set aside until salad is ready to be served.
2. Remove the stalk in the middle of each cabbage leaf. Chop onion and slice cabbage. Combine in a bowl.
3. For dressing, Combine seasoning, oil, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and dry mustard in a blender. It will be thick. Chill separately until salad is ready to be served.
4. To serve, toss salad together with sunflower seed mixture just before serving. Add sauce and mix together. See note.
Note: If mixed together too early, the salad will be watery.
– Sherry Rieder (via Heidi Sanford)

Posted in: Uncategorized