Vegetable Beef Soup and 60-minute rolls

What is for supper when I’ve used up everything in the produce drawer, the meats in the freezer are too big to thaw quickly, and I have to be at work?  It’s a cold rainy fall day so soup seems in order. But what soup to make with frozen mixed vegetables as the main ingredient? There’s not even a potato in the house!

Building a soup, as my sister says, can be an adventure in creativity.  Here’s what I found to use. I had a half a box of beef broth in the fridge. There were remains of green onions in the produce drawer. I found a bit of ground beef hanging about the fridge freezer. Earlier I had found the ground turkey and mistook it for an Italian sausage, hubby had made sausage and peppers a few weeks before, so it was still in the freezer waiting for a use.

  • Beef broth, enough to cover the ingredients in the crock pot, about 2-4 cups;
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • White ends of two green onions, sliced
  • One garlic clove, minced
  • 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes, these had basil, oregano, and garlic seasonings
  • ¼ pound ground beef
  • ½-3/4  pound ground turkey
  • Fresh herbs, parsley and spicy oregano

I sautéed the onion and garlic with the ground meats until the meats were browned. I used a bit of olive oil in the pan as well. I put this and the rest of the ingredients in the crock pot and covered with the beef broth. I set this on low and let it cook all day.

Sixty minute rolls are a staple from the Fleischmann’s Yeast bread book my Mom gave me eons ago. These are a tasty dinner roll that does not take hours and hours to make.

  • 3 ½ to 4 ½ cups of flour
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 packages yeast; I use instant yeast which is 3 teaspoons plus a scant bit more.
  • 1 cup milk; I did not have milk of any kind in my refrigerator so I opened a can of evaporated milk
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ stick butter  = ¼ cup

Mix 1 ½ cups flour and next three ingredients in the mixer bowl. Heat the milk, water, and butter until very warm (120-130 degrees F). Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Add ½ cup flour and beat at high speed for 2 minutes. Stir in enough additional flour to make soft dough and knead until smooth and elastic. I do all of this in the KitchenAid with the dough hook. Place in greased bowl and cover; let rise 15 minutes.

At this stage I read that that first rise is to be done by placing the dough bowl in a pan of hot water.  This is news to me! I have been making these rolls forever and have never done that. One thing about making bread and knowing how it works, I apparently mostly read the ingredients, skim over the directions, add up the rising and baking times, and just go about the business of baking bread. So this time I did put the bowl in a pan of hot water mainly because it was a cold and rainy day.

After rising, turn dough out on lightly floured board and shape into rolls as you like. The recipe gives directions for Curlicues and Lucky Clovers. I decide on Lucky Clovers. Divide dough into 24 pieces, shape into balls, put in greased muffin tins, cut crosswise into the top of the dough almost to the bottom.

Cover and let rise for another 15 minutes. Bake these in a 425 degree oven about 12 minutes or until done. Remove from pan and cool on wire racks.

Dinner is served!

Flan…or is it cake?

I got the pan for free at the Dump. You know how some municipal dumps have a “free shack” where reasonable items can be donated for others to take at will. This was my prize find along with a Trivia game of facts from the 1940s through the 1990s which proves to me how much I should remember but don’t!

We like flan. Flan is like custard, crème caramel. I find the pan where it had been hiding in my overfull kitchen cabinet. I have these ingredients. I’m making flan. This will be the dessert for the week, not counting the apple pie made 3 days ago which we have since eaten. 

In making the recipe I do wonder about flour and butter in a custard, but forge ahead. I did not separate the eggs very well so there are two whole eggs with one egg yolk. Otherwise all is as is printed on the pan.

This is a light sponge-y cake. I look up flan on the internet and find some pictures of this pan since the title of the pan is Nordic Flan Pan. But flan is custard. Or cake with custard.  This pan and cake are designed to be topped with fruit, custard, ice cream, etc. I sprinkle this one with powdered sugar for the first taste. The second slices are topped with jam and marmalade. It’s a nice light dessert, but it is not flan!

Soulard Veggie Stew, my way

We got gifted fresh garden vegetables and then got the weekly produce delivery. There were lots of tomatoes and some were eaten in salads and on sandwiches. A big hearty thank you to all the gardeners out there!

Soups and stews are an easy way to use up vegetables. I went through my handy-dandy Soulard Market Cookbook and found a veggie stew. This sounded good so this was the plan for the weekend, along with home baked crusty bread. For the bread I am making a French baguette.

For those interested, Soulard Market is St. Louis’ oldest public farmer’s market operating since 1799. It is a fabulous place to visit on Saturday mornings when visiting family in the area.

Basically vegetable soup can use any vegetables you have hanging about. For this recipe I substituted okra for the eggplant, added a green pepper, used veggie broth for the water, omitted the tomato paste and brown sugar. I used several hefty shakes of a dried Italian seasoning since my basil plant is pretty much useless.

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 2 carrots, cut in rounds
  • 3 okra, sliced in rounds
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 small green pepper, diced
  • 2 shakes of salt
  • several hefty shakes of Italian seasoning
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups, or thereabouts, chopped tomatoes,
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 4-5 quartered tomatillos
  • about 1 cup broccoli flowerets
  • 2 cups vegetable broth

First sauté a Mirepoix of the onion, one carrot, celery, garlic, and bell pepper in a bit of olive oil for about 8 minutes. I chose to cook this soup in a crockpot so I added the potatoes and the other carrot to the pot first. Add the Mirepoix and the other vegetables ending with the zucchini and the broccoli. Add seasonings. Add 2 cups of vegetable broth. Cook on low for 7-8 hours. Very nice soup!

(The original recipe instructs to put all vegetables except zucchini and broccoli in a large Dutch oven with the seasonings and liquid and bring to a boil. Then reduce to simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Then add the zucchini and broccoli, a can of tomato paste and 2 Tablespoons brown sugar and cook until broccoli is tender.)

More custard, with fall flavors

This recipe is adapted from the Eating Well Magazine print edition Fall 2002.

Maple-Pumpkin Custards with Crystallized Ginger

  • 1 1/2 cups milk; I used half-and-half
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree; freeze the remaining puree for later use.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • whipped cream and crystallized ginger to serve

For this custard a bain marie is used so put the kettle on to boil. I did not line the roasting pan with a towel, nor did I heat the milk to steaming.

Whisk eggs and syrup until smooth. Add the milk or half-and-half, pumpkin puree, spices and salt. Whisk until blended. Divide between 6 custard cups or ramekins and place in the roasting pan. Pour boiling water to half-way up the sides of the custard cups. Bake at 325 degrees F for 45-50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes. Then refrigerate for at least one hour.

This was absolutely delicious. The texture was a combination of pudding and custard in my opinion.

Baking weekend: lemon snack cake

I wanted to make a lemon cake. I wanted to make a lemon cake with fluffy coconut frosting. I wanted to bake something. The grandkids were coming so I wanted something fun so I baked an ordinary banana muffin recipe in the “bug pan”.

Then I got out the snack cake recipe. I’ve made different versions before, https://mykitchenmythoughts.com/2019/06/20/snack-cakes/.

I figured I could make it lemon although that is not one of the options given. Would white sugar be okay instead of brown sugar? I just gave it a go.

So for the lemon cake I substituted all white sugar for the brown sugar. I added 1 teaspoon of lemon flavoring and one teaspoon of lemon zest. I added a few tablespoons of lemon juice to the water, still equal to 1 cup.

  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon flavoring
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup water, add 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice to measuring cup then fill to 1 cup with water
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Spray an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray or brush with oil. I sprinkled unsweetened coconut flakes on top before putting it in the oven at 350 degrees F. Bake 35-40 minutes.

Looks a paler yellow in real life!

It worked; a moist lemony cake.

Not just another lemon chicken

Hubby has been retired for a couple years now and has “taken over my kitchen!” He does most of the grocery shopping and cooking of weekday meals. At times I miss the planning and prepping for our meals but am also grateful that it does not all fall on me when I come home from work. I am still in charge of the baking and desserts but it is summer and usually much too hot to bake.

This recipe is adapted, but not too much, from Eating Well via my local newspaper’s Flavor section that comes weekly wrapped around all the ads for the grocery stores and more. I look through this for any interesting tidbits about food, wine, and cooking. I read this recipe and realized I had the ingredients, mostly, and chose a weekend day to cook. And had fun doing so.

First gather the ingredients. And chop and mince as directed. And cook the rice.

  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil and more
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or thereabouts
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • generous pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 bag of frozen spinach
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice; I used Jasmine rice.
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice and more

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 2 8×8-inch baking pans with oil or cooking spray. One of these will be frozen. Two meals are gotten out of this cooking episode.

Put oil in a skillet and brown the chicken on both sides. Put on plate and set aside. Pour off all but one tablespoon of fat from the pan.

Add a little bit of oil and the onions with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook until golden and soft. Stir in spices and cook 2-3 minutes more, stirring. Put on a plate and set aside.

Add spinach to pan and cook until no longer frozen. Then add lemon juice, the remaining salt, and half the onions. Oh, and add the rice and cook and stir until rice is completely coated, about 5 minutes. This has a wonderful aroma and beautiful color.

Divide the rice mixture between the two prepared pans. Top each half with 4 chicken thighs and then the rest of the onions. You will cover one pan with foil and freeze and the other also with foil but to bake.

So at this point I looked at the chicken and was concerned that I did not brown them sufficiently. So I added a touch of oil back into the skillet and browned the chicken again. Then there were nice browned bits on the pan so I deglazed the skillet with additional lemon juice and then poured this “lemon gravy” on top of the chicken in the square pans. Then wrapped one in foil and stuck it in the freezer to be used within one month or so. At that time it is to be thawed overnight in the refrigerator and about 10 minutes added to the baking time.

Bake the other pan at 375 for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake 5-10 minutes longer. A thermometer stuck in the chicken should register 165 degrees F.

Reviewing this recipe makes me realize it is more fussy with the various “setting asides” and the numerous spices, than I usually go for but this was absolutely delicious and worth it.

Custard

A while back I made custard. I read recipes in my newsfeed and I am not sure where this one originated. The writer talked about adding salt to prevent chewy custard and insure creamy. I’m not sure what chewy custard is like. But what struck me most was that the ratio of cream to eggs is what I have always used to make quiche that Hubby raves about. Taking that into account I was inspired to make custard.

  • 2 cups half-and-half or cow’s milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground nutmeg

Basically it is milk and eggs and sugar. For quiche omit sugar and add vegetables and meat, and cheese if desired. No need for a crust actually. Preheat the oven with a cookie sheet pan to 350 degrees F.

Beat eggs slightly with the salt then whisk in the milk, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Pour into four custard cups/Pyrex/ramekins. Sprinkle with generous amounts of freshly grated nutmeg. Bake in the oven on the cookie sheet pan for 30-35 minutes. It may be slightly wobbly but that’s okay. No need for a bain marie. I was thinking I don’t bake custard pies in a bain marie so let’s see about custard. We ate the custard before I remembered to take a photo.

Crème Caramel

The above picture is the second batch of custard made. This recipe is very easy to halve. For this I made the quick caramel by melting 1/4 cup sugar in a small sauce pan and pouring a bit into each of the four cups before adding the custard mixture. I reduced the vanilla and omitted the nutmeg. A full recipe of the custard would have more depth. But this was a lovely bite of dessert.

potato salad

A week or so ago Hubby was planning to make his mom’s potato salad but found he only had potatoes from the ingredient list. So now I decide to make potato salad and look into the Soulard Market cookbook and find Bevo German Potato alad. Well, I am not cooking 5 pounds of potatoes and really do not want 1 1/2 cups of sugar either. I am adding green beans, just for fun. Here is my version of Green and White Potato Salad!

(I am slicing all of the vegetables with my handy-dandy Rapid Prep Mandoline from Pampered Chef. I try to support my daughter’s business efforts. I like slicing and chopping by hand but this is a cool tool.)

  • about 3 pounds of potatoes, sliced and cooked
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced thin
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 1-2 cups frozen green beans, throw in the pot with the potatoes when the potatoes are almost cooked
  • 3 ribs of celery, sliced thin
  • handful of fresh parsley, my herb garden is not exactly flourishing but hasn’t died!
  • handful of bacon, fried, and made into bits
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste

I have not cooked potatoes for ages so am not exactly sure how long to cook nor when they are actually done. I buy bacon ends and pieces so that is what I used. Be sure to save the drippings.

Slice all the vegetables except the green beans. Put the sugar, cider, water and bacon drippings into a small sauce pan, whisk, and boil. The original recipe called for flour and reducing this to the consistency of a white sauce. I did not do this. I just boiled it for about 5 minutes.

Put all vegetable in bowl. Toss with the salad dressing. I sliced the potatoes too thin so have a little bit of mush when tossing. But the dressing tastes yummy!

We are having this with barbecued ribs. Happy Father’s Day to all fathers and father-like figures.

Guinness Stew with Puff Pastry

Hubby and I were watching some obscure British tv show from the 70s or 80s and one of the characters made reference to marinating beef in Guinness overnight for a steak and kidney pie. We looked at each other, put the TV show on pause, and started brainstorming a Guinness Stew. For some reason Hubby added that it needed puff pastry; so we were really talking about a beef pot pie. He was thinking of Beef Wellington. He traipsed off to the grocery store the next day to get potatoes as that was the only thing we did not have on hand. Here’s the result:

Please don’t look at the less than pristine clean stove!

First, I have beef stew meat in the house thanks to my neighbor who overbought on her meat delivery system. I did send the Hubby out to look for frozen puff pastry when he bought potatoes but since we go to the discount grocery stores there was none to be found. Hubby is concerned, as am I, that it could be considered a waste of good beer to put too much Guinness in the stew. And I needed to decide whether or not to marinade the stew meat.

  • 2 pounds stew meat, already cut into chunks; I chose not to marinade this.
  • approximately 1/2 cup flour for divided use
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fine Herbs
  • 2 large red potatoes, scrubbed with skin on
  • 1 large onion
  • 3-4 medium carrots; I had one large one and two medium
  • 1 garlic clove
  • about two cups beef broth
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) Guinness stout, divided use
  • oil for the pan; we use olive oil
  • one sheet Puff Pastry; for some reason I decided to make the real thing by hand!

Chop the vegetables and mince the garlic in large bite size pieces. The exact amount of vegetables is not important in stews and soups. More can be added for large families. Dredge the stew meat in about 1/4 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Put oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet and brown the meat. Stir this around a bit to get all or most sides. Add the vegetables and 1/2 the can of Guinness. Pour other half of beer into glass and serve to Hubby. Add the beef broth to the pot along with the Fine Herbs unless you thought in advance to mix the herbs with the flour that dredged the beef. At this time rinse the beer can and add that water to the pot. Why not? Add more broth or water to almost cover the stew mixture. Stir this and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer for 45 minutes or so. Test the carrot for doneness. Mix the rest of the flour with a bit of cold tap water and stir into the stew. This will thicken the stew and you can use more flour for a thicker broth.

Prior to all this I made Puff Pastry using Jacques Pepin’s recipe for the real thing. This is not a rough puff. This is three cups (one pound flour) and one pound butter. The only thing else is ice water and a little salt. This is made with four turns of the dough which I may have miscounted and done five. This will give your upper arms a work out rolling this stuff out so many times. But look at the layers!

When the stew was complete and the puff pastry had rested in the refrigerator for an hour, I turned the stew out into a casserole dish. Actually Hubby did this as I sometimes have difficulty picking up heavy objects on occasion. Getting older is not just getting wiser. It also means recognizing that one does not always have the capability of one’s youth, and it is nice to have a partner.

I rolled one-third of the pastry into a rectangle. This was a bit of work so the resulting rectangle was not quite as big as I had hoped. I placed this on the stew and popped it into the oven that was heating to 425 degrees F. Thirty minutes gave the pastry a nice color and crusty outside. The part on top of the stew was not crisp and one would not expect it to be if you think about it. In hindsight, Hubby suggested baking the pastry on a sheet pan and then placing it on the stew. That would insure crispy all the way through.

It was absolutely delicious. The taste of the stout came through for a subtle difference for a beef stew.

I now have two pound of puff pastry in the freezer. It needs to be used within a few months. What to make next?

Happy Pi Day

What kind of pie to make for Pi day? This I asked Hubby. I had recently made an apple pie which we proceeded to eat 75% of in one sitting. Mincemeat is not seasonal. Pumpkin is a standard. Finally we settled on a Chocolate Cream Pie. No meringue. I went through at least half a dozen cookbooks to find a Cream Pie and not a Meringue Pie. So it was back to basic Betty, Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, page 302 in my edition.

Most of the recipes for pudding pies that I found use egg yolks. This allows the whites to be used for the meringue. I had to make a decision as to how to use whole eggs or have 4 egg whites sitting about the fridge for who knows how long? The next decision was to use cocoa or chocolate. I have these 85% chocolate discs and wondered if these would serve. I also had an 82% Belgian Dark Chocolate bar available. The third decision was about pie crust. Should I make homemade or use the “emergency pie crusts” in the refrigerated box. I had already made the decision to use canned whipped cream. It is easy enough to make it from scratch but then I would have a half-used carton of whipping cream sitting around in my fridge for, you guessed it, who knows how long? But as I write this I am envisioning cream puffs with crème patisserie. Darn! I did not think of that when I was at the store.

The pie crust is pre-baked for this pie. I used one of the emergency crusts. I have a pound of dried navy beans that I use for pie weights. Just let them cool and keep them for next time. Betty says to pre-bake the shell, well-pricked, in the oven at 475 degrees F for 8-10 minutes. I had never used that high of a temperature but gave it a go. Other than it taking longer than 10 minutes it worked well. It took my crust longer because I had also weighted down a tin pie pan with the beans for additional weight. This did not let the crust brown for the first 8 minutes.

So the first step in the recipe is to bake your pie crust for a 9-inch pie.

  • 1 cup sugar; Betty wanted me to increase this from 2/3 cup to 1 1/2 cups if making the chocolate version of the cream pie. I only increased it a bit. This probably matters depending on what type of chocolate is used. The chocolate I used had some sugar in it.
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups milk; I bought 2% milk and now have half a half-gallon sitting in my fridge for who knows how long? We usually drink/use/cook with nondairy “fake milk”.
  • 3 whole eggs; I decided this would work just as well as 4 egg yolks
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ounces chocolate; I used the chocolate discs.
  • Sweetened whipped cream

First, melt the chocolate with the vanilla. Slightly beat the eggs in separate bowl, medium sized, so that half the hot milk mix can be poured in this. Mix the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a good sized sauce pan. Pour in the milk slowly and bring this to a boil, stirring constantly. This will take at least ten minutes of standing by the stove. Betty intended for the chocolate mixture to be added with the milk but I forgot to read that part of the instructions. Let this boil for 1 minute, still stirring. Now pour half the hot milk mixture into the eggs, stirring those so as not to have scrambled-egg pudding. it was at this point I read about when to put in the chocolate so I put it in the sauce pan. I thought I might have chocolate-spotted pudding but it did blend all-together when put all back into the sauce pan. Now boil for one more minute. Remove from heat.

Pour into the waiting pie crust. Cover top of pudding with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours. Betty says not more than 48 hours, not sure why. Top with whipped cream for serving. Be sure to remove the plastic wrap!

This was very delicious and rich tasting. I added more whipped cream on each slice.