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Mom Food Recipes

We had a lovely gathering at our place Saturday afternoon, a thing called the Mom Food Extravaganza, with nearly every attendee presenting one or more dishes from his or her family's culinary archive. Most of us were asked for recipes; while I'm awaiting the one for Lisa's Swedish potato dish, let me pass along the directions for my contributions, two of my favorite childhood vegetable dishes as my mama used to make them, with maybe a couple of tweaks she never quite got around to:

THEM GREEN BEANS

2 lbs fresh green beans
4 slices of good bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4" bits
1 medium onion, chopped semi-fine
black pepper
2-4 pods dried red pepper, whole

approx. 1 quart water
1/4 cup salt

Clean and trim beans, cutting in half crosswise or to 3" lengths. Keep in a pan of cold water.

Heat bacon in 3 qt. pot until it starts to brown and throw off fat. Stir in the onion, grind a good bit of black pepper over all. Cook on medium heat until onion is transparent. Stir in red pepper pods. Drain green beans in sieve and dump into pot, stirring over heat for a few minutes. Pour in water just to cover, then add salt. Bring pot to boil, then reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cover and cook at a very gentle rate until beans are no longer crisp, but still have some body, probably about an hour. These will be all the better for sitting in the fridge overnight and then being reheated the next day.

For guilt-free beans down the road, the chilled liquid may be strained to remove congealed fat, and then frozen to use later for cooking beans with a good bacony flavor but no fat - turns out that smoky, porky flavor is WATER-soluble. This is a pretty good way to perk up those midwinter frozen green beans...

THAT SCALLOPED CABBAGE

1 head green cabbage
big pot of water
1/2 cup Kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal)

1 cup milk
1 1/2 Tbs butter
1 1/2 Tbs flour
1 tsp mace
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup buttered crumbs, cracker or Panko or whatever

Quarter cabbage through stem, cut out heart, shred fine. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add salt, then put in cabbage and cover. When the water just comes back on the boil, pour out cabbage and water through a large strainer. Empty cabbage into a large bowl and immediately pour in cold water, swishing the cabbage around to cool it as quickly as possible. Drain cabbage and then squeeze as dry as you can get it.

Melt butter in heavy sauce pan. Blend mace, flour, salt and cayenne, and whisk this into the butter. Heat the milk on the stovetop or in microwave, not quite to boiling, add to mixture and whisk in until smooth and thick. Stir into cabbage, and then turn this out into a greased baking dish. Top with a good layer of crumbs and bake at 350º until bubbly. If you have a broiler element overhead, browning the top with this is a nice touch.

The sauce would be improved if instead of a bechamel it were made from 1 1/3 cup of heavy sweet cream or crème fraiche, reduced over heat to one cup, and then seasoned as above. The fat content would be about the same, the simple carbohydrates nil, and I think the flavors much clearer.

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  1. Yes! I had a WONDERFUL time!! Wish I would have been able to get there earlier to socialize with more of you!! Thank you, Will and Tania, for hosting this wonderful event!!

    JANSSON'S FRESTELSE (Jansson's Temptation)

    Russet Potatoes
    Onions
    Anchovies (I use Abba's that you can get at Ikea)
    Whipping Cream and/or Half & Half (about 1 pint total for a 13 x 9 dish)
    Salt & Pepper (optional). Salt - depending how many anchovies you are using.

    1. Heat oven to 350. Spray casserole dish (desired size, glass) with cooking spray.
    2. Peel potatoes and onions and slice thinly (the thinner they are sliced, the quicker it will cook). I use my food processor, but this slices them a little too thick, in my opinion.
    3. Pour a little of the whipping cream in bottom of prepared dish. Spread a layer of potatoes in bottom, followed with onions (does not need to be perfect).
    4. Crack open the anchovies and scatter some randomly about. At this point, I usually sprinkle some fresh-ground pepper (and salt, if using) on top.
    5. Repeat the potato and onion layers. Pour whipping cream over top (about 1 cup total). Note: when you are done assembling, the whipping cream is not covering the whole casserole. It should come up to about 1/2 inch from the top of the last layer.
    6. Add anchovies and some of the juice. Repeat, alternating potatoes, onions, anchovies, juice, whipping cream, salt & pepper til you are about 3/4 inches from top (it will bubble up as it bakes and may overflow, so I put tin foil under it in the oven).
    I spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray and cover the dish. Bake, covered, for 1 hour. Uncover and continue baking until top has browned in places and potatoes are cooked through - can be upwards of 2.5 hours.
    As I metnioned before, the thicker the potatoes, and the deeper the casserole dish, the longer it will take to cook. Once, it took over 3 hours to bake. I could not believe it!

    For the one I made for Saturday's gathering, I parboiled the potatoes and onions and heated the whipping cream hoping it would lessen the cooking time. It did not - all it did was decrease the flavor since the onions left all their flavor in the boiling water. If I try this again (probably not) I will only parboil the potatoes and let the onions be or maybe try parboiling them in the cream so at least their flavor is saved. It was a pretty bland Jansson's and I apologize - but those of you who were there know what happend that morning and why I was trying to save time. So, I appologize again, and hope I will have the chance to treat you to the "correct and properly prepared" version of Janssons!! ;-)

    1 Reply
    1. re: WildSwede

      I think parboiling the potatoes wouldn't be a bad idea, but that the onions should be cooked in butter instead of water, since the flavor part is soluble in water much more than in fat. Cooking them this way would retain the better part, probably even enhance it, while knocking off some of the rough edges.

      The dish was wonderful, though when I heard you say you'd lightened up on the fish for us non-Swedes I was sorta wishing you hadn't; some of us LIKE fishy! To compensate, I combined a serving of your leftovers with some leftover rockfish I had, and ate that for lunch today. I'm gonna post that rockfish recipe here later, but suffice it to say the combo made some of the best chowder I've ever had!

    2. Here's the kreplach recipe from my mother. Most people know these Jewish wontons as an addition to chicken soup, but Mom used to bake them as serve them as appetizers. Here's her recipe, exactly as she wrote it out for me about 20 years ago:

      Dough:

      3 eggs
      2 - 2 1/2 C flour
      1 eggshell water
      1 eggshell oil
      salt

      Filling:

      1 lb ground beef
      1 egg
      minced onion
      salt & pepper
      water

      Make and boil 5-10 minutes. Drain. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hr. Makes about 60.

      To be more specific: combine the dough ingredients, using just enough flour to make a medium-soft, but not wet, dough. Roll into a ball and let rest for about an hour covered with a damp cloth. Working with one half at a time, roll out on a lightly floured board until very thin. (We have oilcloth on our kitchen table, and I roll the dough until I can see the pattern of the oilcloth). With a knife dipped in flour, cut into 2-inch squares.

      Put about 1-2 tsp of filling in the middle of each square, then fold into a triangle and press the edges together. I keep a glass of water handy and dampen the edges slightly if they don't want to stick. Boil in salted water 5-10 minutes, then drain well. At this point, you're ready to put them in soup if you wish, but to use as appetizers, put them in a lightly oiled glass baking dish, drizzle with oil or melted butter, toss to be sure they're all coated and bake at 350 for about an hour, until the edges are lightly browned. I toss them a few times with a wooden spoon during the process to be sure all pieces brown evenly.

      Sprinkle with sea salt, and serve hot.

      1. My tetrazzini recipe is posted offsite here http://life-eos.blogspot.com/2007/10/... along with some other casserole dishes. The recipes have been updated to remove traces of red & white soup cans :-).

        1 Reply
        1. re: DiveFan

          The intro to James Beard's recipe says that Tetrazzini was "a soprano with a thrilling voice and astounding girth." It should be noted that Our Jim had also aspired to the operatic stage, but couldn't quite cut it, though his girth was certainly competitive...

          That terazzini of yours was the best I've had in a long time. Thanks for the recipe!

        2. Hi everyone! I finally transcribed my recipe:

          LYNNE'S MOM'S CORNBREAD DRESSING RECIPE

          1 "regular" cornbread (I use the recipe on the back of Albers' yellow corn meal bag) in an 8X8 baking pan

          1 cornbread made from either Jiffy mix or Sylvia's Soul Food mix (I used Sylvia's for the party, but I usually use Jiffy. Sylvia's has more of a pronounced honey and cinnamon flavor) in an 8x8 baking pan

          1 teaspoon thyme
          1 teaspoon sage
          1 teaspoon ground black pepper
          1 teaspoon Lawry's seasoning salt
          1-3 oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained
          1/2 cup celery, diced
          1/2 cup onion, diced
          1/2 cup green pepper, diced
          2 teaspoons butter
          3 cups low sodium chicken broth

          Bake the two pans of cornbread according to their directions. While the cornbread is baking, sauté the celery, onion and green pepper in the butter until the onions are translucent. Remove cornbread from oven (and leave the oven on – it should be at 400 degrees) and let it get cool enough to touch. Crumble both pans of cornbread into a 13x9 inch pan. Combine the crumbled cornbread with the remaining ingredients except the chicken broth. Pour the chicken broth over the cornbread mixture and spread the mixture evenly in the pan. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, and bake for about 35-45 minutes (most of the liquid should be absorbed). Remove the aluminum foil and bake for another 5-15 minutes until the top is golden brown.

          2 Replies
          1. re: wanderinglady

            My favorite Mom Food recipe is definitely Corn Flake Chicken. Soak chicken pieces in buttermilk them coat then in corn flake crumbs that have been salted and peppered. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes and serve with mashed potatoes and maple glazed carrots. So delicious and comforting and full of Mom.

            1. re: wanderinglady

              I just wanted to note a slight change to the recipe. The cornbread made from the Jiffy/Sylvia's mix should be made in a pie pan rather than an 8x8 pan. The amount of mix in the box has been reduced so much over the years, that pouring the batter into an 8x8 pan would make the cornbread too thin.

            2. YAY!! I'm so glad you posted this! :) I can't wait to make that cabbage dish!! For the beef Stroganoff, we used Alton Brown's recipe from I'm Just Here for The Food. And you can make your own Rompope with a recipe like this...

              http://mexicanfood.about.com/od/bebid...

              Best!

              1. Chicken a la King was a favorite dish of mine when I was growing up.

                CHICKEN A LA KING

                serves 8

                2 tablespoons butter
                2 tablespoons olive oil
                1 cup onion, chopped
                2 cups mushrooms, sliced
                1/4 cup flour
                1 1/2 cups milk
                1 1/2 cups chicken stock
                1/2 teaspoon pepper
                1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt - depending on how salty the chicken stock is
                dash of allspice
                1 1/2 cups carrots, julienned & cooked to crisp tender (3 min. on high in the microwave)
                1 cup peas, frozen
                7 cups cooked and shredded chicken
                2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
                8 biscuits - I used Pillsbury Grands Buttermilk Biscuits or 8 slices of toast

                In a large pot over medium high heat, add the butter and olive oil. When the butter has melted, add the onion and mushrooms. Saute for about 8 - 10 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add the milk and chicken stock, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 - 5 minutes or until the sauce is thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Season with pepper, salt and allspice. Stir in carrots, peas, chicken, and parsley. Continue cooking until heated through. Serve over biscuits or toast.

                http://www.dinnersforayear.blogspot.com

                6 Replies
                1. re: eatmyfood

                  No pimentos? THE outstanding common characteristic of any C a la K from my childhood was the ever-present strips of pimento, and the odd "whang" of uniquely pimento flavor they gave to the otherwise relentlessly bland dish. My mother never made it, but it was always to be found at lunch counters, church-basement potlucks and school cafeterias.

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    My mom must not have liked pimentos b/c our version never had them. They are not a favorite of mine so I didn't include them. I think my version is quite flavorful and doesn't need the whang of pimentos.

                    1. re: eatmyfood

                      I agree with you on that last sentence. I was just surprised, more than annoyed. I can do without pimentos very well, thank you - MY mom could not restrain herself from throwing them into or on top of anything they'd stick to. And if pimentos wouldn't work, she'd dust the top with paprika.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        i too like the whang of pimentos -- though iirc, my mom's chick a la king, they weren't too whangy, but added a nice flavor and another color to the dish.

                  2. re: eatmyfood

                    Keep in mind that Will O might have been lucky - the only decent 'pimientos' that I've even found were roasted peppers (Durkees? grown in the SE?) in a 28 oz can. Those glass small jars are Yuck-O, no flavor, overly aged, waste of money and peppers.
                    AAR I agree that pimientos are Optional.

                    1. re: DiveFan

                      The pimentos of my childhood were indeed the yuck-o ones from the glass jars. They did in fact have a flavor, a flavor that pervaded every dish of chicken a la king, every mashed-potato-stuffed weinie, every otherwise bland dish that my mom thought needed some help from those juicy jarred red things. What did NOT have flavor was the paprika. In fact, she was under the impression that it wasn't supposed to have any flavor, but meant simply to supply a dash of red. Finding out otherwise was a major experience for me.