Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Mom's Raisin Pie (Week 48)

Here's the deal.....this post has no food pictures!  When you make this pie you will totally understand has this nasty way of disappearing   In our house, poor Mom is not allowed to show up at any family gathering without it and we trade all the other left overs for it.  It is AMAZING with a cup of hot coffee first thing in the morning (I am justifying this as a breakfast item since it has version of Raisin Bran).

I had this printed in the Dubsic-Lucich Family Cookbook (more on this in the next paragraph) but sitting here away from the bookshelf got me a bit lazy so I called source is always best so the recipe is a transcript of our conversation.

On the family cookbook:  my wonderful sister (and best pal, partner in crime) enlisted the help of her students and some 10+ years ago did a simple, Xerox cookbook of the family favorites.  It was quick and she did an amazing job.  When my Cousin Laura and her crew decided to throw another family reunion, Stephanie and I got the brainy idea that we should update it "professionally" and add family history...Oh My GOD....what the HELL were we thinking.  It was  a nightmare to put together and getting recipes out of my busy family members was like pulling teeth (with no anesthesia )  Funny thing soon as it was produced (and sold AT COST), they wanted to know where "this" or "that" was in the book and why we didn't add "this" or "that" (such as Teta So-n-So recipe for the most obscure cookie in history). It's safe to say that Volume III will be out the summer of "when hell freezes over!"

For all my blog get the three photos from our book - 1) the authors - above; 2) below my Baba Dubsic-Lucich's wedding picture and 3) my Teta Anna Dubsic-Ivancovich's wedding picture......we paid extra $ per book to add these!!

My Mom's Raisin Nut Pie

Me:  "Hey Mom, Can you read my your Raisin Pie Recipe.  I want to blog it"
Mom:  "Well....I don't know.  Maybe I don't want to let my secrets out <laughing>.
It came from the Madera Fair and I altered it a bit."
Me:  "Mom, I don't want their recipe  - I want YOURS"
Mom: "OK. Here ya go.  I make it in the 10 inch Pyrex pie pan....oh hold on.....let me measure it.  You know, I always wanted them to make it at Marie Calendars."
Me: "Well... personally they were stupid not selling this pie!"
Mom: "It's pretty expensive to make...that's probably why!  emmmm...the bottom says....just a second....darn....this has to be 10.  Oh wait, it does say ten. It's bigger than a Marie Calendars!"

1 c. white corn syrup
1 c. brown sugar ...."say scant....I make it on the short side."
1/3 c. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
"1 cap full of good brandy"
3 whole large eggs
1 c. chopped nuts ..."I use over a cup.  Maybe a cup and a half....not fine but medium chop"
2 c. raisins (sun-dried Thompson) "the original said a cup and a 1/2 but I add more since the pie is bigger and I like less custard'
1/4 tsp. salt
Juice of 1/2 of a medium sized lemon
3 Tbsp. flour
1 pie uncooked crust

Using an electric mixer, mix syrup, sugar, salt, butter, juice, brandy and vanilla - beat till creamy   Lightly beat eggs in a separate bowl.  Pour the eggs in to the syrup mixture and beat lightly.  Place raisins in a zip lock bag and add 3 Tbsp. of flour.  Shake and dust with flour.  Pour raisins in to a wire mesh strainer, that "thing" or colander, to remove the excess flour and set aside. Fold raisins in to the custard mixture with spatula by hand.  Pour in to prepared 10 inch uncooked pie shell.

Evenly sprinkle 1 cup or more of chopped nuts over the custard filling.  Lightly press nuts down and bake at 350 approximately 45 minutes or until center is a slightly soft.

Mom:  "Do you know what I mean here? The center is a little soft when you touch it....I have made it when it hard all the way across and that was OK.  It should be firm but dead center should be a little soft.  Not squishy like the ones I made for your birthday."
Me:  "Mom, I would have ate it RAW"
Mom:  "Don't for get to write in there that you need to serve it in skinny slices.....
Me:  "and I thought that was so I could have MORE pie to my self after the guests left?"
Mom: ".....with strong coffee.  Very rich and delicious.  Tell them it's from their Teta Kay Lucich Zupanovich"

Thanks Mom!!  I love you!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pumpkin Soup (Le Potiron Tout Rond) - One down and one to go (Week 48)

As always the case in my cooking "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".....

I started out with the idea to surprise my hubby with a 100% from scratch pumpkin soup (using the wonderful recipe from Julia Child that I found in my "box set" of cookbooks from my son - Dom... I love you!!).  I made this killer turkey broth and really needed to get ride of my Thanksgiving decorations.  Oh well......

Problem is, I decided to use the bread crumbs in the unmarked bag (instead of the store bought canister).  I was really trying to do the "from scratch" thing properly.  That ziplock bag contained graham cracker crumbs!

Guess still tasted great!

1 1/2 breadcrumbs (and if you want to be "funky" use the graham crackers!)
one large 4 lb or so pumpkin
1 T. butter
one onion finely minced
6 T butter
1`/2 tsp. salt
Pinch of pepper
1 tsp. Dalmatian sage (dried and ground)
1/2 coarsely grated Swiss cheese
1/2 c. heavy cream (the original called for solid cream and no broth so take your pick)
2 c. broth (I used the broth from my smoked turkey)
1 bay leaf

Cut the pumpkin like you are going to do a Jack-O-Lantern (cut the top off and remove the seeds and the stringy stuff.  Rub the inside with 1 T. of butter and sprinkle lightly with salt.

In a saute pan, put the remainder of the butter (6 T.), the onions and brown.  Add the crumbs and the seasonings and cook to a paste.  Add the liquids and stir to blend.  Pour the contents of the saute pan in to the carved out pumpkin.  Add cheese and stir to blend.  Liquid should come up to about a 1/2 inch from the edge of the pumpkin.  Lay the bay leaf on top and cover with the pumpkin lid.

Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 1 and a 1/2 hours (until the pumpkin is beginning to soften on the outside and the contents begin to bubble.  If browning too much cover with foil.

To serve, dip a long handle spoon inside and scrape the inside to add to the soup.
I also like a dash of Tabasco now and then but this time with the graham crackers it was PERFECT!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Leesa's Amazing Chess Pie (Week 48)

After the football game (and the catered brunch) we packed it up for home and a slice of Leesa's amazing Chess Pie!

I really only intended to take a photo but it's sat there looking so amazing and inviting .......I HAD to finish it. I begged her for the recipe. This is especially for my sister and my pal Anita ......enjoy!

4 eggs
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 c. sugar
1/4 c. milk
1 T. flour
1/4 c. butter
1 T. cornmeal
Rind of one lemon (zest)

Beat eggs until light. Mix sugar, flour and cornmeal then add to eggs. Add juice, milk, rind and melted butter. Pour in to pie shell and bake 10 minutes at 350. Reduce heat to 300 and bake for 45 minutes longer and set.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What up Doc? (Week 47)

This is new.....hubby emailed me at work to tell me he's making something "nice" (I did him a big favor today) so when I got home he kicked me out of the kitchen and proceeded to set the table. Hummmmmm..... While I am exhausted and study every week night and part of most weekend (I.e. this is NO fun for a lazy diva like me), there is no flipping way I am going to quit the doctoral program any time soon..... My Ph.d. Hubby has become "the master chef"! What's up with my Doc?

The interesting dish seen below is called "Jesienny kabaczek" (autumn squash).... Roasted spaghetti squash. Spaghetti removed and mixed with broccoli, young Brussels sprouts, baby potatoes and sliced Polish sausage then baked with cheese. Yummmmmmm

Monday, November 19, 2012

Autumn Butternut Tart (Week 46)

We had guest this weekend and I thought.....what better time to try out something totally new on an unsuspecting couple. Thank GOD they were good sports and this little gem is rather tasty.

I had to run a few errands (such as tracking down a donor who's check needed to be rewritten) otherwise I would have missed (yet again) the farmers market at Kaiser ......and Mike and Sandy Smith. Their organic leeks and Swiss chard made this recipe fabulous.

3 c. chopped butternut
1 leek chopped
1 bunch of Swiss chard
2 tbsp. Bari olive oil
1 c. Gruyere cheese, shredded
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Dash of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
3 eggs beaten
1 pie crust

Place oil in sauté pan. Add butternut squash, leeks, chard and sauté till lightly brown, tossing gently. Chard should be wilted and leeks slightly caramelized. Remove from heat and let cool. Remove any excess water or moisture.

Prepare tart pan (with removable bottom),grease, line with pastry. Preheat oven to 400.. Bake tart for 15 minutes till dry. Let cool.

Toss shredded cheese in to the veggies (cooled) and add the eggs and seasoning. Pour vegetable mixture in to tart and bake for 30 minutes or until set. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Central Valley Flavors (Week 46)

For those of you following along, I have been nagging on and on about the favors of our beautiful, bountiful Central Valley. I am totally and unabashedly proud of the Fresno Bee for their amazing Central Valley Flavors. I am also thrilled to see the colorful and creative recipes from my pals Michael Smith and Robyn Nelson.

Whoa...... They even picked up my kotonjata recipe :-)

It's about time we took a celebratory view of our fantastic Food Culture!!!
Go Fabulous Fresno!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Peka or Croatian Dutch Oven cooking (Week 47)

Getting ready to lock myself in my study  "cave" for the night and I MUST have something tasty.  Tonight Wojtek and I are making pork ribs (sort of "peka" style-- under the bell) and grilled artichokes.  We are doing this together since neither of us are 100% good with the artichokes (Leesa's recipe...thank you!).

Peka is (from prior posts and seen in the above photos from Croatia) meat cooked "under the bell" or in a dutch oven that is upside down (this is the best non-Croatian way of explaining it).  The cook time takes about 45 minutes for this smaller cut of meat for the two of us so it is just enough time to get on the treadmill (another must if I plan to eat this with all the butter,etc).

Here is the non-Croatian way to make Croatian Peka....

Heat your BBQ grill till the gauge reads 350

Using a large Dutch oven (one with a lid that can be used as a small pan), take the smaller pan and use as the base. Coat liberally with olive oil. Place ribs in the oil, bones up, and season with sea salt, cracked pepper and garlic powder. Throw in one quartered red onion, a couple of Italian peppers and a sprig or two of rosemary. Cover with the big pot on top.

Place away from the direct heat and turn the gas down (if you are using gas). If you use smoker chips, I think this is a nice option and gives you sort of the old world wood thing..... Cook for about 35 minutes.

Serve with roasted potatoes!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower and Blue Cheese (Week 45)

Will wonders ever cease!  My sweet husband (the man who typically can't boil water) was in the kitchen on Wednesday making dinner (wearing a camo apron that read "Grill Master"...befitting!  He pushed me out of the kitchen, refused any help and said to rest up till dinner.  This can mean a good thing or a bad thing depending.  Tonight was a huge surprise (at least it was for me).  He made grilled chicken breast (marinated in ranch dressing) and roasted cauliflower.  It was amazing and here's his quick and simple recipe:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, with the flowers removed from the core, washed and separated
  • 1 cup baby finger potatoes (yellow and purple - from Costco), chopped in 1 to 2 inch pieces
  • a few tbsp Bari olive oil
  • Cajun seasoning
  • powdered garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cu blue cheese crumbles.

Take the potatoes and cauliflower and put in a microwave bowl and cook till just tender (about 3 minutes).
In a grill pan, pour the oil oil and add the potatoes and cauliflower   Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning, garlic salt, and pepper.  cook till slightly charred (golden brown not black as in burned).  Remove from heat and sprinkle with blue cheese.  He is really, really surprising me!! DE-lightful!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Eight More Posts to go.....(Week 44 and counting)

Oh my...can it be? I am coming to the end of my odyssey and I have only 8 more weeks of posts to go.  Any suggestions on how I should make the end of the trail?  With a 6 units spring semester in my doctoral program and another 6 in the summer, it will be hard to keep the pace.  GOD help me when I loose my wonderful summer vacation and have to give up my Saturdays in the fall (maybe I'll start a blog on Friday night martinis!)  Oh yeah....that's me in the back row, in pink underneath the "E"....yes, I wore a helmet and I swung through the trees on a zip line (not a good look for me, by the way, the only "zipping" I do is through the mall!).

We'll have to see if there is a "demand" for my snarky posts and odd little recipes   For now, I will ask that you share the blog with your friends and ask them to "follow me".  The more folks in the San Joaquin Valley enjoy the "fresh and local" the healthier and happier we ALL will be.

While I am on that kick.....get out there and MOVE (you know, healthy eating and active living!!).  Our forefathers and their friends all ate local and did a hard days work.  I am sure my great grandmother didn't have an aggravated carpal tunnel from the 800+ text messages per month logged to my iPhone.  I also don't think she had "computer butt" (something I am battling).

While you are out and moving ....get in touch with the Community Food Bank!  Did you know that (in 2010) Fresno County ranks top in the nation in food hardship.  This is such a shame given that we are in the "breadbasket" of the world.  Our Community Food Bank reaches over 90,000 individuals weekly to make sure no one in our area goes to bed hungry.  Big shout out to my pal Andy -- Good Job!  Join the FOOD FIGHT October 10 to November 10th to help support holiday meals for the needy in our area.  For more information, contact the  Community Food Bank ASAP at 559-237-3663 x108.