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Thursday, November 19, 2020

Jordan cooks – and shares her recipes


Jordan fixed me a lovely lunch--
salmon salad, her potato salad, tomatoes, and hearts of palm
Call me spoiled.

A few days ago, I posted that Jordan has been more interested lately in cooking and learning some techniques. For my weekly recipes today, I want to share a couple of hers. Not because she cooked them, but because there’s something good and basic about each one.

Did you ever think how meat loaf and potato salad are alike? They are both dishes that many of us have been cooking for years. There are probably thousands of ways to make meat loaf. My mom, for instance, made it with half pork, half beef, salt and pepper. I put egg and breadcrumbs in mine. Some people put milk or broth. But most of us do it, automatically. Ever have a catastrophe when you make something from memory. I have gotten too much filler in meatloaf and made loaves that were without taste.  It just doesn’t always come out right.

I pretty much learned to make potato salad from my mom. There was an Italian cook at the hospital where my dad was administrator, and she taught Mom to peel potatoes while hot and pour vinaigrette over them for extra flavor. Then Mom added mayonnaise and salad mustard (the yellow stuff!), celery and onion, salt and pepper. I pretty much follow that, but it doesn’t always come out as I’d wish—too much mustard for one thing, soupy sometimes, too much salt.

The thing about Jordan’s potato salad is that she followed a recipe and nailed it—the mustard adds a tang but is not a discernable taste. It’s all in the proportion and balance.

Jordan’s potato salad

2 lbs. russet potatoes (she used red and weighed them to get it just right)

2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

½ tsp. salt

2 c. mayonnaise

2 chopped green onions

1 celery stalk

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. vinegar

1 tsp. sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

              Peel and cube potatoes while hot. Toss with vinegar and salt to coat. Let cool. Separately mix remaining ingredients. Toss with cooled potatoes and refrigerate before serving.

Note: There was not much celery in this, which was perfect for Christian because he doesn’t care for it. Personally I would have added another stalk. But this was really good.

              I offer Jordan’s chocolate pie because it’s made from scratch—no instant pudding/pie filling for her. A homemade crust is next, but for now she started with a pre-made graham cracker crust.

Jordan’s chocolate pie

1 9-inch baked pie rust

1-1/4 c. sugar

2 Tbsp. flour

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

½ tsp. salt

3-1/2 c. milk

4 egg yolks

2 squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 Tbsp. butter

1 tsp. vanilla extract

              In saucepan, thoroughly mix sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt. Separately whisk milk and eggs until thoroughly combined. Gradually stir into dry ingredients, whisking as you add, trying to avoid any lumps. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Mixture will thicken. When it comes to a full boil, stir for one more minute.

Take pan off burner and stir in chocolate, butter, and vanilla.  

Pour into pie shell. Cover top with plastic wrap, pressing it carefully onto surface of pie filling. This prevents it from forming a skin. Chill several hours. Serve with whipped cream.

Whip cream just prior to serving. It doesn’t keep well. Jordan mixed 2 tbsp. sugar with 1 cup heavy cream and beat it until stiff.

In her rush to serve the pie, Jordan didn't get a picture of it. And she sent the leftovers home without guests! Outrage! Nonetheless, she wishes you bon appetit! Hmmm. I’m thinking maybe she should make meat loaf next.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

A variation on tamales


Shhh! Don’t tell the world, especially Texans, but I don’t much care for tamales. I’m not a bread person, so tamales for me often have more wrapping than filling. I’d reverse that ratio. On the other hand, I think polenta is great. So several years ago I made a tamale pie that used polenta instead of masa—a true blending of Mexican and Italian cuisines, but heavy on the Mexican side. You could rightly call it Tex-Mex. It is high on my list my all-time favorite dishes. I haven’t made it in a while, but it’s on my “let’s cook this” list. Sorry for the fuzzy picture. Because I haven't made this recently, I didn't have a picture and had to snatch one off the web.

This recipe is a lot easier if you use the prepared rolls of polenta, available in most groceries, rather than trying to cook your own. Use the traditional flavor rather than that with herbs added—this dish will take your flavors in another direction, away from basil for instance.

Tamale pie with polenta

1 lb. ground sirloin, as fat-free as possible (try using ground buffalo)

1½ Tbsp. chili powder

 1 Tbsp. ground cumin

1 16-oz. bottle medium hot salsa (Pace picante preferred)

1 15-oz. can refried beans (original flavor)

1¾ c. chicken broth (preferably Better than Bouillon)

½ c. chopped cilantro

2 1-lb. rolls prepared polenta, sliced ¼ inch thick

3½ c. shredded sharp cheddar

Brown beef, breaking up clumps. Add chili powder and cumin. Stir briefly. Add salsa, beans, and broth. Simmer until thick, about 10 minutes. Add the cilantro. Salt and pepper to taste.

Layer half the polenta in a greased 9x13 baking dish. Top with sauce and 1½ c. cheese. Top with remaining polenta and then remaining cheddar. Bake uncovered at 350° for 35 minutes. Let it sit a minute before serving.

Buen provecho!