Ironically, I found myself referencing my own cookbook (how narcissistic is that?) over Mother’s Day weekend at my sister’s house. Luckily she had a copy or two lying around (thanks, Sis!). I just needed something special to bake for my mom. And since it was springtime in Northern California, strawberries became the star attraction….relegating the raspberries to later in the season. Because the strawberries were so sweet, I cut down the sugar to 3/4 cup. As a side note, I broke up the recipe into two days and made the crust and crumble topping the night before Mother’s Day. And the morning of I baked it fresh, with the help of my nephew Ward who expertly hulled and quartered the strawberries for the filling. As another side note, it makes for a great dessert…breakfast…and afternoon snack!
Raspberry-Rhubarb Crumble Pie
Prep time: 45 minutes
Total time: 4 hours (includes cooling time)
1¼ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 to 4 tablespoons ice-cold water
¾ cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 pound rhubarb, cut into ½-inch pieces
12 ounces fresh raspberries
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
Preheat the oven to 400°F with the rack in the lowest position. For the crust, in the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and pulse until large, pea-size clumps form. Add 3 tablespoons of the water. Pulse a few times, until the dough holds
together when squeezed (if necessary, add 1 more tablespoon of water and pulse twice more). Turn the dough (it will be crumbly) out onto a work surface and gather together. Shape into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
For the crumble topping, in the bowl of the food processor (no need to wash), pulse the flour, sugar, and ginger. Add the butter and pulse until crumbly and it holds together when squeezed. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the filling, in a large bowl, toss together therhubarb, raspberries, sugar, and flour.
On a floured work surface, roll the dough to ¹⁄8 inch thick and 12 inches in diameter. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate, fold the edges under, and crimp. Fill the shell with the fruit filling and sprinkle with the crumble topping. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake until the top is golden and the fruit is bubbling, 55 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 2 hours before slicing.
So, I was excited to learn that marathoner Sarah Bowen Shea, co-author of Run Like a Mother and the about-to-be-released Train Like A Mother and co-founder of the awesome Another Mother Runner online running community, whipped up our mac ‘n’ cheese for dinner the other night. Not only that, but she and her family enjoyed it so much that Sarah tweeted about the dish to her followers.
Sarah, who’s busy training for the Boston Marathon, reports that several of her fellow running moms inquired about the recipe, so here it is!
I must confess that when I make this dish, I use 2% milk, whole-wheat flour, whole-wheat pasta and extra cauliflower. Don’t make it with skim milk, though; it just won’t hold together.
However you make it, enjoy!
Roasted Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese
Prep time: 40 minutes/Total time: 1 hour
Serves 6 to 8
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
5 1/2 cups whole milk
2 cups (8 ounces) grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Heat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish.
On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together the cauliflower, oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Roast, stirring once, until golden and tender, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than the package cooking time; it should be less than al dente. Drain.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the milk, a little at a time at first, whisking until smooth after each addition.
Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat and simmer, stirring often, until the sauce has thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheddar, Parmesan, nutmeg, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Stir in the pasta and cauliflower.
Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole and sprinkle with more Parmesan. Bake until bubbling and golden brown on top, 20 to 25 minutes.
Cook’s tip: For that go-to meal for one or two, freeze leftover macaroni and cheese in individual portions in resealable plastic bags. To bake directly from the freezer, remove from the bag, place in a baking dish, cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 375°F until heated through, 30 to 40 minutes.
If you’ve ever been on the giving or receiving end of this simple act of kindness, you know how powerful a pot of homemade soup can be.
We owe a big thank-you the women who shared their stories in this video: Rebecca Joyce Cowart, Julie Lowy, Evie Lerner, Lauren Olander and Meg Knight.
I’m feeling all weepy. I think I will go make Sarah’s amazing Beans and Greens Soup for my neighbor who just had a baby.
I don’t know about you, but all of my cookbooks — the ones I use, anyway — are stained with tomato sauce, blotchy from drips of olive oil and bent every which way from my attempts to keep the pages pressed open with frying pans or tea kettles (seriously).
Old-school paper cookbooks are beautiful, but let’s face it: E-readers are a heck of a lot easier to use in the kitchen. So here’s some good news: If you already own The Good Neighbor Cookbook, you only have to spend another $2.99 to get it on your Kindle or Nook. If you don’t have the book and prefer the convenience of E-readers, you are in luck!
The Good Neighbor Cookbook is part of Kindle’s February Monthly 100 Promotion, which means the Kindle edition is priced at $2.99 for the month. The Nook followed suit.
It’s December (hard to believe but true) and that means it’s time to break out the cheese and open some wine because the entertaining season has arrived (whether you’ve come to terms with it or not!). When you don’t have time to cook, or even when you do, a cheese platter is a lovely and simple way to satisfy your guests. It can be the main attraction for a cocktail party or serve as the perfect low-maintenance hors d’oeuvre for a dinner party. Since cheese counters can be overwhelming, here are a few pointers on buying cheeses and what you can serve with them:
For a party of eight or less, offer two or three cheeses, figuring about 2 ounces
per type of cheese per person. Start with a bloomy cheese (“bloomy” refers to
the soft, white rind), such as a buttery, rich Brie or Humboldt Fog. Add a firm,
subtle cheese, such as manchego or Gruyère, and, if you like, a hard, caramelized
cheese such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or an aged Gouda. Cut a few slices so that
guests don’t hesitate to dig in.
For eight to twelve people, offer one or two additional varieties. Try a
pungent cheese such as Epoisses or Taleggio—stinky but delicious!—and a blue
cheese, such as Gorgonzola or Maytag.
Supplement your cheese platter with crackers, breadsticks, olives, nuts,
Italian cold cuts like salami and prosciutto, seasonal fruit, dried fruit, and/or chutney.
All you need are a cheese board or platter, knives, and small bowls or plates for the
accompaniments. Let the beautiful food stand on its own.
Figure three glasses of wine per person (there are four glasses of wine per
750-milliliter bottle). As with food, it’s always better to have leftovers than to run out.
photo by Johnny Valiant
I ran into a friend of mine on the street the other day, and he told me that he was going to make our Fresh Apple Cake for his wife’s birthday…but it was in the Condolence chapter so he didn’t…Well, I’m here to tell you (Doug) that there’s nothing sad or foreboding about this cake (our chapters are just guidelines, I promise!). And just to overcompensate, I drizzled some of my grandma’s divine butterscotch sauce over the top. This moist cake couldn’t be easier to make- just measure and stir; no mixer needed. The only task, really, is peeling and cutting the apples. This recipe serves 10 to 12, but because it is so satisfying, you can easily stretch it out to serve, at least, 18 people if you cut it into smaller squares. Let them ALL eat cake!
Fresh Apple Cake
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Serves 10 to 12
3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 apples, such as Granny Smith or Golden Delicious, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch pieces
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9 by 13-inch baking pan, tapping out the excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla, then mix in the butter until well combined. Gradually stir in the flour mixture until just combined (do not overmix); stir in the apples.
Scrape the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Serve with Butterscotch Sauce and whipped cream, if desired.
Grandma’s Butterscotch Sauce
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
Makes 1 1/2 cups
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch sea salt
Melt the butter in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the sugar, cream, vanilla, and salt and whisk until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
Giving the gift of pickles you’ve jarred yourself is such a great “Good Neighbor” thing to do whether you’re welcoming new neighbors or giving hostess gifts. It’s so old-fashioned and thoughtful and conjures up images of days of yore before that silly Vlassic stork started delivering them. So when I learned that my friend Hatti Davis (who bears an “uncanny” resemblance to Bette Davis) started her own small pickle business, I had to find out more. What was driving this young thirtysomething to can a classic? As it turns out, it was pure love….
Q: How did this whole thing get started?
A: This whole business started with my love of pickles. In fact “pic-wee” was my first word. Guess it was meant to be. I moved away from my hometown of Topeka, Kansas several years ago, and every time we went home to visit my folks I wanted to be sure to make a stop at Porubsky’s Deli. It’s an old Russian Deli and Grocery just outside of downtown Topeka. My family and I have been going there for lunch for as long as I can remember. We always ordered the “Cold Plate” which is assorted deli meats and cheese, white and wheat bread and hot pickles. These things were the best. When I moved to California I couldn’t find anything like them, so I decided to make some of my own. It’s a simple pickle as you use store bought dills and add flavor to them. A gateway pickle if you will. If anyone is looking for an easy pickle to make at home, here’s the recipe:
Buy a large jar (32oz or more) of your favorite store bought dill spears. Take all the spears from the jar leaving the juice in the jar. Cut the pickles into bite sized chunks. Add to the brine in the jar a small pot of prepared horseradish and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Stir the mixture and add the cut up pickles back in the jar. Let it sit in the fridge overnight and blammo! Hot pickles!
Q: And this gateway pickle led you where?
A: I loved this recipe, but I wanted to make some homemade pickles from scratch. So I did a lot of online research, read a bunch of recipes and books, and came to the recipe I have today. Tony (Hattie’s handsome boyfriend) thought they were great and suggested we sell them. So I had all my friends over and used them as guinea pigs. They loved them and insisted that they be able to buy them right away. So back to the kitchen I went, and I’ve been making them ever since. There is one really special recipe, and that’s for my BB’s. It’s actually an old recipe passed down from my family and the families of our friends from back in Overbrook, KS. It’s as old as the farmland there, and it’s no surprise to me that they are everyone’s favorites.
Q: How can John Q. Public get his hands on them?
A: I sell them online on my website pickled.bigcartel.com and through facebook. You can call me, email me, whatever. I’ll take any order any way you wanna give it to me! I also work in trade. In fact, I traded 3 jars of Hottie’s for my dining room table.
I have four flavors:
Hattie’s Hotties – Spicy Dill Pickles
Vampire Slayers – Garlic Dill Pickles
BB’s – Old School Bread and Butters with a kick
Bloody Buddies – Spicy pickles veggies (okra, asparagus, green beans, carrots) depends on what’s in season
Q: Do you work alone?
A: I do most of the work myself. I do enlist Sous Chef Tony to help stuff the jars. It’s the most time consuming part of the process. I always have volunteers offering their help to shuck garlic and other mundane tasks. You’d be surprised what people will do for free pickles.
Q: How did you learn how to jar/can properly?
A: I learned everything I know about canning from reading books, online articles and by doing it. I found it to be really easy, if not a little time consuming. There is nothing in the world more satisfying to me than hearing the “pop” of the jars sealing! I love it! I do a little dance every time I hear that sound!
Q: Do you have any tips for the beginner?
A: You can buy a cheap canning set online or even at Target, and they come with a metal cage for the bottom of the pot. This is the pot you use to seal the jars in a hot bath. The cage is to keep the jars from hitting the bottom of the pot and exploding. The metal cage that mine came with initially got rusty really fast. I suggest finding a stainless steel version. Make sure not to let it set in the water for long after you are done. Take it out, and wipe it down with a little vinegar. We have hard water here in LA and it leaves a residue behind. A little vinegar cleans it right up. I also get a white residue on the outside of my jars. Again just wipe it down with a dry towel or with some vinegar and it will disappear.
I have found jars to be cheapest at Smart and Final. If you are looking to order online, I use Fillmore Container. The shipping is kinda steep but they have the stuff I like.
Use your cucumbers when they are as fresh as possible! It makes them crispier. I also use calcium chloride to assist with the crispness. You can find that in the grocery store in the canning section.
Last night I was giving my 4-year-old twins a bath when one of them crash-landed his jumbo jet into the tub, drenching me on purpose. I glared at him and said:
“You’re the most annoying dude I’ve ever seen, brah.
Will you PLEASE move? You’re right in front of the quinoa.”
I’ve gone insane. I can’t stop quoting the lyrics from DJ Dave Wittman’s brilliant rap video, “Whole Foods Parking Lot,” about a guy in a Prius attempting to score a parking space in L.A.’s cutthroat world of upscale Westside supermarkets.
That was my world for seven years, before I paid my 80 bucks for six things and got the heck out.
Once, in an attempt to work out at my gym, I ascended, in my Isuzu Trooper, eight floors of a Santa Monica parking structure, only to be aced out and forced to wind my way back down to ground level, only to get a second wind and climb all eight stories again, only to strike out again and steel myself for a third try, only to exit the parking structure in defeat, drive to Whole Foods and park illegally, buy a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, drive home, plop on the couch and watch a “Law & Order” rerun.
In the end, I couldn’t hack it in the L.A. parking scene for the same reasons I was a lousy bike racer for Velo Club LaGrange Westwood: I didn’t have the quick reflexes or the will to attack. All I had was endurance.
So anyway, I’ve been watching “Whole Foods Parking Lot” every day for weeks. I mean every day. Heck, I don’t even shower every day. Finally it dawned on me: I need to a) tell DJ Dave he rocks (raps?) and b) get some backstory.
WFPL has been viewed more than 2.2 million times, and Dave has done plenty of interviews — about how he got the idea and how he shot the video without Whole Foods’ permission and then won the company’s admiration. But it seems nobody has asked him the really pressing questions. Like about how he prepares his quinoa. So I emailed him, and it turns out that not only is Dave a genius but he’s also a sweetheart and responded to my questions pronto.
Here’s what he had to say.
Me: So are those “six things for 80 bucks” — organic chicken, kale, quinoa, lemon, Humboldt Fog and Pinot Noir — really what you shop for at Whole Foods?
DJ Dave: Yes, that shopping list is actually very close to a usual set of things my fiancee, Rebecca, and I get.
Me: What do you do with the ingredients?
DJ Dave: Our go-to meal at home, and we sort of joke about how often we eat it, is grilled chicken and kale salad. The kale almost always has a bunch of lemon squeezed on it. I personally like to chop up apples, add some dried cranberries and even some toasted sliced up almonds to the salad, but when it’s up to my girl, it’s usually just the lemon. Sometimes we’ll have quinoa as a complement to me the meal or toast a sourdough baguette. Pinot Noir is a bit of a staple, too. The Humboldt Fog is fun, but can in be interchanged with Truffle Tremor or Bermuda Triangle for an appetizer while cooking.
Me: Wow, for a guy who claims not to be a foodie, you seem to know what’s up. How did you get into kale?
DJ Dave: We first started eating Kale Salad because of my friend Teyah. She was like, “How about some Kale salad?” I think she was the first one to recommend we squeeze lemon on it.
Me: Do you ever bring your kale salad to any good-neighbor occasions? Not that I would blame you if you didn’t. When I lived in L.A. I never left my .2-mile radius because I couldn’t deal with the traffic. Or the parking.
DJ Dave: Well, I haven’t actually brought my salad anywhere, but I did go to a 4th of July barbeque at a friend’s house, and she had a kale/quinoa salad. I was all, “Oh, cool. Is that inspired by the video?” She’s like, NO WAY, dude. I’ve been making this for years. It’s like my specialty!!!” It was amazing. I snuck back into the kitchen and passed up chips and such to heap extra portions into my mouth later in the evening.
Thank you, Dave!
Meantime, I was so inspired by the video, produced by Dave and his Fog and Smog crew, that I asked Sara to create a Whole Foods Parking Lot Video-Inspired Kale Quinoa Salad, based on Dave’s favorite ingredients. The recipe is below. It’s the perfect salad, really — the hearty, dark green kale, the complete protein of the quinoa, the crunch of the almonds, along with the sweetness of the dried cranberries, all paired with luscious Humboldt Fog, making for one delicious bite. And if you really want to be literal with Dave’s shopping list, here’s an easy recipe for grilled chicken, too.
By the way, Sara also thinks WFPL is stellar, even though she lives in New York City, where Whole Foods markets don’t even have parking lots. “It’s just a mob scene come the lunch and dinner hours,” she reports. “Everyone buys the prepared foods and stands in line for hours with their one item.”
“Whole Foods Parking Lot” Video-Inspired Kale and Quinoa Salad
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
½ cup quinoa, rinsed
½ cup sliced almonds
1 large bunch kale, torn into small pieces (about 12 cups)
½ cup dried cranberries or cherries
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place the quinoa and ¾ cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender and fluffy, 12 to 15 minutes. Spread out on a plate to cool. (This will give 1½ cups cooked quinoa.)
Meanwhile, place the almonds in a small skillet over medium heat and toast, stirring often, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool.
In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine the kale, quinoa, almonds, cranberries and toss with the vinaigrette. Serve with Humboldt Fog, sliced baguette, and Pinot Noir. The salad will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 day.
Okay, folks. We’re in it- the peak of summer. And what better way to celebrate the best time of year (in my humble opinion) than with homemade gazpacho made from sun ripened tomatoes? It is alarmingly quick and easy to make. Whirl it up in the blender and serve with a big chunk of bread or pour it into a thermos to keep it chilled for a meal on the go. It’s perfect to take to barbecues and picnics; just pack along some cups for sipping…no spoons necessary. Here’s our version from The Good Neighbor Cookbook:
Summer Tomato Gazpacho
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
3 medium red bell peppers (about 12 ounces), cored
2 regular cucumbers (about 1 pound), peeled and seeded
2½ pounds ripe beefsteak tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cut 2 of the red peppers and 1 of the cucumbers into large pieces and place in a blender. Add the tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, and ½ cup water and puree until smooth (you may have to do this in batches). Cut the remaining bell pepper and cucumber into ¼-inch pieces and stir into the soup. Serve well chilled. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
Everyone in my family thought Aunt Shari was a little nutty when, at age 63, she moved from her condo in suburban Kansas City to a home on 11 acres in Eddyville, Illinois, a village with 153 residents and one restaurant, in the state’s least populated county..
Aunt Shari, an avid horsewoman, moved to Eddyville for the trail riding — the town is on the edge of the spectacular Shawnee National Forest. But I think she has stayed because the people are so darned friendly.
Get this: When Aunt Shari’s neighbor Richard Craig heard that Aunt Shari had family coming to visit — my clan from Bend, Oregon, and my cousins from Los Angeles — he baked us a German Sweet Chocolate Cake.
It was huge and moist and smothered with thick, gooey, coconut-pecan frosting. Did I mention it was delicious?
Fittingly, Richard delivered the cake on our Grandma Honey’s 100th birthday. As my boys pointed out, “Grandma Honey is dead” — she has, in fact, been gone seven years. But that didn’t stop our group from celebrating Grandma’s remarkable life.
As we indulged in Richard’s scrumptious cake, we reminisced about Grandma, who bought her first computer, an iMac, at age 86, wrote her first book at age 90 and, at age 93, produced an oeuvre of short essays featuring keen observations about modern life, such as the mysterious disappearance of pockets from women’s dress pants.
Richard’s cake was so enormous that it lasted on Aunt Shari’s counter for days, as the five grown-ups stealthily pinched off bites, sliced off slivers and dug our fingers into the frosting. (I know for sure it wasn’t just me.)
I was so taken by Richard’s thoughtfulness that I insisted on meeting him. Aunt Shari invited him over, and we had a nice chat in her kitchen. Richard, who is 65 and a retired soybean and hog farmer, grew up on a farm 90 miles south of Chicago.
“I’m from the country, and I was 9 before we got a television, so our recreation was visiting neighbors,” he told me. “If you went to visit someone you’d take a cake or a pie. It wasn’t anything unusual. That was just our nature.”
Richard says his mom was a good cook who seldom used recipes. “I just hung around and watched her. I’m a long ways from being any kind of chef. I like to follow a recipe.”
Richard moved to Eddyville a year ago to help out his friend Alice, whose husband was dying of cancer. He stayed on, living on Alice’s property and helping out with the horses, the mowing and the rest of the chores.
“It’s a real community here,” Richard said. “We help each other out. There are so many people from different places, but we all have horses. If someone’s in need, everyone rallies around.
“One gal down the road had a brain tumor, and now she comes home from the hospital on the weekends. I try to take her down something to eat every weekend. My mom was a giver, and I enjoy giving, too.” Richard was the recipient of some good-neighbor cooking recently when he had a hernia operation and Aunt Shari brought him dinner.
Baking is Richard’s forte, but he always gives away his creations because he’s trying to watch his weight. “If I keep it, I’ll eat it.”
But, he admits, “I do lick the pan.”
Here is the Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate Cake recipe that Richard used.