Men can be good cooks, too
I like watching the Food Network on TV, especially the show “Chopped.” They start with four chefs (men and women), and only one can win. I notice there are more male chefs than women. They all work in or own a restaurant. Many work in New York City. I love watching “Restaurant Impossible” on Wednesday nights. Moss’s spaghetti House in Elyria will be on it sometime in January. I will surely watch it.
I know some men — including my father — who are excellent cooks. Some even put women to shame. I even know women who hate to cook and only cook because they have to. When I was living alone, I didn’t cook much; mostly microwave cooking because cooking for one wasn’t worth the time.
I remember when I worked at the VFW Post 6941. Mr. VFW — Ray Church — would always come in when it was time for me to close on Saturday nights. He wanted to know if I needed anything or needed a ride home. He would be coming back from some VFW function. He was a night owl; I couldn’t believe he would stay up that late. He would tell me stories about his younger days and it was very interesting. He lived a wonderful life helping people. He would tell me he was going to go home and make meatloaf. Then in the daytime he would slice it in the desired thickness, then single wrap it with Saran Wrap and freeze it. Whenever he wanted a meatloaf meal or sandwich he would bring one slice out and thaw it.
He did the same when he made cookies or other baked goods. I told him that was a good idea for us single folks. Ray always reminded me of my own father. I do miss him.
When I was really young, about seven or eight, I would always like to go out and find some dirt so I could make mud pies. I would decorate them with flowers or grass and then leave them on a stone or piece of wood to dry. My mom would give me some old cookie sheets or pie pans to use. Even back then I knew I liked to cook.
I would invite my sisters and brothers to come and pretend to eat the mud pies. It was always a fun time for me. Sometimes my brothers would fool around and try to put the soft mud in our faces. But my mom would always give my brothers an earful if they did. Sometimes my mom would let me help her do something when she was cooking our supper. I just loved watching her cook. I got a lot of my ideas from her.
I just wished I had gotten her to write some of her recipes down. For instance, her spanish rice, BBQ sauce, turtle soup, and her one-egg cake. She even made homemade ice cream of different flavors. It was very delicious.
She also made the best rabbit stew and rabbit gravy, and homemade noodles. She made these large square noodle-like dough and made her famous chicken pot pie. She would use two stewing chicken she got from Irish’s meat market. I bet she could have used a tough cut of meat and it would come out tender and delicious. That’s how good of a cook she was. Like I’ve said before, my dad was also a good cook.
I heard from my dear friends in Palm Springs, Calif., Dick and Mary Carmen the other day. She was baking her poppy seed and nut rolls and another Hungarian pastry she makes. I keep asking her for her nut roll recipe. It is so good, I could eat the whole thing. They love it out there but they do miss Wellington. They lived here most of their lives but their children are out there and they get to see them often.
They do want to come for a visit when they can. I would love to see them.
Hey, you men out there who read my column! Send me some of your favorite recipes so I can try them. I’ll put them in my column. I know my readers would like them.
I would like to get back to this cooking for one person. Ray had some really good ideas. When you make homemade soups you can put it in single containers. When you make breads, bake them in the mini loaf pans and or even muffin pans so you can freeze them separately. I don’t know why I don’t do this myself, but I am going to start.
I still have some recipes from different countries to share with you. I have already shared Italian, Polish and Hungarian recipes. Now I will try some Mexican and more Chinese soon.
I know we all make resolutions to lose weight. I will be doing some columns on weight loss. Until next time, enjoy these recipes.
Spicy Brunch Lasagna
1 1/2 lbs. bulk Italian sausage
1 24 oz. container cottage cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions (4)
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
1/4 cup finely shredded carrot
1/3 cup milk
2 tbps. butter
1 14 oz. jar purchased alfredo sauce
8 oven-ready lasagna noodles
4 cups frozen shredded hash browns, thawed
2 cups mozzarella cheese
In a large skillet, cook sausage until it browns. Drain fat, set aside. In a bowl, combine cottage cheese, onions, chives, and carrot; set aside.
In a very large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, 1/2 tsp salt. and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium, pour in egg mixture. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until mixture begins to set on bottom and around the edges. Lift and fold partially cooked egg mixture so the uncooked portion flows underneath. Continue cooking over medium heat for 2–3 minutes or until egg mixture is cooked through but is still glossy and moist. Immediately remove from heat.
In a small bowl, combine alfredo sauce and seasoning. Spread about 1/2 cup sauce mixture over the bottom of a three quart rectangular dish. Layer half the noodles in the dish, overlapping as necessary. Top with half the remaining sauce, half the cottage cheese mixture, half the hash browns, half the scrambled eggs mixture and half the sausage. Sprinkle with half the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers. Cover dish tightly with plastic wrap and chill 8 hours or overnight.
Let lasagna stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove plastic wrap from baking dish and cover dish with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes more or until heated through. Let stand for five minutes before cutting into portions. About 16 servings.
Mozzarella Cheese Sticks
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten. 2 tablespoons water
12 mozzarella cheese sticks or one 16 oz. block mozzarella cheese cut into 12 sticks about 1/4 inch thick.
1 cup fine dry Italian bread crumbs
Peanut oil or other vegetable oil
3/4 cup marinara sauce
In a shallow dish combine flour, salt, and pepper. In another shallow dish, combine eggs and water. Dip cheese sticks in egg mixture, then coat with flour mixture. Dip cheese sticks in egg mixture again; coat with bread crumbs. Place on baking sheet. Cover and freeze for one hour or up to two days.
In a turkey fryer or deep fryer, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Preheat basket in hot oil. Fry cheese sticks, half at a time, in basket for two to two and a half minutes until crisp and golden. Do not crowd! Be cautious of splattering oil. Meanwhile, remove cheese sticks from hot oil and drain on wire racks. In a small sauce pan, heat sauce over medium.
Keep oil maintained at 350 degrees. If the cheese sticks are frozen for one to two days, let them stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before frying.
Spicy Herb Fried Green Tomatoes
1 8 oz. carton dairy sour cream
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs. snipped fresh cilantro
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup milk
2 cups crush potato chips (about 5 oz.)
1 tbps. snipped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 cup flour
2 large firm green tomatoes, about one pound, sliced 1/4 inch thick.
3 tbs. butter or margarine
3 tbs. olive oil
In a small bowl combine sour cream, garlic, cilantro and salt. Reserve half the mixture to serve with fried tomatoes. Place the remaining mixture in a shallow dish and whisk in milk until combined. In another shallow dish combine crushed potato chips, thyme, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Place flour in a third shallow dish.
Dip tomato slices in flour, turning to coat; shake off excess. Dip in milk mixture; dip in potato chip mixture.
In a large skillet heat 2 tbls. of the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add half the coated tomato slices, cook about 4 minutes or until crisp and golden, turning once halfway through cooking. Drain on paper towels. Add remaining butter and oil to skillet, cook remaining tomato slices. Serve with remaining sour cream mixture.
Busy Day Cake
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups assorted fresh berries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 8 inch round cake pan; set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add milk, butter, egg, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Beat on medium speed for one minute. Spread batter in prepared pan.
Bake about 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Loosen sides of cake; invert onto plate. Cool 30 minutes. Serve warm with berries and, if desired, whipped cream. Yields 8 servings.
This is the cake my mother would make us when we were kids. But she always made her own frosting, or even used powdered sugar.