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Green Beans Made Easier

Green Beans Made Easier

green beansGreen beans have always been easy to make. But thanks to Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart, the process just got easier. Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables v2The authors of "Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables" (Gibbs Smith, $25) have simplified one step that will make your beans look as good as they taste: Instead of dunking your steaming hot beans into an ice bath in order to keep their color, as most recipes call for, all you have to do is run them under some cold water. You can learn more vegetable tips from Dupree and Cynthia Graubart at this year’s San Antonio Book Fair. Their demonstration is set for 10 a.m. April 2 at the Central Market Cooking Tent at the Central Library Plaza on Augusta Street. A signing will follow. Once you've got those green beans cooked up, follow the authors' suggested variations, adding flavors and textures to make your favorite standby vegetable new and delicious. Of course, I'd add bacon to the list, too. After all, it's considered a vegetable to some. Green Beans 1 pound green beans, tipped, tailed and stringed 2 tablespoons butter or oil Salt, to taste Freshly ground black pepper, to taste Bring enough salted water to a boil to cover the beans. Add the beans and return to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, utnil the beans are no longer raw but still crisp. Drain and run under cold water to fresh and set the color. The beans may be made a day ahead and refrigerated or frozen at this point. When ready to serve, heat the butter or oil to sizzling in a large frying pan. Add the beans and toss until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 2016_SABF_POSTERVariations: --Top the hot beans with tomato conserve or warm tomato sauce. --Toss with 1/2 cup pecan halves. --Saute 1 pound of quartered or sliced mushrooms along with 4 chopped shallots or scallions in 4 tablespoons butter or oil for 1 or 2 minutes. Add the cooked green beans to the mushrooms and reheat. Add a tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs if desired. --Toss with the grated rind of 1 lemon, no white attached. --Toss with 1 teaspoon ground cumin or coriander seed and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. --Toss with 2 tablespoons sesame seeds or chipped pecans. --Toss hot drained beans with a vinaigrette. Toss just before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. --Toss green beans with a mix of sliced roasted cherry, grape or small tomatoes, and add sliced green or black olives, sauteed pecans and/or crumbled goat cheese or other soft white cheese. Makes 4 servings. From "Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables" by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart  

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Yes, You Can Squeeze Flavor from a Spring Turnip

Yes, You Can Squeeze Flavor from a Spring Turnip

Turnips get a bad wrap. Most of us only know them as these oversized, rock-hard roots that you couldn't squeeze a drop of water from. turnips and red peppersYet if you can find turnips at a farmers market, give them a chance. They taste very little like their larger cousins, which Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart call "storage turnips" in their new "Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables" (Gibbs Smith, $25). The two will be discussing their book at this year's San Antonio Book Fair. Their demonstration is set for 10 a.m. April 2 at the Central Market Cooking Tent at the Central Library Plaza on Augusta Street. A signing will follow. "Turnips meld well with bell peppers and make a striking contrast that is particularly good with quail and turkey," they write. "This may be made ahead a day or so and reheated." They also recommend storing spring turnips for no more than a few days, while those so-called storage turnips will last a few weeks. One nice feature of Dupree and Graubart's recipes is that they include variations to show you how versatile these vegetables can be. Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables v2 This helped when testing the recipe. I had enough turnips on hand, but not enough red peppers, so I added a small golden delicious apple as the variation suggested. It worked perfectly with apple and red pepper both in the blend. And the dish was even more attractive with its blend of red, green and white. But flavor that is the real bottom line, and this recipe tastes so good that it's a keeper. I would also serve it with pork chops, roasted chicken and maybe even a hearty fish, such as halibut or flounder. Turnips and Red Peppers 1 pound red bell peppers 1 pound small white turnips, peeled 3 to 6 tablespoons butter, divided use 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped Salt, to taste Freshly ground black pepper, to taste turnipsCore, seed and slice the peppers. Cut the peeled turnips into quarters if the turnips are golf-ball size, or into eights if the turnips are larger. (Smaller young turnips can skip the next step.) Add larger turnips to a pot of boiling water and cook for a few minutes to blanch; drain. Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan, and add the peppers, young turnips or parboiled larger turnips and the garlic. Cook over medium heat until the turnips are tender when pierced with a knife and peppers are still crunchy; add more butter if necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Variation: Turnips and Apples Substitute any firm cooking apple for the peppers. Cut into wedges, leaving skin on and proceed as above. Makes 4 servings. From "Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables" by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart  

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Show Your Love with a Slice of Homemade Pie

Show Your Love with a Slice of Homemade Pie

A homemade pie is a sure sign of love to many. And who can resist the light fluffy custard in a buttermilk pie? This version, from "Cambridge Cooks," a cookbook to benefit Cambridge Elementary School in Alamo Heights, comes together easily. Just remember to beat a lot of air into the eggs, and remove it from the oven when the top is a golden brown. Serve it with the garnish of your choice, from a mint sprig to macerated berries to a drizzle of chocolate syrup. Buttermilk Cafe buttermilk pieButtermilk Pie 3 eggs 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled 1/2 cup buttermilk 2 teaspoon flour 1 1/2 cups sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 (9-inch) deep dish pie crust, unbaked Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add butter, buttermilk, flour, sugar and vanilla. Stir until all the ingredients are combined. Pour into pie crust. Bake for 35-45 minutes. From Ann Buehler/"Cambridge Cooks"

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Aaron Franklin Wants to Teach You How to Produce Excellent Barbecue

Aaron Franklin Wants to Teach You How to Produce Excellent Barbecue

Every day there's a line Franklin Barbecue.

Every day there's a line Franklin Barbecue.

Aaron Franklin has almost single-handedly raised Texas barbecue to a culinary art form in the eyes of the world’s food cognoscenti. His restaurant on Austin’s east side, Franklin Barbecue, has won over the international public as well, as lines of people from all corners of the globe stream every day from his door, down the driveway and around the corner hours before he opens. franklinHe was rewarded for his efforts with a presidential visit and with this year’s James Beard Foundation Award for best chef of the Southwest. More importantly, he’s sold out of his meats every day he’s been in business. Last year, he stole the movie “Chef” away from its star simply by opening the door to one of his smokers and revealing an array of obsidian briskets just waiting to be eaten. On the day I saw the film, moviegoers across the packed theater released an audible gasp at the sight of those briskets, followed by knowing chuckles and even a few grumbles from those who knew they couldn’t eat what they were watching. Now, you can learn what it is that makes Franklin Barbecue so great, and you can recreate it in your own backyard, without having to stand in line for three hours. “Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto” (Ten Speed Press, $29.99), written by Franklin with Jordan Mackay, is essentially a 200-page recipe for making Central Texas-style barbecue. Franklin invites you into his smoky kingdom with no topic off limits, no secrets held back, and he starts from the very beginning. No, you don’t have to raise your own cow, but you may have to build or modify your own smoker so that you can get it to work the way you need to. He even offers welding information, in case you need to get industrial. Yes, it’s that geeky.
Learn how Aaron Franklin seasons his post oak.

Learn how Aaron Franklin seasons his post oak.

On a practical level, this isn’t a book for Big Green Egg owners or even folks like me with an upright drum smoker, which I’ll admit I’ve used mainly for fish and turkeys, not beef or ribs. It’s not really even for those casual once-a-year barbecue parties in which the guys sit up all night with an ice chest of longnecks and a few briskets or racks of ribs for a party or family reunion, though that is how Franklin got his start. This is for the serious smoker who wants to understand the thermodynamics involved in producing world-class barbecue. Franklin takes you through easy-to-read sections on how smoke works, how it must flow through the drum, how to distinguish good smoke from bad, how to choose which wood to use with which meat, how to season your wood, how to pick out a brisket, how to make a rub, when to leave that brisket alone in the smoker, and how to treat your brisket so it will continue to tenderize even after it has been smoked to what you might consider the perfect temperature. It’s also for any die-hard barbecue lover, because Franklin shares his passion for the subject in an engaging, conversational voice that will leave you excited about your next three-meat plate, whether you plan on using the information on your own smoker or you just want to understand better what goes into making that meat so irresistible. Part of the journey is learning from your mistakes, and Franklin admits to having made his own. These stories provide some welcome comic relief and show you a human side of the man behind the smoked meat. You also glean a few insights into Franklin that might not have been readily apparent, such as the fact he considers his knowledge of barbecue far from complete. “I’m still learning,” he says more than once. And he means it. He doesn’t directly use the “low and slow” method many Texas pitmasters have used for years, but you’ll have to read in depth to find out just how it differs.
Two of the smokers at Franklin Barbecue,

Two of the smokers at Franklin Barbecue,

It was good to learn that his prime briskets (hence his prime prices) come from cows that have been ethically raised and butchered, yet he does not like grass-fed brisket for smoking. He does like to keep things around him practical, as he shows in this passage from the chapter on Fire + Smoke:
“It’s hardly glamorous, but the tool I probably use the most at the restaurant is not a carving knife or a boning knife or a fancy digital thermometer. This tool you’ll find most often in my hands when doing a cooking shift is a shovel. At all times, there’s one shovel propped outside the firebox of each of our six cookers. It’s an essential tool. I don’t like the heavy shovels that last forever; I like the light ones you can throw around real easy. That’s because, let’s face it, I’m using it nearly constantly, and the heavier the shovel, the hard it is on the old body.”
When Bonnie Walker and I were researching our barbecue book, one of the questions we heard repeatedly was whether the wait in line for Franklin Barbecue was worth it. Our answer was almost always the same; we asked them: Do you mind waiting for anything you love? To those who were too impatient, we said no. But to those who enjoy the experience that comes with that wait, including the camaraderie that develops among all of you sharing in that love of fine barbecue, you will certainly relish the memory, regardless of your final opinion of the meat by itself. The same is true of “Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto.” If all you want is a simple, one-page list of instructions on how to smoke meat, look elsewhere. If you’re at all interested in the workings of one barbecue-obsessed mind and how to apply that to your barbecue, then you’ll enjoy this ride.  

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The Hambone’s Connected to the Easter Menu

The Hambone’s Connected to the Easter Menu

To many, Easter dinner is the perfect time for ham. But where did this tradition begin? If you check the Internet, you’ll find a host of possibilities, ranging from Christians co-opting pagan rituals to American soil being more suited to pigs than lambs. (Comparing the price of the two meats is a strong argument for the latter.) Use fresh ham, not cured or smoked, in this recipe.A more common sense explanation can be found on the Christian blog, Liturgical Time: “Throughout most of the centuries of Christianity, (and still for Eastern Orthodox Christians, whose stick-to-itiveness is to be highly commended), no meat was eaten during Lent.  Since livestock was slaughtered in the Fall, and there was no refrigeration, any meat left over on Ash Wednesday, (at the beginning of Lent), had to be cured if it was to be preserved.  Hence, on Easter Day, when the long 55 days of Lent were finally over and meat could be eaten, a lovely cured ham was the natural choice.” Does it really matter why people eat ham on Easter or the rest of the year? It’s delicious. It’s not too expensive. And it’s plentiful. Texans love their ham, but the writers of a great many Texas cookbooks are more interested in offering recipes for what to do with leftovers. Perhaps they were all trying to prove the great Dorothy Parker wrong when she quipped, “Eternity is a ham and two people.” But here are a few suggestions from Texas cookbooks to make your holiday dinner centerpiece even more enjoyable this year. First are some glaze ideas from the “Houston Junior League Cookbook”:
Ham Glazes:
  • Mix equal parts of jelly and prepared mustard.
  • Combine 2 cups cranberry sauce and ½ cup brown sugar.
  • Mix ½ cup honey with 1 cup brown sugar and ½ cup orange juice.
  • Mix 1 cup honey with ½ cup orange marmalade.
  • Combine 1 cup brown sugar and ½ cup syrup from canned spiced crab apples. Garnish with heated crab apples.
And here’s a basting sauce you can use for more than ham, as it appears in “The Wide, Wide World of Texas Cooking”: Basting Sauce for Meat Loaf, Ham, Pork ½ cup brown sugar ½ cup water 1 teaspoon dry mustard 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce Vinegar, to taste Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and boil until sugar has melted. Keep warm until needed. Store leftover sauce, covered, in refrigerator. Makes 1 ¼ cups. From “The Wide, Wide World of Texas Cooking” by Morton G. Clark Finally, here’s a recipe for a stuffed ham that appears in the “Celebrate San Antonio Cookbook”: Bourbon Cashew Studded Ham Ham: 1 (5- to 6-pound) cooked ham 1 cup bourbon 1 cup packed brown sugar ¼ teaspoon ground cloves 15 to 20 whole cashews Stuffing 1 ½ cups herb stuffing mix (Pepperidge Farm preferred) 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted 3 tablespoons prepared mustard 3 eggs ¾ cup parsley, minced Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a saucepan, combine bourbon, sugar and cloves. Simmer mixture for 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix stuffing ingredients together. Make holes in top of ham with apple corer at 2-inch intervals. Save ham pieces for another use. Stuff holes in ham with one cashew then stuffing mix and one cashew on top. Spread rest of stuffing on top of ham. In a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish, place ham and pour bourbon sauce on top. Bake uncovered for 1 ½ hours until crust is golden brown. Baste with bourbon sauce while ham is cooking. Makes 20 to 25 servings. From “Celebrate San Antonio Cookbook” by the San Antonio Junior Forum  

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Distilling the Best That ‘The Spirit of Gin’ Has to Offer

Distilling the Best That ‘The Spirit of Gin’ Has to Offer

I love gin. So, I really wanted to love "The Spirit of Gin: A Stirring Miscellany of the New Gin Revival" (Cider Mill Press, $24.95) by Matt Teacher. spiritI'll admit I was fascinated by a good deal of the lore included in this handsome volume, but too much of Teacher's information is presented in a scattershot manner. The prose is also underwhelming, often offering more details about the author than about his subject or the people he's interviewing. (Richard Barrett's "The Book of Gin" was a far more enlightening examination of the history of this elixir and the story of distillation, though it lacked the photographs and illustrations that mark Teacher's work.) That said, if you exercise some patience and skip around a lot, you'll find some good recipes and some helpful hints in "The Spirit of Gin," so you, too, can enjoy the drink that drove England mad. In the meantime, here's Teacher's sound advice on how to host your own home gin tasting:
Home Gin Tasting Materials Needed: Lot of different gins, glassware (rocks glasses work well), ice cubs in a bucket with serving tongs, a dump bucket to discard unwanted samples, a rinsing receptacle to clean glasses between tastings, notecards, pens and friends. Suggestions: Try first tasting each gin straight, at room temperature, followed by a sip chilled by adding an ice cube and stirring. Note how the gins' viscosity changes when cooled. Try a tasting comparing all gins from a specific category, such as all London drys, all new Americans or all aged gins. Bring together a group of tasters with different palates and see if opinions differ. Hand out notecards and pens and have everyone log their initial reactions before discussion. From "The Spirit of Gin: A Stirring Miscellany of the New Gin Revival" by Matt Teacher
Then shake up this colorful cocktail, Envy, which includes a recipe for your own homemade grenadine. The drink tastes great, though it is on the sweet side, but I do have to wonder why it's called Envy when it's red instead of green.
envy2 cocktail

Envy

Envy 1/2 ounce Bluecoat Gin 1/2 ounce Leopold maraschino cherry liqueur 1/2 ounce grenadine (see note) 1 orange twist, for garnish Note: To make your own grenadine, mix 50 percent freshly squeezed pomegranate juice with 50 percent simple syrup. Shake gin, cherry liqueur and grenadine with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Add an orange twist garnish. Makes 1 cocktail. From Church & State/"The Spirit of Gin: A Stirring Miscellany of the New Gin Revival" by Matt Teacher

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GauchoGourmet Holidays! Book Signing, Toy Drive for the Kids

GauchoGourmet Holidays! Book Signing, Toy Drive for the Kids

Gaucho Gourmet’s Saturday Market this week will feature a Texas-sized Holiday Book Signing, with six authors present and signing four great Texas food books. This is a one-time chance to pick up gifts for the food-lovers on your holiday gift lists, and have them signed. The following authors will be on hand Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.: Texas Hill Country Cookbook• Chef Terry Thompson-Anderson, veteran chef and culinary instructor, will be present to sign her cookbook “Texas on the Table: People, Places and Recipes Celebrating the Lone Star State,” destined to become the definitive book on Texas cooking. • Chef Scott Cohen, former executive chef of Las Canarias at La Mansion del Rio Hotel and current instructor at Le Cordon Bleu Austin, is signing his “The Texas Hill Country Cookbook – A Taste of Provence” for the discriminating palate and lover of local products. • Renowned Hill Country Chef Ross Burtwell and contributing author Julia Celeste Rosenfeld are signing their striking “Texas Hill Country Cuisine: Flavors from the Cabernet Grill Texas Wine Country Restaurant,” perfect for all Hill Country cuisine and Texas wine connoisseurs. • Bonnie Walker and John Griffin will be signing their recently published “Barbecue Lover’s Texas – Restaurants, Markets, Recipes & Traditions” for the guys and gals who are meat lovers (especially barbecue!) on your Christmas list. Toys for Tots Benefit now through Dec. 13 -- win a giant Pannettone GauchoGourmet is also accepting donations of new, unwrapped toys between Mon, Dec. 6 through Saturday Dec. 13 to benefit Toys for Tots and ultimately the less fortunate children in our community. This toy drive is in conjunction with Groomer's Seafood. panettone albertengoWith each donation dropped off at GauchoGourmet, the donor's name will be entered into GauchoGourmet's biggest and best giveaway yet. The winner will be announced Sept. 13 at 2 p.m. and will receipve a specially ordered 22 pound Panettone Christmas cake, made by artisanal producer Albertengo, from Italy. Bring toys, sample some of the great holiday gourmet items at GauchoGourmet and pck up gifts -- all this Saturday.  

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Griffin to Go: It’s Oh So Good — and It’s Pie

Griffin to Go: It’s Oh So Good — and It’s Pie

Fall weather has arrived, and it's time to change up our pie baking to match the season.
Osgood Pie

Osgood Pie

This is the time of year when we love pies filled with apples, pumpkin or sweet potato, but why stop there? Why not make an Osgood pie? What, you may ask, is that? Some cookbooks say to think of a chess pie or vinegar pie with the addition of raisins, nuts and spice in sweet custard. That certainly sounds good, but it somehow shortchanges the uniqueness of this pie. The version I made reminded friends more of a fruitcake pie, only without the hated waxy citron cherries and pineapple. There was no Osgood, at least so far as culinary history can show. Several cookbook writers, including Betty Furness, call it an oh-so-good pie, which leads many to think Osgood is merely a condensed version of that. That may also explain why this old-fashioned wonder is also known as allgood pie in some quarters, according to The Big Apple, a online compendium of food references. But no one knows who made the first oh-so-good pie or where. Some legends point to Texas, others merely to some Southern region in which pecans grow.  In the news clippings references on The Big Apple, the earliest mention dates back to neither; it is from the Indianapolis Star in 1911. More mentions arose in the 1920s and 1930s, suggesting but the pie's popularity seems to have dropped off the charts in the 1950s. By 1970, the Associated Press' food editor, Cecily Brownstone, professed she had never heard of the pie, The Big Apple reports. According to an article she wrote that appeared in the Dallas Morning News, "A Greenwich Village restaurant in New York City, specializing in Tex-Mex cuisine, serves an interesting dessert called Osgood Pie. When we first ate the pie there we didn’t remember ever seeing a recipe for it. But searching among our 3,000 cookbooks yielded results: two cookbooks from Texas and one devoted to Southern cookery had versions of the dessert."
Osgood, or Allgood, Pie

Osgood, or Allgood, Pie

In my own collection, I found five versions of Osgood Pie in cookbooks as diverse as Morton G. Clark's "The Wide, Wide World of Texas Cooking" and "We Make You Kindly Welcome," a collection of Shaker recipes from Pleasant Hill, Kentucky.  Both books appeared in 1970, the same year as Brownstone's article. Furness included Oh-So-Good Pie in her widely used 1954 "The Betty Furness Westinghouse Cookbook," and Woman's Day offered a version in its 1978 collection, "Old-Fashioned Desserts." The 1989 "Eats: A Folk History of Texas Foods," by Ernestine Sewell Linck and Joyce Gibson Roach, offers no background on the pie, but the authors do make this observation: "Any of the molasses, raisin, chess, Osgood pies and their like — sticky, syrupy, often open-faced — could be called 'shoo-fly pies,' so called because of the worrisome winged visitors that came to the table uninvited. The children were given white cloths that they waved about to keep flies off the food." They also quote a 1941 article from Virginia Walker on "Pie Suppers in East Texas" that sheds a little light on why Osgood pie was so highly regarded in the Depression era: "The people who lived a cut above the folk would bring some pie with a store-bought ingredient like raisins or coconut." It was a rare treat at a time when most people had to make do with what they had. It's still a rare treat that's worth the time it takes to make it. Below are two variations on Osgood pie to get you started. I made the version from Woman's Day, which came together easily, except I don't have an 8-inch pie pan, so the filling in mine was a bit thin. No one seemed to mind it, especially when topped with whipped cream. Few recipes for this dessert are alike, though most use raisins and pecans mixed with eggs, sugar and butter. Several versions add dates. Some call for vinegar, others for lemon juice. As for the spices, the choice of cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves is up to you. I may add different dried fruits, such as cherries or cranberries, the next time I make one. Or you could add chocolate chips, which is what a friend told me she expected when she saw the dark pieces in the pie filling before learning they were raisins; it may not be old-fashioned, but it would be oh so good. Texas Osgood Pie 1/2 cup butter 1 cup sugar 3 eggs, separated 1 cup pecans 1 cup pitted, cut-up dates 1/2 cup white raisins 1 pinch salt 1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and sugar and beat in the egg yolks. Fold in nuts, dates, raisins and salt. Beat egg whites until stuff and fold into the mixture. Turn into pie shell and bake until done (about 45 minutes). Serve hot or cold. Makes 6 or 8 servings. From "The Wide, Wide World of Texas Cooking" by Morton G. Clark Woman's Day's Osgood Pie
Sugar, raisins, pecans and spices are stirred in the batter.

Sugar, raisins, pecans and spices are stirred in the batter.

"Though the origin of this pie is unknown, recipes occasionally appear in regional cookbooks of Southern states where pecans are grown," according to Barbara Myers in the 1978 cookbook, "Woman's Day Old-Fashioned Desserts." "The chewy filling, which includes raisins as well as nuts, has a thin, crisp meringue crust that develops while baking." I thoroughly and gently folded the entire mass of egg whites into the dough and it formed no meringue on mine. 2 egg yolks 1 cup sugar 2 tablespoons melted butter 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon cloves 2 teaspoons vinegar 1/2 cup chopped pecans 1/2 cup chopped raisins 2 egg whites 1 (8-inch) unbaked pie crust Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the egg yolks slightly. Add the sugar, melted butter, cinnamon cloves and vinegar. Blend well. Add the pecans and raisins. Mix well. Beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold in. Turn the filling into the pie crust and spread evenly. Bake in oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until set. The egg whites will rise to the top, forming a thin crust. To test the filling, insert a toothpick halfway between the outer crust and the center; it should come out clean. Also, when done, the meringue will pull slightly away from the rest of the pie. Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature. Cut with a thin, sharp knife to avoid crumbling the meringue crust. Makes 6 or 8 servings. From "Woman's Day Old-Fashioned Desserts" by Barbara Myers

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It’s Ice Cream Without Dairy, Sugar or Soy.

It’s Ice Cream Without Dairy, Sugar or Soy.

Your body is telling you to avoid sugar, dairy, eggs, gluten, soy and all of those ofter ingredients that just aren't good for your system. But your soul is telling you that you have to have ice cream. What do you do? Turn to Kelly V. Brozyna's "Dairy-Free Ice Cream" (Victory Belt Publishing, $29.95) for some answers.
Dairy-free vanilla ice cream

Dairy-free vanilla ice cream

Brozyna, who blogs at TheSpunkyCoconut.com, has offered up 75 recipes that show it's possible to nurture and satisfying both body and soul without betraying your taste buds. She uses a basic recipe that includes full-fat coconut milk for richness, Medjool dates for sweetness and often a dose of milk made from almonds, cashews or hemp for additional texture. Don't use too much of the latter, she says, because each version could easily overpower the ice cream. She offers two versions for thickening the ice cream, if you choose. One is by using guar gum, the other is with gelatin, which, in case you need to be reminded, is not a vegetarian product. She also offers some shopping tips, such as how to shop for coconut milk. She advises that you look for the canned Natural Value or Aroy-D Coconut Milk, which comes in a carton, because either of them have the cream that separates from the milk. That allows her to make whipped coconut cream. "Avoid other kinds of coconut milk in cartons, as they are too watery," she says. When you get started with Brozyna's recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream and then move on, you'll notice that she sticks to the basic outline, no matter the variation. That means the Pumpkin Ice Cream varies only in the addition of pumpkin purée and the spices used, while the Coffee Ice Cream uses a strong cup of java instead of the almond milk. So, what flavors do you want to try? You can add fresh peaches to the vanilla blend. Or use your favorite sugar-free salted caramel sauce swirled in. Dairy-free chocolate chips, toasted almonds, ground peanuts or strawberries are all easy to make. I tried the vanilla this week and was surprised at how good the flavor was, though the color was a little darker than might be expected from a vanilla ice cream (that's from the dates). The texture was also a little thin, even though I had used gelatin to help thicken it. But these are minor problems that will likely be corrected in future batches, which I see happening if only because this treat is dairy-free, sugar-free and everything else, expect perhaps low-carb. But we can't have everything, can we? Vanilla Ice Cream 1 (1.35-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk 1/2 cup (about 8) soft, pitted Medjool dates 1 1/2 cups almond, cashew or hemp milk 1 tablespoon vanilla
Follow your ice cream maker's instructions.

Follow your ice cream maker's instructions.

Thickener: 1/2 teaspoon guar gum or 1 tablespoon gelatin dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water (optional) Put the coconut milk and the dates in a blender and purée until smooth. Add the almond, cashew or hemp milk and vanilla, plus thickener, if using. Purée until smooth. Freeze for about an hour or refrigerate until cold. Pour into the ice cream machine and churn per the manufacturer's instructions. Eat right away or freeze until hard for pretty scoops. Makes 1 to 1 1 /2 quarts. Adapted from "Dairy-Free Ice Cream" with Kelly V. Brozyna Pumpkin Ice Cream 1 (13.5-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk 1/2 cup (about 8) soft, pitted Medjool dates 1 cup almond, cashew or hemp milk 1 cup pumpkin puree 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt Thickener: 1/2 teaspoon guar gum or 1 tablespoon gelatin dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water (optional) dairy-freePut the coconut milk and dates in a blender and purée until smooth. Add the almond, cashew or hemp milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt, plus thickener, if using. Purée until smooth. Freeze for about an hour or refrigerate until cold. Pour into the ice cream machine and churn per the manufacturer's instructions. Eat right away or freeze until hard for pretty scoops. Makes 1 to 1 1 /2 quarts. Adapted from "Dairy-Free Ice Cream" with Kelly V. Brozyna Coffee Ice Cream 1/2 cup whole coffee beans and 1 cup water (for a French press setup) or 3/4 up strong-brewed drip coffee 1/2 cup (about 8) soft, pitted Medjool dates 1 1/2 (13.5-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk 1 tablespoon vanilla Thickener: 1/2 teaspoon guar gum or 1 tablespoon gelatin dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water (optional) If you're using a French press, grind the coffee beans and add then to the French press. Add the water, just off the boil, and steep for 10 minutes. Press the coffee grounds down, then pour the coffee into a blender. Or use 3/4 cup strong-brewed drip coffee. Add the dates to the blender and purée until smooth. Add the coconut milk and vanilla, plus the thickener, if using. Purée until smooth. Freeze for about an hour or refrigerate until cold. Pour into the ice cream machine and churn per the manufacturer's instructions. Eat right away or freeze until hard for pretty scoops. Makes 1 to 1 1 /2 quarts. Adapted from "Dairy-Free Ice Cream" with Kelly V. Brozyna  

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Make a Breakfast of Carne Adovada with Eggs

Make a Breakfast of Carne Adovada with Eggs

"One of the glories of New Mexican cooking, carne adovada is meltingly tender pork marinated and braised in freshly ground red chile sauce," write Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison in "The Rancho de Chimayó Cookbook" (Lyons Press, $24.95). "Nothing makes a more thrilling start to the day in home kitchens, the dish usually would be made a night or two ahead for dinner, since it slow bakes for several hours and improves with a day or two's age. Pairing it with creamy eggs creates a perfect match of soothing and rousing."
Carne Adovada with Eggs

Carne Adovada with Eggs

Carne Adovada with Eggs 3/4-1 cup Carne Adovada, warmed (see related recipe here) Canola or vegetable oil for frying 2 large eggs Salt, to taste Black, pepper, to taste Pour a thick film of oil into a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Eggs are most often prepared sunnyside up for this dish. Crack the eggs into the skillet and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Fry until the whites have set. Quickly spoon carne adovada onto a plate in a lery about 1 inch thick. Top with eggs. Serve immediately. Makes 1 serving. From "The Rancho de Chimayó Cookbook" by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison

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