Home Cooking Recipes
home cooking recipes                                            home cooking recipes
Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour

Edible eats are meaningful treats

Living alone is not much fun when it is time to eat. That truism is a good reason to make gifts of food for people whose constant dining companion is their TV. Just think about the things that you don't do when you are alone for a long period of time. You don't make big vats of soup, you don't cook roasts, you don't bake breads, you don't bake cakes, nor pies, you don't make fudge, nor divinity. Eating alone just isn't a whole lot of fun.

These recipes are favorites that can be produced in quantity for giving or for storing in your own freezer. In either case remember to include any special instructions or maybe even a card with the recipe used.

Homemade Gravlax

This takes about 15 minutes to make, plus 2 days to cure. Buy salmon that has been frozen, or freeze fresh salmon for at least 72 hours at a temperature that is below -4 C. The freezing is to destroy any parasites in the raw fish. When you thaw it the salmon is ready to eat. When giving a portion of this recipe to a friend include a note with instructions to keep it frozen until ready to serve. Gravlax is traditionally eaten with the flat potato bread called lefse or on crusty Scandinavian crackers. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons salt (yes, 3 is the correct amount)
1 tablespoon crush or coarse-ground black peppercorns
1 1/2 pounds salmon filet, 1-inch thick
1 1/2 cup dill sprigs, rinsed, or 3/4 cup dried dill

Combine the sugar, salt and peppercorns. Rub your fingers over the flesh side of the salmon to locate any bones; pull them out and discard. Rinse salmon and pat dry. Lay, skin side down in an 8- or 9-inch pie pan. Sprinkle evenly with sugar-salt mixture and sprinkle evenly with dill. Cover pan airtight with plastic wrap. Nest another pie pan of the same size on top of fish and add 2- to 3-pound weights (unopened cans of food work well) in it. Chill for 2 days; every 12 hours uncover, baste salmon with juices, rewrap and replace the weights. Unwrap salmon, discard dill, and scrape off sugar-salt mixture. Wrap tightly and freeze. Freezing not only preserves the raw fish but it also makes the salmon much easier to slice. Before serving lay salmon, skin down on a board; cut into very thin diagonal slices. Discard any remaining skin and pass the crackers. You might also want to pass sour cream, capers and chopped onion, or onion rings.

Quince and Currant Chutney

This is a delicious alternative to cranberry sauce. Make some for yourself and fill a small jar to give to a friend. A regular batch of cranberry sauce for a single person is a version of eternity. This won't last that long! It can be spread on any sandwich, and is great with ham, chicken, steak, leftover turkey, and scrambled eggs. It keeps well for at least 4 days, probably longer. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

1 pound quinces (about 3 medium)
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1 1/2 cups chopped red onion
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup dried currants
1/4 cup minced peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 whole star anise*
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon salt

Peel, quarter and core the quinces; cut into 1/3-inch cubes (4 cups). Mix all ingredients in a heavy large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed, stirring often, for about 45 minutes. Discard star anise.

*A brown star-shaped seedpod which adds a hint of licorice to the taste. You could substitute a 1/2 teaspoon or more of any licorice flavored liqueur such as Ouzo (Greek) or Pernod (French) or Anisette (also French). You could also, just skip it.

A Variety of Biscuits to Freeze for Baking Later

This recipe has four variations. You could whip up all four and freeze an assortment in a box or bag together with instructions for baking them. When putting frozen biscuits directly into the oven add a few minutes to the baking time.

Basic Buttermilk (or Sour Milk) Biscuits:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon regular salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons), chilled
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk, chilled
Salt for sprinkling (kosher sea salt or large granulated)

Move rack to lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 F. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and regular salt together. Cut 10 tablespoons of the butter into 1/2-inch cubes and chill; melt the other 2 tablespoons. Add the diced butter to the flour mixture and use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour until it is the size of peas. With a fork stir in buttermilk just until the dough is moistened. Lightly dust work surface with flour. Turn dough onto surface and knead 2 or 3 times, just until it comes together. Pat dough into a 1/2-inch thick disk. Using a cookie cutter, stamp out biscuit rounds as closely together as possible. Gather the scraps and knead them together 2 or 3 times, then flatten and cut out more rounds. Pat remaining scraps together and gently press them into a biscuit. Be careful, the less you handle the dough the more tender the biscuits will be. Place biscuits on a baking sheet and brush the tops with the melted butter. Lightly sprinkle the biscuits with a few grains of large grained salt and chill until firm, about 10 minutes. At this point you can either freeze them or bake them for 20 minutes until golden. Let them cool slightly before serving.

Sweet Lemon-Poppy Variation

Delicious slathered with jam for breakfast or with a cup of tea or coffee.

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 lemon's grated zest
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Whisk the 1/4 cup granulated sugar into the dry ingredients before stirring in the lemon zest and poppy seeds. Then add the buttermilk. Before cutting sprinkle with sugar crystals.

Herb-Gryere Cheese Variation

This combination is infinitely variable. Try grated sharp cheddar and minced chives or chopped rosemary and grated Parmesan.

1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped sage leaves or ground sage
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

Stir the above ingredients into the dry ingredients just before adding buttermilk.

Savory Cranberry-Walnut Variation

These biscuits make fantastic turkey sandwiches. If you make the biscuits small you can sandwich them with leftover turkey for hors d'oeuvres.

1 small shallot, minced
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 pinch of pepper

Stir all of these ingredients into flour mixture just before adding buttermilk.


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