Comfort Food

Comfort Food

Chicory Cousins!


We were sitting at CafĂ© DuMonde in New Orleans when we first tasted coffee with chicory in it.  Joe and I fell in love with the flavor and brought home a few cans of  the stuff.  Back at that  time, you couldn’t get online and order it … and nobody sold it in our little rural corner of  the world!  Now it is easy to get and I recently bought a wintertime supply of the K-cups!

The practice of drying and grinding chicory roots to add to coffee probably came about in America during the Civil War.  It was simply the way of either completely substituting the use of coffee beans or making what coffee beans you had go much farther. In other countries, however, it was a common practice long before that time.  In India, Southeast Asia, South Africa and in France the proportions of chicory to coffee vary, but the cultures still enjoy the  combination.  In the 1970s, Germany experienced a coffee crisis (so did the United States, because I remember it) and started combining coffee and chicory.  Then the combination became popular in Spanish, Greek, Turkish, Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian cuisines.  Oh, there is such a global love of coffee!

Chicory isn’t only about coffee.  Chicory leaves are used in many cultures.  In the United States, we probably see wild chicory growing wild alongside highways … with other wildflowers.  In many places, it is widely cultivated for its leaves.  The leaves are eaten raw in salads. The name changes depending upon the locality.   In Italy, red radicchio is very popular and is prepared in salads and soups and is grilled as a side dish.  In Greece, radiki is boiled and used in salads, but it is also baked into savory pies with the addition of spinach, onion and feta cheese.  The Germans roast endive and new potatoes and serve it with a tangy cream sauce. 

Chicory dates to ancient Greek and Roman times.  It was used for medicinal purposes and was known as a sedative favored by insomniacs. It was cultivated in the 1500s in Italy, but the deep red little ball of bitterness wasn’t developed in 1860.  A Belgian grower took the plants from the ground, placed them in vats of water in darkened sheds.  The elimination of sunlight also eliminated the production of chlorophyl, so the plants turned deep red.

The chicory plant has big roots that look like white carrots.  Those are the roots that are dried and ground into coffee.  Chicory has several cousins including endive and the beautiful radicchio that I’m preparing today.  Dandelions are a cousin to chicory and the greens have a similar flavor!  Frisee and escarole are also cousins, and both have the bitter, tart flavor.

When I search American cookbooks from my favorite vintage period … the 1950s and 60s … I don’t find many recipes for Radicchio.  There are many recipes, however, for chicory greens sauteed with a spritz of vinegar and cookbooks from Midwest and Southern localities often include recipes for wilting dandelion greens or frying the blossoms. There are plenty of recipes for soups that include escarole, and they aren’t necessarily parts of Italian cuisine. 

Today, you get two recipes.  The first is my after Thanksgiving creamed soup.  The second recipe is what we put on that soup today!  Unique and delicious!

 


Creamed Potato Soup

Made with Thanksgiving Leftovers

5 medium russet or golden potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 turkey wing tip left from the roasted turkey

Left over creamed corn (2 cups more or less)

Left over mashed potatoes (2 cups more or less)

A few leaves of fresh sage

1 small onion, chopped

1 to 2 cups of left over giblet gravy

1 cup of cream or half and half

 

SautĂ© the cubed potatoes, onions and fresh sage in a little olive oil, until the onions begin to turn translucent.  Add 2 cups of water and the turkey wing and let the potatoes simmer until they are done.  Remove the turkey.  Add the creamed corn, mashed potatoes and gravy.  Use an immersion blender and puree the soup.  Finish with the cream, adding more if the soup is too thick.

You can add salt and pepper, but the already prepared foods will probably include enough seasoning.

This soup is a little bit sweet because of the addition of corn.  That makes it a perfect base for the radicchio leaves.


Fried Radicchio Leaves

These are a perfect topping for this cream soup.  They would also be delicious on a fresh salad.

Heat a half inch of olive in a heavy skillet. Pull several leaves from the head of radicchio and dust them with flour.  Gently lay them in the hot oil and turn them over as soon as the edges start to brown.  If you want a thicker crust, dip the leaves in an egg wash before dipping in the flour.

Drain the leaves on a paper towel and place them on top of a steaming bowl of creamy potato soup.

 



This post is a part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetables project!  Click through the menu tab to see similar posts.  I’ll also be sharing with a couple of blog parties, so check my list on the sidebar.

 

Enjoy!

Thanksgiving 2020

I don't set many extra elegant tables anymore! My family enjoys casual dining, and I enjoy piling all the food on the table and serving family style. Our 2020 Thanksgiving tablescape is traditionally friendly, pretty but easy going!

Phoebe helped me create this tablescape, but she wasn't crazy about my color combination.  My Johnson Brothers Turkey china lends itself to many colors, and this year I wanted pink, plum and blue.  Look for those colors through this post!

Our food was traditional with a few unusual dishes.  Phoebe and her mother did a virtual class with Food Network's Gullah chef from Charleston, South Carolina. I worked hard at teaching my daughter food cultures as she was growing up and she does the same thing with Phoebe.  Our Thanksgiving had a Gullah menu!


When we think of pralines, we think of New Orleans and my favor came from New Orleans.  Pralines are a part of the South Carolina Low Country and the Georgia Coastal cuisines, as well.  The most unusual addition to our menu was a green bean combination.  The beans are sauteed with bacon until the desired softness.  I added onions, fresh thyme and a little garlic, but at the end of cooking we added a couple dozen little clams and a cup of white wine.  Delicious!




Our place setting was very traditional!  My husband bought my Johnson Brothers china - 12 place settings of it - the year he invited several of his college student workers for Thanksgiving Dinner!  Joe always thought kids that couldn't go home for the holiday should still have a family to be with.  For a few years, our family hosted these kids.  



Instead of creating a centerpiece on our table, I created an end piece.  We composed using velvet and glass pumpkins, natural woven pumpkins, blue florals and the lady pilgrim that I've had for several years.


Lady Pilgrim's partner was set up on the opposite end of the table, joined with a ceramic turkey and more pumpkins!



I'll be sharing this post with a couple blog parties, so make sure you check out my list on my sidebar.


HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


Slice of Pie Tablescapes Series #3

Take a look at this blog post for my Thanksgiving 2014 Ruby Red tablescape!  It all started with a red satin place mat!




Slice of Pie Cookbooks & Entertaining: Ruby Red Thanksgiving!: When you've lost three of the people who were always seated at your Thanksgiving Dinner table, it gets harder to enjoy the holiday. W...

Slice of Pie Tablescapes Series #2

Here's a look at my unique Thanksgiving tablescape that showcased foods that had come from local farmers' markets!  Some were fresh, but most of the fruits and vegetables had been preserved during the summer months.  Enjoy this second post in my Tablescapes Series for the 2020 holidays!



Slice of Pie Cookbooks & Entertaining: Farmers' Market Thanksgiving 2019: Farmers' Market Thanksgiving 2019 Every family meal I prepare begins with a theme.  Thanksgiving is no exception, and you can lo...

Pineapple and Cheese


Today I’m sharing a recipe that you’ve probably never seen.  That is, unless you have had it at my house or at the home of someone close to my mother’s circle of friends from the 1950s!  I have seen this recipe in one local women’s group cookbook, included by a friend of mine.  I have never seen it in any other place … and don’t know where it might have originated!  If you know, please share with me because I’ve been curious my whole life!

Pineapple and Cheese is a salad that my dad loved.  When I introduced it to my husband, he loved it.  My siblings love it, and our kids love it!  When I mention it to other people, they immediately think of a cheese and pineapple baked casserole.  That isn't our specialty!  Our's is a cold salad with big chunks of juicy pineapple and cheddar cheese.

I’ve written about the history of pineapple this year and you can find that post right here.  I’m going to share some holiday meal memories from my childhood home during my favorite vintage period of the 1950s and 60s!

Thanksgiving always included a big dinner for a big family!  Turkey and the best dressing ever!  Mother always stuffed the bird, but she also baked a big pan of dressing.  She topped that dressing in the pan with the turkey’s neck!  I used to do that too, but you don’t  get much of a turkey neck anymore!  The giblets always went in Mother’s gravy, but not before she simmered them to make delicious broth!  I remember distinctly the pan she used for that.  Of course, I do that, too!  Unlike Mama, I add a yellow onion with its skin, a carrot and a stalk of celery to my giblets simmering.

Mama made sweet potatoes one way … for any meal when she served them!  She would boil the sweet potatoes in advance, cool them and peel them.  Sometimes that preparation was done the night before Thanksgiving.  Candied sweet potatoes were simple.  She melted butter in a big cast iron skillet and added big chunks of the sweet potatoes.  Then she added brown sugar to caramelize them.  A little salt and they were perfect!

The Thanksgiving table included celery stuffed with Kraft Neufchatel Cheese with Pineapple.   She bought those expensive little glasses of cheese three times a year … Easter, Thanksgiving


and Christmas!  Green olives stuffed with pimento and tiny, sweet gherkins filled a cute little divided relish dish!  Of course, like most midwestern homes, mashed potatoes were on the Thanksgiving table.  I truly do not remember the vegetables that my mother served when I was a child.  I probably didn’t eat them!  I distinctly remember Mother’s homemade cranberry sauce, though.  She called it cranberry relish, but it was actually a gelatin salad.  We ground the fresh cranberries and they were not cooked.  We ground oranges and nuts and celery!  When I say ‘we ground’ … I mean we ground them in an old meat grinder that you fastened to a table or counter edge.  We didn’t have a place to fasten the grinder in the kitchen, so we fastened it to a basement step and that is where the grinding took place!  All of the ground up goodness was set in a lemon gelatin, but you could never detect the gelatin.  I still make that occasionally, but my daughter and I love canned cranberry sauce … jellied without the berries!  With all the cooking from scratch that we both do;  it is almost embarrassing to admit that!

The star on my mother’s holiday tables was never the turkey or the ham.  It was also a little pressed glass dish of Pineapple and Cheese!  Here’s the recipe!




Mama's Pineapple and Cheese


1 can of pineapple chunks 
8 ounces of cheddar cheese, cut in chunks 
1 egg 
¼ cup of sugar 
1 Tablespoon of corn starch

Drain all the juice from the can of pineapple and use it to make the sauce.  In a small pan, add the sugar and corn starch to the pineapple juice and whisk it over low heat until it thickens.  Set the pan aside and let everything cool slightly.  In a bowl, whisk the egg and temper it by whisking in some of the warm sauce.  Add the tempered egg to the sauce and whisk it until well blended.  Combine the pineapple chunks and the cheese and pour the sauce over it.  Stir it gently and refrigerate until ready to serve.

If you are afraid of the egg, since it is only coddled and not cooked, you can eliminate it.   The sauce won’t be as rich without it, though.

 



This post is a part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetables project.  I’m also sharing it with a couple blog parties, so take a look at the list on my sidebar.


HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Slice of Pie Tablescapes Series #1

Beginning  today, and hopefully each day during December, I'll be repurposing some old posts about tablescapes that have made my friends and family very happy!  I won't be sharing lots of words ... but pretty pictures instead!  This first post of my 2020 Slice of Pie Tablescapes Series is a sunroom table set for four three different ways.  First for a family lunch; then for a Halloween supper and then for a Thanksgiving luncheon!  The same table ... 3 different groups of people ... 3 different ways!  Enjoy.














Parsnips & Pears!

Parsnips are nearly as old as time!  They were no more popular during my favorite vintage period of the 1950s and 60s as in all other times!  I introduced myself to parsnips twenty years ago when I made a recipe for Winter White Soup, a creamed soup using only white root vegetables.  To my knowledge, I’d never had  a parsnip prior to that!

Parsnips should not be confused with white carrots.  Although a part of the carrot and parsley family, their flavor is slightly different.  They are sweet like carrots but have a bite of an earthy tone that makes me think of nuts.  Parsnips are often hidden in recipes!  They are used in soups, sometimes mashed as a thickening agent.  They are cubed and sliced and dropped in vegetable soups.  They are cooked whole in the preparation of stocks and sauces, sometimes removed and sometimes left in and pureed for thickening. Medium sized parsnips are the best.  The ones left in the ground through the winter are the sweetest.  There is so much flavor on the outside peel … don’t peel them!  Use a vegetable brush to clean them.

Native to the Eurasian continent, parsnips really have been around forever.  Writings of the Greeks and Romans note that it was difficult to differentiate between parsnips and carrots.  Carrots were white and purple during those times.  Both vegetables were cultivated by the Romans.  Roman Emperor Tiberius like parsnips so much that he accepted a tribute to Rome from Germany … mostly made of of parsnips!  Prior to the use of beets to process sugar, parsnips were used for that purpose.

The plants found their way to North America when French colonists took them to Canada, and British colonists took them to the Thirteen Colonies.  Parsnips were used as a starchy vegetable and not until the middle 1800s were they replaced by potatoes!

By the late 1800s, parsnips had regained popularity in England and in America.  England’s Royal Agricultural College cross cultivated some plants with wild stock and created an improved vegetable that was sweeter and easier to grow.


How were parsnips prepared in those times?  They were sliced or cubed, boiled and smothered with cream sauce.  They were sliced and fried just like we fry potatoes.  They were sliced, battered and fried.  They were cooked, smashed and formed into fritters or croquettes.  Often the croquettes were made even better by the addition of chopped walnuts.  They were stewed, mashed like potatoes and often with potatoes.  They were browned in butter or bacon grease.  THEY WERE MADE INTO PIES!  Yes!  I have a 1954 recipe for Sweet Parsnip Pie Parsnips can be cooked and pureed like pumpkin, flavored with a little lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg … and the pie is delicious!  Use your favorite pumpkin pie recipe, adding a teaspoon of lemon zest and replacing the pumpkin with pureed parsnip.  The flavor is amazing!

Today I’m sharing a recipe that is brand new to me!  We recently visited my son-in-law’s uncle’s farm and he invited us to take all the pears we could carry from this beautiful pear tree.  Many of the pears had fallen to the ground and the kids enjoyed shaking the branches so more fell!  We left with bags of pears and I couldn’t wait to find an unusual recipe for them.  Of course, just eating them fresh might be the best way to enjoy them!

As I was thumbing through my vintage cookbooks, a neat recipe jumped right out!  This puree of pears and parsnips is delicious.  I adjusted the recipe to make me happy, and I encourage you to try it.  Think “mash up” instead of “baby food puree”!   Think chunky applesauce!

 


 

Parsnip and Pear Mash

 

4 ripe pears

4 medium sized parsnips

¼ cup honey

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

Peel and slice the pears.  If you have over-ripe spots, use that too.  Scrub and slice the parsnips.  Cook the pears and parsnips and the sprigs of thyme with a cup of water in a crock pot.  Cook them on low for 6 – 8 hours.   Drain off the juice, but keep it for another purpose, and put the pears and parsnips in a food processor.  Blend to the consistency that you prefer.  If you like chunky applesauce, leave some chunks in this too! 

This can be frozen.  Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.  Serve it warm, room temperature or cold.   I plan to serve it at Christmastime!

 


This is a part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetable Project!  Click the menu to find similar posts.  I’ll be sharing with a couple blog parties, so click through the list on my sidebar!  Enjoy!

Rosemary Lemon Chicken

Today I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes that is perfect for a day when you don’t want to spend much time in the kitchen!  I’ve recently finished the harvest of most of the herb plants that I have grown in little pots outside each season, because we had our first freezing temperature the other night.  Friends often ask me how I store herbs.  I don’t go through the process of drying them or hanging them.  I just throw them in bags and freeze them.  I love them fresh in the summer and I love them right out of the freezer, too.

My mother never cooked with herbs.  She kept dried parsley in a little tin and always had garlic powder and other seasonings, but not fresh herbs.  It wasn’t a part of her 1960s kitchen.  Daddy grew everything he enjoyed eating, so I guess herbs weren’t important to him either!

Rosemary is native to the dry Mediterranean.  I first saw giant rosemary plants in my sister’s California neighborhood and could believe how big the plants grew in that climate.  Of course, here in humid Southern Illinois, we have to work at making the plants grow to that size.  Some folks do, but I’m never successful at that!

The early history of the herb is interesting.  Garlands of the herb were worn by early Greeks and Romans to improve their memory.  Charlemagne grew the herb in his royal gardens.  Napoleon used a cologne that was steeped with rosemary.   Rosemary is a symbol of loyalty, love and happiness.  There is a legend that says that the rosemary flower was originally white.  It changed to blue with the Virgin Mary draped her shawl on the plant when resting during the Flight to Egypt.

The other ingredients in this recipe that were not a part of my mother’s kitchen during my favorite vintage period … the 1950s and 60s … are lemons.  Lemons, citrus in general, were expensive.  When a bag of lemons came to our house, it ended up in fresh squeezed lemonade.  That is a topic for another post!  Mother made a wonderful lemon meringue pie, but she used the box mix for the filling!  I don’t like those made any other way!

According to foodtimeline.org, lemons originated in northern India.  Lemons didn’t grow in the Mediterranean until the end of the first century. The Romans discovered a direct sea route from the Red Sea to India.  The Arabs get the credit for spreading the lemon through the Mediterranean region and to China through the trade routes.  Columbus carried lemons to the New World.

A few hundred years later in the United States, in a journal article written by Dr. Frank McCoy in 1928, other uses for lemons are detailed.  According to McCoy, women were especially concerned about their beauty during this time!  They used lemon juice on their hands after washing dishes.  The used lemon juice on their hair after washing it.  People were encouraged to carry bottles of lemon juice when traveling to areas where fresh citrus might not be available.  We had already learned how important lemons were from a health standpoint. 


Rosemary Lemon Chicken

The recipe I’m sharing today is so good.  You’ll be out of the kitchen within 30 minutes, and then you’ll just enjoy the aromas coming from the kitchen!  It is a crockpot recipe!

I used bone in chicken pieces (with skin) that I'd already cut up and frozen ... and thawed overnight in the refrigerator. Dredge the chicken in a light coating of flour and pan fry it in a little olive oil ... turning it one time ... and frying it just long enough to put some  color on the skin. Place each piece in the crock pot and try to make a single layer. I drizzled a couple Tablespoons of the pan juices/oil over the meat, ground a generous amount of white pepper over the meat, then topped each piece of chicken with a slice of lemon and tossed in several sprigs of Rosemary. Add a cup of chicken stock to the bottom of the pot ... cover the crockpot and turn it on high. This usually takes about 3 hours, depending upon the size of the pieces.  I used a whole chicken this time, but I frequently make this with all breasts or all thighs. 

The sauce remaining in the crock pot is perfect to serve over rice, noodles or even mashed potatoes. It also makes a really good base for lemon chicken soup, so mine went right to the freezer for a snowy day that I know is in my future!

The other thing that I love about this chicken is that it makes really good chicken salad for sandwiches.  The kick of lemon makes it exceptional!  Use your favorite recipe!


This is a part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetables project.  I’ll also be sharing with a couple blog parties, so check out my sidebar list.  Enjoy!

Coffee & Biscotti


I was sitting outside a favorite coffee shop the other morning,  I was doing a little bit of networking for my job, but after I talked to the few people that were there … six feet a part … I took time to enjoy my coffee and scone … and  to ponder a bit.

Oh, how the world of coffee has changed in my lifetime!  When I was a little child, our next door neighbor named Frankie drank coffee all day long!  My mom used to ask her how she could drink coffee on a summer afternoon.  I can answer that question now.  I love coffee and my husband loved coffee.

In 1977, we lived in a beautiful double A-Frame home in the middle of 40 acres of standing oak.  Drinking coffee, sitting on one of the decks, was about as enjoyable as any part of our lifestyle!  It was also in 1977, when coffee prices skyrocketed.  It was so expensive that old-timers were talking about grinding hickory nuts and adding to the coffee to make it go farther.  I guess that couldn’t be much different than adding chicory root to coffee.  I would have liked it because I love coffee and chicory!

Coffee drinking became popular in America right after the Boston Tea Party, for obvious reasons!  During the Civil War, plenty of coffee rations were provided to soldiers on both sides.  During World War II, instant coffee was provided to soldiers.  My daddy used to tell a story of how he carried a little coffee pot and  a small kerosene stove when he was on Okinawa.  He also had a frying pan. He would tell us that when he could find coffee to brew, he felt closer to home.  For the rest of his life, my dad drank coffee out of mugs he brought back for wartime.  If you want to read more about that, click right here.

In my favorite vintage period, the 1950s, coffee was commonplace in most households.  Maxwell House and Folgers brands were the most popular.  Holiday parties often included “coffees” complete with all kinds of sweet treats and good coffee. Silver coffee urns and glass carafes were popular.   Coffee houses emerged in London in the 1950s and set a trend that found its way to New York City. Seattle became the hottest spot for coffee shops in the 1970s.  In the 1990s, coffee shops started popping up in cities all over the United States.  I’ll never forget a trip I made to Seattle when that was happening.  I couldn’t believe how exciting it was for me, a coffee lover, to zip from shop to shop sampling different varieties and strengths of coffee.  We had always dressed up coffee!  We loved Mexican Coffee flavored with cinnamon and Kahlua and Joe’s Christmas Coffee spiked with bourbon and stirred with a peppermint stick … both topped with whipped cream! I returned home from that Seattle trip, bought an espresso maker, and thus began the world of International coffees in the Moore home!  My husband subscribed to a world coffee club, and we enjoyed a new flavor each month, until we found our favorites.  My husband died before k-cup makers hit the market, but I’m sure he has one in Heaven, and I’m sure my dad is with him enjoying every cup!     

I’m going to share my recipe for biscotti today.  It is one of my favorite things to dunk in good coffee.  We think of modern coffee shops when we think of biscotti, but it dates to early Roman times.  The twice baked cookie, dried to a crunchy state, was initially used because of long storage.  It was dipped in wine in those earliest times.  Other European cultures have similar cookies. British have rusks; the French have Croquets de Carcassonne; and Germans have Zwieback (which many moms use when their babies are teething).

 


Biscotti


2 ½ cups flour 
1 cup sugar 
3 teaspoons baking powder 
½ teaspoon salt 
¼ cup milk 
½ cup canola oil 
1 teaspoon anise extract 
1 teaspoon almond extract 
3 eggs 
¼ cup finely ground nuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Sift all the dry ingredients together.  Add the eggs and liquid ingredients to a big mixing bowl and beat until frothy.  Slowly blend in the dry ingredients.  If you have bread making attachments for your mixer, use them.  As the dough begins to stick together, drop in the nuts.  They need to be finely ground … but any nuts will work.

When the dough has formed a nice ball, separate it in half.  Form each half into a loaf and place it on a well-greased baking sheet.  Parchment paper or a silicone sheet works better, but if you don’t have that, use a little extra spray on the sheet.



Bake for 20 – 25 minutes in the preheated oven.  Stick a pick in the middle and make sure it comes out clean.   Remove from the oven and let the loaves cool for 10 minutes.  Remove them from the baking sheet to a cutting board and cut the biscotti into ½ or ¾ inch slices.   If you want a longer biscotti, cut them at an angle across the loaf.

Place the slices back in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.  Turn each one over and bake another 10 minutes.  Let them cool on the baking sheet.

** There are a few ways to adjust this recipe.  You can use different extracts and flavorings or add lemon or orange zest.  Dip them in melted chocolate or drizzle them with a frosting of your choice.  Sprinkle chopped nuts or tiny chocolate morsels.  My favorite will always be anise extract and dipped in chocolate!

 



I’m posting this as a part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetable project.  Click the menu tab for other old recipes and stories!  I’ll also share with a couple blog parties so take a look at my list on the sidebar.  Enjoy!

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