Tuesday, September 19, 2017

"The Firefighter's Cookbook - Award-Winning Recipes From a Fire-Fighting Chef" by John Sineno - Chicken Marsala - 9/11/2017

Date I made this recipe:  September 11, 2017 – 16th Anniversary of 9/11

The Firefighter's Cookbook – Award-winning Recipes from a Fire-Fighting Chef by John Sineno (Engine 58, NYC)
Published by Vintage Books
ISBN: 0-394-74429-2; © 1986
Purchased at Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, NYC
Recipe:  Chicken Marsala – p. 19 – submitted by Jim Sherwood, Ladder 19 (Bronx, NY)

On 9/11/2001, 343 members of the FDNY (Fire Department New York) died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Twin Towers.

On 8/1/2017, I purchased this cookbook at Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks in New York City's West Village with, I have to admit, the intention on cooking from this on 9/11/17, the 16th observance of the fall of the Twin Towers.  It's uncanny how many times over the years that I've discovered and purchased a cookbook just when I need it.

When I noticed that this book was published in 1986 (5 years before 9/11), I decided that I simply had to know if any of the firefighters and related personnel who submitted recipes for this book perished when the towers fell.  I found two similar sources on the internet and so book in hand, I started my search, always fearful that I would find a "match."

I am relieved to report that not a single name in this book appeared on the list.  That said, we continue to mourn the fallen from that horrible, horrible day.

For the record, my small hometown in Michigan has a volunteer fire department.  Although they were best known for putting on a fantastic water fight every 4th of July, they continue to do this work because they love it and really, if you are going to be a firefighter, it is essential that you love what you do!

In 1986 when he wrote The Firefighter's Cookbook, author John Sineno, was a twenty-three year veteran with Engine 58, and a two-time first prize winner in annual cooking competitions among NYC firehouses; he retired in 1992.

Sineno's cookbook is filled with recipes from fellow firefighters across NYC (and a few from firefighters in NJ); administrators such as commissioners, assistant commissioners, and even a secretary to an administrator; a medic; a counsel to the FDNY, and a chaplain.  

As you might imagine, some of the recipe yields in this cookbook are huge as they are intended to feed firehouse staff.  Although I often divide recipes in half, breaking down a recipe that serves 8 or more is fraught with peril.  When you end up using "1/16th teaspoon" of an ingredient, you have to ask yourself "Why bother?"  Sometimes, the taste itself also suffers and I wanted to avoid that which is why I shelved the otherwise delicious-sounding "Tortellini Meatball Soup" that served 16-20 people.  (Apologies to Capt. Pat Buttino, Engine 263.)

Recipe yields aside, I liked this cookbook because it was pretty compact and the recipes all sounded really good.  Your chapter options are:
  • Main Courses
  • Pastas and Soups (I would expect nothing less than a "pasta" chapter of an NYC cookbook)
  • Side Dishes
  • Desserts
Recipes up for consideration were:
  • "Seafood Newburg" – p. 10
  • "New Orleans Jambalaya"- p. 23
  • "Pepper Steak" – p. 29 (This calls for six pounds of skirt steak.  Six???)
  • "Artichoke Pie" – p. 59
  • "Scalloped Potatoes and Onions" – p. 105
  • "Pistachio Mousse" – p. 139
 And honestly, aside from a few fishes dishes (I don't like fish), there didn't seem to be a clunker in the bunch.  That has to be a first.

Initially, I was gung-ho on the "Scalloped Potatoes and Onions" but I wasn't sure I would get the rich, creaminess I am used to with this recipe and didn't know what to make about the inclusion of mayonnaise. 

Then I was thinking about the "Seafood Newburg" but it seemed like too heavy of a dish for what I was looking for plus it was topped with Swiss Cheese and that didn't work for me. In fact, I don't think that is a traditional topping.

So hmmm....what to make, what to make....okay, Chicken Marsala, final answer.  In fact, I was quite chuffed that I selected this because I had Marsala wine on hand so I used it and then realized afterwards that it was "dry" Marsala wine, not "sweet."

This explains much.  I mean, the flavor wasn't bad but it definitely did not taste like other Chicken Marsala dishes I have known and loved.  No worries:  The next day, I stopped at the liquor store, bought the "correct" Marsala and then added it to my leftovers!

Before I go, I wanted to note that 57 firefighters and related personnel contributed to this cookbook. I imagine many, maybe even most, are now retired but it should never be taken fore granted that it takes some kind of courage for these firefighters, and those who lost their lives on 9/11/2001, to run willingly into danger when others are fleeing;  for this, I salute you.

N.B.  Right after I published this blog, I realized that I had my own little fire marshal story to share. 

In 1997 or thereabouts, I worked for Wells Fargo in one of the taller office buildings in downtown Minneapolis.  Wells Fargo needed to have volunteer floor fire marshals for each floor that the employees occupied and so I became one for my floor. I even got an official hat! 

The floor fire marshals' job was to make sure employees left via the stairwell (never the elevator) and to check for stragglers.  Floor marshals were always the last ones to leave.

That year, we had several drills, some planned and some not planned, and actually one microwave fire on another floor that caused us all to exit the building, so I was a busy gal. To help me out, I enlisted the aid of a fellow co-worker, whose name I can't recall but let's call her "Sandy."  Sandy helped me do a sweep of the floor before we both left via the stairwell. This gal was really funny but took her job seriously.  After one event, she no sooner saluted me and said "Perimeter clear, sir," when a guy came running around the corner and down the stairs.

"Hey! You!  Where did you come from!"  She was so mad that she had missed him, sneaky bastard!  

Now, the interesting things about fire drills at this time (pre-9/11) was that all floor marshals were told specifically not to force anybody to leave, and in fact, one guy refused to go because he was in the middle of something. Lucky for him, it was a drill and not the real thing.

Post-9/11, the thought that anybody would remain in place, drill or no drill, seems ridiculous if not downright dangerous. I have to wonder too, if companies have changed their informal policy and now require everybody to leave; I hope so.  Remember when employees in the second tower were told all was well and they should return to their desks? (I believe the "all-clear" command though, came from the building management and not each individual company housed in the tower.) I pretty sure I've read that the vast majority of people who defied that command and kept walking down the stairs to safety, lived to tell about it.

If this happened to me today, I believe I too, would skedaddle, but only after ensuring everyone else was okay, of course.  Once a floor fire marshal, always a floor fire marshal!

Chicken Marsala – Servings: 4 (Ann's Note:  Even half the recipe made quite a lot) – recipe submitted by Jim Sherwood, Ladder 19 (Bronx, NY)
2 pounds chicken cutlets, pounded
½ pound butter
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound mushrooms
1 shallot 1 ½ cups sweet Marsala wine
1 bunch parsley, minced
2 lemons, halved

Clean chicken cutlets, remove excess fat.  Cut into medallion-size pieces.  Melt ¼ pound butter in a skillet and add olive oil.  Dredge chicken in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.  Shake off excess and sauté to golden brown.  Place chicken in an ovenproof pan and set aside.

Separate mushroom caps from stems.  Mince shallot and mushroom stems, quarter or slice mushroom caps.  Melt remaining butter and sauté shallots and mushrooms, and cook until mushrooms release their juice.  Remove from heat and add Marsala and 1 tablespoon minced parsley.  Season to taste and simmer for 5 minutes.

While mixture is simmering, squeeze juice of 2 lemons over chicken.  Pour sauce mixture over chicken, cover, and cook at 350°F for 15- 20 minutes.  Garnish with parsley.  Serve with noodles Alfredo.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

"The Hungry Fan's Game Day Cookbook" - Cheeseburger Soup - NFL season begins!

Date I made this recipe:  Sunday, September 10, 2017 – NFL Season Begins!

The Hungry Fan's Game Day Cookbook by Daina Falk
Published by Oxmoor House
ISBN: 13: 978-0-8487-4583-7; © 2016
Purchased at: Half-Price Books
Recipe:  Cheeseburger Soup – p. 67

Already?  In these parts, we just finished the annual Minnesota State Fair, and then there was Labor Day and yet despite evidence to the contrary, such as training camps and pre-season games, it's time for our favorite teams to hit the gridiron as pro football season begins.

I'm still stuck in summer mode and even after fall commences on September 22, I'll still be stuck in summer mode.  And then I'll be stuck in "I can't wait for summer" mode for the rest of the year but that's another story for another day.

So right on schedule, high school, college, and the pros all commenced firing on the field last weekend and now we are off and running with our usual and customary hair-pulling, teeth-gnashing, and finger-crossing until February when Super Bowl 52 will be played in Minneapolis.  This is not to say that my rival team, the Vikings, will be in it but it will be played here.

At any rate, faithful readers know that I am a Green Bay Packers Shareholder which is to say, Owner, meaning I wanted to start my guys off on the right foot as this season gets underway.  My goal for using The Hungry Fan's Game Day Cookbook was to find a dish befitting my team and by page 67, I found it:  Cheeseburger Soup (For "Cheeseheads" everywhere, "cheesehead" being the world's nickname for Packers fans.  Wisconsin.  Cheese.  Get it?)

What I really loved about this soup is that it included also some spinach and yes, I could be giddy about it because spinach is good for you, but the green offset the yellow of the cheese and green and gold are the Packers colors.  Signs point to "yes" to this being a good omen.

So far, I've talked about football, but this cookbook is intended for hungry fan's of any sport.  In fact, Ms. Falk's father was an NBA sports agent.  I cannot say that pro basketball floats my boat, but if I was a fan, then naturally, I might want some game day food.  At any rate, she almost followed in her father's footsteps to become a sports agent, but switched it up and created instead, this cookbook and a website called Hungry Fan (www.hungryfan.com) that includes a blog, recipes, and other tips.  She also refers to "Tailgating" as "Fangating" which I have to say is more fitting these days.

Speaking of tailgating,  I have to confess that I've only tailgated a few times, mostly when the Twins or Vikings, or even the former soccer team played in the old Met Stadium in Bloomington, MN, where the Mall of America now stands.

If you are horrified that I went to a Vikings game, you should know that all games I attended (no matter what the sport) were all company-related events and it all happened decades ago. 

In my opinion, tailgating at a company function is boring.  In fact, it's almost non-existent.  If we had food at all, it was usually under a big tent and sometimes even in a special "company"-related section and not with the other fans.  Also?  Imbibing alcohol was often frowned upon even though this was still the age of the three-martini lunch.  I found it somewhat hilarious to be whooping it up at a game with my co-workers whilst sipping a soda.  Also, when the old Met Stadium was torn down, the location of the new stadium (now torn down), the Metrodome, had little land on which to tailgate, defeating the whole purpose of going to a football game...well, besides the game itself!

Now tailgating at Lambeau is an art as the entire parking lot is filled with fans and food.  Stories are rife of tailgaters offering food to passerby's but alas, we never got a morsel.  We didn't care because it was just fun to be there and I'm pretty sure most tailgaters say the same.  For those who party at home, in some ways this cookbook is skewed towards you as some of the dishes seem to require kitchen availability which of course is hard to emulate in a parking lot unless you are a southern school in which case, nothing gets in the way of these fans' tailgating.  Nothing. 

Okay then, hungry fans, here are your chapter choices:
  • Starters
  • Soups, Salads, & Flatbreads
  • Sandwiches & Burgers
  • Barbecue & Other Mains
  • Sides
  • Desserts
  • Drinks
Let me just say that while there is nothing wrong with salads at a tailgate or game-day party, I expected to see at least one coleslaw "salad" recipe in this book and there weren't any; that's a demerit, folks.

And Flatbreads?  No.  Flatbreads on game day are just too precocious.  In my mind's eye, I'm trying to picture a bunch of hockey fans eating flatbreads but my brain just won't go there.  Yet another demerit awarded.

Okay, so let's back up a bit to see what fare she features in these categories.  In the Starter chapter, we have  "Shepherd's  Pie Quesadilla Bites" (Hmmm....not sure about that one); "Wisconsin-Style Fried Cheese Curds  ("On Wisconsin!")," plus your basic wings and things, some of which though, are prefaced with the word "healthy" in front of them, as in "Healthy Jalapeno Poppers."

Healthy?  On game day?  Surely, she jests?  Demerit!

In the Soup, Salads, & Flatbread category we have this dish:  "Bacon Brussels Sprouts Soup."

I want you to let that sink in for a minute.  Bacon = good.  Soup ("is good food") = good.  Bacon + soup = tasty!  Even Brussels sprouts on their own = mostly good (depending on how they are prepared), but in a soup?  Never.  Never!  Takes some kind of balls to put that recipe in this book, that does!

Can you imagine hosting a party at your house and offering up "Bacon Brussels Sprouts Soup" to a group of hungry fans?  Aside from the fact that Brussels sprouts are green and the Packers' colors are green and gold, this dish has zero appeal and then there's the smell.  I'm definitely going to have to ding the author for this; we are now up to four demerits.

Happily, she has other recipes of interest:  "Baked Potato Soup" (Now that's more like it!); chili, or even "Kentucky Tomato Bourbon Soup," (When is bourbon in something not good?) but then she goes off-road again with recipes for "Chilled Avocado Soup," which is no doubt delicious unless it is -10 outside; lentil salad (Merciful heavens...no), or my favorite (not really) "Kale Quinoa Salad."

Let me explain something to you:  I have plenty of friends who would love some of the above recipes, and would probably celebrate the "Brussels Sprouts Soup," but you are as unlikely to find these people in my house at game day as you would seeing a moose waltzing down my city street. (Alaskan cities though, are another matter.)

Moving on, in the Sandwiches & Burgers chapter, we have a recipe for a "Bologna Cheesesteak" which honestly sounds pretty good, some hero sandwiches and some decent burgers and then this:  "Bite-Size Cucumber Sandwiches."

Hahahahahahahahahahaha.....Might as well have friends over for high tea if you're going to make that crap recipe.  Total demerits:  five.

Let's see how we fare in our next category, Barbecue & Other Mains, shall we? 

I am happy and relieved to report that she was back on track with recipes for ribs, more ribs, pork, pulled pork, and even fish and chips, not that I ever associate a sports event with fish and chips, but whatever.  (Exception:  sporting events in England and the rest of the British empire.)
The Sides chapter is not bad although my eyebrows raised at the inclusion of "Cassava Pie," a Bermudan recipe that calls for 4 pounds cassava which is apparently, a "woody shrub," similar to a potato or carrots although don't quote me on that.  I just have to say this though: "shrubs?") This dish might have been okay, except it called for 2 cups sugar, some nutmeg, and some vanilla extract.  Thank you, no.  Also?  How is this a side dish? 

 Finally, I do not have any complaints for the last two chapters, Desserts and then Drinks except again, I'm not picturing most sports fans sipping a "Watermelon Cooler" unless they are at Wimbledon, or a polo match.  Just sayin'.

This brings me back then, to the perfect choice for my Packers and hopefully your team as well:  Cheeseburger Soup.   What is not to like about cheese and burgers?  (Well, except for those who are vegetarian or vegan in which case, you are exempted from this quiz.)

Assuming you are a person with whom this recipe resonates, let's continue on.

For once, I decided to make a full recipe (Serves 6) and was glad I did because the leftovers were great.  As you might imagine, you cook ground beef, add in some other things, make your creamy broth and ta-da!  Just think of this as a deconstructed cheeseburger and you'll be good.

Let me just observe that I don't think you need a sporting event to make this soup as it was mighty tasty, game or no game.

Cheeseburger Soup – Serves 6
1 ¼ pounds ground beef
4 slices bacon
4 tablespoons butter
½ medium onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, diced
8 ounces sliced baby portobello mushrooms
2 cups tightly packed baby spinach
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley, plus more for garnish
¼ cup all-purpose flour
6 slices Monterey Jack, cheese (Ann's Note:  I substituted Havarti.)
¼ cup ketchup
1 cup half-and-half (Ann's Note:  I had milk and cream on hand so I mixed them together.)
¼ cup sour cream, optional
1 ripe tomato, chopped for garnish, optional
Cook the beef in a large Dutch oven over medium-high until it browns evenly, about 6 minutes.  Drain and transfer to a plate.

Cook the bacon in the same Dutch oven over medium until it gets crispy, 5 to 7 minutes.  Transfer to a cutting board to cool, and drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan.  Chop the cooled bacon into small, crunchy bits, and set aside.

Using the same Dutch oven, add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the remaining bacon fat (reserve the other 3 T), and stir in the onions and celery.  Sauté until the onions become translucent, about 4 minutes.  Add the mushrooms, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.  Add the spinach.  (It will start to wilt amid the hot veggies.)  Pour into the broth; add the beef, salt, pepper, and parsley, and bring to a simmer.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a small skillet over medium.  Add the flour, and cook for 1 minute while stirring.  The roux should start to bubble, signaling that it's ready.

Add the roux to the soup and bring to a boil for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring well to incorporate the roux.  Reduce the heat, and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Add the cheese, ketchup, reserved bacon, and half-and-half.  Stir well, and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat, let sit for 3 to 5 minutes, and then stir in the sour cream, if desired.

Serve with a sprinkle of additional parsley and the chopped tomatoes for a little color, if you like.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Hot Dog Cookbook - Hot Dog Bean Bake, a la Kraut - Labor Day 2017

Date I made this recipe:  September 4, 2017 – Labor Day

The Hot Dog Cookbook – Frankfurter – Weiner – Franks – Coneys by William I. Kaufman
Published by Doubleday & Company Inc.
© 1966
Purchased at Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, NYC
Recipe: Hot Dog Bean Bake, a la Kraut – p. 59

Before I go one step further, I must point out to you that William I. Kaufman published many cookbooks including this one:  The Catholic Cookbook. This is the first time I've seen an "official" cookbook meant to help Catholics cope with dietary restrictions during Lent and other church holidays, and not the usual and customary spiral bound book published by churches everywhere.  I'm intrigued.  Of course, I have to have it, but right now, it will cost me a cool $50.00 to buy it off Amazon so I'm going to see if I can find it for less; forgive me "Father."

Also, I love how the book is stamped inside "Louise Adelia Read Memorial Library Hancock, New York."  My husband and I returned recently from a road trip through NY state and were not far from Hancock.  A couple of days after leaving that area, we went into the New York City where I purchased this hot dog cookbook.  I love how that all accidentally came together.

Once we got home from our trip the first week of August, summer sped by as it is wont to do and like it or not (not), Labor Day was upon us and which meant I had to decide to observe or not observe Labor Day with a cookbook.  I've mentioned before that cooking on major holidays is a challenge for me as I have too many cookbook that might fit a particular observance but not this year! 

This year, I was updating my cookbook list with my newly-acquired titles, and as soon as I saw The Hotdog Cookbook, I let out a sigh of relief as it was the perfect thing for Labor Day because as we know, Labor Day signals the unofficial end of summer and therefore hot dogs.  Please note though, that summer ain't over until it's over which is Friday, September 22, the first official day of autumn.  I cringe as I write this!

Okay, I've established that this year's Labor Day "cookbook" was a gimme, but finding a recipe was not easy given the breadth of my hot dog recipe choices: 
  • Appetizers
  • Soups
  • Main Dishes
  • Sandwiches
  • Salads (Salads?)
  • Cookout
Appetizer hot dog offerings were the usual and customary cocktail dogs and chafing dish dogs along with "Gourmet Hot Dog Dip" – p. 5 and "Hot Dog and Cheese Canapés" – p. 5.  Pass.

The Soups chapter gave me pause with recipes for "Hot Dog Vegetable Chowder" – p. 9, and "Hot Pot of Barley and Hot Dogs" – p. 9.  Again, no.

We'll come back to Main Dishes so we can continue on to Sandwiches.  Happily, this chapter is back on track with recipes for "Chili Topped Hot Dogs" – p. 69, and "Coney De Luxe" – p. 69.  I almost made the Coney recipe but it called for ¼ wheat germ and I don't know what that adds to the recipe, but it caused me to put it in the "no" pile.

Two recipes from that chapter that were also out were "Hot Dog Spread" – p. 73 as the mixture of ground hot dogs, chopped hard-boiled eggs and salad dressing plus a few more ingredients sounded completely unappetizing, as did the recipe for "Hot Dog and Cucumber Spread" – p. 73  Ick.

Speaking of "Ick," the Salad chapter gave me the most pause.  Here, it seems like the guy is just throwing hot dogs into salads because he could and not because it makes sense. 

As an example, the recipe for "Cabbage, Apple, and Hot Dog Salad" – p. 77, is basically a coleslaw with apples, green peppers, mayo and hot dogs.  A "Baked Hot Dog Potato Salad" – p. 7, is a casserole more than a salad, and it's basically a hot potato salad with green beans (green beans?) and hot dogs.

This then, forced my hand back to the Main Dishes chapter with the hopes that I could find something that wasn't ridiculous to make.

"It was the best of [hot dog] times, it was the worst of [hot dog ] times."

"Hot Dog Pilaf" – p. 17, are you kidding me?  Hot dog "pilaf?"  Eesh.  "Asparagus and Hot Dog Stroganoff" – p. 18 is another one that bit the dust.  I just...sigh.  And "Curried Macaroni and Hot Dogs" – p. 39 is ridiculous.  Just ridiculous.  The winner of the "Are you kidding me?" contest, and it is easy to see why, is a recipe for "Hot Dog Crown Roast" – p. 38, where 18 hot dogs are arranged so as to resemble a pork crown roast, complete with the traditional stuffing in the center.

Never will I ever....

Now I know that I was "asking" for it by purchasing this hot-dog focused cookbook, but still people.  Still. 

Happily, a few more sensible choices were left but even then, I was just not feeling some of the options and for once, neither was Andy.  I mean, they were okay but they were also the usual and customary:  "Barbecued Hot Dogs" – p. 32, not to be confused with "Hot Dog Barbecue" on p. 45.  I could have gone with "Hot Dogs with Pork 'N" Beans" – p. 57, but frankly (pun intended) my mother's dish was better.

In the end, we settled for what I call "Hot Dogs, Deconstructed," which is to say Hot Dog Bean Bake, A La Kraut. To me, this was the best of both worlds.  You had your hotdog, you had your baked beans and you had a sauerkraut topping all rolled into one.  It seemed perfect and it was nearly perfect except the sour flavor of the sauerkraut completely overwhelmed the other ingredients.  If I made this dish on Food Network's Chopped, I would have been chopped for not showcasing the other two ingredients, hot dogs and beans.

Still, all is not lost here because you can save the day with few adjustments.  At least I think you can!  The recipe calls for these ingredients:  hot dogs, pork and beans, chili sauce, sauerkraut and dill weed.  Were I to make this again, I think I would have added some brown sugar to the mixture and possibly even a small amount of mustard and ketchup, particularly ketchup to offset the sourness of the kraut.  Plus, the amount of kraut you use here (1 pound, or in my case, a half a pound) is way more than most of us would ever put on our hot dogs and that is what prevented it from being a great dish. It wasn't bad, but wow, my lips puckered!

Nevertheless, I have once again completed the compulsory portion of our Labor Day weekend was is to say, I made hot dogs!  Until next year....

Hot Dog Bean Bake, A La Kraut – makes 5 servings
1 pound hot dogs
2 cans (1 pound each) pork and beans with tomato sauce
¼ cup chili sauce
1 can (1 pound) sauerkraut, drained
½ teaspoon dill weed

Cut 5 hot dogs into bite-size pieces and combine with beans and chili sauce in a 1 ½-quart casserole.  Cover with sauerkraut and sprinkle with dill weed.  Bake in 350° oven for 30 minutes.  Top with whole hot dogs and bake additional 15 minutes.

Ann's Note:  As suggested above, I think the addition of some brown sugar and perhaps even some mustard and ketchup might help cut the tanginess of the sauerkraut.

"Caramel Knowledge" by the late, great local food writer Al Sicherman - Black Bottom (as in chocolate) Banana Cream Pie

Date I made this recipe:  September 4, 2017 – A tribute to a funny food writer

Caramel Knowledge – Bostess Bupcakes, Peanut Butter Coffee, Herring in a Cloud, Wienie Zucchini, and More Food and Culinary Musing for the Twisted Mind (Expanded Edition) by Al Sicherman
Published by Harper & Row, Publishers
0-06-096232-1; © 1988
Recipe: Black-Bottom Banana Cream Pie – p. 128

First, some of you may not be old enough to get the pun in the title:  Carnal Knowledge was a 1971 movie starring (singer/songwriter) Art Garfunkel, Ann-Margaret, Jack Nicholson, and Candice Bergman.  The story takes place at Amherst College in the late 40's, and the plot centers around an exploration of sexual mores at the time.  It also focuses on a contest between Nicholson and Garfunkel to see who can bag the most babes. 

That's about all I know of this movie (thank you, internet) but I do recall that the movie raised eyebrows, even back when it was released in the free-wheeling 70's. 

Second, the writer of today's featured cookbook, "Caramel" Knowledge, Al Sicherman, passed away last week and I am really sad about this.  In observance of his passing, I give you this cookbook.

"Uncle Al," as he was known, was a food columnist for the local newspaper, StarTribune.  Well mostly food.  Sometimes he included stories about other things:  Hmmm, I wonder who that remind me of?

Al's columns were hilarious.  I used to just laugh out loud when I read them, probably because I always felt we shared the same perspective of things which is to say, if something went wrong, surely there was a comedic moment to mine;  Al did a lot of mining.

During the course of his 26-year tenure with the "Strib," Al wrote two columns, his main one, sample titles of which you will see below, and a second one, "Tidbits," and authored two books, Caramel Knowledge and Uncle Al's Geezer Salad.  The Strib noted that even after Al retired from the Strib, he continued to write the "Tidbits" column until 2016.  Very impressive, Al!

All this from a man who started his career as an electrical engineer!  True story.

I'm very happy that Al switched careers (engineering was apparently not for him) and got a masters in journalism so he could go on to write his column.  And while I enjoyed his "Tibits" column, a column where he commented on new food products, it was the longer column that drew me.
Caramel Knowledge is a curated collection of Al's columns.  Like the book's title, the chapters are equally hilarious and often tongue-in-check.  Here's a sampling of his narrative style: 

"Carrots, you will no doubt remember hearing, are supposed to give you good eyesight.  I can attest to the truth of that contention.  I was always able to spot carrots being prepared – even at very great distances – and try not to be home when they were finally served."

His "chapter," Popovers (and Bagels) is funny because of the ending(s), titled "Follow-Up;" "More Follow-Up;" "Still More Follow-Up," and "Final Follow-Up."

Uncle Al was very thorough.

Right from the start, the book's Table of Contest gives us a glimpse of more humor to come. 
  • "Using Up Parsley"
  • "Things That Go Bump in the Oven"
  • "Food for the Twisted Mind"
  • "Great Culinary Expectations"
  • "An Upper Midwest Festival of Hot Dishes"
 You have no idea how much I wanted to make something from the last column seeing as how "hot dishes" (casseroles) are revered in this state, but alas, nothing tripped my trigger.  A "Tuna (or Crab) Appetizer Hot Dish" came close, but no cigar which was unusual for me as I like tuna and crab.  I might have gone with the "Chicken Salad Hot Dish," but paused when I saw that mandarin oranges, a staple of a cold chicken salad, were to be arranged on top of the casserole and then baked for 20 to 25 minutes, ew.  Warm oranges?  I'm thinking "no!"

Here though, are some recipes that I thought worthy of my time:
  • "Chocolate Bread Pudding" – p. 14
  • "Eggplant Casserole Deluxe" – p. 27
  • "Cornbread-Topped Bean and Bratwurst Bake" – p. 34
  • "Mocha Brownies" – p. 35
  • "Six-Legume Soup" – p. 53
  • "Arroz Con Pollo" – p. 182
 And then there are the "also-rans" otherwise known as "No Freaking Way."
  • Herring in a cloud (of blended sour cream and yogurt) – p. 135 (from the Food In A Cloud chapter).  Cloud or no cloud, I don't "do" herring.
  • Kippers (Cured herring.  Brits eat it for breakfast – gaaaaa!) – p. 187 (from the chapter, A British-Mystery Dinner.  How appropriate as it remains a mystery to me why the Brits enjoy the food they do!)
  • Steak and Kidney Pie – p. 189 (same chapter above) Never, ever.
  • Spirals of Starch (lasagna noodles + mashed potatoes + cheese + butter) – p. 212 (from the chapter, Food for the Twisted Mind) These ingredients would be fine if sold separately but not so much when combined. 
  • Cold Lime Cream Soup – p. 216 (from Great Culinary Expectations) Maybe it's just me, but the "lime" in this equation is a record-scratch moment.  Now, lime and tequila, that's another story!

I am happy to report that the recipe we selected, "Black-Bottom Banana Cream Pie" (p. 127-128), was delicious.  This might have been the first time I ever made the "cream" portion of a cream pie and was very happy with the outcome even though I had way more filling than I had room; my finished pie looked like a volcano!

Although this recipe is fairly easy, it will take a bit of time to assemble as you have to melt the chocolate, scald and add some milk, then eggs, then mix again, etc. but it was worth it.  The only minor critique I have is that I pictured the chocolate layer mixing in with the banana cream layer for some total creamy goodness but that is not what happened.  After refrigeration, the chocolate layer sort of separated from the banana layer and so I felt like I was eating two different desserts, not that I cared but that's what it felt like.

No worries.  We love bananas, we love creamy custard fillings, and we love chocolate. I could have done without the pie crust but that's just me:  I'm also a person who prefers frosting over cake, no apologies.

In conclusion, you were a good man, Uncle Al, and I'm glad I purchased your cookbook a long time ago so I had it at the ready to pay you tribute.  And how fitting really, that your book's title is Caramel Knowledge, seeing as how my last attempt to make caramel went haywire, leaving me with scars. After the tears were gone though, I laughed about the incident because as you know, food and kitchen disasters can be funny.  Really funny.  Thanks for sharing your humor with us.

Black-Bottom Banana Cream Pie – makes one 9-inch pie; serves 6-8
Bottom Filling:
1 ½ one-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate (Ann's Note:  A while back, baking chocolate makers switched from one-ounce squares to ¼ ounce squares.  Although I am often math-challenged, this means you will need 6 of these little squares!)
6 tablespoons milk (Ann's Note:  You'll also need another 2 ½ cups milk for the filling)
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt

1 baked 9-inch pie shell

Banana Filling:
½ cup sugar
6 tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups milk
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon vanilla
3 ripe banana's (or bananas)

½ cup heavy cream, whipped

Prepare the bottom filling:
Melt the chocolate in a small saucepan; set aside.  Scald the milk in a saucepan. (Ann's NoteTo scale milk, bring milk to a near-boil (i.e. bubbles start to form), then pull it off the stove.) 

In a mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolk, sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Gradually beat in the scalded milk.

Pour the mixture into the saucepan in which the milk was scalded and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard is smooth and thick – don't boil it.  (Ann's Note:  It seemed to take an awfully long time to thicken this mixture.  What felt like days was probably 10 minutes; be prepared!)

Stir the melted chocolate and spread over the baked pie shell.

Prepare the banana filling:
Combine the sugar, flour and salt in the top of a double boiler over boiling water.  Gradually stir in the milk and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened.  Cover and cook 10 minutes more, stirring constantly.

Beat the egg and egg yolk and beat in a small amount of the hot milk mixture.  Lower the heat under the double boiler so that the water stops boiling.

Pour the diluted egg into the hot milk mixture, stirring it in rapidly.  Allow the mixture to cook over the hot water for two minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.  Cool.

Slice 1 banana and arrange on the chocolate layer.  Immediately slice a second banana into the warm custard mixture and pour into the shell.  (If you wait a long time before you cover them, the first banana slices will darken.)  Chill.

Just before serving, whip the cream and pipe or spoon it over the top of the pie.

Slice the last banana and arrange the slices around the edge of the pie, inserting them into the whipped cream at a slight angle.  Serve immediately.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

"The Green Tomato Cookbook" - Tortilla Casserole and Green Tomato Spice Bread

Date I made these recipes – August 27, 2017 – Celebrating summer and the "arrival" of green tomatoes!

The Green Tomato Cookbook by Paula Simmons
Published by Pacific Search
© 1975
Purchased at Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, NYC
Recipes:  Tortilla Casserole – p. 50 and Green Tomato Spice Bread – p. 11

My friend Dennis mentioned in a Facebook post the other day that he picked some green tomatoes from his garden.

My ears perked up like a dog:  "Green tomatoes?  Did you say 'green tomatoes'?"

People, I've had this cookbook – The Green Tomato Cookbook – since 2011[1] and up until now, it's been languishing on my shelf until such a time as I could score some green tomatoes.

You may think "Well, that's easy, just go to a grocery store or farmer's market," but those folks sell red tomatoes.  Red. Red sell like hotcakes because they are ripe.  People like ripe.

Yet all tomatoes start out green and when Dennis mentioned that he had "green" tomatoes, I realized that in the future, I needed to connect with amateur gardeners.  Now I know plenty of people who garden and grow vegetables, but if they offer produce,  they are always trying to push things I don't need like zucchini or armfuls of rhubarb.  Not once has anybody ever mentioned they had green tomatoes until Dennis and then the light bulb went off and I found my "Holy Grail."

You might ask "Why didn't you just grow some yourself," but remember folks, my life motto is "Nature is NOT your friend."  When my husband and I moved into this house almost 20 years ago, I planted tomatoes and a few other things because it felt like the new home owner thing to do, and I grew lovely tomatoes which I then had to pick.

Well now, I went outside to pick my fruit (tomatoes) and vegetables and got eaten alive by mosquitoes.  And I'm the type of person who gets welts from bug bites (it's a histamine problem) and so that was my first and last attempt at gardening.  This is why grocery stores and farmer's markets exist.  But as I said above, farmer's markets in these parts don't offer unripe tomatoes and so I have to depend upon the "kindness of strangers" to be my supplier.  To be clear, Dennis is not a stranger but I just had to quote that line from A Streetcar Named Desire.

Anywho, I messaged Dennis and asked if I could have some and he brought some over and I had so many that I made two recipes instead of my usual one per cookbook.  I actually had enough for a third recipe but there is such a thing as overkill.

Now, I can't read minds but I'm pretty sure most of you probably inserted the word "fried" in front of "green tomatoes," but that was about the last thing I wanted to make, not only because it was expected but because I'm not a huge fan of these things.  I mean, they're okay, but don't float my boat; frankly, I think this is more of a southern obsession.  Besides, given that I had an entire cookbook with green tomato recipes at my disposal, why not do some exploring?

So I explored and I debated about branching out and making some pickles or relishes, something I had not done before, but frankly, I didn't/don't want to deal with sanitizing all the jars and making sure everything is sealed properly.  I suspect though, that this cookbook's previous owner really loved the Pickles and Relishes chapter as almost every recipe page was splattered with ingredients:  "End-of-the-garden Pickles," p. 69; "Green Tomato Chili Sauce," p. 70, and, "Martha's Vineyard Old-Time Mincemeat." I love particularly the note at the end of the mincemeat recipe – "Prize recipe of Gertrude Turner's mother."  I have no idea who that is, but hooray for her!

Other Table of Contents categories were:  Growing and Cooking Hints; Breads and Wine; Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and Desserts; Casseroles; Pickles and Relishes; Vegetables and Side Dishes.

I'm sorry, let's go back a minute:  ]Green Tomato] Wine?????  Pass.

Out of all the other non-pickle or relish recipes, the Tortilla Casserole and the Green Tomato Spice Bread seemed to be the best and easiest ones to make.  Neither one showcased the green tomato (something you would be expected to do on Chopped) but they were fine. 

I have to note though, that the Tortilla Casserole's filling could easily be used for Sloppy Joe's or even Chili, with or without beans.  I thought it was tasty and happily, not too spicy.

As to the spice bread, it was not at all "spicy" which was good, but the flavors didn't quite come up to those I would expect from a spiced loaf bread, and that was disappointing.  I also hoped for the bread to be a bit more moist (sort of like a zucchini bread) but that didn't happen.  Part of the problem might be that I halved the recipe thereby cutting the oil from ½ cup to ¼ cup, and the eggs from two to one.  It's hard to get a moist cake when you're shy on ingredients, not that a full recipe would have fared much better. 

Now as a side note, on my recent visit to Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks in NYC last month, I found a Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe Cookbook by Fannie Flagg (who knew?). I pondered and pondered whether or not to purchase Fannie's cookbook, and decided to pass this time around.  This would make sense to you if you saw the huge stack of books I actually purchased – 18 total!  Besides, I already had today's cookbook on my shelf and so first things first.

Tortilla Casserole – Serves 6
1 pound lean ground beef
1 T. vegetable oil
½ cup chopped onions
2 tablespoons flour
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
3 large green tomatoes, chopped
1 ripe tomato, chopped
2 crushed garlic cloves
½ cup green chili salsa (optional) (see Ann's Note below)
1 T. chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon or more salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
½ teaspoon sugar
1 cup water
12 homemade or purchased tortillas (recipe below)
¾ pound (about 3 cups) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
¾ cup chopped onion

Brown beef in oil; drain off excess fat.  Add ½ cup onion and sauté until limp.  Stir in flour; blend in tomato sauce.  Add both ripe and green tomatoes, garlic, chili salsa (if desired), and seasonings.  Stir in the water.  Simmer sauce slowly until thickened.

Fry tortillas lightly in oil.  Spoon 1 tablespoon cheese, 1 tablespoon onion, and 2 tablespoons of meat sauce onto each tortilla.  Fold over and arrange filled tortillas in large shallow baking pan, side by side.  Spoon remaining meat sauce over them; sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake at 350° for 25 to 35 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

Easy Home-Made Tortillas – makes 12
1 ¼ cups flour
¾ cups yellow cornmeal
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Mix dry ingredients together.  Boil up oil in water; add dry ingredients and mix well.  Divide dough into 12 balls.  Roll each into a thin disk on floured pastry cloth or between wax paper.

In lightly oiled skillet, brown tortillas on each side.  These can be made ahead and reheated in oiled skillet to soften them when ready to use.  Recipe can be doubled.

Ann's NoteGreen Chili Salsa is an optional ingredient for the recipe above, but the cookbook does not contain a recipe for it.  It does include a recipe for a Green Tomato Taco Sauce but the yield on that is mega (8 quarts green tomatoes) when all you need is ½ cup.  So if I were you, if you want to add this ingredient to the casserole, I'd go shopping and find something that most closely approximates green chili salsa or make up your own version.

Green Tomato Spice Bread – Makes 2 loaves
2 ½ cups unsifted flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon molasses
3 tablespoons honey
½ cup oil
1 cup ground and undrained green tomatoes
2 whole eggs
1 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup chopped walnuts

Mix dry ingredients.  Add rest of ingredients; beat well. Spoon into 2 greased and floured medium loaf pans.  Let batter rest 10 minutes.  Smooth the top of the loaves, then make an indentation along the center from end to end.  Bake at 350° for 45 to 50 minutes, or until they test done.

[1] Timing is everything:  I bought this book in July 2011, just a few days after we held a memorial mass for my late father who passed away in March of that year.  Since dad was from New Jersey, and since it was difficult for older relatives to travel, we brought the "show" to them and held a memorial mass for him in New Jersey.  Thereafter, as is usual and customary, we went into the city (NYC) for a few days to see more friends and family and to shop.  This cookbook was purchased at Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, NYC, with "daddy money" i.e. money that he left to me after he died.  Since he knew about my cookbook collection I am sure he would have approved, if not been highly amused.  He also grew a huge garden every year so this cookbook is especially fitting.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

"A Culinary Collection from The Metropolitan Museum of Art" - Fresh Vegetable Soup

Date I made this recipe:  August 20, 2017

A Culinary Collection from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, compiled by Linda Gillies, Anita Muller and Pamela Patterson (recipes from members of the Board of Trustees and museum staff)
Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art
©1973; ISBN: 0-87099-081-0
Recipe: Fresh Vegetable Soup – p. 25, submitted by Clare Vincent – Western European Arts

In my latest blog, published last week, I mentioned that I was recently in New York state and also New York City.   Today's recipe is from New York City's world-renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I cannot recall the first time I went to The Met, but it was and is pretty impressive. It's also so big that it almost exhausts visitors before they even get past the entrance.  To combat that, I often decide in advance what I'm going to look at and then go from there.

Over the years, my favorite section of the museum has been exhibits in the lower-level, particularly those in The Costume Institute.  I cannot sew and I cannot draw but others can and I've seen some great exhibits.

I also like photography and have seen a number of special exhibits that just leave me speechless; I'm particularly fond of black and white photos because of the crispness it brings and the detail it enhances. 

Here is the most important thing you should know about The Met:  although the sign says "admission," it is your choice whether to pay anything (you decide how much you want to contribute) or nothing at all.  Don't go that last route though:  this museum costs a ton of money to run and if you can't part with at least a dollar bill, maybe this is not the place for you!

In the early years, I dutifully paid the suggested admission and even had a membership for a few years (mostly for the gift shop), but eons ago, I switched it up to give what I thought was reasonable.  This works very well for me if I only have time for a quick in and out.

For the record, the suggested "admission" for adults is $25.00 per person and heaven help you brought people with you because ouch!  I am not a cheap person per se and yes, this is New York City, but I'd bet at least 90% of people attending The Met are families of at least four, maybe more.  And that's just to get in folks, that does not county shopping opportunities thereafter!

Now the thing to know about all museum gift shops anywhere is that you do not have to pay to go there, and so if I am pressed for time, like I was this trip, this is how I get a glimpse of current and past exhibits as the gift shop stocks books and magazines from those exhibits.  Win Win!  All that said, you should know that I probably spend about double what I would on the "admission" but I can't help myself because well, the stuff is there, and it's just waiting for me to buy it under the premise of "I'm here, it's here and I may not be back for another year so...."

This year, I got there so late and was so absorbed in several books of interest that I did not hear the "all call" that the museum is closing until a guard came up and said "You're the last person here."  OMG—I was so embarrassed!  I think I made up for it though by purchasing three books there; had I had more time, it would have been four!

So to recap, pay what you want, check out the gift shop and also, and this is important, (although not quite on point), if you are leaving The Met and it is raining, do not expect to be able to hail a cab.  Do not.  Insiders know that cabs and rain do not go together.  Time after time, I see tourists trying to hail cabs but those cabs – coming from where I do not know – already have passengers.  I need to figure out "ground zero" to catch an empty cab!  (Likely 20 blocks north from there, if not more.)

And for the record, and again, apropos to nothing, almost every single time I've been to The Met, whether alone or with someone, it rains.  It rained this year.  It rained two years ago when I was with my friend, Susan, who lives in NYC. In fact, it has rained on us every single time prompting me to tell her that she was the jinx, and yet this time around, I got caught out.  I had an umbrella though so that was good but other times, I haven't. 

In conclusion then:  pay what you want, if pressed for time, check out the gift shop because it's FREE, and "fugheddaboudit" hailing a cab in the rain. (PS—You can, if you want, purchase a rain poncho like many of the tourists do, but it won't help you get a cab, and frankly it screams "TOURIST" to everybody you see.  Plus they are hot and I don't mean fashion-wise! Umbrellas are the better choice, and for your "convenience" you can almost always find an umbrella vendor near the front steps.)

This concludes my public service announcement about visiting The Met.

As to the cookbook, it is spiral bound which as I said in my last post, does not usually find favor with me, but I bought this at an estate sale and really didn't care because it was from The Met.  Besides, I was intrigued by the illustrations, both on the cover and inside and thought them appropriate for a cookbook from an art museum.

The cover art is "The Pastry Cook," by Abraham Bosse (French, 1602-1676), and is a rendering in black and white of several cooks in a kitchen (illustrations continue on the back of the book).  The inside illustrations were taken from an early Italian cookbook, Il Cuco segreto di Papa Pio V (The Private Chef of Pope Pius V] by Bartomlomeo Scappi, Venice, 1570.  The inside illustrations were all of pots, pans, and utensils along with their Italian names and I thought that was kind of fun.

Like the museum itself, the Table of Contents is carefully curated into these categories:

  • Appetizers & Soups
  • Meats, Poultry, Fish & Their Sauces
  • Vegetables, Salads, & Salad Dressings
  • Noodles, Rice, Pasta, & Their Sauces
  • Quiches, Soufflés, & Eggs
  • Desserts
  • Cookies, Cakes, & Breads
  • Menus & Miscellaneous
And remember, all of these recipes were submitted by the museum's staff and board members and their work area is listed next to each recipe, for example "Catalogue," "Drawings," "Prints and Photographs," and so on.

As to the recipes, there were plenty that caught my eye and would have been acceptable.  In fact, for the longest time, my money was on making "Bloody Mary Meat Loaf" on page 59 because well, why not!  I've never made a meatloaf with a Bloody Mary mix.  But then I started rethinking my selection and I have to tell you that sometimes these self-debates sound suspiciously like the call of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs:  "It's 'Bloody Mary Meat Loaf' in the lead.  'Bloody Mary Meat Loaf' down the back stretch.  'Fresh Vegetable Soup' is coming up from behind.  'Fresh Vegetable Soup' is gaining on 'Bloody Mary Meat Loaf'.  'Bloody Mary Meat Loaf' and 'Fresh Vegetable Soup' are neck and neck and...'Fresh Vegetable Soup' wins by a nose!"

I have a vivid imagination! 

I also flagged "Hot Crab Meat for Twenty" on page 14 for future use, likely at a party, and pondered the merits of "Two-Tiered Tuna Casserole," p. 82. before deciding that it was a bit heavy for the day, plus it didn't have peas and people, it has to have peas.  Period.

In the end, I wanted something light and fresh and so went with the soup.  Mind you, the day I made it, the humidity was off the charts, but my house remained cool and so it all worked and it was tasty. 

As to my quick trip to The Met's Gift Shop, to answer your burning question, no, I didn't purchase a cookbooks because they really don't stock a lot of them and nothing I saw tripped my trigger such that I had to have it that day.  The books I purchased were all about NYC architecture and design which is also an area of interest and I ran out of time to see much of anything else.  By the way, one year after getting caught in the rain on my way into the museum and gift shop – what did I tell you – I pretty much hugged all the lighted jewelry cases as a way to warm up from the cold downpour.  I'd have loved to have been the security person who watched that tape:  "What is she doing? What. Is. She. doing? Is she trying to break into the cases?  Hey Joe, c'mere and look at this...."

Fresh Vegetable Soup – Serves 8 – submitted by Clare Vincent – Western European Arts
2 leeks, cut in ½-inch chunks
1 medium or large onion, cut in ½-inch chunks
2 tablespoons butter
 6 chicken bouillon cubes (Ann's Note:  or substitute chicken broth)
2 parsnips, cut in ½-inch chunks
2 medium white turnips, cut in ½-inch chunks
3 stalks celery (without leaves), cut in ½-inch chunks
2 medium carrots, cut in thumb-size pieces
¼ teaspoon dried thyme (or more)
¼ teaspoon dried rosemary (or more)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 medium potatoes, cut in thumb-size pieces
2 cups stewed tomatoes (one 16-ounce can) (Ann's Note:  or substitute fresh, chopped tomatoes)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

In a large pot wilt leeks and onion in butter.  Add 3 quarts of water and bouillon cubes and bring to a boil.  (Ann's Note:  if you want to substitute chicken broth like I did, then just pour out 3 cups of broth and add that instead.

Add parsnips and bring to a boil.  Add turnips and bring to a boil. Add celery and bring to a boil.  Add carrots and bring to a boil.  Add thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper, and correct seasonings (more herbs and bouillon may be added).  Ann's Note:  once the broth started to boil, it continued to boil so there was no "bring to a boil" portion of our program.  Since the recipe contributor didn't saw to lower the heat, I kept it as was and just kept adding the vegetables as directed.

Add potatoes and bring to a boil. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer until the potatoes are nearly cooked through.  All the other vegetables will be ready by this time. Add parsley and dill, and simmer until the potatoes are done and the herbs have just begun to wilt.

When reheating to serve, make sure not to allow soup to simmer more than a minute or two, or all the care in bringing each vegetable to just the right degree of doneness will be wasted.

Ann's Note:  Okay, I need to parse this. Since the only way to make sure the veggies weren't overdone was to immediately lower the heat to simmer and then bring it back to a boil, it would have been nice if that was in the directions!  As mentioned above, once the broth started boiling, it never stopped.  Now had I made a full recipe, maybe the bulk of the vegetables would have caused the appropriate "delay" in the restart of the boil but such was not the case.  I did not need soup for 8, I needed soup for 2 and so played with it.  In the end, did the extra boil time matter much?  Nah.