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Good morning, and welcome to the middle of January.
There are stockpots on the cooktops, I'll wager, and many of you looking for new ideas or tried and true ones. Among the things we cooks are requesting today is this list: Williamsburg creamed onions, other recipes for small whole onions, protein shakes and smoothies, cooking advice with whole wheat flour, and where to find nitrate-free meat locally for a ketogenic diet.
Lennis DuBan of Ooltewah read a comment in this column by Jane Guthrie, mentioning a holiday dinner perennial at their house: "Williamsburg Creamed Onions. It sounds like something good, and I would love to try it." Here's an aside: I found just such onions at Whole Foods right before Christmas and tried the recipe on their package for roasted onions. Tossed in salt and olive oil and roasted in the oven at 400 degrees, these onions were delicious and wholly healthful ... although Ms. DuBan and I agree that the sauce for creamed onions surely is good.
Yeast of the Ridge saw the request for healthful smoothies and shakes and also the cover of the most recent Williams-Sonoma catalog. "It was a photo of smoothies in nine different colors and renewed my interest in making them." She also called for responses from bakers who are using white whole wheat flour.
Cooking Mama has a heartfelt plea on behalf of her adult daughter who suffers from seizures, and I will print much of her letter because more than one of you will be able to help. This letter reminds me of a favorite quote by Elizabeth Stone. "Making the decision to have a child: It's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." I can testify along with Cooking Mama that the heart stays in that place when the child is an adult.
C.M. wrote that "I have an adult special needs daughter who has seizures. Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt have her on a special therapeutic diet to help control her daily seizures. The diet requirements calls for food free of nitrates, sugars, etc. The reason I am reaching out to you is to hopefully find providers of beef, chicken or pork that isn't processed using additives. I shop frequently at [local specialty stores] and their meat doesn't meet the above requirements. I believe I need to go to a packing/processing plant where meat is grain/grass fed. I need meat at its purest form.
"The diet my daughter is on is what people refer to as the 'ketogenic' diet used for many years to control seizures in children, but advances in medical research now [have made it available to patients with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other] neurological disorders. They are finding a strong correlation between additives and neurological issues."
Yeast of the Ridge saw the request for whole wheat bread. Many cooks have chosen to mix whole wheat and white flour for a lighter product, so white whole wheat sounds like an appealing hybrid. If you can add to the white whole wheat conversation, please do. This is a versatile recipe, useful for bread or rolls. Next week we will print some research she found on the now-available white whole wheat flour.
2 tablespoons yeast
2 cups (16 ounces) lukewarm water
1/4 cup honey (2 ounces)
3/4 cup olive oil (6 ounces)
2 fresh eggs
6 cups whole wheat flour (For a lighter bread, use 1 cup or more of bread flour to replace the whole wheat flour.)
2 teaspoons salt
Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water and honey for about 5 minutes. Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and knead until it loosens from the sides of the bowl. Place in a large oiled bowl, cover and let rise until about double. Be sure it is in a warm place. The length of time can't be accurately specified. If you push an indention into the dough about an inch, it should remain if the dough has risen sufficiently. It isn't unusual for the entire process to take a number of hours. Remove and shape into loaves, rolls or buns.
Bake at 375 degrees until browned.
To make 2 to 3 dozen rolls: Bake approximately 12 or 13 minutes.
To make bread: Because all ovens are different, there isn't a perfect method of predicting exactly how long it will take for your bread to be perfectly done. If the bread looks browned on the top, tip it out of the pan and tap on the bottom. It should sound hollow and the loaf should be light in weight. If not, return it to the oven to cook a bit more.
Euela Laubenheim found this recipe in answer to a request.
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 16-ounce package elbow macaroni
2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (8 ounces) ricotta cheese
1/4 cup (2 ounces) sour cream
1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded cheddar
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of the salt to the macaroni and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, 7 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and onion and cook, stirring, until the beef is well browned. Carefully drain the fat from the skillet and stir in the tomato sauce, the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer over a low heat while preparing the remaining ingredients.
Combine the ricotta, sour cream, bell pepper and scallions in a medium bowl. Spread half of the pasta into the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with the ricotta mixture, then the remaining pasta. Pour the meat mixture over the top. Sprinkle with the cheddar and mozzarella. Bake the casserole until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley before serving.
If you cut into the casserole when it comes right out of the oven, the pieces will be runny and won't hold together. By allowing casseroles to sit for a bit and reabsorb some of the melted cheeses and liquid ingredients, the food will hold together for easier serving.