Good morning, faithful friends. As I peruse your messages on this Passover and Easter week, I note themes: easy recipes ... healthful ideas ... and, as always, helpfulness that reaches into others' kitchens, onto neighbors' dining tables. So here goes.
As we speak of celebrations, might they continue across the necessary distance? I have a dream of Easter dinner with a family across the ocean, with whom we have celebrated the past two Easters. Two tables would become one, thanks to Facetime, and that common table will have the same menu ... if lamb and potatoes and asparagus are available in two countries. (A two-egg omelet and a slice of tomato would be an Easter feast, however.) The dinner-table narrative will include such comforting requests as, "Pass the riced potatoes, please."
So, how are you celebrating anything in your life? You must pass that idea on, please.
On a Zoom conference call this week, a participant talked about her granddaughters' favorite cookie, "Brookies." Can any of you supply that recipe?
Here's a specific request for stewed tomatoes "made with day-old bread torn, and I believe a little sugar." The anonymous requester reported that this is a long-ago comfort food that would be welcome in April 2020.
We've heard from several of you about the Cornbread Cake printed on April 1. The cake, which has gotten rave reviews for its sender, actually does not have cornmeal in it. Debbie Pataky explained, "I think it is called cornbread cake because you stir it by hand like you would cornbread. Just mix it all up barely — do not overmix."
Mr. and Mrs. Sunday added a nutty suggestion for this cake. "Try roasting the nuts before you add them to the cake for an added dimension of flavor. Roast at 350 degrees until the nuts begin to darken (10 to 20 minutes) and let them cool. We generally roast a couple of pounds at a time and store them in the freezer. They keep nearly forever (they get eaten quickly)."
Peggy Flynn answered the request for value-added additions to macaroni and cheese. "Make mac and cheese any way you want and add a pound of browned and drained ground beef, a can of drained diced tomatoes or chopped fresh tomato, some sautéed onion and green pepper, and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or so at 350 degrees."
Dan Cobb wrote from Soddy-Daisy, "This is probably not the same kind of 'comfort food' recipe as you requested, but once I learned of this simple fruit mix, it became my go-to snack and comfort food. It may even be good for you." (It is good indeed.)
Fruit Salad Medley
Fresh red seedless grapes
1 big apple or 2 little ones
1 can mandarin oranges, drained but not rinsed
1 packet of Truvia or similar natural sweetener
As to the amount of fresh fruit, the size of the packages of grapes, blueberries and strawberries doesn't matter, just as long as they're similar. However, the package of grapes you get at the store is probably much larger than needed, so use whatever amount seems right, depending on your taste. Save the rest for later.
Rinse all the fresh ingredients.
Slice the unpeeled apple and strawberries into bite-size pieces. Put all into a big bowl, and combine.
Sprinkle the Truvia over the fruit, then mix again. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Don't worry about how long it will keep; you will eat it all long before then. I suppose you can add additional berries or other fruit.
The scallop topic continues today with a note from Michele Brown. "In most of Red Lobster combo plates, they use Bay scallops. They are the tiny ones no bigger than a thumbnail. As for myself, I would rather have the big boys of the sea, called diver scallops or day boat scallops. I've only had those at Bonefish Grill when they are in season, usually June or July. They are the size of a silver dollar or bigger. You could never be fooled by a substitute of some kind of fish when you have these. They are so sweet and taste of the deep, fresh salty ocean. Never overcook scallops. They are very delicate. I learned this when I lived in Florida."
There should be a steady — or at least a sturdy — stream of recipes that emerge from this crisis — and not a few helpful hints. Gabi S. wrote, "I've been making a lot of yogurt in my Instant Pot. I made some awesome sweet potato waffles (Alton Brown's recipe) last week, and this really good sweet potato/sausage one-dish meal." Her simple recipe follows. It was delivered to the S. family at the birth of their first child, and so here's opening the take-them-a-meal conversation thread. What is a welcome take-to, in the days to come, that worked well in the days past?
Ms. S. says sweet potatoes and kielbasa. M.C., who has been on the receiving end of many delicious dishes in a recent family crisis, opined that a dish that fits any of three meals is welcome, such as a sausage and egg casserole.
One-Dish Sweet Potatoes and Kielbasa
2 to 3 sweet potatoes
1 kielbasa (or Andouille) sausage
1 bell pepper (optional)
Salt and pepper
1 bunch kale
Peel and chop sweet potatoes. Slice sausage, onion and pepper. Toss this mixture with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake in a lasagna pan or casserole dish at 425 degrees until the potatoes are tender.
Chop or tear kale, and stir it into the pan. Bake 5 to 10 more minutes, until the kale is tender.
JUST A DASH
We thank Katie Torres of Atlanta, mother of four little ones, for a beautiful dinner idea: nachos with cheese, jalapenos, ground beef, tomatoes, onions and peppers. But don't stop there. "Nachos seem like such an easy win right now. I added broccoli for color and vitamins, and it was successful."
Henry David Thoreau, late of Walden Woods, said, "Simplify, simplify." So we chime in, over a nacho dinner.
As always, there is more good in our lives than we can say grace over. Even if we can't cover it all, I cast my vote in favor of saying grace, and savoring grace, and returning thanks.
Next week? Yes.
* Ideas for isolated celebrations
* Brookies cookies
* Stewed tomatoes
TO REACH US
Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.
Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750