Here we are together, January cohorts. Note below the first entry in the "Best Thing Cooked or Served in 2019" discussion. Next week you will read about another reader's Best Thing: stuffed mushrooms. You might be the third contributor, if you would send the best in your recent memory, and thus we can keep the conversation going.
We've got a request from Mary Claire, a visitor during the holidays who has returned home. "In Chattanooga we ate at SideTrack Restaurant on Hixson Pike, and it was wonderful. My guests and I tried to make garlic mashed potatoes like theirs, but they fell short of the mark. I just made garlic mashed potatoes at home. It is hard getting the right amount of garlic, isn't it? Before I put the garlic cloves in the chicken broth, I peeled and smashed them, but it didn't make any difference. I still had to add a lot later. I also added some chives."
This is where you — or the restaurant itself — come in. Ms. Claire continued, "I'll try again someday with the other half of my 5-pound bag of potatoes."
Part 1, Best of the Best Dish: Jim Sparks' specialty was lamb. "The best dish I cooked in 2019 was Lamb and Spinach Pasta. It's very flavorful and fairly easy to make."
Mr. Sparks has found ground lamb "in 1-pound packages at the North Shore Publix, on the top shelf of the packaged meat counter. But I would advise people to call their closest Publix first to make sure they have it."
Lamb and Spinach Pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground lamb
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons chopped mint
10 ounces baby spinach
8 ounces whole-grain spaghetti
Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated (optional)
In large, deep skillet, heat olive oil, and add lamb. Crumble and brown, then drain off fat. Move lamb to side of skillet, and add onion. Sauté over medium heat till soft. Add garlic, and sauté over medium-low about 1 minute. Stir in wine, tomato paste and oregano. Season with salt and pepper, cover and simmer about 10 minutes. Add mint and spinach, cover again, and simmer about 10 more minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta, and drain. Serve lamb mixture over pasta, and sprinkle with cheese, if desired.
Last week there was a no-bake version of the requested butterscotch pie; this week there is a yes-bake pie. Peggy Long picked up the pie thread. "This may not be the one asked for, but I have not found one better."
"I found this many years ago in a very old recipe book that called for using an iron skillet, a book for teaching young ladies how to cook back in the day. I was about 50 years younger when I found it in the early '70s. And I believe the book was dated in the early 1900s."
Old-Fashioned Butterscotch Pie
Read recipe thoroughly before attempting, or you will need six hands to accomplish. It doesn't really take long if you premix a couple of the steps.
6 tablespoons butter
2 cups brown sugar
1 /2 cup light cream or canned milk (I use canned milk)
2 cups milk, divided
1 /4 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons flour
1 /8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pie shell, ready-made or homemade (recipe follows)
Melt butter in heavy pan or iron skillet. Add brown sugar and cream or canned milk.
Bring to boil, and cook 4 minutes; stir constantly.
Scald 1 cup of milk. (Scald before starting recipe.) Mix together in another bowl cornstarch, flour and salt until smooth.
Stir in gradually the other cup of milk COLD.
Add scalded milk to brown sugar mixture, then add cold milk mixture with cornstarch, flour and salt to brown sugar mixture. Cook until thick. Pour into top of double boiler.
Separate eggs, and beat yolks slightly. Add a little of hot mixture to yolks, and then stir yolks into hot mixture. Cook over double boiler 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and add vanilla extract.
Pour into baked cooled pie shell.
8- or 9-Inch Pie Shell
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup corn oil
2 tablespoons cold water
Mix flour and salt, and stir in corn oil. Add cold water.
Roll out pie shell between 2 sheets of wax paper, and put into pie dish. Prick shell with fork, and bake 12 to 15 minutes in 425-degree oven or until golden brown.
The collection inherited by S.S. from her mother included this recipe reported and tested by Celia Marks.
1 box Duncan Hines Deluxe yellow cake mix (18 1/2 ounces)
1 stick melted butter or margarine
In a large bowl of electric mixer, combine the 3 ingredients thoroughly. Press into bottom of 8- by 12-inch pan.
8 ounces softened cream cheese
3 cups confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
In same large mixer bowl, combine cream cheese, eggs and confectioners sugar. Add salt, vanilla extract, almond extract and lemon juice. Pour over bottom layer, and bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes, or until cake tests done. Cut in squares, and serve from pan.
Celia Marks' note: Colleen's recipe called for 4 cups sugar (1 box). You may want to do it Colleen's way the first time, and if you find it too sweet, use my proportions the second time. If you use the smaller amount, it is a nice touch to sift confectioners sugar VERY LIGHTLY over the top, just for cosmetic reasons. It surely doesn't need it.
JUST A DASH
This idea didn't come on paper, but in conversation. In a group of youthful friends, there's one local family that invites people for drinks and desserts, and for the meal in between, guests are invited to "Bring your own takeout." In this way, not only are workload and expense shared, but there are no dishes to wash from preparing or eating the main dish. As a bonus, guests can sample each other's takeout. For me, that's a "Best of the Best Entertaining Idea" for 2019. And on that bright note, I'll close. I will hope for a bright note from your direction in the week that follows.
* Your best dish (cooked or served) of 2019
* Garlic mashed potatoes
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