We have arrived at April through many dangers, toils and snares ... and yes, hopeful. Some serving questions from Mari Soehl come first. "Does anyone have a recipe for macaroni and cheese that has some meat in it? I remember loving mac and cheese with tuna when I was growing up. What about a tuna mac recipe? Also, I used to prepare a tuna casserole that contained cream cheese. I am feeding a crowd these days and trying to save money and time.
"I hope readers will share their meatless main-dish meal ideas."
From the treasured home cookbook of Bob Bires, here are a couple of appetizer gems.
Frico (Parmesan Cheese Crisps)
Butter or oil
6 ounces or more shredded Parmesan cheese (works just as well with a supermarket brand of Parmesan)
Heat a small amount of butter or oil over medium heat in a nonstick skillet. When fully heated, sprinkle a small handful of shredded Parmesan cheese around the skillet so that most of the cheese is touching.
Cook until bottom of the cheese is golden brown. Loosen with a spatula, and immediately drape over a glass or other shape to cool. Repeat with remaining cheese. A 6-ounce bag makes plenty for a platter; you may want to double this if you're using it as a separate appetizer.
Depending on your taste, you can vary the frico by adding black pepper or cumin seeds or fennel seeds or a little cayenne pepper while the cheese is melting.
Frico shells would make great "bowls" for individual salads, especially those that are light in weight, with an element of sweetness to contrast with the cheese. You might want to make the shells a bit larger.
Marinated Mozzarella in Tomato Shell
8 ounces fresh mozzarella (if you are able to buy the smaller mozzarella balls, do that, draining them well before proceeding)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 to 2 cloves chopped garlic
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon basil (fresh or dried)
1 teaspoon oregano (fresh or dried)
1 teaspoon rosemary (fresh or dried)
Salt to taste
Optional: Serve in seasonal "bowls": 1 large ripe tomato for summertime, red and green pepper halves for winter
Scoop mozzarella into balls (or use the prepared smaller balls, drained well).
Into olive oil, add garlic, crushed red pepper, fresh-ground pepper and three herbs. Add salt to taste, and blend well.
Pour oil over cheese balls, and marinate for several hours or days.
Spear each cheese ball with a toothpick to serve and, if you choose, use a tomato or pepper "bowl" for serving.
C.D. Bryan added to the conversation about scallops from the last couple of weeks.
"In your recipe today for Barbados-Style Ceviche, you suggest bay scallops cut in bite-size pieces. True 'bay scallops' are bite-size. I lived in Florida for 25 years, and the restaurants took the term 'bay scallops' very seriously. If you advertised bay scallops, you could only serve true bay scallops from the bay. I believe it was the law then and may still be.
"And true bay scallops, at least in Florida, are about the size of a nickel, some of them smaller. If you advertised scallops, that could be any type of fish cut in discs about the size of a silver dollar. There is a marked difference in the taste.
"I haven't seen true bay scallops served in this area. You can find them, frozen, in some grocery stores. With a washtub full of scallops in the shell, after tedious prying open of shells and taking out the muscle that is the true scallop, you would end up with maybe a quart of bay scallops.
"I know from experience.
"It is a small detail, but I thought I'd mention it. I never order just scallops. You never know what fish you're being served."
Now that we have read how labor-intensive this small thing is, I am much more inclined to consider a high price a fair price.
And have any of you seen true bay scallops served hereabouts?
SWEET AND SIMPLE
Debbie Pataky of Hinkle, Georgia, received this recipe "a few years ago, and I must say it's addicting." The name of the recipe didn't seem appetizing at first, "but when I did try it, I chastised myself for all the years I could have been eating this deliciousness. And it is easy."
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup regular sugar
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped walnuts (or you may use all pecans)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-size bowl, add all ingredients.
Blend just until all is together. Don't overmix; just stir as you would do for regular cornbread; I imagine that's where the name came from.
Pour into a prepared 8- by 8-inch pan or a loaf pan. Bake for 35 minutes; don't overbake.
I've found that I have to double this recipe so I'll have enough to share.
I use Splenda Brown Sugar Blend that works for diabetics, though I find Splenda bakers sugar does not work as well. But it is delicious either way.
JUST A DASH
Thank you, Linda Morris, for sending a helpful hint. We will be needing lots more of these, helpful people, so please join in. She wrote, "No recipe here today, but a helpful hint. During these times of trying to make do with what we have, I attempted to make waffles on Sunday morning and noticed the recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of milk. Since I am an avid milk drinker, I wanted to try and stretch that precious carton of milk. I had a bottle of International Delight coffee creamer (hazelnut flavor). I used that, and the waffles were the best ever. This will be a keeper for me."
Ms. Morris ended with a reminder. "Please stay safe, and by all means stay home and find something productive to do around the house like make waffles."
How many of you have been to the kitchen to try new things of late? We hope you'll share in the April days ahead.
* Meaty mac and cheese
* Tuna casserole
* Meatless main dishes
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