Raiding the larder of ideas.

What one family eats, plans to eat, dreams of eating. Plus, other food and kitchen-related stuff from the home of steak-and-potatoes, pie and fresh green beans from the garden.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Salmon Jammin' Evening: A Summery Seafood Salad

A nice fresh fish salad with refrigerator pickles…just right on a hot summer day.

It's hot. It's not quite summer by the calendar, and the air outside has reached 92° F (33°C), with a high dew point (and, yes, you Texans and Floridians, etc. can scoff if you will). Our house does not have central air conditioning. This means, nobody wants to spend a second longer than necessary over a hot stove...or even a hot grill.

Since my local weather experts have been fairly reliable in their forecasts, though, I was able to prepare for this eventuality.

Our Friday Night Plates (our regular get-together with our extended, volunteer family) got chillin'. The Bat brewed up and then refrigerated some peppermint tea in advance of the evening, and I prepped a batch of gluten-free key lime tarts (more on that, maybe, in another post), a bowl of fruit compote (I cheat. Canned fruits are very useful when you're between seasons), and, most importantly, a nice big bowl of salmon salad.

In searching the web for ideas, I noticed that the most popular salmon salads are leafy greens piled with hot, freshly grilled fish and a few other must-slave-in-the-heat items. This would not do for me. I was looking for something kind of chill-out-y and picnic-y. 

What I offered the family was easily prepared in advance, can be made with canned, pouched, smoked, steamed, or even grilled salmon, and is relatively low in carbs. 

And it tastes only moderately decadent.

Salad. We like it like that.

Chilled Salmon Salad

1 lb fresh or frozen boneless, skinless salmon filets, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1/2- to 3/4 cup diced celery
3 ounces capers, rinsed and drained

4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3  cup lemon or lime juice (or more to taste)

At least 3 hours before serving, steam salmon chunks (or bake in a nonstick covered dish at low heat -- about 300-325° F) until just opaque and easily flaked with a fork. It shouldn't take more than 5 minutes, either way.

When the salmon is cooked, place in covered dish in refrigerator until completely chilled.

Cut celery into small cubes, rinse and drain capers, setting aside a dozen or so for garnish. Lightly mix the rest into the cold salmon.

For the dressing: in a small mixer bowl, whip softened cream cheese until fluffy, gradually add in olive oil and mix thoroughly. Finally, mix in lemon or lime juice until the dressing has the consistency of mayonnaise. If you want, you can add a little more juice to boost the flavor, but don't get carried away.

Gently stir the dressing into the salmon mixture.

Serve chilled on your favorite bread or a bed of tender leaf lettuce. Garnish with sliced cucumbers or fresh pickles.

Serves 6

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Woman's World Book of Unusual Cookery part 3

Woman's World Book of Unusual Cookery part 1

This booklet – another one picked up in a bunch of ephemera at an auction, 'way back in 2010 – had suffered some serious water damage. I did what I could to restore the images, once scanned, but some of the text was just too blurred, and a few of the pages so badly stuck together that it would have given a restoration/conservation expert fits. It was pretty enough, and entertaining enough, though, that I struggled through some dense clouds of mildew to scan what I could (the pages were bigger than my old scanner bed, so each page was scanned in two parts, for as much data as I could rescue), then spent some time in Photoshop, cleaning up and reassembling the images.

As a project, it has a bit to be desired, but I hope you like what I managed to salvage. I'll post it in several segments, because it's a lot to load all at once.

Woman's World Book of Unusual Cookery, part 2 (menus, July-December)

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Lemon Meringue Bites (gluten-free)

I split this one with Pop before dinner. It didn't spoil our appetites at all.

This time of year is the big birthday season, in our family (we have a LOT of Aries' babies, if you're into astrology). As such, the first thing on the agenda is always the birthday cake (for which I have already produced a couple, and will have another constructed, this coming Saturday) …or, in Pop's case, as you may recall, the birthday pie.

I used to enjoy the Bat's divine lemon meringue pie, myself. And then I found out I had that little problem with wheat. So Pop's favorite dessert – and mine – was no longer on my menu. Seriously. Even with the many varieties of GF flours on the market, it just didn't work, because one of us would be left unhappy.

Or so I thought.

This week, I stumbled across a recipe for gluten-free lemon squares in a King Arthur Flour's email, and realized that I could very easily adapt the nut flour shortbread crust to our "ancient family secret" pie recipe. And, since this was an experiment, and I really can't eat a whole pie by myself, I had to spend some time re-figuring the structure and time on this project.

As luck would have it, our kitchen is stocked with several different types of baking pans, among them a mini-cheesecake tin I bought for myself a couple of years ago and had thus far only used for brownie bites. It really makes removing treats from those little wells so easy!

A few things for me to consider, the next time I make these (and I will be doing so fairly frequently, now) :

1. The wells in the mini-cheesecake tin are a little over 4 centimeters deep, and this dough, while tender, is fairly sturdy. I could make the reservoir in the cookie even deeper than I did (they ended up being halfway up, or roughly 2 cm). I like the flavor of the cookie, though, and, with a strong citrus curd, it's not a bad idea to keep it almost effectively a "thumbprint tart". If I do decide to press them to accommodate more curd, I'll break out the wooden tart/tassies press instead of letting my thumbnails interfere in the process. That way, I'll easily produce 12 tartlets, instead of the nine I got this time.

2. In making the meringue, I'll add about 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice, and a little zest, too. I accidentally spilled at least a full teaspoon of juice into my egg whites (Captain Coordination strikes again!), and, rather than waste them, I gave it a whirl. The meringue tasted amazing, but, unsurprisingly, fell almost immediately after it came out of the oven, becoming gooier and a spot tougher. However, I've used a small amount of citrus juice before, in making meringue cookies, and, for three egg whites, a hint (1/4 tsp, added in near the end of beating the egg whites & before adding the sugar) is all I need as a substitute for the cream of tartar (to which I am very allergic).

3. Use a wire cheese cutter to slice butter into half-centimeter cubes before tossing them into the freezer for a really good chill.

4. It is possible to make these little bite-sized treats using only the mini-cheesecake pan, but I found that the cookie cups held up very nicely outside the pan, and took on a more attractive hue when browning the meringue. Plus, it's easier to hand-clean the pan elements if there's no meringue baked on.

5. Always make more lemon curd than you think you're going to need. Not that you'll actually need it, but who doesn't want a little custard cup of lemony heaven once in a while?

That pretty curd is Meyer lemon, this time.

Here is the recipe, as I attempted to work it today:

Lemon Meringue Bites (gluten-free)


cookie shell:
6 Tablespoons butter, diced and hard-chilled
2 cups blanched almond flour (or fine-ground almond meal)
6 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
finely grated zest of 1 small lemon

3 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
grated zest of 1 small lemon
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons corn starch
pinch salt
1 1/4 cups boiling water


3 egg whites
6 Tablespoons sugar
zest of 1 small lemon
pinch salt


Preheat oven to 350º F.

Lightly butter the wells of your baking tin.

Make the shortbread cookie shells: In a small mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the cookie shell except the butter. When your dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed, add in the mostly-frozen butter cubes and work into dough using a pastry blender or your fingers. Don't overwork it, but be sure that there are no large clumps of butter in the mixture. It will resemble coarse, moist sand when it is ready.

Fill each cup in the baking tin with the loose mixture, then proceed to press it against the sides and bottom of the cup (yay! building sand castles in the kitchen!).

Place in oven, bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from oven, allow to cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack.

When the cups are cooled, remove them carefully from the pan, place on a cookie sheet or another baking dish.

While the cookies are cooling, make the filling and the meringue.

Make the lemon curd: Prepare a double boiler (or, if you don't have one, improvise one by resting a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan with about an inch of room for the water beneath it). In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg yolks thoroughly by hand. Add in all other ingredients except the water. Mix completely.

Add in the boiling water, pour the mixture into the top of the double boiler, and stir over simmering water until it begins to thicken. Allow to cook another 10 minutes, until completely thick.

Fill each cookie cup with curd. If there is any left over, pour (or scoop, as the case may be) into a custard cup, and save that for later misconduct.

Prepare the meringue: If you were energy-conscious and turned your oven off while the cookies were cooling, re-heat the oven to 350º F.

In a small mixing bowl which has been cleaned thoroughly to make sure there is no residual oil in it, beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks begin to form. Add in lemon juice while the mixer is still running, then gradually add in the sugar. When the eggs become glossy and medium-soft peaks can be formed, fold in the lemon zest. At this point, you can scoop the meringue into a pastry bag and form pretty designs on top of your cups, or you can go random with a spoon, the way I prefer.
Meringue in dollops. Lots of dollops.

Waste not, want not. Leftover lemon curd is fine alone, or with a pretty leftover meringue topping.

Bake at 350º F for 15 minutes, or until golden-browned.

Remove from oven, allow to cool completely (cover & chill overnight if you think you can leave them alone that long).

Ain't misbehavin'. Savin' my curd for lunch.

Sorry about the color. Kitchen table lighting doesn't do the warm golden meringue tips justice, especially on a green dish. But it was what was at hand as the crowd started arriving.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

SUNKIST LEMONS bring out the Flavor! A cooking booklet from 1939

 Here's another booklet I got from auction, with every intention of trying at least half the recipes, just because lemons are my favorite of all nature's candies.

The Bat seems to think I'm a little screwy.

Not about this, though. She just knows me pretty well by now.


Fairly unassuming, isn't it?

Introduction; Table of Contents; Sunkist Lemon Garnishes (1)
And then it starts getting fancy.
pp. Two, Three. Appetizers: Lemons with Shellfish: Cocktail Sauce for Shellfish; Seafood Cocktail; Lemon Cup Appetizer; Iced Consommé

pp. Four, Five. Appetizers (cont'd): Lemon with Fruit Juice; Lemon Fruit Cocktail Sauce; Lemon Cocktail Punch; Pied Piper Fruit Cup; Melon A La Hollywood. Buffet Appetizers: Anchovy and Caviar Canapés; Shrimp Canapés; Seafood Canapés; Malibu Teaser; Stuffed Celery; Potato, Corn, or Crupoo Chips. Canapé And Sandwich Spreads: Lemon Sandwich Butter; Lemon Butter Piquant; Cheese Spreads; Avocado Spread; Shrimp Butter; Tuna or Salmon Salad Spread
Lemon, melon. They even have the same letters. It's a natural thing. But what the heck is "crupoo"? Seriously. I tried Googling it, and that gave me a whole lot of nothing.

pp. Six, Seven. Fish and Meat: Lemon with Fish: Baked Fish with Lemon; Broiled or Fried Fish. Lemons with Meat: Lemon Smothered Chops; Lemon Mint Sauce; Lemon Butter for Meats
Come on…you know lemons and fish are best friends in the kitchen.

pp. Eight, Nine: Fish in Lemon Aspic; Lemon Tartare Sauce; Vegetables with Lemon; Spinach A La Sunkist

Spinach? What would Popeye think of this?

pp. Ten, Eleven: Vegetables: Lemon Celery Victor; Lemon Buttered Cabbage; Harvard Beets; Lemon Butter for Vegetables; Lemon Hollandaise Sauce; Asparagus in Lemon Rings; Cole Slaw with Lemon Dressing; Artichokes; New Potatoes; Pickled Beets
I confess, I really like lemon butter on my broccoli, asparagus, or green beans.

pp. Twelve, Thirteen. Salads: Pacific Coast Fish Salad; Lemon Gelatine Ring Salad; Celebration Salad; Lemon Juice, a Natural Dressing
pp. Fourteen, Fifteen. Salads: Lemon French Dressing; Roquefort Dressing; Lorenzo Dressing; Golden State Dressing; Lemon Mayonnaise; Thousand Island Dressing; Magic Lemon Mayonnaise; Cottage Cheese Dressing

pp. Sixteen, Seventeen. 10 PIES, All Lemon!: Lemon Meringue Pie; Sunkist Meringue; Sunkist Pastry; Lemon Coconut Pie; Chiffon Pudding Pie; Lemon Soufflé Pie; Lemon Angel Pie

You had me at "PIES".

pp. Eighteen, Nineteen. More pies: Lemon Pie Unique; Lemon Gelatine Chiffon Pie; Golden West Lemon Pie; Unbaked Crumb Crusts; Lemon Frozen Cream Pie; Banbury Turnovers, Tarts

Gonna need a very thick drool bib, I think…

pp. Twenty, Twenty-one. Other Desserts: Dainty Lemon Layer Cake; Lemon Cream Filling; Seven Minute Lemon Frosting; Lemon Refrigerator Cake
And a stack of toothbrushes…
pp. Twenty-two, Twenty-three. More Desserts: Celestine Lemon Tapioca; Lemon Frozen Cream; Lemon Sherbet; Lemon Chiffon Pudding; Lemon Clear Sauce; Lemon Hard Sauce; Baked Bananas with Lemon Sauce; Lemon-Chocolate Tea Cakes; Lemon-Coconut cake;  Lemon Sherbet Surprise; Fruits Cooked with Lemon

Getting a bit giddy, now…

pp. Twenty-four, Twenty-five. Lemons Add Flavor in Surprising Ways! : Lemon Mincemeat; Lemon Maple Dumplings; Lemon Clover Rolls; Surprise Spread for Waffles
Lemon Mincemeat? Hmmmm… they may have lost me on that one.

pp. Twenty-six, Twenty-seven. More Surprises: Lemon Honey Jelly; English Lemon Cheese; Sunshine Lemon Marmalade.    Beverages : Sunkist Lemonade; Lemon Fizz; Lemon Shake; Hot Lemonade for a Cold; Lemon Beverage Garnishes
Oh, well, a drink will solve some of that trouble.

pp. Twenty-eight, Twenty-nine. More Beverages : Lemon Ginger Flip; Golden Gate Punch; Lemon with Tea.  Lemons for Health

Cleanup in aisle four!

pp. Thirty, Thirty-one. Lemons Are Versatile (nonfood uses)

pp. Thirty-two, Thirty-three. Index. How to Buy Lemons.