Monthly Archives: August 2015

Summer Stew

I don’t really know what to call this. I accidentally made it one year and it turned out pretty good, so I continue to make it on occasion. Sometimes Peggy even requests it. And it’s vegetables!

It should be no surprise that the fresher the vegetables, the better the taste. #1 – your garden #2 – the farm stand #3 – the grocery store

2 T vegetable or olive oil
1 onion, rough chop
1 t – 1T chopped garlic
2 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
3 large garden tomatoes. roughly cubed (or a 28-oz can of whole tomatoes, hand crushed)

Heat the oil and add the onions. Cook until tender, and add the garlic.
Cook until the onions are caramelized, just starting to brown,
Add the squash, and let it saute for a bit.
Add the tomatoes, lower the heat, and let it simmer for 20 minutes or so.

A little salt, a grind or two of fresh pepper, voila!

I often serve this over rice for a hearty side dish. Start the rice right after you add the tomatoes, everything is done at the same time.

I’m too lazy to make rice the right way. I use medium grain rice most of the time. And it’s usually Goya rice if you can find it in your area.

2 C water
1 C rice
pinch of salt

Heat the water until boiling (or almost boiling if you’re in a rush like I normally am)
Stir in the rice and add the salt.
Reduce to very low heat and cover.
20 minutes later you have rice.

Deviled Eggs

I have for a number of years been experimenting with deviled eggs as a warm-weather picnic bring-along. I have some devotees who ask “where are the deviled eggs?” even at Christmas. But I was always just winging it, never using a recipe, per se, and never getting consistently good eggs. Too salty, too spicy (too bland was not a complaint I’d heard). It was time to grow up and create a recipe. So here goes for my base line, which turned out pretty good.

1 dozen eggs, plus a couple spares

Eggs are best prepared a day in advance [1]. Best if put in the pot in one layer, laying on their sides, with enough water to cover them by an inch or so. I use a liberal amount of salt (as much as 1/4C) and perhaps a like amount of vinegar. The salt raises the boiling point of water; the vinegar keeps the whites at bay should little leaks evolve. Bring the eggs to a rolling boil, cover, remove from heat, and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain, cover with ice and cold water. The more ice the better. Let them stand for an hour or more, then refrigerate overnight (I don’t have to say “after draining off the water”, do I?).

Peel the eggs, halve the eggs, reserve the yolks in a shallow bowl. “Imperfect” whites can be eaten, fed to the dog, or discarded, your preference. On a good day you’ll have 24 halves, on bad day, 18. No matter. (The deviled egg container I have has 20 indentations. I thought that was a stupid number, until I figured out that I routinely screw up two eggs per dozen. 20 is the perfect average number of indentations.)

Mash the egg yolks with a fork until smooth. This it the only way. Trust me.

1/4 C Miracle Whip
1 T prepared mustard
2 T hot sauce (Tabasco or your favorite)
2 T sweet pickle relish (Cain’s is the local favorite)
1 T Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins is the best)
1 T cider vinegar
1/2 t salt
1/2 t coarse ground pepper

Mix well, and taste. It might need more salt, or hot sauce. If it’s too thick, add a bit more Miracle Whip.

Spoon about 1 t of filling into each of the egg halves, and garnish with smoked paprika, or a sprig of chive, whatever blows your skirt up.

[1] Eggs are also best purchased a week or so in advance. It makes no difference in the flavor, but they are much easier to peel, increasing your final yield.

Leek and Potato Soup

(Apologies to Alton Brown. I read his recipe, and other than leeks and potatoes, rather dismissed it.)

Oh, I also don’t really use recipes per se (so you know this is John, and not Peggy), so these quantities are approximations. This soup is so easy though that you don’t need a recipe, per se…

3 slices of bacon
3-6 leeks (depending on size – the leeks were maybe 1.25-1.5 inches so I used 6 tonight)
5-6 medium potatoes (I used gold potatoes tonight, any boiling potato will do.)
2-4 T Irish butter (really, this stuff is SO good)
2-3 T chicken base (it’s essentially bouillon paste – I no longer use broth of any kind)
1.5 Qt water
salt & pepper to taste (I used no additional salt tonight. There’s plenty in the bacon and chicken base.)

Slice/chop the bacon into little tiny pieces.
Wash the leeks, cut off the green stems and the roots. Slice lengthwise and then slice the rounds finely. Rinse the leeks under plenty of cold water. They tend to get kind of gritty due to the way they’re grown.
Peel and dice the potatoes (always dice before cooking – they’re easier to handle and they cook faster and more uniformly).
In a 6-8 qt soup kettle, melt the butter and saute the bacon until rendered. It doesn’t have to be crisp.
Add the leeks and saute for five or six minutes, until soft.
Add the potatoes, chicken base, and water.
Bring to a boil, turn down and let simmer for fifteen minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

Use an immersion blender or food processor to puree the soup. (The immersion blender is one of the great inventions of the 20th century, even though I maintained for years that we didn’t need one. I was wrong.)

Season to taste – just a good grind or three of pepper us usually enough.

Optionally, a half cup or so of heavy cream makes it just delightfully creamy, but with the bacon in this batch, I passed.

There you have it. Serve with Oyster crackers or Saltines if you’d like, but it’s pretty good all by itself.