Friday, October 29, 2010

sunday dinner redux - halloween edition, GHOOOOOOOOUL-ash!

The Real Deal - Hungarian Goulash
What a perfect dish for Sunday dinner - on Halloween! Bela Lugosi would be proud.
This isn't macaroni and ground beef in a bland tomato sauce - this is Hungarian goulash, the real thing! Full of beef, peppers, paprika and the uniquely nutty flavor of caraway seeds, goulash is a dish that has been badly maligned over the years and turned into a mockery of its original deliciousness.
Goulash was a dish originally cooked over an open fire, first enjoyed by Hungarian herdsmen (the word herdsman is "gulyás" in Hungarian; this is where the name "goulash" originated). It is now one of the most beloved national dishes of Hungary and there are several spin-offs of it, versions with cabbage, beans etc. But this is the basic recipe and it's perfect as a warming, nourishing meal after a night of trick or treating in the dark, chilly sidewalk jungles. As you can imagine, this tastes wonderful when made a day ahead; just re-heat and serve over buttered egg noodles.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground paprika
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 4 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 medium red bell peppers or a combination of colors: red, green, orange, or yellow and cut into 1 inch squares (I used ripened Cubanelle peppers; our garden was overflowing with them and I love their flavor, much like a mild banana pepper)
In a large Dutch oven, brown the beef in the olive oil (not too many at one time, otherwise they will not brown properly). Transfer browned beef to a plate and reserve.
Add onion, garlic, paprika, caraway seeds to the oil and browned bits in the Dutch oven. Cook over low heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until onions and garlic are tender but not browned.
Return the meat to the pan, add broth and tomato sauce, combine all and cook, covered, for 1-1/2 hours or until meat is tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the chopped pepper squares and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until peppers are lightly tender but not mushy.
Serve over buttered egg noodles. Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vermont cheese soup ... by Vincent Price?!?

"A man who limits his interests, limits his life."
- Vincent Price
As an old movie fan in search of interesting Halloween recipes, I once decided to research horror movie stars, hoping to find a treasured recipe from the likes of Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr., etc. Imagine my surprise when I hit the motherlode - actor Vincent Price was a gourmet and a foodie! Who knew? In fact, Price authored several books including "A Treasury of Great Recipes" with his wife Mary. When I first discovered this, I knew that I had to have this cookbook and amazingly I found it on the shelf at one of my favorite consignment shops.

"A Treasury of Great Recipes," first published in 1965, is a tour of some of the Prices' favorite restaurants with accompanying recipes. The book is not only noteworthy for the fabulous recipes, but also for taking the reader back to a time of elegant dining at famous restaurants like The Four Seasons and Sardi's. The restaurants' menus are as fascinating as the stories and recipes, a true glimpse into a different era in fine dining.

This wonderful Vermont Cheese Soup recipe is from "A Treasury of Great Recipes;" Price felt that it sounded kind of "far out." I don't particularly think so, but I do think that it's absolutely delicious. It isn't an overly-thick soup like those that have lots and lots of flour and other thickeners. And, though the recipe says that this will serve 4, it's really closer to 2 as it's written (unless you're serving the soup as an appetizer in very small cups).

The only changes that I made to the recipe were the use of black pepper instead of white pepper (I just don't like white pepper, it always tastes like dust to me), and I used milk instead of cream (which may be part of the reason why the soup wasn't super-thick). But if you like white pepper and want to use cream, by all means do so. And, even though I typically use low-fat cheeses, I used regular Cheddar cheese for this recipe since the cheese needs to melt nicely for the soup and that has not been my experience with lower-fat versions.


  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 leek (white part only), chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped (you don't have to be too precise with the chopping; the vegetables will be strained from the broth later)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • salt to taste (I found that I did not need to add any salt; the stock and cheese were salty enough)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)

In a large saucepan, heat chicken stock to boiling and add leek, celery, and onion. Simmer for 45 minutes then strain into a clean saucepan.

Mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water, stir into soup and cook until slightly thickened (you'll have to increase the heat a bit at first).

Add the Cheddar cheese and stir in until cheese is melted. Add pepper and nutmeg, and taste to see if you need more salt.

To finish, combine 1 egg yolk with 1/2 cup of cream. Mix together and stir in 1/2 cup of the hot soup. Add this mixture to the soup, stirring rapidly and cook for 2 more minutes (don't let it boil). If you wish, add 1/4 cup dry white wine just before serving. Serves 4 (very small cups) or 2 (larger bowls).

Friday, October 22, 2010

beer - not just for breakfast anymore!

The National Pork Producers Council declares October "National Pork Month" (or "Porktober" as some like to call it). The Lonesome Road kitchen could not let this momentous culinary event go by without at least one porcine preparation. It was hard to narrow it down, but a tasty barbecue sauce will win almost every time.
This Beer and Molasses Barbecue Sauce by silvergami superman, beer aficionado, Team Bacon! compadre and all-around great guy Allegro Arts has just the right combination of things we like on our gravel road outside of prison town: beer, a touch of garlic, full sweet flavor - and NO KETCHUP.
Mr. Arts recommends using a darker beer like a Sam Adams porter or cream stout, or even a good hoppy beer like an IPA. Here on The Road, we used a Sam Adams Octoberfest with terrific results.
This recipe makes quite a bit of sauce so you can either sauce up anything that moves or freeze some for another day!
  • Two 12 oz. bottles of beer (one for you, one for the sauce)
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • One 12-ounce bottle chili sauce (Mr. Arts recommends Heinz; on the Lonesome Road we used Homade, probably because I love the cute little round jar.)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic (finely diced)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder (like Colman's)
In a saucepan, pour in 1-1/2 cups of beer.
Add the remaining ingredients and simmer over medium/low heat to reduce it to about half of the original volume, about an hour; drink the remaining beer while you wait for the sauce to thicken. When done, the sauce should be sticky but still runny.
To use, baste repeatedly over meat while grilling to build up a caramelized coating.
Mr. Arts recommends this for pork and chicken (check out the pork chop, above!), and I'm thinking that this would make a tasty and different dipping sauce - and would probably be fantastic mixed in with some baked beans.
To see more of AllegroArts, check out these links:

Above: amazing "silvergami" fine silver jewelry by Allegro Arts.

Friday, October 15, 2010

the weekend baker - the great pumpkin!

The Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2010...?
Imagine going to your favorite supermarket and.... the canned pumpkin shelf is EMPTY! You speed from store to store, in search of that elusive can of pureed curcubit. Panic begins to set in as you realize that you may never again see a can of pumpkin on a store shelf. Never, I tell you!
That's certainly how I felt recently. Fortunately I found a can hiding in a cabinet in my kitchen but it could have been curtains for pumpkin pie and pumpkin bars this year. I jokingly told people that I was going to sell that can for thirty bucks on Ebay. Then I discovered that people really have been doing that.
The cause of the shortage depends on who you talk to and where you get your news. The Washington Post says that there was too much rain, making it difficult to harvest the pumpkins. During a recent visit to a pumpkin farm in my area, I overheard the grower telling a customer that the plants were not being pollinated properly and that was the problem. Either way, I've recently noticed that supplies of canned pumpkin seem to be returning to stores and now we can all breathe a little easier about that Thanksgiving pie!
Another autumn favorite is pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting. Delicious, a favorite of all, and easy (if you can just find a can of pumpkin).
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1-2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (I like to use safflower)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Beat together eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin in a large mixing bowl. Combine all of the dry ingredients and gradually add to the pumpkin mixture, mixing well.
Pour batter into an ungreased 13x9x2 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely, then frost with cream cheese frosting.
For the frosting, beat together:
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup butter (half of a stick), softened
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk, or as needed for desired consistency
Spread frosting over bars and decorate them if you wish (they look very cute with candy pumpkins, or with icing "webs"). Makes 20 to 24 pumpkin bars.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

cheap eats - the comfort food edition

Chilly Nights and Frost on the Pumpkin...
it's time to put on a big, comforting pot of hot lentil & sausage soup!
I literally do not eat soup in warmer weather; being someone who is fussy about seasonal foods, temperatures and the like, I can't just sit down to a hot steaming bowl of soup when it's 90 degrees outside. But in the fall, that all changes, I can't get enough warming, homey soup!
Lentil soup is one of my favorite comfort foods, especially when it's prepared with spinach for added flavor, vitamins and iron. Since lentils do not require soaking it's actually very quick to prepare and so full of fiber, high in protein, and low in fat. And, the price is right too; a bag of dried lentils costs around $1.50 and will make so many delicious main dishes in less time than it takes to go out and grab a big, fattening, artery-clogging burger and fries.
  • 12 oz. Italian sausage, cut into slices (I use turkey Italian sausage but you can use a traditional pork sausage, or even seasoned veggie crumbles)
  • 1-1/2 cups dried lentils, picked over and rinsed briefly
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 10 oz. package of frozen chopped spinach
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • one large russet potato, chopped (I leave on the peel for more nutrition)
Begin by browning the sausage slices in a large soup pot; turkey sausage and veggie crumbles will yield little or no extra fat so you will probably have to add a bit of olive oil after browning in order to cook the onion and garlic.
Cook onion and garlic until wilted then add the lentils, broth, spinach and seasonings. Bring to a medium boil then turn down to a medium-low simmer. Partly cover and simmer for about 45 minutes; taste seasoning and correct if necessary (the amount of thyme and basil you use will depend on the seasonings in the sausage, and the amount of salt you need will be determined by the broth used).
Add the chopped potato and cook until potato is tender (another 20 to 30 minutes or so). Serve steaming hot with crusty French bread and butter. A sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese is a nice touch for the soup, or some crispy homemade garlic croutons.
Makes about six servings.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

necessary indulgences

Fun at 4:20. Or not.
Slow Down and Smell the ... Bacon. Or Cinnamon Apples.
There's nothing quite like having a day to yourself. No slogging along thanklessly for "The Man," no scurrying around running errands all day. No hurried weeknight dinners designed around everyone else's schedule. Eat dinner at 4:20? What am I, ninety years old? Didn't I just eat lunch about 3 hours ago? 4:20 might be time for something but it's not time to shovel in an uninspired supper.
So today was MY day to indulge myself with a nice brunch. Not only do I get tired of off-schedule eating and the accompanying crummy dietary habits it creates, but I like to cook - when I have the time to stretch out and experiment. Not just slapping something in the oven on a pizza pan for twenty minutes and calling it dinner.
This particular day I was craving something breakfast-y and this scramble with bacon, caramelized onions, and melty rich Brie cheese was just the thing. A side of sauteed Granny Smith apples dusted with cinnamon was the perfect accompaniment.
Maybe I'll incorporate it into a weekend breakfast someday.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

pimento cheese y'all...

White Bread's Best Friend!
Ever caught a strange food craving from a friend? A few years ago a friend of mine was having fearsome fitful cravings for pimento cheese. Couldn't get enough of it. Soon, the contagion spread and vast tubs of pimento cheese were being consumed on the Lonesome Road as well.

Alarmed by many of the unpronounceable ingredients in many brands of store-bought pimento cheese, I began to research recipes for this food of the cheese gods and discovered that it is amazingly simple. And, it's one of those preparations that tastes so much better when homemade. Plus you can control the fat content by using low-fat dairy products. Well, sort of.

Of course, the classic accompaniment to pimento cheese is white bread but I do like it heaped (too high) on stone-ground wheat crackers as well. Pimento cheese is really very subtle and mild, it combines best with flavors that aren't too assertive (no chicken and biscuit-flavored crackers, please). The amount of onion and garlic powders in the recipe can vary according to taste; personally I like to taste cheese, with a little extra seasoning.

And by the way, my pimento cheese-loving friend is partnering to open an online shop full of delightful accessories for young girls - check for Herding Turtles on Etsy soon!

  • 8 ounces low-fat Neufchatel cheese
  • 8 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise (substitute half sour cream if you like)
  • 8 ounce jar of diced pimentos, well-drained
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder, more or less to taste
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder, more or less to taste
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine ingredients thoroughly; check seasonings and adjust to your taste.
And, try not to eat it all at one sitting.


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