Fresh Tomato Clafoutis and the Giveaway Winners

Much as I like recipes from Patricia Wells (our 11th Game Changer), this one was not exactly what I expected. I was all for trying a savory tomato claufoutis with some Roma tomatoes I had on hand but was surprised the clafoutis base ended up like a custard. Well, Mary from One Perfect Bite did mention the recipe resembled a frittata rather than a clafoutis and there's no flour, so I shouldn't have been surprised. The flavors are really good...all that Parmesan, thyme and lovely summery fresh Romas. For a light lunch, it can't be beat, but I don't think males in your family are going to like this much. Not enough substance.

The tomatoes MUST be dry...that is key. Which requires a lot of tomato preparation before you get to the simple recipe. After I drained them for an hour on paper towels, I wiped them dry, squeezing a bit. Once the tomatoes are prepared, the ingredient list is short. If you're having a friend or two over for lunch, this would be ideal served with some lightly dressed greens or a lovely fruit salad.

Tomato Clafoutis
From Patricia Wells via Mary at One Perfect Bite 

2 pounds Roma tomatoes, peeled, cored, quartered, seeded and juiced
2 whole eggs + 2 additional egg yolks
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 10-inch round baking dish. Set aside.
Remove the skin from the tomatoes by dipping them in boiling water. Remove the seeds and as much juice as you can. Salt the tomatoes and drain on several thicknesses of paper toweling for 60 minutes. Wipe dry and sqeeze lightly to remove most of the juice.
Place eggs, cream, half of Parmesan cheese and half of thyme in in a small bowl. Whisk to
combine. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Layer tomatoes on bottom of baking dish. Pour batter over tomatoes. Sprinkle with remainder of cheese and thyme.
Bake until batter is set, about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

The winners of the Make It Now, Bake It Later cookbooks are:
1) Lisa from Lisa is Cooking and
2) Rocky Mountain Woman
Please contact me at bsmithw@gmail.com with your name and mailing address. 
Have fun with them!


White Rice Browned and a Retro Giveaway

If you raised a family in the 50's, you'll know all about this series of paperback cookbooks. I used them constantly when the kids were little, still have every single one and still make our favorites from them. If this series is new to you and you'd like some make ahead meals for your busy life, this will be a fun addition to your cookbook library.

Here's the skinny:

Homemaker Barbara Goodfellow was the wife of a Navy Admiral who didn't want to be stuck in the kitchen cooking when she could be with her guests in the living room. She put together a bunch of recipes that could be prepared ahead of time and cooked in an oven without further attention. She self-published her first Make it Now, Bake it Later cookbook in 1958. (Half of all proceeds devolving to Mrs. Goodfellow were donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.) 

The first book and its subsequent five sequels went on to sell 1.5 million copies. Barbara died a few years ago, but her family still receives numerous requests for recipes from the original books - even though they've been out of print for 20 years. However, you can buy them (used) at Amazon.

One of the retro giveaway prizes today will be the first three cookbooks, numbered 1-3, plus the last three which are combined in one book, so you'll get three smallish paperback books and one thicker one.

The second retro giveaway has all six of Barbara Goodfellow's cookbooks under one cover.

(You might be interested to note there is also a "next generation" book: Barbara's son, Scott, and his wife, Ann, revived the Make it Now, Bake it Later phenomenon. It includes more than 200 new recipes that have been updated for today's palate, as well as a few of the most-requested recipes from the original books.)

To illustrate I made an easy peasy side dish: White Rice Browned. Because using browned butter is all the rage right now, perhaps this retro dish isn't quite as retro as one might have thought. Have you ever read shorter directions? And yes, I used salted butter....which I'm fairly certain was all that was available back then. I
t's even better warmed up the next day. 

White Rice Browned
From Barbara Goodfellow's Make It Now, Bake It Later


1/2 cup butter
2 cups raw white rice (I used Uncle Ben's)
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste as this is salted butter)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cans beef consomme (Campbell's, undiluted)
2 cups water
1/2 cup slivered almonds ( I always add more 'cause I love the crunch)


Melt butter and brown the rice and almonds. Place in casserole and add seasonings and water and consomme. Bake 300 for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.


Two of you will win these fun, retro cookbooks. All you have to do is leave a comment. Sorry guys, but U.S. and Canada only please! And make certain I have your email address. I'll announce the winners July 29th, so you don't have much time. 


Peach Cake

The peaches in my market are perfect right now, but they never last long. I bought my first few warily, worried they'd be mealy, but not this batch. I've been eating them sliced for breakfast and for a mid afternoon snack, juices running down my arms as I stand over the sink. That's how good they are. So I took the opportunity to make Ina's peach cake the other day. Have you tried her recipe? Two lovely layers of peaches. Everyone in your family will like it...doesn't need anything on it either, which, if you make it in the correct pan, would make a perfect slice for tea. (I baked it in an 8" square glass pan and it called for a 9" square pan. Mine made for a rather tall piece of cake.)

Fresh Peach Cake
2010, Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?, All Rights Reserved
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided 
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature 
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
3 large, ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced 
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar for 3 to 5 minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, then the sour cream and vanilla, and mix until the batter is smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix just until combined. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon. 

Spread half of the batter evenly in the pan. Top with half of the peaches, then sprinkle with two-thirds of the sugar mixture. Spread the remaining batter on top, arrange the remaining peaches on top, and sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture and the pecans. 

Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature. 



Rhubarb Crisp

Mark Bittman entitled this recipe "Rhubarb Crisp That Stands Up to Pie." 

I disagree. Nothing could top my mother's rhubarb pie!

I'm not saying this crisp wasn't good, it was excellent. One thing's for certain...it's a heck of a lot easier to make than pie. I'm a purist when it comes to rhubarb recipes...I don't like to add other fruit to it. And this one is pure rhubarb. So, if you're one of those people who hates dealing with crust, this will be your answer. 

Rhubarb Crisp

Mark Bittman, New York Times: May 14, 2010


6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for greasing pan 
2 1/2 to 3 pounds rhubarb, trimmed, tough strings removed, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (about 5 to 6 cups) 
1/4 cup white sugar 
1 tablespoon orange or lemon juice 
1 teaspoon orange or lemon zest 
3/4 cup brown sugar 
1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste 
Pinch salt 
1/2 cup rolled oats 
1/2 cup pecans.


Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking or gratin dish with a little butter. Toss rhubarb with white sugar, orange or lemon juice and zest, and spread in baking dish. 
Put the 6 tablespoons butter in a food processor along with brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt, and pulse for about 20 or 30 seconds, until it looks like small peas and just begins to clump together. Add oats and pecans and pulse just a few times to combine. 
Crumble the topping over rhubarb and bake until golden and beginning to brown, 45 to 50 minutes. 

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.



Chocolate Chip Cookie Chronicles

My daughter Tracy is a cc cookie aficionado. A cookie-tasting pro. She's been asking me to make her some Jacques Torres cc cookies since her last visit, when we unfortunately discovered they take at least a 24 hour wait in the fridge and we lacked the time.
Since my kids were little, I've always used a cc cookie recipe from the old Make It Now, Bake It Later cookbook. (Watch for a giveaway of this fun cookbook next week!) Not what she wanted this time. What she requested was the "real" Jacques Torres cc cookie recipe, for which I had the NY Times recipe and which I did make for her, but they turned out cakey so I'm not even going to discuss them today or show you a photo. Ugh. Besides, I didn't have real Jacques Torres chocolate to use. I mean, they weren't exactly inedible, but who likes a cakey cc cookie?

Anyway, I had seen (and saved) a recipe Valerie from Une Gamine dans la Cuisine posted for Thousand Layer Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. Thinking to give Tracy two kinds of cc cookie recipes to sample, I made Valerie's the next day. And BTW: they take time as well, so don't plan on making either of these recipes and eating the same day. (Frankly, just the length of Valerie's recipe gives one pause.)

What I don't understand is why mine turned out the way they did. Valerie's finished cookies looked neat and tidy like this: 

Mine looked right on the money at the point I refrigerated them:

but then something happened in the oven. Hmmmm. So I searched the net and while most results looked like Valerie's, Martha Stewart's recipe for the same cookie looked almost exactly like mine. (I'm in good company here, so didn't feel quite so badly.) Here's a photo of Martha's:

I suppose weather, brand of flour, ovens and who knows what all makes a difference, but I wanted mine to look prettier. :(  Still, if you close your eyes and just taste.....deevine.

Tracy took both kinds of cookies back to NYC with her for taste-testing at her gallery. Hands down, they all loved the brown butter cc cookie recipe. In fact, Tracy said these were closer to the Jacques Torres cookies she eats than the recipe the NY Times 
labeled Jacques Torres cookies. Funny. (FYI: here's the link to the NY Times recipe.) 

     The gallery "cookie monsters": Laura, daughter Tracy and Emily

So (when you have two days free :) ) make Valerie's recipe and let me know if yours turn out picture perfect or more like mine and Martha's.  Hope Valerie won't mind I used her photo above and copied her recipe below exactly. And I used the egg wash, but forgot to sprinkle them with sea salt before baking. Oh well. You all know I'm not a chocoholic, right? Labor of love, these were.

Thousand Layer-Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Valerie at Une Gamine dans la Cuisine

1 1/4 cups (that's 2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking Soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 room temperature egg
3 room temperature egg Yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into shards (aim for longer, super model-thin "strips," as opposed to cute chubby chunks)
1 large egg, lightly beaten (for egg wash) *The wash won't be used until very late into the recipe...lots of dough refrigeration time. 
Sea salt for sprinkling (optional, but highly recommend)

Brown that butter: Cut 1 cup (that's 2 sticks) of the butter into Tablespoon-sized pieces. (You won't be using the remaining 1/4 cup of butter right now, so leave it in the fridge.) 
Have a heat-proof bowl on hand to hold the butter once it has browned. Place the pieces of butter into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk over medium-low heat until completely melted. Crank the heat up to medium, and continue cooking the butter. As it browns, it will foam up, and then it will calm down a bit. If you notice that one side is more foamy than the other, use the handle of the pan to swirl it around occasionally. Once the foam settles down, check for light brown specks forming at the bottom. Those specks are letting you know that it's almost ready! Keep cooking, and swirling the pan, until the butter develops a nutty aroma. *As soon as it's golden brown, remove the pan from the heat and pour the brown butter into a medium heat-proof bowl. Allow the browned butter to come to room temperature before covering, and refrigerating until solid **(at least 4 hours.) 
*Note: Once the butter starts changing colour, it can burn super-fast, so don't wander off while it's cooking.
**Well covered, the browned butter can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Any longer, and it may lose some of that nutty flavour.

Remove the solidified brown butter from the fridge, and allow it to soften to room temperature. (Bring the remaining 1/4 cup of regular butter to room temperature as well.)
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking Soda, and salt; Set aside.
Scrape the softened brown butter into the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the 1/4 cup of regular butter and both sugars. Beat on medium speed until fluffy and light (about 3-5 minutes). Add the egg and beat for about one minute. One by one, add the yolks, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla and beat to combine. Turn the mixer down to low speed and slowly add the dry ingredients. Beat just until the streaks of white have disappeared. Use a large rubber spatula to stir in any reaming bits of flour.

Place the cookie dough onto a lightly floured surface, and divide it into 3 equal parts. Shape each piece into a 4x6-inch rectangle, wrap each one in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. If you haven't done so already, you can pass the time by chopping the chocolate! 

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper; Set aside. (No, you're not ready to use the oven just yet. Patience grasshopper) :) 

Remove the rectangles from the fridge. If they feel like they're going to be too hard to roll out, leave them at room temperature for a few minutes. Place one of the rectangles onto a lightly floured surface and sprinkle it with half of the chocolate shards. Top with a second piece of dough, and sprinkle it with the remaining chocolate. Top with the final piece of dough. You should have a high, delicious, messy cookie sandwich sitting in front of you. Try not to eat it! Dust the top layer of dough with flour, and use a *rolling pin to carefully/gently roll the dough into a rectangle that's about 9x6-inches and about 1 1/2-inches thick. 

*This is the part where things started to go south for me. My dough cracked, split, and threw a fit when I tried to roll it out. If this happens to you, don't worry! Instead of rolling out the dough, I used my hands to work the chocolate into the dough. And instead of one big 9x6-inch rectangle, I worked with small portions of dough at a time. Still delicious! 

Once the dough has been rolled, patted, or squished into a thickness of about 1 1/2-inches, use a 2-inch cookie cutter to cut out rounds of dough. [Note: I used 1 1/2-inch round cutters because I'm selfish and wanted more cookies.] Flour the cutter if necessary, and feel free to re-roll the scraps. Place the cut-out cookies onto the prepared sheets, cover loosely, and refrigerate for at least one hour. (Oh the humanity!) The longer you chill the unbaked cookies, the deeper the flavour! 

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Have the egg wash on hand, ready to use. 

Separate the chilled cookies before baking. These spread out a bit, so make sure to leave about 2-inches between each cookie. Brush the top of each cookie with a little bit of the egg wash. Sprinkle with sea salt (if using). 
*Bake for 14-15 minutes, or until the edges have just set. Rotate the sheets half-way through the baking time to ensure even browning. Remove the sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for about 5 minutes before carefully transferring them to a cooling rack.
*My cookies were perfect after only 11 minutes. They looked slightly underdone (which I prefer anyway), but they firmed up nicely as they cooled.

Makes about 20 cookies (if you're lucky)


Summer Pasta

We've never been pasta eaters in my family. I have a great old spaghetti sauce recipe I used to make for a crowd and, of course, mac and cheese when the kids were small, but these days I rarely make pasta dishes. My mother didn't either...mac and cheese, but that's it. 
I don't know about my boys any more, but I know my daughter doesn't eat pasta much (if at all) either. 

So normally, I wouldn't jump right in and make Ina's Garden Pasta, but I was intrigued with the way she "marinated" the tomatoes and wanted to see how they turned out. Another thing I liked about this recipe was I had all the ingredients needed without a trip to the store. Always a plus. 

The sweetness of the tomatoes shines through in this dish; I thought it was delicious. Here's a pasta dish that you can adapt for just one person. Or two.

Summer Garden Pasta

2006, Barefoot Contessa at Home


4 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
Good olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
18 large basil leaves, julienned, plus extra for serving
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried angel hair pasta
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving


Combine the cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, basil leaves, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for about 4 hours.
Just before you're ready to serve, bring a large pot of water with a splash of olive oil and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil and add the pasta. Cook al dente according to the directions on the package (be careful - it only takes 2 to 3 minutes!). Drain the pasta well and add to the bowl with the cherry tomatoes. Add the cheese and some extra fresh basil leaves and toss well. Serve in big bowls with extra cheese on each serving. Serves six.


Rhubarb and Almond Crostate

There was some homemade rhubarb jam in the fridge and I thought I'd better do something constructive with it besides slathering it all over toast every morning. These little gems are a cross between a crostata and a cookie. I cheated too. I used some packaged pie crust that was in the freezer. Quelle horreur! But oh, that rhubarb jam was divine. And the almond filling on top has cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg in it. Really, as Ina would say, how bad could that be?

I like the pick-up and walk away aspect of this dessert (kids will too), but also, you could serve it on a plate for dessert with a dollop of whipped cream (or even ice cream) on top. Lisa from Lisa is Cooking made them with a strawberry and fig jam, without the almond topping. Crostate are common in the bakeries of Italy.

You can use any jam (homemade is certainly best) and you don't need to make the almond topping if you don't want to, but I like that little "hat" on top and it adds more layers of flavor. You can cut the pastry circles any size you want; I made them large cookie size.

Rhubarb and Almond Crostate

Adapted from The Mozza Cookbook by Nancy Silverton


For the crust:
Use your favorite pie crust recipe and add some orange and lemon zest to it (or cheat and use packaged) OR you can find the original recipe in her cookbook (also online) and make it from scratch.
For the jam layer:
8 heaping tablespoons homemade jam
For the almond filling:
¾ cup almond meal/flour
2 extra-large egg whites (save yolks for another use)
½ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


Make the crust.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.
Use a plate about 6-inches in diameter as a stencil and cut out four rounds. (I cut them smaller) Save the scraps for the lattice. Place four on each prepared baking sheet. Chill the scraps.
Roll the edges of each round inward forming a 1/2-inch rim. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of jam into the center of each round, then smooth the jam right up to the edge of the rim. Repat with all the rounds. Refrigerate.
To prepare the almond filling, in a medium bowl stir together the almond meal, egg whites, powdered sugar, cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Spoon 1 teaspoon of almond filling onto the middle of each tart and spread it out slightly, leaving the marmalade visible around the edges of the tarts. (You may not use all of the almond filling.)
Remove the scraps from the refrigerator. Then pinch off a piece and roll it out with your fingertips to create a long, thin noodle like strand about 1/4-inch in diameter. To get it nice and even, I rolled it on parchment paper, stretching while rolling.
Lay three strands evenly spaced across each jam-topped dough round. Then lay three more at an angle, creating a diamond-shaped lattice on each jam-topped dough round. Trim the strands with your fingertips, pinching them into place to stick.
Cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to one day.
To bake: Adjust the oven racks so that one is on the top third and the other is on the bottom third of the oven. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the baking sheets from the refrigerator, take off the plastic wrap and bake about 25-30 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through, until golden. Remove the sheets to cool on a rack to room temperature.


Sharon's Jello Dessert for the 4th

Do you remember this dessert? Truly retro. My sister gave me the recipe back in the 50's when the kids were little and they loved it. Of  course back then, there was no blueberry Jello so you had to make do with blueberries on top. I'm not sure the adults at your house will enjoy it as much as the kids, but it was fun to revisit the recipe. Desserts like this were called "Broken Glass" because of the cubed jello in a variety of colors and flavors. Not very portable and certainly not what I call a quick dessert as it takes two days to make. But, as 
clichéd as it is, it kind of goes along with the 4th if you stick to red, white and blue. 

As for me, I'd rather eat cake. :)

Sharon's Retro Broken Glass Jello Dessert

1 (3 oz.) pkg. blueberry Jello
1 (3 oz.) pkg. raspberry Jello
1 (3 oz.) pkg. blackberry Jello
Boiling water
2 (3 oz.) pkgs. lemon Jello
1 1/2 c. pineapple juice
1 pt. heavy cream, whipped
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter

Prepare the three Jello's using 1 cup boiling water per package and 1/2 cup cold water; let set in separate pans overnight or until set. I used 9 x 9 inch pans. Cut into small squares when set.

Make a graham cracker crust: 
Combine crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and butter; pat firmly into 13 x 9 inch pan and bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Dissolve lemon Jello in 1 cup boiling water; add pineapple juice; let thicken somewhat. Whip cream with 2 tablespoons sugar; fold in lemon Jello mixture. The fold in remaining Jello cubes and refrigerate until set.
Decorate the top with fruit, cut into squares and serve.


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