salads & soups

Potato Salad for Two

Make a dressing with:
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
3 Tablespoons sour cream
1 Teaspoon yellow mustard
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon black pepper
(start with less salt & pepper so you can adjust to your taste)
1 small sweet white onion or 1 thick slice from a larger one – chopped fine
2 small or 1 large dill pickle – chopped fine
Mix together and refrigerate. Peel and dice three medium red potatoes
Cook in salted water until just fork tender
Drain and cool under running water – they will still be warm but that’s alright.Peel and chop three hard cooked eggs.Fold the warm potatoes and the eggs into the cooled dressing. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least for several hours. Makes four to six servings, and will keep, refrigerated, for up to 72 hours . 

Nana’s Penne with Basil

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Early in the day – Bring 2 quarts of salted water to boil in a large kettle. While the water is coming to the boilMix together in a medium serving bowl:3/4 cup good mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar
1 finely chopped shallot
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsleyLeave the dressing flavors to meld. Cook one half of a 12 oz. package of penne (or another macaroni shape of your choice) in the boiling water, according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until the pasta is cool to the touch. Mix cooled pasta into dressing, coating thoroughly.Adjust seasonings to your taste.At this point I sometimes add a couple of roughly chopped hard boiled eggs. They aren’t necessary, but give a special richness to the dish.Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 4 servings.Any leftover salad can be refrigerated overnight. More than 24 hours is not advisable since the dressing is almost completely absorbed and the freshness of the herbs is lost. 

3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon
4 cups = 1 quart
4 quarts = 1 gallon
16 ounces = 1 pound

 Our kitchen closes for the summer
or at least goes on vacation. Entrees are prepared on the grill and side dishes go from warm and comforting to cold and crisp. Salads, field fresh corn-on-the-cob, sliced tomatoes, and fruits in season stand in for comfort food for a couple of months.

Nothing too complicated is even considered, and if we do get hungry for heavier fare, potatoes are boiled and turned into potato salad. Same goes for pasta.One of the things we try to keep on hand in this more relaxed season is my homemade blue cheese salad dressing. It’s like no other! We use it on salads, of course, and as a dip for crackers or crisp veggies. We spread it in sandwiches. And, if we make a full recipe, we give it as gifts!”Why,” you may be asking, “is this blue cheese dressing any better than what I can buy at the grocery store?”Because it’s a four-star chef’s favorite recipe and 30 years ago the only place it could be tasted was in said chef’s amazing restaurant, The Yeager, in Greeley, Colorado. Maybe the reason it’s so special to me is because of the way it came into my possession.I was working as personal secretary to the Vice President of Northern Colorado’s largest insurance agency at the time. The 30 or so “girls” in the office lunched at The Yeager at least once or twice a week in groups of two or twenty, and we always asked for Bill’s blue cheese dressing on our salads. It was (and is) amazing. One year at Thanksgiving we decided to take all of “the girls” to Bill’s for our Christmas gift exchange party. It meant an entire afternoon of eating and drinking for at least 30 people – a nice piece of business for the restaurant.Never one to let a golden opportunity go by the secretary to the President, who made the party arrangements, sealed the deal by telling the chef she wanted his recipe for the dressing we all dreamed of having. Her implication was the reservation depended upon his willingness to share the recipe with her. I wasn’t in on the conversation, but somehow she managed to convince him to write it down for her. We heard later there was some cash exchanged in addition to the party reservation?The problem was, cooking was not her strong suit and Bill wrote his recipe in restaurant size portions. We’re talking a gallon of mayo! Pat had what she wanted, but she couldn’t make use of it.In stepped Ellen. I could reduce the recipe to quart size and keep the original amazing flavor in tact. Would she give it to me? NO! But, if I would make her one of those adorable ceramic Christmas trees like I had in my office she would trade me. She, of course, would then have a recipe she could use AND the ceramic Christmas tree she coveted. Nice deal, huh?Well… I made the tree (ceramics were something I was sooo into doing at the time anyway) and got: 

The Yeager’s Blue Cheese Dressing.
Let me know if you think it was worth it, won’t you?
THE ORIGINAL: (enough for The Yeager)1/2 gallon Mayonnaise
1 1/4 pounds Blue Cheese
1 1/4 pounds large curd Cottage Cheese
1 1/4 pounds Sour Cream
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1/4 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
1/4 cup Sherry
1/3 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 Tablespoon Tabasco Sauce
1/8 cup Worcestershire
1 raw egg

HALF: (about two quarts – keep one, give one away)1 quart Mayonnaise
10 ounces Blue Cheese
10 ounces large curd Cottage Cheese
10 ounces Sour Cream
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/8 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
2 Tablespoons Sherry
8 teaspoons Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Tablespoon Tabasco Sauce
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

QUARTER: (enough for us)
2 cups Mayonnaise
4 ounces Blue Cheese
6 ounces large curd Cottage Cheese
6 ounces Sour Cream
2 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
2 Tablespoons Sherry
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
dash Tabasco Sauce
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce 

Just in case you wondered – Bill and Chris Yeager closed their restaurant in the 80’s and retired. So far as I know there is absolutely no reason not to share the recipe freely now and it’s just too wonderful to remain a secret anymore.

My Great Aunt Mattie made the best pickles in the world! As summer wended it’s way into fruitful early autumn, while the cucumbers still produced abundantly and the dill weed had set seeds she made enough pickles to carry through the winter. Auntie would enthusiastically check her garden every morning; then depending on quantity and size available start a batch of pickles before the rest of the day’s work got underway.

Today all that’s needed to serve a dish of pickles with dinner is a trip to the supermarket. Trust me when I tell you – it’s just not the same at all.

If you’re interested in trying this old fashioned treat yourself – here are a few of Auntie’s best pickle recipes.

Bread & Butter Pickles:

25 to 30 medium size cucumbers
8 onions and two sweet green peppers
1/2 cup pickling salt
Wash cukes, slice thin. Chop onions and peppers. Combine with cukes and salt and let stand 3 hours.
Cook together:
5 cups vinegar
5 cups sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Bring to a boil, add drained cukes, heat but do not boil.
Pack in jars and seal.

Dill Pickles:

Wash and pack cukes in jars with a generous stalk of dill weed, one bay leaf, one garlic button, one small red pepper and a generous shake of cracked black pepper in the bottom.
Boil: 6 quarts of water, 1 quart of vinegar, 1 heaping teaspoon powder alum.
Pour over packed pickles and seal.
Turn upside down till cool

Sweet Pickles:

Peel large cucumbers (picked before yellow). Cut in quarters and scrape out the seeds. Soak in weak brine over night, drain good and scald in boiling water. Then pack in jars. Make a syrup of one quart vinegar and two pounds of sugar. Add any kind of spices. Fill jars with boiling syrup and seal.

Sweet Cucumber Slices:

About 15 long cukes, or use more of the short type (not too mature). For 4 successive mornings pour boiling water on them. On the 5th morning, slice cukes fairly thin and cover with this syrup:
1 quart vinegar
8 cups sugar
2 tsp. salt
few drops green coloring
2 tsp. pickling spices
1 stick of cinnamon
Tie spices loosely in a bag. Boil the syrup and pour over slices: do this for 3 mornings. On the 4th morning, bring pickle slices and syrup to a boil. Pack in jars and seal.

A couple of thoughts – HOT liquids and sterilized jars are a must in the process but none of the old hand written recipes say anything about safety issues. Generations of women canned and they just knew how to do it, because their mothers and grandmothers taught them how. Today we get pickles at the store and what’s a brine anyway?

If you have questions or concerns this link can help