"Piehole" in Midwestern means "mouth," as in "Shut your piehole." Preferably we shut it on some tasty home cooking. We love to grow, market, buy, cook, bake and grill so we can feed our faces, chow down, pig out, scarf & whatnot. I'm a born Midwestern home cook posting foods and recipes that show up in front of me, because like all Midwesterners I eat what's put in front of me. Pull up a chair. What can I get you?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Italian Bread Salad

Love Italian? Cut leftover white bread into cubes and let them stale a bit to make this easy and brilliant summer salad the Italians invented to use up day-old bread. Wakes up everyone's taste buds and with the bread cubes soaked in the wonderfully assertive dressing it's filling enough to be its own meal. Easy. Serves 6 to 8.

Italian Bread Salad

1 pound lettuce (romaine is nice)
1 large cucumber (English is preferred)
1 large fresh tomato, cut in thin wedges
1 cup sliced red radishes or daikon radish
1/2 pound or 4 cups stale French or Italian bread, cut in 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (don't omit!)
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup wine vinegar
1 tsp. dried basil or dried mixed Italian herbs
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh-ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh-grated Parmesan cheese; the stuff in the cans won't work.

Wash the lettuce, pat or spin the leaves dry, tear them into bite-sized pieces. Peel the cucumber and slice. Put the lettuce and cucumber in a large bowl along with the tomato, radishes, bread cubes and onion.

Next, put the oil, vinegar, basil or seasoning, garlic, salt, and some pepper in a blender and blend at high speed for 1 minute. Pour the dressing over the salad, sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese, and toss the salad gently for several minutes.

Chill the salad at least a half-hour before serving. Two or three days from now it'll taste just as good.

Monday, July 20, 2015

How I Cook Chanterelle Mushrooms

Only trained people know which mushrooms are safe to eat, so if you haven't been trained, buy your chanterelles from a market or licensed seller. Never taste, cook, or eat any wild mushroom that is not 100 percent identified by a qualified human. The Internet and books are not 100 percent trustworthy; "how it looks" is not a 100 percent ID. Cook all mushrooms before eating. Even the choicest mushrooms, when raw, contain hard-to-digest compounds and don't taste good; those compounds can evaporate with cooking. You already know that even everyday "button" mushrooms don't taste good raw. Here's how I cook chanterelles:

1. Obtain 1 pound of chanterelles. They should be firm and cheddar-yellow. Don't refrigerate them; they're not cold-weather fungi like store-bought button mushrooms.
2. Gently rinse with cold running water any soil, grass, or bugs from chanterelles; scissor off any tough, brown, or bug-eaten stems. You don't need to get every dark speck off every mushroom.
3. Allow the cleaned mushrooms to dry for a while on a towel.
 4. Tear the mushrooms into bite-size pieces. Discard any remaining tough stems.

5. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the mushrooms. Stir to coat them with the oil and let them cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until they are cooked through, and all the water cooks out.
Add salt and pepper if desired, to taste.

Chanterelles are good in omelets, quiches, soups, and on pizza, but they must be cooked before adding them to any recipe.
When cooked, they may be put in covered containers and refrigerated. Please note: Some people are allergic to all mushrooms. Rather than eat a bunch all at once, you and everyone who's joining you should take a small first bite.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Self-Crusting Quiche

Too lazy to roll out crusts and living too far from the store to buy them, I make:

Self-Crusting Quiche

1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, divided
3 cups vegetables such as bell peppers, chopped broccoli, or mushrooms, cut into pieces
1 cup shredded good-quality Parmesan or Asiago cheese
1-1/2 cups milk (not skim)
3/4 cup biscuit mix (such as Bisquick)
3 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
fresh herbs to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease or spray a 10-inch quiche pan or pie pan.
2. Saute onions in one tablespoon of  of butter until they begin to brown. Add the other tablespoon of butter, the vegetables, and saute until the vegetables soften and any liquid has evaporated.
3. Cover the bottom of the greased pan with the vegetables. Beat all the other ingredients together until they're smooth. Pour over the vegetables. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 5 to 10 minutes and serve. Also tastes good at room temperature.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Creamy Zucchini-Corn Soup Recipe

I bought a huge zucchini for 50 cents and with a bag of frozen corn and half an onion made this quick fat-free recipe--no butter, oil, or cream yet tasting creamy and great. From The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook (2000).

Creamy Corn-and-Zucchini Soup (10 servings; recipe can be halved)

6 cups chicken broth
2 cups diced zucchini (about 2 large)
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
3/4 teaspoon salt (if the chicken broth isn't salted already)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
hot pepper sauce (red) (optional)

1. Bring broth to simmer in a large saucepan. Add zucchini and onion; cover and simer 2 minutes. Stir in corn, salt, and pepper, cover, and simmer 2 minutes. Cool slightly.
2. Put three cups at a time of the liquid in a blender and puree.
3. Reheat. Serve with optional hot sauce.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lavender and Candied Ginger Shortbread Recipe

There's a reason why only two pieces of this shortbread survived for the photo. Making shortbread is very easy.

Lavender & Candied Ginger Shortbread (makes1 9x9 pan)

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons of dried culinary lavender buds, crushed
1-1/4 cup white flour
dash of salt
1-2 Tablespoons of water
3 Tablespoons of very finely minced candied ginger (also called crystallized ginger)

Cream the butter with the sugar. Add lavender, flour, and salt to the bowl. Beat until combined. Mixture will be dry. Slowly add water until the mixture is slightly moistened (the mixture should stick together slightly). By hand, mix in the candied ginger.

Press evenly into a 9" square pan. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes. It will still be light, but beginning to turn brown on the edges. Remove from oven. While still warm (but not hot!)  cut into squares. Let the shortbread cool completely before removing it from the pan. Store in cookie tins or freeze for up to several months.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pink Lentil Vegetable Soup Recipe

Tired of dark, muddy lentil soups, I made this brighter, lighter, and tastier version with vegetable scraps, pink lentils, and spices of India: It's also a make-ahead recipe. Serves 4 to 6.

1-1/2 Tablespoons light-tasting vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, crushed
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup chopped tomatoes (canned are fine)
1 cup chopped green peppers
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 rib celery, slice
1/2 cup dried pink lentils, picked clean
2-inch stick of cinnamon, broken
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
8 to 10 whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons chickpea flour (regular white flour can be substituted)
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup cream, or coconut milk (don't omit!)
freshly cooked basmati rice
1. Heat the oil in a soup kettle over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and onion, and cook until the onion is soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in the vegetables, lentils, spices, and flour.

2. Gradually add the water and mix well. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the lentils are fully cooked but still hold their shape, 18 to 20 minutes. Uncover, and using a slotted spoon, remove 1 cup of the vegetables and lentils, and set aside. Puree the rest of the soup.

3. Add the salt, sugar and lemon juice to the puree. Stir in the cream and the reserved vegetables and and cook on gentle heat until piping hot. Ladle into bowls and top each serving with basmati rice. 

Note: Steps 1 and 2 can be made up to 4 days ahead and refrigerated; wait until reheating time to add the seasonings, cream, and reserved vegetables.
-Recipe from Laxmi's Vegetarian Kitchen by Laxmi Hiremath, 1995.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

What's Hominy Good For? Spicy Posole Pork Stew

I bought cans of hominy because I thought I should, not necessarily to cook with. But then I tasted in a Southwestern restaurant the pork and hominy stew that's like a taco party in a bowl except it fills you and warms you to the core. This is the red or rojo version and it's blender-easy. . .and it's even better on the second day. The meat can be chicken or pork.

Posole (Hominy Stew) (serves 4)
3 dried ancho chile peppers
3 dried arbol chile peppers
1/4 cup chopped white onion
3 cloves garlic
a pinch of cumin
2 whole cloves
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

Soak the chile peppers in two cups of warm water until they're rehydrated, about 15 minutes. Stem and seed them. Place all ingredients plus 3/4 cup of their soaking water in the blender and blend until smooth.

1 28-ounce large can or 2 14-ounce cans of hominy, drained and rinsed and placed in a pot along with 2 cups of water
1 pound of pork or chicken, cooked and shredded or cubed
1 lime, halved (don't omit the lime)

Heat the hominy and water to simmering. Pour the ancho chile mixture into the pot with the hominy and meat and simmer for 15 minutes. Prepare any garnishes you have: recommended: tortilla chips, shredded lettuce, cubed avocado, shredded cheese, chopped onion, cilantro, sliced radishes, sliced jalapeno, dried oregano.

Ladle into bowls, giving each bowl a squirt of lime juice and let your guests top their bowls with garnishes.