A CookBook Recipes & Other Stuff or How to Keep the Kids from Developing Beriberi After They've Moved Away From Home

Friday, January 09, 2015

James Beard's Cuban Bread

 This is one of the first breads I ever baked about 1975? - from Beard on Bread. I still have the book although it's kinda messed up and floury....

It's still a really good recipe - although it goes stale fast - but you can freeze what you aren't going to use within a day and it only has one rising so it's also fast.

I know it's called Cuban bread - but Beard calls it French-style - not truly French, but just plain old bread - whatever you call it - Italian, French, Cuban ....

I guess you can see from all the posts today - I had meatballs and spaghetti and Italian bread for dinner :)

1 package active dry yeast or 2 1/4 tsp.instant yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
1 TBS salt
1 TBS sugar
6-7 cups flour (Bread flour is best)

Dissolve yeast in the water and add sugar and salt, stirring thoroughly

Add flour, 1 cup at the time , beating with wooden spoon. You can also use dough hook on electric mixer at low speed.

Add enough flour to make a fairly stiff dough

Knead until no longer sticky - adding flour as needed

Shape dough into a ball, place in greased bowl and grease top.

Cover with a towel and let rise in warm place till doubled.

Put dough on lightly floured board and shape into 2 round Italian style loaves or baguettes.

Put on baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal and allow to rise for 5 minutes.

Slash tops of loaves in 2 or 3 places with knife or scissors.

Brush loaves with water or egg wash and place them in COLD oven.

Set oven temp. at 400 F and place a pan of boiling water on bottom of oven.

Bake loaves until they are crusty and done for about 40 -45 minutes

Easy Pasta Sauce

I need a new sauce - I've tried so many jarred sauces and they just aren't the same as they used to be - or my taste is changing? It doesn't seem to matter what brand I try or how much they cost ... so I need a go to sauce for pasta that I can count on.

I don't know if this is really easy - well it's not as easy as opening a jar of Ragu. I used Muir Glen tomatoes - I've used them a few times, but I don't like the taste - I'm not sure why - they are too sweet? So next time I'll use some other brand ...

I have another recipe - pretty much the same except it has no tomato paste, cooking time is longer and has 2 onion halves which are removed when the sauce is done - I'm going to try that next time. While this recipe is good - and might be better with better tomatoes .. not yet sure it will be my new best sauce.

2/2/15 - I sort of combined the recipes - with less garlic and half an onion

From Serious Eats

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Generous pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or a few sprigs fresh
  • 3 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 large sprig basil
  • 1/2 onion - left whole
  • Kosher salt or whatever
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)


  1. 1
    In a large pot, combine oil and garlic and heat over moderately low heat until garlic begins to very gently sizzle. Add red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until garlic just begins to turn a light golden color, about 3 minutes. Add oregano (if using fresh add with basil) and continue to cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  2. 2
    Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until paste has softened and blended with the oil, about 3 minutes.
  3. 3
    Stir in canned tomatoes and their juices, increase heat to medium-high, bring to a gentle simmer, then lower heat to maintain. Using an immersion blender, blend tomatoes until sauce is smooth. (Alternatively, blend tomatoes in a standard blender before adding to pot)
  4. 4
    Add basil and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced slightly and tastes rich, about 30 or up to 60 minutes. Season with salt.
  5. 5
    Discard basil. Stir in butter, if using, until melted. Use sauce right away, or allow to cool to room temperature, transfer to sealed containers and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 6 months.


I'm updating my meatball recipe - because these are really good ... I know Liz and I just talked about how we like rubbery meatballs - but these are really good (did I say they were really good?) - probably because the breadcrumbs are soaked in milk - and because you cook them in the oven - which simplifies things.

I changed a few things - I left out the onions being that I don't like onions in meatballs, and parsley because I didn't have any - would've added some chives except that it is too cold and rainy to go out and cut some ...

From The Kitchn 

1/2 cup milk (whole, 2%, or skim)
1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs (used mostly fresh, a bit of dry)
1 large egg 
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper (about 1/4 - 1/2 tsp, and no - it was not freshly ground)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (not the cheap stuff in a can)
1/4 cup finely minced Italian parsley (or skip the onion and add some chives)
1 pound ground meat such as beef, pork, or veal, or a mix 
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (or grated on a coarse grater) from 1 small yellow onion (I don't know why it matters if 1/2 cup comes from a small or large onion)
1 clove garlic, finely minced (I grated it)

  1. Combine the milk and breadcrumbs: Pour the milk over the breadcrumbs in a small bowl and set aside while preparing the rest of the meatball mix. The breadcrumbs will absorb the milk and become soggy.
  2. Whisk the egg, salt, pepper, Parmesan, and parsley: Whisk the egg in a large bowl until blended. Whisk in the salt and a generous quantity of black pepper, then whisk in the Parmesan and parsley.
  3. Combine the egg and ground meat: Add the meat to the egg mixture. Use your hands to thoroughly mix the egg into the ground meat.
  4. Add the onions and soaked breadcrumbs: Add the onions, garlic, and soaked breadcrumbs to the meat. Mix them thoroughly into the meat with your fingers. Try not to overwork the meat; pinch the meat between your fingers rather than kneading it.
  5. Form the meat into meat balls: Pinch off a piece of the meat mixture and gently roll between your hands to form 1 1/2-inch (about ping pong ball size or a little smaller) meatballs. Continue shaping until all the meat is used.
  6. To roast the meatballs in the oven: Arrange the meatballs spaced slightly apart on a baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for 25 to 30 minutes. (Watch closely if cooking meatballs made with lean meat.) The meatballs are done when cooked through and the outsides are browned. (I wouldn't use lean meat and I used that non stick aluminum foil and turned the meatballs after 15 minutes)
  7. To cook the meatballs in sauce: Bring a marinara sauce or other pasta sauce to a simmer and add as many meatballs as will fit comfortably in the pan. Cover and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes. The meatballs are done when they're cooked through and register 165°F in the middle on an instant read thermometer. (They don't get that crunchy crust this way - so I wouldn't do it)

Recipe Notes

  • Doubling this recipe: This recipe can be doubled for larger crowds. (I got about 26 from this recipe as written)
  • Storing Leftover Meatballs: Store leftover meatballs, either on their own or in a sauce, in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Reheat over low heat in a saucepan or in the microwave.
  • Make-Ahead Meatballs: Meatballs can be shaped and kept refrigerated up to a day ahead. Arrange them in a casserole dish or on a baking sheet, but don't squish together. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
  • Freezing Uncooked Meatballs: Prepare the meatballs through the shaping step. Arrange them spaced slightly apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer the meatballs to a freezer container or freezer bag, and freeze for up to 1 month. (Meatballs can be frozen for longer, but tend to develop freezer burn.) Thaw meatballs in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.
  • Freezing Cooked Meatballs: Let the cooked meatballs cool completely, then transfer to a freezer container or bag. Freeze for up to 2 months. Frozen meatballs can be thawed overnight or reheated directly from the freezer. Reheat meatballs in a simmering sauce for 10 to 15 minutes or in a warm oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

King Cake or Rosca De Reyes

So you all won't forget that January 6th is Epiphany, marking the day when the Magi arrived in Bethlehem ... I decided to make a King Cake from a recipe on mostly.

The recipe blew up a lot more than I thought - I think it would really make 3 rings rather than just two - and a bit more filling in each. The traditional colors are gold, green and purple, but I couldn't find purple - so I dyed a bit of the icing purple ...

  •    2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  •    1/2 cup warm water
  •    1 cup milk, warm
  •    1 cup sugar
  •    1 cup butter, melted and cooled a bit
  •    1 teaspoon salt
  •    6 eggs, beaten 
  •    6 cups flour (may need up to 8 cups)
  •    1 (12 ounce) can solo almond filling or any other flavor
  •    2 dried beans (for the babies)
  •    colored sugar sprinkles

  1. 1
    Combine yeast and water in a small bowl, stirring until dissolved, and set aside until yeast is proofed.
  2. 2
    In a large mixing bowl combine the milk, sugar, and butter, stirring until dissolved.
  3. 3
    Add the salt, eggs, and yeast mixture and blend thoroughly.
  4. 4
    Beat in 3 cups of flour to make a smooth batter Add additional flour to make a soft dough (dough will be very sticky).
  5. 5
    Turn out onto a floured board and knead approximately 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding more flour as needed.
  6. 6
    Dough may be made with a standing mixer and dough hook.
  7. 7
    Round into a ball and place in a warm buttered bowl, turning to lightly coat top with some of the butter.
  8. 8
    Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.
  9. 9
    Punch down the dough and divide in half.
  10. 10
    To prepare rings, divide dough in half and flatten into a long oval.
  11. 11
    Spread 1/2 can of Solo almond filling I would use more) on each oval, place one bean into each oval, and roll each piece into a rope.
  12. 12
    Join ends together leaving large oval hole in the middle.
  13. 13
    Cover and let rise until double, about 1 hour.
  14. 14
    While the bread is rising, preheat oven to 350°F.
  15. 15
    Bake rings for 30 minutes in the preheated oven or until golden brown and sound hollow when thumped.
  16. 16
    Remove and let loaves cool on wire racks.
  17. 17
    Icing: Mix all the icing ingredients together until well blended.
  18. 18
    To serve, frost cooled loaves with icing.
  19. 19
    Decorate with different colored sugars or candied fruit.

Cinnamon Filling

cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2
teaspoons ground cinnamon
tablespoons unsalted butter, softened


cup powdered sugar
tablespoon milk
teaspoon vanilla