Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mayonnaise-Free Cabbage Slaw: A Dish That Dates To The Earliest Settlers in the United States; Let's Hear It For The Dutch!

I've always appreciated a good Cole slaw when served as a small side dish in our local diner. At Golden's Deli on Staten Island, there is a self serve bar with pickles and the 'slaw'. Both are delicious in a tart sort of way but I suspect that they might be commercially made.

The word 'cole' is an old and rarely used English word for plants of the cabbage family. The Dutch word 'koosla' was translated into English in the late 18th century. Kool, Dutch for ‘cabbage’, became cole, but 'sla' was translated into 'slaugh' which isn't used anymore. But 'sla' or 'slaugh' meant salad. The earliest record of the word in America is from the 1790s.

I came a cross a recipe for cabbage slaw recently with a little different take. This recipe was billed as a 'sweet-sour' version with the sweet part being golden raisins. There was no mayonnaise involved, the sauce was a Dijon vinaigrette.

Sounded delicious to me and with a lot less calories too. We gave it a try recently and it was judged a smashing success by all who tasted it. The hardest thing about this recipe was locating the golden raisins in an unfamiliar supermarket ... but once found, the rest was pretty easy.

Cabbage or Cole slaw is perfect for the summer and makes a great accompaniment to barbecued anything!

Sweet-Sour Cabbage Slaw

1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, preferably whole grain
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 small head napa cabbage (about 12 ounces), cored and shredded (6 cups)
1/2 cup red cabbage shredded
1/2 cup grated carrots
4 or 5 radishes, thinly sliced and cut into matchsticks
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh chives
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

  • Whisk together vinegar, mustard, and sugar. 
  • Toss together cabbage, radishes, golden raisins, and chives. 
  • Drizzle dressing over salad. 
  • Season with salt and pepper.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Garden Delivers: Not Quite A 'Horn of Plenty', We'll At Least Have Beans to Count; Farming the Back 40 (Inches) Is a Lot of Work!

On a warm but humidity-free sunny day in New York, I was out in the fields assessing the vegetable garden I planted earlier this spring.

OK, 'fields' is a bit of an exaggeration. I actually have a 1 foot x 4 foot plot running alongside my deck. I also have 5 large round planters that herbs and tomatoes are growing in.  It was the only part of the backyard that gets a good amount of sun. Our house is south facing and as such, most of the sun is in the front. Who knew when we signed the mortgage papers?

But waiting for me in the garden was a healthy amount of string beans with lots more smaller beans growing nicely. The zucchini flowers are in full bloom (I'd love to fry those but I'm afraid I won't get the vegetable later on) and it looks like that will produce a 'bumper crop.' That's farmer lingo for lots and lots!

The three cherry tomato plants are all blooming but not ready to be picked.

All is not completely well though. In addition to the vegetables, I planted dill, basil, parsley and thyme. The dill and thyme disappeared after making a brief appearance above ground. The parsley is growing but not as nicely as last year. The basil isn't too bad but i really planted a lot of seeds with few and weak results. I used old potting soil which I think might have affected the seeds in the gestation period. I'll have to read up on horticulture a bit more.

But I'm happy with the results anyway. String beans and zucchini are staples in our diet. Basil and parsley are favorite herbs. What was I going to do with the dill anyway? Make pickles? I'm so over their disappearance!

I've posted a few string bean recipes over the past year and I'll provide the links you want to give them a try.



Thursday, July 14, 2011

Eeek! A Leek! A Relative of the Onion, Leeks Have a Taste That Doesn't Linger; Learning to Love an Allium

I'm not a big fan of onions though I do use them sparingly...sometimes. And because of my dislike I've always shied away from it's cousin, the leek. But I recently I came across a recipe for Leek Tart that looked absolutely delicious.

I saved it for a weekend when the family was gathered (better to have a crowd to eat it in case I didn't love it) and the best part was that the rest of the clan loves leeks.

But first some words from the leek family tree: the edible portions of the leek are the white onion base and light green stalk. The darker green portion is rarely used. The leek, a member of the Allium family,  has a mild onion-like taste, kind of a mixture of mild onion and cucumber, with a fresh smell similar to scallion.

Leeks contain important amounts of the flavonoid kaempferol, which has often been shown to help protect blood vessel linings from damage, Overlooked is their important concentration of the B vitamin folate. Because of the connection to the onion, leeks share many of the same health benefits as it's more pungent relative. Leeks should be eaten in 1/2 cup amounts daily to get the most health benefits.

One of my sisters snapped a photo of herbs purchased at a farm 
stand on Long Islands east end. Placed in water, they stayed fresh
the whole weekend. 
Below is the recipe we made on the recent holiday weekend. In addition to the leeks. lots of herbs were used adding more health benefits to the tart. The crust, pate brisee, makes enough for two tarts. If you're not up to making the pate brisee, a shortcut would be using a prepared pie crust that you might find in the supermarket. I didn't have my tart pan with me so the one pictured above is a little free form. It didn't make a difference to the leek fan club...both tarts were completely gone and I had two pieces. I could definitely learn to love a leek!

Herb-Leek Tart
Serves 6

Pate Brisee (see recipe below)
All-purpose flour, for surface
2 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed well
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup chopped mixed herbs (such as tarragon, basil, chives, parsley, or chervil)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out pate brisee into a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 4 1/2-by-13 3/4-inch rectangular tart pan (available at williams-sonoma.com), leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Fold under overhanging edges, pressing firmly against pan, to double thickness of crust sides. Prick bottom with a fork. Chill in freezer for 30 minutes.
  • Line dough with parchment cut to fit, and top with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until edges are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove pie weights and parchment, and bake until bottom is golden, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. 
  • Meanwhile, saute leeks in butter over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until leeks are just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer leeks to a bowl, and let cool slightly. 
  • Add eggs and yolk, cream, creme fraiche, cheese, herbs, and salt to leeks, and stir to combine. Season with pepper. Spoon filling into cooled tart shell. Bake until filling is set in the center, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan on wire rack. Remove from pan and cut into squares.
Pate Brisee
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

  • Pulse flour and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream until dough just comes together (no longer than 30 seconds).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Setting the Mood With Candlelight; How Not to Burn Down Your House When Using Tea Lights; Two Down, 48 To Go!

A couple of years ago I almost started a fire using those small tea lights that we all love. These candles in particular came in a set from a well-known trendy home furnishing store. However, they were defective. After burning for about an hour while we had company, a guest noticed that one of them had caught fire creating a large flame in the glass tea light holder. There was nothing flammable around it so we were lucky but it frightened me enough that I swore off using real candles.

Not long after, I was attending a craft show and saw a battery powered tea light that a vendor was selling. I searched for them online and was able to get a bunch for a great price. See photo at right.  I thought I had solved my mood-setting dilemma but when I put the plastic tea lights in the glass holders it looked really cheap and decidedly 'unmoody'!

I came across a solution in a magazine recently. The glass tea light holders were painted from the inside with mirrored glass paint (made my Krylon and available in some craft stores) thus obscuring the fake flame. The effect of the painted glass holders was dazzling and I had my answer.

My local paint store didn't carry mirror paint and a trip to 'Michael's' craft store yielded only silver spray paint which I bought anyway to give it a try. I sprayed the holder from the inside and noticed that the shiny silver color looked dull on the outside. Oh well!

When it was dry I etched some designs in the glass (using the pointed edge of a wooden skewer) so that the light would shine through. I liked it but decided to experiment some more. I added another color (lime green) to the inside and painted it over the silver. Then I etched a scribble design all over and was very pleased with the result.

I own about 50 glass tea light holders so I will be busy for a while but when next we have company, the house will be warm and inviting!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Need Cookies in a Pinch? A Walnut Butter Cookie That's Easy To Make

We were invited to a friend's home for the weekend. I was without a car on the day we were leaving and had to find a cookie recipe that was easy, quick and most importantly, contained ingredients that I had in my pantry. I found this recipe on a website called livingonadime.com.

They were light and tasty and were enjoyed by our hosts and other guests over the weekend. I'll be sure to include this cookie when it comes times for holiday baking. With only 5 ingredients to worry about, baking a fresh batch of cookies couldn't be easier!

Walnut Butter Cookies
1 cup butter
6 Tbsp. sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup nuts
powdered sugar

  • Cream butter and sugar together. 
  • Add flour, vanilla and nuts. 
  • Roll into walnut sized balls onto a greased cookie sheet and lightly flatten. 
  • Bake at 400° for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, place on waxed paper and sprinkle with or roll in powdered sugar.

Friday, July 8, 2011

It's July! Take a Dip or Make a Dip Using Grilled Red Peppers; Two Simple Recipes For Great Outdoor Entertaining

Over the July 4th weekend we were staying out in my sister and brother-in-law's home in Westhampton, N.Y. Of course our thoughts turned to eating and I came prepared with a couple of recipes to try out for a large group. I had lots of help. My three sisters and neices were conscripted to shop, chop, roast, and pulse...and of course eat!

I had saved two grilled red pepper dips from some of my old magazines. Curiously enough, there was another in the most recent issue of Real Simple. Red peppers are a popular item in the summer probably due to their accessibility, cheapness and 'fantastical' sweet taste. These are middle-eastern in nature and a change-up from dips that I usually make using sour cream or cream cheese.

We made the two dips, each one taking bout 15 minutes to prepare, not counting the grilling time. One was red peppers and white bean dip, the other red peppers and walnuts. In an informal survey, the first dip noted here was more popular though I might have messed up the white bean dip by not draining the canned beans enough and so I will give that recipe a second chance later this summer.

Red peppers are extremely high in vitamin C and contain excellent amounts of vitamin A and beta carotene which helps the immune and reproductive systems to function properly. Vitamin C protects cells and tissues and helps to prevent cancer. The peppers are also a good source of niacin (vitamin B3) which helps to lower cholesterol levels and regulates blood sugar. B3 also helps the body to process fats. Vitamin A in red peppers can help with eye health and viral infections.

And the best part: one cup of red peppers contains only 46 calories!

Anyway, these are so simple and you can grill the red peppers in advance or roast if your fire is available while preparing the dips. The skin peels off easily using a small amount of olive oil. The rest of the steps involve a little chopping and a food processor. You won't be disappointed.

Grilled Red Peppers and Walnut Dip
Make this dip a day ahead to let the flavors blend. 
Serves 10 to 12. 

3 red bell peppers (about 1 pound)
One 6-inch pita bread (2 ounces)
1 cup water
1 small garlic clove
4 ounces walnut pieces (about 3/4 cup), toasted, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, plus more for garnish (optional)
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper

  • Roast peppers over grill until blackened all over, turning with tongs as each side is blistered or place under a broiler. Transfer to a bowl covered with plastic wrap and let stand for about 15 minutes. Peel, and discard skins, stems, and seeds. Set peppers aside.
  • Toast pita bread until crisp and golden. Break into 2-inch pieces; place in a bowl, and cover with the water. Soak until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain well, pressing out excess water. Set aside.
  • Combine garlic and walnut pieces in the bowl of a food processor; process until fine crumbs form, about 10 seconds. Add paprika, cumin, and reserved peppers and pita bread; process until smooth. Add vinegar, lemon juice, oil, and salt, and season with black pepper. Process until combined.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. Before serving, bring to room temperature. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with walnuts to garnish
  • Serve with toasted pita chips.
White Beans and Grilled Red Pepper Dip
Serves 8

1 (15 ounce) can cannellini, beans-drained and rinsed (I think I didn't drain enough and the dip got watery as it set. BE SURE TO REALLY DRY THE BEANS)
1/2 cup chopped roasted red pepper
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 3/4 tsp cumin for a different variation
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar


  • Place the drained beans, red peppers, salt, basil (or cumin), paprika, garlic cloves, olive oil, and vinegar in a food processor. Pulse until smooth.
  • Serve with pita chips. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Daily Suse: Happy First Birthday!

A year ago today I started my first blog. Not really knowing what I was doing, my post from last July 6th called " A Beginning" took about 5 hours to complete and I worked into the early hours of the night to get it published.

I've mastered the technology a bit more, changed my design once (with probably another to come this year), took lots of photos, completed some major projects and tried many new recipes.

So I thought I'd provide a few stats for those of you who read 'The Daily Suse' this year.

Total number of readers: 17,172

Most read posting: Jolly Good British Royal Trivia (3,032)

Audience: 12,669 readers in the United States.
Followed by the United Kingdom at 875 readers; then Canada at 694 readers and Australia at 361. About 20 countries were represented in varying amounts.

58 percent of the readers used Windows Operating system.

38 percent used Internet Explorer as a browser.

Thanks to all of my readers and I'm looking forward to bigger and better things this year.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

American Patriotic Triva, Part 2; Let's Hear It For the Fourth of July!!

A day late for more patriotic trivia but there's lots to go around. Here's a few more facts about why it's great to be an American!

American Patriotic Towns and Cities

  • 31 places nationwide have "liberty" in their name. The most populous one is Liberty, Missouri. Iowa, with four, has more towns than any other state.
  • There is a small town named Patriot in Indiana with a population of roughly 200 people.
  • Five places have the name "freedom." Freedom, California has the largest population
  • Eleven places have "independence" in their name. The largest city with the word "Independence" is Independence, Missouri
  • There are five towns in the country using the name 'America' with the most populous being American Fork, Utah.

Flag Etiquette and Trivia
  • The American flag should be displayed between sunrise and sunset, unless there is a light to shine on the flag in order to illuminate it in darkness. In that case, it can be on display all day and night. However, the flag should be taken in during inclement weather.
  • The flag's folded, triangular shape represents the tri-cornered hats of the colonial soldiers during the Revolutionary War
  • The proper method of disposal of a tattered, worn flag is usually by burning.
  • The American flag should never meet the ground, the floor, or water.
  • An upside-down American flag is used to signal distress.
  • The first American flag look like had 13 stripes and 13 stars.
  • $3.2 million American flags were imported in 2010 with more than half of this amount was for U.S. flags made in China.
  • 50 U.S. flags are flown 24 hours a day at the Washington Monument in Washington DC. Other places where American flags are flown continuously include Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland; the United States Marine Corp Memorial (Iwo Jima) in Arlington, Virginia; on the Battle Green in Lexington, Massachusetts; and over the White House in our nation's capitol.
The Liberty Bell
  • After being ordered from England and arriving at Independence Hall in February 1753, the bell was hung on March 10, 1753. The sound was tested for the first time then, and because of the flaws in the casting, it cracked.
  • The Liberty Bell was rung on July 8th to announce that the Declaration of Independence had been adopted.
  • About 1.5 million tourists visit the Liberty Bell every year.
The Declaration of Independence

  • The Declaration of Independence signed in Philadelphia.
  • The Declaration of Independence starts with 'When in the course of human events…'
  • John Hancock's signature on the Declaration of Independence is the largest.
  • In 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was adopted, there were 1.5 million people in the colonies.
  • Delegates didn't begin signing the Declaration of Independence until August 2, 1776.
  • Right after the Liberty Bell rang in Independence Hall, Colonel John Nixon read the Declaration of Independence to the public for the first time.
  • The Signers of the Declaration of Independence were: Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott // DelawareCaesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean // Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton // Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone // Massachusetts: Charles Carroll, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry // New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton // New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark // New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris // North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn // Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross // Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery // South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton // Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

How we celebrate
  • Fireworks were invented in China during the 12th century in order to ward off evil spirits. The United States imports fireworks from China every year for 4th of July celebrations. The value of fireworks imported from China was approximately $37 million in 2010.
  • More than 81 million Americans say they have taken part in a barbecue last year with most of these events taking place on the Fourth of July.
  • Although there is no fixed menu for the celebration of the Fourth, traditional favorites are hamburgers and hot dogs, chicken, ribs, garden salads, potato salad, chips, watermelon and apple pie. Over 150 million hot dogs are consumed on each 4th of July.

Miscellaneous Trivia
  • The star of the 1996 movie Independence Day was Will Smith.
  • The Statue of Liberty is 151 feet tall.
  • The national bird is the bald eagle, even though Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey.
  • The national flower is the rose.
  • Presidents James Monroe, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams each died on a 4th of July.Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, had a July 4th birthday.
  • The 4th of July become a national holiday in 1941.
  • Francis Scott Key wrote our national anthem.