The holidays are upon us, and guests will be coming and going. It’s always nice to have a stash of time-tested recipes on hand to relieve some of the kitchen stress so that you can enjoy your company. The following recipes are among my favorites.
Jane’s Marvelous Mushrooms have proven themselves over the years — rave reviews every time. The recipe was given to me by Jane Rouse when I wrote the first “Marie’s Kitchen” column in Davenport, Iowa, back in the mid-’70s. These mushrooms are nice as hors d’oeuvres or as a side dish with thick steaks or chops. I always prep them early in the day, cover and refrigerate, and remove them from the refrigerator 30 minutes before I plan to bake them.
Jane’s Marvelous Mushrooms
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
1 pound fresh mushrooms
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1/2 cup small, soft bread cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (off the block is best)
Method for Stuffed Mushrooms:
Gently clean mushrooms. Remove stems and set aside caps. Chop stems. In a small skillet, melt butter and sauté stems and onion until tender. Add bread cubes, cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly until light brown. Add salt, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Fill mushroom caps with this mixture. Place in a shallow baking dish.
Pour the wine around and a little over the mushrooms. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Top with the shredded cheese and continue to bake 8-10 minutes until cheese melts. Serves 4-6. For an appetizer, I serve mini rye bread slices to scoop up the melted cheese. Yum!
Pork tenderloin is versatile. I have served it many ways — stuffed with spinach and/or fruit, roasted with spice rub, roasted with peach glaze and sautéed medallions served with mustard-dill sauce, but I keep coming back to this recipe. It’s quick and easy and oh-so-tender. But as I have previously cautioned, plan ahead when preparing the guest list. Do not make any dishes that contain alcohol if any of your guests do not or cannot drink alcohol.
If I am blessed with oodles of time on my hands, I serve this tenderloin with Country Potatoes Au Gratin, which takes at least a couple hours to prepare and bake. But during the holidays, I take a simpler route — my mom’s browned potatoes. Simple, yes, but with no sacrifice in flavor (recipe follows). If you’d like the recipe for Country Potatoes Au Gratin, shoot me an email and I’ll send it your way.
Pork Tenderloin in Bourbon
(I always double the sauce recipe.)
1/4 cup lower-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup bourbon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, halved
3 pounds pork tenderloin
Method for Pork Tenderloin in Bourbon:
Mix together soy sauce, bourbon, brown sugar and garlic. Pour over pork, cover and refrigerate at least two hours, turning occasionally. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove pork from marinade and place on rack of shallow roasting pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 160 degrees F. Yield: 6 servings.
I grew up on plenty of real butter. Mom told us that, no matter how poor we were (and we were), we would never see margarine in our home. She told us that color was injected to make whatever they were passing off as butter look yellow. Margarine is a manufactured food product, never designed to be healthy, nutritious or beneficial. God rest her beautiful soul, Mom was right — margarine was designed to be an imitation, an inexpensive substitute for the real deal. Like Mom, you will not find margarine in my refrigerator.
Mom’s Browned Potatoes
Russet potatoes (plan on two potato halves per person, but extras for potato lovers.)
Method for Mom’s Browned Potatoes:
Peel potatoes and cut in half. Bring a pot of cold water to a boil and then add lots of salt and the halved potatoes. Boil potatoes until just tender (usually about 30 minutes). Put potatoes into a colander to drain and allow to cool a bit. About 20 minutes before you’re ready to serve dinner, heat lots of butter in a large fry pan. When it begins to sizzle, but not burn, add the potato halves and over medium heat, brown them really well on all sides. Serve with lots of additional butter, salt and pepper.
I’ve never been a big fan of flank steak. Tenderness was the issue. But earlier this year I found a recipe for Maple & Soy-Glazed Flank Steak, and it has changed my opinion of this cheaper cut of meat. The recipe said to marinate for 20 minutes, but that is not enough time to reach the tenderness level I prefer. So, I usually put the steak into the marinade for at least two hours before I turn on the broiler. If you like a bit more kick, increase the Sriracha to two teaspoons instead of one.
Maple & Soy-Glazed Flank Steak
1 1-pound flank steak, trimmed
3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons rice wine or dry sherry
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sriracha (hot chili sauce, such as Texas Pete)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Method for Maple & Soy-Glazed Flank Steak:
Gently pierce the steak on both sides. In a shallow dish, combine soy sauce, maple syrup, rice wine or sherry, sesame oil, Sriracha and pepper; mix well and add the steak, turning to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for two hours, turning occasionally. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you turn on the broiler.
Remove steak from marinade; reserve marinade. Place steak on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Pour marinade into a small pan and bring to a boil, stirring well. Cook marinade over medium-high heat for three minutes, or until thick and syrupy.
Brush steak with half the glaze; broil five minutes. Turn steak over and brush with remaining glaze; broil five minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Place steak on a cutting board and let stand five minutes. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices. Yield: Four 3-ounce servings. Serve with rice and a green veggie.
Martha Stewart’s recipe for Roasted Plum Tomatoes is the easiest and tastiest one I’ve found. It provides a nice splash of color alongside the flank steak (previous recipe). This recipe is in “Great Food Fast,” one of my favorite Martha Stewart cookbooks.
Roasted Plum Tomatoes
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
8 plum tomatoes (about 1-1/2 pounds), cored and halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil (I use 2 tablespoons.)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Method for Roasted Plum Tomatoes:
Transfer the tomatoes to a rimmed baking sheet; toss with the olive oil, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper until coated.
Arrange in a single layer, cut sides up. Bake until soft, about 30 minutes. Yield: 4 servings.
Another roasted vegetable recipe is Chef Ina Garten’s Herb-Roasted Onions. Many roasted onion recipes call for one whole onion per person, but Ina cuts them into wedges, which works out much better, because not all guests can eat an entire onion. Leftovers reheat well. With the combo of both red and yellow onions, this dish is also eye-appealing.
Ina Garten’s Herb-Roasted Onions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
4 red onions
3 yellow onions
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Method for Herb-Roasted Onions:
Remove the stem end of each onion and carefully slice off the brown part of the root end, leaving the root intact. Peel the onions. Stand each onion root end up on a cutting board and cut the onions in wedges through the root. Place the wedges in a large bowl.
Combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the onions and toss well.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a sheet pan, reserving the vinaigrette that remains in the bowl. Bake the onions for 30 to 45 minutes, until tender and browned, tossing the onions once during cooking. Remove from the oven and drizzle with the reserved dressing. Sprinkle with parsley, season to taste and serve warm or at room temperature. Yield: 6 servings.
My recipe for 1-2-3 Blackberry Sherbet was in the June/July 2009, issue of Taste of Home magazine. It only takes 10 minutes to prepare, plus three hours freezing time. The recipe is from Lisa Eremia from Irwin, Pa. The first time I made the sherbet, I wrote the word “delicious” on the recipe, which always means that recipe is a keeper! Reserve a few berries to top each serving.
1-2-3 Blackberry Sherbet
4 cups fresh or frozen blackberries, thawed (I use fresh blackberries.)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups buttermilk
Method for Blackberry Sherbet:
In a food processor, combine blackberries and sugar; cover and process until smooth. Strain and discard seeds and pulp. Stir in buttermilk. Transfer puree to a 13-by-9-inch dish; freeze for one hour or until edges begin to firm. Stir and return to freezer. Freeze two hours longer or until firm.
Just before serving, transfer to a food processor; cover and process for two to three minutes, or until smooth. Fill glass custard cups with sherbet and top each with one or more blackberries. Yield: 1 quart — about 8 servings.
When Caramel Crumb Apple Pie is baking, your house smells like a candy apple! Guests always ask for this recipe.
Caramel Crumb Apple Pie
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and place oven rack in the lowest position.
28 Kraft caramels
2 tablespoons cold water
4 cups sliced Granny Smith apples
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I prefer pecans.)
1/3 cup butter
Method for Caramel Crumb Apple Pie:
Unwrap the caramels and place them into the water in the top of a double boiler. Melt over low heat, stirring occasionally until sauce is smooth. Layer apples and caramel sauce in pie shell.
Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and nuts. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs and sprinkle the crumbs over the apples.
Place pie on oven rack that has been placed in the lowest position. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the apples are done when tested with a toothpick. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
(Editor’s note: If you have recipes to share, or recipes you want, contact Marie Cook, Coastal Point, P.O. Box 1324, Ocean View, DE 19970; or by email at ChefMarieCook@gmail.com. Please include your phone number. Recipes in this column are not tested by the Coastal Point.)