Sunday, October 5, 2014

Bread and Butter Pickles

Based on a family recipe and the techniques demonstrated in the video recipe for "Bread and Butter Pickles -- One of the Great Depressions Greatest Hits" from Food Wishes, August 26, 2014. Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for Two. Makes about 8 pints.

If you are going to can the pickles, review Internet sites with instructions on canning so you are familiar with the procedure and the precautions you need to take to prevent spoilage.


5 pounds pickling cucumbers
3 medium yellow onions
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
 ⅓ cup kosher salt

3 cups white (distilled) vinegar
5 cups sugar
1½  teaspoons turmeric
1½ teaspoons celery seed
2 tablespoons mustard seed


  1. Rinse the cucumbers and slice into 3/16-inch thick slices. (Anywhere between 1/8- and 1/4-inch thick should be fine.) You should have about 4 quarts of sliced cucumbers.
  2. Peel the onions and slice them parallel to the equators to the same thickness as the cucumbers. Cut the slices into sections so each onion segment is no more than an inch or so long.
  3. Rinse the peppers and remove the stem and core. Cut them into pieces about the same size as the onion pieces.
  4. Combine the cucumbers, onion, peppers, and salt in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate for three hours or cover with ice and leave on the counter.
  5. Rinse the vegetables well to remove excess salt.
  6. Place clean pint mason jars in a Dutch oven, open side down, with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a sub-simmer.
  7. Place jar lids in a small sauce pan with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a sub-simmer.
  8. To make the pickling liquid, combine the remaining ingredients in a large pot and bring the mixture to a boil on high heat.
  9. Add the cucumber mixture to the hot pickling liquid and return to a boil, ensuring that the vegetables are all submerged. Add extra vinegar and sugar if needed.
  10. Turn the heat down so the mixture is at a slow simmer.
  11. Carefully remove a hot pint jar from the Dutch oven, drain, and fill with pickles using a canning funnel. Fill with pickling liquid to within ¼-inch of the top.
  12. Using a skewer or knife, poke down the pickles to remove air bubbles.
  13. Wipe the top of the jar and threads clean, carefully add a hot lid from the hot saucepan, close with a ring, and set aside to cool.
  14. You should hear each of the lids snap as they seal. When they have cooled, press down on each lid to ensure it has sealed. If it has the lid will not flex. Unsealed jars should be refrigerated.
Rinse pickling cucumbers.
Slice the cucumbers.
Slice the onions and quarter the slices.
Cut the peppers into pieces similar in size to the onion.
Combine the vegetables, add salt, and let sit (chilled) for 3 hours.
Rinse the salted vegetables to remove excess salt.
Combine ingredients for pickling liquid and bring to a boil.
Add vegetables, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a slow simmer.
Sterilize canning lids in boiling water.

Sterilize pint mason jars in boiling water.
Fill the jar with pickles and liquid.
Remove air bubbles.
Clean the rim of the jar.

Add the rim, screw on the ring, and set aside to cool and seal.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

American Onion Soup

Based on a video recipe for "American French Onion Soup—Easy Just Got Easier" from Food Wishes, April 24, 2012. Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for Two.

Notes: Chef John, in the original recipe, used a mixture of Monterey Jack and Sharp Cheddar cheeses. I chose to go traditional and use Gruyere. If you don't have a broiler-safe soup bowl you can create the raft of cheesy toast by toasting the bread in your toaster, covering it with grated cheese, and melting the cheese in the microwave. Use high quality, low sodium broths. Makes about 2½ quarts soup.



6 large yellow onions
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Table salt and black pepper
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoons dry sherry wine
4 cups beef broth
4 cups chicken broth
Gruyere cheese


  1. Peel the onions and cut into large dice (½- to 1-inch).
  2. Heat oven to 425° with a rack in the middle position.
  3. In a large oven-proof skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
  4. Add onions and ½ teaspoon salt.
  5. Stir to coat all of the onion in the melted butter.
  6. Move the onions to the oven and cook until well caramelized, soft, and sweet, stirring every 15 minutes.  About 90 minutes.
  7. Move the pan to stove over medium heat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are browned and brown fond forms on the bottom of the pan, about 30 minutes.
  8. Add the sherry and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
  9. When the liquid has almost all evaporated transfer the onions to a large sauce pan.
  10. Add the thyme, chicken broth, and beef broth, 
  11. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, skimming and discarding any fat or foam that rises to the surface.
  12. Reduce the heat and gently simmer for 1 hour.
  13. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  14. Remove the thyme stems from the soup and discard.
  15. Slice some hearty white bread, coat it with butter, and toast under the broiler.
  16. Fill a heat-proof bowl or ramekin with soup, top with the toast and ⅓ cup shredded cheese.
  17. Place under the broiler (about 6 inches away) and cook about 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.
  18. Serve and enjoy.

Peel 6 large yellow onions then cut into large dice.
Melt butter in a large oven-proof skillet, add onion, and stir to coat.
Cook the onion in the oven until soft and well caramelized.
Cook the caramelized onion on the stove until browned and a fond has formed.
Deglaze with sherry and combine onions with broths and thyme.
Bring to a boil then simmer.
Serve in bowls topped with toast and cheese which has melted under the broiler.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Recipe: Quick Pork Cassoulet

Based on a recipe for "Pork Cassoulet" from The America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook, 2012, p. 51. Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for TwoServes 6.


2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound pork tenderloin
12 ounces kielbasa
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes


  1. Drain and rinse beans.
  2. Trim fat from the tenderloin and cut into ½- to 1-inch chunks.
  3. Cut the kielbasa in half lengthwise then slice into ¼-inch slices.
  4. Chop the onion fine.
  5. Peel the garlic and press it with a garlic press.
  6. In blender process 1½ cups beans and 1 cup chicken broth until smooth and set aside.
  7. Pat the pork pieces dry and season lightly with Kosher salt and black pepper.
  8. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil until just smoking. 
  9. Add the pork tenderloin and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes, then transfer the browned pork to a bowl.
  10. Reduce heat to medium,  add the onion and kielbasa, and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  11. Add garlic and thyme and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  12. Add the remaining 1 cup broth and stir, scraping up any brown bits from the pan.
  13. Add tomatoes, puree´d beans, and remaining beans, stir to combine, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  14. Add browned pork tenderloin and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
  15. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve topped with toasted croutons.

Drain and rinse the beans.
Trim pork tenderloin and cut into pieces.
Dice onion, fine, and cut up kielbasa.
Press garlic and measure dried thyme.
Process 1½ cups beans and 1 cup broth. (Yes, this should have been a blender.)
Brown seasoned pork in oil until browned on all sides.
Remove pork and cook the onions and kielbasa. Add garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant.
Add broth, pure├ęd beans, beans, and tomatoes and simmer until slightly thickened.
Add browned pork tenderloin, cook until heated through, and serve.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Recipe: Chocolate Snowcap Cookies

Based on a video recipe from Food Wishes. Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for TwoMakes about 3½ dozen cookies.

These cookies are easy to make using pretty standard techniques. Butter and sugar are creamed together, the liquid ingredients are incorporated and then the solid ingredients. The dough is refrigerated, scooped, rolled into balls (kinda messy), rolled in powdered sugar, then baked. You'll want to plan ahead as you should refrigerate the dough overnight.



6 ounces dark chocolate (e.g. Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon table salt
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup powdered sugar


  1. Bring the butter to room temperature.
  2. Break the dark chocolate into small pieces and melt it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt and set aside. If necessary, press the cocoa powder through a fine mesh strainer to remove lumps.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the brown sugar and the butter until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time and mix into fully incorporated.
  6. Add melted chocolate and mix until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed.
  7. Add the cocoa mixture and mix until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed.
  8. Transfer the dough to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
  9. Place the powdered sugar in a small bowl.
  10. With racks in the lower middle and upper middle positions, heat the oven to 350°.
  11. Using a #60 disher (about 1 tablespoon), scoop the dough and roll it into a ball with your hands.
  12. Generously coat the ball with powdered sugar, do not remove the excess sugar from the ball, then place the ball on a rimmed baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Space the cookies about 2 inches apart.
  13. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes until the top is cracked and the center is almost set, switching and rotating the baking sheets after 5 minutes.
  14. Cool on the baking sheets for about 3 minutes until the cookies are firm then transfer them to a rack to cool.
Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
Carefully melt chocolate.
Cream butter and sugar together then mix in the eggs one at a time.
Add melted chocolate and stir until combined.
Add cocoa powder mixture, stir until combined, then chill the dough overnight.
Roll dough into balls, coat liberally with powdered sugar, bake at 350°, cool, and serve.

Recipe: Chicken Stew

Based on a  recipe for "Best Chicken Stew" from the November 2013 Cook's Illustrated. Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for TwoServes 6.


2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 slices bacon
1 pound chicken wings halved at the joint (I purchased "party wings" which were already halved)
1 onion
1 rib celery
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
fresh thyme
5 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1 pound small red potatoes
4 carrots
fresh parsley


  1. Trim excess fat from the chicken and cut the thighs in half crosswise.
  2. Lightly season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper, arrange them on a baking sheet,  cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.
  3. Chop the bacon.
  4. In a Dutch oven on medium low heat, cook the bacon until browned and most of the fat has been rendered, 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. While the bacon and chicken wings cook, prepare the vegetables. Peel the onion and chop it fine, mince the celery rib, peel and press the garlic with a garlic press, mince fresh thyme to make 1 teaspoon of minced thyme.
  6. Use a slotted spoon to move the bacon from the Dutch oven to a medium bowl and set it aside.
  7. Add the chicken wings to the fat in the Dutch oven and increase the heat to medium.
  8. Brown the chicken wings on both sides, 10 to 12 minutes, then move them to the bowl with the bacon.
  9. Add onion,  celery,  garlic, anchovy paste, and thyme to the Dutch oven and cook with occasional stirring until a dark fond forms on the bottom, 2 to 4 minutes.
  10. Add 1 cup chicken broth, soy, and wine and increase heat to high.
  11. Heat the oven to 325° with a rack in the middle position.
  12. Cook with occasional stirring, scraping the fond from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid has boiled away and the vegetables start to sizzle.
  13. While the broth cooks, cut the unpeeled potatoes into quarters; peel the carrots and cut them into ½-inch pieces.
  14. Add the butter and when it has melted sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to combine.
  15. Slowly add the remaining 4 cups of broth and whisk until smooth.
  16. Add the chicken wings, bacon, potatoes, and carrots and bring to a simmer.
  17. Transfer the Dutch oven to the oven, uncovered.
  18. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
  19. Remove the pot from the oven and use a spoon and some gravy to scrape the brown bits from the side of the pot.
  20. Add the seasoned chicken thighs and, over high heat, bring the stew to a simmer.
  21. Return to the oven, uncovered, and cook until the thighs offer no resistance to a fork and the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.
  22. Mince the parsley making about 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley.
  23. Using two forks or a knife, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  24. Add up to 2 tablespoons of wine, season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with the parsley, and serve.
Trim the chicken thighs, cut in half, season lightly with salt and pepper, cover, and set aside.
Cook chopped bacon in Dutch oven.
While the bacon cooks, prepare anchovy paste, garlic, celery, onion, and thyme.
Remove cooked bacon and brown both sides of chicken wings.
Remove wings, add onion, celery, anchovy, garlic,and thyme, and cook until a dark fond forms.
Add broth, wine, and soy and, scraping the fond, cook until the liquid is almost all evaporated.
While the liquid reduces, prepare potatoes and carrots.
Add butter, when it has melted add flour and stir to combine.
Add remaining broth, vegetables, bacon, and wings and cook in 325° oven.
Scrape the fond from the sides of the pot, add the chicken thighs, and cook in the oven until done.
Cut up chicken, add chopped parsley and some wine, season with salt and pepper, and serve.