Friday, December 27, 2013

Tomato Romanoff Soup

My favorite soup, when I was growing up, was Tomato with crackers crunched up and mixed in.  I loved the creamy tomato and the way the crackers soften just a tiny bit and sort of softly crunch on those first few bites....nothing better on a cold day...unless of course, a toasted cheese sandwich is added. What a heavenly lunch!

I still love tomato soup but one day I was served some that was just a bit fancier!  It was Tomato Romanoff Soup....I was immediately in love. The soup was served at a popular luncheon house in town that raises money for the local Child Guidance Guild, hence the name, Guild House.  I found the recipe in the Guild House Cookbook and enjoy it often.

I was curious about the name and what made regular tomato soup become Tomato Romanoff...well, it is all in the name...and the addition of a few ingredients.   I can only conjecture that this was one of the popular recipes that was served at Romanoff's in Beverly Hills.  The restaurant was opened in 1941 and quickly became the place for celebrities to go and be seen.

Michael Romanoff was born Hershel Geguzin in Lithuania, the son of a tailor.  Hershel Geguzin aka Harry F. Gerguson aka Michael Romanoff, a self-proclaimed Prince (Prince Michael Dimitri Alexandrovich Obolensky-Romanoff, nephew of Tsar Nicholas II)had grand ideas and was most anxious to make his way in the world...which he did, as a restaurateur, conman and actor.  Prince Romanoff was very popular on the Hollywood scene and sported his trademark spats, moustache, and walking stick as he made his way around town charming everyone, living in hotels and borrowing money from his wealthy pals!

Who is to say if this recipe is a Romanoff Restaurant original....but it was fun to do a little research and I know I enjoy this soup!

Tomato Romanoff Soup

Serves 4-6

2 (10-oz.) cans tomato soup
1 (10-oz.) can beef consomme
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup sherry
2 Tbsp green onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
Dash of celery salt

Mix soups, sour cream and sherry in saucepan until perfectly smooth.  Add green onions, chopped parsley and celery salt.  Heat to a simmer.


I am sharing today at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Take the Chill Off with a Cup of Glühwein!

Traveling in Europe during the fall can be quite a chilly adventure.  Leaving husbands at home last fall, my friend and I had a wonderful trip that took us from Prague to Paris!  On a chilly day in Prague we stopped for lunch and had to have some "hot wine" or Glühwein to warm us up!

Glühwein is quite popular and we saw advertised everywhere.  In Heidelberg, Germany it was advertised "to go"!

I have tried many recipes over the last year trying to recapture the wonderful aroma and flavor of my first cup of Glühwein.  Glühwein is a drink that can be made many ways and it is really a matter of taste.  I have made it using a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Merlot and a Zinfandel.  The Zinfandel seems to be the best choice for me...the deep fruity flavor is perfect combined with the other ingredients.

I used my friend, Cathy's (Wives with Knives) recipe and made just a few adjustments.

adapted from Wives with Knives

1 bottle Zinfandel
2 medium oranges, zested and juiced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
3 whole cloves
3-4 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, adjust to taste

Slowly hear the wine being careful to not bring it to a boil.  Remove the zest from the oranges and the lemon.  Add the citrus juices and zest to the wine along with the spices and sugar.  Simmer for five minutes and then let the mixture stand for an hour.

Strain the mixture and then reheat to serve.  Garnish the cup of Glühwein with a half slice of orange or a twist of lemon....and a cinnamon stick, just for fun!


This is certain to warm you to your toes!

I am sharing at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Monday, December 16, 2013

After an Evening of Shopping.....Beef Stew Hits the Spot

After a long day and evening of shopping, nothing hits the spot better than a bowl of Beef Stew!  I have always liked beef stew but I had never really searched around for a good recipe.  I made stew like I had growing really wasn't that great so I rarely made it.

I had a package of beef that had been cut for stir fry so with a little more cutting, it was in small cubes that would be perfect for beef stew.  Stew meat is never quite tender enough for me so I usually cut up a sirloin or get the stir fry cut.

This recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated cookbook, Cover and Bake.   I really liked being able to do a little work on the stove top and then popping it in the oven.  We were really pleased with the results.  I had to make a few adjustments to match what was in the pantry but it didn't effect the results.  I didn't have two red potatoes.  I only had a russet potato and a sweet potato so that is what I used.

Beef Stew

3 pounds chuck-eye roast, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes (I used about 1 1/2 pounds of stir fry strips cut into cubes.)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper (I used 1/2 tsp Trader Joe's South African SMOKE Seasoning Blend.)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped - about 2 cups
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I used chicken stock.)
1 cup beef stock (The recipe didn't call for this...I added it as I wanted more liquid.)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 medium potato, diced
1 medium sweet potato, diced
2 large carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup string beans

Heat the oven to 300° F.  Place the beef cubes in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat.  Heat 2 Tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat in a large non-reactive kettle.  Add the beef in two separate batches.  Brown the meat on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch, adding remaining oil as needed.  Remove meat and set aside.

Add onions to the kettle; saute until almost softened, 4 to 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium and add garlic; continue to saute about 30 seconds longer.  Stir in the flour; cook until lightly colored, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add wine, scraping up any browned bits that may have stuck to kettle.  Add stock, bay leaves, and thyme; bring to a simmer.  Add the meat; return to a simmer.  Cover and place in the oven.  Simmer for 1 hour.

Remove the kettle from the oven, add the potatoes, carrots, and green beans.  Cover and return to the oven.  Simmer until meat is just tender, about 1 hour.  Test vegetables for doneness.   Remove stew from oven.

(Can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated up to 3 days.)

Serve with crusty bread.

Note:  I suggest checking the amount of liquid in the pot.  You may prefer more broth in your stew.  If so, I would consider increasing the flour and liquid by one half.  ...or add some beef stock, as I did.


This was delicious the night we served it and even more so the next day.  Yummy!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes

I rarely make pancakes.  I remember the first time that I made them.  It was on cooking day in my junior high home economics class.  I was excited as this was something that I would know how to cook for my parents for Saturday was a total disaster.  We were having the district Superintendent visit our classroom and he was going to eat pancakes with my cooking station....I repeat, total disaster. Sadly, the pancakes were burned on the outside and raw on the inside.  How embarrassing is that?

From that day forward I knew that I could not make pancakes and the few times that I did make an effort, I had a similar being paranoid about it, I crossed them off of my list.  That is until this year...I kept seeing and reading about pumpkin pancakes.  That said I decided that I was now should be grown up enough to make a pancake that wasn't burned and raw!

And, I did!

Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes

Yield:  8-10 pancakes

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 cup milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat griddle or 10-inch skillet to medium heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients:  flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves, set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients:  milk, egg, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk gently until combined.  Set aside for five minutes.

Once the griddle or skillet comes to temperature, brush vegetable oil on the surface.  Wipe off any excess with a paper towel.

Ladle 1/3 cup of the batter onto the griddle for each pancake.  Do not crowd the pancakes.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the edges are set and the bubbles around the edges are open and set.  Flip and cook on the second side for an additional two minutes or until golden brown.  Serve immediately.

(While cooking the pancakes it may be necessary to adjust the heat.)

Leftover pancakes can be frozen for up to one month.


The pancakes were served with a choice of maple syrup or Pumpkin Pecan Butter.  Either way was delicious!

What prompted me to brush the paranoia aside and try to make pancakes, was The Secret Recipe Club.
I was assigned Danielle's blog, Mostly Food and Crafts.  As I perused the breakfast recipes on her blog I spied the Spiced Pumpkin Pans.  Surely I could make them if her daughter could!  I was ready for breakfast...I was ready for pumpkin...I was ready for...pancakes...I was inspired...and I am very happy that I was.

I did make some adjustments to the recipe as I didn't have any pumpkin spice in the pantry and I only wanted to make a small batch.  My daughters who always told me that their grandmother's pancakes were the best...certainly would not say that about these...move over grandma.  You have competition.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My New Snowflake Shortbread Pan and Its Maiden Voyage!

I have been really slow about getting into the kitchen for Christmas baking.  I had thought that just maybe I wouldn't do any this year....I have a sweet tooth and figured if it wasn't in the house I wouldn't eat it.  Then I decided that I have will power!  Limit of one!

I saw that Monique at La Table de Nana, had tried a new shortbread pan.  Her cookies were so cute.... Then I saw that Bonnie at From A Writer's Kitchen, had also tried out the pan....and she too had lovely shortbreads!  So, even though I did not have the space or the need, one came to live at my house.  (I had the pan within 24 hours!  Happy me!)

Both ladies said that they used the recipe that came with the, that is what I did...

Nordic Ware

3/4 cup butter at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste.)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat the oven to 325° F.  Grease the pan lightly.

Cream butter until light and fluffy.  Beat in the confectioners' sugar, then the vanilla.  Finally, work in the flour.  Knead the dough on an unfloured board until smooth.  After kneading, flatten the dough and place in the pan.  Firmly press the dough into the pan, so that it comes up below the rope detail.  Prick all of the surface with a fork.  (This keeps the dough from bubbling up.)

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned.  (Mine was lightly brown and moving from the sides at 27 minutes.)  Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes.

Loosen the edges with a plastic knife and invert onto a cutting board.  Cut into serving pieces while warm.


The shortbreads were light and delicious.  It was a successful maiden voyage.   I have butter on the counter so that I can make some more.  Thank you ladies for sharing your successes!

I am sharing today at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Browned Cauliflower with Anchovies, Olives and Capers

I am always looking for that special vegetable dish around the holidays.  Something a little different and distinctive.  I think I found it!  Fine Cooking featured this recipe just before Thanksgiving and I had to give it a test run!   You probably recall that I most of my life I have had an aversion to anchovies....I think it started with my dad always having anchovies on our pizza.  That is truly a good way to RUIN a pizza!

I overcame the aversion when I made Shrimp and Pasta Puttanesca.  I realized that the anchovies just add an intriguing layer of flavor.  The same happened with this lovely cauliflower was delicious with layers of flavor.

Browned Cauliflower 
with Anchovies, Olives and Capers

1 medium-small head cauliflower, about 2 pounds
1 large clove garlic, peeled
Pinch of Kosher salt or sea salt
6 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained (I used four fillets.)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
15 black olives (such as Kalamata) pitted and roughly chopped
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, more to taste
2 tsp capers, roughly chopped (I left them whole.)
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
Large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes or 1/8 tsp Aleppo pepper

Prepare the cauliflower by cutting individual florets.  Cut the large florets into quarters, medium into halves, leaving the small florets whole.

Make a paste by mincing the garlic, salt and anchovies together.  (Mash with the flat side of a knife until they become a paste.   Or use a mortar.)  Scrape the mixture into a large shallow bowl.  Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the olives, lemon juice, capers, lemon zest and the red pepper flakes. Stir well.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, add half the cauliflower pieces in a single layer, flat side down.  Cook the cauliflower until well browned on the bottom, 2-4 minutes, and then transfer to a plate.  Add the remaining one tablespoon of oil to the pan and repeat with the remaining cauliflower, but do not transfer from the skillet.  Return the first batch of cauliflower to the pan, turn the heat down to low and carefully add 2/3 cup water.  Cover and let steam until the stems are just tender, 6-8 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked cauliflower to the bowl with the anchovy mixture.  Add one tablespoon of the cooking liquid.  Let sit 1 minute to warm and loosen the mixture, and then gently to coat the cauliflower and evenly distribute the olives and capers.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


We decided that this was a lovely dish and excellent vegetable for a special meal!