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I’ve Got (Candied) Crabs

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Right now the world is divided into who will and who won’t eat these. They’re Thai Candied Crab. They smell like the sea. Okay, let’s amend that. They smell like the garbage cans outside a seafood restaurant kitchen where the cats hang out. I don’t know what they taste like cuz I refused to eat them, as predicted by my friend Nancy. I love my friend Nancy for a. buying these to begin with, and b. popping one in her mouth. Nevermind that she had a moment just like Tom Hanks has at the buffet table in the movie “Big” if you know the scene, spitting the dang thing out as fast as it went in. She still rocks. My thirteen year old son, however, devoured one happily and said it “tasted like crap” but he’d eat it again if he had to. Nancy has since bet him twenty bucks that he can’t eat twenty of them, no water to wash them down. He took the bet. Would you?


Masher

Foodie Gift Par Excellence, Silver Palate’s Five Star Pecan Bar, and the Old Cookbook Blues

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Look at my Silver Palate Cookbook! Isn’t it amazing and hilarious? I love it. And I can’t part with it. Seriously. I go onto amazon.com thinking about finally buying a new one but I can’t bring myself to do it. I just love this old crazy pages falling out stained and loved to bits edition I bought around 1982.

I was a twenty-something painter then in my first post-college apartment in Manhattan with a kitchen the size of a broom closet. I fell into serious lust with the ginger cookies and carrot cake at the tiny, jewel-box-like Silver Palate shop in my neighborhood. They kept them in huge glass jars. As soon as this book came out I had to have it. It’s like the Velveteen Rabbit if you know the story. All its buttons loved off.

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Masher

Whisk Tree

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We call this the “whisk tree.” It’s real. Lombard Street, Philadelphia, Pa., July 17th, 3:30 p.m.

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Masher

Dining Room Art

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Nancy Gail Ring, oil on paper, copyright 2010

This is called “Holiness Passes By the Everyday World” and is another large study in the series I have been painting of my dining room. it’s about six feet high and four wide and the title comes from the text of Norman Bryson’s fascinating book Looking at the Overlooked: Four Essays on Still Life Painting. Enjoy the painting. Check out the book. Take the book to the beach with you like I did yesterday. Glorious day. Blackberries and chocolate in the cooler, and the boys rescuing big crabs by throwing them back into the waves . . .

see also: Dining Room Art Or What I Know So Far




Masher

Spinach Torta from Genoa…. plus a hundred years

Spinach Torta via Hoboken

4 pkgs frozen chopped spinach (10 oz each)
8 eggs (beaten)
1 cup grated Parmiggianno-Reggiano cheese
1 large 8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
salt and pepper to taste (parsley--or other fresh herbs such as marjoram are optional and always nice).

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Brush about 2 tablespoons olive oil on the bottom and half way up the sides of a 9x11 pan or Pyrex-type dish. 

3.  Begin with three mixing bowls:  large, medium and small.  In the largest bowl, defrost and drain spinach very well.  Expedited with heat or the microwave if you wish Place the cream cheese or (other fresh cheese) in the medium bowl.  Beat the eggs in the small bowl. 

4. Cream the cream cheese, using a hand-held electric mixer.  Add the beaten eggs, then the Parmigiano, salt, pepper and parsley. Mix well and pour half the mixture into your spinach. Evenly spread the spinach mixture into the oiled pan.  Cover the spinach with the remaining half of the liquid egg mixture. 

Bake at 350 degrees.  Depending on your oven it will be done between 35 and 50 minutes—whenever top is golden. 



I am lucky to know Mario Bosquez from the Martha Stewart Radio Channel on Sirius.  Mario is a food and wine enthusiast (and like me an animal lover), a wonderful radio host of the show Living Today, and all-around great guy.

He’s started a “weekend cooking challenge” on his facebook page, inviting people to all make the same recipe on a given weekend, then share comments and feedback.  Like Nancy’s “bake with me” events, these internet gatherings are an interesting way to defy the idea that we are all living in our atomized internet lives.  I am delighted that Mario chose my “Spinach Torta via Hoboken” for a challenge this weekend.  And to help, I’ve posted photos of every step.  Once you’ve got your cream cheese softened and your spinach cooked, this recipe will take about a half hour to assemble, then about 45 minutes to bake.  You’ll have a nice big pan of spinach pie for a simple lunch or supper.  Or you can cut it small and have it as an appetizer or side dish at a party.  It is not a fancy dish, but simple and homey.  It’s comfort food in my family.  But you can certainly add additional flavors as you wish.  And if you like a more pungent torta, you can replace a little of the parmigiano with peccorino. 

The word torta means cake.  But around Genoa, it also refers to the extremely popular institution of the vegetable pie.  There are infinite variations of torte--and you can be creative.  This recipe of my family’s has been Americanized with “filadelfia” (cream cheese) and frozen spinach.  But the spirit and taste are quite similar to what I’ve had there.  If you’d like to learn more about my quest for old Genoese recipes such as torta, I refer you to my book ”The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken.”

If you want to just make this torta, just follow the jump and see my step by step photos and instructions.  Then compare notes--if you wish--on Mario’s page.

Lucky me.  Son Number 2 (age 9) just came home from karate when I was making it. Ever enthusiastic, he offered to help.  And he’s a wonderful hand model, don’t you think?

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Masher

Kitchen Library — Jane Kenyon

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Sometimes only a poem can say adequately what needs to be said. Here is one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets. It’s about most of the things we blog about on jellypress: old recipes, modern life, threads connecting present and past, belief, daily ritual, the span of one woman’s life as map and measure of time, and walking on with one foot in the present doing what must be done today, the other in memory. Enjoy.

Church Fair
From Jane Kenyon: Collected Poems

Who knows what I might find
on tables under the maple trees —
perhaps a saucer in Aunt Lois’s china pattern
to replace the one I broke
the summer I was thirteen and visiting
for a week. Never in all these years
have I thought of it without
a warm surge of embarrassment.

I’ll go through my own closets and cupboards
to find things for the auction.
I’ll bake a peach pie for the food table,
and rolls for the supper.
Gramdma Kenyon’s recipe, which came down to me
along with her sturdy legs and brooding disposition.
“Mrs. Kenyon,” the doctor used to tell her,
“you are simply killing yourself with work.”
This she repeated often, with keen satisfaction.

She lived to a hundred and three,
surviving all her children.
including the one so sickly at birth
that she had to carry him everywhere on a pillow
for the first four months. Father
suffered from a weak chest — bronchitis,
pneumonias, and pluerisy — and early on
books and music became his joy.

Surely these clothes are from another life —
not my own. I’ll drop them off on the way
to town. I’m getting the peaches
today, so that they’ll be ripe by Sunday.

see also: Kitchen Library




Masher

Vintage Nutmeg Grater, Modern Microplane (and a recipe)

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It’s been a long time since the days of nutmeg graters like this one and leather-bound cookbooks.
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Recipes are now often glowing links in email inboxes, like the one I received today from Saveur Magazine for rum-spiked chicken with a hint of nutmeg.
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And though I love my old grater, I admit that I reached for my sleek modern microplane when it came time to grate the nutmeg for this recipe, which by the way is delicious, easy, and at our house, made a fast weekday dinner with bowtie pasta and roasted carrots. If you’d like to try it too, visit Bell’alimento.

see also: The Picayune Creole Cookbook




Masher

Whiskey Burned My Throat

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I am not one for the fire water.  But, a couple of weeks ago, in Florida, my dad produced a bottle of 1945 Schenley’s Canadian Whiskey, bottled in 1957 and hidden away for decades.  Recently, some friends had convinced him to finally open it. 

It had belonged to grandmother’s number-two husband, the Italian contractor who gave her furs and jewels and many luxuries, but left her with little.  He was a self-made millionaire who came from Naples alone at age 14.  He was the deal my grandmother made.  And he was also the intruder on my mother’s life at age 15.  My mother left for a while and lived with friends.

Through events I can barely explain, we wound up living upstairs from them for five years of my childhood. I loved being near my grandmother.  But there was no question he was the boss. 

Going down to their apartment was like visiting another country--filled with ceramic cherubs, marble, and ornate Italian things. 

But most fascinating was the basement, where the boss had a party room and a most amazing mahogany bar.  That bottle of Schenley’s

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Masher

Salt Cellar and Spoon

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Just a photo, that’s all.  Here is a salt cellar and mother of pearl spoon found in my mother’s cupboard in Florida. 


Masher

Soft Boiled Eggs

I went to Florida last week visit my mom who has Parkinson’s Disease and recently fell and broke a leg.  She is getting better and will recover.  But it was difficult. 

My friend Lou tells me that mother is always our connection to life.  And it’s true… I remember fearing her death when I was a child....  Well, the good part is that my sister Drea (who came with me) is a natural born comedian, and we had a lot of laughs, which I know cheered my mom.

I find Northern Florida to be such an odd place, with its palms and scrubby pine forests, its long flat empty vistas.  My parents live in a forty-year-old town where everyone is a newcomer.  All the buildings and houses look eerily alike. Yet the natural landscape is undeniably beautiful, with its vivid big sky and sun, its bright tropical flowers and lemon trees. 

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While we were there, I cooked a bit for my parents, and while I was rummaging through the cabinets and found these three dishes—one for each girl--from at least forty years ago.  We loved soft boiled eggs.  When I look into these bowls, I see my mom moving quickly on strong fast legs, from refrigerator to sink to stove, to table, where we girls sat waiting. 

Nancy recently wrote me that “recipes just mark the places in the story, but the story is the important piece.” I agree, because I came to food writing for the stories.  But I would also add that women have so often been silenced by men, that they have learned to tell their stories ingeniously, through silences, through ellipses, through anonymity and secrecy.  Recipes give us this cover, this safety in the code. 

Here’s Drea, with beautiful blue eyes.

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Masher

How to Freeze Cookie Dough in Logs — One Badass Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ingredients we need today for freezing One Badass Chocolate Chip cookies in logs:
4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 t. baking soda (you may use half this amount if you like a denser cookie)
1 t. salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) sweet unsalted butter, softened to room temperature or melted (either way works)
2 cups white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 T. vanilla extract
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or half white chocolate chips and half dark chocolate chips)



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Today we learn how to freeze cookie dough in logs. What’s this about? Click here.

We will be using my recipe for One Badass Chocolate Chip Cookie and if you click the highlighted words, One Badass Chocolate Chip Cookie in this sentence, you’ll see lots of photos of the finished, thick chewy cookies and how to bake them off.

What’s a Badass Cookie? Click here.

I’m going to give instructions for mixing by hand, but you can do this on an electric mixer fitted with a paddle too. The ingredients are listed in the box above.

First, take your chocolate chips, either all semi-sweet or half semi-sweet and half white chocolate mixed together, and place in a bowl. Set it aside.

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Masher

Monet’s Water Lilies

One day left if you want to learn some great cookie baking tips and how to freeze cookie dough in logs with Nancy. What’s this about? Click here.



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Water Lilies by Claude Monet, 1914 - 1926, oil on canvas

Monet’s Water Lilies are on view now at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan through April 12th. If you’ve never seen these paintings and you live anywhere near NYC, I urge you to do so. Once in a while I like to share something here that is not food but that means a lot to me. This is another of those things.

Judging from the reproductions of the paintings I had seen in books, in person I expected to see ephemeral-looking objects in pastel hues.

I didn’t. What I saw instead were

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Masher

Vintage Wire Egg Baskets

Four days left if you want to learn some great cookie baking tips and how to freeze cookie dough in logs with Nancy. What’s this about? Click here.



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I use a vintage wire egg basket for a centerpiece on my dining room table.

Egg baskets were invented to carry warm, freshly laid eggs safely from hen house to table. The open wire basket allows air to circulate so the eggs cool quickly, keeps them from rolling into each other and prevents cracking. I love the fanciful ones shaped like animals. They make great gifts, especially lined with

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Masher

How to Bake a Great Chocolate Layer Cake

Five days left if you want to learn some great cookie baking tips and how to freeze cookie dough in logs with Nancy. What’s this about? Click here.



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Fudgey Chocolate Layer Cake. Soon you will need one for someone’s birthday. Or for a potluck party. Or maybe just because. I got the recipe for mine from a friend of a friend. What really makes it work though is

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Masher

How to Freeze Cookie Dough in Logs

Our hearts go out to the earthquake victims in Chile. If you would like to help like I did by donating to Habitat for Humanity, click here.



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I’d like to share with you my method for freezing cookie dough in logs. It’s something I learned to do when I was a pastry chef and had to have a large cookie plate of assorted cookies available each evening. I continue this practice now in my home.

Having the dough in frozen logs ready to simply slice and bake is a huge time saver and means you can always have warm cookies from the oven in a pinch. I usually have several different doughs in the freezer. It’s pretty wonderful to open the freezer door and see all the logs of cookie dough in there, ready to be baked off on a moment’s notice.

Recently I ran out, and decided to post how to make and freeze the logs. I’ll feature one dough each week, on Saturdays starting next weekend, so that Jellypress readers can freeze them with me. This is not something hard to do. Just more fun to do it together, and I’ll throw in all my best cookie making tips with the bargain. So this is a freeze-with-me post (and maybe a bake-off-one-or-two-now with me post, since life is best enjoyed to its fullest each moment as the newspapers remind us daily) and a learn-great-cookie-baking-secrets post.

We’ll end up with at least five different doughs to choose from. If you’d like to join in, have the following ingredients ready for next Saturday, March 6:

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Jellypress is about Nancy and Laura having fun with what they love: old recipes, art, and ideas--as we find them in our modern lives.  We met...read more »

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Yes, all the artwork on Jellypress was done by Nancy. Go to the Jellypress Art page

The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and FamilyTo find out about Laura's search for a long lost family recipe, click [ What's a Jellypress?


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Our Books

A Thousand Years Over a Hot StoveA James Beard Award winning book that tells a history of American women through food, recipes, and remembrances. Recipes and illustrations from prehistory to the present day.
To learn more, click [here].


The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and FamilyLaura's memoir about a search for a recipe, happiness, and mythic Italy--with many unexpected adventures along the way.
To learn more, click [here].


Walking on WalnutsIn this culinary memoir, Nancy Ring combines funny and poignant stories of love and work with warm remembrances of a family that celebrates food with gusto and cherishes memories with passion...
To learn more, click [here].







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© 2007 Nancy Gail Ring. All fine art images appearing on jellypress.com are protected under United States Copyright Law. No art from this web site may be downloaded, frame-grabbed or printed without written consent.