Friday, November 26, 2010

Mulligatawny Soup

"Literally meaning pepper water. Mulligatawny Soup is an Anglo-Indian invention. Created by servants for the English Raj who demanded a soup course from a cuisine that had never produced one."
By: Michelle Chen , If you click on the title above you will reach all recipes version of this soup

there are hundreds of recipes for this “soup”
I first had it in San Francisco at a restaurant
on 9th near Market Street
a curried chicken soup with apples and raisins
I used to make it with
whipping cream
but I have learned to use coconut milk instead
made some this morning
took about 30 minutes
it was a perfect lunch for
people working outside

sauté a diced sweet onion
and a diced green apple
(you don’t have to peel it)
in a couple of tablespoons of butter
add curry powder to taste
this depends on the curry powder
you have on hand
about a tablespoon or three
add a heaping tablespoon of flour
and mix into the apples and onion
to incorporate
slowly add a quart of chicken broth
either purchased or home brew
stirring to keep flour from becoming lumpy
add two sliced carrots
a diced chicken breast
or the meat from your home made broth
bring to a boil
when chicken is no longer pink
add a can of coconut milk
serve with raisins and shredded coconut

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Hacking Julia part II

(see previous post, referencing Le Suceès from Julia Child)

even when you have a recipe
that gives you exact measurements
there will be inconsistencies
as the ingredients will never be
exactly the same

the meringue layers

when grinding nuts in a blender
to make the nut flour
one has to be aware of the oil content
the praline pecans I used
this time
13 0z Trader Joe's
were quite oily
I compensated by adding more
confectioner’s sugar
to prevent clumping

to get the most volume
from your egg whites
they should be room temperature
beat 6 egg whites with
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
a pinch of salt
when whites form stiff peaks
beat in ½ cup fine granulated sugar
the carefully fold in the nut mixture
spoon out on to pans covered in
baking parchment
draw circles or other shapes
on one side of the paper
turn paper over
use this as a guide
to shape the meringue layers
three to five layers
bake in a 250 degree oven
for about 40 minutes
leave in the oven until the next day

pumpkin butter cream

there are two ways to make a butter cream
one is to cream butter and confectioner’s sugar
together and add flavoring
in this case pumpkin
with pumpkin pie spices
if you have the 6 egg yolks
left over from the meringue
you can make a pumpkin custard
and add butter
and confectioner’s sugar
until you have a mixture that is stiff enough
to hold its shape
also add vanilla and a bit of brandy
this version needs to be slightly chilled
to hold its shape

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hacking Julia

I grew up BJ
before Julia Child
thought all lettuce was iceberg
and vegetables grew in cans
my Mother was an
adventuresome cook
with a limited pallet
I caught the adventure part
with expanded horizons
AC (after college)
I started buying interesting cook books
on sale
I paid fill price for Julia’s books
and read them like romance novels
one of my favorite recipes of hers
is Le Suceès
hazel nut flour meringue layers
separated by coffee butter cream
the whole thing takes
six eggs and three sticks of butter
welcome to cholesterol heaven

I’ve messed with this recipe
many times
but my favorite version
is to use ground praline pecans
for my nut flour
and a pumpkin butter cream for the filling
make a cage of burnt sugar for the top

I should have a photo of this AT
(after Thanksgiving)

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thanksgiving Turkey Cake

OMG! this is amazingly wonderful is cooking site full of recipes
and ideas
they even have a "hack" button
so you can create your version of their creations

what you see is two layers of turkey meatloaf
separated by a layer of dressing
held in place
by mashed potatoes
that's mashed sweet potatoes
and mini marshmallows on top
as they say
slice and serve with gravy

I'm probably not going to have an occasion
where I can make my own version and take a photo
Do let me know what happens if you try this

(C) 2010 Sandy Vrooman

posted with permission from:

If you click on the title of this post, it will take you to this page.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Butternut Squash Ravioli in Sage Brown Butter

another recipe inspired by La Pastaia in San Jose, CA

there are a lot of cook-it-yourself packages
of squash ravioli now available
in my local markets
I bet La Pastaia did their own raviolis
but you can take a shortcut
and use what is available
the flavor of the squash is delicate
and needs a light hand with saucing

while the ravioli of your choice
is cooking according to the package directions
start slowly and carefully browning the butter
at the same time
dry out and crisp fresh sage leaves in the butter
when ravioli is done
drain and add to butter mix
add a few splashes of white wine.

Serve and enjoy

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

La Pastaia
2323 West Santa Clara St.
San Jose, CA 95113
Chef Forrest Gingold

Corn Chowder

back in the dark ages
attended an elementary school
that was somewhat enlightened
starting in sixth grade
we began having segregated
gym class
boys and girls not allowed
to see each other
begin to jiggle
BUT the alternate group
not in gym
had home economics
and wood shop
boys and girls both
learned to cook
and saw
I learned to make corn chowder
with bacon and canned corn
the recipe stuck with me
and here it is with
a few embellishments

1 - 8 oz can of corn
about 3 oz bacon cut in ¼ inch strips
half a sweet onion or to taste
2 very large tbsp of flour
a bit of milk
cooked potatoes, if you desire

without the potatoes
it serves two generous portions

sauté bacon until almost crisp
add diced onion
and cook until onion is transparent
add the flour
add the juices from the can of corn
and stir until thickened
add enough milk to thin slightly
add corn, cook until bubbly
add more milk of desired
add cooked diced potatoes, if desired
salt depends on the saltiness of the bacon used
I add 3-4 grinds of
Trader Joe’s Every Day Seasoning
and /or Morton’s Nature’s Seasons

(C) 2010 Sandy Vroomman

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cherry Mushroom Farro Risotto

(yeah, another lumpy bowl of food photo)

ever had one of those times when a strange food calls you
then you get it home and the adventures begin
whatever do I do with this stuff?
this happened to me recently at Costco
I bumped into a bag of Farro Perlato
Triticum Dicoccum or Emmer Wheat
a really old type of wheat that has been replaced
with the modern wheat we all know
the wheat in common usage has higher yields
than the heritage varieties

Farro Perlato, a peasant food is making a comeback
in gourmet restaurants all over Europe
the current name in use is from the Italian

after the third time I see this stuff, I buy a 3 lb bag
cooking for myself, whatever am I going to with this?
I remember going to a staged Medieval dinner
being served a barley risotto
with dried cherries and mushrooms
and I began to compose a dish

6 oz Crimini mushrooms
chopped, sautéed in olive oil, set aside
3 Shallots, chopped
about a cup of Farro
sauté in olive oil until shallots are wilted
about ½ cup White wine,
a nice fruity Spanish imported Viura
Low Sodium chicken Broth as needed
add and incorporate the wine first
then a ¼ cup at a time add broth
When Farro is tender add
¼ cup Dried Bing Cherries, chopped
Grated Parmesan Cheese

I kinda cheat on risotto making
instead of constantly stirring and adding liquids
add some liquid, cover and simmer
mix and repeat until grain is at your desired consistency
Farro has a slightly nutty flavor
I did have help eating this and there are no leftovers

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Friday, October 22, 2010

Jook or Congee, a Rice Porridge

one of the many special things
about the San Francisco Bay Area
is the diversity of cultures close by
last week I went to Little Viet Nam
in San Jose, California
we went into a little bakery for lunch
where they had packages of
rice wrappings stuffed with
who knows what, but it all tastes good
I asked if they had shredded pork
and there it was on the counter
been looking for this ingredient
for about five years - not with any diligence
when I flew to Bali on Eva Air
I had Jook for the first time it was so good!
the Vietnamese woman next to me
explained what I was eating
told me those delicious little puff balls
were indeed shredded pork
now I had to make Jook or Congee
every recipe on line was different
what they had in common was
start with a cup of rice and an awful lot of water
lot of recipes called for making a stock first,
either turkey or chicken
my version uses prepared
low sodium chicken stock 1 ½ quarts
one cup of sushi rice
about two inches of fresh ginger
and half of a sweet onion
cooked for two hours or
until desired thickness is reached
serve topped with sliced scallions
and shredded pork
I fed it to my bonsai instructor
he said I'd done it right

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman


listening in amazement
to a chef extol the virtues of cooking pasta
as if it was rice and one was making risotto
and thinking “my Mother did that”
only to us it was not a fancy dish
but one of her standard quick dinners
my Mother who worked inside
and outside the house
did not appreciate us asking
“what’s for dinner?”
her curt reply was “glop”
there are many folks who say they make
a similar dish
I start with ground beef
a much better grade than the one Mom used
chopped onions, I prefer the sweet ones
fresh mushrooms, like crimini
shredded carrots
noodles, any kind of flat ones will do
a beef bouillon cube
Worcestershire sauce to taste
A-1 steak sauce to taste
this batch, shown above, had several grinds
of Trader Joe’s Every Day Seasoning
the carrots and mushrooms are optional
sauté ground beef and onions
in a little oil to start
here is where you would
add the mushrooms, if you have them
add noodles and continue cooking until
noodles are coated with the meat juices
add carrots if desired
add seasonings, including bottled sauces
and beef bullion
pour in a cup of water and cover
let cook for 5 minutes
remove cover, check liquid level
add another cup of water
cook covered for 5 more minutes
remove lid and continue cooking
while stirring until all liquid is gone
and noodles are cooked to
your desired consistency

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Monday, October 11, 2010

Crepes and Comets, Oh My!

went trekking off on a comet chase
that was headed for Mono Hot Springs
on the east side of the Sierras
but weather prevented that choice
ended up in the Big Sur Mountains instead
never did see the comet
but met a class act professor of Astronomy
and Gastronomy
imagine a class where the professor makes
you a breakfast of French Crepes with
your choice of fresh fruit fillings

Richard Nolthenius (right) was not about to share his recipe, but I watched with a bit of disbelief as he mixed everything right there with a hand beater and ate one of the best crepes ever

he used:
Wesson oil
milk (I’m guessing at this, didn’t see it go in)
whole wheat pastry flour
and maple syrup

I always mix my batter the night before
to assure a creamy consistency
I use
either whipping cream, or half and half
white pastry flour
a couple of teaspoons of powdered sugar adds
if you are planning a sweet filling

Rick’s offering of do it yourself fillings included:
mixed chopped fruit
strawberry preserves (more on this later)
lemon curd
whipped cream
(whipped by driving all day in a rocking car)
and chocolate chips

Our class room

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

You Take What You Have

the root vegetables in the last photo
were destined to become another broth
but the freezer still had some of the last batch
did I make more to put into cold storage
perhaps for the rest of my life
or should I do something else
like a vegetable soup that used broth from the freezer?

starting in my usual manner
good virgin olive oil
a sweet onion and some garlic
I started composing a soup sonata
the rosemary bush outside
released a fragrance last time I passed that way
picked some of that
while the chopped onion and minced garlic
were becoming translucent in the heated olive oil
the vegetables were cut up and soon joined the onions
parsnip, rutabaga, turnip, golden potatoes, yellow beets or whatever you have
the fresh leaves off a short branch of rosemary went into the pan
then the prepared broth
and some seasoned salts
I use a variety,
Morton Nature's Seasons
Trader Joe's Everyday Seasoning

after 20 minutes of simmering
half of the vegetables were pureed in the blender
and went back into the pot
with about ¼ cup of sour cream
I adjusted the seasonings to taste

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sandy’s Vegetable Stock

as the weather gets cooler
we begin to think of hot and hardy soups
I prefer to make my own stocks
to control the amount of added sodium
in making a vegetable stock
one needs to collect as many different
root vegetables
carrots, rutabaga, turnips, parsnips, onions,
celery root, yellow beets, come to mind
celery or leeks are a plus
to this I add an assortment of whole spices
like cloves, coriander, celery, and mustard seeds
bay leaves all spice, whole black pepper
I try to get some celery flavor in the stock,
but don’t usually use more than one source at a time
simmer all of this in enough water to cover
for about 8 hours
cool and strain
press veggies to get as much liquid out as possible
this does not give you a clear broth, but it is healthier
toss veggies, the good parts are in the stock

use this stock to make a creamy squash soup
with a hint of hot peppers
bake and puree squash in a blender with the broth
add cayenne to taste and a bit of cream, sweet or sour
curried carrots are another option

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Breakfast Burritos

one of my favorite tenants was Frank
he was always helpful
and kept his area from intruding on mine
we shared the kitchen
he taught me how to make breakfast burritos
the main ingredient in most of his cooking
was Pace Picante Sauce
while experimenting
I came across a corn relish/salsa at Trader Joe’s
and began using that in scrambled eggs
I’ve also used things like peach salsa
for some reason my cast iron griddle
never gets put away
it lives on the stove
(range? Home on the range?)
if you heat up a cast iron griddle
put your dampened tortillas on it
turn it off and put a lid over all
by the time you scramble your eggs
the tortillas are warm and flexible
I use about 2 tablespoons of salsa
for 2 eggs
2 eggs per tortilla
really easy and tasty

©2010 Sandy Vrooman

Monday, September 27, 2010

Middle Eastern Pickled Vegetables

true confessions time
I used to be a professional belly dancer
this happened because I went to some
Greek Restaurants back in Chicago
fell in love with the food
the music
and the dancer’s costumes
picking out recipes to make
from my extensive cook book collection
I became a fairly good middle eastern cook
the dance lessons were
part of my post partum recovery exercises
one thing led to another,
I finally had the costumes
and a job
my son grew up on middle eastern music
lying there in his bassinet while Mom slimmed down
when his school needed fund raising events
I threw “Time Travel to Tut’s Table at Thebes”
with a course of food and a course of entertainment
I went to visit Naji Baba to get some recipes
this pickle recipe is one of those
after tasting the pickles at his place
I went home without washing my hands
and mixed up the brine, tasting up and back
between my dirty fingers and the new mix
until I had a match
to the best of my knowledge and tongue memory
this is what they were:
half apple cider vinegar, half lemon juice
thinned with an equal amount of water
for a pint of vinegar and a pint of lemon juice
add about 1/8 cup of salt
bay leaves and dill weed to taste
about 2 medium heads of garlic
the vegetables include:
red onions
and perhaps beets, (peeled and cut up)
peel the turnips and cut into bite sized chunks
poach a broken head of cauliflower
and a head of cabbage cut into wedges
until tender
add thickly sliced red onion
mix all in brine
wait 2 to 3 days
taste and make adjustments

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Mujedara, a Mess of Pottage

in Genesis, Esau sells his birthright
for a mess of pottage
it is thought that a stew of lentils
and rice or barley is the same dish
can it be so after thousands of years
mujedara is served in almost all
middle eastern countries
in one form or another
there are many spellings of the name
it is a side dish or a main dish
most of today’s recipes on the web
use a mix of rice and lentils
I’m making the assumption
that rice was not known
to those who made the first pottage
I’m using a mix of lentils and barley
and caramelized onions
cooked in the same manner
one makes a pilaf
using a flavored bouillon
like vegetable or chicken
in a quantity of good virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 medium sized sweet onion
let them cook until translucent and golden brown
then add:
½ cup pearl barley
½ lentils
toast lentils and barley in the frying pan
mixing frequently
2 cups of water and bouillon (if using)
cover and cook about 25 minutes
a pinch of sumac if desired
this astringent spice adds to and enhances
all the flavors
may be serves with yogurt

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Moon Cakes

today is the fifteenth day
in the eighth month
on the Chinese calendar
a time to celebrate
harvest moon
when the moon is most large and beautiful
it is a family celebration
that includes moon watching
in China and other Asian countries
there is a lady on the moon
the story of Chang O is tragic
and mostly forgotten*
on this joyous occasion
this was brought into focus
during a drive by lunch
at Hong Kong Chinese Bakery
when I saw more than half
the display case filled
with various moon cakes**
a pastry that is mostly filling
usually red bean
if you can locate and
eat them tonight
you will have good luck
for the coming year

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman


I have not figured out how to make the links work in this format.
Sorry, you will have to cut and paste

Hong Kong Bakery
210 Castro St
Mountain View, CA 94041-1204
(650) 969-3153

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Yom Kippur Challah

I was invited to a break fast, the feasting that is held the evening of Yom Kippur. This meal marks the end of the Day of Atonement, a solemn observation spent in prayer and fasting. I felt I should bring something appropriate. I decided on Challah, a rich egg bread and traditional Sabbath food. In my usual cloud of fog, I forgot the eggs, but any bread fresh from the oven is a real treat. I took the loaf over just as it finished baking. I have requests for the recipe. So I had to forsake my usual pinch of this, dash of that cooking and re-make the Challah by measuring.

For two large loaves take:
2 cakes yeast
1 ¾ cups of warm water
½ tablespoon of salt
¼ to ½ cup honey, dark and rich
¼ cup of olive oil, good virgin kind
pinch of saffron
Let this mixture sit until the yeast becomes foamy
If you are making egg Challah
Add 4 eggs and mix well
Omit for water Challah
I do this in a mixer with a dough hook
But start with my regular beaters
Adding 7 cups of sifted flour or more as needed (can’t be exact here)
One cup at a time, using regular beaters until the dough begins to get too thick
Then switch to a dough hook
Mix for about 5 minutes per cup
This saves a lot of kneading
Place on floured board and Knead until satin smooth
This step creates a mesh of linked gluten molecules that gives bread is shape
Return dough to bowl, coat lightly with olive oil and cover with a damp towel
Let rise until doubled in bulk
Punch down and cut into six equal-ish pieces
Form each piece into a log with a satin finish
This means the dough should be smooth without any breaks or folds
Let rest for about 5 minutes
Roll and stretch logs
Let rise again until doubled in bulk
Brush with egg for a glossy finish, sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds if desired
Bake for 45 min to an hour in a 350 degree oven
Bread is done when you knock on it and it sounds hollow

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Properly Improper Tea

Tea was brought to Great Britain by Catherine of Bragança from Portugal when she married Charles II in 1661. The custom evolved over the centuries into a light repast between three and five in the afternoon, a slight meal to tide one until a late dinner. As customs continue to evolve, tea became an intimate gathering, more for socializing rather than sustinance. Servants were banned from the room to encourage conversations that would not be repeated through staff. Tea became important enough that how to manuals were written, even one by Emily Post.

An evening meal for laborers was served between five and six in the evening. It was called high tea* or a meat tea. There is a rumor that high tea meant they didn’t have time to sit and therefore took tea on high.

These days a tea can be many things. High tea has been assumed to be more special that just tea, especially in the US. Also it is served any old time you feel like it.

Today I went to a Mad Hatter Tea Party put on by the Greater Bay Area Costumer’s Guild. It was held in a park, out of doors and had the required white bread crust trimmed sandwiches cut into quarters. There were the customary cucumber sandwiches, a fish sandwich and egg salad, scones, sweets and savories. There were some delightful cupcakes, as good tasting as their looks. Kudos to Phil and Kathe Gust who made most of the food. We did have the required parlor games, a bit of Alice trivia, a caucus race, and some poetry reading. Croquet was set up with flamingo mallets.

We all felt delightfully decadent, true to our costumes in an attitude of playful fun.

(C) 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Phil added this quote this am:
"There is no use trying," said Alice; "one can't believe impossible
things." "I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the Queen.
"When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why,
sometimes, I've believed as many as six impossible things before
breakfast!" -- Lewis Carroll.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tart from Bill in Texas

Perhaps a photo at a later date...

It’s taken some time,
but I have finally come to the conclusion that I am simply not very skilled
at tart dough.

Shrunk too much,
Tore and crumbled,
Got tattered,
Pasted together in scraps
Big diet in the oven as well.

I’ve tried everything–
pricking the dough
weighting the dough
freezing the dough
sacrificing countless boxes of butter and hours of my life to the dough
closing my eyes in a brief prayer before checking on their baking status
but still,
they fight me every time.

I decided it time to,
once and for all,
stop fighting the tart dough timeline.
Take it slow,
stop lopping corners off the chilling and re-chilling time,
following a recipe from a respected tart-maker to the exact letter.

This caramel, cranberry and almond tart from
Maury Rubin at the City Bakery,
is pure holiday decadence.
If you’re bored of standard Thanksgiving and Christmas desserts,
or you just want to show off a new instant classic,
you have to make it this winter.

The caramel is to die for and
plays off the tart/sour cranberries and
nestles against the almonds

But you’re on your own with the crust.

Cranberry, Caramel and Almond Tart
Adapted Maury Rubin, City Bakery

Yields: 1 9-inch tart or 12 4-inch tartlets

13 tablespoons (1 stick plus 5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 tablespoon heavy cream

1. Let the butter sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until malleable.

2. Place the powdered sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer.
Add the pieces of butter and toss to coat.
Using a paddle attachment with a standing mixer,
combine the sugar and butter at medium speed,
until the sugar is no longer visible.

3. Add the egg yolk and combine until no longer visible.

4. Scrape down the butter off the sides of the bowl.
Add half of the flour,
then begin mixing again until the dough is crumbly.
Add the remaining flour and
then the cream and
mix until the dough forms a sticky mass.

5. Flatten the dough into a thick pancake,
wrap it in plastic and
refrigerate at least 2 hours
before preparing to roll out the dough.

6. Lightly butter a 9-inch pastry ring (or fluted tart pan) and
place it on a baking sheet lined
with parchment paper or
a nonstick Silpat pad.

7. Once the dough has thoroughly chilled,
cut it in half,
then cut each piece in half lengthwise.
Rotate the dough 90 degrees and
until you have 16 equal pieces.

IMPORTANT: Work quickly with the dough so that it remains chilled.
Sprinkle your work surface with a thin layer of flour.
Knead the pieces of dough together
until it forms one new mass and
shape it into a flattened ball.

Flour a rolling pin and
sprinkle flour again on the work surface underneath the dough.
Roll out the dough into a circle one-eighth-inch thick.

8. To easily transfer the dough into the ring or tart pan,
fold it in half gently,
then in quarters.
Move the folded dough to the tart ring or pan,
with the point of the dough in the center,
then unfold it,
gently patting the dough into the bottom and
up the sides of the ring.
Trim the edges so that they are flush with the top of the ring.
Dock the dough with a pastry docker or
prick the dough all over with a fork.

9. Put the baking sheet and pastry ring into the freezer for 1 hour.

10. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the baking sheet and ring in the oven and
bake 20 to 25 minutes or
until the dough is lightly browned.
Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before filling.

Filling and assembly

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into eight pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cup frozen cranberries
2 cups unblanched sliced almonds

1. Keep (or preheat) the oven to 350 degrees.
Measure the cream and butter into a saucepan and
heat it over low heat.
When the butter has melted completely,
remove from heat.

2. To make the caramel,
spread the sugar evenly in a perfectly dry, deep 10-inch skillet and
place it over medium-low heat.

3. The sugar should turn straw-colored,
then gold and
then a nutty-brown caramel after about 10 minutes.
If the sugar cooks unevenly,
gently tilt or swirl the pan to evenly distribute the sugar.
Remove from heat and
slowly whisk the cream and butter into the sugar,
which can splatter as the cream is added (long sleeves are a good
If the caramel seizes,
return it to the heat and
continue to stir until it is smooth and creamy.
Strain the caramel into a bowl and cool it for 30 minutes.

4. Stir the frozen cranberries and the almonds
into the caramel and
mix until all the fruit and nuts are coated.
Spoon the filling into the partially baked tart dough mounding toward the

5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes,
until the juices and the caramel are bubbling slowly around the edges.
Remove from the oven and
let stand for 1 hour,
then gently lift the tart ring off the pastry.

6. Carefully transfer the tart to a serving platter.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Almond Pear Tart

had a couple of hours between activities
and decided I wanted to make a tart
having a short crust in the freezer
(doesn’t everyone?)
some ripe Bartlett pears
and almond nut butter
I set out to see if I could fake
a French tart
mixed three quarters of a cup of nut butter
with an equal amount of sugar
and added an egg
a dash of booze, in this case rum
no need for butter as the almond paste
already had oil
Bartlett pears are not really good for cooking
you can’t poach them, they fall apart
Comice or Anjou pears can be poached
adding a delicate flavor for the pears
and creating the glaze one sees on tarts
I carefully sliced and arranged my raw pears
over the almond filling I had created
baked for about 50 minutes
one can glaze a hot fruit tart with jelly or jam
being fresh out of apple jelly
I melted down some ginger chutney
and brushed it over the tart
I’m thinking of peanut butter and apples
maybe two eggs in the nut layer
to make it lighter

©2010 Sandy Vrooman

Short Crust for Tarts

where to start on this one
I guess by talking about gluten
this is the stuff most prevalent in wheat
your outcome depends
on how you treat the dough
when you knead dough
you create long chain molecules
of gluten, most desirable
when making bread
but would make a pie crust or cookie
with a tough texture
to maintain flakeyness
you need a very light hand
short crust or any crust
involves quick breaking down
of solid lumps of shortening
shortening is “cut” into the flour mix
I do this by hand either
with two knives, one in each hand
running the knives across each other
there is also a pastry cutting tool
and food processors
sort crust is made with butter
flour and some powered sugar
after the cutting results in
a mealy like texture, mix in one egg
(or if you are a French chef, egg yolk)
there are many recipes on the net
if the butter is really soft
chill the dough before using
pat, do not roll into a tart pan
for fruit tarts, prebake about 15 min
for quiche, this is not necessary

©2010 Sandy Vrooman

Saturday, September 4, 2010


sweet and sour savory
those things they give you
to munch on while waiting
for your Japanese food
all of them some form of pickle
my fav is the thinly sliced cukes
in a sweetened rice wine vinegar
with a few drops of sesame oil
and some pickled ginger slices
using the thinnest slicer
on your food processor
slice up English or small Japanese
salt them and let them sit
for about ten minutes
rinse and drain
sprinkle with the vinegar
add the sesame oil
and finely sliced pickled ginger
stir and serve
if the seeds in the cucumbers
are large, then the cukes
should be seeded
use only the flesh and not the seeds
if you happen to be Scandinavian
you would use apple cider vinegar
with a bit of sugar and
thinly sliced onions

©2010 Sandy Vrooman


what the bacon and onions look like when ready

something that started out
as Grandmother’s onion tart
simple yet elegant
has become a delicacy
served in the best restaurants
there are many variations
the one I just made
has a short crust
slightly sweet and full of butter
it is patted into the pan
being too soft to roll
on the bottom of this shell
are sweet onions
delicately simmered with
apple smoked bacon
until the onions begin to caramelize
add about a cup of coarsely grated
Irish white cheddar
make a custard of four eggs
about half a cup of milk
and a pinch of nutmeg
bake at 350 degrees
about 40 minutes or until done
good hot or cold

©2010 Sandy Vrooman

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lithuanian Delicacies

this phrase is an oxymoron
I sit here stuffed after eating
needing to make the food
for the photographs
there is nothing light about
Lithuanian cooking

both Grandmas were Lithuanian
one of them a documented Jewess
the other undocumented
but who kept a weird sort of kosher
she would only eat chicken
or lamb from the shoulder
my Mother’s rebellion was to
use pork as much as possible

I don’t know if you have ever tried getting
a recipe from a Grandmother
“if I give you my recipes you won’t care if I die.”
and my favorite,
“ I am still working on the perfect combination.”
truth be know, they didn’t know how to tell you
cooking was done at one time
by people who didn’t read or write
it was taught by watching
a handful of this, a pinch of that

kugle is a perfectly acceptable
vegetarian dish that tastes so much better
with bacon
it is a noodle or potato pudding
I use medium sized potatoes,
one per person, one egg per potato
egg to milk mix is about
two thirds egg, one third milk
more milk if the potatoes are dry
also some flour if the potatoes
seem not to be full of starch
onions fried in butter until soft
and bacon or ham if you don’t
keep kosher

it takes FOREVER to bake,
at least an hour at 350
taste the center
if it is done, it is ready
if it is almost done
you can nuke for five minutes

don't forget to put sour cream on top

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Apple Pandowdy

nights grow longer and a chill begins
summer memories are packed away
and I think of autumn
that’s when Uncle Victor came
from the north woods of Wisconsin
his once a year amusement
was to show us how he could
peel an apple with his pocket knife
and do it all in one piece
he told us it was wonderful
and we believed him
this was before television

my Mother would then take
the peeled apples and bake us
an apple pandowdy
it’s like an apple upside down cake
a layer of sugar/cinnamon apples
topped with a slightly sweet
biscuit topping, almost cake, almost bread
she didn’t have a written recipe
it depended on what she had

it matters if the apples are moist or dry
then you add more or less sugar to them
brown sugar, that is with cinnamon to taste
if the apples are dry, add more sugar
the cake batter should be more liquid
a thicker batter is used over really moist apples

I fiddle with the one egg cake recipe
in Joy of Cooking, adjusting quantities and sweetness
always adding less than half the sugar called for
it tastes good hot or cold

(C) 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Filled Donuts

while traveling from
Glendale to Woodland Hills
in California
I wandered into Masis Bakery Café
on Alameda
asking for something
for breakfast
that wasn’t too sloppy to eat
while driving
and had my first Ponchik
a delightful confection
filled with a cream custard
and served warm

when I Googled the name
I found out that
Wikipedia lists the names of
sweet fried filled pastries
from over 80 countries
world wide
if you add savories
the count is incredible

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Chocolate Cake Redux

xocolātl, a Nahuatl word
meaning "bitter water"
consumed by Aztec royalty
its preparation complex
the beans must be fermented
to develop flavor
then roasted and ground
a drink was created
seasoned with chili
and other spices
not the sweet confections
we associate with chocolate

having tasted spicy chocolate
and appreciating the difference
I found a cake recipe using
two different chocolates
both powdered and solid
it called for stout and molasses
it is heavenly

there are endorphins in cacao
that feed the body and mind
bringing the joy of satisfaction
one finds when in love

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pollo Guajillo

in an area
of intense ethnic diversity
there many opportunities
to travel only with one’s belly
this is a trip to Puebla Mexico
and a Grandmother’s kitchen
where a sauce was created that was so good
it has passed from generation to generation

the sauce created was made of guajillo peppers
carefully blended with sour cream
at Palo Alto Sol the sauce is used over
a chicken burrito
an outstanding taste treat
their mole sauce is a winner as well

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Palo Alto Sol
408 California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94040

Friday, July 23, 2010

Roasted Gold

leaving the known
and allowing chance
to guide
all sorts of doors open
we stumbled in to Asana Teas
in Santa Cruz California
the menu said
roasted butternut squash
usually tasty, but mushy
they had shredded the squash
put oil and pepper on it
what came out was
tiny squash French fries
with spinach, red peppers,
and a chive aioli
on focaccia
fresh out of a panini press
it was with some regret
that I brushed my teeth
and let go of the flavor

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman
Asana Teas
103 Lincoln St.
Santa Cruz, CA831-425-8327
They also have an outstanding
Selection of teas from around
the world. I want to try the
Yerba Mate Latte.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Meatballs Then and Now

once upon a time
the Lord of the manor
had a joint of meat
the serfs got the scraps
fat, sinew, bones
these leavings
had flavor
but were difficult
to eat as is

the little scraps
would be finely chopped
and mixed with
other ingredients
barley, rice, stale bread
added to absorb the flavors
and make them go farther

in hard times ground meats
become popular
because they are less costly
depression meatballs
were at least half
fillers with an egg
to bind it all together
they can be baked or fried
one type of meat or
mixed meats
finally a sauce is added
tomato is a favorite
glazes with fruit, a possibility
Kecap Manis and lime juice
if you like an Indonesian touch
teriyaki sauce, more Asian in flavor
let your imagination run wild

the photo is TJ’s
gourmet chicken meat balls
no fillers
nuked in TJ’s fresh cherry preserves
grandma’s hard times cooking
comes full circle

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Thanks to S. Rai for suggesting
meatballs and the kecap manis

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Grievous Errors

if you study statistics
you may come to realize
that only twenty percent
of any group is normal
while eighty percent
thusly becomes abnormal
only twenty percent of
humans read and learn
they way they should
while the rest of us
unique individuals
must struggle along

I have transposition problems
knowing this
I am hyper careful
when measuring
setting out to bake
a new cake
I misread seven ounces
to read seven cups of flour
the flavorless chocolate
brick now sits
in my trash can
instinct said
something is wrong
but, no I had checked
and checked
they were wrong
it couldn’t have been me
I even wrote and complained
before I checked one more time

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Ode to Asparagus

that harbinger of spring
tender tips piercing
the still sleeping earth
and a hungry two legged critter
longing for green
takes their first bite
looking for more
about a month later
there were no longer
tight green buds
but feathery ferns
waving in the breeze
thanks to that first person
whose hunger gave us
the edible form of asparagus
I like to blanch
just the tips of
these tender spears
until their color
becomes more radiant
two to three minutes
at that moment
I plunge them into ice water
to stop the cooking
a sauce of 1/3 sesame oil
and 2/3 soy sauce
is used to dress this
as a salad
add chopped pickled ginger
for color and an extra tang

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Three Bean Salad

opening a 1960s vintage cookbook
and noticing most salad recipes
began with at least a cup of mayo
I almost threw out the book
but three bean salad had possibilities
did I really have to be exact
and use canned green beans,
wax beans and kidney beans?
why not kidney, garbanzo,
and Caribbean black beans
some scallions
and celery
a must for a 60s salad
apple jelly melted with
cider vinegar
a sweet sour tang
thickened again with
corn starch
poured hot over
well drained and
rinsed beans
chill and serve

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

3 cans of assorted beans
1 bunch of scallions
2 cups chopped celery
cup of apple jelly
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
5 tsp corn starch

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ahi Tuna with Mango Curry Cream

a simple lunch al fresco
tuna salad
with a big twist
grill or pan sear
an ahi tuna steak
slice it across the grain
and chill
both you and the tuna
this is the tricky part
all the ingredients
taste different
from label to label
mango chutney
sour cream
curry powder
mixed to taste
use the sour cream
to cut the harshness
of the other ingredients
serve over tuna

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lavender Meringues

a kiss lighter than air
magically capturing
the essence of summer
in a single bite
although grown as a crop
in Provence for many years
for its perfume
the culinary uses of
lavender are very modern
one may purchase
culinary lavender
at specialty grocers
ground in a food processor
with powdered sugar
then beaten into egg whites
until stiff
baked in a low oven
and left over night
cooling slowly
if you have a Jones
for these
what do you do
with all the yolks
you cheat a bit
and buy some
powdered egg whites

©2010 Sandy Vrooman

you can find the recipe at
sorry, having trouble with making the links work in the body
please cut and paste if interested

Sunday, July 4, 2010


in a community
of like minded people
they begin
to finish each other’s

with poets
the muses are also
in community
and we mere poets
a receptacle

we can sit
half a world apart
and write
the same poems
from differing

this blog
opens with lemons
Tracey Gainforth
calls her food blog
the lemon kitchen

we both
dance with words
at a poetry group
of the same name
she lives in Canada
I’m in California
we may never meet
on a physical plane
but I know her

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Tracey Gainforth is a writer and foodie, living in Ottawa, Canada. She works in fund development, however Tracey would someday like to write full-time.
It is an exciting time for foodies in the Canadian nation’s capital as Ottawa has a wonderful, thriving food community.
Please read and enjoy, and if you have any questions Tracey can be reached at:


how do things happen
pondering many things
like the artichoke
who decided it was edible
this forbidding thistle
with a center
fit for the gods

perhaps the same forces
that could take
a Midwest
meat and potatoes gal
raised on canned veggies
and turn her into a foodie

it helps
if you leave the grasslands
and move into a house
with artichokes
in the back yard

to take them fresh cut
and put them in
boiling water
with balsamic vinegar
and some good olive oil

no sauce is needed
if the chokes are
cooked al dente
and eaten immediately

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Saturday, July 3, 2010

French Toast Redux

more conscious
than usual
for a morning
actually had thoughts
about embellishing
the earlier
French Toast post
I sliced up the peaches
and sprinkled them
with brandy
added the brown sugar
and cinnamon
while preparing
the egg bread mix
used fresh ground
nutmeg in the egg mix

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Emergency Latte Kit

ever had one
of THOSE mornings
you know
deep down somewhere
that a latte would fix everything
except you have to get up
and get dressed
in a presentable manner
to go into the outside world
down to the café
…. SMILE ….
and order your latte
this is why you must have
at all times
an emergency latte kit
I keep soy milk
boxed prepared chai
cinnamon and vanilla
always on hand
no one is watching
you put in as much
milk and tea or chocolate
even coffee
if you feel capable
enough to brew some

add cinnamon and vanilla
or not as you choose
nuke on high for 120 seconds
if stuff is cold
but where is the foam
you cry?
take your trusty whisk
between your palms
stick it into the glass
and twist back and forth
until you have enough foam
go back to bed

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Not Your Mother's Ham and Cheese

unless your name is Zoe

it has been said
grilled cheese sandwiches
were accidently invented
when a careless workman
left his lunch box
with bread and cheese
too close to a heating source
oh, the myriad
of variations since then
Café Zoe opened
in Menlo Park, CA
in June of 2008
the owner Kathleen Daly
had customers sample
many different menu items
and kept the favorites
one of my best picks
is a ham, pear, brie pannini
the flavors meld
in such a fashion
that a new taste sensation
is created.

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Cafe Zoe
"a place for peace, hope & community"
1929 Menalto Ave.
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Kathleen Daly, owner/creator

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cream Puffs

growing up
on Chicago’s south side
we ate what my mother cooked
meat and potatoes
with canned vegetables
and little else
until I discovered the bakery
with all those wonderful
cakes and cookies
I couldn’t talk her
into buying a cake,
but occasionally
I could talk her into
buying me a cream horn
filled with a light marshmallow mix
later when Grandma
would give me candy money
I would go for a cream puff
a lighter than air confection
with a crisp shell
containing sweetened cream
whipped to a froth
as a young adult
I learned how to make these
I still wonder how one
could know in advance
that eggs, flour, and oil
cooked in a sauce pot
then baked could
get so fluffy

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tortilla Española

which came first
the omelets
or the wrapper?

in Spain
everyone knows
tortilla as an omelet
a small tort
with potatoes
and each cook
makes it differently

Linda’s mother in law
from Vigo Spain
just above Portugal
makes the version
I know and love
or is it Linda’s version
that comes to mind?

you need potatoes
eggs, red bell pepper
a sweet onion
a bunch of fresh cilantro
lots of
really good olive oil
and a cast iron frying pan

chop and rinse potatoes
peel if you desire
fry potatoes until soft
in olive oil
covering them
speeds up the cooking
while the potatoes
are occupied
beat eggs with salt
if desired
cut up the onion,
cilantro and red pepper
add onions and
cook until they are
add pepper and cilantro
add more olive oil
lower heat and
add eggs
mixing slightly as they cook
when the omelet is set
you are supposed
to flip it over in the pan
I turn it out on to a plate
then slide the omelet
back into the pan
to cook the other side
slide back onto a
plate and serve
I guess you had
to be there
about two potatoes
and five eggs serve four

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


a Native American teaching
says we are all capable
of doing a bit of magic
if you brighten someone’s day
you have accomplished
a small magic

today we take many things
for granted
flying to the moon
is no longer magic
or is it?

just because we understand
how something works
doesn’t mean
it wasn’t magic
the first time it happened

I wonder if the first person
who found that if you knead
yeast and flour together
that you get bubbles in bread
was considered a sorcerer

now we know if you knead
bread dough, you stretch
the gluten molecules
which trap the gasses
made by the yeast

leave it to the French
to figure out that layers
and layers of butter
folded into a yeast dough
would give you a croissant

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman



what would Italian cuisine
be like without Marco Polo?

there would be no pasta
no macaroni extruded
in unusual and
sometimes amusing shapes
no ravioli filled with
unimaginable delicacies
no fusilli for sauces to cling to

my favorite pasta sauces
were influenced by
La Pastaia Restaurant
in San Jose, California

the secret was
using a light hand
probably made fresh
per order
have everything ready
before you heat the wok
very good olive oil
a sweet onion
sliced into threads
with some diced garlic
herbs of choice
a pinch of bullion
capers to taste
and a splash of white wine
you have to work fast
put the oil, onions, garlic
and herbs into the wok
in that order
when onions are transparent
splash in the wine and cover
turn off heat
uncover and add cooked pasta
and capers
my favorite combination
is fresh linguini
and smoked salmon
using basil

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

La Pastaia
2323 West Santa Clara St.
San Jose, CA 95113
Chef Forrest Gingold

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kate's Sandwich

what should one consider
as the food of poets?

friend Kate’s
comfort sandwich is
a mouth watering
her own invention
the colors and the flavors
merge to make
a scene for a painting
and a treat for the pallet
start with
a piece of dense
heavy rich brown bread
like pumpernickel
used as a trencher for
emerald green spinach
with garlic
(liquid removed)
followed by
a slice
of smoked salmon
of a sensuous color
whose origins
I will leave to
your imagination
and a dollop of
rich white sour cream
I would add some
capers and enjoy

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Monday, June 21, 2010

Santa Clara Valley

before it was silicon valley
it was covered with orchards
cherries and apricots mostly
a few small heritage plots
may exist here and there
but for the most part
the orchards are gone
I used to go and pick pears
at what is now
pear tree estates
there is nothing like
fruit just off the tree
warmed by the sun
the intensity of flavor
is matched at no other time
there still are orchards
outside the urban area
and fruit bought
at one of their stands
runs a close second
because the fruit
has not been chilled
which may preserve the fruit
but not the flavor

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman


the best scones
are made with
whipping cream and
cream of tartar
the French weigh
all their ingredients
with measuring flour
by the cup
one encounters
which can be adjusted
by feel
all measured flour
should be well sifted
sift together
two cups of flour with
a teaspoon of baking soda
two teaspoons cream of tartar
two tablespoons powdered sugar
cut in a couple tablespoons
of fresh unsalted butter
mix well one egg and
half cup of whipping cream
add to flour butter mix
mixing oh so gently
kneed slightly
bake on greased pan
or a scone griddle
at 450 degrees for
about fifteen minutes
or until brown
have more butter
and orange marmalade
ready to put on
hot split scones

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

On Bread

it is difficult to find
a time before bread
evidence in ruins of
neolithic man
show crushed grain
formed into a patty
what I would call bread
I’m thinking of
a warm golden loaf
hot from the oven
smeared with butter
melting into
nooks and crannies
add cheese
and you have
the sandwich
perhaps as old
as bread

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

French Toast

on the first day of summer
find yourself four slices
of a rich bread
brioche or challah will do
inch thick slices are best
if the bread is a bit dry
this is even better
whisk together five eggs and
an equal amount of milk
flavor with nutmeg and vanilla
to taste
let the bread
soak up all of the liquid
keep turning the slices
place all in a buttered pan
top with sliced ripe peaches
the kind whose color
has captured the sweetness
of the sun
sprinkled with
brown sugar and cinnamon
bake and serve
you can add syrup if you desire

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

coconut tapioca

those sometimes indelicate
delicacies served to
sick children
tempting them
to take some sustenance
warm tapioca pudding
now too sweet
lactose rich
we adjust things
a ritual of soaking
pearl tapioca overnight
draining it in the morning
mixing the coconut milk
with the egg yolks
and cinnamon
cook delicately
until it begins
to boil
carefully whisk in
stiffly beaten egg whites
and vanilla
serve in a pretty bowl
with a small spoon
and the cosseting is complete

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

a sun kissed glass of wine

driving homeward
trying to make
the weekend longer
one runs into a small winery
heretofore unknown
tucked carefully into
a nook along
the back road to home
sun is beginning
its lazy descent
and there is a slight haze
engulfing you
in a Maxfield Parrish light
the wine sparkles
in Helios light
can any nectar have
tasted better
you take a bottle with
but it never is the same

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Flakey Cookies

there are those cookies
that require an effort
in dental calisthenics
and then there are those
that melt in your mouth
a perfect blend of
flour, butter and sugar
mixed with a delicate hand
that’s the secret
saving the flour until last
gently blending it
into the thoroughly mixed
base ingredients
for peanut butter cookies
take equal parts of
white and brown sugar
cream an amount of butter
equivalent to half of the sugar
when thoroughly blended
add one egg
and a cup of simple
peanut butter
no extra sugar or salt
add vanilla to taste
sift about one and a half
cups of flour with
a large pinch of salt
and baking soda
carefully delicately
blend in
your flour mixture
as an added taste treat
put one dark chocolate kiss
in the center of each cookie
before baking
do not hesitate
to increase the flour
if the first baking
results in thin cookies

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman