Grandma’s Roasted Lamb and Vegetables

You either love lamb or you hate it. Many think they won’t like it – “It’s too gamey tasting” but in fact it can be delicious. This recipe is easy, impressive, with easy clean up. Nothing is better than roasted veggies.

leg of lamb – 1/2. whole or butterflied and boneless. (we prefer the bone in for flavor)

Suggested Vegetables: Potatoes, Carrots, Onion, whole Garlic, whole Shallot, Mushrooms, Artichoke and Parsnips

Olive oil, salt and pepper, rosemary garlic

Take your broiler pan and line it with foil. Place a V-rack in the middle. rub the leg of lamb with oil and salt and pepper, garlic and rosemary. We love Penzys Greek herb rub if you can get it. I order it on line on:

Place the meat on the V-rack.

Place the veggies in a bowl – keep the garlic whole, peel the shallots and onions keeping whole unless the onions are too large then cut in half. Trim the tops and stems off of the artichokes, trim mushrooms, slice carrots in large chunks along the diagonal or use baby carrots. Do the same with the parsnips if desired. Over the veggies pour olive oil, add garlic powder or minced , salt and pepper and stir to coat. No measurements here because it depends upon the number of people you will be serving. You do not want the veggies “swimming” in oil. Distribute the veggies around the V-rack. In the picture below, we served 2 people, although the lamb roast could feed more. Artichokes were unavailable but, believe me, they are a wonderful addition to this meal.

Place in 350 oven for close to an hour, longer if it is a large roast. Use a meat thermometer and remove meat from the oven when it registers 132 degrees.

Br. Willis’ Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

There was a member of my congregation that moved away some years ago but he left his mark by leaving behind his wonderful, delicious whole wheat bread recipe. It was literally to die for. He has since passed away but every time I read his handwritten recipe and bake this bread, I think of him with great affection.

Some years ago I bought a whisper mill. A friend told me she thinks the store bought whole wheat flour is a little bitter when she bakes bread and that the freshly ground flour is much better.

Whisper Mill grinder and holding container
Wheat berries

The Grinder is attached to the collection bowl via the green tube as shown. The Mill is turned on prior to loading the wheat berries. It is very loud although the actual grinding is much quieter. You may adjust the fineness of the grind. About 2 1/2 – 3 cups of wheat berries equal 4 cups of wheat flour depending upon how fine you grind it.

I am not the best bread baker in the world but I did, through trial and error, learn from my mistakes. First, baking whole wheat bread is not easy as my first attempts served better as door stops than sustenance. The following is one half of the recipe that will make 2 loaves. My suggestions will follow.

2 1/2 cups very hot water – 120 degrees

Add to the water 2 pks. of yeast(check the expiration on the yeast packet), 1/3 cup honey and 1/3 cup canola oil

(If you are making whole wheat bread using no white flour, crush and add to the liquid 4 tablets of Vitamin C tablets or 1/4 tsp ascorbic acid)

Let stand to allow the yeast to bubble. Grease pans while you are waiting.

Gradually add in all 6 cups whole wheat flour OR 4 cups whole wheat and 2 cups white flour. Knead with dough hook or by hand until dough is elastic and not sticky. Add more flour if sticky. Put a small amount of oil on counter top and pour out dough. Divide dough in half and form into loaves and place in prepared pans. Put in warm spot, covered with damp cloth and let rise until 2 1/2 times the size (about 30 minutes) Place pans in unheated oven set at 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Now for my tips and suggestions:

  1. I use a mixture of whole wheat and white flour because, as I have said, my whole wheat bread tends to be on the heavier side. One friend told me to add gluten but never told me how much so I didn’t. When I have time I will experiment with that.
  2. The ascorbic acid or Vitamin C helps for greater loaf volume, faster rising and finer, tenderer crumb. Or so I am told. I have used it and with this batch I didn’t. I didn’t notice much difference but I now large bakeries use it.
  3. Make sure your yeast is new. If it doesn’t bubble in the water, chances are it is old and your bread will not rise.
  4. This recipe can also be made using 1/3 cup molasses instead of honey. I will make a darker colored loaf but equally as tasty.
  5. Many ovens have a proof option. It will heat up the oven slightly – place the loaves inside to rise.
  6. The dough in the mixer should start cleaning the sides of the mixing bowl after 5 minutes.

Chocolate Cinnamon Cake

It has been a heck of a long time since I have posted anything.   Time has gotten away from me and I do not know where it has gone.  Unfortuately, I am writing this during the stay at home orders due to the Corona virus.  After this is over we will all be overweight because we have been baking and eating too much.

Anyway,  my birthday was last week and my kids asked if I was going to bake my own birthday cake.  I didn’t think I would, but then I thought that I haven’t had the birthday cake my mother would bake for our birthdays in quite a while.  Since the Governor’s orders are to stay at home, I thought why not make it. 

This chocolate cinnamon cake is a dense cake like a pound cake.  My mom never used to frost it other than some confectioners sugar sprinkled on top, but I have included a thin glaze to use if desired.  The glaze recipe comes from my Texas Sheet Cake recipe that I make for Super Bowl every year but that’s for another post. The recipe suggest the use of a tube pan but I like making it in a loaf pan. It is great to freeze and a huge cake for the two of us would be deadly.

The original recipe calls for crisco but I have made it with half butter and I’m sure all butter would be just as good.

1 cup crisco

1 cup cocoa

1 tbls cinnamon

1 tsp soda

Mix the above in a bowl and pour over it and stir until smooth 1 cup boiling water. Then add:

1 cup milk

1 tbls vanilla

2 whole beaten eggs

Add after sifting:

2 1/2 cups of sugar

3 cups flour

1tsp salt and 1 tsp baking powder.

batter will be thin

Spoon into prepared tube pan or two loaf pans. Preheat 350 oven and bake about an hour. Do not overbake. Slice and enjoy! Especially delicious with ice cream!


2 cups confectioners sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 stick butter

1/2 cup milk

4 tbls cocoa

Boil milk, butter, cocoa till bubbly. Mix in sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth and pour over cake to drip down the sides.

Table Settings

I find it interesting that not many people know how to set a table.  My parents entertained a lot and by helping my mother I learned the proper placement of silverware and plates.  I also realized I was a lousy teacher for my own children because they either are unaware of the correct way to set a table of they don’t really care.  I am not talking about where to place the fish fork or knife, (I am not an etiquette expert)  but just a normal everyday place setting. 20190428_143229.jpg

So, looking at the picture above the salad plate goes to the left, whether it is up higher like this or directly beside, it doesn’t matter.  I don’t have the smaller bread plates with this set of china, my mother’s “Sunnyvale” by Castleton (I love this pattern) but if I did the salad plate would be on the dinner plate and the bread and butter plate would go to the left.  I don’t have butter knives with my sterling set but if I did it would go on the bread and butter plate.  The forks go on the left – work from outside in – the first small fork would be used first for the salad.  The larger fork in the middle would be for dinner, the small inside fork would be for dinner. On the right is the knife and then the spoon. If you are serving soup and have a soup spoon that would be laid above the plate horizontally. Water and wine goblets would go on the right as well.  The napkin can be placed on the left with or without a napkin ring or laid on the plate.

Lastly, a fun way to present your napkin (in this case, only paper would work) is the following.  My mother and whoever showed her used this a lot and taught us how to do it.  I like it because it is different and reminds me of a bird with its wings in flight.

First: Fold the napkin in half, diagonally. Second: Fold in half again. Third: fold one side about 1/2″ from the fold.

1. 20190327_150156  2.20190327_150235.jpg 3.20190327_150301.jpg

Fourth: Turn it over and do the same to the other side. Fifth and last step: If I look at the inside folded napkin I see a center fold.  Slide this fold into the space between the second and third tine of the fork and the two “wings” in the space between the 1st and 2nd tine and the 3rd and 4th tine.  Try it!


4. 20190327_150318.jpg  5.20190327_150137.jpg



Yummy Burrata


I am in love with Cara Cara oranges.  Its pulp is sweet, seedless not quite the color of a blood orange but darker pulp than a naval orange.  I cut off the rind and cut the segments and scattered them on top of some baby butter lettuce.  I then took a ball of burrata and tore it into pieces and distributed the pieces as well. I sprinkled pomegranate seeds, thin slices of red onion and chunks of deliciously ripe avocado. I found a simple dressing on line:  2tbls of olive oil, 3 tbls of Red wine vinegar, and 2 tsp honey. Season with salt and pepper and pour over the salad and serve. It not only looks beautiful but tastes delicious.

Another easy but delicious appetizer uses burrata as well. I purchase bruschetta from Whole Foods (but if you are in Florida, Publix makes a great one, too) and pesto. In a small serving dish pour the bruschetta on one side and the pesto on the other.  Place a fresh burrata ball on top in the middle. Take a small baguette and slice 1/4″ slices. Brush with olive oil and place under the broiler until toasted. Do the same to the other side if desired.   Spoon  the bruschetta-pesto -burrata mixture onto the toast and Enjoy!! I score the ball for easier dipping)  I make this all the time but keep forgetting to take a picture so one will be coming soon!

Easy Morita Chile Salsa

20170309_172702My husband and I were on our way home from a destination wedding in San Miguel, Mexico last fall when he struck up a conversation with a young American woman sitting next to him who currently lives in Mexico City.  She shared with us her favorite and authentic salsa recipe using her favorite chile.

I found Morita Mexican Whole Dried Chiles on Amazon and ordered them.  They are a beautiful red chile with a wonderful smoky flavor.  Her recipe is simple but delicious and only requires 3 ingredients.

In a dry cast iron pan over med-high heat, roast 2-3 dried chiles and 2-3 cloves of whole garlic. Stir to allow these ingredients to brown and soften. In the pictures below I also roasted some sliced shallot or onion although this wasn’t in her recipe.  Remove place in the bowl of a small processor. Take one washed, large, whole tomato and place it in the hot pan.  Roast until the tomato skin begins to brown, peel and soften.    Although her recipe calls for the tomato to remain whole, mine was store bought so I quartered it, I thought this would release the tomato’s juices. Use a wooden spoon to roll it around the hot pan to roast all sides.  Remove from the pan and add to the processor.

For a milder salsa, use 1 or 2 more tomatoes.  The chiles are very hot but if you like the heat, roast and add more. Salt to taste. I suggest, when possible use farm fresh tomatoes as they are sweeter and juicier and make the best salsa. Supermarket tomatoes  will work when garden fresh aren’t available. Serve with chips.


Shrimp Cocktail

Many people shy away from cooking shrimp for shrimp cocktail because they are afraid of overcooking the shrimp and ruining them.  It really isn’t that scary or difficult.

Boil water in a large pot.  Throw in a bag of frozen extra jumbo shrimp.  When the water returns to a boil, IMMEDIATELY dump the shrimp into a strainer, quickly refill the pot with cold water and pour the shrimp into the cold water, add ice.  This stops the shrimp from cooking and consequently, overcooking.

Strain and peel shrimp, dry with paper towels, if necessary.

Easy cocktail sauce

Bottled cocktail sauce is usually awful.  Mix ketchup and horseradish to taste.  If you are really adventurous and like hot horseradish, consider making your own.  Just buy a horseradish root from your local supermarket.  I cut off a portion of the root and store the remainder in the refrigerator.  Peel the root and cut into smaller pieces.  Finely chop in a food processor.  Add a 1/4-1/2 tsp salt and 1 -2 tbls white vinegar through the top of the processor.  Be careful taking the lid off (I have often done this outside since the fumes from the horseradish can clean out your sinuses!)  Store in fridge for 2-3  weeks.20161123_125701

Indian Pudding – Holiday

Every Thanksgiving I make one of my husband’s favorite desserts – Indian Pudding. Although the name may not be politically correct I would not be surprised if our Native American friends were the first to make this delicious Thanksgiving dessert.

Indian Pudding

4 cups milk

1/3 cup corn meal

3/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup butter

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ginger

3 tbls sugar

(one well beaten egg)

Preheat oven to 300.  Boil in the top of a double boiler the milk.  Stir in the corn meal ( I put the cornmeal in a small strainer and  I “shake” it into the milk as I stir. This eliminates lumps.  Cook over boiling water for 15 minutes. Stir in the molasses and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter, salt, ginger and sugar. Add the beaten egg if desired, it is optional. Pour into well-greased baking dish. Bake for  1 1/2 hours. Spoon into bowls and serve with ice cream.

How to make the Perfect Apple Pie

My mother was a wonderful pie maker. She taught my sister and me well.  My husband brags about my apple pie.  The secret to a delicious pie is not really a secret – it starts with a delicious crust.  My mother gave me two very important tips for making a perfect crust: No. 1 was to keep it cold.   From the crumbly start to the water that is added to it, to the surface it was rolled on, keeping it cold was imperative.  No. 2 was DO NOT overwork the dough. She would tell us it wasn’t play dough or bread dough, so the less you handle it the better.  To make things easier, too, she made her crust in bulk and kept it in the refrigerator until she needed it. Her pie crust in bulk recipe is as follows and I always have it handy.

6 cups of flour

2 cups crisco

1 tsp salt

I like the flakiness of this pie crust and it could be because of the crisco.  Butter can be substituted, of course, but why mess with success.  Cut the crisco into the flour and salt until it is crumbly, using a pastry blender or fork. Store it in a zip lock bag and refrigerate until ready to use.  It keeps this way for months.

For a single crust measure out 1 1/2 cups of the mixture, 2 cups for double.  I sometimes go a little over and I will tell you why later. Add 5 to 7 tablespoons of ice cold water to the mixture and mix together with a fork until it forms a ball. (1)

Lightly flour the rolling pin and begin rolling from the center out.  DO NOT lean into the rolling pin onto the crust, trying to push it out.  With a small amount of pressure the rolling pin will not stretch the dough and keep it a uniform thickness.(2)

Carefully pick up the edge of the crust that is farthest away from you and fold in half.(3) Lift from the folded edge and place on your pie plate and carefully unfold to cover the plate. (4) Lightly press the crust into the plate and trim the edge to about a 1/2″ overhang.(5) Put excess to the side.

In the meantime, peel, cut, core and slice 6-7 apples.  I prefer Granny smith but it is personal preference.  Add 1/2-3/4 cup sugar and 2 tbls. flour and 1 tbls. cinnamon and add to apples. Pile the cut apples into the pie shell and dot with butter.(6)

Roll out the top crust as before.  I usually do not use the trimmed left over crust from the bottom because I don’t want to overwork or handle the dough too much.  That is why, as I said before, I use more than the 2 cups of mixture. Follow the same procedure as steps 1-5. Use water to seal the top and bottom crust together and fold under.  Use your thumb and index finger or a fork to form a decorative finish around the pie perimeter. (7)

Pierce the top with a knife and sprinkle with sugar.  Use foil around the pie edge or a crust protector to keep the edge from getting too brown during baking.(8)  Bake in a 350 oven for fifty minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 10-15.Cool a bit before serving.

The extra dough can be saved, if there is enough, for a single pie crust. just wrap and store in the refrigerator.  I roll it out flat, sprinkle cinnamon sugar on it, then roll it up,cut it and bake it .  My kids, all grown now, still love them!

If making a single crust, many people suggest lining the crust with foil and then use navy beans or any kind of dried beans to weigh the crust down.  I often forego the foil and it turns out fine.  Good Luck!




St. Patrick’s Day

It has been quite a while since I last posted… It is not because we have not been entertaining but I try to post different scenarios and recipes.  The holidays were hectic with family matters to contend with.

Here we are in Florida and we are still entertaining.  It’s St Patty’s Day down here Naples.  We attended the annual Naple’s St Patrick’s Day parade which was loaded with representatives from my home state of Massachusetts so it got us in the mood for Green.


First you need a big pot.  We had to buy one since we didn’t have one in Florida.  There are two varieties of corn beef  – the cut is basically the same, a beef brisket that has been “corned” whatever that means.  They come  gray and red.  We prefer the gray but both taste great. We brought the gray down from Massachusetts and bought the red at our local Publix.  Fill the pot with water. Add plenty of garlic, pepper, a few bayleaves and the corned beef. Sometimes the cornbeef comes with a seasoning package, use if you like.  I think it makes it more salty. Bring the water to boil then bring the heat down to a simmer.  Simmer the meat for 20 mins/pound. We’re cooking seven pounds so we are starting the simmer at 2:30pm and plan to take the meat out and wrap in foil at 5:30pm.  DON’T THROW OUT THE WATER!!!  Cut up the turnip, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, and onions.  Add them to the simmering corn beef water.  Simmer until veggies are tender.  Check often since cabbage takes longer to cook than potatoes, for example. Remove veggies with a slotted spoon and separate into bowls or platter.  We usually arrange all the veggies on a large platter with the meat but since I don’t have a large platter, I will separate the different vegetables into bowls. Keep them warm while you slice the meat.  Sometimes we have put the meat back into the water to rewarm.  When you do go to slice,  slice thinly and on the bias.  Have  white vinegar and mustard to serve with the meat.