What to Do with Overcooked Pasta

Click Photo to Enlarge Image


Photo copyright M-J de Mesterton 2008: click to enlarge
How to Salvage Overcooked Pasta
Instead of dumping your overcooked pasta–the result of an emergency elsewhere while you should be watching the pot–drain it well and sauté it in butter, then add grated cheese if you wish. It will have a toasted flavor and stiffen up a bit if you brown it as shown. Sautéed in butter or olive oil, overcooked spaghetti or pasta can have a nice texture. You may even add the sauce of your choice after it is browned. A little butter won’t kill you, but an Italian, faced with mushy pasta, might!

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M-J’s Golden Potatoes

Potatoes: the much-maligned tubers aren’t guilty of fattening us. The added fats in potato-preparation are the culprits. This humble vegetable that grows low on the ground is high in nutrients. The potato is high in a substance called “resistant starch”, a carbohydrate which has a low glycemic index and acts as fiber.

A potato supplies more potassium per ounce than a banana. Potassium helps to regulate blood-pressure and blood-sugar. Potatoes also contain vitamin C, B-6 and about 60 anti-oxidants.

M-J’s Recipe for Golden Brown Potatoes

Peel and cut into quarters or eighths, as many potatoes as you think you need for dinner. The cut potatoes should resemble chunks or nuggets. One potato per person is a safe bet; the leftovers can be re-heated and eaten the next day.

Boil water in a pot, with salt or chicken bouillon to your taste. Add the potato chunks and boil them for twenty minutes. Drain potatoes and then sauté them in butter or the fat of your choice until brown. Alternatively, you may coat the potatoes in lemon, olive oil and salt, then bake them on a cookie sheet until brown. A good way to evenly distribute the coating is to put the potatoes, oil and seasoning in a Zip-Lock bag and shake gently, being careful not to break the potato chunks.
Baked or sautéed, these potatoes are soft on the inside, and crispy on the outside.

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2008

Still Life by Claesz
Still Life by Claesz

Make Your Own Finnish-Style Cheese: Leipäjuusto

Leipäjuusto Photo by Teemu Rajala
Leipäjuusto and Cloudberry Jam: Photo by Teemu Rajala

Click Image to Enlarge Recipe

My mother gave me a booklet in 1985, when it was published: Kitsi Finnish Foodways, a publication of Suomi College (now called Finlandia University) for FinnFest 1985. My copy of Kitsi is yellowed. I don’t think my dear, departed mother ever made squeaky cheese, but, working at Suomi College’s Finnish-American Heritage Center, she did draw the illustrations on Kitsi’s cover. Leipäjuusto is an unusual creation that I really like with rye bread, when in Finland. Here is the recipe for making your own Finnish Squeaky Cheese.

Update: I’ve just found my mother’s friend, Beatrice Ojakangas’ blog, where she hosts a richer recipe for leipäjuusto.

Here is a recipe for Finnish Apple Cake, by Beatrice Ojakangas, the Queen of Scandinavian Cooking

FINNISH APPLE SUGAR CAKE (Omenasokerikakku)
Makes 12 servings
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
dash salt
3/4 cup light cream or undiluted evaporated milk
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced about 1/2 inch
Cinnamon sugar: 2 tablespoons sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch cake pan.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together; add the eggs and beat until light. Stir the flour, baking powder and salt together and add to the cream mixture alternately with the cream. Mix until batter is smooth and spread into the prepared pan.
Insert the apple slices so that the outer edges of the apple slices are up. Sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean and dry. Serve warm.
~~Copyright Beatrice Ojakangas, The Finnish Cookbook, 1964

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M-J’s Elegant Apple Pie

M-J’s Elegant Apple Pie


Photos of M-J’s Elegant Apple Pie Copyright Elegant Survival, 2008 and 2009

M-J’s Elegant Apple Pie Recipe

  • 4 cups of white flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 stick of salted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • ¾ cup of chilled lard (“manteca”)
  • 7 Fuji apples–cored, peeled, and thinly sliced (reserve peels and cores)
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup light-brown sugar (or more, according to your to your taste)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup of cold water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 additional half stick of butter
  • An extra 2 tablespoons of sugar, either white or brown
  • One cup of water
  • DIRECTIONS

  • 1. Make the dough: put one stick of cold butter into a large mixing bowl, together with the 3/4 cup of chilled lard and a teaspoon of salt. Add flour gradually, working it into the butter and lard. Add approximately 3/4 cup of cold water, then cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms small pea-shaped balls, and when formed into a large mound, it holds together. Sometimes less cold water is required–believe it or not, the amount needed to make a pie dough with this recipe depends upon the moon.’s current phase. Mix this by hand, since machine will create a tough pie crust. I use an old-fashioned wire potato masher and a wooden spoon. When the dough sticks together but doesn’t stick to your hands, shape it into 2 balls, wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • 2. Put all of your apple peelings and cores into a saucepan on the stove with a cup of water and two tablespoons of sugar, and boil until the liquid becomes syrup. Strain liquid from solids and reserve it. The peelings can then be eaten or ground into applesauce–it’s important not to waste any edible part of your apples.
  • 3. Assemble the pie: heat your oven to 425°F. Roll out one ball of dough into a 12-inch round about 1/8-inch thick, on a lightly floured surface. Fit the dough into a 9 or10-inch pie pan. Place one layer of apple slices into the dough-lined pan. Cover them with two tablespoons of cornstarch and a quarter-cup of brown sugar. Repeat this process with apples, sugars and cinnamon. Distribute the half-stick of butter on top of the apples after slicing it into bits. Add your apple syrup over the top of the pie. Alternatively, I sometimes skip the step of creating syrup from my apple peelings, and just use some apple juice concentrate (found in grocery frozen juice section).
  • Roll out the second ball of dough for the top crust. Brush the edges of the bottom crust with water or milk, and lay the top crust down, pressing the edges together to form a tight seal. Use your imagination to pierce or slice a design into the top of the pie to allow steam to escape. Bake for ten minutes at 425*F, then lower your oven heat to 350* and bake for another hour. Let the apple pie cool for a minimum of two hours before serving.
  • Elegant Apple Pie Recipe Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2008

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Quinoa Casserole

Quinoa, an Ancient Incan Delicacy
Quinoa, an Ancient Incan Delicacy
Bring to a boil 2 1/2 cups of water.

Add 1 1/2 cup of quinoa, stir, cover and simmer for thirty minutes.

In a bowl, mix together 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese,

One tablespoon of white flour,

One egg, and

One cup of milk.

Seasoning Salt and Pepper of your choice (Lawry’s, Plain or Himalayan Salt; Cayenne pepper, white or black pepper). Or, use a tablespoon of powdered chicken bouillon (Maggi or Knorr brands, for example).

Chop a fourth-cup of sun-dried tomatoes. Add it to the milk and egg mixture.

Mix all ingredients together and place in a greased or buttered 9″ round or square glass casserole dish.

Decorate the top with any grated cheese.

Bake for forty minutes.

Variation: Omit the sun-dried tomatoes and substitute chopped green chiles (El Paso or Hatch brands, for example). Substitute Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese for the Parmesan.

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2008
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