Positive note #8: it’s recipe exchange time!

by Eszter Hargittai on December 30, 2020

Is there anyone who hasn’t spent more time in the kitchen this year than usual? Perhaps healthcare workers. I don’t eat bread so I skipped all the sourdough discussions, but I did end up trying all sorts of new recipes. I’ll just share one savory and one sweet, and am otherwise hoping folks will contribute their own favorites.

A Late Show with Stephen Colbert was my go-to daily entertainment watching the previous night’s episode around lunch time. I was so impressed by how he and his team pivoted to the lockdown. In one episode, he cooked a dish based on shallots with Alison Roman that sounded very intriguing since I like shallots, but few recipes ever call for more than a bit of it (or I don’t tend to know them, please educate me). I made the dish the next day and have made it a bunch of times since, it’s excellent. I substituted sardines for the anchovies, because I already had those at home and since it worked well for me, I’ve stuck with that variation.

For sweets, I tried a sweet potato casserole for the first time this Thanksgiving and was so impressed that I’ve made it twice since (and will definitely be making it again). It seems to be presented as a side dish, but in my book it’s definitely a dessert. I do recommend two modifications to that recipe though that I picked up on from reading the comments on the site: (1) half the white sugar (1/4 instead of 1/2 cup); (2) double the topping except for the butter. Commenters noted that it was too sweet otherwise and they were right. I forgot these modifications the last time I made it and it was indeed too sweet. It’s a straight-forward recipe and doesn’t even really require a food processor (I haven’t used one for it). Try it out!

Your turn, please share your finds (or oldies, but goodies if you prefer).



oldster 12.30.20 at 1:30 pm

This is the best, funniest, deadpan, tactful comment on Thanksgiving sweet potatoes ever:

“It seems to be presented as a side dish, but in my book it’s definitely a dessert.”


SamChevre 12.30.20 at 2:40 pm

We have started having over for Sunday dinner, most weeks, a family who is vegan and one of whom is very gluten-intolerant. (Both them and my family are fairly isolated–everyone works from home–so the COVID risk seems reasonable to us relative to the mental-health risk of being stuck at home with only preschoolers for months on end.)

One new favorite recipe from that is modified from the Madhur Jaffrey cookbook World Vegetarian, “Baked Lima Beans”. It sounds boring, but is surprisingly good. Any white bean will work, but the Turkish “Dermason Fasulye” which I can get at the local Turkish-run produce market are what I prefer–they look like small dried lima beans.

1 cup (250 grams) dried beans, soaked and cooked just tender in

2 tbsp (25 ml) olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 big carrot, in pieces as big as a cooked bean
1 14-oz can (400 gram) crushed tomatoes

1 tsp salt (more to taste)
1/4 tsp black pepper (more to taste)
1 tbsp (15 ml–a large eating spoon full) dried parsley (or 3 tbsp fresh)
1 tsp (5 ml-a small eating spoon full) dried oregano (or more to taste)

Saute the onion in the oil until it wilts, add the carrot and cook just a minute or so, add the tomatoes and bring to a boil.

Stir everything together gently(the bean cooking liquid should just cover the beans–don’t drain them), and put in an oven-proof pan. Bake for 2-3 hours at 325 degrees to 250 degrees F (120 to 160 C)–when done, the top will be browned and the liquid absorbed. (I use the lower heat and longer time, and this assumes the beans are hot when you start.)

I like this with bread, but generally serve it with potatoes or rice for the gluten-intolerant.


kingless 12.30.20 at 3:04 pm

Finally converted the broccoli haters around the house by experimenting with garlic, lemons, and olive oil, starting from Roasted Broccoli. It’s old but I found it earlier this year.

For a sweet, here’s a Vegan Pecan Pie.

Cooking is fun!


Chris Heinz 12.30.20 at 3:36 pm

Farm Style Eggplant
This recipe came from a Home Ec Club cookbook created in Davis Township near Attica IN (near Lafayette) which was given to my neighbor Carolyn Vanover by her mother at her wedding in 1963. Very tasty. I have struggled cooking with eggplant, this seems fairly foolproof. It is delicious, kind of like eggplant au gratin. The eggplant loses its bitterness but not its flavor, FTW!

YIELD 4ACTIVE TIME 30 minutesTOTAL TIME 80 minutesCATEGORIES casserole, grandma food, eggplant
1 medium eggplant
2 slices bread crumbled
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t salt
6 T butter
1/2 C milk
1/2 # (2 C) medium sharp cheese, cut in peices
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel and dice eggplant and boil in salted water until tender (15-30 minutes).
Drain, mash well with potato masher.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet on medium heat, melt the butter.
Cook the onion in the butter until soft 15-20 minutes.
Add the crumbled bread and milk, mix all ingredients together, but hold 1/2 C of cheese back for the top.
Place in baking dish, sprinkle 1/2 C cheese on top, bake 30 minutes.
Remove from oven, let it set up 15 minutes. Serve hot.
I couldn’t help myself, I did a couple of shakes of garlic powder onto the sauteing onions.
EVOO instead of butter. Nope, didn’t work.
2 eggs mixed in. Nope, made it too quichy.
Added a peeled diced medium yellow squash to the boiling eggplant.
Food prep I had never done before: taking a piece of bread and spiraling around it pinching off 1/4″ pieces.


nastywoman 12.30.20 at 3:54 pm


and please don’t confuse it with ”Grüzi” –
(like always my Cousin from North Carolina)
As ”Grüzi” is HI! and ”Rösti is:
”a simple, buttery and fragrant national dish of Switzerland, a crispy crusted potato pancake with an appetizing golden color. It is a great side dish to traditional Swiss delicacies such as leberspiesschen (grilled calves’ livers wrapped in bacon and sage)
or émincé de veau.
The potatoes for rösti are boiled, peeled, chilled, grated into long strips, and fried with butter, oil, salt, and maybe a bit of bacon fat. The dish is then cut into wedges and served to hungry consumers. Additionally, herbs, onions, ham, or grated cheese can be added to the dish to enhance its flavors.
Rösti was originally consumed for breakfast by farmers from the Swiss canton of Bern, but today it is a popular side dish with lots of variations. For example, Bernese rösti is prepared with bacon, Valaisian rösti with sliced tomatoes and raclette cheese, while Basilean rösti is a mixture of potatoes and sliced onions in a 1:1 ratio.

http://www.tasteatlas.com › rosti › wheretoeat the best rösti from http://www.tasteatlas.com · Zeughauskeller · Café du Bourg-de-Four · Hotel Oberland Restaurant · Kronenhalle · Bistro …

AND tomorrow night with US in ”Züri” –
(and please don’t confuse it with ”Grüzi” either…)


notGoodenough 12.30.20 at 4:41 pm

My default approach to cooking is to use plenty of alcohol when called for – added to the food, if strictly necessary.

I recently indulged myself with a raclette, though that is less a recipe and more the methodology of adding as much cheese to as many things as possible – paired with some leftover roast potatoes, a mixture of cooked vegetables (in order to fool myself into believing the may be some health benefits), and a little jamón ibérico, it proved more than sufficient for my unrefined palate (though no doubt I’ve offended at least 3 nationalities by doing so!).

If one is looking for an excuse to indulge in shallots (and really, why wouldn’t one?), might I recommend a considering a green curry?


Eszter Hargittai 12.30.20 at 5:40 pm

Oldster – I have a wonderful sweet potato dish for Thanksgiving, although it may also confirm your comment in that it’s half regular potatoes. ;-)

SamChevre – I’ll try that. It reminds me a lot of the lentil soup I make on New Year’s Eve every year sans tomato sauce though. (I had a fantastic tomato lentil soup from a restaurant last night and it inspired me to add that ingredient sometime). Your dish sounds like very nice comfort food, perfect for these days.

Kingless – I have always liked broccoli, but it’s true that how you make it can make a difference. Your recipe sounds a lot like my go-to broccoli recipe. (I make it with parmesan cheese like your recipe.)

Nastywoman – seeing that I live in Zurich, it would never occur to me to confuse Rösti with Grüezi, but I can see how people elsewhere may do that.

notGoodenough – continuing on the Swiss theme, I’m not sure most Swiss would agree that that characterization of what raclette is. ;-) If you have a particular green curry recipe in mind, please share.


Eszter Hargittai 12.30.20 at 5:41 pm

Does anyone have a good non-sugar-cookie non-gingerbread-cookie cookie recipe that doesn’t spread so I can make it with cookie cutters? A friend gifted me a bunch of cookie cutters and sprinkles that I’d like to put to good use, but I don’t like the above types of cookies. Something chocolatey perhaps or with peanut butter?


notGoodenough 12.30.20 at 6:20 pm

Eszter Hargittai @ 7

For myself, I first encountered raclette as a Belgium interpretation of the French version of the Swiss dish, but so long as the end product is tasty… :-)

Sadly I’m not much for recipes – I refuse to be constrained by society in such a fashion! Also, I am too lazy to write things down. My personal curry recipe was dependent on mysterious ingredients my Thai flatmate used to bring back (and were labelled in a language far beyond my efforts to decode), but I have gotten reasonably close with something like this:

Paste mixture:
3-4 Small red chilies (adjust spicieness to taste)
1-2 green chilies
½ cup coriander (I substitute 1-2 cloves garlic instead, as I am not a big fan of coriander)
½ tablespoon soy sauce
2-3 shallots
Ginger (a quantity appropriate to the ginger-ness of the root! Probably a reasonable chunk grated well.)
Lemon zest
Ca. 3 tablespoon coconut milk

For the curry:
Vegetables – your choice to mix (personally I like a good mixture of carrots, lentils, and mushrooms)
½ to ¾ cup thick coconut milk (adjust for liquidity)
2 tablespoon coconut oil or sesame oil
Precooked steamed basmati rice (or your rice of choice)
½ tablespoon basil leaves

1) Gently grind the paste mixture to a coarse paste (add more soy sauce or full-fat coconut milk if it is too dry). This step is a pain if you are using a pestle and mortar, so if you have an automatic alternative I’d recommend that instead.

2) In a pan, gently warm ca. 2 tablespoon of coconut or sesame oil (whatever is easier to find). Add paste, sauté ca. 1-2 min.

3) Add vegetables.

4) Slowly add water (you don’t want too liquid a consistency, so I’d recommend ca. 1.5 cups, but adjust for your taste. If it starts boiling off and getting dry, you can always add a little more). Cook until vegetables are done.

5) Add coconut milk (again, don’t overdo it unless you prefer a more broth-like curry – probably about ½ to ¾ of a cup). Mix really well.

6) Bring to a boil.

7) Serve with rice, garnish with basil

8) Realise that you’ll never replicate the efforts of someone who had been doing this their whole lives, sigh wistfully while staring out of the window and drinking wine.

Enjoy :-)


Eszter Hargittai 12.30.20 at 6:57 pm

Thanks for that! I am not one for being constrained by recipes so approximations are fine. :)

I shouldn’t be surprised about the presence of coconut oil and coconut milk in such a recipe, unfortunately, I’m horrifyingly allergic to the former and given that, somewhat risk-averse to the latter. (It’s a weird allergy I developed in my late 20s and is not one I can ignore given its severity.) Is this basically the water from a coconut? I’ve had that straight from the coconut (in Cuba on the road side:) so I could try a small dose before going all in. I am not sure how I do with sesame oil, I could try it in a small portion as well to see.


notGoodenough 12.30.20 at 8:46 pm

Eszter Hargittai @ 10

Sorry to hear about the allergy – I quite understand the hesitation! Google tells me that soy milk or almond milk can be a substitute for the coconut milk, if that might suit? I’ve never tried myself, so can’t vouch to the efficacy, but normally I use the milk to tap down the spice a little (the chemistry behind it all is fascinating!) so I think it would work. Similarly, perhaps you could consider a good olive oil if you have concerns about the sesame?


Alan White 12.31.20 at 12:27 am

Oven ratatouille (adapted from a recipe I found on the net many years ago)
Serves 3-4
1 eggplant
1 medium-large sweet onion, sliced into thin rings
2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 green or colored bell pepper, sliced into thin segments
1 large or two smaller tomatoes, chopped (on-the-vine type if not garden-fresh)
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried parsley
8-12 oz. grated parmesan cheese (don’t use the shaker variety)
olive oil (amount varies due to different eggplant sizes–see below)
salt to taste

Slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch cubes. The best way to do this is to slice 1/2 inch segments from the eggplant, stack two at a time together, slice 1/2 inch segments all the way across, holding each segment as you go to preserve the shape of the plant, then rotate the whole thing 90 degrees and slice through again at about 1/2 inch intervals. Place the garlic and about two tablespoons of oil and sauté in a large-ish fry pan over medium-hot heat till beginning to brown. Add the eggplant and parsley and sauté for about 10 minutes until soft, adding olive oil (2-4 tablespoons) to coat the cubes as they cook, lightly salt if you wish. While that cooks, microwave the peppers, onions, and zucchini for 1-2 minutes each to start cooking and softening them, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 1-and-a-half to 2 qt. casserole and spread the softened eggplant in the bottom. Sprinkle a little salt over the layer and then a few tablespoons of the cheese. Then layer in the zucchini, onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, and top with the tomatoes, salting and covering each with some of the cheese. Bake in the oven for at least 45 minutes, but I usually leave it in an hour for a nice toasty appearance on the cheese. Serve with warm buttered french bread (naturally). One of my favorites!


bad Jim 12.31.20 at 9:42 am

I must confess that I don’t cook, and subsist on takeout and frozen meals.

One of the Mexican joints I frequent serves up two pieces of meat (carne asada or pork chops) with a dollop of guacamole and a side of beans and rice, and tortillas; some assembly required. I have only recently discovered that the optimal process is to consume all the soft things, frijoles and guacamole, pico de gallo and spicy salsa, wrapped together in the toothsome tortilla, and only then, or perhaps before, to disassemble the steak or chop with fork and knife in conventional fashion.

(Chile verde, however, demands that arroz be soaked in the meaty sauce and scooped into the tortilla, so one forks the frijoles.)

The downside of this sort of dining is having to wash face and hands before putting leftovers away.


e julius drivingstorm 01.01.21 at 3:29 am

One of my southern relatives smuggled walnuts instead of pecans into the sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows. The dish somehow came out light instead of dense and reminded me of the best Copenhagen Danish pastries. So I vote pastry.
In my family it’s called ‘eat it ’til you puke’ casserole, but there’s never enough to get us that far. To me, the sweet potato is not a go-to vegetable but it never disappoints – kinda like, you know, I coulda’ had a V8.


Dogen 01.01.21 at 4:28 pm

I love shallots and often grow them in my garden.

Here is an outline of a yummy recipe using them:

Slice a few shallots
Slice/chop some hazelnuts
Thin slice Brussels sprouts

Sauté in butter with salt n pepper. Can add some spice, or not, I sometimes add a little thyme.

Our stomachs are sensitive to undercooked cabbage-family veggies, so I microwave the Brussels sprouts ahead of time to soften them up.


J-D 01.01.21 at 9:07 pm

Is there anyone who hasn’t spent more time in the kitchen this year than usual?

That would be me (whatever your reason for asking).

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