The Good Home Cookbook (Collectors Press, Fall 2006) is a landmark cookbook that compiles tried and true American favorite recipes. Key to the book's success is the more than 1,000 people currently participating in the first ever national public recipe testing campaign.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Boston Baked Beans--get ready for spring!

This is the real deal. Soaking the beans overnight will prevent them from busting and turning to mush. Enjoy...

Boston Baked Beans
Boston is called Beantown because beans slow-baked in molasses have been a favorite Boston dish since colonial days, when the city was a major producer of rum. Sugar cane harvested by slaves in the West Indies was turned into molasses and shipped to Boston to be made into rum, which was then sent to West Africa to buy more slaves to send to the West Indies. Even after slavery's end, Boston continued to be a big rum-producing city. The traditional accompaniment is Boston Brown Bread, which is also flavored with molasses.

Serves 6

2 cups (1 pound) dried navy beans, debris removed, soaked overnight, and drained
3/4 pound salt pork, diced
1 medium onion
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 1/2 cups boiling water, plus more as needed

1. Cover the beans with cold water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes; drain.
2. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
3. Put half of the salt pork on the bottom of a bean pot or large casserole, along with the onion. Add the beans and put the remaining salt pork on top.
4. Mix the molasses, brown sugar, mustard, salt, and pepper with 3 1/2 cups boiling water in a small bowl and pour over the beans. The beans should be covered with liquid. If not, add more boiling water. Cover the pot with a lid.
5. Bake for 6 hours, checking periodically and adding boiling water as needed to keep the beans moist; do not flood them. If the beans become too soupy, remove the lid to encourage evaporation. Serve hot.

TIP: To make the beans Vermont style, replace the molasses with pure maple syrup. You can also adjust the seasonings with more salt, pepper, and onion.

Monday, February 13, 2006

One pot, 40 minutes, and supper is served

The dish has been made in homes across the country for generations. It's got that hearty homecooked taste that most of us can relate to. We ate it often as a kid.

Stovetop Macaroni and Beef
Into the great melting pot of America went Italian home cooking and out came something streamlined and fast for the busy cook. This dish requires only one pot and about 40 minutes to make from start to finish, though it doesn’t take any shortcuts on good ingredients—browned beef, green bell pepper, tomatoes, garlic, and plenty of melted cheese.

Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper
2 cups elbow macaroni
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1/2 pound)

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the beef, onion, and bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is browned, about 15 minutes. Drain off any liquid.
2. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the macaroni, cover the pan, and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the macaroni is tender.
3. Stir in the cheeses. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Serve immediately.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Muffuletta--a newly tested classic sandwich!

This is an unusual preparation and well worth the trouble.

The New Orleans muffuletta is a hero sandwich created at the Central Grocery in 1906. A round loaf of Italian bread is filled with ham, salami, cheese, pickles, and a mixture called olive salad.

Serves 4

Olive salad:
1/2 cup chopped pimento-stuffed green olives
1/2 cup chopped pitted brine-cured black olives, such as Kalamata
1/4 cup minced roasted red pepper
1/4 cup minced pepperoncini (Italian pickled peppers)
1/3 cup minced celery
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 (10-inch) round loaf Italian bread, sliced horizontally
1/4 pound thinly sliced mortadella or cooked ham
1/4 pound thinly sliced Genoa salami
1/4 pound thinly sliced provolone cheese

1. To make the olive salad, combine the olives, red pepper, pepperoncini, celery, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and pepper in a medium bowl. Toss with a fork to mix well, then cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
2. To make the sandwiches, remove most of the soft inner part of the bread and discard it (or use to make bread crumbs for another dish).
3. Drain the olive salad, reserving the marinade. Brush the marinade on the inside of the bread, top and bottom.
4. On the bottom half of the bread, layer the mortadella, salami, and cheese. Top with the olive salad and cover with the top half of the bread. Wrap the loaf tightly in plastic wrap and weight it down with a heavy plate. Set the loaf aside at room temperature for 30 minutes, or refrigerate for up to 6 hours.
5. To serve, remove the plastic wrap and cut the loaf into wedges.