On Memorial Day, most families are busy visiting cemeteries, attending parades and services and seeing relatives, leaving little if any time for a big celebration with food cooked over a grill or in the kitchen.
So why not aim for a Saturday or Sunday before Memorial Day event and just cook some family favorites or new or interesting dishes?
Since May is National Hamburger Month, Chef Bobby Flay has a recipe for a burger with mushrooms and cheddar that sound interesting.
SPECIAL COOKIE FOR SPECIAL DAY — Along with waving a flag for Memorial Day, baking and decorating these cookies would make the patriotic day special. A recipe for a cut-out sugar cookie made with powdered sugar, almond extract and cream of tartar is ideal for the holidays. Then the baker can go to work on the red, white and blue frosting designs. -- Contributed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
12 ounces assorted mushrooms, cremini, lobster, shiitake, coarsely chopped
1 shallot, finely diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck, 80/20 percent, or ground turkey, 90/10 percent
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 slices sharp Cheddar
4 hamburger buns, split and toasted, if desired
Heat oil and butter in a large cast-iron pan over high heat until almost smoking. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add diced shallot, some salt and pepper and cook until the mushrooms are golden brown, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in the parsley and thyme and transfer to a bowl. Divide meat into four equal portions, about 6 ounces each. Form each portion loosely into a 3/4-inch thick burger and make a deep depression in the center with your thumb. Brush both sides with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat a grill pan over high heat. Cook the burger until slightly charred on both sides and cooked to desired doneness. Add the cheese to the burgers during the last minute of cooking and cover with a basting cover or tent with foil. Top with a few large spoonfuls of mushrooms. Serve with the hamburger buns.
If you like barbecue sauce with your burgers, here is a homemade version that is quite tasty. It is from the Dobra 2 Cookbook of the Weirton Senior "R" Club, Chapter 58, and the Federated Russian Orthodox Club. It is from Kathy Kimmel.
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash salt and pepper
Dash barbecue salt
Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Grandchildren always want chicken tidbits. They might find these tasty but for sure the adults will enjoy them. It is also from the Dobra 2 Cookbook, with dobra meaning good in Czechoslovakian.
I'm thinking it means the same here. It is made in a Weight Watchers version by using reduced calorie orange marmalade, but I used the regular sweet kind. It is from Diane Rohal Taylor.
1/4 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
15 ounces skinned and boned chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
In medium mixing bowl, combine orange marmalade, soy sauce, ginger and garlic powder, mixing well. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes, tossing chicken again after 15 minutes. Transfer chicken pieces to rack in broiling pan and broil for 5 minutes. Turn chicken over and brush with any remaining marinade and broil until done, about 3 minutes longer.
Each serving provides 3 protein exchanges and 24 optional calories.
The Dobra 2 Cookbook notes that this recipe for cornbread was actually from General Lee. If it is that old, I am surprised that it doesn't call for lard rather than shortening, We are honoring Civil War veterans during Memorial Day, so this would be a good bread to observe the veterans who gave their lives for our country.
Civil War Corn Bread
3/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups corn meal
1 1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup melted shortening
Sift first four ingredients into a bowl. Add cornmeal, mixing well. combine eggs and milk in a small bowl, mixing well. Stir into flour mixture, blending well. Mix in shortening. Spoon into greased and floured 9-inch square pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Makes six servings.
This salad is prepared and layered in one-pint Mason jars. Each person gets a jar of salad to enjoy. The recipe is from Country Quick and Easy 2 Cookbook, given to me by a dear friend, Jane Agresta, about three years ago.
I just happened to notice this recipe and want to make it when family comes in.
I will likely use the smaller half pint jars though.
8-ounce container sour cream
3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
10-can tomatoes with chiles, drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups romaine lettuce, shredded
2 to 3 tomatoes, chopped
15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
15-ounce can corn, drained
1 sweet red onion, chopped
15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 red peppers, chopped
Garnish: Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Chopped green onions
Combine sour cream, cream cheese, tomatoes with chiles and cumin in a blender; process until smooth. Chill. Layer vegetables in order given among eight one-pint Mason jars. Spoon sour cream over top; sprinkle with shredded cheese and green onion. Cover and chill for an hour.
Thelma Pigan had this recipe for a potato dish that sounded good. It is from the Dobra 2 cookbook.
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into eighths
1/4 cup melted butter or oleo
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
Combine flour, cheese, salt and pepper in a bag. Moisten potatoes with water, shaking off excess. Shake a few at a time in the bag, coating well. Pour butter in a 13-by-9-inch pan. Place potatoes in pan in a single layer. Bake at 375 degrees for an hour, turning once. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.
A dinner always goes better if it starts with a flavorful and hearty soup, even on the hot end of May days. This comes from the Quick and Easy 2 Cookbook.
1/4 pound bacon
1 onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
8 cups chicken broth, divided
4 redskin potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons flour
16-ounce bag frozen corn
1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream or whipping cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook bacon in a stockpot over medium heat until crisp. Set aside, leaving drippings in pot. Add and saute onion and celery until tender. Add 7 cups chicken broth, potatoes and bay leaf. Boil until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Combine remaining broth and flour in a plastic zipping bag; shake until smooth. Pour into potato mixture; stir in corn, cream, salt and pepper. Cook until heated through; add bacon. Discard bay leaf before serving. Makes four to six servings.
Note: To make this soup even heartier, stir in some cooked, chopped chicken breast.
These cut-out sugar cookies are from Annette Savastone in the Dobra 2 Cookbook. Decorate as you wish or leave plain. They are great either way.
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup softened margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Mix powdered sugar, margarine, vanilla, almond extract and egg. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours. Roll on lightly floured board. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 7 to 8 minutes. Frost or use sprinkles on top. Makes 5 dozen.
Powdered Sugar Icing
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk or orange juice.
In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, vanilla and milk or juice. Stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until icing reaches spreading consistency.
Now for a bit of old-fashioned caramels, just like grandma made. They are from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional
1 cup butter
16-ounce package brown sugar, 2 1/4 cups packed
2 cups half -and-half or light cream
1 cup light-colored corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Butter the foil. If desired, sprinkle walnuts over bottom of pan. Set pan aside. In a 3-quart heavy saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add brown sugar, half-and-half and corn syrup; mix well. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Reduce heat to medium. Continue boiling mixture at a moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently, until thermometer registers 248 degrees, firm-ball stage, about 45 to 60 minutes. Adjust heat as necessary to maintain a steady boil. Remove pan from heat and remove thermometer. Stir in vanilla. Quickly pour mixture into prepared pan. When firm, use foil to lift candy out of pan. Use a buttered knife to cut into 1-inch squares. Wrap each caramel in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Store for up to 2 weeks.
Note: For a shortcut, prepare as above, except substitute a 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk, 1 1/4 cups, for the half-and-half. This mixture will take less time to reach 248 degrees F., about 15 to 20 minutes instead of 45 to 60 minutes.
(McCoy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)