Nina Gilbert’s Favorite Recipes, page 2

My recipes page is too long, so I’m adding this second page and cross-indexing. You can get to any recipe on either page from the index on each page.

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Vegetarian entrees (including salads and appetizers)
Broccoli Bread Pudding
Eggplant Flan
French Toast Spinach Casserole
Manti in Raita (that is, ravioli in yogurt with cucumber and garlic)
Beet latkes with horseradish cream
Cabbage Pesto
Brie Vinaigrette(a hot dressing for salad greens)
Potato-Stilton Soup (comfort food adored by people at all levels of sophistication)
Pumpkin Lasagna

Distinctive desserts
Pumpkin Granola Cheesecake (actually a breakfast recipe, but still an impressive dessert)
Champagne Mousse
Triple Chocolate Sabra Espresso Brownies (for grownups)
Comfort-Food Brownies (for kids or grown-ups)
S’More Fondue
Peanut Butter and Jelly Fondue
Mocha Milkshake Punch
Coconut Macaroon-oids
Ton-O-Mint Sorbet (for using up mint!)
Ice Cream Flavors (list of flavors, not recipes)

Silly candy (astonishingly good, embarrassingly easy)
Matza Toffee
Chocolate Potato-Chip Crunch
Condensed-Milk-Classic Squares
Coconut Mashed-Potato Fudge
Beer-and-pretzel truffles

Recipes based on College Music Society presentations
Recipes from Cooking Sessions in Lafayette College residence halls
The Dan Weiss Inaugural Truffle



Adapted from: Mario Batali, Holiday Food: Family Recipes for the Most Festive Time of the Year (New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2000). Book calls these “Potato pizzas” and makes them six inches in diameter and serves them with some fancy stew. All ingredients are approximate. 

Cook and then mash (book specifies boiling and ricing; I think leaving the mashed potatoes lumpy is more interesting):
Four pounds of potatoes (book specifies russet); my preference is not to peel them, but to cut the peel into palatable-size bits

Once it’s cooled, mix in:
1 1/2 cups ricotta (whole-milk ricotta has best flavor for this recipe)
1 cup (or more) strong-flavored provolone cheese, grated (coarsely, I’d say)
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (book specifies Italian, but regular curly should work too for a slightly different flavor)
freshly ground pepper (black, white, or green, depending on your mood)

Shape into whatever size and shape you’d like—cocktail-balls, burgers, bigger flats—and name the result accordingly. (Yum! Potato pucks!)

Grate into crumbs:
whole wheat bread

Dredge your puckburgers in the crumbs so they get nicely coated. Fry in olive oil. I recommend Spanish olive oil for best flavor, unless there’s something else that goes better with whatever else you’re serving.

These can be served immediately, or reheated in conventional or microwave oven.

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Cabbage Pesto

Adapted from: Jonathan Reynolds, “Cabbage Fever,” in The New York Times Magazine, July 22, 2001, page 56; that version is already adapted from Faith Willinger, Red, White and Greens: The Italian Way With Vegetables (New York: HarperCollins, 1996). Astonishing and mysterious!

Cut into one-inch wedges and cook until barely tender (steam, boil, or microwave):
1/2 green cabbage

If you have cooking water from this process, reserve that water and then cool the cabbage by rinsing with cold tap water.
Puree in a blender or food processor with:
4 cloves’ worth of garlic
1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
3/4 cup olive oil (I recommend Spanish olive oil for best flavor)

That’s it! If you need it thinner, you can add some of the cabbage cooking water, if you have any. Original recipe included salt to taste.
I think it would be worth experimenting with different vegetables, cheeses, and oils.

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Classic Condensed-Milk Squares

Sometimes called “Seven-Layer Cookies.”

Preheat oven to 350° F.

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter

Stir in:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with foil, and butter the foil. Press the graham-cracker-crumb mixture into that.

Sprinkle with:
1 1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut (usually nice even for people who don’t like coconut!)
2 cups mixed chocolate-chip-type things, such as milk chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, M&Ms, etc.—your choice
1 cup chopped nuts (mixed nuts, possibly “lightly salted,” are especially lovely here, but any single kind or combination works)

Pour in a thin, slow stream to cover the whole surface:
1 fourteen-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Back 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Cool in the pan, then lift the foil out of the pan and cut into squares. Makes about 28. Don’t panic if the squares are practically falling apart as you cut them. Squish them a little and refrigerate them, and they’ll set nicely.

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Brie Vinaigrette

Adapted from: Culinary Arts: Recipe collections from Society of the Arts of Allentown Art Museum, vol. II (Allentown, Pennsylvania, 1991); also in Terese Allen, Fresh Market Wisconsin (Amherst Press, 1993). Both books call this “Charlemagne salad with hot brie dressing,” and their salad is one head each of curly endive, iceberg lettuce, and Romaine, plus garlic croutons.

All quantities are flexible.

Saute in heavy skillet:
about 1/2 cup olive oil (I recommend Spanish olive oil for best flavor)
at least 4 teaspoons minced shallots
about 2 teaspoons minced garlic

Once it’s soft and translucent, stir in:
about 1/2 cup sherry vinegar (same quantity as you used of olive oil)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (squeezing it fresh right out of the lemon makes a difference here)
about 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Trim the rinds from:
10 ounces brie

Cut the brie into small pieces and stir it into the still-gently-sauteing mixture until it melts.

Season with:
freshly ground black pepper (tellicherry is best for this)
Toss while hot with:
salad greens: best if the greens have lots of flavor, like arugula, endive, mesclun mix, etc. I used lentil sprouts, but no onions in this salad.

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Beet latkes with horseradish cream

Adapted from: Susan Simon, The Nantucket Holiday Table (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000), where the beet latkes are called “root vegetable latkes” and include parsnips and carrots but no beets;
and: Jayne Cohen, The Gefilte Variations (New York: Scribner, 2000), where the horseradish cream appears as part of a fish recipe.

Grate into a sieve (over a bowl, so you catch the liquid):
1 1/2 pounds russet-type potatoes (I didn’t peel them)

In another large bowl (no sieve), grate:
1 pound of beets (didn’t peel them either; do use fresh raw beets, not canned)

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
handful matza meal (recipe says 3 tablespoons; I needed more)
freshly ground pepper to taste (recipe said 1 teaspoon salt; I didn’t use)

Go back to the potatoes in the sieve, and squeeze them by handfuls.

Add the squeezed potatoes to the beets.

Remove the sieve from the bowl and pour off the potato liquid (down the drain). Scrape the starch from the bowl and add it to the potato-beet mixture.

Add and mush around:
2 eggs (I recommend organic eggs for best flavor)

See if a small handful of this (say, 1/4 cup worth) can hold together like a pancake. If not, add another egg, and, if necessary, more matza meal.

Heat in skillet:
1/2 inch vegetable oil (I recommend mixing peanut and Spanish olive)

Shape the beet latkes; fry until you sense dark/gold on the bottom; flip and fry the other side. Drain on paper towels. May be kept warm on a baking sheet in a 200-degree oven.

Horseradish Cream
You can make this the night before, but beyond that it loses flavor.

Peel, glup-and-discard seeds from, and finely dice:
1 cucumber

Put cucumber in a sieve and sprinkle with:
about 1/4 teaspoon salt

Let it stand and drip over the sink for at least ten minutes; squeeze out as much liquid as possible. I also rinsed off the salt, and squeezed out the liquid again.

Mix cucumber in a small bowl with:
1 cup yogurt cream or sour cream (see below for yogurt cream instructions) about 1 teaspon minced garlic at least 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill bottled white horseradish: cookbook says 1 tablespoon, but I think I tripled that—taste it!
freshly ground black pepper—tellicherry is great for this recipe

Serve at room temperature.

How to make yogurt cream
(regular yogurt is too watery for this recipe, according to the cookbook): Basically you’re draining liquid whey from yogurt for about two hours.
Spoon the yogurt into this contraption. To get one cup of yogurt cream, you should start with 2 cups of yogurt. Probably best with whole milk yogurt. Let it drain 30 minutes to two hours—watch until it looks like a good consistency.

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Potato-Stilton Soup

Adapted from: Susan Simon, The Nantucket Holiday Table (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000). A virtuosically versatile cookbook—top-notch recipes in several categories. Special equipment: A stick blender is very nice but not absolutely essential—it lets you puree the soup in the pot. Ingredient note: Simon’s recipe calls for light chicken broth; my magic ingredient is Rapunzel brand Vegan Vegetable Bouillon (“Organic Vegetables With Herbs” flavor). I find Rapunzel bouillon at Wegman’s ($1.99 for 8 two-cup cubes), but I also see it online at
Vegan Essentials for $2.99, and
Organics at Home for $4.25.

Melt in your soup pot:
Two tablespoons butter
Two tablespoons olive oil (Spanish extra-virgin oil is best for this)

Saute until translucent:
1 big onion, coarsely chopped (good-flavored Spanish onion is best)
2 or 3 big ribs of celery, coarsely chopped

While it’s sauteing, scrub and cube:
1 1/4 pounds Russet-type potatoes(or more; figure 2-3 potatoes depending on your mood)

Once the onions and celery are sauteed, add the cubed (unpeeled) potatoes and:
6 cups light vegetable stock (see Ingredient Note above)

Simmer at least 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are soft enough to blend easily.

Now you get to feel smug if you have a stick (wand) blender. Turn off the heat and puree the soup. If you have a stick blender, you can do this in the pot. If not, cool the soup and puree it in two-cup batches in your blender. Then return it to the pot and add:
1/2 cup heavy cream
at least 1/4 pound Stilton cheese (more is better), crumbled

Reheat the soup until the cheese melts. Meanwhile, grind in:
black pepper to taste (tellicherry peppercorns have best flavor for this)

Serve the soup sprinkled with:
freshly snipped chives

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Adapted from: Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, Joy of Cooking (Indianapolis and New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1975). The old edition—there’s a similar recipe in the new Joy, but the old one is better. Mostly my adaptation is whole wheat flour and extra spices.

Preheat oven to 325° F., and grease at least one cookie sheet.
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
2 cups sugar

Mix in until uniform:
2 eggs (organic for best flavor)
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
2 teaspoons vinegar (choose an interesting vinegar for rich-tasting results)

Mix in until well-blended (you can sift first in a separate bowl if you’re a perfectionist):
3 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (pastry flour is especially good but not essential)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 rounded tablespoon of ginger
1 scant tablespoon of cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) cloves
1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) allspice
1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) cardamom
Note: spice amounts are approximate. I haven’t seen my actual measuring spoons in months.

Shape into balls, about 1/2 inch to 1 inch in diameter. Bake about 12 minutes. Makes about a jillion cookies (theoretically 10 dozen).

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Coconut Mashed-Potato Fudge

Adapted from: Susan Simon, The Nantucket Holiday Table (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000). If you do an Internet search on “potato fudge,” you find several similar recipes, many claiming copyright by assorted folkloric 80-something women who each invented this recipe around 1947.

Cook (boil or microwave), peel, and thoroughly mash:
1 medium potato (about 5 ounces)

Stir in:
1 pound confectioners sugar

Then stir in:
1 1/2 cups firmly packed shredded coconut (the fluffy commercial kind, not unsweetened)

Dust an 8-inch square baking pan with:
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Spread the potato mixture in the pan. Let sit while you deal with the chocolate.
Melt in a saucepan or microwave:
About 4 ounces chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli double chocolate for this); more is good
1 tablespoon vanilla
If the chocolate seizes, add teaspoons of butter and melt in until the texture improves. Some versions of this recipe have the vanilla in the potato instead of in the chocolate.

Spread the melted chocolate over the potato mixture. Cool until set. Cut into squares.

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Pumpkin Lasagna

Also adapted from: Susan Simon, The Nantucket Holiday Table (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000). Normally I wouldn’t cite the same book so many times, but this book has an exceptionally high percentage of brilliant recipes. Go buy a copy! Then you can learn about root-vegetable latkes, roasted sweet-potato salad, cranberry shortcakes, pureed chickpea soup, and other astonishing goodies. Disclaimer: I have no financial connection to this book, but I’d sure like to see the author encouraged to write more. Also, these recipes are adapted, not exactly quoted, so please don’t blame Susan Simon if you don’t like my versions.

Melt in a big, heavy frying pan:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil ( “pure” is fine—extra-virgin is okay but unnecessary; I found some Turkish olive oil with a nice bright flavor for this)

Saute until translucent:
1 onion, coarsely chopped (think about what kind of onion you want to flavor this dish)

Reduce heat and add
1 cup dry white vermouth (French is the best, and there’s a brand that begins with B that’s better than Noilly Pratt—I’ll name the brand here when I remember—Briossaise? Boissieuse?)
3 cups cubed, steamed pumpkin or winter squash (I cheated and used canned pumpkin once, and that was the best; kaboka squash is also quite wonderful)

While that simmers, set up a saucepan and melt:
2 more tablespoons of butter or nice-tasting olive oil

Stir in and cook for three minutes:
2 rounded tablespoons flour (spelt flour is especially smooth, but any sort of flour is fine)

Add and keep stirring:
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon nutmeg (fresh-grated makes a difference; you don’t need a nutmeg grater, because the smallest holes on a regular grater are fine)
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (I recommend telicherry peppercorns for most interesting flavor)
(book adds a teaspoon of salt; I don’t)

Stir until it thickens slightly (a little thicker than buttermilk), and combine with the pumpkin mixture and remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously butter an 11-by-7 1/2-by-2-inch baking dish. Cover bottom with:
Cooked lasagna noodles (I recommend whole wheat)

1/2 inch of pumpkin mixture
small handful (two tablespoons, more or less) freshly grated parmesan cheese (grate on large holes)
more noodles, more pumpkin, more parmesan
ditto, until you’re out of pumpkin
end with noodles and parmesan

Grate over the top, through large holes:
about a tablespoon of butter

At this point you could pause and refrigerate the lasagna overnight if necessary.

Cover with foil and bake (remember, you were preheating the oven to 350) about 15 minutes.
Uncover and bake another 15 minutes—sides should be bubbly and top should be turning golden. Note that this is lasagna—you could bake it longer at a lower temperature if necessary, and it would forgive you. It’s also forgiving of approximate quantities of ingredients. Serve hot.

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Pumpkin Granola Cheesecake
One 9- or 10-inch cheesecake, serves 8-12 depending on whether it’s a meal, snack, or dessert

Adapted from: Linda Burum, The Junk Food Alternative: High-Nutrient Snacks, Desserts and Quick Meals (San Francisco: 101 Productions, 1980). Note: this is two recipes, one for crust and one for filling. You can mix-and-match. This is a high-protein breakfast recipe. And it’s very flexible and forgiving—you can substitute ingredients, adjust quantities, and even slightly over- or under-bake it, and you’ll still have a lovely pumpkin cheesecake. Ingredient note: recipe originally called for honey or brown sugar; I get the best results with maple syrup, and I have recently discovered which has the best maple syrup I have ever tasted.

Granola Crumb Crust

Note: this is theoretically a double recipe, but I am not coordinated enough to spread it any thinner and the thick crust is part of the fun. So this is the quantity I use for one ten-inch cheesecake.

Melt together in a large saucepan:
1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick; you could substitute margarine, but it won’t taste as good)
6 tablespoons honey or brown sugar or maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350°.

Back at the saucepan on medium heat, stir in:
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (optional; I left that out)
1 cup wheat germ (raw or toasted, but it should be plain and unsweetened)
1/2 cup chopped nuts or unsalted sunflower seeds (I used unsalted roast cashews, chopped unsalted roast sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds with their hulls still on; you could make this nut-free with more seeds, including pumpkin)
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk (ideally non-instant, but instant is what I used)
generous pinch of cardamom (optional; I wouldn’t use cardamom with maple syrup)

Stir over medium heat for about three minutes to mush things up a bit.

Let cool slightly, while you prepare your cheesecake pan: line the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with foil or baking parchment, and then butter the bottom and sides of the pan. The foil/parchment isn’t essential, but it makes life easier.

Press mixture into bottom and sides of pan, working it up the sides.

Bake 8-10 minutes, until it starts to brown and gets a little toasty-looking. Cool thoroughly.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling

Have a cheesecake crust ready, such as the recipe above. Preheat oven to 325° F .

Puree in a blender:
2 1/2 cups cottage cheese (I recommend not low-fat, for better flavor)

Beat in:
1 three-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature (Philadelphia brand is far superior to generic)

Have ready:
3 eggs (I recommend organic eggs for best flavor)

Separate two of the eggs. Blend the two yolks plus one whole egg into the cheese mixture.

Mix in:
1 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup packed brown sugar or honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (note: that’s actually double what the recipe says; if you’d prefer it not to be so spicy, reduce it back to 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or more; again that’s actually doubled)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (ditto)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (ditto)
pinch of cloves and allspice if you happen to have them; ditto cardamom

—or you can halve the spices back to normal if you want this milder.

Beat the 2 egg whites until they form stiff peaks, and fold them into the cheese mixture.

Put into crust. Bake about 50 minutes. Cake may not seem quite firm. On the other hand, this recipe can forgive slight overbaking.

Cool in the pan on a rack (so air can circulate and cool the bottom). Refrigerate overnight. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

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Coconut Macaroon-oids

Adapted from: 100 Best Cookies 2004 (Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications, previously published as Christmas Cookies 2002).  So this is a Passover recipe from a Christmas cookbook.

Makes 24 crunchy gooey blobs. Gluten-free! (Please check your ingredients to be sure they’re really gluten-free, if that’s important.)

Preheat oven to 325° F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.

Stir together :
1 seven-ounce package sweetened flaked coconut (2 2/3 cups)
2 tablespoons potato starch (or cornstarch if it doesn’t need to be kosher for Passover)
optional: generous pinch of cardamom or other spices to taste

Stir in:
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla (optional; leave out for Passover)

Stir in:
1/2 cup or more mini chocolate chips or something similar—chopped dried fruit, nuts, bittersweet chocolate, all-of-the-above, perhaps more than 1/2 cup

Roll into little balls, if possible, or mound rounded teaspoonfuls on the lined cookie sheet about an inch apart. Bake about 15 minutes—bottoms and coconut-points will turn light brown and crunchy.

Slide parchment, with cookies on it, off the cookie sheet onto a rack to cool.

Theoretically you can store these in an airtight container in layers separated by wax paper—three days at room temperature or three months frozen. I haven’t had a batch last 24 hours yet, so the storage question is moot.

Once you understand the basic architecture, you could add a tablespoon of Passover wine (instead of vanilla), and use chopped walnuts and dried fruit and call these charoses macaroons.

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Beer-and-Pretzel Truffles

Adapted from barleywine bonbons. That recipe is supposed to make three dozen truffles. Either that’s a typo, or someone likes oversize truffles. I think this recipe makes about 80. Note: the filling needs a day or two to set before coating. So while this recipe is easy, it’s not a last-minute item. And it gives you that horrible problem of having to dispose of nearly a cup of leftover beer.

First, make the ganache (filling). You’re going to make two chocolate liquids and combine them.

Stir and whisk until smooth:
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup beer (preferably an interesting local beer)
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I recommend Valrhona cocoa or Scharffen Berger)
Strain into heavy saucepan; bring to a simmer. While it’s heating, place in two bowls:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, in one bowl
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, in another bowl (or any container; it can also just sit and wait on your cutting board)

When the beer mixture begins to simmer, pour it into the 8 ounces chopped chocolate and stir until chocolate melts.

Melt (could be in same saucepan, if you’ve poured out the beer mixture):

4 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

Heat butter until it barely begins to bubble. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 4 ounces chopped chocolate. Stir until chocolate melts. Gently stir the melted butter mixture into the beer mixture. Continue stirring until smooth and glossy.

Pour the ganache into a 9x9x2 glass pan (or equivalent; could be lined with parchment paper or foil), and let cool at room temperature. When cooled, cover and chill 1 to 2 days.

To form centers, cut ganache into little blocks and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. If the ganache is too soft to dip into warm chocolate, you can freeze the ganache squares for about six hours and dip them frozen. And if square truffles are too weird and you want to spend extra time and get your hands all chocolatey, you can roll the squares into little balls.

To finish truffles, dip in:

melted chocolate (white or dark or a mixture; good quality is important); plan on 2 pounds of chocolate for this recipe

Sprinkle with :

crushed pretzels

Chill uncovered for 6 hours on a parchment-lined, pretzel-crumb-sprinkled baking sheet. Then you can pack them in candy cups or heap them on a serving plate. Theoretically you can store them refrigerated for three weeks. Allow to come to room temperature for serving.

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Copyright note: I have adapted all these recipes into my own words (which I am not copyrighting, though I hope you’ll tell people where you found them). Lists of ingredients are in the public domain.

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Updated December 11, 2005

E-mail Nina Gilbert