Friday, May 26, 2023

Ina Gets It Done Again

Ina's flag cake deserves its own post. It is a true classic. You can find the recipe here.

I did make some changes. I wasn't entertaining hundreds of people at my pre-Memorial Day barbecue last weekend, so I opted to make the cake in a 9" by 13" dish instead of the half sheet pan that Ina uses. And I used an old favorite recipe - The Joy of Cooking's fabulous White Cake. It's not my recipe to give, but email me if you want me to send it to you. 
I also did not need boatloads of icing (well maybe 1/2 a boatload), so I used 3/4's of Ina's Cream Cheese Icing recipe. Quick! What is three quarters of 1 1/2 lbs of cream cheese?*
It IS a pain to figure out three quarters of one pound of confectioner's sugar (still with me?) in cups** (or 12 oz.), so I did weigh that.  

One other wrinkle. My star nozzle was bent and wonky, so I had to redo the stars part of the flag cake. Instead of the top left of the cake having Ina's blue background with white stars, I ended up with a white icing background and blue stars...which meant more icing though! 👍👍👍

Forgetting The Slaw, Bits and Bobs for Your Memorial Day Barbecue And Warm Honey Is The Only Way To Go…

I always make too much food for big barbecues. The proof is that I don’t even notice when I invariably leave a dish or two in the back of the fridge. Luckily, of course, no one misses what wasn’t served. 

For some reason, it’s often the slaw. I remember a long time ago, we had a big family barbecue with H(usband)’s grandparents in attendance. We were cleaning up the kitchen in anticipation of whatever I was planning to overserve for dessert and I found the red cabbage slaw in the back of the fridge. Big Mom Mom instantly said, “Never mind, we’ll have it now.” And the whole family was directed to have little bowls of red cabbage cole slaw before anyone could have dessert. (Grandmothers are the best!💓💓💓)

Last weekend in a prelim Memorial Day barbecue, I was so excited to make Smitten Kitchen’s absolutely divine sounding Mango Slaw

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Blanched Broccoli And Grated Garlic

This is a fun way to cook broccoli. I blanch the whole head with the stem attached, peel it and THEN cut it into stalks. This way it can relax in the frying pan early in the day and it’s all ready for its final spin in olive oil and garlic just before serving. 

>Jump To Sautéed Broccoli with Grated Garlic

Pick nice, firm, fat green heads. The florets should be dark green and tight.


Saturday, May 13, 2023

Stroganoff And How To Get The Most Out Of Your Mushrooms

Whenever I have extra sour cream in the house, I like to make Stroganoff.
I think of Stroganoff as a mixture of cooked mushrooms and onions, sprinkled with a little flour, deglazed with sherry and turned into a truly delicious sour cream sauce, with or without protein. I always serve it over egg noodles, and, for some reason, I always have to make this wonderful medley of cooked-forever red cabbage, onions and apple

I use lots and lots of mushrooms. That's probably the hardest part of this recipe - slicing all those mushrooms!  But they cook down so much that I never regret using them all. Sometimes I add beef or chicken. (To me, the protein is kind of incidental.) 

The main flavor of this dish comes from sweating the onions till they’re soft, soft, soft. And then cooking the mushrooms as all good mushrooms like to be cooked - on a medium high heat without stirring until they’re browned (initially without salt, which inhibits the browning). The hardest part of this recipe is slicing all those mushrooms. It seems like too many, but they do cook down a lot.

Here are my top mushroom tips:

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Crown The Day With This Savory Tomato Jarlsberg Quiche

There's nothing really British about this recipe, except that it's adapted from a London Cordon Bleu recipe. Does that count?

This is my favorite quiche. It’s good for brunch, lunch or anytime during a coronation. It has just a few ingredients, but that’s why it’s important to treat them carefully to get the maximum amount of flavor. For example, we want the onions softened and not browned, which will make them sweeter. Another little trick – add parsley and salt to the eggs, as well as the tomato mixture.

>Jump to Savory Tomato Jarlsberg Quiche

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Cooking School and Coronation Chicken

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times - going to cooking school in London in the late 1970’s. The good - cooking every single day for 9 months. I’m still convinced after all these years that the only way to properly learn pastry and other finicky cooking techniques is under the watchful eye of a teacher or chef at close hand. The bad - those same teachers were not kind, especially to the foreigners, i.e. non-British, among us, which certainly included me. 

There were 40 women in our program. No men allowed, because they had other options like apprenticeships, which were not freely given to women then. About a quarter of the class were foreigners, and we all bonded together in reaction to the rather snotty and witchy treatment by the teachers…and the other students. I shouldn’t have been too bothered by this, because I was a good four years older than these 18 year old privileged Englishwomen who came to the Cordon Bleu instead of going to university. 

I had applied to the Cordon Bleu on a whim while I was in graduate school in London. (There was no negativity there and there were gobs of foreigners.) The CB people laughed when I first contacted them in January. They said people have been on our waiting list since they were babies. Funnily enough, in July or August (I suppose when the money was due), they contacted me and said we have a place if you still want one. And so there I was.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023


Sheet pan meals are all the rage, even if that movie didn't do too well. Everybody's doing them. The young - Half Baked Harvest's Teighan has tons of fabulous ideas and recipesthe wise - some of Martha Stewart's recipes are HERE (AND she sells the actual SHEET PANS too); and the divine - Nigella's sheet pan chicken and peas is SO good. 

Long ago, I started my own version of sheet pan meals by throwing everything on a foil-lined baking sheet whenever a recipe called for skewering ingredients. It was easier and quicker, but more importantly, things cooked more evenly on all sides than when they were crammed together on a skewer. And now sheet-panning is a real thing. 

Apricot and Mustard Sheet Pan Chicken

>Jump to Apricot and Mustard Sheet Pan Chicken

>Jump to Lemon Garlic Sheet Pan Chicken

Sue on...Sue on Food

Hi y’all! It’s been a minute. I took a break from blogging for quite a while, but I've been itching to get back to it. (Sometimes it felt like writing about food during a deadly pandemic and such huge changes to our body politic seemed a little insignificant.) But we’ve all been cooking more than ever and there is a lot to talk about. I've missed that. 

I needed a new name for my blog. Food Network Musings didn’t really fit anymore, since I don’t watch the Food Network that much. I do dip in occasionally - but the purpose of the blog is the same: to share ideas, recipes and thoughts about food and cooking. And, gosh, I spend a lot of time thinking about food, so I settled on Sue on Food. 

Probably like you, I get recipes from all over the place – websites, magazines, real people, television…wherever. But no matter where they come from, there's one constant - I almost never follow a recipe as written. I can't help myself. I've been cooking for a long time and I just know what works and what doesn’t and what the ideal way is to treat certain ingredients, so it’s virtually impossible for me leave a recipe unchanged.

Here's an example. Whenever I use warm spices in a recipe – the common ones - cumin, coriander, turmeric, chili, curry powder, paprika and their variations, no matter what the recipe says, I always cook them in oil over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes (often after softening onions) to get rid of their rawness. It makes a wonderful base for other ingredients.  

For something as simple as a curry mayonnaise (look for my Coronation Chicken recipe later in the week), you might see a recipe that has plain curry powder stirred into mayonnaise. No! Take a little extra time to dice up a bit of onion, cook it until soft in olive oil, and THEN add the curry powder and stir over low heat for 3 minutes. After it’s cooled a little, stir it into the mayo (with a bit of fresh lime juice) and you really have something! OR instead of the curry powder, use your favorite chili powder in the same way (don’t forget the lime juice) and go to town as a dip for barely blanched cauliflower and broccoli… 

Even though I can’t help myself from changing things up, I do leave baking recipes intact…mostly. AND, even though I think I know everything (and believe me I really don’t!), at the same time, I love recipes that give me different ideas and act as guides to a new way of approaching things. Maybe it's a new ingredient or a combination I hadn't thought of or a new cooking method. 

That’s what’s so fun about cooking - all the twists and turns of what's possible in the kitchen, AND, of course, gabbing with people about their favorite recipes. Hopefully, I’ll see you back here. Welcome to Sue on Food!