Thursday, March 3, 2016

Funeral Potatoes, A Hashbrown Casserole to Die For!

Now this is about as Americana a recipe as you can get. But I'll tell you what, there is nothing quite as addictive as this stuff. I mean creamy, fatty, delicious potatoes drowned in a rich sauce that just makes you happy.

This recipe has been done by so many ladies all over the country for years and years with small variations in each individual recipe. I think it's one of those recipes that's made an appearance in every ladies auxilary organization and church cookbook from Florida to Alaska. And hashbrown casserole makes it's appearance on holiday tables, dinner tables and even on the Cracker Barrel restaurant menus. It's a comforting, homey and delicious dish, which is why it probably has the name it has and is associated with a time in life when comfort is high on the menu.

I made this for some friends for a dinner this winter with some short ribs. Boy, was that a wintery comforting meal. So here's my version cream of mushroom soup and all. Enjoy.

Funeral Potatoes ( Hashbrown Casserole)
 Serves 4 to 6 people


1 lb bag shredded hashbrowns
1 can mushroom soup (Campbell's)
1 cup dairy sour cream
3/4 cup milk plus a little more if too thick
12 oz of shredded yellow cheddar cheese
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon Aromat ( German seasoning salt, you could use Amino Acid Liquid Seasoning, this is my little addition to this recipe)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground Mace or Nutmeg
Crunchy onions as topping
Salt and pepper to taste


Divide the cheese leaving 4 ounces to top the casserole
Mix everything together in a large mixing bowl stirring well to combine, adding more milk if mixture is too thick. Should be pourable but not runny.
Pour into a 9x9 baking dish
Heat oven to 350 degrees
Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and some paprika for color
Bake covered with foil for 35 minutes then uncovered and place back in the oven for 15 minutes more or until the top is browned slightly

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Magic Pan's Cheese Fritters with Dipping Sauce Recipe

So one of the greatest summers I ever had as a college student was spent working at the Magic Pan restaurant. The Magic Pan was the upscale San Francisco based eatery which had spread out as a national chain in the 1970's and 80's and capitalized on the crepe craze which was evocative of the 1970's fascination with new and trendy foods from Europe and other world cuisines.

Each location was different and had a unique look. But the one staple as well as the one thing that was most memorable was the giant spinning wheel of gas jets over which rotated specially constructed upside down saute pans dipped in crepe batter cooking hundreds of crepes and later in the chains life also serving as a cooking platform for "sauteed" Entrees such as chicken marsala and sesame chicken.

My best friend from high school and I Kai Larsen got jobs there our junior year of college and had a blast working, making really great money and also playing at the beach and all over northern Virginia. It was a summer of fun.

Of course a great deal of it was taken up with the work part. But we didn't mind because the crew we were a part of was awesome. We were 2 of 5 summer employees at the Pan. The rest were all full timers. They were so because for a restaurant job the Pan was a very lucrative place to work. Full all the time it was the favorite of the boozy ladies who lunch of Northern Virginia and young turks taking their dates out on the town for an impressive meal. Families and single ladies in groups all favored the Pan. Quite upscale for the time it had a "She She Fa Fa" reputation for being the place to be. Well that was while the food trends lasted and more and newer competitors were not sucking the customer base away. Which was the end of the Pan.

But this was the 80's and the Pan was still flying high. So for a cash job it was excellent as a student. I loved that summer and really have to say it was the most fun I ever had in a service job.

Now the food at the Pan was awesome I have to say. All freshly made nothing from a central commissary. And while some things were later out a can they were at least prepped on site. That's what eventually was the cost downfall of the chain and it's too bad. Regardless, the food was great. And that's what counts.

These were on the menu at the magic pan as an appetizer and were truly yummy. The dip was amazing with them. Hope you all enjoy not hard to make at home if you can deep fry. Enjoy!

1⁄2 cup milk 1 oz blue cheese, crumbled
11⁄4 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder 
3⁄4 tsp salt Dash of cayenne pepper 
3 medium eggs 
6 oz cheddar cheese, grated 
Vegetable oil 
Parmesan cheese, grated

In small saucepan heat the milk and bleu cheese over medium heat until the cheese melts. 
Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne in a mixing bowl. 
Add the milk and bleu cheese and mix thoroughly. 
Add eggs one at a time and mix until blended. 
Add cheddar cheese and blend for a couple of minutes. 
Drop the mixture into fritter shapes into hot oil until light brown. 
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Dipping Sauce
1 cup salad dressing (Miracle Whip) or Mayonnaise (Hell- man’s or Best Foods)
1⁄4 cup prepared mustard 1⁄4 cup sugar Dash of lemon juice

Mix all ingredients.

Norwegian Cabbage Rolls a Springtime Traditional Dish

Cabbage is not what we think of as a traditional Spring vegetable. Mostly in this country we think of it as a winter veggie or as a summer vegetable chopped up and made into coleslaw.

But in Norway the appearance of bright green leafed spring cabbages is a sure sign that winter is on it's way out and Spring has sprung.

This recipe is an ode to that wishful thinking we all have this time of year that Winter is waning and Spring will bloom.

For the Rolls:

1 .5 pounds beef and pork ground and mixed together
1 small onion finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons powdered ginger
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
¼ cauliflower, cut in pea sized pieces
8 big cabbage leaves, boiled for 2 minutes
1 cup chicken stock

For sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
2 chicken bullion cubes
2 tablespoons chopped parsley for garnish
Lingonberry jelly


Preheat the oven to 320°F (160°C).
Mix all ingredients for the rolls together really well
Divide the mix between the cabbage leaves
Fold around the filling and place the packages into a baking dish seam side down
Pour the chicken stock into the pan
Bake for 45 mins in the oven
In the mean time add butter to a small pot and melt then add flour and stir to make a roux.
Cook for 3 mins. until the flour has cooked
Slowly whisk in the milk till combined and cook till the mixture has thickened.
Add the chicken bullion and seasoning
When the rolls are done serve the rolls with the sauce and garnish with the remaining parsley and a spoonful of the jelly