Sunday, April 19, 2009


One of my favorite days lately has been the one that I spent with my Mom. I guess you could say that she's The "Original Comfortcook"....from a long line of Comfort Cooks. In the next few posts I'm going to share some of my favorite "Mom Dishes" and perhaps you'll begin to understand why I'm such a foodie and why I love to "Play" with my food. She can still cook circles around anybody I know, just smaller circles now and maybe not as fast...but oh boy! That great taste is still in there. I can prepare it exactly like her...step by step, ingredient by ingredient and it never tastes the same. I know many of you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's that Mother's Love...I just know it. I think my sons are beginning to appreciate that from their own Mama's kitchen. There's something in the way Mom holds her mouth or flicks her wrist or something magical, I guess, that I miss. Maybe slight of hand? A kitchen Houdini? I can keep up...but I'll never pass her. She'll always win that race. So with a lot of my childhood favorites, I've just learned to add a little, "somethin, somethin" to give it my own spin and most of the time I end up with a pretty good replica of one of the master's. I've covered her Potato Salad recipe in an earlier blog (see Potato Salad in the recipe list at the bottom of the page) and that still ranks way up there on my all-time favorite list. I made that potato salad yesterday for a friend's cookout and it was a huge hit...again. One fella even grabbed pen and paper right after he'd eaten and asked for the recipe. Just like with so many of her recipes...there are none. Just good ole cookin' know how. I gave him the best recipe I least I told him what all the ingredients are, along with all the steps, proper temperatures, "I always use russets", you know the basics. Folks are just kinda on your own from that point on. Unlike with her baking, I've never seen Mom measure anything that goes into that potato salad. I get it pretty darn close....or so I think till I eat hers again!

Another one that is so simple and so delicious is her cheese salad. Not the Pimiento Cheese salad of the south. Close. But this, too has a quirky little difference. She uses pimiento stuffed green olives and Miracle Whip. Now, I'm a Mayo girl, but Mom is Miracle Whip all the way. I don't think she even has any mayo in her house. That pleases Geraldo to no end. He's a M.W. kinda guy. So, of course he prefers her potato salad to mine..(but would rather both of us leave out the olives!! Geraldo's not an olive man.) You gotta try this cheese salad someday. I'm gonna share the recipe in the next blog. It's so good and my brother Allan and I will still fight over that last bit. I went shopping and bought the ingredients to make it when I was home because she always makes it for us and I sure don't want to lose the opportunity to learn her version of a childhood favorite. You have to use real American cheese. Don't even suggest any "processed cheese product" or mention the V word!! It's not an inexpensive dish to make...but it's totally worth the extra bit to make a really superb product. I had it for my lunch at work for 3 days. It's great just on plain white bread, but it's also excellent when prepared like a grilled cheese. So, I bought the right cheese and she had all the other ingredients so, we got busy as she stood close by and guided me thru the process. I remembered the hand cranked food grinder that she used to screw onto the edge of the counter to make this stuff. She's stepped up to the food processor now and that makes things a little easier. I miss the nostalgia of the food grinder, tho. And man, she's funny...funny "Ha Ha", I mean! We were putting the green olives in the food processor and I asked how many and she said "Well, however many olives you want. How olive-y do you want it?" So, I dropped in a coupla handfuls and started to put the top on the processor and she stopped me..."Put more olives in there! That's not enough! You want it olive-y, don't 'cha?" And I did. I did want it olive-y. So, therein lies the mystical part of figuring out her dishes. You just gotta make it till it tastes right. Until it takes good...just like Mom's. Oh yeah, I left Allan some Cheese Salad in a butter tub for him to pick up. I'm a thoughtful little sister (ahem) and besides, there's no better judge of that particular dish than him!

This is a great recipe for Coconut Pie...Mom's version is another kind that takes patience and time standing over the stove cooking the custard. This is an easier version and it's good. In fact, it's a prize winner from a little old lady in North Carolina that made this for every church supper she ever attended.....Yes, this one has won blue ribbons and County Fair accolades.....but it's not like my Mom's. Hers is THE BEST! I'll include that when I get into her recipe box again and get a copy!! Yes, there's a written down recipe for that pie. Mama don't play when it comes to baking.....


A great family favorite.This is one of the simplest recipes for a delicious dessert I've ever tried. Now, I'm not one to judge you if you use a premade pie crust, but you may find you have a bit of filling leftover and how do I know that? Yep, I used a premade Pillsbury "rolled -out" pie crust and it was great. Everytime!

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
1 Unbaked 9-inch pie shell
1⁄4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
1⁄3 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1⁄2 package (31⁄2- to 4-oz.) shredded, sweetened coconut
1. Place the oven rack in the middle position.
2. Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add buttermilk. Add eggs one at a time. Add salt and vanilla. Fold in coconut. Pour filling into pie shell. Bake about 40 minutes, or until top is firm and crust is golden brown. Cool completely on a rack. Store loosely wrapped in wax paper in the refrigerator.

Y I E L D : 8 S E R V I N G S

Sunday, April 5, 2009

This past week at work I was introduced to a new sandwich. Not a new kind of sandwich, really just an old favorite with a new name. They call it "The New York Yankee". I guess it gets that name from the use of all the kosher meats and the deli stamp on the preparation, but's a dandy sandwich, no matter what you call it. Maybe I could make my own version and call it ..."The New Yankee Doodle Dandy." (Now, that's cute!)
So anyways.....This particular heaping helping of kosher delights is a 2 inch thick stack of Corned Beef and Pastrami with Swiss cheese served on seeded Jewish rye with a slathering of good ole yellow mustard. I love Corned Beef and I love Pastami. I love Rye bread and I am definetly a mustard girl...not the mayo type. So this particular sandwich has become a lunch time favorite. I eat one half one dy and eat the leftover half the next!! That justifies the $8.00 price tag. My buddy Nathan who loves good food and appreciates not only the comforting goodness of a perfectly grilled Grilled Cheese, but delights in the flavor filled masterpiece of something as complex and exotic as a genuine N.O.L.A. Muffuletta and I were checking out the menu from that same deli a couple of days later. And, there it was, on the same page as my new favorite tried and true New York Yankee, ... the mouthwatering image of The Muffuletta that instantly gave us pause as we suddenly questioned our lunch decision. What a wonderful quandry to be in!
Now, I remember eating my first Muffuletta straight from the counter of Central Grocery on my first trip to N'awlins. It was like no sandwich I had ever eaten. It's important to note here that I am an olive nut. Black, green, purple, brined, oiled, you give me an olive and I'm all over it. And the classic Olive Salad that is essential to the Muffuletta is filled with olives and capers; those briny little buds that should be a staple in every foodie's pantry along with that garlicky, pickled taste of the Gardiniera; you know the jarred pickled cauliflower, carrots, celery and pepperoncinis. The combination of the cheeses with the deli meats, salami and hams piled high topped with the delicious salty and tangy punch of the olive salad, then squeezed tight into a hearty round bowl of bread, is just about the epitomy of deli decadence. Certainly this is not the sandwich your Mama throws together for a quick snack between meals. We'll keep the bologna around for that; This is The Meal.... The Main Course... The Entree. The Muffuletta doesn't play. It takes your taste buds dancing and makes you feel like you've just experienced something truly different and unique. Like you are somehow transformed into some kind of a fancy-pants gourmet somethin' or another. And you are raised to another level in "Sandwichdom." The Muffuletta is to sandwiches what jazz is to music. Two New Orleans originals. Cool. Like, groovy cool. Special, unique and classy. With so many different things going on and yet when you experience it all end up with a delicious harmonic melody.
So, I'm on a sandwich kick this week, but I'm a little tired of forking out $9.00 to 10 bucks for a sandwich and chips. So, Geraldo took me on a shopping spree (Sam's for me!) where I stocked up on all kinds of meats, treasure cheese, olives and breads. So, I'm gonna make a batch of Olive Salad that will probably end up on all kinds of concoctions in the following days. I'm excited about getting re-acquainted with an old friend.....The Muffuletta with my new buddy Nathan.
The muffuletta, a classic invented by Italian expats in New Orleans, is jam-packed with spicy cured meat, garlicky olive salad, and piles of provolone and Swiss.It's best to prepare the olive salad about a week before making the sandwich to allow the flavors to intensify. The recipe yields roughly 3 extra cups that, when stored airtight, will stay fresh for 1 month. Use leftovers as a zesty salad topping or for a delicious fish marinade.

Makes 4 servings
Olive Salad:
2 cups green olives , pitted
1/2 cup Kalamata olives , pitted
1 1/4 cups ready-made giardiniera
2 Tbsp. capers
3 cloves garlic , thinly sliced
1/4 cup celery , thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. Italian parsley , finely chopped
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
*1/4 cup jarred pimientos
2 green onions , finely chopped (about 2 Tbsp.)
Kosher salt , to taste
Freshly ground black pepper , to taste
1 3/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
**(Hey, don't fret if you only have pimiento-stuffed green olives..use them instead and leave out the jarred pimientoes.)
1 (15-ounce) loaf Italian bread , preferably seeded and round (about 12 inches in diameter)
1 1/2 cups olive salad (or more, to taste)
3 Tbsp. oil from olive salad (or more, to taste)
3 ounces capicola ham , thinly sliced
3 ounces Genoa salami , thinly sliced
3 ounces mortadella , thinly sliced
3 ounces provolone cheese , thinly sliced
3 ounces Swiss cheese , thinly sliced
To make olive salad: Lightly crush olives on a wooden cutting board with the heel of your hand. Break up any large pieces of vegetables in giardiniera. Combine all ingredients in a large jar or a bowl with a resealable lid, making sure everything is immersed in olive oil. Stir, cover container tightly, and refrigerate at least 2 days (preferably 1 week). To make sandwich: Halve loaf of bread lengthwise. Spoon olive salad on one side. Spread out olives, breaking them into pieces with your hands, and gently push into bread. Coat other side of bread with oil.Layer olive-salad-laden side of bread with overlapping slices of ham, salami, mortadella, provolone, and Swiss. Top with oil-coated side. Cut loaf into four wedges; serve with Zapp's Cajun Crawtator potato chips and Barq's bottled root beer or mini screwtops of Merlot.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Our Beloved Jazz 1992-2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Baking good cookies usually doesn't happen the first time a novice baker pulls out a recipe, cookie sheet and a mixer. Nope. Even that first time you slice into a roll of prepared cookie dough, chances are you're gonna be disappointed with the results. Too many things can go wrong if you aren't experienced in the fine art of baking cookies. You have to have a dependable oven, and by that I mean one that doesn't fluctuate in temperature 50 to 75 degrees, and you better know the difference in baking times for a dark colored, light colored, or shiny cookie sheet. Do you really have to put the cookies 2 inches apart? And do you grease the pan even if the batter has a whole stick (or two) of butter in it? What difference does it make if I don't know if the flour in my canister is All Purpose or Self Rising? And nobody who doesn't bake regularly has brown sugar on hand that isn't as hard as a brick.....surely you can just double the amount of regular sugar the recipe calls for. Right? I can...right? Hmmmmm....
People, this is why some folks who cook don't bake. It's like chemistry. An exact science. Strict guidelines. You have to measure. And plan ahead...... like making sure you have some ingredients at room temperature. Don't try to mix in that stick of butter straight from the fridge. Ain't gonna happen.
Even the prepared cookie dough in the tube can fail miserably if you get any of the aforementioned rules wrong. The wrong pan or 25 degrees too hot or even when it says bake for 9 to 11 minutes and you're off by 1 minute and you start smelling that cookie then it's probably too late and you're cookies bottoms are toast. It takes time, patience and batches of cookies to begin to feel remotely confident that every batch you bake is gonna turn out great. The margin for error is high simply because too many things can go wrong.
I do not use shiny cookie sheets anymore. I keep a thermometer in my oven. I buy parchment paper now. But most importantly, I read the recipe all the way through before I begin and I follow the recipe exactly. Using real measuring cups with actual amounts listed on the side and measuring spoons. A measuring teaspoon spoon and a measuring tablespoon spoon. I guess you could say I act more grown up when I'm baking. I save the experimentation and over seasoning for the more easily adaptable (or repairable) casseroles and meat loafs.
I have to admit that since I really applied myself a few years ago my baking has improved. I don't play around when I'm baking. I'm dead serious and not nearly as much fun as I am when I get to pull out all my herbs and spices, cheeses and creams. Nope, not much fun until after the baking, that is. Then it's payday!! There's nothing like that bite of something chocolaty or gooey when it's still warm from the oven. I am a Hero then. A real chip off the ole June Cleaver!
I'm still not as confident baking as I am with my pots and pans, skillets and grills, but I'm gonna keep at it till I can call myself a baker and mean it. And I'll scrape the brown bottoms of cookies in the meantime!!
Below is our favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe here at The Schmidt House.....Nothing fancy here and no big secrets. I got it off the bag of Gold Medal flour a coupla Christmas' ago and they're great. So be brave... and get your butter out, check your brown sugar and cut you some sheets of parchment paper. We're gonna bake us some cookies!!!
1 1/2 cups butter or margarine, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
4 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 package (24 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (4 cups)

1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Mix butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs in large bowl using spoon. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chips.
2. Drop dough by rounded measuring tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until light brown. Cool slightly. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack; cool. Pat yourself on the back and ENJOY!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


King Ranch Casserole. I have heard about this particular dish for years and everyone always goes on and on about how good it is. I think it would be hard to screw up any dish with chicken and cheese in it, but I know it's been done. There are as many versions of this recipe as there are for Chicken and Rice casserole, and I picked this one because I have everything I need to make it RIGHT NOW, TODAY in my pantry and fridge. Don't let the 2 cans of condensed soup scare you away...there are low sodium and low fat versions available (so I've been told) and anyway...when have you ever had anything that didn't taste good when some Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Chicken soup was thrown in? You gotta hand it to the Campbell's folks..they got that right. Now, there are food blogs out there with the lighter, leaner and (they claim) healthier versions of all kinds of recipes but none of them are going to be posted by anyone who calls her self "Comfortcook." There's your sign!!

Maybe I should preface these recipes with a warning:
"Stop! You are about to enter a food site filled with recipes that are designed to satisfy your every cheesy, bacony, bubbling, mayonnaisey, breaded and deep fried craving you can imagine (and some you have not.)
So leave your guilt at the door and give this lightened (it really is) version of a Texas classic, a try. This is what we're having at "The Schmidt House" tonight. (and yes, I know how that sounds.....)
Everything in moderation, folks!


Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomato and green chiles
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
Sauté onion and bell pepper in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken and next 7 ingredients; remove from heat.
Tear tortillas into 1-inch pieces; layer one-third of tortilla pieces in bottom of a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Top with one-third of chicken mixture and 2/3 cup cheese. Repeat layers twice.
Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes.
Note: Freeze casserole up to 1 month, if desired. Thaw in refrigerator overnight, and bake as directed.


Monday, February 16, 2009


Geraldo and I went out to eat a couple of times this past weekend and we went to a couple different restaurants that we'd talked about visiting, but had never been to. We usually go to a steak place or Bar B Que, Mexican or Steak and Shake when I'm being spoiled, but I'd been wanting some real know some home cooked, meat and taters food. And I wanted someone else to cook it....and cook for me for a change. Now Gerald and I agree that we are very lucky that we can have a home cooked meal any day ( or night) of the week, as that's pretty much the "norm" here at The Schmidt House. Since cooking is my thing and something I really enjoy doing, I have never really considered making dinner to be a some folks do. That's because I have other jobs around the house I much more prefer to gripe about. Having said that...I do get the other stuff's just with some moaning and groaning that I begrudgingly dust, vacuum and sweep. Thankfully I have a great partner that helps me keep our home nice. And in return I keep him well fed.
So this weekend, Gerald and I hit a couple of what we here in Nashville call a "Meat 'n Three." That's right...1 choice of meat and 3 sides. I'd say 3 vegetables, but not everybody considers macaroni 'n cheese or fried apples a vegetable. These places are generally opened from early in the morning till around 2 p.m. in the afternoon and are jam packed at lunch with every walk of life imaginable. Just goes to show ya that not everyone is getting some "home cooking" at home and especially not the deep fried, gravy laden, "bake until bubbly" concoctions these small, cramped little cafes serve up on a daily basis.
I have mentioned in earlier posts that I think frying chicken is an art and if you ate chicken at 5 different restaurants, you'd get 5 different versions of the same bird. Brining is an absolute must and no fowl gets past me without a nice, long dip in some salty water. Makes all the difference in the world. Try'll be a convert.
Anyway, I remember from back in my Rock 'n Roll days when I was travelling all the time that when we were up in the "Heartland" i.e. Iowa, Wisconsin, the Plains states, we would see the signs for "Genuine Broaster Chicken" everywhere. Of course we tried it cause many times it was offered right inside the gas station where we were filling up our car. They had the special equipment required to cook the chicken according to the broasting ....technique.... method...... whatever! was different..special. Back then the only food available in a gas station was a frozen Tombstone pizza that took several minutes to minutes to heat up in one of those little toaster ovens, or if you were lucky, they had that rolling hot dog heater with some wieners and on a good day, some polish sausage. On a great day, we'd hit a place with Maid Rite sandwiches but that's a whole 'nother story!
Broasted Chicken became a fond food memory and recently I saw a sign at a Texaco near us that they had some. They even have the sign out front with that important looking chicken wearing that fancy hat and brandishing a walking stick in his wing. That's the real deal....or as they say in the south..."Bonafide." But I digress.......
Back to our weekend dining experiences...I ate Fried Chicken at 2 different meat 'n three's this weekend. Both were was better. One had the tastiest, crispiest, brown crust and moist white meat chicken. Had to be broasted, I thought. The other tasted like mine (coincidentally, Geraldo liked it the best) and it was better that average, but nothing like the broasted version. So, I hit the internet to see what made broasted chicken "broasted" and I came across this article that explains it so well. I'd always heard the Colonel had ripped off somebody's pressure cooked chicken recipe and this article sorta touches on that theory. (Paula Deen swears up and down that he stole her Grandma Paul's recipe when he was passing thru Augusta, GA.)
I knew some hot, fast frying had to be involved and I knew the chicken had to have been brined. What I didn't know was that the whole dang thing is deep fried and deep fried in a pressure cooker no less! Now, that's brave! I thought they pressure cooked the chicken (like in regular moist steam...not oil) and then fried it in very hot oil or lard in a deep skillet. The following article explains how they make, what I think, is the best tasting chicken anywhere...north, south, east or west. There's some really good recipes at the bottom of the article for cole slaw, gravy, biscuits and a great sounding broasted chicken recipe for home cooks. Read it and enlighten yourself on the finer art of an American Classic. BROASTER CHICKEN......some say, "just like the Colonel ripped off!"


The Mediadrome - Food - Finger Lickin' Good

Sunday, February 1, 2009

(GOOD ADVICE FOR THE GUYS HERE!!!) LOVE IS IN THE AIR!! Super Bowl is over and the next February food frenzy is Valentine's Day. Whether it's dinner at a romantic restaurant, chocolates or a bottle of bubbly and fondue at home, romantics everywhere know this is the time of year when there are no excuses if you forget February 14th. Now just because Valentine's Day falls on a Saturday this year....there are still certain rules that apply to this particular date. Turn that unlucky Friday the 13th into her special day!!! Valentine's Day is your chance to make up for any and all errs of the heart you made the previous year. Make her feel special all over again. Tell her and show her that she is indeed the most beautiful and desirable woman in all the world and you simply can't live without her. WHEW!!! That's a tall order, huh? One of the most important rules of romance is that if you are going to get flowers for your beloved make sure you send them to her place of work (Hint to Geraldo: I AM A CAREER GIRL THIS YEAR!! I have an office!!) so she can have that moment of girlish glory among her peers, proving that she does indeed have someone who loves her enough to send her overpriced flowers. Think of it like's kind of like why guys drive those big ole trucks with those ridiculously huge tires. You know they do it for their buddies to appreciate. It can't be easy jumping up into that big ole thing and those knobby tires have got to be tough on the tush. It's all about the know... it's human nature wanting to show off a little. Now, you could get by with bringing some flowers and a box of candy home on that Saturday...but there's nothing like that big swell of emotion that every girl gets when she sees the top of a big bouquet passing thru the office. Us girls would be lying if we didn't admit that we all get a certain feeling in our stomach and that we hope those flowers land in front of us. Go ahead and send them on the Friday before...she can get more glory when she carries them out to the car for the whole world to see. If she's lucky enough...she may have to wait to cross at a stop light and even give the passers by the chance to see that she is indeed... adored.
This is NOT the time to drop by the corner market for the cellophane wrapped spring bouquet that has already "sprung." You have to bite the bullet on this one and put some real effort into it to get the proper response. Having said that.... let me add that there are some great floral options available if you decide to pick up something on your own to bring home to the missus. Many of the large grocery chains have a great selection of many different flowers and with the right touch, any proper suitor can pull this off. First of all, buy the kind of flowers your sweetie likes. Don't buy roses just because they're everywhere this time of year. I used to not be such a big fan of roses...seemed overpriced and didn't last very a long if you asked me, but since I've been growing them in my home garden for a few years I have truly learned to appreciate just how beautiful and special they are. Just make sure you put some thought into it. Any flowers you give her are going to say more to her than any words you could ever come up with. Having said that.....NOT getting her flowers will also say more to her than you could ever apologize for!! If your girl likes sunflowers, then make it sunflowers. If it's carnations or daisies well, you get the picture. You can't go wrong with a beautiful spring bouquet. This time of year we are all looking for some signs of spring. The love potion here is the thought you put into it. If you purchase them yourself, put the flowers in a pretty vase (not one from home this is the time to spring for a new one) and tie a little bow or some pretty raffia around it to spruce it up a little. You could also wrap the flowers in floral paper and give them that "Florist Bought" look. There's really nothing wrong with taking flowers to your special valentine, but really if your valentine works with other is a BIG plus. It'll pay off big time on the long run!! Chocolate and lots of it, a nice romantic card and maybe a cutsie teddy bear for those girls who still like their "toys." Teddy bears aren't really my my "Toys" are more geared for the big girls...if you know what I mean. Those are fun to get, too!!
Have fun, this is the time we all get the chance to be silly in love and say and do goofy things. Most of all, turn on the romantic in you and let the love of your life know how very much she (or he) is loved.
Labels: Valentine's Day


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