My grandmother had Pennsylvania Dutch roots, and as a child I spent a lot of summer days at my aunt and uncle’s farm in the heart of Lancaster County.
So I always approach an Amish cookbook with a blend of nostalgia and appreciation for the simple but delicious ways that mark this true regional cooking.
Me, Myself and Pie ($25, Zondervan) is by Sherry Gore, a resident of Sarasota, where many “Plain People” spend the winters. Besides being a pie-contest judge and hosting a cooking show, Gore writes a weekly column for the 120-year-old Amish newspaper, The Budget, and is editor in chief of Cooking & Such magazine.
What makes this cookbook so delightful is the many stories sprinkled throughout that give a peek into Amish life and ways, alongside recipes that have been passed down for generations: Peaches and Cream, Apple Skillet, Sour Cherry Crunch, Lemon Icebox, and Orange Cream to name a few.
What sets it apart from other Amish cookbooks is its recipes with modern flavors, plus pie pops and pies in a jar and other twists on the pie theme. Gore also gives detailed tutorials on pie-crust making and many intriguing ways to make a pie crust beautiful. Give her Cream Cheese Pecan Pie a whirl.
I have little experience cooking lamb, like most Americans. An occasional lamb-chop splurge, an occasional roast leg at Easter, but mostly I pass by that section of the meat counter.
True Aussie Lamb, a trade group for Australia’s sheep producers, is trying to change that by teaming up with local chefs across the United States to develop recipes that appeal; the recipe for harissa lamb pitas here is from chef Conor Hanlon of The Dutch in the W on South Beach.
Aussie Lamb bills itself as 100 percent free-range and pasture-raised and notes that lamb packs two times as much iron as chicken or pork. The recipe takes advantage of a less-expensive cut, the shoulder, and slow cooking makes it wonderfully tender.
I want to thank you for printing the London Chicken recipe because it reminded me of a similar recipe I’ve had for at least 35 years. It was a frequent company meal, served with spinach noodles and carrots, but for some reason, I haven’t made it in years. I am sharing that recipe.
Arlene Goldberg, Miami
I always enjoy trying out a recipe recommended by a reader — and yours is no exception. Mace and marjoram are two herbs I rarely encounter anymore in recipes. For those unfamiliar, mace is from the same East Indian evergreen tree that gives us nutmeg — but is from the sheath that wraps around the nutmeg kernel.
If you don’t have mace on hand, just substitute nutmeg or allspice. Marjoram is from the same family as oregano, but is a bit more subtle. Ground coriander or sage also would work, depending upon your tastes and what’s in your spice cabinet.
I recently came across the term “cowboy cookie” in a book. I read a lot of Westerns and usually Cookie refers to the camp cook. But in this book it was definitely a cookie they were talking about. Does anyone know what goes into a cowboy cookie? I checked the Dictionary of American Food and Drink and it was not in there.
Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172.
Cream Cheese Pecan Pie
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 large egg, beaten, plus 3 whole eggs, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup light corn syrup
Vanilla ice cream, optional
Make the filling: In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese, beaten egg, sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and salt. Spread the mixture onto the bottom of the pie crust. Sprinkle with pecan pieces.
Make the topping: Combine the whole eggs, remaining vanilla and corn syrup and beat well. Pour over the pecans and bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm or cold with a scoop of ice cream if desired. Makes 8 servings.
Source: ‘Me, Myself and Pie: Amish Recipes’ by Sherry Gore ($25, Zondervan).
Per serving: 570 calories (53 percent from fat), 34.8 g fat (9.5 g saturated, 15.2 g monounsaturated), 124 mg cholesterol, 8 g protein, 61 g carbohydrate, 2.3 g fiber, 431 mg sodium.
Chicken with Almonds and Sherry
1 slice bacon
6 pieces chicken (bone-in, skin-on)
Pinch of marjoram
1 (10 1/2-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can of milk
1/8 teaspoon mace
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup soft bread crumbs
1/4 cup sherry
Render the fat from the bacon by frying in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Arrange chicken on top. Sprinkle with marjoram. Whisk together the undiluted soup, milk and mace. Spoon on top of the chicken. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Fry almonds in butter in a small pan until lightly browned, then mix in bread crumbs. Sprinkle over chicken, then pour sherry over all. Bake another 30 minutes. Serve with buttered green noodles and sautéed carrots. Makes 6 servings.
Source: Adapted by Linda Cicero from a reader recipe.
Per serving: 443 calories (54 percent from fat), 26.6 g fat (8.3 g saturated, 10 g monounsaturated), 100 mg cholesterol, 28.6 g protein, 19.4 g carbohydrate, 1.6 g fiber, 754 mg sodium.
Harissa Lamb with Grilled Pita
1 (3 1/2-pound) boneless lamb shoulder
5 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons toasted and ground cumin
2 teaspoons toasted and ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons harissa paste
1 tablespoon molasses
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large carrot
1 Spanish onion
1 stalk celery
8 cloves garlic, halved
1/4 cup tomato paste
5 quarts water
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 English cucumber, peeled and diced
1 bunch fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
10 pita rounds, halved
Make the rub: Mix dry spices, salt and sugar. Add harissa paste and molasses. Rub mixture over the lamb shoulder, covering the entire shoulder. Marinate, covered or in a zippered plastic bag, for 12 to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Make the braise: Heat oven to 275 degrees. Place a large ovenproof pot or roasting pan over high heat and warm 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sear lamb shoulder on all sides. Remove lamb from heat and set aside. Add carrot, onion, celery and garlic, and sauté until golden brown. Add tomato paste and return lamb to the pot. Pour in 5 quarts water, cover with aluminum foil, and place pot in the oven for 3 1/2 hours, or until lamb is tender.
Make the raita: In a medium bowl, mix together the Greek yogurt, remaining olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, cucumber, mint and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
To finish: Remove lamb from the braising liquid and reserve; let the meat cool for 10 to 20 minutes or until it is cool to the touch. When cool, shred lamb and set aside. Reduce the braising liquid on medium-high heat (do not skim off the rendered lamb fat; it will act as a thickener later on). Let the liquid simmer until reduced by half. Place the braising liquid and veggie solids in a blender. Puree until smooth. This will serve as your BBQ sauce. Mix sauce with shredded lamb.
To serve: Grill or toast pita bread and stuff halves with warm pulled lamb. Top with minted raita and enjoy. Makes 10 servings.
Source: Chef Conor Hanlon, The Dutch, Miami Beach.
Per serving: 440 calories (28 percent from fat), 13.6 g fat (3.6 g saturated, 7.8 g monounsaturated), 98 mg cholesterol, 38 g protein, 41 g carbohydrate, 2.2 g fiber, 1791 mg sodium.