Thursday, June 30, 2011

Watermelon Tomato Salad

Watermelon with tomatoes and onion??? You’re joking, right???

The “artist” in my friend, Nikki Rajala, comes out in a variety of ways. In addition to jewelry making, origami and crafting cards, this budding watercolorist loves to experiment with food — combining flavors, textures and colors for striking results. Her rendition of this new trend in watermelon salads is sure to please your palate (or should I say “palette.”) CJK

Watermelon Tomato Salad
(Nikki Rajala)

Photo by Bill Vossler
1/2 (5 to 6 lb.) watermelon, preferably seedless
4 large ripe tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium sweet onion, diced*
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
1 cup (4 oz.) crumbled feta
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Cut the watermelon flesh into 1-inch cubes, remove seeds and place in glass serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate.

Shortly before serving, add tomatoes, onion, vinegar, olive oil and mint to the watermelon cubes and toss gently. Add the feta, salt and pepper and toss again. Serve immediately.

Yield: 10 servings

A note from Nikki: These unlikely ingredients blend in the most amazing way. I don’t know from one spoonful to the next if it will contain sweet melon or tart tomato. The salty feta and fresh mint add to the surprise. I’d love to use heirloom tomatoes, but they’re not usually available. I’ve also tried it with basil, black or kalamata olives and balsamic vinegar. (White balsamic is prettier, if you can find it.)

A note from Carol: *Sweet onions that would work well in this salad are Vidalia, Walla Walla or Maui, if you are lucky enough to come upon them. I would like to try crumbled feta cheese with lemon, garlic and oregano in it for this recipe. Using a glass bowl shows off this attractive salad but a hollowed out watermelon half would also be an interesting “serving bowl.”

See another of Nikki’s recipes — Honeydew Blueberry Salad — posted on FFF June 13, 2011.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Grandmother’s Old-Fashioned Baked Beans for a Crowd

As promised, here’s yesterday’s recipe in the quantity to feed a crowd. CJK

Grandmother’s Old-Fashioned Baked Beans for a Crowd
(Nellie Nelson Prather)

6 (28 oz.) cans pork and beans
1 large onion, chopped
4 cups brown sugar
6 tsp. dry mustard
3 cups ketchup
1 cup molasses
1/2 lb. raw bacon, chopped *

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease a large roaster.

Pour the beans into roaster and add the chopped onion. Mix the brown sugar, mustard, ketchup and molasses together in a separate bowl before adding to beans with the bacon pieces.

Bake uncovered at 325°F between five and six hours, stirring from time to time.

Yield: 20 to 25 servings

A note from Carol: *I mentioned yesterday that Grandmother and Mom always added the bacon raw but I have begun frying and draining it on paper towels first to reduce the amount of fat in this recipe. (I think its better if its not fried to a crisp state — it stays softer during baking if its not crisp and thats the texture I prefer.) An entire pound of bacon could be used for this amount if it is fried first — you, the cook, decides how much goes into the batch that is being prepared!

The key to making a large batch like this is getting it in the oven early — it will take several hours at this low temperature for the liquids to reduce to a rich, thick sauce and the ingredients to combine into the characteristic flavor of this dish.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Grandmother Prather’s Old-Fashioned Baked Beans

My grandmother, Nellie Nelson Prather, was a terrific culinarian. She loved to “cook up” recipes and this is one she devised many, many years ago. These baked beans are so sweet and rich you might confuse them with eating dessert. The flavor that is created as the ingredients meld through baking together is special — I’ve never tasted any others that compare. CJK

Grandmother Prather’s Old-Fashioned Baked Beans
(Nellie Nelson Prather)

2 (15 oz.) cans pork and beans in tomato sauce*
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
2 tbsp. molasses
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
6 slices of raw bacon, chopped**

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease 1 1/2 to 2-quart casserole or small roaster.

Pour beans into casserole or roaster. Combine brown sugar, mustard, molasses, onion and ketchup in small bowl and mix in with beans. Mix in most of the bacon pieces with the beans and put the rest of them on top of the mixture.

Bake uncovered at 325°F for around 2 1/2 hours.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

A note from Carol: *As far as I know, Grandmother, Mom and I have always used VanCamp’s Pork and Beans for the recipe.

**Grandmother and Mom always added the bacon raw but I have started frying and draining it on paper towels first to reduce the amount of fat. (I think its better if its not fried to a crisp state — it stays softer during baking if its not crisp and thats the texture I prefer.) I often mix all of the bacon in, instead of putting pieces on top because I like to stir the beans from time to time and then the bacon pieces get mixed in anyway.

P.S. Tomorrow FFF will feature this same recipe for serving 20-25 people.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Leonard’s Potato Salad for a Small Gathering

Some years ago Leonard Heidelberger made his “famous” potato salad for a friend’s daughter’s wedding. He used 80 pounds of potatoes for that batch. He recalls that the bride’s younger sister helped him cut up the potatoes and eggs. It took them at least five hours to do all that chopping.

Once you’ve envisioned 80 pounds of potatoes made into potato salad, five pounds seems like nothing. However yesterday’s recipe would likely be enough for 36 to 50 servings, depending what else is served at the meal. Since most of us don’t feed that many people regularly, here’s Leonard’s recipe for a smaller amount of the salad. CJK

Leonard’s Potato Salad for a Small Gathering
(Leonard Heidelberger)

1 lb. red potatoes, boiled and cooled
3 eggs, hard-boiled and cooled
2 tsp. onion, finely chopped
1 green onion top, finely sliced
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped

1/2 cup Kraft Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Kraft Miracle Whip
1 tsp. yellow mustard
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Garlic salt, to taste

Paprika, for color

Peel and cut up the cold potatoes. Peel and dice the cold eggs. Mix potatoes, eggs, onions and celery together.

In a separate bowl, stir all dressing ingredients together and mix with the salad ingredients. When the potato salad seems almost perfect, add a little more mayonnaise and Miracle Whip.

Sprinkle a little paprika over the finished salad.

Yield: 8 servings

A note from Carol: Leonard takes life easier now than in the past. He enjoys watching reruns of “The Waltons” and “Little House on the Prairie” and looks forward to the new batch of DVDs that the librarians on the bookmobile have selected for him when it arrives in Villard every couple of weeks. 

An avid reader and lover of mysteries, Leonard likes books written by Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark, Lillian Jackson Braun and Sue Grafton. He enjoys novels written about the pioneer era as well. He often listened to audio books while chopping potatoes and eggs for all the potato salad he made over the years. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Leonard’s Potato Salad for a Crowd

Leonard Heidelberger has often been referred to as the “Potato Salad King” of Villard, a small Minnesota town in the Diocese of St. Cloud. The potato salad recipe he created about 25 years ago is well known in that area and, over the years, he frequently made it for graduations, picnics and family reunions.

Years ago Leonard worked at the Westport House, a now-closed supper club in Westport, Minn. He queried Clarice Kirckof, one of the restaurant owners, for her tips on making potato salad. Then through trial and error, he came up with this unique recipe. CJK

Leonard’s Potato Salad for a Crowd
(Leonard Heidelberger)

5 lbs. red potatoes, boiled and cooled
12-15 eggs, hard-boiled and cooled
2 tbsp. onion, finely chopped
4 or 5 green onion tops, finely sliced
2 cups celery, finely chopped

3/4 qt. Kraft Mayonnaise
3/4 qt. Kraft Miracle Whip
1 tbsp. yellow mustard
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Garlic salt, to taste

Paprika, for color

Peel and cut up the cold potatoes. Peel and dice the cold eggs. Mix potatoes, eggs, onions and celery together.

In a separate bowl, stir all dressing ingredients together and mix with the salad ingredients. When the potato salad seems almost perfect, add a little more mayonnaise and Miracle Whip.

Sprinkle paprika over the finished salad.

Yield: 36 to 50 servings

A note from Leonard: I was always told that potato salad had to be made with red potatoes and so that’s what I have used all these years. Recently I made the discovery that using russet potatoes worked out just as well. Family members and neighbors continue to request my potato salad when we get together. Nowadays, I make smaller batches for these gatherings.

A note from Carol: Leonard deserves the title of  “king” in more than the potato salad realm — he’s a true servant of the people in his area. 

For years he was a volunteer tutor with adult learners — helping students earn their GED or pass driving permit tests. For more than 20 years he taught religion classes at St. Bartholomew Parish in Villard and has acted as church secretary for about 18 years. Leonard also volunteers with the parish groups that put on suppers throughout the summer — helping to plan the menus, ordering groceries and phoning volunteers. And, he coordinates volunteers for parish funeral lunches.

P.S. Tomorrow’s posting will feature Leonard’s Potato Salad recipe for a smaller gathering.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Barbecued Pork Ribs

Chris Codden has been preparing these mouthwatering over-the-top ribs for a number of years. They rank high among her family’s favorite recipes!

Chris knows that Bishop John Kinney loves ribs, too. “I’ve heard he’s got a secret recipe for them that he doesn’t divulge to anyone,” she said with a mischievous smile and a quick wink. “These ribs are so good, however, that I have confidently challenged the bishop to a Rib Cook-Off!” CJK

Barbecued Pork Ribs
(Chris Codden)

3 long racks of baby back pork ribs

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/2 cup paprika
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne

1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup apple juice

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce*

Preheat oven to 250°F. Remove membrane from ribs. Cut ribs so there are three to four ribs for each set. Combine ingredients for rub and reserve 1/2 cup. Rub mixture on ribs. Bake uncovered at 250°F for two hours and 15 minutes.

Combine apple and orange juices. Place ribs meat side down on aluminum foil. Pour juice mixture over ribs. Wrap and seal. Bake for one hour longer.

Combine additional brown sugar with remaining rub mixture. Take ribs out of aluminum foil (discard foil and liquid) and rub mixture on them. Bake (meat side up) uncovered for 30 minutes.

Turn oven up to 350°F. Brush ribs with barbecue sauce. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

A note from Chris: My husband, Rich, loves ribs. I always make them for his birthday, which is the Fourth of July. The original recipe for these barbecued ribs came from a “Southern Living” annual. I learned from that article that removing the membranes makes a big difference. I experimented with sauces and found that my family and I like the taste of Ken Davis Barbecue Sauce the best. Over the years, I’ve added other touches of my own to this delicious recipe.

A note from Carol: Chris, the director of the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family, is also a trustee for St. Anthony Church in St. Cloud, where the Coddens are members. She and Rich have been actively involved with Marriage Encounter in the past and Chris is president of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers and an advisor to the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

Chris and Rich have four children: Michelle, Lynette, Donny and Clayton, who died in infancy in 1980, and two grandchildren: Isaiah and Angelo.

Bishop John Kinney is the bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Friday, June 24, 2011

What are you serving for the Fourth of July?

You might be planning a simple meal — hotdogs, brats or hamburgers with potato chips and dip. Maybe you’re thinking about steaks on the grill or fried chicken with buttered corn on the cob. Perhaps you and your guests prefer vegetarian fare. 

No matter which culinary direction you’re contemplating, consider adding one of the recipes featured on Food, Faith and Fellowship this week to your holiday menu.

A tried-and-true method for barbecued ribs heads the list. It’s followed by cherished recipes for traditional side dishes of potato salad and baked beans — both in quantities for a few or a crowd. And, the ingredients for a trendy new-fangled salad may take you by surprise. The ideas for dessert are easy treats that you can pull together at the last minute but nevertheless they are sure to bring ooohhhs and aaahhhs and smmmiles from your family and guests. CJK

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father’s Day

“The best things you can give children, next to good habits, are good memories.”

— Sydney Harris

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dad's Best Waffles and G.I. Pancakes

My dad, Ed Prather, was imaginative and inventive with his culinary skills. He loved to cook and created a lot of wonderful recipes for every meal of the day — and moments in between.

I remember him as a master of breakfasts — cooking eggs every which way, frying bacon or making pork sausage patties with his own special blend of ingredients. He liked hot cereals of all kinds and often served them with cream instead of milk. There would always be buttered whole-wheat toast to go along with those steaming bowls of filling, nourishing porridge made from corn, oats, rice or wheat.

A friend and I reminisced recently about his distinctive French toast. She recalled that he would add cinnamon to the egg mixture, which was usually made with evaporated milk. He dipped white bread slices into the egg and milk mixture and then in crushed cornflakes on both sides before frying them.

He frequently made pancakes and waffles — adding extras like mashed bananas, raisins, blueberries or oatmeal. And, he always made his own syrup from Mapleine, sugar and water, serving it warm with his outstanding French toast, pancakes or waffles. It’s an honor to share a couple of my dad’s mainstay recipes with you today — perhaps you’ll try one of them for your Father’s Day breakfast tomorrow. CJK

Dad’s Best Waffles
(Edward H. Prather)

3 egg whites

3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup oil

Preheat waffle iron.

Beat egg whites to soft peaks, set aside. Combine egg yolks and buttermilk. Add flour sifted with salt, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Mix in the oil. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites. Bake on an ungreased waffle iron. Serve with honey butter sauce or syrup.

Yield: 10 to 12 waffles

Honey Butter Sauce
1 cup honey
1/4 cup butter
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg

Mix ingredients and cook on the stovetop or in a microwave, stirring occasionally until fully combined. Serve warm.

Dad’s G.I. Pancakes
(Edward H. Prather)

2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
6 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
3 tbsp. butter, melted

Preheat the griddle.

Beat the eggs. Add milk. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together and stir into the egg and milk mixture. Add the melted butter last to combine with the other ingredients.

Grease the griddle. Cook pancakes on griddle over medium heat.

Yield: 8 to 10 pancakes

A note from Carol: Dad had a unique way of greasing a pancake griddle. He would cut a small potato in half and stick it into a fork, with the cut side down. He’d dip the potato into vegetable shortening or butter and then rub it over the griddle before each batch of pancakes was cooked. 

I can still hear him saying “only flip the pancakes once or they’ll get tough.” I follow that advice to this day. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Strawberry Romaine Salad

This easy salad is attractive, refreshing and wholesome, too! It’s at the top of the “favorites list” in Pat Voigt’s kitchen. She’s been making it for at least 15 years for family gatherings, special occasions or simple get-togethers. Pat especially likes to make it during the summer when strawberries are in season. CJK

Strawberry Romaine Salad
(Pat Voigt)

1 large head of romaine lettuce or other mixed greens, torn into bite-size pieces
1 pint strawberries, sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
1 tbsp. poppy seed

Layer the salad ingredients and mix the dressing. Immediately before serving, toss the salad with the dressing.

Yield: About 6 servings

A note from Pat: Even our grandchildren love this strawberry salad. The first thing they eat are the strawberries. They call the salad “the purple one” because of the red onion. They ask for it often even though they normally don’t care for onions.

A note from Carol: I would describe Pat as sheer energy-in-motion. She’s worked at the Area Learning Center in St. Cloud serving lunch to students for 10 years and helps out at St. Augusta Legion Post 621 as a “gal-Friday.” In addition, she volunteers for several organizations and her parish. She and her husband, Jim, live a farm near St. Augusta where they raise beef cattle and a large garden. Pat and Jim love spending time with their eight grandchildren and are members of St. Mary, Help of Christians Parish in St. Augusta.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Broccoli and Cauliflower Italian Salad

My husband, Ole, and I have been making this crunchy, colorful, nutritious salad for a number of years. It’s consistently remained his all-time favorite! I’ve often brought it to potlucks or served it at family gatherings. It travels well and is a good choice for summer picnics. CJK

Broccoli and Cauliflower Italian Salad
(Carol Jessen-Klixbull)

1 head broccoli
1 head cauliflower
1 pint bite-sized tomatoes*
1 (6 oz.) can pitted ripe black olives, drained
2 (5 oz.) cans whole water chestnuts, drained
Italian dressing**

Cut broccoli and cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Add the tomatoes, olives and water chestnuts. (Cut the water chestnuts in two if they are too large for one bite.) Combine salad ingredients with desired amount of Italian dressing.**

Yield: 16 servings

A note from Carol: *Smaller cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes work well for this recipe. Use bite-sized tomatoes so there is no need to cut them. Cutting them would definitely change the dynamics of the salad! (You don’t want to do that — do you?)

**Over the years I’ve tried all kinds of bottled Italian dressings for this salad and each one has added it’s own distinct flavor. (If you have a favorite brand, that’s exactly the one for you to use.)

I like making my own dressing beginning with a Good Seasons Zesty Italian packet. I follow the directions and prefer to use apple cider vinegar. (I often choose the “to prepare with less oil” option on the package.) Additionally, I don’t overdo the amount when adding the dressing to the salad — too much will make the veggies soggy as they marinate. They should remain crisp even though they have been lightly coated with dressing. (Let’s face it — you can always add more dressing for flavor and moistness — but you can’t take it away if you’ve added too much!)

If I’m going to serve a portion of this large salad, I add dressing to that amount only — otherwise the veggies get too soggy and unappetizing by the next day.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Honeydew Blueberry Salad

Mmmmm. What a delightful combination this simple fruit salad bestows — both in taste and appearance! 

It’s easy to visualize the sweet, juicy light green flesh of the honeydew contrasted with the deep, dark blue of the berries. Intersperse those with the darker green color and pungent flavor of chopped basil and the fresh, sassy taste of lime. It’s a most alluring fusion. CJK

Honeydew Blueberry Salad
(Nikki Rajala)

1 honeydew melon
1 pint blueberries
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil

Cut the honeydew into 3/4-inch cubes and place in a large glass bowl. Gently stir in the blueberries. In another bowl, mix lime zest and juice, sugar, basil and olive oil. Pour over fruit shortly before serving — adding it too far in advance causes the melon to become overly juicy, diluting the dressing.

A note from Nikki: I’ve played with this recipe, using fresh mint, limeade concentrate and even cantaloupe. And, I’ve read about others using white wine, mango, ginger, orange zest and juice, but this combination is my favorite — the flavors and colors really appeal to me.

A note from Carol: Nikki, a friend and colleague at The Visitor, is an inquisitive, innovative cook. She enjoys experimenting with flavor combinations, sampling dishes she hasn’t tried before and discovering new food-related products on the market. The social circle of  “foodies” that she and her husband, Bill, chum with continues to provide a convivial challenge of taking their small-group entertaining to the next culinary level.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Oriental Coleslaw

Whenever I make this Oriental coleslaw recipe I think of my brother Steve Prather and his wife, Chris. They made it many years ago for a family event and I still remember Steve raving about it that day, calling it his absolute favorite salad! The rest of us liked it, too, and I now count it among my favorites, as well. It’s a recipe that has been around for a while and, of course, there are several versions: A cousin of mine makes one that calls for sautéing the ramen noodles, sesame seeds and almonds together and heating the dressing, which includes soy sauce, before mixing with napa cabbage and green onions.

It’s especially fun for me to share Steve’s recipe with you this morning as he turns another day older today. Happy Birthday, Stephen! CJK

Oriental Coleslaw
(Steve Prather)

1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
3 tbsp. sesame seeds
14 oz. pkg. classic coleslaw mix
3 oz. pkg. chicken-flavored ramen noodle soup, divided
4 green onions, chopped

1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tbsp. cider vinegar
3 tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Flavor packet from soup mix

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread almonds and sesame seeds in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet and toast in preheated oven for 5 to 10 minutes until nuts and seeds are golden brown. (Watch carefully and stir every two to three minutes.)

Place coleslaw mix in large bowl. Break ramen noodles into pieces and add along with green onions, nuts and seeds to cabbage mixture.

Mix dressing and combine with salad ingredients immediately before serving.

Yield: 10 servings

A note from Steve: I never considered myself a coleslaw person until I met this salad. Now, I can’t get enough of it! It’s easy to make, which is a good thing since neither my wife nor I really like to cook. I love the smell of those roasted almonds coming out of the oven. Adding grilled chicken breast turns the salad into a delicious summertime main dish. 

A note from Carol: The almonds and sesame seeds can also be toasted in a skillet. (Heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat and add the nuts. Stir them frequently while toasting.)

When I make this recipe I go easy when adding the dressing — I normally don’t use the entire amount for one salad. Since I often make it for just my husband and myself I only dress the amount that we’ll eat in one meal. I’ve found that both the salad and dressing can be kept separately for several days.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Swiss Spinach Salad

Karrie Mollner is always on the lookout for healthy recipes to feed her active family. Both of her daughters, Alexis (16) and Madison (10), play hockey. Alexis is also on her school’s volleyball team and Madison is involved with soccer and track. This recipe has been one of her family’s favorites since they sampled it a couple of years ago at a potluck for Alexis’ volleyball team. CJK

Swiss Spinach Salad
(Karrie Mollner)

1 bunch romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 bunch spinach, torn into bite-sized pieces
6 oz. grated Swiss cheese
4 oz. cashews, roughly chopped
2 red apples, diced

1 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar*
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tbsp. onion, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp. poppy seeds

Mix salad ingredients together. Blend ingredients for dressing. Pour dressing over salad immediately before serving.

Yield: 12 servings

A note from Karrie: *The original recipe called for 3/4 cup sugar in the dressing. I’ve adjusted it to only 1/2 cup — one could use even less depending upon their taste. A sugar substitute might also work. I love making this salad in the summer. The recipe yields a large amount so I usually make it for potlucks or other family gatherings — the salad bowl is emptied every time!

A note from Carol: Karrie is a case instructor at the Tribunal for the Diocese of St. Cloud. She and her husband, Kent, and their daughters are members of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Sartell, Minnesota.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Salads — your hot weather go-to food

Some things just go together — sunshine and laughter, hugs and kisses, rainbows and a pot of gold. …  Summer days and salads seem to pair up in a special way, too. Salads have a way of enlivening our spirits, revitalizing our tastebuds and keeping us cool during the sultry days of this season.

In the next coming days, Food, Faith and Fellowship offers five simple tried-and-true salad recipes — each with a minimal number of ingredients, none of which take long to assemble. Perhaps one or more of these appetizing, refreshing combinations of vegetables and fruits will become your next favorite hot weather go-to food. CJK

P.S. Check out FFF’s “An end of summer salad sampler” postings from Sept. 1, 2 and 3, 2010, to see recipes for Up North French Potato Salad, Cajun Mashed Potato Salad and Black Bean and Corn Salad.