Ragu Alla Bolognese

A traditional Italian sauce with so many different versions and oh so good on top of pasta and garnished with Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano. It epitomizes cooking in Bologna, Italy and is a meat-based sauce where garlic and basil are usually absent. Often just seasoned with salt and pepper,  grated nutmeg and occasionally a bay leaf. Tagliatelle is the preferred pasta but any flat pasta will work such as fettucine or pappardelle. Tube shapes are also acceptable such as rigatoni or penne.

It is a very complex sauce involving different cooking techniques. Differences can include which meat to use and how much, what fats to use such as butter or oil or maybe a combination of the two, form of the tomatoes, type of cooking liquids such as water or milk, white or red wine and when they are added.

I have provided my own version by combining recipes from a few of my Italian cookbooks by Marcella Hazan, Giada De Laurentiis, Fabio Vivani and Buddy Balastro. Such fantastic Italian chefs!

Ragu Alla Bolognese

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter or use a mixture of oil and butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium celery stalks, trimmed and diced
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef chuck
  • 1/2 lb. ground veal
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 cup water or for more richness use whole milk
  • 1 bay leaf (optional – I did add)
  • whole nutmeg, for grating
  • Parmesan rind or two (optional)
  • Parmesan or Pecorino to garnish (serve more on the side)
  • I also added some of my marinara sauce to get the right consistency

Mince the onions, carrots and celery in a food processor.

Heat a deep skillet over medium heat; add the butter or a combination of butter and oil and cook  the onions, carrots and celery. Lower the heat and cook the veggies until very soft, around 10 minutes.

Next, add the meat you are using. Break up the meat with a potato masher (this works really well) and cook until you can no longer see any pink, for about 10 to 15 minutes. Pour in the wine, raise the heat and bring to a boil. Boil until the mixture is reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, water or milk and bay leaf if using. Season with salt and pepper. Add a parmesan rind or two if desired.

Let the sauce simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until nicely thickened, about 3 hours. Add more water if needed; just be sure the water is gone at the end. Adjust the salt and pepper if needed. Grate some nutmeg into the sauce and stir.

Serve the Bolognese with tagliatelle or pappardelle (I used this) or rigatoni. Top with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano as some prefer to use.

Comment: This version of mine was very good but next time I will try using whole milk instead of water and use a cup of white wine instead of 1/2 cup. Just curious as many of the recipes preferred to use milk. Also, I added some of my marinara sauce to the recipe to get the right consistency.

Recipe by CookingWithAuntJuju.com

Banana Beignets – My Two Souths Meets the North

These sweet French pastries, or beignets, have been on my “food bucket list” for a long time. I have eaten the famous Café du Monde beignets in New Orleans and they do not compare to these light and fruity bites especially with a maple syrup glaze.

Food 52 recently held their annual Piglet contest where 16 new cookbooks in 2016 were critiqued by various authorities and “My Two Souths – Blending The Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen” by Asha Gomez won. Hence the name of her book as her roots are from her mother country India, in the far southern state of Kerala and her chosen home in Atlanta, Georgia rich with good ole southern cooking. Her cookbook is excellent and a must “buy” as she not only has many delicious recipes but lots of stories to tell.

Her Kerala chicken with waffles is next on my list as I did not have enough time to make it right now. So, it was the beignets instead!!!

When Asha was growing up in Kerala her mother made these delicious treats at tea time. Best served with a cup of chai and yes Asha has a recipe for it.

I followed Asha’s recipe exactly using the same ingredients but changed the directions a little.  To add a Northern twist I used  my Michigan Maple Syrup Glaze.

There are many beignet versions; some use a yeast dough, different fruit or even make savory beignets using crawfish. Some recipes are quick (like this one) or the dough needs to rise overnight – they are all good I am sure. I know this recipe will be made again…

This recipe requires a very simple nutmeg grinder as you need 1-1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg. You twist off the top, drop in a nutmeg, replace the top and grind away. I’m usually a cinnamon fan but I really enjoyed the nutmeg and even a little white pepper in the sugar dusting.

Banana Beignets - My Two Souths Meets the North

  • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg, divided
  • 2 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper, finely ground
  • 2 cups canola oil

Whisk together the egg and sugar in a large bowl. Add the mashed bananas and milk. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and 1 tsp. of the nutmeg and add to the banana mixture.

Sift the remaining 1/2 tsp. of nutmeg, confectioners’ sugar and white pepper and set aside for dusting.

Heat the oil in a deep, heavy skillet to 375 degrees. Line a tray with scott towels and place a cooling rack on top.

I used a 1-1/4-inch stainless steel scoop and gently dropped the batter into the hot oil. It only takes about 20 seconds so watch carefully and turn to finish browning. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on the prepared tray.

Dust the beignets with the spiced confectioners’ sugar or drizzle with my glaze below.

My how these little two bite beignets puffed up with such a great nutmeg/banana flavor and finished with my maple syrup glaze.

Michigan Maple Syrup Glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup maple syrup

Slowly add the maple syrup to the sugar to get the right consistency for drizzling over the beignets.

Recipe by CookingWithAuntJuju.com

Linking to Fiesta Friday

General Tso’s Chicken, Chinese Version

Are you looking for the Americanized General Tso chicken that is very sweet or a dish originally created by Peng Chang-kuei, a Hunanese chef exiled from Taiwan?

I found two American versions of this popular Chinese dish I liked online and two recipes from my Chinese cookbooks. Fuchsia Dunlop, “Revolutionary Chinese Cooking” and Kian Lam Kho, “Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees”; two expert authorities on Chinese cooking provided their versions by Chef Peng Chang-kuei that I preferred. I combined the best of both recipes which appealed to me.

This is not a traditional Hunan dish but the flavors reflect Chef Peng Chang-kuei’s Hunan background. This recipe is more hot and sour and lacks the sweetness of the Americanized version.

So, who is this General Tso? Tso Tsung-t’ang was a 19th century general who helped put down a series of rebellions. The Hunanese have a strong military belief and Tso is one of their well-known historical figures; a statesman in the Qing Dynasty.

Chef Peng said he created this dish during a visit by Admiral Arthur W. Radford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during the Taiwan Strait crisis of 1955. He called it General Tso’s Chicken on the spur of the moment!

General Tso's Chicken, Chinese Version, Adapted


  • 16 oz. chicken breasts, boneless and skinless; cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 tsp. dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. light soy sauce
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp. potato flour or cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. peanut oil

Combine the above ingredients and marinate as long as the night before.


  • 1/4 cup chicken stock or water
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing cooking wine
  • 2 tbsp. Chinkiang vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. potato flour or cornstarch
  • sugar is optional but was not included in the original General Tso’s chicken (I did not add any)

Combine the above ingredients and set aside.


  • enough peanut oil to fry the chicken pieces
  • 3/4 cup potato flour, cornstarch or try tapioca starch like Kian uses
  • 6-10 dried red chilies, snipped in half and discard seeds (I used 8, add some seeds for more heat)
  • 2 tsp. fresh ginger, finely minced (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp. fresh garlic, finely minced (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • green part of scallions, sliced thinly for garnish
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted for garnish

Heat the oil in a wok to 375°F. Place the cornstarch or potato flour in a bowl. Toss the marinated chicken in the starch and coat generously.

Fry the chicken in batches until a nice brown for about 5 minutes; drain well.

Leave only about 2 tbsp. of peanut oil in your wok; add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add the chilies and stir-fry for another 30 seconds.

Pour the sauce (be sure you stir it first) into the wok. The sauce will thicken in about 1 minute. Return the chicken to the mixture and toss the meat in the sauce; add the sesame oil. Garnish with scallions and toasted sesame seeds.

Serve with a bowl of your favorite rice and steamed broccoli.

Comment: A number of starches can be used in this recipe with good results such as arrowroot, cornstarch, potato, tapioca and wheat.  Some chefs feel one works better than the other. Such as Kian who believes tapioca flour produces the smoothest sauce and crispiest fried crust. On the other hand Fuchsia prefers potato flour. They both agree cornstarch makes a good substitute! So, you decide…

Recipe by CookingWithAuntJuju.com

Linking to Fiesta Friday.

Dublin Coddle

You know how words can grab your attention. Well, that’s what happened with this recipe; “Dublin Coddle” sounded like something I would enjoy making. According to Cook’s Country “This old-school derivative of Irish stew layers pork sausage, bacon, onions, potatoes, and stock to “coddle”, or slowly simmer.”

Not only the name but the ingredients tweaked my interest. Besides it’s St. Patrick’s Day and I do have a “wee” bit of Irish heritage, “McLean” on my Dad’s side. Other ingredients can be added such as Guinness, carrots or even cream. This is a dish you can definitely make to suit your taste buds.

Coddle is one of the most traditional dishes in Dublin going back  to the 1700’s and was a useful way of using up leftover bacon or pork sausages. This dish was a favorite of Jonathan Swift who wrote Gulliver’s Travels (which I remember reading as a child) and Dublin Coddle has many references in Irish literature.

Irish pork sausages called bangers are preferred which  is British slang for a sausage made with ground pork, bread crumbs and seasonings. During wartime rationing in England the bangers were so filled with water that they sometimes exploded, “bang” or split open when fried.

My search for fresh bangers failed and I was only able to find “fully cooked” bangers.  They are available at Trader Joes and select Costco Clubs in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States as well as the Southeastern part of the US. The Midwest is no longer selling them but hopefully that will change. Apparently, there are a number of locations in California where I could have had fresh ones shipped but that would have been too costly.

The brand I went with  is shown below who have an online site if you can’t find them locally. Their bangers are a delicious blend of pork, rusk (wheat) and spices in a natural casing.

The Balson Family has been trading meat  since 1515 in Dorset, England and have remained at the same location since 1880. 2007 marked the beginning of their stateside banger production . So, their legacy continues in the American market.

Because “true bangers” are hard to find in the US, especially fresh,  you can substitute bratwurst, a German sausage which is often made from veal, beef, or pork. There are lots of different flavored bratwursts to choose from depending on your taste.

Serve this Irish comfort food with a glass of Guinness and soda bread to soak up the gravy. I had some ciabatta on hand and that soaked up the sauce perfectly.

Dublin Coddle, Adapted

  • 1-3/4 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 1-1/4 lbs. bangers or you can use bratwurst
  • 2 onions, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rings
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme, minced
  • 1-3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup barley (optional, but it will soak up that delicious gravy which I would rather use to dip some good bread in)
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
  • soda bread or ciabatta for dipping (or any good, crusty bread)

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 325°F . Layer potato slices slightly overlapping in the bottom of a 13×9-inch baking dish; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Fry bacon  over medium heat until crispy; transfer bacon to paper towels to drain, tear into pieces and reserve for the topping. Using a cast iron skillet is perfect for this recipe.

Add the sausages to the same skillet and cook until lightly browned all over, about 5-10 minutes; drain on paper towels.

Pour off all but 2 tbsp. fat from the skillet and return to medium heat. Add onions, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook until the onions are soft for about 10 minutes. Scrape up any browned bits.

Add broth and vinegar and bring to a simmer; add the barley if you are using. Pour this onion mixture over potatoes, spreading onions into an even layer.

Because I used fully cooked potatoes I added the browned sausages during the last 30 minutes of cooking. If you are using fresh sausages add them at the beginning and place on top of the onions. Transfer to oven and bake until paring knife inserted into potatoes meets little resistance, about 1-1/4 hours.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley and reserved bacon bits.

Recipe by CookingWithAuntJuju.com

Irish Soda Bread With Apples, Guinness and Cheddar

This is not your traditional Irish soda bread with four basic ingredients of flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt. Three flavorful ingredients are added; apples, Guinness and an Irish cheddar to make for a very moist and hearty bread. Spread it with some good Irish butter for a perfect finish to this yummy bread.

This is a quick bread where the leavener is baking soda instead of yeast. There is a reaction between the buttermilk and baking soda producing bubbles of carbon dioxide, causing the dough to rise. Soda bread was not invented by the Irish but it was the easiest and least expensive bread to make, especially back in the mid 1800’s when the earliest recipe from Ireland was found.

Also, the Irish Potato Famine was occurring when one million people died from starvation and typhus and other famine related diseases. When half of the population of Ireland was poor a cheap and quick bread was a necessity.

In the recent quarterly issue of Bake From Scratch this bread was one of four soda breads featured and it just said “bake me.” It was followed  by a recipe using rosemary and parmesan or how about a soda bread with raisins and walnuts? They all sounded good but I went with a favorite combination of apples and cheddar.

This bread is absolutely delicious spread with some Irish Kerrygold  Butter.


Irish Soda Bread With Apples, Guinness and Cheddar

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. light brown sugar, firmly packed and divided
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1-3/4 cups Granny Smith apples, finely chopped
  • 4 cups plus 1 tsp. flour, divided
  • 2-1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded (Irish Kerrygold Reserve Cheddar)
  • 1 cup Guinness beer, room temperature (I used draught)
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted (Irish Kerrygold Unsalted Butter)
  • 1/4 cup whole buttermilk
  • 2 tsp. old-fashioned oats

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly oil and flour a 10×5-inch loaf pan. You could also use a baking spray that has flour in it.

Combine 2 tbsp. brown sugar and vinegar; stir in the chopped apples. Let stand for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the 4 cups flour, baking soda, salt and remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar. Add the apple mixture and shredded cheese. Gradually stir in the beer and melted butter. Add the buttermilk and stir just until the ingredients are moistened.

Gently knead the dough until ingredients are combined.

Shape into a log, and press into prepared pan. Using a sharp knife or lame, score a shallow line on top of the dough. Combine oats and remaining 1 tsp. of flour and sprinkle on top.

Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. Cover loosely with foil halfway through baking if the bread is browning too much. Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes.

Comment: I really appreciate the pro tips this magazine provides: “The apple cider vinegar keeps your apples from turning red during the baking process. It also reacts with baking soda, creating carbon dioxide and giving your bread extra rise”.

This is exactly why I enjoy my magazine subs and cookbooks, there is always so much more information to read than just a recipe.

Recipe by Cooking With Aunt Juju


Pasta Cacio E Pepe (Pasta With Cheese and Pepper)

Only a few ingredients and such a perfect dish to serve for a quick and simple weeknight dinner.  A  nice salad and maybe some good homemade bread and you have a meal. The key is in the pasta water and how you cook the sauce so your cheese does not solidify into clumps.

Bucatini pasta is an excellent choice for this recipe! I chose to use this pasta which is one I have never cooked with before. It is a thick spaghetti with a hollow center, known as the “buco” or hole. Bucatini was perfect for capturing all of the creamy, cheesy sauce in this recipe.


Looking at various recipes I noticed a difference in ingredients – some add butter, different amounts of pepper, different pastas and amount used. So, I combined a few recipes together to create my own Pasta Cacio e Pepe based on my tastes … Doesn’t this look good? A big indulgence, but why not once in awhile!


Pasta Cacio E Pepe (Pasta With Cheese and Pepper)

  • 4 oz. (2 cups plus more to finish) Pecorino Romano, grated – you could use a combination of Romano and Parmesan or just Parmesan; just be sure to use the good stuff as it makes a difference in the taste
  • 12 oz. bucatini (could substitute linguine or spaghetti but I highly recommend this heartier pasta with a hollow center)
  • 1 tbsp. salt in 10 cups of water for cooking the pasta
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1/2 to 1 cup pasta water
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. black peppercorns, ground fresh (or more to taste)
  • fresh basil to garnish (this comes from a plant I have been growing on a South-facing windowsill)

I love my battery operated Peugeot pepper grinder for just this kind of a recipe when a lot of pepper is needed. You could also  put the peppercorns in a small plastic bag and coarsely crush with a flat side of a meat mallet. Then put in a sieve to remove any dust that falls through.

Heat the  10 cups of boiling water with a tbsp. salt added; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. For more tender pasta cook an additional minute or two. It’s important to measure the water and only use this amount as the starches will be concentrated and will result in  the success of this recipe. You can actually see the starchy water.

Drain the pasta in a colander and save 1 cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pan.

Place your cheese in a bowl and slowly add enough pasta water until you reach a desired consistency. Next whisk in the cream, oil and pepper. Slowly pour this mixture over slightly cooled pasta, tossing lightly to coat. If the pasta is too hot, the cheese will tend to clump and not melt.

So, two things to remember; 1) use only the specified amount of water and 2) allow the pasta to cool slightly before adding the cheese sauce.

This recipe turned out perfect and we just wanted to “stuff” ourselves with this “comforting” pasta.

Recipe by Cooking With Aunt Juju

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Parade Punch For Mardi Gras

Oscars tonight and Mardi Gras tomorrow (actually Tuesday) – I just had to make this punch to celebrate two special events. Fill a glass full of ice, add rum to taste (optional), followed by a punch base full of fresh fruit juices, lemon-lime soda and a touch of grenadine to fill your glass. Then a splash of Proseco if desired. You could also make ice cubes using the punch base.

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This recipe comes from David Guas of Bayou Bakery and will be a perfect cocktail while watching the Oscars tonight and maybe if there is some left over we’ll enjoy it again during Mardi Gras.

Parade Punch For Mardi Gras

  • 3 cups orange juice, freshly squeezed is always best (I used 7 large oranges without pulp)
  • four (6 oz.) cans of pineapple juice
  • 1-2 liters lemon-lime soda (I only used 1 liter)
  • 1 cup lemon juice (3 big lemons)
  • 1/4 cup grenadine
  • white rum to taste
  • a splash of Proseco (could use Cava or Champagne)

Juice the oranges and lemons. I like to put the juice through a sieve to remove any pulp from the oranges or lemons.

Combine the first five ingredients (or the punch base) and refrigerate overnight. I used a plastic gallon milk carton. To serve fill each glass with ice, add 1-2 oz. white rum (optional). Add punch base to the top and finish with a splash of Proseco. How appropriate are these Hurricane glasses too!

This is very refreshing and is too good to put any booze in it because it goes down so quick!  Wish I could get fresh oranges this juicy all year round.

Recipe by Cooking With Aunt Juju

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King Cake Scones

Mardi Gras is just around the corner and will be celebrated in the US on February 28th this year. Making a traditional “King Cake” has been on my list of recipes to try for a long time.  Once again I made something different but I am very happy I did.

First I made  cupcakes with a granddaughter (02/08/13) and then a King Cake (03/04/14) using Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls, which happens to be one of my easiest and most popular recipes on my blog right now.

This is my first scone recipe and the first scones I have ever made. What better time to share this flavorful scone than for Mardi Gras.





I have made lots of muffins (search muffins), biscuits (search biscuits) and even scuffins (search scuffins for 3 recipes). In case you were wondering, a “scuffin” has the shape of a muffin but the soft flaky dough of a scone and like a jelly donut, there is a sweet filling of fruit.  The textures go from crisp on the outside to soft in the middle – great combination of flavors too.

This recipe is pure goodness (is that a word) without any nuts, raisins or such ingredients. Just a lot of “fat” that makes these scones appropriate for Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday.

I not only love my hundreds of cookbooks but I also enjoy reading my magazine subscriptions. Louisiana Cookin.com, a favorite magazine featuring Southern specialties, has provided this wonderful breakfast/brunch treat. I used all of the ingredients but completely changed the baking directions because I used a scone pan instead of baking them on parchment paper.


This is one of the many pictures I took on my last visit to New Orleans, home of Mardi Gras in the US.


King Cake Scones, Adapted

  • 2-1/4 cups flour
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 tbsp. chilled, unsalted butter, diced
  • 3 oz. cream cheese, chilled and diced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup whole buttermilk, divided (1/2 cup for the scones and 1/4 cup to brush on top before baking)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • buttermilk glaze (see below)
  • purple, yellow and green sanding sugars

Preheat oven to 425°F and lightly oil a scone pan.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Cut the butter and cream cheese into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Whisk the sour cream, 1/2 cup buttermilk and the two extracts. Add this to the flour mixture. Bring mixture together with your hands until you achieve a sticky dough.

Turn the dough out and knead a few times; flatten into a round disk.  Cut the dough into 8 wedges and place each wedge in a well of the lightly oiled scone pan.

Bake until lightly browned for about  25 minutes; let cool completely. Drizzle scones with buttermilk glaze and sprinkle with the three sanding sugars.

Buttermilk Glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp. buttermilk

Combine above ingredients and immediately sprinkle colored sugars on top before the glaze dries. Serve with your favorite jam or cream or just eat them plain.

These scones are pretty darn good!!!

Recipe by Cooking With Aunt Juju

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Beef and Barley Soup For Two

Usually I never make such a small soup recipe but while looking through Cooks Illustrated “Dinner for Two” magazine I chose this soup to try first.  This is a very fragrant soup with a taste to match! This recipe actually would serve 4 people.


Barley is a major whole grain food and is one of the first cultivated grains in history. There are numerous possible health benefits associated with this plant-based food. It is favored for its nutty flavor and chewy, pasta-like texture. It comes in two forms; hulled and pearled form.

Quick-cooking barley has been pre-steamed and is rolled thinner than pearl barley so the cooking time is about 30 minutes shorter. Both are equally nutritious. Did you know that half of the barley grown in the world is used for animal feed and another 30 percent is sprouted and ground for malt, an ingredient in beer?


I have one other soup recipe using barley, Split Pea and Barley Soup which is excellent too.

Beef and Barley Soup For Two, Adapted

  • 8 oz. chuck shoulder ranch steak (what I found at my grocery) or (beef blade steak)
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 oz. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin (I did not add – I’m not into mushrooms)
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme minced, or 1 tsp. dried
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups chicken broth (I used low sodium)
  • 4 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking barley (Quaker Oats) or pearl barley (adjust cooking times)
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced or 1 tbsp. dried

Cut away any gristle from the steak, usually in the middle and trim any noticeable fat. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a medium saucepan and brown beef on all sides 5-10 minutes; transfer to a plate.

Add the carrots, onions and mushrooms if using to the fat. Cook for 8-10 minutes on medium low, stirring occasionally so the vegetables don’t stick. Stir in tomato paste, garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, just for 30 seconds or so. Stir in beef and chicken broth and soy sauce scraping up any browned bits – you will have some too! Add beef and bring to a simmer; cook for about 15 minutes.

Stir in the barley and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the beef and barley are tender. Stir in the parsley and season to taste.

Comment: The barley continues to soak up liquid even under refrigeration. There was no broth left… I needed to add 16 more ounces of beef broth to the soup, then I adjusted the seasonings. Cook’s Illustrated was a little off with this recipe and I did not add the 6 oz. of mushrooms which would have made the soup extremely thick!

For future reference I would add an additional 8 oz. of beef broth, 8 oz. of chicken broth, a tsp. extra soy sauce, a little more tomato paste and more thyme to taste. Adjust any other ingredients as desired. The soup is really worth making and reminded me of Beef Bourguignon when I first made it and before the barley expanded a lot more.

Recipe by Cooking With Aunt Juju

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Chocolate Raspberry Thumbprints

Thumbprint cookies are fun to make because you can add any filling you want – this is a cookie that can be made to your taste and of course your family. I was thinking about Valentine’s Day and something sweet to make and this cookie popped up. First as an email from KAF (King Arthur Flour) and then it was in Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook, Dorie’s Cookies, which I just bought. I mean chocolate and raspberry – what a great pairing!


One thing I like about recipes coming through KAF  is that there are comments from people who have actually made the recipe along with their suggestions. A couple of comments suggested that the cookies needed more flavor; one blogger suggested adding espresso powder which I know to be a chocolate enhancer. Another suggested a tbsp. of Amaretto.  Hmm… a delicious liquor or added chocolate enhancer – I went with the espresso powder, but only added 1/2 tsp. versus 1 tsp. that was suggested. Very nice chocolate flavor with a sweet touch of the raspberry jam and a drizzle with chocolate.

Chocolate Raspberry Thumbprints, Adapted

  • 2-1/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. espresso powder to enhance the chocolate flavor
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg white, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup raspberry jam (wouldn’t peanut butter or another filling be delicious too)
  • 1/3 cup each milk and white chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease two baking sheets or if you prefer line with parchment paper. Sift the flour, cocoa and espresso powder together and set aside.

Beat the softened butter, sugar and salt together on medium speed in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Reduce the speed to low and blend in the egg white and vanilla.

Add the flour mixture in three additions, mixing only until combined.

Scoop the dough into tablespoonfuls and roll into balls. A cookie scoop works really good! Place on the baking sheet and make an indentation in the center of each ball with your finger or the end of a wooden spoon handle.

Fill each indentation with raspberry jam.

Bake the cookies for 16-18 minutes, or until they feel firm to the touch and the jam is bubbling. Remove and allow to cool before transferring to a rack to finish cooling completely.

Of course I wanted to drizzle these cookies with chocolate. I melted white and milk chocolate separately over just simmering, not boiling, water and drizzled over the cookies. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set the chocolate.

Store at room temperature or they can be frozen.

Recipe from Cooking with Aunt Juju

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