Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sue Carpenter Banovetz: Mayme, Can I get your recipe or basic instructions for your tomato sauce? Nick said it's molto bene. Ciao, ma amica.

Mayme Donsker: Certo!

Nick Banovetz: ay caramba

Dear Sue,

I have no measured recipe, but I will tell you a few simple rules about making authentic Italian tomato sauce. But first! here is some background about my understanding of Italian cooking:

I gathered these clues by peeking over my Nona's shoulder in Umbria, I couldn't speak Italian yet but I could smell, taste and see. At the time I had such little background in cooking but I knew that I was tasting the best tomato sauce in my I put intimidation aside as I watched her like a hawk, and for the first time I attempted to memorize my pallet. This has been the best and the most useful instrument I have developed as a cook!

When you go to Italy and you see a sign that reads "Trattoria" in front of a restaurant, it means that these are recipes passed on through the family for generations. This is why Italian cooking has so much soul! When I moved to Rome I learned a few simple rules when I took some cooking classes, this gave me some structure.

Mayme's authentic salsa di pomodoro:

American Italian sauce: Soupy, thick and heavy.
Our favorite herb: Bay leaf

Authentic Italian sauce: Infused olive oil that lightly dresses the noodles. Their favorite herbs: Fresh Rosemary, Fresh basil.


~ Olive oil
~ Must be tasty Tomatoes:

Sometime I use a box of cherry tomatoes, they are always so sweet and yummy! I cut them into halves. Italians use Roma Tomatoes..I cut them into quarters and I leave the skin on.

~ Three cloves crushed garlic
~ two sprigs fresh rosemary
~ a couple fresh sage leaves
~ Brown sugar, or plain sugar
~ salt and pepper
~ Red pepper or chile pepper or paprika (whatever you like) can be a little more generous with paprika.

Okay Sue, this is simple but you need to taste as you go.

~ Start with a generous amount of olive oil in your warm sauce pan, enough to dress your noodles. The olive oil is the bulk of your sauce. will be reducing the water from the tomatoes in your oil, so don't depend on the tomatoes too much... we want to cook the water down.

~ Throw in a couple cloves of crushed garlic, swirl around until the oil smells amazing (when it just starts to smell good, it's done it's magic), remove the garlic from the oil before the cloves brown! (it will make your oil bitter if it burns).

~ Throw the used garlic into your boiling noodle water, Italians always flavor their noodle water with garlic, oil, maybe some chile powder or some fresh but arid herbs (Rosemary, thyme, sage....).

~ Add a couple stems of fresh Rosemary or sage to your garlic infused oil. These herbs don't get bitter as they burn, you can keep them in the oil, plus they make the house smell sooooo good.

~ Add a couple dashes of brown sugar to the oil

~ Add a dash of chile or paprika

~ Salt and pepper to taste, bringing out the flavors as it lightly sizzles.

~ Taste your oil, the infused oil is the base of your sauce, if it's too bitter you can start again before you use your tomatoes. It should taste aromatic, sweet, garlicky and salty.

~ When your oil is ready, throw in your tomatoes. Cook down until the tomato water is reduced.

~ Taste, and add more salt, pepper, or sugar if it needs it.

~ When the tomatoes and the tomato water have cooked down, remove from heat. At this point you can leave it chunky and rustic looking or you can blend it in the food processor.

~ Add full basil leaves when your sauce has cooled so they do not wilt before serving, this looks beautiful and it tastes fresh.

~ Grate real parmigiano reggiano! Less is more with the good stuff! The better the cheese the better the sauce!

~ Dress your noodles, drink chianti classico and buon appititio!



Wednesday, October 21, 2009



1 box of Betty Crocker Carrot Cake mix
1 small can of pumpkin canned
2 eggs
1/2 cup of oil
1/2 cup of milk


follow direction from box



1/3 of water
1 cup sugar
1 orange


Put water in saucepan.
Sugar in saucepan over a medium high heat until sugar water cooks bubbles.
You want to swirl the pan over heat; don't stir as it will turn brittle. Do not leave stove when cooking because the liquid could quickly overcook.
Keep swirling until it stops bubbling so much as it becomes a brown caramel color -- you want it dark not light.
Turn off heat.
Squeeze one orange until all the juice comes out.
Pour it into the caramel while still swirling, otherwise it will not be mixed properly.
Put on medium heat.
Add a generous dash Grand Marnier or vanilla extract.

Pair with apple cider.

* The dressing would make an excellent and inexpensive to substitute to syrup!!

Thanks Sinta for the recipe!

-- posted by Michelle

Monday, October 19, 2009

So this past week everyone in the house has come down with a cold. There's sickness everywhere. The sole person in our house, Jon, who exercises regularly pretty much bypassed it -- i think he got a cough, for like, a half hour -- and apparently the rest of us were not as fit as much as we hoped, thus our poorly performing immune system. Sinta, our health-guru-in-residence kindly and generously let us use her Metagenic's Ultra Potent-C Powder, which is pure vitamin C. She advised us to take a teaspoon with a small mug of warm water every fifteen minutes until it basically all blasts out of you. It takes a day or two to really work, but it does help, and the symptoms were lessened. Food-wise, we've been downing steaming cups of citrus tasting water and chicken noodle soup. Unfortunately, this specific brand is only available at health clinics, but there are other versions available at the local pharmacy.

If this isn't something you're up for, or if you're too low on cash, the other suggestion I have would be to do a exercise regime of one hundred jumping jacks, yoga, fly girl dancing and a twelve mile long bike ride ( boots with heels gives you a plus for audacity and a minus for possible pain later on). All you need is plenty of water, some WD40, music and a badass state of mind. Also, be mindful. And don't fall prey to alcohol or cigarettes. That's just dumb.

-- posted by Michelle

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Eddie Murphy Raw.

Skit about his father working at a toy factory and being so poor he couldn't feed his twelve children so they had to eat toys.

"We ate the toys and we never complained.
Cause my mother can cook her ass off.
My mother got some hot sauce and salt 'n pepper and make a Tonka Truck taste so delicious, the wheels would melt in your mouth, Eddie."

This stuff will always be hilarious.

--posted by Michelle

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hello all...

Thanks for the support and comments.
All the feedback has been really helpful. The most common request about the blog is to make a useful tool for most everyone. Specifically, writing about how to choose and prepare food that is fairly easy to make, nutritious and, of course, cost effective. I understand this because the only reason why I'm taking part in making these meals is because I live with great cooks. Slowly I'm learning the basics, but I always have a teacher by my side. What I'm saying is, I probably wouldn't make any of these recipes either, the exception being a meal for a special occasion. It's beneficial to learn how to be resourceful cooking every day meals. My friend Sean suggested documenting a trip to the grocery store and listing staples everyone should have in their kitchen, which is something we want to do. Sinta -- our roommate is the other amazing chef besides Mayme, is trained to help people food budget based on their means, helps create 'meal plans' based on nutrition, and in the end help clients create delicious, healthy meals -- suggested making recipes based on five ingredients that are in season, therefore more inexpensive. Or designing meals based off staples in the fridge. Good stuff. We'll focus on incorporating these ideas.

Today, Mayme, Jon and I had a 'food huddle' regarding some of these concerns and the direction of the blog; we agreed the last thing we want is the recipes we post to come off intimidating or unclear. To address the latter, we would like to work on a format that would be visually easy to digest. That may mean displaying the ingredients, cook time and process at the beginning of each post, in case you just want to make the food without reading the whole background story. The great thing about blogging is that it's not precious; you can try different things that make it work better.

Also, I feel I must inform you as to what we've been cooking the past week or so. We've been very busy and ambitious lately: Jon made a french dish with shrimp (apologies that the name is escaping me), Mayme made her grandma's chicken dish with rice and homemade banana ice cream with fudge and Sinta spearheaded Thanksgiving Dinner in honor of her friend visiting from Chile -- we all pitched in on the food which included turkey doused with ginger ale, pears, oranges and stuffing, sweet indonesian style gravy, cranberry sauce with pomegranate, carrots simmered in honey and orange juice, mashed potatoes, fried green tomatoes and pumpkin bars with liquor icing. We'll be sharing these recipes very soon. Although, not all of them -- especially the Thanksgiving Dinner -- were necessarily recession friendly, they were delicious and we did cut a few corners to save cost; ginger ale substituted champagne for the turkey, a very smart decision on Sinta's part. Sometimes, as Mayme likes to say, choosing certain quality ingredients go a long way, whereas the rest could be very inexpensive. Figuring out what gets substituted verses what gets invested in is something Mayme wants to address, as she possesses a naturally astute palette, in addition to years spent making meals from scratch -- particularly Midwestern family recipes, and dishes she learned in France and Italy. As novice cooks, Jon and I would like to share our experiences learning how to make meals, diving in and enjoying it, while being pragmatic. We're not going to preach the Trader Joe's cookbook; we're artists who happen to be intuitive, creative, sensory oriented, passionate, experimental and naturally inclined to communicate our visualizations -- as pretentious as it sounds it's sadly, true. And, we're also STARVING ARTISTS, for real. So, our goal for the blog is to share our varied perspectives, be informative and most importantly, inspire you to learn how to smell, taste and experience food in new ways -- with only five bucks to spare.

Please keep the comments coming. They keep the blog alive!

--posted by Michelle

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On the eve of Yom Kippur, Mayme made butterscotch pudding from scratch. She was a bad Jew. It was worth it though because it was goooood!

Butterscotch Pudding Recipe

yield: Makes 4 servings

active time: 15 min

total time: 1 3/4 hr


  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Accompaniment: lightly sweetened whipped cream


Whisk together brown sugar, cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a heavy medium saucepan, then whisk in milk and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking frequently, then boil, whisking, 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla. Pour into a bowl, then cover surface with buttered wax paper and chill until cold, at least 1 1/2 hours.

Combine cream, milk and brown sugar in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Set aside. Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in heavy large saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until mixture turns deep amber color, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Slowly pour cream mixture into caramel (mixture will bubble vigorously). Bring to boil, whisking frequently to dissolve any caramel bits. Remove from heat.

Beat yolks in large bowl. Whisk in caramel mixture. Stir in vanilla and salt. Strain custard. Skim any air bubbles from surface. Refrigerate custard until cold, about 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Divide custard among six 3/4-cup custard cups. Place cups in roasting pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of cups. Bake pudding until set in center, about 45 minutes. Remove cups from pan. Cool at room temperature 2 hours. Cover; chill overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.)

Mayme suggests making this dessert on a cool fall day. Jon recommends viewing Miss Marple, the British television series. Dim the lights and accessorize your table with a candelabra ( we used birthday candles in ours -- disclaimer: they will stay lit for only five minutes).

-posted by Michelle

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

sorry folks for lack of updates.
we here at 6th street have been trying our darnest to get jobs, and get out and do other things outside the blogosphere.
we have been continuing to eat food (you were probably wondering) and make amazing dishes that will remain undocumented. BUT. we will have something fun posted real soon. it may even involve buying food with FOOD STAMPS.
i know you can't wait.

signing off on behalf of the entire house,


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mayme recommends:


Bringing food alive with your
loving presence.
To have compassion, to have respect
for fresh foods, for broken bowls,
for dirty napkins, and little bugs.
To take care of leftovers,
not saying, oh that's all right, we have plenty
we can throw that away.
Because everything is saying love me,
have compassion, hold me gently.
Please hug me now and then
(we're really one, not two),
but don't get attached
(we're really two, not one).
The bowls and knives, the table, the teapot,
the leftovers, the molding vegetables,
the juicy fruit,
everything is asking this of you:
make full use,
take loving care
of me.
The cups, the glasses, the sponges,
the sticky honey jar,
all asking to fulfill.
Just to make deepest love all the time,
concentrating not on the food, but on yourself:
making your best effort to allow things
to fulfill their functions. In this way
everything is deliciously full
of warmth and kindness.

excerpt from: The Tassajara Bread Book

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Mayme's Egg Cluster

A cast iron egg mold is one of the cutest kitchen accessories you can own. Instantly, your eggs are perfectly round. You can make egg in the hole (bread that has a round cut out in the middle filled with egg) or use it as a cookie cutter. Although it is more aesthetic than function, we believe it is still worth investing in because the visual punch tricks your mind into making the flavor go a long way. Why is this a recession recipe? Well, we had three eggs on hand, bacon and bread and there were three hungry people. When cooking eggs, the molds come in handy as it allows you to stack up ingredients as a result of it's tall walls and everything stays cute and contained.


Mayme's Egg Cluster

yield: Serves 3

cook time: 15 mins.


  • 3 eggs
  • dash salt
  • dash pepper
  • 6 pieces of bacon
  • dash of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 fist fulls of basil
  • 1 fist full of chives
  • mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons chilled unsalted butter
  • 3 slices of bread

To begin, punch out bread (one circle per piece) with egg mold in the manner you'd use a cookie cutter. Butter edges of egg mold and place eggs in skillets inside the egg molds. Dash of salt in pepper on each egg and dash of olive oil.

As you let it congeal, pick fresh chives and basil from garden -- one fist full for chives and two fists full for basil. A word of advice from our house gardener Jon: pluck it from the stock so it grows full. Planting your own garden is cost effective and nutritious. For more inquires regarding starting and sustaining gardens contact Jon at; he also can help with your landscaping needs. Sprinkle herbs on eggs - rip chives into pieces or cut them

Place bacon on griddle and add a dash of balsamic on top. We used an expensive bottle of balasmic called Villa Mandori Dark Cherry at Surdyks Cheese Shop. Even though it's an investment, you only use a teaspoon at a time because it's so sweet and rich that you can put it on icecream or add it to a savory dish and it will instantly be special. Sometimes it is worth it to spend more money on cheese, balsamic vinegar and olive oil if you use it in special ways.

Spread mayonnaise on bread. Sprinkle any kind of cheese you have on hand on the eggs. We had Mexican Farmers' cheese. Mayme suggests investing in a good brick of artisanal cheese ( $7 or $8) because a little bit will go a long way. In other words, you end up using a more generic brand of cheese to compensate for the lack of flavor, whereas artisanal cheese is so intense you need only a small amount.

Cook eggs for about ten minutes. Place them each on a slice of bread. Add fruit to balance out the salty, rich egg and bacon. We cut up slices of watermelon, which has a lot of water content; perfect after you've had a wild night out on the town and you're craving a greasy spoon breakfast but you're also in need of serious hydration. Garnish with flowers (if you have them) from the garden, otherwise we trust your creative instincts to use what you have around you to create a beautiful presentation.

Recession = Resourcefulness and Thinking Outside Of The Box.

Shout out to Aunt Cheryl: she has the very novel suggestion of using an empty "CLEAN" tuna (with both ends cut out) can to create your own egg circles. Tip: lift it out of the pan with a tong -- apparently, she speaks from experience. She also suggested that we bloggers stress the -- in her words --" no money, no means" with a lot more imagination, which is a very good idea, because most down and out people won't go out and buy cast iron egg molds.

If anyone has any interesting suggestions, please contact us and we'll include it on our blog.


Now go to it, kids.

-- posted by Mayme and Michelle

Friday, September 4, 2009

When Mormons stockpile food we know our economy is in trouble.

The Morman Index is a rising sign of troubled economy

St.Louis Post-Dispatch/January 22, 2009 By Tim Townsend

Bridgeton - It's an obscure gauge of the economy's direction, tied to food assistance and stockpiling by members the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's been called the Mormon Index, and it's rising.

It's rising at a nondescript church-owned warehouse situated among other nondescript warehouses (Dynamic Fastener, Southwest Stainless, Meridian Waste Services) in an industrial park here, not far from the airport.

The warehouse, called the Bishop's Storehouse, is a food cannery and distribution center that serves two practical purposes. It allows the church to help feed members who are struggling financially, and it allows all church members to can dry goods for long-term storage in their homes in case of disaster.

For Mormons, heeding their church leaders' call to stockpile food fills a psychological need to be prepared for calamities. And when Mormons build up those stockpiles, some economists prick up their ears.

Likewise, when activity at the country's 109 Bishop's Storehouses increases, some economists see a growing anxiety about safety and sustenance across the broader American population.

James Goodrich, who runs the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints welfare program in Salt Lake City, said there was "no question that the economy has had an impact on our storehouses systemwide."

Orders at the Bridgeton warehouse have doubled in the past six months, according to its managers, and they tripled around the holidays.

"Recently it's been almost a mayhem or pandemonium situation," said Bob Armstrong, a longtime volunteer at the facility.

Economists are interested in the dynamic Armstrong is describing. Many read the tiniest of tea leaves for hints of financial direction - coal futures in central Appalachia, copper prices, container counts in the Port of Los Angeles.

Daniel Gross, author of "Pop!: Why Bubbles Are Great For The Economy," who has written about the above arcane metrics in his column for Slate, said the Mormon Index and similar boutique economic clues are often more reliable than big-gun barometers, such as housing starts and the unemployment rate.

"Some of the more obscure indicators actually tell you something real because they're not subject to manipulation," Gross said. "What they're measuring is unambiguous, and in this case, these numbers are measuring stress in the Mormon community."


The church's storehouses are frequently attached to canneries, called Family Home Storage Centers, where Mormons (and their non-Mormon guests) buy and can their own dry goods - like wheat, rice, powdered milk, sugar and oats.

"We believe temporal welfare is important to how we live as Christians," said Kent Holt, president of the church's O'Fallon, Ill., stake, one of four local geographical subdivisions, each of which includes about 10 congregations. "The church has a focus on helping its members be self-reliant and maintain their independence."

In the wake of the Great Depression, church leaders said they received a revelation from God that Mormons should keep a long-term supply (currently one year) of essential food staples, and a three-month, rotating supply of food eaten more frequently.

In a 1974 speech about the revelation, Ezra Benson, who later became the church's president, cited Mormon scripture as the basis for the theology behind preparing for the unknown.

In the Doctrine and Covenants, God tells his people, "Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come ... I, the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth."

Those possible calamities, according to Benson, included references in biblical and Mormon literature to "a great hailstorm sent forth to destroy the crops of the earth," "an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land" and "famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes."

Benson left no doubt about the importance of being prepared.

"The revelation to store food may be as essential to our temporal salvation today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah," he said.


Winona and Kevin Black began stocking their shelves a couple of years after their 1985 wedding. When they moved to St. Louis, in 1990, they had two small children and began their food storage in earnest. Kevin Black was a resident at Barnes Hospital at the time, and the family was spending $30 a week on food.

Today, with seven children, the Blacks have increased their food budget to $100 a week, and they've abided by the church's food-storage suggestions for two decades.

One of their daughter's twin mattresses was set up on boxes filled with cans of powdered milk, potato flakes and red beans. Shelves in an upstairs closet of their Crestwood house are balanced on the large No. 10 cans used in the church's cannery operation and filled with wheat.

In a separate storage room downstairs, more boxes of wheat, pasta, sugar and oats sit next to multiple jars of mayonnaise, boxes of soup mix, bags of popcorn and cans of refried beans.

Winona Black keeps a black marker in the room to help her keep track of the rotation of supplies.

"If you have three months' worth of food and for some reason you couldn't leave your house, or you lost your job, that's one thing you wouldn't have to think about right away," Winona Black said.

But practicality is only one incentive for the family.

"The reason we do it is because a man we believe is a prophet of God said we should," Winona Black said. "That's the bottom line on why have a whole year's supply of food."

The church funds the Bishop's Storehouse program through volunteer efforts and money it receives from donations known as fast offerings. One Sunday each month, members of the church eat only one meal and donate the money they would have used for the other two to the program.

The Bridgeton facility includes the storehouse, the cannery, an employment center and a family counseling center. Any church member may use any of the facilities. Many reserve time at the cannery through their congregations, often in groups of up to 20 to make the process more efficient. Joanna and Frank Soles, who manage the cannery, keep a calendar of reservations, and that calendar has stayed full in recent months.

Current prices to fill the No. 10 cans include 5.2 pounds of pinto beans for $5.05, 5.8 pounds of hard red wheat for $2.95 and 1.3 pounds of dried apple slices for $6.95 - all of which have a storage life of 30 years.

Once a month, two semi-truck loads of food pull up to the Bridgeton storehouse from Salt Lake City, where the church's central food warehouse is located. About 80 percent of the food at the storehouses comes from church-owned farms, orchards and processing plants.

Each Mormon congregation assembles a "welfare committee" which is responsible for identifying members who might be in need of temporary assistance - to get over a recent layoff or health problem, for instance.

When a member of that committee has visited the family in question and assessed its needs, the congregation's lay leader, called a bishop, signs an order for the food. The family then visits the Bishop's Storehouse and fills the order with the help of volunteers.


The main storeroom at the Bridgeton storehouse features three levels of pallets stacked 16 feet high and a roaming forklift. Plans are under way to knock down walls and expand the room by 2010 to accommodate the crowds.

Church leaders stress that whatever help struggling Mormons receive is temporary and aimed only to get them on their feet again. Each order is meant to last a family two weeks, at which point their bishop has to reauthorize another visit to the storehouse.

And while no money is exchanged, church members who benefit from the storehouse are expected to give back to the community in other ways - baby-sitting for another member of the congregation, fixing someone's leaky roof, cleaning the church - in order to preserve their sense of dignity.

For years, Iris and John Walter of Jerseyville have volunteered for the church's welfare programs and donated their fast offering to the Bishop's Storehouse program. But in November, John lost his job as an accountant, and the couple have seen the storehouse from the other side in recent months.

Last week, as John was changing into a suit to tape a mock interview as part of his job-search training at the facility's employment center, Iris gathered the week's fruit, eggs, cheese and milk.

"The prophet was inspired to have this for us," she said, "and it's wonderful to have it when you need it."

-- posted by Michelle

Monday, August 31, 2009

Wild Mushroom Tarte

Disclaimer: if you are planning on going out and hunting wild mushrooms be careful. Don't pluck and munch if you're inexperiencd at mushroom identification. Bring a book with good illustrations/photos/descriptions etc. or better yet, take an expert along. We don't condone death on this blog.

When you're poor you sometimes have to go to great lengths to cost cut. In regards to food it may mean dumpster diving for fruit in the back of co-op food markets, or cutting out the moldy bits on bread and eating the remaining parts-- hey, every little bit helps. If you really want to be hardcore you learn about edible plants and fungi and turn to hunting and gathering the way people have always done. The Time Before Supermarkets. Historically, we haven't always had the luxury of indecision that we modern humans have wasted many a precious moment on -- trying to decide between Paul Newman's Spicy Italian vs. Vodka Sauce is a common time waster for me. Nope. There is life or death either by starvation or poisoning, but I digress. One of the best times to forage is after a rainfall. In particular, it is a perfect time for wild mushroom hunting as they are abundant. The area around Lake Pleasant in North Oaks is full of all sorts of plant life and different types of mushrooms so it's a great place to look. Bob Donsker lives nearby, a man of many talents, such as photography and cooking, he also happens to be particularly knowledgeble when it comes to identifying mushrooms. So much so that he and his family go hunting for morel mushrooms every spring -- but that is another food story. A couple days ago, Bob, Sue and Mayme Donsker decided they were feeling adventurous and started off around the lake in search of yummy things. They ended up finding lots of porcini mushrooms, but most were either a few days too old or if they were edible they were half eaten by animals-- good sign when in starvation mode, kids (although, Mayme points out that mushrooms are hardly a source of nutrition; they are more like sponges that soak up the flavors of different foods similar to tofu) Luckily, toward the end of their hike they happened across three large porcini. Notable characteristics: net-like veining on the stalk and the underside does not have gills, but it's quite spongy. The cap is reddish brown and resembles a bread roll. The British call this species penny buns while the french word is cepes and the Italians call it what is now most commonly referred to, porcini.

Much to the delight of her housemates, Mayme brought two mushrooms back to NE and got to work on making a Wild Mushroom Tarte. It turned out they weren't posionous -- wouldn't be writing you if they were -- one way to find out if it is a look-a-like imposter is to cut the mushroom in half and if it turns blue, don't eat it.
Cost restrictions created a few alterations in the recipe we got from we had a stub of gruyere and parmesan so both were used -- rule of thumb: two different types of cheese creates a more dimensional end result. Instead of brandy or cognac we used Martini & Rossi Rosso, which we still don't quite know what type of liquor it is other than it's brown and fantastic smelling. Mayme also decided to double the recipe for the dough to compensate for the number of people to feed. Since we didn't have the money to go out and buy phyllo dough we made it from scratch which is more labor intensive but worth it -- the ingredients are pretty cheap and staple, but the result is very special, authentic and buttery almost like a traditional french tarte Jon and Sinta completed the meal by creating an excellent rice pudding dressed up with lime zest as a dessert (will eventually post that recipe, too)

We ate outside at the picnic table which was decorated, smartly, with a phlox flower as a center piece (I thinks it looks like a swim cap because the flowers grow in a tight round cluster like a little bouquet or hat-- see previous entry 'day of magic' for photo) in darkness except for a few candles and the light of a waxing moon. While we drank wine and ate we started talking about how during the recession it is easy to feel depressed and defeated; you think the last thing you can have or deserve is the pleasure of a beautiful meal, but actually it is a perfect time to treat yourself, come together, pitch in whatever everyone can offer and as a result, lift the spirits, fill your tummy and hopefully make one more productive or at the very least, groovy. Also, it inspires cute little stories such as the one Mayme told about her two-year old niece, also named Mayme, riding in the car to Target in the evening with her Nanna Sue a few days prior.
Little Mayme says, "The moon is following us."
Nanna Sue replies, "Hm?"
"The Moon is chasing us."
Mayme realizes they are moving but the moon stays put.
The car turns around a bend. Mayme cannot see the moon anymore.
"Where is the moon?" she asks.
"At Target." replies Nanna Sue.

( laughter and applause )

Wild Mushroom Tarte

yield: Serves 6


  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons (about) ice water

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs
  • 2/3 cup grated Gruyère cheese
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg


For crust:
Blend flour and salt in processor. Cut in butter using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add enough water to blend dough. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic, chill 45 minutes.

Roll out dough on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Trim edges, leaving 1/2-inch overhang. Fold overhang in to form double-thick sides. Press tart edges to raise dough 1/8 inch above pan. Chill 30 minutes.

For filling:
Bring 1 cup water to boil in saucepan. Add porcini; remove from heat and let stand 30 minutes. Spoon porcini from liquid; reserve liquid. Coarsely chop porcini.

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add porcini and crimini mushrooms. Season with salt; sauté until deep golden, about 10 minutes. Add shallots; sauté 2 minutes. Add Cognac and reserved porcini liquid, leaving any sand behind in saucepan. Boil until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Mix in 1 tablespoon herbs. Cool.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line crust with foil. Fill with dried beans; bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

Sprinkle 1/3 cup cheese in crust. Cover with mushrooms. Whisk cream, yolks, egg and 1 tablespoon herbs in bowl. Pour custard over mushrooms. Top with remaining cheese. Bake until filling is set and top is golden, about 30 minutes. Cool on rack 15 minutes.


*We paired the meal with Davinci Chianti 2007. Mayme suggests when you cook a meal of a certain region you should try to pair a wine from that same region. Epicurious recommends: Beaujolais-Mommessin from France $14 , Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir Estate Ribbon Ridge 2006 from Oregan $25. Or if you're at the risk of overdrafting, you can pick up the "Two Buck Chuck" at Trader Joes.

We recommend: Nina Simone -- The Tomato Collection while preparing this meal. Also, accompany this music with lots of swaying, gyrating and bralessness.

--written by Michelle as told by Mayme

Sunday, August 30, 2009

potato latkes

The story behind the meal:

Michelle and I found we're often conflicted when we have to decide between savory and sweet for breakfast and the potato latke combines both. This version is the perfect combination of savory, sweet and sour. Although somewhat labor intensive it is inexpensive and very satisfying. Perhaps during the recession you need to take a staple ingredient and pamper it to get dimensional yet affordable results.

I make latkes every Hanukkah but I substituted Marionberry for apple sauce this time around because it is what we had in the fridge and as a result it was a delightful taste explosion.

"Latkes are traditionally eaten during the Hanukkah tradition. The oil for cooking the latkes is reminiscent of the oil from the Hanukkah story that kept the Second Temple of ancient Israel lit with a long-lasting flame that is celebrated as a miracle" (Wikipedia).

We combined the traditional Jewish sour cream Latke with Marionberry jam which is more reminescent of swedish potato pancakes.
--posted by Mayme

On a personal note: Marionberrys are the cabernet of berrys. They also happen to be Mayme's "spirit fruit" as declared by Jon. He reasoned that Mayme and Marionberries are both sweet, refreshing and complex but sophisticated and can be made into wine, jam and pie filling.
-- posted by Michelle

*Michelle and Mayme are charmed by Jon's unique ability to quickly come up with edible metaphors for different personality types. He's got the skills to pay the bills. Hopefully.


yield: Makes 12 to 16 latkes

active time: 45 min

total time: 45 min


  • 1 pound potatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil

  • Accompaniments: sour cream and applesauce


Preheat oven to 250°F.

Peel potatoes and coarsely grate by hand, transferring to a large bowl of cold water as grated. Soak potatoes 1 to 2 minutes after last batch is added to water, then drain well in a colander.

Spread grated potatoes and onion on a kitchen towel and roll up jelly-roll style. Twist towel tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible. Transfer potato mixture to a bowl and stir in egg and salt.

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches of 4 latkes, spoon 2 tablespoons potato mixture per latke into skillet, spreading into 3-inch rounds with a fork. Reduce heat to moderate and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes. Turn latkes over and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt. Add more oil to skillet as needed. Keep latkes warm on a wire rack set in a shallow baking pan in oven.


day of magic

yesterday was the first unofficial day of fall. the previous night was filled with wine, corn, eggplant and good company. we woke up and promptly made french toast on an iron skillet over the range with powdered sugar and wonder bread from the 8th street market. jon was worried he was a pig because he ate three french toasts instead of that allotted two. nick and i had to split one to make up for it but it was alright because mayme made more. after the rest of the company left and we had cleaned up, mayme and i decided to take a walk across the bridge into dinkytown and go window shopping. we commented on how cute the shorts were but didn't intend to buy as we were both broke. when we arrived back home we decided to eat (again) and jon showed up. looking around at what we had on hand mayme made the executive decision to cook up homemade spaghetti sauce with fried zucchini, while jon whipped up a rhubarb crisp from the garden (his first!) ate outside with candles and freshly cut flowers, a hunk of serious looking cheese, a shared napkin, tea and max's computer to document the whole affair. we garnished the meal with fresh basil and ate until we were suffering from heartburn...basically it was a perfect amount of food and the perfect end of summer meal. btw. jon's crisp was more of a rhubarb sauce with crispy edges which paired perfectly with ice cream. i'd highly recommend it. drunk on food, sugar and starch we got silly on facebook and posted tons of images no one else would care about, but us. mayme suggested we sleep on the porch (her second slumber party in a row!) where we watched mad men season 1. then we fell asleep. woke up the next day and again, unsurprisingly, mayme immediately got to work on grating potatoes cross legged on the floor while we looked on with supportive words/ expressions. we better get to helping her now.

signing off,
jon and michelle