Aunt Birdies’ Potato Salad

May 17, 2010

Aunt Birdie was 102 when she died in 1980. But she was still making her famous potato salad, and it was still wonderful. This is a very spare salad – quite unlike the mayonnaise version you may be used to – but it brings out all the sweetness of the potatoes. It gets better as it sits; I like it best on about day 3.

  • 3 pounds small potatoes
  • Pepper and salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 or 2 onions
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Boil potatoes in jackets, when cool enough to handle peel and slice.

Cut onions and mix into the potatoes.  Season with salt, pepper and sugar.  Over this add oil, mix.

Dilute vinegar with a little water, bring to a boil and add this while hot over the potatoes.  Mix well.

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Pesto Sauce

May 17, 2010

Hard to believe now, but when I wrote the book in 1971, Pesto seemed extraordinarily exotic. My editor had never heard of it. I still think it’s one of the most delicious things on the face of the earth.

  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoons pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Put all the ingredients except the cheese into a blender and blend until well mixed.

Stir in cheese.

This keeps well in the refrigerator if you seal the top with a layer of oil.  This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Notes: This is pre-food processor recipe, but it’s a LOT easier to make with a food processor than a blender.  It’s helpful to grind up the garlic first, then the pine nuts and finally the basil.

If you’re using this for pasta, add about 3 tablespoons of sweet butter at the end, and stir in some of the pasta cooking water to thin it out before tossing it all together.

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Matzo Brei

May 17, 2010

Serves 4

This is essentially Jewish French toast. In our house it has always been the traditional breakfast on Christmas mornings. My first husband, Doug, called it “fried cardboard,” but he loved it. Everybody does. I’ve found that it’s one of those foods that even the pickiest child will eat.

If you are feeding children, be sure to let them be the ones to break up the matzos, which make a very satisfying noise. And if you want, you could add a little more butter. My mother always said that lots of butter was the secret to matzo brei, and I won’t disagree. Brei, incidentally, rhymes with fry…

  • 5 matzos
  • 1 stick butter
  • 5 eggs
  • salt

Break matzos into a colander into small pieces.  Run under the tap and moisten well. Drain.

Melt butter in a large skilled. My mother says the secret of matzo brei is lots of butter, so if in doubt, add more. Beat eggs in a bowl. Add matzos and mix well. Put into pan and cook, stirring constantly, until eggs are set. Salt to taste.

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Orange Oatmeal Cake

May 17, 2010

  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 1 cup oatmeal, uncooked
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses or brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, if you want

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring orange juice to a boil, pour over oats and set aside.

Cream butter with sugar. Add molasses. Stir in eggs and vanilla.

Mix dry ingredients, then add to butter alternately with oats. Add orange rind and nuts.

Bake in large greased baking pan (13 by 9 inches) for 40 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes, then spread with the following topping.


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • grated rind of one orange
  • 1 cup dried sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Mix first 4 ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring. Add coconut and nuts, spread on cake and put under broiler for one minute.

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Buster’s Baked Beans

May 17, 2010

Serves 20 according to Buster. That’s ridiculous.

  • 2 pounds dry white Navy Beans
  • 2 cups dark beer
  • 1/2 pound salt pork
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 cups molasses
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup catsup
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound bacon, chopped

Wash the beans, cover with water and soak overnight.

In the morning change the water, add the salt pork and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer for one hour.

Drain beans, reserving broth. Mix the beans, 2 cups of broth, 1 cup of beer and remaining ingredients in a Dutch oven.

Bake at 250 degree for 6 to 9 hours, adding beer as needed. Uncover the pot during the last hour of cooking so that the top becomes crusty.

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