Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


When my kids were growing up I used to periodically put together various meal odds and ends and offer them all at once buffet style. When they asked what was for dinner (and it seemed they nearly always did ask), I'd reply in a chipper tone, "Tonight we are having a Smörgåsbord!". "You know - like Börk, the Swedish Chef on the Muppets!".At first they would be distracted by offering up their own faux Swedish declarations ("hirsky foursky parsky du!"). Then I'd try to get them involved helping set up the table in some fun way or another.

As they got older and more jaded however, they would press further. They'd ask, "What kind of smörgåsbord?".

At that point I tried to dazzle them with facts. "Technically a true smörgåsbord is Swedish, includes both cold and then hot dishes and is most often offered to guests as a celebratory or holiday feast!" I'd say. Elaborating, "If we lived in Sweden, we'd have all sorts of fish dishes!".

At that point one or the other of my kids would probably mutter something like "we aren't Swedish" or "I don't like fish" and wander off knowing it was leftovers night at our house but also knowing I could be depended upon to offer up enough variety that they would always be able to make a reasonable meal. Generally I'd supplement whatever hot dishes we were having with some sort of antipasti plate, and that would be that.

You see, I am half Italian, half Scotch-Irish. I cannot lay any legitimate claim whatsoever to my use of the word Smörgåsbord, except to offer in my defense that it sounded a lot classier and more desirable than either "buffet" or the even more pedestrian "leftovers". Besides, smörgåsbord is one of those words that is really fun to say.

Go ahead. Say it out loud. You know you want to. Smörgåsbord! See?

So anyway that is my blog today. A smörgåsbord. Not a literal Swedish feast, no, but a bit of this and that I have prepared lately and enjoyed but did not get around to posting about at length due to other pressing matters such as, well, mostly playing, with our new cat, Bijou.Yes - I am blaming the cat.

Harrumph! Without further ado - the Smörgåsbord!

First up Bread Pudding.Here is my very simple recipe and here is my son the chef's over the top Peanut Butter/Chocolate version. I am pretty sure he made his to impress a woman (and equally sure she is not me or his little sister).Then I made hoecakes and purple eyed peas for election night. I spotted the recipe at Homesick Texan's blog - she called them HopeCakes.I dumped all the hot water into the cup of corn meal at one time, but figured out later you put in however much is needed "until" a thick batter forms. I ended up dumping in more cornmeal to soak up the water and to show how forgiving these old techniques are it all turned out just fine. I fried our cakes up slowly, one or two at a time, so it would take longer and keep me occupied while we were waiting for meaningful returns to come in.

I was a little keyed up about the presidential election this year - how about you? Anyway - the hoecakes (also called hot water cornbread by some) were delicious and just the right crunchy counterpart to the bacony peas. I had a few green beans left from earlier in the week so I threw them in for color and to use them up. Ms. Pino, my Home Ec teacher from Jr. High, would be SO proud!

Last but certainly not least is the salad I made for us this past weekend to celebrate finding the Green Goddess dressing recipe(s) in an article in the New York Times.I recall the old style commercially prepared Green Goddess Dressing from Kraft. I read it is still available via mail order but with this simple recipe I am not sure why you'd bother. This tastes better even although it is not the eerie green of the bottled stuff. For some reason when I was a kid I used to think that bizarre green color was really cool. We've had the version from the NYT three times already and liked it more each go-round.I did sub in sardines for the anchovies because I had sardines on hand and have read how healthy they are for folks (a superfood reportedly!) so I am working to use them more frequently. I made the croutons for our Goddess Salad from some leftover bollilo rolls that had gotten stale. 

If you have not bothered making your own croutons lately may I gently recommend you do so? It only takes about 20 minutes and they are so much better than anything you can buy. You do have to keep an eye on them - the baking time is always approximate depending on what size your cubes are and how stale the bread is when you make them. 

But if you take them out as they first turn a golden brown you end up with the perfect bit of cubist crunch for your salads. Plus, they'll keep in a plastic bag at room temperature for several days (if you can resist eating them all at once, that is).

You can play with this as you wish, adding in various herbs and grated hard cheeses. I got the original recipe eons ago off the internet and as long as you don't leave these in the oven too long I think this is pretty much foolproof.

Garlic Croutons
4 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
3 (3/4 inch thick) slices good stale bread, cut into cubes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large sauté pan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in garlic; cook and stir for 1 minute.
3. Add bread cubes, and toss to coat. Spread on a baking sheet. (I put foil on mine to make clean up a snap.)
4. Bake for 15 minutes, or until crisp and dry. Check frequently to prevent burning. Cool. Store leftovers in a plastic bag at room temperature.

So there you have it.  Our little Smörgåsbord. Skål, y'all!


Flapjacks said...

euden beeden durden dooden!

PassivePastry said...

Talar du engelska?
Jog förstår inte!

TexasDeb said...

Um, ja? No? Eek!