Spring is teasing us in Mankato. Yesterday was an INCREDIBLE 65 degrees, today we are back down to 30. But that brief whisper of spring fills me with a lot of hope.

I've been meaning to write for, well months. I always want to write more. But I spend all day at work, and school, staring at a screen so then somehow the idea of staring at a screen for pleasure just turns me off. Instead, I cook. Last night was Jamie Oliver's salmon cakes - which were unbelievably easy and delicious. (This blogger also expounds on their wonder). Matt & I decided though that they need a new name - "salmon cake" just doesn't sound appetizing, and certainly is not fitting for this easy, satisfying supper. I feel like someday I will lie to my children and tell them they are "Mom Cakes" and only when they are old enough to discern that the pink is, in fact, fish will they be disgusted.

However, despite the recent foray into spring - we've done quite a bit of winter eating, and perhaps not unsurprisingly derivative to my friend Murph's cravings. The week she made biscuits and creamed chicken, we had fried chicken strips, biscuits and cream gravy. Her miso soup adventures paralleled our discovery of easy egg drop soup. Coincidence? I think not. Lastly inspired by her pie crust, I made a chocolate pie (that riffed off of Lisa Fain's) around the same time as Murph's valentines cake. Kindred spirits indeed.

Below you will find my winter derivatives of Murphy's fine recipes - between the two, you should be able to find at least one option to suit your taste (and likely two).

Here's to putting Winter behind us!

Mark Bittman's Fast Egg Drop Soup
What you need:
4 cups good chicken broth (of your liking, homemade, canned, or you can do like me - herboux.)
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 scallions, sliced
1-2 thin slices peeled ginger
1-2 beaten eggs
1 tbsp. sesame oil
Garnishes of choice (watercress, snow peas, etc.)

What you do:
Heat broth, soy sauce, scallions, and ginger in a saucepan. Simmer mixture for ten minutes. Turn off heat. Spoon beaten egg into hot broth with a soup spoon and steady hand (this trick comes from Cook's Illustrated). With a full spoon full and at an even pace, pour egg from spoon in circles. Repeat until all egg is distributed into broth. This should produce long whisps of egg. Let rest for a few minutes. Add sesame oil, stir gently, and serve in bowls with desired garnishes.

Quick Chicken, Biscuits and Cream Gravy
What you need:
4-6 thawed chicken tenders per person (you can generally find these in the freezer sections of the grocery in big bags, or you can cut your own by slicing a boneless, skinless breast length wise)
1 cup corn meal
olive oil
2-3 biscuits per person
Peppered cream gravy (see below).

What you do:
Set a sturdy skillet over medium-high heat. While the skillet is heating, put your corn meal in a pie pan or shallow bowl. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken tenders. Next, add oil and butter to skillet. Swirl it around to coat the skillet. When skillet and fats are hot, dredge each side of a chicken tender in corn meal, and add immediately to the skillet. Do not do more than two or three tenders at a time, as it will slow the cooking. Also, do not dredge in advance, or coating will fall off and become soggy. Cook each side of the tenders for 3-4 minutes until coating is crispy and browned, and chicken is firm to the touch. Remove from pan and cool on paper towels. Repeat process until all the chicken is breaded and cooked.

Split biscuits down center, arrange tenders on top. Serve smothered in gravy and watch as your eaters grin as they dig into this southern staple (makes a decent breakfast too!)

Peppered Cream Gravy
(for two! If preparing for more, multiple recipe accordingly.)

What you need:
1 cup milk
3 tbsp butter or bacon fat
3 tbsp flour

What you do:
In a small skillet, melt fat and flour together. Just before the mixture starts to bubble, remove from heat. This can be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge until needed.

Warm milk in a sauce pan on the stove over medium heat. When milk is warm to the touch, add fat/flour mixture. Stir constantly with a whisk, making sure to get down to the very bottom of the pan. Continue mixing over medium heat until milk begins to thicken. Thicken over heat until desired consistency is achieved. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I recommend more rather than less pepper).

Makifish Reinterprets Grandma's Chocolate Pie
First, let me just say the best chocolate pie I've ever had was in Texas at the Monument Cafe. And I will search from now until my dieing day for a recipe that replicates its splendor. This one comes close (but still not quite! Damn you Monument and your pie, so distant from my current home.)

What you need:
1 cooked pie crust, Murph's kicks booty (I know - I've messed around with A LOT of pie crust).
4 tablespoons of cocoa
3/4 cups of sugar
5 tablespoons of flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
2 egg yolks, beaten slightly
1 tablespoon of butter

What you do:
On the counter, sift together sugar, flour, salt, cocoa into a sauce pan. Briefly beat eggs and milk and then add to dry with a whisk.
Put the saucepan over medium heat and cook while stirring. When it bubbles and thickens, you are good to go. This took longer than I expected and I started to stress out - but like magic, it thickened up, almost all at once. Remove from heat and beat out any lumps. Then stir in your vanilla and butter.

Fill cooled pie crust with filling. Lisa Fain puts a meringue on hers - I didn't bother. I let everything cool slightly on the counter, and then popped it in the freezer. After a few hours of chilling, slice up and serve.


  1. Monument cafe is just up the road a bit from me. A friend introduced me. He has the book of roadside, local diners that they first got famous in. I've only been there for breakfast, so pie was not quite on the menu. But, what an omelet...

  2. I've missed you friend.

    Kindred spirits 'til the end.



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.