Home cook Natalie Bluestein
There are so many jokes and pokes about in-law relationships, it's refreshing to find one that buries the stereotype.EttaLeah Bluestein has nothing but praise for her daughter-in-law, who is married to her son Scott: “Natalie Bluestein is a fabulous cook and expert baker with her favorite being a pound cake. She bakes a large variety of desserts and always serves a delicious dinner for family, friends and parties. She can whip up a dessert in a hurry. One of the most outstanding things she also does is have her dining table centerpiece always depicting the season, holiday or special event with the rest of the table setting coordinating with the theme.”EttaLeah suggested Natalie for this week's featured home cook.Name: Natalie BluesteinAge: 46Residence: Sullivan's IslandFamily: Husband, Scott; puppies Pippa and Paddington; cats Agatha and Annabelle; and lots of fish.Occupation: Family law attorneyQ: Most people who enjoy cooking and are good at it have a good cook in their past. Who was your inspiration, and why?A: My grandmother, Nat Powell, is one of the best cooks I know, and I learned much of what I know about cooking from her. Gran is a “country cook,” and never measures anything, so I finally had her put “the right amount” of each ingredient in a bowl one year so I could measure it out and add the measurement for “the right amount” to our family recipes. Now everyone can use them, and they always turn out the same way!Q: Are you more of a cook or a baker? Which do you prefer, and why?A: I like to cook, but I love to bake. I love the way desserts look, and I think the better something looks, the better people think it tastes. It's also easier in many ways than cooking. Exact measurements aren't usually that important in cooking, but they definitely are in baking. If you follow the measurements, it's possible to bake beautifully, even if you can't cook!Q: How would you describe your overall style?A: Fairly simple but elegant, and the presentation is very important — I like to tie in a theme with the serving dish, color and garnishes.Q: You work full-time and do volunteer work. How do you find the time for making meals? A: I try to plan ahead for the upcoming week, and I tend to make things on weekends, like sauces and casseroles. I usually will make more than I need, so they can be frozen for later use.Q: How often do you try a new recipe? What are some of your favorite sources?A: I try new recipes all the time. I read lots of cooking magazines and try at least a few new recipes every month, and of course, I love trying the recipes readers send in to The Post and Courier. Q: Whose cooking do you admire, whether a local chef or “celebrity” chef, and why?A: I miss Rose Durden, the original chef at Carolina's — her food was fabulous, beautifully presented and very complicated, but she always made it look so easy! She was always wonderful about showing people how to make her dishes, too.Q: Let's say you got a call informing you that the Obamas would be coming for dinner in an hour. What would you prepare?A: Barbecued brisket, garlic mashed potatoes, a huge salad with locally sourced vegetables and my friend Ross Lipman's homemade croutons and chocolate pound cake for dessert (I might have to pull one out of the freezer).Q: We hear that you have outstanding centerpieces for your dining room table. Do you make them yourself? Why go to the trouble?A: I like to have centerpieces on the table all the time. I think they add to the overall ambiance of the meal, and every meal should be special. Plus, I think people have a better time when it's clear you've thought enough of them to take a little extra time to be creative. I come up with the ideas myself, but I often buy odds and ends at import stores and craft stores, then go from there. For our Chinese New Year's dinner, we had a dragon kite and Chinese coins all over the tabletop, with ceramic takeout containers filled with costume pearls and color-coordinated chopsticks. We also had fortune cookie key chains as party favors. It was a little over the top, but lots of fun. A favorite recipe:This was a huge hit with my husband and my father-in-law, Nicky Bluestein, both of whom love dessert! Lime-Coconut Pound CakeServes 12-16Ingredients1 cup butter5 eggsNonstick spray for preparing pan½ cup shortening2½ cups sugar3 cups all-purpose flour1 teaspoon baking powder½ cup cream of coconut¼ cup lime juice¼ cup water1 teaspoon vanilla1 cup flaked coconut, toasted1 batch Lime Icing (recipe follows)DirectionsAllow butter and eggs to reach room temperature (about ½ hour). Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 10-inch tube pan or bundt pan with spray for baking.In a very large bowl, combine butter and shortening. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, beating on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low to medium speed for 1 minute after each addition, and scraping the sides of the bowl frequently.In a medium bowl, stir together flour and baking powder. In a small bowl, combine cream of coconut, lime juice, water and vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and cream of coconut mixture to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition until combined. Fold in flaked coconut.Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake for 65-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack.Drizzle Lime Icing over cake. Sprinkle with additional coconut, if desired.Lime IcingIn a small bowl combine 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, ½ teaspoon finely shredded lime peel, and ½ teaspoon coconut extract. Stir in enough additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to make of drizzling consistency.
Jeannie Scheirman of Mount Pleasant wants to help the reader looking for recipes to make beef tips in a brown mushroom sauce, but without using a salty soup.
Jeannie acknowledges that her recipe may not be a perfect fit, but hopes it will please. “This is a recipe for beef stroganoff that my mother used to include in her campaign cookbook each term when she ran for re-election to the West Virginia legislature.”
2 pounds round steak (or substitute beef tips)
Garlic salt and/or salt to taste
Flour for dredging
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or more as needed
1 (10.5-ounce) can low sodium cream of mushroom soup
1 (8-ounce) carton low-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Cube steak, season with salt and dredge in flour. Lightly brown with onions in the oil. Drain, pouring off excess grease. Mix mushroom soup with 2 cans of water, the sour cream, 8 drops of Tabasco sauce and the Worcestershire sauce.
Pour mixture over browned steak and onions and simmer slowly for about 45 minutes. Serve over rice or noodles.
I thought it would be good to offer a recipe that didn't used canned soup at all, and preferably fresh mushrooms. Luckily, I spotted this recipe in Fine Cooking's “Comfort Food 200 Delicious Recipes for Soul-Warming Meals” (2011, Taunton Press).
Beer-Braised Sirloin Tip Stew With Mushroom Sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
1½ pounds sirloin tip steaks, ¾ to 1 inch thick (see cook's note)
½ pound fresh mushrooms, preferably a mix of half shiitake and half cremini
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and light green parts separated from dark green parts (save both)
1 cup dark ale or porter beer, such as Beck's Dark
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Cook's note: Some grocers mistakenly label tri-tip steak as sirloin tips. You'll recognize real sirloin tips (also called loin flap meat) by the marbling. If the cut looks lean, ask your butcher if it's truly loin flap meat.
In a small bowl, mix the mustard, brown sugar, thyme, ginger, paprika and 1 teaspoon salt. Coat both sides of the steaks with the spice mix.
Remove and discard the stems from the shiitakes, if using, and trim the stem ends from the cremini. Wipe all the mushrooms clean and slice them 1/4 inch thick.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add half the steaks and sear them until nicely browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side (the steaks will brown quickly because of the sugar in the spice mix). Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining steaks.
Reduce the heat to medium, add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the pan, and let it melt. Add the mushrooms, the scallion whites, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the mushrooms soften and brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Pour in the beer and Worcestershire. Scrape the bottom of the pan with the spoon, raise the heat to medium high, bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes.
Return the steaks and any accumulated juices to the pan, cover tightly with a lid or foil and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Braise, turning the steaks after 8 minutes, until tender and just cooked through (they should be easy to slice with a paring knife), about 16 minutes total. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and slice them thinly. Cut the remaining 1 tablespoon butter into four pieces and swirl them into the sauce. Stir in the scallion greens and taste for seasoning. Serve the steak slices topped with the sauce.
Ron Pollitt of Kiawah Island read the recent coleslaw recipes with interest, as they made him think of other salads with warm or hot dressings. He offered his recipe for a favorite, Frisee Salad With Poached Egg.
“We've served it as part of a small plates meal and as a salad course to a diverse group of diners that includes physicians from Nashville, David and Bill of Sugar Bake Shop in Charleston, and the owner of a large wine and spirits business in northern Kentucky and his attorney wife, and they all loved the way the flavor notes work together. It can be varied by using rice wine vinegar instead of white wine vinegar for less acidity and a more exotic flavor.”
So some of you are surely wondering, what is frisee? (pronounced free-ZAY) You've probably eaten some as part of mesclun salad mixes, but it can be purchased by itself. Frisee is a member of the chicory family with slender, curly leaves that are yellow-white to yellow-green. Its flavor is slightly bitter.
Poached Eggs With Frisee Salad
1/4 cup plus ½ cup white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
6 cups frisee, cleaned (use spinach as an alternative)
In a large, deep saute pan, bring 2½ inches of water to a boil. When the water comes to a boil, lower the heat to a bare simmer. There should only be small, infrequent bubbles on the surface. Add 1/4 cup of the vinegar and some salt to the water.
Crack 1 egg into a small bowl, making sure the yolk remains unbroken. Gently slip the egg into the simmering water, using a spoon to make sure the egg is completely covered. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Cook to desired degree of doneness, 3 to 5 minutes. When the eggs are done, remove from the water with a slotted spoon. Place on clean paper towels or kitchen towel to drain. Set aside.
In a small saute pan, cook the bacon until browned and crisp. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. Add the remaining ½ cup of white wine vinegar and stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until the vinegar is reduced by half. Add the sugar and cook until it is dissolved. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour half of the bacon dressing over the frisee and toss with croutons. Sprinkle with the cooked bacon pieces. Divide the salad among 6 plates. Top each portion with a poached egg and a drizzle of the remaining dressing.
Who's got the recipe?
Beth Pendergrass of Florence would like recipes for blueberry muffins. Beth also is in need of a recipe for orange pound cake.
Still looking: A West Ashley reader would like to make a from-scratch peanut butter cake (chocolate may be included). Any help?
If there's a recipe you've lost or a dish you are just wondering about, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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