“the Heat is ON!” — my new recipe blog!

Dear Tromp Queen friends,

I invite you to check out my new recipe blog!  I really don’t want to turn The Tromp Queen into a food blog, but I frequently find myself wanting to share a particularly yummy, easy to make, wonderful recipe.  I also am planning to work on a family cookbook (one or more!) and think this blog could be a good way to help that project stay focused.

My first post on the new blog is a recipe for Black Bean Soup.


Thank you, as always, for reading, commenting and encouraging me in my writing and blogging ventures!


Confessions of a Recipe Hoarder: Midnight Soup

The title of this post caught my eye —
Confessions of a Recipe Hoarder: Midnight Soup.

The recipe looks delicious! Enjoy!

SHARON ONA (this article was first published December 2o12)

For years I thought midnight soup was a term coined on the spot by my New Year’s cohorts as we enjoyed the night’s festivities over bowls of rich, hearty, satisfying, soul-warming soup. Later, I learned that midnight soup, or mitternachtssuppe, is traditionally served on New Year’s Eve in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland to fuel hungry partygoers through the evening. Its restorative properties satiate guests on a cold winter’s night and counter the effects of the generous flow of alcohol that comes with the territory at such events.

In many parts of Germany, particularly Bavaria, midnight soup is a beef-based goulasch generously spiced with paprika. Set to simmer over low heat for several hours, midnight soup can be prepared well in advance, as the flavors will only improve over time. The addition of bread to the recipe below creates a velvety, rich…

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Aunt Ruthie’s Terrific Toffee

Image by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Image by The Tromp Queen, CC license

I realize I’m a little late sharing this for this year, but this is my favorite Christmas candy of all time. I want to say “THANK YOU!” to readers of The Tromp Queen. I’m thankful for the journey this blog has taken me on with all of you. Please accept this token of my gratitude:

 Aunt Ruthie’s Terrific Toffee recipe.

Aunt Ruthie has been gone a little over 8 years now.  I think of her often and miss her so much!

My Dad was one of 8 children. Aunt Ruthie was one of his older sisters. Way into her late 80’s she was “taking care of the old people.” She would make pounds and pounds of Christmas candy and home-made noodles and baked goods each year (fudge, toffee, pecan rolls, cinnamon rolls, butterhorn rolls, and more). All through the Holiday season, lots of goodies would be sitting on top of her washer and dryer on her screened-in porch (between the kitchen and garage). Friends and family could help themselves as they were coming or going from her house. She was tiny, feisty, hard-working, witty and quick-to-laugh. She loved the Cubs and the Republican Party! She collected Hummel figurines, old dishes and various antiques. She was a FABULOUS cook.

We drove by Aunt Ruthie’s grave today. She and her husband, Uncle Spike (his real name was Dale, but he lost both hands in a corn picker and wore metal hooks that opened and closed so he could drive and do all sorts of things) are buried in a little country graveyard a couple miles from the nearest small town, just down the road from where my cousins now live in a new house built on her old farm land.

Agate gravestone
Agate gravestone

Their headstone is a huge agate rock that was found on their farm. Aunt Ruthie had it polished and cut when Uncle Spike died in a tragic car accident when I was 15 years old.
I could write many blogs posts just about Aunt Ruthie and Uncle Spike, but I will not keep you waiting for the recipe any longer!

Aunt Ruthie’s Toffee

1 c. packed brown sugar
2 sticks of butter
chopped pecans
good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips or bars

In a saucepan, heat the sugar and butter on medium heat until it reaches 280 degrees.  (My mom’s note says you “can turn it on high” 🙂  Stir most of the time.

Butter a pan (jelly roll type or cookie sheet).  Crush or finely chop pecans (or whatever nuts you like) and spread them around on the buttered pan.

(I would probably toast them first, but I don’t think Aunt Ruthie did that).

Pour hot the sugar mixture over the nuts.  When it sets up some, put chocolate on top (chips or broken up bars).  It will melt.  Spread the chocolate around. Break it into pieces when it has cooled.


Thank you, dear Aunt Ruthie!

Beat This!

I visited one of my new favorite places recently:  Boswell Book Company.  (http://boswell.indiebound.com/)

I found this fabulous book for only $5.99.  List price is $14.95 even on their website currently so I’m not quite sure how I got it for this very nice price.

This is technically a cookbook, but as the blurb on the front says “More than a cookbook, it is a humor book and a self-help book and a security blanket and a kind of a Bible.”  (quote from Elizabeth Berg, NPR interview)

Beat This! book cover
Beat This! book cover

The book is called Beat This!
(written by Ann Hodgman with a foreword by Elizabeth Berg)

Now you may be wondering  — Why, dear Tromp Queen, is this blog worthy?  Most of you already know that I own plenty of cookbooks (read about it here in Confessions of a Chronic Creative Collector).  I love to look through them for new recipes and read about different cooking techniques and cultures. Really.  I do.  And I really can’t help looking at cookbooks on the sale tables.  Really.  I can’t.

The blurb on the front enticed me.  I grabbed the book.  Then I wandered around until I found the cozy couch area so I could sit in comfort to take a peek inside the book.

I instantly fell in love with the author’s humor.  The chatty (sometimes snarky) asides sprinkled throughout the book caught my interest:

detail aside from Beat This! Cookbook by Ann Hodgman
detail aside from Beat This! Cookbook by Ann Hodgman
detail aside from Beat This! Cookbook by Ann Hodgman
detail aside from Beat This! Cookbook by Ann Hodgman
detail aside from Beat This! Cookbook by Ann Hodgman
detail aside from Beat This! Cookbook by Ann Hodgman


detail aside from Beat This! Cookbook by Ann Hodgman
detail aside from Beat This! Cookbook by Ann Hodgman
detail aside from Beat This! Cookbook by Ann Hodgman
detail aside from Beat This! Cookbook by Ann Hodgman



detail aside from Beat This! Cookbook by Ann Hodgman
detail aside from Beat This! Cookbook by Ann Hodgman
detail aside from Beat This! Cookbook by Ann Hodgman
detail aside from Beat This! Cookbook by Ann Hodgman
detail aside from Beat This! Cookbook by Ann Hodgman
detail aside from Beat This! Cookbook by Ann Hodgman


I love her recipe names! Descriptive and humorous
I love her recipe names! Descriptive and humorous


There are recipes for “A Really Great Stuffing with Sausage In It,” “Vaguely Thai-Like Beef Salad,” “Magnificent Ultra-Turkey,” and “Powerfully Better Than Any Other Pot Roast.”  The first sentence of that last recipe reads like this:  “A well-made pot roast is one of those noble, time-honored dishes that — oh, sorry, I forgot I wasn’t writing the lyrical kind of cookbook.”

I haven’t made anything from this cookbook yet, but I’ve gotten enjoyment out of it already.  I have high expectations that when I DO make something out of this book; it is going to be fabulous.

This little story in the foreword sealed the deal for me:  (Yes, I did read the foreword!)

My next door neighbors did something nice for me and so I did something nice for them, which is to say I made them Ann’s Very Controversial Apple Crisp (page 23).  The next day, the wife told me, “You know my husband never eats desserts, doesn’t like them.  He could not stop eating that apple crisp.” Another friend told me that when she first made it, she and her husband stood at the stove after it came out of the oven and ate the whole dang thing.  (She’d halved the recipe, but still.)
–from the foreword, written by Elizabeth Berg

So, if you are looking for a gift for yourself or for a friend, or you just have chronic cookbook collector syndrome — I highly recommend this book!

Related Article:


Craving Curry?

Image by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Image by The Tromp Queen, CC license

This is fast and easy.
And VERY good.

I like this recipe because I can keep the ingredients on hand pretty easily.  It has a very good balance of flavors, and it leaves me feeling healthy and good about what I ate.

I highly recommend using Penzey’s spices.  It really makes a difference.

Chickpea and Mango Curry

1 T. vegetable oil (peanut is good)
1 T. butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 heaping T. curry powder (I used Penzey’s Sweet Curry)
1/2 tsp. salt
Two 15 oz. cans of chickpeas, drain and rinse
2 heaping cups of frozen mango chunks (about 12 oz.) (I used a bag of Dole frozen mango chunks)
chopped cilantro
1/3 c. plain yogurt (optional, but I like it this way)
A few dashes of cayenne pepper
Cooked, hot Basmati rice

1. Heat oil and butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion soften it a bit, then add curry powder, and salt. Cook for about 5 min. until onion begins to brown.

2. Add rinsed and drained chickpeas to skillet, stirring until coated with curry-onion mixture. Turn heat to medium low and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add dash of cayenne.  Add water if needed.

Mango, манго - дары тропиков
Mango, манго – дары тропиков (Photo credit: Tatters:))

3. Stir in the frozen mango (or fresh if you have access to good fruit) , bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer, covered for 5 more minutes. Check to see if the curry needs more liquid to create a sauce. If it does, then add up to 1/2 cup of water. Add the chopped cilantro now, but save a little to sprinkle on top at the end.  Cover again and cook for 10 minutes or until it looks good!

4. If you have the patience and time, take it off the burner let it sit off the heat for 10 more minutes for the flavors to develop. I added 1/3 c. of plain yogurt before letting it sit.  (If you are in a hurry, it is okay to eat it now.  We often do.)

Curry in the spice-bazaar (egypitan) in Istanbul
Curry in the spice-bazaar (egypitan) in Istanbul (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Serve over Basmati rice with a dusting of cayenne on top.  Serve w/ lime wedges to squeeze over the top and a bit more chopped cilantro, too.

Some possible variations: use peaches instead of mangoes, top with finely diced scallions, top with toasted cashews or roasted peanuts.

English: Fresh Cilantro (Coriander) Deutsch: V...
English: Fresh Cilantro (Coriander) Deutsch: Verkaufsübliches Bund frischer Koriander (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is based on a recipe by Molly Katzen.

Aloo gobi, an Indian dish prepared with caulif...
Aloo gobi, an Indian dish prepared with cauliflower and potato (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another of my favorite curry recipes is the Aloo Gobi from the special feature reel of the “Bend It Like Beckham” DVD.  Here is the written recipe.  You can watch the video from youtube below if you have about 15 minutes.  It is very entertaining.  I love to watch the mother and the grandmother supervising the daughter.  Good stuff!  (and I’m not just talking about the curry).

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Birthday Cake!
For the 17th year old — yet again — Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Birthday Cake!

This recipe has 5 stars written across the top of the page in my little handwritten recipe notebook.  My son has asked for it to be his birthday cake for at least the last three years.

It is creamy, decadent and absolutely delicious.

photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill
The 18th birthday Chocochip Cheesecake 1/2 gone!

For the crust:
1 c. (5 oz) chocolate cookie crumbs (such as Oreo)
2 T. salted butter, softened

16 oz. cream cheese, softened (2 blocks)
1 c. white sugar
2 c. sour cream (16 oz. container)
3 large eggs
1 T. vanilla (I use Penzey’s)
1 1/2 to 2 c. semi-sweet or special dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 360 degrees.  Grab a 9 inch springform pan, a food processor (or blender) and a hand mixer.  Also grab measuring cups, spoons and a spatula.

English: Vector representation of embossed Ore...
English: Vector representation of embossed Oreo face. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To prepare crust:
Crumb the cookies finely, using a blender or food processor.  I used about 1 1/2 rows of Oreos this time.  You can also sometimes find Oreo cookie crumbs in a box near the pre-made crusts.  I scrape the white part out of the Oreo before I make the crumbs.  Add the soft butter and blend until it is evenly mixed in.  Press this mixture into the bottom of the 9 inch springform pan (with the sides attached).  Refrigerate the crust while you make the filling.

To prepare the filling:
Beat the softened cream cheese smooth in a pretty large bowl with the hand mixer.  Blend in the white sugar and sour cream.  Don’t overbeat it, just get it blended together.  (You will get a lot of cracks if you get too much air in the mix).  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Yes, it says one tablespoon of vanilla.  Use it.  Mix smooth.  Stir in 1 to 1 1/2 c. of chocolate chips.  Pour the filling into the crust.  Sprinkle the rest of the chips on top.  Bake 30 to 40 minutes and then turn the oven OFF and leave the cheesecake in the oven for one hour more.  Set a timer so you don’t forget to get it out of the oven.  Don’t ask me how I know this.  Chill for at least 4 hours.  Overnight chill is better.

Oh my gosh.  It is SO good.

photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill
Sweet Sixteen CC Cheesecake


Spinach Börek

You can have a taste of Turkey without ever leaving your home town!

In honor of our recent trip to Turkey and because of the apparent popularity of my recent recipe post (The BEST Chocolate Chip Scones! https://haskerj.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/the-best-chocolate-chip-scone-recipe/) — I’m posting another of my favorite things to make and eat:  Spinach Börek, a Turkish recipe.

Turkish borek made with spinach, feta and goat cheese.
Turkish borek made with spinach, feta and goat cheese.

This recipe came to me from my sister-in-law, Çağla. This is one of my teenaged son’s very favorite things to eat.  He often requests it for his birthday or for other special meals.

1 pkg. filo dough, thawed
Fresh spinach, about 10 oz.  — I use the pre-washed organic baby spinach that comes in 10 oz. boxes.  If you use fresh, wash it thoroughly and remove the large stems.  Tear it into smaller pieces.  I have used Swiss Chard with good success, too.
8 oz. feta cheese – I buy the chunk kind.  It is less expensive and tastes better.
5 to 8 oz. goat cheese – If you have never eaten goat cheese, please DO try it!
3 or 4 green onions, thinly sliced (or any onion, finely chopped, to taste)
½ t. salt or to taste
¼ t. black pepper or to taste

Brushing liquid:  Combine these ingredients, mix/whisk/stir together.  Have a brush handy for later
3 eggs, beaten
2 to 3 T. olive oil
¼ c. milk

Cagla says you can use cream cheese, cottage cheese or mozzarella.  I never have.
I sprinkle on some Penzey’s Turkish seasoning and/or some dill.

Heat oven to 350.  Spray two cookie sheets w/ Pam or use parchment paper.

Clear a large work area.  I cover my space w/ waxed paper, using about 4 or 5 long strips placed side by side and overlapped slightly.  Most filo packages have two smaller individually wrapped packages inside them.  Open one of these packages.  Divide the filo into four roughly equal stacks, with about 6 or so sheets in each stack.  Use it all.  I lay the four stacks on the waxed paper with the one short end of the dough near me and the long side perpendicular to me.  Brush each filo dough stack w/ the egg/olive oil/milk mixture.  Cover the surface but don’t go crazy.  Work kind of quickly because this dough dries out quickly.  Open the other little package of dough and divide into four stacks again, placing each one on one of the egg soaked stacks.  I push down on each stack to kind of fuse the layers together a bit.  You can brush more of the egg mixture on the top if you wish.  I don’t always do that, though, if I’m in a rush.  So you should have a stack of 6 sheets of dough, egg mixture layer, and six more sheets of dough.  You should have four of these.  This is your foundation for the next step.

Fresh Spinach
Fresh Spinach (Photo credit: artizone)

Divide the spinach into four roughly equal parts and cover each filo stack with one part of the spinach.  Try to keep the spinach within the edges of the dough, but this is usually a hopeless task.  Do the same with the onion, the feta, the goat cheese and the salt and pepper.  Sprinkle and crumble away.  Add any other seasonings you think need to be in there (dill? Turkish seasoning?  It is up to you).

Feta Cheese
Feta Cheese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Goat's milk cheese
English: Goat’s milk cheese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Starting at the shorter end of one stack, begin to roll it up (like a jelly roll, a quilt that has been quilted or an enchilada) brushing the filo dough that appears from the bottom with the egg mixture as you go.  Don’t forget to brush it as you, or your rolls will be very dry and not crispy at all.  Don’t ask me how I know this.  You will end up with a cylindrical roll that hopefully has the spinach and cheese all enclosed inside it.  Mine are usually kind of fat. 🙂  You can squish the spinach quite a bit since it cooks down.

Carefully move each roll to the cookie sheets you prepared earlier.  If you didn’t do that, either ask for help or go wash your hands since you are covered in goat cheese and other stuff.  Bake the rolls at 350 for about 40 minutes until they are golden brown and crispy.

We usually cut each roll into 2, 3 or 4 pieces depending on what else we are having with it.  You can eat it hot, room temp or even cold (though I never have eaten it cold).

Gözleme, Turkish specialty, Applying the stuff...
Gözleme, Turkish specialty, Applying the stuffing (in this case: sheep cheese, spinach, and herbs) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The photo above shows a similar Turkish food.  The dough is different and the dish is also cooked differently.  The filling of the spinach borek are very much the same, though, as the fillings shown in the photo.

Turkish Food

Dolma, Baklava, Gözleme, Pilav, Fincan-böreği,...
Dolma, Baklava, Gözleme, Pilav, Fincan-böreği, Sarma (Grape vine leaves), Borek (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Istanbul Eats - Turkish Food Tour
Istanbul Eats – Turkish Food Tour (Photo credit: Shutter Ferret)

And to end every delicious Turkish meal:  a hot glass of Turkish tea!

The BEST Chocolate Chip Scone Recipe

Chocolate Chip Scones

Semi-sweet chocolate chips
Semi-sweet chocolate chips (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This recipe could change your life.  Seriously.

I got this wonderful recipe from my dear friend, Anne.  She gave it to me years ago.  I wrote it in my favorite recipe notebook on the very first page.  The numbers are a bit smudged, but thankfully I nearly have it memorized.

Recipes I've been saving for 15 years or more
Recipes I’ve been saving for 15 years or more. This scone recipe is on the very FIRST page of this notebook!

(This notebook was the topic of another blog post:  https://haskerj.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/what-once-was-lost-now-is-found/)

This recipe makes the lightest, richest, more delectable scones!  They are not dry or crumbly at all.  You MUST use the cream!  No substitutes.

Enjoy!  Happy baking.  Please let me know how you like them.

Three variations:  white chocolate with fresh raspberries, cinnamon chip, and toffee chocolate chip.  Photo by Anne Marie
Three variations: white chocolate with fresh raspberries, cinnamon chip, and toffee chocolate chip. Photo by Anne Marie

To make the fabulous scones you will need:

2 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. sugar (plus a bit more for sprinkling on top)
1 1/4 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. choc. chips (I use semi-sweet, special dark are excellent, too — mini chips or regular — as you please)
later for brushing on before baking:  2 T. melted butter

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

You need a large mixing bowl, a fork or whisk, a spatula, a clean space to knead, and a good cookie sheet (ungreased).

Mix dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder, salt, 1/4 c. sugar).  Whisk or fluff with a fork to mix.

Add chips, then cream.  Don’t stir too much at this point, just until it all hangs together.

Empty the blob out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it about 10 times working in a bit a flour if it is too sticky.

Pat into a 9 or 10 inch circle.  Brush the top and sides w/ the melted butter (1 to 2 T.) and sprinkle w/ the extra sugar (1 to 2 T. is plenty).

Cut into 12 wedges and separate.

Place on ungreased (or spray w/ PAM) baking sheet.

Bake 14 to 15 min. until just barely beginning to get light brown.  You can bake them longer if you like them browner or crunchier on the bottom (but you would be wrong…).

These are EXCELLENT with very cold milk or very hot, freshly ground and brewed coffee.  🙂  Or both.


  • You must use heavy cream.  Anything else will not work.
  • I have skipped the kneading and dropped them onto a cookie sheet from a scooper.  Pat them down w/ fingers and sprinkle w/ sugar.  This is ok in a time crunch, but is not quite as spectacularly good.
  • It is baking powder, not baking soda.  Don’t ask me how I know this.
  • I believe the true way to bake scones, is to pat the circle onto the cookie sheet then cut and bake them that way without separating them.  I’ve never done it that way b/c I rarely follow directions unless absolutely necessary.
  • I use a serrated knife to cut the scones and a spatula to put them on the cookie sheet.
  • This recipe is from my dear friend, Anne Donovan.  🙂
  • I once tried to figure out how to count these on Weight Watchers.  I came to the conclusion that they count as a “mistake.”
  • Did I mention these are delicious?


What once was lost; Now is found!

What once was lost; Now is found!

I’ve been missing my favorite recipe notebook for several months now.

When I noticed it was not in the usual places, I figured it had just gotten buried in a stack of cookbooks or hidden under a stack of dish towels or hot pads or something.  (My kitchen is a “creative” kitchen.  Not the tidiest place in the world, usually).  The weeks went by and I became a little more concerned.  I did a pretty thorough cleanup and still did not find it.

Now I was really getting concerned.

I asked my family if anyone had seen it lately.  I did a deep search.  Still nothing.  My husband assured me he did not throw it away.  I was still worried it might have fallen into a trash can or gotten caught up in a pile of papers and put in the recycling bin.

I started making a mental list of the recipes I had in the notebook.  Which ones could I get again from the original sources?  Many were from friends in other places we’ve lived.

Some were recipes I had tweaked and/or created.
Some were recipes from our children’s pre-school.
Some were recipes my mother-in-law made for us when she visited after our first child was born.
Some were recipes from my mom, written down in her very colloquial vernacular.
Some were recipes from other countries.

Some I had clipped recipes from magazines and newspapers over the years, but always including only the best ones.

Things didn’t just get into that notebook automatically.  They had to be GOOD.  Extra special.  Recipes I used often.

Well worn edges show how much I use this!
Well worn edges show how much I use this!

I sighed inwardly.  I sighed outwardly.

I resigned myself to the fact it was gone.  I would have to re-create the notebook to the best of my abilities.

I just recently began asking friends to locate the recipes I had gotten from them.

Then, today—

I've been writing recipes and cutting/pasting recipes that I especially like in this notebook for at least 15 years or more!
I’ve been writing recipes and cutting/pasting recipes that I especially like in this notebook for at least 15 years or more!

I found it!  It was indeed buried in the farthest corner of my kitchen counter (way back behind the dish drainer).  It was under a stack of insulated lunch bags that rarely get used and behind a bin of empty spice jars that are waiting to be re-filled.  (I LOVE Penzey’s Spices!!!)

I’m so happy!

In honor of this finding, I will share my mom’s macaroni salad recipe.

Boil elbow macaroni until not quite done.  (I would call that al dente but these are her words.)  Rinse with cold water and drain.  (You can use anywhere from 2 c. to a whole 1 lb. box or more).  Squirt it with yellow mustard.  Whack up celery and onions. Add sweet pickle relish and some of the juice from the jar, too.  In a bowl, blob of mayo and add a bit of sugar.  Thin the mayo with a little water.  Chop up 2 to 4 hard boiled eggs.  Add all this together.  Might need to add some milk.