To help us launch our new food section this month, Indy readers sent us these holiday recipes. Enjoy!
Frank’s Sunchoke Stew
Brewing up a pot of sunchoke stew is one way to honor of the original inhabitants of the Northeastern United States. Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem Artichoke, are perennial plants native to this region. They rise six to eight feet into the air, with bright yellow flowers at the ends of their stems and an edible tuber that grows in the earth. Sunchokes were a staple of Native American tribes before the introduction of the potato. The tubers possess a luscious creamy-yet-firm texture when cooked, with an added nutty undertone. My favorite way to prepare them is in a “no-beef beef stew” in which the sunchokes replace the beef medallions. It’s perfect for the holiday season. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that this is a one-pot meal.
1 pound sunchokes, scrubbed clean and chopped into one inch morsels
1 onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves, roughly diced
1 cup each of chopped celery, carrot, mushroom
2 tbsp dried herbs — sage, thyme, parsley, rosemary, oregano or a combination
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp paprika
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ cup cooking wine or red wine vinegar
¼ cup tomato paste
1 2/3 cups vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a few tablespoons cooking oil to medium heat in a heavy soup pot. Add onion, garlic, herbs and bay leaf. When the onions are transparent, add sunchokes and other vegetables. Season the whole mixture with paprika and nutmeg. Add salt and pepper to your taste. Sauté for a few minutes longer.
Turn the heat up to high. Add wine and bring it to a boil to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Reduce heat back to medium. Add tomato paste and flour and simmer a few more minutes to thicken. Next add vegetable stock and let simmer until vegetables are tender. Add more stock to thin or cook longer to reduce to desired thickness. Serve with noodles, rice, or crusty bread and butter!
Frank Cetera lives in Syracuse, New York where he is active in Green Party politics, the Community Development Credit Union and permaculture landscaping the city. Frank’s a foodie with a love for cooking at home using ingredients from the backyard garden at Bitternut Homestead Collective on Otisco Street.
My Abuela’s Coquito
I make this recipe every year around the holidays. It’s my version of the coquito (Puerto Rican eggnog) my abuela makes. My abuela is the woman who politicized me early on. Not because she knew of Franz Fanon or Ella Baker, she doesn’t, but because she knew her name, shared her struggle and built a life based on love and self-determination. She survived devastating emotional and physical violence at the hands of an alcoholic who forced her to flee with her children from Puerto Rico to the United States. She had nothing and built everything. She taught me to survive. She taught me to love myself and to love and see others. She affirmed that doing so authentically, even when it was hard, would give me strength. That it affirms our power. She taught me there are people who would try to take that power and that I would have to fight to maintain it. She loved my brown skin and also understood the struggles it would bring. She prepared me for it with love. Her name is Rita, my abuela, and I love her eternally.
My memories of my abuela’s coquito are dear to me. In the same way it gave her a piece of her beloved Puerto Rico, it gives me a piece of the love and support she has always given me.
2 cans coconut cream or, for a lighter version, coconut milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 cups white rum
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
Add rum as desired or not at all
Blend for 3-5 minutes, chill in the refrigerator and serve.
Mom’s Chocolate Cream Pie
My mom learned to make this pie when she was a girl. She taught my sisters and me to make it when we were kids. Every year on the night before Christmas, our family has “Pie Night” and everyone staffs a station in the pie-making process. This one has three basic steps: crust, filling, and a meringue for the top.
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. suger
1/3 cup shortening
Preheat oven to 425°
Blend flour, salt and sugar
Blend in shortening
When very crumbly, add 2 tbsp. of water
Knead the mixture with your hands, and shape into a disc
Roll out to an even thickness, a few inches larger than a basic 9’’ x 1-¼” pie pan
Place into pan and flute edges
Use a fork to poke holes in the crust, so it does not bubble while baking
Bake for 12-15 minutes and let rest
Turn oven to 375° for browning the meringue later
2 ½ cups milk
1 cup sugar
8 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 egg yolks (save whites for the meringue)
2 slightly rounded tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
Bring 2 cups of milk to just short of a boil
While milk is scalding combine sugar, flour, remaining milk, egg yolks, cocoa and a dash of salt
Add mixture to a double boiler*
Add scalded milk
Cook in double boiler until mixture reaches a pudding like consistency
Stir in vanilla
Pour into pre-baked pie crust
*Note: If you don’t have a double-boiler around the house you can jury-rig one by placing a metal mixing bowl just above water simmering in a saucepan.
Remaining egg whites
6 tbsp sugar
Beat egg whites until thick (you should be able to form “peaks”)
Add sugar and beat again until mixture stands on its own and has a glossy shine
Spread meringue over pie, out to the crust
Using a spoon, form decorative “peaks” in the meringue
Place in oven for 8 minutes or until meringue is slightly browned
Molly Kiick grew up on a farm in Austin Township, Ill., and now lives in Brooklyn. Her proudest achievements are winning $300 in a dance contest and parallel parking a U-Haul truck.