Cheryl’s Cuisine: May 2017

Mothers-Day-PNG-PictureBy Cheryl Radkiewicz

Mother’s Day is fast approaching and this month I’m reminiscing about my mother, the late Minerva Sempa. She died way too young, nearly 40 years ago.  She was a strong, professional woman, a force to be reckoned with. She was a nursing instructor at Mercy Hospital School of Nursing, while finishing her Masters Degree later in life.   

As a matter of fact, all of her credits and thesis completed,  she was presented with her Master’s Diploma in the hospital where she lay dying of brain cancer.  She was a beautiful woman, who preferred playing bridge in her spare time rather than cooking.

I learned cooking from both grandmothers, the late Catherine Sempa and Mary Pidick, and my mother was quite disappointed  that I preferred cooking to learning bridge. When I was graduating from high school, she asked me what I wanted for a special gift.  It was 1970 and all I could think about was having my own quiche and souffle dishes.  She was absolutely horrified by the request, however, she complied with my wish.  Inside the souffle dish was a 14K gold scarab bracelet.  That was more her style.

She did have some great recipes from family members and friends at work , and she absolutely loved my cooking.  I made my first eclairs, from scratch, when I was in fourth grade at St. Clare’s School in Green Ridge.  For special family dinners, I would make Coq au Vin and Crepe Suzette. Julia Child was my idol at that point in my life.  

My great aunt, Helen Chipak, taught cooking lessons during the Great Depression to families in Scranton.   So, this talent must have skipped my mother and, much to her dismay, I’ve still never learned to play bridge.

Anyway, this Mother’s Day, I’d like to share some of my mother’s favorite recipes with you.  These are all winners and I prepare them to this day.


1  1/2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 tsp. chili powder
1 can whole tomatoes (2  1/2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 large onions, sliced thinly
1 pkg.  wide egg noodles, cooked al dente
8 oz. grated Cheddar cheese
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. horseradish

Brown beef in large pot over low heat.  Drain.  Add all ingredients and mix well.  Place in 3 quart greased casserole dish, cover, and bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour.  Serve with a side salad.


Left Over French Beef:

Left over cooked beef roast, sliced
1 can mushrooms, drained or 1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, cooked
1 can beef broth
1 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp. vinegar
1/4 tsp. thyme
2 tsp. flour
1 Tbsp. ketchup
Salt and pepper, to taste

Put 1 tablespoon of butter in frying pan.  Saute’ mushrooms.  Take mushrooms out of pan.  Add 1 more tablespoon butter to frying pan and saute’ onions.  Add vinegar.  Then add thyme and mix with flour.  Slowly add beef broth.  Stir until thickened.  Add ketchup, salt and pepper.  Put in beef just to heat and add mushrooms.  Great served with mashed potatoes or buttered noodles.


Creamed Chicken Over Puff Pastry Shells:

Cooked chicken breasts, chopped
1 lb. mushrooms
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
Chicken broth
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup milk
1 heaping Tbsp. sour cream
Sprinkle of paprika
Dash of Tabasco or hot sauce
Puff Pastry shells

Make a roux.  Melt butter in large saucepan.  Add flour and whisk until starting to turn golden.  Add milk and continue whisking.  If too thick, add some chicken broth.  In a frying pan, saute’ chopped pepper and onion and then add mushrooms and cook.  Add the vegetables to the white sauce.  Add the sour cream, paprika and hot sauce, to your taste.  Finally, add the chicken and heat through.  Meanwhile, prepare the puff pastry shells in the oven. Serve the warmed chicken mixture over the pastry shells. Top with parsley.


Caraway Seed Soup:

1 medium onion, chopped
1 stick butter
6-8 heaping Tablespoons caraway seeds
2 quarts water
Salt, to taste
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp. salt

Saute’ onion in butter until translucent.  Do not brown.  Add caraway seeds into onion, butter mixture until the pot starts to brown.  Add water.  Bring to a rolling boil.  Cut the flame down to simmer and simmer for 1 hour.  Salt, to taste.  Strain soup.  Discard caraway seeds.  Rinse pot out and pour soup back in.  In a bowl, beat eggs with flour and 1/4 tsp. salt to make a drippy dough.  It should drop off a fork into the pot of soup to make a free-form noodle.  It will help if you tilt bowl over soup pot.  Put lid on.  Turn off flame and the noodles will puff up.


Mother’s Butter Cookies:

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt

Blend sugar and butter together well until very creamy.  Add well-beaten eggs.  Sift in flour and salt.  Add vanilla and mix until smooth and light.  Drop by teaspoon onto buttered baking sheets.  Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Note:  They will be very light in color…Bake them just until they spread out and set.   Honestly, these are the best  butter cookies I’ve ever had.  Thanks, Aunt Helen.


Pears Helene:

1 large can pears
1 tsp. vanilla
1 quart of Vanilla or French Vanilla ice cream
Angel Food Cake or Sponge Cake, homemade or purchased

Flavor the syrup in the can of pears with vanilla.  Let pears stand in the syrup for at least 3 hours before serving. To serve, place a slice of cake on a plate, top with ice cream, a pear half and this sauce:

Hot Fudge Sauce:
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine all sauce ingredients except the vanilla in a saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a full, rolling boil.  Boil briskly 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove mixture from the heat and add the vanilla.  Serve warm.

NOTE:  This sauce may be stored in the refrigerator.  To reheat, place over  a pan of hot, not boiling water until the sauce has thinned to pouring consistency.  May be made in advance.

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