Culinary heritage – Recipes to pass on to the next generation |

Culinary heritage – Recipes to pass on to the next generation

Last week, I framed and hung the few faded photos I have of my ancestors. I have a family tree with names and vital statistics, but beyond that, I don’t know much about them.

For instance, was Great-grandfather Stefan a humble hermit or a wild waltzer? Did Uncle Georges prefer painting decoys or crocheting antimacassars? And my grandmother Adele: did she enjoy chomping celery or did she share my penchant for gobbling gooey chocolate desserts?

Because I’ll never learn my ancestors’ peculiarities, I want to make sure that my descendants hold tangible examples of my uniqueness.

I’m not much of a seamstress, so passing down a hand-sewn quilt would probably elicit scionly snickers. As to my squeaky musical ability, well I also better can the idea of recording my original songs. Cooking pots would be a grimy legacy and when I mentioned leaving my prized yoga mat collection, my daughter shook her head fervently.

This allows me no other recourse. To expose my authentic self, I’ll bequeath my towering stack of yellowing and crumbling The Union food columns. Although my descendants may find me eccentric, maybe at least one of them will appreciate, possibly even inherit, my curmudgeonly philosophies and culinary curiosity.

I admit to numerous oddities, but please try the following recipes anyway.

Corn-Bean-Tomato Soup

(Serves 6)

If you’ve previously been timid about making soup, this simple recipe should build your bravado.

1 onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes with their juice, or 1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes

1 15-ounce can navy beans

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

4 cups vegetable stock

1 teaspoon dried dill

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the onion and celery and sauté until tender. Reminder: water sautéing is always an option. Here’s where things get embarrassingly easy. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve, slurp, sigh!

Apple-Cheese Muffins

(1 dozen)

As long as preparing the above soup is so effortless, complement the meal with these nourishing muffins.

1 stick butter, softened

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup quick-cooking oats

1 cup chopped apples

2/3 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

3/4 cup non-fat vanilla yogurt

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and beat until smooth. Stir in the dry ingredients. Stir in the yogurt and mix well. Finally, add the apples and cheese and mix until just incorporated.

Lightly grease a muffin tin and spoon in the batter. Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. A steamy bowl of soup, muffins popped fresh from the oven; get ready to accept the Golden Spoon award.

Mushroom-Potato-Spinach Frittata

(Serves 6)

Make sure that this recipe gets tasted by future generations. In case you’re shocked that I use a microwave:, I just want my descendants to know that I wasn’t always opposed to modern technology.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 potato, thinly sliced, spread on a plate and microwaved 5 minutes

(If you don’t have such a new-fangled machine in your kitchen, steam the potatoes until barely tender.)

6 mushrooms, thinly sliced

A handful of spinach

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

6 eggs, beaten

Salt and pepper

1 cup grated Parmesan

Put the oil, mushrooms, and potatoes in an ovenproof skillet. Saute them covered for 5-7 minutes, until the veggies are tender.

Add the spinach and parsley and stir until the spinach wilts. Mix together the eggs and the salt and pepper and pour it over the veggie mixture.

Cook over a medium flame, lifting the sides so the liquid cooks. When the eggs are almost set, remove from the heat and sprinkle the top with Parmesan.

Put the pan under the broiler until the top is a tempting golden brown.

This is scrumptious hot, so don’t forget to take a trivet and a potholder to the table with you.

Endive-Radicchio Salad

with Mango Dressing

(Serves 4-6)

I’ve turned over a new new leaf. Instead of using the usual greens, I’ve opted for the slightly esoteric.

3 healthy handfuls of torn endive leaves

2 healthy handfuls of torn radicchio leaves

1/2 cup toasted walnuts

1/2 cup crumbled feta

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion


1/3 cup chopped mango

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons lime

1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar

1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger

Purée the dressing ingredients together until smooth. Pour this on the salad slowly as you toss.

A modest bow to wild applause is definitely appropriate.

I’ve taken stock and admitted my quirks. Now, what are you leaving your descendants?


Ronnie Paul is a freelance writer and vegetarian chef. She can be reached at

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