All posts by radiant

Old-Fashioned Yorkshire Parkin

Name: Jennifer Ransom (Baltzer)
Class Year: 1965
Country of Residence: England

Why is this recipe great? What’s its backstory? 

I never tire of visiting the plethora of historic Cathedrals, Churches and Chapels in the United Kingdom. Their spires and towers welcome you from afar, while their exterior and interior architecture, art, craft and furnishings provide a rich, text-book learning experience. Often, during summer months or on national holidays, worthy parishioners of these edifices, run a café within the main building or in a nearby Parish Hall, or in a sunny summer churchyard marquee. The cakes, buns, muffins, scones, cookies, bars, tray-bakes etc are delicious, often ‘regional’ and usually sourced from a proud local family’s treasured cook book.

On a trip ‘up north’ in autumn 2016, I sought out the magnificent Ripon Cathedral in Yorkshire for a long afternoon’s visit. Founded in 672 AD by Saint Wilfrid, it predates England itself by 255 years! From Anglo-Saxon beginnings, it has been added to over the centuries, so – like many cathedrals – boasts everything from the sombre oldest crypt in the UK, to magnificent medieval carved wooden angels in the high nave ceiling, to a 20thC pulpit with both Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau influences. (Too much to describe here, so please ‘google it’ for more.)

After several hours’ self-guided tour from crypt, to nave and side chapels, through cathedral library, treasury and museum, I was flagging and much in need of a cup of tea and a sweet treat. In the café, I fell upon the home-baked, locally-inspired “Parkin”, so delicious that I begged the recipe from the home-baker who kindly gave me her family version. She cautioned that, “Parkin should NOT be confused with a ginger cake nor gingerbread recipe. True Yorkshire Parkin contains oatmeal and treacle – any cake without it, is simply a charlatan bit of gingerbread!”

In Yorkshire (and Lancashire, but let’s not get into the Wars of the Roses!) Parkin is associated with, and eaten around Hallowe’en and “The 5th of November” or Bonfire Night, aka ‘Guy Fawkes’. (Google again for info) It would warm you on a cold night!

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Gajar ka halwa (Carrot halwa)

Name: Vijaya Pastala
Class Year: 1989
Country of Residence: India

Why is this recipe great? What’s its backstory? 

This is a quick and easy recipe of gajar ka halwa or carrot halwa which is typically prepared in the winter months when red carrots or what are known as “Delhi carrots” are in season. A festive dessert it is prepared during Diwali which is celebrated in winter. 

Traditionally, carrot halwa is boiled and cooked in milk with lots of ghee and is quite laborious with the carrots and milk constantly stirred until the milk is thick and the carrots are cooked. This recipe is basically a cheat version of the traditional carrot halwa – prepared and cooked with condensed milk or sweetened evaporated milk. My husband loves cooking the traditional version of carrot halwa, slaving over the stove, constantly stirring and fussing over the carrots boiling in milk. According to me, this quick and easy version tastes as good as the traditional version and is less work!!

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Parmigiana di Melanzane (Eggplant Parmesan )

Name: Ramona Marks
Class Year: 2002
Country of Residence: Germany

Why is this recipe great? What’s its backstory? 

During the 2015 refugee crisis in Germany, I became involved with our local volunteer group. After many projects and changing priorities, we founded a Verein, or club, at the beginning of 2020, and now have a similar social and tax status as a non-profit in the U.S. I’m the committee leader of the group we call Kulinarik, or culinary. We only had one cooking evening before the shutdown, but we are hoping to have cooking classes and a recipe exchange in the near future. 

I studied abroad in Italy when I was a student at MHC. I love Italy, and of course Italian food. Here where I live in Germany, there is a very large population of Italians, many of whom arrived in the 1970s as economic refugees and had children who have had children. They are a part of the community now, and refugees who arrived during the 2015 crisis are also becoming our neighbors and friends. Cooking together helps, whether Syrians, Iranians, Italians, Afghanis, this American, or of course Germans, among others.

The recipe I chose is an Italian recipe that surprised me: Parmigiana di Melanzane, or Eggplant Parmesan with eggplant that is not breaded. Unlike what I knew in the U.S., this recipe calls for quickly deep frying the eggplant before layering it between a simple tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil leaves. As with so much of Italian cuisine, the recipe is deceptively simple and the outcome depends on the quality of the ingredients.

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Pasta al Sugo Rosso

Name: Giulia Bernardini
Class Year: 1991
Country of Residence: Currently USA, grew up in W Europe, esp Rome, Italy

Why is this recipe great? What’s its backstory? 

This is a common, everyday dish in Rome. But what makes it special – festive – is that at parties, because it’s so quick to make, it often gets served at 1 or 2 am when everyone has been dancing and having fun and needs a little pick-me-up to keep going!

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Greek Chicken with Handmade Pasta

Name: Madeleine Hewitt
Class Year: 1984
Country of Residence: Greece

Why is this recipe great? What’s its backstory? 

Delicious chicken recipe, with subtle flavors of cinnamon, garlic and oregano blending to create a savory taste. My Greek family made this for me, and we all enjoyed the hand made egg noodles topped by the tasty sauce made from peppers, onions and tomatoes with the signature spices. Find a good greek wine to go with it and you are all set!

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Corned Beef and Cabbage

Name: Barbara Schmidt
Class Year: 1969
Country of Residence: Ireland

Why is this recipe great? What’s its backstory? 

Corned beef is also called “salt” beef which is prepared by rubbing the beef with coarse salt and brown sugar and marinating for a week or longer. The leanest cut is called silverside or tail end, brisket is a mixture of fat and lean. In Ireland this beef can be bought pre-prepared in a butcher’s or in a supermarket. The dry mustard makes the beef really tender – I use it with boiling ham as well.

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Mom’s Blackberry Pie

Name: Micha Heilman
Class Year: 2019
Country of Residence: The Netherlands

Why is this recipe great? What’s its backstory? 

This is the blackberry pie that I grew up eating, made lovingly by my mom, and it is a recipe she has been baking since she was 12 years old! Each summer my mom and I would go out to the berry farms in Oregon close to where we lived and pick strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, marionberries, tayberries, and currents. We would then make a mixture of jams and “pie units” as my mom liked to call it when she would freeze 5 cup bags of berries to make into pie. This was the summer haul that lasted us throughout the winter, ensuring we could eat delicious pies and jams year round. I love this recipe because it is simple to make and absolutely delicious.

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Fesenjoon (Persian Pomegranate & Walnut Stew)

Name: Elizabeth Taeed
Class Year: 2009
Country of Residence: Portugal

Why is this recipe great? What’s its backstory? 

My husband is half Persian and raised in the Bahai faith, and grew up eating this stew on special occasions. He shared it with me on our first date, we served it at our wedding, and now we make it whenever there is an important holiday, festival or event. I am excited to share it now, as we are between two important Bahai festivals: the inter-calary days Ayyám-i-Há (4-5 days between the last two months of the year, which allow the Bahai calendar to be solar, and happen every year at the end of February) and Naw-Rúz (the Bahai and Iranian New Year, which occurs at the spring solstice). This dish is made and served in Iran on all sorts of special occasions, but is primarily an autumn dish due to its main two ingredients: pomegranates and walnuts. The secret is low and slow cooking to release the oils from the walnuts, and using duck instead of chicken for extra celebration. It is delicious served with saffron basmati rice with a crispy bottom (tahdeeg) and a side of Mast-o-khiar (yoghurt mixed with shredded cucumber, minced mint leaves, and celery salt).

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