November 8, 2010

Island Cooking: Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation has
an updated edition of its popular cookbook


The seasonal change into fall spurs a strong yearning for comfort food, the familiar meals the whole family shared around the dinner table every night. 

The recently released second edition of “Seasonings,” the Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation’s updated cookbook, is filled with good tasting, mostly uncomplicated fare, such as Donna Barnett’s “Messy Joes” that satisfy the desire for homestyle cooking.

Now this is one great comfort food -- much like a family favorite of ours that we called “sloppy Joes.” I always wondered about this fellow Joe who was messy and sloppy enough to have this dish named for him.

I couldn’t resist, so we had some recently and, like many dishes with blended flavors, it is even better when leftover.  So next time I will make a double batch!

I served it on fresh kaiser rolls with cole slaw on the side but, with its smoky barbecue flavor, a little slaw on the roll is a tasty addition. 

There are good recipes in “Seasonings” for cole slaw but, with apologies to the contributing cooks, I took a short cut and used what I think may be the best cole slaw ever -- the aptly named “Famous Conner’s Cole Slaw” from Conner’s Supermarket on Highway 12 in Buxton. 

From Donna Barnett

1 pound ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons mustard
1/2 cup barbecue sauce (I used “bone suckin’ sauce” available locally)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

In a large skillet over medium heat, combine ground beef, onion and green pepper.  Cook until beef is browned.  Drain.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Serve on hamburger buns.

Another of Donna’s recipes appealed to me because it contains several of my favorite ingredients for this time of year.  We did not eat risotto when I was growing, up but we did eat mac and cheese, of course, and, with a stretch, this recipe can be considered a very sophisticated version! 

I am a big fan of risotto.  One of the pleasures of cooking, for me, is to see ingredients come together through heat and timing and constant stirring of risot
to is a pleasure for me.  It gives me the real feel of what is happening in the pan.  This is a take on the classic risotto that is traditionally made with Italian short-grained rice.

From Donna Barnett

1/2 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 pound Crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves,  minced
1 pound spaghetti, broken into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups chicken broth
10 sage leaves, sliced
1 cup Gorgonzola crumbles, divided

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Place walnuts on baking sheet.  Place in oven, toasting for 10-12 minutes.  Set aside.  Melt butter in a medium skillet.  Add olive oil.  Add onions and cook until tender.  Add mushrooms and garlic and brown them.  Add spaghetti, toasting until browned.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add white wine, stirring until liquid is absorbed.  Add 1 cup of broth, stirring until absorbed.  Continue the process, adding liquid until spaghetti is tender and cooked through.  To finish, stir in sage, remaining butter and half the Gorgonzola.  Garnish each portion with the remaining Gorgonzola and toasted walnuts.

The dish is probably best served with a simple green salad to balance its richness, but I wanted to try something different, “Good as Fresh Green Beans” from Bobbie Adams. 

I haven’t been successful growing beans, and it is rare that we can get really fresh green beans, certainly never like those just picked from Mom’s big garden that we helped snap just before they got tossed into the pot.  This recipe is for country-style green beans.  It was a nice foil for the spaghetti-sotto and didn’t require I take my eyes off the spaghetti-sotto. 

From Bobbie Adams

2 large cans green beans
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons vinegar

Add oil, sugar and vinegar to green beans.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until most of the liquid is gone, about 1 hour.

Then I thought, in the spirit of a real old-fashioned, home-cooked meal, I may as well go all out and attempt to bake some rolls to complete the main course.  Now, I am not a baker, so this would be a challenge.  I think I was intrigued by the direction to add “a handful of shortening.” 

The only problem I had was that I made the rolls way too big - they were practically sandwich rolls rather than dinner rolls.  But they still tasted good and we did use them for sandwiches the next day!

Winona Burroughs learned from her mother and has been gracious enough to pass it on.  It made me sorry I hadn’t paid attention when Mom was baking.

From Winona Burroughs

1 package yeast
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
Shortening or Crisco (I used Crisco.)

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water.  Add 1 tablespoon flour to yeast.  Let sit until it starts to rise.  Meanwhile mix flour, salt, sugar, egg and a handful of shortening together. Pour yeast over flour and knead together. Let rise in warm place until double in size.  Punch down; knead again and make small rolls.  Place in greased pan and let rise again.  Bake in a 350-degree oven until brown.

Dessert is a rarity in our house.  With only two of us -- and really only one who likes sweets -- it seems like too much gets wasted.  But in the spirit of fall and of comfort food I splurged on Christian Dunville’s  “Aunt Doris’ Apple Cake” -- all the best of autumn in one bite. The aroma was intoxicating and that is one of the great pleasures derived from cooking.

From Christian Dunville

1 cup canola oil
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
5 cups (4-5 medium) chopped, fresh apples
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup pecan halves to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350˚.  Beat oil, sugar and eggs.  Sift dry ingredients together.  Add dry ingredients to wet; stir just until blended.  Fold in apples and chopped pecans.  Spoon the batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan.  Bake for 1 hour and cool in pan.  Turn out onto serving plate.  Ice with Easy Caramel Icing.


1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sugar, butter, and milk in a heavy bottom saucepan.  Bring to a boil for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Watch closely so it doesn’t burn.  Pour hot mixture over powdered sugar and vanilla; beat rapidly and drizzle over cake.  Top with pecan halves and serve.

“Seasonings” is a lovely Christmas gift, not only for local cooks but also for the friends and family members not so fortunate to live here but who love coming to our islands.  It is widely available in a number of Hatteras Island retail stores and can be ordered on the HICF website though PayPal.

We all recognize that the holidays are all about the spirit of caring and of giving so remember when you give this cookbook you are also giving a valuable gift to a Hatteras Island family in need of financial help when cancer hits. 

Please be sure to visit the HICF website for further information about the fine work the foundation carries on and to make a donation at any time of year.  It is a special way to honor someone you know who is going through the personal trauma of dealing with cancer or who, sadly, has not survived this far-reaching disease.

(Lynne Foster lives in Hatteras village with her husband, Ernie. Together they operate The Albatross Fleet of charter boats. They actively support the sustainable practices of the island’s commercial fishermen and the preservation of Hatteras Island’s working waterfront.  Both love to cook seafood and entertain friends, and Lynne loves to experiment with recipes for locally caught seafood.)

 Comments are always welcomed!

     Subject :

     Name :  (required)

     Email :  (required, will not be published)

     City :   (required)    State :   (required)

     Your Comments:

May be posted on the Letters to the Editor page at the discretion of the editor.