The following recipes are excerpted from “Seasons of Central Pennsylvania,” a cookbook that was published in 2000 in collaboration with the Centre Daily Times. The book chronicles the foodways of the Centre Region as told through food features that appeared in the newspaper. Though it sounds like ancient history, good recipes never go out of style. My own copy of the cookbook is dog-eared and splattered, the mark of a good cookbook.
Football weekends never go out of style either, and planning and being ready to entertain guests can greatly facilitate the weekend. So can one of the many take-out options available to us now. MyMy Chicken saved the day for me last Friday as I was busy making the house ready for 10 incoming Marylanders. Soup is great to have on hand anytime and strata can make breakfast magically easy. This strata recipe, from Scott Storll, used his own hot sauce, named after his son Seth. Seth’s Hot Sauce is no longer produced for sale, but Sweet Heat Gourmet makes many delicious varieties. Keep the blue and white theme going with blueberry muffins.
Each home football game a 360-degree tidal wave of humanity pours into the Centre Region. Temporarily anyway, the 100,000 people in the stadium on gameday become the third largest population center of the state, trailing only Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The influx has a profound influence on the area’s restaurants and hotels. Many area residents find themselves hosting out-of-town visitors in the fall and simplifying their care and feeding enables the host to join the festivities as well.
Anne Quinn Corr is the author of “Seasons of Central Pennsylvania,” of several iBook cookbooks (“Food, Glorious Food!” “What’s Cooking?!” and “Igloo: Recipes to Cure the Winter Blues”) that are available for free on iTunes. She regularly posts to the blog HowToEatAndDrink.com and can be reached at email@example.com.
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SETH’S WESTERN STRATA
Scott Storll, aka “Scooter,” is a cook at the Gamble Mill who has a hot sauce business on the side. Named after his son, Seth, who was born in 1998, the business enables Scott to be a stay-at-home dad, at least part of the time. Scott’s wife, Sonia, works full time as a physical therapist, and Scott is happy to take a significant role in child rearing. Seth helps Scott in the garden, growing the various peppers for the three types of sauces: jalapeno for the green sauce, habanero for the fire sauce that is blended with mango pulp and cayenne and serrano for the red sauce. Seth is not around, however, when the peppers are being processed. That is a spicy, heady job for Dad — and a powerful exhaust fan!
Seth’s Hot Sauces debuted in 1998 and are available at specialty stores or through mail order. A versatile condiment, it can spice up your life.
Makes 12 servings
12 slices white bread
3/4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese ( I did reduce this to half a pound and it was fine)
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
2 cups cooked ham, diced
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
3 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon Seth’s Green Hot Sauce (or more or less, depending on personal preference)
3 ripe tomatoes, sliced, for garnish
Prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish by spraying or buttering it. Cut 12 donut-shaped or fluted holes out of the bread and set aside (or cut them into football shapes and drizzle hot sauce for the stitching). Chop the remaining bread scraps and place on the bottom of the prepared dish. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the bread. Melt the butter in a sauté pan and cook the onions and the peppers until they are tender and then add the ham and mix. Place the vegetable-ham mixture on top of the cheese. Arrange the reserved bread cutouts on top of the vegetables. Mix the garlic, milk, salt, eggs and the hot sauce together and pour over the assembly. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
About an hour and a half before serving, preheat the oven to 350 F and remove the strata from the refrigerator. Bake, uncovered, for 50-60 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving, garnished with the tomato slices.
Scooter’s Note: Remember to set the hot sauce on the table when serving so those people who like a good morning burn can satisfy their needs. (Our recent guests enjoyed having Suhey’s hot peppers on the side.)
Makes 12 standard sized muffins or 24 minis
During the first year of operation for Encore bookstore in State College, Barbara Lange and I were partners in Q’s Cafe, an espresso bar located there. Every morning we met at 6 a.m. in the catering kitchen and baked a new muffin for the day along with many other baked goods and savory specials. This blueberry variety was the favorite. It is a low-fat version, based on a Cooking Light recipe that we varied with many other types of fruit, depending on what was at hand.
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt
3 tablespoons oil
2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons walnuts, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, yogurt and oil. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a larger bowl, make a well in the center and add the liquid to the dry ingredients. Stir the batter just enough to blend and fold in the blueberries. Do not overbeat. Fill the prepared muffin tin with the batter (using a No. 20 scoop for a professional finish on the standard size or a No. 40 scoop for minis) so that each cup is two-thirds full. Combine topping ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle one fourth teaspoon over the top of each. Bake for about 15- 20 minutes, depending on size, until golden brown.