A few months ago, I spent some time doing volunteer work in Kenya through the volunteer agency International Volunteer HQ. I stayed with a Kenyan family and volunteered at an orphanage, Internally Displaced Persons camps, and with the Masai (warrior tribes in Kenya). It was an extremely moving experience. Read more.

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    The Joy of Cooking

    Filed under :Cookbooks, miso soup, Spaghetti, spaghetti pie, Sunday Dinners, The Joy of Cooking
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    Today, in theory, I was cooking for myself.  Chris was away, but with my Sunday free, I still wanted to make a Sunday Dinner.  The past couple of weeks have been really hectic, so I turned to The Joy of Cooking to give me some of that joy back.  I selected Becker Quick Miso Soup (p.125), Johnny Marzetti Spaghetti Pie (p.95), and Baked Figs with Ricotta (p.227).  Of course, my camera chose today to conk out so I only had pics of the miso soup (I start a photography class next month.  Then when these things happen, I’ll give a throaty laugh and magically fix said camera to take the most beautiful pictures ever).  However, two friends decided to pop by, so not only did I have lovely company, but one of them contributed an additional two pictures using his phone.

    The meal was a success, as any with the word “joy” should be, although I preferred the soup and pasta pie to the ricotta recipe.  The Johnny Marzetti pie was “made famous at Marzetti’s restaurant in Columbus, Ohio,” Joy explains.  I added mushrooms and adjusted timings, but otherwise stuck pretty close to the original.

    The miso soup was incredibly salty, probably because they used a broth base instead of water, so I added an additional cup of water to balance.  I’ve written the recipe as per my experiment, but I recommend you recreate it using 2 cups of water instead of 2 cups broth plus 1 cup water.  The soup paired perfectly with my creamy glass of milk, and would be tasty with some small shrimp thrown in.

    With fig season just past, I used delicious, plump Medjool dates instead of the specified figs.  I’m not a huge fan of either the ricotta mixture or the marsala sauce, although they did pair nicely together.  The cheese blend called for equal parts cheese and cream, and I scooped in additional ricotta to thicken the soupiness.

    All recipes adapted from The Joy of Cooking.

    Becker Quick Miso Soup

    2 cups chicken broth

    1.5 tbsps miso/ soybean paste (I used white miso)

    1 cup water (or to taste)

    3- 5 sliced mushrooms, optional

    1 green onion, chopped

    1 thin slice of lemon, to garnish

    (the Beckers also suggest a dash of hot pepper sauce to garnish, as desired)

    soybean paste

    miso/ soybean paste

    Bring the broth to boil.  Stir in miso paste, and add water to taste.  Add sliced mushrooms and green onions.  Continue boiling 1 minute.  Garnish with lemon.

    miso soup with mushrooms

    soup boiling away

    miso soup with mushrooms

    finished miso soup


    Johnny Marzetti Spaghetti Pie

    1 pound ground beef

    1 onion, chopped

    2 cloves garlic, chopped

    salt and pepper

    1 green pepper, chopped

    1 small container mushrooms, chopped

    1 28-oz can tomatoes, with juice

    1 15-oz tomato-based spaghetti sauce

    1 tsp oregano or pizza spice

    1 bay leaf

    1- 2 handfuls whole wheat spaghetti (or other pasta as desired), cooked and drained

    2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded, separated

    1 cup breadcrumbs

    Place ground beef, onion and garlic in large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook, breaking up beef with a spoon, until beef is mostly browned.  Add green pepper and mushrooms, cook 3- 5 minutes, until vegetables have softened.

    Add tomatoes with juice, tomato sauce, oregano and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low and simmer 25 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  While simmering, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Remove bay leaf.  Stir in spaghetti and 1 cup cheddar cheese, letting cheese melt into beef mixture.  Transfer to 9 x 13″ baking dish.  Sprinkle remaining cheese over top, followed by bread crumbs.  Bake until top is lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

    pasta casserole

    spaghetti pie

    Dates with Ricotta and Marsala Sauce

    1/3 cup sugar plus 3 tsps sugar, separated

    3 tbsps water

    1/2 cup Marsala wine

    20 Medjool dates

    2/3 cup ricotta

    1/3 cup heavy (35%) or table (18%) cream

    Cut slit lengthwise in each date and remove pit.

    In small saucepan, bring to boil 1/3 cup sugar and water, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Remove from heat and add Marsala.

    Mix together ricotta, cream, and 3 tsps sugar.  Spoon cheese mixture into center of each date, and drizzle with marsala sauce.

    dates ricotta cream marsala sauce

    dates with ricotta and marsala sauce