All posts by peacocksbookswritingsandrecipes

My grandfather, Anastasios Kavadas, born March 3, 1893 in Vathi, Lefkado Greece, came to America for the first time at the age of 14 as a stowaway. After a short time, he returned to Greece. Later on he came back to America on the TSS Themistocles from the Port of Patras. The ship landed at Ellis Island February 24, 1912. He simplified his name to Thomas Robert, and eventually made his way to Dixon, Illinois. Grandpa operated Tom's Shoe Shop in Dixon before he became a restaurateur. He owned several restaurants, two of which were the Chuckwagon and Villa Cafe. His baked chicken was the best. People would come from Lasalle and Peru Illinois on a Friday night just to eat his fish fry. My family are all into fishing for fresh fish still today. I loved the Chuckwagon, which was directly across from the train depot. My mom and us kids lived above the restaurant where Grandpa Tom gave her a job as a cook.Today they would have been called, chefs.The restaurant was my playground. Even though I was only about nine, I loved serving the customers and eating special foods my grandpa prepared for me. In the back was a special butcher shop where they prepared all their own meats. Food hasn't tasted the same since he passed away. One of the favorite special drinks Grandpa made for the grandkids was Nesbitt Orange Grapette sodas. I can't imagine drinking that now.

Greek Pasta Salad

Serves: 6


1 (12 ounce) package falafel, cooked as directed on the package
1 (10 ounce) package fresh spinach, torn into bite size pieces with excess stems removed
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3/4 cup Kalamata olives
Grated parmesan reggiano cheese, optional

Cook the falafel as directed on the package. Drain hot liquid in a colander. Rinse the pasta with cold water to stop the cooking process. Place the cooked and cooled pasta in a large bowl.

Greek Dressing


1 teaspoon dried basil
1 small shallot, chopped fine
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground lemon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

While the pasta is cooking, combine the dressing ingredients in a medium bow and mix well. 

Mix the dressing with the cooled pasta in a large bowl. Gently toss the torn spinach pieces, cherry tomatoes, and Kalamata olives with the pasta mixture. Cover and chill. 

Top with freshly grated parmesan reggiano cheese if desired. 

Note: Fresh herbs would create more depth but use less amounts than ground.

This recipe is in Smokin' Good Eats.

Chocolate Bourbon Cake with Ganache Icing

Makes 9 servings
Oven temperature: 350 degrees F.
Baking time: 30-40 minutes


1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup good cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup chocolate flavored coffee, cooled to room temperature
3 large eggs, room temperature and slightly beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons good bourbon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional, but goes great)

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, cayenne, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, sugar, and brown sugar together thoroughly.

Whisk the bourbon in the cup of cold coffee. Add the coffee mixture, buttermilk, slightly beaten eggs and oil to the dry ingredients and mix until all ingredients are incorporated.

In the meantime, cut two pieces of parchment paper to fit inside the bottoms of two 8-inch square greased and floured pans. Grease the tops of the parchment paper. Lay the parchment paper over the bottoms of the pans.

Lightly drop the pans on the counter a few times to remove the air bubbles. Pour the cake batter equally between the two prepared pans.

Place the cake pans in a preheated 350 degree F. oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes. Invert the cakes onto a cake plate larger than the prepared cakes. Ice with chocolate ganache icing. Serve immediately. Carefully cover the remainder of the cake and store in the refrigerator.

Chocolate Ganache Icing


1 (12 ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 ounces heavy cream
1 tablespoon good bourbon

Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl.

Heat the cream in a medium saucepan just until the cream begins to boil. Pour the heated cream over the chocolate chips, cover for 5 minutes.

The chocolate chips should be melting. Whisk the cream, bourbon, and chocolate chips until the mixture becomes shiny. Let the chocolate mixture cool to room temperature before icing the cakes.

If the chocolate icing begins to get thick, place it in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for a few seconds to soften.
Ice the bottom of one of the cooled cakes. Carefully place the second cake on top of the icing. Ice the top and sides. Enjoy!

This recipe is from Smokin' Good Eats.

Cucumber Sandwiches


Good solid bread
Fresh cucumbers, washed (keep peel on)
Small green bell peppers, washed, stem and seeds removed
Large eggs, boiled and peeled
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Wash cucumber and green pepper, pat dry and then thinly slice them. Take good fresh bread and remove the crust. Take a wine glass or round biscuit cutter and cut out circles of the bread. Spread the bread with mayonnaise. Place a green pepper on the mayonnaise and add a thin slice of cucumber in the middle. Slice the boiled eggs and top each cucumber with an egg slice. Salt and pepper to taste. You can grate the boiled eggs or add a thin radish slice instead of the egg. This recipe is great for teas and Civil War balls.

This recipe can be found in History Lover's Cookbook.

Lemon Butter

Double Boiler


1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
3 large eggs, well beaten
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Mix the sugar and eggs together. Slowly add the cooled melted butter and lemon juice. Place in a double boiler and cook on medium-low heat. Stir the ingredients continuously for about 20 minutes or until creamy. Place in the refrigerator to cool. Nice for a picnic, pound cake, bread or gifts. makes approximately 1 cup.

This recipe is from History Lover's Cookbook.

Doughnuts II

Preheat lard to 370 degrees F.


4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, well beaten
Lard for frying

Put the flour in a shallow pan. Whisk in salt, soda, cream of tartar, and spices. Work in butter with tips of fingers. Next, add sugar and egg well beaten. Last, add the buttermilk. Stir thoroughly and toss on board thickly dredged with flour. Knead slightly, using more flour if necessary. 

Pat and roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Shape and fry in a large Dutch oven at 370 degrees . Drain on a cloth napkin. Buttermilk doughnuts are turned as soon as they come to the top of the fat and frequently afterwards with a slotted spoon.

Sprinkle with cinnamon.

This recipe is in History Lover's Cookbook.

Mint Julep

Silver or pewter Mint Julep cup, chilled


1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons water
5 large fresh mint leaves
Crushed ice (which wouldn't be appropriate for nineteenth-century)
2 jiggers good Kentucky bourbon
1 sprig of mint for garnish

Muddle or mash the sugar, water, and 5 mint leaves in the bottom of the chilled Mint Julep cup. Fill the cup with crushed ice. When from forms on the outside, slowly pour in the bourbon, being careful not to let the bourbon touch the sides of the cup; then stir. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs. Serve immediately. Hold the cup by the bottom and top rim. Enjoy!

This recipe is in History Lover's Cookbook.

Raspberry Shrub


4 cups fresh ripe raspberries (about 2 pints)
2 cups cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
Cold Water
Sprig of fresh mint for garnish (optional)

Add the fresh raspberries to a large glass bowl or glass pitcher. Pour the cider vinegar over the raspberries. Cover the raspberry mixture tightly and refrigerate 3-4 days.

Strain the raspberry mixture into a medium saucepan; press the raspberries with the backside of a wooden spoon to release the fruit liquor.

Place a fine strainer over a bowl and strain the raspberry mixture; discard the fruit flesh. Pour the raspberry liquid back into the pan and stir in the sugar. Boil 2-3 minutes. Remove the raspberry liquid from the heat and cool. Store in a covered container.

Mix 1/4 cup raspberry concentrate with 1 cup very cold water. Place into a clear glass. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig and a few raspberries.

Note: For a modern version: add crushed ice. 

This recipe is from History Lover's Cookbook.

Hot Apple Toddy

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.


1 medium nice baking apple
1/4 cup hot water for baking dish
2 ounces hot water for heat-safe mug
1 tablespoon sugar
2 ounces Apple Jack
Freshly grated nutmeg for garnish

Directions for baking apple

Wash apple and place in a small baking dish with the 1/4 cup water. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 50 minutes or until tender. Remove the dish from the oven and peel and core the baked apple.

Directions for Hot Apple Toddy

Place the baked peeled and cored apple in the bottom of a heat-safe mug or glass. Sprinkle the sugar over the apple. Pour the Apple Jack over the apple sugar mix. Next, add the hot water and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Tidbit: Hot Apple Toddy was one of George A. Custer's favorite drinks.

This recipe is from History Lover's Cookbook.

Fried Parsnips


6 parsnips (washed, peeled, and quartered lengthwise)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup lard, melted

Place the parsnips in a large saucepan with just enough water to cover the. Boil the parsnips for 10 minutes or until tender in the center. Drain and pat dry.

Melt the butter and lard over medium heat being careful not to burn it.

In a large pie pan combine the flour, salt and pepper. Dip the parsnips in the heated butter and lard mixture and then dip a few at a time in the flour mixture.

Heat the remaining butter and lard on medium-high. When it begins to sizzle, add the buttered floured parsnips. Fry the parsnips until a golden brown on all sides turning occasionally. Serve hot. I enjoyed the fried parsnips as much as potatoes.

This recipe is in History Lover's Cookbook.

Spinach, Kale, and Mushroom Casserole

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Serves: 4


1/2 pound deep green kale, large veins and stems removed
1 (6 ounce) packages fresh baby spinach
2 small peeled and finely sliced shallots
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
10 pieces (12 ounces) uncured bacon, cooked and drained on paper towel
1 (16 ounce) container white mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
5 ounces grated Swiss cheese or shredded
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cook bacon in a large pan until it is light and crispy, remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Drain the bacon fat from the pa. Add the olive oil and heat the pan to medium. Place the mushrooms in the drained pan with the olive oil and cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the shallots and garlic, cook on medium for another 6 minutes. Add the kale to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the ingredients until the kale begins to wilt. Add the spinach, cover and cook until tender. Drain excess moisture and then crumble the bacon over the mixture and stir. Add the nutmeg and lemon juice.

Place the spinach kale mixture in an 8 x 8 inch baking dish sprayed with organic cooking spray. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for approximately 20-25 minutes. Top with the cheese and bake for about 5-7 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted.