Holocaust Memorial at the Mandell JCC in West Hartford and plaster model of same sculpture. Elbert Weinberg collection, Hartford History Center, Hartford Public Library.

Cooking It Up: Hartford, Health and History

Cooking It Up! Hartford, Health and History

Presented by the Hartford Public Library and its Hartford History Center

Cooking demonstration programs combining good food, good health and fond memories.  Each program features a chef from a Hartford restaurant known for its ethnic cuisine. The chef prepares well-loved recipes from the restaurant kitchen while local nutritionist Sharon Mierzwa provides tips on how to make our meals healthier.  Host/Producer Nancy R. Savin leads an appetizing discussion on the city’s food and dining landscape, past and present.  All programs, filmed before a live audience in the Library’s 2nd floor studio kitchen, are broadcasted on Hartford Public Access Television as well as below.

Cooking It Up: Hartford, Health and History is funded in part through the Library Services and Technology Act of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Click on the images below to see individual “Cooking It Up: Hartford, Health and History” programs.

 Polish National Home




Recipes for “Cooking It Up” – Polish National Home


Bigos (hunter’s stew)

Saur kraut (sour), cabbage (sweet), chopped pieces of pork rib meat. Add boiling water, mustard, bay leaves, small pieces of kielbasa, salt and pepper to taste. Put in oven 325 degrees. Cook until meat falls apart (about 2 hours for 2lbs.). Add glass of wine

Plackiziemniaczane (potato pancakes)

Clean potatoes, shred them (by hand or machine). Add salt and pepper to taste, chopped onions, 3 or 4 eggs, cup of flour. Use an ice cream scoop to create potato pancake balls, flatten and pan fry in vegetable oil or saffron oil until golden brown.

Krokiet (Croquette-stuffed, rolled pancake)

Make a crepe or thin pancake. Sauté with chopped mushrooms, Sauerkraut, salt and pepper, lots of chopped onions. Fill the crepe and roll it closed. Beat an egg and brush it on the rolled crepe and put bread crumbs on top. Pan fry in a light oil with a little butter.

Kotlet (chicken cutlet)

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Grind. Add salt and pepper, garlic, onions, eggs. Soak white bread in milk and add to the chicken and other ingredients. Form into balls and flatten. Add bread crumbs and pan fry in light oil on both sides for 5 minutes to brown. Put in casserole dish and in oven at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Pierogi (dumplings filled with blueberries)


2 cups flour; 2 small eggs or 1 large;  few spoonfuls of water


2 cups of fruit – sliced strawberries, blueberries

Mix the flour, eggs and water. Add extra flour until the dough can be worked without being too sticky. Divide the dough into two parts. Roll each piece into a thin sheet (1/4 inch thick) on a floured surface. Cut out circles of dough using a pastry cutter or glass (2-3 inches in diameter). Put 2 Tbsp filling in center of circle, then fold circle in half, lining up the edges and pressing them together to completely seal. Cook in boiling water. When dumplings rise to the top of the water they are done. Drain and serve.

Carbone’s Ristorante





Recipes for “Cooking It Up” – Carbone’s


Pan Roasted Cod

2 Cups Quinoa

4 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock

1 lb. Cubed Butternut Squash (1/2 inch cubes)

1 Cup Peas

1 Pint oven Cured Grape Tomatoes

Olive Oil

Fresh lemon juice from 1 Lemon

Dash of Salt and Pepper

1 lb. Fresh Cod (4 X 4oz. portions)

For Salsa Verde:

2 oz. Flat Leaf Parsley

2 oz. Fresh Cilantro

1 oz.  Raw Garlic Minced

1 oz. Minced Shallot

1 oz. White Vinegar

1 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice

1 oz. Minced Jalapeño Pepper

4 oz. Virgin Olive Oil

Dash Salt and Pepper

Blend till pesto consistency then set aside.

 For Quinoa:

Simmer Quinoa in stock till tender and fluffy, set aside. Preheat oven 400 degrees, toss butternut lightly coating, put on cookie sheet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake till golden brown and tender.

Toss gently: quinoa, butternut, oven cured tomatoes, peas with 4-6 oz. of olive oil, juice from 1 lemon, salt and pepper.

For Fish:  Heat non-stick pan till it starts to smoke, add oil. Salt and Pepper the fish, gently brown 3-4 minutes on each side. Turn just once, fish will flake.  When done gently serve over Quinoa and vegetable mix. Top with Salsa Verde.

Servings 4


Penne alla Rabe

1 lb. Penne or other pasta

1 Eggplant cubed and roasted

1 Bunch (8 -12 oz. ) of Rabe

8 oz.  Canned Plum Tomatoes

6 oz. Virgin Olive Oil

8 Cloves Roasted Garlic

6 oz. Pecorino Romano Cheese (Grated)

32 Toasted Pine Nuts

Salt and Pepper to taste


Rub cubed eggplant with olive oil to lightly coat, salt, and pepper. Roast till golden brown at 425 degrees 15-20 minutes. Boil Rabe 2 minutes, cool and drain well, roughly chop. Boil pasta. In large skillet combine olive oil and roasted garlic. Add rabe, eggplant, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Add Pasta, toss well add ½ grated cheese. Plate; top with remaining cheese and (8) pine nuts.

Servings 4-6


Winter Caprice Salad

24  ½” slices of Vine Ripe Tomatoes

½ oz. Fresh Basil (chiffonade)

8 oz. Virgin Olive Oil

Dash Salt and Pepper

8 oz. Fresh Mozzarella

Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette   (optional)


For oven cured tomatoes:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees for a ½ hour. Slice tomatoes and drizzle with ½ of the olive oil and ½ the basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off oven and place tomatoes in oven over night.

To serve:  Plate tomatoes 4 to a plate, top with mozzarella, and drizzle with olive oil, add basil, add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle aged balsamic vinaigrette to taste and serve.

Serves 6

The Kitchen at Billings Forge

Recipes for “Cooking It Up” – The Kitchen at Billings Forge



3  pounds butternut squash (about 2 medium), peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter (or 4 Tbsp vegetable oil)

3 cups sliced red onions

2 bunches swiss chard, leaves and stems cut separately

1  teaspoon chopped fresh sage

1 small log soft fresh goat cheese (or 3/4 cup lowfat/skim ricotta cheese)

1 cup heavy whipping cream (or substitute 1 cup whole or evaporated skim milk)

1/2 cup hazelnuts (or walnuts) pulsed in a food processor

Method: toss prepared squash with melted butter or oil and roast in oven at 350 until soft and brown.  Meanwhile, caramelize onions in pan, and wilt the chard, allowing the stems to cook first.  Layer squash with onion and squash mixture, pour Liquid over, then top with spoonfuls of cheese and sprinkle with nuts.  Place in oven at 400 for about 10 minutes.




1 CUP SUGAR (can substitute ½ cup orange juice for ½ cup sugar)



Combine all above ingredients in cuisinart and pulse to desired consistency.  Use orange juice as needed for sweetness.




8 c chopped pears
1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 t ground ginger

Toss together and place in baking dish.


14 oz oats
12 oz wheat flour
2 t cinnamon
16 oz dark brown sugar (alternative: 1/2 cup apple or orange juice, ½ cup brown sugar)
12 oz cold butter (alternative: 4 oz butter with ¾ cup vegetable oil)
1 t salt (can reduce to ½ T)

Mix the topping together working the cold butter into the dry with your hands or a pastry cutter.

Top the fruit with the crisp and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.


City Steam Brewery












Recipes for “Cooking It Up” – City Steam Brewery


Roasted Butternut and Apple Bisque with Maple Crème Fraiche and Cranberry Tapenade Garnish


4 pounds peeled butternut (cut into 2 inch cubes)

2 Granny Smith apples

2 shallots sliced

½ qt heavy cream (could substitute light cream or lowfat yogurt)

1 stick of butter  (can substitute ½ c. olive oil)

1 bunch of sage chopped

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground cloves

¼ cup cinnamon

1 qt apple cider

1 cup Mascarpone cheese

1 vanilla bean sliced and insides scraped and used

½ cup maple syrup


1. Roast butternut squash, apples, and shallots in butter, sage, salt and pepper

2. Add rest of ingredients in a pot and heat up to a simmer

3. Put some of the liquid mixture and roasted mixture in a blender and puree

keep adding liquids in till the desired consistency

4. Add remaining ingredients


Maple Crème Fraiche

1 cup crème fraiche *

* or if unavailable ¾  cup sour cream and ¼ cup buttermilk (can substitute plain lowfat yogurt for sour cream)

½ cup Maple Syrup

1. Mix all ingredients till incorporated


 Cranberry tapenade

1 cup dried cranberries

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup lemon juice

2 oz brandy

Zest of 1 orange

  1. On low heat slowly heat up till soft
  2. Let cool and chop


Apple Puffs with Cider Caramel and Cinnamon Chantilly Cream Topping

(to reduce calories and fat content, skip the toppings!)

Apple Puffs

4 Cortlandor Macintosh apples ( peeled and cored through center)

4-4 inch puff pastry

¼ cup cinnamon

½ cup granulated sugar

  1. Mix cinnamon and sugar
  2. Roll apple all over coating it well with the cinnamon and sugar
  3. Put apple in the center of the puff pastry and tuck ends into the hole in the apple
  4. Crimp sides of puff pastry and put on  greased sheetpan
  5. Preheat oven to 375 and cook till golden
  6. Drop oven temp to 325 and cook till toothpick pokes into apple with ease


Cider Caramel

1 ½ cups brown sugar (could reduce sugar to ¾ cup)

½ qt heavy cream (could substitute light cream)

1 stick of butter (cubed and cold), or ½ cup vegetable oil

½ cup apple cider

  1. Add brown sugar and heavy cream together in a pot
  2. Simmer till reduced by ½
  3. Take off heat and add cubed butter and mix till all melted


Cinnamon Chantilly Cream

½ qt heavy cream (could substitute light cream or fat-free plain yogurt)

¾ cup powdered sugar

¼ cup mascarpone

1 TBSP cinnamon

  1. Whip cream till thickened
  2. Add rest of ingredients till incorporated











Green Peace Roll

2/3 cup uncooked short-grain white rice

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 tablespoons white sugar

1/2 teaspoons salt

4 sheets nori seaweed sheets

1/2 cucumber, peeled, cut into small strips

2 tablespoons pickled ginger

1 avocado

¼ cup sun dried tomatoes

2 spears fresh cooked asparagus

Mango, peeled and sliced


In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/3 cups water to a boil. Add rice, and stir. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. In a small bowl, mix the rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Blend the mixture into the rice.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). On a medium baking sheet, heat nori in the preheated oven 1 to 2 minutes, until warm.

Center one sheet nori on a bamboo sushi mat. Wet your hands. Using your hands, spread a thin layer of rice on the sheet of nori, and press into a thin layer. Arrange 1/4 of the cucumber, ginger, avocado, and asparagus, tomatoes and mango in a line down the center of the rice. Lift the end of the mat, and gently roll it over the ingredients, pressing gently. Roll it forward to make a complete roll. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Cut each roll into 4 to 6 slices using a wet, sharp knife.

Serve with sliced ginger.



1 bag frozen edamame

½ tsp Hawaiian sea salt

Put frozen edamame in small amount of boiling water, steam for 3 minutes or according to package directions. Remove from heat, drain and rinse quickly under cold water to reduce heating. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.


Pad Thai

3 tbsp. concentrated tamarind juice
3 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. oyster sauce

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tbsp. minced shallot
1 tbsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. tofu
1 tbsp. sweet radish (minced)
2 handful thin noodle, like mung bean noodle (Soak the noodle in regular water for 2 hours)

2 eggs
1 handful of a garlic-like vegetable
10 big shrimps (peeled, de-veined and cooked)


1 handful bean sprouts
1 tsp. dried red chili powder
2 tbsp. roasted peanut (crushed)
4-5 sprigs of garlic chives/ Chinese chives
1 piece of sliced lime

Cooking Instructions:

Heat a pan and add fish sauce, tamarind juice, oyster sauce and a little bit of water. Use medium or low heat to let the sauce boil until thick, continue stirring and avoid overheating or burning. Taste the sauce and adjust to taste for sweetness, sourness and saltiness. When the sauce is thick, remove from the stove.

Heat a different pan and add vegetable oil. When the pan is hot, add garlic and shallot, fry until translucent. Add tofu and sweet radish.

Add noodles and 4 tbsp of the cooked sauce. Do not add too much because the noodle will be too wet and can overcook. Add bean sprouts and the sliced garlic Chives/ Chinese Chives.

Put the noodle aside. Cook the egg in the pan until it is almost completely cooked, then mix in the noodles. Add shrimp and continue stirring.

Remove from heat. Arrange the noodles on a plate. Garnish with dried chili pepper,  peanuts, fresh bean sprouts, one piece of lemon and the garlic chives/ Chinese chives on the side.


Black Eyed Sally’s 









Jambalaya (adapted from Grant Michel recipe)

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

8 ounces turkey lowfat low sodium kielbasa, diced

1 onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup diced celery

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

salt and ground black pepper to taste

2 cups uncooked white rice

4 cups chicken stock

3 bay leaves

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce


Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Saute chicken and kielbasa until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Season with cayenne, onion powder, salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes, or until onion is tender and translucent. Add rice, then stir in chicken stock and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes, or until rice is tender. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce.


Blackened Catfish (recipe adapted from Indianabarlow)


2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons lemon pepper

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons pepper

1 pound catfish fillets

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup Italian-style low-fat salad dressing


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a medium baking dish.
  2. In a shallow, medium bowl, mix cayenne pepper, lemon pepper, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  3. Brush both sides of catfish fillets with olive oil. Rub fillets with the cayenne pepper mixture on both sides.
  4. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until really hot. Add fillets, and fry approximately 2 minutes on each side, until slightly blackened.
  5. Arrange blackened fillets in a single layer in the prepared baking dish, and coat with Italian-style salad dressing. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until fish is easily flaked with a fork.

Country Collard Greens

2 Tbsp molasses
2 bunches collard greens
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp celery salt
Splash of cider vinegar
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Place collards in enough water to cover in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook gently for 2 hours.

Cut central rib from collards, then chop coarsely. Add all remaining ingredients to pot, bring back to a boil, then reduce to low again, cover, and simmer for two hours. Taste and adjust seasonings.











(rice with pigeon peas)

1 pound of pigeon peas (canned or frozen)

2 cups rice (rinsed)

4-5 cups hot water or beef broth

3 T olive oil

½  cup sofrito

2  T of alcaparrado (cappers and olives mixed)

1 packet sazon with achiote

1-8ounce can tomato sauce

Salt and pepper

  1. In a medium size caldero (a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven) add the oil, tomato sauce, alcaparrado, sofrito and sazon. Sauté for about 5 minutes over medium heat.
  2. Add all other ingredients and enough water to cover the rice 1” above the rice line.
  3. Start with a teaspoon of salt and keep adding and mixing until you are satisfied with the taste.
  4. Bring to a boil and cook over high heat until most of the water is absorbed.
  5. Once most of the water is absorbed stir gently from the bottom to the top a couple of times.
  6. Cover and turn heat down to low cook for 30 minutes or until rice is tender.

Yields: 8 servings.














  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Peel the plantains cut in half lengthwise and slice into ½ inch strips.
  3. Bring a 3 quart heavy pot to a boil place the plantains for 8 minutes or so.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan or skillet and sauté the onion and bell pepper until the onion is translucent, remove from pan and set aside.
  5. In the same pan brown the turkey over high heat stirring constantly.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium add onion bell pepper and remaining ingredients except the cheese stir to combine and cook for a few minutes.
  7. Using  some cooking spray, grease  a shallow baking dish and layer as follows:1/2 of the plantains, ½ of the meat filling, ½ of the plantains, ½ of the meat filling, sprinkle with grated cheese.
  8. Bake uncovered for ½ hour.
  9. Remove from oven  let stand 5-8 minutes cut into squares and serve.

Yields: 4-5 servings



(Roast Pork Shoulder)

1 4-6 pound pork shoulder

3 cloves garlic peeled and cut into slivers

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon of oregano

  1. Wash pork thoroughly under cold running water, pat dry with paper towels
  2. Combine all ingredients together.
  3. With a sharp knife make various slits in the fat and meat of the shoulder, stud the slits with salt mixture make sure to rub seasoning into the skin.
  4. Place pork in a large bowl cover and refrigerate overnight.
  5. After marinating place pork in shallow baking dish, add a cup of water to the bottom of the pan and tent with aluminum foil.
  6. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 3 hours.
  7. Remove foil and bake another ½ hour so the skin can crisp. The roast is done when pork is tender.

Yields: 6-8 servings


Vaughn’s Public House









Shepard’s Pie

2 1/2 cups onions, minced

1 cup carrots, minced

1 cup celery, minced

1 ½ pounds ground beef

½ TBsp garlic, minced

½ tsp rosemary, ground

½ TBsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 TBsp butter

1 TBsp flour

2 cups water

¾ TBsp beef base (bouillion)

1 cup frozen corn

¾ TBsp kitchen Bouquet

Cook onions, carrots, celery and garlic until tender. Cook ground beef separate, drain grease and add to vegetables. Add seasonings, water, and beef-base. Melt butter and add flour, cook until golden brown. Combine roux (flour and butter) with stew and stir well. Continue to cook for 10 minutes until sauce is smooth. Stir in kitchen bouquet and corn. Serve portions in serving dish.


Baked Potato Soup

2 sticks of butter or 1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups onions, chopped

½ cup flour

1 quart chicken stock (32 ounces)

¼ cup chicken base

3 cups milk

¼ cup potatoes flakes

½ TBsp Tabasco sauce

½ TBsp herb salt

¼ TBsp basil

1 ½ cups shredded potatoes

Cook onions in butter or oil until translucent. Add flour and cook 2-3 minutes. Add milk 1 cup at a time. Mix until smooth between each cup. In separate container using hot water dissolve potato flakes and chicken base. Add contents to milk and onion mixture 1 cup at a time. Cook 5 minutes and remove from heat. Add remaining ingredients. Cool properly.


Guinness Stout Brownies

5 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

10 oz bittersweet chocolate

5 oz white chocolate, chopped

7 TBsp unsalted butter

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup cocoa powder

1 ½ cups Guinness Stout

Powdered sugar for garnish


Pre-heat oven to 375. Place eggs in bowl and beat with sugar using electric mixer; beat until light and fluffy. Melt together both chocolates and butter. With mixer running, add chocolate to egg mixture. Sift together cocoa and flour. Mix together with chocolate and eggs. Whisk in Guinness Stout. Place in 8 x 8 greased pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center of brownie comes out clean.


 Royal Masala













Cooking time:   25 min.

Preparation time:  15min


1 cup chickpeas (Kabuli chana) (boiled)

4 cups spinach leaves

1 cup cubed paneer

1 piece cinnamon stick

2 or 3 cloves

2 onions, chopped

1 tomato chopped

2 tsp ginger green chili paste

1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)

½  tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp red chili powder

2 tsp coriander power

1 tsp chana masala powder

1 tsp garam masala powder

½ cup curd

Salt (as per taste)

Oil (as needed)

Cooking instructions:

1. soak chickpeas in water for 5 hours and boil them till they get soft. Keep it aside.

2. chop and rinse spinach leaves and then boil them for 5 min., ground to fine paste

3. take a pan and add 2 tbsp oil, add some cumin seeds cinnamon pieces cloves to it

4.  then add chopped onion and tomatoes,  sauté it until it gets light brown in color

5.  add ginger garlic paste to it, sauté well until the raw smell goes out and add turmeric and garam masala to it

6.  to that mixture add dried chili powder, coriander powder, channa masala after that add ground palak and boiled channa to the gravy,  cook 5 min.

8.  add paneer cubes and cook well; finally add some beaten curd to thicken gravy

9.  serve warm with pulao or rice powder




For grinding:

1tsp garam masala

½ tsp oil

½ inch ginger

½ tbsp of fennel seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

3 or 4 dried red chilies

1 tbsp poppy seeds

10 grams of grated coconut

1 tbsp fried gram dal


For gravy:

1 lb fish

10 grams chopped pearl onions (shallots)

1 tsp fenugreek seeds

2 chopped tomatoes

Few curry leaves

10-15 garlic cloves

1 tsp turmeric power

½   inch jaggery

½ tbsp red chili powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1 cup tamarind pulp

Salt (as per taste)

Oil (sesame oil)


Cooking instructions:

1.  clean and wash fish and keep it aside

2.  add little oil in a pan add grinding ingredients fry for 5 min. and ground to a fine paste

3.  take a pan and add 2 tbsp sesame oil add some fenugreek seeds until it turns to golden brown add curry leaves

4.  then add chopped onions tomatoes sauté it till it gets cooked

5.  add peeled garlic cloves to it saute well until the raw smell goes out and add tamarind pulp turmeric and salt to it

6.  add ground masala paste to that mixture add dried chili power coriander power

7.  cover and cook gravy for 5 min.

8.  add cleaned fish pieces to the gravy cover and cook 10 minutes

9.  finally  add some coriander leaves to garnish gravy

Serve hot with plain rice.


Explore Our Catalog

Hartford Public Library's online catalog:

Explore Our Digital Repository

Hours and Locations

Hartford History Center, located on the third floor of the Downtown Hartford Public Library, is open Tuesday through Friday, 1:00-5:00 p.m., and by appointment.