Weekend Cooking

We dug deep into our archives to share some fall garden gourmet recipes with you. Here are a few from our August/September 1999 issue, just the third issue produced by the current publishers. The recipes are from Karen Mitcham–Stoeckley, who studied the culinary arts in Italy, France, Japan, and America. Karen had a food column for many years in Missouri Life, and now she is famous for writing two books, A Culinary Legacy from Escoffier to Today and Fabulous Fruits: Recipes for Every Season, written in celebration of Stark Bro’s 200th anniversary. Stark Bro’s Nursery and Orchards is a Louisiana, Missouri, company. Learn more about Karen below the recipes.

Here is a tasty way to use some fall produce from the garden this weekend:


Photo courtesy of Canva

For the pesto:
1 cup rinsed and dried fresh basil, packed down
⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
⅔ cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
⅓ cup pine nuts, toasted lightly 

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a thick puree forms. Refrigerate in a glass container. Keeps about one week. 

For the bruschetta:
2 crushed garlic cloves
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 loaf of French bread
4 to 5 fresh small tomatoes
Grated Parmesan cheese 

  1. Place garlic cloves in the olive oil and allow to sit for about one hour to flavor the oil. 
  2. Slice the bread at an angle into 1-inch slices. Place on a cookie sheet and brush with the olive oil. Lightly toast for 6 to 8 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Remove and cool.
  3. Place 1 scant tablespoon of pesto on each slice of bread and spread evenly. Top with a slice of tomato and sprinkle with the grated cheese. 
  4.  Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove and serve hot. 

Hint from Karen: I prepare this ahead of time and bake it in two batches so the “seconds” are hot, too. You can also put the assembled bruschetta on the top rack of your grill for a great flavor but watch closely and don’t overcook. 



4 or 5 medium/small zucchini
½ cup coconut milk ( canned)
1 ½ cup water
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 ¼ cup Jasmine rice
4 tablespoons butter
3 minced green onions with some of the green tops
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon juice 

  1. Shred the zucchini on a grater or with the medium shredder on the food processor to make 3 to 4 cups. 
  2. In a strainer, layer zucchini, and salt. Allow draining for at least 30 minutes. Squeeze out the liquid and rinse with cold water. Squeeze again and drain for about 10 minutes. 
  3. In a saucepan, mix together the coconut milk, water, ginger, and a dash of salt.
  4. Bring to a boil and add rice. Reduce the heat and cover. Simmer on low until water is absorbed and rice is tender for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered for another 5 minutes. 
  5. In a saute pan, melt the but­ter. Add zucchini, green onion, and a dash of grated nutmeg. Cook until tender, con­stantly stirring. Cook only about 4 min­utes, or zucchini will be overcooked and limp. 
  6. Add the lemon juice and toss. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Serve on top of rice. 

Hint: Serve with herbed grilled chicken and a salad. Also, the zest of lemon sprinkled on top of the zucchini and rice is a nice touch. 


Photo courtesy of Canva


2 pounds of fresh beets, washed, peeled, and cut into small pieces
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar ( or raspberry vinegar for a sweeter flavor)
Zest of one orange
4 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
3 slices of dry French bread, cut into croutons
2 hard-boiled eggs
4 cups of romaine or garden leaf lettuce
⅓ cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts
Salt and pepper 


  1. Roast the beets in a non-aluminum pan, with ½ cup water, covered for 45 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Cool or refrigerate overnight. 
  2. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the vinegar and oil and sea­son lightly with salt and pepper. 
  3. In a skillet, fry the bacon and drain on towels.
  4. Pour out all but two tablespoons of grease and saute the bread chunks in the skillet until light brown. 
  5. Grate the orange zest and toast the nuts. Peel eggs and roughly chop.
  6. Place all ingredients in a salad bowl and toss with the vinai­grette. Serve chilled.

Hint: You can prepare the salad a day ahead, chill and add the vinaigrette at the last moment before serving. For a fuller flavor, marinate beets overnight in vinaigrette and assemble the salad just before serving.



Photo courtesy of Canva

6 or 7 ripe tomatoes, quartered
1 cup tomato juice
1 cucumber, partially peeled and cut into chunks
3 garlic cloves
1 small onion peeled and chunked, or four green onions, cut with part of green included
⅓ cup fresh basil or oregano
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
Cup cold water
Salt and pepper 

  1. Put three of the tomatoes in a food processor and puree, pouring the cold water through the feed tube slowly.
  2. Add the cucumber, garlic, and onion and process until only small pieces are visible. Pour into a bowl. 
  3. Put the remaining tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients into the processor. Pulse for about 30 seconds, leaving small chunks.
  4. Pour into the first batch and mix well. Refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours before serving. 

Hint: Top with a dollop of sour cream mixed with finely chopped green onion. Croutons are also a nice topping. 


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Meet Karen (Blumensaadt) Mitcham-Stoeckley

Photo courtesy of Karen (Blumensaadt) Mitcham-Stoeckley

Restaurant owner, executive chef, and culinary writer, Karen has spent her adult career creating good food to feed family and friends as well as professionally feeding guests demanding only the best on their plates. Cooking, teaching, and writing are her passions.

Her former restaurant in Louisiana, Missouri, was located in the historic downtown area just a block from the Mississippi River. Located in four continuous buildings that were restored to their 1850s style, the property housed a Bistro and fine dining restaurant, serving continental cuisine. The property included a dining garden, winery, and bakery along with eleven bed-and-breakfast rooms. Good food, good service, and award-winning wine were the keystones of her restaurant. 

Previous culinary experience includes several years in the 1970s as the culinary consultant to Le Creuset and Coutances, the wonderfully heavy vitreous enameled cast-iron French cookware. That position afforded her the opportunity to teach cooking from Bloomingdale’s Main Course in New York City to Macy’s basement in San Francisco, as well as to study cooking in France, Italy, and this country.

A summer spent with Maurice Moore-Betty in his New York City school was another opportunity that molded her culinary abilities. A brief stint in New Orleans gave Karen a peak into Cajun cooking, and three years living in Asia allowed her to study Japanese, Thai, and Chinese cuisine.

Karen and her husband, artist John Stoeckley, have traveled to Provence for fifteen spring or summers, where Karen has enjoyed the opportunity of cooking in her own kitchen with the abundance of produce from the local marketplace, as well as the opportunity of visiting and working briefly in the kitchens of many successful chefs there.