Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Starting the long weekend off with a bang (of sorts)

Harvey Wallbanger Cake from the kitchen of Ann Harwood Bryce
1 package 2-layer size orange cake mix
1 3¾-ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
½ cup orange juice
2 tbsp vodka
½ cup cooking oil
½ cup Galliano

1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp Galliano
1 tbsp vodka

In large mixing bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Add eggs, oil, juice, Galliano and vodka. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed for 5 minutes, scraping bowl frequently. Pour into greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or pour into 2 greased and floured 9-inch round pans and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool in pan for ten minutes. Remove to rack and pour on glaze while cake is warm.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The naming of cookbooks

The cookbook officially has a name -- Cook Until Done: A Collection of Recipes and Stories from Family and Friends.

This sage and elucidative advice was given to me by my father when I called him the first time I decided to make meat loaf on my own.  At least I am pretty sure that it was meat loaf.  It could have been bread.  But it is usually meat loaf when I tell the story, so I am going to stick with meat loaf.

I have come across the same and similar direction in quite a few of the recipes I am collecting.  "Bake in moderate oven."  "Bake at 375" (with no indication of length of time).  Or sometimes the temperature is left out.  "Bake one hour."  There is the occasional admonishment of not overcooking or undercooking, but generally there is an assumed level of kitchen sense.

The more I cook and experiment, the more I understand these vague directions -- you get a feel for how things look and smell at various stages -- but I still understand the wish and need for specifics when approaching a recipe for the first time, so as I write and revise I am attempting to fill in the details and come up with descriptions for what "done" might mean, as well as the methods for achieving it.

I just hope I can do it without testing every single recipe.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Today's find: Orange Muffins

Because I thought that this recipe was more fun than the banana bread recipe which did not have bananas in the ingredient list.

Orange Muffins from the kitchen of M. Corbitt, from the recipe file of Ann Harwood Bryce

Makes 3 dozen small muffins

1 cup butter or margaine
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
Grated rind of 2 oranges
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
Juice of 2 oranges

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs.  Beat until well mixed.  Dissolve the baking soda in buttermilk and add it, alternating with the flour, to the egg mixture.  Add orange rind.  Fill well-buttered muffin tins 2/3 full.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.  Mix orange juice and brown sugar.  Spoon over muffins and remove them from tins immediately.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Omelette w/ portabella mushrooms, red onion and medium cheddar cheese

3 eggs, well beaten with a splash of milk
Handful chopped baby portabella mushrooms
Handful finely chopped red onion
4 slices medium cheddar cheese**

Over medium heat, saute onion and mushrooms in a bit of butter and olive oil until soft -- 3 or 4 minutes.  (I read somewhere recently that adding olive oil keeps the butter from burning.  Very handy tip.)  Add a little pepper if you like.  Salt is not necessary.  There is plenty of salt in the butter and cheese.  Scrape into small bowl and set aside.  Return pan to heat.  Add a little more butter.  (You can use non-stick spray if butter is not your friend.)  When butter has melted, pour in the beaten eggs.  Cook, without flipping, until eggs are almost set.  Spread onions and mushrooms over one half of the eggs.  Layer cheese over mushrooms and onions.  Fold eggs up over mushroom, onion, cheese mixture so that you have a sort of half moon of egg with the goodies in the middle.  Lower heat slightly to prevent burning.  Once you think that everything will hold together, gently flip the omelette.  Use a spatula rather than the courage of your convictions.  After another minute, turn off heat.  Serve omelette on warmed plate.  (It may seem like a minor detail, but a warmed plate makes a big difference.  Run it under warm water.  Set it on the stove while cooking if it won't be in the way.  Or pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds or so.)

**Swiss would be better, but cheddar is what I had in the fridge.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

For your next Kentucky Derby Day -- you know, to go with the hat

Kentucky Bourbon Chicken from the kitchen of Ann Harwood Bryce

8 chicken breasts
Salt & Pepper & Paprika to taste
½ cup butter
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 ounces bourbon
2 10-ounce cans cream of chicken soup
¾ tsp curry powder
Parsley and almonds for garnish

Dust chicken with flour, salt, pepper, paprika.  Saute in hot butter.  Brown and place in casserole.  Saute mushrooms, and add to chicken.  Add bourbon to skillet to deglaze.  Stir in soup and curry.  Stir until smooth and thick.  Pour over chicken.  Sprinkle parsley and slivered almonds over top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours.

(I can’t help thinking that the garnish of parsley and almonds should be added either late in the baking or just before serving.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Risotto redux

It's never a good idea to go to the grocery store when hungry and without a list, but I haven't been grocery shopping in a while, wasn't enthusiastic about anything that is in the freezer, and was pretty much out of symbiotic ingredients, so I decided to risk it.

I came home with some cheese (of course), zucchini, breaded whitefish from the seafood counter, a bag of risotto, red onions and baby portabella mushrooms.  There were a few other things, too, but they didn't go into dinner.

I chopped up a cup of the portabellas and sauteed them for a couple of minutes in a bit of butter and olive oil in a spacious frying pan.  (As Julia says, don't crowd the mushrooms or they won't brown.  Same goes for meat, I have noticed.)  I moved the pan off the heat, got out a sauce pan and sauted half a red onion (chopped) and two cloves of garlic (also chopped) in a bit of oil.

I have discovered that all you really need is enough oil or fat to coat whatever you are cooking.  The big puddles called for in a lot of recipes are completely unnecessary, especially when working with a food with fairly high moisture content (i.e. mushrooms or zucchini).  The moisture released by the food keeps everything moving around and not sticking, but a little oil still gives it that yumminess.

A cup of risotto joined the onion and garlic, followed shortly by a cup of vegetable stock.  Again with the stirring until absorbed noted in the previous recipe.  Then a cup of a Riesling which wasn't too impressive on its own but turned out to do very good things for risotto.  Then another cup of stock.  And a bit more wine for good measure.  The mushrooms when in right near the end of all of the adding and stirring of the liquid.

I cubed up a bit of muenster cheese and added that over the top when I served the rice.  The mostly steamed zucchini was a nice complement.  The fish was a bit nondescript, but not bad given that I bought it pre-breaded.  But the risotto was the star.

All in all, not bad for an improvised Tuesday night dinner.  Not bad at all.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Expanding culinary horizons

There is a magical, mystical dessert popular in New England called a Whoopee Pie.  Through the magic of Facebook, and East Coast friend introduced a Midwestern friend to this tasty treat, so I thought I would post a recipe.  The below recipe comes from my mother-in-law and is quite famous at least within family circles (and I would guess that they were popular with the neighborhood kids as well as her sons).

This little dessert is often a choice for variation on flavors of both cake and filling, but I prefer the classic.

A photograph of the actual recipe
Whoopee Pies from the kitchen of Joyce Poole
2 3/4 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour milk
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup cocoa

Add hot water to cocoa. Cream shortening and sugar. Mix dry ingredients. Add eggs and vanilla to shortening and sugar mixture. Add dry ingredient mixture with milk, alternating in steps. Add cocoa paste and mix until smooth. Drop by tablespoons [on greased baking sheet]. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.

2 1/2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla

Cook milk and flour until smooth. Cool. It will be very thick. Cream sugar and shortening. Add milk and flour paste and whip until smooth.

Assembly instructions (not included in the recipe):  Let cakes cool.  Take one, spread with a thick layer of filling and top with a second cake.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The daily recipe

More than a third of the way through the first stage of my cookbook project is probably a bit late to come up with the idea of posting a recipe a day, but I am going to do it anyway.  And I may post more than one a day because, well, sharing is fun.

I have moved on to recipes from my mother's side of the family, and even though I have no idea who Jane might be, I thought these cookies sounded like fun.  (Remember, at the outset I am typing up recipes pretty much as they are written, so the directions might be a little ... informal and assume that the cook knows more than he or she does.  After all, if these recipes were familiar to the people I got them from, they probably didn't need a lot of detail.  Or perhaps it is simply a matter of general cooking and baking skills being more common in the days before Lean Cuisine.)

Ranger Cookies from the kitchen of Jane
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
2 cups quick oatmeal
2 cups cereal, such as Rice Krispies or bran
1 cup coconut
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped nuts

Cream shortening and sugars.  Add vanilla, salt and eggs.  Sift together flour, soda and baking powder and add to creamed mixture.  Add oatmeal, cereal, etc.  Mix well and form into balls.  Bake 12 minutes at 350 degrees.  These cookies will be soft, but will harden later when cool.  Makes about 7 to 8 dozen.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

An Ode to Risotto

Okay, so I don't write odes, but the risotto I just made is definitely poetic.  Yum!

1 cup risotto
2 chopped shallots
1 chopped clove garlic
2 Tbsp salted butter
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup Savuignon Blanc
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh broccoli

Saute shallots and garlic in butter and oil for about 3 minutes -- fragrant with a little color, but not too brown.

Add risotto and cook for 2 minutes.

Add one cup of stock.  Cook until liquid is absorbed, stirring somewhere between often and continuously to keep the risotto from sticking.

Add the other cup of stock.  Keep going with the cooking and stirring.

When mostly absorbed, add the broccoli and mix in well.

Add the wine, and go repeat the cooking and stirring process until most of the liquid is gone.

Turn off the heat -- but don't remove from burner -- cover and let rest for 5-10 minutes to let the broccoli cook a bit more.

I didn't add any salt or pepper because the butter and stock had salt in them, and I don't care for pepper, but you certainly could.

Goat cheese crumbles would have been a good garnish, but I didn't have any, so I ate it as is.


I think that it would be excellent with roasted or grilled chicken.  You could use beef or chicken stock instead of vegetable.  I had notions of mixing in pesto, but in the end I didn't.  I might with the leftovers, though.

When was the last time you saw a recipe which called for suet?

Well, here's one in case you decided you were missing out.

Green Tomato Mincemeat from the kitchen of Helen Hoffman Babione

1 peck green tomatoes, chopped fine. Drain off juice and measure. Take same amount of hot water [as drained off tomato juice, I think]. (Throw juice away.) Add 2 tbsp salt.  Boil a few minutes. Drain. Do this three times. [By "this" I think she means add hot water and salt, boil and drain.]  Drain well, and then add following:

1 peck chopped apples
5 pounds brown sugar
1 cup vinegar
1 cup suet (ground)
2 tsp each nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves.
1 pound seeded raisins
1 pound seedless raisins

Boil together until thick. Care while hot.

(Then what?? Put it in a pie? Pour it over the intruders storming the castle? Eat it right out of the pot with the biggest spoon you can find?  And can you even buy seeded grapes any more?  Or apples measured in pecks?  Or a five pound bag of brown sugar?  A lot of these recipes are definitely about stocking up.  Suet isn't hard to come by.  The woodpeckers and squirrels that live -- or at least eat -- in the backyard love it.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Aristocratic Pickles

Having decided to turn NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) into CkBkWriMo (Cookbook Writing Month), I am madly writing about various food experiences and typing up family recipes.  I had to get to the third recipe before I got more than one line of directions, and it's a doozy.  Enjoy.

Aristocratic Pickles (based on the handwriting, from the kitchen of Helen Hoffman Babione)

One gallon medium size pickles sliced thin, put in brine to float an egg for six days.  Stir once a day.  Then drain. Boil in water to cover pickles with alum (?) size of an egg for ten minutes.  Then drain.  And cover pickles with 2 tbsp (word I can't read) of ginger for 10 min.  Then drain and boil in the following until transparent

1 quart vinegar and 1 pint water
3 pounds granulated sugar and 1 tbsp celery seed
1 tbsp whole cloves
1 tbsp allspice
1 stick cinnamon

Put spices in bag except celery seed

Add slightly more vinegar and water syrup is very close

(I think that this might be my favorite use of eggs ever -- as brine density barometer and unit of measure.)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The morning's cooking adventure

I am most of the way through reading and savoring The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rosetto Kasper and Sally Swift, diligently marking recipes to try with one color of sticky note and advice with another.  I was rather impressed with my accomplishment until I discovered that there is a sequel/companion: The Splendid Table's How to Eat Weekends.

As a side note, if you don't listen to the weekly radio program on your local npr station or online, and you love preparing and eating food, you are missing out.  I have developed a tradition of listening to the Turkey Confidential episode of the show as I prepare the Thanksgiving meal, and it enhances the holiday wonderfully.  The host's approach to food and cooking has the alchemical and experimental qualities which appeal to me.

I love vegetable soup and lentil soup, but I have trouble making the broth come out as thick and hearty as I would like, and if I want the taste to be truly savory, I usually have to add meat.  No more.  Thanks to Lynne Rosetto Kasper, I have found the recipe for soup that tastes just right.  I think that the keys to the yumminess are tomato paste, paprika, wine and portobello mushrooms.  I have made two batches so far.  Bliss.  I don't even have to put cheese on top.  That's how good it is.

But soup is not the day's cooking adventure.  Eggs are.

I love eggs.  They are one of those foods with elemental versatility.  They go into dishes to help bind things together, they add depth to salads, and they provide a stage for showcasing all manner of foods in the form of omelettes and quiches.  They get a bad rap because of the cholesterol, but they are a wonderful source of protein, so if you are worried about cholesterol, just don't eat a million of them.  Apply appropriate moderation.  Or make an omelette with one whole egg and two parts eggs beaters or whites or substitute or whatever.  (Though between you and me, I would wonder what and egg substitute has in place of the cholesterol that might be just as bad, if not worse.)

Every once in a while, I like a plain, hard boiled egg, still warm from the pan, sliced in half and sprinkled with just a hint of sea salt.  No fancy combinations or processes or ingredients.  Just the egg.

Among the recipes in How to Eat Supper which intrigued me are two involving hard boiled eggs.  One is sauteed deviled eggs and the other is for sauteed hard boiled eggs.  I had some eggs in the refrigerator which were reaching a dubious age, so I boiled them yesterday.  I ate two as a snack and the other three went back into the fridge until I decided what I wanted to do with them.

This morning, as I was casting about for what to have for breakfast, I remembered the eggs and the recipe for sauteeing them.  I decided to forgo the bread crumb and garlic topping, and I had to substitute basalmic vinegar for white wine vinegar, but the result was interesting in a good way.

Word to the wise (this is the adventure part): room temperature basalmic vinegar added to olive oil which is hotter than you think it is leads to a rather impressive flambe in a hurry.  Luckily, the eggs were not yet in the pan, so I waited for things to settle down, washed and dried the pan, and started again with a lower flame and more attention.

A little olive oil, a little vinegar.  Heat until vinegar bubbles.  It doesn't take long, I promise.  Cut hard boiled eggs in half and slide into pan, cut side down.  Saute for a few minutes and then turn over.  The eggs will have a nice glaze to them.  The eggs adopted the sweetness of the basalmic vinegar nicely, and I ate them with sauteed zucchini and mashed potatoes.  The resulting flavor medley on the fork  was surprisingly savory, causing me to ponder other possible saute baths for hard boiled eggs.

Score another one for the incredible, edible egg.