Thursday, November 29, 2007

Everyday Food - The Christmas Issues

I LOVE Everyday Food - it's always chockful of elegant yet simple little recipes and they're always doable while not being full of cans of soup. At the same time, they're also not needlessly elaborate - so often the recipes in Martha Stewart Living are beyond frilly and goofy. They're a nice medium.

So this is what I do: I get a new food magazine, make a ton of things out of it over the following weeks and then put it away, never to be read again. Then, a while later, I'm wondering where that certain fantastic recipe went, and der, I don't know. Hence this little index, which has links to my favorite recipes from all of my past Christmas (right now - I'm going to gradually add all of them) issues of Everyday Food. Handy!

Everyday Food December 2003
Bolognese Sauce
Cranberry Scones
Cranberry Avocado Salsa
Grand Raspberry Trifle

Everyday Food December 2005
Mushroom Tart
The kids' favorite - Ricotta Manicotti with Tomato Sauce
Cream Puffs with Ice Cream and Hot Fudge Sauce
Ginger Sesame Bok Choy
Peppermint Bark

Everyday Food December 2006
Warm Chocolate Puddings
The famous Mint Chocolate Brownies

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A really good cookie

... with a really stupid name. "Snickerdoodles." They sound like one of those horrible poodle hybrids that dog breeders are always making. Half poodle and half horrible teenage girl. But nope, they're actually a tasty cookie and REALLY easy.

I hesitate to say that they're a good Christmas cookie - I think of them as one, but I'm lazy. They're not decorative and you can't freeze them but they have a singularily pleasant buttery tenderness and a gentle cinnamon taste - just the thing with a cup of coffee.

To make the cookies:
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and then set it all aside. Cream together the butter and sugar (you'll need an electric mixer) until it's pale and fluffy and then add the eggs. Mix that all together and then add the flour mixture, GENTLY mixing together with the electric mixer on a nice sedate speed.

Now mix together 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar in a little bowl. Shape the dough into 20 balls and roll in the cinnamon-sugar. Place them on the cookie sheets, giving them enough space to spread out quite a bit.

Bake cookies, turning your sheets around half way. They're done when they have golden edges - about 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on the sheets and then remove. They don't KEEP well, so just eat them. (but if you have to, you can keep them in airtight containers for up to 3 days.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cubana Sandwich

This is from Sheila Lukins' All Around The World Cookbook, which was a HUGE favorite of mine when I was in my early 20s. My copy has lost its cover, its spine is broken and many pages are falling out and stained, which is always the sign of a much-loved cookbook.
But the truth is that I haven't cooked out of it for probably a decade and it's hard to say WHY. Looking through it, the recipes are still fresh and interesting and I can see lots of things that I cooked back in 1995 and loved. There's the problem, I guess - the food is too much the food of THAT period in time, when I was so unhappy.

Still a good cookbook, and when my son wanted a grilled Cuban sandwich for lunch, I knew just where to find one.

1 teaspoon orange juice (the recipe calls for "fresh" orange juice, which makes my eyes roll RIGHT into the back of my head.)
1 teaspoon vinegar (again, the recipe calls for red wine vinegar. Use it if you have it - I never do.)
1 teaspoon olive oil
Mix the ingredients together and lightly brush on the inside on two slices of a soft baguette.

For the sandwich:
1 thin slice of Monterey Jack Cheese
thin slices of sweet gherkins
2 thin slices of baked ham
2 or 3 thin slices roast pork
Dijon mustard.

And you know how to make a sandwich, right? Either grill in a frying pan with a heavy lid squishing the sandwich flat, or use a sandwich press. It's a spiffy sandwich.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Cornmeal-crusted pizza

This is what I'm making for supper tonight!

(from the original Moosewood Cookbook)
Butter a 9 inch pie pan
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 cup cold water
1 cup boiling water
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup grated parmesan

Place the cornmeal in a small bowl and add cold water. Stir until well mixed. Add cornmeal mixture to a pot with one cup full of boiling water. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until thick. This should take about five minutes.
Remove from heat, and add the salt and parmesan. Form a crust in the buttered pan (make sure your hands are wet) and bake uncovered at 375 for 30 minutes.

Saute a large clove of crushed garlic, a cup of minced onion and 1/2 diced green or red pepper in olive oil. You can also throw in a few sliced mushrooms if they don't make your kids throw up.
Add 1/2 tsp. oregano, 1/2 tsp basil, salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables on top of the cooked crust and arrange slices of tomato and mozzarella on top. Sprinkle on some parmesan and bake for 20 more minutes at 350.

Some Recipe Links

Surprise Cookies - these are a fudgy cookie bottom covered by a marshmallow and a layer of gooey chocolate frosting and they're just over-the-top good.

Mint Chocolate Brownies. These are SO on my Christmas to-make list! (and they're easy....)

Fresh Ginger Cake - flat out the best thing in the world. Apparently, I like ginger A LOT. Make this cake IMMIDIATELY while it's still autumnal and seasonal.

Chicken Marbella

I got the revised edition of the Silver Palate Cookbook for my birthday and while some of the recipes have me chortling - so very fancy!, SOME of them have me drooling. Like this one, which I made last night and which made the kitchen smell just CRAZY delicious. A friend dropped by while the chicken was baking and asked, wide-eyed, what smelled SO wonderful?

This is a big recipe, by the way - it makes 10 portions. I only made half that.
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted Spanish olives
1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice
6 bay leaves
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup dried oregano
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 chickens (2 1/2 pounds each), quartered. (okay - I just used a family-sized package of chicken pieces.)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley (or, the recipes says, cilantro. But I do NOT think so.)

Combine the oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, garlic, oregano and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover the bowl and refrigereate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Arrange the chicken in a single layer on a shallow baking pan and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle the chicken with the brown sugar and pour the white whine around them.
Bake, basting frequently with the pan juices until the thigh pieces yield clear yellow juice when pricked. This should take 50 minutes to an hour.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of the pan juices and sprinkle generously with the parsley (NOT CILANTRO!). Pass the remaining pan juices "in a sauceboat", the recipe says, should you have one.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Banana Oatmeal Cookies

for Jaymi

3/4 cup butter, margerine or shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups flour (I use 1/2 whole wheat, half white or a combination of gluten-free flours)
1/2 tsp. soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup mashed banana
1 3/4 cups oatmeal, uncooked (this means regular or quick cooking oats, not the instant kind)

Cream butter with sugar and then add the egg and mix well.
Mix flour, cinnamon and nutmeg together and add to creamed mixture and blend till smooth. Add mashed banana and oatmeal next. Blend. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased sheet and bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes.

(You could also throw in some raisins, if you like.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Johnny Cake

From the old Red Rose Flour cookbook, that Canadian classic.

1 cup cornmeal
½ cup milk
1 ¼ cups flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk.
Combine cornmeal and ½ cup milk. Set aside. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Cream butter and sugar. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with the blended egg and milk. Turn into greased 8 inch square pan. Bake in preheated 350 oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool 5 minutes than remove from pan.

Tuna-Noodle Casserole

This is a dandy budget stretcher and a great recipe for a kid to make, so long as you chop up the brocolli, cook the pasta, open all those cans and handle all of the oven parts first. Oh, what a relaxing evening you will have, with your handy child cooking supper for you like that.
½ lb. Small pasta shells
1 small bunch broccoli, chopped
2 cans water-packed tuna, drained
1 can condensed cream of broccoli soup
1 cup 2% milk
1 ½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese
¾ cup chrushed corn flakes (I use smashed up potato chips, which are AWESOME.)
2 T. grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish. Cook pasta, adding broccoli for the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain and place in the baking dish. IN same saucepan, blend together the tuna, soup, milk, cheese, and pepper; pour over pasta and gently combine. Sprinkle with cornflakes (I’d prefer chips..) and parmesan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbling.Makes 6 servings.

Hot Tuna Buns

Or "Barf On Buns", as they are called within my extended family. They are delicious, despite their name, and a really nice light supper or Sunday lunch. Also, "Barf on Buns." Heh.

4 oz. Cheddar cheese
1 can tuna, drained and flaked
3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1/3 cup mayo
3 tbl sweet pickle relish
2 tbl finely chopped onions
¼ tsp salt
6 hot dog buns, split
In a medium bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Spread about 1/3 cup on bottoms of buns, replace tops. Wrap in foil. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.Makes six servings.

Really, really good spaghetti and meatballs

This is REALLY yummy. I sent the recipe to a friend once and she balked a bit because of the fennel and it's black licorice-y taste. You don't really TASTE the fennel, and you could leave it out if you hate it, but I REALLY recommend trying this recipe at least once with it - it's really good.

2 tbsp extra virgin olive-oil
2 onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
½ cup ricotta
2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 ¼ tsp salt
¾ tsp pepper
¼ tsp each cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg
1 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
¼ cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
8 oz lean ground beef
8 oz lean ground pork
½ cup dry red wine or white wine or chicken stock
1 can diced tomatoes
1 ½ cups crushed canned tomatoes
½ cups coarsely chopped fresh basil
¼ tsp sugar
1 ½ lbs spaghetti

In large nonstick skillet, heat half of the oil over medium heat; fry onions and garlic, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden – 10-12 minutes. Scrape into bowl. In bowl, whisk together egg, ricotta, fennel, ¾ tsp of the salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Stir in bread crumbs, parsley, romano cheese and half of the onion mixture. Add beef and pork; combine. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Wetting hands if necessary, form met mixture by rounded tablespoonful into balls. Add remaining oil to pan. Brown meatballs over medium-high heat, in 2 batches, with slotted spoon, transfer to plate. Pour off fat. Add wine to pan; bring to boil, stirring and scraping up brown bits. Transfer to Dutch oven. Stir in remaining onion mixture, diced and crushed tomatoes, half of the basil, the sugar and remaining salt. Add meatballs. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes. Top with pasta with sauce, garnish with remaining basil. Makes 6 servings.

Enchilada Stuffed Shells

This is very, very good.

15 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 can enchilada sauce
½ tsp dried minced onion
¼ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp ground cumin
½ cup fat-free refried beans
1 cup shredded Cheddar

Cook pasta; drain. In a nonstick skillet, cook turkey over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in enchilada sauce and seasonings; set aside. Place a rounded teaspoonful of refried beans in each pasta shell; then fill with turkey mixture. Place in an 11x7 inch baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cover and bake 350 for 25 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Makes 5 servings.

Black Bean Burritos

Another family favorite! This is really fast and easy, the kids love it and it's vegetarian, so it's a good candidate for those nights when you want to plan a meatless supper (or if you're a vegetarian all the time, hey.).

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, mined
half medium red onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
3 carrots, shredded
½ cup chopped broccoli
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
¼ cup water
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
8 soft tortillas, medium

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion and peppers; saute for about 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in beans, carrots, broccoli, chili powder, cumin, vinegar, water and brown sugar. Increase heat to high and cook for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Place ½ cup bean mixture into middle of tortilla and fold all sides over to enclose. Serves 4.

Beef And Bean Burrito Bake

This is a great and easy supper dish that is SUPER high in iron - always a good thing around here - and the kids like it.

1 tsp vegetable oil
12 oz lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 sweet green pepper, chopped
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp each ground cumin and dried oregano
¼ tsp pepper
1 can pinto or red kidney beans
1 cup salsa
8 8-inch flour tortillas
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar

In nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; cook beef, breaking up with spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain off fat. Add onion, garlic, green pepper, paprika, cumin, oregano, and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse beans; mash half and stir into skillet along with remaining whole beans and salsa. Bring to boil; remove from heat. Spoon about ¾ cup of the beef mixture over bottom two-thirds of each tortilla; roll up. Place in lightly greased 13x9 inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover with foil and bake in 400 degree oven until steaming, about 20 minutes. Makes 4 servings. 49% iron, 60% Vit c, 37% folate.

Our Favorite Meat Loaf

This is SO yummy. It's also AMAZING in sandwiches the next day. I think it originally came from Family Fun Magazine, which always has GREAT recipes.

1 ½ lbs lean ground beef
½ lb sweet pork sausage, casings removed
1 cup Cheddar, cut into cubes
2 large eggs
1 medium size onion, finely chopped
½ green pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp celery salt
½ tsp paprika
1 cup milk
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
Heat the oven to 350. Line a large baking pan with oiled aluminum foil and set it aside. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, blend everything together until it is evenly mixed. Transfer the meat to the lined baking pan and form it into a long fat loaf, about 10 by 5 inches. Bake the loaf for 60-70 minutes, until the center is cooked. (internal temperature of 160). Serve hot, warm or cold. Makes 8 servings.

Muriel's Peanut Butter Fudge

Mad sent me this recipe and it sounds GOOD. I've never made peanut butter fudge before so now I have something new to look forward to for Christmas.
Mix in a saucepan:
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup Carnation Evaporated Milk
1/4 cup butter
Boil together until it's at the crackling point (roughtly five minutes.). If you have never made candy before, I am too faint-hearted to instruct you in how, but it IS doable. But tricky - as Mad warned in her email: "It's all about seeing and hearing the right moment. If you take the pot off the stove too soon you have runny fudge. If you leave it a minute too late, your fudge is too hard to work with."
Let cool for a minute and then beat with an electric mixer.
After about a minute, stir in 3/4 cup peanut butter and a tsp. of vanilla. Spread into a greased 8" pan. Let it cool and then cut into squares.
(Mad also added that you could add walnuts or coconut. Well, you could. Stir them in at the same time as the peanut butter and vanilla, if you must.

Gluten Free Brownies

Okay, so this is more desserty type things. No wonder I'm fat.
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup potato flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and chocolate squares over low heat. Stir in sugar, remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Stir together potato flour, baking powder, salt and 1/2 cup of nuts, if you're the kind of person who likes putting loathesome nuts in innocent baked goods. Add to the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Mix well.
Pour into a greased 8" square baking pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, if desired. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Cool, then chill. Cut into squares and store in the fridge. Makes 2 dozen brownies, if you cut 'em small.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Carnation Five Minute Fudge

2/3 cup undiluted Carnation Evaporated Milk
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups diced marshmallows
1/2 cup diced nuts
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Put Carnation, sugar and salt in large saucepan and put on stove. Turn burner to low. Heat to boiling; stir often.
2. Cook five minutes, stirring all the time so that milk and sugar do not scorch.
3. Remove saucepan from heat. Add marshmallows, chopped nuts, chocolate and vanilla.
4. Stir fudge with a wooden spoon until marshmallows and chocolate are melted. (About one minute.)
5. Pour fudge into a buttered 8" square pan. When the fudge is cool, cut into squares.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Colourful Mixed Salad

All right! This salad is good because... it is colourful! And mixed! It's a nice "company" salad that doesn't take too much time - and it's also good for a nice Sunday night supper kind of thing, too.
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup cider or white wine vinegar
4 tsp sugar
6 cups torn mixed salad greens
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 radishes, thinly sliced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup sunflower kernels
3/4 cup crumbled feta or blue cheese
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the orange juice, vinegar, oil and sugar; shake well. Cover, refrigerate for 1 hour. Just before serving, combine remaining ingredients in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with dressing; toss gently. Makes 6 servings.

Cockeyed Cake

This is the easiest cake in the world. Really. And it's vegan, should you care about that. And a responsible child can do the whole thing on her own (or his, whatever), so long as you handle the oven bits. It's also tasty. You CAN frost it - it's certainly nice frosted - although I'm prone to just devouring the whole thing hot straight from the oven.

Get out your square 9" cake pan. Don't grease it.
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cold water (or cold coffee, if you want a mocha cake)
Mix your flour, soda, sugar, cocoa and salt right in the pan. Make three little wells in the mixture. Into one, pour the oil; into the next, the vinegar; into the next, the vanilla. Now pour the cold water over it all and stir it together - you'll see greyish swoops as the soda and vinegar react! Bake it at 350 for half an hour.

Really good brownies

This is a very good recipe for brownies AND it doesn't call for baking chocolate which I'm nearly almost always out of. I also LOVE cake recipes where you pour the icing on the hot cake, which always looks shiny and glossy and much more satisfactory than my usual terrifying icing jobs.

1 cup butter (seriously, butter. Brownies are dependent on the butter-chocolate combo for their taste.)
2 cups sugar
4 heaping Tbsp. cocoa
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
1 cup walnuts, chopped (I leave these out)
1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups icing sugar
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. cocoa
2 Tbsp. boiling water
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
Cream butter, sugar, and cocoa into a large bowl. Add beaten eggs and vanilla. Then add flour and fold in walnuts. Spread batter in the greased baking pan and bake for 30 minutes.
The top will appear to be underdone (falls in the middle), but don't overcook. These brownies should be moist and chewy.
While the brownies are baking, mix all the icing ingredients together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer. Ice the brownies immediately after removing from the oven so the icing will melt in a shiny glaze.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

This is the best cake recipe in the world, probably. My mom used to bring this to potlucks all the time (remember potlucks? Does anyone still have those?) and people would just devour it and then beg for the recipe and then THEY WOULD BRING IT TO THE POTLUCK NEXT WEEK. Isn't that CHEATING?
Anyhow. There IS zucchini in this, but it magically becomes deeelicious!

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
2 cups grated zucchini
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate and added more than that, since I like chocolate, and like the contrast between the dark chocolate of the cake and the sweet milk chocolate. But you can use whatever you like.)

Cream together butter, oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk. Sift dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Mix in zucchini and chocolate chips. Bake in a greased and floured bundt pan or a 9-by-13 greased pan at 325 for 45 minutes.

Crazy Easy Biscuits

Self-rising flour is an excellent thing to have on hand and these are dandy little biscuits, just the thing to make a rather spartan soup supper feel more soulful and satisfactory.

2 cups self-rising flour
4 tbl butter, veg shortening, or lard
2/3 to 3/4 cup milk

Put oven rack in middle of oven and preheat to 500 degrees.

Place the flour in a mixing bowl and using your fingertips, rub the fat in quickly, leaving the mixture cool and powdery. Add a minimum amount of milk and stir in briskly with a fork. If dry particles of flour remain visible in the dough, gradually stir in the remaining milk.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and fold the dough over on itself several times. Pat the dough to a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a floured cutter. Press any scraps together; repeat.
Bake the biscuits for 10-12 minutes until well-risen and golden brown. Eat IMMIDATELY.

Brown Sugar Christmas Cookies

This is a nice recipe for VERY Christmasy cookies, and they're also simple - a good cookie for people who don't normally make cookies.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening (I know - nasty. But cookies hold their shape much better when part of the fat is shortening. Use Crisco vegetable shortening.)
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup red, green and white Christmas M&Ms (or Christmas Smarties, if you want to avoid nut products. M&Ms bake better.)
(1 cup chopped pecans. Add them if you like - I always skip nuts because I hate them.)

Preheat your oven to 375.
In a large mixing bowl beat butter and shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with mixer. Stir in any remaining flour, the chocolate bits and the pecans with the wooden spoon.

Drop dough by teaspoons 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookies sheet. If desired, you can flatten them slightly with fingers. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack (or you can do like my mom and transfer them to a clean dish towel on the kitchen table, which is easier and they don't fall through) and let cool. This recipe makes 60 cookies. I've never tried doubling it, but it shouldn't be a problem. Store them in an airtight container, with the layers separated by waxed paper.

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

I'm going to be honest - I don't remember ever making this cake. But apparently I did last year and brought it to something and then EVERY PERSON THERE emailed me for the recipe. You were really good, apparently, forgotten cake!

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
2 sticks butter, cut up (that's a cup.)
1 cup water
1/3 cup cocoa
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

8 tbl butter, cup up
1/3 cup plus 1 tbl milk
1/4 cup cocoa
abt 4 1/2 cups confectioner sugar
1 tsp vanilla

To make the cake, preheat oven to 350.
Butter and flour a 13x9 inch baking pan.
Combine the flour, sugar, soda and salt.
In a medium saucepan, bring the butter, water and cocoa to boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the butter. Pour into the flour mixture and whisk well. Add the sour cream, then the eggs and vanilla and beat well. Spread evenly in the pan.
Bake until the cake springs back when pressed in the center, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. Bring the butter, milk, and cocoa to boil in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the butter. Gradually stir in the confectioner's sugar, then the vanilla. Pour over the warm cake. Cool the cake in the pan on the rack. Cut into pieces and serve directly from the pan.

Ginger Cake

A cheap and good gingerbread recipe. I do LOVE gingerbread - it's cheap (did I mention that?) and feels soul-healing on hard days and is the perfect thing to come home to after a cold winter's day.

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
dash ground cloves
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup molasses
1 egg
1 cup boiling water

Combine flour, soda, salt and spices. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter; beat in the molasses and egg. Stir in the dry ingredients alternately with water; mix well. Pour into a greased 9" square baking pan. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.
Cool completely. Leftovers will keep several days in an airtight container. Makes 9 servings.

Dutch Breakfast Cake

A traditional Dutch breakfast bread. Do NOT serve this to Great-Grandma. She DOES not like it. "This is why I was happy to move away from Holland!" she said.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted

Sift together all the dry ingredients. Add buttermilk and beaten eggs to the melted butter and mix well. Add buttermilk to the dry ingredients and mix to a sticky dough. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in a 350 oven, in a buttered 9 inch square pan.

Rosemary Chicken with White Beans

This is a nice slow cooker recipe and everyone liked it, which pretty much NEVER happens.

6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cans great northern or white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup sliced fresh carrots
½ cup sliced celery
2/3 cup Italian salad dressing
2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

In a skillet, brown chicken in oil in batches on both sides. Place the beans, carrots and celery in slow cooker; top with chicken.Combine the salad dressing, rosemary, salt and pepper; pour over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours or until the chicken juices run clear.
Makes 6 servings.`

Easy Cabbage Roll Casserole

Important note: my husband hates this. I love it, though, so I make it a couple of times a winter.

1 ½ lbs lean ground beef or turkey
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can condensed tomato soup
½ cup long grain rice
4 cups shredded cabbage
1/3 cup tomato juice or water
sour cream

Lightly grease the inside of the slowcooker’s stoneware insert.
In a large skillet, combine ground beef, onions, garlic and pepper; cook, breaking up meat with a spoon until browned. Drain off any excess fat. Return to heat and add tomatoes, water and half the can of tomato soup, mixing well. Add rice, stirring to combine.
Into prepared slow cooker, place half of meat mixture, then half of cabbage. Top with remaining meat mixture and remaining cabbage.
In a bowl, combine remaining tomato soup with tomato juice and mix well. Pour into slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours or on HIGH for 4 to 6 hours, until bubbling and heated through.
Serve with sour cream.(the recipe suggests mashed potatoes and peas as ideal accompaniments, and I’ve never seen any reason to disagree.)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Chocolate Surprise Cake

Surprise! There are beets hidden in this cake! And you will actually like it! It's a very surprising cake. It does have an odd but pleasant aftertaste and a HUGE amount of your daily iron, but no one would ever suspect it of containing beets.

1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 can (19 oz) beets, drained and pureed
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup vegetable oil
¼ butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. In a bowl with an electric mixer, combine beets, granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, butter, eggs and vanilla. Beat slowly until blended, then on high for 1 to 2 minutes or until thoroughly mixed. Gradually blend in flour-cocoa mixture.Transfer batter to prepared baking pan and bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before serving.

Hot Artichoke Dip

This is the best food in the world. Unfortunately, it is also the most fattening. Still, it is a worthy sacrifice.

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup half and half cream
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon pimento pepper, chopped
1 (6 1/2 oz.) jar marinated artichoke hearts
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilis
Tortilla chips
Drain jar of artichoke hearts. Chop coarsely.
Combine Parmesan cheese, cream, and mayonnaise in a medium mixing bowl. Add peppers, artichoke hearts and green chilis. Serve with tortilla chips.

Gingerbread Pancakes

This is for those fall weekends when you want to make something special but don't want to actually go to much trouble - so pretty much any weekend, at our house.

1 cup plus 2 tbsp flour
1/3 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ginger
1/2 teaspoon each: nutmeg, cinnamon and ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil plus more for the pan
1 1/2 tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Sift the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and soda, spices and salt into a large bowl. Set it aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy.

Then whisk in the sour cream, milk, oil, molasses and vanilla extract. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid, whisking the batter until just smooth. Set it aside for 5 minutes.
Heat a large, heavy skillet, then coat the surface with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Lade the batter (1/3 cup per pancake) into the pan and cook for about 2 minutes or until golden, on the first side. Flip the pancake and cook until golden on the other side, about 1 1/2 minutes.
Serve immediately with soft butter, warm maple syrup and applesauce.

Sweet Potato Soup

I make this about 3 times a month - it's very standard lunch fare at the Beck house.

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
6 cups chicken stock
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp black pepper

In a large saucepan, warm oil over medium-heat. Add onions and saute for 2 to 3 minutes or until onions are soft and translucent. Add chicken stock, sweet potatoes, nutmeg and pepper.
Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Remove soup from heat and, in batches, puree soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return soup to saucepan and heat to serving temperature.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Honey Tangerine Pudding

I invented this recipe! I am a genius!
This is one of those excellent little cake-puddings, where there is a layer of sponge-y cake and a layer of creamy sauce and it tastes just like Christmas. It's REALLY good.

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp potato flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp grated Honey Tangerine Rind
1/4 cup Honey Tangerine Juice
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 eggs, separated
1 cup milk

Combine sugar, potato flour and salt. Stir in tangerine rind, tangerine juice and vegetable oil.
In a separate bowl, beat egg yolk and add milk. Add to tangerine mixture and mix well.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into the tangerine mixture. Pour into 1 quart baking dish.
Place baking dish in a larger pan containing 1 inch hot water.
Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until cake is tender. Two layers will form - cake and pudding. Serve warm or cooled.Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Gluten Free Gingerbread Men

These were VERY satisfying and had a lovely flavour AND texture - a hard combo to find in gluten-free baking. They weren't as sturdy as regular gingerbread men so you can't hang them on your Christmas tree, but they made The Baby VERY happy.

(adapted from this recipe.)
3/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup potato flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix all the dry ingredients (except for the brown sugar) together into a large bowl. Put the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup in a small pan and melt over medium heat. Add to the dry ingredients and stir thouroughly.

Place the dough onto a surface dusted lightly with rice flour and roll it out to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut out 6 gingerbread men and decorate with raisins (if you want) then place on a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Makes 6 cookies

Slow-Cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and Black Beans

We did this earlier this week and it was REALLY good - and completely simple, a nice combination.

(adapted from Everyday Food November 2007)
1 can black beans, drained
1 jar mild or medium salsa
2 tablespoons chopped canned chipolte chiles in adobo sauce
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8)
salt and pepper
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped

In the slow cooker, stir together beans, salsa, chiles and 1 cup of water. Season chicken with salt and pepper; arrange on top of bean mixture. Toss the onion and pepper on top of the chicken.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Do not open or stir.
Remove chicken from stew and shred into large pieces and return to stew. Serve topped with sour cream and cilantro, if desired.

Gypsy Soup ala Me

I came up with this one day when my fridge was out of everything the Moosewood recipe called for. I actually went back a while later and did the real recipe and didn't like it as much...

- cook 2 cups chopped onions, 2 cloves minced garlic and 2 cups sweet potatoes (ALSO: I FORGOT: one chopped red pepper!) in vegetable oil for five minutes or so.
Add 2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp basil, 1 tsp salt, a dash of cinnamon, a dash of cayenne, one bay leaf and 3 cups chicken stock (the recipe calls for water, vegetarian readers!).

Throw in a couple of handfulls of red lentils (unless your hands are the size of baseball gloves, in which case you might only want to throw in one handful. But they're probably not.) Simmer for half an hour or so, stirring occasionally. When your lentils are cooked and your sweet potatoes are mushy, voila, you have lunch!
(adapted from a Moosewood Recipe)

The Best Raspberry Yogurt Muffins in The World

I used to go to a coffee shop every day when The Girl was a baby and I would get one of these muffins. They were SO good.
Then we moved and I missed my delicious muffins, until one day I magically figured out the recipe and lived happily ever after.

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup raspberry yogurt (which I make by mixing raspberry jam and yogurt together, but whatever)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Rasberry jam
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
In another bowl, whisk the egg, yogurt, vanilla and butter; stir into the dry ingredients.
Fill each muffin tin with a tablespoon or two of batter - then put 1/2 tablespoon of jam in each cup; cover with batter. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.Yum.

Zesty Salsa

This is just improbably delicious, really.

2 large tomatoes, diced
6 green onions, chopped
1 cup finely shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chillies
1 can (2 ¼ ounces) sliced ripe olives, diced
¼ cup prepared zesty Italian salad dressing

In a bowl, combine the first six ingredients; mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve with tortilla chips. Makes 4 cups.

S'more Drops

This is the ideal food if you're 8 and your BFF is sleeping over and you want to cook something fun.

4 cups Golden Grahams
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon butter and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
(I'm counting these as one ingredient, mainly because I'm a cheater.)

In a large bowl, combine cereal and marshmallows; set aside. Place the chocolate chips, corn syrup and butter in a 1-qt. microwave-safe dish. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 1-2 minutes or until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. (okay, I'm just writing down the recipe straight from the book, but in all honesty I don't even OWN a microwave - I just put the chocolate, corn syrup and butter in a pot and melt it over low heat on the stove.)
Stir in vanilla. Pour over cereal mixture and mix well. Drop by tablespoons onto waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Cool. Makes 2 1/2 dozen.

Little Kid Fruit Salad

Set out:
- a bowl of canned pineapple chunks with the juice (and/or canned peaches or pears)
- a banana (peeled, unless your little kid can do that)
- a butter knife and a cutting board
- a small bowl of mini marshmallows

Your little kid carefully slices the banana, and dumps that and the pineapple and juice into a plastic bowl and then adds the marshmallows. This is best served immidiately, and I'm not actually claiming that it's something that adults want to eat but your kid will be SO proud.

Orange-Carrot Salad

(from the I Hate To Cook Book, of course.)
6 small servings
Prepare one package of orange jello, using one and a half cups of liquid.
Pare and shred a large carrot. When the jello is semi-firm, avert your eyes and stir in the carrot shreds - also a small can of (drained!) pineapple chunks, if you have some. Let it jell the rest of the way in the refrigerator.
And yes, your small child will likely eat this - the orange of the jello masks the carrots a bit.

Boston Cream Pie

yes, it's a long recipe, but it's not a hard one AND you do it in three steps that can be HOURS apart - one very simple little cake, the ever-so-slightly fussy pastry cream and the final filling of the cake and making the chocolate glaze. Easy!
The recipe that I use is really, really long, so I won't post it, but Boston Cream Pie is an eggy yellow cake (one layer) that's split down the middle and filled with vanilla custard. You then cover the whole deal in chocolate glaze. It's VERY good and is really helping with the whole fat problem I've been having.

Okay, here's the recipe, which comes from my beloved copy of Richard Sax's Classic Home Desserts:
I make the base from a single layer of hot water spongecake. I LOVE single-layer recipes for cakes - it makes a nice amount of cake for Sunday night supper (sprinkled with icing sugar and served with berries, perhaps), and this recipe is nicely frugal (it's made from nearly nothing) and easy.
Preheat your oven to 350. Grease the bottom of a round 9" cake pan.
Sift together:
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt, or even slightly less.
And set them aside for now.
In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat:
2 eggs
until they're light.
Add 1 cup sugar
Beat until light, fluffy and lemony yellow.
Beat in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Pour VERY GENTLY
1/3 cup of boiling water
down the side of the bowl and fold in gently, deflating the batter as little as possible. Quickly but gently pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. "Swirl the pan to smooth the top without deflating the batter" my recipe says, and good luck with that.
Bake until the top is golden and springs back lightly when touched, about 30-35 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. COOL THE CAKE COMPLETELY on the wire rack before doing anything with it, because it will fall apart if it's still warm.
It's an easy little cake, honest.

Okay, so onto the vanilla pastry cream.
Get a heavy saucepan and rinse it with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat:
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together:
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 large egg yolks
and mix for 1 1/2 minutes or until everything is pale and light and the cornstarch isn't lumpy.
Remove the saucepan from theat heat and whisk some of the hot milk into the egg mixture. (you're doing that so you don't end up with scrambled eggs in milk) Scrape the warmed egg yolk mixture into the saucepan and return to medium heat. Bring to a boil, whisking CONSTANTLY. Boil for one minute and do NOT STOP WHISKING. This sounds really dire, but I find it meditative and almost zen-like, really. It's going to thicken astoundingly at the end of that minute, and you're going to remove it from the heat and whisk in
2 teaspoons cold unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pour the pastry cream into a clean bowl (and my recipe says to strain it, but for the record I have never done that and it's been fine). Press some waxed paper directly on the top to keep a skin from forming and cool it in the fridge for two hours.
You're done the hard part!

So. Now you have a cool cake and cool pastry cream. Carefully brush off the excess crumbs from your cake, and split it in half with a serrated knife. (horizontally. Do I need to say that?) Place the bottom layer of your cake on your loveliest cake plate and spread the pastry cream evenly over the cake, reaching nearly to the edges. Replace the top cake layer and press gently into place.

All you have to do now is to make a chocolate glaze and chocolate glazes are the easiest things in the world. Melt together over low heat:
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
(and my recipe also calls for 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup but I ALWAYS skip that. You can add it if you like.)
Remove from the heat and set aside to cool and thicken until you can spread it. Or you can do what I do and pour it over the cake right away and eat it while it's molten. Either way, let the glaze set for 10 minutes or so on your cake, and save any leftovers in the fridge.

My Friend E's Cookies

These are the best cookies in the world.

Cream 3/4 cup butter with 3/4 cup white sugar and 3/4 cup of brown sugar
Add 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla
Blend this all well and then put together:1 1/4 cup flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp salt

Mix that all in and then add 3 cups of quick-cook oats, 1 cup of raisins (presoaked in warm water for 20 minutes and drained), 1 cup of chocolate chips or butterscotch chips, or heck, a little of both

Bake 8 to 10 minutes at 375 F
They're good. Quick-cook oatmeal is NOT the same thing as instant oatmeal, but I'm certain that you already know that.

A really good recipe for steel-cut oats

Here's how to cook steel-cut oatmeal:
3 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon butter
a pinch of salt
1 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup steel cup Irish oatmeal
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Bring the water, butter and salt to a rolling boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, whisk together the cream, maple syrup, and brown sugar in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is smooth. Set aside.

Add the oats gradually to the boiling water. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for 1/2 hour, stirring frequently. After the first 20 minutes, stir in the cranberries, sugar and spices.

Serve the oatmeal immediately with the sweetened cream.Makes 3 to 4 servings.(Recipe from the immensely useful "One Bite Won't Kill You" by Ann Hodgman")

Gingerbread Hearts

You do NEED a good gingerbread cookie recipe, right?

In a large mixing bowl, beat together:
3/4 cup butter, softened with an electric mixer for 30 seconds.
Add:3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger (or 2 tablespoons fresh, if you have it)
1 1/2 teaspoons finely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.
Beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl once in a while.
Beat in: 1 eggand 1/3 cup molasses (that's where the iron comes from).
Beat in as much of 2 3/4 cups flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour with a wooden spoon. Divide dough in half, cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours.

Grease a large cookie sheet OR line with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll half the dough at a time until it's 1/4 inch thick. Flour your cookie cutters and cut our dough.
Bake in a 350 oven for 10 minutes or until the cookies look dry. Transfer to a wire rack (or a clean tea towel on your table, whatever) and let them cool down before stuffing them into your mouth.

My Butter Tart Recipe!

That I mentioned in my Kitchen Party post. (go read it! Leave me a comment!)
Preheat the oven to 375.

Prepare pie pastry for a two-crust pie and roll it out on a floured surface.
Using a big round cookie cutter (or a big round cup), cut out 12 circles and line 12 medium-sized muffin cups with them. Do NOT prick.

Pour boiling water over 1/2 cup raisins and let them sit around until they're fat. Drain. And yes, you can skip the raisins if you hate them, although the tarts ARE good with raisins, really. Arrange your drained raisins in the tart shells.

Mix together:1/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
Stir in 1 cup corn syrup, 2 eggs, slightly beaten, 1/4 tsp salt and 1 tsp vanilla.
Combine just until blended. Spoon into unbaked tart shells, filling each until about 2/3 full.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes. DO NOT allow filling to bubble over. And let them cool down before taking them out of the tin, too, as I found out last night to my dismay. Eat while singing O Canada.