Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sweet Country Cornbread

Does she not look woebegone? We are preparing to move at the time this photograph was taken. Of course, once moved she was
"happy baby", again!

To commemorate my first move to the South, Sweet Country Cornbread. Cornbread was often eaten with spring vegetables, fresh from the garden, for a simple meal.

Sweet Country Cornbread
Makes 16 servings

1 cup flour, sifted
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup yellow cornmeal (I used stone ground)
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter

Preheat over to 425ºF. Sift flour with sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir sifted ingredients with cornmeal. Combine the eggs, milk, and butter and beat with an electric mixer just until smooth. Pour into a buttered 9" x 9" x 2" pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta

For a time we lived in a lovely duplex on the lake. Our daughter was in college and much to my delight she came home every summer. She had two jobs and was working nearly eighty hours a week - not to count the hours (almost all of the rest) she spent with her friends. But some Friday evenings she ate dinner with us. It was a very informal meal we made together while talking; poached shrimp and fresh bruschetta. We ate, sitting on the living room rug, while the sun set over the lake shining through the wide white slats of our wood blinds. It was a beautiful time.

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta

4 garden ripe tomatoes, very finely diced
1/4 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
8 (1/4 to 1/2-inch thick) slices French or Italian bread
2 cloves garlic, halved

Combine all, except bread and garlic cloves. Grill or toast bread slices and rub one side with garlic. Cover each with tomato mixture. Eat while bread is warm! 

Delaware Crab Casserole

My daughter has a daughter now and I thought she might enjoy some pictures from her childhood. We recently bought a scanner and we are using it and our
"infant" photo editing skills to digitally store our photographs.

We moved to Delaware when my daughter was six weeks old and left when she was six months old - a very brief sojourn on the East Atlantic coast. I grew up in the cornfields of the Midwest, in a town filled with Italianate and Neo-gothic style homes and buildings, split by a mighty river and surrounded by caves and bluffs carved out by great glaciers. The East coast with its Federalist and Cape Cod style homes and sense of history and refinement was a change.  A fishmonger stopped in front of our house with fresh fish daily. We lived thirty minutes from the ocean and one hour from our nation's capitol; we alternated weekends between the two. Fortunately, with one young baby it was easy to live so freely. We frolicked in the ocean and ate crab on those "ocean" weekends. This recipe is from my mother-in-law; she was an excellent cook. I am sorry to say that I only made it once. I had no idea my stay would be so brief and fresh fish daily was not something available inland at that time. I have wonderful memories of eating every sort of crab dish at well-known tourist attractions to small family owned restaurants. Fresh crab meat is a must for this recipe. Substitute and add seasonings as desired, however fresh crab meat, nearly unadorned, is delicious.

Delaware Crab Casserole
Serves 6

1 pound fresh crab meat (all shell and cartilage removed)
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 tablespoons green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 egg yolk, beaten
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

Saute celery and green pepper in butter until tender. Blend in flour. Add milk gradually and cook until thick, stirring continuously. Stir a small amount of this hot mixture into the egg yolk. Add the warmed egg yolk mixture to the sauce, stirring constantly. Add lemon juice, seasonings and crab meat. Place the crab meat mixture into a lightly buttered casserole dish. Combine the 1 tablespoon melted butter and bread crumbs; sprinkle over the casserole. Bake at 350º F. for 20 to 25 minutes, until brown.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Chocolate Gateau

Another good chocolate cake.

We are a bit worried about the health of our new daisies. Gale force winds blew just two days after we planted them; the wind was relentless. We planted blue balloon flowers, a cottage garden standard, among them and think we may buy more balloon flowers since they withstood the winds so well.

Following is a recipe for another very good chocolate cake. This cake is pretty, it is delicious, and it is easy to make. It is a great cake where looks count and time is short. I could easily prepare this cake the same day I was entertaining guests.

Chocolate Gateau
Serves 12

For the cake:
3 eggs
3/4 cup whole almonds, blanched
5 (1-ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
2/3 cups butter
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the icing and decoration:
5 (1-ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
3 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Separate the eggs and place the whites in a small mixer bowl; reserve the yolks in a separate bowl. Lightly grease a 9" x 2" cake pan and place wax paper on the bottom. Grind the whole almonds in a blender until fine; set aside.

Melt the 5 squares of semi-sweet chocolate over hot (not boiling) water. In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter, then gradually beat in the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time. When finished, mixture should be light and fluffy.

Beat the reserved egg yolks into the creamed butter until very light. Add the melted chocolate, and continue beating until well combined. At a lower speed, beat in the flour and 1/4 cup milk, alternating between the flour and milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir in 1/2 cup of ground almonds and vanilla extract.

Beat the egg whites with the 1/2 teaspoon salt at a high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the mixture into the cake batter until just combined. Spread evenly in pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cake cool in the cake pan on a rack for 10 minutes. With a spatula, loosen the edge of the cake from the pan and turn the cake onto the rack and continue to cool.

For the icing, melt the semisweet chocolate with the milk and butter in the top of a double boiler. Stir until melted and smooth; remove from heat. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Frost the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/2 cup ground almonds. Decorate edge with overlapping almond slices. Place on a cake plate.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Western boots for sale at a sidewalk sale. I am always amused by the vanity of the rugged, Western man. It is touching.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake is one of my favorite recipes. I used zucchini that I picked from my own garden when I first started making this cake. The recipe was from a friend; I may have changed it a bit over the years.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup oil
1-3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2-1/2 cups flour
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 cups finely diced fresh zucchini (I leave the skin on, if home grown)
1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325º F. Combine lemon juice and milk. Cream the butter, oil, and sugar. Add the eggs, vanilla, and soured milk; beat until thoroughly combined. Combine the dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture. Beat well. Stir in the diced zucchini. Spoon the batter into a greased and floured 9" x 13" x 2" cake pan. Sprinkle the top with the chocolate chips. Bake at 325º F. for 40 to 45 minutes, or until done. Cool before eating.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Perfect Chocolate Cake

Cobbled stones and an herb garden, 

She read one day.

The room so spare.

from "The Essay"

So much to do in so little time. Our sweet Stella is coming for her first visit and we want everything to be perfect so she will want to come back. Albeit, she will only be six month's old, but one can never be too prepared! We've polled for food, sleeping arrangement, and toy preferences, and have begun work on our back yard in hopes of impressing her! Following is an extra-delicious chocolate cake recipe from my own childhood.  

Perfect Chocolate Cake
McCalls Cooking School recipe
Serves 10 - 12

1 cup unsifted unsweetened cocoa
2 cups boiling water
2 3/4 cups
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 6-ounce package semisweet chocolate pieces
1/2 cup light cream
1 cup butter
2 1/2 cups unsifted powdered sugar

1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1/4 cup unsifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa with the boiling water, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Cool completely! Sift the flour, with the baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Grease and then lightly flour three 9x1-1/2-inch layer cake pans.

With a mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla, scraping the bowl occasionally, until light; about 5 minutes. At low speed, beat in flour mixture, in fourths, alternately with the cocoa mixture, in thirds (beginning and ending with the flour mixture.) Don’t over beat the batter!

Divide evenly into the pans, smoothing the tops. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the surface springs back when gently touched. Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides of the layers from the pans with a spatula, remove from pans, and cool on racks.

In a medium saucepan, combine the semisweet chocolate pieces, cream, and butter, stirring over medium heat until smooth. Remove from heat, and with a whisk, blend in 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar. In a bowl set over ice (especially in August!), beat until it holds its shape.

Whip cream with sugar and vanilla. Refrigerate.

Assembling the cake:
On a pretty plate, place a layer, top down. Spread with half the filling. Place second layer atop, top down, again, and spread with remaining filling. Top with third layer, topside up!

Frost with spatula, sides first, covering the filling first. Swirl rest of frosting on top. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving (I find a minimum of 3-4 better). Use a thin-edged sharp knife to cut.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Almond Chocolate Pie

This pie is rich, smooth, and especially scrumptious! I served this pie, along with Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (see an earlier post) for a graduation party. The recipe is from my mother-in-law, Jean.

Jean's Chocolate Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie

6 small chocolate almond bars, or 6.3 ounces of chocolate, plus some whole almonds
16 large marshmallows
1/2 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
A 9-inch pie crust, baked and cooled

Heat the chocolate, marshmallows, and milk in a double-boiler until the chocolate and marshmallows are melted. Mix in the almonds, if separate. Cool thoroughly.

When the chocolate mixture is completely cool, beat the heavy cream until stiff and fold into the chocolate mixture. Gently spoon into the pie crust. Refrigerate. Serve in thin slivers.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Prime Rib

I am so thankful to my husband for helping me find ways to live wheat-free.  He has never complained about the change in our diet. He is always eager to find new ways to carry food with us on little trips, and he is always looking for new foods I might try in the grocery store. He also took this picture, and most others, for me. Fortunately living wheat-free does NOT mean living without prime rib! 

Prime Rib Roast

1 prime rib roast, room temperature (it will take one to two hours for roast to reach room temperature)
Sea salt

Remove one rack from the oven and move the remaining rack to the lowest level. Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Place the roast in a roasting pan with low sides. A rack in the roasting pan is not necessary; the ribs will act as a natural rack. Place the ribs in the roasting pan, fat-side up. Rub the entire roast with salt. Cook 20 minutes and reduce the heat to 325º F. Roast until a quick-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast, not touching any bone, reads 115º F. This should be about 1-1/2 hours for an average size roast (3-ribs.) Place the roast on a platter and allow the meat to rest for 30 minutes. This will allow the meat juices to settle throughout the roast. The temperature of the roast should reach 125ºF. Serve. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Asparagus Quiche

A little preview of our yard "to be" - a white, rose-like, Double Impatiens flower. After getting my hair cut at 7:45 a.m. on a Saturday morning, we went by
one of our favorite nurseries and bought a few flowers for our yard.

It is Spring here, and the following recipe always reminded me of Spring. For an Autumn dish, use broccoli in place of the asparagus.

Asparagus Quiche
Serves 4

One 9-inch pastry shell, partially baked
1 strip bacon
2 tablespoons onion, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash nutmeg
Dash pepper
1/2 cup cottage cheese
3 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Swiss cheese, shredded (shred your own!)
1 cup fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces, cooked and well drained

Cook the bacon in a skillet and crumble when cool. Set aside. Wipe skillet clean and saute onion in butter. Add the asparagus to the onion and butter and stir over moderate heat to evaporate any excess water from the asparagus. Add the salt, nutmeg, pepper, and cottage cheese to the asparagus mixture. Beat the eggs and cream until mixed, but not frothy; stir in the Swiss cheese and combine with the asparagus mixture. Stir in the crumbled bacon. Pour all into the pastry shell and bake at 375º F for 25 to 30 minutes.  

Monday, April 6, 2009

Corn Chip Pie

I think of this as a Southern recipe, though I do not know where it originated.

Corn Chip Pie

2 slices bacon
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound ground round
2 tablespoons (yes, tablespoons) chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup tomato paste
1-1/2 cups water, plus additional, if needed
1 cup canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
4 to 5 cups corn chips
1/2 pound Monterey Jack, or Cheddar cheese, shredded

In a heavy skillet cook the bacon over medium-low heat until crisp. Remove the bacon strips and crumble, once cool. Add the garlic and onion to the rendered bacon fat and cook over low heat until the onion is soft.

In a separate skillet, brown the beef. Pour off excess fat. Stir in salt, chili powder, cumin, and tomato paste. Add the beef mixture to the skillet with the onions; slowly add the water. Simmer and stir for about 10 minutes, adding additional water for desired thickness. Add the beans and simmer just until heated through.

Divide the corn chips into four shallow bowls. Spoon the chili on top and sprinkle with cheese.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sweet Easter Bunny Buns

Frilly cacti flowers are pictured.

A wheat-free diet can be life changing. Especially if you love cakes, and cookies, and bread. Sweet rolls, croissants, and pies all obviously contain wheat. Even main dishes and vegetables contain wheat; pasta dishes, such as lasagna, and breaded vegetables, such as onion rings. This is just to name a few foods, some of my favorites. Some grains are related to wheat to varying degrees. Rye is related to wheat, as is barley, oat, millet, and rice. The lesser-known grains, such as spelt, an ancient wheat, and teff, an Ethiopian grain, are also related to wheat. 

Grains unrelated to wheat are buckwheat flour, amaranth flour, and quinoa flour, to name just a few that I am going to try soon. I will purchase them prepackaged from a dedicated facility. Buckwheat is related to rhubarb. Nut flours, such as almond and chestnut, are options, also. So much too learn, so late in life! I am learning to needlepoint, which seems easy in comparison. Following is a fun recipe, whether you have children, or not.

Yeast bread is like pie crust; it just takes practice. Even your attempts are worth eating, so do not feel that it is not worth your time. And how fun to be the one who can make the Angel Biscuits, the Dinner Rolls, or even the Cinnamon Rolls for a gathering.

Sweet Bunny Buns

Your favorite sweet bread recipe, or:
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup milk, scalded
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
5-1/2 cups flour, sifted
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup orange juice

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup hot water
1 teaspoon butter
Red food coloring of choice, optional

Soften the yeast in the warm water and set aside. Beat the scalded milk, sugar, butter and salt together and cool until lukewarm. Stir in approximately 2 cups of flour and beat well. Mix in eggs and stir in the softened yeast. Stir in the orange juice and then the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Let the dough stand for 10 minutes.

Knead the dough with the heel of your hand on a lightly floured surface, until smooth and elastic, between 5 and 10 minutes. Place in a lightly buttered bowl, turning once to butter surface. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size, or about 2 hours. Deflate by pressing down. Cover, and let stand for 10 minutes more.

To form the bunnies (in profile), roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Cut the dough into strips about 1/2-inch wide and roll between your hands to make smooth strips. Cut a 10-inch strip of the rolled dough for the bunny body; coiling loosely on a lightly buttered cookie sheet. Cut a 5-inch strip for the bunny head and coil loosely, touching the upper right corner of the body. For the ears, cut two 1-1/2-inch strips of dough, shaping ends to a curved point, and attach to the top of the head at a cute angle. Finally, make a small ball of dough and attach to the center left side of the bunny for the tail.

Cover the bunnies and let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size, about 45 to 60 minutes. Bake at 375º F for 12 to 15 minutes. Frost while warm with the glaze.

Glaze: Mix the glaze ingredients until well blended and brush over the warm bunny rolls. Tint a small amount pink for the ears, if desired.