Monday, November 30, 2009

Spice Mixes

When I cook, I often prepare my spices ahead of time and have them mixed in a bowl, waiting. I don't prepare jars of mixed spices as my cooking tends to be somewhat improvisational from day to day and sometimes I like to go wild, and use extra cumin or something. Still, for people that don't cook every day, and don't have two kitchen cabinets devoted to spices, a jar of mixed spices can be a thoughtful holiday gift.

I tend to buy my spices in small, ethnic markets where they are less expensive and move off the shelves regularly. That isn't to say I'm above grabbing a jar of mustard seeds at Hy Vee, in a pinch, but I do pay a premium for doing so. As I said, cooking all our meals at home, I tend to go through spices before they lose their strength. If a large bag of ground coriander is more than you'll use in a year, why not find someone to share with, or turn the excess spices into a thoughtful gift-provided you put some thought into it. A jar of curry spice isn't much of a gift if the recipient does not make curries.

The measurements I'll give here should make mixes that will fill a jar with between 2-4 ounces of mixture. Baby food jars are perfect, but so are empty jars from salad cherries, olives, and the like. Ball Jars are nice, but expensive and they tend to take up quite a bit of room in a cabinet, so unless you are making something in a quantity, stick to smaller, easier to handle jars. Fabric remnants and ribbon make an attractive decoration. If you're feeling inspired, print out a few recipes using the spices to go along with the gift.

Here are some ideas:

Madras-Style Curry Powder:

4 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon fenugreek
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon dill seed
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch cinnamon

Garam Masala:

1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
16 whole cloves
6 whole cardamom pods
1 piece cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon small black cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds

Grind everything together. I have a dedicated electric coffee grinder I use for Indian spices and another for chillies. You can pick up electric coffee milks, often unused for a couple dollars at the Goodwill and other thrift stores. Don't buy a new one for this sort of thing.

Refried Beans/Chili Mix:

You can make this hotter if you prefer by adding more red pepper flakes. When getting ready to grind whole chilies, heat a dry frying pan (cast iron works well) until quite hot. Toss the dried chilies onto it and cook until they puff a bit. Remove, cool slightly and then cut open and remove seeds. Grind well. Obviously, you don't need to remove the seeds, but it does tend to make for very hot seasoning if you don't, depending on the variety you use.

4 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
4 tablespoons mild chili powder (I like Ancho chillies)
2 teaspoons dried epazote
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons sweet (not smoked) paprika

Let me know how you like them.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Test Prep For Three and Four Year Olds

I'm at a loss for words, so I'll just link to the story.

More Thoughts on the Birthday Cake

I have three weeks to get one heck of a "wow", birthday cake completed. Like last year, I'm going to need to make dozens of cookies ahead of time for decorating. Here's what I'm planning.

The Day The Earth Stood Still -in cake, cookies, and sugar paste.

Two cake layers baked in pie pans, and stuck together to fashion the flying saucer. Green tinted coconut for grass. The Washington Monument and Capitol building constructed from sugar cubes and sugar paste. I cheated and bought a bag of plastic army men. Tanks, other artillery made from decorated cookies, Klatu, Gort, the Patricia Neal character, and that "gee whiz mister" kid, from cookies, and a candy-constructed fence around the perimeter of the ellipse. For the sake of research, I went ahead and bought a VHS of the movie for.50 cents plus shipping on Amazon. I'm happy about that-everyone should own a copy of The Day The Earth Stood Still.

The problem with decorated cookies (for me anyway) is that I end up decorating five of each before I get one that looks good enough to use. Mr. Eat The Blog is happy enough to eat the mistakes, but that ends up being a whole lot of cookies. I figure I'll need about 15 tank cookies, but god knows how many I'll have to make to get them. Worse, I'll have to make them after Danny gets to bed in the evening. Last year, I was up until midnight for weeks before his birthday baking, and decorating. Then, I had to get up super-early and hide the dried cookies in the morning.

So tonight I'll begin making the templates on heavy card stock and mixing up a few batches of butter cookie dough for the fridge. Thank goodness I was able to get butter for a dollar a pound, and loaded up the freezer. Mr. Eat the Blog thinks I'm insane to shop that way, but he isn't a mama. Mamas know how much butter goes into a proper birthday celebration.

Anyone have a favourite cake recipe that will hold up to being frosted and decorated? I'm open to suggestions.

OK, I'm going to go put my feet up and rest tonight because with the start of Monday morning, operation Danny's Birthday is in full-swing. Poor kid, it is rough having a birthday five days before Christmas, so I really want to make it special.

Hee, hee. I'm so excited!

Easier To Roll Gingerbread

Oh look, the gingerbread man is wearing a's that for inter-faith holiday cookies?

I'm submitting this post to Season three of Eat Christmas Cookies, Susan the Food Blogga's yearly feature of the sparkliest, prettiest, most festive cookies from around the world. Oh yeah, they taste pretty good too.

Food Blogga's cookie round-up HERE
Want to participate? Info HERE

I put up the tree last evening (don't worry, we have an artificial one, it will last all month) and thought it would look better with some cookies. That's kind of my personal philosophy anyway-that most things are better with cookies...and don't skimp on the edible glitter. I had some cute cellophane treat bags, so in the cookies went, and then onto the tree. It really helps to make the dough ahead, but a few hours in the fridge will do the trick.

I've always relied on the rolled gingerbread recipe in the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook from 1950. Mind, that is an excellent recipe, and for constructing houses, models, etc. probably superior to this one for sheer durability...but gosh, you sure need upper body strength to roll it out. I don't have any-at least not this year.

Following on the success with the gingersnaps from my Better Homes and Gardens Cookies and Candies book from 1966, I went ahead and tried their rolled gingerbread recipe. Know what? It rolls beautifully. So well, in fact, I could have gotten by using the small rolling pin rather than the heavy beast I employ for normal gingerbread. Also, unlike ordinary cookie dough, this one rolled better after warming up a bit. It did not spread or puff up too much in the oven either. On the other hand, it contains an entire cup of Crisco, so by golly, it ought to roll easy. I did not need extra flour for rolling out the dough, which is almost unheard of with gingerbread which is notoriously sticky. Again, I credit the shortening. The lack of extra flour helps keep the cookies from becoming tough as well. Overall, this may be my new favourite gingerbread recipe.

You Will Need:

1 cup solid shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup full flavour molasses
2 tablespoons white vinegar
5 cups AP flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves

Cream shortening with sugar. Stir in the egg, molasses and vinegar. Mix well. Sift together dry ingredients and add. Mix well. Wrap in cling film and chill at least three hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets (or use silicone pads). Roll out cookies about 1/4 inch thick. Decorate as desired with sanding sugar, glitter, etc. Bake roughly ten minutes, but you'll need to keep checking. Cool slightly on pan, then remove to a rack and cool completely before icing.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

You Want Me To Bake a What?!

I finished putting together Danny's Advent calendar this morning, and the conversation turned to gingerbread houses.

Me: I want to bake a gingerbread house, but I can't think of anything unusual to do with it. I want mine to be different.

Mr. Eat The Blog: Why don't bake a gingerbread uterus? That's everybody's first home...well, except for the test tube babies. I wonder if you could do a gingerbread test tube?

For better or worse.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Cranberry Stuffing/Dressing

For the past month, I've been saving stale ends of bread in the freezer waiting for today. I'm glad I did-my own white bread makes better dressing than anything I've ever bought in a box.

You Will Need:

2 cups vegetable broth
6 cups cubed, stale bread
1 tablespoon dried sage, crumbled
1 teaspoon thyme, dried
1 tablespoon dried parsley
6 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
4 stalks celery, chopped fine
3 tart apples, chopped fine
1/2 cup dried currants
1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped well
Salt and pepper to taste (depends on how salty your broth is)

Cook the onion and celery in the butter in a large, heavy pot. Add everything else except the broth. Cook a bit until well coated. Add the broth gradually until moistened.

Cod Pot Pies With Salt Cod

That's Danny wearing a sweatshirt that has been in the family roughly forty five years-maybe more. It belonged to my older sister before I got it. The front pocket fell off about twenty years ago. The really scary thing is that I can still fit in it, though it is short in the arms. Yikes-ever notice how when you get sick and lose a ton of weight it is all in your shoulders and boobs? I mean, if you have boobs. Man-boobs don't count. Anyway...Danny has inherited the Madison School sweatshirt now.

Danny is also drinking from a jelly glass that I had when I was his age. If you're getting the idea that I tend to take care of my things, and keep them a really long time, you'd be correct.

I made this recipe before HERE. If using salt cod, just make sure to soak it well for a few days, rinsing thrice daily and for heaven's sake...don't add the salt called for in the recipe.

This is such a quick and impressive dish-I don't know why I save it for holidays and special occasions.

Spinach, Peas Shoot, and Rocket Timbales

Pretty fancy, huh?
Sure, they looked better in the magazine. I think it has to do with the chopped hard boiled egg on top...because the five eggs in the recipe clearly weren't enough.

I based the recipe on one using only spinach from the March, 1972 Gourmet Magazine. My timables are shorter, and I skipped the tomato slice and hard boiled egg topping, but it was still a lovely way to serve green vegetables. I just couldn't face a green bean casserole, even with fresh beans, and homemade sauce. Mr. Eat The Blog likes it, and for years I would make it for him. After sixteen years I figured it would be OK if I skipped it this year. I don't think he noticed.

You can do this with all spinach, but I wouldn't do all pea shoots, or rocket. I think that would be too assertive. I used about a cup of each, and that provided a good balance.

After cooking these kept warm in a toaster oven until I was ready to serve them without drying out or becoming soft. That's convenient when you're trying to time an elaborate dinner. I kept them warming a good fifteen minutes with no ill effects.

You Will Need:

3 cups cooked, squeezed and dried spinach-chopped well. Or substitute other greens as you like.
1/4 cup finely minced onion
1/4 cup butter
1 cup light cream (half and half)
4 large eggs plus 1 yolk
Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg to taste

Butter 6 large ramekins generously. Place them in a deep pan. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and set some water to boil for the pan-it will need to come 2/3 way up sides of ramekins.

In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter and cook the onion until it softens. Add the dried greens/spinach and cook until well-coated. Add the cream slowly and cook until cream is reduced and thickened. Spinach should absorb most of it.

Remove to a bowl and cool ten minutes.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly and add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the spinach and mix well. Spoon into ramekins and set in pan. Pour water in carefully and bake about 25 minutes or until they are set and puffed. Remove from water and keep warm until ready to serve. Unmould by running a knife around the edge and inverting onto a plate

Happy Thanksgiving

Pumpkin cheesecake with homemade graham cracker crust
No, I didn't serve a slice this size. This is at least three servings.
I went ahead and filled some croissants with chocolate...just because.
This is what you get after ten years practise making croissants. Still not perfect, but pretty darned good. They came up feather light, with thin, beautiful, flaky layers.

My sleep-deprived brain had me up before dawn rolling a block of chilled butter into dough. It was after the third turn that I happened to catch the end of a Pillsbury commercial on the television.

"Oh no. I was supposed to make crescents, not croissants."

I think I like the idea of Thanksgiving better than the actual execution of the meal. Thankfully, no one expected turkey.

Three days ago I prepared the graham crackers for the pumpkin cheesecake base. I baked it yesterday, and today I held my breath as I removed the ring from the springform. With 32 ounces of cream cheese and five large eggs, I didn't want to have to toss the entire thing into the dustbin. It came out beautifully.

I had extra batter that wouldn't fit in the pan yesterday, so I baked it in a small bowl along with the larger cake. Then, I formed it into balls, inserted a popsicle stick and froze them. Then, I dipped them in white chocolate and returned them to the freezer. I was very pleased with my discovery, but somewhat frightened at just how easy it is to turn leftover cheesecake into a frozen dessert bar. I think this almost has a Faustian element to it, I mean, it ain't base metals into gold exactly, but cheesecake into a frozen bar is a sort of alchemy. Sort of. You know how it is, the Devil offers you cheesecake at the ready and it sounds so great until you wake up weighing 500 lbs. one morning...stupid Faustian bargains with the Devil with their stupid catches. Anyway, don't say I didn't warn you about the frozen cheesecake thing.

I'll get the recipes up tomorrow, since it is already too late if you were planning to make anything.

Thank you again for a wonderful year of your visits and comments and friendship.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Salt Cod

The dried piece waiting to be cut

These two pieces will go a long way. As I'm making cod pot pies, I'm using the tail end and saving the larger pieces for meals where I want the pieces to be served intact.Covered with water and soaking in a bowl in the fridge for three days.

We don't eat much fish, save for special occasions. With the holidays coming up, I bought a large salt cod that can be cut into pieces and re-hydrated as needed. The boys want cod pot pies for Thursday, so I started soaking the pieces today.

The nice thing about salt cod is that it can be kept indefinitely at room temperature. I stick mine in the fridge anyway-just so I know where it is, but salted in the bag it doesn't take up much room at all. The smell seems less intense to me as well-more marine than fishy. I always think it smells like dulse when I pull it from the bag. As it re-hydrates, it can get a bit stinky, so keep a plate over the bowl as it sits. You'll want to re-hydrate it in the fridge.

Keep in mind that it will double in bulk as it re-hydrates, so a little salt cod goes a long way. I like to soak mine three days changing the water thrice daily. You can do less days with more water changes, and depending on what you have in mind, it may need more or less soaking-so check your recipe. I've found that three days is about right for using salt cod as a substitute for fresh in most recipes. Just remember not to add the salt called for in the recipe you are adapting (been there, done that). The fish will still be adequately salted.

So why use salt cod when freezers are available? That's a fair question. It isn't like we need this method of preservation anymore. I suppose it is much like eating beef jerky, or dried fruit. The end result has a different taste, born of necessity, but still enjoyable.

I'll try to remember to post photos over the next few days so you can see how it looks at various stages.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Squash and Chickpea Coconut Curry

Another curry born of what I had lurking in the fridge. I doubt I've ever made the same curry twice, but the boys thought this one was good enough to post.

You Will Need:

6 cups cooked chickpeas, skins removed
1 large acorn squash, seeds removed, peeled and chopped into cubes
4-5 tablespoons ghee
4 large carrots, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon stem ginger, chopped
1 cup dried flaked coconut
1 tin coconut milk
Salt (If using chickpeas from a tin, omit)
A very generous grinding of black pepper

Spice Mix:

3 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon fennel seeds

Mix together the spices and set aside.

In a large pot, heat the ghee over medium heat and cook the onion, carrots, garlic and ginger until softened. Add the coconut flakes, squash, and chickpeas. Cook a few more minutes adding more ghee if needed. Stir in spice mix and fry for a couple minutes to well-coat everything. Stir in the coconut milk. At this point, you will probably want to add a cup or two of water. Start with one, and cook everything down over a good boil. If you think it would benefit from another reduction after tasting, go ahead and do it.

Serve hot over rice.

Curried Kale

A reasonably simple vegetable dish to serve with other curries.

You Will Need:

1 large bunch of kale
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 tablespoons cooking oil or ghee
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder

Strip the kale leaves from the stalks. Cut them finely. In a large pot, heat the oil, onion and garlic and cook until softened. Add the kale and cook a few minutes to coat the leaves. Stir in salt and curry powder.Add 1 cup of water and increase heat to a boil and cook until water evaporates. Do this 3-4 more times, using a wooden spoon to mash the kale as you go. Cook off most of the liquid before serving.

Chocolate Cherry Muffins and Martians

I've been notified by the Martian ambassador that the only thing that can stop their planned takeover of Earth is a batch of double chocolate cherry muffins. He was pretty specific. Semi sweet and white chocolate chips-none of that imitation crap. And real butter. You don't want to know what Crisco does to the Martian intestines.

OK people of Earth-you owe me.

The ambassador said we're cool for now, but he sees some chocolate cornstarch pudding being the key to detente.

You Will Need:

1/2 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped cherries
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Coarse sugar for sprinkling

Preheat your Earthling subsistence heating machine to 450 degrees F. Grease the top of a 12 cup muffin tin and line the cups with paper. Set aside.

With your Earthling combining centrifuge machine (or a strong arm) cream together the butter, sugar and salt. Do this for about three Earth minutes. Rest your arm. Do ten jumping jacks. Blow your nose, wash your hands and continue. Wait, don't forget to face North while you do all this. Still with me?

Add the baking powder and eggs and mix well. Add the flour, vanilla and milk and mix again. Don't overbeat the batter. Stupid Earthlings always want to over-beat the batter. Fold in the chocolate and cherries. Spoon into muffin tin and sprinkle tops with granulated sugar.

Bake five minutes and then reduce the heat to 375 degrees F. Bake another 30-35 minutes. Cool before giving to little Martians as they tend to burn their delicate little Martian tongues on hot chocolate chips.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Conversations With My Husband

If you happened to be in the Salvation Army thrift store on 84th street in Omaha today and heard the following exchange-that was us.

Mr. Eat The Blog: You know, a factoid.
Me: Oh, you know that was coined by what's his face...
Mr Eat The Blog: Who?
Me: You know, the asshole know, the guy who shot his wife.
Mr. Eat The Blog: Burroughs?
Me: No, the other asshole...he just croaked...god, I can picture his big ugly head...
Mr. Eat The Blog: Oh, Mailer.

Vintage Saturday -Food and Fashion Edition

As promised, here's my booklet from 1948 chock full of tips for re-styling old fur, leather and felt. I like the idea of recycling, let's have a look at some of the fashion ideas...

"Bureau of Human Nutrition and Home Economics." I like that, because when I'm re-styling my leather fur and felt, I don't want to mistakenly make a pair of mittens for the goat. Seriously though, I wish they would just bring back the old names. "Department of War" was so much more honest. Sounded pretty badass too.

I'll bet little Butchie got his ass kicked every single day on his way to school in his homemade cap. I don't know if his name was really Butchie, but there was a kid in our neighbourhood that wore caps like this named Butchie.

Big sister Mabel got a new hat as well. And gloves. Too bad they smell like a barn.

A fraulein needs something to hold up her skirt. You'll say, "Jah!" to these snappy suspenders.

Now, the cookbooks. I bought these today.

It looks decent enough from the horrible could the recipes be?

Oh. Well, that really is pretty horrible, isn't it? Chicken, eh? I guess maybe you need to use your imagination.

"When friends come to lunch and you want to fuss a bit."

The funny thing is-I want to make this. Mr. Eat The Blog promised he would eat it if I went to the "fuss". I love the tinned peas floating in the cream sauce. Elegant.

You know it will be special if it has both hard boiled eggs and cherry tomatoes.
I want to make this one too. I think it is a "frozen" salad. Admittedly, in the 50's, freezers were still somewhat of a new thing to people, so you get all these oddball recipes for frozen fruit cocktail salads and such. This one has green olives with pimentos inside. Damn, I do love olives with pimentos.
I don't think a "Hobo Lunch", is as much fun as it sounds; drinking cheap Tokay from a bottle in a brown bag.

"Dad's ready with the whopper burgers...break out the buns!"

I had a pretty successful day thrifting. Danny has a ton of new books, the ugliest vintage sport coat you've ever laid eyes on (I'd guess 1940's or 50's) and I laid in a stock of tins for shipping Christmas treats across the country. I also scored a beautiful (heavy) ring mould made in Germany that still has the original price tag on it. I paid $1.99. Nesselrode pudding, anyone?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Gingersnaps-No Rolling

These were a breeze to make, and delicious too. Make them larger for puffier, softer cookies, smaller for flat crisp ones.

From Better Homes and Gardens Cookies and Candies, 1966

You Will Need:

3/4 cup shortening (I used half butter)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses (I used full flavour)
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Granulated sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 2 large baking sheets

Cream together shortening, sugar, molasses and egg. Sift together dry ingredients and mix into butter mixture. Combine well. Form into small balls and roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on racks. Makes about 5 dozen.

Empress Rice, Gourmet Magazine March 1972

Oh look, mama made a "fancy" dessert.
1972? Wow, that's Nixon era cooking. I wonder if you could mould one of these with ketchup and cottage cheese?Now that's elegant. I know I'd go right ahead and set out a bowl of raspberry sauce on Damask.

I just set mine on a plate on the counter. I mean, you know Mr. Eat The Blog will be standing in front of the fridge piling it into a bowl at 3 AM anyway-so why bother with all that fussiness of getting it centred on the plate? OK, I did a predictably sloppy job getting it on the plate and I'm afraid moving it will destroy the whole damn thing. He's still going to eat it standing at the fridge at 3 AM. You don't spend close to 20 years with someone and not know their eating habits.

Danny picked this recipe. I made it last evening, and unmoulded it this afternoon-it really needs sufficient time to set. I skipped the raspberry sauce, and cut waaay back on the amount of Kirsch the recipe called for. I will post it as written.

Yes, this was a pain in the behind. It has a million steps, and you really need to be comfortable with making custard bases, and so on. The recipe seems to assume people know at what temperature a custard will coat a spoon, and how to soften gelatin, but I'm going to go ahead and include a few notes in the recipe. I don't think Bavarians and such are as common for the home cook to be whipping up as they were in 1973 when this was published.

You Will Need:

1/2 cup glaceed fruit and 1/4 cup Kirsch set in a bowl to macerate for at least an hour.

1/2 cup rice
Water to cover
1 3/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 vanilla bean scrapings

1/3 cup apricot jam, heayed and strained
1 tablespoon Kirsch (I omitted this)

4 teaspoons powdered gelatin sprinkled over 1/4 cup water

4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups whole milk, scalded
A bowl of ice cubes and cold water

1 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
Oil for greasing mould

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In an oven-proof saucepan, blanch the rice in enough water to cover and boil 5 minutes. Drain rice well. Return rice to saucepan and add 1 3/4 cup milk, 1/3 cup sugar, butter, and vanilla bean scrapings.Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover tightly and bake for 1 hour. Remove and transfer rice to a shallow dish and cool.

In a saucepan, melt the apricot jam and strain through a fine sieve. Mix with kirsch. Strain this into the rice. Add the soaked glaceed fruit along with the liquid and combine gently.

In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let soften. If you have a microwave, 20 seconds will do a good job of liquefying it right before you use it. It will soften in the custard if you don't, but I find this quick step cuts down on the stirring time and ensures it will dissolve completely (don't worry, the strainer will catch any bits that don't melt).

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until light and they form a ribbon when beaters are lifted. Slowly, in a thin stream, add the scalded milk, beating as you go. Transfer back to a saucepan and over medium heat, cook, stirring constantly until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon (by "coats" it means, if you drag your finger through the film on the spoon, it will leave a line that does not blend immediately back into itself. You don't want to cook the eggs, but rather heat it enough to kill any bacteria and get it to set as a custard base. Again, don't freak out if a few small bits cook-that is why you strain it before pouring into a bowl. If you've ever made ice cream, this is pretty much the same technique.

Transfer the custard to a heatproof bowl (the metal bowl from a stand mixer works great) and set it in a large ice water bath. Stir constantly until it is cool, but not completely cold. Pour the custard into the rice a small amount at a time, mixing gently. Let the mixture cool completely, but do not let it set (in other words, don't put it in the fridge for an hour and forget about it).

Combine the custard and rice with 1 cup of whipped heavy cream and fold carefully combining well.

Grease a large 2 quart mould with a flavourless oil (they suggested sweet almond oil, which I obviously skipped) and pour int the mixture. Cover with plastic and chill at least six hours, or overnight. I left mine a full day.

Run a knife around the mould to loosen, and set it quickly in a pan of hot water. Unmould onto a platter and decorate with sweetened whipped cream, fruit sauce and additional glaceed fruit. Serves 8

Lima Bean, Lentil and Barley Casserole

This makes a ton of food for very little money. You may need two casserole dishes to make it fit. Freeze one for later.

You Will need:

4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 stalks celery, trimmed and finely diced
6 carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste (I used quite a bit)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 cups cooked, small lima beans
3 cups cooked lentils
2 cups cooked pearl barley
2 cups grated Swiss cheese
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one or two casserole dishes.

Heat the oil and butter in a large dutch oven. Add the onions, carrots, celery and bay leaf. Cook until carrots are softened. Remove bay leaf. Add the thyme, salt and pepper. Add the beans, barley and lentils. Mix well. Remove from heat. Mix in the Swiss cheese.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs and blend with the cream. Mix into everything else. Mix well.

Pour into casserole(s) and bake about 1 hour or until liquid is no longer bubbling up to the top when pierced with a knife. Top should get a bit crusty. Serve hot with a strong Dijon mustard.

Not a Legitimate Genre

Danny: Why are you so tired Mama?
Me: You know that new free movie channel? They had an old achtung! movie on last night, and I stayed up to watch part of it.
Danny: (Clearly irritated) Normal people just call it a war movie.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Massachusetts Turkey

We're having our usual Massachusetts turkey for Thanksgiving next week-a baked stuffed cod. With two vegetarians, there's little point preparing a turkey. Mr. Eat The Blog doesn't care for it anyway. Thanks to the generosity of a co-worker, we have venison steaks in the freezer, so perhaps I'll make him one for the day after Thanksgiving.

I don't go overboard cooking for this holiday unless we have guests which mercifully this year, we do not. Still, I understand for many, this is a yearly family gathering and a time when they go to great pains preparing a special meal. I thought this might be a good time to list a "best of" series of links, in the event you're looking for a good cornbread recipe, or cranberry relish.

Maple Sugar Pie
Shoo Fly Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Cranberry/Orange/Coconut/Raisin Loaf
Cranberry Ice Cream
Sally Lunn Bread
Pumpkin Kibbet (perfect for the vegetarians in the family)Link
Rosemary Grape Foccacia
Fried Celeriac (Celery Root)
Beet Souffle
Corn Grits Timbales
Mushroom Timbales
Brussels Sprouts Mould
Carrot Timbales With Parsley sauce
Filled Baked Red Onion
Ohio Shaker Lemon Pie
Carrot Pudding Loaf
Individual Mushroom Pies
Pumpkin Fritters
Pumpkin Cake With Fig Filling and Cream Cheese Frosting
Orange Slices In Bourbon
Steamed Cranberry Pudding
Cranberry Raisin Pie
Cape Cod Cranberry Pie
Crown Jewels Gelatin Cake
Mini Cod Pot Pies and Sweet Potato Bouchons
Frozen Grapefruit Mousse
Cranberry and Pear Chutney
Cornmeal Yeast Bread
Blood Orange Sorbet
Squash With Grapes and Sage
Dixie Cornmeal Foldover Rolls
Raisin/Date Hand Pies
Pickled/Spiced Pineapple
Potato Starch Muffins (gluten free)
Apple Cranberry Raisin Strudel
Sweet Potato or Squash Bread
Spiced Pears
Roasted Beet Salad With Boiled Cider
Cranberry Mincemeat
Crusty Water Rolls
Pumpkin Challah
Roasted Fennel With Dried Apricots
Charles Street Indian Pudding
Dried Apricot and Fig Compote With Wine
Broccoli Salad With Figs
Pilgrim's Bread
Cornish Game Hens Stuffed With Cous Cous
Mushroom Pate

Happy Baking.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stout Bread

I still had 2 cups of stout left from making the puddings, and no intentions of simply drinking it. I bought one of those gigantic bottles thinking I'd find a use for it. And I did. Please disregard my horrible, horrible job of slashing the loaves.

I was trying for a checkerboard effect-well that went wrong didn't it? That's fine, I'm far from a perfect baker even after these many years, and it is always nice to post the less-than-perfect results.

The original recipe called for walnuts which I replaced with a couple handfuls of raisins. It sounds like an odd combination of ingredients, but it really turns into a wonderful bread-provided you can slash properly. I don't know about your family, but mine will pretty much eat any homemade bread they are offered.

The recipe may be found HERE.

Birthday Countdown

Just about a month to go-and I still haven't planned out the Birthday cake. It will be difficult to out-do last year's, but I suppose that's what's expected.

Danny's rather taken with the whole Martian/Space Alien thing, though he makes a distinction between "good" and "bad" Martians. The ones that abduct people and probe them-very bad. As Danny so eloquently put it:
"I prefer nice Martians."

Yes well, don't we all?

Right. So I'm thinking a flying saucer cake-I have large round pans and then I could bake the top layer in a bowl. Maybe little green men cookies walking down a slab of chocolate for a ramp? Anyone have ideas that don't involve wiring the whole cake with LED lights?

How did it get to be the middle of November already?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Grannymar's Christmas Pudding-Pt.1

The recipe is HERE.

This is what they look like after five hours of steaming. I omitted the nuts and used extra cherries instead (because I had homemade ones). For the spirits, I used brandy and the stout was Guinness. I'm still in a state of disbelief that it actually worked (what with the stupid large mould tipping over and all). Danny is quite impressed (as he should be!).

You would think living in a place that was for years known as "The Beef State" I'd be able to find suet, but I cannot. This pudding is suetless. We can find all the butter we want.

They get two more hours of steaming the week of Christmas.

Thanks again Grannymar, they look delicious.

Frosty Anise Rosettes

Or, if you're my old neighbour in Boston, a "Frosty Anus Rosette". That used to slay me when people would mix the two up. Now, Mr. Eat The Blog says it deliberately, which just adds to the confusion. I typically avoid embarrassing slips by calling it "fennel."

Well, with this cold snap we're having my anise is getting a bit frosty (oh, you knew I wouldn't let that go) and a nice batch of cookies is a great excuse to heat the oven.

These would be adorable decorated for Christmas as wreaths. I went for something that looks like the old Stella D'Oro cookie mix (anyone else miss the bright pink frosted rosettes, or remember them for that matter?) because it just seems too soon for red and green jimmies.

The recipe comes from that (well-used) Pillsbury's Best Butter Cookie Cookbook pamphlet from the 1950's. The recipe was the senior winner in the 6th Grand National Baking Contest. The only change I made was using water rather than milk in the glaze, which I will note in the recipe.

You Will Need:

3 cups sifted AP flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tablespoons anise seed
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon anise extract if desired (I omitted this)

3 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
1/3 cup hot milk (I used water)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease two baking sheets.

Sift together dry ingredients. Cream together the butter and sugar until light. Beat in the eggs until well blended. Add the anise seed, lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix well. Add all BUT 1 cup of the sifted flour mixture. Beat well. By hand, work in the remaining amount of flour (I could not get it all in-about 1/8 cup remained, but it was fine). Knead about 1 minute until smooth. Divide into 8 parts. Roll each part into a length about 18 inches long. Cut into 5 parts. Roll each slightly and then cut, 1/2 inch intervals about halfway through log. Join ends. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake 7-10 minutes. Cookies will not brown on top. Cool on rack. When cool, dip in glaze and let dry on a rack over a baking sheet. Decorate as desired. Makes 3 1/2 dozen.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Your Questions Answered

To the person who arrived at the blog with the search:

"What is the secret to stiff migraines?"

A four year old. If that doesn't work, try bringing the kid to room temperature first, and then beating him with cream of tartar. Try not to over-beat him, or you'll get a weeping migraine, and no one likes that.

Thanks for stopping by.

Vintage Magazines

...Featuring, children who grew up to murder their parents!

She's going to murder her parents...right after she gets home and out of her good church clothes. Gosh, this just makes me want to watch The Bad Seed.
She murdered her parents shortly after they subjected her to the dreaded "China Doll" haircut. Nice look on a round face, eh?

This young man wanted to murder his parents, but knew it would interfere with his political ambitions, so he resisted. He got his revenge twenty years later by having his old man audited.The older brother...well someone had to dig the graves in the backyard. That's hard work for a nine year old.

Aw, ain't he cute? You don't want to know what he grew up to do.

Look out mama!
The magazines also featured cooking-some of the recipes like "Pizza Chicken" sound rather gag inducing.

Is this coat beautiful, or what? I included this because I found it amusing-what was she, maybe a size eight? It was the Twiggy era, sure, but I wouldn't exactly call her "large."Next week, I have a USDA pamphlet from the 40's about making slippers and belts from animal hides and pelts. I know you can't wait.