Friday, February 29, 2008

Simnel Cake

Last night, I woke around three AM convinced I was suffering appendicitis. I'm still not sure twelve hours later (nausea, pain, fever) but I'm going to assume it is viral until the pain becomes severe enough to send me to the hospital. When I say, "I didn't feel like baking today", believe me, I mean it. The problem was, I'd done a considerable amount of prep work for a cake that is on the relatively expensive side (all that dried fruit and butter). Between sips of ginger ale, I got the stupid cake baked. Then I realised, I used an entire cup of butter when the cake recipe called for ½. Oh well, the more the merrier-no one ever claimed this was health food. A funny aside-someone came to the blog today looking for Eat This; Not That-which is a sort of popular diet book that guides people to smarter dietary choices. Oh well, at least the poor soul didn't have to come eye to eye with a cheesecake as the top post. Yeah buddy, you've got the wrong blog.

Anyway, I solved the marzipan problem (nut allergy) by using a wonderful solid buttercream recipe that may be found HERE. I made a half batch and had enough for the balls and the extra I rolled out to use as a replacement for the marzipan layer. Clever eh? I flavoured mine vanilla because I couldn't think of anything that wouldn't clash horribly with the cake. I have both rose water and orange blossom water but was afraid it would be too much. I tinted it the palest yellow, which looks much better in person than my lousy camera lets on.

A Simnel cake is essentially a lighter version of a Christmas cake (fruitcake) crossed with a traditional British wedding cake. There can be an additional layer of marzipan or buttercream in the centre but I decided to quit before ruining it. Were this Christmas cake, I'd be tempted to booze it up after baking but as it isn't being wrapped and saved I felt that extra preservation step unnecessary. Do as you see fit.

Traditionally, Simnel cakes were baked for Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent. It was a time when people returned to their homes and "mother church" and soon the tradition evolved to bake a Simnel cake for one's mother on that day. Unlike Lenten cakes that make do without butter, eggs and milk, the Simnel cake is meant to be a break from Lenten deprivation- DISCLAIMER* (you may wish to consult a theologian on the spiritual validity of such actions as I'm only an anthropologist whose interests are in the cultural, not theological realm. Believe me, you don't want spiritual advice from the likes of myself).

You Will Need:

½ cup butter
1-cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ cup brandy
1 ½ cups applesauce
1-pound raisins
1 cup diced glace cherries
1 cup diced candied peel
1 cup diced citron
2 cups chopped dates

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Grease and flour a large springform pan (2 ½-3 quart)

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time. Sift dry ingredients. Reserve three tablespoons for later. Mix the fruits well in another bowl. Stir the flour into the eggs/butter mixture alternating with brandy. Toss the fruit with the reserved flour and stir into mixture. Spoon into pan and just to be safe, place pan on a baking sheet. Bake about 1-½ hours, though mine took nearly two hours. Cool, remove from pan and cool completely on rack.

Make recipe for buttercream. Make the twelve balls first (with a few extra for mistakes) and set in freezer to be dipped. Roll out remaining buttercream and top cake. Finish dipping buttercream balls in white chocolate and set atop cake using eleven balls to represent the true Apostles (leave Judas off) and wrap in a bow if you like (hopefully you make nicer bows than I ).

Tell your mummy you love her on Sunday

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lolipop Moulds

I'm fortunate that I live in a place where many of the small towns still have thriving main streets. Today, I ended-up at the independent drugstore getting prescriptions filled. They have a wonderful toy aisle with really unusual items, and a decent selection of housewares and sewing materials. After purchasing a farm toy for Danny (the combine came with a silo, two figurines and some rows of corn to assemble) I took a quick look through the housewares to see if they had a jam bag. They didn't, but there in a corner were four hard plastic lollipop moulds designed to withstand the heat of hard candy. They were clearly from the 1960's. Judging from the labels (and price) my guess is the owner found them in a storeroom and decided, "what the heck, maybe someone will want these". Indeed! I've been searching for hard candy moulds for the longest time. The few one can find on the web are very expensive things.

Guess I know what I'll be doing tomorrow.

In other news, I bought another 18-pound bag of grapefruits-this time for the grand sum of $4.00 I haven't looked them over yet, but I suppose the nicest will be turned into marmalade. Speaking of marmalade, I was trying to reach the half-pint ball jars at the grocer today but could not. The nearest package was taped together and missing a jar. I sought out an employee to help.

(He was smiling) "So you looked for the shortest guy in the store, huh?"
(Embarrassed) "Well, no…I"
(Still smiling) "I'm only kidding, I can climb up there, what do you need?"

So I showed him the case of jars I was trying to get, behind the damaged ones.

"I guess you wouldn't want a case minus one."
"Well, not for eight dollars."
(Looking at box) "We can't really sell these, how's two bucks?"

I promised him a jar of marmalade next visit. For eleven otherwise fine Ball jars, that was the bargain of the day.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cornmeal Yeast Bread

I'm slowly working my way through the Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Bread Book. This wasn't a deliberate decision; I just find the breads to be simple and successful.

This cornmeal recipe will make 8 mini loaves, or one large and one regular loaf. I suppose it would have all fit comfortably in two 9x5x3 pans and just rose higher, but I have bad luck with breads busting their tops. I erred on the side of caution.

The bread is 2quite good-almost sweet tasting. I do think it could use slightly more salt (about 1/8 teaspoon) but maybe that's being picky. I can't wait to toast it and have it with marmalade in the morning. We served it still warm with the frittata tonight and it was a nice match.

You Will Need:

6-61/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ½ teaspoons granulated (not instant) yeast
2-¼ cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1-tablespoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup yellow cornmeal
Cream for brushing
Cornmeal for dusting

In a large mixer bowl, combine 3 cups of the flour with the yeast. In a saucepan, heat the milk, butter, salt and sugar until the butter melts, stirring constantly. Do not let it get hotter than lukewarm. Add to the dry mixture, add eggs, and beat on low speed ½ minute, scraping sides. Beat on high speed three minutes.

By hand, stir in one cup of cornmeal. Add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Remove and knead on a board for about ten minutes until smooth. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover. Let rise 1-2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Punch down and divide in however many parts you will be baking it. Cover, and let rest ten minutes. Shape loaves and fit into well-greased pans. Cover and let rise until just about doubled (about 45 minutes). Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. for small loaves, 375 degrees F. for large ones.

Brush tops of loaves with cream and sprinkle with cornmeal. Bake 25 minutes for individual pans, 30-45 minutes for larger ones. I baked mine to an internal temperature of 190 degrees F.

Cool on racks.

Fritata With Olives And Red Pepper

It almost seems silly to post a recipe for a frittata as they tend to be thrown together in a clean-out-the-fridge type of way. Still, the technique is worth noting, even if you substitute ingredients that suit your tastes and needs. This method is rather straightforward-I know there are some very fussy frittatas out there, but this one works for me.

You Will Need:

1 large potato, diced into small cubes
2 1.2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
½ cup roasted red pepper, chopped
¼ cup green and black olives, pitted (well, duh!) and chopped
2 teaspoons marjoram
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon dried sage
1-teaspoon thyme
8 eggs
½ teaspoon salt (adjust to your tastes)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar (I used white Vermont cheddar, because I had it)

Cook the potato in salted boiling water until soft-about ten minutes. Drain.

Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof (such as cast-iron) pan. Add the onions, spices, olives and peppers. Cook until soft (about ten minutes over medium heat)Add potatoes, coat well and cook another minute or so until flavours absorb.

Preheat the broiler with the oven rack a good 5 inches from the heating element.

Beat the eggs well and pour over the vegetables in the pan. Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook until edges begin to set (about ten minutes, but watch it). Top with shredded cheese. Place pan in oven and broil until the cheese browns-about two minutes (watch it closely). Let stand at room temperature a few minutes before cutting and serving.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Blood Orange Sorbet

Did I mention this is easy? Well, it is. The hardest part is juicing the oranges. You can do that, right?

You Will Need:

1 cup blood orange juice, strained

1/3 cup caster sugar

Juice oranges, strain and mix with sugar. Process in ice cream maker. Freeze until set.

What did I tell you? Easy, right?

Chick Peas And Pasta

With all the canning and bread baking today I didn't have time for an elaborate dinner. This dish was served over bow-tie pasta and topped with grated Romano cheese. Fast, easy and filling I turn to chick peas when I realise it is 5 PM and I haven't started dinner. If you're thinking I do a lot of chickpea dishes, you're correct.

You Will Need:

1 small tin of chick peas, drained and rinsed
10 Greek olives, chopped
¼ cup roasted red pepper, chopped
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1-teaspoon marjoram (dried)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
3 carrots, match-sticked
Olive oil

Heat a large frying pan and add a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, onions and garlic. Cook until softened, but not soft. Add everything else and more oil if needed to keep it from sticking and cook until everything is quite soft. Serve tossed with cooked pasta.

Sourdough French Bread

Was it worth re-injuring the disk in my neck to make these breads? Um, yes. Yes it was. They may not look like much (shaping isn't my strong area) but the crust crackled, the inside was chewy and moist and look at that crumb! As my husband pointed out, people would happily pay money for bread like this. It was, perfect. Except for the shaping, but eh, I can't fuss too much over that. I really wish I had some good cheese to eat with it. At least I have plenty of marmalade.

Here's what I did:

1 cup fed sourdough starter (I've been feeding it with First Clear Flour for the last couple feedings)
3 cups all purpose flour
1-tablespoon salt
1-tablespoon sugar
1-2 cups additional all purpose flour

To the fed starter add the sugar, salt and 3 cups all-purpose flour. Let sit, covered for 6 hours. Add additional flour ½ cup at a time leaving the dough much wetter than you think will work. At this point, you won't be so much kneading as using your fingers as a sort of mixer. Try to work it until it begins to form some gluten and then place it in a bowl. Cover the dough and let it rise 1 hour. Deflate the dough and fold it once in each direction and return to bowl for another hour. Remove and fold again. Let rest another hour. Remove, fold again and then let sit ten minutes. Divide and let sit another ten minutes.

Shape loaves and place on a cornmeal dusted baking sheet. Cover and let rise 1-2 hours or until almost doubled.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Slash loaves, create steam and load bread. Bake 20 minutes. Carefully open oven (stand aside in case any steam remains) and turn the sheet around. Bake another ten minutes. Check for doneness. This bread will be fine with an internal temperature of 210 degrees F. But don't burn it. You may need an additional ten minutes. Cool on racks.

Citrus Marmalade

We have very (very) hard water in our well and as a result, some of the jars look darker and cloudier than the contents. Once the jars are completely cooled I can wipe them clean with vinegar, which should restore the clear sparkling look to them.

This was quite a bit of work over two days, but in the end, five jars (1/2 pints) of homemade citrus marmalade is pretty rewarding. The recipe has grapefruit, orange and lemon for a nice, tart bite.

You Will Need:

1 ½ cups thinly sliced grapefruit peel
½ cup thinly sliced orange peel
3 quarts water, divided
1-½ cups chopped grapefruit pulp
¾ cup chopped orange pulp
½ cup thinly sliced lemons (seeds removed)

Combine orange and grapefruit peels in a pot and cover with 1 ½ quarts water. Boil five minutes, drain. Add fruit pulp and lemon slices and 1 ½ quarts water. Boil five minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let sit in a cool place 12-18 hours.

Cook rapidly until peel is tender. Measure the fruit. Use 1 cup sugar for each cup fruit mixture. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over high heat, and stir constantly. Reduce heat to medium and cook almost to gelling point. Keep stirring to avoid scorching and sticking. If it foams too much, reduce heat and keep cooking. When mixture is just before the gelling point, remove from heat. Skim any foam. Ladle into hot jars leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe clean; slide a spatula around to break any bubbles and place on lids. Adjust caps and process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Let cool on kitchen towels for 12-24 hours before testing for seal.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sour Cherry Pie

I had made some incredibly good vanilla ice cream earlier in the day-so I had to make a sour cherry pie to go with it (really, I had to. It was a pie emergency). Good thing I had a freezer full of pie cherries.

As you can see, it was a very juicy pie with very little thickening outside of a bit of flour. Usually, I make cornstarch-thickened fruit pies, but this seemed a better match with the ice cream. As soon as I took the first bite I knew my guess was correct. Forget about getting perfect looking slices (it won't happen) but scoop it up with a spoon and serve with plenty of sweet, fresh vanilla ice cream. It's like a July. Except that it is February. And there's a blizzard outside. Yay for pie and freezers to hold cherries!

You Will Need:

Pastry for a 1-crust pie (two, if you do a lattice)
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 cups frozen sour cherries
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon (I know that sounds odd, but trust me)
2 tablespoons butter, for dotting top
Cream and sugar for brushing crust

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients and then toss in cherries. Mix well to coat. Pour into prepared crust, dot with butter and top as desired. Brush crust with cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 35-40 minutes. You may need to cover the edge with foil if it browns too quickly.

Another Oatmeal Bread

Most of the oatmeal bread recipes out there have large amounts of milk and butter in them. This one replaces all that unhealthy milk and butter with large amounts of shortening and eggs. Hey, wait a minute…!

OK, so it isn't health food, even if it does contain a cup of oats-but the result is delicious and awfully pretty to look at. Just look at it! Until I saw it in the directions, it never occurred to me that dusting the inside of the pan with oatmeal would be so beautiful.

The recipe comes from Better Homes And Gardens Homemade Bread Book, 1973. They call it "Grandma's Oatmeal Bread" but as we've already discussed, my Granny preferred Wonder Bread (you just didn't get soft, white bread in Ukraine).

You Will Need:

4 ½ teaspoons granulated (not instant) yeast
½ cup warm water
1-¼ cups boiling water
1-cup oatmeal
½ cup light molasses (I used Full-Flavour Molasses because my husband prefers it)
1/3 cup solid shortening
1-tablespoon salt
5-6 cups flour (I used bread flour and needed about 5) You can use all-purpose if you like
2 beaten eggs
Extra oats for coating
1 egg white beaten with 1-tablespoon water

Dissolve yeast in ½ cup warm water and let proof. In a large bowl, combine boiling water, oats, molasses, shortening and salt. Cool to lukewarm. Add 2 cups of the flour and mix well. Add the eggs and yeast and combine thoroughly. Add the rest of the flour a cup at a time until you have a soft, but not sticky dough. Knead about ten minutes. Place in a greased bowl; turn once to coat and then cover. Let rise 1-2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Punch down and divide in half. Let rest, covered for ten minutes.

Grease generously two bread pans and sprinkle each with two tablespoons of oatmeal. Place in the loaves and cover. Let rise in a warm spot for 45-60 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush the loaves with the egg white/water mixture and sprinkle generously with extra oatmeal. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until done. I let mine bake until they reached an internal temperature of 190 degrees F. That took 35 minutes in my oven.

Cool on racks.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


The first of the chicks and ducklings have arrived at the farm store. I wasn't expecting them this early but as we walked to the back of the store in search of a shop lamp, the chirping kind of washed over me like a big old wave of springtime and we rushed back looking for the Rhode Island Reds and White Plymouth Rocks (those are breeds).

Oh, the ducks are too cute. Too, too cute. We have too many owls about and nowhere to bring them in at night, or I'd have brought a couple home with us. Maybe in a few years when Danny is older. Anyway, he found an older gentleman willing to listen to him babble at length about the details of various tractors and other assorted farm equipment. That was nice. They sort of bonded over the capabilities of a Belarus Tractor. And yes, I did buy him a couple new ERTL toys because he needed a bulldozer. Look, if a guy needs a bulldozer, who is his mama to argue? And a spreader. And some animals. But you know how it is in those places, the kids start out wanting circular saws and fencing and you end up compromising with a bulldozer. Could be worse I guess, he could be clamouring for a pig castrator.

So anyway, we were already well away from home and decided to pick up a few groceries. Apparently, the Super Nanny is in town trying to straighten out a family with three kids (I don't follow these things, but my understanding is that she is a sort of "life-coach" for a reality programme. I don't know, Google it if you're really
curious). Of course everyone in the neighbourhood is a-flutter because a celebrity has been in town, and they trailed her through the grocer with a camera crew and
screaming kids, etc. I've been getting over a really miserable cold so it was easier than usual to feign interest because all I had to do was stand there and nod with a dumb smile plastered to my face. Usually, my face gives me away.

One thing that really caught my eye was the meat department where they had a case of beef spareribs and rib roasts all bearing a sticker proclaiming:
"User Friendly Meat."
I'm starting to think I need to carry the camera with me when I go out-I'd have loved to use that as a banner on the blog.

I'm sure compared to the Super Nanny kids, Danny seems pretty tame-probably compared to most kids. It was strange, every turn we took in the store there was someone trying to give him something. Finally, we get to the check out and a young cashier (he couldn't have been more than 16) smiles at Danny and says:

"Hey little guy, you're such a good boy, these are for you."

-And hands him a box of Conversation Hearts and a Twinkie. A Twinkie! Honest to God. A Real one, not some generic knock-off .The sort of Twinkies my old man used to eat half a box at a time washed down with a bottle of Coke, when he didn't have time to stop for lunch (he drove a truck. Apparently that career path enables people to also consume two Hershey bars, the bottle of Coke and when Twinkies are not available, plain, hard doughnuts that have been sitting in the case at the gas station since early morning. And hot dogs, but that's another story, we were talking about cream-filled sponge cake.

Sure, the candy was useless to them after Valentine's Day, and the Twinkie probably cost them almost nothing, but that was a pretty good windfall for a short trip to the grocer. Hell, even Vic The Butcher didn't hand out Twinkies when I was a kid (but I did get a handful of lollipops presented to me as a bouquet each week). Then, they took our groceries out to the car for us. Seriously. It's like 1970 is alive and well and living in Havelock.

I'm sorry to report that Danny didn't care for the Twinkie and oddly; he claimed it made his mouth itch. I thought that was absurd, so I tasted a bit and surprisingly, it didn't taste as bad as I imagined it would, but about twenty seconds later my mouth started to itch. I should probably Google that, eh?

If you're not allergic to Twinkies, head over to the Russ' Market and mind your manners-maybe you'll get candy and cake too!

Friday, February 22, 2008

"Bartender, Make Mine A Sick Man's Pee"


"If there were only one glass of Sick Man's Pee" left in the world, with whom would you share it?"

OK, so posts like these are pretty clear examples why no one is beating down the door to offer me a book deal (not that I was looking for one, but after this post it surely ain't happening).

To Make A Sick Man's Pee, You Will Need:

Attractive glassware circa 1968

1 1/2 teaspoons caster sugar

1 ounce white rum

2 ounces brandy

squeeze of lemon

Enjoy a Sick Man's Pee whilst reading something by William S. Burroughs.

Journal Star Of The Sea Tilapia

Danny is responsible for the imaginative name of tonight's dish. The recipe came from the Journal Star, which you may find HERE, but for the longest time, me wee one has called the paper "The Journal Star Of The Sea." I've asked why, he can't seem to find a reason.

I rather like it, sort of like "Our Lady Star Of The Sea" without all the statues and candles (that was the parish church in my neighbourhood and it did overlook the sea (or the Chelsea side of the harbour anyway) and it was quite a lovely place. They used to leave it open all night until the time they found some fellow passed out in a pew covered in puke, and losing betting slips from Suffolk Downs strewn about him. After that, they started locking it at night to ensure that no one might seek refuge in a church when they hit bottom (!?). I don't think this is the reference Danny is using as he's only three and we moved, what, oh gosh seven years ago (insert comment about how time flies when you're sitting in the middle of a cornfield swatting at flies from the neighbour's cattle). Anyway, I think the name is charming and the paper ought to consider adopting it (it would fit in nicely with Nebraska's imaginary "Navy"). My, but I do tell long, roundabout stories don't I? Oh yes, fish, we were talking about the fish recipe at the Journal Star (of the Sea).

I made a few changes to the dish but they were very minimal. I skipped the peanuts and added parsley.

I served it with one of my better cous cous recipes, which follows at the bottom. The recipe makes quite a bit which is deliberate-I prefer it second day after the flavours get a chance to hang out together in the fridge (hey, you have no idea what goes on when the refrigerator light goes out. Talk about "food gone bad").

Yes, the photo is lousy. What? You're first noticing my lack of photography skills?

Cous Cous With Dried Fruit And Everything Else

You Will Need:

2 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 1/3 cups cous cous
1-tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped roasted red pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried minced garlic
¼ cup sultanas
1/8 cup chopped dried apricots
¼ cup raisins
1 tablespoon chopped crystalised ginger
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Pinch of dried mint

Simmer everything except the cous cous for about ten minutes until fruit is plumped. Bring to a boil. Stir in cous cous, remove from heat and cover. Let stand ten minutes. Fluff with fork before serving. See, I told you it was simple.


I've begun searching for a Simnel Cake recipe for Mothering Sunday that does not include the Marzipan (allergies). In the process of looking, I came to realise that of late, the cakes are held off for Easter Sunday rather than the fourth Sunday in Lent ("Mothering" Sunday). I suppose with waiting, one is freer to use rich items like eggs and butter but as it is essentially a fruitcake with a marzipan centre and topping, it really doesn't require very much dairy (if any at all).

I must admit to being flabbergasted at seeing some examples topped with marshmallow chicks and bunnies! The eleven balls are traditionally placed atop the cake to represent the true disciples (Judas gets left off, therefore only eleven balls). I'm not saying it's wrong (not exactly) or even inappropriate to top one's Simnel cake with Marshmallow Peeps, but it is disarming-at least that first glance. I know what you're thinking (oh, when will you guys just give up trying to stay one thought ahead of m? We've been blogging here for how long? Of course I know what you're thinking!) and no, I don't think re-creating The Last Supper from fondant and sugar paste to top the cake would be quite the thing I'm looking for either. Still, I am left with what to make the traditional round balls from, if not marzipan. It may well end up sugar paste, but I have a bit of time to think about it.

So. When does your family have their Simnel cake? 4th Sunday in Lent, or Easter? If you have a recipe you'd like to share, please feel free to post it in the comments as well…not that anyone ever leaves comments (Oh, once in a while Page does, but the rest of you are hurting my feelings. I know the blog gets hits from looking at the Tracker. Boo, hoo, hoo, sniffle, sniffle, "I'll be shoveling cake in my mouth between lonesome sobs if anyone needs me…boo hoo."

Pumpkin Ginger Lenten Cake

(and yes, that slice of cake IS on a Mary Poppins plate. I still have the matching cup too!)

This cake may be the winner from all of this year's and last's Lenten (eggless, milkless, butterless) cakes. The two cups of mashed pumpkin help it retain moisture, and it's hard not to love a recipe with ¼ cup of chopped, crystalised ginger. I'm a little sorry I didn't try it with butternut squash as I have some and that might also have been interesting.

This cake is flexible so long as the general proportions are kept. The recipe I adapted called for chocolate chips and nuts (with pumpkin? Oh, ick) but currants and ginger managed quite well in exchange. If you use raisins, I wouldn't soak them, as that will alter the moisture content of the cake, which is already pretty dense with the pumpkin and oil.

You Will Need:

3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups tinned pumpkin
1-cup oil
1-¼ cups dried currants
¼ cup dried, crystalised ginger, finely chopped

Grease and flour a large bundt pan or two large loaf pans. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Add the oil and pumpkin and mix very well (the batter is pretty stiff so you may prefer to use an electric mixer). Fold in the currants and ginger.

Spoon evenly into pan and bake in the centre rack of the oven for an hour. Check for doneness-the cake may take up to an hour and fifteen minutes, so keep checking it.

Cool 10 minutes in pan, then unmould onto a rack and cool completely before glazing or dusting with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Multi-Grain Sourdough Bread With Sunflower Seeds

I'm still experimenting with sourdough starter. When I fed the starter last night before bed I didn't realise that I would wake this morning feeling like my lungs were being pulled out through my ribcage. That was unpleasant. Kneading dough was really the last thing I felt like doing today and I ended up letting the sponge ferment much longer than usual (so I could do other important things like sleep). This worked out well. I also improvised the ingredients adding a cup of whole-wheat flour and ¾ cup rye flour. I had my First Clear flour on the counter but realised I didn't need it. I don't know why I added the sunflower seeds other than I'd seen it somewhere else and in my flu-induced stupour it seemed like a good idea. Thankfully, they didn't burn. I suppose the addition of seeds will reduce the shelf-life of the bread though as I've pointed out previously, sourdough doesn't get a chance to go stale in our house.

You Will Need:

1 cup fed starter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-tablespoon salt
1-tablespoon sugar
1-cup whole-wheat flour
¾ cup rye flour
Additional all-purpose or first clear flour if needed
1-2 cups sunflower seeds

In a large bowl combine the fed starter with 3 cups all-purpose flour. Let sit six hours covered lightly with plastic.

Stir in the salt and sugar. Add the whole-wheat flour and rye flour and as much all-purpose as needed though you'll want to keep the dough rather wet if not sticky. It will firm up as you knead.

Because of the rye flour it will take a bit of work to really develop the gluten properly. I ended up kneading (and slapping and generally tossing it about) for close to twenty minutes.

Place in a lightly covered bowl until doubled-about 3 hours.

Divide dough in two and shape into loaves. Try not to over-work the dough. Toss a baking sheet generously with cornmeal and place the loaves on it. Lightly spray or brush the loaves with water and cover with sunflower seeds (use your hands to firmly stick seeds to the sides. Use more than you think you'll need, as a good number of them will fall off as the loaves rise).

Cover loaves lightly and set in a warm spot to rise-about two hours.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. If using a pan to create steam, preheat it in oven bottom.

Use whatever method you prefer to create steam. Slash loaves and load the sheet into the oven. Bake twenty minutes. Rotate sheet and bake another ten or until deep golden brown and hollow, or bread reaches an internal temperature of around 200 degrees F.

Cool completely on racks before slicing.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Meatless Dinner On Grilled Bread

This filling meatless supper was put together quickly out of adaptable ingredients. I had a package of vegetarian chicken strips and half a block of Feta cheese that needed to be used, so I built a sandwich around them. Some carrots and waxy, white potatoes roasted in olive oil and herbs rounded out the meal. Rather than try to stuff the filling into sandwiches, I dried out slices of sourdough bread in a low oven and then sautéed them lightly in olive oil until browned. As a base for hearty fillings it is hard to find anything better than grilled bread, at least to my tastes. It almost feels foolish to post a recipe for such a thrown-together meal, but here it is-feel free to substitute with whatever you have on hand.

You Will Need:

Stale slices of bread, crusts removed
Olive oil for sautéing and roasting
Fresh rosemary, dried thyme, dried marjoram, salt and pepper to taste
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 package of mushrooms, sliced
10 black olives, chopped
¼ cup roasted red pepper, chopped
½ cup chunked Feta cheese
Vegetarian chicken strips

In a 200-degree F. oven, place the bread slices on a baking sheet and dry out for 15 minutes. Turn, and dry another 10. Remove and place in a generously oiled (olive oil) frying pan over medium heat (watch to make sure it does not begin to smoke) and brown. Turn and repeat on other side. Remove to a plate until ready to use.

Turn oven up to 425 degrees F. In a bowl mix potatoes, carrots and any herbs you like with a generous amount of olive oil. Toss to coat and them spread on a baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes, then using a thin spatula (sometimes potatoes can stick) stir and turn. Repeat for another 15 minutes. Stir. Continue cooking until soft (all told, about 30 minutes).

While vegetables roast, cook the onion, mushrooms, red peppers and olives in a frying pan in a bit of olive oil. In the last five minutes, stir in the Feta and cook over low heat until it is just warmed through. In another small pan, cook the vegetarian chicken 2 minutes each side over medium heat. Reduce heat and cook a few minutes longer (or follow directions for microwaving on package). Serve over grilled bread with roasted vegetables as a side. Dijon mustard is also nice with this.

A Plain White Sourdough Recipe

It's been about three weeks now that I've been working with the new starter and so far the results have been good. Last week, I even made a batch of rye bread while I still had the potato-starter rye around for comparison. The sour taste is stronger and the overall rye bread is heavier, but it really seems to shine when toasted or used to make a grilled cheese sandwich.

For sourdough breads, they seem to keep exceptionally well before going stale-something I've complained about with store-bought sourdough. I haven't seen how they stand up to freezing yet as they don't hang around long enough to be frozen. Rarely do we finish every last bit of a loaf of bread without resorting to croutons or breadcrumbs-not the sourdough however. I literally cannot bake these fast enough.

So here is what can be considered a very basic recipe and much to my surprise, it works best with all-purpose flour. We like our breads crusty on the outside, but if you prefer a softer crust; skip the steam in the oven.

You Will Need:

1 cup fed starter
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
5-6 cups all-purpose flour
1-tablespoon salt
1-tablespoon sugar

Place the cup of fed starter in a large bowl. Add the warm water and stir to break it up a bit. Add three cups of the flour, stir very well and cover. At this point you need to let the sponge sit, and the length of time it sits will determine the level of sourness. You need at least two hours at roughly 70 degrees to accomplish a working sponge. I've found that four hours is adequate for a level of sour that does not overwhelm the bread. This works well as it is also the length of time my re-fed starter needs to sit before going back in the fridge. Setting one timer is always easier to keep track of. You can let it sit up to eight hours but you probably don't want to.

After the dough is happily bubbling away and growing larger, stir in the salt, sugar and as much flour as you can add without it becoming dry. The wetter the dough, the larger your crumb will be, generally. You must knead this dough very well, or it will be flat and wide as it rises. I find it a bit more difficult to develop gluten in this bread than others, perhaps owing to the all purpose flour. My advice is to slap the living hell out of this dough as you knead. You should also feel free to scream, "I'm still waiting for my engagement ring after fifteen years of marriage", or maybe, "Pick up your socks you slob", but that's of course optional. "Pain Levain" indeed (if you don't know us personally that joke will make no sense).

Place the dough back in the bowl and let rise another two hours or more until doubled. This bread rises quite slowly; so don't be shocked if it takes three hours particularly if your kitchen is cold.

Remove the dough, divide into two loaves and place on cornmeal dusted baking sheets. Let rise another 1-2 hours until not quite doubled.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees (yes, that's quite hot). If you use a pan to create steam, heat it at the same time. When loaves are risen, slash and place in oven. Create steam if desired and bake 20-30 minutes or until golden and hollow sounding when rapped. I baked them to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F. but 190 wouldn't hurt if you like your bread a bit drier.

Cool completely before eating. The flavour will develop fully if allowed to sit overnight. You may be surprised to find the bread increase in sourness by the next day-this is normal.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Root Beer

I suppose the problem with owning a set of The Family Creative Workshop, is that sooner or later you start trying the projects. I also have a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe for root beer that calls for raisins.

I figure, if this goes well it is only a short step to making the fermented wintergreen drink. Yeah, that's what I thought too, but you could do worse than drinking evergreen sap, I guess. At least you brewed it yourself.

There is a small amount of alcohol created in the fermentation process so Danny won't be partaking of any. I'm sure he won't miss it-I made root-beer floats once with root beer from a bottle and he looked at me as though I'd committed a mortal sin defiling homemade ice cream that way. He isn't one for carbonation, which I guess is good-I don't buy soda but a few times a year.

I plan to make both recipes and we'll give them a taste-test before posting the recipes. It takes a few days to ferment. Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Daytona 500 Day Cookies

Actually, that's a character from a children's movie, but what the hell. And no, I'm not watching the race.

I've made these before, and out of the blue Danny requested them again today. It's not my best decorating work but eh, they're cookies. Hard to find fault with that.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Vanilla Lenten Cake With Blueberry Sauce

This week's Lenten cake features a strong vanilla flavour and is topped with leftover fruit sauce (see yesterday's post for recipe). Considering what it lacks (eggs, milk, butter) is still rather moist and flavourful. The cake would be suitable for vegetarians or people with dairy allergies as well. You can make this cake chocolate by substituting 6 tablespoons of powdered cocoa and reducing the vanilla to two teaspoons.

You Will Need:

3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups water
2 tablespoons white vinegar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 pan. Sift dry ingredients together. Add all the liquid ingredients and once and mix well. Pour immediately into pan and bake 30-45 minutes (I know, that's quite a range but vinegar risen cakes are temperamental) or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan. Top with powdered sugar or fruit sauce.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Blood Orange Ice Cream With Blueberry/Lemon Sauce

The light in here after dinner did not help the pictures any. That's too bad actually, as the blood orange ice cream and blueberry/lemon sauce had the most beautiful colours.

For the sauce:

1 bag frozen blueberries

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

In a bowl, toss the sugar atop the blueberries and let stand until soft. With a potato masher, break the berries up a bit. Add the water and lemon juice and transfer to a heavy saucepan.

Cook over medium heat until reduced to a sauce. Cool before using.

For the Ice Cream:

1/2 cup blood orange juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup caster sugar

1 cup heavy cream

Mix well, process in ice cream maker according to directions. Freeze in containers for a few hours. Let stand at room temperature five minutes before scooping.

Onion Rolls

I thought these onion rolls would go well with pot roast cooked in wine. These are substantial rolls with onion both inside and as a topping. I made mine a bit on the large side and still came away with sixteen-I suspect you could easily stretch this to twenty.

The recipe is originally from Better Homes And Gardens Homemade Bread Cook Book, 1973 edition. I changed the recipe a bit (particularly the topping). The original did not call for olive oil but I think it was a good addition.

You Will Need:

2-½ cups all-purpose flour
4 ½ teaspoons granulated (not instant) yeast
2-¼ cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons dried, minced onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 egg
3-31/2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup water
2 tablespoons dried, minced onion
½ teaspoon poppy seeds
Pinch salt
¼ teaspoon paprika

1 egg plus 2 tablespoons water for wash

In a mixing bowl, combine 21/2 cups all purpose flour and yeast. Heat the milk, sugar, onion, oil, mustard and salt and pepper in a pan until just lukewarm. Pour into dry mixture in bowl. Add the egg. Mix on low speed for ½ a minutes, scraping down sides. Then, beat three minutes at high speed.

By hand, mix in remaining 3 cups flour adding as much as needed to make stiff dough. Knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover and let rise about 1 hour or until doubled.

Turn dough out on counter and divide in half. Then divide each half into 8-10 balls. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

Shape into smooth balls and flatten to 3-inch rounds. Place on greased baking sheets and let rise another 2-30 minutes or until almost doubled in bulk.

Prepare the topping and let sit to absorb water.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place racks towards centre (you will need to shift the sheets halfway through baking unless you're one of those lucky folks with a double oven). Beat the egg with the water and brush on risen rolls. Spread the topping on rolls and bake for ten minutes. Switch positions on racks and bake another ten minutes or until done. Cool on racks.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Say What?!

Flipping through my old issues of Gourmet looking for something interesting to bake, I stumbled on this ad from 1971 for macadamia nuts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Conversation Cookies

Oh look, cookies. They remind me of those funny little hearts with the sayings.

Oh. Well, that's not very nice, is it?
Gee, someone is having a bad day.

Hey! That's getting a little personal, dont you think?
Well, I never!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Braised Red Cabbage With Currants

In the market last Friday, Danny pointed and asked:

"What's the purple vegetable?"

Pretty soon it was in my cart, though I hadn't any real plans for it. I found THIS recipe which sounded good (and healthy as it has no butter or oil). I'm pleased to report that it was wonderful and very, very easy to prepare.

I had pierogi still frozen from the last time I made them, and some sourdough rye bread. With a generous serving of sour cream (Am I the only person that thinks sour cream on a slice of rye bread is the best lunch there is?) it came together as a hearty dinner on a very cold Nebraska evening.

Pink Meringues

I just realised I could eat the entire batch of these cute little meringues and no one would ever know (Danny's napping, Papa's at work). It's tempting.

The recipe I was working was terrible (even as I read it I kept thinking, "Gee that sounds wrong"). I tossed the first batch and started over (I had quite a few egg whites in the fridge that needed to be used) following my baker's gut sense. Subsequent batches were much better.

You Will Need:

2 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
A few drops of red food colouring
¾ cup caster sugar

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or silicone pads. If you must butter the sheets, do so lightly.

Beat together the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks form. Add the food colouring and continue beating, very slowly adding the caster sugar (really, go very slow). When egg whites are very stiff, stir in the vanilla as gently as possible.

Drop by teaspoonful on baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Baking time will vary depending on size. Begin checking after 25 minutes, but they can take as long as 45 minutes. The cookies should just begin to brown on the bottom, but not on the top. You don't want them bone-dry as they should have a bit of chew.

Cool on racks.

Eat before the rest of the family knows you made meringues, or they'll want you to share.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Strawberry Bavarian

Guess what I was making at 4:30 this morning? Well yes, coffee is a given, but I was thinking of something with a bit more eggs and fruit. That may sound like a horrible hour to be puttering in the kitchen but for anything complicated it is ideal. Perhaps others can make multi-stepped dishes with a child running about, but I cannot. Egg custards and children just don't work because that fraction of a second you turn your back to find whatever toy he needs immediately and well, you're scraping burnt egg off your good enameled pot. So 4:30 it was.

I'd been promising Danny a strawberry Bavarian for quite some time now (background story, HERE) and when the first beautiful Florida strawberries hit the store shelves this week, I figured it was Bavarian time. The berries were affordable too, which made it all the nicer.

The recipe comes from the April 1973 issue of Gourmet. I don't own any fancy 2-quart moulds (though I have over a dozen 1 quart sized-go figure) so I used my soufflé dish and it unmoulded easily. It did however; require a bit more decorating that it would have in a fancy mould.

The original recipe wanted ½ cup chopped peaches, ½ cup diced pineapple and ½ cup diced strawberries. I didn't feel like fiddling around with cooking pineapple (so the gelatin would set) so I used all strawberry instead. I think this was a good call; particularly this time of year when any peaches to be found would be rather tasteless. I also omitted the 3 tablespoons of kirsch, as I didn't want to overwhelm the strawberry flavour from these wonderfully fresh berries. With a mixture of fruit I can see where the added depth would be a good idea but again, with strawberries, the small bit of vanilla in the recipe seemed adequate.

The Bavarian really needs to set for a number of hours before unmoulding and serving. We spent the day at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa. 3 year old+ train simulator=hours of fun whilst Bavarian sits at home in the icebox chilling. The museum is run by volunteers and is free. I enthusiastically recommend it should you ever find yourself in Council Bluffs, Iowa with time to kill.

You Will Need:

6 egg yolks
¾ cup caster sugar
1-½ cups scalded whole milk
2 tablespoons gelatin softened in 1/3 cup cold water and 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups ripe strawberries washed and hulled and put through a food mill.
1 ½ cups chopped strawberries to fold in
1-cup heavy cream
Oil to brush mould
Extra strawberries to garnish

Beat six egg yolks, slowly adding sugar until it is pale and ribbons when beaters are lifted. Slowly (in dribbles, really) pour the scalded milk into the mixture, whisking constantly. Transfer to a saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and coats a spoon. Do not let it simmer. Remove pan from heat and stir in the gelatin softened in the water and vanilla. Stir the custard until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Pour it through a sieve into a bowl (you'll be surprised at the tiny bits you get out). Let it cool until it thickens, but do not let it begin to set.

Put the two cups of strawberries through a food mill. Add the diced strawberries. When the custard has cooled, fold in the fruit mixture, combining well. Whip the cream until it holds very stiff peaks. Fold into the custard/fruit mixture.

With a pastry brush, lightly oil the mould and then pour the mixture into it. Cover with foil and let sit at least four hours before unmoulding. All I needed was a thin knife around the perimeter, but you may need to dip it in water for a few seconds to unmould. Garnish with fresh or glaced strawberries.
*Update-Danny didn't care for it. He politely ate a few bites and asked if he could "save some for later." I'll be in my bedroom banging my head against the wall if anyone needs me.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Garbanzo Bean/Chick Pea Salad With Red Peppers And Olives

We eat quite a lot of garbanzo beans/chick peas at our house. No wonder, they work so well in so many different dishes. From curries to humus, they find their way to our table at least once a week. Here's a dish Danny invented when he asked that the salad include both green olives ("with tongues") and roasted red peppers.

You Will Need:

4 cups cooked garbanzo beans/chick peas
1 onion, chopped
½ cup roasted red pepper, chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
¼ cup sliced green olives
Salt and pepper to taste

Remove as many of the skins as possible from the garbanzo beans, but don't feel you need to get nuts about it-a few won't ruin the salad. In a pan, heat the olive oil, onion, red pepper, olives and spices. Cook until onions are soft over low heat. Add chickpeas and coat well. Cook a few more minutes and then adjust seasonings. Chill, but bring to room temperature before serving.

Baked Cod

I feel like I ought to give this dish a pretentious name like "Herb and Parmesan Crusted Cod, but then I'd feel stupid telling you that the most important part of the crust is the fake butter flavoured crackers. It doesn't matter which brand-I bought Town House because they were on sale and I'll never use them for anything other than baking fish, but if you prefer Ritz, feel free to substitute.

This is such an easy way to prepare fish and I owe the thanks for the recipe to the East Boston fishmonger on Sumner Street who taught me how to bake cod nearly sixteen years ago. The only fish I'd eaten with regularity at home were tinned salmon and whitefish. On special occasions we might get rainbow trout, but even that was served cold. In fact, until I was an adult it never occurred to me that people eat fish hot. It wasn't bad served cold, particularly the whitefish, which is a very thin, tender variety.

Now, this recipe is simple enough to throw together in a short time, but you'll be happier if you do some of the prep work ahead. Get your crackers crushed and the parsley chopped early in the day and then it really will be a matter of throwing dinner together in a flash.

A note about cod depending on the piece you get, there will be part that is thicker. Cut that part off as soon as it is finished and cover the plate with foil to keep warm. You'll be happier this way than sacrificing it to overcooking for the sake of the wider, thicker part of the filet. In a 425-degree oven this should take about 10-15 minutes. Watch it closely and when the fish flakes easily-get it out immediately.

You Will Need:

Cod Filets (this recipe will do a couple pounds)
2 cups crushed buttery-flavoured crackers like Ritz or Townhouse
½ cup chopped, fresh parsley
1 lemon, quartered
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon chervil
½ teaspoon tarragon
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten

Crush the crackers in a plastic bag with a rolling pin. Dump crackers in a bowl. Add the parsley, thyme, chervil, tarragon, salt and pepper and Parmesan cheese.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Rinse fish and pat dry. Coat with egg and then with cracker/herb mixture. Place half of the butter cubes in the bottom of the baking dish. Place the fish atop the butter and then add remaining crumbs to the top of fish. Dot with remaining butter. Take 1 wedge of lemon and squeeze it over the fish.

Bake until fish flakes easily-about 10-15 minutes. Serve hot.

*The veg is asparagus that was steamed then sauteed in olive oil with garlic, black olives and Feta cheese.

Orange Raisin Lenten Cake

Well, here it is-the first Lenten cake of 2008. Until Easter, Friday Cakeblogging will be Lenten cakeblogging and here's a great way to start.

This cake has no eggs, butter, or milk yet is moist and flavourful due to 2 1/2 cups of orange juice (I juiced fresh Cara Cara oranges which worked well). The recipe called for cognac, but that didn't seem like a good use for it so I increased the orange juice. I also added a splash of orange flower water.

Instead of the half cup of chopped nuts, I added a 1/2 cup raisins to the sultanas already called for. This gave the cake some colour. I also skipped the powdered sugar because I have a very messy three year old and didn't feel like having it everywhere. If I'd thought of it, I'd have added some juice and flower water to the glaze as well.

I also think ginger could be substituted (use about half the amount called for in the recipe for cinnamon) if you're one of those freaks that dislikes cinnamon. If you are one of those freaks that dislike oranges as well...this probably isn't a recipe for you-check back next week.

The recipe may be found HERE.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Kota Kapama (Chicken In Tomato Sauce)

Tonight's recipe returns to the stack of old Gourmet magazines. This one is from April of 1972.

I'm guessing that the readers of Gourmet in 1972 knew a good bit more about cooking than readers today. I'll try to give a bit more explanation so that readers unfamiliar with "make a roux" will have a bit of guidance.

So how was it? Well, it was much better than vegetarian chicken substitute, but I guess that isn't too surprising. The addition of ¼ cup of olive oil didn't hurt either. We rather enjoyed it. The tomato sauce was light enough that it didn't turn the dish into spaghetti with chicken. Rather, the tomatoes worked well with the oil and lemon juice. The cinnamon might sound off here, but it really does give the dish depth.

The original recipe called for dry white wine. I've given up on finding a dry white wine we like enough to keep on hand. I don't really care for it and instead I've resolved to use extra dry vermouth in its place. This has worked out quite well for us.

You Will Need:

A 3-pound frying chicken cut into quarters
Juice of 1 lemon
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1-teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup olive oil
1-tablespoon butter
1 large onion, diced
½ cup dry white wine or vermouth
1/3 cup boiling water
1-tablespoon butter
1-tablespoon flour
1-cup water
1 cup drained Italian plum tomatoes (I used tinned)
1-cup tomato sauce
¼ cup dry white wine or vermouth (again)
½ teaspoon additional cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Cooked pasta

Cut a chicken into quarters and place in a large bowl. Cover with the lemon juice, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Let sit 15 minutes.

In a very large skillet, heat the olive oil and brown the chicken pieces. Remove browned chicken pieces to a plate. Add 1-tablespoon butter to pan and fry the onion until soft and golden. Return the chicken to the pan, add 1/3 cup wine and simmer the chicken gently, covered for 15 minutes.

Add 1/3 cup water and cook the chicken 15 minutes longer.

In a saucepan, melt 1-tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add 1-tablespoon flour and with a whisk, quickly blend together to make a roux. Cook the roux for about 1 minute, taking care to keep it moving. Slowly add the water, whisking as you go. Blend well. Add the tomato sauce, ¼ cup wine, cinnamon, and salt and pepper. Add the plum tomatoes last. Cook the sauce gently, stirring regularly for 10 minutes. Blend in the Parmesan cheese. Pour sauce over chicken. Cover, and cook another 15 minutes until tender and sauce is well incorporated. Serve over pasta.

Sourdough Bread Attempt Number Two

Looking better. This time I used bread flour, which really helped with crust development. I'll let it settle overnight before cutting and tasting. Update soon.

Candied Peel Circa 1971

Here's another peek into the set of Gourmet magazines. This one was from November of 1971. That's a whole lot of candied peel there. Attractive though.
I think that was the Christmas I got the Bobby Sherman record with the blue cover. I'm pretty sure I didn't want it but there was a song on the record with my name in it-so my mum bought it. That happened when Donovan did his song with my name in it as well, but that record was actually hard to get and my mum had to bribe a DJ to send it to her. When I was born, my name was unusual enough that no one knew how to spell it. Then, maybe a decade later it really became popular. This has worked out great for me, as people tend to knock about ten years off my age (at least until they see me in person!).
Anyhoo, I'm pretty sure I wasn't making candied peel (and it's a safe bet no one else in our household was either). I was probably playing with my Chrissy doll, which eventually turned the oddest shade of green, sort of like a faded tattoo (because she was probably made of petro-chemicals, for cryin' out loud).