Monday, December 26, 2016

Sweet Potato Cake


One of the greatest joys of the Christmas season is giving gifts, isn't that what everyone says.  Its true. I was thinking back over the last few months and the challenges we have faced as a family. Challenges I never thought would be realities.  But then do we ever 'expect' these kinds of things? Some days its like moving through mud.  Taking one moment at a time because a day seems overwhelming. Temporarily denying things because it hurts too much to think about. Laughing with friends to dull the pain.  Keeping busy and distracted by the season.

The real exciting thing for me this Christmas was being able to give my children moments of simple joy, opening presents.  So simple. So needed. It wasn't like in years past.  What was different this year?  The feeling was so very  focused for me on that exact moment when I could see the smile, the joy, the excitement crossing their faces. Maybe it was just the sharp contrast of the deep sadness I have been feeling with the moments of elation.  It was magical.

Sweet Potato Cake
In my next venture with this cake, because there will seriously be a next time, I will use 4 egg whites, 1 cup sugar, a pinch more cream of tartar and a whole teaspoon of vanilla.  Why? I could not stop stealing a bit here and there of the frosting, the kids couldnt stop.  There just needs to be more of it! Hubba, hubba, hubba!

1 1/2 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (1 stick or 115 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (190 grams) packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Frosting
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (will help stabilize egg whites, don’t worry if you don’t have it)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of an 8- to 9-inch square pan with parchment paper, then butter the paper and sides of the pan. Or you could use nonstick spray.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add vanilla and eggs, and beat until just combined. Mix in sweet potato puree, then stir in dry ingredients just until they disappear.

Spread batter in prepared pan, and bake cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let cake rest in pan for 5 minutes on a cooling rack, then invert onto cooling rack, and let cool completely.

Make frosting:
Place egg whites, granulated sugar, a pinch of salt and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Whisk mixture for 3 minutes, until whites are warmed. Remove bowl from top of saucepan, then, with an electric mixer, beat egg white mixture on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 4 to 7 minutes longer. Add vanilla and mix until combined.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Breakfast Pizza

I liked mine sprinkled with Frank's Red Hot Sauce.
This was a Sunday morning breakfast that really should have been a Sunday brunch.  Packed with protein and deliciousness, it also packs a bacon fat punch.  But hey, I had to give it a try. It was a treat.

My daughter had her friend J over.  Love giving her treats because she is such a full of gratitude kind of girl.  I love that about her.  Everyone loves seeing gratitude in people don't they?  Entitlement is such a turn off.  At least for me.  Seeing J enjoy a meal and smiling about it gives me such joy.  Isn't that what being a cook is all about.  At least for me, when I make a meal for someone and they really enjoy it, it makes me feel good.  I accomplished something.
BREAKFAST PIZZA
If your bacon and dough is already made then this pizza is a snap.  I will write it as if you don't. Pizza dough recipe underneath.  It is a make ahead pizza dough but if you want to make it the same day then you could use this recipe instead.

6-8 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
dash of Tabasco (optional)
1 pound bacon
1 pound mozzarella

Preheat your oven to 450F.  Make sure there is a rack on the bottom of the oven.

While the oven is heating, roll out your dough.  Either put cornmeal on your pan or nonstick cooking spray.

Top with mozzarella.

In a bowl, combine eggs with milk and beat with a fork or whisk.  Warm frying pan and put a little butter or oil in it, coating the bottom.  Pour eggs in.  Keep pulling the cooked egg on bottom to the top.  Don't over cook them, undercook!  The eggs will continue baking in the oven when they are on the pizza.  Season eggs with salt and pepper.  Even better with a dash of Tabasco.

Break up eggs into small pieces, scatter all over pizza.

Top with bacon all around.

Bake on bottom shelf of oven.


OVERNIGHT BASIC PIZZA DOUGH

Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour
1 3/4 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup (2 ounces/60g) olive oil
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 tablespoon sugar
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


Method:
1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

On the second day:
8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Concord Grape Jam

 

There is nothing like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich but my favorite jelly with peanut butter is by far grape jelly.  So much flavor bursting in your mouth.  I know I am not alone on this one is there is jars of peanut butter already mixed with grape jelly.  My roommate way back int he day use to buy it and eat it by the spoonful!



This grape jelly, the one you can make at home if you have access to Concord Grapes is phenomenal. But here is the exciting news, you can even make it with frozen concentrate grape juice.  Yeah! Wowzer!  Just reconstitute it and follow the recipe below as usual, omitting the water in the recipe.

Concord Grape Jelly

3 pounds of Concord Grapes
1/2 cup water

4 cups Concord Grape Juice (that you extracted or from concentrate)
7 cups sugar
pectin powder or liquid directions to follow.

Take the grapes off the stems and place them in a heavy bottom sauce pan or soup pot.  Pour in a half cup water.  Using a potato masher, squash the grapes.  If you do not have a potato masher, you can use your hands.  Just get them all squashed.  Bring the grape to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

While the grapes are simmering away, prepare a colander lined with cheese cloth. Place it over a pot or a bowl that it can drain into it.  It has to be large enough to hold all the grapes. I used a fine mesh colander and did not need to use cheesecloth.  Yeah!

Once it is done simmering, pour the grapes into your cheesecloth line colander or a fine mesh strainer.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Freezing Pumpkin Puree and 15 Things To Do with it!

When you find small pumpkins, usually pie pumpkins or another variety (or other squashes you like, such as Honey Nut, tastes a lot like pumpkin but sweeter), you can freeze them.  It's really handy to reach in the freezer and grab one that is already measured in a two cup portion for most recipes.  Or grab a container and make pumpkin soup.  The hard part is over.  All you have to do is put it in your pot.


Here are some of the recipes I have made with pumpkin puree or squash (interchangeable for the most part).  If you have leftover pumpkin puree from Thanksgiving, great, it will work in these recipes too!


Smoked Gruyere and Butternut Squash Scones



Pumpkin Rolls



Browned Butter Pumpkin Cake



Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies



Ginger Pumpkin Pie



French Pumpkin Soup



Curried Butternut Squash Soup



Butternut Squash Bread



Butternut Squash Soup with Apples and Gouda



Roasted Butternut Squash with Bacon 



Positively Butternut Squash Pizza



Pumpkin Almond Bars



Pumpkin Pie Snickerdoodle Bars



Pumpkin Pie Bars



Pumpkin Cheesecake

You can find more recipes for squash and pumpkin be searching in my search bar.  There are so many!

How To Do The Puree


I cut the pumpkins in half and scoop out the innards with a ice cream scoop, it is the perfect tool for the job. I like to lay them on parchment paper on the baking sheet.  This makes clean up a whole lot easier.  You can use aluminum foil but have to be careful about it sticking to the squash.

Roast at 425F in middle of the oven.  When you can push on the pumpkin and it totally gives, then it is ready to be taken out.

Scoop all the fleshy parts away fromt he skin with a large spoon, scraping as much as you can.

Place in a food processor or blender to puree. Measure out how you like and freeze.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving


“Whatever our individual troubles and challenges may be, it’s important to pause every now and then to appreciate all that we have, on every level. We need to literally “count our blessings,” give thanks for them, allow ourselves to enjoy them, and relish the experience of prosperity we already have.” — Shakti Gawain
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” — Albert Schweitzer
“You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach






Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Vietnamese Carrot and Daikon Radish Pickle (Do Chun)



I was through with canning.  I put away my canner, I put away my lids and rings and warded off any future canning projects because I was done for the season.  Done I tell you!  Then I went crazy buying carrots at the market last week and I have this daikon radish in my fridge and well, I have no room in my fridge at present because I have been roasting squash and freezing it lately.  I actually have a pretty small fridge.  Its filled with end of the summer pickles.  Had to get those in before all the cukes were gone.   

I was left with no choice.  Can it!  I had to.  Noooooo. 

I will be grateful.  After Thanksgiving is over and I want some new fresh taste, I will pull out one of these sweet little jars and have me a Banh Mi sandwich.  Maybe even a turkey Banh Mi!


Vietnamese Carrot and Daikon Pickle  (Do Chun)
Adapted from this recipe via Ball Canning.  One of the best sources of info on canning.

You can do any size.  If you just want to do one jar, cut it way back and why bother even canning it. Put it in your fridge and in a week, you will have a tasty pickle to pair with your Vietnamese food or to go on your Bahn Mi sandwich.  Just make sure your vinegar ratio is 2:1 and your water sugar is 2:1.  1 tablespoon or more of salt per cup.

2 pounds carrots
2 pounds daikon radish
3 cups white vinegar
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 clove garlic per jar
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes per jar

Heat vinegar, water, sugar and salt.  While you are waiting for that to come to a boil. 
Cut carrots and daikon into matchstick sizes. 

Clean/sterilize jars and lids that you will be canning in.  Fill jars with your matchstick carrots and daikon.  Add 1/4 teaspoon or more chili flakes and a clove of garlic to each jar.  If you like a lot of heat add more chili flakes.

Once your liquid has boiled for a couple minutes, pour it into your jars, distributing evenly. If I am rally close but do not have quite enough liquid I will fill the jars with a little more vinegar.  If you are like a 1/4 inch from where you are suppose to be lets say.  

Fill jars to a 1/4 inch head space.  Place lids on and rings.

Process 10 minutes. 


Sunday, November 13, 2016

LEMON ZUCCHINI BREAD

Aren't these flowers beautiful?  Such a beautiful arrangement.  My husbands work team sent this when my Father passed.  I loved the colors and the flowers chosen, the way they went with each other.  I always admire the people that arrange these bouquets.   Thank you.  It was a source of quiet joy.
If you have any zucchini, these are a sweet to behold.  So delicious. If you don't have cake flour you can substitute with 2 tablespoons corn starch or arrow root in the bottom of a measuring cup and fill the remainder with flour.  Its best to have sifted flour but at least spoon the flour into the measuring cup.  Yes, it makes a difference.  This is why I wish all our recipes were like the English, measured with weight.  It's so much more accurate.  I think foodies should start a movement...  We could call it, Wait, let's Weight!  Aren't I clever?  Ha!

 LEMON ZUCCHINI BREAD

2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
1⅓ cups sugar
2 tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup buttermilk
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup grated zucchini

Glaze ingredients:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoon lemon juice

Mix flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs;  add oil and sugar until well blended. Add lemon juice, buttermilk, lemon zest to this mixture and blend all together.

Fold in zucchini until it is mixed well. Mix dry ingredients to the batter and mix until well combined. Do not over mix.

Pour batter into greased  9 x 5  loaf pan.

Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes.

When cake is still warm, pour glaze over the bread. Let the cake cool to room temperature.



Friday, November 11, 2016

Smoked Gruyere and Butternut Squash Scones

There is no sugar in these scones.  So good, so warm, so Autumn like comforting.  This will not be the last time I make these babies.

I have been so busy working the harvest I so gratefully have acquired.  Not a lot of time for anything else.  I feel like Autumn just passed me by in a huff.  There was also the time I spent with my Father as he lived his last days.  I feel like I am running behind, freezing and preparing food to be put up.  In between there have been a few moments to bake and this was one such moment well spent making these scones.

Smoked Gruyere and Butternut Squash Scones


1 stick butter 4 ounces
2 teaspoons sage
1/4 cup minced dried onions
1 cup pumpkin or butternut squash, roasted and pureed or canned
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cooked and crumbled bacon (optional)
7 ounces smoked Gruyere, reserving some for the tops of the scones

With a pastry mixer/fork or a food processor mix sage, dried onions, salt, flour, baking powder and baking soda together.  Then add butter and blend.  In a separate bowl combine, squash puree, buttermilk, heavy cream and egg.  Once the dry mixture with the butter has reached a mealy stage add in the liquid, pretty much just to combine.  Then add in the bacon and Gruyere and mix just enough to combine.

Spoon into scone pan.  If you dont have a scone pan you can drop by 1/2 cup measures onto a baking sheet.  Or do the traditional way.  Roll the dough out thickly on a floured surface and cut into triangles or some other desired shape.

Sprinkle tops with reserved gruyere and bake at 350F for 30 minutes, depending on what size you use.  I used a scone pan.  Do not over bake.  As soon as they are just lightly golden check with an inserted toothpick.  If it comes our fairly clean (there is melted cheese in there), then it is ready.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

cherry peppers



I have made a lot of piri piri sauce.  Its been flying out of here like crazy.  I had to. But with nearly a gallon made so far and 1/4 of that eaten, I could not make anymore.  It seemed a bit, well, unreasonable.  I decided to can these cherry peppers instead of making the sauce.  This way if I need to replenish my supply of piri piri sauce I can do it with these babies, no problem.  Doesn't even matter if it is mid winter or not. Just drain and begin.  Yes, that piri piri sauce is that good.



I know this pic is blurry but I like it in a 'water- color- kind' of way.

Pickled Cherry Peppers

2 lbs cherry peppers
4 cups white vinegar
1 1⁄2 cups water
1 - 4 tablespoon sugar (to taste)
1 1⁄3 teaspoons salt
1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano per jar
1 -2 garlic cloves per jar (whole or halved)
1 small bay leaf per jar
2 peppercorns per jars

Sterilize 5 pint-sized canning jars, rings and lids by boiling them in a large pot for at least 10 minutes, making sure they are completely submerged.

Rinse the cherry peppers thoroughly under cool running water, removing any visible dirt or debris. Trim the stem from each pepper with a small, sharp knife. You do not need to actually remove the stem; simply cut it down to a manageable size.

Place the peppers into your sterilized jars. They should fill the jars most of the way, but don't forcibly stuff them inside. Add bay leaves, oregano, peppercorns and garlic cloves to each jar.

In a saucepan mix the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer and allow them to cook until the sugar and salt completely dissolve, about 5 minutes.

Pour the vinegar mixture over the ingredients in each jar. Leave approximately 1/4 inch of air at the top of each jar. Wipe the rim of each jar with a paper towel, then put the lids and rings on the jars.

Process the jars in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. You should do this with a water bath canner if possible. If not, fill a large pot with hot water, add the jars (which should be standing upright and fully submerged with 1 inch of water over the top of the lids), cover and bring the water to a boil for at least 10 minutes. At the end, turn off flame, remove top and let sit for 5 minutes before taking them out.  I find this helps with the boil out of the jar factor.

Remove the jars from the hot water, allow them to cool, then check the seal by pressing on the top of each jar with a finger. If the top is slightly inverted and does not give when you press on it, the jar is properly sealed. Store properly sealed jars for several weeks before eating the peppers.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Enchilada Sauce



Usually when I make enchiladas I am busy making the filling and totally not in the mood to make enchilada sauce.  I usually will pour some of my canned tomato sauce with a little taco seasoning in it and call it done.  That's okay but sometimes I want things really cooked through and thought out for a better depth of flavor.  So on my canning bucket list this summer was enchilada sauce.  I didn't think I was going to get to it but the end of summer tomatoes were a perfect fit for the sauce.  I ended up having 6 pints when all was said and done but it will largely depend on how long you boil it down.

I am pretty stoked about having ready made enchilada sauce in my pantry!

Canned Enchilada Sauce

24 cups  (about 3/4 peck) tomatoes
juice of 2 lemons
4 large cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons oregano
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1.   Fill the canner with water, cover and turn the heat on medium.
2.   Cook tomatoes, boiling them down for about 60 minutes.
3.   Add the remainder of ingredients and taste.  If you want more heat, add in some more chipotle.
4.   Bring to a boil again for about five minutes.
5.   Blend the sauce being careful not to burn yourself as hot liquid in a blender builds pressure and can blow the lid.  I always put a towel over top.  I also only fill my blender 2/3's full.
6.   Strain seeds and skin out.
7.   Sterilize jars and while still warm pour the sauce into jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.
8.   Run fingers around the rim to insure there are no chips or food particles on that would get in the way of a good seal.  Put lids and rings on.  Tighten rings firmly.
9.   Place jars in canner.  Add more water if necessary.  Water should be one inch above the tops of the jars. Once the water starts to boil, this is called processing, process for 30 minutes.
10. Turn off flame, remove lid of canner and wait five minutes.
11.  Use the canning tongs to remove the jars and lids one at a time from the canner. 
12.  Listen for a ping as the jars cool and the lid pops into place. You dont have to be there to hear the ping but it is a gratifying sound.  It means the lids have sealed.  
13.  Before you store them you do want to check to make sure the lid is depressed.  This means they are sealed properly.  If the lid is not depressed store in refrigerator and eat. Let the jars rest 24 hours.
14.  Store in a dark place.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

ATAKILT WAT



This is such a warming dish.  Warms your insides. I love these heavily spiced dishes in the Autumn.  Its comfort food.  But its healthy.  You can skip the beans if you like.  If you have this dish at an Ethiopian restaurant, you probably won't find green beans in it.  Maybe, I dunno.  I haven't been to like a ton of Ethiopian places though.  

I will tell you about fenugreek.  I used to hate it.  It is also called methi (Indian).  It must be an acquired taste, was for me anyhow.  I love it now.  Just totally love it. It is very warming and has a super unique taste.  


ATAKILT WAT
Ethiopian Carrot, Potato and Cabbage

teaspoon extra virgin olive oil or butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 jalapeno, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup chopped onion 
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
3/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds 
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/8 teaspoon cloves powder
a generous dash of black pepper
3/4 cup sliced carrots
2 medium potatoes, chopped, 1.5 generous cups
2 cups of cabbage, finely chopped
2 cups green beans
1/2 tsp salt

In a large skillet, saute garlic, ginger, chili, and onion until fragrant in oil,about 5 minutes. 
Add cumin, turmeric, fenugreek seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper, cook for 2 minutes. Add the carrots, potato, beans and cabbage mix well. Add salt. Mix well, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Stir periodically. 

Taste and add salt and pepper as desired, a little more oil if needed. Mix in, reduce heat to low-medium. Cover and Cook for another 15 minutes or unti

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Blood Curdling Red Velvet Cupcakes

I have made red velvet cake plenty of times before but this cake is now my favorite recipe.  I wish it did not have so much sugar though.  It is equal sugar to flour.  I usually will discard a cake recipe immediately if it has that much sugar.  But I had to try it because I wanted the affect for Halloween treats for a party!


Blood Curdling Red Velvet Cupcakes
Recipe from Donal Skehan, found here. This recipe will make 12 normal size cupcakes.  I have converted his recipe into cup measurements.  But I will tell you weighing is such a better way of making a recipe.

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
7 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon cocoa
1/4 cup red food coloring
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

"blood" drizzle
1 cup confectioners sugar
3 teaspoons red food coloring
1 or more teaspoons of water (maybe)

marshmallow frosting
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (you dont have to have this but it will help it a lot)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Beat sugar with butter.  Add in eggs one at a time, then vanilla.  In a separate bowl, mix buttermilk and red food coloring.  In another bowl mix cocoa and flour.  Mix alternately into butter mixture, ending with the dry ingredients.  In a small bowl mix baking soda with vinegar.  As it is fizzing add it in to the batter.  Pour into muffin tins, filling 2/3's full.

For the frosting, in a double boiler or bain marie*, combine cream of tartar, sugar and then egg whites, whisking the whole time.  You want the sugar to melt.  Once it is melted and beginning to thicken a little, remove from heat and keep beating with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Frost cooled cupcakes.

For the blood drizzle, combine confectioners and food coloring.  If the mixture is too thick to drizzle add in the water, one teaspoon at a time until you have the right consistency.

Drizzle over cupcakes.



Saturday, October 22, 2016

Tomato Soup


We love tomato soup.  I have to say that even though my kids have only had Campbell's Tomato soup once, it is the expectation they want my tomato soup to live up to.  Sigh.  All that sugar!  Forget it! Don't eat it!  I just throw my hands up in the air.  Of course I really want them to eat all that tomatoey goodness I make from scratch.

I saw a recipe on Serious Eats for tomato soup with carrots and the secret ingredient... baking soda. Yup!  My Mom knew straight away what it was used for because she used to use it all the time in her tomato soup but she had forgot about it.  What other secrets is my Mom keeping from me?  Mom?

Tomato Soup
Creamy and delicious.  I based it off the one from Serious Eats, link above.

8 tablespoons (4 ounces) butter
2 onions
4 large carrots
4 cups chicken broth
8 cups fresh tomatoes from the garden/market
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
pepper to taste
cream (optional)

Saute onions and carrots in butter. until the onions are transluscent.  Add in the remainder of ingredients (except cream) and cook until the tomatoes are falling apart and then cook 15 minutes more.  Serve with cream stirred in if desired.  Its totally not necessary though, its creamy without it.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Chicken Korma


I read a lot of blogs out there. Some people have a knack for writing personal thoughts on things. I have wanted to write personal or deep thoughts so many times but have failed each time.  Sometimes I write it al out and then immediately delete it all out.  Does it go with my blog?  Will people not care for what I write?  How do I even start to write something personal or deep? Does it have anything to do with food?

I prepared this dish when my brother was in town.  He was here for my Dad who was just recently diagnosed with cancer in the beginning of September.  He died last week, on Thursday and we buried him Monday.  My Dad was 87, had a good long life with lots of wonderful memories. He was a very social guy, he never met a stranger.  People naturally liked my Dad.  He was a talker, sometimes a little too much talk, ahem.  He liked to goof around, mainly with the younger set.  Anything to get them to laugh.  He would put silly hats on and roll his eyes in some goofy way.  I can see it right now in my minds eye.

My Dad was quite the looker in his younger day.  He dressed well, he just loved clothes. He was meticulous with how he dressed.  He was meticulous with a lot of things, such as woodworking.  My Dad took a long time to make something but when he did, it was perfection.  He was an all around handyman, could always think up ways to make things work if they broke down.

He was a hard working, entrepreneur who started his own business and supported our family for quite a while on that income.  He was able to save for his retirement to live a nice, simple life.

Farewell Dad, until we meet again.  I will remember you with love in my heart.



Chicken Korma
This is a delicious meal that comes together pretty easily.  The hardest part is sweating the onions.

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinned chicken breasts
1 ounce yogurt
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
2 large onions
4 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon freshly ground ginger
12 cardamom pods, seeds crushed
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tab;espoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 bay leaf
4 whole cloves
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
small pinch saffron
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons heavy cream
fresh cilantro for garnish

1.  Cut chicken into bite sized pieces, season with salt and pepper and then stir in yogurt.  Set aside.

2.  Saute onions in oil until translucent.  Add in garlic and finger, cook one minute more.  Cover, cook for 15 minutes.  Stir frequently.

3. When onions are softened add in cardamom, cumin, coriander, turmeric chili powder and bay leaf.
4.  Pinch of ends of cloves and add to the mix.  Discard stalks.  Cook for five minutes more stirring constantly.

5.  Stir in flour, saffron, sugar and salt.  Add 1 cup water.

6.  Bring to a simmer cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaf.  Blend mixture.

7.  Add chicken to the pot.  Heat until chicken is cooked through.

8.  Serve with a sprinkling of cilantro (I didnt have any, bummer), on a bed of rice.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Mr. Hedgehog's Stew


I found this recipe years ago in a magazine put out by Tops Supermarket.  I made it in my new house (about 18 years ago), insert pride here, for my parents.  We all loved it.  I have made it many times since.  I am pretty sure I like it best because of the name.  Who is Mr. Hedgehog anyway?  Does he live in the forest?

Just a little tip about wine.  When we have had wine around here and there is some leftover, it always seems to be in 1/4 cup increments, I freeze it. Red wine, white wine whatever.  I always end up using it.  I throw red wine in sauce often and I throw white wine in risotto when I make it.  It's so handy!






Mr. Hedgehog's Stew
Slightly adapted from Lifestyle magazine, 2001, Volume 4 Issue 11.  Just so you know, I make this with beer sometimes.  It is different but equally delicious.

½ pound bacon
1 large onion
2 ribs celery
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 pounds boneless beef, trimmed and cut into cubes 
½ cup flour 
2 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon black pepper 
4 cups beef stock or broth 
2 bay leaves 
tablespoon sugar 
½ C red wine 
1 teaspoon dried powdered thyme 
1/4 cup fresh parsley 
1 teaspoon dried dill 
½ teaspoon dry mustard powder 
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 
cups carrots, peeled and cut into small cubes (or baby carrots) 
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed 
cups frozen peas 

Saute bacon in large frying pan until very crisp. Remove from pan, and set aside. Place 3 tablespoons of bacon grease into a 6 quart soup pot. Add chopped onion, celery and garlic. Saute until well cooked, but not browned. Add fried bacon pieces, and remove from heat. Place beef cubes, flour, salt and pepper in a paper or plastic bag, and shake well to coat the meat. Brown the beef cubes in batches in the frying pan with the bacon grease. If there is not enough drippings then add more oil. When the meat is browned well on all sides, add it to the soup pot. Add the remaining ingredients (except the vegetables) to the soup pot and stir often over medium heat to a simmer. Cover and cook 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add carrots and stir well. Simmer 15 minutes. Add potatoes and stir well cooking for another 15 minutes. Add peas, stir well and cook for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

If the soup does not have the thickness you desire you can either add instant potato flakes or make a slurry of flour (about 1/4 cup) and water.

Tip:  Making it the day before you want to serve it gives the flavors a chance to marry.