Thursday, November 23, 2006

As Long as My Name Isn't Mud...

You Are Mud Pie

You're the perfect combo of flavor and depth
Those who like you give into their impulses

Via Quoth the Maven.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Coming Attractions ...

Next week, a new and improved Doboschtorte technique ... perfect to try out for Christmas y'all!

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

Chris sent this to me with a ringing endorsement (see below). I can see why ... this sounds wonderful doesn't it? At least it does to anyone who likes pumpkin and cheesecake as much as I do. I'm a whipped cream freak so I'd substitute that for the Cool Whip.

I'm wondering if I'll get the time to whip this up for my book club which will meet on the Monday after Thanksgiving. That's my goal anyway ...
Since you post so many recipes for all to try, I thought I'd shoot one of my favorites that my wife makes around thanksgiving/Christmas. I hope you like it!

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

2 pkgs 8oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
6 dashes of ground nutmeg
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup thawed cool whip

Mix cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with electric mixer on medium until well blended. Add eggs, mix until well blended, but do not overbeat.

Remove 1 cup batter. Stir in pumpkin & spices.

Spray 9 inch pie plate with PAM (or other non-stick spray). Sprinkle the bottom of the pie plate with the graham cracker crumbs.

Pour pour plain batter into crust. Top with pumpkin batter. Bake at 325 for 40 min or until center almost set. Cool.

Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Serve with cool whip.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Thai-Style Ground Beef

This is from Cooking Light. I have to say that they really are geniuses at getting an essential cultural flavor down in the easiest possible way for a quick meal. Probably the best tribute to this recipe is that I didn't mention to Tom it was something new. He took a bite, his eyes widened, and he looked at me. "Wow!
This is great!"

  • I didn't have light coconut milk, just the regular sort. However, I inadvertently cut out a lot of the fat by just using a church key style can opener to poke holes in the top. This kept most of the fat in the can as it was evidently cool enough for it to be solidified.
  • I was in a tearing hurry so didn't do the leek step ... and also didn't have iceberg lettuce. No matter. It was still great.

Cooking spray
1 cup thinly sliced leek
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1 pound lean ground sirloin
1 teaspoon red curry paste
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
3 cups hot cooked short-grain rice
Iceberg lettuce wedges (optional)
Chopped cilantro
Chopped green onions (optional)

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray.

Add leek; sauté 5 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute.

Add beef; cook 7 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring to crumble. [Drain any fat, especially if, like me, you had ground chuck and not ground sirloin.]

Stir in curry paste and tomato sauce; cook until half of liquid evaporates (about 2 minutes).

Add coconut milk and next 4 ingredients (through fish sauce); cook 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Serve with the rice and lettuce wedges, if desired. Garnish with cilantro and green onions, if desired.

Serves 8

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thanksgiving Planning

Woohoo! I got done with work early tonight and now am going to sit down and make out my shopping list for Thanksgiving ... oh, and also for those other days leading up to it when we'll need food.

I thought of this because The Anchoress is going to have Meringue Cake on that day and very kindly is sharing the recipe with us.

We don't mess with Thanksgiving 'round here. It is strictly our favorites with the only variations allowed being in the cranberry relish and sweet potatoes ... and that is only because I am the only one who eats them. Our day-after-Thanksgiving meal also is mandated by tradition. Chef salad featuring turkey (of course), blue cheese dressing and crumbled bacon (the real thing please!) on top. Mmmmmm, crumbled bacon ...

Here are a few links to recipes I've posted that we'll have at the feast.

Holiday Central
Ok, not my recipes but O Chef must answer just about every question you could think of there ... including any that my "short-hand" recipes may leave you with!

Herbed Thanksgiving Stuffing
This is the best stuffing ever and cooks in a slow cooker. I have made this four times now and never been disappointed. It really frees up the oven for other things and, if you happen to have a problem with sticking your hand up a turkey (no problemo here) then you're set free from that as well.

Skillet Cornbread
If you happen to like cornbread stuffing (which I do not), you may want to make this for your base. I've never found a better recipe.

Pecan Topped Sweet Potato Casserole
This was new for Thanksgiving last year and it was delicious.

Cranberry Ginger Relish
I made this last year. Then I made another recipe when that ran out ... and then another. Well, you get the idea.

Perfect Piecrust
This is not a misnomer. Very easy and very delicious. It is long but that is to give detailed directions. You can't go wrong with this.

Pecan Pie
This is non-negotiable. Gotta have it.

Pumpkin Pie

Are you allowed to have Thanksgiving without this? Or watch the Cowboys play without having some? Nope.

Pecan Topped Sweet Potato Casserole

This is from Cook's Illustrated and I made it last year for the first time. Scrum-diddily-umptious!

Serves 8 to 12

6 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (very cold), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans

3 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 medium potatoes), peeled, halved lengthwise, and halves cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
6 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1. For the Topping: Whisk brown sugar and flour in small bowl. Add butter, and toss to coat; pinch between fingertips until mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir chopped pecans into mixture; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. In large pot or Dutch oven of boiling water, parboil sweet potato slices over high heat until they are bright orange and the point of a paring knife easily pierces but does not break apart a few slices, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain potatoes well and turn into buttered 13-x 9-inch baking dish.

3. Whisk melted butter, honey, molasses, ginger, salt, and cayenne in small bowl; set aside. Mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cold water in small bowl until totally smooth, then whisk into butter mixture; pour over sweet potatoes and toss to coat well.

4. Cover dish tightly with foil and bake until liquid is bubbly, about 50 minutes. Remove foil, stir potatoes gently, sprinkle cold topping mixture over potatoes, and bake until topping is crisp and dark golden brown, about 20 minutes longer. Cool slightly and serve hot or at room temperature.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Yeast Raised Waffles

This is the first recipe I ever used for waffles and despite forays into other, more standard recipes, it remains our favorite. It is from an early Fanny Famer cookbook and Marion Cunningham has made sure that it has remained in cooking consciousness.

This comes from her Breakfast Book which I highly recommend. We are using it quite often as we return to our Sunday morning "special" breakfasts which Tom and I had done ever since we were newlyweds but had strayed from at some point in the busyness of parenthood. We alternate Sundays for choosing and making a special breakfast and the other person cleans up later.

  • We never have the time to cook any leftover saved batter as Cunningham advises. Instead, I take a page from Eggo's book by cooking up whatever remains and popping them in the toaster on weekday mornings.
  • This made many more than 8 waffles for us.
1/2 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
2 cups milk, warmed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour

2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Use a rather large mixing bowl -- the batter will rise to double its original volume. Put the water in the mixing bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes, until yeast dissolves. Add the milk, butter, salt, sugar and flour to the yeast and beat until smooth and blended. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand overnight at room temperature.

Just before cooking the waffles, beat in the eggs, add the baking soda and stir until well mixed. The batter will be very thin. Cook on a very hot waffle iron (use about 1/3 cup batter per grid). Bake until the waffles are golden and crisp to the touch.

Note: If there is any leftover batter, store in a covered container in the refrigerator. It will keep for several days.

Yields 8 waffles

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Cream Biscuits

The Dallas Morning News' food section (free registration required) features biscuits of all sorts today as well as biscuit making tips.

However, I see that they missed the one essential recipe (similar to those I mentioned the other day) that means you can skip the tips and turn out fantastic biscuits every time with no trouble at all. That would be the recipe for cream biscuits, where heavy cream substitutes for the fat and liquid thus killing two birds with one stone. Not only that but you don't have to mess around with cutting in shortening or butter which I really detest for some reason.

These are from Beard on Bread by James Beard. Give them a try and you'll see what I mean.

Note: I never do the final step of dipping in melted butter. Also, I usually need between 1-1/2 and 2 cups of cream.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsps sugar
1 tsp salt
1 to 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
5 Tbsps melted butter

Preheat oven to 425F.

Put dry ingredients in a bowl, and fluff them together with a fork. Stirring constantly, slowly add 1 cup of the cream.

Gather it all together, adding a bit more cream if it goes saggy and dry.

When it holds together nicely, put it on a floured bread board, and knead it for about 60 seconds.

Pat it into a square about 1/2" thick. Cut into 12 squares, and dip each in the melted butter, dipping all sides of each biscuit. Put them on an ungreased baking sheet, about 2" apart.

Bake about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve hot.

Monday, November 06, 2006


I made Chicken and Dumplings recently. It is one of Rose's favorites and, although I don't make it often, I always wish I made it more often because it is so good and homey and satisfying.

I also am in the process of searching for the "perfect" Chicken and Dumplings recipe so that complicates things a bit. I have several targets for finding those "perfect" recipes and once I find them then I look no further. I may not make these essential recipes often but when I need them, they never fail to please and most could not be easier.

A few such "essentials" that I have featured here include Piecrust, Pecan Butter Balls (a.k.a. Mexican Wedding Cakes), Pumpkin Pie, Sloppy Joes, and Simple Barbecue Sauce.

Now we may add this Dumpling recipe to that list. Once again, I don't make dumplings often. If I made them more than once or twice a year it would be amazing. However, these are the easiest I've ever come across and they met with universal approval.

The Chicken Stew part? I'm still looking.

(from Cook's Illustrated magazine)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons reserved chicken fat (or unsalted butter)

Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Microwave the milk and fat in a microwave-safe bowl on high until just warm (do not over-heat), about 1 minute. Stir the warmed milk mixture into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until incorporated
and smooth.

Return stew (or whatever you are adding dumplings to) to a simmer and drop golf-ball sized
dumplings over the top of the stew, about 1/4 inch apart (you should have about 18 dumplings). Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the dumplings have doubled in size, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Thought for Food

Everything I eat has been proved by some doctor or other to be a deadly poison, and everything I don't eat has been proved to be indispensable for life. But I go marching on.
George Bernard Shaw

Friday, November 03, 2006

When You Don't Have Any Nuoc Cham

In the Vietnamese kitchen, these dipping condiment adds vibrancy to many dishes. To prepare it, nuoc nam (fish sauce) is seasoned with red chilies, garlic, lime juice, ginger, and sugar.

Substitute 1 cup nuoc cham with
  • 1 cup Homemade Nuoc Cham: dissolve 1/4 - 1/3 cup granulated sugar in 3 tbsp hot water. Stir in 1/3 cup fresh lime juice, 1/3 cup nuoc nam or other fish sauce, 1-2 minced garlic cloves, and 1 seeded and minced Thai, cayenne, or serrano chile. Let stand for 15-20 minutes to blend flavors. Makes about 1 cup.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Myth Busters: Aluminum Cookware Causes Alzheimer's

kitchen myth cooking urban legend

This myth got its start a number of years ago when medical researchers found elevated levels of aluminum in diseased tissue from the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

One logical possibility (but not the only one) was that the raised aluminum level was responsible for causing the disease. Get exposed to too much aluminum, from your job perhaps or your cookware, and you would have a better chance of coming down with this awful disease. People started avoiding aluminum cookware, and some still are - unnecessarily it turns out.

Subsequent research has failed to show any connection between aluminum exposure and Alzheimer's, and it is believed that the elevated aluminum in the brains of Alzheimer's patients is a result of the disease process. In other words, high aluminum levels do not cause Alzheimer's, but rather Alzheimer's causes high aluminum levels.

Source: Alzheimer's Society