Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day Cake

Fresh out of the oven and before glazing.
YUM!  Ready to eat.
     In honor of Election Day 2010 I dug out a recipe I had cut out of a magazine years ago.  Apparently, this is a traditional cake recipe that was made every election day for decades after the Revolution. It is leavened with yeast and has a slow raising time.. 5-7 hours and so was usually mixed up the night before.  Yeast was not all that reliable back then, and many a housewife lay awake worrying that her cake would not raise correctly.  It was a matter of pride to serve up a beautiful Election Day Cake.  I had never made a cake with yeast before so I was excited to try it.  I did make a few changes to the original recipe.  I'm not a huge fan of raisins so I used half raisins and half dried cranberries for the fruit.  I used orange juice instead of brandy and I baked it in my mini bundt pan so I could share it with some friends.  (Bill and I certainly do not need a big bundt cake for just the two of us!)   And, it is just as well that I planned to give most of it away.  This is one delicious cake!  Yep, I think we have just found (or is that rediscovered?) a new tradition!  Really you need to try this one- it is so good. I can see lots of possibilities with this recipe.. Next time I think I will see what cranberry juice will taste like..and for sure some pecans.
1 envelope dry yeast
1 T sugar
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brandy (can sub orange juice or cranberry juice)
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp mace
1/2 cup flour, for raisins

1 cup powdered sugar
2 T milk
 1 tsp vanilla

1) Dissolve yeast and 1 T sugar in warm milk.  Stir in 1/2 cup flour.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in warm place until sponge becomes bubbly, about 2-3 hours.

2) Pour brandy or juice over raisins in a small bowl and set aside to soak for 2-3 hours.

3) When ready to prepare batter, cream butter and 1 cup sugar together in a large bowl.  Add eggs, one at a time, and beat the mixture until light and fluffy.

4) Drain brandy or juice off raisins.  Set raisins aside.

5) Combine 1 cup flour with spices and stir into butter mixture alternately with brandy or juice.  Add yeast mixture and beat thoroughly.  Mix raisins with 1/2 cup flour and stir into batter.

6) Pour batter into a well-buttered tube pan or loaf pan and let dough rise until nearly doubled in bulk.  This dough rises slowly and should sit in a warm place for 5-6 hours or overnight.

7) Bake at  350 for 50-60 minutes.  Cool slightly before removing cake from pan to cool on wire rack.  Spread cooled cake with glaze.

GLAZE:  Mix  powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until well combined and spread on cake.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm back!

Ok,  After 55 days on an HCG diet of eating a VERY limited selection of food, today I began 3 weeks of a fairly strict maintenance protocol- no starch or sugar.  But, that's alright with me. Right now I feel practically giddy about being able to eat a variety of fruits, lean meat and veggies again!  Life is good!  :)  For breakfast I feasted scrambled eggs and some of the sweetest honeydew melon I have ever tasted.  Lunch was a simple meal of chicken breast, steamed green beans and a nectarine.. Heaven!
     I have to say I have really missed the challenge of trying new recipes so I am way excited to get back into my kitchen and see what healthy goodies I can discover.  In celebration, for dinner, I am trying a new recipe- Silky Cauliflower Soup. I love cauliflower and can hardly wait to try it.  It sounds delicious and easy (love easy!).  I don't have any  Parmesan though, so I think I'll try cheddar for the crisps instead.  Hey, what's not to like about Cheddar and cauliflower? Seems like a natural combo to me.
We really liked it- I loved it that it came across as a cream soup even though it had no cream or flour in it.  However, it was a little on the bland side because I left out the Parmesan cheese.  Next time I will make it as written and I'm sure it will be even better.  Also, I might leave it a little chunky instead of totally blending it- just cause we really like cauliflower. Some ham or Canadian bacon would be yummy too.. maybe some peas?  Yep, this is a great starter recipe- really versatile.  I think I will be making this one often.
     By the way,  I made Cheddar Crisps to go with the soup and they turned out great!  I just didn't manage to get a picture before we scarfed them down.  Picture crispy, melted cheese.. are you picturing it?  THAT's why we didn't wait for pictures.  YUM

Friday, July 16, 2010

Betcha Can't Eat Just One!


One of my favorite bloggers in the whole wide world- that would be Chef Tess Bakeress-  issued a challenge last week to try using a fresh herb in something new.  Well, since I love challenges and since I just happen to have a super abundance of basil in my garden right now.. I decided this one was right down my alley. Normally, when I'm looking for a  recipe these days, the first place I look is online. (What did we ever do before the internet?)  But, I figured since it was a challenge after all.. I really aught to make an effort to dig up something on my own.  So, I began rummaging back thru my old cookbooks.. cough.. oh, dear, cough..it seems they are just a 'mite' dusty.  Guess it has been awhile!  LOL  Anyway, I did manage to rediscover one of my favorite 'browsers'.  You know, those cookbooks that its so fun to read thru and you're sure you will try all those recipes as soon as______ fill in the blank.  Well, in my case, it was always as soon as I finally managed to grow an herb garden.  Guess what?  I actually have an herb garden this year!  Granted, it only has 4 herbs in it, but that counts, right??
       Anyway, the book is Herbal Treasures by Phyllis V. Shaudys and the recipe I decided to make was 'Opal Basil Cheddar Crisps'.  Oh, my goodness- this was something I really should have tried years ago!  They are delicious- crispy and chewy all at once, and full of cheesy 'numminess'. (That really aught to be a word if it isn't- I'm just sayin'.) The basil is not the main event here but really more of a subtle background flavor that makes everything else work.  The recipe says to serve them hot- and they are at their best warm, but I love them cold too. I'm so glad I finally got a chance to try this one!  Thanks again, Chef Tess!  :)  PS Make these for a party or quickly pass them out to your neighbors- they are definitely NOT low fat and way too hard to resist.  Enjoy!

Opal Basil Cheddar Crisps
Yield: 40 snacks
8 ounces medium-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce (I used Chipotle)
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp. chopped purple opal basil
1 1/2 cups crisp rice cereal

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl mix the cheese, butter, Tabasco sauce, and mustard.  Blend in the flour and basil.  When combined, stir in the cereal and blend well.  Shape into small balls.  Place on a greased baking sheet and flatten with the bottom of a lightly floured glass.  Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Serve hot.  The crisps may be stored for several days in an airtight container or frozen.  Reheat for 5 minutes as needed.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy July 4th!

I have had a marvelous time this week surfing food and craft blogs enjoying all the wonderful creative ways people have of celebrating the birthday of our country.  I really do love this holiday!  It never has taken much to get my patriotic juices flowing but, after having lived overseas for 9 years, I have come to appreciate this celebration even more.  I am so grateful to be an American.
     This year is kind of a laid back holiday for us.. no family in town to fuss over.  But, I couldn't let the occasion go by without doing something kind of fun to mark the occasion.  So, we had some 'Star Spangled Strawberry Shortcake'.. er Biscuits.  I know, people think I'm strange to serve strawberries on biscuits instead of cake, but, that's the way my mom always made it and I still prefer it that way.  She would slice the berries, sprinkle sugar on top, then mash them up a little to make sure there would be plenty of juice.  After a couple of tastes to make sure the berries would be sweet enough,  into the fridge they would go (she always called it the ice box) to chill for several hours.  They were then served over hot biscuits for a delicious summertime treat.  Heaven!
     I made them exactly the same way, just cutting the biscuits into stars.  I thought they looked quite festive served on my favorite blue plates.  Bill's touch was to add some vanilla ice cream.  Perfect for a hot summer day!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Grilled Zucchini

Oh, Wow.  We just had the most amazing zucchini! First of all I should mention that our poor little zucchini plants only produced 2 zucchini before giving up in the Arizona heat.  Hubby fried up one with eggs for breakfast as per his traditional way.  But, we decided we wanted to do something different and special with the 2nd one.  So.. I did some surfing and found this  recipe for Grilled Zucchini at Kalyn's Kitchen (one of my all time favorite sites) and figured it would be a perfect match for Grilled Basil Lemon Chicken.  As it turned out, I was sooooo right.  Unfortunately, we had a horde of hungry kids crowded around the food the minute it came off the grill- No time for pictures. (The grandkids are in town.  Yay!) But, because it really was so delish, I selfishly chose to ignore all good food blogger ethics, and blog about it anyway, even without a picture.  This is one recipe I don't want to lose.  I'm sure I will make this many times this summer and I solemnly promise I will take a picture and post it here.  In the meantime, Kalyn took gorgeous pictures and a complete step by step.  So zip on over to her site to see what they look like.. Trust me, they taste as good as they look!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

What is Blue, Hot and Sweet- all at the same time?

 I found this recipe back in March and have been wanting to try it ever since.  I'm a real 'gringo' when it comes to hot and spicy food, but, for some reason, this one really intrigued me.  Today I took the plunge.  Living in Arizona makes finding all the different peppers easy.. well, ok, we had to go to two stores, but, that's not too bad, right?  Surprisingly, this went together really fast.  It didn't take long at all to  cut and de-seed all the peppers. Then I just plunked them in the food processor, pulsed a couple of times and the prep was basically done.  It actually took longer to sterilize the bottles.  Of course, it still takes time to bring the ingredients up to a rolling boil twice, but, that's just part of making jam.  
      I was pleased with the yield too- I got 12 half pints with a little bit left over for tasting.  And, the tasting was the fun part!  It really is good (she modestly says)- hot, peppery and sweet all at the same time.  Bill's comment was 'Who needs to eat it WITH anything?  Its great all by itself!"  LOL    All in all.. I'd say it was a hit!    I plan on using these little gems for hostess gifts this summer.We have quite a bit of traveling planned to visit friends and family and these should come in quite handy.  (Act surprised if you read this first!)   Hopefully, everyone will enjoy it as much as we have.  :)

  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 2 large green bell peppers
  • 2 large poblano peppers
  • 2 large slim jim or Anaheim peppers
  • 8 jalepeno peppers
  • 2 c. fresh blueberries
  • 1 c. vinegar
  • ½ c. lemon juice
  • 1 pkg. sure gel
  • 8 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. butter

Cut peppers in half and remove most of the seeds.  On hot peppers, the more seeds that are left, the hotter they will be.  Cut peppers into chunks, run through blender with vinegar and lemon juice to puree coarsely. 
        Pour into pan, stir in whole blueberries and Sure Gel. Over medium heat, bring to a rolling boil, then add ALL of the sugar at the same time.  (Pre-measure it into a large bowl.) Add butter to help reduce foaming.        Stir well, and return to a full boil (one that cannot be stirred down) and boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat.  
      Pour into clean, sterilized 8 oz. [I used 4oz] canning jars.  Wipe rims, put on lids and screw on rings snugly.  Place in boiling water bath and process 5 minutes.  Let cool out of drafts and check for seal after 1 hour.  Any jars that have not sealed properly will need to be refrigerated and used within 2 weeks.
     This jam is usually a “soft set” jam, which means it spreads easily and works very well as a glaze for chicken or pork too.  Its good on toast or biscuits with eggs, or as an unusual but tasty ice cream topping.  The blueberries can also be pureed with the peppers if you prefer a smoother jelly texture.  I happened to like the surprise of the whole berries in the jam!

Lemon Chicken and Gravy

Ok, be honest, didn't that title grab you the minute you read it?  Or am I the only one who is a total lemon freak?  I really love chicken and lemon together, and adding thyme (fresh out of my herb garden) and parsley sounded like a lovely addition.  Had to try it!
       I decided this also sounded like a perfect recipe to make in the sun oven.  I plan to use the sun oven and barbeque grill a lot for the next few months.  We are fast sliding into that time of year in Arizona.. HOT.  Ugly, nasty, ridiculously HOT.  And, my Scottish blood really hates to heat up the kitchen with the stove and oven only to have to turn around and crank up the AC so we can breathe.  Air conditioners are wonderful, but they're also dang expensive!  So, even as I type this, my lovely little sun oven is busy doing its thing and cooking our dinner.  I have to say, its had a full day- I also made my first loaf of whole wheat bread in it this afternoon.  And, IT WORKED!  How fun is that??
       Here is the link to the Taste of Home recipe  Lemon Chicken and Gravy.  I didn't change anything except to use chicken thighs instead of breasts.

Verdict:  Delicious!  Bill and I both loved it. The chicken was moist and tender and beautifully seasoned with a lovely lemon flavor.  Very 'gourmet'.  :)  I served it with brown rice, steamed broccoli and sliced tomatoes- the perfect summer dinner.   The only change I think I would make next time would be to greatly reduce the butter.. maybe to 1 Tbsp?  The gravy turned out to be quite fatty- probably because I used thighs instead of breasts.