Saturday, November 29, 2014

Coffee Cake

A favorite from childhood; the page in Betty Crocker's Cookbook is absurdly stained.

1 1/2 c AP flour
3/4 c sugar
2 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1/4 c shortening
3/4 c milk
1 egg

Heat oven to 375. Grease 8x8 can. Cut fat into mixed dries; stir in mixed wets. Beat 30 seconds. Spread in pan, sprinkle topping over batter. Bake 25-30 minutes until it tests clean. Serve warm.

Topping (cut together until crumbly):
1/3 c brown sugar
1/4 c AP flour
1/2 t cinnamon
3 T firm butter

Orange Rolls

Just like cinnamon rolls. Fill it with all white sugar mushed with 1/4-1/2 t orange oil.

The frosting should be made with orange juice instead of water. Done and done!

Up for Iteration: Reb Eat World Pecan Pie

I made pecan pie for the Thanksgiving meal this year. I came up with my own recipe scheme, based off of four recipes: my mother's; a well-reviewed corn syrup-based recipe; a well-reviewed cane sugar-based recipe; and a well-reviewed maple syrup recipe. It turned out well, and the tweaks I would make are small: I'd simplify the flavor profile by leaving out orange oil (or making sure to just put a drop), and I'd toast the nuts adequately so that they stay crisp. 

6 T butter
1 c dark brown sugar
1/2 c golden cane syrup
1/2 c maple syrup
2 t vanilla
(1/2 t orange zest)
(1/2 t lemon juice)
1/2 t salt
3 eggs
3 c pecans, toasted until fragrant and crisp; broken with hands into pieces
1 1/2 t AP flour
3/4 t cinnamon.

Roll out, form, and chill your crust. Heat oven to 350.

Melt butter in sauce pan over low-medium heat, let it brown and become fragrant. Add brown sugar, salt, cane syrup, maple syrup, vanilla, (orange zest), (lemon juice); stir till smooth, 5 minutes. 

Lightly beat eggs; whisk into syrup with flour.

Put pecans in crust. Dust the cinnamon over the top. Pour the syrup mixture over them. 

Bake 50 min-1 hr till set and slightly puffed. Bake over a tray in case of bubbles.

Grandma Cox's Spiced Nuts

More spiced nuts...

1 c sugar
6 T milk
1/2 t cinnamon
1 t grated orange rind
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla
3 c nut pieces

Bring all ingredients except vanilla and nuts to a boil; boil until soft ball. Add vanilla and nuts and stir until all nuts are coated with sugar granules. Separate nuts and cool.

Mom's perfected brownies

Mom's old recipe for brownies was in an older style; she has since tweaked it and I think it has become quite perfect for at least my 2014 tastes.

1/3 c brown sugar
2 c sugar
4 eggs
3/4 c butter
1 T vanilla
1/2 c plus 1 T cocoa
6 sq unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 t salt
1 c flour
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t cinnamon, optional

9" x 12" pan, at 325, for 30 minutes.

Suzhou Braised Pork (within or without a clay pot)

One of my earliest 'favorite recipes.' Mom made this first when I was probably a pre-teen, and I loved the intense and novel flavors. Sister T even gave me a clay pot one Christmas, I loved it so much! She made the recipe again recently, and it was just as glorious as I remember. This is from Martin Yan's Culinary Journey through China. I also have fond memories of watching Martin Yan at my Grandmother Cox's house. Knife skills!

1 1/4 lb boneless pork shoulder

2 T regular soy sauce
1 T dark soy sauce
1 T cornstarch

2 c chicken broth
1/3 c rice wine or dry sherry
2 T oyster sauce
2 T dark soy sauce
4 green onions, cut in half and lightly crushed
2 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 c crushed rock sugar or packed brown sugar

2 T oil
6 T garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 lb napa cabbage, cut into 1 1/2 inch squares
1 1/2 t cornstarch, dissolved in 1 T water

1. Cut pork into 2 inch pieces. Combine marinade ingredients. Add pork and stir to coat. Let stand 10 minutes. Combine seasoning  broth ingredients in a bowl.

2. Place a wok over high heat until hot. Add oil, swirling to coat sides. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add pork and cook until browned on all sides, 3-4 minutes.

3. Place pork in a clay pot or a 2 qt pot. Add seasoning broth ingredients; bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until meat is tender, about 1 1/4 hours. Add cabbage, cover, and simmer until cabbage is crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Add cornstarch solution and cook, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens.

4. Serve with a lot of rice; the sauce is intense and a little goes a long way on rice.

Ignatio's Argentine Pizza

This scheme for Ignatio's Argentine Pizza is worth it just for the term 'pre-pizza.' I also really enjoyed his pizza, and was surprised by its subtle novelty.

1. Buy pre-pizzas (flavored pizza crusts) from the Argentine bakery.
2. Get enough thinly sliced ham from the deli to entirely cover the pizzas.
3. Get a big chunk of queso cremoso, a little box of tomato sauce and an envelope of 'spices for pizza' from an Argentine source.
4. Warm up tomato sauce, mix spices in.
5. Spread the tomato sauce on the pre-pizza; cover it all with the sliced ham and then cut slices of the cheese. Cover the entire thing with cheese on top of ham.
6. If you are being complete, chop green olives in half and put them around the rim. Or perhaps strips of bell peppers on radii; big round tomato slices are an option; fresh corn; chicken; big old round slices of salami.
7. Bake them. Now they are pizzas, not pre-pizzas.

Lemon pilaf with mustard seeds, Chitrannam

I mentioned this Southern Indian recipe several posts back; it was part of one of the most beautiful meals I've had, with pulled pork vindaloo, a rye flat bread, peas, and fresh peaches. The peaches were a replacement for the mango called for as a garnish in this recipe. I liked the peach with the meal, but would eat it separately from the rice; so I am leaving it out of the recipe. This is from Julie Sahni's Indian Regional Classics.

1 T oil
1 t mustard seeds
1/2 t minced garlic
1/2 t turmeric
1 1/2 T lemon juice
3 T water
2 1/2 c cooked rice made from 1 c raw rice (basmati or jasmine)
1/4 c chopped roasted cashews
1/2 t minced green chiles (optional-- we did not use)

Heat oil in heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add mustard seeds and cover the pan with the lid because the seeds will pop and spatter. When the spluttering subsides, add the garlic, turmeric, lemon juice, and water. Bring to a boil.

Stir in rice, cashews, salt, and chiles, if using. Toss well until rice is evenly seasoned.

Malaysian Mexican Butter-filled Buns

Months and months ago, sister S. made this recipe from Jane Mason's The Book of Buns. Ms. Mason says that these buns are sold as "Mexican Coffee Buns" all over Malaysia, and that they are sometimes called Rotiboy buns after a chain that popularized them. I liked them, and have thought of recording the recipe; it was hard for me to find the recipe again because I was remembering them as "Butter-filled Buns," since they are, in fact, stuffed with a little cube of butter.

Scalded dough:
100 g (3/4 c) AP flour
70 g (1/3 c) boiling water

Put the flour into a little bowl and pour over the boiling water. Stir to mix. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

400 g (3 1/4 c) AP flour
2.5 g (1 1/4 t) instant yeast OR 5g (1 3/4 t) dry yeast OR 10 g fresh yeast
80 g (6 T) sugar
175 g (2/3 c) milk, heated up to just below boiling point, then cooled to room temperature
10 g (2 1/2) t salt
1 egg
60 g (5T) butter, cubed, at room temperature

Put the flour in a big mixing bowl; make a well. Sprinkle yeast and sugar into the well and the pour in the cooled milk. Flick some flour over the milk to seal the well; cover and allow to rest 1 hr.

Add salt, egg, and cooled scalded dough (break it up tin obits so it is easier to incorporate). Bring the ingredients together in the bowl. Turn dough out and knead well 10 minutes. Add the butter and knead again for 10 minutes. Return to bowl, cover; reast for 2 hours. Pull dough out onto an unfloured surface.

Divide dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 'tight ball.' Allow to rest under a dry towel for 15 minutes.

Gently flatten each piece of dough into a disk about 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Place in the center one of:

100 g (6 1/2 T) butter, divided into 12 little cubes, at room temperature

Stretch the dough around the butter. Roll it up and shape into a tight ball. Place on prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

Prepare topping by beating together:

125 g (8 T) butter, at room temperature
125 g (1 scant cup) powdered sugar
1 egg
240 g (2 c) AP flour
1/2 t pandan paste (optional)

Pipe a thin swirl on top of each bun that starts at the top of each bun in the center and travels one third of the way down the sides. Allow the buns to rest, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425. Bake the buns 15 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.

Maida Heatter's ginger-ginger cake

Along the same lines and even on the next page of Maida Heatter's Cakes, comes this Ginger-Ginger cake.

3 c sifted AP flour
1/4 t baking soda
6 oz (about 3/4 c) candied ginger
3-4 oz fresh ginger
8 oz butter
2 3/4 c sugar
6 eggs, separated
1 c sour cream

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a 10 x 4 1/4 inch angel-food tube pan with an 18 c capacity.

Sift flour with baking soda.

Cut candied ginger into 1/4 -1/3 inch pieces.

Grate the fresh ginger.

In large bowl, beat butter until soft. Gradually beat in fresh ginger and 2 1/4 c of the sugar. Then beat in egg yolks.

On low speed, gradually add sifted dries in two additions alternately with the sour cream in one addition. Stir in half of the candied ginger.

In the small bowl of the mixer, beat egg whites until they hold a soft shape. Gradually add remaining 1/2 c sugar. Then beat until they whites hold a peak.

In three additions, fold the whites into the batter. Be particularly gentle at the end; "fold only partially-- do not be too thorough." Turn into pan and smooth. Sprinkle with the remaining candied ginger.

Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until it tests done. Let cool in pan 15-20 minutes; it will sink somewhat. Invert out of pan and let cool.

Maida Heatter's white pepper lemon ginger cake

It's been years since we've made this, but I still remember it, so I figured I should record the recipe when I got a chance. Likely not for everyone, but for lovers of all the flavors, like me, it really works.
We got it from Maida Heatter's Cakes.

zest from 2 large lemons
2 T lemon juice
1/2 oz fresh ginger
3 c sifted AP flour
3/4 t baking soda
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 t white pepper
8 oz butter
1 3/4 c sugar
3 eggs
1 c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325. Butter and flour a 10-12 c tube pan.

Mix zest and juice. Grate ginger and add.

Sift together flour, soda, baking powder, salt, and pepper.

In large bowl, beat butter until soft. Add sugar; beat about 1 minute. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition.

On low or by hand, add sifted dries in three additions alternately with the buttermilk in 2 additions. Stir in lemon and ginger mixture.

Turn into pan, smooth by jerking pan. Bake 1 hr and 15-20 minutes, till cake tests dry. Let stand in pan 5-10 minutes before removing.

While the cake bakes, prepare glaze. Stir and let stand:
1/3 c lemon juice
1/2 c sugar

When cake is removed from pan, stir the glaze and use a pastry brush to brush the glaze all over the cake, including the hole in the middle. The cake will absorb it all. If some drips off, pour it back over the cake.

Let stand until cool. It is even better the next day or two.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Pecan bars

Last Thanksgiving, we made portable versions of Thanksgiving classics as we were set to road-trip to California the next day. My favorite was this quite-rich pecan bar recipe, in place of pecan pie. Maybe I liked it because it has over 3 times as many pecans as a typical pecan pie recipe. It comes from Maida Heatter's "Pecan Bars Americana" recipe; she got it from Jacques Kranzlin, the pastry chef at the Americana Hotel in Miami Beach back in the day.

Pastry Shell

8 oz butter
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1/4 t salt
zest of 1 lemon (or lemon oil)
3 c sifted AP flour

Butter a 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1 inch jelly roll pan. Line with foil. Place pan in freezer as you prepare the recipe.

In large bowl, beat butter till softened; add sugar; beat to mix well. Beat in egg, salt, zest. Gradually add flour, and beat, scraping bowl, until mix holds together.

Place dough a round-teaspoonful-clump at a time around the sides of the pan, just pressing against the raised sides. Place pieces 1/2-1 inch apart. Place remaining dough the same way all over the bottom. Flour fingertips and press the mounds of dough, first up the sides and then the bottom, until you've formed a smooth layer. Avoid any thin spots, or low spots on the sides; it can even come above the top. Prick the bottom with a fork at 1/2 inch intervals. Chill 15 min.

Preheat over to 375. Bake 20 min. Watch dough to make sure it does not slip or puff. Remove when edges are lightly colored; bottom is pale but dry. remove, but do not turn off heat. Prepare topping.

8 oz butter
1/2 c honey
1/4 c sugar
1 c plus 2 T dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 c heavy cream
20 oz (5 c) pecan halves or large pieces

In heavy 3 qt pan over moderately high heat, cook the butter and honey, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted. Add sugars, stir to dissolve, bring to a boil, let boil without stirring "exactly 2 minutes."

Remove from the heat; stir in heavy cream, then stir in pecans. Wait 5 minutes. With a large slotted spoon, place most of the pecans evenly over the crust. Drizzle remaining mixture over the peacns so it is even, up to the corners. "It will look like there is not enough of the thin syrupy mixture, but it is okay.")

Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Cool at room temperature. Turn out of the pan. It is easier to cut if it is chilled briefly.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Native nuts with native flavors

I made these in advance of Thanksgiving for our Native Nosh/Nibbles/etc. We've always had some treats indigenous to the Americas for Thanksgiving, including corn (in the form of Corn Nuts) and chocolate-dipped peanuts. This year I was given the assignment, and I've gone a little crazy.

I wanted to make some glazed nuts (all nuts indigenous, of course) using all indigenous flavors. I thought of making one batch of maple glazed nuts and another batch spiced with vanilla, chili (cayenne), and allspice. I was looking for some maple candy, but found none in three stores I visited. When I went to Harmon's, our highest end grocery store, and found nothing remotely maple, I actually teared up a little bit with homesickness for Wegmans.

So I had to make my own. I found the simplest well-reviewed recipe for maple nuts, from Ellie Krieger at the Food Network. All it uses is maple syrup and nuts (and salt), none of that sugar-and-butter-etc mess, so I decided to go for it. I think I made the right choice! It is simple, I didn't mess it up which must mean it is foolproof, and it was very, very fast. I also think it is delicious, and the best part is that it is completely made from ingredients available in pre-Colombian America.

With the success of those nuts, I decided to make my spiced batch with the same recipe. The first few I tried I didn't love. But they grew on me quickly (it helped to let them thoroughly cool). Now I'm quite pleased with them. Quite thoroughly pleased. They too are made completely with ingredients available in pre-Colombian America, albeit spanning distant ends of the continents.

Native nuts with native flavors (maple or maple and spices)

2 c native nuts (I used pecan halves, cashews, and brazil nuts cut in half)
1/3 c maple syrup
1/4 t salt

Preheat a dry skillet over medium high heat (I did wait to get my skillet quite hot). Mix nuts, syrup, and salt in a bowl, and then put in the pan (they will sizzle immediately). Cook, stirring, until syrup is caramelized and nuts are toasted, about 3 minutes. (I thought it would take longer than prescribed as I've had that experience with other glazed nut recipes, but it really didn't. Maybe I did 3 minutes and 20 seconds).  Spread out on a parchment-lined sheet to cool and dry thoroughly, then pack in an air-tight container.

To add more native flavors, add 2 t vanilla to the syrup, increase the salt to 3/4-1 t and make a spice mix of:
2 t vanilla sugar (yes, I know this is redundant and it probably isn't necessary, and, if you are picky, it messes up the 100% American scorecard.)
1 t cayenne (this gives them a slow but powerful heat. I considered saying I would reduce the amount of cayenne-- they do burn-- but the initial bite doesn't have a whole lot of cayenne flavor, so I don't know.)
1/2 t allspice

I scattered the spices over the nuts in the last 30 seconds of cooking to give them time to be thoroughly distributed in the still-wet syrup.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Fox Point Green Beans

I made these on my birthday to go with some wonderful sausage gravy, biscuits, and fruit salad (with some of my favorite fruit salad add-ins including avocado, nuts, and blue cheese). I was winging it, but ended up really liking them. It was a perfect menu. Penzey's Fox Point seasoning is a blend of salt, shallots, chives, garlic, onion, and green peppercorns.

Steam trimmed fresh green beans ~40 minutes.
Melt a combo of butter and olive oil in a large skillet.
Saute the steamed beans in the fat.
Season quite generously with Penzey's Fox Point seasoning.
Serve with grated hard cheese, like a nice Parmesan.

Cake doughnuts

The annual Halloween doughnuts were, to me, especially lovely this year. The recipe comes from The Joy of Cooking. Apparently Mom's copy of The Joy (but not mine) has a variation with orange juice and zest that she has never made. That sounds delicious to me! This year, she added some orange powder, and for that or another reason, I found these exceptional. They did not taste at all orange-flavored, but had a nice complexity of flavor. I usually have orange oil on hand, but not orange powder, so I'm saying to add a bit of orange oil instead.

Cake Doughnuts

Whisk together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed:
      4 c AP flour
      4 t baking powder
      3/4 t ground cinnamon or 1 t grated lemon zest (Mom uses cinnamon)
      3/4 t grated or ground nutmeg
      3/4 t salt
      "cake doughnut flavor" from King Arthur -- internet says this is no longer sold 

In a large bowl, beat well with an electric mixer:
      2 eggs

Add slowly and beat until thick and creamy:
      3/4 c plus 2 T sugar

On low speed, add and beat until blended:
      3/4 c buttermilk (or milk in a pinch)
      a small splash of orange oil 
      5 T butter, melted

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix with a large spoon just until blended. The dough will be soft and sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours (I think you can skip this in a pinch, but the dough will be harder to work with).

Roll the dough 1/2 inch thick (a little thicker is ok) on a lightly floured work surface. Cut out doughnuts with a well-floured cutter. Transfer cut donuts to a sheet of wax paper generously floured. Re-roll scraps.

Allow doughnuts to rest at room temperature 20 minutes to 1 hour before frying. This helps the dough to form a light crust so that it absorbs less oil.

Heat about 3 inches oil to 375 F. Never crowd the fryer. Each donut will take 11/2 - 2 minutes per side to cook, depending on the size.  They should be a deep golden brown.  It is a good idea to test the first doughnut.

Drain the doughnuts on paper bags. When they are cool enough, coat with:

cinnamon sugar