My Motto

May the muffin rise to greet you, may your friends be always at your door, and until we meet again, warm a single-malt in the palm of your hand and make something homemade for someone you love.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Irish Oatmeal Brulee

"You have to eat oatmeal or you'll dry up.  Anyone knows that."
~Kay Thompson (Eloise)

The other day I had my mother over for dinner so she could catch up with Curtis, since he's only home for a week.  She brought me a couple of issues of Taste of Home and this recipe (April/May '11) struck me.  I couldn't wait to make it, and it did not disappoint.  This is not the oatmeal you had at camp, folks.

I woke up needing something comforting.  First of all, Curtis set up a slackline in the yard, and encouraged me to try it.
Do not try this at home.
It IS an amazing core workout though ;-)
Not that I needed much encouraging, since it looked fun.  Simply trying was a great workout although now, a day later, when I walk you can hear an audible "ow" "ow" "ow."  In addition to that, after having rain, murk and gloom for 10 straight days, the sun finally came out and I could not resist soaking up as much as I could, resulting in....yes, you guessed it...a nice fry on my milky Irish skin.
After surviving my night of pain, the warm, sweet and satisfying comfort of this dish was the perfect medicine.  Now, in the past oatmeal would not be my first choice in the morning, although I would eat it now and then because it's good for you.  This is a different story though...not a breakfast to plod to savor and look forward to.  A real treat.

Irish Oatmeal Brulee
8 cups milk 
2 cups steel cut oats
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise (optional)
1 orange peel strip (1 to 3 inches)
dash salt
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup maple syrup
cream, optional
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

In a large heavy saucepan, bring milk to a boil over medium heat.  Add the oats, cinnamon, orange peel and salt.  Reduce heat; simmer for 30 minutes or until thick and creamy, stirring occasionally.
Remove from the heat; discard cinnamon, star anise and orange peel.  Stir in the cranberries, raisins, syrup and a small amount of cream, if desired.  Cover and let stand for 2 minutes.
Transfer to eight ungreased 6 ounce ramekins.  Place on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.  Broil 8 inches from the heat for 4-7 minutes or until sugar is caramelized.  Serve  immediately.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Red Velvet Cake

"Maybe a slice of red velvet cake would help you focus."
~Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins (2008)
In recent years, red velvet cake has had a resurgence.  I've seen it in the form of cupcakes, whoopie pies, cake balls, brownies, cheesecake; even Ben and Jerry just came out with the ice cream version!  This is not a bad thing, since I LOVE IT.   But almost every magazine you pick up has a recipe for it,  and I'm pretty sure you're yawning right now....yah, yah, yah, red velvet cake...tell us something we don't know.
Here's the thing.  Nearly 50 years ago, my mother was making this for our family's birthday cakes.  It has always been the family special cake.  I crave the distinct flavor.  There is cocoa in the recipe, but I wouldn't call it chocolate cake.  It is, velvet cake, and has a unique flavor all it's own!  I made one for my oldest son's first birthday in 1989 and used green food coloring by mistake.  In my defense, the bottle was white with red letters (come on!!!).  Green velvet cake was just not the same.  
Even in the 90's I brought one to a Valentine's day party and most people there had never even heard of it.  My mother always made it with mock cream frosting, but I've changed it up a little, since I have inconsistent results with the mock cream recipe.  Last week I made this cake for my mother's birthday and it went way too fast.  The Mister said the cake and frosting were the best I'd ever done, so I wanted to preserve the recipe exactly as is,  since I did tweak it a little.
The 100th blog post milestone is around the corner and a nice surprise about the blog is that so many of my go-to recipes are here now that I no longer need to remember which cookbook, binder or file box the recipe is in.   It has become my own personal online cookbook, with side notes included!   My goal is to eventually post all of my very best recipes here.  It's convenient for me, provides a record of them for my family, and it's been fun to share them with you!  Your support and comments here and on Twitter and Facebook have been incredibly encouraging and always appreciated!  
Red Velvet Cake

2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 ounces red food coloring
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 ½ cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 3 (8 inch) round baking pans.  In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar, oil and butter together.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk.  Add the food coloring and vanilla.  In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to the batter.  Equally divide batter in the 3 greased and floured round pans.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until middle of cake springs back when pressed with your finger.
Cool on racks for 10 minutes.  Turn one cake out onto serving platter.  Turn other two cakes onto cooling racks.  Cool completely before frosting.

1 1/2 sticks butter (3/4 cup), softened
½ cup Crisco
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 ½ pounds confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 – 5 tablespoons milk (just enough to bring it to spreading consistency)
Cream the butter, Crisco and cream cheese.  Add half the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and beat well.  Add the rest of the confectioner’s sugar, adding milk as needed to bring it to spreading consistency.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Egg Whites Cake

"Birthdays are nature's way of telling us to eat more cake."
~ Unknown

On Easter Sunday it was my duty to make the desserts for the family get-together.  I made lemon mousse and  a double size key lime pie, both of which called for many egg yolks, resulting a glut of leftover egg whites.   
Now, previously if I had leftover egg whites I would feed a couple to the dogs and huck the rest.  These days I'm trying very hard not to waste anything, so I was determined to use them up.  Now, I've heard people freeze egg whites, but I was skeptical, so I stumbled upon this post by David Lebovitz on ways to use up extra egg whites.  His post led me to this Estonian recipe for munavalgekook (egg white cake) which I adapted for my use and was surprised at how easy and DELICIOUS it was.
So easy and it has a nice moist crumb.  Perfect for a dollop of lemon mousse and some fresh strawberries.
Angel food cake is great, but a pain to make, and I wasn't in the mood after making two other desserts.  This cake whipped up easily and complimented the others nicely.  I'll make it again to have with berries or sliced peaches and whipped cream.  It makes great tea and coffee cake too.  A new go-to recipe for the archives, and no more wasted egg whites.

Egg Whites Cake (adapted from recipe posted on nami-nami)

6 large egg whites
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whisk the egg whites with vanilla and 2 tablespoons of sugar until thick and pale and very foamy. Mix the rest of the sugar with flour, cornstarch, salt and baking powder, then sift into the egg mixture and fold in gently.
Finally fold in cool melted butter.
Pour the batter into a buttered bundt-form and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Test for doneness with a wooden toothpick.
Cool slightly before turning out of the cake tin.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lazy Galumpkis

"Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education"
~Mark Twain
 Have you ever had galumkis?  You know, stuffed cabbage rolls.  My Aunt Catherine used to make them.  I remember being at her house for some event right when the baking dish came out of the oven.  They were so good, I decided right then to learn how to make them and that was many years ago.  They are a bit of a project though, and not for the faint of heart.  This dish, on the other hand, could not be easier and is really delicious.  We LOVE it!  In fact, I just said to The Mister that I actually like this dish BETTER than traditional galumpkis, and he agreed.

The recipe was adapted from one given to me by a co-worker at my first full-time job in 1987.  I didn't work with her long, and have long since forgotten her name, but the recipe has been a family favorite ever since.  Well, let me qualify that...The Mister and I have always loved it.  My kids won't touch cabbage in any form.

I serve it with rice, because galumkis usually have a beef and rice filling, and it goes perfectly.  The recipe I'm giving you is meant to be made in a 13x9 inch pan and would serve 6-8.  Since I only had three people home for dinner, I cut the recipe in half for this post, therefore in the pictures you will see it in a 9x9 inch baking dish.

Lazy Galumpkis

1/2 a medium head cabbage, sliced up thin
1 carrot, grated
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 13x9 inch baking dish.  Spread half of the shredded cabbage in it.
Remember, I cut the recipe in half for these pictures.
Brown ground beef in a skillet on medium-high with the onion andseasonings.  Sprinkle grated carrot on top of cabbage, then pour ground beef mixture over.
Top with remaining cabbage.
Then pour crushed tomatoes over.
And top with mixed grated cheeses.
Tent dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to bake for 20 more minutes.
Serve with rice.  

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chicken Piccata

"I love chicken. I would eat chicken fingers on Thanksgiving if it were socially acceptable."

~Todd Barry
Last week I received a sample magazine in the mail.  It's called Cuisine at Home.  Not bad, actually.  I took note to try a few recipes in it.  The first one was French Onion Steaks, and was not blogworthy, but this chicken piccata recipe was fast, easy and light.  The piquant sauce with it's note of lemon was delicious and a lovely faux to young, sweet vegetables.  Perfect for spring. Is it my favorite chicken recipe ever? No. But it's a great, quick recipe, perfectly respectable when you would like to whip up something home-made and healthy.
Speaking of are a few shots I took during my 4 mile walk around the neighborhood last week.
I know these are edible, but I've never tried them.
Chicken Piccata

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half and pounded into cutlets.
salt and black pepper
All-purpose flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon drained capers
2 tablespoons butter
Fresh lemon slices
Chopped fresh parsley

Season cutlets with salt and pepper, then dredge them in flour.  In a nonstick pan, heat oil over medium high heat.  
Saute cutlets 3-4 minutes on one side.  Flip them over and saute on the other side 2-3 minutes.  
Transfer cutlets to a warmed platter; pour off fat from pan.
Deglaze pan with wine and add garlic.  Cook for a minute, then add broth and lemon juice and capers.
Return cutlets to pan and cook on each side 1 minute.  Transfer cutlets to warm plates.
Add butter and lemon slices to sauce in pan.  Cook until butter melts.  Pour sauce over cutlets.  
Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.