Saturday, 28 February 2009

Buttermilk Bran Loaf

I found this recipe many years ago in Encore: the Leftover Cookbook, by Betty Jane Wylie. I was pretty dubious about trying it - no oil? no eggs? hellova lotta bran? - but I did, and it turned out to be lovely. She called for raisins. Dried cranberries would be more local. Chocolate chips are what I actually used. For some reason I love the combination of chocolate and bran, and let's face it, there are worse things to eat with chocolate. Better things to eat with bran, maybe, but I prefer to think of it as redeeming my chocolate chip intake.

Actually, that book had a lot of influence on my recipe writing style. She was a very chatty and relaxed author, and made no attempt to imitate the I-am-the-food-scientist-home-economist-expert-you-must-obey-my-every-detailed-command style of recipe writing that was then still pretty prevalent in most cookbooks. Of course if you are going to write about leftovers, it's hard to get too scientific in your demands, but it was a book you could read, and come away feeling like you had had a nice chat with a friend and learned stuff too.

As with other recipes containing extravagant quantities of bran, consumer discretion is advised. Also if you wait until it cools to cut it, your chocolate chips won't smear, unlike mine.

12 servings
1 1/2 hours - 10 minutes work time, if you drag it out

Buttermilk Bran Loaf with Chocolate Chips
2 cups bran
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup Sucanat or dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips
2 cups buttermilk

Mix all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir in the buttermilk. Let the batter sit for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a standard sized loaf pan.

Scrape the batter evenly into the prepared pan, and bake the loaf for 45 to 50 minutes until it passes the old doneness test with a toothpick.

Let it cool. Slice it up. Eat it with butter and a nice cuppa tea. I'm putting this in because I can't believe the instructions are over already... but they are.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls with Cheese, Wild Rice & Mushroom Sauce

In spite of the long, detailed instructions, these aren't particularly difficult or time-consuming to put together. That is, you should start them in plenty of time - at least two hours before you plan to eat - but the actual amount of work is fairly minimal. You could, if you wished, cook the wild rice in the morning before you go to work, then have the dinner finished in not much more than an hour once you come come home.

3 to 4 servings
1 hour, not including cooking the wild rice.
15 minutes prep time

Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls with Cheese, Wild Rice and Mushroom Sauce
Get Started:
1 cup raw wild rice
3 cups of water
pinch of salt

Put this in your rice cooker, and turn it on. Do this at least an hour before assembling the cabbage rolls. Two cups of the cooked rice will go into the cabbage rolls; the remainder can be reheated and serve as a bed for cabbage rolls. Or you can do something else with it altogether, if you prefer.

Also, if for reasons of fiscal prudence you wish to use 1/3 cup wild rice to 2/3 cup barley or brown rice instead of all wild rice, you can do that too. The end result will not be quite so luxurious, but then that would be the point, wouldn't it?

Make the Cabbage Rolls:
6 large cabbage leaves, savoy for preference
250 grams ricotta cheese (1 cup, about)
150 grams feta cheese
2 cups cooked wild rice
2 extra large eggs
1/4 cup minced fresh chives,
OR 2 tablespoons dried chives
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon savory
1 clove of garlic
200 grams button mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter

Put a large pot of water on to boil.

Remove the 6 best, largest leaves from the outside of a large cabbage. (You're on your own with the rest of the thing - check the index.)

Once the water comes to a boil, put the chosen and selected cabbage leaves into it, one or two at a time, and push them under. Let them cook for 2 or 3 minutes until soft and pliable. Remove them to a strainer in the sink, and run them under cold water to stop them from cooking any further. Repeat with the remaining cabbage leaves. Drain them well.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix the ricotta, the chopped feta cheese, the cooked but cooled wild rice, the eggs and the seasonings, not including the garlic.

Peel and mince the garlic. Clean and chop the mushrooms. Heat the butter in a medium sized skillet until hot and foaming. Add the mushrooms and sauté them until soft and slightly browned. Add the garlic, and stir for a minute or two more, until the garlic is strongly fragrant. Add the mushrooms and garlic to the cheese mixture, and stir well. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Shave down the thick part of the stems of the prepared cabbage leaves, so that they are thin enough to roll nicely. Put 1/6th of the cheese mixture in the middle of each leaf, and fold up the stem side of the leaf to cover it. Fold in the two sides, then roll over the remaining side. Place the cabbage rolls, seam side down, in a shallow casserole. Make sure the bottom of the casserole is wet - they shouldn't be sitting in any appreciable amount of water, but you don't want them to dry out and scorch. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and bake the cabbage rolls for 45 minutes.

Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls with Cheese, Wild Rice and Mushroom Sauce
Make the Mushroom Sauce:
500 grams to 600 grams button mushrooms
1 clove of garlic
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
a little shot of Worcestershire sauce
3 cups milk

Clean and slice the mushrooms. Peel and mince the garlic. Start making the sauce about 15 minutes before the cabbage rolls are done.

Heat the butter in the skillet, and when it is hot and foaming add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and lightly browned. Add the garlic, and sprinkle them with the flour and salt. Mix well, until the flour disappears into the butter. Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Slowly stir in the milk, a little at a time, until evenly absorbed. You may wish to stop and scrape down your spoon, to help avoid lumps. Once all the milk is in, continue stirring until the sauce thickens. Reduce the heat to very low until you are ready to pour it over the cabbage rolls and serve them.

In fact, I put in a teaspoon of mustard instead of the Worcestershire sauce, but on reflection I think the Worcestershire sauce would be better.

Last year at this time I made Cape Breton Scones.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Mushroom Barley Soup

Over the years of making this soup I have concluded that the secret to really good mushroom-barley soup is to take it easy with the barley, and to go crazy with the mushrooms. I've always used chicken stock in the past, but this time I had some broth that was a mix of lamb and beef, and it was very good. It would also be quite easy to make this into a vegetarian soup.

6 to 8 servings
1 hour prep time - plus time to cook the barley

Mushroom Barley Soup
1/2 cup raw pot barley
1 1/2 cups water
pinch of salt

2 medium leeks
1 medium carrot
2 stalks of celery
2 cups finely chopped cabbage
2 - 4 tablespoons chicken fat, or oil
4 cups sliced button mushrooms, or more
2/3 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups water
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Cook the barley in the first amount of water with the salt. I do it in the rice-cooker, but you could do it on top of the stove. You will need to watch it closely, and maybe use more water.

Meanwhile, peel the leeks and carrot, and dice them. Chop the celery and cabbage. Clean and slice the mushrooms, discarding the stems from the shiitakes.

Sauté the leeks, carrot, celery and cabbage in half of the fat or oil, until soft and translucent. Put them in a large soup pot with the broth, water, tamari and Worcestershire sauce. Add the barley too, when it's done.

Sauté the mushrooms, both kinds, in the remaining fat or oil. When they are soft and slightly browned, add them to the soup.

Simmer the soup for about 20 minutes or half an hour to meld the flavours.

Last year at this time I made Sauerkraut & Onion Smothered Pot Roast, and Glazed Rutabaga & Apricots.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Cranberry-Apple Beets

Well, that took a little longer than expected. However, the kitchen is painted and so is the hallway. Between them they are not a lot of square footage, but what with the cabinets and the seven door frames and the stair railing to paint around, not to mention the wall by the stairs down that can only be reached by ladder, it was some slow work. However, it's done! All I need to do now is paint all those door frames. (And the bathroom, and the laundry room, and the closets, and the basement, and...) It's getting there.

As for this, you will need some frozen cranberries, as fresh are not around at the moment. But you did throw a few bags into the freezer back then, didn't you? This is the time of year I start poking around in the freezer and thinking, oh yes, must use that up.

4 servings
1 hour 20 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

Cranberry-Apple Beets
2 medium-large beets
2/3 to 3/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 large apple
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup apple cider, orange juice or water

Cook the beets, either by covering them with water and boiling until tender (about 45 minutes) or by roasting them until tender.

Let them cool sufficiently to handle, then peel them and dice them. Put them in a pot with the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or so, until the cranberries are popped and cooked. Actually, I didn't add the apple until half-way through the cooking, to keep the pieces whole, but it's up to you.

Lst year at this time I made: Turkish Kofta (Lamb Meatballs) and Sour Cream Fruit Crumble Pie. There was also Into the Wayback Machine - February 21, 1962 in two parts.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Kitchen Closed for Painting

Wot it says.

I should be back next week sometime with a newly yellow kitchen.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Almond Pound Cake - Gluten Free Wedding Cake, Take One

My cousin is getting married this summer, and I have offered to make the wedding cake as my present to them. Since the groom is gluten-intolerant, it will need to be a gluten-free cake, one which will still also be sturdy enough to be a wedding cake.

I've made this pound cake quite often - it's a fabulous cake - but this is my first attempt at making it gluten-free. I also made 1 1/3 times the recipe in order to fill an 8" round pan generously. This is likely the size that the wedding cake will be - actually 3 cakes, displayed on a 3-armed cake stand. I note that in fact I'm probably better off making a single recipe twice and then stacking them, in order to get the height that I will need for each cake.

Recently I've been noticing coconut flour in the Bulk Barn's gluten-free section, so this is my first try at baking with it. The flavour is good; a very subtle bit of coconut that goes well with the almond flavour. I'm finding this cake just the slightest bit dry, but I think that's because I let it sit for 3 days before I iced it and cut it. Hmm, I'll have to try it again...

Note: I have tried again, and here's the final and better version.

8 servings
1 hour - 15 minutes prep time

Gluten-Free Almond Pound Cake
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 extra-large eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons water
1 cup soft unbleached flour
OR 1/2 cup rice flour and 1/2 cup coconut flour
1 cup finely ground blanched almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and flour a standard loaf pan or an 8" x 8" baking pan.

Cream the butter with the sugar and salt. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the almond extract and the water.

Measure the flour(s), ground nuts and baking powder and mix them together. Mix this into the wet ingredients in two equal batches.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it out. It will be fairly stiff. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Honey-Garlic Lamb Ribs

If you buy a whole lamb for the freezer (or even a half, I suppose) then once or twice a year you will have a lamb rib feast. For the last few years I have been making Curried Lamb Ribs, but I thought I would try something different this year. As I noted in that recipe, I think the combination of lamb ribs and barbecue sauce is just nasty. However, I decided that a honey-garlic sauce would probably be delicious, which indeed it was. Very simple too, if you leave aside the fact that lamb ribs are always going to be rather time consuming and picky to deal with.

4 servings
Overnight, plus 1 hour prep time plus 3 hours cooking time

Honey-Garlic Lamb Ribs
2 kilos (4 pounds) lamb ribs

4 to 8 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 to 4 pieces star anise
4 to 6 dried red chiles

Put the ribs in a large pot with sufficient water to just cover them. Bring to a boil and simmer them for about an hour. Let them cool, and chill them overnight. In the morning, remove the fat from the top of the broth and ribs. Cut each strip of ribs into sections of either individual ribs or 2 or 3 together. Peel off as much fat still on each section as you can.

Peel and mince the garlic. Mix it with the remaining ingredients. Spread the ribs in a large, shallow pan (ye olde lasagne pan again, the big one) and mix in the sauce. Cover the pan with foil. If you can let the ribs marinate for an hour or two, so much the better.

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Place the covered ribs in the oven and bake for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until very tender. Stir occasionally. The sauce should be mostly absorbed, and the ribs darkened but not burnt. (Duh.)

Last year at this time I made Three Sauerkraut Salads and Rhubarb Meringue Pie.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Sunflower Vegetable Paté

This is a very nice vegetarian paté. Hard to photograph, since it's basically a beige lump, but trust me; it's tasty. It makes a lot, but it freezes well if you don't think you are going to use it all within a reasonable time. (I would think a reasonable time would be a week in the fridge.) You could cut the recipe in half fairly easily as well.

It's not a bad idea to lightly toast the sunflower seeds in a dry skillet beforehand. Let them cool before you start.

12 to 24 servings
1 hour 15 minutes - 15 minutes prep time

Sunflower Vegetable Pate
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chickpea (gram) flour
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup sunflower seed oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup (6 ish) dried tomatoes, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved

1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon savory

1 1/2 cups of water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two standard loaf pans.

Put everything into a food processor, pretty much in the order listed. Purée until the mixture is quite smooth; there will be detectable little vegetable chips, but there shouldn't be any actual chunks.

Divide the mixture between the two prepared pans. Bake them at 350°F for 1 hour, until firm and lightly browned.

Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, with bread, chips or crackers. Top with alfalfa sprouts or a slice of tomato or pickle.

Last year at this time I made a Blueberry-Pear Frappé.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Dad's Bean Soup

Nostalgic nutrition! This is a soup Dad used to make quite often when I was a kid, or rather when I was in my teens. Being of American extraction, he used black-eyed peas, and I have to admit I like them a tiny bit better in this soup, but alas they are not local, being a different, frost-tender species of bean. I hadn't made this in a few years, but it was a staple when I was a poor student - thanks, Dad!

I don't always have bouillon cubes, and in that case I would throw in a tablespoon or two of miso instead. I think twice about putting cabbage in soups, as it can be a bit too dominant, but I think a little cabbage could go into this, if you wanted it and had it. If you think it is a bit thin, you could also throw in a little tomato sauce or paste. You may need to add some salt, depending on your bouillon cube (or miso). "Tin" of tomatoes is a bit vague, but it's that kind of recipe. Put in what you want. Like a lot of dried bean dishes it's a bit time-consuming to make, but not actually a whole lot of work.

8 servings
Overnight, at least - 45 minutes prep time

Dad's Bean Soup
2 cups dried navy(pea) beans
2 or 3 bay leaves
water to cover, x 2

1 large carrot
2 medium onions
4 stalks of celery
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large tin diced or crushed tomatoes
1 bouillon cube
1 teaspoon each basil, rosemary and thyme
½ teaspoon each pepper and Tabasco sauce

Cover the beans with boiling water and soak overnight. Drain, rinse and put back in the soup pot with enough fresh water to cover.

Add the bay leaves, bring to a simmer and simmer until tender.

Peel and dice the carrot. Peel and chop the onions. Chop the celery. Sauté them in the oil until soft and translucent. Add them to the soup

Add the tomatoes, with their juice, the bouillon cube and the seasonings. Simmer together for about an hour.

The soup can be served now but is better reheated the next day.

Last year at this time I made Curried Lamb Ribs. Funny thing; this years lamb ribs are sitting in the fridge, thawing out right now.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Baked Scotch Eggs

I don't do deep fried food at home. As a landlord, I found myself obsessively reading about house and apartment fires in the paper. They all seemed to boil down to faulty wiring, careless smoking, or putting a pot of oil on the stove then wandering away. Given my well-documented ability to forget what I am doing right in the middle of doing it, deep-frying is not for me. I figure I can find other, less dangerous, ways to stuff myself with an excessive quantity of calories.

I do like a nice Scotch egg though. Baking them means they are less greasy and much easier to clean up after. One of these is actually quite substantial - serve it with a little salad, and you've got a full meal. I keep meaning to try them with smaller eggs - I think they would make a great appetizer made with quails eggs, cut in half.

Note: November 13, 2009. I made these using quail eggs, which worked very well. Boil eggs 1 minute, leave in the hot water for 5 minutes. One pound sausage mixture will cover 12 quail eggs. Bake them for 20 to 25 minutes. Mind you, the quail eggs are picky and I'm not sure you might not be just as well off cutting larger eggs into quarters to serve as an appetizer.

4 servings
2 hours - 30 minutes prep time, and one hour to chil

Baked Scotch Eggs
4 large eggs, hard boiled (not too large)

450 grams (1 pound) ground lean pork or ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon clove

1 large egg
2 cups fine dry breadcrumbs

Hard boil the eggs by putting them in a pot with cold water to cover, and a tablespoon of salt. Bring them to a boil, boil for one minute, then turn them off and leave them covered for 10 minutes.

Rinse them in cold water until they are cold enough to handle. Peel them and set them aside.

Mix the meat with the seasonings. Of course, you could also just use prepared sausage meat.

Wet each egg in water then dust it with flour until evenly coated. Take one quarter of the prepared meat, and wrap it as neatly and evenly as possible around each egg so they are completely covered.

Beat the remaining raw egg, and roll each egg in it until coated, then likewise with the breadcrumbs. Chill the prepared eggs for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400°F and bake the eggs for 30 minutes, until the meat is done and the eggs are hot through.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Tuna & Pea Salad

This is something I often make for a quick lunch when I am not feeling too inspired... and I'm not feeling too inspired at the moment, I have to admit. (I'm trying to psych myself up for painting the rest of the kitchen, and the lack of inspiration is contagious.) It's very quick and easy, and reasonably tasty and nutritious. I figure it serves one because I tend to regard it as my entire lunch, but if you wanted to eat something else as well, like a bowl of soup and some bread, it would stretch to two. Not wildly local, I'm afraid, unless you have frozen your own peas.

1 to 2 servings
10 minutes prep time

Tuna and Pea Salad
1 cup frozen peas
1 tin chunk light tuna
1 tablespoon vinegar
mayonnaise to taste
1 green onion, minced (optional)
1 small carrot, peeled & finely grated (optional)
1 stalk of celery, minced (optional)

Put the frozen peas on to cook. Once they are boiling, drain them and cool them in cold water.

Meanwhile, open and drain the tuna and mix it with the vinegar, the mayonnaise, and any or all of the optional extras. Mix in the cold, drained peas. Dust with a little pepper if you like, and dig in.

Last year at this time I made Stir-Fried Beef & Cabbage with Shiitakes.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Szegedin Goulash

This is traditionally made with stewing pork, but with a freezer full of beef it seemed more practical to make a beef goulash. Still very delicious; still rather rich. I used a low fat sour cream and thought it was a good idea, even though I prefer a full-fat sour cream for most purposes. Serve it over boiled potatoes, noodles or rice. I like a simple steamed fairly astringent dark green vegetable served with this to counterbalance the richness.

Like most stews, this is better made in advance and reheated at serving time. A day ahead is good, but even an hour or two to cool down and allow the meat to relax will improve the tenderness.

6 servings
2 hours 15 minutes - 15 minutes prep time

Szegedin Goulash
900 grams lean boneless stewing pork or beef
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, ground
3 or 4 slices fatty bacon
OR 3 tablespoons lard or bacon fat
3 medium onions
3 large cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
2 cups broth or water
2 to 3 cups drained sauerkraut
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup sour cream

Peel and dice the onions. Peel and mince the garlic. If using bacon, chop it finely.

Render the bacon in a large skillet, and brown the meat in the resulting fat (or just plonk the lard into the pan, if using. Actually, I used oil, being out of any of the previous.) I also browned half the meat at the time as otherwise the pan will be so crowded the meat will just steam. Season it with the salt and pepper.

Once the (second batch of) meat is on the way to being browned, add the chopped onions, and allow them to soften and brown as well. When nearly done, add the garlic and the paprika and cook for a minute or two longer. Put all of this in a large stew pot. Use the broth or water to deglaze the skillet, and add that to the stew pot as well. Cover the pot and simmer gently for about 45 minutes.

Add the sauerkraut, rinsed and drained if you think it is too strongly flavoured, or not if it isn't, and simmer for another 45 minutes to an hour. At this point, I think it best to let the goulash cool before proceeding.

To serve, add the caraway seeds and reheat the goulash. Once it is good and hot, reduce the heat. Mix the flour and sour cream well, removing all lumps. Stir it into the goulash, and as soon as it thickens, the goulash can be served. As ever, it should not boil once the sour cream goes in.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

English Carrot-Almond Cake

This recipe is adapted from one in Jane Grigson's excellent book English Food which was published in the 1970's; she in turn gives its source as The Oxford High School Cook Book.

Compared to the carrot cake that first burst upon the North American scene at the same time that this one was making its debut in Britain, this one is extremely restrained. (You know the one. It had 4 eggs like this one, and lots of sugar like this one, and nuts, but went on to add lots of flour, pineapple or raisins, coconut and one and one half cups of oil. Topped with cream cheese icing. But it had carrots, and the flour was whole wheat so it was health-food. Oy.)

Actually, I don't know what to say about the icing. I feel like it does need one, but I'm not sure the one I used was the best choice. It was just a lemon buttercream, with lots of lemon juice so it was a bit thin and glaze-like, and I thought it was a bit too sweet and intense for this cake, which is a little on the delicate side. I'm not sure what would be better though. I hate to say it, but maybe a lemony cream cheese icing... ? Actually, the recipe as originally published called for a 9" by 13" pan in a single layer, and perhaps a more thinly applied lemon glaze would work well with that configuration.

This cake went to the pot-luck along with the potato casserole, and my sweetie wanted the picture to contain the rainbows cast by the prisms in the old stained glass window in the Meeting room, so it does. I like that one of them is almost heart-shaped.

Because this was a British recipe, it originally called for some ingredients by weight. I'm including the measures I used and the weights from the original recipe. Since it was so close anyway, I also converted it to gluten-free. My almonds had been in the back of the freezer for a while, so I threw in a 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract to liven them up a little.

8 to 12 servings
1 hour 15 minutes - 40 minutes prep time - not including icing

English Carrot-Almond Cake
4 extra large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar (1/2 pound which is more like 1 1/2 cups)
the grated zest of 1 lemon
2 1/2 cups ground unblanched almonds (1/2 pound)
- (mine were blanched)
2 cups lightly packed finely grated carrots (1/2 pound)
1 tablespoon rice flour
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/8 teaspoon baking powder

Be sure to have the carrots peeled and grated ahead of starting, and in general, all the ingredients ready to go. Line the bottoms of 2 round 8" pans with parchment paper, and butter the pans and paper lightly. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Separate the eggs, putting both whites and yolks into medium sized mixing bowls. Beat the egg whites until stiff.

Add the sugar and lemon zest to the egg yolks in the other bowl, and beat them for 5 minutes with the electric mixer.

Gently fold the almonds and carrots into the egg yolk and sugar mixture. Mix the rice flour and corn starch with the baking powder, and fold that into the mixture. Gently fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.

Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared pans, and smooth it out. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until firm and a toothpick tests clean. Let the cakes cool in the pan before removing to ice and serve. Careful; they are a bit delicate.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Cheesy Potato Casserole

Gosh! It's potatoes! Who could ever have seen that coming? I took advantage of the fact that there was a pot-luck on Sunday to dispose of a few more potatoes from the never-ending sack. They didn't seem to be tired of them there, and we managed to choke them down too. That's because we never get tired of cheese and butter.

Because this was a pot-luck, I made a huge amount. You could cut this in half quite easily if you are not expecting 18 to dinner. That's my large lasagne pan, filled to the brim.

You could serve this as a side-dish, but with all the cheese and eggs, I would think of it more as a main dish. Oh, and hey; look Ma, no bacon! Although you could, I suppose.

8 to 12 servings
2 hours 15 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

Cheesy Potato Casserole
9 medium potatoes (1.5 kilos? 3 pounds?)
3 to 4 shallots
1 medium carrot
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons minced dried chives - 1/2 cup fresh would be better
1 teaspoon oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, ground, or more
1 cup milk or light cream
2 cups grated extra-old cheddar, or more
6 extra-large eggs
aaand another 2 tablespoons of butter or so

Peel - yes, really; I don't usually but this should be quite smooth - the potatoes. Cut them in chunks and put them in a pot with water to cover. Boil until tender; about 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and mince the shallots. Peel and finely grate the carrot. Sauté them very gently in the butter, mixing in the seasonings just before they are done. The vegetables should be soft, and just showing signs of browning.

When the potatoes are done, drain them well. Mash them and mix in the milk or cream. Mix in about 2/3 or 3/4 of the cheese. Mix in the sautéd vegetables and seasoning mixture.

Once the potatoes have cooled enough that they won't cook the eggs, beat them in one at a time. Use the remaining butter to generously grease your large, shallow baking pan. Scrape in the potato mixture and spread it out. Sprinkle it with the remaining grated cheese.

Bake the casserole at 350°F for one to one and a half hours, until nicely browned. Serve hot.

Last year at this time I made Chile con Carne and Red Fife Whole Wheat Bread. Actually, my sweetie made that bread this week and he's been lobbying for some chile too. Funny how that works.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Peanut Salad Dressing

This is in some ways quite similar to the Japanese style carrot dressing I made last week, although it's higher in fat thanks to the peanut butter. But that also means it's got a little protein too - not a bad thing if salad is most of the dinner. Throw in a hard boiled egg or two, and it could be easily.

The end flavour is fairly different too. I prefer this on a more robust salad than one that's mainly lettuce or other such light greens, which I think is better with the carrot dressing. I used this one on mixed cabbages, carrots and apples which stand up to it better.

ps: And if you bought locally grown and ground peanut butter, well then; no worries.

6 to 8 servings
10 minutes prep time not including salad

Peanut Salad Dressing
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
2 cubic inches peeled fresh ginger
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup water

chopped peanuts

Put the peanut butter into a small bowl. Grate the ginger very finely into it. Add the soy sauce and vinegar, stirring well between each addition. Slowly mix in the water, making sure to keep the dressing smooth and lump free.

Serve it over whatever salad you like. I used a mix of Savoy and red cabbage, grated carrot and chopped apple. You could add some raisins, if so inclined. It would also be good on just cucumbers, peeled and sliced, or lightly steamed but cold green beans in the summer.

Garnish the salad with a sprinkling of chopped peanuts.

Last year at this time I made Corn Pudding.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Split Pea or Lentil Curry

I've made this a few times now as a relatively fast and easy vegetarian supper. You can make it thick and serve it with bread, potatoes or rice, or thin it down and serve it as a soup. I use Yeo's Malaysian curry, which should be relatively easy to find.

4 servings (more for soup)
1 hour 15 minutes - 15 minutes prep time

Split Pea Curry
3 shallots
2 medium carrots
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 cubic inches peeled fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon Malaysian curry powder

1 1/4 cups yellow split peas OR red lentils
500 ml (2 cups) coconut milk
4 cups water, or more
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt

Peel and mince the shallots. Peel and grate the carrots. Put the oil in a heavy bottomed pot, and sauté the shallots and carrots gently in it. Meanwhile, have the garlic and ginger peeled and standing by. Grate them into the sautéing vegetables, and mix in the curry powder.

When the mixture is fragrant and just showing faint signs of browning, add the peas or lentils, the coconut milk and 4 cups of water. Mix well and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Add the salt, and simmer the curry, stirring frequently, until the peas or lentils are cooked and basically dissolve. Add more water as needed to keep the mixture from getting too thick and scorching, and also to get it to the consistency you want, whether that of a purée or a soup.

Like most cooked dried legume dishes, this is better made at least a day ahead and re-heated.

Last year at this time I made Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Stuffed Baked Potatoes

The quantities given are for one person; make as many as needed. This makes a good main dish with a green salad or a vegetabley soup. I made mine with shallots, although I think green onions are better. Alas, they are not in season at the moment. I'm even out of dried chives, or I would have added some just for a touch of colour.

I used very good lean bacon for this. If yours is not so lean, you may wish to cook it separately first, so you can drain off most of the fat before sautéing the mushrooms and shallots in the remainder. And also use the larger amount, as it will shrink considerably more.

Yes I am still working my way through that 75 pound bag of potatoes. The good news is we are about half-way through; the bad news is they are showing signs of sprouting. That's not all bad news; they weren't treated to stop them sprouting and I prefer that. Still, there's going to be a lot of potato dishes around here for the next few weeks.

1 serving or more
1 1/2 hours - 20 minutes prep time

Stuffed Baked Potatoes
1 large baking potato
1 or 2 slices good bacon
1 small shallot or green onion
3 or 4 medium button mushrooms
salt & pepper
1/4 teaspoon savory
50 to 75 grams extra-old cheddar (1 1/2 to 2 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wash the potatoes, and poke them in a few spots with a fork. Bake them for about one hour, until cooked.

About 15 minutes before they are done, start preparing the filling. Chop up the bacon and put it in a skillet. Peel and finely mince the shallots or green onion. Clean and slice the mushrooms. Add these to the skillet with the bacon. Grate the cheese, and set it aside.

Sauté the bacon, mushrooms and shallots or green onions. (If you use green onions, don't add them to the pan right away - add them when the mushrooms and bacon are half done.) When the bacon is crisp and the mushrooms are soft and lightly browned, remove the mixture to a bowl.

When the potatoes are done, remove them from the oven. Turn the heat in the oven up to 500°F.

Cut each potato in half lengthwise but across the narrowest spot. Scoop out most of the flesh and add it to the bowl with the other ingredients. Place the boat-shaped piece of remaining potato and skin on a baking sheet.

Roughly chop the cooked potato centres into the bacon and mushroom mixture. Season - keeping in mind the saltiness of your bacon, which can vary considerably - and stir in the grated cheese. (You may wish to reserve a little to sprinkle on top.)

Put the potato mixture back into the potato skins, mounding gently. Sprinkle with a little paprika and/or extra grated cheese if you like. Return them to the oven and bake them for 10 to 15 minutes until hot through and nicely browned.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Apple Snow with Custard

Another really old fashioned apple dessert. There are several versions with names like Apple Snow, Apple Whip and Apple Float in my Canadian Farm Cookbook of 1911; here's one "by Courtesy of the Women's Institute Section of Dept. of Agriculture" no less: "Make the old-fashioned apple sauce by stewing the apples until soft, sweeten and beat, then add the beaten whites of eggs, and pile on nice white dish. This can be served with a soft custard made from the yokes (sic) of the eggs."

I like how they can't be bothered to give you any quantities - never mind directions - but it's important the that the dish be a nice white one. (As you can see, I'm an iconoclast.)

My home-canned applesauce worked well in this. I am being a little vague about the amount, because it will depend on how stiff your applesauce is, and how apple-y you want it. I also figure it's better to make a Swiss meringue base, as it cooks the egg white and more to the point as far as I am concerned, makes the meringue a bit stiffer so it holds up the applesauce better.

Just in case anyone failed to notice; I'm a total sucker for this kind of mooshy, custardy dessert. Better than cake any day.

4 servings
30 minutes prep time

Apple Snow with Custard
Apple Snow:
1 extra-large egg white
1/4 cup sugar
1 to 1 1/2 cups unsweetened apple sauce

Put the egg white and sugar in the top of a double boiler. As the double boiler heats, beat the egg white and sugar with an electric beater. Continue beating until the egg white forms stiff glossy peaks. Remove from the heat at once. Fold in the apple sauce gently, and pile the resulting "snow" in a serving dish. Keep chilled until serving time. It may be a little lumpy and streaky, which is fine. Although do try to avoid overcooking the meringue, which will contribute to that lumpy streaky effect more than desired.

1 extra-large egg
1 extra-large egg yolk
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Wash out your double boiler; you now need it again. By the way, I use a metal bowl on top of a regular pot for my double boiler - the round shape is easier to work with than my actual double boiler pot. Whisk the egg and egg yolk with the sugar and salt in said double boiler. Slowly whisk in the milk. Heat the mixture, stirring frequently at the beginning and constantly at the end, until the mixture thickens and becomes custardy. Remove it from the heat and mix in the vanilla.

To Serve:
Serve the warm (but not too hot) custard over the apple snow. Remember, once it thickens it should be cooked no longer. It will get a little thicker as it cools. This is a "pouring" custard so it won't be as thick as pudding. I make the custard just before dinner; it should still be a little warm when dinner is over, or you can re-heat it gently. Leftovers, of course, go into the fridge.

Last year at this time I made Lamb Chops with Apple Butter Glaze, and Rutabaga and Apple Curry.