Monthly Archives: June 2013

Strawberries and Angel Food Cake

One of Jeff’s favorites is Angel Food Cake with strawberries inside. Marlys made this for him several times. After cooking the Angel Food Cake, she would cut a cylinder out between the tube and the outside of the cake, and stuff it with strawberries, then seal it and coat the top with Cool Whip.
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I have made this for Jeff a couple times; I use Creme Chantilly instead of Cool Whip. I decided to try making it a little different this time.

Strawberries and Angel Food Cake

  • 1 Angel Food Cake mix
  • 2 recipes of Strawberry Sauce (Save out about 6 perfect strawberries)
  • 2 recipes of Creme Chantilly

Make the Angel Food Cake a day ahead so it is good and cooled before starting to carve it. Don’t make it too far ahead of time because I think it settles. I made it 48 hours ahead of time, and it appears smaller now.

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Carve the Angel Food Cake so as to remove all the cake from about the center of the distance between the tube and the outer edge. Save these cake pieces as they will be used as a bottom and layers.

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Fit several of the saved pieces of cake into the bottom of the remaining cylinder of cake. Spread some Creme Chantilly over those cake pieces to make a better bottom in the cavity. Place Strawberry Sauce in the cavity on top of the new bottom. Try to not use too much juice; the extra juice will be used as a glaze on the original cake section.

Repeat putting saved cake pieces into the cavity and then adding Creme Chantilly and finally Strawberry Sauce. I got two layers of Strawberry Sauce.

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Poke with a knife all over the top of the original cake and slowly spoon the remaining juice of the Strawberry Sauce over the original cake and let it sink into the cake.

Now use the remaining Creme Chantilly ice the top of the cake. And finally place the 6 saved perfect strawberries on top in a nice circle.


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The cake mix is fairly explicit about how to mix it up; I used a Betty Crocker mix, and it gives times for mixing at two different speeds. Then it gets wishy-washy on the time to cook the cake; mine came out a little dark on top, which I hide with the Creme Chantilly icing.
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And after all that, I am not certain but that taking a cylinder of cake from the middle- between the tube and the edge of the cake- doesn’t make for a better cake. It seems to ensure that each slice gets strawberries, whereas I saw several people take slices of this cake without getting the strawberries in the center- they cut their wedge too short and didn’t go all the way to the center.
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Foil Fowl

There is more to Foil Fowl than will first be apparent. To start, it is a simple, easy way to bake a chicken breast and have it moist. And while it is designed for the person cooking as one, the ideas and concepts easily expand to cooking for a family.
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The concept is that you make a sealed package of ingredients, bake it, and when it is done, you open the package and serve the cooked ingredients. It is a very simple matter to make multiple packages if you are cooking for more than yourself. And, if there are quite a few people eating, you can make the whole recipe in a covered casserole dish and then divide it up at the table.

Foil Fowl

  • chicken breast meat (raw, skinned and boned)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh mushroom slices (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoon finely minced onion (or dried onion flakes)
  • 1 Tablespoon finely minced celery
  • 1 Tablespoon finely minced carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter dotted on top

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Prepare one foil piece for each serving (12″ x 18″ heavy duty foil).
Place a chicken breast in middle of foil. Splash each breast with lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Place vegetables on top. Finally, dot the top with butter.
(To reduce calories, we use spray butter; in that case, butter goes on the breast just after the lemon juice).

Fold the opposite ends of the foil over the food so that the ends meet. Turn up the edges, forming a 1/2″ fold. Double fold and press the edges together tightly to seal, allowing some space for heat circulation and expansion. Seal each end, using the same technique. Place the foil packets on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

While chicken is cooking, prepare noodles (about 3 oz. per serving) or rice.

Remove chicken packets from oven; cut an X in top of each packet. Fold the foil back. Place a chicken piece over each serving of noodles/rice and spoon the accumulated juices and vegetables over the top.

A variation on this is to cook all the chicken breasts in a covered baking dish; use foil as a cover if the dish doesn’t have a tight fitting cover.
Bake for about 1 hour.

The recipe uses a mirepoix; that is the French term for a combination of the basic aromatic vegetables – onion, celery and carrot- usually in the ratio of 2:1:1. You could as easily use the Italian version which is a soffritto consisting of onion, garlic and celery, or even the Cajon / Creole “holy trinity” which is onion, celery and bell pepper.
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The mirepoix is just the starting point of flavoring the meat. The recipe adds mushrooms, and you could add wine, or any other flavor you would like. One of the good reasons for using the individual packages is that Marlys loved mushrooms, and I have a problem digesting them. So I avoid mushrooms. With the individual packages Marlys could add the mushrooms to her package and omit them from mine. I tend to add extra carrots to replace the mushrooms – what we call Errol’s orange mushrooms.

Generally, I figure that a chicken breast is about 8 ounces; I like to use about 4 ounces of meat in a serving so we would normally cut the chicken breast into two pieces, giving us each a 4 ounce serving.
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And while the packages are cooking, there is plenty of time to make a side dish of rice or pasta. I prepared 3 ounces of farfalle – bow tie noodles and then put the content of the foil fowl package right on top of the pasta. I always have a problem with deciding how much rice to make; I know the expansion factor is about 3- 1 cup of raw rice makes 3 cups of cooked rice. I probably need to cook a couple tablespoons of raw rice in about 1/3 cup of water. I guess an easier solution is what my sister does, which is to make a lot of rice, and freeze it then take out however much you desire.

Coconut Lime Cookies

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I started my quest for a coconut lime cookie with a recipe for Coconut-Lime-Oatmeal cookies. I got feedback that they were not “limey” enough, so I developed this recipe. I had a couple different objectives; one was to increase the amount of lime zest and lime juice. The second was to eliminate the oatmeal and have the coconut and lime be adequate.

In that journey to develop a different cookie, there have been many missteps, but I feel the recipe is now ready for its public appearance. My exploration included using different types of fat, different cooking timesand temperatures, and different amounts of flour. I made many biscuit-like cookies that didn’t look nice because they didn’t have the spread that we expect in a drop cookie. I will admit that these cookies are not as soft as the ones with oatmeal in them, but they do have some spread and are not my little biscuits.

Coconut Lime Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • zest of 2 lime
  • 4 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup toasted flaked coconut*

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  • Cream the shortening and sugars.
  • Add lime juice, lime zest, vanilla and eggs and beat until combined.
  • Add flour, baking soda, and salt and beat until just combined.
  • Mix in coconut flakes.
  • Place 2-tablespoon-size balls of dough on lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake 15 minutes; cookies should be golden around the edges but still soft in the center, .
  • Cool on baking sheets 3 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.

*How to Toast Coconut

Spread coconut in shallow baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently.

Or, spread in microwavable pie plate. Microwave on HIGH 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring after every minute.

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When I went shopping for fresh limes, I discovered that they range in size at different markets. Some were small, and I avoided those and bought nice big plump limes. As you can see, the lime is half as big as my cell phone. I discovered that each lime would give me at least a Tablespoon of zest and 2 Tablespoons of juice; I didn’t feel I needed to augment the juice with the bottle I have in the refrigerator. And, if you get more than the 2 Tablespoons of juice from the limes you buy, go ahead and put it all in the cookie dough; it should only make the cookies softer and have more spread. I would say up to a total of 6 Tablespoons of lime juice.

Once I had made several dozen cookies with recipes that were not quite right, I found that this recipe can be easily scaled down to half-size, making a couple dozen cookies instead of the four dozen cookies I was getting with the full recipe. The only trick in scaling the recipe in half is with the ¾ cup of brown sugar; think of that as ½ + ¼ cups, and remember that ¼ cup is the same as 4 Tablespoons. So scaling down the recipe means that you would use ¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar.

At the bottom of the recipe, I have included the directions for toasting coconut flakes. That information is available on the coconut flake package, but sometimes it helps to have it here with the recipe. I use the microwave method for toasting the flakes.

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As for the execution of forming the cookies, I used my #50 scoop and dropped them on the silicon mats on my baking sheets; of course, you can line your baking sheets with parchment paper if you don’t have silicon mats. Note that the cooking temperature is slightly lower than for most cookies at 325 degrees; the lower temperature allows the cookie dough to spread more before it sets.

Paska

How about cheese cake without the crust? That is often how people describe Paska. It is a sweet, cheese food that has a history back into eastern Europe. I like it as a snack, but it is also used as part of a meal. My neighbor tasted it, and demanded the recipe so she could make it for Purim/Passover to eat with the matzo bread that is eaten as part of those ceremonies. And, from what I find on the network, it is eaten at Easter in a Russian Orthodox home with a special bread kulich.

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Paska

Nadia Skoblin 1942. (This was a Russian lady Errol knew in Missoula, Montana.)

Ingredients

  • 4 or 5 lbs. cottage cheese (not creamed)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 lb. butter
  • 1 cup mixed candied fruits and raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds.

Cream the butter and sugar. Add finely sieved cottage cheese, a cup at a time, mixing well.

Add the fruit and nuts. Pack firmly in a mold. Cover with cheese cloth. Invert (or set in a dish) so it can drain and age a week or longer in the refrigerator. There will be considerable liquor which drains off so empty container often.

May be sliced to serve at the holidays.

Having made the recipe in January 2012 exactly as we received it from my Mother, I knew I needed to do a lot of experimenting with both the size and the ability to use modern kitchen appliances. Here is the original recipe; I don’t think you should try to use it as it is written.

I made this original version of the recipe with 4 pounds of cottage cheese as it calls out. I must say that sieving that much cottage cheese will develop muscles. I was really tired by the time I finished the sieving. Then, I mixed everything up, and it took two regular bread loaf pans to hold all the paska. I was surprised to find that indeed, I could invert the loaf pans and place them on plates in the refrigerator without the paska trying to drop out and escape.

The trouble came after the week of aging, and draining the excess liquid. When I tried to unmold the paska, it didn’t want to come out of the loaf pans. Even when I ran a knife around the edges of the pan, it was still stuck firmly to the bottom of the pan. I can only say that it was a mess when I finally got it all out of the mold.

So, I had three problems; first, the amount of paska was way too much for me. Second, it is a lot of work to sieve cottage cheese. And finally, I needed to find a way to unmold the paska after it had aged and drained.

The first problem was easily solved; I divided the recipe in fourths, so that only a single pound of cottage cheese was needed. Now, the recipe reads as follows:

Paska

Nadia Skoblin 1942.

Modified for only one pound of cottage cheese by Errol Crary

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. sieved* cottage cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 lb butter
  • 1/4 cup fruit**
  • 2 Tbsp raisins**
  • 2 Tbsp chopped almonds

Cream the butter and sugar. Add finely sieved cottage cheese, a cup at a time, mixing well.

Add the fruit and nuts. Pack firmly in a mold. Cover with cheese cloth. Invert (or set in a dish) so it can drain and age a week or longer in the refrigerator. There will be considerable liquor which drains off so empty container often.

May be sliced to serve at the holidays.

I tried breaking up the curd of the cottage cheese in the food processor, and I think that is an acceptable way of “sieving” the cottage cheese. I will admit that my neighbor thought the paska texture was different, and liked the sieved version better. I couldn’t tell the difference. From my perspective, that solved the second problem. Now, I only had the problem of unmolding to solve.

My original direction on solving that problem was to line the bottom of the molds with plastic wrap before I dumped the paska in. But, just as I didn’t want the paska to stick to the mold, nor did the plastic wrap want to stick to the mold. So, when I turned the mold over to drain, the paska fell out. I solved that problem by using nesting plastic containers. After putting the paska in the lined mold, I placed an identical, nesting container on top of the cheese cloth that was on the paska in the first container. Now, I could turn the nested containers over, and the paska would be forced upward by the bottom of the inner container. I would have stopped at this point, but I found that not all nesting plastic containers worked well; some seemed to slope inward too much, and the paska leaked down between the sides of the containers. (I found square blue-top plastic storage containers worked the best, and you would want to use a size that is over 3 cups – 24 ounces for the one pound cottage cheese version).

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At this point, I started thinking outside of the box- or mold, and found what I think is the perfect answer- a colander! So now I line the colander with cheese cloth, dump in the paska, place a piece of cheese cloth on top, and then place a weighted dish on top of the top cheese cloth. I would say the only trick left is to find a dish that fairly well covers the surface of the paska without binding on the side of the colander. (My little red colander is measured as a 1.5 quart colander).
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The recipe calls for candied fruit; I took that to mean the type of fruit that is in a fruit cake. That is a seasonal item in most stores, and wasn’t available in January when I was first experimenting. So I improvised. I used some dried sweet cherries and Craisins that I had, and diced them down to about ¼ of an inch pieces. That made a pretty red color that was just about right for Valentine’s day when I had hoped to have everything coming together. And, my daughters dislike fruit cake candied fruit, so they were not unhappy with the cherry/Craisin substitution. The main thing to remember no matter what you use is to dice the fruits and nuts down to about ¼ inch.

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Dilly Bread

This bread was a real frustration for me before I learned to knead it in the stand mixer. My skill set did not include kneading dough, and I was never able to make a good loaf of this bread before learning to use the dough hook on the stand mixer.
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Now, this is a simple, easy-to-make recipe that results in an excellent yeast bread with a flavor that I find somewhat addicting.

Dilly Bread

(Catharine P. (Mother) Crary, 1971)

updated for stand mixer by Errol Crary, 2012

Ingredients

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 4 Tablespoons honey (instead of sugar)
  • 2 cup cottage cheese, large curd, luke warm
  • 2 Tablespoon onion, freshly grated
  • 4 Tablespoon butter, melted (try 10 seconds at a time in the microwave)
  • 4 Tablespoons dill seed (NOT dill weed)
  • 3 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 egg
  • 4 to 4 1/2 cups AP flour (I used unbleached flour)

Hardware

  • Two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 loaf pans
  • Stand Mixer with both flat beater and dough hook

Directions

Warm the mixing bowl. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in the warmed mixing bowl. Add the 1 teaspoon of the honey and let stand 5 minutes.

Add the cottage cheese, 4 Tablespoons honey, onion, butter, dill seed, salt and baking soda. Attach the mixing bowl and flat beater to the stand mixer. Turn to Stir Speed, and mix 30 seconds. Add eggs and turn to Stir Speed for 15 seconds.

Exchange the flat beater for the dough hook and add 3 cups flour. After a couple rotations at Stir speed, turn to Speed 2 and mix until combined, about 1 minute. Add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, each time starting at Stir speed and then increasing to Speed 2, until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl. Knead on Speed 2 for 2 minutes longer.

NOTE: Dough may not form a ball on the hook; however, as long as there is contact between dough and hook, kneading will be accomplished. Do NOT add more than the maximum amount of flour specified or dry loaf will result.

Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down and divide into half. Shape each half into a loaf and place in a greased loaf pan. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Slash the loaves diagonally about 3 times each.

Bake at 350°F for 40 to 50 minutes or until done. Watch the tops, and if necessary the last 15 minutes tent with foil.

Remove from pans immediately. Cool on wire racks. Brushed the tops of each loaf with melted butter as soon as they are on the cooling racks and sprinkled with salt.

There are a couple items about the recipe that I should discuss. First, note that the recipe uses honey instead of granulated sugar. And the honey is divided; the first little bit is used to feed the yeast directly, while the sweetening of the dough uses the second larger amount.

I like the trick of starting the yeast right in the mixer bowl – saves another clean-up bowl. But, remember to warm the mixer bowl before you start so that the yeast doesn’t get a cold shock. I warm the bowl by filling it at the sink with straight hot water, and letting it sit for a couple minutes before dumping the hot water and moving ahead to start the yeast. Now don’t use too hot of water to start activation of the yeast- the recipe says warm. Warm water is body temperature- roughly the 90 – 100 degrees (a good use of the thermometer). If you must, it can be made by combining 2 parts ice water with 1 part boiling water. Warm water feels neither warm or cold when you feel it.

Now that the yeast is active, the other ingredients except the flour are mixed in. This is done with the flat, mixing beater on the stand mixer. This is exchanged for the dough hook when the flour is added.
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Getting a good rise on the dough seems to be all about the temperature. I invested in an instant read thermometer that has given me great results. (I once used it to check the oven temperature and discovered the knob that sets the temperature was off by 25 degrees). It is a good tool to have in your kitchen.
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And you need to find that draft-free spot where you can let the dough rise. I found mine in the laundry bay on top of the dryer. And, I have occasionally turned the dryer on for a few minutes to warm the area up. I found that I get a good rise if the temperature around the bowl of dough is in the range of 72 – 78 degrees. I let the towel covering the dough spread out to that any heat is under the towel and pushed toward the bowl, and doesn’t just escape upward.
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The next place I want to suggest how-to-do is in the sentence “Shape each half into a loaf and place in a greased loaf pan”. There are two pieces of experience I can give you here. Second, the loaf pans can be “greased” with the modern no-stick cooking spray; it worked great for me. But first, the shaping of the loafs needs attention. If you just plunk the dough into the loaf pans, it will end up looking like a mountain; that is, the ends will not rise anywhere nearly as much as the center of the loaf. The trick is to roll the dough out into a rectangle that is as wide as the loaf pan is long, and then rolling the dough up into a cylinder that stays as long as the loaf pan. Now place the rolled up cylinder in the loaf pan with the seam down. Voila!

I think the rest of the directions are fairly clear and straight forward. After the dough rises in the loaf pans, slash the tops before putting them in the oven. Remember to use a piece of foil on top of the loaves for the last 15 minutes. And the butter and salt on the tops while they are still warm makes all the difference; you will like the taste.
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Chocolate Filled Bon Bons

This is a easy, simple recipe for cookies that contain a surprise. The center of the cookie is filled with chocolate. And the dough of the cookie is tasty in itself. You can have fun making these cookies with your own ideas of what to put in the center.
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When the recipe came to us, there was only one kind of Candy Kiss – milk chocolate. Now, when I go to the store, I have to make a decision about the kind of Candy Kiss I want to use- original milk chocolate, dark chocolate, almond –center kisses. The list seems endless. I went for the dark chocolate kisses this time.

I have tried other fillings for the Bon Bons, but nothing works as well as the Candy Kisses. One filling I tried was reconstituted dry cherries. I had a partial bag of dry cherries, and thought I would try them. So I soaked then in Kirsh to make them soft again, and then made a recipe of Bon Bons using the soft cherries as the centers. I was disappointed in the outcome; the Bon Bon dough does not cling to the cherries, and so on the first bite, the cherry comes out leaving only the Bon Bon dough for the second bite.

Chocolate Filled Bon Bons

  • 3/4 cup Crisco
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup very finely ground nuts (pecans or almonds)
  • 1/2 bag chocolate kisses (Hershey’s?)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove foil from 1/2 bag of chocolate kisses. Cream together Crisco and both sugars. Add egg, vanilla and extract. Beat well. Add flour, baking powder, salt and nuts.

Form dough into 1″ balls. Press each ball around a chocolate kiss so that the kiss is completely enclosed. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes—do not overbake. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

You may decorate the tops of cooled cookies with frosting and sprinkles. Or, sprinkle tops of uncooked cookies with chocolate shot.

For the ground nuts, I used almonds; that seemed to make more sense to me since the dough also has almond extract.

To measure out an approximate 1 inch ball of dough, I used one of my many scoops. The smallest one that isn’t marked with a size appears to be about 1 inch in diameter. I seem to use it a lot, as for when I make truffles. I attempted to measure it, and it would be size 128 or 1/4th ounce.

After I have a ball of dough for a cookie, I press the center material into the ball, and then slowly stretch and mold the dough around that center. It is easier than what I can make it sound.
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You will notice in the pictures that some of the Bon Bons have a pink star on the top; that was to identify what I had used in the center of the cookie. Pink was for the red cherries.

Rhubarb Pudding

Marlys loved Rhubarb Pudding! This was her go-to recipe as soon as she found rhubarb in the market-place. This simple pudding can be put together in just a couple hours- one for cooking it. And it can be scaled down in size to be half the 9×13 pan that is prescribed; it can be made in a 6×9 inch pan using just 3 cups of rhubarb- about 1 ¼ pounds. Just cut all the other ingredients in half, also.
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The recipe is so easy that I don’t really have any suggestions or hints for making this simple dessert. I made the sample with Splenda.

Rhubarb Pudding

(Aunt Jay, 1980 — Linda N. {Smith} Wing)

  • 6 cups rhubarb (about 2 1/2 lbs.)
  • 1 3/4 cup flour, heaping, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar or Splenda
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Dice finely the rhubarb. Mix with the rhubarb, a heaping 1/4 cup flour and the sugar/Splenda. Put into a 9 x 13 baking pan which has been buttered or sprayed. Mix together and spread evenly on top 1 1/2 cups flour, the butter and the brown sugar. Bake about 1 hour or until top is bubbly.

Here is how fine I diced the rhubarb.
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The final product.
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And it goes well with a little cream.
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