Monday, April 28, 2008

cockeyed cheesecake cupcakes

So what to do with a whole lot of left-over cheesecake. One idea was to put it into the middle of cupcakes. Well this morning Emily wanted to "cook", that being her exact word. So I got her into her chair up by the table and started making cockeyed cake batter. But I didn't want the whole thing, and I wanted interesting flavorings. So here's what we made.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa (I used Hershey's special dark)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 pinch of salt
1 hefty grating of nutmeg

!/3 cup oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 cup cold water
1 tablespoon brandy

left-over cheesecake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Get cupcake papers into the cupcake tin.
I used the regular size pan.
Mix together the dry ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients and stir well.
I used my small scoop and put a scoop into the cupcake paper.
Then I add a small teaspoon dollop of cheese cake to each cup.
And finally I put the same scoops worth right on top of the cheesecake.
Bake for about 15 minutes.

My daughter Corey really like these. I'd give them a C+, but then I still don't like cheesecake.

Banana French Bread

This sounds rather odd, but it actually works. One day I had some overly ripe bananas and on a whim I decided to turn them into French bread. I made the bread as usual, but for part of the liquid I used a mashed banana.

1 pound flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar (optional)

1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm water

1 + cups of warm water
1 mashed banana

In the Kitchenaid mixing bowl combine the first three ingredients.
Stir in the cup of warm water just enough to get it combined and not puddly.
In a small dish combine the next three ingredients and wait until the yeast foams up. After the yeast foams add it and the mashed banana to the flour and go at it.
Put some more warm water into the yeast bowl and be prepared to add water as needed. Mix until you have nice proper bread dough consistency. For the most part the dough should not stick to the bowl. It wants to be nice and squishy, but not sticky. If it's too sticky and just a wee bit of flour until it isn't all stuck to the sides of the bowl.
Turn out onto a floured board and need about ten times.
Put back into the bowl, cover with a moist towel and let rise until double.
When it's double punch down and either let it rise again or form it into two loaves of French bread.
Cover the loaves with the moist towel (not too moist or it will stick to the bread) and let rise until double
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for about 17 minutes. You be the judge.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Cockeyed Cake

This cake has many names, I know of cockeyed cake, wacky cake, and crazy cake. It has no eggs, and I suspect it could have been a depression or war cake.

Any mother who wants to teach her children how to make cake from scratch needs to have this recipe. It is practically impossible to fail. Though once my daughters forgot the vanilla and they felt that that was a failure. This cake batter can be made into just about any type cake, like layered, bundt, or cupcakes. The page in the book that my children used for this recipe looks like a war zone. They must have spilled most of the ingredients on it at one time or another.

2 cups flour (9 ounces)
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/s tsp salt

1/3 cup cooking oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups cold water

Preheat the oven to 350.
Grease and flour what pan you are going to use, or put muffin papers into the cupcake pan.
Combine the dry ingredients in a big bowl.
Add the wet ingredients and stir well, but don't stir to death or the baking soda will be spent.
Bake until the cake springs back to the touch,
This is about 15 minutes for cupcakes, and longer for layers or bundt.

When cooled it can be nice to frost cupcakes.

Vanilla Butter-cream

1 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup soft butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 pinch of cinnamon
enough cream (or milk) to make a good consistency

Put the icing sugar and butter into a bowl and mix with a hand mixer until the sugar looks nice and yellow.
Add the vanilla, cinnamon and about 1 tablespoon of cream for starters.
Whip up very thoroughly, and add more cream a very little at a time to make a good spreading consistency.
You can also add cocoa powder to this icing, just sift it first, as the lumps will not taste good.

Another way to eat this cake that children really like is to make very small cup cakes and serve them with a very big bowl of whipped cream that the children can apply to the cupcakes themselves.

If you make a bundt cake, and we like to make two smaller bundt cakes, you can dust the cake(s) with icing sugar.

Also, this cake can easily be make bigger or smaller because there are no eggs in the recipe, so no math problems.

Shredded Chicken

This is a good way of preparing chicken that can be used in many ways, and is nice to have in the refrigerator.

boneless chicken, I like to use half light meat and half dark meat.
extras as you like, such as onions, peppers, spices

My chicken is generally frozen, so I weight the chicken I'm going to use. Then I set the microwave to defrost, but I only put in about 2/3 the weight, because I don't want to completely defrost the chicken in the microwave. Then I transfer the semi-defrosted chicken to a large enough pot and cover with water and add salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for long enough to finish cooking the chicken, maybe 10-15 minutes. You don't want to cook it to death, but this is not an exact science, or like trying to cook a steak to medium rare.

note: if your chicken is not frozen just skip to the putting it into the pot and cover with water part.

While chicken is cooking you can cook up ingredients you would like to put into the shredded chicken. You don't have to put anything into the shredded chicken if you like. I like to add some fried onions and maybe a hot pepper and garlic, and some spices put into the frying pan just towards the end of cooking to release their flavor.

When chicken is cooked I lift it out with a tong and place on a cutting board. Cut the chicken into hunks and place into a food processor fitted with the plastic blade. Add any thing extra you have chosen and pulse for several seconds. Then open up the porcessor and stir the chicken a bit to get the unshredded hunks towards the center, and pulse for a while longer. Pour out into a bowl and if you have any unshredded bits of chicken, just break them up with your fingers.

You can use this in:
ramen soup
etc, etc ...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Peanut Butter, Lettuce, and Mayonnaise Sandwich

I love this sandwich, but I think I've only met one other person who eats this one.

two pieces of fresh bread
creamy peanut butter
Best Foods mayonnaise
ice berg lettuce pieces

Put mayonnaise on one piece of bread and put the lettuce on top of this slice.
Put peanut butter on the other slice, not too thick.
Put the two pieces of bread together and cut in half.

Corn and Clam Chowder


2 or 3 slices of bacon, diced
1 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
about 1 1/2 pounds of potatoes, peeled if necessary, and diced
1 can creamed corn
2 cans minced clams
milk to fill the cans
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons flour
some cream if you like

In a large pot, like a Dutch oven, fry up the diced bacon in the oil and butter. Add the diced onion and fry until nicely cooked. Add the carrots, which I like to cut into small julienned strips. and cook just a bit. Dice up the potatoes while the carrots are cooking, then add to the pot. Add salt and pepper, add enough water to cover the vegetable, cover, and simmer for about ten minutes. This should be just long enough to cook the potatoes. Add the clams and the corn. Then fill the cans with milk and add the milk. Simmer until a nice gentle foam forms on the top. Mix the flour with about 1/2 cup water until very smooth. Bring up the temperature of the soup a bit and stir in the flour mixture. Keep heating until the soup thickens a bit. Adjust the seasoning to your taste. I like the soup to be a bit peppery, but this is not for everyone. If you like you may add some cream for richness, maybe a half cup. And also, if you like, add some frozen corn, making sure to bring the temperature of the soup up again.

Eggs and Ham Sandwich


hard boiled eggs, peeled and diced using an egg slicer
ham, very finely diced
some red onion, very finely diced
salt and pepper

mayonnaise, thinned with buttermilk to the consistency of cream
mustard of your choice, I like Dijon

To dice up the eggs I place an egg in the egg slicer and slice it. Then, carefully lifting up the egg and opening the slicer, I carefully turn the sliced egg 90 degrees and then reslice the egg. When you've got you eggs diced up add the ham and onions and stir with a fork. Thin the mayonnaise with the buttermilk and then stir in the mustard. Add to the egg mixture and stir up gently. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed.

Ole! - macaroni casserole

I think that I first got this recipe in Peg Bracken's book "The I Hate to Cook Book", which is a classic that I would highly recommend. She actually does give real recipes in this book. She is well known for using canned soup and the like, but how often does one cook all the recipes in a cookbook? And I almost never cook a recipe exactly as it was given, and this one is no exception. In the book she has you make a sort of spaghetti sauce, but I use actual left-over spaghetti sauce, which is of course not like hers. This recipe is about proportions and not about exactness.

left-over spaghetti sauce
frozen corn
cooked macaroni
shredded cheese of your choice.

Preheat the over to 350 degrees.
Heat up the sauce and add the corn so that it mostly thaws.
Shredded the cheese, and cook and drain the macaroni.
Get a casserole dish that looks like it will hold the ingredients you have to put into it.
Now put the ingredients into the dish in the following order:
half the macaroni
half the sauce
half the cheese
the rest of the macaroni
the rest of the sauce
the rest of the cheese.
Put into the oven and bake until it bubbles a bit, maybe 15 minutes.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Poached Egg on Toast with Hot Milk

This is one a my favorite breakfasts. When I was a child I only got this for breakfast when I was sick. Somehow it seems my mother thought a sick child should eat an egg. I remember once, when I was maybe in the first grade I told my mother that I was sick. She said I could stay home, but I would have to eat a fried egg. I went to school. It was winter, and I had to walk about a mile, but nothing was going to get me to eat a fried egg. Maybe that was my mother's way of seeing if we were really sick. But the poached egg was another thing all-together. Later that year, not much later, I got the chicken pox. I stayed home quite a while, and I got poached egg on toast with hot milk. I remember it was still very cold outside when I was finally well enough to go back to school. I had been given a present of a big new box of crayons and I was taking it to school. On the way I went through a woods on a hill and I fell and my crayons went all over the place, but I bet I made sure I found everyone of them before continuing on my way. I loved crayons - I still do.

1 egg
2/3 cup milk
1 buttered piece of toast (I like wheatberry best)
a pinch of salt
a dash of pepper

Put the milk in a small pan and start heating it up.
Make the toast and put it into a soup plate.
When the milk is getting visibly warm add the egg and salt and pepper.

Continue heating and when it gets foamy put a lid on it.
At this point you need to keep a careful watch on the pot, as the milk can boil over at the drop of a hat.
If this should happen, add a bit more milk to replace what is now all over the stove, and a bit more salt and pepper.
When the egg is done to your likeness, turn off the heat, and using a pan cake turner, put the egg on the toast.
Then pour the milk over it and enjoy.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bulochki - Sweet Russian Tea Bun

I learned how to make these bulochkis from some Russian friends in the middle of the night.  It's a long story.  But anyway, they have been a family favorite ever since.  The recipe that follows is my own, as one only can learn so much in the middle of the night.  The recipe came originally from Nadezhda and Larissa Okhotin (mother and her oldest daughter).  

1 batch of sweet dough (or half a batch if you like)
melted butter  (the Okhotins used cooking oil)
cinnamon and sugar mixture (any ratio you like, or just sugar, white or brown, I've even used almond filling)

1/4 cup sugar
1 egg white

After the dough has risen one time, punch it down and let it rest a wee bit.  Actually, if you are going to let this sit out all night to raise you do not need the first rising, just make the dough.  Then divine the dough up into little bits about the size of a large walnut or egg.  Then take each little bit and form it into a nice little round ball.  I do this by taking the lump of dough and pushing it up through my fingers on one hand that are joined to make a circle.  This would be the thumb and pointer finger.  Then as the dough comes up through the finger I close the fingers around the bottom of the dough, making a very tidy little ball.  Place all the balls out all over a board or table and let them rest there for maybe ten minutes while they easy up a bit.  You want the dough to be malleable.  

Then, with the melted butter in one dish and the cinnamon and sugar in another, you start making the bulochkis.  You need two spoons, one in each dish.  I use very little spoons.  Take a ball of dough and flatten it into a circle about 3 to 4 inches in diameter.  We do this with our hands.  The size of the circle is not hugely important.  Then first put a wee bit of butter on the disc, smoothing it around with the back of the spoon. I use very small tea spoons.  Then, using the other spoon, sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on the disc.  Next tightly roll up the disc like a mini cinnamon roll log.  Then, using a pointy sharp knife, cut the roll in half the long way, but not all the way.   Imagine cutting a cigarette in half the long way, but not cutting the filter end.  Then take and lay open the cut part, exposing upwardly the many little layers.  Next - lift up one side and lay it over the other, with the cut sides still facing upward.  then take the piece that is on the underneath and bring it up over the first half, moving in the same direction as the first one was moved, either left to right or right to left.  Continue in this manner until there is no more to overlay.  This is about three of four cross overs in all.  Then pick put the dough and tuck the two ends to the underneath, forming something that resembles a little ball.  If you mangle the bulochki it will still taste good.  I've taught many people to do this and they usual botch their first bulochkis, but when the dough raises you don't know which ones were the botched job.

As each little ball is made put it into a large buttered baking pan.  They should be close but not touching, because they need room to raise.  If you get your pan all filled up before you have finished with all of your bulochkis then get a new pan that you think will fit the remaining buns.  When finished cover and let them rise.  If I am making these late at night for breakfast the next morning then I just leave them out covered with a slightly damp tea towel.  It's cold in our house at night so I've never had a problem.

To bake, heat the oven to about 375 degrees, not hotter as sugar burns.  Bake until done, maybe about 15 to 20 minutes.  I really don't pay attention because you can smell them when they are about done, but when I do I will write in the right time.  And hopefully I will have some pictures to add.

making the icing

Put the egg white and sugar in a small mixing bowl and using an electric hand mixer (if you have one) beat until very fluffy and very white.  This can be done with an egg beater if you really go at it.  Or you can use the small mixing bowl of a stand mixer like the Sunbeam or Hamilton kind.  When all whipped up use a pastry brush to spread the icing all over the bulochkis.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

CORN & AVOCADO MIX with jerk chicken

CORN & AVOCADO MIX with jerk chicken, grilled corn, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, & fresh chunks of avocado tossed with lettuce in a balsamic vinaigrette

Have you ever eaten at a restaurant and had a dish that you thought was fantastic and later you keep thinking about it but you just don't know how to really make it. When we were in New York last fall, staying in Bedford-Stuyvesant, in Brooklyn, our land-lady directed us to a restaurant she referred to as a "soul" restaurant. Now I'm not a big fan of soul food, but it was one of those times when you just simply have to eat and that was the only place around. The name of the restaurant is Brook's Valley Cafe. It wasn't soul food from our way of looking at it, we thought maybe it was Jamaican. Turns out that it's Carribean and Soul food. You can see a utube about it here.

Riley ordered their jerk chicken, and I got the corn and avocado salad with jerk chicken. I thought it was one of the best salads I had ever eaten, and surely it wasn't like anything I'd ever had before. So now I want to either find the recipe or invent it myself. The description I have above is from the wed site of the restaurant. So for starters here is the list of ingredients as if it were a recipe. I will have to develop this further.

Corn & Avocado Jerk Chicken Salad

grilled corn
chunks of avocado
balsamic vinaigrette
jerk chicken

The grilled corn is done by putting an ear of corn onto a barbecue grill. The onions were red onions. I imagine that balsamic vinaigrette is a common recipe. I looked around at recipes for this vinaigrette and this one looked like a likely candidate:

Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
crushed dried red pepper to taste 

1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey 

In a medium bowl or food processor, whisk together balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, honey, garlic, and red pepper. Add olive oil in a thin stream, whisking until emulsified.

Then there is the problem of how to make jerk chicken. I've found out that there are two ways to season the chicken - with a wet rub or a dry rub. I've also found that an authentic jerk rub has allspice as a major seasoning. These rubs are best bought ready made, but they are not too easy to come up with. We did find a lot of them at Whole Foods, and we found a nice dry rub at Penzey's Spice Store. I've purchased the rub, but I've yet to make the jerk chicken.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Banana Tea Cakes

I now have pictures of this cake, and I made a double batch because of how fast the family ate it last time. note: this is still a recipe for two little cakes. 

7 ounces flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
a grating nutmeg
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
little bit of rum and/or whiskey,
at least a tablespoon or two
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt or buttermilk,
or any combination thereof
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used sultanas, currents, and cherries)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and paper two 5 1/5 inch x 2 inch cake pans.
Combine the flour, soda, salt, and nutmeg.
Cream the butter and sugar.
Then mix in the egg, beating very thoroughly.
Mix in the extracts and alcohol.
Mash the bananas in a small bowl and mix into the creamed mixture.
Add the sour cream or yogurt or buttermilk (or any combination there of) to the creamed mixture and stir well.
Mix in the dry ingredients.
Stir in the nuts and dried fruit.
Pour into the pans and bake until done, this was maybe 50 minutes.
Note: If you want to use a single pan use an 8 inch x 2 1/2 inch pan.
Or put the batter into a normal sized bundt pan.
Just cook it until it's done, having a tooth pick come out clean.