Apple Kuchen /kooken/ Bars with Spiced Salted Pecan Caramel
Hello from Georgia! Apple season is winding down, here. I hope you had time to pick the fruit from your trees, before the snowfall. Although, nothing is quite as pretty as an apple with a snow cap, dangling from the branches. I found a new recipe for the harvest: Apple Kuchen. Kuchen is a German word for cake, especially one you serve with coffee. It is a risen confection, so I was confused when I read the recipe, which calls for a short crust, no leavening. Because I like the word, kuchen, I’ll let the mislabeling slide. (I also use the word ‘conserve’ instead of ‘preserve,’ when I cook blackberries; it sounds more interesting.) Working with apples can be labor-intensive, but I think this recipe is worth it. You might consider purchasing an apple corer/peeler/slicer, such as the one Pampered Chef sells. Mine is in storage and, after preparing eight cups of apples, I’m determined to dig it out before making applesauce!
For the Kuchen • 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided • ¼ tsp salt • 11/2 cups cold butter (3 sticks), divided and cut into cubes • 4 – 5 tbsp ice water • 8 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples (about 8 medium apples) • 2 cups sugar, divided • 2 tbsp apple pie spice blend • ½ tsp vanilla extract • juice of one lemon (optional, but I recommend it - for flavor, and you can squeeze the juice over the apples, to keep them from browning while you work) • ½ cup pecans
Preheat oven to 350º 1. Place 2 cups of the flour, and salt in food processor, pulse until blended. (You can also mix the recipe by hand, using table knives to cut-in the butter) 2. Add 2 sticks of butter, pulsing until the butter pieces are the size of peas. While pulsing, add just enough ice water until dough starts to form. Don’t use too much water. 3. Press dough into the bottom of a greased 9”x13” pan (I use the butter wrappers to for this), and bake 20-25 mins., until edges are light brown. 4. Cool on a wire rack. 5. While the crust bakes and cools, prepare the apples. In a large bowl, combine apples, 1 cup sugar, vanilla, lemon juice (if not already on apples), and apple pie spice. Toss to coat the apples. Spoon over crust, using slotted spoon, leaving most of the juice behind. 6. Place remaining flour, butter, and sugar into food processor, pulse until coarse crumbs form, add pecans and pulse until combined. Sprinkle over apples. 7. Bake 60-70 minutes, until golden brown and apples are tender. Cool on wire rack. Prepare caramel while bars are baking or cooling. (continued)
For Spiced Salted Pecan Caramel
• 1/3 cup pecan butter or almond butter. Note: I recommend making pecan butter, if you can not find it in the store. Just toast the pecans, then put them in a blender or food processor and pulse until you have a nice nut butter consistency. • 3 tbsp maple syrup • ½ tsp vanilla extract • A pinch of sea salt • ½ tsp apple pie spice blend
Place pecan butter, maple syrup, vanilla, apple pie spice and salt in a small bowl, and whisk. Add one or two tbsp warm water, as needed, to achieve a caramel-like consistency.
Cut the kuchen into bars and serve with a generous drizzle of pecan caramel.
Prep time: 20 – 30 mins (not including apple prep) Bake time: 1 hour 20 minutes to one hour 35 minutes
Recipe from Olive and Mango, oliveandmango.com
Worcestershire Butter for grilling
Will you be cooking-out, this Independence Day and weekend? If so, you might want to venture beyond the hamburger/hot dog menu and wow your family and friends with a fabulous steak, or tender chicken breast. While you BBQ chicken, leave the skin on, to retain moisture. A citrus marinade or some herb/garlic butter and lemon can be spread under the skin, so the meat is still flavorful after removing the skin. New York Times Cooking recently emailed this splendid Worcestershire Butter recipe to me (and others I’m sure). I’m planning to make the butter and use it for steaks (maybe more affordable cuts than flanks), chicken, and maybe salmon. Using the template below, get creative and make a butter with whatever herbs and seasonings sound good to you!
For the steak: 1 ½ pounds flank steak Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 6 thyme sprigs 3 garlic cloves, finely grated or mashed to a paste 1 jalapeño, minced 2 tablespoons minced chives, plus more for serving 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar or dark brown sugar 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed 3 ripe plum tomatoes Extra-virgin olive oil 3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced Handful of torn fresh basil, plus more for serving
Worcester Butter: ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme 1 tablespoon minced chives 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 1 garlic clove, grated or mashed to a paste Finely grated zest of 1 lemon ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
•Season steak all over with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a bowl or resealable bag, combine thyme, garlic, jalapeño, chives, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and lemon juice. Add meat and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to overnight. •Prepare the Worcestershire butter: In a bowl, mash together the butter, thyme, chives, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper. •Spoon the butter onto a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap, form into a log and wrap well. Chill for at least 2 hours before using. •Light the grill or heat the broiler, arranging the rack about 4 inches from the heat source. Grill tomatoes, or broil them on a rimmed baking pan, turning them, until charred on all sides, about 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board to cool. •Brush off any pieces of marinade clinging to the steak, pat steak dry and coat it lightly with oil. Grill or broil steak until it reaches desired doneness, 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare (125 degrees). •Transfer steak to a cutting board. Slice butter into coins and place them on the steak to melt slightly. Let steak rest for 5 minutes while you prepare the tomatoes. •Roughly chop tomatoes and place in a bowl with scallions, basil, a pinch of salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Toss well, adding more salt or lemon juice, or both, to taste. •Slice the steak thinly, across the grain, and serve with the charred tomato mixture spooned on top. Garnish with more chives and torn basil, if you like.
Written December 26, 2018
Food for thought By Terri McCawley Hill Happy New Year!
If you’re like me, you finally got to leave the kitchen and sit down for a spell after Christmas Day. Before I had fully exhaled, I remembered I need to come up with a portable hors d’oeuvre for a New Year’s Eve party I’m attending. Back to the kitchen! Deciding on a great addition to the party feast can be tricky. Is the dish served warm or cold? Do you have an appropriate serving dish and utensil? You don’t want to create more work for your hostess, so it’s nice to plan ahead. If the dish is served warm, consider using a crock pot. Even if the host has nowhere to plug it in, the crock should keep the food hot enough through dinner, and ask if there will be room for a big vessel. Stoneware, like the line sold by Pampered Chef, stays hot out of the microwave or oven for an extended time. Cold foods are easier to accommodate. If you don’t have a special product for transporting cold food, put it on ice. Place your serving dish into a slightly larger dish, or plastic storage container, with ice on the bottom. Toss a kitchen towel or foil over the top, and you’re ready to go. I recently needed a little something that I could take to party, as I wasn’t expected to bring a major component of the meal. I found this very portable recipe on myrecipes.com. Vanilla Spiced Nuts Ingredients: 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 1 large egg white 1 cup sliced almonds 1 cup pecan halves 1 cup macadamia nuts 1/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon kosher salt 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Method: Preheat oven to 325°. Combine 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and egg white in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until foamy. Stir in nuts. Combine sugar and the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, and sprinkle sugar mixture over nuts, tossing to coat. Place nut mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 325° for 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Turn off oven. Toss nuts, and break large pieces apart. Return pan to oven, and leave pan in oven for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Written November 20, 2018
Hide the Turkey
That’s a theme Pampered Chef consultants use for many of their holiday cooking shows/parties. The idea is to come up with creative, unique, tasty ways to use up all the leftover turkey, and avoid wishing you had bought the 14-pound hen instead of the 20-pound tom. Leftovers at Thanksgiving can be a blessing or a curse; it’s a matter of perspective and creativity. Turkey sandwiches can become boring, so add cranberry sauce (also leftover) and Swiss cheese, and then throw it on the griddle for a grilled delight. Sourdough bread is great for this. This is a recipe for Skillet Turkey Pot Pie, from Good Housekeeping. It’s a quick, tasty winter delight!
Ingredients: 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed 1 large egg, lightly beaten 4 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature 1 lemon 3/4 c. low-fat sour cream 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves Kosher salt and pepper 2 1/2 c. shredded leftover turkey or rotisserie chicken 3 oz. Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated 3 oz. leftover sliced ham or thick sliced deli ham, torn into ½- inch pieces (about ½ cup) 2 scallions, finely chopped 1/2 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Method: Heat oven to 425°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment. Unfold the pastry and cut into a 9 to 10-inch round. (Reserve pastry trimmings for another use.) Transfer to the prepared pan. Brush with the egg and bake until puffed and golden, 18 to 22 minutes. Meanwhile, squeeze 2 tablespoon juice and grate 2 teaspoon zest from the lemon. In a 9- to 10-inch skillet, heat the cream cheese, lemon juice and 2 tablespoon water over low heat until melted and smooth. Stir in the sour cream, mustard, thyme, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Fold in the turkey, gruyere, ham, scallions and parsley and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Top with puff pastry.
Of course, you can always freeze some of the leftovers, for ready-cooked ingredients for casseroles, tacos, stew, or chili in January and February. Here are guidelines for freezing:
“hip Pressure Cooking”
As a food columnist I sometimes have the opportunity to review new cookbooks. I have so many books and recipes that haven’t begun to dig into, that usually decline. But, this book intrigued me. “hip Pressure Cooking,” by Laura D.A. Pazzaglia takes pressure cooking for a new spin, with “Fast, Fresh, and Flavorful” recipes. Pressure cookers have come a long way since their humble beginnings, Invented by Denis Papin in 1689 and introduced to kitchens in the early 20th Century. As Pazzaglia points out, “The basic working principle of the pressure cooker remains unchanged…” Trapped steam increases in volume and the pressure raises the boiling point of the food, which then cooks hotter and therefore faster.
New machines, like the Instant Pot, have increased interest and popularity of pressure cooking again. Pazzaglia offers tips and skills for pressure cooking, and begins her book with an uber how-to, for those of us unlearned in the art. From asparagus and quinoa to Bitter Chocolate Pork Ribs and Black Beans, there is something for everyone in the “hip Pressure Cooking” treasure trove.
I actually had to borrow a friend’s Instant Pot, in order to try out a recipe from the book. There is a learning curve, but between my new hip cookbook and the easy settings on the pot, it was a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon. And, I invited my friends, the ones who loaned me their Instant Pot, to sample the new recipe. It was a hit!
Hot and Sour Cabbage, Beijing Style
1 Tbs vegetable oil
5 garlic cloves, halved
One ¼ inch slice ginger, peeled and chopped
(or, 1 tsp ground ginger)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 small head of cabbage (about 1 lb), cut into 4 wedges
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
½ cup water
¼ tsp cornstarch
1 tsp sugar
Heat the pressure cooker base on medium, add the oil, and heat briefly. Stir in garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Position the cabbage wedges in the pressure cooker with the thicker, root end down and the tips pointing up. Pour in the vinegar, soy sauce and water.
Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes. When the time is up, open the cooker using the Normal Release method.*
Using tongs or two spoons, gently transfer the cabbage wedges to a serving platter; cut each in half crosswise. Return the uncovered cooker base to medium heat and sprinkle the cornstarch and sugar into the cooking liquid. Bring the contents to a boil, stirring often, until thickened. Pour the thickened cooking liquid over the cabbage wedges and serve.
*Sometimes called “Manual,” and confusingly “Automatic.” Normal Release is done by pushing a button, twisting a lever, or turning the valve to immediately release the pressure and expel the steam until the pressure signal indicates there is no more pressure (check your manual to see exactly how to do this for your pressure cooker). The pressure cooker may “sigh’ and the top will drop down slightly when all of the pressure is released (this takes about two minutes).
When I was young, my mom always made (sewed) the costumes for my siblings and me. I’m second to youngest, so I enjoyed the privilege of wearing my sisters’ and brother’s witch outfits, after they’d outgrown them. The other traditional October 31st event was hosting trick-or-treaters in our home. Mom made doughnuts, warmed cider, and invited children and parents to come in and visit. You could do that, back then. Preferring not to deep fry, I looked for a doughnut recipe to bake. This one is yummy! Make them for the kids’ class, or for your grandchildren.
Apple Cider Doughnuts Ingredients FOR THE DONUTS: 1 cup apple cider 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil 1 cup applesauce 1 cup sugar 2 large eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups all-purpose flour 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder 1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt FOR THE GLAZE: 2 cups powdered sugar 2 teaspoons apple cider (I believe this should be 2 tablespoons) (I added cinnamon, as this is deathly sweet icing!) Electric green gel paste food coloring, for tinting Assorted sprinkles and disco dust for decorating doughnut Chocolate licorice, to make stems Sour apple fruit strips to make leaves Method Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease two 6-count donut pans and set aside. (I tried DIY donut pans, with foil tubes in a muffin tin. It failed.) In a small saucepan over high heat, bring cider to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 15 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, applesauce, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add the reduced cider and stir to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until just incorporated. Transfer batter to a disposable piping bag. Pipe batter into donut pans, filling each well nearly to the rim. Bake until a toothpick inserted into a donut comes out clean, 12-14 minutes. Allow doughnuts to cool in pans for 10 minutes, remove to a wire cooling rack and allow them to cool completely. Meanwhile, whisk together powdered sugar and apple cider. Tint to desired shade of green using gel paste food coloring (glaze should be the consistency of glue. Carefully dip the top of each doughnut into the glaze and decorate as desired with sprinkles, disco dust, a candy stem and candy leaves.
Super Bowl winners
With Super Bowl Sunday this weekend, I though I would simply share some favorite snack recipes from Taste of Home, savory and sweet. Enjoy the game, commercials, food and drink, and company of family and friends!
Veggie Cheese Spread Ingredients • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened • 1/2 cup sour cream • 1/4 cup mayonnaise • 1 cup seafood cocktail sauce • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese • 1 medium green pepper, chopped • 3 green onions, chopped • 1 medium tomato, chopped • Assorted crackers or tortilla chips Directions 1. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise until smooth. Spread onto a serving plate; top with seafood sauce. Sprinkle with half of the cheese and vegetables; repeat layers. 2. Cover and chill until serving. Serve with crackers or tortilla chips.Yield: 6-1/4 cups.
Yogurt and Honey Fruit Cups Ingredients • 4-1/2 cups cut-up fresh fruit (pears, apples, bananas, grapes, etc.) • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) mandarin orange, vanilla or lemon yogurt • 1 tablespoon honey • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract Directions 1. Divide fruit among six individual serving bowls. Combine the yogurt, honey, orange peel and extract; spoon over the fruit. Yield: 6 servings. This one is easily doubled for a larger crowd!
Warm Bacon Cheese Spread Ingredients • 1 round loaf (1 pound) sourdough bread • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened • 1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) sour cream • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese • 1-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce • 3/4 pound sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled • 1/2 cup chopped green onions • Assorted crackers Directions 1. Cut the top fourth off the loaf of bread; carefully hollow out the bottom, leaving a 1-in. shell. Cut the removed bread and top of loaf into cubes; set aside. 2. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add the sour cream, cheddar cheese and Worcestershire sauce until blended; stir in bacon and onions. 3. Spoon into bread shell. Wrap in a piece of heavy-duty foil (about 24x17 in.). Bake at 325° for 1 hour or until heated through. Serve with crackers and reserved bread cubes. Yield: 4 cups.
Sugar-free Spiced Pecans Ingredients • 1 egg white • 1 pound pecan halves • Sugar substitute equivalent to 1/2 cup sugar • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon • 1/2 teaspoon salt Directions 1. In a large bowl, beat egg white until frothy. Add pecans; stir gently to coat. Combine the sugar substitute, cinnamon and salt; add to nut mixture and stir gently to coat. 2. Spread into a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring once. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Yield: 5 cups
March 10, 2016
Bacon or corned beef?
St. Patrick’s Day is next week and, wanting to share a traditional Irish recipe, I went to foodireland.com for a search. I found a recipe for “Good Auld Bacon and Cabbage, and some surprising information (to me) about St. Paddy’s Day and corned beef.
Years ago in Ireland, beef was eaten mainly by the wealthy. If the ordinary Irish people had access to meat, they would have eaten pork. Pigs could be kept more cheaply, than cattle. Because there was no way of storing fresh meat, they made the pork into bacon by preserving it with salt. The corned beef confusion began after the mass emigration during and following the last famine in Ireland in the mid 19th century. Emigrants landed in America and found that beef was cheaper and more readily available than it had been in the Ireland they left behind. However, sparing as they had to be, the Irish would “cure” any cuts of beef they got in the same way they had preserved their pork back home, resulting in corned beef, the ‘corned’ referring to the corns shaped kernels of salt used. Thus corned beef became popular, even traditional, among Irish American families. Although corned beef is widely available in Ireland, bacon and cabbage is far more popular.
What is in Ireland referred to as “bacon,” looks like what we call a ham steak. Use a thick cut and boil it, if you wish to be traditional.
2lb Boiling Bacon 1 Medium sized cabbage – Savoy if possible, 50g (2oz) butter freshly ground pepper, Parsley Sauce
Cover the bacon in cold water in a large pot and bring slowly to the boil. Discard frothy water if necessary and start again. Finally, cover with hot water and lid of and simmer until almost cooked, allowing 20 minutes for every 2.2kg (1lb).
Meanwhile, cut the cabbage into quarters, removing the core. Discard the core and outer leaves. Shred the cabbage. About 20 minutes before the end of cooking the bacon, add the shredded cabbage to the water in which the bacon is boiling. Stir, cover and continue to boil gently until both the cabbage and bacon are cooked.
Take the bacon out and strain the cabbage and discard the water (or, if it’s not too salty, save it for soup). Add a lump of butter to the cabbage. Season with lots of ground pepper, it’s unlikely to need more salt, but add some if necessary. Serve the bacon with the cabbage, parsley sauce and floury (Russet) potatoes.
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup plain flour
1 1/4 cups milk
1 pinch salt
1 pinch white pepper
2 ounces parsley, chopped finely
1.Gently melt the butter in a saucepan (non-stick is easier). Don’t sizzle!
2.Add the flour, salt, and white pepper (black pepper at a push, but you’ll be able to see black specks in the sauce).
3.Whisk, over gentle heat for a few minutes to let the flour cook and sauce to thicken. Allow the flour to take on the cooked butter flavor.
4.Add a little milk to the flour and butter mix (you have now made a roux) and stir again. When it is amalgamated, add a little more milk and mix again. Add more milk, little by little, until you have a thick-ish creamy sauce. Cook the sauce for 5 minutes over gentle heat, stirring to stop it sticking. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
Add the parsley, stir and serve immediately.
January 21, 2016
Let them eat (scratch) cake
Well it’s January, and now that we’ve mastered writing “2016” on our checks we can concentrate on more exciting things, like cake.
My brother’s birthday is this month and from the time he was very small, he always asked for German Chocolate cake. The last time I baked one for him, I took a chance on a scratch recipe and was thrilled with the results.
While most boxed cake mixes are perfectly tasty and moist, and they are generally foolproof, a cake from scratch is truly worth the effort. The first trick is to relax. Even if your cake is lopsided, which mine generally are, your family and friends will be impressed with your homemade creation and the flavor will make them forget any visual imperfections.
Secondly, relax. There are two simple ways to make sure your cake doesn’t fall. One is to gently fold the egg whites (when called for) into the batter, never beat or stir vigorously. The other is to tread lightly in the kitchen while your cake is in the oven and while it cools. Flours and leavening agents are quite stable and unlike an episode of I Love Lucy, it’s unlikely that the top of your masterpiece will cave in.
Don’t skimp on the frosting. You’ve gone to the trouble of stiffening and folding egg whites, why insult your cake with frosting from a can? A tip from my Mom: Put a dollop of frosting in the middle of your cake and spread out toward the edges, never lifting your spreader. This, and wetting the spreader often, will keep you from lifting cake crumbs off and having them mix into the frosting.
Here is a scratch Devil’s Food cake recipe and one for Chocolate Fudge frosting from Taste of Home.
1/2 cup butter, softened
2-1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
2-1/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1 cup water
Preheat oven to 350°.
Line bottoms of two greased 9-in. round baking pans with parchment paper; grease paper. (Note from Terri: Wax paper works fine too)
In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and cooled chocolate. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream and water, beating well after each addition.
Transfer batter to prepared pans. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks; remove paper. Cool completely.
1/2 cup butter, cubed
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3-3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a small heavy saucepan, melt butter and chocolate over low heat. Remove from heat; cool 5 minutes. In a large bowl, beat confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add chocolate mixture, beating until light and fluffy. Spread between layers and over top and sides of cake.
December 10, 2015: Six degrees
It’s been said that we each know everyone in the world, by six degrees of separation.
We each have found that we have a connection to the horrific attack on Inland Regional Center, and wish we didn’t. I grew up in Redlands, one sister lives just three blocks from the terrorists’ house, and my other sister works at IRC. Thankfully, she hadn’t gone into the office that day. Through texts from terrified coworkers, and TV coverage, she followed the frightening and unbelievable news.
From the waves of hurt and loss of friends, family, and confidence, the ripples reach far and wide. As I peruse the newspapers, internet, and social media, it is apparent that we indeed are connected by only six degrees. A gentleman in Paris told me, through a mutual friend on facebook, that he and the rest of France are praying for San Bernardino and America, just as we supported Parisians after the attacks in mid-November. Daniel Kaufman, the gentleman who ran the coffee shop at IRC, had touched many people with his kindness, including me, business owners recognized inspectors for the county, and the hundreds of other employees for the county and at IRC work for and help so many families. From loss of life, to grave injury, to emotional trauma, their lives and the lives they have touched are forever altered. While no one can truly understand how the people who were there that day feel, whether directly or indirectly, the world empathizes and feels the losses personally, and deeply.
There have been multi-faith memorials and community vigils that bring strangers together, strangers with a common need to reach out and share the grief, and even the confusion. Flags have been lowered to half-staff, moments of silence have been observed at gatherings for sporting events, clubs, concerts, and classes. When a tragedy of this magnitude occurs here or abroad, the world feels a little smaller, and six degrees isn’t much of a separation.
Food for Thought
By Terri Hill
Turkey, Dogs, and Pie
With the holiday season upon us, I thought it wise to revisit the importance of safe food handling to prevent foodborne illness.
Simple safety steps in the kitchen can prevent foodborne diseases. Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after food preparation, and especially after handling raw foods. Clean all work surfaces, utensils and dishes with hot soapy water and rinse with hot water after each use. Be sure to cook foods thoroughly and to refrigerate adequately between meals. Consumers can find more information about “Food Safety Tips for Holiday Feasts” on the CDPH website. Also, never give your dog turkey skin, turkey or poultry bones, onions, grapes, raisins, fatty foods, or other holiday items that are harmful or toxic to dogs.
Whether you prefer a traditional roasted bird, or the deep-fry method, cooking a turkey requires some special handling. Thawing the turkey is tricky; you have to avoid the “Danger Zone” temperature, between 40 and 140 degrees, at which foodborne bacteria thrive.
For thawing and cooking times for turkey, http://www.cdc.gov/features/turkeytime/ has all the facts and instructions. The Butterball Hotline is another great option for answers to safe turkey-handling practices.
Are you entertaining a large crowd? Feeling overwhelmed? This recipe, and the mere thought of the grocery bill, may have you Giving Thanks that you are cooking for just 20!
Pumpkin Pie for 1,000 People
120 9-inch pie shells
62 cups granulated sugar
62 cups packed brown sugar
2 ½ cups + 1 Tbl salt
1 ¼ cups + 1 Tbl nutmeg
1 ¼ cups + 1 Tbl ginger
½ cup + 2 Tbl + 1 tsp cloves
185 cups milk
62 cups heavy whipping cream
250 cups pumpkin puree
Preheat oven to 425° Mix eggs and sugars, add salt and spices. Gradually stir in milk and cream. Stir in pumpkin puree. Pour filling into pie shells and bake 10 minutes in preheated oven. Reduce oven temp to 350° and bake 40-45 minutes until filling is set.
Food for Thought
Apple of My Eye
I miss having apple trees in my yard. Of my 23 years in Wrightwood, only two were spent in in a home with apple trees outside, available for my purposes, and those of friends. With autumn comes the desire to pluck the fine green fruit from its branch, wipe the dust off on my shirt, and bite into the crisp tart apple. It doesn’t get more organic than that!
Years ago, when my boys were young, my mom and I made a lovely raw applesauce, it was a simple recipe that included celery. I think it was an Oster® food processor recipe but I’ve been unable to retrieve it from either Mom’s recipe box or the Internet. I promise to publish it, if it reveals itself to me in the future.
Meanwhile, here’s a fabulous cookie recipe that I found while searching new ideas for apples. Oats, peanut butter, and apples made this a new favorite in my home; hopefully, you’ll be able to say the same!
Apple Oat Cookies
*Slight variations on a post in COOKIES, Maria’s Favorites
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup creamy peanut butter
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup diced peeled apple
Preheat oven to 350° and line cookie sheet with parchment or Silpat (or lightly grease).
Mix dry ingredients in medium bowl. Beat butter and sugars, add peanut butter, mix until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Slowly add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in oats and apples.
Roll dough into tablespoon size balls. I recommend this as opposed to a cookie scoop; while I generally prefer the scoop, these soft cookies come out too crumbly if the dough isn’t packed well. Bake 11-12 minutes until edges are brown. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet then let them cool completely on racks. Do not refrigerate dough! The apples will weep and make the dough wet, and sad.
The thought of microwaving chicken probably strikes fear in the heart of most cooks. I know the image it used to conjure for me was of greyish dry meat, with little flavor.
Actually, I have discovered over the years that with the right ingredients and cookware, you can cook tasty moist foods, and save time, using your microwave. Tupperware makes a cool stackable cooker for the microwave. It comes with dozens of recipe combinations for cooking meat, vegetables, and a side dish, all at the same time. A recipe for mini meat loaves is quite good, and the leftovers make a great barbequed sandwich for another meal. If you read my column regularly, you know how much I like foods that lend themselves to creative leftover re-dos.
Pampered Chef (full disclosure, I’m a consultant) sells a stoneware Deep Covered Baker that works wonders with chicken or beef in the microwave. Using a spice rub for color and flavor, I cook a whole chicken in 30 minutes, and throw in the veggies for the last ten. The result is a moist tasty dinner.
But it was in the late 1980s that my Mom found the first recipe for microwaved chicken that convinced me it could be edible, and even yummy. The ingredients will seem odd but, trust me this makes a sweet and sour type chicken dish that goes great on white rice. I like to serve it with steamed fresh green beans and almond slivers.
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
½ bottle Russian dressing
1 cup apricot-pineapple preserves
4-6 chicken half-breasts, skinned and boned
Place chicken in appropriately sized glass dish. I use a deep stoneware dish, but an 8x8 square dish works well too.
Mix all wet ingredients and pour over chicken. Cover with wax paper and microwave on high for 18-20 minutes. Let stand 5-10 minutes. Serve chicken and sauce over rice.
Written June 30, 2015
Corn on the cob controversy
By Terri Hill
I didn’t know there was a controversy until I arranged and sold fresh flower bouquets at a farmers’ market in Oregon in the late 1980s. It was there that the local growers of corn and other veggies would have heated discussions about the proper way to cook corn on the cob. As we are closing in on the Fourth of July weekend, I thought it prudent to give readers a chance to weigh their own methods against those of the farmers’ and other experts.
A generally accepted rule for cooking vegetables in water is; root vegetables (grown beneath the ground) are to be placed in the pan of water, brought to a boil, and cooked to desired tenderness. This would include potatoes, beets, carrots, etc. Veggies that grow above ground, like corn, peas, and green beans should be placed water that is already boiling. The Farmer’s Almanac agrees.
One corn farmer at the market argued that the proper way to cook the cob is to drop it into the boiling water and cook for no longer than three minutes. I personally have found this to be the best method for crisp kernels that pop when you bite into them. Other farmers insisted that you should drop the cobs into the water first, and pull them out as soon as the water reaches a full boil. I think the corn is mushy when cooked this way.
That said, I believe the best way to cook corn on the cob is to throw it onto the grill. Pull the husks back, remove the silk, then close the husks again and put them right on the barbeque. Charcoal makes them taste the best, but a gas grill works too. Use a seasoning rub or lemon and garlic pepper on the corn, after removing the silk, for a savory touch.
I recently saw a demonstration for pulling silk from the corn. The cook cut the bottom end off the cobs, microwaved the corn for four minutes, then grasped the husks and silks at the top and shook and squeezed them until the cobs slipped out clean. It made the job easy, but I don’t recommend microwaving corn on the cob. An exception would be microwaving popcorn on the cob, that’s really neat!
This month’s discussion of food and recipes was my Dad’s idea. When he was growing up in Kentucky his Mom, and the other church ladies, commonly made Chess Pie. Dad remembers it as a simple dessert of butter, eggs, sugar, and few other ingredients. I found many versions of the recipe, all with the same basic idea and a tweak or two to the details. I’ll elaborate on that in a moment.
First though, why “Chess” pie? There are many suppositions as to the origin of the name. I am told that southern gentlemen were served this dessert as they retreated, after dinner, to play chess. The pie keeps well in a pie chest, due to its high sugar content, and may have lost the ‘t’ in ‘chest’ to a southern drawl. My favorite of the explanations is that, when asked about the sweet confection, a southern cook would have said, “It’s jes (just) pie.” My family has acquired quite the drawl when referencing my newly discovered dessert treat!
Most recipes include cornmeal and vinegar while some ask for buttermilk. Variations include lemon, orange, nuts, and cocoa. I tried the simplest version first, and it was nothing short of sensational and gooey-sweet. Next time I think I’ll throw in some cocoa powder or toasted coconut flakes.
1 refrigerated piecrust (or use the Crisco shortening recipe for crust)
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 425º
Fit piecrust into a 9-inch pie plate according to package directions; fold edges under, and crimp.
Line pastry with aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
Bake for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove weights and foil; bake 2 more minutes or until golden. Cool. Reduce oven temp to 350º.
Stir together sugar and next 7 ingredients until blended. Add eggs, stirring well. Pour into piecrust.
Bake at 350° for 50 to 55 minutes, shielding edges with aluminum foil after 10 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Serving Wrightwood, Phelan, Pinon HIlls and West Cajon Valley Since 1961