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