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Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

I’m looking for a good German plum cake recipe. There are (of course) many versions available online, but the problem with that is you never quite know what you’re getting, and I only have the one batch of plums.

There’s also an added complication. I am looking for a plum cake recipe because I made one as a teenager, and it was astoundingly good. Flavorful pastry base, creamy plum filling, and delightful streusel crumble on top. Now, that remembered experience is the standard to which I hold all future plum cakes. 

Was it actually as good as it is in my mind? Maybe not, but I think so:) My mother also remembers the cake. It was her favorite type of German dessert, from when she lived in that country once upon a time. She brought home a classic German cookbook, source of the original plum cake recipe. 

I hold out hope that she still has the cookbook, and can find that recipe, but until then, I am on the hunt for the kuchen of my dreams.

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Photo by Alexandra Kikot on Unsplash

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I thought today might be a workshop or writing day, but instead it turned into a computing and sewing day. That’s fine, I’m happy I made progress with what I had.

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On that same note, last night’s dinner was a medley of things we had in the fridge. They are also the sorts of flavors I associate with summer: fresh herbs, tomatoes from the garden, and sweet corn. 

I was reminded of a dish I had in Boston years ago, a delicate, almost ethereal ravioli stuffed with shrimp and corn in cream sauce. The corn’s sweetness is complex enough not to seem one-note, and elevates the flavor of the shrimp. It’s a good memory, and while I don’t remember the year or the restaurant or the other eleven items on the tasting menu, that dish made a lasting impression.

* * *

We also decided to try our hand at homemade pasta. The same friends who lent us the KitchenAid ice cream attachment also lent us their pasta rollers. Taste and texture were good, and the process was fairly straightforward, considering I’ve made pasta only once? before. 

I used this dough recipe: Fresh Pasta Recipe

Notes to Future Me: use the eggs we get from our local source, the ones from Costco were a little too small and threw off the ratio; knead more enthusiastically; and use more flour than you think you should for dusting the sheets before rolling and cutting.

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My father asked how I made the sauce. I have a fairly casual relationship with most recipes, but here it is, more or less. If you don’t have all of the ingredients, substitute red peppers for tomatoes, dried basil for fresh, or whatever’s in the pantry. That’s what I did:)

* * *

Creamy Summer Shrimp Fettuccini

Ingredients

  • 2 slices bacon, chopped into bits
  • 1 shallot, sliced fine-ish
  • 1/2 C. corn kernels, cut from cooked cob, frozen, or canned
  • 1 C. cream
  • 1 T. lemon juice, or to taste
  • white wine, whatever you’re drinking, a splash or three
  • shrimp, big handful
  • cherry tomatoes, handful, halved
  • basil, six giant leaves from the garden, sliced 
  • reserved pasta water to taste, plus backup cornstarch if you add too much
  • salt, pepper, Parmesan
  • fettuccini

Instructions

  1. While the pasta water heats, sauté the bacon and shallots until translucent.
  2. Add corn, cream, lemon juice, white wine and cook down for a couple of minutes, until slightly thickened. 
  3. Add shrimp, cook until opaque.
  4. Add the tomatoes and basil and heat through.
  5. Adjust the sauce for flavor and thickness with salt, pepper, more wine, cream and/or and pasta water. If it’s too thin, mix up a slurry of 1 T. cornstarch and a cup of cold water, add until you have enough liquid and cook until thickened.
  6. Serve over pasta, topped with grated Parmesan.

* Note: I would say that have moderately-sized hands. 

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Photo by Tim Cooper on Unsplash

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Mr Man requested lemon meringue pie the other day. Do I have a recipe for it? I do, that’s not the problem. The problem is that I have too many recipes, taking many paths to the same destination.

And so I set out to make the pie, but also to reduce the stack of notes, hand-written adaptations, and other modifications into the One.

Here’s a snapshot of just some of the recipe pile:*

Does not include all of the many, many online references I used to triangulate the final recipe, but you get the idea.

* * *

So here we have it, the One Pie To Rule Them All (if you lIke lemon, that is).

The recipe looks a bit complicated but it’s really just a quick crumb crust, a batch of lemon curd, and whipped egg whites.

This works for me, and uses ingredients I can easily access. (I also do things like ignore milliliters and weigh everything in grams.) If you aren’t as into tangy citrus or can’t find Biscoff, modify at will!

The One.

* * *

Lemon Meringue Pie

Ingredients


Crust

  • 250g Biscoff or graham cracker crumbs 
  • 57g butter, melted

* If using graham crackers, you can boost the flavor by adding a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and a pinch of salt.

Filling

  • zest of one lemon, chopped v. fine (optional)
  • juice of ~6 lemons, 200g
  • 50g water
  • 25g cornstarch
  • 175g superfine or caster sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 25g butter

Meringue

  • 4 egg whites
  • 112g superfine or caster sugar
  • 1/4 t. cream of tartar

Directions


Crust

  1. preheat oven to 350F
  2. crush Biscoff into fine crumbs with food processor or rolling pin
  3. mix in melted butter
  4. press into 9” pie plate (the bottom of a cup measure works well)
  5. bake for ~18 minutes, remove and lower oven to 325F

Filling

  1. mix lemon zest, juice, water and cornstarch until smooth
  2. stir sugar and egg yolks together in a non-reactive pan, place over medium-low heat and add cornstarch mixture and butter
  3. stir frequently until it just simmers and thickens like custard, about 5 minutes for me (taste and add another teaspoon+ of sugar if you fear the tang)
  4. pour into crust and top with meringue

Meringue

  1. combine sugar and cream of tartar in a small bowl
  2. in a larger bowl, whip egg whites to soft peaks
  3. add sugar mixture one tablespoon or so at a time, whipping between, until stiff and shiny
  4. spoon or pipe over filling, touching meringue to crust edges to prevent shrinkage
  5. bake 15 minutes until golden

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Bonus: Lemon Syrup

Because I had organic lemons, I was also able to use the peels for this lemon syrup:

Stop Throwing Lemon Rinds Away! Make This No-Cook Syrup Instead

“True” lemon syrup, to distinguish it from the bottle of spiced white wine and lemon syrup I also have in the fridge right now.

I let it steep for about four hours. I don’t have a great citrus press so I strained the peels, then put them in a plastic bag and used a rolling pin to extract the rest of the juice. The result is sweet with a touch of bitterness to ground the flavor, and perfect with seltzer and fresh mint on a hot afternoon.

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* * *

* I have attributions for some of these recipes but not all. That can happen when I’m away from home and trying to put together a recipe for the in-laws on the fly, with a kitchen and equipment not my own. Thanks for ideas for what to do (and not do) go out to Stella Parks, Mark Bittman, Alton Brown, and many bakers and commenters online.

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I’ve loved coffee ice cream since before I drank coffee, but it’s one of those flavors that doesn’t appeal to everyone. We don’t buy a lot of ice cream and when we do, something like vanilla is more flexible.*

I’m still experimenting with our borrowed Kitchenaid ice cream maker and coffee sounded good. I modified Mark Bittman’s egg-free recipe again, and it worked for me. Perfect for a hot and sticky summer day!

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Coffee Ice Cream
Makes ~1 quart

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 C. milk (2% worked)
  • 1 C. heavy cream (35%)
  • 1/2 C. coffee
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 2 T. cornstarch 
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract

Instructions

1. Stir the cornstarch with 2 T. of the milk make a smooth slurry.

2. Put the remaining milk, cream, coffee, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and whisk to combine. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture nearly comes to a simmer. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry and vanilla and continue to stir until the mixture thickens a bit, 2 or 3 minutes.

3. Strain the mixture into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until completely cool, at least 2 hours and preferably overnight. Transfer to an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions.

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* Alone, with pie, with grape juice, with orange concentrate and chocolate shavings, with caramel, with peanut butter and chocolate, with bananas and pecans, with pomegranate seeds, with lemon curd, with… you get the idea.

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Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

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Today is sourdough Friday, tonight is pizza night, and at some point this weekend I’ll make and freeze chocolate chip cookie dough.

I’m also prepping lemon cinnamon cardamom ice cream. I wanted to try a custard-free version, so yesterday I started with this Bittman recipe:

Homemade Ice Cream, Many Ways

Notes:

— I had a little over a cup of cream so the rest was milk. 

— For flavor, I used a touch of vanilla, about a dozen green cardamom pods, with a stick of cinnamon and some ground when the stick wasn’t steeping fast enough.

— I started with a handful of the most beautiful lemon balm from the garden, but the flavor wasn’t strong enough for this so I strained it out and opted for lemon curd, which I’ll add to the base mix as it whips and freezes.

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Today is lemon curd day. 

Here’s my recipe. I don’t remember where I found it, but it’s been very reliable for me, plus no tedious double-boiler. And the pre-mixing means that I’ve never had to strain it to remove clumps. 

Lemon Curd

— makes ~500g / 2C

Ingredients:

  • 85g / 6T butter, softened
  • 200g / 1C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 163g / 2/3C lemon juice
  • 1t. lemon zest (optional, I find it’s too chewy/waxy and skip it)

Instructions:

  • beat the butter and sugar together
  • add eggs and yolks, mix
  • add juice, mix
  • cook over low to medium heat, stirring frequently until smooth and thick, coating the back of a spoon without dripping (~10-15 minutes or 170*F). Do not boil.

Notes: I toasted the sugar briefly in the pan and then accidentally melted the butter, but it worked out fine. I also ran out of regular lemon juice and had to use Meyer lemons, but adding a little citric acid boosted the flavor to “Tang Factor: Ideal.” Which is not a thing. But should be.

* * *

Tomorrow, we’re testing out a borrowed KitchenAid ice cream attachment. The owners of said attachment made some delicious vanilla ice cream with it, so any failures will be on us. 

I’m ok with that.

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More history, today. And photography. This is my grandmother on the Swedish-ish side. She was ten or twelve* at the time, and much more agile than when I knew her.

This is also me experimenting with photo restoration techniques.

My Twelve-Year Old Grandma

Grandma Dorothea was sweet, literally and figuratively. She did many things well (gardening, bridge, surviving the Great Depression with her sense of humor intact, making grandchildren happy), but above all, she baked. I can still recall the flash of joy on seeing pound cake in her kitchen. Her chocolate mint squares are decadent, melt-in-your-mouth bites of chocolate cake, creamy mint, and dark chocolate glaze.

She wasn’t much of a cook, but (despite the very cryptic notes left on her 3″x5″ recipe cards) she was one hell of a baker.

* * *

Grandma’s Chocolate Mint Squares

Cake Layer

  • 1 cup sugar                  
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 can chocolate syrup (16 oz)
  • 4 eggs beaten              
  • 1 cup flour                  
  • ½ tsp. salt

1.     Mix and bake in 9”x13” greased and floured pan for 30-35 minutes at 350°F.

Mint Layer

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbs. Crème de Menthe
  • ½ cup melted butter

2.     Mix and spread on the cool cake. Chill briefly to set.

Glaze

  • 6 oz. chocolate chips
  • 6 Tbs. butter

3.     Melt over low heat. Cool a bit and spread over mint layer.

4.     Chill until chocolate sets and cut into small(ish) squares.

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* Inquiring minds want to know: at what age does one stop being a whippersnapper?

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My nephew graduates from high school today! Sure, I’ll be celebrating via Zoom, but whatever. This calls for a party, and a party calls for pizza. 

My version is adapted from this award-winning King Arthur recipe:

Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza | King Arthur Baking

The original recipe is very good, but we wanted something a little more traditional. I kept the dough method but modified the rest. I use a standard pizza pan (works very well), stretch the dough out to ~14” and increase the toppings by a factor of roughly two. This way isn’t as fluffy as the original recipe, but there’s more pizza:)

See the original recipe for instructions and helpful pictures. It’s easy but the crust takes a little upfront fiddly time, so I make four times the amount, split the dough after the initial rise, and freeze the extras.

This is our usual, Butter Chicken Pizza. As always, topping ingredients and amounts are flexible.

* * *

Ingredients

Quadruple Batch of Crust

  • 960g All-Purpose Flour, King Arthur if you can get it
  • 17g salt
  • 6.28g instant yeast or active dry yeast
  • 680g lukewarm water
  • 52g olive oil

Toppings for One Pizza

  • 300g mozzarella, grated (about 1 1/4 cups, loosely packed)
  • 200g Butter Chicken or other sauce, tweaked with a little soy sauce and balsamic vinegar
  • 200g cooked chicken, drained and shredded
  • wilted, chopped spinach and mushrooms or other veg, a handful or two
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • olive oil for the pan

Instructions

Crust:

  • Place the flour, salt, yeast, water, and olive oil in a large mixing bowl.
  • Stir everything together to make a shaggy, sticky mass of dough with no dry patches of flour. This should take 1-2 minutes by hand. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to gather the dough into a rough ball; cover the bowl.
  • After 5 minutes, uncover the bowl and reach your wet hand down between the side of the bowl and the dough, as though you were going to lift the dough out. Instead of lifting, stretch the bottom of the dough up and over its top. Repeat three more times, turning the bowl 90° each time.
  • Re-cover the bowl, and after 5 minutes do another fold. Wait 5 minutes and repeat; then another 5 minutes, and do a fourth and final fold. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest, undisturbed, for 40 minutes.
  • Split into four parts of ~425g each. Place into oiled containers (I use oiled takeout dishes.)
  • If using soon, refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours, or up to 72 hours. It’ll rise slowly as it chills, developing flavor; this long rise will also add flexibility to your schedule. (A 72 hour rise will require a largish container.)
  • To save for longer, seal each container in a ziplock bag and freeze. The night before you want to use it, move one batch from the freezer to the fridge.

Assemble:

  • Crust: About 3 hours before you want to serve your pizza, prepare your pan. Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons (18g) olive oil onto pizza pan or cookie sheet. Spread the oil across the bottom.
  • Transfer the dough to the pan and turn it once to coat both sides with the oil. Press the dough to the edges of the pan, dimpling it using the tips of your fingers in the process. The dough may start to resist and shrink back; that’s OK, just cover it and let it rest for about 15 minutes, then repeat the dimpling/pressing. At this point the dough should reach the edges of the pan; if it doesn’t, give it one more 15-minute rest before dimpling/pressing a third and final time.
  • Cover the crust and let rise for ~2-2.5 hours at room temperature.
  • About 30 minutes before baking, place one rack toward the bottom of the oven and preheat to 450°F.
  • Toppings: once the dough is risen, sprinkle about three-quarters of the mozzarella over the entire crust. Spoon a spiral of sauce from the center outward, over the cheese. Laying the cheese down first will prevent the sauce from seeping into the crust and making it soggy. Sprinkle on the chicken, any veg, and remaining mozzarella.
  • Bake the pizza for 20-22 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and the bottom and edges of the crust are a rich golden brown (use a spatula to check the bottom). More and/or moister toppings will take longer to cook.
  • Remove the pizza from the oven and slide the pizza onto a cutting board or other heatproof surface. Cut and remove extra slices to a cooling rack to avoid sogginess.

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Yesterday we made yogurt and pizza. Today I’m baking bread and it’s almost time for lunch, so let’s stick with the food theme.

These are more recollections than recipes, and from a time when I didn’t worry about pesky things like saturated fat or fire codes. My tastes have changed over the years, but I happen to be having macaroni and cheese for lunch today.

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Hard salami

Don’t ask how we came up with this idea but my brother and I decided that fried salami would be a pretty good late-night snack. This was back in the days when we shared a bedroom and were often sent to it before we were sleepy enough to go to bed. Reading in our bunkbeds with matching shelves and lamps, it seemed perfectly natural to want a little something to eat. Hard salami was always high on our list; who doesn’t like the seductive appeal of a food that’s half fat and salty to boot? The McDonald’s empire was built on such foods. We loved it. Our real innovation, though, was to cook the salami so that its texture was similar to that of pepperoni on pizza. The only way to accomplish this in our bedrooms was to fry each slice on our reading lamb light bulbs. The edges curled and the fat melted a bit, making the salami a warm succulent treat. I have no idea why it didn’t all just burst into flames.

Kraft macaroni and cheese

I made this so often that I knew the recipe by heart at age 9. I’d eat it one elbow at a time, sliding a fork tine down into the elbow’s open center and chewing slowly while reading in the La-Z-Boy by the window.

Mushroom and oyster soups

These two brands of Campbell’s soup were my favorites. Something about the rich creamy taste and filling texture made them perfect snacks for a winter’s afternoon. I’ve probably had more than my fair share of sodium and modified food starch, but at the time it was delightful.

Stir fried whatever

Usually I’d pull out whatever was in the fridge and toss it into the wok. First slice up an onion or scallion, some ginger or garlic if available, and stir fry for a minute or so until brown at the edges. Add frozen peas, and other vegetables you may have, cook for another minute, then add cold leftover rice and break an egg over top of it all and stir like mad for another minute, or until egg is thoroughly dry. Add soy sauce and snack.

BLT

When my brother finished his “meat-itarian” phase he was once again willing to accept a bit of green on his plate, at least when chaperoned by large quantities of meat. One result of this broadened perspective was his version of the BLT. It was simple, relying more on size and shock value for impact. I’m not sure anyone makes them quite like my brother. 

Slice half a tomato thickly, grill up half a package of bacon, find a couple of lettuce leaves in the fridge. Slather mustard onto one piece of bread and hot chili paste onto the other. Assemble the sandwich using all ingredients. If you survive a few months of these, you’ll have a cast-iron stomach and cholesterol levels that are through the roof.

Dad’s grilled cheese

The secrets to a great grilled cheese sandwich are lots of butter* and a cast-iron pan. I remember Dad slathering the outsides of two bread slices with butter, filling them with cheese, and then grilling it all until crisp and brown. He’d even cut mine on the diagonal, just the way I like it.

* Note from the future: mayonnaise is even better than butter for crispiness.

Pumpkin seeds

Every fall Halloween would roll around and it would be pumpkin carving time. Some years my designs would be better than others but I always got a kick out of the process. First, spread lots of newspaper on the kitchen table or floor. Then cut around the pumpkin stem with a sharp and sturdy knife until you can pull the top out. Take a big spoon and scrape out all the strange, stringy membranes inside. Spend an inordinate amount of time rinsing these interior scrapings to separate out the seeds. When as done as you can stand, dry and spread the seeds onto a cookie sheet, then bake at 350ºF for a few minutes until golden brown and crunchy. Salt liberally and enjoy.

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Photo by Anna Tukhfatullina Food Photographer/Stylist on Pexels.com

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Sun Tea

Today is one of the first really warm days this year, and we just came back in from a longish walk. I’m hot and thinking a big glass of my grandmother’s sun tea would be just the thing. I don’t actually have that tea because I did not think that far ahead, but if anyone else is in a similar mood, here’s the recipe (not that you really need it):

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Grandma’s Sun Tea

(Dorothea Johnson)

6-8 tea bags

Water

Sunshine

  1. Add water and tea bags to half-gallon bottle (old milk jars work well). Set outside in full sun for the afternoon, preferably between the driveway and marigold border in full view of any approaching grandchildren. Enjoy with sugar or maple syrup and a slice of something tangy.

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Photo by @thiszun (follow me on IG, FB) on Pexels.com

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I lost my biscuit recipe the other day. You know how it goes, you dig through your cookbooks, go online, pick a selection of recipes that looks promising, triangulate ingredients and techniques, make adjustments, then test and sample and retest until you come up with a recipe that works for you. Then you lose the piece of paper you scribbled it all on.

So there I was on Valentine’s Day, all ready to make chicken pot pie with biscuits (one of Mr. Man’s favorites) but I was short one biscuit recipe. I cobbled together a replacement but it was an imperfect substitute. Good news? Mr. Man was still happy. More good news? I found my original recipe!

I like this one because it’s quick, easy, uses the kefir we always have, and the melted butter with cold milk trick results in a lot of well-distributed butter bits without all the hassle of cubing and cutting in.

I am hereby committing it to these pages for posterity, and for Valentine’s Days to come.

* * *

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

  • 283g [2 C.] flour
  • 9g [2 t.] baking powder
  • 2.3g [½ t.] baking soda
  • 5g [1 t.] sugar
  • 3g [½ t.] salt
  • 113g [½ C.] butter, melted
  • 245g [1 C.] kefir or buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 475F.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. 
  3. Melt butter (I used the microwave for this), add kefir or buttermilk, whisk together.
  4. Pour butter mixture into dry mix and stir until just incorporated.*
  5. Scoop and drop large, rounded spoonfuls of dough onto a lined tray or on top of hot pot pie filling.
  6. Bake until just golden and cooked through, 12-14 minutes for biscuits alone, or 24 minutes on pot pie.**

* * *

* It’s easy to overwork biscuit dough. Ask me how I know!

** I’m experimenting with dropping the temperature to 425–450F for the last ten minutes of the pot pie to keep the edges from scorching, but that’s still in the trial phase. And I might add a bit more salt and sugar. And baste the top with butter when done, but only if they aren’t on top of the already buttery pot pie. And this is how I roll in the kitchen.

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Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

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