21 January 2015

Holiday Recipes 2014

I should have posted these last month but I was busy.
The utensil pictured right is Tovolo's Better Batter Tool. It quickly became an essential in my kitchen.
Great for batters, scrapes the side of the bowl better than a spatula.
Stainless steel handle gives it a lot of strength.
High temp silicone makes it useful in making everything.
Without it, I don't think I'd have the strength to beat, beat, beat my date nut loaf for the necessary five minutes.

See my previous blog for my grandmother's recipe for Texas Date Nut Loaf and my microwave adaption: http://the-life-i-read.blogspot.com/2011/12/its-date.html

 Classic Lemon Curd

Carmen gifted me with an abundance of lemons. Juicy. Sweet. I consulted the expert Janet and made lemon curd. The secret to no clumps and no cooked egg white bits is the technique.

In large mixer bowl, cream about 2 minutes:
9 Tablespoons unsalted butter (room temp.)
1 1/2 cups sugar
Slowly add:
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
Beat for 1 minute.
Mix in
1 1/2 cups lemon juice
The mixture will look curdled and that is OK.
In a heavy saucepan, cook the mixture over low heat until the butter melts and the mixture looks smooth.
Increase the heat to medium, stirring constantly with that Tovolo tool until the mixture thickens.
15 minutes or so
Do NOT boil!
When done it will leave a path on the back of a spoon, 170 degrees on thermometer.
Remove from heat and add lemon zest.
Transfer to a bowl, press the surface with plastic wrap, chill in the fridge.
The curd will thicken as it cools.
Cover tightly. Keep in the refrigerator for a week.

May keep in the freezer up to two months.
Thaw in the refrigerator!

It is possible to prepare canning jars and lids and process for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath and keep it much longer.
If there is ever an "off" or metallic smell, do not eat the curd.

Ghirardelli 3-Minute Fudge

This fudge is by far the best I've ever had!
The secret is starting with quality chocolate.
I used Ghirardelli and made two batches, one with pecans and one without. Pecans were better.
I also made one batch with butter and one without as the Ghirardelli suggested. The butter version was smoother, better fudge.
I used the microwave rather than a double boiler. It is very easy to scorch chocolate.

Butter an 8-inch square pan.
Lining with wax paper was suggested but I thought the butter worked much better.

In a microwave-safe bowl, put
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 bar (2 ounces) 100% Cacao unsweetened chocolate baking bar, chipped
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand)
Microwave 1 minute.
Remove and stir.
Return to microwave for 30 seconds.
Remove and stir.
1/4 cup butter, cut into 1 Tablespoon chunks
Return to microwave, removing every 30 seconds to stir, until chocolate is melted and smooth.
The whole process in the microwave takes 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract.
1 cup pecans, chopped (optional) (or walnuts if you are not a Texan)
Spread fudge evenly in prepared pan.
Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

Slice into squares.
Makes about a dozen large pieces or 16 bite-sized pieces.
I thought my cheese knife worked very well.

Store uncovered at room temperature.
I layered mine between wax paper and put in small tins for gifts and to serve at family gatherings.

I must have about a thousand pound cake recipes.
It is my favorite cake, warm or cold, glazed or plain, with or without fruit, toasted and buttered for breakfast...
My favorite pound cake  recipe is from the Houston Junior League's cookbook Stop and Smell the Rosemary, the best cookbook in my collection.
One day during the holiday rush, I had no milk, no buttermilk,  no sour cream, no yogurt, no canned milk. Nothing. And I needed a cake to take to dinner with friends. No time and even less motivation to make a trip to the grocery.
I remembered an old southern favorite 7-Up Cake and decided that ginger ale might be a bit more seasonal.

Ginger Ale Bundt Cake

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Spray a 10-inch Bundt pan with Baker's Joy.
Cream together
1 cup butter at room temp
1/2 cup shortening
3 cups sugar
about 5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
Beat 1 minute.
Add one at a time
5 eggs at room temp
Scraping down the bowl after each addition.
At this point you want to beat it really, really well to incorporate a lot of air because this cake does not contain baking powder or soda as a leavening agent.
Alternating between flour and ginger ale, ending with flour, add
3 cups cake flour* (one cup, second cup, end with third)
1 cup Canada Dry ginger ale, at room temp. (1/2 cup at a time)
Beat just enough to incorporate the flour; do not overbeat.
The ginger ale is serving as the leavening agent that will make the cake rise and you don't want to beat it death and lose all the carbonation.
Spoon the batter into  prepared pan.
Bake about 1 hour 40 minutes until cake tests done (inserted toothpick comes out clean)
Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
Remove from pan and glaze.

*Nope, I didn't have cake flour either. I never have cake flour. When a recipe calls for cake flour, I
sift regular flour. Measure 3 cups. Remove 2 Tablespoons of flour and add the rest to this recipe.
My general rule for cake flour is to sift regular flour (I usually used Gold Medal unbleached) at least three times then measure the amount the recipe calls for being careful not to mash the flour and lose its lightness.
I prefer a 3-4 cup stainless steel sifter with a rotating handle as pictured. One key to cake perfection is precise measurement and a really good sifter.

Ginger Ale Glaze
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup ginger ale
2 Tablespoons orange juice, fresh squeezed
These amounts are approximate. Add more powdered sugar or more liquid one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency.

Corn Pudding

Served with Honey-Baked Ham, it was so good, simple plain fare at a holiday table. And so easy.
I made some changes to reduce fat and it worked great. They ate every bite.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease 9 x 13 inch Pyrex dish

In a large bowl, beat
2 eggs
Some recipes used only 1 egg but since I was not using sour cream I added the extra for richness.
1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
Stir in
1 stick melted butter (I used only 1/2 stick and it was fine.)
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can creamed corn
1 cup sour cream*
*In this recipe a substitution worked great. I used a bit more than a cup of cottage cheese (not low fat, 4%) and 2 Tablespoons of whole milk in the blender and pulsed it until it was the consistency of sour cream. I think yogurt would also work well. Had I been using low fat cottage cheese and milk, I think it would have needed the whole stick of butter.

Some recipes add 1 cup grated cheddar cheese but I didn't think it need that.

Bake about 40 minutes until clean toothpick in the center and the edges just begin to brown.
Serve warm just out of the oven. It does not reheat well.

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