Wednesday, December 17, 2014

YANKED.....Again!

This British Classic is normally steamed and was prepared as such for many generations at the beginning of New England colonization. Steamed puddings have fallen by the wayside since the 19th century, mainly because of the lack of proper equipment and time in modern family households. The recipe below is no different. It resembles a super moist muffin than anything else, but don't let that detract you from making it.
It is simply delicious, even with some alternative ingredients such as soaked raisins instead of dates, orange juice and the sauce. Toffee sauce is ordinarily used, but I decided to give it a New England feel by using molasses. After all, can you think of anything stickier than molasses?

I have also noted at the end of this recipe about the true origin. Although there are multiple theories, one thing is certain. Our Yankee ancestors, here on the East coast, love their rum and some have even speculated the word Toffee comes from Tafia, which means Rum.

So try this Yanked recipe for the Holidays and beyond for a flavor that has transcended time, tables and tastes.


New England Sticky 'Toffee' Pudding



3/4 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine
2 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
Nonstick cooking spray
2 eggs, beaten
1 2/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Yankee 'Toffee' Sauce, recipe below*

 

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. In a medium saucepan, add raisins and orange juice concentrate and water. bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to combine. Boil for 10 minutes, remove from heat and drain all but 2 tablespoons liquid. Add sugar, butter, molasses and vanilla, stirring until butter has melted. Let cool for a few minutes before refrigerating for 60 minutes.

Spray 10 cups in one or two muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour with baking soda. Stir in the raisin mixture and eggs, mixing until just combined. Fill the prepared muffin cups with equal amounts of Pudding batter, each cup will be about 2/3-full. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until the center bounces back when touched. Remove from oven to serve hot with Yankee 'Toffee' Sauce.

To make the Yankee 'Toffee' Sauce, combine 1 cup molasses, 3 tablespoons thawed orange juice concentrate and 1 teaspoon lemon juice in a small saucepan. Gently heat until warm and spoon over warm Sticky Toffee Puddings.

 

*If you would like to stay true to the origin of Toffee Pudding, replace the orange juice concentrate with dark or flavored rum or replace the lemon juice with rum extract.
 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Spice Cake, Move Over!!!

The flavor of this cake is far and above better tasting than Spice Cake and I think you will agree that it will quickly be a family favorite.


Depression Cake was a popular treat during, of course, the Depression era here in the U.S.. It didn't include eggs, butter and milk because these were rationed and expensive during this time. On the same hand, apples were abundant, cheap and used excessively. We all know us Yankees have been using apples in every aspect of home life since the Puritan era anyway, so it was only a given that we incorporate this natural sweetener, along with New England maple syrup, into this delicious cake.

The topping of boiled raisins actually far predates this cake, back to a little earlier than the Civil War, with the Boiled Raisin Cake being popular. You will notice, as well, that there is no other leavening agent other than a pinch of baking soda. You won't believe the reaction of soda and vinegar in this recipe. This cake is higher than if you used baking powder or eggs. And the texture is out of this world, not to mention the taste.

 

Rum-Raisin Depression Cake

 

1/2 cup raisins
3 cups apple juice or cider
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup crushed graham crackers
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 c vegetable oil
2 teaspoons rum extract*
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/3 cups apple sauce

 

Make Spiced Raisin Sauce by boiling raisins, apple juice and cloves in a medium saucepan over medium heat for 15 minutes, adding more if needed to keep liquid just above raisins. Remove, stir in lemon juice and transfer to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, add flour, graham crackers, sugar, baking soda and cinnamon; mix well. Add apple sauce, maple syrup, oil, vanilla and vinegar, stirring into the flour mixture until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake 36-38 minutes, or until nicely browned on top and it springs back when touched in the middle. Remove from oven to cool slightly before transferring to a plate or serving platter.

Remove Spiced Raisin Sauce from refrigerator, stir to combine and serve over cake to serve. Add whipped topping if desired. This cake is also great serving right out oven and warming raisin sauce before spooning over cake slices.

*Substitute vanilla or almond extract if desired. Old recipes for this cake often included alcoholic rum and you desire to use this, simply replace the milk with 1/4 cup dark or flavored rum.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Yanked Old-time Favorites




I have always wanted to spend just a little time and rework some of the old recipes our fore=families enjoyed so many generations ago. Of course, the supermarkets carry such a wide array of international treats now that we don't often think back to the day when all desserts and treats were made at home. And not to mention that as far back as the 17th century here in New England, fresh fruits were a rarity, unless you or your neighbors grew them. Dried figs, currants, raisins and plums were abundant because they stored well on the voyage from Mother England to New England.
We were content with these naturally sweet fruits and used them all year round in every conceivable recipe. When the Holidays rolled around, us Yankees simply incorporated these dried fruits in a special preparation, such as Plum Pudding and Whips.
Although there is not much you can do in the way of the visual appeal of dried plums, I have taken privileges with these classics and hopefully revamped them for your enjoyment today. I think you will fall in love with the following recipes and not only taste what our ancestors enjoyed but with a whole new flavor to boot.



Cheers to Plum Pudding


My take on this timeless classic that our fore-families enjoyed during the Yuletide season. Plum Pudding has received a bad rap the past couple of generations because of its unappealing look and almost bland, but sweet, flavor. Because our ancestors lacked the array of flavors so widely available today(much like when I was a child, we enjoyed homemade treats more than store brand sweets), they were content with any sweet that could be prepared at home. So, using a little Yankee ingenuity, this age-old dessert has no lack of flavor and can now be enjoyed yet again, gracing our Holiday tables with a twist.

Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1 cup pitted dried plums(prunes)
1(10-ounce)jar cherries without stems, in syrup
1/2 cup dark or flavored rum, or 2 teaspoons rum, almond or vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
5 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 cups flour
Whipped topping or ice cream if desired

 

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a blender or food processor, pulse milk, sugar, dried plums, cherries(with the syrup), rum, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg until well blended and the plums have been reduced to very small bits. Transfer to a bowl, and stir in the beaten eggs and melted butter. Stir in the flour until well incorporated and almost lump free. Pour in prepared pan and bake 35-37 minutes, or until the middle is set and the edges spring back when touched. Remove from oven to cool slightly before serving with whipped topping. This is great completely cooled as well.



Dried Plum-Cherry "Jam"

This amazingly sweet spread is perfect on your morning bagels, English muffins or sweet muffins. By heating up a mixture of 2 cups apple cider or juice, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice, it makes a terrific glaze and sauce for your baked ham this Christmas.

1 cup pitted, dried plums(prunes)
1(10-ounce)jar whole cherries in juice, without stems
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Add all ingredients to a blender and pulse on high until it has been minced, but not pureed. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, it will be thick, so give it a stir and enjoy.
 


Sugar Plum-berry Whip

Talk about taking a trip back in time. My grandfather, the first Yankee Chef, made Prune Whip in the early 20s because it was THE dessert of the time. Little did he know that, although great tasting in its own right, the third Yankee Chef would Yank his recipe so that today's palate can enjoy this forgotten, creamy, mousse-like whip. The tang of pomegranate is just what this recipe needed to spark the sweet desire even in children.

1(9-ounce) box or bag of pitted, dried plums(prunes)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon both nutmeg and dried ginger
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place plums, honey and pomegranate juice to the bowl of a food processor or blender and pulse until the size of rice. Transfer to a medium saucepan with 1 cup heavy cream and spices. Bring close to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring almost constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat to completely cool in refrigerator, about 2 hours. Meanwhile, beat 1 cup heavy cream until soft peaks form. Slowly add 1/2 cup sugar while beating, until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream to the cooled pomegranate mixture, along with the vanilla. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.



Sweet Holiday Plums

I truly believe that these plums will be dancing in your head once you try them. Of course, for grown-ups only, the mingling of apple and chocolate liqueur simply livens up the natural sweetness of the plums and is a perfect accompaniment to your spiked egg nog or other Holiday cheer. Please remember that if you are using an open flame gas burner, be extra cautious so that the alcohol doesn't flame up on you.

1 cup dried, pitted plums(prunes)
2 ounces creme de cacao or other chocolate liqueur*
2 ounces Calvados, Apple Jack or other apple liqueur
4 ounces dark or milk chocolate chips
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 ounces white morsels

 

In a saucepan, combine plums, creme de cacao and Calvados, tossing well. Bring to scalding over medium heat and immediately remove from stove. Let cool slightly before covering to refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. You will want to turn over the plums every few hours to evenly marinate. Remove from bowl and strain well.

Line a flat pan with film wrap. Microwave chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon oil in microwave for 1 minute, or until melted. Stir oil into the melted chocolate.

Using a skewer or a metal spaghetti fork tine(I used those little corn on the cob holders), dip the plums in the melted chocolate, covering completely. Remove, let excess chocolate drip off and place on prepared pan. Repeat with all plums and place in refrigerator until chocolate has hardened. Meanwhile, melt white morsels and remainder vegetable oil. . Drizzle melted white morsels over each plum, let harden and keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.

* Try grape, spiced, pear, coconut or vanilla brandy or try peppermint schnapps 
 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas Decadence

Through the years, the first and second Yankee Chefs have created some tasty and world-class desserts. And world-class, I mean so sinfully flavorful, you would have thought dozens of ingredients were used and hours of preparation. This has never been, nor ever shall be, the case with the third Yankee Chef, me! I have proudly created some dishes that would simply rival any dessert or pastry found in upscale restaurants and bakeries and I am equally proud to say that the preparation, ingredients and cost of many dip far below what you would expect.


Such is the case with the following two recipes. Both of these indulgences are absolutely explosive in flavor and ring in the Holiday season perfectly.

If you want these to adorn your Christmas tables this year, simply place them in the oven about 40 minutes before you think your guests and family will be ready to dig in.


 





 
Self-Glazing Chestnut Cake

This cake is the epitome of what should be served at Christmas. Sweet and the most moist cake you will have this year, with the taste of roasted chestnuts evident in every bite. You know the second you take it from the oven and notice the dark brown caramelization on all sides of the pan that you have something that everyone will remember.

What is nice about this cake is that you can substitute any peanut in place of the chestnuts and replace the apple jelly with a jelly of your choice as well.

For those of you who are on a gluten-free diet, replace the flour with corn, buckwheat or quinoa flours because the jelly will keep the cake moist, regardless of what type of flour you use.

It truly doesn't matter how you play with this recipe, as long as you eat it!(Sound like a parent don't I?)




1 3/4 cups apple jelly
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Nonstick cooking spray
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup chopped, cooked(roasted) chestnuts *
2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

 

Add apple jelly, vanilla, lemon juice and cloves to a small microwavable bowl, cover loosely and heat for 45 seconds. Remove to stir. If the jelly hasn't melted completely, continue heating another 15 seconds; set aside.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Spray an 8 x8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon until well combined; set aside. In another bowl, blend flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and nutmeg. Add the milk, chestnuts and melted butter, stirring just enough to combine. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top. Pour melted apple jelly evenly over the top but do not stir in. Bake 30 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched. The jelly will have pooled in the center of the cake, so test the cake along the side.

Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes and scoop out cake to serve as is or with ice cream or whipped topping if desired.



* These are easily found in any supermarket during the Holidays.
 

 

Saucy Pumpkin-Cranberry Holiday Cake

This cake should be served right along side of the above so that everyone can choose. But there is one downfall if you are going to do that. One bite of either and people are going to choose BOTH! Unlike the above recipe, the 'sauce' in this recipe gravitates to the edge of the cake, seeping down to the bottom as it bakes, so even though you may not notice it, the bottom is flooded with creamy, sweet goodness. So go ahead and scoop your portion out as opposed to cutting into it, like other cakes. You will also notice, upon eating, that I should have used the word 'moist' when titling this recipe.







1 3/4 cups cranberry juice
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Nonstick cooking spray
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

 

Add cranberry juice and lemon juice to a small bowl and whisk well; set aside. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Spray an 8 x8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg until well combined; set aside. In another bowl, blend flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and ginger. Add the milk, pumpkin and melted butter, stirring just enough to combine. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top. Pour cranberry juice mixture over the top but do not stir in. Bake 30 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched.

Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes and scoop out cake to serve as is or with ice cream or whipped topping if desired.

 
Try other juices here folks, as well as other spices and flavorings in the cake as well. Coconut in the cake and pineapple juice as the sauce is a great idea, as is chopped or candied cherries in the cake and cherry juice on top. Try orange marmalade in the cake and orange juice on top. See what I mean?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sweeeeeeet Cookies

With the same basic ingredients, you can create literally dozens of cookies. This Master cookie dough recipe is reminiscent of a sugar cookie, thereby enabling even the home cook to add, subtract and vary the preparation method to result in your own creation.


I have given you a couple of ideas below and, as usual, play with this recipe a little, with the recipe for Santa's Favorites being the Master recipe. Just remember that the more you alter the liquid, the more you will NEED to alter the dry. The dough, when finished, should hold together in a ball when you have finished stirring, or beating, it. It will resemble the preparation method of pizza dough, when it leaves the sides of the bowl and clings together.


 

 
 

 

Chocolate Crispy Quickies


Want crispy cookies with enough gooeyness to liken them to a fat, moist, freshly baked chocolate chip cookie? Here is the answer! Cooked in as little as 5 minutes with textures to please both palates. These cookies are also great thinned out with 1/2 cup corn syrup so that they flatten out even more, creating a crispy crust on top and bottom, and still maintaining that melted chocolate center.

6 tablespoons butter or margarine
Nonstick cooking spray
1/3 cup corn syrup
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Coat a baking or cookie pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a bowl, beat together the butter, corn syrup, sugar and lemon juice until smooth with an electric mixer on high. Reduce speed to low and beat in the flour and cinnamon until well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Drop by the rounded teaspoons onto prepared cookie sheet, leaving 3 inches between each mound. Bake 5-6 minutes, or until you notice the cookies starting to brown on the bottom edges. Immediately remove to cool for 2 minutes before transferring to a plate or rack to cool further.

 

Makes 28-30 crispy, gooey cookies.

 

 




'Tis The Season Mint Swirls

You certainly can make the red portion of this dough more vibrant by adding more red food coloring, but my daughter wanted a pink, so.....It IS the Holiday season after all.



1/2 cup(1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar, divided
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Red, green and blue food coloring(or any combination)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 teaspoons peppermint extract, divided
Nonstick cooking spray
Film wrap


 

In a large bowl, and using an electric mixer on high, beat together butter, 1 cup sugar, egg and milk until creamy and smooth. In another bowl, mix together flour, cream or tartar and baking soda. Slowly add the dry to the wet and continue beating, on low, until well combined. Separate the dough into three separate bowls. With a wooden spoon, or continue using beater on low(cleaning between each bowl) add 2 drops red food coloring and vanilla extract, stirring well. Yes, I said 2, the taste is reflected beautifully once cooked. and stir well. In another bowl, beat in 6 drops blue food coloring and 2 teaspoons peppermint extract and stir well. In third bowl, beat in 4 drops green food coloring and 2 teaspoons peppermint extract, stir well.

On a large sheet of film wrap, or waxed paper, add whichever bowl of dough desired. Place another sheet of film wrap over the top and roll out to a half-inch thickness, in a rectangular shape. Do the same with the other two bowls of dough, trying to make them the same size. Now peel off the top sheet of wrap from each rectangle. Lay one rectangle on top of the other and trim to even out the sides. Carefully roll up this layered dough like you would a jelly roll, by the long end. You don't need to do it tightly and if it cracks, that isn't a biggie either. Once rolled, fold the plastic over the ends and refrigerate at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Spray a large cookie sheet or two with nonstick cooking spray. Remove the dough log from refrigerator and cut into 3/4-inch thick slices. Place on prepared baking sheets, leaving 1-inch between each cookie. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar, evenly, and bake 12-14 minutes, or until you see the edges of the bottom of the cookies starting to brown. Immediately remove from oven to cool for 2 minutes before transferring to a rack or platter to cool completely.

Makes 10-12 cookies

 




Santa's Favorites

Crunchy candy canes in a soft cookie, spiced with orange and graham. What a treat! You choose which coating you want. Sugar for that Holiday rush or graham crackers for a less sweet, yet just as crunchy bite. Either way, these candy canes are a hit with children and adults alike.

1/2 cup(1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar, separated
2 teaspoons orange extract
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Nonstick cookie spray
4 candy canes, crushed
1/2 cup crushed graham crackers

 

In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer on high, beat butter and 1 cup sugar together until smooth and creamy. Reduce speed to low and beat in orange extract and egg until well combined. In another bowl, mix flour, cream of tartar and baking soda. Slowly beat the flour mixture to the wet, on low, until well incorporated. Stir in crushed candy canes. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cookie spray. By the rounded tablespoon, scoop out dough and roll in the palm of your hands. Roll in crushed graham crackers or remainder of sugar and place on prepared pan. Continue with remaining cookie dough, leaving 3 inches between cookies. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until they are crisp on bottom. Remove to cool slightly before transferring to rack or platter.

Makes 12-14 cookies

 

Cocoa Caramel Hideaways

A cross between a sugared cocoa crinkle and a caramel lava cookie, but with the benefits of each. These filled delights are easy to make and can be 'stuffed' with a variety of items, such as broken peanut butter cups, pulled taffy or even jelly of your choice. Get the kids involved in making these, just don't let 'em eat the cookie dough, it has raw egg.

1/2 cup(1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or 1 tablespoon imitation vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup Dutch cocoa
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 caramel candies, cut into thirds
Nonstick cookie spray

 

In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer on high, beat butter and 1 cup sugar together until smooth and creamy. Reduce speed to low and beat in vanilla and egg until well combined. In another bowl, mix flour, cocoa, cream of tartar and baking soda. Slowly beat the flour mixture to the wet, on low, until well incorporated. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cookie spray. Remove a rounded tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball with your palms. Make a large indent in the middle, place a cut caramel in the center and reseal, rolling once again. Dip in either graham crumbs or remaining sugar, continuing to roll so crumbs adhere well. Place on prepared cookie sheet and repeat with remaining dough, leaving 3-inches between balls. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the bottom is crisp. Remove to cool slightly before transferring to a rack or platter.

 

 

Gooey Chocolate Drippers

Blossom cookies...Look out! The melted chocolate dripping off the sides of these tangy, soft cookies can only be topped by washing them down with a rich, frothy, hot cocoa. I think what separates these cookies from others is the touch of fruit mixed throughout the dough. It is such a great way of offsetting pure sugar, don't you think?

 

1/2 cup(1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup apricot fruit spread*
1 egg
1 cup flour
3/4 cup crushed graham crackers
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 chocolate bar, broken along lines to form rectangles
Nonstick cooking spray

 

In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer on high, beat butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy. Reduce speed to low and beat in fruit spread and egg until well combined. In another bowl, mix flour, crushed grahams, cream of tartar and baking soda. Slowly beat the flour mixture to the wet, on low, until well incorporated. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cookie spray. Remove a rounded tablespoon of dough and drop it on prepared baking pan and repeat with remaining dough, leaving 3-inches between balls. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the bottom is crisp. Remove from oven and immediately stick a small rectangle of chocolate in the center of each cookie. Let cool for another minute before transferring to a rack or platter.

Makes about 12 cookies.

*Mint Apple Jelly would go well here, or your favorite fruit spread.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Candy Time

Every time I use a single word in front of 'TIME', I automatically think of that song Hammer Time, and the song stays with me forever. I don't suppose that happens to any of you does it?
So as I was writing this post, guess where the other half of my brain was? Yup! Tossing each shoulder up and scooting along the floor sideways in my parachute pants.


Here we have a caramel recipe and a toffee offering. The difference? Although both are very similar in appearance and taste, caramel is made with milk and is cooked in less time. Caramel, also, hardens at a lower temperature(about 250-degrees F) than does toffee because of the addition of milk. Toffee, on the other hand, hardens at about 300-degrees F because of the shorter crystals on a molecular level.
 

Soft, Yet Crunchy, Caramels

My son comes running every single time he knows I am doing a shoot now.
 
I adore the down-home feel(and taste)of molasses-flavored caramels, and I think you will too. Add to that some maple syrup and you have yourself an indulgence that should not only be enjoyed during the Holidays, but year round. Just pay attention when the caramel reaches the correct color and consistency before removing from heat. It only takes a minute for it to overcook, burn and just plain be nasty tasting. But even so, at least it won't stick to your teeth if it is just a tad too hard.
Nonstick cooking spray
1/4 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 cup maple syrup or dark corn syrup
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

 

Place a sheet of wax paper in the bottom and up the sides about an inch of a bread loaf pan. Spray with nonstick cooking spray liberally. Combine all food ingredients in a medium saucepan, mix to combine. Place over medium heat and once bubbling, cook 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Although it will be dark to begin with, you will notice the caramel getting darker. Once it looks as though it is pulling away from the sides of the pot when stirring and it is dark amber in color, immediately remove from heat and pour into prepared pan. Let cool, at room temperature, enough to handle. Invert the pan onto work surface, tapping the bottom if necessary to loosen. Immediately cut into thin, 1-inch strips and slowly roll tootsie-roll fashion. If you do this slowly and use the warmth of your fingers, this is easily accomplished without breaking. Wrap in small bits of waxed paper if desired.

Alternately, you can let this completely harden before removing from pan. Break apart using a rolling pin into various sizes.

 

 
 

Cocoa Crispy Buttercrunch Toffee


Here is a delightfully crunchy toffee recipe for those who are not able to withstand the effects of peanuts. Just as crunchy as a nut, but without the fat and worries. If desired, by all means replace the Panko bread crumbs with chopped nuts of your choice.

1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Nonstick cooking spray
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
 

In a bowl, combine bread crumbs, brown sugar, cocoa and cinnamon until mixture is evenly colored; set aside. Layer wax paper on the bottom of a bread loaf pan, and up the sides about an inch. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Evenly layer half the crunch topping on the bottom. In a medium saucepan, add butter, sugar, corn syrup and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, cook 7-8 minutes, or until it turns to a medium brown color, now stirring frequently. The color change will be almost instant, so keep a close eye on it. Pour into prepared pan, top with remainder of crunch topping and let cool completely. Invert onto a work surface of plate and break into desired sizes.


Friday, October 31, 2014

The BEST of the BEST



First, I would like to say these are my two favorite savory recipes using squash. Comforting Mac and Cheese prepared with simplicity, uniqueness and flavor in mind. The thought of the natural goodness of a Yankee staple swimming in a pool of cheese is too good to keep to myself.

The second thought I would like to share with everyone is a particular Maine-made product that truly should be known around the globe. Now mamny of you will think that I am writing the following because it is a Maine company, and has been since the first Yankee Chef, my grandfather Samuel Bailey, but this is not the case. Although Raye's Mustard, of Eastport, Maine was started by J. Wesley Raye in his family smokehouse wayyy back in 1900 for the sole purpose of adding spice to Maine, canned sardines(with my favorite being Bar Harbor® Sardines, as mentioned in the previous post), this company has stretched its' arms much further than the local arena. It was in the ring with some of the best mustards in the world during the World Mustard Competition at Napa Valley, California and won the gold medal. I am giving you links to to this company because you will be amazed at the variety and competitive cost of these fantastic mustards.
Want a mustard for a salad? Beef? Pork? Anything? You can find it here. In the meantime, allow me to show you just one example of the goodness this flavored mustard adds to my 'go-to' dinner for those days when a break or 'me-time' is needed.




Yanked Macaroni and Cheese

If I were to choose a last meal, this would be it. The golden taste of squash mixed into Macaroni and Cheese is fillling, satisfying and so decadently satiating. This is a perfect recipe for those leftover bowls of mashed squash after Thanksgiving as well. If youi would like thinner Macaroni and Cheese, or simply would rather have less squash flavor, use half the squash listed. Just make sure you try this spectacular combination with the mustard below, or find a Dijon-style mustard of equal quality(good luck with that one).


 
1 acorn squash, about 1 1/4 pounds, halved and seeded
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3 tablespoons minced onion
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided
2 tablespoons flour

3 cups milk
6 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
6 ounces shredded Gruyere cheese
2 teaspoons
Raye's Old World Gourmet Mustard*
3/4 pound(3 cups) elbow macaroni, cooked and drained

 

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Place squash on a baking pan, cut side up. Brush with 1 tablespoon melted butter and sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until soft to the touch. Remove from oven to cool so they can be handled. Scopp out flresh and mash, roughly, with a fork; set aside.

In a large, 2-quart saucepan, melt remaining butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until very soft, about 3 minutes, stirring ocassionally. Add flour and whisk until smooth. Add the milk and continue to cook, stirring almost constantly, until it is scalding and thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the cheeses and mustard, continuing to stir until the cheese has melted, about another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the squash. Fold in the cooked macaroni and serve while hot.

*If you are unable to find this mustard(which would be a shame) you can order it online at
http://rayesmustard.com/collections/mustard/products/old-world-gourmet-mustard, or subsitute a Dijon-style mustard of your choice(which, again, would be a shame).






Creamy Acorn Mac and Cheese


Don't wait until the Holidays to enjoy the comforting taste of acorn squash. And nothing says comfort quite like Mac and Cheese, especially when pared with squash. This is truly a taste of its own.


2 acorn squashes, about 1 1/4 pounds each.
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablesoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspon dry mustard
2 cups milk
4 ounces Cheddar cheese
4 ounces American cheese, cubed or sliced
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups(1/2 pound) dried macaroni, cooked and drained
1/2 cup dried, unseasoned bread crumbs
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup

Cut each squash in half vertically. Scioop out seeds and place on either a baking pan or onto the cups of a regular muffin tin. this will hold them very stable. With a sharp, pointed steak knife, run it around the wall of each squash, being careful not to puncture the skin. This loosens the flesh so that it will be much easier to eat. Sprinkle each with garlic powder.

In a large saucpan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and dried mustard until smooth. Add the milk, whisking until smooth. Continue cooking and whisking almost constantly until the milk has thickened,. about 3-4 minutes. Add cheeses, hot sauce and pepper, reducing temperature to low. Stir unitl the cheese has melted completely. Remove from heat and carefully add the cooked macaroni, stirring to blend well.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Toss the bread crumbs with enough maple syrup to moisten all of crumbs; set aside. Evenly divide the prepared mac and cheese among the
halved acorn squash. Top with equal amounts of sweetened bread curmbs and bake for 30 minutes, or until the squash is just tender. Remove to cool slightly before serving hot.