Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Ho-Ho-Ho!!!


I have so blessed this year in many MANY ways. My first new home, new vehicle, a super popular blog and website(that is far surpassed 1 million viewers now) and a multitude of possibilities that have opened up for me.
Although it has taken a long time, with many of these openings taking longer than I originally expected, I am nothing if not patient.
Sure, there are still naysayers out there as well as others that either have nothing in their lives to be thankful for or have such low self esteem that they need to bring everyone they can down to their level, but it is with fortitude and a higher level of living that I overlook these people.
I am proud to be able to wear my pink chefs coat in honor and to be able to proceed with my life and life's work knowing that my priorities are well placed and my attention is focused on family and friends. (As much as I am able to anyway)

I am a consummate work-a-holic and have been ever since I was 14 years old. TRULY starting from the ground up and not afraid to reenter that ground floor if the need ever arose.
I don't put myself above anyone else and if I don't have something good to say, I don't say it at all. In that respect, I know when my days are numbered, it won't be because I let something eat at me or let other people's lives completely overwhelm MY life.


It takes growth, stamina, intelligence and priorities to live a life of happiness in the short amount of time we have on this earth. My goodness, if there is anything I have learned with age is to focus on what makes you happy, calm and loving in that short amount of time we have.


I used to be a jealous young adult, hold grudges, get upset at the drop of a hat, drink, carouse, not care about my next meal or abode......and I wish I knew then what I know now. (How many times I have heard my parents say that).
My Dad never let things bother him(at least as I remember) and always smiled regardless of any circumstance. My Aunt Marion is the same way, and so wasn't my Uncle Stan.
There are still times that I let things bother me but not nearly as much as years past. So this year, I am going to slowly let those feelings subside even more, and more next year, and so on, and so on.
I am grateful for what I have, not what I don't have. I am happy with my life, not jealous of someone else's life. I love the underdog, and always will. And by that, I mean those that aren't as fortunate or struggling. I have a HUGE weakness for children's well-being and that is what I try to focus on as well.

Sooooo, I have rambled on quite enough. I am just truly thankful that my glass is half full and it is from MY glass, I will drink. Salute and Merry Christmas all my friends and thank you for bringing 100 years of The Yankee Chef into the 101st year.


It's Just That Simple! ™
   
 

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 a 1/4 cup dark or flavored rum for a 1/4 cup of the maple syrup.

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.


Friday, October 24, 2014

A Sadly Forgotten New England Fish

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As a true Yankee, I grew up with the sound of canned sardines in my home. The sound you say?! Yup, that sound when you pull back on that can and hear the suction dissipate and that clean, metal tearing harmony. They were always in the cupboard. found mostly in mustard, these delicious little fish made their way onto my fathers chin coated in oil many times.

Sardines, the smaller version of herring, was THE business here in Maine for many generations. Heck, even children as young as 7-8 years old found themselves working right alongside their parents in these large, expansive and smelly factories. The images below I found at the U.S. Library of Congress digital division. I urge you to take at peek at their site, they have some amazing older images for those of you that are as nostalgic as I am.

Children taking a break from the sardine factory in Eastport, Maine
 
 
At one time, there were over 350 canning factories for these silvery fish in Maine, most of them up and down the coast.

The only explanation I can even possibly consider as to why the sharp decline and ultimate cessation of this industry is because of the idea of eating these oily fish. Because of their abundance, even to this day, they can be sold cheaply. Because of this lower expense, I believe the concept of eating a "cheap" fish that comes in cans is not appealing, and THAT, my friends, is a shame. Especially when you consider that anchovies hold such a high and delicate standing in the culinary world. And what is an anchovy? THE SAME THING!!! Well, technically that is. They are much more salted, but none-the-less, they are classified as a small fish and are eaten the same way as the sardines.


FYI, sardines are very VERY high in nutrients that have been found to benefit cardiovascular health in a tremendous way. When it comes to omega-3 fatty acids, they have one of the most concentrated sources. One 3 1/2-ounce can contains about 50% of the RDA amounts of these heart healthy nutrients.

Another reason I think people don't enjoy these delectable's is because they are near the bottom of the food chain, but this is a good thing. Because of their existence in the scheme of the aquatic kingdom, they feed solely on plankton. It is because of this that they ingest nearly no damaging heavy metals as compared to all other fish. And without these damaging contaminants, such as mercury, they are much healthier to eat.

And have you even had a kipper? Kippers have been a mainstay on breakfast tables for centuries in England. With their smoky goodness, these smoked 'red herrings' pair perfectly with eggs, after they have been "boiled off" that is. But you don't have to worry about Bar Harbor Foods brand. They are prepared much the same way our forefathers prepared fish for their long voyages across the Atlantic, but without the added duty of rinsing

Now I must tell you about a company here in Maine that still sells all the above, and then some. I recently walked up and down the aisles of my local supermarket looking for some sardines to munch on. I saw a few different labels and almost grabbed a few. And when I say "grabbed a few", I mean if you have an affinity for these types of fish, a 3.5-ounce can just doesn't cut it. Then the jackpot! Bar Harbor brand kippers, sardines, herring and mackerel were right there. AND in cans that were 6.7-ounces each. so by eating just one of these cans, you have the amount recommended for a healthy heart. Boy, was I in heaven.

I am going to give you the rundown in just a second but first I want to tell you that I was truly elated. Sounds weird, but those of you who have ever wanted that one particular snack and you will not leave the store until you find it, you know what I mean. My Dad, the second Yankee Chef, would have cleared off the shelves of these goodies. And I almost did! I took 3 cans of each, just in case Armageddon was coming in the next week. Without spilling the beans until you read more below, these were the best I have ever had the opportunity to eat, and I have eaten many MANY pounds in my lifetime.





Wild Herring Fillets in Cabernet Wine Sauce
 

Although I don't generally eat anything with liquor, I had to try these. And am I glad I did. They are perfect!! I would never had thought of combining Cabernet with herring but the combination is out of this world. For those of you who have that 'upper class taste' and still think herring is below you, you haven't tried these beauties yet. With a dab of sweetness from tomato and a splash of red wine, you will be sitting down and emptying this can of goodness post-haste.

Wild Herring Fillets in Stone-ground Mustard Sauce
 

Definitely NOT my fathers can of fish!...although I dearly wish he was here to try these. I grew us eating herring and sardines in mustard sauce, but it was always either bright yellow and drippy mustard that splattered onto whatever I was wearing, Either that or the mustard had congealed so much that it resembled paste. Don't get me wrong, I still thought they were the cat's meow, but Bar Harbor herring was spot on with their redefined, stone ground mustard preparation. The perfect harmony to the perfect tune. And they use Raye's Stone-ground Mustard, another Maine company right from Eastport, the home of sardine manufacturing from so long ago,. Stone ground is the only way to go for these fish, delightfully cutting into the oily fish for a clean and tasty finish.

Wild Herring Fillets in Tomato Basil Sauce
Tell me these don't look delicious!
 

Anyone that knows me knows that I am a glutton for basil. And the sauce that surrounds these sustainable herrings is spiced just enough so that the glorious taste of herring isn't lost in the sweet taste of tomato and basil. I could do so much with these beauties but for now, right out of the can for me. Hey Bar Harbor Foods! You're killin' it!(At least that is what I think the youth of today says when something good happens)

Skinless, Boneless Smoked Sardine Fillets in Maple Syrup
You can see the maple permeating into the fish....sooo good!
 

Fried clams and lobster have always been my favorite seafood, bar none........until now! Whoever came up with the idea of combining the sweet goodness of New England, that is maple, and slathering it onto sardines ought to have a Holiday named after them. Not only are the heads cut off, but to skin, bone AND smoke sardines before packing with an ancient Yankee sweetener is a concept long in the making. And Bar Harbor did it. Perfect, absolutely perfect!

Skinless, Boneless Smoked Sardine Fillets
I couldn't get over the smoky flavor found in this can
 

For those of you who want to take baby steps when dining on sardines for the first time, I highly recommend this product. You can truly taste every "glorious bit".(someone made that phrase famous, but for the life of me I can't remember who) Gently wood smoked and a pinch of salt is all that is in this plump can of sardines. Again, I am referring to eating these straight from the can, but it would be equally delicious added to any pizza or salad you desire. Much, MUCH tastier than anchovies.

Wild Herring Fillets Seasoned with Cracked Pepper
 

"Ah..sweet mystery of life at last I've found you.....". This was one of my Dad's favorite songs and indeed one of mine, by that incomparable tenor, Mario Lanza. And that song immediately came to mind when I 'cracked' open that can of herring. Yeah, I am no good at puns either but with cracked pepper permeating every fillet, as it does in many of my recipes, I adored this morsel. With no added oil and the right amount of spicy, crunchy pepper, it is a must for all sardine aficionados.  Because I love the taste of cracked black pepper, I sprinkle just a tad more on, but they really are perfectly seasoned for you as is.

And ending with what is the ultimate smoked fish:

All Natural Smoked Wild Kippers
Now THAT'S a fillet!!!
 

Smoked with oak, these fish truly made me think of our ancestors, but without all the work. Savory, smoky and simply appetizing, you really do have to buy a can of these. Not only are these the 'bomb'(again, apologies for trying to act like a teen again)but they, and all the above products, are canned in a BPA free can..

There! I have given you the rundown on what I believe is the best of the best of the Atlantic ocean. I will tell you up front and honestly, I am in no way compensated for my opinion, nor have I been nudged to promote these products. They have not asked me to do anything in the way of promoting these delicious canned fish and even if they did, I would have not taken one red cent from them. It was my entire pleasure and now can rest comfortably knowing exactly where they are in the supermarket.

Now that the pictures are taken, and with may open cans in front of me, guess what is next on my agenda? I am not even going to reach for that box of crackers, just a fork and a chair, 'Nuff said.....

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Maine First.....Well, kind of...






 By now everyone has heard of the story of Hanson Gregory, a 19th century Maine ship captain who first "invented" the doughnut(donut), and this is partially true. It was also during the 19th century that the Dutch were making 'olykoeks', literally meaning 'oily cakes'. At the time, they were just gobs of sweetened dough fried in pork fat, hence the name. They lacked the familiar hole in the center, and that is where our Maine's own Mr. Gregory comes in.
                                              
     It was believed for many decades that he 'stabbed' his circular fried dough on the ships wheel so that he could eat and steer his ship at the same time. Another story goes that he purposely punctured this pastry so that the uncooked middle wouldn't have to be eaten around. But about 50 years after either of these incidents were supposed to have happened, Hanson Gregory gave an interview with the Boston Post. Captain Gregory admitted that he, indeed, was the first to give the donut a hole, but he had done so with the "top of a round tin pepper box" on purpose so that the middle would cook as well as the rest of the donut. He went on to exclaim that this was "the first doughnut hole ever seen by mortal eyes."




Capt. Gregory-Courtesy of the Camden Public Library(Maine)



A few years later, during the beginning of World War I, the Salvation Army began stationing "Doughnut Lassies"(a volunteer corps of women) in France to hand out doughnuts to American soldiers.
Thank you to the Salvation Army

     By 1938, the Salvation Army established National Doughnut Day in commemoration of these Doughnut Lassies and the work they did. The first Friday of June was selected for this "holiday" and was of tremendous benefit to the poor and homeless during the Great Depression.

     Not nearly as oily as the original, and not to fret about the middle of these donuts being uncooked, the following donut recipes will certainly bring out the days of yesteryear when our parents took the time to actually make a breakfast or treat for their family. I remember, well, the days of homemade baking and candy making, not going to the supermarket nearly as much then as now for a fix to our sweet tooth.

 

     Notice how I have varied the spelling of donut/doughnut throughout this post? Although I truly believe the correct spelling of this treat to be donut, there will be skeptics out there who will disagree, so I can please everyone all the time...........

 
Snowbound Gingerbread Donuts


Although I love my Dad's cake donuts as he made them and that I added to my cookbook, a couple of things popped out at me when I revised the recipe. I reduced the amounts for less 'abundant' families and substituted melted butter instead of oil. I think you will love these warmly spiced donuts and urge you to prepare them the night without the glaze or dusting. Slightly warm them before glazing or dusting.

 

1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
Large pinch ground cloves
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
Butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray, if using
Vegetable oil for frying

White Glaze, recipe below

Cinnamon Sugar, recipe below

 

In a large bowl, combine first 8 ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining 4 ingredients well. Pour the liquid to the dry and stir until well combined. Cover with film wrap and place in refrigerator while heating at least 2 inches of oil in a large, sturdy pot to 350-degrees F over medium heat.

Remove the donut batter from refrigerator and turn onto a well floured work surface. Knead for about a minute, or until the dough is no longer sticking to the work surface or your hands. Roll out to about an inch thick. With a donut cutter or a 3-4-inch rim of a cup or glass, cut out donuts, dipping the rim or cutter into flour frequently. If you are using anything but a donut cutter, take the screw cap off a soft drink bottle, dip in flour often and press in the middle of each donut. Simply pop out donut hole between each cutting.

Brush off excess flour and gently add donuts to the heated oil, a couple at a time, remembering to give yourself a few minutes between cooking for the oil to reheat back to temperature. Cook 2-3 minutes per side or until nicely browned all over. Transfer to a rack that has been placed over a baking pan lined with paper towels. Let cool for 10 minutes before dunking in glaze on both sides, further cooling on rack for the glaze to harden. If dusting with cinnamon sugar, spray each donut with butter-flavored cooking spray on both sides before tossing to coat.

To make White Glaze, simply whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar with 1/4 cup water.

To make Cinnamon Sugar, simply blend 1 cup sugar with 2 teaspoons cinnamon.

Makes about 8 donuts

 

 

Soft and Crunchy Blueberry Donuts



If you would like to use fresh or frozen blueberries in this recipe, simply substitute one cup of blueberries for the preserves listed below. Either way, these classic New England cake donuts are bursting with blueberry flavor like none you have ever had. A thin, crispy exterior hiding the softness of the donut 'flesh' results in a remarkable texture that only a homemade donut can give you.

1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 cup prepared blueberry preserves or jam
1 1/2 teaspoons blueberry flavoring or extract, optional *
Vegetable oil
Butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray, if using

White Glaze, recipe under Gingerbread Donuts

Cinnamon Sugar, recipe under Gingerbread Donuts

 

In a large bowl, combine first 6 ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together the next 3 ingredients well. Pour the liquid to the dry and stir until well combined. Fold in the preserves and flavoring. Cover with film wrap and place in refrigerator while heating 2 inches oil in a large, sturdy pot to 350-degrees F over medium heat.

Remove the donut batter from refrigerator and turn onto a well floured work surface. Knead for about 10-15 seconds, or until the dough is no longer sticking to the work surface or your hands. Roll out to about an inch thick. With a donut cutter or a 3-4-inch rim of a cup or glass, cut out donuts, dipping the rim or cutter into flour frequently. If you are using anything but a donut cutter, take the screw cap off a soft drink bottle, dip in flour often and press in the middle of each donut. Simply pop out donut hole between each cutting.

Brush off excess flour and gently add donuts to the heated oil. Cook 2-3 minutes per side or until nicely browned all over, remembering to allow oil to come back to temperature for a minute or two between each batch. Transfer to a rack that has been placed over a baking pan lined with paper towels. Let cool for 10 minutes before dunking in glaze on both sides, continuing to cool on rack for the glaze to harden. If dusting with cinnamon sugar, spray each donut with butter-flavored cooking spray on both sides before tossing to coat.


 

* Although you can make these donuts with the extra flavoring, I highly recommend using it. Without it, certainly the donuts have the flavor of blueberries, but just not enough for me. If you can't find it in your local supermarket, the two best flavorings I have found and used can be found online. Olive Nation has the best and most economical. You can buy a 4 ounce bottle for $10 or an 8-ounce bottle for $12. It takes 6 teaspoons per ounce. Brewer's Yeast also has a great blueberry flavoring, selling it online at $4 for 4-ounces.

 

 

Sweet Peach Sticks


These yummy treats are a great snack for dipping in hot cocoa, following with a cold glass of milk or setting in front of the kids while they are watching Saturday morning cartoons(or do children still do that?) Regardless, use other fruits as desired, pears, apples or even mashed bananas.

1 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
10 ounces(3/4 of a 15-ounce can)sliced peaches in syrup
Vegetable oil for frying
Butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray, if using

Cinnamon Sugar, recipe under Gingerbread Donuts

 

In a bowl, add the peaches and all of the syrup. Mash with a fork or pulse in a blender or food processor until peaches are cut into very small bits; set aside. In a large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together the next 2 ingredients well. Pour the liquid to the dry and stir until well combined. Fold in the prepared peaches. Cover with film wrap and place in refrigerator while heating 2 inches oil in a large, sturdy pot to 350-degrees F over medium heat.

Remove the batter from refrigerator and turn onto a well floured work surface. Knead for about 10-15 seconds, or until the dough is no longer sticking to the work surface or your hands. Roll out to about an inch thick, in a rectangular form, and about 12-inches by 6-inches. With a floured pizza cutter or sharp, non-serrated knife, cut strips of dough 6-inches long.

Carefully add sticks to the heated oil 4-5 at a time. Cook 2-3 minutes per side or until nicely browned all over, remembering to allow the oil to come back to temperature between cooking. Transfer to a rack that has been placed over a baking pan lined with paper towels. Let cool for 10 minutes. Lightly spray all sides of sticks with nonstick cooking spray and dip in sugar mixture to evenly coat.



 

Makes about 20 sticks

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Something So Simple............





.....yet so enticing! What can a person say about biscuits that already isn't known, with regards to their place in the culinary scheme of a full laden dinner table. The thought of biscuits fresh out of the oven is akin to the aroma of freshly baked bread. I remember vivdly my father pulling his chair up to the table with a couple of freshly baked biscuits and a small bowl of molassses, creating a fine line of sticky brown syrup from the plate to his belly and on up to his chin. At times, that was the only breakfast he had, and many times, that was all that was needed. Slightly crumbly on the outside, but milky white and moist on the inside, these discs of goodness were all my parents served at their restaurants with all entrees.




    I well remember the work involved when, it seemed, my mother was on a never ending battle to keep up with the demand at the restaurants. The stress she must have faced making batch upon batch of these, along with the scowl and attitude I gave her everytime she had to come over to my dishwashing sink in order to wash the dough from her hands. She never said a cross word to this 14 year old though, preferring instead to give me a look of "Get over it", while leaving those hated little white, slippery balls of white dough lining the sink and faucet handles. But upon reflection, she was making something that all our customers enjoyed and it was one of the perks that kept them coming back(along with the free relish tray that always graced the tables).

The trick to a perfect biscuit can be argued again and again, but one or two things will never change however. Use all purpose flour for the high gluten and handle the dough as little as possible. By minimal handling, you won't develope the gluten further, ending in a tough biscuit.

Everything should be cold as well. The warmer the fat in a biscuit recipe gets, the stickier the dough will be when handling.

And one more thing that I have found moderately successful. When cutting biscuits, try not to twist your cutter. Straight down, shake a little and that's it. Some say that by twisting, you actually seal in the sides, preventing them from rising. Although I have noticed a slight increase in height, I can't definatetively state that this is the reason, but why take a chance?

Let me give you some of the old time biscuit recipes that have been tried and are true. I could go on and on about other types of biscuits, Drop Biscuits for example, but then there wouldn't be anytime to cook!



 

Light and Fluffy Baking Powder Biscuits






This is a basic biscuit recipe that doesn't limit itself to any type. Simple and delicious, use this recipe as a base for add-ins, such as cheese, diced meat, herbs and spices......whatever your heart desires. As for the leftover scraps of dough after cutting the initial biscuits? Simply gather up, quickly knead into one mass, roll out and continue cutting, just keep the kneading to a minimum.


2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening
3/4 cup cold milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350-degrees f. In a large bowl, blend together flour, baking powder and salt. Add the vegetable shortening and crush with your fingertips, pastry knife or a fork until the shortening resembles little pebbles. Stir in the milk until just combined. Turn out onto floured work surface and knead for only a minute, using extra flour if needed. Roll dough to an inch thick, or thicker if desired. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cookie cutter or the rim of a glass, constantly dipping in extra flour. Place biscuits onto ungreased baking pan. If you would like crispy biscuits on all edges, place these with an inch separation. Otherwise, snuggle them up close to one another. Brush the tops with melted butter and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove from oven, let cool slightly and transfer to serving dish.

 

Makes about 8 biscuits

 

Sweet Biscuits

These biscuits are the perfect vehicle for shortcakes. With the tangy, slightly sweet flavor of this recipe, I eat these all by themselves or slathered with more sweetness in the way of jellies, jams or preserves.



2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg, beaten
1 cup cold, plain yogurt
1/4 cup honey
Milk to brush onto tops

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. In a large bowl, blend together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add butter and crush with your fingertips, pastry knife or a fork until the shortening resembles little pebbles. Stir in the egg, yogurt and honey until just combined. Turn out onto floured work surface and knead for only a minute, using extra flour if needed. Roll dough to an inch thick, or thicker if desired. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cookie cutter or the rim of a glass, constantly dipping in extra flour. Place biscuits onto ungreased baking pan. If you would like crispy biscuits on all edges, place these with an inch separation. Otherwise, snuggle them up close to one another. Brush the tops with milk and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove from oven, let cool slightly and transfer to serving dish.


 

Buttermilk Biscuits

This recipe is a classic but I have a shortcut(both financially and 'in a pinch' kind of way) that was used by the first and second Yankee Chefs many times over. Using whole milk, put a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar of lemon juice into a cup of milk. Let it sit for at least an hour or do as my father did and let it sit overnight at room temperature. By morning, the milk will have curdles quite well. Add this to your recipe below and you will have one flaky, tasty biscuit that is thoughtful of our foremothers.


 

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. In a large bowl, blend together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the vegetable shortening and crush with your fingertips, pastry knife or a fork until the shortening resembles little pebbles. Stir in the buttermilk until just combined. Turn out onto floured work surface and knead for only a minute, using extra flour if needed. Roll dough to an inch thick, or thicker if desired. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cookie cutter or the rim of a glass, constantly dipping in extra flour. Place biscuits onto ungreased baking pan. If you would like crispy biscuits on all edges, place these with an inch separation. Otherwise, snuggle them up close to one another. Brush the tops with melted butter and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove from oven, let cool slightly and transfer to serving dish.


 

 
Bakewell Cream Biscuits




Words can't describe the memories that come with this recipe below. I, and my parents, have been making these biscuits for decades, and for good reason. They are exceptional. We have not altered the recipe at all, being the same that is on the side of the Bakewell Cream can itself.  So why change a good thing? My father and his father before him, baked these biscuits as directed below, but if you feel more comfortable, preheat your oven to 350-degrees F and bake 10-12 minutes. And if you can't find Bakewell Cream on your store shelves, look online. It is Maine product, but shouldn't be limited as such but can be found at The New England Cupboard.



4 cups flour
4 teaspoons Bakewell Cream
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine, cold(or use shortening)
1 1/2 cups cold milk

Preheat oven to 475-degrees F. In a large bowl, blend together flour, Bakewell Cream, baking soda and salt. Add butter and crush with your fingertips, pastry knife or a fork until the shortening resembles little pebbles. Stir in milk until just combined. Turn out onto floured work surface and knead for only a minute, using extra flour if needed. Roll dough to an inch thick, or thicker if desired. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cookie cutter or the rim of a glass, constantly dipping in extra flour. Place biscuits onto ungreased baking pan. If you would like crispy biscuits on all edges, place these with an inch separation. Otherwise, snuggle them up close to one another. Brush the tops with melted butter and bake for 5 minutes. Turn off oven to continue baking an additional 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove from oven, let cool slightly and transfer to serving dish.

Makes about 16 biscuits