Tuesday, December 23, 2014


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


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