Butter / Egg Usage – September 2016

8 September 2016 – Rice Krispie Treats – 3 Tbs – regular plain old rice krispie treats that I love.

9 September 2016 – Brickle Bits of Snicks – 8 Tbs / 2 large eggs – for Chad.

dd_156222 September 2016 – Rice Krispie Treats with brown butter, vanilla, and sea salt – 4 Tbs

23 September 2016 – Apple Cake – 2 large eggs

Sad, sad month of baking/cooking. Sigh. Still damn hot outside. That is our life, but I will be wearing shorts a lot longer than most of you. Just saying.

Very Special Rice Krispie Treats

I defy anyone to not like a home-made rice krispie treat. They are great, drop dead simple, and make people happy. Those of us who bake/cook do it to make people in our lives happy. These also make me happy – so a total score!dd_1562

I had an accident once with rice krispie treats. It was probably common enough, but it made for a major advancement in my recipe. I had put my unsalted butter in a sauce pan to melt before adding the (mini) marshmallows and was not paying attention. Unbeknowst to me, I had created a light version of brown butter but went ahead with the recipe – this, people, is a game changer. No shit. Game Changer. It gives the treats a nuttiness that is simply amazing.

So then I started to think what else could I do to make these simple treat special? Well, let’s see – marshmallows are vanilla flavored so why not a bit of vanilla extract while we’re doing this – gild that damn lily. Then I think I had one of the best thoughts lately (maybe ever). What does sweet food love more than salt? Um, nothing. So after the treats were in the pan, I sprinkled them with Maldon salt. Holy Hell. Yup.

So here are the particulars … based on memory because I just kind of winged it.

4 Tbs unsalted butter
10 oz-ish bag of mini marshmallows
1 Tbs vanilla extract (the really stuff, please)
5 cups rice cereal (snap, crackle, and pop, stuff – Publix brand works really well)
2 tsp Maldon salt – or your choice of sea salt, something flaky though

Spray a 9 x 13 inch glass pan with cooking spray and set aside. Melt butter in a light colored sauce pan that way you can see when it starts to get just a bit brown. Add the marshmallows and stir to start melting. When you feel in the mood add in the vanilla. Once marshmallows are melted, stir in the rice cereal and coat with marshmallows.

Dump marshmallow mixture into prepared pan and using wet hands smooth it into an even layer. Sprinkle the pan with Maldon salt.

Then – eat for breakfast because you know all the cool kids are doing it.

Apple Cake

It is officially Autumn now – so says the calendar, but where we live that means basically, nothing. Yep nothing. Except the likelihood of a hurricane. No really, hurricanes are most likely to hit in our area in September or October. Thankfully since 2005, we’ve been very fortunate. All that said, it is still hotter than blazes here and what is worse we have had no rain to cool off the afternoons.

So I am trying to force the issue with apple cake. Force the fall to get here sooner by sheer force of will. Apples and cinnamon – I think that equals fall, at least it does for me.

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2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1 2/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbs canola oil
1 Tbs vanilla
6 cups peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples (3 apples)

Frosting*
4 ozs cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. This is a thing I do with dry ingredients. It is kind of habit.

In a large bowl, mix together sugar, eggs, applesauce, canola oil, and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture. Fold in apples.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30 – 40 minutes, roatating the pan half the way through, until a toothpick comes out clean.

For Frosting: In a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, salt and vanilla until smooth. Sift in confectioner’s sugar, but add more confectioner’s sugar as needed. Spread over completely cooled cake.

* I did not make the frosting because I wanted to try the cake on its own first. We decided that it was really good with no frosting. Maybe next time I will bake the cake, cool, and turn it out and cut in half and frost half and leave the other plain.

I have a bundt pan problem. There I said it.

I love a good pound cake. I have quite a few favorites in this category: a sour cream one, a cream cheese one, a lemon buttermilk one. Yes, I just could go on and on, I am Southern after all.

I think pound cake is a favorite for me because this is one of the few desserts the the MotH* likes. It is simple, slightly sweet, but not too sweet, and I think that appeals to him. It does not hurt that the Boy is a big fan too, as am I.

Funny, my mom used to make pound cake (or as my paternal grandmother would call plain cake)** and toast it in the toaster oven and then smear it with peanut butter. Not something I would do, no matter how much I love some peanut butter, but I understand the idea. Crunchy cake with goopy peanut butter. To each her own.

So in the next few posts, I’ll share my favorite pound cake recipes and my favorite bundt pans as well. They really are, in my opinion, works of art. And the ones I order are all Made in America. Pretty cool, right? Yes, it is Nordic Wear and it is pretty damn cool.

My first non-traditional bundt pan is one that a great friend got for me ages ago – from William-Sonoma – which I could never had afforded at that time. Since my degrees were in Art History and I focused on 17th-century French Chateaus and 18th-century British Country Houses, I had a thing for the Fleur-de-lis.dd_1524 Living here lots of people mistake my fleur-de-lis thing for a support of New Orleans, and most of the time I do not bother to correct people and I do love New Orleans a lot. But the people that know me – really know me – understand the origin of this symbol for me. And my dearest friend bought this bundt pan for me – and shared her sour cream pound cake recipe with me. We are similar in that family recipes are very important and Southern Living magazine has produced some of our favorite things to make (see: Cranberry Relish).

*Man of the House.

** I have made my grandmother’s Plain Cake recipe as an adult and it was pretty much disappointing. Just not inspiring in the least. That said, she made the most amazing fried apple pies. Yes, this conversation will continue.

 

 

Brickle bits of Snicks

I think we all love the idea of a recipe that we can make with the things we have on hand. That said, it is so very annoying when you think you have something that you always have on hand – and then you don’t have it at all. Damn it.dd_img_0450-edit

I had that happen tonight. I was making Snicks for a good friend because I remember he liked them and I just knew I had everything. Crisco – check, butter – check, eggs – check, brickle – check, and the rest … sugar, flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, blah blah. Oh, holy crap – why do I not have ground cinnamon. I mean I looked everywhere in the pantry  and nada, nope, nothing. It cannot be a Snick without cinnamon. Thank goodness my dear mother-in-law lives around the corner and she bailed me out. Once again.

I guess I am not as good as putting things on the grocery list as I thought. Although cinnamon is typically one of those ingredients that I order from Penzey’s or the Spice House, but I can manage with grocery store cinnamon. Then I realized I needed to refill my supply of cream of tartar too, and hell, looking around the kitchen I need several other things. I think this just may be the pre-baking season clean up and restock.

8 Tbs of unsalted butter, softened
1/2 vegetable shortening, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup of brickle bits (Heath’s – it is in the baking aisle)*
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2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt over a piece of waxed paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and beat until incorporated. Add flour mixture in thirds and mix until just combined. Mix in brickle pieces.

Use a #40 disher to make cookies, rounding them in your hands before rolling them in the 2 tsp cinnamon and 1/3 cup of sugar sifted together. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 9-11 minutes**, turning half way through. Cool on the baking sheet for a minute and then remove to a cooling rack to cool.

Made 36 cookies.

* If you want this to be easy, one bag equals 1 1/3 cup of brickle pieces. I prefer a bit less so that is why I go for a scant one cup. Your call. But please do not try to store the brickle in the fridge – humidity and brickle does not go well together. I store mine in the pantry in a zip top bag and it has worked out well.

** 9 minutes worked perfectly for us.

Modification of a recipe from Cookie Madness.

 

Cous Cous Salad

Yep, I am so back to my vegetarian days with this recipe. I think that making the orange juice, white wine, butter sauce pasta makes me crave this too. So many similar ingredients and flavors. Although it is interesting that I have not sized this recipe down for just me and therefore I eat it for breakfast and/or lunch for about a week. Now, I use local pecans because the are just so sweet. I know I have written about this before but Renfroe’s pecans are … I am at a loss. They are stupidly, amazing, dumbly, good. I guess because I grew up with pecans from Georgia and did not understand how the season worked, nor how to store them in between that I have learned a lot. Since moving to Pensacola, I now know how local pecans work. It is a charmed world to have such amazing fresh pecans.  Once again – spoiled.

D&D_15561 cup orange juice
1/3 cup raisins or sultanas – I prefer sultanas, but will deal with raisins, easily.
1 red onion minced
1/2 cup toasted pecans (or walnuts), salted
3 scallions, diced
1 cup Cous Cous – (not israeli couscous – I have tried, but not my favorite)
Red wine vinegar
1 Tbs Canola oil

Heat orange juice over low heat until bubbly. Add raisins or sultanas and let simmer until raisins are soft. Heat a small saucepan with water to boil. Add red onions and boil for just a minute and a half. Remove from water into a bowl and cover with red wine vinegar to soak until you are finished with everything else.

Add Cous Cous to orange juice with Canola oil. Remove from heat and cover. Let stand until orange juice is absorbed.

Toast pecans in a skillet with some kosher salt until fragrant. Just about a minute on medium heat.  Dice scallions. Drain red onions. Fluff Cous Cous with a fork and add red onions, pecans, and scallions.

I think next time some blanched asparagus would be a great addition. Or maybe some thawed frozen artichoke hearts – just make it a bit more substantial.

I think this is my goal – to take the things I make over and over again and develop them further, to add another dimension to them. I already have a few ideas for this – may be great – may be an random failure, but it is worth a shot. At least to me.

Maybe some salty cheese. Will have to think about that.

Chicken Salad – one of my favorite things

I seem to get into a mood for chicken salad every so often. It really is kind of dead simple, but it takes, to my mind, a bit of finesse.

I poach the chicken breasts in just plain water. I could do it with salt, peppercorns, and a bay leaf or so, but if I do that I cannot share the chicken water with the pups. I would never deny them one of their favorite things – chicken water. It is amazing how fast they (or I should say Hood) realize what I am up to. I think it takes about a nano-second. Top it off with hard boiling some eggs and dogs just about lose their minds. It is kind of fun. To make your dogs so happy, by doing something that makes you happy too. I will not wax on about how I want another German Shepherd Dog at this point, but I really really do want another. He would never be Duke, but …. yep, I will just stop right now.

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No GSD will ever be better than my Big Dog. I miss you.

Back to chicken salad. I know you can make it with rotisserie chicken, but I am old school and like a poached chicken in this application. That along with a couple of hard boiled eggs*, a shallot, and some (peeled) celery. Of course Duke’s mayonnaise – a requirement in the South, a good pinch of salt and some pepper, and maybe a little lemon juice, just to brighten things up a bit. Then all you need is some fresh white bread spread with a little more Duke’s mayonnaise, and maybe another pinch of salt. That is amazing lunch.

MotH’s mom makes chicken salad with grapes and nuts and I do so love her for that, but I know the MotH and the Boy would just boycott that, even though it would be great for me. And it usually is – we share chicken salad and boiled collards. The boys just do not get it.

* The easiest way to make an excellent hard boiled egg that is still lovely (read: not green around the edge), is this: Put eggs in a pot, cover with about an inch of water and bring to a rocking boil. Then remove them from the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Let sit for 13 minutes and you really have just about the best boiled eggs there are – just cover with cold water and crack them a bit against the pot and then shell. There it is – just make sure you have at least a couple for your dogs.