Tag: food

Jam Cake!

For most of my life I heard about “Granny”. My Great-Grandmother. By all accounts she was an amazing cook, great seamstress and she was feisty! My Great-Grandfather was 27 years older than her and had come from a family of privilege in Georgia. My Great-Grandfather was “one of the most sought-after bachelors”. By all accounts he was a bit of player and drove a flashy “rubber-tired buggy” with a “trotting horse”. Today that might be compared to a little red corvette. Granny was a schoolmistress that came from a hard working, “good” family. In the 12 years they were married, prior to his death, they had 4 children and she was pregnant with the 5th when he passed. While the story is told of their love at first sight, I’m guessing there was a certain amount of satisfaction in catching the un-catchable.

In 1900 $18,690 would have been the equivalent of approximately $430,000 today. In 1900 that would have meant that you were wealthy. This is how much the savings passbook shows my great grand parents had in the their bank account when Granny started using it to write recipes. That is a lot of money for the time. While they lived a somewhat grand life with servants and a large plantation home, they also were very conscious of using what they could from their own land. They had crops such as watermelon and their own patch for growing fruits and vegetables. They also raised several different types of chickens and had milk, butter and cheese from their own cows.

A grandchild’s imagination can run wild and mine is no different. At first, I imagined my “feisty” Granny getting mad at Ab, my great grandfather’s nickname. Perhaps he had asked her to run ANOTHER errand to the bank on a day when she had sick children and chores to do on the Plantation. I can see her running into a friend and asking for her Watermelon Rind Preserves recipe. When she realized she has no paper, maybe she thought, “I’ll show him the value of his money!” and scratched out the recipe right there on the 4th page of the passbook. I say this because the recipe is quickly given. There is no list of ingredients and amounts, then instructions. It’s all on continuous sentence.

I sometimes fantasize that maybe she really didn’t have any paper and thought it would be “just one recipe”. However, it became her go to for writing recipes when she ran into friends. Eventually, the recipes did evolve and have a list of and amounts ingredients and instructions.

Today we don’t have passbooks and most of our recipes are shared via email, the Internet or pinterest. Having those recipes written in my grandmother’s handwriting is invaluable. As the years passed, after my Grandfather’s death, times got hard for my great-grandmother and her family. She was able to turn to her Brother in law for help and keep her family together, during the depression, World War II and a great cyclone. I still imagine that she would have been teaching us that the value of a rich family history has more value than today’s $430,000.

My favorite recipe was the Jam Cake. This is a traditional southern cake that came out of Tennessee or Kentucky, depending on what website you are looking at. I have searched high and low for a jam cake recipe that was made with wine instead of buttermilk. I’m not sure why Granny made the substitution, but it sure is good!

I’m giving it to you as written and then my version. How lucky was my Granny to be able to bake with such a limited recipe. I hope you enjoy it too.

 

Jam Cake!
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Jam Cake!
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Beat eggs and sugar together until light colored and ribbony.
  2. Sift flour and baking powder together.
  3. Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add to eggs and sugar.
  4. Slowly add flour & baking powder mix to butter/eggs mixture.
  5. Once flour is completely added, add spices and lastly wine. Blend until just combined.
  6. Pour into 8 or 9 inch cake pans that have been greased and floured. Bake at 350°F for 30 - 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  7. For frosting I make a cream cheese frosting and use a good store bought caramel sauce to make a caramel frosting. Divide the layers. I put an extra layer of jam in between cake layers with the frosting and then frost the whole cake.
  8. You can find my cream cheese frosting recipe in my May 8, 2015 post of Red Velvet cake.
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Winter’s Colorful Citrus

Winter knows how to hook you. That first nip of cold air gets you excited and all the sweaters come out. When you are sick of rain the snow starts and when you think you can’t handle the grey skies anymore, Peonies show up and the citrus is ripe for the picking.

The Peonies I had to find in NYC while looking at colleges for my daughter. They were a welcome sight on a slushy, grey street in Chelsea. The citrus, in the form Cara Cara oranges greeted me when I came home to Los Angeles. They were bursting with juice and practically leapt off their trees when I went out to pick them.

Cara Cara oranges are wonderfully sweet and have specks of dark red hinting of a relationship to blood oranges. You can juice them and cook with them. This year they were too sweet not to use in everything! First, I peeled, sliced and served them on a beautiful platter on their own. Delicious! Then I tried a variation on lemon curd. It is literally sunshine is a jar. You can use any way you would lemon curd or, like me, just eat with a spoon.


Cara Cara Orange Curd
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Cara Cara Orange Curd
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Bring the orange juice to a simmer in a small saucepan, over a medium high heat and reduce to 1/2 cup. Remove from heat and stir in zest. Cool to room temperature.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, egg yolks and sugar. Whisk in cooled juice mixture. Once combined, pour back into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it starts to thicken and it reaches a temperature of 180°. This should take 6 - 8 minutes.
  3. Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl and stir in butter, until it is completely melted. Cool completely and place plastic right on surface of curd, to prevent skin forming. Place in refrigerator until well chilled.
  4. Store in airtight in refrigerator for 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator, before use, if frozen.
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New Orleans Tastebud Tours

While I was in New Orleans, I had the pleasure of doing a walking tour of food and history.  We used a company called Tastebud Tours and they were great.  Here’s a little food and history lesson for you.

We met at Little Vic’s to start our tour. Lindel was our tour guide and she certainly knew her stuff! She is a native New Orleans who just happens to be ahi story teacher for her day job. It was great to listen to her tell us he history with such passion.

Muffuletino at Little Vic's.  They use a cabbala bread.
Muffuletino at Little Vic’s. They use a cabbala bread.

Little Vic’s was chosen for their muffuletino. It their version of a traditional muffuletta. These sandwiches are usually layered with mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham and provolone topped with an olive spread. Long story short the owner of Central Grocery, in New Orleans, noticed his patron struggling today the ingredients separately while balancing on a rate. They really didn’t have time to relax since they had to get back to work. He suggested slicing the bread open and making a sandwich. The thick braid bread they used proved hard to bite into as a sandwich. The Grocer created a new bread, called muffuletta that had the flavor they were used to but a softer consistency. The olive sale was key because they would often let the sandwich sit in the sun to warm the cheese. A mayonnaise based dressing would spoil but the olive spread just gets better with the heat.
We had a quick history lesson on the difference between a Cajun and Creole. Cajuns are Acadians. They descended from the French settlers. With all the different accents, it got boiled down to Cajun. The Creoles were more descendant from the Spanish settlers and there was a great Caribbean influence, as well.

Jambalaya!
Jambalaya!

Next we were off to The Coffee Pot for some authentic jambalaya. It is important to note that the super spicy food often associated with New Orleans cuisine, is not necessarily an accurate representation of what really happens there. The heat is much more subtle and should hit your mouth just at the back of your tongue. The recipe I shared in my previous post I’d from Paul Prudhomme and is a little spicier. It is tomato based.
Next we tried Gumbo. Gumbo originated as an African soup that was cooked up by the slaves in New Orleans. On their day off they would go up to Congo Square to congregate culturally. This is where jazz started, too. Typically, they would bring what they had been given by their owners/employers to throw into the mix. While there are many versions. The African version uses okra as a thickener. We tried both a tomato base and fish based. I personally liked the tomato base better but they are equally great.
We made or way to Johnny’s for Po’ Boys. These sandwiches are traditionally beef,but are a pretty simply composed submarine sandwich. They get there name from a sandwich shop that was owned by two men that used to be streetcar conductors. When the streetcar conductors went on strike in 1929, the former colleagues would come in to the shop and asked if they had a free sandwich for a “poor boy”. Withe dialect in New Orleans it wasn’t long before it was shortened. We were served traditional roast beef Po’ Boys. They were delicious! The line out the door is clearly an indicator of the popularity and reputation of Johnny’s.

Fun at Cafe Beignet!
Fun at Cafe Beignet!

Our last stop was at Cafe Beignet, just off Bourbon Street for just that, beignets!! They were delicious.
I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of New Orleans. I did!!!!

Saint Patrick’s Cupcakes!!!!!

St. Patrick’s Day is this week. I’m not much of a drinker or a bar hopper. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to enjoy the party. Many years ago, I developed a recipe for and Irish Car Bomb cupcake. The chocolate cupcake is enhanced with Guinness Stout. The beer really seems to pump up the chocolate taste to another level. The frosting is an Irish Crème liqueur based frosting. Can you say yum? I hope you enjoy these cupcakes as much as I did creating them.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! May the luck of the Irish be with you!

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Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups supefine sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup, or more, Guinness Stout, for after baking

Preheat oven to 350

Cream together butter and sugar, until fluffy

Add egg yolks, one add at a time, blending after each

Beat egg whites until stiff

In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients

Blend dry ingredients, by thirds, into butter/egg mixture, alternating with milk

When well blended add vanilla

Fold in egg whites until just incorporated

Scoop batter into greased and floured muffin tins

Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean

Remove from oven and while cakes are still hot poke holes int each cupcake and spoon 1 Tablespoon of stout into each cupcake.  Let cool in pan 10 minutes then turn out to cool completely

Frost with Irish Creme Frosting and serve

Irish Creme Frosting

  • Servings: 24 cupcakes
  • Print

  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup Irish Creme Liqueur

Cream Butter thoroughly and gradually add in powdered sugar

add in vanilla and salt

add liqueur one tablespoon at a time until blended thoroughly.  You may need to add a little more powdered sugar to get consistency right.

I make a reduction of Irish Whiskey and sugar then drizzle over the top of frosted cupcakes (optional)

Valentine’s Day – Decadence light

Valentines Day is coming and I would like to welcome you to stay home for dinner. There are a lot of different ways you can go when thinking about your menu. Some would say do all your most rich and decadent recipes. Others would tell you to make sure and have as many aphrodisiacs as you can. Still others would say cook what you know and do it well. Why not try and incorporate all of the above.

Let’s explore the concept of rich and decadent. Decadence is great and rich is even better but I don’t think I would build a whole meal around that. Let’s face it Valentines Day is suppose to incite love and intimacy. Think back, how intimate did you feel at the end of a heavy rich meal? Yep, you got it. So maybe we want to feature just one recipe that is rich & decadent. Dessert is always a good choice. Because it is at the end of the meal you won’t necessarily be tempted to over indulge.

For the rest of meal it is my humble opinion that you err on the side of lighter and cook what you know. So let’s delve into what I consider basics. These are the recipes that every cook should have in their repertoire. Food & Wine recently posted their list and it included roast chicken, risotto, and apple pie. You will eventually have you own list but I propose the following recipes be included. Have a great soup, a great cookie, and a great wow factor recipe. The wow factor is that one recipe you know people go crazy for, every time. It doesn’t have to be a hard, time intensive recipe just one you always get the reaction for. We’ll talk more about that in a future post.

Let’s start to build our Valentines Day menu. I love the idea of being cozy by the fire and sipping a soup and eating a sandwich. What is your favorite soup and sandwich combination? I love vegetable puree soups. You can make them with out cream and they can still have a rich quality. Even though soups are very popular, they still give the impression of being labor intensive and therefore, wow factor. Here is an amazing recipe for broccoli soup that is really easy to prepare but your guest will think it took hours.

 Broccoli Soup

4 cups of good quality (or homemade) chicken stock

2 cups water

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2 pounds (about 12 cups) of broccoli crowns, trimmed and chopped

¼ pepper salt

¼ teaspoon white pepper

1 14-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed

In a large saucepan bring stock and water to a boil.

Add the broccoli; make sure the broccoli is completely covered. You can add more water if necessary.

Cook until tender. It usually takes about 8 minutes but keep an eye on it.

While your broccoli is cooking, puree the rinsed cannellini beans. You can use a blender or food processor. Set aside.

When broccoli is cooked, start pureeing in batches, with a little of the liquid at a time. Special note here: hot liquid expands and can be volatile. Pay attention to what your appliance recommends for maximum hot fill line.

Once you have pureed all the broccoli return it to the pan and whisk together with remaining liquid. Bring back to a boil.

Reduce heat and whisk in pureed cannellini beans.

Season with Salt & Pepper, adjust as desired

Serve immediately

This will serve about 6 people a good size portion

Of course you have to have a great sandwich to go with it. You can do a grilled cheese or pick your favorite. It’s up to you. You find that recipe and I will take care of dessert.

I love chocolate! It is the most sensuous of foods and of course it is an aphrodisiac. This recipe combines the richness of a chocolate brownie and the memory inducing taste of s’mores. I love serving this “deconstructed” but you can put it all together to make it yours, too.

S’mores Brownies

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 ounces unsweetened bakers chocolate

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cup flourIMG_2388_2

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ chopped pecans (optional)

Melt together the butter and chocolate, let cool slightly

Mix the eggs and sugar together, until well blended

Temper egg mixture with chocolate and then blend mixtures together, well

Gradually add in flour, while mixing

Add in Vanilla then fold in nuts

Pour into a greased and floured pan. I used muffin tins but you could use a bread pan. (You can use muffin liners if so desired)

Bake in a low oven, 275 for 35-40 minutes. It will still be slightly “wet” when it comes out but will settle.

Cut marshmallows in half and place across the top of either each muffin or the loaf. You can brown the marshmallow under a broiler or with a kitchen torch. Serve over graham cracker crumbs and a garnish with a Hershey miniature.

I love this dessert. It is whimsical and decadent but not to rich. Don’t forget the wine or champagne and let’s raise a glass to love. Happy Valentines Day!

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