Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Chocolate Sponge Cake Roll with Peppermint Whip Cream

Ever since blogger upgraded their site, I've had a hard time blogging--it's pretty different from the old format. That, coupled with Pinterest, has left me pinning favorite recipes and putting my changes in the comment field rather than updating everything here. And, the ease of finding new recipes and pinning them for later means that I'll never try all my "Recipes to try" pins, but if you do, could you let me know how they turn out?

This is my favorite holiday dish. I posted that I was making it on Facebook and had a few people ask for the recipe. It's light, delicious, and the presentation is easy and festive. A small Christmas miracle?

Chocolate Sponge Cake Roll
Mary Clyde

4 eggs, separated
1 c sugar
1 t vanilla
3 T water
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
3/4 c flour
1/3 c cocoa
1/2 c (approx) powdered sugar

2 c whipping cream
1 c crushed candy canes or peppermints (you want these pretty fine with a lot of candy cane dust because that will help sweeten the whip cream)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line parchment or wax paper on a 10-15 inch cookie sheet with a 1-inch ridge (also known as a jelly roll pan) and lightly grease

Blend egg yolks and vanilla in electric mixer at high speed until yolks are thick and lemon colored. Add water and mix. Set aside.

In another bowl, stir together baking powder, salt, cocoa, and flour. Add half of mixture with yolks and mix. Set aside.

In another bowl using clean dry beaters blend egg whites until soft peaks form gradually blending in the sugar until glossy peaks form. Fold in yolk mixture and flour mixture just until blended.

Pour onto cookie sheet, making batter even and smooth.

Bake for 10-20 minutes or until top springs back when gently touched.

Sprinkle top with powdered sugar. Remove wax paper and gently roll cake into a loose cylinder. Cover rolled up cake with clean dish towel and let cool (approximately 2-3 hours).

Whip whipping cream to desired consistency (I like it a little firmer than usual because it can ooze out of the cake if it isn't). Add crushed candy canes. Taste whip cream--sometimes, I find I need to add 1-2 T powdered sugar.

Unroll cake, spread with filling, then reroll cake in plastic wrap. The directions say to refrigerate overnight. I've gotten away with refrigrating for a couple hours. The key is to cut slices with a knife warmed in really hot water. Take the knife out of the water, wipe it dry, cut a slice. Repeat (you should have about 12 slices).

To be extra fancy make a chocolate ganache to drizzle over the cake.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Nate's burger tips

The nice thing about being married to Nate is that he only has a handful of recipes, but he thoroughly researchs them to find out how to make things really well.

Here are some of his burger tips:
2. DON'T OVERWORK. Ground beef is not Play-Doh. The more you handle it, the denser and more rubbery it will become when cooked. After you've seasoned the meat, divide it into individual portions and, with lightly cupped hands, shape into patties. As soon as the patties hold together, stop!
3. DON'T PRESS. Flip the burgers just once-after they've developed deep brown grill marks-and don't be tempted to press on them. Pressing down on the burgers as they cook squeezes out the flavorful juices, which end up in your grill (causing flare-ups) instead of in your burgers.
Making a shallow indentation in the center of the patty is the first step toward a great burger.
The collagen, or connective tissue, in ground meat shrinks when heated. This causes the bottom and sides of the meat to tighten like a belt, which forces the surface of the burger to expand. To prevent a bubble burger, press a 1/4-inch divot, or indentation, in the center of each patty. The collagen will still tighten, but the indented meat won't bulge.
http://l3.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/AC.M7B7yyP.l7W.l.vc6Fw--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7cT04NTt3PTMxMA--/http:/media.zenfs.com/en-US/blogs/partner/470_2356818.0Flat Patties
If you start with a flat burger patty...
http://l1.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/5iPdVKNcCazAEz5h5Aj1KA--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7cT04NTt3PTMxMA--/http:/media.zenfs.com/en-US/blogs/partner/470_2356820.0Bulging Burgers
...you'll end up with a bulging burger like this one.
http://l2.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/lgjTGh37CjJakcENWU0bIg--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7cT04NTt3PTMxMA--/http:/media.zenfs.com/en-US/blogs/partner/470_2356826.0Divoted Patties
Pressing a small divot into the center of each patty...
http://l2.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/Wj1QzCXHh1ZewJlxt29BfQ--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7cT04NTt3PTMxMA--/http:/media.zenfs.com/en-US/blogs/partner/470_2356830.0Flat Burgers
...keeps the burgers from bulging. The result? Perfect burgers.
http://l1.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/eZGtB2.lsWdMz9H4u.3ODA--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7cT04NTt3PTMxMA--/http:/media.zenfs.com/en-US/blogs/partner/470_2356840.0Scrape Clean
Heat your grill up before cleaning it with a sturdy grill brush. Any residual debris will come off hot grates much easier than cool ones.
http://l2.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/VBm8.qXJwXWouCJaprMhnQ--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7cT04NTt3PTMxMA--/http:/media.zenfs.com/en-US/blogs/partner/470_2356842.0Slick Down and Build Up Seasoning
Grab a wad of paper towels with a pair of long-handled tongs and dip them in a bowl of vegetable oil. When the towels have absorbed the oil, run them over the cleaned grill grate. The oil will burn off at first. Continue to dip the towels into oil and slick down the grate; it will become "nonstick." When the grate turns black and glossy, your grill is good to go.

Southern Cast Iron Biscuits

by Nate
A recipe from an old woman who grew up in Mulberry, Florida.  She learned cooking from her mother, grandmother, and her “nanny” which was a term used for black housekeepers who lived with rich white families and worked for room & board.  According to Sister Johns, this was a common practice for older black women who had no family to take care of them.  I asked her once if nannies were slaves, she just chuckled at me and tactfully changed the topic.

Sister Johns would cook for the missionaries once a week even though she must have been in her late 70s.  

Her cooking was the stuff of legends in the mission.  These biscuits were a staple at her table.  Apparently, Sister Johns passed away several years ago. I got the recipe from a sister missionary that was in my zone at the same time who admitted to modernizing the recipe (added microwave steps where you are supposed to set everything out hours ahead of time so it gets room temperature). 
Makes 15-18, cooked in 2 or 3 batches

Dry Ingredients
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 /12 teaspoons sugar
Wet Ingredients
  • Two blocks of butter (softened, 16 oz)
  • Approximately 1.5 cups of whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
·         Dry ingredients in a bowl.
·         Soften butter in microwave, but not completely melted.
·         Set aside 2 tablespoons of softened butter
·         Mix remaining softened butter into dry ingredients until the mixture is small crumbles.
·         Warm milk slightly in the microwave to prevent butter from going hard.
·         Make a well with flour mixture and slowly add milk into the middle. While kneading the dough with your fingers.  
·         Add milk until dough barely pulls away from your fingers and the sides of the bowl without leaving residue.
·         Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll or pat to approximately ¾ inch thickness.  Thickness will increase 100-200% while cooking. 
·         Cut with either a 2 inch or 3 inch round cookie cutter depending on desired size of biscuits.
·         Using a pastry brush, paint both sides of cut biscuits with remaining butter.
·         Heat cast-iron skillet or dutch oven to medium heat. 
·         Place biscuits in pan with a hair of space between each biscuit.
Nate’s notes:
·         Cook covered until golden brown on the bottom and turn once (think pancakes).
·         When done, biscuits will form a natural break in the middle where the cooked dough is weakest.
·         There is no need to grease the skillet.
Cheese Biscuits – Cube 4 oz of a hard cheese, or strong flavor cheese into buckshot size cubes (approximately ¼ inch cubes), and mix into dough before rolling it out.
Fruit Cobbler Topper:
·         double the sugar,
·         add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to dry mix,
·         roll dough to ½ inch thickness,
·         cook biscuits on one side only
·         place the biscuits raw-side up on the cobbler before baking and press gently into the cobbler.
·         Sprinkle the uncooked tops of the biscuits with a light coating of cinnamon and sugar.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Left Over Pot Roast Tacos

We never finish a pot roast in one sitting, and I didn't really know what to do with it for another meal. Tonight, I made this taco filling (though it says it's for chimichangas). Easy, quick and tasty.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Swiss Chard with Chickpeas

This is a recipe that is so much more than the sum of it's parts.  I don't know where the sweetness comes from, but it has just a hint of it.  Delicious and filling as a main dish for lunch.

Swiss Chard with Chickpeas
Gourmet Cookbook

2 small onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced  I chopped mine
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 small tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cup rinsed canned chick-peas I prefer this with a can of Great Northern beans instead of the chickpeas
1 pound Swiss chard, stems discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Cook onion and garlic in oil in a large nonstick skillet over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add tomato and chick-peas and cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Add Swiss chard and cook, covered, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Easy Pot Roast

I've had this recipe for quite a while but could never find the ingredients (maybe they don't make cream of mushroom with roasted garlic anymore?).  I just used regular cream of mushroom soup, only had 1 packet of onion soup mix (couldn't find the beefy onion soup mix), and forgot to get parsnips and dill.  So, um, I guess this isn't really the original recipe at all.  Still, easy and quite tasty.

The Best Roast Ever
adapted from Pimp My Dinner

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 packet onion soup mix
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 lb beef chuck roast
2 handfuls of baby carrots
1 onion, quartered

Whisk soup, soup mix, vinegar, rosemary, and garlic in a large crock pot.  Add beef, turn to coat.  Add carrots and onion.  Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender.  Remove meat and slice.  Serve with vegetables and gravy.

Spinach Stuffed Shells

I've been looking for a good stuffed shell recipe for a while.  I adjusted this one from Real Mom Kitchen a bit so that the ingredients didn't require measuring, and I added a little salt.  I made this without the egg and it held up fine.  Better yet, I made the whole match in 2 9x9 baking dishes and froze one, which we ate a week later because we all loved it.

Spinach Stuffed Shells
adapted from Real Mom Kitchen

1 (12 oz) box of jumbo pasta shells there will be left over shells
1 (16 oz) package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 lb mozzarella, shredded the usual mozzarella ball you buy in the grocery store
1 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb ricotta cheese we used whole milk
1 egg optional
1/2 t salt
1/4 t freshly ground pepper
1 and 1/2 medium sized glass jars of Ragu spaghetti sauce

1. Place spinach in a clean dish towel and squeeze any excess liquid.
2. Cook shells according to package directions, drain, and cool shells for a few minutes.
3. In a large bowl, mix spinach, mozzarella, 1/2 cup Parmesan, ricotta and egg with salt and pepper.
4. Scoop approximately 1 1/2 T of cheese mixture into each shell.  I think I probably did more than this...all I know is I stuffed as much of that cheesy goodness into each shell as I could and still had a bit leftover.
5. In 2 9x9 baking dishes, spread a couple spoonfuls of spaghetti sauce into the bottom of each dish.
6. Place half of the shells in each of the baking dishes.  Pour half of the remaining sauce over one dish of shells and pour the rest over the other dish.  Sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese.
7. Cover dishes with foil and bake one and freeze the other.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until hot and bubbly.

To prepare the frozen dish, bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minutes.