Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Recipe #86: Graham Cracker Moonpies Complete with Marshmallow Filling...Yum, Yum, Yum!

I don't ever recall having a moonpie, although they are popular enough.   This recipe is adapted from Country Living Magazine, and I've had it torn out for the past 3 months.  If you don't think a good cook can ever be daunted by something, think again.  I have never made marshmallow from scratch, and yes, you need a candy thermometer.  But, the marshmallow is really easy...the hardest part of this recipe is having the candy thermometer.  No, that's not true.  The recipe calls for sorghum, which I've heard of, but never used, and harder to find.  No, don't leave this post so quickly.  I actually found what I believe is sorghum at Albertson's, and it's probably easier to find in London, since it's made by a company called Tate & Lyle Sugars.  You really can't use straight molasses, and I don't think dark corn syrup would work either.  That said, if you "had to", you could probably use a combination of 1/4 cup each dark and light corn syrup.  But, back to the story.   So, I forged ahead and made them.  Instant hit.  If you do any baking, this really isn't that difficult a recipe.  I urge you not to wait 3 months and go for it. 


3 cups flour                                                      2 1/2 cups fine graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt                                        1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda                                             1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temp            1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sorghum                                              1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole or 2% milk


3/4 cup granulated sugar                                1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup                                   1 tbsp honey
pinch salt                                                            6 tbsp water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin                         1 tsp pure vanilla extract


2 12 oz bags chocolate chips                          1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil

To make the cookies:  whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a bowl.  Beat butter, sugar, sorghum and vanilla on medium speed with an electric mixer, until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.  Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture, beating until just combined.  Beat in milk.  Divide dough in half.  Place each haf on a sheet of parchment paper and top with plastic wrap.  Roll to about 1/2" thick.  Slide parchment onto cookie sheet and refrigerate both sheets for about 30 minutes.  Heat oven to 325.  Pull sheets out of frig.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Cut out cookies with a 2 or 2 1/2" round cookie cutter and place cookie on prepared pan, leaving at least 1" between cookies.  Chill 15 minutes.  Reroll scraps and cut out more cookies.  Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until firm to the touch and lightly golden, about 10-12 minutes.  Cool on racks.

To make the marshmallow:  combine sugar, corn syrup, honey, salt and 3 tbsp water in a large saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved.  Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and boil, without stirring, until syrup reaches 235F, about 10 minutes.  Watch closely, as it doesn't take nearly as long as cooking caramel.  Meanwhile, pour the remaining 3 tbsp water into a bowl and sprinkle with gelatin.  Whisk on low speed with an electric mixer until gelatin softens.  With the mixer running, gradually add hot sugar syrup.  Whisk, gradually increasing the speed to high, until the mixture holds stiff peaks, about 10 minutes.  Reduce speed to low and whisk in the vanilla.

To assemble cookies:  I just use an offset spatula sprayed with cooking spray, so the marshmallow won't stick, and spread a big dollop onto half of the cookie bottoms.  Top with the remaining cookies and gently press to seal.

To coat the cookies:  place chocolate chips and oil in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water...make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water.  Stir occasionally until all of the chocolate is melted and incorporated with the oil.  I place a cookie in the bowl of chocolate as far down as I can and spoon the chocolate over the cookie.  Pick back up and place on a parchment lined wire rack.  If the chocolate begins to harden before all cookies are coated, place back on top of the simmering water.  Bon appetit!

I have rolling pin rings and the blue combined with the yellow equaled 1/2"

see, both are each side of my pin...

they cut out super easy...

right out of the oven...

spreading the filling on, and putting the tops on, pressing a little after...

the chocolate and oil mixture...

dipping them in...

the marshmallow, complete, and rather sticky, of course...



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Recipe #85: Cinnamon Bread French Toast with Orange Zest Maple Syrup

If I had my druthers, my perfect breakfast would be a toasted pecan bacon waffle, slathered with lots of butter, the whole mess topped with lots of warm "real" maple syrup, and more bacon on the side.  But, every once in awhile, I love a plate of french toast.  That said, I am not a lover of thick french toast.  But, since "you" will be making this recipe, you can use white bread, cinnamon raisin bread, texas toast...the choices are endless.  The prep work doesn't take much time, and the making of the French toast, even less time.

4 slices of your choice of bread                                     2 eggs
1/2 cup 2% or whole milk                                               pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp almond extract           2 tbsp butter
1 cup maple syrup, warmed with 1 tbsp.                      bacon, of course
   grated orange zest

In a flat shallow casserole dish, mix egg, milk, salt, vanilla or almond extract.  Heat a large skilled on medium/high with 2 tbsp butter.   Word is that your bread should be rather stale..I usually forget this part, and just leave the bread out overnight or uncovered on the counter for an hour or two.  Place one slice bread in egg mixture, turning a few times and putting into the sizzling butter.  Repeat with all pieces.  Brown each side, which should take 4-5 minutes, but it's a good rule of thumb to check.  Plate two pieces of French toast on a plate, bacon on the side.  I usually put the maple syrup in a gravy boat so you and your guest can pour to your heart's desire.  Bon appetit!


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Recipe #84: Strawberry Fluff..You Could Eat the Whole Bowl in One Sitting...Really!

I just made this recipe the other day, and do you know how long it's been since I made it last?  Forty years ago...yes, 40!  What really surprised me was that I remembered this recipe, and when I tasted it again after all these years, I was in heaven.  I usually don't go out for stuff like this, but it reminds me of a whippy cotton candy.  It's all made in one bowl, so it's super easy, and goes down easier...really.  Great for a barbecue, luncheon, or as for me, I was eating another helping around midnight the day I made it.  It does only keep for one day, two at the most, but, you will be hard pressed to have any left. 

1 8 oz container of Cool Whip                                 1 small pkg strawberry jello (I actually bought
2 medium bananas, cut lengthwise                              Crush instead of Jello as it actually had
    once, then each half again, then sliced                     some natural strawberry flavor in it)
1 cup diced pineapple (if you're using                   1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
    canned, drain it well)                                            1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped

Mix the package of jello in a small bowl with 1/4 cup boiling water.  Stir until dissolved.  Put Cool Whip in a large bowl and add strawberry water.  Mix with a large spoon.  Try not to eat this just the way it is.  Add the rest of the ingredients, cover and chill for several hours.  Bon appetit!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Recipe #83: Pineapple, Fresh Ginger & Coconut Puff PastryTartlets

This particular recipe is interesting in that they are mini tarte tatins which are usually apple, but these, instead of being made in a cast iron pan, are made in muffin tins, and are pineapple coconut.  The ginger puts the flavor over the top, and the three together are a match made in heaven.  Since these are small, you can easily put away one, two or three at a time...well, I could put away three.  This recipe has few ingredients, fewer instructions, and turns out beautiful every time...

3 tbsp butter, melted                                                       1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1 pkg frozen puff pastry                                                  2 tbsp packed dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger                                                      3 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1/8 tsp salt                                                                         2 cups fresh diced pineapple (if using canned
                                                                                                  make sure it's drained well)

Heat the oven to 375.  Generously coat a 12 muffin tin with the melted butter..I use a brush to do this.  Evenly sprinkle the coconut inside each tin.  Set aside.  Roll out both sheets of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface to 1/8" thickness.  Prick all over with a fork, as this prevents a lot of puffing up.  Once you unfold the puff pastry, you may not need to roll it, as long as you can cut 6 circles, each the diameter of the top of the muffin tin, approximately 2 3/4".  Place the circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until needed.  Place the brown sugar, powdered ginger, fresh ginger and salt in a medium bowl.  Combine with a fork.  Add the pineapple and and stir to coat.  Evenly divide the pineapple mixture among the 12 tins.   Place a puff pastry circle on top of the pineapple mixture and gently tuck the sides into the well to seal around the pineapple.  Prick the top in about 6-7 places so pastry will stay relatively flat when baked.  Bake until the pastry is puffed and dark golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.   During this time, run a knife around each to loosen it from the well.  Place a baking sheet over the muffin pan and carefully invert the muffin pan onto the baking sheet.  Remove the muffin pan.  Some of the pieces of the pineapple and coconut may remain inside....just take out and put on the tatin that looks short.  Serve warm or at room temp.  Bon appetit!

I had a glass that was the perfect diameter...went around it with a knife and place on the cookie sheet...

use all of the butter to brush the bottom and side so the "stick" factor will be minimal...

add the coconut to all 12 tins...

then the pineapple, ginger, brown sugar mixture...

put puff pastry on top and prick a few times with a fork...tuck in edges...
absolutely fabulous!!!                                                                                                                          

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Recipe #82: Sesame Steak Stir Fry with Fresh Ginger, Carrots and Napa Cabbage

I used to have a wok, and loved it when I had it, but that was the craze in the late 70's, early 80's, and now it's long gone.  I don't do a lot of fast Chinese cooking; in fact, I only make two recipes..this one, and schezwan chicken.  I love them both, and you will too.  They are quick, fresh and taste great!

2 tbsp packed light brown sugar                         2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp toasted sesame oil                                      12 oz top round thinly sliced
1 bunch green onions, cut into 1" pieces            4 cups napa cabbage, cut into 1" strips
2 carrots, shredded                                                 1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and sliced
cooked rice                                                               2 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water

Whisk the brown sugar, soy sauce, cornstarch, water and 1 tbsp of the sesame oil in a bowl.  Add the steak, toss, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for an hour.   Do not refrigerate.   Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat.  Add 1 tbsp sesame oil.  Add the green onions and cabbage and stir fry until the vegetables start softening, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the carrots and 1/4 cup water, stirring until water evaporates and the carrots are tender.  Transfer to a bowl.  Heat remaining 1 tbsp sesame oil over medium high heat.  Add the ginger and jalapeno and stiry fry about a minute.  Put steak in the skillet using a slotted spoon, saving marinade.  Stir fry until browned...2-3 minutes.  Whisk 3/4 cup water into the steak marinade.  Add to the skillet and cook, stirring until thick, about 2 minutes.  Return the vegetables to the skillet and heat through.  Serve over rice.  Bon appetit!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Recipe #81: No Egg Chocolate Layer Cake with Glossy Chocolate Sour Cream Icing

I found this recipe awhile back and had never made it up until now...when I went to the fridge to get the number of eggs required, I looked again at the recipe, and surprise...no eggs.  It had to be a misprint, I told myself, but after going online and doing some research, found that yes, there are some cake recipes that have no eggs.  The icing also has no powdered sugar, yet it is extremely rich, which is right up my alley, and, this recipe does not require a mixer. This would not be my "go-to" cake if I wanted a super decadent devil's food or fudge layer cake, but it is nice enough, and the flavor of the cake, as well as the icing, is enhanced by the coffee.  It really doesn't require anything out of the ordinary, except for, perhaps, the heavy whipping cream and the cake flour...I always have cake flour in the pantry, but even "I" don't have heavy whipping cream around on a steady basis...that would definitely be trouble...

3 1/3 cups cake flour                                                 1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar                                                 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda                                                       1 tsp salt
2 cups hot tap water                                                  3/4 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
2 tbsp white vinegar                                                  1 tbsp instant coffee granules
2 tsp vanilla extract
Heat oven to 350.  Always bake cakes on the center rack of your oven.   Grease and flour two 8" round cake pans.  Whisk together flour, white sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.   Combine water, oil, vinegar, instant coffee and vanilla in a large measuring cup.  Add to the dry ingredients and whisk just until combined.  Divide batter between pans then bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes, (you do not want to over bake).  Cool cakes on racks for 10 minutes, then invert them.   Cool completely before icing cakes.  Bon appetit!
Glossy Chocolate Sour Cream Icing
1 stick unsalted butter                                                   1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder                      1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream                             1/4 cup regular sour cream
2 tsp instant coffee granules                                        2 tsp vanilla extract
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in sugar, cocoa and salt.  Mixture will be thick and grainy.  Combine heavy cream, sour cream and instant coffee in a large measuring cup, mixing until smooth.  Gradually add cream mixture to chocolate until blended and smooth.  Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth and hot to the touch...about 8-10 minutes.  Do not boil.  Off heat, add vanilla.  Cool icing at room temperature until spreadable, about 2-3 hours.  Since I didn't want to wait, I put the pan of icing in a large bowl of ice water and stirred constantly until it was the right consistency.   Make sure your cakes are completely cooled before icing.  I made the mistake of not doing that completely, and when I started to ice the cake, it started to slide.  Took the second layer off and waited a little longer for the cakes to cool...    
everything is mixed in one bowl...

frosting at the start...

frosting done...

all gone...



all the cake went to my neighbors, except one piece for me...