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Archive for December, 2009

Butternut Soup

1 medium butternut squash (2 1/2 -3 lbs.) peeled and cubed

! onion, chopped

2 Tb. butter

2 Tb. dry sherry or sake

1 tsp. lite brown sugar

1 tsp. ground ginger

2/3 cup half and half

3 cups chicken stock

Saute the onion over medium heat in butter til soft-don’t brown it. Add squash and sherry- cook, stirring until alcohol evaporates. Add stock, cover and simmer until squash is very tender, about 30 minutes.  Puree in blender, then add milk and seasonings. Taste and adjust seasonings. I add a good bit of salt and white pepper. Sometimes I add a small tsp. of the Traeger vegetable rub or Garam Masala or whatever spice combo you like-not too much, while I’m blending. Reheat gently. Really good with the oatmeal rolls.

UPDATE:I now use full coconut milk instead of half and half–about the same amount but adjust to your tastes. I also put a healthy Tablespoon of a Hot and Sour soup  spice paste available at Asian grocers, but you could use Cajun seasoning (careful of the salt content) or any favorite hot sauce or cayenne. Just get some heat in there–not too much. Heat gently.

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Oatmeal Dinner rolls

Justgrams recently made oatmeal bread and that reminded me of this recipe I haven’t done in a long time. Yeast is not my best friend but it co-operated today and these were light as a feather. I was in a hurry so I skipped the kneading for 6-8 minutes and skipped the resting part after punching down. ..they still came out great. It’s a sticky dough but try and work it with as little flour as you can or it will heavy up.

2 cups water

1 cup quick oats (I used regular-came out fine)

3 Tb. butter

1 pkg. dry yeast

1/3 cup warm water

1/4 cup brown sugar (recipe called for 1/3 cup plus 1 Tb. white sugar but I didn’t want them so sweet-they were to go with soup.)

1 1/2 tsp. salt

4 cups flour

Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add oats and butter, cook and stir for 1 minutes, then remove to cool to lukewarm. In a large mixing bowl, add yeast to warm water and let bloom. When foamy, add oat mixture, brown sugar, salt and flour. Mix well then knead for 6-8 minutes until smooth. Place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat. Cover and let rise until double in bulk-about an hour. Punch down, let rest for 10 minutes. Shape into rolls and place not quite touching in a greased 9 inch round cake pan. recipe says 18 rolls, I got more like 24. Let rise again-30-40 minutes, until double in size. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.

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Caramel Cake

Again with the no picture.  Nothing more to say.

I have to borrow a stainless steel pan from my sister Jo-Ellen to make the caramel for this cake. It’s not as deep as I would like so, for safety reasons, I make a “lid” of aluminum foil (heavy if you have it) to fit the pan, loosely crimping around the edge to try to let it hold on while the steam and popping caramel try to blow it off the pan. Then make a hole the size of  a walnut in the top and thru this hole I slowly pour the water in to stop the browning of the sugar. It only spits and steams for 30 seconds or so. Then carefully remove foil and stir. This makes enough caramel syrup for 2 cakes with enough left over for using a Tbsp. of it in coffee once in awhile. Make the syrup first–it’ an ingredient in both cake and frosting.

Caramel Cake
from Shuna Fish Lydon
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350F
Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.
Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.
Sift flour and baking powder.
Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}
Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.
Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.
Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.
CARAMEL SYRUP
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for “stopping” the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.
When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.
Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}
Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.
CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted( I use less of this-too much and you loose the browned butter taste)
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Cook butter until brown and nutty. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.
Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner’s sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner’s sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

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Hollywood Squares

I have no picture of these–just imagine a peanut butter bar topped with a chocolate layer. Story has it that cafeteria workers sometimes made these to give/sell to the students. I had no such cafeteria worker at my school, sad to say. People love these and they are so easy–other than melting the chocolate and butter for the topping-No cooking involved!

Hollywood Squares
Ingredients:
2 cups peanut butter (1 jar-by the time you take out the Tbsps. needed for topping, it’s just right)
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
Topping:
4 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate(I used 1/2 sack of chips)
2 tbsp. peanut butter
Directions:
Combine all ingredients except topping ingredients.
Mix well and press into a buttered 9-inch pan.
Melt the topping ingredients together (the microwave works well for this) and spread over the top of the peanut butter mixture.
Chill until topping is firm…doesn’t take long.
Cut into squares. Store, covered, at room temp.
Enjoy!!

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