Monthly Archives: December 2013

Yorkshire Pudding


As you may have surmised by now, I like to cook.  And I also like to keep trying to get a recipe just right.  Or keep trying new ones, until I find the perfect recipe.  And by gum, I think I done it.   Found the perfect recipe for Yorkshire Puddings.

I love my Yorkies, really I do, but up til now my attempts have been a hit and miss affair.  I get recipes from friends, and they swear by them, I make them once and they turn out OK, but the next time I do it, flop.  And while I may eat the ‘hockey puck Yorkshire puds’ I still want giant, towering, light, airy, crisp puddings.  Something I can ladle my gravy over, something I can butter a little later and eat as a snack.

Just for fun I googled recipes yet again, and this time I found ‘THE RECIPE’ here , at a place called British Food on About.com.

I made them according to the instructions, in the morning, thinking if they turned out like little hard biscuits, I was out two eggs and a little time.  But they didn’t.

I did twiddle with the recipe, just a teeny bit, but that’s because I had already cracked two eggs.  I then proceeded with the recipe instructions and they turned out so well.

I was a very happy cook at this point.   I promptly inhaled two of them, and I called them breakfast at that point.

Here’s the recipe I used.   And I got a dozen lovely, tasty, airy puddings out of it.  Basically you use equal measurements of the three main ingredients.

2 eggs (I’ve been using Jumbo eggs lately cause they’ve been so inexpensive) cracked into a measuring cup.
I get a half cup of eggs from the two Jumbo eggs.
1/2 cup milk (equal amount of milk to egg)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour  (equal amount of flour to egg)
Pinch of salt

Whisk the eggs and milk together, really well, or use a hand beater.   Let this sit for about 20 minutes and then sift the flour into the egg/milk batter, beating very well, until it resembles a thick cream.  If you happen to get any lumps in there, just sieve them out.   Set the batter aside for a minimum of 30 minutes or several hours if you can.  I think the ones I baked later in the day rose higher.
Prepare the pan.  I used a 12 hole muffin pan, but if you have a pop over pan, use that.  Or you can also use a good sturdy roasting pan as well.    Put a pea sized piece of lard or shortening into each hole, if using a muffin tin, then place the pan into a very hot oven, 425-450 deg., until the oil is smoking hot.  But don’t burn it.  This really just takes a couple of minutes.

And here’s my newest tip of the week, or maybe it should be the hint of the year.  Really, it is that good.  And one I wish I’d thought of myself.

One of the main tricks of making sure that Yorkshire Pudding rises is not letting the pan with the hot fat in it cool down.  So, you keep the pan in the oven, and hope you don’t let out too much heat as you’re pouring the batter in.  Then you hurry up and shut the door, and cross your fingers you’re not going to pull out hockey pucks.

Here’s the hint/tip/LIGHTBULB over the head.  Turn on a large element on top of the stove, doesn’t have to be on a high temp, then place your pan on top of that as you’re pouring the batter into the cups/pan.  No loss of heat.

Place the pan back in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, just til they are all puffed up and golden.

Serve them alongside a lovely rib roast, or a nice roast chicken or gee, I might just make some for myself, just because.

They were the perfect accompaniment to the Standing Rib Roast.

I hope your Christmas was a good one.  I know we ate well on Christmas eve at our house.   My guests brought a wonderful assortment of vegetable side dishes as well as some desserts.  And there are no pictures of that because, I wanted to sit down and enjoy their company.

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Snowmen…


I had fun the other day in the kitchen.   Well, I have fun most days when it comes to cooking something new.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  And if it doesn’t taste too bad I’ll probably eat it.   Just kidding.

I was going to join the ladies for our Friday night get together, and since we were doing a present exchange and it was so close to Christmas, I decided to make a universal favourite.

Deviled Eggs.  I mean, what’s not to like about them?   And here’s where the fun part came in, I made a decoration out of some of the eggs.

I made Snowmen.    Yup, little Snowmen, from the hard-cooked eggs.   And they were so cute, and easy to make.   Oh and the deviled eggs tasted pretty good as well.

I just made the basic deviled egg recipe, mashed the yolks, added mayo, mustard, a little Israeli Paprika, and a couple of chopped gherkins to the mixture, piped them out into the egg whites using a cupcake decorating tip, then sprinkled a little more paprika on top.

 

 

Then I had fun.

I’d hard-cooked 3 jumbo eggs and 3 medium eggs, peeled them and set them aside.

I then got a carrot, peeled it and made cut coins out of it.  I used part of the carrot to cut little teeny ‘noses’ for the snowmen.

 

I also took a black olive out of my marinated olives, and used it.  Luckily I had a jar in the fridge, but if you’re going somewhere either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and are bringing deviled eggs and olives you can have fun like this as well.

Take the large egg and cut a slice off of the bottom and then another slice off of the top.    Place it aside.  Then you take the medium egg, and cut a slice off of the large end.  Put that aside.

 

 

 

Get a skewer, and cut it to fit the length of the stacked eggs.  You will then use the pointed end of the skewer and push it through the stacked carrot coins, and then place it through the body of the eggs.   Decorate the eggs with the carrot noses and olives.  I used the blunt end of the skewer that I’d cut off to poke holes in the smaller egg for the ‘buttons and eyes’ which I’d cut out of the single olive.  I did eat the rest of the olive, and the egg slices I cut off, made a nice sandwich.  But you could also mash them up and put them in with the yolks for the deviled eggs.

After you assemble them, just put them in the dish you’re serving the eggs in and VOILA, a really cute, seasonal decoration.  And it’s edible as well.

 

And to transport them, I just laid them on their sides, and took them with me.  You can put a can of drained black olives around their bases as well if you like, but I did not want to take anything away from them.

These were a hit, by the way, just too darn cute for words.

Now, go have some fun with your food.

Brunekager


I cannot believe that this month has flown by like this.  Yikes, it’s almost Christmas and I have done absolutely no baking so far.  At least no Christmas baking.    And my Danish wants out and was insisting on some Brunekager this year.  So I decided to make some.

I found the recipe my brother sent me, and then called him up to clarify the notes he’d made on the photocopied recipe, and along the way I also called one of my sisters to get her take on it as well.  She was telling me about our mothers’ recipe for Brunekager.  And along the way I had a lovely chat with two of my sibs. I have to say, all of my siblings cook and bake.  And they are all extraordinary cooks.   My mom did good.

This recipe is kind of tricky, you need to let the dough rest in the fridge for a couple of days.  My brother says he doesn’t bother rolling it out anymore, he just cuts thin, very thin, slices off of the roll.   However, I remember our cookie making days when I was growing up and mom rolling out the dough, and being very picky about how thin it was.   And we cut them into diamond shapes as well as some rounds as well.  Such good memories, I feel very fortunate to have them.   This cookie is also very highly spiced, and personally, I love them that way.
And umm, I should have paid a little more attention to my brother as he kept on talking about cutting the recipe down a little, as in, he divides the recipe into fourths and only makes that much.   Oh well, I now have enough cookie dough in my fridge to feed an army.  sigh.

And I should add that the recipe was in Danish, so I had to convert the ingredients into English, but more importantly I had to get my scale out and start weighing out everything.

These are the Verdens Bedste Brune Kager  by Anne Skovgaard-Petersen
Worlds Best Brune Kager  (translation)
Recipe in Danish with the English translation to the side.  At least as I made it.

1/2 kg. Smør                                                     1 lb. Butter
1/2 kg. Sukker                                                   1 lb. Sugar
1/4 kg. Sirop  (1 3/4 dl)                                     1 cup Dark Corn Syrup
4 tsk. kanel                                                        4 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsk. nelliker                                                     1 tsp. ground Cloves
1 tsk. ingefær                                                     1 tsp. ginger
15 g Potask                                                       15 g. Ammonium Carbonate
1 spsk hot water                                                1 tbsp. hot water
1 kg. mel                                                            8 cups flour
Slivered almonds for decoration.
Melt the butter over low heat and add the sugar and the syrup.   Just until it all comes together, don’t let it boil.

Add the spices to the mix and give it a good stir.

 

Take it off the heat.  Dissolve the Ammonium Carbonate in the hot water, and add to the pot.  Stir well.  It will foam up and smell like ammonia at this point, don’t worry, you won’t taste it.   Let this sit for a little while until it’s lukewarm and then start adding the flour, one cup at a time.

 

At this point I let my Kitchenaid do the work of mixing the flour in.  It doesn’t take long for a stiff dough to form.   Take the dough out and divide up into quarters or more.

Go ahead and knead it a little, you don’t want any air bubbles in there.

You can make a roll of the dough at this point or do as I did and make some rolls, and a couple of disks.   Wrap them well in some plastic wrap and stick them in the fridge for a couple of days.   They need a nice long rest, before baking.

When you’re ready to bake, take one of the rolls out of the fridge and cut thin, very thin slices from them.   I’m just not talented that way and ended up rolling out the cut pieces to get them thin enough.

The cookies should be no more than 1/16 of an inch thick.  Really, that thin.

I also made some diamond ones, cause we always made them when I was a kid.   Just before baking press a little piece of slivered almond on top of the cookie.

I had a regular assembly line going here.

Bake in a 395 deg. oven for about 6-7 minutes or until they just turn brown.

And don’t forget to turn on the timer, cause gee, if you get caught up in trying to get the perfect shot, you can forget that there are cookies in the oven and they will come out like this.

They were a little, umm, over done.

But after all that, so worth the effort, and best of all I have more dough in the fridge, ready to bake.

 

I have enough for a party.

Kitchen Sink Cookies


Kitchen Sink Cookies

Tis’ the season for baking, oh heck with it, any season is the right time to bake.

But this time of the year we I tend to bake a lot more.   One of my favorite cookies is the Kitchen Sink Cookie.   At least that is what I call it.   I use the leftover coconut from another recipe, the rest of the bag of craisins, any nuts I have in the cupboard, sometimes chopped up dried fruit.  It really does not matter.   It’s all good.
I’m also not that fond of Chocolate Chip cookies but my DH loves Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies so I compromise.   I make a base Oatmeal cookie, divide it and make some cookies for him, and some for me.

Oatmeal Cookies
1 ½ cup butter (can use only 1 cup if you prefer)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar (I use dark brown sugar, cause I like it, oh and if you don’t have any brown sugar, make your own by adding a tbsp. of Molasses to a cup of white sugar)
2 eggs
1-2 tbsp. Kahlua (most recipes call for vanilla extract, but I use Kahlua for this, I like the nuance it brings to the cookie, but go ahead and use your own home made vanilla)
4 cups oats
1 ½ cups flour
½ tsp. Salt (opt.)
1 tbsp. baking soda
1 cup Chocolate Chips
1 cup chopped nuts, walnuts, pecans or whatever you have
1 cup coconut
1 cup craisons or raisins or dried fruit, whatever you have on hand.
Dump the sugar and butter into the mixmaster, or just beat it until the sugar has begun to break down and the mixture starts to lighten a little in color.

Add eggs, one at a time or both at the same time and beat in.

Add the Kahlua at this point, it also helps the sugar break down a little. I like the sugar to be as smooth as possible before I add the rest of the ingredients.

I think it makes for a lighter, crispier cookie.  I will take a smidge out and check the batter to see if the sugar has dissolved.  OK, so I taste it, but don’t do like me if you’re pregnant or ill, just in case.  It does have raw egg in there.

Once that is done, add the oats, flour and baking soda, and the salt as well if you use it. Personally I do a lot of salt free cooking and the salt in the butter is more than sufficient for my taste.

And now for the fun. My DH likes Oatmeal Choc Chip cookies, but I don’t so at this point I divide the dough in half. I add one cup or so of chocolate chips to his half of the dough and mix it together.

At this point I dump the cookie dough onto a long piece of plastic wrap, and make it into a long roll. I put it in the fridge and proceed with the other half of the dough.

Next, I take the other half of the dough and dump in whatever I have on hand, one cup of nuts, one cup of coconut, one cup of dried craisins, or raisins or … even some chopped up dried apricots, peaches or what ever you have on hand.

Now you know why it’s called a Kitchen Sink cookie, anything goes.  I then form this into a log and place it in the fridge to firm up for a little while.

Take out your cookie rolls in an hour or so and slice with a very sharp knife into slices.

Squish them down a little,  and place on a cookie sheet and back in a preheated 350 deg oven for about 15 minutes, or until they’re done to your taste.

Pour yourself a nice glass of milk or in my case a fresh cup of coffee and sit down for a minute and enjoy your treat. In fact, that’s what I’m about to go and do.

Flakiest Pie Crust (and Pumpkin Pie Filling)


I love this recipe for pie crust, I don’t make it often, and really, I don’t know why I don’t.  It’s a little on the messy side to make, but once it’s done, just wrap really well and put it into the freezer to use at a later date.
And in fact, that’s just what I’m doing today.

I got this recipe out of the LA Times many years ago, and actually made this while we were living in our motor home, and my counter space was an area about 16 inches wide by maybe 18 inches deep.   I did have to vacuum a lot right after, as well as sweep the floor and wipe it down after I was done, but the pie crust, OMG, well, flaky was just one of the descriptive words I could use.

I got the recipe out of the LA Times, and got totally intrigued by the description or should I say methodology? of making it.    It’s your basic pie crust recipe, fat, flour, salt, and a touch of water.   But what makes this recipe special, is the how you make it.   You can actually see the streaks of butter, and it makes for an incredibly tender, flaky crust.

To start with, take your butter out of the fridge, and dice it into little pieces.  I do mean dice.  Then put that diced butter back in the fridge.  You want to keep it as cold as possible.   If you have room in your fridge for some flour, go ahead and get that cold as well.   Of course I didn’t follow my own hints here, as I had offered to throw together a pumpkin pie at the last-minute for Thanksgiving.  However, if you decide to make this, here is how you should do it.

I have an island in my kitchen with a stainless steel top, and I put a ziploc bag filled with ice right over where I wanted to make my pie crust.  If you have a couple of ice packs you want to use, go ahead.   The purpose of getting everything cold is to handle the dough as little as possible, keeping it as cold as possible.   (Mrs. Patterson would approve of this).

Pie Crust

2 cups flour
1/4 lb. unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt (only if using unsalted butter)
4 + teaspoons ice water

First off, measure out the flour and place it on your baking mat.  I use this because it’s easy clean up and I have learned my lesson on this.

If you are using unsalted butter, you can add the salt here, if using salted butter, don’t worry about it.

Then put your diced, cold butter on top of the flour,

toss it in the flour a little, then get out your rolling pin and start rolling the butter into the flour.
Yup, rolling it into the flour.  Just like this.

Keep rolling it out, moving the flour to the top, until all the butter is incorporated.   Then you add the magic ingredient,  water.

Make a little well in the flour butter mixture, (there is a fancy name for this, but it escaped me at the moment)
Dribbling in about 4 teaspoons of water, and tossing it together with your cold hands, until it resembles this. You can use more water, if needed, and I did that day, but only use enough water for the dough to come together.  Don’t over work the dough!!  Did you notice I put that in bold type?  That is so important for this dough, and actually for most pie dough.   Overworking the dough results in a tough crust, and you don’t want that.

Then use your rolling pin again, and roll it out just a little, then cut in half and place half of it aside.

Continue to roll out the pie crust until it reaches the right size.  For me it was for a deep dish pie tin.
Then here’s a trick, roll the dough over the rolling pin

and use that to transfer the pie crust to the tin.

Unrolling it over and then you can trim it however you want.  I did a kinda rustic look this time.
Fill it with your pie filling

And bake until it’s done.
Here’s the filling I used the other day.
1 can pumpkin (15 oz.size)
1 can Sweetened Condensed milk (I use Eagle Brand)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves.

Whisk together and pour into pie shell.

I like to pre-bake my crust about five minutes, and if you do that, you do need to use a fork to prick some holes in the bottom.   Bake the pie for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Now I did my famous, dang, forgot to take a picture of the finished pie, but, gee it was Thanksgiving and I wanted to get everything done and the kitchen cleaned up before I had to take my pie and bread and to dinner at a friend’s house.
However, this is all that was left when I took it home.