Saturday, July 29, 2017

Crazy Chocolate Cake or (Updated Name) Vegan Chocolate Cake

This recipe is from the Great Depression when eggs, milk, and butter could be hard to come by. It is great for people with egg or lactose allergies. Another bonus is that you don't have any dirty bowls to wash. Back when this recipe was developed being vegan was not fashionable and the cookbook where I found the original recipe doesn't mention that it is vegan. I found this recipe in the LA Times.
I top the cake with powdered sugar and serve it with sliced strawberries.

Crazy Chocolate Cake
1 1/2 cups unsifted all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup salad oil
1 cup cold water or weak coffee or 1/2 cup stout plus 1/2 cup coffee
Set your oven to 350º F. Sift the dry ingredients into an ungreased 8" square baking pan. Whisk them together in the pan until mixed and smooth them out. Make 3 depressions in the dry ingredients and pour the vanilla, vinegar, and oil in the depressions. Pour the water over all. Mix everything together with a spoon. Don't worry if there are a few lumps. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Väänänin Martini Recipe

I thought that I didn't like like martinis until Eeva made her twist on her brother Jukka's version of the classic recipe. It was delicious and changed my opinion when it came to martinis. I am pasting the recipe Eeva sent to me.

 Always use Noilly Prat vermouth. Accept no substitutes (well, perhaps in this hipster era of ours there are acceptable substitutes out there, but guilty until proven innocent, I say). I'm pretty sure we got Noilly Prat at Trader Joe's, but your Aptos liquor store is bound to have it, as it's the standard bearer, not niche. 

I favor stirred martinis. If you don't have a stirrer, you can use a large pint glass. Put enough ice cubes in it that they will be higher than the gin. Stir quickly to chill the glass (you don't want the ice to melt, and if any water collects on the bottom of the glass throw it out before adding the gin). Add the gin (just shy of 1/4 of a cup per person) and no more than a Noilly Prat cap full of vermouth, stir rigorously for a few seconds and pour into martini glasses. The idea is to ensure as little dilution of the drink, so no extra time in contact with the ice. Take your lemon peel piece, give it a quick twist above the glass to release the aromas and drop it in. You're all set. 

My martini is based on the stirrer I use, so the amount may vary but it looks like about 1/4 cup. No need to fill up the vermouth cap entirely either, it's really just meant to be a hint. Some folks even rinse their martini glasses with vermouth first then chuck it out before adding the chilled gin.

Some people also store the gin in the freezer or place martini glasses in the freezer for 30 minutes before making the drink. I sometimes do the former, but never the latter, as I don't like drinking from a wet glass and having precipitation all over my hands.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Oven Spareribs

This is a recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen which was adapted from a recipe by Harold McGee. I decided that I had to put it in my blog because I was afraid that the next time I wanted to cook ribs in the oven I wouldn't remember what recipe I had used and it would be lost to me in the fog of my brain. It is very easy and when I made it with the outstanding ribs from Fogline Farms in Soquel, the ribs were delicious.

Oven Spareribs
5 lbs of ribs should serve 4 people

1 cup dark brown sugar (may be reduced by 1/4 cup for a less sweet version)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
4 cloves garlic, grated
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon mild or hot pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
5 pounds spareribs, cut into 4 slabs, patted dry
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 200º F. Place each slab of ribs on a piece of foil large enough to wrap it. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Rub each slab with 1/4 of the dry rub. Tightly wrap the ribs in the foil and place them on a rack that has been placed on a sheet pan. You will need two racks and 2 sheet pans for the 4 packets of ribs. Bake the ribs for 4 hours at 200º, switching the ribs rack position after 2 hours. After the 4 hours reduce the oven temperature to 175ºF and roast for another 2 hours or until a fork easily pierces the meat. Open the packets and pour the juices into a small saucepan. Boil the juices down until they are syrupy and then add the vinegar. The ribs can be put under the broiler for a bit for extra caramelization if you like. Serve the ribs with the sauce poured over them.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Braised Duck Wings

From time to time I buy a couple of ducks at Costco because I have a longing for duck confit. As a reward I get the breasts too. I have been making stock with the carcass including the wings. This last time I decided to cook the wings separately and the results were a delicious way to enjoy the wings. Unfortunately I did not measure any of the ingredients.

Braised Duck Wings
For the broth:
     Cover 2 duck carcasses with water. Add a large carrot and an onion and simmer until you have a
     rich stock.
For the wings:
     Brown the wings from 2 ducks, add the duck broth, a generous amount of soy sauce, sesame oil,              
     mirin, 1 tsp five spice, and some ginger (fresh or powdered) and simmer covered until the wings
     are tender.
Pull the meat off the wings, cook some noodles, and serve the meat and noodles with the broth.

Monday, November 23, 2015

My Mother's Apple Pie

Everyone always loved my mother's apple pie and so she made lots of them. Her great pies were something she was known for and apple pies were her best. I have her recipe on a card in her handwriting but it is getting pretty tattered and so to make sure that I don't lose it someday I am adding mom's recipe to the blog. My mother, Leona Felder, passed away 8 years ago at age 95, but her cooking lives on in the memories of her friends and family.

Apple Pie
Pastry for double crust 9" pie,
6 large Gravenstein apples. About 8 cups cut-up apples. If Gravensteins are not available use another tart cooking apple such as Pippins or Mutsus
1 cup sugar  (I reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons flour (you may substitute 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons tapioca)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter, more if desired
Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Peel and chop the apples. Mix the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Roll out the bottom crust and place it into the pan leaving slightly wider than the rim. Sprinkle about half of the sugar mixture into the bottom. Pile in the apples. Sprinkle with the lemon juice. Top with the rest of the sugar mixture. Dot with butter. Roll out the top crust large enough that it overlaps the bottom crust. Trim, fold under the edge of the crust and crimp the edges. Cut some slits in the crust to allow steam to escape as the apples cook. Sprinkle a little sugar over the crust. Bake at 450ºF for 15 minutes and then turn the oven down to 350ºF. Bake for 45 to 60 more minutes until the crust is browned and you can see the apple mixture bubbling through the slits. If the crust is browned before the filling is cooked, cover the pie loosely with foil.

My mother would freeze the apples in pie dishes during Gravenstein season. She would do this without a crust, lining the dish with freezer wrap and removing the apples from the dish once they were frozen. When she wanted to make a pie later she could just pull the frozen apples out and put them in a crust, adding the sugar mixture at that time. When she baked the frozen pie she would set the oven at 400ºF and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the crust was browned and the filling bubbling.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Lovely Buttery Cookie From My Grandmother Josephine

I never met my grandmother Josephine because she passed away in in 1923, when my mother was only 11. One of my mother's memories of her was of a special cookie she would make that she called gaufres. They were made on the stove top in an iron. If you were to look up gaufres you would find that usually they are Belgian waffles but that is not what my grandmother made. My mother couldn't find a recipe for a cookie like her mother made, so she developed a similar recipe. This is the recipe that she devised. To make these cookies you can use a pizzelle iron.

1 cup butter
1 5/8 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
Cream the butter and the sugar. Sift the dry ingredients. Stir together the vanilla, eggs, the creamed butter and sugar and the dry ingredients. Drop one spoonful at a time of the dough into the pizzelle iron and cook until golden. You will find that the dough is very buttery and you will have to wipe up the extra butter as it melts out of the cookies. Cool on a rack flat or roll the cookies.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ottolenghi's Cauliflower Cake.

This is not a cake at all in the traditional sense. It is more like a frittata than a cake, but it is not a frittata either. It is delicious whether you eat it just after you have made it or the next day. Once you have made the original cauliflower version feel free to riff on it. You can make it with other vegetables and it will still be good. I have not had the chance to do that myself but a friend of mine has done so with very good results. I have only made one change to Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe from his book Plenty More, I roasted the cauliflower rather than simmer it in water.

Cauliflower Cake
serves 4 to 6

1 small cauliflower, outer leaves removed and broken into small florets. About 4 cups.
1 medium red onion, peeled
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
7 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Parmesan cheese or other aged cheese, about 6 ounces or more if you are feeling generous. The original recipe calls for 220 grams which translates to almost 8 ounces
melted unsalted butter for brushing the pan
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds (or 1 T sesame seeds and 1 tsp nigella seeds. I have never seen nigella seeds but that is what Ottolenghi calls for in his original recipe. They would be prettier.)
Salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 425º.  Line the base and sides of a 9 1/2" springform pan with parchment and brush with melted butter. Cover the sides with the sesame seeds.
Toss the cauliflower florets with some of the olive oil and some salt and roast until tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Turn the oven down to 400º.
Cut 4 slices from one end of the red onion and separate the rings. Chop the rest of the onion and sauté until soft in the rest of the oil with the rosemary. Let the onion cool. Meanwhile whisk together the eggs and basil, then whisk in the flour, baking powder, turmeric, Parmesan, 1 tsp salt, and plenty of pepper. When smooth, stir in the onion and cauliflower. Pour the cauliflower mixture into the pan and lay the onion rings on top. Bake in the center of the 400º oven for about 45 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and set. A knife inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. When the cake is done allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. It is best not to serve it hot. When it is completely cooled you can wrap it and refrigerate to serve the next day.