Tuesday, November 19, 2013
My 4-year-old Sous Chef had spent the night and when I asked her what she wanted for breakfast, she declared, "French Toast"!
I knew I had some leftover pound cake from one of my cake classes, denuded of its frosting, hiding in the back of the refrigerator for just such an occasion.
Little Sousie is getting quite good at her cooking skills. She stands on a chair at the kitchen counter. She cracked 6 eggs and only got one bit of shell in egg #1. I gave her a cutting board and a butter knife to cube a few pieces of pound cake and she did a fine job while I worked on another board making the remainder of the cake cubes.
I measured the milk (carton is still heavy for her) and she poured from the cup into the bowl with the eggs. Then she whisked to blend. I handed her a half bag of chocolate chips and suggested she add as many as she wanted. She made herself a little pile of chips on her cutting board to sample and dumped the rest into the egg mixture.
I poured in a little vanilla and asked (silly question) if she wanted cinnamon. She loves sim-a-non! Again, I let her decide how much to add. Lastly, we tossed in our cake cubes and stirred to coat them. A couple of little hands might have been used.
After the muffins came out of the oven, and we waited a few minutes for cooling, she enjoyed sprinkling them beautifully with powdered sugar.
Just in case her mother is reading this, I want it to be known that we drank a smoothie made with fresh pineapple, banana, pear, yogurt, and almond milk while we waited for the muffins to bake.
Pound Cake French Toast Muffins (with Chocolate)
8 - 10 cups cubed pound cake or dense bread
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
Chocolate chips, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 12 cup muffin pan.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Mix in the vanilla, cinnamon, and cake cubes. Divide into the muffin cups.
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes until set and golden brown. Let cool in pans for about 10 minutes. Remove muffins to a cooling rack and dust with powdered sugar.
Friday, November 15, 2013
When I was a small girl, my parents bought their first home, a fixer-upper. It was a rather wild place and they set about taming it. The yard was overgrown and included a couple of abandoned "out buildings". I believe the one I adopted as a playhouse had been a storage shed, with two rooms and a primitive wooden latch which spun on a nail to keep the door closed. There was also an old hen house; that one was unmistakable.
While workers came to do extensive work on the actual house, I set about exploring the very large yard which was on a dead-end street right next to some woods. As carpenters dropped scraps of lumber, I confiscated them. For my playhouse, I made old wire spools into tables. I made "seats", "lamps" and more. With an old straw broom from the shed, I swept pine straw into a perimeter for my yard.
Nearby was a great fig bush laden with delightful, ripe, purple, succulent figs. I would sit underneath the shade of that bush, in the hot Alabama afternoon sun, and help myself to fig after fig. I can remember my fascination as I tore open those figs with my bare hands, to reveal the peculiar pink insides which were oozing with nectar. I would eat the soft flesh, toss the rind onto the ground and pull another. And another.
I was so sad when Mama had those unsightly old sheds torn down. I was heartbroken when she cut down my fig bush. I cried and I begged but she would have nothing of it. That old abominable thing did not fit into her proper landscaping plans.
In fairness, my parents really did turn that old house and property into a show place. But I will never forget the precious hours of innocent happiness in my playhouse shack and the aroma and taste of those tree-ripened figs still warm from the sun.
Fresh Fig Compote
8 ounces fresh figs
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. honey
Pinch of salt
Cut stems off the figs and cut into quarters.
Combine butter, brown sugar, and honey in a medium cast iron skillet. Cook, over high heat, stirring until syrup begins to bubble. Add figs and stir to coat well.
Place the plan under the broiler for about 5 minutes to caramelize the figs.
Delicious served over oatmeal, French toast, pancakes, toasted pound cake, or ice cream.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
I took a cake decorating class at our local community college. Nineteen people started the class and ten finished it. People gave differing reasons for being there; some wanted to earn money making cakes. The instructor is a professional baker who specializes in wedding cakes. Myself, I was looking for a social outlet, creativity, and fun.
Some of my former coworkers would probably find the concept of me, Rocquie, taking a cake decorating class confounding. You see, I have always shunned those supermarket birthday cakes everyone at the office loves. You know the ones, the garish, brightly colored concoctions made completely of sugar, and artificial flavorings and colors that taste horrible. And let me not get started on the grease factor. (I have cleaned the break room after those birthday parties--it takes much soap and hot water to clean that
I have always wanted to say that.
Now I have the tools and skills to pipe. I can pipe out those beautiful deviled eggs, that basket weave of mashed potatoes on the shepherd's pie, the twice baked potatoes, and most importantly and what I really wanted to learn, is decorating beautiful Christmas cookies.
For my final project, I made an old fashioned pound cake (posted here) and piped rosettes with gingerbread flavored Swiss meringue buttercream frosting. No artificial anything.
Gingerbread Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
4 ounces liquid pasteurized egg whites
10 ounces dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. molasses
12 ounces soft unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Whisk together the sugar and egg whites. Add pinch of salt.
Heat, whisking constantly, with mixing bowl over simmering water until mixture reaches 160 degrees or until all of the brown sugar has dissolved.
Place the mixing bowl on mixer fitted with whisk attachment and beat on high for 10 minutes.
Switch to paddle attachment, add the butter, and mix on low speed until thick.
Add vanilla and spices; continue to beat on low speed until combined.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
My sister-in-law gave me this recipe, which came from her church's cookbook, quite a few years ago. I like to make it when the cornbread is co-starring in the meal rather than playing a background role. It is perfect with chili and I recently served it with Braised Greens with Apples for a simple supper.
This recipe makes enough for a crowd and also freezes well to reheat later.
2 large onions, chopper
6 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. milk
1 (15 ounce) can cream style corn
1 (1 pound) package corn muffin mix
1 cup sour cream
2 cups (8 ounce) sharp cheddar cheese
Saute onions in butter until golden. In medium bowl, mix eggs and milk. Add corn and muffin mix. Spoon batter into buttered 13x9 inch casserole dish and spoon sauteed onions on top. Spread sour cream over onion and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 35 minutes or until puffed and golden. Let stand 10 minutes. Cut into squares to serve.