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A Kid’ll eat Ivy too, wouldn’t You?   Have you ever heard that song?

Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey. A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you? (sung with colloquial pronunciation “wooden shoe?”)”

-courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mairzy_Doats

I blindly grabbed for a cookbook this past weekend and basically turned to the cookie section (my cookie jar was empty, and therefore ready to be filled) and I made oatmeal cookies.  Not just any oatmeal cookies either.  I didn’t realize my mistake until well after the fact– these were reduced fat cookies, and I was gob-smacked, they were so good.

This means that they are not only heart healthy because of the oats, but they are also designed to have an overall higher healthfulness-quotient.  Honestly, they are one of the best cookies I can remember, and they have chocolate, which only makes them better.  The recipe comes from the Joy of Cooking.

Oven:  375F

Mix the dry ingredients:

1-1/4 c flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

Beat together

1/4 c corn or canola oil

2 Tbsp butter, softened

1 c dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1/3 c light or dark corn syrup (I used light, but dark could only be better)

1 Tbsp milk

2-1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine the wet and dry ingredients and add:

2 c old-fashion rolled oats

1 c  chocolate chips.

Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes, to allow the dry ingredients to hydrate.  It will be a soft dough, and this recipe will make 3 dozen cookies, if you portion them at one tablespoon each.  I pushed them down slightly with my fingers dipped in water.   Make sure you space them well apart and bake them for 7-10 minutes on lightly greased baking sheets, rotating them half-way through baking.  After you remove the baking sheet from the oven, allow the cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks.  These might become one of your favorite cookies too.

Come to think of it, next time I make these, I will substitute 2 Tbsp cocoa for an equal amount of flour.  More later.

Gratitude to Gary B for helping to procure and mount a pegboard next to the stove, which will improve my ability to cook- mainly because I will not have to sort through 2 junk-drawers of specialized cooking utensils.

 

You all know exactly what I’m talking about.  You have a junk drawer too 🙂

When we lived in the upper peninsula of Michigan, an energetic Moravian preacher’s wife introduced our family to Ebelskivers.  I have one of those heritage, cast iron cooking vessels in my kitchen to this very day.  The Danish word means apple pancakes, or something close to that.  We spent entire Sundays stuffing our faces with these spherical pancakes, until nearly comatose.  We ate them, but we were also expected to spend time at the stove.

Recently I made a batch and asked my friend Debbie to taste the recipe.   She was already familiar with them, and happy to help out.  They’re small apple pancakes, either baked on the stovet0p with a slice of apple in the batter- or filled with applesauce in the middle, as they’re cooling.  We ate them with jam in the middle, dusted with confectioners sugar.

It’s a ridiculously rich, yeast raised batter, spiced primarily with cardamom and lemon peel, and therefore recognizably Scandinavian.  You spoon the batter into a special skillet with deep indentations.

They cook fairly quickly, but if you only have one pan and a crowd of people, someone, or a small team will have to be a martyr and simply do nothing but make the ebelskivers, but in the end your sacrifice will earn you unfailing appreciation.

If you haven’t made them before, the only real trick you have to master is actually flipping the little cakes in the pan neatly.  It takes practice, sometimes quite a bit of practice- so you have to be patient with yourself at the beginning.  I use a little spatula and a dessert fork- that method works well for me; you could probably also use a nice long wooden skewer to just catch the edge in order to make the process a little easier.

Sprinkle with a dusting of confectioners sugar, and at the table, split them open with a spoon and fill them with a little preserves or applesauce- anything that you like as a sweet filling actually.  But be careful- you can easily lose count how many of them you eat!

Danish Aebleskivers- I’ve been using this recipe for 35 years

3-1/2 c flour

5 large eggs, separated

1/4 cup sugar

2 c milked, scalded and cooled

1/2 c butter, melted

1 cake of yeast (or 2-1/4 tsp dry, proofed in 1/4 c of the milk, with a pinch of sugar)

grated rind of 1 lemon, or 1 tsp vanilla (I always use the lemon)

optional crushed cardamom

Put flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center, and place the egg yolks, sugar, 1-3/4 cup milk and melted butter.  Work together well with spoon.   Add proofed yeast, flavoring and salt.  Beat everything until smooth.  Now beat the egg whites till stiff and fold into mixture.  Set aside until doubled.  Heat the well seasoned and greased ebelskiver pan over medium heat until hot  and put a spoonful of the batter in each well and carefully check to see if they are browning after about 2 minutes or so.  They actually bake fairly quickly, so when you turn them, try to do that quickly as well.  They will  be done in another 2-3 minutes.  Regulate the heat carefully on the pan, because sometimes it will get too hot.  Between batches brush a little more oil or melted butter in the pan to prevent sticking.

Put a little powdered sugar on top, fill with your favorite filling and enjoy!

Four of us got together a couple of weekends ago. (Catherine, Jon & Gary and me) and we baked a small brace of pheasants that my brother in law harvested before Thanksgiving.  Pheasants are Asiatic in origin:  Excellent, extremely lean game birds.  I had supper 30 years ago with a Native friend at a famous  Austrian Minneapolis restaurant (I’ll remember the name of the place at 2AM this morning), and I was jealous and excited when his Pheasant Wellington arrived.  Later I learned that it was based on the classic Beef Wellington preparation.

That evening, I had a stew of wild mixed fowl, so I had no reason to complain.  We tasted each others’ entree, but I honestly never imagined that I’d get a chance to try and recreate his Wellington thing. The Dubious Citty Katt- and her international food conspiracy- was the one who made the whole Pheasant Wellington a reality.

I told her on a Friday that I had a Xmas present of frozen fully -dressed-out, wild pheasant from my sister’s husband (he is an excellent hunter), & remembered out-loud the Pheasant Wellington idea to her.  In only a day or 2, we were making  liver pate and duxelles (a rich mushroom paste) , according to her instructions.

Gary and Jon joined the project, so we had the birds, some salad and a mess of dandelion greens sauteed with green apples, and we ate it all with Anna’s expert crab apple jelly and ginger preserves, instead of a a rich sauce.

If you’re lazy like me, go to the store & buy some frozen puff-pastry dough.  Don’t be scared of it, even though you have every right to be scared.  I was at first.  Buy a box of it for $3.99 and let it thaw in your fridge overnight.  Consult your Beef Wellington recipe collection and look up Pheasant Wellington online.  (*I looked at the Joy of Cooking, and James Beard’s American Cookery too).

Now, make some chicken liver paste.  This is what you’re going to spread over the top of the seared and cooled pheasant, before you place it on a blanket of duxelles ( please continue reading) over an expanse of puff pastry, to within 1″ of its edges.  I rolled out the pastry to probably 14 x 9, and cut off the top 5th with a pizza cutter, and reserved it for show-off filigrees of vines and leaves.

After all this, heat a 9″ cast iron skillet with a spoonful of olive oil, 2 Tbsp of Bacon fat and 2 Tbsp of butter.  Melt it altogether and throw in a good sized, minced shallot, along with twice that amount of minced onion.  Don’t stop there:  Add a generous grind of black pepper, some grey salt,  and pulverize dried thyme between your fingers.

Catherine brought a few spoonfuls of Grand Marnier (a French, cognac-based orange liqueur) and we added that.  Let the chicken livers cook until done,  10 minutes or less, and then let them cool as quickly as possible.  There is more to be done with them soon.

Now you will need a pound of mushrooms, trimmed, brushed and minced  into atoms in a CuisineArt, before you place them a generous iron or stainless steel skillet over medium high heat.  There are versions of making duxelle that instruct you to put the minced mushrooms in a kitchen towel and you have to wring the moisture out of them before sauteeing, but we didn’t go to that extreme.  Your skillet will have a spoonful of olive oil, a couple of Tbsp of butter and a couple more Tbsp of either duck fat or (chicken) schmaltz.  Remember, pheasant is very lean.  So throw in a 1/4 cup of cream too.  1/2 & 1/2 is fine.

Mince a large shallot and a small onion, with a couple bay leaves, a generous grind of black pepper and let everything start to sweat and sizzle in all that hot fat.  Grind a little nutmeg in there too- the pheasant will benefit from it, which is probably not as true if you were making the beef version.  Cool the duxelle as quickly and completely as possible.   Your duxelle must be completely cool when you spread it over the pastry, otherwise you’ll have a big mess.

Conventional Beef Wellington preparations use a whole beef tenderloin, but this blog entry is a jazz improvisation.  So I used probably 2 small, deboned birds, approximately equal to 2 small game hens (which are in truth very youthful chickens).  I quickly seasoned and seared them brown- for just a couple of minutes on each side- and they cooled, along with everything else.

We made 2 small pastry coffins of pheasant, liver pate inside on top, mushroom paste on the bottom.

Everything was surrounded with the super rich puff pastry crust on the outside, and the birds inside were completely encased by the duxelle and pastry, vented with the 3 traditional round vent-holes and baked first at 425F for 10 minutes, and then 375 for another 1/2 hour.

So there you are.  A collection of novices experimenting with a justly famous dish.