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I have not yet completely decided whether I love pizza crust yeast or not.  I definitely do love the resulting pizza that comes out of the oven – and I have now experimented with the product 4 times, as of today.  Here is the brand that I used, which is not an endorsement.    http://www.pizzacrustyeast.com/new_pizza_yeast.html .  One of the ingredients that distinguishes this yeast product is sorbitan monostearate.

SORBITAN MONOSTEARATE … Emulsifier: Cakes, candy, frozen pudding, icing. Like mono- and diglycerides and polysorbates, this additive keeps oil and water mixed together. In chocolate candy, it prevents the discoloration that normally occurs when the candy is warmed up and then cooled down.

The above citation comes from http://www.becomehealthynow.com/article/dietbad/31/3/ .  The website appears to err on the side of caution, which I appreciate, but also does not say anything particularly negative about sorbitan monostearate.  I am still suspicious of long chemical names, so that is why I feel undecided.

My phone cam won’t upload a photo today, so please imagine your favorite super crunchy thin-crust pizza.

There is a difference between the preparation on the product-package, and the website listed above.  The product from the super market lists 3 Tbsp of olive oil among the ingredients.  I followed the directions on the packet.

I pre-heated my oven to 500F  for 25 minutes with a baking stone inside.  You can also easily use a metal baking sheet.

1-3/4 to 2-1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp salt (I used a scant teaspoon)

1-1/2 tsp sugar

3 tbsp olive oil (or oil of your choice)

1 packet of pizza crust yeast

2/3 cup quite warm water.  That means between 120-130F.  Yes you read correctly.

I made this easy on myself & used a food processor to mix the dough.  Everything goes into the Cuisinart at once, and pulse the dough into a firm, soft, silky dough ball.  Hardly takes a minute or so.  It is now ready to use!  I have divided the dough in half & put some in the fridge for later use, simply popping it into a plastic sandwich bag.  You now have enough dough for a personal pizza, or an appetizer pizza for two.

Rub your hands with a little olive oil and begin flattening the dough into a rough disc.  Don’t worry about making a perfect circle, because that isn’t the point.  I you actually get a circle, good for you.  If you get a lop-sided oval or a trapezoid, all the better.  You can’t buy that in the freezer case, and it will show that this is homemade.  The dough will be surprisingly supple and yielding.  Drape the disc over the top of one fist and gently stretch, tugging lightly with your other hand and giving a quarter turn.  This will begin to shape the base as you repeat several times.  You can also hold one edge with one hand, and allow the weight of the dough to stretch itself, as you manage the stretch with your other hand.  Don’t worry if it tears or gets little thick areas.  Play with it, practice with it.  Start over and enjoy this new toy, if you’re a first timer.  Toss it in the air if you’re unafraid.  You can also use a rolling pin, or the tips of your fingers and tease it out on a flat surface if you don’t feel especially daring.

Gradually make an approximately 12″ diameter more-or-less flat bread and lay it down on your oven peel, sprinkled with semolina or flour – or on your baking sheet, sprinkled with semolina/flour.  Make sure that it can slide around and doesn’t stick to the surface.  If you follow my suggestions, your finished crust will be about 1/4″ , a little thicker at the edges.

Toppings:

I kept it very simple

2/3 cup very well drained tomato (I used home-canned plain tomatoes, crushed – you can also use fresh)

salt & pepper to taste

big pinch each of oregano and basil, fresh or dry

big pinch dried hot pepper flakes

small clove garlic grated or sliced paper thin

scant cup of your favorite cheese(s) – I used gruyer or mozzarella, or both

a couple Tbsp of grated, shaved or slivered Parmesan or Romano cheese

Add some shaved scallions or shallots, chopped parsley, chopped olives, a handful of arugula or anything else that you have, if you wish.  Today I also crumbled 1/2 an Italian style turkey sausage over the pie. I think the only rule is not to overload the crust, which will tend to make it soggy.  You want the crust to co-star with the flavors you top it with.  Crush the first five ingredients gently together & spread around the dough, to within 1/2″ of the edge, adding sausage or other protein if you have it on hand, and top over all with your cheese.  Some people like to brush a little oil around the edge of the crust, but you don’t have to.

Place your pizza into the screamingly hot oven and you will be surprised at how quickly it is ready. Maybe 10 minutes or less.  Give it a 180 degree turn after 5 minutes, and then start watching it like a hawk.  When you get some nice browning or charring on the crust remove from the oven and place immediately on a cooling rack to let the crust develop.  It is actually ready to serve, but it is also volcanically hot, so I let it cool slightly before slicing & serving.  You might never buy or order a pizza again in your life.

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Citty Katt procured a beautiful 5 pound duck, and we got together with Hortensia and Chris to sample a new duck recipe:  Duck with Sauerkraut, stuffed with Apples and Currants.  We all thought it was a very good recipe, and it went well with Wild Rice and a shaved vegetable salad.

This preparation can be found across continental Europe and east into Russia. The popular pairing of duck and sauerkraut can be found in French, German, Czech, and other national cuisines.  The richness of the bird is balanced by the tang of the cabbage; fresh, and dried fruits complete the sweet, sour and salty profile.

The shopping list is unbelievably short.  Duck, sauerkraut, garlic, salt & pepper, apples, raisins (I used dried currants) and apple cider for basting.

(recipe)

-a five-pound duck

-1 clove garlic, smashed into atoms

-salt and pepper to taste (I used a tsp of each)

-2 pounds sauerkraut

4-6 good cooking apples (we used Gala)

-1 cup raisins or dried currants

-apple juice or cider for basting, approximately 2-3 cups in all

P1010813Pat the bird dry and rub the minced garlic, salt and pepper inside and outside the whole duck.

P1010814Meanwhile, have your apples pared and quartered – or better yet, in eighths.  Mix the apples and raisins/currants together and stuff into the cavity of the bird.

P1010815We trussed the duck by using some wooden skewers and kitchen twine to close the cavity, followed by tying the legs together at the end; and finally take a good length of twine and binding the wings to the whole, making a compact, uniform package.  Place on a roasting rack

P1010817Drain the sauerkraut and lightly rinse away some of the brine, which is very salty.  Pack the sauerkraut  loosely around the base of the duck, and now you are ready to roast it.

P1010819Carefully empty a cup of apple juice or cider over all, and place in a 325F oven.  It will take 20-40 minutes per pound to roast.  We cooked the 5-pound bird for almost three hours, basting it with a cup of apple juice nearly every 45 minutes.

P1010826The bird is done when a meat thermometer in between the thigh and the breast reads about 150-155F.  Remove from oven and cover with aluminum foil , allowing to relax for 15-20 minutes.  The internal temperature will rise another 5-10 degrees.  Duck is often served pink or rare.

We carved the duck, conveyed it to the table on a bed of sauerkraut, with apple stuffing all the around the perimeter, family style.  If you can find any way to locate a reasonably priced duck at the market- or have a wild duck – give this recipe a try.  We gave it eight thumbs up.

P1010836

(photos C. Katt)

zhiishiib

What an amazing Indigenous culinary herb I discovered yesterday at the Mexican grocer- a zingy, very fresh, pungent plant called Papalo – or in the language spoken by the Aztecs, Papalotl, which translates to Butterfly, perhaps because the scent of the plant attracts them.

As I was looking around the produce section I bumped into an acquaintance of mine & he was holding a bunch of this plant that I couldn’t identify.  It was so fragrant I could detect its powerful scent from 3 steps away.  At first I mistook it for Nasturtium leaves.  It packed that kind of spicy, sharp kick.  I asked my friend, ‘What IS that plant??’

He responded, ‘Oh haven’t you ever had this?  You should try it.  It’s called papalo.’  I started asking 20 questions – and he said that you can eat it raw – and I took a leaf that he offered me while we were standing in line for the cash register.  As the impact of the flavor sunk in, I realized that there were some familiar notes, and also some flavor elements that I can’t even describe – I grabbed a bunch & brought it home and started looking up info, and immediately started cooking with it.  I was crazy excited over this discovery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made fried squash blossoms rolled in  blue Native cornmeal, with a filling of rice & beans and carnitas (pork), flavored with this magnificent plant.  In some quarters it is called Summer Coriander, Bolivian Coriander, and various other names.  It grows wild throughout Arizona, Mexico and West Texas.  How have I never heard of this plant before???

Here are a few useful links with more information & recipes.

http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/Articles/Exotic-Herbs-Spices-and-Salts-639/papalo.aspx/

http://www.appalachianfeet.com/2010/05/07/how-to-grow-and-use-papalo-wrecipes/

http://nicholsgardennursery.wordpress.com/2007/09/27/papalo-or-summer-cilantro/

See if you can lay hands on this amazing herb which has been used for thousands of years by Native Peoples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the California goldfields in the 1840s and following, emerged a heritage recipe unique to the US – and the Judicial System.  If you want to read about a monstrous period in American history, please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Gold_Rush .

While this event resulted in the (conservatively estimated) deaths or massacres of 100,000 Native people, it also increased the population of San Francisco from a sleepy mission village- on the Ohlone Tribes ancestral domains – to a boom town of nearly 40,000 in 2 years.  Of course there was every crime and vice imaginable, from genocide to petty thievery.  Local communities and governments took justice into their own hands and doled out punishments of every description, whether they were proportional to the crimes or not.  So of course, many criminals met the hangman’s noose.  One town or another became so rife with lawlessness that it became known as Hangtown, due to the frequent, characteristic administration of capital punishment.  The origins of this dish emerge from legend, when one man was offered his Last Meal before walking up the scaffold.

Because of the turbo economy that was rising in California, and bouying the nation following the end of the Mexican-American War, the US went to the gold standard.  In those hedonistic gold territories, there was skyrocketing inflation- – can you imagine a hamburger for $50, a quart of milk for $75, and fresh eggs $20 apiece?  One unapologetic criminal apocryphally made history by asking for the 3 most expensive ingredients he imagined money could buy at the time:  Oysters, eggs and bacon cooked in a skillet together.  Presumably he met his Maker with his appetite fully satisfied by something like The $1000 Breakfast.

I first learned about this dish when I was reading Evan Jones’ amazing gastromical history, ‘American Food,’ which I briefly reviewed in this blog a couple of years ago.  If you want to try this very rich and delicious dish, even if you’re not planning to kick the bucket, I suggest putting it on your Bucket List.  You already know the 3 main ingredients – this is how I cook it.

For each serving –

1/2 dozen fresh shucked oysters in their liquor

3 strips of bacon

1-2 eggs

Also have on hand:

cornmeal or crushed cracker crumbs to bread the oysters (I used Blue Cornmeal today)

tabasco sauce

black pepper

a little cream to mix with the eggs

oil or butter for frying

Fry your bacon until brown and crispy and set aside on paper towels, draining most of the bacon fat out of a large heavy skillet.  Replace with some vegetable oil or butter and return the pan to medium heat while you bread your oysters.  First whisk an egg with a few dashes of tabasco sauce and season with some black pepper.  Dip your oysters into the egg, and then bread them with cornmeal, cracker meal (or flour or Panko bread crumbs if you like).  Brown the oysters well on all sides, and keep in mind that they don’t require much cooking time – probably just a few minutes.

Now beat your egg with a little cream, milk or water and pour over the cooked oysters and cook, stirring occassionally until the eggs are set but still softly scrambled.

-you can crumble the bacon into the cooking eggs

-you could cook each ingredient separately, making an actual omlette

-you could cook the oysters and eggs together and serve the bacon on top like a frittata

-you could look online and find out probably countless variations of this dish from the deconstructed-highbrow, to the shanty-town fry cook’s original hoosegow no-frills version.  However you decide to approach this little piece of culinary history, it’s easy, it’s truly delicious, and it’s fast…considering that it is actually slow food.

Well, I was hanging out with the Dubious Citty Katt and a dozen friends of a Sunday evening’s repast.  I made a big mess of greens – which are now plentiful and a dollar a bunch at the farmer’s market.  For $3 worth of greens, 2 cups of rice and 1 cup of dried beans, this dish is as easy as 1,2,3.

(photo courtesy Brian Foster)

Get you a deep cooking pot – I often use a cast iron Dutch Oven – with 2-3 Tbsps of olive oil, or other fat.

saute over medium heat:

1 heaping cup chopped scallions (or a medium onion)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

1 jalapeno pepper, simply slit up the middle, but still whole

After these ingredients have become transluscent, add:

1 handful of fresh basil, torn (or 2 tsp dry)

big handful cilantro chopped roughly

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp Old Bay seasoning

1 tsp dried crayfish or dried shrimp powder

1-2 tsp smoked paprika

6-8 cups torn/chopped greens:  this could be any one or more of the following –

mustard, turnip, beet, chard, collards, spinach, kale (curly, red, Tuscan, etc), wild greens (lamb’s quarters, sour grass)

1/2 cup vinegar – I used cider vinegar

1-2 cups water, broth or stock

Cover the pot loosely & cook for 15-30 minutes over a medium flame.  It is well known that many people grew up with greens that were cooked for an hour or two, but I have always found that 30 minutes or less gives you plenty of flavor, retains more nutrients & fiber.  Stir from time to time.  Remove from flame & allow to cool.  Don’t worry if you have  what seems to be an excess of cooking liquid.

Beans

1 cup dried beans, sorted and washed

3-4 cups water

Soak the beans overnight – or if you want to use the quick method- bring to the boil over high heat, remove from heat and cover.  Allow to stand for an hour.  Make sure the beans are well covered with water & return the pot to a medium high flame and bring to a boil once again – lower the flame to medium low, cover the pot & cook for 30-45 minutes until you have achieved the Five Bean Rule:  Give the beans a quick stir & select 5 random beans; give each of them a little squish between two fingers, and if all five are soft enough to squish – the whole mess of beans is done.  If one or more is still a little starchy or dinty, give the beans a little more cooking time.  And if you need more cooking water, make sure it’s hot water.  And never add salt to beans until after they are done cooking, or they will be hard and indigestible.

Rice

for 12 people I used 2 cups of white rice

Rinse the rice in a sieve or in the cooking pot until it has given up most of its exterior starch and the water runs clear.  Add a tsp salt & 3 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, cover & turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes.  Fluff with a fork

Now comes the fun part:  Mix all your greens and pot liquor, beans & pot liquor and the rice in a big vessel – this is ready to serve right away, but it only gains virtue with a day or 2 in the refrigerator.

I’m trying to figure out why my entire posting disappeared – I will come back and recreate the recipe soon 🙂  

I can’t remember when I began making fried rice, but it serves well as an emergency meal, or a nice dinner for a few people.  If you keep your cupboard stocked w rice (white or brown), tofu (or any leftover cooked meat); and if you have a handful of Asian specialty ingredients, you can make this version of fried rice – it’s the first time I’m trying to write this thing down, which changes every time I make it.  My general approach doesn’t change much however.  It’s an economical dish, and it refrigerates well, if you have any left over.

I have never used a lot of oil or salt when I make this dish – and I often avoid restaurant fried-rice, generally because it’s saturated w oil and soy sauce.  I limit my soy sauce (and a little fish sauce) to the marinade for the protein- in this case tofu.

I’ll be as faithful as possible to the measurements and proportions I use.  First of all, rinse well a cup of white rice and cook with 1-1/2 cups of water- optionally adding a scant tsp of salt or less, to your liking.   If you use brown rice, it will take  longer to cook and will require additional cooking liquid – but it also packs a lot more flavor – and it’s a whole grain.  Fluff w a fork and allow to cool, while you prepare your protein.  Alternately, you could cook your rice w an equivalent measure of vegetable-, or chicken stock, maybe w a Star Anise thrown in for good measure- this will provide an almost indefinable flavor and some richness, and I highly recommend it.

Marinade:

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp fish sauce

2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (or Umeboshi plum vinegar)

2 Tbsp rice wine

2 Tbsp water

Stir these liquid ingredients together and pour over 1/2 pound of tofu, cut into 3/4″ cubes (or a generous cup of shredded cooked chicken, leftover pork, sliced cooked beef, etc.)  Allow your protein to repose in the marinade, and as Alice B. Toklas says, acquire virtue.  This can be 10 minutes, or overnight in the refrigerator.  Meanwhile, have your vegetables ready for stir fry.

You can get prepackaged Asian-style veg in the freezer section of your grocery store.  I have often used a couple of cups of ordinary frozen mixed vegetables, and that makes a perfectly wonderful fried rice.

Today I prepped mine fresh:

1 med carrot, cut into thin matchsticks

2 med stalks celery, sliced thinly on the diagonal

2 med scallions, sliced thinly on the diagonal

1/4 of a small head of cabbage, cut into med-fine shreds

1/2 green pepper, sliced thinly

1 small jalapeno pepper, sliced thinly on the diagonal

You will also need:

1 tsp finely grated ginger (or more)

1 finely minced or grated clove of garlic (or more)

1/2 tsp dried, ground shrimp powder

Since all your ingredients are now in place, you can start really cooking, and you are now only minutes away from meal-time.  It all starts moving very quickly.

Start with an egg or two, whisked in a bowl with 2 tsp cooking oil and 1/4 tsp white pepper.  In your wok or a large skillet place a Tbsp of cooking oil (and a few drops of sesame oil) and quickly let the egg set in a relaxed thin sheet.  Remove to a plate or cutting board and slice into slender ribbons.  Set aside.

Next, transfer your tofu (or other protein) from the marinade to the hot wok or skillet surface, with 1 Tbsp of cooking oil, and a few drops of sesame oil.  Allow to gain a little color and heat through very well, tossing lightly over med/high heat for a minute or two.  Remove the cooked protein from the heat, add to your collection of cooked egg; wipe out your wok or skillet and bring it back to heat.

Add ginger, garlic and dried, ground shrimp (or a bit of shrimp paste) if you happen to have it at your elbow, to the hot oil, and  agitate vigorously, careful not to allow anything to burn and become bitter.  At once, add all of your veg and toss around, until they are cooked as crisp or limp as your heart desires.  I usually only cook mine for 2-3 minutes, which allows them to retain their color, nutrition, texture and flavor.  Eat your vegetables! 🙂

Add your cooked rice to the veg and incorporate gently, adding the protein and cooked egg at the end.

Finally, I added a 1/4 c of chopped cilantro, and a couple of Tbsp of Thai holy basil.

This basic recipe I’ve made over the years, dozens of different ways, and it always somehow comes out well.  I forgot the bean sprouts.

A few times a year I try to prepare recipes that I have never previously attempted in my life – sometimes because I lacked certain equipment, or ingredients, or nerve.  Yes, I have been intimidated by everything from Chopped Liver to Paella, MaPoDofu to Pheasant Wellington.

I found a gorgeous Paellera (a paella pan) at a church basement sale 2 days ago, and as I work up the courage to make paella in the near future, I decided to rev-up my engine by making Bouillabaisse for the first time.  I don’t know why I waited this long.

This recipe is adapted from the New York Times International Cookbook, which was gifted to me by a friend many years ago.  As I started fishing around for recipes (no pun intended) I finally settled on this recipe source, and incorporated parts of Bouillabaisse I & Bouillabaisse II.  I didn’t have any clams or mussels; however, I did have about a pound of good frozen cod, so I used that as well as some cooked and peeled frozen shrimp as a starting point.

I will record the version I adapted, but it is important to look at the original recipes, because they represent authentic approaches.  My attempt is a home-cook’s improvisation with ingredients at hand.

1 to 1-1/2# striped bass, black bass or other white, flesh,non-oily fish, about one & a half inch thick steaks

2 T olive oil

1 T butter

1 large onion, chopped (about 2 c)

1 large stalk celery, chopped

1 bay laurel leaf, dried or fresh

1 generous tsp saffron

salt & freshly ground pepper

1 cup tomato puree, plus 1 more generous cup or so of tomato pulp

generous pinch of dried thyme, or slightly more if it is fresh

1 big clove minced garlic

Tabasco sauce, several good strong dashes will do

4 c good fish stock (it can be found in some supermarkets, or you can make it w very little trouble, using fish bones, shrimp shells, etc)

about 18 shrimp (I used a 70-90 count/pound)

big pinch of anise seed, finely ground to dust

2-3 T chopped parsley

Over medium heat add the olive oil & butter to a deep, heavy vessel, adding onion, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, ground anise seed,and crumble the saffron well into the mix.  Bring to a boil, adding 1 cup of tomato, thyme and Tabasco.  I didn’t have fresh tomatoes, but I did have some very good home-canned tomatoes, so I used that – you will be using at least 2, and perhaps almost 3 cups of tomato in total.  Allow everything to simmer for 1/2 hour, after adding the fish stock, and reducing the heat to low.

After this has had a chance to mingle and the fragrances marry, and your kitchen starts to smell really good, lay your fish over the stew, cover and continue to cook gently for another 8-10 minutes.

About 5 minutes from the end of cooking add your shrimp (or other shellfish, and cook according to convention, which would otherwise be about 10 minutes)

Follow by strewing in chopped parsley, and gently incorporating, using the spoon to separate and flake the cooked fish into generous pieces that will fit onto a spoon.  If you use white wine (that would probably be about 1/2 c) and Pernod (an anise flavored liqueur- probably a Tbsp) you could add these during cooking.

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Serve with croutons – or as I did with hot buttered toast, from homemade bread.  This may not be the most faithful rendition of bouillabaisse evar, but making this helped me lose my fear of making it again.

A world famous dish can be created in your kitchen, and the grocery bill doesn’t have to be huge.  I took short cuts, but if you can lay hands on some clams, lobster or mussels – they would go in the pot, too.  The only really costly item is saffron, and there aren’t much ways around that.  It’s an overarching characteristic of the dish, in color & flavor.  You can almost eat bouillabaisse just by breathing it in.

I’d like to forward this recipe from a wonderful, compact Thai cookbook, and I’m sorry that I didn’t take photos.  I’ve mentioned this author in one of my cookbook gazetteers, a year or so back.  Eng Tie Ang published a modest volume of Thai cuisine in ‘Delightful Thai Cooking’, in 1990.

Fifteen years ago, I was happy to find her paperback title in a used book store in Minneapolis, which taught me how to shop for Thai recipe ingredients.  This was proved to be both complex and simple.  Fortunately we also have an excellent specialty Thai superstore in Minneapolis, http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2006/08/16/twin-cities-best-asian-markets

Gaeng Pet Gai (chicken curry)

4 T veg oil

10 dried red chilies, soaked, drained, chopped (I used Szechuan chilies and a hand-held food processor)

1 yellow onion chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

a 1″ dried, or 1 tsp ground galangal root (Kha, or galanga). It is sometimes referred to as Thai ginger in the local markets.  It’s also a stand-out flavor in a world-famous coconut chicken curry soup w straw mushrooms.  Do not be a stranger to this unfamiliar and beautiful spice.

1 trimmed stalk fresh lemon grass, cut into 2″ lengths (I also give them a good pounding w a wooden mallet before I slice them for cooking.  It brings all their beautiful perfume into the final dish.)

4 T fresh chopped coriander

1 tsp ground nutmeg (this ingredient caught me by surprise, but it’s good)

6 kaffir lime leaves (I used dried, but fresh is always better)

1 T ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt (I used a little less, and it was fine)

2 boned, skinned chicken breasts, in 1″ cubes (I used 4 whole thighs)

1 can bamboo shoot (6 oz), cut into fine shreds (I used an equivalent amount of shredded, sour young bamboo shoots)

one 14-oz can coconut milk

20 fresh Thai basil leaves

Heat oil in a medium sized pot, stir-frying the chilies, onion and garlic until they become highly fragrant.  Add galangal root, lemon grass, fresh coriander, nutmeg, kaffir lime leaves, ground coriander, cumin and salt.  Cook for a couple of minutes over med-high heat.

Add chicken and agitate for a minute or 2 before adding bamboo shoots (or bamboo shoot-kraut) and coconut milk.  Cover & simmer 20 min over low heat, until chicken is tender.  Fold in the Thai basil leaves, and serve over steamed white rice (of course Thai rice is recommended, but I use Basmati).

*if you use powdered or dried lemon grass -or galanga powder, add both during the last 10 min of cooking, according to Madame Eng Tie Ang

Here are a few recipes that visitors online have requested at one time or another –  My favorite Shoofly, Hoppin John, and Moravian Love Feast Buns.  I don’t have photos for any of these at the moment.

There are 2 types of Shoofly Pie- one is generally referred to as ‘wet’, the other ‘dry’. This is the wet variety (that just means it’s not dry like cake- it should come out very moist, almost like a bread pudding.) Some people only put the crumbs on the bottom of the pie shell, others put the molasses mixture on the bottom. I put most of the crumbs on the bottom, and scatter the reserve over the top.

unbaked 9″ pie pastry
3/4 c flour
1/2 c br sugar
1/2 t cinnamon (generous)
dash salt
2 T butter
1/2 c molasses (I use dark)
3/4 c very hot water
1 egg yolk, beaten
1/2 t baking soda

Cut the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl mix molasses, soda & hot water- beat in the egg yolk quickly so it doesn’t scramble and get hard. Put most of the crumbs in the bottom of the pie shell so it is roughly even- it doesn’t have to look perfect- no one’s going to see it because you’re going to pour the molasses mixture all over it anyway.  Sprinkle w remaining crumbs over all & bake in 375 oven for about 40-45 min

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My Hoppin John  (a special New Year’s dish)

* sort, soak overnight, and drain one dry # of black eyed peas (drown them in water)
* a  ham hock or meaty ham bone (sometimes I substitute smoked turkey)
– or today, I used an Andouille sausage in place of all of the above
* 2 medium onions, divided
* 3 large cloves garlic, halved
* a bay leaf
* 1 cup rice
* 1 can (10 to 14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with chile peppers, juices reserved
* 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
* 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
* 3 stalks celery, chopped
* 1 jalapeno or Serrano pepper, minced
* 2 teaspoons Cajun or Creole seasoning
* 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
* 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 4 green onions, sliced

Preparation:
In a large Dutch oven or kettle, combine the drained black-eyed peas, ham bone or ham hocks, and 6 cups water. Cut 1 of the onions in half and add it to the pot along with the garlic and bay leaf. Bring to a boil NO SALT added, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer gently until the beans are tender but not mushy (probably a couple of hours). Remove the ham bone or hocks- or turkey-, cut off the meat; dice and set aside. Drain the peas and set aside. Remove and discard the bay leaf, onion pieces, and garlic.  If salt is introduced as the beans cook, they will become tough & unpleasant.  Season them after they have completed cooking.

*Five Bean Rule:   give the pot a good stir, pick out 5 random beans and pinch them.  If they all squish and yield between your fingers, they are perfect.

Add 2 1/2 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil. Add the rice, cover, and simmer until the rice is almost tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Chop the remaining onion then add to everything else. Cook until the rice is tender. Stir in the sliced green onions and the reserved diced ham.

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Moravian Love Feast Buns
(recipe from the Moravian Music Journal– this is from about 30 years ago).  This communal act of  worship has been described as an Agape Feast, where collective resolve is strengthened among the community,  and goodwill is affirmed.  The two key food components are Lovefeast coffee, which is like a mild sweet cafe au lait; and a soft, sweet raised bun, which goes perfectly with coffee or cocoa- or in many locations on many occasions,  orange juice, tea or Kool-aid.
oven 350 degrees

1 c mashed potatoes
1 c sugar
½ t salt
½ c warm water
1 T grated orange rind
1 t. grated lemon rind
½ t nutmeg
5-6 c flour
½ c scalded milk
½ c butter
3 pkg dry yeast
2 eggs, beaten
1 T orange juice
1 t. lemon juice
½ t. mace

Cool potatoes to lukewarm. Scald milk, adding sugar, butter, and salt.
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Into sugar mixture stir the lukewarm milk, potatoes, yeast, eggs, lemon/orange rinds & juices, nutmeg/mace.

Stir in 2 ½ c flour until smooth
Add enough additional flour to make soft dough and knead till satiny. Let rise till double, punch down cover & rest for 5-10 min.

Shape into approx. 2” balls, and place on greased pans, not touching; let rise till doubled.
Bake 15-20 min. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar when fresh from oven