Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lazy Blogger

I confess to being a lazy blogger these last few days.  I have been cooking and baking, but neglecting to write it up, so I apologize.  Don't worry: I am about to make it up to you with some really great recipes!

First, on Wednesday I went out to eat with my mom, Kenzie, Mark, and his parents.  We went to Joey's and had a really fun night, not to mention amazing food.  For dessert, Mom got gingerbread cake, which was probably the last thing I would have ordered, but you know her and her weird tastes!  She loved it and started saying that I had to make her some gingerbread ASAP.  By the time I got home from work Thursday, she already had this ancient (1974) Betty Crocker cookbook of my dad's sitting on the counter, open to a stained and wrinkled page, which means Dad cooked this recipe often: gingerbread.  It was actually very easy and quick to make; you know how much I love when you can make a whole recipe in one bowl!  I was able to make the whole thing in the mixer.  I actually decided to double the recipe so I could bring one to a party I was going to Friday night, and I had two gingerbreads in the oven in no time. 

In addition to the cake, Mom said I had to make the sauce that Dad used to make to go with the bread: lemon sauce. To me, lemon and gingerbread sound kind of weird together, but hey, if Dad made it, then it must have been good.  Mark was my lemon zester and juicer, and two whole lemons were needed to make enough zest and juice, so I knew this was going to have a good lemony taste.  When it was done, I cut hunks of the gingerbread and ladled the sauce on top.  I was told I wasn't giving enough sauce, so I put even more on the pieces of bread and added some on the plate to dip.  Let me tell you something: if you like gingerbread, you need to make this recipe, and you cannot skimp out on the lemon sauce.  I know it sounds weird, but it works.  It makes the bread all soft and gooey, and the lemon brings out the ginger flavor and makes everything all warm and happy.  Mom is a big fan of this recipe and we're currently eating our second gingerbread, since not all of it went at the party.

Yesterday Tuck and Linda were coming to visit, so I finally got around to making what Linny had been begging for: olive bread.  Months ago, I made rosemary olive bread, which I liked, but didn't go over too well with most other people.  This time I decided that I wanted to showcase the olives themselves; I love rosemary, but it can be a bit bossy, and this round I had real fresh kalamata olives rather than canned black ones, so they needed to be the star.  I had to pit and chop them but it was worth it to use those amazing salty little bundles of goodness!  This recipe makes a gorgeous round bread with  an interesting pattern; you let it rise for the last time upside down in a bowl that is lined with a towel; so when you transfer the dough to its baking sheet, it has the marks of the towel you used.  In my case, it was a waffle-print towel.  I think it makes the bread look pretty.  Anyway, besides looking good, it tasted good!  The consistency of the bread was perfect - brown crispy outside and soft white inside, with bites of olive sprinkled throughout.  It was a big hit, and almost all of it went - which does not happen always with my breads!  Maggie and Linny especially loved it, and I let Linny take home the last little stub that was left.

Since Linny was getting her special bread, I needed to make Tuck something special too, so I made the pumpkin bake I made him last time.  It's low carb and made with Splenda, so he can actually have dessert with us, and he loves it!  Of course, when I asked Kenzie to buy a can of pumpkin for me, she bought pumpkin pie mix, so I ended up having to make my own pumpkin puree first, which is frankly starting to become a routine around here.  Once I got it roasted and pureed (and my new food processor really made that part a breeze!), the pumpkin bake was fast.  Probably what took the longest was opening the 24 packets of Splenda!  In the end, Tuck loved his dessert and took the leftovers home.  It's basically pumpkin pie without the crust, and without sugar or flour!  Make this for your favorite diabetic this Thanksgiving ;)

before going in the oven
Lastly, I made a dessert for the non-diabetics in the house.  Linny had requested something apple-y, and I asked Kenz to help me choose a recipe or I would have sat all morning Googling apple recipes (this happens to me often).  She told me to make an apple tart.  I typed that in, and the first recipe that popped up with Ina Garten's French apple tart.  I love her, and the tart looked beautiful and easy, so I decided to give that a try.  I was able to make the pastry crust in my food processor, which was pretty easy compared to using a pastry cutter!  Then thin-slicing the apples was honestly the longest task for me; it called for 4 Granny Smiths, which I did slice up, but I probably only used 2 1/2 apples; we ate the leftover slices with  peanut butter!  Once the apples are all layered on the dough, you sprinkle on a half cup of sugar and a half stick of diced butter; I was worried this was going to be way too sweet, but it wasn't; the apples release their juices and some of the sugar seems to run off and caramelize the bottom of the dough, which is incredible.  After it bakes, you brush it with a mixture of apricot jam and rum.  This dessert is to die for.  I ate three pieces, and I am not a sweets kind of person.  I just can't get over how to top of the tart is so fruity and sweet, and the dough is flaky and almost caramelized on the bottom from the running apple juices and sugar and butter... oh man.  I would be lying if I didn't tell you that I may or may not have snuck a piece for breakfast today, although it is certainly not breakfast food.  Trust me: this tart is easy and really, really good.

finished product!
I have some ideas for today's culinary adventures; stay tuned!

Mediterranean black olive bread
pumpkin puree
French apple tart

from Betty Crocket's Desserts Cookbook, 1974!

2  1/4 cups all-purpose or cake flour (I used all-purpose)
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup dark molasses
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt

1)  Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour square pan, 9 x 9 x 2 inches. 

2)  Measure all ingredients into  a large mixer bowl.  Blend 1/2 minute on low speed, scraping bowl constantly.

3)  Beat 3 minutes on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally.  Pour batter into pan.  Bake until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.  Serve warm with lemon sauce!

lemon sauce
from Betty Crocket's Desserts Cookbook, 1974!

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Mix sugar and cornstarch in small saucepan.  Gradually stir in water.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients.  Serve warm or cool (I recommend warm!)

low-carb pumpkin bake

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
5 eggs
1 cup granular Splenda (24 packets)
15 ounce can pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Put the cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and beat well. Pour into a 6x8" greased glass baking dish. Bake at 350º about 40 minutes or until the center feels firm and a knife inserted in the center comes out relatively clean. Cool, then chill before serving.

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