Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fudge Frosting

1/3 c. butter, melted
1/3 c. cocoa
2 & 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 & 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2+ TBS milk

Melt butter in large glass mixing bowl in microwave. Stir in cocoa; blend well. Slowly stir in powdered sugar on low speed. Beat in vanilla & milk, slowly increasing speed to high & beat until frosting is of spreading consistency, adding additional powdered sugar or milk if necessary.

Fudge Cake

2 & 1/2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate (2.5 blocks)
3/4 c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 & 1/4 c. unbleached flour
1 & 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 & 1/3 c. water

Preheat oven to 350. Grease & flour two 9-inch round cake pans or one 13x9 inch rectangular pan.

Melt the chocolate in microwave. (Mine takes 2-3 minutes on High.) Cool slightly.

Cream butter, sugar & vanilla in large mixing bowl until light & fluffy. Add eggs & cooled chocolate; blend well. Mix flour & baking soda together in small bowl. Add dry ingredients alternately with water in two batches each.

Pour into prepared pan(s). Bake 35-40 minutes for round pans, 40-45 minutes for 13x9, or until center tests clean. Remove from oven, cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.

Remove 9 inch rounds from pans & cool completely. (Allow 13x9 to cool completely in pan before frosting.)

Frost with Fudge Frosting

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sweet & Sour Pork (or Chicken)

1.3 - 1.5 lbs pork tenderloin (or lean boneless pork chops)* cut into 1 inch cubes
2 TBS olive oil

1 & 1/2 c. fresh pineapple, cut in 1 inch chunks
1 large green pepper, seeded, cut into squares
1 large red pepper, seeded, cut into squares
1 large onion, chopped into large pieces
1 clove garlic, minced

3/4 c. pineapple juice
2 TBS cornstarch
3 TBS reduced sodium soy sauce
1 TBS rice vinegar
1 TBS fresh grated ginger (or 1/2 tsp dried ground ginger)

In large heavy skillet (or Dutch oven), heat oil. Add pork cubes & cook until light golden. Add pineapple, peppers, onion & garlic. Cook, stirring often, until onions are tender.
Stir cornstarch into pineapple juice until smooth. Stir into pork and vegetables along with soy sauce, rice vinegar & ginger; heat to boiling. Reduce heat, and simmer for 2 minutes until sauce is thick & bubbly.

Serve over hot cooked rice.

*For Sweet Sour Chicken, substitute 1.3 - 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes, for the pork.

Carrot Cake with a Tropical Flair

2 c. unbleached flour
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice

1 & 1/2 c. canola oil
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 - 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, undrained

2 c. shredded carrots
1 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 c. shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Grease & flour a 9x13 cake pan (or 2 - 9 inch round pans)

Mix all dry ingredients together in large mixing bowl. Add oil, eggs, vanilla & pineapple with juice; mix together until moistened. Add carrots, walnuts & coconut; beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour into prepared cake pan(s).

Bake 35 - 40 minutes or until center tests clean. (Reduce time for 9 inch pans, 20 - 30 minutes.)

Remove from oven & place on wire rack to cool.

Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz. light cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter, softened (1 stick)
3 & 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients in large electric mixer bowl; beat until smooth. Add additional 1–2 c. powdered sugar if necessary until icing reaches desired consistency.

Mixed Bean Soup

1 c. Great Northern beans
3/4 c. Pinto beans
1/4 c. brown lentils
8 c. water

1 - 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 lb. bacon, cooked & broken into small pieces
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp. dried parsely
fresh ground black pepper
1 TBS good quality beef soup base

3 - 4 large baking potatoes, peeled, cooked & mashed (3 c. mashed)

3 medium carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced

Rinse & drain all beans. Combine with 8 c. water in large stockpot. Bring to simmer, cover & cook for 1 & 1/2 hours.

Add tomato sauce, onion, garlic, cooked bacon bits, thyme, parsley, pepper & soup base. Stir to blend well. Bring back to simmer; cover & cook for an additional 2 hours.

Meanwhile, wash, peel, cut & cook potatoes in 2 inches of water in medium saucepan for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain. Mash well, leaving a few lumps.

Add mashed potatoes, carrots & celery to soup; stir to blend. Continue to simmer for another hour, until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally so that soup does not scorch.

Baked French Onion Soup

4 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 TBS butter
1 TBS olvie oil
1/4 tsp sugar
2 TBS unbleached flour
6 c. organic beef broth (or 6 c. water & good boullion), warmed
1/4 c. dry white wine
fresh ground pepper

4 - 1 inch slices of day old baguette
1 c. shredded Gruyere cheese (Jarlsburg or Baby Swiss may be used as substitute)

Melt butter in 4 qt. saucepan over medium low heat; add olive oil, mix well. Add sliced onions & saute for 15 minutes in covered pot, stirring occasionally. Uncover & add sugar. Saute, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with flour; heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Blend in warm broth & wine; season to taste. Simmer on low heat, partially covered, for one hour.

Preheat oven to 325.

Divide soup into 4 ovenproof bowls. Sprinkle 1/8 c. cheese over soup in each bowl. Float slice of bread on soup; sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until hot.

Preheat broiler. Set each soup bowl under broiler for 2-3 minutes until cheese is golden brown.

Serve immediately.

Reduced Red Wine Sauce

2 bottles dry red table wine (I prefer a Cabernet or hearty Zin)
7 garlic cloves, halved
2 tsp. whole mixed peppercorns (a blend of black, red, green & pink)
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf

Place all ingredients in a heavy saucepan & bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 hours until reduced by half & slightly thickened.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer or chinois.

Serve warm, or chill for later use.

Macaroni & Cheese for Grown-up Tastes!

1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. unbleached flour
4 c. milk
1 & 1/2 c. shredded Sargento 6 Cheese Italian Blend (Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan and Fontina, plus Romano and aged Asiago) or Quatro Fromage (4 cheese mixture)
fresh ground pepper

1 lb. elbow macaroni, cooked al dente to package directions

Heat oven to 350.

Cook the macaroni to package direction to al dente. Do not overcook. Drain well & pour into large Corning dish. (2.5 quart size works well)

Meanwhile, melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. When melted, quickly stir in flour & blend well to form a roux (thick paste). Warm the milk in the microwave until it makes its first small bubbles; do NOT bring to a boil. Pour into the butter/flour roux & stir thoroughly until smooth. Add the cheese & mix well until all cheese is melted & sauce is smooth. Stir in fresh pepper to taste.

Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni in the Corning dish. Stir well to make sure all pasta is covered.

Place in oven for 20-25 minutes until heated through. Remove & let set for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Top each serving with 1/4 c. (more or less to taste) Reduced Red WIne Sauce