It's Impossible -- Pie!

It's impossibleTell the sun to leave the skyIt's just impossibleIt's impossibleAsk a baby not to cryIt's just impossible ...


It's also impossible not to really like old recipes.

I took some ground beef out of the freezer, this morning, without a real plan for it. I decided to check out my Mom's Cookbook for a bit of inspiration since she could stretch a pound of ground beef like no other! One of the many things she used to make were the Bisquick Impossible Pies. And that struck a bell.

I had all the ingredients I needed, so off I went!

My filling version was a bit different - I used different cheeses, added some roasted corn, and used a different sauce in place of the taco mix - but the concept was there! That's the beauty of these things - the only constants are the milk. eggs, and Bisquick.

These things really are fun. This one had a spicy filling with lots of cheese - and a light and delicate crust that balanced everything.

It's been a really long time since I made one - and I won't wait that long, next time!

A fun accompaniment was a beer from Gigantic Brewing, here in Portland. It's Darcelle Blonde IPA - named after Darcelle XV - who holds the Guinness World Record for being ‘The World’s Oldest Performing Drag Queen’.  She is fabulous - and a wonderful person.

From their website: Darcelle is frequently introduced on stage as ‘The Bold, The Blonde, and The Beautiful,’ so when it came to developing the flavor profile for our collaboration beer, we knew exactly where to go. We used locally grown Cashmere and Luminosa hops to be apropos as well as to create a bright and tropical IPA with mango, candied orange peel, and peach notes.

It's all that - and more. It's a really excellent brew! It will be adorning our family table on St Paddy's Day!

It's all of that. and more. The extra-cool thing is proceeds from the Weirdtastic Series of beers are donated to "Weird Portland United", a nonprofit that supports the artistic risk-takers that make our city weirdly wonderful.

I tell ya, I really do love being here. I love the fun, the weird, and the acceptance. I could go for a little less rain, but even the rain is a small price to pay for a real community!

It's a limited addition, so come on out and get some, soon!

 

 

 


Mushroom and Langostino Risotto

Oh, the weather outside is frightful... Cold, snow, ice... Not exactly what we were expecting for the end of February in the Pacific Northwest! The daffodils had already started spouting and we were arranging the Spring yard clean-up. SUPRISE!!!

Cold weather, of course, means hearty food - and a risotto seemed to be the perfect idea. I thought more of a clean-out-the-'fridge than a traditional - and it came out really well.

First fun thing I did was roast a whole onion, head of garlic, and a couple of tomatoes in the oven - 400°F for about 45 minutes - and then into the blender to puree.

I set that aside and sauteed button mushroom halves in butter, and then added the arborio rice. Next, a cup of white wine and cooked it down.

Then came the first ladle of broth and the puree and a hefty pinch of saffron.

I then followed the traditional method of making risotto - adding a ladle of broth at a time until it was absorbed.

Salt and white pepper went in, and then the langostino. When they were cooked, I added a handful of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Gotta admit it came out pretty darn good!

The roasting of the vegetables really ramped up their flavor. It was a simple thing to do and really took no effort.

Mushroom and Langostino Risotto

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 8 oz button mushrooms
  • 6 oz langostino
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Salt and White pepper, to taste

Follow the above guidelines. It's simple.

 

 


Super Bowl and TastyKakes

It's Super Bowl Sunday - the day where the most people in the country watch the same show on TV at the same time.

It's also a day where more people eat the same foods. It even rivals Thanksgiving!

Some of the standards are:

  • Chili
  • Hamburgers
  • Hot Dogs
  • Chicken Wings
  • Spinach artichoke dip
  • Pizza
  • Seven-layer dip
  • Guacamole
  • Nachos
  • Deviled eggs

I know I have definitely had or made all of them at one time or another - and many of them at one time! This year, however, we're going Philly-Style!

Victor is from Philadelphia and we lived in the Philly 'burbs for almost 20 years. Since my hometown Niner's aren't in the game, it's Eagles all the way - starting with the food.

We'll be going with Jersey Mike's Philadelphia Cheesesteaks, since that's about as Philly as we can get in Oregon.

This is an internet picture, but you get the idea. They're pretty good for not being in Philadelphia. There's a lot of debate over who makes the best cheesesteaks in Philly. Our personal favorite was a place in Wayne called Tozzi's. Great place with a really fun and personable cook. They closed for a [supposed] remodel and never reopened. We were crushed.

The next thing is going to be TastyKakes. These, I made since buying them online is ridiculously expensive. Victor looked into a Philly Box with soft pretzels and TastyKakes. It was about $29.00. Not exorbitant, totally doable - but they wanted FIFTY DOLLARS FOR SHIPPING! That, was exorbitant.

Traditionally, they would be round, but squares are easier...

It's a really simple recipe and makes 24 fairly large squares.

Friends KJ and Deb made these for dessert one night and gave us the recipe.

TastyKake Peanut Butter Kandy Kake

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbs butter

Scald and set aside

  • 4 egg whites
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Mix egg whites, sugar, and vanilla until light. Mix in flour, salt, and baking powder. Add cooled milk/butter.

Put in jelly roll pan and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Take out and spread 12 oz peanut butter on top. Put in fridge to chill.

Melt 8 oz. Hershey chocolate in double boiler and spread on top of cool cake. Refrigerate to harden.

Simple and fun.

GO BIRDS!

Of course, for those who just don't watch or like football, we're going to have our own version of The Puppy Bowl, today, as well!

Phoebe and Nancy have a new puppy - Lucy - who is barely 9 weeks old. She is absolutely adorable!

This is her coming home for the first time.

Being a Good Girl in the backyard...

And sound asleep in a noisy restaurant, yesterday.


Chili Con Carne

We're getting ready for football, tomorrow.

The San Francisco 49ers are playing the Philadelphia Eagles - in Philadelphia - to see who's going to The Super Bowl.

As you probably all know, Victor is an East Coast Philadelphia boy and I'm a West Coast San Francisco boy. And after 20 years in Philadelphia, we're back out west.

If the Eagles were playing any other team, I'd be a rabid Eagles fan - but they're playing my hometown team. I hafta root for my hometown team. It's practically a rule.

Victor is seriously out-numbered.

Phoebe and Nancy are coming over for the game and we're cooking up a west coast meal - chili, jalapeño poppers, quesadillas, bean dip, guacamole, beer, and tequila....

It looks like a lot of ingredients, but it's easy to put together.

 

 

Chili Con Carne

  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 3 dried guajillo peppers
  • 3 dried puya peppers
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  •  2 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can diced mild green peppers
  • 3 tablespoons masa harina

Soak pinto beans overnight. Drain and set aside.

Place chiles in a bowl and add enough boiling water to cover. Let sit about 15 minutes to soften. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid. Discard stems and seeds. Process chiles, tomato paste, garlic and reserved liquid until smooth.

In a large pot, sauté onion and poblano pepper. Cook until wilted. Add ground beef and cook until beef is broken up and mostly cooked through.

Stir in spices, oregano, and pureed chile mixture. Add the stock, beer, tomatoes, canned chiles, and beans, Bring to boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer until beans are done - about 1 1/2 hours. Stir in masa and simmer another 20 minutes.

 

Serve with assorted toppings: oyster crackers, cheeses like cotija or Mexican blend, chopped avocado, chopped onions, sour cream...

Chili is definitely one of those foods that taste better the next day, so plan accordingly!

 

 

Our Super Bowl menu will be completely dependent on the outcome of tomorrow's game. It could be another west coast feast or it could be Jersey Mike's Cheesesteaks. Whichever team wins, we will be rooting for them in the Super Bowl.

And GO NINERS!

 


Sardinian Minestrone

I get a daily email from La Cucina Italiana - in Italian - with a score of recipes. To my utter dismay, Conde Nast discontinued the English version of the magazine several years ago. (They have recently started up an online English version, but I think the Italian site is better. I have my browser auto-set to translate into English.)

But I digress...

A few days ago, the email had a soup they labelled Il minestrone sardo della longevità, la ricetta di famiglia. The Sardinian minestrone of longevity, the family recipe.

How could I resist?!?

The article goes on to explain the Sardinian diet is mostly vegetarian, and almost all locally produced. Not a lot of White Chocolate Mocha Creme Frappuccino's or Double Quarter Pounder's with Cheese being consumed.

The recipe concept sounded great - and we just happened to have dried fava beans, dried chickpeas, dried white beans, and Fregola. Fregola is a Sardinian toasted pasta about twice the size of pastina. [Our pantry ingredients can be a bit esoteric, at times...)

Knowing that my suburban-Portland-in-January ingredients wouldn't pack the same punch as local Sardinian, I punched up the flavors with a couple of ingredients - I swapped out the original water for chicken broth and added a small package of diced pancetta and some of our home-grown oregano. To keep it vegetarian, a good vegetable broth could be used and omit the pancetta, and to make it vegan, just omit the added pecorino at the end.

As it was, it really came out good!

 

Sardinian Minestrone

adapted from La Cucina Italiana

  • 1/2 cup dried fava beans
  • 1/2 cup dried white beans
  • 1/3 cup dried chickpeas
  • 4 oz diced pancetta
  • 2/3 cup Sardinian fregola
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow or white onion
  • 2 medium-sized carrots
  • 2 stalks of medium-sized celery
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 2 cans diced tomatoess
  • 3 medium-sized potatoes
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 3 quarts chicken broth
  • chopped parsley
  • fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely grated pecorino cheese

Leave the legumes to soak for about 8 hours, in a large basin full of water, then drain and rinse them well.

Prepare the sauté in a pot, first heating three teaspoons of oil. Add the pancetta and cook a bit and then adding chopped onion, celery and carrot.

Cook for about five minutes, stirring often, and then add the chopped garlic (stirring for 20 seconds) and then diced tomatoes, potatoes and fennel, chopped parsley and basil and drained legumes.

Add enough broth to cover everything with about a finger, turn up the heat to the maximum and bring to a boil.

At this point reduce the heat and cook for about an hour and a half, until the legumes are soft, adding broth from time to time if necessary. Then pour the Sardinian fregola into the soup and cook for about ten minutes.

Once ready, the minestrone should be served in bowls with the addition of a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of pecorino cheese.

Suggestion: Depending on the season, other vegetables from the garden can be added, such as zucchini, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, green beans. The variety of legumes can also be changed to taste.

The soup is really hearty, flavorful, and filling. It was perfect for a chilly January evening - and will be great for lunch the next few days. And, as the recipe suggests, it will be a perfect seasonal dish, swapping out various seasonal vegetables.

I see more of this in our future.


Rye Bread

It's cold, wet, and raining outside - perfect weather for baking a loaf of bread. I decided on Rye Bread for something different - I haven't made any in a while.

There are a bazillion different types and styles of rye bread out there, from a dense German-style Pumpernickel to a light sandwich rye from the grocery store. I went for a Scandinavian Rye, today - a mixture of rye and wheat with a bit of sweetening.

 

It has a softer crumb and a good crust.

This particular recipe comes from BBC Food.

Scandanavian Rye Bread

adapted from BBC Food

  • 175ml full-fat milk
  • 175ml water
  • 2 tbsp dark soft brown sugar
  • 1 x 7g sachet of fast-action dried yeast
  • 250g rye flour
  • 200g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tbsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • sunflower oil, for greasing

Put the milk, water and sugar in a small saucepan and heat very gently, stirring constantly, for just a few seconds until the liquid is lukewarm and the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into a bowl.

Stir in the yeast and leave for 10 minutes until there is a light froth floating on the surface.

Put all the flour, rye and white, in a large bowl, stir in the salt and caraway seeds, then make a well in the centre. Pour the warm yeast mixture on to the flour and mix with a wooden spoon and then your hands to form a soft, spongy dough.

Turn the dough out on to a well-floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic. Kneading this dough can be hard work so you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and give it some welly.

Put the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover loosely with oiled cling film. Leave to rise in a warm place for about 1½ hours or until it has doubled in size.

Put the dough on a floured work surface and knock it back with your knuckles, then knead for another minute.

Shape the dough into a fat oval or round loaf, pulling the dough from the top and sides and tucking it underneath to make a neat shape.

Place the loaf on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and score the surface 4 times with a sharp knife. Cover it loosely with the oiled cling film and leave to prove for a further 40–50 minutes until it has doubled in size once more.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Bake the loaf in the center of the oven for 40 minutes or until it is well risen and the base sounds hollow when tapped sharply. Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

 

 

There's just enough caraway to be flavorful without being overpowering and the tiny bit of brown sugar mellows the rye.

All-in-all, a very good loaf.

I still have a goal to try and replicate the rye bread we used to serve at David's Delicatessen in San Francisco. It was da bomb.

No idea who is running the place, today. David was old when I worked there in the '70s, and I doubt the bakery that supplied the bread is still around, either.

I do have a recipe that is a three-day project...

We shall see...

In the meantime - this was pretty good!

 


Dutch Crunch Rolls

A friend posted an article on Dutch Crunch bread, today, and it got me thinking..

Sourdough rolls were king when I was a kid growing up in San Francisco. Nothing could beat a salami sandwich on a crusty crunchy Larrabaru roll. We had a deli at the corner - Edgewater Delicatessen - and for 50¢ we could buy a salami sandwich. On our more poor days, we could buy 25¢ worth of salami and a 10¢ roll - and make our own sandwich for 35¢. More times than not, we paid for them - at least in part - by collecting bottles. It was definitely a world of high finance.

Larrabaru disappeared in the mid-70s, as did their uniquely crusty bread.

At that point I was living all over the USofA and sourdough was something I got on those rare occasions I was back in San Francisco for a visit. I finally moved back home in 1989 and rented a flat on 9th & Judah in the inner Sunset. A few blocks away was Andronico's Market - an upscale grocery store that was a tad too expensive for everyday shopping but a great source for the unique. (Andronico's was bought by Safeway in 2017 and it just ain't the same...)

One of their unique offerings was a hand-carved Turkey Sandwich with Lingonberry Sauce on a Dutch Crunch Roll. They cost about $3.95 - pricey for the times - but definitely in the Top Ten list of favorite sandwiches I have eaten. What I didn't know at the time was that Dutch Crunch rolls were really the rave in the Bay Area. A few really good bakeries were supplying everyone.

I would buy the sandwiches for dinner, to take to a Giant's game out at Candlestick... I definitely had one at least every two weeks.

And then we moved east and Amoroso Rolls and Philly Cheesesteaks took over. Dutch Crunch rolls were but a memory.

And then we moved to Oregon. There was a bakery not too far from us that advertised Dutch Crunch rolls, but, in the time of Covid, generally didn't have any. I found a couple of recipes online for them, but never made them.

Until today.

Dutch Crunch Rolls

adapted from Baking Sense

Bread Dough

  • 1/2 cups (120ml) slightly warm water
  • 1 cup (240ml) slightly warm whole milk
  • 15g (1tbsp) butter melted
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 packet dry yeast (7g)
  • 1/2 cup (70g) whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups (420g) all purpose flour

Topping

  • 1 cup (178g) rice flour
  • 1 packet (7g) dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp neutral oil
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) warm water

Instructions for 8 rolls

Mix water, milk, butter, sugar, salt and yeast. Add the whole wheat flour and 2 cups of the all purpose flour and mix until it forms a thick batter. Switch to the dough hook and add the
remaining flour. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl and cling to the dough hook.

Knead on medium speed for 5 minute until the dough is smooth and elasic.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover the bowl and set aside to rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured
surface and divide into 8 equal portions.

Roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball and set on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Cover with a damp kitchen towel and set aside to rise for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile. mix the topping.

Topping

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the oil to the warm water then add it to the dry ingredients.

Whisk until combined. Set the topping aside for 20 minutes until bubbly.

Brush the topping generously onto the rolls. Let the rolls rise another 20 minutes.

Bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.

As you probably have noticed, i didn't get the same crackle that a traditional Dutch Crunch roll had. I think the topping was too thick. Another recipe I found stated the topping should be the consistency of glue. The posted recipe was closer to paste.

Yet, another, stated the topping should be spread on immediately after forming the rolls and allowed to rise with it on.

'Tis the season to be baking bread, so I can see myself experimenting a bit more with this. But... as-is, the taste is great - and that's the important part!

 


Panettone and Holiday Weight Gain

Ah... 'Tis the Season, indeed.

227.4, this morning. Christmas - the gift that keeps on giving! And giving...

It's really been a yo-yo two weeks. It started with Christmas Cookie Baking at my sister's house, going out to dinner, still not at the gym, too damned cold outside to do anything... And then getting candy in the mail from friends! 2 pounds of Fralinger's Salt Water Taffy from Atlantic City. A tin of Almond Roca.

While I've gained back a few pounds, I saw my Primary Care Dr on Monday for a 6-month follow-up, and I was actually down almost 25 pounds from my appointment in June. Not too shabby!

So... as any red-blooded foodaholic would do, I made a Panettone, today! It's a 2-day process. I started yesterday!

Panettone eluded me for years. It was one bread that was almost there - but not quite. Last year I finally nailed it. This year was even better!

I'm not entirely sure where I was going wrong, but time, perseverance, and pure luck have finally played out. Not to mention having a 95°F proofing setting in the oven!

Feathery light, soft, and delicate. Perfection in a 7" paper baking mold.

And just a few calories. The entire recipe is 5405 kcal - five thousand, four hundred, and five calories! 

I sliced 2 pieces for me and Victor - 1/8th each - 676 kcal. That's not leaving me much for dinner, tonight. But every feathery bite was worth it.

It is just so much better than the packaged panettone I have bought for years. And, while it does take a bit of time, the actual recipe is quite easy and straightforward.

Panettone

Fruit

  • 300gr mixed dried fruits (currants, raisins, cranberries, candied lemon and orange peel, dried cherries, or any combination)
  • 6 tablespoons brandy

Dough

  • 1 1/2 tbsp rapid-rise yeast
  • 5 ounces 98°F milk
  • 50gr (1/4 cup) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Fiori Di Sicilia extract
  • 500gr (4 cups) bread flour
  • 5gr salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 255gr unsalted butter, at room temperature

Place dried fruits in bowl, add liquor, cover and keep at room temp overnight.

Mix sugar with barely warm milk. Add flavorings and yeast and set aside.

Mix flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add yeast mixture and mix to combine.

Add the eggs a couple at a time. Mix on medium speed until the dough begins to smooth out.

Cut the softened butter into 1 tbsp chunks and add the butter a piece at a time, mixing it in fully before adding more. Total mixing time will be about 10 minutes – maybe a bit more. It should be glossy and satiny. The dough will be sticky.

Butter a large bowl and scrape dough into it. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The following morning, strain the soaking fruit.

Place dough on a lightly floured counter and spread out into a rectangular shape.

Place half of the fruit onto half of the spread-out dough. Fold the dough over the fruit and fold over, again. Pat out, again, add the remaining fruit, fold several times and then form into a ball.

Butter a 7″ panettone mold or paper.

Add the dough ball, lightly cover, and allow to rise for about 3 hours – or until the dough is rising well above the rim.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 300° F and bake for an additional 45 to 55 minutes.

Cool completely before slicing.

It's worth it!


It's Week 11

I think I missed Week 10. No matter - there's a net loss from Week 9 - I'm at 223.3 lbs.

Slow and steady wins the race, so I'm taking it slow and steady.

It's great that it's soup season! I can pack nutrition-dense ingredients into a lower-calorie - and satisfying - meal quite easily.

I don't often make soups from recipes, but tonight's soup was one I found on Eating Well. Naturally, I played with the recipe, but here's their version. Play as you will.

Smoky Chicken-Chile Soup with Tamale Dumplings

adapted from Eating Well

Dumplings

  • 1 cup masa harina
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin or chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Soup

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin or chili powder
  • 3 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 cup quartered and sliced zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Chopped cilantro & lime wedges for garnish

To prepare dumplings: Combine masa harina, 1/2 cup broth, cheese, 2 tablespoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon cumin (or chili powder) and salt in a medium bowl. Roll the dough into 18 round dumplings, using a scant 1 tablespoon for each.

To prepare soup: Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cumin (or chili powder) and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in broth, tomatoes with their juices, chicken, corn and chipotle to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Add the dumplings and zucchini. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until the dumplings and zucchini are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add lime juice. Serve the soup topped with cilantro, with lime wedges on the side, if desired.

The dumplings were good, but I think a stronger cheese might have been better - or, maybe a bit more cumin to jazz them up a bit... The soup, itself, was really rich and flavorful.

A keeper!


Traditional Fruitcake - Sorta

There are so many variations on a Fruitcake, that it's nigh-on impossible to call one traditional. I mean... traditional from the 1600s? Traditional from a can?

The only thing really traditional about this is it has fruit and nuts - and it's dark.

As I have stated before, I like fruitcake - in all its guises. Homemade is the best, but I'll settle for a slice from a can if that's all there is.

Today's fruitcake is a mishmash of recipes from lord knows where... I have no fewer than six fruitcake recipes on the site, and all of them have been tweaked at least twice.

 

Fruitcake

  • 2 cups mixed diced glacéed fruits
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 3/4 cup brandy
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped assorted nuts
  • 1/4 cup peach jam mixed with 1 tbsp brandy

In a large bowl combine all of the fruits with the rum and let macerate several hours or overnight.

Line the bottom of a well-buttered 9 1/2-inch springform pan with a round of parchment paper and butter the paper. Into a small bowl sift together the flour, the baking powder, and the spices.

Cream together the butter and the brown sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy and beat in 4 of the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Drain the fruit mixture well and mix the juices into the batter.

Stir the flour mixture into the batter, one fourth at a time, stir in the fruit mixture, the almond meal, and the nuts, stirring until the mixture is just combined, and turn the batter out into the prepared pan.

Put 2 loaf pans, each filled with hot water, in a preheated 300°F. oven and put the springform pan between them. Bake the cake for 1 hour, brush the top with the remaining egg, beaten lightly, and bake the cake for 1 hour more. While the cake is baking, in a saucepan melt the peach jam with the remaining 1 tablespoon rum over moderate heat, bring the mixture to a boil, and strain it through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on the solids.

Cool cake in the pan on a rack for 30 minutes.  Remove from pan. Brush the top of the cake with glaze.

Wrap in cheesecloth and soak with brandy. Store in a cool, dry place.

I have made this with rum, whiskey, and brandy. Today was brandy. I have also switched out the dried fruits and nuts. Today's nuts were pistachios and walnuts.

As soon as it cools, it will get wrapped and sit in a nice cupboard waiting for Christmas Eve...

Unless we decide to dive in earlier, that is...

 


Apricot Macadamia Nut Fruitcake

I started a bit of holiday baking, today...

A bit, because we do not do the insane baking of years past.

We had a lot of fun doing it, but, at the same time, it was all we did for weeks before Christmas.

It's more fun being retired and doing a few things...

Today, was Apricot Macadamia Nut Fruitcake.

The original recipe came from Bon Appetit magazine years and years ago. It's totally untraditional and totally delicious.

I made just one - gone are the days of making 4x the recipe - and set it off to age in some brandy.

 

Apricot Macadamia Nut Fruitcake

adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons apricot brandy
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups flour, sifted twice
  • 1 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts, lightly chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 275°F. Grease and flour a 6 cup Bundt pan or 8″ round cake pan and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat yolks in small bowl and add to butter mixture. Mix well.

Combine milk, brandy and vanilla and add alternately with flour in 4 batches, mixing well after each addition. Stir in apricots, raisins and macadamia nuts.

Whip egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue beating until stiff but not dry. Gently fold into batter. Spoon into prepared pan and bake until tester inserted in center comes out clean (about 2 1/4 hours). Cool completely in pan.

Sprinkle a bit of apricot brandy on top and serve. Cakes can also be made in advance, wrapped in apricot brandy-soaked cheesecloth, wrapped in plastic and aged. YUM!!

 

 

I'm also going to make a traditional fruitcake, this week. I'm just about the only person I know who likes it, but that's okay...

I think we may start the Christmas Decorating tomorrow... Back in our youth, it was always the day-After-Thanksgiving-Decorate-A-Thon. We've slowed down there a bit, as well.

On a positive note, we did get the Christmas cards in the mail.

 


Food, Glorious Food

226.4lbs the morning after Thanksgiving. Not bad, considering it was non-stop eating from 2pm until sometime past 8pm. And what glorious eating it was! It’s really great to be a part of a family that really knows how to throw a holiday feast!

I’m definitely not beating myself up for gaining a pound this week. We ended up going out to dinner twice in 4 days, to start. Our other meals were realistic, so only a pound is pretty good, considering. Besides… I can lose the weight. What I never want to lose is the fun we have when we get together – it’s worth a bit of over-indulgence!

We started off at 2pm with hors d’oeuvres… Naturally, I didn’t get any pictures of the table-full of fabulous finger foods.

Italian sausages braised in white wine… olive cheese puffs, cheese toasties, a cheese board with cambozola, gouda, and another – my mind is blanking… stuffed mushrooms… I know there was more – I wish I had taken pictures.

I did take pictures of the dinner table, though.

We had two turkeys, garlic mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, scalloped potatoes, corn pudding, brussels sprouts with onion and bacon, bacon-topped macaroni and cheese, a fantastic salad, homemade and canned cranberry sauces, and homemade dinner rolls.

And then – when I could barely waddle – we started on desserts.

Wednesday was Finley and Elise’s 2nd birthday, so we also celebrated them with Birthday Cake and Birthday Cupcakes.

Then we had mini pumpkin tarts, mini walnut tarts, and ginger cookies.

Two-bite delights!

And speaking of delights, here’s Grandpa reading a story to Finley with a Birthday Bow on his head.

A perfect day.

And I only gained a pound!