Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Apple Waffles


If you're lucky enough, as we are, to live in New York City and have full power and a day off work (because even if your place of employ is open, there may be no way to get there), you might want to treat your family and friends to a batch of these delicious and moist apple waffles.

(However, if you're like my daughter and her boyfriend, stranded without power on the 14th floor of your downtown Manhattan apartment because you didn't heed the mandatory evacuation order, then I won't say, I told you so.  But you could be enjoying these waffles and have a fully charged cell phone.)

These waffles are pretty quick and easy to make -- you can be enjoying them just 20 minutes after you begin chopping the apples.  But be forewarned (with special thanks to Arthur Schwartz): These strangely do not have an apple flavor. And they do require syrup, which I consider requisite for all waffles, but apparently Arthur does not.


Whip the egg whites first, and then you can use the same beaters to combine the remaining ingredients.  Egg whites will not expand if "contaminated" by fat from the yolks.


Add the dry ingredients to the egg, butter, milk and apple mixture. Mix just until combined.


Fold in the egg whites.  One trick to avoid overbeating (and having dry egg whites) is to add a bit of cream of tarter to the egg whites when you begin whipping them.


The completed batter.


Be sure to grease and heat the waffle pan before beginning.


This recipe is from a collection of a woman who had hundreds of recipes, so many that I can't imagine she had any time to do anything but cook and bake.


Update on my daughter:  She and her boyfriend planned to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge this morning, in search of power and a working toilet.  But then, she learned that a neighboring building -- where she has keys to a vacationing friend's gorgeous apartment -- had full power.  So they're there now, showered and happy. Update as of October 31:  Had to vacate friend's apartment and the promised return of power to their own building never materialized; instead there was a basement fire last and now power will not be restored for a least a week. They are here now, a full house indeed.


Monday, October 29, 2012

"Hello Dolly" Cake


I should rename this "Hello Sandy" in honor of the hurricane that's currently wreaking havoc in my neck of the woods.  But these bar cookies would be equally delicious in stormy and sunny weather, and everything in between.

My mother used to make a version of these; she called them Seven Layer Bars. And early in my marriage, the DH would eat bar after bar of these treats as soon as we passed my mother's threshold.  They're that addicting. And they're so easy, that a child can make these.  Which may be an excellent activity to all NYC residents, since school will be closed tomorrow. As an added bonus, it's less messy than even a one-bowl cake -- everything is placed in the pan in which it is baked.

Preheat your oven to 350 and then melt a stick of butter in a 9 x 9 pan.


While that's melting, crush up some graham crackers.  A ziplock bag and a rolling pin (or wine bottle) works beautifully.  You can also use a food processor, but why dirty a piece of kitchen equipment?

Next, sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs atop the melted butter.


Place the coconut on top, and then add the chocolate chips and chopped nuts.



Next, pour a can of sweetened condensed milk over the cake.


Bake for about 30 minutes. And, voila!


This obviously well-loved recipe was printed using a mimeograph machine, and tucked inside one of my vintage recipe boxes.

Important production note: Your life will be soooo much easier if you line the pan completely with parchment paper or aluminum foil.  This way, when the cake is done, you can simply lift it from the pan.  This makes cutting it into bars so much easier.




Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Hot Rolls


As Frankenstorm moves up the northeast coast and you're battling the onslaught of both high winds and media hype (a different kind of wind altogether), I suppose it's best to be prepared, just in case.  So after you've purchased water, dusted off your flashlight, and hunkered in for the duration, why not make rolls?


Stormy weather is perfect for homemade soup and there's no better accompaniment than old-fashioned dinner rolls, pulled from the oven and buttered while still warm.  Rolls are ideal to make during a storm: First, chances are you're stuck at home for hours, and the low barometric pressure will allow the dough to rise more easily (it has less air to "push" against).  Plus, as with all bread making, there's very little actual work, and a lot of waiting around, so you can watch Lena Dunham's Tiny Furniture (currently available on the Sundance channel on Free Movies on Demand) while feeling a sense of accomplishment as your dough rises in the kitchen.

Only good things can come from melting butter and sugar in sweet milk, the start of this recipe.


A "sponge" is made first, left to rise, and then a second, smaller batch of flour is added before the bread is kneaded.


Form the dough into balls and let rise in the pan.



A more beautiful and shapely roll can be made by using a muffin tin, rather than the free-range method above.



I made just half of this recipe, and used butter instead of shortening.  I also used dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons, or the equivalent of one package).  These rolls could be improved with a bit more salt (and by spreading them with salted butter). You can certainly make the entire amount, as these are meant to be refrigerator rolls, i.e., kept in the fridge until you need to make them.



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ritz Cracker Meringue Pie


"What's the name of this dessert?" the DH asked ten times last night.  "I don't know," I responded sweetly each time.  I wasn't being evasive -- this is a dessert with no name.  The recipe, written on a sheet of note paper "From the desk of Phyllis A. Roberts" is simply a list of six ingredients and two instructions.  But from this cryptic note, emerged a sweet and salty meringue pie.  And one that probably originated in the test kitchen of Ritz Crackers.

But, tasty as it is, this is an American derivative of the French classic dacquoise, a delicate meringue and hazelnut confection often baked in layers and  frosted with buttercream.  In addition to nuts, this recipe uses Ritz crackers, which lends a buttery and salty flavor note, not such a bad thing.

If you want to try your hand at "American" dacquoise, gather together the ingredients pictured below.


Crush the Ritz crackers and chop the nuts.  Whip the egg whites until they're almost stiff, adding the sugar and baking powder in gradually.  (You can skip the baking powder.) Fold in the nuts and crushed crackers.  Spoon into an eight- or nine-inch pie plate and bake.


When it's brown, remove and let cool slightly.


Even though heavy cream is listed, it should not be used in the pie (I tried it that way and it was a bit of a disaster).  Instead, whip the cream to serve on the side.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Apple Dowdy Cake


Apple Dowdy Cake may look a bit dowdy but once you experience its deliciousness, it will instantly transform into a real beauty.  It's that good. Even if you don't have a surfeit of apples from an overenthusiastic apple-picking venture, you should make this.


I have dozens of apple cake recipes in my collection, many of them called "Raw Apple Cake" or "Applesauce Cake."  I selected this one because of it's frumpy name, not that "raw" apple cake is much more appealing. (This cake is not related to pandowdy, which is a baked good with fruit on the bottom and a pastry topping).

Apple dowdy cake is basically an oil cake (read: moist) of apples and pecans and the usual suspects -- butter, flour, sugar, spice and eggs.  What distinguishes it is the caramel-praline glaze poured over the cake while it's still in the pan. What this does is add another flavor and texture note to an already yummy cake.

I used Macoun apples from Red Jacket Orchards in upstate New York.  After chopping those (no need to peel them!) and some pecans, I mixed up the cake batter.  It only took a few minutes.


I greased a tube pan and spooned the thick batter in.


Near the end of the baking time, I began the glaze.  I used butter instead of the margarine called for.


As I poured the glaze over the cake, I was certain that it would cement the cake to the pan.  This was a problem, as I planned to serve this at a dinner party that night. It was too late to turn back, so I just crossed my fingers.


After the cake (with glaze) cooled in the pan for the requisite two hours,  I ran a butter knife around the edge, praying that it would do the trick.  I also drank both a glass of single-malt scotch and white wine to soften the blow of what I was sure to be a disappointment.

I turned the pan upside down over a cake plate and -- voila! --much to my complete amazement, it released beautifully.


The caramel glaze is at the bottom of the cake (since the top of the cake in the pan becomes the bottom once it's released).  A dusting of confectioner's sugar "fancied up" the dowdy cake a little.  Not that it needed anything else.


The recipe, on a mimeographed sheet of paper, tucked into a large recipe box I purchased on eBay last year.  Enjoy!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chicken Breast Pudding


Talk about a one-dish meal!  This is an entree and dessert rolled into one awfully strange yet tasty sweet pudding.

Please, hold your disappointment -- I do not have a recipe to share.  I tried this during a recent visit to Istanbul, while on a wonderful Context tour of city markets led by the amazing Aylin Oney Tan, one of Turkey's leading food writers. There were so many highlights during the tour; nearly every food in Istanbul has a fascinating story behind it, and Aylin knows them all.

As we tasted our way through the city, Aylin kept us on our toes, having us guess the "secret" ingredient in each dish.  This is one I never saw coming.

Chicken breast pudding is a famous dish in Turkey, served to sultans in the Topkapi Palace during the Ottoman Empire where, at its height, had 850 pastry chefs in its kitchen. The pudding, said to be the ancestor of blancmange,  is essentially a sweet milk pudding.   Those strands (see below) throughout the creamy white pudding are shreds of chicken.

Bon appetit or, as they say in Turkey, iştah iyi!



The menu, below.



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Elsie's Buffalo Chip Cookies


At dinner last night with my former boss, she turned to me and said, "Would you please write something new? I'm sick of looking at that fig!"
And so, Lyn, even though I never tire of looking at figs, this post is for you.

I was so intrigued by the name of this confection, Buffalo Chip Cookies, that I stepped away from the presidential debate on Tuesday night and opened my binder -- of recipes, that is! I figured I could simply watch the highlights later.  (Talk about having your cookie and eating it too!)


These had enormous promise: pecans, chocolate chips, coconut, cornflakes and plenty of brown sugar.  I visions of Momofuko Compost Cookies in my head: Could this recipe be the grandmother of those amazing treats?

The short answer is no.  They're really quite good and they disappeared in just minutes as the ladies of Henry Street Settlement's Home Planning Workshop took a break from their knitting and sewing projects to indulge.  But, like many things in life, the reality fell short of the anticipation.

Still, it's an interesting and easy recipe and something different than the standard chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies.  (And it's getting the fig off the top post.)

Mix the wet ingredients and then add the dry ones.  Later, fold in all the good stuff -- the chips, coconut, etc.


I used a small cookie scoop to make the cookies uniform.  And to make the process quicker and easier.




This recipe makes A LOT of cookies.  I halved it and still had almost 40 cookies.  I still have no idea why these are called Buffalo Chip Cookies but a Google search turned up one explanation: it's a reference to their large size.