Sunday, November 25, 2012

Notes from the Groaning Board

We're still recovering from another Thanksgiving dinner. You know the symptoms: glassy eyes, lethargy, the feeling that you'll never want another bite of food for the rest of your life. But it doesn't last as long as we think it lasts, and before you know it, we're sniffing around the kitchen again to appease the hunger gods.

Here's a recipe for that mother-of-all-leftovers, turkey (or in some cases, chicken). It's homey, good, and very satisfying on a cold late autumn day. The leftovers of this are wonderful rewarmed with a little additional sauce added to compensate for the sauce the dumplings soak up.

Turkey (or Chicken) and Dumplings
A good recipe for using up odds and ends of vegetables, if you have any: peas, carrots, mushrooms, leeks, summer squash, what-have-you. Saute them until soft before adding to the recipe.

A 4 or 5 qt. dutch oven with tight fitting lid
Oven 350 degrees

1/3 cup (2/3 stick) butter
1 small onion, roughly chopped

Saute the onion (and if you plan on using some oddball veggies, those, too) in the dutch oven in the butter.
Remove when soft, draining excess butter back into the pot.

1/2 cup flour
4 cups turkey or chicken stock, or a combination of stock and leftover gravy
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Add the flour to the remaining butter in the dutch oven; cook to make a roux over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the roux is pale golden. Add the stock 1/2 cup at  a time, whisking into the roux to prevent lumps. When all the stock/gravy is added, add seasonings. Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes, then add meat and vegetables.

4 cups diced cooked turkey or chicken
2 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
the sauted onion, and whatever other veggies you are adding

Bring the filling to a simmer, stirring gently, then add the dumplings to the top, and pop into a 350 degree oven for 1 1/4 hours.

1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
a tablespoon of chopped chives (fresh or dried)
a tablespoon of chopped parsley (fresh or dried)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the herbs, if using. Cover and refrigerate at this point if you are not baking the dish immediately. Otherwise, soldier on.
Whisk the egg into the buttermilk, then add to the flour mixture until just blended together, no more. Don't overmix! It looks kind of wet and shaggy. Scoop large spoonfuls of the dumpling mixture over the hot filling to cover the top. Bake immediately as directed above.
NOTE: The steam from the sauce helps to keep the dumplings tender, so don't peek at them while they're baking.  Your patience will be rewarded with lighter, fluffier dumplings.

Makes 6 generous servings.

If you have leftovers, cover tightly and refrigerate up to three days. Add a bit more stock to the pot before reheating in the oven for 30 - 45 mins. at 350. Or you could do what we do in a pinch: Place serving size portions in soup plates and microwave them, covered, for 3 to 4 minutes each.

Monday, October 15, 2012

You Know It's Fall When ....

... apples, squash and pumpkins are in abundance at the farmers markets and orchard stands. Here is our Fall favorite:

Marlboro Crisp

preheat oven to 350 degrees
8 x 8, or 7 x 11 pan, well buttered 

3 to 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 TBLSP. flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. (or so) cinnamon
2 or 3 TBLSP. butter

Mix the dry ingredients together, add apples and stir together. Pour into prepared pan. Dot the top with the butter, broken up into bits.

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
2/3 cup flour
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted

A good quality vanilla ice cream

Stir together the dry ingredients, then add the butter and mix thoroughly with a large spoon. Spoon over the apples, but do not press the topping down. It will settle as it bakes. 
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes; increase heat to 375 degrees and bake 10 to 15 minutes longer; topping will be sizzly and golden brown. Let stand at least a half hour before serving. Serve in individual bowls with a scoop of ice cream on top.

A deeply delicious dessert for 6.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Birthday-Worthy Brownies

Liz asked for the recipe for Cream Cheese Brownies to make as a birthday cake substitute for a friend. These are truly a worthy, gooey stand in, and they take no time at all.


butter a 7 x 11 or 9 x 9 pan
preheat oven to 325 degrees

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

1/3 cup butter
3 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a saucepan over very low heat, then turn off the burner.
Then add in order given, beating after each addition:
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix well by hand until combined. Spoon half the brownie batter into the prepared pan, then make the cream cheese filling:
8 oz. bar of cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 tsp. salt

In a mixing bowl, cream together the cream cheese and sugar, beating well, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and salt and blend until well mixed and creamy. Spread over the mixture in the pan, then top with the remaining brownie batter. Swirl through the batters with a knife. 

Bake in a 325 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Don't overbake!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bright, Brilliant Flavors: Citrus Cake

Last night at WiNKS, my local knitting group, we were asked to list which cake we loved most for our personal birthday celebrations. The list included, no surprise, many that simply said "chocolate anything!". And while I love chocolate cake (obviously, since it's part of the title of the blog), my favorite cake for my March birthday is Citrus Cake. It's luscious orange and lemon notes are perfect just when the weather can't get much worse and the days more dreary. It's bright flavors and cheery color are the perfect antidote to winter and more pedestrian cakes. This is one cake that benefits from being made a day in advance. Overnight, the orange and lemon juices and zests work their magic to infuse the cake so that it bursts with brilliant flavor.

Amazingly, I have never put it here on the blog! So it's time to remedy that.


Grease and flour 2 9" round cake pans; set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp
4 eggs
the zests of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour ~or~ 2 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk

Cream butter and sugar in large mixing bowl on medium low speed. Add eggs one at a time; beat well until blended in. Add the zests of the lemon and orange, stirring to blend. Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl, and add alternately with the buttermilk, mixing well. Pour into prepared pans, and bake on a lower middle rack of the oven at 350 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes, just until a wooden pick inserted in the center is clean. After removing from oven, run a knife around the edges of the cake layers, and prick the layers with a fork all over. Immediately pour the Infusion Glaze over the layers. Cool for 5 minutes, then turn cakes out of pans onto waxed paper and allow to cool completely. Frost top, sides and middle with Citrus Buttercream Frosting. Best if flavors can marry overnight, but don't feel bad if you just can't wait. (Confession: I usually can't wait!)

Infusion Glaze:
juice of 1 LARGE lemon
juice of 1 LARGE orange
1 cup sugar
a smidge of salt

Combine juices in a small saucepan over medium low heat and bring almost to a boil; add sugar and salt, and stir well just until sugar disappears into the juices. Remove from heat. Refer to recipe for use, which is immediately after cake comes from the oven.

Citrus Buttercream Frosting
zest and juice of 1 large lemon and 1 large orange
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp. salt
10X (confectioners) sugar - (4 to 5 cups)

Zest the lemon and orange, then juice them; set aside. In large mixing bowl, cream butter and  salt, beating at medium speed until very light and fluffy. Add 2 cups of 10X sugar and beat for several minutes. Slowly add the juices and zest, and beat with additional confectioners sugar until the consistency is right for frosting and filling the cake, which is usually  2 to 3 more cups of the 10X sugar. Beat three to five additional minutes  after reaching desired consistency.   Place a cake layer, glazed side up, on a cake plate and use 1 1/2 cups or so of the frosting to fill the cake. Place the other cake layer, glazed side down, over the frosting and frost the cake sides and top, swirling the frosting into lavish curls. If possible, keep in a cake safe overnight. If you just can't wait, enjoy!

Makes 10 to 12 generous slices.