Monthly Archives: February 2014

It Takes a Village To Make Lasagna in the Round

I often look to memories to create many of my recipes. Childhood recollections and early cooking adventures have been inspiring me lately. As much as I love looking back and reinventing, sometimes it’s nice to be anchored in the present. The here and now is replete with inspiration in the person of the wonderful cooks who share their own cooking adventures on the internet.

MarieThis recipe took a village of great cooks to come to fruition. Marie, the Proud Italian Cook shared the idea for a Round Lasagna on her website. Marie, with her unique Italian recipes and beautiful photos has been an inspiration to me. She’s also been very generous with her advice and encouragement about the finer points of food blogging. Thanks, Marie, and I hope I’ve done your idea justice.ina-garten-0207-xlg

I chose to use homemade ricotta for the main filling. I love the consistency and flavor of homemade compared to store-bought. I’ve always used Ina Garten’s recipe. It’s easy, virtually foolproof, and easily adapts to variation. For this recipe I heated the milk with several smashed garlic cloves and used Champagne Vinegar to create the curds and whey.

Lidia-Bastianich-ChefHomemade ricotta almost insisted on homemade pasta to cradle it’s decadent creaminess. I’ve recently started using a different pasta dough recipe. Any pasta dough starts as flour eggs and olive oil, but Lidia Bastianich’s recipe has given me the best results. Her recipe uses a processor, but I opt to do it all by hand. From flour “nest” to elastic dough ball, I’m up to my wrists in pasta dough.

The lasagna that I decided to make had some traditional elements, like the Ricotta Spinach filling but there were a few ideas that were off the traditional lasagna path. The middle layer was bacon and leeks.DIGITAL CAMERA I’ve been having a serious romance with this combination lately. From potatoes to pasta to eggs …must be the season of the leek.DIGITAL CAMERA

Another twist on tradition was to make the bechamel with a touch of tomato sauce. I also used a roasted garlic, tomato and basil cheese. The result was pink, creamy deliciousness.

Blushing Bechamel
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A colorful take on a classic Bechamel . Tomato sauce, onions, and garlic are added to the traditional cheese sauce. Great for lasagna or any casserole that needs a gentle blush of color.
Blushing Bechamel
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A colorful take on a classic Bechamel . Tomato sauce, onions, and garlic are added to the traditional cheese sauce. Great for lasagna or any casserole that needs a gentle blush of color.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onion begins to soften and the garlic is fragrant 3 - 4 minutes. Add the flour and stir to combine. Continue to cook, stirring frequently for another minute or so.
  2. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly to keep things smooth. Add the tomato sauce and continue to stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat off and slowly add the cheese, stirring until each addition melts. If you make this ahead of time, cover the surface with wax paper so that a crust doesn't form.
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The Ricotta Filling combined baby spinach, garlic, and Romano cheese with the homemade ricotta and eggs. Pretty traditional as fillings go, but the perfect counterpoint to the other ingredients

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Ricotta and Spinach Lasagna Filling
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Ricotta and Spinach Lasagna Filling
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Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium fry pan. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted 3 - 4 minutes or so. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. Spoon the ricotta into a medium mixing bowl. Lightly beat the eggs and stir into the ricotta. Add the cheese and pepper and stir again.
  3. Add the spinach and garlic mixture to the bowl and stir to combine well. Taste and add salt if needed.
  4. Use in lasagna, as ravioli filling or to stuff shells or manicotti.
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I used a Chicken Sausage the was laced with Sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella. The echoing of the cheese flavors was completely intentional. So, the ingredients were ready, the spring-form pan was oiled…let the show begin.

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When I assembled the lasagna, I used a combination of cheeses which was actually based on what I had in the house. they included  Asiago, Manchego, Romano, and Fresh Mozzarella. They all joined the Garlic, Basil & Tomato Cheese to create a cheese extravaganza that actually worked.

Marie, the Proud Italian Cook shared guidelines for assembly that were invaluable. Those tips made the assembly come off without a hitch.  I created three layers. Two layers (top & bottom )of the Ricotta Spinach Filling topped with sausage and cheese. The Bacon and Leek mixture was the middle layer. Cheese and Sauce crowned the casserole that was destined to spend just over an hour in the oven.

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The results were fantastic. The cheeses melted into the sauce, bubbling up and over the sides creating a beautiful browned crust. I allowed the pie to rest as Marie advised. I must say it looked and smelled so good that it was hard to wait, but I did and it was worth it because it un-molded and sliced beautifully. Oh, and it really tasted good, too.DIGITAL CAMERAThis was such a fun way to make lasagna. My family was impressed with the presentation and over the moon about how it tasted. My culinary minded son even took a picture of it.

To the wonderful cooks who inspired me and to my family who encouraged me. Thank you. Love, Mama D

 

Memories of Relish Trays…and Marinated Vegetables.

When I was a little girl, I loved to go out to dinner with my parents. I got to get dressed up, there was always a Kiddie Cocktail, and while my parents enjoyed their martinis, I’d have the relish tray to myself. I was mainly interested in the olives, carrots, and pickled peppers, but the celery, green onions and radishes all contributed to an edible still life on a metal tray that made me feel like a grown-up. That is, until my mother scolded me for eating the black olives off my fingers.IMG_2813Relish trays appeared at every family gathering that I remember. All my aunts had a cut glass relish tray. Every tray was different and every aunt filled it differently. This is my mother’s plate. It is one of many treasures from her kitchen that I still lovingly use.DIGITAL CAMERAradishroseThere were always green onions on the tray with salt, and pepper near by. Green and black olives, pits and all, were mounded or used as a garnish. Then there was the ubiquitous radish rose. These weren’t the exquisite beauties that now qualify as food porn, but the “rustic” four quick cuts variety that “bloomed” in cold water. This was probably my first knife skill. I was given a dull paring knife and I’m sure my mother held her breath the entire time. $(KGrHqVHJE4FGBKnjsr)BRjlt7OJU!~~60_12

Occasionally a marinated vegetable or two would show up on the plate. If it was my mother’s tray there would be Aunt Nellie’s Pickled Beets. This was her required element and no other brand would do. Back then I thought that Aunt Nellie was as real as Betty Crocker. Her picture was on the jar and in the ads, so she had to be a real person.

I have a relish tray at most gatherings and because I am a huge fan of “vinegary” sweet & sour flavors, there are marinated vegetables. If a veggie is a little less than perfect or not really in season, marinating can elevate them to tastier heights. Each vegetable has it’s own preparation and flavor profile. The recipes that follow are only suggestions and are therefore open to anyone’s interpretation or variation. Another note. These are not pickled or processed. Once made, they must live in the refrigerator until they are eaten which should happen within a week.DIGITAL CAMERA

Lets start the party with Marinated Zucchini. Sliced zucchini is salt brined for an hour or two to remove some of the water so that more of the marinating liquid is absorbed. Red onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes, and lemon zest enhance the White Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil Dressing.

Marinated Zucchini
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Marinated Zucchini
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Layer zucchini slices in a colander. Sprinkle each layer liberally with salt. Let sit for 1 to 2 hours to draw out some of the liquid. Rinse and pat dry. Put in a large non reactive bowl.
  2. Add the onion and garlic to the bowl and toss to combine. Mix the remaining ingredients together and pour over the vegetables. Toss to combine.
  3. Pack into a clean wide mouth jar or pour into a quart size zip top bag. Refrigerate at least overnight and up to three days. Serve as part of a relish tray, on a salad, or as a side dish.
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DIGITAL CAMERAAsparagus is another outstanding marinating candidate. Well trimmed spears are blanched and shocked before being bathed in a lemon and dry vermouth vinegrette. Garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, and peppercorns round out the flavors.

Marinated Asparagus
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Marinated Asparagus
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and boil for two minutes. Remove from pan and immediately put into a bowl of ice water. Drain and allow to dry on papaer towels.
  2. Place the asparagus, lemon zest, rosemary, and peppercorns into a zip top bag.
  3. Mix the remaining ingredients together and pour over the ingredients in the bag. Seal tightly and turn several times to distribute the dressing.
  4. Refrigerate at least overnight and up to two days. Serve as part of a relish tray, in a salad or as a side dish.
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DIGITAL CAMERAMushrooms marinate beautifully. This works equally well with White Button or Crimini Mushrooms. I like Tarragon with mushrooms, but you could leave it out if you’re not a fan. I saute the onions and garlic first then add the other ingredients. Cooking the mushrooms until the liquid reduces slightly will insure the best flavor.

Marinated Mushrooms
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Marinated Mushrooms
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp cloth. Slice 1/4 inch thick. Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add the onion and garlic. Saute until the onion is softened and the garlic is fragrant, 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the vinegar, brown sugar, lemon pepper and tarragon. Simmer mixture for a few minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently. The liquid should reduce and thicken slightly.
  4. Put in a glass jar or zip top bag and refrigerate overnight or for up to 3 days. Serve as part of a relish tray, on a salad, or as a side dish.
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DIGITAL CAMERALast but not least are Mama D’s Pickled Beets. Unlike Aunt Nellie’s, these beets are roasted before being joined by a mixture of cider vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, coriander and mustard seed. Light brown sugar adds the necessary sweetness.

Mama D's Pickled Beets
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Mama D's Pickled Beets
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Wash the beets well and dry. Lay on a sheet of foil that has been lightly coated with non-stick spray. Roast in oven for 45 minutes to an hour. The beets should feel tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to be handled.
  2. Peel the beets and slice 1/4 inch thick. Place in glass jar or zip top bag and set aside. You can prepare the liquid while the beets are roasting.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat and allow to steep for 30 minutes or so.
  4. Strain the liquid and pour it over the beets. Seal the jar or bag and marinate in refrigerator at least overnight and up to 3 days. Serve as part of a relish tray, in a salad, or as a side dish.
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Think of including one or two of these recipes for your next party. You’ll get to play the homemade card while saving money by not using “store bought”. Relish trays may be dated, but they are a delicious expression of a kitchen of love. Mama D

Memories of Julia…Italian Beef Stew

Beef Stew, a quintessential Winter dish, has as many variations as there are cooks. It is a comfort food that can be simple and satisfying or elegant and complex. The process is time-consuming, but the results are worth it.

I have so many memories of my mother’s cooking, but there isn’t a single one of stew. Chicken Cacciatore came closest, but that’s technically braising. My first adventure or memory for that matter, of stew was making Beef Bourguignon after watching Julia Child. I’ve made this recipe for years, but I wanted something different, so I went about putting an Italian spin on things.

Could I be breaking new ground here? Of course not. Stew goes back to ancient times, including the Romans. I did find a traditional recipe for “Peposo” a dish from Florence featuring chunks of beef, lots of black pepper, and red wine. It was invented back in the 14th century by tile makers who put these ingredients into terra-cotta pots and cooked it by the heat of the furnace. My beef stew incorporates Peposo’s ingredients and oh, so much more.DIGITAL CAMERAMy wine of choice was Sangiovese, considered by many to be the King of Italian wine grapes. It’s the principle wine in Chianti. Usually fruity but with noticeable acidity and tannins, It can hold its own in this stew as well as on the table.DIGITAL CAMERA

The beef was Chuck Eye Roast. This is lean and tender as chuck cuts go. The muscles are fairly large and can be cut up without too much difficulty. Read that as those pesky membranes are few and loose enough to be dispatched quickly. Cutting the meat yourself will save you money  and allow you to cut the pieces the size you want. I like to eat my stew with a spoon and/or fork so I opted for one and a half-inch pieces.DIGITAL CAMERA

I used bacon because I like the smokieness of it, but pancetta would work well and probably be more Italian. The bacon provided the fat to brown the meat, done in batches so that they would brown instead of steam.DIGITAL CAMERA

DIGITAL CAMERAThen came the Sofritto. My understanding of Soffrito is that while traditionally it’s the same flavor base as its French cousin, Mirepoix, it can be any combination of aromatics, and since I’m not a fan of celery, I chose to use onions, garlic, and carrots. I chopped up a good size sprig of fresh rosemary, added some fennel seeds and red pepper flakes and rounded out the aromatics with bay leaf and lemon zest.DIGITAL CAMERA

All of this went into the dutch oven now beautifully coated with brown bits. A little tomato paste and more than a little wine to de-glaze the pan and I was well on my way to creating stewing magic.DIGITAL CAMERAThe beef goes back in  along with some beef stock, water and a little more wine if you dare. Bring it up to a simmer, cover it  and pop it in a low oven (325 degrees.) In order to get the meat tender and not over cook the vegetables, let the beef cook for about an hour.DIGITAL CAMERA

When the time was right, I added the vegetables that take the longest to cook. In this case, it was yellow onions, carrots and lots of sliced garlic. I opted to add the cremini mushrooms a little bit later since they cook more quickly.DIGITAL CAMERA

The stew cooked for about two and a half hours. When it came out of the oven, the meat was tender, the vegetables were cooked, but still identifiable, and the sauce was slightly thickened and smelled like heaven. (there are worse things you could  imagine heaven smelling like).

It was now time to guild the lily. I added some sliced Kalamata olives, parsley, and fresh lemon juice. The olives added an interesting taste and texture. The acidity of the lemon juice did wonders for refining the richness of the sauce, and the parsley was pretty. DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s always nice to have some kind of starch to serve with the stew. The sauce is wonderful and it would be a shame to leave it in the bottom of the bowl. I decided to use Farro.

DIGITAL CAMERAThis Italian super grain has a slightly chewy texture and a nutty barley like taste. It cooked quickly and stood up perfectly to the hearty richness of the stew. DIGITAL CAMERA Rosemary, lemon

Some shavings of Pecorino Romano and a dusting of parsley and it was ready to serve. It was wonderful the first time, but the second day it was amazing.

Italian Beef Stew
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An Italian-ized version of classic Beef Stew. Make it your own with wine, vegetable, and aromatics choices.
Servings
8
Servings
8
Italian Beef Stew
Print Recipe
An Italian-ized version of classic Beef Stew. Make it your own with wine, vegetable, and aromatics choices.
Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Before you begin cooking, put your cooking vessel in the oven. Adjust the rack so that the covered pot will fit and slide in and out easily. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Heat a 5 -6 quart dutch oven. Add the bacon pieces and cook until the bacon is brown, but not crisp. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Leave the drippings in the pan and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
  3. Cut the meat in 1-1/2 inch to 2 inch pieces. Dry on paper towels for at least 10 minutes (this helps the meat brown). Season the meat with salt and pepper just before browning.
  4. Brown the meat in batches turning to brown all sides. Put the browned meat into a bowl. If the pot is becoming dry, add additional olive oil. Set the bowl of browned meat aside.
  5. Add the chopped onions, garlic, and carrots to the pot and begin to cook over medium low heat. Add the bay leaf, rosemary, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, lemon zest and tomato paste. Cook, stirring often for 3 or 4 minutes. Return the bacon to the pot.
  6. Add the cup of red wine and stir to loosen the browned bits and de-glaze the pan. Continue to cook for a few minutes until things are smelling beautiful. Add the beef stock and water, (and a little more wine if you want). Bring the mixture to a boil.
  7. Add the beef and any accumulated juices to the pot. Cook until the mixture returns to a simmer. Once it is gently simmering, cover it and place in the oven. Cook covered for one hour.
  8. Remove the pot from the oven and add the onion wedges and sliced garlic. Mix gently, cover and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
  9. Remove the pan from the oven and add the mushrooms. Stir to gently combine. Cover and return to the oven.
  10. Check the meat after 45 minutes or so. The meat should be fork tender, but not falling apart. When the meat is perfect, remove the pot from the oven.
  11. Add the lemon juice and olives. Stir to incorporate. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl or ladle into individual dishes. Sprinkle with the parsley.
  12. This can be served as is with crusty bread or on top of your starch of choice; pasta, polenta, farro, etc.
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This was worth the time it took to prepare. I’m afraid Julia’s Beouf  will have to move over, Mama D’s Manzo is joining the club.

Pulled Chicken, Cookbook Memories and Bacon Cornbread

In case anyone is keeping score Winter seems to be winning by a snow mound, a really big snow mound…at the end of my driveway. With so much time spent indoors, I find myself strolling down memory lane. Memories can make us more enlightened to what we’re doing in the present. I also have lots of time to surf the internet.

I found the Pulled Chicken recipe that I used for inspiration online. I get a lot of ideas from what I see there. I don’t think that I’m alone in relying on the internet. It’s easy, quick and full of possibilities. I bet you’ve gone there too, in search of the perfect recipe (maybe even on my website).

Every time I head down to the computer, I walk past a shelf filled with cookbooks. Occasionally I stop and think, I know there’s a recipe for what I’m looking for somewhere up there, but I’ve become such a creature of the quick fix, Google  search, that I head downstairs and scroll through far more recipes than is necessary.

I’ve come to realize that by seeking this “quick fix” I’m leaving an incredible resource literally sitting on the shelf. I’ve always loved looking through cook books. I have been known to read them cover to cover like a novel. What happened? The ease and incredible volume of what is available at the touch of a keystroke has made me lazy. If looking through family recipe boxes has given me a new voice, then perhaps reading a cookbook now and again could give it more resonance.Scan_Pic0026

Laziness sent me back to my cookbook library. I thought that corn bread would go well with the Pulled Chicken. I just needed a basic Corn Bread recipe and I honestly didn’t want to go downstairs again and scroll through hundreds of options. There on the shelf by the stairs were my  Doubleday Cook Books.DIGITAL CAMERA I found the recipe in about a minute and was pulling the ingredients out of the pantry in less than that. The recipe was very basic, (Flour, cornmeal, leavening, liquid, and fat). Left to my own resources,  I decided to make Cornbread with Bacon using Buttermilk for liquid  and Bacon Drippings for fat.Scan_Pic0029

Before the internet became my darling, I referred to the Doubleday Cookbook for many cooking questions. It’s been my reference of choice since my sister-in-law gave it to me in 1980. She swore by it, and knew I would love it, too. She was right. The fact that the binding is cracked and a few pages are falling out attests to how often I’ve turned to it.

It’s easy to use, filled with “how to” illustrations from boning a fish to rolling croissants . The recipes cover everything from brown stock and white sauce to how to prepare Squirrel. The two volumes weigh in at almost 1500 pages. Authored by Jean Anderson in 1975, it won numerous awards. She revised it in 1985 to incorporate the changing American palate and interest in nutrition. Sadly, both versions are out of print now, though there are copies available on Amazon anEBay.

Now, about that Pulled Chicken…the idea intrigued me. A lighter, healthier answer to Pulled Pork and another use for the boneless skinless chicken thighs that needed to come out of the freezer. When I make Pulled Pork, I use my Slow Cooker. The inspiration recipe used a Slow Cooker, so I decided to use one, too. DIGITAL CAMERA

It started as boneless skinless chicken thighs and a tomato based barbecue sauce, Onions and garlic had to be part of the entourage because Mama D puts onions and garlic in most everything.DIGITAL CAMERA

The Sauce included a varied cast of characters. Smoked Paprika led the parade and helped create the vivid red sauce. My husband has, for lack of a better word, a delicate palate, so my spice choices were on the mild side. I barely did more than say cayenne over the bowl. I think pumping up the heat and spice in this would be excellent, so if you think heat is neat, be my guest. I used a mustardy “Carolina” type barbecue sauce from Trader Joe’s, but you could use any BBQ sauce home or store made. Three Kings Spice Blend comes from Caboose Spice & Company . It’s sweet, spicy, smokey, and not too salty. 

DIGITAL CAMERAAs Slow Cooker recipes go, this one was ready in a relativelyDIGITAL CAMERA short time. It was ready in less than 5 hours. A couple of forks and a few minutes later it was a mound of tender, juicy, and fragrant shreds of chicken.

The chicken went back into the pot to let the sauce get acquainted with every surface. I had my Bacon Cornbread ready and because it tasted so delicious, I smothered a generous hunk of the bread with Pulled chicken, and to get back to this being a healthier alternative, I topped it with some Mustard Coleslaw.DIGITAL CAMERA

 

My ideas didn’t end there. I’ve included an extra mini recipe for Poutine. This is Canada’s gift to our cholesterol level. Usually french fries, brown gravy, and cheese curds my version includes Pulled Chicken and lots of toppings.

Mama D's Pulled Chicken
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Mama D's Pulled Chicken
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Trim chicken thighs of as much visible fat as possible. Layer in a 5 - 6 quart Slow Cooker coated lightly with non-stick cooking spray, placing the onions and garlic in between the layers.
  2. Mix the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined. Pour over the chicken, onion, and garlic. Move things around so that the chicken is evenly covered with the sauce.
  3. Cook on the low heat setting for 4 - 5 hours. The chicken should be very tender and just starting to fall apart. Remove the chicken to a heat resistant cutting board. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Using two forks, shred the chicken into uniform pieces. Return the chicken and any accumulated juice to the slow cooker. Raise heat to high and tilt the cover slightly. Cook an additional 20 - 30 minutes,until the sauce has thicken slightly and everything is hot.
  5. Serve the Pulled Chicken in sandwiches, tacos, or quesadillas. It's also great sitting atop rice, pasta or corn bread. You can even eat it all by itself.
  6. Mama D's Poutine: Top oven baked french fries with Pulled Chicken. Garnish with any or all of the following: Shredded cheddar cheese, blue cheese crumbles, bacon bits, sliced green onions, ranch dressing.
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The pulled chicken is a keeper. I’m grateful that the I found the inspiration recipe online and that I can share my inspiration with you. I’m even happier that I have become re-acquainted with my cook book shelf. Winter is not going anywhere any time soon. I think I may curl up with a glass of wine and a good (cook) book.

Love, Mama D

Memories of Good Cakes… and a Memorable Marble Poundcake

Scan_Pic0018When it comes to baking the possible Undisputed Queen of the Oven is Cake. Cookies and breads, muffins and pies, all are wonderful in their own right, but cake is something bigger. Baking a cake is kitchen chemistry at it’s finest. Cakes have been around since man discovered flour, Check out this brief but entertaining  History of Cake for more information.

When I was growing up cake was always the star of the dessert table at special occasions. Birthday cakes were always homemade, and often cakes were made for no special reason at all. Cake was the go to dessert in the fifties and I’m sure long before I was licking beaters and sneaking a finger full of frosting, cake was every wife and mother’s testament to good baking.Scan_Pic0020

My mother had her go to cakes; the ones that she could probably make in her sleep but that always earned her high praise. The two I remember the most are Carrot Cake and Banana Cake. Her Carrot Cake was a straight forward take on the popular recipe. It was a one bowl wonder that included walnuts, carrots of course, and cinnamon. No raisins or pineapple. not even cream cheese frosting. This was the essence of carrot cake resting atop a  fluted milk-glass cake stand. Baked in a tube pan, it sliced into moist and  tender wedges.Scan_Pic0022

Her Banana Cake was also a study in less is more, so much more. It was a “2 Egg Sour Milk Cake” with the special addition of ripe mashed bananas, baked in a 13 X 9 inch pan that featured her never duplicated Buttercream Frosting. I say it’s never been duplicated because I’ve never been able to make it properly, even with the recipe right in front of me. It turned out so abysmally that I stopped trying about twenty years ago. I have however, made a promise to myself that I will master this “Dough Frosting” and when I do, I’ll share it right here.

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Neither of these cakes is appearing in this post. Due to the copious amount of “family recipes” that I’ve amassed over the years and filed away in no apparent order. I just found them this morning. Speaking of family recipes, I found this Little Book of Good Cakes  in my husband’s Grandmother’s wooden recipe box. It was a free booklet given away with IGA cake flour. Unfortunately, it isn’t dated and other than someone who has one to sell, I didn’t find any more information on it. My guess is it dates from 1950 or earlier. It covers almost everything  you’d find in a modern (high priced) cake cookbook in fourteen pages, with some darn good recipes to boot.

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There is a cake recipe in this post. It’s been my “go to” cake for over thirty years. It is partly homemade since it uses Cake Mix and Instant Pudding. Yes it’s that workhorse home-baked treat from the seventies, The Pudding Pound Cake (aka Bundt Cake). I think Duncan Hines may have created the recipe. If not, they were responsible for furthering its popularity. It’s an easy sell. Simple to make, fancy looking, and possessing endless variations, it is comfortable on a party table or on a chipped cake plate as Wednesday night dessert.

It has traditionally been made in a bundt pan. The fluted tube pan that became the darling of baking in the sixties. Traditionally I’ve made this cake in a bundt pan. Sadly, my bundt pan in all its Avocado Green glory went to the Teflon graveyard several months ago and I haven’t replaced it yet. This Marble Pound Cake had to be baked in loaf pans. Ironically the cake mix package recipe called for two loaf pans…Could it be  a sign of the times?

The ingredients are simple. Cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water and oil.DIGITAL CAMERA

 The ingredients are beaten until they become light and fluffy. This only takes a few minutes, but more than the 2 minutes that the recipe suggests.

DIGITAL CAMERAOne cup of the batter is removed   and combined with the chocolate packet in a small bowl.  DIGITAL CAMERA

The batter is divided between the two prepared loaf pans and swirled to create the marble effect. Then it’s off to the oven to bake for about 45 minutes.DIGITAL CAMERAOnce baked and cooled they are ready to glaze. Taking a page from my mother’s minimalist tendencies, I chose to leave them “au natural”. This cake is however, wonderful with a chocolate glaze that sensuously drips down the sides of the cake and impresses one and all when it is in the classic bundt shape.DIGITAL CAMERA

 

This recipe is fancy enough for company and easy and inexpensive enough for no occasion in particular. It is also open to infinite variations by changing the cake mix or the pudding mix or if you feeling exceptionally randy, adding nuts or chips or …

Marble Pound Cake
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A classic recipe for "bundt cake". Easy to make and adapt for limitless variations. oh, and it's really tasty.
Servings
12 Servings
Servings
12 Servings
Marble Pound Cake
Print Recipe
A classic recipe for "bundt cake". Easy to make and adapt for limitless variations. oh, and it's really tasty.
Servings
12 Servings
Servings
12 Servings
Ingredients
Servings: Servings
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the mixes, oil, water, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Reserve the chocolate cake mix packet for later.
  2. Using a hand mixer, combine the ingredients at low speed until just blended.
  3. With mixer on medium high, blend for 2 - 3 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy and all the lumps are gone.
  4. Remove one cup of the batter and put in a small bowl. Add the contents of the chocolate packet and stir to completely incorporate.
  5. Prepare pan(s). Spray evenly with cooking spray. Sprinkle approximately 1 tablespoon of flour into each pan and tilt and shake to lightly cover the bottom and sides. Tap out any excess.
  6. Divide the vanilla batter between the two pans. If using the bundt pan pour all of the vanilla batter into the pan and shake and tap to distribute evenly.
  7. Spoon the chocolate batter on top of the vanilla batter. Divide the batter if using two loaf pans or use all of it in the bundt pan.
  8. Using a butter knife, swirl the two batters together, Using vertical and horizontal movements and reaching to the bottom of the pan(s).
  9. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes for loaf pans or 50- 60 minutes for bundt pan. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Remove from oven and cool in pans on wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completed on rack.
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 Happy Baking, Mama D