Thursday, December 17, 2015

Chocolate Pound Cake

Do you ever just REALLY. NEED. CHOCOLATE. CAKE? Come on, I know you do. Well that was me the other night, so I pulled out a card from my beloved 1973 “McCall’s Great American Recipe Card Collection” (oh you know, the one with the red white and blue logo with the huge American eagle? Yeah, that one. Hard to miss.) and made cake. Because I needed cake. Immediately.

The problem is, this cake isn’t ready immediately. First off, they don’t tell you till step 3 that the butter needs to be room temperature, which means you have to put the eggs and sour cream back in the fridge and watch an episode of “Murder, She Wrote” while you wait. Then get back to it. Second, for a small cake, it needs to bake for over an hour – people, you’ve just bought yourselves another episode! Hello, Angela Lansbury! But have no fear – the cake is good – but the batter? THE BATTER IS THE BEST PART. Make sure to enjoy some while you wait…

And after the 3 (or 200) hours it takes to prepare it, this is actually a nice cake, with decent chocolate flavor similar to my favorite cookies (DSers, see recipe here)  HOWEVER, since I am a very picky customer, I will point out that for a pound cake, it was a little too light and fluffy. Too light and fluffy you say, how is that even possible? How can you complain about that? Well, I prefer a light and fluffy angel food cake but a dense pound cake, call me nuts. Still, this has a nice flavor and is quick to make will give you something to do while you wait for your online stream to buffer ;)

going in...

just out of the oven

1 cup boiling water
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, cut up (Note: 2 oz)
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup butter (NOTE: room temp)
1 ¾ cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup sour cream

1.       In small bowl, pour boiling water over chocolate; let stand 20 minutes to cool.
2.       Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease well and flour 9x5x3” loaf pan. Sift flour with soda and salt.
3.       In large bowl of electric mixer, let butter stand at room temperature until softened. At high speed, beat butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
4.       At low speed, beat in flour mixture (in fourths) alternately with sour cream (in thirds), beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat in cooled chocolate mixture just until combined. Pour into prepared pan.
5.       Bake 60 to 70 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean.

6.       Cool in pan on wire rack 15 minutes. Transfer from pan to rack; cool completely. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Makes 1 loaf.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Golden Gate Lasagne

from the archives 


When I was about 10, in the year 1981, I went through a huge cutting-things-out-of-the-newspaper phase, and this recipe is one of the survivors from that period. I clipped this, along with several other recipes long-since forgotten, from the San Francisco Chronicle, and carefully taped it into my recipe book, where it has remained these 33 years. And I’ve actually made this recipe several times, so my labors were not in vain, it would seem. Go, 10 year-old me with my scissors and tape and obsessions!

making the sauce

The reason lasagne is so easy is that you just make pasta sauce, build layers of cheese, noodles and sauce, and then bake. I consider it one of those all-purpose meals in that you can make what you like of it, and there are endless variations. Often I make it without meat, which is still tasty and filling. (Throw almost any vegetables in: mushrooms, peppers, spinach, corn… you name it.) Once, however, I made it without cheese: a sad, soupy affair. Not recommended.

building layers

My adaptation of this recipe is such that I use fresh herbs when I have them, and instead of the cottage cheese and mozzarella, I just use ricotta. I also top it with grated parmesan before baking, because: cheese. Finally, I am now using the noodles which don’t require pre-cooking. (Imagine! No fighting with noodles that rip in half as you try to un-stick them from each-other, like devil mating octopi!) I had a real hard time accepting those noodles at first - yes, I’m suspicious. You mean you literally just pull them from the box and place them in the baking dish? Raw? And they work! Hallelujah. 

optional: sprinkle grated parmesan on top before baking (= yum)

Golden Gate Lasagne

½ pound ground beef
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
¼ tsp ground pepper

1 tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp dried basil
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 can (8 oz) stewed tomatoes
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
½ 10-oz package lasagna noodles
¾ cup cottage cheese
¾ cup grated mozzarella cheese

Brown the beef. Stir in the garlic, onion, pepper, oregano, basil, parsley stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the noodles as package directs until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain.
Place a third of the noodles in an 8-inch loaf pan. Layer with the beef sauce, cottage cheese and mozzarella. Repeat, making two more layers.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
Serves 2 or 3

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Coffee Jell-O

It is no secret that I love Jell-O, even the 50s experiments that were once referred to as “salad” that often featured seafood, mayonnaise, onions and other unappetizing ingredients. Jell-O doesn’t have to be disgusting, though! Not only can it be quite refined, the history of gelatin-based foods goes back over one hundred years. 
Here I am, about to enjoy a delightful coffee Jell-O!

This recipe for the perfect after-dinner treat / pick-me-up actually comes from a 1971 book on fondue (the cheerfully titled “Fondue on the Menu” by Beverly Kees and Donnie Flora) but coffee gelatin desserts date back to the turn of the last century. The variety here would have been served after fancy dinners; huge vats of Jell-O made with leftover coffee have been common at church pot-lucks for nearly as long.

Even Fondue cookbooks sneak in Jell-O recipes

This is an easy treat to make, and if you have a fear of the Jell-O mold / un-mold process, make each one in a cocktail glass or small ramekin instead, which gives each guest their own little pot of shimmering caffeinated goodness to enjoy with a demitasse spoon! Word to the wise: the liqueur does not get cooked out, and these will be as strong as the coffee you use.

I'm thrilled to use my new Chemex coffee maker as well as my very own coffee liqueur!

2 Tbsp (2 envelopes) unflavored gelatin
½ cup coffee liqueur
3 cups coffee
¾ cup sugar
Pinch salt
Sweetened whipped cream

In a bowl sprinkle gelatin over liqueur to soften. In a saucepan, warm the coffee and sugar together until the sugar is dissolved. Add the gelatin mixture and salt; stir and heat until all the gelatin is dissolved and the mixture is perfectly clear. Pour liquid into individual molds and chill several hours. Unmold; garnish with whipped cream.