Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Whoopie Pies

So I'm originally from the NE part of this country, and as a child remember having whoopie pies. Whoopie pies are a devils food-like cookie that has a creme filling between a bottom and upper half. In fact I haven't had one since I was a kid.

I have someone I've come to know on Facebook who recently sent me a recipe for, you guessed it, Whoopie Pies! Further, it turns out he had found the recipe on a card from his mother's stock of recipes. (Here's the link to his website) I LOVE old recipes. I remember, as I've often said, as a child baking with my grandmother, and although oftentimes she never used a recipe, she did have some recipe cards in her pantry. I used to look at these, and since her handwriting was indecipherable to me, I was amazed anybody could make anything using them. The other thing I remember is they were always stained with vanilla, or flour, or chocolate, or whatever she had spilled on them over the years.

Anyway, obviously I HAD to make these and did. Took them to work and people raved. Try 'em, you'll like 'em.

I modified the recipe a bit, but only slightly. I wanted to keep it as true to Mom Wymans recipe as I could.

2 1/2 cups King Arthur bread flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup vegetable shortening (Yes, shortening. It won't hurt ya this one time)
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Mix well and refrigerate the dough for 15 mintues in the refrigerator. Drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie. Leave some room between the cookies as they should spread. I used parchment paper and that seemed to retard the spreading and as a result the cookies were taller which made for a huge cookie when put together. In other words, I'd omit the parchment paper. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven. They may not look quite done when you take them out, but they are, don't worry. Let them cool on the sheet for 10 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Now for the filling:

Remember, this is an old time recipe and this filling is kind of different. But, don't substitute if you can help it. This filling fits the cookie perfectly, it's not overly sweet, the texture is perfect, and it appropriately oozes out when eating the Whoopie Pie.

Heat 3 tablespoons flour and 1/2 cup whole milk over medium heat, stirring constantly, until a thick ball forms. Let this cool slightly and add it to a mixing bowl and add 2 cup confectioners sugar, 4 tablespoons of butter (melted), 8 tablespoons of warmed shortening, vanilla, and salt to taste. Whip these ingredients together at high speed for 4 - 6 minutes. It won't aerate, but will get smoother and smoother. Let the filling sit for 15 - 20 minutes so it will cool off slightly.

Spoon filling onto the flat side of one cookie, and top with the bottom of another cookie. Dust with confectioners sugar if you like.

Enjoy! John, thanks for the recipe and the memories.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Stuffed Pork Chops

Very nice Pork Chop recipe. Pork when grilled or sauteed has a tendency to get tough unless cooked very slowly. The best results I find is to saute briefly in a pan on the stove to brown it and then move to the oven and bake until done. And since we're baking it, why not make stuffing at the same time and bake it along with the chops. In fact, now that I think about it, why not STUFF the chops with the dressing?? Nah, I didn't think of it first, I read about it somewhere.

That being said, I put some ingredients together I thought might work, and if I do say so myself, this was awfully awfully good. I suggest you give it a try.

And obviously, I think EVERYTHING I post is good, mainly because, I don't post the BOMB'S I make. lol. (And I make my share of Bombs)

Ingredients and Method:

1 1/2 inch Pork Loin Chops (Boneless or Bone-in)
1 small can peaches
1 tablespoon sage
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup currants
1 egg
1 1/2 cups stuffing
herbs de provence for dry rub

Dice 4 - 5 peach slices and combine with currants and stuffing and sage and stir. Melt butter and add to stuffing mixture. Beat egg and mix into stuffing. Add peach juice from the can a tablespoon or so at a time to moisten the stuffing to your liking.

Cut into the chops from the side almost all the way through to create a pocket. Stuff with mixture and secure with toothpicks or kitchen string.

Heat oil on medium heat, and then add chops and sear on one side. (about 2 minutes) Meanwhile sprinkle the one side with herbs de provence. Carefully turn chops over and sear the other side for two minutes and sprinke the seared side with herbs de provence.

Transfer to oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 170 degrees. Let rest for 10 minutes and serve immediately.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Herbs de Provence Breakfast Potatoes

So my new favorite spice is Herbs de Provence.

Herbs de Provence is a classic herb blend using fresh or dried herbs. Very popular in the Mediterranean South of France, it is used to season everything from soups to grilled chicken. The traditional version uses lavender.

I made some stuffed pork chops the other night (to be posted soon) and used the Herbs de Provence as a dry rub on the chops and they were wonderful. I suspect I'll be using them with chicken very soon also.

The bottle of herbs I have is a combination of dried chervil, basil, rosemary, tarragon, garlic, lavender, marjoram, savory, thyme and parsley. Wow, what a combination.

As I was eating the pork chops it occurred to me I bet these would be good on potatoes also. But the first thing that popped into my head was breakfast potatoes. I have a pet way of making breakfast potatoes and I thought spicing them up with Herbs de Provence would be a great combination. Simply stated? Sigh, I was RIGHT! You got to try these, they beat the heck out of any other breakfast potato I've ever tried, and especially better than processed, frozen, potato hash browns and the like.

What's a bit different perhaps about this type of preparation, is first of all, you are using fresh potatoes. Secondly, by microwaving first you get rid of some of the inherent moisture and get them partially cooked. Then, they brown up perfectly because of the state of the potato. Have you ever grated or chopped or diced fresh potatoes, and find they either come out slimy, or not thoroughly cooked, or starchy? Microwaving first takes care of the moisture and the starch. Trust me. I mean I'm on the internet, it MUST be true, right?

Ingredients and Method:

large russett potato(s)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons herbs de provence
salt and pepper to taste

Eggs prepared to your liking to accompany

Take one or two large russett potatoes, wash under the faucet, pierce 2 or 3 times with a fork and microwave on high for 6 minutes if one potato, and 9 minutes if two potatoes.

Let potatoes cool for 5 minutes, and then cut into 1 inch rounds. Pick the skin off. It should come off fairly easily. Then, chop/dice the potatoes in whatever fashion you like. Here's what I like, I like a bunch of uneven chopping, some chunks, some smaller dice, even tiny pieces. Don't worry it'll come out fine.

Place 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet and bring to medium heat. When butter is just beginning to brown, add potatoes to pan and spread out. Sprinkle with one tablespoon herbs, and let saute for about 5 to 8 minutes until one side starts to brown. Turn potatoes over, and sprinkle the browned side with the remaining herbs, and let brown for 5 minutes. Stir up potatoes in any manner to mix the herbs in well and continue to saute until they are as browned as you like. Add more herbs if you like. You can't hurt this dish, the more the better.

Serve immediately with the eggs of your choice. Obviously, add whatever you want to the potatoes, ketchup, hot sauce, whatever. But perfectly plain is fine. These Taters ROCK!


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Chocolate Yogurt Cake/ Creamcheese Frosting

I guess I'm on a cake jag right now as this is my second cake post without ever having posted one before. This time though, I wanted to make a yogurt cake using my new favorite yogurt, Fage (pronounced Fey-yeh) Greek Yogurt. I have this for breakfast all the time with honey and it simply is so delicious. It is very thick, creamy, and tangy. So I thought it would be perfect to bake with. I decided on a quasi-chocolate pound cake recipe, and what better to top it with than cream cheese frosting.

I seem to have a sweet tooth this week, but let me tell you, this was so good. The cake is dense and moist and not overwhelmed by the frosting. I done good on this one.

2 cups flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (plus 1 tbl for dusting)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 stick butter (melted)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup thick greek yogurt (I recommend Fage)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs

Beat 3 eggs with sugar until well blended. Add butter, salt, baking soda, baking powder and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add flour and yogurt and beat until well blended. Add cocoa and fully incorporate.

Combine 2 tablespoons flour with 1 tablespoon cocoa. Spray a nine inch cake pan and dust with flour/cocoa mixture.

Spoon cake into pan, spread evenly, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.

For the frosting, mix together 1/2 stick room temperature butter with 4 oz room temperature cream cheese. Add confectioners sugar 1/2 cup at time until it is the consistency you want. (Approximately 2 cups)

Frost cake and enjoy!

Friday, April 17, 2009

My kids.... Deployments

Merissa and Tyler

So this is a food blog and shall remain so, but occasionally I feel like posting something personal and this is one of those times.

I have a Son, Tyler who has been in the Navy for 3 years and is on his second deployment upon the USS Eisenhower Aircraft Carrier off the coast of Somalia. (Chasing and scaring pirates I think) In fact I think the Navy ship that took care of the three pirates a week ago is assigned to his flotilla. Here's a staged photo of him he recently sent me. Why he's not in uniform is beyond me, but that's Tyler. Rules? What Rules??

Secondly, my daughter, Merissa has trained for seven years to be a Flight Medic and deployed today to Iraq. She probably won't be back for 360 or so days, and I shall count every one.

Don't get me wrong, I'm terribly proud of the both of them.

All I'm saying is, I want my kids back in this country. I miss them so.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Parmesan Chicken Piccata

So here's a quick, easy, and different way to prepare chicken. It also looks elegant and is really easy to prepare. But it looks like you know what your doin' in the kitchen, ya know? I personally get tired of fried chicken, baked chicken, and chicken casseroles all the time, so at those times I fall back on on my baked Parmesan chicken or my Parmesan chicken Piccata. Here's the Piccata, I hope you try it and like it.

I find pure lemon juice Piccata to be a bit tart so I add some honey to sweeten it up. Please omit the honey if you like.

Ingredients and Method:

1 large skinless chicken breast. (Obviously you can expand to two or more breasts)
1/2 cup flour
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 cup bread crumbs (seasoned ok and even preferable)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 large lemon
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 cup white dry wine
fresh chopped or dried parsley for garnish
3 tablespoons butter

Place chicken breast(s) between two sheets of wax paper and pound out evenly until approximately 1/4 inch in thickness.

Beat egg and pour into plate. Combine flour and salt and pepper (to taste) in another plate. In a third plate combine bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.

Heat skillet to medium with 1 or 2 oz of butter.

Dredge breast in flour, then egg, and then coat liberally in the crumb/parmesan mixture.

Immediately add to hot skillet and saute on one side for 3 minutes until golden brown, flip over and brown again for 3 minutes. Remove to plate and cover with foil to keep warm. (If you didn't thin chicken to 1/4 inch you may need to saute a minute or two more on each side)

Slice lemon open, cut a few slices for garnish and measure 1/3 cup lemon juice into hot pan, add white wine and honey and quarter lemons and add. Bring to a boil and reduce by 1/2 while scraping up the bits in the pan (called 'fond').

Remove from heat. Discard lemon quarters. Add 2 pats of butter and swirl until melted. Salt and pepper to taste.

Place chicken on plate, spoon sauce over, and sprinkle with parsley and add lemon slice for garnish.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Grilled Breakfast Sandwich

I'm kind of a traditional breakfast kind of guy. Eggs, hash browns, toast, sometimes biscuits, occasionally some grits, or pancakes or waffles.

Every once in a while though, I like something a little bit different. Try my grilled breakfast sandwich sometime, you might like it. And obviously there are untold varieties of additions you could make in accordance with your tastes.

Here's my version:
two slices potato bread
two slices bacon
a touch of mayo
scrambled egg (1 or 2)
sharp Tillamook cheddar cheese
butter for frying and buttering bread

Fry bacon in pan until crisp. Remove bacon fat. Scramble the egg(s) to a soft scramble in butter. Remove from pan.

Butter one side of each slice of bread. On the unbuttered side of one spread with a touch of mayonnaise. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese. Place egg on cheese, sprinkle with chives, add two slices of bacon, another light layer of shredded cheddar cheese and top with second slice of bread, butter side up.

Grill sandwich like a grilled cheese sandwich in the pan. Slice and serve immediately.
I make many variations to this, sometimes sausage, sometimes thinly sliced ham, etc. Other things you might use are tomatoes, mushrooms, green onions, tabasco, salsa, etc. Make up your own recipe.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

French Chocolate Cake

So the folks where I work are aware that I have a food blog since a lot of what I make gets distributed at the office. A co-worker of mine, Stephen, sent me a recipe for French Chocolate Cake the other day. He said he had tried a piece a few days earlier and that it was the best he's ever tasted and thought I might like to blog it. The recipe comes from a friend of the family, Louise Rubert.

I made the cake, tried the cake, and guess what, Stephen was right. This cake is delicious. In fact it's so good, NONE was brought to work. The remaining slices are frozen in my refrigerator. LOL

Ingredients and Method:

2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 egg whites


1/2 cup butter - melted
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/2 cup sour cream
Add powdered sugar to desired consistency

Mix sugar and butter together until well blended. Add cocoa, sour cream and salt. Add flour, baking soda and 1/2 cup water and mix thoroughly. Add vanilla extract and 1/4 cup water and mix well.

Beat egg whites until very stiff and gently fold into cake batter until fully incorporated.

Pour into 13 x 9 greased and floured pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean.

Let cake cool completely before frosting. After I made this cake and tasted it I decided the next time I make it I'm going to try a little sea salt on the frosting to give it that popular sweet/salt combination.