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Monday, May 21, 2018

Crunchy "Chicken" & Rice Casserole


Crunchy "Chicken" & Rice Casserole is a creamy, cheesy rice and vegetarian "chicken" casserole baked with a crunchy crumb topping. Makes a great dinner or supper dish.  Serve it with a salad for a full meal or as a side-dish with beans and vegetables.

Here's another all-in-one dish that can be used for a full meal or as a side-dish.  I've had this recipe for years.  I believe it was in a little pamphlet that came with canned Worthington or Loma Linda foods.  Not sure any more as the pamphlet is long gone but the recipe remains.  Or, I should say, the skeleton of the recipe remains because  I've changed it some.  It originally called for a can of cheese soup, which I never have and don't like, and for the canned soy chicken, which I have used but it's hard to get where I live.  

I made this casserole Sunday night for supper.  We had a little celebration for my birthday because Peter, Vicki and Lori had come bearing gifts, ha, ha.  This is the long Victoria Day weekend in Canada so I usually celebrate my birthday on this weekend as it often falls within the boundaries of the holiday.  But this year my birthday is tomorrow on Tuesday so that means more cake tomorrow, hahahahaha!😀🎂

Enough of cake talk.  The Crunchy "Chicken" & Rice Casserole was a great success.  Everyone enjoyed it (except for Lori who is still developing her palate and does not always appreciate my offerings) and some of us went back for seconds.  


Crunchy "Chicken" & Rice Casserole
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2½ cups milk
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
¼ teaspoon pepper or to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups cooked rice
2 cups diced  soy “chicken” or burgers/nuggets
¼ cup chopped parsley or 2 tablespoons freeze-dried parsley
¾ cup corn flake crumbs or dry bread crumbs 
2 tablespoons melted butter

Cook rice before assembling casserole.  Use your favourite rice, white or whole grain.  

Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Grease an 8-inch square baking dish or a 6-cup casserole dish.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter and add the flour.  Cook together for 1 minute.  Add the milk; stir and cook until thickened and comes just to a boil.  Add the salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and stir in the grated cheese until melted.   

Spread 2 or 3 tablespoons cheese sauce over the bottom of the prepared baking dish/casserole.  Arrange layers of rice, diced chicken, parsley, and cheese sauce in  the dish.  Make three layers.  Combine cornflake crumbs with butter.  Sprinkle over chicken mixture.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until casserole is bubbling and top is crispy.  Remove from oven and let set a few minutes before serving.

Makes approximately 4-6 servings.



Cook the rice before you assemble the casserole.  This can be done the day before.

Use whatever vegetarian "chicken" you have on hand.  Today I had Yves Veggie Nuggets in the freezer and they work very well in this casserole.  But use your favourite or whatever you have on hand.  Notice the Yves Veggie Nuggets are vegan.  You can use vegan options for the milk, butter and cheese to make this a vegan dish.  


Cut the chicken in small pieces. I did not precook the nuggets because they will cook in the casserole, but you may precook them if you wish.


To make the cheese sauce melt the butter and stir in the flour.  

Let this mixture cook about 1 minute. This will help remove any raw flour taste from the sauce.


Pour in the milk and stir and cook until thickened and the mixture comes to a boil.  Add salt and pepper.


Remove the sauce from the stove and stir in the grated cheese until melted.

 Layer the rice, chicken, parsley and sauce.  Make 3 layers all together.

Mix the crushed corn flakes with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and sprinkle over the top of the layered casserole.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until bubbling and the top is crisp.


I served the Crunchy "Chicken" & Rice Casserole for my birthday supper.  We easily had 6 servings when it was served as a side-dish. (And some of us went back for seconds.)


A closer look at Don's plate.
   
A great dinner or supper dish!

 To print click on arrow upper right side.⇩           

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Drop Doughnuts


Drop Doughnuts with Cinnamon Sugar are crunchy, sweet, little bites of doughnut bliss.  

I read somewhere that Canada has more doughnut shops per capita than any other country.  And for sure the shops are everywhere and the variety of doughnuts seems endless!  Honey Crullers are my favourite but Long Johns are great, too and so are the Sour Cream Glazed doughnuts.  Oh, who am I kidding?  Give me any doughnut (except chocolate) and I'll chomp down and demolish the whole thing while you are gone to get me a napkin, ha.  It's so hard to make up my mind.  Maybe that's why the little doughnut holes are so popular.  You get a box with samples of lots of your favourite doughnuts.  Yes, I can pop a quite a few of those sweet babies if I don't control the urge.  Tim Horton's call them Timbits and Dunkin' Donuts call them Munchkins and other places call them donut holes or drop doughnuts.  Whatever they are called they are sweet little nuggets of doughnut bliss.  I think you will agree that it may be a good thing that I don't buy or make doughnuts very often.

My love affair with doughnuts started as a child when Mom would bring a big box of doughnuts home from Woolworth's.  Oh, boy were they ever good!  I'm still quite fond of doughnuts but, as I stated above, I don't eat or make them very often.  The last doughnuts I made were Sugared Orange Yeast Raised Doughnuts away back in 2015.  They were really tasty.  But that was three years ago.  I think it's time for more homemade doughnuts!

And the doughnuts that are on my mind are the little drop doughnuts that can be eaten by the dozen if one is not mindful of one's hand reaching for just another. . . Well, actually, when preparing any recipe for this blog I am continually tasting to make sure the seasoning, flavour and texture is just right.  How could I do less for doughnuts?  All this tasting is a chore but I do it for you, my family, friends and blog readers. . . sigh. . . 

I've adapted this recipe from the red Betty Crocker Cookbook published in the 1970s.  They were originally called Golden Puffs but the title gave no indication that these were doughnuts.  If you don't like nutmeg, use cinnamon or leave them plain.  These little doughnuts are tossed in cinnamon sugar but you can glaze them if you wish.  

Caution Although making doughnuts can be lots of fun it can also be dangerous if small children or pets are in the kitchen.  Keep the kiddies and their pets out of the kitchen.  Use a deep fat thermometer if using a pot on the stove.  You'd be surprised how hot a pot of oil can get if you don't have a thermometer to help gauge the temperature.

Note: A scant cup of milk means don't quite fill the measuring cup to the one cup mark.  

Drop Doughnuts with Cinnamon Sugar
2 cups flour
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup oil
1 cup milk, scant
1 teaspoon vanilla or lemon extract
1 egg

Oil for deep frying, enough to fill your pot or fryer 3 or 4 inches deep

Cinnamon Sugar Coating
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oil in deep fat fryer or in a heavy pot to 375 degrees.  The fat should be 3 or 4 inches deep.  If using a pot on the stove be very careful and do not leave the kitchen while pot is on the stove. 

While oil is heating make the doughnut batter.

Measure flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg into a bowl.  Stir to combine.  Add the oil, milk and egg to the flour and beat until smooth.  

As soon as the fat reaches 375 degrees drop the batter in by teaspoonfuls.  Do not make the doughnuts too large or they will not cook through the middle. Fry no more than 5 or 6 doughnuts at a time for about 3 minutes or until golden brown on both sides.  Drain doughnuts on paper toweling.  

Before frying each batch of doughnuts bring the temperature of the oil back to 375 degrees. A cooking thermometer is a valuable kitchen tool when deep frying on the stove. 

Mix the sugar coating ingredients together and and then roll or toss the warm doughnuts in the sugar mixture.  I like to put the cinnamon sugar in a paper bag and toss the doughnuts around in the sugar. 

Makes 2 ½ - 3 dozen drop doughnuts.


Heat the oil in a deep fryer or heavy bottom pot to 375 degrees.

While the oil is heating mix the doughnut batter.  Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg together.  Add the milk, egg, oil and flavouring and beat until smooth.


Carefully drop batter by teaspoonful into hot oil.  Fry no more than 5 or 6 doughnuts at a time.  Make sure you bring the temperature of the oil back up to 375 degrees before you fry each batch.


Drain the doughnuts on paper toweling.  I forgot to get a picture of the unsugared doughnuts but you can see what I mean.


I just couldn't resist adding some chopped apple to the last of the batter to make mini apple fritters.  They were really good.


While the doughnuts are still warm roll them in the cinnamon sugar mixture.  I find a brown paper lunch bag the best way to do this.  Drop 3 or 4 doughnuts in the bag and gently shake or tip the bag up and down.  You'll get perfectly sugar coated doughnuts.


A couple of bites each makes 3 doughnuts a good serving.
  
When the oil has cooled you can strain it through a coffee filter. Store it in a covered container in the refrigerator. 

Because of my obligation to quality control I tasted several of these Drop Doughnuts so there isn't quite 3 dozen doughnuts on this plate. Don also helped.


Doughnuts always taste best the day they are made but these are still moist and delicious on day 2.  

Drop Doughnuts make for a seriously good tasting treat!

  To print click on arrow upper right side.⇩           

Friday, May 04, 2018

Marble Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting



Marble Spice Cake with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg is a lovely, old-fashioned cake baked in a bundt or tube pan.  A nice change from chocolate.  

One of the first cakes I made by myself was a Marble Spice Cake.  Normally, Mom would have been in the kitchen supervising my culinary feats but not this Sunday morning.  Heather and I had been in bed reading the weekend paper.  Well, not the news, of course.  I was more interested in the comics and even more interested in the food column written by Margo Oliver in the Weekend Magazine, an insert in the paper.  Many of the recipes had strange ingredients that we never had in our house but nevertheless I immersed myself in anything she wrote.  The cake recipes were more familiar with flour, butter, sugar and eggs that we always had in our kitchen.  I must have been about 10 years old at the time when I decided I'd try a couple of her recipes.  Heather picked one (lost in my memory) and I chose the Marble Cake. 

It must have been quite early because both Mom and Dad were still in bed having a well deserved Sunday morning sleep-in.  By the time they came to the kitchen I was well on my way to opening up a home run cake bakery!  Ha, ha.  I remember both cakes turned out lovely.  Sure wish I could remember what I baked for Heather.  She'll let me know if she remembers.  But the Marble Cake was my triumph. Funny, I didn't copy that recipe in my recipe scrapbook.  It was lost forever and still is.  

Edit: Just as I thought, Heather remembers the cake I made for her!  It was a cherry cake and still her favourite.

I've searched the internet for Margo Oliver's Marble Spice Cake to no avail.  I've searched my own cookbook and recipe collection for a Marble Spice Cake and only found one which was quite involved. Too much work for me.   But just a few months ago I was again perusing one of Mom's old cookbooks.  It was the one Uncle Walter gave her from the United Church in Sidney River, Nova Scotia and there it was, a recipe for Marble Cake submitted by Jean Howie. 



Not your ordinary chocolate marble cake (for which a myriad of recipes abound), but a spice marble cake like the one I had made so many years ago.  No separating the yolks and whites.  Just one cake batter divided.  Oh, joy.   As was, and still is, common in church and school fundraising cookbooks, instructions were limited.  Fortunately, this recipe at least had ingredient measurements and the oven temperature given.   And interestingly, the era of the recipe would have been about the same--late 1950s-early '60s.  Maybe Jean Howie copied the recipe from the Weekend Magazine and it's the same one I made! Who knows?  I don't. Ha, ha.  

The only changes I made to the recipe are the addition of vanilla extract and I increased the recipe by one-third to make a larger cake.  As there was no pan size I opted for a bundt pan but I'm sure a 9x13-inch pan would work as well.  

Printable recipe at bottom of page.

Marble Spice Cake
3 cups sifted cake flour*
3 teaspoons baking powder
Scant ½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter
1½ cup sugar
3 eggs
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1 cup milk
1½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cloves
¾ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup molasses

*To measure the cake flour, sift about 3 cups and then measure exactly 3 cups of flour.  Proceed with recipe. If you do not have cake flour measure 3 cups all-purpose flour and remove 6 tablespoons.  Replace with 6 tablespoons cornstarch, sift and re-measure.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and flour a 10-cup bundt or tube pan.

Sift or mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.  Lay aside.

In a large bowl, using a hand or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Beat in vanilla.  Add the flour mixture, in three additions, alternately with the milk beating smooth after each addition. Place half the batter in medium sized bowl and add the cinnamon, cloves nutmeg and molasses.  This is your spice batter.  

Spoon the vanilla and spice batter into the prepared pan, alternating the batters.  Swirl with the tip of a knife until a marbled effect is achieved.

Bake in preheated oven 45 minutes or until tester or toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let rest in pan 10 minutes before turning out on cooling rack.  Let cool completely before frosting or storing.  Frost with Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting or your favourite vanilla or cream cheese frosting.

Makes 1 cake, about 12-16 servings. 


Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting 
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
¼ cup butter, room temperature
About 2 cups icing sugar, sifted if lumpy
½ teaspoon vanilla 
2 tablespoons milk or as needed

Melt the brown sugar in the first 2 tablespoons milk.  You may microwave for a few seconds to make sure the mixture is smooth. 

Beat the butter until fluffy.  Add the icing sugar gradually until the mixture become very thick.  Beat in the vanilla and melted brown sugar and continue beating.  Beat in the remainder of the sugar and only add enough milk to reach a spreadable consistency.  For a fluffier frosting, beat another 2 minutes on medium high speed.



When a recipe calls for sifted cake flour, sift first and then measure. Add the salt and baking powder to the measured flour.

Cream the butter and sugar together.  Add eggs one at a time and beat well.  Don't forget the vanilla. Add the flour alternately with the milk.  This means flour, milk, flour, milk and finish with flour.  Beat well after each addition of flour and milk. You will now have your vanilla batter ready to divide.

Next you will divide the vanilla batter and add molasses, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to make the spice batter.

Have a medium sized bowl ready to divide the vanilla batter.  Add molasses, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to half the batter to make the spice batter.  You are now ready to marble the batter.

Make sure you generously grease and flour the bundt or tube pan before spooning in the batter.  Alternate the vanilla and spice batter as you add it to the baking pan.


When all the batter is in the pan, take the tip of a knife and swirl the batter around to achieve a marbled effect.


Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until a tester or toothpick comes out clean.  Let rest in pan for 10 minutes.


After resting 10 minutes, turn cake out on cooling rack.  Let cool completely before frosting or storing.

Frost the cooled cake with the Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting but any favourite vanilla or cream cheese frosting will do nicely also.  I lightly sprinkled the frosting with nutmeg and cinnamon.  

I didn't frost my cake all the way to the bottom but there was plenty of frosting to spread all over the cake.  I just thought it looked nice like this.

Thank you, Jean Howie, for this lovely old-fashioned marble cake.

Marble Spice Cake makes a nice change from chocolate!

  To print click on arrow upper right side.⇩           

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Potatoes Dauphinoise. . . creamy, luscious Potato Gratin


Potatoes Dauphinoise are a French inspired, creamy, luscious potato scallop layered with cream and milk and baked to golden brown perfection.

I love potatoes.  Mashed, baked, fried, and scalloped potatoes go down good at just about any meal.  I even like them with pasta.  But these potatoes are special and very rich, made with heavy cream and the option to add cheese.

Now, a word of warning, a caution, a disclaimer: DO NOT EAT THESE EVERY DAY OR EVEN EVERY WEEK!  I WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE IF YOU GAIN WEIGHT.  Okay, now that that's out of the way I'll explain.  These potatoes are so rich in cream they could just make you break out in fat if you ate them too often.  They are so delicious you'll want to eat them all the time but please constrain yourself for your health's sake.  Keep them for special meals with family and friends so there won't be any left overs for you to eat.  

Although these potatoes have a fancy name they are really just a potato scallop but one with a French influence.  I've found dozens of recipes and all of them with slight differences.  Some have cheese. Some are plain. Some are made with just milk.  Some are made with just cream.  And some are made with a mix of milk and cream.  I even found a recipe which included eggs. The one thing they all have in common beside the potatoes is the seasoning: garlic, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  

When making these potatoes season well with salt. Use pepper to your own taste.  The nutmeg should be used sparingly.  The taste of nutmeg should barely be recognizable and when eating one should wonder what that taste is.  Although in most recipes the garlic is only rubbed over the surface of the dish, a little may be finely chopped and added to some of the layers.  Usually, if using cheese, it is a type of Swiss cheese but if you want to use Cheddar or some other kind go ahead.  Swiss cheese can be very expensive. 


Potatoes Dauphinoise
3 pounds potatoes, peeled (Red or Yukon Gold are good but whatever you have will work)
1 clove garlic, halved
1 tablespoon butter
⅛ -¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup finely grated Gruyere, Emmentaler or Swiss cheese, optional (Or use your favourite cheese.)
1 cup heavy cream (whipping cream)
1½ cups milk
Salt and black pepper

Cut the potatoes into ⅛- to ¼-inch slices.  If you have one, use a food processor with the slicing blade to cut the potatoes. A good sharp knife works very well, too. If you are using new potatoes, you may leave the skin on.  If you are not going to be making the dish immediately, place sliced potatoes in cold water.  Drain and pat dry before using.

You will need a 12-inch round or a 9x12-inch baking dish. Rub the inside of the baking dish with the cut garlic and grease with the butter. If you wish, finely chop the remaining garlic and sprinkle between the layers.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place the milk and cream in a small saucepan and heat below boiling over low heat while preparing the potatoes.

Place a layer of sliced potatoes in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with a little of the nutmeg and salt and pepper. Spoon some of the hot milk/cream mixture over the potatoes. If using, sprinkle a little of the cheese over the potatoes. Repeat layers until potatoes are used up.  Pour any leftover milk/cream over the top of the potatoes.  The potatoes should be almost covered with the milk.  If you find the potatoes are not covered with milk, add a little more. Sprinkle with cheese, if using.  Cover with foil.

Bake in the preheated for 45-50 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake an additional 40-45 minutes until potatoes are soft and the top is a rich golden brown.  Let potatoes set for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Makes 8-10 servings.


The amount of potatoes in 3 pounds will vary according to the size of your potatoes.  You will want enough sliced potatoes to fill your dish about ¾ full.  


The ingredients for the Potatoes Dauphinoise:  Potatoes (of course), milk, cream, cheese which is optional, garlic, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Forgot the butter for greasing the dish.


A food processor makes quick work of slicing the potatoes.  


Rub the cut side of the garlic clove all over the bottom and sides of your baking dish.  Then grease the dish with butter.

Heat the milk and cream together over low heat.  Keep the temperature below boiling.  Don't want to curdle that cream with too high a temperature.

Once the milk/cream, the potatoes and the baking dish are ready you may begin to assemble the casserole.  Place a layer of potatoes on the bottom of the prepared dish.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, the smallest amount of nutmeg and the milk/cream mixture.  

If you are using cheese sprinkle on a few layers.  You do not need cheese on every layer.  Keep some cheese for the top.


Keep building up the layers.  Make sure you season well with salt and keep the nutmeg light.  You really don't want to taste the nutmeg.  You just want a hint. When all the potatoes are layered pour any leftover milk/cream mixture over the top.  You want the liquid to just about cover the potatoes.  Add more milk or cream if you don't have enough.


 Sprinkle the top with more cheese, if using.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake 45-50 minutes.
 After 45-50 minutes, remove the foil and return to oven to bake an additional 40-45 minutes.

 Bake until your potatoes have a lovely golden brown top.

If your potatoes have not browned enough but they are cooked, place under the broiler for 3 or 4 minutes watching carefully they do not burn.

 Before serving let the Potatoes Dauphinoise set for about 10-15 minutes.  

 Serve as a delectable side-dish for any special meal.

Luscious, creamy and oh, so good!


  To print click on arrow upper right side.⇩