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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Homemade Cherry Chip Cake and Happy Valentine's Day!

Cherry Chip Cake is a favourite with children.  I think it's the bright red bits of "cherry" that are sprinkled throughout the cake mix batter.  The "cherries" aren't the real thing, but simulated red candy pieces that trick the taste buds into believing "Ah, cherries".   But nevertheless, children and adults do like this cake.   I like cake mixes but I like homemade cakes much better.  Cake mixes are just too soft for my liking, although I've been known to overlook that flaw and consume more than my fair share of a cake mix cake.  

I never intentionally set out to imitate the famous cake mix.  I just happened to have this recipe in my files.  It's a very old recipe from away back in the 1950s or 60s or even older and it was called "Birthday Cake".  I copied the recipe from a corn syrup recipe pamphlet that I probably lifted from Mom's recipes--I don't remember. I seem to remember something about substituting corn syrup for sugar because of sugar rationing.  Of course, I threw out the pamphlet after I copied what I wanted.  I wish I'd kept it but you know what they say, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride."  Too late to wish that one back.  

I was always intrigued with the recipe because of the amount of corn syrup included.   I'd never made a cake with corn syrup as a main ingredient.  But now I have.  The recipe languished in my files for years but the other day I took it in my head to try it out. I've renamed it because it's actually full of little bits of maraschino cherries and it looks just like a Cherry Chip Cake.   

Because Valentine's Day is just around the corner, I baked the cake in two heart-shaped pans.  So, you may say this is my Valentine to you!

Cherry Chip Cake

½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups sifted cake flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
¼ cup maraschino cherry juice
½ cup milk
⅓ cup finely chopped maraschino cherries
4 egg whites stiffly beaten (about ½ cup liquid egg whites)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and line with parchment paper two 8 or 9-inch cake pans. Or you may line a cupcake pan with papers.

If you don't have an extra bowl for your mixer, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks in the clean bowl and transfer to a small bowl and lay aside.  You may then proceed to the next step without cleaning the bowl.  

Beat butter and sugar.  Add corn syrup gradually, blending well after each addition. Beat until nice and fluffy.

Sift the flour and measure out 2 cups.  Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.  Combine cherry juice, milk, vanilla and almond extract in a small bowl.  

Alternately add dry and wet ingredients to the creamed mixture beginning and ending with flour.  

Fold in cherries and egg whites very carefully.  

Bake cakes 30-40 minutes.  Bake cupcakes 18-20 minutes.  

Makes 1 layer cake or 12-18 cupcakes.

Frost with whipped cream, whipped topping or white fluffy frosting.

I whipped the egg whites before I started the cake.  I transferred them to a smaller bowl and laid them aside until needed.  When a cake calls for only egg whites I use liquid egg whites that come in a carton.  That way I don't have to try to find something to do with the yolks. 

Gather the ingredients needed for the cake.  Sift the flour and then measure. 

Mix the milk with the cherry juice, vanilla and almond extracts.

 Cream the butter and sugar; add the corn syrup and beat until fluffy and light.

When the butter, sugar and corn syrup are light and fluffy add the flour mixture alternately with the milk and cherry juice mixture.

Add the flour in three additions alternately with the cherry juice beginning and ending with the flour.

 You will have a nice pink cake batter.  But you're not finished yet.

Fold in the finely chopped cherries and the stiffly beaten egg whites.

Fold and mix until there are no streaks of egg white visible.  Do this gently so as not to deflate the air in the beaten egg whites.  And there you have it: Homemade Cherry Chip Cake batter.

You may bake the cake in cupcake pans or in two 8 or 9-inch pans.  As it's nearly Valentine's Day I used heart-shaped pans.  I lined them with parchment paper for easy removal.

I filled the heart cake with a mixture of whipped cream, grated dark chocolate and chopped maraschino cherries.  Then I covered the cake with sweetened whipped cream.  You may also use a whipped topping or a fluffy white frosting or anything your little heart desires.☺ 

I coloured some of the cream a pale pink and decorated the cake using a star tip.  I filled the centre heart with a little chopped dark chocolate and garnished with a few cherry hearts.  

You can see the cherry hearts in this picture.  I decorated the cake platter with paper doilies and hearts cut from a dinner napkin.  Now we're ready for Valentine's Day (if the cake lasts that long in the freezer!).

The cut cake gives proof to its name: "Homemade Cherry Chip Cake".  

Moist Homemade Cherry Chip Cake.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Newfoundland Savoury Dressing/Stuffing

Newfoundlanders love their savoury.  That's summer savoury to the rest of the world but we just call it savoury.  We buy tons of the stuff.  The flavour of that wonderful herb is hard for me to describe as it is front and centre in my cooking and I really can't compare it to anything similar.  It's definitely not like basil or oregano.  Some say the taste is similar to thyme or marjoram but I don't use those enough to compare.   I wouldn't even try to replace the all-important savoury with any other herb.  
Real Newfoundland Savoury.

Christmas dinner in Newfoundland would probably fold up and close down if there was a shortage of savoury.  No one would know how to make a decent dressing without the beloved herb.  It just wouldn't be the same with sage or thyme or whatever. 

Savoury is a staple in my cupboard as it is in most Newfoundland kitchens.  I buy a lot of it during the year and keep it in a jar for easy use.  The picture on the right is a Newfoundland icon.  Mt. Sico Farm produces most of the savoury purchased and it is as traditional as it can get.  

Mt. Scio Farm started up business in the early 1960s but savoury has been in my blood much longer than that.  People grew the herb in their gardens and dried it for the winter.  My father's cousin's husband, John Simms, grew savoury every year and sold it for a church fundraiser to neighbours and friends.  I have very early memories of John Simms' savoury drying upside-down in brown paper bags hanging from the kitchen clothesline. (Everyone had a kitchen clothesline back in those days.)  Bunches of fresh savoury would be tied together and placed leaf side down in large brown paper bags.  The bags with the stalks sticking out of the top would be tied shut and hung on the clothesline to dry.  There would be at least a dozen or more bags hanging in the kitchen.  When dry, the bags would be shaken and the savoury would fall to the bottom of the bag and collected for winter use.  It seems as if all my relatives and church members bought savoury from John because their kitchens looked the same as ours during the fall.

Newfoundland Dressing is a simple affair and quite easy to put together.  Most people don't measure the ingredients but I have attempted to give some order to the method.  You can use more or less of almost any of the ingredients and still have a good dressing.  Just make sure it's not dry and sawdusty--nothing worse.  My mom and dad always cubed the bread instead of using crumbs. This works quite well also, but you get a more uniform end product using crumbs if you are serving the dressing without stuffing it inside a bird.

Use a good firm homemade-style bread--not that fluff that goes to glue when wet.  It should be 2 or 3 days old for maximum absorption of the butter and bouillon.  You may use a mixture of white and whole wheat bread crumbs as well.  I usually have bread ends in the freezer so I can make bread crumbs whenever I need them.  Of course, you can also buy bread crumbs at the bakery section of your grocery store. 

In Newfoundland people would refer to this bread, onion and herb side dish as "dressing" but I know in other areas it is referred to as "stuffing".  Therefore the rather undecided title of this post.  

Newfoundland Dressing or Stuffing
2 cups coarse bread crumbs white or a mixture of white and whole wheat, pressed down lightly
2 tablespoons savoury
1 small to medium onion, chopped
6 tablespoons butter, margarine or oil (butter is best)
¼ cup water or "chicken" bouillon, if dressing seems too dry
Salt and pepper to taste 

Optional, but not traditional, add-ins:  
¼ cup chopped celery
¼ cup grated carrot
¼ cup raisins or dried cranberries

Combine the bread crumbs and savoury in a medium-sized bowl.   Sauté onion (and celery or carrot if using) in butter over medium heat until soft.  Mix the sautéed onion and butter in with the crumbs and savoury and mix well. Add in any raisins or cranberries if using.  If the dressing seems dry add the water or bouillon in by tablespoons until the dressing is as moist as you want. You want moist not wet. I use bouillon for added flavour.  Taste for salt and add if needed to your personal taste.  Pepper may also be added.

Place the dressing in a greased casserole dish and bake covered in a 325 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Everything is cooked so you will only need to heat it through.  If the dressing is not to be served immediately, refrigerate until ready to heat. 

(If the dressing is going to be stuffed in a chicken or turkey you will not have to use the bouillon as the juices from the poultry will keep the dressing nice and moist.)

Makes about 4-6 servings or 2½ cups dressing or stuffing. (Probably enough for a chicken.)

Mix the bread crumbs and savoury together.  You'll notice the crumbs are not fine but rather coarse. I made the crumbs from white and whole wheat bread that was 2 or 3 days old.

Sauté the onion in the butter until soft and translucent. I like (love) onions so I use at least a medium size onion.  If you are going to use celery or carrot cook it with the onions.  I usually stick with the traditional onion only unless I'm having a gourmet moment.

Mix the cooked onions and butter together with the savoury and bread crumbs.  

If the dressing seems dry add a little "chicken" bouillon or water.  I use a vegetarian bouillon because animals are safe in my kitchen.☺ Taste for salt; add if needed and add pepper if you wish. If you'd like to fancy-up the dressing add a handful of dried cranberries or raisins to the mixed dressing.  I like to do that once-in-a-while for a special meal.

As all the ingredients in the dressing are cooked it can be served immediately or stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  Heat at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until hot through.  If you eat chicken or turkey it can be stuffed in the bird's cavities before roasting the poultry according to package directions.

A great Newfoundland favourite found in any restaurant worth a 5-greasy-spoon rating is "Fries, Dressing and Gravy".  Serve with a side order of ketchup or vinegar.  

Dressing is also great on a sandwich.  Spread 2 slices of bread with mayonnaise or salad dressing and a little cranberry sauce.  Place the meat or filling on the bottom slice and add a layer of dressing. Top with the second slice of bread.  I made my sandwich with Mushroom Burgers. (You may, of course, add something green and healthy like lettuce.)

Delicious and fragrant with the sweet taste of Newfoundland savoury.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Pineapple Cloud Tropical Fruit Salad

Pineapple Cloud Tropical Fruit Salad is what I'd call the "crème de la crème" of fruit salads.  It's creamy, not too sweet but decadent with every bite.  It's not the fruit that makes this so special but the creamy smooth pudding that the fruit so happily sits in.  I imagine you could use quite a few mixtures of fruit, canned or fresh,  in this delectable salad but pineapple would have to be included as this is the base flavour in the pudding.

I'm so glad I found this recipe on YouTube.  My sister and I were chatting on the telephone about four or five years ago and I was telling her about a cooking video I was watching.  As we chatted on she asked me if I'd ever seen Betty's Kitchen.  I hadn't so she urged me to have a look.  She was sure I'd enjoy watching Betty and love listening to her soft southern drawl as she cooked and baked in her bright Kentucky kitchen.  Heather was right.  I loved watching Betty bake through her family's favourite recipes along with other traditional Southern dishes that were only familiar to me through cookbooks or cooking shows.   As a retired math professor, Betty is very precise in her measurements and cooking instructions.  It's very easy to follow what she is doing.   But what really amazes me is her appearance and deportment.  Betty looks as if she just walked out of a fashion magazine with her perfectly coiffed hair, beautiful clothing and unblemished manicured hands and fingernails.  Betty and I are about the same age but no one would every confuse me with a fashion model!  When I'm in the kitchen I'm usually wrapped from head to toe in aprons and old t-shirts. 

This fruit salad has become a favourite with our family.  My daughter-in-law, Vicki, requested this for her baby shower and I gladly made it for everyone's enjoyment.  I always get lip-smacking compliments whenever it's served at family gatherings and church functions and have been asked for the recipe many times. 

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do.  Thank you Betty for providing such a delicious and beautiful recipe. 

Pineapple Cloud Tropical Fruit Salad
(Used by permission from Betty’s Kitchen on YouTube)

19/20 oz. can pineapple chunks or tidbits in juice, drained (Save juice!)
10/11 oz. can drained mandarin oranges
10 oz. bottle drained maraschino cherries (will use half)
1 ½ cups miniature marshmallows (more or less to taste)
¾ cup pineapple juice (from the saved, drained pineapple)
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 well-beaten eggs
1 cup whipping cream, chilled

Drain the pineapple chunks or tidbits, saving ¾ cup pineapple juice. Set aside the juice. Place the pineapple chunks in a medium-sized bowl. 

Drain the mandarin oranges and maraschino cherries, discarding the juice, and place the fruit in the bowl with the pineapple chunks. You will use about half a jar of cherries or as many as you want.  Cover the fruit with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 4 hours.

While fruit is chilling make the pudding.  Place ½ cup sugar in a saucepan and add 2 tablespoons flour. Mix together thoroughly. (You may use less sugar if desired.) Add the reserved ¾ cup of pineapple juice and stir until all flour lumps are dissolved. Next, add 2 well-beaten eggs, and combine everything thoroughly. Place the pineapple pudding mixture over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Turn the heat to low, and continue to cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, until it is a nice, smooth, cooked pudding. Remove from heat, let it sit for a few minutes to cool, and then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 4 hours. 

About 1 hour before you put the salad together, place the 1 cup of whipping cream in the refrigerator (or freezer if the weather is very warm), along with a large mixing bowl and beaters. When very cold, place the whipping cream in the cold mixing bowl and beat with the cold beaters until the whipped cream holds its shape. Fold the whipped cream into the chilled pineapple pudding. Mix until no streaks remain.

Remove the fruit from the refrigerator and drain any juice that has accumulated at the bottom of the bowl of fruit.  Add 1½  cups miniature marshmallows to the bowl of fruit. (I like less marshmallows so I add about ¾-1 cup.)  Now, gently combine the pineapple/whipped cream mixture with the fruit and marshmallow mixture. Mix gently and thoroughly; then spoon into a pretty serving bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until serving. 

Makes about 6-8 servings. 

Drain the pineapple and save the juice.  Use pineapple packed in real juice.  I like to use pineapple tidbits as they are smaller than the chunks and fit in my mouth much easier.  (It is not true that I have a big mouth!)

Place the drained mandarin oranges and maraschino cherries in with the pineapple.  I used about half a jar of  whole cherries.  You could cut the cherries in half if you wish but I leave them whole.  Cover and refrigerate the fruit for at least 4 hours or even overnight. 

 Thoroughly mix the sugar and flour together in a medium saucepan. 

Stir in the reserved pineapple juice and blend together.

 Mix in the well beaten eggs.

Cook and stir continuously over medium heat until thickened and starting to boil.  Continue cooking and stirring over low heat 4 or 5 minutes.  The pudding will be quite thick.  Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or until well chilled.  

 When ready to put the salad together beat the well chilled whipping cream.

Fold the whipped cream into the chilled pineapple pudding.  My pudding was very stiff and thick so I broke it up with the whisk.  Then I proceeded to fold in the cream.  

Drain the fruit again and fold in with the pudding/cream mixture.

I almost forgot the marshmallows!  Easy enough to fold them in with the cream and fruit.

 See that fruit peeking through the velvety smooth pineapple pudding. 

This fruit salad is delicious as is and really doesn't need any dressing up but I did give it a spoonful of cream and a cherry to top it all off.

So creamy, smooth and delicious.
Thank You, Betty!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Tapioca Cream

I have warm fuzzy memories of Tapioca Cream.  It's Dad, not Mom, who comes to mind when I think of this creamy treat.  Mom did most of the cooking and baking but Dad liked to try his hand at baking on the weekends.  That was when he usually made his wonderful but forever-lost cookie recipes.  But on occasion he would make something different for a change.  

Tapioca Cream is one of those treats I remember Dad making.  I can see him stirring the pudding over the old oil stove and mixing the hot pudding into the beaten egg whites.  My, that was so tasty.  I still love it to this day and can eat the whole potful if given only a small chance. 

Fortunately, unlike Dad's cookie recipes, the recipe for Tapioca Cream is not lost as it was on the side or back of the tapioca box for years but I noticed only the pudding is printed on the box now.  It's basically the same recipe but you separate the egg and mix the hot pudding into the meringue for Tapioca Cream.  And the recipe is all over the internet and blogosphere so it will never be lost. 

Mixing the scalding hot pudding into the raw meringue makes the egg white very safe to eat.  The heat from the pudding not only partially cooks the meringue but pasteurizes it so it is safe for eating.  

Tapioca Cream can be eaten plain or dressed up with fruit and cream.  It is the ideal dessert for winter as it takes to canned fruit like a duck to water.  Layer fruit and cold Tapioca Cream for a lovely light dessert parfait.  Canned peaches or apricots are particularly nice paired with the pudding.  And because the pudding is so creamy, no whipped cream or topping is really necessary for garnish.

Tapioca Cream

3 tablespoons Minit Tapioca

2 - 2½ cups milk
1 egg, separated
Pinch of salt

6 tablespoon sugar, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix tapioca, milk, egg yolk, salt and 3 tablespoons sugar in medium saucepan. Let stand 5 minutes.  If you want a softer pudding use the larger amount of milk.

While tapioca is soaking, beat egg white with electric mixer on high speed until foamy.  Gradually add remaining sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.  

Cook the soaked tapioca over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to full boil. Remove from heat.  Stir in vanilla

Quickly stir the hot tapioca mixture into the beaten egg white until well blended. Cover with plastic wrap and cool 20 minutes and stir. Serve warm or chilled.  Store leftover pudding in refrigerator.   The pudding will become thicker as it chills. 

Makes 4-6 servings.

Prepare the pudding by soaking the egg yolk, sugar, Minit Tapioca and milk together for 5 minutes.  Transfer saucepan to stove top and bring to a full boil over medium heat.  This will take 5-8 minutes of watching and stirring.  As the mixture cooks the tapioca will swell and thicken the milk mixture. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.

Before cooking the pudding, beat the egg white and sugar into a stiff meringue.  When the pudding is cooked, stir and fold the hot mixture into the prepared meringue.  The hot pudding will cook and pasteurize the raw egg white.  The meringue is the "cream" that makes the pudding so creamy and light.

Serve warm or cold.

I like my pudding cold but I'll eat it warm if I must!

Tapioca Cream all dressed up for dinner.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hot German Potato Salad--Vegetarian

Having just purchased a 50 pound bag of potatoes it seems imperative to eat them every way possible.  As it is only Don and I doing the eating we are having them every day in some form or another.  You may well wonder why I would buy so many potatoes for only two people. That's an easy answer: they were on sale.  Need I say more!

So today as I was thinking of how to use a few more spuds for dinner I remembered this recipe for Hot German Potato Salad from my old red cookbook. German Potato Salad is certainly a different kind of potato salad.  Not only does it have a cooked vinaigrette dressing but it's served hot.  

On a cold winter day this salad makes a lovely side dish to a pot of homemade baked beans

This recipe is easily made vegan by using only vegetable oil or vegan margarine.  

Hot German Potato Salad
9 medium potatoes, about 3 pounds
1 medium to large onion, diced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, may be half butter or vegan margarine
6 slices veggie bacon, diced
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon celery seed
Dash black pepper
¾ cup water
⅓ cup vinegar

Scrub or peel potatoes.  New potatoes will not need to be peeled.  Slice potatoes thinly about ¼-inch thick.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 10 minutes. Drain and cool.

In a large frying pan, sauté onions in the vegetable oil until they are golden-brown.  I like to use half butter for extra flavour.  When onions are cooked add the veggie bacon and heat through.
Mix the flour, sugar, salt, celery seed, and pepper together and add to the sautéed onions and veggie bacon. (I used only ½ teaspoon of the salt and tasted the cooked dressing before adding more.) Cook the flour for about one minute and stir in the water and vinegar.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for one minute. Carefully mix the sliced potatoes into the sauce mixture, stirring gently until potatoes are heated through. Add more salt if necessary.

Garnish with simulated bacon bits and sliced green onion.

Makes 4-6 servings.

 Slice and boil potatoes in lightly salted water.  Drain and let cool.

While the potatoes are cooking and cooling, sauté the onions until they turn a nice golden brown.  Add in the veggie bacon.  Stir in the flour, sugar, salt, pepper and celery seed.  Let the flour cook for about a minute and then add the water and vinegar.  Let this cook until bubbling and thickened and then carefully stir in the cooled potatoes until heated through.

 The tangy cooked vinaigrette dressing coats every slice of cooked potato.

 A stand-alone dish for a light lunch or a side dish for a heartier meal.

Lovely as a side dish to a pot of homemade  baked beans.

Tangy Hot German Potato Salad hits the spot on a cold winter day.