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Friday, May 29, 2015

Baked Rhubarb Pudding

It's definitely rhubarb season.  You can tell by the return of the rhubarb recipes.  I'm still trying to use up last year's frozen offerings so be prepared for a few more recipes using the sour vegetable.   

I'm amazed at how much rhubarb my little patch yields and how forgiving it is of my lack of attention and care.  It just keeps on producing and producing.  If you don't have a rhubarb plant in your garden and you just love the stuff in desserts, I'd encourage you to plant one and you'll enjoy eating from it for years.  I've divided my little patch several times, giving both the boys and a few friends some for their gardens. Maybe you can find an obliging friend or neigbhour to share with you or you may be able to find the plants at a local nursery or plant centre. 

Today's recipe is for a baked Rhubarb Pudding.  It's a little different from my usual rhubarb pudding as the fruit goes on the top instead of the bottom but once it's in your mouth it'll turn right side up, ha, ha.  

This is great served warm or cold with ice cream or pouring cream.  We love Fussell's Cream on ours but that's not easy to find outside of Newfoundland unless you live in a British or former British Commonwealth country. 

Rhubarb Pudding

Sauce Ingredients:
4 cups sliced or diced rhubarb
¾ cup water
1 cup sugar (use ½ cup if you like a more tart or sour dessert)

Place rhubarb, water and sugar in medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until rhubarb is very soft and turns to a sauce.  This should take about 10 minutes.  Set aside but keep hot.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9-inch square baking dish.  I don't have a 9-inch dish so I used an 8x11-inch dish which worked as the volume is almost the same.  

Cake Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup butter
⅔ cup sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
⅔ cup milk, scant (that means just shy of the ⅔ mark on your measuring cup)

Mix together dry ingredients and lay aside.  Cream butter and sugar together.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until well mixed.  You may do this by hand or use a mixer.

Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Spread cake batter in greased 9-inch square baking dish.  Pour the hot rhubarb sauce over cake.  Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes.  

Makes 6-8 servings.

Make the rhubarb sauce first.  Bring the rhubarb, sugar and water to a boil and cook for about 10 until soft and mushy.  Keep the sauce hot until ready to use. 
While the sauce is cooking, start the cake.  Cream the sugar and butter together.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined.  Then alternately add the dry ingredients and milk to the creamed mixture. 

Spread cake batter in the greased dish.  Pour the hot rhubarb sauce over the top of the batter and place dish in preheated oven.

When baked some of the sauce goes to the bottom of the cake but the pulpy "fruit" stays on top.  
Look at all that saucy rhubarb goodness surrounding the delicate vanilla cake.

 We ate our Rhubarb Pudding with cream but a scoop ice cream is also very good.

Tangy Rhubarb Pudding tastes just like Spring!


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rhubarb Bars or Dessert Crumble

I always have rhubarb in the freezer.  I am blessed with a small patch of the delicious vegetable (used as a fruit) growing in my yard and have, by some miracle, managed to keep it alive for the last 37 years.  But as I type the new spring rhubarb is growing ever larger by the day and will be ready to harvest in a few weeks.  With that in mind I thought it wise to use some of the frozen rhubarb before the fresh stuff was ready for eating.

These Rhubarb Bars or Crumble make use of either fresh or frozen rhubarb and produces a nice tangy cookie bar or if served in larger portions makes a nice dessert, especially if served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

Rhubarb Bars or Dessert Crumble

Ingredients for filling:
½ cup white sugar, divided
¾ cup brown sugar
4 cups of rhubarb, diced (use fresh or frozen)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla

Over medium heat, cook rhubarb ¼ cup white sugar and all the brown sugar for about 10 minutes or until soft. Stir frequently. Mix corn starch and remaining ¼ cup white sugar together until well blended and there are no visible lumps of cornstarch. Add corn starch and sugar to the hot rhubarb mixture.  Bring to a boil. Stir until thick. Add vanilla. Lay aside and let cool.

While making the crust, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. You may also line a 9x13-inch pan with parchment paper if you wish to remove the bars from the pan before cutting.

Ingredients for curmble crust:
1½ cups of oatmeal
1½ cups of flour
1 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup  butter, very soft or melted

Mix ingredients into a crumble.
In an ungreased 9x13-inch pan, place ⅔ of the crumble mixture and pat down. Spread the cooled rhubarb evenly on top. Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture over the rhubarb. Lightly pat the crumbs in place.  Bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes until lightly browned and bubbling. 

Can be served warm as a dessert or let cool thoroughly to make bars or squares.

Makes 30-36 bars or 12-15 dessert portions.

To make the filling, mix the rhubarb, brown sugar and half the white sugar together and bring to a boil.  Mix the cornstarch and remaining white sugar and stir into the boiling mixture.  Cook another minute or two until thickened.  Lay aside to cool while making the crumble crust.

To make the crumble crust, mix the oats, flour, salt, baking soda, brown sugar and melted butter together.  Press ⅔ of the crumble mixture in prepared pan and pat down.  Spread with the cooked rhubarb filling and cover with the remaining crumbs.  Pat down lightly and place in preheated oven to bake until golden brown and bubbling.

Serve as a cookie bar, or . . .

... warm or cold with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Every bite a taste of Spring!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Whipped Cream Frosting. . . 3 Ways

If you are a person who doesn't like sweet frosting on a cake this is the topping for you.  Frosting by its very nature is meant to be sweet as it is usually composed of mainly sugar with some fat and flavouring added.  I'm one of those people who likes "real" frosting or icing on cakes but I can appreciate a less sweet version as well because cakes are sweet in themselves. One doesn't mind sacrificing a little sugar now and then, especially if one is pleasing someone else.  

I'm also one of those people who likes real whipped cream so what could be better than topping and filling a cake with billowy swirls of the creamy goodness.  And because whipping cream comes unsweetened you can add as little or much sugar as you wish.  

One drawback with whipped cream is its unstability as a frosting but this is easily remedied by the addition of a stabilizer.  I have found the cheapest and most convenient thing to use is instant pudding powder.  This is the kind you just add milk to and it produces a thick uncooked pudding.  I know there are other products on the market but they are more expensive (whipped cream stabilizers)  or tricky to use (thinking of gelatin).  Instant pudding is available anywhere in North America and it can be purchased quite inexpensively in almost any grocery store.  I often purchase the instant puddings in the dollar store at 2/$1.

The Whipped Cream Frostings use only a small amount of the pudding so the taste isn't really changed by the addition of the dry pudding powder. It adds some sweetness and vanilla flavouring but it's not overpowering and additional sugar and flavours such as vanilla should be added to provide a tastier product.  

Along with the plain Whipped Cream Frosting I have included a Cream Cheese and Chocolate variation.  All three are delicious atop a cake or cupcake and make wonderful fillings for cakes as well.  

As with any dessert, great care should be taken not to eat the whole batch by yourself.  Spread the love around to family and friends and enjoy eating this together.  

Refrigerate any desserts containing the Whipped Cream Frostings.  

Whipped Cream Frosting
3 cups very cold whipping cream
3 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding dry powder
3 tablespoons sugar or to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
Food colouring, optional

Beat the whipping cream with the remaining ingredients until a stiff peak is formed.  DO NOT WHIP INTO BUTTER.  A portion of the frosting may be coloured to decorate cakes.

I have used several different flavours of pudding to achieve different frosting flavours but the frosting will take on a light shade of the pudding colour. 

Makes enough to fill and frost a 2- or 3-layer 8 or 9-inch cake.

Place the very cold whipping cream, pudding powder, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of your mixer.  Beat on high speed until a stiff peak is formed.  Don't leave this when you are beating because it can turn into butter in a matter of seconds once the stiff peaks are formed.  

The Whipped Cream Frosting spreads and pipes beautifully allowing you to create pretty swirls on cakes and desserts.

For a less delicate frosting add some cream cheese.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
3 cups whipping cream
3 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding dry powder
3 tablespoons sugar or to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar

Whip the cream, pudding powder, sugar and vanilla together until a stiff peak is formed.  DO NOT WHIP INTO BUTTER.  Lay aside.  I have to use the same mixer bowl so I scrape the whipped cream mixture into a large bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Using a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until no lumps remain.  Add the sugar and beat until well incorporated.  Add the already beaten whipped cream to the cream cheese by using the lowest the lowest speed on your mixer.  Or you may fold in by hand. 

A small amount of very thick fruit puree, jam or curd can be added to a portion of the icing to make a filling between layers.  For each cup of frosting, add 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup thick puree, jam or curd. 

Makes enough to fill and frost a 2- or 3-layer 8 or 9-inch cake.

Beat the cream, sugar, pudding powder and vanilla together.  Lay aside.  Beat the cream cheese and sugar together until creamy and smooth.  Fold the cream cheese and whipped cream mixture together until no streaks show. 

The Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting also spreads and pipes beautifully.  The tangy flavour of cream cheese is prominent in the flavour of the frosting.  

For the chocolate lovers try the chocolate version.

Whipped Cream Chocolate Frosting 
1 cup chocolate chips
3 tablespoons evaporated milk
1 recipe Whipped Cream Frosting or Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

Melt chocolate chips and milk together in microwave for 1 minute, stirring after 30 seconds.  It may take more or less time depending on the strength of your microwave oven.

Let chocolate mixture cool to room temperature and fold into either the Whipped Cream Frosting or Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting.  

Makes enough to generously fill and frost a 3-layer 8 or 9-inch cake. 

Melt the chocolate chips with a little milk and cool to room temperature before folding into either the Whipped Cream or Whipped Cream Cheese Frostings.  

Billows of creamy chocolate makes the chocoholic's heart beat for joy!  

Here's a birthday cake I threw together for someone I'm very close to.  I used the Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting colouring a portion for decorating.  I also mixed some of the frosting with cooked strawberries for a nice filling.  (Cooked fruits are a much better choice for fillings as fresh fruit can actually go mouldy in the cake if not eaten immediately.) Unfortunately, for this cake the top was somewhat scraped off when I was storing it in the refrigerator.  Good thing I know this person so well.

A trio of cupcakes.  From the bottom, clockwise:  Whipped Cream Chocolate Frosting, Whipped Cream Frosting and Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting.

1, 2 or 3.  Pick your choice.

 To print click on arrow upper right side.⇩          

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Lemon Sponge Pudding

Today is my mother's birthday.  She would have been 98 years old today if she had lived. There would have been a grand birthday party with a few friends and maybe an open house in the afternoon if she was feeling well enough to entertain a larger crowd.  I thought she'd live to be at least one hundred years old, but each life has an ending and so did mom's nearly six years ago.  I don't have very many things belonging to Mom but I have lots of memories and I do have some of her recipes. 

Margaret McLeod Garland McBay
91st Birthday, May 17, 2008

One of the things I remember mom making was a lemon pudding.  I don't remember mom baking this when we were older.  Maybe that's because I remember it from my early childhood.  I have faint memories of the pudding coming from the oven to the dinner table with the fluffy sponge cake floating on top of the sweet lemon sauce.  To a small child it was like magic to see a cake go into the oven and come out a sweet, saucy, lemon pudding.  

Imagine my delight, as I was sifting through a pile of mom's recipes, when I came across a recipe for Lemon Sponge Pudding.   And as today is Mom's birthday I thought it fitting to make it for the family.  Peter, Vicki and Lori are staying here for the long Victoria weekend and a nice dessert is always appreciated.  I think Mom would have approved.  

Lemon Sponge Pudding in Mom's handwriting.

Here is Mom's recipe with a few minor changes. (Mom would have never left out the salt!) I also increased the lemon juice because I like a tart lemon dessert.

Lemon Sponge Pudding
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup sugar
¼ salt
Juice of 2 lemons or 5 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, about 2 lemon's worth
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 cup milk
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 6-8 cup casserole dish.  You will also need a larger pan to place the casserole dish into while baking.

Mix flour, sugar and salt together.  In a small bowl mix the lemon juice, lemon zest, melted butter, milk and the egg yolks together.  Add to the flour mixture and blend well.  The mixture will be very thin.  

Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.  This works best if you add a little of the wet mixture to the whites and gradually add more until everything is well incorporated.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Place the second larger pan in the oven and half fill with hot water.  Place the pudding casserole inside the larger water filled dish.  Bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes.  

Makes 6-8 servings.

 Mix the flour, salt and sugar together.

Separate the eggs. Whip the egg whites and lay aside.  Grate the lemon zest and juice the lemons. Melt the butter and measure the milk.  Mix all these ingredients together. 

Add the wet ingredients to the flour and sugar mixture.  Blend well.  You will have a very thin batter.

Fold the egg whites into the thin batter.  It works best if you add a small amount of batter at a time to the egg whites, folding all the while until incorporated.

Pour the batter into a greased casserole dish.  Place the dish in a larger pan filled with hot water.  The water should come almost to the top of the larger pan.

When baked the pudding will separate into two layers--a delicate sponge on top and a lovely lemon sauce on the bottom.

Serve the tangy sweet Lemon Sponge Pudding warm or cold.  

A nice light ending to a meal.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Frozen Fudgsicle Cheesecake Dessert

Here's another recipe from the teachers' staff room and a perfect one for a celebration meal.  I don't know who brought this dessert in to the school but I did get the recipe.  Wouldn't it be great if we could get a taste of all new recipes before we bookmarked them or cut and pasted them into our files.  That would certainly cut down the failures and disappointments in the kitchen and keep our files much neater.  I knew this one was a keeper at first bite.  

Although I'm not a chocolate lover I appreciate a good dessert.  This one is smooth and creamy, and like its title, similar to to the chocolate ice cream treat on a stick, known as a Fudgsicle in my part of the world.  Even though it contains cream cheese, it is not an overpowering flavour in the filling because chocolate is definitely the star of the show in this dessert.

Do share this dessert with family and friends as it's very rich, especially if you make it with real whipped cream.  You and your family won't be disappointed with this dessert.  

Frozen Fudgsicle Cheesecake Dessert
1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs, like Oreos or Fudgee.Os
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 cups whipping cream, whipped and sweetened with 6 tablespoons sugar
(or if you must, 6 cups Cool Whip)
1- 8 ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1- 12 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips or 1¾ cups
½ cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons sugar

Combine cookie crumbs and butter.  I used crushed Fudgee.Os.  Press into a greased 9-inch spring form pan. I didn't grease my pan because I lined it with parchment paper so I could remove it from the bottom of the pan without any undue stress upon me or the crumb crust.

Place the crust in the freezer for 5 minutes to let it firm up.

Whip cream with sugar until medium to stiff peaks are formed.  DO NOT WHIP INTO BUTTER! Refrigerate until needed.

Combine chocolate chips with ⅓ cup of the milk and microwave for 30-60  seconds or until chips are melted. Mix together until the milk and chocolate are blended together.  Lay aside to cool but not solidify.

Beat the 2 tablespoons of sugar, cream cheese and remaining milk together until fluffy.  Mix in chocolate chip mixture on low speed.  Gradually fold in the whipped cream (or Cool Whip), blending well until there are no steaks of white showing.  Pour on top of the chocolate cookie crust.  Smooth out the top and cover the pan with plastic wrap.  Place the pan back in the freezer for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Remove from the freezer about 15 minutes before serving.  Remove the dessert from the spring form pan and place on a pretty serving plate.  You may garnish the dessert with additional whipped cream and a few raspberries for a nice celebratory presentation.

The dessert will be ready to serve in about 6 hours but it won't be frozen hard so it will be easy to cut into slices.  If you are freezing the dessert overnight make sure you remove it at least 15 or even 20 minutes before serving as it will be rock hard by then and you'll need an axe to cut it if you don't let it soften for a few minutes.  You could even let this sit in the refrigerator for half an hour before serving.

Makes 12 servings or 16 smaller servings. 

12 cookies crushed into crumbs will give you 1 slightly rounded cup of crumbs.

Mix the melted butter with the cookie crumbs.  Press the crumbs into the bottom of the greased pan. I used parchment paper instead of greasing.  Place the pan in the freezer for 5 minutes.

Melt the chocolate chips with ⅓ up of the milk.  Stir together until smooth.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and remaining milk together.  Add the cooled melted chocolate and blend together.

Fold in the whipped cream until no white streaks remain.

Pour the chocolate mixture on top of the cookie crumb crust.

Smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer for at least 6-8 hours or overnight.

Place on a pretty serving plate and decorate with additional whipped cream and raspberries, if desired.

Use a heated knife to help cut through the frozen dessert. 

Smooth and creamy and ready to eat!

Frozen Fudgsicle Cheesecake Dessert is perfect for a celebration.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Peanut Butter Cookies Like Dad’s

Peanut Butter Cookies seem to have fallen into disfavour the last few years.  I used to make them when the boys were young but once they started school they weren't allowed bring them in their lunches anymore because so many children had peanut allergies.  I stopped making them because as a busy working mother I usually didn't have time to make a variety of cookies for home and school.  One kind had to do so the Peanut Butter Cookies got pushed to the side and mostly forgotten except for rare appearances. 

I heard my aunt once remark that as she got older she craved the food she grew up with.  Now, I understand what she meant.  I've had a craving for Dad's Peanut Butter Cookies for a while and haven't satisfied that craving until today.  Dad was a fabulous cookie baker, spending a few hours on the weekend turning out a several dozen cookies for Mom and his girls.  He was famous for his Chocolate Chip Cookies which I have never been able to replicate, but he also made special Coconut Cookies just for Mom (we'd almost have to sneak those), Chinese Chews and Peanut Butter Cookies.  As a kid, I didn't appreciate the Chinese Chews but I loved the other three.  The Peanut Butter Cookies were my favourite, even more than the Chocolate Chip or Coconut Cookies.  I can see Dad shaping the balls of dough and pressing the fork on top of each one to make the distinctive markings of a Peanut Butter Cookie.  Eating Dad's cookies, fresh from the oven, is an experience that is burned in my memory. 

Today I didn't want any peanut butter cookie, I wanted Dad's Peanut Butter Cookies but, of course, "if wishes were horses, beggars would ride".  I started experimenting (I won't tell you how many cookies I ate this morning) until I came up with a recipe that reminded me more of his cookies than any other recipe I had tried.  Dad's cookies weren't flat.  They held the pattern well and it didn't disappear or melt when baked.  His cookies weren't flakey or crisp nor totally soft. And I don't remember his cookies as cloyingly sweet as so many are now.   They were perfect, how ever he made them. 

This is a recipe I found in Mom's bag of recipes.   I "fixed" it up a little until I had the taste and texture I wanted. (as close to Dad's cookies as I could get).  First, I made them as they were written but they were too flat.  I remade them adding baking soda but they were still too flat and they were also a bit too sweet.  I did a bit of research in a foods text book and decided to add a little more flour.  Finally, I had a cookie more like Dad's than the others I had tried.  (I could have rewritten the story of Goldie Locks and the Three Bears replacing the porridge with Peanut Butter Cookies.)

Here is the recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies Like Dad's (well, almost).

Peanut Butter Cookies
½ cup butter, room temperature
½ cup smooth peanut butter
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1¾ cups flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper or lightly grease.

Cream butter, peanut butter and white and brown sugars together until fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla. 

Mix or sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture.  Mix until a dough forms.  Do not over mix. 

Form dough into 1-inch balls and place on the cookie sheet(s) about 2 inches apart.  Using a fork press in a criss-cross pattern.  If fork sticks, dip in flour. 

Bake in the preheated oven 8-10 minutes or until golden brown at the edges.  Remove from oven and let sit a minute or two and then remove from cookie sheet.  Let cool before storing in covered container.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.  

Cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars together.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined.  Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined.  Do not over beat the batter.

Roll the dough in approximately 1-inch balls.  Press the balls with a fork giving the cookies their distinctive markings.  Dad only gave them one press but I think most people would be familiar with the criss-cross markings.  Dip the fork in flour if it sticks in the dough.

Bake the cookies8-10 minutes or until just starting to brown on the edges.  Let sit on pan about a minute before removing. 

 Peanut Butter Cookies in all their glory!

 What could be better on a rainy day than cookies and milk?

 Almost like Dad's.