Goodcookbecky's Blog

Letting the juices of life (or food) drip from my chin!


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Mennonite Apple Crumble

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My mother sent me this recipe some time ago, but I never got around to trying it.  It is similar to Apple Crisp, but sweeter. My family loved this dessert.  It is especially good served warm with ice cream of whipped cream.  Best of all, it is really easy to prepare.  I think next time I will increase the apples to 7 or 8 granny smith apples from the 5 I used this time.

Here is the recipe:

Mennonite Apple Crumble

Serves 5  |  adapted from an old Mennonite Recipe Book

Crumble topping:

  • 3/4 cup quick cooking oatmeal
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

Apple filling:

  • 5-8 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Instructions:

Melt the butter.  In a small bowl, combine the oatmeal, sugar, baking soda and stir.  Add the melted butter and stir into the oatmeal mixture.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt and stir to combine.  Add the apple pieces and stir to coat with the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Evenly spread the apple mixture in a greased baking dish (spray with Pam).  Top the apples with the oatmeal topping and gently press the crumble over the apples.

Bake at 375 F for 35 to 40 minutes.  Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

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Peach Crisp

IMG_9865When I think of summer, I think of peaches.. there are few things in the world that are as good as the peaches I have eaten in South Jersey – juicy, drippy, goodness.  Well, I am in Southern California, and bought some peaches that were begging to be used up.  I found this recipe for Peach Crisp in my America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook.  Unfortunately, I did not have as many peaches as the recipe called for, because two of them had gone bad, but I used what I had: 4 large peaches. Reading over the ingredients, I found I had everything except for lemon zest to make this dish, so make it I did. And yummy it was.

Peach Crisp

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook (15th Anniversary Edition page 804)

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 3 lbs of peaches, peeled, pitted and cut up into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon, optional

Crumble Topping:

  • 6 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F

Place the peach pieces in a pie dish. Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Stir with a fork.  Add the pieces of butter and work with your hands to combine them into a crumb like topping. Stir in the pecan pieces.

Spread the crumb topping across the top of the peach filling.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes.  Cook an additional 5 minutes at 400 if the topping is not browned.

Serve warm.  Great with ice cream of whipped cream.

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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

IMG_8349My husband loves Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.  I recently made one in my cast iron skillet and it turned out great (other than the fact that I used a 12 inch skillet instead of a 10 inch the recipe called for, but it was still delicious – I had to reduce the cooking time as a result. ) I will be getting a 10 inch cast iron skillet soon, so I can make this correctly.  The recipe is from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion it is a real treasury for baking that I really recommend.  I have made a few recipes from this book and the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake is a keeper as well. (Amazon: The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion)

I overdid it on Maraschino cherries.. but my family says there is no such thing!  I also omitted the nuts, but I will leave them in the recipe so you can decide if you want it in yours.  My husband said it was like the cake he remembers having as a child.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

adapted from King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion p 376

Serves 10

Ingredients:

  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 (16 oz) can pineapple rings, drained (juice reserved)
  • 12 to 16 maraschino cherries (or more … like the whole jar! minus the two you ate)
  • 16-20 pecan or walnut halves, optional
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup reserved pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Melt the butter in a 10 inch cast iron skillet (though I used a 12 inch and it turned out okay too… just reduced the cooking time, but the cake was very thin).  Sprinkle the dark brown sugar into the melted butter and place the pineapple on top.  Arrange the maraschino cherries inside the pineapple rings and additional gaps.  If you are also using nuts, place those in the gaps in addition to the cherries.

In a medium bowl, soft the flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Set aside.  Combine the pineapple juice and vanilla and set aside.

In a stand mixer, beat the eggs until they have thickened and are light in color.  Sprinkle in the sugar with the mixer running.  Add the pineapple juice mixture and slow the mixer down as you add the flour mixture to the batter gradually.  Mix at medium speed for about 1 minute.

Pour the batter over your pineapple rings and cherries.  Bake the cake for 45 minutes, or until the center is springy to the touch and the cake is pulling away from the sides of your cast iron skillet.  Remove it from the oven.  Then place a serving platter upside down on the skillet and carefully (with oven mitts!) invert the pan over the platter- allow the pan to stay over the cake for about 5 minutes or longer so that the sugar drips back down onto the cake.  The cake should have loosened enough from the pan to easily transfer to the plate leaving the beautiful pineapple rings exposed.  Slice into 10 wedges and serve.

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Quick Appetizer and Dessert

I was recently asked to contribute appetizers and a dessert for a function at our church.  I love to cook, and was of course happy to help.  I was a bit of a procrastinator though in planning, so I made 2 simple appetizers and a simple dessert.

The first easy to make appetizer was a platter of skewered cherry tomatoes, mini mozzarella balls and basil leaves.  A drizzle of balsamic vinegar would put i over the  top, but because my appetizer would sit in the refrigerator for 3 hours before the event, I left the vinegar off.

I  found sandwich picks at Smart and Final that were nearly 3 inches in length – longer than toothpicks which is perfect for this appetizer. Here is what you need:

Tomato Kabobs

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  • 3 inch skewers or sandwich picks
  • cherry tomatoes, washed
  • cherry sized mozzarella balls (I used Mozzarella Fresca by Galbani)
  • whole basil leaves

To assemble: Place one cherry tomato on the skewer, followed by a mozzarella ball, then a leaf of basil and another cherry tomato. Place along edge of a round platter and layer until you like the look.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar just before serving if desired.

 

Cucumber Sandwiches

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This is so easy! Cut the crusts of a white bread that you like.  Spread one side of the bread slices with a purchased garlic spread and top with thinly sliced cucumber slices.  Top with second piece of bread that also has the garlic spread.  Slice diagonally.  Serve. That’s it!

Dessert:

Purchased pound cake cut into rounds (or squares) to fit inside your dessert dishes.  I found small 5 oz clear dessert dishes and made 24 desserts for the event.

It does take a little time to assemble and chill, but look beautiful for a short list of ingredients.

Strawberry Dessert

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  • 1 pound cake, thawed and sliced into thin slices
  • fresh strawberries, washed and sliced into 4 pieces (arranged along edge of dessert dish, cut side out)
  • Jell-o (large box) lemon flavor
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 (16 oz) Cool Whip, thawed
  • Whipped Cream (from can)

First cut the sliced pound cake into rounds that fit inside your dessert dish (you need 2 per dessert).  Place one of the pound cake pieces in the bottom of the dessert dish.  Line the sides of the dish with sliced of strawberries (cut side facing out) – my dishes  were small, so I only fit 4 slices in each.  Use more or less as needed.

Prepare the jell-o.  Mix 2 cups boiling water into a bowl with the lemon flavored jell-o.  Whisk to combine. Place the bowl of jell-o into the refrigerator for 25 minutes.  The jell-o will still be warm when you remove it from the refrigerator.  Whisk in the thawed cool whip.  Ladle 1/4 cup of the mixture into the center of the dessert dishes, try not to disturb the strawberries.  Use more to cover the tips of the strawberries.  Cover with saran wrap and chill for about 1 hour.  Remove the desserts from the refrigerator.  Remove the saran wrap and place a second round of pound cake on the jell-o.  Top each dessert  with whipped cream just before serving.

Enjoy!

 

 


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Strawberry Pound Cake

IMG_7259 Strawberry season has arrived in Southern California.  I stopped at a stand and picked up some beautiful berries.  This dessert is one of our favorites and is really simple to make!  My husband likes pound cake more than short cake, so this is our new Strawberry Short Cake. I agree it is better (and easier) to make.

Strawberry Pound Cake

Serves 6

  • 1 frozen family size pound cake, thawed
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced or chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • whipped cream

Instructions:

Place sliced strawberries in a bowl with 1/4 cup of sugar. Stir.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours.

Slice the thawed pound cake into 12 equal slices. Heat a non stick skillet over medium heat.  Melt butter in the pan and place a few pound cake slices in the skillet.  Sprinkle the pound cake with sugar and turn over.  Sprinkle second side with sugar.  After the first side has browned, flip to brown second side.

To assemble: Place two slices of the grilled pound cake on a dessert plate. Spoon some strawberries over the pound cake. Top with whipped cream.

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Authentic Black Forest Cherry Cake

IMG_6893This is one recipe that has been on my “cooking bucket list” for years.  My Mom would make this cake for special occasions, and unusual ones too!  I think my all time favorite memory was the time I was returning to go to Bible School in England after having spent Christmas with my parents in NJ.  My flight was out of  John F Kennedy Airport in NY and my Aunt and Uncle who lived in Long Island at the time met up with us… on a day when  there had been a snow storm and all the flights  were delayed.  So here we were in the terminal of the airport eating Black Forest Cherry Cake and having a mini family reunion with jealous passengers looking on in curiosity!  Great memory!  My High School was located in Kandern, Germany and we sometimes were able to sample the cherries that grew in the Black Forest region.  I have fond memories of Europe and still love to eat the foods in that region. The German name for this torte is Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte.

I invited my friend Lori to learn to make this cake too.  I cook much more than I bake.  Baking is exact science and I have to wait for layers to cool before taking the next step and I am often about instant gratification!  Well, we had fun.  The cake was not perfect, but it was delicious!  This dessert is not overly sweet – I think we American’s use way too much sugar in our desserts.  It took us 3 hours start to finish, so it is not a cake you can just pull out of the hat for an event.  Plan ahead!  It really is best if you refrigerate the cake for 24 hours before cutting into it.  The layers will be well refined and the flavors of the kirschwasser will have worked its magic as well.  I did not have the patience to wait even an hour after making it, but had some left over the next day, so I really do have to say the 24 hours makes a lot of difference in the flavor and texture.

The layers consist of an almost cookie crust chocolate layer as the base, then cherries and whipped cream, then at least two (or if you are great at slicing 3)  layers of  chocolate sponge cake which are separated by more cherries and whipped cream. The entire cake is then  covered with more whipped cream that has gelatin as a thickener and topped with cherries and sprinkled with milk chocolate shavings.

My cherries spilled out of the layers and onto the base of the cake, so when I covered the cake with the coating of whipped cream the cream turned pink in color but it was still beautiful to look at.  When I encounter errors like this, I rename it rustic and it is all good!  Perfection is for the 4th time I make this! 😉  I used a 9 inch spring form pan to bake my cake, my friend Lori used a 10 inch. They both turned out great, but mine was a little taller and actually works a little better for this torte.  Though the original recipe called for a 10 inch.. use what you have.

Cherry Filling:

Image 4-12-14 at 4.10 PMI found Morello Cherries at Trader Joes (24 oz).  They are a product of Germany and are sweet with just a hint of tart. It is with light syrup and needed to be thickened.  I added 3 ounces of Kirschwasser (if you really cannot find any, use Rum).  To thicken, I combined 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water and added them to my pan with the cherries and kirschwasser.  Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 30 seconds to a minute longer and the mixture has thickened.  Then transfer to a bowl and cool completely.  Before you use the cherry filling in the layers pull out 10-20 cherries to decorate the top of your torte.

You could use a cherry pie filling, but I find them to be overly sweet.

 

Bottom Chocolate Crust

Image 4-12-14 at 4.31 PMPreheat oven to 375°F.

Combine the dry ingredients and whisk them together: 3/4 cup flour, 2 Tablespoons cocoa, 1 teaspoon baking powder.

In a separate bowl, combine 1/3 cup melted unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/3 cup sugar.

Combine the two mixtures together and make a thick dough.

Line a 9 inch spring-form pan with parchment paper. And press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Poke the dough with a fork and then bake for 15 minutes.

After it baked, allow it to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before removing it from the spring-form pan.  Carefully transfer to your plate. It may crack, but it will be okay. Be as careful as possible.

Here  is a picture of my baked crust:

IMG_6867 I allowed this to cool completely while I made the sponge cake layers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image 4-12-14 at 5.04 PMFor the Sponge Cake Layers:

Combine 4 egg yolks, 2 tablespoons warm water, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Beat with an electric mixer until the egg yolks are pale.

Sift together dry ingredients: 2/3 cup flour, 1/3 cup cornstarch, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder.

Whip the 4 egg whites with 1/3 cup of sugar until it is stiff.

First add the flour mixture to the egg yolks and combine and then fold the egg whites into the batter using a rubber spatula, about half the egg whites first and then the remaining half of the whipped egg whites after it is fairly well combined.

 

Image 4-12-14 at 5.21 PMPrepare the spring-form pan for the sponge cake by inserting parchment paper both on the bottom and the sides of the pan. I find that butter keeps it in place nicely and since it is outside the paper does not affect the cake any.

Pour the sponge cake batter in and spread it evenly in the pan.

Bake at 375°F for 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing it to a separate plate.  Once it cools completely, cut it horizontally into two layers. Try to cut them as evenly as possible.

For the Whipped Cream: Beat 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream with 1/2 cup powdered sugar.  When it is stiff, divide the whipped cream into two batches.  Use one half for the filling and the second half will be used for the topping, but is thickened with gelatin for extra stability.

1 1/2 packets of Knox Gelatin is combined with 2 tablespoons of water and brought to a boil and then cooled slightly and whipped into the second batch of whipped cream.

Now for the fun stuff: the assembly of your Black Forest Cherry cake.

Image 4-12-14 at 5.39 PMTop your cake base with half of the cherries.  Top the cherries with half of the whipped cream (that has not been stabilized with the gelatin).  Top with the bottom disk of the sponge cake and repeat by topping with the remaining half of cherries.  I should have not put as much of the thickened liquid.  It got a little sloppy… but a yummy sloppy, so I am okay with it.. remember if it is not perfect it is rustic!

 

 

 

Image 4-12-14 at 5.43 PMAdd the remaining whipped cream (not stabilized batch). Top with second layer of sponge cake.  Spread the stabilized whipped cream over the top and sides of the assembled cake. Mine should have been whipped just a tad longer, but it still worked okay.

Decorate with a circle of the reserved cherries.

 

 

IMG_6891 Then to finish decorating the torte, use a vegetable peeler and make chocolate curls by “peeling” a bar of milk chocolate over the cake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It is best to let the cake set up in the refrigerator for a few hours before you slice into it. I am an impatient person though and was so excited to have made the cake that I could not wait to try it though. It turned out beautifully!

And it was as good as my Mom’s rendition too, which is a bonus.. now if only I could conjure up a snow storm and eat it in an airport!

 


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Crepe Suzette

Part 4 of 4 of my daughter’s French Meal for her French Class is of course dessert.  In hindsight I should have made other crepes that do not call for alcohol.  We have children after all and my husband and I found the taste of it overpowering.  But I cannot be certain that it burned off properly.  As it turn out my daughter (14) is actually pretty good at making crepes.  Okay, we started off rough.  The first 15  or so crepes ended up in a discarded heap, but as time went on, they were actual crepes, that we could use.  I doubled the batter knowing that we would likely have difficulty making the crepes (but the recipe is the original amounts).  The batter must be refrigerated at least 2 hours before making the crepes, so plan ahead.

Crepes Fines Sucrees

(Light Crepe Batter as for crepe Suzette)

Adapted from Julia Child (Mastering the Art of French Cooking page 649)

Yield: 10-12 (6 inch) crepes

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp rum/orange liqueur/or brandy
  • 1 cup flour
  • 5 Tbsp melted butter

Instructions:

Place the items in a blender (or do as I did in a bowl and use an immersion blender to combine) and blend.  Use a rubber spatula to push down any flour that is on the sides to form a smooth batter without lumps.  Refrigerate the batter at least 2 hours or longer before making the crepes.

To make the crepes, heat a non stick skillet (or crepe pan if you are lucky enough to have one) and melt some butter in the pan.  Pour about 1/8 cup of batter into the skillet, rotating the skillet to spread into a thin crepe.  Cook until it is golden brown and flip (very very carefully) to cook the other side.  They are tricky to make, but once you get the hang of it, it does become easier. (My daughter made these remember?)

Crepes Suzette

adapted from Julia Child (Mastering the Art of French Cooking page 650)

Serves 6 (3 crepes each)

  • 18 prepared crepes

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 oranges, zest removed with a microplane
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (without pulp)
  • 3 Tbsp orange liqueur

For Chafing dish (I used a foil lasagna pan)

  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup orange liqueur
  • 1/3 cup cognac

Instructions:

Combine the sugar, orange zest, softened butter and add the orange juice and orange liqueur.  Stir to combine.  Place them in a chafing dish and allow the butter to melt into an orange sauce (I didn’t have a chafing dish and placed a foil lasagna pan over a low flame on my gas burner.  Dip the prepared crepes into the orange sauce to coat on both sides and then fold them first in half and then in quarters and place to the side of your chafing dish (foil lasagna pan).  For presentation: Sprinkle the arranged crepes with sugar. Pour the alcohol over the crepes and light it on fire (make sure you don’t have anything above it- like a face, hair, microwave… I did this part on my table making sure everyone was standing well away).  While the flame is burning, ladle the sauce over the crepes with a long handled spoon.  For some reason it did not burn as much as we had anticipated and the crepes had a sharp alcoholic taste to them.  If I do make them again, I will stop short of the alcohol and just serve them like that, maybe broil the sugar to get a caramelized look to it.

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NOTES: It was part of my daughter’s French project, we were glad to get it done.  As far as making it again, probably not, but it was a good experience for us.  My daughter now realized she can make herself some pancakes for breakfast – since she has now made crepes!