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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Thanksgiving Tips 2019

My people! Rula is here for you! I know, I know, for some of you, cooking for Thanksgiving can be very stressful. That's why you should go check out my surefire hints to improve the evening's meal:

❯❯❯ Rula Gives Good Bird ❮❮❮

Yes, fellow Pilgrims, these are the same tips I link to every year, but — like me — they never go out of style!

So, since Stacy's all set up at her new digs on Long Island, and Mary-Charlotte has long since retired from radio, there will be no more day-before-Thanksgiving Radio Café appearances. What can you do? Time seems to only stop for me. But fret not! There are still! eight years of Radio Café podcast archives that feature Stacy's Thanksgiving tips. I guess the internet is good for something besides Russian election interference!

Also! You can check out all the other Thanksgiving posts here at Mouth of Wonder by clicking on "Thanksgiving" in that big word jumble down there on the left. I know, it says "Browse by Ingredient" and Thanksgiving isn't an ingredient! Just roll with it, darlings!

Well, my little Candied Yams, it's back to Brooklyn for me — I have to go whip my cream! Ciao!

Cranberry-Orange Crumb Cake

Autumnal  Recipe of the Week
I have a fussy friend who doesn't like many things, but she loves cranberry and orange together! So I have been collecting recipes for her, and I think this one is a winner. I feel like it's more of a breakfast treat then a dessert, but who am I to stop you from eating it all day? Whenever I see a recipe with sour cream in the batter I know it will have a moist and delicious texture, which this does. And the crumb topping is really really yummy. The drizzle is optional but why not, just wait for the cake to cool or it will disappear into the crumble (see photo).



Ingredients for crumb topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3.5 ounces (7 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients for cranberry-orange cake
5 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
zest of 1 orange
2 eggs room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces full fat sour cream
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup dried cranberries soaked in 1/2 cup rum then drained (or just drink it!)

Ingredients for orange glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon orange liqueur

Procedure
Crumb topping In a medium-size bowl, mix together flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add melted butter and mix together with fingers so crumbs form. Set aside.

Cranberry-orange cake Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8-inch pan with non-stick spray then line with parchment paper and lightly spray again. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar, and orange zest until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla extract, mixing until combined. Add dry ingredients, alternating with sour cream in three additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in both kinds of cranberries.Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and top with crumb topping. Bake for 55-60 minutes, rotating once halfway through. Cake is done when top is set and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely. Carefully turn out of baking pan onto a platter.

Orange glaze In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and orange liqueur. You can substitute freah orange juice for the booze. Drizzle over completely cooled cake.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Spanish Scallop Salad

Every year for my lovely sister-in-law's birthday I cook a feast for her and her family at their home on Long Beach Island. This summer I decided to make it a themed buffet of Spanish tapas! It gave me the opportunity to use authentic Spanish ingredients I bought at Despaña in Soho, as well as local island seafood, and produce from my garden. (I made about 12 different tapas for the party and plan to feature all of them in the coming months here on the blog. It was a huge success and we have already agreed on a middle eastern buffet for next summer.) I had planned to do some kind of marinated seafood salad, originally thinking of using Calamari, but when I got to our favorite local fish market and the sign said: "local scallops" I could not resist. Enjoy, and know you can use any kind of seafood you want for this dish.



Ingredients
1 1/2 lbs scallops, calamari(rinse, dry and cut into rings), or shrimp (peeled and deveined)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon aged sherry vinegar
1/3 cup good olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 small red onion, cut in half, then into very thin slices
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
2 ribs of celery, finely sliced
1 cup loose packed flat leaf parsley, leaves only
1/4 cup cilantro leaves (optional)

Procedure
Clean the scallops and cut them in half if large and dry them (you cannot sauté them if they are wet). Sauté scallops in a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until the surface shows some small cracks, then remove from pan. If using shrimp or calamari, lightly poach them in some water, white wine, lemon juice, and herbs of your choice and then quickly cool them.

Whisk together the lime, vinegar, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir in onions and let sit 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the cooled seafood, olives, tomato, celery and parsley. Toss with dressing and refrigerate 1 hour before serving to allow flavors to combine. If you want extra heat, add some Aleppo pepper to the mix.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Strawberry Shortcake in Cake Form

When my dear friend requests a birthday cake and then says strawberry shortcake is her favorite, I get to work. There are basically three elements: a great sponge cake or genoise for the layers; a strawberry filling; and stabilized whipped cream. For the cake layers I go to my baking mentor Susan Purdy for a great recipe I'm very familiar with. It's from Pie in the Sky the high-altitude cookbook I helped her with, back when I lived in Santa Fe. (Even though it's mainly for high altitudes, the book also includes a version of every recipe for sea level — that's what I used here.) It's a foolproof recipe which requires carefully following the explicit instructions and using many bowls, but it's totally worth it. The cooked strawberry filling is pretty basic but the inclusion of a little Yuzu juice keeps it very fresh and not too sweet. The whipped cream which frosts the outside is held a bit firmer with the inclusion of folded-in melted and cooled white chocolate with a little heavy cream in it. Then you just put it all together — it's divine! Of course, this would be fabulous with a cooked peach filling and almond scented whipped cream, or cherry filling and a chocolate Genoise. The possibilities are endless!



Ingredients for genoise
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon sifted cake flour
pinch salt
6 large room temperature eggs separated
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon grated citrus zest (your choice)
6 tablespoons melted and cooled unsalted butter

Procedure
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare two 9 inch cake rounds with non stick spray, line the bottom with parchment, re-spray, flour pans, and tap out excess flour.

Sift flour and sugar into small bowl and set aside. Put egg whites in bowl of electric mixer,  add cream of tartar, and whisk until foamy on medium speed. Gradually whip in 1/2 cup granulated sugar increasing mixer speed to high. Whip until stiff peaks form and when you raise up the whisk the egg white peak stands firm and tall and glossy. Carefully, with a rubber spatula, remove the egg whites into a medium size bowl and, without washing the eggy bowl, return to mixer stand and add egg yolks and remaining 1/2 cup sugar and whip until mixture thickens and lightens in color. Then add the extracts and zest and continue mixing at a high speed until it forms a ribbon as the batter drips off the whisk (which will take between 5-7 minutes, depending on your mixer). Now it's time to combine parts. Start by folding 1 cup of whipped egg whites into the yolks carefully with a good rubber spatula. Then alternately fold the flour mixture and the whites into the yolk mixture. Once everything is combined, remove 1 cup of batter and put into a small bowl. Fold the melted and cooled butter into the batter and then incorporate the batters together with yet more folding.

Using a spatula, divide batter between 2 pans and place on middle rack in oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until top is golden brown and it springs back when touched. Let cool. Can be made ahead of time and frozen.

Ingredients for strawberry filling
2 cups strawberries, cut into quarters
1/4 cup Yuzu (or lemon) juice
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch stirred in 1/4 cup cold water

Procedure
Combine the berries, sugar, and juice in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat about 10 minutes, or until the berries create a nice bit of juice and get tender. Do not overcook, you want to see the pieces. Then taste for sweetness — you can add more sugar or more juice to your taste. Mix the cornstarch with the water just to make a paste and stir it into the boiling berries. Cook another few minutes so cornstach flavor cooks out. If it's too thick, add a splash of water and then let cool.

Ingredients for whipped cream frosting
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioner's sugar

Procedure
In the top of a small double boiler, melt chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons of heavy cream over low heat, stirring with a rubber spatula. When everything is melted and combined, remove from heat and set aside to cool. In bowl of electric mixer, whip heavy cream until it is soft but thick. Sprinkle in confectioner's sugar and vanilla and whip a bit more. Then add melted white chocolate mixture and mix until thick. Watch closely, as over mixing can cause it to separate. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assembly
I like to brush the cake layers with a little simple syrup to keep them moist (this is optional). Simple syrup lives up to its name — it's just equal parts of sugar and water which is boiled a few minutes until sugar dissolves and mixture is clear. You can also add some rum or Grand Marnier if you want to add another layer of flavor ... or even coffee. So place the first cake layer on a flat plate and put some of the whipped cream in a pastry bag and pipe a tube around the edge of the cake to keep the strawberry filling in place then put half the filling on top of first layer and smooth it out. Next top it with the second cake layer. Repeat the edge piping and berries. Then take the whipped cream in a pastry bag with a star tip and make festive little stars in rows up the sides and eat all of it. Happy end of summer!