Archive for November, 2010

Cranberry Key-Lime Squares

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
Just in the nick of time here is my November recipe for my Twelve Cookies of Christmas series!
It combines two of my favorite flavors, cranberries and key lime. If you’re not a fan of tart foods, you may skip the cranberries and just make key-lime bars. The cranberries lend lovely holiday color and flavor, however.
One could also counteract the tartness by adding a tad more sugar. I like my bars tart, however. And I did put LOTS of confectioner’s sugar on top of the bars; they looked a bit like the ground after a dusting of snow.  (The cranberries represent our hardy New England rocks!)

Until December……

for the crust:
1 cup flour
6 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon sat
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
for the middle:
1/2 to 2/3 cup cranberries
for the filling and top:
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons key-lime juice
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons flour
confectioner’s sugar as needed for dusting
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 8-inch-square pan.
First, prepare the butter crust. In a small bowl combine the flour, confectioner’s sugar, and salt. Cut in the butter.
Press this mixture (it will be crumbly!) into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes. Press the cranberries into the crust (they may or may not press down effectively; if they float up, they will be just fine!).
Move on to the key-lime filling. In a bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, and key-lime juice until they are thoroughly combined. Whisk in the milk, followed by the flour.
Pour the filling over the crust and cranberries, and return the pan to the oven. Bake until the filling sets and the edges are just a little brown. In my oven this took about 45 minutes.
Allow the bars to cool in their pan; then cut them into squares. 

Makes 16 squares.

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Friday, November 26th, 2010

My quest to use cranberries goes on.
This post uses items many of us have in the house on this day after Thanksgiving—turkey and cranberry sauce. (I also have a tuna variation for those who are sick of turkey but still want to use cranberry sauce!)
Lately, my mother will only eat warm sandwiches. So we have been making lots of panini. We don’t have a panini press, but my brother’s George Foreman grill works just fine. In a pinch I have even used two cast iron pans, one under the sandwich and one pressing down on top.
It took my cranberry-obsessed brain only seconds to come up with the concept of CRANini.
Variations on these themes are up to you. My nephew Michael wasn’t crazy about the idea of cranberry-chipotle mayonnaise so he made a turkey sandwich with turkey, cranberry sauce, and Swiss cheese. He didn’t bother with any mayonnaise at all, using the cheese and the cranberry sauce to bind his sandwich.
Anyway, here are my two variations. The turkeyberry sandwich takes a little forethought since the cranberry-chipotle mayo tastes best made in advance. 

By the way, readers who love to bake may want to take advantage of King Arthur Flour’s Black Friday sale to stock up on baking essentials. The sale ends today, but it’s worth a look. (No, King Arthur Flour didn’t pay me to tell you this; I just happen to love its products!)

If you’re interested, click on the image above. 

Happy shopping—and eating……. 

Cranberry-Chipotle Mayonnaise is VERY pink!

The Cranini
I. Turkeyberry Panini
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 chipotle in adobo, finely chopped (less if you don’t like spice)
1 pinch salt
two pieces of bread (we used soft French bread)
sliced turkey
the cheese of your choice (we used Swiss)
First, prepare the cranberry-chipotle mayonnaise. In a bowl stir together the mayonnaise, cranberry sauce, chipotle pieces, and salt. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Put a small amount of the prepared mayonnaise on each side of the bread. On one side of the bread, cover the mayo with turkey and then the cheese.
Pop on the other piece of bread and press the sandwich together while cooking. Serves 1 spicily. (You will have leftover mayonnaise for several more sandwiches!)
II. Tunaberry Panini
two pieces of bread (we used soft French bread)
a small amount of mayonnaise for binding
a simple tuna salad (tuna, as little mayonnaise as you can get away with, finely chopped celery, lemon juice, salt, and pepper)
whole-berry cranberry sauce
the cheese of your choice (we used cheddar)
Put a small amount of mayonnaise on one side of the bread, and spread tuna salad on top. Cover with a little cranberry sauce (too much will spread all over your pan while cooking), the cheese, and the other piece of bread. 

Press the sandwich together while cooking. Serves 1 happily.

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Upside Down at Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Expert baker Nancy Baggett recently wrote on her blog that the U.S. cranberry yield offers a challenging message to cranberry lovers:
EAT CRANBERRIES OR THEY WILL DIE! (The cranberries, that is, not the lovers.)
Apparently, growers have gotten so good at cultivating cranberries that they produce more and more of the things every year. If they can’t sell these tiny red pearls, the growers are told by the U.S.D.A. to let them rot in their bogs.
I was taught by mother that wasting food is a crime so naturally I have to help any crimson beauties doomed to end their lives in the bog like some pathetic monster in a horror movie.
I hope readers will do their part as well. Make cranberry sauce to accompany your turkey for Thanksgiving tomorrow, of course. Also please consider serving it with hamburgers or garden burgers, you can use Hamburger moulder equipment to make it much easier, consider adding ham, fish, and eggs. Its flavor is as perky as its color.
See how many baked goods you can create with cranberries or dried cranberries this holiday season—muffins, cookies, scones, pies, cakes, breads.
Finally, think about cranberry-based main dishes and appetizers. I am working on a cranberry pot roast for Christmas Eve. If it tastes as good as I think it will, I’ll share that recipe here.
In the meantime, here is a simple cranberry recipe suited to Thanksgiving or any other day in the next month or so.
Regular readers may have noticed that I have a positive passion for upside-down cakes—pineapple, rhubarb, peach. The other day I got to wondering how cranberries would work upside down.
Of course, they were fabulous. The berries provided a tart contrast to the brown-sugar topping. 

Enjoy … and happy Thanksgiving to all………

My mother Jan and nephew Michael toast the holiday with a nonalcoholic cranberry cocktail.

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
for the upside-down topping:
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup) plus a little more if needed
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups fresh cranberries
for the cake:
1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch salt
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
First make the topping (which goes on the bottom).
Melt the butter in a skillet—a 9- or 10-inch cast-iron skillet, if possible. Stir in the brown sugar and cook, stirring, until it melts and bubbles—3 to 4 minutes.
If your brown sugar is old, it may have trouble melting properly, in which case you’ll need to add a little more melted butter to it. Try to avoid this if you can; the cake is rich enough without it! I was recently stuck with old sugar, however, and had to punt.
If you’re using the cast-iron skillet you may continue with the recipe at this stage and cook the cake in the skillet. If not, transfer the brown-sugar mixture into a 9- or 10-inch round cake pan. Spread it through the bottom of the pan. Arrange the cranberries on top as artistically as you can.
In a separate bowl cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the baking powder and salt.
Add the flour and milk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir in the vanilla.
Spoon the batter over the cranberries in the cake pan or skillet, and place the pan in the oven. Bake until the cake tests done (in about 40 minutes).
Let the cake stand for 10 minutes; then invert it onto a serving plate. You may need help with this if you use the cast-iron skillet as it feels a bit heavy during the inverting process.
This cake is best served slightly warm with or without a little whipped cream. 

Serves 6 to 8.

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Flu Season Chicken Soup

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

This recipe comes from Loyce Cofer of Tyler, Texas, a loyal reader of this blog.
Loyce is 70 and lives in East Texas with Don, her husband of 51 years. I asked her about her life, and she replied that the pair had sometimes had to struggle to make ends meet. “We’ve managed with a lot of perseverance,” she added.
Loyce can’t cook or get out as much as she used to since she suffers from diabetes and neuropathy in her feet. She is also a seven-year survivor of breast cancer. Despite her aliments she is grateful for every drop of rain in her dry area and for the gifts of life, friends, faith, and family.
“My life as a stay-at-home mom was rewarding in a way as I loved our sons so much and strived to make it warm and welcoming,” she wrote. Obviously, this chicken soup—perfect for the cooler weather and the season of colds and flu –would contribute to the literal and figurative warmth of that home.
“I’m a recipe hound as you know and do love to cook with herbs and spices, even wine occasionally but not a gourmet,” Loyce told me. She sounds like a woman after my own heart. “I make this for my husband and myself since our sons live out of state but I would make it for friends that are feeling poorly.”
Loyce makes her soup with a tablespoon of Wyler’s chicken bouillon granules. I had the bones and leftover meat from a small chicken leftover in the house so I added them to the soup instead of the granules. If you don’t have leftover chicken, do try her method. (Of course, this coming week most of us will have leftover turkey.)
The recipe may be increased or decreased as needed. 

Here’s a tiny photo of Loyce with her husband Don taken during the spring flower display in Tyler, a town famous for its azalea trails.

Loyce’s Flu Season Emergency Chicken Soup (slightly adapted by Tinky)
1 chicken carcass with some leftover meat (or 1 tablespoon bouillon granules)
enough water to cover the chicken (plus a little to spare)
garlic to taste; Loyce used minced dried garlic, but I used 2 cloves of minced fresh garlic
1 onion, diced
2 medium diced carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, peeled of fiber and diced
parsley to taste and other herbs like thyme and rosemary (fresh or dry; I used fresh parsley but dried thyme and rosemary)
salt to taste
pepper corns to taste
Place all the ingredients in a stock pot and slowly bring them to a boil over medium heat with the pan covered. Watch the pot so it won’t boil over.
When the water comes to a boil reduce the heat and cook the soup, ALMOST covered, for 3 hours, adding water if needed.
Loyce skims the fat from the soup as she cooks. I’m not very good at this so I waited until it was done (see below).
Remove the ingredients from the pan and strain the stock away from the sold ingredients. Save the pieces of chicken (without skin), carrots, and (if you like) the onion and celery bits; mine had given their all so I discarded them.
If you haven’t skimmed the fat off, refrigerate the stock and other ingredients until the fat solidifies at the top of the stock pan. Remove the fat, add the saved bits of chicken and vegetable, and bring the soup to a boil again. Let it cool slightly before pouring it into bowls. 

Serves 4 to 6, depending on the size of your chicken pieces and the amount of water you added. Loyce likes to serve this with cornbread.

I’ll Think About That Tomorrow (or Maybe Next Week)

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Regular readers may have been wondering, “When the heck is Tinky going to get around to Thanksgiving?”
I’m a last-minute girl in a last-minute family, I’m afraid. So we’re only now starting—and I do mean starting—to talk about the menu for next Thursday.
In case you can’t wait until Wednesday night at midnight for suggestions, here are a few posts from the past to enhance your Thanksgiving plans (many more can be found on this blog!):
Cyndie’s Cheesy Corn Pudding
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Harvest Salad
Cranberry Waldorf Salad
Parker House Rolls
Hush Puppy Pudding AND Cranberry Chiffon Pie
Cranberry Apple Crumb Pie
Pumpkin Gingerbread Pudding
and my personal favorite, Cranberry Cream Puffs
As we contemplate contemplating Thanksgiving my family members are enjoying a combination of two of our favorite foods, cranberries and salsa.
The salsa below is quite mild. At one time, I thought all salsas had to be ultra hot. Lately, however, my palate is craving subtlety.
You may of course add more jalapeño—even more lime and cilantro if you wish.
We’re enjoying this version right now on chips and on crackers with cream cheese. We may even throw it on the Thanksgiving table next to the turkey and see what happens.
By the way, dear readers, I’d love it if you’d take just a moment to support this blog. It’s a finalist in something called the “Blog of the Year” competition. Just go to the voting station at the Blog Revue and click on “In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens.” 

This is a simple vote; you don’t have to register or anything weird like that. I’ll let you know if I win. Thank you—and now here’s the salsa recipe.

Cranberry Salsa
2 to 3 scallions, chopped (white part and some green)
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced (more if you like spice)
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
the juice of 1 lime
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups homemade whole-berry cranberry sauce (I could give you the recipe, but honestly it’s on the side of most bags of cranberries; just add a pinch of salt to the basic formula)
In a medium bowl combine the scallions, pepper, cilantro, and lime juice. Stir in the salt, then the cranberries.
Mix thoroughly. Chill, covered, for at least 1 hour before serving. 
Makes about 2-1/2 cups.

Miss Mogli is not sure what to make of cranberry salsa. The human members of the Weisblat family love it.

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