Sunday, November 29, 2009

Making do in the kitchen.....

If you had a chance to read my Martha Stewart's Buttermilk Pancakes entry, you know all about my love/hate relationship with Martha. I love her recipes, but Martha? Meh…not so much. She was really just a bit irritating to me before, but then I heard her rant about Rachel Ray and it just validated my feeling for her. Haughty much? Not to mention she is a felon….

Of course, I don’t let my feelings get in the way when it comes to food, so today I pulled out Martha’s pancake recipe and was set to make those fluffy , beautiful things….then I realized that I had no buttermilk. But, you know, that was OK. According to my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, I could simply add some lemon juice to milk and it would be a good substitute. This was going to work out.

Then I pulled out the eggs I had my husband pick up for me. They were jumbo eggs. Jumbo eggs? What do you use jumbo eggs for? Granted, they were beautiful. But they were quite large.

Hmmm…the batter was a little thin. So I threw a bit more flour in. Now it was lumpy and thin. I could feel Martha’s disapproval, but I forged ahead.

I heated the griddle and poured my cakes. They were very ugly.

I couldn’t stop now, though; I had a big bowl of batter to use. Martha was tsking in my ear as I unceremoniously plopped the finished cakes on a McDonald’s plastic plate (circa 1985).

Both my mother-in-law and my husband pulled a few off of the offending plate and scarfed them down. Huh…they were edible. Actually, they were pretty good. So I rolled a few up and topped them with some leftover cranberry sauce (from a can) and some syrup (Hungry Jack) and envisioned Martha turning in her grave. Oh yeah, she is still alive. Oops.

Here’s to you, Martha. Life gave me lemons and I made buttermilk.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Chocolate Angel Pie

It’s interesting to me how traditions get started. My sister was married over 35 years ago (I’m not saying how old I was at the time—suffice to say I was a junior bridesmaid at that shindig). It was an interesting blend of two cultures, she being a Dutch baker’s daughter and he being the son of a successful  Milwaukee businessman. As such, she acquired a slew of new traditions that she naturally shared with me, her tag along little sister. I don’t think she realizes how much of an influence she had on my ability, and frankly my love of, baking. Of the many recipes she learned from her husband’s family, my favorite has always been the Chocolate Angel Pie. They served it at all of their holiday functions and, in keeping with tradition, my sister served it at all of hers….and taught me how to make it as well.

Chocolate Angel Pie


• 4 egg whites, room temp.
• 1/4 t. cream of tartar
• 1 cup sugar


• 1 cup chocolate chips
• 4 egg yolks*
• 1 t. vanilla
• 2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
• 1 (8 oz)container non-dairy whipped topping, thawed (you can use real whipped cream for this step, if you prefer)
• 1 cup whipping cream

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Grease 9" deep glass pie plate. (I spray it well with cooking spray)

Beat 4 egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy. Add sugar gradually, beating until stiff and glossy.

Spread meringue in pie plate, making a "well" in the middle for filling. (I won't show you how to make the crust again, but here is the link: Lemon Angel Pie)

Bake in 300 degree oven for 1 hour. Turn off heat and keep meringue in oven for at least one hour, preferably overnight.

Put chocolate chips in medium sized microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute to 1 minute 20 seconds or until chocolate is melted (be careful not to burn them--the chips will retain their shape).

Add egg yolks and beat with electric mixer until smooth.

Let chocolate mixture cool, and then add vanilla (or for an extra kick, add a little Kaluha). Fold in beaten egg whites, and then thawed whipped topping, mixing well.

(This doesn't look quite as good as the lemon one yet, does it? Just wait...)


(Now doesn't this look good?)

Pour filling into pie shell, cover with plastic wrap and chill for several hours.

Just before serving, whip whipping cream with 1 T. powdered sugar, and top pie. Garnish with chocolate curls, if desired.

*For safety reasons, I have adapted this recipe over the years. I used to use the raw eggs in the filling and I have never had a problem, but I can't take a chance and serve it to anyone else with that risk. I use regular egg whites for the crust and pasturized egg yolks for the filling. The filling also has two beaten egg whites which I like to use for volume. For this I use powdered egg whites. That step is optional. It is kind of a pain to use three different egg sources, but this pie is very much worth it!


Chocolate Angel Pie on Foodista

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dinner Club---The Thanksgiving Edition

Thanksgiving in my family, as I’m sure it is in most, is a meal steeped in tradition. That is a wonderful thing, for the most part. Woe be it, however, to anyone who dares break with tradition and serve a new food. At our house, there had better be dressing made the way Oma makes it with Wonder Bread, hamburger, onions, sage and chicken broth (it really is good!), the sweet potato casserole better have marshmallows melted on top, and the green beans better be swimming in mushroom soup and have those canned fried onion things on top. If anything new is to be tried, it had better not be at the expense of one of the standbys. Luckily for me, I do have an outlet for those never before tried, seemingly exotic, Thanksgiving treats---Dinner Club.

This year our dinner club November theme was, not surprisingly, Thanksgiving. Since I hosted last month, it was my turn to bring the wine and the cocktails. I chose to make a recipe that my friend Michele (My Italian Grandmother) made a few weeks ago, a Pom Royale: a pomegranate juice and champagne cocktail.

Tina brought an appetizer of cheese and crackers, pretzels and mustard.


She also brought a very tasty Raspberry Pretzel Salad. (I want some of this right now!)

Raspberry Pretzel Salad

2 (3oz) pkg. raspberry Jello
1-1/2 c. boiling water
2 (16oz) pkg. fresh or frozen raspberries
1 (8oz) pkg. cream cheese
1 c. granulated sugar
1 (8oz) cont. nondairy whipped topping
3 c. crushed pretzels
3/4 c. melted butter
4T. brown sugar

First layer: Mix Jello w/ boiling water. Add frozen raspberries with juice. Pour into 9x13-inch pan. Put in refrigerator until set.

Second layer: Mix cream cheese with sugar until creamy. Mix in whipped topping. Spread over Jello mixture.

Third layer: Crush pretzels into pieces. Mix with melted butter and brown sugar, making sure all pieces are coated. Spread into a bar pan and bake 400 for 6 minutes. Watch so they don't burn. remove from oven and cool. Break into pieces and put onto cream layer; refrigerate until ready to serve.

My good friend Amy hosted and made the turkey, simply rubbed with some succulent herbs and roasted to perfection.

(These roasting pans come in very handy...leaves the oven open for other things)

Let's not forget the rolls. Sometimes the frozen ones just hit the spot:

Patricia brought her now famous Mashed Yams in Orange Cups:

(the pecans weren't really purple...must have been the light)

Jane brought the green bean and stuffing casserole.

And, finally, Jen brought a yummy pumpkin trifle….pumpkin mousse layered with ginger snaps.

Another very nice dinner club meal!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lemon Angel Pie

For many, many years, my signature pie has been a Chocolate Angel Pie. I make one for every holiday and special occasion. What is an angel pie, you ask? Simply, it is a pie with a meringue crust. It looks spectacular. It tastes even better. And it isn’t hard to make.

Several years ago, my mother-in-law came to live with us and I made her one of my Chocolate Angel Pies. She liked it. But, after polishing off her second piece, she wondered out loud if there existed a lemon version. Now, I knew the Lemon Angel Pie existed, but rather than search for the recipe, I came up with one on my own. I liked it. I liked it a lot. And I’m not one for lemony things. Let me present to you the Lemon Angel Pie:

Lemon Angel Pie

4 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten (I use dried egg whites)
1 (8 oz) container non-dairy whipped topping, thawed
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest


1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

2. Grease (or use cooking spray) a 9” glass pie plate.

3. In large bowl, beat 4 egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff, but not dry. Add sugar slowly until stiff and glossy.

4. Spread meringue in pie plate, making a “well” in the center for the filling.

5. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour. Turn off the heat and leave crust in oven for at least one hour or, preferably, overnight.

6. In small, heavy saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice, and sugar. Heat over medium-low heat until mixture thickens and starts to bubble. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool to room temperature.

7. Fold beaten egg whites into lemon mixture (for years, I just used regular uncooked egg whites to do this, but I figure my time is about up for being lucky and not getting sick from them, so now I use powdered egg whites for this step. You can probably skip this part altogether, but I think it adds a bit of lift to the filling) and then fold in whipped topping.

Couldn't you just swim in this stuff?

8. Spread lemon mixture into pie shell and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for several hours.

9. When ready to serve, whip whipping cream with powdered sugar and spread over the top of the pie. Garnish with lemon zest.

Using a glass pie plate, and making sure to grease it well, are key to being able to cut and serve this pie!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Crazy Good Banana Pound Cake

I don't know about you, but I am a recipe hoarder. I cut them out of magazines and newspapers and file them in the pages of cookbooks or in between piles of old bills. Every once in a while, I will run across one of my treasures and will actually give it a try. Such was the case for this lucious Banana Pound Cake. I had actually cut it out of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune several years ago, tucked it away and forgot about. When I re-found (is that a word?) it a couple of months ago, the list of ingredients really sounded good---bananas (of course) with a little ginger and little orange zest. It turns out this one is a keeper. I have made it several times now, and I like it so much better than a banana bread. This is truly a pound cake, but lighter in flavor and texture than some (think Sara Lee) At any rate, here it is:

Banana Pound Cake (adapted from the Star-Tribune)
Printable Recipe

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 medium, very ripe bananas, mashed not too smooth with a fork (3/4 cup)
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange peel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.; Spray 2 9x5 loaf pans with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving an over-hang on the long sides of the pans.

Cream the butter in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Gradually add the sugar, beating at low speed, then increase the mixer speed to high and beat until pale and fluffy.

When you beat the heck out of the butter and the sugar, it will become a beautiful, light lemony color....

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl sides after each addition. After all eggs are in, beat several minutes at high speed until the mixture is smooth and very pale. Beat in the bananas.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and ginger. combine the milk and vanilla. Beating at low speed, add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the milk mixture. Stir in the orange peel.

(I'm a whisker, not a sifter...)

Pour the batter into 2 9x5 loaf pans, spreading evenly. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the cake pulls away slightly form the sides of the pan and a toothpick or cake tester inserted near the center---and nearly all the way down---comes out clean.

Have you seen this stuff? Love! I sprayed the pans, then lined with parchment and sprayed again.

Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a knife, invert onto a rack, invert again and cool completely.

Certainly, you can bake this in a tube or a Bundt pan. If so, be careful not to overfill the pan--there may be a bit of batter left over. The bake time would be a bit longer as well, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Cover with foil to prevent over-browning after about 45 minutes.

The hint of citrus and ginger is perfect!

If you really want to jazz it up, serve a couple slices with some ice cream, bananas, and homemade hot fudge. Need a recipe for the hot fudge? Find it right here: Dark Chocolate Hot Fudge

Or add some strawberries and pineapple to make a banana pound cake split!