December is National Fruit Cake Month and I am going to start if off by soaking my fruit for our Annual Fruitcake, something my husband loves. All the years of my Childhood and into Adulthood, my Mother made Fruitcakes every single year. She made enough so that my Father could take some to his Co-Workers and we still had more than enough for our consumption. I have actually never been a great fan of Fruitcake, but like Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving, I still make Fruitcake and I still do eat it. So here goes. My Fruit Cake Making Saga!
Day One – Sunday December 1st – gather together all the Fruit that I am going to use and cut up what needs cutting – place them all together in a large bowl and pour some Wine over them. Brandy is the usual Liqueur to use but I have Marsala Wine and think I will use that. Strike that – went to the Beverage Store and purchased Gran Marnier – Brandy but Orange flavored and not too strong. For Non-Alcoholic Fruit Cake, try using Orange Juice or Sparkling Apple Cider. Both work quite well! I added just enough Gran Marnier to moisten the Fruit and then covered the Bowl and let it sit overnight.
Day 2 – I prepared the Batter and baked the Cakes.
Make sure the Fruit is in a LARGE BOWL so that you have enough room to incorporate the Batter into the Fruit. Before preparing the Batter, prepare the pans. Cut parchment paper or waxed paper to fit the bottoms of the pans. Spray the bottoms of the pans with a Vegetable Spray and then insert the prepared paper.
Next prepare the Batter and add it to the Fruit.
Once all the Batter is evenly mixed with the Fruit and the Fruit is evenly distributed throughout the Batter fill the pans about 3/4 full. As you can see from the Photo I used loaf pans. One 10″ TUBE PAN can be used instead.
Bake in a slow oven for approximately 1 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool on wire racks; be sure the cakes are completely cool before removing from the pan. Turn the pans over and the cakes should come right out. If the don’t, gently loosen with a straight-edged spatula and then try again.
Wrap the Cakes tightly in plastic wrap and allow to age for several days or weeks before serving. If liquer on the cakes is desired, place the each cake on a large piece of cheesecloth placed on plastic wrap. Lightly douse with Gran Marnier, Brandy or Rum. Wrap tightly with the Cheesecloth and then the plastic wrap. Finally wrap the whole thing in Aluminum Foil.
If desired, more Liquer can occasionally be added through the Cheesecloth. JUST REMEMBER, THE MORE YOU ADD, THE STRONGER TASTING THE CAKES WILL BE. HOWEVER, THE LIQUER DOES KEEP THE CAKE MOIST AND ALLOW IT TO LAST AND TASTE GOOD THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS.
For the complete recipe go to /holiday-fruit-cake/
June is the perfect month for ‘National Cherry Tart Day’. Cherries are ripe and ready for picking, at least in California! Cherries are delicious to eat out of hand and are also delicious in whatever dish you decide to incorporate them into. The three main varieties of Cherries available in Southern California are Bing (the sweetest), Mt. Rainer (also sweet) and Queen Anne (in recent years not so easy to find) which are a tart cherry that is perfect for making pies or jams and jellies.
To make a Cherry Tart you will need several components, namely a base for your tart, a custard filling and your cherries. Let’s start with the base. You can use a standard pie crust or a sweet tart crust which is perfect for tarts, large and small. The tart crust will consist of flour, sugar, salt butter, eggs and water and vanilla.
The next component would be the custard filling which consists of eggs, milk, sugar, butter and again vanilla or better yet, almond extract which will enhance the flavor of the cherries. Almonds, Cherries, Peaches and Nectarines all have similar enzymes which contribute to the flavor of the fruit. Adding Almond Extract to Cherry, Peach or Nectarine pastries will enhance the flavor of those fruits.
Lastly, you will need the Cherries. For my Cherry Tart, I used sweet Bing Cherries. First place the Cherries in a colander and rinse the under cold water. Shake out as much of the water as possible and then put them in a bowl that has been lined with paper towels or a clean dish towel. Set the Cherries aside while you prepare the other components.
The first component that you want to prepare would be the Tart Crust as it is easier to roll when it is chilled. For the complete recipe please see the recipe section of this blog. sweet-tart-and-pie-pastry/ Once your tart crust has been prepared, flatten it to disc about 1” thick, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the Custard for the filling.
For the Custard filling, please see the recipe section of this blog. pastry-cream/ When you have finished cooking the Custard, place it in a bowl; let stand until it stops steaming and then cover with plastic wrap, being sure to place the plastic wrap directly on top of the Custard. This will insure that a skin does not form on top of the Custard. Refrigerate the Custard until you are ready to prepare the tarts.
The next step would be to roll out and bake the Tart Shell. If you are making a large tart (8 or 9”) you can roll out the dough in one piece. Be sure and lightly dust your rolling surface with flour. Flatten the Dough into a round disc and roll out to approximately ¼”, using a stockinette covered rolling pin. You can rub flour into the stockinette which will prevent the rolling pin from sticking to the dough, without adding additional flour to your dough which would toughen it.
If you are going to make individual tarts, divide the dough into several sections, depending on the size of your tart pans. In the photo below, the pan I am using has 12 tiny tart indentations. The dough should have been divided into 12 pieces. In the case of the tiny tarts, you can just flatten the dough and then minimally roll it out to fit the pan. Once you have fitted the dough into the pan, take your rolling pin and run it around the rim of the pan to cut off the excess dough. Many tart pans come with removable bottoms which makes it easier to remove the tart from the pan, especially in the case of the larger tart. With the smaller tart, you can easily lift the baked crust right out of the pan.
To bake the crusts, first poke holes in the bottom with the tines of a fork and then place a piece of foil into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Place some pie weights on top of the foil. Pie weights can be aluminum weights that you buy in your local culinary shop or dried beans that you keep just for this purpose. Once the beans are used for weights they can no longer be cooked.
Bake the Crust at 325 F. with the weights for about 15 minutes. Then remove the weights (you can easily lift out the foil as it doesn’t get too hot – and then just dump the weight back into their container.
Brush the Crusts with an Egg Yolk beaten with a little cream of milk and then return to the oven until they are a light golden brown – about 10 more minutes.
Remove the baked crusts from the oven and once they are cool enough to handle place them on a serving plate. This would be for the individual ones. If you are making a large tart, remove the sides of the pan but leave the crust on the bottom or if you can easily remove it without breaking it, place it on a serving plate.
While the crusts are baking, you can finish preparing the Cherries. You can use the Cherries uncooked, but cooking them slightly, brings out the flavor and add a natural syrup to them which coats them and preserves them. The first thing you have to do though is to remove the pits. There are several ways to do this. The easiest is to use a Cherry Pitter that will remove the pits from multiple Cherries for you. If you don’t have this type of Cherry Pitter, then you can use one that remove the pits, one Cherry at a time. Barring that, you can do what we used to do when I was small and that was to use a large tapestry needle to remove the pits individually from each Cherry. That was always my job after we had gone Cherry Picking and my Mother made Jams, Jellies and Pies. Today, though if you have the proper tools, it is much easier to do.
Heat a sauté pan and add about half cup of wine (I used Marsala but you can also use Madeira, Burgundy or even Kirsch, which is a Cherry Liquer. Bring the liquid to a simmer and then add the Cherries. Cook until the Cherries release their liquid and continue cooking until the liquid becomes syrupy. This will take from 5 – 10 minutes but no longer. Transfer the Cherries to a shallow bowl and allow to cool.
Place the Custard in the bottom of the Tart(s) and then add the Cherries to the top. Refrigerate until ready to serve. In the case of small tarts, one per person (depending on the size) should be sufficient for each person. The Tiny Tarts pictured would be perfect for a Dessert Buffet which would allow each person to sample several desserts without becoming too overloaded with sugar.
Try this version of Cherry Tarts or try creating your own. Whichever you do, you should enjoy making them and your family and/or friends will enjoy eating them!
On a whim (almost) I decided to try out Nearby Naturals Mushroom Grow Kit. They have a monthly plan that I decided to try. Not knowing that you could choose which type of mushroom you wished to receive I just went with the plan and hoped that what I got wouldn’t be Lions Mane because of all the Mushrooms I have ever eaten, this one is the first that I have not actually liked. They have sort of a mealy taste if you slice it and cook like a normal mushroom. They can also be torn apart and cooked like noodles but they are too soft in this form for my taste. The reason they are called Lions Mane is because when they are pulled apart the individual spores look like lions mane.
Well, my Lions Mane grew to full size from nothing in less than two weeks and here is where my adventures start. In trying to figure out what to do with them, I went on line to see what other people were doing with them.
The first thing I tried doing was to slice and fry them. I served them with Spinach, Asparagus and sliced Tomato. This was okay but not something I would want to do again. The on-line video showed the chef just loving this sliced mushroom?
Another instance was ‘Egg Drop Soup’. The on-line video used only water and corn starch as a thickener. I decided to go the traditional ‘Chinese Way’ and use Chicken Broth along with some other vegetables. This was okay and palatable but still something I would not do again. With this recipe you pull apart the individual spores and they look like noodles. They were somewhat soft though and did not taste like noodles.
For the recipe for the soup go to http://www.sylveeeskitchen.com/egg-drop-soup-with-lions-mane-mushrooms/
My final recipe for this crop of Lions Mane Mushrooms is ‘Fried Rice’ Lions Mane. I took the remaining Lions Mane and extruded them through the medium shredding blade of my Food Processor. I also shredded some Carrots and slivered some Green Onions. I then proceeded to fry the ingredients as I would have for Fried Rice.
For the complete recipe go to http://www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/dinner/vegetable-fried-rice/ and substitute the Rice with the shredded Lions Mane Mushrooms. For a photo of the Rice please go to https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4166532770023611&set=p.4166532770023611&type=3
We love Oatmeal/Raisin Cookies but it seems that we had overlooked the remainder of the last batch that I made. They were inside our Cookie Tin (Coincidentally one that was a commemorative tin for Quaker Oatmeal. The Cookies were still good, if a little on the dry side. And since I love recycling leftovers and turning them into new dishes, I decided to recycle the Cookies.
I broke them up and put them in the Food Processor.
I measured the resulting ‘cookie meal’ and then added what I decided would be enough flour to make a viable waffle batter. I then added a proportionate amount of Eggs, Milk and Butter. And voila, we had Oatmeal/Raisin Waffles for Breakfast.
For exact directions on how to recycle the cookies go to Recycled Oatmeal Cookies
As you will see when you read the recipe the recycling did not stop at Waffles. Since we are currently a household of two people and the resulting Waffle Batter was enough to feed four people, I decided to make muffins from the leftover Waffle Batter. Surprisingly, the Muffins turned out to be an excellent accompaniment for our breakfast the following morning. Same ingredients, but turned into a completely new item. The Muffins were served with Scrambled Eggs and Bacon. Fortunately, we were able to finish the Muffins over a couple of days and did not have to recycle them anymore.
There are a couple of ways to make an “Enchilada Casserole”.
#1 – use up leftover enchiladas
#2 – just use tortillas and the other ingredients for enchiladas
If you do not have any leftover enchiladas the simplest way to make the casserole is #2. Either way you make it, it is going to taste the same. The last Enchilada Casserole I made was of the second variety. My husband thinks he doesn’t like Chicken whereas I love Chicken if it is cooked properly (that is, fried, or roasted with lots of garlic, etc.) My husband Ev loves Turkey whereas I think Turkey can be pretty tasteless except at Thanksgiving. Anyways, my Go To Poultry is Chicken whereas Ev’s is Turkey. In between we also like Cornish Hens and Ev loves Duck and Turkey, neither of which are my favorites.
To get back to the Enchilada Casserole, here we go. First of all you are going to need some Enchilada Sauce. You can either buy it canned (usually too spicy for my husband) or make it yourself. If you use canned sauce and it is too spicy, just tame it down with a little Tomato Sauce or Tomato Juice. You can also add a bit of sugar to it.
The photo in the picture was made via the second version. So, here goes. Usually I make my own Sauce but this time it was a jar of Enchilada Sauce purchased from Whole Foods. It turned out that this was going to be a little too spicy for my Husband, so I tamed it down with Tomato Juice.
#1 – Choose a baking dish that is going to be large enough to hold a whole tortilla. 12 x 12 or a 12″ round casserole should do it.
#2 – Cover the bottom of the Baking Dish with a small amount of Enchilada Sauce.
#3 – Pour about 1/4″ to 1/2″ of Enchilada Sauce into a 12″ Frying Pan. Heat it up until it becomes warm and then soften the Tortillas, one at a time in the Sauce. I usually do just then as needed in the assembly.
#4 – Place the softened Tortilla in the Baking Dish. Scatter some of your Protein (this can be diced Chicken, ground Beef or even Shrimp) on the Tortilla. Add some Enchilada Sauce, some shredded Cheese, diced Olives, minced Cilantro, sliced Green Onions, etc. (Whatever choice of ingredients that you like)
#5 – Add another softened Tortillas and proceed as in # 4. I usually make it to be about 3 or 4 layers and then put more shredded Cheese on top with sliced Olives, minced Cilantro, etc.
#6 -If you want your Casserole to be spicy add some chopped Jalapenos or the Pepper of your choice.
$7 – Bake in a 350 degree oven until the casserole is hot and the cheese on top is melted. This will take about 20 – 30 minutes depending on your oven.
Serve Hot with Crema (Sour Cream). You can add Mexican Rice and/or a Salad to go along with the Casserole.
This recipe should serve 2-4 people depending on appetites and other dishes served with it. i usually add a Salad to the meal. You could also serve it with Mexican Rice.
If you are stuck in the house and have a bunch of leftovers either in the refrigerator, pantry or freezer, you may want to check out my ‘Culinary Makeovers’ Articles to help inspire you to create new dishes with your leftovers. Just go to the Search Box and type in Culinary Makeovers and you will be directed to a number of recipes that may give you ideas as to what to do with your leftovers.
In my previous post I mentioned that I was going to try and use up all the food in my freezer and/or refrigerator. I have made pretty good progress but have not got around to posting it. This post will be sort of fun because as the title suggests, it is a ‘trickle-down’ recycle or in other words, recycling the recycled. Now, it is not really like it sounds. The main ingredients are recycled only once and the twice recycled is just sort of using the leftovers as you will see when you read the rest of the post.
My husband Everett, loves Mac and Cheese. I sometimes make it but he wants it so often, that I tried resorting to purchasing small portions of it from Trader Joe’s and/or Bob Evans Mac and Cheese from the local market. While these are fairly good products, the Mac and Cheese that I make is so much better that I decided to make a large portion of it – having it for dinner one night and then packaging the rest in lunch size container and freezing it for use when needed. I made so much sauce that there was actually some leftover. You can put a lot of Cheese Sauce in the Macaroni but only so much!
So, the first recycled product was Cauliflower made with the leftover Cheese Sauce. Cauliflower is good for you but taste wise, just so so. But I couldn’t resist the pretty heads that had at our local Farmer’s Market so of course I purchased one.
Before I continue with the recycling portion of this post listed below are the nutritional benefits of cauliflower.
Calories per serving 25
Fiber 3 grams
Vitamin C 77% of the RDI
Vitamin K 20% of the RDI
Vitaming B6 11%
Pantothenic Acid 7%
So, as you can see whether or not you specifically love or don’t love cauliflower, it is beneficial to eat it. So, with this in mind I did cook the Cauliflower by separating the segments and washing it thoroughly and then cooking it in the microwave. Vegetables are about the only thing that I will cook in the microwave and cauliflower cooks up in a manner of a few minutes. When we were ready to eat dinner, I just put the covered dish of cauliflower into the microwave for about 2-3 minutes depending on the quantity and your microwave. Then I removed it from the microwave and topped it with the leftover Cheese Sauce from the Mac and Cheese. Voila! Cauliflower with a Cheesy Sauce tastes quite good.
But we are only two people who can eat just so much cauliflower at one time and since I don’t like using leftovers without doing something to change them I did do something quite unusual to recycle the Cheesy Cauliflower and this was to make Hamburger Buns! Yes! Hamburger Buns made from Cauliflower. Now, these are not Buns for people who want gluten-free bread products as there is definitely wheat flour in these buns.
Here is the procedure for making the Buns! (Or go to recipes (bread) for more concise directions.
- I had approximately 1 cup of Cheesy Cauliflower segments left over which I pulverized in the Food Processor.
- I added 1 cup of warm water to the pulverized Cheesy Cauliflower along with 1 tablespoon of Active Dry Yeast and 1 Tbsp. of Sugar.
- Next I added 2 cups All-Purpose Flour to the mixture and ran the processor just long enough to mix the ingredients together.
- Once the foregoing ingredients were well-blended I changed the chopping blade to the dough blade and added more Flour to the mixture as needed. I ended up adding an additional 2 cups of flour so that there 4 cups used altogether.
- I ran all the ingredients together for one minute and then transferred the dough to a greased and floured bowl and covered it with plastic wrap.
- Once the Dough had doubled in size (approximately 1 hour depending on the warmth of the room) I punched the Dough down and formed it into buns.
- I shaped the buns two different ways:
- a. I rolled out the Dough and cut circle with a large round cutter.
- b. I then kneaded the scraps together and divided them into segments which I rolled into balls and then flattened them.
- c. The second method yielded small buns which would be ideal for children or those with small appetites.. For those with large appetites, the first method would be more appropriate.
- The shaped buns were placed on greased baking sheets which had been sprinkled with cornmeal and then covered. Once the buns had risen to double their size, I placed them in a cold oven and turned the heat on to 375 degrees. Placing the buns in a cold oven gives them a little more raising time and gives a lighter product.
- Baking time was approximately 20 minutes or until they are nicely browned on top and on the bottom as well. You can lift one up with a metal spatula to check the bottom.
We used the buns for Burgers and had quite a few leftover for other sandwiches as well. We used the larger buns for Steak and Mushroom Sandwiches the following night. Nope – not leftover Steak although there was some leftover from this dinner for lunch the following day.
I never make New Years Resolutions because I am not prone to keeping them. However, I do make lists of things to do. I am more likely to follow through on my lists than on any resolutions I may make. You may ask, ‘What is the difference?’ Well, a Resolution needs to be kept and if you don’t keep it you don’t feel very good about yourself. However, if you make a list and half the items on the list get done, you will feel that you have accomplished something.
So, here is #1 on My List of Things To Do. Use up the Odds and Ends (Large and Small) of food that may be in my Refrigerator, Freezer or even in the cabinets. Having raised 5 Sons, I have found it hard to cook only for 2 people – even though it has been many years since my Sons have grown and left home. So, sometimes I have more than I need and need to use up what I have left. Since I am not a great fan of leftovers, I usually find ways to turn the leftovers into new dishes. (Sort of like the TV Show ‘Chopped’. However, I have been doing this way before Chopped became a show.
The first time I can remember that I started turning leftovers into new dishes was when I got my first blender – actually I still have it. I got that blender back in the days when they were still being made to last and last it has. I remember that I turned leftover gravy into soup. Now, fast-forward to this year – 2020. I have actually turned several items in the freezer into new dishes.
#1 – A Pork Tenderloin into an Asian Stir-Fry. Where I purchase Pork Loins they are sold in packages of two. I actually cooked both at the same time because a couple of my former students came over for a cooking session. We made Chinese Dumplings and Pork Bao. We had a variety of items so we did not use both Pork Loins so I put the leftover one in the freezer. (This was the weekend before Thanksgiving) Last week, I removed the Pork Loin from the freezer, cut it up into bite-sized pieces and stir fried it with Shitake Mushrooms, thinly sliced Carrots, diced Onions, Cabbage and minced Cilantro. The dish took very little seasoning as the Pork Tenderloin had previously been marinated in a Soy Based Marinade. This dish was served with Jasmine Rice (which is an aromatic soft grain rice grown in Thailand). So, this was a multi-cultural dish incorporating the tastes of Japan, China and Thailand. Very tasty, easy to make and used up the Pork Tenderloin and Vegetables still lingering in my refrigerator.
For a recipe for this Stir-Fry go to http://www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/dinner/pork-tenderloin-stir-fry/
Just keep in mind that all the ingredients are interchangeable and you can use whatever you have in your refrigerator.
One way to use up some of your Apples (if you have too many) is to make Apple Kuchen. Kuchen is a great breakfast item or dressed up with whipped cream or Ice Cream, it makes a great dessert for any meal. Kuchen is simple to make and delicious to eat. You will find the recipe by using the link above. Just click on Apple Kuchen and you will be taken to the recipe. Continue here and you will see some step by step photos to help you with your baking.
The Dough is simple to make and can easily be made by hand in a medium-size mixing bowl. When making the Kuchen divide the Dough in half and either roll out half (on floured surface – as the recipe says) or just press half the Dough into your greased baking dish. (8 x 8 or 9 x 9 is best)
Peel and slice your Apples (don’t worry if they start to turn a little brown – this will disappear when baked)
You can either toss the Apples with the Cinnamon and Sugar in a separate bowl or just arrange the Apples on the Dough and then sprinkle with the Cinnamon and Sugar. Either way will work.
Cinnamon and Sugar Added
Next, either roll out the remaining Dough or just scoop dabs and place on top of the Apples. ( didn’t have quite enough dough to roll out so I scooped the Dough with a #60 Scoop or you can just used a spoon) I lightly pressed the dabs of dough onto the Apples. This method worked quite fine.
Bake for the time stated in the recipe at 350 degrees. Kuchen is best served warm and is quite good with Vanilla Sauce as stated in the recipe. I reheated the Kuchen the next morning with some Cheddar on top and we ate it for breakfast. Kuchen can also be served with whipped Cream and/or Vanilla Ice Cream.
Either way you serve it, it will be delicious!