Thursday, September 14, 2017

Acid Trip and Eggs with Vinegar #AbramsDinnerParty

I'm participating in the Abrams Dinner Party, where I get cookbooks (and a little swag) from the publisher. Since I'm a bit of a cookbook hoarder, this is great for me.

Once of the books I got was Acid Trip, which is all about vinegar.

I adore tart foods, so a book about vinegar is right up my alley. I mean, I've even made my own vinegar from wine. There's a jar of it in the pantry right now.

When I first got this book, I bookmarked a whole bunch of recipes to try:

  • Fried Egg with a Spoonful of Vinegar
  • Beurre Noisette Dressing
  • Brown Butter Balsamic Mushrooms with Hazeluts and Sage
  • Seasonal Tomatoes with Raspberry Vinegar
  • Vinegar Pie

Out of that list, I've made a few similar dishes, and wanted to revisit them. In particular, the egg with vinegar was calling to me. I'd made a similar dish, but used red wine vinegar. The flavor was lovely, but the look was ... not great.

The recipe in this book calls for white wine vinegar, which makes a whole lot more sense in terms of presentation. So I just had to do it. Breakfast for dinner just happens to be one of my favorite things ever.

If this sound a little weird, it's really not. The acid helps to cut the richness of the egg yolk, and adds another dimension of flavor. I love eating tomatoes with eggs, but never thought about why - it's that hit of acid. In this case, you can add that acid without needing to have fresh tomatoes on hand.

Yum!

I think the vinegar pie is next on my list. How about you?

Fried Egg with a Spoonful of Vinegar
Adapted from Acid Trip by Michael Harlan Turkell

1 tablespoon butter
1 egg
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Chopped herbs

Fry an egg they way you like it, with ample butter. (They suggested cooking on medium-high until the edges are a little brown. I opted for a more gently-cooked basted egg, instead.)

Place the egg on a warm plate and season with salt and pepper.

While the pan is still hot, add the white wine vinegar and allow to reduce by half.

Spoon the reduced vinegar over the egg and garnish with chopped herbs. (They suggested parsley or tarragon, but the only fresh herbs I had on hand were cilantro and chives. I opted for chives.)

Serve immediately. I suggest some toast on the side. Yum.

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party. Look for more posts with the hashtags #AcidTrip and #VinegarCookbook.
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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Italian Prune Plum Jam with a Hint of Cinnamon

I adore Italian Prune Plums. I guess some people use them for making prunes, but I decided to make some jam. Because you can never go wrong with plum jam.

My first encounter with Italian Prune Plums was when I lived in Chicago and my neighbor has a tree. Some years, there was no fruit at all. Some years, there were a few plums here and there. And some years, that tree was so full of fruit that the branches would bend until they were nearly touching the ground.

Those years, my neighbors would hand me a paper shopping bag, half full of fruit. And I'd be eating plums every day. I'd never had plums like that before. They were tasty and tart when they were just barely getting soft, and they got sweeter as they got softer.

They were greenish yellow inside with a very dark purple outside. The interior would go from green to a less green color that looked like it wanted to be a barely peachy yellow. When they're cooked, the inside turns bright red.

Back in Chicago, it never dawned on me to make jam, but now I like the idea of having a few jars of homemade jam on hand for slathering on English muffins. This particular jam is also good for swirling into yogurt or on top of ice cream.

I adapted this from a recipe on the Northwest Cherry Growers site. It was described as a plum butter, which is typically thicker than a jam - but it depends on how long you cook it to reduce it.

That's what's great about a recipe like this - you can cook it less for something that's a little looser, or cook it more to get a super-thick fruit butter. I let mine cook until it was more jam-like than butter-like. I also made it a little less sweet than the original,and fiddled with the spices a bit.

If you're going to can the jam for room temperature storage, I suggest using the original recipe - you really don't want to mess with sugar ratios when canning. But my version is great for refrigerator storage or for freezing.

Plum Jam with a Hint of Cinnamon
Adapted from a recipe on Northwest Cherry Growers site, courtesy of Sugarcrafter.net
Make two pint jars (or four half-pints)

2 pounds of plums, halved and pitted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups granulated sugar

Run the plums through your food processor or blender until the mixture is as smooth as you can get it. In a large sauce pan, combine plums, cinnamon, salt, lemon juice, and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.

Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and holds its shape on a spoon (or it reaches the consistency you like.) The time this takes depends on several factors, including how hard you're simmering, the shape of the pot, and how much moisture there was in your plums. If you cook at a spunkier boil, you'll need to watch more carefully and stir often to make sure the jam doesn't stick and burn. If you opt for a very slow simmer, it will take a lot more time but require much less attention.

Taste and adjust sugar, lemon, and cinnamon to suit your taste, and cook for another minute or two. If the jam seems chunky or bits of skin are visible and you'd prefer them to disappear completely, you can give this another run through your blender or food processor. Make sure to exercise proper caution for blending hot foods in your particular machine.

Transfer the jam to containers for refrigerator storage or freezing.


For the original recipe, including canning instructions, check out Northwest Cherry Growers' site.
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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Wacky Cupcakes #OXOgoodcookies

The Cookies for Kids' Cancer campaign sponsored by OXO is one of my favorite feel-good things every year. Bloggers who participate get a few free products from OXO, but the money goes to charity. How awesome is that?

Maybe you've heard of Wacky Cake. I have a vague memory of bringing home a copy of the recipe and making it at home, which must have been a huge event since my mom never baked anything.

The major selling point that must have convinced my mom to let me make the cake was that it didn't require eggs, a mixing bowl, or a blender. The recipe was mixed by hand and baked in the same pan.

The problem with that recipe was that it was hard to mix the ingredients evenly in a cake pan, without scraping off the butter or shortening that was greasing the pan.

I've seen a lot of wacky cake recipes since then, but I hadn't given it much thought until I ran into yet another recipe in a community cookbook. And then I thought ... hmmm ... I wonder if this would work as cupcakes.

While I was thinking, I also decided to cut the recipe in half, and I made a few other little adjustments as well. Because, what the heck. Might as well have some fun, right?

Wacky cake is normally left unfrosted - maybe just dusted with powdered sugar. But I decided the cupcakes needed frosting, so I made a simple chocolate ganache and used the cool decorating tool that OXO provided to swirl the ganache on top of the cupcakes.

So pretty! So easy! Not messy!

They also sent me a really nice 12-cup muffin pan - looks pretty with a gold-colored finish, right? And they sent silicone baking cups as well. The muffin cups are pure genius, since they have little "ears" on two sides that makes it really easy to get the cupcakes out of the pan.

Wacky Cupcakes
Adapted from Favorite Recipes from Quilters by Louise Stoltzfus

See the "ears" on the muffin cups? Really handy!
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ounces vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup cold water

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place cupcake liners in 12 wells of a muffin pan.

Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat with a hand mixer at high speed until well blended, about two or three minutes.

Divide the batter evenly between the cups - they should be about 3/4 full.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 18-20 minutes, or until the top of the cupcakes spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the pan from the oven and remove transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting. Here's where those little ears on the cupcake cups really came in handy!

When the cupcakes are fully cooled, frost as desired. Or, if you want to stay true to the original wacky recipe, just dust them with a little powdered sugar.

About the frosting:

For my frosting, I used a basic ganache with 6 ounces of cream, heated to boiling, poured over 6 ounces of semisweet chocolate, broken into chunks.

At this point, you have a ganache that you can pour onto a cake to make a smooth layer of chocolate. But that's not what I wanted.

After the mixture was completely smooth and starting to cool off a bit, I started beating it with my hand mixer until it was thick and fluffy and the color had lightened a bit.

I piped the frosting on the cupcakes. YUM.

NOTE: after seeing someone else post a vegan chocolate dessert recipe, I realized that the cake part of this recipe is vegan. Not that it's trying to be, it just is. It was thought to have been first developed during WWII, when dairy and eggs were rationed. That's why it uses oil. And it works really, really well.

The frosting I made included dairy, so that's not vegan, but that's easy to swap for something else, like a faux-buttercream made with either vegetable oil or a non-dairy butter substitute. Or ganache made using a non-dairy cream (although I've never tried that). Or whatever vegan frosting or icing you like.

OXO sent along some info about the products they sent. Here's what they had to say:


Muffin Pan
The Non-Stick Pro Muffin Pan features a unique micro-textured pattern that ensures even baking and adds structural rigidity. It's made with a ceramic-reinforced, two-layer, commercial-grade coating that provides ultimate non-stick release and is scratch-, stain-, corrosion- and abrasion-resistant.

Baking Cups
https://www.oxo.com/products/cooking-baking/baking-tools/silicone-baking-cups-12-pack
The BPA-free Baking Cups have handy tabs to help remove them from muffin tins without making a thumbprint, and the inside of each Cup is smooth and non-stick to release your treat easily. With a fill line, your cupcakes will be consistent every time.

Baker's Decorating Tool
Our easy-to-use, easy-to-fill Tool is designed to give you complete control while decorating. The unique trigger provides a smooth stream of icing for clean lines, and the comfortable handles ensure a steady grip and protect icing from warm hands.
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