September 24, 2008

Corn Fritters

Mrs Redboots, 23rd September 2008: comment to “Honey Doughnuts”

My mother used to make corn fritters, but she shallow-fried hers. I was debating trying to make them the other day. I think this was the recipe she used (my apologies for the measurements being in old money, but it’s a very old cookery book!):

4 oz plain flour (c 120 g)
1 egg
1/4 pint milk (N.B. UK pint – 5 fl oz or 150 ml, not US)
11 oz tin creamed sweet corn (I’m almost sure my mother used ordinary sweetcorn)
Salt and black pepper

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl, make a well in the centre and add the egg and milk. Using a wooden spoon, mix from the centre, gradually drawing in the flour from around the sides of the bowl. Beat to make a smooth batter. Stir in the sweet corn and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Heat about 2 oz (50 g) butter and 1 tbs (15 ml) olive or corn oil in a frying -pan. When hot, add tablespoons of the corn fritter batter, cook until golden brown on the underside, then turn each fritter and fry on the other side. Fry the fritters a few at a time – they take 1-2 minutes to cook; keep the fritters warm while frying the next batch.

Mrs Redboots added (24th September 2008):

Just to add that as you can’t digest milk, you could always make the batter with beer, instead. Beer batter is a Very Fine Thing Indeed.

Honey Ricebubble Slice – a traditional treat for Kiwi kids

bluerose, 22nd September 2008, comment to Honey Doughnuts

125g butter
half a cup of sugar
2 TBSP honey
4 cups rice bubbles (popped rice breakfast cereal that is just plain – no coatings or flavouring)

Grease a swiss roll tin and have a large bowl with ricebubbles in it all ready

Mix up honey and sugar and butter into a pot with a solid base and melt – simmer as if making toffee (which you kindof are) for about 5 min – depending on how crunchy you like it, somewhere between soft ball and hard ball stage

OK this bit you have to work REALLY quickly as it will set in the bowl. Pour honey toffee mix over ricebubbles, mix thru as well and as fast as you can and pour into greased tin and push down til its about an inch or so thick and firm together and leave to set.

Cut into squares to serve!

Honey Cake

Tylik 21st September 2008, comment to “Honey Doughnuts”

+ 1/2 cup honey
+ 1 egg, beaten
+ 1/4 cup butter, softened
+ 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
+ 1 teaspoon baking powder
+ 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
+ 1/4 teaspoon salt
+ 1 cup hot water
+ Flavoring, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together honey and butter. Mix in egg. Slowly mix in dry ingredients, and then bit by bit mix in the hot water until you have a smooth batter. Add flavoring if you wish. (I usually use fiori di sicilia, which is vanilla and citrus – a bit of vanilla extract and lemon zest would probably do nicely. A splash of rosewater or a pinch of cinnamon would also work.)

Pour into a loaf pan, or an eight-inch cake pan, cupcake pans, or what have you. Bake for about half an hour, or until the top is firm when tapped lightly.

(Okay, so this is pasted in from another article – but it’s one I wrote, if some time ago.)

Honey Glazed Doughnuts

Robin: Honey Doughnuts, September 21st, 2008

I’ve had several requests for honey recipes in honour of CHALICE and one person made the error of saying she was longing for something ‘glazed’ with honey.  She probably meant ham or ribs or something.  My mind, which had been peacefully mulling over honey cookies and honey apple sorbet, took a sudden sideways leap like a horse shying, and fetched up at Honey Glazed Doughnuts.

A small heap of yeast (oh, say the size of a quarter, or a 10-p piece) in the centre of the palm of your hand, or about half a two-bread-loaf packet

¾ c warm water

2T mild-tasting oil (sunflower is good)

½ c honey

1 well-beaten egg

Pinch salt

Dissolve yeast in water with a few drops of honey.  Let sit till it foams:  a few minutes.  Then add the rest of the honey and the egg and the salt, and stir till homogenous.  Add

4 ½ – 5 c approximately, flour:  I recommend half white and half wholewheat/meal†††, and maybe subtract about ¼ c and use a little barley flour, which is faintly sweet and nutty

And some spices.  These are highly individual.  My basic is:

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves

Sometimes I add:

¼ tsp cardamom

Sometimes I add:

1 tsp vanilla, and cut back on the spices, use only cinnamon (in which case 1T), or only cinnamon and ginger, or only cinnamon and cloves

Sometimes I add currants (raisins are too big):  about ½ c.  And maybe some grated orange peel:  like one orange worth.

Stir the dry into the wet.  It should be just about handle-able, but prepare to flour your hands.  It doesn’t require a lot of kneading–it rises three times–so widge it together and give it a few whacks, then roll it up and put it in an oiled bowl.‡  Turn it round so all of it gets oily.  Cover it, put it in a warm place and let it rise about an hour.

Punch down, and knead briefly, a minute or two.  Oil again, and let it rise about half an hour.

It will be sticky.  If you’re used to making ordinary bread, it’ll be stickier than that.  It shouldn’t be gooey however, and it should be coherent.  Roll out on a floured surface with a lot of flour on your rolling pin..  Cut with (floured) doughnut cutter (or you can make one up with a big and a little round cookie cutters).  Makes about a dozen (plus holes and scraps).

Let rise another 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat your oil to 375°.

Transfer your nascent doughnuts to hot oil on a metal spatula.  Fry for 1-1 ½ minutes, turn and cook other side about 1 ½ minutes.  Cook 2 or 3 doughnuts at a time and keep an eye on the temperature.  If it gets too low your doughnuts will be horribly stodgy and if it gets too high they won’t cook through before they get too brown.  (I tend to do the holes and scraps together by themselves at the end:  they’re easier to control that way.  Holes, you know, roll.)

Drain on paper towels on racks.

Prepare honey glaze:

1 c honey

½ c water

1 tsp lemon juice or a few drops lemon essence

Bring to boil, let boil briefly (watch like a terrier at a rathole. Honey burns really easily), remove from heat.  Quickly dip doughnuts in hot syrup.  Put dipped doughnuts on parchment paper till the glaze cools and sets.  Mind you, they’ll still be sticky.  But that’s what you want in a glazed doughnut, isn’t it?

* * *

††† I’ve told you about spelt, haven’t I?  Older form of wheat, easier to digest?  You can now get it in both white and whole grain.

‡ You’re usually told to put it in a clean oiled bowl.  I hastily rub out the one I’ve been using, and oil it.  Conservation of energy.


AJLR, 5 Sept 08, comment to ‘It’s always a good day for chocolate’

The quantities below are what I use for 2 hungry people for whom the Tabbouleh will be the main carb/veg elements in a main meal. However, as I expect most people know, this dish can be made with a varying ratio of bulgar wheat to herbs to oil/lemon juice, so is infinitely adjustable to your own taste/hunger/occasion.

Bulgar wheat, to the 6oz level in a measuring jug
Juice from 2 medium lemons

6 good sized spring onions (scallions) or half a medium red onion if spring onions not available
4 T good olive oil (extra virgin for preference)

Large bunch of fresh washed mint (about 2 oz of leaves)
Small(er) bunch of washed green coriander or parsley (about 1 oz of leaves/some stalk)

Crispy lettuce (2 small or 1 large, Cos or similar)

Rinse the bulgar wheat in a sieve under cold running water, drain quickly and put back in the jug. Add the same volume of cold water as the wheat comes to and leave to soak at least 30 minutes. Wash and finely slice the onions (the white part and an inch or so of the green).

After the wheat has finished soaking it should have at least doubled in volume. Drain wheat thoroughly and empty into the serving bowl to be used. Mix in the oil, lemon juice and sliced onions and leave in a cool place for things to soak up flavour and liquid for at least 30 minutes.

Separate out the washed and dried lettuce leaves, cutting in half horizontally those more than about 4 – 5 inches long (so they can be used as manageable scoops to eat the tabbouleh). Chop herbs (by now reasonably dry) together, fairly finely (do not use a food processor – little flecks are needed, not mush). The great mound of unchopped leaves will go down to about two joined/cupped handfuls. Add to bowl containing bulgar wheat and mix well in. Taste to check lemon/oil balance is OK and then serve in a mound, with lettuce leaves round to use as scoops/wraps.

I make this without any salt as I find the lemon juice and herbs are enough seasoning. On days that feel a bit too chily for a salad I serve it alongside pork fillet, either roasted and sliced or cut into medallions and lightly coated in seasoned flour then fried.

I shall be interested to see variations on this recipe – which is adapted from the one in Claudia Roden’s wonderful ‘New Book of Middle Eastern Cookery’.

Chocolate Fudge Sauce

Merry, 5 Sept 08, comment to ‘It’s always a good day for chocolate’

18 oz. package unsweetened baking chocolate

1/2 c. butter

2 c. sugar

1 c. milk (any kind, even soy)

1 t. vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1. Melt chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring constantly
2. Add sugar and stir to dissolve
3. Add milk and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes
4. Add vanilla & salt
5. Cover & chill (this is critical, don’t ask me why)

According to the recipe this keeps up to 2 weeks. I’m not sure we’ve ever tested that :). And it seriously does not taste nearly so good until it’s been chilled and reheated. In fact the more times it’s reheated the better it tastes.

I personally like to cut out about a half cup of sugar, but I like my chocolate very very dark.

And yes, I’m the crazy one who says you can bake with soy milk. Admittedly the expensive, chilled, soy milk that doesn’t live forever, but I honestly can’t taste soy in this, and neither has anyone I’ve ever served it to.

We eat this on ice cream (of course), cake (soft crumbly ones work best), cream puffs, and straight by the spoonful :).


Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies

Creek, 5 Sept 08, comment to ‘It’s always a good day for chocolate’

2 cups flour

1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa (if you don’t have Dutch processed cocoa, regular cocoa works just fine)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
10 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. instant coffee or espresso
2 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

Preheat oven to 350

Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Cream butter and sugars till smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Stir in the coffee and vanilla until well-blended. Stir in the melted chocolate, scraping the sides of the bowl and mixing well. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 35-45 minutes. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll dough into small balls and place 2″ apart on the pan. Bake 8-10 minutes at 350. Centers will still be soft. Cool on pans for 10 minutes before transferring to racks to cool.

Kritikos Dakos

Susan from Athens: comment in “Horses and Mud” on 09/09/08

This is something that is also known in Greece as koukouvagia (which means owl) for reasons that remain unknown to me. It is a Cretan dish with variations arising throughout the Aegean Islands because it is a poor man’s food. In its basic form it consists of a paximadi – a common form of preserving bread in a twice-baked rusk, which can be made with any kind of sourdough bread: wheat, corn or rye being the most common and are easy to find in Greece, but very difficult to find abroad. A quick google search gives me:

which at least provides a visual, although I don’t know the specific make.

So a Dakos is something between a salad, a sauce and a salsa which you pile on top of the paximadi, and top, if you so wish, with crumbled anthotyri, a fresh crumbly sheep’s milk whey cheese. Sometimes you see it topped with feta cheese but this is not authentic. (You can also top it with crumbly chevre cheeses, which is also not authentic, but very delicious).

The ingredients then vary but most varieties have tomato, red onion, garlic (lots of people omit this but I love it), olive oil and oregano. Quantities depending on the people eating and their appetites and whether this is a main meal or a side dish.

The main ingredient is tomatoes and it has to be very ripe tomatoes. Not sugary, mushy tomatoes, but the kind of tomato that spills its juices out all over, and if cut for a salad is sitting in its juices within a couple of minutes. These can be treated in two ways, depending on preference and the actual state of the tomato. If you can cut it, dice it into a medium dice. If you have a food processor you can trust not to mush, cut it into chunks and pulse quickly a couple of times. If it cannot be cut at all, slice in half and use the thickest grater you have to grate all but the skin into a bowl.
Depending on how you have treated the tomato, treat the onion and garlic: Chop or grate.
Mix together, pour olive oil on top, season with salt and pepper and rub some nice oregano over the whole.

Spoon the mixture over the paximadi (making sure the juices soak into the hard rusks) and crumble the cheese on top of that and/or add olives, the small tiny Cretan ones, that are the size of your smallest fingernail.

That is the basic dakos. There are variations. My latest variation, for the end of summer harvest tomatoes we currently have, with quantities for two people as an evening salad (which I have accompanied by a hard boiled egg or some cold cuts or leftover ratatouille) is as follows:

2 large paximadia or six bite-size ones
1 large very ripe tomato
6 tart cherry tomatoes
½ a small red onion
1 clove of garlic
4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil or more
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon sweet smoked Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon thyme

Dice the onion and finely chop the garlic (don’t use a garlic press – the taste is different). Place into bowl, add the olive oil, salt and pepper and paprika and allow to marinate while you cut the tomato (and a bit longer if you can – I find Greek onions much milder than those in the UK and much more flavourful than those in the US. Marinating them takes a bit of the bite away). Dice the large tomato and cut each cherry tomato into sixths, cutting once in half and each half into thirds. The cherry tomatoes add a pit of texture.

Mix into the onion. Rub the oregano and thyme over the mixture and stir (rubbing the herbs makes sure there are no little tough bits but also helps release their essential oils). Let it sit for five minutes and then pour over bite-size paximadi portions (or if, like me, you’re lazy just dip the paximadi bits into your bowl). I am currently not using cheese, but you can.

Marinated Raw Courgette

Susan from Athens: comment in “Horses and Mud” on 9/9/08

1 courgette (zucchini), peeled and sliced into strips using a vegetable peeler
4 tablespoons of olive oil
zest and juice of one or two lemons
fresh thyme
handful of roasted (and I underline roasted) pine nuts.

Marinate the ribbons of courgette in the lemon juice for half an hour (or as long as it takes to prepare the rest of your meal, whichever comes first). Add the olive oil and sprinkle over with the roasted pine nuts and fresh thyme.

The crunch of the courgette and the sharpness of the lemon contrast beautifully with the buttery taste and texture of the roasted pine nuts.

White Chocolate Chunk Dark Chocolate Cookies

Robin, 04 September 2008, main post (“It’s always a good day for chocolate”)

White Chocolate Chunk Dark Chocolate Cookies*

¾ c oat flour  (if you can’t get this, whiz your rolled oats in the blender till fine.  You can simply substitute more ordinary flour, but that would be a pity)

1 ½ c all-purposes flour

½ c dry cocoa powder (proper real cocoa, not the stuff you just add water or milk to to make a cup of hot chocolate)

¾ c slightly salted butter

¾ c granulated sugar

½ c packed dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp REAL vanilla extract

¾ c roughly chopped macadamia nuts

1 generous c roughly chopped white chocolate (about 8 ounces)

Mix flours and cocoa.  Cream butter and sugars, beat in egg and vanilla.  Add flour mixture, then nuts and chocolate.  Mix well.  Drop-cookie them in little heaps on ungreased sheets. 375° about 5 minutes, maybe 7.  Let cool.  Eat, eat.

* * *

* Thus fanning the flames of the white chocolate debate.  The original recipe, from The Complete^ Cookie by Bluestein and Morrissey, suggests substituting dried sour cherries and pecans for the white chocolate.  I’m not a big fan of cherries and chocolate, but I did it once with dried apricots and it was lovely.  I keep meaning to try it with cranberries.  I have kind of a thing for cranberries.

The original recipe also wants you to put baking powder and baking soda in.  I think this is a waste of a good dense chocolate texture (that’s part of the reason you want the oat flour.  That and the nutty background accent).

^ Nonsense!