Thursday, July 30, 2009

Peach Cobbler

This is one of those ridiculous things mom just throws together. She just makes things up. Don't believe her. But definitely eat her deserts.

Fruit filling:

Fresh fruit, cut up
sugar for sprinkling, about 1/8 cup per piece of fruit

2 c all purpose flour
1/2 stick butter (1/4 c)
1/4 c sugar
milk to consistency (about 1/2 cup)
(for biscuits this means enough to make it doughy, but as you can (maybe) see from the picture, this recipe has enough milk to keep the dough moist)

*Cover bottom of 9x9x2 glass baking dish with fruit
*Sprinkle sugar evenly over top of fruit
*Mix dough materials with a fork
*Using the fork, spread dollops of dough over the fruit, spreading them so that the dollops touch
- this is an easy way to make a thick layer of dough over the top
of the fruit

**Bake at 350 degrees until the dough is golden brown
**Eat with cool whip! (okay, i haven't learned to make cool whip from scratch yet, so don't judge me)

Chicken Broth

Compliments of Jennifer the Great.

Richard and I tried making this down in Birmingham one time. It didn't go well. Come to find out it was probably just the lack of salt... whatever. Here it is.

- we used 4 leg quarters


Vegetables and Herbs

-fresh oregano

-2 huge chunks peeled garlic

-one peeled onion, halved

-a handful of celery sticks

-a handful carrots, washed and cut into 3-4 inch pieces

-a few bay leaves
(salt after cooking)

With the chicken in a pot, add enough water to cover the chicken legs, plus a couple inches
- the more you simmer the water down, the more concentrated the flavor will be, but make
sure to add enough in the beginning to cover the chicken
Add the veggies and herbs
- using large chunks like this makes it easier to strain them all out later and get your pure
broth, especially with fresh herbs instead of dried!
Bring to a boil and simmer on medium low for 1.5 or 2 hours
Fish out the chicken, vegetables and spices, add salt
- Pick the meat off the chicken to use in the soup later!
- Note: the cooked carrots are deeelicious...
Refrigerate the broth overnight
- you'll see the fat rise to the top and thicken this way, making it easier to clean off the top
Skim off the fat
You've got fresh chicken broth!!

NOTE: This broth isn't delicious by itself!! It is a base for soups, etc. and will make those more flavorful as you spice it (see: soup recipes) and add ingredients

Baklava. The secret: buttuh

1) Walnuts
2) Layers
3) Bake
4) Syrup

This Greek Baklava is the fruit of my first cooking lesson with Jennifer, my New-Yorker-turned-southerner, classically trained chef (cook?), and future business partner. She came across the recipe while catering with a Greek woman, and has improved it with... butter.

2 lbs phyllo
3 lbs ground walnuts and/or pecans
1 c sugar
4-ish tablespoons cinnamon (to taste)
3 lbs melted butter (we only used 1.5)

1 1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 c water
2 c honey
2 T vanilla
a few cinnamon sticks

1) Walnuts: combine ground nuts, sugar and cinnamon

2) Layers: coat baking dish with thin layer of butter and start layering:
~3 layers phyllo (with butter between each)
- 1 layer of nut mixture
Repeat, ending with phyllo on top

3) Bake on 300 for 1 1/2 hours

4) Syrup: make a 'simple syrup' by boiling sugar and water with cinnamon sticks
When this thickens, remove the cinnamon sticks, add the honey, and reduce a little more

When reduced pour over hot pastry (out of the oven)

Cut and serve!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Corn. easy.

Think corn on the cobb is something fancy? Mom figured out a secret: Two minutes in the microwave.
Just peel enough of the husk so that it looks like this, or if youve bought it without the husk wrap a damp papertowel around it, and microwave. Hold it under the faucet on cold and the silks come off extremely easily.

If you're adding ears, add minutes, but there's no need to add a whole two each. My mom eyeballs it; 5 ears - 8 minutes, 2 ears - 4 minutes, 3 ears - 5-6 minutes, etc.

Its done!!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pizza, the guiltless way

Thanks to Jordan for the dough inspiration!!

so there are three basic parts to this recipe; the dough, the sauce, and the toppings...

Dough: This is kind of like any bread recipe, except it matters less how long you rise it. It seems to be that you let it rise as little or much as you like depending on how thick you want the crust. I kind of went in the middle

Makes one 18 inch pizza:

3/4 c warm water

1/2 t brown sugar

1 spoonful yeast

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1/2 c whole wheat flour (I suggest King Arthur, as always)

1 1/2 c all purpose flour

3/4 t salt
fresh herbs

*Stir together first 3 ingredients until the water gets foamy

*Pour into second 2 ingredients and stir some more.

- this will be a brown watery mixture, yummy : /

*Sift all purpose flour and add the salt and herbs


At this point you have a bread dough, so you need to knead it, rise it, and make it into a pizza shape!

*Knead the dough on a floured surface until it starts feeling less sticky and less like a dense, elasticy mass. about 5-10 minutes?

* Rise the dough by covering it and setting it in a room temp to warm area for about 45 minutes

*Punch down the dough and rise for about 10 more minutes

** At this point you can freeze it for later if you want to make large amounts of dough, divide it and make smaller pizzas throughout the next week or two

*spray some cooking spray on a clean surface and place the dough on the surface, turning it once so its covered in oil.

*use your hands to work it out into the size pizza you want to make and place it on the pizza sheet/baking sheet
- my mom happens to have a round, 18 inch pizza pan that has holes around the bottom; this makes the bottom of the pizza crunchier


This was really thrown together, don't feel stuck to this recipe

8oz can tomato sauce

1 spoonful garlic paste

1 spoonful minced garlic
- or your favorite garlic varieties... garlic salt, powdered garlic...
1 t salt

1/4 - 1/2 c chopped onion

1-2 tomatoes, peeled and diced
- for a great 'how to' on peeling tomatoes, see this salsa recipe on youtube
chopped fresh herbs
- I used Basil and oregano from my mom's garden
Italian spices to taste

*MIX! and let sit a little for the flavors to mix
- you know how leftover stuff is better the next day?

whatever you want...

We used pepperoni, green pepper, chopped onion, Italian blend cheese, some cheddar cheese, and maybe something else I am forgetting... you've seen pizza menus - experiment!

**Assemble and bake at 400 degrees until it looks done! Ours went for about 17 minutes...

Caramel Popcorn


~ 1/4 c Corn kernels
pan with a lid

2 sticks butter
2 c light brown sugar
1/2 c white karo syrup

1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t vanilla extract
Large flat baking pans

*To pop the popcorn, put enough corn kernels on the bottom of the pan to almost cover the bottom, and add just enough oil to coat them all with oil and add some salt.
-to test, shake the pan and if all the kernels stop banging around, there is enough oil
*cover the pot!
-unless you want hot oil splattering you and your kitchen...

*heat on medium high
*when the oil gets hot enough you'll hear the first *ding* sound. This means your first kernel has popped.
*start shaking the pot (keeping it on the heat)! and keep popping it as more and more kernels pop. This keeps the popcorn on the bottom from burning
*when the kernels slow down, or when the popcorn starts pushing up the lid



*preheat oven to 250 degrees
*melt the butter, brown sugar and karo in a sauce pan and bring them to a boil

*let this boil for 5 minutes
*mix the salt, baking soda, and vanilla together
*after 5 minutes of boiling, add the vanilla mixture to the butter mixture
- at this point you will see it all turn lighter and start puffing up.
*after stirring these two together take them off the heat and pour them over the popcorn in large, flat pans.
*stir popcorn until coated with caramel and place in the oven

**leave the popcorn in the oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes
**When finished, let the popcorn air out and the caramel will become hard, giving it that caramel crunch!!

-if you want to add peanuts, add them for the last 15 minute period in the oven
-put the popcorn onto wax sheets straight out of the oven

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Gracie's Grilled Havarti

Luckily, when Jennifer and Grace gave me this recipe we happened to have a lot of the ingredients at home, either homemade or homegrown... but you could probably buy all of it. It is an absolutely delicious grilled cheese. Thanks Gracie!

Wholewheat bread, thickly sliced

Havarti cheese
Basil (one or two large freshly grown leaves)
butter for the pan
Tomato, sliced

*melt butter in the pan
*quickly add bread
*lightly spread mayo on the other side of the bread
*stack other ingredients
*close sandwich and cook to taste!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


... or strawberry biscuit cake? This is one of those simple things mom just throws together...

BISCUITS: (for a more full explanation see my mom's biscuit recipe and add sugar)
1 stick of butter
~ 4-5 c self rising flour
~ 1/2 c of milk
~ 1 tbs baking soda
~ 1/2c sugar

*Cut butter into flour
*Stir in baking soda and sugar
*Using a fork to stir, pour in milk about 1 tbs at a time until dough is sticky, but mixed
*Drop dough onto an unbuttered cookie sheet using a fork and your finger in 1/4 -1/2 cup sized lumps
*Bake at 425 degrees for 7-13 minutes, or until they start to brown
*After cooling, cut biscuits in half for assembly

My favorite part of this cake is when the strawberry/sugar juice soaks the biscuit...
~1 package (+/-) strawberries
~1 c sugar

*Slice strawberries into a bowl after washing and de-stemming
*Sprinkle sugar generously over the strawberries
*Cover bowl and let them sit at room temperature for a few hours
**A sugary juice will form that the strawberries will float in

To stay true to the blog title, here is how to make whipped cream. But I really love this with cool whip, my mom loves it with redi whip, and others with vanilla icecream... especially if you serve it while the biscuits are hot!
~ 1 small carton whipping cream (heavy cream should work, too)
~ 1/4 c white sugar

*Either in a mixer on the whipping setting, in a sealed mason jar, or in a bowl with a whisk, add sugar and cream
*Shake, stir, or WHIP THE CREAM!
*It will go from a liquid, to a froth, and suddenly to a whipped substance
*when its light and fluffy its ready!
*but DON'T KEEP GOING at this point, it will quickly separate into buttermilk and butter (in which case see my butter recipe)

Assemble and enjoy!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cinnamon Buns

Experimenting with bread this afternoon I tried a few varieties of bread decorating (for lack of a better word) and used the last little bit of dough to try cinnamon buns. They were great!

ROLLS: I made a normal bread recipe and cut off a handful of dough before shaping the bread to bake. (If you don't want to take the time to rise dough, my mom used to use pilsbury rolls bread from those cans that pop. Just roll them out and cover them with butter and cinnamon.)

**Shape the piece of dough into three/four pieces and shape them into 7-8 inch strips, about 1 inch wide.
**Rub these strips with butter, sprinkle them (generously) with cinnamon and sugar, and roll them up.
**I put them into a pan (I had a bread pan handy) that was sprayed with olive oil PAM and put them in to bake with all the other breads at 270, but made sure to place them so that they didnt unravel as they rose during baking.

**They will obviously be done sooner than other bread, the idea of sticky buns being that they are a little stickier inside... so keep an eye on them. When they start to turn brown theyre done! Mine stayed in for about 30 minutes

**For the glaze I basically made a tiny serving of my mom's cream cheese icing.
In a small bowl i whipped two spoonfuls of cream cheese with one of butter with a fork until it was smooth.
**To this I added a tablespoon or so of milk and a few drops of vanilla extract, beating with the fork.
**Once this was blended a poured in some confectioner's sugar, probably about half a cup, but its flexible.
**This is a little bit less creamy than the icing (simply because of proportions), which makes it a perfect glaze.

Once the cinnamon buns cool enough to hold a little glaze, brush them generously and enjoy!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Strawberry Jelly... you thought it couldnt be done

I do believe my mom stole this recipe from the sure gel package. In fact, im so sure, that ill tell you that if you want to make mango, grape, or any other fruit jelly it can tell you the right proportions.

Like her pickles, my mom prepares a huge batch of the pureed strawberries when they are in high season in the spring. She simply cleans and blends them in huge quantities, but freezes them in 1 pint (2 cup) bags and thaws one when we run out of jelly.

2 c pureed strawberries
4 c sugar

3/4 c water

1 package Sure Gel

*Mix pureed strawberries and sugar and let sit for 10 minutes
*In a small saucepan (this is one of those times a good saucepan is important) mix water and Sure Gel on high heat, STIRRING CONSTANTLY!
*Bring it to a boil and continue beating for 1 MIN

*Pour the gel mixture into the sugar puree and continue stirring for 3 MINs
*pour jelly into desired containers (small jars, tupperwear containers, whatev)
*let sit out overnight, for a day, whatever
*refrigerate and enjoy!

Put it on some homemade bread!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Toll House Butter Chocolate Pecan cookies

Okay... the whole chocolate or pecan thing is optional... pick which ones you want. or try heath drops!

*BEAT together in a mixer until creamy:
1c butter
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
1 t vanilla extract

*BEAT in 2 eggs

2c flour
(optional" 1/4 c oatmeal)
1 t baking soda
1 t salt

Many baking recipes have 'wet' and 'dry' parts that are added together right at the end. Like this one...

*AFTER beating eggs into the wet mixture, gradually add the dry mixture

*ADD whatever nuts (1 cup), chocolate chips (a whole 12 oz package of nestle toll house semi-sweet chocolate chips) or whatever you like, and blend in.

*PLACE tablespoon sized chunks of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet far enough apart so that they have room to spread as they cook and not touch

*BAKE at 375 degrees for 7-10 minutes on the 2nd rack, or until they start to brown

Makes about 30 palm sized cookies!

(Complete list of ingredients for the traditional recipe users:
1 c butter
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
2 c flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
nuts, chocolate chips and oatmeal as you like)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

mmm Caramel Sauce

This is kind of a cheater's version of caramel sauce because real
caramel is burned white sugar. This recipe just uses brown
sugar and Karo syrup to emulate the consistency and taste.

1 c brown sugar (about)
1/2 to 3/4 butter (1 stick +)
1/4 c + Karo syrup
salt to taste

*Put all in a sauce pan on low heat
this is one of those times a good sauce
pan makes a difference; a thicker
bottom is good

*Cook until the sugar dissolves, and it comes to a boil, but NO MORE!!
This part is really hard... If it is UNDER cooked it is grainy
because the sugar granules have not dissolved
If you
OVER cook it, it gets hard and grainy again

(different grainy... but neither is good)

So just stop as soon as when you scoop up some of
the sauce with a spoon and let it drip back into
the pot you cant seegranules, and
there is a slight boil

*You can reheat the sauce after the first time, but always add a little liquid; milk works well

Saturday Morning Biscuits

I don't know where my mom got this recipe, but it is a staple for family breakfasts. The recipe is very flexible because to write it down I watched my mom make it over and over again and tried to record what she was doing by muscle memory into a recipe form. Basically you just need flour and enough milk to make it sticky, but cutting in the butter makes them tasty...

These biscuits are PERFECT for Strawberry Shortcake if you just add sugar to the dough!

32 oz package of self rising flour
1 stick of salted butter (1/2 cup)
(I like to add 1/2 cup of sugar... I simply have a sweet tooth)

Note: If its not self rising flour your biscuits will be like small, flat bricks when you take them out of the oven

*'Cut' the butter into the flour
This is a fancy cooking term. Basically it means put the flour in a
bowl, but the flour on top, and use a fork or a cooking tool
especially for this purpose to cut up the butter into
smaller and smaller pieces until it just
kind of blends into the flour

Save a little flour for the shaping of the dough!!

*Pour in about 1/2 a cup of milk
Use just enough milk to make the dough sticky. For this reason the
amount of milk needed may vary. Pour slowly while
mixing with a metal spoon

*When the dough is sticky spoon out palm sized balls of dough into a small bowl of flour and flip
*When the biscuit is coated with flour (meaning its no longer sticky) and use your hands to shape them into flat, round biscuits
*Put the biscuits on the baking tray so that their sides are touching as much as possible
*Bake at 425 degrees for about 13 minutes, or until golden brown

My dad likes it best with homemade strawberry jelly... :)


There are a million recipes for this on the internet. One of my favorite descriptions of the process is this. BUT instead of mixing it with a mixer, I prefer to just use a Mason Jar, you know, like you did when your kindergarten class made butter?:

Ingredients: okay, there's just one. Cream.
whipping cream, heavy cream, double cream, or
generally high fat content cream will work

You'll end up with about half the amount of cream you use as butter, the other half as buttermilk. See pic.

*Pour cream into a mason jar *Add a few pinches of salt and seal tightly. *Shake, shake shake shake...

The cream will start as a liquid, then turn into whipped
cream and feel like it wont shake anymore. But keep
shaking and all the sudden the liquid will clump
and the previously foggy glass will be clear
and there will be a curdled looking
fluid in the bottom.

Keep shaking and in just a few more minutes you will suddenly
notice that there is a clump of butter sitting in some
milk in your jar; this is buttermilk.

*Pour out the buttermilk (use it to make sour cream or cheese!!!) *Rinse rinse the butter
If you don't get out the remaining small amounts
of buttermilk in the butter, the buttermilk
will make the butter go 'rancid'
within the day.

SO, put COLD water (warm water is obviously not good for butter... you'd think i wouldn't have used it when I first made this...) in the jar and shake it some more, then pour out the water.

Repeat until the water is clear.

*Work the butter with a fork and get as much of the liquid out.
I don't really know what this does, exactly, but I put in a couple icecubes while I did it and I could see the butter starting to look cleaner and just plain more like butter as i did it.

**Some recipes say to use a cheese cloth to strain out the remaining liquid, others to shape it with silverware etc.. I just put it in the fridge

Put it on some toasted homemade bread!!!

Mom's Amazing Cream Cheese Icing

This icing is the taste of my childhood... its heaven on a cake. or between two cookie. or pretty much anything I could think of. This is one of those recipes that everyone asked for when my mom would make a cake for class or on birthdays. and it takes like two minutes...

1 lb box of confectioners sugar (453 grams)
1 stick of salted butter (4 oz or 113 grams)
At least 3 oz of cream cheese
- dont try reduced fat cheese... it doesn't work...
a few table spoons of milk, to consistency
1 tbs vanilla extract
optional: and food covering

**beat cream cheese and butter in a mixer until they're creamy, using a spatula to
**slowly add sugar and vanilla extract
**Add one or two tablespoons of milk until it is spreading consistency

Wait until the cake cools to put on the icing or
the icing will melt and slide off the cake

TO SPREAD: use a spoon or spatula to put dollops of icing around the top of the cake, then use the spatula to connect them. spreading this way makes the layer of icing thick enough that it doesnt start pulling the top of the cake off... if you've tried icing a cake with too little icing you know what I'm talking about...

The original option is chocolate... just add 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of cocoa powderdepending on how dark you want it
For an orange icing add the zest of one orange and use orange juice instead of milk
For spice cakes (or similar varieties) add nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice (mom says some ground cloves, but im doubtful) and use KAHLUA instead of milk... mmm.
**(for easy spice cake just add these same ingredients to yellow box cake)

Bread Bread Bread

We were standing outside our turkish class during one of our hourly breaks, bathed in cigarette smoke rising from the crowd of (mostly) European students. My German and Danish friends were looking at me like I was dumb. 'Of course you can make homemade bread. its so easy.'

Tina had casually said that she made some bread the night before while waiting for her fiance to get home (jobs in Istanbul can be incredibly demanding...) Kasper said he used to make it in college to save money. I thought it was a holiday treat. my god, it takes a whole day!

When I asked for the recipe Kasper, in his usual 'of course' attitute, said its just enough flour and water so its the right amount sticky plus some yeast. Tina, thankfully, is more thorough and sent me her recipe over facebook.

Here's the beautiful part; its a one-loaf recipe. so it takes ten minutes to mix, a few to knead, 45 minutes to rise (repeat) and bake it for a little more. On my current jet-lagged 6:30am wake-up schedule, its ready by the time mom makes coffee!!!

Much love to Tina for the recipe!!!, and Sezen's mom (who will probably never know this exists) for teaching the the turkish version! (Turkish in parenthesis when I can :) )

500g flour (un)
- I use about 4c unbleached flour, and 1 c whole wheat flour, all sifted
- King Arthur brand is best! and 100% employee owned...
2 tsp yeast (maya)
1.5 large cup of warm water
1 tsp salt (tuz)
1 tsp sugar (sheker)
3 tbs olive oil (zeytin yagi)

and some extra flour for kneading
note: if you have a mixer with the right attachments you dont need to knead because it will do it for you. just add a little flour to the top before you let it rise

*mix flour and salt
(im not sure sifting the flour helps, but all my bread books use it as a standard)
*dissolve yeast in warm water and add sugar
- stir in the yeast until it forms a thick, frothy look on the top
*put a well in the dry mixture and pour oil around the sides of it (not in the well)
*pour the wet mixture in the well and stir it all together
*when it becomes one slightly sticky mass clean off some counter space and sprinkle generous flour on the surface.
*dump the dough onto the counter and knead the dough for 5-10 minutes
(the air in bread is created by the living yeast which creates gas. Kneading the dough activates the stretchy (gluten) properties of the flour so that it can hold these bas bubbles in, making the bread fluffy)
*Let rise for about 45 minutes
A warm, draft free place is best for rising. I found
that an oven works best (NOT turned on). Cover the dough with
a cloth first. The Turkish woman who taught me put it
in the sun, but I thought that was maybe too hot,
especially considering we were on the
Mediterranian in summer...

*Punch the dough down and shape.
Can make small loafs, one big loaf... whatever. But
make sure to watch that the baking time
matches the shape you make

(ie: if its smaller loafs, shorter baking time, etc.)

*Put in the oven at 130 degrees for 10 minutes
My oven only goes down to 170...
*Wet the top of the loaf
*Set oven to 230 degrees and bake for about 45 minutes

The time depends on the amount of whole wheat you used, what shape/thickness your loaves have, etc., so
watchit as it bakes!!!
If you want a softer crust, brush the top with something oily (shortening, butter, whatever) and cover it for a while. If you want a crispy crust just let it air cool.
*To give it a crispier finish, up the oven to 340 degrees and leave it for another 20-30 minutes.

Enjoy it with some home made butter on mom's porch!!!