Sunday, October 26, 2008

Grandma's Festive Fruit Cake

(This is part of a series of Grandma Myrnie's recipes.)
(The Betty Crocker Date Bar Mix is no longer being sold. This is my plea to cyber-space: can anyone come up with a recipe to replicate this one?? Grandma was all about "taking help from the store" and this recipe is from the Date Bar mix box.)

1 pkg Betty Crocker Date Bar Mix
2/3 cup hot water
3 eggs
1/4 cup flour
3/4 t baking powder
2 T light molasses
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmet
1/4 t allspice
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup raisins
1 package (8 oz) candied whole cherries
Glaze (see below)

Heat oven to 325. Grease and flour 6 cup ring mold. In large bowl, stir together date filling from date bar mix and water. Mix in crumbly mix, eggs, flour, baking powder, molasses, and spices thoroughly. Fold in nuts, raisins and cherries. Spoon into mold. Bake about 1 hour or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool thoroughly. Wrap and refrigerate. Before serving, drizzle with Glaze and, if desired, decorate with candied cherries.

Blend 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, 1 T water and 1/2 drops green food colour.

Note: Bake 1 hour 20 minutes if using 9x5x3 loaf pan.

Grandma's Chicken Enchiladas

(Part of a series of Grandma Myrnie's recipes. Please see either Aunt LoLo's blog or I, Wonder Woman's blog for more details on who Grandma Myrnie is.)

(These are the chicken enchiladas I requested as my "Last Supper" before I left the comforts of home, family and country and took myself to China to serve as a missionary for 18 months. This was paired with a large bowl of bagged salad, topped with tiny broccoli and cauliflower florets and mounds of defrosted rock shrimp.)

Mix together in a large bowl: 4 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped; 1 cup onion chopped; 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated; 8-10 sliced mushrooms.

Mix together: 2 cups sour cream; 1 can cream of chicken soup; 1 can diced green chiles, drained; 1/2 tsp hot sauce.

Add 1/4 cup sauce to the chicken mixture.

Grease large baking dish, add a little sauce to the bottom of the dish. Fill tortillas with filling and roll. Place in dish, seam side down. Pour remaining sauce over tortillas and cover with cheese. Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes. Great to make ahead for a party.

Serves 10.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

White N' Wheat Bread

This is our every-day bread recipe. Since a loaf pan is small, it makes small sandwiches but the wheat is so filling that it's OK! The whole process takes me about 6 hours, but there are only about 10 minutes of hands-on time in the beginning, and then an occasional punch-down or roll-out. So if you have half an hour to watch this mix up in the Kitchen Aid in the morning, and plan on being around later for punching and rolling, you can have fresh bread!

I grind my own wheat flour, since we have so much of it from the cannery. I figure if I'm going to store the stuff, I should know how to use it for at least one or two recipes so we're not stuck eating boiled wheat! I use our Vita-Mix to grind the wheat berries- 2 cups of berries, grind for 1 minute and tap to get everything out that fell into the spigot, and then grind again for a minute. It's not a very "fine" flour, but it works well enough for bread.

I've posted a similar recipe before, for Simple Bread, but this recipe has my own changes. I added olive oil to make a smoother dough, and a softer/moister loaf. It's amazing what a glug of olive oil can do. I'm sure you could substitute almost any fat, but I like the olive oil with the nutty wheat. I've tried this with ALL wheat flour, and it turns out so dense that while everyone says it's good, I notice I'm the only one eating it. So, I scaled back to half and half white and wheat, and my whole family requests it- I figure ANY additional fiber is good, right?

The keys to making this really good:
  • Let it mix a long time before you add more flour, and add flour a little at a time so as much flour can have a long mixing time as possible. When the dough gets stiffer, it just doesn't get as much kneading action in the machine, so mix a lot while it's thin.
  • You want the dough as moist as possible. Add flour just until it's manageable.
  • Let this rise! You could get by with 1 rising in the bowl, but two makes such a nice loaf. And if you don't have time to bake, just keep punching it down when it's doubled. An overnight rise in the refrigerator is even better. You won't believe what a soft, smooth, dough you'll get.
  • Oil the dough well- I noticed that while my dough rises nicely in the bowl, the piece I gave my daughter to knead got left on the counter and NEVER rose. So make sure it has a thin coating all the way around. (I've never heard this anywhere else though, so maybe I'm just making things up...)

White N' Wheat Bread

2 cups very hot water
1 heaping Tablespoon yeast
2 heaping Tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil (a "glug")
3 cups all-purpose white flour
2-3 cups wheat flour

  • Put first three ingredients in mixer bowl, and let proof 10 minutes.
  • Add salt, olive oil, and 3 cups white flour. Mix with dough hook 10 minutes on low-medium speed. You'll see dough start to pull away from side of bowl in strings that snap.
  • Add wheat flour a half cup at a time, mixing a few minutes after each addition. Mix until dough completely pulls away from side of bowl. It should still be moist and slightly sticky when you turn off the mixer.
  • On a well-floured board, knead dough just until it stops trying to stick to your hands. Keep pulling in flour from the board edge to just dust the kneading space.
  • Drizzle mixer bowl with olive oil and use your hand to spread it around. Put the dough back in, and spin then flip and spin again to completely coat dough ball with oil. If it's not oiled, it won't rise properly!
  • Cover bowl with a thin, damp, towel. I use a spray bottle to mist it.
  • Let rise till doubled- when you poke your fingers in, the indent should stay and not spring back much at all. Punch down, and rise again.
  • Punch down a second time and cut in half. Using your knuckles, push a dough half into a rectangle the width of your loaf pan, and then roll tightly jelly-roll style. Pinch end to seal, and place seal-side down on the counter. Pull dough on ends to cover the edges, and seal on the bottom. Repeat with the other half of the dough, and put in loaf pans. Cover with damp towel again and let rise until it reaches the top of the pan. I like to set them next to the my oven vent and set the oven to preheat- the heat helps it rise quickly, and makes sure that my oven is good and hot when the bread gets in there.
  • Bake at 350 for 25 minutes- to test, tip a loaf out of its pan and tap the bottom. It should sound hollow.

MKMW - Moroccan Week

Oh, kids...there really is no excuse for me! Here it is, Saturday night...and no Moroccan Dish to show! A few hours ago I was proud of myself for cooking four meals in a row that my small family loved...but I forgot Morocco. (For the record, here's my success story. Friday: apple crisp, from Mom's recipe, using apples picked last week. Dessert counts! Oh, and for dinner we had Traditional Chinese - rice (duh!), eggs and stewed tomatoes, and a steamed fish with ginger and green onions. This morning, it was light, fluffy pancakes. Dinner was a good old fashioned pot of spaghetti with meat sauce, Lo Gung's choice.)

ANYWHOO...I didn't want to punish all of you because I forgot to cook Moroccan food. So, I would like to present a version of the recipe that I would have cooked...had I remembered to. (I'm afraid I can't share the original, since my Godfather**** gave me his personal recipe and did not give me leave to share it.)

This dish is best eaten over scented rice, with your fingers. Trust me.

Moroccan Chicken
(Adapted from

One whole chicken, divided into 8 pieces**
6 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
a pinch saffron
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp powdered ginger (don’t substitute fresh)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 c. canola or peanut oil

2 large yellow onions, grated and drained in a colander
1/4 c. packed chopped cilantro
1/4 c. packed chopped parsley
1/2-3/4 c. olives*
1 preserved lemon, peel only, sliced finely (Recipes abound online for how to preserve your own lemons, if you cannot find them in your ethnic grocery. However, these take about a month, so plan ahead!)
juice of 1/2-1 lemon

*You may use any olive. Canned, American "black olives" are not recommended, since they are, quite frankly, kind of nasty and won't give you the right flavor for this sauce. If your olives are bitter, they can be blanched and drained first.

** You may cook two chickens at once in the same sauce. You will need to double the amount of olives and preserved lemon. Of course, you will need the largest Dutch Oven known to man to pull this off. Yes, my Godfather owns the Largest Dutch Oven Known to Man. It's oval. He cooks two chickens at once and freezes one.

The day before, pound the garlic in the mortar and pestle with the other spices. Moisten mixture with the oil. Pull the skin off the chicken and rub with garlic paste. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, place chickens in a large, heavy pot, preferably enameled cast iron. Add grated onions, herbs and about 2 c. water. Bring to boil, cover and lower heat. Simmer 40 minutes.
When chicken is tender and falling off the bone, add olives and lemon peel. Continue cooking 10-15 minutes. When ready to serve, pull chicken and as many olives as you can out of the sauce and arrange on serving platter. Boil sauce vigorously until reduced and thickened. Taste and season with lemon juice and additional sauce if necessary. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

***Godfather also recommends cooking the liver with the chicken, if at all possible. After you remove the chicken from the broth, mash the liver up and return it to the broth. This will make a much thicker, richer sauce.

****He's not really my Godfather. He used to be my Home Teacher, a man assigned to our family to visit us once a month and check on our spiritual and temporal well-being. After a "shake up" in the assignments, he was no longer assigned to our family. He feigned ignorance, and never stopped visiting us. However, without the official title of Home Teacher, he was no longer obligated to share lessons with us, freeing up his time to cook us elaborate meals instead. One day at church, I was introducing him to a friend of mine and I stumbled over what I should call him - he was a family friend, but had so much more history than that. He smoothly stepped in and explained that he was my "gawdfaathah." Having been raised a Jewish New Yorker, he had the perfect accent to pull this off - and we never looked back.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

French Bread

I began making bread in earnest over the summer, right around the same time that my husband's family came to visit. We were a few stops after their visit to my husband's aunt, where they enjoyed a few AMAZING bread recipes. Nana was so excited about them that she phoned her sister the day they arrived here, to get the recipes for me. It's taken me until now to try this bread recipe, but it's fantastic! I've decided to stand up and pay attention whenever I come across a Utah bread recipe from now on. They really know how to do bread down there!

This makes two good-sized loaves, with a shattering crust and a crumb dense enough to spread thick with butter or make a sandwich. The crust is softer the next day, and the whole loaf satisfyingly chewy. It only lasted two days in our kitchen, so I can't say what would happen on the 3rd day.

The recipe is written for a stand mixer- I used my small Kitchen Aid, with the dough hook attachment. With six cups of flour, it seemed ALMOST too big for the bowl- the dough kept wanting to wind its way up to the top of the machine. Make sure and watch that it doesn't envelope the mixer, and keep a table knife handy to cut the dough back and push it down in between mixings.

French Bread

2 1/2 cups very warm water
2 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
2 Tablespoon oil
6 cups flour, divided
2 Tablespoons yeast

  1. Mix in Kitchen Aid all ingredients except flour and yeast.
  2. Add 3 cups flour and mix well.
  3. Add yeast, and the rest of the flour. Mix well.
  4. Let rest 10 minutes, and mix again.
  5. Repeat step 4 five times.
  6. Roll dough into 2 rectangles and roll up like a cinnamon roll loaf. Place on cornmeal-coated cookie sheet and let rise 30 minutes.
  7. Gash top with a sharp knife and brush with egg white.
  8. Bake 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.