Thursday, December 28, 2006

Now or Later Pizza

I thought I would post this since it was a really nice crust. I don't usually use all white flour like this but I had a supply left over from Christmas baking that I thought I would try to use before going stale. The other thing, I had half a pound of crab meat to use up. I thought it could make a fun pizza topping to stretch it for a family of five. This is what happened.

Now or Later Pizza
King Arthur Baking Companion
page 247

3 c unbleached AP flour
1 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs olive oil
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 c water

Mix together until you have a soft dough. Don't overknead; it should hold together but look fairly rough on the surface.

Cover and let rise for 45 min, then refrigerate it for 4 hours (up to 36 hours); this step will develop this crust's flavor.

Divide the dough in half. Shape in 9 to 12 inch rounds. Cover and let rest for 30 min while you heat the oven to 500 degrees.

Bake in the middle rack for 4 minutes then remove. Add toppings and bake an additional 8 minutes or save for later.

If saved for later, cool the crust and wrap and refrigerate or freeze. When you are ready to cook them, remove, add toppings and bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes. (I would think you would need to let these come to room temp)

-One pizza had garlic, browned butter, goat cheese, parmasean, and crab. It wasn't bad but the crab was too heavy and overwhelmed the taste of the dough.
-The other crust was topped with a pizza sauce the I used tomato paste, water, salt, and a heavy sprinkle of Penzey's Pizza Seasoning. The rest of the toppings were sharp cheddar and mozerella. It was a very tasty pizza!
-I left the cust to develop in the refrigerator for about 24 hours and I thought that it had a nice flovor and a great texture.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Cranberry-Apple Preserves

This recipe was straight out of the Ball Blue Book. I don't think it is much different from the Whole Cranberry Sauce that I made earlier in the year.
Cranberry-Apple Preserves
BBB pg 39, 2006
Yield: 9 half-pints
2 pounds cranberries
3 green apples, cored, peeled, and chopped
1 orange, seeded and chopped
3 c sugar
2 c water
1/2 c honey
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepot. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil gently almost to the gelling point. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessar. Ladle hot preserves into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process in boiling water canner for 15 minutes.


-For some reason the thermometer didn't seem to be a good indicator of the gelling stage. I don't know why that was but something certainly was not right.
-I used frozen cranberries and they seemed to work well.
-I thought this would be sweeter than what it is, still rather tart.
-The yield was 9 half-pints, just as the recipe stated.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Speaking of marzipan...This is the best!
I was standing in line at the grocery store one day when a gentleman asked the lady behind me if she knew of any organic food shops in town. She said "no", but I butted-in and spilled my guts! Micheal was in town for a few months doing some training and was from CA. South GA not being the hot-bed of the organic food movement, I helped him the best I could. One day he brought me a gift, a box of this marzipan that he had brought from home...heaven in a box it is. Even if you don't like marzipan you should give this a try, it is so delish! Micheal left town but started carrying this. I think of him every time I eat it. Thank you Micheal!

Sweet Potato Biscuits

I don't have a picture of these but I wanted to get the recipe in here anyway. I make these to go with ham and people go crazy for them. When I make them at home, I substitute home lard for the shortening.

These come from a fabulous cookbook

Sweet Potato Biscuits
3 c flour, plus more for rolling and shaping
3/4 c sugar
1 tbs salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 c shortening
2 c mashed sweet potatoes
1/3 c milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowel, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, allspice, and cinnamon. Cut in shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the sweet potatoes. Ads the milk and stir until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface; roll to 1/2 inch thickness and cut with a 2 inch biscuit cutter. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

-I never roll these out! The dough is way too slack for rolling. You would have to add an enormous amount of flour to get them to roll and that would ruin the biscuit. What I do is get a good pinch of the dough and shape it in my floured hands, then place it on the cookie sheet. Now this will vary the size of the biscuit from what is said in the recipe and you will have to adjust the cooking time.
-These keep for a couple of days and then reheat well.

Chocolate Fondue

I went back and forth on whether or not to use an actual fondue pot. In the end I decided to just put the chocolate mixture in individual ramikins for saftey sake with the children. I just couldn't see a trip to the Emergency Room as the finish to a great Christmas.

Chocolate Fondue
12 oz good quality chocolate, I used a combination dark and semi-sweet Ghiradhelli
1 cup heavy cream

Melt slowly in a double boiler. Transfer to a fondue pot or like I did, ramikins.

I served with
-Sliced apples
-Homemade fruitcake slices
-Dried apricots
-Marzipan balls
-Homemade marshmallows

-I think some flavored liquor would have been really tasty in it.
-In the end I was glad that I made the decision to use the ramikins. It was messy enough as it was, I can't imagine what it would have been like if the children had been dipping into a central pot. When the children get older we will certainly do the pot. You could also have used one of those chocolate fountains that are so popular these days.
-It was a lot of fun and we are going to do this again very soon.

Scalloped Potato Gratin

Well, what can I say about this recipe ...good, basic, a starting point, easy, quick...a little bland...

Scalloped Potato Gratin
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for broiling

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a saucepan, heat up the cream with a sprig of thyme, chopped garlic and nutmeg.

While cream is heating up, butter a casserole dish. Place a layer of potato in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper. Remove cream from heat, then pour a little over the potatoes. Top with some grated Parmesan. Make 2 more layers. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Sprinkle some more Parmesan and broil until cheese browns, about 5 minutes.

Crab-Stuffed Red Snapper


This was the main course of Christmas Dinner. It was very good and rather simple to put together. The kids really liked it as it was mild and not very...fussy. I was not very happy with the outcome of the crab stuffing. I had a little left over from stuffing and I baked it alongside the fish. I thought this stuffing baked seperate tasted much better than what was in the fish. I think this is due, in part, to how fast the fish cooked, it didn't allow the stuffing to get up to temperature long enough to really meld with the fish. I think the children enjoyed the head on the fish more than anything!! There was as much talk of eyeballs at the table as there was about the toys under the tree! I found this recipe at,crab_stuffed_red_snapper.phtml

Crab Stuffed Red Snapper

1/3 cup minced onion

3 tbsp. butter

1/2 lb. crab meat

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 tsp. lemon thyme

4 lb. red snapper, dressed for stuffing

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/3 cup dry white wine

1/3 cup melted butter

Saute onion in butter until golden. Remove from heat and mix in the crab meat, bread crumbs, parsley, heavy cream, and lemon thyme. Sprinkle cavity of fish lightly with salt and pepper. Stuff the fish and skewer edges securely. Mix wine and butter together. Place fish in a greased baking pan, pour wine-butter mixture over fish. Bake in 400°F oven, uncovered for 30 minutes or just until the flesh is opaque, basting frequently with wine sauce.

Our Christmas Table

I decided to keep Christmas dinner very simple this year. Spending time with Ralph and the kids was much more important than being in the kitchen all day. Not to mention that I was really tired by this time. Here were the menus for the day...

Gingerbread pancakes (from the King ArthurBaking Companion)
Sweetened whipped cream with cinnamon
Mulled Cider

Turkey sandwiches

Crab Stuffed Whole Red Snapper
Sauteed Vegetables
Potatoes Au Gratin
Chocolate Fondue

I think I will post and review some of the recipes individually...

Mark's Melon Patch

One of my favorite road-side markets is Mark's Melon Patch. They have the usual canned stuff but also have beautiful melons, pumpkins, pecans, boiled peanuts, sunflowers, just whatever is in season!

They are located in Sassar GA (thanks to my friend on Canning2) and we pass by several times per year on the way to Alabama.

Liz Pecans

In my quest to find quality food, local, and hopefully sustainable family farms...I was on a mission to find pecans as we travel through south Georgia pecan country early this December.

We had stopped at several places but they were either way expensive or I just had a bad feeling about where we were buying them from. This was a bad year for pecans due to the drought and there just aren't as many around as usual. The pecans I could find were small and expensive. I had given up just west of Waycross and then I saw a sign in Alapaha...

Several miles and a couple of turns off the main road, we found Liz Pecans. The open sign was up but there was no one in the little make-shift store that was at the back end of their pecan orchard.

We tried to find some one but ended up doing as others had done-leaving a note as to what you are buying and putting the cash on the table. Their pecans were beautiful and tasty, the price was fair for the season. What more can you ask for??

Ricotta Cheese Poundcake

Yet another recipe trying to use up the ricotta before it went out of date. I had this favorite ricotta pound cake recipe in a cookbook, but I lost the cookbook. I think I must have loaned it to someone but after a google search I found one that looked very similar.

I think this is almost better the next day. I had leftovers of cake two days later when our friends came to dinner. I toasted slices in an iron skillet with a little butter, and then served the cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a dollop of homemade caramel sauce.

Ricotta Cheese Poundcake
1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 cups packed light brown sugar

6 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

finely grated zest of 2 lemons

2 cups unbleached flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 3/4 cups milk or light cream

1 cup ricotta cheese

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter and lightly flour a 10 inch tube pan. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer, gradually beating in the brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Beat in the vanilla and lemon zest. Sift the flours, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg into another bowl, adding any pieces of bran that remain in the sifter; set aside. Puree the milk or cream and ricotta cheese in a blender.Stir the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture alternately with the milk/ricotta; do this in several stages, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Do not beat the batter. Distribute the batter evenly in the prepared pan, then bake for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes; a tester inserted in the center should come out clean. Cool the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert it onto the rack and cool the cake for at least one hour before cutting. Transfer the cake to a serving platter.


-Add the lemon zest last and stir in or it will just wrap itself around the paddle of the mixer.

-Keeps in the fridge really well.

Homemade Marshmallows

These were really easy and rather tasty. I made one batch and they turned out great. I made a second batch, was distracted and messed up the amount of sugar...they were a flop but it was entirely me and not the recipe. I will make these again but I think there is room to jazz them up!

I really like this recipe because it does not call for corn syrup as many of them do.

Homemade Marshmallows
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence
3 tablespoons (3 packets) powdered gelatin*
2 cups cold water
2 cups sugar
2 egg whites**
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted, plus more for dusting pan and marshmallows
Butter, for greasing pan

In a medium sized saucepan soak the gelatin in the cold water. After the gelatin has softened, approximately 10 minutes, add the regular sugar and then gently dissolve over low heat, approximately 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks and then fold in the sifted confectioners' sugar. While the mixer is on low, slowly pour in the cooled gelatin mixture. Increase the speed and beat until white and thick. The volume should double in size and should form between soft and firm peaks.

Line an 8 by 8-inch baking dish with high sides with foil, grease slightly with butter, and coat with confectioners' sugar. Alternatively, you can use a baking sheet, but the marshmallows will not be as tall. Pour marshmallow mixture in and top with more sifted confectioners' sugar. Leave out overnight or for at least 3 hours to set. The marshmallow should be light and spongy when set.

Loosen marshmallow from edges of tray and invert onto a large cutting board. Peel off foil and use a large knife to cut the marshmallows into cubes. Dredge each piece in confectioners' sugar.
* We retested this recipe. It works best with 3 tablespoons gelatin. FN Kitchens
**RAW EGG WARNING Food Network Kitchens suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs due to the slight risk of Salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly-refrigerated, clean, grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.

-Next time I will try peppermint extract and swirl some red food coloring thorugh
-I wonder if you could not add a bit more gelatin and then add a small amount of a fruit puree
-Maybe I could roll them in toasted coconut
-Gotta watch what day you do these, as humdity is a factor.

Ricotta Cheese Doughnuts

After we got back from Disney, I realized that I had 2 large containers of ricotta cheese that needed to be used or would be past the date. I googled ricotta recipes and came up with this jewel from

Printed from COOKS.COM
1 lb. Ricotta cheese
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Fill emptied 1 pound Ricotta container with flour.

Beat Ricotta, eggs, and vanilla well. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Drop by teaspoon in hot oil. Deep fry over medium heat until golden brown. Drain on paper towel. Roll in any kind of sugar - ie. powdered cinnamon or granulated.

-This is one fo the best things that I have ever eaten!
-They are really only good right then, still warm. After that, they really are nothing special
-I rolled mine in granulated sugar and cinnamon

Browned Turkey Stock

Well I'm a little late getting a few of these things blogged but here we go...

Stock, bone broth, whatever you want to call it, I make a lot of it. I always find a use for it and it adds a depth of flavor that is very nice. After Thanksgiving, I was left with a couple of turkey carcasess. I ended up with 2 huge pots of cooking broth and was able to can 16 quarts of the rich liquid.

-Bird parts, anything but the offal. For the brown version I brown the parts under the broiler before putting them in the stock pot.
-Fresh herbs, what ever is on hand
-Onions, carrots, celery, garlic. No need to peel them, just chunk them up. -Peppercorns
-Bay leaf, or a few depending how big your pot is
-White wine, a slosh or so for the acidity
-Cold water, enough to cover everything
-I don't usually add salt because I may be reducing it--a lot
-I bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and start removing the scum, then the fat.
-When it's done I strain it through a flour sack towel, chill it , and remove the fat
-Freeze or pressure can

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Cranberry-Orange Bread Pudding

King Arthur Whole Grain Baking
Page 119

Made several changes to the recipe but it was really good and the children loved it! It made a nice creamy/moist dessert after a dinner of the leftover wild rice and sausage with chopped turkey. It was not overly sweet and I think it will be fine to serve to the children for breakfast in the morning.

  1. Used 3 c whole milk and 1 cup heavy cream since I had no half-and-half.
  2. Used succanat instead of brown sugar.
  3. Lost the bottle of vanilla extract (How is that possible I ask?!), so I squeezed a bit of vanilla seed out of one of the beans I have soaking in vodka.
  4. For bread, I used the leftover rolls and loaf bread from Thanksgiving. There were lots of nuts and dried raisins and cranberries so I didn't add the cranberries called for in the recipe.
  5. I think it would have been good with just milk and then use the cream over the top when served...more bang for your calorie buck!
  6. I think some coarse sugar sprinkled on top would have added a nice crunch.

End of the Season

I have only one rose bush left. It's in a pot on the back patio. This was the last rose of the year from my little bush. I love old fashioned roses.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Lard and Cracklings

Well, last week I decided that with Thanksgiving coming, I had to learn how to render lard. I had this HUGE box of fat and skin from the last hog we bought. It was taking up a large space in the freezer and I needed room. I had this idea that the kitchen would be full of grease and that the entire house would smell for days. I had visions of getting burned and that somehow the entire process would be difficult. Boy was I wrong!


  1. The lower, the slower, the better...seriously. It took about 8 hours and I think I could have gone even slower. I cooked it on my back left burner. Next time, I should use my back right burner with the ultra-low simmer.
  2. This was the best starting place on how to do it At the last minute I decided to skip the step of putting it in water, chilling it overnight, then melting it and jaring it. Instead, I removed as many of the cracklings as I could and set them to drain. I let the lard cool in the pan for about an hour and then drained it through a flour sack towel. It looked completely clear so I decided to jar it up. If it had particles I could always remelt it and then take the other steps. Turns out it was perfectly clear and creamy white when it cooled.
  3. It was not hard! There was very little splashing. I used my largest stock pot which is 3 gallons and used about 10# of fat and skin. I was able to get 4 quarts of lard and 3 large plates full of cracklings. There was very little smell. Overall, a great experience.


I came across a deal a couple of weeks ago on vanilla beans. I never thought I would be able to afford to make a large batch of vanilla extract, but I have always wanted to try.


I used Absolut Vodka and 28 vanilla beans. I am shaking it every few days and after a week it already has a strong vanilla flavor. I am thinking it will be about 8 weeks or more before it will be close to being ready. I would not be suprised if it takes much longer.

The County Fair

I usually enter the local fair but usually only one or two items. This year I entered 8 out of the 9 categories and did very well with the judges.


Fruit-Whole Cranberry Sauce (2nd)
Vegetable-Boston Baked Beans
Jam-Carrot Cake Jam (1st)
Jelly-Red Pepper Jelly (1st)
Preserves-Apple with Lemon Preserves (3rd)
Butter-Carmel Spice Pear Butter (1st)
Pickles-Pineapple Pickles (2nd)
Relish-Dill Relish (1st and overall Sweepstakes Award for outstanding canning)

This canning season was one of my very best. I learned a lot of new things and tried things that I have never done before. I had some big mistakes and some great successes. I love the fair and I am so glad that I was able to get my friend Cynthia to enter. Next year we will both enter all of the categories. Next year I will also find some one else to enter and I have challenged Cynthia to do the same. It's sad how few people know how to do these things in the kitchen anymore. I love that I have been able to put locally grown wholesome food in the pantry for my family.


Yesterday was Thanksgiving. Ralph and I both had to work but we had a beautiful dinner and friends over. Alexander got sick mid-afternoon and slept through the meal.


Herbed Maple and Honey Roast Turkey with Pan Gravy
Sweet Potatoes Baked in the Jacket
Whole Cranberry Orange Sauce with Grand Marnier
Roasted Carrots, Parsnips, and Brussel Sprouts
Wild Rice with Sausage and Vegetables
Fruits of the Earth Bread
Pull Apart Cranberry-Pecan Buns
Golden Pumpkin Pie
Cranberry-Apricot Surprise Pie
Fresh Whipped Cream

Oh, and there was a Mixed Greens Salad with Pears, Toasted Walnuts and Gorganzola then tossed with an Orange Vinegrette.


  1. Love, love, love the brine,1977,FOOD_9936_25005,00.html The only problem is that is is VERY expensive to make a double batch for a large turkey. I have one turkey left to cut up and freeze. I think I will use the left over brine to soak the other turkey in parts and then freeze prior to cooking. If it doesn't work well then it will still be good for soup.
  2. The 2 pie and both breads came from my new favorite cookbook I was a little heavy handed when adding the almond extract in the Cran-Apricot Pie, otherwise all 4 recipes were excellent. The stars were the pie crusts in my opinion, both were fabulous.
  3. I made the Wild Rice recipe up while in the kitchen. I didn't account for the water in the veggies when I cooked the rice so it was a bit "soupy". I had an extra box of rice and added it and cooked it for about anther 30 minutes. As it turned out there was a very pleasing combination of textures. One of those flops that you rescue and they turn out really well!!
  4. I used a Merlot in the gravy and it was good but the Madeira would have been better.
  5. This year was about not doing a lot of the same ole, same ole. It was nice and I didn't miss any of my Mom's old heavy casseroles...well, yeah, I did miss the Frosted Cranberry Squares... :)
  6. When I made Turkey Stock a few days ago, I forgot to add the extra necks and it really does affect the quality of the stock.
  7. Pastured birds cook really fast! I thought last year was a fluke, but it happened again this year. 26 pounds and it was done perfect in 2 hours and 15 minutes. If I had not used a continuous read thermometer it would have been dreadfully overcooked. Thankfully, it was perfect!