Your Standard Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Greetings! I am always so happy and surprised that you read what I write. I was going to be a poet when I was a teen, but I guess it was not my calling. I do love to write, so I am happy to have readers. Thank you! 🙂

So it was a gloomy summer day. And in my effort to suck all the joy out of life…oops! I mean in my renewed effort to breathe in all the joy that life has to offer…I thought I should make myself write a blog post weekly.

(Now that I have said “weekly” don’t hold me to it because…life happens, along with moods, and I don’t always like to make commitments!)

20170530_220846485_iOSA week or so ago I made a coffee cake for work. I did not have sour cream (or did not look for it in my fridge) so I browsed through cookbooks to come up with something. I made a blueberry buckle with blueberries and cranberries without the buckle. It had the fruit but it also had the streusel topping. I baked it in a tube pan so it really did not buckle. I think “buckle” is the way the fruit indents the top of the cake. The people at work loved it and here is a picture. This is basically 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 cups flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 cup milk, and one egg and 1 cup fruit.

So on this gloomy summer’s eve, I figure it is a good baking day. I will make a sour cream coffee cake because I recently spied sour cream in my fridge. Where’s the recipe? I go to my Settlement Cookbook because it is full of standard baking fare from kitchens of generations of women gone by.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup sour cream

preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or grease a 10 inch tube pan. Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla. Add eggs one at at time. Sift dry ingredients together and add to butter mixture alternately with the sour cream.

Topping: mix 6 Tab. of softened butter (I accidentally melted mine) with 1 cup packed brown sugar, 2 tsp. cinnamon, and 1 cup chopped nuts.

Put half the batter in the pan. Sprinkle (or glob) on 1/2 the topping, layer the other half of the batter and the rest of the topping. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes before removing.

So the cake is in the oven, Hubby is at the dentist, and I am putting the dog out in the yard, going out to un-loop him from the various patio furniture and bushes at least three times, and thinking that this is a standard sour cream coffee cake that is probably found in all those cookbook collections that various churches and other organizations put together as fundraisers. So I peruse a few of those.

The first one I look through has Sour Cream Coffee Cake and the streusel is just sugar, cinnamon, and nuts. Cool! Because I knew that the streusel topping for my first coffee cake has flour in it and I thought that was pretty standard. So I continue reading this recipe and get to the end and see who submitted it. My sister! Gave me a little joy to see her name at the bottom of the recipe!

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Sour Cream Coffee Cake

So I made Barbecue Chicken Pizza!

As I had mentioned previously I was thinking of making a pizza in my cast iron skillet. Well, I made the pizza but not in the cast iron. And I got to use my handy-dandy pie circle gadget that I just bought. Silly item: a bag to roll out pie crust into a perfect circle.

I used my favorite pizza crust recipe. I found this years ago on allrecipes.com.  It is a yeast dough but there is no rising time. It is ready to go as soon as it comes together.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)

Combine the dry ingredients. Mix in the oil and water. When dough forms spread it on a large pizza pan. Top as desired. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.

I had Hubby take the meat off of 4 chicken thighs that had already been barbecued. He also sliced an onion. We made a bit more sauce with ketchup (1/4 cup), sriracha (1/8 cup), and Worcestershire sauce (1/8 cup). I had seen that combination somewhere on line, most likely one of those Facebook food videos. You can use more or less sriracha depending on how hot you like your sauce. I have also substituted apple cider vinegar for the Worcestershire sauce.

Spread the sauce on the dough, scatter the onion and the chicken pieces, top with cheese of your choice. This is one of those Monterrey jack and cheddar blends.

It was a very tasty pizza.

A dog fight of flavors!

Chimichurri. What is it? According to Wikipedia, chimichurri, it is loosely translated as “a mixture of several things in no particular order”. is that the best definition or what?! Anyway I came across a recipe from a magazine several years ago that I saved just because it was on a page with other interesting recipes to try. I am not sure which magazine this was. It was the sauce to serve with shrimp but with Hubby allergic to shrimp I did not think anything further about the recipe…until now!

20160621_222120506_iOSI have a thriving container garden of herbs hanging on the banister of my back porch. And I have all of the ones listed in this recipe! And I came across other recipes in my recent reading of food magazines while walking the treadmill that called for other combination of herbs. I thought it odd that mint was in here along with the others and the basil with dill. But I want to make this but with what? Steak? Pasta? Seafood?

I recently bought fish “burgers” at the store. Just for something different. Not Salmon burgers, but Alaskan Pollock. I don’t usually plan menus but I was writing a few ideas down and thought the chimichurri would compliment the fish. It would be different than the usual mayo with pickle relish tartar sauce.

Per usual I just go about harvesting the plants without really measuring. Then I chop everything into bits. I pour out a bit too much red pepper flakes but it works out well. A little after bite never hurt! I think I used about 3/4 cup of olive oil.

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Looks beautiful, even if I do say so myself! It really should be served in a small mason jar with a spoon, but it looks very nice in the cruet! Now to dinner…

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Sunday in my Kitchen

It’s a rainy Sunday and I feel inspired to do all sorts of things. First I started with my closet. I set up ten “outfits” so I could just grab something out of the closet first thing in the morning for work. I have too many clothes so sometimes the decision making stumps me. It’s just clothes! But still!

We are in need of more ketchup and the homemade stuff is so good. I pull out the crock pot and throw in the ingredients, Special Sauce. Here is the recipe that I posted earlier.

It occurs to me that I have a container of neglected Sourdough Starter in the fridge that needs feeding. I hope it is still good. What to do with the “pour off”? Ha! I saved a fellow blogger Kristina’s post on country bread, Classic Country Bread. Her recipe is made with a poolish; I’ll substitute the starter for the poolish. I also don’t have a bread machine so I’ll just knead it in my KitchenAid with the bread hook. I have more whole wheat flour than all-purpose so I use 1 cup wheat flour and 1/1/2 cups all-purpose and two teaspoons instant yeast.  I just mix it all in the mixer, knead it for 5 minutes and place in a greased bread pan to rise.Here’s hoping it turns out okay!

I have fresh herbs that are growing nicely. I was looking through a Food magazine last week while walking on the treadmill (I have got to lose some weight!) and saw a recipe for Green Goddess dressing. I remember that from way back. So I look around on the internet for a recipe. There are plenty. This is my modification of the one from Epicurious, Buttermilk Green Goddess Dressing. I do not have anchovy paste, nor fresh tarragon. I leave the former out and use 1 teaspoon dried tarragon. I mix it all in a blender instead of the food processor.

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Not everything has to be from scratch. I put together a tray of cheese and crackers to take to the Refugee Coalition reception. And I feel so honored, the wife wants me to show her how I made the Baharat spice mixture: Timman Z’affaran. Its not about me but I am so pleased that it was so well received!

So at the end of the day here’s what I have added to my kitchen:

A wonderful artisan bread that served as our supper!

Green goddess dressing and homemade ketchup. This means I need to eat more salads this week. And some of the ketchup will be taken on our next camping trip to have on or cheeseburgers. Good eating!

Pork Pies

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Pictured here are just pie dough and jam, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar: not the recipe below!

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a little while now. I have these in my freezer, we ate some for a supper, and even took some camping and toasted them up on the grill. The pastry is from a recipe that I copied out of a book The Make Ahead Cook. I don’t remember the author. I found this in my “want to make” recipe notebook.

I had some seasoned pork that my stepdaughters’ aunt puts together for pork pie. My youngest stepdaughter made pork pie for us one time and it is delicious! I found a recipe for pork pie in the Yankee magazine after the girls told me of it. I had never heard of it before. It is ground pork seasoned with onion, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. I think each family recipe is probably a variation on that. Hubby mentioned that I needed more puff pastry so I could use that with the seasoned pork which the family calls “gratin”.  I did not have any puff pastry so this recipe came in handy. And its a bit different than regular pie pastry. Here are the ingredients for the crusts:

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  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  •  8 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces (the original recipe called for shortening)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil

A food processor is a fabulous appliance for making pastry dough.

20160526_203351193_iOSProcess flour, salt, and baking powder in food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. (I did not cut the butter into small enough pieces so ended up with chunks that made the rolling out of the circles a little more difficult than should be).Add broth and eggs until dough comes together. This took more than the 5 pulses in the original recipe. Transfer dough to a lightly floured board. Knead by hand to form a smooth ball and then divide into 16 pieces.

Roll each piece into a circle of about 6 inches diameter. Place 1/4 cup filling on half, brush edges with water, fold over and seal. I have to admit my 6 inch circles were approximate and “circle-like”! Half way through I ran out of the prepared pork (already cooked) and made a quick extra filling by cooking some breakfast sausages and scrambled eggs with a touch of grated cheese. (The original recipe called for a meat mixture made with 1 1/2 pounds of meatloaf mix.)

These get baked on cookie sheets preheated in a 425 degree F oven. When the pans are heated drizzle 2 Tablespoons of oil on the pan before placing the pies on them. The original recipe said to brush the other Tablespoon of oil on the tops. I sprayed them with cooking spray and for the second pan I did not drizzle the oil. The oil drizzled pans did produce a browner, crisper crust. So it might be worth the effort to do so next time as well.

I sprinkled paprika on the scrambled egg ones to distinguish them from the pork. This is a recipe that I will use again. It made 14, not 16, but that was the extent of the filling available. The crust is flavorful, like a biscuit, but thin and crisp. They are definitely not just pie dough and filling. These will be handy for a grab and go lunch or super easy supper on a busy night, or when I am just too lazy to cook!

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What to do with egg whites?

20160504_214255930_iOSI have a cup of egg whites in my refrigerator taunting me to do something with them. I have these whites because Son made me a Parisien flan before he left for his job in Alaska. I showed him this  Parisien Flan from Nadia at Maison Travers and he made it for me! It was fabulous!

 

I’m thinking about a … (French word, meringue cake), it’ll come to me in a moment…Pavlova…Dacquoise! I describe this to Hubby and he looks at me with a blank face. I look through a few cookbooks for meringue recipes. Many of the recipes are for 2 egg whites with 2 cups of sugar, confectioners and granulated. That seems like a lot of sugar but sugar is important for the structure of a meringue. I have four egg whites so 2 cups of sugar will have to do. I suggest to Hubby that I could make espresso flavored meringue cookies and he says to go for it. I settle on adapting a recipe from Bakewise by Shirley Corriher. She explains the science behind the product. I do not have cream of tartar so must find a substitute: apparently 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice per egg white.

  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar; made by processing regular granulated sugar in the food processor for one minute
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar (I didn’t have a full cup!)
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon Hersheys Special Dark Cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon flour

First I beat the egg whites and lemon juice with all but two tablespoons of the superfine sugar until stiff peaks formed.

Mix the rest of the dry ingredients to sprinkle on top of the beaten egg whites and fold in until incorporated. I confess that I do not like folding. I always worry about mixing too hard and flattening the mixture.

This is to be piped or spooned onto parchment paper and baked in a 200 degree (F) oven for 1 hour and 45 minutes. My oven is too small. I have three pans of meringue cookies and enough to make a nine inch circle for a Pavlova. I made this planning to dump a can of canned cherries mixed with sweetened yogurt on top and have a fancy dessert.

I don’t like my pastry bag so I just put huge spoonfuls on the pans. I don’t get marks for prettiness! These are baking away forever in the oven and I am on the phone with my sister when the timer goes off. I have never made meringues before, yes meringue topping for pies but not meringues. Smart phones are wonderful. I show her the meringues as I take them out of the oven and she says they look perfect. Now to let them cool. But wait, Hubby went in and took one off the tray. Yumm! They have a nice coffee flavor. Now I am not sure if cherries on top of the circle is the best flavor combination.

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It is a bit squishy because it is not completely cool.

I still need to do something with the large circle. I serve wedges with ice cream and Hubby pours on a bit of Irish Cream liquor. Too much of this will make us fat and drunk!

Timman Z’affaran

I have the privilege of being a part of a coalition of people who are helping in the resettlement of refugees from the war-torn Middle East. You are all entitled to your opinions, but this blog is about cooking, not the politics.

So at first we thought the refugee family would be from Syria so my task group leader gave me a recipe for Syrian meatballs. But the family is coming from Iraq. So I wanted to find a recipe that at least says it is Iraqi. So this I found from Food.com: Timman Zafffaran

I thought it would be prudent to practice the dish before having to deliver it to the family’s new home the day of arrival. So this is an Americanized version. The dish I make to deliver to the family will not have the American substitutes. It will be made with halal meat and basmati rice.

The first step is to make the Baharat, Middle Eastern Spice Mixture. You can find the recipe here: Baharat. I gather all the whole spices to grind for this mix. And the house smells wonderful while I am grinding these in the small spice grinder that has been lying unused in the cabinet for ever! (We bought it eons ago when we thought we would grind our own coffee beans. Yeah right!)

Cardamom seeds are mucho expensive. So I “google” for a substitute: equal parts cinnamon and nutmeg or cinnamon and ground cloves. That I can handle. So I grind the spices and grate the nutmeg. I am making half the recipe because that is how much whole peppercorns I have. This makes a good cup of spice. That will be enough for a container to give to the family, some to keep for my own kitchen, and some to give to my son to take to Alaska for his next job.

  • 1/4 cup whole peppercorns (some of these are directly from Vietnam)
  • 1/8 cup (2 Tablespoons) whole coriander seeds
  • 1/8 cup cinnamon bark; I grind up quite a few cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 whole nutmegs
  • 1/4 cup ground paprika

I forget to toast the spices but they still smell wonderful. Mix the whole spices except the nutmeg and paprika. Grind these up a 1/2 cup at a time. I find I need to grind them three times in my little grinder to make them fine. Then grate the nutmeg; this should make about 1/8 cup. Mix the grated nutmeg and the paprika with the ground spices and store in an airtight jar. This is the Baharat.

Now for the Iraqi Saffron Rice with Meat. One reason for practicing making the dish is to determine if the recipe, as is, is sufficient for a family of six. I make the recipe “as is” with the exception of the amount of meat. I use one pound of ground turkey, and not 275 grams which is a little over 1/2 of a pound. The recipe calls for rose water, which is not a staple in my pantry. I “google” for a substitute: vanilla extract.

  • 2 cups basmati rice (I use brown rice for this preparation, but will buy basmati rice to prepare the dish for the family)
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron thread (I have saffron from a spice market from my trip to Armenia)
  • 2 tablespoons rose water (I use 1 tablespoon vanilla extract + 1 tablespoon water)
  • 1/3 cup oil ( or ghee or butter); I use butter
  • 1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground meat, lamb or beef (I am using turkey for this preparation but will buy Halal beef or lamb for the family)
  • 1 teaspoon baharat mixed spice
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 2 1/4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cups raisins
  • 3 cups chicken stock (I actually use 4 cups for the 2 cups of brown rice)

The directions are a bit fussy but I follow them pretty straight forwardly. Cover rice with cold water and soak while preparing the onion and meat. Pound saffron threads. I was not sure what this meant so I mushed them around a bit with the mortar and pestle. Put these in the rose water to steep. Heat half the oil/butter in a skillet and toast the almonds. Make sure they do not burn. Remove from the pan and put on a plate and reserve. Add onion to pan until transparent. Increase the heat and add meat and cook until “crumbly”. Add baharat, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and raisins, and cook for one minute more. Add tomato paste at this time as well. Remove from heat and cover with lid.

Meanwhile add the rest of the butter to a large pan along with 2 teaspoons of the saffron/rose water mixture and the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, add rice, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and let rice cook. For brown rice this took 45 minutes.

Fold the meat mixture into the rice, cover the rim of the pan with two paper towels (??) and set lid on tightly. Leave on low heat for 5 minutes.

Put in serving dish and sprinkle with browned almonds and the rest of the saffron-rosewater.

This will make enough to serve a family of six with half of them under the age of 10. My family of three (all adults with good appetites who generally eat more than a designated “serving”) devoured it all and we were very happy with the various flavors and textures.

I served this with mixed vegetables dry roasted in a skillet with a sprinkling of baharat. We enjoyed the meal with red wine and good conversation.

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I will be preparing this again in a week’s time. This has given me an interest to try to make some other international dishes that are not similar to American cooking, although American cooking does not have a single description. The middle eastern spice mix may be good on fish dishes. I will be looking closely at my Mediterranean cookbooks but I also have one from South Africa, Georgia, and a collection from RPCV from quite a few countries. The adventure begins!