Saturday, April 16, 2011

It's That Time of Year Again...

This is going to be a really quick post. Why? Well, I'd like to say I'm giving all my devoted readers a break for the day, not writing a long drawn out post, but, that is not the case. You see, as I write this post I'm thinking about all the things I need to get done before I hop on the next plane to good old Blackfoot, Idaho.

That's where my darling grandchildren live and I'm off for my yearly visit. I'll be there for Tabitha's dance recital and I'm sure Noah has a few school surprises in store for me too. And, how cool is this, I will also be there for Easter this year!!!

Here's a picture of the kids from last year. You see that adorable hat on Tabi? She not only picked it out herself, but she also paid for it too!!! She's quite the fashionista:) Noah did manage to get a tie on for church but only as he was rushing to his pew, Noah loves ties, he just doesn't like wearing them much. Can't say that I blame him.

I happened upon this recipe card while I was skimming through my Betty Crocker Recipe file the other day. I'm going to stash it in my luggage with my other kiddie surprises to bring with me to Idaho. Doesn't it look festive? Hopefully, the kids and I will get around to assembling it. We'll see...

I didn't want to run off without at least leaving you a few munchies. I won't be back until the end of April but if you crave even more tidbits, you can always go to my April 18th-24th foodie listing from last year. (please excuse the lack of link checking:)

April 16

The Dagwood Sandwich was introduced to the American public on April 16, 1936. It was invented by Chic Young and featured in his comic strip Blondie. The first Dagwood consisted of tongue, onion, mustard, sardine, beans and horseradish. Over the years, the sandwich grew bigger and typically included everything "but the kitchen sink!" foodtimeline.org
Today is also National Eggs Benedict Day, one of my very best favorite brunch entrees. There are lots of rumors about the "birth" of Eggs Benedict. I intend on doing a more in depth post one day but in the mean time, if you're interested in a bit of history, check out this article in the New York Times!

April 17th

Eliza Acton was born on this day in 1799 in Sussex.

National Cheeseball Day

Happy Birthday Daffy Duck!

April 18

Animal Crackers Birthday
Although I won't be blogging while I'm away, I will be visiting every now and again. Unfortunately, the kids don't have spring recess so I will have a bit of free time. Have a GREAT weekend, Louise.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy Birthday David Letterman!!!

Before I share some of "David's" favorite recipes from Home Cookin' with Dave's Mom, I thought I'd have a bit of fun. After all, it is David Michael Letterman's birthday today.

Top 10 Things You May or May Not Know About David Letterman

10. David Letterman was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on April 12 1947 @ 6:00am-CST. This day is better known to food lovers' as National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day:)

9. David Letterman occasionally works under the pseudonym Earl Hofert, the name of his maternal grandfather. (You will see this name in the credits for shows like The Simpsons, in the feature film Cabin Boy, or a host of other media appearances. He also goes by the name "Class Smart Alec" in his high school yearbook.

8. While going to high school, David Letterman worked as a grocery bagger and stock boy at the Atlas Supermarket in his hometown. He eventually worked his way up to cashier. According to his mother, "Once, David stocked the can display all the way to the ceiling, so customers couldn't get a can from the stock without bringing the whole thing down on top of them."

7. David Letterman began his career in broadcasting in Indianapolis, Indiana, working as a weekend weatherman. While working as a weatherman, he once described a storm as having hail "the size of canned hams." He was also a host of Freeze Dried Movies and a kid's 4-H show called Clover Power over at WTRE. Rumor has it that he auditioned for the role of Ted Stryker in the comedy classic, Airplane!
"...Then he went to work as a wacky weatherman in Indianapolis, occasionally making up cities that didn't exist ("Eight inches of snow in Bingree and surrounding areas"), and once erasing state borders from a weather map during a broadcast. He anchored the evening news for a short while, and even hosted a news/talk radio show. Too funny to play it serious, though, Letterman starred in a local kiddie show, and wisecracked as host of late night TV "Freeze-Dried Movies" until he quit his job, loaded his possessions into his truck, and left Indiana in 1975... (source)
6. One of the first big breaks that David Letterman got in small screen comedy was a guest spot on the sitcom Mork & Mindy.

5. David Letterman appeared in issue 239 of the Marvel comic book The Avengers. (scroll down for the comic)

4. The pencils used on The Late Show with David Letterman are specially designed with erasers at both ends, since Dave is in the habit of tossing them at his camera operators and on rare occasions, the band or the guests. Julia Child and Martha Stewart both had memorable moments on his show.
3. The name of Rupert Gee's restaurant, which is found right around the corner from Dave's studio, is
Hello Deli.

2. David Letterman was a Boy Scout. Also according to his mom, he doesn't like spinach or asparagus. However, he sure does like peanut butter sandwiches!
"When David was in junior high, he had a paper route. Every day he'd set off on his bike at around four in the morning, and he'd be so hungry when he came home that he'd wolf down a snack of two or three peanut butter sandwiches, go back to bed, only to get up and have a breakfast of cereal, fruit juice, and toast a couple of hours later."
And, the #1 thing you may or may not know about David Letterman:

1. In order to win tickets for the Late Show with David Letterman, you must correctly answer a random trivia question about the show before you actually get your ticket.

Home Cookin' with Dave's Mom

What a delightful recipe book! I never realized how chatty and personal Home Cookin' with Dave's Mom really is until I was preparing for today's post. Shame on me, I have so many cookbooks that just sit on the shelf waiting to be "investigated." As a matter of fact, I'm so enthralled by its contents, that I've decided to devote a future post on the book and Dorothy Letterman, Dave's mom, on her birthday in July. Sure, the book gives us a glimpse into Dave's pre-Late Night shenanigans but where it truly shines is in the homespun commentary given by Dave's mom who in her own right is quite a fascinating women. Through snapshots, anecdotes, laughter and her down to earth spirit, Dorothy Letterman spins quite the enjoyable cookbook. It reminds me of another recipe book I shared quite a while back, Aunt Bee's Mayberry Cookbook. (I'll leave the link below in case you missed it:)

I did a quick internet scan before choosing the following recipes in order to avoid duplicates. I discovered David Letterman's Favorite Breakfast Casserole @ Mr. Breakfast and also the recipe for Dave's mom's Flaky Pie Crust @ Just A Pinch. You might want to check out that pie crust recipe if you should decide to bake up this Sour Cherry Pie for Letterman's birthday. Of course, you can also use your favorite pie crust recipe too. It seems, Chocolate Chiffon Pie is Dave's preferred birthday "cake." Since I just did posts for all things chiffon, I've decided to include his second preferred birthday dessert; Sour Cherry Pie.

Sour Cherry Pie
"Since I can't send the chocolate chiffon pie overnight to David, this is the dessert I usually send to him for his birthday-or if I'm just thinking about him. First I freeze the pie, wrap it tightly in Saran Wrap, wrap it again in bubble wrap, and fold newspaper around it...Once, when David was still at NBC, I was watching his show and I saw him pull out the cherry pie I had sent to him a couple of days earlier for his birthday. There was a big wedge cut out of it and a big bolt lying in the pan. He told millions of people that I had baked a stove bolt in his pie. Oh David, I did not!"
Pie dough for 2 crust pie
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup flour
4 cups sour cherries
Dash salt
Unsalted butter


In bottom crust, mix and add 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons flour. Distribute evenly. Add cherries, remaining sugar and flour. Sprinkle a dash of salt over all. Top with butter cut into pieces. Cover with top crust. Sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20 minutes. Finish baking at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. To prevent crust from becoming too dark, cover the edges with foil when you reduce oven temperature.

A Letterman post just wouldn't be complete without David's Fried Baloney Sandwich!

Spring has Sprung and Easter is right around the corner. Dave's mom shares this recipe for Lilly Salad given to her by her friend named Virginia. The recipe comes from Virginia's mother, Katie, who always made it for Easter dinner and sometimes served it over Angel Food Cake. So retro!!!

Lilly Salad
1 pound miniature marshmallows (gee I wonder if peeps would work?)
4 large oranges, peeled and cut into pieces
1 large can pineapple chunks, drained

4 egg yolks
1 cup milk
1 cup pineapple juice
2 tbs. granulated sugar
2 tbs. flour

Whipped Cream
1 pint heavy cream
2 tbs. granulated sugar
In a large mixing bowl, mix the marshmallows and fruit. Set aside. Combine dressing ingredients in a medium saucepan, and cook over medium heat. Cool. Add to fruit. In separate bowl, beat cream and sugar to whipped consistency and fold into salad mixture. Place in your prettiest serving bowl and let stand overnight in refrigerator. This salad will keep for several days. Makes 8-10 servings.

FYI: Today is also National Licorice Day! Don't believe me? Here's how to celebrate from Licorice International!
1. David Letterman Trivia and Quotes
2. How to Get Late Show with David Letterman Tickets
3. David Letterman Trivia
4. David Michael Letterman
5. Fun Facts About David Letterman
6. David Letterman @ Turner Classic Movies
7. Letterman Image (courtesy of wiki)
8. Aunt Bee's Mayberry Cookbook

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cooking with Catfish Hunter

Today, I would quickly like to share one of my "sports" cookbooks with you. The title is Cooking with Catfish Hunter, published in 1988. Although the name Catfish Hunter may drum up memorable baseball memories for some, others may suspect that we are about to embark on a catfish fishing trip. No. I may have worn more than my fair share of little league coach hats (the kids use to call me coach smurfette; not kidding:) and team mom chauffeur nameplates, I don't do catfish fishing; never have, never will, I suspect.

I first became "acquainted" with Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher James Augustus Hunter when my son John was but a toddler. He took a liking to baseball at a very young age and to be perfectly honest, the roster of sports enthusiasm has continued to grow through the years. Thankfully, my fabulous daughter-in-law, Kyla, just goes with it...It wasn't long before John became a huge Yankees fan, as did I. (Just for the record, Michele is a Mets fan:)

I chose today to share a few recipes from Cooking with Catfish Hunter because, according to biography.com, James Augustus Hunter, Catfish to fans, was born on April 8, 1946. I found the scoop on his "fishy" nickname at The Baseball Hall of Fame.

Cooking with Catfish Hunter
Jim Hunter’s parents christened him James Augustus Hunter on April 8, 1946. Nineteen years later he made it to the big leagues and his colorful new boss, A’s owner Charlie Finley (nickname: Charley O), took it upon himself to give his future star a more memorable tag, complete with back-story. As a boy growing up in rural North Carolina, the tale went, young Jim returned home from fishing with a very impressive catch—thus earning him his famous nickname. Almost no baseball fan (or, very likely, any of his teammates) ever knew Jim Hunter as anything but Catfish. The name and the fable followed him throughout his career and all the way to Cooperstown.

When the time came for his induction into the Hall of Fame, Catfish was so torn between his allegiance to his two former teams, the Athletics and the Yankees, he chose to enter the Hall of Fame with a cap bearing no team insignia at all. In the end, his baseball nickname was so enduring that it outlasted his uniform.

Although there are scores of celebrity websites that pay homage to Catfish Hunter, very few, if any, mention the fact that he had diabetes. He was also author of two cookbooks; Catfish Hunter's Southern Cookbook, Cooking with "Catfish" Hunter; Tasty Recipes for People with Diabetes and a memoir; Catfish: My Life in Baseball.

I usually do a quick google search before posting cookbook recipes to avoid duplicating a recipe. Many times, it's difficult to sidestep a recipe due to its popularity or just because the internet may just be the largest virtual cookbook in the world! (The newest mammoth print cooking book I know of was recently released in March of 2011. Entitled Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, it is six-volumes, 2,438-pages and comes with a hefty price. Here's the official website.) Back to Catfish...

The first recipe I would like to share is for Seventh Game Soup in essence, a Black Bean Soup. Oh, I know, soup season should have been over about a month ago here in PA but while I was researching a choice recipe, this recipe was requested on so many message boards and websites I just had to post it in hope the person seeking it will find it. (Sorry, I don't post on message boards)

Seventh Game Soup Black Bean Soup
A rich soup of South American origin, this is almost a meal in itself. The combination of quickly sauteed onions, garlic, celery and peppers is called a sofrito. Add fresh or drained cannedtomatoes to it if they don't appear elsewhere on your menu. The vegetables are a good source of vitamin A and C, and the black beans are very high in fiber. You can double the recipe and freeze in individual portions.
1 cup dried black beans
1 quart chicken stock
1 quart water
2 bay leaves
2 tbs. safflower oil
1 large onion chopped
2 celery stalks, with leaves, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 each of small red, green and yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1-1/2 tbs. balsamic or red wine vinegar
1/2 cup low fat yogurt
2 to 3 tbs. chopped fresh parsley or coriander
freshly ground pepper to taste

Soak beans overnight in water to cover. Drain beans and place in soup kettle. Add broth, water, black pepper and bay leaves, place over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat, partially cover and cook at a simmer for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, or until beans are tender. Thirty minutes before beans are done, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until vegetables have softened slightly. Stir in red, green and yellow bell peppers and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add sauteed vegetables, red pepper flakes, basil and vinegar to beans and stir well. Cook until beans are soft but vegetables still have some crunch. Ladle into soup bowls, place a dollop of yogurt in center of each bowl and sprinkle with chopped parsley or coriander. Makes 6 cups, serving 4.

Next up we have a Home Plate Special; Chicken Kebabs.

Home Plate Special; Chicken Kebabs
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
Mint-Yogurt Marinade
1 cup plain low fat yogurt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1-1/2 tbs. olive oil
3 to 4 tbs. chopped fresh mint
2 garlic cloves
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
Orange-Dill Marinade
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp. grated orange rind
Dash hot pepper sauce
1-1/2 tbs. chopped fresh dill
2 garlic cloves
1 scallion
Vinaigrette Marinade
Juice of 1 lemon
1-1/2 tbs. olive or safflower oil
1 tbs. soy sauce
Dash hot pepper sauce
2 shallots or 1 small onion
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried rosemary, or oregano
To prepare chicken, remove and discard all fat, cut chicken into long 1-inch-wide strips, or into 1-1/2 inch cubes, and place in bowl.
To prepare any of the marinades, place all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend until garlic or shallots are chopped fine. Pour over chicken and mix ingredients well. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat broiler. Thread chicken on skewers and broil 3-1/2 to 4 inches from heat source for 4 to 5 minutes, without turning, until chicken is cooked and lightly browned. Serves 4.

Catfish Hunter passed away in 1999 from Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He was 53 years old.

"While Hunter's feats on the mound have earned him a place in baseball history, he will also be remembered for what he did off the mound. Hunter was an ace pitcher, to be sure, but he was also an ace of a human being, whose down-home farm boy personality endeared him to the hearts of many. Years after his retirement, he remained a household name. After being diagnosed with ALS, Hunter struck back and founded the Jim "Catfish" Hunter ALS Foundation hoping to use his name as a baseball Hall of Famer to raise awareness about the disease and raise funds for research and for ALS patients. In this way, Hunter hoped to "strike out" the disease, just as he did so many batters. Even after he'd lost control of most of his body, Hunter continued in the fight to raise funds for his cause. His widow continues today. Though Hunter is gone, his foundation and his feats on the mound live on. (source)

FYI: Today is National Empanada Day! Yes, I shared a few recipes way back in 2008 when I first started this blog. Perhaps that's why no one left a comment. Perhaps?

"For the ninth year in a row, the town of Celebration, Florida will become the Pie Capital of the World on April 9th & 10th 2011 when thousands of pie lovers, tasters and bakers gather together for the Great American Pie Festival sponsored by Crisco®."

1. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
2. Card Corner: Jim “Catfish” Hunter

Sunday, April 3, 2011

It's Chocolate Mousse Day!!!

Gooey desserts were a specialty of the sixties. I know, I was there:) That's about the same time mousses hit the scene. A hostess was sure to make an impression on her guests if she offered a mousse, whether it be savory, sweet or jellied, in her dining repertoire. If a guest politely requested the recipe, all the better.

By definition, mousse is a French word which literally translates to "foam" or "froth." In French, mousse means moss and is called such because of its spongy consistency. In culinary language, mousse is a rich, airy, spongy preparation which can be either savory, or sweet, hot or cold. In its most basic form, a mousse only requires three key ingredients; the base, the binder and the aerator to elevate it to its whipped texture. Eggs combined with cream is a popular combination of ingredients in mousse recipes, whether you are preparing a salmon mousse recipe or a sweet one, and gelatin is often used to bind the mousse, although eggs can do that job without the addition of gelatin. Beaten egg whites give hot mousses their lightness. Fish such as salmon is frequently used in savory mousse recipes, but meat cheese, or even vegetables can be used. These are often cooked in a bain-marie or water bath, to discourage the mousse from cracking or curdling. Savory mousse recipes are often served with some kind of sauce to bring out the mousse flavor. Similar to pâtés or terrines, mousse is usually served on a platter or in individual portions to make an attractive display. Sweet mousse can range from thick and creamy to light and fluffy depending on how it is prepared. They are perfect for either a formal or informal presentation. And, since they usually need to sit for a couple of hours or over night, they are a wonderful make ahead recipe.

Mousse may not be the dish for anyone with concerns about using raw eggs. There are a few options:
1. Use liquid pasteurized egg whites
2. Reconstitute powdered egg whites
3. Use meringue powder
4. Buy (hard-to-find) pasteurized eggs or TEXT make your own. (surprisingly easy:)
5. Prepare a safe meringue where the egg whites are cooked to 160 degrees before being beaten until stiff and cool. Here's the recipe courtesy of Ochef

The New Safe Meringue 
From Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts, by Alice Medrich.
Safe Meringue can be used place of ordinary meringue in old recipes. These include uncooked desserts such as mousse, Bavarian cream, and ice cream, as well as soft meringues for pie topping and Baked Alaska where a short baking or browning period may not be enough to heat the meringue thoroughly.
2 Tbsp water 
1/8 tsp cream of tartar 
2 egg whites 
4 Tbsp sugar
Bring 1 inch of water to a gentle simmer in a large skillet. Combine the 2 tsp water with the cream of tartar in a 4- to 6-cup stainless steel bowl. Add the egg whites and sugar and whisk together briskly to combine ingredients thoroughly and break up the egg white clots (which have a tendency to scramble first.) Place an instant-read thermometer near the stove in a mug of very hot tap water.

Set bowl of egg whites in skillet. Stir mixture briskly and constantly with a rubber spatula, scraping the sides and bottom often to avoid scrambling the whites. After 1 minute, remove bowl from skillet. Quickly insert thermometer, tilting bowl to cover stem by at least 2 inches. If less than 160°F (70°C), rinse thermometer in skillet water and return it to mug. Replace bowl in skillet. Stir as before until temperature reaches 160°F when bowl is removed. Beat on high speed until cool and stiff.

Note:There are actually lots of recipes for mousse out there that use both raw whites and raw yolks. Traditionally —a hundred-plus years ago — the yolks were ribboned with a hot sugar syrup because the sugar was too coarse to use without melting it. The use of the syrup has staged a come-back in recent years as it can bring the yolks to a temperature where potentially harmful bacteria are destroyed.

Elizabeth David's chocolate mousse is one of my personal favorites where as others may prefer Julia's Child's which to me seems to be a bit more ingredient heavy. I've left a link to her recipe and others below.

Since April is National Pecan Month and today is Chocolate Mousse Day, I offer this recipe from The Taste of Home Cooking School 50th Anniversary Cookbook for your enjoyment.

Chocolate Mousse & Praline Pie
This tempting dessert stars a sugary pecan layer topped with a rich and airy chocolate mousse. It's all nestled in a homemade chocolate crumb crust.
1-1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
6 tbs. baking cocoa
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
6 tbs. butter, melted
Praline Layer:
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbs. granulated
1 tbs. cornstarch
2 tbs. water
2/3 cup chopped pecans
Chocolate Mousse:
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 tbs. cold water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 cup whipping cream, chilled
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Whipping cream
Pecan halves
For Crust:
Combine crumbs, cocoa and confectioners' sugar, stir in butter. Press into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes, cool on wire rack.
For Praline Layer:
Melt butter, remove from heat and stir in brown sugar. Blend granulated sugar and cornstarch; add with water to brown sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until bubbly. Remove from heat; stir in pecans. Pour into crust; refrigerate (do not cover).
For Mousse:
Sprinkle gelatin over cold water; let stand 1 minute to soften. Add boiling water; stir until gelatin is completely dissolved and mixture is clear. In a small mixing bowl, combine sugar, cocoa, whipping cream and vanilla. Beat until stiff; add gelatin mixture and beat just until blended. Carefully spread over praline layer. Chill several hours. Garnish with whipping cream and pecan halves. 6-8 servings

I just couldn't serve up Chocolate Mousse Day without at least one picture for you to drool over. Here it is, Chocolate & Creamy Orange Mousse from Hershey.

Chocolate & Creamy Orange Mousse
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk), divided
2 tbs. orange juice plus 2 tsp. freshly grated orange peel OR 2 tbs. orange flavored liqueur, divided
2 cups cold whipping cream
1. Melt butter in heavy saucepan over low heat, add cocoa, then 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk, stirring until smooth and slightly thickened. Pour mixture into medium bowl; cool to room temperature. Beat in 1 tbs. orange juice and 1 tsp. orange peel.
2. Beat whipping cream in large bowl until stiff. Fold half of whipped cream into chocolate mixture. In second medium bowl, stir together remaining sweetened condensed milk, remaining 1 tbs. orange juice and 1 tsp. orange peel. Fold in remaining whipped cream.
3. Spoon equal portions of chocolate mousse mixture into 8 dessert dishes, making a depression in center of each. Spoon creamy orange mixture into center of each. Refrigerate until well chilled. Garnish as desired. Cover; refrigerate leftover dessert.

Tomorrow (April 4th) is Chocolate Milk Powder Day. Here's a "taste" from a previous post I did way back in 2008.

Van Houten Process

I would also like to share a recipe for "Cold Cocoa" from Van Houten The recipe reads, "In summer always keep a bottle of chocolate syrup handy in the icebox. Stir 1-1/2 tablespoonfuls (or more according to taste) into a glass of cold milk. This makes a delightfully refreshing and nourishing drink. Kids love it and so do many grown-ups."

Ice Box Chocolate Syrup
2 cups Van Houten Cocoa
1 qt. water
5 cups sugar
1/4 level tsp. salt, vanilla to flavor
Mix cocoa and sugar together dry. Put salt in water and bring to boiling point. (the use of a double boiler is recommended.) Gradually work in the cocoa-sugar mixture. Bring back to boiling point (stirring constantly to avoid scorching) and boil 2 minutes. Turn off heat. Strain, put in covered container and cool rapidly. Add vanilla when cool.
For glass of rich chocolate milk, mix 1 part of chocolate syrup to 10 parts of fresh milk. Excellent for children, for an afternoon snack...convenient, economical, and safe. Excellent as a sauce for ice cream, for chocolate sundaes, for topping mousses, gelatin desserts etc.
War Time Suggestion: For chocolate syrups, sugar may be replaced by half sugar and half corn syrup.

One more thing before I go. April 6th is the birthday of another classic, The Twinkie!!! Happy Birthday Twinkies!

1. Eggs & Food Safety
2. Julia Child’s Perfect Chocolate Mousse Recipe
3. Gordon Ramsay's Four-minute Chocolate Mousse
4. Daniel Boulud's Chocolate Mousse

Friday, April 1, 2011

April is Bursting with Food Celebrations!

In April in old calendars is drawn
A gallant hawker, pacing on a lawn,
Holding a bell'd and hooded fowl of prey,
Ready to loose him in the airy way,
For daily now, ascends the solar beam,
And the warm earth seems in waking dream;
Insects creep out, leaves burst, and flowers rise.
And buds enchant the woods and wing the skies...

Edmund Spenser

April is bursting with food celebrations. I better get to them, quick!

April is National Fresh Celery Month. Okay, so it slipped my mind to mention March was just plain ol' Celery Month, beat me with a wet noodle:) "What's exciting about celery," you ask. Well, Miranda, asked me the same question a while back and for those of you who didn't see my answer, here it is.

Pecans seem to have a few celebrations throughout the course of the year. March 25th was National Pecan Day and, April is National Pecan Month! I harvested this gem of a recipe for Southern Pecan Granola from Cross Creek Kitchens. Here's a bit of pecan trivia for you, "No two pecans have the same markings on their shells. Each one is as unique as a fingerprint." How cool is that!!!
Cross Creek Kitchens
Southern Pecan Granola
12 cups rolled oats
1 cup unprocessed bran
3 cups chopped pecans
2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup light oil
1 cup can syrup or light molasses
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a very large bowl, mix oats, bran, pecans, and coconut. In a saucepan, mix oil, cane syrup, and honey and heat until warm and well blended. Do not boil. Stir in vanilla.
Pour liquid ingredients over dry and mix thoroughly. Spread mixture 1/2 inch thick on greased cookie sheet.
Bake 10 minutes, turn in sections and bake 5 minutes longer. Cool on waxed paper. Sore in glass jars. Makes about 18 cups.

It's been a long time since I celebrated National Grilled Cheese Month in April. I think it's high time I do a quick links post don't you? Any grilled cheese sandwich links you'd like to share? I'd be thrilled to post them on National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, April 12th! In the mean time, find out how to make grilled cheese with an everyday iron and then hurry back and feast your eyes on this intriguing Brie & Basil Grilled Cheese on Chocolate Bread courtesy of Kathy @ Panini Happy. Thanks Kathy!!!

April is National Soft Pretzel Month @ Slashfood and April 26th is Pretzel Day! (previous post)

I've never attempted to celebrate National Soyfoods Month which also happens to be in April. I may need to remedy that situation this year. For instance, did you know John Harvey Kellogg (as in Kellogg's cereal) was a pioneer in the soy foods industry? Gee, I wonder if that explains the commercialization of Soy? As much as I appreciate soy's nutritional and medicinal versatility, I'm not too crazy about the latest "Silk instead of Milk campaign. Just my humble opinion:)

April is Fresh Florida Tomato Month. Watch for them in the stores. I've seen florida strawberries that are looking pretty good. Of course it could be I'm simply dying for both:)

April is National Applesauce Month. I have no complaints stemming from Applesauce Month. Next to home made applesauce, Mott's works for me. I use applesauce in many of my every day meals. It's an excellent fat substitute in many recipes. The next time you bake a cake from one of those box mixes, substitute applesauce for the oil. Surprisingly, there isn't usually an aftertaste of applesauce in the final presentation and if nothing else, it works great if you happen to be low on oil or just in the mood to experiment. Don't laugh, but I also always add a bit of applesauce when I prepare meat loaf. (I usually add oatmeal too but don't tell Marion:) It seems to make the meat loaf just a tad more moist with just the right amount of sweetness. Try it, you'll like it and please let me know one way or the other:) Here's a recipe to kick-off Applesauce Month. I found it in a Mott's recipe book titled A Better Way to Bake Delicious Low Fat Recipes. (1995) You may want to prepare it for National Coffee Cake Day, April 7th!!!

Apple Sauce Coffee Ring
1 pkg. active dry yeast (or equivalent)
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water (105°-115° F)
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup Mott's Natural Applesauce
1 egg
2 tbs. margarine, melted and cooled
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
5 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. skim milk

1-1/2 cups Mott's Chunky Applesauce
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbs. skim milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1. To prepare bread:
In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar over warm water, stir until yeast dissolves. Let stand 5 minutes or until mixture is bubbly. Stir in 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup applesauce, remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar, egg, margarine, salt and lemon peel.

2. Stir in flour, 1 cup at a time, until soft dough forms. Turn out dough onto floured surface; flatten slightly. Knead 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding any remaining flour to prevent sticking if necessary. Shape dough into ball; place in large bowl sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Turn dough over so the top is greased. Cover with damp towel, let rise in warm place 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

3. Punch down dough. Roll out dough on floured surface into 15-inch square. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

4. To prepare Filling:
In a small bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups apple sauce, raisins, brown sugar and cinnamon. Spread filling over dough, to within 1/2 inch of edges. Roll up dough jelly-roll style. Moisten edges with water; pinch to seal seam, Moisten ends of dough with water, bring together to form a ring. Pinch to seal seam. Place on prepared baking sheet. Make 1/8 inch deep cuts across width of dough at 2-inch intervals around ring.

5. Let dough rise in warm place, uncovered, 30 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush top lightly with 1 teaspoon milk.

7. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until lightly browned and ring sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from baking sheet; cool completely on wire rack.

8. To prepare Glaze:
In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle over top of ring. Cut into 24 slices. Makes 24 servings.

Ed Note: As written, each per serving in this recipe contains 170 calories, 1.3g total fat, 110mg sodium and 10mg of cholesterol.

And finally, as monthly food celebrations go in April of 2011, we have Grange Month. I didn't know very much about the history of the country's oldest general and rural public interest organization rooted in agricultural until I did a post for Grange Month back in 2009. The history is quite fascinating. I'll just leave the link below in case you want to visit or just grab some of the Grange Cookbook recipes I shared like this one below, a personal favorite of mine and my Thursday night card playing son:)

Hot Onion Snacks

3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons salad dressing or mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
10-12 thin shredded whole wheat wafers
2 drops tabasco sauce
dash of pepper

Mix onion, salad dressing, salt, paprika, pepper and tabasco sauce in a small bowl.
Spread on wafers. Place on broiler pan under broiler unit so snacks are 3-4 inches from the broiler unit.
Cooking Time: 5 minutes Servings: 10-12

The month of April has become a time for those of Thai heritage to celebrate their heritage. Thai Heritage Month is organized around Thai New Year -- known as Songkran -- and the traditional Water Festival. The festival's characteristic tradition of throwing water at others is linked to the new year and its underlying significance is one of cleansing and purification.
I'll be back on Sunday, Chocolate Mousse Day, with next week's tasty delights. Now don't forget, the great Brillat-Savarin, author of La Physiologie du gout was born on April 1st. A fine tribute to him would be in the baking of his cake, Savarin. April 1st is also National Sour Dough Bread Day. (I know I really should get around to baking some kind of bread. Me and my yeastaphobia:) Here's another heads-up I know one Culinary Type will want to be reminded about, April 2nd is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day. "Celebrate by chowing down on a delicious PB&J sandwich while reading these 10 facts." Sunday is also Mothering Sunday in the UK. Closely associated with Mother's Day, on Mothering Sunday or Mid-Lent Sunday the traditional fare is Simnel Cake. I posted a recipe for Simnel Cakes for Mothering Sunday a while back if you would like to read about the tradition or just "grab" the recipe, go here.

Just in case I don't make it back until the fourth, have your chocolate milk powder ready because April 4th is Chocolate Milk Powder Day!!! Really:)

1. Celery Wins For Best Supporting Vegetable
2. Cross Creek Revisited (previous post)
3. Grilled Cheese Month (The history in a previous post)
4. Topsy Turvy (A previous April Fool's Day post with Humpty Dumpty Cake:)
5. The Loves of Brillat-Savarin (previous post)
6. Grange Month

Have a GREAT weekend, Louise:)