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14 posts from October 2013

10/31/2013

~ Styrian-Style Pumpkin Seed Oil Salad Dressing ~

IMG_5246The first time I ever heard of pumpkin seed oil, or tasted food made using pumpkin seed oil as an ingredient was last October 20th.  It was, believe it or not, right here in the heart of downtown State College, PA, at: Herwig's Austrian Bistro located at 132 W. College Avenue.  Yes folks, classic, authentic Austrian food is indeed alive, well, and thriving in this family-owned, cafeteria-style eatery, and, thanks to the owner, Herwig "Brandy" Branstatter, his pastry chef wife Gundi, and, chef son Bernd, I got a crash course in Austrian culinary history as well a fantastic meal!

IMG_3137 IMG_3148 IMG_3168 IMG_3249

 

 

 

 

Everything is made on premise from scratch daily (soups, breads, salads, main courses and desserts), and, when they sell out of something, it gets erased from the chalkboard menu.  By the way, everything truly tastes as good as it looks.  During the course of our conversation that afternoon, I commented on how remarkable their cole slaw and potato salad tasted.  

IMG_3117Brandy went back to the kitchen and returned with a bottle of pumpkin seed oil. He explained that it was native to his country but had recently become available locally at our Wegman's market.  He told us this 'secret ingredient' gets drizzled onto soups and/or vegetables, used as a dip for breads, mixed into salad dressings, incorporated into salads (like the potato salad and cole slaw I had just eaten), and, adds a nutty flavor to desserts too.  

I went to Wegman's and bought a bottle of pumpkin seed oil the very next day!

Dscn4849 ImagesA bit about pumpkin seed oil: Pumpkin seed oil is derived from cold-pressing the roasted, hulled, green seeds of the Styrian pumpkin (a region that encompasses southeast Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary). Cultivation began in the 1600's, but not for the pumpkin itself.  While this pumpkin is not edible (it's pulp is IMG_5232used as fertilizer), farmers found out the seeds (which are full of vitamins, minerals and unsaturated fatty acids) had incredible health benefits. Harvested by hand every Fall, the seeds are washed, dried, roasted and cold-pressed under high pressure.  The result is a rich, light to dark green oil with an intensely nutty flavor.  When used as a cooking oil, while it still imparts a nutty flavor, it quickly loses most of its nutritional value, so, its almost always combined with another oil when cooking with it.  

Tips from Mel:  A little bit of pumpkin seed oil goes a long way, so use it judiciously, just to taste, and, for a longer shelf life, keep it stored in the refrigerator!

IMG_5224

1/2  cup  white wine vinegar

1/4  cup pumpkin seed oil

1/4  cup vegetable oil

1/4  cup honey

1  tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/8  teaspoon sea salt

1/4  teaspoon white pepper

~ Step 1.  In a 2-cup container with a tight-fitting lid, place all ingredients.  Vigorously shake until thoroughly combined.  Set aside while preparing your favorite salad. Note:  Leftover dressing can be stored in the refrigerator indefinitely. Return to room temperature prior to vigorously shaking and serving!

Oh, and by the way:  Happy Halloween!!!

IMG_5240Styrian-Style Pumpkin Seed Oil Salad Dressing:  Recipe yields 1 1/4 cups salad dressing.

Special Equipment List:  2-cup measuring container w/tight-fitting lid & pourer top

6a0120a8551282970b017c32a50852970bCook's Note:  To get an in depth look at Herwig's and read a great family success story, click into Category 25 to read my post ~ Around Town:  Mel Visits Herwig's Austrian Bistro ~!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)

10/28/2013

~ For Fall: Apple Butter, Caramelized Onion 'n Apple, Spanish Iberico Pork Secreto & Manchego Crostini ~

IMG_5177Here we are at the end of October -- the season of short days and long nights.  In Happy Valley (Central PA), brisk and chilly has turned to windy and cold, and, the light morning dew has turned to heavy frost.  Steaming hot, comforting, hearty fare is on my dinner table almost every evening.  Even appetizers like crostini are 'bigger' -- more like a small meal than a light snack! 

IMG_5018As I mentioned in my last blog post ~ Pan-Seared Iberico Pork Secreto (Secret) ~, October is/has been National Pork Month.  I typically don't get involved with the daily, weekly or monthly food holidays (created by American manufacturers to give their industry a boost), but, I do love pork and I did go hog wild this October, concentrating on these three recipes for thin cut chops and pork:  

~ The Art of Frying the Perfect "Skinny" Pork Chop ~, and, ~ Smothered with Love:  Pork Chops w/Onion Gravy ~.  To get all three recipes, just click on the Related Article links below!     

IMG_5174October here in Happy Valley is also the height of college football season, more specifically, Penn State football.  Depending on the circumstances, it is not unusual for us to entertain friends on a Friday evening before the game, at a Saturday tailgate for the game, or, on a Sunday the day after. This hearty, flavor-packed, manly appetizer, is one of my husband's favorites.  Pork is not usually associated with crostini, but, over the years, I've found pork tenderloin to be a much tastier alternative than chicken for these beloved snacks.  I am using my leftover pan-seared Iberico pork to make these today, but, feel free to substitute pork tenderloin without compromise!

IbericoA bit about Iberico pork:  It comes from the Iberico breed of pig, known a "black-footed pig", which is raised almost exclusively in Spain.  The pigs roam in pastures and oak groves, feasting on natural grass, herbs and LOTS of acorns.  Acorns are rich in oleic acid, the same found in olive oil, and because pigs do not convert fat, the oleic component makes their highly-marbled, rosy, melt-in-your mouth meat, high in mono-unsaturated fat.

Note:  To get a lot more Iberico pork facts and information, you can read my post from last year, ~ The New Meaning of "Outstanding":  Iberico Pork ~, by clicking in Categories 3, 10, 16 or 21!

IMG_4881Before making the crostini (the toasts) and pan-searing the pork, one component needs to be prepared first:  ~ Sweet (& Savory) Caramelized Onions and Apples ~. These are easy to make, and, you can prepare them 3-4 days in advance too.  Click on the Related Article link below to get my recipe!

One more minor foodie detail: People always ask me this question, so, before we proceed any farther with this post, allow me to take just a moment to answer it:

What is the difference between bruschetta and crostini?

PICT1438Bruschetta (pronounced broo-skeh-tah) means "oiled slice" in Italian and comes from the word "bruscare" (pronounced broo-scar-ay), which means "to roast over coals".  Bruschetta is the original garlic toast.  Its preparation is so simple, it really requires no formal instructions.  Traditionally, large, thick slices of firm crusty bread are toasted over an open wood fire, rubbed with plenty of fresh garlic while they are still warm, generously drizzled with the finest olive oil available, sprinkled with salt and pepper, then served warm. They are classically topped with fresh basil, tomatoes, and buffalo-milk mozzarella, but, when paper-thin slices of Italian meats, cheeses and vegetables (grilled, roasted or marinated) are added, they can actually turn into a pretty hearty knife-and-fork meal!

Crostini in Italian simply means "toast", which means it doesn't always end up drizzled with olive oil and rubbed with garlic.  Just like bruschetta, crostini are topped with any number of savory toppings.  Unlike bruschetta, they are usually made using smaller, long and thin-shaped bread, like a baguette or a batard.  Crostini are always served as a snack or an appetizer before a meal, or, an accompaniment to the meal.  In the case of both bruschetta and crostini, any size, color or flavor of bread can be used, but, it must be of a firm texture and have a good crust!

It's time to make the toasts!

PICT1404For the toasts I'm making today, I am using 2, 12-ounce batards and 2 sticks of salted butter, at room temperature, the softer the better.

A French batard is first cousin to the baguette.  Batards are shorter than baguettes and a bit plumper, which gives my crostini the perfect surface area for any and all toppings.

PICT1405~ Step 1.  To prepare the toasts, cut each batard into approximately 20, 1/2"-thick slices.

Place the bread slices, in a single layer, on 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans that have been lined with parchment paper.

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Note:  I was entertaining yesterday, so I made quite a few.  Cut the recipe in half for a smaller amount!

~ Step 2.  Preheat the broiler and position the oven rack 7"-8" underneath it.

Spread an even layer of softened butter on each slice of bread (on the top side only).

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~ Step 3.  Place pan of bread slices into preheated broiler.  Broil until the slices are lightly browned and bubbly on the first side, about 2 1/2-3 minutes.

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~ Step 4.  Remove from oven and flip slices over.  Return to broiler and continue to broil until slices are browned on the second side, 1 1/2-2 minutes.  Note:  The second sides do not get buttered.

Remove from oven and transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.  In the case of this recipe (because toasts will be returned to the broiler after they are topped), they can be prepared 1-2 days in advance of serving.  Store in an airtight container or cover with plastic wrap.

It's time to pan-sear the pork & make the crostini!

PICT2692For every 1 batard or 20 crostini:

20 toasts, prepared as directed above, from 1, 12-ounce batard

2  14-16-ounce Iberico pork secreto 'steaks', at room temperature, pork tenderloin may be substituted

freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend

4  tablespoons butter, and,  4 tablespoons olive oil

IMG_51351  cup apple butter + 1/2 cup additional apple butter for garnishing finished crostini

1  cup caramelized onions and apples, prepared as directed in recipe

1 cup grated Manchego (mahn-CHAY-goh) cheese (Note: This is Spain's most famous cheese and so named because it was originaly made exclusively with the milk from Manchego sheep that grazed the plains of La Mancha.  It is sometimes called the cheese of Don Quixote!)

IMG_5055~ Step 1.  Rinse the pork, pat it dry, and season the top with the sea salt and peppercorn blend.

~ Step 2.  In a 12" skillet, place the butter and olive oil over medium heat, until the butter is melted. Increase heat to medium-high to not quite scorching hot.  Add the pork, seasoned side down, season the unseasoned side with S&P and saute until first sides are golden IMG_5064brown, about 2 minutes.

... DO NOT OVERCOOK THIS PORK!!!  Error on the side of undercooking it.

IMG_5060Note:  If you have one of those fine mesh spatter shields, use it.  Why?  If your pork isn't spattering, you're heat isn't hot enough.

IMG_5123~ Step 3.  Flip the pork over and cook it on the second side until golden, about 2 more minutes.

IMG_5089~ Step 4. Remove from heat, place the pork on a cutting board and allow to rest, about 5 minutes, prior to:

Holding your chef's knife at a 30 degree angle, thinly slice the pork.  I like it sliced less than 1/4" thick.

IMG_1177 IMG_1164~ Step 5. Spread the 1 cup of apple butter evenly atop the toasts.  Reserve the remaining 1/2 cup of apple butter for topping the finished crostini.

~ Step 6.  Distribute the 1 cup of caramelized onions and apples over the apple butter on each toast.

IMG_5140~ Step 7.  Distribute the sliced pork on top of the crostini.  Pile it high, don't pack it down.

IMG_5158~ Step 8. Distribute the cheese on top of the meat.  Pile it even higher and don't pack it down! Note:  The lighter and airier you assemble these, the more succulent they are going to be!

IMG_5168~ Step 9. One pan at a time, broil until cheese is melted and lightly browned, about 2 minutes.  Watch carefully as the Manchego can and will go from browned to burned quickly.

Transfer to a warmed platter and serve immediately (they are best hot out of the oven or warm) with a dollop of the remaining apple butter garnishing the top of each:

Do not hesitate, pick one up and take a bite!

IMG_5202And another and another and so on... until it's gone!

IMG_5210For Fall:  Apple Butter, Caramelized Onion 'n Apple, Spanish Iberico Pork  Secreto & Manchego Crostini:  Recipe yields 20-40 appetizers.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; serrated bread knife; 1-2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; 1-2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" cooling racks; parchment paper; 12" skillet; chef's knife; cheese grater 

PICT1545Cook's Note:  For another scrumptious crostini recipe, and, the perfect vegetarian compliment to today's meaty, manly one, ~ Mediterranean-Style Roasted Vegetable Crostini ~, can be found in Categories 1 or 14!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013) 

10/25/2013

~ Pan-Seared Spanish Iberico Pork Secreto (Secret)~

IMG_5018October is/has been National Pork Month, an American 'holiday' created by the hog producers to give their industry a boost, and there is nothing wrong with that.  I love pork, and, this year on Kitchen Encounters, I concentrated my October pork posts on my favorite recipes for thin-cut pork chops.  I showed you ~ The Art of Frying the Perfect "Skinny" Pork Chop ~, then, I made a Southern classic ~ Smothered with Love:  Pork Chops w/Onion Gravy ~.  You can read both by clicking on the Related Article links below.  I have purposefully saved my best for last: 

IMG_5011Iberico pork:  The best kept secret in the porcine world!

PICT2692Thanks to my close friend and Nittany Lion Inn chef, Jamison Steffen, I have access to many fine and exotic ingredients that would otherwise not be available to me in my local Central Pennsylvania markets.  Iberico pork (the Kobe beef of the pork world), is one of them.  Last year, Jami introduced me to Iberico pork in general, and more specifically, "secreto", which is a cut that is hard to locate on the hog itself, hence the name "secret".

IbericoA bit about Iberico pork:  It comes from the Iberico breed of pig, known as a "black-footed pig", which is raised almost exclusively in Spain. The pigs roam in pastures and oak groves, feasting on natural grass, herbs and LOTS of acorns. Acorns are rich in oleic acid, the same found in olive oil, and because pigs do not convert fat, the oleic component makes their highly-marbled, rosy, melt-in-your-mouth meat, high in mono-unsaturated fat.

Note:  To get a lot more Iberico pork facts and information, you can read my post from last year ~ The New Meaning of "Outstanding":  Iberico Pork ~, by clicking in Categories 3, 10, 16 or 21!

Secreto_1According to COVAP, a cooperative of farmers headquartered in Pozoblanco (Cordoba), Spain, the "secreto" is a fan-shaped piece of muscle obtained from the top front of the pork belly which is initially covered in belly fat (which makes it a hard cut of meat to locate).  Once trimmed, as you can see from the photos, the exposed muscle itself contains streaks of light, creamy fat marbled throughout, which makes it ideal for quick, high-heat methods of preparation: 

Last year I grilled secreto for you -- this year I'm pan-searing it!

800px-Iberico_Pig_(shoulder_and_fillet)I realize that even via the internet, pricey Iberico pork is really hard to procure, but, I don't want you miss a great dinner, or, not learn a new cooking technique. This is a great way to cook an inexpensive pork shoulder blade steak too!

IMG_4934 IMG_4928~ Step 1. This 14-16-ounce, room temperature secreto 'steak' has been rinsed and patted dry, and, isn't getting any fancy marinade or dry rub.  Why? If cooked properly (very quickly over high heat for less than 5 minutes) it requires no tenderizing (the fat dissolves almost instantly and tenderizes it naturally). Plus, I don't want any spices bastardizing its one-of-a-kind flavor (the flavor of the fat).  Instead, it's getting the royal treatment. 

Pure and simple:  freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend is the best!

IMG_4943~ Step 2.  In a 12" skillet, place

4  tablespoons salted butter

4 tablespoons olive oil

over medium heat, until butter is melted.  Increase heat to medium-high to not quite scorching high.

Add the pork to the skillet, seasoned side down, season the unseasoned side with salt and pepper, and saute until first side is golden, about 2 minutes...

IMG_4952...  DO NOT OVERCOOK THIS PORK!!!  Error on the side of undercooking it.

IMG_4948Note:  If you happen to have one of those fine mesh spatter shield gadgets in your kitchen repertoire, now is the time to use it.  Why?  If your pork isn't spattering, you're heat isn't high enough!

IMG_4957~ Step 4.  Flip the pork over and cook it on the second side until golden, about 2 more minutes...

... REPEAT... DO NOT OVERCOOK THIS PORK!!!

IMG_4976~ Step 5. Remove from heat. Place the pork on a cutting board and allow to rest, about 5 minutes.

IMG_5123~ Step 6.  Holding your chef's knife at a 30 degree angle, thinly slice the pork. Place it on a warmed serving platter or individual serving dishes and serve immediately drizzled with the pan juices:

Disclaimer:  Technically, 14-16 ounces of meat serves two (or it should).  The truth be told:  this is so good, Joe and I can each eat almost an entire 'steak'.  I suggest cooking two in the same pan and enjoy a few leftovers the next day! 

IMG_5034Pan-Seared Spanish Iberico Pork Secreto (Secret):  Recipe yields 2 servings (sort of).

Special Equipment List:  12" skillet; spatter screen (optional); cutting board; chef's knife

IMG_4872 IMG_4908Cook's Note: I'm serving my Spanish pork secreto PA style:  

Placed on a bed of ~ Smashed Maple Sweet Potatoes ~ and topped with ~ Sweet (& Savory) Caramelized Onions & Apples ~, Fall colors and October pork never looked or tasted so good!

Both side dishes can be found by clicking into  Category 4! 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)

10/23/2013

~ Sweet (& Savory): Caramelized Onions & Apples ~

IMG_4881I am a professed onion lover.  I like all kinds, I like them served every way possible, and, I forgave them a long time ago for making me cry.  I like them raw or pickled in salads and on sandwiches, simmered in stocks or soups, roasted whole or diced and baked in casseroles, and, perhaps my favorite way, sauted to different degrees of doneness:  lightly-browned, browned or caramelized.  All types of onions contain a lot of sugar and slowly cooking them on the stovetop draws out their natural sweetness.  All fruit contains sugar and apples are at their peak right now here in Central PA.  Even if an apple a day didn't keep the doctor away I would eat one.  Never tried caramelized onions or caramelized apples?  You are in for a treat today!

PICT2268What makes caramelized onions and/or apples taste so good? 

IMG_0903The longer and slower they both cook, the sweeter they get. When lightly-browned or browned, they begin to take on a pleasant, nutty taste. When deep-golden or caramelized, these candy-sweet (& savory too) morsels can transform an ordinary dish to an extraordinary one. To learn what kind of onions caramelize the best and get a detailed explanation of how to do it, read my post ~ To Sweeten Your Life:  Caramelize some Onions ~ in Categories 4, 8, 15 or 20! 

IMG_3142Apples are caramelized the same way onions are, and, firm, tart ones, like Granny Smith, work the best. I sometimes like to caramelize them with a few raisins thrown in for added sweetness and texture (as pictured on the left).  Most people associate caramelized apples (and other fruits too) with dessert or dessert toppings.  I am here to tell you, they pair extremely well with savory dishes like pork too!

Allow me to point out that like "brown butter" (butter that is cooked to pale brown, or, the color of hazelnuts, also known as "beurre noisette" and meaning "hazelnut butter" in French), caramelized anything is neither new nor gourmet.  These are techniques our ancestors invented to enhance the flavor of otherwise bland and boring meat, fish, pasta and vegetable dishes.  No one has a "secret" recipe or "perfect" recipe (avoid people who say they do).  Every chef or cook makes them a bit differently because everyone of us likes them cooked a bit differently!

Caramelized Onions + Caramelized Apples = A Great Side Dish!

IMG_2575There is no greater symbol of Fall than apples (except for maybe pumpkins).  The first ones begin to ripen in the middle of Summer, but the best ones take their time to ripen -- accumulating a sweet and tart intensity into September and October.  When apple season hits its peak here in PA, this delicious side-dish finds it way to my dinner table often.  What do I like to serve it with? Always pork or pork chops.  I suppose it is no coincidence that National Pork Month is:  October!

Caramelizing onions and apples couldn't be easier, but, it can't be done in 15-20 minutes. You'll need to allow a good 35-45 minutes or longer, depending upon how many your are making, how you regulate the heat on your stove, and, on any given day, how caramelized (brown) you want them to be.  So, pour yourself a glass of wine or make a cocktail, put on some music or a movie on the kitchen TV, relax, stand by your stove and enjoy the experience!

IMG_4716Step 1.  Peel and slice:

4  generous cups 1/4"-thick sliced, "half-ring-shaped" Vidalia onions, or other sweet onion like Walla Walla, Maui or Texas Sweet

2  generous cups 1/4"-thick sliced Granny Smith apples

These are pictured in liquid measuring cups so you can see the thickness, which is important:

Note:  To insure even cooking, it is important to slice the apples and onions to a uniform thickness.  If you want them thicker, slice them all thicker.  You can even chop them if you prefer, as long as they are uniformly chopped.  Also, don't worry if your apples turn a little brown waiting to get added to the pan.  They are going to turn brown anyway when they caramelize!

IMG_4722~ Step 2.  In a 12" skillet, place

4  tablespoons salted butter

4  tablespoons olive oil

1  teaspoon sugar

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon white pepper

over low heat and stir until the butter has melted into the olive oil.

IMG_4732Add and stir in the onions until thoroughly combined. Do not add the apples at this time.  

IMG_4746~ Step 3.  Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have lost a lot of their moisture, are limp, and steamed through, about 5 minutes.

IMG_4750Add and stir the apples into the onion mixture until thoroughly combined.

IMG_4772 IMG_4763~ Step 4. Continue to cook, stirring frequently until the apples have lost their volume and are limp too, another 5 minutes.

~ Step 5.  Increase heat to medium high.  Cook, stirring frequently, another 10 minutes.  It's now that you are going to start to see what I refer to a "light browning".

IMG_4805 IMG_4820~ Step 6. Continue to cook, stirring more frequently, another 10 minutes.  Now the mixture is truly beginning to caramelize.

Note:  From this point, do not leave the stovetop.   The mixture will require constant stirring, and, can go from browned to burned quickly.

IMG_4832Step 7.  Today, my mixture cooked for another 10 minutes with me stirring constantly (for a total of 40 minutes from start to finish), before I deglazed the pan with:

1/4 cup white wine

Deglazing the pan is an important step that skyrockets this side-dish to stardom. By scraping the bottom of the pan after the wine is added, it loosens "the fond" or all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  These are some fine-looking caramelized onions and apples: 

IMG_4867Sweet & Savory:  Caramelized Onions & Apples:  Recipe yields 1 1/2-2 cups.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; vegetable peeler; 12" skillet; slotted spoon or spatula

IMG_2116Cook's Note:  Like apples, bananas are a fruit that are available to us in our markets all year long.  BYI:  I like bananas as much as I like apples, and, I eat one almost every day.  For a caramelized sweet treat side-dish, dessert or dessert topping, click into Categories 2, 6, 9 or 20 to get my recipe for ~ Caramelized Bananas:  A treat for any time of day! ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013) 

10/21/2013

~ Want buttery, 'pull-apart' rolls with dinner tonight? ~

IMG_4684Even though my three boys grew up calling these "Mom's Pull-Aparts", this is not my recipe. Back the 1980's (before home computers, the information super-highway or Food TV), moms in search of new recipe ideas often mailed a boxtop or two, and sometimes $1.00, to receive a booklet or pamphlet of recipes from that particular company.  I did that a lot back then.  This dinner roll recipe came from either a Fleischmann's yeast recipe booklet or a Land O Lakes butter recipe booklet.  Both are products I used then and both are products I still use today!

IMG_4647Bread baking has always come easy to me, but if you are one of the many who are traumatized by even the thought of it, this is the recipe you'll want to start with.  It worked the first time I made them and has kept my family thinking I am "the queen of dinner roll baking" ever since.  I'm going to go so far as to say:  in the world of bread baking, these rolls are "just plain easy". When my boys were teenagers, I often doubled the recipe (so I can tell you that works just fine), but, I always baked them in two pans of twelve -- just because they look so darn pretty!

IMG_4631From Monday night family-style meals to Sunday dinners and holiday celebrations, these rolls have a place on every table!

IMG_45542-2 1/4  cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1  envelope Fleishmann's yeast, not rapid rise yeast

2  generous tablespoons sugar

1/2  teaspoon salt

1/2  cup whole milk

1/4  cup water

2  tablespoons Land O Lakes butter

2  additional tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing over finished dinner rolls

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing baking pan

  IMG_4561 IMG_4557~ Step 1.  In a large bowl, stir together 3/4 cup of the flour, the yeast, the sugar and the salt.

~ Step 2.  In a small saucepan, place the milk, water and butter over medium heat.  Stir until the butter is melted and mixture has reached a temperature between 120-130 degrees.  The best way to insure the proper temperature is to monitor the mixture as it heats using an instant read thermometer.

IMG_4567 IMG_4576 IMG_4581 IMG_4583~Step 3.  Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture.  Using a hand-held electric mixer on medium speed, beat until mixture is smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula frequently, about 30 seconds.  Increase mixer speed to high, add another 1/4 cup of the flour and beat until thoroughly incorporated.  Remove the mixer, and begin stirring in flour, in 1/4 cup amounts, until a soft, manageable dough forms, about 3/4 cup more flour.

IMG_4595 IMG_4602~ Step 4. Using the heal of your hand, begin kneading the dough, turning the bowl a quarter turn with each push down, until a smooth ball forms, continuing to sprinkle in additional flour to keep it from sticking to the sides of the bowl.  As often as I make these rolls, I always use the entire 2 1/4 cups of flour!

IMG_4612 IMG_4603                                          ~ Step 5. Cover the bowl of dough with a clean towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. This important rest will allow the gluten in the flour to develop.

Uncover the dough.  If you have a kitchen scale use it. You will have 1 pound, 2-3 ounces of dough.

IMG_4620~ Step 6.  Spray an 8" round baking pan lightly with no-stick cooking spray.  Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces, about 1 1/2 ounces each.  Between the palms of your hands, roll each piece into a ball and arrange them in the bottom of the pan as pictured (9 around the perimeter of the pan, 3 in the center).  Cover the pan with the towel and allow the rolls to rise until doubled in size, about 45-60 minutes.  Mine rose in 45 minutes:

IMG_4629Note:  These rolls only require one rise time, so while they are rising, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

IMG_4639~ Step 7. Bake on center rack of preheated oven until golden brown, about 18-20 minutes, and, when tapped on the top with the knuckle of your finger, they sound hollow. Mine baked for 18 minutes today.

IMG_4652~ Step 8.  Remove from oven and within 1 minute, invert the rolls onto a cooling rack.  Note:  I simply invert the pan of rolls onto a pot holder that I am holding outstretched in one hand, then, invert them onto a pot holder in my other hand, then, place them on the cooling rack.

~ Step 9.  Using a pastry brush, paint the rolls with a light coating of melted butter and allow to cool to slightly warm or room temperature (we adore them slightly warm): 

Pull 'em apart and butter 'em:  Bet you can't eat just one!

IMG_4693Want buttery, 'pull-apart' rolls with dinner tonight?:  Recipe yields 1 dozen dinner rolls.

Special Equipment List:  large bowl, preferably oversized; 2-quart saucepan; instant-read thermometer; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; clean cotton kitchen towel; kitchen scale (optional); 8" round baking pan, preferably dark metal; pastry brush

6a0120a8551282970b015391cb26eb970b-320wiCook's Note:  For another one of my easy home-baked bread recipes, you might want to try my recipe for ~ Bread Machine Basics & My Brioche Recipe ~.  If your bread machine in a closet for 10 years, this is the reason to get it out.  You can find the recipe in Categories 5, 25 or 18.  You will never buy a loaf of bread for your family again!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)

10/19/2013

~ Three Pies of Melanie's Youth Week -- In Review ~

IMG_4287Bye-bye American Pie Week on Kitchen Encounters!  I rarely write a retrospective blog post.  In over three years of blogging, this is only my fourth one. If you've been following along this week (which stretched into almost two weeks because I was having so much fun doing research and collecting information), I shared three, relatively easy-to-make recipes that just happened to be "custard pies":  Southern chess pie, PA Deutshe shoo-fly pie and German chocolate pie!  

I chose these three because:  

1) They are all American pies, each with its own unique history or story;

2) They are all pies I grew up eating in an area of Eastern PA near the Lehigh Valley;

3) They are all pies that are difficult to find "solid" or reliable recipes for.

They are also pies that people often avoid making because the recipes for each one, while all similar, are all just different enough that if the pie doesn't turn out the way "your people like it" that recipe gets deemed "not right" or "a failiure", which is just plain wrong.  All three of my recipes can be found in Category 6 or by clicking on the Related Article links below!

IMG_5964A bit about custard pies:  When we think of custard, we think of puddinglike desserts made with a sweetened mixture of milk and eggs that can either be baked or stirred on the stovetop.  When it comes to a pie being classified as a custard pie, all it has to do is contain an egg or eggs in its filling, which helps it firm up as it bakes.  Did you know that pecan pie is classified as a custard pie?  It is! ~ My Bourbon Street Pecan Pie ~ recipe can be found in Categories 6, 11 or 18!

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IMG_3853Tuesday, Oct. 8th: ~ My Southern Favorite:  Jeanne White's Chess Pie ~.  I ate this pie about once a week at the 'White" house, with Susie White being one of my closest 'Hometown' girlfriends.  This sweet, silky, rich, eggy custard pie with a slightly tangy flavor most likely got it's name because of a piece of furniture common in Southern homes:  a pie chest.  It is believed that because the pie held up so well when stored in the chest, the original name was "chest pie", then slanged to "chess pie"!

IMG_4511Friday, Oct. 11th:  ~ My PA Dutch Favorite:  Shoo-Fly Pie (Give it a try!) ~.  "Dutch" was the English slang for "Deutshe".  When people say "PA Dutch",  they should say "PA Deutshe" to credit the German immigrants to PA. This molasses pie comes in many forms, from jamlike to cakelike, depending on preference.  It's so sweet that early pie bakers assigned someone to "shoo the flies" to keep them from landing on the top of the pie!

IMG_4429Tuesday, Oct. 15th:  ~ The Baker's German's ('German') Chocolate Pie ~.  A spin-off of the famous German Chocolate cake, neither the cake nor the pie are German. Baker's chocolate is an American invention, and, Baker's German's chocolate was named after their employee, Samual German, who invented it.  In 1975, a Dallas, TX newpaper misprinted the first recipe for 'German's Chocolate Cake' as 'German Chocolate Cake' and the name has stuck for all these years!

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The time spent baking, photographing and posting these three pies wasn't without spin-off posts:

IMG_4305Sunday, October 13th:  I got so caught up in the history of this product, I decided it needed it's own post.  ~ Let's Talk Chocolate:  All About Baker's Chocolate ~, is a great read.  Baker's has been a staple in our pantries for over 200 years and was invented in America in 1764.  This chocolate, which is intended for baking, not eating, was originally intended for making sweetened chocolate beverages!

IMG_4102Thursday, Oct. 17th:  ~ How to Control the Crumbiness/Wetness of Shoo-Fly Pie ~ got it's own post because of questions and comments. Apparently, the first photo I posted of this fine looking pie wasn't crumb-y enough on the top for some.  This post gives detailed instructions for baking a shoo-fly pie to your liking:  from ooey-gooey wet-bottom to cakelike, with a slightly crunchy or a super crumby topping.  I aim to please!

IMG_3793"We are all in this custard pie world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipes, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013) 

10/17/2013

~ My PA Dutch Favorite: Shoo-Fly Pie (Part Two!?!): How to Control the Crumbiness/Wetness of this Pie! ~

IMG_4511A shoo-fly pie recipe has two parts?  Well, apparently yes.  When I posted my recipe for ~ My PA Dutch Favorite:  Shoo-Fly Pie (Give it a Try!) ~ last Friday, I was not prepared for the stir it would cause.  Some emotions on Facebook ran high.  Mine was a fine looking pie, full of fragrant spices and baked just the way my family likes it, with an ooey-gooey wet bottom and slightly-crunchy crumb topping.  To read this entire recipe click on the Related Article link below!

IMG_4102One problem I have with Facebook readers is, they often comment on my food photographs (or anyone's photos) before they read my recipe here on Kitchen Encounters, meaning:  they don't read, they look. I wouldn't say any comments on my pie were hurtful, they were simply uninformed.  Apparently, a few of you wanted a pie with a crumbier top (that looks like the one just below) and a slightly firmer texture (like the one at the top of this post)!

When one of my regular KE readers chimed in and recommended to my regular FB readers that they actually read the recipe, in order to get a clear understanding prior to making judgement calls, I decided to bake another pie and write this follow-up post.  Thank-you Marilyn Cummins! 

IMG_4499Read and Ye Shall Learn:

IMG_4486

As I explained clearly and concisely in my precisely written recipe:

There is an important control factor that manages the crumb topping being crumby or crunchy, as well as, the desired wetness or cake-like texture of the bottom!

The crumbier you want your top, the less butter you add to it.  The cakier you want the bottom, the more crumb topping you stir into the pie filling!

  IMG_4012Is that concept so hard to understand?   

There's no right or wrong:  it is all about how YOU like this pie!

IMG_4494This is one of those pies that people avoid making because the recipes for it, while all similar, are all just different enough that if it's not the way "your people like it", the pie is deemed "not right" or a "a failure". That is just plain wrong (not to mention a bad attitude).

So, today, instead of a regular post, I've decided to be Mrs. Nice Woman and make you another pie just to prove my point:  A recipe is a guideline, read it through, and follow the instructions:

IMG_3954For a crumbier cake topping (as pictured in this, my second shoo-fly pie post:

Decrease the amount of the butter in the original recipe from 8 tablespoons of butter to:

4  tablespoons butter cold

Don't change anything else.  Just reduce the amount of butter.  Use the exact same amount of flour, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and salt!

IMG_3983For a firmer texture to your pie filling (as pictured in this post):

Increase the amount of crumb topping added to your pie filling from 1/2 cup to:

3/4 cup crumb topping mixture, reserved from above recipe.

For a cakelike texture (which most die-hard shoo-fly pie lovers do not like and is not pictured here):

Increase the crumb topping added to the pie filling to 1 cup.

Bake the pie exactly as directed, on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes or until puffed through to the center and a cake tester comes out clean.

If you don't "get it" yet, "shoo-fly don't bother me"!

IMG_4551My PA Dutch Favorite:  Shoo-Fly Pie (Part Two!?!):  How to Control theCrumbiness/Wetness of this Pie!:  Recipe yields 1, 9" pie, or, 8-10 servings.

Special Equipment List:  9" pie dish, preferably glass, pastry blender, paring knife, large rubber spatula, cake tester or toothpick 

PICT1106Cook's Note:  If you like moist flavorful spice cake, for another one of my Pennsylvania Dutch desserts, you'll want to try my recipe for ~ Nana's Applesauce-Oatmeal-Raisin-Walnut Cake ~.  You can find it in Categories 6 & 19!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013) 

10/15/2013

~ The Baker's German's ('German') Chocolate Pie ~

IMG_4429It seems to me that no self-respecting foodie should be without one reasonably easy-to-make chocolate pie recipe in his or her repertoire.  Why?  Because everybody loves chocolate pie, and, in a pinch, you can never go wrong serving a chocolate pie.  Some people love it more than others, but, I've never seen anyone turn down a slice of chocolate pie.  When it comes to pies in general, I'm a puritan in every sense of the word.  Don't add chocolate to my chess pie, coconut-custard pie, pecan pie or shoo-fly pie -- I like them just the way they are.  Make me a chocolate pie that is a chocolate pie -- not another kind of pie masquerading as a chocolate pie!

IMG_4376Halloween is knocking at our doors, and Thanksgiving will be here before we know it, which makes it pie season. The tradition in my house is to serve a selection of four pies for dessert. We call it "the pie buffet" and I serve them about 1 1/2 hours after the feast, to give me and my volunteer helpers time to manage some cleanup and organize leftovers.  My pie buffet usually consists of an apple, pecan, pumpkin (or sweet potato), and, chocolate pie -- more specifically, German chocolate pie:

IMG_4180German chocolate pie is a spin-off of the beloved German chocolate cake.  Oh, and by the way, German chocolate cake and German chocolate pie are not German. Baker's German's Chocolate is named for Samuel German, an employee of Baker's, who invented this extra-sweet chocolate!

GermanOn June 3, 1957, the Dallas Morning Star misprinted a recipe for the first 'German's Chocolate Cake', under the name 'German Chocolate Cake' -- a name that stuck with this recipe all these years.  Their "Recipe of the Day" was the creation of a Dallas, TX, homemaker:  Mrs. George Clay. To learn more fascinating history, click on the Related Article link below and read ~ Let's Talk Chocolate:  All About Bakers's Chocolate ~.  FYI:  My German chocolate pie recipe comes directly from Betty Crocker!!!

IMG_4468Caution:  This is not a light, airy chocolate cream pie.  It's a dense, rich chocolate pie that cries out for whipped cream!

IMG_42781  unbaked 10" pie pastry (Note:  10" is correct, a 9" pie pastry/pie dish is too small.)

For the pie topping:

1-1 1/4  cups sweetened, flaked coconut

1-1 1/4  cups chopped or broken pecans

For the pie filling:

 4  ounces German's sweet chocolate, chopped

4  tablespoons salted butter (1/2 stick)

1  12-ounce can evaporated milk (not condensed milk)

1 1/2  cups sugar

2  tablespoons cornstarch

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

4  large egg yolks, at room temperature

1/2  teaspoon coconut extract

1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract

IMG_4283 IMG_4287~ Step 1. You'll need a 10" pie pastry.  My recipe for ~ Making Pate Brisee:  Basic Pie or Quiche Pastry ~ is in Categories 6, 15 & 22.  Roll, trim, pat and press it into 10" pie dish, then, form a decorative border.  Place in the refrigerator to chill 30-60 minutes.  Meanwhile:

IMG_4294~ Step 2.  To prepare the topping, chop or break the pecans, placing them in a small bowl as you work.  

IMG_4296Add the coconut and stir to thoroughly combine. Set aside.

Note:  Both of these steps can be done a day ahead.  Cover the pie pastry/pie dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  Cover the topping mixture and store at room temperature.

IMG_4315 IMG_4318 IMG_4322 IMG_4326

 

 

 

 

~Step 3:  To prepare the pie filling, in a 1-quart saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate, whisking constantly, until well-blended and smooth.   Add/whisk in the evaporated milk.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool, about 30 minutes.  

IMG_4334 IMG_4337 IMG_4349 IMG_4351

 

 

 

~Step 4.  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and both of the extracts.  Add the cooled (or slightly warm) chocolate mixture and continue to mix until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.

IMG_4361 IMG_4292~ Step 5.  In a medium bowl, stir the sugar, cornstarch and salt.  

IMG_4354Whisk chocolate mixture into sugar mixture, until smooth.

IMG_4367~ Step 6.  Pour filling mixture into chilled pie pastry.  Sprinkle topping mixture evenly over the filling.

~ Step 7.  Bake on center rack of preheated 375 degree oven 15 minutes.  Lower heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 30 minutes, until puffed through to the center and almost set.  

Note:  Do not overcook.  The pie will not be firm to the touch!

IMG_4373~ Step 8. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool prior to serving, 3-4 hours or overnight.  

Note:  As the pie cools it will continue to firm up and the top will sink a bit.  At this point, you can slice the pie and serve it slightly warm or at room temperature, which is how I like it.  This dense, rich pie deserves nothing but the best: freshly whipped cream and freshly grated chocolate!!!

IMG_4408The Baker's German's ('German') Chocolate Pie:  Recipe yields 10-12 servings.

Special Equipment List: 10" pie dish, preferably glass; cutting board; chef's knife; 1-quart saucepan; whisk; large rubber spatula; cooling rack

IMG_5955Cook's Note:  My recipe for ~ A Holiday Tradition:  My Bourbon Street Pecan Pie ~ can be found in Categories 6, 11 or 18!

PICT3140My recipe for ~ From a Potato to Southern Sweet Potao Pie ~, can be found in Categories 6 or 18.  It's great made with roasted or pureed butternut squash too!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)  

10/13/2013

~ Let's Talk Chocolate: All about Baker's Chocolate ~

IMG_4274Baker's chocolate per se is an unsweetened dark chocolate intended for baking, not eating.  On its own, it does not have a pleasant taste (truthfully, it tastes awful), but, when you combine it with ingredients like eggs, sugar, flour and milk, it adds lots of deep, rich chocolaty flavor to all sorts of sweet treats.   That being said, when a recipe specifically calls for "Baker's Chocolate", with the "B" being capitalized, the recipe is telling you to use a brand of chocolate that has been used in our kitchens for over 200 years and was invented right here in America.

300px-BakersCocoaA bit of Baker's chocolate history:

In 1764, in Dorchester, Massachusetts, John Hannon and an American physician, Dr. James Baker, started importing cocoa beans and producing chocolate.  In 1780, Hannon's widow sold the company to Baker, who renamed the company The Baker Chocolate Company.  His first product was a 'cake' (a square) of chocolate intended for making sweetened chocolate beverages.  Dr. Baker's son, Edmund, inherited the business in 1804 and industrialized it with a state-of-the-art facility. By 1849, under Walter Baker (Edmond's son), the business was doing great and the brand name was known all the way to CA.  Baker's chocolate was becoming a staple in kitchen pantries everywhere. 

(Baker's Cocoa Advertisement appearing in Overland Monthy, January 1919, via Wikipedia.)

German chocolate cake isn't German!  It's American!!!

IMG_4180Production was limited to unsweetened chocolate until 1852, when employee Samuel German created a sweet chocolate that had a higher sugar content than yet-to-be invented modern-day semi-sweet chocolate.  This chocolate was given his name: German's Sweet Chocolate.  

GermanOn June 3, 1957, the Dallas Morning Star misprinted a recipe for the first 'German's Chocolate Cake', under the name 'German Chocolate Cake' -- a name that has stuck with this beloved recipe all of these years. Their "Recipe of the Day" was the creation of a Dallas, TX, homeker:  Mrs. George Clay.

A bit about German chocolate cake:  For those of you who've never tasted it, it is a moist, three-layer chocolate cake, sandwiched with sweet, caramel-like frosting containing coconut and pecans.  Traditionally, the sides of the cake do not get frosted, leaving the layers of cake and frosting visible to the beholder of this lovely creation.

IMG_4177Production increased steadily throughout the century.  The trademark logo "La Belle Chocolatiere" was adopted in 1883 by fourth-generation owner, the step-nephew of Walter Baker, William Henry Pierce.  Pierce advertised heavily in newspapers to increase sales.  When he died in 1896, the Forbes Syndicate bought the company.  The company got sold again to the Postum Cereal Company, which later became General Foods, which was acquired by Kraft foods in 1980.

IMG_4168Cook's Note:  Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate and Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate can be used interchangeably in recipes.  Baker's Chocolate, which is unsweetened, cannot be used interchangeably with those two.  Have a sweet day!!!

IMG_4303"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013) 

10/11/2013

~ My PA Dutch Favorite: Shoo-Fly Pie (Give it a try!)~

IMG_4102I don't know how many slices of shoo-fly pie I've eaten in my lifetime.  I grew up in Eastern, PA, more specifically, near the Lehigh Valley, which has a large population of Pennsylvania Dutch. Every bakery and market sells shoe-fly pie, and in every household, someone has a great recipe for it.  When I graduated from high school, my fiance's grandmother, who lived in South Tamqua, more specifically Mantzville, made a great shoo-fly pie.  Nana and her husband Pappy were both what we affectionately refer to here in Pennsylvania as:  Pennsylvania Dutch!

IMG_4012You say Pennsylvania Dutch, We say Pennsylvania Deutsch!

I'm here to make it clear that Pennsylvania Dutch cookery does not belong solely to PA and it is not Dutch either.  The term "Dutch" was the early English settlers slang for the German word "Deutsch".  So:  When most people incorrectly say "Pennsylvania Dutch", they should be saying "Pennsylvania Deutsch", crediting the Germanic or German-speaking immigrants from Germany and Switzerland for this cuisine.  The majority of these people were either Amish, Mennonite or Brethern, all of which were considered "Anabaptist".  They were fleeing the mountains of Switzerland and southern Germany to avoid religious persecution and established several communities in the Lehigh Valley.  Pennsylvania in general was a haven for them:

Pennsylvania - America's first "melting pot"! 

William penn2William Penn (the man our state is named after), a Quaker, believed that everyone had the right to seek God in his or her own way, calling it "liberty of conscience".  He and other free thinkers of the time felt it would create a stronger government and a wealthier society.  Imagine that.  While all of the other colonies had established an official church, Mr. Penn did not do this with his. Instead, he extended an open invitation to any and all religious groups suffering in Europe. When they arrived, he gave everyone land, and, while only Christians could hold political office, any person (from any ethnic, racial or economic background) could take part in all the social activites and economic benifits PA offered. Pennsylvania became known for being America's diverse colony.

IMG_4003The first groups to arrive were German Quakers and Mennonites. They arrived in 1693 and named their settlement Germantown. Lutherans, Schwenkfelders, Dutch Reformed, Moravians and Swiss Amish soon followed.  By 1730, a large populous had established communities in Lancaster County. All of these people fall into the category of PA Dutch because they were Deutsch or German speaking. They brought with them staples of their heritage that would survive the long voyage:  flour, brown sugar, molasses, lard, salt and spices. Upon their arrival, especially if it was in the Fall, they had to make due with what they had in the larder until the next growing season.  This pie was a resourceful concoction!

"Shoo Fly, Don't Bother Me (and stay away from my pie)!"

IMG_4036While shoo-fly pie has nothing to do with the lyrics to this song, it did get its name because of flies.  Before air-conditioning, doors and windows were kept open to help cool the stifling hot kitchen.  It is said that because of the high molasses content and its fragrance, flies were particulary drawn to this pie.  While the pie was cooling, whoever was in the kitchen was required to "shoo the flies", to keep them from landing on the top!

This is one of those pies that people avoid making because the recipes, while all similar, are all just different enough that if it's not the way "your people like it", the pie is deemed "not right" or "a failure".  There is an important control factor that manages the crumb topping from being crumby or crunchy, as well as, the desired wetness or cake-like texture of the bottom!  Read on:

31ZnVgjoIlL._AA160_Because it contains egg, shoo-fly pie is classified as a custard pie, similar to pecan pie only without the nuts -- often having a jamlike consistency. The pie filling thickens as it bakes from a portion of the crumb topping that gets incorporated into it.  Some people, like me, like their shoo-fly pie with a loose, "wet bottom", so less of the crumb topping is added to the filling. Others prefer it "cake-like", so they add more. Some pie toppings are crumby, others are crunchy -- the amount of butter added controls that texture.  Some people like to add fragrant spices, others do not: 

I am here to tell you, if you've ever tasted a Moravian spice cookie (a molasses-based wafer containing cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg), you'll want to add the spices!

  IMG_4499There's no right or wrong:  it is all about how YOU like this pie! 

6a0120a8551282970b01538fb36192970b-800wi1  unbaked 9" pie pastry

IMG_3941For the crumb topping:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2  cup dark brown sugar

1  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8  teaspoon ground cloves

1/2  teaspoon ground ginger

1/4  teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4  teaspoon salt

8  tablespoons butter, cold 

For the pie filling:

1  extra-large egg 

IMG_3958

1  teaspoon vanilla extract

1  cup full-flavor molasses

3/4  teaspoon baking soda

1/2  cup hot tap water

1/2  cup crumb topping mixture, reserved from above recipe

Note: As mentioned above, add more or less of the crumb topping to the filling, depending upon how wet you want your pie bottom to be!

IMG_3928 IMG_3929~ Step 1. You'll need a 9" pie pastry.  You can find my recipe for ~ Making Pate Brisee: Basic Pie or Quiche Pastry ~ in Categories 6, 15 & 22.  Roll it, trim it, and pat and press it into a 9" pie dish, and, form a decorative border as directed.  Place the pie crust in the refrigerator to chill at least 30 minutes.  In the meantime, prepare the crumb topping and pie filling as follows:

IMG_3954 IMG_3947~ Step 2.  To prepare the crumb topping, place all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Using a pastry cutter and a paring knife, blend until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  

Remove 1/2 cup of crumb topping from the bowl and set it aside.  This will get stirred into the filling.

IMG_3978 IMG_3966~ Step 3.  To prepare the pie filling, in a medium bowl, using a fork, whisk together the egg and vanilla extract. Add the molasses and stir.  

~ Step 4.  Add the baking soda and hot water.  Using a large rubber spatula combine thoroughly.  Note: Be sure to use a medium mixing bowl, because once the water gets added, the baking soda foams up.

IMG_3985 IMG_3983~ Step 5. Stir in the reserved crumb topping.  

IMG_3991~ Step 6. Transfer the mixture into chilled pie pastry and sprinkle the remaining crumb topping evenly over the top.

IMG_4000~  Step 7.  Bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven 45 minutes, or until puffed through to the center and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer to a rack and cool about 3-4 hours prior to slicing and serving slightly warm or at room temperature.  Note:  As the pie cools it will firm up and the top will sink to form a somewhat uneven landscape!

Slightly warm:  Oh my ooey-gooey goodness!!!

IMG_4047Room temperature:  My kinda shoo-fly pie!!! 

IMG_4133Like your shoo-fly pie slightly firmer in the center and crumbier on top?  As mentioned above, decrease the amount of butter in your crumb topping (4 tablespoons used here) and increase the amount of crumb topping you stir into your pie filling (3/4 cup used here)!!!

IMG_4511My PA Dutch Favorite:  Shoo-Fly Pie (Give it a try!):  Recipe yields 1, 9" pie, or, 8-10 servings.

Special Equipment List:  9" pie dish, preferably glass; pastry blender; paring knife; large rubber spatula; cake tester or toothpick

PICT1106Cooks Note:  If you like moist flavorful spice cake, for another one of Nana's Pennsylvania Dutch desserts, you'll want to try my recipe for ~ Nana's Applesauce-Oatmeal-Raisin-Walnut Cake ~.  You can find it in Categories 6 & 19!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013) 

10/08/2013

~ My Southern Favorite: Jeanne White's Chess Pie ~

IMG_3853What does a gal from Central Pennsylvania know about Southern chess pie?  More than you might think.  When I was growing up in Hometown, (Eastern) PA, my close high school friend, Susie White, lived over on Meadow Avenue.  We spent so much time hanging out at each others houses, our mothers didn't ask, "is Susie staying for dinner", or, "is Melanie staying for dinner", they just set a place at the table.  Susie's mom Jeanne was a charming, pretty woman who hailed from Chapel Hill, NC.  Even when she was being stern, her melodic Southen drawl made it hard to take her seriously.  Yes, I remember eating a lot of dinners in the 'White house', but, what I most remember is her chess pie, a family recipe passed on to Jeanne by her Aunt Sally:

IMG_3876A sweet, silky, rich, eggy custard pie with a slightly tangy flavor!

IMG_3808A bit about chess pie:  Recipes for this pie were brought to the American colonies from England. So, while chess pie is always associated with Southern cuisine, it also has valid claims to roots in New England as well as Virginia. It's a single crust pie, and, while every recipe varies somewhat, the filling always contains eggs and/or egg yolks, butter, granulated sugar and/or brown sugar, milk and/or buttermilk, and, most importantly, yellow cornmeal.  Common flavorings to the pie are lemon and/or vanilla, and, sometimes even a touch of bourbon.  It is a very sweet and very rich pie and is usually served in small, thin wedges with coffee or tea.  

PieSafe1bHistorians agree the name of the pie has nothing to do with the game of chess.  One theory is:  it evolved from ancestral England where pies of the same curd-like consistency were called "cheese pies", even though they contained no cheese.  In the colonies, over time, the word was slanged to "ches' pie".  There is also a story about a Southern homemaker, drawling to her husband when he asked what it was he was eating, "It's jus' pie".  This last one, and the one that makes perfect sense to me is: the name "chess" comes from a piece of furniture common to the period, a pie chest, with the name of the pie originally being "chest pie"...

... because this pie held up so well in a pie chest!!!

IMG_3793Back in 2010, I reconnected with Susie via Facebook.  I wanted my family to experience real-deal chess pie (not just a recipe I found in a book).  I asked Sue if she had her mother's recipe or a family recipe she'd be willing to share.  Sue e-mailed me two:  Aunt Sally's (the recipe Jeanne usually made), and, Aunt Jeannie's (Jeanne's Aunt Jeannie's). Both contained sugar, milk and melted butter in slightly different proportions.  Aunt Sally used whole eggs, while Aunt Jeannie used egg yolks.  After making both recipes, I made a version that contained Sally's whole eggs and Jeannie's egg yolks, plus bit of Mel:  lemon and vanilla extracts -- what a delicious result!

IMG_37531  unbaked 9" pie pastry

3  large eggs, at room temperature

3  large egg yolks, at room temperature

1  cup sugar

2  tablespoons yellow cornmeal

1/2  cup salted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled for about 15 minutes

3/4  cup milk or buttermilk (Note:  buttermilk will add a tangy flavor to the pie, and, I use buttermilk when I make this pie.)

1  teaspoon pure lemon extract

2  teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  IMG_3728 IMG_3735 IMG_3740 IMG_3751

 

 

~Step 1.  You'll need a 9" pie pastry.  You can find my recipe for ~ Making Pate Brisee:  Basic Pie or Quiche Pastry ~ in Categories 6, 15 & 22.  Roll it, trim it, and, pat and press it into a 9" pie dish as directed.  To make a checkerboard border on a pie crust (a technique I learned from James McNair's Pie Cookbook):  Using a sharp paring knife, cut across the rim at approximately 1/2" intervals to form 48 "flaps".  You can make them larger than 1/2" if you want, just count them to be sure you have an even number (not an odd number).  Alternately, fold every other "flap" upwards and tilt it slightly towards the center.  Place the pie crust in the refrigerator to chill at least 30 minutes.  In the meantime,  prepare the pie filling as follows:

IMG_3767 IMG_3759~ Step 2.  In a large bowl, on medium speed of hand-held electric mixer, combine the eggs with the egg yolks, about 15 seconds.  Add the sugar, cornmeal and melted butter.  Increase mixer speed to medium high and beat thoroughly, until thickened and lightened in color, about 45 seconds.

IMG_3770~ Step 3.  Add the extracts to the milk (or buttermilk) and pour them into the bowl.  

With mixer on medium high speed, thoroughly beat and combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula almost constantly, about 30-45 seconds. 

IMG_3777

~ Step 4.  Pour filling into chilled pie shell.  Bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven, about 45 minutes, or until filling is puffed through to the center and a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack and cool to room temperature, about 3-4 hours, prior to slicing and serving:

Note:  During the last 15-20 minutes of baking, if the pie begins to get too brown, cover it with a "domed" piece of aluminum foil ("not touching the surface of the pie").

IMG_3797My Southern Favorite:  Jeanne White's Chess Pie:  Recipe yields 1, 9" pie/8-10 servings.

Special Equipment List:  9" pie dish, preferably glass; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; cake tester or toothpick

IMG_3572Cook's Note:  Would you like a classic Southern meal to serve with this Southern dessert?  I suggest you try my recipes for ~ Smothered with Love: Pork Chops w/Onion Gravy ~, and, ~ Lovin' Spoonful: Buttermilk & Cheddar Spoonbread ~.  You can get both recipes by clicking on the Related Article links below!

Southern comfort food (cooked by a Yankee girl) never tasted so good!!!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013) 

10/05/2013

~ Culinary Q&A & Kitchen Therapy Too (10/05/13) ~

Culinary Q & A #2October has arrived.  For those of us who reside in a four-season area of the USA, each season brings a change in lifestyle.  I love the transition from the bold foods of Summer (quickly cooked fresh garden vegetables, grilled meats and frosty desserts) to the comforting foods of Fall (slow roasted vegetables, braised meats and baked desserts).  I also love the transition from short sleeves to sweatshirts, and, watching college football instead of playing tennis!  

I love the Fall!!!

As you regular readers of KE know, I always answer and post any Culinary Q&A's on Friday afternoons, but, when I checked my e-mails early this morning (Saturday) I received such a great question from a reader, I couldn't resist reponding immediately.  It has Fall written all over it!  

6a0120a8551282970b019aff52d2b5970b-800wiQ.  Steve says and asks:  Melanie, I want you to know your recipe for ~ E-Z "Real" Roasted Chicken Breasts & Gravy ~ has been a life changer for me.  I never learned to cook, which I have always regretted, and now that I am in my 50's, I am tired of eating fast food.  I make your chicken every week, and, I made ~ GrandMa Ann's Easy Chicken Vegetable Soup ~ this week too.  You are teaching me to cook and I thank you!

6a0120a8551282970b0147e17039a3970b-800wi[Note to readers from Mel:  Both of these recipes can be found in Category 20 of this blog.]

I want to try my hand at making a dessert next, probably a cake so I can have a slice for dessert all week long, and I was wondering:

What is the difference between roasting and baking?

Aren't they the same thing?

IMG_3707A.  Kitchen Encounters:  Steve, you made my day today.  Nothing makes me happier than to know I am teaching people to learn to love to cook!  It is why I write this blog!!!

In terms of a method of cooking, roasting and baking are the same thing because both techniques cook food via dry heat in the oven. To a food and recipe writer, like myself, there are distinctions:

Roasting is a dry heat method of cooking that applies to:  solid or whole types of food (like meat, poultry and vegetables) that maintain their structure before, during and after roasting.

Baking is a dry heat method of cooking that applies to:  loose or mixed together food like breads, desserts and casseroles, which rely upon and emerge from the baking process with one common structure.

There's more:  Though often used interchangeably, many chefs distinguish between the two based on temprerature, with roasting implying greater heat resulting in faster and more pronounced browning than baking.  Other chefs prefer to use the word "roasting" in reference to meats, poultry and vegetables, reserving the word "baking" to reference fish or seafood.

Exceptions:  "baked" ham, "baked" fish, "baked" potatoes?  Here's my take on why:

Prime Rib Roast #2 (Whole Roast)Roasting got its name in reference to cooking a whole bird or a whole piece of meat on a spit over an open flame.  The food came off the spit caramelized and crispy on the outside, and, moist and juicy on the inside.  Baking got its name in reference to foods that were covered and buried in the hot coals or ashes because (for whatever reasons) they couldn't be cooked on a spit.  They emerged perfectly cooked from the PICT1864outside through to the center. When box ovens appeared in modern kitchens, foods like ham and fish, which needed to be cooked through to the center for food-safety reasons, dried out during the long open-roasting process.  Educated modern day cooks did what their predecessors didn't know to do to avoid making people sick (or worse). They covered the food -- first with domed lids, later with aluminum foil. This produced a safe-to-eat meal with a moist, palatable texture!  

So, in a nutshell:  When the food being roasted gets covered for all of or a portion of the cooking process, we refer to it as being baked.  You can find my recipes (both pictured above) for ~ Perfect "Prime" Rib Roast (Standing Rib Roast) ~, and, ~ "A, B, C" That's as Easy as Baked Easter Ham Can Be! ~ in Categories 3 or 11.  It's Fall folks -- preheat your ovens!!!

************

IMG_3627Enjoy your weekend everyone, and once again:  To leave a comment or ask a question, simply click on the blue title of any post, scroll to the end of it and type away... or e-mail me directly!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013) 

10/03/2013

~ Smothered with Love: Pork Chops w/Onion Gravy ~

IMG_3599Until 1986 I had never tasted real-deal Southern 'smothered' food.  I knew that smothering was a cooking technique similar to braising.  It basically/usually involves browning tough cuts of meat and/or root vegetables in fat (foods that require a lengthy cooking time to soften), adding some flavorful liquid and simmering over low heat until thickened and entire meal melts in your mouth. I knew this because by the time I was 30 years old, I'd been cooking long enough to have made smothered dishes with fancy names:  Swiss steak (which isn't Swiss and comes from a tenderizing method called "swissing"), ossobucco (Italian) and etouffee (French-Creole, with "etouffee" being the  French word for "smothered").  Smothered food = yummy food!

In the South they simply call this cooking method "smothered"!

This Yankee girl calls it "smothered with love"!!!

IMG_3587There are several diverse/different types of regional Southern cuisines, and, born and raised Southern experts have written about all of them.  For those of us not from the South, let's suffice it to say that when we think of Southern food, we think fried or smothered (in gravy). Also, for those of us not from the South who are eating in a Southern restaurant, we would be disappointed if there wasn't something fried and something smothered on the menu (something fried and smothered is better yet)!  

So, back in 1986, when we (about 20 of us from our Happy Valley tailgate group) wandered into a Tennessee diner (on our way to Tuscaloosa, AL to watch a Penn State football game) and I saw 'smothered' pork chops on the menu, I ordered them in an artery-clogging heartbeat:

IMG_3392Two tender chops wallowing in a super-savory, creamy buttermilk gravy full of browned onions.  They were served with spoonbread and collard greens.  It was an entire meal I had never tasted before -- it was a plate of Southern comfort and I instantly fell in love with it.  You can find my recipe for ~ Lovin' Spoonful: Buttermilk 'n Cheddar Spoonbread ~ by clicking on the Related Article link below!

IMG_3024The chops are thin (1/2") bone-in loin chops.  Bone in chops are a must for smothered pork chops because the bone keeps the meat moist and adds flavor to the sauce. They cook quickly too.  Initially, just 4-5 minutes per side until golden brown, then, just a few minutes in the sauce to reheat them. They emerge a "to the tooth" knife-and-fork tender similar to that of a spare rib.  To learn ~ The Art of Frying The Skinny Pork Chop ~ click on the Related Article link below!

The super-savory, creamy buttermilk-onion gravy gets made in the pork fat and drippings left in the skillet after browning the pork chops!

Shall we get started on this Southern smothered comfort food?

Part One:  Frying the pork chops.

IMG_2931 IMG_2907I bought a package of 10, thin-cut, bone-in pork chops today. In it was a combination of 6 rib chops and 4 center loin chops.

10,  1/2"-3/4"-thick bone-in pork chops, rib or center cut

IMG_3430For the flour-spice blend:

1  cup Wondra flour 

1  tablespoon poultry seasoning blend (thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, pepper and nutmeg)

1  teaspoon garlic powder

1  teaspoon onion powder

1/2  teaspoon smoked paprika

1  tablespoon sea salt

1/2  teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/2  teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)                                             

IMG_3439 IMG_3433~ Step 1. Stir the Wondra flour and all of the spices together in a small bowl. Once you make this blend and taste the finished dish, feel free to adjust the spices in the future to suit your palate.  This is also a great blend for chicken or veal too!

Note:  I like to use Wondra flour because it is granulated, which produces a crispiness on the pork chops that all-purpose flour will not.

IMG_3452 IMG_3450~ Step 2. Sprinkle the top of each chop with about a teaspoonful of the flour mixture.  Not a full dredge, just a sprinkle.  Allow chops to rest about 10-15 minutes.  This allows the flour to absorb the moisture from the chops, which helps them fry up with a crispy.

Note: NOT dredging in flour = NOT contaminating the flour.  Store  the leftover flour mixture in your pantry!

IMG_2957 IMG_2955~ Step 3.  Get out the biggest skillet you've got.  I'm using a 14" chef's pan with straight, deep sides.  Add enough of corn or peanut oil to the bottom to give it a thin, even coating.  I am using peanut oil.  Do not use olive oil, as its smoke point is wrong and the chops will burn.  Heat oil over medium until little waves appear.

IMG_2961~ Step 4.  Even armed with a 14" skillet, 10 chops will not fit into it at once.  No matter what size your skillet is, do not overcrowd the pan. These chops cook so quickly it is no big deal to cook them in 2 batches.

Note:  Place chops in the pan, floured side down.  You should immediately hear a sizzle.  When you put the first one in, if you get no sizzle, your oil is not hot enough. Increase the heat a bit.

IMG_2979~ Step 5.  Season the second sides with a sprinkling of the seasoned flour.  Adjust heat to saute and continue to cook until the chops are golden brown on the bottom, 4-5 minutes.  Flip chops over and saute on the second sides, until golden brown, 4-5 minutes per side.  Turn heat off, remove chops from the pan cover with foil and set aside.

Add a bit more oil to the skillet, add the remaining four chops and cook them as directed above.

IMG_3463 IMG_3458~ Step 6. Once all of the chops are removed from the pan, add:

1/2  cup white wine

Using a spatula, deglaze the pan by scraping all of the browned bits from the bottom.  This is going to be the basic flavoring for your gravy!

Part Two:  Making the Savory Buttermilk 'n Onion Gravy!

IMG_34832  very large yellow or sweet onions, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced, about 1 1/2  pounds

6  tablespoons flour-spice blend (leftover from above)

2  14 1/2-ounce cans chicken stock

1/2-1  cup buttermilk

1-2  tablespoons Louisianna Gold hot sauce, to taste

IMG_3490 IMG_3488~ Step 1. Reheat the pan drippings over medium-high heat.  Add the onions. Using a spatula, stirring frequently, saute until the onions are softened, but still crispy, about 4-5 minutes.

Note:  Error on the side of the onions being undercooked rather than overcooked, as they are going to continue simmering in the sauce.

IMG_3505 IMG_3495~ Step 2. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of the flour-spice blend over the top of the onions.

Continue to stir constantly until the a lump-free, thickened mass of onions forms, about 30-60 seconds.

Note:  If you are using Wondra flour, there will never be any lumps!

IMG_3518 IMG_3513                                             ~ Step 3. Add the first can of chicken stock, return mixture to a simmer and continue to cook for about 1 minute.

Add the second can of chicken stock and continue to simmer until nicely thickened to a gravy-like consistency, about 6-8 minutes.

IMG_3537~ Step 4.  Stir in the buttermilk, 1/2-1 cup, to your liking. Return to a simmer and cook for 1 more minute.

IMG_3550Stir in 1 tablespoon of the cayenne pepper sauce.  Simmer for about 1 minute. Taste and add additional pepper sauce, in small increments, until desired "heat" is reached!

IMG_3562 IMG_3565~ Step 5. Add the pork chops to the simmering gravy. Overlapping them in the pan is just fine.  Return to a simmer, partially cover and continue to cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Plate those chops, smother them with a generous ladle full of gravy and serve immediately:

IMG_3614And... don't forget the spoonbread!

IMG_3618Smothered with Love:  Pork Chops w/Onion Gravy:  Recipe yields 10 pork chops/4-6 servings.

Special Equipment List:  14" chef's pan w/straight deep sides, preferably nonstick; fork and/or spatula; aluminum foil;  cutting board; chef's knife

IMG_5822Cook's Note:  In the case of etouffee, the smothery sauce, made with a golden brown roux, covers shellfish: crawfish, shrimp or crab (not a combination of shellfish). You can find my recipe for ~ Shrimp Etouffee:  A Hallmark of Louisianna Cuisine ~ in Categories 2, 3, 14, 19 or 21!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie Preschutti/Copyright 2013)

10/01/2013

~Lovin' Spoonful: Buttermilk 'n Cheddar Spoonbread~

IMG_3362Spoonbread is a Southern dish and is believed to be Native American in origin, which makes sense, since the Native Americans were the culinary masters of cooking with maiz/maize (corn and its byproducts).  If you've never eaten spoonbread, it is a savory side-dish.  Calling it a bread is a stretch because it is a moist, ever-so-slightly grainy, custardy concoction with a crispy top.  It gets served in the container it was baked, and, is eaten with a spoon, hence the name.  I liken it to a combination of cornmeal-based polenta, cornbread casserole and cornmeal souffle!

MusaTaking a drive down memory lane, the first time I ever tasted spoonbread was in 1986, it was somewhere in Eastern Tennessee and we were just "passing through". About 20 of us from our PSU tailgate group were traveling to a football game in Tuscaloosa, AL.  We stopped at a diner, where I ordered 'smothered' pork chops (pork chops smothered in a savory onion gravy) served with spoonbread and collard greens.  It was the pork chops I was curious  to try -- it was the spoonbread I fell in love with! 

Over the years I've dabbled with many spoonbread recipes, and, I like the traditional ones the best.  They start with a base of milk or buttermilk, butter, salt and pepper cooked with white or yellow cornmeal until thickened.  Beaten egg yolks get whisked into the cooled mixture.  Lastly, whipped egg whites get gently folded in, which gives spoonbread its signature souffle-like texture. Some options include adding minced chives, onion and/or other herbs and spices, along with cooked and chopped ham or sausage and/or grated cheddar cheese!

IMG_3261My mom lives in Eastern, Pa and gets an Allentown newspaper:  The Morning Call.  In it, comes a monthly mini-magazine insert called Relish, which is also a foodie website:  www.relish.com.  While my mom doesn't particularly love to cook, she diligently saves and clips all things food related for me. Everytime I visit, I return home with an interesting folder of food related reading, and, Relish is one of the things I look forward to.  I can't say I save them all, but, I do save the ones that "tickle my fancy".  On the cover of the September issue of Relish, there was a gorgeous picture of spoonbread, which immediately caught my attention and more than tickled my fancy!

With minimal tweeking, here's my version of their* recipe:

IMG_32831 1/2  cups buttermilk

1/2  cup yellow or white cornmeal, preferably stone-ground

2  tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature, very soft

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

1/2  teaspoon white pepper

1/4  teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

3  large eggs, separated and at room temperature

1/4  cup very thinly-sliced green onion, white and light green parts only

1/2  cup finely-grated white or yellow cheddar cheese

additional butter for preparing souffle dish or ramekins

* Original recipe by Nancy Vienneau, a food writer in Nashville, Tennessee.

IMG_3289~ Step 1.  Generously butter the sides and bottom of a 1-quart souffle dish, or, 4, 1-cup individual-sized ramekins.  Set aside.

Note:  A souffle dish is a casserole with straight, deep sides that facilitates rising.  Ramekins are individual-sized souffle dishes. Both are ovenproof and come in a variety of sizes, so, always be sure you are using the right size.  To measure the volume, fill the dish to the "fill line": the indentation around the perimeter just below the top of the dish.  Pour water into a measuring container:  that's the volume!

IMG_3295~  Step 2.  In a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, whisking almost constantly, warm the buttermilk until steaming, not simmering or boiling, about 1 minute.  Whisk in the cornmeal.  

IMG_3303Adjust heat to a gentle simmer and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thickened, creamy and smooth, about 2 1/2-3 minutes.

IMG_3310 IMG_3305~ Step 3. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter, salt, white pepper and optional cayenne pepper, until the butter is completely melted and incorporated.  Remove from heat, partially cover and allow to cool to slightly warm, about 45 minutes.

IMG_3312 IMG_3314 IMG_3318 IMG_3321

 

 

 

 

 ~Step 4.  Whisk in the egg yolks, then, stir in the green onions and grated cheddar cheese.  

IMG_3337 IMG_3340~ Step 5.  In a medium mixing bowl using a hand-held electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, about 1 1/2-2 minutes.  

A little at a time, in about four parts, gently fold the egg whites into the cornmeal mixture, folding VERY gently to avoid deflating the egg whites.  Transfer the mixture to the buttered souffle dish(es).

IMG_3360 IMG_3348                                          ~ Step 6. Bake on center rack of preheated 375 degree oven, 28-32 minutes, or until puffed through to the center, golden brown and set.  

Remove from oven, place on the table and serve immediately.  While the spoonbread will not be at any loss for flavor if you wait a moment, it will begin to deflate rather quickly!

IMG_3392This recipe really did taste as good as it looked on their cover!

IMG_3412Lovin' Spoonful:  Buttermilk 'n Cheddar Spoonbread:  Recipes yields 4-6 servings.

Special Equipment List:  4-cup souffle dish, or, 4, 1-cup ramekins; cutting board; chef's knife; cheese grater; 2-quart saucepan w/lid; whisk; large spoon; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula

IMG_2850Cook's Note:   For another creamy, velvety-smooth Fall comfort food you might want to try my recipe for ~ Color Me Fall:  An Autumn Butternut Squash Puree ~ in Categories 1, 4, 15, 18 or 20!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/2013)