Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day~Vegetarian Crab Cakes

I'm a navy "brat".  My father retired from the navy with over twenty years of service.  I have three brothers who were marines, although the youngest one retired from the naval reserves.  Both of my grandfathers were military; one in the navy and one a marine. And, a nephew who retired with twenty years in the navy.  So when this day comes, I like to think about all the men and women, who serve and have served this country, and honor them along with our family members.

We had great picnics at my grandparents on this day and after they passed away, my mother did them.  I would have loved a picnic today, but it's been raining for three days in Seattle...I know, that doesn't surprise you!  So our "cookout" was indoors.
I decided we would have something a little different.  I came up with this recipe for a vegetarian crab cake that even seafood lovers like.  They're done with zucchini, which I will tell you, if you find yourself knee-deep in zucchini this summer from the garden, this is a really good recipe to have.

Vegetarian Crab Cakes

2 medium zucchinis, grated
3-4 scallions, chopped (include some of the green)
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 egg
2 T mayonnaise
1 T Old Bay Seasoning
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2-3/4 cup bread crumbs
Panko bread crumbs for coating

Grate the zucchinis and place in a colander.
Let set about 30 minutes to drain before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Add the zucchini to the chopped celery and onion.  Add the Old Bay Seasoning, egg and mayonnaise and gently fold everything together.  Add 1/2 cup of bread crumbs and fold again. If you need to add more bread crumbs, do so a tablespoon at a time.

Heat a frying pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Form into patties, dredge patties in the Panko Bread Crumbs.  Saute until golden brown on each side.  Remove from the pan and place on a baking sheet.  Finish cooking in a 350Fdegree oven for 15 minutes.  Serve with your favorite tartar sauce. Enjoy!

Tartar Sauce

3 T. red onion, finely chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 small potato (peeled, cooked and mashed)
2 T. pickle relish
1 T fresh parsley

Stir together all ingredients and chill.  Serve on top of the "crab cake."

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Apple~Cranberry Puff Pancake

Sunday morning breakfast is always special.  When we were little, we'd have a quick glass of juice and maybe a piece of toast before rushing off to church, but when we got home...pancakes or waffles, biscuits and eggs, scrapple or bacon would be started by mom to reward us for being patient (and good) at church!  I love making breakfast and even though most of our Sundays there are only two of us, that tradition remains.

Sundays are also a little hard right now.  I would look forward to a call from Kelly, telling me what they had done on Saturday, what new words or funny thing Ari had done, and what project she would try to do while Ari napped.  (The last photo of Kelly and I together in March 2010).

It's quiet...but busying myself in the kitchen helps.  I thought back to a puff pancake my mother had made and decided to pull out some apples and see what would develop.  I remember the batter was similar to a popover batter and the apples were sauteed with butter and spices.  Like usual, I've added a few things my mother didn't and instead of pure maple syrup, I've switched to Agave Nectar, which Kelly turned me onto because of its low glycemic index.  My finished dish also as vegetarian bacon beside it, but I'm sure Kelly would have loved to have chosen scrapple, especially the homemade version my mother made. 

Apple~Cranberry Puff Pancake
3T dark or light brown sugar, packed
3T unsalted butter
3-4 apples, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 cup dried cranberries (use fresh in the Fall)
2 T Boiled Apple Cider
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 tsp. Cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. cardamon, 1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg (my trilogy!)

Melt butter in a large sauce pan or frying pan.  Add brown sugar, cider, and spices.  Stir together, then, add the apples.  Add the extract and cook 7-8 minutes on med/low heat until tender.
Preheat oven to 400F-degrees.  I poured the apple mixture into a baking dish, but if you used an iron skillet to saute the apples, that could go directly into the oven.
I used my blender to mix the batter and have the ingredients listed in the order they should be added to that appliance.  You can also whisk the ingredients in a bowl.

4 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. apple flavoring
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 T melted butter

Blend all ingredients on high until well incorported.
Make sure you scrape down the sides to incorporate all the dry ingredients.  Pour the batter over the apple~cranberry mixture.
Bake in the preheated oven 17 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and "puffy".  Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and serve warm with your favorite syrup!  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

More Snack Food--Soft Pretzels

Picnics are probably one of my most favorite times growing up...and holiday picnics were even better.  I love the community of family and friends coming together, celebrating the day and sharing good food.  We had some great picnics, not only at my Mom's, but later when I was married, and living in other states, having friends over brought back those memories. 

Soft pretzels come to mind as one of those great warm weather snacks; tastes great with lemonade or a cold beer, provides salt to balance electrolytes, and the carbs keep you going until the main entrees are ready!  I like mine with melted cheese (Velveeta!) but my brothers would have chosen a spicy, honey mustard.  Creating this popular snack will be a hit at your next picnic...I guaranteeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Soft Pretzels
1 pkg. or 1 scant T of dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105F to 115F-degrees)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2-2/3 cup cold water

2 T baking soda
1/2 cup cold water
Pretzel Salt (Coarse)
2 T melted butter

Dissolve the dry yeast into the warm water.  Sprinkle about 1/2 tsp. sugar over yeast.  Let rest for 5-7 minutes until foamy.  In the food processor bowl, process the flour and salt.  Add the foamy yeast and pulse for 5 seconds.  While the processor is running add the cold water, starting with just 1/2 cup.  Add more water just until the dough comes together in a ball.
Turn out onto board and knead a few minutes.  Place into a one-gallon plastic bag coated with Crisco Oil Spray (like PAM).  Let rise 30 minutes. 
Preheat oven to 400F-degrees.
Mix the baking soda and water in a shallow bowl.  Punch down the dough and divide it into 8-equal pieces.
  Roll each piece into a 16-inch rope and twist into a pretzel shape.
Dip each in the baking soda solution and place on an oiled baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.  Sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven, brush with melted butter and cool slightly on wire racks.  Serve warm.  Makes 8 pretzels.  Enjoy!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Homemade Graham Crackers

Yes...homemade Graham crackers!  I bought my Cuisinart in 1982 in a little kitchen boutique in Beverly Hills.  Actually, they had the lowest price for the new DLC-X, which was the largest food processor made at the time.  I was excited because I could now make up to 3 loaves a bread at a time!  I remember calling my mother to share in my excitement, but all she could say was, "bread should be made in a wooden bowl!" That concept was changed in a couple of years when she, herself, bought a Cusinart!!

I took a couple of classes, offered by Cuisinart, and one of the best things I made were these Graham Crackers.  I love baking them.  They're super easy to make, take just a few ingredients and will bring a big smile to your little ones.  I know this to be true because I would make them for my kids and that was their reaction each time.  Whether they had them plain, with peanut butter, or when we did a cookout...the base for Smores. Try them for your picnic this weekend and start a family tradition.

2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugan, packed
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 T water
Use the metal blade of your food processor to combine the flours, brown sugar, soda, salt and butter, about 10 pulses.  Add the remaining ingredients, pulse 5 times, then process until the mixture forms a mass, about 20 seconds.
  Remove the dough and press it into a ball, then, divide in half.  Cover one half with plastic wrap to prevent drying out while you work with the other half.  If you have a kitchen scale, weigh the halves to ensure they're even.
Preheat oven to 325F-degrees.  Butter a 14 x 17-inch baking rimless baking sheet.
Roll out the first half of the dough, right onto the baking sheet.  Lightly flour the surface of the dough so it will roll out very thin and covers the baking sheet.  Use a sharp knife to cut the dough; on the short side every 3-inches; on the long side every 4-inches.  Then use the dull side of the knife to divide the rectangles in half.  Prick evenly with a fork or use a pastry roller with tines, as I did.
Bake 6 minutes, then turn the sheet and continue baking for another 6 minutes until evenly browned and firm to the touch.  Repeat process with the remaining dough.  Makes 2 dozen graham crackers.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Picnic Buns

Memorial Day is around the corner and it made me think back to all the picnics we had at my grandparents--Grandpa Frank and Grandma Gladys' house.  That was their holiday, whereas, 4th of July was my mother's!  My grandfather would grill hot dogs and hamburgers, which have since been replaced with Boca Burgers and Smart Dogs at our house!  There was a big wash tub full of our favorite sodas; Root Beer, Cream Soda, and Dr. Pepper and lots of salads and desserts made by my grandmother and mom.  I loved those picnics under the sycamore tree and relaxing in the swing that my grandfather had made afterward. 

I came across this recipe on the King Arthur Catalogue site for Hamburger or Hot Dog Buns and decided to make some up ahead of time to try out the recipe.  They turned out perfectly and were really easy to make.  I thought they'd be a great addition to any picnic, in fact, probably be the hit of the party.  Enjoy!

Hamburger or Hot Dog Buns
2 T granulated sugar
2 packets or 2 scant tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105F to 115F-degrees)
2 cups warm milk (105F to 115F-degrees)
2 T vegetable oil
2 tsp. salt
5 1/2 to 7 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 T cold water
Sesame, Poppy, or your favorite combination
*There is a fairly wide variation for a couple of reasons.  First, you'll find in the summer that you'll need a bit more flour to absorb a given amount of liquid than you will in the winter.  Especially, if you live in an area with humidity...flour acts somewhat like a slightly dampened sponge as a result.

In a KitchenAid, dissolve the sugar, yeast and warm water. 

Wait until the yeast mixture foams, then, add the milk, oil, and salt and 3 cups of flour to the yeast mixture.  Beat vigorously for 2 minutes.  I switched to the dough hook.  Gradually add flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.

Knead until you have a smooth elastic dough.  Because this dough is so slack, you may find that a bowl scraper or bench knife can be helpful in scooping up the dough and folding it over on itself.

Put dough into an oiled bowl, turning once to coat the entire ball of dough in oil.  Cover with a plastic wrap or a tightly-woven dampened towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

I divided the dough in half and made up six hamburger buns and ten hot dog buns...using the appropriate pans

Note:  Cover the pans with plastic wrap, sprayed with baking oil.  For the hot dog buns, I placed a baking sheet, weighed down, to keep the buns uniformed.
  Let rise once more, about 45 minutes.  (You can also form the buns on a regular baking sheet, placing them about 3 inches apart. )

Preheat oven to 400F-degrees.  Just before baking, lightly brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash and sprinkle with whatever seeds strike your fancy.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 190F-degrees.  When the buns are done, remove them from the baking sheet to cool on a wire rack.  This will prevent the crust from becoming soggy.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ooey Gooey Layered Bars

Last June, when I was visiting Kelly, we baked together and one of the bars we made were 7-layer Bars.  These bars became popular in the late 50s and 60s when I grew up.  My mother would bake these wonderful bars, but we called them Conga Bars...why, I don't know.  I've pumped up the flavors and decided to rename my bars Ooey Gooey Layered Bars.  The ooey gooey comes from a play session I had with Ari when I made up a batch of "play dough".  I told him to put his hands into the dough and when he did, I exclaimed, "ooey gooey!"  He giggled so hard and his laughter filled the house that Kelly came in from the living room to see what was so funny.  Her "boys" as she would call Matt and Ari, made us all laugh and we loved the silliness they added to what would be very serious at times with cancer.  I needed to laugh today and share a memory. 

Ooey Gooey Layered Bars

5 cups graham cracker crumbs *
1 cup melted butter
2 cups chocolate chips**
2 cups sweetened coconut
2 cans-14oz. Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 1/2 cups chopped toasted Pecans, optional

*I didn't have 5 cups graham cracker crumbs.  Oh, I suppose I could have baked up a batch of graham crackers, but instead I saw a box of Girl Scout Do-si-dos cookies my husband had bought while I was away in Taiwan.  I used one package, ground in the food processor.  Try any of your favorite cookies ground to equal the amount needed.
**I used 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 cup butterscotch chips,  try mixing up your favorite assortment.

Butter a 9" x 13" baking pan.  Line the bottom with parchment.  Preheat oven 325F-degrees.  In a glass bowl mix the crumbs with the melted butter, then, press into the prepared pan.

Sprinkle the chips over the crumbs, then, sprinkle with the coconut.  Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the the mixture.  If you're using nuts, sprinkle over top.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes until the top is a golden brown.

Let cool 30 minutes.  Run a straight spatula or knife around the edges.  If you used a springform baking pan, like I did, remove the sides.  Cool an additional two hours before cutting into squares.  Enjoy and share the laughter!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Kelly's Giant Gingerbread Cookies

My mother was a strong woman.  She raised eight children, a lot of the time on her own while my Dad was away during WWII, Korean War, and on "Mediterranean cruises" with the navy.  As I was raised, I've raised our daughters to be strong, but also, kind, generous, forgiving and tolerant and it's these qualities that will help our older daughter Erin and myself go on after Kelly's death on May 14, 2010.  I made promises to Kelly, that I intend to keep, one is going on with this blog.

These cookies were one of Kelly's favorites.  She made a version to send to friends from "The Big Fat Cookie Book" by Elinor Klivans that I gave her one Christmas.  I was reminded by her friend Steven that he looked forward to these cookies as a special treat from Kelly.  I created this version as a memory to our sweet daughter, who always put others first.  They're GIANT because Kelly would say, "if I can only have one cookie...I want it to be Big!"
 Kelly's Giant Gingerbread Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
2 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground cardamon
1/2 tsp. Ginger Extract
3 cups All-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup Ginger Mini Chips
Sparkling White Sugar

In the KitchenAid bowl, using the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth.  Add the sugars and beat well.  Add the molasses, spices, and extract and beat well again.  In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt.  Whisk together, then, add to butter mixture.  Fold in the crystallized ginger chips.
Use a one-third scoop to measure the dough.  Roll tops in the Sparkling Sugar Crystals.
Place on a parchment-lined (or use a Silpat) baking sheet.  Allowing room for cookies to spread.  I was able to get five on the baking sheet.
Bake in a preheated 350F-degree oven.  Set timer for 7 minutes, then turn the pan and bake another 6 minutes.  Allow cookies to cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet before moving them to a rack to cool completely.  

I ate mine with a Diet Coke, but Kelly would have preferred a cup of herbal tea.  Enjoy!

While you're eating your cookie, I'd like to share with you a short story Kelly wrote me for Mother's Day in 2001. It was definitely one of my favorites of her view of the women in our family.  Kelly was a wonderful writer and was recently published in the Spring 2010 Brain Child magazine.  Other narratives can be found on the blog she did with her best friend, Kandyce, Notions & Threads. 

     The bathing suit was pink and purple with stripes that pointed in towards a center seam and formed large V's down my body.  It was last summer's bathing suite, the bathing suit of a ten year old.  At eleven, my body pushed out the fabric and caused the once straight and symmetrical V's to spread and bend in distorted angles.  Panicked, I stepped away from the full length mirror only to shut the door to my bedroom.  I should've tried the suit on earlier I thought, staring again at my reflection.  The pool party was a week away--not enough time to shrink my body down to the straight lines of a year ago.  I was consoled by the fact that my hipbones still protruded quite a bit though they no longer strictly defined my shape.  Instead they were lost in mounds of flesh that curved out from my waist and extended around to my backside.  As I pinched my sides and stretched the skin away from my bones, I thought of the dissected cat I'd seen once while peering into one of the high school classrooms.  Cut open and pinned helplessly to a tray of black hardened tar, the cat's skin had been pulled back so that globs of yellow, stickly fat spilled out.  I pulled my tee-shirt and shorts over the suit and ran down to the basement to search through piles of discarded junk until I found the collapsible stationary bike my mother had bought and never used.  I'd use it, I decided.  I'd use it every day until the offensive yellow globs dissolved away from my beautiful, small bones.
     All that week at school I stared enviously at my best friend's undeveloped body--thin despite the constant intake of junk food.  Her body reminded me of a bird's skeleton.  I imagined I could see through her pale, tissue paper skin to the hollow, weightless bones of a bird.  I felt heavy and awkward around her.   Her thighs were the same width pressed against the seat of a chair as they were when she stood up unlike mine which doubled in size.  When I plopped down cross-legged, half moons unfolded at my sides where my backside met the floor.  It was the thought of this friend and others like her that made me unfold that bike and pedal like hell--like Dorothy frantically trying to escape the wicked witch--every afternoon until the day before the pool party.

*     *     *     *
     Once again in front of the mirror, once again pulling the fat away from the child's body hidden beneath it, I choked on the realization that nothing had changed in seven days.  My body had taken on a new shape and I felt clumsy and stifled in my skin like I had been zipped into a horrible Halloween costume.  The zipper on my costume was stuck; this unrecognizable body was mine to keep.  As I turned away from the mirror to get dressed I began to sob, my shoulders rising and falling with the spastic outpouring of held in tears.  My mother, hearing my outbursts, rushed in to inspect me for wounds.
     "What's wrong? Did you fall? Did you cut yourself?"
     "My bathing suit..." I sputtered. "Look how fat I am! It doesn't fit!" She stood behind me and looked over my shoulder into the mirror.
     "You have hips!" she exclaimed, giving a name to the fat that had overtaken my middle.
     "Hips?" I repeated.  I had been somewhat prepared for the development of breasts...but hips? To me, hips were reserved for grown women who carried bags of groceries while trying to get their car keys out of their purses.  They were the things mothers swung their children up and on when they became too cranky to walk.  When my aunts put their hands on them, it was a warning to stay out of trouble and when, as a small child, my mother pulled me to her, they were what I cradled my head.
     Hips and stomachs and breasts.  Warm, soft places that curve out and hold babies and children and men.  Suddenly the pink and purple suite felt out of place, childish, on my round swing-side-to-side-as-I-walk-down-the-street, hips.  I imagined holding armfuls of brown paper bags while cleverly carrying a ring of keys in my mouth.  I saw myself moving easily with a crying baby balanced on my curved out hip.  I belonged in the kitchen at night with my aunts, sitting around the table smoking cigarettes and sipping creamy coffee while pulling at loose strands of hair.  I would understand their jokes and loud laughter.  I would know what caused small lines to creep around their eyes and mouths and why they always seemed to collapse into their chairs at the end of the day.  All of this I would know and the knowledge would fill out my body and settle in soft hills.  In my stomach, breasts and hips.

Kelly Jo Feinberg
8 October 1972 - 14 May 2010


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Perfect Panini-Sun-dried Tomato/Onion/Basil Bread

Paninis are the latest rage! The word panino (Italian for small bread) first appeared in a 16th-century
cookbook.  The panini became trendy in Milanese bars in the 1970s and 80s where the bread was stuffed with prosciutto, salami, ham or mortadella and a few slices of processed cheese, then, toasted.  In the United States and the UK, paninis are typically grilled or toasted.  My sister is having some friends over on Wednesday and is making paninis.  I wanted to share this recipe because it will make a great panini or just a simple grilled cheese.

Sun-dried Tomato/Onion/Basil Bread
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (in oil)*
1/3 cup (or 1 small onion) chopped
Saute this mixture in a sauce pan over medium heat, until the onion is translucent. Set aside to cool.
*If you use dehydrated sun-dried tomatoes, first hydrate in boiling water.  Add 1-2 T of olive oil to the sauce pan with the onion.

In the food processor (or use the KitchenAid with a dough hook) add:
5 cups Bread Flour
1 T sugar
1T Kosher salt
1 T dried Basil
1 T olive oil
Pulse a couple of times to incorporate. Add the tomato/onion mixture and pulse again.

In a glass measuring cup, measure:
1/2 cup hot water
2 T active dry yeast
When this mixture "bubbles" add to the ingredients in the food processor.  While the processor is running, pour in an additional 1-1 1/2 cups warm water.  When the dough comes together in a ball, you've added enough water.  Turn out onto the bread board and knead until smooth.
Place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise 40 to 45 minutes or until doubled.  For the second rise, place the dough in a  "Pullman" loaf pan, or you could easily use a brotform and bake on a stone. (If you only have regular loaf pans ( 9"x5"), then this dough will make two loaves.)
Preheat the oven to 400F-degrees.  Use a bread razor to slash the top.
Bake for 35 minutes or until the internal temperature is 180F-degrees.  Let cool completely before slicing.  The crust is crunchy and the interior is soft--perfect for paninis!  Enjoy!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

April's Winner...

I am a little behind, but as Kelly would say..."that's not unusual."  I'm not a "clock watcher" as my husband is, but I did want to do the apron give-away before I start anew. 
The winner of April's Give-Away apron is Ginny!
I'm working on May's Give-Away with a special tribute to our precious daughter, Kelly.  Love, Susan

Friday, May 21, 2010

Going Home...

We're flying home tonight.  My thoughts drift back to when I was here in March and Kelly said to me, "I feel the best I've ever felt."  I don't know what happened in a mere five weeks; all I know is I'm sad.  One of Kelly's best friends gave me a little card with a very powerful message and I'd like to share it with all of you who have sent your prayers.

"Perhaps some people just aren't meant to be in our lives forever.  Perhaps they are just passing through...they get it all done faster than the rest of us.  It may be that some people just come through our lives to bring us something, a gift, a blessing, a lesson we need to learn, and that's why they are here.  The lesson may be about love or giving or caring.  That is their gift to us.  When the gift is given, then they are free to move on.  They are special souls who leave a gift that lasts forever."

I know after Kelly's memorial service yesterday, this is true.  She gave so many gifts, blessings, and taught us all to be kind, respectful and patient with the people that come into our lives.

Kelly made me promise to keep up the blog.  On Monday, I will begin again and share, not only a special recipe that Kelly loved, but a short story she wrote and gave to me on Mother's Day several years ago.   Thank you all, again for your wonderful prayers.  I hold them dear while I heal from the loss of my precious daughter.  Susan