Archive for the ‘Cooking with Kids’ Category

Snow Day

5 February 2009

Sous Chefs Anna (left) and Mavourneen (right)
Sous Chefs Anna (left) and Mavourneen (right)

 

 
A Note to Readers:
 
 
This blog has moved. For newer posts plus copies of all the old ones (even this one!), please visit me at the All-New IN OUR GRANDMOTHERS’ KITCHENS.
  
Tinky
 

I used to jump up and down when I looked outside and saw fresh snow on the ground. Once I got old enough to shovel and drive through snow it lost a lot of its charm for me. I still like being reminded that it can be a source of joy and play, however.

 

My mother and I are visiting my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew in northern Virginia to get away from the ice and snow. Last week the snow followed us here for a couple of days, much to the delight of young Michael and his friends.

 

Unplanned snow days are perfect holidays for kids. The kids don’t have anywhere to go. (In fact, in many cases they CAN’T go anywhere.) They don’t have any extra homework. And they have mounds of cold, malleable snow to slide around in and hurl at each other.

 

Michael and his friends spent most of the morning last Wednesday outdoors trading sleds, throwing snowballs, and generally frolicking. By mid-afternoon some of them were beginning to long for a little indoor activity. I asked for volunteers to help make Boston Cream Pie. Several kids offered to EAT the pie (and in fact they all ended up getting some), but my most stalwart helpers were Michael’s neighbors and friends Anna Aguto and Mavourneen Carr.

 

The girls signed up, of course, to bake a “pie”—and they did look a little surprised to discover that Boston Cream Pie is a cake (so named because pie pans were more common than cake pans in the 19th century, and because the recipe supposedly originated in Boston’s Parker House Restaurant). They were terrific sous chefs nonetheless.

 

I had made the filling (which has to chill) the day before, but the girls helped with every other step of the process—mixing, baking, filling the pie, creating the glaze, and applying the glaze. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner they went just a little wild with heart-shaped sprinkles on top, but the final product was lovely, festive, and consumed before sundown.

 

I hope we cook again soon. In the meantime, here is our recipe. The filling and glaze are from Dede Wilson’s fun new Birthday Cake Book (published by Harvard Common Press). 

 
 

This is all that remains of the snow in Virginia........

This is all that remains of the snow in Virginia........

Boston Cream Pie

Ingredients:

 

for the filling:

 

1/4 cup sugar

3 egg yolks, at room temperature

2-1/2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 pinch salt

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

 

for the cake:

 

1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, separated, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1-1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

 

for the glaze:

 

3/4 cup heavy cream

1-1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup

7-1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, VERY finely chopped

 

Instructions

 

for the filling:

 

Place the milk in a medium nonreactive saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium heat; remove it from the heat and keep it warm.

 

Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks in a medium-size bowl until creamy. Whisk in the flour, cornstarch, and salt until smooth.

 

Pour about 1/4 of the warm milk over the egg yolk mixture, whisking gently. Add the remaining milk, and whisk to combine. Immediately pour the mixture back into the pan, and cook over low-medium heat. As soon as the mixture begins to boil, whisk vigorously and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to keep the filling from scorching. It should be thick enough to mound when dropped from a spoon. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla.

 

Allow the filling to cool, stirring occasionally to release heat. When it is almost at room temperature, scrape it into an airtight container, press some plastic wrap on the surface to keep a skin from forming, snap on the cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until thoroughly chilled.

 

for the cake:

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 9-inch-round cake pans.

 

In a large bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy.  Gradually beat in the sugar, mixing well. Beat in the yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

 

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add them alternately with the milk to the butter batter, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

 

Wash your beaters so that they are clean for the egg whites! In a small bowl, beat the whites until soft peaks fold. Fold them into the batter, and pour the batter into the pans.

 

Bake the layers for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on racks for 10 minutes before removing from the pans. Cool the layers completely.

 

for the glaze:

 

Place the cream and corn syrup in a large saucepan, and bring them to a boil over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat. Immediately sprinkle the chocolate in. Cover the pot and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. The warm cream will melt the chocolate. Gently stir the ganache until smooth.

 

for assembly:

 

Place one cake layer on a large serving platter. Spread the filling evenly over the layer, and top it with the other layer.

 

Pour the chocolate glaze on top. Gently spread it toward the edges. Allow it to drop down the sides. You will have a little too much glaze, but your helpers will help you eat it.

Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour (up to 6 hours) before serving. It is best eaten on the day on which it is made. Serves 8 to 10.

pieweb3

 

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Cooking with Sugar

30 November 2008

michael-and-tinky-stir-web

          A note to readers: This blog has moved! For new posts plus copies of older ones (including this one!) please visit the new IN OUR GRANDMOTHERS’ KITCHENS. See you there……..

         Tinky

          My nephew Michael loves having my mother and me in the house. Although I’d like to attribute his joy to our adorable personalities, I’m afraid that the real lure is, in Michael’s words, “cooking with sugar.” We tend to make delicious sweet things for and with him, particularly during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.

          As far as I’m concerned, the sugar we cook with is really our boy. If you haven’t cooked with children lately, grab yours or go out and borrow one and head right into the kitchen. Kids remind us that sifting, kneading, and stirring can all be forms of play. Young cooks tend to make a bit of a mess in the kitchen, but grownups almost always end up smiling as they mop up. Moreover, the junior chefs are usually game to help erase the marks of their work in the kitchen, especially if bribed with a home-made treat.

          Last Monday, Michael, his mom Leigh, my mother Jan, and I all got together to work on one of Michael’s cub-scout tasks, reading and following through on a recipe. Naturally, he chose to make something sweet–butterscotch brownies. This recipe is a great starter for kids because it takes only 15 to 20 minutes to get into the oven, and all of the prep work can be done in the saucepan with which you melt butter at the very beginning.

          Michael proudly took the brownies to his scout meeting that evening. He did save one or two for home consumption, however!

michael-brownie-web

Butterscotch Brownies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter

1 pound light brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cups flour

1 tablespoon vanilla

Instructions:
          Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with aluminum foil, and grease the foil as well as you can (it’s a little awkward to work with).

In a 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter, stirring frequently to keep it from burning. Remove it from the heat.

          Using a wooden spoon, stir in the brown sugar, being careful to crush any lumps in the sugar. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, and then stir in the baking powder and salt. Stir in the flour, followed by the vanilla.

         Spoon the batter into the prepared pan (the batter will be thick so you’ll need a spatula), and bake the brownies for 25 to 30 minutes, or until they are ALMOST firm to the touch. Allow them to cool on a rack; then slice them into squares. Makes about 32 squares (depending on how big you cut them!).

 

Nana's Birthday Cake

MORE Cooking with Sugar: Nana's Birthday Cake