Posts Tagged ‘Michael Weisblat’

Community Easter Bread

7 April 2009
Leigh watches Michael and Benjamin place their eggs in the bread.

Leigh watches Michael and Benjamin place their eggs in the bread.

 
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
 
Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without the Easter egg.

 

This symbol of spring represents fertility, youth, and new beginnings—all the hopes that suddenly arise in our breasts when the sun rises higher and earlier again in the spring.

 

This braided loaf is made more festive (and more seasonal) by the inclusion of eggs in its folds. Plain eggs work just fine, but I always welcome an excuse to get kids coloring things so I asked my nephew Michael and his friends Benjamin and Carson to dye some eggs for my loaf. 

 
 

Carson rolls an egg in his dye.

Carson rolls an egg in his dye.

I got extra help from my sister-in-law Leigh, who is MUCH better at braiding bread than I am.


So my Easter bread is a community event. I hope yours will be, too!

Leigh braids the rolls of bread.

Leigh braids the rolls of bread.

 

 

 

Ingredients:

 

 

 

 

2/3 cup milk

2 tablespoons sweet butter

1/4 cup sugar

1 packet yeast

2-1/2 cups flour (approximately)

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs for the batter
4 to 5 eggs in their shells for the braiding (dyed if you like)

 

 

Instructions:

 

   

In a small saucepan heat the milk and butter just to lukewarm; the butter will be soft but not melted.

In a medium bowl combine 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the yeast. Pour the milk/butter mixture over them, and leave the yeast to proof for 5 to 10 minutes.

 

Beat in 1/2 cup flour, the remaining sugar, the salt, and the 2 eggs; mix well. Add 1-1/2 cups more flour, and stir.

 

Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Knead it for 1 to 2 minutes, adding a bit more flour as needed.  Allow the dough to rest for 5 to 10 minutes; then continue kneading, adding more flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

 

Grease a medium bowl, and place the dough in it. Cover with a damp towel, and allow the dough to rise until it doubles in bulk, about 1 hour.

 

Uncover the dough, punch it down, and divide it into 2 mounds. Let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Stretch each mound into a roll at least 24 inches long.

 

Form a rounded braid with the two rolls, sealing them at the ends. Place the bread on a greased (or parchment-covered) baking sheet. Insert the eggs in their shells into spots in the braid. (If you wait to do this until the bread has risen again, the eggs will pop out of the bread; this happened to us!)

 

Cover the braid with a damp dish towel, and let it rise until it doubles, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees about 15 minutes before you want to bake the bread.  

Bake the braided bread until it is a golden brown, between 35 and 55 minutes depending on your oven. Makes 1 loaf.

 

easter-bread-web

 

Advertisements

A King Cake for Mardi Gras

21 February 2009

cakecloseweb

 
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

 
Mardi Gras is a time of taking chances—so I decided to try once more to make a King Cake. Readers of this blog may recall that I tried making one at Epiphany and was less than thrilled with the result. My mother taught me to persevere, however, and luckily King Cakes are eaten in Louisiana from Epiphany straight through to the beginning of Lent. I sifted through many different recipes identifying the cake elements that most appealed to me and went to work.

 

I’m actually very happy with my new cake, although the filling gushed into the middle so I didn’t end up with the classic ring. Mine was more of a round blob. Nevertheless, it puffed up beautifully and tasted like a sweet, creamy coffee cake.

 

Like the previous King Cake, it concealed a quarter (more authentic bakers would use a bean or a toy Baby Jesus) within its yeasty folds. The person who found the quarter in his or her cake was crowned King or Queen for the Day.

 

So—from my house to yours—here is a King Cake recipe. The biggest trick is to take your time; since it uses yeast this cake can’t be rushed. It’s a big cake so you’ll help your sanity and your waistline if you have young eaters in the house. Feel free to cheat a little and ensure that one of them gets to wear the crown! As you can see from the picture below that’s what we did at our house.

(Don’t tell Michael!)

Le Roi du Mardi Gras

Le Roi du Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras King Cake

 

Ingredients:

for the cake:

2 packets yeast (do not use instant)

2 teaspoons sugar plus 1/2 cup sugar later

4 to 5 cups flour

1 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons salt

the zest from 1 lemon (save the lemon to make juice for the glaze)

1/2 cup lukewarm milk

5 egg yolks (you will not need the whites)

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) sweet butter at room temperature

 

for the filling:

 

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon flour

 

for the glaze:

 

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

the juice of 1 lemon

a little water if needed

food coloring as needed

 

Instructions:

 

Place the yeast and the 2 teaspoons sugar in a small bowl. Cover them with lukewarm water, and allow the yeast to proof for 10 minutes.

 

In a large mixing bowl combine 3-1/2 cups of the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, the nutmeg, the salt, and the lemon zest. Stir them together thoroughly (I like to use a whisk for this).

 

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the yeast mixture and warm milk. Stir in the egg yolks, and combine the mixture thoroughly.

 

When the batter is smooth, beat in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. (This takes a little while but eventually works.) Place the dough on a floured board, and knead it, adding more flour as needed. Your dough may end up slightly sticky but should not stick to the board.

 

Knead the dough until it feels smooth; then knead it for 10 minutes more. Don’t be discouraged. This kneading is what gives the final product its wonderful puffiness.

 

Place the dough in a buttered bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and allow it to rise until it doubles in bulk. This will take at least 1-1/2 hours and perhaps more.

 

When the dough has risen, punch it down. Using your fingers, pat and stretch the dough to shape it into a long, short rectangle, at least 24 inches long and 6 to 8 inches wide. Let the dough rest while you beat together the ingredients for the filling.

 

If you want to, place a quarter or a bean in the middle of the dough. Gently spoon the filling down the center of the strip of dough. Fold the edges up over the filling to form a cylinder that encases the dough. Pinch the edges together to seal the filling as well as you can. Your seams don’t have to be perfect; they will be hidden by the glaze.

 

Pinch the ends of the cylinder together to form a ring, and place it on a silicone- or parchment-covered baking sheet. Let it rise, covered, until it becomes puffy, about an hour. Preheat the oven to 375.

 

Bake the King Cake for 25 to 35 minutes, until it is golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool completely.

 

For the glaze: beat together the sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice, adding a bit of water if needed to make the glaze thick yet pourable. Divide the glaze in three, and color the three glazes purple, green, and gold. Drizzle them artistically over your cake.

 

Serves at least 12.

 

 

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Creole Potato Salad

19 February 2009

potatosaladweb

 
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

 
Next Tuesday is no ordinary Tuesday. It marks the holiday of Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), also known as Shrove Tuesday and Carnival. The day before the beginning of Lent was officially added to the Catholic calendar in 1582 by Pope Gregory XII. The good times have been rolling ever since.

 

Mardi Gras is a day of excess. Diets are broken. Jazz is trumpeted through the streets. Costumes are worn. In New Orleans the day is the highlight of the year. The Louisiana-based company Zatarain’s (manufacturer of my favorite Creole seasoning) is working on a petition to ask Congress to make Mardi Gras a national holiday. This campaign may just work: ever since Hurricane Katrina many Americans have felt a special kinship Louisiana and its residents.

 

I obtained this recipe from the helpful people at Zatarain’s. The colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold so I made the recipe more festive by using baby purple and gold potatoes. I threw in a bit of the tops of the scallions to give the salad a touch of green. The salad is refreshing and not too heavy, with a little zing; the Creole mustard has extra vinegar so there’s no need to add that to the mixture.

 

seasoning1 

Ingredients:

 

3 pounds baby potatoes (you may use red if you don’t have purple and gold)

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup Creole mustard (Zatarain’s makes this, of course!)

1/3 cup sour cream

1/2 teaspoon Creole seasoning (again from Zatarain’s; I used a bit more because I love this seasoning)

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1-1/2 cups diced tomatoes

1/2 cup crumbled bacon (optional but delicious)

2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions (scallions)

 

Instructions:

Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until they are fork tender but not soggy. Drain and quarter them.

In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, sour cream, Creole seasoning, and sugar. Add the warm potatoes, and toss to coat them with the dressing. Add the tomatoes, bacon (if desired), and scallions, and toss lightly.

 

Cover the salad, and refrigerate it for at least to hours to let the flavors blend. Serves 12.

 
 

 

Anna, Gabby, and Michael don beads.

Getting Ready for Mardi Gras: Anna, Gaby, and Michael don masks and beads.

 

 

Happy Birthday, Miss Anthony!

9 February 2009
Susan B. Anthony (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Susan B. Anthony (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

 
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

 

February is chock full of holidays and commemorative days. My second grade class staged a presentation in which our teacher, Miss Asman, asked each of us to represent one of these days. I was assigned a few words about Charles Dickens, who was born on February 7, 1812.

 

A ham even at that early age, I made the most of my role. Nevertheless, I was secretly jealous of the person who talked about Susan B. Anthony, born on February 15, 1820. I had read a book about Miss Anthony’s life and her participation in the struggle for women’s rights. I thought she was an inspiring person to talk about. I still do.

 

Born near Adams, Massachusetts (not far from my home in Hawley), Susan B. Anthony was brought up Quaker. Well educated and articulate, she became active in abolitionism and the temperance movement. In her early 30s she found her true calling as one of the strongest voices this country has ever heard arguing for women’s rights and suffrage.

 

Along with her friend and colleague Elizabeth Cady Stanton she formed the National Woman Suffrage Association. She also wrote and lectured extensively. She actually cast a vote in 1872, although she was arrested and tried for violating the law. She responded to her sentence with an eloquent speech in which she said, “It was we, the people, not we the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the union.”

 

Susan B. Anthony died 14 years before women achieved the right to vote. She is nonetheless remembered as a pioneer in that effort and as a remarkable person, both an indefatigable warrior and the beloved “Aunt Susan” of younger feminists. Just before her death in 1906 she gave her final speech, which ended with the rallying cry, “Failure is impossible.”

 

Last week my friend Peter suggested that as a food writer I should pay culinary tribute to Miss Anthony’s birthday. I called the Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester, New York, and asked whether the people who worked there had any idea what she liked to eat. To my delight I was informed that they had just been discussing this topic. Sue Gaffney kindly sent me the text of a letter draft from 1898 in which Miss Anthony was responding to a group of college juniors who wanted the recipe for her favorite cake.

 

Miss Anthony couldn’t find the actual recipe. (It’s reassuring to know that someone of her stature could have trouble finding things since this is one of my own more frustrating habits.) Instead she gave her correspondents a sponge-cake outline:

Dear Junior Girls: My favorite cake is the old-fashioned sponge, made of eggs, the whites lashed to a stiff froth, the yolks beaten thoroughly with cups of pulverized sugar, a pinch of salt, a slight flavor of almond. Into these stir __ cups of flour – first a little flour, then a little of the white froth – and pour and pour the foaming batter into a dish with a bit of white buttered paper in the bottom. Clap into a rightly tempered oven as quickly as possible and take out exactly at the proper minute, when it is baked just enough to hold itself up to its highest and best estate. Then don’t cut, but break it carefully, and the golden sponge is fit for the gods . . .

 

Well, the dickens is to pay – I can not find the old cook book – so just put in any good sponge cake recipe for me, and then add: “It matters not how good the recipe or the ingredients may be, the cake will not be good unless there is a lot of common sense mixed in with the stir of the spoon.”

 

My helpers and I didn’t quite follow Miss Anthony’s formula, but we came close. We substituted vanilla for almond extract since one of the kids in the neighborhood is allergic to nuts. It seemed a little odd making a feminist’s birthday cake with boys, but I was impressed that these young males had actually heard of Miss Anthony (two of them had coins with her face on them). And after all part of feminism is part of making sure that the traditional “feminine” arts like baking are open to both genders. So I offer kudos to Michael Weisblat, Carson Carr, and Sam Duffett.

 

We topped our sponge cake off with a little raspberry sauce and whipped cream. It was indeed fit for the gods. I guess we must have blended a sufficiency of common sense into the bowl.

 

The Susan B. Anthony House is hosting a birthday luncheon on Wednesday, February 11. Journalist Lynn Sherr, author of Failure Is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words, will be the featured speaker. At the time of this posting tickets were still available on the house’s web site. If you can’t attend the celebration, feel free to make this cake at home. 

 

Sam, Michael, and Carson take turns lashing egg whites to a stiff froth.

from left to right: Sam, Michael, and Carson take turns lashing egg whites to a stiff froth.

Susan B. Anthony Sponge Cake

 

Ingredients:

 

5 eggs at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

1 pinch salt

1 cup flour

raspberry jam or sauce for garnish (optional)

whipped cream for garnish (optional)

 

 
 
 

We ended up with ONE girl. Michael's friend Anna Capper stopped by in time to help break off pieces of cake.

We ended up with ONE girl. Michael's friend Anna Capper stopped by in time to help break off pieces of cake.

 

 

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cut a piece of wax paper to fit the bottom of a 9-inch tube pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks and extract until they lighten. Gradually beat in half of the sugar.

 

Wash your beaters thoroughly. Beat the egg whites and salt until they form soft peaks. Gently and gradually beat in the remaining sugar. When the peaks are glossy and beginning to stiffen, remove the beaters from the bowl.

 

Fold a quarter of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Pour the remaining egg whites on top, and sift the flour on top of them. Gently fold the flour and egg whites into the batter.

 

Delicately pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until it is a golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Invert the cake over a cooling rack and let it cool completely before coaxing the cake out of the pan. This will probably involve running a knife delicately around the sides of the pan and the tube. Peel off the wax paper.

 

Gingerly break off pieces of the cake. Serve with or without jam and whipped cream. (With is better!) Serves 10.

 

cakeweb1

mandaweb1

 

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