Sunday, April 27, 2014

Copycat Duncan Hines Boxed Cake Mix. [[Sigh.]]

This made my brain hurt.

Copycat Duncan Hines Boxed Cake Mix

According to the recipe: "This cake tastes like a boxed white cake mix only better, it has never failed me yet, it is a recipe that I use over and over again for the *perfect* white cake, and so easy to make too! really anything can be addded (sic) to this cake, tiny chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit, add in some food colouring for a pastel coloured cake with matching frosting, this makes a wonderful birthday cake!--------- * NOTE* as one reviewer stated they omitted the salt, omitting the salt will change the texture of this cake completely, so please do *not* omit, using butter-flavor Crisco is acceptable but will alter the taste somewhat but not the texture ;-) "

Yes, dear, "like a boxed white cake mix, only better."

That's called a scratch cake.

Up next: copycat Cool Whip.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Easter pies: sweet (ricotta)

It's tha-a-at time of year, when we eats lots of pie...

Apologies for that....but this time of year, Italians do eat lots of pie, both sweet and savory. 

After abstaining from meat, dairy, and eggs for the forty days of Lent (back when one did abstain from them for the forty days of Lent), one’s craving for meat and "i latticini" must have been immense.  It’s then easy to understand how a savory pie that contains pounds of meat and cheese bound together only with eggs came about.

This sweet cheese pie, in contrast, is even by today’s standards, pleasantly light and satisfying.  It is nothing at all like a New York-style cheesecake.  This pie is light, sweet, tender, moist, and has a very nice citrus background flavor.  I think you’ll like it.

This pie freezes well.

Crust for sweet pie (for 2 pies)
2 c  flour
1/2 c  sugar
1 tsp  baking powder
pinch  salt
1 c butter (2 sticks)
1  egg yolk
1/2 c  ice-cold water

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in margarine.  Add egg yolk.  Drizzle water into mixture until it holds together.  Refrigerate 15 - 30 minutes.  Roll out and line pie tins.

Filling for sweet pie
1 1/2 lb  ricotta
6  eggs
1 c  sugar
2 Tbp   cooked rice
2 tsp     vanilla
juice of ½ lemon
grated rind of 1 orange
pinch  nutmeg
cinnamon for top

Beat all ingredients until smooth.  Pour into pie crusts.  Dust top with cinnamon.  (You may also put a lattice top crust, if you desire).  Bake at 350°F until cheese is set and a knife comes out clean, about 35- 40 minutes.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pasta e ceci

Simple, filling, nutritious, delicious.

A variation on pasta and beans (pasta e fagioli), and like pasta and beans, can be made wholly meatless for Lenten suppers.

2 medium onions, chopped fine
3 carrots, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp hot pepper flakes
1/4 c olive oil
4 strips bacon, chopped or 4 oz salt pork, skin removed, chopped fine (optional)
1 28-oz can tomatoes (I used the "chef's cut" or diced tomatoes.  Whole tomatoes lightly crushed work fine, too.  You can also use canned crushed tomatoes, but I find them a insufficiently chunky for my tastes.)
4-5 cups water (or optionally, chicken stock)
1 19-oz can chick peas ("ceci"), drained and rinsed
bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup ditalini pasta

In a 5- or 6-qt Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high heat.  If you're using the bacon or salt pork, add it to the pot, and cook until lightly browned and partly rendered.

Add the onions, carrots, garlic, hot pepper flakes.  Saute about 5 minutes, until softened.

Add the chick peas, tomatoes, stock or water, bay leaf, thyme.

Bring to a simmer, lower heat, cover, and let simmer gently for about 30 minutes.  Taste for seasoning, and adjust accordingly.

Bring back to a robust simmer, add the pasta, stir, reduce heat to a low flame, and cook about 12 minutes until pasta is tender.  The soup will thicken considerably as the pasta cooks.  If you prefer it "soupier," add additional stock or water. 

Serve immediately, and pass grated pecorino cheese and hot pepper flakes at the table.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Finding and keeping culinary traditions

I love this article from the New York Times. 

"'Ndunderi" are mentioned in the article.  I've never heard that word, but a quick online search shows them to be essentially gnocchi, though the common thread is that they're gnocchi made with ricotta.  Seems they're a specialty of Ravello, a lovely town atop a cliff on the Amalfi Coast. 

I'm frankly surprised I've not heard of "'ndunderi," as they come from the provincia di Salerno, which is where my family comes. 

Will have to do a bit of investigative work!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Everything that's wrong with American cooking, part 2.


Tiramisù made with JELL-O® Instant Pudding and COOL WHIP®.

Everything that's wrong with American cooking, part 1.