Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Corn Toaster Cakes

When we lived in New Hampshire, Thomas' Corn Toaster Cakes were readily available, right next to the English muffins in the grocery store. We can't find them here in New Mexico and Bill has been longing for them. When he ordered a couple of packages online for almost $20 I knew it was time to find a recipe. 

This is my variation of what I found on Food.com. That recipe includes optional dried orange or lemon rind, which we haven't tried yet. We are still enjoying the nostalgic taste of the cakes without the rind. Give us time...

Fresh out of the oven


Place in a large bowl and warm slightly in microwave to melt the coconut oil:
2 cups milk
1/2 cup coconut oil

Add and beat:
2 eggs 
1/4 cup honey
Optional: 2 tbl. of dried orange or lemon rind

Sift together:
1 1/2 cups flour
2 cups cornmeal
2/3 cup granulated sugar
6 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Stir the sifted ingredients into the milk mixture until just mixed. Spray a muffin top pan (I got mine from Amazon) with Pam. Spoon a scant 1/4 cup of batter into each well for the correct size cake to fit into a standard toaster. 

Bake at 375 F for 10-12 minutes. Remove from pan to cool. Yields 2-1/2 to 3 dozen.

These can be frozen. Remove from freezer and toast lightly in the toaster. Spread with butter.

Muffin top pan

Monday, April 1, 2024

White Bread

I think this came from a post on the Dull Men’s Club page on Facebook, but I neglected to note the author’s name. I am very sorry for that, but wanted to keep the recipe where I could find it. I thank the now-anonymous author/baker for these careful directions. 

I am surprised to see that the recipes yields four loaves, given it only contains 5 or so cups of flour. We'll see. 

1&1/2 tsp active dry yeast 

1 Tbsp sugar 

1 cup warm water 

Combine in a small bowl and set aside to proof. If it doesn't bubble after 15 minutes, your yeast is dead. Buy new yeast and try again. 

1/4 cup oil 

1/4 cup honey 

3 eggs 

4 cups bread flour (plus a little extra for kneading) 

1&1/2 tsp salt 

In a medium size bowl, combine eggs, oil, and honey. Beat with a whisk until smooth. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour. Add your proofed yeast mixture to your egg mixture. Then pour all of that into the center of the flour. Mix until all the flour is incorporated and you have a dough. 

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. If you don't know how to knead dough, it's really very simple. Fold it in half, then press it down with your palm. Then do it again. And again. For 10 minutes. Do not rush this step. You will feel the texture of the dough changing as the gluten develops. Add more flour to your work surface as needed because the dough absorbs it. Remember, 10 whole minutes! 

After 10 minutes, transfer dough to a clean bowl, lightly greased with oil. Brush a little more oil on top of the dough. Cover the bowl with a layer of plastic and then a heavy towel. Leave in a warm spot in your kitchen for 1 hour. I like to turn the oven on very low and let the dough rise on the stovetop.

After 1 hour, the dough should have doubled in size, and when you poke it, the indent stays and doesn't spring back. Divide dough evenly into 4 portions and grease 4 loaf pans. If you don't have loaf pans, you can use a large sheet pan covered with parchment paper. You just won't get as consistent a shape. The braiding step is really optional, but if you want to and you don't know how to braid bread, I suggest you go look up some instructional videos on YouTube. It's easier to learn by watching someone do it. Otherwise, just put each piece of dough in a loaf pan. 

Cover and rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 F. If you want to brush the loaves with an egg wash and add some toppings, do so. If you didn't braid, you'll need to make a slash in the top of each loaf to ensure the inside cooks evenly. Braided loaves don't need this. 

Bake 35 minutes. Depending on the size of your oven, you may need to do it in batches. Do not crowd the oven to save time. I have learned from bitter experience that the bread will burn if you do this. You want at least an inch of space between each pan so they get even heat distribution. 

When the loaves are done, remove them from the pans and leave them on a cooling rack or upside down on a towel. Once they're completely cooled, they can be frozen in Ziploc bags or enjoyed immediately.

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Gaston Beef Stew

From The Joy of Cooking


Sunday, September 18, 2022

Brown Rice

Bring to a boil at least four cups of water for every cup of brown rice you plan to cook. Exact measurements are not necessary. 

Rinse the rice in a colander for 30 seconds. 

Boil, uncovered, on medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, 

Remove from heat, pour rice and water into colander, let drain for 10 seconds. 

Put the rice back into the pot, away from the burner, cover tightly for 10 minutes. 

Fluff with a fork, add salt as needed. 

It took me so many years to learn this simple method.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Blueberry Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze

1 cup of butter, room temperature

1 - 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

3/4 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt or buttermilk, or a combination of any of these)

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 - 2/3 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 - 1/2 cups blueberries

Mix first six ingredients in a stand mixer, beat well. Sift the flour and baking powder onto the creamed mixture. Don't mix it in yet. 

Carefully pour the blueberries on top of the flour, Gentle stir with a spoon until the blueberries are covered with flour (this will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the cake). Then stir all together until well mixed. 

Prepare the bundt pan. Use a piece of waxed paper to grease the pan, even if it has a non-stick coating. I use coconut oil. Pour out any excess oil. Dust the interior of the pan with granulated sugar. Don't forget the center column. Pour out excess sugar. I like using sugar rather that a dusting of flour, because the flour looks unattractive on the surface of the cake. Sugar, on the other hand, gives the cake's crust a bit of crunch. 

Spoon the batter into the pan, smoothing out the top. Bake at 350 F. for 45 minutes or until done. Remove pan from oven, let it rest on a rack for 15 minutes. Gently slide a spatula down the sides to loosen the cake, cover the pan with a serving plate and turn the whole thing over, releasing the cake. Let cool completely. 

Drizzle with Lemon Glaze: 1 - 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tbl. lemon juice, 1 tsp. vanilla. Stir well, add a tiny bit of milk to make the glaze liquid enough to pour.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar Sauce

Note: This makes a pretty acidic sauce. To lessen the bite, take a small amount of this sauce and add some plain chocolate syrup to taste. 

Drizzle over vanilla ice cream; or over watermelon and feta cheese chunks for a cool salad. Also good over fresh berries. 

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Combine the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan, stir to dissolve sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vinegar has been reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir in chocolate pieces until dissolved. Serve warm or store in refrigerator in a covered jar.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Grumpy Cutter's Flaky Square Buttermilk Biscuits

If you read the book, you will love the description of gruff Deputy U.S. Marshall Arliss Cutter teaching his young nephews how to make his Grandpa Cutter's biscuits. I am quoting the entire recipe from Marc Cameron's Alaska novel, Stone Cross. 

3 cups of all-purpose flour

2 tbl. sugar

1 tsp. salt

4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 sticks of butter, frozen (16 tbl.)

1 1/2 cups of buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with a light spray of oil or cover with parchment.

In a bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda.

Grate the two sticks of butter and add to the dry ingredient mixture.

Gently combine until the butter particles are coated. 

Next add the buttermilk and briefly fold it in.

Transfer this dough to a floured spot for rolling and folding.

Shape the dough into a square then roll it out into a larger rectangle. Fold by hand into thirds using a bench scraper. Press the dough to seal it. Use the bench scraper to help shape the dough into flat edges. Turn it 90 degrees and repeat the process of rolling it out into a bigger rectangle and shaping it again. Repeat this process for a total of five times. The dough will become smoother as you go. 

After the last fold, and if time allows, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Otherwise, cut the remaining dough into [12] squares and place one inch apart on the baking sheet. Brush the tops with melted butter. 

Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20 to 24 minutes. Let cool on a rack before serving--if you can wait that long. 

Tips to remember:

  • A buttermilk substitute can be made by adding one teaspoon vinegar to one and a half cups regular milk and letting it stand for a few minutes. 
  • Handle the dough lightly--don't overwork it.
  • Freeze the butter. It make it easier to grate and distribute it throughout the dough.
  • For the very best results, your bowl and other utensils should be cold. 
  • Rolling and folding the dough five times produces the flaky layers--again, don't get too heavy handed.
  • Shaping the dough into a square and cutting it into squares avoids waste and rerolling (and overworking) the scraps. 
  • If time allows, let the dough rest for 30 minutes wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge before you cut into squares. This helps them rise tall in the oven without slumping or sliding. 
Makes about a dozen biscuits. 

Grumpy Cutter's Venison Stew

This recipe comes from Marc Cameron's thriller of an Alaskan novel, Stone Cross. I will quote it as written. 

Note: Grumpy's version calls for venison and a Dutch oven. Arliss uses caribou and cooks it in an Instant Pot. Moose, bison, Dall Sheep, musk ox... or even beef may be substituted. 

1 1/2 pounds of caribou cut into cubes

3 tbl. olive oil

1 - 2 tsp. salt

1 - 2 tsp. pepper

2 - 3 cloves minced garlic

1 tbl. Montreal Steak Seasoning (or similar)

1/2 cup red wine

1 large onion, chopped

2 - 3 tbl. Worcestershire sauce

3 - 4 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into big chunks

4 - 5 carrots, cut into big chunks

2 tbl. corn starch

1 - 2 tbl. of water to add to the corn starch to make a slurry

Add 2 tbl. olive oil to the Instant Pot and turn on the saute function. When the oil starts to sizzle, add the meat and season with the salt, pepper, and Montreal Steak Seasoning. Stir until the meat has browned on all sides. 

Scrape the bottom of the pot for brown bits as you deglaze with the red wine. Add the last tbl. of oil, onions and garlic and cook on the saute setting for two minutes, stirring with the meat. 

Turn the Instant Pot off. 

Add the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, potatoes and carrots. 

Lock the lid and check that the valve is set to seal. Set to cook for 35 minutes on HIGH pressure. It will take 7 to 10 minutes to come up to pressure. Cook on HIGH pressure for 35 minutes. 

Allow for a natural release of pressure for 10 minutes, when the cooking time is up and then move the valve for a final quick release of pressure [be sure to be wearing an oven mitt when you do this]. Meanwhile, whisk the corn starch and water together to make a slurry. 

Add the corn starch slurry to the steaming hot stew, stirring continuously as it thickens. Stew is done and ready to serve. 

Monday, August 30, 2021

Grumpy Cutter's Cowboy Chili Pie

This recipe is from the novel Stone Cross, by Marc Cameron. 

 2 lbs. ground beef

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbl. oil

2 tbl. chili powder

2 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. ground cumin

2 tbl. flour

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice

1 7 oz. can diced green chiles

2 to 3 cups grated cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1 8 1/2 corn meal muffin mix

1 12 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained

2 eggs

1/3 cup sour cream

Cook beef, onion, garlic in oil in a large iron frying pan until meat is done. Drain excess oil

Combine chili powder, cumin, oregano, and flour. Sprinkle over meat. Stir while cooking over medium heat for one minute. Mix in chiles and tomatoes with juice. Cover with shredded cheese and set aside. 

Mix eggs and sour cream into corn muffin mix and stir until combined. Add drained corn and stir. Space rounded spoonfuls of corn bread mixture on top of cheese. 

Bake at 375 degrees F. for 20 to 30 minutes, until corn dumplings are browned and mixture is bubbling. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes. Serve.