Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Tale of Two Fannies

My hubby gave me a Barnes and Noble gift card for Valentine's Day this year. I knew that I wanted to get a cookbook with it, but was tossed up on which one. I wasn't sure if I wanted one for a specific type of food, like the ice cream book I had been eyeing, or if I wanted a go-to book that would cover a wide range of foods. I finally decided on the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, because it has been my dad's kitchen bible for years and years. The photo above shows my shiny new book alongside his with a copyright from the sixties that he got shortly after he and my mom married in 1970. It has tape holding the spine together and is in danger of falling apart at any moment. I think this is the sign of a good cookbook. The books have changed over the years, the newer ones containing recipes for microwave cooking and eliminating recipes for dressing game, but many of the recipes are still the same. I recently made corn bread and the only difference in the recipes from the two books is that the older one called for 1/4 teaspoon more salt than the newer one. So if you're in the market for a new all-around cookbook that has stood the test of time for more than 100 years, consider Fannie Farmer.

Corn Bread

I've never made homemade cornbread before, I have always started with the box from Jiffy. After making it from scratch once, I doubt I'll go back to the box. There is not much extra work involved, and it tastes so good. This recipe from my Fannie Farmer Cookbook had the perfect sweetness to accompany a meal. If I were going to make muffins I would probably up the sugar just a bit.

Corn Bread
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 2 tablespoons melted shortening or bacon fat

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square cake pan. Mix the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the milk, egg and shortening or bacon fat and blend well. Spoon into the pan and bake for about 20 minutes. Cool and cut in squares.

Whole Wheat Baking Powder Biscuits

One of our favorite weekend breakfasts is sausage gravy over biscuits. My husband makes a mean sausage gravy and I make the biscuits. I got this recipe from my Fannie Farmer Cookbook, and the only alteration I made was to do a mix of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour instead of only all-purpose. If you are someone afraid of doing breads, give this recipe a try. It's very easy and makes some tasty biscuits.

Whole Wheat Baking Powder Biscuits
  • 2 cups flour (I used about 1 1/2 cups all-purpose and 1/2 cup whole wheat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2/3 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease two 8-inch cake pans (I used my pizza stone, un-greased). Put the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Cut the shortening into the flour with two knives or a pasty blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the milk all at once and stir just until the dough forms a ball around the fork. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead 14 times. Pat until 1/2 inch thick. Cut into rounds with a 2-inch cookie cutter (I used our biscuit cutter, not sure how big it is). Place touching each other in the cake pans and bake for 15-20 minutes (again, I placed spaced apart on the pizza stone and baked for approximately 12-15 minutes).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Whole Wheat Waffles

One of my son's favorite breakfast foods is waffles. I've been buying the frozen kind, which taste alright, but really wanted to make my own. My mother-in-law gave us their old waffle iron this weekend, and I tried my hand at waffles. I used the recipe from my Fannie Farmer Cookbook, and they turned out great. Joey and I tested one when it first came out, and can't wait to have them for breakfast tomorrow morning. I froze the waffle quarters and will heat them in the toaster just like the store-bought kind. The only change I made was to sub 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour for the all-purpose, as reflected below.

Whole Wheat Waffles
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the eggs, milk and oil in a large bowl or pitcher. Stir in the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt and mix until blended. Heat the waffle iron and pour in enough batter to just fill. Close and bake until the steaming stops and the waffles are crisp, tender and brown.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

After my first success with yeast, I thought I should try something else. I decided a homemade pizza dough would be a good second attempt. I found this recipe and had all the ingredients, so it was the winner. I loved the additions of the seasonings, this dough smelled so good as it was baking. I would make this again, but will be trying other recipes as well to see if I find something I like better. I made this into about a medium pizza, but think that it was a bit thick after cooking and would probably either spread it thinner into a large, or make two smaller pizzas out of it.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
  • 1 package fast rising yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme

Combine the yeast and water, stir until dissolved. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine all remaining ingredients. Add in the yeast mixture and mix using the dough hook. Knead until the dough forms a nice ball, using extra flour if necessary. Let rest for at least a half hour. Spread out on a pizza stone or pan lined with parchment paper, bake at 450 degrees for approximately 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with your desired pizza toppings, then bake for an additional 7 to 9 minutes or until the crust is crispy and the toppings are browned.

Homemade Rice-A-Roni

I set out to find a recipe for a homemade version of Rice-A-Roni for my sister. Her boys love the stuff and she wanted a healthier version she could prepare for them. Stephanie Cooks had a recipe on her blog from Recipezaar that seemed pretty simple so I thought I'd give it a try. I haven't had Rice-A-Roni in years, so I can't say how close it comes, but it is a tasty side dish and my ten month old son polished his plate. I followed the recipe pretty closely, using angel hair pasta instead of spaghetti, adding in some parsley, and adding instructions to cover the dish during cooking.

  • 1/2 cup raw angel hair pasta broken into 1/2 inch long pieces
  • 3/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 14 1/2 ounces broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • dried parsley

In medium skillet saute broken pasta pieces in butter, stirring constantly, until the pasta begins to brown. Add rice, stirring until the rice is well coated with the butter and the pasta browns a little more. Carefully pour in broth. Cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed. Stir in some parsley to give it a more authentic look.

Soft Pretzels

I've been meaning to both try to bake with yeast and use the dough hook on my new stand mixer, so when I saw the recipe for Alton Brown's Soft Pretzels on Le Petit Pierogi I knew I had to give them a shot. I only made a couple of minor changes from the original recipe (the changes are what are in the recipe below). First, I used instant yeast instead of active dry. Second, I subbed about 7 ounces of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour. Lastly, I made a few of the pretzels with cinnamon sugar instead of the salt (inspired by Le Petit Pierogi).

These turned out really well, I was pleasantly surprised. Next time I would make sure I had a whole lot more room to work, as these take up a lot of room when trying to get them into the long ropes. Other than that, I wouldn't change a thing and will definitely be making these again.

Soft Pretzels
  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespooon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 15 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 7 ounces whole wheat flour
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • vegetable oil, for bowl
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • coarse sea salt for topping
  • cinnamon sugar for topping

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the water and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the dough into a bowl coated inside with vegetable oil, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt or cinnamon sugar. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.