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Posts Tagged ‘cooking with kids’

Fudge_DSC_4505

 

When I was in my full-blown homemade Christmas celebration years, I would make lots and lots of candy. The candy was always a hit simply because most people had never tasted homemade. Some of it came from my childhood – my mom’s favorites were popcorn balls, bourbon balls, and divinity. Of her favorites, I only liked popcorn balls which I often used as tree decorations. Divinity was too sweet – even for me – and I have never liked any sweet that is flavored with alcohol. And most of the others were recipes I had gathered from old cookbooks or good home cooks. Peanut brittle and chocolate fudge were on my top-of list. Of all of these goodies, chocolate fudge is the only one that I continue to make every Christmas. It is easy to make, the recipes yields quite a bit (the amount depends upon how small you cut the squares) and is always a welcome holiday gift.

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (bits or a block chopped into small pieces, use the

highest percentage you can find to help cut the sweetness of all of the sugar)

2 cups toasted walnuts or pecans, optional

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

20 large marshmallows

4 cups sugar

Two 5-ounce cans evaporated milk

Lightly butter a 6 cup baking pan (square or rectangular) or a platter. Set aside.

Combine the chocolate with the nuts, if using, butter, and vanilla in a large heat-proof mixing bowl. Set aside.

Combine the marshmallows and sugar in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the evaporated milk and place over medium heat. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Continuing to stir, boil for exactly 6 minutes.

Immediately remove from the heat and, beating constantly with a wooden spoon, pour the hot mixture into the chocolate mix. Beat vigorously for a few minutes or until the fudge is creamy. Quickly scrape the fudge into the prepared pan or platter, pushing slightly with the back of the spoon (or a spatula) to spread the fudge evenly.

Cool for at least 1 hour before cutting the candy into small squares. Store, in layers separated by waxed paper, for up to one week or, refrigerated, for up to 3 weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving

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Flavies gifts

Our lovely French friend, Flavie, spent the weekend on a farm in the Catskills and upon her return came bearing a basketful of beautiful vegetables she had picked just for us.  It was quite a diverse lot – tiny potatoes (purple and white), purple cauliflower, purple and green asparagus (which amazed me as it is long past New York asparagus season), amaranth, radicchio, Swiss chard, carrots, 2 wee stalks of broccoli, onions (red and white), garlic – all organically grown and fresh as fresh could be.

My first use was to sauté a few of the fingerling potatoes, the cauliflower, and the amaranth seasoned with some of the onion, chopped, and a clove or two of garlic.  I had a few scallops purchased that morning at the greenmarket that I had intended to turn into a ceviche, but thought why not sear them and top off the sauté.  That is exactly what I did and, once sautéed, I added a bit of butter and lemon juice to the pan and drizzled it over all.  Then, because it was all so brown and purple, I shredded a couple of cauliflower leaves for garnish and Eh! Voila! – to quote Flavie – we had a most delicious dinner.

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Bananas_DSC_2398

It really depends upon the size of the pan you bake it in whether you end up with a banana cake or a tea bread.  For some, the cake (which I bake in a shallow bundt pan) is not as sweet as they might like, but for us it makes a tasty side for a hot cuppa “joe” or afternoon tea.   To make it a bit sweeter, drizzle on a plain or lemon-scented glaze or dust with confectioners’ sugar.  To make tea breads, just scrape the batter into either a 9-inch loaf pan or 3 of those little loaf pans.  Because the ripe bananas add so much moisture, either as a cake or bread, the baked result keeps very well.

1¾ cups sifted all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

⅓ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

⅔ cup sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup toasted walnut pieces (optional)

 

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Lightly coat the interior of your cake or loaf pan(s) with nonstick baking spray.  Set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.  Set aside.

Place the butter in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle.  Mix on low to just soften.  Add the sugar, raise the speed to medium, and beat until light and creamy.  Beat in the bananas and vanilla.  Slowly add the flour mixture, beating to incorporate.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and using a rubber spatula, fold in the nuts.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan(s).  Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 45 minutes (for a large pan) to 30 minutes (for small pans) or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops are golden brown.  Remove from the oven and tip out of the pan(s) onto a wire rack to cool.

Serve warm or at room temperature.   May be stored, well-wrapped and refrigerated, for up to 1 week or frozen, for up to 3 months.

 

GLAZE:  All you have to do is combine about 1½ cups of confectioners’ sugar with a tablespoon of warm milk and a tablespoon of melted unsalted butter until it is smooth and runny.  If you want lemon-scented, replace the milk with lemon juice (and, if you like, a bit of lemon zest).  Drizzle the glaze over the still-warm cake and set aside to allow it to harden slightly.

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