Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Maple Lace Wafers

I made these for the sudden retirement of a dear colleague. I envisioned that they would turn out something like the cookies my Long Island aunt used to make. They were molasses cookies made with very little flour, crisp, buttery and the cookies of my dreams. Her cookies flattened out on the cookie sheet and were lacy in consistency. Maple Lace Wafers are very good, but they are not as good as Aunt Chris's molasses cookies. Also, they are not lacy, at least mine were not.
The recipe says to drop the dough on the cookie sheet by the half teaspoonful. This makes ridiculously tiny cookies. I did that for the first few cookies and then dropped it on by the tablespoonful. The recipe also makes a paltry number of cookies. If you are going to make this, double the recipe because everyone will want more than one quarter-sized cookie.

Maple Lace Wafers

1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup butter
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine the syrup and butter in a small pan and bring to a boil. Boil hard, while stirring, thirty seconds.
3. Sift together the remaining ingredients and add all at once, stirring briskly (the batter will be lumpy. )
4. Drop by half teaspoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet, about four at a time. Bake six to eight minutes or until golden.
5. Let set on baking sheet a second or two and then, while still warm, quickly roll each wafer around the greased handle of a wooden spoon to shape a roll or a cone. Cool on a rack. Makes about 28 cookies,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Old Fashioned Clam Chowder

Sunday the 12th, was my son's 30th birthday. Imagine! Thirty years seems like a long time, but things have just rolled along until he's 30 and I am 61. Son of a gun! So naturally, there was a party. Son paged through the cookbook and found a dish that he would permit as the main course, chicken and dumplings. A week or so later, when we were discussing the guest list, he opted for pork loin and acted like he'd never heard of chicken and dumplings.
However, he did agree to clam chowder, which I may or may not have described as New England Clam Chowder. Be warned. This clam chowder is not New England Clam Chowder. He wasn't pleased.
"Why did you say it was New England Clam Chowder?" he demanded. Probaby because the page it is on had fallen out of the cookbook and been stuffed into the new edition of the cookbook, so I couldn't check it out ahead of time. However, New England or not, and even considering it contains the offending tomato, it is pretty good. I cut the recipe in half and even so, we had a ton left over. I sent some home with him and his wife, and we still have two containers in the freezer.
My husband went to great lengths to get things ready ahead of time so we could actually visit with the party guests. There also had to be much cleaning of rugs and floors as the dog continues to be an issue. Baby gates did improve that situation, even though they made me think of my sister, who had more dogs than anyone should ever have (12) and walled off the entire house with baby gates because the dogs fought.
His efforts were actually successful and we were able to sit by the fire and talk to the guests, Lin, my son's mother-in-law, and Alex, his brother-in-law. We had an almost catastrophe when Lin innocently inquired whether there was any shellfish in the soup. Luckily, Bob does not eat shellfish either, so there was some non shellfish soup lurking in the kitchen. Oh, yeah, I used canned clams. Perfectly acceptable. I also didn't thicken it with flour and butter, although I did put in the crackers. Pilot crackers, as I wrote in October, 2010, are not available anymore, except by mail. However, oyster crackers are the same thing and you can buy those at Safeway. It's hard to know what amount of oyster crackers to use, a cup maybe?

Old Fashioned Clam Chowder

60 to 72 chowder clams, scrubbed until water runs clear
1/2 pound salt pork, diced
6 large onions
4 to 6 leeks, cleaned and sliced
3 tomatoes peeled and chopped
2 cups canned tomatoes
3 ribs celery sliced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
3 large potatoes peeled and diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
2 large pilot crackers, crumbled
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 to 4 teaspoons Tabasco sauce

1. Place the clams in a large kettle or clam steamer with one-half cup water. Steam the clams until they open, about ten minutes, depending on the size.
2. Reserve the broth. Remove clams from shells and remove the logn necks and coarse membrane. Chope half the clams, leaving remainign clams whole. Reserve.
3. Cook salt pork in a heavy kettle until golden. Add onions and leeks and saute until tender.

4. Measure the reserved broth and add water to make up to two quarts and add to the kettle. Add the chopped tomatoes, canned tomatoes, celery, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, potatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, about thirty to forty minutes.

5. Blend the flour with the butterand, while stirring, add a little at a time to the hot soup. Add the crackers, Worcestershire, Tabascp and reserved clams. Reheat and test for seasoning. Makes 15 to 20 servings.

Potato Puffs

Potato Puffs, from the great state of Missouri, (Several years ago, I taught in a classroom that had a rug displaying the United States on the floor. I used to tell the kids to sit on the great state of whatever. Once somebody asked me why I referred to the states as great states. I couldn't really tell them I was imitating the people who speak for their states at the Democratic National Convention, so I just said they were all great states. ) are delicious. Incidentally they contain all the things I am not supposed to eat right now, such as butter, whipped cream and Cheddar cheese.
We made them for son's birthday dinner. Daughter-in-law described them as "scrape the pan clean good," and they were. The recipe says to put them in individual greased custard cups, but we just put the mixture in a pan. It's pretty simple if you don't mind the calories.

Potato Puffs

3 cups hot cooked riced potatoes. (riced potatoes go through a potato masher. I just used the mixer.
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

1. Preheat the oven 350 degrees.
2. Beat the potatoes with the butter, salt and pepper. Three-quarters fill greased custard cups with the potatoes.
3. Combine the cream and cheese and spread it over the top of the potatoes. Bake until brown, about 15 minutes. Makes six servings.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Batter Fried Chicken

In a winter that has been so warm that the children at school play without their coats and come in sweating, we finally had a day cold enough for a fire. On Saturday, I went riding with our daughter, and my husband and my brother went to the Auto Show. When we came back from riding and visiting various branches of the DC Public Library to find Maurice Sendak's Chicken Soup with rice, I went out to the woodpile and brought in a load of wood.

Bob and George eventually made it back from the Auto Show with tales of negotiating Metro, DC's subway system, which has been tied up with maintenance closings since it was discovered that in the first 25 years the system was open, it had done no maintenance. Bob dragged out an enormous box of file folders and began going through them. George read the paper, and I read a profile of Newt and Calista Gingritch in The New Yorker while the fire crackled and snapped.

George decided to stay for dinner, and I made batter-fried chicken.

This is a weird recipe. The chicken is parboiled and made flavorful through being steeped in broth to which vegetables and herbs are added. It appeared that the batter had no seasoning at all, and it tasted like a load of nothing. Add salt to the batter, folks, I thought. However, when I typed the recipe, it does call for salt. It just doesn't include salt in the list of ingredients. It says to add half a teaspoon later. I included the salt in the list of ingredients.

The recipe says, use a fry basket. If you don't have a large enough kettle to use a fry basket, just use a large frying pan, and turn the chicken. You don't have to run out and buy a fry basket to make this chicken. Also, keep the already fried chicken in the oven while you are frying the rest of it. That way, it won't get cold, the way mine did.

This is good chicken. The only drawback is, your house will smell like a Chinese restaurant and you have the problem of getting rid of the oil.

Batter-Fried Chicken

1 two-and-one-half pound to three-pound frying chicken, cut into serving pieces

1 rib celery

1 carrot

1 bay leaf

1 small onion

salt and freshly ground black pepper

chicken broth (depending on the size of your frying pan, you will need a quart or more)

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

2 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

fat or oil for deep-frying

1. Place the chicken pieces in a skillet. Add the celery, bay leaf, onion, slat and pepper to taste and enough broth to cover barely.

2. . Bring to a boil and simmer gently fifteen minutes. Drain and dry pieces of chicken and let cool.

3. Combine the flour, baking powder and one-half teaspoon of salt in a bowl. Beat the eggs with the milk and stir into dry ingredients along with the butter.

4. Dip the chicken pieces in the batter using a fry basket, drop into the fat or oil heated to 375 degrees. Fry until golden and drain on paper towels. Serves four.