Sunday, March 31, 2013

Coconut Frosting

1  tablespoon unflavored vegetable gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup sugar
3  egg whites, stiffly beaten
Juice of half a lemon
1 fresh coconut, grated

1. Soften the gelatin in the cold water; then dissolve gelatin in  the boiling water. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Set aside to cool.
2. When mixture begins to set, fold it into the egg whites, then  beat until mixture reaches consistency of soft marshmallow. Add the lemon juice and stir to blend. Use as a cake frosting. Coat the frosted cake with the coconut. Makes enough thick frosting for filling, top and sides of nine-inch two-layer cake.

Apricot Glaze

Heat the contents of one twelve-ounce jar of apricot preserves over low heat. When dissolved, force the mxiture through a fine sieve. Use as a glaze when hot. Makes one and one-quarter cups.

Coconut Cake with Apricot Glaze for Passover

On the last day of Passover I made the last Passover recipe. These things seem to have attracted a certain amount of attention. Apple Cake for  Passover got   39 hits. It may not seem like much, but for someone who went on for two years with a total of six hits on most of the recipes, it's a lot.
I made the cake on Friday night and the icing on Sunday when the Easter guests were here. The cake turned out beautifully, like a souffle. Passover cakes contain very little flour or matzo meal, in this case 1/4 of a cup and half a cup of potato starch. Cooks might think that it won't bake properly, but it does.
This is meant to  be a layer cake. My husband, who had the task of cutting the layers in half, wondered why the cake couldn't be baked in two springform pans instead of one, thereby reducing the mess involved with cutting the layers in half. An excellent idea. So, bake the cakes in two springform pans instead of one.
Another tip. The coconut frosting is made with gelatin.  When it is whipped and ready to spread, spread it. Do not, as I did, set it aside for an hour or so. I discovered, when Easter dinner was over and half the guests were leaving for their next Easter dinner, that the  icing had set. It was like trying to spread cooked meringues.  It tasted all right, but the lovely, marshmallow fluff consistency that Lin, my co-mother-in-law, achieved with the mixer, was gone.
We had a hilarious Easter dinner, with stories and jokes flying back and forth. The table was decorated with the  30 or so bunnies of various sizes and materials that we have accumulated over the years. We have tall china bunnies playing the flute, tiny wooden bunnies sitting in a chair, metal bunnies, smoking  bunnies, bunnies decorated with holly,  bunnies decorated with floral patterns. Every place had little baskets of jelly beans and chocolate eggs.
The cake got good reviews. Lin liked it because it wasn't too sweet.  Bob liked the apricot glaze.

Coconut Cake with Apricot Glaze for Passover

1/4 cup matzo meal
1/2 cup potato starch
1/8 teaspoon salt
7  eggs separated
1 cup  sugar
Juice of half a lemon
Apricot glaze
Coconut frosting

1.  Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
2. Sift together the matzo meal, potato starch and salt.
3.  Beat the egg yolks with the sugar and lemon juice until thick and lemon-colored. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold them  into yolk mixture. Fold in the dry ingredients and pour the batter into an ungreased nine-inch spring form pan.  (Or two nine-inch springform pans if you do not want  to  be bothered with cutting the tall cake into two layers. Bake thirty minutes.
4.  Increase the oven heat to 325 degrees. Bake fifteen minutes longer, or until cake tester comes out clean. Invert to cool. Cut   into layers and spread with apricot glaze, then frost with coconut frosting.
Makes eight to ten servings.                 

Brown Bread II

This is one of those times where, when confronted with two recipes for the same thing, one ought to make them both at the same time to make an accurate comparison.  However, then, you are stuck with two  recipes for, in this case Boston Brown Bread. So, because Bob is trying to cut down on carbs and I don't eat bread, I didn't make them both at the same time. I made Brown Bread I for the church social hour in January, and Brown  Bread II for the same thing after the Easter service.  The church sent off an e-mail requesting donations and I leaped forward.  Aside from giving me another recipe to check off, it also gave me the opportunity to throw away the three cans I had been carefully saving on the corner of the counter since January.
Honestly, this  brown bread, although it has rye flour in it instead of white flour, does not seem to be markedly different from the other brown bread. This is an easy recipe. Let me translate a few things. Graham flour is whole wheat flour. If  you can't get buttermilk, add a tablespoon or so of cider vinegar to the milk. It curdles.  Rye flour seems to be easy to get. Look among the  Bob's Red Mill products.
Steaming  bread, which might seem counterproductive is also easy. As the directions say, fill the cans about two-thirds full with batter and cover them with wax paper or tin foil held on with rubber bands or string. Put them on something that will keep them off the bottom of the kettle. The recipe says a rack. I didn't have a round rack, although I do remember my mother having a couple. I used a couple of ramikins, which are tiny souffle dishes, put upside down and allowed to fill with water. I set the ramikins in the kettle, put the cans of dough on top and  poured in the water until it climbed half way up the cans. I let the bread steam for three  hours as instructed and took the cans out when the timer went off.
When it says cans, it means just that. Aluminum cans, 28 ounces, the kind canned tomatoes or beans come in.
The product is dark and moist, good with cream cheese or butter.

Brown Bread II

1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup rye flour
1 cup graham (whole wheat) flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1 cup raisins

1. Combine the corn meal, rye flour, graham flour, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl.
2. Mix together the buttermilk, molasses and raisins. Add to dry  ingredients. Mix well. Fill well-greased pudding molds or cans about two-thirds full with the batter. It will fill about two 28 ounce cans.
3. Cover with greased mold covers or can lids and cover over with aluminum foil.   (I'm not even entirely sure what a mold cover is. The only can lids I have were used for the dog food. So relax and use wax paper or aluminum foil, held on with  rubber bands)
4. Place the molds or cans on a rack in a large kettle, with water extending at least halfway up the sides of the molds or cans. Cover and cook three hours, replenishing water as necessary. Makes two or three loaves.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Seven-Layer Chocolate Cake for Passover (Gluten Free)

This is in the nature of a definite experiment. I made it last night, using gluten free Passover matzos I found at Safeway. It's for the last Lenten night of the Bible study group, so I haven't tried it.  I felt like God was speaking to me, right there in the ethnic foods section.
 "Chase! Make that cake with the matzos. You can actually eat it." The matzos, in case anyone else is trying to procure the gluten free variety, are made by Yehuda and imported from Israel. I bought them at the Safeway on Davenport Street in DC. Rodman's, just down the street, has matzo cake meal, if on the eve of Passover itself, you (A.) are still looking, and (B.) live in or near the District of Columbia. Rodman's also has the Elite Chocolate, with the picture of the happy cow on the wrapper.
This recipe tells you to do some improbable things. The most improbable thing the cook is to do is to "moisten, not soak," matzos in a dish of wine. I was thinking, I would end up with a sodden mass.  Well, you can do this. I may have left the matzo in for all of 30 seconds while I groped for the camera to take a picture. It came out wet from the wine, but still intact and perhaps a tiny bit softer. I confess, I did not test for consistency, I just laid it on top of the last one and frosted it.
I was afraid that if the matzo did not dissolve in the wine, that it would shatter while being frosted. It didn't. The frosting is fairly liquid, and if the cook applies it gently, the matzo stays intact.
There was just enough frosting, which I was pleased as punch to be able to make with my own marmalade. Heh, heh. It looks like,,,maybe one of those tortes that an improbably named catalogue store of my youth called Italian Swiss Colony used to sell. Tiny, skinny little layers, separated by layers of frosting. It is not a high, fluffy cake, as matzos are not light, fluffy crackers. (I didn't see any round matzos, although the square ones come in white and whole wheat, and chocolate covered.)
In case anyone is still wondering, I finally got the definitive word on matzo cake meal from my Judaism expert, rabbi in training Margaux Yael-Buck, of St. Louis. She says, grains such as wheat, barley, oats, and even rice, and food made from them are forbidden at Passover because they could conceivably ferment if left in water. Anyone who has made sourdough starter can attest to this. Mix flour and water and leave it out long enough, and the microbes in the air will start it bubbling away. Matzos, though made from flour, are baked in a very short time, thus cutting off the fermentation process. Therefore, I guess, even if you mixed matzo cake meal with water and left it out in the air, it would not ferment.
(This sounds like a science fair project. Hypothesis: If I mix matzo cake meal and water and leave it someplace warm, it will ferment.) Joke, readers. I am not saying matzo cake meal will ferment. Margaux has spent an extremely long time studying this stuff, and if she says it's so, it's so.

Seven-Layer Chocolate Cake for Passover

1/2 pound Elite bittersweet chocolate (three bars)
1 tablespoon margarine
1/2 pound orange marmalade
2 eggs
2 tablespoons brandy
1 cup semi-dry white wine
8 round matzos
chopped nuts

1. Melt the chocolate, margarine and marmalade in the top of a double boiler over hot water.
2. Add the eggs and beat with a wire whisk until the  mixture is as thick as sour cream. (Be careful to turn down the heat under the water. If the mixture is too  hot the eggs will cook and you will have chocolate marmalade scrambled eggs.) Add the brandy and remove pan from the heat.
3. Continue beating until mixture again attains the consistency of sour cream. Pour the wine into a large, shallow dish.(like a square baking dish.)
4. Dip the matzos, one at a time, into the wine just to moisten but not to soak. Place moistened matzo on a cake plate and coat with a layer of the chocolate mixture. Top with another moistened matzo and more chocolate, continuing until all matzos are used. Use remaining chocolate mixture to frost sides. Decorate with nuts and let set at room temperature. Makes six to eight servings.

Cabbage and Potato (Gluten Free)

This recipe is similar if not identical to the Irish dish, colcannon. It is a hearty side dish, just the thing for a cold early spring/late winter night. It is also fairly fast. It takes about 20 minutes to boil and mash the potatoes and boil the cabbage. Then you just make the gravy and eat. It goes well with roast chicken, or pork. We had it with some mini steaks from Omaha Steak House.
 I made it about 20 minutes before we actually ate because Bob's arrival at night depends on the vagaries of Metrobus. Although the buses are supposed to run every half hour, in reality sometimes it's more like every 50 minutes. Grrr. The result was a little runny because the gravy seeped down into the potatoes, so I would hold back the gravy if you aren't planning to eat it right away.
The recipe says boil the potatoes in their jackets. Frankly, I see no reason to do that. Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks and boil them. Trying to peel hot, boiled potatoes is not a lot of fun. "Riced" means mashed with a standard potato masher. If you don't have one, you could use a fork.
As I type up the recipe, I notice that I was supposed to scald the cream. I confess, I did not even see that direction. If you don't want to scald the cream, I don't think the dish will suffer much. It does call for flour. If you want the recipe to be gluten free, you can use gluten free flour, or rice flour, or potato starch.

Cabbage and Potato

1/2 head cabbage, roughly shredded
1/2 cup boiling water
5 medium size potatoes, boiled in their jackets, peeled and riced
1/4 cup butter, melted
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream, scalded
1/2 pound bacon diced and cooked until crisp
3 tablespoons flour (I used rice flour.)
2 cups milk

1. Place the cabbage, one teaspoon salt and the boiling water in a saucepan. Cover and cook ten minutes, or until the cabbage is tender. Drain well.
2. Beat the hot riced potatoes with the butter, salt and pepper to taste and enough cream to give a smooth consistency that still holds its shape. Stir in the cabbage.
3. Remove the bacon bits from skillet in which they cooked and reserve. Discard all but three tablespoons of the bacon drippings. (fat). Add the flour to the drippings and cook, stirring until the mixture browns slightly.
4. Stir in the milk and bring to a boil, stirring. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pile the cabbage potato mixture in a serving dish. Make a depression in the middle and pour in the gravy.
5 sprinkle the reserved bacon bits around the edge.
Makes six to eight servings.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Indian Pudding (Gluten Free)

Indian pudding is an old New England recipe. When the early colonists landed here, they brought with them a fondness for a dish called hasty pudding, which was wheat flour boiled in water or milk until it thickened into porridge. But, alas, wheat did not grow very well in New England, so the colonists, learning from the Indians, used corn meal. They gradually began to add molasses, spices and milk as life and cuisine became more civilized.
This Indian pudding tastes a lot like pumpkin pie. After all, it has all the same spices. I made it for dinner yesterday evening when the young marrieds came to dinner. We had corned beef and cabbage as a salute to Saint Patrick's Day, and because everyone loves corned beef and cabbage. They really loved it. I was looking forward to corned beef sandwiches for lunch, but it was not to be. My son handed me the last scrap of meat, about the size of a slice of American cheese.
I reminded my son that we had made Indian pudding 27 years ago, when he was four. He didn't remember. I won't tell you what he said it looked like. Use your imagination about something a four year old boy would say. We had it with vanilla ice cream in the living room around what might well be the last fire of the season. We had tried to have a fire two weeks ago, at the creamed lobster dinner. It turned out, although we opened the damper we knew about, there was another one that the heat auditors had closed. Smoke spewed everywhere, and the guests had to retreat to the addition. This time, both dampers were open, and we sat around the fire talking and throwing logs on.
The only tricky thing about Indian pudding is putting the corn meal on gradually. You just want to float a teaspoon at a time on top of the boiling milk. If you put too much on at one time, corn meal clumps up. So sprinkle, stir, sprinkle, stir. Don't dump. Because my son asked to wait for dessert, ours was not as moist as it should have been, but it was still good. It is also possible that I let the corn meal mush thicken too much before I stopped cooking it. I cooked it until it was pulling away from the side of the pot.

Indian Pudding

4 cups milk
1 cup yellow corn meal
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup finely minced suet (I left this out. It makes food fatty and greasy tasting.)
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup light molasses
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
vanilla ice cream

1. Bring the milk to a boil, and add the corn meal gradually, beating vigorously with a wire whisk. When mixture starts to thicken, set it aside to cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
3. When the mixture is nearly cool, stir in the remaining ingredients except the ice cream and mix well.
4. Pour into a buttered baking dish. Bake two hours. Serve piping hot, with vanilla ice cream on top. Makes ten to one dozen servings.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup (Gluten Free)

On afternoon Friday after my acupuncture session, I decided to drive up to Eastern Market and get the ingredients for Pepper Pot soup. The big thing unobtainable in supermarkets these days is tripe. Tripe is the lining of the stomach of the cow. It is white, due to being washed (by a tripe washer, says Wikipedia) and is honeycombed. Wikipedia says tripe used to be popular in the UK up until the 1950s. I made another tripe dish from this cookbook in the early 1980s. I suspect I bought it at the grocery store, but I might have gone to a traditional butcher shop in Georgetown where I also used to buy sweetbreads.  Anyway, organ meats are now out of favor with the powers that decide what gets sold in supermarkets.
Union Meats at Eastern Market sells tripe frozen in white blocks cut up by a band saw. If you want to buy tripe, you have to get there before 6:00 pm because that is when they take the saw apart to clean it. I also bought 5 pounds of what was labeled "veal bones." The recipe calls for veal knuckle. I am not sure what I got was actually veal knuckle because those are the long shin bones of the calf. What I got was joints, but it served its purpose.
Veal bones from Union Meat at Eastern Market
If you are, like many people going "Euwww!" at the idea of eating calves' stomach, or wonder what it tastes like, it didn't have much taste at all. I have eaten it when it had a stronger flavor. My husband, Bob, says it tastes like rubber bathmats. The Guardian blog, Word of Mouth,, says it tastes like ripe manure. (How would they know?)
This is tripe. The flecks on it are bits of chopped vegetable. It was frozen and I put it in the soup to thaw it out.
After hanging out in traffic on North Capitol Street for an inordinate amount of time, I made it home and got out the stock pot. I thought about letting the tripe thaw out, but then I decided, since we were going out Saturday and Sunday nights, I had better get moving. This has to cook for some four hours, so one needs a chunk of time.
I dropped the tripe in whole and fished it out 20 minutes later to cut it up. It is supposed to be cut up into small shreds. Twenty minutes was enough to thaw it.
The pepper in pepper pot is twofold. There is a green pepper, and one small hot pepper. I used a largish jalapeno pepper, but it did not result in any heat. I would be interested in readers' experiences with pepper pot soup. Is it supposed to be hot? Word of Mouth says Pepper Pot is a Caribbean dish, and yes, according to them, it is supposed to be spicy.
Word of Mouth also related a tale that Pepper Pot soup was the soup that saved George Washington's Continental Army at Valley Forge. The Father of our country was about ready to throw in the towel when his "baker general" devised this stew. Who knew? The author also says the soup has lost popularity in Philadelphia and is available only at a few restaurants.
Lost popularity or not, it summered away Friday night, and again Saturday morning when I telephoned Bob to put the potatoes in and start it cooking again. I had it for lunch on Saturday, exactly the thing on a cool, windy day after riding. It has a pleasant meaty taste. The tripe did not taste of manure. I encouraged Bob to try it. He painstakingly picked out all the tripe and drank the broth. His verdict was, he didn't like it, so I have been eating it for lunch all week. Two quarts went into the freezer.

Philadelphia Pepper Pot

1 pound honeycomb tripe
1.2 cup diced salt pork
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 green pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 small hot green pepper pod, trimmed and chopped, or more to taste
12 cups water
5 pounds veal knuckles (or veal bones. What the hell!)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme or one-half teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup diced potatoes
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour (use gluten free flour or potato starch if needed)
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Rinse the tripe under cold running water. Drain.
2. Place the tripe on a flat surface and cut tripe into thin shreds. Chop the shreds into one-inch lengths. Set aside.
3. Heat the salt pork in a kettle. When salt pork is rendered of fat (when all the fat is fried off), add the onion. Cook stirring until onion is wilted. (soft) Add the tripe, green pepper, celery, carrot and garlic and cook briefly. Stir in the hot pepper and water and add the knuckles, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a boil and simmer three hours.
4. Add the potatoes and continue to cook about one  hour longer, or until the tripe is thoroughly tender. It should not be chewy. Sprinkle with the paprika.
5. Blend the butter with the flour and stir, bit by bit, into the soup. When the mixture is thickened slightly and boiling, stir in the cream. Makes about three quarts.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Passover Brownies

Last Monday my Bible study group met once again, so I got out the cookbook looking for more Passover recipes. I was eager to bake, since the week before I had located MATZO CAKE MEAL at the Safeway on Upper Connecticut Avenue in DC!! Hey, hey, Passover bakers, get moving. Now, cake meal does not seem to be available at the Davenport Safeway where I usually shop. So go figure. But, if you didn't order your cake meal from Streits of Brooklyn on line, you can still purchase it before Passover.
Possibly, you might be able to order the cake meal from, since this firm manufactures the variety that Safeway sells. That is, if you don't live in the District of Columbia or its environs.
I was also hoping to uncover some mysteries of Passover baking last week. Ellen and Todd Gray, a DC restaurateur couple, had just written a book entitled, The New Jewish Table. I planned to go to their book talk last Wednesday and ask a few questions. However, the snow hysteria ended up paralyzing the city, the book talk was canceled, and we didn't even get any Goddamn snow. So, I'm waiting to take their book out of the library. If you readers are serious about Jewish cooking, and not a tourist like me, it might be a good book to buy.
So, I had cake meal and Passover brownies were just waiting to be made. Plus, I had all the ingredients, which is no small inducement these days, as there is not as much money coming in as there was when I was working. Like, none.
Now, I prefer fudge brownies, with the melted chocolate and the butter, dense and rich. I am not eating these things anyway because they are not gluten free. Passover brownies are cake brownies, light and crumbly. The Episcopalians stopped their railing about how the Israelites had just come in and kicked these other tribes out of the Promised Land, without even a by-your-leave, and chowed down on them. Bob liked them too.
If you need a Passover dessert, you could do worse. They are easy, as well. You don't even have to separate the eggs.

Passover Brownies

2 cups sugar
5 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup matzo cake meal
1 tablespoon potato starch
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup chopped nuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Beat the sugar and eggs together well. (About 5 minutes). Beat in the oil.
3. Combine the cake meal, potato starch, cocoa powder, orange juice and nuts. Stir into the batter. Pour into a well-greased or wax-paper lined 13-by9-by-2 inch baking pan. Bake thirty-five to forty-five minutes or until done. Cut into squares while still warm. Makes about 24 brownies.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Galakto Boureka

This is a very time consuming Greek dessert, but totally worth the effort. My first challenge was to figure out what farina was. I didn't google it, as I should have, so last Friday afternoon found me trolling the baking aisle at Safeway looking for what I thought was a type of flour. Luckily, I ran into Basil, my neighbor, and asked him what farina was. "It's a cereal," the dear man replied.
Sure enough, there in the hot cereal section, on the box of Cream of Wheat, was the word farina. I trotted home with the farina, the phyllo pastry and the  extra butter, and carefully left the frozen phyllo pastry out to thaw. I guess I first tried to make something with phyllo pastry four or five years ago. That was when I learned you have to defrost it. That time, I ended up throwing the whole shredded mass away.
Saturday afternoon, after I got back from the fish store with the lobsters, I tackled the recipe. First, as you will see, I boiled two cups of milk with sugar (I cut the recipe in half. I figured we didn't need three to four dozen of these things for five people,) and began stirring in the farina.
Hewitt's good old standby, "cook until thick," in this case means for about 20 to 25 minutes. You want a solid mass, something that will retain the shape of the amount scooped out of the pan. It is important to stir constantly, although the recipe does not tell you this. If you don't, you will burn the bottom of the pan. At the same time I was madly stirring farina, I boiled the syrup.
After about 40 minutes spent on the filling and syrup, I was ready for the phyllo. I have never worked with gold leaf, but I have talked to people who have, and phyllo is something like gold leaf made of flour. It dries as soon as you look at it and shreds like crazy even if properly defrosted. Also, it is folded up inside the box in a manner that defies unfolding it. My husband, who was trying to polish the silverware, constantly had to stop and wash his hands to put the rest of the dough back on the plate and recover it with the wet towel.
Some recipes for phyllo pastry tell you to paint the phyllo with butter before shaping it. This one tells you to dot the edges with butter before folding it. I folded, dotted, and rolled. It took another half hour to turn out ten phyllo rolls. Note that one puts on the syrup after baking the rolls. I put it on before, which did not create a huge problem, although Bob was afraid it would.
The guests really liked this. If I had made another ten, I believe they would have gotten scarfed up. I say, get some Cream of Wheat and go for it.

Galakto Boureka

1 cup sugar
4 cups milk, boiling
1/2 cup farina (Cream of Wheat)
1/4 cup butter
Grated rind of half a large orange
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 stick cinnamon
1 pound phyllo pastry
1/2 cup melted butter

1. To prepare filling, add the sugar to the boiling milk and bring to a boil, stirring. Gradually stir in the farina and cook until thickened. Stir in the butter and orange rind.
2. Add a little of the  hot mixture to the eggs. Return all to the pan and cook one minute longer. Allow to cool to room temperature.
3 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
4. To prepare syrup, combine the sugar, water and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Boil five minutes. Set aside to cool.
5. Remove one leaf of the phyllo pastry at a time, keeping remaining leaves covered. Dot edges with melted butter, fold in half, dot edges with melted butter again and fold in half again.
6. Place two tablespoons of the cooled filling mixture at one end of the pastry. Dot edges of pastry with melted butter. Turn in the sides and roll up like a jellyroll. Continue shaping rolls until all filling is used.
7. Place rolls with space between in a well-oiled baking pan.
8. Bake about twenty-five minutes, or until golden brown. Spoon the cooled syrup over the hot pastries. Makes three to four dozen.

Creamed Lobster (Gluten Free)

This is an amazing, delicious dish. I should know, I have been eating it for almost every meal since Saturday. We had four lobster eaters, our old friends Dave and Nancy, our other friend  Marty and me. Bob ate creamed chicken. For four servings, three lobsters would have been plenty, but I ended up with a lobster for each person and tons of leftovers.
 I got the lobsters from the Fishery on Saturday afternoon, after lunch. When I went to buy them, I misunderstood the price quoted to me by the man behind the counter, and exploded. I had misplaced the decimal point in the price, so it was high, but not that high. Another customer in the store straightened me out about the price and assured me it was a very good deal. I hustled the lobsters home and popped them into the refrigerator where they could stay alive until I got ready to cook them.
Here is a video on how to kill a lobster. It illustrates the challenges involved.

This dish provides some, shall we say, challenges. Most lobster dishes involve killing the lobster and then exposing it whole to some kind of heat, either by dumping it in a pot of boiling water or thrusting it under the broiler. This recipe required the dismemberment of the lobster after killing it. And, the directions for dispatching the things from life on earth left something to be desired. Lobsters have much in common with chickens. Just as chickens run around with their heads cut off for some 15 minutes, so lobsters prance, wave and twitch for a considerable amount of time after they have had a knife stuck in their backs. It's not a recipe for the faint hearted, I'll tell you that.
All this takes time. It helps to have an assistant chef who will dice the vegetables while you are dismembering the lobsters. Bob very kindly chopped and diced and measured while I swore and stabbed and yanked.
The recipe requires the cook to cook the lobster in the shell in a frying pan. Luckily, I had seen this on a Julia Child rerun, so I knew it was possible. You need big frying pans and you fry the pieces in the shell until they turn pink.
 My daughter called about half way through the butchery. I sat down in the big arm chair in the addition to talk to her. After about 10 minutes, I looked into the kitchen and noticed with horror that the lobster on the counter, which I had thought I had dispatched prior to picking up the phone, was still among the living.
"Shit! The fucking thing is still alive," I yelled, and leaped out of the chair. "I gotta go," I told my daughter. The next day, she asked me what had been still alive. "That was the best way to end a phone call," she said.
I made several amendments to the recipe. I don't mess with lobster guts. It's one thing to wrench the claws off a living creature that may not be dead. It's another to cook with guts that I may not be identifying correctly. I also did not remove the solids from the sauce, squeeze them and discard them. It was a perfectly fine sauce with chopped onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms floating around in it. The recipe gives the cook the option of removing the lobster meat from the shell or allowing the diners to do it. I decided I had done enough work, and my guests could do the rest.
It says scald the cream. I put a saucepan with the cream in it on a low heat and asked Bob to keep an eye on it while I went off to take a shower. I explained that it would be scalded when a ring of tiny bubbles formed around the edge of the pan.
When I came downstairs, the guests hadn't come yet. Shortly thereafter, the doorbell started ringing, and I got involved in taking coats and pouring wine. When I came through the kitchen with the drinks, I happened to notice that the cream was boiling and ready to overflow all over the stove. Shit! I turned it off, and it suffered no ill effects, but it's better to watch the cream so it doesn't overflow.
I had moment's pause when it came to the sherry. I am a sherry snob. My children say I am an all around snob, but that is not true. Sherry, yes. I learned to drink sherry in Madrid when I was 22. As far as I am concerned, it's amontillado or nothing, and Dry Sack or nothing. I imagine there are other brands of sherry that I would find acceptable. Sandeman had an appealing label and I remember snickering at Gonzalez Byass, but keep cream sherry away from me. One of the more embarrassing moments of my entertaining life was when I bounced downstairs after my shower, greeted the guests who had entered in my absence and went to get a drink.
"What are we doing with all this Harvey's Bristol Cream?' I inquired, my voice dripping with scorn.
"Len and Carolyn brought it for us," my husband said.
"Oh, how nice of them," I said mendaciously.
Anyhow, after spending a three figure sum on lobsters, I didn't feel like spending another $20 on decent sherry. I went to a large bottle of cheap sherry I bought last spring for a dessert. I tried it to make sure I wasn't poisoning my guests, and it wasn't very good. But the sauce tasted fine. Sherry, even cheap sherry, and cream can't be beat.
If you want this to be gluten free, you can use gluten free flour to thicken the sauce. I used potato starch because we have a good size package of it due to the Passover baking.

Creamed Lobster

5 one-and-one-half-pound lobsters
12 tablespoons butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 cup chopped onions
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 cup dry sherry
2 cups finely chopped mushrooms
4 cups heavy cream, scalded
2 tablespoons flour (gluten free if necessary)
Boiled rice

1. Plunge a knife into the thorax or center portion of each lobster where the body and tail meet, to kill the lobster.
2. For each lobster, break off the large claws and sever body and tail. Crack the claws and cut the tail section in two crosswise. Split the body lengthwise and remove and discard the tough "sac" near the eyes. Remove the coral and tomalley, or liver.
3. Place all corals and livers in a mixing bowl and add three tablespoons of butter. Set aside.
4. Melt three tablespoons of the remaining butter in each of two heavy skillets large enough the accommodate the lobster pieces and claws (can be done in one pan if a large enough one is available). Dividing the ingredients between the pans, sprinkle lobster with salt, pepper and the paprika and stir. Add the onions, carrots, celery, thyme, bay leaf and shallots and cook, stirring, over relatively high heat until lobster turns pink. (Relatively high heat would be a 6 on the gas gauge on my stove.)
5. Add the sherry, stirring. Add the mushrooms. Simmer, covered, ten minutes.
6. Add two cups of the cream to each of the pans.
7. Remove the lobster from the skillets. Discard body pieces. If desired, the lobster meat may be removed from the shell. Or the meat may be served in the shell. In any event, keep the lobster covered and warm until ready to serve.
8. Combine the two pans of sauce and simmer, uncovered, fifteen minutes. Strain and press as much liquid from the solids as possible. (Or just leave them in.)
9. Using the fingers, blend the butter with the livers and corals. Turn off heat from sauce and stir in the mixture. Knead the remaining butter with the flour to make a beurre manie and with a wire whisk incorporate into the sauce. Heat to thicken and add the lobster. Cook without boiling until lobster is heated through. Serve piping hot, with boiled rice. Makes six servings.

Cold Anise Chicken Appetizers (Gluten Free)

My husband Bob tracked down this recipe from the great state of Hawaii and made a bunch of alterations to it for a small dinner we gave Saturday night. The menu, if I may say so, was fantastic. Now, the cold anise chicken was good but not wonderful. It was an appetizer. Originally, the recipe called for chicken wings that were to be simmered in the sauce.
Bob didn't like the idea of finger food. This was going to be eaten at the table, after all. So he cut strips of meat from a chicken breast and pounded them flat. Then, he marinated the strips in the sauce, and baked them in the oven for 30 minutes. He took them out about an hour before dinner to allow the chicken to cool.  The sauce, which is vaguely 50s Chinese, gave the chicken a bright, flavorful taste. Guests liked it.
Here is the original recipe. The sauce stays the same, what changes is the part of the chicken served to the guests.

Cold Anise Chicken Appetizers

16 chicken wings
2 scallions, including green part, cut into one-inch lengths
1/2 cup soy sauce (use gluten free if necessary)
1 cup water
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 teaspoon aniseed or two pieces star anise, crushed
4 whole cloves
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup light brown sugar

1. Cut off and discard the small tips of the chicken wings. Cut each wing in half.
2. Place wings in a saucepan and add remaining ingredients. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer one-half hour. Uncover and cook fifteen minutes longer, basting the wings as they cook. Let stand until cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve cold as an appetizer. Makes eight or more servings.