Monday, July 4, 2011

RK0011 - Pickled Cantaloupe

  Last summer I was on a cantaloupe kick. I ate cantaloupe every morning with cottage cheese. And when I didn't have cottage cheese, I sprinkled it a little salt. The salt idea is from my grandmother, who always served juicy halves of cantaloupe with salt. I have a distinct luscious  memory of sitting on my grandmothers' porch on a hot summer day and eating cool cantaloupe with salt.  Bees buzzing in the Rose of Sharon, cicadas singing as they clung to the willow tree and warm lusty breezes surrounding me. Comforting me.  Oh, those lazy, magical days of childhood. 
 When I started eating the cantaloupe last year, I posted it on Facebook. Who doesn't do that?  I know many people don't like that kind of thing, posting mundane crap,  and it does annoy me some too, even though I am guilty of doing it.  But I don't regret having done it in this instance.  My aunt saw it and we had a conversation.  She told me that she still eats cantaloupe with salt. And that started a conversation.  We talked about my grandmother and the house she grew up in. We talked about the family holiday dinners there and my grandfathers garden.  It was great, I asked her questions, learned about my family and it was all because I posted I was eating cantaloupe with salt.

  What is significant about this, and more so in hindsight, is that my aunt and my family had been estranged for many years.  It was a terrible family dispute that lasted too long.  A few years ago the thaw started and we were soon back in each others lives.  But, my aunt is dead now.  She died of cancer.  She had a good life, she lived much longer than her doctors expected her to and she died very peacefully.  She had just shut up the house, sat on the couch, had a brandy, took her teeth out and then she expired.  She was found sitting on the couch. 

 So before you judge those mundane Facebook posts, know that they can be the start of changes,  lead to reconciliations and memories.  Even though they seem stupid, they are truthful.  I was eating cantaloupe with salt.

  I made pickled cantaloupe last year for the first time.  I found a recipe for pickled pears and that lead me to pickling the cantaloupe.  And it is yummy.  Yesterday I made the first batch of pickled cantaloupe this year. And as I was preparing them, I thought of long ago summers, my aunt and how wonderful it is to be alive. 

Enjoy the cantaloupe.

Here's the recipe:

Pickled Cantaloupe

1 large cantaloupe [just about ripe, still slightly firm]
White vinegar
Pickling spice
(2) 1-Quart mason jars with lids

1. Wash and dry the mason jars and lids.
2. Remove the hard rind from the cantaloupe.
3. Cut cantaloupe into 3/4 in pieces.
4.  Fill mason jars evenly with cantaloupe pieces.  Note: A large cantaloupe fills two jars.
5.  Fill one of the just packed jars with vinegar and strain the vinegar into a sauce pan.
6.  Do the same thing, but use water.
7.  Add a teaspoon of salt & sugar to the vinegar-water and bring to a boil.
8.  Add 1 Tablespoon of pickling spice to each jar of cantaloupe.  Note:  This amount of spice makes for an intense flavor. 
9.  Pour the boiling vinegar-water over the cantaloupe. 
10. Using a table knife, make sure the cantaloupe has no air pockets and the spices start to circulate through the liquid.
11.  Put the lids on.  Take a towel, wrap it around the hot jar, pick it up and give it a few good shakes.
12. Let cool then refrigerate. 
13.  Cantaloupe will be ready by the next day.


Monday, May 30, 2011

RK0010 - Chance

  In the Philadelphia area, a favorite treat is the TastyKake Krimpet.  They are tiny cakes, come three in a pack and there are two types - Butterscotch and Jelly.  Both types of Krimpets use the same cake.  The Butterscotch Krimpet is distinguished by a frosting and the other one by a jelly filling. 

  When I think of them, I'm reminded of my childhood. They are indelibly linked to it.  During every season and occasion there were TastyKake Krimpets

  Eating Krimpets was a ritual.  The first thing that was addressed was removing the wax paper wrapper without disturbing the frosting.  Of course, this only pertained to the butterscotch variety.  Often times, all of the frosting would stick to the wrapper while it was being removed, especially on a hot day.  It was like a game of chance.  What would happen?  Would all the frosting stick to the wrapper?, or maybe just the frosting from one or two of the cakes.  If none of the frosting stuck, "You won".  If you weren't so lucky, there was always another chance during the next time you earned the treat.  You've probably guessed that the guaranteed method of removing the wrapper without disturbing the frosting was to freeze the cakes first.  That works, but then you have to wait for the cake to defrost and who wants to wait that long! 

  The cake was spongy and had a delicate sweet flavor.  It was toothsome.  I never thought to question what kind of cake it might be.  I knew it wasn't like the boxed cakes my mother made.  I assumed that the special/different qualities of the Krimpet cake, as compared to boxed cake, was a result of being made in a factory.  It was just something that could never be reproduced in a home kitchen.  It was a company secret recipe that could only be reproduced in the company factory.

  A few months ago I made a Burnt Sugar cake.  I've been meaning to make one since espying it in the Meta Given's Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking, Volume 1.  I thought it was unusual and I like unusual cakes.  However, the recipe makes a large cake and I didn't have an occasion to make that large of a cake.  The recipe makes a cake that requires a party of 12-20 people to polish it off.  I would have eaten the whole thing by myself if it stayed in my house.  I like to bake, I just can't afford to stuff myself with the results.  I am following a bodybuilding routine and I do want the chance of seeing my abs at sometime.

  So I did some research and found other recipes for Burnt Sugar cake.  The earliest recipe I found was in the original Joy of Cooking, 1931.  The latest one was in the Ladies Home Journal cookbook from the 1960's.  Of the six recipes I found, there was a definite evolution. The earlier recipes called for a half cup of burnt sugar syrup, while the later ones required only three tablespoons.  However, all of them made a three layer 9 inch round cake.  Which would only mean death to my abs if I made it.

  So I decide to experiment.  I adapted a Kitchenette cake, which is a one bowl method cake. The Kitchenette cake is wonderful.  It makes an 8x8x2 inch square cake or sixteen cupcakes.  It is perfect for a small party and can be flavored as you like. For the adaptation I substituted some of the sugar with burnt sugar syrup and added two extra eggs to make the batter less thick.

  When I finally tasted it, I realized that I was eating a Butterscotch Krimpet.  It had the same spongy quality and it was the burnt sugar that gave it that special sweet flavor I remembered.  I also suspect that the burnt sugar syrup aids in making the cake moist and spongy, but I don't have any scientific proof, just a hunch. 

  So I came across, by chance, the secret to the Butterscotch Krimpet.  I guess factories are not so special. 

Here's the recipe:

Burnt Sugar Cake
1 1/3 c cake flour
2/3 c sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/3 c shortening
1/3 c milk
1/3 c burnt sugar syrup
1 t vanilla
3 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350º.
2. Prepare the burnt sugar syrup. See recipe below.
3. In a bowl combine the dry ingredients.
4. Add the shortening and rub it into the flour until it is crumbly.
5. Add the milk, burnt sugar syrup, vanilla and one egg.  Beat for 2 minutes scraping the sides of the bowl once.
6. Add the remaining two eggs and beat for an additional 2 minute scraping the sides of the bowl once.
7. Bake in a tube pan for 50 minutes.  Or fill 16 cupcake tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.
8. Once cake is done let cool and frost with Burnt Sugar frosting.

Burnt Sugar syrup
2/3 c sugar
1/2 c cold water
1/2 c hot water

1. In a heavy sauce pan add the sugar and water.
2. Heat until the sugar is a deep golden color. 
3. Remove from heat and carefully add the hot water. 
4. Return the pan to the burner and over low heat stir until the sugar is dissolved and is syrupy.
5. Cool. There should be about 2/3 cup of syrup.

Burnt Sugar frosting
1/3 c burnt sugar syrup
2 t powdered egg whites
1 T shortening
1/4 t flavoring [I like orange extract]
cold water
powdered sugar

1.  Mix the burnt sugar syrup with the egg white powder.
2.  Add enough powdered sugar to make a very thick frosting.
3.  Add the shortening and flavor and beat. The mixture should be fairly thick.
4.  Add about two tablespoons of cold water one teaspoon at a time and beat until frosting is of spreadable consistency.

Let me know if you make it and if you do please post a comment. 


Sunday, February 13, 2011

RK0009-A Valentines Day Meal Menu

  Valentines Day is a holiday that is both overly commercialized and a needed holiday.  Like other 'holidays', Valentines Day has been taken over by card companies, jewelry stores and chocolate makers.  And it is easy to understand how this holiday is monetized because marketing for this holiday is easy. It all has to do with FEELINGS.  A basic rule of advertising is to target peoples FEELINGS.  Selling things has nothing to do with selling a functional, beneficial or useful object or service, it has to do with how buying the object or service makes you feel.  It is a dog trick.  And Valentines Day is all about FEELING and specifically erotic love.  And erotic love is powerful and basic to our bodies, just as powerful as fear. 

  But this holiday is needed and we should celebrate it.  But celebrate it on your own terms. 

  Celebrate it by making love. 
  Be transgressive and take back and enjoy your erotic desires. 
  Be joyful with your body and relish how good it feels to be with another or yourself.
  If you are gay, make sure you flaunt your love in public just as much as heterosexuals do, which is often and wet.

  So with this  in mind.  I have a Valentines Day menu for you to serve to your sweetheart, friend, or yourself.  It is a transgressive menu which I hope will help you break the chain to our corporate overlords.  I perused my favorite retro cook books and came up with the following rocking menu.  

Cheddar cheese and crisp crackers
Salmon in Cucumber Aspic
wine: Chardonay
Braised Heart
wine: Pinot Noir
Carrot and Turnips in Tomato
Mashed Potatoes
Lemon Sorbet
Grandma's Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Mocha Frosting
Coffee or Tea
wine: Port

Here are the recipes:

From  Modern Priscilla Cook Book, 1924.
2 large cucumbers, peeled and seeded and chopped
1/4 chopped onion or 1 T dry onion flakes
salt and pepper
1 t lemon juice
1 1/2 c water
1 T gelatin
1/4 c cold water
3/4 c flaked salmon

1.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the 1/4 c of cold water.
2.  Boil the cucumber and onion in the water for 5 minutes.
3.  Remove from heat and purée the cucumber and onion mixture, add the lemon juice and season.  There should be about 2 cups of liquid.
4.  Add the gelatin and stir until gelatin dissolves. Chill until it is at the soft set stage. 
5.  Stir in the salmon and fill greased individual molds and chill until firm.
6.  Un-mold the aspics on lettuce leaves and serve with radish roses and lemon wedges.

From  Modern Priscilla Cook Book, 1924.

2  small calves' hearts or 1 Lb. Beef Heart
2  slices of salt pork
1  c beef stock
2  stalks of celery cut into 1/2 in pieces
1  large yellow onion, sliced
3  medium carrots cut into 1 inch pieces
1  medium turnip, cut into 1 inch pieces
1  bay leaf
3  cloves
1  t dry parsley or a T of fresh.
1 c crushed tomato

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.
2.  Render the salt pork in a frying pan.
3.  Flour, salt and pepper the hearts and brown them in the salt pork fat.  Do not clean pan.
4.  Place browned hearts in a roasting pan and add the beef stock, celery, onion, parsley, bay leaf and cloves. Bake for 1 1/2 hours covered.
5.  A half hour before the heart is finished cooking, add the carrots, turnip and tomato to the pan use for browning the heart.  Cook on medium-low heat covered until vegetables are as tender as you like.
6.  Remove the hearts to a platter and cover with tin foil. 
7.  Strain the pan juices and thicken it with flour and butter.
8.  Slice the hearts and place cooked carrots and turnip around the hearts and serve gravy in a separate dish.


3 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and roughly cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 butter

1.  Boil the potatoes until tender then drain and let sit with the cover off to dry a bit. 
2.  Add the butter, seasonings and mash.
3.  Add milk a little at a time until creamy yet firm enough to eat with a fork.

Adapted from the Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, Vol 3, 1966

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. shortening
1 Lb. light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 c. sweet milk
2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 package of fast rising yeast
4 oz. bakers chocolate
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla

1.  Preheat oven to 200°F, leave for 10 minutes and turn off oven and keep the oven door closed.
2.  Prepare a 10-in angel food pan [with removable bottom]. Grease the bottom of the pan lightly with vegetable shortening, lay down wax or parchment paper and greasing that lightly.  Do not grease the sides of the pan.
3.  In a sauce pan put the milk, chocolate and 1/3 of the sugar.  Heat this until the chocolate has melted.  Place on a wire rack until it has cooled to about 105°F.
4. Combine thoroughly the flour, yeast and baking soda.
5.  Cream butter and remaining sugar.
6.  Add eggs one at a time and beat at least one minute before adding the next egg. 
7.  Add the vanilla to the egg mixture and add 1/3 of the flour and 1/2 of the chocolate mixture and beat until combined. Repeat and finally add the last of the flour.  Beat until flour is incorporated into the batter. Do not over beat and make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

6. Pour batter into the angel food pan and place in the oven and close the door. Let it sit for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

7.  Take pan out of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.  Bake cake for 50 minutes. Test with a toothpick to check for doneness.  [For newbies, you stick the topic into the center of the cake between the hole and sides.  Pull it out.  If the toothpick is 'clean' the cake is done, if batter is on the toothpick, bake for another 5 minutes and test again.]

8.  When cake is done, place on a wire rack and let cool. When cool enough, place plastic wrap over the cake and let cool completely.

  Removing the cake is simple.  Run a knife along the edge of the sides and center of the cake.  Pull the cake out.  Invert so the cake drops out and remove wax paper.  Place on a plate and frost with Chocolate Mocha Frosting.

1 Lb Confectioners sugar
2 t powdered egg whites [also called meringue powder.]
1/2 c cocoa
1 T Sanka [dry instant coffee]
1/3 c Spry or your favorite brand of vegetable shortening.
warm water

Cream the shortening with the egg whites, coffee and cocoa.  Add 1/3 of the sugar and 1 teaspoon of water, repeat until all of the sugar is used. 

The frosting may need more water. Add a teaspoon at a time until it is of spreading consistency.  Be patient and beat for at least 5 minutes and scrape the sides of the bowl.  Also I recommend that you use an electric hand mixer.

I hope you like the menu and recreate it. If you do, please post a comment. 

Happy Valentines Day!



Sunday, January 30, 2011

Finally a Grapefruit cake!

I have been having a dickens of a time finding the perfect grapefruit cake. I made several. The first one was from the Culinary Arts Institute cookbook, circa 1940. It was okay, but not really grapefruity enough and makes an enormous cake - a three 9-inch round layer cake! Yikes! The second recipe I tried was one based on an orange cake recipe, where I substituted grapefruit. It was better, but really it was just a cake with a grapefruit glaze. This second cake made a 9x5 loaf - the perfect size IMHO. The last cake I made was also based on an orange-raisin cake recipe. The recipe is unusual because the whole orange, including the rind, is ground with raisins and added to the batter. It is a really an intense, moist orange cake. And when I substituted grapefruit, Voila! GRAPEFRUIT cake! Really!

I think one problem when cooking with grapefruit, is that grapefruit changes its character when cooked. That was my experience. The grapefruit loses its citrus character and is replaced with a floral one. Some of the bitterness is present, but not enough for one to recognize grapefruit. I think that using the whole grapefruit, including the peel/rind made this last recipe a success. I imagine that there must be loads of flavor in the rind. But I am only guessing here.

Grapefruit Loaf Cake
Based on an Orange Cake recipe from, Make-a-Sweet Cookbook by Barbara Zeitz, 1969.

2 c cake flour [I use Soft as Silk]
1 1/4 c sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1/3 c vegetable shortening
3/4 c milk
1 t vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Grated rind of one pink grapefruit
Juice of half a pink Grapefruit [about a 1/4 c]

1. Prepare 9x5 in loaf pan and preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Dry measure the dry ingredients into your mixing bowl and stir to thoroughly combine.
3. Add the shortening and grated grapefruit rind and cut into the dry ingredients.
4. Add the milk, flavoring and 1 egg. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes.
5. Add the remaining egg and grapefruit juice and beat an additional 2 minutes on high speed.
6. Bake for 45 minutes.
7. Frost with grapefruit frosting.

Grapefruit Frosting

1/2 t powdered egg whites
1 c powdered sugar
1 T shortening
grapefruit juice
red food die if you like pink.

1. Combine the dry ingredients and shortening into the metal bowl and stir.
2. Cut the shortening into the sugar.
3. Add a teaspoon of grapefruit juice and stir. Add more juice by the teaspoon until the frosting spreadable and beat adding more grapefruit juice until fluffy yet firm enough to spread.

Note: You may want to read my entry on Devils Food Cake from January 9, 2010. It is also a one-bowl method cake.
Ultimate Grapefruit Cake which beats Paula Deens' puny Grapefruit Cake cake
Based on Rainbow Grange Raisin Cake recipe from, Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, Vol. 4 , 1966.

2 large eggs
1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 c butter, melted
2 1/2 c All-purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1/4 t nutmeg or mace
1/2 c sour milk or buttermilk
1 c golden raisins chopped
1 pink grapefruit, split in half and seeded. Note: You can use regular grapefruit too, but pink is prettier.

1. Take half the grapefruit and cut into 1 inch pieces along with the rind in a bowl. Add the raisins and place in a food processor and grind it up until fairly smooth.
2. In a large bowl, beat eggs until thick and creamy.
3. While beating, gradually add sugar and melted butter.
4. Stir together dry ingredients.
5. Beat the dry ingredients alternately with the sour milk to the egg mixture.
6. Fold in the grapefruit-raisin mush.
7. Pour into a prepared 9x9x2in pan and bake for 50-55 minutes at 350°F.
8. Optional: After the cake has cooled in its pan. Spread a thin glaze of grapefruit juice, brandy and sugar over top the cake.

The cake is very rich and moist. It really does not need frosting.

PS If you want to make the orange cake, substitute a whole orange for the grapefruit.

Thanks and let me know if you make any of the cakes!