Sunday, December 21, 2008


The following is a guest post from D. I helped stir the recipe for about two minutes. D refused to use the kitchen aid and I got the kitchen aid because I hate mixing. I held the bowl while he stirred with both hands and then he sat on the floor and held the bowl between his legs while stirring with both hands. I would recommend using a standing mixer...

Ok, I think using a mixer would be problematic, and I'll explain why later, but it's true that this basic fudge recipe is ludicrously labor intensive. The final step calls for you to beat the fudge with a wooden spoon until it begins to lose its gloss, which can take 10 or 15 or more minutes. If you're working with a less-than-accurate candy thermometer the fudge may never lose its gloss, and you'll get uncongealed, though still delicious, fudge. Despite the simple ingredients a lot can go wrong. My younger sister and I used to make this recipe when we were kids and we'd crack each other up falsely claiming that "it's losing its gloss! it's losing its gloss!" Then one day the fudge actually did lose its gloss and everything happened so fast that before we could transfer it to the pan it was hard as a rock stuck to the bottom of the kettle. This, I suspect, is why you're supposed to beat it with a wooden spoon rather than an electric mixer.

There are a lot of easier fudge recipes out there--usually they call for evaporated milk and semi-sweet chocolate--but they pale in comparison to the real thing.

3 c. sugar
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 stick butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix together the sugar, cocoa, and salt in a kettle. Add the milk and cook over medium heat stirring constantly. When it comes to a boil stop stirring and take its temperature. Let it boil without stirring until it reaches 234 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla. Let it cool at room temperature, still without stirring, until it returns to 110 degrees. While it's cooling, line an 8 or 9 inch square pan with foil, and butter the foil. When the mixture has cooled, beat it with a wooden spoon until it loses its gloss. This is a lot of work and it's much easier if you have a helper and can take turns. Eventually (hopefully) it will thicken and you'll notice that its shine is fading--either that or you'll tire and decide that it's just not worth it. Whichever comes first, the next step is to transfer the fudge to the the pan. If the transition from glossy to matte was quick, you should also be quick about the transfer because the fudge can harden in no time. If you quit from exhaustion or you think the fudge is maybe losing its gloss but you're not really sure then you can be more leisurely about it. Let it cool completely and enjoy. If it hardens sufficiently, you can turn it over, peel off the foil, and cut it into squares. Store at room temp.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cranberry Christmas Cake

This is my favorite baked good of my mother's around the holidays.

Christmas Cake

1 cup sugar
2 cup flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 c cranberries, whole and fresh


Mix dry ingredients together first. Mix milk, melted butter, and vanilla together in a separate bowl. Stir dry and wet ingredients together. Gently stir in cranberries and make sure they do not break. Grease a 8 x 8 pan and pour the mixture in. Bake at 350 until it is golden brown on the top. You should be able to put a fork through the middle cleanly, but make sure the cake is not too done. This will take approximately 25 minutes.

1 c sugar
1/2 c cream
1/4 lb butter
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

While the cake is baking, the sauce should be made. Stir all ingredients together. Over medium heat, stir the mixture until the sugar disintegrates and it is clear.

Final Directions

Cut each piece individually and then spoon frosting on top. Should be served warm. The "frosting" will seep into the top layer of the cake and create a nice contrast between the cake and the tart cranberries.

The frosting can be stored in the fridge separately from the cake and reheated for future consumption.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Marshmallows are my favorite candy. I loooove them. My favorite are Kraft Jet Puffed. The texture, the vanilla, the memories of childhood. So imagine my surprise when I made them and they were even better. The recipe is copied exactly from the Barefoot Contessa website. Here is the recipe...

Homemade Marshmallows:

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Using an 8 by 12-inch nonmetal pan, cover the bottom with confectioner's sugar using a swifter. Pour in the marshmallow batter and smooth the top of the mixture with damp hands if needed. Allow to dry uncovered at room temperature overnight.

Remove the marshmallows from the pan and cut into squares. Roll the sides of each piece carefully in confectioners' sugar. Store uncovered at room temperature (I would recommend storing them covered).

Thoughts: I have never tried it with the coconut but that is what the original recipe calls for. I am sure it is delicious.
When heating the sugar, it rapidly heats to 225 degrees or so. Then it will gradually creep up to 240. A thermometer is a must. I use a digital thermometer that is great for cooking meat, making yogurt, etc.
I also dust the bottom of the pan with powdered sugar before putting the marshmallows in the pan and then the top once they have sat out over night. After I cut them out, I like to dust the sides as well. Excess powdered sugar can be brushed off.
A friend recommended that you should run the knife under hot water before cutting them.
I have used Knox gelatin and it works well although my friend's mom said that the high grade gelatin has a better initial smell and is worth spending the extra money.
The vanilla you use will greatly impact the taste. I made the first batch with some vanilla extract that my mom bought very cheaply at Safeway and added over a tablespoon plus one teaspoon vanilla. It was just the right amount. The next time I used some fancy, higher-end vanilla and put in the same amount. It was overpowering. Next time, I would probably put a tablespoon or a little less of the higher-end. If you use fancy vanilla put a little less than a tablespoon, and if it is lower end, add a little more.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Kelly's Marinated Salad

This salad is amazing and real. Unlike the following salad. I mean the following salad is amazing. Just in a very different way. I highly recommend this salad.

Kelly's Marinated Salad

4 nectarines, chopped
1/2 lb mushrooms, quartered
1/2 cup black olives, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 c green onion, chopped
6 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained

1/3 cup oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp tarragon
1/2 tsp thyme

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Mix marinade in a separate bowl and whisk together. Pour over salad ingredients. Let salad sit for two hours in the fridge. Stir occasionally.

50s Winter Fruit Salad

This is a traditional Easter salad from my family. I am pretty sure it was written when only canned fruit and bananas were available in the winter. When was cool whip invented? That was probably my mom's addition. She loooves cool whip. A warning: it is a very inexact recipe and I eat it once a year.

"Green" Salad

1 can pineapple tidbits
1 can fruit cocktail
1 can mandarins
2 bananas, chopped
Three cups marshmallows
1/2 to 1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 to 1 cup cool whip
1/4 cup sour cream
1 box pistachio instant pudding

Drain all the canned fruit of their liquid. Place in a large bowl with bananas and rest of ingredients. The pistachio instant pudding should create a pudding like consistency around the fruit. Adjust wet ingredients accordingly.

Lois' Enchiladas

So I visited home recently and started going through the family recipes. Here is the first.

Lois' Chicken Enchiladas
2 skinless chicken breasts, chopped
2 tbls cooking oil
1 med. chopped onion
1 4 oz can green chilies, chopped
1 4 1/2 oz can sliced black olives
1/2 cup sour cream, lowfat ok
1 clove garlic mixed
8-10 white corn tortillas
3/4 pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1-2 10 oz can enchilada sauce
1/2 c grated cheddar cheese
1/4 c chopped green onions
2 tbsp. cilantro

Cook chopped chicken in oil until no pink is left. Put aside. Cook onions in oil and cook 3 minutes on medium heat. Add 1/2 the chilies, 1/2 the olives, minced garlic, and sour cream. Heat through. Stir in chicken and set aside.

Wrap tortillas in foil and heat them in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove. Fill each with 2 tbls of onion mixture and 2 tbs grated Jack cheese. Roll up the tortillas and place seam side down in a buttered 9 by 13 baking dish. Pour enchilada sauce over each tortilla. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese, green onoins, cilantro, and remaining olives and green chilies.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes.

Variations: You could roast enough mild green chilies to make 1/2 cup instead of using the canned ones. Or make the tortillas by hand and the enchilada sauce from scratch. Haha.