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Category Archives: condiments

How to: make confectioners sugar

Call it what you like-confectioners sugar, icing sugar or powdered sugar, today I am here to tell you that you can make your own.  That you will never again have to purchase it unless of course you want to. I myself intend to never buy the stuff again.  Don’t worry we won’t be putting anyone out of work by making our own confectioners sugar. But you will discover how convenient it is to make your own because it starts out with one ingredient that most of us always have in our homes-sugar. Yes, plain old granulated pure cane sugar.  Better still the sugar is the only ingredient you will need for this.

 I came to make my own confectioners sugar by accident.  I always knew that it could be easily made but I never thought to do so as I always picked up a box or bag when I purchased sugar as they are conveniently located near each other.  As any baker knows when you do a lot of baking chances are at some point you will need confectioners sugar for icing, frosting and even just dusting a thin coat over a quick bread or single layer cake.

A couple of weeks ago after I had finished the monkey bread I found I had no confectioners sugar for the maple cream cheese frosting.  I did not feel like taking a trek to the store so I figured I’d finally go ahead and make my own.  I can’t believe how silly I was to have never done this before.  And I call myself a baker.  It’s as simple as this: put sugar in a blender and blend away.  That’s it.  I used my handy immersion blender only because I was making just a little for the icing.  If making a large batch I suggest using the blender it’s much easier.

Though no directions are needed I will provide them.  You’ll find this will be so handy come holiday baking time.  You can thank me then, with say a batch or two of your favorite home-baked cookies.

XO Kat

Confectioners sugar

Directions:  Place 1-3 cups granulated sugar in a blender.  Pulse or blend on high until sugar turns to a fine powder.  Stop blender and using a spoon scoop out a tiny bit and taste, if it is still grainy continue to pulse or blend until a smooth powder.  Store in an airtight container.

Note:  to help as a thickening agent and to prevent clumping , especially if you are using for icing or glazes, add 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch for each cup of sugar.

cranberry sauce and cranberry cake

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Hi all! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. By now we all should be recovered from too much cooking, too much eating and too much shopping! I’m not exaggerating when I say I had dessert for breakfast, lunch and dinner three days in a row  after Thanksgiving. But no guilt here, I love good food.

I’m still sort of in the recovery stage so a quick post today. As you can see my pictures look a little different. I’ve been playing around with a new App that I fell in love with-Instagram. It works with my iPhone and I’m having fun learning all about it. From these pictures you can tell I’ve got more learning to do.

The pictures are of a very easy cranberry sauce I made-delicious, and a cake that I made using it the day after Thanksgiving. This cranberry sauce (I like to think of it more as jelly) is easy to make and leaves lots of room for your own additions. I used jalapeno peppers and oranges but there are many more possibilities that I’m sure you could come up with.

.

The cake is butter heaven. It’s an adaptation of  a cake from a chef that I really admire. She has a wonderful cookbook and this cake is her version of  a rustic spanish cake she had while visiting  Spain.I fell in love with the name and anytime I open this cookbook I go directly to the page with this cake recipe, look at the picture and mouth the words.

The cake is a Pastel Vasco with blackberry compote and poured cream. I could say that all day.

I had leftover cranberry sauce so I came up with the idea to put it in the cake instead of the blackberry compote. The cranberry sauce is similar to a compote, only no  alcohol, I just added a teaspoon of cornstarch to hold the juices together. I had to do something with the cranberry sauce because every chance I got I kept sticking a spoon into the jar and eating it. I figured making the cake was a better way to utilize the cranberry sauce and everyone would get the chance to have some.

The cake is easy and doesn’t require a stand mixer. You mix it by hand. Though I love my stand mixer I’m all for any cake that can be easily mixed in a bowl and this one fits the bill, because the butter is melted there is no need for creaming the butter and sugar.

If you made this cranberry sauce when I posted the recipe on Facebook and have leftovers-use it. If not it’s simple to make and will last two weeks in the refrigerator.

Recipe: Cranberry sauce and Cranberry cake

Directions for cranberry sauce:

1 bag frozen cranberries

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup water

1 jalapeno julienned,finely and seeds removed

1 long sliver orange peel, removed from a fresh orange using a peeler

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil,add the cranberries,sugar,jalapeno and orange peel. Simmer until berries skin pops and mixture thickens-about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely . The mixture will thicken more as it sits. Store in jars in refrigerator for two weeks.

 Cranberry Cake-adapted,loosely, from Suzanne Goin

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 large eggs

1 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, plus more to sprinkle on top

14 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted plus 3 tablespoons unmelted

2 tablespoons bourbon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 c fresh orange juice,squeezed from 1 orange

3/4 cranberry sauce thickened with 1 teaspoon cornstarch on stovetop-cooled before using

Directions for cranberry cake:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9×5 inch loaf pan with the  3 tablespoons softened butter

Sift the flour,and baking powder together in a bowl. Add the salt.

Whisk 3 eggs together in a large  bowl. Whisk in sugar,butter, bourbon,vanilla and orange juice. Fold in the dry ingredients and let the batter rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Remove batter from refrigerator and pour three-quarters of the batter into the loaf pan,spoon over the cranberry mixture,being careful to keep it away from the edges of the pan. Top with the remaining batter. It’s ok if some berries show through.

Beat the remaining egg and brush lightly over the batter. Sprinkle a handful of sugar over the top. bake about 1 hour,until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let rest on a cooling rack about five minutes then carefully remove from pan and cool completely on rack.

Note: Suzanne suggests you slice this cake into 3/4 inch thick slices, lightly butter each side with softened butter and toast in a pan over the stove. Once toasted spoon more og the cranberry sauce over and serve with the slightly thickened cream. I hungrily suggest this also.

 

pesto

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arugula pesto

It isn’t difficult for me to go on and on about the food I grew up eating. It’s as familiar to me as the back of my hand. I could write forever about Thanksgiving meals and explain in detail what appeared on plates from Christmas to Easter. I can write about chit’lins,black-eyed peas,collard greens and cornbread stuffed with cracklings, that never failed to appear at every New Years dinner table. I can write about huge Sunday breakfasts that were  precursors to Sunday dinners. I can describe in detail the meal my mother cooked and had waiting for me, when I returned home from the hospital with my newborn son, after I’d complained about having to eat hospital food for seven days.

They are foods that are steeped in family tradition. Passed from one generation to the next. I know because I have had the privilege of eating these foods at the tables of cousins and aunts and great aunts. Food that I have cooked again and again for my own family. I could write about this food with little or no effort and tell great stories to go along with it.

Writing about the food I love to cook now is a different story all together. Only because the food I like to cook now was never a part of my family tradition but hopefully it will be a part of my children’s along with older family traditions.

 I begged my mother to make macaroni and cheese. My daughter begs me to make cheesy pasta,don’t be fooled by the humble name, it’s a dish rich with butter,cream and real parmesan cheese.

My sons beg me to make an even richer shrimp dish that is referred to as New Orleans barbecue shrimp and begins by making an enriched seafood stock.

My family is willing guinea pigs. I make something,they try it and if it meets their approval it becomes a part of our family meals.

Had I ever mentioned pesto to my mom or dad they would have both looked at me and questioned what it was. In my house we like pesto. It appears at least once every summer. I think of it as the quintessential summer sauce, it’s quick to make,the ingredients are easy to get and it doesn’t have to be cooked. Pesto is also extremely versatile. I usually make a big batch,freeze some and leave the rest in a container in the refrigerator to be added to other things.

It’s great slathered onto leftover  grilled chicken,excellent on pasta,mixed into vinaigrettes for salads,put onto grilled bread for a snack-the possibilities are endless. As long as I have a container of homemade pesto in the refrigerator, I know I won’t be wondering what to eat.I made a quick-lunch by sauteing shrimp and putting it on top of linguine with arugula pesto. Traditionally pesto is made with basil but can be made with herbs and other types of greens. I’ve even seen a recipe for fennel frond pesto which I would like to try. I used arugula because I had some leftover from a salad. Arugula has a peppery bite so it makes a much different pesto than one made with grassy-aromatic basil. I also used pecans instead of pine nuts because they are a good match with the biting bitterness of arugula. That’s another thing I like about pesto-it can be made using different combinations of nuts, greens,herbs and cheeses.

I promise you this will be the easiest sauce you will ever make. A few ingredients and a couple of rounds in a blender or food processor and you’ve got pesto.

It’s funny, I have never made pesto for other family members and only because when we get together we all want food that we grew up with that are familiar to us all. I’ve been thinking it’s time to add to family traditions and the next time we are all together I will definitely be making a batch of pesto.

Recipe: arugula pesto

4 cups(packed) arugula leaves

1 fat garlic clove

1/4 cup pecans,toasted in a pan and chopped

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/4 good olive oil

Directions:

Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Eat and enjoy.

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