Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Bruce's Mom's Mom's Devil's Food Cake

With hankerings for kitchen creations and time on my hands the Saturday before Christmas, I tried out a new recipe I found in sort of an obscure blog posting. It's from someone named Bruce and he titled it "Mom's Devil's Food Cake," circa 1917-1920. It's what he got from his mother, who was replicating his grandmother's recipe.

I had held on to some extra chocolate frosting from making the Wellesley fudge cake a couple of weeks ago and decided to make it the center layer/filling. It still had some ooze to it, so it was an imperfect execution, and it peeked through the vanilla buttercream as I spread it around the sides of the cake. But it made for a compelling mix of flavors once the cake was sliced and sampled. The two icings were winners; I'm afraid the cake layers themselves were pretty darned dry. I suspect I'll be discarding this recipe because I've got plenty of other promising ones to try instead.

"Mom's Devil's Food Cake," posted by Bruce to the FreshLoaf.com blog. [Posted 06 April 2009]

Vanilla Buttercream based on "Chocolate Velvet Cake," from Barry C. Parsons of RockRecipes.com.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Meal No. 2501: Potato Cheddar Soup

The combination of continuing cold temps and the tender gums and sockets following my oral surgery were a dual catalyst for the dinner menu the Sunday before Christmas. With a recipe my sister had sent me to work from, I tinkered around and came up with an adapted approach to potato cheddar soup, to great end, I think. It was pretty darned delicious, and it also made a bunch, so I was able to share containers of it with two sets of neighbors down the street. I figured I'd better remember what I did this time when I was making it, so I went ahead and typed up the recipe after dinner. You can grab your own copy of it by clicking the link below.

"Potato Cheddar Soup," from the Roediger House. Adapted from "Potato and Cheese Soup from KitchenArt: The Store for Cooks in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream

The week before Christmas, I had to have some oral surgery to remove two (!) broken molars, followed by bone grafts. Dr. Jason Ringeman, DDS/MD, was pretty fantastic and the absence of pain and swelling afterwards was a joyous revelation. But I had to go for quite a few days being careful about what I ate, sticking to soft foods and such. On the recommended list: ice cream. So I made some, choosing the easier route of this simple and fantastic version of Vietnamese coffee ice cream. While it didn't set up to its usual creaminess and was actually a bit icy, it was still delicious. Too bad I had to have the surgery, eh?

"Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream," by David Lebovitz. In The Perfect Scoop. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press (2007), p. 35.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Meal No. 2500: Slow-Roasted Prime Rib of Beef

It's not all that often that I do a standard beef roast. But a week before Christmas, knowing I was about to have oral surgery and was going to be out of commission or partially decommissioned for a few days, I slow-roasted a small rib roast that resulted in a perfectly cooked slab of prime rib. It went awesomely with a fresh batch of homemade Yukon gold mashed potatoes and buttered garden peas.

"Perfect Prime Rib Recipe," by J. Kenji López-Alt, Chief Culinary Consultant/Advisor for SeriousEats.com.

Friday, December 27, 2019

French Yogurt Loaf

With spotty showers and a gray overcast sky Tuesday a week ago, the Roediger House hosted the conclusion of Bradley Phillis's overnight visit but also got the bonus treat of a drive-through stop-off by fellow Wake Forest chum Jason Miller and his daughter Morgan. I thought we might all profit from the availability of a French yogurt loaf (or cake, if you prefer). This might have been the best I've ever baked it, but it's always good regardless.

"French Yogurt Cake," by Andrew Knowlton. In Bon Appétit, May 2012, p. 30.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Meal No. 2499: Brunswick Stew

With another delightful visit by Bradley Phillis to the Roediger House at the end of his fall semester teaching at Gardner-Webb University, so that we could tackle an article idea that we've been percolating for several years, I served up a huge pot of Brunswick stew at suppertime.

Brunswick Stew based on:

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Meal No. 2498: Rotisserie-Style Whole Chicken

Ten days ago, at the conclusion of a much more seasonably appropriate blue-sky-and-sunny December day, I made a grander Sunday dinner: rotisserie-style chicken with Alabama great white sauce for serving, homemade creamy mashed potatoes, and roasted broccoli florets. I took advantage of a couple of suggested tweaks for the mashed potatoes and was extra pleased at how good they turned out. I might've overdone it when I tumbled into deep grazing mode, but it was pretty satisfying as Sunday suppers go.

"How to Cook Instant Pot Whole Chicken - Rotisserie Style," by Sheena from GlutenFreePressureCooker.com.

"Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning," by Judith Hanneman, The Midnight Baker.

"Alabama Great White Sauce" (p. 362), in Smoke & Spice, by Cheryl and Bill Jamison. Boston: The Harvard Common Press, 2003.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Meal No. 2497: Baby Back Ribs

The ribs sure have been good at the Roediger House this fall, and the first Saturday night of my extended Christmas vacation was no exception. (Most schools still had another week to go before they got out but, given the nature of my work, they don't want or need me then so I typically get more time off and deserve it much less!) Anyway: on December 14th, with a package of baby back ribs that was in need of cooking, I settled on a plate of ribs with roasted parmesan and garlic asparagus tips, and I saved the rest of the ribs for a big pot of Brunswick stew at the start of the following week.

"How to Make Great Ribs in the Oven," by Emma Christensen. From The Kitchn. [Published 01 July 2017]

Monday, December 23, 2019

Peanut Butter Party Fudge

Although it seems I made peanut butter fudge fairly recently, I came back to this recipe so that I'd have some goodies to take to a Christmas gathering back on December 14th. It's an awesomely simple approach to a confection that so many people seem to like, even if it ain't my cup of tea.

"15-Minute Peanut Butter Fudge," in the article "Simplifying Fudge" by David Pazmiño. In Cook's Illustrated, January & February 2007, p. 22-23.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Meal No. 2496: 2 x 2 Soup

For a simple meal on a chilly, rainy, miserable Friday afternoon a little over a week ago, I made a half-batch of the warm and delicious 2 x 2 soup.

"2 x 2 Soup," from various sources.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Salted Coffee Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

With a little time on my hands Tuesday a week ago, before I hit the road for a couple of days of work in two different school districts in Virginia, I whipped up a batch of salted coffee caramel chocolate chip cookie bars. When I work in these two Virginia destinations, it is all too rare that I am able to bring any goodies from the kitchen. The Christmas season seems to help put us all in the mood to partake of good sweets like these.

Instead of making a new batch of caramel, I reached for the mason jar of coffee-spiked caramel that I'd made to go with oatmeal chocolate chunk skillet cookies not too long ago.

From "Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars," from Michelle, The Brown-Eyed Baker.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Wellesley Fudge Cake and Vanilla Fudge Ripple Ice Cream

Following our RoHo regulars gathering for chili on Sunday a week ago, I also had some dessert to offer up to everybody, with two parts and both of 'em were new trials for me. That afternoon, I piloted the Wellesley Fudge Cake recipe I'd snagged a while back from SeriousEats.com. It was really tasty and, since I made it as a square layer cake, it was also visually interesting:

The ice cream, though, was out of this world: fudge ripple vanilla bean ice cream, that I'd whipped up the day before so that it would have time in the freezer to set up. I think we all liked the cake, but it seemed clear that we LOVED that ice cream. I'm-a have to make more of that one of these days.

"Wellesley Fudge Cake Recipe," from Jessie Oleson, the Cakespy with SeriousEats.com. [Published 30 July 2012]

"Vanilla Ice Cream" (p. 35-36) and "Fudge Ripple" (p. 122), from Bi-Rite Creamery's Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones, by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker, and Dabney Gough. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press (2012).

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Meal No. 2495: Simple Beef Chili with Beans

At the end of the first week of December, with the colder than normal temps persisting and chilling me through and through, I was more than happy to whip up a big ol' pot of beef chili when the Roediger House crew of regulars came for dinner. Steaming in our bowls and adorned with cheese and/or sour cream, depending upon individual preferences, and accompanied by sweet Southern cornbread, we all had more than our fill, I think.

"Simple Beef Chili with Kidney Beans," from Cook's Illustrated, Number Sixty-One [March-April 2003], p. 10-11.

Sweet Southern Cornbread adapted from "Golden Sweet Cornbread," from bluegirl on AllRecipes.com.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Meal No. 2494: Cream of Asparagus Soup

With asparagus on sale at the Harris Teeter for only 99-cents a pound, I felt like I could indulge back on December 7th in a pot of cream of asparagus soup. I'd never made it before and based my version on a sampling of different recipes, plus some useful know-how gained from making other similar soups.

My version based on:

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Classic No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I was a bit restless as the day was ending on Friday December 6th, perhaps because dinner was eaten and cleaned up so early. I filled the time with a nostalgic return to an elementary school staple: the no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookie. It's been at least a dozen years since I made these, and probably longer. Still: all those memories came flooding back even as I recognized how much better they taste when you've made 'em yourself.

"Classic No-Bake Cookies," from Danielle of LiveWellBakeOften.com.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Meal No. 2493: Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

On the first Friday of December, I had to make a quick shift of dinner plans when the evening schedule got unexpectedly adjusted, and all I had on hand was a block of hot Neese's breakfast pork sausage to work with. Guess that's why the glory of biscuits and sausage gravy made for an excellent substitution as I put an early dinner on the table.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Red Velvet Cake

Here's a red velvet cake I decided to make when I had a Wednesday at home during the first week of the month.

(in the midst of frosting the cake)

"The Best Red Velvet Cake," from Barry C. Parsons of RockRecipes.com.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Meal No. 2492: Sheet Pan Fried Chicken Sandwiches

Y'all know that I went on a big weight-loss push in 2018, and I've been pretty aggressive about keeping an eye on my status every single morning ever since. I've entered this end-of-year holiday season with some trepidation, of course! I'm glad to report, though, that my Thanksgiving morning weigh-in had me at 131.0; my Black Friday weigh-in was 131.6, and on the following Wednesday, I was all the way back down to 128.6, which is too low, and boy howdy did it leave me feeling hungry. Since I had that day at home, I hastened to try out a new recipe for sheet pan "fried" chicken fillets, served as a biscuit sandwich with some homemade honey-mustard sauce. While the crispy coating on the chicken didn't brown as much as I'd like, and I could tell it had been forever since I'd made biscuits, it was simply an indication that I definitely had room to improve. But it was still a fine and filling lunch.

"Sheet Pan Fried Chicken Sandwiches," from TheKitchn.com. [Update published 24 October 2019]

Friday, December 13, 2019

Peanut Butter Fudge

This was a quickly whipped up treat on the first Monday of December: peanut butter fudge. Peanut butter is awesome but most peanut butter confections are not really my thing (I say NO to peanut butter ice cream and peanut butter cookies, for instance). I'm considerably less believable talking about my distaste for peanut butter fudge when I'm talking with my mouth full of it.

"15-Minute Peanut Butter Fudge," in the article "Simplifying Fudge" by David Pazmiño. In Cook's Illustrated, January & February 2007, p. 22-23.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Meal No. 2491: A Turkey Sandwich

The food for the 2019 Roediger House Thanksgiving was pretty good and, fortunately, there were leftovers. But I didn't partake of them myself, particularly, until the Monday night afterwards when I gave in to the siren call of a turkey sandwich. Sandwiches have virtually disappeared from my diet and I'm blogging about this one because I think it's the first ordinary loaf bread-and-mayonnaise sandwich I've made for myself since embarking on the major weight loss effort at the end of the spring in 2018. It was pretty tasty—and it was a bit much.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Meal No. 2490: Tenderloin Beef Tips & Port Wine Mushroom Sauce

Oh my: on the first day of December, the evening meal was a delicious fancy-restaurant-worthy treat: beef tenderloin tips served over homemade mashed potatoes, with a port wine mushroom sauce that was pretty divine, plus roasted garlic-parmesan asparagus. I used to cook things like this more, and I used to eat things like this a lot more, so it was all the more special in the face of its current rarity. I also impressed myself by following no recipes to make all this: I just made it.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Double Chocolate Loaf Cake

On the final day of November, I had two kitchen dessert disasters. That morning I tried an old recipe for making buttermilk fudge that ended up being a mass of unmanageable caramel taffy, and then in the evening I whipped up a simple chocolate loaf cake that was about as ho-hum as anything I've made in quite a while. I took a couple of bites and pitched the whole thing in the garbage. I trashed the recipe print-out as well. Good riddance.

Recipe based on "Extra Chocolate Pound Cake," claimed by Sarah Smith from her Mama of Montreal blog [Published 26 November 2019]. Unfortunately, it appears to be based on and partially copied (without attribution) from BBCGoodFood.com, first published in Good Food magazine, August 2010.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Chewy Sugar Cookies

In spite of the full day of Thanksgiving prep and all the hard work I put in that Thursday, I was drawn back into the kitchen on Friday morning and ended up busting out a batch of chewy sugar cookies. Not that additional treats were needed, with half of an amazing carrot cake sitting on the counter. But these cookies still found plenty of takers.

"Chewy Sugar Cookies," by Katie Leaird. In Cook's Country, December/January 2018, p. 24-25.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Blue Ribbon Carrot Cake

While I'm sure our bellies were quite stuffed from the fine feast for Thanksgiving, it still seemed incumbent upon me to have a festive dessert available. The new traditional favorite, based on a recipe shared with me by friends and colleagues from Woodstock, VA, is the Southern Living blue ribbon carrot cake, with a buttermilk glaze...

...and cream cheese frosting:

It's true that not all the Thanksgiving dinner guests were ready to dig into it after our filling feast, but I happily boxed up slices to send home with folks as they departed.

"Blue Ribbon Carrot Cake (1981)," also known as "Best Carrot Cake (October, 1997)," from Southern Living. Compiled in the Southern Living 1981 Annual Recipes, Birmingham: Oxmoor Press. Also found online. The recipe I follow was recommended to and shared with me by John & Ebbie Linaburg of Woodstock, Virginia.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Meal No. 2489: Thanksgiving 2019

My most favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. It's food, and it's friends, and both of those in combination are absolutely central to Roediger House life. The guest list this year was quite a bit different from recent tradition, given that our lives evolve and change with the onward march of the years. It was delightful to have neighbors Deborah, Alaina, Bethany, and Brian, and to also be joined by Deborah's daughter and son-in-law and also by Bethany's sister.

My pictures from that night are all during preparation and cooking, because once it was ready we all went straight into dinner mode and my camera was left behind in the kitchen. Above you'll see roasted herbed turkey breast right after it came out of the oven, and below is a shot of the roasted beef tenderloin.

I went down the line and grabbed shots of the buffet set-up:

A few years ago, I came across David Venable's recipe for stuffing, which is made with Granny Smith apples:

...and cooked diced thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon:

...and woven altogether in a glorious mash that also includes diced onion, herbs, seasonings, chicken stock, butter, and heavy cream. The full plate that I sat down to that evening is shown below:

Clockwise, from top: apple and bacon stuffing, layered green bean casserole, slow-cooker sweet potatoes, creamy horseradish sauce, roasted beef tenderloin with onion and mushroom wine sauce, turkey breast with gravy. Center: Southern creamed corn.

"Oven-Roasted Turkey Breast," Betty Crocker: Holiday Entrées, Sides, Brunches, & More, November 2001, p. 22-23.

"Beef Tenderloin in Wine Sauce" (p. 296) and "Spicy Horseradish Sauce" (p. 295), from The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook. Compiled and Edited by Julie Fisher Gunter. Oxmoor Press (2006).

"Layered Green Bean Casserole," from my sister Allison in Rossville, Indiana.

"Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping," from Southern Living Slow-Cooker Cookbook,  (Oxmoor House, 2006), p. 234-235.

"Cornbread Stuffing with Apples and Bacon," from David Venable. Found online.

"Southern Creamed Corn," by Patrick and Gina Neely of the Food Network.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Coffee Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Perhaps my record-keeping is off, because I can't believe it's been two years since I last made these caramel-stuffed chocolate chip cookie bars. When I made oatmeal chocolate chip skillet cookies earlier in November, I ended up with plenty of extra coffee caramel, so I put it to use on Thanksgiving Eve to whip up a batch of these cookie bars, with plenty to share. I'm afraid I overcooked 'em a bit, giving them a pretty dense and solid base, but the flavors were still pretty terrific.

From "Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars," from Michelle, The Brown-Eyed Baker.