Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Angel Food Cupcakes are Gluten-Free and...

Today on A Book of Cookrye, we are once again venturing into modern food fads: gluten free stuff and cupcakes! It seems cupcakes are the latest trend in cake-making, and because all I could find to bake these in were cupcake pans, we're having a go at cupcake perpetration whether we expected to or not.
I'm doing the gluten free bit because my victim taste-tester has decided he's got the gluten problems. Speaking of taste-testers, today's entry features reaction shots again! Meet Alex, who will today be voluntarily ingesting whatever comes out of today's foray into the world of gluten free comestibles.
With a minor guest appearance by the disembodied hands of his sister.
Also, since I've moved out, A Book of Cookrye will have a lot more kitchen visits!

Angel Food Cupcakes
1⅓ c. egg whites
1⅓ tsp. cream of tartar
¼ tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
1¼ tsp. flavoring of your choice*
1½ c. rice flour
½ c. sugar

Heat oven to 325°. For this recipe, do not grease the pans.
Beat the egg whites to a froth. Beat in the cream of tartar and the salt and beat to stiff peaks. Add the sugar, in small additions. The best way I've found is to sprinkle a little over the egg whites, being careful not to use enough to weigh down and deflate them. Then turn on the mixer, beat them thoroughly in, and sprinkle on the next addition. Set aside your mixer (you're done with it for this recipe) and get out a wooden spoon. Sprinkle on whatever flavoring you've used (vanilla and almond extracts are the most common choices), and fold it in. Then fold in the flour in multiple additions , sprinkling each addition on top as you did with the sugar. You'll get a lot of lumps and may be tempted to get out the mixer to just beat the foam/batter smooth-- keep patiently folding the batter with the spoon because it'll deflate if you get out the mixer or if you just stir it hard.
Pour the batter into the tube pan (or take a scoop and put it into the cupcake pans if that's all you found in the kitchen), and bake until it feels firm and springs back when pressed with a finger. Cook the cakes with the pans upside down, propping them up so the tops don't get squished. Then cut them out of the pans.

*To see if subbing in rice flour changed the taste, I left this out.
I remember reading that if you're subsitituting in rice flour, you want to use 1½ times as much. So I did.
Yeah, I kind of forgot to sift together the flour and sugar. It's probably easier if you do than it was to add them separately, but it worked this way also if you don't feel like getting out another bowl and a sifter.

My mom got this pamphlet out of a bin for 80¢, and it has fascinated me for years.
Ostensibly the manual for a mixer, it has about one page of instructions followed by what appears to be every 1940s promotional recipe they could get their hands on. About two thirds of it's cakes. There's lemon meringue cake, date cake, peanut butter cake (which I made every other week for a while in high school), Creole cake, maraschino cake, Lady Baltimore cake, pecan loaf cake, and page after page of white cakes, yellow cakes, spice cakes, and chocolate cakes. There's even a Celebration Cake recipe that ends with "Decorate cake with pink-tinted sugar, if desired, and garland plate with pink roses or other fresh flowers."

Because this is America, there's a corn syrup cake.
 I gotta respect how spattered this is; it's a sign that at least a few of these recipes are actually good. There is a lot of evidence that those old corporate cookbooks had awful recipes, and we at A Book of Cookrye have personally experienced that a recipe isn't good just because it's old. However, the fact that nearly every page of this book is heavily spattered and stained suggests that it actually has good recipes. And so, we proceed forward with....
Why'd they set every brand mention in all capitals?
But wait! We've got a gluten-free friend tasting this! We can't use cake flour, Softasilk or otherwise.
Fad-diet approved!
I'm very surprised I didn't see rice flour at the supermarket since gluten is the new carbs. There were expensive boxes of flour replacement concoctions which supposedly I can substitute into any of my recipes with no changes at all. But I had to go to the Asian grocery for a plain bag of rice flour that was less than $5 a pound.
Also, if you've ever made angel food cake, you know it starts with cracking over a dozen egg whites perfectly, with not a speck of yolk in any of them.
Or you take the short cut.
The funny thing about making angel food cakes is once you've beaten the egg whites into something resembling Styrofoam, every stage of mixing them looks the same.
I once cracked this much egg white by hand when making this. It took 30 minutes.
Once you've gotten the egg whites stiff, there's no really discernible difference as the batter mixes.
Stiff peaks.
You're just trying to carefully add everything else, all the while terrified that the foam will deflate and you'll be left with something utterly pointless.
First addition of sugar.
And yet it's about to run over the bowl, so you kinda want it to go down a little bit. But not really because then it'd go from angel food to... er... food for someone God's mildly peeved at.
It may get a bit less frothy, but that's all the discernible difference between egg whites and finished batter. Also, the flour's really lumpy. I get the idea that mixing it with the sugar like the recipe said would have prevented that.
I got to break all of those lumps while remaining excessively gentle lest my egg whites deflate.
For comparison, here it is with just-beaten egg whites and after it's all in.

It's so white...
And now, we take this, look for and fail to find a tube pan, and decide we may as well put the cupcake pans to use.
There was another half-dozen pan, but those were burnt while these ended up just right.
Anyway, did you know that if angel food cake cools off rightside-up it'll fall down on itself? You have to cool it upside down. Since it usually goes in a tube pan, the usual way is to put it on a wine bottle. We used a different way.
Anyway, Alex tried one of them. And here's the result:
Amused that I'm photographing this.
Shoving it down his cupcake hole.
Savoring, pondering...
Still thinking...
"What do you mean, 'it's all right?' I spent forever slaving over an electric mixer for this!"
Unfortunately, he was having one of the burnt ones. And as he pointed out, angel food cake does not benefit from having a lot of crust.

Then we tried the big pan of not-burnt cupcakes.

So the burnt ones went in the trash. As for the good ones- well, they were very close to angel food made with wheat flour. Like regular angel food cake, they weren't as sweet as regular cakes, but more mild and subtle. I actually really liked mine dunked in tea.
They were very nice and light, yet just firm enough. There was a slight-- not aftertaste, but after-texture that was almost gritty but not quite. But it went away after a second or two.

Unfortunately, after all the tasting and photographing, Alex's sister made it a bit less likely he'll be featured on A Book of Cookrye in the future.
When he's shaved the beard, he does a really good Beaker face.

And that's as good a picture as any to end an entry about gluten free cake with!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Just take what's left in the fridge and shove it in a pan: moving out of the dorm

Hiya from on the bus again! I'm writing this one just after finishing the last one and still noting some of the interesting things we're passing. This is the story of taking the last dregs of the fridge and ending up with something surprisingly delicious that I'd totally do again on purpose.
Also, I'm going to miss seeing things like this.
When last we left off, I'd attempted to make a quiche and made something drippy, runny, and also too rich to actually eat. Marcus and I were going to use it in a lasagna, but didn't have time. So it was the night before I had to be outta there since semester's over. and That's a funeral procession next to us? I'd wondered why so many cars were going so slowly with their emergency lights on. Marcus had something going every one of the two nights we could have met to make a quiche lasagna, but (this is a sign of what a friend he is) he dropped off some noodles and spaghetti sauce. All he had in the house was manicotti, and we'd figured we could slit them open, lay them flat, and if that didn't leave us close enough to lasagna noodles, it'd be good enough anyway. And I'd like to pause for a second to teach everyone a Very Important Life Lesson: When a friend stops by to drop off ingredients for a dinner even though he'll be unable to stick around to make or eat it, that's a really good friend.
I was exhausted from packing things and shoving them into the van, and had I not been starving from, well, packing things and shoving them into the van I'd probably have skipped over the whole thing and figured I'd eat when I got done. One of the nice things about driving through the sticks is that there's no one in front of you slowing down to gawk at someone pulled over on the roadside. We didn't change speed at all. When I move, I usually pack at nearly the last minute and do all the hauling in and out of the vehicle in the middle of the night because the sun is evil and wants to burn me. Also, if I'm going to do all that driving I'll wait until the roads are dead for the night.
But I had a whole day left and nothing to eat besides a quiche, some spaghetti sauce, and some chicken in the freezer. Since I'd been schlepping all night, I wasn't up to boiling noodles, layering stuff in a pan, and all that.
I couldn't even be bothered to get out a plate to defrost the chicken on.
I didn't even have the patience to cut it up for cooking; I just pulverized it and called it done.

But look at it! That's chicken spaghetti! If it holds its shape, it'd make the best chicken noodle soup ever!

Behold the massive pot of chicken yarn! When I was exhausted from packing and hauling, this was making me laugh a lot.

 Unfortunately, as soon as I started stirring it, it stopped being chicken spaghetti and turned into plain ground chicken. Two people are using regular suburban lawnmowers on a pasture. Hope they have all day.
Time to shove it all in a pan and hope it works! I tipped the quiche out of the container I'd stuffed it into.
And doesn't it lovely?
I'd kinda decided to make a layered thing- kinda like I was making a lasagna without the noodles. Also, I'm not doing any repeated layers because it's 2AM, I just hauled a vanload of stuff to my parents', and I've got another one to do when I'm done- and then I've got to have at the room and bathroom(!) with vacuums, bleach, and who knows what else. Just passed a mother and daughter on a hot pink four-wheeler. If it didn't make my day, it at least made the next couple of hours. 
So, first we smoosh the quiche onto the bottom of this. I figured that way the spaghetti sauce will soak down into it as it cooks.
Second, we sprinkle the chicken on it.
 Third, spaghetti sauce!
You can see I decided to poke it all over with the wooden spoon so the sauce'd really get in there.
Finally, Marcus left another round of queso fresco in the fridge when he moved out. I realize one doesn't generally put it on top of a quasi-lasagna-thing, but I don't care.

So now, I get to put it in the oven and putz around the kitchen, secretly pleased that one simply doesn't leave supper unattended to pack.
It ain't out of order enough to stop me.
Yeah, the handle fell off on one side so the glass fell out. I'm really bummed about this oven going out- I made the first thing in it when it was installed (it replaced a ceramic-topped one after someone cracked the burners). It was a batch of Nutella brownies. It seemed oddly symbolic it should fall apart as I was moving out-- then again, maybe it was just rotten luck as my engine started misfiring the same day.
We're getting closer to the city now- there's less farmhouses with stables and other outbuildings and more fancy houses with no signs of any crops or livestock on the property. If I was spending that much on a place in the country I'd set it somewhere besides right on the Interstate, but maybe they want all the drivers-by to behold how much money they threw at their house. 
It was really runny. I left it in for an extra half hour after the top was really melted before giving up.
Reeeeeally runny.
But you know what? There's a lot of semi-trucks from Ontario for some reason. I was really hungry, and this isn't the first time I've dealt with runny suppers.

And here it is on a plate after I sopped up what dribbled out after I served it.
Someone's driving their car while sitting Indian-style in the seat.
I've usually just had supper standing in the kitchen, but as this was my last one to make in the dorm, I decided to set up at a table like a civilized person. Some car with California plates is abandoned in a ditch. In Texas.
Well, it looks ugly, but it was really tasty. It had kind of firmed up by the time I got seconds so it looked kind of layered:

And by that afternoon it had really set nicely. Also, someone left out paper plates so I didn't have to wash mine!
This photo's kinda momentous- it's the last thing I ate in the building I've lived for the past 3 years. 15 minutes later I was signed out.

Just passed some place called Hunt County Guns Ammo and Tattoos.

Am I into juicing now or making quiche?

Today's post marks a big change for A Book of Cookrye: I'm now kitchenless! Having moved out of the dorm and being temporarily decamped at my parents', I now have no kitchen of my own. This throws me off more than not having my own (half of a) room. So, we present taking what was sitting there in the fridge, turning it into an attempt at supper, and then (in part 2) reworking it until you've actually got something tasty! Also, I'm writing this on a bus making its way from Tennessee, so if I see anything interesting, I'll make a note.
Anyway, so it was 3 days before move-out, we had lots of cheese left over from tacos and spaghetti, and I had thought I'd spend the 80¢ each on 2 bricks of frozen spinach to make spinach squares. But midway home I decided I really wanted a spinach quiche, so that's what I tried to make. Marcus had a big bag of cilantro, so we added that too.
The garlic looks so cute nestled in the cilantro leaves.
I've observed this thing called "juicing" which seems to involve making what would have been a decent salad and shoving it into a blender, possibly with some of that protein powder stuff that apparently no one can do workouts without. It kinda looks like this: Some truck driver we passed was holding and petting a little lapdog as he drove and it was so cute!
If I wasn't making quiche, I'd claim the eggs were for the protein.

That blender's been just sitting under the counter with no one's name on it all semester.
It unfortunately lacked a lid.

What really amused me was when someone was describing his extensive regimen of supplements and said he could not do without whey protein, he got really pissed off when I asked "Isn't whey that runny stuff left over from cheesemaking?"
Successfully juiced. It had better get a lot closer to edible before I'm done.
Meanwhile, into the pot we dump the rest of the provolone from when we had spaghetti, the last of the queso fresco from the tacos Marcus made, and some milk because I vaguely remember the quiche recipe I made a year ago had you melting the cheese in a pot of milk.
 Did someone really name a gas station in cotton country The Boll Weevil? That's like naming an apartment complex The Bedbugs.
The queso fresco only half melted... it went kind of runny but it didn't dissolve like the provolone did. 
I dumped the hot cheese glop into my juiced vegetables and hoped more time being blenderized would cure it of cheese lumps.

Someone detached the trailer from a semi, parked it in front of a gas station, and converted it into a trucker's chapel.
Hmmm... I think it's missing something... could it be the unlabeled Worcestershire sauce that's been sitting abandoned for the past few months?

So I didn't feel like bothering to make a crust, so I cadged some of the sushi wrappers Marcus has (I've invited him to write a guest post about making cucumber sushi) to line the pot with. Someone wrote DON'T BUY THIS GUM IT TASTES LIKE RUBBER on the gas station's condom machine.
Yes, I'm baking this in a saucepan.

So now, we've taken our perfectly good greens and blenderized them with eggs, milk, and cheese. Time to dump the resulting glop into the crust and hope it turns into a quiche!
The kid in the car next to us is chewing on a stick apparently yanked off a hedge. 
So it baked until it was definitely set, and Marcus and I went outside to let it cool.
Also, Marcus wanted to test out his newest bicycle.
And here it is baked!
Also, these are the first sandals I've liked wearing since 2003.
Y'know what? Why not go for an artsy shot since I'm standing right by the dreary office plants that someone potted right by the front door anyway?

 So now let's slice this thing, and... um.

Where'd all the excess water some from?

At least it didn't stick to the baking pot. Anyway, we tried it and this sucker was rich. Like, if it'd been in little bite-size crusts, it'd have been really good. Or maybe I just like baby quiches a lot. It started when I was visiting my cousin who pulled out a massive trash bag of them from the freezer, saying "Dad got these leftover from something at work, want some?" Someone took one of those old satellite dishes from when they were some 8 feet across and put it on a pole in their yard instead of a shade umbrella.
Anyway, the flavors went together really well, but after one spoonful you felt like you'd definitely had enough. Fortunately, Marcus had made cucumber sushi (Hiya, Marcus, if you're reading this! Wanna take pictures and write about it next time? Hint hint.) So as Marcus and I were staring at this big pot of quiche thinking of what to do with it since we weren't going to be eating it. Eventually, he tasted it again, and said "You know, it's kind of like the cheese layer in lasagna." So we decided that the next time we both had the night open we'd make lasagna, smearing this over the noodles instead of ricotta. And how did that go? Stay tuned...