Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wheat waffles, or Do you ever make anything from new cookbooks?

Recently, Kelly (who has voluntarily tasted the "chicken" "pie" and ginger "bread")  asked me do I ever make anything out of modern cookbooks? I answered "Well, I did get a 1998 book from the library called A Taste of Ancient Rome." But I actually do use modern recipes- heck, the first one I ever wrote about was from a Facebook post- they just don't seem as entertaining. But, just to show that every now and then I do use recipes from less than 20 years ago, here is one from a cookbook that came out this year!

The Best Whole Wheat Waffles Ever
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1-1¼ cups milk
1 egg
¼ cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1. Preheat waffle iron.
2. Combine all dry ingredients and mix well.
3. Add milk, egg, oil and vanilla, and mix well to combine. Add enough liquid so that batter makes a small mound or ribbon temporarily before returning to level.
4. If you're adding in additional fruit (blueberries, bananas, apples and so on), do it now, and gently stir.
5. Right before pouring batter onto waffle iron, add vinegar and mix quickly. Make waffles as per the instructions for your specific waffle maker.
6. Place on a cooling rack immediately after removing from waffle iron.
7. If you plan to freeze and reheat, wrap each waffle individually, and reheat in your toaster on a medium setting.
Makes 3 to 4 8-inch Belgian waffles.

Options: For blueberry waffles, add 1/2 cup fresh or frozen (and thawed) blueberries.
For banana waffles, add 1 mashed banana and mix it in immediately prior to adding vinegar.

Tom Woodbury, Eat fresh: Quick and Easy Meals via this article

Why am I making these? Well, I wanted waffles but also wanted to think that despite using them as overloaded syrup vehicles, there was at least something healthy about them.
That's a lot of dry ingredients, isn't it?

The only change was using powdered milk because, well, funds. This may have been why despite staying at bottom end of the 1-1¼ cups range when adding water, it was really runny.

However, it's easy enough to just dump in more flour. Besides, he put in a note of what the batter should look like just in case of things like this.

So, by his line of reasoning, adding a spoon of vinegar right before you cook them will make an elementary-school volcano of the batter, therefore despite being whole-wheat the waffles won't be dense.
It made my waffle iron runneth over.

It looks like this works! I was kind of bummed the vinegar didn't leave behind just a little cider taste, though.

And so, in conclusion, yes I do make recipes from living memory. Also, these waffles are tasty.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Second-Stab Saturday: Put Apples on the Primordial Ginger Paste

We at A Book of Cookrye are pleased to announce our newest feature: Second-Stab Saturdays! This is when we go back and have a second go at something that was disappointing but seemed like it was only a few revisions away from being really good. Or, like today, taking the leftovers from a disastrous culinary perpetration and seeing if they can't somehow be repurposed into something good. Like our other weekday-themed feature, this will be occasional and subject to no set schedule (other than always being on a Saturday).
The name will occasionally be literal.

For our first Second-Stab Saturday, we will be revisiting the first (and to date only) reader-submitted recipe I ever got! Coincidentally, it's also the first reader-submitted recipe to make me want to seriously reconsider whether I want to do reader recipes.
Primordial Gingerbread Apple Crisp
250 g (≈¾ c) honey
250g (≈9 oz) rye breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
3-4 apples (I used Gala)
4 tbsp. butter
¾ c. brown sugar (either will work, I prefer dark)
Cinnamon to taste
2 tbsp. butter
¼ c. brown sugar
Flour (whole-wheat adds a nice flavor)

For the crust, warm the honey just until it boils. Meanwhile, stir together the breadcrumbs and spices. When the honey boils, remove from heat and stir in the breadcrumbs. Spray a deep 9" or 10" round or square pan well. It needs plenty of room for the filling to boil up lest it spill over and produce a smoke bomb on the oven floor. When cool enough to handle, press the crust onto the bottom of it, not the sides. Set aside.
For the filling, cut up the apples, leaving the skin on. Melt together the butter and brown sugar. Take off heat and stir in the cinnamon. Add the apples and stir to coat.
For the topping, cream the butter and sugar. Add enough flour to make it crumbly.
Put the apples in the crust and pour any syrup that remains over them. Sprinkle the topping over all. Bake at 350° until the apples are fork-tender, about 45-60 minutes.

*crust adapted from Source
You can add nuts, oatmeal or whatever you like to this.

You see, as... interesting as the primordial gingerbread was, I couldn't bring myself to waste nearly a whole pan it. Sure, people thought it was a pan of beef jerky. Yes, if you had more than one bite you felt like you'd swallowed a bag of concrete mix which then set inside your stomach.
Sure, it had the flexibility of shoe leather.
But I just couldn't bring myself to actually throw it out. For some reason, it grew on me. As I tasted the conflicting flavors of rye, honey, and spice cake, for some reason I thought it would be perfect underneath a lovely apple pie. It was 6AM and I was extremely tired and therefore more likely to entertain such daft thoughts. I imagined the flavor of apples and tons of brown sugar permeating the ginger-jerky, tempering the rye, harmonizing with the honey...
I also imagined stabbing it for embarrassing me in front of my friends. Then I trimmed it to fit the pan.

Butterscotch in a pot. Divoon.

And hey, if throwing more ingredients and time at something can produce tasty things out of orange peels, why not see if it works on gingerpaste?
The pot was too small to mix in the apples. Fortunately, someone left their rice cooker downstairs (yes, I washed and dried it).

If you take away the Tudor "gingerbread", this is my apple pie recipe. So if nothing else, having made this before, I knew everything above the bottom crust would be good. The only difference is I threw together a crumb topping of flour, butter, and brown sugar. Usually, when I make a pie crust, I take up the little scraps and pebbles that remain off the counter, rub in some sugar and whatever spices, and use that on top.
Yes, I baked it in a saucepan. I had nothing else.

Crumbs are the salvation of those who don't feel like rolling out a pie crust.

It came out bubbling away, meaning that hopefully the syrup had permeated the crust beneath.

However, this thing did not want to slice. I had to bring in the Iron Spoon of Flirtation to cut through it.
On the bright side, it lifted out of the pan nicely once one managed to cut it.

Eventually, I got a piece on a plate. The harmless vegetable dye in the crust made it look like I'd put apples atop a slab of raw beef. Hmm... you know how these days it seems people who are seriously stuck-up about food want their beef as uncooked as possible?
I think I have an idea to serve to those who put snobbery before taste.

But you know what? This worked. Somehow, it all added up. I don't mean the apple pie covered up all the taste of the ginger "bread" under it; somehow it was the last thing that somehow made everything else come together. Also, the boiling softened out all the gritty breadcrumbs.
I even took it to work and people ate it all.
So, you know what? I'm going to go out and say this is totally worth trying! Just... don't put red food coloring in the crust. And make it at most half the thickness that the gingerpaste was for this (hence cutting the crust amounts in half for the recipe).

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tudor Gingerbread: or, Friends inexplicably let friends make things like this

Today, on A Book of Cookrye, we present a first: A recipe sent in by someone else! This message came from a friend about a month ago:

500 g (≈1½ c) clear honey
500g (≈18 oz) fresh breadcrumbs (at the time it was likely to be from spelt or rye sourdough bread)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Fresh box leaves and whole cloves, to decorate

Warm the honey until quite runny (commercial honey doesn't need to be skimmed). The Tudors loved brightly coloured foods, and would have used a natural dye to colour this treat. Pour into a large bowl and mix in the breadcrumbs and spices. It should be very stiff, if not add a more breadcrumbs.
Line a shallow rectangular cake tin with non-stick paper and press the mixture into it. If it is a little difficult to do this, then press down with your fingers dipped occasionally in cold water. Ensure the top is quite level, allow to firm up for an hour or two. Turn out onto a sheet of baking paper and cut into small squares. If you have any, decorate each square with two small box leaves and a clove.

There were only two difficulties: Being a backwards American, I had to convert those two Communist measurements to real ones before I could proceed. After that, it was all gravegravy. Not being one to do these experiments alone, I invited not one but 5 friends to taste this with me. Four of them were either senseless or generous enough to accept: Mike and Maria (who were there for the surprisingly tasty Portuguese Farts), and T and Kelly (who should have known better because they were here for the Pieathlon "Chicken" "Pie" adventure). I was really excited to have a medieval gingerbread party. Sometimes taste and intelligence take a holiday. Keeping in mind the recipe writer's suggestions, I bought a loaf of rye bread and proceeded to use the special bulk toaster to make it ready to utterly destroy.
On the bright side, the grocery had a loaf of bread exactly the size I needed on sale!

I feel kind of bad about this.

Although something did occur to me as I was pulverizing what should have been the foundation of so many delicious Reuben sandwiches. You know how some cookbooks are based on either absurd or oddly specific premises? (see Natural Harvest which is not about the joys of organic foods) I totally ought to write one called 100 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With a Meat Grinder.

#48: turn bread into sandcastles!

But moving on to this recipe. I had some misgivings about it, the main one being that you're serving your guests semihardened paste. I had no idea whether rye bread would be any good, but I thought that perhaps it might somehow in a very strange way all add up with the spices and honey. If the chocolate-tomato soup cake can be so inexplicably amazing, why not rye bread and honey?
I froze the ginger because when you do, you can skip out on mincing it up. All you need to do is take your frozen ginger piece and use a fine cheese shredder; you don't even need to peel it. Then I remembered I do not have a cheese shredder and can't borrow one. Fortunately, someone left their blender out so I pulverized the ginger in the honey.

At this point I was slightly unnerved at how this was going. I got, as promised, a stiff mixture. It just didn't smell very good.

Because it was a sad brown color as well as smelling like disappointment waiting to happen, I decided to fix its appearance with a splash of food coloring. After all, the recipe did say it'd have been dyed, right?
Great. Now it looks like ground beef.

After it cooled, pinched off a piece to see if somehow it had turned into something tasty. As the taste sank in, I realized I had five friends coming over in two hours and I had to serve something to justify their driving all the way out for this. Thus, I ended up biking to the grocery store and hastily grabbing all the ingredients I lacked to make something involving chocolate chips.

So, when everyone had arrived, I had a big pancookie and... er... this.
Maria volunteered to go first, tried one bite, looked really concerned, and politely put it down. Mike asked what went in this and didn't finish it either. Mike stared at his after tasting it and demanded to know what was in it. T finished hers and said "I am a good cousin, I ate my whole piece and you gave me one of the bigger ones. Now let me have some of that chocolate chip thing." Kelly also finished hers but held back an explicit opinion of this creation. The closest I got to a positive response was "Yep, you can tell there's ginger in it!"
Marcus arrived last. Since he has voluntarily tasted a lot of my more... interesting creations, he had the least restraint of everyone. He refused to try it until T pointed to the pan of chocolate chip deliciousness and said all he had to do was take one bite of the primordial gingerbread and then he could have a piece of it. (You know your cooking's bad when it's presented as an ordeal to pass through before receiving a greater reward hereafter.) He tried one bite, got bug-eyed, and confusedly shouted "It's gummy-bread!" He then ran for the kitchen sink. The next thing we heard was "Oh God, it looks even worse when you've chewed it!"

I asked everyone to text what they thought of this, and herewith follow the responses:
Maria: "It wasn't the best thing I've ever had."
Mike: "No hurt feelings?"
T: "I thought it was perfect for serving to people you never wanted to come over again."
And lastly, me: This was interesting in concept. I'd thought the rye bread would go well with the spicy ginger, but it didn't work. The food coloring did it no favors; it looked like a pan of raw beef. Also, the crumbs went really hard, so it was at once leathery, gummy, and gritty. If you ate more than one or two bites, you got a feeling in your stomach like you'd swallowed a bowling ball whole. I don't know whether this is faulty recipe translation or changing tastes, but you'd have to have smoked a lot of weed to want this.

Think it might not be so bad? This is how much was left after serving it to five people plus myself.

And so, in conclusion, I leave an open note to everyone who had at this thing with me: You are awesome friends. I hope you at thought it was fun to see each other and that this was an interesting adventure that was entertaining in its own unnerving way. Also, I hereby promise that the next I do something like this, it will be something delicious. It will not be one of the weird recipes like this, nor will it be scary like the time before this. Sincerely signed, &c.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Orange Balls are orange balls

Today on A Book of Cookrye, we present a recipe that is really hard to name with a straight face. Perhaps in 1948, you could ask people if they wanted balls and get away with it. These days, when you say you're making something called orange balls, you get... er... interesting reactions. So, for this post, it would be easy to make lots of balls jokes. We will take the more challenging route: attempting to say nothing that could be misconstrued at all.

Speaking of unrelated subjects, did you know a lot of SNL sketches are online?

Anyway, we decided to save the peels when we made the Skillet Chicken in Butter Orange Sauce, crack open The Art of Italian Cooking yet again, and make...
Orange Balls
I get the idea this recipe started when someone interrupted kitchen cleanup with "You're not going to throw those away, are you?"

Being on a really limited grocery budget, any recipe that makes use of what would have been kitchen refuse is enticing. Also, we got to use the meat grinder (twice)!
Didn't have mixed nuts, but Mom sent me home with some cashews.

However, we did end up cutting the recipe in half since we only used 3 oranges. Also, because we were going to throw it away anyway, we threw the various pith scraps and such that fell off as we were peeling the oranges into the water. After all, why throw out food scraps when you can throw even more ingredients at them and possibly end up throwing the whole mess away anyway?
Soaking the orange peels unfortunately bereaved me of a teacup for a day.

Having drained the orange peels, the soaking water was an odd shade of green. Stirring in about a spoonful of sugar produced something that tasted near-exactly like those really hoity-toity orange sodas in fancy bottles.
It might have vitamins in it.

Had we had a meat grinder about three years ago when we got bored, pilfered about two pounds of oranges from the cafeteria, and made marmalade, we'd have probably been done in about half the time we spent. (At least that time it kept. We made another batch in high school, refrigerated the jars instead of sealing them, and the power went out for two weeks the next day.)

Here, we must find fault in the recipe instructions. A small quantity dropped into cold water never formed a soft ball; it dissolved into little orange flecks.
It did, however, form a paste eventually which held its shape when mashed into the side of the pot.

Holding out for a moment when it would remain a cohesive mass when dropped into water, we stirred hopefully until it was evident the peels were drying up. We either would have orange balls anyway or we would have inadvertently made "artisan" cake sprinkles.
It did form a ball when mashed firmly in the hand.

However, we couldn't roll it in sugar and then in the nuts. The nuts wouldn't stick if we did. We ended up deliberately doing a lousy job of rolling them in sugar so there would be bare spots for the nuts to stick to.

As for the results, these are marmalade in finger-food form. Anyone who likes marmalade would really like them. They're not hypersweet, and they still have just enough of a bitter kick from the peels without being excessively so. The nuts on the outside went really well with the oranges- I'd thought it was just decorative and would have skipped that had I not already had nuts lying around.
It's still annoying that the recipe gave such a faulty doneness test, though. They're ready to take off the stove when they hold a shape when pressed into the side of the pot. Just forget about even bothering to try them in cold water.
In short, this recipe is a surprisingly good and cheap way to use the parts of the orange that usually go to the trash.

And so, in conclusion, I can't believe I got through this with all single-entendres. It got very difficult around "I had trouble getting the nuts to stick to my balls." Do try this recipe!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Happy Birthday, Marcus!

Guess whose birthday was a few days ago! (Don't say anything if you read the title.) Yes indeed, it's Marcus' birthday! And to celebrate not yet being so old he gets asked how many years young he is, we are making...

The Marvelous Peanut Butter and Jelly Roll Scroll
1 scant cup powdered sugar
3 eggs
½ generous cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
About 12 oz peanut butter
About ¼-½ cups jelly

Heat oven to 425°. Prepare a 10"x14"* pan by lining the bottom with parchment paper (it's all right if it comes up the sides) and spraying it thoroughly. Put the powdered sugar into a pan and bake it one shelf above the centre for six minutes until it is really piping hot. Whilst waiting for the sugar, break the eggs into a roomy bowl. Measure the flour, stir in the baking powder and salt in the measuring cup. Set aside.
When the powdered sugar is ready and scalding hot, shoot it onto the eggs and beat immediately on high speed. Continue until the mixture turns into a pale off-white foam whilst also doubling in bulk.
Shake the flour very lightly over the surface and take up a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. With it fold and turn your mixture with an occasional cutting movement with the soft rubber spatula until every scrap of flour has disappeared.
Turn the mixture into your prepared tin and spread it with the spatula even into the corners (it'll be very thin). Bake for 8-9 minutes, no longer.
While it's in the oven, put the peanut butter over medium-low heat and stir until it thins a little, but not quite until it's runny. Put the jelly into a bowl and stir it to break it up. Spread it around the bowl so it comes closer to room temperature.
Cool the cake and turn it out onto floured parchment paper§. Cut away the long edges if you want it the ends to look nice; the edges will probably crack when rolled if you don't. Pour the peanut butter out over it (try to get it all over rather than pouring it all in the center- it'll be easier to spread) and then spread it out. Drop spots of jelly all over the peanut butter and carefully spread them on top. Be sure both the peanut butter and the jelly get to the edges so that the end slices have filling as well as the middle.
Carefully roll the cake up. It won't crack, but you want to be careful not to squish the filling. Refrigerate until the peanut butter and jelly are firm again.

*Ours was actually 10"x15".
I didn't think an extra inch of pan length would make a difference, but it was already kinda crispy at the ends after 8 minutes.
Why not do two things at once and scatter powdered sugar out instead?
§Just turn it onto newspaper. We'd have baked it on newspaper except we were worried about ink bleed.

Adapted from Fanny Cradock by way of Source

Yes indeed, we're using one of Fanny Cradock's recipes. If you haven't heard of her, you should totally watch this (I've wanted to do reaction videos of people watching her specials for some time). This recipe seemed straightforward, though I have no idea why the heck I was supposed to preheat the powdered sugar.
One pot of sugar, ready to go into the oven.

And, proving that even the gods believe in birthday presents, I didn't burn Marcus' forearm with the edge of the pot when I dumped the powdered sugar onto the eggs as he ran the mixer.
As you can see, he was moving it all over the bowl rather quickly.

The whole time we were making this, we were thinking of when Cecilia Gimenez (that's the lady who "restored" that Jesus painting in Spain) made an "appearance" on Saturday Night Live to say that her painted vision of Jesus was exactly how he appeared to her in a dream. "And poor Jesus, Jesus have broken his arm and it was wrap up in a little jelly roll scroll there!"
My favorite restoration in the history of art.

"Eh... are you sure this is enough?"

We ended up with a really thin, oddly flexible cake which looked like when you served it, you'd beg for forgiveness and say it's not your fault, it's the first time you tried this, it's not that bad, is it? (As a special Book of Cookrye bonus, imagine you just heard all that through someone's bedroom door.) We put it in the freezer because patience does not happen when you're making a peanut butter and jelly roll.

And now... and now... this is it!
"Hang on, I want to get one of those food-porn shots!" -Marcus

Splot. Splot. Splot.

I don't know if this looks extremely wrong or extremely right.

I... oh God. I know I'll be sorry tomorrow.

We put it in the freezer to firm back up really fast, but after 3 minutes we gave in and decided the ends were probably good enough to slice even if the middle was still a little runny. Would you have had the patience if you knew this was waiting for you?

Since it's Marcus' birthday, he got to go first:

"This is so good."

On that tear-choked endorsement, I cut a slice a lot thicker than it should have been.
Were I still into titling photographs, this would be The Ecstasy In the Kitchen.
He told me to hold it because the camera froze up. It didn't matter; I was semiparalyzed because this was so good.
In case you doubt how delicious this was, here's how much was left after 30 minutes:
This was delicious enough to wrap Jesus' broken arm in.

Since a lot of the reason this was so good was that we used some prickly-pear/raspberry jelly Marcus' sister gave him, we wanted to take a photograph endorsing it in the style of those old kitchen ads where it looks like they put vibrators up those ladies' skirts to really make them smile about a new refrigerator. And so, to conclude, here is Marcus' interpretation of being in a in a photoshoot where they do just that.

Happy Birthday, Marcus!