Friday, January 30, 2015

Marzipan-Filled Brownies because why not?

N. B. If you want to win a cookbook handmade by me, be sure to enter the recipe contest!

You know how when you're looking for one thing, you find five other things you forgot you had?

According to the top of the box, they shipped almonds from California to Denmark to make this, and then shipped the whole thing back across the Atlantic. Does anyone else think that seems a bit excessive?

While one might have just eaten the marzipan right out of the box (don't judge me), we decided to put this to higher use: put it in the middle of an already-delicious brownie recipe.

Marzipan-Filled Brownies
½ c butter (or margarine)
1 c sugar
1 egg
1 c flour
¼ c cocoa powder
1 (7-oz) box marzipan

Heat oven to 350°. Grease a square or round pan.
Melt the butter. Stir in the sugar. Add the egg and beat thoroughly. Add the cocoa powder, beating out any lumps. Finally, stir in the flour just until mixed.
Roll the marzipan out to the size of the pan.
Spread a little less than half the batter into the pan (I find it easiest to pat it out with my hands). Since it's a bit trickier to spread it on top of the marzipan, you'll want a little more batter to make it easier.
Lay the marzipan on top of the batter. Trim away any that goes up the sides of the pan, and use the pieces to patch any places where it doesn't quite reach the edge. Don't bother trying to press any patches onto the rest of the marzipan- just lay them on top of the batter and they'll be fine.
Spread the rest of the batter over the marzipan, taking care not to press down to hard lest you squish out the batter from underneath.
 Bake 13-20 minutes*. A knife, toothpick, spoon handle, or whatever you're using should come out of the center with no liquid batter on it. If little clumps of brownie cling to it but there's nothing runny on it, they're done even though it didn't come out clean.

*That's the time in the original recipe, though for some reason these took 40 minutes.

My marzipan opener was upstairs.

In case anyone else finds beige almond sausage entertaining, behold!

We at A Book of Cookrye would like to think these are somewhat healthy. They contain almonds which keep popping up in health-food articles as being the latest greatest thing ever. Since chocolate prevents rusting (or whatever the hell an antioxidant is supposed to do) and almonds seem to get declared "superfoods" by at least a few bobbleheads, these brownies will be so good for you that even people who eat like this would approve.
I refuse to believe she really eats like that. Her hair's not falling out.

I do like how these are simultaneously fancy but also really quick to put together. Plus, once they're in the oven, you can eat marzipan scraps and brownie batter.

When they're hot, you can't tell they have marzipan in them. You can tell there's almond something in there, but you may as well have just dumped almond extract into the batter (which is good, but controversial among people who have set brownie expectations). But when they cooled down, you could tell they were layered and it was really good.
Contrary to photographic evidence, these came out really pretty. The out-of-focus one floating on the void of a styrofoam plate doesn't do them justice.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Announcing a special Book of Cookrye giveaway!

This Christmas, I made little homemade recipe books for everyone, and I still have the test copy with me. I've been wondering what to do with it now that I have given them all away. I couldn't bring myself to throw it out. So, this could be yours!

You may be thinking "Whyever would I want that cookbook? Most of the recipes are already on this site which I am looking at right now!" And you have a valid point (although there are a few recipes not up here). But if you find having printed books so much more satisfying, here y'are!

Hand-bound with the finest kite string and covered in the best wood from a theater department's scrap heap with a lovely flower design from a piece of 1925 sheet music on the front (plus a random arc which is meant to be there and not at all due to mis-positioning the book when I first tried to burn the flower on), this book has recipes for all these lovely things!

In addition, it has three photographs taken by me, two of which from when I was attempting to be a serious photographer! There's the bird stamped on the bottom of a bottle when you open the cover, and two people I met in New Orleans on the inside. Plus one I texted to my sister to show her I'm using the rolling pin she gave me. (See? Drinkware, people eating, making food. It's all quite thematic.)
Why yes, I did use the flower between recipes. I like the flower a lot.

You may be wondering how to get this book. Well, as previously mentioned, I have a lot of frozen bananas and need to find something to do with them. Send in a banana recipe! It can be one you've had around that you really like, or it can be one in a cookbook of yours that looks absolutely awful in an entertainingly frightening way which you've always wondered how it would come out. We welcome non-banana recipes as well if there's one you'd like to send in. You can email it to or leave it in the comments. Please stick to the following:

*Please send in a recipe you already have. If I want recipes that turn up from an online search, I can find them. I want something that's not easily available online.

*Keep the ingredients list cheap.

*Please be in the continental United States or help out with shipping. Once you go beyond that, shipping gets pricey. Although if you're willing to help out with shipping charges, I can send it anywhere in the world.

*Send in recipes by February 28, 2015.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Whatever the heck a Radio Pudding is, it's university-approved

Looking back over what we have made so far, we at A Book of Cookrye have made a lot of ill-advised food. Clearly, we need guidance from those who know better so we can avoid culinary regret. Perhaps the wise people at a university might be able to help us?
I feel reassured already. source

You know these people are smart because they put an integral to solve on the cover. However, they failed to say what we're integrating "better made" with respect to. I'm pretty sure "is" is a constant since it's to the left of the integral sign. But this is the agriculture department, so let's see if they are any better at writing recipes than writing math problems.
Source: Things your Grandmother Knew

Why is this called "radio pudding"? Does it end up kind of looking like a 1930s radio? Maybe it comes out looking kind of woodgrain-ish? Maybe I'm supposed to serve this at a radio party (it was the Depression- being able to afford a radio would certainly merit having a party). Well, let's get down to butter.
This recipe seems better-made already.

It occurred to me that this is pretty much cookie dough without the flour in it. Tasty, tasty raw cookie dough.
Not photographed: me eating an ungodly amount of this.

Also, did you know how cohesive drained crushed pineapple is? This is the cup after a couple of thwacks:
Note the Mexican bakery leftovers. We were all very happy.

The University of Wisconsin agricultural department thinks we should construct a layered pudding thing out of graham cracker crumbs, and this. It might have looked better had I not omitted the nuts, but they'd have gone soggy and sad overnight.
It's an educational experience.

I can't say I'm surprised this comes from Wisconsin- y'know, all the dairy production. But I find limiting it to just butter rather odd. But hey, I'm not from the University of Wisconsin agricultural department.
Also, who was this meant for? You rarely see promotional books aimed at the general public headed with "Special Circular." That makes it sound like the latest inane policy memo to go around the office.
Layers, done.

Presumably, the pineapple juice is there to make the sugar dissolve so it's not grainy when you eat it. And the cracker crumbs are to sop up all the excess liquid. I don't know whether this block of canned fruit-butter will  be any good, but it looks like those university people knew how to make it successful. It may not be any good, but it will at least be successful.
Pictured: Success in the making!

And so, the loaf pan (what those university-educated people said I should use) of radio pudding went into the refrigerator to think about what it had done.
This is my loaf pan.

The next day, it looked soggy. I have no idea why no one rooting through the fridge wanted to steal any in the night. Also, this pan weighed a lot for how much was in there.
I kept trying to decide if there's anything good for you in this. The pineapple might count, but I think everything else cancels it out.
Remember, this is university-approved!

As one might expect from what is essentially a pan of hardened butter, it sliced neatly and lifted out in one solid, well-congealed piece.

You can kind of see the layers.  And as you can see, it really did lift out in one solid piece.

However, once you made it fall apart, it was a mess of pineapple shreds and butter grubs.

As for how it was? Well, it was in fact insanely good. However, especially with the sugar-soaked graham crackers in there, it seemed like it wanted to be a cheesecake-like thing. But... seriously... it's a solid block of butter and sugar. I just can't with this one. However, I may try it again with cream cheese instead.
However, I did take the rest of the pot out and offer it to everyone downstairs because I couldn't bring myself to waste it. The first person to try some got this look on his face like he'd seen God and took the whole thing to his room. It really is that good.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Attempted Banana Brownies

We at A Book of Cookrye are about to start a new series! For a while it seems people have been giving us their kinda-squishy-but-still-good-for-cooking bananas. We've stuffed them into the freezer thinking we'll make something later. One day we realized how many bananas we have.

We decided it was time to....
wait for it....
Go bananas over bananas! (Don't judge me for that.) If you have any banana recipes you would like to see perpetrated, feel free to send them. If it's cheap enough and also looks either tasty or terrible yet entertaining, it just might get perpetrated.
Today, we've decided we would like to have banana brownies. The easiest way to compass this was to simply add bananas to a brownie recipe we like and take out the chocolate.

Banana Brownies
½ c butter (or margarine)
2 ripe bananas
1 c sugar
1 egg
Lemon extract
1 c flour

Heat oven to 350°. Grease a round or square pan.
Melt the butter in a large bowl or in a saucepan. Put in the bananas and with an electric mixer beat until mashed and well-combined. Beat in the sugar. When mixed, add the egg and lemon extract. Finally, beat in the flour in one addition on low speed, just until mixed.
Spread into the pan (I find it easiest to press it out with my hands). Bake 13-20 minutes. A knife, toothpick, spoon handle, or whatever you're using should come out of the center with no liquid batter on it. If little clumps of brownie cling to it but there's nothing runny on it, they're done even though it didn't come out clean. If the top is sticky or pale, broil it until it's a nice brown.

Overripe bananas do look troubling when unwrapped, don't they? They traumatized my friend from India when he saw me put them into a pie (which in retrospect would have looked just fine had I covered it with whipped cream).
This almost looks obscene.

Fortunately, in short order the mixer made the bananas quite unrecognizable.
If only we could pulverize away all the things we don't want to look at.

I was super excited. I have a lot of reading to do, and the batter tasted like a really good batch of banana bread and had the same consistency as the brownie batter from which these are based. Therefore, they may come out like brownies! Only, y'know, bananas.
Yes indeed, we are baking in a saucepan.

Oddly enough, the top of these was raw despite the rest of them being done through. I was most confused. However, since brownies have a top layer that separates off the rest and comes out different, it appeared we had indeed made brownies and not just banana bread.
Also, the top was oddly spongy.

Besides, a little time under the broiler fixed the stickiness.

Oddly, despite looking like they were going to be dense and brownie-like, they were in fact a cake and a fairly light and delicate one at that. A thin layer of icing would have made them perfect, but I am too lazy to bother with such things in the middle of the night with impending studies. Besides, as it was, look at all of the dishes I had to wash:
Yet another reason I may well make these again.

And so, for our first round of going bananas over bananas, we didn't get what we wanted but we're really happy with what we got. Also, lemon extract in banana bread is amazing and delicious and you should add it.
Best 3AM study sustenance ever!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Limoncello, or Patience is a Virgin (who waits for alcohol)

Happy Friday from all of us at A Book of Cookrye! Today we're going to Mike's kitchen to start something that will take a month. You see, Mike (who has been here twice previously) went to Italy over the summer to visit his relatives. Naturally, having had the privilege of having Italian food made by Italians and liking to cook himself, he brought home a lot of really good recipes. Or so he's claimed- I haven't seen any of them. However, what stood out to him the most out of his entire visit was alcohol. Therefore, the first thing we're making (well, starting) is limoncello. He has really fond memories of the stuff, so much so that he bought all these lemons to peel. I've never had any, but he's just so excited about it.
He actually did most of the peeling himself before I got to his domicile.

Here I must unpin my hat so I may remove it to Mike. I have made little secret of my store-brand and clearance-bin buying ways. However, Mike has outdone me in that field by finding store-brand vodka.
Since you're doubtlessly wondering, it doesn't sting like the cheap stuff but you wouldn't feel guilty mixing it with things.

The lemon peels are to be soaked in vodka for a whole month in a cool, dark, place. If they didn't apparently have the same problem with sunlight that I do, I'd have left them out on the table as a decoration.

However, like me, the sun is evil and does them no favors. Therefore, they went into the closet. Meanwhile, Mike and I feasted on the last of my brother's wedding cake from last April. By which I mean the last of it that we didn't see in the freezer when we sent the massive leftover hunks of it to his apartment.

frozen leftover wedding cake
It looked better the day of.

The limoncello-to-be is in the closet, and we'll see what happens in a month or so!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hump-Day Quickie: Far-Out Green Smoothies, or Now we pay for Christmas leftovers

We at A Book of Cookrye are now facing the consequences of Christmas. We suffer not from the shameless face-stuffing on Christmas Day, but from the weeks of delicious, delicious leftovers. Anyway, we're going to attempt to reverse what we did to ourselves and--- oh, who am I kidding. Every time I think of sticking to a diet I get existential depression at the thought of a long life without cake.
However, this slice of vintage diet recipes seemed really tasty in its own strange way. Besides, this is the recipe with the shortest instructions I think I'll ever put up.

Far-Out Green Smoothies
4 large lettuce leaves
1 peeled orange
2 parsley sprigs
2 packets artificial sweetener
Crushed ice

Put in blender. Add water if it's too thick to blend.

This doesn't look so bad, actually.

I do want to credit my parents, who upon my leaving home at the end of break said I could help myself to whatever foodstuffs I wanted. Short of "I deposited it in the bank today" or "the package should be there in a day or so," is there anything more gratitude-inducing to one's ears than "help yourself to the food"? At any rate, that is where everything in today's recipe aside from the parsley comes from.
Speaking of, I've never eaten parsley before ever. It's always been the thing on the side of the plate that everyone knows you're not suppose to eat lest you expose yourself as uncultured and severely déclassé. Upon biting off a leaf, it's surprisingly pungent and seems to do as much good for one's breath as mint. The next time someone tells you not to eat the parsley sprig on a plate, especially after the garlicky spaghetti with extra garlic, ignore them. You may be a philistine, but unlike the highly high-minded naysayers, you're more likely to snog someone later.

This seems to be the makings of a perfectly good salad. Therefore, like anyone dizzy from dieting, we're going to put our salad in the blender someone left in the kitchen and drink it. I've often wondered what the appeal of putting salads in a blender might be. A lot of people I know do it and call it "juicing." The best answer I've come up with is it disguises when your vegetables are wilted and sad yet not expired enough to throw them out. I myself saved the inner leaves that hadn't gone droopy for salads and used the ones that were kinda brown at the edges for this.
I can see how it'd be convenient to have your salad in a glass which you can have on the go. However, any time-saving anything hinges on being able to leave your dishes later. Communal kitchens being what they are, I do not have the luxury of saying I'd wash up later tonight as I ran out the door. At any rate, this was too thick to blend without stopping every five or six seconds to stir it. It likely would work better in a food processor, but we are restricted to what appliances have been abandoned in the kitchen.

Slight aside: now that I think about it, I have no idea why the dorm is provided an ice machine. A lot of us are grateful, but I don't know of any other school that puts one in each dorm, for free.

Thick enough to hold up a spoon.

Honestly, the Far-Out Green Smoothie wasn't just mildly tolerable, it was really good. I'd deliberately make it again. The parsley definitely added a slight pungency that made it a lot better. Since fresh parsley is surprisingly cheap, it's totally worth adding.
However, in full disclosure, the original recipe says it's supposed to be 2 servings. But let's be realistic here- that essentially means making a meal of two lettuce leaves and half an orange. I think the recipe writers thought the same. Given that this would become a sad runny mess if you try to save the other serving for later, if you were really only supposed to have one serving at a time they would have listed the ingredients at half quantity.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Cheese Pudding, or A Book of Cookrye does vegetables!

You know what? It is fricken cold here! It is so cold no one looks at you funny when you go out in a headscarf! We at A Book of Cookrye flipped through the recipes we've been meaning to try and looked for one that seemed good for when you'll cut two holes in your shirt if you stay outside too long. In a sport of health-consciousness, we decided to make... vegetables! Behold!

These are Southern vegetables.

What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking, 1881 Source

See? It says this is a vegetable. So there.

Cheese Pudding
2 large apples or 3 smaller ones*
8 oz shredded mild Cheddar cheese
1 c milk
1 tbsp sugar
Generous amount of nutmeg
3 eggs

Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 9x13 pan.
Very finely chop the apples (or put them through a cheese shredder or meat grinder). Mix the apples, cheese, milk, sugar, and nutmeg. Whip the eggs and then mix them in.
Pour into the pan and bake 20 minutes.

*I like to bake with Gala apples.

This comes to us from What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking, which is the second cookbook ever written by a black person in the United States. Those who are interested in social or culinary history would find Abby Fisher's biography fascinating. The short version is she was born a slave, and after emancipation moved to various states before settling in San Francisco. Her cooking won prizes, and eventually she wrote this short book by popular demand.
I say wrote-- she actually dictated it since, as she says in the introduction, both she and her husband were illiterate. Most of these recipes have exact measurements. I can't even make a cake without having to check a written list; she apparently remembered them all since she couldn't have written anything down.   Can you imagine dictating a whole book and knowing that even though you cannot read it to make sure it says what you meant it to, your name is right there in the title? I mean, someone could have typeset a massive rant with embarrassing secrets and you couldn't even flip through the proofs and see it.
Anyway, getting to the recipe. We at A Book of Cookrye are not alien to the notion of a fruit and cheese course. Nor are we averse to apple pie with cheese on top. So, in principle, this sounded like it might be good. However, in what world is this a vegetable?
No one was going to eat these apples anyway.

That aside, we are heading into the last week of our visit to our parents', which means we soon will no longer have such a fancy kitchen. We invited Marcus to partake in this bounty of suburbia. However, despite being in better kitchen facilities than we are accustomed to, we encountered two difficulties to using the space.
There's a whole rest of the house they could have been in.

All the cheese we had was in slices, so instead of shredding it, we ended up--- further comments may lead to déclassé remarks.

We would like to remind everyone that the recipe says this is a vegetable. Let's just put gravy in a teapot and surrender to every Southern food joke we haven't hit yet.
Later attempts to pass ketchup and pizza as vegetables now make cultural sense.

In a spurt of spontaneous ingredient upgrading that only happens at my parents' house, we're using turbinado sugar instead of regular. We thought it might add a nice... er... something or other. Unfortunately, we tried to dissolve it in the milk.

So, you may be wondering, what do vegetables look like in Southern cooking? They look like someone ate them before they got to your plate. Actually, they look like what happened when we had a school field trip wilderness weekend. They had a separate trash can for unwanted food because they kept pigs. This looks a lot like said trash can did by the weekend's end.

However, at this point I was simultaneously grossed out at what I had in the bowl and appreciative of modern technology. For we finally got around to beating four eggs (well, we used three since they're bigger these days) very light. Keep in mind that the little egg beaters you crank had barely been patented 10 years ago, so whoever was doing this was spending 90 minutes or so with a whisk getting metal-blackened hands while turning their eggs into froth. For those who like finding people's initial reaction to conveniences we now take for granted, check out this lady's account of the first time she got an egg beater and experienced "the amelioration of weary-wristed womankind."
Meanwhile, I'm very thankful to whoever decided to strap a motor to the egg beater.

Fortunately, this was a short recipe. But before we stirred the eggs in, it looked like egg nog's unfortunate offspring with a birth defect.

Going into the pan, it looked like someone threw up egg nog's unfortunate offspring with a birth defect.

Anyway, this baked in 20 minutes as promised. By which I mean I had no idea how to tell whether it was done so I took it out of the oven after 20 minutes and hoped for the best.
This was the best I could hope for.


I fricken loved it! The apples got a lot sweeter than I'd thought they would in baking, to the point where I wondered why I bother adding sugar to apple pie. It was... well, it was apple pie with cheese on top, only a lot more so. But enough about me- Marcus drove all the way over here for this experience. What did he think?


"It's so weird!"

And just to round out the pictures of everyone who tried it:

Whereas I completely loved it and would make it again if it wasn't so unapologetically bad for you, Marcus was confused. Apparently it's two really good things, but he has no idea what to make of them put together. Perhaps after having such creations as mincemeat pies with actual kidneys, date-raisin chicken, and others, I'm used to food not knowing if it's supper or dessert. Marcus, however, still has his wits about him enough to know that this is not a vegetable. We agreed it would probably be better in a pie.  That said, both of us scraped our plates.
This is really satisfying when it's fricken cold out, and I think it would be well-placed on most Thanksgiving tables (which is why I waited a couple of months afterward to make it). However, the recipe makes a lot of cheese pudding. You might want to cut it in half.