Sunday, May 31, 2015

End-of-the-Semester Cake

This recipe was featured on Yum Goggle!

Mazel tov to us at A Book of Cookrye, for we have survived yet another slog of finals! Sometimes we amaze ourselves. This year was a particularly nasty finals round (see aforementioned theater tech-ing etc). We tried to prepare in advance by putting a massive vat of beans to soak overnight that we might cook them all at once and just have to microwave a plateload instead of cooking every night. However, we never had time to boil them, so they sat in the fridge waiting in their soaking water until finals week was over while we chased everyone who came within sight range carrying a pizza box.
To celebrate having staggered through all of our tests, we came home after the last one and fell straight into bed. Upon waking up in the middle of the night, we craved a lovely, creative sugar-bomb to make ourselves feel better. We also decided to use up this thing which turned up while cleaning out our room:
We got it after Christmas when all the fruitcake stuff went steeply on sale.

And for some reason we still have this:
We've used up most of the sherry, but it's been with us a long time.

Therefore, we decided to dump them into this and get...
Lemon-Sherry Cake
½ c butter
1 c sugar
2 eggs
¼ c sherry
1½ c flour
4 oz chopped candied lemon peel

Heat oven to 350°. Grease a layer cake pan.
Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating each in thoroughly. Stir in the sherry. Mix in the flour, then add the lemon peel.
Pour into the pan, spread it around, and bake until a knife in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

You would think that lemon peel would be yellow, but for some reason it turns brown. Like, if the lemon peel got any uglier you could shove it at children and tell them to shut up and eat because it's good for you.
Looks like candied kibbles, tastes like the cheap hard candy that very lame people give to trick-or-treaters.

We may have been a bit overvigorous adding the sherry. There were impact craters.

History lesson! In addition to beating the crap out of eggs, liquor was used to leaven desserts before baking powder was reliable. After all, a lot of early baking powders (and the things leading up to it like pearl ash) tended to not work or leave a nasty taste that required a lot of spices and such to cover up. Why do I say this? Because we're going to see how well spiking a cake to raise it works! I mean, generation upon generation of cooks can't be wrong, can they?
Why isn't the lemon peel the color of lemons?

Purely for the heck of it, I looked up 1234 cake recipes online to see how many people stick to the four ingredients it's named for. The answer? Nearly no one! Just about everyone adds milk or something else to make it thinner and some baking powder to make it actually rise. In other words, they're making it actually turn into a cake instead of a sort of cake-cookie thing. So, I guess by adding sherry (liquid and leavener all in one! It's magic!) we're finally modernizing the recipe.

It occurred to us as the top got well-done as the inside stayed runny that maybe we had the oven too hot. Perhaps this should have baked at 325° instead.

But never mind the top being overcooked. Finals are over and it actually came out like a cake! Look at it! It's light and fluffy and everything!
Even the newspaper endorses this cake.

Also, for some reason the pungency of the sherry and the unnerving taste of the lemon peels canceled each other out, leaving a lovely lemony cake. I'd like to say it tasted really old-fashioned given how many old cakes call for alcohol and candied fruits, but I've never made any of them before so I don't know if it does. Nevertheless: A+, would make again (except I have no more lemon peel tubs).

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Second-Stab (and Third-Thrust) Saturday: Chocolate is now involved

Today, we at A Book of Cookrye present another entry in our series on "finals suck and I want a cookie" cuisine!

It's hard to find a recipe that starts out looking like this and doesn't end up orgasmic.

1234 Brownies
½ c butter
1 c brown sugar*
2 eggs
1 c flour
½ c cocoa powder

Heat oven to 350°. Grease a layer pan.
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating each in thoroughly. Add cocoa powder and beat until completely mixed, then add flour.
Pour into the pan and bake until done, 15-20 minutes. A knife in the center should come up with no liquid batter in it, but not quite completely clean.

*White sugar will result in a chewy shortbread, brown sugar will result in brownies. If you use white sugar, test for doneness as you would any other cake.

Yes indeed, we are slightly altering the 1234 cake and making brownies!
This is a picture of life getting better.

By "slightly altering," we mean we're replacing some of the flour with cocoa powder and also (because we didn't realize we were out of white sugar), using brown sugar. It ends up looking like this.
Who knew a saucepan could be so versatile?

That was quick, and (much to my surprise) it's everything we ever wanted a brownie to be. Behold, for it is gooey inside!

Also, just for the sake of completeness, we at A Book of Cookrye made this again with white sugar instead of brown. We needed chocolate because because this happened.
When you have to cut mats for and then mount an entire photography project in one night, chocolate is necessary.

This time it came out like a chocolate version of the original cake. You can tell it's not brownies because it's not so shiny on top.

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Emily Dickinson's Coconut Cake, or We're going literary now

We at A Book of Cookrye are pleased today to once again dig out forgotten recipes of yore! ...Well, actually, this one isn't completely forgotten seeing as we got it off of an NPR article, but there you go. At any rate, we needed something delicious enough to make studying for finals bearable. We've already done Emily Dickinson's neighbor's coconut cake, why not do the one from Dickinson herself?
Because I could not stop for cake
It kindly stopped for me-
The kitchen held but just ourselves
And many a Calorie

Emily Dickinson's Coconut Cake
1 c shredded coconut
2 c flour
1 c sugar
½ c butter
½ c milk
2 eggs
½ tsp baking soda*
1 tsp cream of tartar

Heat oven to 330°. Grease a layer cake pan.
Cream sugar and flour. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing in the first thoroughly before adding the second. Stir in the soda and cream of tartar. Mix in the milk, then add the flour. Lastly, stir in the coconut.
Spread the batter into the pan. Bake until golden on top and a knife in the center comes out with no liquid batter, about 20-30 minutes.

*You can use 1½ tsp baking powder instead of the soda and cream of tartar.

Note 1: Emily Dickinson's note at the bottom says this is half of a full-sized cake.
Note 2:This is really good with ⅛ tsp rose water (fairly cheap at middle-Eastern stores) added (hey, it's period-correct). However, if it's hard to find rose water or you can only get it at some overpriced specialty store, just leave it out. The cake is delicious anyway.

I'm having a hard time believing the person who wrote the article is, as claimed, a Dickinson scholar. How could someone who's going that deep into debt to study Emily Dickinson not find out early in her studies that she liked to bake and was locally famous for it? The Emily Dickinson Museum has a whole page dedicated to how much she liked cooking. Even the bottom-of-the-page biography blurb in my high school English book said that at her most reclusive, she was still known for lowering baskets of baked goods on a rope out the window to children below.
Heck yes.

Emily Dickinson didn't write the instructions, but that's fairly common for recipes that are notes to self. Or, if you're writing them out for friends, you tend to leave out any steps that you figure they'll already surmise- which often leaves you with a list of ingredients and a cooking time.
This looks like a pretty normal modern-day cake recipe aside from stirring coconut into it. Based on the ingredients list, Emily Dickinson did not subscribe to the Mrs. Goodfellow baking-powder-is-evil style of cooking.
I hope I wasn't supposed to separately beat the eggs.

Emily Dickinson must have really liked coconut cake because two different recipes for it survive among her papers. They look like they'd come out really different. She attributed the other one to someone named Mrs. Carmichael, who people describe as either a family friend, a neighbor, or just someone who also lived in Amherst. This one just has the note that it makes half of the full recipe. I don't know why she divided the recipe in half before writing it down, but it looks like it'll make a nice little cake.

I always get a little unnerved seeing the butter in little curds- I once threw an entire batch of half-mixed cookie dough out because it looked like this and I was certain that either the recipe was faulty or I'd ruined it.
At any rate, we had some tasty, tasty cake batter. It's a lot thicker than cake batter usually ends up being, though.
I know I'm not the only one who wants to turn off the oven and get out a bigger spoon.

Now, the recipe says to use baking soda and cream of tartar, a combination that still shows up in substitution lists in the backs of cookbooks for when you've run out of baking powder. We at A Book of Cookrye just so happen to have run out of baking powder, leaving us to wonder: where the hell did the cream of tartar come from?

And now, we turn this from a regular cake into a coconut cake! Surprisingly given the time period, the recipe calls for pre-grated coconut by the cup and not for a coconut which you then shred for yourself. Incidentally, while you'll find plenty of coconut cake recipes around today, a lot of them are a regular cake with lots of coconut in the icing or between the layers. It seems the idea of putting coconut into the cake itself has gone out of style.

Look at how thick this is!
This is gonna be so good...

Here, I must confess that due to aforementioned finals studying, I kind of forgot to check whether the cake was done.
Nothing wrong with a well-done cake.

However, and here's how you know this recipe is worth holding onto, it still was fricken perfect! How many cakes come out just fine when you nearly burn them? Now, this article said that Emily Dickinson and her friends used to dip the cake in sherry. Guess what I still haven't used all of?
The only reason I have sherry in the first place is an experiment with a friend to see if coding goes better when slightly tippled. It didn't work.

I might have liked it if I liked sherry. But I don't. However, the cake itself is absolutely divoon. Also, and this is well worth keeping in mind when frazzled and worn out, it is surprisingly resilient to overbaking.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Second-Stab Saturday-- more cauliflower!

Do you like pulverizing frozen things? Then we at A Book of Cookrye have something really special for you! This is our lovely supper-to-be! We have made this many, many times and thought we might share how we've altered it to taste.
Yes, these will taste good.

Cauliflower-Spinach Bake

1 (12-oz) package frozen cauliflower
1 (10-oz) block frozen spinach
2-4 garlic cloves (I actually use a lot more than this)
Salt, pepper (be generous)
2-4 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 500°. Line a 9x13 pan with foil. If it's really important that it lift easily and neatly out of the pan, grease and flour it (simply greasing it will not work).
Grind the cauliflower and garlic in a food processor or meat grinder. If your food processor is sturdy enough, you can skip thawing it first. Thaw the spinach, retaining juices.
Mix everything but the cheese and paprika. Spread it in the pan. Shake paprika over it, then sprinkle the Parmesan on top.
Bake until the cheese is golden and crispy, about 20 minutes.

Every time I see a frozen spinach brick, I instinctively cringe (yet I still buy them). I don't mean a generic "oh, this will taste bad" reaction. I get a deep-rooted, this-traumatized-me-repeatedly-when-I-was-a-vulnerable-child urge to flee from the frozen spinach. This makes no sense as my mother just about never made us eat it.

However, we at A Book of Cookrye will treat the spinach like we would a vampire.
Begone, foul fiend!

You know, I saw the recipe we started with floating around as a "gluten free pizza crust." And honestly people, stop kidding yourselves. I ain't saying this would be bad with tomato sauce and cheese on top, but attempting to pass it off as pizza would be a crime.
We at A Book of Cookrye believe in garlic.

And now, like so many times before, we crank cauliflower through a meat grinder. We've gotten progressively lazier with this recipe- first we cooked it in the microwave, then we just thawed it out, and now we just take it straight from the freezer and pulverize it.
That was quick.

We at A Book of Cookrye would like to defend the much-maligned brick of frozen spinach. It's really only terrible if you boil it and then attempt to eat it. If you cover it with a whole bulb of garlic, half a shaker of pepper, and a massive blanket of paprika, it's downright edible.

Although, seriously, frozen spinach actually is pretty good in casseroles and other baked things. It's just-- well, on its own, it's just mushy and sad.

Not pictured: realizing I forgot the cheese on top and taking it back out of the oven to correct that.

Most people would set this out and patiently wait for it to cool. We at A Book of Cookrye would like to ask such people what it's like to have such patience.
If I ever have my own house I'm installing a wall air-conditioner in the kitchen.

Anyway, to wrap and sum up, this is pretty good. Also, frozen vegetables being as cheap as they are, we at A Book of Cookrye have this quite regularly. It has garlic in it.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Emily Dickinson's Neighbor's Coconut Cake!

We at A Book of Cookrye would like to introduce a new term to you: theater herpes. It looks like this.
Don't let this happen to you.

Why do we call glitter theater herpes? Because once it gets on you, it never goes away and you will find it in places you never knew it could get to. Therefore, when you're teching a musical that involves glitter, don't bring your lunch in a container you're planning to bring back home. After we washed this off, glitter got on the kitchen sponge. Then it got on the counters because someone else used said sponge to wipe them. I've been finding stray pieces of glitter everywhere. I go to class, it's on the table. I get dressed, it's on the inside of the shirt I haven't put on yet. I should have just quarantined the bowl or just accepted the loss rather than taking it back home and doing this.

You may be wondering why I have a bowl of egg white foam. Finals are upon us, that's why. We at A Book of Cookrye have been so busy we've barely had time to touch the ground. Hence, we needed some sustenance to keep us going as we cracked open textbooks and valiantly attempted to read them.
source: Four Pounds Flour

This, my friends, is a recipe for coconut cake in Emily Dickinson's handwriting. Well, it's the ingredients for it at any rate. I suppose Emily Dickinson figured she'd know what to do without writing down the instructions and little suspected that we would be going through every surviving scrap of paper she ever wrote anything on a century later. Well, we at A Book of Cookrye decided to guess our way through the instructions. Given that there is no other leavening in this cake, we figured it's probably the eggs. Hence getting glitter all over the kitchen- we needed two bowls.

Mrs. Carmichael's Coconut Cake
1 c sugar
½ c butter
1 c flour
3 eggs, separated
1-1½ c grated coconut

Heat oven to 350°. Grease a layer cake pan.
Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks, beat thoroughly. Mix in the flour, then the coconut.
Beat the egg whites until stiff (ideally, you'll stop just before they hold a completely stiff point). Stir in a spoonful at a time to soften and thin the cake batter (you may need to stir in about half of them). When it's soft enough to fold the remaining whites in without deflating them, do so.
Pour into the pan and bake until done, about 20-25 minutes.

Note: This makes one half the rule.

A lot of people have written articles about how much Emily Dickinson liked to cook- and most of them use the same "I'll bet you didn't know that..." slant in them. This recipe comes up in a lot of them- Dickinson didn't leave as many recipes as she did poems, so people writing about her cooking have to use the same seven or so. At any rate, depending on where you read, the Mrs. Carmichael named in this recipe was either a family friend, a neighbor, or just someone else who lived in Amherst. I wonder if her descendents have any other recipes of hers?
I may have oversoftened the butter.

We at A Book of Cookrye figured with this recipe, you would mix everything together except the egg whites which you carefully fold in at the very end to raise it. However, it didn't look like this could possibly be mixed together without beating all the air out and getting a very flat cake afterward.

Also, do you have any idea how much grated coconut you get out of a whole one? See, the original recipe calls for one grated coconut and-- well, fresh coconuts are a bit of a specialty item that require chisels and hacksaws. I'll admit that due to having so many things to put off doing, I didn't spend much time looking it up. That said, the store had expensive bags of coconut that were still kind of soft, and really cheap bags of it that felt like they'd bagged cardboard. Guess which one we bought!
It made crunching sounds as we stirred it.

Believe it or not, this is the first time we haven't wanted to eat the cake batter. Heck, we even liked the avocado cake batter a little bit. But this... the coconut shards were like biting into fingernail clippings. You know how Upton Sinclair's The Jungle had all those icky descriptions of the food industry? Well, we at A Book of Cookrye began to suspect that whoever packaged the coconut we'd purchased had adulturated it with bone shreds. Maybe Mrs. Carmichael was right to say we should buy the coconut and grate it ourselves.
Dessert, anyone?

Well, whatever was in this cake, it smelled really good by the time it was done.

And... this cake is delicious. It's really light and amazing. Emily Dickinson, we at A Book of Cookrye salute you for having gotten your neighbor to write it out. (Also, the coconut/bone shreds softened while it cooked.)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Hump-Day Quickie: Hummus noodles are absolutely free!

It's that special time of year when people start realizing they're not going to eat all the food they have before it's time to move out. In a simultaneous act of dumping one's unwanted things and being generous, people leave food in the kitchen for others to take. This is fortunately timed for us at A Book of Cookrye, for we have barely had time to touch the ground.
You know when you're so swamped with things to do that your sleep comes in half hour spurts and a four hour nap is luxurious? When you keep having to ask what day of the week it is? This is when you start scavenging in the kitchen because you haven't had time to get groceries for two weeks. Today, we eat like broke royalty!
See those brown splots of stuff? That's what makes this good for you.

Hummus-Garlic Spaghetti
2 individual hummus tubs (the ones that are a couple of big spoonfuls, not the ones the size of a ketchup packet)
1 tub garlic dipping sauce (they come with pizza delivery)
1 serving spaghetti

Boil the spaghetti, drain it, and mix in everything else.

And like magic, we're fed!

Those who like garlic will find this delicious. Also, even for spaghetti, it's surprisingly filling.