Thursday, December 31, 2015

Vanilla Pudding: or, A Book of Cookrye welcomes the new year

2015 is drawing to a close, meaning in just a few days we at A Book of Cookrye will have to cross out the last digit of "2012" and replace it with a 6 instead of a 5. We at A Book of Cookrye made a very simple New Year's resolution in January:

Like many people who make New Year's resolutions, we completely forgot about it shortly thereafter. Besides, we live in an area where transit is so sparse one must make quite a detour to use it. However, as the last week of December arrived, we thought to ourselves "A whole year and we couldn't get on a train once?"
Vanilla Custard
3 eggs
¾ c sugar
¼ tsp salt
2½ c milk
1 tsp vanilla

Beat eggs and sugar in the top of a double boiler until uniform. Add salt and milk. Put over hot water and cook, stirring constantly, until thick. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Press plastic wrap onto the surface (this prevents a skin forming) and let cool.

Adapted from source

While many people's resolutions involve a workout regimen to forget about within two weeks or some other self-betterment to be hastily given up on, we at A Book of Cookrye made a resolution involving eggs and sugar.

As we at A Book of Cookrye look back on 2015, we see hours of calculus (so many we burnt the book and poured a salt circle around the grill afterward just in case-- this is not a joke) and other classes we did our best to ignore. 2015 saw the death of our mixer, the theft of our only teacup, and the cracking of our only bowl. 2015 also saw our discovery of pink cherry-lemon cake, zucchini bread (which we've never made before), and the surprisingly good cucumber-lemon bread (because cucumbers look the same as zucchinis DON'T JUDGE ME).
This was runnier than anything purporting to turn into a custard had any right to be.

2015 was as good a year as any for us, on average. So, on this cold day on late December, we wonder what 2016 brings. We could wish for world peace and stable funding for libraries, but people wish for those every year and they have yet to happen. So instead we wish for things on a smaller scale.

In 2016, we would like any of these:
  • A working dishwasher where we don't even have to pre-rinse anything
  • A domicile where no one thinks our razors are community property unless we hide them
  • Sudden transmission outages when news networks or websites are trying to up their ratings by fearmongering and inciting panic or outrage
  • Increased transit in the United States so people only have to own a car and drive it if they want to
  • A pay raise

Aside from being comparitively runny, it passes for mayo.

And here is our 2015 resolution, all ready to take on the train and go! We are pleased to note that this is a repurposed jar of light mayonnaise. (Those who worry about us chucking out the contents of an entire jar of mayo: rest assured, it was rehomed to a plastic container and returned to the refrigerator.)
By the way, Our Mom of Cookrye endorses Duke's Mayonnaise and will admit no other in her refrigerator.

However, it turns out that mayonnaise jars do not hold pudding well, as we found out when we checked the back of our bicycle upon reaching the station.

Fortunately, a few spoonfuls remained in the jar. It's hardly the experience of snarfing down a generous helping of pudding from a mayonnaise jar we hoped for. But ultimately, we did our resolution the same way we do everything else: half-assed and at the last minute.

As it is, we're ending 2015 just like we started it: blissfully stupefied on Christmas leftovers. Happy 2016, everyone!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas from A Book of Cookrye!

We at A Book of Cookrye wish everyone all the best this year, and wish good luck to anyone about to make a frantic early-morning grocery run!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Stuffed Rolls: or, When you know your plates are about to be packed up

It's moving time here at A Book of Cookrye! Yep, it's that time when once again we change addresses, as everyone who lives in a dorm must do from time to time. This means for at least a full day, we will have no cooking utensils of any form and most of our food will be in bags where we hope it doesn't melt while out of the refrigerator. We do, however, have the leftovers.

Incidentally, the grilled peppers were so good.

Partially to make sure we didn't go hungry while packing and schlepping, and partially as an excuse not to have to pack yet, we are making...
Stuffed Rolls
½ c shortening*
1¼ c milk
½ c sugar
2 envelopes yeast
4-6 c flour
½ c sugar
2 tsp salt
2 eggs
Finely chopped leftover meats and vegetables

Heat the milk and shortening until melted. You can do it on the stove stirring constantly, but microwaving it will be a lot easier and you won't be trying to keep the milk from burning in the pot. Cool to 120°-130°.
Mix 1½ c flour, the sugar, the salt, and the yeast. Add the milk and shortening, mix thoroughly. Add the egg and beat well. Then add the remaining flour-the dough should be sticky and barely firm enough to knead. In fact, it may just feel like you're stretching goop in your hands more than kneading dough. But keep going until it's smooth and elastic.
Knead until smooth, it should be about 3 minutes. Then let it rise until doubled in size. Punch the dough down and divide it in half. Have a clean, floured surface ready.
Thoroughly coat the dough in flour and roll it out to a quarter-inch thick rectangle. Cut it into 5-6" squares. For each square, dip your finger in water and wet the edges (this will make it easier to close). Place a firmly-packed portion of your filling on it. Bring the corners of the dough to the center and pinch together. Pinch the four seams closed. Place on a well-greased cookie sheet seam-side down.
Let them rise, then bake at 350° for 20 minutes, or until nicely browned on top.

*We had no shortening and used butter instead- they came out just fine.
SPJST 100th Anniversary Cookbook, 1997

Yep, we're taking all our leftovers and casing them in bread so we don't even need a plate. You may recognize the bread recipe from when we made the garlic rolls. As a recipe note, we ran out of shortening and it turns out butter works just fine.
It's odd how this looks almost tidy.

You may be wondering why we are choosing now, when we have so much packing to do, to spend the better part of a night making bread. Well, for one we find it comforting. We also had Fractured Fairy Tales playing on the laptop the whole time. Spending a good long time in the kitchen getting messy and watching Rocky and Bullwinkle clips was just the thing for when one's burnt out and can't stagger forward any more.
Fractured Fairy Tales are awesome.

We also wanted to be able to eat without having to stop work and get a plate. We figured we'd be slowing ourselves down enough without having to completely stop every time we got hungry.
Check out the repair job someone did on the toaster oven handle.

And now, this is the point where this as a time-saving way to eat will make sense. First, we take the leftovers and do this.
It's been too long since we got out the meat grinder anyway.

Those of you who are interested in food history will be interested to know that portable pies- that is, taking your food and putting it in a bread case small enough to hold in your hands- have been independently invented in every culture in all parts of the world. In some cultures, you wrap it in dough sheets and fry it (lumpia, egg rolls), other people use flatbread (wraps, burritos), elsewhere you find people cooking things in cases of pie crust, and some places (like we're doing today) you put it in bread dough and have what look like oversized rolls once they're baked.  But everyone at some point took their native version of bread and put stuff in it.

This is actually a homemade version of what a lot of people do: buy canned  crescent roll dough, chop up your leftovers, wrap and bake.
Looks oddly pretty, doesn't it?

You'd be amazed at what you can get away with cooking like this. One person who does this to clear out the fridge at home once ended up making rolls stuffed with a finely chopped combination of salad coated in ranch dressing, roast, potatoes, the last leavings of Chinese delivery, and green beans. Believe it or not, they came out fine. This time, we are using the remains of a cookout and meat cooked in a lot of curry powder. Heck, we even put in the bell peppers that got completely blackened and charred on the grill. What would taste like nastiness and burnt if you just ate one added the sort of outdoorsy flavor you normally have to earn by standing outside getting the smell of smoke permanently embedded in your clothes when suffused and dispersed among the ingredients,.
I don't know if it's making a kissy face or if it just sucked a lemon.

If you're aesthetically minded, you may be looking at these once you've pressed them together and wondering how to stop them from coming out of the oven with weird deformed ridges. Or, if you're more practical minded, you may be thinking "But won't they just come right back open as they're rising?"
This is actually one of the very few that came out regular looking. Most of them had weird ridges going every random way.
The answer: You just put them seam side down, squishing that dough lump in the center flat as you press them down, and they'll come out looking just fine.
See? They're not inbred stegosaurus rolls at all.

I know it's a redundant statement because all bread looks good by definition, holy snizzbat these came out pretty.

Now, ordinarily you'd put these on a baking rack when you take the out of the oven because the bottoms of them come out a bit damp- and no one likes a soggy bottom. However, we at A Book of Cookrye left our drying rack in our summer house, so we had to go with the shortcut (that also removes one thing from the pile of dishes to wash).
The rolls look like they're cavorting on the countertop.

I could be annoyed at the fact that the oven rack stamped the bottom of these, but why not be poetic and think of them as craft marks? (Incidentally, that's the best way to think of most errors in cooking. Cracked cake? Weird-shaped cookies? Burnt chicken? It's all craft marks or, failing that, homemade charm.)
See? The seams are barely visible.

In conclusion, we at A Book of Cookrye recommend these as a great way to turn leftovers into lunches you don't even need to get a plate and fork for. It's your meat, vegetables, and bread all in one go.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Pork Skewers: or, A Book of Cookrye goes outdoors: or, Math Class is over and pork chops were on sale

We at A Book of Cookrye have reached a point of delirious ecstasy! You see, our math class is over! Not only is our math class over, but it's the last one we will ever take. WE ARE DONE WITH MATH CLASS. Had someone said to us on our first day of college, still 18 and Cloroxing away our acne,  "Before you graduate, you will take calculus I, II, and III," we would have laughed and said "There's a third calculus?" before mocking the sort of pathetic, lifeless, masochistic sap who would voluntarily do that to themselves. But here we are, having gone right to the end of the calculus book we had to buy and feeling damn good about being able to permanently close it.

Pork Skewers
2 c wine (if it's old and starting to turn into vinegar, it's still just fine for this)
2 c cider vinegar
9 oz (2 small jars) minced garlic
18 pork chops
2 onions
1 bottle spicy brown mustard

Cut the pork chops into quarters or sixths, depending on how big and how thick they are. Cut up the onions (you can leave them in big enough pieces to skewer with the pork or separately roast wrapped in foil, or you can finely chop them). Mix everything except the mustard and marinate overnight.
The next day, skewer the pork (you can put the onions on the skewers with it if desired). Before starting the fire, thickly coat skewers in mustard and leave them to sit and absorb it until the fire is ready. Grill them to taste.

Furthermore, look what was marked down 30 percent!
Still a bit pricy, but I only finish math classes for life once.

We devised the marinade by the time-honored "what bottles of stuff are sitting forgotten in the cabinet?" method. Initially we considered buying beer for the express purpose since it did such wonders for the steaks, but since we left our driver's license at home, the chops got vinegar and wine instead.
Thank you to the person who left his massive frying pan under the counter for nothing else was big enough to hold all of this.

The cookout aspect was masterminded by a friend from the Philippines. While I've never operated a grill in my life, she has watched others doing it. Therefore, the meat ended up skewers- the only one of us who knew anything about grilling was doing it the way she'd seen it done at home.
Her: "We're doing it Philippine style!"
Me: "Is there anything Philippine about this besides it's on sticks?"
Her: "Not really."

We initially intended to do an end-of-math-class marshmallow roast. However, when we went down to one of the campus parks to gather firewood (you didn't think we'd pay for that, did you?), we may have been a bit overzealous. This led to us having nowhere to put a decent-sized woodpile (we'd thought we'd stash the handful of logs in the hedge so the maintenance people didn't throw it out when they did sidewalk patrol), but we ended up having to waylay everyone who came downstairs asking if they drove a truck.
"Why do you want to know?"
"Well, I've got a stack of firewood that---"
"Gotta go."
Someone eventually agreed to let us store the wood in the back of his pickup and even helped move it.

Yes, my math book is on the counter with everything else to take out to the grill.

As usually happens when grilling, this turned into a social occasion. People hearing that we were outside preparing to throw my math book upon the embers to make up for three semesters of misery and tears grilling brought out things they'd had stashed in the freezer, turning this into an impromptu potluck. And I don't mean someone bringing out a couple of scraps. One person had an entire package of hamburger patties. Another person brought out bratwursts. What previously had seemed like so much wood I'd have to find someone to give the rest to began to look like it may not burn long enough for everything to cook. Granted, none of us actually knew how to grill in the first place and we were doing this in the middle of the night when a flashlight was required to see if the meat was done, but we figured it out quick enough.
There were three more batches of stuff to put on the grill by the time everyone who was going to had brought something out, plus marshmallows.

And so, we at A Book of Cookrye bid our classes for this semester good-bye! The pork skewers were so delicious, we'd deliberately buy more wine and vinegar and find more firewood just to do them again. Besides, we managed to make the coals last long enough for s'mores!
We even had leftover firewood to give away.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Raisin Cake from Paraguay: or, It's like mincemeat but not quite

It's not beginning to look like Christmas, the season is reaching its big climax! This looks like it's been a very traditional Christmas here in America. The first fake pine went out in the stores somewhere around September as has been done since the early 1900s, along with the usual articles bemoaning that Christmas starts in September. We had the usual spate of people screeching about The War On Christmas, as we have every year since I can remember. And of course, the radio has been playing the same short playlist of Christmas music (we had to switch radio stations after being subjected to one to many repetitions of El Burrito de Belén), causing us to wonder if anyone has ever produced a recording of "Let There Be Peace on Earth and Let It Begin with Me" not sung by charmingly tuneless children.
We at A Book of Cookrye have been avoiding a lot of it, as we do these days. We realized a few years ago that a lot of our resentment of Christmas was that it felt like an obligation. Eventually, we realized that actually we don't have to buy stuff for people. We don't have to listen to 5 singers try to come up with their creative spin on Jingle Bells- this isn't North Korea, we can turn the radio off. And we don't have to draw up a list of people to whom we are contractually obliged to give presents. And most importantly, we don't have to nail a massive smile on our face in the name of Christmas cheer. We reserve the same right to be openly tired at Christmas as we do the rest of the year. Having realized that we don't have to do all those things leaves us with a lovely day to bring out all of the really fun recipes, see our family, and if we happened to see something we thought someone would like, give it to them.
Which brings us to, very cautiously, busting out a Christmas recipe.

Paraguayan Raisin Cake
   Torta de Pasa
1 tbsp cornstarch
½ c water
¾ c white sugar
1¼ c raisins
½ c chopped nuts*
½ c butter
½ c dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 c flour
1½ tsp baking soda
1½ tsp cream of tartar
½ c milk
1 tsp vanilla

Heat oven to 375°. Grease a round or square pan.
Stir together the cornstarch and water until smooth (it's easiest to do this in a measuring cup.) Put in a saucepan with the water, ½ c white sugar, raisins, and nuts. Cook over low heat until thick, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Cream the butter, brown sugar, and remaining white sugar. Thoroughly beat in the eggs and vanilla, then stir in the baking soda and cream of tartar until all is mixed. Add the flour in three additions, alternating with the milk in two and starting with the flour.
Pour half the batter into the pan. Spread the raisins over it. Spoon the remaining batter all over the top, then spread it to cover.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

*We recommend hazelnuts.

Pan-American Airways' Complete Round-The-World Cookbook, Myra Waldo, 1954

This comes to us from Paraguay's chapter in The Complete Round-the World Cookbook. We at A Book of Cookrye, knowing nothing about Paraguayan food, don't know whether it really is something one would find on a lot of tables in Paraguay (or would have found in the 50's when this book was published) or if the recipe was heavily altered for American audiences. We actually lean toward the former since a lot of our friends have flipped through their home countries' sections while saying things like "yep, my Mom makes something like that... yep, we eat that all the time..."
You may think a 1950's book of international recipes is suspect, but even the recipes from India apparently are correct. I was very astonished when I was making a lentil curry (the main ingredients were lentils, onions, and boiled eggs, so it appealed to my grocery budget) and one of my friends from India came into the kitchen, saw me standing over the pot, and in astonishment asked "Where'd you learn to make that?"
The only other time we do the cornstarch-and-water bit is when we're making pie filling.

This cake isn't listed as a Christmas recipe, but it seems like something we in America would bring out at this time of year. Which brings us to the reason why I earlier said I cautiously bring it out. You see, in my house, my dislike of forced Christmas cheer and the attendant saccharine rituals has made it difficult to admit there's anything about Christmas I actually like. If I were to say I liked a Christmas song, then every time it came on the radio someone in the house would turn the volume as high as it goes while saying "LOOK IT'S THAT SONG YOU LIKE DON'T COMPLAIN YOU SAID YOU LIKE IT".
This picture is dedicated to all my friends who have so extensively reminded me that raisins masquerading as chocolate chips scarred them for life.

Those of you who find raisins to be one of the evil things in the world should take some comfort in knowing that despite hating nuts in cakes (they always seem to go weirdly soft in baking and... ew), we added all of these.

Although if we at A Book of Cookrye were to be thoroughly honest, the main reason we consider this to be a Christmas recipe is that as soon as the raisins cooked a bit, they made the same squelching sound as the mincemeat Fanny Cradock was slapping onto everything in her TV show.
Even by 1970's UK standards, Fanny Cradock was a surreal experience, thankfully preserved on Youtube. You owe it to yourself.

I must admit I watch Fanny Cradock specials with fascination. She was the biggest TV chef in the entire UK, and they couldn't come up with a sink with running water? And what's with scaring her poor assistant into silence and then making her wear a shroud so that there's only one "attractive" woman on the set? (Although we give her credit for things like applying egg wash to the tops of her pies with her fingers because otherwise you'd have to come up with a brush and then wash it.) But, the point is, be sure to see part 2 where she puts mincemeat into a half-cooked omelet  and covers it in powdered sugar. Consider the videos to be A Book of Cookrye's Christmas gift to those who love the more bizarre aspects of the past.

And so, we at A Book of Cookrye set the raisin-nut stuff on the marvelous ventilated cooling rack.
This is so wonderful to have near the kitchen. Whenever I have my own place I'm rigging a grate to a fan so I needn't do without.

Because we at A Book of Cookrye feel like giving at this time of year, this is our gift to everyone who was traumatized by the raisins. Behold, for we have made delicious, brown sugar-y cake batter!
We have never managed to get past here without eating at least a little bit of it.

The cake was a couple of shakers away from being a very rich spice cake. It was marvelously thick when we spread it in the pan, and tasted amazing.

And now comes the part where we upgrade (or downgrade, depending on your opinion of the title ingredient) this from an ordinary cake to a raisin cake!
Look at those softly glistening raisins. Don't they look good enough to eat?

We thought the batter would be hard to spread on top of the raisins without just mixing it all together and spearing it about with the spoon. But the raisin mincemeat got very firm once it cooled down and the batter just sat right on top and and spread very easily.
Cakes here at A Book of Cookrye involve a lot of batter splats. Sometimes they end up in the pan.

By "the batter spread very easily", we of course mean it sort of mixed with the raisins but mostly stayed on top of everything. We at A Book of Cookrye were slightly annoyed, but decided that we'd be better off being like the princess in Frigid and letting it go.

The cake smelled so wonderful in the kitchen right up to when we joined some people watching Rick and Morty. Television may not be ruining our lives, but it did unfortunately have some negative effects on our baking.
Nothing wrong with a well-done cake.

However, this cake was more than easily fixed.
Put some icing on it and you'd never know.

And this is why we said this is a Christmas cake. It's good, but you will definitely be full after you eat it. If you have this after dinner, you'll be sated for hours. It's absolutely delicious, and just the sort of thing you'd serve after a big dinner this time of year.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Recipes for Oddly Specific Settings: Luncheon Pan Rolls!

We at A Book of Cookrye have been making a lot of bread lately. Why? Because bread is delicious, and finals-related stress has made us decide that a diet is too grim a prospect. When you have to do triple trigonometric integrals, would you want to eat a plate of vegetables and try to tell yourself you're sated?
All-Electric Mix Recipes Prepared Specially for your Dormeyer Mixer, 1946

Luncheon Pan Rolls
1 c milk
2 tbsp butter
¼ c sugar
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1 cake or envelope yeast, dissolved in ¼ c lukewarm water
4 c flour

Scald the milk, remove from heat, and add the butter. Stir until melted. Add the sugar and let stand until lukewarm. Add the egg, yeast, and 1½ c flour. Beat at medium speed with a mixer (if doing it by hand, a whisk is better than a spoon) until smooth. Add another ½ c flour and beat again.Stir in the rest of the flour until the dough is stiff enough to handle. Let it rise until doubled in size, then knead for 1 minute.
Shape into rolls, either by rolling the dough out and cutting it or by making little dough balls in your hands. Let them rise, then bake 12-15 minutes at 425°.

We at A Book of Cookrye have featured two recipes for oddly specific occasions. There's the chicken pie that's meant either for hunting or for picnics on the Thames and the liver that's for after a taking in a play. Today, we are making rolls that are apparently meant for serving at a luncheon. We do wonder about the name of this recipe. Are these the ones some employee at the Dormeyer factory routinely cranked out for every company party? Did someone always make yet another batch of these for every church potluck, possibly to the point that there was always a place set aside for Mrs Whatever-Her-Name-Was' rolls?

The butter is listed in the ingredients, but the directions never mention what to do with it. Were we supposed to put a little piece of it on each roll just before baking? Spread it over the dough like we did the sauce when making the garlic rolls? (PS- Go forth and make the garlic rolls. They're better than you'd ever think garlic bread would be.) We hazarded the guess that we should mix it in.

I never understood why you always make a sort of bread batter before adding the rest of the flour, but who am I to question the recipe? Here we must admit that we didn't think we really needed to bust out the mixer, but the flour stayed in lumps and the yeast, rather than mixing, formed a few clods and refused to mix into the dough. Clearly, we needed to motorize our cooking procedures.

Maybe it's the weather lately, but the bread we've been making has come out really dry. The garlic rolls just a few days earlier did the same thing. We added the lowest amount of flour given in the recipe and it came out looking like this.

Now, the last bread recipe we made, you knead it then let it rise. This one was the opposite. The kitchen was crowded (it's finals time for everyone else too) and therefore we couldn't leave it in the oven to rise; people had their own food to bake. So we did this instead.

It seems putting the bowl in a pot of hot water works just as well as a warm oven. In fact, it may actually work better. The recipe said the dough would double in size in two hours; we got that and then some.
We at A Book of Cookrye hereby endorse the yeast you fish out of the discount bin for 25¢.

You may not fully appreciate just how expanded this dough got. So, for comparison, here it is after we thwacked all the air out of it and kneaded it.
Remember: this filled up the entire bowl.

So, having got out our best cookie sheet, the rolls were soon ready to rise!
We considered getting out the rolling pin and cutting them with the measuring cup, but then we lost patience.

The nice thing about recipes like this is you get to decide how big of rolls you want. Do you want little bread bonbons? Do you want them so big you could cut them in half and fit your dinner in the middle?

Incidentally, the recipe may have said to bake at 425°, but these were done before the oven reached temperature.

These came out pretty good. I may or may not have eaten an inordinate amount of them while muttering "I regret nothing." Someone else tasted one and declared "I have seen the face of Jeya-sus-ah!" Given that she was from India, it was impressive to hear her suddenly get an evangelist accent perfect.
As you may have surmised, these are good rolls. If you're being picky, the yeast-raised flavor that one usually uses to justify waiting for them to rise wasn't as pronounced as we wish it could have been. However, they're tasty and oddly addictive.