Monday, September 15, 2008

Yams and Winky Dinks

Winky Dink And Yams
Ain’t dead yet. I know I am still alive because I still get worked up about rocky road ice cream and standing with an umbrella in a big rain storm. I can still remember my age, my middle name, my phone number and my children’s birthdays. I can remember using my Winky Dink coloring kit to write on our small black and white TV set when Arthur Godfrey came on.
Ok, I have now lost most of my audience.
My mother was an excellent cook. Always from scratch. Even when Swanson came out with the first boxed cake the only place I saw the box was on the store shelf.
Along with my remembrances came Thanksgiving Family Dinners and Yams.
My mother had a way to make this dish that even the finickiest of eaters in our family would come back for seconds.
Unlike the Winky Dink that remains in the archive of my memory, my Mom’s Yams At Thanksgiving can still be enjoyed today.
Mashed Maple-Orange Yams (Sweet Potatoes)
2 pounds sweet potatoes , peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into ¼ inch thick slices-(important for cooking evenly)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon orange zest (if you can find a Valencia Orange- I believe they have the best orange flavor)
Pinch ground black pepper
1. Combine sweet potatoes, butter, cream, sugar and salt in 3 to 4 quart saucepan; cook, covered over low heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes fall apart when poked with fork , 35-45 minutes. (you read correctly- NO WATER!!)
2. Remove from heat, mash in saucepan with potato masher.
Add maple syrup , orange zest and pepper.**
And Serve.
And He walks with me, And He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there; None other has ever known
Happy Joyful Thanksgiving to you and your family as we tarry together making fond memories!!!

**Recipe from Cooks Illustrated and my Mom who did it long before they did!!!


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Red Velvet Cake

Southern Red Velvet Cake

Vegetable oil for the pans 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 1/2 cups sugar 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon fine salt 1 teaspoon cocoa powder 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature 2 large eggs, at room temperature 2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce) 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows Crushed pecans, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour 3 (9 by 1 1/2-inch round) cake pans.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.
Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.
Frost the cake. Place 1 layer, rounded-side down, in the middle of a rotating cake stand. Using a palette knife or offset spatula spread some of the cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. (Spread enough frosting to make a 1/4 to 1/2-inch layer.) Carefully set another layer on top, rounded-side down, and repeat. Top with the remaining layer and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle the top with the pecans.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar 2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), softened 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.)
Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally). Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff, before using. May be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Yield: enough to frost a 3 layer (9-inch) cake

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