Categories
Breakfast Snack

Proudly blow your own ‘crumpet’ for British cakes well made

Crumpets
Crumpets are really easy to make, with a short rise time and only a few ingredients. They are a bit like pancakes and should be enjoyed slathered in butter and honey.

In the lead up to Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on Sept. 19, Newsweek reported that projections for people watching around the world was clocking in at over four billion.

I have to admit that despite my general lack of interest in the Royal Family, I did tune in for just a bit, wanting to see a smidgeon of the display.

That passing interest most definitely came into play as I decided what new recipe to try this week and landed on what I consider a quintessential British dish: crumpets.

I’ve never had a crumpet before, so I figured it was high time to give them a shot, and they were absolutely delicious. Really, they’re the Brits’ answer to the pancake, and I can totally see why they would be great with a cup of tea.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “RecipeTin Eats.” I recommend giving the site a visit, since the author’s videos always feature her adorable golden retriever, Dozer. You can find the original post for this recipe at https://www.recipetineats.com/crumpet-recipe/. I didn’t change anything in the ingredients outside of increasing the amount of yeast, and I decided to use a little bit of a different cooking method.

Crumpets
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Crumpets

Crumpets are really easy to make, with a short rise time and only a few ingredients. They are a bit like pancakes and should be enjoyed slathered in butter and honey.
Course Breakfast, Snacks
Cuisine British
Keyword crumpets, high tea, tea time

Ingredients

  • 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) yeast instant or active dry
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons butter for cooking

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine the yeast with one and one-half tablespoons warm water and stir to combine.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, water and salt for two minutes, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Add the yeast, sugar and baking powder and whisk for another minute. It will be a loose batter.
  • Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a warm spot for 30 minutes or until the top of the batter is super bubbly.
  • To cook the crumpets, either use a small non-stick skillet (I have one that is about four inches in diameter that I used), three- to four-inch metal rings or three- to four-inch sturdy rings made of aluminum foil. If using rings or foil, grease the inside of them with butter. For the skillet, brush it with butter when it’s preheated. (If you have a larger skillet, you can always cut your crumpets into halves or quarters, too. Don’t let equipment keep you from trying these.)
  • To use the rings, brush a large skillet with butter and place the rings inside. Heat the skillet to medium heat. Once it’s hot, pour about 1/4 cup of batter into each ring.
  • For a small skillet, heat it over medium heat and just pour the batter right in. You’ll want it about one centimeter deep.
  • Let the crumpets cook for about one to one and one-half minutes. You’ll notice bubbles starting to form on the surface. You’ll know it’s time to flip the crumpet with the top looks mostly dry.
  • Flip the crumpet over to brown it lightly, and then remove the crumpet from the heat and transfer to a plate or cooling rack.
  • Continue until all the batter is used.
  • When the crumpets are cooled, serve them by popping them in the toaster, and then slather the bubbly side with plenty of butter and serve with honey or your favorite jam. Store any leftovers in an airtight container.

Like I said, these were very much pancake-like, although they puffed up quite a bit more. The recipe only made about one-half dozen of these, so if you’re looking for a week’s worth of crumpets for breakfast or for your next fancy tea party, you’ll want to double or triple the recipe.

I ate mine in the traditional way, with honey squeezed over top, and they were really good. I’m certain my tiny nod to the monarchy wasn’t much of a fitting tribute, but it sure was a delicious one.

This piece first appeared in print on Sept. 22, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Appetizer Main Dish Side Dish Snack

Kick football season off with a bang by making shotgun shells

These smoked shotgun shells are made with seasoned sausage stuffed into manicotti shells and wrapped in bacon. They are a fantastic dish for a football snack table.

As soon as the weekly forecast came out, telling us that the opening weekend of football would be perfect for spending some time outside, Joey announced we were going to invite some folks to watch the games and throw some food on the smoker.

Of course, I had to stick my nose in and announce to him that I already found the perfect recipe to try, and being completely used to me regularly doing this to him, he immediately agreed—even though the name caught him off guard for a second.

I wanted to make shotgun shells.

The recipe is actually aptly named, considering it consists of stuffed manicotti shells. I suppose it sounds a little more macho than calling them stuffed tubes.

Also, I know I have given you a couple smoker recipes of late, but these can also easily be made in your oven or on a normal grill (as long as you watch your temperature).

This comes from the website “Or Whatever You Do” by Nicole Johnson. You can find the original post at https://www.orwhateveryoudo.com/2022/05/traeger-smoked-shotgun-shells.html. I added garlic and extra spices to my version and used sausage instead of ground beef.

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Smoked Shotgun Shells

These smoked shotgun shells are made with seasoned sausage stuffed into manicotti shells and wrapped in bacon. They are a fantastic dish for a football snack table.
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Keyword bacon, barbecue rub, barbecue sauce, barrel smoker, Big Green Egg, football snack, garlic, ground sausage, Kamado Joe, manicotti, shredded cheese, smoker, Traeger

Ingredients

  • 1 pound sausage
  • 1 cup shredded cheese I used Mexican blend
  • 2-3 tablespoons barbecue seasoning
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 12 manicotti shells uncooked
  • 12 slices bacon not thick sliced
  • about 1/4 cup barbecue sauce

Instructions

  • At least six hours before you want to start cooking, prepare your shotgun shells.
  • In a large bowl, mix the sausage with the cheese, seasoning and garlic. Once it is well combined, stuff each manicotti shell with the sausage and wrap each one with a strip of bacon.
  • Place the assembled shells in an airtight container or on a plate wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerate for six hours or overnight.
  • To cook them, preheat your smoker or oven to 250 degrees. Place the shells about an inch apart on the grill and let them cook with the lid closed for at least one hour before opening to check the temperature (you’re looking for 160 degrees for done sausage) and turning them on the grill to make sure they cook evenly.
  • Just before the shells are finished cooking (ours took about one and one-half hours), baste them with barbecue sauce on all sides.
  • Once the sausage in the center of the shells is cooked through and the bacon is crispy, remove them from the grill and serve.

These were absolutely fabulous. We didn’t have a single shotgun shell left by the time Sunday Night Football came on TV—and I made a double batch. It was absolutely perfect, both for lunch and for snacking during the later afternoon games.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, the manicotti cooked all the way through on the smoker. Joey and I were both really skeptical and almost par-boiled the shells just in case, but I decided to trust the process, and they were perfectly al dente by the time the sausage and bacon was done. It was a strange sort of magic that I don’t understand but definitely appreciate.

Hopefully we’ll have a few more weekends of dragging our TV outdoors for football and enjoying good food with good people in our backyard. But even if winter comes quickly and drives us indoors, I think shotgun shells will remain a regular on the menu.

This piece first appeared in print on Sept. 15, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Breakfast Dessert

Fresh peaches are ‘muffin’ short of delicious for breakfast

These peach muffins feature fresh peaches (although frozen would work, too), along with a brown sugar crumble on top, making them perfect for breakfast or dessert.

I caught Joey eyeballing the bowl of peaches sitting in our fridge this week.

“I’m going to use them this time,” I promised him. “They won’t end up in the freezer until next summer.”

His facial expression betrayed a lack of confidence in my promises, so of course, I had to do some baking this weekend to prove him wrong.

I jumped into my list of recipes to try and landed on some fresh peach muffins that looked delicious, quick and easy to make, and they did not disappoint.

The recipe I used comes from the blog “Serena Bakes Simply from Scratch.” I used brown sugar for granulated in the crumb topping and doubled the vanilla and almond extracts, as well as increased the amount of peach in my version below.

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Fresh Peach Muffins

These peach muffins feature fresh peaches (although frozen would work, too), along with a brown sugar crumble on top, making them perfect for breakfast or dessert.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword almond extract, brown sugar, fresh peaches, muffin, peaches, vanilla

Ingredients

Topping Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter cubed

Muffins Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed peaches diced

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin or tins with paper liners. (I ended up having enough batter for about 18 muffins.)
  • For the topping, add all the dry ingredients together in a small mixing bowl and stir until they’re well combined. Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry cutter until it’s completely incorporated and the mixture is all crumbly. Set it aside.
  • For the muffins, beat the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl for a few minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, vanilla and almond extract, and then beat in the baking soda, baking powder, salt, flour and sour cream until everything is well combined.
  • Fold in the peaches, and then scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Fill the liners to about one-fourth- to one-half-inch below the tops.
  • Press the topping into large crumbs and evenly distribute it over top of the filled liners.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffins comes out clean.
  • Let the muffins cool for at least 10 minutes before removing them from the muffin tin. Store cooled muffins in an airtight container.

These were lightly sweet and perfect for breakfast, although I actually ended up taking them as a dessert for a get-together we had over the weekend, and they were great for that, too.

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get rid of all of my leftover peaches, so Joey is still winning the argument I made up in my head. Never to be beaten, though, I have already been making sure to use peaches as my favorite snack, side dish and condiment this week.

The good news is I still love fresh peaches. The bad news is I still have about half a dozen to go.

This piece first appeared in print on Sept. 8, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Appetizer Breakfast Main Dish

You have ‘Scotch’ to try these tasty smoked eggs

This twist on Scotch eggs is made on a smoker, using barbecue seasonings and sauce and wrapped in bacon. They can also be baked in an oven.

Just as French fries are from Belgium and Hawaiian pizza was invented in Canada, Scotch eggs are actually a British creation.

Traditionally, a Scotch egg is “a shelled hard-boiled egg that is wrapped in sausage, covered in breadcrumbs, and then deep-fried or baked until crispy,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

They’re often served cold in pubs, but in the U.S., people most often serve them hot instead.

Joey has been hinting—strongly—for a few weeks that he would really like to try making Scotch eggs on his smoker, so on a recent day when the heat lifted for a bit, we finally decided to give them a try.

I will tell you that these are not traditional—they lack the breadcrumbs, have barbecue flavors, and we added bacon to ours, too. But they were very, very good.

This comes from Susie Bulloch at the blog “Hey Grill Hey.” You can find the original post at https://heygrillhey.com/smoked-scotch-eggs/. I added bacon to my version.

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Smoked Scotch Eggs

This twist on Scotch eggs is made on a smoker, using barbecue seasonings and sauce and wrapped in bacon.They can also be baked in an oven.
Course Main Course
Cuisine British
Keyword bacon, barbecue rub, barbecue sauce, barrel smoker, Big Green Egg, breakfast sausage, ceramic grill, hard-boiled egg, Kamado Joe, Scotch egg, smoker

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 pound ground breakfast sausage
  • 1-2 tablespoons sweet barbecue rub
  • 12 slices bacon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup barbecue sauce

Instructions

  • Preheat your smoker or oven to 225 degrees. (Use a lighter flavored wood; we used pecan in ours.)
  • Place the eggs in a saucepan large enough for them all to fit in a single layer and fill with cold water until they are all just covered.
  • Place the saucepan on the stove over high heat. Once the water boils, turn off the heat (leave the pan on the burner), cover with a lid, and let the eggs sit for five minutes. Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl by filling it with ice and cold water. Carefully remove the eggs from the pan with a slotted spoon and submerge them in the cold water for another five minutes before peeling them. Set them aside.
  • Divide the pound of sausage into six even balls.
  • To assemble, flatten one of the balls of sausage into a disc in your palm. Carefully place the egg in the center and then wrap the sausage evenly around the egg, making sure it is completely covered. Sprinkle a healthy amount of barbecue rub onto the sausage-wrapped egg, and then finish off by wrapping two slices of bacon around it. Set the finished Scotch egg aside and repeat to complete all six eggs.
  • Place the eggs in the refrigerator until the smoker/oven is ready. When ready, place the eggs onto the grates of your smoker or on a aluminum-foil-lined baking sheet in your oven. Let the eggs cook for about one hour, turning them at least once during the cook time to let them evenly crisp. (They’re done when the sausage reaches 160 degrees.)
  • During the last 10 minutes, glaze the eggs with the barbecue sauce.
  • Serve with additional barbecue sauce or along with breakfast fixin’s.

These turned out great. They’re extremely filling, because they’re packed with a ton of protein between the eggs, sausage and bacon. We did try them both with and without the barbecue sauce, and I recommend using it. The glaze was really nice and added a great flavor to the eggs.

Also, these did reheat OK from the fridge later in the week, but they were much better fresh off the smoker. You could also accomplish these in your oven, although you’ll really be missing out if they don’t have that smoked flavor.

I’m not sure the Brits would approve of this Americanized version of Scotch eggs, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it. I figure we stopped paying attention to British judgement a long time ago.

This piece first appeared in print on Sept. 1, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

Etouffee is easy to make and ‘shrimp’ly delicious

Shrimp etouffee is made with an easy, homemade stock and lots of fresh vegetables to create a spicy, filling meal.

I’m of the opinion that any dish named using its French term immediately sounds 1,000 times fancier.

Souffles (puffed up egg dishes) and fondue sovoyarde (cheese dip) and crème brulee (custard topped with burnt sugar) all sound infinitely luxurious. Even foie gras (duck liver pate) almost sounds appetizing.

Shrimp etouffee is another of those dishes. “Etouffee” just means “smothered” in French, but having never tried it, I was sure it was way too complicated to create in my own kitchen.

It turns out I was very wrong about that, and not only is shrimp etouffee relatively simple to create, it’s delicious, too.

The recipe I used comes from the blog “Chili Pepper Madness” by Mike Hultquist. You can find the original post at https://www.chilipeppermadness.com/recipes/shrimp-etouffee/. I added extra veggies, garlic and seasoning in my version.

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Shrimp Etouffee

Shrimp etouffee is made with an easy, homemade stock and lots of fresh vegetables to create a spicy, filling meal.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Cajun, Creole
Keyword cajun seasoning, celery, Creole seasoning, crushed tomatoes, fresh thyme, green bell pepper, hot sauce, shrimp, spicy, white rice, Worcestershire, yellow onion

Ingredients

  • 1 pound shrimp shelled (keep shells for stock)
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil divided
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 green bell peppers diced (keep scraps for stock)
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion diced (keep scraps for stock)
  • 4 stalks celery diced (keep scraps for stock)
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 15 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Creole or Cajun seasoning, divided
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 1 tablespoon of your favorite hot sauce I used Chipotle Tabasco
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooked white rice for serving

Instructions

  • Heat one tablespoon of oil in a pot over medium heat. Start by prepping your shrimp and vegetables. Toss all vegetable scraps, along with the shrimp shells into the oil. Cook the shells and scraps for about five minutes, stirring regularly, until the vegetable scraps are softened. Add the chicken stock to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the solids out of the stock and set the stock aside while you make the sauce.
  • In a stock pot or Dutch oven, heat three tablespoons oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the flour and stir to create a paste. Continue stirring constantly for about 10 minutes or until the roux reaches a light brown color. (Don’t let the roux burn. If it does, discard it and start over.)
  • Add the diced peppers, onion and celery. Cook for about five minutes or until the vegetables are starting to soften.
  • Add the tomatoes, along with their juices, and the garlic and saute for another minute.
  • Stir in the stock you made earlier, making sure to break up any clumps of flour. Once everything is mixed well, stir in two tablespoons Creole seasoning, Worcestershire, hot sauce, thyme and salt and pepper.
  • Let the mixture simmer for at least 20 minutes before serving, regularly stirring to keep anything from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  • While the sauce simmers, heat one tablespoon of oil in a skillet. Season the shrimp with one teaspoon of the Creole seasoning, and saute them in the hot oil, one or two minutes per side, until they are cooked through.
  • Serve the sauce over the rice and top with shrimp.

We absolutely loved this. I was a little nervous about making shrimp stock, but it was super easy, and it added a ton of flavor to the overall dish. It was also good and spicy. If you’re not much of a spice fan, you might decrease the Creole seasoning when you make it, but we thought it had exactly the right amount of heat. I also used chicken stock to make the rice to go with this, and I think that added even more depth of flavor.

And in addition to making something delicious, I have enjoyed mentioning to people that I made such a fancy-sounding meal. I might have to give some more French dishes a try…minus the duck livers.

This piece first appeared in print on Aug. 25, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Appetizer Side Dish

You won’t want to hush about this week’s southern dish

Homemade hushpuppies are a pretty easy side dish to create.

This summer, we have had the privilege of welcoming an intern from the University of Kansas into our newsroom.

It’s amazing how quickly someone can go from being a stranger to being part of the family, and that’s definitely been the case with Will. So, with his final day looming this week, Joey and I decided to have him over for dinner to treat him to a home-cooked meal and thank him for all of his work this summer.

I sent him a text message before setting the menu, double checking that he didn’t have any allergies or major dislikes before I started planning, and he gave me a carte blanche to do whatever I liked.

As anyone who knows me is aware, that can be a bit dangerous, but after some pondering and discussion, Joey and I decided it was going to be Cajun night at the Youngs, mostly because Joey has been craving some hushpuppies lately.

I’ll share the other recipes from the weekend with you in future columns, but I wanted to start with those hushpuppies, because they were absolutely delicious and actually way easier to make than I ever would have thought.

The recipe I used comes from the blog “Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchen.” You can find her original post at https://www.melissassouthernstylekitchen.com/hushpuppies/. I added extra seasonings in my version.

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Hushpuppies

Homemade hushpuppies are a pretty easy side dish to create.
Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Keyword cornmeal, fried, garlic powder, hushpuppies, Old Bay, onion powder, seafood seasoning, yellow onion

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons seafood seasoning I used Old Bay
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk or regular milk with a splash of vinegar
  • 1 yellow onion minced
  • 4 to 6 cups canola or vegetable oil

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, seafood seasoning, salt, garlic powder and onion powder and stir until everything is well combined.
  • In a small bowl, beat the egg with the buttermilk, and then add the mixture to the larger bowl, mixing until all of the dry ingredients are evenly moistened.
  • Fold in the minced onion, and then set the mixture aside.
  • In a stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. (You’ll want to put enough oil in the pot to make it a couple inches deep.) Using a two-inch ice cream scoop or a large spoon, carefully drop the batter into the hot oil. (I was able to do about five hushpuppies at a time in my pot.) As the hushpuppies cook, slide a slotted spoon underneath them to make sure they’re not sticking to the bottom.
  • Let them fry, turning them to let them evenly brown, for about four minutes or until your hushpuppies have reached your desired color.
  • Carefully remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on a paper-towel-lined plate. Sprinkle them with a little more seafood seasoning, if desired.
  • Wait until the oil is back to 350 degrees, and repeat until you have used all of the batter.
  • Serve hot.

These were everything Joey had been dreaming of, and he was super excited with how they turned out. I was, too. They were a little sweet but also had fabulous onion flavor without it being overwhelming, and they were a great side dish.

Truth be told, I could probably just eat a plate of them for dinner by themselves, too.

We ended up having a wonderful dinner together with Will, and we’ll be sorry to see him go back home this week. He’s been a great addition to our crew. Maybe someday we’ll be able to entice him into coming back and working with us again. I mean, at least he knows he’ll eat well.

This piece first appeared in print on Aug. 18, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Side Dish

Everyone will want to ‘congri’gate around your table for this dish

Congri is a beans and rice dish from Cuba. Some argue that traditional congri can’t be made with black beans, but this mixture was good enough that you probably won’t care.

An article by Eliana Rivero goes into great detail about some of the cultural dishes of Cuba, including a dish I decided to try for this week’s column, congri.

According to Rivero, “The name comes from the Creole French words congo and ris (beans and rice) to produce what today is widely consumed by Cubans in the diaspora (and in their Louisiana variation, Cajun red beans and rice).”

Except, after reading Rivero’s article, I discovered that there’s a lot of back and forth amongst Cubans about what actually constitutes congri. Some people, like her, claim it must be made with red beans, and others claim it can be made with black.

So, I’m putting it out there now that while what I made—a delicious black beans and rice dish—may not be considered congri by all Cubans, what I can promise is that it’s absolutely worth a try.

This comes from the website “Food52.” You can find the original post and a great personal story about the dish by Taryn Pire at https://food52.com/recipes/83081-congri-cuban-black-beans-and-rice. I doubled the seasonings in my version.

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Congri

Congri is a beans and rice dish from Cuba. Some argue that traditional congri can't be made with black beans, but this mixture was good enough that you probably won't care.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Cuban
Keyword adobo, bay leaves, black beans, chorizo, congri, cumin, garlic, green bell pepper, white rice, yellow onion

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 large green bell peppers diced
  • 1 medium yellow union diced
  • 8 to 10 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 9 to 12 ounces chorizo
  • 4 cups white rice
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons adobo seasoning
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • The day before you cook your beans, rinse them well. Add them to a stock pot and add water until there’s about one inch covering them. Bring the pot to a boil, then remove them from heat, place a lid on the pot, and let them sit undisturbed until the next day.
  • When you’re ready to cook the beans, add more water to the pot—again, to about one inch covering them. Add the bay leaves and bring the pot to a boil. Turn the heat to a simmer and place the lid on the pot. (They’ll need to cook for 45 to 70 minutes.) Check the beans every 15 minutes or so to make sure there is still plenty of water in the pot. Add more, if necessary.
  • While the beans cook, heat the olive oil in another large stock pot over medium heat. Saute the peppers and onions until they are cooked through. Add the chorizo, chopping it up as it cooks. When the chorizo is nearly cooked through, add the garlic and uncooked rice. Stir well.
  • Add in the cumin and adobo, stir well, and then remove the mixture from the heat until the beans are cooked through. (To test the beans, fish one out, let it cool, and try it. You want it to be easy to bite without being complete mush.)
  • When the beans are done, remove them from the heat. Drain the beans, but reserve six cups of the bean broth (if there isn’t enough, add water until you get six cups). Discard the bay leaves. Add the bean broth and beans to the pot with the rice.
  • Bring the pot to a boil, put the burner on low, and place a lid on the pot. Let the mixture simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Stir the mixture well. If the mixture is soupy, let it cook a bit longer, with the lid off, to evaporate the liquid to your desired level. Generally, congri is a drier dish, with little to no liquid. Add salt to taste and serve.

This was flavorful and super delicious. It makes a ton, too. I made a batch and a half and couldn’t even fit all of it into my large crockpot for a group meal we had.

It’s perfect as a side dish, especially with something that has some sauce with it—like enchiladas or chili con carne. You can also eat it alone, although I’d think it would be best with a little salsa added to the mix.

I may not have actually accomplished historically accurate congri, but I did manage to create a delicious dish with plenty of leftovers for us to enjoy for the rest of the week, so I’m not going to worry too much about labels.

This piece first appeared in print on Aug. 11, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert

Make their tummies ‘rum’ble with tropical cake

Cuban rum cake is a light, flavorful dessert with fresh whipped cream, toasted coconut, pineapple, and of course, a homemade rum sauce that is brushed over the entire cake.

We were able to spend a fantastic evening with some great folks this past week for a celebration of Christmas in July.

We hosted the meal last year, so it was our friends’, Adam and Samantha’s, turn to do it this year. They decided to celebrate the theme of the night by creating an entire menu of Cuban food.

As will be no surprise, I volunteered to make dessert, and after lots of online research, I decided to try a light, fruity cake—with a bit of rum included for good measure.

This recipe comes from the company site for Imperial Sugar and was written by Chef Eddy Van Damme, who has the nickname of the “Prince of Pastry.” You can find the original post at https://www.imperialsugar.com/recipes/cuban-rum-cake. I adjusted some of the ingredients a bit in my version.

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Cuban Rum Cake

Cuban rum cake is a light, flavorful dessert with fresh whipped cream, toasted coconut, pineapple, and of course, a homemade rum sauce that is brushed over the entire cake.
Course Dessert
Keyword cake, coconut, Cuban dessert, Cuban food, dark rum, orange juice, pineapple, vanilla, whipped cream

Ingredients

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk or milk with a touch of vinegar
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut

Rum Sauce

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/8 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light or dark rum I used dark
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Filling

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 8 ounces pineapple sliced or in chunks in juice

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare two eight- or nine-inch round cake pans by buttering and flouring them. Set them aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, for about 30 seconds each.
  • Beat in the salt, baking powder and vanilla. Beat in the buttermilk and cake flour, alternating between them.
  • Split the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let the cakes cool for at least 10 minutes before removing them from the pans by inverting them onto plates and setting them aside to cool completely.
  • Turn the oven off, but spread the coconut on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper and place it in the oven for about five minutes or until the coconut is lightly browned. Set it aside.
  • For the rum sauce, combine the butter, orange juice, sugar, rum and vanilla in a sauce pan, and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Let it boil for two minutes, then remove from heat. Set the mixture aside to cool.
  • When the cakes are cooled, prepare the filling. Beat the cream, vanilla and sugar on high speed until stiff peaks form. If necessary, prepare the pineapple by cutting it into bite-sized chunks.
  • To assemble the cake, place the first cake on your serving plate and prick the entire surface with a toothpick.
  • Brush half of the rum sauce onto the cake, letting it soak in. (This might take a moment.) Spread about one-fourth of the whipped cream onto the cake and top with the pineapple. Place the second cake on top and repeat the process with the rum sauce before coating the entire cake with the rest of the whipped cream. Finish the cake off by sprinkling it with the toasted coconut.
  • Keep the cake refrigerated until you’re ready to serve.

This was absolutely delicious and received rave reviews from the group. There wasn’t much left of the cake, despite all of us overindulging beforehand on an amazing meal. It had great tropical flavor, and even if the rum part scares you a bit, I’d say go for it. It definitely did not feature a “boozy” taste. Instead, the rum amplified the orange and pineapple flavors.

There are few things better than sharing a good meal with a good group, and this weekend was no exception. As summer is starting to wind down, it was a wonderful way to wrap up a busy July.

This piece first appeared in print on Aug. 4, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert

‘Galette’ yourself enjoy some tasty, fruit-filled pastry

Strawberry rhubarb galettes are a great summer dessert. The combination of tart rhubarb, sweet strawberries, bright lemon and warm cinnamon creates the perfect sweet to share with guests.

I had a great dinner night with my family over the weekend.

After going out for some greasy food, topped off with ice cream and helping my niece extract every last quarter from my purse so she could eventually win a tiny stuffed turtle from a claw machine, I headed back to my parents’ house, where I spied their ever overflowing garden of rhubarb.

This led, of course, to me climbing over the short fence with a paring knife, ready to extract a dozen nearly two-foot-long stalks to take home to my kitchen. It didn’t even look like I made a dent when I was done, and Mom implored me to come back for more later if I decided I needed some.

In the past, I made my grandma’s rhubarb cake with my garden haul. (It’s on my website if you haven’t tried it. It’s delicious.) This time, I figured I should try something new with at least some of my harvest and stumbled on a great recipe for galettes—basically roughly shaped pies.

This comes from the website for the Mill City Farmers Market out of Minneapolis. It was created by Shahreen Ahmed. You can find the original post at https://millcityfarmersmarket.org/recipes/mini-strawberry-rhubarb-galettes/. I added cinnamon in my version.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Galettes

Strawberry rhubarb galettes are a great summer dessert. The combination of tart rhubarb, sweet strawberries, bright lemon and warm cinnamon creates the perfect sweet to share with guests.
Course Dessert
Keyword cinnamon, galette, lemon zest, pie, rhubarb, strawberry, tart

Ingredients

Crust Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup very cold butter cubed
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup very cold water

Filling Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries quartered
  • 2 cups fresh rhubarb cut into half-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • zest from one lemon
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Other ingredients

  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • additional flour as needed

Instructions

  • For the dough, combine the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor. Pulse a few times to start combining the ingredients and then pour in the water and vinegar. Turn the processor on high and process until the dough pulls away from the sides into a ball. (If it stays wet and sticky, keep adding flour, a little at a time, until the dough comes together.)
  • Split the dough into four even pieces, form them into small discs, and wrap each with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator over night or for at least an hour until the dough is completely cold.
  • When you’re ready to make the galettes, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by greasing it or lining it with parchment paper.
  • Combine the filling ingredients in a large bowl. Stir until the dry ingredients are well distributed through all the fruit.
  • On a well-floured surface, roll out the first dough disc into a rough circle shape to about 1/8-inch thickness. (Keep picking it up and adding more flour underneath as you roll. It will make picking up the filled galette way easier.)
  • Once it’s rolled out, spoon one-fourth of the fruit mixture into the middle of the circle. Roughly fold the sides in about about an inch all the way around.
  • Carefully transfer the galette to the baking sheet. Repeat with the other pieces of dough.
  • In a small bowl, beat the egg with one tablespoon of water, and brush all of the pastry on the galettes.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
  • Let cool before slicing and serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

I waited until the galettes were just cool enough to extract from my baking sheet, and we ate them warm. They would have been fabulous with vanilla ice cream.

There was just enough sweetness from the rest of the ingredients in the filling to cut the tartness of the rhubarb, but its flavor still shone through. It was a great dessert.

I still have a glut of rhubarb in my fridge and a lack of quarters in my purse, but it made for the perfect weekend.

This piece first appeared in print on July 28, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert

Make ’em go ‘coco’nuts for fudgy, layered brownies

Coconut brownies feature a top and bottom layer of fudgy, flavorful brownies sandwiching a sweet, light coconut layer in between.

This weekend, I stumbled on an article by Gabrielle Drolet called, “In Defence of Garlic in a Jar: How Food Snobs Almost Ruined My Love of Cooking.”

It’s a long read, but Drolet makes the point that cooking shortcuts are a great way to make the kitchen more accessible to people who have disabilities.

She mentions—but doesn’t elaborate on—the fact that some people use them for the sake of time, too. The opinion piece addresses the idea that so many food shows and blogs and posts push the concept that there are “right” and “wrong” ways to prepare food, and some of those opinions end up discouraging less experienced cooks from even attempting to try something new.

Personally, I’ve moved beyond my need to always follow every recipe to the letter, and as I have continued to experiment, I’ve learned which rules need to be followed and which ones can be ignored.

This week, for example, I decided not to both line my cake pan with parchment and spray it with cooking spray. I decided not to mix my wet and dry ingredients separately and then carefully mix them together with a wooden spoon. I decided to ignore the directive to coat my chocolate chips with flour before incorporating them into the batter.

And I still ended up with some delicious brownies—rules be darned—and I’m sharing the result with you so you can end up with a great pan of dessert, too, in spite of any rule-breaking behavior.

This comes from the blog “Spaceships and Laser Beams.” You can find the original post at https://spaceshipsandlaserbeams.com/coconut-brownies/. I added extra vanilla and chocolate chips in my version, along with simplifying the instructions.

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Coconut Brownies

Coconut brownies feature a top and bottom layer of fudgy, flavorful brownies sandwiching a sweet, light coconut layer in between.
Course Dessert
Keyword brownies, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, coconut, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla

Ingredients

Brownie Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 rounded cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Coconut Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare an eight-by-eight-inch baking pan by spraying it with cooking spray.
  • For the brownie layer, in a mixing bowl, beat the sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Beat in the flour, cocoa powder and salt until everything is combined, and then stir in the chocolate chips.
  • For the coconut layer, combine the coconut flakes, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt in a bowl. Stir until all of the components are well combined.
  • To assemble, spread half of the brownie batter evenly in the bottom of your prepared pan. Next, gently spread all of the coconut layer evenly over the brownie layer. Finish off with an even layer of the rest of the brownie batter.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top of the brownies looks set up and is just starting to pull away from the edges of the pan.
  • Let the brownies cool completely before slicing so they fully set up. Store them in an airtight container.

These are super rich and really fudgy. The pan I made ended up being demolished at the office to rave reviews.

Based on the lovely photos on the blog that provided me with this recipe, I’d assume the author loves to follow rules—using her flour sifter, wooden spoons and multitude of mixing bowls for each recipe she makes—and that’s OK.

We all have our own style in the kitchen. Some people get joy from the extra steps. Some, like me, get joy from eliminating as many hand-wash-only dishes as possible from the process.

In the end, we all like to create, share and eat, and that’s really all that matters—jarred garlic or not.

This piece first appeared in print on July 21, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

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