Saturday, December 13, 2014

"Miracle" cleaners myth busted!

Every day, a new facebook post shows up in my feed about a miracle cleaner that will take care of the toughest kitchen cleaning tasks, so I decided to put a few to the test....I had a cookie sheet that my daughter had burned cookies looked like this to start:

One of the facebook miracle cures was to mix together baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to a paste, and let it sit for a while and the burned on grime is supposed to magically wipe away.   Other people swear that Barkeepers friend, a mild cleanser, would do the same I decided to give that a shot too:

On the top half of the pan, I put a paste of Barkeepers Friend, on the bottom, I spread out the paste of baking soda and peroxide:

....and then I let it sit for 4 hours.....the result????

Well I guess that wasn't the miracle I was looking for.   The only way I am going to get that pan clean is with a brillo pad.   Sorry, but this was no miracle.   Also, there's another one floating around where you clean your oven door glass with a mixture of Dawn dishwashing soap, vinegar and and baking soda.   I tried that one too and it doesn't work.   The only thing that will work is putting the oven in self cleaning mode.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Whiffletree Recipes

In my effort to preserve recipes from favorite Michigan restaurants, I'm posting a couple from one of Ann Arbor's favorites, the Whiffletree was on the corner of Huron and Ashley, and it burned down in the late 80s, before I lived here.   It was a favorite recipe of many locals; I am sorry I never had the chance to visit it.  Here are two recipes from Ann Arbor's Cookin' a Mott Children's Hospital fundraiser cookbook no longer in print.  I simplified them to make them more clear, but tried not to change them too much, however there are a few things I probably would do differently like just use egg yolks instead of the 2 whole eggs in the mousse. and fresh herbs in the gazpacho.

White Chocolate Mousse

3 c. vanilla wafers
1/2 c. butter, melted

In a food processor, process wafers until they are are crumbs.  Add melted butter and mix, press in the bottom of an 8 inch springform pan.

1 lb white chocolate
10 egg whites
4 c. heavy cream
2 whole eggs
4 egg yolks
3 oz. white creme de cacao

Chop white chocolate into small pieces and and in a medium size bowl, microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until melted.  Set aside to cool to 95 F.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the 10 egg whites until stiff,  Then separately whip the cream until stiff peaks form.  In the bowl with the melted chocolate,  add the whole eggs, egg yolks and cream de cacao and whisk until smooth.    Add some of the egg whites and whipped cream and whisk it a little more, then fold in the remaining egg whites.   Pour mixture onto the crust and freeze.

1 lb frozen raspberries, thawed and strained.  

Top mousse with raspberry sauce.

Chilled Gazpacho Soup

1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 small cucumbers, peeled and chopped
1 med. green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 t.. basil
1 t. oregano
1/2 t, thyme
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. vred wine vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
1 tt. salt
1/2 t. ground cumin
8 oz. black olives, diced
15 oz. can whole tomatoes
1 fresh roma tomato
1 46 oz. can tomato juice

In a blender, add all ingredients except tomatoes.  Let stand 1 hour.   Add tomatoes and tomato juice.   Serve chilled, garnished with a slice of avocado, a spear of cucumber, ctourons and a dab of sour cream.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Best Cranberry Sauce

I really like cranberry sauce, but unfortunately, I am the only one in the family that does so I get to eat a lot of it.    This year, I was looking for the perfect recipe - nothing exotic like curry powder in it, no pecans, something that could be eaten on it's own, because it would be something I'd be eating long after Thanksgiving Thursday.   My friend Karen had suggested one she makes every year from an old issue of Cooking Light , circa 2001.   Let's pause a moment and lament the demise of Cooking Light.....

I finally had to let my subscription lapse after a while.   It changed - became more of a "woman's magazine" talking about beauty and fashion and less about cooking and lifestyle.   I used to love reading that magazine cover to cover on the day it arrived.   It would talk about an apres ski get together that included mulled wine and a roaring fireplace and appetizers that tried to stay below their unwritten caloric threshold of about 300 calories.   I don't know why it was 300 calories, but that's what it seemed to be.  Granted, if you ate enough 300 calorie appetizers, the point would be moot but that didn't matter.   What they did well was conjure up an image in my head of good friends getting together with good food after some exercise.   I don't know what drove them to change their format; it could be that I was part of the vanishing breed that still liked their food/lifestyle/travel groove.   After all, that's what killed Gourmet Magazine.   It seemed they were shooting for the Real Simple (a magazine I despise) style of mag....short brief articles with good photography intended on selling stuff more than content.   These days, Cooking Light has become a  Real Simple clone, so I let it go.   But I have hope for the kind of food mag that I like....Saveur and Bon Appetit are still really good at telling me about food and lifestyle.   EatingWell has filled the void that Cooking Light left in the world.   And thank God Martha Stewart Living (1-year auto-renewal) fired Pilar Guzman - during her brief tenure there she tried to "Real Simplify" that magazine too but luckily they got back on the right track.

Okay, back to the CRANBERRY SAUCE.   The original Cooking Light version had apples in it, instead of pears, but pears are what I had so I went with it.  I also added apple cider, but water or any kind of fruit juice could be used. It came out delicious!  It goes well even as a side dish - it's not too sweet.  Envision yourself eating this with good friends following an afternoon of snow shoeing in the woods for a winter solstice celebration. Don't you  feel like you are in a Cooking Light article from 20 years ago? Cranberry sauce like this is too good to be served just on Thanksgiving.....

Cranberry Pear Sauce

1 1/2 cups chopped unpeeled cored and seeded pears
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer until thick (about 15 minutes), stirring occasionally. Cool completely.