Thursday, November 27, 2008


As a kid, I don't think I fully understood Thanksgiving. What asked what I was thankful for one year, I said my dog. As a teenager, I don't think I ever said I was thankful for my family (I was rebellious). But now as an adult, living on my own, I'm thankful a lot of things- my family, friends, job, and my inner strength.
This year has been rough. Moving, breaking up, getting a job and in the beginning it all seemed so hard. I didn't know if I would make it sometimes, but I pushed through with the help of friends and family.
And while today, I will be working and missing from my family's table. I will be at a friends. Plus, a coworker and I are bringing in dinner for the people on duty. It won't be a feast by any means, but it is something. More than nothing.
I'm making my famous Upside-Down Butterscotch Apple Sour Cream Cake. I made it 2 years ago and was a huge hit among friends and family. I hope it will be the same here.

Upside-Down Butterscotch Apple Sour Cream Cake
(Bon Appetit)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup baker's sugar (superfine sugar) or regular sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)

Butterscotch-caramel apples

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/3 cup butterscotch morsels
2 8-ounce Golden Delicious apples, peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

For cake:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Gradually add sugar and beat until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until blended. Beat in flour mixture, then sour cream. Stir in chopped apple. Set aside while preparing butterscotch-caramel apples.

For butterscotch-caramel apples:
Melt butter in 10-inch-diameter nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add brown sugar and butterscotch morsels; stir until melted and smooth and mixture is bubbling, about 2 minutes. Add apple slices to skillet and cook until golden brown, using tongs to turn slices, about 3 minutes per side (there will be a lot of liquid in skillet). Remove skillet from heat and let cool 3 minutes. Using tongs, arrange apple slices in skillet in concentric circles or other pattern.

Carefully spoon cake batter in small dollops atop apples in skillet. Using offset spatula, gently spread batter evenly to edges of skillet (batter will seem to float on top of apples and pan juices). Bake until cake is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in skillet 10 minutes. Run knife around edges of cake to loosen. Place large platter atop skillet. Using oven mitts or pot holders, hold platter and skillet firmly together and invert, allowing cake to settle onto platter. Serve cake warm.

Monday, November 10, 2008

No 60 minute Thanksgiving dinners...

I'm sorry to disappoint Ms. Rachael Ray, but her 60 minute Thanksgiving dinner took almost 2 hours for me to make. No help, just me, myself and the ingredients.
Now why would I take on such a feat?
Well, because I've never made Thanksgiving dinner and I wanted to know if you could really do it in 60 minutes. So I gathered up the ingredients and tore up the kitchen to see if I could do it.
I begun where the magazine said to start, blanching the green beans and starting on the potatoes. Check Check. Bird in oven, check. Start on chopping for stuffing. Back to green beans. I started to get mixed up with which dish I was working on and what hadn't been done. My brain was getting frazzled. I knew 20 minutes in this wasn't going to work. So I began going dish by dish, getting each one done.
I was ahead for about 30 minutes and then I got slammed. The trifle and potatoes came back to back, plus I was going back and forth between her minute-to-minute list to her recipes because I had found errors during prepping that I wanted to weed out.
For example, Ray's original turkey recipe said to let it rest for 20 minutes but in the minute-to-minute list the bird rested for 8. Where did the other 12 minutes go?
Plus it didn't help that I did not have enough counter space or any help. I decided to go it alone.
Sixty minutes hit, the turkey was still raw and I had just begun on mashing the potatoes. Albeit 3 dishes had yet to be completed, 2 were.
Another 15 minutes go by, the dessert and the potatoes are completed. What's left is the bird. I didn't use a thermometer, I did it by touch and luckily (as usual) I was right. The bird was done.
And while I may not have been able to do it in 60, I did do it 90. And this is mainly due to the fact that the bird was still partially frozen when I put it in the oven. It was the last thing to come out. If it had been dethawed I think I could have shaved 15 minutes off, but that would be cutting resting time.
My companion, who watched me, enjoyed the entertainment and the meal. The potatoes is what she loved the most and I concur, but who doesn't love potatoes.
Now I just wonder is Ms. Ray even doing her meals in 30 minutes and what to do with the leftovers?

Orange and white potatoes
(adapted from Rachael Ray November 2008 issue)
4 small russet potatoes
1 cubed sweet potato
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup of butter

Place russet potatoes in pot cover with water. Bring potatoes to boil After about 20 minutes add sweet potato. Cook until tender, drain water into colander. Place potatoes in bowl, mash with fork or other utensil. Mix in cream and butter. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cowboy cookies?

I am a cookie fan. Peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chip. Anything really. I do not discriminate against the cookie.
So last week, I talked to a friend for the first time in months and she said to me, "Jerry, I miss your cooking." I smiled and then felt guilty. She had yet to receive a Jerry package of goodies. I knew I had to rectify my shortcoming with something, so I hit the computer.
It seemed everything I found I a) have made 2) didn't want to buy the ingredients or c) had no interest in making. O.K. so maybe I was a little discriminatory. Then I remembered a recipe a friend had given me- Cowboy Cookies. When I heard about them, they intrigued me because I had never seen or heard of them before.
However, if you look at the recipe all they are, are just oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips, but I made them anyways. And they are a fabulous! Crunchy outside soft middle. The way I believe a cookie should be. Now if I can only part with them.

Cowboy Cookies

2 sticks butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 cups oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix together dry ingredients. Cream butter, then add sugars and cream some more. Add in eggs and vanilla, after that combines add in dry in spurts so that you don't have flour everywhere. Then add in raisin and chocolate chips, doll-up scoops unto a baking sheet and cook for 10-12 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!