Thursday, May 24, 2012

Major Guilt Trip

Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, released her second cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks Food From My Frontier, a while ago.  I received a copy to review and life got in the way and I never blogged about it.  I feel terribly guilty about that. I rarely accept books because of how my life goes but I couldn't resist this one of course and then I dropped the ball.   I'm going to tell you about it anyway and hopefully I will learn to love myself again.  It's not too late to pick up a copy.  It's never too late! That's the one good thing about cookbooks is that you'll never see the movie before you read the book.

I don't think you should mess with a winning formula when you have one so I was happy to see that Ree's second book was similar to the first. I find with popular cookbook authors that sometimes the cookbooks become a little less authentic as they crank them out but this one is still just what you would expect from The Pioneer Woman. I pulled both books out and put them side by side.

This book has the same gorgeous photography with step-by-step pictures of each recipe. You won't ever find yourself wondering if Ree tested all of these recipes because the proof is there right in front of you. If you read the Pioneer Woman blog, you know what to expect. These are recipes that are mostly directly from the blog. If you don't read her blog, why the heck aren't you reading her blog???

I think a lot of what I said when I reviewed the first Pioneer Woman cookbook could be said again. I think she has a nice mix of recipes - some that are nothing new, some with a twist but you do not necessarily buy Ree's books for the recipes. They are fantastic recipes but she freely gives those on her blog. In her books she gives you a gorgeous photographs, stories and humor to go along with the recipes. Wait, she gives you those on the blog too.  If you don't understand the benefit of feeling a book in your hands, I feel sorry for you.  Okay, maybe not that sorry. You probably have more living space than I do.

Anyway, if you like cookbooks full of solid recipes, beautiful and abundant color-photography, humor and heart, both Pioneer Woman cookbooks are a must-have.

I made the Restaurant-Style Salsa and I may never buy salsa again.  So easy!  So good!  So pound-adding since I know there are a million ways to eat salsa but none compare to eating it with fried tortilla chips.

And when I had the first cookbook out, I made her Chocolate Sheetcake. I didn't get a picture but that was a HUGE hit as well. I left out the nuts.  It was incredibly moist. 

Okay, I feel better now.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cupcakes? Cupcookies?: Quick and Easy Cupcakes

Quick and Easy Cupcakes
Mom and Me Cookbook 2005

2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup self-rising flour

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and beat together until the mixture is smooth and slightly lighter in color.
2. Line a muffin pan with muffin papers and half-fill each paper with the cupcake batter.
3. Bake the cakes for 18 to 20 minutes. You can tell they are done when they have risen up, are golden in color, and spring back into shape when pressed. Makes 12 cupcakes.

This was definitely a quick and easy cupcake recipe.  However, they came out more like soft cookies.  I would expect a bit more liquid in a cake recipe.  From the reviews I am sensing the recipes in this cookbook can't be trusted 100%.  That annoys me in any cookbook but I especially dislike it in a children's cookbook.  I hate to see children disappointed.

I wouldn't call these cupcakes a disappointment (unlike one of Nick's previous kid's cookbook experiences).  They were a hit with the kids and I liked that the recipe only made 12 cupcakes.  These were on the small side which is nice since these were for around the house and small is good when it comes to sweet snacks for the boys.  Cookie, cupcake - doesn't really matter here - the flavor was good, the texture was just not what one would expect in a cupcake.

They have a copy of this cookbook in the kitchen play area at Dan's preschool and I thought it was cute so I bought a copy for our home. I have a soft spot for kid's cookbooks. Some are mainly for reading, looking at the pictures and education (healthy eating being the main thrust of most kid's cookbooks these days).  Others have more potential to actually make it into the kitchen (but, mostly we just look at them).

This particular recipe caught my eye due to using self-rising flour and I had picked up a bag of it off the clearance rack. I find a lot of cookbooks that were originally published overseas (specifically the UK where this book originates) tend to call for self-rising flour.  Yes, yes, I know you can always substitute but I too lazy to do that.

I am still searching for cupcake recipes, both yellow and chocolate, that satisfy me.  I probably never will - I am not an 'edge' cake eater and cupcakes are mostly edge.  But boxed mixes produce such lovely soft cupcakes, through and through. Why is that so hard to duplicate at home???

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Worth the fuss: Macaroon Marble Cake

Macaroon Marble Cake
1989 Hometown Collection America's Best Recipes Copyright 1989

1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup sugar
4 eggs, separated and divided
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
3/4 cup hot water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup commercial sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (7-ounce) package flaked coconut
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Chocolate Glaze

Cream shortening; gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, beating well at medium speed of an electric mixer. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Dissolve cocoa and instant coffee granules in hot water; add half of cocoa mixture to egg yolk mixture alternately with 2 cups flour, beginning and ending with flour. Combine sour cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla, baking soda and salt in a small mixing bowl, stirring well; add to batter with remaining half of cocoa mixture.

Beat 3 egg whites (at room temperature) in a large bowl at high speed of an electric mixer 1 minute or until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves (2 to 4 minutes). Gently fold meringue mixture into batter.

Beat 1 egg white (at room temperature) in a medium bowl at high speed 1 minute or until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves. Gently stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla, coconut, and 1 tablespoon flour.

Spoon half of batter into a greased 10-inch tube pan. Sprinkle with coconut mixture. Top with remaining batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cook in pan 10 minutes; remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Drizzle Chocolate Glaze over top of cake.

Chocolate Glaze 1 (6-ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate morsels 1 tablespoon shortening 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract Combine all ingredients in top of a double boiler; bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook until chocolate melts. Use immediately.

I made this cake a while ago so the details are fuzzy but I seem to recall things going wrong - the egg whites did not want to form stiff peaks and the glaze, which I tried to take a short-cut with and used the microwave, was too thick to drizzle so I just spread it over the top. It was a fussy recipe and I wasn't confident that the results were going to be worth it.

This did turn out to be a very good cake.  The recipe is well conceived - the cake itself is not very sweet, which is a nice contrast to the sweet filling. The only problem with this cake is that it doesn't  hold up to time very well. It's best immediately and the day after but then it gets a bit dry. 

I give up on ever thinking I will blog regularly again.  Whenever I feel I might, something happens.  This last time I had a break-in during the night, with the kids here.  Thankfully the neighbors heard him but he still got away with my purse.  What a pain in the you-know-what it was to replace all my credit cards, license, checks, etc.  Fortunately he didn't take my Kitchen Aid Mixer!