Scarlet Letters

The not-so-private thoughts and rants of Elizabeth Donald, journalist/author and founder of the Literary Underworld.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Recipes By Request

Tis the season to cook until your family begs you to stop, the fridge is full already. I suppose I should be happy that the Boy snuck the green bean casserole out of the kitchen this morning, because nothing says "teenage boy breakfast" like vegetables. *shrug*

So here's a few recipes folks have requested! With special thanks to Mom for her recent visit, which gave me an excuse to cook a lot!

MIDNIGHT MASHED POTATOES

6 potatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. butter + 1/2 stick
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. sour cream
2 tbsp. parmesan
2 tbsp. chives
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. onion salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. fines herbes

Chop and boil potatoes until tender. I prefer my potatoes to still have some chunks to them, and I never peel them because I like the skins. So mine still have a little firmness to them when I'm done. If you like yours super-smooth, skin the potatoes before you chop them and boil them a little longer, until they break apart when you hit them with a spoon.

Meanwhile, saute garlic in 1 tbsp. butter. Drain potatoes and put in very large bowl. Drizzle garlic over potatoes and mash. Add remaining ingredients and blend with hand mixer until desired consistency is reached. You can use more butter; we like ours very buttery, so I end up using a whole stick of butter on a big batch.

Transfer to a casserole or large oven-safe dish and bake uncovered 35-40 mins. at 350 degrees.  While it's best right out of the oven, it microwaves perfectly, so you can make this in advance of a major meal and just warm it up if you need to. The potatoes can be eaten without baking, but I find it gives them a better texture and lets the flavors blend.

CHEESY ONION CASSEROLE

This recipe makes for a small casserole; my family adores this recipe, so I usually double it for a large pan (9x13) and they still devour it without leftovers. Downside: my hands smell like onions for two days no matter how much I wash.

3 tbsp. butter
3 large sweet onions (or 4 medium onions)
2 c. Swiss cheese (or 8 oz.)
1 can cream of chicken soup
2/3 c. milk
1 tsp. soy sauce
French bread

Slice onions; you can do rings, though I prefer long strips. Melt butter in very large saute pan over medium heat and add onions. You may need more butter; feel free to add as much as is necessary to saute the onions. Stir regularly until onions are clear with a little browning.

Meanwhile, head soup, milk and soy sauce in a saucepan until hot and well-mixed.

Layer onions in a casserole and top with 2/3 of the cheese. Shredded is best, but I have usually been abe to find slices only and just rip them into pieces (and I'm too lazy to shred a block of cheese; your mileage may vary). Dash a little pepper over the surface; I use white pepper with a bit of salt, but I'm not a pepper fan. Pour the soup mixture over the cheese.

Next slice the French bread into slices less than an inch thick. Layer them across the top of the casserole, making sure it's entirely covered.

Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for 15 mins. The tops of the bread slices should be nicely toasted. Carefully use the back of a spoon to push the bread slices under the surface of the sauce. Then top with the remaining cheese and bake another 15 mins.

CLAY POT WHEAT BREAD

Note: This recipe came with the small clay bread bowl I bought at an art fair. You will need something similar, or perhaps you can adapt it to your own smallish bread pan. I have no idea how it will bake without the clay bread bowl, so let me know how it works for you! The clay bowl works fanastically and is available from Clement Clayworks, if you're interested. 

2 c. flour
3 tbsp. milk
3 tbsp. oil
1 pkg. rapid rise yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 c. whole wheat flour
3 tbsp. sugar
3/4 c. hot water

The recipe actually calls for 3 tbsp. dry milk, but I never have that on hand and so I use regular milk. If you use dry milk, increase the hot water to 1 cup.

Combine 1 c. flour, yeast, sugar, milk and salt. Add hot water and oil and mix. Add whole wheat flour and mix. Gradually add the second cup of flour, mixing to create a stiff dough that pulls away from the mixing bowl.

On a floured surface, knead the dough for 2-4 mins. Let it rest for 10 mins., then roll it out in a rectangle. Roll up jellyroll fashion, pinch ends together, fold in half and stuff it in the clay pot.

Cover pot with a tea towel and let rise for 30-40 mins. DO NOT PREHEAT OVEN.

Place pot in cold oven. Set temperature to 350 and bake 25-35 mins. or until golden brown. Enjoy quickly; it dries out in a day or two. Remember: never put a clay bread bowl in a hot oven!

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