Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Peach Pudding Cake

Whenever I visit my mom in Washington, we always have a Girls' Night and invite my aunt and cousins over to eat, have girly drinks, chat, and watch a movie.  Usually my mom and I cook something.  This time, she chose the recipes.  Together we made a delicious roasted green chile and corn lasagna (still need to get the recipe from her!) and I made this hideous yet delicious cake.  The recipe is from a restaurant called Hyde Park Bar & Grill and was featured in Bon Appetit a number of years ago.  It's probably the ugliest dessert you will ever make- sorry there aren't any pictures, just trust me- but it's also one of the most amazing ones!  Wonderful fresh peaches, a hint of cinnamon (which was entirely my doing, the recipe doesn't call for cinnamon sugar), and perfect, moist cake.  It's heart breakingly old fashioned and absolutely a must try recipe.  And if you really must, you can cover the ugliness with whipped cream or ice cream :oD

Quick note:  A great way to peel peaches is to bring a big pot of water to a boil and submerge the peaches, one or two at a time, for about 30 seconds to a minute for ripe peaches or up to 3 minutes for less ripe peaches.  Scoop the peaches out of the water with a slotted spoon, let them cool (you can speed this along by dunking them in cold water), and the skins will slip right off.

Peach Pudding Cake

1 3/4 C flour
2 1/4 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
3/4 C softened butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 3/4 C sugar
2 T vanilla extract (yes, 2 tablespoons!)
2 eggs
3/4 C buttermilk
4 C peeled, sliced peaches (about 3 lbs- I just covered the entire surface of the cake with peaches)
3 T sugar
1/2 t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9 by 13 inch baking dish as well as a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover the top.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda, and set aside.  In a medium bowl, beat butter until creamy.  Beat in sugar in 3 additions.  Beat in vanilla extract, then eggs one at a time.  Alternately mix in dry ingredients and buttermilk in 3 additions each.  Batter should be smooth.  Spread batter in prepared baking dish and cover with a layer of peaches.  Don't worry too much about whether they're arranged prettily because they will sink to the bottom of the cake!  Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on top. 

Cover the baking dish with the foil and bake for 45 minutes, then remove foil (don't worry if some of the cake sticks, like I said earlier it is an ugly cake!) and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 to 40 minutes longer.  If your cake turns out anything like mine, the surface in the middle will look shiny and raw even when it's baked through, so start testing the cake after 20 minutes!  Let cake set for about 15 minutes and then serve warm.

Yield: about 12 servings

Friday, August 3, 2012

Beer Mac and Cheese

Alright, time to play catch up with my backlog of recipes that need to be posted!  This one is for Beer Mac and Cheese.  One of our favorite restaurants has an amazing beer cheese soup on the menu, and we love the Welsh Rabbit I make for Easter every year, so my mac and cheese loving brain logically made the leap between those dishes and mac and cheese.  I pretty much winged the recipe and the sauce was based on the one from Welsh Rabbit.  Got the idea for the pretzel topping from this recipe on AllRecipes.

The resulting mac and cheese was divine.  The amount of beer flavor was perfect, and it was nice and cheesy.  And the pretzel topping?  Also great!  By only broiling individual servings with the pretzels, the mac and cheese stayed nice and saucy without getting gritty, and leftovers didn't suffer from mushy topping since.  I just reheated it in the microwave, stirred in a little milk to keep it creamy, then sprinkled the individual bowls with a bit more cheddar and the pretzel topping before tossing the bowls under the broiler with the topping.  What could be better?

Beer Mac and Cheese

12 oz macaroni
3 T butter
2 T flour
1 1/4 C milk
3/4 C wheat beer (I used Pyramid Hefeweizen)
2 t Worcestershire sauce
2 t dijon mustard
3/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t paprika
3 C grated sharp cheddar

extra grated cheddar

1/2 C roughly crushed pretzels
2 T melted butter
1/4 C parmesan cheese
1/4 t dried parsley

 Boil macaroni in a large pot of lightly salted water.  Drain, return to the pot, cover the pot so the macaroni stays warm, and set it aside. While the macaroni cooks, make the sauce.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add flour.  Whisk until golden, about 1 minute.  Add the milk, about 1/4 C at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition.  When all the milk has been added, pour in the beer all at once and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in the Worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and paprika.  Bring sauce to a simmer and cook about 2 minutes until thickened, whisking the whole time.  Remove sauce from heat (this is important!) and stir in the grated cheese until melted.  Add the sauce to the pot with the drained pasta and stir to combine.

Preheat the broiler and move the oven rack to the highest position.  To make the topping, just toss together everything but the extra grated cheddar in a small bowl.  Spoon macaroni and cheese into either individual broiler safe dishes or into 1 larger dish.  Sprinkle with a bit of cheddar, then the topping.  Place under broiler and broil until golden brown, being sure not to walk away or it could burn!  This should only take a couple of minutes.

Enjoy!  This is great with Cucumber Dill Salad.

Yield:  About 8 servings.

Cucumber Dill Salad

This recipe comes from an old cookbook of my grandmother's called The Magnolia Collection and is by Gene Westbrook (it's autographed, too!).  Let me give a bit of backstory:  My grandmother was born and raised in Kentucky and was a wonderful cook.  For every big family gathering, she would cook food for 40 or 50 people as if it were nothing.  Everything she made was delicious, too!  I honestly don't know her history with this particular cookbook.  Not even sure why I ended up with it after she died, but on one of my visits to my father in Louisiana, this book was waiting for my and my dad said one of his siblings had sent it to him to give to me.  The book itself is quite beat up and there are a few notes from her in margins so I think she used it a lot!  Although I've had the book for several years now, I'm sad to say I've only made 2 recipes from it even though so many of them look delicious.  However, both recipes- this one and a chicken salad recipe- are incredible and I make them a lot!

In the book, this recipe is listed in the Appetizers section and is called "Eloise's Cocktail Cucumbers."  Not sure who Eloise was or how exactly you're supposed to serve the cucumbers, but we just have them as a side dish.  I have altered the recipe so it has much less sugar than the original and it works out just great for a sweet, vinegary, dilly cucumber salad.  You can even make a big bowl of it and serve it 2 nights. 

Cucumber Dill Salad

1/4 C sugar
1/2 C white vinegar
1/4 C water
1 t salt
1 t dried dill
2 cucumbers, sliced thinly

Place everything but cucumbers in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cook until sugar has dissolved, which should only take a minute or so.  Pour over sliced cucumbers and toss to coat.  Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.  The recipe says to make 1 day ahead but they're actually still good warm, too!

Yield: About 4 servings