Good morning, good readers. As you rest, vacation and simply live life in the middle of summer, please tend to today's requests: Porter's creamed spinach, white wedding cake with almond extract, Thai crab cakes with lemon grass and an accompanying sauce and peach brandy made from fresh peaches.
Judy Jones is a fan of Porter's restaurant, where "everything always has been great. My request is for their version of creamed spinach, which is divine. I always have favored Calhoun's spinach Maria, but this is subtler and richer."
From a faraway beach came the next two requests. E.E. and her husband, E.E. too, have been married 19 years and still are regretting that they missed their own wedding cake, a delicious version that was "a white almond-flavored cake made by a Chattanooga cake maker. We have not been able to find a recipe for such a wedding pound cake."
Another couple sampled, on a trip to Thailand, Thai crab cakes made with rice and lemon grass, with a tasty sauce to accompany them. They solicit your help in making something similar right here at home.
Jim Webster has made peach brandy in the past "by putting skinned whole peaches in a quart Mason jar, filling it with sugar, screwing the lid on loosely and wrapping the jar in brown paper for several weeks while the yeasts did their work. I can't find the recipe; all other recipes include adding peach brandy to the mix, and I don't recall this. The result tasted like a peach liqueur, particularly good over vanilla ice cream."
Barbara found the following meringue recipe in a 2005 issue of Taste of the South, attributed to Frances Norwood, owner of Simply Delicious Bakery in Decatur, Ala. She affirmed that "I have never made a decent meringue until I found this recipe, and it now is the only one I use." This is a meringue to be used on the top of a pie.
8 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
3 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a small saucepan, combine 2 tablespoons sugar with cornstarch; add water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and clear. Beat egg whites with salt and vanilla until soft mounds form. Add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar, beating well. Add hot mixture, and continue beating until meringue stands in stiff peaks. Spread on the pie, being sure it spreads to the edges.
A second meringue recommendation came from Helene Langlois, who got this from a family collection. This one is for a meringue cookie.
Peppermint Meringue Cookies With Chocolate
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
Gel-paste food coloring in red
Panache (recipe follows)
Heat oven to 175 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment; secure corners with masking tape. Fit a pastry bag with a small open star tip (such as Ateco No. 22).
Put egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water, and stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch, 2 to 3 minutes.
Fit mixer with wire whisk. Beat egg-white mixture on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Beat in extract.
Using a small, new paintbrush, paint 2 or 3 stripes of red food coloring inside the pastry bag. Fill bag with 1 to 2 cups meringue. Pipe small (3/4-inch high) star shapes onto parchment. Refill bag as necessary (add food coloring each time).
Bake meringues until crisp but not brown, about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip (such as Ateco No. 5) with ganache. Pipe a small amount onto bottom of 1 meringue. Press against bottom of another. Repeat. Transfer to racks. Let set about 30 minutes.
1 cup heavy cream
6 ounces good-quality semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
Heat cream in a small saucepan until just simmering. Pour over chocolate in a bowl. Let stand 5 minutes. Gently stir until smooth, about 5 minutes.
Let ganache cool, stirring every 5 to 10 minutes, until thick enough to hold its shape, about 45 minutes. If ganache sets before using, reheat in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water; repeat the cooking process above.
Reka Simond has never tasted the Big River Grille's Pecan Chicken, a recipe requested by one of you, but she found this one that is highly recommended and, she believes, heart-healthy. She explained that this recipe goes great with a spinach salad.
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (11/4 pounds)
1/2 cup pecan halves or pieces
1/4 cup bread crumbs
11/2 teaspoons grated orange zest (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1 large egg white
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
Working with 1 piece of chicken at a time, place between sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet or heavy skillet until flattened to an even 1/4-inch thickness.
Place pecans, bread crumbs, orange zest, salt and ground chipotle in a food processor, and pulse until the pecans are finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish. Whisk egg white and water in a shallow dish until combined. Dip each chicken breast in the egg-white mixture, then dredge both sides in the pecan mixture.
Heat 11/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add half the chicken, and cook until browned on the outside and no longer pink in the middle, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm. Carefully wipe out the pan with a paper towel and add the remaining oil. Cook the remaining chicken, adjusting the heat as needed to prevent scorching. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings, 281 calories each and 7 grams carbohydrate.
Note: Chipotle peppers are dried, smoked jalapeno peppers. Ground chipotle may be found in the specialty spice section of most supermarkets.
Summertime seems equally suited to the most elegant and to the simplest-to-prepare fare. We have just been to the beach, where cooking was divided among four families. Last night it was scallops cooked on a salt block along with magnificent shrimp and grits; tonight it will be Frito pie at the hands of a 10-year-old and eggs courtesy of her brothers a few years her elders. Here's Frito pie, and why not? Put Fritos or other corn chips in a heatproof bowl. Add 1/2 small can of chili per person. Top with grated cheese. Heat in microwave or oven. Top with more chips and serve.
To Reach Us
Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.
Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750.