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Welcome to November, Fare Exchangers. For some reason, my November memory this morning takes me to cocktail buffets of long past, steaming casseroles filled with, say, braised beef tips with mushrooms ... and a spinach and cream cheese casserole ... and wild rice ... and feathery-delicate pocketbook rolls.
And since no requests came via email this week, how about adding form, taste and aroma to these memories by producing recipes for the same? And while we're at it, a recipe for the best cheesecake you've ever eaten.
We begin today with apple dumplings. Ginny Gaines prefers apples in puff pastry, describing her recipe's possibilities thus: "This can be a dazzling dessert to serve for guests or just to make your family feel special on a weekend, but quite good and deceptively easy."
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
4 small to medium cooking apples (my favorite is Jonathan, especially this year since they are small)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg lightly beaten
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup prepared caramel sundae topping
1/3 cup of pecan halves (optional)
Thaw and unfold pastry as the package directs.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry into a 16-inch square and, using a fluted pastry cutter or a knife, cut into 4 equal squares.
Peel and core apples; trim bottoms so that apples sit level. Place one apple in the center of each pastry square. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon, spoon into apples.
Beat the egg and water together and moisten the edges of the pastry with the mixture. Bring the pastry up around the apples, pleating or trimming excess pastry as needed, and pinch the edges together to form a seal.
Place dumplings in an ungreased 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Brush them with the egg mixture; sprinkle with the granulated sugar. Bake for about 35 minutes until golden brown.
Put the caramel topping -- add 1/3 cup of pecan halves, if desired -- in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 30 seconds until heated through.
Spoon the sauce onto each plate and set the dumplings on top, or drizzle the sauce over the top. Serve warm.
Dolores Bowling follows with a crescent rolls version. Her recipe calls for Mountain Dew, of all things. Who comes up with such ideas? Only the most creative of cooks.
2 Granny Smith apples
2 packages refrigerated crescent rolls
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 sticks butter or margarine
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 can Mountain Dew
Cut each apple into 8 slices and wrap in a crescent triangle, 1 slice in each.
Melt butter, sugar and cinnamon just until hot, mixing thoroughly, and pour over wrapped apples. Pour can of Mountain Dew over top and bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 40 minutes or until rolls are browned. Some ovens take only 20 minutes, so watch carefully.
Last week, Barbara Mann sent her recipe for shrimp sauce and, in answer to my question, she explained ways to use it.
"When we first married, we lived in the Tri Cities area and loved a Japanese restaurant in Johnson City that had a sweet shrimp sauce, that they gave you plenty of, to use on the salad and rice. In all these years after moving from there, we never came close to finding that sauce again. The closest here in Chattanooga was Ichiban's. Then one day I came across this recipe online. I make fried rice with vegetables of choice and usually both steak and shrimp. I season the rice with soy sauce, sesame oil and oyster sauce. And then this shrimp sauce takes us back to the long-ago flavor we loved."
Here's a simple recipe for a salad, one I had forgotten about from years gone by. It came from the LaFayette collection of Linda Leake.
Pears, canned or fresh, halved
Fresh lemon juice if using fresh pears
Grated sharp cheddar cheese
If using fresh pears, sprinkle lemon juice on each half to keep flesh from turning brown.
Put a lettuce leaf on each salad plate, then a pear half. Put a small bit of mayonnaise in the hollow of the pear, then add grated sharp cheddar cheese over all.
Here's another entry from Linda Leake's generous collection. I had a beloved house guest recently who wanted buttered carrots. I failed her miserably, but now I've got help.
12 young fresh carrots, or a similar propor-tion of baby carrots
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons chopped mint or dried mint flakes
Wash, scrape and cook carrots in boiling salted water. Drain. While hot, pour over the sugar and butter. Cook slowly until carrots are glazed, but do not brown. When almost ready to serve, sprinkle with chopped mint.
Fran Berven sent a bread recipe from her collection, a simple yeast bread. She wrote that it was from a time "before much of anybody used whole wheat flour. I believe you could use at least half whole wheat flour in this recipe."
1 package yeast
1-1/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons shortening
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 cups flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add shortening, salt, sugar and flour. Blend 2 minutes at medium speed. Stir in flour by hand.
Cover and let rise 30 minutes. Stir about 25 times.
Put into a greased pan and let rise 40 to 50 minutes more. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.
This one's from Shelly, "a meal that looks fancy but isn't. It calls for four ingredients: grilled chicken cut in strips, pasta, frozen peas and either jarred or refrigerated Alfredo sauce. Either one works fine.
"You may use the rotisserie chicken from most deli departments if you don't have grilled chicken on hand or in the freezer. We prefer angel hair pasta, but any one works. You don't even have to cook the frozen peas; just toss a generous handful into the hot, drained pasta and mix at once with the heated Alfredo sauce.
"If you want, you can add grated Parmesan on top and serve with garlic bread."
Keep up the good work and the helpful words. You are merely indispensable for the exchanging of fare.