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• Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750
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Welcome to Fare Exchange and welcome to upper-case August food from some lowercase august cooks, as usual. Here's what we are looking for this week: tomatillo-based salsa, Frito pie made with barbecue, gourmet nachos with different cheeses and accompaniments, and how to make at home the soft tacos served on trucks or carts in the streets in some cities.
Everything mentioned in the paragraph above comes from Claire Coffey, who has just returned from a trip to Texas and wants to know how to make what she tasted on that trip. That is, if you will help.
We will begin today with reader Charmagne Carey. The first recipe is marked Dangerous, the danger deriving from the fact that one is never farther than five minutes from a chocolate dessert.
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons flour (not self-rising)
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons cooking oil
Splash vanilla extract
Chocolate chips (optional)
In a large coffee mug, combine sugar, flour and cocoa. Thoroughly mix in egg. Add milk and cooking oil and vanilla extract. Mix well. At this point you may add some chocolate chips to enhance the flavor, if you wish. The small chips work well.
Put the mixture in your mug and place the mug in microwave and cook at full power for 3 minutes. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed. Allow to cool a little and tip out on a plate, if desired.
A different version of a cake in a mug calls for cake mixes, two in fact. Barbara is the sender.
1 box angel food cake mix
1 box cake mix, any flavor
In a zip-close bag, combine the 2 mixes together and mix well.
For each serving of cake, take out 3 tablespoons of the cake mix combination and mix with 2 tablespoons water in a microwave safe container. Microwave on high for 1 minute and you have your own instant individual cake. Keep stored in an airtight container on the shelf.
Mary Zelle completes the cake list with an easy-to-remember formula.
1 angel food cake mix
1 cake mix of any other kind
Mix 2 cake mixes (dry); one must be an angel-food cake mix, the other can be any other kind.
In a microwaveable cup, put 3 tablespoons of the dry mix and 2 tablespoons water. Stir. Microwave on high for 1 minute.
Allow to cool. Make up your own variations or additions (like dried fruit pieces, chocolate chips, etc.) Store the remainder of the cake mix mixture in an air-tight container or zip-close bag.
Up to now we have been serving up mugs filled with sweet things. Now we'll get to the other end of the spectrum, with a large-quantity recipe for dill pickles.
Becky McGee wrote to task, "Do you remember Barney Brody's (Shapiro's) special dill pickles?" And my goodness, yes; who could have sampled them and not remembered them? Here is the recipe. It may be cut down to suit home cooks.
20 pounds cucumbers (about 1/2 bushel)
Red pepper, whole or crushed
2 bunches dill (fresh), or dill seed if fresh is unavailable
1 cup salt, not iodized
2 gallons water
Cover cucumbers with cold water. Wash thoroughly and drain. Place some of the spices and a layer of dill in a 5-gallon crock or stone jar. Fill with cucumbers to within 2-4 inches of the top of the crock. Mix salt and water and pour over the cucumbers. Place another layer of dill and more of the spices on top. Cover with something heavy that won't corrode. Use a weight on top to keep the cucumbers under the brine. Cover loosely with a clean cloth. Keep at room temperature. They will be ready in 48 hours. Taste when ready and refrigerate.
McGee continued, "Barney never measured anything, but these are the spices used and he said you can experiment to suit your own taste. Be sure you use enough dill and garlic and he also used only kosher salt but said he thought you could use any salt so long as it was not iodized.
"His pickles were delicious and these will be, too. Just be patient and try until you get the combination you enjoy. You can't go wrong with this recipe."
Twenty pounds of cucumbers and a corresponding largess of patience: That is what is required of a canner. And the yield is a wonderful thing; just today our friend Joan sent a jar of her bread and butter pickles. It has been awhile since Fare Exchange featured canning ideas, but why don't we resurrect that topic? I wish I still had the gigantic pot my mother-in-law used to prepare her legendary green tomato pickles ... and the patience, too. It would be good to hear from experienced canners just what they put in the gigantic canning pot in their kitchens.
There was an error in the Chocolate Frosting recipe in last week's column. Here is another that will work with the Chocolate Pound Cake that ran with the frosting recipe.
Making frosting with powdered sugar usually is easier to do, but this one is made with granulated sugar and, interestingly, a little bit of flour. Two hits of chocolate - cocoa powder and melted semi-sweet chocolate - give this a richness that may not be found in any other type of frosting. Don't be skeptical of the flour; the taste cooks out.
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30-second increments, stirring every 30 seconds, until chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
In a small saucepan, combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar and milk. Whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, whisking frequently, until thickened. You're looking for a pudding-like consistency.
Remove from heat and use a fine mesh strainer to strain the mixture into another bowl (use the back of a wooden spoon to press it through the strainer).
Cool completely in refrigerator or freezer.
In a mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Turn mixer off and add the cooled flour mixture. Beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the melted chocolate chips and beat until smooth and fluffy, about another 2 minutes.
Note: If you have leftover frosting, store in refrigerator. Bring to room temperature and re-beat before using.
This recipe makes enough for one cake or 24 cupcakes.
Thanks to Charmagne Carey for providing the dash at the end of today's column. "When making meatballs, lay out a piece of waxed paper, top with the meat mixture and another piece of waxed paper. Pat and shape the meat into a squarish shape. Remove the top sheet and divide meat with a butter knife into even pieces, as you would slice a pan of brownies. Each piece will be uniform in size and can be rolled into the classic meatball.
"Also, don't throw away old bowl scrapers. They help feed the garbage disposal while your hands stay clean."
It's quitting time, and so let's, but just for now.