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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 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to November cookery, local and inspired. As usual, you are more than welcome to solve the cooking questions that follow: Amaretto brownies a la Canyon Grill and the Boathouse? Creative ways with avocado as served in local restaurants, and perhaps even a roasted avocado dish? And this: How to cook freekah and how to know the best farro and then how to prepare it.
Barbara begins this floury Exchange with spoon rolls. "These have become a favorite of mine from 'Cooking With Jack.' They are easy to make ahead for the holidays."
Southern Spoon Rolls
1 package active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
4 cups self-rising flour
Grease 24 muffin cups. Combine yeast and warm water in a large mixing bowl and stir until yeast has dissolved. Stir in sugar, butter and egg. Add flour, stirring vigorously until a soft dough forms, about 2 minutes. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate dough overnight and then bake rolls the next day. Or loosely cover the mixing bowl and let dough rest about 20 minutes. Drop by spoonfuls into muffin cups. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter.
Recently this column has treated the subject of birthdays and their attendant cakes and celebrations. From her early morning porch, Kathaleen Hughes has joined the conversation with her own memories. Mrs. Hughes is the daughter of the late Carolyn Scott Lonas, who was indeed a remarkable woman, and her daughter speaks of her lovingly and, in her last sentence, lightly.
"Yesterday would have been my grandmother Mema's 100th birthday, but it also marked the third year of Mother's homecoming in heaven. I had made her rather-bland hamburger soup many times before, but Monday night, I knew I had to reinvent the dish.
"First, I found some hamburger - hamburger that was hiding in the remote reaches of the freezer. Out to the porch for fresh cuttings of parsley, rosemary and thyme, and fresh from the food stand were onions, peppers and squash. The only non-fresh ingredients I added were the two cans of garbanzo beans and a box of very expensive pureed tomatoes. My frozen yet homemade chicken stock and the obligatory salt and pepper and three hours simmering on the stove completed the task.
"Son Number Two rode up the mountain after work. He and I enjoyed our al fresco dinner on the porch with cheese toast (another of her favorites) and a nod to Mother, who was no great cook but who certainly should be pleased that I am able to do at least one thing better than she ever could - cook."
Carolyn Lonas would doubtless be pleased. As the mother of a woman who can do everything better than I can, I would testify that a daughter's improvement on her mother, in any area, is a mother's pleasure.
MAKING MUFFIN LOAVES
One particular Karen saw the request for English muffin loaves, and here is her reply.
"I'm unsure if this is exactly what is requested but, this is a recipe from the early '80s. I made it frequently and it's wonderful toasted. I know the directions aren't very detailed, but I never had it fail. Thanks for reminding me of it."
› Amaretto brownies a la Canyon Grill and the Boathouse› Creative ways with avocado› How to cook freekah› How to know the best farro and prepare it
English Muffin Loaves
5 1/2 to 6 cups flour
2 packages yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup water
2 cups milk
Combine 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar, salt and soda. Heat liquids until warm. Add to dry ingredients. Beat well. Stir in enough flour to make stiff batter.
Spoon into 2 loaf pans that have been well greased and sprinkled with cornmeal. Sprinkle tops with meal. Cover and let rise 45 minutes. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pans immediately and cool completely on racks.
WHIPPING CREAM BISCUITS
Mr. and Mrs. Sunday weighed in, literally, on the topic of whipping cream biscuits. Their recommendation is for a digital scale.
"If you have a digital scale, cream biscuits are dead simple. If you're a baker and don't have a digital scale, you're making your life far more difficult than it needs to be. The problem it solves is that flour compacts in the cup, so 1 cup of flour can weigh anywhere from 3.5 to 5.5 ounces. This difference can easily ruin any recipe.
"To quote a pastry chef we respect, 'The only thing I do with dry-measure cups is bounce them off the head of anyone trying to use them in my pastry kitchen. They make a pretty bonging sound.'"
Whipping Cream Biscuits to Scale
Self-rising flour, preferably White Lily or Martha White, as these have less gluten
* Yes, we know we didn't tell you how much whipping cream or flour to use. You will, as in the following directions, add an equal weight of the two ingredients.
Heat oven to 450 degrees.
Tare the bowl, which means to put the bowl on the scale and press the tare button (most kitchen scales have one); the weight of the bowl and any contents is magically set to zero. Dump in self-rising flour. Notice the weight, tare the bowl again and add the same weight of whipping cream.
Stir gently until just combined. Lumps are OK. Overmixing makes the biscuits chewy like rolls.
Scoop the dough onto a sheet pan lined with parchment (silicone) paper, placing each biscuit about 2 inches apart. Brush tops with more cream.
Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes.
And here is a comment on Whipping Cream Biscuits for experienced bakers, although the requester was a very youthful Carrie Cupcake, who's a sixth-grader.
"More experienced bakers will tare the cream container and approach the total weight slowly to allow for humidity differences. The amount you've poured so far will read as a negative weight when you put the cream container back on the scale. You want the dough to be quite wet, but it needs to hold its shape on the sheet pan. The very lightest biscuits are made with too-wet dough, given a very light dusting of flour on the outside to help them hold their shape."
The promised recipe for a dog treat, though postponed, will come, hopefully next week.
And you too will come, hopefully, next week.