It's good to have your company on this November morning. And it is always good, not to mention necessary for keeping the fires burning, to have your requests.
The Troxtel family wrote from Trenton, Georgia. "Our family's favorite restaurant is Provino's on South Terrace in East Ridge. We are especially crazy about the salad and rolls that are put on the table as soon as you place your order. Does anyone have the salad dressing as well as one for the oil and garlic dipping mixture?"
Susan Potts wrote next. "On Oct. 12 I made a chicken/kale recipe that called for grilled chicken, I believe. I didn't grill the chicken outside but cooked it in my cast-iron grill pan on top of my stove. Once the chicken was cooked, it was to go on a bed of kale, and the recipe gave directions for a salad dressing to be used on top. I've lost the recipe. I believe it was in one of those Relish magazines that show up sometimes in the newspaper. All I can remember about the dressing (which is what I really want the recipe for) was that it contained Dijon mustard, garlic, yolks from hard-boiled eggs and lemon juice."
And there is one more missive with two requests from Marie-Laure Poire. "I am looking for recipes for Mint Tea Couscous and also one for a slow-cooked turkey. All I know is that it begins with roasting on high heat — maybe 450 degrees — and finishes with long hours in the oven on low heat."
Today's first recipes give two insights into how a cookbook becomes a favorite. The freezer cookbook comes first, and as you will see, its pattern is to say how to freeze, to thaw and to prepare. The second cookbook, written by a cooking instructor, has simple and helpful teaching notes beside each recipe.
E. of Henagar, Alabama, shared a copy of "Fix, Freeze, Take and Bake," a slim cookbook that reader Nancy F. has also declared to be a favorite of hers. Here is another sample from that book, full of advice about what freezes well and how to make it happen.
Pineapple Ham and Rice
2 cups cooked rice
2 cups cubed cooked ham
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry mustard
In a medium bowl, combine cooked rice, cubed ham, drained pineapple, brown sugar, lemon juice and dry mustard. Spoon mixture into a greased 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Cover and freeze.
To prepare: Thaw in refrigerator or microwave. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cover and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
Freeze up to 6 months, 3 months if using frozen meat.
Here's another treasure from T.R.B.'s well-used cookbook, "Mary James Dishes It Out." Note the Teaching Notes at the end.
Roasted Asparagus With Balsamic Glaze
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
Combine vinegar and brown sugar in small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium and cook down to a syrupy glaze. Watch carefully. It burns quickly. Cool. Store in refrigerator.
2 pounds asparagus
Maldon sea salt
Heat convection oven to 450 degrees. Cut or snap off the tough ends of the asparagus and discard. For larger asparagus, peel the bottom third or half of each stalk with a vegetable peeler.
Spread asparagus in a single layer on a sheet pan, being careful not to crowd them. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in a preheated oven until tips begin to roast and brown. Depending on size of asparagus, cooking time could vary from 5 minutes to 15 minutes.
Remove from oven. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve.
* Balsamic glaze keeps for months in the refrigerator.
* This recipe works best in a convection oven. If using a conventional oven, increase heat to 500 degrees.
* It is very important not to crowd the pan. Asparagus should roast, not steam.
* Use pour spouts in your olive oil and vinegar bottles. Drizzling becomes more even and much easier.
Janice Hixson is one of those faithful readers who scour their collections of recipes to find answers to requests. This luscious cake is one of those; she described the process as "making a syrup in the center of the cake, and it runs over the cake when you put in your spoon. It is very simple and good, especially with ice cream." The original sender was Sally Sieg.
1 cup self-rising flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cocoa
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups hot water
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
Ice cream or whipped cream or whipped topping
Combine self-rising flour, sugar, nuts, milk, cocoa, butter and vanilla extract. Stir well. Spread evenly in an ungreased 11- by 7- by 2-inch baking pan. Combine hot water, brown sugar and 2 tablespoons cocoa. Stir well. Pour mixture over batter. It sounds weird, but don't worry. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream or Cool Whip. This is one of the best chocolate desserts around.
Ms. Hixson also sent this coconut cake, perhaps mainly because "it is one of my favorite cakes."
Sour Cream Coconut Cake
16 ounces sour cream
2 cups sugar
2 (6-ounce) packages fresh frozen coconut
The day before you bake the cake, mix together frosting ingredients and let stand in refrigerator overnight.
1 box yellow cake mix, prepared according to package directions for 2 layers
When ready to serve, slice the 2 layers of the cake in half, making 4 thin layers. Frost between layers and on top. Keep refrigerated.
— From "Miss Daisy Entertains" by Daisy King.
Note from J.H.: As I looked at this recipe, I was imagining crumbles and un-evenness, but that is because I am not so good at baking and all its variables. Here's one set of directions for splitting this cake well.
How To Cut a Cake Layer in Half
Unflavored dental floss
Place toothpicks at the halfway point around the edges of the cake layer.
Align unflavored dental floss around the row of toothpicks. If you're making a spongy cake, it helps to make a few cuts with a serrated knife along the toothpick row, to give the floss something to bite into. When the floss is fully wrapped around the cake, cross the ends of the floss and hold each end in each hand. Pull each end out and away from the cake, so the floss cuts through the cake as the circle of floss tightens. Move the floss slightly from side to side to help the cutting movement.
Now you have two layers of cake.
Slide a piece of cardboard or a baking sheet (with no sides) between the two layers and lift off the top layer. (One reader of this WikiHow tutorial said cake works better made a day ahead.)
A reader asked for a clarification of this recipe printed a month or so ago, so here it is.
Deadly Pecan Bars
1 package butter pecan cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
For the crust, mix butter pecan cake mix, melted butter and egg together.
You may mix by hand; mixture will be thick. Press mixture into lightly oiled 15- by 9-inch baking pan. Set aside.
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (16-ounce) box confectioners sugar
1 cups chopped pecans
1 stick butter, melted
Mix cream cheese, 2 eggs, confectioners sugar, pecans and butter, and pour the creamy pecan mixture onto prepared cake crust in pan. Spread out evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.
We are out of space, but there will be ample filling next week.
* Provino's starters
* Salad dressing
* Mint tea couscous
* Slow-cooked turkey
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