Welcome to Fare Exchange. There are three requests today, picked up while out of town, anonymously. "What flowers work well in salads, and who has a dairy-free ranch dressing recipe?" And this final query is for a recipe for "Mushy Peas" served with fish and chips at a Washington, D.C., wharfside restaurant.
Ann Nelson confirmed the excellence of Benton's bacon and the benefit of going straight to the source. She wrote, "I don't know if there is a local supplier, but the Benton Country Ham address is 2603 US-411 in Madisonville, Tennessee, and the phone number is 423-442-5003. Mr. Benton will take phone orders and ship anywhere in the world. If possible, your readers should take a trip to Madisonville and visit the store. The delicious aroma of the hams and bacon make the trip worthwhile. Mr. Benton is a very friendly person who welcomes everyone."
CHOCOLATE, MILK & DARK
Lennis DuBan knows her chocolate. She wrote, "On the topic of dark chocolate substitutions for milk chocolate, I just use the same amount of dark as is called for using milk. It has always worked well for me; I am a dark chocolate lover. No one has complained about the items I take to potlucks or serve at home, so my guess the equal exchange works."
When I noted recently that dessert recipes seem less popular, my neighbor Debbie Pataky took issue knowledgeably and with evidence.
"I disagree about your statement that desserts aren't as popular. I used to bake birthday cakes for the McCallie boys when I worked the switchboard there.
"I named this one Chocolate Heaven, baked in a deep sheet cake pan."
This is the best cake, she says. If you like Reese's Cups, you're in for a real treat.
If you are allergic to nuts, this recipe is not for you.
1 1/2 boxes Betty Crocker Milk Chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups buttermilk (this is the secret)
1 (16-ounce) jar crunchy peanut butter, Jif brand preferred (this is the second secret)
In an electric mixer, mix well all ingredients except peanut butter, first on slow then change to a medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape sides of mixer bowl often.
Spray a 14- by 18- inch pan with Baker's Joy. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until center springs back when touched and cake is pulling away from sides of pan. Chocolate will scorch, so pay attention to your own oven's temperature; some cook hotter than others.
Remove from oven, and leave cake in pan to cool about 5 minutes. Turn out onto cake platter or cake board.
Take the jar of crunchy peanut butter, remove lid and place in microwave for 45 seconds or until it is soft enough to spread easily on top of the chocolate cake.
After spreading on top of cake, top with icing (recipe follows)
1 1/2 boxes powdered sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 sticks melted butter (real butter)
Mix well, adding milk until you get your desired creaminess consistency.
Spread chocolate frosting on top and sides of cake.
This salad carries a summer label, and we are almost there, so let's plan ahead. E. of Henagar, Alabama, credited Rachael Ray for this one.
Summer Quinoa Salad
3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 teaspoons coconut oil
1/2 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar (such as Bragg)
1/2 teaspoon raw agave syrup
5 Persian cucumbers, chopped
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed
1/2 onion, chopped
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves and tender stems only, chopped
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
In a medium saucepan with a lid, add the stock, quinoa and coconut oil; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Cover; simmer until the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover; fluff with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl. Let cool, tossing occasionally.
In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar and agave; season. Drizzle over the quinoa. Add the cucumbers, tomato, black beans, onion, parsley and paprika; season. Toss to evenly coat the ingredients.
Makes 4 servings.
EASY FISH DISH
Here's one more answer to the request for easy fish recipes, and its sender is A.E.
This recipe originally appeared in Real Simple magazine.
The trick is not overcrowding the pan, so be sure to choose a large skillet. If you need to take the lemon slices out altogether, that's OK. Just toss them back in to heat through just before serving. The salty, tangy caper-butter sauce goes nicely with roasted potatoes and a clean green salad dressed with just a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil. Sometimes (we say always) simple is the most sophisticated.
Pan-Seared Lemon Sole
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 sole fillets
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 lemon, ends trimmed, sliced into 12 thin circles
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
Place the flour on a plate. Season the sole with the salt, and then coat it in the flour, shaking to remove any excess; set aside.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the lemon, and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
Push the lemon to the side, and add the sole (in batches if needed). Cook until the sole is the same color throughout and flakes easily, about 2 minutes per side.
Add the capers and remaining butter. Remove skillet from heat, and tilt to swirl butter until it melts.
Transfer the sole and lemon to plates, and spoon the capers and butter over the top.
Rose Secrest's hitherto-unpublished collection included that versatile soup base, butternut squash, and a lively variety of spices. And it is served cold for your warm-weather pleasure.
Cold Butternut Soup
1 small butternut squash
1/4 yellow onion
1 Granny Smith apple
2 tablespoons sherry (optional)
2 cups soy milk
Dash of white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon anise
1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
4 green onions, sliced
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime
Microwave the squash, onion and apple until soft enough to puree. Place them and the sherry, soy milk, white pepper, cardamom, hot pepper flakes, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, ginger, nutmeg and anise in a container, and chill overnight.
Serve with the pumpkin seeds, green onions, lime zest and lime juice on top.
This column served up a delightful assortment of flavors and colors, and here's a hearty thank you from all us beneficiaries.
* Flowers for salads
* Dairy-free ranch dressing
* Mushy peas
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