It's picnic week, so it's only appropriate to begin with a request for a picnic ham recipe. A.E. wrote, "I have been thinking of the picnic hams my mother-in-law used to make. I saw one recently and bought it, but now I can't find my recipe. I think you pulled off the skin, poured pickle juice over and baked it, then topped it with something that included brown sugar.
"Also, I bought a quart of whole-milk buttermilk and wondered about ways to use it. (Without knowing it, Marilyn Soehl offered the first answer in her chicken recipe that follows.) Is it necessary to use real buttermilk in baking, or can you substitute milk with a little lemon juice or vinegar stirred in? And I would like a recipe for buttermilk custard made with gelatin. I think I saw it in a Southern Living magazine."
There is something about cookies that sets them apart from all other sweets. There is a hospice facility in California where the most popular room in the place is the kitchen, even though many of the residents can eat little or nothing. But the aroma of cookies baking has its own comforting presence.
Roseann Strazinsky of Fairfield Glade, Tennessee, knows the virtues of cookies as gifts. She wrote, "I just typed this recipe for a friend and thought, since I have it, I would send it to you for the food page. This is a simply delicious, soft cookie."
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup whipping cream (not whipped)
2 cups all-purpose flour (not self-rising)
Frosting of your choice
Mix thoroughly butter, cream and flour. Cover, and chill about 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 degrees, depending on your oven. Watch that it's not too hot, then turn down to 350 degrees if it is.
Place granulated sugar into a small bowl. This will be used to dip the cutouts into. Have a fork ready too.
Remove about 1/3 of the dough from the refrigerator, and return the rest, covered, to the refrigerator. Roll dough about 1/8-inch thick on floured board or cloth-covered board. Cut into 1 -inch circles, whiskey glass size.
Transfer rounds with a metal spatula to the granulated sugar bowl and turn to cover each side. Place cookie onto ungreased baking sheet. Prick rounds with fork about 4 times. If you don't, they will puff up. Bake 7 to 9 minutes or just until set, NOT BROWN. They will burn quickly. Remove cookies to a cooling tray or whatever you have. Repeat with the rest of the dough. After all are baked and cool, put cookies together, sandwich style, with your favorite frosting. Makes about 5 dozen single cookies.
Here's a recipe that begins with buttermilk. Marilyn Soehl prepared it in her kitchen; she says this appetizer or entrée is "really easy and really good." She spotted it on recipeboy.com.
Baked Parmesan Chicken Tenders
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup corn flake crumbs
1 pound chicken tenders (about 10)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
Place the buttermilk in one bowl. Mix the Parmesan and cornflake crumbs, and place in another bowl. Place the chicken tenders in the buttermilk, and let soak for about 15 minutes. Then dip each tender into the cheese/crumb mixture to cover completely, and place on the baking sheet. Drizzle the melted butter on top of the tenders. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Bake for 12 minutes or until crispy and golden and cooked through. These are really good dipped in ranch dressing.
NEW TAKE ON CAKE
A colorful take on cake came from Carli Snyder, who doesn't even like Red Velvet Cake and instead makes what we might call a Red Beet Cake. Her husband, Michael, requests it for his birthday each year. "It's a healthier alternative to a full-of-dye red velvet cake but tastes way better than any red velvet cake I've ever had. The beets make the cake super moist and beautifully colored." And if you are suspicious of beets, particularly in a cake, note that one cook likened this cake to a carrot cake.
Beet Cake (an all-natural Red Velvet Cake)
2 large beets (enough for 1 1/2 cups puree)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened, but not quite room temperature
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened slightly
2 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons natural (not dark or Dutch processed) cocoa powder
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place beets in a small baking dish, and add 1/2 cup water. Cover with parchment paper and foil, and roast until quite tender, 60 to 90 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
Butter 3 (8-inch) cake pans. Cut out parchment paper circles, and place in the bottoms of the pans. Butter the parchment paper, and dust with flour. Set aside. Peel the beets, and cut into large chunks. Place in a food processor or a very good blender with the lemon juice, and pulse until smooth and pureed. Stir in the vinegar.
In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and cream cheese. Pour in sugar, and mix until smooth. Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing well until each is incorporated. Mix in vanilla.
While ingredients are mixing, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder in a separate bowl. Slowly add flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of the beet puree mixture, and fold into the cake batter. Divide the batter evenly among the cake pans. Tap pans on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Invert cakes onto cooling racks, and allow to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate or freeze until ready to frost.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
8 ounces mascarpone cheese at room temperature
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners (powdered) sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 to 3 pinches of salt, to taste
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Switch to the whisk attachment, and mix until smooth and slightly fluffy. Frost refrigerated or frozen layers of Red Beet Cake.
It occurs that this cake is just the right color for a Fourth of July dessert, accompanied perhaps by a big bowl of blueberries and some real whipped cream.
Dessert or no dessert, Independence Day is cause for celebration, so let's do just that.
* Picnic ham preparation
* Advice on buttermilk
*' Buttermilk custard
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