Good morning, June companions. Your column begins today with a fine young example: W.P., a college engineering major who is also an adventurous cook.
"I have made a habit of preparing a pot of soup each weekend and letting that soup last me a week of suppers. I know it's summer and not soup weather, but this is a way to get lots of vegetables and healthy foods on a regular basis.
"I would like recipes for any soups heavy on vegetables. The last one I prepared is a Welsh soup called cawl. This one does have lamb shanks in the ingredients. Please, readers, send me more."
Margaret McNeil writes from expertise to address the question of sauce reductions.
She wrote, "I've never reduced 4 gallons of stock to a pint, but I have reduced sauce on a smaller scale. To reduce sauce, bring the liquid to a rapid boil. Reduce the heat, and let it simmer, uncovered, until the volume is reduced. This thickens the sauce and intensifies the flavor. In my opinion, it is definitely worth the time and effort."
Don Kilo is a food researcher with broad experience, relying heavily on Mexican flavors. So when he read about brownies flavored with chilies, he tried a recipe.
"I couldn't taste a thing. Then I tried the recipe that follows, and it has just the right taste. The pepper flavor lingers after the first bite. This recipe called for McCormick spices, so I collected quite a supply of spices for further recipes, if anyone has a recipe they like better than this one."
Chile Chocolate Brownies
— 1 package family-size fudge brownie mix
— 1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick gourmet ancho chile pepper
— 1/2 teaspoon McCormick gourmet chipotle chili pepper
— 1/2 teaspoon McCormick gourmet organic ground Saigon cinnamon
— 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
— 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare brownie mix as directed on package, stirring in ancho and chipotle chile peppers, cinnamon and vanilla with dry mix. Gently stir chocolate chips into batter. Spread in a greased 9-inch square baking pan.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. Cool in pan. Cut into 16 squares, one square per serving.
Serve with caramel sauce and/or whipped cream, if desired.
Nutrition information per serving: 260 calories, 12 grams fat, 13 milligrams cholesterol, 129 milligrams sodium, 36 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 2 grams protein.
A few weeks back, correspondents dismissed margarine as a decent substitute for butter. But then the subject of better butter arose, with a question about the extolled virtues of Kerrygold butter.
Tim Threadgill weighed in. "I suspect, but did not confirm, that it is about performance and consistency rather than a marginal difference in taste. Using a universal brand in baking always yields more consistent results.
"It has been documented that the melting point of plain commercial butter has crept up due to the presence of palm oil in the butter — which comes in the feed given the cows. The cows producing Kerrygold probably don't get that, so it is more consistent in how it melts and incorporates.
"I would be happy to be proven wrong, but that is my hypothesis." (Indeed, brief research confirms that Kerrygold is made with milk from grass-fed cows.)
The second comment came from Linda Green Johnson of Dunlap, Tennessee, with a recommendation for her favorite butter.
"I just had to tell you about Troyer butter. It is Amish style and the only one I use now. I get it in 3-pound rolls. Hughes (Produce) market here in Dunlap sells it and when they close for a couple months at the end of the year, I buy several rolls, freeze and enjoy until they reopen. I am not sure what the difference is, but I guarantee if you taste it alongside, say, a popular commercial brand, the Troyer will win hands down. I use it for everything from my morning toast to sautéing shrimp, to baking pound cake and banana bread."
The Hughes family recently opened a Chattanooga location at 6402 Hixson Pike that also carries this butter.
You may also find a 3-pound roll of Amish butter, with the label "Amish Country Roll Butter," for $10.98 at Ingle's in Trenton, Georgia.
What is the reason for, and what is the benefit of, a 3-pound roll instead of four sticks? I expect one of you reading these lines to know and to tell.
Edith Parker Middleton is the artist behind two seasonal strawberry recipes, both from her cookbook, "Recipes and Remembering." It is strawberry season, so the time is ripe.
— 2 egg yolks
— 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
— 2 tablespoons Marsala wine
— 1 cup heavy cream
— 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
— 30 large strawberries
Combine egg yolks, granulated sugar and wine in the top of a double boiler. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until well blended. Place over boiling water, and reduce heat to low. Cook about 5 minutes or until soft peaks form, beating constantly at medium speed. Remove from heat, spoon mixture into a medium bowl and place in a large bowl of ice. Beat about 2 minutes or until cool. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Combine cream and powdered sugar in a small bowl, and refrigerate 30 minutes. Add creamed mixture to cooked mixture, and beat until stiff.
Cut 2 perpendicular slices down the pointed end of each strawberry, cutting to within -inch of stem end. Carefully spread out quartered sections of strawberry to form a cup. Fill each strawberry with cream mixture using a pastry bag. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Makes 10 to 15 servings.
— 3 cups all-purpose flour
— 1/3 cup sugar
— 1 tablespoon baking powder
— 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
— 3/4 teaspoon salt
— 3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into bits
— 1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest (optional)
— 1 cup sour cream
— 1 cup milk
— Fresh strawberries
— Whipped cream
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, whisk together zest, sour cream and milk, and add to flour mixture. Stir until mixture just forms a soft and sticky dough.
Drop into 12 mounds at 1-inch intervals onto greased baking sheets. Pat dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until pale golden.
Serve with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.
And so the story ends, for now. But next week, next week ...
— Veggie-heavy soups
— The whys of roll butter vs. stick butter
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, and know we cannot test the recipes printed here.
Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750