30 April 2009

Blood Orange Marmalade

I was in Wegman’s market looking for raspberry oranges a type of blood orange that I love. It is the only place I can find them, and they are my favorite citrus. Alas, they had none. I did find a lovely bag of blood oranges, however. I bought them, knowing I could never use them all, so after a day or two, I knew I needed to cook them. I decided to make some old fashioned, thick-cut bitter English marmalade.

It was the Portuguese who gave us the antecedent for marmalade with the word for quince, marmelo, a name that stuck to the thick fruit pastes they exported. The bitter Seville oranges of Spain were considered unusable until the English began importing them for their marmalade.

The food historian C. Anne Wilson tells us in her history of the confiture, The Book of Marmalade: Its Antecedents, Its History and Its Role in the World Today, Together With a Collection of Recipes for Marmalades & Marmalade , that the first printed recipe for a bitter orange marmalade was that of an Englishwoman, Mary Kettilby, which appeared in 1714. But the pulp did not have the characteristic chunks.

In the 1790's, Janet Keiller, wife of a Dundee grocer, who first made the chipped, pulpy marmalade, including "chips" of peel in her jam. Her husband bought consignment of cheap oranges from a storm-tossed boat. Mrs Keiller used sugar from her husband's store to produce the marmalade that made England famous. Alas, Dundee's is made no more in Dundee, having been swallowed up, like toast, by giant conglomerates.

In an article in the Independent, Michael Bateman lamented the fact that it was getting harder and harder to find true English marmalade, unless you made it yourself. Now, England is becoming more and more “American” in taste. As companies farm out their marketing to focus groups, marmalade is growing sweeter and sweeter with a more jelly like consistency. Well, I wanted that thick-cut, tart taste that stays with you hours after your morning toast.

Here is my recipe:

Blood Orange Marmalade

1 pound blood oranges, scrubbed and sliced about 1/8 inch
1 pound sugar
juice from one lemon

Slice the blood oranges over a preserving pan, throwing away the fleshy stem slice. (The easiest way to slice them is with a mandolin.) As you slice, remove any noticeable seeds. Add the lemon juice. Pour sugar over the sliced oranges. Let the pan set for at least and hour as the sugar draws the juice. Bring the pan to a steady simmer and cook for about an hour. The mixture will reduce by about 1/3. Skim off any foam that may float to the top. Check the orange peel for doneness. You should be able to easily cut into the peel with a spoon. Bring the fruit mixture to a rolling boil for 7 to 10 minutes. Do not step away from the confiture pan at this point! Allow the marmalade to sit for ten to fifteen minutes to settle the peel, otherwise it will float to the top. Ladle the marmalade into prepared, hot jars, seal with lids, and invert on a cloth towel. Allow to sit for 5 –10 minutes before righting the jars.

28 April 2009

Cruze Farm Buttermilk Poundcake

My friend Anne saw this recipe in the New York Times Magazine and decided to give it a try in a Lucinda's Wood Cake Box.

Here's the recipe and the results!

Cruze Farm Buttermilk Poundcake

3⁄4 cup butter, plus more for greasing the pan
3 1⁄2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring the pan
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
2 ‌1⁄2 cups granulated sugar
3⁄4 cup solid shortening
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cultured buttermilk
Juice of 1 lemon, strained.

For the glaze:

2⁄3 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest.

1. Bring all the ingredients to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan (or your Lucinda's Wooden Cake Box), tapping out excess flour.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. In another medium bowl, whisk the sugar to break up clumps.

3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and shortening, stopping to scrape down the sides. Slowly drizzle in the sugar; cream the mixture well. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding the next when the last has been incorporated. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, mix in a third of the flour mixture until just combined. Add a third of the buttermilk, mixing until just combined. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk. Add the lemon juice and mix to combine.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted comes out clean, about 75 minutes. The top of the cake will be lightly browned, and the sides will shrink slightly from the pan. Cool for 20 minutes before inverting onto a cake platter.

5. Before serving, stir together the glaze ingredients and spoon over the top and sides of the cake. It’s even better the next day.

Adapted from Cheri Cruze. Serves 10 to 12.

24 April 2009

Famous Food Friday -- Lee Miller

If life is indeed a banquet, then Lee Miller is Top Chef.

Miller was a fashion model, the muse and student of Man Ray, a photographer and war correspondent for Vogue, photographing the London Blitz and the amazing journey of American troops from Paris to Dachau. Later, she married surrealist painter, Roland Penrose, and indeed became a top chef.

She grew increasingly tired of hearing Europeans disparage American cuisine. Rather than verbally defend the garish taste of Americans, Miller did what any good surrealist might do, she embraced the worst of the worst and transformed it into something magical.

So what if we drink Coke...

So what if we drink Rum and Coke...

So what if we top out sweet potatoes with marshmallows...

Lee Miller's Marshmallow-Coca-Cola Ice Cream

24 marshmallows (Miller doesn't say, but probable the large kind)
1 can Coca-Cola (12 ounces)
juice of one lemon
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons rum
1 cup heavy cream

Dissolve marshmallows in half the Coca-Cola over low heat. Add remaining cola, lemon juice, and salt. Whip together: freeze in ice cube tray.
When frozen but still mushy, remove, add rum and cream, and whip again. Refreeze until solid, whipping once again after half an hour for a smooth ice cream.

Lee Miller's life is truly fascinating and her biography was written by one of the best writers around, Carolyn Burke. So far Burke has written about two of my most favorite people, Lee Miller and Mina Loy. If you want to know the whole scoop on Miller, pick up Burke's biography, Lee Miller: A Life.

There are numerous books featuring her photography, but I am partial to The Lives of Lee Miller written by her son, Antony Penrose.

22 April 2009

Wednesday Etiquette

"Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone"

Ella Wilcox Wheeler

Today’s etiquette tips come from the two-volume collection on etiquette, Correct Social Usage. Compiled in 1907, The New York Society of Self Culture gathered together eighteen of the country’s leading arbiters of social correctness to assemble their expertise into this two-volume compendium of how to behave. The most famous of the writers is the above quoted, Ella Wilcox Wheeler and first in our gallery experts.

Correct Social Usage provides info from the street to the table. Here are some examples.

Manners In Public

Manners in public are the plainly seen stamp which marks men and women as coming from homes where social proprieties either are or are not observed. The proper stamp should be properly affixed to the little as well as the larger matters.

When walking in daytime on the street, a lady does not take a gentleman’s arm unless she is quite elderly or infirm. As night it is of course proper to do so. She should not thrust her arm through his, in the ungraceful manner often seen, but should lightly place her hand – the left one usually – just within the curve of his elbow. A gentleman, escorting two ladies at night, offers his arm to the elder of the two. The other lady walks beside her friend; it is not correct for the gentleman to sandwich himself between them. That side of the pavement where he can best guard his companion from obstacles or dangers is the side for the man to take; therefore either the right or the left arm may be offered with equal propriety. A well-bred man offers his arm to the lady; he should never attempt to take hers.

Now that you have mastered “walking” lets move on to meat carving. We all need to know just how to carve our forequarter of lamb or haunch of venison. Here are some tips.

Carving An Art

Meat carving is, in its way, quite as much of an art as wood-carving. To become skilled in either art technical knowledge and faithful practice are required. Most carvers make the mistake of setting to work too vigorously. Strength is less needed than skill. Many dainty little housewives carve gracefully and well, without rising from their seats. On the other hand, it is by no means unusual to see a big six-foot host sitting in utter despair before a roast or fowl which he is expected to dissect, and finally asking pardon for standing on his feet while, with frequent flourishes of the carving knife, he attacks it. One of the first rules for good carving is to learn how to do it without rising. If the seat of the carver is a little higher than the other chairs this rule may be observed without difficulty.

Here's to all you dainty little housewives out there can delicately take the arm of your innamorato and dissect a rump roast with grace and aplomb while never once rising to your feet. You go, girl! So sorry,what I meant to say was: Lovely actions, my dear.

20 April 2009

The Dress Doctor

Speaking of my BFF, Beverly...

We were talking about Sarah Paulson and her impersonation of Kathleen Turner on David Letterman. Check it out on the You Tube clip forwarding it to about 4:40 to hear Kathleen and some Holly Hunter, too.
We thought that instead of doing, Cupid, she should just be a regular on the talk show circuit. Many years ago, there were people who were not television or movie "personalities" but they were regulars on talk shows; people like Truman Capote and Edith Head.

Speaking of Edith Head...

There was recently a lovely, illustrated reprint (actually a reedit) of Head's famous book, The Dress Doctor.
The Dress Doctor: Prescriptions for Style, From A to Z is my favorite kind of book, an abecedary.

As you may recall, my last post was about Beverly's breakfast pictures of my blackberry jam. In The Dress Doctor, Head gives the following suggestions for what to wear for breakfast.

It's good psychology to start the day with bright colors, so choose something gay in a washable fabric. Breakfast coat, brunch cot, housedress, smock, skirt and shirt, or slacks and shirt + apron if you're cooking + casual shoes, sandals, or flats.

Beverly did not send me pictures of what she was wearing when she served my blackberry jam to her family. I'm sure it was a bright and colorful housedress. Or perhaps it was her Sunday brunch coat. Where does one purchase a "brunch coat" or a "breakfast coat" for that matter?

This morning I served breakfast in black sweatpants and a black, T-shirt. Fortunately, my cats have never heard of Edith Head.

Still... I am rather fond of the "smock" as an apparel of clothing and purpose that we start a movement to return the smock to everyday apparel. I'm sure Edith Head would approve.

18 April 2009

Blackberry Jam REDUX

In March I made blackberry jam. I recently sent some to my BFF, Beverly. She served it (beautifully I might add) for breakfast recently and she sent me some pictures.

I worry she bought these biscuits? Any truth to that rumor, Beverly?

But doesn't she set a lovely table. Such a Southern girl.

17 April 2009

Famous Food Friday -- Linda McCartney

Once upon a time, Linda McCartney was eating a fine lamb and looking out the window of a county house. In the field beyond the window were lambs, grazing. At that moment, Linda McCartney vowed she would never eat another thing with a face. She kept that promise.

Today is the anniversary of Linda McCartney's death. Despite her healthy lifestyle, breast cancer took her life in 1998. She was 56.

McCartney, in addition to being a famed vegetarian, was a photojournalist, activist and lead singer in a band called, Wings with some guy named Paul.

Here is a recipe from her book, Linda McCartney's Home Cooking.

Mozzarella Croquettes

3 cups plain flour
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 eggs
1lb Mozzarella cheese, grated
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
vegetable oil for frying

for the garnish:
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Mix the four, slat and pepper together in a mixing bowl.

Break the eggs into the enter of the flour mixture and stir in ever-increasing circles. When a doughy consistency is reached, add the grated Mozzarella and keep stirring.

Shape this mixture into balls or croquettes and roll them in the breadcrumbs until they are well coated.

Deep-fry until the croquettes are a golden brown. Serve hot whit a sprinkling of parsley.

Please check out our previous post on Breast Cancer. There you can to click to give someone a free mastectomy.

12 April 2009

Sweet Potato Cake with Golden Mixed Berries

This is one of my favorite cakes. It is easy to make, and a great idea for a planned-over sweet potatoes. I love looking for new and interesting mixed, dried fruits. Instead of plain raisins, I used a golden berry mix which included; raisins, cranberries, and blueberries.

Planned Over Sweet Potatoes

When you need to have the oven on for at least an hour, add a couple of sweet potatoes.
Scrub them, oil the skins and set in a shallow baking pan while you are cooking "whatever" for about 1 hour. After they have cooled, peel them and place the flesh in a plastic bag and tuck it in the refrigerator.

Sweet Potato Cake

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon quatre-epice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1 cup raisins, dredged boldly

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, spice, soda and salt together to blend

In a smaller bowl, mix the sweet potatoes, eggs, oil, and milk. I may look a bit lumpy and curdled, but that is the way it should look

Add the sweet potato mixture to the dry ingredients and blend well

Fold in the dredged fruit

Pour into prepared Lucinda’s Wood Cake Box.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

This cake is a great cake to ship. It gets better after several days of "maturing" and travels well.

Send one (or two) out to someone you love!

07 April 2009

Scallops and Grits

Over at my Cookbook of the Day blog, we featured Nathalie Dupree's Shrimp and Grits. I thought of that book because last week I made "Scallops and Grits." Check out Dupree’s book and the original recipe for shrimp and grits. Then try these scallops and grits.

Scallops and Grits

1 cup quick cook grits, not instant
4 cups water
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
2 strips of bacon
2 scallions, slice with the white and bit of the green tops
1 clove garlic, crushed
4-5 large scallops
1 tablespoon butter

In a skillet, fry the 2 strips of bacon till crispy, remove from pan and drain on a paper towel. Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease. When cool, crumble the bacon.

Add the grits to boiling water in a medium saucepan and stir continuously, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in 1/2 cup of cheese until incorporated into the grits.

In the skillet with the bacon grease, add the crushed garlic and the scallions and sauté about 1 minute. Add the scallops and sauté about 2 minutes on one side, then turn and cook 2 minutes on the other side. Add the butter allowing it to melt.

Place the grits in a bowl. Spoon the scallops over the grits, and garnish with the crumbled bacon.

06 April 2009

Washing Clothes Recipe

Years ago an Alabama grandmother gave a new bride
the following recipe.

This exact copy, found in an old scrapbook, is exactly as written, spelling errors and all.


Build fire in backyard to heat kettle of rain water.
Set tubs so smoke wont blow in eyes if wind is pert.

Shave one hole cake of lie soap in boilin water.

Sort things, make 3 piles
1 pile white,
1 pile colored,
1 pile work britches and rags.

To make starch, stir flour in cool water to smooth,
then thin down with boiling water.

Take white things, rub dirty spots on board, scrub
hard, and boil, then rub colored don't boil just wrench* and starch.

Take things out of kettle with broom stick handle,
then wrench*, and starch.

Hang old rags on fence.

Spread tea towels on grass.

Pore wrench* water in flower bed. Scrub porch with
hot soapy water. Turn tubs upside down.

Go put on clean dress, smooth hair with hair combs.
Brew cup of tea, sit and rock a spell and count your blessing

*For you non-Southerners –“wrench” means rinse.

P. S. The washer woman is actually from Texas, but the recipe is still the same!

04 April 2009

Corn & Shrimp Chowder

Here is a plug for one of my favorite products, Imagine Organic Soups.

According to their web site:

"Imagine Foods was founded in the Missouri countryside by Robert Nissenbaum and a partner in 1982. A longtime advocate of natural and organic foods, Robert had previously opened Morning Dew Organic Food Market and organized the founding of the Sunshine Inn, one of the early natural foods restaurants, both in his hometown of St. Louis."

I love them because they make great bases for impromptu chowders. I stumbled across a new flavor: Corn & Lemongrass at the store and tucked a box on the larder shelf. It came in handy yesterday when it was cold and rainy. I had a few leftover shrimp so I made myself a chowder.

Shrimp and Corn Chowder

1 box Imagine Corn & Lemongrass
2 strips bacon
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 fingerling potatoes, sliced, or use other small potatoes
4 -6 shrimp, cleaned and deveined
cilantro, chopped

1. Fry the bacon in skillet until crisp. Remove and crumble.

2. Add the sliced garlic to the bacon drippings and begin cooking.

3. After about 1 minute, add the sliced potatoes and saute till tender, about 5 minutes.

4. Pour the Imagine Corn & Lemongrass soup into a sauce pan and add the potatoes and garlic.

5. Bring to just boiling, add the shrimp and cook till they are pink

6. Add the crumbled bacon and chopped cilantro, leaving a bit for garnish.

Serve in a bowl with a nice bread.

03 April 2009

The first sprout...

of the garden.

Our lettuce table is beginning to offer up little lettuce heads. It has quit offering up Kitty Carlisle, who has been banished from resting on the lettuce table! I guess she figured since last year's crop was nearly gone, she would expand the use of the lettuce table to include cats.

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