Thursday, January 12, 2012

When in Doubt, Bake

Last night, I discovered that a colleague of mine had been killed in a car accident. His wife is in critical condition, but is expected to live. Greg was a real stand-up guy, much appreciated by everyone with whom he came into contact. He had just accepted a call to pastor a church in South Dakota so that he could be closer to his kids. I needed something to do with my hands last night while I mulled over the reality of his being truly gone, not just moved away. So, I made a coffee cake with the ingredients I had on hand. The recipe was on the same page of my handwritten recipe binder as the dinner I'd made. The original recipe, which I've had so longer I don't even remember where I got it, calls for blackberries, but I had strawberries in the freezer, so that's what I used. I expect you could use just about any soft fruit you like...other berries, peaches, pears, whatever sounds good. It is dense and sweet, but not overpoweringly so.

Honeyed Berry Coffee Cake

4 & 3/4 c. flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 c. butter, softened

1 & 1/2 c. honey

1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 eggs

1 c. buttermilk

2 c. strawberries (or whatever fruit you like), fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, & salt. Mix butter & honey with electric mixer until smooth and creamy (and if you want to skip the rest of the steps, you can just slather this on an English muffin, as I was tempted to do). Add vanilla & eggs. Add the dry ingredeients in batches alternately with the buttermilk until all is blended smoothly together. Fold in berries. Butter a 10" tube pan & pour the batter into it. Bake about an hour & 15 minutes, until golden on top. You know it's done if a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cake.

If, like me, you need to eat something savory in the morning before you have coffee cake, last night's dinner is a quick and delicious choice:

Dilly Egg Muffins

1 tbsp. butter

1/2 tsp. dill

1 tbsp. flour

3/4 c. milk

3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Salt & pepper, to taste

2 eggs

1 English muffin, halved

Melt butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the dill and cook about a minute. Add the flour, stirring well to get rid of any lumps, and cook until slightly browned. Lower heat to a simmer. Stir in cheese, making sure to allow it to melt comepletely into the sauce. Add salt & pepper. Simmer on very low heat while you fry the eggs & toast the muffin. Serve eggs on muffin, topped with sauce. This recipe feeds one, but can easily be doubled or more.

While I'm blogging, I might as well add a couple of other dishes I've made over the past week. My granddaddy, Clyde, was one of my best friends. His very favorite birthday dinner was the beefsteak pie his mom, my great-grandma Sadie, made. Either my grandmom, my auntie, or I made it for him most years for his birthday. Now that he has died, I make it every year on his birthday in his memory. And because I love it as much as he did. Jeannene has gone back to being a pescatarian as of our return from Disney, but she made an exception for Clyde's pie. Mashed potatoes are a great side. Serve with your favorite veggies, too. I like a green salad or some steamed broccoli with this.

Grandma Sadie's Beefsteak Pie

2-crust pie shell (I use Pillsbury, but if you are more ambitious than I, by all means use a from-scratch crust. I lucked into 69 cent pie crust this time.)

2 lb. boneless roundsteak, with fat trimmed

2 tbsp. butter

1/4 c. water (my grandmom sometimes used beer & that's what I use)

Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cube the steak and dredge it in the flour. Melt butter in large skillet. Brown steak, in batches, in the butter, adding more if needed. Salt & pepper generously. Put pie shell bottom into pie plate. Fill with beef. Sprinkle with 1/4 c. water/beer. Top with the other pie shell & vent. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake another 45 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting. Serves 6.

The other night, Pie actually had a friend over for the first time since we've moved here. He lives just down the street and seems like a really nice kid. They hung out & played video games & watched anime, had a good ol' time. Jeannene invited him to stay for dinner, so I made what basically amount to Italianish sloppy joes, with crinkle fries, corn, & peaches. I think the recipe came from Southern Living several years ago, although I have slightly adapted it. The sandwiches reheat fairly nicely for lunch the next day.

Spicy Beef Rolls

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 small onion, chopped finely

1/2 c. tomato sauce

1/2 c. ketchup

3 tbsp. parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. fennel seeds

1/4 tsp. oregano

6 Kaiser rolls

6 slices Provolone cheese (mozzarella would be fine, too)

2 tbsp. softened butter

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown the beef with the onion. Drain. Add tomato sauce, ketchup, parmesan, garlic powder, fennel, oregano. Simmer 15 minutes. Mix butter, garlic powder, & paprika. Spread on half of each roll. Add beef and cheese slices. Wrap in foil and bake 15 minutes. Serves 6.

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