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Monday, September 29, 2014

A bit of this and that

I am really liking the new small plates offered at many restaurants--tapas really, though sometimes a tad more generous. Betty (my dining adventure pal) and I had dinner at Sera in Fort Worth recently and decided to split small plates of ham croquettes and lamb skewers. Delicious. But when the waiter came back I said, "I'm still hungry." He laughed and said he thought we would be. So we split a plate of roasted cauliflower and charred leeks. I'm not a huge cauliflower fan but this was small bits perfectly roast; I'm also not a fan of charred vegetables--who needs the burnt taste? But these leeks were perfectly cooked with no black on them. And it all came on a rich tomato sauce. One of the best small plates I've had in a long time. I may try to experiment and replicate that at home.
Tonight I served pulled bbq to company--it was delicious, if I do say so. The meat is easy to cook--throw it in the crockpot and make a sauce with coffee, ketchup, bacon, chili powder, paprika, etc. Reserve half the sauce, and pour the rest over the meat. Cook on medium for 9-10 hours. Then comes the hard part: pull the meat. Some pieces pull easily, others demand to be cut in chunks. Then you make a sauce of the drippings in the pot (reduced) and other things like vinegar, hot sauce, etc. Pour part over meat and let it soak in; reserve the rest to pass with the meal. As always I did it yesterday and reheated today. I've made it before but forgotten that pulling the meat is a lot of work. But it was worth it. It's a recipe from Cook's Kitchen--trying look up Slow Cooker Shredded Beef BBQ Sandwiches. Christopher Cook runs that kitchen where they try fix or six different ways of doing something and then tell you which worked best.
For dessert, Mary Helen's Mother's Coffee Cake, which I'm sure I've posted before, but here goes:
Heat oven to 350. Prepare Bundt pan by greasing thoroughly (I prefer solid shortening for this) and then sprinkling with mixture of equal parts granulated sugar and cinnamon.
Mix thoroughly,
1 box cake mix (you can use whatever flavors you like--we prefer chocolate, though if you can find a banana cake mix, that's good; I suppose vanilla would be good too, especially drizzled with a little rum; I knew a woman who did strawberry, which didn't sound good to me at all)
1 box instant pudding mix
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1-1/2 c. sour cream
4 eggs.
Batter will be stiff. Pack it into Bundt pan, smoothing as evenly as possible. Sprinkle sugar/cinnamon generously over the top.
Bake one hour. Use a skewer, etc., to test for doneness.
Now here comes the crucial part: removed from oven and let sit five minutes--NO LONGER. Slide a silver knife around outside edges and cone in the middle. Put a plate over the cake and invert. It should come out in one perfect piece. If you wait longer, half the cake stays in the pan--trust me, I've done it.
A p.s. I don't use low fat ingredients for any of this because I've come to the realization that if they take the fat out, they put something in to substitute. I'd rather eat the enemy I know.
Make a wonderfully moist cake.

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