Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas! HAM

This month has slipped by so quickly that I haven't been able to give you more postings. None of it was a matter of shopping for Christmas presents, because I refuse to play along anymore. It was some sort of narcolepsy en croute with nausea gravy. No, not the flu.
I did make some King Arthur dog biscuits for a couple of my canine friends, Jasmine and Raymu. Then John and SuZann will be getting a jar of that batch of brandied raisins I made at mid-year for an ice cream recipe. SuZann doesn't drink alcohol, so, these babies will get her looped. John likes good wine, and brandy is made from wine, and so the raisins will be compatico to John's preferences. I do aim to please.
The local friends drive to far away places to spend Christmas with their families. No one visits here. And, although we miss them and would love to see them, I don't expect my in-laws to drive 12 hours for a meal and no presents. We prefer they don't have to travel at all, that they stay warm and cozy in their homes, safe and sound instead of spending an insane amount of money on gasoline. Besides, we keep in touch often during the rest of the year.

However, we will be having company after Christmas Day, when my old friend Patrick arrives all the way from La Quinta. We haven't seen him in 9 years, when they were visiting Donna's mother, the next county over. And since that fun time, our moms and Donna passed away, each of them one year apart to the exact day. All of our lives went through change, and change again, forever leaving their foozie plotz on our hearts for the rest of ours.
When such a friendship spans 39 years, it becomes a treasure trove of funny memories. When we all first met, the three of us worked at Denny's. Patrick and I worked the graveyard shift at the one on Hwy.111, and Donna worked swing at the big Denny's with the Amigo Room out on the old Hwy. 10. We barely knew each other when Patrick decided to test my cool. He grabbed a meat cleaver and a can of whipped cream, made a scary face at me and then chased me into the ladies restroom. I laughed my butt off. You had to be there because it was like a cartoon. Funnier still were the two sheriffs drinking coffee, who paid no attention to it whatsoever. Later on I came to find out there was a time when Patrick was a deputy, so, these guys were used to his antics.
But what a great surprise for Christmas! The original Fonz.

This particular recipe for ham was one my mother used. I don't know if it was her own, or if she got it from a gal pal at a dinner party. She made this for Easter, one year, (and I do mean one), and I about died from the pleasure of this melt-in-your-mouth hump diddy with its sass of apricot jam and ground cloves and brown sugar, all baked into meat-love perfection. Even the fat couldn't have been done any better, with its golden brown to almost black variances from crispy to greasy. And every time I have used this recipe, it comes out the same fabulous way.
When Grandmother Jeanette fell ill to old age, she developed odd hurdles to jump, one being she had a fungus on the back of her tongue and had to gargle with this awful stuff known as gentian lilac. It stained the inside of her mouth purple and killed her taste buds. Mother was hard pressed to come up with a special visit dinner, as Grandma liked her own cooking and no one else's would do. There were 'the ways' to follow, and a schedule to stick to, and everything had to be done so-so. But, this time Grandma had no choice in the matter. It was interesting to see the shoe on the other foot with her sitting at the kitchen table, watching the action, with hands crippled from rheumatoid arthritis, unable to contribute to the family meal. She could barely hold a fork. And she couldn't chew hard. She...couldn'
Finally, in Grandma's eyes, Marie did something right. That ham, melted in her mouth and coated her tongue with zippy juices and...she could taste it! Rightfully so, Mother was quite proud.
This may or may not be on time for Christmas, but do try it anyway.

Pink Elephants coffee Cafe
Adapted from Linda's mom's recipe.

1/2 already cooked, bone-in ham

1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. dry mustard
3/4 tsp. ground cloves

1 14-oz. jar Apricot Preserves (original recipe called for baby food)

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Rinse off ham (always rinse off store bought pork) and place in foil-lined roasting pan, with one lengthways and one crossing that sideways, all sides high enough to fold over and seal the ham closed. Try to have the cut end exposed. If ham isn't shaped to do that, put it cut side down. It's preferable to expose the cut end.
3. Coat ham, patting on the dry mixture all over, piling whatever is extra on top of the ham. Wrap up the foil over the ham to firmly close and place on rack in oven.
4. Bake at 400F for 1 1/2 hours (already cooked ham only).
5. Remove ham from oven, carefully open foil, and pile all of the apricot jam on top. Close to cover loosely open, and return to oven to cook for one more hour.

If a thicker sauce is desired, pour drippings into pan and stir in a little cornstarch/water.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kahlua Crunch Ice Cream

Let's take a break from turkey and ham, and pamper ourselves with a delicate and creamy delight which takes a holiday from the holidays. It is wise to work in spurts and stop to lick the beater for awhile.
What do you have on your list of fascinating foods? Is there a new member added to that list? Is there a new take on an old favorite? Do you organize by cold or hot? Sweet or savory? Salty or spicy? Some ladies organize by chocolate. I know that there are no index tabs that read "fascinating". This is more a mental list, things we 'keep in mind', as it were.
Homemade ice cream is high up on my list of fascinating foods. And David Lebovitz is high up there as an expert on making ice cream at home. He is spot on with his recipes and with his book The Perfect Scoop. He never gives reckless advice about food. If the recipe uses an odd duck spice or ingredient, he will lead you to where you need to go to learn about it. And he has never steered me wrong.
Recently, David recommended "Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams At Home" by Jeni Britton Bauer. Upon this generous revelation I wondered why on earth he would share the ice cream limelight. But, when he explained that she uses an egg-free base recipe, I HAD TO buy this book. And I don't regret it for a moment. Her method is easy, creamy, and without the potential to a liver train wreck. .
I developed this recipe, inspired by her recipe for Cognac Ice Cream. Her base recipe is sound.And I always wanted to try making Kahlua Ice Cream because, although it tastes like crap on its own, something wonderful gets born when you add cream.
Also in her book, there is a recipe for Honeycomb Krunch Candy using actual honey. It's actually an old recipe for Honeycomb Candy, named for that it is filled with layers of holes, like a sponge. It is airy and crunchy. Honey makes it sticky and, in my opinion, too sweet.

The memory came rushing in of a Kahlua Krunch Cake I had made in the 80's and 90's. It has eight whipped egg whites folded into the batter and then baked in a tube pan (like for Angel Food Cake). What you get is a cake lighter than air that melts in your mouth. The frosting is nothing more than freshly whipped cream packed with Kahlua Crunch Candy pieces. This produces a gentle texture compatibility with a whisper of Kahlua kisses, where you close your eyes and slowly chew each bite to enjoy it fully. Yeah, one of those experiences, like, "Not tonite, Dear. I have Kahlua Cake".
With all that in mind I KNOW what the ice cream is going to taste like. Sure would be nice to have the cake to go with it!

Tell me, peeps, are you gifted with olfactory memory? Do you have a keen sense of taste and smell? Do you develop recipes or do you just figure that if it could be done, it would have been done already ? I used to fall into the latter category, back in the days when Julia Child ruled the rangetop. Nowadays, I am overwhelmed by the flavor possibilities. I will never be an Iron Chef or the winner of Cupcake Wars, or as darling as Dorie Greenspan. But, like all of you I am still learning and it will be so until the day I plotz. You can be sure that I won't pass on a recipe without having made it myself.
If the information is known to me, I will always give credit to the originator of the recipe, or if I develop a recipe from another's, I will give you that information, as well. I am not a dietician or a nutritionist, it is not my job to break down a label complete with calorie count per portion and all of the stuff obsessed upon when dieting or dealing with dis-ease. For the record, I have total sympathy for those with food restrictions not of their own choosing, but I approach food in the way that is acceptable for me. And I aim for "delicious".
There are some religious folks who feel that it is sin to enjoy your food, and the cook has to eat in the kitchen by herself. I do not understand the why of these rituals emphasizing that food is only fuel and the wife and mother who cooks the food is beneath sitting to dine with her family. These rituals seem to coincide with the avoidance of joy, to please The Lord. This is the ancient school of self-hatred taught by those who believe we were put on this earth to suffer, just as they believe we are born pre-destined to burn in hell.
No room for such nonsense at my kitchen table. Food issues aren't good for anyone's health. I do tend to be hostile and sarcastic about certain folks who control others with their own dietary preferences, taking issue with anything and everything I eat. That I eat at all is a miracle, so, if I sit down to the table and can actually eat, it involves just a few bites. So, please don't make the eating unpleasant and exacerbate the stomach situation with anger and upset.
Used to be, as far as ice cream went, it had to be chocolate mint chip or dark chocolate. Then I managed a Baskin Robbins, which now has way more than the original 31 flavors. Still, the number one choice of the customers, of all things, was vanilla.
When Ben & Jerry's came into play, I snarfed down every flavor I could find, only to fall back into the rut of three habitual choices: Coffee Heath Bar Crunch, Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch, and Phish Phood (Mr. P's favorite). It doesn't matter, all of these flavors, we are creatures of habits formed. If you are a strawberry girl, you aren't going to be enticed by chocolate ice cream stuffed with Reese's peanut butter cups. It wouldn't be human!

This Kahlua Crunch Ice Cream is a dreamy experience. It is The Precious which Gollum will never see, (nor does that sniveling piece of snot deserve to!). Here, you have Kahlua flavored ice cream filled with little bits of Kahlua Candy Crunch which turn softish in the freezing process. They are tiny tears of Kahlua bursts with a teensy suggestion of crunch.

While it looks like all of the candy pieces floated to the top, believe me, it's in there.
On its own it is enough to satisfy, but I like to top it with fresh whipped cream flavored with 1 Tbsp. Kahlua and 2 Tbsp. sugar per 2 cups cream. Then I top it with a hefty sprinkling of dry Kahlua candy, which provides the actual crunch. The candy might have areas that are a tad salty,but that is from little lumps of baking soda that didn't mix in. You can see where it rests inside the bigger holes in the blobula, and this can be removed with a pastry brush before you break up the blob into pieces.
With the whipped cream, White Russians come to mind, minus the buzz, for there isn't near enough Kahlua used to weave an alcohol spell.......

What,...THAT? Yeah, well, I may have fibbed a little. My relatives tend to 'pop in' this time of year. Since he is here,.. meet my imaginary Uncle Morty. He is one of a trio of Smeg Men who hang out at the cafe with a purple clairvoyant who eats eggs and eyeballs. Eating eyeballs helps him 'see'.

And then there are Sol and Mosche, Uncle Morty's lodge brothers. Sol is a very naughty boy. Poofter boy and his beauty mark. Don't let the obsequious Sol fool you. He speaks with a lisp, yes, but he can't be trusted with sharp objects. They say that he is slightly cracked, but I don't know because he never takes his pants off!
Mosche chases cars and stuffs toads into his pockets. He barks at the moon ever since he learned to fly. He would rather play with rockets than to give his reasons why. Bubbe says he's hard to feed, his knickers are a-tatter. Off he flies, to the left and to the right, in his search for ever after.

"Obsequious, Purple and Clairvoyant" by Linda Odekirk Tewes
12" x 24" acrylic mixed media
3rd Place
Highland Art Center's 26th annual juried show, 2010

Pink Elephants coffee Cafe
Adapted from a recipe by Jeni Britton Bauer
Makes about 1 quart.

Measure out into narrow, deep, heavy-bottomed pot:

2 cups whole milk (divide into 2 Tbsp. for slurry into small bowl)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup


2 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. cornstarch
In a small bowl make a SMOOTH slurry by mixing together thoroughly. Set aside.

3 Tbsp. cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
In a small bowl, whisk together until smooth. Set aside.

1/4 cup Kahlua
1 cup Kahlua Crunch Candy pieces, about 1/4" size (recipe below)

1. Prepare a very large, deep bowl partially filled with ice cubes and centrally fitted with a smaller, deep, glass or stainless steel bowl. Keep center bowl DRY inside.
2. In deep, narrow, heavy-bottomed 4-quart pot, heat milk, cream, sugar, and corn syrup to the boil over medium-high heat, then boil for 4 min. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
3. Bring to the boil again and boil, stirring, for 1 min. only, using a spatula or a wooden spoon, until slightly thickened.
4. Gradually whisk a little of the hot mixture into the cream cheese/salt mixture and stir until smooth. Stir into mixture in the pot until smooth.
5. Stir in the Kahlua to mix thoroughly.
6. Pour the mixture into the centered glass bowl. Add more ice cubes around outside of it as necessary. Let stand without disturbing for about 30 min., until cold and slightly thickened.
7. Pour cooled mixture into your ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions. I let the machine churn for about 30 min., no longer. Mix in Kahlua Crunch Candy pieces.
8. Pour into freezer-proof container, cover top of ice cream with a cut-to-fit piece of parchment paper, and then secure with tight fitting lid.
9. Ice cream should be firm in 4 hours, but I prefer to freeze it overnight for reason of marrying the flavors so that it doesn't taste too sweet. You will probably let out a BLEAH when you taste it before it is frozen firm. Sickeningly sweet and a little weird.

Makes enough to fill a gallon-sized zipper bag.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place a 9" x 9" metal pan on that and line the pan with 2 pieces of parchment paper in a crossover so that all sides will overhang 3-4". Make sure this is centered on the cookie sheet. When it is time to pour in the blobula, it is going to expand and roll over the sides, like a school science project showing how lava flows. Now that you have been warned, you won't be so terrified of this process. It will come to an immediate stop as it cools before it has a chance to escape the papered perimeter under the pan.

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 cup Kahlua
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. baking soda, sifted and free of lumps

1. Into narrow, deep, heavy-bottomed pot, measure out all ingredients except the baking soda. Stir to mix and then bring to the boil and cook it to 310F (hard crack stage) on your candy thermometer, about 10 min.

2. Remove from heat and WORKING QUICKLY add the 1 Tbsp. baking soda (free from lumps). Mixture will foam rapidly the instant the baking soda is added. Stir briskly but just until the mixture thickens, and do not break down the foam with too much stirring.
3. Turn out into prepared 9" x 9" pan: DO NOT STIR. Let stand until cold (room temperature).

Peel paper gently off from bottom of blob, break into chunks to fit a gallon-sized zipper bag and, using a rolling pin or your fists, break down into 1/4" pieces to mix into the ice cream, and 1/2" pieces for sprinkling.

The leftover candy will keep in the sealed zipper bag for 1-2 months, stored in a cool, dry place (NOT the refrigerator), and can be used in other ice creams and recipes. It IS candy, keep in mind, so, you can munch away without feeling you are doing something weird.