Loaves & Dishes
By Jennie Geisler Erie Times-News staff blogger
Follow Jennie Geisler's kitchen adventures on her Loaves & Dishes blog.   Read more about this blog.
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Archive for November, 2011
Posted: November 30th, 2011

You know you want this.

I love book-drawing Wednesday. First, it keeps my desk from getting cluttered. Second, I love getting e-mail from readers. Third, I love getting e-mail from readers. So check this out and then send me some e-mail.

Last week’s book, “Gooseberry Patch: Big Book of Home Cooking.” is on its way to Priscilla Cochran.

If you are not Priscilla Cochran, gather your motivation to check out \"Fine Cooking Cookies: 200 Favorite Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More\"
I should warn you, none of the recipes in this book are simple. All of them look delicious, but this isn’t for someone who wants to whip something up before a party, unless you like to take a couple of hours to whip something up. I made one slightly modified recipe from it (I call it Cranberry Crumb Bars) that I’ll write about in a future column, and it had a few time-consuming steps.
If you’re an ambitious baker, though, and are always on the lookout for something special, this is for you. It contains 200 recipes, most of them gorgeously photographed.

If you want to win the book, send me an e-mail at jennie.geisler@timesnews.com including the name of the book, your name and your mailing address, so I can get it to you if you win.

Here’s one recipe, the shortest I could find, that I will photocopy before I send this out, along with a few others. Well, maybe more than a few:

1/2 pound, (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature; more for the cookie sheets
12 ounces (2 2/3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet with butter.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt to blend. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), beat the butter and 1 1/2 cups of the sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the eggs, until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl again. With the mixer on low speed, slowly blend in the flour mixture until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
3. In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls into the cinnamon sugar and roll around to coat. Set the coated balls of dough about 3 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown on the edges and slightly soft in the center, 15 to 18 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 1 minute before transferring them to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
– Joanne Chang, “Fine Cooking Cookies”

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: November 29th, 2011

Ever heard of San Franciso Pork Chops? Thank goodness I finally have.

As much as I love to cook, getting home at 6 p.m. and looking in the freezer for dinner can be just as exhausting for me as for anyone else.
My son doesn’t eat much, but pizza is his current favorite meal. I’ve baked up more frozen pizza in the past three months than I had in the previous year put together. Hubby likes it too, so it’s hard not to give in.
But I don’t kid myself into thinking it’s anything close to a wholesome meal. Finding something to throw together in the same amount of time is a challenge, but this one for San Francisco Pork Chops definitely counts.
One piece of advice: When you make the sauce, don’t add the cornstarch and water slurry until the rest of the ingredients are hot in the sauce pan. I think it’s kind of confusing the way the recipe writer described it.
Other than that, this looks like a winner.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: November 25th, 2011

Awwww. Aren't they cute?

Some might be sick of cooking by now. Even if you didn’t do the bird, you might have brought pies or side dishes. Your fridge packed with leftovers and you’re looking forward to a plain old turkey and Miracle Whip sandwich tonight with cold cranberries and reheated green bean casserole.
Part of me feels that way.
Another part of me wants to hit Wegmans on the way home … My son is at his cousins’ house until tomorrow, and it seems like a good opportunity to goof around in the kitchen.
What I really want to do is bake, but I have cookies, apple pie and pumpkin roll stacked on the counter right now, so that would just be ridiculous, even for me.
The other thing I want to do is make that pasta and kale turkey casserole I wrote about in my column that appeared Wednesday.
Or …. I could ransack my recipe stash … hmmm.
Here’s one I found that could be good on the side of a cold turkey sandwich:
Butternut Squash Casserole

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: November 23rd, 2011

Why is it that raw turkeys look so much more gross than cooked turkeys?

I don’t know what to make of this. It never would have occurred to me to roast a turkey from frozen. As I read this story, I could feel my brow wrinkles deepen. I thought surely it was to be dismissed, until I read that the idea, which appeared in USA Today Wednesday, is supported by the likes of

  • Peter Snyder of the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management, which does safety training for food companies
  • Donald Schaffner, a food microbiologist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.,
  • Kathy Bernard of USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline
  • and
  • Carol Miller of the Butterball Turkey Talk-line

Marnie Oberle and I were scratching our heads over this one, but it’s hard to argue with those credentials. Snyder says a turkey roasted from frozen actually tastes better.
I’m not cooking a turkey this year, but I almost want to just to try it.

With this in mind, if you’re worried about getting the bird thawed before oven-time tomorrow, don’t worry, I guess.


Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: November 22nd, 2011

This is how potato pancakes are supposed to look.

I dug the root crops out of my garden a couple of weeks ago and John wanted mashed potatoes. They were awesome, if I do say so, but there were a lot of leftovers.
One night last week, I wanted potato pancakes. “How hard can this be?” I wondered, and scooped potatoes, smashed them into disks and plopped them in the frying pan.
Something went very wrong. They didn’t fry. They melted.
I guess I made all kinds of mistakes:

  • I didn’t wash the skillet after I cooked eggs in it for the same meal. Maybe that was bad.
  • The potatoes had butter in them. Maybe that just melted.
  • I didn’t coat them in anything, or stir in any eggs. Duh.

Well, in case you have mashed potatoes left over from Thursday, here’s how you do it, according to, well, everybody but me:
Leftover mashed potato pancakes

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: November 21st, 2011

Cranberries star in chutney summoned to the Hutchison Thanksgiving dinner.

I am tasked with bringing three dishes on Thursday for the Hutchison family gathering.. Two of them I’ve made before and are pretty much mandatory. One is an apple pie that John bought from a fundraiser. That reminds me, I have to get that out of the freezer. Tough dish, that one.
The other two are Cranberry Chutney and a citrus salad.
The citrus salad is pretty simple. I buy two of every type of orange or grapefruit in Wegmans produce section. It takes a while to peel and chop, but it’s not hard. Stir it up with a jar of maraschino cherries for color.
The chutney’s not hard either. It just requires a few moments of coughing and choking by myself and family as the vinegar boils. My sister-in-law loves it, especially served over cream cheese with crackers. I love it too. I’ve written about it in my column before, but I think it bears repeating..

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 (12-ounce) package fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup peeled, diced apple
1/4 teaspoon each allspice, ginger, cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1. Combine water and sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat.
2. Add rest of the ingredients, return to a boil and simmer 15 minutes.
3. Pour into a medium glass mixing bowl. Place piece of plastic wrap directly on sauce.
4. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to blend.
5. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Serve by itself or pour it over a brick of cream cheese and spread it on crackers.
Makes 21/2 cups

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: November 18th, 2011

My applesauce looks like this. If yours is too pale, dump some cinnamon into it, and other stuff, too.

I needed to make something simple last night for the features departments’ monthly celebration creatively referred to as “Food Day.”
I wanted to make the pumpkin bread I wrote about the other day, but I didn’t have any pumpkin and I couldn’t get to the Conneaut grocery store, which is only open, it seems, by appointment.
So I made Applesauce Bread instead. The whole loaf was gone before lunch, and two coworkers asked me for the recipe after one bite.
A few notes: I used homemade applesauce. If you use store bought, bump up the seasonings with 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ginger and 1/8 teaspoon cloves.
Also, I topped the batter with a mixture of 2 tablespoons melted butter, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1/2 cup chopped pecans.
Here’s the fun part: When I was ready to crack the egg, it occurred to me that I didn’t have any. I’d just used the last ones for our scrambled-egg dinner.
(Yes, we had scrambled eggs and leftover mashed potatoes for dinner last night. What of it?)
With the grocery store closed. I drummed my fingers on the counter trying to figure out what I could use as a substitute for an egg.
Stumped, I sat down at the computer and Googled “substitute for eggs in baking.” That took me to an amazing web site that offered dozens of options.
I chose 2 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon oil and 2 teaspoons baking powder.
The bread was very moist and cakey, but not in a bad way. I also just figured out that I used 1/4 cup too much applesauce, so that might explain the very moist part.
Anyway, it’s highly edible. And, apparently, forgiving.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: November 17th, 2011

Green Bean Casserole: Beyond the soup can

While I wouldn’t normally recommend trying a new dish on Thanksgiving,, rules are meant to be broken., and Not Your Typical Green Bean Casserole looks like a worthy exception.
It’s not going to win any nutritional contests. Colleague Jeff Hileman calls it “decadent.” I’m inclined to agree. But if you’re going to blow your diet, skip the cheeseburger and do it with a dish like this.
The traditional Thanksgiving green bean casserole, made with canned cream of mushroom soup and fried onions, is fine, of course. But this creamy, colorful departure would be welcome on my table any day of the year.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: November 16th, 2011

Gooseberry Patch has another winner.

Thanks to everyone who wrote to me for this week’s book drawing.
“Simply Fresh: Casual Dining at Home with Ruby Tuesdays,” by Jeff Morgan goes to Darcie Rzomp.

If you are not Darcie Rzomp, feel free to enter to win “Gooseberry Patch: Big Book of Home Cooking.” This is a pretty big book, alright. While I love Gooseberry Patch stuff, I simply don’t have the room to store it.

To enter, send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com with
your NAME
your MAILING ADDRESS, so I can send the book to you if you win

Look forward to hearing from you: Good luck.
I wrote about the Pea Soup with Ham recipe recipe from the book in my Loaves & Dishes column Oct. 19.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: November 15th, 2011

I was on a roll last weekend. We had an extra day off for Veteran’s Day, which meant a quiet few hours at home alone. A long list of chores awaited after I got some chili in a crock pot.
Said dinner required a trip to the store. Then I decided to make apple crisp. Then corn bread to go with the chili. And pumpkin bread, just because I wanted some. Pretty soon it was 3 and I had to pick the kid up at 4.
Chores left undone, but it was a fabulous meal that we enjoyed for days. And so much more fun than cleaning the basement.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch-by5-inch loaf pan
2. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
3. Combine milk and vanilla in a small bowl.
4. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy.
5. Beat eggs in one at a time. Add pumpkin and stir until blended.
6. Add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk mixture, beating on low speed.
7. Fold in walnuts, and pour batter into prepared pans.
8. Bake one hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan 5 to 10 minutes, and remove to cool completely on a wire rack.
— Joy of Cooking

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