Tag Archives: Mollie Katzan

Coffee Cake

Cardamon Coffee Cake. Sour Cream Cardamom Coffee Cake.

I first had this cake maybe thirty years ago, and I remember it as if it were yesterday….and the memory still makes my mouth water.

It was a cold, crisp day in the fall…a day much like today.

Pat and Troy, two excellent bakers, were at work standing with a cake dish that had the most amazing cake smell coming from it.

I immediately became so focused on the CAKE that I can’t remember who made that particular cake, but it did inspire the other to make a second cake a few weeks later, so I had this cake twice in a month, lucky lucky lucky me…

Back to that first CAKE.

This image is from the Bakepedia website - there will be a link in a minute.

This image is from the Bakepedia website – there will be a link in a minute.

Don’t be deceived by appearances, it’s not just the look – which is that of a very nice coffee cake – but the aroma,

Oh, The AROMA!

And thus I smelled cardamom (or evidently, as  the English call it cardamon , which must be why I am going back and forth between the two spellings) for the very first time. 

Troy and Pat were discussing pre-ground cardamon versus buying the pod and grinding your own, as well as the expense….for the money, buy the pods and grind your own, it doesn’t take that much time or effort and it is 100 times better at much less then 100 times the cost.

spice-islands-ground-cardamom-2-oz-pack-of-3_1566247

Ground cardamom – sure , it’s good….but you can do better!

If you don't have a spice grinder OR a little mortar and pestle, you can use a baggie and a rolling pin (or other weight object) to grind it fresh - no excuses!

If you don’t have a spice grinder OR a little mortar and pestle, you can use a baggie and a rolling pin (or other weighty object) to grind it fresh – no excuses!

Then the conversation went to the vast amount of butter – a POUND – that goes in, as well as the vast amount of sour cream that goes in – a POUND – ….

This is not a cake to make impulsively, or for yourself.

This is a cake for an OCCASION, an  EVENT, a HOLIDAY, a GATHERING, a CROWD.

You will need a big bowl.

But first, you will need a recipe.

So did I.

It took me a while to find the recipes. Every time I got into a bookstore, I couldn’t remember WHICH of the Mollie Katzan

Mollie Katzan, the Moosewood years

Mollie Katzan, the Moosewood years

books it was, and when I got one I made soups and salads, because REALLY how is a dessert vegetarian??????Most desserts don’t have meat in them….and I had cake and cookie and dessert cookbooks to give me all the sugar and spice and everything nice recipes that I could make.

moosewood_large

This is the cookbook with the Sour Cream Cardamon Coffee Cake to Die For Recipe in it

When I finally brought the right cookbook home, and got past the Gypsy Soup – this is SUCH Gypsy Soup weather….

page from the book - I recognized Gypsy Soup at a glance!

page from the book – I recognized Gypsy Soup at a glance!

I bought the cardamon and copious amounts of sour cream and butter and got everything mise-en-place, I went to bed to get up early, make coffee and make the cake. Had to use my trusty Kitchen-Aid, my biggest Budnt pan, which I put on a baking sheet, just in case there was overflow……it’s a LONG bake, but after about 25 minutes….back to

Oh, The AROMA!

It was a downright cold day the day I baked, and I hesitated to take it out of the pan because I didn’t want it to collapse, so I popped the pan, on the baking sheet in the back seat of the car, the one that smelled like baked beans in the hot summer sun, and set off to work. Once more,

Oh, The AROMA!

and when I arrived at work, before I could find a plate big enough to turn the cake out of the pan on, I found myself  surround by curious co-workers, and conversation about cardamon being so important to Finnish Christmas cooking, and the secret ingredient  of really good Chai …..and when the cake came out, a little slumped under the weight of the sour cream and the butter and the sugar and the spice…..and there were pieces of cake and plates and all passed around and then….silence.

A moment of silence.

We don’t get many of those in the workplace, so I wasn’t sure if it was endorsement or disappointment.

NOT disappointment!

More plates, pieces saved for lunch, pieces saved for those not in quite yet…..

I’ve made this cake several times, always the same reception.  But I haven’t made it recently.

But a lunchtime conversation about cardamom with someone named Molly….cardamon flashback

I will be making this coffee cake sooner rather then later…..

Being separated from my cookbooks only makes things more interesting.

What I’ve found on the Internet:

  1. This is an Occasional Cake – crave it occasionally, make it for a special occasion. This is not an everyday  cake.
  2. There are some who would cut back on the butter and/or the sour cream or shrink the volume to fit into an 8×8 pan- IGNORE THEM. They are idiots. They have completely missed the point. If you want low fat make an angelfood cake or eat a piece of fruit.
  3. You will need a big bowl, a big pan and some big time. It’s 90 minutes, at least, in the oven alone.
  4. It will be totally worth it.

And now for the links:

  • Bakepedia – Cardomom Coffee Cake – the first of their Throwback Thursday posts, and Mollie in her own words
  • Enchanted Fig Huge and Beautiful Cardamom Coffee Cake:  Momma Diaries 2
  •  Art of Gluten-free Baking  – Coffee Cake Friday: Cardamom Coffee Cake, Gluten-Free
cardamom in flower

cardamom in flower

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24 Carrot Gold

Exactly how  many carrots are to a pound depend on the size of the carrots, but if you have 24 lovely little carrots, or about 3 pounds (2 1/2 pounds for cooking and a 1/2 pound for snacking) you can make some carrot salad for the days that remind you that although the Dog Days are over, summer isn’t really over quite yet, and some carrot soup for the days can get chilly and tell you Fall is coming soon, just not as soon as all the pumpkin flavored everything that is available would seem to indicate.

More then enough carrots here to make both soup and salad

More then enough carrots here to make both soup and salad, and have a little carrot nosh in the interim

CARROT SALAD

¾ cup dried chick peas or white beans

1 or 2 garlic cloves

1 ½ pounds carrots

1/3 cup olive oil

¼ cup vinegar –wine or cider

¼ – ½ cup chopped parsley

1 or 2 cloves garlic, crushed

Scallions OR fresh cut chives or garlic chives (you might want to omit the garlic cloves if you go this route)

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground cumin or ground coriander

Optional –

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

And/or 1/3 cup minced fresh dill

  1. Cook the chickpeas or the beans with the garlic. Drain well.
  2. Peel the carrots, or merely scrub them well if they’re very fresh and thin skinned. Cut them into thin, flat matchstick pieces, 1½ inches long by ¼ inch wide. Steam them for 5 – 10 minutes – just tender.
  3. Rinse under cold running water and drain well.
  4. Combine olive oil, vinegar, herbs and spices in a large bowl.
  5. Add cooked beans and mix well.
  6. Add cooked carrots and toss gently.
  7. Cover tightly and refrigerate.

4-6 servings

Adapted from Mollie Katzan. Still Life with Menu Cookbook. Ten Speed Press. 1988. pp. 157-8.Still life with Menu

Carrots come in many colors and can be used interchangeably

Carrots come in many colors and can be used interchangeably

CREAMY CARROT SOUP

2 cup chopped onion

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into rounds

4 cups broth

1 cup white wine

½ cup ricotta cheese

½ teaspoon celery seed or dill seed

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cook onions and garlic in butter over medium heat until translucent.
  2. Add carrots and cook. Covered, another 5-10 minutes, until the carrots start to sweat (the juices start to come out of them).
  3. Add broth and wine, raise heat.
  4. Bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer until the carrots are soft.
  5. Puree mixture in a blender or a food processor.
  6. Put the puréed back in the pan over low heat and add ricotta, celery seed and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Heat thoroughly and serve.

Makes about 2 quarts.

From A Musical Treat: Good Food is Music for the Palate. Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra Volunteer League. 1995. p.49.This is a recipe I contributed. It’s an amalgam of several different recipes that finally became mine.

carrot blossom-Daucus_carota_May_2008-1_edit

Carrot in flower – Queen Anne’s Lace is really wild carrot. It used to be known as Bird’s Nest. Those little flower ends keep curling up as they form seeds

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Filed under Books, Recipe, Summer

Beet it!

It’s a great time of year for beets, and by beets I mean red beetroot.

Central Italian School, 17th century

Central Italian School, 17th century. On closer inspection these ‘beets’ look more like turnips, but the little pan with the eggs….and that great big beautiful ham…and the cabbage, Oh, the cabbage..and the lovely little smoked mozzarella.

‘Turnip the Beet’ would be a great name for a rock band…..seems it’s not my most original thought today

 

 

Mint_2014-06-01_00-53

Mint – great time to pot some up to take indoors for the winter

But it’s also a great time for mint….actually it’s a great time for gardens in general. Warm days, cool nights, everything ready for the Harvest Moon on the 10th.harvest moon

Back to mint – so you have a few handfuls of mint, either because it’s chosen to grow everywhere you didn’t plant it or it’s doing just fine where you did plant it (you put it in a pot, didn’t you?) or they had really big bunches at the Farmer’s Market and they were practically giving it away? In any case, dry some for the winter (wash, shake, hang upside down out of direct sunlight but where there is good air circulation and when it’s dry, take it down and put it in a jar, either still on the stem or take the leaves off and use it all winter, because when the snow melts and the weather warms up, there will be more fresh.

Or you can make some mint vinegar.

Yes, you can.

Yes, YOU can.

Easy Peasey.

Mint Vinegar

1 pint wine vinegar, heated (save the bottle for the finished product)

1 pint clean fresh mint leaves

2 cloves

1 clove garlic, peeled

Crush the leaves slightly in your hands. Add clove and garlic and pour over the heated vinegar. Cover and let stand.

After 24 hours, remove the garlic clove.

Let stand 2 weeks.

After 2 weeks, strain and press though a cloth through a cloth. Discard the plant material. Bottle the vinegar and cover tightly. I use the same bottle the vinegar came in, and add a big MINT label to it. You can use other herbs the same way. Tarragon, for instance.

Irma Goodrich Mazza. Herbs in the Kitchen. Third edition, revised. Little Brown and Company.1939, 1947, 1975.

Herbs in the KitchenEven easier? Wash and dry the mint (say a cup, pack it in, it needs to be a little crushed, leaves no stems)  Put it in the bottom of a large clean jar. Top with vinegar, up to a quart. LABEL and set in the sun. After 2 week, if it smells good enough, strain through a coffee filter lined strainer and re bottle to use.

Minty Fresh Beet Salad

8 medium sized beets (2 inches diameter)
2 tablespoon raspberry vinegar (or any other fruit vinegar or apple cider vinegar or mint vinegar)
3 tablespoons oil, whatever you like on your salads
3 small very well mushed and minced garlic cloves (I love my garlic press)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ (packed) cup fresh coarsely chopped mint leaves
Optionals – this is the and/or list to make the salad:
½ cup crumbled feta cheese or ½ cup crumbled blue cheese or ¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese….you see the pattern
½ cup or more plain Greek yoghurt
Leafy greens – lettuce, spinach, any sort of salad mix…..
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
2 cups cold cooked white beans (more or less)
2 cups cold cooked macaroni (more or less)
1. Cook the beets. (If it’s not fresh beet season and you have a can, drain and rinse and proceed). Boil them or bake them until tender. Rub the skins off in cold running water.

2. Dry your now tender naked beets with a paper towel. Slice them in half the long way and cut them into very thin half moons. Put them in a bowl or a jar with a cover.
3. Mix together the dressing: the vinegar, oil, garlic, salt and mint. Pour over the beets and mix well.
4. Cover and let marinate for at least 12 hours. This will keep for up to a week….I usually manage 3 or 4 days…..
5. Salad time options:
a. Add cheese and serve.
b. Add Greek yoghurt and serve.
c. Serve over leafy greens, with or without dairy.
d. Top with quartered hard boiled eggs, with or without leafy greens
e. Add cooked white beans while marinating and serve with or without dairy, topped or not with hard boiled eggs over leafy greens or not…..
f. Mix with cold macaroni and Greek yoghurt over leafy greens and if there’s anything left, beat a couple of eggs, stir it all together and have a frittata, topped with whatever cheese you have on hand…
g. And pears – this goes really well with pears, especially pears and blue cheese….
Adapted and inspired from ‘Marinated Beets with Mint’ if Mollie Katan, Still Life with Menu 1988 Ten Speed Press. p. 57.

Still life with Menu

 

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Crunchy Granola

You are what you eat and you eat what you are.


Although granola’s been around since the 19th century

Kellog's Granola 1893

Kellogg Granola 1893

I never heard of it until the 1970’s, when crunchy granola was bona fide hippie food. With my waist length hair, wire rimmed granny glasses, India print warp skirt, and Swedish clogs, I was SO there. I was crunchy granola.

And what could be better than buying granola?

Making your own. Bonus points to listening to Dale Dorman on the WRKO radio at the same time. (Stairway to Heaven)

This is what he looked like back in the day....

This is what he looked like back in the day….

This is what he looked like when we went to Oldies 106 at 5 am to do a how for Thanksgiving just a few years ago.

This is what he looked like when we went to Oldies 106 at 5 am to do a how for Thanksgiving just a few years ago. Somedays it’s easier to get into Pilgrim clothes at 4:00 AM then others!

Uber bonus points for waiting  for the night WATD played Folk Music with Dick Pleasants.

Dick Pleasants , active all over the Boston and CApe Cod folk/,bluegrass/aucostic/etc music scene.

Dick Pleasants , active all over the Boston and Cape Cod folk/,bluegrass/acoustic/etc music scene.

(Amy, what you wanna do?/I think I could stay with you/For a while, maybe longer if I do) Pure Prairie League 1974

My first attempt came shortly after I got some recipe cards in the mail. Cards for an all-natural cooking series….and you would get more cards each month for a low introductory fee….printed out by some big company. I think I still have the free box that was my gift to keep whatever – I’m not one to look a gift box in the mouth, as it were.

I was too young and naïve to see the irony in all this.

Until these cards arrived, I hadn’t thought that Granola was something that could be made at home.

Granola was in the same category as Wheaties and Cheerios and Grapenuts and Life. Cereal made in a factory, came in a box, you  eat it and buy more. Beginning and end of story.

The same Quaker Oats that made oatmeal raisin cookies cold make granola? Wicked cool!

Into the kitchen go I.

These self-same oats must be toasted.

One of the inherent problems is that oats go from toasted to toast – make that charred tasting and truly nasty – in a flash. And once smoke detectors became de rigueur, it became annoying and embarrassing.  Maybe this was just MY problem and not an oat problem.

I’ve since read about a Theory of Cooking Relativity, that we all have a set point of how much/how well our cooking chops are, and sometimes we must lose something we’ve thought we’d mastered in order to take up something else new; that there’s always something that we don’t get good at. Sort of a Superpower/Kryptonite sort of thing.

I also burn English muffins in the toaster. I was becoming rather famous for it. I stopped toasting English muffins in the toaster, and now I only toast them in a toaster oven, watching them the whole time.

By this time I had collected quite a few recipes for granola, and tried them. Most of them were sad stories, never to be retold.

You’re welcome.

Then I discovered: Stove top granola. -enchantedbroccoliforest-katzen-cvr-200

Thank you Mollie Katzan.

Mollie Katzan now - she has yet another book out....

Mollie Katzan now – she has yet another book out….

Just when I had forgotten about stove top granola, dear Ms Katzan came out with Still Life with Menu Cookbook, which is my favorite of hers, (although I’m madly in love with all of the ones she wrote for children, too.) and mentioned it again. In case you missed it the first time. Or just plain forgot.Still life with Menu

Pretend Soup - one of my faves!

Pretend Soup – one of my faves!

I still cut out granola recipes and save them – even today David Levovitz  with NO BAKE GRANOLA BARS (it would be a challenge for even me to burn these- I’ll let you know how they turn out). I have these clippings: Jane Dornbusch in the Boston Globe (trimmed off the  date, but a Wednesday when the food pages had gone to the pullout G-section, because food is now with the Funny pages. And the horoscopes and the word puzzles); Melissa Clark in the NYTimes July 15, 2009 with a more savory than sweet granola; Jill Santopietro form the Globe, May 2, 2007.

But they all include coconut. It not that I don’t like coconut, I do. What’s a pina colada without it? Or coconut cake? I just don’t care for it in granola. And it’s usually a large enough component that leaving it out leaves things unbalanced.

I don’t like recipes that make me fretful before I’d begun.

But there was ONE recipe that coconut was an add-in, not the base, if only I could find it.

Again.

I had a dream….I have very vivid dreams.

AND in this dream I was in a 15th century bake house (straight from a picture I’d be drooling over the day before) and as I was in this bakehouse all the walls became a golden color, and the outlines became red…

Forno -1481 French

Forno -1481 French

When I woke up, I thought “Tassajara Bread Book”

the-tassajara-bread-book_1

The last recipe, #98 in Tassajara?  Granola. No Coconut. Why is there a granola recipe in a bread book? It was the ’70’s.

In the meantime, I’ve eaten most of the ingredients I bought for the granola project…and just today David Lebovitz (Living the Sweet Life in Paris)  published No Bake Granola Bars…..here’s the link:

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2014/02/no-bake-granola-bars-recipe/

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Filed under Books, Perception ways, The 1970's