Friday, December 24, 2010

Caramel Corn


7 quarts plain popped popcorn
2 cups dry roasted peanuts (optional)
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup salted butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Place the popped popcorn into two shallow greased baking pans. You may use roasting pans, jelly roll pans, or disposable roasting pans. Add the peanuts to the popped corn if using. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring enough to blend. Once the mixture begins to boil, boil for 5 minutes while stirring constantly.

Remove from the heat, and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will be light and foamy. Immediately pour over the popcorn in the pans, and stir to coat. Don't worry too much at this point about getting all of the corn coated.

Bake for 1 hour, removing the pans, and giving them each a good stir every 15 minutes. Line the counter top with waxed paper. Dump the corn out onto the waxed paper and separate the pieces. Allow to cool completely, then store in airtight containers or resealable bags.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blini with Caviar

Makes 4 dozen

To make the blini:
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (or one ¼ oz envelope)
½ cup warm water
1 cup all-purpose flour
coarse salt
½ cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tbs unsalted butter, melted (plus more for the pan)
½ tsp sugar
2 large eggs, separated

Serve with a dab of crème fraiche and a spoonful of caviar! These can also be served with melted butter, sour cream, smoked fish, and if you wish, strawberry jam.

In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over water. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together flour and ½ tsp plus a pinch of salt.

In a large bowl, stir together buttermilk, butter, sugar, and egg yolks; whisk in yeast mixture, then flour mixture. Let stand, covered in a warm place, for 30 minutes.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and coat with a thin layer of butter. Add a scant tablespoon batter for each blin (about 6-7 per skillet) and cook, flipping after bubbles appear at the edges and the color turns golden, 1 ½ to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a parchment-lined tray, and let cool for 30 minutes.

Garnish with crème fraiche and caviar.

Make ahead: Blini can be refrigerated for up to 2 days . Warm in a low-temperature oven before serving.

Croustillants (Cheese Crackers)

Serves 6

2 cups (250 g) shredded Comte or Gruyere cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 tbs unsalted butter
1 cup (155 g) all-purpose flour
pinch of cayenne pepper
2-3 tbs chopped chives
coarse sea salt

In a food processor, combine cheeses, butter, flour, and cayenne pepper. Process until well combined and crumbly (40-60 seconds).

Transfer mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 2 inches in diameter and 6-7 inches long. Roll the log in the plastic wrap , patting it while you work, so that it forms a smooth, even shape. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or for up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the dough and slice into rounds about ¼ inch thick. Arrange on 2 ungreased baking sheets, preferably nonstick, spacing the rounds about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle evenly with chives and then with a little salt.

Bake the crackers, 1 sheet at a time, until they are a light golden brown – 10-15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning. For crispier crackers, bake for up to 3 minutes longer, but do not let the edges brown or the crackers will taste bitter.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately with a light, spicy red wine or with a kir (crème de cassis with dry white wine in a champagne glass; you can also make a kir royal by replacing the white wine with champagne).

Roasted Figs with Goat Cheese Appetizer

I had an amazing figs with the goat cheese and walnuts appetizer last night (at Eno's in the Bishop Arts District in Dallas); I’m feeling inspired! This recipe is from one of my favorite chefs...David Lebovitz. You could do this as an amazing appetizer for Thanksgiving; just cut the tops off and leave the figs whole while baking (which will increase the oven time a little). When finished baking, let the figs cool a little. Then, simply use a melon-baller or a small spoon to scoop out a small bit of the fig on top (reserve for another use, or eat right away). Tuck a little goat cheese into the top of each fig, and finish by pressing a whole or some chopped walnuts on top! Serve warm!

Roasted Figs

serves 6-8

Use a baking dish or pan that will allow you to bake the figs in a single layer. One that is 2 quarts (2l) should do it. Depending on where you live, fresh fig season is near the end of summer and mid-autumn and the best place to find fresh figs is at a farmers market.

1 pound (450g) fresh figs
4-6 branches fresh thyme
2 tablespoons liquor, such as Chartreuse, Pernod, Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1 tablespoon dark or light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
three 1-inch (3cm) strips of fresh lemon zest

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC).

2. Slice the touch stem end off the figs and slice each in half lengthwise.

3. Toss the figs in a large baking dish with the thyme, liquor, brown sugar, honey, and lemon zest. Turn the figs so that they are all cut side down in the baking dish, in a single layer.

4. For figs that are softer and juicier, cover the baking dish snugly with foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the figs are softened and cooked through.

For figs that are firmer, with less liquid, roast them in the oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until cooked through.

5. When done, remove the baking dish from oven, lift off the foil, and let the figs cool completely.

Variation: For more savory figs, replace the liquor with one or two tablespoons balsamic or sherry vinegar.

Storage: Roasted figs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Shirley Schmidt's Shrimp Cocktail

Cooked and peeled large shrimp, cut into bite sized pieces celery, minced to a medium dice

Mix with a cocktail sauce composed of:

Heinz Chili Sauce
Heinz Cocktail Sauce
Fresh, prepared horseradish
Lea and Perins Worcesterhire sauce

Ruth Schmidt's Hash

2 cups yellow onions, ground (or chopped very fine in a food processor)
4 cups raw Russet potatoes, peeled and ground (or chopped very fine in a food processor)
4 cups cooked leftover pot roast, ground (or chopped very fine in a food processor)
2 plus cups gravy (you can use a McCormick package or a can of beef gravy if you don't have enough.

Mix all ingredients together and bake in a large rectangular casserole at 400º for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cinnamon Ice Cream

1 ½ cups whole milk
225 grams sugar
pinch of salt
15 sticks cinnamon, broken up
3 cups heavy cream
8 egg yolks

Warm the milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon sticks and 1 ½ cups cream in a medium saucepan. Once warm, remove from heat and cover; let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Re-warm the cinnamon-infused milk mixture. Remove the cinnamon sticks with a slotted spoon and discard.

Pour remaining 1 ½ cups cream into a large bowl and set a strainer on top. Also, prepare an ice bath that you can set the bowl with cream into.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Then, pour back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Pour the custard through a chinoise or strainer lined with cheesecloth into the cream. Place the bowl into the ice bath and stir until cool.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator; then, freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Makes 10-12 medium servings or about 1 ½ quarts.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Apple Crostata

This dessert is so easy! And, it looks impressive! It was an absolute hit at my last dinner party, and I will be making this from now on instead of apple pie!


For the pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated or superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:
1 1/2 pounds McIntosh, Macoun, or Empire apples (3 large)
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup granulated or superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

For the pastry, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse 12 to 15 times, or until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water all at once through the feed tube. Keep hitting the pulse button to combine, but stop the machine just before the dough becomes a solid mass. Turn the dough onto a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Flour a rolling pin and roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a piece of lightly floured parchment paper; transfer to a baking sheet.

For the filling, peel, core, and cut the apples into 8ths. Cut each wedge into 3 chunks. Toss the chunks with the orange zest. Cover the tart dough with the apple chunks leaving a 1 1/2-inch border.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Pour into a bowl and rub it with your fingers until it starts holding together. Sprinkle evenly on the apples. Gently fold the border over the apples to enclose the dough, pleating it to make a circle.

Bake the crostata for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the apples are tender. Allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serve warm with homemade cinnamon ice cream!

Serves 6-8

Note: If doubling the recipe, two tarts will fit side-by-side on one large baking sheet! Keep an eye on the top of the tart as it bakes; it may brown too quickly and need to be loosely covered with foil before it’s done.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock (using a whole chicken)

The pressure cooker produces a full-bodied stock in one-third the usual time because it quickly draws the gelatin out of the bones!

1 whole chicken
4 cups water
1 large onion, quartered (no need to peel)
a few leek greens (optional)
1 carrot, cut into chunks
1 rib celery, cut into chunks
2 large bay leaves
¼ tsp whole black peppercorns
1 small handful fresh parsley

Set a whole chicken in the pressure cooker, breast side up with 2 cups water and remaining ingredients, with the exception of the parsley. Cook for 20 minutes on high pressure. Allow pressure to come down naturally. Remove chicken, carve off meat, and reserve for another use. Return bones to the cooker, add parsley and 2 additional cups of water. Cook for an additional 20 minutes on high pressure.

Allow broth to cool. Strain into a storage container, pressing the solids to release all the liquid into the container. Chill; then remove congealed fat. Refrigerate and use within 4 days or freeze for up to 4 months.

Makes 4 cups cooked chicken and 1 quart of stock.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ruth Schmidt's Sweet Relish

4 cups cabbage
4 cups onions
4 cups green tomatoes

Cover with 1/2 cup salt and water.

Let stand overnight.

Drain and add:
Grind: 12 green peppers and 6 red peppers.

Make syrup:
4 cups vinegar
2 cups water
6 cups sugar
2 tablespoon mustard seed
1 tablespoon celery seed
1/2 tablespoon tumeric

Add vegetables and bring to a boil.

Put in jars and seal.

Ruth Schmidt's Fourteen Day Pickles

2 gallons cukes split lengthwise no matter how small.

Pour over them 1 gallon salt water--1 pint salt to gallon of water.

Let stand 7 days then drain and cover with boiling water 24 hours.

Drain and cover with 1 gallon water to which you add 1 tablespoon alum--let stand 24 hours. Drain.

Take 2 1/2 gallons vinegar--8 cups sugar00and a handful of mixed spices and boil 5 minutes and pour this over boiling hot.

Let stand 24 hours each day for 4 days--reheat and pour over each day--on last day bring to boil and pour over picks and seal in jars.

Ruth Schmidt's Dill Pickles

For six or seven quarts

1 quart vinegar
3 quarts water
1/2 cup salt

Heat to boiling and pour over cukes in jars. Add dill and seal.

Ruth Schmidt Blue Cheese Dressing

1 pint mayonnaise
1 pint sour cream
1/4 cup chives
2 teaspoon worchester sauce
2 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon tabasco
1/2 pount blue cheese crumbles

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Ruth Schmidt's Fried Potatoes

Ruth loves this dish, especially when there made with freshly dug Hutterite new potatoes.

Boil small new potatoes until done. Peel and slice into thirds. Fried over medium heat in a little butter until golden on each side.

Ruth Schmidt's Macaroni and Tomatoes

This is one of Ruth's favorites. It makes a simple but tasty meal or side dish.

Cook 1/2 pound of macaroni and drain. Place in a bowl and stir in two 15 ounce cans of diced tomatoes and mix well.

Vodka Penne

from Veganomicon

    2 tsp olive oil
    4 cloves minced garlic
    1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
    28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
    1/4 cup vodka
    1/4 tsp dried thyme
    1/4 tsp dried oregano
    1/2 tsp salt
    a few dashes fresh black pepper
    1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
    1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil, plus a little extra for garnish
    1/2 pound penne

Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Preheat a saucepan over medium/low heat. Add the oil, garlic and crushed red pepper to the saucepan and saute for about a minute, until fragrant, being careful not to burn. Add the crushed red tomatoes, vodka, thyme, oregano, salt and black pepper. Cover, and turn the heat up a bit to bring to a simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the water and cook according to package directions.

Once the sauce has simmered for 20 minutes, add the almonds. Use an immersion blender to blend the almonds into the sauce until creamy and only slightly grainy. The pasta should be done by now, so drain and set aside. Add the basil to the sauce, and mix the sauce and pasta together in the pot. Serve, garnished with a little extra chopped basil.

Number of Servings: 4

Ruth Schmidt's Stewed Chicken and Dumplings (Pressure Cooker)

Ruth really enjoys these dumplings. If If you own a modern pressure cooker, cook the chicken at full pressure but leave the lid unlocked for the dumplings (the dumplings are just steamed not pressure cooked). This recipe comes from an old Presto Pressure Cooker booklet. I found the exact same recipe for the steamed dumplings here.

4 lbs. chicken
2 cups water
1 can chicken broth
Salt and pepper
1 stalk celery
1 tbsp. parsley, minced

Method: cut chicken into serving pieces. Place in cooker with water, broth, salt, pepper and celery stalk. Place cover on coker. Allow steam to flow from vent pipe to release all air from cooker. Put indicator weight on vent pipe and cook 20 minutes with stem at coom position. Let stem return to down position. Remove celery stalk. Garnish with parsley.

Steamed Dumplings

1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp. melted fat or salad oil

Method: Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Combine egg, milk and oil and add to dry
ingredients to make soft dough. Drop from teaspoon into stew. Stew should have 3 cups of liquid (add boiling water if necessary). Place cover on cooker without indicator weight and steam 15 minutes. Serve at once.

Ruth Schmidt's Ice Cream

3 cups milk
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp. flour
3 eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups cream

Mix flour and milk to paste. Combine with 2 cups milk, sugar, and bring to boil. Boil 3 minutes.

Add light beaten egg yolks slowly. Put through a strainer. Stir in egg whites, remaining milk, and cream.

Freeze in an ice cream maker.

Ruth Schmidt's Fudge, Penuche, and Divinity


2 1 ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
2/3 cup milk, scalded
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons white Karo syrup
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup nuts

Melt chocolate in milk. Add sugar, salt, Karo, and cook to soft ball. Add butter, vanilla, and cool. Beat and add nuts.


2 1/2 cups brown sugar
pinch salt
1 tablespoon light Karo syrup
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cups nuts


5 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup corn syrup
1 1/4 cup hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 egg whites
1/2 cup or more chopped nuts

Combine sugar, corn syrup, hot water, and salt in saucepan. Cook and stir until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to boiling. Cook to hard-ball stage (250 degrees) without stirring. Wipe crystals from sides of pan now and then with fork wrapped in damp cloth. Remove from heat.
Immediately beat egg whites stiff. Pour hot syrup slowly over beaten whites, beating constantly at high speed on mixer (about 5 minutes). Add 1 vanilla and beat until mixture forms soft peaks and begins to lose its gloss. Add 1/2 cup chopped nuts, if you wish. Drop divinity from a teaspoon, pushing off with a second spoon, onto a cooky sheet covered with waxed paper. Twirl top! If divinity becomes too stiff for twirling, add a few drops of hot water.

Ruth Schmidt's Pot Roast

A very simple recipe from Jim's mom! You can even use a frozen roast, just cook longer.

Preheat oven to 400º. Salt and pepper a chuck roast (2 1/2 to 4 pounds), place it in a roaster and put it in the oven uncovered for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, turn it over and continue to cook it for an additional 30 minutes.
After it has been cooking for an hour it should look brown on both sides.
Put a little water in the pan along with a couple of halved onions, small new potatoes (whole), and medium-sized peeled carrots.
Turn the heat down to 350º and cover the roaster tightly.
Continue to cook until done, about an additional 1 1/2 hours checking every once and a while to make sure there is enough liquid (if the roast looks dry, add a little more water).
Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing.
Serve with defatted juices or make gravy.

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