Saturday, July 31, 2010

Johnny Cakes -- Early American Cornmeal Pancakes

July's destination at
My Kitchen My World was the Good Old U. S. of A. and after much deliberating I decided to make an early American cornmeal pancake recipe called Johnny Cakes. This recipe is believed to have been taught to US settlers by Native Americans.

Johnny Cakes go by many names, one of the more popular being Journey Cakes -- because they were an easy food to make on a journey and also held up well to traveling after making. Shawnee Cake is another popular name, which gives credit to the Shawnee Indians for teaching this recipe to early settlers.

Johnny Cakes
adapted from

1/2 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup hot milk
1 tablespoon melted butter -- plus more for griddle, if desired

Mix the dry ingredients, then stir in the remaining ingredients. Drop or pour on the hot, greased griddle or drop in iron skillet and fry to golden brown on both sides. Serve with butter and syrup as for pancakes, or serve as a bread with butter. Serves 4 to 6. You can also serve these as a side dish at a savory meal.

We enjoyed these with butter and maple syrup. My kids all liked them and I thought they were delicious too, but I don't think I've ever met a pancake I didn't like :) They were dense and slightly chewy with a great little crunch from the cornmeal around the edges. I will be making Johnny Cakes again for sure, and really enjoyed the little history lesson I got to share with my kids.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Deep Dish Mushroom Pizza

The other night my husband was working late and it was just me and the kiddos for dinner. Pizza is a favorite around here and we had some mushrooms in the fridge so mushroom pizza was our dinner of choice. Although I have an absolutely delicious, number one, all time favorite pizza crust recipe, it is for a thinner more traditional crust. I was in the mood for some deep dish, and do not have a favorite deep dish pizza crust recipe (if you have a favorite deep dish crust recipe, please let me know), off to google.

I searched for 'deep dish pizza crust recipe' and found this recipe -- adapted from the book The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American by Jeff Smith, who says he ran this recipe by a pizza chef who has worked at Pizzeria Uno in Chicago for 30 years, and got a smile and nod from the pizza chef after she overlooked his recipe. That sounds like pretty high praise to me, so I was excited to give this one a try.

We are about a half a day drive from Chicago and I went there often as a child for shopping and museum trips, so I know my Chicago style deep dish and love it. Pizzeria Uno is an okay choice, but my hands down favorite for the best Chicago deep dish is Giordano's... yummmmm. I wasn't going for the whole sauce on top stuffed with goodies Chicago deep dish, I just wanted that delicious crust this time around...

It sounded good to me, I did do my own adapting a little bit, adding some salt (one teaspoon kosher) and a little sugar (one tablespoon white) just to have something for the yeast. The recipe gives filling suggestions for a 9 or 10 inch deep dish, so I figured the dough would work for my 12 inch deep dish pan (coincidentally Pizzeria Uno brand) even though the dough ingredients seemed like they would yield much more. Long story short, I think the recipe is best suited for two 12 inch pans, so my one 12 inch was overfilled and the end result crust a little too thick, even after I set some dough aside to make a smaller deep dish in a glass pie plate. Oh-well. Now I know for next time.

For the sauce I made another misjudgement -- I made a quick san marzano sauce, just put a can of san marzano tomatoes in the food processor, add a touch of salt and some basil, and you are good to go -- usually. That sauce works best with thinner crust pizzas, I found that this deep dish needed a more marinara style sauce, thick and well seasoned, and simmered all day.

These were delicious for dinner, all of the gooey cheese and yummy mushrooms, everyone had second slices. Next time we have deep dish night, if I use this recipe again, I will plan on two 12 inch pizzas and have my tried and true marinara style pizza sauce simmering all day :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chewy Chunky Blondies

Check out these delicious treats, they are Dorie's Chewy Chunky Blondies -- picked for us at TWD to try by Nicole of Cookies on Friday. To me they are more like bar cookies than blondies, but they are delicious whatever you call them. My only alteration to the recipe was to leave out the coconut (which I love) in hopes that picky husband would like these, and he did! The kids loved these as well, but all agreed that you need a big glass of milk to go with them :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Toasted Almond Lemon Bars

It's Monday and I'm a day late for Sweet Melissa Sundays, sorry guys! Sunday's selection was Toasted Almond Lemon Bars, picked for us to try by Rebecca at Indecisive Baker. I love the name of her blog, I'm also an indecisive baker, and indecisive about many things, I'd rather have someone else pick for me and just enjoy the ride. You can find the recipe for these bars here at Rebecca's site if you do not have The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.

I love almonds and lemon bars and have never combined the two so I was excited to give this recipe a try. The bars were delicious and pretty easy to make. I skipped the second baking of the crust, only baking it for the first 25 minutes covered with foil, then letting cool for a bit and filling with the lemon mixture, then baking the final 30 minutes. I think they turned out lovely.

As for my taste testers...all three kids really enjoyed these bars, and were asking for another bar for dessert, so I'd say these were a huge hit. Picky husband had two bites -- which is pretty good considering he doesn't even want to taste a lot of my baking group picks. He does not usually care for lemon desserts but said these were okay, he'd never tried a lemon bar before and it is always tough to get him to try something new, so I'm glad he at least gave these a chance :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lots of Ways Banana Cake -- Tuesdays with Dorie

- above photo is before baking -

It's Tuesdays night and I'm finally posting Dorie's absolutely delicious banana cake! This has got to be my new favorite banana cake ever. I baked this recipe in my new KitchenAid bundt pan and added chopped macadamia nuts (one cup) to accentuate the coconut and rum flavors -- absolutely perfect that I could barely snap a decent photo before it was all gone :)

Please click here for the Lots of Ways Banana Cake recipe or find it in Dorie Greenspan's book Baking From My Home To Yours.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tarte Noire -- Tuesdays with Dorie

Just a super quick post to check-in with TWD! Made this tart for dessert tonight, it was delicious :)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Raspberry Peach Pie Tart

Raspberry and peach has to be one of my favorite fruit combinations, and given that fruit desserts are my personal favorites, I was really excited about this week's Sweet Melissa Sundays pick. Rebecca of Beurrista decided on Melissa's North Fork Peach Raspberry Pie, doesn't that just sound so summery and delicious? You can find the recipe for the pie here if you do not have The Sweet Melissa Baking Book. I made a few alternations mention below...

The filling of this pie is thickened with tapioca flour, which the directions say to get by grinding tapioca pearls in a spice grinder. Tapioca is not something I usually have on hand, but I did have this bag of jumbo tapioca pearls that I ordered online in order to make bubble tea. I bought this bag a while ago and have not yet made said bubble tea, and almost forgot I had it in the pantry until this pie recipe came along and reminded me! Will have to make bubble tea soon :)

After grinding up some tapioca flour, making the pie crust (I used my favorite butter pie crust recipe that is made in the food processor), and rolling the pie crust in a perfect circle, I could not find a pie plate! I used to have 3 or 4 glass pie plates, earlier this year one got ruined as I tried to make dulce de leche in the oven, one pie plate is at my mom's house ever since I brought over the SMS Coconut Custard Pie there on Memorial Day, and I have absolutely no idea where the others are. I searched high and low and finally decided to go with my new 12 by 12 square tart pan. It is huge and the deepest tart pan I have. Still, a tart pan is not a pie pan, and holds a lot less filling, so I decreased the peaches down to three cups, and kept the raspberries at two cups. I also decreased the sugar to 1/2 cup.

Since this tart pan is so big there was no way I was going to have enough pie dough for a double crust, so I reshaped my crust to fit the bottom square and up the sides, then peeked into one of my cookie cutter drawers and took out the star and cut some shapes for the top crust.

Not too bad, kind of shabby chic, right? Maybe?

Rustic? Yeah, that works. It ended up being delicious and setting up perfectly. I loved this pie and would love to make it again as written with the extra peaches and a full upper crust. My kids love the fruit and the stars, only my youngest would bother eating the bottom crust. I could not convince picky husband to give this one a try. He saw the tapioca out and reminded me how much he hates tapioca, even though I assured him it was ground down to powder and there would be no tapioca balls in the pie. He also is not a big fan of peaches. Sorry, honey. The kids and I loved it and it was a fun summer dessert, thanks for a great SMS pick Rebecca!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Kitchen My World -- India

For the month of June, My Kitchen My World traveler Margaret at Tea and Scones picked India as our destination -- what fun! I love Indian food but my husband is not a fan and my kids are hit or miss with it, so I don't get to make it that often. I was very excited to try a couple of new Indian recipes for June's MKMW destination. For dinner I tried this recipe for Red Lentil Curry and served it with imported basmati rice, yum!

This dish was a little spicy and only my three year old son and I liked it. My two older kiddos and my husband were not fans of the red lentil curry, I anticipated this outcome so the curry was just a side dish for them and I made them a separate main meal.

For dessert I tried something totally new to me, an Indian dessert called badusha,
typically served during Diwali, the Festival of Lights. Badusha starts as a soft dough and is then shaped and deep fried. After frying, the badusha is soaked in a sugar syrup for about 10 minutes before serving. Only my youngest and I liked these desserts, my older two were not fans and my picky husband would not even try a bite. They are definitely a different sort of treat, I was hoping these would mimic some milk balls in syrup that I've had at Indian restaurants but they weren't quite the same, these were more delicate, but still quite delicious.

This was such a fun destination, please check out My Kitchen My World to see what everyone else cooked up :)

Here is my post from our first visit to India in September 2008: MKMW -- India
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