a little of each

A family's cookbook

Almost-Famous Pumpkin Cheesecake February 25, 2015

Filed under: Desserts — alittlemoreofeach @ 1:37 pm
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Ingredients

12 Tbl unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 3/4 cups sugar
Salt
2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
1 15-oz can pure pumpkin
6 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 Tbl vanilla extract
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 cups sweetened whipped cream
1/3 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped

Directions

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325.

Brush a 10-inch springform pan with some of the butter. Stir the remaining butter with the crumbs, 1/4 cup of the sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan, packing it tightly and evenly. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a rack, then wrap the outside of the springform pan with foil and place in a roasting pan.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups sugar and beat until just light, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beaters as needed. Beat in the sour cream, then add the pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, 1 teaspoon salt and the spices and beat until just combined. Pour into the cooled crust.

Gently place the roasting pan in the oven (don’t pull the rack out) and pour the boiling water into the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake until the outside of the cheesecake sets but the center is still loose, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the door briefly to let out some heat. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for 1 more hour, then carefully remove from the roasting pan and cool on a rack. Run a knife around the edges, cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

Bring the cheesecake to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Unlock and remove the springform ring. To finish, place a dollop of the whipped cream on each slice and sprinkle with the toasted pecans.

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Southern Tiramisu (aka Nanner Puddin’) August 25, 2013

Filed under: Desserts — alittlemoreofeach @ 8:31 pm
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Sometimes it takes me a while to realize things about myself. Like discovering at the age of 35 that I really don’t care for raw broccoli. Shocking, right? I hate that you chew and chew and chew and it never gets smaller or goes away. I feel this dings my reputation as a well-rounded and healthy eater, but there we are.

Along the same, albeit less-healthy, lines, I thought I loved banana pudding. I’m not going to claim something as sacreligious as not loving banana pudding, but something about it interfered with a full-fledged adoration. And then I figured it out. It wasn’t the soggy Nilla Wafers – those are heavenly. Nor was the pudding itself troublesome, whether it was banana flavored, vanilla, homemade or from a quick mix box. No. It was the dang bananas. They get brown. And mealy. And the mouthfeel is just terrible.

So how does one go about rekindling a love with Nanner Puddin’ when the issue is with the nanners? I’ll tell you! You mash those things to smithereens and blend them with the pudding. And look the heck out, because those mashed bananas are so much sweeter and more flavorful than weak, mealy banana slices.

This method was developed by one of my dearest, most Southern friends whose dedication to tracking down the best banana pudding through tireless experimentation (one recipe called for roasting the bananas first) and testing rivals any first-class research lab. Salute her hard work with a bowl of this layered Southern Tiramisu.

Ingredients
4 ripe bananas
1 box of vanilla wafers, mini ones are great
1 large box of vanilla pudding
2 cups of cold milk
1 tub of Cool Whip, softened

Directions

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Mash the four bananas with a fork or a pastry cutter until smooth. Set aside.

In a separate large bowl, make pudding according to package instructions.

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Fold the mashed bananas and half of the Cool Whip into the pudding.

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In a 9 x 13 dish, neatly place the vanilla wafers in one layer. Gently spoon half of the pudding and banana mixture over the cookies.

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Place another neat layer of cookies on top of the pudding; there should be a handful or two of cookies remaining. Follow with the rest of the pudding mixture. Spoon the other half of the cool whip on top.

Crush the remaining vanilla wafers and sprinkle them evenly over the dish.

Refrigerate for at least two hours, preferably longer, until the dish is chilled through and set.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Berry Crumb Bars June 11, 2013

Filed under: Desserts — alittlemoreofeach @ 10:39 am
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Blueberries and raspberries are good friends in this crumb bar.

 

Raspberries taste like Connecticut to me.

More specifically, my grandparents’  backyard in a tiny town in Connecticut in June. It was the first time I remember eating raspberries – I was nine.  The berries were picked from the canes, sun-warmed, sweet, and just tart enough.  My siblings and I monitored the raspberry bushes that delineated the edge of the backyard and a woodsy area from which bunnies would emerge in the late afternoons, and we heard a rumor of a bear once.  Those few summertime visits – with their endless trips (no matter our age) down the Giant Hill in the 50-year-old Radio Flyer wagon that was my dad’s when he was little, an outing to UConn’s dairy farm and ice cream shop, helping (or I should say “helping”) my grandfather in his large vegetable garden with its oddly dirty dirt, not the sandy stuff I was used to – are encapsulated in those delicate, jewel-hued berries.

So when Publix has raspberries, normally such a extravagance it still seems, on sale for $2.50 a container, a few (or more) go in my basket, and I am transported.

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I adapted a smittenkitchen recipe for crumb bars that is so darn wonderful.  (What does that lady do that *isn’t* wonderful?  Nothing, that’s what!) The crust is like a shortbread – not too sweet, just a bit crumbly, and a lot buttery. While the original recipe calls for a combination of blueberries and lemon (both the zest and juice), I counted on the tartness of the raspberries and omitted the lemon with no regrets.  I also added some whole wheat flour for flavor and better health. (Although, c’mon, we’ve got two sticks of butter in this…)

Ingredients

1 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups fresh blueberries, raspberries, and/or diced strawberries (I used blueberries and raspberries.)
1/2 cup white sugar
4 tsp cornstarch

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, both flours, and baking powder. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Gently mix in the berries. Sprinkle the berry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

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Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce June 2, 2013

Filed under: Desserts — alittlemoreofeach @ 3:49 pm
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Nana made this every January for Peter’s birthday. Peter would then savor it by the spoonful or over ice cream for the next few months. From a February 1954 issue of Woman’s Day magazine.

 

Ingredients

8 squares unsweetened chocolate

2 cups sugar

1 (14 ½ oz) can evaporated milk

2 Tbl strong black coffee

pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla

 

Directions

Melt chocolate in top part of double boiler over boiling water; add sugar and mix well. Cover; cook over boiling water for 30 minutes. Add milk, coffee, salt, vanilla; beat until smooth and thick. Serve hot.

 

Aunt Kittie’s Pineapple Sauce

Filed under: Desserts — alittlemoreofeach @ 3:47 pm
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Mix together in a small pan ½ cup of crushed pineapple, ½ cup granulated sugar and ½ cup water. Boil for 15 minutes and then chill.

 

Lara’s Hot Cinnamon Berry Sauce

Filed under: Desserts — alittlemoreofeach @ 3:46 pm
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In a saucepan, combine:

1 package frozen mixed berries
2 Tbl honey
1 Tbl brown sugar
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon (more to taste)

Stir over medium heat until just at the boiling point. Cool for a few minutes, but serve still steaming over vanilla ice cream.

 

Vanilla Sauce for Gingerbread

Filed under: Desserts — alittlemoreofeach @ 3:45 pm
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January 5, 2017. Today is my dad’s birthday. He would’ve been 68. Should’ve been. Instead he died nine years ago, and it still stinks. I try so hard to remember him outloud. I don’t know that I believe that it keeps him alive, but I will do anything to create him as a full person in the girls’ minds and memories. So we talk about him, how he loved to bake and how they’ve inherited that. How he loved the Boston Red Sox and umpiring and playing golf and the Beatles. I sing Yesterday to them as a (depressing) lullaby and Blackbird. And I tear up. Every single time.

I also talk to them about nutmeg, my dad’s “secret” ingredient. I get to use those irony quotes because it was a secret from no one that he loved nutmeg and would put it in any recipe he thought needed a little special something. It often worked. But sometimes he’d be a little heavy-handed with the powerful seasoning. If someone mentioned, “Maybe there’s a bit too much nutmeg?” he’d take it personally and pout just a bit.  So nutmeg is my dad. After he had his stroke and was in the ICU for nearly two weeks, my sister would bring in whole nutmegs and hold them under his nose. To connect with him, to remind him that we are here, to try to bring him home. As powerful as nutmeg is, it wasn’t up for that job.

I make this dessert because of the nutmeg. It is the star. The gingerbread is nice enough (and often comes from a box – shhh!), but the warmed vanilla sauce with its specks of nutmeg and velvety texture is heavenly. I acknowledge that it could be straight out of a 1960s-era Good Housekeeping cookbook and maybe not the prettiest thing ever plated. But it’s comforting, and it connects us, and it brings me home for just a minute.

 

Ingredients

½ cup sugar

2 Tbl cornstarch

1 cup boiling water

2 Tbl butter

1 tsp vanilla

nutmeg, to taste

 

Directions

Mix sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Stir in boiling water and simmer for five minutes or until thickened. Add butter, vanilla and nutmeg. Serve warm.