Monday, August 15, 2011

Mayo #1 aka Traditional Homemade Mayonnaise

I've never been a fan of mayo.  I always preferred mustard, or oil, or butter.  Mmmm, butter butter butter.  Mayo was always jiggly goo.  Squishing out of sandwiches, congealing in tubs at subway.  Not to mention my Dad slathering it on peanut butter sandwiches (no, really).
But mayonnaise is a popular condiment, especially down south.  Heck, you can't make a good tomato sandwich without it, and I do love a tomato.
Let me say, making mayo is perhaps the easiest thing I've made in a while.  The food processor really is a thing of wonder--grating cheese, making breadcrumbs--and now, mayonnaise.
AND, I actually got a request for mayo from a friend of mine from college (Hi Joe!).
So, Mayonnaise.  Ridiculously easy to make, like so easy I have to wonder why everyone doesn't just make it themselves. Okay, well there is that little thing where homemade mayo only lasts for about week, versus store bought which lasts about two months.
The great thing about mayo is how versatile it is--you can just make a classic plain version--or flavor it any way you like.  Really, add more lemon for a better zing, throw in some fresh herbs,  add some Dijon mustard, or stir in some horseradish or sriracha for a little kick.
Now, I used the food processor for this, but if you really want to get crafty (or you're not bunking at the in-laws and have access to all of their fancy kitchen tools) you can just use a whisk or blender.  If going the way of the whisk, you may need to wrangle a friend to help pour the oil while you whisk wildly.
One other note, mayo is made with eggs: raw eggs.  If you are a bit squeamish or just worried about salmonella you can use pasteurized eggs.
Homemade mayo is dreamy.  Creamy, light and fluffy.  It really was a thing of beauty.  Did I love it?  Mmmm, I think it needed a bit more cayenne (we were out of cayenne and so I substituted crushed red pepper) and probably more lemon.
Truth-be-told, I think I'm probably more of an aioli fan.  So for my next post, I'll be working on a Lemony Mayo recipe and then for Friday I'll make an aioli from John Besh.
For now, happy whisking!

Homemade Mayonnaise inspired by  Martha Hall Foose

1 large egg  (the eggs used should be at room temperature)
1 large egg yolk
juice from one lemon
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 iced tea spoon dry mustard
1 iced tea spoon salt
1 packet sugar
a couple shakes of crushed red pepper
2 cups vegetable oil

This will keep in the fridge for about a week, maybe two, in a airtight container.

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade attachment, combine the egg, egg yolk, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, salt, sugar and red pepper.  Whir a few times to combine.
With the processor on high speed, slowly drizzle in the oil until completely combined and emulsified.
Slice up some tomatoes, break out the Sally Lunn Bread and slather on some mayo.

Friday, August 5, 2011

If I'm Lyin', I'm Cryin'

Yesterday was my son's third birthday.  I know it's totally hokey, but it's amazingly unbelievable how fast time flies.
I have a three year old.  And he is the cutest, smartest, coolest dude I know.
I'm not biased or anything.
The kiddo requested a Tow Mater cake.  And of course I obliged.
Now I had the loftiest of intentions.  Homemade pound cake recipe from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea was dogeared, as was a homemade chocolate frosting recipe.
I had planned on making it the night before, but the kid took a super late nap, which turn resulted in a late bedtime.  So after putting together the bike, decorating the living room and admiring our handiwork, it was time for bed.
The birthday dawned.  Presents opened.  Bike ridden.  Breakfast.  (Yes all before breakfast).  Trip to the toy store to pick out one more present.
Home.  Bike riding.  Zingo Playing.
As the day wore on however, it became apparent that I wasn't going to be making anything from scratch.  So I turned to Duncan Hines.
And it worked out great.
A Mater cake for my baby boy's third birthday!
How to make a kinda-homemade Mater Cake.

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 can chocolate frosting
1 tube white frosting
Chocolate bar
Pretzel Rods

Bake the cake according to the instructions on the box.  Make sure you bake it in a 13x9 pan.
Let cool.
Get out a large platter or cake plate.

After cooling, cut the cake just a little short of in half, width wise.  Turn out that half rounded-side down onto platter.
Put a dab of frosting where you want to position the cab portion of the truck.
Using the rest of the cake cut out a piece of cake to use as the cab.  Place it on the "bed" of the truck, using the frosting as a glue.

Using a serrated knife flatten out the top of the cab.
Use some extra cake pieces  to even out the front of the truck--since it's rounded-side down, to make it flat in the front.
Now, if you're smart (I wasn't), put the cake in the fridge to harden up for about an hour.  I didn't do this--was pressed for time, as we were distracting the kid by watching Tangled upstairs.  So as I frosted the cake it was a little crumby and soft.  In the end it turned out okay, but I'm trying to point you all in the right direction.
Frost the entire cake in the chocolate frosting.

Now using the white frosting draw on the buck teeth and his eyes.  A glass of warm water and a spoon can be used if you need to smooth out the eyes.
Make his wheels by putting the oreos where the wheels would be.
Grab two green M&M's  and dab a bit of chocolate frosting on for the pupils.
Place them on the eyes.
Grab two orange M&M's, glue them on top of each other with a dab of white frosting.  Place them on the top of the cab as his caution light.  Use two orange M&M's on either side of the caution light as the other lights.  I'm not that familiar with car-light terminology.  Sorry.
Now get a yellow M&M and place it on the front of the grille as the headlight.
Grab two squares of chocolate and place them as side-view mirrors.
Using some more extra cake, cut out a circle and place it on the hood as his motor.

Now grab two pretzel rods.  Break them both in half.  Take two and shove them down into the bed of the truck (like towing poles),  using the white frosting glue the other two pretzel rods onto the top of the "towing poles" and rest them on the bed of the truck in a "V" shape.
Remember that you forgot to get the stuff to make the tow hitch.  Hope the kid doesn't notice.
Of course he notices.
Happy Birthday!!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cheese Straws Vs. Cheese Wafers

There are some things that are quintessentially southern:
Sweet Tea
Fried Chicken
Country Ham
Pimento Cheese
Chicken Salad
Cheese Straws.  Or Wafers.
The debate rages on.
Cheese straws are one of those snacks you come to expect upon arrival below the Mason-Dixon line.  They are expected at cocktail parties and dinner parties.  At picnics  and black tie events.
Cheese straws are basically elevated cheese-its.
(I hope saying that didn't just put me on some foodie black-list.)
They are cheesy, crisp, should have a nice spicy bite, and usually leave you with a slight buttery sheen on your fingertips.
I love cheese.  Oooey gooey cheese, stinky cheese, cheese so sharp it makes your cheeks hurt.
And I do love cheese straws, be they in wafer form or not. In fact, I think I prefer them in wafer form.
(Foodie black list.)
I've been putting off making them for awhile, because literally, every southern cookbook has a recipe for them.  And they are all slightly different.  I was knee-deep in recipes.
Finally I just combined The Lee Bros.  and Miss Martha Hall Foose.  That is like some sort of southern super-hero.
I also discovered the joy of shredding cheese in the food processor. I may never go back to a cheese grater again.  Jake thought it was pretty cool too.
We rolled out the dough and used a pretty copper cookie cutter we found in the kitchen.  Made the perfect size wafer for me!
I added extra hot-sauce and red pepper, but they still weren't quite spicy enough for me.  Oh well, guess I'll have to make some more!  And they are super easy to make, so don't put it off!
I made 64 cheese wafers (and I still had some dough left over), which might sound excessive, but I ate about 10 straight out of the oven, and my husband had 7 when he got home, Jake ate about 4--so you can see how quickly these things disappear.
Get rolling!

Cheese Wafers (as inspired by Screen Doors and Sweet Tea)
Makes about 70

1 pound super sharp cheddar cheese shredded (The food processor is a big helper here)
2 sticks of butter softened and cut into pieces
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
2 or 3 dashes of hot pepper sauce
3 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Line cookie sheets with parchment or foil.

Fit your food processor with the grater blade.  Cut the cheddar cheese into blocks that will fit into the food processor feeder tube.  Let the kiddo put his hand on yours while you feed the cheese through the grater.  Go ahead and marvel at how easy that was.

Change out the blade on the food processor to the metal blade.  Add the butter, salt, red pepper and hot sauce.  Pulse a few time to combine with the cheese.  Add the flour and pulse until a soft dough forms.  It'll gather itself into a ball.

Take the dough out of the processor and onto a lightly floured surface.  Roll out into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut out wafers with the cookie cutter.  Let the kid help.  Place wafers onto cookies sheets about 1/2 inch apart.

Bake in oven for about 10-15 minutes until lightly golden.  I kept checking them after 10 minutes.  I also like to check the bottoms to make sure they are not getting too brown.

Try to let them cool a bit before shoving into your mouth.