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Papa Loved Peppers!

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By Gini Rainey

I must apologize to any of my blog followers I might still have.  With all of the life’s busyness our family has been through in the last couple months, one of the first things I (sadly) had to set aside was writing my weekly blog.  My designated writing time for the past several years has been following church every Sunday.  It became apparent it was more important for me to have Sunday lunches with my in-laws as my 101-year old father-in-law, Tom, slowly began winding down his life on earth.  And I must say, I am very glad that I was able to enjoy that time with him because he passed away on December 30th. 

I’ve been sitting here for the past hour reminiscing about how very much he loved to eat.  Snacking was a number one favorite for him, and it seems like there was always a plethora of snacky-type food around their house.  In fact, one of the things I was supposed to be sure to retrieve from the rehab hospital when he was moved home for hospice care, was his cheese balls and cookies.  If he didn’t eat anything else for breakfast, he was sure to have the cookies and coffee which had become his daily staple.  And, while many of us would say that’s not a very nutritious diet, who among us will live to be 101?  Maybe Tom had the right idea after all!  You know “Life is short! Eat dessert first!” 

I received a lovely cookbook for Christmas from my sister.  “The Great Minnesota Cookie Book” with 190 pages filled with beautiful colored photos, was written by Lee Svitak and Rick Nelson and published by University of Minnesota Press, features award-winning recipes from the Star Tribune’s Holiday Cookie Contest.  Flipping through the pages makes me want to get up and make a few dozen cookies right now! 

One of the recipes that jumped smooth off the page at me is for Hot and Sassy Peanut Butter Buds, mostly because Tom is on my mind and he loved peppers – the hotter, the better, and this recipe calls for cayenne pepper!  As unlikely combination as this might seem, I can only imagine how wonderful that surprising zing of hotness will be. 

So, to make these cookies, Whisk together 1 ¼ cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons sesame seeds.  In another bowl beat ½ cup crunchy peanut butter and 1/3 cup unsalted butter until creamy.  Beat in ½ cup packed brown sugar and add 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  Slowly add flour mixture, a third at a time, until thoroughly combined. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350° and line baking sheets with parchment.  In a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne.  Shape the dough into 1-inch balls, roll in the sugar/cayenne mixture and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.  Bake until slightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes, and remove from oven to cool before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. 

In a double boiler over gently simmering water, melt 3 ounces dark chocolate infused with chile, and ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips, stirring until smooth.  Frost the tops of the cooled cookies with the melted chocolate and place on wax paper to set.  Once again, in a double boiler, melt 3 ounces of white chocolate and drizzle over the cookies.

Oh, my goodness, this will be so yummy and zingy, your family and friends will want you to make them all the time!  I just wish that I had received this book a little earlier – I just know that Tom would have loved these spicy peanut butter/chocolate cookies for breakfast, lunch AND dinner! 

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Books

A Good Pounding!

By Gini Rainey

Good grief, that’s exactly what I deserve.  I have been so over-whelmed with life in the past few months – okay, this year – that I have neglected to do what I love doing – writing!  So, apparently it took an email to our editor/publisher to get me off high center.  She forwarded this email to me on June 24th and it comes from an editor named Jess Miller who just happens to be associated with jenreviews.com.  Jen Reviews is the authority on everything food, fitness and home and has been featured in some mind-blowing (my mind, anyway!) publications such as Forbes, Fast Company, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Greatist, Reader’s Digest, MindBodyGreen, Livestrong, Bustle, Lifehacker, Wikihow, and oh my goodness, many many more. 

Jess email says “I was doing research on pound cake recipes and just finished reading your wonderful blog post: https://eguidemagazine.com/janies-cakes-finally-oprah-realizes-something-weve-all-known-for-years/ In that article, I noticed that you cited a solid post that I’ve read in the past: https://janiescakes.com/  We just published a delicious cranberry pound cake with orange glaze recipe complete with step-by-step pictures and detailed instructions. It is completely free and you can find it here: https://www.jenreviews.com/cranberry-pound-cake-recipe/.  If you like the recipe we’d be humbled if you cited us in your article.” 

The gauntlet was thrown and I tried it.  I baked it last night and it is yummy.  Of course, knowing me, you know I have to pull in a cookbook of some sort, and for those of you out there who don’t know where the name “Pound Cake” comes from, I pulled out my earliest reference that I have, which is a replica of “American Cookery” written by Amelia Simmons in 1796. It’s really interesting to leaf through this book and try to read some of the recipes.  It is actually a photocopy of the original and along with various spots and stains, the letter “f” is used in place of the letter “s.”  Originally, a pound cake called for one pound of sugar, one pound of butter, one pound of flour, one pound or ten eggs, one gill of rose water and spices to your taste. (Hence pound cake!) We are told to watch it well (remember – wood burning stoves/ovens back then) It will bake in a slow oven in 15 minutes. 

The recipe referred to by Jess is a bit different and perhaps produces a much lighter version than the 1796 version.  What you will need to do to make Jess’s recipe is to begin with a 350° pre-heated oven and a lightly greased and floured 12×4 inch loaf pan.  Then in a bowl, whisk together 1 ¾ cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt.  In another bowl, cream 9 ounces of softened butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon orange zest until light and fluffy.  Then slowly add in 4 eggs plus 2 yolks (at room temp), followed by 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar. Then alternating between the flour mixture and ¼ cup room temp milk, gradually add to the sugar/egg mixture.  Lightly dredge in flour 1 ¼ cups of washed and dried fresh cranberries (because fresh cranberries aren’t on the market at this time, I substituted rehydrated dried cranberries and I think they did well) and gently fold into the mixture.  Pour into the pan and bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  For the glaze, combine 2 cups of powdered sugar with 2 ½ tablespoons of fresh orange juice, and using a small spoon, drizzle over the completely cooled cake. 

This is one yummy cake – the unexpected tartness is a wonderful compliment to the buttery richness of the cake and would serve you well at a winter holiday meal – or even right now in the middle of the hot Texas summer along with a bowl of home-made ice cream! 

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Food

Smith’s Bar-B-Que Opens in Jacksonville

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Smith’s Bar-B-Que had a great Ribbon Cutting on Friday, April 5. Smith’s Bar-B-Que is owned and operated by Gary Smith and has been in business for 11 years. They started in the Exxon parking lot but has now found a home at the Travis Towers parking lot at 558 S. Ragsdale. They serve ribs, brisket, sausage, pulled pork and their famous stuffed baked potato. You can also add beans, potato salad and peach cobbler. They also offer catering with no event being too big or too small. Gary Smith is a culinary school graduate, food service manager and the 1st to obtain his vendors permit from the City of Jacksonville. Hours are Friday and Saturday 11 am until…..

They are at 558 S. Ragsdale in Jacksonville, Texas and can be reached at 903.944.0036.

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Books

Artists in the Kitchen

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By Gini Rainey

I have many passions in my life, mostly leaning toward my right brain, but after working for over 25 years as a business manager/owner, my left brain seems to have shoved a lot of those passions to the side, but trust me – they’re still there!  So, when I come across a cookbook that has wonderful recipes that are paired up with amazing works of art from the National Gallery of Art, you can be sure this is one book I had to have. 

With notable chefs such as Julia Child, Jeremiah Tower and Alice Waters creating dishes and menus to compliment the art of Matisse, Pissaro, and Gauguin, to name a few, you can only imagine what a lovely and creative book this must be. 

While using paintings of the obvious subjects, such as Vollon’s Mound of Butter and Jean Simeon Chardin’s Still Life with Game for inspiration, I think the recipes that truly intrigue me are from the chefs who viewed such paintings as Raoul Dufy’s The Basket and Mary Cassatt’s Afternoon Tea Party, let their imaginations run wild and came up with what might have been in the basket or what Cassatt might served at her Tea Party. 

Pablo Picasso’s Le Gourmet was the inspiration for Nancy Silverton’s Butterscotch Sauce that would make a delicious topping for a bread pudding or a dish of Blue Bell’s Homemade Vanilla ice cream. To make the sauce, combine 1 cup granulated sugar, 2 ½ tablespoons light corn syrup, and 2 ½ tablespoons Scotch whisky in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the mixture just begins to smoke and turns an amber color.  Meanwhile, place 1 ¼ cup heavy (whipping) cream in another large saucepan, split a vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape its seeds into the and then add the pod.  Add 1 cup of butter and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and set aside until needed.

When the sugar mixture reaches the proper color, immediately stop its cooking by whisking in the cream mixture in small amounts, waiting a few seconds between additions to prevent it from boiling over.  Once all the cream mixture is incorporated, simmer the sauce for 5 minutes.  Whisk in ½ cup of butter until combined.  The sauce will keep for several weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  To reheat, place the sauce in a bowl over simmering water.  If desired, add some toasted pecans or add a dash of sea salt to taste, and wow, you have got something really yummy going on there. 

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