Tuesday, June 19, 2012

And the Winner is....

Via random number generator, lucky comment number 2!!!  Nancy, please drop me an E-mail with your contact information so I can get you your book!  Enjoy it as much as I did.  And so much thanks go to Ms. Victoria Hamilton for sponsoring this give-away, too.

I also apologize for the trouble that some of you had commenting.  If you E-mailed me about that, I numbered your e-mail into the comments by timestamp, so you really WERE entered.
If you didn't win, do  run down to your local bookstore and snag a copy anyway.  Then we can all await the next book in the series with baited breath. 

In the meantime, I offer up an old family recipe.  Life being what it was, we were never much for great big breakfasts when I was a kid.  However, that didn't stop Mom from providing "breakfast foods" for dinner.  Waffles.  Pancakes.  That sort of thing.  Another Mom specialty was cornbread.  It's a lighter, easy meal.  And on days like today, when it's too hot to want to spend much time in the kitchen, the short prep time is a plus.  Mom usually served it up with homemade jam.  Though Dad preferred his in a bowl with milk and sugar.  Because of that, I've added a dash of vanilla.  If you want to go more savory, leave it out.

Cornbread

1-1/2 c. Fancy Flour Blend, other GF AP flour, or
1/4 c. millet flour
1/4 c. sweet rice flour
1/2 c. white rice flour
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
2 Tbsp potato starch
1 c. cornmeal
1/4 c. sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp guar gum
2 eggs
1/4 c. canola oil
1 c. milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Spray an 8" pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.  Set aside.
In another bowl, beat the eggs lightly.  Whisk in oil until combine, then add milk and vanilla and whisk to combine.  If you do it in this order, the egg yolks will emulsify the oil and leave a more integrated liquid.
Add dry ingredients and whisk till smooth.  You'll notice that small bubbles start forming immediately.  The leavening begins to act very quickly, so work fast to get it in the oven.
Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake for 20 minutes until golden and springs back lightly when touched.
Cool and serve!
Don't forget the homemade jam.  Myself, I prefer strawberry.  Or maybe peach.  

Thanks again to everybody who entered, and Ms. Hamilton for the prize!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Special Guest Star

Every now and then, I get to be the Special Guest Star.  I'm guest-posting today for Kate at Food Babbles.  Pop on over for my Cherry-Berry Cobblerettes with Cinnamon Ice Cream.  Then come back and check out my Strawberry Shortcake and enter to win a fun Vintage Cooking cozy mystery by Victoria Hamilton.


What?  Of course "Cobblerette" is a word.  Don't be silly.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Once in a Strawberry Moon

I hope you're all enjoying June and all it has to offer.  And, gentle readers, I have something to offer, as well - a fun giveaway for a great beach book.  But let me give you a little bit of a story, first.
Last month, on my birthday, one of my technicians gifted me with a couple of "cozy mysteries".  Not one to mince words, she informed me that I think too much and my brain needed a break.  Now, cozy mysteries were new to me.  But they're sort of the literary equivalent of caramel corn - light, sweet, and addictive.  I started trolling the aisles at Barnes and Noble for other "cozies".  There are cozies that deal with needlework, knitting, fashion, dogs, cats, cooking, baking...   and then I spotted this:
Vintage kitchen mystery?  Score!!  This one came home with me.  It was my day off, so I cuddled up on the couch with a glass of lemonade and my new delight.  Which quickly became a mild case of the heebie-jeebies.  The main character begins the tale by visiting an estate sale, purchasing a Hoosier cabinet, some vintage cookbooks, pyrex bowls, and a box of sewing bibs and bobs.
Ummm.....   Yeah.  Take a moment and peak into my kitchen:
OK, it's not a true Hoosier, but it's a similar style.  It was Grandma Mildred's - the original shipping label is still stapled to the back.  It does have the flour bin, though the original tin bread box drawer was replaced with a plain wooden one.  And the original tambour replaced with an oak one.  On it, you see part of my pyrex collection.  (I don't have the primary colors set of bowls, though I've thought about it - I'm still holding out for a set in pink or aqua.)  In the bowls are part of my vintage cookbook collection.  So, slightly odd.
I'm not even going to show you my collection of vintage sewing stuff.  Let's just say that it includes Francesca, the Damascus treadle sewing machine.  And I lust after an Atlas pink sewing machine, too.
Did I mention "A Deadly Grind" is set in Michigan?  In a small town on the St. Clair River, with an island that lies in the center.
Yeah....  I live in Michigan.  On the other side of the state, admittedly.  In a harbor town.  With an island in the middle of the river.
Oh, and some of the action centers around a historical event where the locals host a Victorian Tea.
Whilst, this weekend, Grand Haven celebrated the Feast of the Strawberry Moon - an event that celebrates the area's fur trading origins with re-enactors.  We went.  There were Native American encampments....
A colonial cooking demo:
And entertainment of various stripes:
My husband was beginning to suspect the house was bugged.  Either that, or the cats (in spite of their obvious lack of opposable thumbs) had figured out how to turn on the computer and were E-mailing Ms. Hamilton.
Anyway, I devoured the book in something less than 24 hours.  And then found Ms. Hamilton's website.  First, I discovered that the next book in the series is slated for release in February of 2013.  (Arrrrggghhhhhh!!!!!!)  Second, I sent a brief e-mail in praise of the book - and giggling about the reflection of my own life in it - to the author.  Gracious lady that she is, she's going to give one lucky reader a signed copy of her book.  :-)  We'll get to how to enter at the end of the post.
First, in honor of both the book, and June, I give you a shortcake recipe from one of my vintage books.

I used the recipe for Shortcake Biscuits, and added a bit of white cornmeal for texture.

Strawberry Shortcake


1-1/2 qts. strawberries
1/2 c. white cornmeal
1-3/4 c. Fancy Flour Blend, other GF AP flour, OR
1/4 c. millet flour
1/4 c. sweet rice flour
3/4 c. white rice flour
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
2 Tbsp potato starch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
3 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp sugar
1/3 c. shortening
3/4 c. milk
1 tsp vanilla
whipped cream or ice cream, if desired

Slice the strawberries and stir together with sugar to taste, a bit of lemon juice, and some sliced mint leaves, if desired.  Allow to macerate in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
In a bowl, combine dry ingredients and toss with a fork.
Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal.  You can use butter, if you like, though the texture will be a little different.  I used Spectrum shortening.  It's both non-hydrogenated AND a little firmer than other brands.  Which was a plus when it was pushing 90 degrees out.
Stir the vanilla into the milk
Add the milk to the dry ingredients and stir with a fork until mixture just comes together.
Drop onto the baking sheet.  You should get 8-10 biscuits.  (Memo, me: Get a 1.5 oz disher)
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Let cool a little, and serve with berries and whipped cream or ice cream.

So, go make yourself some shortcake, then sit down with a spoon and enter the giveaway.

Up for grabs is one copy of Victoria Hamilton's A Deadly Grind.

(Small caveat - I'm going to limit this to readers in North America.  Posting something outside the continent these days just gets SO cost-prohibitive.  Sorry!)

Comment here and tell me what vintage recipes are favorites at your house  - 1 entry
Come over and follow Gluten Free Goes Vintage on Facebook, then leave me a comment here to tell me that you did so (or that you already follow) - 1 entry
Go to Victoria Hamilton's blog, and leave her a nice comment - then leave a comment here to tell me that you did so - 1 entry
Follow me on Twitter @PrincesPolkadot, and leave a comment here telling me that you've done so - 1 entry.

The giveaway will close on Monday, June 18, at 12 AM EST.  I'll choose a winner on Tuesday, June 19th!

Even if you don't win, if you like well-plotted books with excellent character development, seasoned with a smattering of vintage baking - go get yourself a copy, anyway!

(I'm going to go keep a closer eye on the cats.  And speculate on what other bits of my collection might end up in the next book.... ;-)


Saturday, June 2, 2012

First on the First - Churros!

Why, yes.  I am really late with this post!  Not only that, but I have yet another confession.  This is not my first time making churros.  It's not even my first time making churros.  In fact, churros and me - we go way back.

The Spanish textbook I had in 7th and 8th grade was entitled "Churros y Chocolate" and my teacher, Mrs. Nuzum, extolled the virtues of the fried treats and the rich, thick Spanish chocolate they were served with.  She described it as something between hot cocoa and chocolate pudding.  It doesn't have any cinnamon - it doesn't need it.  (Don't worry - you'll end up getting cinnamon IN the chocolate from the churros.)  Ever since then, I pout whenever I see churros for sale without the chocolate.  I was even disappointed at a certain Florida theme park to find that theirs came with plain old hot cocoa.

Note:  Spanish chocolate is nothing like hot cocoa.  And you really need the chocolate.  Honest.
These churros are a variation on the pate a choux from Chef Coppedge's Gluten Free Baking with the Culinary Institute of America.

Churros

1/4 c. water
4 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp millet flour
3 Tbsp white rice flour
1 Tbsp potato starch
1 Tbsp tapioca starch
1 Tbsp whey powder
1 Tbsp guar gum
4 eggs

Combine all the flours and starches, as well as the whey powder, and mix well.  Set aside.
In a saucepan, bring butter, water, and salt to a boil.  Add flour, mix well, then stir and cook for 1 minute.  Don't allow the mixture to brown, but cook until it all comes together into a solid mass.
Place the mixture into a stand mixture and turn on low, mixing until batter cools somewhat.  While it's mixing, add guar gum by sprinkling over the batter.  Add eggs, one at a time, until mixture comes together into a smooth batter.

Load the batter into a piping bag fitted with a star tip.

Heat oil in a deep fryer to 360 degrees.  Pipe batter in strips into oil.  It's OK if they curl.  Real churros have curls.

Cook till golden brown on both sides, then place on a rack over paper towels to drain.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Chocolate

3 oz Unsweetened chocolate (the best quality you can find)
1 1/2 c. milk
5 Tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp cornstarch

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt chocolate in 1 c. of milk.  In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cornstarch.  Stir in the remaining 1/2 c. milk.  Add the sugar mixture to the melted chocolate mixture and cook until thickened and just beginning to boil.

Don't forget to dip!