Caring. About Food.
A Playing With Food and Mom & Me companion journal
with tips, recipes and musings
about how I tempt my Ancient One's palate.
Click Here for Introduction.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Christmas 2007 Recipes
    Since the Sauerbraten recipe resides in the 1997 edition of Joy of Cooking {page 668-669} I won't challenge the copyright and publish the recipe here. A few comments I want to make about my own preparation.
  1. Our roast marinated a little over five days. I read somewhere that the longer the roast marinates, the deeper the flavor, which I'm sure is true. One recipe I chanced across on the web recommended a seven day soak; another a 14 day soak. I guess I was well within outer marinating limits.
  2. I used a chuck roast measuring a little over four pounds. It took four hours on barely a simmer (which the recipe recommended) to braise the roast to the point of almost falling apart.
  3. I did, indeed, add 1/2 cup of crushed gingersnaps (out of the box; a generic brand) to the gravy. I imagine some people would enjoy the flavor. My mother did. It was a little too sweet for my taste.
    • Regarding this step, I reduced the liquid left from roasting a bit too much, although no more than the recipe called for, down to "2 to 3 cups". At this stage, the sauce without the gingersnaps was what I consider a good consistency for a slightly thick meat sauce. Adding the gingersnaps thickened it almost immediately beyond the point of what I would consider likable gravy. Take into consideration that I'm not a gravy fan and rarely make or serve it. This gravy, though, was so thick it could have been served as a meat pudding side dish.
    • I did not add the suggested "1 tablespoon red currant jelly or brown sugar" to the gravy.
    • I did not sieve the gravy in order to smooth it, thus, it was hearty with bits of pan drippings, meat and the minced vegetables used to flavor the braising liquid.
  4. Although the recipe recommends browning the roast "over medium-high heat", I found this a little too hot for the described subtle, 20 minute browning "on all sides". Almost immediately after placing the roast in to Dutch oven, I removed it, turned the burner down to medium (my burner setting goes from "Low {1}" to "High {11}" with "Medium" falling at the sixth setting), gave the pan about 10 minutes to cool, then browned the meat.
  5. I used gin instead of crushed juniper berries. I bought the gin in one of those "single serving" bottles and added the entire bottle to the marinade. I think that comes to 1.5 oz, maybe a little more. I'm not sure this made much difference in the final flavor.
  6. Some months ago I had a bad experience with using dry red table wine in a beef stew. Although I followed the recipe's recommendation for the amount of wine to add, the stew had such an overwhelming wine flavor that Mom and I found the it inedible. This time I used red cooking wine, which I assume is a somewhat lower grade than table wine. To my taste, it was perfect.
  7. I followed a pot roast family tradition in that I added large chunks of traditional pot roast vegetables to the roast during the last hour and a half of cooking, as follows:
    • potatoes, quartered, an hour and a half before the end of the braising;
    • chunked carrots at an hour before the end; quartered Bermuda onions at 40 minutes before the end; a quarter of a head of cabbage, cut in half, 20 minutes before the end.
    None of the vegetables overcooked or fell apart at these time limits.
    I found the Rum Date Sauce recipe for the dessert on the web on the page linked to its name. I read through several recipes, including commentary on some of them, before I decided on this one. I chose this because of the use of cornstarch, and very little at that. I doubled the recipe and followed it exactly except:
  1. I used chopped dates instead of raisins.
  2. I used dark brown sugar instead of granulated sugar.
  3. I used blackstrap rum, the darkest rum available.
  4. We stored the left over sauce in the refrigerator, heated it in the microwave for a minute on high a couple of days later and used it again with great success.
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Family Date Bar Recipe
    This recipe is not a typical date bar recipe, although it's the first one to which I was exposed as a child, so it came as a shock to me, several years later, that most people think of date bars as a sort of date jam baked between layers of a sort of oat streusel. If you like dates, this is the date bar recipe you want to try. A woman for whom I used to babysit made these. This is her recipe. When I asked her for it, she wrote it from memory onto a blue index card. I've never seen its like, before or since, outside our household, so I'm betting that she originated the recipe. Sometime within the next few days I'll be making this with dried apricots and toasted, slice almonds; and serving it with an Brandy Apricot Sauce, based on the above Rum Raisin Sauce recipe, but substituting Apricot Brandy for the rum, Apricots for the raisins and using granulated sugar instead of dark brown sugar. I'll report back on the results.

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/8 tsp salt

Other Dry Ingredients:
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups chopped dates
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Dry Ingredients Preparation:
    Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and spice.

Wet Ingredients:
3 eggs
½ cup butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla

Wet Ingredients Preparation:
    Beat butter and sugar until fluffy and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat with each addition. Add vanilla and beat a little more.

Inclusion Preparation:
    Add the flour, baking powder, salt and spice mixture to the wet ingredients a little at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula. Stir only until moistened.
    Quickly fold in dates and nuts.
    Pour batter into a 9" x 13" baking pan lightly coated with non-stick cooking spray.
    Bake in preheated 325° oven for 25 minutes until golden brown.
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