The Taste of Country Cooking: Summer Dishes
June 2007 Cookbook of the Month: The Taste of Country Cooking, by Edna Lewis.
Please post your full-length reviews of recipes from the section on the Summer dishes here.
Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.
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I don't know what time of year this qualifies for but . . .
the excellent Very Good Chocolate Cake, linked from the WaPo
It is very fine crumb and light. This is a great cake for adults, 'cause it's not too too crazy sweet. The shortening is peanut oil, and 1 c stong coffee is one of the ingredients. I used thick yogurt for sour cream, and iced it with a white butter/cream cheese "boiled frosting" instead of chocolate.
This is a great chocolate cake, and the boiled frosting is designed to hold up to heat and humidity.
My white frosting discussion:
I made the Yellow Vanilla Pound Cake from the Early Summer Lunch menu (page 63-64). Its supposed to be made by hand with a wooden spoon in a mixing bowl - I've never made a cake by hand so I made it in my kitchenaid mixer. And the butter was supposed to be cold, but I didn't know how that would work. So I used slightly softened butter and beat it in the mixer for a while. Once it gets soft it gets warm, so I don't quite understand that methodology. Otherwise I followed the directions as written. Its cooked in a slow oven, 300 deg for 40 minutes and 325 deg for 20 minutes.
The cake came out very nice with a nice crisp top. The flavor is wonderful, very vanilla. Its a little dry, not excessively so, but just a bit. But eating it with a cup of coffee is a very nice experience and I recommend this cake recipe.
I haven't made that particular cake, but I was extrapolating from pastry.
I just happen to make a tart crust (Sicilian) where you melt the butter
(hey, it's hot in Sicilia!) so it was particularly in my head.
Re: the crumb, the holes would be bigger and more uneven, just like the effect in a pastry crust. Fer instance, big bits of butter gives you flakiness in a croissant.
Does she tell you what size she wants the butter to end up when you are beating it by hand?
She says to put the cold butter in a large mixing bowl and work it with a wooden spoon until it becomes shiny, about 5 minutes.
Then she wants you to add the sugar and mix until well mixed, and until it loses most of the gritty feeling.
It seems to me that the butter wouldn't be cold at that point anymore, so you may as well start with soft butter.
In any case, I liked the crumb on the cake the way I made it, so all is well.
How is the sweetness level? Sounds a tad sweet, I tend to lower sugar levels in many cake recipes. I wonder if that is what causes the crunchy top? Also, I dont want to buy a 9 inch tube pan as I have a 10 inch. I suppose I could reduce the baking time by 5-8 minutes to compensate?
I am an irregular baker of cakes...
It is sweet, but not overly so - I like it sweet, but I don't see why you couldn't try making it less sweet.
I thought the 9" tube pan was too big for the amount of batter. Usually when I make a cake in a tube pan I expect it to be as tall as the pan. However, this cake doesn't rise much, so it only filled the lower third of the pan.
I think a loaf pan would work nicely, I might try that next time.
I made the Sweet Potato Casserole a few days ago. It was very good and simple to make. I wasn't sure what "rich" milk meant--I assumed whole, but I used evaporated. I used less liquid than called for in the recipe, and I think it is a bit too much. I think you can use a little less than 1/2 the milk called for in the recipe. Also, given the cooking time, I dont think its necessary to pre-boil the sweet potatoes. I microwaved the sweet potatoes for a few minutes and it was fine. In sum, I liked the final outcome.
Casserole of Sage-Flavored Pork Tenderloin (p. 105)
I only cooked one tenderloin since it is just the two of us. A simple main course - rub the pork with crushed sage, roll in melted butter, and dust with flour. I baked it in a pyrex dish with 1/3 cup of water and three crushed garlic cloves, loosely covered with tinfoil. I only basted it once or twice, but cooked it for a shorter period of time as I like my pork still pink and juicy. Even though it's such a simple dish, the slices of tender pork went very well with its side dishes of glazed carrots (p.254) and flageolet gratin (Sunday Suppers) - the whole meal made a nice dinner tonight.
Nothin’ says summer just a big fat ear of corn…
See what I’m talking about… just a beautiful thing… That is why when I was thumbing through a Taste of Country Cooking, I instantly stopped at the recipe for Corn Pudding… It was something I had to try…
Now, I’ve had Indian Pudding… which I love! But it’s rather heavy and a little bit time consuming to make. This recipe seemed so simple. Like all her recipes… the ingredients were just the BARE minimum… I wondered if I would like this as much as the Corn Meal and Molasses flavor of Indian Pudding…
But enough speculating, I had to unzip some corn…
It was made very easy by placing a small bowl face down in a big bowl and then resting the cob on it… Further, the corn was VERY firm… not very juicy… I wondered if it would effect the overall result..
I mixed all ingredients… Eggs, Butter, Sugar and Milk and put it in a water bath and set it baking…
I did make it in a pan that was different from what the recipe called for, so I cooked it until pretty firm… It looked REALLY nice! :D
And finally we were ready for dessert!!
Overall, I like it.. it would have been a little better if it was smoother (the kernels were still very crunchy, but well cooked!), but the overall flavors worked so well… creamy, buttery and sweet! A truly great summer dessert! :D