Chocolate Bread Pudding

When I was a kid, and we had stale bread (rare to have any bread with all those mouths…), Mom would whip up a batch of chocolate bread pudding. In fact, it wasn’t until after Peg and I married that I found out about bread pudding that didn’t have chocolate! Protected life, I guess. (And I strongly suspect Dad arbitrarily declared bread as “stale” whenever he wanted some pudding…).

For some reason I never got the recipe for that. My sisters are going to come back with “well I have it”, but I’ve come up with a recipe that I think comes close. It leans very heavily on a recipe I found online:

This was excellent, but I increased the chocolate by 25%, the bread by about 30%, and subtly added butter by heavily buttering the baking dish. The original recipe also called for white bread with crusts removed (far too posh), while I opted for a 50 cent day-old loaf of Italian bread, crusts and all. Far more character, especially with that cornmeal from the baking peel.

Here is my version:

Preheat oven to 350F.

  • 2.5 ounces semi sweet chocolate (Baker’s this time)
  • 1/2 C half and half
  • 2/3 C sugar
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 t vanilla extract (simply Organic is just lovely)
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 4 C bread cubes
  • 1 T salted butter

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, milk, egg, salt, and vanilla extract.

When the chocolate is well melted, stir in the half and half, then combine the chocolate mixture with the milk mixture. Stir in the bread cubes, and let them rest to fully absorb the liquid.

Heavily butter a one quart baking dish (stoneware or glass), leaving the excess in the bottom of the dish. (Subtle, right?)

Bake for 30-40 minutes. A knife in the center should come out nearly clean.

Let it rest for as long as you can stand. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or creme Anglaise. Or all of them.

Cornstarch Pudding

Peggy dredged this up from an ancient text (her recipe book when we were newly wed), and it strikes a chord with me. My grandfather Earle was a chemical engineer, and in one of his early jobs worked for Royal Pudding, developing the specific recipe or “formula” used to make Royal chocolate pudding, or so I was told. I think I know what went into the package…

Combine in saucepan:

For chocolate…

  • 2/3 C sugar
  • 3 T cocoa powder

For vanilla…

  • 1/3 C sugar

For all…

  • 1/4 C cornstarch
  • 1/8 t salt

Whisk dry ingredients together, then whisk in

  • 2 3/4 C milk

Stirring constantly, bring this mixture to a boil. Boil about a minute, until pudding thickens. Let pudding cool slightly, then whisk in:

  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 2 T butter

Serve warm or cold. Pudding can be covered with plastic wrap to prevent the formation of a skin.

The original recipe page

I haven’t made this in years, but it’s a damned inexpensive treat for poor newlyweds!

Evelyn’s Rice Meatballs (Porcupines)

The original recipe card. Sis (Evelyn) typed that up on Peg’s typewriter.

Another recipe dredged from the annals of history. Along with my grandmother’s recipe for doughnuts, this old favorite was found as Peg was rifling through one of her old recipe books. It’s one of very few recipes her mother, Evelyn, ever wrote down.

  • 1 C Minute Rice
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 t grated onion
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 1/2 C tomato juice, divided
  • 1/2 t sugar
  • 1/4 t pepper

Reserve 2 C of tomato juice and sugar. Combine other ingredients. Form into 18 equal-sized meatballs. Place meatballs in a skillet. Mix the sugar and remaining tomato juice, and pour over meatballs.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer covered for 15 minutes, basting occasionally.

Grandma Rose’s Doughnuts

Oh, I remember these from my youth. I never got to meet my maternal grandmother, but Mom used to make these all the time for Dad. I was thinking about them a couple of weeks ago, wondering whether any of my sisters had the recipe. Unfortunately, all three of my sisters have recently moved residence. If they are like me (I suspect as much) the recipe books are hidden away in boxes that won’t be found until the next millennium…

Peg just happened to be thumbing through an old recipe book of hers. Lo and behold, this recipe showed up, along with several other treats from the past, like her mother’s recipe for “rice meatballs”, also known as “porcupine” meatballs. I just call that good karma…

But, for the doughnuts…

Mix together:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 C sour milk
  • 1 1/2 T shortening

Add:

  • 4 C flour
  • 1 3/4 t baking soda
  • 1 3/4 t cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 t nutmeg

For glaze, mix 1/3 C boiling water to 1 C confectioners sugar.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/2 inch thick. Use doughnut cutter to cut doughnuts (and hole!). Re-roll scraps to make more donuts, and the final scraps can be fried as-is odd shapes.

Heat several inches of shortening in a deep skillet or fryer to 350F. Fry doughnuts until golden brown on one side, the flip and fry the other side.

Drain on rack over paper towels. Glaze when cool.

The original – but whose handwriting is that?

Simple Chocolate Sauce

When we were kids, Mom used to make a chocolate sauce for ice cream. I couldn’t remember the recipe so I poked around the web for a bit, found a recipe at https://barefeetinthekitchen.com. Of course I modified it (butter!).

  • 1C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C cocoa powder ( I used Droste)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 C cold water
  • 1T vanilla extract
  • 1T butter

Combine the sugar, cocoa and salt in a small saucepan. Whisk the dry ingredients until all lumps break up. Sift if you lean toward fussy. Stir in the cold water and mix well before applying heat.

Gentle bring to a boil, then simmer for five minutes.

Let cool for a few minutes, then stir in butter and vanilla.

Great over ice cream.

Yield is about two cups, and if you have leftovers, it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

I made a second batch with half of the sugar replaced with corn syrup (just Karo light), hoping to avoid cold crystallization of the sugar. I’ll report back, perhaps with a modified or alternate recipe.

Scalloped potatoes for two

Peg and I don’t eat a whole lot at a time, and we’re headed away for holiday, so I needed to make a small batch of scalloped potatoes for dinner. We always add ham, and I had one on hand.

  • Two medium potatoes
  • 3 T butter, divided
  • 2 T flour
  • 2 C milk
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 C cubed ham

Peel and pare the potatoes thinly.

Melt the butter and flour to form a roux, cooking slightly. Whisk in the milk, add salt and pepper, and bring the mixture to a boil until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Spread 1T butter around the inside of a one-quart casserole.

Place a thin layer of white sauce in the bottom of the casserole. Alternate adding potatoes, cubed ham, and white sauce to fill the casserole.

Cover with foil and bake at 350F For 50 minutes. Uncover and bake another 30 minutes…

We like to serve ham and green beans with it.

Meatballs: ’tis the season, right?

Peggy signed us up for meatballs for the annual W1GZ Holiday Party. W1GZ is the call sign for the Montachusett Amateur Radio Club. Peggy and I are both hams.

So, anyway, Peg did a search and found “The World’s Best Meatballs” from a clever lady named Kristen. Well, never one to leave well enough alone, we slightly modified the recipe ( we wanted a less “Italian” meatball than Kristen was offering) by removing the Parmesan cheese and the garlic, and opting for half beef/half pork in the meat department.

Herewith, I guess we can call them “John’s Best Meatballs”, because they did turn out quite nicely. In fact, I’m doing this post as someone asked for the recipe!

Preheat oven to 450F and grease a large rimmed cookie sheet.

  • 1 # ground pork
  • 1 # ground beef
  • 1/2 C breadcrumbs (I used panko)
  • 1/4 C milk (any %)
  • 1/4 C chopped parsley
  • 1 C beef broth, divided (1/4 C in meatballs)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 T salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • 1 t oregano (one might argue removing this would make it even less “Italian”)
  • 1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes

Combine all but the ground meats in a large bowl, mixing well to form the panade, which will bind the meatballs.

Add the meats and mix until just combined, but not over mixed, which can toughen the meat texture.

Portion and roll meatballs about 1″ in diameter, spacing them closely on the cookie sheet. I use a small portioning scoop to make the work go faster and get better consistency than I manage on my own.

Pour the remaining 3/4 C of beef broth in the cookie sheet, and bake the meatballs for about 25 minutes, turning once halfway through.

The Hawaiian Meatball conclusion

This recipe came from Taste of Home and called for frozen store-bought meatballs, but hey, we can make those, right?

  • 1 20 ounce can unsweetened pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 C packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 C cornstarch
  • 1/2 C cider vinegar
  • 2 green peppers, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 10 ounce jar maraschino cherries, drained
  • 1 recipe of “John’s Best Meatballs”
  • salt and pepper to taste

Reserve the pineapple juice. Add enough water to make two cups. Place the juice, brown sugar, cornstarch and vinegar into a saucepan. Mix well, then heat gently to a boil; cook until the sauce thickens.

Combine the meatballs, peppers, pineapple, and sauce in a slow cooker. Cook on medium until the peppers are tender, mix in the cherries, and serve over white rice if desired.

Mrs. Cheney’s Apple Cake

For as long as I can remember, Mom made “Mrs. Cheney’s Apple Cake”, or a variant thereof.

Mr. Cheney owned and operated Cheney Orchards in Brimfield Massachusetts. I grew up in the adjacent town, Monson, but Dad grew up in Brimfield, and at one time or another, worked in the orchard for Mr. Cheney.

Mrs. Cheney, his clever wife, was a college-educated (nearly scandalous at the time) home-economics teacher in Brimfield. My Aunt Joann had her as a teacher. Well, Mrs. Cheney was the author of a number of (oddly, apple-related) recipes, and I can remember seeing printed recipes for the taking at the orchard when we visited in the fall.

Herewith, Mrs. Cheney’s Apple Cake (one of many variants):

5 apples, pared & sliced (Macintosh preferably)
½ c. sugar
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

Mix together and set aside.

3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs
1 c. oil
1/3 c. orange juice
2 tsp. Vanilla

Mix all ingredients together well.

Grease and flour a bundt pan.

Alternate layers of batter and apples, beginning and ending with batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes (1 ½ hours) or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cranberry Sauce

Peggy is allowing me to make cranberry sauce for dinner at my sister Jackie’s Thanksgiving.

She even found a recipe for me. Most recipes on the web contain cranberries, sugar, orange juice and either ginger, vanilla, nutmeg or something like that.

The recipe was gleaned from the www.jocooks.com website and it’s listed as the worlds best cranberry sauce. We will see and report.

(Later that same day)

Preliminary results are excellent! This is some very tasty sauce!

Thanks, Jo!

Followup: I neglected to add the vanilla called for, and the sauce was none the worse for it. I can’t even think that vanilla would be necessary.

Insofar as we left all of the leftover sauce at my sister’s house, I made a new batch on Friday to appease the spousal unit for whom this blog is named. I measured only the sugar (3/4C) this time, using a 12-ounce bag of cranberries, the zest, juice and pulp of one navel orange, and 1/8 t of nutmeg. No vanilla. The pulp, I opine, adds a bit more flavor and texture to the mix.

We’ll see what the boss says…

Apple Turnovers

Not so much a recipe as a story. This is take two of my adventure. My first pass resulted in giant lifeless (yet tasty) masses of dough.

This time I did better, not the least of which is that I only used two apples. I bought a package of Pepperidge Farms puff pastry dough. I rolled the squares out to about ten inches, then cut those into quarters. I put some apple mixture in the middle of the squares. Wet two edges with water, and folded one corner over to form a triangle. I did not do a good job sealing, and was glad to have used parchment!

I also used an egg wash.

Baked at 400F for about 12 minutes.

The apple mixture was two peeled and pared Macintosh apples, about 1/3 C sugar, a dash each of cinnamon and nutmeg, and half a dash of ground clove, mixed well to coat the apples.