Monday 29 April 2013

Black Forest Squares

Ever since whatshisname with the wig and wooden false teeth chopped down his cherry tree, cakers have had a love affair with cherries, especially when they come in a can of gloopy, varnishy pie filling. Just consider some of the recipes I've already featured: Dump Cake, Coca Cola Salad and Easy Peasy Cherry Pie.

Cakers’ love of cherries explains why Black Forest cake is probably one of our favourites, especially when it comes from the grocery store under a plastic dome with an orange “Reduced for Quick Sale” sticker slapped on the side. Mmm. Can’t you just taste those disintegrating mountains of whipped cream and chocolately shavings now? Someone get me $4.99 and a fork!

Unlike the cake, these Black Forest Squares (although they're more cakeish than squareish) put the cherry pie filling into the batter. The result? Pretty much the dampest cake you’ll ever come across. And who doesn’t like damp? Unless, of course, it’s gym socks, your cellar or the back of your thighs on a July day while sitting on the vinyl-covered seat of a Chevette, wondering if Mother is ever going to come out of the bingo hall.

1 chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 can cherry pie filling
1 container chocolate icing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In bowl, mix first 4 ingredients together until well blended. Pour mixture into greased 10x15 inch pan (see note) and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove, let cool and ice with chocolate icing.

Note: 10x15? Who has a 10x15 pan? I used a 9x13 instead.

Source: Royal Recipes For the Love of Tiny Hearts, Children’s Hospital Foundation, Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec

HEY! May marks the TWO-YEAR anniversary of Caker Cooking! I’ve got a month-long special in the works that you won’t want to miss, so check back next week for all cakery good times.

Monday 22 April 2013

Pineapple Casserole

As a simple Canadian caker coming from a country with only 10 11 12 provinces, I often find keeping track of all those U.S. states confusing. I mean, Alabama, New York, Wisconsin, Miami. There's just so many of them.

I have some American Caker Cooking readers, so I like to give both of them a shout out every now and then by featuring a recipe from their land. This week’s recipe comes from a place called Lake Hasavu in Arizona. For those Canadians who don’t know where Arizona is, it’s that rocky place where the Brady Bunch went on vacation.

Just to add to my American confusion, this Pineapple Casserole is made with canned pineapple chunks, Ritz crackers and cheese. That's pretty much it. I mean, where’s the ground beef? The cream-of-something soup? Where’s the salt, for crying out loud?!?

Enough whining. Pineapple Casserole is tasty enough in that weird fruit-and-cheese kind of way. For all I know, it could be a popular dish in Arizona. But next time, I think I'll opt for pork chaps and appleshach.

4 cans Dole pineapple, well drained or 2 larger cans of other brand
1 ½ cups grated cheese
2/3 cup crushed Ritz crackers
5 tablespoons flour
1 stick margarine, melted

This makes a large batch – 9x9” Pyrex casserole pan (square). Serves 12-16. (May use smaller pan and make ½ batch for family size.

Place pineapple evenly over bottom of pan. Mix flour with grated cheese and sprinkle over pineapple. Sprinkle crushed Ritz crackers (or substitute salt-free crackers). Pour melted margarine over, bake 30 min. at 350 degrees. Good served hot with a meat course or later served either hot or cold as a snack or dessert.

Source: Havasu Regional Hospital Auxiliary, Lake Hasavu City, Arizona

Monday 15 April 2013

Patsy ReCline’s Dingle Hoofers

Sometimes, fellow cakers send me cookbooks. I suppose it makes them feel like one more cross-eyed doll from the Island of Misfit Toys has found a child to love it. When Caker Cooking reader, Adam, emailed to say he had something I might be interested in, I figured it’d probably be another church lady cookbook to add to my collection.

The cookbook was filled with ladies, all right – only their names were “Dawn Valley Parkway” and “Tammy Wynotte.” A 1993 fund raising project for Casey House (an AIDS hospice in Toronto), But Can She Cook?, features drag queens in all their hairy-armed fabulousness posing alongside their favourite recipes.

I opted for Patsy ReCline’s Dingle Hoofers because a) I look good in cowboy boots, and b) I haven’t had a good dingle in I don’t know how long. Not only were Patsy’s Dingle Hoofers delicious (they're like a pie without the filling), they made me consider a whole new category of caker cooking: gayker cooking.

The book’s creator told me Patsy passed away before the cookbook was published, which is all the more poignant given its cause. Patsy, wherever you are, I hope the cowboys are cute, the air smells like a Saskatchewan wheat field and this is playing on repeat.

Thanks, Adam! And thanks to Christopher and George for letting me use their words and photography.

Pie dough (your favourite recipe) (See note)
Softened butter
Brown sugar
Nutmeg (optional)

Dingle Hoofers are an old country finger snack that’s as fine as frogs’ hair. This recipe is handy as hip pockets on a hog, so keep in mind next time you’re hankering for a snack, you’ll eat ‘em up, Take your room temperature pie dough and roll it out until it is approximately 1/8” thick. Spread your softened butter on the dough, being sure you have covered the whole area. Now you can sprinkle on the brown sugar as liberally or sparingly as you like. Be careful not to overload this with mounds of sugar because you won’t be able to roll the dough without it breaking apart. Be sure to add the cinnamon for flavour. Roll your dough, then slice into bite size pieces. Flatten pieces slightly. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake until golden brown (15-20 minutes) in a preheated 350° oven. Cool on your open window sill, but careful no rascals come by and grab ‘em!

Note: Uh, Pillsbury

Source: But Can She Cook?
Text by Christopher North
Photography by George Leet

Monday 8 April 2013

Hamburger Helper Soup

Cakers know their way around ground beef like nobody’s business. With a single pound, my mother could make a casserole, a meatloaf, a burger for the next day’s lunch and a pair of earrings – plus use the Styrofoam tray for chocolate haystacks to take to the next church bakesale.

When it came to full-course dinners, Hamburger Helper helped her hamburger help her make a great meal. (Think about that line too much and your brain starts to hurt bad.) One package of Hamburger Helper provided our family with meat, noodles, a gravy-type liquid and a small mountain of sodium. That's all four caker food groups!

Vegetables aside, this soup is mighty tasty. It comes from the Victorian Order of Nurses cookbook. VONs are nurses who travel to people's homes. Changing a crusty bandage in a hospital is one thing; changing it in someone’s living room is a whole other skill set. I raise my caker fork to the good work VONs do across the land every day. I hope there’s a steaming bowl of Hamburger Helper soup waiting when you get home.

1 lb. ground beef
½ cup onion, chopped
1 package beef noodle Hamburger Helper
5 cups water
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon salt (see note)
½ teaspoon pepper
1 (19 ounce) can whole tomatoes
300 gram package frozen vegetables or 2 cups cooked vegetables

Brown ground beef and onion in large saucepan; drain. Stir in sauce mix, water, bay leaf, salt, pepper and tomatoes with liquid; break up tomatoes with fork. Heat to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat. Cover; simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in noodles and vegetables. Return to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover; cook for 10 minutes longer. Remove bay leaf.

Note: I didn't add the salt or I would've been up all night drinking from the garden hose. Again.

Source: Victorian Order of Nurses, Quinte Branch, 95th Anniversary Cookbook

Monday 1 April 2013

Ragged Robins

Elderly cakers love dates. Maybe it’s because dates are high in fibre. Or the chewiness helps seniors exercise their jaw muscles. But I think the real reason is because when the elderly see a date, they think it's chocolate.

In any case, head to any mall food court catering to an over-80 set and you’ll find crowds of white-haired folks, washing down date squares, date loaves and date turnovers with cups of bad coffee and saying, “Begya pardon?” a lot.

If you have any elderly cakers in your life, these Ragged Robins will be as welcome as a Lawrence Welk rerun. That’s because they have dates. And walnuts. (Don’t even get me started on how much the elderly love walnuts). They also have cornflakes, which I guess is where the “ragged” part comes in. While the elderly might appreciate that little bit o’ crunch, I could’ve done without the cornflakes. And the dates.

Just don’t tell my food court friends.

PS – These look like bird poop, which must be where the "robin" part comes in.

Beat 2 egg whites until they stand up in peaks then gradually beat in ½ cup fine granulated white sugar, beating between additions.
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sliced, pitted dates
½ cup chopped walnuts
2 ½ cups crisp Corn Flakes
Mix lightly together and drop by small spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a moderate oven at 350° until firm and lightly browned.

Source: What’s Cooking Trinity United Church