Friday 31 January 2014

Tomato Soup Cake vs. The Great Canadian Heinz Ketchup Cake

The Great Canadian Ketchup Cake

A couple of years ago, I posted the recipe for the caker classic, Tomato Soup Cake. Well, actually, I posted two: Vera’s recipe and Gwen’s recipe, both of Melfort, Saskatchewan. I did a taste test and Vera walked away the champ.

Last year, I posted the recipe for The Great Canadian Heinz Ketchup Cake, which tasted pretty good. Some people thought it tasted better than Tomato Soup Cake. That got me thinking.

Toronto Star food editor, Corey Mintz, recently had me over for a caker dinner party. Corey’s a bit on the fancy side. (He’s the Grey Poupon to my French’s mustard.) But dang if he didn’t put on a good spread!

Tomato Soup Cake

I'm talking Broccoli CasseroleBaked Frankfurters and Taco Salad Casserole. The only thing missing was an episode of Hee Haw playing in the background. He also made something fancy with Cream of Wheat. I can’t remember the name, but I’m pretty sure it started with “Le.”

For dessert, I brought a Tomato Soup Cake and a Ketchup Cake, each topped with cream cheese icing. Then I asked the guests to pick their favourite.

So which cake won?

Vera, I hope Melfort realizes they’ve got a Martha Stewartson in their midst. Tomato Soup cake was the hands-down winner. Some said it was the nuts. Some said it was the raisins. Folks, it's the soup.

Check out Corey’s caker column here.

P.S. Get ready for Reader Recipe Month starting Monday!

Thursday 30 January 2014

Caker Cooking in The Toronto Star!

Recently, I had dinner with Toronto Star food editor, Corey Mintz. He's one of those "gourmet" types. You know, cloth napkins instead of paper towels. Did I convert him to the joys of caker cooking? You be the judge.

Monday 27 January 2014

Vegetable Casserole

The Caker Code of Conduct (CCC) is the belief system that the recipes in our cookbooks are tried-and-true; that the person submitting the recipe has made it over and over again to the delight of family and friends.

Recently, I was flipping through my cookbooks when a name jumped out: my own mother’s name. The recipe she’d submitted was Vegetable Casserole.

Immediately, something seemed off. I couldn’t remember eating this. (Neither did my sister.) Vegetables never took centre stage in our house. A quick scan of the ingredients confirmed my doubts. Fresh broccoli and cauliflower? Cook them separately? I could only wonder – was my own mother guilty of breaking the Caker Code of Conduct? I had no other choice than to make it, take it to her and try to get a confession.

“Here's some Vegetable Casserole,” I said. “Does it sound familiar?”


“This is the cookbook it came from.”

She scanned the page. “Oh, that Broccoli Casserole looks good.”

I pointed out her name. “Vegetable Casserole is your recipe! Only I don't think you ever made it.”

She frowned and passed the cookbook back. “How am I supposed to remember? I made a lot of casseroles over the years.”

Then she proceeded to ask if the colour of my pants were popular among gay men and if I wore that much cologne to work. She also wondered aloud why my fruitcake never turns out as good as my father’s.

I put two and three together. I think there’s a CCC-breaker in the family. I'm going to need some time to process this.

1 fresh cauliflower
1 fresh broccoli
1 can mushrooms
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Heat oven to 325°. Partially cook cauliflower and broccoli separately for 10 minutes. (See note.) Mix together cream soups, sour cream and mayonnaise. In buttered casserole dish, layer broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms. Pour soup mixture over top. Sprinkle cheese on top. Cover and bake for 20-30 minutes.

Note: "Partially" cook the vegetables for 10 minutes? Maybe this is my mom’s recipe.

P.S. The main photo is a bit misleading because once you mix the layers, it looks like this. Can you blame me for wanting some colour on this blog?

P.P.S. My mom called tonight to tell me how much she loved the Vegetable Casserole I made her. Her caker ears must've been burning. Or she's feeling guilty about the fruitcake thing.

Source: St. Luke’s United Church Cookbook

Sunday 26 January 2014

February is Reader Recipe Month!

This blog ain't a one-caker show. It takes two: me and you. (Actually, it takes three: me, you and a package of Tums.)

That's why I'm christening February as Reader Recipe Month. This is your chance to send me the horrible tasty recipes you have in your collection. I'll make them, eat them, post them on the blog and then you'll become one of those "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" people.

Send your recipes to cakercooking at gmail dot com and I'll do my best to feature it in the coming weeks.

Bun appetito!


Monday 20 January 2014

Sloppy Joes

Living in this fast-paced modern world is challenging for most cakers. Why, just yesterday, I had to return my VHS copy of On Golden Pond to the video store. Then I had to go the Regis Salon at the mall to get my tips frosted. Then I had to go to bowling. All this before 5pm! The last thing I had time for when I got home was forming beef patties.

Thank god for Sloppy Joes. You get all the goodness of a hamburger with a fraction of the effort. Even the condiments are included in the mixture! Just remember to tie a tea towel around your neck. They don’t call them "sloppy" for no reason. I’ve got the stained coveralls to prove it.

These call for Campbell’s Chicken Gumbo soup, which may take some cakers out of their Cream-of-Mushroom comfort zones. But there’s a world of condensed soups out there, just waiting to be added to ground meat. As Proust said: The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon chopped onions
1 can chicken gumbo soup
2 tablespoons mustard
2 tablespoons chopped celery
2 tablespoons relish
2 tablespoons ketchup
Mushrooms (optional)

Brown ground beef and onion in fry pan. Add remaining ingredients. Serve on toasted hamburger buns.

Source: St. Luke’s United Church Cookbook

Monday 13 January 2014

Health Squares

The other day, as I was lying on my back, trying to do up the zipper of my Sergio Valente jeans with a coat hanger, I wondered, “Have I gained weight?” 

I mean, it’s true I’ve been eating too much Green Bean Casserole for breakfast lately. And my muffin top has become more of a muffin flop. And, if I’m going to be completely honest, I’ve been skipping Jazzercise class since, well, last April.

But a new year is upon us and I’m embracing a healthier way of living. It’s possible, even for low-motivation people like me. And I’m starting right here, with the wholesome deliciousness of these Health Squares.

Have you ever seen anything so packed with nature’s bounty? These have peanuts! And Rice Krispies! And peanut butter! And, uh…chocolate chips!

Wait a minute. What exactly makes these healthy?

Oh, right. Honey.

Any time a caker recipe calls for honey instead of white sugar, we get to call it health food. If only the rest of the world lived by our rules, it'd be a much happier place. Sayonara, coat hanger! I’m trading in my Sergio Valentes for a good dose of denial and a pair of blue leotards.  

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup honey
1 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups Rice Krispies
½ cup peanuts

Melt peanut butter and honey. Mix chocolate chips, vanilla, Rice Krispies and peanuts together. Stir both mixes together well. Place in a 9x13 pan and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Cut into squares.

Source: Culinary Creations Down The Line, Interprovincial Pipe Line Company

Monday 6 January 2014

Magic Cake

Most of the recipes in my cookbooks have a name (usually, a woman’s) attached to them. I don’t include the names because I’m sure the last thing these women were expecting was to have their recipes featured on a caker website. Plus, you never want an angry church woman coming after you. They can run pretty fast.

Recently, one of my favourite writers, Alice Munro, won the Nobel Prize for Literature, after which every person living in a small Southern Ontario town looked up from their loom, turned towards the nearest urban centre and said, “Suck it.”

Alice’s maiden name was Laidlaw and she was born in a town called Wingham. When I came across this Magic Cake recipe, I got a little excited. It was submitted by a Laidlaw in Wingham. While it’s not Alice, I can only assume it’s her kin.

As far as the recipe, it wasn’t so magical. The sweetened condensed milk is the glue that holds it all together. If I wanted coconut and maraschino cherries, I’d sooner have a Hello Dolly. Plus, it was expensive to make (Alice’s kin must be wealthy). And there’s nothing cake-like about it. Folks, don’t call something cake if it’s not cake. You’re only setting people up for disappointment. But it tasted pretty good.

All of this is to say that I’d bet my last packet of JELL-O that Alice Munro is a caker. And when you believe a Nobel Prize winner has probably enjoyed a good mountain of Watergate Salad in her day, well, let’s just say the sky seems a little more open for the rest of us.

1 pound dates (cut up)
1 pound dry cherries (red and green)
½ pound walnuts
1 pound coconut
½ teaspoon salt
1 can Eagle Brand milk

Mix all together and bake in oven at 350° until golden brown.

Note: I used a 9 x 13 pan.

Source: Celebration Cookbook, Canadian Bible Society