The Mad Clipper
I’ve read a fair amount about the trials and tribulations of downsizing. Well, I finally succumbed, and the nightmare has turned into a fascinating visit to my past. Are you a collector of recipes and clips about cooking? I was—big time. I should have had a T-shirt with “The Mad Clipper” emblazoned on the chest, along with some artwork of a vegetable mélange. I always said that when we were snowed in I was going to get that big box out and go through the contents, sort by category, ingredients, etc. It was truly madness to have collected these clippings only to find that they were eventually collected online or in annual books.
It is fascinating, particularly in the produce area, to see how many new shapes, sizes, and types of vegetables and fruit are available at the local supermarkets, not to mention the proliferation found at farmers and growers markets. And the freshness and the thrill of buying direct from the farmer at the markets in the area is such a joy. As I looked through the rather ratty piles of stuff I collected and dragged around for the past forty-odd years, I realized cooking and ingredients have changed. I must say back a few years ago I very rarely saw kale, for instance. Today it seems to be in every food magazine. (I’m not a huge fan, even though I know it is prized for its good-for-you content.)
The recipes in this month’s pages are, literally, a steal—or was it Providence that allowed one menu column to fall out of the big pile I was consigning to that black garbage bag? I picked it up as it uttered to the floor. It was from a magazine that no longer exists called American Home and it was an idea for an autumn brunch to feed six generously. Well, it seemed ideal for this season as well, and just perfect when you’ve got summer friends in for a weekend of outdoor adventure, or perhaps glass lovers, or wine lovers. Or lover lovers.
Whatever the season or the reason, send the guests off well-fortified for the hike, the photo ops, the Rieslings, the glass-filled display cases, or the shop-til-you-drop lure of the finery in our local retail establishments. Remember the line “never visit a winery on an empty stomach?” Hum, I just made it up. But it is a good one to ponder. And you can quote me.
Here ’tis, and get the guests to help with the happy chores.
Apple Slices Poached in Maple Syrup
We open with a nod toward two stars in the local culinary firmament: apples and maple syrup. They are a delicious combination—and I’ve been using this idea for breakfast or as a dessert for years.
- 5-6 firm tart apples, pared, cored, and sliced into rings (I use Granny Smith)
- 1 c. pure maple syrup (preferably New York or Pennsylvania)
- 1⁄2 c. heavy cream, whipped
- Ground nutmeg (I prefer freshly ground to the dried version)
Place apples and syrup in a large saucepan. Cover. Simmer about 10 minutes, or until just tender. Test with the tip of a knife. Cool. Chill. Serve with whipped cream or crème fraiche and a dash of nutmeg.
Cheddar Cheese Scrambled Eggs
Here’s another chance to use our local products—the cheese, of course, and local eggs. Cluck, cluck. Please note: the eggs will continue to cook after placed on a (warm) serving platter, so heed me and slightly undercook them. I cannot stand dried-out eggs. Can you tell I’ve lately spent two breakfasts in the hospital? (A minor issue.) You can always add some meat to this; keep reading.
- 12 eggs
- 1⁄2 c. whole milk
- 2 c. (8-oz. package) sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
- 2 tsp. chopped chives
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1⁄4 tsp. freshly grated pepper
- 4 Tbsp. butter
Using a wire whisk, beat eggs in a large mixing bowl until they are well blended but not foamy. Add milk, cheese, chives, salt, pepper, then blend well. (Honest admission: I sometimes use half milk, half heavy cream, or half and half. Play around for more or less richness.)
Keeping heat low, cook half the egg mixture at a time. Cook about 5 minutes or until eggs are thickened throughout but still moist. Stir occasionally during cooking. Repeat with remaining eggs and butter.
Even Better Eggs
I place the eggs on a platter and top them with sausages or crisp bacon strips that I cooked earlier and kept warm in a low oven. Next to the platter I place a pie server and serving spoon. As to the sausages, my very favorite are those guys about twice as big around as the link variety. They used to be made by First Prize out of Albany. In my much-younger days it was my job to jab the tip of a knife in several places on the sausage to release the excess, but not all, of the fat. Oh my, but they were good. I’ll have to start searching for these again, but there are other choices today, particularly the gourmet chicken and spiced varieties, that would work well in our menu. Go for it! Remember to add a knife to the place setting.
Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Oh how I love to come into someone’s house—even mine—with the aroma of a freshly baked cake in the air. This is easy and delicious.
- 1⁄2 c. butter (Only real butter for me. In 1968, the option was margarine—fie on those who wrote this!)
- 1 c. sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 c. dairy sour cream
- 2 c. sifted all-purpose flour
- 1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla
- 1⁄2 c. chopped nuts (I like pecans or walnuts)
- 2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch tube pan. Combine butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat until light and fluffy, or until your arm gives out (joking!).
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in sour cream. Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder together. Blend into creamed mixture gradually; add vanilla and blend well.
Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Combine nuts, the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle half the cinnamon mixture over the batter in the pan. Spoon in remaining batter and top with remaining cinnamon mixture. Bake 50 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool thoroughly on wire rack.
Thus fortified, our merry band heads out.